Index 
Texts adopted
Wednesday, 13 April 2016 - StrasbourgFinal edition
Mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund: application EGF/2015/009 SE/Volvo Trucks
 Mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund: EGF/2016/000 TA 2016/Technical assistance at the initiative of the Commission
 Draft Amending Budget No 1/ 2016 : New instrument to provide emergency support within the Union
 Nomination of a member of the Court of Auditors – Samo Jereb
 Nomination of a member of the Court of Auditors – Mihails Kozlovs
 Nomination of a member of the Court of Auditors – Jan Gregor
 Nomination of a member of the Court of Auditors – Ladislav Balko
 Nomination of a member of the Court of Auditors – Janusz Wojciechowski
 Renewal of the approval of the active substance glyphosate
 The EU in a changing global environment – a more connected, contested and complex world
 Implementation and review of the EU-Central Asia Strategy
 Zika virus outbreak
 Situation in Poland

Mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund: application EGF/2015/009 SE/Volvo Trucks
PDF 267kWORD 76k
Resolution
Annex
European Parliament resolution of 13 April 2016 on the proposal for a decision of the European Parliament and of the Council on the mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (application from Sweden – EGF/2015/009 SE/Volvo Trucks) (COM(2016)0061 – C8-0033/2016 – 2016/2022(BUD))
P8_TA(2016)0111A8-0077/2016

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Commission proposal to the European Parliament and the Council (COM(2016)0061 – C8‑0033/2016),

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 1309/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 December 2013 on the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (2014-2020) and repealing Regulation (EC) No 1927/2006(1) (EGF Regulation),

–  having regard to Council Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 1311/2013 of 2 December 2013 laying down the multiannual financial framework for the years 2014-2020(2), and in particular Article 12 thereof,

–  having regard to the Interinstitutional Agreement of 2 December 2013 between the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission on budgetary discipline, on cooperation in budgetary matters and on sound financial management(3) (IIA of 2 December 2013), and in particular point 13 thereof,

–  having regard to the trilogue procedure provided for in point 13 of the IIA of 2 December 2013,

–  having regard to the letter of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs,

–  having regard to the letter of the Committee on Regional Development,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgets (A8-0077/2016),

A.  whereas the Union has set up legislative and budgetary instruments to provide additional support to workers who are suffering from the consequences of major structural changes in world trade patterns or of the global financial and economic crisis and to assist their reintegration into the labour market;

B.  whereas the Union’s financial assistance to workers made redundant should be dynamic and made available as quickly and efficiently as possible, in order to facilitate the redeployment and reinsertion of workers made redundant, in accordance with the Joint Declaration of the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission adopted during the conciliation meeting on 17 July 2008, and having due regard to the IIA of 2 December 2013 in respect of the adoption of decisions to mobilise the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF);

C.  whereas the adoption of the EGF Regulation reflects the agreement reached between the Parliament and the Council to reintroduce the crisis mobilisation criterion, to set the Union financial contribution to 60 % of the total estimated cost of proposed measures, to increase efficiency for the treatment of EGF applications in the Commission and by the Parliament and the Council by shortening the time for assessment and approval, to widen eligible actions and beneficiaries by introducing self-employed persons and young people and to finance incentives for setting up own businesses;

D.  whereas Sweden submitted application EGF/2015/009 SE/Volvo Trucks for a financial contribution from the EGF, following redundancies in the economic sector classified under the NACE Revision 2 Division 29 (Manufacture of motor vehicles, trailers and downstream producers) mainly in the NUTS level 2 region of Upper Norrland (SE33), and whereas 500 out of 647 redundant workers eligible for the EGF contribution are expected to participate in the measures; whereas 470 of those workers were made redundant in Volvo Group Truck Operation EMEA following reductions in its Umeå plant, and 177 others in 4 suppliers and downstream producers (IL Logistics AB, Lemia, Caverion and Isringhausen);

E.  whereas the application was submitted under the intervention criteria of Article 4(1)(a) of the EGF Regulation, which requires at least 500 workers being made redundant over a reference period of four months in an enterprise in a Member State, including workers made redundant by suppliers and downstream producers and / or self-employed persons whose activity has ceased;

F.  whereas the financial control of the actions supported by the EGF is the responsibility of the Member State, as laid down in Article 21(1) of the EGF Regulation;

1.  Agrees with the Commission that the conditions set out in Article 4(1)(a) of the EGF Regulation are met and that, therefore, Sweden is entitled to a financial contribution of EUR 1 793 710 under that Regulation, which represents 60 % of the total cost of EUR 2 989 518;

2.  Notes that the Swedish authorities submitted the application for a financial contribution from the EGF on 16 September 2015, and that its assessment was finalised by the Commission on 16 February 2016 and notified to Parliament that day;

3.  Expresses its regret that the Commission was unable to comply with the deadline for the completion of the assessment of this application due to an exceptional shortage of staff; recalls that in the interest of the beneficiaries, assistance should be made available as quickly and efficiently as possible; calls on Member States and the Union institutions involved in the EGF decision-making process to do their utmost to reduce processing time and to simplify procedures so as to ensure the smooth and rapid adoption of decisions on the mobilisation of the EGF;

4.  Notes that the manufacture of commercial vehicles is no longer dominated by European and North American manufacturers, due to newly emerging Asian truck manufacturers; points out that the heavy truck production in the Union decreased in 2014, as well as exports of heavy commercial vehicles, buses and coaches (a decrease of EUR 6,3 billion, or -11 %) while overall imports of commercial vehicles into the Union increased (+10 %); notes that the truck industry has found it difficult to embrace major transformation and the need to adjust while becoming ever more global; notes that the Swedish authorities argue that the partial relocation of the Volvo Umeå plant is driven by the need to increase efficiency and decrease cost to meet existing and expected global competition, as part of Volvo´s optimisation program;

5.  Points out that the redundancies represent a challenge in the region of the county of Västerbotten (of which Umeå is the capital) as the region's job vacancies are in highly qualified fields while most of the targeted workers have only secondary education; notes that the application refers to a recent report claiming that 40 000 new workers will be needed in the Västerbotten region; welcomes the measures targeting workers who need specialised education;

6.  Calls on the Member States to prepare, together with the social partners, strategies to anticipate the projected labour market changes and to protect Union jobs and skills on the basis of comprehensive trade impact assessments made by the Commission for each trade agreement;

7.  Notes that young people not in employment, education or training (NEETs) are not included in the application, because this region is not eligible for such intervention under the Youth Employment Initiative;

8.  Welcomes the fact that the Swedish authorities started providing the personalised services to the affected workers on 30 January 2015, well ahead of the decision on the granting of EGF support for the proposed coordinated package;

9.  Notes that Sweden is planning nine types of measures for redundant workers covered by this application: (i) in-depth assessment and individual planning, (ii) various job-search activities and coaching, (iii) motivation and health measures, (iv) entrepreneurship and business creation; (v) education and training, (vi) validation of competences, (vii) job-search assistance with private service providers, (viii) travel expenses and related costs, (ix) job search allowances;

10.  Welcomes the measures targeting motivation and health of the workers; considers such actions necessary to strengthen motivation and provide help for those whose health was damaged by being made redundant; appreciates, furthermore, measures for the validation of competences of the participants;

11.  Notes the high amount to be spent on allowances and incentives; notes also that the funding of these actions is limited to a maximum amount of 35 % of the total costs for the coordinated package of personalised measures, as set out in the EGF Regulation, and that those actions are conditional on the active participation of the targeted beneficiaries in job-search or training activities;

12.  Awaits the answer from the Commission confirming that the proposed job search allowance is not a substitute for the obligation of the Member State with regard to active labour market or social protection measures; expects, furthermore, an analysis of the complementarity of the measures supported by the EGF;

13.  Notes that the coordinated package of personalised services has been drawn up in consultation with the targeted beneficiaries and their representatives as well as local public actors;

14.  Reminds that, in line with Article 7 of the EGF Regulation, the design of the coordinated package of personalised services should anticipate future labour market perspectives and required skills and should be compatible with the shift towards a resource-efficient and sustainable economy;

15.  Recalls the importance of improving the employability of all workers by means of adapted training and the recognition of skills and competences gained throughout a worker's professional career; expects the training on offer in the coordinated package to be adapted not only to the needs of the dismissed workers but also to the actual business environment and the prospective future of professional sectors;

16.  Asks the Commission to further detail, in future proposals, the sectors in which the workers are likely to find employment and whether the training on offer is aligned to the future economic prospects and labour market needs in the regions concerned by the dismissals;

17.  Notes that the Swedish authorities confirm that the eligible actions do not receive assistance from other Union financial instruments; reiterates its call on the Commission to present a comparative evaluation of those data in its annual reports in order to ensure full respect for existing regulations and that no duplication of Union-funded services can occur;

18.  Notes that, to date, the Manufacture of motor vehicles, trailers and semi-trailers sector has been the subject of 22 EGF applications, including this one, 12 of which were based on trade related globalisation and 10 on the global financial and economic crisis;

19.  Calls on the Commission to carefully assess cases where EGF funding is requested for redundancies resulting from delocalisation strategies of enterprises and ensure that these enterprises fully complied with mandatory responsibilities towards the redundant workers, by virtue of national law or pursuant to collective agreements and that EGF is used as a complimentary measure;

20.  Reiterates that assistance from the EGF must not replace actions which are the responsibility of companies by virtue of national law or collective agreements nor measures for restructuring companies or sectors;

21.  Appreciates the improved procedure put in place by the Commission, following the Parliament's request for the accelerated release of grants; notes the time pressure that the new timetable implies and the potential impact on the effectiveness of case instruction;

22.  Reminds the Commission of its responsibility and obligation to provide in due time detailed information confirming that the proposed job search allowance does not substitute the obligation of the Member State with regard to active labour market or social protection measures and a detailed analysis showing the complementarity of these EGF measures;

23.  Asks the Commission to assure public access to all the documents related to EGF cases;

24.  Approves the decision annexed to this resolution;

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

26.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution, including its Annex, to the Council and the Commission.

ANNEX

DECISION OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL

on the mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (application from Sweden – EGF/2015/009 SE/Volvo Trucks)

(The text of this annex is not reproduced here since it corresponds to the final act, Decision (EU) 2016/618.)

(1) OJ L 347, 20.12.2013, p. 855.
(2) OJ L 347, 20.12.2013, p. 884.
(3) OJ C 373, 20.12.2013, p. 1.


Mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund: EGF/2016/000 TA 2016/Technical assistance at the initiative of the Commission
PDF 346kWORD 76k
Resolution
Annex
European Parliament resolution of 13 April 2016 on the proposal for a decision of the European Parliament and of the Council on the mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF/2016/000 TA 2016 - Technical assistance at the initiative of the Commission) (COM(2016)0078 – C8-0095/2016 – 2016/2025(BUD))
P8_TA(2016)0112A8-0078/2016

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Commission proposal to the European Parliament and the Council (COM(2016)0078 – C8-0095/2016),

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 1309/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 December 2013 on the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (2014-2020) and repealing Regulation (EC) No 1927/2006(1) (EGF Regulation),

–  having regard to Council Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 1311/2013 of 2 December 2013 laying down the multiannual financial framework for the years 2014-2020(2), and in particular Article 12 thereof,

–  having regard to the Interinstitutional Agreement of 2 December 2013 between the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission on budgetary discipline, on cooperation in budgetary matters and on sound financial management(3) (IIA of 2 December 2013), and in particular point 13 thereof,

–  having regard to its resolution of 24 June 2015 on the proposal for a decision of the European Parliament and of the Council on the mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund, in accordance with point 13 of the Interinstitutional Agreement of 2 December 2013 between the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission on budgetary discipline, on cooperation in budgetary matters and on sound financial management (application EGF/2015/000 TA 2015 – Technical assistance at the initiative of the Commission)(4),

–  having regard to the trilogue procedure provided for in point 13 of the IIA of 2 December 2013,

–  having regard to the letter of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgets (A8-0078/2016),

A.  whereas the Union has set up legislative and budgetary instruments to provide additional support to workers who are suffering from the consequences of major structural changes in world trade patterns or of the global financial and economic crisis and to assist their reintegration into the labour market;

B.  whereas the Union’s assistance to workers made redundant should be dynamic and made available as quickly and efficiently as possible, in accordance with the Joint Declaration of the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission adopted during the conciliation meeting on 17 July 2008, and having due regard to the IIA of 2 December 2013 in respect of the adoption of decisions to mobilise the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF);

C.  whereas the adoption of the EGF Regulation reflects the agreement reached between the Parliament and the Council to reintroduce the crisis mobilisation criterion, to increase the Union financial contribution to 60 % of the total estimated cost of proposed measures, to increase efficiency for the treatment of EGF applications in the Commission and by the Parliament and the Council by shortening the time for assessment and approval, to widen eligible actions and beneficiaries by introducing self-employed persons and young people and to finance incentives for setting up own businesses;

D.  whereas the maximum annual budget available for the EGF is EUR 150 million (2011 prices) and whereas Article 11(1) of the EGF Regulation states that 0,5 % of this amount (i.e. EUR 828 060 in 2016) can be made available for technical assistance at the initiative of the Commission in order to finance preparation, monitoring, data gathering and creation of a knowledge base, administrative and technical support, information and communication activities as well as audit, control and evaluation activities necessary to implement the EGF Regulation;

E.  whereas the European Parliament has repeatedly underlined the necessity of improved value added, efficiency and employability of beneficiaries of the EGF as a Union instrument of support to workers made redundant;

F.  whereas the proposed amount of EUR 380 000 corresponds to approximately 0,23 % of the maximum annual budget available for the EGF in 2016;

1.  Acknowledges the measures proposed by the Commission as Technical Assistance to finance expenditure mentioned in Article 11(1) and (4) as well as in Article 12(2), (3) and (4) of the EGF Regulation;

2.  Recalls the importance of networking and exchange of information on the EGF; supports, therefore, the funding of the Expert Group of Contact Persons of the EGF and the networking seminars on the implementation of the EGF; expects that this exchange of information shall also contribute to the better and more detailed reporting on the success rate of the EGF supported measures in the Member States, in particular about the reach and re-employment rate of beneficiaries; supports also all initiatives encompassing enhanced participation and consultation of local authorities managing daily the EGF supported measures;

3.  Welcomes the continued work on the standardised procedures for EGF applications and management using the functionalities of the electronic data exchange system (SFC2014), which allows for the simplification and faster processing of applications and for better reporting; notes that the Commission intends to prepare and fine tune the module for final reports closing the implementation of each EGF case as the priority for 2016; notes, however, that the costs from the EGF budget for the process of SFC2014 remain relatively high;

4.  Welcomes the integration of reporting into the electronic data exchange system (SFC2014); considers that this will ease the administrative burden for Member States and facilitate the use of reports for evaluation purposes;

5.  Notes that the procedure to integrate the EGF into SFC2014 has been going on for years and that the relevant costs for the EGF have been relatively high; notes that this level of cost will need to be maintained for another year after which the cost for maintenance will be lower;

6.  Expresses its regret that the Commission did not present the progress of integration into SFC2014 from the beginning of 2011 until 2014 as requested in Parliament's resolution of 24 June 2015 on the proposal for the Technical Assistance in 2015; reminds the Commission to present the progress as requested above including the latest developments;

7.  Is of the opinion that SFC2014 could also be used to allow the Commission to gather detailed data on the impact of EGF funding, namely in the case of re-employment rates of the redundant workers who have benefited from EGF funding; insists on having better evaluation of the type and quality of jobs found and on the medium and long-term trend as regards the rate of reintegration achieved through EGF interventions;

8.  Welcomes that the Commission intends to invest EUR 70 000 of the available budget under the Technical Assistance in particular on improving the monitoring and evaluation of the impact of EGF support on individual participants; recommends that:

   the budget for monitoring and evaluation be used to assess the longer term impact on EGF beneficiaries, the effectiveness and efficiency of deploying support on the ground as well as to carry out a deeper analysis of the economic mutations causing the dismissals of EGF beneficiaries,
   the EGF coordinator and the Member State provide reliable and complete data on employment outcomes of beneficiaries twelve months after the implementation of the measures. The Commission should aggregate those data, including the re-employment rates of the beneficiaries, and make them available to the European Parliament and the Council,
   more detailed information on the measures accessed by individual participants be recorded and clearly communicated to allow, for instance, for a clearer cost-benefit assessment of different measures, especially in view of higher administrative costs (actions under Article 7(4) of the EGF Regulation),
   the approval of final case reports and the final case closure be coupled with the provision of complete beneficiary outcome information (at an aggregate level);

9.  Underlines the need to further enhance the liaising between all those involved in EGF applications, including, in particular, the social partners and stakeholders at regional and local level, to create as many synergies as possible; stresses that interaction between the National Contact Person and regional or local case delivery partners should be strengthened and communication and support arrangements and information flows (internal divisions, tasks and responsibilities) made explicit and agreed on by all partners concerned;

10.  Reiterates its call on the Commission to invite the Parliament, within reasonable deadlines, to the expert group meetings and seminars in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Framework Agreement on relations between the European Parliament and the European Commission(5);

11.  Asks the Commission to provide justification for the decision to subcontract the mid-term evaluation as required by Article 20(1)(a) of the EGF Regulation to an external contractor; requests that the Commission decides on how to proceed on the basis of cost-benefit analysis with a clear focus on objectivity, outcomes, added value, employability and efficiency;

12.  Asks the Commission to include in the mid-term evaluation of the EGF all aspects regarding cost efficiency of all EGF projects, data on direct allowance support, as well as suggestions on improving participation of Member States in the EGF and synergies with measures covered by the ESF or national programmes; notes that this exercise should be combined with the effort to establish a complete database on the outcomes of all EGF interventions; calls for a debate on the outcome of the mid-term evaluation, with the aim of assessing whether the EGF is the most efficient tool for the redundancy challenges;

13.  Asks the Commission to include a qualitative and quantitative analysis of the EGF support to young people up to the age of 25 who are not in employment, education or training and to extend this measure after December 2017, in a permanent and sustainable way by proposing a new EGF regulation, especially in view of the implementation of the Youth Guarantee and the ongoing youth unemployment crisis;

14.  Underlines the importance of increasing general awareness about EGF and its visibility; reminds applicant Member States of their role in publicising the actions funded by the EGF to the targeted beneficiaries, authorities, social partners, the media and the general public, as set out in Article 12 of the EGF Regulation;

15.  Asks the Member States and all the institutions involved to make the necessary efforts to further improve procedural and budgetary arrangements in order to increase the impact of the EGF; notes, in this regard, that Parliament is currently drafting an own-initiative report based on the evaluation by the Commission to take stock of the functioning of the EGF Regulation and the cases examined;

16.  Appreciates the improved procedure put in place by the Commission, following Parliament's request for the accelerated release of grants; notes the time pressure that the new timetable implies and the potential impact on the effectiveness of case instruction; calls on the Member States to make greater use of the Commission's assistance before the submission of the formal applications;

17.  Asks the Member States and all the institutions involved to defend the wider use of the derogation for the eligibility thresholds also favoring SMEs, the extension of the reference periods as well as the possibility to include redundant workers offering related services to redundant workers of the referent company, thus contributing to a more efficient and valuable use of the EGF;

18.  Asks the Member States to highlight more clearly the additionality of EGF funding and its link to other funds , and to consider the most appropriate ways for the EGF to add value, ensure synergy with other funding sources and avoid displacement and overlaps;

19.  Approves the decision annexed to this resolution;

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

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

ANNEX

DECISION OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL

on the mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF/2016/000 TA 2016 - Technical assistance at the initiative of the Commission)

(The text of this annex is not reproduced here since it corresponds to the final act, Decision (EU) 2016/619.)

(1)OJ L 347, 20.12.2013, p. 855.
(2)OJ L 347, 20.12.2013, p. 884.
(3)OJ C 373, 20.12.2013, p. 1.
(4) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0237.
(5) OJ L 304, 20.11.2010, p. 47.


Draft Amending Budget No 1/ 2016 : New instrument to provide emergency support within the Union
PDF 252kWORD 67k
European Parliament resolution of 13 April 2016 on the Council position on Draft amending budget No 1/2016 of the European Union for the financial year 2016, New instrument to provide emergency support within the Union (07068/2016 – C8-0122/2016 – 2016/2037(BUD))
P8_TA(2016)0113A8-0130/2016

The European Parliament,

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

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

–  having regard to Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 966/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 October 2012 on the financial rules applicable to the general budget of the Union and repealing Council Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 1605/2002(1), and in particular Article 41 thereof,

–  having regard to the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2016, as definitively adopted on 25 November 2015(2),

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

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

–  having regard to Council Decision 2007/436/EC, Euratom of 7 June 2007 on the system of the European Communities' own resources(5),

–  having regard to Council Regulation (EU) 2016/369 of 15 March 2016 on the provision of emergency support within the Union(6),

–  having regard to Draft amending budget No 1/2016, which the Commission adopted on 9 March 2016 (COM(2016)0152),

–  having regard to the position on Draft amending budget No 1/2016 which the Council adopted on 16 March 2016 and forwarded to Parliament on 17 March 2016 (07068/2016 – C8‑0122/2016),

–  having regard to the letter from the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs,

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgets (A8-0130/2016),

A.  whereas the massive influx of refugees and migrants into Europe has created an exceptional situation whereby a large number of persons require urgent humanitarian assistance within the Union; whereas this emergency situation has overstretched the response capacity of the most affected Member States; whereas no appropriate instrument was available at Union level to address humanitarian needs of disaster-stricken people within the Union;

B.  whereas the Commission presented on 2 March 2016 a proposal for a Council Regulation aimed at filling a gap in the available instruments in order to address humanitarian needs within the territory of the Union; whereas that Regulation is based on Article 122(1) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, which does not provide for a role by the European Parliament; whereas Regulation (EU) 2016/369 was adopted by the Council on 15 March 2016;

C.  whereas the Commission subsequently proposed a Draft amending budget aimed at creating the budget structure for that instrument and at making available, from redeployment within the heading 3 of the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF), EUR 100 million in commitment appropriations and EUR 80,2 million in payment appropriations for immediate funding needs;

D.  whereas the Commission estimates that this new instrument would require EUR 300 million in 2016 (followed by EUR 200 million in 2017 and EUR 200 million in 2018) but that further needs are likely to arise if the migrant and refugee flows continue at their current level;

E.  whereas the Commission also proposes to reinforce the staffing levels of the European Counter-Terrorism Centre in Europol and to provide the corresponding commitment and payment appropriations for an amount of EUR 2,0 million to be redeployed from the Internal Security Fund;

1.  Welcomes the proposal by the Commission to enable the Union budget to provide emergency support within the Union territory in order to tackle the humanitarian consequences of the current refugee crisis; points to the deteriorating situation of migrants and asylum seekers, particularly due to the uncoordinated response by European countries, which makes such emergency support all the more necessary and urgent; stresses the need to show solidarity with the Member States facing such an emergency situation on their territory;

2.  Takes note of the solution proposed by the Commission as a matter of urgency; notes that, following the setting-up of two Trust Funds and of a Facility for Refugees in Turkey, a new ad hoc mechanism has been put in place without an overall strategy to address the refugee crisis and without ensuring the full observance of Parliament's prerogatives as co-legislator; points to the problem that the new instrument is not founded on a Commission proposal for a regulation under the ordinary legislative procedure; stresses that Parliament has always acted constructively and swiftly in support of all initiatives in connection with the refugee crisis, and is still doing so with the rapid adoption of this amending budget;

3.  Considers that a more sustainable legal and budgetary framework should be envisaged in order to allow for humanitarian aid within the Union to be mobilised in the future, when circumstances so require; notes that such emergency funding, meant at responding to crises and unforeseen situations, should by its very nature be covered by special instruments and be counted outside the MFF ceilings;

4.  Welcomes the Commission’s commitment not to divert appropriations from the external humanitarian aid budget; notes that the Commission proposes to finance the first instalment under this new instrument by redeploying appropriations from the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF) appropriations, which were already meant at ensuring burden-sharing between Member States in dealing with refugees; believes that the entire amount cannot be covered through redeployments without affecting the delivery of the AMIF, which is bound to come under pressure this year and might need further reinforcements if the relocation scheme is to reach full speed; considers, therefore, this EUR 100 million to be a frontloading of appropriations which will need to be compensated at a later stage; notes that there is no margin left under heading 3 and that the Flexibility Instrument has already been used in its entirety for 2016; supports, therefore, the mobilisation of the Contingency Margin for the remaining amount for this year as soon as necessary and invites the Commission to present a proposal in this respect; anticipates that an upward revision of the MFF ceiling for heading 3 will prove to be inevitable in order to address all needs linked to the refugee and migration crisis;

5.  Approves the proposed increases in staffing for Europol's European Counter-Terrorism Centre considering the current security situation in the European Union; notes that these increases come on top of the ones already agreed in the framework of the recent revision of the Europol legal framework;

6.  Urges the Commission to exclude all agencies dealing in the broader sense with migration and security from the 5 % staff reduction target as they are all understaffed given the tremendous increase in workload and tasks over the past two years; calls on the Commission to ensure a balance between the JHA agencies respecting their workload and tasks;

7.  Affirms its willingness to adopt Draft amending budget No 1/2016 as presented by the Commission, given the urgency of the situation;

8.  Approves the Council position on Draft amending budget No 1/2016;

9.  Instructs its President to declare that Amending budget No 1/2016 has been definitively adopted and to arrange for its publication in the Official Journal of the European Union;

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

(1) OJ L 298, 26.10.2012, p. 1.
(2) OJ L 48, 24.2.2016.
(3) OJ L 347, 20.12.2013, p. 884.
(4) OJ C 373, 20.12.2013, p. 1.
(5) OJ L 163, 23.6.2007, p. 17.
(6) OJ L 70, 16.3.2016, p. 1.


Nomination of a member of the Court of Auditors – Samo Jereb
PDF 233kWORD 59k
European Parliament decision of 13 April 2016 on the nomination of Samo Jereb as a Member of the Court of Auditors (C8-0025/2016 – 2016/0804(NLE))
P8_TA(2016)0114A8-0060/2016

(Consultation)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to Article 286(2) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, pursuant to which the Council consulted Parliament (C8‑0025/2016),

–  having regard to Rule 121 of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgetary Control (A8-0060/2016),

A.  whereas Parliament’s Committee on Budgetary Control proceeded to evaluate the credentials of the nominee, in particular in view of the requirements laid down in Article 286(1) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union;

B.  whereas at its meeting of 15 March 2016 the Committee on Budgetary Control heard the Council’s nominee for membership of the Court of Auditors;

1.  Delivers a favourable opinion on the Council’s nomination of Samo Jereb as a Member of the Court of Auditors;

2.  Instructs its President to forward this decision to the Council and, for information, the Court of Auditors, the other institutions of the European Union and the audit institutions of the Member States.


Nomination of a member of the Court of Auditors – Mihails Kozlovs
PDF 236kWORD 58k
European Parliament decision of 13 April 2016 on the nomination of Mihails Kozlovs as a Member of the Court of Auditors (C8-0411/2015 – 2015/0814(NLE))
P8_TA(2016)0115A8-0059/2016

(Consultation)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to Article 286(2) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, pursuant to which the Council consulted Parliament (C8‑0411/2015),

–  having regard to Rule 121 of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgetary Control (A8-0059/2016),

A.  whereas Parliament’s Committee on Budgetary Control proceeded to evaluate the credentials of the nominee, in particular in view of the requirements laid down in Article 286(1) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union;

B.  whereas at its meeting of 15 March 2016 the Committee on Budgetary Control heard the Council’s nominee for membership of the Court of Auditors;

1.  Delivers a favourable opinion on the Council’s nomination of Mihails Kozlovs as a Member of the Court of Auditors;

2.  Instructs its President to forward this decision to the Council and, for information, the Court of Auditors, the other institutions of the European Union and the audit institutions of the Member States.


Nomination of a member of the Court of Auditors – Jan Gregor
PDF 235kWORD 58k
European Parliament decision of 13 April 2016 on the nomination of Jan Gregor as a Member of the Court of Auditors (C8-0412/2015 – 2015/0815(NLE))
P8_TA(2016)0116A8-0057/2016

(Consultation)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to Article 286(2) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, pursuant to which the Council consulted Parliament (C8‑0412/2015),

–  having regard to Rule 121 of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgetary Control (A8-0057/2016),

A.  whereas Parliament’s Committee on Budgetary Control proceeded to evaluate the credentials of the nominee, in particular in view of the requirements laid down in Article 286(1) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union;

B.  whereas at its meeting of 15 March 2016 the Committee on Budgetary Control heard the Council’s nominee for membership of the Court of Auditors;

1.  Delivers a favourable opinion on the Council’s nomination of Jan Gregor as a Member of the Court of Auditors;

2.  Instructs its President to forward this decision to the Council and, for information, the Court of Auditors, the other institutions of the European Union and the audit institutions of the Member States.


Nomination of a member of the Court of Auditors – Ladislav Balko
PDF 236kWORD 59k
European Parliament decision of 13 April 2016 on the nomination of Ladislav Balko as a Member of the Court of Auditors (C8-0413/2015 – 2015/0816(NLE))
P8_TA(2016)0117A8-0055/2016

(Consultation)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to Article 286(2) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, pursuant to which the Council consulted Parliament (C8‑0413/2015),

–  having regard to Rule 121 of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgetary Control (A8-0055/2016),

A.  whereas Parliament’s Committee on Budgetary Control proceeded to evaluate the credentials of the nominee, in particular in view of the requirements laid down in Article 286(1) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union;

B.  whereas at its meeting of 15 March 2016 the Committee on Budgetary Control heard the Council’s nominee for membership of the Court of Auditors;

1.  Delivers a favourable opinion on the Council’s nomination of Ladislav Balko as a Member of the Court of Auditors;

2.  Instructs its President to forward this decision to the Council and, for information, the Court of Auditors, the other institutions of the European Union and the audit institutions of the Member States.


Nomination of a member of the Court of Auditors – Janusz Wojciechowski
PDF 241kWORD 58k
European Parliament decision of 13 April 2016 on the nomination of Janusz Wojciechowski as a Member of the Court of Auditors (C8-0414/2015 – 2015/0817(NLE))
P8_TA(2016)0118A8-0061/2016

(Consultation)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to Article 286(2) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, pursuant to which the Council consulted Parliament (C8‑0414/2015),

–  having regard to Rule 121 of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgetary Control (A8-0061/2016),

A.  whereas Parliament’s Committee on Budgetary Control proceeded to evaluate the credentials of the nominee, in particular in view of the requirements laid down in Article 286(1) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union;

B.  whereas at its meeting of 15 March 2016 the Committee on Budgetary Control heard the Council’s nominee for membership of the Court of Auditors;

1.  Delivers a negative opinion on the Council’s nomination of Janusz Wojciechowski as a Member of the Court of Auditors;

2.  Instructs its President to forward this decision to the Council and, for information, the Court of Auditors, the other institutions of the European Union and the audit institutions of the Member States.


Renewal of the approval of the active substance glyphosate
PDF 285kWORD 88k
European Parliament resolution of 13 April 2016 on the draft Commission implementing regulation renewing the approval of the active substance glyphosate in accordance with Regulation (EC) No 1107/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council concerning the placing of plant protection products on the market, and amending the Annex to Implementing Regulation (EU) No 540/2011 (D044281/01 – 2016/2624(RSP))
P8_TA(2016)0119B8-0439/2016

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the draft Commission implementing regulation renewing the approval of the active substance glyphosate in accordance with Regulation (EC) No 1107/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council concerning the placing of plant protection products on the market, and amending the Annex to Implementing Regulation (EU) No 540/2011 (D044281/01),

–  having regard to Regulation (EC) No 1107/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 October 2009 concerning the placing of plant protection products on the market and repealing Council Directives 79/117/EEC and 91/414/EEC(1), and in particular Article 20(1) thereof,

–  having regard to Articles 11 and 13 of Regulation (EU) No 182/2011 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 February 2011 laying down the rules and general principles concerning mechanisms for control by Member States of the Commission’s exercise of implementing powers(2),

–  having regard to Article 7 of Regulation (EC) No 178/2002 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 28 January 2002 laying down the general principles and requirements of food law, establishing the European Food Safety Authority and laying down procedures in matters of food safety(3),

–  having regard to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) Conclusion on the peer review of the pesticide risk assessment of the active substance glyphosate(4),

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

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

A.  whereas the systemic herbicide glyphosate currently has the highest global production volume of all herbicides; whereas its global use has increased dramatically, by a factor of 260, in the last 40 years (from 3 200 tonnes in 1974 to 825 000 tonnes in 2014)(5);

B.  whereas glyphosate is a non-selective herbicide which kills all herbage; whereas it acts by interfering with the so-called shikimate pathway, a pathway that is also present in algae, bacteria and fungi; whereas sub-lethal exposures of Escherichia coli and Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium to commercial formulations of glyphosate have been found to induce a changed response to antibiotics;

C.  whereas 76 % of the use of glyphosate worldwide is in agriculture; whereas it is also widely used in forestry, urban and garden applications;

D.  whereas glyphosate and/or its residues have been detected in water, soil, food and drinks and non-comestible goods, as well as in the human body (e.g. in urine and maternal milk);

E.  whereas the general population is exposed primarily through residence near sprayed areas, through home use, and through diet; whereas exposure to glyphosate is on the rise owing to the increase in the total volume of glyphosate used; whereas the impact of glyphosate and its most common co-formulants on human health must be regularly monitored;

F.  whereas according to Regulation (EC) No 1107/2009, an active substance may only be approved if it is not or is not to be classified as a carcinogen category 1A or 1B in accordance with the provisions of Regulation (EC) No 1272/2008, unless the exposure of humans to the active substance concerned is negligible or there is a serious danger to plant health that cannot be contained by other available means;

G.  whereas in March 2015 the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified glyphosate as ‘probably carcinogenic to humans’ (Group 2A), on the basis of ‘limited evidence’ of cancer in humans (from cases of real-world exposure that actually occurred), ‘sufficient evidence’ of cancer in laboratory animals (from studies of ‘pure’ glyphosate), and ‘strong evidence’ of mechanistic information related to carcinogenicity (for genotoxicity and oxidative stress) for both ‘pure’ glyphosate and glyphosate formulations;

H.  whereas the criteria used by IARC for Group 2A are comparable to those for Category 1B in Regulation (EC) No 1272/2008;

I.  whereas, nevertheless, in November 2015 the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) finalised a peer review of glyphosate and concluded that ‘glyphosate is unlikely to pose a carcinogenic hazard to humans and the evidence does not support classification with regard to its carcinogenic potential according to Regulation (EC) No 1272/2008’;

J.  whereas Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) …/... of XXX renewing the approval of the active substance glyphosate in accordance with Regulation (EC) No 1107/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council concerning the placing of plant protection products on the market, and amending the Annex to Implementing Regulation (EU) No 540/2011 (hereinafter the ‘draft implementing regulation’), based on scientific evaluation conducted both by the BfR and EFSA, proposes to authorise glyphosate until 30 June 2031, i.e. for the maximum period possible, for any use, with a restriction for one of the co-formulants and the establishment by Member States of a list of co-formulants not accepted for inclusion in plant protection products, without any legally binding conditions on its use, and subject only to confirmatory information on endocrine-disrupting properties;

K.  whereas the stated purpose of Regulation (EC) No 1107/2009 is ‘to ensure a high level of protection of both human and animal health and the environment and to improve the functioning of the internal market through the harmonisation of the rules on the placing on the market of plant protection products, while improving agricultural production’;

L.  whereas it is stated in the text of Regulation (EC) No 1107/2009 that its provisions are ‘underpinned by the precautionary principle in order to ensure that active substances or products placed on the market do not adversely affect human or animal health or the environment’; whereas the text further states that ‘in particular, Member States shall not be prevented from applying the precautionary principle where there is scientific uncertainty as to the risks with regard to human or animal health or the environment posed by the plant protection products to be authorised in their territory’;

M.  whereas pursuant to Article 13(2) of Regulation (EC) No 1107/2009, any decision regarding the approval/non-approval/conditional approval of an active substance shall be based on the Commission’s review report and on ‘other factors legitimate to the matter under consideration and the precautionary principle where the conditions laid down in Article 7(1) of Regulation (EC) No 178/2002 are relevant’;

N.  whereas Article 7(1) of Regulation (EC) No 178/2002 stipulates that ‘in specific circumstances where, following an assessment of available information, the possibility of harmful effects on health is identified but scientific uncertainty persists, provisional risk management measures necessary to ensure the high level of health protection chosen in the Community may be adopted, pending further scientific information for a more comprehensive risk assessment’;

O.  whereas the conditions of recourse to the precautionary principle as laid down in Regulation (EC) No 178/2002 are clearly fulfilled in light of the ongoing controversy about the carcinogenic properties of glyphosate;

P.  whereas according to Article 14(2) of Regulation (EC) No 1107/2009, the maximum possible period for renewal of approval for active substances is 15 years; whereas in the interests of safety, the approval period should be proportionate to the possible risks inherent in the use of such substances, while experience gained from the actual use of plant protection products containing the substances concerned and any developments in science and technology should be taken into account when any decision regarding the renewal of an approval is taken;

Q.  whereas the European Ombudsman, in her decision in case 12/2013/MDC of 18 February 2016 on the practices of the European Commission regarding the authorisation and placing on the market of plant protection products (pesticides), called on the Commission to review its approach to the definition and implementation of mitigation measures (conditions and restrictions), so as to include further requirements aimed at ensuring that the Commission does not evade its responsibility to ensure the effective protection of human health, animal health and the environment by allowing Member States almost absolute discretion as regards the definition of mitigation measures for potentially unsafe substances, given that standard formulations are very open-ended and it can be doubted whether they can be legally described as requiring mitigation measures at all;

R.  whereas the draft implementing regulation does not, however, contain any legally binding risk mitigation measures, despite a high long-term risk found for almost all uses of glyphosate for non-target terrestrial vertebrates, including mammals and birds; whereas use of the non-selective herbicide glyphosate kills not only unwanted weeds, but all plants, as well as algae, bacteria and fungi, thereby having an unacceptable impact on biodiversity and the ecosystem; whereas as such, glyphosate fails to comply with point (e)(iii) of Article 4(3) of Regulation (EC) No 1107/2009;

S.  whereas several Member States have already taken precautionary measures to protect public health and the environment; whereas in order to achieve the same level of protection in all Member States, in case of approval of an active substance clear and legally binding conditions for its use should be set at Union level;

T.  whereas EFSA, at the request of the Commission, considered in its assessment the report published by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), which classified glyphosate as probably carcinogenic to humans; whereas EFSA’s evaluation was based on a large body of evidence, including a number of studies not assessed by the IARC, and according to EFSA this is one of the reasons why it reached different conclusions;

U.  whereas the head of EFSA’s Pesticides Unit, which was in charge of the assessment, described certain studies not assessed by the IARC as ‘key’ and ‘pivotal’; whereas EFSA has so far refused to make these studies publicly available, as the applicants have claimed that disclosure would harm their commercial interests; whereas non-publication of studies makes independent scientific scrutiny impossible; whereas EFSA did not provide verifiable proof that disclosure would harm the industry in accordance with its legal obligation under Article 63 of Regulation (EC) No 1107/2009;

V.  whereas according to Article 4(2) of 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(6), the institutions shall refuse access to a document where disclosure would undermine the protection of commercial interests unless there is an overriding public interest in disclosure; whereas in light of the ongoing controversy between IARC and EFSA on an issue as publicly relevant as cancer and the global relevance of the decision regarding the reapproval/conditional reapproval or non-reapproval of glyphosate, there is clearly an overriding interest in disclosing these studies;

W.  whereas there are not only serious concerns about the carcinogenicity of glyphosate, but also doubts as regards a possible mode of action in relation to its endocrine-disruptive properties; whereas glyphosate-based formulations have been found to be endocrine disruptors in human cell lines and, in the absence of the proper scientific horizontal criteria, an endocrine-mediated mode of action cannot be ruled out; whereas the Commission will provide standards for defining endocrine disruptors by August 2016;

X.  whereas the EFSA stated as a ‘concern’ that ‘an endocrine-mediated mode of action could not be ruled out’, as the assessment could not be finalised on account of data gaps; whereas, however, point 2.2 of Annex II to Regulation (EC) No 1107/2009 provides that an active substance shall only be approved where a complete dossier is submitted; whereas this is all the more important given that Regulation (EC) No 1107/2009 provides that an active substance shall only be approved if it is not considered to have endocrine-disrupting properties that may cause adverse effects in humans, unless the exposure of humans to that active substance is negligible or there is a serious danger to plant health that cannot be contained by other available means;

Y.  whereas it is inappropriate for the Commission to deal with this significant deficiency via confirmatory data to be submitted after the decision on reapproval, as the confirmatory data procedure should apply only in certain exceptional cases as laid down in point 2 of Annex II to Regulation (EC) No 1107/2009, and should not concern data requirements which existed at the time the application was submitted;

Z.  whereas over the past two decades further evidence has accumulated of adverse effects, especially the fact that several vertebrate pathways are likely targets of action of glyphosate, including hepatorenal damage and effects on nutrient balance through glyphosate chelating action(7);

AA.  whereas in July 2015 the rapporteur Member State indicated its intention to submit a dossier concerning the harmonised classification of glyphosate under Regulation (EC) No 1272/2008 to the European Chemicals Agency, which is the relevant scientific authority with regard to the harmonised classification of chemical substances; whereas the application was expected for the end of March 2016; whereas the decision-making process is expected to last 18 months;

AB.  whereas a significant use of glyphosate is for ‘desiccation’, the killing of the actual crop plant prior to harvest in order to accelerate its ripening and facilitate its harvesting (also known as ‘green burndown’); whereas this practice not only has significant adverse effects on biodiversity, but also typically results in much higher residue levels in the final harvested products, and thus leads to increased human dietary exposure(8); whereas this practice also contaminates the straw from the treated crop and thus makes it unsuitable for animal feed; whereas it is unacceptable, both for the protection of human health and for the environment, to use a non-selective herbicide for such purposes;

AC.  whereas the great majority of genetically modified crops are resistant to glyphosate(9); whereas 56 % of global glyphosate use in 2012 was for glyphosate-resistant genetically modified crops(10);

AD.  whereas in 2015 and 2016 the European Parliament objected to four different draft Commission implementing acts concerning the placing on the market of products containing, consisting of, or produced from, genetically modified crops(11)(12)(13)(14); whereas all of these crops were genetically modified to be resistant to glyphosate; whereas three of these crops were also genetically modified to be resistant to a second herbicide, thus combining multiple resistances;

AE.  whereas the widespread use of glyphosate on glyphosate-resistant crops over the last 20 years is known to have led to the development of resistant weeds, as the repeated use of glyphosate without sufficient alternation of weed killers or weeding practices has been found to highly favour the evolution of resistant weeds; whereas, in response, agro-biotech companies are adding further herbicide-tolerant traits to crops, as evidenced by three of the four genetically modified crops opposed by the European Parliament, a treadmill that may lead to an increase in the multi-resistance of weeds(15); whereas such a toxic spiral is not sustainable;

AF.  whereas studies have shown that integrated pest management based on crop diversification, soil tillage regimes, sowing dates and mechanical weeding can reduce herbicide use while preserving crop yields and being more sustainable and environmentally friendly, with important biodiversity benefits(16);

AG.  whereas EFSA found in 2015 that for certain pesticides, including glyphosate, the number of determinations of maximum residue limits (MRLs) reported was significantly below the number needed to derive statistically sound conclusions; whereas, according to EFSA, reporting countries should extend the scope of the analytical methods used for enforcement of MRLs to make sure that the detection rate and the MRL exceedance rate are not biased by the low number of determinations or lack of data from certain countries(17);

AH.  whereas in March 2016 the vote in the Standing Committee on Phytopharmaceuticals on the draft implementing regulation renewing the approval of the active substance glyphosate was postponed;

AI.  whereas the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently issued a recommendation to the United States Food and Drug Administration to assess risk and disclose information with regard to glyphosate residues in relation to public health;

1.  Considers that the Commission’s draft implementing regulation fails to ensure a high level of protection of both human and animal health and the environment, fails to apply the precautionary principle, and exceeds the implementing powers provided for in Regulation (EC) No 1107/2009;

2.  Calls on the Commission to submit a new draft implementing regulation in order to better address the sustainable use of herbicides containing glyphosate; calls on the Commission to recommend that Member States in particular limit or prohibit the sale of glyphosate for non-professional users and ask for an assessment by the Commission, together with experts from Member States, to evaluate the use of plant protection products for non-professionals and make proposals, to develop training and user authorisation for professionals, to provide better information on the use of glyphosate, and to place strict limits on the pre-harvest use of products containing the active substance glyphosate;

3.  Calls on the Commission to renew the approval of glyphosate for 7 years; recalls that under Regulation (EC) No 1107/2009 the Commission can withdraw the approval of an active substance during the period of its authorisation on the basis that new scientific evidence can demonstrate that it no longer satisfies the criteria for its approval; calls on the Commission and Member States to accelerate their work on the list of co-formulants not accepted for inclusion in plant protection products; welcomes the exclusion of POE-tallowamine from use in plant protection products containing glyphosate;

4.  Calls on the Commission in particular not to approve any non-professional uses of glyphosate;

5.  Calls on the Commission in particular not to approve any uses of glyphosate in or close to public parks, public playgrounds and public gardens;

6.  Calls on the Commission in particular not to approve any agricultural uses of glyphosate where integrated pest management systems are sufficient for the necessary weed control;

7.  Calls on the Commission to re-evaluate its approval in light of the pending submission of a dossier concerning the harmonised classification of glyphosate under Regulation (EC) No 1272/2008 to the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA);

8.  Calls on the Commission to rapidly ensure an independent review of the overall toxicity and classification of glyphosate based on all available scientific evidence, including that relating to carcinogenicity of glyphosate, as well as possible endocrine-disruptive properties under the expected scientific horizontal criteria for endocrine disruptors;

9.  Calls on the Commission and on EFSA to disclose immediately all the scientific evidence that has been the basis for the positive classification of glyphosate and the proposed re-authorisation, given the overriding public interest in disclosure; calls on the Commission furthermore to make all necessary efforts to facilitate full disclosure of the scientific evidence used in the context of the EU evaluation process;

10.  Calls on the Commission to mandate its Food and Veterinary Office to test and monitor glyphosate residues in foods and drinks produced in the Union, as well as in imported produce;

11.  Calls on the Commission and Member States to finance research and innovation with regard to alternative sustainable and cost-efficient solutions for pest-management products to ensure a high level of protection of human and animal health and the environment;

12.  Is of the opinion that an appropriate follow-up of this resolution by the Commission is important for trust in and between the institutions of the European Union;

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

(1) OJ L 309, 24.11.2009, p. 1.
(2) OJ L 55, 28.2.2011, p. 13.
(3) OJ L 31, 1.2.2002, p. 1.
(4) http://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/efsajournal/pub/4302
(5) http://enveurope.springeropen.com/articles/10.1186/s12302-016-0070-0
(6) OJ L 145, 31.5.2001, p. 43.
(7) http://ehjournal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12940-016-0117-0
(8) http://ehjournal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12940-016-0117-0
(9) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26296738
(10) http://enveurope.springeropen.com/articles/10.1186/s12302-016-0070-0
(11) European Parliament resolution of 16 December 2015 on Commission Implementing Decision (EU) 2015/2279 of 4 December 2015 authorising the placing on the market of products containing, consisting of, or produced from genetically modified maize NK603 × T25 (MON-ØØ6Ø3-6 × ACS-ZMØØ3-2) pursuant to Regulation (EC) No 1829/2003 of the European Parliament and of the Council (Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0456).
(12) European Parliament resolution of 3 February 2016 on the draft Commission implementing decision authorising the placing on the market of products containing, consisting of, or produced from genetically modified soybean MON 87705 × MON 89788 (MON-877Ø5-6 × MON-89788-1) pursuant to Regulation (EC) No 1829/2003 of the European Parliament and of the Council (Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0040).
(13) European Parliament resolution of 3 February 2016 on the draft Commission implementing decision authorising the placing on the market of products containing, consisting of, or produced from genetically modified soybean FG72 (MST-FGØ72-2) pursuant to Regulation (EC) No 1829/2003 of the European Parliament and of the Council (Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0038).
(14) European Parliament resolution of 3 February 2016 on the draft Commission implementing decision authorising the placing on the market of products containing, consisting of, or produced from genetically modified soybean MON 87708 × MON 89788 (MON-877Ø8-9 × MON-89788-1) pursuant to Regulation (EC) No 1829/2003 of the European Parliament and of the Council (Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0039).
(15) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26296738
(16) http://ec.europa.eu/environment/integration/research/newsalert/pdf/herbicide_reduction_can_preserve_crop_yields_as_well_as_biodiversity_benefits_of_weeds_445na2_en.pdf
(17) http://www.efsa.europa.eu/sites/default/files/scientific_output/files/main_documents/4038.pdf


The EU in a changing global environment – a more connected, contested and complex world
PDF 368kWORD 100k
European Parliament resolution of 13 April 2016 on the EU in a changing global environment – a more connected, contested and complex world (2015/2272(INI))
P8_TA(2016)0120A8-0069/2016

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to Article 3(1), (2) and (5), Article 21, in particular paragraphs (1), (2), point (h) and paragraph (3), second subparagraph thereof, Articles 8, 22, 24, 25, 26, Article 42, in particular paragraph (7) thereof, and Article 46 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU),

–  having regard to Article 222 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

–  having regard to the 2003 European Security Strategy (ESS) and the 2008 Report on the implementation of the ESS,

–  having regard to the report from the Vice-President/High Representative (VP/HR) on ‘The European Union in a changing global environment – a more connected, contested and complex world’,

–  having regard to the joint communication from the European Commission and the High Representative on ‘The EU’s comprehensive approach to external conflicts and crises’ (JOIN(2013)0030),

–  having regard to the Commission communication on ‘The European Agenda on Security’ (COM(2015)0185),

–  having regard to the joint communication from the Commission and the High Representative on ‘Review of the European Neighbourhood Policy’ (JOIN(2015)0050),

–  having regard to its resolution of 21 May 2015 on the implementation of the Common Security and Defence Policy (based on the Annual Report from the Council to the European Parliament on the Common Foreign and Security Policy)(1),

–  having regard to its resolution of 21 January 2016 on the mutual defence clause (Article 42(7) TEU)(2),

–  having regard to the European Council conclusions of 19 and 20 December 2013 (EUCO 217/13) and of 25 and 26 June 2015 (EUCO 22/15), and to the Council conclusions on CSDP of 18 May 2015 (8971/15),

–  having regard to Council Decision (CFSP) 2015/1835 of 12 October 2015 defining the statute, seat and operational rules of the European Defence Agency(3),

–  having regard to the joint communication from the Commission and the High Representative on ‘Cybersecurity Strategy of the European Union: An Open, Safe and Secure Cyberspace’ (JOIN(2013)0001),

–  having regard to the European Union Maritime Security Strategy, as adopted by the Council of the European Union on 24 June 2014,

–  having regard to the 2010 NATO Strategic Concept and the 2014 NATO Wales Summit Declaration,

–  having regard to its resolution of 17 December 2015 on the Annual Report on Human Rights and Democracy in the World 2014 and the European Union’s policy on the matter(4),

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

–  having regard to its resolution of 17 December 2015 on arms export: implementation of Common Position 2008/944/CFSP(5),

–  having regard to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, as adopted by the UN General Assembly in September 2015, and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change,

–  having regard to the letter of the Committee on International Trade,

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Foreign Affairs and the opinion of the Committee on Development (A8-0069/2016),

A.  whereas many present and future challenges and threats to the EU are complex and interrelated, stemming from state and non-state actors and coming from inside just as much as from outside the common borders; whereas there is a need to connect local, regional and global contexts; whereas strong political will and leadership for resolute common action on the part of the EU and its Member States are needed in order to respond proactively, collectively and effectively to these challenges, to safeguard the EU’s values and societal model, and to turn the EU into an effective and more strategic actor and contribute to global security; whereas the EU Global Strategy on foreign and security policy must pave the way for this development by defining a political level of ambition of the EU as an international actor;

B.  whereas the EU must recognise the full extent of the deterioration in its immediate strategic environment, and the long-term consequences thereof; whereas the fact that multiple crises are occurring simultaneously and having increasingly direct consequences within the EU means that no Member State can respond alone and that Europeans should exercise their responsibilities collectively to ensure their security;

C.  whereas the threats identified in the 2003 European Security Strategy – terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, regional conflicts, state failure and organised crime – remain for the most part relevant; whereas today the EU is faced with a number of serious and unforeseen additional challenges, such as the attempts by revisionist powers to redraw borders by force by violating international law and to challenge rules-based global order, climate change, slow economic growth, major migratory and refugee flows, and the largest refugee crisis since World War II, in addition to technological developments in space and cybernetics, financial crime, nuclear proliferation and arms races, hybrid and asymmetric warfare and threats;

D.  whereas Europe’s security architecture has been based on the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE); whereas the EU is a key player in the OSCE;

E.  whereas, in light of the deterioration in regional security, the EU must give priority to stabilising its immediate neighbourhood, but without forgoing its global commitments; whereas security crises on the EU’s doorstep are compounded and shaped by global trends and, conversely, effective management of regional security is a prerequisite for the EU’s capacity to act globally;

F.  whereas the European Council tasked the High Representative on 26 June 2015 with continuing the process of strategic reflection with a view to preparing an EU global strategy on foreign and security policy in close cooperation with the Member States, to be submitted to the European Council by June 2016;

G.  whereas a swift and efficient response to threats on the part of the EU requires strong solidarity between Member States, barriers being overcome and silo mentalities broken down within the institutions, as well as in the foreign representations of the European External Action Service (EEAS) and the Member States, and sufficient and flexible budgetary resources being allocated to support the achievement of the EU’s interests; whereas an effective European strategy requires first and foremost a strong political will and sense of common purpose shared among Member States to develop and use true European instruments;

H.  whereas threats of different kinds targeting individual Member States must be seen as threats to the Union as a whole, calling for strong unity and solidarity between Member States and a consistent common foreign and security policy;

I.  whereas the comprehensive approach and the consistent and coordinated use of the EU’s external and internal policy instruments should be at the core of the new strategy; whereas EU arms exports cannot be considered to be in the direct security interests of the EU, and Common Position 2008/944/CFSP should be taken into account in the context of developing an EU Global Strategy; whereas the EU’s primary objective is to promote its values, thus contributing to peace, security and the sustainable development of the earth, in addition to solidarity and the mutual respect of peoples; whereas these fundamental goals must not be overlooked when the EU takes measures to implement its internal and external policies; whereas even when the EU acts to promote its commercial interests, it must always strive to ensure that its actions are consistent with the pursuit of its objectives relating to peacekeeping and the protection of human rights;

J.  whereas, in such a volatile and uncertain international environment, the EU must have the strategic independence to allow it to ensure its security and promote its interests and values;

K.  whereas human security must be at the heart of the EU Global Strategy, and the gender perspective of security and UN Security Council resolution 1325 need to be fully taken into account;

L.  whereas since the adoption of the 2003 European Security Strategy the EU has set the goal of achieving an international order based on effective multilateralism and the rules of international law;

M.  whereas the new strategy must be in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development;

N.  whereas the future strategy should be followed up by annual implementation reports and include the following objectives, which should be further detailed in ‘substrategies’ laying down specific provisions for different areas of action;

Defend the European Union

1.  Notes that the aim of the European Union is to promote peace, its values and the well-being of its people, while ensuring the security of its citizens and of its territory; stresses that the Union’s external action is guided by the principles enshrined in Article 21 TEU; emphasises that the EU must therefore ensure both its internal and its external resilience, its capacity to anticipate, pre-empt and resolve predictable challenges and threats and to be prepared to take swift action on unpredictable crises, and its capacity to recover from various types of attack, as well as safeguarding security of supply of energy and raw materials, while taking into account the effects of climate change, which must be addressed urgently, with the EU taking a leading role in global climate action and in promoting sustainable development;

2.  Believes that in order to deal with a changing global environment, the EU strategy should be based on:

   (a) identifying and prioritising the threats and challenges;
   (b) defining the responses thereto;
   (c) determining the necessary resources;

3.  Underlines that the borders of each Member State are the borders of the Union and must be defended as such;

4.  Takes the view that the EU, as a global actor, has a key role in upholding the principles enshrined in international human rights law, in particular the principles of universality and indivisibility of human rights; believes therefore that human rights must be meaningfully integrated into the new Global Strategy in order to implement fully the EU Strategic Framework, EU Human Rights Guidelines and the Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy; highlights in this regard the need to always consult EU, Member State and third-country civil society so as to enable the experience and expertise of practitioners and human rights defenders to inform and sharpen EU foreign and security policy; calls on the EU and its Member States to ensure that EU foreign policy adopts a strategic approach to human rights, emphasising concrete actions and outcomes and demonstrating coherence in the EU’s engagement on human rights across different countries and regions, regardless of security, foreign policy, trade, energy, aid or other concerns;

5.  Believes that it is crucial to identify the genuine shared foreign policy interests of all 28 EU Member States in every region of the world and in every relevant policy field; stresses, in addition, that making these shared interests visible would on its own significantly strengthen the EU as an actor in foreign affairs; calls on the VP/HR to task the EEAS with mapping these specific interests and helping to define strategic and operational objectives that could lead directly to concrete outcomes;

6.  Believes that the United States is the EU’s key strategic partner; notes that the EU and its Member States must be more united and prepared to take greater responsibility for their collective security and territorial defence, relying less on the United States, especially in Europe’s neighbourhood; stresses that the transatlantic alliance must remain a crucial pillar of a global rules-based system; calls on the EU and the Member States, therefore, to step up their defence capabilities, in order to be prepared to respond to the broad spectrum of civilian, military and hybrid threats and risks, in synergy with NATO, and to make full use of the Lisbon Treaty provisions on the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP);

7.  Urges the EU in consequence to enhance coherent and structured cooperation on defence research, the industrial base and cyber defence through pooling and sharing and other cooperative projects, in order to use national defence budgets more efficiently, to achieve the collective target of 2 % of defence spending on research and to launch an EU-funded defence research and technology programme in the next multiannual financial framework (MFF); considers that the role of the European Defence Agency (EDA) needs to be strengthened and its resources increased to enable it to act more effectively; considers also that Member States should take more responsibility for building urgently needed European capabilities and contributing to EU strategic autonomy, increase their military research expenditure through the EDA and strengthen the European Defence Technological and Industrial Base (EDTIB) and the European Defence Market (EDM); calls for more transparent and accountable use of security and defence budgets by Member States; calls also on the Member States to ensure that appropriate capabilities for fulfilling the tasks under Article 43 TEU are made available, including for relevant UN peacekeeping missions; considers, furthermore, that European intelligence exchanges should be improved and a true European intelligence and forecasting capacity developed, with the appropriate oversight mechanisms in place;

8.  Calls on the VP/HR to address the lack of clarity regarding the mutual defence clause contained in Article 42(7) TEU and to define the guidelines and procedures for its implementation in order to allow the Member States to respond effectively when it is invoked;

9.  Strongly criticises the Commission for not completing in time the tasks entrusted to it by the European Council in 2013 regarding a planned roadmap for a comprehensive EU-wide security-of-supply regime, a planned Green Paper on the control of defence and sensitive security industrial capabilities, the monitoring of defence and security procurement and ‘government-to-government sales’ in the defence sector;

10.  Takes note of Council Decision (CFSP) 2015/1835 of 12 October 2015; calls on the head of the European Defence Agency and the VP/HR to inform Parliament as to how this Council Decision reflects Parliament’s repeated call for the EDA to be strengthened by financing its staffing and running costs from the Union budget;

11.  Believes that a principal objective should be to move towards permanently pooled multinational military units, joint defence forces and the framing of a common defence policy which should ultimately lead to a European Defence Union; demands, in this regard, the establishment of a permanent EU military headquarters to improve military crisis management capability, and ensure contingency planning and the interoperability of forces and equipment; calls on the Member States to reinforce defence cooperation collectively, bilaterally and in regional clusters; supports the adoption of a White Paper on EU Defence, based on the EU Global Strategy;

12.  Takes the view that the current activation of Article 42(7) TEU should serve as a catalyst for unleashing the potential of all the security- and defence-related Treaty provisions;

13.  Stresses the vital importance of strengthening EU-NATO cooperation, which should guarantee the coordination between operations, and supports the establishment of European capabilities which strengthen NATO in territorial defence and are able to conduct intervention operations autonomously beyond the EU’s borders; stresses that the CSDP should reinforce the European pillar of NATO and ensure that European members of NATO actually live up to their NATO commitments; suggests combining the concepts of EU Battle Groups and the NATO Response Force; recalls that the military contributions should be based on the principle of solidarity among EU Member States;

14.  Stresses that arms export controls are an integral part of EU foreign and security policy and must be guided by the principles enshrined in Article 21 TEU, notably the promotion of democracy and the rule of law and the preservation of peace, prevention of conflicts and strengthening of international security; recalls that it is crucial to ensure coherence between arms exports and the credibility of the EU as a global human rights advocate; is deeply convinced that a more effective implementation of the eight criteria of the Common Position would represent an important contribution to the development of the EU Global Strategy;

15.  Calls on the Member States to respect the Common Position on arms exports and to cease arms trade with third countries who do not fulfil the criteria listed;

16.  Supports a further deepening of the efficient governance of global common domains such as sea, air, space and cyberspace;

17.  Notes that the role technology plays in our societies is growing and that EU policy must respond to the rapid changes in technological development; stresses in this regard the fundamental empowering role that the internet and technologies can play in development, democratisation and emancipation of citizens across the globe and therefore highlights the importance of the EU working to promote and safeguard the free and open internet and to protect digital rights;

18.  Stresses that the impact of technologies should also be reflected in the global strategy, as well as in cybersecurity initiatives, while the improvement of human rights should be an integral part of, and be mainstreamed in, all EU policies and programmes, if applicable, in order to advance the protection of human rights, the promotion of democracy, the rule of law and good governance, and peaceful conflict resolution;

Stabilise Europe’s wider neighbourhood

19.  Believes that in order to be a more effective and credible global actor, the EU should take greater responsibility and focus on filling the security vacuum in its vicinity and its wider neighbourhood, and on creating conditions for stability and prosperity based on the rule of law and respect for human rights, which necessarily comprises addressing the root causes of the current wars and conflicts, migratory flows and the refugee crisis;

20.  Is convinced that the EU should be more engaged in de-escalatory diplomacy, especially in the Southern Neighbourhood; believes that the new strategy should include ways in which the EU could build on the recent Iran nuclear deal and promote further confidence building and other security-related regional arrangements, which might also build on Europe’s own experiences with regional security arrangements such as the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) and agreements such as the Helsinki Final Act;

21.  Is of the opinion that in order to build stability and peace, and promote human security, the rule of law, respect for human rights and democratisation, the EU should keep up its enlargement and integration commitments, based on policies which foster economic growth and inclusive societies, and continue cooperation with very closely associated countries within the context of the newly revised European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP); recalls that according to Article 49 TEU any European state may apply to become a member of the European Union, provided it adheres to the Copenhagen criteria, which are set and non-negotiable, and the principles of democracy and respect for fundamental freedoms and human and minority rights, and ensures the rule of law; considers that the EU should maintain at all times a coherent and consistent engagement in both its Eastern and Southern neighbourhoods;

22.  Believes that the current refugee crisis demands a holistic European approach and urgent concerted action, employing both internal and external instruments; calls for a long-term strategy and sustainable management of asylum, migration and readmission policies on the basis of common principles and solidarity and with due regard for human rights and human security; calls for the reinforcement of the Schengen system, the European Border and Coast Guard and FRONTEX; in this context, asks the Commission to propose effective and sustainable solutions; believes that in this regard the EU should promote a more practical and comprehensive approach to assist Africa, the Middle East and fragile and war-prone countries and regions;

23.  Believes that inclusive multilateral diplomacy under the coordination and leadership of the VP/HR is crucial in conflict resolution and crisis management, both in the neighbourhood and globally; stresses that more strategic direction, consistency and positive synergies need to be developed between increasingly interlinked external action policies and internal policies at EU level, within Member States, and between the EEAS and the Commission;

Strengthen multilateral global governance

24.  Believes that the EU should be a constructive and resilient global actor with a regional focus, equipped with the necessary civilian and military means, and aspire to be a ‘rule-maker’, contributing to and reinforcing an efficient multilateral global governance with the aim of strengthening democracy, good governance, the rule of law and human rights; emphasises that the CSDP is a key instrument for crisis prevention and resolution;

25.  Calls on the EU institutions and Member States to pursue the comprehensive / joined-up / integral approach in their external action and to take account of the inextricable link between internal and external security; in this regard, calls on the EU to develop synergies between security, development, trade, human rights, democracy promotion activities and EU external action, and to make these policies part of its global strategy; emphasises the need to ensure that EU action in the area of trade also helps to achieve objectives relating to non-proliferation, the promotion of peace and the safeguarding of human rights;

26.  Recalls the significant and growing role that energy security will play in EU internal development and its relations with local, regional and international partners; calls for swift and full implementation of the five pillars of the Energy Union; believes that it is in the strategic interest of the EU to endow the Commission with a prerogative to co-negotiate and co-sign all contracts on energy supplies from, and production in, third countries;

27.  Highlights the need for a political will in the Member States to show greater flexibility on CSDP issues in order to create genuine momentum in this area; supports the establishment of the Council of Defence Ministers format, as well as regular European Council meetings on defence; urges willing Member States to establish a Permanent Structured Cooperation in Defence (PESCO); stresses, in this regard, the need to overcome structural limitations related in particular to needs assessment, capabilities (civilian and military) and common financing; believes that the use of PESCO and of Article 44 TEU represent the institutional methods best suited to moving this common policy forward in a realistic manner;

28.  Supports the principle that EU Member States should commit to using at least 2 % of their GDP for defence expenditure by 2024 in order to attain the necessary and adequate civilian and military capabilities to implement the objectives of the CFSP/CSDP, while enhancing economies of scale through co-development and cooperation and reducing disparities among Member States;

29.  Emphasises that enhancing cooperation with global and regional actors on global threats and challenges is necessary in order to achieve a global rules-based order; believes that pairing up on specific sectoral issues with interested regional actors allows European values to be shared and contributes to growth and development; recalls that global threats often have local causes and that, as a result, their solution requires the involvement of local actors; notes that establishing closer relationships with non-state actors, local and regional governments and civil society is also crucial to ensuring a comprehensive approach to global challenges such as climate change and terrorism, and that the way the EU builds and defines partnerships needs to be reviewed in order to enhance partners’ sense of ownership and further incorporate a multi-stakeholder approach;

30.  Believes that engagement with key global and regional actors – states, organisations and institutions – must be based on the fundamental principles and strategic interests of the Union, respect for international law, and identified common objectives and interests, taking into account their strategic weight and their potential contribution to addressing global threats and challenges; believes that strategic connectivity projects can play a vital role in building strong and stable relations with Europe’s key partners;

31.  Calls for stepped-up engagement with regional powers and frameworks in pursuit of sustainable synergies on peace, security, conflict prevention and crisis management, and for reinforced support to countries that are under severe pressure from regional crises, including engagement in building resilient and stable institutions and an inclusive society for leveraging trade and sectoral agreements to promote security, stability and prosperity, and pursuing comprehensive regional strategies;

32.  Deplores the fact that autocratic and repressive regimes are increasingly successful with regard to their ability to undermine or thwart human rights, development, democracy and the development of an active civil society; urges the VP/HR to address this negative global trend in the context of the Global Strategy;

33.  Notes that the Union’s prosperity is determined by its capacity to stay innovative and competitive and to profit from a high-paced global economy; considers that the EU must use all its policy tools in a coherent manner to create favourable external conditions for the sustainable growth of the European economy; considers that the EU must be an engaged and active actor, promoting free and fair trade and investment, secure trade channels and increased market access throughout the world, and safeguarding the stability of the global financial system by promoting high standards of regulation and governance;

34.  Notes that in order to attain the above objectives, the EU must reinforce its cooperation with a reformed UN and position itself to influence and steer action in the global fora on the governance of those domains where EU strategic interests and security unfold, and must deepen its partnerships with other global and regional actors, revitalise its strategic partnerships and transform these into effective policy tools, including its partnerships with non-state actors; considers that the EU must also strengthen European diplomacy, enhance its operational capacities to prevent conflict, support democracy and peace, manage crises and build alliances through mediation and dialogue, and promote and empower civil society; encourages deeper cooperation between the EU and the UN and between the EU and the AU in Peace Support Operations; stresses that approaches to conflict-solving should be embedded as much as possible in multilateral agreed solutions, with due respect for the multiple dimensions such interventions need to cover in the fields of peacekeeping and enforcing, sustainable development, tackling root causes of migration and respect for human rights;

35.  Draws attention to the key role which the Union plays in the area of development aid, and calls on the Member States to honour their undertakings to earmark 0,7 % of their GDP for public development aid; calls on the EU to foster a more pragmatic approach to aid by encouraging the use of budgetary support; calls on the Member States to do everything in their power to achieve the sustainable development objectives;

36.  Stresses that development is not possible without security, and security is not possible without development; points out that EU development policy therefore needs to be an essential part of the EU Global Strategy on Foreign and Security Policy;

37.  Welcomes the aim of the new EU Global Strategy on Foreign and Security Policy to be comprehensive, enhance coherence between internal and external policies and improve coordination between institutions and with Member States; recalls the Treaty obligation to respect the principle of Policy Coherence for Development (PCD) and to avoid any contradictions between development and non-development policies that have an impact on developing countries; calls on the Member States and the Commission therefore to establish and consolidate systems of coordination between their respective ministries and among the whole College of Commissioners respectively, and to further involve national parliaments in the PCD agenda, and calls for the EU to reinforce a coordination mechanism for identifying the potential implications of policies on development objectives, integrating development aspects into policy initiatives from the outset and introducing a more systematic measurement of impacts and progress as regards PCD; calls in this regard for the establishment of effective remedies for victims in cases where domestic jurisdiction is clearly unable to deal with policies implemented by any foreign entity;

38.  Welcomes the fact that the link between peace and development has been duly reflected in the new Agenda 2030 and, as a result, Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 16 on peace and justice was introduced; calls for the EU and the Member States to prioritise, inter alia, activities related to fulfilling SDG 16 (human rights, good governance, peace and democracy building) and to ensure that these are among the focal sectors of National Indicative Programmes (NIP) within development cooperation programming;

39.  Calls for a revision of the European consensus on development as an important contribution to an updated, coherent global EU strategy; underlines that such a revision should take into consideration new global challenges, address the EU’s implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals and reiterate underlying values such as respect for human rights, paying special attention to the rights of vulnerable groups such as girls, women, and people with disabilities, democracy, and the rule of law, but also key development effectiveness principles such as ownership of development strategies by partner countries, enhanced accountability as regards partner countries’ national systems, and differentiation based on needs, but also performance criteria based on sustainable development objectives; stresses that the European Union should do its utmost to strengthen the complementarity between all development actors in order to exploit the full potential of European development policy and thus accelerate the implementation of the development agenda for 2030;

40.  Notes with concern the increase in debt unsustainability both in developed and developing countries; calls on the Commission to enhance the principle of common responsibility of borrowers and lenders, and to effectively follow and promote the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) principles on responsible borrowing and lending in all its policy areas; calls, in this regard, for the EU and its Member States to engage constructively with the UN’s work towards a sovereign debt workout international mechanism;

41.  Considers it regrettable that a regulatory framework on the way corporations comply with human rights and obligations with respect to social and environmental standards is still lacking, which allows certain states and companies to circumvent them with impunity; calls for the EU and the Member States to engage actively with the work of the UN Human Rights Council and of the UN Environment Programme on an international treaty to hold transnational corporations accountable for human rights abuses and violations of environmental standards;

42.  Supports the idea of redefining the EU’s relationship with the African, Caribbean and Pacific countries by enhancing an equal partners policy, respecting the democratic policy space of sovereign countries’ governments to take policy decisions to the benefit of their populations and upgrading the principle of good governance and human rights as essential elements of the post-Cotonou agreement and by effectively enhancing links between EU development objectives on trade, security, climate change and migration policies for mutual reinforcement; calls for the putting in place of formal scrutiny powers in relation to the European Development Fund, possibly through a binding interinstitutional agreement under Article 295 of the Lisbon Treaty; calls for a fair and ambitious post-2020 EU-ACP partnership based on the principles of ownership and mutual respect between partners with equal rights and obligations that better focuses on common challenges and interests and that is better adapted to make a real change to the wills of both parties and the challenges they face; calls for the European Union to promote instruments for trade with the ACP countries, in particular Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs), in order to make a real change to the security and prosperity of both parties;

43.  Emphasises that the EU must continue and reinforce its efforts to promote economic development and resilience in its neighbourhood and in regions that are critical to EU interests; recalls that small and medium-sized enterprises are the prime suppliers of jobs and that facilitating their work is thus crucial to foster economic development;

44.  Calls on the VP/HR, the Commission and the Member States to establish a clear link between the EU Global Strategy and the structure and priorities of the EU budget, including enhanced own resources, to allocate the necessary resources for its implementation and to make the best possible use of existing budgets through better cooperation and coordinated action in the fields of diplomacy, development, trade, energy and defence;

Engage – the EU, national parliaments and European citizens

45.  Emphasises that the Global Strategy should be revised every five years, in synchrony with the new European Parliament and the new Commission, which would allow verification of whether its objectives and priorities still fitted the threats and security environment and enable the new VP/HR to engage in a revision;

46.  Emphasises that EU actions are subject to oversight by the European Parliament and national parliaments and that the European Parliament plays a key role in the regular, detailed monitoring of the external action of the EU institutions and considers that the national parliaments could be more closely involved in this monitoring exercise; recalls that the European Parliament is a key partner of the VP/HR in shaping the EU’s external relations and addressing the current challenges, including by monitoring EU foreign policy actions; calls for annual implementation reports of the strategy to be submitted to the European Parliament;

47.  Takes the view that Parliament should play its full role within EU efforts to prevent conflict;

48.  Emphasises the importance of actively involving national parliaments in the process by means of more thorough joint scrutiny with the European Parliament during the sessions of the Inter-Parliamentary Conference on CFSP/CSDP;

49.  Strongly urges European policy-makers to engage with citizens, civil society, industry, and local and regional authorities on the necessity and benefits of providing a stronger framework for Europe’s security;

o
o   o

50.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission and the European External Action Service.

(1) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0213.
(2) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0019.
(3) OJ L 266, 13.10.2015, p. 55.
(4) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0470.
(5) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0472.


Implementation and review of the EU-Central Asia Strategy
PDF 347kWORD 158k
European Parliament resolution of 13 April 2016 on implementation and review of the EU-Central Asia Strategy (2015/2220(INI))
P8_TA(2016)0121A8-0051/2016

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the fourth progress report of 13 January 2015 on the implementation of the EU Strategy for Central Asia adopted in 2007,

–   having regard to the Council conclusions on the EU Strategy for Central Asia as adopted by the Foreign Affairs Council on 22 June 2015,

–  having regard to the commitments announced at the EU-Central Asian ministerial meeting held in Brussels on 20 November 2013,

–  having regard to the Joint Communiqué of the Fifth EU-Central Asia High-level Conference on Energy and Water Cooperation held in Milan on 12 and 13 October 2015,

–  having regard to the results of the OSCE Human Dimension Implementation Meeting held in Warsaw from 21 September to 2 October 2015,

–  having regard to the Istanbul Process on Regional Security and Cooperation for a Secure and Stable Afghanistan launched in Turkey in 2011, and the ‘Heart of Asia’ ministerial conference held in Kabul on 14 June 2012 aiming at its enforcement,

–  having regard to the Committee on Foreign Affairs’ support and positive evaluation in respect of the newly appointed EU Special Representative for Central Asia, Peter Burian, at its hearing on 1 June 2015,

–  having regard to its previous resolutions on the region, in particular those of 20 February 2008 on an EU Strategy for Central Asia(1) and 15 December 2011 on the state of implementation of the EU Strategy for Central Asia(2),

–  having regard to its resolution of 29 April 2015 on the Court of Auditors’ special reports in the context of the 2013 Commission discharge(3), and in particular part II of the Special Report No 13/2013 of the Court of Auditors entitled ‘EU Development Assistance to Central Asia’,

–  having regard to its resolution of 29 April 2015 with observations forming an integral part of the decisions on discharge in respect of the implementation of the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2013, Section III – Commission and executive agencies(4), and in particular to paragraph 240 thereof,

–  having regard to its resolution of 12 June 2012 on ‘Engaging in energy policy cooperation with partners beyond our borders: A strategic approach to secure, sustainable and competitive energy supply’(5),

–  having regard to its resolution of 22 November 2012 on the role of the Common Security and Defence Policy in case of climate-driven crises and natural disasters(6),

–  having regard to its resolution of 13 March 2014 on EU priorities for the 25th session of the UN Human Rights Council(7),

–  having regard to its resolution of 13 December 2012 on the review of the EU’s human rights strategy(8),

–  having regard to its resolution of 13 December 2012 on the annual report on Human Rights and Democracy in the World 2011 and the European Union’s policy on the matter(9),

–  having regard to its resolution of 17 June 2010 on EU policies in favour of human rights defenders(10),

–  having regard to its resolution of 8 September 2015 on human rights and technology: the impact of intrusion and surveillance systems on human rights in third countries(11),

–  having regard to its resolution of 11 December 2012 on a Digital Freedom Strategy in EU Foreign Policy(12),

–  having regard to its resolution of 11 November 2010 on ‘Strengthening the OSCE – a role of the EU’(13),

–  having regard to its resolution of 22 November 2012 containing its recommendations to the Council, the Commission and the European External Action Service on the negotiations for an EU-Kazakhstan enhanced partnership and cooperation agreement(14),

–  having regard to its resolution of 15 March 2012 on Kazakhstan(15),

–  having regard to its resolution of 18 April 2013 on the human rights situation in Kazakhstan(16),

–  having regard to its resolution of 15 January 2015 on ‘Kyrgyzstan, homosexual propaganda bill’(17),

–  having regard to its position of 22 October 2013 on the Council position at first reading with a view to the adoption of a decision of the European Parliament and of the Council providing macrofinancial assistance to the Kyrgyz Republic(18),

–  having regard to its resolution of 8 July 2010 on the situation in Kyrgyzstan(19),

–  having regard to its resolution of 6 May 2010 on the situation in Kyrgyzstan(20),

–  having regard to its resolution of 17 September 2009 on the conclusion of a Partnership and Cooperation Agreement between the European Communities and their Member States, of the one part, and the Republic of Tajikistan, of the other part(21),

–  having regard to its resolution of 23 October 2014 on human rights in Uzbekistan(22),

–  having regard to its resolution of 15 December 2011 on the draft Council decision on the conclusion of a Protocol to the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement establishing a partnership between the European Communities and their Member States, of the one part, and the Republic of Uzbekistan, of the other part, amending the Agreement in order to extend the provisions of the Agreement to bilateral trade in textiles, taking account of the expiry of the bilateral textiles Agreement(23),

–  having regard to its resolution of 14 March 2013 on EU-China relations(24),

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

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

–  having regard to United Nations General Assembly Resolution A/RES/53/144, ‘Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognised Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms’, better known as ‘The Declaration on Human Rights Defenders’,

–  having regard to the ongoing reviews of the EU Global Strategy for foreign and security policy and of the European Neighbourhood Policy,

–  having regard to Article 21 of the TEU,

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Foreign Affairs and the opinions of the Committee on Development, the Committee on International Trade and the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality (A8-0051/2016),

A.  whereas the EU-Central Asia Strategy was adopted in a context of growing importance of the region and increased EU engagement in neighbouring Afghanistan, the extension of the European Neighbourhood Policy to the Caspian region, ongoing EU support for reform and modernisation of post-Soviet societies, and EU energy security interests; whereas it also recognised the security threats and challenges that require greater cooperation between Central Asia and the EU as well as its Member States; whereas the Strategy has been implemented for almost 8 years;

B.  whereas despite its common past Central Asia is a heterogeneous region with a multiethnic and multi-denominational character; whereas the lack of mutual trust and persisting tension over the use and sharing of natural resources have so far undermined the development of a genuine regional cooperation;

C.  whereas respect for democracy, the rule of law and human rights is a basic condition for deeper cooperation between the EU and the five countries of Central Asia in areas of mutual interest, under the very meaning of the term ‘partnership’ as vested in the Partnership Cooperation Agreements; whereas the overall situation of democracy and human rights in the region remains to various degrees poor and worrying;

D.  whereas serious failings in the rule of law and in respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms hamper the Central Asian countries’ chances of sustainable development and good governance, to the detriment of their societies;

E.  whereas trade and energy links enhance EU-Central Asia relations and promote common values such as the rule of law, good governance and respect for human rights; whereas the GSP system aims at the diversification of the Central Asian economies;

F.  whereas some Member States have developed and deepened bilateral relations with some of the countries of Central Asia; whereas the EU needs a coherent and consistent approach towards the region in order to avoid any overlapping or sending out mixed and confusing signals;

G.  whereas EU development aid to Central Asia, mainly under the Development Cooperation Instrument (DCI), has been increased to EUR 1 billion in 2014-2020, i.e. by 56 % compared to the programming period 2007- 2013;

H.  whereas the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR) represents an important financing tool aiming to support civil society organisations and democratisation;

I.  whereas the region is increasingly affected by religious fanaticism, reflected in the support for IS/Da’esh, Al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Hizb-ut-Tahrir, and a large number of people have left to join IS/Da’esh in Syria and Iraq;

J.  whereas the region is an important transit route for drugs between Afghanistan and Russia and certain local clans are involved in this lucrative trade, which allows them to exert significant political influence owing to corruption and a mingling of interests;

K.  whereas education has a crucial role to play in fostering the stable, secure and sustainable development of the region;

L.  whereas in June 2015 the Foreign Affairs Council reiterated its commitment to promoting the rights of women and concluded that the empowerment of women in the region is an essential element for longer-term stability and good governance;

M.  whereas the Central Asian countries must improve the legal and administrative provisions of their asylum policy, and whereas regional consultative processes, such as the Almaty Process coordinated by the UNHCR and the IOM, may contribute to this;

N.  whereas the effects of global warming on Central Asia are still largely unknown, but it is already clear that the problems of water supply in the low‑lying countries will become even worse;

O.  whereas Russia and China have strong ties with and influence in the region, but there is still great scope for the EU to enhance its action and cooperation with Central Asian countries;

P.  recalling that various regional partnerships, such as the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO), the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) and the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU), include several Central Asian countries among their members while being dominated by Russia and/or China;

Q.  whereas the region has been integrated in the ‘One Belt, One Road’ initiative, and in particular the ‘New Silk Road Economic Belt’, enhancing its strategic importance;

R.  whereas the Central Asia region, while consisting of the Central Asian republics of the former Soviet Union, is also significantly influenced by Russia, China, Mongolia, Iran and Afghanistan;

General provisions on EU commitments

1.  Stresses the strong strategic, political and economic interest of the EU in strengthening its bilateral and multilateral relations with all the Central Asian countries, on the basis of common shared values as stated in the existing Partnership and Cooperation Agreements between the EU and Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan and in the agreement – albeit not yet in force – with Turkmenistan;

2.  Reiterates the EU’s strong interest in a prosperous, peaceful, democratic, stable, and inclusive Central Asia that functions as an economically and environmentally sustainable region, as stated in the strategy of 2007;

3.  Points out that the strategic approach adopted to date to shaping relations with Central Asian countries has demonstrated only limited viability and success; recognises that economic relations between the EU and the Central Asia Strategy’s target countries have seen no relevant expansion, that the aim of promoting regional cooperation and integration between Central Asian countries by means of exchange of experience and transfer of standards on the part of the EU has stalled;

4.  Believes that any considerable progress in the areas referred to in this resolution is yet to be achieved, but expresses the hope that the parties involved, namely both the EU and its Member States and the five Central Asian countries, will make serious efforts to achieve the aims and goals laid down in the official documents and treaties which form the legal basis for the Union’s bilateral and multilateral relations with, respectively, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan;

5.  Welcomes the review of the EU-Central Asia Strategy conducted by the EEAS, the Commission and the Council in 2015; takes the view, nevertheless, that the priorities, objectives and targets should be aligned more specifically to the interests, requirements and framework conditions of the Central Asian partner states, taking account of the differences between the countries of the region and of the uniqueness of each, and should therefore be more precisely defined through individual, tailor-made country action plans, and accompanied by benchmarks and indicators with a reasonable timeframe for completion, in order to adapt these action plans more flexibly to the framework conditions in the region, as quickly as possible;

6.  Agrees that the strategy adopted in 2007 and the long-term priority areas defined therein (respect for human rights and the rule of law, good governance and democratisation; youth and education; economic development, trade and investment; energy and transport; environmental sustainability and water; common security threats and challenges; and intercultural dialogue) remain relevant and necessary for a concrete European engagement in the region, in line with the objectives set in the EU strategy; welcomes, however, the more focused approach of the strategy review;

7.  Takes positive note of the rather ambitious strategy review; ad concurs with the Council’s designation of the region as strategically important, and accordingly agrees to strengthen effective cooperation regarding political, diplomatic and trade relations and to support a genuine democratic transition; in this context, welcomes the 56 % increase in and more specific focusing of EU development assistance to the region for the period 2014-2020 as compared with the previous period;

8.  Welcomes the fact that the review was discussed at the EU-Central Asia ministerial meeting held on 21 December 2015 in Astana; supports holding an EU-Central Asia summit, to promote the EU’s objectives in the region and address matters of concern and cooperation;

9.  Shares the view that a differentiated, conditional and incentive-based approach should be applied in order to achieve better results both bilaterally and regionally; believes that regional programmes, such as those for border management, for fighting drugs and trafficking, and for transport and energy, should be tailored so as to target interested parties, including countries of the wider region such as Afghanistan, Iran, Mongolia or Azerbaijan;

10.  Calls for the EU to cooperate more intensively on an ad hoc basis with those Central Asian countries that wish to go beyond the EU Strategy for Central Asia;

11.   Stresses that enhanced regional cooperation would improve the economic and security situation in the region; given the fact that Central Asia has weak interregional links, invites the EEAS and the Commission to develop projects that would foster such cooperation for those countries interested in enhancing those links;

12.  Underlines that the disbursement of EU funds should be clearly incentive- and performance-based, taking account of achievements in regard to a number of benchmarks to be established for each country, and depending on measurable progress with regard, in particular, to the fields of democratisation, preventing and fighting corruption, free and fair elections, human rights, ending drug trafficking, respect for labour rules, good governance, the rule of law, development, human security and good neighbourly relations;

13.  Agrees that concrete and constructive engagement and adoption of democratic reforms and governmental programmes can be taken as contributing indicators of achievement in numerous fields; nonetheless urges the Commission and the EEAS to base their assessments on facts established on the ground;

14.  Reiterates the need for higher political visibility for the EU in the Central Asia region; urges the EU and its Member States to speak with one voice, without bilateral negotiations that often weaken human rights requirements and fostering foreign policy coherence and coordination in the region, and together to introduce joint programming of aid and projects with Member States in order to achieve a full impact and synergy; urges the Council/EEAS/Commission to adopt a concrete action plan with measureable benchmarks enabling proper evaluation of progress made in the future; welcomes closer involvement and ownership on the part of Member States in terms of implementing the strategy;

15.  Welcomes the re-establishment of the post of EU Special Representative (EUSR) for Central Asia after a year-long gap, and expects that the newly appointed EUSR will make an important contribution to the implementation of the strategy for and to shaping relations with the Central Asian countries, by ensuring consistency of the external actions of the Union in the region and communicating the EU’s positions to political leaders and societies y in Central Asia;

16.  Requests the EUSR to focus on strengthening democracy, the rule of law, good governance and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, promoting regional cooperation and facilitating dialogue and the peaceful resolution of outstanding contentious issues, developing contacts not only with governments and parliaments but also with civil society and the media, contributing to conflict prevention and promoting regional security, and promoting sound environmental and climate change management, particularly in relation to water and hydrocarbon resources; asks the EUSR to report orally and in writing to Parliament on the major challenges, pursuant to Article 36 of the Treaty on European Union and to the Representative’s mandate;

17.  Requests the EEAS, the Commission and the EUSR to make the EU’s presence more prominent in Central Asia, ensuring greater visibility for the EU among the population, civil society, local media, and the business and university communities; urges the EEAS to balance quiet diplomacy with increased public diplomacy;

18.   Requests the EEAS to provide regular analysis on Central Asia, taking account of the region’s diverse neighbourhood and including issues touching on integrating Afghanistan and Iran and offering a comprehensive approach to the Caspian Sea;

19.  Calls on the Commission to ensure synergies, coherence and consistency between the measures taken by international organisations such as the OSCE, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the UNHCR and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), as well as between the various EU external financing instruments deployed in the region, such as the DCI, the Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace (ISP), the EIDHR and the Partnership Instrument (PI), as well as to step up coordination with the EBRD and the EIB;

20.  Calls on the EU to cooperate with the aid and development projects of the US in the fields of environment, education and climate policy, in order to improve effectiveness and to jointly reach a wider public;

21.  Calls for closer cooperation between the EU and the OSCE on Central Asia, especially in the fields of human rights, democratisation and security, with the aim of joining and complementing, where appropriate, their efforts in the region;

22.  Encourages the EU delegations in Central Asia to use their potential to maximal effect in contributing to implementation of the EU Strategy, in particular with regard to support for and engagement with civil society;

23.  Supports continued interparliamentary cooperation, and highlights the role of its standing delegation for relations with the region in monitoring the implementation of PCAs with the countries of the region;

Democratisation, human rights and the rule of law

24.  Urges the Council, the EEAS and the Commission to attach great importance to and engage proactively with the promotion and reinforcement of democracy, the enforcement of civil, political and human rights, including those social rights codified in the UN’s Social Covenant, the establishment of the rule of law, and good governance and administrative action in the Central Asian countries, thereby laying the foundations for security and stability, for establishing open societies in the countries in question, and, as a result, for providing best practices for facing external and internal political, security and economic pressures and challenges;

25.  Stresses that respect for human rights and democracy must be at the core of the EU strategy vis-a-vis the scope of cooperation envisaged in the PCAs, entailing the application of the human rights and democracy clause; regrets that the legal obligations vested in the PCAs for upholding democracy and the rule of law have not been properly implemented, with the exception of some progress made in Kyrgyzstan;

26.  Regrets that overall respect for democratic standards, human rights and fundamental freedoms has not yet reached an acceptable level; regrets that the human rights situation overall remains worrying, but stresses that there have nevertheless been limited positive developments in some countries of the region, including legislative reforms, increased efforts to prevent torture, and steps towards eliminating child labour and forced labour;

27.  Highlights the added value and further potential of the Rule of Law Platform, coordinated by Germany and France with active support from Finland and Latvia, in organising several events related to constitutional and administrative law and the training of judges; encourages other Member States to take a more proactive role in this respect; insists, however, that the platform be enhanced to cover actual democratisation and human rights issues; calls for the full involvement of and closer cooperation with civil society in relation to this platform; calls on the EU and Member States’ embassies to support genuinely independent non-governmental partners;

28.  Draws attention to the discrepancies existing between the adoption of laws and their implementation in practice, resulting in incorrect assessment of progress; urges the EEAS/Commission to evaluate progress on the basis of real practical results, rather than assessments based on legislation and declarations;

29.  Recommends that the EU tailors its human rights policy and external financing instruments better, keeping a consistent long-term democratic reform as the guiding light;

30.  Strongly condemns the continued persecution of human rights defenders, opposition political figures and journalists in Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan, and calls on the EEAS to use all means at its disposal to act swiftly in their defence;

31.  Condemns the targeting of exiled opposition representatives by some of the Central Asian regimes, including murders and abuse of extradition procedures though Interpol; urges Member States to provide better protection and to avoid deporting them in line with the principle of non-refoulement, which forbids the rendering of genuine victims of persecution to their persecutor;

32.  Urges the EEAS, in this regard, to make forthright declarations condemning repressive steps taken by Central Asian regimes in the name of preserving public security, whilst recognising legitimate security concerns;

33.  Calls on the Council, the EEAS and the Commission, in the course of the further development of relations, to urge the Central Asian partners to ratify the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court as soon as possible, and to approve and implement the ILO’s essential core standards and other ILO rules that remain outstanding;

34.  Understands the risk to security posed by returning foreign fighters who have been fighting alongside Da’esh, but expresses its deep concern at the growing trend towards clampdown on civil society and opposition parties on the pretext of security and stability, which it does not consider in any case to be a suitable response to this threat, including through doubtful charges of terrorist activity or vague accusations of inciting social hatred, the adoption of so-called ‘foreign agents laws’ which stigmatise and limit the activities of legitimate NGOs that receive foreign funding, and the increased use of monitoring, surveillance, censoring and filtering technologies; reminds the partner countries that a fully functioning democracy must observe freedom of expression and media plurality; stresses in this context that the suppression of free expression of opinion is in no way contributing to sustained internal stability; stresses that the relevant EU tools, such as the conducting of regular seminars with the general public and increased exchanges, should contribute to strengthening the position of the public, and that many of the communities concerned are more inclined at present to rely on relationships between groups and clans or networks controlled by the ruling elite;

35.  Calls on the countries of the region to consider the presence of international NGOs not as a threat but as a benefit to society, and to grant them full access to prison facilities in order to improve the transparency of the enforcement of penalties, particularly in relation to cooperation with all UN agencies and the International Red Cross;

36.  Is concerned at the increasing number of laws in the countries of the region restricting freedom of the media, freedom of expression, and freedom of assembly and association, and targeted on civil society funding (the ‘foreign agents laws’), and the LGBTI community (the ‘LGBTI propaganda laws’); considers that in this context, in addition to promoting the freedoms mentioned, the EU must also make it a priority to promote freedom of religion and belief and the rights of women, minors and minorities;

37.  Calls on the authorities to make further efforts to protect ethnic and religious minorities and LGBTI persons in Central Asian societies, to end discrimination against them, and to enforce the rights of vulnerable people, in particular of persons with disabilities;

38.  Recalls that the protection and promotion of children’s rights is among the key objectives of the EU, and calls on the authorities to support its implementation in compliance with international law and standards, in particular the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child;

39.  Welcomes the establishment of Human Rights Dialogues with all five countries of Central Asia; points out, however, the lack of transparency of the process, and calls on the VP/HR to review the role, mandate, objectives and follow-up of the Human Rights Dialogues with the countries of the region, and in particular to involve all stakeholders, including Islamic reformist political movements which are opposed to extremism, and to introduce systematic human rights monitoring mechanisms, as well as contingency plans to improve those mechanisms’ effectiveness should they reveal serious shortcomings; notes that the Human Rights Dialogues are important tools of engagement on the part of the EU with the Central Asian countries, enabling the implementation of smart strategies, and therefore should be used adequately; calls for these dialogues to be part of a comprehensive human rights engagement in the region; calls, in this regard, for human rights concerns to be raised and conveyed at all levels, including that of heads of state and government; urges the EU to raise individual concrete cases coherently and publicly;

40.  Stresses the importance of the Universal Periodic Review mechanism of the UN Human Rights Council in effectively implementing protection for human rights, the democratisation process and the rule of law in Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan;

41.  Reminds the Central Asian governments of their commitments within the human dimension of the OSCE;

42.  Welcomes UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s statements warning against a shrinking democratic space during his visit to the region in June 2015;

43.  Notes that there is practically no coordination between EU and US actions in Central Asia; encourages establishing more practical cooperation links; believes that joint action can be beneficial, especially in such fields as human security and human rights promotion;

Women’s rights and gender equality

44.  Recognises that, while Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan face separate challenges in advancing human rights, the region faces common challenges as regards addressing and promoting women’s rights and gender equality;

45.  Notes that, despite all five Central Asian countries having ratified the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), their culture remains patriarchal and male-dominated, that significant inequalities still exist between men and women in many areas, including as regards access to higher education, parts of the labour market and legal protection and rights, and that violence against women is still widespread in many parts of Central Asia and takes many forms, including domestic violence, bride-kidnapping, trafficking, early marriage and physical abuse; calls on the five countries to fully implement the CEDAW; reiterates that the support given by the EU must include specific measures to eradicate discrimination against women;

46.  Notes that women play a full and crucial role in agricultural production and farming across all the Central Asian countries, with the average share of women employed in the agricultural sector standing at 58 %(25); calls on all the Central Asian countries to encourage the employment of women and female entrepreneurship, particularly in rural areas; calls for the economic and social rights and empowerment of girls and women to be promoted and monitored, as a key objective of the EU’s relations with the region;

47.  Recognises the steps taken by individual Central Asian countries to improve gender equality, such as the amendments to Articles 154 and 155 of Kyrgyzstan’s Criminal Code, which came into force in February 2014 and toughened the penalty for the widely practiced custom of bride-kidnapping; notes, however, that the protection of women’s rights and the promotion of gender equality across the region still remain a challenge; asks the Commission to further support the Central Asian countries in developing their women’s rights agendas with a view to developing and achieving gender equality and ensuring that everyone, including the most vulnerable members of society, can fully enjoy their human rights;

48.  Welcomes Kazakhstan’s Gender Equality Strategy and the 45 political, social and economic measures contained therein; asks the Commission to further support the Central Asian countries in developing their women’s rights agendas, and calls for more effective implementation of this strategy; regrets the lack of female representation in Kazakh public decision-making bodies, despite a 30 % quota being legally required in political institutions;

49.  Asks the EEAS, within the review of its Central Asia Strategy and in line with its priorities for 2016-2020 and the progress already made by Central Asian countries, to establish a comprehensive Gender Equality Action Plan, with concrete actions to improve women’s rights and women’s living conditions; considers that every Central Asian country should be encouraged to enact legislation which explicitly prohibits all forms of violence and discrimination against women, including sexual, physical, physiological and economic abuse, that prevent them from working or from accessing bank accounts, credit cards or transportation, among other isolating tactics; points out that financial security is the number one predictor of whether or not a victim of domestic violence will break free and remain free from further abuse; calls on the Central Asian countries to treat violence against women as a criminal offence, to properly investigate all reported cases and to implement measures to guarantee protection, assistance and access to justice for victims, together with mechanisms to ensure the enforcement of the law; notes that the marriage agency industry is relatively significant in Central Asia and asks that countries in the region consider regulating these agencies so as to best protect vulnerable women from exploitation; calls on the Central Asian countries to organise education campaigns about the right to live free from violence and awareness-raising initiatives for society as a whole, and especially religious leaders, about the absolute requirement to obtain the consent of both parties to marriage ceremonies;

50.  Notes that there is a gap between the law and reality and that, while some countries have a legal code guaranteeing equal rights with regard to the distribution of property, discrimination still persists in favour of male heirs; is concerned that the lack of legal registration of marriages in Tajikistan leaves women in a particularly vulnerable position after a divorce, given that OSCE research has shown that, because of this, 80 % of women in divorce cases are denied property rights and child support;

51.  Urges the EU to support civil society organisations working to defend human rights and promote gender equality in Central Asian countries, and to cooperate actively with international organisations involved in the field of gender equality, for example the ILO, the OECD, and the UN, with a view to creating synergies serving to empower women;

52.  Notes that women are poorly represented in ministerial posts, accounting in 2015 for 15 % and 5,7 % of such posts respectively in Kyrgyzstan and Turkmenistan(26); encourages the Central Asian countries and the Commission to focus also on women’s involvement in decision-making, in particular in the political sphere, and recommends that a quota system be introduced to promote women’s participation, above all as candidates for office;

53.  Calls on the Central Asian countries to promote equal access to information and communication technologies in order to ensure women’s potential for stimulating growth in local and global economies;

54.  Recommends that judicial personnel be made aware of and trained in gender issues, and points to the need to punish persons who commit gender-based violence;

55.  Stresses the need to organise training courses on violence against women and trafficking for law enforcement officers, prosecutors and judicial personnel, and to establish accessible centres and shelters offering psychological and legal support for victims;

56.  Emphasises the importance of properly funding institutions and bodies responsible for implementing gender equality policies and of ensuring autonomy and funding for civil society organisations working for women’s rights;

Education and youth – people-to-people exchanges

57.  Stresses that education is one of the key areas for the EU to deploy its long-term action in Central Asia; considers education to be a crucial pillar of integration and a democratic economic and social development enabler for all the countries of Central Asia; supports the work carried out by the Central Asia Education Platform by means of educational and institutional programmes providing technical support and dialogue through seminars (such as Bishkek 2014); in this regard, welcomes Latvia’s initiative to organise the 1st EU-Central Asia ministerial meeting on education and the commitment of Latvia and Poland to lead the regional programme on education, following a disappointing long-term unwillingness of some Member States to do so; calls on the EU and its Member States to actively contribute to the implementation of the respective goals brought forward during the Latvian presidency in the first half of 2015; regards investment in inclusive and quality education as the best way to gradually improve the socio-economic situation of the region;

58.  Encourages the Commission to address the identified shortcomings of the EU-Central Asia Education Platform, such as fair access to education, problems related to ‘brain drain’, and the training of disadvantaged and vulnerable groups, such as girls, children with disabilities and children belonging to minorities;

59.  Urges the EU to devote more attention to the promotion of quality education among young people in the Central Asian countries, given the positive effects in terms of social inclusion, social cohesion and stability, and building sustainable democratic societies, and as the best form of prevention against violent extremism and radicalisation among youth in the region; regards this as a priority, given the demographic challenge of a ‘youth bulge’, with those aged 14 or under making up 25-35 % of the population; asks for more attention to be paid to cross‑border projects for intercultural reconciliation and development in the Ferghana Valley;

60.  Welcomes the increase in school enrolments at both primary and secondary level, noting the importance of continuing on this path; welcomes the fact that there is near- parity in the numbers of females and males completing primary and secondary school; underlines the importance of women having access to vocational training and university education, particularly in Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, where a significant gap still exists between the numbers of females and males enrolled in tertiary education;

61.  Points to the importance of women’s access to vocational training and university education, including a greater take-up rate in the fields of science and technology, and urges the EUSR to encourage incentives in this area; considers that the EU should intensify its action in this field, for instance by organising teacher training courses and supplying educational materials; calls for steps to be taken to modernise the public education sector, promote international academic exchanges and enable women to participate on equal terms; considers that gender equality training courses should be devised for education professionals;

62.  Considers that the EU’s positive role in the region should be advanced via education and people-to-people contacts; recalls the importance of the EU’s international exchange programmes, such as Erasmus +, Erasmus Mundus and Erasmus Tempus, in promoting positive mobility and intercultural dialogue between the EU and Central Asia and in providing opportunities for empowerment for students benefiting from the programmes, thus bringing the two cultures closer together; commends the fact that the EU has budgeted EUR 115 million for the Erasmus+ educational cooperation programme in the region; calls on all relevant stakeholders, at Union level as well as in the Member States, to evaluate and reinforce the existing mechanisms of the study/scholarships programs and young professionals’ exchanges between the EU and the Central Asia region, especially in technology and applied sciences;

63.  Welcomes the fact that all five Central Asian countries have been closely following the Bologna process, driving numerous national reforms in recent years;

64.  Invites the Commission to promote the participation of Central Asian scientists, institutes and businesses in collaborative research and innovation projects financed under the Horizon 2020 programme;

Economic integration, trade and sustainable development

65.  Notes the common characteristics resulting from older history, including that of the Silk Routes, colonisation by Turkic tribes and the reception of Islam; notes also that the five countries in the region are at differing stages in their development, i.e.: Kazakhstan is emerging as a key player in the region, with which the EU’s relations are progressing steadily; Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan are much poorer, but relatively open, with a degree of civil society involvement; the EU’s relationship with Uzbekistan is also developing; but Turkmenistan remains the most closed country in the region, with no effective independent civil society;

66.  Points to the fact that there is also considerable diversity in the region, not least in endowments of natural resources such as fossil fuels and arable land, and – partly as a consequence of this – in the countries’ current levels of human and economic development; stresses the importance of taking into account, on the one hand, the cultural differences within the region, and, on the other hand, the interdependency among the countries;

67.  Recognises the possible positive impact of a new impulse in economic cooperation between the EU and Central Asia on modernisation and democratisation in the region;

68.  Believes that economic diversification in the region provides added value in terms of regional development, stability and security, taking into account social, economic and environmental balance; considers it essential to modernise and develop sustainable domestic transport and energy infrastructure, especially in rural areas, improve access to high-speed internet, and facilitate the development of interregional connectivity; takes the view that environmental rehabilitation and sustainable development should have equal priority in the context of the development of the region, and stresses the importance of trade in promoting both; favours an increase in EU support for resource management in the Central Asian countries and encouraging cross-border cooperation among them;

69.  Is concerned at the lack of socio-economic development, which is stalled and uneven, the lack of state transparency and the consequent corruption, poor governance, weak institutional framework, lack of respect for the rule of law and low participation of civil society, encouraging clientelism and exacerbating the problems of corruption and lack of state efficiency;

70.  Underlines the growing importance of trade relations between the EU and Central Asia, with the EU now the first trading partner in the region; stresses the need for the EU to further step up trade and investment relations with the Central Asian countries; points out, in this regard, the need for the Central Asian countries to strengthen their efforts in tackling corruption and in promoting a stable environment in order to attract foreign investment;

71.  Is of the opinion that economic and trade relations with the countries of Central Asia must advance hand in hand with, and never at the expense, of the rule of law, democracy, and human rights and fundamental freedoms; recalls, to this end, the importance of activating the provisions laid down in the relevant clauses of the trade agreements signed with the EU should the other contracting party violate human rights;

72.  Points out that inclusive and sustainable economic development is among the key priorities of the Strategy; stresses the need for the Central Asian countries to promote active policies aimed at poverty reduction and fighting social exclusion; notes the deep negative impact on the region of the economic slowdown in Russia and China, as well as of the ongoing geopolitical tensions and the conflict in Ukraine; underlines, in this regard, that the deteriorating economic trends arising from falling commodity prices, the devaluation of the rouble and the fall in remittances from migrants in Russia, many of whom are now returning home unemployed, pose serious socio-economic challenges for the region; notes that, against this backdrop, the region’s growth rate post-2014 is expected to be roughly half the average rate for the previous ten years;

73.  Urges the Commission to develop programmes facilitating the social reintegration and employment of returnees from abroad and a stronger dialogue on migration and mobility;

74.  Underlines the need for a EU-Central Asia strategy that is not based on geostrategic interests but is designed to develop a participative and democratic society, characterised by freedom of association for trade unions and an active civil society, and to boost gender equality and the empowerment of women, especially in rural areas;

75.  Stresses that, despite rapid economic growth in recent years, the region faces high poverty rates, high income inequality and declining life expectancy, especially in rural areas, where 80-90 % of the population live; stresses that the process of privatisation during the economic transition has, to a large extent, left mountain regions behind; emphasises that women in those regions are particularly affected, as many men migrate to cities in search of employment, leaving women with the entire burden of farm work and family responsibilities;

76.  Highlights the importance of making the Strategy consistent with global commitments, in particular with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, as adopted on 25 September 2015 at the UN Sustainable Development Summit;

77.  Encourages the mainstreaming of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the EU’s development agenda in the region; reiterates that including the SDGs will result in more comprehensive sustainable development in the Central Asia region;

78.  Stresses the importance of the EU seizing the opportunity of development cooperation in order to promote respect for human rights and achieve the SDGs, so as to raise levels of trade and investment in all countries in the region and strengthen the role and involvement of the social partners in civil society;

79.  Is of the opinion that development aid should be disbursed only in countries with a genuine commitment to the alleviation of poverty, equal and sustainable socio-economic progress and respect for human rights, and that those countries must demonstrate that they have effective anti-corruption policies and allow the EU to monitor implementation of the corresponding efforts; questions, in this respect, the rationale for and cost-effectiveness of the aid granted to Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan; requests that the policy be reviewed should improvements occur; encourages the VP/HR to help foster progress in this field; regrets that due to the high levels of corruption and ineffective bureaucracy the absorption capacity of aid is very low and its positive implications are very limited;

80.  Notes that the current review was deliberately decoupled from the 2014-2020 programming exercise of the Development Cooperation Instrument for Central Asia concluded in 2014, in order to avoid any confusion or duplication while preserving the coherence of EU action in the region;

81.  Urges that development assistance be focused on rural development and sustainable farming, in particular to wean farming away from monocultures such as cotton-growing;

82.  Calls for the EU to monitor the effectiveness of its technical and financial assistance to public-sector reform in the countries of Central Asia;

83.  Calls for the coordination of EU development policies with Member States’ activities in the region; calls for close development policy cooperation with the US within the framework of our sustainable development partnership; also calls for cooperation with China and Russia in developing the Central Asia region;

84.  Takes into account China’s assertiveness in the region and the shift in its role from external commercial partner to regional economic governance mediator, including the regional provision of collective goods;

85.  Believes that synergies between the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) and China’s ‘One Belt One Road’ initiative will constitute an important tool for bringing about economic and social development in the region;

86.  Notes also that two countries, namely Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, have joined the new Eurasian Economic Union initiated by Russia;

87.  Calls for close cooperation by the EU with UN funds and agencies and with the World Bank;

88.   Takes note of the continued sectorial budget support in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, and calls on the Commission and the EEAS to define and apply robust and objectively verifiable conditions, for any continuing budget support programmes in particular; emphasises, however, that this must be accompanied by more stringent criteria, including a strong reform agenda and effective anti-corruption measures; points out that EU budget support should not be used for direct financing of the basic public services (such as primary and secondary education, basic healthcare and basic infrastructure), which is a primary responsibility of the authorities; considers, rather, that EU aid should be tied to the performance of the authorities in this regard, and that EU budget support should encourage the development of advanced public services such as research, innovations, university education, innovative infrastructure, etc.;

89.  Welcomes the increase in macrofinancial assistance, and calls for the instrument concerned to be employed on the basis of stringent cost-benefit criteria and detailed impact assessments which focus on spillover effects; taking into consideration the highlights of the Strategy progress reports, emphasises the importance of Member States’ involvement in the implementation of EU assistance in order to achieve greater impact and improve results;

90.  Welcomes Kyrgyzstan’s request for application of the GSP+ arrangements, and hopes that Tajikistan and Uzbekistan will follow its example;

91.  Considers it important that all of the countries of Central Asia respect the rules of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and join the WTO;

92.  Recognises, in line with the OECD’s findings, the particular importance of FDI-SME business linkage programmes (BLPs) as a tool for diversification and for maximising the spillover effect of investments, enabling the Central Asian countries to tie FDI more closely to their domestic economies and enhancing their competitiveness while enabling them to gain access to international markets, finance, technology and management skills; in this regard, calls on the governments of the Central Asian states to initiate these programmes and to increase the involvement of stakeholders in already existing BLPs; points out that to ensure that local production meets international quality standards, complementary measures need to be put in place, such as offering training programmes that help SMEs upgrade the skills of their staff or aiding SMEs in embracing internationally-recognised quality standards;

93.  Emphasises that it is vital for sustainable economic development in the region to deepen regional integration, increase intra-regional trade, focus on transport networks and logistical services, and improve the business climate and the legislative and regulatory framework, especially for SMEs;

94.  Recalls the many cases of infectious tuberculosis in the Central Asia region; underlines the importance of continuity in the roll-out of tuberculosis treatment in emerging countries that no longer receive bilateral EU aid, in view of the development of drug resistance in some strains of tuberculosis;

Energy, environment, water, and transport

95.  Stress the need for more intensive dialogue on infrastructure development, including energy and transport networks as well as high-capacity internet connections;

96.   Recognises that energy cooperation is a key issue in relations between the EU and Central Asia; regards the region as an additional potential source of energy security for the EU, with particular reference to the potential for increased cooperation with Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan; recalls the importance of the EU having a secure, stable and affordable energy supply, in line with its Energy Union and also in light of the relevance this has for the overall security of the Union; consequently, underlines the need for energy supply and diversification to be a key element of the EU-Central Asia strategy, and calls for the EU to increase efforts towards integration of the energy market, which is in the interest of all parties as it will help create energy diversification; calls, in this regard, for a redoubling of efforts to achieve the objective of expanding the Southern Corridor to Central Asia and the trans-Caspian pipeline; emphasises, however, that energy agreements and dialogues must be coupled with strong human rights elements;

97.  Takes note of the EU’s support for energy projects which could expand the Southern Gas Corridor, including through the trans-Caspian and, possibly, Iran routes; calls, nevertheless, on the EU to conduct full feasibility studies for such projects, including environmental and social impact assessments;

98.  Supports the promotion by the EU of renewable energy, energy efficiency and the integration of energy markets in Central Asia with those of neighbouring countries, as well as of the EU;

99.  Reiterates its opinion that reinvestment of revenues from natural resources is crucial for sustainable socio-economic development;

100.  Encourages better coordination and reinvigorated efforts under the crucial water and environment regional platform, led by Italy and Romania;

101.  Advocates an enhanced proactive role for the EU in terms of environmentally sustainable development; emphasises, in this context, the importance of the principles of environmental sustainability in the course of extraction or processing of natural resources in the region promoted by the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI); notes that only Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan comply with the EITI in the region, whilst Tajikistan’s candidate status was temporarily suspended in 2015;

102.  Notes with concern that in addition to increasing climate change impacts, multiple alarming environmental challenges inherited from the Soviet period persist, such as those relating to unmonitored and ongoing nuclear contamination over the past decades and to urgent action to clean up nuclear testing sites, industrial and mining activities, unsustainable exploitation of natural resources, land and ecosystem degradation, air pollution, desertification, and, above all, continued catastrophic water mismanagement; urges the Commission, in this respect, to step up technical assistance, assist with resource mobilisation and provide European know-how and best practice as to how to deal with these problems;

103.  Urges the EU to continue providing financial and technical assistance addressing the health, humanitarian, environmental, and economic and awareness issues related to the consequences of nuclear testing by the USSR at the Semipalatinsk nuclear test site (SNTS) in north-eastern Kazakhstan, near the city of Semey (previously known as Semipalatinsk);

104.  Welcomes and encourages further efforts in terms of adaptation and resilience to climate change, and urges the Central Asian countries to contribute constructively to the success of the 2015 Paris Climate Conference;

105.  Calls on the EU to further intensify its Disaster Risk Reduction and resilience-building programmes in Central Asia as a region especially prone to natural disasters, with serious threats related to environmental disasters and climate change;

106.  Expresses its deep concern at the massive die-off of Kazakhstan saiga antelope herds in May 2015; urges the EU to contribute with research and environmental measures to the prevention of possible future cases;

107.  Calls on the EU to further its efforts in fostering cooperation among Central Asian countries on water management;

108.  Encourages the EU to prioritise and deploy its ‘water diplomacy’ further in order to facilitate improved cross-border water management and mediate dispute settlement, including the promotion of an open and effective framework, in particular in the case of the Rogun dam; in this context, urges the EU to stimulate and accelerate further adhesion to international conventions and legal principles relating to shared water resources;

109.  Calls on the countries of the region to sign and ratify the UN’s Espoo and Aarhus Conventions relating to water conflicts, if they have not already done so, and to involve civil society in the implementation of these conventions;

110.  Calls for renewed efforts to cope with and tackle the dramatic consequences of the environmental disaster of the drying-up of the Aral Sea; urges the Commission to increase its support for the International Fund for the Aral Sea, and calls on the EEAS to include this question as a priority in its regular dealings with Uzbekistan;

111.  Points out that building a strategic, modern and interoperable road and rail infrastructure system along the Silk Road route is a key interest for China, the EU and Russia, and that the successful integration of the region through modern and reliable infrastructure would offer a major opportunity, not only for greater regional economic integration but also to promote mobility of persons and multicultural exchange, in turn producing a better environment for advancing the rule of law and democracy;

112.  Reiterates the EU’s readiness to offer its experience and know-how to promote the adoption and enforcement of safety, security and environmental standards in all transport modes and to facilitate links along the Europe –Caucasus-Central Asia transport corridor; in particular, supports continued efforts on the EU’s part for the development of safe and secure air and maritime transport in Central Asia;

113.  Encourages further coordination by the EU with China’s transport policy in the region;

Regional cooperation, security challenges and border management

114.  Encourages the EU to increase its dialogue on Central Asia with relevant regional and international organisations, as well as with the neighbours of the Central Asian countries and other active states in the region;

115.  Encourages the EU to enhance connectivity by identifying, together with the countries of Central Asia, fields for intensified cooperation, especially with regard to transport and energy; stresses that priority should be given to the integration of Central Asian countries among and between each other, as well as into international markets and corridors;

116.  Believes that the EU, working with the Member States, should continue to promote specific regional integration and confidence-building policies, while also rewarding positive steps taken by individual Central Asian countries or groups of countries through increased cooperation; takes the view that EU measures should be geared to the needs and specific characteristics of each country; emphasises the need to deepen political dialogue and foster confidence-building measures among the countries of the region;

117.  Regards the deepening of regional economic integration as an important element for regional stability and peace-building;

118.  Underlines the importance of cooperation with the OSCE and the UN in all policy fields;

119.  Calls on the EU also to involve Mongolia on an ad hoc basis in certain aspects of the European Strategy for Central Asia;

120.  Recognises that the main threats and challenges identified in the Strategy for Central Asia remain relevant;

121.  Believes that the EU should encourage regional cooperation, in particular with regard to common issues and common challenges, and that the common interest should prevail over the heterogeneity of the countries concerned;

122.  Notes that unresolved ethnic issues, lack of prospects for an orderly transfer of power, and non-inclusive governance in the countries of Central Asia are sources of potential instability and extremism, and that as a consequence the successful implementation of core EU interests following on from the Central Asia Strategy is being seriously called into question;

123.  Supports the EU’s long-term goal of transforming the nascent EU-Central Asia High- Level Security Dialogue into a genuine forum for cooperation in addressing common security challenges in the region and beyond its borders, such as the spillover effects of the war in Afghanistan, including the threat of Islamic State, drug trafficking, trafficking of human beings, violent extremism and terrorism, and chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) risks; highlights the importance and positive impact of regional cooperation programmes, including those strengthening cross-border cooperation and border security, such as the Border Management Programme in Central Asia (BOMCA) and the Central Asia Drug Action Programme (CADAP); believes that a focus on human security rather than purely state security must be integrated in the Dialogue; reiterates the EU´s determination to further develop both regional and bilateral security dialogues with Central Asian countries, ensuring the stronger involvement of Afghanistan in cooperation with the regional partners concerned, with particular regard to the UN Regional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia (UNRCCA);

124.  Takes note of the adoption of the CADAP for 2014-20; is alarmed, however, by the record levels of opium cultivation and of the related trafficking from Afghanistan through Central Asia; requests the EEAS/Commission to address the issue of involvement of organised crime as well as elites in trafficking, and the negative public health effects in the region;

125.  Recommends, once again, that BOMCA and CADAP be brought under the auspices of the ISP rather than the DCI;

126.  Urges the EU to continue with the regional support programmes aimed at conflict prevention and peace-building, including the promotion of intercommunal and interethnic reconciliation, as well as at border demarcation in Central Asia, financed from the ISP;

127.  Welcomes the project ‘Cross-border Cooperation for Sustainable Peace and Development’, sponsored by Switzerland and the UNDP and aiming to create an environment more conducive to sustainable peace and development in cross-border areas between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan;

128.  Highlights the role of the UNRCCA, which has been based in Ashgabat since 2007, as well as that of the OSCE, in conflict prevention in the region;

129.  Asks the EU to lend its support to the initiatives of the UNRCCA and, under its supervision, to focus on the water issue and initiate a dialogue between the five countries in order to deal with cross‑border pollution;

130.  Asks the Commission to consider the unfavourable consequences that issues of access to water resources could have for stability and security in Central Asia, and to closely monitor all developments;

131.  Notes with concern that the 2015 US Annual Report on Human Trafficking(27) has placed Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan on the ‘Watch List’, meaning that the number of victims of human trafficking is increasing; calls on the EU’s Anti-Trafficking Coordinator to support Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan in combating human trafficking, which is an affront to human dignity, often involving psychological terror and physical violence, and must therefore be eradicated; asks that Member States highlight this important issue in their dealings with these countries;

132.   Highlights the importance of cooperation between the EU and the countries of Central Asia in preventing and combating terrorism; is deeply concerned about the activities of the extremist organisation Islamic State (IS) in recruiting growing numbers of Central Asian citizens to travel to the Middle East to fight or otherwise support IS, Al-Nusra and other terrorist and extremist organisations, prompted in part by political marginalisation and bleak economic prospects; recognises that should a significant portion of radicalised Central Asian citizens return to their home countries, they risk challenging security and stability throughout Central Asia, Afghanistan, Iran, Russia, China and India;

133.  Encourages the EU to address, together with the Central Asian governments, the mutual challenges of recruitment of fighters and supporters by IS, by focusing on political and administrative failures, such as promoting religious freedom while safeguarding secular constitutions and revising discriminatory laws and policies, implementing outreach programmes for both men and women, focusing on employment for disadvantaged young people, prioritising policing reform, and ensuring better coordination of security services, as well as learning from European or Asian experiences in rehabilitating and reintegrating Islamist radicals;

134.  Considers that international cooperation, including with Russia and China, is essential in addressing the growing threat of Islamist radicalisation in Central Asia; calls on all international parties with influence in the region to encourage Central Asian states to make a concerted effort to better coordinate cooperation between their security services, including with respect to intelligence-sharing; stresses that such cooperation should be consistent with their international human rights commitments;

135.  Expresses its deep concern at the deteriorating security situation in northern Afghanistan and the risks of repercussions for military and political stability in the region; welcomes the improvements in coherence between the EU Strategies for Afghanistan and Central Asia respectively; highlights, however, the need to closer interlink the EU’s approach to Central Asia with Afghanistan and adapt existing policies to the post-2014 strategy for Afghanistan; encourages the involvement of Afghanistan in programmes aimed at stability and security in the region; encourages Central Asian states’ governments to take a more proactive role and engage in a broader cooperation in the interests of stability in Afghanistan; emphasises the need to regionally coordinate human security, anti-terrorism, immigration and anti-drug trafficking strategies;

136.  Calls on the Council, the Commission and the EEAS to prioritise in their relations with the Central Asian states the reform of the security sector, including better funding and training, promoting religious freedom in the framework of the secular constitutions, preventive aspects of countering terrorism and efforts at rehabilitating former jihadists, as components of an overall strategy for dealing with the challenge of Islamist extremism; regrets that despite the urgent need for Security Sector Reform (SSR) in Central Asian countries, the EU has not been able to integrate it into its strategy; welcomes, in this context, the progress that has been made in Kazakhstan as a starting- point for reform on a regional scale; calls on the EU to develop specific SSR programmes for Kyrgyzstan, and possibly Tajikistan, focusing on the rule of law and human rights standards in criminal justice and on civilian policing;

137.  Recognises the continued implementation of the Central Asian Nuclear Weapon Free Zone by the five Central Asian countries;

138.  Calls on the Member States for a more uniform interpretation and implementation of and strict respect for the eight criteria laid down in the 2008 EU common position on arms export controls; in this respect, raises concern over the circumvention of this common position by some European companies following bilateral agreements by some Member States;

139.  Asks Member States to stop the export of ready-made intrusive surveillance systems to the countries of the region if there are sufficient reasons to believe that these systems would be used against journalists, political figures or human rights defenders; calls on the Commission to revise the European export control system in order to prevent such intrusive systems from falling into the wrong hands;

Country-specific issues

140.  Underlines that the following country-specific paragraphs address only priority issues and are therefore not all-encompassing;

Kazakhstan

141.  Emphasises that deeper political and economic relations should be based on shared values; notes that Kazakhstan is the first Central Asian partner with which the EU has negotiated and signed an Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (EPCA); expects, with its finalisation, an active and concrete engagement by Kazakhstan on political and democratic reforms, stemming from its international obligations and commitments; recognises the ‘100-step programme’ as an attempt to address urgent reforms in the country;

142.  Emphasises, in this regard, the recommendations of Parliament on the negotiations for an EU-Kazakhstan EPCA of 22 November 2012, which are crucial for Parliament’s consent to the conclusion of the new EPCA and for future EU-Kazakhstan cooperation;

143.  Is deeply concerned at the increasing deterioration in the fields of freedom of the media, freedom of expression, and freedom of association and assembly; reiterates and stresses that concrete and tangible progress in political reforms has been linked to progress in the negotiation of the new EPCA; calls on Kazakhstan to make every effort to ensure that its legislation is in line with Council of Europe standards and that it guarantees the full implementation of the fundamental freedoms without self-imposed restrictions; calls on the Kazakh authorities to take concrete and effective measures to implement the recommendations made by the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of peaceful assembly and of association in the outcome report on his mission to Kazakhstan in January 2015; encourages Kazakhstan, in this respect, to review and amend its new criminal codes with regard to the criminalisation of libel, as this undermines fundamental freedoms; expresses its deep concern at the law on not-for-profit organisations, as it undermines the independence and even challenges the very existence of NGOs in Kazakhstan, and calls for its revision;

144.  Reminds Kazakhstan of its OSCE commitments to democratic reforms, and urges the country to match its foreign policy ambitions – as a member of the UN Human Rights Council for 2013-2015, host of the 2017 International EXPO, and a candidate for a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council in 2017-2018 – with significant domestic political reforms;

145.  Underlines that according to the preliminary conclusions of the OSCE/ODIHR international observation mission to the 20 March 2016 elections, Kazakhstan still has a considerable way to go in meeting its OSCE commitments for democratic elections, although some progress was noted; encourages the Kazakh authorities to adopt the necessary measures in order to implement all the OSCE/ODIHR recommendations in full;

146.  Call for the release of all political prisoners, including the leader of the Alga! opposition party, Vladimir Kozlov;

147.  Recognises the positive role played by Kazakhstan in hosting and facilitating the 2013 E3+3 – Iran negotiations on Iran’s nuclear programme, the country’s contribution to global nuclear security and safety initiatives, including the hosting of the new international nuclear fuel bank, operated by the IAEA, which will commence operations in 2017, its tentative mediating role with regard to the crisis between Russia and Ukraine, and the good offices provided to consultations among the Syrian opposition;

148.  Welcomes the fact that as of 2015 Kazakhstan has reached the final stage of its WTO accession process;

Kyrgyzstan

149.  Regrets the backsliding of Kyrgyzstan, the country of the region in which the EU had placed most expectations in the pursuit of democratic ambitions;

150.  Commends Kyrgyzstan on the progress which was demonstrated by the recent parliamentary elections; recognises their peaceful conduct and the significantly better transparency; welcomes the findings of the OSCE Election Monitoring Mission on Parliamentary Elections in Kyrgyzstan on 4 October 2015, which highlighted a wide range of choices for voters and a competitive electoral campaign; expresses its concern, however, at the mandatory registration of biometric data as a prerequisite for voting, resulting in significant problems with the inclusiveness of the voter list; stresses that further efforts are needed to develop a fully functioning parliamentary democracy, despite the initial encouraging signs shown by Kyrgyzstan regarding pursuing democratic reforms and shifting towards a genuine multi-party system, as one of the pilot countries for EU democracy support;

151.  Welcomes the fact that Kyrgyzstan has withdrawn the restrictive draft legislation on ‘foreign agents’ and LGBTI persons, and asks it to reject all legislation discriminating against LGBTI persons and targeting civil society;

152.   Welcomes Kyrgyzstan’s successful election on to the UN Human Rights Council during 2016-2018, and invites the country to constructively use its upcoming membership to address human rights issues;

153.  Urges the Commission/EEAS to assist Kyrgyzstan in delivering justice to the victims of the 2010 ethnic clashes;

Tajikistan

154.  Urges Tajikistan to comply with its international human rights commitments and to protect freedom of assembly and the independence of the legal profession; draws attention to the problematic situation of the media following the signing by the President of a new regulation according to which all information about official events will be channelled through the state information agency, thus restricting access by other media; calls on Tajikistan to refrain from undue interference in the work of NGOs and not to implement the recently passed legislation on NGO funding;

155.  Expresses its concern at the decision to ban the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan, following a worrying trend aimed at suppressing legitimate political forces and silencing critical voices for the sake of security concerns; calls on the Tajik authorities to comply with the commitments of the 1997 peace agreement and to adopt the necessary measures to guarantee freedom of expression, pluralism and a free and open political environment;

156.  Takes note of the conclusions of the OSCE/ODIHR election observation mission to the parliamentary elections of 1 March 2015 in Tajikistan that those elections ‘took place in a restricted political space and failed to provide a level playing field for candidates’;

157.  Continues to express concern over the inefficiency of EU development aid in the country; urges the EEAS/Commission to prioritise programmes aimed at prevention of torture in detention centres and media freedom in Tajikistan;

158.  Welcomes Tajikistan’s accession to the WTO in March 2013;

Turkmenistan

159.  Stresses that Turkmenistan is a party to most major international agreements and is therefore under the obligation to respect and protect human rights under all circumstances; expresses its readiness to increase EU support in the field of democratic principles and human rights, in particular by making full use of the EIDHR and other means to support the reform process in the country;

160.  Regrets, that in the reporting period the situation in the field of the rule of law, human rights and fundamental freedoms remained practically unchanged, despite some legislative efforts in the political, judicial, economic, social and educational fields; believes that the new legislation should be subject to review by international experts in the light of international human rights obligations;

161.  Asks the VP/HR and the Commission to engage with the Turkmen authorities requiring concrete steps aimed at improving the human rights situation and the rule of law, pursuant to Article 21 TEU; further calls for the continued raising of human rights concerns at all levels, in addition to the ongoing human rights dialogue; reiterates its call on the EEAS to upgrade the Liaison Office in Ashgabat into a fully-fledged EU Delegation in Turkmenistan as quickly as possible, inter alia so as to interact with civil society and monitor the human rights situation;

162.  Underlines the importance of a continued human rights dialogue, especially with regard to continuing the pressure for the release of individuals detained on politically motivated grounds and to disclosure of the fate of the disappeared prisoners;

163.  Recognises that the entry into force of the PCA with Turkmenistan would help develop the full potential of the established relationship;

164.  Calls on the VP/HR to honour the agreement reached with her predecessor regarding a monitoring mechanism, allowing Parliament to be properly informed by the EEAS on the implementation of the PCA once it has entered into force;

165.  Welcomes the recently strengthened engagement of Turkmenistan with the EU in areas of mutual concern; notes the country’s presence at the 2015 OSCE Human Dimension Implementation Meeting and the high-level presence on the Turkmen side at the 15th annual Joint Committee meeting under the Interim Trade Agreement in October 2015;

166.  Calls on Turkmenistan to stop its ongoing campaign of removing satellite dishes and blocking access to some websites, and to put an end to the intimidation and harassment of independent journalists and civil society activists;

Uzbekistan

167.  Regrets the EU’s lack of effective pursuit of democratisation in Uzbekistan, and reiterates its expectation that the EU will actively pursue this objective in the country; notes the Uzbek Government’s refusal to undertake significant reforms; encourages the VP/HR to develop a policy of critical, constructive, conditional and coherent European engagement with Uzbekistan;

168.  Deplores the systematic and routine violation of fundamental rights and freedoms despite the adoption of improved laws on the matter and the ratification of international human rights instruments; urges the Uzbek authorities to take meaningful steps to fully address the concerns and effectively implement all the recommendations of the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, the Committee Against Torture and the Human Rights Committee;

169.  Insists that the Uzbek authorities release all those who have been imprisoned in retaliation for their peaceful exercise of freedom of expression, association and assembly, and highlights the need for prevention and investigation of cases of torture in prison; expresses its concern at the arbitrary extensions of prison terms; calls on the Uzbek authorities to allow independent human rights NGOs to work without hindrance;

170.   Welcomes the fact that the country has made some progress in eliminating child labour and, in particular, the Government’s ban in this sense; recalls the importance of independent and objective monitoring of the implementation of the ban; reiterates the need to eliminate the use of forced labour during the annual cotton harvest, while encouraging further commitment by the government to continue with concrete efforts, such as an action plan, to eradicate forced labour in line with the recommendations of the ILO and the World Bank;

171.  Recalls that Parliament has decided not to consider granting its consent to the Protocol to the EU-Uzbekistan PCA extending the provisions of the Agreement to bilateral trade in textiles, until it is confirmed that concrete reforms have been implemented and have yielded substantial results, also ensuring that the practice of forced labour, additionally to child labour, is effectively in course of being eradicated in Uzbekistan;

172.  Takes the view, in this regard, that some of the past EU development aid to Uzbekistan, including that for capacity-building by its parliament, was misdirected and that aid should be redirected to more meaningful areas such as rural development or environmental and water management;

173.  Expresses its deep concern at the activities of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, which pledged allegiance to Islamic State in August 2015 and has recruited thousands of jihadists in Central Asia;

o
o   o

174.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the EEAS, the EU Special Representative for Central Asia, and the governments and parliaments of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

(1) OJ C 184 E, 6.8.2009, p. 49.
(2) OJ C 168 E, 14.6.2013, p. 91.
(3) OJ L 255, 30.9.2015, p. 68.
(4) OJ L 255, 30.9.2015, p. 27.
(5) OJ C 332 E, 15.11.2013, p. 28.
(6) OJ C 419, 16.12.2015, p. 153.
(7) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2014)0252.
(8) OJ C 434, 23.12.2015, p. 111.
(9) OJ C 434, 23.12.2015, p. 87.
(10) OJ C 236 E, 12.8.2011, p. 69.
(11) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0288.
(12) OJ C 434, 23.12.2015, p. 24.
(13) OJ C 74 E, 13.3.2012, p. 12.
(14) OJ C 419, 16.12.2015, p. 159.
(15) OJ C 251 E, 31.8.2013, p. 93.
(16) OJ C 45, 5.2.2016, p. 85.
(17) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0008.
(18) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0426.
(19) OJ C 351 E, 2.12.2011, p. 92.
(20) OJ C 81 E, 15.3.2011, p. 80.
(21) OJ C 224 E, 19.8.2010, p. 12.
(22) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2014)0040.
(23) OJ C 168 E, 14.6.2013, p. 195.
(24) OJ C 36, 29.1.2016, p. 126.
(25) World Bank statistics 2012.
(26) World Bank statistics for the five-year period 2011-2015.
(27) Compiled by the US State Department.


Zika virus outbreak
PDF 192kWORD 84k
European Parliament resolution of 13 April 2016 on the Zika virus outbreak (2016/2584(RSP))
P8_TA(2016)0122B8-0449/2016

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the statement of 1 February 2016 by the World Health Organisation (WHO) declaring the Zika virus outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern,

–  having regard to Decision No 1082/2013/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 October 2013 on serious cross-border threats to health and repealing Decision No 2119/98/EC(1),

–  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)(2),

–  having regard to the question to the Commission on the Zika virus outbreak (O-000030/2016 – B8‑0119/2016),

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

A.  whereas on 1 February 2016 the WHO declared the Zika virus outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC);

B.  whereas the Zika virus is an emerging mosquito-borne virus that was first identified in Uganda’s Zika forest in 1947 in rhesus monkeys, through a monitoring network for sylvatic yellow fever;

C.  whereas outbreaks of Zika virus disease have been sporadically recorded in two European regions, Martinique and French Guiana, and in Africa, the Americas, Asia and the Pacific, and whereas cases of contamination have been detected in Europe, particularly in the Overseas Territories of Guadeloupe and Saint Martin;

D.  whereas in 2007, the Zika virus emerged outside its known endemic boundaries for the first time and caused an epidemic on Yap Island in the Federated States of Micronesia, followed by a widespread epidemic in French Polynesia in 2013-2014 and a subsequent spread to several countries in Oceania, including New Caledonia and the Cook Islands; whereas, while the Zika virus was generally considered to only cause mild human disease, the outbreak in French Polynesia revealed the virus’s potential to cause neurological complications (i.e. Guillain-Barré syndrome and meningoencephalitis);

E.  whereas according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), ‘most of the infections remain asymptomatic (approximately 80 %)’;

F.  whereas the biggest outbreak of the Zika virus has been recorded in Brazil, particularly Northeast Brazil;

G.  whereas in November 2015 the Brazilian Ministry of Health declared a public health emergency in relation to an unusual increase in the number of children born with microcephaly in Pernambuco State during 2015; whereas the striking increase is visibly mainly in the most severe forms of microcephaly but some reports suggest that the prevalence of milder forms of that disease was exceptionally high even a few years before the Zika outbreak in 2015;

H.  whereas mosquito life cycle depends on climate, habitat and biodiversity, and whereas mosquito spread is facilitated by human factors such as climate change, man-made aquatic habitats, deforestation, urbanisation and lack of sanitation, urban waste, conflicts and travelling;

I.  whereas the outbreak of the Zika virus has exposed existing inequalities in the countries affected, including with regard to public health systems and living conditions, whilst disproportionately affecting the poorest members of society who often live next to open water sources and are ill-equipped to prevent and confront the disease; whereas women still account for the majority of the world’s poor and their situation is particularly at stake as the prime responsible party in the household for food, clean water, hygiene and raising children with microcephaly-associated syndromes, something which may necessitate additional financial resources, particularly when no adequate or affordable support structures are in place;

J.  whereas imported cases of Zika virus infection have been reported in several European countries; whereas on 11 February 2016 the ECDC referred to a case of microcephaly detected in a pregnant woman in Slovenia, who developed a Zika-like infection during pregnancy while residing in Brazil;

K.  whereas, as of 9 February 2016, no cases of autochthonous Zika virus transmission have been reported on the European continent but a few cases have been reported in European outermost regions;

L.  whereas the appearance of the virus has been associated with clusters of microcephaly cases and other neurological disorders, including cases of Guillain-Barré syndrome; whereas on 1 February 2016 the WHO declared that a causal relationship between Zika infection during pregnancy and microcephaly is strongly suspected, though not yet scientifically proven;

M.  whereas based on a growing body of preliminary research, there is scientific consensus that the Zika virus is one of the causes of microcephaly(3), a condition that damages foetal cells that make the brain(4), causes babies to be born with unusually small heads and in most cases delayed brain development and appears to be able to harm a foetus throughout pregnancy(5), and is also a cause of Guillain-Barré syndrome; whereas uncertainty about the health of the unborn baby, as well as the uncertainty regarding transmission mechanisms, puts women and adolescent girls, especially pregnant women and their families, in an incredibly difficult position, in particular as regards their health and the long-term implications for the household, and whereas these uncertainties should by no means be used to delay urgent decisions and actions needed to resolve this crisis;

N.  whereas there are many potential causes of microcephaly, but often the cause remains unknown, and whereas, in the absence of any specific treatment for microcephaly, the existence of a multidisciplinary team to assess and care for babies and children with microcephaly is important, early intervention with stimulation and play programmes may show positive impacts on development, and family counselling and support for parents is also extremely important;

O.  whereas the cluster of microcephaly cases in Brazil has been associated by Argentinian and Brazilian researchers with the larvicide pyriproxyfen, which was introduced into drinking water supplies in 2014 in affected areas of Brazil; whereas in response to this possible association, against the advice of the Ministry of Health and in accordance with the precautionary principle, the local government in Rio Grande do Sul, a state in the south of Brazil, suspended its use as from 13 February 2016;

P.  whereas among the 4 783 reported cases of microcephaly since October 2015, more than 700 have been ruled out as having microcephaly;

Q.  whereas among 404 infants with confirmed microcephaly, only 17 have tested positive for the Zika virus;

R.  whereas the Zika virus outbreak has been a reality in European Overseas Territories since 2013;

S.  whereas there is a risk of establishment of local vector-borne transmission in Europe during the 2016 summer season;

T.  whereas there is no specific treatment or vaccine currently available, but whereas the Indian company Bharat Biotech announced on 3 February 2016 that it had ‘two vaccine candidates in development, one a recombinant vaccine and another an inactivated vaccine that has reached the stage of pre-clinical testing in animals’;

U.  whereas the Zika virus can be sexually transmitted(6)(7) and the WHO has stated that sexual transmission is ‘relatively common(8)’;

V.  whereas there have also been reports of transmission of the Zika virus linked with blood transfusions;

W.  whereas there is a real threat of transborder transmission of the Zika virus infection caused by infected travellers and global commerce;

1.  Acknowledges that the Zika virus is mostly transmitted to people through the bite of an infected mosquito from the Aedes genus, mainly Aedes aegypti in tropical regions, and that this is the same mosquito that transmits dengue, chikungunya and yellow fever;

2.  Notes that according to the ECDC assessment, as neither treatment nor vaccines are available, and since the mosquitoes that spread the Zika virus bite both indoors and outdoors, mostly during the daytime, prevention is currently based on personal protection measures, such as wearing permethrin-treated long-sleeved shirts and long trousers (especially during the hours when the type of mosquito that carries the Zika virus is most active) and sleeping or resting in screened or air-conditioned rooms, or otherwise using mosquito nets;

3.  Stresses the importance of setting up communication plans on the most appropriate scale in order to raise awareness among the population and promote the appropriate behaviour in order to avoid mosquito bites;

4.  Welcomes the ECDC’s ongoing monitoring of the situation; calls on the ECDC to regularly update their risk assessments and epidemiological updates; believes that the ECDC should establish an expert committee in tropical communicable diseases in order to efficiently coordinate and monitor all the measures which need to be put in place in the EU;

5.  Welcomes the Commission’s decision to mobilise EUR 10 million for research into the Zika virus and recommends focusing on cases of severe congenital brain malformations across Latin America and their suspected link to Zika virus infections; questions, however, whether this amount is commensurate with the extensive scientific challenge of helping to understand the Zika virus disease and its neurological complications and developing diagnostic tests and treatment for the disease;

6.  Notes that the Zika virus has been recorded in 28 countries and has potential life-changing consequences, in particular for young and poor women, a vast majority of whom are living in the least-developed regions of these countries; stresses, in view of the likely further spread of the disease, that the lessons learnt from last year’s Ebola crisis must be put into practice urgently by the international community;

7.  Stresses that research should focus primarily on preventive measures to avoid the spread of the virus, and on treatments; calls for research into Zika to be three-pronged: to investigate the strongly suspected link between the Zika virus and congenital brain malformations, to develop treatments and vaccinations and to develop tests for rapid and effective diagnosis;

8.  Stresses the need for further research into the possible link between microcephaly and the larvicide pyriproxyfen, given the fact that there is no scientific evidence that discards this link;

9.  Stresses that research should not overlook other possible and complementary causes of microcephaly;

10.  Highlights the further funding possibilities available under Horizon 2020 and FP7 for research on vaccine development for malaria and neglected infectious diseases, which include the Zika virus;

11.  Calls on the Commission to make sure that, if EU public money is spent on research, the results of that research are free of intellectual property rights and price accessibility to patients is guaranteed for the products thereby developed;

12.  Calls on the Commission to propose specific measures for European regions where the Zika virus has already spread, in order to eradicate all possible vectors of transmission in those regions, to support persons already infected, especially pregnant women, and to avoid a broader transmission in those regions and in the rest of the European continent;

13.  Calls on the Commission to come up with an action plan to prevent the spread of the virus in Europe and to assist Member States and third countries fighting this epidemic in the regions where the outbreak is more severe (mostly in the Caribbean and Central and South America); considers that such a plan should include targeted and sufficient free distribution of mechanical barriers such as nets (to avoid mosquito bites) and condoms (to avoid sexual transmission); calls on the Commission to develop a Management Protocol targeted at citizens who might be at risk of carrying the Zika virus infection owing to their epidemiologic context, with the aim of effectively breaking the chain of sexual and blood transmission by early detection;

14.  Highlights the necessity of a gender-sensitive approach when discussing funding and estimating laboratory needs, given the complexity of testing and developing safe, effective, affordable and deliverable vaccines for pregnant women, who are often excluded from early clinical trials; urges financial donors to remain realistic regarding the expected costs of the development of these vaccines, including when allocating EU research funding, and to put the safety of girls and women at the forefront;

15.  Points out the fact that the Zika virus has exposed the weaknesses in both public health systems’ responses, especially at the primary care level, and the provision of reproductive health services and rights for women and girls in the countries affected, particularly with regard to information and care during and after pregnancy, and to the prevention and termination of pregnancies, while government officials in these countries have advised women to delay pregnancy until more is known about the Zika virus;

16.  Recognises the need to strengthen laboratory capacity to confirm suspected Zika virus infections in the EU/EEA in order to differentiate Zika virus infections from other arboviral infections (for example dengue and chikungunya); calls on the Member States and the Commission to coordinate research among the laboratories performing research on the Zika virus, and to promote the establishment of such laboratories in the Member States where they do not yet exist;

17.  Calls for the EU and the Member States to propose strategies to help connect vaccine makers, Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, and other national and state public health agencies and health providers to promote an exchange of data and analytics;

18.  Stresses the importance of increasing awareness among obstetricians, paediatricians and neurologists that Zika virus infections should be investigated for patients who have travelled to Brazil and other affected countries since 2014 and those presenting with congenital central nervous system malformations, microcephaly and Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS);

19.  Notes with concern that in many of the affected countries, pregnancy is not simply a choice, particularly in those countries where rates of sexual violence are persistently high; calls on the EU to support the affected countries in achieving universal access to primary health care, including antenatal and postnatal care and diagnostic testing for the Zika virus, and calls on the EU to support the governments of the affected countries in providing a comprehensive sexual and reproductive information and health care package, including family planning possibilities, with an emphasis on access to a range of high-quality contraceptive methods for all women and adolescent girls, and access to safe abortion in order to combat the rise in unsafe abortions since the start of the epidemic, and, in this context, to trigger the required dialogue about contraception and women’s and girls’ rights with partner countries;

20.  Points out that, so far (as of 10 February 2016), 25 EU/EEA countries, the USA and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control have advised pregnant women and women who are trying to become pregnant to delay travel to Zika-affected areas;

21.  Since there is currently no prophylaxis, treatment or vaccine to protect against the Zika virus infection, and given the risk of establishment of local vector-borne transmission in Europe during the 2016 summer season, calls on the Commission to conduct an immediate analysis of insecticides in terms of human health and effectiveness against the mosquito vector of the infection; calls also on the Commission to coordinate a set of prevention guidelines to be put in place this summer by national authorities;

22.  Acknowledges that a testing algorithm for pregnant women returning from an area with ongoing Zika virus transmission has been published; points out, however, that an issue not yet addressed by the health authorities is the prolonged detection of the Zika virus in semen and the documented transmission of the Zika virus through sexual intercourse, which may have implications for male travellers returning from regions with ongoing transmission; believes that, considering that asymptomatic infections are frequent, male travellers should be advised to use condoms after returning from regions with ongoing transmission until conclusive data on the significance of this mode of transmission become available;

23.  Following the WHO recommendations on prevention in European countries, calls on the Commission and the Member States to significantly enhance monitoring of invasive mosquito species and increase control of mosquitoes by eliminating breeding sites (such as pools) and planning for insecticide spraying in case of outbreaks, and to improve disinfection rates of cargo, cargo carriers and cabin and passenger compartments of planes from infected countries;

24.  Calls for the EU and the Member State embassies to provide information and support to EU citizens living and travelling in affected areas;

25.  Calls on EU and third country airline companies to duly and properly carry out disinsection of aircraft coming from affected areas;

26.  Calls for the EU to consult Member States and third countries (national, regional and local governments) with expertise in monitoring, sensitisation, prevention and/or combating the Aedes genus mosquito – such as the Madeira Regional Government and Funchal City Hall, which have more than 10 years of experience in dealing with this issue, and the French Outermost Regions and Overseas Territories, which have long-standing expertise in vector-borne emerging diseases and specifically the Zika virus – in order to build its strategy against the Zika virus;

27.  Points out the need for a coordinated approach at EU and international level in the fight against this outbreak; welcomes, in this context, the launch of the European Medical Corps and considers it to be relevant in helping mobilise medical and public health teams and equipment to fight the Zika virus if necessary; calls also on the Commission to urgently put forward a horizontal EU strategy on global health aimed at achieving the new sustainable development framework and its goals;

28.  Invites the Commission, in cooperation with other partners, to help monitor the spread of the Zika virus also in developing countries and to integrate adequate responses in terms of developing health capacities, training health staff, epidemiological surveillance, community education and mobilisation and the control of mosquito populations into existing country-specific development programmes in cooperation with affected countries;

29.  Stresses the need for any proposal to be based on a wide range of epidemiological studies covering not only Zika virus effects but also other causes of these effects;

30.  Calls on the Member States to increase the awareness of clinicians and travel health clinics about the evolution of the Zika virus epidemic and the vector control envisaged by the authorities in affected areas, so that they can include Zika virus infection in their differential diagnosis for residents and travellers from those areas and prepare for possible quarantine of travellers suspected of having the Zika virus in order to prevent autochthonous transmission; calls on the national health authorities to organise an information campaign coordinated by the ECDC with the aim of informing and reassuring European citizens and avoiding unnecessary alarm;

31.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to enhance vigilance regarding the early detection of imported cases of Zika virus infection in the EU, including the EU Overseas Countries and Territories and the EU Outermost Regions, in particular where vectors or potential vectors are present, in order to reduce the risk of autochthonous transmission; acknowledges, moreover, that, although probably low and seasonally restricted, there is a risk of Zika virus importation to Aedes mosquito-infested regions in temperate climates (including regions of North America and Europe) with consecutive autochthonous transmission;

32.  Stresses the importance of access to broad health services in fighting the Zika virus disease;

33.  Supports calls made by the United Nations(9) to repeal laws and policies that restrict access to sexual and reproductive health and rights in contravention of international standards, and echoes its willingness to ensure that public health responses are pursued in conformity with human rights, in particular in relation to health and health-related rights;

34.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, the Secretary-General of the United Nations and the World Health Organisation.

(1) OJ L 293, 5.11.2013, p. 1.
(2) OJ L 347, 20.12.2013, p. 104.
(3) http://www.who.int/features/qa/zika/en/
(4) http://www.nature.com/news/zika-highlights-role-of-controversial-fetal-tissue-research-1.19655
(5) Brasil, P. et al. N. Eng. J. Med. http://dx.doi.org/10.1056/NEJMoa1602412 (2016).
(6) http://www.dallascounty.org/department/hhs/press/documents/PR2-2-16DCHHSReportsFirstCaseofZikaVirusThroughSexualTransmission.pdf
(7) https://www.rt.com/news/333855-zika-sex-case-france/
(8) http://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-zika-qanda-factbox-idUSKCN0X22TY
(9) http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=53173#.VswcHE32aUk


Situation in Poland
PDF 167kWORD 66k
European Parliament resolution of 13 April 2016 on the situation in Poland (2015/3031(RSP))
P8_TA(2016)0123B8-0461/2016

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the European Union Treaties, in particular to Articles 2, 3, 4 and 6 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU),

–  having regard to the Commission Communication of 11 March 2014 on a new EU framework to strengthen the rule of law (COM(2014)0158),

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

–  having regard to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR),

–  having regard to Parliament’s debate of 19 January 2016 on the situation in Poland,

–  having regard to the Venice Commission opinion of 12 March 2016 on the amendments of 22 December 2015 to the Act of 25 June 2015 on the Constitutional Tribunal of Poland,

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

A.  whereas respect for the rule of law, democracy, human rights, fundamental freedoms, and the values and principles enshrined in EU treaties and international human rights instruments are obligations incumbent on the Union and its Member States and must be complied with;

B.  whereas, under Article 2 of the TEU, the EU is founded on respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities, values which are shared by all Member States and which must be upheld by the EU, and by each individual Member State, in all their policies;

C.  whereas, under Article 4(2) of the TEU, the EU must respect the equality of Member States before the Treaties, as well as their national identities;

D.  whereas, under article 4(3) of the TEU, pursuant to the principle of sincere cooperation, the Union and the Member States must, in full mutual respect, assist each other in carrying out tasks which flow from the Treaties;

E.  whereas, under Article 17 of the TEU, the Commission must ensure the application of the Treaties;

F.  whereas the rule of law is the backbone of democracy and is one of the founding principles of the EU, operating on the basis of the presumption of mutual trust that Member States conform with democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights, as enshrined in the Charter of Fundamental Rights and the ECHR;

G.  whereas an efficient, independent and impartial judicial system is essential for the rule of law and to ensure the protection of the fundamental rights and civil liberties of citizens in Europe;

H.  whereas the Constitutional Tribunal was established as one of the central elements ensuring checks and balances in constitutional democracy and the rule of law in Poland;

I.  whereas recent events in Poland, in particular the political and legal dispute concerning the composition of the Constitutional Tribunal and new rules on its operation (relating, among other things, to the examination of cases and the order thereof, the raising of the attendance quorum and the majorities needed to pass decisions of the Tribunal) have given rise to concerns regarding the ability of the Constitutional Tribunal to uphold the constitution and guarantee respect for the rule of law;

J.  whereas the Venice Commission clearly stated that the Constitutional Tribunal cannot fulfil its role as guarantor of the supremacy of the Constitution of Poland owing to the fact that the Tribunal’s verdict of 9 March 2016 is unpublished and therefore cannot enter into force, and that this is undermining the rule of law; whereas the Venice Commission warned that crippling the Tribunal would undermine democracy, human rights and the rule of law;

K.  whereas the actions taken by the Polish Government and the President of the Republic of Poland with regard to the Constitutional Tribunal represent a risk to constitutional democracy;

L.  whereas, following the orientation debate of 13 January 2016, the Commission decided to initiate the structured dialogue under the Rule of Law Framework by sending a letter to the Polish Government with a view to clarifying the situation in Poland;

M.  whereas the Commission, as guardian of the Treaties, will now collect and examine all the relevant information and assess whether there are clear indications of a systemic threat to the rule of law;

N.  whereas the Rule of Law Framework is intended to address threats to the rule of law which are of a systemic nature, particularly in situations which cannot be effectively solved by infringement procedures and where the ‘rule of law safeguards’ which exist at national level no longer seem capable of effectively addressing these threats;

O.  whereas the current Polish Constitution, adopted in 1997, guarantees the separation of powers, political pluralism, freedom of the press and of speech and the right to information;

P.  whereas, in addition to the constitutional crisis, there are other issues that are of serious concern to the European Parliament insofar as they may constitute breaches of European law and fundamental rights, including women’s rights; whereas such moves by the Polish Government must be closely monitored by the European institutions;

1.  Considers it essential to guarantee that the common European values listed in Article 2 of the TEU are upheld in full;

2.  Believes that all Member States must fully comply with EU law in their legislative and administrative practice, and that all legislation, including the primary law of all Member States and candidate countries, must reflect and adhere to basic European values, namely democratic principles, the rule of law and respect for fundamental rights;

3.  Is seriously concerned that the effective paralysis of the Constitutional Tribunal in Poland poses a danger to democracy, human rights and the rule of law;

4.  Urges the Polish Government to respect, publish and fully implement without further delay the Constitutional Tribunal’s judgment of 9 March 2016 and to implement the judgments of 3 and 9 December 2015;

5.  Calls on the Polish Government to fully implement the recommendations of the Venice Commission; shares the Venice Commission’s opinion that the Polish Constitution and European and international standards require that the judgments of a Constitutional Court be respected;

6.  Welcomes Commission Vice-President Timmermans’s recent visit to Poland and his statement at the Commission meeting of 6 April 2016 on the start of a dialogue to find a way out of the current situation, based on full respect for the constitutional framework, which means publication and implementation of the rulings of the Constitutional Tribunal; shares his concerns about the possibility of having two parallel legal systems, which would lead to legal uncertainty;

7.  Supports the Commission’s decision to launch a structured dialogue under the Rule of Law Framework, which should clarify whether there is a systemic threat to democratic values and the rule of law in Poland; welcomes the Commission’s reassurance that the dialogue with Polish authorities will be conducted in an impartial, evidence-based and cooperative manner, and calls on the Commission, should the Polish Government fail to comply with the Venice Commission recommendations in the course of the structured dialogue, to activate the second stage of the rule of law procedure by issuing its ‘rule of law recommendation’ and to offer its support to Poland in developing solutions to strengthen the rule of law;

8.  Emphasises, nevertheless, that all the steps to be taken must respect the competences of the EU and of its Member States, as set by the Treaties and the principle of subsidiarity;

9.  Calls on the Commission to keep Parliament regularly and closely informed of its assessments, the progress made and the actions taken;

10.  Expresses the hope that the structured dialogue between the Polish Government and the Commission will also result in other decisions of the Polish Government that have given rise to concerns as to their legality and potential impact on fundamental rights being reviewed;

11.  Expects the Commission to monitor all Member States in the same way as regards respect for democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights, thus avoiding double standards, and to report back to Parliament;

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

Legal notice