Index 
Texts adopted
Tuesday, 25 October 2016 - StrasbourgFinal edition
Automated data exchange with regard to DNA data in Denmark *
 Automated data exchange with regard to dactyloscopic data in Denmark *
 EU-China Agreement on short-stay visa waiver for holders of diplomatic passports ***
 Member States experiencing or threatened with serious difficulties with respect to their financial stability ***I
 Request for waiver of the immunity of Jean-Marie Le Pen
 Request for defence of the privileges and immunities of Jane Collins
 Request for defence of the privileges and immunities of Mario Borghezio
 Rail transport statistics, as regards the collection of data on goods, passengers and accidents ***II
 Statistics of goods transport by inland waterways (delegated and implementing powers) ***II
 Union legal framework for customs infringements and sanctions ***I
 Draft amending budget No 3/2016: Security of the Institutions
 EU strategy towards Iran after the nuclear agreement
 Fight against corruption and follow-up of the CRIM resolution
 Human rights and migration in third countries
 Corporate liability for serious human rights abuses in third countries
 EU strategy for liquefied natural gas and gas storage
 How to make fisheries controls in Europe uniform
 Improving the connection and accessibility of the transport infrastructure in Central and Eastern Europe
 EU mechanism on democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights

Automated data exchange with regard to DNA data in Denmark *
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European Parliament legislative resolution of 25 October 2016 on the draft Council implementing decision on the launch of automated data exchange with regard to DNA data in Denmark (11219/2016 – C8-0340/2016 – 2016/0813(CNS))
P8_TA(2016)0391A8-0289/2016

(Consultation)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Council draft (11219/2016),

–  having regard to Article 39(1) of the Treaty on European Union, as amended by the Treaty of Amsterdam, and Article 9 of Protocol No 36 on transitional provisions, pursuant to which the Council consulted Parliament (C8‑0340/2016),

–  having regard to Council Decision 2008/615/JHA of 23 June 2008 on the stepping up of cross-border cooperation, particularly in combating terrorism and cross-border crime(1), and in particular Article 33 thereof,

–  having regard to its resolution of 10 October 2013 on strengthening cross-border law-enforcement cooperation in the EU: the implementation of the ‘Prüm Decision’ and the European Information Exchange Model(2),

–  having regard to its resolution of 9 July 2015 on the European Agenda on Security(3),

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (A8-0289/2016),

1.  Approves the Council draft;

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

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

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

(1)OJ L 210, 6.8.2008, p. 1.
(2)OJ C 181, 19.5.2016, p. 67.
(3)Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0269.


Automated data exchange with regard to dactyloscopic data in Denmark *
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European Parliament legislative resolution of 25 October 2016 on the draft Council implementing decision on the launch of automated data exchange with regard to dactyloscopic data in Denmark (11220/2016 – C8-0341/2016 – 2016/0814(CNS))
P8_TA(2016)0392A8-0288/2016

(Consultation)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Council draft (11220/2016),

–  having regard to Article 39(1) of the Treaty on European Union, as amended by the Treaty of Amsterdam, and Article 9 of Protocol No 36 on transitional provisions, pursuant to which the Council consulted Parliament (C8‑0341/2016),

–  having regard to Council Decision 2008/615/JHA of 23 June 2008 on the stepping up of cross-border cooperation, particularly in combating terrorism and cross-border crime(1), and in particular Article 33 thereof,

–  having regard to its resolution of 10 October 2013 on strengthening cross-border law-enforcement cooperation in the EU: the implementation of the ‘Prüm Decision’ and the European Information Exchange Model (EIXM)(2),

–  having regard to its resolution of 9 July 2015 on the European Agenda on Security(3),

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (A8-0288/2016),

1.  Approves the Council draft;

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

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

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

(1)OJ L 210, 6.8.2008, p. 1.
(2) OJ C 181, 19.5.2016, p. 67.
(3) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0269.


EU-China Agreement on short-stay visa waiver for holders of diplomatic passports ***
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European Parliament legislative resolution of 25 October 2016 on the draft Council decision on the conclusion, on behalf of the European Union, of the Agreement between the European Union and the People's Republic of China on the short-stay visa waiver for holders of diplomatic passports (15470/2015 – C8-0110/2016 – 2015/0293(NLE))
P8_TA(2016)0393A8-0281/2016

(Consent)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the draft Council decision (15470/2015),

–  having regard to the draft Agreement between the European Union and the People's Republic of China on the short-stay visa waiver for holders of diplomatic passports (15469/2015),

–  having regard to the request for consent submitted by the Council in accordance with Article 77(2) and Article 218(6), second subparagraph, point (a)(v), of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (C8‑0110/2016),

–  having regard to the letter from the Committee on Foreign Affairs,

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

–  having regard to the recommendation of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (A8-0281/2016),

1.  Gives its consent to conclusion of the agreement;

2.  Instructs its President to forward its position to the Council, the Commission and the governments and parliaments of the Member States and of the People’s Republic of China.


Member States experiencing or threatened with serious difficulties with respect to their financial stability ***I
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Resolution
Text
European Parliament legislative resolution of 25 October 2016 on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Regulation (EU) No 1303/2013 as regards certain provisions relating to financial management for certain Member States experiencing or threatened with serious difficulties with respect to their financial stability (COM(2016)0418 – C8-0238/2016 – 2016/0193(COD))
P8_TA(2016)0394A8-0292/2016

(Ordinary legislative procedure: first reading)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Commission proposal to Parliament and the Council (COM(2016)0418),

–  having regard to Article 294(2) and Article 177 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, pursuant to which the Commission submitted the proposal to Parliament (C8-0238/2016),

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

–  having regard to the opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee of 21 September 2016(1),

–  after consulting the Committee of the Regions,

–  having regard to the letter of the Committee on Budgets,

–  having regard to the undertaking given by the Council representative by letter of 21 September 2016 to approve Parliament’s position, in accordance with Article 294(4) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Regional Development (A8-0292/2016),

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

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

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

Position of the European Parliament adopted at first reading on 25 October 2016 with a view to the adoption of Regulation (EU) 2016/... of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Regulation (EU) No 1303/2013 as regards certain provisions relating to financial management for certain Member States experiencing or threatened with serious difficulties with respect to their financial stability

(As an agreement was reached between Parliament and Council, Parliament's position corresponds to the final legislative act, Regulation (EU) 2016/2135.)

(1) Not yet published in the Official Journal.


Request for waiver of the immunity of Jean-Marie Le Pen
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European Parliament decision of 25 October 2016 on the request for waiver of the immunity of Jean-Marie Le Pen (2016/2108(IMM))
P8_TA(2016)0395A8-0301/2016

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to two applications for waiver of the immunity of Jean-Marie Le Pen forwarded by the General Public Prosecutor at the Paris Court of Appeal on 14 March 2016 and announced in plenary on 8 June 2016 in connection with two cases pending before the Examining Magistrates at the Paris Regional Court pertaining to incitement to racial hatred (2211/15/21 and 2226/15/9), both of which concern the same facts,

–  having heard Jean-Marie Le Pen in accordance with Rule 9(5) of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to Articles 8 and 9 of Protocol No 7 on the Privileges and Immunities of the European Union and Article 6(2) of the Act of 20 September 1976 concerning the election of the members of the European Parliament by direct universal suffrage,

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

–  having regard to Article 26 of the Constitution of the French Republic,

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Legal Affairs (A8-0301/2016),

Α.  whereas two Examining Magistrates at the Paris Regional Court have requested waiver of the parliamentary immunity of Jean-Marie Le Pen in connection with an alleged criminal offence;

Β.  whereas, pursuant to Article 9 of Protocol No 7 on the Privileges and Immunities of the European Union, Members of the European Parliament enjoy, in the territory of their own State, the immunities accorded to members of their parliament;

C.  whereas, pursuant to Article 26 of the Constitution of the French Republic, ‘no Member of Parliament shall be subject to investigation, arrest, detention or conviction by a court of law for opinions expressed or votes cast by him while carrying out his duties’ and whereas no Member of Parliament may be ‘arrested or otherwise deprived of, or restricted in, his liberty on account of a crime or misdemeanour’ without the consent of Parliament;

D.  whereas Article 8 of Protocol No 7 on the Privileges and Immunities of the European Union stipulates that Members of the European Parliament shall not be subject to any form of inquiry, detention or legal proceedings in respect of opinions expressed or votes cast by them in the performance of their duties;

E.  whereas the purpose of this provision is to ensure that Members of the European Parliament, as a matter of principle, have the right of freedom of expression, but this right does not provide carte blanche for slander, defamation, incitement to hatred or libellous assertions or any other statement which infringes Article 21 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union;

F.  whereas the provisions concerning parliamentary immunity must be interpreted in the light of the values, aims and principles of the EU Treaties;

G.  whereas, for Members of the European Parliament, this absolute immunity implies that opinions cannot be challenged, whether they are expressed during official meetings of Parliament or elsewhere, for example in the media, when there is ‘a link between the opinion expressed and parliamentary duties’;

H.  whereas Jean-Marie Le Pen is accused of having publicly incited racial hatred in a video clip published on the internet on 6 June 2014;

I.  whereas there is no connection between the statement at issue and the parliamentary work of Jean-Marie Le Pen, and whereas Jean-Marie Le Pen therefore was not acting in his capacity as a Member of the European Parliament;

J.  whereas there is no evidence suggesting fumus persecutionis, i.e. an attempt to prevent Jean-Marie Le Pen from performing his parliamentary work;

1.  Decides to waive the immunity of Jean-Marie Le Pen;

2.  Instructs its President to forward this decision and the report of its committee responsible immediately to the competent authorities of the French Republic.

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


Request for defence of the privileges and immunities of Jane Collins
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European Parliament decision of 25 October 2016 on the request for defence of the privileges and immunities of Jane Collins (2016/2087(IMM))
P8_TA(2016)0396A8-0297/2016

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the request by Jane Collins of 3 May 2016, announced in plenary on 11 May 2016, for the defence of her privileges and immunities in connection with civil proceedings against her before the Queen’s Bench Division of the High Court in London (Claim No HQ14DO4882),

–  having heard James Carver, who represented Jane Collins, in accordance with Rule 9(5) of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to Articles 7, 8 and 9 of Protocol No 7 on the Privileges and Immunities of the European Union, and Article 6(2) of the Act of 20 September 1976 concerning the election of the members of the European Parliament by direct universal suffrage,

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

–  having regard to Rule 5(2) and Rules 7 and 9 of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Legal Affairs (A8-0297/2016),

A.  whereas Jane Collins has requested the defence of her parliamentary privileges and immunities in connection with civil proceedings against her before the Queen’s Bench Division of the High Court in London;

B.  whereas, firstly, the request concerns the defence of the right of Members of the European Parliament, under Article 7 of the Protocol, not to be subject to administrative or other restrictions on their free movement when travelling to or from the European Parliament;

C.  whereas this part of the request relates to the fact that Jane Collins has allegedly been prevented from travelling to parliamentary meetings by the scheduling of the court proceedings being brought against her;

D.  whereas, however, Article 7 of the Protocol does not apply to restrictions arising out of legal proceedings, as those are covered by the specific rules contained in Articles 8 and 9 of the Protocol(2), and the request for defence of parliamentary privilege is therefore inadmissible in respect of Article 7 of the Protocol;

E.  whereas, secondly, the request concerns the defence of the freedom of Members of the European Parliament, under Article 8 of the Protocol, from any form of inquiry, detention or legal proceedings in respect of opinions expressed or votes cast by them in the performance of their duties;

F.  whereas this part of the request relates to the fact that Jane Collins is subject to a civil claim in the United Kingdom for damages, including aggravated damages, for alleged libel and slander, as well as to a claim for an injunction against her to desist from repeating the contested statements;

G.  whereas the claim of libel and slander concerns accusations which Jane Collins made at a party conference;

H.  whereas the parliamentary immunity conferred by Article 8 of the Protocol applies to opinions expressed by Members of the European Parliament only in the performance of their duties;

I.  whereas statements made by Members of the European Parliament outside the precincts of the European Parliament are considered to be made in the performance of their duties only if they amount to a subjective appraisal having a direct, obvious connection with the performance of those duties(3);

J.  whereas, however, there is no direct, obvious connection between the contested statements and Jane Collins’s duties as a Member of the European Parliament, as they do not relate to her activity as a Member of the European Parliament or to the policies of the European Union, and were made in the context of national political debate;

K.  whereas the contested statements are, therefore, not covered by Article 8 of the Protocol;

1.  Decides not to defend the privileges and immunities of Jane Collins;

2.  Instructs its President to forward this decision and the report of its committee responsible immediately to the authorities of the United Kingdom, including to the Honourable Mr Justice Warby.

(1) Judgment of the Court of Justice of 12 May 1964, Wagner v Fohrmann and Krier, 101/63, ECLI:EU:C:1964:28; judgment of the Court of Justice of 10 July 1986, Wybot v Faure and Others, 149/85, ECLI:EU:C:1986:310; judgment of the General Court of 15 October 2008, Mote v Parliament, T-345/05, ECLI:EU:T:2008:440; judgment of the Court of Justice of 21 October 2008, Marra v De Gregorio and Clemente, C 200/07 and C-201/07, ECLI:EU:C:2008:579; judgment of the General Court of 19 March 2010, Gollnisch v Parliament, T-42/06, ECLI:EU:T:2010:102; judgment of the Court of Justice of 6 September 2011, Patriciello, C 163/10, ECLI: EU:C:2011:543; judgment of the General Court of 17 January 2013, Gollnisch v Parliament, T-346/11 and T-347/11, ECLI:EU:T:2013:23.
(2) Judgment of the General Court of 15 October 2008, Mote v Parliament, T-345/05, ECLI:EU:T:2008:440, paragraphs 49 and 51.
(3) Judgment of the Court of Justice of 6 September 2011, Patriciello, C 163/10, ECLI: EU:C:2011:543.


Request for defence of the privileges and immunities of Mario Borghezio
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European Parliament decision of 25 October 2016 on the request for defence of the privileges and immunities of Mario Borghezio (2016/2028(IMM))
P8_TA(2016)0397A8-0312/2016

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the request by Mario Borghezio of 5 January 2016, announced in plenary on 1 February 2016, for the defence of his privileges and immunities in connection with criminal proceedings pending before the Court of Milan (RGNR No 41838/13, RG GIP No 12607/14),

–  having heard Mario Borghezio in accordance with Rule 9(5) of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to Articles 8 and 9 of Protocol No 7 on the Privileges and Immunities of the European Union and Article 6(2) of the Act of 20 September 1976 concerning the election of the members of the European Parliament by direct universal suffrage,

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

—  having regard to point (A) of Article 1(1) of Italian Law No 205/1993,

—  having regard to Rule 5(2) and Rules 7 and 9 of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Legal Affairs (A8-0312/2016),

A.  whereas a Member of the European Parliament, Mario Borghezio, has requested the defence of his parliamentary immunity, under Articles 8 and 9 of Protocol No 7, in connection with criminal proceedings pending before the Court of Milan; whereas, according to the notice served by the Public Prosecutor’s Office, Mr Borghezio is alleged to have advocated ideas founded on superiority and racial or ethnic hatred during a radio programme, which behaviour is punishable under Article 1(a) of Italian Law No 205/1993;

B.  whereas Articles 8 and 9 of Protocol No 7 on the Privileges and Immunities of the European Union are mutually exclusive(2); whereas the case in point only concerns allegedly discriminatory opinions expressed by a Member of the European Parliament; whereas, therefore, the applicability of Article 8 alone of the Protocol is self-explanatory;

C.  whereas, according to Article 8 of Protocol No 7, Members of the European Parliament may not be subject to any form of inquiry, detention or legal proceedings in respect of opinions expressed or votes cast by them in the performance of their duties;

D.  whereas the Court of Justice has held, that, in order to enjoy immunity, an opinion must be expressed by a Member of the European Parliament in the performance of his duties, thus entailing the requirement of a link between the opinion expressed and the parliamentary duties; whereas such link must be direct and obvious(3);

E.  whereas, during the radio programme in question, Mario Borghezio was asked to comment on the appointment and competence of a new member of the Italian Government, namely the new Minister for Integration;

F.  whereas the facts of the case, as manifested in the documents provided to the Committee on Legal Affairs and in the hearing before the latter, indicate that the statements he made during the interview have no direct and obvious connection with his parliamentary activities;

G.  whereas, in particular, the statements alleged to have been made exceed the tone generally encountered in political debate and are, moreover, profoundly unparliamentary in nature; whereas they are contrary to Article 21 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union and cannot therefore be deemed to have been made in the performance of the duties of a Member of the European Parliament;

H.  whereas Mario Borghezio cannot therefore be deemed to have been acting in the performance of his duties as a Member of the European Parliament;

I.  whereas the Court of Justice held that, where an action has been brought against a Member of the European Parliament before a national court and that court is informed that a procedure for defence of the privileges and immunities of that Member, as provided for in Parliament’s Rules of Procedure, has been initiated, that court must stay the judicial proceedings and request the Parliament to issue its opinion as soon as possible(4); whereas the Court of Milan, before which legal proceedings had been instituted against Mr Borghezio, refused to stay the proceedings and ordered that they be continued despite a request made by Mr Borghezio on the basis of the relevant case-law of the Court of Justice;

1.  Decides not to defend the privileges and immunities of Mario Borghezio;

2.  Deplores the fact that the Court of Milan, in spite of the relevant case-law of the Court of Justice, refused to stay the proceedings brought against Mr Borghezio;

3.  Expects the Italian authorities always to comply with the principle held by the Court of Justice in relation to the obligation upon the competent court to stay the judicial proceedings when a request for defence of the privileges and immunities of a Member of the European Parliament has been submitted;

4.  Instructs its President to forward this decision and the report of its committee responsible immediately to the competent authority of the Italian Republic and to Mario Borghezio.

(1) Judgment of the Court of Justice of 12 May 1964, Wagner v Fohrmann and Krier, 101/63, ECLI:EU:C:1964:28; judgment of the Court of Justice of 10 July 1986, Wybot v Faure and others, 149/85, ECLI:EU:C:1986:310; judgment of the General Court of 15 October 2008, Mote v Parliament, T-345/05, ECLI:EU:T:2008:440; judgment of the Court of Justice of 21 October 2008, Marra v De Gregorio and Clemente, C‑200/07 and C-201/07, ECLI:EU:C:2008:579; judgment of the General Court of 19 March 2010, Gollnisch v Parliament, T-42/06, ECLI:EU:T:2010:102; judgment of the Court of Justice of 6 September 2011, Patriciello, C‑163/10, ECLI: EU:C:2011:543; judgment of the General Court of 17 January 2013, Gollnisch v Parliament, T-346/11 and T-347/11, ECLI:EU:T:2013:23.
(2) Joined Cases C-200/07 and C-201/07 Marra, cited above, paragraph 45.
(3) Case C-163/10 Patriciello, cited above, paragraphs 33 and 35.
(4) Joined Cases C-200/07 and C-201/07 Marra, cited above, paragraph 43.


Rail transport statistics, as regards the collection of data on goods, passengers and accidents ***II
PDF 251kWORD 41k
European Parliament legislative resolution of 25 October 2016 on the Council position at first reading with a view to the adoption of a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Regulation (EC) No 91/2003 on rail transport statistics, as regards the collection of data on goods, passengers and accidents (10000/1/2016 – C8-0365/2016 – 2013/0297(COD))
P8_TA(2016)0398A8-0300/2016

(Ordinary legislative procedure: second reading)

The European Parliament,

—  having regard to the Council position at first reading (10000/1/2016 – C8-0365/2016),

—  having regard to its position at first reading(1) on the Commission proposal to Parliament and the Council (COM(2013)0611),

–  having regard to Article 294(7) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

–  having regard to Rule 76 of its Rules of Procedure,

—  having regard to the recommendation for second reading of the Committee on Transport and Tourism (A8-0300/2016),

1.  Approves the Council position at first reading;

2.  Notes that the act is adopted in accordance with the Council position;

3.  Instructs its President to sign the act with the President of the Council, in accordance with Article 297(1) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union;

4.  Instructs its Secretary-General to sign the act, once it has been verified that all the procedures have been duly completed, and, in agreement with the Secretary-General of the Council, to arrange for its publication in the Official Journal of the European Union;

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

(1) Texts adopted of 11.3.2014, P7_TA(2014)0197.


Statistics of goods transport by inland waterways (delegated and implementing powers) ***II
PDF 251kWORD 41k
European Parliament legislative resolution of 25 October 2016 on the Council position at first reading with a view to the adoption of a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Regulation (EC) No 1365/2006 on statistics of goods transport by inland waterways as regards the conferral of delegated and implementing powers on the Commission for the adoption of certain measures (09878/1/2016 – C8-0358/2016 – 2013/0226(COD))
P8_TA(2016)0399A8-0298/2016

(Ordinary legislative procedure: second reading)

The European Parliament,

—  having regard to the Council position at first reading (09878/1/2016 – C8-0358/2016),

—  having regard to its position at first reading(1) on the Commission proposal to Parliament and the Council (COM(2013)0484),

–  having regard to Article 294(7) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

–  having regard to Rule 76 of its Rules of Procedure,

—  having regard to the recommendation for second reading of the Committee on Transport and Tourism (A8-0298/2016),

1.  Approves the Council position at first reading;

2.  Notes that the act is adopted in accordance with the Council position;

3.  Instructs its President to sign the act with the President of the Council, in accordance with Article 297(1) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union;

4.  Instructs its Secretary-General to sign the act, once it has been verified that all the procedures have been duly completed, and, in agreement with the Secretary-General of the Council, to arrange for its publication in the Official Journal of the European Union;

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

(1) Texts adopted of 11.3.2014, P7_TA(2014)0180.


Union legal framework for customs infringements and sanctions ***I
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Amendments adopted by the European Parliament on 25 October 2016 on the proposal for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on the Union legal framework for customs infringements and sanctions (COM(2013)0884 – C8-0033/2014 – 2013/0432(COD))(1)
P8_TA(2016)0400A8-0239/2016

(Ordinary legislative procedure: first reading)

Text proposed by the Commission   Amendment
Amendment 1
Proposal for a directive
Citation 1
Having regard to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, and in particular Article 33 thereof,
Having regard to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, and in particular Articles 33 and 114 thereof,
Amendment 2
Proposal for a directive
Recital 1 a (new)
(1a)  This Directive should be in line with Regulation (EU) No 952/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council1.
___________________
1 Regulation (EU) No 952/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 9 October 2013 laying down the Union Customs Code (OJ L 269, 10.10.2013, p. 1).
Amendment 3
Proposal for a directive
Recital 2
(2)  Consequently, customs infringements and sanctions follow 28 different sets of legal rules. As a result of that, a breach of Union customs legislation is not treated the same way throughout the Union and the sanctions that may be imposed in each case differ in nature and severity depending on the Member State that is imposing the sanction.
(2)  Customs infringements and sanctions follow 28 different sets of legal rules. As a result of that, a breach of Union customs legislation is not treated the same way throughout the Union and the sanctions that may be imposed in each case differ in nature and severity depending on the Member State that is imposing the sanction, leading to possible losses of revenue for the Member States and trade distortions.
Amendment 4
Proposal for a directive
Recital 3
(3)  That disparity of Member States' legal systems affects not only the optimal management of the customs union, but also prevents that a level playing field is achieved for economic operators in the customs union because it has an impact on their access to customs simplifications and facilitations.
(3)  That disparity of Member States' legal systems not only affects the optimal management of the customs union and the transparency necessary to ensure the proper functioning of the internal market as regards ways in which infringements are handled by the different customs authorities, but also prevents the achievement of a level playing field for economic operators in the customs union, who are already subject to different sets of rules across the Union, because it has an impact on their access to customs simplifications and facilitations.
Amendment 5
Proposal for a directive
Recital 6
(6)  A list of behaviour which should be considered as infringing Union customs legislation and give rise to sanctions should be established. Those customs infringements should be fully based on the obligations stemming from the customs legislation with direct references to the Code. This Directive does not determine whether Member States should apply administrative or criminal law sanctions in respect of those customs infringements.
(6)  A list of behaviour which should be considered as infringing Union customs legislation and give rise to sanctions should be established by this Directive. Those customs infringements should be fully based on the obligations stemming from the customs legislation with direct references to the Code. This Directive provides that Member States should apply non-criminal sanctions in respect of those customs infringements. It should also be possible for Member States to provide for the imposition of criminal sanctions, in accordance with national laws and Union law, instead of non-criminal sanctions where the nature and gravity of the infringement in question so requires in order for the sanction imposed to be dissuasive, effective and proportionate.
Amendment 6
Proposal for a directive
Recital 7
(7)  The first category of behaviour should include customs infringements based on strict liability, which does not require any element of fault, considering the objective nature of the obligations involved and the fact that the persons responsible to fulfil them cannot ignore their existence and binding character.
deleted
Amendment 7
Proposal for a directive
Recital 8
(8)  The second and third category of behaviour should include customs infringements committed by negligence or intentionally, respectively, where that subjective element has to be established for liability to arise.
deleted
Amendment 8
Proposal for a directive
Recital 10
(10)  In order to ensure legal certainty, it should be provided that any act or omission resulting from an error on the part of the customs authorities should not be considered a customs infringement.
(10)  In order to ensure legal certainty, it should be provided that any act or omission resulting from an error on the part of the customs authorities as referred to in the Code should not be considered to constitute a customs infringement.
Amendment 9
Proposal for a directive
Recital 12
(12)  In order to approximate the national sanctioning systems of the Member States, scales of sanctions should be established reflecting the different categories of the customs infringements and their seriousness. For the purpose of imposing effective, proportionate and dissuasive sanctions, Member States should also ensure that their competent authorities take into account specific aggravating or mitigating circumstances when determining the type and level of sanctions to be applied.
(12)  In order to approximate the national sanctioning systems of the Member States, scales of sanctions should be established reflecting the seriousness of the customs infringements. For the purpose of imposing effective, proportionate and dissuasive sanctions, Member States should also ensure that their competent authorities take into account specific aggravating or mitigating circumstances when determining the type and level of sanctions to be applied.
Amendment 10
Proposal for a directive
Recital 12 a (new)
(12a)  Only in cases where serious infringements are linked not to the duties evaded but to the value of the goods concerned, for instance in the case of infringements relating to intellectual property rights or prohibited or restricted goods, customs authorities should base the sanction imposed on the value of the goods.
Amendment 11
Proposal for a directive
Recital 13
(13)  The limitation period for proceedings concerning a customs infringement should be fixed at four years from the day on which the customs infringement was committed or, in case of continuous or repeated infringements, where the behaviour constituting that infringement ceases. Member States should ensure that the limitation period is interrupted by an act relating to investigations or legal proceedings concerning the customs infringement. Member States may lay down cases where that period is suspended. The initiation or continuation of these proceedings should be precluded after an expiry period of eight years, while the limitation period for the enforcement of a sanction should be of three years.
(13)  The limitation period for proceedings concerning a customs infringement should be fixed at four years from the day on which the customs infringement was committed or, in the case of continuous or repeated infringements, when the behaviour constituting that infringement ceases. Member States should ensure that the limitation period is interrupted by an act relating to investigations or legal proceedings concerning the same customs infringement, or by an act on the part of the person responsible for the infringement. It should be possible for Member States to lay down cases in which that period is suspended. Any proceedings should be time-barred, irrespective of any interruption of the limitation period, after the expiry of a period of eight years, while the limitation period for the enforcement of a sanction should be three years.
Amendment 12
Proposal for a directive
Recital 14
(14)  A suspension of administrative proceedings concerning customs infringements should be provided for where criminal proceedings have been initiated against the same person in connection with the same facts. The continuation of the administrative proceedings after the completion of the criminal proceedings should be possible only in strict conformity with the ne bis in idem principle.
(14)  A suspension of administrative proceedings concerning customs infringements should be provided for where criminal proceedings have been initiated against the same person in connection with the same facts. The continuation of the administrative proceedings after the completion of the criminal proceedings should be possible only in strict conformity with the ne bis in idem principle, meaning that the same offence must not be penalised twice.
Amendment 13
Proposal for a directive
Recital 15 a (new)
(15a)  The overall objective of this Directive is to ensure the effective enforcement of Union customs legislation. However, the legal framework provided for by this Directive does not allow an integrated approach to enforcement, including supervision, control, and investigation. The Commission should therefore be required to submit to the European Parliament and to the Council a report on those aspects, including on the implementation of the common risk management framework, in order to assess whether further legislation is needed.
Amendment 14
Proposal for a directive
Recital 18 a (new)
(18a)  This Directive is intended to strengthen customs cooperation by approximating national laws on customs sanctions. Given that, at present, the legal traditions of Member States differ greatly, total harmonisation in this area is impossible.
Amendment 15
Proposal for a directive
Article 1 – paragraph 1
1.  This Directive establishes a framework concerning the infringements of Union customs legislation and provides for sanctions for those infringements.
1.  This Directive seeks to contribute to the proper functioning of the internal market and to lay down the framework concerning infringements of Union customs legislation, and provides for the imposition of non-criminal sanctions for those infringements by approximating the provisions laid down by law, regulation or administrative action in the Member States.
Amendment 16
Proposal for a directive
Article 1 – paragraph 2 a (new)
2a.  This Directive covers the obligations of the Member States towards the trading partners of the European Union, as well as the World Trade Organization and the World Customs Organization, with a view to establishing a homogeneous and effective internal market while facilitating trade and providing certainty.
Amendment 17
Proposal for a directive
Article 2
Article 2
Article 2
Customs infringements and sanctions
General principles
Member States shall lay down rules on sanctions in respect of the customs infringements set out in Articles 3 to 6.
1.  Member States shall lay down rules on sanctions in respect of the customs infringements set out in Articles 3 and 6 in strict conformity with the ne bis in idem principle.
Member States shall ensure that the acts or omissions set out in Articles 3 and 6 constitute customs infringements where they are committed by negligence or intentionally.
Member States may provide for the imposition of criminal sanctions, in accordance with national laws and Union law, instead of non-criminal sanctions where the nature and gravity of the infringement in question so requires in order for the sanction imposed to be dissuasive, effective and proportionate.
2.  For the purposes of this Directive:
(a)  custom authorities shall determine whether the infringement was committed by negligence, meaning that the person responsible failed to exercise reasonable care with respect to the control of his or her operations, or the act of taking measures which are manifestly insufficient, to avoid the occurrence of circumstances giving rise to the infringement, where the risk of its occurrence is reasonably foreseeable;
(b)  custom authorities shall determine whether the infringement was committed intentionally, meaning that the act or omission was done by the person responsible in the knowledge that that act or omission constituted an infringement, or with the wilful and conscious aim of contravening customs legislation;
(c)  clerical errors or mistakes shall not constitute a customs infringement unless it is clear from all the circumstances that they were committed as a result of negligence or with intent.
Amendment 18
Proposal for a directive
Article 2 a (new)
Article 2a
Trade facilitation
In order to comply with the Union's obligations under the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement, Member States shall work together to set up a cooperation system including all Member States. That system shall aim at coordinating key performance indicators regarding customs sanctions (analysis of the number of appeals, rate of recidivism, etc.); disseminating best practice among customs services (efficiency of controls and sanctions, reduction of administrative costs, etc.); passing on the experiences of economic operators and creating links between them; monitoring the way in which customs services perform their activities; and performing statistical work on infringements committed by companies from third countries. Within the cooperation system, all Member States shall be notified without delay of investigations into customs infringements and of established infringements in such a way as to facilitate trade, prevent illegal goods from entering the internal market and improve the effectiveness of checks.
Amendment 19
Proposal for a directive
Article 3
Article 3
Article 3
Strict liability customs infringements
Customs infringements
Member States shall ensure that the following acts or omissions constitute customs infringements irrespective of any element of fault:
Member States shall ensure that the following acts or omissions constitute customs infringements:
(a)  failure of the person lodging a customs declaration, temporary storage declaration, entry summary declaration, exit summary declaration, re-export declaration or re-export notification to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information given in the declaration, notification or application in accordance with Article 15(2)(a) of the Code;
(a)  failure of the person lodging a customs declaration, temporary storage declaration, entry summary declaration, exit summary declaration, re-export declaration or re-export notification to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information given in the declaration, notification or application in accordance with point (a) of Article 15(2) of the Code;
(b)  failure of the person lodging a customs declaration, temporary storage declaration, entry summary declaration, exit summary declaration, re-export declaration or re-export notification to ensure the authenticity, accuracy and validity of any supporting document in accordance with Article 15(2)(b) of the Code;
(b)  failure of the person lodging a customs declaration, temporary storage declaration, entry summary declaration, exit summary declaration, re-export declaration or re-export notification to ensure the authenticity, accuracy and validity of any supporting document in accordance with point (b) of Article 15(2) of the Code;
(c)  failure of the person to lodge an entry summary declaration in accordance with Article 127 of the Code, a notification of arrival of a sea going vessel or of an aircraft in accordance with Article 133 of the Code, a temporary storage declaration in accordance with Article 145 of the Code, a customs declaration in accordance with Article 158 of the Code, a notification of activities in free zones in accordance with Article 244(2) of the Code, a pre-departure declaration in accordance with Article 263 of the Code, a re-export declaration in accordance with Article 270 of the Code, an exit summary declaration in accordance with Article 271 of the Code or a re-export notification in accordance with Article 274 of the Code;
(c)  failure of a person to lodge an entry summary declaration in accordance with Article 127 of the Code, a notification of arrival of a seagoing vessel or of an aircraft in accordance with Article 133 of the Code, a temporary storage declaration in accordance with Article 145 of the Code, a customs declaration in accordance with Article 158 of the Code, a notification of activities in free zones in accordance with Article 244(2) of the Code, a pre-departure declaration in accordance with Article 263 of the Code, a re-export declaration in accordance with Article 270 of the Code, an exit summary declaration in accordance with Article 271 of the Code or a re-export notification in accordance with Article 274 of the Code;
(d)  failure of an economic operator to keep the documents and information related to the accomplishment of customs formalities by any accessible means for the period of time required by customs legislation in accordance with Article 51 of the Code;
(d)  failure of an economic operator to keep the documents and information related to the accomplishment of customs formalities by any accessible means for the period of time required by customs legislation in accordance with Article 51 of the Code;
(e)  removal of goods brought into the customs territory of the Union from customs supervision without the permission of the customs authorities, contrary to the first and second sub-paragraphs of Article 134(1) of the Code;
(e)  removal of goods brought into the customs territory of the Union from customs supervision without the permission of the customs authorities, contrary to the first and second sub-paragraphs of Article 134(1) of the Code;
(f)  removal of goods from customs supervision, contrary to the fourth sub-paragraph of Article 134(1) and Articles 158(3) and 242 of the Code;
(f)  removal of goods from customs supervision, contrary to the fourth sub-paragraph of Article 134(1) and Articles 158(3) and 242 of the Code;
(g)  failure of a person bringing goods into the customs territory of the Union to comply with the obligations relating to the conveyance of the goods in the appropriate place in accordance with Article 135(1) of the Code, or to inform customs authorities when the obligations cannot be complied with in accordance with Article 137(1) and (2) of the Code;
(g)  failure of a person bringing goods into the customs territory of the Union to comply with the obligations relating to the conveyance of the goods in the appropriate place in accordance with Article 135(1) of the Code, or to inform customs authorities without delay when the obligations cannot be complied with in accordance with Article 137(1) and (2) of the Code and of the whereabouts of the goods;
(h)  failure of a person bringing goods into a free zone, where the free zone adjoins the land frontier between a Member State and a third country, to bring those goods directly into that free zone without passing through another part of the customs territory of the Union in accordance with Article 135(2) of the Code;
(h)  failure of a person bringing goods into a free zone, where the free zone adjoins the land frontier between a Member State and a third country, to bring those goods directly into that free zone without passing through another part of the customs territory of the Union in accordance with Article 135(2) of the Code;
(i)  failure of the declarant for temporary storage or for a customs procedure to provide documents to the customs authorities where Union legislation so requires or where necessary for customs controls in accordance with Article 145(2) and Article 163(2) of the Code;
(i)  failure of the declarant for temporary storage or for a customs procedure to provide documents to the customs authorities where Union legislation so requires or where necessary for customs controls in accordance with Article 145(2) and Article 163(2) of the Code;
(j)  failure of the economic operator responsible for non-Union goods which are in temporary storage to place those goods under a customs procedure or to re-export them within the time limit in accordance with Article 149 of the Code;
(j)  failure of the declarant for temporary storage, or of the person storing the goods in cases where they are stored in other places designated or approved by the customs authorities, responsible for non-Union goods which are in temporary storage, to place those goods under a customs procedure or to re-export them within the time limit in accordance with Article 149 of the Code;
(k)  failure of the declarant for a customs procedure to have in their possession and at the disposal of the customs authorities, at the time when the customs declaration or a supplementary declaration is lodged, the supporting documents required for the application of the procedure in question in accordance with Article 163(1) and the second subparagraph of Article 167(1) of the Code;
(k)  failure of the declarant for a customs procedure to have in his possession and at the disposal of the customs authorities, at the time when the customs declaration or a supplementary declaration is lodged, the supporting documents required for the application of the procedure in question in accordance with Article 163(1) and the second subparagraph of Article 167(1) of the Code;
(l)  failure of the declarant for a customs procedure, in the case of a simplified declaration pursuant to Article 166 of the Code or of an entry into the declarant’s records pursuant to Article 182 of the Code, to lodge a supplementary declaration at the competent customs office and within the specific time-limit in accordance with Article 167(1) of the Code;
(l)  failure of the declarant for a customs procedure, in the case of a simplified declaration pursuant to Article 166 of the Code or of an entry into the declarant’s records pursuant to Article 182 of the Code, to lodge a supplementary declaration at the competent customs office and within the specific time-limit in accordance with Article 167(1) of the Code;
(m)  removal or destruction of means of identification affixed by customs authorities in goods, packaging or means of transport without prior authorisation granted by the customs authorities in accordance with Article 192(2) of the Code;
(m)  removal or destruction of means of identification affixed by customs authorities in goods, packaging or means of transport without prior authorisation granted by the customs authorities in accordance with Article 192(2) of the Code;
(n)  failure of the holder of the inward processing procedure to discharge a customs procedure within the time limit specified in accordance with Article 257 of the Code;
(n)  failure of the holder of the inward processing procedure to discharge a customs procedure within the time limit specified in accordance with Article 257 of the Code;
(o)  failure of the holder of the outward processing procedure to export the defective goods within the time limit in accordance with Article 262 of the Code;
(o)  failure of the holder of the outward processing procedure to export the defective goods within the time limit in accordance with Article 262 of the Code;
(p)  construction of a building in a free zone without the approval of the customs authorities in accordance with Article 244(1) of the Code;
(p)  construction of a building in a free zone without the prior approval of the customs authorities in accordance with Article 244(1) of the Code;
(q)  non-payment of import or export duties by the person liable to pay within the period prescribed in accordance with Article 108 of the Code.
(q)  non-payment of import or export duties by the person liable to pay within the period prescribed in accordance with Article 108 of the Code;
(qa)  failure of an economic operator to supply, in response to a request by the customs authorities, the requisite documents and information in an appropriate form and within a reasonable time and to provide all the assistance necessary for the completion of the customs formalities or controls in accordance with Article 15(1) of the Code;
(qb)  failure of the holder of a decision relating to the application of customs legislation to comply with the obligations resulting from that decision in accordance with Article 23(1) of the Code;
(qc)  failure of the holder of a decision relating to the application of customs legislation to inform the customs authorities without delay of any factor arising after the taking of a decision by those authorities which influences its continuation or content, in accordance with Article 23(2) of the Code;
(qd)  failure of the holder of the Union transit procedure to present the goods intact at the customs office of destination within the prescribed time limit in accordance with point (a) of Article 233(1) of the Code;
(qe)  unloading or trans-shipping of goods from the means of transport carrying them without authorisation granted by the customs authorities or in places not designated or approved by those authorities in accordance with Article 140 of the Code;
(qf)  storage of goods in temporary storage facilities or customs warehouses without authorisation granted by the customs authorities in accordance with Articles 147 and 148 of the Code;
(qg)  failure of the holder of the authorisation or the holder of the procedure to fulfil the obligations arising from the storage of goods covered by the customs warehousing procedure in accordance with points (a) and (b) of Article 242(1) of the Code;
(qh)  providing customs authorities with false information or documents required by those authorities in accordance with Articles 15 or 163 of the Code;
(qi)  the use of inaccurate or incomplete information or inauthentic, inaccurate or invalid documents by an economic operator in order to obtain from the customs authorities an authorisation:
(i)  to become an authorised economic operator in accordance with Article 38 of the Code;
(ii)  to make use of a simplified declaration in accordance with Article 166 of the Code;
(iii)  to make use of other customs simplifications in accordance with Articles 177, 179, 182 or 185 of the Code; or
(iv)  to place the goods under special procedures in accordance with Article 211 of the Code;
(qj)  introduction or exit of goods into or from the customs territory of the Union without presenting them to customs authorities in accordance with Articles 139, 245 or Article 267(2) of the Code;
(qk)  processing of goods in a customs warehouse without an authorisation granted by the customs authorities in accordance with Article 241 of the Code;
(ql)  acquiring or holding goods involved in one of the customs infringements set out in points (qd) and (qj) of this Article.
Amendment 20
Proposal for a directive
Article 4
Article 4
deleted
Customs infringements committed by negligence
Member States shall ensure that the following acts or omissions constitute customs infringements where committed by negligence:
(a)  failure of the economic operator responsible for non-Union goods which are in temporary storage to place those goods under a customs procedure or to re-export them within the time limit in accordance with Article 149 of the Code;
(b)  failure of the economic operator to provide customs authorities with all the assistance necessary for the completion of the customs formalities or controls in accordance with Article 15(1) of the Code;
(c)  failure of the holder of a decision relating to the application of customs legislation to comply with the obligations resulting from that decision in accordance with Article 23(1) of the Code;
(d)  failure of the holder of a decision relating to the application of customs legislation to inform the customs authorities without delay of any factor arising after the decision was taken by those authorities which influences its continuation or content in accordance with Article 23(2) of the Code;
(e)  failure of the economic operator to present the goods brought into the customs territory of the Union to the customs authorities in accordance with Article 139 of the Code;
(f)  failure of the holder of the Union transit procedure to present the goods intact at the customs office of destination within the prescribed time limit in accordance with Article 233(1)(a) of the Code;
(g)  failure of the economic operator to present the goods brought into a free zone to customs in accordance with Article 245 of the Code;
(h)  failure of the economic operator to present the goods to be taken out of the customs territory of the Union to customs on exit in accordance with Article 267(2) of the Code;
(i)  unloading or trans-shipping of goods from the means of transport carrying them without authorisation granted by the customs authorities or in places not designated or approved by those authorities in accordance with Article 140 of the Code;
(j)  storage of goods in temporary storage facilities or customs warehouses without authorisation granted by the customs authorities in accordance with Articles 147 and 148;
(k)  failure of the holder of the authorisation or the holder of the procedure to fulfil the obligations arising from the storage of goods covered by the customs warehousing procedure in accordance with points (a) and (b) of Article 242(1) of the Code.
Amendment 21
Proposal for a directive
Article 5
Article 5
deleted
Customs infringements committed internationally
Member States shall ensure that the following acts or omissions constitute customs infringements where committed intentionally:
(a)  providing customs authorities with false information or documents required by those authorities in accordance with Articles 15 or 163 of the Code;
(b)  the use of false statements or any other irregular means by an economic operator in order to obtain an authorisation from the customs authorities:
(i)  to become an authorised economic operator in accordance with Article 38 of the Code,
(ii)  to make use of a simplified declaration in accordance with Article 166 of the Code,
(iii)  to make use of other customs simplifications in accordance with Articles 177, 179, 182, 185 of the Code,
(iv)  to place the goods under special procedures in accordance with Article 211 of the Code;
(c)  introduction or exit of goods into or from the customs territory of the Union without presenting them to customs authorities in accordance with Articles 139, 245, or Article 267(2) of the Code;
(d)  failure of the holder of a decision relating to the application of customs legislation to comply with the obligations resulting from that decision in accordance with Article 23(1) of the Code;
(e)  failure of the holder of a decision relating to the application of customs legislation to inform the customs authorities without delay of any factor arising after the decision was taken by those authorities which influences its continuation or content in accordance with Article 23(2) of the Code;
(f)  processing of goods in a customs warehouse without an authorisation granted by the customs authorities in accordance with Article 241 of the Code;
(g)  acquiring or holding goods involved in one of the customs infringements set out in point (f) of Article 4 and point (c) of this Article.
Amendment 22
Proposal for a directive
Article 6
Article 6
Article 6
Incitement, Aiding, Abetting and Attempt
Incitement, aiding, abetting and attempt
1.  Member States shall take the necessary measures to ensure that inciting or aiding and abetting an act or omission referred to in Article 5 is a customs infringement.
1.  Member States shall take the necessary measures to ensure that inciting or aiding and abetting an act or omission referred to in Article 8b(2) constitutes a customs infringement.
2.  Member States shall take the necessary measures to ensure that an attempt to commit an act or omission referred to in points (b) or (c) of Article 5 is a customs infringement.
2.  Member States shall take the necessary measures to ensure that an attempt to commit an act or omission referred to in points (qi) or (qj) of Article 3 constitutes a customs infringement.
Amendment 23
Proposal for a directive
Article 7
Article 7
Article 7
Error on the part of the customs authorities
Error on the part of the customs authorities
The acts or omissions referred to in Articles 3 to 6 do not constitute customs infringements where they occur as a result of an error on the part of the customs authorities.
The acts or omissions referred to in Articles 3 and 6 shall not constitute customs infringements where they occur as a result of an error on the part of the customs authorities, in accordance with Article 119 of the Code, and the customs authorities shall be liable where errors cause damage.
Amendment 24
Proposal for a directive
Article 8 – paragraph 1 – introductory part
1.  Member States shall ensure that legal persons are held liable for customs infringements committed for their benefit by any person, acting either individually or as part of an organ of the legal person, and having a leading position within the legal person, based on any of the following:
1.  Member States shall ensure that legal persons are held liable for customs infringements as referred to in Articles 3 and 6 committed for their benefit by any person, acting either individually or as part of an organ of the legal person, and having a leading position within the legal person, based on any of the following:
Amendment 25
Proposal for a directive
Article 8 – paragraph 2
2.  Member States shall also ensure that legal persons are held liable where the lack of supervision or control by a person referred to in paragraph 1 has made possible the commission of a customs infringement for the benefit of that legal person by a person under the authority of the person referred to in paragraph 1.
(Does not affect the English version.)
Amendment 26
Proposal for a directive
Article 8 – paragraph 3 a (new)
3a.  For the purposes of this Directive, ‘legal person’ shall mean any entity having legal personality under the applicable law, except for States or public bodies in the exercise of State authority and public international organisations.
Amendment 27
Proposal for a directive
Article 8 a (new)
Article 8a
Factors to be taken into account in assessing whether an infringement is minor
1.  When determining whether an infringement as referred to in Article 3 is minor, Member States shall ensure from the beginning of the process, that is to say, during the determination of whether a customs infringement has been committed, that their competent authorities take into account all relevant circumstances that may apply, including the following:
(a)  the infringement was committed as a result of negligence;
(b)  the goods involved are not subject to the prohibitions or restrictions referred to in the second sentence of Article 134(1) of the Code and in point (e) of Article 267(3) of the Code;
(c)  the infringement has little or no impact on the amount of customs duties to be paid;
(d)  the person responsible for the infringement cooperates effectively with the competent authority in the proceedings;
(e)  the person responsible for the infringement voluntary discloses the infringement, provided that the infringement is not yet the subject of any investigation activity of which the person responsible for the infringement has knowledge;
(f)  the person responsible for the infringement is able to show that he or she is making a significant effort to align with Union customs legislation by demonstrating a high level of control of his or her operations, for example by means of a compliance system;
(g)  the person responsible for the infringement is a small or medium-sized enterprise, which had no prior experience in customs related matters.
2.  Competent authorities shall consider an infringement as minor only where there is no aggravating factor with regard to the infringement as referred to in Article 8b.
Amendment 28
Proposal for a directive
Article 8 b (new)
Article 8b
Factors to be taken into account in assessing whether an infringement is serious
1.  When determining whether an infringement as referred to in Article 3 or 6 is serious, Member States shall ensure from the beginning of the process, that is to say, during the determination of whether a customs infringement has been committed, that, the competent authorities take into account any of the following circumstances that may apply:
(a)  the infringement was committed with intent;
(b)  the infringement persisted over a lengthy period of time, reflecting an intention to maintain it;
(c)  a similar or linked infringement is continuing or is repeated, that is to say, committed more than once;
(d)  the infringement has a significant impact on the amount of the import or export duties evaded;
(e)  the goods involved are subject to the prohibitions or restrictions referred to in the second sentence of Article 134(1) of the Code and in point (e) of Article 267(3) of the Code;
(f)  the person responsible for the infringement refuses to cooperate, or to cooperate fully, with the competent authority;
(g)  the person responsible for the infringement has committed previous infringements.
2.  The infringements referred to in points (f), (g), (p), (qi) and (qj) of Article 3 constitute, by their very nature, serious infringements.
Amendment 29
Proposal for a directive
Article 9
Article 9
Article 9
Sanctions for customs infringements referred to in Article 3
Non-criminal sanctions for minor customs infringements
Member States shall ensure that effective, proportionate and dissuasive sanctions are imposed for the customs infringements referred to in Article 3 within the following limits:
1.   Member States shall ensure that effective, proportionate, dissuasive and non-criminal sanctions are imposed, in addition to recovering the duties evaded, for those customs infringements referred to in Article 3 that are considered minor in accordance with Article 8a, within the following limits:
(a)  where the customs infringement relates to specific goods, a pecuniary fine from 1 % up to 5 % of the value of the goods;
(a)  where the customs infringement is linked to the duties evaded, a pecuniary fine of up to 70 % of the duties evaded;
(b)  where the customs infringement is not related to specific goods, a pecuniary fine from EUR 150 up to EUR 7 500.
(b)  where the customs infringement is not linked to the duties evaded, a pecuniary fine of up to EUR 7 500.
2.  When determining the level of sanctions to be imposed within the limits laid down in paragraph 1 of this Article, Member States shall ensure that all relevant circumstances listed in Article 8a are taken into account.
Amendment 30
Proposal for a directive
Article 10
Article 10
deleted
Sanctions for customs infringements referred to in Article 4
Member States shall ensure that effective, proportionate and dissuasive sanctions are imposed for the customs infringements referred to in Article 4 within the following limits:
(a)  where the customs infringement relates to specific goods, a pecuniary fine up to 15 % of the value of the goods;
(b)  where the customs infringement is not related to specific goods, a pecuniary fine up to EUR 22 500.
Amendment 31
Proposal for a directive
Article 11
Article 11
Article 11
Sanctions for customs infringements referred to in Article 5 and 6
Non-criminal sanctions for serious customs infringements
Member States shall ensure that effective, proportionate and dissuasive sanctions are imposed for the customs infringements referred to in Articles 5 and 6 within the following limits:
1.   Member States shall ensure that effective, proportionate, dissuasive and non-criminal sanctions are imposed, in addition to recovering the duties evaded, for those customs infringements referred to in Articles 3 and 6 that are considered serious in accordance with Article 8b, within the following limits:
(a)  where the customs infringement relates to specific goods, a pecuniary fine up to 30 % of the value of the goods;
(a)  where the customs infringement is linked to the duties evaded, a pecuniary fine of between 70% and 140 % of the duties evaded;
(aa)  where the customs infringement is linked not to the duties evaded but to the value of the goods, a pecuniary fine of between 15% and 30% of the value of the goods;
(b)  where the customs infringement is not related to specific goods, a pecuniary fine up to EUR 45 000.
(b)  where the customs infringement is linked neither to the duties evaded nor to the value of the goods, a pecuniary fine of between EUR 7 500 and EUR 45 000.
2.  When determining the level of sanctions to be imposed within the limits laid down in paragraph 1 of this Article, Member States shall ensure that all relevant circumstances listed in Article 8a and Article 8b(1) are taken into account.
Amendment 32
Proposal for a directive
Article 11 a (new)
Article 11a
Other non-criminal sanctions for serious infringements
1.  In addition to the sanctions listed in Article 11, and in accordance with the Code, Member States may impose the following non-pecuniary sanctions where a serious infringement is committed:
(a)  permanent or temporary confiscation of the goods;
(b)  suspension of an authorisation which has been granted.
2.  In accordance with the Code, Member States shall provide that decisions granting the status of authorised economic operator are to be revoked in the case of a serious or repeated infringement of customs legislation.
Amendment 33
Proposal for a directive
Article 11 b (new)
Article 11b
Review
1.  The amounts of the fines applicable pursuant to Articles 9 and 11 shall be reviewed by the Commission, together with the competent authorities of the Member States, five years from … [the date of entry into force of this Directive]. The aim of the review procedure shall be to ensure that the amounts of fines imposed under the Customs Union are more convergent, with a view to harmonising the operation thereof.
2.  Each year the Commission shall publish details of the sanctions imposed by the Member States for the customs infringements referred to in Articles 3 and 6.
3.  Member States shall ensure compliance with customs legislation within the meaning of point (2) of Article 5 of Regulation (EU) No 952/2013, as well as Regulation (EU) No 978/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council1.
_______________
1 Regulation (EU) No 978/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 October 2012 applying a scheme of generalised tariff preferences and repealing Council Regulation (EC) No 732/2008 (OJ L 303, 31.10.2012, p. 1).
Amendment 34
Proposal for a directive
Article 11 c (new)
Article 11c
Settlement
Member States shall ensure the possibility of a settlement as a procedure allowing the competent authorities to enter into an agreement with the person responsible for the infringement in order to settle the matter of a customs infringement as an alternative to the initiation or pursuit of judicial proceedings, in return for acceptance by that person of an immediately enforceable sanction.
However, once judicial proceedings have been instituted, the competent authorities may reach a settlement only with the agreement of the judicial authority.
The Commission shall provide guidelines on settlement procedures to ensure that a person responsible for an infringement is given the opportunity of a settlement in accordance with the principle of equal treatment and in a transparent manner, and that any settlement concluded includes publication of the outcome of the procedure.
Amendment 35
Proposal for a directive
Article 12
Article 12
deleted
Effective application of sanctions and exercise of powers to impose sanctions by competent authorities
Member States shall ensure that when determining the type and the level of sanctions for the customs infringements referred to in Articles 3 to 6, the competent authorities shall take into account all relevant circumstances, including, where appropriate:
(a)  the seriousness and the duration of the infringement;
(b)  the fact that the person responsible for the infringement is an authorized economic operator;
(c)  the amount of the evaded import or export duty;
(d)  the fact that the goods involved are subject to the prohibitions or restrictions referred to in the second sentence of Article 134(1) of the Code and in Article 267(3)(e) of the Code or pose a risk to public security;
(e)  the level of cooperation of the person responsible for the infringement with the competent authority;
(f)  previous infringements by the person responsible for the infringement.
Amendment 36
Proposal for a directive
Article 12 a (new)
Article 12a
Compliance
Member States shall ensure that guidelines and publications on how to comply and continue to comply with Union customs legislation are made available to interested parties in an easily accessible, understandable and up-to-date form.
Amendment 37
Proposal for a directive
Article 13
Article 13
Limitation
Article 13
Limitation
1.  Member States shall ensure that the limitation period for proceedings concerning a customs infringement referred to in Articles 3 to 6 is four years and starts to run on the day on which the customs infringement was committed.
1.  Member States shall ensure that the limitation period for initiating proceedings concerning a customs infringement referred to in Articles 3 and 6 is four years and that it starts to run on the day on which the customs infringement was committed.
2.  Member States shall ensure that, in the case of continuous or repeated customs infringements, the limitation period starts to run on the day on which the act or omission constituting the customs infringement ceases.
2.  Member States shall ensure that, in the case of continuous or repeated customs infringements, the limitation period starts to run on the day on which the act or omission constituting the customs infringement ceases.
3.  Member States shall ensure that the limitation period is interrupted by any act of the competent authority, notified to the person in question, relating to an investigation or legal proceedings concerning the same customs infringement. The limitation period shall start to run on the day of the interrupting act.
3.  Member States shall ensure that the limitation period is interrupted by any act of the competent authority, notified to the person in question, relating to an investigation or legal proceedings concerning the same customs infringement, or by an act on the part of the person responsible for the infringement. The limitation period shall continue to run on the day on which the interrupting act comes to an end.
4.  Member States shall ensure that the initiation or continuation of any proceedings concerning a customs infringement referred to in Articles 3 to 6 is precluded after the expiry of a period of eight years from the day referred to in paragraph 1 or 2.
4.  Without prejudice to Article 14(2), Member States shall ensure that any proceedings concerning a customs infringement referred to in Article 3 or 6 are time-barred, irrespective of any interruption of the limitation period as referred to in paragraph 3 of this Article, after the expiry of a period of eight years from the day referred to in paragraph 1 or 2 of this Article.
5.  Member States shall ensure that the limitation period for the enforcement of a decision imposing a sanction is three years. That period shall start to run on the day on which that decision becomes final.
5.  Member States shall ensure that the limitation period for the enforcement of a decision imposing a sanction is three years. That period shall start to run on the day on which that decision becomes final.
6.  Member States shall lay down the cases where the limitation periods set out in paragraphs 1, 4 and 5 are suspended.
6.  Member States shall lay down the cases where the limitation periods set out in paragraphs 1, 4 and 5 are suspended.
Amendment 38
Proposal for a directive
Article 16 – paragraph 1
Member States shall co-operate and exchange any information necessary for the proceedings concerning an act or omission constituting a customs infringement referred to in Articles 3 to 6, in particular in case more than one Member State has started proceedings against the same person in connection with the same facts.
Member States shall co-operate and exchange any information necessary for the proceedings concerning an act or omission constituting a customs infringement referred to in Articles 3 and 6, in particular in cases where more than one Member State has started proceedings against the same person in connection with the same facts. The objective of cooperation between Member States shall be to increase the effectiveness of customs checks on goods and to harmonise procedures within the Union.
Amendment 39
Proposal for a directive
Article 16 – paragraph 1 a (new)
The Commission shall supervise cooperation between Member States to create key performance indicators applicable to customs checks and sanctions, the dissemination of best practices and the coordination of training of customs officers.
Amendment 40
Proposal for a directive
Article 17
Article 17
Article 17
Seizure
Seizure
Member States shall ensure that the competent authorities have the possibility to temporarily seize any goods, means of transport and any other instrument used in committing the customs infringements referred to in Articles 3 to 6.
Member States shall ensure that the competent authorities have the possibility of temporarily seizing any goods, means of transport or other instrument used in committing the customs infringements referred to in Articles 3 and 6. If, following the imposition of a sanction, a Member State permanently confiscates such goods, it may opt to destroy, reuse or recycle the goods, as appropriate.
Amendment 41
Proposal for a directive
Article 18 – paragraph 1 a (new)
By 31 December 2017, the Commission shall submit a report on the other elements of the enforcement of Union customs legislation, such as supervision, control, and investigation, to the European Parliament and the Council, accompanied if appropriate by a legislative proposal to supplement this Directive.
Amendment 42
Proposal for a directive
Article 18 a (new)
Article 18a
Reporting by Member States
Member States shall send to the Commission statistics regarding infringements and showing which sanctions were imposed as a result of those infringements, in order to enable the Commission to assess the application of this Directive. The information thus provided shall be sent annually following the entry into force of this Directive. The Commission may use those data when revising this Directive in order to better approximate national sanctioning systems.

(1) The matter was referred back to the committee responsible for reconsideration pursuant to Rule 61(2), second subparagraph (A8-0239/2016).


Draft amending budget No 3/2016: Security of the Institutions
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European Parliament resolution of 25 October 2016 on the Council position on Draft amending budget No 3/2016 of the European Union for the financial year 2016: Security of the Institutions (12600/2016 – C8-0409/2016 – 2016/2121(BUD))
P8_TA(2016)0401A8-0295/2016

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 Draft amending budget No 3/2016, which the Commission adopted on 30 June 2016 (COM(2016)0310),

–  having regard to the position on Draft amending budget No 3/2016 which the Council adopted on 11 October 2016 and forwarded to Parliament on 11 October 2016 (12600/2016 – C8‑0409/2016),

–  having regard to the letter of the President of the Parliament to the President of the Commission of 7 June 2016, in particular to its paragraph 3,

–  having regard to its statement on the application of Point 27 of the Interinstitutional Agreement which is part of the joint conclusions reached in the framework of the conciliation process for the 2016 budget on 14 November 2015,

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgets (A8-0295/2016),

A.  whereas recent terror attacks have led the Union institutions to review their security needs and to identify the need for additional resources already in 2016;

B.  whereas Draft amending budget No 3/2016 consequently proposes to reinforce the budget for security by a total amount of EUR 15,8 million in the European Schools, the European Parliament, the European Commission, the Court of Justice, the European Court of Auditors, the European Economic and Social Committee, the Committee of the Regions and the European External Action Service;

C.  whereas, in particular, Draft amending budget No 3/2016 aims to create 35 additional permanent posts for the recruitment of additional security agents in the European Parliament; whereas such posts should be maintained in the 2017 budget and exempt from the 5 % staff reduction target, as they correspond to a new activity; whereas Parliament fully respects its statement on the 5 % staff reduction annexed to the joint conclusions on the 2016 budget;

1.  Takes note of Draft amending budget No 3/2016, as submitted by the Commission;

2.  Approves the Council position on Draft amending budget No 3/2016;

3.  Instructs its President to declare that Amending budget No 3/2016 has been definitively adopted and arrange for its publication in the Official Journal of the European Union;

4.  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.


EU strategy towards Iran after the nuclear agreement
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European Parliament resolution of 25 October 2016 on the EU strategy towards Iran after the nuclear agreement (2015/2274(INI))
P8_TA(2016)0402A8-0286/2016

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the joint statement made by the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (VP/HR), Federica Mogherini, and the Iranian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mohammad Javad Zarif, on 16 April 2016 in Tehran,

–  having regard to UN Security Council resolution 2231 (2015) adopted on 20 July 2015,

–  having regard to the Council conclusions on the agreement on Iran’s nuclear programme of 20 July 2015,

–  having regard to its previous resolutions on Iran, in particular those of 10 March 2011 on the EU’s approach towards Iran(1), 14 June 2012 on the situation of ethnic minorities in Iran(2), 17 November 2011 on Iran – recent cases of human rights violations(3), and of 3 April 2014 on the EU strategy towards Iran(4),

–  having regard to the EU Strategic Framework and Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy; having regard to the EU Annual Reports on Human Rights,

–  having regard to its previous resolutions on the EU Annual Reports on Human Rights,

–  having regard to its resolution of 8 October 2015 on the death penalty(5),

–  having regard to the report of the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran of 10 March 2016, to his recent statements of 20 May and 8 June 2016 expressing concern on imprisonments of human rights defenders and the recent wave of incitement of hatred of the Baha’i community, and to the report of the UN Secretary-General of 3 March 2016 on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran,

–  having regard to the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 70/173 on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran (A/RES/70/173), adopted on 17 December 2015,

–  having regard to the statement by the VP/HR Federica Mogherini on the execution of a juvenile offender in Iran of 14 October 2015 and on the condemnation of Iranian human rights defender Narges Mohammadi of 20 May 2016,

–  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 International Trade (A8-0286/2016),

A.  whereas following the Iran Nuclear Deal and internal political developments in Iran, there is now an opportunity for reforms in the country and for improvement of its relations with the European Union;

EU-Iran relations

Political dialogue

1.  Believes that the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), otherwise known as the Iran Nuclear Deal, was a notable achievement for multilateral diplomacy, and for European diplomacy in particular, which should not only make a substantial improvement in EU-Iran relations possible but also help to promote stability across the whole region; believes all sides are now responsible for ensuring its strict and full implementation; welcomes the establishment of the Joint Commission comprised of representatives of Iran and the E3/EU+3 (China, France, Germany, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and the United States, with the VP/HR); fully supports the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy in her role as Coordinator of the Joint Commission established under the JCPOA, and believes that strict and full implementation of the JCPOA continues to be of utmost importance;

2.  Welcomes the visit to Iran, on 16 April 2016, of VP/HR Mogherini together with seven European commissioners as an important milestone towards setting an ambitious agenda for bilateral EU-Iran relations in areas of mutual interest; notes that several Commission statements and EU delegations to Iran – the latest of which comprised the Vice-President/High Representative and seven Commissioners – have focused on trade and economic ties;

3.  Recalls that the Council’s decision to lift all nuclear-related sanctions against the Islamic Republic of Iran as a result of implementation of its commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan Of Action allows a reengagement with Iran and will create opportunities and benefits for both sides, by providing the potential to reopen the Iranian market for European businesses; recalls that Iran has a large, relatively highly educated and young population, has one of the most diverse GDP compositions in the region, needs investment and is a potential market for high-quality European goods;

4.  Welcomes openness in the relations with Iran; points out that the development of EU‑Iran relations should advance hand in hand with the implementation of the nuclear agreement/JCPOA; recalls that under the terms of the agreement a failure in its implementation by Iran can lead to the reintroduction of sanctions; encourages a renewed relationship between the EU and its Member States, and Iran, with both sides working closely on bilateral and multilateral issues to ensure a more stable region and effective implementation of the nuclear deal; believes that EU-Iran relations should be developed through multi-layered dialogue involving political, diplomatic, economic, academic, technical, and people-to-people contacts that include civil society actors, NGOs and human rights defenders; supports the opening of EU‑Iran relations for the mutual benefit of both parties, based on a realistic assessment of common interests and differences, with a view to encouraging step-by-step expansion of cooperation in a climate of confidence-building, first and foremost for the benefit of the peoples of Iran and the EU; supports, in this regard, the European Union’s commitment to a renewed engagement with Iran based on ‘a dialogue of the four Cs’: a dialogue that is comprehensive in scope; cooperative in the fields where Iran and the EU have mutual interests; critical, open and frank in areas where Iran and the EU disagree but are looking for common ground; and, overall, constructive in tone and practice;

5.  Welcomes the institutional changes made within the European External Action Service (EEAS) to reflect the results of the JCPOA, in particular the establishment of an Iran Task Force in the EEAS with the objective of coordinating the different strands of action of all Iran-related issues; welcomes the steps taken by the EEAS for the establishment of an EU Delegation in Tehran, as called for in previous EP resolutions, as it will allow the EU to work with the Iranian authorities to enable better public knowledge within the country about the EU itself, to counter misunderstandings and to build a growing cooperation between the EU and Iran; emphasises, in this regard, that trade and investment are EU competences, and that the establishment of an EU Delegation in Tehran would facilitate EU-Iran cooperation in the fields of trade, education, culture, human rights and environmental sustainability, and strongly contributing to the fulfilment of the expectations of both sides; underlines that Euronews Farsi should in the future also be an important media bridge between the European Union and Persian-speaking audiences;

6.  Recalls that the EU and Iran have decided to face issues of common concern in a constructive manner; calls for an EU strategy for re-engagement with Iran to be based, initially, on confidence-building measures in technical areas that would create positive precedents of EU-Iranian joint work and could pave the way for more meaningful long‑term cooperation;

7.  Insists on the importance of developing the parliamentary dimension of EU-Iran relations as part of the strategy for re-establishing mutual trust; reiterates its support, in this regard, for the proposal discussed between Parliament and the Majlis for an interparliamentary dialogue on counter-terrorism as a recognition of the common challenges of radicalisation in Iran, across the Middle East and within the EU itself; welcomes the renewed political dialogue between the EU and Iran, including on human rights; encourages the development of a human rights dialogue in the future to include representatives of the judiciary, security forces and civil society; recognises that while there is suspicion and mistrust on both sides, there is also a long history between many Member States and Iran and that Iran has the ambition to have good relations with the EU, which provides the potential for a relationship based on mutual trust and respect; recognises the complexities of Iran’s own internal politics and reiterates that the EU does not seek to interfere in internal political choices in this country or in any other, but seeks cooperation based on mutual respect for international standards and principles; believes that full normalisation of relations can only occur in parallel with continued implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) by means of regular and sustained dialogue, and that the immediate priority should be to broaden the scope of EU-Iran relations in areas where there is common agreement to do so; believes, however, that the ultimate aim must be the establishment of a partnership between Iran and the EU;

8.  Reiterates the European Union’s strong, principled and long-standing opposition to the death penalty in all cases and under all circumstances, and emphasises once again that the abolition of the death penalty is a key objective of EU human rights and foreign policy; remains highly critical of Iran’s frequent use of the death penalty; sees it as a major objective within the political dialogue to reduce the application of the death penalty; calls for an immediate moratorium on the carrying out of death sentences in Iran; notes that most of the executions are for drug-related offences; understands the challenge faced by Iran as one of the main drug transit routes in the world, with 86 % of worldwide seizures of opium taking place on its territory; nevertheless believes that engagement on death penalty concerns such as the use of the death penalty for drug-related offences and against individuals under the age of 18, both of which violate Iran’s voluntarily accepted international commitments under human rights and humanitarian law, could provide a common agenda for addressing this question; calls on the Members of the Iranian Parliament as a first step to revise Article 91 of the 2013 penal code in order to abolish the death penalty for people under 18 years of age; notes the presentation of a bill to the Iranian parliament that, if approved, would reduce the punishment for non-violent drug-related crimes from death to life imprisonment; notes that, if approved, the bill could significantly reduce the number of executions in Iran;

9.  Underlines the fact that eliminating the death penalty for drug-related offences would drastically reduce the number of executions (by up to 80 % according to Iranian estimates); calls for EU-Iran cooperation in the fight against the illegal drug trade as one way of addressing the issue of executions in the country, while respecting human rights norms; calls on the Commission to provide technical assistance and administrative capacity-building aimed at bolstering the rule of law in Iran, including by promoting reform of the justice system to improve accountability and alternatives to imprisonment and the death penalty; calls on the Commission to ensure that any technical or other assistance offered to Iran is not used to commit human rights violations;

Trade and economic matters

10.  Takes note of Iran’s stated objective of achieving a yearly growth rate of 8 %; believes that European investments are key to Iran’s achieving this goal; underlines the fact that the European Union does not stand in the way of permitted business activity with Iran, and will not stand in the way of international firms’ or financial institutions’ engaging with Iran, as long as they follow all applicable laws; stresses that for Iran to realise its economic potential, it will have to take steps to create a transparent economic environment conducive to international investment and take anti-corruption measures at all levels, particularly regarding compliance with the recommendations of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) addressing questions such as the cessation of financial flows to terrorist organisations; calls on the EU to fully support Iran’s efforts in this process via, in particular, support for work towards forging a bilateral investment treaty between the EU and Iran;

11.  Stresses that trade and renewed access to the global rule-based trading system is a potential way to break Iran’s isolation, and that trade could be an important tool for strengthening the political dialogue and stimulating cooperation among countries in the region, with a view to increasing regional development, employment and stability in the wider region;

12.  Notes that Iran is the second-largest economy in the Middle East, with an estimated nominal GDP of USD 397 billion in 2015; further notes that EU trade with Iran currently stands at about USD 8 billion and is expected to quadruple in the next two years; recalls that the EU used to be Iran’s main trading partner and believes it should aim at recovering that position; supports the expansion of the EU’s trading relationship with Iran, and calls for the EU to develop commercial, financial and economic cooperation with Iran, in the interest of improved living conditions and employment of the Iranian people and increased regional development; believes the expansion of trade and investment with Iran can, in the long term, contribute to promoting peace and stability in the wider region, if the EU can seek opportunities for regional investment schemes, for example in relation to energy and transport connectivity;

13.  Takes the view that, although many contracts have been signed with European firms, Iran is unable to honour its commitments because of a lack of liquidity, meaning that the process of opening up Iran is caught in a vicious circle;

14.  Notes that Iran is the world’s largest economy outside the WTO; supports Iran’s bid to join the WTO; notes that the current EU mandate for negotiations for a Trade and Cooperation Agreement with Iran is outdated; calls on the Commission to explore options for strengthening trade and investment ties with the aim of bringing Iran more closely into line with WTO rules and protecting European investment; stresses that a formal negotiation framework would allow the EU to use its full leverage as the largest integrated market and economic bloc and to create a forum for exchange and dialogue; calls on the EU to explore the possibility of restarting Iran’s accession talks with the World Trade Organisation, as membership of the WTO would bring a further liberalisation of Iran’s economy to drive growth, embed the country in the global rule‑based system, provide a mechanism to support necessary economic reforms with Iran and hold Iran to account on international commitments; calls on the Commission to use these negotiations as an opportunity to push for key labour rights reforms, based on the ILO’s core conventions; is concerned about the delay in the appointment of a chair of the WTO working group on Iran´s accession; calls on the Commission to fully exert its influence in order to remove this obstacle without delay and start the process of Iran´s accession to the WTO; believes that, to conclude the accession process, Iran should be removed from the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) Public Statement list;

15.  Considers the lack of freedom of expression online, the systemic surveillance and monitoring of internet traffic and the lack of digital freedoms to be an obstacle to trade with Iran, as well as a violation of people’s rights and freedoms; underlines the potential of an open and safe internet in Iran for the digital economy; reiterates its call for an effective European export control regime to prevent dual-use goods and technologies from being misused for human rights violations and against the EU;

16.  Stresses also the importance for Iran to develop economic and trade relations with regional players, with due regard for WTO rules, with a view to forming a cohesive economic and trading bloc; points out that the EU can provide its expertise and backing for developing and building this regional dialogue;

17.  Believes that the lifting of the nuclear-related economic and financial sanctions by the EU and the international community, as laid down in the JCPOA, is an important element in demonstrating that the EU has implemented its commitments towards Iran, as well as in providing evidence of the willingness to strengthen economic cooperation for the mutual economic benefit; notes, however, that while most economic and financial sanctions have now been lifted, some remain in place and are not affected by the nuclear deal; calls on the EU to engage EU-based business companies to ensure full transparency of their activities in Iran; calls for emphasis to be placed on the quality as well as the quantity of investments, and for an initiative to assess whether new investments uphold the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights similar to that undertaken when sanctions were lifted in Myanmar/Burma; notes that the effective implementation of Corporate Social Responsibility guidelines is crucial if increased trade relations between the EU and Iran are to have a positive effect on Iranian society as a whole;

18.  Recalls the legal uncertainty that US primary sanctions and the fact that transactions are conducted in dollars create for EU businesses willing to invest in Iran, which is undermining the delivery of expected economic benefits from the JCPOA to the Iranian people; insists on the need to address this and other financial matters, in line with FATF recommendations, to create the necessary clarity and legal certainty for EU businesses to operate in Iran; calls for a change in approach to trading with Iran; calls for the euro to be the currency for transactions with Iran so as to prevent the US authorities from imposing penalties as they have done in the past against some European banks; is in favour of a close dialogue with the United States in order to ensure the continuity of European trade and investment in Iran;

19.  Stresses, at the same time, that greater efforts to ensure an environment conducive to international investment is essential in order for Iran to realise its economic potential; calls, in this regard, on Iran to ensure transparency of its financial sector and to fight corruption and money laundering, in line with the recommendations of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF); welcomes the Iranian Government’s Action Plan on the recommendations of the FATF, as well as the technical meetings held on 12 July between EU and Iranian officials to undertake the necessary reforms in this regard;

20.  Welcomes the positive results already achieved by the JCPOA, such as the 43 % increase in trade between Iran and the EU during the first six months of 2016, compared with the same period of 2015, the fact that 30 Iranian banks have reconnected to SWIFT, and the JCPOA’s positive impact in reinforcing the trend of diminishing inflation and interest rates in Iran; welcomes the fact that a growing number of small European banks are now active in Iran, facilitating credit to SMEs; calls for special attention to be given to the role of SMEs from Europe and Iran in strengthening trade relations;

21.  Welcomes the fact the Iranian Government is keen to attract foreign investment, with foreign direct investment needed across all major economic sectors; notes that more than USD 1 trillion of investment in infrastructure is likely to be needed over the next 10 years, providing opportunities for European businesses, including in the energy, automotive and airline manufacturing sectors; welcomes the 180 trade delegations that have visited Tehran since the signature of the JCPOA, including those from 15 EU Member States, as a sign of growing interest in economic relations with Iran; calls on the EU and its Member States to explore the use of export credit guarantees to boost trade, project-financing and investment in Iran; supports the positive conclusion of the agreements between the Iranian Government and Airbus and Boeing, as a further confidence-building measure following the adoption of the JCPOA;

Sectoral cooperation

22.  Notes that Iran has the second-largest gas reserves in the world and the fourth‑largest oil reserves; believes that energy cooperation can play a significant role in diversifying the sources of energy supply to the EU and reducing Member States’ energy dependency on single suppliers, thereby contributing to the EU’s energy security; believes the lifting of economic sanctions has the potential to unlock significant spending on the oil and gas industry as well as other sectors of the economy, which would benefit from investment and access to new technology; calls for European companies to invest in the Iranian energy sector; calls, in particular, for the EU´s support in developing LNG technology in Iran; believes that investment in Iran must be fully in line with the EU’s long-term decarbonisation commitments;

23.  Notes that currently more than half of Iranian households’ energy needs are met by natural gas; stresses the great potential of developing renewable energies in Iran, a country with on average 300 days of sunshine per year, and an estimated production capacity equivalent to 13 times Iran’s total energy consumption; calls on the Commission to support the development of renewable energies in Iran as a contribution to diversifying the country’s energy mix;

24.  Calls on Iran to join the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) and for EU‑Iran energy cooperation to be consistently underpinned by the aim of improving environmental and social, as well as economic, benefits for the people of both Iran and the EU;

25.  Emphasises that Iran faces many environmental challenges, including water scarcity and land degradation, and that, while taking advantage of the full potential of business cooperation, the EU should engage with Iran to enhance the protection of the environment and promote environmentally sustainable development; calls for environmental cooperation in the areas of water conservation management, including supporting Iran in saving Lake Urmia, the fight against desertification, and earthquake monitoring, as well as addressing air pollution and waste management; expresses its particular concern in this context over the pollution levels of the Caspian Sea and urges active support by the EU and the Member States for the efforts by the Iranian Government to reverse its severe degradation; welcomes the fact that Iranian environmental NGOs have developed partnerships with other NGOs in the region; welcomes their participation in the IUCN and the Ramsar Convention; calls on the Commission to assist Iranian NGOs in the development of participatory management projects;

26.  Believes that regional dialogue and cooperation on environmental issues between Iran and its neighbours is indispensable to tackling such challenges as air pollution, water scarcity and desertification; stresses that the EU should facilitate such regional cooperation as an important confidence-building measure and build on the willingness of regional actors to benefit from European expertise in this field;

27.  Takes note of studies stating that nuclear energy might not be competitive in Iran because of low reserves of uranium and the cost of extracting it; calls, nevertheless, on the Commission to explore the potential for civilian nuclear cooperation with Iran, in line with the commitment of the JCPOA, and to encourage Iran to sign the Convention on Nuclear Safety; welcomes the proposal by some Iranian officials on establishing a regional dialogue on safety and security of civil nuclear programmes;

28.  Stresses the potential for cooperation in the area of aviation safety, providing technical assistance and access to the necessary components for Iranian companies to be removed from the European black list;

29.  Takes note of the fact that Iran hosts 3 million Afghan nationals, of whom only 950 000 have formal legal status in Iran as refugees, making Iran one of the major refugee-hosting countries; welcomes the additional EUR 6,5 million of EU funding to support Iran in the education and health care of the Afghan population in the country; stresses the need to take concrete measures that safeguard the human rights of Afghan migrants and Afghan refugees in Iran, including their right to due process and equality before the law; believes that EU-Iran cooperation on refugee management can enhance mutual understanding, promote improved respect for international law and the human rights of asylum seekers and refugees themselves, as well as contributing to conflict resolution with a view to reducing the causes of current and future refugee movements; believes that EU-Iran cooperation on refugee management would improve the wellbeing of refugees in Iran and prevent human trafficking; believes that EU-Iran cooperation should also include a comprehensive dialogue on migration, especially on policy and legislative approaches and priorities in relation to regular and irregular migration, asylum seekers and refugees, at both the national and the regional level;

30.  Recognises that, with more than 60 % of the population estimated to be under 30 years old, the young, educated and technologically advanced population in Iran and the vibrancy of its society can provide particular opportunities for advancing people-to-people contacts with the EU, based on principles of reciprocity and mutual respect; believes that youth exchange programmes are among the most successful activities in bringing societies and cultures closer together; welcomes therefore the increase in Erasmus Mundus students coming from Iran to European universities as a way to combat misperceptions and stereotypes; calls for increased cooperation in the field of education, research and innovation via increased exchanges of students and researchers, including cooperation between universities, in the fields, inter alia, of environment, renewable energies, justice, human rights and good governance; calls on the Commission to increase the budget for Erasmus Mundus students from Iran; welcomes the workshops that recently took place in Tehran University to raise awareness of the potential benefits that Iranian Universities can draw from participating in Horizon 2020; calls on the Iranian Government to appoint a Horizon 2020 national coordinator to provide technical assistance and advice to Iranian universities on applying for Horizon 2020 projects; calls on the Commission to study the possibility of improved facilitation for Iranian academics and researchers to study and undergo training in European universities; calls for the establishment of an EU programme to bring together researchers and students from Iran, GCC countries and Europe to study the experience and lessons learned from regional integration in Europe;

31.  Expresses grave concern over the arrest of EU-Iranian dual-nationals upon their entering Iran, and stresses that these arrests hinder the possibilities for people-to-people contacts; calls on the Iranian authorities to allow the Iranian diaspora in Europe to safely travel to their country of birth;

Regional security

32.  Underlines the important influence that the various peoples and cultures of Iran have exerted over thousands of years, including on Europe; notes that because of its geostrategic location, the size of its population and economy, its oil and natural gas reserves and its influence in the region, Iran is a major player in the Middle East and the Gulf region; stresses that Iranian strategic interests are best served by restored regional stability, and that their pursuit does not and should not be in competition with other major players in the region;

33.  Believes that the nuclear deal opens the possibility for cooperation in resolving the region’s security crisis; believes that Iran can and should play a stabilisation role in the region; believes that the whole region can benefit from a normalisation of relations with Iran; takes the view that Iran’s status as a major regional player should lead it to play a stabilising role in the region; points out that the review of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP), put forward on 18 November 2015, includes plans to involve third countries that are neighbours of the EU’s neighbourhood partner countries in the context of extended cooperation frameworks; urges, therefore, that thematic frameworks be set up to offer cooperation between the Union, the southern neighbourhood partner countries and key regional players such as Iran on regional issues such as security, energy and the management of refugees;

34.  Calls on all the states of the region, in particular Saudi Arabia and Iran, to refrain from hostile rhetoric fuelling conflicts, action and support for hostile armed groups in the region, including the military wing of Hezbollah and Al-Nusra; expresses concern about growing militarisation in the wider region and supports efforts towards greater arms control, non-proliferation and countering terrorism, while recognising legitimate defence concerns, but within a context of seeking to promote full respect for sovereignty of all the countries in the region itself; expresses concern at the development of Iran’s ballistic missile tests, which, despite not constituting a breach of the JCPOA, are inconsistent with the spirit of UN Security Council Resolution 2231 (2015);

35.  Believes EU-Iran political dialogue should call on Iran as well as other major players in the region to play a constructive role in solving the political crises in Iraq, Yemen, Syria, Lebanon and Afghanistan, on the basis of respect for international law and the sovereignty of these countries; calls for a model of EU diplomacy based on political priorities rather than religious identities and on the principle of ensuring respect, safety and security for peoples in all countries in the Middle East, including Israel and the Palestinian people, with the aim of fostering a more stable and harmonious Middle East; considers EU-Iran cooperation in countering terrorism and violent extremism in the region to be an important part of the political dialogue;

36.  Believes that there can be no solution to conflicts in the Middle East, North Africa and the Gulf region without all players being present at the table; welcomes, therefore, Iran’s engagement in the Syrian peace talks via its participation in the International Syria Support Group (ISSG); regrets the fact, however, that Iranian input has to date not led to a marked improvement in the situation, and calls for it to contribute at least to further facilitating the delivery of humanitarian aid to increase protection of the civilian population from attacks and to continuously seeking a long‑term solution to the conflict; notes in this context that the Assad regime in Syria has become increasingly dependent on Iran for its own survival and therefore calls on the Iranian authorities to use their leverage to bring the Syrian conflict to a peaceful conclusion;

37.  Welcomes Iran’s readiness to support the current efforts to bring stability to Iraq, urges it to play a meaningful role in ending sectarian violence, and calls for additional efforts to bring all the militias operating in the country under the authority of the Iraqi Government in order to be inclusive of all interests; stresses that the EU and Iran face common enemies in the shape of ISIS/Da’esh, Al-Qaeda, Al-Nusra and similar UNSC-designated terrorist organisations, which are inspired by an extremist perversion of Islam; welcomes Iran’s contribution to the fight against ISIS/Da’esh, including its early support for the Kurdish Regional Government in Erbil, and recognises its decisive contribution in Iraq, which halted ISIS/Da’esh’s advance and recovered territories that had been subject to jihadist terrorism; is concerned, however, at repeated reports of the release of Al-Qaeda cadres; notes the agreement between Iran and Australia to share intelligence on the fight against ISIS/Da’esh;

38.  Believes that regional rivalries are an underlying factor in conflicts in several countries in the region; is very concerned at the rise of sectarian violence in the region and emphasises the need for sustained and comprehensive EU diplomatic engagement in order to address the underlying dynamics of the conflict with long‑term support for ethno-sectarian reconciliation; notes with concern the worsening struggle between Iran and Saudi Arabia for political and religious influence, and warns of its implications for conflict resolution and security in the Middle East and beyond; believes that a policy of rapprochement between Iran and Saudi Arabia, and their constructive cooperation, is essential to defusing regional tensions, as a path towards finding ways of ending the armed conflicts in Iraq, Syria and Yemen, and the resulting migration flows, and in order to address the root causes of terrorism and extremism, which are a threat to the region as well as to the European Union and beyond; calls for active EU diplomacy to de-escalate tensions between Tehran and Riyadh, including confidence-building, track II diplomacy and de-escalation measures aimed at the resumption of Saudi-Iranian diplomatic relations, as a first step in the normalisation of their relations; calls on the EU to work with the US and Russia to that end and, in particular, to support the development of a new regional security infrastructure that takes into account Iran’s and Saudi Arabia’s threat perceptions and legitimate security concerns, and provides security guarantees to both Iran and the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council; stresses that cooperation on maritime security in the Persian Gulf, including the signing of a charter on free navigation, could be a first confidence-building measure in developing regional trust and cooperation;

39.  Strongly condemns the Iranian regime’s repeated calls for the destruction of Israel and the regime’s policy of denying the Holocaust;

Socio-economic issues, rule of law, democracy and human rights

40.  Believes that Iran’s revolutionary legacy and its constitution as an Islamic Republic, as well as the major differences between Iran and the EU as regards politico-institutional systems, must not be an impediment to openness and a frank and direct dialogue and to finding common ground on matters related to democracy, the rule of law and human rights; calls on the Islamic Republic to enlarge the space for political pluralism; while underlining that the Majlis is pro-reform and pro-Europe, believes that the results of the elections to the Parliament and Assembly of Experts in February 2016 reflect the will of the Iranian people, offer an opportunity for further engagement with the European Union and its Member States, which should lead to constructive relations, as well as the possibility of internal economic, political and social reforms; calls on Iran to fully allow free and fair elections according to international standards;

41.  Notes that Iran has opened up because it needs help in order to satisfy the needs of its citizens and to keep young and well-educated people in the country, which is important for its stability;

42.  Notes with concern that Iran has the highest level of death-penalty executions per capita in the world; stresses that eliminating the death penalty for drug-related offences would dramatically decrease the number of executions; welcomes, in this regard, the possibility that the newly-elected Majlis is considering legislation to exclude some drug-related offences from the list of crimes punishable with the death penalty;

43.  Notes the fact that the adoption of the 2013 Islamic Penal Code gives greater discretion to judges and that Iran’s ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child prohibits child executions and allows juvenile offenders sentenced to death prior to 2013 to seek retrial; calls on Iran to ensure that this prohibition is fully implemented and that all relevant offenders are made aware of this right; calls on Iran to declare a moratorium on the death penalty;

44.  Further encourages Iran to cooperate fully with all UN human rights mechanisms and to work towards the application of the recommendations set forth in that context, including the Universal Periodic Review, by enabling international human rights organisations to carry out their missions; this development will raise the profile of Iran in European public opinion; highlights the fact that the Iranian Government has increased its engagement with UN special procedures through dialogue; calls on the Government of Iran to address the substantive concerns highlighted in the reports of the UN Special Rapporteur and the UN Secretary-General on the situation of human rights in Iran, as well as the specific calls to action found in resolutions of the UN General Assembly;

45.  Calls on the EEAS and the Commission to support the creation of an environment allowing for proper and independent functioning of civil society organisations; stresses the importance of upholding the EU human rights guidelines, including on human rights defenders, in the context of EU Iran relations;

46.  Calls on Iran to respect, protect and fulfil its commitments under the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the International Covenant on Political and Civil Rights, the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights by respecting the rights to freedom of expression both online and offline, of opinion, of association and peaceful assembly, of thought, conscience, religion or belief and by guaranteeing in law and in practice the enjoyment by its citizens of individual, social and political rights without discrimination or persecution on grounds of sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national, ethnic or social origin, gender, sexual orientation or other status, as provided for in these instruments; points out that this includes a basic right to equality before the law, as well as the right of equal access to education, health care and professional opportunities;

47.  Welcomes the reforms carried out under the new Code of Criminal Procedure, but expresses serious concerns that the Code does not fully guarantee international due process safeguards; calls on Iran to undertake a review of the 2014 Code of Criminal Procedure to ensure the inclusion of fair trial guarantees; calls on Iran to review and amend the law in order to ensure that statements elicited as a result of torture, ill‑treatment or other forms of coercion are excluded as evidence in criminal proceedings, and that all allegations of torture and other ill-treatment brought to the authorities’ attention are automatically investigated;

48.  Calls for the release of all political prisoners; calls on Iran to free imprisoned EU citizens who have been detained or convicted under a judicial process that did not meet international standards, including: 58-year-old Nazak Afshar, held since March 2016, 76-year-old Kamal Foroughi, held since May 2011, 65-year-old Homa Hoodfar, held since June 2016, and 37-year-old Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, held since April 2016;

49.  Recognises the existence of a wide variety of faiths and beliefs in Iran; notes that some religious minorities and their basic religious freedoms are formally protected by the constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran; is, however, concerned that the number of individuals imprisoned from religious minority communities or because of their beliefs has increased; calls on the Iranian authorities to ensure that the rights of religious and ethnic minorities are fully respected and protected in law and that religious freedom is extended;

50.  Notes the advances made by Iranian women in the fields of education, science and research, exemplified by the fact that the majority of students in Iranian universities are female; encourages the EU and its Member States to continue to raise issues relating to gender equality in bilateral engagement with the Iranian authorities; calls for full gender equality through measures to eliminate the existing legal and practical discrimination against women and to ensure women’s equal participation in the labour market and in all aspects of economic, cultural, social and political life; welcomes attempts to draft a bill ‘on the Protection of Women against Violence’ and hopes that the newly elected Parliament will consider legislation that fully criminalises violence against women, including domestic violence and marital rape;

51.  Welcomes President Rohani’s campaign promise to present a charter for citizens’ rights and his statements on promoting the rights of ethnic minorities; believes the charter should build upon and comply fully with Iran’s international human rights obligations; underlines the importance of respecting the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary in providing the necessary legal certainty required for foreign direct investments to take place, but first and foremost in the interests of the people of Iran themselves; calls on the judiciary to respect fair trial and due process and to grant suspects access to a lawyer; calls on the EEAS and the Commission to work together with the Iranian authorities in areas such as judicial reform and reform of the prison system, including prison conditions, government accountability, respect for the rule of law, freedom of speech, citizens’ universal human rights and fundamental freedoms, and the fight against corruption;

o
o   o

52.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the government and parliament of Iran, the Council, the Commission, the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, and the EEAS.

(1) OJ C 199 E, 7.7.2012, p. 163.
(2) OJ C 332 E, 15.11.2013, p. 102.
(3) OJ C 153 E, 31.5.2013, p. 157.
(4) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2014)0339.
(5) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0348.


Fight against corruption and follow-up of the CRIM resolution
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European Parliament resolution of 25 October 2016 on the fight against corruption and follow-up of the CRIM resolution (2015/2110(INI))
P8_TA(2016)0403A8-0284/2016

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to Article 3 of the Treaty on European Union, to Article 67 and Articles 82-89 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, and to the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, in particular Articles 5, 6, 8, 17, 32, 38 and 41, Articles 47-50 and Article 52 thereof,

–  having regard to the JHA Council conclusions of 16 June 2015 on the Renewed European Union Internal Security Strategy 2015-2020,

–  having regard to the European Council conclusions of 25-26 June 2015 concerning security,

–  having regard to the relevant UN conventions, in particular the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organised Crime and the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC),

–  having regard to the Council of Europe criminal and civil law conventions on corruption, opened for signature in Strasbourg on 27 January 1999 and 4 November 1999, and to resolutions (98) 7 and (99) 5, adopted by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe on 5 May 1998 and 1 May 1999 respectively, establishing the Group of States against Corruption (GRECO),

–  having regard to Recommendation CM/Rec(2014) 7 on the protection of whistle-blowers, adopted by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe on 30 April 2014,

–  having regard to the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions, opened for signature in Paris on 17 December 1997, to the recommendations set out therein and to the latest country‑specific monitoring reports,

–  having regard to Directive 2013/40/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 August 2013 on attacks against information systems and replacing Council Framework Decision 2005/222/JHA(1),

–  having regard to Directive 2014/42/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 3 April 2014 on the freezing and confiscation of instrumentalities and proceeds of crime in the European Union(2),

–  having regard to Directive 2014/41/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 3 April 2014 regarding the European Investigation Order in criminal matters(3),

–  having regard to Directive 2014/62/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 May 2014 on the protection of the euro and other currencies against counterfeiting by criminal law, and replacing Council Framework Decision 2000/383/JHA(4),

–  having regard to Directive (EU) 2015/849 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 May 2015 on the prevention of the use of the financial system for the purposes of money laundering or terrorist financing, amending Regulation (EU) No 648/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council, and repealing Directive 2005/60/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council and Commission Directive 2006/70/EC(5),

–  having regard to Directive 2008/99/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 19 November 2008 on the protection of the environment through criminal law(6),

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) 2015/847 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 May 2015 on information accompanying transfers of funds and repealing Regulation (EC) No 1781/2006(7),

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 513/2014 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 April 2014 establishing, as part of the Internal Security Fund, the instrument for financial support for police cooperation, preventing and combating crime, and crisis management and repealing Council Decision 2007/125/JHA(8),

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) 2015/2219 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 November 2015 on the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Training (CEPOL) and replacing and repealing Council Decision 2005/681/JHA(9),

–  having regard to Council Decision 2007/845/JHA of 6 December 2007 concerning cooperation between Asset Recovery Offices of the Member States in the field of tracing and identification of proceeds from, or other property related to, crime(10),

–  having regard to Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 1142/2014 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 October 2014 amending Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 966/2012 as regards the financing of European political parties(11),

–  having regard to Directive (EU) 2016/680 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 27 April 2016 on the protection of natural persons with regard to the processing of personal data by competent authorities for the purposes of the prevention, investigation, detection or prosecution of criminal offences or the execution of criminal penalties, and on the free movement of such data, and repealing Council Framework Decision 2008/977/JHA(12),

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) 2016/679 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 27 April 2016 on the protection of natural persons with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data, and repealing Directive 95/46/EC (General Data Protection Regulation)(13),

–  having regard to Directive (EU) 2016/343 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 9 March 2016 on the strengthening of certain aspects of the presumption of innocence and of the right to be present at the trial in criminal proceedings(14),

–  having regard to the proposal for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on the fight against fraud to the Union’s financial interests by means of criminal law (COM(2012)0363),

–  having regard to the proposal for a Council regulation on the establishment of the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (COM(2013)0534),

–  having regard to the judgment of the European Court of Justice in the Case C-105/14 (Taricco and others)(15), where the Court stated that the concept of ‘fraud’ as defined in Article 1 of the Convention on the Protection of the European Communities’ Financial Interests covers revenue derived from VAT,

–  having regard to the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the European Union Agency for Criminal Justice Cooperation (Eurojust) (COM(2013)0535),

–  having regard to its resolution of 29 April 2015 on the proposal for a Council regulation on the establishment of the European Public Prosecutor’s Office(16),

–  having regard to the proposal for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on combating terrorism and replacing Council Framework Decision 2002/475/JHA on combating terrorism (COM(2015)0625),

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) 2016/794 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 May 2016 on the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation (Europol) and replacing and repealing Council Decisions 2009/371/JHA, 2009/934/JHA, 2009/935/JHA, 2009/936/JHA and 2009/968/JHA(17),

–  having regard to the report from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament – EU Anti-Corruption Report, of 3 February 2014 (COM(2014)0038),

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

–  having regard to the Europol Serious and Organised Crime Threat Assessment (SOCTA) of March 2013 and the Internet Organised Crime Threat Assessment (IOCTA) of 30 September 2015,

–  having regard to its resolution of 9 July 2015 on the European Agenda on Security(18),

–  having regard to its resolution of 23 October 2013 on organised crime, corruption and money laundering: recommendations on action and initiatives to be taken (final report)(19),

–  having regard to the studies drawn up by the European Parliamentary Research Service on the cost of ‘non-Europe’ in the area of organised crime and corruption,

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs and the opinions of the Committee on Development and the Committee on Budgetary Control (A8-0284/2016),

A.  whereas organised crime is a global threat which therefore necessitates a common, coordinated response by the EU and its Member States;

B.  whereas we still do not fully understand the complex issue of organised crime and the danger arising from the infiltration of criminal associations into the social, economic, business, political and institutional fabric of the Member States;

C.  whereas organised criminal groups have shown a tendency and a strong ability to diversify their activities, adapting to different geographical areas and economic and social contexts and exploiting their weaknesses and vulnerabilities, simultaneously operating on different markets and taking advantage of the different laws in individual Member States to make their businesses prosper and to maximise profit;

D.  whereas criminal organisations have changed their modus operandi, availing themselves of the support of professionals, banks, civil servants and politicians who, although not members of the criminal organisation, support its activities at various levels;

E.  whereas criminal organisations have demonstrated a high degree of adaptability, including in using the benefits of the new technologies to their advantage;

F.  whereas the dangerous nature of the intimidatory power that can be exerted by the mere fact of belonging to an association is not a priority in comparison with combating ‘target crimes’ (the crimes that an association exists to commit), and whereas this has left a regulatory and operational gap at European level, facilitating transnational operations by organised criminal groups;

G.  whereas, besides the more obvious dangers to public policy and public security presented by the forms of violence which are typical of criminal organisations, organised crime causes equally serious problems in the form of penetration into the legal economy and associated conduct which corrupts public officials, with the consequent infiltration of institutions and the public administration;

H.  whereas the illegal proceeds of crimes committed by criminal organisations are widely laundered in the legal European economy; whereas such capital, once reinvested in the regular economy, constitutes a severe threat to free enterprise and competition, because it has a seriously distorting impact;

I.  whereas criminal groups gain access to politicians and administrators in order to tap the financial resources at the disposal of the public administration and to influence its activities with the connivance of politicians, officials and businesspeople; whereas their influence over politicians and administrators makes itself felt most of all in the sectors of public procurement and public works, public funding, disposal of scrap and waste, and direct contracts for the procurement of all types of goods and the management of services;

J.  whereas the primary goal of organised crime is profit; whereas law enforcement must therefore have the capacity to turn the spotlight on the financing of organised crime, often inherently linked to corruption, fraud, counterfeiting and smuggling;

K.  whereas whistle-blowers play a central role in the fight against corruption as they may reveal cases of fraud that would otherwise be kept secret; whereas whistleblowing is regarded as one of the most effective ways of halting wrongdoing and preventing it from occurring, or uncovering it if it has already taken place;

L.  whereas no European legislation should be interpreted as restricting whistleblowing activity;

M.  whereas organised crime, corruption and money laundering pose serious threats to the EU’s economy by significantly reducing the tax revenues of Member States and the EU as a whole, and to the accountability of public EU-funded projects, as criminal organisations operate in various sectors, many of which are subject to governmental control;

N.  whereas in 2014, 1 649 irregularities were reported as fraudulent and affecting the European budget to the tune of EUR 538,2 million, relating to both the expenditure side and the revenue side, but whereas there are no official data on what percentage of fraud is attributable to organised crime;

Introduction

1.  Reiterates the substance of, and recommendations set out in, its resolution of 23 October 2013 on organised crime, corruption and money laundering; reiterates in particular its call for the adoption of a European Action Plan to eradicate organised crime, corruption and money laundering, which in order to be effective should have adequate financial resources and qualified staff;

2.  Welcomes the 18-month programme of the EU Council for the Dutch, Slovak and Maltese Presidencies, which puts the comprehensive and integrated approach to organised crime high on its agenda; points out that the fight against fraud, corruption and money laundering must be a political priority for the EU institutions, and that police and judicial cooperation between Member States is therefore crucial;

3.  Wishes to focus its attention on specific areas requiring action as a matter of priority in the current circumstances;

Arranging for the correct transposition of existing rules, monitoring their application and assessing whether they are effective

4.  Points out that as part of the fight against organised crime, corruption and money laundering the Member States should transpose and apply existing EU and international instruments;

5.  Calls on the Commission to complete, as soon as possible, its assessment of the measures taken to transpose these instruments, to inform Parliament in full of the findings and, if necessary, to initiate infringement proceedings; calls on the Commission, in particular, to submit a report assessing the transposition of Council Framework Decision 2008/841/JHA on the fight against organised crime and Directive 2008/99/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 19 November 2008 on the protection of the environment through criminal law;

6.  Calls on the Member States properly to transpose the European Parliament and Council directive on the European Investigation Order in criminal matters, an instrument with a key role to play in strengthening police and judicial cooperation in the EU;

7.  Encourages the Member States to swiftly transpose the 4th Anti-Money Laundering Directive;

8.  Recommends that the EU become a member of GRECO; requests that the EU participate in the Open Government Partnership, fulfil its reporting obligations under the UN Convention against Corruption, to which it is party, and support technical assistance rendered by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) under the abovementioned UN Convention; urges the Commission to submit to Parliament as soon as possible a progress report on the preparations for EU membership of GRECO, including a survey of the legal challenges and possible solutions in this regard;

9.  Regrets that the Commission has not yet published its second Anti–Corruption Report, which was due at the beginning of 2016; calls on the Commission to submit it as soon as possible; reiterates that anti-corruption reports should not be limited to the situation in the Member States but should also include a section on the European Union Institutions; calls on the Commission, therefore, to find an appropriate way to monitor corruption in the EU Institutions, bodies and agencies;

10.  Calls on the Commission to consider the possibility of combining the various monitoring mechanisms at Union level, including the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism, the EU Anti–Corruption Report, the EU Justice Scoreboard, into a broader rule of law monitoring framework which could be applied to all the Member States and the European Union institutions, bodies and agencies; in this regard, considers that the European Union institutions should set an example by promoting the highest standards of transparency and ensure that dissuasive and effective sanctions exist for offenders; calls on the Commission to regulate lobbying and sanction conflicts of interest;

11.  Points out the need for a multidisciplinary approach to prevent and combat organised crime effectively; stresses in this regard the role of the European crime prevention network and the need to give it financial support;

12.  Recommends that a study be made by the Commission of the national bodies of law that are most advanced in terms of fighting organised crime and corruption, in order to develop European legislation which is effective and pioneering; calls on the Commission to draw up a study on the investigative practices employed in the Member States to combat organised crime, with particular reference to the use of tools such as telephone interception, environmental interception, search procedures, delayed arrest, delayed seizure, undercover operations and controlled and supervised delivery operations;

13.  Calls for the Member States to invest more heavily in fostering a culture of legality, particularly considering that the first and most effective form of prevention consists in educating new generations of EU citizens, notably by promoting specific actions in schools;

Priorities and operational structure for the fight against organised crime and corruption

14.  Takes the view that the current EU political cycle concerning the fight against organised crime should place the emphasis on combating crimes of association (i.e. the fact of belonging to a criminal organisation), rather than simply combating so-called target crimes (i.e. crimes which such organisations are set up to commit); in particular, considers it necessary to make membership of a criminal organisation a criminal offence, separately from the commission of target crimes; reiterates that this political cycle should also include combating money laundering, corruption and human trafficking among its priorities within a genuine European Anti–Corruption Strategy;

15.  Calls for priorities to be set which are consistent with EU crime prevention policies and with economic, social, employment and education policies, and for Parliament to be fully involved in that process;

16.  Calls for the establishment of a specialist Europol unit to combat organised criminal groups which operate in several sectors at the same time; takes the view that the Member States should set up secure and effective mechanisms in the current institutional framework to ensure that investigations into organised crime are properly coordinated and that mutual trust among law enforcement authorities in the Member States is fostered;

A stronger legislative framework

17.  Calls on the Commission, on the basis of the assessment of the transposition and application of the existing rules, to propose legislation to fill any gaps that may exist in the fight against organised crime and corruption and to improve cross-border judicial cooperation; calls on it, in particular:

   (a) to revise existing legislation in order to introduce effective, proportionate and dissuasive penalties and to clarify the common definitions of crimes, including that of membership of a criminal organisation or association, which could be construed as being a structured group that has existed for a period of time and is made up of two or more persons who work together for the purpose of illegally obtaining, directly or indirectly, any form of financial and/or material gain, and which seriously undermines the social and economic cohesion of the EU and its Member States;
   (b) to submit a revised legislative proposal to combat environmental crimes in order to strengthen criminal law responses to unlawful waste incineration and to consider the unlawful disposal of ‘emerging pollutants’ as a criminal offence punishable with criminal penalties, in the same way as provided for in Directive 2008/99/EC;

18.  Calls on the Commission to draft minimum rules concerning the definition of offences and penalties; calls, in particular, for:

   (a) general definitions of ‘public official’, the crime of fraud and the crime of corruption, to be horizontally applicable; recalls that in the context of the negotiations on the PIF Directive, definitions of these terms are included but only for the purposes of that directive; notes that those negotiations are currently blocked in the Council, and calls for them to be resumed without delay;
   (b) a new legislative proposal on a particular type of criminal organisation whose participants take advantage of the intimidating power of the association and of the resulting conditions of submission and silence to commit offences, to manage or in any way control, either directly or indirectly, economic activities, concessions, authorisations, public contracts and public services, or to obtain unlawful profits or advantages for themselves or any other persons;
   (c) a legislative proposal instituting a dedicated European programme to protect witnesses and persons who cooperate with the judicial process by reporting criminal organisations and organisations as described in paragraph (b);
   (d) a legislative proposal defining and instituting common rules for the protection of whistleblowers; calls for such a proposal to be issued before the end of 2017;
   (e) additional legislative initiatives for strengthening the rights of suspects or accused persons in criminal proceedings, with respect inter alia to pre–trial detention, in order to ensure the right to fair trial, as recognised in the European Convention on Human Rights and the EU Charter on Fundamental Rights;
   (f) specific legislation to fight the export of radioactive materials and hazardous waste and the illegal trade in fauna and flora, given that, according to environmental protection associations and NGOs, both wildlife and forest crime and the trafficking and export of radioactive materials and hazardous waste to third countries play a serious role in financing organised crime;

More effective police and judicial cooperation at EU level

19.  Notes that the phenomena of organised crime, corruption and money laundering usually have a cross-border dimension that requires close cooperation between the competent national authorities and between national authorities and the relevant EU agencies;

20.  Considers that police and judicial cooperation through an exchange of information among national authorities is essential in order that effective measures are taken to fight corruption and organised crime;

21.  Calls on the Commission to launch specific actions to enhance European cooperation in the fight against organised crime, corruption and money laundering and to raise awareness of the human, social and economic damage inflicted by these activities;

22.  Deplores the fact that cross-border police and judicial cooperation involves excessively lengthy bureaucratic procedures that hamper its efficiency and jeopardise the effectiveness of the fight against organised crime, corruption and money laundering at EU level; calls on the Member States to strengthen, improve the efficiency of, and step up cross–border police and judicial cooperation and information-sharing between them and via Europol and Eurojust, and to ensure proper training and technical support, including through CEPOL and the European Judicial Training Network, to promote the mutual admissibility of evidence between Member States, and to ensure that greater use is made of joint investigation teams;

23.  Calls on the Member States to systematically input, make use of and exchange all data deemed necessary and relevant concerning persons convicted of an offence linked to organised crime held in existing European databases and to invite the EU agencies Europol and Eurojust to facilitate this exchange of information; in this respect, calls for infrastructure to be streamlined with a view to guaranteeing secure communication and effective use of all Europol’s existing instruments, while fully respecting European data protection legislation;

24.  Stresses the urgent need to create a more efficient system for communication and information exchange among judicial authorities within the EU, replacing the traditional instruments of mutual legal assistance in criminal matters, if necessary; asks the Commission to assess the need for legislative action in this field and to create a proper EU system of exchange of information among EU judicial authorities;

25.  Calls on the Member States to systematically exchange all PNR data deemed necessary and relevant concerning persons linked to organised crime;

Seizing the assets of criminal organisations and facilitating their re-use for social purposes

26.  Believes that employing a common method for seizing criminal organisations’ assets in the EU would be a dissuasive measure for criminals; calls on the Member States to swiftly transpose Directive 2014/42/EU on the confiscation of assets from crime; calls on the Commission to submit as soon as possible a legislative proposal to ensure mutual recognition of seizure and confiscation orders linked to national asset-protection measures;

27.  Calls on the Commission and Member States to strengthen EU measures on:

   (a) the tracing, freezing and confiscation of proceeds of crime by, inter alia, criminalising the transfer of ownership of capital or property in order to avoid freezing or confiscation measures and the acceptance of the ownership or availability of this capital, or by providing for confiscation in the absence of final conviction;
   (b) promoting the management of frozen and confiscated property and its re-use for social purposes and as compensation for families of victims and businesses adversely affected by loan-sharking and racketeering;
   (c) developing administrative, police and judicial cooperation to trace, seize and confiscate criminal assets throughout the Union, and improving National Asset Recovery Offices, which should be provided with adequate resources;

28.  Urges the Member States to increase cooperation and exchange of best practices in this area within the existing meeting platforms, such as the Advisory Committee for the Coordination of Fraud Prevention (COCOLAF) and others;

Preventing organised crime and corruption from infiltrating the legal economy

29.  Points out that corruption, in particular in the context of the award of public contracts or public-private partnerships, makes it easier for organised crime to infiltrate the legal economy;

30.  Calls for the implementation of a comprehensive ʽe-procurement’ system throughout the EU in order to reduce the risk of corruption in public procurement;

31.  Calls on the Member States and European Institutions to implement public procurement monitoring instruments, to draw up blacklists of any undertakings which have proven links with organised crime and/or engaged in corrupt practices and to bar them from entering into an economic relationship with a public authority and from benefiting from EU funds; calls on the Member States to create specialised structures at national level to detect criminal organisations and to exclude public tender entities that are implicated in corrupt practices or money laundering; highlights the fact that ‘blacklisting’ can be effective in dissuading companies from engaging in corrupt activities and provides a good incentive for them to improve and reinforce their internal integrity procedures; calls on the Member States to introduce anti-organised-crime certification for companies and calls for the relevant information to be exchanged automatically at EU level;

32.  Points out that 21 Member States have not yet transposed the package of public procurement directives; considers that rules on public procurement are essential in order to bring transparency and accountability to one of the areas most vulnerable to corruption;

33.  Points out that transparent accounting rules amenable to review must be ensured not just within central government, but also at regional and local level in all Member States;

34.  Is concerned about the recurring practice whereby criminal companies involved in money laundering submit below-cost bids in tender procedures for major projects; calls on the Commission to include an economic assessment of proposals in respect of companies that are awarded contracts and subcontractors;

35.  Points out that money laundering through complex company structures and their integration into legal economic activity can be a threat to the public order of the state; calls on the Member States to establish measures, without unduly burdening small and medium-sized enterprises, to increase the transparency of monetary transactions and to improve the traceability of transactions back to natural persons in order to trace criminal and terrorist funding (‘follow the moneyʼ principle); calls on the Member States to take measures which make it more difficult to create complex and dense structures of interlocked companies which by virtue of the fact that they tend to be non-transparent can be abused for the financing of criminal or terrorist activities and other serious crimes;

36.  Urges the Commission and Member States to require contractors to reveal their full corporate structure and beneficial owners before awarding any contracts to them so as to avoid supporting companies which engage in aggressive tax planning, tax fraud and evasion and corruption;

37.  Notes that the purchase of property in EU Member States is a way to launder the proceeds of criminal activity, whereby criminals shield their ultimate beneficial ownership through foreign shell companies; urges the Member States to ensure that any foreign company intending to hold a property title in its territory be held to the same standards of transparency required of companies incorporated in its jurisdiction;

38.  Points out that the financial crisis has added to the pressure on European governments; in view of the current economic challenges, calls for a greater guarantee of integrity and transparency in public spending;

39.  Urges the Member States to take the steps required to bring transparency to decisions concerning licensing and planning permission at regional and local level;

40.  Notes that Member States and the Commission have a legal duty to combat fraud in accordance with Article 325 TFEU and welcomes the inclusion of anti-fraud clauses in legislative proposals with financial impact;

41.  Is concerned about the increase in VAT-related fraud, in particular so-called carousel fraud; calls on all Member States to participate in all of EUROFISC’s fields of activity so as to facilitate the exchange of information to help combat this kind of fraud;

42.  Calls on the Member States to adopt specific legislation and to take appropriate measures to prevent and curb the activities of professionals, banks, civil servants and politicians at all levels, who, although not members of criminal organisations, support them at various levels; in this regard:

   (a) recommends that the Member States and European Institutions encourage the rotation of public officials to prevent corruption and infiltration by organised crime;
   (b) calls for mandatory rules establishing that persons who have been convicted or who have participated in organised crime, money laundering, corruption or other serious offences, offences against the public administration, associative offences or corruption should not be eligible to stand for election or to work in or for the public administration, including the European Union institutions, bodies and agencies;
   (c) calls for criminal penalties for managers and banks in proven cases in which large amounts of money have been laundered; calls on the Commission to draw up a proposal in order to ensure full transparency of bank flows not only for individuals, but also for legal entities and trusts;

43.  Considers it necessary to have Europe-wide rules whereby all sources of financing for political parties would be checked and monitored so as to ensure that they are legal;

44.  Regards it as essential to strengthen legislative provisions designed to guarantee greater transparency and traceability of financial flows, in particular the management of EU funds, including by means of prior investigations and a final audit to check that the funds have been properly used; calls on the Member States to submit national declarations on their control systems; calls on the Commission:

   (a) to correct payments in the case of irregularities by Member States in using EU funds;
   (b) to temporarily ban access to EU funding for institutions and companies that have been found guilty of fraudulently misusing EU funds;
   (c) to monitor closely the use of EU funds and to regularly report to the European Parliament;

45.  Takes the view that the Commission should impose the highest levels of integrity in the procurement processes for implementation of EU-funded projects; recalls that monitoring results of projects in cooperation with civil society organisations and holding local authorities accountable is essential in order to determine whether EU funds are used appropriately and that corruption is tackled;

46.  Points out that transparency is the most effective instrument for combating abuse and fraud; calls on the Commission to improve legislation in this regard, making it compulsory to publish data relating to all the beneficiaries of EU funding, including data on subcontracts;

47.  Calls on the Commission to take legislative action with the aim of simplifying bureaucratic administrative procedures and thus improving transparency and fighting corruption;

48.  Asks the European Commission to monitor and report to Parliament on the percentage of use of direct awarding of public contracts in Member States, as well as the legal circumstances where national administrations most make use of them;

49.  Recommends that Member States strive to ensure efficient transparency, monitoring and accountability mechanisms in their use of EU funds; given that the positive impact of EU funds relies on processes at national and EU level to ensure transparency, effective monitoring and accountability, consideration should be given as to how to make monitoring and evaluation ongoing processes and not only ex-post processes; believes the role of the Court of Auditors should be strengthened in that regard;

50.  Believes that qualitative and quantitative indicators should be established and that they should be comparable in order to measure the impact of EU funds and help to assess whether those funds have achieved their objectives, and that quantified data should be systematically collected and published;

European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO)

51.  Considers that the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) should constitute a central element in the fight against corruption in the European Union; reiterates its call for the establishment as soon as possible, with the participation of as many Member States as possible, of an EPPO that is efficient and independent from national governments and the EU institutions, and protected from political influence and pressure;

52.  Reiterates the importance of having clearly defined responsibilities and powers between national prosecutors and the future European Public Prosecutor’s Office, as well as with Eurojust and OLAF, in order to prevent any conflict of competencies; calls for the allocation of appropriate financial and human resources to the future European Public Prosecutor’s Office, in line with its tasks; considers that the EPPO should have competence to prosecute all PIF crimes including VAT fraud; in this context, calls on the Member States to abide by the judgment given by the European Court of Justice in the Taricco Case (C-105/14) and to unblock negotiations in the Council on the PIF Directive as soon as possible;

53.  Regrets that the ongoing negotiations in the Council are undermining the basic premise of an independent and effective EPPO;

54.  Calls on the Commission to assess the need to review the mandate of the future EPPO to endow it with powers, once established, to tackle organised crime;

Specific areas requiring action

Counterfeiting

55.  Condemns the increasingly widespread counterfeiting of goods, medicines and agri-food products in the EU, involving distribution networks managed by transnational organised crime; calls on the Commission and the Member States to take all necessary steps to prevent and combat counterfeiting of goods, medicines and agri-food products; calls on the Commission and the Member States to collect data systematically on fraud and counterfeiting cases in order to have information on their scale and incidence and to exchange best practices for identifying and combating these phenomena;

56.  Invites the Commission and Member States to consider other methods that aim to prevent and discourage food fraud, such as naming and shaming through a European register of convicted fraudulent food and medicines business operators;

57.  Calls for the extension of current traceability regimes and for the systematic implementation of the ʽstep-free’ traceability provided for in basic Regulation (EC) No 178/2002 covering food and feed, food-producing animals, and all substances destined for this purpose or which can be expected to be used in the production of food or feed;

Drug trafficking

58.  Points out that drug trafficking is a major money-spinner for criminal groups and must be countered by means of both law enforcement and prevention; calls on the Member States and the competent institutions to tackle the links between the drugs market and other criminal activities and the impact that they have on the legal economy and legal trade, as indicated by Europol and the EMCDDA in the report on the drugs market in 2016;

59.  Reminds the Commission that it should report on the progress made in implementing the EU Action Plan on Drugs (2013-2016); calls on the Commission to propose, on that basis, a new action plan for the period 2017-2020;

60.  Notes that an evaluation of new policies on soft drugs is a priority and considers that decriminalisation/legalisation strategies should be considered as a means of effectively combating criminal organisations; requests that the EU introduce this issue in both its internal and external policies by involving in the political debate all relevant EU and international agencies and the institutions of all countries involved;

Gambling and match-fixing

61.  Recalls that criminal organisations often use the legal and illegal gambling circuits and match–fixing to launder money; condemns criminal interests that revolve around these phenomena, and urges the Commission and the Member States to maintain or introduce legislation to combat and prevent them by making the rigging of sports events a criminal offence; calls on the Member States to cooperate transparently and effectively with sports organisations and to step up communication and cooperation with Eurojust and Europol to combat these phenomena;

Tax havens

62.  Points out that EUR 1 trillion is lost to tax evasion and avoidance every year in the EU; stresses that special attention should be given to tax havens and countries that pursue non-transparent or harmful tax prices, which represent a huge problem affecting each and every European citizen;

63.  Welcomes the international agreement within the G20 to apply a new global standard for greater tax transparency, in line with the high standard already applied by the EU; asks for its rapid implementation and effective monitoring of tax fraud and evasion at international level; welcomes the fact that, in February 2016, the Commission signed agreements involving the exchange of tax information with countries such as Andorra and Monaco and that in 2015 the Commission had already signed agreements with Switzerland, Liechtenstein and San Marino;

64.  Recalls the EU’s responsibility to combat tax rules that facilitate tax dodging by transnational corporations and individuals and to help third countries to repatriate illicit funds and prosecute perpetrators; stresses that the EU must promote the fight against tax havens, banking secrecy and money laundering, the lifting of excessive professional secrecy, the achievement of public country-by-country reporting of multinationals, and public registries of beneficial owners of companies as a priority in all relevant international fora; points out that tax havens are ideal places in which to collect and launder the proceeds of criminal activities, and as such insists on the need for a coordinated approach at EU level;

65.  Calls on the Commission to raise awareness of the serious effects of enabling corruption, to consider the possibility of a comprehensive plan to deter asset transfers to non-EU countries that serve as anonymity protectors for corrupt individuals, and to reconsider its economic and diplomatic ties with these countries;

Environmental crimes

66.  Expresses its concerns about the increase in illegal environment-related activities connected to or resulting from organised, mafia-style criminal activities, such as illegal waste trafficking and disposal, including that of toxic waste, and destruction of the natural heritage; recalls its recommendation to develop a common action plan to prevent and combat these forms of crime; points to the need to enforce existing rules on nature conservation and environmental protection, including by carrying out anti-crime inspections of contractors and subcontractors who are beneficiaries of contracts for major infrastructure projects financed by the EU budget;

67.  Calls on the Commission to monitor and evaluate the implementation of Directive 2008/99/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 19 November 2008 on the protection of the environment through criminal law to make sure that Member States punish with effective, proportionate and dissuasive criminal penalties any kind of unlawful behaviour having negative impacts on human health or the environment; invites, the EU Network for the Implementation and Enforcement of Environmental Law (IMPEL) to inform Parliament periodically on the actions of Member States in the implementation of Directive 2008/99/EC;

68.  Points out that organised crime uses construction companies that specialise in earth moving to launder money and illegally dispose of toxic substances that cause environmental pollution; calls on the Commission, in order to prevent such practices, to carry out anti-crime inspections of contractors and subcontractors who are beneficiaries of contracts for major infrastructure projects financed by the EU budget;

Cybercrime

69.  Recalls that cybercrime is used as a means of money laundering and counterfeiting; points out that it constitutes an important source of revenue for many criminal organisations and that Union legislation and cooperation between the Member States and with the Union agencies in this regard must be reinforced; notes with concern that, by means of the fraudulent use of the internet for illegal purposes such as promoting drug-trafficking and human trafficking, criminal organisations have succeeded in increasing the volume of their illicit trafficking;

Organised crime and terrorism

70.  Recalls that the growing convergence and nexus between organised crime and terrorism, as well as the links between criminal and terrorist organisations, constitute an increased threat to the Union; calls on the Member States to ensure that the financing and support of terrorism by means of organised crime is made punishable and that the interlinking of organised crime and terrorist activities and terrorist financing are more explicitly taken into account by the authorities of the Member States involved in criminal proceedings;

71.  Stresses that illicit trade in firearms, oil, drugs and wildlife, and smuggling of migrants, cigarettes and counterfeit goods, artworks and other cultural objects by organised crime networks have become very lucrative ways for terrorist groups to obtain funding; takes note of the presentation by the Commission of an action plan against illicit trafficking in, and use of, firearms and explosives; insists on the need to implement this action plan without delay; calls on the Member States to take the necessary measures, while avoiding undue administrative burdens for economic actors, to ensure that terrorist organisations and criminal networks may not benefit from any trading in goods;

72.  Points out that participation in criminal activities may be linked to terrorist crimes; recalls that, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), drug trafficking, the movement of illegal firearms, transnational organised crime and money laundering have become an integral part of terrorism; believes that if the fight against terrorism is to be effective, EU legislation on combating organised crime and money-laundering needs to be strengthened, also in view of the existing links between terrorist and organised criminal groups, based on mutual benefit;

Organised crime and human trafficking and smuggling

73.  Is concerned about the increasing professionalisation of people-smuggling and the related increase in profits for smuggling and trafficking networks as a result of the continuing flows of refugees to Europe; calls on the Commission and Member States to ensure that progress is made on international cooperation to combat trafficking in order to eradicate people-smuggling and minimise the influence of trafficking networks;

74.  Recalls that with respect to trafficking in human beings the European Union has established a specific legal and political framework to optimise cooperation and make trafficking a priority for bodies and agencies such as Europol and Eurojust; welcomes the conclusions of the first report on progress made in the fight against trafficking in human beings; calls on the Commission to draw up, on that basis and as rapidly as possible, a strategy for the post-2016 period;

75.  Condemns the way in which organised crime has infiltrated the bodies responsible for managing funds for the reception of migrants, and calls for specific measures to combat smuggling and trafficking in human beings, which is conducted by complex networks of criminal groups located in countries of origin, transit and destination of the victims;

76.  Emphasises the urgent need to address the severe labour exploitation of migrant workers in the Union; recognises that the lack of regular migration channels and barriers to access justice are among the root causes of human trafficking; notes also that the Employers’ Sanctions Directive includes important provisions to address labour exploitation of irregularly residing third-country nationals, but that such provisions are reliant on the existence of fair, effective and accessible complaint mechanisms at national level, and that such implementation remains minimal;

External dimension

77.  Calls on the EU to further support the consolidation of public administration and the adoption of adequate anti-corruption legislative frameworks in all countries, notably in post-conflict and transition countries where state institutions are weak; insists on the need to reinforce regional and specialised police and judicial networks in developing countries, always within parameters that guarantee appropriate standards of data protection and privacy, and to share the best practices and know-how of Europol, Eurojust and the European Judicial Network; stresses the need to improve regulation and law enforcement and to promote whistle-blower protection in order to hold offenders responsible for their crimes, and that a proper system to protect whistle-blowers should be established both inside and outside the EU; stresses in particular that a direct reporting mechanism is needed for citizens in countries receiving EU aid who draw attention to irregularities in EU-funded aid programmes;

78.  Notes with concern that the most relevant international conventions and initiatives aiming to fight corruption and IFFs fail to deliver concrete results at their implementation stage; recalls that the development of a foreign policy anti-corruption strategy is essential to combat corruption and financial crime effectively; calls on the EU to promote as a priority in its external policies the correct transposition and implementation of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organised Crime, and of all other relevant international instruments that aim to combat corruption and money laundering;

79.   Calls on the Commission to ensure through constant monitoring that EU aid does not directly or indirectly contribute to corruption; takes the view that aid assistance should be more aligned to the absorptive capacity of the host country and its general development needs in order to avoid massive waste and corruption of aid resources; calls on the EU to address corruption directly through programming and country strategy papers and to link budget support to clear anti-corruption objectives; to this end, stresses the need to set up robust mechanisms to monitor implementation; calls on the Commission to develop a strong, holistic and comprehensive strategy for corruption risk management in developing countries to prevent development aid from contributing to corruption, and to implement fully the anti-fraud strategy issued in 2013, in particular when implementing EU aid in all its modalities, including the EDF and trust funds, and when delegating development projects to third parties; notes with concern that the EU approach towards corruption in ACP countries provides little strategic guidance on strengthening the countries’ systems for preventing and controlling it; deems that more coordination is needed between the European External Action Service and the Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development in their approach to effectively curbing corruption in developing countries;

80.  Recalls the importance of coherence between the EU’s internal and external policies and points to the need to integrate the fight against organised crime into development and security strategies as a means to restore stability in developing countries;

81.  Stresses that respecting the right of people and governments to decide on their own economic, food and agriculture systems is the solution to combating criminal activities that cause hunger and poverty; urges the international community to actively confront financial speculation on foodstuffs, such as purchases at low prices in vast agricultural areas and land grabbing by large multinational agro companies, taking into consideration the detrimental impact on small producers;

82.  Calls on developing countries to increase transparency and accountability in resource contracts, companies’ financial reporting and auditing, and revenue collection and allocation, as part of their anti-corruption agenda;

83.  Calls on the EU to upgrade its support to help resource-rich countries implement the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) principles of greater transparency and accountability in the oil, gas and mining sectors; strongly encourages the establishment of an effective legal framework to support the proper application of the EITI by the companies involved in the supply chains of the oil, gas and mining sectors;

84.  Instructs its Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs to follow up on the recommendations made in its resolutions on the fight against corruption; calls on the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs to assess, within two years, the legislative actions taken by the Commission in this area, in the light of the above recommendations;

o
o   o

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

(1) OJ L 218, 14.8.2013, p. 8.
(2) OJ L 127, 29.4.2014, p. 39.
(3) OJ L 130, 1.5.2014, p. 1.
(4) OJ L 151, 21.5.2014, p. 1.
(5) OJ L 141, 5.6.2015, p. 73.
(6) OJ L 328, 6.12.2008, p. 28.
(7) OJ L 141, 5.6.2015, p. 1.
(8) OJ L 150, 20.5.2014, p. 93.
(9) OJ L 319, 4.12.2015, p. 1.
(10) OJ L 332, 18.12.2007, p. 103.
(11) OJ L 317, 4.11.2014, p. 28.
(12) OJ L 119, 4.5.2016, p. 89.
(13) OJ L 119, 4.5.2016, p. 1.
(14) OJ L 65, 11.3.2016, p. 1.
(15) ECLI:EU:C:2015:555.
(16) OJ C 346, 21.9.2016, p. 27.
(17) OJ L 135, 24.5.2016, p. 53.
(18) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0269.
(19) OJ C 208, 10.6.2016, p. 89.


Human rights and migration in third countries
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European Parliament resolution of 25 October 2016 on human rights and migration in third countries (2015/2316(INI))
P8_TA(2016)0404A8-0245/2016

The European Parliament,

—  having regard to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) of 1948, and in particular Article 13 thereof,

—  having regard to the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees of 1951 and the additional protocol thereto,

—  having regard to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of 1966 and to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights of 1966 and their additional protocols,

—  having regard to the Convention Relating to the Status of Stateless Persons of 1954 and the Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness of 1961,

—  having regard to the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination of 1966,

—  having regard to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women of 1979 and the additional protocol thereto,

—  having regard to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment of 1984 and the additional protocol thereto,

—  having regard to the Convention on the Rights of the Child of 1989 and the additional protocols thereto,

—  having regard to the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families of 1990,

—  having regard to the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance of 2006,

—  having regard to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities of 2006 and the additional protocol thereto,

—  having regard to the report of the United Nations Secretary-General of 3 August 2015 on the promotion and protection of human rights, including ways and means to promote the human rights of migrants,

—  having regard to UN General Assembly Resolution 69/167 of 18 December 2014 on the protection of migrants,

—  having regard to the work of various international human rights mechanisms, including the reports of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, François Crépeau, and of other Special Rapporteurs, the Universal Periodic Review and the work of other treaty bodies,

—  having regard to the work and reports of the Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights (OHCHR), including the Recommended Principles and Guidelines on Human Rights at International Borders and the Report on the Situation of Migrants in Transit,

—  having regard to the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights,

—   having regard to the Dhaka Principles for Migration with Dignity,

—   having regard to Article 21 of the Treaty on European Union,

—  having regard to the relevant reports of the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights,

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 18 November 2011 entitled ‘The Global Approach to Migration and Mobility’ (COM(2011)0743),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 13 May 2015 entitled ‘A European Agenda on Migration’ (COM(2015)0240),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 14 October 2015 entitled ‘Managing the refugee crisis: State of Play of the Implementation of the Priority Actions under the European Agenda on Migration’ (COM(2015)0510),

–  having regard to the Commission Decision of 20 October 2015 on the establishment of a European Union Emergency Trust Fund for stability and addressing root causes of irregular migration and displaced persons in Africa (C(2015)7293),

–  having regard to the Conclusions of the European Council meetings of 25 and 26 June 2015 and of 15 October 2015,

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

–  having regard to the Council Conclusions of 9 November 2015 on measures to handle the refugee and migration crisis,

–  having regard to the political declaration and action plan adopted at the Valletta summit on 11 and 12 November 2015,

–  having regard to its previous resolutions on migration-related issues, in particular those of 17 December 2014 on the situation in the Mediterranean and the need for a holistic EU approach to migration(1), of 29 April 2015 on the latest tragedies in the Mediterranean and EU migration and asylum policies(2), and of 12 April 2016 on the situation in the Mediterranean and the need of a holistic EU approach to migration(3),

–   having regard to its resolution of 9 September 2015 on empowering girls through education in the EU(4),

–   having regard to its resolution of 8 March 2016 on the situation of women refugees and asylum seekers in the EU(5),

–  having regard to its resolution of 5 July 2016 on the fight against trafficking in human beings in the EU’s external relations(6),

–  having regard to the Final Declaration of the Second Summit of Speakers of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Union for the Mediterranean on the topic of immigration, asylum and human rights in the Euro-Mediterranean Region, adopted on 11 May 2015(7),

–  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(8),

–  having regard to the resolution of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly of 9 December 2015 on migration, human rights and humanitarian refugees(9),

–  having regard to various reports by civil society organisations on the human rights situation of migrants,

–  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 (A8-0245/2016),

A.  whereas human rights are inherent to all human beings, without distinction;

B.   whereas migration is a multidimensional global phenomenon caused by a wide variety of factors, such as economic conditions (including changes in wealth distribution and regional and global economic integration), social and political conditions, the employment situation, the situation with regard to violence and security, the gradual deterioration of the environment and the growing severity of natural disasters, and whereas global interdependence is contributing to the growth and diversification of migratory movements; whereas this phenomenon must be addressed in a coherent, balanced manner, on the basis of a comprehensive approach which takes account of its human dimension, including the positive impact it has on demographic trends and economic development;

C.  whereas migratory routes are extremely complex and movements often occur within regions as well as between them, and whereas, according to the UN, international migration is on the rise, despite the global economic crisis; whereas currently nearly 244 million people are considered to be international migrants;

D.  whereas the rights set out in the UDHR and other international conventions are universal and indivisible;

E.  whereas migration is also a consequence of increasing globalisation and the interdependence of markets;

F.  whereas the different factors involved in migration prefigure its effects and make it essential to frame appropriate policies;

G.  whereas changes in migration flows, especially in times of crisis, have far-reaching economic, social, and political repercussions for migrants’ countries of origin and for their countries of destination;

H.  whereas it is essential to have effective ways of monitoring, and checking on, the entry and exit of foreign nationals, together with analyses and projections of the impact of migration, in order to provide the basis for drawing up migration management policies;

I.  whereas the factors behind migration are diverse and can be multidimensional, stemming from economic, environmental, cultural and political reasons and family or personal motivations; whereas a growing number of migrants are victims of enforced displacement and need special protection because they are fleeing, for example, the instability of states, conflicts and political or religious persecution;

J.  whereas the distinction between refugees, asylum seekers and migrants is becoming increasingly difficult to make, partly because many countries do not have appropriate legal and institutional instruments and frameworks;

K.  whereas the authorities and staff working in reception centres in transit and destination countries must be made aware of their responsibilities and be prepared to treat migrants and asylum seekers flexibly, in accordance with their individual circumstances;

L.  whereas migratory movements are now global and regional; whereas South-South migration flows, 80 % of which are between countries with a common border and very little difference in income, are now slightly higher in volume than South-North flows;

M.  whereas Europe has always been a region of destination but also of origin of migration; whereas, in addition to contemporary expatriate migration by members of the upper social classes, Europeans have also emigrated to escape economic hardship, conflict or political persecution; whereas the ongoing economic and financial crisis has led many Europeans to emigrate, including to emerging economies in the South;

N.  whereas women and children account for an ever greater proportion of migrants, and an even higher proportion of refugees; whereas more and more migrants and refugees are graduates, and whereas the ‘brain drain’ was already estimated to involve 59 million people in 2010; whereas Asia is the continent most affected, but Africa suffers the most because only 4 % of its population are graduates and 31 % of them migrate(10);

O.  whereas, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), conflicts and instability in some regions have caused a humanitarian crisis affecting 65 million refugees and displaced persons, particularly in developing countries;

P.  whereas the UNHCR estimates that there are at least 10 million stateless people;

Q.  whereas Article 13 of the UDHR states that everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each State and to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country;

R.  whereas cooperation and sharing of information and good practice among countries of origin, transit and arrival are essential in order to prevent and combat illegal migration and trafficking in human beings, serving as they do to identify common interests and concerns;

S.  whereas a holistic approach to migration should address the global challenges of development, world peace, human rights and climate change, with particular regard for the improvement of humanitarian conditions in countries of origin, so that local people can live in safer areas;

T.  whereas the rights of refugees are laid down in the Geneva Convention and the protocols thereto;

U.  whereas living conditions, including as regards health, are deteriorating in many refugee camps in the Middle East and Africa, and whereas the safety of refugees, particularly vulnerable people, and most of all women and minors, is often not guaranteed in the camps;

V.  whereas, according to the World Bank, remittance transfers from international migrants totalled more than USD 550 billion in 2013, of which USD 414 billion went to developing countries;

W.  whereas xenophobia, discrimination and violence against migrants, anti-migrant sentiment, hate speech and hate crimes have increased perceptibly in the ACP countries;

X.  whereas an appropriate, well organised, specific response to migration matters constitutes an opportunity for individuals and countries; whereas such a response must be underpinned by the principles of fighting poverty and promoting sustainable development and respect for the rights and dignity of migrants and refugees; whereas it must be based on close cooperation among countries of origin, transit and destination;

Y.  whereas migration is an important, dynamic factor in countering the demographic crisis and the percentage drop in the working-age population in some countries;

Z.   whereas the number of irregular migrants is hard to assess, making it difficult to establish indicators for their living and working conditions, even though it is they who are most in need of protection, as they are particularly vulnerable to being abused, exploited and denied the most basic of human rights;

AA.  whereas international migration can be used to remedy specific manpower shortages;

AB.  whereas migrants help to enhance diversity and the cultural richness of receiving countries; whereas if this is to happen, they must be fully integrated into their host societies, so that the latter can tap their economic, social and cultural potential; whereas political decision-makers must, as a matter of priority, inform the public about the economically, culturally and socially beneficial impact that migrants have on society, thereby forestalling xenophobic and discriminatory attitudes;

AC.  whereas proper reception and integration policies ensure that the impact on migrants of the traumatic events that many of them experience in their lives is not exacerbated or prolonged;

AD.  whereas sociocultural development is contingent on integration, and whereas this requires serious commitment on the part both of migrants, who have to be willing to adapt to their host society without necessarily giving up their native cultural identity, and of institutions and communities in host countries, which have to be prepared to receive migrants and meet their needs;

Challenges and risks in respecting the rights of migrants

1.  Expresses its solidarity with persons who are forced to leave their countries on account of conflicts, persecution, violations of human rights and extreme poverty, among other factors; expresses deep concern at the grave human rights violations faced by many migrants in numerous countries of transit or destination; stresses that migrants’ dignity and their human rights must be respected;

2.  Stresses that the EU and its Member States must lead by example in promoting and protecting the human rights of migrants, in particular within their own borders, in order to be credible when discussing migration and human rights in third countries;

3.  Recalls that the majority of the world’s refugees and migrants are being hosted by developing countries; recognises the efforts made by third countries in receiving migrants and refugees; stresses that the support systems of these countries face critical challenges which may jeopardise the protection of a growing displaced population;

4.  Recalls that ‘everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own’ and to ‘return to his own country’(11); emphasises that the social status and nationality of the person concerned should in no way impinge upon this right and that each individual has the right to take decisions concerning migration in a dignified way; calls on all governments to address the human rights protection gap which migrants continue to face; urges national governments and parliaments to do away with punitive legal rules which criminalise migration and to implement short-, medium- and long-term solutions in order to maintain the safety of migrants; condemns the cases involving the imposition of limitations or bans on departure from or return to certain states and the consequences of statelessness for access to rights;

5.   Notes that the growing number of refugees around the world is overshadowed by the even greater number of internally displaced persons; emphasises that the latter should not be discriminated against for the sole reason that they have had to seek safety without crossing international borders, and therefore stresses that displaced persons should have their rights, including access to health and education, upheld;

6.  Recalls the importance of identifying stateless persons in order to afford them the protections available under international law; in that connection, urges States to introduce statelessness determination procedures and share good practice, including with regard to legislation and ways of preventing new cases of childhood statelessness;

7.  Draws attention to the ongoing need for the EU to address statelessness as part of its external relations policy, particularly given that statelessness is a major cause of enforced displacement; recalls the commitment made in the EU Strategic Framework and Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy, published in 2012, to ‘develop a joint framework between Commission and EEAS for raising issues of statelessness and arbitrary detention of migrants with third countries’;

8.  Expresses concern at the arbitrary detention and ill-treatment of migrants and refugees, and recalls that detention must be used only in cases of absolute necessity, underpinned by the appropriate safeguards, including access to judicial remedy;

9.  Calls on States to recognise their obligations under international law with regard to asylum and migration and to enact national laws for the effective implementation of those obligations, also providing for the possibility of applying for international protection; calls for these laws to take into account the degree and the nature of the persecution and discrimination that migrants have suffered;

10.   Recalls that migrants have the right not to be sent to countries where they risk ill-treatment and torture; recalls that collective deportations and push back are prohibited under international law; expresses concern at the treatment of migrants who are forcibly returned to their countries of origin or to third countries without adequate follow-up of their situation, and calls, whatever the situation, for account to be taken of the difficulties that they encounter when they return to these countries;

11.  Proposes the introduction of reintegration programmes for migrants returning to their countries of origin;

12.   Stresses the importance of upholding the right of migrants, regardless of their status, to seek access to justice and to effective remedy without fear of being denounced to immigration enforcement authorities, detained and deported; is concerned that many countries lack mechanisms for monitoring procedures concerning violations of the rights of migrants and guarantees regarding the quality of the information and legal assistance provided to migrants; recommends that staff who come into contact with people seeking international protection should receive appropriate training so that they can take due account of the general, personal and gender-specific circumstances involved in asylum applications;

13.  Calls, further, on the Commission and the EEAS to enhance exchanges of good practice with third countries, particularly in providing training to aid workers in identifying more effectively the different characteristics, backgrounds and experiences of migrants, particularly the most vulnerable, in order to better protect and help those migrants in accordance with their needs;

14.  Emphasises that the concepts of safe countries and safe countries of origin should not preclude individual assessments of asylum applications; calls, irrespective of the circumstances, for migrants who need international protection to have their applications considered; insists that they must enjoy appropriate guarantees with regard to non-refoulement and have access to a complaints procedure;

15.  Draws attention to the physical and psychological violence suffered by migrants and to the need to recognise the specific types of violence and persecution to which migrant women and children are subjected, such as human trafficking, enforced disappearance, sexual abuse, genital mutilation, early or forced marriage, domestic violence, slavery, honour crimes and sexual discrimination; recalls the unprecedented and ever increasing number of victims of sexual violence and rape, including when used as a weapon of war;

16.  Expresses concern at the practice of recruiting children into armed groups; stresses the need to promote policies for their disarmament, rehabilitation and reintegration;

17.   Stresses that separation from family members, including when in detention, exposes women and children to greater risks;

18.  Recalls that unaccompanied women and girls, women heads of household, pregnant women, people with disabilities and the elderly are particularly vulnerable; stresses that girls fleeing conflict and persecution are at a heightened risk of rape, sexual and physical abuse, prostitution, early or forced marriage and early child-bearing, even once they have reached places deemed secure; calls, therefore, for them to be given special protection and assistance during their stay in reception camps, especially with regard to health conditions;

19.   Recommends that gender issues be incorporated into migration policies, including in the form of measures to prevent and punish trafficking and all other forms of violence targeting women and discrimination against them; urges that gender equality be fully realised, de jure and de facto, as a key element in preventing violence against women, with a view to empowering and emancipating them;

20.  Expresses concern at the numerous reports and testimonies highlighting the increase in violence against migrant children, including torture and detention, and even disappearance; emphasises that, in line with the opinion of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, detention of children solely on the grounds of their migration status or that of their parents is a violation of children’s rights and is never in their best interests;

21.  Recalls that migrant children are especially vulnerable, particularly when they are unaccompanied, and that they are entitled to international protection based on the best interests of the child, in accordance with the provisions of international law; stresses the need to include the issue of unaccompanied minors in development cooperation, promoting their integration in the countries in which they have settled, particularly through their access to education and medical care, by preventing the risks of violence, abuse, exploitation and negligence;

22.  Expresses concern at the difficulties encountered in registering children born outside their country of origin, which may increase the risk of their becoming stateless; calls, in that connection, for registration of their birth to be possible irrespective of the migration status of their parents;

23.  Urges the EU to cooperate closely with UNICEF, the UNHCR and all competent international institutions and organisations in order to do everything possible to increase capacities for protecting migrant children and their families, irrespective of their migration status, along migration routes, by funding appropriate programmes, particularly to provide education and medical care, making specific facilities and psychological support available for children, identifying family links and bringing together children who are unaccompanied or have become separated from their families, and applying the principles of non-discrimination, non-criminalisation, non-detention, non-refoulement, non-application of undue penalties, family reunification, physical and legal protection and the right to identity;

24.  Recalls that criminal networks are taking advantage of the lack of safe migration channels, regional instability and conflicts and the vulnerability of women, girls and children trying to flee, for the purposes of trafficking and sexual exploitation;

25.   Draws attention to the specific types of violence and the particular forms of persecution to which LGBTI migrants are subjected; calls for support for the establishment of specific socio-legal protection arrangements for LGBTI migrants and asylum seekers in order to ensure that their vulnerability is taken into account and that their applications for protection are considered rigorously, even upon appeal;

26.  Reiterates that economic, social and cultural rights, and in particular the rights to health, education and housing, are human rights which all migrants, and particularly children, should be able to enjoy regardless of their migration status;

27.   Is concerned about breaches of labour law and the exploitation of migrants; stresses the need to combat all forms of forced labour by migrants, and condemns in particular all forms of exploitation of children;

28.  Expresses concern at the discriminatory practices to which certain sociocultural, linguistic and religious minorities are too often exposed and which contribute to migrants’ unequal access to rights;

29.  Calls on host countries to safeguard migrant women’s right of access to sexual and reproductive health;

30.  Draws attention to the need to avoid creating separate districts for migrants, by promoting inclusion and the opportunity to take up all the social opportunities on offer;

31.  Considers that the right to education and the right to work help to make refugees self-sufficient and help to further their integration, as does the right to a family life and family reunification; insists on the importance of ensuring social protection for migrant workers and their families; notes that the effective integration of migrants must be underpinned by a rigorous assessment of the labour market and its future potential, better protection of migrant workers’ human rights and labour rights, and constant dialogue with labour market stakeholders;

32.   Recalls that learning the language of their host country can significantly improve migrants’ quality of life and their economic and cultural independence and also help them to obtain information about their rights in the host society; considers that the authorities of the host country should ensure that teaching is provided; recommends that migrants should be involved in all social and political decision-making processes;

33.  Considers that access to employment, training and independent status are key factors in the inclusion and empowerment of migrant women; calls for efforts to bring this about to be stepped up in the case of migrant women, who are for the most part under-represented, in order to overcome the greater obstacles they face to inclusion and empowerment;

34.  Recalls that host states must help to empower migrants, and in particular migrant women, by providing them with access to knowledge and the necessary social skills, above all those linked to professional and vocational training and language learning, as part of an approach geared to sociocultural inclusion;

35.  Considers that all workers should receive a contract in a language they understand and be protected against contract substitution; emphasises that bilateral agreements between countries of origin and destination should strengthen human rights protection;

36.  Considers that coherent and comprehensive gender-sensitive national migration policies should be established which address all stages of the migration process and that they should be coordinated across government and developed in widespread consultation with national human rights institutions, the private sector, employers’ and workers’ organisations, civil society and migrants themselves, and with the support of international organisations;

37.  Recalls that everybody is entitled to safe and fair working conditions which are fully consistent with the rights of workers, in accordance with international standards and instruments relating to human rights and the core ILO conventions;

38.   Emphasises that the precarious work in which migrants, and migrant women in particular, tend to be employed in host countries adds to their vulnerability; recalls that exploitation through work is often a consequence of trafficking or smuggling, but may also occur in the absence of these two factors; expresses, in that connection, concern at the impunity enjoyed by many employers in receiving countries even when they are responsible for breaches of international labour law standards in their treatment of migrant workers; expresses concern at the fact that in some countries labour laws allow practices which violate international standards; believes that any effort to eradicate labour exploitation of migrants must take the dual approach of effectively prosecuting employers who commit abuses while protecting the victims of such exploitation;

39.   Draws attention to the need to recognise the qualifications obtained by migrants in their countries of origin as a means of facilitating their independence and social inclusion in various aspects of society, particularly the labour market; stresses the need for migrants to be able to join organisations, including trade unions, which defend workers’ rights, and to recognise these structures;

40.  Encourages businesses to implement the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, in an effort to ensure that their operations do not have an adverse impact on human rights, to address any such impact when it occurs, and seek to prevent or mitigate any adverse human rights impact directly linked to their operations;

41.  Calls on the EU to continue its concerted diplomatic efforts with the US and other international partners to actively collaborate with third countries to address the urgent need for a common strategy to meet the current global migration challenge;

42.  Urges the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy to take whatever practical steps are necessary in order to secure an effective commitment from the third countries involved;

43.  Stresses the need for the EU to step up its foreign policies so as to bring peace and stability to those areas where war and conflict trigger enormous migration flows towards the EU;

44.  Recalls that the EU and its Member States have a duty to take positive action to eliminate the underlying causes of the crises which lead to these mass migration phenomena;

45.   Calls for humanitarian conditions in countries of origin and transit to be improved in order to allow the local population and refugees to live in safer areas;

46.  Urges warring parties to cease their attacks on civilians, to protect them and allow them to leave areas affected by violence safely or receive assistance from humanitarian organisations;

47.  Highlights the impact of ISIS and its evolution on the mass influx of legitimate asylum seekers and irregular migrants; acknowledges the crucial role of security and counter-terrorism policies in tackling the root causes of migration;

48.  Recalls the recent statement by the UNHCR that a large number of migrants are victims of terrorism and of serious human rights violations, and that these refugees should therefore be treated accordingly;

49.  Recalls that resettlement programmes under the auspices of the UNHCR are a useful tool for managing the orderly reception of persons in need of international protection; emphasises that, if resettlement is impossible, all States should be encouraged to establish and implement humanitarian admission programmes or at the very least to create conditions which enable refugees to remain close to their country of origin;

50.  Notes the growing financing needs and the persistent financing gap in respect of humanitarian aid provided to countries near Syria, which have led the World Food Programme (WFP) to take measures which include cutting food rations for refugees; calls on the UN member countries and on the EU and its Member States, at the very least, to honour their financial pledges; stresses the importance of focusing aid to refugees in those countries on providing basic foodstuffs, the safety of refugees and the enforcement of their fundamental rights, in particular access to healthcare and education, in close cooperation with the UNHCR, the WFP and the competent bodies;

51.  Recalls that migration and development are linked and that development cooperation in the fields of education, health, labour law, poverty reduction, human rights, democratisation and post-conflict reconstruction, as well as combating inequalities, the consequences of climate change and corruption, are key factors in preventing forced migration; notes that land and resource grabbing can have a major impact on humanitarian crises and that social, political and humanitarian crises may drive people to migrate; considers that migration is recognised globally as being a powerful tool for sustainable and inclusive development;

52.  Calls for the EU and the international community to identify specific measures that governments can take to increase the potential of legal migration as a development enabler; stresses that political leadership and strong advocacy are required, especially in destination countries, to combat xenophobia and to facilitate the social integration of migrants;

53.  Considers that migration has root causes (in particular of an economic, political, social and environmental nature); considers that development aid should address these root causes, by improving capacity-building, supporting conflict resolution and promoting respect for human rights; emphasises that these causes are linked to an increase in the number of conflicts and wars, human rights violations and a lack of good governance;

54.  Emphasises that migration governance should be based on regional and local cooperation, with the involvement of civil society;

A human rights-based approach

55.   Urges all actors involved in policy development and decision-making regarding asylum and migration to ensure that the definitions of migrants and refugees do not become merged; recalls the need to pay particular attention to refugees who are fleeing conflicts or persecution, and who therefore have the right to asylum as long as they cannot return to their countries of origin; recalls that the majority of refugees seek refuge in countries and regions which are neighbours of their country of origin; considers, therefore, that a holistic approach should be taken towards them in the context of the EU’s external policy;

56.  Calls on states to ratify all international treaties and conventions and to apply the standards applicable to migrants’ rights which are set out in a variety of legal instruments, including the main international human rights instruments and other instruments dealing with issues relevant to migration, such as the UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees of 1951 and its protocols and the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families; considers, in that connection, that the non-ratification of the latter by the EU Member States undermines EU human rights policies and its stated commitment to the indivisibility of these rights;

57.  Recalls that the opening of safe and legal migration channels is the best way of combating human trafficking and smuggling and that development strategies should recognise migration and mobility as motors for development, through remittances and investments, in both the host country and the country of origin; calls on the EU and the most highly developed third countries to work together to open up legal channels for migration and establish cooperation protocols between countries of origin and countries of destination in order to create effective temporary migration schemes, drawing inspiration from the good practices employed in certain countries, in particular in order to foster the reunification of families and mobility, including for economic reasons, and to do so for all skill levels, including for less skilled migrants, in order to combat illegal work;

58.   Welcomes the specific provisions concerning migrants, asylum seekers and displaced and stateless persons in the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR) for 2014-2020; calls on the Commission to continue to treat the protection and promotion of the rights of migrants and refugees as a priority in the mid-term review of the human rights instrument in 2017-2018; calls on the EEAS and the Member States to honour their commitments under the EU Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy adopted in July 2015 and to include and reinforce the human rights guarantees in all migration-related agreements, processes and programmes with third countries; considers that all agreements and programmes should likewise be accompanied by an independent human rights evaluation and should be evaluated on a regular basis; recommends implementing communication and awareness-raising campaigns to improve the way in which people view migrants and concerning the opportunities that migrants can bring to society in both countries of origin and host countries; recalls, in that connection, that the EIDHR should continue to finance projects to boost the fight against racism, discrimination, xenophobia and other forms of intolerance, including religious intolerance, and to adopt programmes;

59.  Calls on the Union to adopt specific guidelines on the rights of migrants to complement its guidelines on human rights and, in that context, to carry out impact assessments and establish arrangements for monitoring policies on development and migration in order to ensure that public policies on migrants are effective; emphasises the importance of mainstreaming respect for human rights in all migration-related policies in the EU’s external relations, with particular reference to foreign affairs, development and humanitarian aid; draws attention to the need for all the EU’s external policies, in particular policies on trade, development, the environment and migration, to respect human rights, to pursue the objectives set out in Article 21 of the Treaty on European Union and to implement the human rights clauses in all EU agreements, including trade agreements; calls, in that connection, for all cooperation with third countries on migration to involve an assessment of those countries’ systems for helping migrants and their ability and willingness to tackle human trafficking and smuggling; calls on the EU and its Member States to liaise more closely with countries such as Canada, which are implementing effective resettlement policies; stresses that no policy in this area should undermine development aid policies;

60.  Calls for freedom of movement and the right to education, health and work to be included as priorities in funding instruments for EU external cooperation, and calls for developing countries to be given support in adopting long-term policies which respect these rights; calls on the Commission and the EEAS to pay particular attention to the rights of migrants in the context of EU Human Rights Country Strategies;

61.  Wishes to see the rights of migrants and refugees included as a separate item on the agenda for dialogues between the EU and the relevant third countries, and for European funding for projects to protect people in vulnerable situations, NGOs, human rights defenders, journalists and lawyers active in defence of migrants’ rights to be made a priority;

62.  Calls on countries, in this context, to allow independent observers, NGOs and national and international institutions and organisations and the media access to all places where migrants are received and detained; encourages EU delegations and Member States’ embassies, as well as visiting delegations from the European Parliament, to monitor the situation of migrants in these places and to engage with national authorities on this matter in order to guarantee respect for migrants’ rights and transparency for the public;

63.  States that human traffickers sell a distorted picture to many refugees; reiterates the importance of combating human trafficking, cutting the money flow and dismantling the networks, as this will have a positive effect on the human rights situation of refugees from third countries seeking to flee war and terror;

64.  Advocates close cooperation on the protection of migrants’ rights with the competent international organisations and other institutions and organisations active in migration management, particularly in the countries most affected, in order to help them to receive migrants in a dignified manner which respects their rights;

65.  Emphasises the need to strengthen cooperation with these organisations in order to prevent smuggling of migrants and human trafficking by enhancing training, capacity-building actions and information-sharing mechanisms, including an evaluation of the impact of the Immigration Liaison Officers networks and ratification of the Palermo Protocols in this field in order to promote cooperation in criminal matters, identify suspects and assist judicial investigations in partnership with national authorities;

66.  Calls for the European Parliament to be more closely involved in setting up a cross-cutting approach to human rights in migration policies and for these issues to be covered in the EU’s annual reports on human rights and democracy in the world, including in the country-by-country section; calls for more stringent parliamentary oversight of the working arrangements concluded with third countries and other external cooperation activities of the EU’s relevant agencies; calls for better account to be taken of the expert reports drawn up and the data collected by the European Asylum Support Office on refugees’ countries of origin;

67.  Acknowledges the role of civil society in and its contribution to political dialogue; stresses the importance of consulting civil society in the framework of the EU’s external policies, paying particular attention to full participation, transparency and proper dissemination of information on all migration-related policies and processes; stresses the need to increase the involvement of women’s organisations in conflict resolution at decision-making levels and the need for refugee, displaced and migrant women to be appropriately involved in decisions that affect them; calls on the Commission and the EEAS to build up the capacity of the national human rights institutions in third countries so that they can step up their efforts to protect the rights of migrants and combat inhuman and degrading treatment and hate speech and hate crimes directed against migrants, as set out in the Belgrade Declaration adopted by 32 national human rights ombudsmen and institutions;

68.  Urges host countries to assign greater importance to migrant associations, which should be directly involved in community development programmes;

69.  Calls on the Member States to honour their pledge to earmark 0,7 % of their gross national income (GNI) to development aid; calls for this aid not to be made conditional on cooperation with regard to migration, and calls on the EU and its Member States not to make funding for the reception of refugees part of development aid;

70.  Stresses that development assistance programmes should not be used solely for migration and border-management purposes; urges that EU development projects aimed at migrants and asylum-seekers should implement the ‘leave no one behind’ principle, by focusing on access to basic social services, in particular health care and education, and by paying special attention to vulnerable persons and groups, such as women, children, minorities and indigenous peoples, LGBT persons and persons with disabilities;

71.  Notes the positive aspects of migration for the development of migrants’ countries of origin, such as their remittances, which may represent an important contribution to family and community development; calls on States to minimise remittance-transfer costs;

72.  Calls for the EU and its Member States to ensure efficient and effective Policy Coherence for Development and to prioritise respect for human rights in their migration policy in relation to third countries;

73.  Urges the EU to integrate the migration dimension into the post-Cotonou framework which will define future relations between the EU and ACP countries; notes that greater involvement on the part of third countries in the design and negotiation of GAMM instruments would enhance the ‘partnership’ nature of these instruments, improving their local ownership and their effectiveness;

74.  Calls for debt relief for impoverished countries, in order to help them develop public policies that guarantee respect for human rights; insists that sustainable debt solutions, including standards for responsible lending and borrowing, must be facilitated by a multilateral legal framework for sovereign debt restructuring processes, with a view to alleviating the debt burden and avoiding unsustainable debt in order to create the conditions for the protection of human rights in the long term;

75.  Welcomes the inclusion of migration in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), namely in SDG 10, which sets the framework for global development policy until 2030; recalls that states have committed themselves to cooperating internationally to ‘ensure safe, orderly and regular migration involving full respect for human rights and the humane treatment of migrants regardless of migration status, of refugees and of displaced persons’; notes that enforced displacement is not only a humanitarian issue, but also a development challenge, and that there should therefore be better coordination between humanitarian and developmental actors; considers that the implementation of the SDGs is an opportunity to reinforce a rights-based approach to asylum and migration policies and to mainstream migration into development strategies; calls on the international community to adopt measurable indicators of the SDGs on migration, and to collect and publish disaggregated data on migrants’ access to decent work, health care and education, especially in developing destination countries, in order to improve migration governance;

76.  Stresses the need for the EU and its Member States to support the LDCs in the context of the fight against climate change, in order to prevent a worsening of poverty in those countries and an increase in the number of environmentally displaced persons;

77.  Calls on the Union to participate actively in the debate on the term ‘climate refugee’ and in the possible formulation of a definition in international law;

78.  Highlights the need for more effective coordination and for an assessment of the implementation, impact and continuity of the various financial instruments available at EU level for third countries in the field of migration, which currently cover areas such as migration policy, international development cooperation, external policy, the neighbourhood policy and humanitarian support, and which mobilised more than EUR 1 billion for more than 400 projects between 2004 and 2014;

79.  Stresses the impact EU cooperation instruments have in the field of immigration, asylum and human rights protection; notes the creation of the Emergency Trust Fund for stability and addressing root causes of irregular migration and displaced persons in Africa; calls for assessment and monitoring of the use made of this fund and of similar agreements, such as the EU-Turkey declaration and the Khartoum and Rabat processes;

80.  Stresses that agreements with third countries must focus support on resolving the social, economic and political crises that lead to migration;

81.  Highlights the importance of increased EU involvement with third countries in the field of Global Approach to Migration and Mobility (GAMM) instruments in order to enhance the partnership nature of these instruments, their effectiveness and their contribution to resolving migratory challenges;

82.  Considers it necessary to improve the coherence of the GAMM, integrate rigorous human rights, monitoring and oversight mechanisms into all external agreements and prioritise projects in countries of origin and transit that will improve the human rights of migrants;

83.  Encourages the EU to sign mobility partnerships with its closest partners;

84.   Calls on the Commission and the Member States only to consider return policies which involve sending migrants back to countries where they can be received safely and without being endangered, in a manner entirely consistent with their fundamental and procedural rights, and, in that connection, calls for priority to be given to voluntary, not forced, returns; stresses the need for agreements concluded in the framework of these policies with third countries to include safeguard clauses that ensure that migrants returning to their countries do not face violations of their human rights or persecution; recognises the importance of periodic evaluations in order to rule out the conclusion of agreements of this kind with countries that fail to abide by international human rights standards;

85.  Calls for action to target smuggling networks and stop trafficking in human beings; calls for safe and legal routes, including through humanitarian corridors, to be established for people seeking international protection; calls for permanent and mandatory resettlement programmes to be established and humanitarian visas granted to people fleeing conflict zones, including to enable them to enter a third country to seek asylum; calls for legal migration routes to be established and for general rules to be drawn up governing entry and stay, to enable migrants to work and seek employment;

86.  Insists on the need to create and better implement protection frameworks for migrants in distress and in transit and at the borders of the EU;

87.  Welcomes operations against smugglers and traffickers and supports the reinforcement of the management of the Union’s external borders; emphasises the need for rapid action and a long-term comprehensive and concrete roadmap that involves cooperation on the part of third countries to combat organised criminal networks of migrant smugglers;

88.  Stresses that migrant smuggling is linked to human trafficking and is a serious violation of human rights; recalls that missions such as EURONAVFOR MED are an effective way of tackling migrant smuggling; calls on the EU to continue and step up missions of this kind;

89.   Regards it as necessary to consider ways of strengthening border policy and security and of improving the future role of Frontex and EASO; calls for solidarity and commitment to be shown in the form of sufficient contributions to these agencies’ budgets and operations;

90.  Emphasises the need to improve the functioning of ‘hot spots’ and entry points at the EU’s external borders;

91.  Calls on the EU to integrate data protection into agreements on sharing and exchanging information at borders and on migration routes;

92.  Calls on the EU and host countries to create effective tools for the coordination and alignment of information flows and the compilation, cross-referencing and analysis of data;

o
o   o

93.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, the United Nations, the Council of Europe, the African Union, the Organization of American States and the League of Arab States.

(1) OJ C 294, 12.8.2016, p. 18.
(2) OJ C 346, 21.9.2016, p. 47.
(3) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0102.
(4) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0312.
(5) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0073.
(6) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0300.
(7) http://apum.parlement.ma/Future_Meetings/Docs/IISummit-of-Speakers_Lisbon-11MAY2015/DeclaracaoCimeira_EN.pdf
(8) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0470.
(9) OJ C 179, 18.5.2016, p. 40.
(10) UN International Migration Report 2015, available at: http://www.un.org/en/development/desa/population/migration/publications/migrationreport/docs/MigrationReport2015_Highlights.pdf
(11) Article 13(2) of the UDHR.


Corporate liability for serious human rights abuses in third countries
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European Parliament resolution of 25 October 2016 on corporate liability for serious human rights abuses in third countries (2015/2315(INI))
P8_TA(2016)0405A8-0243/2016

The European Parliament,

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

–  having regard to the European Convention on Human Rights,

–  having regard to Article 47 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union,

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

–  having regard to Articles 81, 82, 83, 114, 208 and 352 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU),

–  having regard to the EU Strategic Framework on Human Rights and Democracy as adopted by the Foreign Affairs Council on 25 June 2012(1), and to the Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy 2015-2019 adopted by the Council on 20 July 2015(2),

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

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

–  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(3),

–  having regard to its resolution of 12 March 2015 on the Annual Report on Human Rights and Democracy in the World 2013 and the European Union’s policy on the matter(4),

–  having regard to its resolution of 8 October 2013 on corruption in the public and private sectors: the impact on human rights in third countries(5),

–  having regard to its resolution of 6 February 2013 on corporate social responsibility: accountable, transparent and responsible business behaviour and sustainable growth(6),

–  having regard to its resolution of 6 February 2013 on corporate social responsibility: promoting society’s interests and a route to sustainable and inclusive recovery(7),

–  having regard to UN Human Rights Council Resolution 26/9 of 26 June 2014, in which the UNHRC decided to establish an open-ended intergovernmental working group with the aim of drawing up an international legally binding instrument on transnational corporations and other business enterprises with respect to human rights,

–  having regard to the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs), the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD) revised Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) Tripartite Declaration of Principles Concerning Multinational Enterprises and Social Policy, the Framework of the International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC), the ten principles of the United Nations Global Compact, and the International Organisation for Standardisation’s ISO 26000 standard on ‘Guidance on Social Responsibility’ and the European Office of Crafts, Trades and Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises for Standardisation’s User Guide for European SMEs on ISO 26000 – Guidance on Social Responsibility,

–  having regard to the ‘Realising Long-term Value for Companies and Investors’ project, currently being implemented under the UN Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) initiative and the UN Global Compact,

–  having regard to the Council of Europe Recommendation to Member States on human rights and business adopted on 2 March 2016,

–  having regard to the Commission communication on a renewed EU strategy 2011-2014 (COM(2011)0681) and to the Commission Green Paper entitled ‘Promoting a European framework for corporate social responsibility’ (COM(2001)0366) and the definition of corporate social responsibility (CSR) contained therein, as well as its follow-up communications in 2006 and in 2011,

–  having regard to the extraterritorial obligations of states arising from the Maastricht principles,

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Foreign Affairs (A8-0243/2016),

A.  whereas the EU is founded on the values of respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities; and whereas its action on the international scene (including its trade policy) ‘shall be guided by these principles’;

B.  whereas the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights apply to all states and to all business enterprises, whether transnational or other, regardless of their size, sector, location, ownership and structure, although effective control and sanction mechanisms remain a challenge in the worldwide implementation of the UNGPs; whereas in its resolutions of 6 February 2013 the European Parliament drew attention to the special features of SMEs that CSR policies should take proper account of and to the need for a flexible CSR approach adapted to their potential;

C.  whereas the UN Global Compact(8), comprising ten principles, asks corporations to embrace, support and enact, within their sphere of influence, a set of core values in the areas of human rights, labour standards, the environment and the fight against corruption, making a commitment to those values and integrating them into their business operations on a voluntary basis;

D.  whereas corporations are one of the major players in economic globalisation, financial services and international trade and are required to comply with all applicable laws and international treaties in force and to respect human rights; whereas trade and human rights may reinforce each other, and whereas the business community, while obliged to respect human rights, may also have an important role to play in offering positive incentives in terms of promoting human rights, democracy, environmental standards and corporate responsibility;

E.  whereas, however, these business enterprises may at times cause or contribute to human rights violations and affect the rights of vulnerable groups such as minorities, indigenous people, women and children or contribute to environmental problems;

F.  whereas human rights violations by corporations are a worldwide concern, and whereas all corporations in the world have a duty to respect human rights, while at the same time European institutions have a primary duty to regulate liability of corporations which have a connection with the EU;

G.  whereas many internationally active corporations, whether European or not, operating in third countries, have substantial business operations in Europe or are based there, and/or may be owned by European corporations, have assets or goods in Europe, or control other corporations in Europe, or receive investments or use the financial services of institutions in Europe; whereas globalisation and the development of technology have led corporations to outsource activities to local suppliers or use goods or services in their supply and production chains that have been produced or provided by other corporations in many different countries and therefore jurisdictions, with different legal systems, levels of human rights protections and standards, and different levels of enforcement;

H.  whereas protecting human rights must be a priority for the Member States and the Union itself; whereas the EU has played a leading role in negotiating and implementing a number of initiatives for global responsibility which go hand in hand with the promotion and respect of international standards; whereas human rights breaches require effective remedies; whereas a fairer and more effective remedies system is needed under both domestic and international law to deal with human rights violations committed by business enterprises;

I.  whereas a global holistic approach to corporate liability for human rights abuses is still lacking; whereas victims of human rights abuses involving international companies face multiple obstacles to accessing judicial remedies, including procedural obstacles on admissibility and disclosure of evidence, often prohibitive litigation costs, and an absence of clear liability standards for corporate involvement in human rights abuses;

Corporations and human rights

1.  Notes that increasing globalisation and internationalisation of business activities and supply chains will make the role that corporations play in ensuring respect for human rights more important and create a situation in which international norms, rules and cooperation are crucial to avoid human rights abuses in third countries; is deeply concerned by cases of human rights violations committed in third countries, including as a result of some EU corporations and business enterprises management decisions, as well as by individuals, non-state actors and states alike; reminds corporate actors of their responsibility to respect human rights throughout their global operations, regardless of where their users are located and independently of whether the host state meets its own human rights obligations;

2.  Notes that the rapid advances in technology require urgent attention and a proper legal framework;

3.  Reaffirms the urgent need to act in a continuous, effective and coherent manner at all levels, including national, European and international, in order to effectively address human rights abuses by international corporations when they appear, and to address the legal problems resulting from the extra-territorial dimension of companies and of their conduct, and the related uncertainty as to where the liability for human rights violations lies;

The international framework

4.  Welcomes the adoption of the UNGPs and strongly supports their worldwide implementation; emphasises that the UNGPs were agreed unanimously in the UN with the full support of EU Member States, the ILO and the International Chamber of Commerce, including support for the concept of a ‘smart mix’ of regulatory and voluntary action; calls for the UNGPs and other international corporate responsibility standards to be consistently raised by EU representatives in human rights dialogues with third countries; furthermore, calls on companies to implement the UNGPs, including through the establishment of due diligence policies and risk management safeguards, and the provision of effective remedies when their activities have caused or contributed to an adverse human rights impact;

5.  Recognises the UN Global Compact, the ISO 26000 standard on social responsibility, the ILO Tripartite Declaration of Principles concerning Multinational Enterprises and Social Policy and the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises as tools which can mobilise responsibility in the business activities of enterprises;

Calls addressed to the corporations and their duty to respect human rights

6.  Calls on companies, whether European or not, to carry out human rights due diligence and to integrate their findings into internal policies and procedures, with resources and authority assigned accordingly and duly implemented; stresses that this requires sufficient resources be allocated; stresses that transparency and communication regarding measures taken to avoid human rights abuses in third countries are crucial to allow for proper democratic oversight and to allow consumers to make fact-based choices;

7.  Recognises the major importance of CSR and welcomes the growing use of instruments based on CSR and the self-commitment by corporations; strongly emphasises, however, that respecting human rights is a moral duty and a legal obligation on corporations and their management and should be integrated into a long-term economic perspective, wherever they may act and whatever their size or industrial sector; recognises that specific legal duties for corporations should be concretely tailored according to their sizes and capabilities and that the EU and Member States should pursue the goal of achieving the best protection for human rights by means of the most effective measures and not just by overloading on administrative and bureaucratic formalistic rules;

8.  Expresses its belief that there must be sufficient flexibility when implementing CSR guidelines to cater for the specific requirements of each Member State and region, with particular regard to the capacities of SMEs; welcomes the Commission’s active cooperation with the participation of the Parliament and the Council together with other international bodies to achieve a fundamental convergence of CSR initiatives in the long term and the exchange and promotion of good corporate practice regarding CSR, as well as to push forward the guidelines provided in the International Organisation for Standardisation’s ISO 26000 so as to ensure a single global, coherent and transparent definition of CSR; urges the Commission to contribute effectively to the guidance and coordination of Member State policies, thereby minimising the risk of additional costs being incurred by businesses operating in more than one Member State as a result of divergent provisions;

9.  Reiterates that attention needs to be drawn to the special features of SMEs, which mainly operate at local and regional level inside specific sectors; considers it essential, therefore, for Union CSR policies, including national CSR action plans, to take proper account of the specific requirements of SMEs, to be in keeping with the ‘think small first’ principle, and to recognise the informal, intuitive SME approach to CSR; voices again its opposition to all measures that could result in additional administrative or financial constraints for SMEs, and its support for measures enabling SMEs to take joint action;

10.  Recalls that, if companies are found to have caused or contributed to harm, they should take moral but also legal responsibility and must provide for or participate in effective remedy processes for the individuals and communities affected; notes that this includes restitution, compensation, rehabilitation and guarantees of non-repetition;

11.  Welcomes the practice of incorporating responsibility for respecting human rights into binding contractual requirements between companies and their corporate and private clients and suppliers; notes that such requirements can, in most cases, be enforced by judicial means;

Calls addressed to Member States and their duty to protect human rights

12.  Warmly welcomes the work initiated in preparation for a binding UN Treaty on Business and Human Rights; regrets any obstructive behaviour in relation to this process, and calls on the EU and Member States to constructively engage in these negotiations;

13.  Recalls the different but complementary roles of states and companies with regard to human rights protection; recalls that states, acting within their jurisdiction, have a duty to protect human rights, including against abuses committed by companies, even if they operate in third countries; strongly recalls that, where human rights abuses occur, the states must grant access for the victims to an effective remedy; recalls in this context that respect for human rights by third countries, including guaranteeing effective remedy for people under their jurisdiction, constitutes an essential element of the EU’s external relations with these countries;

14.  Calls on the Commission and Member States to guarantee policy coherence on business and human rights at all levels: within different EU institutions, between the institutions, and between the EU and its Member States, and in particular in relation to the Union’s trade policy; calls on the Commission and Member States to explicitly include the aforementioned principle in all treaties signed by them, in keeping with international commitments undertaken in relation to human rights; notes that this will require intensive cooperation between different directorates-general within the Commission and the European External Action Service;

15.  Calls on the EU, the Member States, third countries and all national and international authorities to adopt binding instruments devoted to the effective protection of human rights in this field as a matter of urgency and as widely as possible, and ensure that all national and international obligations stemming from the abovementioned international rules are fully enforced; expresses hope that European efforts on CSR can be an example for other countries; is convinced that national development banks must have an exemplary character concerning verifiable respect for human rights;

16.  Calls on all states, including the EU and the Member States to implement the UNGPs swiftly and robustly in all areas falling under their respective competence, including by developing action plans; deplores the fact that, notwithstanding the Commission’s 2011 CSR communication, not all Member States have adopted CSR statements or policies that mention human rights or have published their plans on business and human rights, and urges the EU to publish its plan; invites the Member States to develop or review national action plans in line with the guidance provided by the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights; calls for these plans to be developed on the basis of baseline assessments that identify gaps in laws, the setting up of mechanisms to monitor the implementation and the effectiveness of the plans, policies and practice and through meaningful stakeholder participation;

17.  Calls for the Member States to legislate in a coherent, holistic, effective and binding manner in order to fulfil their duty to prevent, investigate, punish and redress human rights violations by corporations acting under their jurisdiction, including those perpetrated in third countries;

18.  Calls on the EU and the Member States to lay down clear rules setting out that companies established in their territory or under their jurisdiction must respect human rights throughout their operations, in every country and context in which they operate, and in relation to their business relationships, including outside the EU; considers that companies, according to their size and capabilities, and including banks and other financing or lending institutions active in third countries, should ensure that they have systems in place to assess risks and mitigate potential negative impacts related to human rights, labour, environmental protection and disaster-related aspects of their operations and value chains; calls on the Member States to assess periodically the adequacy of such laws and address any shortcomings;

19.  Recalls that recent legislative developments at national level, such as the UK Modern Slavery Act’s Transparency in Supply Chains Clause and the French bill on duty of care represent important steps towards mandatory human rights due diligence, and that the EU has already taken steps in this direction (EU Timber Regulation, EU Non-Financial Reporting Directive, Commission Proposal for a Regulation setting up a Union system for supply chain due diligence self-certification of responsible importers of tin, tantalum and tungsten, their ores, and gold originating in conflict-affected and high-risk areas); calls on the Commission and the Member States, as well as all states, to take note of this model with regard to the introduction of mandatory human rights due diligence;

20.  Stresses that mandatory human rights due diligence should follow the steps required in the UNGPs and be guided by certain overarching principles related to the proactive identification of risks to human rights, the drawing up of rigorous and demonstrable action plans to prevent or mitigate these risks, adequate response to known abuses, and transparency; stresses that policies should consider the size of companies and resulting coping capabilities with special attention to micro, small and medium-sized enterprises; stresses that consultation with relevant actors should be ensured at all stages, as well as disclosure of all relevant project or investment-specific information to affected stakeholders;

21.  Calls on all states, and in particular the EU and Member States to prioritise for immediate action the establishment of mandatory human rights due diligence for business enterprises which are owned or controlled by the state, and/or receive substantial support and services from state agencies or European institutions as well as for businesses that provide goods or services through public procurement contracts;

22.  Calls on the EU and its Member States to address companies that use raw materials or commodities under the current legislature procedure that might originate from conflict-affected areas to disclose their sourcing and use of such materials by product labelling, to provide complete information on the content and origin of products by asking their providers, whether European or not, to disclose this data; calls for support on so-called conflict minerals mandatory due diligence for importers of minerals and metals of 3TG based on the OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains of Minerals from Conflict-Affected and High-Risk Areas; calls for consideration of supply chain due diligence to be included in this process;

23.  Takes note with satisfaction that, as a result of the revision of the existing Accounting Directive 2014/95/EU regarding the disclosure of non-financial and diversity information, large companies and groups will be required, as from 2017, to disclose information on policies, risks and results as regards their respect for human rights and related issues; urges the Member States to fully implement the Revised Accounting Directive within the adopted timeframe, including the creation of adequate, effective mechanisms ensuring that companies are complying with the reporting requirements; urges the Commission to draw up clear guidance for companies on the new non-financial reporting requirements; recommends that this should include and elaborate on the minimum essential elements to disclose, for an accurate and comprehensive understanding of the principal risks to, and impacts on, human rights of a company’s activities and in a company’s global value chain;

Access to effective remedies

24.  Invites the Commission to undertake a thorough examination, in consultation with all stakeholders, including civil society and corporations, of existing barriers to justice in cases brought before the courts of Member States for alleged human rights abuses committed by EU-based enterprises abroad; insists that this assessment should be geared towards identifying and promoting the adoption of effective measures that remove or mitigate these barriers;

25.  Calls on the Member States to take any appropriate steps, in cooperation with international partners, to ensure, through judicial, administrative, legislative or other appropriate means, that when such human rights violations occur, those affected have access to an effective remedy, when a corporation based in the given states holds, directs or controls companies that are responsible for human rights violations in other countries; calls on said states to take appropriate steps to eliminate legal, practical and other relevant barriers that could lead to a denial of access to remedy and to establish appropriate procedural means to enable those affected in third countries to have access to justice in both the civil and criminal courts; in this regard, calls on states to pierce the veil of the legal personality, which may obfuscate the effective ownership over certain corporations;

26.  Calls on the EU and all states, in particular EU Member States, to tackle financial and procedural burdens in civil litigation; welcomes the Commission Recommendation 2013/396/EU adopted on 11 June 2013(9) and encourages all Member States to comply with it; considers that the instrument offered by the same recommendation could potentially decrease the costs of litigation for victims of human rights infringements; encourages this type of remedy to be applicable for all victims of human rights abuses also in third countries, and calls for common standards to allow representative associations to bring claims on behalf of alleged victims;

Calls addressed to the Commission

27.  Is aware that ‘corporate responsibility’ is not a stand-alone issue, but one that touches upon a wide range of different legal and political areas;

28.  Welcomes the non-binding private sector initiatives for responsible supply chain management introduced by the Commission’s services, but stresses that non-binding private sector initiatives are by themselves not sufficient; calls for urgent binding and enforceable rules and related sanctions and independent monitoring mechanisms;

29.  Welcomes the new Generalised Scheme of Preferences Regulation (GSP+)(10), which entered into force on 1 January 2014, as a key EU trade policy instrument to promote human and labour rights, environmental protection and good governance in vulnerable developing countries; welcomes, in particular, the stringent and systematic GSP+ monitoring mechanism and calls for a focus on effective implementation at national level of the conventions listed in the convention;

30.  Underlines the fact that the EU and its Member States must safeguard human rights; notes that trade agreements in general can contribute to reinforcing the global rules-based trading system and that trade and values must go hand in hand, as recently stated by the Commission in its new trade strategy entitled ‘Trade for All’; recalls the need to assess the possible human rights impacts of trade and investment agreements and to incorporate on this basis all the necessary human rights clauses and safeguards able to mitigate and address the identified risks of human rights impacts; requests that the Commission take all necessary and possible steps to act in a holistic and coherent manner, and strongly calls for the systematic inclusion in trade and investment agreements of rules on corporate liability for violations of human rights, to be implemented at national level, and of references to internationally recognised principles and guidelines;

31.  Calls on the Commission, as a matter of urgency, to come forward with a legislative proposal for the export control of dual use items, since technologies made by European companies are still causing human rights violations all over the world;

32.  Urges the building of a consistent body of law, including rules governing access to justice, jurisdiction, the recognition and enforcement of judicial decisions in civil and commercial matters, the applicable law, and judicial assistance in cross-border situations involving third countries;

33.  Encourages reflection on the extension of jurisdictional rules under the Brussels I Regulation(11) to third-country defendants in actions against companies that have a clear link with one Member State among others – because they are domiciled or have substantive business there or their main place of business is in the EU – or companies for which the EU is an essential outlet;

34.  Calls for improving access to evidence through enhanced procedures regarding the disclosure of evidence;

35.  Recalls that, when human rights violations are perpetrated by corporations, these actions may involve personal criminal liability, and calls for those responsible for such crimes to be prosecuted at the appropriate level; calls on the Member States to tackle legal, procedural and practical obstacles that prevent the prosecuting authorities from investigating and prosecuting companies and/or their representatives involved in crimes linked to human rights abuses;

36.  Calls on the Council and the Commission to act in accordance with Article 83 of the TFEU, in order to establish minimum rules concerning the definition of criminal offences and sanctions in the areas of particularly serious crimes with a cross-border dimension pertaining to serious human right violations in third countries committed by corporations, given the nature and impact of such offences and the special need to combat them on a common basis;

37.  Stresses that the full observance of human rights in the production chain is fundamental and not just a matter of choice for consumers; recommends the creation of a certified ‘abuse-free’ product label at EU level, participation in which would be on a voluntary basis, to promote increased awareness among producers and consumers, monitored by an independent body governed by strict rules and endowed with powers of inspection, devoted to verifying and certifying that no abuse has been committed at any stage in the chain of production of the relevant good; believes that the EU and the Member States should promote this ‘abuse-free’ label; recommends that the products that achieve this ‘abuse-free’ label be given benefits;

38.  Strongly calls on the Commission to launch an EU-wide campaign, introducing and promoting the ‘abuse-free’ label, urging European consumers to opt for the use of the products and companies that obtain this label and also calling on all corporations and businesses to adopt best practices regarding respect for human rights and related issues;

39.  Invites the Commission and the Member States to report regularly on the steps taken to ensure effective protection of human rights in the context of business activity, the results achieved, the remaining gaps in protection and the recommended future actions to address these gaps;

o
o   o

40.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the EU Special Representative for Human Rights, and the European External Action Service.

(1) http://data.consilium.europa.eu/doc/document/ST-11855-2012-INIT/en/pdf
(2) http://data.consilium.europa.eu/doc/document/ST-10897-2015-INIT/en/pdf
(3) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0470.
(4) OJ C 316, 30.8.2016, p. 141.
(5) OJ C 181, 19.5.2016, p. 2.
(6) OJ C 24, 22.1.2016, p. 28.
(7) OJ C 24, 22.1.2016, p. 33.
(8) https://www.unglobalcompact.org/what-is-gc/mission/principles
(9) OJ L 201, 26.7.2013, p. 60.
(10) http://ec.europa.eu/trade/policy/countries-and-regions/development/generalised-scheme-of-preferences/
(11) http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=URISERV%3Al33054


EU strategy for liquefied natural gas and gas storage
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European Parliament resolution of 25 October 2016 on EU strategy for liquefied natural gas and gas storage (2016/2059(INI))
P8_TA(2016)0406A8-0278/2016

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 16 February 2016 on an EU strategy for liquefied natural gas and gas storage (COM(2016)0049),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 25 February 2015 entitled ‘A Framework Strategy for a Resilient Energy Union with a Forward-Looking Climate Change Policy’ (COM(2015)0080) and the annexes thereto,

–  having regard to the 2030 Energy Strategy, as outlined in the Commission communication of 22 January 2014, ‘A policy framework for climate and energy in the period from 2020 to 2030’ (COM(2014)0015),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 23 July 2014 entitled ‘Energy Efficiency and its contribution to energy security and the 2030 Framework for climate and energy policy’ (COM(2014)0520),

–  having regard to the Fifth IPCC assessment report – Working Group I report, ‘Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis’,

–  having regard to Directive 2014/94/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 October 2014 on the deployment of alternative fuels infrastructure(1),

–  having regard to the Paris Agreement reached in December 2015 at the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP 21) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 15 December 2011 on the Energy Roadmap 2050 (COM(2011)0885),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 8 March 2011 entitled ‘Roadmap for moving to a competitive low-carbon economy in 2050’ (COM(2011)0112),

–  having regard to the Third Energy Package,

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 16 February 2016 entitled ‘An EU Strategy on Heating and Cooling’ (COM(2016)0051),

–  having regard to Directive 2012/27/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 October 2012 on energy efficiency, amending Directives 2009/125/EC and 2010/30/EU and repealing Directives 2004/8/EC and 2006/32/EC,

–  having regard to the Special Report No 16/2015 of the European Court of Auditors, ‘Improving the security of energy supply by developing the internal energy market: more efforts needed’,

–  having regard to its resolution of 15 December 2015 entitled ‘Towards a European Energy Union’(2),

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy and the opinions of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, the Committee on International Trade, the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety and the Committee on Transport and Tourism (A8-0278/2016),

A.  whereas gas can play an important role in the EU energy system for the coming decades, in industrial production and as a source of heat in buildings and as a support to renewable energy while the EU meets its targets on greenhouse gas emissions, energy efficiency and renewables and makes the transition to a low-carbon economy in which the role of gas will gradually decrease in favour of clean energies;

B.  whereas natural gas is a fossil fuel that can emit significant amounts of methane along its life cycle (production, transport, consumption) if not managed properly; whereas methane has a global warming potential significantly higher than CO2 on a 20-year timescale and thus has a considerable impact on climate change;

C.  whereas the European Union is committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 80- 95 % below 1990 levels by 2050;

D.  whereas European gas import dependency in the upcoming years is expected to grow, and in certain Member States has already reached 100 % in cases where there are no or limited numbers of alternative suppliers or supply routes;

E.  whereas liquefied natural gas (LNG) presents an opportunity for Europe in terms of both increasing competitiveness by exerting downward pressure on natural gas prices and increasing security of supply; whereas natural gas is also a flexible backup to renewables in electricity production;

F.  whereas using natural gas in transportation (CNG and LNG), as provided for by Directive 2014/94/EU on the deployment of alternative fuels infrastructure, would generate great environmental benefits;

G.  whereas the EU should actively pursue the development of its domestic conventional gas resources, such as those discovered in Cyprus;

H.  whereas the EU, as the second largest LNG importer in the world, should play a more proactive role in the international energy diplomacy arena;

I.  whereas it is important to promote an integrated proposal for the use of indigenous energy sources, such as natural gas deposits in the Cyprus EEZ, and to support the creation of a LNG liquefaction terminal in Cyprus in order to exploit deposits from neighbouring areas also;

J.  whereas the EU is still not able to fully exploit the benefits of an integrated internal energy market, owing to a lack of sufficient interconnections and coherence and the incomplete implementation of the Third Energy Package;

K.  whereas the framework strategy for a resilient Energy Union with a forward-looking climate change policy defines five mutually reinforcing and closely interrelated dimensions, namely: energy security; a fully integrated European energy market; energy efficiency; decarbonisation of the economy; and research, innovation and competitiveness; whereas the strategy should also promote affordable energy prices for all;

Introduction

1.  Welcomes the Commission communication entitled ‘An EU strategy for liquefied natural gas and gas storage’; believes that an internal energy market which fully integrates LNG and gas storage will play a significant role in achieving the ultimate objective of a resilient Energy Union;

2.  Recalls that the EU strategy for LNG and gas storage is one element of the Energy Union, which aims to gives concrete expression to the EU’s ambition to bring about a quick transition to a sustainable, secure and competitive energy system, and also aims to end dependence on external gas suppliers; stresses that one of the goals of the Energy Union is to make the EU the world leader in renewable energies;

3.  whereas, in line with the COP 21 Paris Agreement, the EU gas policy needs to be adapted to comply with the concluded goal of limiting the global temperature rise to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels; whereas gas is expected to continue to play a role in the EU energy system until 2050 when, in accordance with the Paris Agreement and the EU Energy Roadmap, greenhouse gas emissions will have to be reduced to 80-95% below 1990 levels, especially in industrial production and as a source of heat in buildings; whereas the role of gas will diminish and needs to be phased out in the long term as the EU meets its ambitious targets on greenhouse gas emissions, energy efficiency and renewables and makes the transition to a sustainable economy;

4.  Is of the opinion that energy security can be achieved in the most efficient way through better coordination of national energy policies, the establishment of a real Energy Union with a single energy market, and a common energy policy, as well as through cooperation among the Member States on the matter in accordance with the principles of solidarity and trust; believes, in this context, that further integration of energy policy should be for the benefit of the Member States, in line with EU targets and international obligations as well as with the stated objectives, and should not conflict with the interests of the Member States or their citizens; supports the efforts to forge a common EU position in multilateral energy institutions and frameworks;

5.  Considers that all EU citizens must have access to a secure and affordable energy supply; highlights, in this context, current developments in global LNG markets, where oversupply has led to lower prices, presenting an opportunity to deliver lower energy costs to EU consumers through relatively cheaper gas supplies; stresses that safe, affordable, sustainable energy is a key driving force in the European economy and is essential for industrial competitiveness; calls for the EU and its Member States, as part of the EU energy strategy, to give priority to eliminating energy poverty, and to enhance energy supply through the sharing of best practices at EU level;

6.  Stresses that an EU strategy for LNG must be consistent with the framework strategy for a resilient Energy Union, so as to contribute to increased security of energy supply, decarbonisation, the long-term sustainability of the economy and the delivery of affordable and competitive energy prices;

7.  Agrees with the assessment of the Commission that Member States in the Baltic Sea region and in central and south-eastern Europe, and Ireland – despite the huge infrastructure development efforts realised by certain Member States – are still heavily reliant on a single supplier and are exposed to supply shocks and disruptions;

8.  Acknowledges that the availability of LNG, including supporting pipeline infrastructure, in these Member States could significantly improve the current supply security situation not only in physical but also in economic terms, contributing to more competitive energy prices;

9.  Urges the Commission and the Member States to promote and incentivise a more efficient and better use of existing infrastructure, including gas storage;

10.  Draws attention to the potential of power-to-gas technology to store renewable energies and to make them usable as carbon-neutral gas for transport, heating and power generation;

11.  Stresses the need to make the EU gas system more diverse and flexible, thus contributing to the key Energy Union objective of a secure, resilient and competitive gas supply; calls on the Commission to develop a strategy that aims at lessening EU gas dependency in the long term, reflecting its commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emission to 80-95 % below 1990 levels by 2050, and stresses in this regard that treating energy efficiency as a ‘first principle’ and gradually phasing out fossil subsidies would significantly reduce the EU’s dependency on imported fossil fuels;

12.  Recalls that the Parliament has repeatedly called for binding climate and energy targets for 2030 of at least a 40 % domestic reduction in GHG emissions, at least 30 % for renewables and 40 % for energy efficiency, to be implemented by means of individual national targets;

13.  Stresses the need, before supporting new regasification terminals, to promote the most efficient use of existing LNG terminals from a cross-border perspective, so to avoid technology lock-in or stranded assets in fossil fuel infrastructure and ensure that consumers do not have to bear the costs of any new projects; believes that the Commission needs to carefully revise its analysis for gas demand and risks and needs assessments;

Completing missing infrastructure

LNG infrastructure

14.  Recalls that the EU as a whole is sufficiently supplied with LNG regasification terminals, and acknowledges that, owing to weak internal gas demand in past years and a relatively high global LNG price, several of the EU’s LNG regasification terminals are experiencing low utilisation rates; underlines that all Member States, especially those depending on a single supplier, should have access to LNG, either directly or indirectly through other Member States;

15.  Underlines that, in most cases, priority should be given to market-based solutions and to the utilisation of existing LNG infrastructure on a regional level; notes, however, that solutions can be different depending on national and market specificities, such as level of interconnectivity, availability of storage solutions and market structure;

16.  Stresses that in order to avoid stranded assets, it is necessary to carry out a careful analysis of LNG supply alternatives and options from a regional as well as an environmentally sustainable perspective, taking account of the Union’s climate and energy targets and the principle of geographical balance, before deciding on new infrastructure, in order to improve energy security and guarantee the most efficient use of existing infrastructure;

17.  Stresses the importance of regional cooperation when building new LNG terminals and interconnections, and underlines that Member States with access to the sea should cooperate closely with landlocked countries in order to avoid over-investment in unnecessary and uneconomic projects; stresses that, in this regard, a more optimal use of west-east and north-south corridors, with improved reverse flow capacity, would increase the LNG supply options; believes that knowledge and information could be developed jointly on issues such as energy storage facilities and tendering processes for LNG and interconnectors; strongly believes that the EU strategy has to ensure that LNG is accessible at regional level all over Europe;

18.  Urges the Commission and the Member States to put in place strategies to support facilities that can be used in the future to manage the transfer and storage of renewable natural gas;

19.  Stresses that the strategy should also include the use of LNG as an alternative to the development of gas distribution and transmission infrastructure in areas where it is not currently cost-effective; notes that small LNG installations can provide the optimal infrastructure for increasing the use of natural gas in areas where investments in gas infrastructure are unprofitable, including for increasing the use of gas to generate heat and thus curb so-called low-stack emissions;

20.  Urges the Commission and the Member States to fully implement key projects of common interest (PCIs), and to assign high priority primarily to the most economically and environmentally efficient projects identified by the three regional high-level groups; stresses that building LNG terminals which are necessary for and compatible with gas demand is not sufficient, and that supporting pipeline infrastructure with appropriate tariffs is indispensable for the benefits to be realised outside the receiving countries;

21.  Welcomes the fact that important LNG projects (e.g. the North-South corridor) are being defined as projects of common interest; calls on the Commission to fully include Balkan countries when planning the further reconstruction of the gas pipeline and TEN-E network to ensure a key role of the EU energy sector in the region;

22.  Supports the Commission proposal in the ongoing revision of the Security of Supply Regulation to review the existing reverse flow exemptions on interconnectors, and endorses the increased role of the Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators (ACER) in the process; notes the understaffing and lack of resources of ACER; underlines the need to provide ACER with the necessary resources, in particular sufficient own staff, to allow the agency to fulfil the tasks assigned to it by the legislation;

Storage infrastructure

23.  Recalls that geology is a major determining factor when developing new gas storages, and notes the current excess capacities in European gas storages; stresses that regional cooperation and an adequate level of gas interconnections, as well as the removal of internal bottlenecks, could significantly improve the utilisation rate of existing gas storages; highlights the need to ensure the application of the highest environmental standards in the planning, construction and use of LNG storage infrastructure;

24.  Recalls that the cross-border accessibility of gas storages is one of the key tools to implement the principle of energy solidarity during gas shortages and emergency crisis;

25.  Emphasises that a more extensive use of Ukraine’s storage capacity will only be possible if an appropriate and stable commercial and legal framework and the integrity of supply infrastructure is guaranteed in Ukraine and provided the right level of gas interconnections is in place so that energy can flow freely across the borders without physical barriers; furthermore emphasises that as Ukraine’s gas-dependent industrial sector rebounds in the short term, additional gas supplies will have to be imported; considers that the EU should support Ukraine in transitioning from dependency on Russian natural gas to LNG;

Connecting LNG and storage to markets

26.  Emphasises the importance of the work of regional high-level groups, such as the Central East South Europe Gas Connectivity High Level Group (CESEC), the Baltic Energy Market Interconnection Plan (BEMIP) and the South-West Europe group; believes that this type of voluntary-based regional coordination is highly effective, and welcomes the facilitating role of the Commission in these arrangements; stresses the need for pragmatic and timely execution of the approved action plans, and urges close follow-up of implementation;

27.  Stresses the importance of finding cost-efficient and environmentally sustainable energy supply options to increase long-term security of supply for the Iberian peninsula, Central and South-East Europe, the Baltic states and Ireland, all of which are insufficiently connected to and/or integrated with the internal energy market and deserve the full support of the EU in the name of the principle of solidarity; also highlights the need to support the most vulnerable countries that continue to remain energy islands, such as Cyprus and Malta, in order to diversify their sources and routes of supply; stresses, in this context, that LNG and gas storage must contribute towards ending energy isolation of whatever kind that affects Member States and regions in the EU;

28.  Calls for gas production in the Mediterranean, Black Sea and Caspian regions, as well as for interconnecting landlocked countries in Central and South-East Europe to these new capacities in order to diversify supply sources in those regions; notes that this will allow for competition between gas from multiple sources and will replace imports of natural gas volumes under oil-indexed contracts, thus increasing Member States’ bargaining power; stresses that no single energy source will ever fulfil the EU’s energy needs and that diversity in the case of both domestic and foreign markets is essential; considers, therefore, that the development of the domestic conventional gas resources discovered in Cyprus should be actively pursued;

29.  Supports the Commission’s ambition to provide more information and assistance to project promoters on various project financing options, such as the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF), the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF), and on various technical solutions;

30.  Notes that finding cost-efficient and environmentally sustainable solutions should be a key principle in reaching the EU and regional optimum, and calls on the Commission, the Member States and the national regulatory authorities to allocate the limited resources available to the development of critical infrastructure so as to attract private investment for LNG infrastructure and interconnectors;

31.  Expresses concern at the fact that gas imports from Russia were 7 % higher in 2015 than in 2014, and at the fact that 41 % of gas imports from outside the EU in 2015 came from Russia; highlights the vital role of LNG and gas storage, in addition to increased efficiencies and renewable energy deployment, in reducing dependence on Russian gas;

32.  Expresses concern at the proposed doubling of capacity of the Nord Stream pipeline, and the counterproductive effects this would have on energy security and diversification of supply sources and the principle of solidarity among Member States; highlights the geopolitical implications of the project and the underlying principles of a fully integrated, secure, competitive and sustainable Energy Union, stressing that as such it should not benefit from EU financial support or from derogations from EU law; underlines that a doubling of the capacity of the Nord Stream pipeline would give one company a dominant position on the European gas market, which should be avoided;

33.  Considers that if, contrary to European interests, Nord Stream 2 were to be built it would necessarily require a sound assessment of LNG terminals’ accessibility and a detailed state of play on the North-South Gas Corridor;

Completing the internal gas market: commercial, legal and regulatory aspects

Making the EU an attractive market for LNG

34.  Urges the Member States to fully implement the Third Energy Package and gas network codes;

35.  Highlights the important role that well-interconnected liquid gas hubs play on the gas markets, that would ensure a single integrated market where gas can freely flow across borders in line with market price signals;

36.   Stresses that significant gas reserves in the North African countries and recent discoveries in the Eastern Mediterranean provide the region with an opportunity to emerge as a vibrant centre for transporting gas into Europe; believes that new LNG capacity being developed in the Mediterranean could form the basis of an infrastructure hub;

37.  Insists that the completion of the internal gas market and the elimination of regulatory obstacles would greatly improve the liquidity of gas markets; urges stakeholders to finalise the network code on rules regarding harmonised transmission tariff structures for gas as soon as possible;

38.  Recalls the continuous need for active cooperation between governments, national regulatory authorities and main stakeholders on cross-border investments, keeping always in mind a European perspective besides the national interests;

Gas storage in the internal market

39.  Highlights the need to develop harmonised tariff structures across the EU and to increase transparency in tariff definition in order to achieve a higher utilisation rate of existing gas storages; takes the view that the network code on rules regarding harmonised transmission tariff structures for gas should take into consideration the need for harmonisation;

40.  Supports the Commission’s proposal to enable the deployment of bio-methane and other renewable gases which comply with relevant EU quality standards in gas transmission, distribution and storage; recommends, in this respect, the consideration of technical parameters, gas quality, cost efficiency, economies of scale and possible local or regional grid solutions;

41.  Urges the Member States to fully implement the third energy package, particularly in relation to the provisions on granting access to bio-methane to the grid and to storage facilities; highlights in this regard Directive 2009/73/EC, according to which Member States should ensure that, taking into account the necessary quality requirements, biogas and gas from biomass or other types of gas are granted non-discriminatory access to the gas system, provided such access is permanently compatible with the relevant technical rules and safety standards;

42.  Encourages LNG and storage operators, in cooperation with national regulatory authorities, to develop new flexible products and services, compliant with the EU current legislation, in order to make LNG regasification and storing more attractive and maximise the utilisation of existing LNG and storage facilities;

Optimising the role of storage for security of gas supply

43.  Highlights the role of the immediate, high-flexibility services that gas storage offers in certain Member States, and points out the different role that storage can play during a supply disruption compared to LNG where logistics in the supply chain might not grant the same responsiveness;

44.  Underlines the importance of eliminating regulatory barriers to developing regional storage concepts; believes that certain storages could offer tailor-made international services, i.e. storage services tied with cross-border transportation; proposes that the regional high-level groups cooperate more extensively to find innovative solutions on how to use strategically valuable assets effectively at regional and European level;

The EU as a player on international LNG markets

45.  Notes the emerging global trend of increasing liquefaction capacity and its potential impact on the European gas markets;

46.  Considers that, through its emergence as an important market, the EU can contribute to the evolution of gas trading rules with a view to improved flexibility and the convergence of global gas markets;

47.  Supports the Commission, the European External Action Service and the Member States in their active engagement in energy diplomacy in order to promote a rule-based, transparent and well-functioning global gas market;

48.  Stresses the importance of reducing or removing the EU’s gas and oil dependence on imports from authoritarian regimes that violate human rights, in keeping with the EU’s founding values and the effectiveness of EU external action;

49.  Calls for greater institutional convergence and synergy, and, in particular, for the better integration of external energy security priorities in policies pursued by the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (VP/HR), and for better coordination between the VP/HR and the responsible Commissioners; calls on the VP/HR, along with the Member States, to enhance existing means and establish new means of energy cooperation with current and potential suppliers, as well as with transit states and other key players; calls, in this context, on the VP/HR to inform Parliament regularly on the implementation of the EU Energy Diplomacy Action Plan;

50.  Stresses the necessity of eliminating all barriers to global free trade in LNG, the production of which must be sustainable; in this context, urges US policymakers to increase investment certainty by introducing clear criteria and deadlines in the authorisation process for gas exports to non-FTA countries;

51.  Underlines the need to raise awareness of the environmental, climate and social impacts of imported LNG in global free trade fora; underlines, in particular, the need to ensure that fugitive methane emissions are minimised;

52.  Stresses that the use of LNG may also lead to a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from maritime and road transport, provided that all effective measures are taken to minimise methane slip throughout the lifecycle of the fuel, including the production, distribution, and combustion phases; calls, therefore, for adequate measures to minimise methane slip in the overall LNG chain through the use of the best available technologies, and to ensure adequate R&D financing for that purpose;

53.  Stresses that trade plays a key role in energy security, and that strong energy partnerships, reinforced by the inclusion of energy chapters in the EU’s trade agreements, are essential tools; considers it of key importance that the EU’s trade policy should enhance the Union’s and Member States’ energy diversification and reduce their dependency on imported energy from too few suppliers; stresses that the EU should explore new partnerships, review its existing ones and hold specific energy talks with other partners in areas such as – but not limited to – Central Asia, North Africa and the Americas; notes that the EU should play a more proactive role in the international energy diplomacy arena; calls for greater coherence between the EU’s trade and energy policies; underlines the need to increase transparency in international negotiations on LNG; believes that current and future negotiations with partners such as the US and Australia should include a strong energy component; underlines that the EU should collaborate closely with international partners towards a competitive and transparent global LNG market;

54.  Recalls that in order to meet the current challenges and implement its energy and climate change objectives in the context of global constraints in those policy fields, the EU and its Member States must, on the basis of existing legal frameworks and multilateral conventions, also take common action on the international stage by raising energy security and sustainability issues in international trade forums, including with partner countries dependent on gas imports; stresses that, at the same time, the EU should support and promote energy efficiency;

55.  Considers that trade policy generating significant opportunities for EU Member States’ private and public companies in clean, secure and energy-efficient technologies is particularly important, especially in light of the growing global energy demand; calls for tariffs on clean technologies to be reduced significantly within the Green Goods initiative and also within EU free trade agreements, which must tackle non-tariff barriers to trade in energy sources;

56.  Highlights the importance for EU energy security of the ‘Energy and Raw Materials’ chapter of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) agreement; welcomes the Commission’s work towards removing export restrictions on US gas to the EU;

57.  Considers that the 12,2 billion cubic metres per year being added to the market in 2016 through Sabine Pass LNG on the US East Coast, along with potentially a further 74 billion cubic metre capacity being added through various US projects before 2020, represents a significant opportunity for Europe to increase energy trade links with the US; believes that the conclusion of the work on the ‘Energy and Raw Materials’ chapter of TTIP will significantly boost EU gas supply options;

58.  Considers that European companies should not be restricted from operating on third countries’ energy markets under the same conditions as domestic companies; stresses that third-country companies operating on European energy markets must comply with European law; stresses that such entities must have a transparent structure making it possible to track their shareholders;

59.  Stresses the need to ensure the highest environmental protection in the planning, construction and use of LNG as well as in the exploitation of indigenous reserves and sources, and to respect the international labour standards on occupational health and safety; underlines the need to raise awareness of the environmental, climate and social impacts of imported LNG; reiterates the need to involve local communities and to rely on realistic assessments regarding consumption and – in the event of construction –the planning of new infrastructures; emphasises the potential offered by the transition to LNG for ending the dependency of maritime transport on coal; calls for the EU to provide financial support for European projects for this purpose;

60.  Points out that, given the prospects for growth in the supply of LNG in coming years, this strategy may be complemented by an assessment of needs, in terms of LNG-carrying vessels and measures to enable the EU shipbuilding industry to seize this opportunity, thereby contributing to the target of increasing the industry’s share of GDP to 20 % in 2020; calls for safety standards so that the transport of LNG can be monitored and, if necessary, subjected to more stringent conditions in the context of measures to prevent terrorism;

Sustainability and the use of LNG as an alternative fuel in transport, heat and power

61.  Acknowledges the potential of LNG as an alternative fuel, both in road and maritime transport; underlines that wider use of LNG in freight transport could contribute to the decrease of global CO2, SOx, and NOx emissions, especially through using more LNG engines in maritime transport;

62.  Underlines the fact that the network of fuelling infrastructure is a prerequisite for substantive deployment of LNG as an alternative fuel in the transport sector; calls, in this regard, on the Commission and the Member States to ensure full implementation of Directive 2014/94/EU on alternative fuels, including the establishment of LNG refuelling points across the TEN-T corridors and at maritime and inland ports, replacing more polluting conventional fuels; underlines, however, in this regard that LNG should not take the place of renewable energy sources, so as to ensure consistency with sustainability goals;

63.  Calls for the development of maritime routes, notably in the archipelago of the Azores which, given its geographical situation, could serve as a key fuel station for the transatlantic routes of LNG; urges the Commission to make funds available to support European projects to this end;

64.  Asks the Commission to create, jointly with the Member States and their regions, a common project of ‘LNG Blue Corridors for Islands’ for the maritime sector, including ports of the TEN-T Comprehensive Network, in order to establish the necessary LNG infrastructures and link this network to the TEN-T Core Network;

65.  Calls on the Member States, in addition, to ensure the implementation of Directive 2014/94/EU as regards the establishment of CNG refuelling points, so as to ensure that motor vehicles running on that fuel can circulate in urban/suburban agglomerations and other densely populated areas, and at least along the existing TEN-T Core Network, thus ensuring that those vehicles can circulate throughout the Union;

66.  Stresses the need to establish common technical specifications for LNG refuelling points for seagoing ships, inland waterway vessels and motor vehicles, as provided for in Directive 2014/94/EU; calls for rigorous harmonised safety rules and training for LNG storage, bunkering and on-board use throughout the Union, allowing also the possibility of simultaneous bunkering and cargo operations; notes that this work should be carried out in close cooperation with the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) and EMSA;

67.  Stresses the need to ensure adequate R&D financing for the development of improved technologies for inland waterway vessels, seagoing ships and motor vehicles with the aim of swiftly shifting to a lower-carbon fleet, as well as for the development of unmanned systems for the installation of LNG refuelling points; also calls on the Commission and the Member States to create incentives for the development of vessels and motor vehicles running on LNG, or retrofitting those running on conventional fuels to enable them to use LNG;

68.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to create incentives for the transport of LNG by rail, as this will on the one hand reduce road transport and on the other hand contribute to the environmentally sound and safe transport of a fuel which is low in pollutants;

69.  Calls on the Commission, after consulting the stakeholders, to consider whether, alongside Regulation (EC) No 443/2009 setting CO2 emission performance standards for new passenger cars, it might establish a CO2 equivalent for hydrocarbon emissions, not least with a view to informing consumers;

70.  Notes that the use of small-scale LNG technology in certain areas, such as long-range transportation or industrial high-performance applications, could not only contribute to climate policy objectives but also result in significant business advantage;

71.  Notes that LNG, and in particular CNG, is also a viable solution for public transport, which is already available and can help reduce air and noise pollution, thus improving living conditions, especially in urban agglomerations;

72.  Notes that although LNG and CNG can present viable transitional solutions to reduce the environmental impacts of transport, their long-term benefits will be only realised if a smooth transition towards the use of liquefied biogas (LBG) and other forms of renewable energy is simultaneously promoted by also ensuring the interoperability of LNG and LBG systems; emphasises that the EU strategy for LNG needs to fit into the wider European climate and energy targets and priorities, and correspond to the COP21 agreement, with a focus on reducing demand, improving energy efficiency and phasing out fossil fuels;

73.  Emphasises that an efficient network of refuelling infrastructure is a prerequisite for the substantive deployment of LNG as an alternative fuel in the transport sector; calls on the Commission and the Member States to create incentives for the development of such infrastructure in order to close the existing gaps in provision and create a complete supply network;

74.  Stresses the importance of LNG infrastructure at maritime and inland ports in terms of promoting multimodality, as such infrastructure can be used by seagoing ships, inland waterway vessels and trucks for the further overland transport of the fuel; urges national and regional operators to cooperate closely with the aim of enhancing the multi-functionality and exploitability of this infrastructure;

75.  Considers that fostering the use of natural gas as an alternative fuel in transport is an important global challenge, and calls for a commitment to achieving emissions reductions to be obtained through the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) and the International Maritime Organisation (IMO);

o
o   o

76.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Member States, the Energy Community Secretariat and the Contracting Parties of the Energy Community.

(1) OJ L 307, 28.10.2014, p. 1.
(2) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0444.


How to make fisheries controls in Europe uniform
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European Parliament resolution of 25 October 2016 on how to make fisheries controls in Europe uniform (2015/2093(INI))
P8_TA(2016)0407A8-0234/2016

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to paragraph 3 of Article 3 of the Treaty on European Union, which foresees the need for a commitment to the ‘sustainable development of Europe’, including the provision of a ‘high level of protection and improvement of the environment’, and to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, and in particular Articles 11, 43 and 191 thereof,

–   having regard to Article 349 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

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

–  having regard to Council Regulation (EC) No 1224/2009 establishing a Community control system for ensuring compliance with the rules of the Common Fisheries Policy (the ‘Control Regulation’),

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 1380/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council on the Common Fisheries Policy, and in particular Articles 15 and 36 thereof,

–  having regard to Council Regulation (EC) No 768/2005 establishing a Community Fisheries Control Agency,

–  having regard to Commission Regulation (EC) No 1010/2009 laying down detailed rules for the implementation of Council Regulation (EC) No 1005/2008 establishing a Community system to prevent, deter and eliminate illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing,

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) 2015/812 of the European Parliament and of the Council as regards the landing obligation, and in particular Articles 7 and 9 thereof,

–  having regard to Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) No 404/2011 laying down detailed rules for the implementation of Council Regulation (EC) No 1224/2009 establishing a Community control system for ensuring compliance with the rules of the Common Fisheries Policy,

–  having regard to its position of 5 February 2014 on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Council Regulation (EC) No 1224/2009 establishing a Community control system for ensuring compliance with the rules of the Common Fisheries Policy(1),

–  having regard to its position of 6 July 2016 on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Council Regulation (EC) No 768/2005 establishing a Community Fisheries Control Agency(2),

–   having regard to its resolution of 12 May 2016 on traceability of fishery and aquaculture products in restaurants and retail(3),

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Fisheries (A8-0234/2016),

A.  whereas the scope of Council Regulation (EC) No 1224/2009 establishing a Community control system is the European Union;

B.  whereas the inspection forms in the different inspection report model in Implementing Regulation (EU) No 404/2011 are not harmonised among themselves, using different names for the same topics, thus creating operational difficulties in information transfer between authorities;

C.  whereas the last data exchange protocols, which are essential for the implementation of electronic logbooks, were completed in July 2010, and whereas electronic logbooks have been mandatory since January 2010;

D.  whereas there is real inequity, or inequity is felt by fishermen, as regards the regularity, frequency, duration, severity, thoroughness, effectiveness and methods of fisheries control in Europe, and a need for equal and non-discriminatory treatment;

E.  whereas fisheries control efforts should necessarily count on the full and active participation of the fisheries sector;

F.  whereas a points-based system penalises fishing vessels, and not ship owners, fishermen or other people throughout the production chain;

G.  whereas the fisheries sector is a major stakeholder in the sustainable management of the seas and oceans;

H.  whereas, quite apart from possible regional variations, substantial differences exist in the application of European regulations in Member States, particularly those deriving from the Control Regulation, and whereas each Member State has its own distinctive legal system as well as different administrative and judicial structures, which are inevitably reflected in the systems of administrative and/or criminal penalties for failure to comply with CFP rules and in the fact that those systems lead to discrepancies and unfairness from one Member State to the other;

I.  whereas risks have been identified in that national inspection authorities do not always have access to relevant data in order to inspect foreign vessels effectively, and whereas different approaches to controls and sanctions pose problems for Member States when they follow up with flag states on infringements detected;

J.  whereas there is a need for stricter checks on products coming into the EU from illegal, unreported and unregulated fisheries and a need to guarantee an equivalent level of control on such fishing in all Member States;

K.  whereas the implementation of Regulation (EC) No 1224/2009 and the corresponding sanctions are the responsibility of the Member States;

L.  whereas some Member States lack units of specialised fisheries inspectors;

M.  whereas the European Fisheries Control Agency (EFCA), which was set up in order to promote the highest common control standards under the common fisheries policy, plays an effective role in the uniform implementation of the control system in spite of the limited resources at its disposal;

N.  whereas the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) can contribute to the improvement and modernisation of fisheries control, particularly through its budget headings 11 06 62 02 (control and application of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) and the Integrated Maritime Policy (IMP)) and 11 06 64 (EFCA);

O.  whereas the discard ban has been implemented and, in practice, is unfairly harsh on fishing operators because even though the operators use tools and instruments that are permitted under EU law and use every possible means to avoid incidental catches, they may be punished for the mere fact that these catches exceed the maximum amount permitted under EU and national laws;

P.  whereas the techniques and equipment used for fishing have changed and have evolved, and the systems and techniques used for monitoring also need to be updated in order to be efficient; recalls that the EMFF could be used for this purpose;

Q.  whereas the landing obligation is a key issue as regards control, to which the legislator and the authorities responsible for control need to pay particular attention;

R.  whereas low-cost remote tracking technologies, such as the Automatic Identification System (AIS), allow voluntary control and increase ease of monitoring and the safety of fishermen;

S.  whereas illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, and the trade in the resulting catches, constitute a criminal activity on a global scale;

T.  whereas fish auctions play a vital role in the sea-food industry, and have a central role in controlling landed fish;

U.  whereas Member States have different legal systems, and whereas the evidence gathered must be admissible and usable in these different systems, which are specific to each Member State that prosecutes;

V.  whereas the best allies for implementing the Control Regulation are well trained, encouraged fishermen, who understand the benefits of these controls and actively respect them;

I – Disincentives for uniformity

1.  Stresses the importance of ensuring effective control of fisheries activities in order to guarantee sustainable exploitation of living marine resources and maintain a level playing field among EU fleets; calls on the Member States to ensure effective implementation of the Control Regulation;

2.  Stresses that the ambitious EU fight against illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUU) all over the world should be matched by an effective application of the Control Regulation in our own waters;

3.  Underlines the diverse fields of application of the controls and the disparity between different inspection sites, and the resultant discriminatory nature of fisheries controls, with some Member States organising control from gear to plate and others controlling only certain links in the chain and excluding aspects relating to transportation of catches or to catering, for example;

4.  Recognises the significant improvement in the control regime brought about by the current Control Regulation, in combination with the IUU fishing regulation, in terms of consolidation of many previously separate regulations, the introduction of the possibility of using new technologies, preliminary steps towards harmonisation of sanctions, clarification of the roles of the Commission and the Member States, improvements in traceability and other advances;

5.  Recalls that fishers’ acceptance of regulations is influenced by whether the implementation effects are considered fair, whether the imposed regulations are perceived as meaningful and whether there is compatibility between the regulation and traditional fishing patterns and practices;

6.  Considers it necessary to clarify, classify and establish standards for fishing in the different maritime areas;

7.  Notes the diversity in the organisation of controls, with some Member States splitting them up between different administrations and others carrying them out under the auspices of a single body, and also notes the diversity of instruments, tools, and human, logistic and financial resources used to conduct such controls; also notes that these circumstances make it difficult to ensure transparency in management and access to information;

8.  Points out that the effectiveness of controls also varies on account of the immense diversity of fishing grounds within the EU, ranging from narrow, confined zones, whose fishery resources are shared essentially by neighbouring Member States, to very distant and remote zones; maintains that the specific features of the outermost regions (ORs), whose vast and eminently oceanic exclusive economic zones (EEZs), combined with the type of fish stocks exploited (mostly deep-water species and highly migratory pelagic fish) and the dearth of alternative resources, clearly warrant tighter control measures in those regions, which depend greatly on fishing and are very vulnerable to the extreme harm caused by fleets known to infringe CFP rules;

9.  Urges Member States to fully and properly implement the Control Regulation, in order to have a clear view of which parts need to be improved in the upcoming revision and thus to ensure a functional and easily applicable Control Regulation for the future as well;

10.  Notes a difference in approach between controls based on risk assessment and random checks on fishing activity and on marketing channels for catches;

11.  Notes that the current complexity of technical measures and the vast number of provisions, possibly even contradictory, including multiple derogations and exceptions, provisions disseminated across a range of different legal texts makes them difficult not only to understand, but also to control and enforce;

12.  Recalls that most random checks are performed at the time of landing, while inspections at sea reveal an apparently higher rate of infraction than those conducted on land, since they are based on risk assessment;

13.  Recalls that, because the landing obligation for fisheries constitutes a fundamental change, the Omnibus Regulation ((EU) 2015/812) provides for a two-year adaptation period before infringements of the landing obligation are regarded as serious infringements; calls for that period to be extended if necessary;

14.  Notes that Member States, and sometimes regions as well, transpose the rules into national and regional law in different ways because of the large number of optional provisions in Council Regulation (EC) No 1224/2009; stresses the difficulties in enforcing some of its provisions in practice, either owing to the poor adaptability of the regulations to reality, for instance because of the defining characteristics of the fisheries sector (fleet, fishing gear, fishing grounds and target species), which vary significantly from one sea basin, Member State and fishery to another, or because of contradictions which may lead to several different interpretations by inspectors;

15.  Notes that the level of infraction differs from one Member State to another, and that for the same infraction the sanction may be either an administrative or a penal one; contends that the points-based fishing licence system, with points deducted for non‑compliance, is relevant as a European instrument able to provide a framework for sanctions for serious infractions, but that without the necessary uniformity it aggravates an already inequitable situation entailing inequalities among operators in Member States; requests that such differences in sanctions be avoided;

16.  Notes that the lack of trust and transparency between Member States is one of the key issues for the lack of data sharing regarding regulation; encourages that this situation be overcome in order to ensure and prove an equal level playing field for all fishermen;

17.  Recalls that the EFCA ensures the application of common control, inspection and surveillance standards, and facilitates operational cooperation between Member States through joint deployment plans; reiterates the importance of strengthening the EFCA’s mandate in order to set up joint fisheries control operations enabling efficient coordinated action by many local, regional and national authorities, and by EU agencies performing coastguard duties at EU level; calls for the EFCA to deploy more resources for this task;

18.  Considers that the implementation by the EFCA of a ‘core curriculum’ for the training of fisheries inspectors is an essential point for the standardisation of training and control procedures and calls for its use by all Member States; notes that Member States do not, unless voluntarily, have the same training standards, which means that the content of qualifications, recruitment and objectives are different;

19.  Notes that fishermen are trained and informed differently from one Member State to the next and that no tool simplifying, or granting easier access to, the aims and substance of the Control Regulation has been put in place; takes the view that this situation gives rise to a lack of awareness which is a major disincentive to the uniform application of this legislation that is desirable; strongly encourages the implementation of these tools as soon as possible;

20.  Notes that even though consumers have, over the years, become more aware of the origin and identification of what they buy, thanks to a widespread awareness-raising campaign by the Commission, those same consumers are unable to obtain the appropriate information about the fish products they are served in restaurants, since there are no mandatory requirements for this final link in the commercial chain;

21.  Stresses that the use of new monitoring and real-time information transmission and communication technologies is essential to improving maritime surveillance; asks for the instruments used by Member States to be made technically compatible, and for the partial sharing of databases relating to control and the resultant disparity and loss of efficiency to be discouraged;

22.  Points out that there has been no assessment of the genuine non-enforceability of certain rules arising from the different technological levels of the vessels, the logistics on the ground and the organisation of the sector in different ports;

23.  Stresses the role of the EMFF, particularly through its budget devoted to the control of CFP objectives which amounts to EUR 580 million for the period 2014-2020;

24.  Stresses the need to ensure that the single market is uniform and that control requirements are complied with in an equivalent manner in the Member States, with a uniform level of quality in internal and external controls within Member States and no variation on the basis of the border at which products enter the EU;

II – Proposals for improvement

25.  Is in favour of a simplification and improvement of Union legislation, as well as a reduction in the administrative burden with a view to achieving ‘better lawmaking’, in particular through a limited and targeted revision of Council Regulation (EC) No 1224/2009, scheduled for and expected by 2017 at the latest, while retaining effective rules able to prevent, detect and sanction infringements of the CFP, and focusing primarily on better implementation of norms between different Member States, by researching in particular a greater harmonisation, provided that this simplification is based on the strong existing control framework and does not entail a watering down of the highest standards of protection concerning labour, the environment, trade unions or society;

26.  Considers that a sound and harmonised control system is needed for the regionalisation envisaged in the new CFP; is firmly opposed to the Control Regulation being weakened, and believes that Member States can already use the flexibility provided by the existing framework;

27.  Demands that the European institutions work together with the fisheries sector in this review, particularly in the field of traditional small-scale coastal fishing, which any new legislation should seek to safeguard and promote;

28.  Emphasises the need to hold discussions with the various national, outermost-region and regional authorities when creating or revising legal instruments;

29.  States that closer cooperation between Member States would be a way towards further harmonisation of controls; stresses the importance in this regard of the expert group on compliance with the obligations under the Union’s fisheries control system;

30.  Reminds the Commission of the need to create the legal and operative environment before implementing mandatory rules, thus avoiding paradoxical situations;

31.  Considers that the Commission must attend to uniform and accurate transposition and verify the state of implementation of the existing legislation, for example by establishing a minimum percentage of consignments to be checked by each Member State; believes, furthermore, that control procedures must be transparent, even-handed and standardised, allowing Member States to be put on an equal footing as regards controls on their fishermen, and that the rules on control should be simpler, and more comprehensive and consistent;

32.  Advocates a strengthening of controls to prevent the importation of fish from illegal, unreported and unregulated fisheries by, among other measures, setting up national intelligence teams staffed with specialised fishing inspectors, who are best qualified to detect risks, and establishing a minimum percentage of consignments that must be checked;

33.  Believes there is a need for the collection, management and use of good-quality data regarding the landing obligation, in order to control and assess the effectiveness of the implementation of the landing obligation and to bring data collection into line with the requirements resulting from the revised CFP;

34.  Calls for the Member States and their respective sea fishery control authorities to set up teams of specialised fishing inspectors; supports and calls for increased cooperation between Member States through exchanges of inspectors, control methods and data, risk analysis sharing and shared information on quotas of flagged vessels;

35.  Recalls that Member States are responsible for implementing the Control Regulation; calls on Member States to comply with their obligations and cooperate closely with each other in order to exchange good practices and data and make interoperability of control systems possible;

36.  Considers that a uniform and predictable application of the different types of possible inspections, through a full definition, harmonisation and explanation of these inspections, would help to provide the necessary level playing field among all EU fisheries;

37.  Points out that in certain regions basins are managed jointly with countries outside the EU, and calls for cooperation between Member States and non-member countries to be intensified;

38.  Believes that Member States, the European Fisheries Control Agency, and the Commission need to work in closer cooperation and coordination;

39.  Calls for the implementation by the EFCA and training institutions in the Member States of a uniform European training curriculum for fisheries inspectors based on a common syllabus and standardised rules, part of the funding for which could come from the EMFF;

40.  Calls for the EFCA Core Curriculum to be translated and circulated widely, for example by means of application trainings for the national authorities, with the aid of the EMFF; proposes that this manual be supplemented with examples of good practice by inspectors;

41.  Emphasises the importance of assessing and certifying the control training initiatives provided by third parties;

42.  Proposes that training and information for fishermen be improved, both of which could be incorporated into their professional organisations and the coastal action groups (CAGs), with a view to improving their understanding of the purpose and general importance of the regulations and thus inculcating a culture of understanding and respect for them; recommends effective consultation with the advisory councils to this end; proposes that online databases be created for documents and information relevant to fisheries (including the penalty point system), as far as the data protection provisions in force permit, making the regulations accessible for all to read and understand; asks the Commission to assess existing training courses for future fishermen in Europe and to make its conclusions known by means of a communication;

43.  Suggests that the idea of an EFCA electronic registry (EFCA single desk) be examined, with ready-to-print or electronic models for inspections and for the centralisation of inspection reports; notes that this EFCA electronic registry could also be used for receiving and centralising the capture certificates issued by Member States and third countries;

44.  Proposes that the public communication systems used by control agencies be improved, and stresses the importance of periodically disseminating the work carried out and the results obtained and providing information on a permanent basis about the rules applied to fish resources, such as minimum sizes and temporal and spatial closures;

45.  Stresses the necessity to strengthen the role of the EFCA, particularly its budget, competences and human resources; suggests revising the conditions of intervention referred to in Articles 94 and 95 of Council Regulation (EC) No 1224/2009 and, in particular, giving it the right to intervene in respect of fishery resources which are overexploited and those which have not reached the maximum sustainable yield (MSY);

46.  Stresses the importance of reinforcing and strengthening controls, especially in Member States that have so far demonstrated poor implementation of the Control Regulation, in order to combat illegal fishing, to comply with the rules of the CFP and to strengthen the quality of the data obtained;

47.  Recalls the importance of having the capacity to share data in real time, especially during control operations carried out by the Agency in conjunction with the Member States and coordinated by the Agency through joint deployment plans;

48.  Stresses the importance of increasing the presence of the EFCA close to the Member States, including the Outermost Regions;

49.  Suggests that at least two representatives of the European Parliament be included on the Management Board of the Agency, on which there are already six representatives from the Commission and one from each Member State, this representation to have parity of composition (equal numbers of women and men) and to be appointed by Parliament's Committee on Fisheries from among its members;

50.  Recommends expanding the controls – for example extending monitoring – to cover the entire production chain, and assigning responsibility for control at sea to a single administrative body, in order to avoid an overlapping of controls which wastes human, logistic, and financial resources and causes confusion and unnecessary pressure on those operating in the fisheries sector; in addition, calls for formal collaboration between the institutions of the Member States so that the entire fish production chain can be effectively controlled;

51.  Asks the Commission to determine whether linking penalty points to fishing licences is appropriate; stresses that under this system points are transferred with the licence when the vessel is sold, which can reduce the value of vessels in some cases and may thus prevent their resale, for example to young fishermen wishing to start up in the business;

52.  Recommends the adoption of specific measures with a view to achieving more aware and responsible consumption in restaurants, without ruling out a mandatory requirement for restaurateurs to provide minimum information about the products, whilst enabling consumers to exercise indirect control;

53.  Proposes autonomous community or regional inspections for inland waters, national inspections for sea fisheries within up to 12 nautical miles and EU inspections for all other waters;

54.  Takes the view that controls based on risk assessment should be based on a list of transparent, specific, and measurable minimum criteria defined at European level;

55.  Calls for a standardisation of sanctions while keeping them at a level that is proportional and non-discriminatory and that acts as a deterrent; prefers economic sanctions, including temporary suspensions of activity, to penal sanctions, but also considers that, as provided for in Article 17 of Regulation (EU) No 1380/2013, preference should be given to incentives for fishermen who comply with CFP rules in order to prevent infringements;

56.  Recalls that it is the Member States that have responsibility for sanctions and that the European Union is not legally able to impose standardisation thereof via Regulation (EC) No 1224/2009; points, however, to the importance of the points system in providing a framework for sanctions, and calls on the Member States to take the initiative for an extensive standardisation of sanctions, in particular penal ones, in order to put an end to the inequities existing at present;

57.  Takes the view that the by-catch system actually leads to objective and total liability for fishing operators, who are held to account even if they have acted in full compliance with the law and with the utmost diligence in order to avoid incidental catches;

58.  Holds that the general principles of European Union law are incompatible with a system in which an individual is objectively held to account over something which he has done neither negligently nor wilfully;

59.  Encourages the Commission and the Member States to consider the development of a harmonised minimum-level penalty, applicable to serious infringements and/or repeated illegal behaviour;

60.  Advocates imposing harsher sanctions for illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing;

61.  Calls for the creation of mechanisms to highlight good examples in order to increase compliance;

62.  Considers that the interpretation of some provisions, which lead to a penalty for exceeding the limit for incidental catches without even taking into account the absence of negligence or intent when engaging in lawful conduct, clearly conflicts with the fundamental principles of the European Union, which are enshrined in Article 6 TEU as primary law;

63.  Calls on the Commission to lay down guidelines that can be readily applied and understood in order to prevent unequal treatment between Member States, especially where, by reporting by-catches voluntarily, fishing operators show that they have acted in good faith and that the catches were completely fortuitous;

64.  Takes the view that helping actors invest in modern technology and equipment compatible from one Member State to the other and easily updatable will make controls fairer, more balanced and more efficient;

65.  Encourages the establishment of funding mechanisms to increase the use of low-cost technologies to enable voluntary control and increase monitoring and safety of fishermen, especially in small-scale artisanal fisheries;

66.  Stresses the importance of electronic technologies (electronic reporting and electronic monitoring systems) which represent a potentially cost-effective means to widen observation of activities at sea;

67.  States its opposition to any mandatory video surveillance system on board;

68.  Calls the attention of the Commission to the fact that the use of new earth-observation technologies, such as Sentinel satellites, would be of benefit in fisheries control;

69.  Recommends that equivalent controls be applied to imported fishery products, to shore fishing and to recreational fishing, as well as to the EU fleet fishing in non-EU waters and to non-EU countries’ fleets fishing in EU waters so as to ensure that the entire European market has an equivalent level of access; proposes that data exchange be made mandatory in connection with illegal, unreported and unregulated fisheries (IUU);

70.  Asserts that the available budgetary resources, particularly under the EMFF, should be realistic, consistent, and sufficient to pursue the objectives of controls;

71.  Recommends ensuring the continued existence, notably through EMFF funding, of fish auctions vital to territories, as these contribute to transparency and traceability, and facilitate fisheries control;

72.  Supports the inclusion of the impact of recreational fisheries in the revised Control Regulation;

73.  Requests the development of a monitoring, information-transfer and data-analysis system which is compatible throughout the Union; further requests that it fall to the Commission to set the framework for the exchange of data and information, in accordance with the data protection provisions in force; stresses that a transparent framework for the exchange of data and information is key to ascertaining whether a level playing field exists;

74.  Stresses that implementation of the landing obligation must be accompanied by appropriate flexibility with regard to its control, as the fundamental changes imposed on fisheries by this obligation should be taken into account, particularly as regards multi-species fisheries; reiterates the importance of progressively applying sanctions and the points system in the event of serious infringements linked to non-compliance with the landing obligation, in accordance with Regulation (EU) 2015/812 on implementation of the landing obligation;

75.  Stresses that information on whether and how Member States are sanctioning different types of infringements, and whether sanctions are applied consistently, regardless of a vessel's flag, must be made available to stakeholders and the public, while fully respecting the privacy of those involved;

o
o   o

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

(1) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2014)0083.
(2) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0307.
(3) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0222.


Improving the connection and accessibility of the transport infrastructure in Central and Eastern Europe
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European Parliament resolution of 25 October 2016 on improving the connection and accessibility of the transport infrastructure in Central and Eastern Europe (2015/2347(INI))
P8_TA(2016)0408A8-0282/2016

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its resolution of 9 September 2015 on the implementation of the 2011 White Paper on Transport: taking stock and the way forward towards sustainable mobility(1),

–  having regard to its resolution of 2 December 2015 on sustainable urban mobility(2),

–  having regard to its resolution of 10 May 2012 on the future of regional airports and air services in the EU(3),

–  having regard to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, in particular Article 170 thereof,

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 1315/2013(4),

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 1316/2013(5),

–  having regard to the report entitled ‘Road Safety in the European Union’, published by the Commission in March 2015(6),

–  having regard to the conclusions of the Danube Ministers Meeting of 3 December 2014 on effective waterway infrastructure rehabilitation and maintenance on the Danube and its navigable tributaries(7),

–  having regard to the Łańcut Declaration of 3 March 2016 on strengthening the cooperation in the area of transport in the Carpathians and continuation of the Via Carpatia development(8),

–  having regard to the Berlin Process and the 2014 Conference of Western Balkan States, the 2015 Vienna Summit and the 2016 Paris Conference,

–  having regard to the Action Plan for the European Union Strategy for the Danube Region (SEC(2010)1489),

–  having regard to the Action Plan for the European Union Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region (SWD(2015)0177),

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Transport and Tourism and the opinion of the Committee on Regional Development (A8-0282/2016),

A.  whereas the connectivity and accessibility of transport infrastructure have a major impact on the economic growth, economic competitiveness, employment and territorial cohesion of the EU and its regions; whereas Central and Eastern Europe is an essential part of the European single market with the potential to attract investment and contribute to economic growth in the entire EU, and all modes of transport, without exception, should contribute to enhancing competitiveness, intermodality and ecological transition in order to better serve the development of the single market;

B.  whereas improving the connectivity and accessibility of transport infrastructure in Central and Eastern Europe is a means of achieving the objectives of cohesion policy, especially as regards the desirable economic development of border regions;

C.  whereas the transport infrastructure in most regions of the central and eastern parts of the EU has remained underdeveloped compared with that of other European regions, and whereas the poorly developed transport infrastructure in Central and Eastern Europe exists side by side with the densest and most highly developed networks in the world, in the centre of Europe; whereas citizens expect that Member States, with the support of the EU, will work together on its improvement;

D.  whereas European Structural and Investment (ESI) Funds have been the main source of public transport investments in Central and Eastern Europe and whereas the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) constitutes an important funding instrument in further developing the transport infrastructure in the region as part of the TEN-T core network corridors; whereas lack of administrative capacity in national, regional and local administrations can lead to low absorption of EU funds and therefore Member States in Central and Eastern Europe, as in other parts of the EU, have not always maximised their use of EU funding for various reasons, including insufficient preparation and efficiency; whereas capacity building and technical assistance should be mobilised in order to boost the emergence of more good projects and support public administrations in the management of EU funding;

E.  whereas intensifying work on important projects such as the Via Carpatia and Rail Baltica, as well as developing the Orient/East-Med and the Baltic-Adriatic core network corridors, the Adriatic-Ionian Corridor and TRACECA, would provide an important stimulus for improving the connectivity and accessibility of the transport infrastructure in this part of the EU; whereas supporting closer communications between neighbouring third countries and Central and Eastern European EU Member States, including in the area of rail transport and infrastructure, will help improve rail links between the European Union, neighbouring countries and regions, and Asia;

F.  whereas well-developed cross-border transport connections are essential for regional competitiveness and for fostering expansion of SMEs in border areas and, with regard to public transport in particular, for supporting the social inclusion of economically vulnerable populations; whereas good transport connections, in particular rail connections, which cross national borders are still lacking in many Central and Eastern European Member States; whereas inefficient connections between different modes of transport and the lack of network facilities between basic and general transport mean that there is insufficient interoperability between different modes of transport, while such interoperability would not only reduce prices for passenger and freight transport and improve the flexibility of transport services, but also help to address ecological and social concerns;

G.  whereas coordinated improvements of transport infrastructure can have positive impacts on the environment and the energy efficiency of transport;

Horizontal aspects

1.  Stresses the need to enhance the connectivity and accessibility of the infrastructure for transport to, from and within the central and eastern parts of the EU, taking into account the needs of the economy and the principles of sustainable development; reiterates the TEN-T objectives of bridging missing links, removing bottlenecks and ensuring seamless connections for long-distance and regional transport, particularly in cross-border regions, for passengers and freight; considers that the use of EU funding must reflect the real investment needs for completing the TEN-T core network by 2030 in the region; notes that in addition to creating new infrastructure the EU needs to invest in modernising and completing current transport infrastructure;

2.  Underlines the importance of coordinated project planning by and among Member States, taking into account as far as possible national master transport plans and coordination with candidate countries, while conducting realistic assessments of transport needs, in line with the EU White Paper on transport and including cost-benefit analysis and stakeholder consultation; notes that the ex-ante conditionality of drafting master plans for transport has helped the Member States in prioritising their transport investments; considers that the responsible services of the Commission must assess and provide for a follow-up of those master plans in order to ensure that these plans also comply with EU objectives and priorities;

3.  Strongly advises making better use of existing policies and instruments for regional cooperation, such as European Territorial Cooperation (ETC), Interreg and especially European Groupings of Territorial Cooperation (EGTCs), to enhance cross-border transport between regions and remove bottlenecks;

4.  Considers that macro-regional EU strategies, such as those already established for the Baltic, Danube and Adriatic-Ionian regions and a possible future strategy for the Carpathian region and the Black Sea region, offer an innovative governance framework for tackling transport policy challenges which cannot be solved by Member States alone, so as to ensure better transport conditions;

5.  Welcomes the completion of the initial TEN-T core corridor work plans of 2015 and the adoption of the new maps further extending the TEN-T network to the countries of the Western Balkans; stresses that the implementation of the core network should also stimulate the development of the comprehensive network, in particular for connections that have cross-border relevance and have an impact on the consolidation of corridors; stresses the importance of urban nodes and their role in enhancing transport flows, for both passengers and freight;

6.  Stresses that the disparities in terms of infrastructure developments and quality between the Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) region and the rest of Europe can be reduced through a clear, concrete and integrated EU-wide strategy;

7.  Reminds the Commission of its obligation under the 2011 White Paper on transport until 2020, in which it adopted an implementation plan of 40 specific measures on developing a competitive and resource-efficient European transport system; recalls that one of its long-term goals is to shift 30 % of road transport over 300 km to rail or waterborne transport by 2030, and more than 50 % by 2050, thereby significantly reducing traffic in Central and Eastern Europe;

8.  Considers the development of transport hubs to be a key element for interlinking long-distance, regional and urban transport, thus promoting efficiency, intermodality and regional business development, bearing also in mind the vast opportunities digitalisation can provide to increase the performance of the whole logistic chain, including making data available for all stakeholders (sharing data) for the development of new services and practices;

9.  Emphasises that the construction and modernisation of road infrastructure in Central and Eastern Europe should take account of the needs of cyclists, where appropriate; emphasises the importance of developing cycling infrastructure in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, which will increase safety, reduce the number of road accident victims, and improve the quality of life and the health of people in the EU; underlines that the EuroVelo cycling network, particularly route No 13 (Iron Curtain Trail), the East Europe Route and the Atlantic – Black Sea Route, combined with railway connections, offers interesting potential for the tourism SMEs in the Central and Eastern European macro-regions, and should therefore be promoted;

10.  Points out that enhancing the coherence of the economic development of the Member States in the western, central and eastern parts of the EU requires large investments; underlines the need for better coordination among European and national authorities, especially with regard to the realisation of the core part of the TEN-T network; recalls, however, that the coordination required at European level must take account of the specific challenges in the Member States as well as the differences in their economies, social security systems and infrastructure quality, and demographic change; emphasises the potential of jobs in a better functioning railway sector; calls for the dismantling of any arbitrary barriers to the free movement of goods and services and insists that countries refrain from introducing such barriers;

11.  Invites the Member States and the Commission to ensure synergies and mutual complementarity of funding under the CEF, the ESI Funds, the Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance and instruments of the EIB and EBRD when implementing transport infrastructure projects in the central and eastern EU, in order to significantly improve their utilisation and diversification; highlights the need for exchange and dissemination of experience and knowledge for project preparation and utilisation when financed via different instruments (so-called ‘fund blending’); recalls the importance of using the means of the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) in a timely manner to advance commercially viable market-based projects; urges the Commission, the EIB and the European Investment Advisory Hub to intensify their work with the project promoters in Central and Eastern Europe to ensure that EFSI is used for quality infrastructure projects in innovative and sustainable transport modes; stresses the importance of EFSI in developing transport infrastructure projects of all types; notes that, so far, most of the infrastructure projects planned to be financed by EFSI are located in Western Europe; calls, therefore, on the Commission, in connection with the EFSI, to encourage investors to support project platforms focused on the Central-Eastern European transport infrastructure projects; emphasises how important cohesion policy funding is for the development of the transport infrastructure in countries in Central and Eastern Europe, the quality of which often lags far behind that of the transport networks in Western Europe, and with that in mind, calls for the necessary resources and level of funding to be guaranteed in the next multiannual financial framework;

12.  Recalls that EUR 11 305 500 000 were transferred from the Cohesion Fund to the CEF to be spent in the transport sector in Member States benefiting from Cohesion Fund support; underlines that the use of all this readily available funding should be given priority, especially in the context of the current absorption rate, over investment participation by third parties in cases where this investment is driven by political considerations rather than business interests;

13.  Calls on the Central and Eastern European Member States to ensure a high level of transparency and close scrutiny of the use of EU funds and to publish details of their allocation at the earliest opportunity;

14.  Draws attention to the possibilities that hybrid public-private partnership projects offer, by linking sources of infrastructure investment funding from EU grants (up to 85 % of the total eligible costs), public funding in the form of the co-financing that the beneficiary is required to provide, and money from private enterprise; emphasises, at the same time, that EU funds and budgetary resources are a factor in increasing the reliability of investments, as they reduce the risk to the private sector; points out that, at the same time, the private sector benefits from stable, long-term contracts that are not dependent on economic, political and budgetary fluctuations within countries; encourages the Member States, therefore, to make use of public-private partnerships where appropriate, which can be an advantageous way of investing in infrastructure, in particular as regards the implementation of complex infrastructure projects requiring extensive expenditure and generating a low level of return, on the one hand, and a desire to guarantee the effective provision of a high-quality public service, on the other hand; in this context, calls on the Commission to provide Member States in the CEE region with technical assistance, in light of the fact that some of these countries have little experience in working with financial instruments and with involving the private sector in large projects; also asks the Commission, in cooperation with the national, regional and local administrations, to present a regular overall overview of transport projects with the corresponding amounts co-financed through the different EU funds;

15.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to streamline and simplify procurement procedures, to issue guidelines for PPP, to ensure an adequate State aid framework and to simplify the permitting procedures, in order to facilitate the implementation of transport projects, in particular cross-border projects;

16.  Stresses that ESI Funds can be used in the development of the missing links in the border areas across Central and Eastern Europe, and in the consolidation of existing infrastructure, in order to ensure full access to the single market and to further promote economic growth; stresses in this regard that, as transport is key to regional development, adequate and properly funded local infrastructure is a basic and inevitable requirement in bringing about economic, social and territorial cohesion;

17.  Recalls that ESI Funds could also be used to increase the administrative capacity of the intermediate bodies and beneficiaries, which could otherwise undermine the EU’s support to transport investments in the region; notes that the JASPERS assistance mechanism in particular has proven helpful in this role thus far and might, therefore, apart from simply being continued, be considered also for a more permanent, institutional setting; points out that the technical assistance offered through the European Investment Advisory Hub should help public and private project promoters to create a stable pipeline of mature and well-structured projects in order to benefit from the financial instruments for a long period of time; recalls that European coordinators for core network corridors do have a political mandate, but do not have sufficient administrative capacities; calls on the Commission and the Member States to take steps to streamline the public management of such resources in order to avoid unnecessary red tape;

18.  Calls on the Commission and the EIB to cooperate better and coordinate their efforts to ensure a wide consultation with all stakeholders on the financing of transport infrastructure, the exchange of best practices, the promotion of financial instruments and the early mapping of potential projects, and to provide regular information to Parliament thereon; stresses that any steps concerning projects aimed at improving the connectivity and accessibility of transport infrastructure should be taken as a matter of the greatest urgency;

19.  Encourages regions and Member States to adopt or continue with measures to move towards more environmentally friendly transport options; encourages the use of the ESI Funds for projects aimed at generating demand for public and more sustainable transport options, e.g. through simplified cross-border ticketing and investment in electrical charging point systems;

20.  Stresses that equal attention should be paid to east-west and north-south transport corridors within the European TEN-T network, which can contribute to the economic development of the participating countries by creating new opportunities for employment in SMEs, start-ups, trade exchange, science, research and technologies, as well as to enhancing road safety and reducing transport costs; underlines the importance of multimodality and transport innovation for the development of trade and tourism, as well as for environment protection, and supports the integration of the inland waterways into the multimodal logistic chain, given that the connection between all transport modes would ensure the economic development of the area and would also reduce bottlenecks in the transport system;

21.  Welcomes the extension of the TEN-T network to the Western Balkans countries; calls on the Commission to ensure the integration of the Western Balkans accession countries into the TEN-T network and the cooperation on transport links with Ukraine, Moldova and other neighbouring countries, including those which are part of the TRACECA corridor; stresses the importance of adapting the financial criteria so that accession and candidate countries may benefit from EU financial instruments on a broader scale, especially for cross-border projects; stresses that investments, in particular through the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA) and the Western Balkans Investment Framework, and traffic optimisation measures should be coordinated at regional level to contribute to the extension of the core network in the region;

22.  Believes that improvements to the transport infrastructure and connectivity in the central and eastern EU are an important tool in strengthening the stability, economic development, regional cooperation and security of the Union’s eastern border and in the Western Balkans and in increasing the upward convergence of transport conditions in the internal market; underlines in this regard the importance of the Orient/East-Med corridor;

23.  Stresses the absolute necessity of preserving the Schengen area for an efficient, cost-effective transport system in the EU based on the free movement of goods, services and persons across open internal borders; recalls that in June 2011 the Commission had already urged all Member States to take the decision on enlarging the Schengen area to include Bulgaria and Romania;

24.  Stresses the need to improve connectivity and accessibility of the transport infrastructure so as to promote the development of the tourism sector in the EU; stresses that an expanded and efficient European transport network is an important asset for the tourism sector, helping make regions more appealing to tourists; takes the view that countries in Central and Eastern Europe have enormous potential as regards development of their tourism sectors, which could be better exploited with the further development of the transport infrastructure;

25.  Points out the favourable environmental and economic aspects of the synergies of interlinking different transport modes with a view to making better use of the inherent advantages of each;

26.  Stresses that the development of combined transport in Central and Eastern Europe requires improving the characteristics of freight rail corridors and supporting the construction of publicly accessible intermodal terminals;

27.  Sees enormous potential in international infrastructure projects such as the New Silk Road with regard to helping Central and Eastern Europe make better use of the potential of the global economy; takes the view that thanks to its favourable geographical location, Central and Eastern Europe can become an important logistics centre and communications hub between Europe and Asia;

28.  Emphasises that increasing transport accessibility in Central and Eastern Europe and the investment involved in doing so should provide an impetus for the development of local firms and businesses; points out that tendering procedures and the implementation of projects should be SME-friendly; calls on the Commission to pay more attention to the problem of the major contractors and subcontractors involved in projects engaging in unfair cooperation, the victims of which are very often the lowest-skilled workers;

29.  Maintains that there is a need to take into account the needs of those living in regions that are sparsely populated and difficult to access, such as mountain areas, in the planning of infrastructure solutions in Central and Eastern Europe; maintains that a lack of access to transport can lead to social exclusion and calls on the Commission to take into account the needs of those who use local transport routes; emphasises that the profitability of transport links cannot be the only criterion for assessing their usefulness;

Road transport

30.  Recalls that the development of cross-border roads is essential to facilitate cooperation between populations and enterprises in border regions; calls on the Member States to continue modernising roads, to continue developing missing links, to build safe and accessible parking lots and to strengthen regional and local connectivity to the TEN-T network, since joining up with TEN-T is an important basis for the economic growth of regional centres;

31.  Underlines the need to ensure fair road charging systems in the EU; points out that certain flexibilities should be kept for Member States, owing to their particular characteristics, when establishing such systems while safeguarding the technical interoperability at an appropriate level; maintains that those systems should be designed in cooperation with the business community and commercial road users, and that the latter should not be required to pay any additional or disproportionate charges that would render their business activities less profitable;

32.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to address the urgent need to enhance the road infrastructure network along the eastern border of the EU, starting in Estonia, passing through Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria and ending in Greece; considers that such efforts should build on the long-standing planning done already under the Via Carpatia project on which representatives of the countries concerned signed a declaration in Warsaw on 3 March 2016 on further cooperation on the development of the corridor and updating the route; takes the view that, with the construction of the Via Carpatia, outlying regions of the EU will have the opportunity of accelerated development and will be able to catch up more quickly with more developed areas of the EU; points out that the construction of the route will also stimulate investment and business growth, and improve security for the EU as a whole, in particular in the context of the armed conflict in Ukraine; believes that the possibility of opening the Rhine-Danube corridor to the north of the EU through the Via Carpatia should be exploited and believes that Via Carpatia should receive a proper budget allocation; calls therefore for the ‘Via Carpatia’ project to be incorporated into the TEN-T core network in order to ensure appropriate EU funding; encourages the Member States as well to set up financing for that project using every possible financial instrument, such as the Connecting Europe Facility and the European Fund for Strategic Investments;

33.  Reiterates that the quality of road infrastructure has a direct impact on road safety; considers, therefore, that road safety should also be assessed when constructing road infrastructure; is concerned that road fatalities and serious injuries remain relatively high in many Central and Eastern Member States; underlines that measures to improve road safety should be further promoted at Member State and EU level; considers that appropriate funding should be provided for infrastructure rehabilitation projects in Central and Eastern European Member States;

34.  Underlines that safety and sustainability of the transport sector are key priorities when developing infrastructure; calls therefore on the Commission and the Member States to further encourage digitalisation and automation in all modes of transport; calls for infrastructure investment projects to include transport solutions that reduce the risk of death or serious injury in road accidents, and for account to be taken of the needs of people living near routes with high volumes of traffic;

Rail transport

35.  Stresses the priority of constructing, modernising and maintaining railway lines for the coherent, sustainable growth of rail transport and cohesion in the central and eastern parts of the EU; emphasises that railways have an important role to play in reducing the climate impact, air pollution and road accidents and expects such efforts to have positive impacts on industrial development, freight logistics, the quality of public services and reliable passenger mobility; calls on the Member States to eliminate cross-border and national bottlenecks and to expand operational capacities with the aim of reaching the 2030 and 2050 modal shift targets laid down in the 2011 Transport White Paper;

36.  Stresses that some regions of Central and Eastern Europe have a significant rail network, which however urgently requires infrastructure modernisation in time to prevent future deterioration that might result in it ceasing to operate; criticises the underinvestment in cross-border railway lines and the low level of passenger rail services in many border areas; calls on the Member States to (re-)establish missing connections and to remove bottlenecks; suggests that the railway network should be scrutinised, using the planning methodology for the TEN-T comprehensive and core network, to identify possible further missing links – in particular cross-border links – both between EU Member States and with neighbouring non-Member States; encourages Member States to develop close and constructive cooperation to close such gaps and to improve territorial integration and cohesion; asks the Commission to provide effective financial support for all such efforts;

37.  Reiterates its support for the deployment of the European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS) on all TEN-T core network corridors; believes that the full and swift implementation of the ERTMS must be an absolute EU priority in order to create a fully interoperable, functioning, efficient and attractive European Railway Area capable of competing with other modes of transport;

38.  Calls on the Member States to adopt clear, long-term rail transport development strategies and to remove barriers to rail projects implemented using EU funding;

39.  Underlines the need to step up investment in improving the quality of the railways in order to make them more accessible and attractive in the fields of both passenger and freight transport and to increase their share of the modal split, in accordance with goal no 3 on shifting to other modes as formulated in the EU White Paper on Transport;

40.  Notes a lack of road-rail connections to and from ports; highlights that most airports in Eastern Europe are located close to the rail infrastructure and that integration is still technically possible; calls on the Commission to fully support the further integration of multimodal transport connections (road-railway-airport) in Central and Eastern Europe;

41.  Calls on the Commission to continue supporting investment in rolling stock in Central and Eastern European countries, as this will make it possible to restore the potential of rail within those countries’ public transport systems;

42.  Highlights that the sustainable development of a European rail transport infrastructure must not end with the mere construction of the network but has to encompass maintenance measures in order to be cost-efficient in the long run; considers that a significant proportion of the financial means should be dedicated to such measures given the importance of maintenance activities;

43.  Underlines the common benefits of the Rail Baltica link as one of the priority projects in the North Sea-Baltic Corridor and its significant strategic importance for all the Member States involved, as well as for the whole region from Finland (with the possible ‘Bothnian extension’), through Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and on to Germany, the Netherlands and southern Europe; welcomes the progress made in the construction and preparation of the Rail Baltica project and emphasises that good co-operation among the interested and involved countries is crucial for the project to move forward without any further delays and fall-backs, and to avoid any risk of failure to commit allocated financial resources to this project; stresses that if the European Commission’s rules are not respected the EU co-funding of around 85 % will be lost and future funding conditions will never be as favourable as they are now; urges the countries involved to recognise and to strengthen the role of the RB Rail Joint Venture as the optimal body for managing a cross-national project on such a scale, to submit joint applications for EU funding, to proceed with both joint and national public procurement, to co-ordinate work on the project and, finally, to demonstrate that they are able to co-operate;

44.  In view of the stagnating share of rail in the European freight and passenger transport markets, underlines the importance of the Shift2Rail initiative, especially in the field of freight transport, in order to increase competitiveness and efficiency; takes the view that there should also be investment in improving the quality of rail in the area of freight transport; welcomes joint international initiatives taken by the Member States in the region with a view to developing and modernising rail infrastructure, such as the creation of the new rail freight corridor No 11, the so-called Amber Corridor, linking commercial and industrial centres in Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and Slovenia by means of joint action in the allocation of traffic capacity for international freight trains; points out that such projects promote rail as a means of international freight transport, boost the competitiveness of rail transport and ensure that better use is made of existing international freight traffic capacity;

45.  Notes that there are many sources of funding available for the railway sector from various EU programmes; believes that the uptake and effective use of these funding sources is essential due to the fact that financial constraints put severe restrictions on the amount of public money that national governments are able to invest in railways;

46.  Draws attention to the supplements that are commonly used in Central and Eastern Europe in cross-border regional passenger rail transport, which are often imposed by rail companies as a part of international rail fares, resulting in a decrease in the attractiveness of using cross-border rail links;

47.  Stresses the need to ensure that the countries of Central and Eastern Europe are interconnected with the high-speed rail network in western Europe in order to increase the competitiveness of the rail transport sector and support economic growth in that region; calls on the Commission and the Member States to encourage cross-border projects for high-speed railway connections throughout the TEN-T corridors;

48.  Emphasises the need to support joint projects and investment with non-EU countries, paving the way for the complementary exploitation of the potential of rail transport corridors that have been modernised using EU funding, for example, in links between the EU and countries in Asia;

Inland waterways

49.  Highlights the importance of inland waterway transport as a cost-effective and sustainable means for multimodal transport and for logistics across the EU; considers it necessary therefore to modernise inland waterway transport infrastructure for carrying passengers or goods, and to improve interoperability with other forms of transport;

50.  Notes that Central and Eastern Europe has significant development potential as regards its inland waterways, as well as its river and sea ports; considers that this potential may only be exploited while showing due respect for the Union acquis on the protection of the environment, biodiversity and water, and that placing more emphasis on the use of ports and railways could help to support the goal of enhancing multimodal transport in the region;

51.  Welcomes the creation of the NAIADES programme, as well its continuation with NAIADES II up to 2020, and underlines the importance of having a European strategy and an Action Plan for inland waterways;

52.  Believes that exploiting multimodality in inland waterway ports is crucial for their economic potential; underlines the role of adequate last-mile access and rail connections with interconnecting rail infrastructure at inland waterway terminals as well as transport hubs in port catchment areas for attracting users;

53.  Underscores the role of the Danube River as the key transport waterway in the Danube macro-region; notes that the region’s potential for inland waterway transport ought to be further utilised and therefore recalls also the need for Member States to maintain the operability of inland waterways which are under their responsibility; invites the riparian states to ensure the continuous navigability of the Danube and to implement their master plan for fairway rehabilitation and maintenance endorsed in 2014, while in the meantime taking the environmental aspects into account and taking special care to preserve natural habitats, the environment, biodiversity and water, thereby conserving and promoting sustainable agriculture, fishing and tourism SMEs; emphasises that links between the Oder, the Elbe and the Danube could boost the transport and communication capacities of the entire region on the North-South axis, which would lead to the creation of jobs and the development of SMEs;

54.  Encourages the Member States to increase their efforts to upgrade and achieve class IV navigability of other inland waterway infrastructures, in particular river sections in the TEN-T core network; stresses that an important upgrading of the Elbe River is needed to allow full navigability, which is essential for the Orient/East-Med corridor; stresses the need to upgrade the Oder River to class IV navigability; highlights also the importance of international waterways E40 and E70 as regards improving the integration of Central and Eastern European countries into pan-European inland transport routes; emphasises that the establishment of good multimodal connections between those waterways and the Baltic-Adriatic core TEN-T corridor would be a significant boost to the investment potential of eastern regions in the EU;

Maritime ports and airports

55.  Underlines the potential for further developing attractive shipping to ports in the Baltic, Black, and Adriatic Seas in the context of the ‘Motorways of the Sea’ concept; highlights the importance of expanding capacities in the energy sector, including sustainable fuels for shipping, and of ensuring efficient railway connections to port hinterlands;

56.  Points out that sustainable port development in the Baltic, Adriatic and Black Seas must not be impeded by other undersea infrastructure; is concerned that pursuits on projects such as the North Stream may undermine and block investment in the region, in particular in the Baltic Region; insists that any undersea pipelines must respect draught requirements at port entrances;

57.  Considers that maritime ports and airports best serve the economic development of the Central and Eastern EU if they are hubs in an integrated multimodal transport system interconnected with a high-performance rail infrastructure;

58.  Highlights that the northern Adriatic ports must strengthen their cooperation through regional coordination for the common promotion of traffic flows for maritime trade in the North Adriatic and to fully integrate the Italian ports with those of Slovenia (Koper) and Croatia (Rijeka); calls on the Commission, in this regard, to include the port of Rijeka in the Baltic-Adriatic corridor in order to enable the full transport connection of northern Adriatic sea ports towards Central Europe and the Baltic Sea;

59.  Recalls that the Commission identified the issue of gaps in connectivity in the recently developed Aviation Strategy for Europe; notes, however, that the proposed solutions are of a limited potential and encourages the Commission to monitor air connectivity within the EU, especially in the CEE region, and to develop further proposals aimed at reducing the gaps in access to air transport services; believes that air links within this part of the EU need to be further developed as the connectivity of EU13 is 7,5 times lower than that of EU15(9); is concerned that while airport infrastructure in the region undergoes constant modernisation, the vast majority of new air routes are only oriented to the west; invites the Commission to analyse whether the relevant legislation is fit-for-purpose and, if necessary, to propose new initiatives to guarantee sufficient connectivity between the peripheral areas and the centre of Europe;

60.  Stresses that the region of Central and Eastern Europe has a lower number and poorer quality of air connections than the western part of the EU; points out that these connectivity gaps were identified by an independent analysis conducted at the request of the Commission;

61.  Calls on the Commission to examine air connectivity in and between Member States and to establish measures to improve air transport services in terms of quality of services for consumers;

62.  Notes the enormous potential that small and medium-sized airports have in terms of transport accessibility in Central and Eastern Europe, especially for business travellers and tourists; reiterates that in recent years many regional airports have been built and modernised in Central and Eastern Europe, but that their potential is not being sufficiently exploited owing to a lack of decent links between those airports and the major transport routes; highlights the need for these airports to be used more effectively via the building of new road and rail links;

63.  Recognises the diverse roles of regional and local airports in the development of regions in the Central and Eastern EU and in facilitating economic growth, trade, competitiveness, inclusive mobility and tourism, and barrier-free access for persons with a handicap as well as PRMs; stresses the contribution regional airports make to increasing the attractiveness of their regions; maintains that for any new facilities, traffic demand and potential must be duly assessed and use of EU funds strictly limited to economically viable and sustainable projects; stresses that financial support to develop existing capacities should be granted accordingly; takes the view that the role of regional airports will grow if they have modern infrastructure and a network of transport links (above all rail links) that correlate well with the region and with the country, making it possible to reach the airport quickly from various parts of nearby cities or towns; stresses the importance of the development of existing and new regional and local airports which contribute to economic growth, including in the tourism sector, in underdeveloped and isolated regions through improving accessibility and connectivity, making these regions more attractive for investment and competitiveness, thus accelerating socio-economic development; suggests that the Commission considers the development of a network of airports at regional level so as to ensure better connectivity also between and within Member States;

o
o   o

64.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council and the Commission, and to the Committee of the Regions.

(1) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0310.
(2) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0423.
(3) OJ C 261 E, 10.9.2013, p. 1.
(4) OJ L 348, 20.12.2013, p. 1.
(5) OJ L 348, 20.12.2013, p. 129.
(6) http://ec.europa.eu/transport/road_safety/pdf/vademecum_2015.pdf
(7) http://ec.europa.eu/transport/modes/inland/news/2014-12-04-danube-ministrial-meeting/conclusions.pdf
(8) http://mib.gov.pl/files/0/1796967/deklaracjalancucka.pdf
(9)Commission Staff Working Document accompanying the Communication from the Commission entitled ‘An Aviation Strategy for Europe’ (SWD(2015)0261).


EU mechanism on democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights
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Resolution
Annex
European Parliament resolution of 25 October 2016 with recommendations to the Commission on the establishment of an EU mechanism on democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights (2015/2254(INL))
P8_TA(2016)0409A8-0283/2016

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to Article 225 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

–  having regard to the preamble to the Treaty on European Union (TEU), in particular the second, fourth, fifth and seventh recitals thereof,

–  having regard, in particular, to Article 2, Article 3(1), the second subparagraph of Article 3(3) and Articles 6,7 and 11 TEU,

–  having regard to the articles of the TFEU relating to the respect for, and the promotion and protection of, democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights in the Union, including Articles 70, 258, 259, 260, 263 and 265 thereof,

–  having regard to Article 4(3) and Article 5 TEU, Article 295 TFEU, and Protocols No 1 on the role of national parliaments in the European Union and No 2 on the application of the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality, annexed to the TEU and to the TFEU,

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

–  having regard to the Council of Europe’s European Social Charter, in particular Article E thereof,

–  having regard to the Copenhagen criteria, and the body of Union rules that a candidate country must fulfil if it wishes to join the Union (the acquis), in particular Chapters 23 and 24 thereof,

–  having regard to the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECHR), the case law of the European Court of Human Rights, the conventions, recommendations, resolutions and reports of the Parliamentary Assembly, the Committee of Ministers, the Human Rights Commissioner and the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe,

–  having regard to the Council of Europe’s Recommendation No R (2000)21 of 25 October 2000 and the United Nations Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers of 1990 which call upon states to guarantee a free and independent legal profession,

–  having regard to the Memorandum of Understanding between the Council of Europe and the European Union of 23 May 2007,

–  having regard to the Council of Europe’s Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities,

–  having regard to the Council of Europe’s European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages,

–  having regard to the Rule of Law Checklist adopted by the Venice Commission at its 106th Plenary Session on 18 March 2016,

–  having regard to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,

–  having regard to the UN treaties on the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms and the case-law of the UN treaty bodies,

–  having regard to the UN Convention on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women,

–  having regard to the UN Approach to Rule of Law Assistance of April 2008,

–  having regard to the UN Sustainable Development Goals, in particular Goal 16,

–  having regard to the COSAC Twenty-fifth Bi-annual Report: Developments in European Union Procedures and Practices Relevant to Parliamentary Scrutiny of 18 May 2016,

–  having regard to the publications of the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA), including the proposed European Fundamental Rights Information System (EFRIS) in its paper of 31 December 2013 entitled 'Fundamental rights in the future of the European Union's Justice and Home Affairs',

–  having regard to the FRA Opinion of 8 April 2016 on the development of an integrated tool of objective fundamental rights indicators able to measure compliance with the shared values listed in Article 2 TEU based on existing sources of information,

–  having regard to the letter of 6 March 2013 from the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Germany, Denmark, Finland and the Netherlands to the Commission President,

–  having regard to the Italian Presidency note of 15 November 2014 on 'Ensuring respect for the rule of law in the European Union',

–  having regard to the conclusions of the Council and the Member States meeting within the Council of 16 December 2014 on ensuring respect for the rule of law,

–  having regard to the Council’s first and second rule of law dialogue during the Luxembourg and Dutch Presidency of 17 November 2015 and 24 May 2016,

–  having regard to the Council’s 'Guidelines on methodological steps to be taken to check fundamental rights compatibility at the Council preparatory bodies' of 19 December 2014,

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 19 October 2010 entitled ‘Strategy for the effective implementation of the Charter of Fundamental Rights by the European Union’,

–  having regard to the Commission staff working paper of 6 May 2011 entitled 'Operational Guidance on taking account of Fundamental Rights in Commission Impact Assessments',

–  having regard to the Commission’s existing monitoring mechanism and periodic assessment tools, including the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism, the Justice Scoreboard, Anti-Corruption reports and the Media Monitor,

–  having regard to Commission’s Annual Colloquium on Fundamental Rights,

–  having regard to the Commission Communication of 11 March 2014 entitled ‘A new EU Framework to strengthen the Rule of Law’ (COM(2014)0158),

–  having regard to the Interinstitutional Agreement on Better Law-Making of 13 April 2016,

–  having regard to the Council of Europe’s ‘Code of Good Practice for Civil Participation in the Decision-Making Process’ of 1 October 2009,

–  having regard to the 2016 EU Justice Scoreboard and the Commission Report of 15 July 2016 entitled ‘Monitoring the application of European Union law 2015 Annual Report’,

–  having regard to the assessment of Parliament’s European Added Value Unit of April 2016 entitled ‘An EU mechanism on democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights’,

–  having regard to Rules 46 and 52 of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs and the opinion of the Committee on Constitutional Affairs (A8-0283/2016),

A.  whereas the Union is founded on the values of respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities, enshrined in its core principles and objectives in the first articles of the TEU, and in the criteria for Union membership;

B.  whereas the Union institutions and bodies and the Member States should uphold and set an example by genuinely fulfilling their obligations and move towards a shared culture of the rule of law as universal value in the 28 Member States and in the Union institutions to be applied by all concerned even-handedly, while the full respect and promotion of those principles is the essential prerequisite for the legitimacy of the European project as a whole and the basic condition for building citizens' trust in the Union;

C.  whereas, according to Opinion 2/13 of the European Court of Justice of the European Union (Court of Justice) of 18 December 2014(1) and the relevant case-law of the Court of Justice, fundamental rights recognised by the Charter are at the heart of the legal structure of the Union and respect for those rights is a condition of the lawfulness of Union acts, so that measures incompatible with those rights are not acceptable in the Union;

D.  whereas, in accordance with Article 2, Article 3(1) and Article 7 TEU, the Union has the possibility to act in order to protect its ‘constitutional core’ and the common values on which it was founded;

E.  whereas the rule of law is the backbone of European liberal democracy and is one of the founding principles of the Union stemming from the common constitutional traditions of all Member States;

F.  whereas all Member States, the institutions, bodies, offices and agencies of the Union and candidate countries are obliged to respect, protect and promote those principles and values, and they have the duty of sincere cooperation;

G.  whereas in accordance, inter alia, with Protocol No 24 on asylum for nationals of Member States of the European Union annexed to the TEU and to the TFEU, recital 10 of Council Framework Decision 2002/584/JHA(2) and the case-law of the European Court of Human Rights (such as M.S.S. v. Belgium and Greece, judgment of 21 January 2011) and the Court of Justice (such as N.S. and M.E., judgment of 21 December 2011(3) and Aranyosi and Căldăraru, judgment of 5 April 2016 (4)), Member States, including the national courts, have an obligation to refrain from implementing Union law vis-à-vis other Member States in the event that there is a clear risk of a serious breach or a serious and persistent breach of the rule of law and fundamental rights in those other Member States;

H.  whereas respect for the rule of law within the Union is a prerequisite for the protection of fundamental rights, as well as for upholding all rights and obligations deriving from the Treaties and from international law, and is a precondition for mutual recognition and trust as well as a key factor for policy areas such as the internal market, growth and employment, combatting discrimination, social inclusion, police and justice cooperation, the Schengen area, and asylum and migration policies, and as a consequence, the erosion of the rule of law, democratic governance and fundamental rights are a serious threat to the stability of the Union, the monetary union and the common area of freedom security and justice and prosperity of the Union;

I.  whereas the way in which the rule of law is implemented in the Member States plays a key role in ensuring mutual trust among Member States and in their legal systems and it is therefore of vital importance to establish an area of freedom, security and justice without internal borders;

J.  whereas the Union is based on a common set of core values and principles and whereas the definition of those core values and principles, which allow democracy to flourish and fundamental rights to be protected, is a living and permanent process, and while those values and principles may evolve over time, they must be protected and should be the basis for political decisions, independent of different political majorities and resist temporary changes, hence an independent, impartial judiciary with the responsibility to interpret them plays a vital role;

K.  whereas Union citizens and residents are not always sufficiently aware of all their rights as Europeans; whereas they should be in a position to be able to shape the Union’s core values and principles together and above all take ownership of them;

L.  whereas, in accordance with Article 4(2) TEU, the Union is to respect the equality of Member States before the Treaties and whereas respect for cultural diversity and national traditions, within and among Member States, should not impede the uniform and high level of protection of democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights throughout the Union; whereas the principle of equality and non-discrimination is a universal principle and it represents the common thread of all Union's policies and activities;

M.  whereas safeguarding the rule of law and effective independent justice systems play a key role in creating a positive political environment able to regain public trust in institutions, and hence also for an investment-friendly environment and for providing greater regulatory predictability and sustainable growth;

N.  whereas the improvement of the effectiveness of justice systems in Member States is a key aspect of the rule of law and is essential for ensuring equal treatment, sanctioning government abuses and preventing arbitrariness, and is considered by the Commission to be a key component for structural reforms in the European Semester, the annual cycle for the coordination of economic policies at Union level; whereas an independent legal profession is one of the cornerstones of a free and democratic society;

O.  whereas the UN Guidance Note of the Secretary-General entitled "UN Approach to the Rule of Law Assistance" recommends that the rule of law should include a public and civil society that contributes to strengthening the rule of law and holding public officials and institutions accountable;

P.  whereas the European Parliamentary Research Service study entitled “The Cost of Non-Europe in the area of Organised crime and Corruption” estimates that integrating existing Union monitoring mechanisms, such as the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism, the Justice Scoreboard and the Anti-Corruption reports, into a broader rule of law monitoring framework would result in annual cost savings of EUR 70 billion;

Q.  whereas the Union’s democratic and legal governance does not have as solid a legislative basis as its economic governance, as the Union does not display the same intransigence and firmness in demanding respect for its core values as it does when making sure its economic and fiscal rules are implemented properly;

R.  whereas the failure of a candidate country to meet the required standards, values and democratic principles results in a delay of accession to the Union, until it fully meets those standards, while the failure of a Member State or an institution of the Union to meet those same standards has little consequence in practice;

S.  whereas the obligations incumbent on candidate countries under the Copenhagen criteria continue to apply to the Member States after joining the Union by virtue of Article 2 TEU and the principle of sincere cooperation established in Article 4 TEU, and whereas not only the newer but also the older Member States should therefore be assessed on a regular basis in order to verify that their laws and practices continue to comply with those criteria and the common values on which the Union is founded;

T.  whereas approximately 8 % of Union citizens belong to a national minority and approximately 10 % speak a regional or minority language; whereas there is no Union legal framework to guarantee their rights as a minority; whereas the establishment of an effective mechanism to monitor their rights in the Union is of outmost importance; whereas there is a difference between the protection of minorities and anti-discrimination policies; whereas equal treatment is a basic right, not a privilege, of all citizens;

U.  whereas coherence and consistency of internal and external democracy, rule of law and fundamental rights policy is key to the credibility of the Union;

V.  whereas there are few instruments to ensure that legislative and executive policy decisions by the institutions of the Union comply with the Union’s core principles and values;

W.  whereas the Court of Justice has recently issued various rulings invalidating certain Union law, Commission decisions or legislative practices, for being in breach of the Charter or contrary to Treaty principles on transparency and access to documents, but in several cases the Union institutions have failed to comply fully with the letter and the spirit of the rulings;

X.  whereas the accession of the Union to the ECHR is a Treaty obligation pursuant to Article 6(2) TEU;

Y.  whereas the promotion and protection of pluralistic democracy, the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, the rule of law, political and legal cooperation, social cohesion and cultural interchange lies at the heart of cooperation between the Council of Europe and the Union;

Z.  whereas the need for more effective and binding mechanisms to ensure the full application of Treaty principles and values has been recognised by the Council and the Commission and have been put into practice by the creation of the Council’s Rule of Law Dialogue and the Commission’s EU Framework to strengthen the Rule of Law;

AA.  whereas the Union has at its disposal a multitude of instruments and processes for ensuring full and proper application of Treaty principles and values but there is no swift, effective response coming from the Union institutions; whereas the existing instruments should be enforced, evaluated and complemented in the framework of a rule of law mechanism to be adequate and effective, and not perceived as politically motivated or arbitrary and unfairly targeting certain countries;

AB.  whereas the number of Court of Justice judgments citing the Charter has risen from 43 in 2011 to 210 in 2014;

AC.  whereas coherence between the institutions and Member States in compliance with democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights will provide obvious benefits, such as less costly court cases, better clarity for Union citizens and their rights, and more certainty for Member States in terms of implementation;

AD.  whereas some Member State governments deny that upholding Union principles and values is a Treaty obligation, or that the Union has the authority to ensure compliance;

AE.  whereas in situations where a Member State no longer guarantees respect for democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights, or in cases of a breach of the rule of law, the Union and its Member States have a duty to protect the integrity and application of the Treaties and to protect the rights of everyone within its jurisdiction;

AF.  whereas civil society plays an important role in building and strengthening democracy, monitoring, and restraining the power of the state and promoting good governance, transparency, effectiveness, openness, responsiveness and accountability;

AG.  whereas the subsidiarity principle cannot be invoked to reject any Union intervention to ensure Member State compliance with Treaty principles and values;

AH.  whereas action by the Union to ensure that the Member States and institutions abide by the values on which it is founded, and from which Europeans' rights are derived, is an essential condition for them to be part of the European project;

AI.  whereas the ongoing European integration process and recent developments in some Member States have shown that the failure to observe the rule of law and fundamental values is not being properly prevented and that it is necessary to revise and integrate existing mechanisms and develop an effective mechanism to close remaining gaps and to ensure Treaty principles and values are respected, protected and promoted throughout the Union;

AJ.  whereas a new EU Pact for democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights (EU Pact for DRF) should be established and whereas the EU Pact for DRF should be evidence based; objective and not subject to outside influence, in particular political influence, non-discriminatory and assessing on an equal footing; respecting the principle of subsidiarity, necessity and proportionality; addressing both Member States and institutions of the Union; and based on a graduated approach, including both a preventative and corrective arm;

AK.  whereas the EU Pact for DRF should aim to offer a single, coherent framework, building on and incorporating existing instruments and mechanisms, and closing any remaining gaps;

AL.  whereas the establishment of an EU Pact for democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights should be without prejudice to the direct application of Article 7(1) and (2) TEU;

1.  Recommends, until a possible Treaty change, the establishment of a comprehensive Union mechanism for democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights which would include all relevant stakeholders and therefore requests that the Commission submit, by September 2017, on the basis of Article 295 TFEU, a proposal for the conclusion of a Union Pact for democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights (EU Pact for DRF) in the form of an interinstitutional agreement laying down arrangements facilitating the cooperation between the Union institutions and the Member States in the framework of Article 7 TEU, integrating, aligning and complementing existing mechanisms, following the detailed recommendations set out in the Annex and including the option of joining the EU Pact for DRF for all Union institutions and bodies that wish to do so;

2.  Invites the Commission to engage in a meaningful dialogue with civil society, ensuring that its contribution and role is taken into account in its proposal for an interinstitutional agreement;

3.  Recommends, in particular, that the EU Pact for DRF include preventative and corrective elements, and address all Member States equally as well as the three main Union institutions, while respecting the principles of subsidiarity, necessity and proportionality;

4.   Considers that while the main purpose of the EU Pact for DRF would be to prevent and correct breaches of Union values, it should also contain possible sanctions that can act as effective deterrence;

5.  Believes that the conclusions and opinions of the FRA as well as the case-law of the Court of Justice constitute a good basis for the interpretation of Article 2 TEU and the scope of the rights enshrined in the Charter;

6.  Recalls that the Commission, as guardian of the Treaties, has the duty to monitor and assess the correct implementation of the Union law and the respect of the principles and objectives enshrined in the Treaties by the Member States and by all the Union institutions and bodies; recommends, therefore, to take into consideration this task of the Commission in assessing its compliance with democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights, within the Policy Cycle for democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights (DRF Policy Cycle);

7.  Calls on the Commission to bundle, from 2018 onwards, its relevant annual thematic reports as well as the outcome of existing monitoring mechanisms and periodic assessment tools, to be presented all on the same day feeding into the DRF Policy Cycle;

8.  Considers it to be important to promote a continuous dialogue and to work towards a stronger consensus between the Union and its Member States with the aim of promoting and protecting democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights to safeguard the shared values as enshrined in the Treaties and the Charter in a fully transparent, objective manner; is convinced that there cannot be any compromise regarding the fundamental rights and values enshrined in the Treaties and the Charter;

9.  Emphasises the key role that Parliament and the national parliaments should play in measuring the progress of, and monitoring compliance with, the shared values of the Union, as enshrined in Article 2 TEU; notes Parliament’s key role in maintaining the necessary continuous debate within the common Union consensus on democracy, rule of law and fundamental rights taking into account the changes in our society; considers that the implementation of those values and principles must also be based on effective monitoring of respect for the fundamental rights guaranteed in the Charter;

10.  Recommends that any inter-parliamentary debate on democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights include civil society and considers that civic participation and strength of civil society be taken into consideration as an indicator for democracy;

11.  Calls on the Commission to present, by June 2017, a new draft agreement for the accession of the Union to the ECHR, in order to comply with the obligation enshrined in Article 6 TEU, addressing Opinion 2/13 of the Court of Justice; furthermore, calls on the Council of Europe to open the signature of the European Social Charter to third parties, so that the Commission can initiate negotiations for accession thereto by the Union;

12.  Invites the European Ombudsman, taking into account the views of society, to highlight and consolidate within a dedicated chapter, as part of its annual report, cases, recommendations and decisions related to citizens’ fundamental rights, as well as the principles of democracy and the rule of law; invites the Commission to analyse those specific recommendations;

13.  Calls on the Commission to take measures to ensure, in line with Article 47 of the Charter, general access to legal assistance to individuals and organisations litigating cases relating to violations of democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights by national governments or the Union institutions, where necessary complementing national schemes and the Directive by the European Parliament and by the Council on legal aid for suspects and accused persons in criminal proceedings and for requested persons in European arrest warrant proceedings;

14.  Welcomes reform of the Court of Justice by way of which the number of judges at the Court is gradually being increased in order to handle the workload and reduce the duration of procedures;

15.  Recommends that an expert panel on democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights (DRF Expert Panel), provided for in the interinstitutional agreement, also undertake an assessment of access to justice at Union level, including aspects such as independence and impartiality of courts and judges, an independent legal profession, legal standing rules, duration and cost of litigation, adequacy and effectiveness of the legal aid system, as well as the existence of the necessary funds for it, implementation of court rulings, scope of judicial control and redress available to citizens, and options for cross-border collective redress; considers in this connection that there should be focus on Article 298(1) TFEU and the right of Union citizens to have an open, efficient and independent European administration;

16.  Calls on the Commission to partner with civil society to develop and implement an awareness raising campaign, to enable Union citizens and residents to take full ownership of their rights deriving from the Treaties and from the Charter (e.g. freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and the right to vote), providing information about citizens' rights to judicial redress and litigation routes in cases relating to violations of democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights by national governments or Union institutions;

17.  Calls for the setting up of an endowment for democracy grant-giving organisation that supports local actors promoting democracy, rule of law and fundamental rights within the Union;

18.  Points out that if the Union lays down requirements in its international agreements to protect and promote human rights, then it must likewise ensure that the institutions and all Member States comply with the rule of law and respect fundamental rights;

19.   Recommends furthermore that the EU Pact for DRF include the regular monitoring of the compatibility of the international agreements ratified by the Member States and the Union with Union primary and secondary law;

20.  Considers, furthermore, that if in the future Treaty revision would be considered, the following changes may be provided for:

   Providing for Article 2 TEU and the Charter to become a legal basis for legislative measures to be adopted under the ordinary legislative procedure;
   Enabling national courts under Article 2 TEU and the Charter to bring before the Court of Justice proceedings relating to the legality of Member States' actions;
   Reviewing Article 7 TEU in order to provide for relevant and applicable sanctions against any Member State, identifying the rights of Member States at fault (in addition to Council voting rights) that may be suspended, for example financial sanctions or the suspension of Union funding;
   Making it possible for Union legislation, after its adoption and before its implementation, to be referred to the Court of Justice by one-third of the Members of Parliament;
   Enabling natural and legal persons who are directly and individually affected by an action to bring actions before the Court of Justice for alleged violations of the Charter either by the Union institutions or by a Member State, by amending Articles 258 and 259 TFEU;
   Abolishing Article 51 of the Charter, and converting the Charter into a Union Bill of Rights;
   Reviewing the unanimity requirement in areas relating to respect for and protection and promotion of fundamental rights, such as equality and non-discrimination;

21.  Confirms that the recommendations respect fundamental rights and the principle of subsidiarity;

22.  Considers that any financial implications of the requested proposals for the budget of the Union should be covered by the existing budgetary allocations; stresses that both for the Union and its Member States, as well as for citizens, the adoption and implementation of those proposals could lead to substantial cost and time savings, could foster mutual confidence in and recognition of Member States and the Union’s decisions and actions, and could thus be beneficial both in economic and social terms;

23.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution and the accompanying detailed recommendations to the Commission and the Council, and to the parliaments and governments of the Member States, as well as to the Committee of the Regions for distribution to subnational parliaments and councils.

ANNEX

Detailed recommendations for a draft Inter-institutional Agreement on arrangements concerning monitoring and follow up procedures on the situation of Democracy, the Rule of Law and Fundamental Rights in the Member States and EU institutions

DRAFT INTERINSTITUTIONAL AGREEMENT

EUROPEAN UNION PACT ON DEMOCRACY, THE RULE OF LAW AND FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS

The European Parliament, the Council of the European Union and the European Commission:

Having regard to the preamble to the Treaty on European Union (TEU), in particular the second, fourth, fifth and seventh recitals thereof,

Having regard, in particular, to Article 2, Article 3(1), the second subparagraph of Article 3(3) and Articles 6, 7 and 11 TEU,

Having regard to the articles of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) relating to the respect for, and the promotion and protection of, democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights in the Union, including Articles 70, 258, 259, 260, 263 and 265 thereof,

Having regard to Article 4(3) and Article 5 TEU, Article 295 TFEU and Protocols No 1 on the role of national parliaments in the European Union and No 2 on the application of the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality, annexed to the TEU and to the TFEU,

Having regard to the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (the Charter),

Having regard to the Council of Europe’s European Social Charter, in particular Article E thereof, on non-discrimination,

Having regard to the Copenhagen criteria, and the body of Union rules that a candidate country must fulfil if it wishes to join the Union (the acquis), in particular Chapters 23 and 24 thereof,

Having regard to the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECHR), the case-law of the European Court of Human Rights, the conventions, recommendations, resolutions and reports of the Parliamentary Assembly, the Committee of Ministers, the Human Rights Commissioner and the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe,

Having regard to the Rule of Law Checklist adopted by the Venice Commission at its 106th Plenary Session of 18 March 2016,

Having regard to the Memorandum of Understanding between the Council of Europe and the European Union of 23 May 2007,

Having regard to the Council of Europe’s Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities,

Having regard to the Council of Europe’s European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages,

Having regard to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,

Having regard to the UN treaties on the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms and the case-law of the UN treaty bodies,

Having regard to the publications of the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA), including the proposed European Fundamental Rights Information System (EFRIS) in its paper of 31 December 2013 entitled 'Fundamental rights in the future of the European Union's Justice and Home Affairs',

Having regard to the UN Approach to Rule of Law Assistance of April 2008,

Having regard to the UN Sustainable Development Goals, in particular Goal 16,

Having regard to the COSAC Twenty-fifth Bi-annual Report: Developments in European Union Procedures and Practices Relevant to Parliamentary Scrutiny of 18 May 2016,

Having regard to the letter of 6 March 2013 from the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Germany, Denmark, Finland and the Netherlands to the Commission President,

Having regard to the FRA Opinion of 8 April 2016 on the development of an integrated tool of objective fundamental rights indicators able to measure compliance with the shared values listed in Article 2 TEU based on existing sources of information,

Having regard to the Italian Presidency note on 'Ensuring respect for the rule of law in the European Union' of 15 November 2014,

Having regard to the conclusions of the Council and the Member States meeting within the Council of 16 December 2014 on ensuring respect for the rule of law,

Having regard to the Council’s 'Guidelines on methodological steps to be taken to check fundamental rights compatibility at the Council preparatory bodies' of 19 December 2014,

Having regard to the Council’s first and second rule of law dialogue during the Luxembourg and Dutch Presidency of 17 November 2015 and 24 May 2016,

Having regard to the Commission’s existing monitoring mechanism and periodic assessment tools, including the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism, the Justice Scoreboard, Anti-Corruption reports and the Media Monitor,

Having regard to the Commission communication of 19 October 2010 entitled ‘Strategy for the effective implementation of the Charter of Fundamental Rights by the European Union’,

Having regard to the Commission’s Staff Working Paper of 6 May 2011 entitled ‘Operational Guidance on taking account of Fundamental rights in Commission Impact Assessments',

Having regard to the Commission Communication of 19 March 2014 entitled ‘A new EU Framework to strengthen the Rule of Law’,

Having regard to the Commission's Annual Colloquium on Fundamental Rights,

Having regard to the Inter-institutional Agreement on Better Law-Making of 13 April 2016,

Having regard to the resolution of the European Parliament of 27 February 2014 on the situation of fundamental rights in the European Union (2012)(5),

Having regard to the resolution of the European Parliament of 8 September 2015 on the situation of fundamental rights in the European Union (2013-2014)(6),

(1)  Whereas there is a need for a democracy, rule of law and fundamental rights mechanism that is objective, impartial, evidence-based and applied equally and fairly to all Member States as well as to the institutions of the Union and that includes both a preventative and a corrective dimension.

(2)  Whereas the primary objective of such a mechanism should be to prevent violations and non-compliance with democracy, rule of law and fundamental rights, while at the same time providing the tools needed to render both the preventative and corrective arms of Article 7 TEU, as well as the other instruments provided for in the Treaties, operational in practice.

(3)  Whereas the unnecessary creation of new structures or duplication should be avoided and integration and incorporation of existing instruments is to be preferred.

(4)  Whereas elaborating definitions, standards and benchmarks regarding democracy, rule of law and fundamental rights is not a one-off decision but, rather, a permanent and interactive process based on broad public debate and consultation, regular review and the sharing of best practices.

(5)  Whereas only a mechanism that has the broad support of Union citizens and allows them to take ownership of the process can be effective.

(6)  Whereas Member States are primarily responsible for upholding common standards but, when they fail to do so, the Union has a duty to intervene to protect its constitutional core and ensure that the values laid down in Article 2 TEU and in the Charter are guaranteed for all Union citizens and residents, throughout the territory of the Union.

(7)  Whereas it is important that all levels of government work closely together on the basis of their competences and responsibilities in order to identify possible systemic threats to the rule of law at an early stage, and to improve the protection of the rule of law.

(8)  Whereas there are several instruments for addressing the risk of a serious breach of Union values but clear and objective benchmarks need to be developed for those instruments to be sufficiently strong and dissuasive to prevent infringements of the rule of law and fundamental rights; whereas the Union has no legally binding mechanism in place to monitor regularly compliance of the Member States and Union institutions with the Union values and fundamental rights.

(9)  Whereas, in accordance with Art 295 TFEU, this inter-institutional agreement lays down arrangements only for the facilitation of cooperation between the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission and, in accordance with Article 13(2) TEU, those institutions are to act within the limits of the powers conferred on them by the Treaties, and in conformity with the procedures, conditions and objectives set out in them; whereas this inter-institutional agreement is without prejudice to the prerogatives of the Court of Justice in the authentic interpretation of Union law,

HAVE AGREED AS FOLLOWS

Article 1

The core values and founding principles of the Union, namely democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights, shall be upheld throughout the Union in a Union Pact on Democracy, the Rule of Law and Fundamental Rights (EU Pact for DRF), which provides for the definition, elaboration, monitoring and enforcement of those values and principles, and which addresses both the Member States and the Union institutions.

Article 2

The EU Pact for DRF shall consist of:

–  an annual report on democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights (European DRF Report) with country-specific recommendations incorporating the reporting done by the FRA, the Council of Europe, and other relevant authorities in the field,

–  an annual inter-parliamentary debate on the basis of the European DRF Report,

–  arrangements for remedying possible risks and breaches, as provided for by the Treaties, including the activation of the preventative or corrective arms of Article 7 TEU,

–  a policy cycle for democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights (DRF Policy Cycle) within the Union institutions.

Article 3

The EU Pact for DRF shall be expanded to incorporate the Commission's Rule of Law Framework and the Council's Rule of Law Dialogue into a single Union instrument.

Article 4

The European DRF Report on the state of democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights in the Member States shall be drawn up by the Commission, in consultation with the panel of independent experts (DRF Expert Panel) referred to in Article 8. The Commission shall transmit the European DRF Report to the European Parliament, to the Council and to the national parliaments. The European DRF Report shall be made available to the public.

The European DRF Report shall contain a general part and country-specific recommendations.

If the Commission fails to adopt, on time, the European DRF Report, including country-specific recommendations the relevant European Parliament committee may formally call upon the Commission to provide an explanation for the delay and to adopt it forthwith so as to avoid further delay.

Article 5

The European DRF Report shall incorporate and complement existing instruments, including the Justice Scoreboard, the Media Pluralism Monitor, the anti-corruption report and peer evaluation procedures based on Article 70 TFEU and replace the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism for Bulgaria and Romania.

Article 6

The European DRF Report shall be drawn up using a variety of sources and the existing tools for assessment, reporting and monitoring of Member States’ activities, including:

–  contributions from the Member States authorities regarding respect for democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights,

–  the FRA, in particular the EFRIS instrument;

–  other specialised agencies of the Union, in particular the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS), the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE), the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions (Eurofound), and Eurostat,

–  experts, academics, civil society organisations, professional and sectoral associations of, for example, judges, lawyers, and journalists;

–  existing indices and benchmarks developed by international organisations and NGOs;

–  the Council of Europe, in particular the Venice Commission, the Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) and the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe, and the European Commission for the Efficiency of Justice (CEPEJ);

–  international organisations such as the United Nations, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD);

–  the case-law of the Court of Justice and of the European Court of Human Rights and of other international courts, tribunals and treaty bodies;

–  all resolutions or other relevant contributions by the European Parliament, including its annual report on the human rights situation in the Union;

–  contributions by the Union institutions.

All the contributions by the sources referred to in this Article as well as the draft European DRF Report prepared by the DRF Expert Panel, including the country-specific recommendations, shall be made available to the public on the website of the Commission.

Article 7

The European DRF Report shall be presented in a harmonised format and accompanied by country-specific recommendations and elaborated with a specific focus on the following aspects:

–  the separation of powers,

–  the impartial nature of the State,

–  the reversibility of political decisions after elections,

–  the existence of institutional checks and balances which ensure that the impartiality of the State is not called into question,

–  the permanence of the State and institutions, based on the immutability of the constitution,

–  the freedom and pluralism of the media,

–  freedom of expression and freedom of assembly,

–  promotion of civic space and effective mechanisms for civil dialogue,

–  the right to active and passive democratic participation in elections and participatory democracy,

–  integrity and absence of corruption,

–  transparency and accountability,

–  legality,

–  legal certainty,

–  the prevention of abuse or misuse of powers,

–  equality before the law and non-discrimination,

–  access to justice: independence and impartiality, fair trial, constitutional justice, where applicable, an independent legal profession,

–  particular challenges to the rule of law: corruption, conflict of interest, collection of personal data and surveillance,

–  Titles I to VI of the Charter,

–  the ECHR and the protocols thereto.

Article 8

The assessment of the state of democracy, rule of law and fundamental rights in the Member States, as well as the development of country-specific draft recommendations, shall be carried out by a representative panel of independent experts (DFR Expert Panel) on the basis of a quantitative and qualitative review of the data and information available.

8.1.  The DRF Expert Panel shall be composed of the following members:

–  one independent expert designated by the national parliament of each Member State, who is a qualified constitutional court or supreme court judge not currently in active service;

–  ten further experts appointed by the European Parliament, with a two-thirds majority, chosen from a list of experts nominated by:

(i)  the federation of All European Academies (ALLEA);

(ii)  the European Network of National Human Rights Institutions (ENNHRI);

(iii)  the Council of Europe, including the Venice Commission, GRECO and the Council of Europe Human Rights Commissioner;

(iv)  the CEPEJ and the Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe (CCBE);

(v)  the UN, the OSCE and the OECD.

8.2.  The DRF Expert Panel shall elect its Chair from among its members.

8.3.  In order to facilitate the development of the draft European DRF Report and draft country recommendations, the Commission shall provide the DRF Expert Panel with a secretariat, enabling it to function efficiently, in particular by gathering data and information sources to be reviewed and assessed, and by providing administrative support during the drafting process.

Article 9

The DRF Expert Panel shall assess each of the Member States with regard to the aspects listed in Article 7 and shall identify possible risks and breaches. That assessment shall be carried out on an anonymous and independent basis by each of the panellists in order to safeguard the independence of the DRF Expert Panel and the objectivity of the European DRF Report. The members of the DRF Expert Panel may, however, consult each other with a view to discussing methods and agreed standards.

The assessment methods shall be reviewed annually by the DRF Expert Panel, and where necessary, further elaborated, refined, supplemented and amended, where necessary, by common accord between the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission, after consulting the national parliaments, experts and civil society.

Article 10

The adoption of the DRF European Report by the Commission shall initiate the interparliamentary debate and debate in the Council, which shall aim to address the results of the European DRF Report and the country-specific recommendations by way of the following steps:

–  The European Parliament shall organise an interparliamentary debate on the basis of the DRF European Report and shall adopt a resolution. That debate should be organised in such a way as to set benchmarks and goals to be attained and to provide the means to evaluate changes from one year to another within the existing Union consensus on democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights. The relevant procedures should be accelerated in order to create such means, which will not only allow the immediate and effective monitoring of annual changes, but also ensure compliance with commitments by all relevant parties.

–  The annual interparliamentary debate shall be part of a multi-annual structured dialogue between the European Parliament, the Council, the Commission and national parliaments and it shall also involve civil society, the FRA and the Council of Europe.

–  The Council shall hold an annual debate, building upon its Rule of Law Dialogue, on the basis of the European DRF Report and shall adopt Council conclusions, inviting national parliaments to provide a response to the European DRF Report, proposals or reforms.

–  On the basis of the European DRF Report the Commission may decide to launch a "systemic infringement" action under Article 2 TEU and Article 258 TFEU, bundling several infringement cases together.

–  On the basis of the European DRF Report, after consulting the European Parliament and the Council, the Commission may decide to submit a proposal for an evaluation of the implementation by Member States of Union policies in the area of freedom, security and justice under Article 70 TFEU.

10.1.  On the basis of the European DRF Report, if a Member State complies with all the aspects listed in Article 7, no further action shall be necessary.

10.2.  On the basis of the European DRF Report, if a Member State falls short on one or more of the aspects listed in Article 7, the Commission shall start a dialogue with that Member State without delay, taking into account the country-specific recommendations.

10.2.1.  If the country-specific recommendation on a Member State includes the assessment by the expert panel that there is a clear risk of a serious breach of the values referred to in Article 2 TEU and that there are sufficient grounds for invoking Article 7(1) TEU, the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission, shall each discuss the matter without delay and take a reasoned decision, which shall be made public.

10.3.  On the basis of the European DRF Report, if the country-specific recommendations on a Member State include the assessment by the expert panel that there is a serious and persistent breach - i.e. increasing or remaining unchanged over a period of at least two years, of the values referred to in Article 2 TEU and that there are sufficient grounds for invoking Article 7(2), the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission shall each discuss the matter without delay and each institution shall take a reasoned decision which shall be made public.

Article 11

Fundamental rights shall be included as part of the impact assessment for all legislative proposals by the Commission in accordance with Paragraph 25 of the Interinstitutional Agreement on Better Law-Making.

The DRF Expert Panel referred to in Article 8 shall assess compliance with democracy, rule of law and fundamental rights by the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission.

Article 12

An interinstitutional impact assessment working group (Working Group) shall be set up with a view to improving interinstitutional cooperation on impact assessments, and creating a fundamental rights and rule of law compliance culture. The Working Group shall consult national experts at an early stage in order to be able better to predict the implementation challenges in Member States, as well as to help overcome different interpretations and understandings by the different Union institutions as regards the impact of fundamental rights and rule of law on Union legal acts. The Working Group shall build on the Council’s Guidelines on methodological steps to be taken in order to check fundamental rights compatibility by the Council preparatory bodies, the Commission’s Strategy for the effective implementation of the Charter of Fundamental Rights by the European Union, the Commission’s Operational Guidance on taking account of Fundamental rights in Commission Impact Assessments, Tool No 24 from the Better Regulation Toolbox and Rule 38 of the Rules of Procedure of the European Parliament to ensure compliance with and promotion of democracy, rule of law and fundamental rights.

Article 13

The following annual reports of the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission relating to enforcement and compliance with the rule of law and fundamental rights by the institutions of the Union shall be presented alongside the annual DRF Policy Cycle of the European DRF Report:

–  Annual report on the application of the Charter;

–  Annual report on the application of Union law;

–  Annual report on the application of Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001 of the European Parliament and of the Council(7)

Article 14

This agreement shall enter into force...

Done at...

For the European Parliament

The President

For the Council of the European Union

The President

For the European Commission

The President

(1) ECLI:EU:C:2014:2454.
(2) Council Framework Decision 2002/584/JHA of 13 June 2002 on the European arrest warrant and the surrender procedures between Member States (OJ L 190, 18.7.2002, p. 1).
(3) ECLI:EU:C:2011:865.
(4) ECLI:EU:C:2016:198.
(5) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2014)0173.
(6) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0286.
(7) Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 30 May 2001 regarding public access to European Parliament, Council and Commission documents (OJ L 145, 31.5.2001, p. 43).

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