Index 
Texts adopted
Thursday, 27 October 2016 - StrasbourgFinal edition
Discharge 2014: EU general budget - European Council and Council
 Discharge 2014: ENIAC Joint Undertaking
 Discharge 2014: ARTEMIS Joint Undertaking
 Discharge 2014: Joint Undertaking for ITER and the Development of Fusion Energy
 Situation in Northern Iraq/Mosul
 Situation of journalists in Turkey
 Nuclear security and non-proliferation
 European Voluntary Service
 EU Youth Strategy 2013-2015
 How the CAP can improve job creation in rural areas

Discharge 2014: EU general budget - European Council and Council
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Decision
Resolution
1. European Parliament decision of 27 October 2016 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2014, Section II – European Council and Council (2015/2156(DEC))
P8_TA(2016)0418A8-0271/2016

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2014(1),

–  having regard to the consolidated annual accounts of the European Union for the financial year 2014 (COM(2015)0377 – C8‑0201/2015)(2),

–  having regard to the Court of Auditors’ annual report on the implementation of the budget concerning the financial year 2014, together with the institutions’ replies(3),

–  having regard to the statement of assurance(4) as to the reliability of the accounts and the legality and regularity of the underlying transactions provided by the Court of Auditors for the financial year 2014, pursuant to Article 287 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

–  having regard to its decision of 28 April 2016(5) postponing the discharge decision for the financial year 2014, and the accompanying resolution,

–  having regard to Article 314(10) and Articles 317, 318 and 319 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

–  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(6), and in particular Articles 55, 99, 164, 165 and 166 thereof,

–  having regard to Rule 94 of and Annex V to its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the second report of the Committee on Budgetary Control (A8-0271/2016),

1.  Refuses to grant the Secretary-General of the Council discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European Council and of the Council for the financial year 2014;

2.  Sets out its observations in the resolution below;

3.  Instructs its President to forward this decision and the resolution forming an integral part of it to the European Council, the Council, the Commission and the Court of Auditors, and to arrange for their publication in the Official Journal of the European Union (L series).

2. European Parliament resolution of 27 October 2016 with observations forming an integral part of the decision on discharge in respect of the implementation of the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2014, Section II – European Council and Council (2015/2156(DEC))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its decision on discharge in respect of the implementation of the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2014, Section II – European Council and Council,

–  having regard to Rule 94 of and Annex V to its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the second report of the Committee on Budgetary Control (A8-0271/2016),

A.  whereas all Union institutions ought to be transparent and fully accountable to the citizens of the Union for the funds entrusted to them as Union institutions;

B.  whereas the European Council and the Council, as Union institutions, should be democratically accountable towards the citizens of the Union as far as they are beneficiaries of the general budget of the European Union;

1.  Recalls the Parliament's role specified in the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) and in Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 966/2012 (the “Financial Regulation”) in respect of the budget discharge;

2.  Points out that under Article 335 TFEU, "[…] the Union shall be represented by each of the institutions, by virtue of their administrative autonomy, in matters relating to their respective operation", and that accordingly, taking into account Article 55 of the Financial Regulation, the institutions are individually responsible for the implementation of their budgets;

3.  Stresses the role of Parliament and of other institutions within the discharge procedure, as governed by the provisions of the Financial Regulation, in particular Articles 164 to 166 thereof;

4.  Notes that under Rule 94 of Parliament's Rules of Procedure, "the provisions governing the procedure for granting discharge to the Commission in respect of the implementation of the budget shall likewise apply to the procedure for granting discharge to […] the persons responsible for the implementation of the budgets of other institutions and bodies of the European Union such as the Council (as regards its activity as executive) […]";

5.  Regrets that the Council continues to be silent in relation to the remarks made by Parliament in its discharge resolution of 28 April 2016(7) on the trend from previous years of increasing underspending and carryovers of commitments;

Pending issues

6.  Regrets that the European Council and the Council do not provide Parliament with their annual activity report; regards this as inadmissible and detrimental to the reputation of the institutions;

7.  Regrets that the budget of the European Council and the Council have not yet been separated, as recommended by Parliament in recent discharge resolutions;

8.  Notes the information on the building policy provided in the Council’s website; also notes that there is no information about the costs incurred in relation to those buildings; calls for detailed information to be given to Parliament in the next annual financial report;

9.  Reiterates its call for progress reports on building projects and a detailed breakdown of the costs incurred to date; calls for information on the costs related to the delayed completion of the Europa building;

10.  Reiterates its call on the Council to provide information on its process of administrative modernisation, in particular on the anticipated impact on the Council's budget;

11.  Calls on the Council to adopt a code of conduct as soon as possible in order to ensure the integrity of the institution; reiterates its call on the Council to implement whistleblowing rules without further delay;

12.  Calls on the Council to join the Union transparency register to ensure transparency and accountability of the institution;

13.  Reiterates its call on the Council to develop detailed anti-corruption guidelines and independent policies within its structures, as well as its call with regard to systematic increase of transparency of the legislative procedures and negotiations;

14.  Regrets the difficulties repeatedly encountered in the discharge procedures to date, which were due to a lack of cooperation from the Council; points out that Parliament refused to grant discharge to the Secretary-General of the Council in relation to the financial years 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013 for the reasons set out in its resolutions of 10 May 2011(8), 25 October 2011(9), 10 May 2012(10), 23 October 2012(11), 17 April 2013(12), 9 October 2013(13), 3 April 2014(14), 23 October 2014(15) and 27 October 2015(16) and postponed its decision on granting the Secretary-General of the Council discharge in relation to the financial year 2014 for the reasons set out in its above-mentioned resolution of 28 April 2016;

15.  Insists that an effective budgetary control exercise requires the cooperation of Parliament and the Council, as set out in its above-mentioned resolution of 28 April 2016; confirms that Parliament is unable to make an informed decision on granting discharge;

16.  Reminds the Council of the Commission's view, expressed in January 2014, that all institutions are fully part of the follow-up process to the observations made by Parliament in the discharge exercise and that all institutions should cooperate to ensure the smooth functioning of the discharge procedure;

17.  Notes that the Commission has stated that it will not oversee the implementation of the budget of the other institutions and that giving a response to questions addressed to another institution would infringe the autonomy of that institution to implement its own section of the budget;

18.  Regrets that the Council continues to fail to provide answers to Parliament's questions; recalls the conclusions of the Parliament workshop on Parliament's right to grant discharge to the Council held on 27 September 2012; recalls also the third subparagraph of Article 15(3) TFEU, which stipulates that each institution, body, office or agency is to ensure that its proceedings are transparent;

19.  Notes that only three out of twenty-seven questions submitted to the Council by the members of the Committee on Budgetary Control in relation to the financial year 2014 received a clear reply in the documents provided by the Council within the discharge exercise;

20.  Insists that the expenditure of the Council must be scrutinised in the same way as that of other institutions and that the fundamental elements of such scrutiny have been laid down in its discharge resolutions of the past years;

21.  Emphasises Parliament's prerogative to grant discharge pursuant to Articles 316, 317 and 319 TFEU, in line with current interpretation and practice, namely to grant discharge of each heading of the budget individually in order to maintain transparency and democratic accountability towards Union taxpayers;

22.  Takes the view that Council's failure to submit the requested documents to Parliament above all undermines the right of citizens of the Union to information and transparency and is becoming a cause for concern, reflecting as it does a certain democratic deficit within the Union institutions;

23.  Takes the stance that this constitutes a serious failure to comply with the obligations laid down by the Treaties and believes that the relevant stakeholders need to take the necessary steps to address this issue without further delay; stresses that a revision of the Treaties and of the Financial Regulation is needed in order to clarify the objectives and processes of the discharge procedure, and to define sanctions for failing to comply with the rules as stated in the Treaties;

24.  Considers that the lack of cooperation of the European Council and the Council with the discharge authority is a negative sign to the citizens of the Union.

(1) OJ L 51, 20.2.2014.
(2) OJ C 377, 13.11.2015, p. 1.
(3) OJ C 373, 10.11.2015, p. 1.
(4) OJ C 377, 13.11.2015, p. 146.
(5) OJ L 246, 14.9.2016, p. 20.
(6) OJ L 298, 26.10.2012, p. 1.
(7) OJ L 246, 14.9.2016, p. 21.
(8) OJ L 250, 27.9.2011, p. 25.
(9) OJ L 313, 26.11.2011, p. 13.
(10) OJ L 286, 17.10.2012, p. 23.
(11) OJ L 350, 20.12.2012, p. 71.
(12) OJ L 308, 16.11.2013, p. 22.
(13) OJ L 328, 7.12.2013, p. 97.
(14) OJ L 266, 5.9.2014, p. 26.
(15) OJ L 334, 21.11.2014, p. 95.
(16) OJ L 314, 1.12.2015, p. 49.


Discharge 2014: ENIAC Joint Undertaking
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Decision
Decision
Resolution
1. European Parliament decision of 27 October 2016 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the ENIAC Joint Undertaking for the financial year 2014 (2015/2202(DEC))
P8_TA(2016)0419A8-0264/2016

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the final annual accounts of the ENIAC Joint Undertaking for the financial year 2014,

–  having regard to the Court of Auditors’ report on the annual accounts of the ENIAC Joint Undertaking for the financial year 2014, together with the Joint Undertaking’s reply(1),

–  having regard to the statement of assurance(2) as to the reliability of the accounts and the legality and regularity of the underlying transactions provided by the Court of Auditors for the financial year 2014, pursuant to Article 287 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

–  having regard to the Council’s recommendation of 12 February 2016 on discharge to be given to the Joint Undertaking in respect of the implementation of the budget for the financial year 2014 (05587/2016 – C8‑0058/2016),

–  having regard to its decision of 28 April 2016(3) postponing the discharge decision for the financial year 2014, and the replies from the Executive Director of the ECSEL Joint Undertaking (formerly the ENIAC Joint Undertaking and the ARTEMIS Joint Undertaking),

–  having regard to Article 319 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

–  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(4), and in particular Article 209 thereof,

–  having regard to Council Regulation (EC) No 72/2008 of 20 December 2007 setting up the ENIAC Joint Undertaking(5),

–  having regard to Council Regulation (EU) No 561/2014 of 6 May 2014 establishing the ECSEL Joint Undertaking(6), and in particular Article 12 thereof,

–  having regard to Commission Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 2343/2002 of 19 November 2002 on the framework Financial Regulation for the bodies referred to in Article 185 of Council Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 1605/2002 on the Financial Regulation applicable to the general budget of the European Communities(7),

–  having regard to Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) No 110/2014 of 30 September 2013 on the model financial regulation for public-private partnership bodies referred to in Article 209 of Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 966/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council(8),

–  having regard to Rule 94 of and Annex V to its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the second report of the Committee on Budgetary Control (A8-0264/2016),

1.  Grants the Executive Director of the ECSEL Joint Undertaking (formerly the ENIAC Joint Undertaking and the ARTEMIS Joint Undertaking) discharge in respect of the implementation of the ENIAC Joint Undertaking’s budget for the financial year 2014;

2.  Sets out its observations in the resolution below;

3.  Instructs its President to forward this decision and the resolution forming an integral part of it to the Executive Director of the ECSEL Joint Undertaking (formerly the ENIAC Joint Undertaking and the ARTEMIS Joint Undertaking), the Council, the Commission and the Court of Auditors, and to arrange for their publication in the Official Journal of the European Union (L series).

2. European Parliament decision of 27 October 2016 on the closure of the accounts of the ENIAC Joint Undertaking for the financial year 2014 (2015/2202(DEC))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the final annual accounts of the ENIAC Joint Undertaking for the financial year 2014,

–  having regard to the Court of Auditors’ report on the annual accounts of the ENIAC Joint Undertaking for the financial year 2014, together with the Joint Undertaking’s reply(9),

–  having regard to the statement of assurance(10) as to the reliability of the accounts and the legality and regularity of the underlying transactions provided by the Court of Auditors for the financial year 2014, pursuant to Article 287 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

–  having regard to the Council’s recommendation of 12 February 2016 on discharge to be given to the Joint Undertaking in respect of the implementation of the budget for the financial year 2014 (05587/2016 – C8‑0058/2016),

–  having regard to its decision of 28 April 2016(11) postponing the discharge decision for the financial year 2014, and the replies from the Executive Director of the ECSEL Joint Undertaking (formerly the ENIAC Joint Undertaking and the ARTEMIS Joint Undertaking),

–  having regard to Article 319 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

–  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(12), and in particular Article 209 thereof,

–  having regard to Council Regulation (EC) No 72/2008 of 20 December 2007 setting up the ENIAC Joint Undertaking(13),

–  having regard to Council Regulation (EU) No 561/2014 of 6 May 2014 establishing the ECSEL Joint Undertaking(14), and in particular Article 12 thereof,

–  having regard to Commission Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 2343/2002 of 19 November 2002 on the framework Financial Regulation for the bodies referred to in Article 185 of Council Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 1605/2002 on the Financial Regulation applicable to the general budget of the European Communities(15),

–  having regard to Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) No 110/2014 of 30 September 2013 on the model financial regulation for public-private partnership bodies referred to in Article 209 of Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 966/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council(16),

–  having regard to Rule 94 of and Annex V to its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the second report of the Committee on Budgetary Control (A8-0264/2016),

1.  Approves the closure of the accounts of the ENIAC Joint Undertaking for the financial year 2014;

2.  Instructs its President to forward this decision to the Executive Director of the ECSEL Joint Undertaking (formerly the ENIAC Joint Undertaking and the ARTEMIS Joint Undertaking), the Council, the Commission and the Court of Auditors, and to arrange for its publication in the Official Journal of the European Union (L series).

3. European Parliament resolution of 27 October 2016 with observations forming an integral part of the decision on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget for the ENIAC Joint Undertaking for the financial year 2014 (2015/2202(DEC))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its decision on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the ENIAC Joint Undertaking for the financial year 2014,

–  having regard to Rule 94 of and Annex V to its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the second report of the Committee on Budgetary Control (A8-0264/2016),

A.  whereas the ENIAC Joint Undertaking (the “Joint Undertaking”) was set up on 20 December 2007 for a period of 10 years to establish and implement a research agenda for the development of key competences for nanoelectronics across different application areas;

B.  whereas the Joint Undertaking was granted financial autonomy in July 2010;

C.  whereas the founding members of the Joint Undertaking are the Union, represented by the Commission, Belgium, Germany, Estonia, Ireland, Greece, Spain, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Sweden and the United Kingdom, and the Association for European Nanoelectronics Activities (“AENEAS”);

D.  whereas the maximum contribution for the period of 10 years from the Union to the Joint Undertaking is EUR 450 000 000, to be paid from the budget of the Seventh Research Framework Programme;

E.  whereas AENEAS is to make a maximum contribution of EUR 30 000 000 to the Joint Undertaking's running costs and the Member States are to make in-kind contributions to the running costs and to provide financial contributions of at least 1,8 times the Union contribution;

F.  whereas the Joint Undertaking and the ARTEMIS Joint Undertaking (“ARTEMIS”) were merged to create the Electronic Components and Systems for European leadership Joint Technology Initiative (“ECSEL JTI”), which started its activities in June 2014 and will run for 10 years;

Budgetary and financial management

1.  Acknowledges the fact that the Joint Undertaking's accounts for the period 1 January 2014 to 26 June 2014 present fairly, in all material respects, its financial position on 26 June 2014 and the results of its operations and cash flows for the period then ended, in accordance with the provisions of its financial rules and the accounting rules adopted by the Commission's accounting officer;

2.  Is concerned that the Court of Auditors , in its report on the annual accounts of the Joint Undertaking for the period 1 January to 26 June 2014 (the “Court’s report”) issued a qualified opinion for the fourth consecutive year regarding the regularity and legality of the underlying transactions on the grounds that the administrative agreements signed with the national funding authorities (the “NFAs”) regarding audit of project cost claims do not include practical arrangements for ex-post audits;

3.  Notes that, according to the Court's report, the Joint Undertaking did not assess the quality of the audit reports received from the NFAs concerning the costs related to completed projects; notes furthermore that, after an assessment of the audit strategies of three of the NFAs, it was not possible to conclude whether ex-post audits are functioning effectively due to different methodologies used by the NFAs which did not allow the Joint Undertaking to calculate either a weighted error rate or a residual rate error; notes also that ECSEL JTI confirmed that its extensive assessment of the national assurance systems concluded that they can provide reasonable protection of the financial interests of the Joint Undertakings’ members;

4.  Notes that the ECSEL JTI invited NFAs to produce evidence that the implementation of the national procedures provide a reasonable assurance of the legality and regularity of transactions and notes that, by the deadline of 30 June 2016, 76 % of the NFAs so invited, representing 96,79 % of the total spending of ARTEMIS and the Joint Undertaking, submitted the documents required and confirmed that the implementation of the national procedures provides a reasonable assurance of the legality and regularity of transactions;

5.  Takes note of the fact that, according to the Court’s report, the Joint Undertaking's final budget for the financial year 2014 included commitment appropriations of EUR 2 356 000 and payment appropriations of EUR 76 500 250;

6.  Acknowledges that, according to the Joint Undertaking, national assurance procedures have been surveyed up to April 2015 for countries receiving 54,2 % of the Joint Undertaking’s grants; commends the intention of the Joint Undertaking to continue that exercise by covering up to 92,7 % of the total Joint Undertaking’s grants allocated; welcomes the Joint Undertaking’s confirmation that the national procedures provide reasonable assurance of the legality and regularity of the underlying transactions.

(1) OJ C 422, 17.12.2015, p. 25.
(2) OJ C 422, 17.12.2015, p. 26.
(3) OJ L 246, 14.9.2016, p. 432.
(4) OJ L 298, 26.10.2012, p. 1.
(5) OJ L 30, 4.2.2008, p. 21.
(6) OJ L 169, 7.6.2014, p. 152.
(7) OJ L 357, 31.12.2002, p. 72.
(8) OJ L 38, 7.2.2014, p. 2.
(9) OJ C 422, 17.12.2015, p. 25.
(10) OJ C 422, 17.12.2015, p. 26.
(11) OJ L 246, 14.9.2016, p. 432.
(12) OJ L 298, 26.10.2012, p. 1.
(13) OJ L 30, 4.2.2008, p. 21.
(14) OJ L 169, 7.6.2014, p. 152.
(15) OJ L 357, 31.12.2002, p. 72.
(16) OJ L 38, 7.2.2014, p. 2.


Discharge 2014: ARTEMIS Joint Undertaking
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Decision
Decision
Resolution
1. European Parliament decision of 27 October 2016 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the ARTEMIS Joint Undertaking for the financial year 2014 (2015/2199(DEC))
P8_TA(2016)0420A8-0276/2016

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the final annual accounts of the ARTEMIS Joint Undertaking for the financial year 2014,

–  having regard to the Court of Auditors’ report on the annual accounts of the ARTEMIS Joint Undertaking for the period 1 January to 26 June 2014, together with the Joint Undertaking’s reply(1),

–  having regard to the statement of assurance(2) as to the reliability of the accounts and the legality and regularity of the underlying transactions provided by the Court of Auditors for the financial year 2014, pursuant to Article 287 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

–  having regard to the Council’s recommendation of 12 February 2016 on discharge to be given to Joint Undertaking in respect of the implementation of the budget for the financial year 2014 (05587/2016 – C8‑0055/2016),

–  having regard to its decision of 28 April 2016(3) postponing the discharge decision for the financial year 2014, and the replies from the Executive Director of the ECSEL Joint Undertaking (formerly the ARTEMIS Joint Undertaking and the ENIAC Joint Undertaking),

–  having regard to Article 319 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

–  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(4), and in particular Article 209 thereof,

–  having regard to Council Regulation (EC) No 74/2008 of 20 December 2007 on the establishment of the ‘ARTEMIS Joint Undertaking’ to implement a Joint Technology Initiative in Embedded Computing Systems(5),

–  having regard to Council Regulation (EU) No 561/2014 of 6 May 2014 establishing the ECSEL Joint Undertaking(6), and in particular Article 1(2) and Article 12 thereof,

–  having regard to Commission Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 2343/2002 of 19 November 2002 on the framework Financial Regulation for the bodies referred to in Article 185 of Council Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 1605/2002 on the Financial Regulation applicable to the general budget of the European Communities(7),

–  having regard to Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) No 110/2014 of 30 September 2013 on the model financial regulation for public-private partnership bodies referred to in Article 209 of Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 966/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council(8),

–  having regard to Rule 94 of and Annex V to its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the second report of the Committee on Budgetary Control (A8-0276/2016),

1.  Grants the Executive Director of the ECSEL Joint Undertaking (formerly the ARTEMIS Joint Undertaking and the ENIAC Joint Undertaking) discharge in respect of the implementation of the ARTEMIS Joint Undertaking’s budget for the financial year 2014;

2.  Sets out its observations in the resolution below;

3.  Instructs its President to forward this decision, and the resolution forming an integral part of it, to the Executive Director of the ECSEL Joint Undertaking (formerly the ARTEMIS Joint Undertaking and the ENIAC Joint Undertaking), the Council, the Commission and the Court of Auditors, and to arrange for their publication in the Official Journal of the European Union (L series).

2. European Parliament decision of 27 October 2016 on the closure of the accounts of the ARTEMIS Joint Undertaking for the financial year 2014 (2015/2199(DEC))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the final annual accounts of the ARTEMIS Joint Undertaking for the financial year 2014,

–  having regard to the Court of Auditors’ report on the annual accounts of the ARTEMIS Joint Undertaking for the period 1 January to 26 June 2014, together with the Joint Undertaking’s reply(9),

–  having regard to the statement of assurance(10) as to the reliability of the accounts and the legality and regularity of the underlying transactions provided by the Court of Auditors for the financial year 2014, pursuant to Article 287 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

–  having regard to the Council’s recommendation of 12 February 2016 on discharge to be given to Joint Undertaking in respect of the implementation of the budget for the financial year 2014 (05587/2016 – C8‑0055/2016),

–  having regard to its decision of 28 April 2016(11) postponing the discharge decision for the financial year 2014, and the replies from the Executive Director of the ECSEL Joint Undertaking (formerly the ARTEMIS Joint Undertaking and the ENIAC Joint Undertaking),

–  having regard to Article 319 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

–  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(12), and in particular Article 209 thereof,

–  having regard to Council Regulation (EC) No 74/2008 of 20 December 2007 on the establishment of the ‘ARTEMIS Joint Undertaking’ to implement a Joint Technology Initiative in Embedded Computing Systems(13),

–  having regard to Council Regulation (EU) No 561/2014 of 6 May 2014 establishing the ECSEL Joint Undertaking(14), and in particular Article 1(2) and Article 12 thereof,

–  having regard to Commission Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 2343/2002 of 19 November 2002 on the framework Financial Regulation for the bodies referred to in Article 185 of Council Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 1605/2002 on the Financial Regulation applicable to the general budget of the European Communities(15),

–  having regard to Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) No 110/2014 of 30 September 2013 on the model financial regulation for public-private partnership bodies referred to in Article 209 of Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 966/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council(16),

–  having regard to Rule 94 of and Annex V to its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the second report of the Committee on Budgetary Control (A8-0276/2016),

1.  Approves the closure of the accounts of the ARTEMIS Joint Undertaking for the financial year 2014;

2.  Instructs its President to forward this decision to the Executive Director of the ECSEL Joint Undertaking (formerly the ARTEMIS Joint Undertaking and the ENIAC Joint Undertaking), the Council, the Commission and the Court of Auditors, and to arrange for its publication in the Official Journal of the European Union (L series).

3. European Parliament resolution of 27 October 2016 with observations forming an integral part of the decision on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the ARTEMIS Joint Undertaking for the financial year 2014 (2015/2199(DEC))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its decision on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of ARTEMIS Joint Undertaking for the financial year 2014,

–  having regard to Rule 94 of and Annex V to its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the second report of the Committee on Budgetary Control (A8-0276/2016),

A.  whereas the ARTEMIS Joint Undertaking (the “Joint Undertaking”) was set up in December 2007 for a period of 10 years to establish and implement a research agenda for the development of key technologies for embedded computing systems across different application areas in order to strengthen Union competitiveness and sustainability and to allow for the emergence of new markets and societal applications;

B.  whereas the Joint Undertaking started to work autonomously in October 2009;

C.  whereas the maximum contribution for the period of 10 years from the Union to the Joint Undertaking is EUR 420 000 000, to be paid from the budget of the Seventh Research Framework Programme;

D.  whereas financial contributions from ARTEMIS Member States should amount, in total, to at least 1,8 times the Union's financial contribution and the in-kind contribution of research and development organisations participating in projects over the duration of the Joint Undertaking is to be equal to or greater than the contribution of public authorities;

E.  whereas the Joint Undertaking and the ENIAC Joint Undertaking (“ENIAC”) were merged to create the Electronic Components and Systems for European Leadership Joint Technology Initiative (“ECSEL JTI”), which started its activity in June 2014 and will run for 10 years;

Budgetary and financial management

1.  Notes that the Joint Undertaking’s accounts for the period 1 January 2014 to 26 June 2014 present fairly, in all material respects, its financial position on 26 June 2014 and the results of its operations and cash flows for the period then ended, in accordance with the provisions of its financial rules and the accounting rules adopted by the Commission’s accounting officer;

2.  Is concerned that the Court of Auditors (the “Court”) in its report on the annual accounts of the Joint Undertaking for the financial year 2014 (the “Court’s report”) issued a qualified opinion regarding the regularity and legality of the underlying transactions on the grounds that the administrative agreements signed with the national funding authorities (“NFAs”) regarding the audit of project cost claims do not include practical arrangements for ex-post audits;

3.  Notes from the Court's report that the Joint Undertaking did not assess the quality of the audit reports received from the NFAs concerning the costs relating to completed projects; notes, furthermore, that after an assessment of the audit strategies of three of the NFAs it was not possible to conclude whether ex-post audits were functioning effectively due to the different methodologies used by NFAs which did not allow the Joint Undertaking to calculate either a weighted error rate or a residual error rate;

4.  Notes that ECSEL JTI carried out an extensive assessment of the effectiveness of the assurance systems for a sample of 10 ARTEMIS and ENIAC Member States representing the largest share of ECSEL JTI operational budget and covering 89,5 % of the Joint Undertaking's total grants allocated and notes that, based on the End of Project certificates up to 13 June 2016, the assessment demonstrates that the coverage rate is three times higher than the threshold of 20 % above which the national systems are considered to be sufficient as per the ex-post audit strategy;

5.  Notes that the ECSEL JTI has invited NFAs to produce evidence that the implementation of the national procedures provide a reasonable assurance on the legality and regularity of transactions and notes that by the deadline of 30 June 2016, 76 % of the NFAs so invited, representing 96,79 % of joint Artemis and ENIAC JUs spending, submitted the documents required and confirmed that the implementation of the national procedures provides a reasonable assurance on the legality and regularity of transactions;

6.  Takes note of the fact that, according to the Court’s report, the Joint Undertaking's final budget for the financial year 2014 included commitment appropriations of EUR 2 554 510 and payment appropriations of EUR 30 330 178 (operational);

Internal control

7.  Notes with concern that the Joint Undertaking took no action regarding some internal control standards relating to information and financial reporting: in particular, evaluation of activities, assessment of the internal control systems and internal audit capability (“IAC”); observes that this was due to the impending merger; notes that, in the meantime, ECSEL JTI has achieved substantial progress with regard to the implementation of the internal control systems and establishing IAC.

(1) OJ C 422, 17.12.2015, p. 9.
(2) OJ C 422, 17.12.2015, p. 10.
(3) OJ L 246, 14.9.2016, p. 425.
(4) OJ L 298, 26.10.2012, p. 1.
(5) OJ L 30, 4.2.2008, p. 52.
(6) OJ L 169, 7.6.2014, p. 152.
(7) OJ L 357, 31.12.2002, p. 72.
(8) OJ L 38, 7.2.2014, p. 2.
(9) OJ C 422, 17.12.2015, p. 9.
(10) OJ C 422, 17.12.2015, p. 10.
(11) OJ L 246, 14.9.2016, p. 425.
(12) OJ L 298, 26.10.2012, p. 1.
(13) OJ L 30, 4.2.2008, p. 52.
(14) OJ L 169, 7.6.2014, p. 152.
(15) OJ L 357, 31.12.2002, p. 72.
(16) OJ L 38, 7.2.2014, p. 2.


Discharge 2014: Joint Undertaking for ITER and the Development of Fusion Energy
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Decision
Decision
Resolution
1. European Parliament decision of 27 October 2016 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European Joint Undertaking for ITER and the Development of Fusion Energy for the financial year 2014 (2015/2196(DEC))
P8_TA(2016)0421A8-0275/2016

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the final annual accounts of the European Joint Undertaking for ITER and the Development of Fusion Energy for the financial year 2014,

–  having regard to the Court of Auditors’ report on the annual accounts of the European Joint Undertaking for ITER and the Development of Fusion Energy for the financial year 2014, together with the Joint Undertaking’s reply(1),

–  having regard to the statement of assurance(2) as to the reliability of the accounts and the legality and regularity of the underlying transactions provided by the Court of Auditors for the financial year 2014, pursuant to Article 287 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

–  having regard to the Council’s recommendation of 12 February 2016 on discharge to be given to the Joint Undertaking in respect of the implementation of the budget for the financial year 2014 (05587/2016 – C8‑0052/2016),

–  having regard to its decision of 28 April 2016(3) postponing the discharge decision for the financial year 2014, and the replies from the Director of the European Joint Undertaking for ITER and the Development of Fusion Energy,

–  having regard to Article 319 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(4), and in particular Article 208 thereof,

–  having regard to Council Decision 2007/198/Euratom of 27 March 2007 establishing the European Joint Undertaking for ITER and the Development of Fusion Energy and conferring advantages upon it(5), and in particular Article 5(3) thereof,

–  having regard to Commission Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 2343/2002 of 19 November 2002 on the framework Financial Regulation for the bodies referred to in Article 185 of Council Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 1605/2002 on the Financial Regulation applicable to the general budget of the European Communities(6),

–  having regard to Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) No 1271/2013 of 30 September 2013 on the framework financial regulation for the bodies referred to in Article 208 of Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 966/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council(7),

–  having regard to Rule 94 of and Annex V to its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the second report of the Committee on Budgetary Control (A8-0275/2016),

1.  Grants the Director of the European Joint Undertaking for ITER and the Development of Fusion Energy discharge in respect of the implementation of the Joint Undertaking’s budget for the financial year 2014;

2.  Sets out its observations in the resolution below;

3.  Instructs its President to forward this decision and the resolution forming an integral part of it to the Director of the European Joint Undertaking for ITER and the Development of Fusion Energy, the Council, the Commission and the Court of Auditors, and to arrange for their publication in the Official Journal of the European Union (L series).

2. European Parliament decision of 27 October 2016 on the closure of the accounts of the European Joint Undertaking for ITER and the Development of Fusion Energy for the financial year 2014 (2015/2196(DEC))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the final annual accounts of the European Joint Undertaking for ITER and the Development of Fusion Energy for the financial year 2014,

–  having regard to the Court of Auditors’ report on the annual accounts of the European Joint Undertaking for ITER and the Development of Fusion Energy for the financial year 2014, together with the Joint Undertaking’s reply(8),

–  having regard to the statement of assurance(9) as to the reliability of the accounts and the legality and regularity of the underlying transactions provided by the Court of Auditors for the financial year 2014, pursuant to Article 287 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

–  having regard to the Council’s recommendation of 12 February 2016 on discharge to be given to the Joint Undertaking in respect of the implementation of the budget for the financial year 2014 (05587/2016 – C8‑0052/2016),

–  having regard to its decision of 28 April 2016(10) postponing the discharge decision for the financial year 2014, and the replies from the Director of the European Joint Undertaking for ITER and the Development of Fusion Energy,

–  having regard to Article 319 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(11), and in particular Article 208 thereof,

–  having regard to Council Decision 2007/198/Euratom of 27 March 2007 establishing the European Joint Undertaking for ITER and the Development of Fusion Energy and conferring advantages upon it(12), and in particular Article 5(3) thereof,

–  having regard to Commission Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 2343/2002 of 19 November 2002 on the framework Financial Regulation for the bodies referred to in Article 185 of Council Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 1605/2002 on the Financial Regulation applicable to the general budget of the European Communities(13),

–  having regard to Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) No 1271/2013 of 30 September 2013 on the framework financial regulation for the bodies referred to in Article 208 of Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 966/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council(14),

–  having regard to Rule 94 of and Annex V to its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the second report of the Committee on Budgetary Control (A8-0275/2016),

1.  Approves the closure of the accounts of the European Joint Undertaking for ITER and the Development of Fusion Energy for the financial year 2014;

2.  Instructs its President to forward this decision to the Director of the European Joint Undertaking for ITER and the Development of Fusion Energy, the Council, the Commission and the Court of Auditors, and to arrange for its publication in the Official Journal of the European Union (L series).

3. European Parliament resolution of 27 October 2016 with observations forming an integral part of the decision on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European Joint Undertaking for ITER and the Development of Fusion Energy for the financial year 2014 (2015/2196(DEC))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its decision on discharge in respect of the implementation of the budget of the European Joint Undertaking for ITER and the Development of Fusion Energy for the financial year 2014,

–  having regard to Rule 94 of and Annex V to its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the second report of the Committee on Budgetary Control (A8-0275/2016),

A.  whereas the European Joint Undertaking for ITER and the Development of Fusion Energy (the “Joint Undertaking”) was set up in March 2007 for a period of 35 years;

B.  whereas the members of the Joint Undertaking are Euratom, represented by the Commission, the Member States of Euratom, and third countries which have concluded cooperation agreements with Euratom in the field of controlled nuclear fusion;

C.  whereas the Joint Undertaking started to work autonomously on March 2008;

1.  Notes that the Court of Auditors (the “Court”), in its report on the Joint Undertaking’s annual accounts for the financial year 2014 (the “Court’s report”), stated that the Joint Undertaking’s annual accounts present fairly, in all material respects, its financial position as at 31 December 2014 and the results of its operations and its cash flows for the year then ended, in accordance with the provisions of its financial rules;

2.  Takes note of the fact that the final 2014 budget available for implementation included commitment appropriations of EUR 1 168 800 000 and payment appropriations of EUR 567 600 000; the utilisation rates for commitment and payment appropriations were 100 % and 88,5 % respectively; notes, however, that the implementation rate for payment appropriations with respect to the 2014 initial budget was 73 %;

3.  Notes that, due to the challenges currently faced by the ITER Project, the new Director General of the ITER Organization presented to the ITER Council an action plan including specific measures to address the main constraints that are currently affecting the development of the ITER Project; notes, furthermore, that, as regards the Joint Undertaking, its new acting director prepared an action plan for the Joint Undertaking which largely supports the ITER Organization action plan; acknowledges that the Joint Undertaking’s acting director presented the action plan to the Joint Undertaking’s Governing Board in March 2015, when it was fully endorsed, and that the Joint Undertaking’s action plan complements the ITER Organization action plan in a number of respects and identifies further improvements in the Joint Undertaking’s own operations; observes that at the time of the audit, the practical measures for the implementation of both action plans were still being established; notes, moreover, that since March 2015, those action plans have been implemented and closely followed by the ITER Organization and the Joint Undertaking and that they are expected to bring improvements; calls for a report on the implementation of those action plans to be presented in good time;

4.  Welcomes the conclusions of the ITER Council meeting of 15 and 16 June 2016 which confirmed that the ITER Project is now going in the right direction, in a way that will allow for a sound, realistic and detailed proposal for schedule and associated cost up to First Plasma, endorsed the updated Integrated Schedule for the ITER Project, which identifies the date of First Plasma as December 2025, indicated that the successful completion of all project milestones to date, on or ahead of schedule, is a positive indicator of the collective capacity of the ITER Organization and the Domestic Agencies to continue to deliver on the updated Integrated Schedule and underlined that the evidence of increased effectiveness of decision-making, improved understanding of risks, and rigour in adhering to commitments provides a renewed basis for confidence that the ITER Project will maintain its current positive momentum;

5.  Welcomes the position of the ITER Council that a sharp focus on the core elements through First Plasma should effectively reduce ITER Project risks and that the updated Integrated Schedule represents the best technically achievable path forward to First Plasma, which will mark the completion of the key assembly and commissioning phases of the Tokamak and support facilities;

6.  Notes that the milestones set up at the ITER Council meeting of 18 and 19 November 2015 are well advanced and that four out of the six milestones attributed to Fusion for Energy (“F4E”) for 2016 have already been fulfilled;

7.  Notes that the issue of the lease of the premises of the Joint Undertaking has been solved, as the Spanish government offered a long-term lease agreement for the current premises and an extension of the current office space by one additional floor; observes in this regard that the Joint Undertaking’s Governing Board at its meeting of 29 and 30 June 2016 took note of the conclusion of the long-term lease agreement for the F4E offices between the Kingdom of Spain and the building owner and endorsed the plans to refurbish the office space attributed to the Joint Undertaking;

8.  Notes the partial implementation of the Staff Regulations and encourages the Joint Undertaking to continue implementing the remaining regulations; takes positive note of the fact that, as of 1 January 2016, the new Financial Regulation and new Implementing Rules of the Joint Undertaking entered into force; acknowledges that the Joint Undertaking has established a working definition of fusion/non-fusion application which facilitates establishing the scope of the exclusive use of intellectual property rights generated within the contracts.

(1) OJ C 422, 17.12.2015, p. 33.
(2) OJ C 422, 17.12.2015, p. 34.
(3) OJ L 246, 14.9.2016, p. 438.
(4)OJ L 298, 26.10.2012, p. 1.
(5)OJ L 90, 30.3.2007, p. 58.
(6)OJ L 357, 31.12.2002, p. 72.
(7)OJ L 328, 7.12.2013, p. 42.
(8) OJ C 422, 17.12.2015, p. 33.
(9) OJ C 422, 17.12.2015, p. 34.
(10) OJ L 246, 14.9.2016, p. 438.
(11) OJ L 298, 26.10.2012, p. 1.
(12) OJ L 90, 30.3.2007, p. 58.
(13)1 OJ L 357, 31.12.2002, p. 72.
(14) OJ L 328, 7.12.2013, p. 42.


Situation in Northern Iraq/Mosul
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European Parliament resolution of 27 October 2016 on the situation in Northern Iraq/Mosul (2016/2956(RSP))
P8_TA(2016)0422RC-B8-1159/2016

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its resolutions of 27 February 2014 on the situation in Iraq(1), of 18 September 2014 on the situation in Iraq and Syria, and the IS offensive, including the persecution of minorities(2), of 12 February 2015 on the humanitarian crisis in Iraq and Syria, in particular in the IS context(3), of 12 March 2015 on recent attacks and abductions by ISIS/Da’esh in the Middle East, notably of Assyrians(4), and of 4 February 2016 on the systematic mass murder of religious minorities by the so-called ‘ISIS/Daesh’(5),

–  having regard to the Council conclusions of 23 May 2016 on the EU Regional Strategy for Syria and Iraq as well as the Da’esh threat, of 14 December 2015 on Iraq, of 16 March 2015 on the EU Regional Strategy for Syria and Iraq as well as the ISIS/Da’esh threat, of 20 October 2014 on the ISIS/Da’esh crisis in Syria and Iraq, of 30 August 2014 on Iraq and Syria, of 14 April 2014 and 12 October 2015 on Syria, and of 15 August 2014 on Iraq,

–  having regard to the statements by the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (VP/HR) on Iraq and Syria,

–  having regard to Resolution 2091 (2016) ‘Foreign fighters in Syria and Iraq’, adopted by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe on 27 January 2016,

–  having regard to the ministerial meeting for the stabilisation of Mosul bringing together 22 countries, the UN, the EU and the Arab League and co-chaired by France and Iraq, held in Paris on 20 October 2016 with the aim of coming up with a plan to protect civilians, distribute aid and address questions about governing areas newly liberated from ISIS/Daesh,

–  having regard to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court of 1998 and its provisions on jurisdiction with respect to the crime of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and the crime of aggression,

–  having regard to the Charter of the United Nations,

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

A.  whereas the Iraqi army, with the support of the global anti-ISIS/Daesh coalition and the Peshmerga forces of the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) and Popular Mobilization Forces, has launched an operation to liberate Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, and many towns and villages in the ‘Mosul corridor’ from ISIS/Daesh;

B.  whereas ISIS/Daesh imposed a draconian regime in Mosul; whereas inhabitants who have managed to escape recently report that people are starving and desperate to be liberated;

C.  whereas the Nineveh Plain, Tal Afar and Sinjar, as well as the wider region, have been the ancestral homeland of Christians (Chaldeans/Syriacs/Assyrians), Yazidis, Sunni and Shia Arabs, Kurds, Shabak, Turkmen, Kaka’i, Sabaean-Mandeans, and others where they lived for centuries in a spirit of general pluralism, stability and communal cooperation despite periods of external violence and persecution, until the beginning of this century and the occupation of much of the region by ISIS/Daesh in 2014;

D.  whereas Mosul has been a multi-ethnic city where a Sunni-Arab majority has lived side by side with Chaldeans/Syriacs/Assyrians, Kurds, Yazidis, Shabak, Kakai and Turkmens (Shia and Sunni); whereas the areas surrounding the city also have a history of ethno-religious diversity, with a concentration of Christians on the Nineveh plains, Yazidis around the Sinjar mountains and Muslim Turkmens in Tal Afar; whereas Christians in Iraq numbered over 1,5 million in 2003 but have dwindled to less than 200 000-350 000 today, many of them living in poverty; whereas the presence of Christians and other minorities in Iraq has traditionally had a great social importance, contributing significantly to political stability, and whereas the extinction of these minorities in the region will have a further destabilising effect;

E.  whereas Parliament, which recognised on 4 February 2016 that ISIS/Daesh is committing genocide against Christians and Yazidis and other religious and ethnic minorities, has been joined by the Council of Europe, the US State Department, the US Congress, the UK Parliament, the Australian Parliament and other nations and institutions in recognising that the atrocities perpetrated by ISIS/Daesh against religious and ethnic minorities in Iraq include war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide;

F.  whereas, according to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), some 3,3 million Iraqis have been uprooted by war since 2014 and more than 1,5 million people are at imminent risk of displacement in Mosul as a direct result of the operation to retake the area;

G.  whereas the UNHCR has five camps open and is ready to shelter 45 000 people fleeing Mosul and the surrounding areas, with the organisation planning to have a total of 11 camps open in the coming weeks, with capacity for 120 000 people, provided land can be set aside in safe areas away from the frontlines; whereas the UNHCR’s Mosul response budget is currently just over 38 % funded; whereas funding is needed not just for initial preparation but also for addressing the widespread displacement, which could last throughout the winter;

H.  whereas the necessary security conditions should be ensured for all those who have been forced to leave their homeland or have been forcibly displaced, to make effective their right to return to their homelands as soon as possible;

I.  whereas the Cooperation Council under the EU-Iraq PCA met for the second time in Brussels on 18 October 2016 to discuss Iraq’s immediate humanitarian and stabilisation challenges; whereas the EU has provided EUR 134 million to date in humanitarian aid in Iraq, EUR 50 million of it for Mosul;

J.  whereas it is important to ensure security for all communities, including Chaldeans/Syriacs/Assyrians and others at risk in the Nineveh Plains;

K.  whereas Article 2 of the Iraqi Constitution ‘guarantees the full religious rights of all individuals to freedom of religious belief and practice’;

L.  whereas Article 125 of the Iraqi Constitution guarantees ‘the administrative, political, cultural, and educational rights of the various nationalities, such as Turkmen, Chaldeans, Assyrians, and all other constituents’; whereas the Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi stated on 15 April 2015 that ‘if we don’t decentralise, the country will disintegrate. To me, there are no limitations to decentralisation’;

M.  whereas maximum autonomy and security protection for the communities of the Nineveh Plain, Tal Afar and Sinjar within the framework of the federal Republic of Iraq would restore and preserve the fundamental human rights, including property rights, of the indigenous peoples of that region;

1.  Strongly supports the operation started by Iraq to liberate Mosul from ISIS/Daesh; sees this operation as a decisive part of an ongoing, global effort to inflict a lasting defeat on ISIS/Daesh; expresses its confidence that Iraq will prevail in this fight against a common enemy and liberate Mosul and other parts of the country from the ISIS/Daesh presence;

2.  Reaffirms its full support for Iraq’s independence, territorial integrity and sovereignty and its right to take the steps necessary to preserve these;

3.  Is concerned about the recent tensions between regional actors; calls for the full respect of Iraq’s territorial integrity and sovereignty and for no military action to be taken in Iraq without the consent of the Iraqi Government; stresses the importance of fostering dialogue between Iraq and the countries in the region with the aim of building a more secure Middle East;

4.  Recalls that the Iraqi authorities must take concrete steps to protect civilians during the campaign, including by exercising effective command and control over militias and by taking all feasible precautions to avoid civilian casualties and human rights violations during the assault; stresses that the forces on the ground have to abide by international humanitarian and human rights law during their operations;

5.  Expresses its support for the Republic of Iraq and its people in recognising a politically, socially and economically viable and sustainable province in the Nineveh Plain, Tal Afar and Sinjar regions, consistent with lawful expressions of regional autonomy by its indigenous peoples;

6.  Stresses that the right of return to their ancestral homeland for the displaced indigenous peoples of the Nineveh Plain, Tal Afar and Sinjar – many of whom are displaced within Iraq – should be a policy priority of the Iraqi Government supported by the EU, including its Member States, and the international community; emphasises that, with the support of the Government of Iraq and the Kurdish Regional Government, these peoples should have their fundamental human rights fully restored, including their property rights which should supersede any claims of property rights by others;

7.  Stresses that the indigenous communities of the Nineveh Plain, Tal Afar and Sinjar – Christians (Chaldeans/Syriacs/Assyrians), Yazidis, Turkmens and others – have a right to safety, security and regional autonomy within the federal structure of the Republic of Iraq;

8.  Strongly condemns the ongoing violence and mass executions by ISIS/Daesh in Iraq; expresses its deep concern at the continual reports on ISIS/Daesh’s use of children, the elderly, women and vulnerable persons as shields against the ongoing military liberation operations taking place in Northern Iraq;

9.  Takes note of the UN Humanitarian Coordinator’s wake-up call regarding the lack of adequate funding in the face of a possible humanitarian emergency on an unprecedented scale arising from the Mosul offensive; welcomes the EU’s engagement in Iraq, notably its past humanitarian aid efforts and the removal of improvised explosive devices (IEDs), which will be essential to enable the swift return of the refugees and IDPs; nonetheless calls urgently on the EU and its Member States to step up efforts for stabilisation of the liberated areas;

10.  Urges the Government of Iraq and its international partners to make the peaceful resolution of questions pertaining to the Republic of Iraq’s disputed internal boundaries a priority;

11.  Calls on all parties to the conflict to abide by international humanitarian law during and after hostilities and, in the conflict, to abide by the principles of proportionality, distinction and precaution; urges all parties to the conflict to open humanitarian corridors in order to allow and help civilians to flee the conflict, to avoid civilians remaining trapped in Mosul and being used by ISIS/Daesh as human shields, to provide access to safety and humanitarian assistance, and guarantee assistance and protection for civilians during the security screening process, in accordance with national and international standards, in particular to ensure that families are not separated and that children are not put at risk, and to establish a UN third-party monitoring mechanism; calls, in particular, for all the necessary precautions to be taken to ensure that children and their families are protected from bombing, and to minimise casualties and protect civilian infrastructure, notably schools and hospitals;

12.  Urges all the actors fighting ISIS/Daesh in the Republic of Iraq to develop sustainable, long-term and inclusive political cooperation and dialogue in order to provide the foundation for an Iraq free of radical and extremist movements; calls for the EU and its Member States, the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL, the international community and international actors to work with the national and regional governments of the Republic of Iraq towards a sustainable security settlement in the Nineveh Plain, Tal Afar and Sinjar;

13.  Calls for the European Union, the United Nations and the entire international community to work with the national and regional governments of the Republic of Iraq to oversee the reintegration of all the Iraqis and ethnic and religious minorities who have been displaced;

14.  Calls on the EEAS, the Member States and the international community to give their practical and diplomatic support to a sustainable and inclusive post-conflict structure for the region, with particular reference to the possibility of an autonomous province including the Nineveh Plain, Sinjar and Tal Afar, to be politically presented by the indigenous peoples of the region; reiterates the importance of involving faith-based relief organisations in coordinated humanitarian action, especially for displaced ethnic and religious minorities;

15.  Encourages the EU and its Member States and the international community to offer technical assistance to the Government of Iraq in implementing the decision to create a Nineveh Plain Province, in accordance with its Cabinet decision of 21 January 2014, and in further de-centralising by also establishing provinces in Tal Afar and Sinjar and supporting the new provincial administrations to attain their full potential;

16.  Calls on the EEAS to offer its good offices in the post-liberation negotiations with the KRG and Iraqi Government with a view to ensuring that the ethnic minority groups in the region, notably Christians (Chaldeans/Syriacs/Assyrians), Yazidis, Turkmens, Shabak and Kaka’i, are granted their legitimate rights and are included in a new administrative set-up in order to prevent the outbreak of new conflicts;

17.  Encourages the EU Member States, in cooperation with the Iraqi Government, to add local security forces to the list of forces authorised to receive assistance; believes that local security forces should include local forces that are committed to protecting highly vulnerable ethnic and religious minority communities in the Nineveh Plain, Tal Afar, Sinjar and elsewhere from the threat of jihadi-salafism;

18.  Recalls that saving civilian lives and respecting international humanitarian law is a fundamental political cornerstone of reconciliation and development, the only way to defeat hatred and division, and that it is essential not to fuel further tensions among communities and to lay the ground for a stable and prosperous Iraq;

19.  Urges the Iraq-led military coalition to take all the necessary measures to preserve the evidence of the war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by ISIS/Daesh in order to ensure accountability;

20.  Stresses the vital importance of timely and effective provision of safety, through genuine safe routes where protection can be sustained, including through de-mining and the re-establishment of the rule of law, and basic services, such as healthcare, electricity and education, in the liberated areas; warns that failure to provide basic services, safety and a long-term strategy on tackling root causes and social cohesion efforts could lead to the re-emergence of extremist forces; calls, therefore, for a strong humanitarian aid and development cooperation nexus in order to guarantee an aid continuum from humanitarian aid to stabilisation, resilience and development of Iraq;

21.  Underlines the importance of Mosul for the whole of Iraq and calls for the representation of minorities in a new Mosul administration; stresses the legitimate right of ethnic and religious minorities to political participation and to having their property rights restored; calls for peaceful co-existence and full respect for the rights of the different ethnic and religious minorities that have historically had a strong presence and lived peacefully alongside one another – particularly Yazidis in the Sinjar mountains, Chaldeans/Syriacs/Assyrians on the Nineveh Plain and Turkmen in Tel Afar and in parts of the Kirkuk Governorate; calls also for measures to guarantee the safe return of displaced refugees;

22.  Urges the Iraqi Government, with support from the EU and its Member States, to provide means for de-mining areas formerly occupied by ISIS/Daesh and to work in cooperation with local councils representing the minorities in order to secure functioning coordination and avoid delays that would prevent the return of refugees and IDPs;

23.  Emphasises the need to continue to fight the further spread in the region and beyond of Islamist-jihadist ideologies, including Salafi jihadism which serves as a theological and political instigation for ISIS/Daesh’s crimes, including after the liberation of Mosul; calls on the EU Member States to push for referral to the International Criminal Court of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Iraq, Syria, Libya and elsewhere by ISIS/Daesh;

24.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the EU Special Representative for Human Rights, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, the Government and Council of Representatives of Iraq, the Regional Government of Kurdistan, and the United Nations Secretary-General.

(1) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2014)0171.
(2) OJ C 234, 28.6.2016, p. 25.
(3) OJ C 310, 25.8.2016, p. 35.
(4) OJ C 316, 30.8.2016, p. 113.
(5) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0051.


Situation of journalists in Turkey
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European Parliament resolution of 27 October 2016 on the situation of journalists in Turkey (2016/2935(RSP))
P8_TA(2016)0423RC-B8-1162/2016

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its previous resolutions on Turkey, in particular that of 15 January 2015 on freedom of expression in Turkey: Recent arrests of journalists, media executives and systematic pressure against media(1),

–  having regard to its resolution of 14 April 2016 on the 2015 report on Turkey(2),

–  having regard to the Commission’s Turkey 2015 report of 10 November 2015 (SWD(2015)0216),

–  having regard to the joint statement of 16 July 2016 by Vice-President/High Representative Federica Mogherini and Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn on the situation in Turkey,

–  having regard to the Council conclusions on Turkey of 18 July 2016,

–  having regard to the statement of 21 July 2016 by Vice-President/High Representative Federica Mogherini and Commissioner Johannes Hahn on the declaration of the state of emergency in Turkey,

–  having regard to the EU-Turkey High Level Political Dialogue of 9 September 2016,

–  having regard to the fact that respect for the rule of law, including freedom of expression, is at the core of EU values,

–  having regard to the right to freedom of expression enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Turkey is a state party,

–  having regard to the recommendations contained in the Opinion on Articles 216, 299, 301 and 314 of the Penal Code of Turkey, adopted by the Venice Commission at its 106th plenary session (Venice, 11-12 March 2016),

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

A.  whereas an attempted coup d’état took place in Turkey on 15 July 2016, in which more than 250 people were killed and more than 2 100 injured;

B.  whereas defending democracy, with a full commitment to human rights and the rule of law, is important, as is cooperation between the EU, the Council of Europe and Turkey in this regard; whereas Turkey is a key partner of the European Union;

C.  whereas, according to the European Federation of Journalists and the Turkish Journalists’ Association, following the coup attempt of 15 July 2016 the Turkish police have arrested at least 99 journalists and writers, most of whom have had no charges brought against them to date, bringing the number of media workers detained on charges believed to be related to their exercise of the right to freedom of expression to at least 130, as of 20 October 2016; whereas 64 of those journalists arrested after 15 July 2016 have been released; whereas the detained journalists have been denied the right of access to a lawyer and are being kept in inhumane conditions in which they are being threatened and mistreated; whereas there are claims that the co-editors-in-chief of the closed daily newspaper Özgür Gündem, Bilir Kaya and Inan Kizilkaya, have been tortured in prison;

D.  whereas restrictions on the media and pressure on journalists were already considerable before the failed coup; whereas, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, the Turkish authorities have, following the attempted coup d’état, closed down the offices of more than 100 broadcasters, newspapers, magazines, publishers and distribution companies, leaving over 2 300 journalists and media workers without jobs; whereas the press credentials of at least 330 journalists have been revoked;

E.  whereas among those journalists detained are, for example, well-known novelist Asli Erdogan, who was also an Advisory Board member and columnist for the Kurdish daily newspaper Özgür Gündem, which is now closed, academic and columnist Mehmet Altan, and his brother Ahmet Altan, a writer and former editor of the weekly newspaper Taraf;

F.  whereas, according to Human Rights Watch, many of those legal actions were taken in the absence of any evidence of participation by those accused in the failed coup attempt; whereas the right to a fair trial must be ensured, and whereas the judicial system’s handling of media-related cases shows a lack of impartiality and independence;

1.  Strongly condemns the attempted coup in Turkey of 15 July 2016; supports the legitimate institutions of Turkey; deplores the high number of casualties; expresses its solidarity with the victims and their families;

2.  Acknowledges the right and responsibility of the Turkish Government to respond to the coup attempt; stresses, however, that the failed military take-over cannot be used as an excuse for the Turkish Government to further stifle legitimate and peaceful opposition and to prevent journalists and the media in their peaceful exercise of freedom of expression through disproportionate and illegal actions and measures;

3.  Calls on the Turkish authorities to release those journalists and media workers being held without compelling evidence of criminal activity, including well-known journalists such as as Nazli Ilicak, Sahin Alpay, Asli Erdogan, Murat Aksoy, Ahmet Altan and Mehmet Altan; stresses that the journalists should not be detained on the basis of the content of their journalism or alleged affiliations, including in cases where charges are brought against them, and underlines the need to ensure that pre-trial detention remains an exception;

4.  Recalls that a free and pluralistic press is an essential component of any democracy, as are due process, presumption of innocence and judicial independence; reminds the Turkish authorities that the utmost care must be taken when dealing with the media and journalists, as freedom of expression and freedom of the media remain central to the functioning of a democratic and open society;

5.  Regrets that emergency provisions have also been used to harass family members of journalists who have fled abroad or gone into hiding, including by cancelling their passports or temporarily detaining them instead of those accused;

6.  Is seriously concerned about the closure of more than 150 media outlets; calls for them to be reopened, their independence restored and their dismissed employees reinstated in accordance with due process; calls on the Turkish authorities to end the practice of misusing provisions in the penal code to appoint trustees to private media organisations and to halt executive interference with independent news organisations, including in relation to editorial decisions, dismissals of journalists and editors, and pressure and intimidation against critical news outlets and journalists; condemns the attempts by the Turkish authorities to intimidate and expel foreign correspondents;

7.  Calls on the Government of Turkey to narrow the scope of the emergency measures, so that they can no longer be used to curtail freedom of expression; stresses that investigations related to alleged involvement in the attempted coup should be carried out in accordance with due process and impartially and on the basis of convincing evidence and not on guilt by association, which may result in collective punishment;

8.  Stresses that Turkey faces a real threat from terrorism; reiterates, however, that the broadly defined Turkish anti-terrorism legislation should not be used to punish journalists for exercising their right of freedom of expression; calls, as a matter of urgency, for the implementation of the Venice Commission recommendations of March 2016 and the reform of the anti-terrorism legislation;

9.  Calls on the European External Action Service (EEAS) and the Member States to continue monitoring the practical implications of the state of emergency closely and to ensure that all trials of journalists are monitored;

10.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Vice‑President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, and the President, Government and Parliament of Turkey.

(1) OJ C 300, 18.8.2016, p. 45.
(2) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0133.


Nuclear security and non-proliferation
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European Parliament resolution of 27 October 2016 on nuclear security and non-proliferation (2016/2936(RSP))
P8_TA(2016)0424RC-B8-1122/2016

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its resolution of 17 January 2013 on the Recommendations of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference regarding the establishment of a Middle East free of weapons of mass destruction(1),

–  having regard to its resolution of 10 March 2010 on the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons(2),

–  having regard to the EU seminars on non-proliferation and disarmament and to the regular meetings of the EU Non-Proliferation Consortium,

–  having regard to the EU Strategy against proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction , adopted by the European Council on 12 December 2003,

–  having regard to the failure of the 2015 NPT review conference to agree on a final document,

–  having regard to the Council conclusions on the Ninth Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (8079/15),

–  having regard to the documents adopted in spring 2016 at the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington,

–  having regard to UN Security Council Resolution 2310 (2016) on the 20th anniversary of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT),

–  having regard to the Tbilisi Declaration of 2016 adopted by consensus by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe,

–  having regard to UN General Assembly Resolution 66/61 of 13 December 2011 on the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the region of the Middle East,

–  having regard to Council Decision 2012/422/CFSP of 23 July 2012 in support of a process leading to the establishment of a zone free of nuclear weapons and all other weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East(3),

–  having regard to UN General Assembly Resolution 70/33 of 7 December 2015 on taking forward multilateral nuclear disarmament, and to the UN Open-Ended Working Group (OEWG) report to the UN General Assembly adopted on 19 August 2016 (A/71/371),

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

A.  whereas the global security environment, and particularly that of the EU, has deteriorated considerably, becoming more fluid, more precarious and less predictable; notes that there are conventional, unconventional and hybrid threats, generated by both state and non-state regional and global actors;

B.  whereas international peace, security and stability are seriously challenged by various developments, including deteriorating relationships between nuclear-armed states such as the Russian Federation and the United States, and India and Pakistan, and the further development of nuclear capabilities by North Korea;

C.  whereas the proliferation of biological and chemical forms of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) is being minimised and progressively halted through effective international application of the prohibition and obligations contained in the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC) of 1972 and the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC); whereas, however, the proliferation of nuclear WMDs and their means of delivery remains one of the most serious concerns for the global community;

D.  whereas as of January 2016 nine states – the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) – possessed a total of approximately 15 395 nuclear weapons, compared with some 15 850 in 2015;

E.  whereas priorities include preventing terrorists or additional states from obtaining or using nuclear weapons, reducing and eliminating all nuclear arsenals, and moving towards a world without nuclear weapons;

F.  whereas a number of nuclear-weapon-free zone treaties already exist in certain regions of the world, namely Latin America and the Caribbean, the South Pacific, South-East Asia, Africa and Central Asia;

G.  whereas the 2010 NPT Review Conference placed a renewed focus on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons, which was brought forward by the governments of Norway, Mexico and Austria via successive conferences on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons and their respective reports, as well as the international Humanitarian Pledge initiated by Austria and delivered at the 2015 NPT Review Conference, which has been endorsed by 127 UN member states;

H.  whereas there is a need further to reinforce the core non-proliferation and disarmament objectives of the three pillars of the NPT, namely non-proliferation, disarmament and cooperation on the peaceful use of nuclear energy; whereas nuclear-weapon states that are signatories to the NPT are modernising and enhancing their nuclear-weapon arsenals and delaying action to reduce or eliminate their nuclear arsenals and to decrease their adherence to a military doctrine of nuclear deterrence;

I.  whereas progress was formally made in the securing of civilian fissile material by the Nuclear Security Summits, which have been conducted through a complementary process outside of the NPT and have contributed to strengthening the NPT by increasing the credibility of its non-proliferation component, but whereas the recent refusal of Russia to cooperate and the deterioration of its relations with the United States are jeopardising further efforts to secure and reduce fissile materials;

J.  whereas the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material is a legally binding international instrument in the area of physical protection of nuclear material which establishes measures related to the prevention, detection and punishment of offences related to nuclear material;

K.  whereas Russia and the United States continue to implement the New START Treaty, which will expire in 2021 unless extended by both parties; whereas US President Barack Obama, in his 2013 speech in Berlin, made a significant proposal on reducing nuclear warheads, which he repeated in 2016 in Washington; whereas these openings for the commencement of negotiations on a follow-on agreement after New START have not been reciprocated by the Russian Federation, and no follow-on to the New START Treaty has yet been negotiated to address reductions in non-strategic and strategic nuclear weapons with a view to their elimination;

L.  whereas nuclear-weapon test explosions and/or any other nuclear explosions represent a threat to international peace and security and undermine the global nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation regime; whereas the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) is the most effective way of prohibiting nuclear-weapon tests; whereas 2016 marks the 20th anniversary of the opening for signature of the CTBT on 24 September 1996;

M.  whereas despite all efforts to convene it, the Conference on the establishment of a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons and all other weapons of mass destruction by December 2012, in accordance with consensus agreements of NPT States Parties at the 2010 Review Conference, has not taken place;

N.  whereas NATO’s 2010 Strategic Concept and the 2012 Deterrence and Defence Posture Review commit NATO to creating the conditions for a world without nuclear weapons; whereas under NATO nuclear sharing and bilateral arrangements, an estimated 150 to 200 US-owned short-range nuclear free-fall bombs, regarded as tactical or sub-strategic nuclear weapons, continue to be deployed in five NATO non-nuclear weapon states (Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Turkey), and whereas the weapons are deployed in these countries in accordance with NATO’s current policies;

O.  whereas the safety and security of US nuclear weapons deployed in Turkey has come under increased attention as a result of the armed conflict in Syria taking place close to the Incirlik air base and as a consequence of the events at and around the Incirlik airbase during and after the failed coup on 15 July 2016;

P.  whereas 5 December 2015 marked the 20th anniversary of the signing of the Budapest Memorandum; whereas Ukraine has respected all of its provisions and has taken proactive positions on the issues of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, unlike the Russian Federation, which has violated its commitments by occupying part of Ukraine’s territory (Crimea) and by launching armed aggression in the east of Ukraine; whereas this has created a dangerous precedent, since a state which had guaranteed Ukraine’s security as a response to that country’s decision to join the NPT as a non-nuclear-weapon state violated Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and undermined the credibility of, and heavily damaged in general, the instrument of negative security assurances provided by the nuclear weapon state, as well as damaging the NPT and the idea of advancing global nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation on the basis of international law and multilateral treaties; deeply concerned by the statements made in a threatening manner by high-ranking Russian officials that Russia has the right to deploy and host nuclear weapons in Crimea, which would have global consequences; concerned by the new Russian military doctrine of December 2014 which permits the use of nuclear weapons against a state that does not have such weapons;

Q.  whereas Russia has deployed nuclear-capable Iskander short-range missiles to Kaliningrad and is conducting exercises and overflights involving nuclear-capable systems, and whereas statements by the Russian leadership on the importance of nuclear deterrence and Russia’s decision to suspend the Plutonium Disposition and Management Agreement concluded with the US in 2000 have aggravated concerns about increased reliance on nuclear weapons by Russia;

R.  whereas the EU plays an important role as a party to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action agreed with Iran, including its role as a full member of the Joint Commission overseeing implementation of the agreement;

S.  whereas on 9 September 2016, the DPRK conducted its fifth nuclear test, only months after the test of 6 January 2016; whereas this test, which the DPRK claimed was a ‘successful hydrogen bomb test’, clearly violates its international obligations under the UN Security Council resolutions and the 1992 inter-Korean denuclearisation declaration, which states that the two Koreas will not develop or hold any nuclear weapons; whereas the proliferation of any WMD, but in particular nuclear weapons and their means of delivery, represents a threat to international peace and security; whereas the DPRK announced its withdrawal from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in 2003, has been conducting nuclear tests since 2006 and officially declared in 2009 that it had developed a nuclear weapon for deterrence, which means that the threat posed by the DPRK to its neighbours in North-East Asia, and to regional and international peace and security, has been amplified;

T.  whereas the 2003 European Security Strategy stated that the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction is potentially the greatest threat to our security, including the possibility of a WMD arms race, and that the EU is committed to achieving universal adherence to multilateral treaty regimes, and to strengthening the treaties and their verification provisions; whereas the 2016 EU Global Strategy omits any language on WMDs, non-proliferation and arms control;

U.  whereas, regrettably, the EU, in the run-up to the 2015 NPT Review Conference, was unable to agree on a joint position on nuclear disarmament, acknowledging for the first time that ‘different views’ were being expressed on the consequences of nuclear weapons; whereas that conference was unable to adopt a final document owing to disagreements on pursuing regional efforts to create a WMD-free zone in the Middle East;

V.  whereas the EU has committed itself to making use of all adequate instruments at its disposal to prevent, deter, halt and, if possible, eliminate proliferation programmes causing concern at global level, as clearly expressed in the EU strategy against proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, adopted by the European Council on 12 December 2003, and whereas it ensured the deeper cooperation of European non-proliferation think tanks as part of the EU Non-Proliferation Consortium;

W.  whereas it is important to support and reinforce civil society engagement in this international process in a transparent manner;

1.  Expresses deep concern about the deterioration of the security environment around the European Union and beyond its neighbourhood, which could lead to the re-emergence of nuclear weapons as an active deterrent and possible proliferation among state and non-state actors, and about the lack of implementation of effective disarmament and non-proliferation steps;

2.  Calls on all nuclear-weapon states to take concrete interim measures to reduce the risk of nuclear-weapon detonations, including reducing the operational status of nuclear weapons and moving nuclear weapons away from deployment into storage, diminishing the role of nuclear weapons in military doctrines and rapidly reducing all types of nuclear weapons;

3.  Expresses deep concern at the potential violations of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty;

4.  Expresses its deep concern at the increased nuclear threats arising from the Russian attitude, with implications for security, stability and predictability at global level, and at the deteriorating relationship with NATO, including potential violations of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, statements indicating an increased readiness to use nuclear weapons, and statements indicating consideration of the potential deployment of nuclear weapons to additional territories in Europe; draws attention to Russian military exercises simulating the use of nuclear weapons against Poland, and expresses deep concern regarding the deployment of nuclear-capable Iskander missile systems to the Kaliningrad oblast which neighbours EU Member States Poland and Lithuania; recalls that the International Court of Justice ruled in its 1996 advisory opinion that under current international law, it could not ‘reach a definitive conclusion as to the legality or illegality of the use of nuclear weapons by a State in an extreme circumstance of self-defence’;

5.  Supports the 2016 Nuclear Security Summit, recognising that the unauthorised trade in and use of nuclear materials is an immediate and serious threat to global security, and looks forward to achieving the complete tracking and physical securing of all weapons-grade materials;

6.  Welcomes the completion of the work of the UN Open-Ended Working Group (OEWG) taking forward multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations, pursuant to UN General Assembly resolution 70/33; welcomes the recommendation to the UN General Assembly, contained in the final report of the OEWG (A/71/371) and adopted with widespread support on 19 August 2016, to convene a conference in 2017, open to all states, to negotiate a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination; recognises that this will reinforce the non-proliferation and disarmament objectives and obligations contained in the NPT and help to create the conditions for global security and a world without nuclear weapons;

7.  Invites the EU Member States to support the convening of such a conference in 2017 and to participate constructively in its proceedings, and invites Vice-President/High Representative Federica Mogherini and the European External Action Service to contribute constructively to the proceedings of the 2017 negotiating conference;

8.  Recalls the 20th anniversary of the opening for signature of the CTBT on 24 September 1996, and underlines that a universal, internationally and effectively verifiable test-ban treaty is the most effective way of banning nuclear-weapon test explosions and any other nuclear explosions;

9.  Urges the remaining states listed in Annex II to the CTBT, ratification by which is required for its entry into force, to sign and/or ratify the Treaty with a renewed sense of urgency, in order to bring this crucial international instrument into full legal effect without further delay; welcomes in this regard the adoption by the UN Security Council of Resolution 2310 (2016);

10.  Expresses its appreciation for the significant progress that has been achieved by the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organisation (CTBTO) in completing and operating its effective International Monitoring System, which, even without the entry into force of the Treaty, contributes to regional stability as a significant confidence-building measure, strengthens the nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament regime and brings additional scientific and civil benefits to states; expresses its conviction that for the continued operation of the monitoring system, the CTBTO Preparatory Commission will continue to rely on states’ funding contributions;

11.  Deplores the fact that, despite hopes to the contrary, nuclear weapons are returning to the strategic planning of nuclear-armed states; calls for a deepening of the dialogue with all nuclear-armed states with a view to pursuing a common agenda aimed at progressive reductions of nuclear warhead stockpiles; supports, in particular, the steps taken by the US and Russia to reduce their deployed nuclear weapons as agreed in the New START Treaty;

12.  Deplores the absence since the entry into force of New START in 2011 of further negotiations on an urgently needed reduction of the deployed and non-deployed nuclear warheads, including, as formerly agreed by the US and Russia, measures to reduce and eliminate short-range and theatre nuclear weapons regarded as sub-strategic or non-strategic nuclear weapons;

13.  Recognises that mutual and simultaneous removal of short-range, theatre and designated sub-strategic nuclear-weapon warheads from European territory could contribute positively to creating the conditions for the construction of further nuclear-weapon-free zones, thereby contributing to the fulfilment of the non-proliferation and disarmament obligations contained in the NPT and, in the meantime, setting a precedent for further nuclear disarmament;

14.  Commends the establishment of nuclear-free zones as a positive step towards a nuclear-free world; takes the view, in this regard, that a nuclear-free zone in the Middle East, based on arrangements freely arrived at, would be of fundamental importance for the achievement of lasting and comprehensive peace in the region; in this context, expresses grave disappointment at the failure to hold the NPT-mandated 2012 conference on the establishment of a WMD-free zone in the Middle East;

15.  Supports further efforts to strengthen the mandate of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), including the generalisation of the Additional Protocols to the IAEA Safeguard Agreements and other steps designed to develop confidence-building measures; seeks to ensure that sufficient resources are made available to that organisation to enable it to fulfil its vital mandate in making nuclear activities secure; calls for progress in the upcoming 2017 NPT preparatory committee and the 2018 High Level Conference on Nuclear Disarmament;

16.  Welcomes the agreement between the P5+1 powers and Iran on the latter’s nuclear ambitions and encourages continued cooperation between both sides in order to ensure full implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA); believes that the 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 composed 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 VP/HR 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;

17.  Condemns the latest nuclear tests conducted by the DPRK and the rejection by that country of the various UN Security Council resolutions, including the most recent of 2 March 2016 (2070); urges the DPRK to refrain from further provocative actions by abandoning its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner, to cease all related activities and to comply immediately with all its international obligations, including the resolutions of the UN Security Council and the IAEA Board of Governors, as well as other international disarmament and non-proliferation norms and to return to the negotiating table; calls on the DPRK to sign and ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty without delay; affirms its desire for a diplomatic and political solution to the DPRK nuclear issue and supports the resumption of the Six-Party Talks; urges China to exert more pressure on the DPRK;

18.  Welcomes the inclusion of non-proliferation of WMD clauses in the EU’s agreements with third countries and action plans; points out that such measures must be implemented by all the EU’s partner countries without exception;

19.  Welcomes the presentation of the EU Global Strategy and urges the EEAS, as a follow-up measure, to update and expand the 2003 EU Strategy against proliferation of WMD and the 2009 New Lines of Action, taking into account the issues and problems described above, with a view to making the EU a driving force in strengthening and taking forward multilateral nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation agreements;

20.  Welcomes regular engagements with these topics via the EU Non-Proliferation Consortium and other civil society organisations and think tanks, and invites the EU Non-Proliferation Consortium, steered by the EU Principal Adviser and Special Envoy for Non-Proliferation and Disarmament, to broaden its agenda and include disarmament;

21.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Member States, the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the Council, the Commission, the UN Secretary-General, the UN High Commissioner for Disarmament Affairs, the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organisation and the Director-General of the IAEA and the parliaments of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council.

(1) OJ C 440, 30.12.2015, p. 97.
(2) OJ C 349 E, 22.12.2010, p. 77.
(3) OJ L 196, 24.7.2012, p. 67.


European Voluntary Service
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European Parliament resolution of 27 October 2016 on European Voluntary Service and the promotion of volunteering in Europe (2016/2872(RSP))
P8_TA(2016)0425RC-B8-1126/2016

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Council Decision of 27 November 2009 on the European Year of Voluntary Activities Promoting Active Citizenship (2011)(1),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 20 September 2011 entitled ‘EU Policies and Volunteering: Recognising and Promoting Cross-border Voluntary Activities in the EU’ (COM(2011)0568),

–  having regard to the European Year of Volunteering (EYV) 2011 Alliance Policy Agenda for Volunteering in Europe,

–  having regard to the Council recommendation of 20 December 2012 on the validation of non-formal and informal learning(2),

–  having regard to its resolution of 10 December 2013 on volunteering and voluntary activity in Europe(3),

–  having regard to the definition of volunteer work proposed by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in its Manual on the Measurement of Volunteer Work (2011);

–  having regard to its resolution of 12 June 2012 on recognising and promoting cross-border voluntary activities in the EU(4),

–  having regard to its resolution of 22 April 2008 on the role of volunteering in contributing to economic and social cohesion(5),

–  having regard to the European Charter on the Rights and Responsibilities of Volunteers(6),

–  having regard to the question to the Commission on Volunteering and European Voluntary Service (O-000107/2016 – B8-1803/2016),

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

A.  recalling that in 2016 the European Voluntary Service (EVS) celebrates its 20th anniversary and that 100 000 volunteers have been supported over those 20 years;

B.  emphasising that the European Year of Volunteering 2011, strongly supported by the European Parliament, represented a major political opportunity to highlight the added value of volunteering in Europe and that now, five years later, the European Parliament should reflect on the impact the European Year of Volunteering 2011 had in terms of added value on policy development and on how volunteering is embedded in key European programmes, such as Erasmus+ and its European Voluntary Service;

C.  recalling that the European Year of Volunteering 2011 provided the impetus and context for the establishment and/or revision of many national and legal frameworks for volunteering across Europe; stressing, however, that Europe still lacks a coordinated volunteering policy with a single contact point in the EU institutions;

D.  recalling that volunteering is undertaken of a person’s own free will, choice and motivation, without their seeking financial gain; emphasising that it can be defined as a journey of solidarity and that it is a way of addressing human, social and environmental needs and concerns;

E.  whereas volunteering is a key factor in active citizenship and democracy, as well as in personal development, embodying European values such as solidarity and non-discrimination, and whereas it also helps to boost participatory democracy and promote human rights inside and outside the EU;

F.  stressing that volunteering has a value and importance as one of the most visible expressions of solidarity, which promotes and facilitates social inclusion, builds social capital and produces a transformative effect on society, and that volunteering contributes both to the development of a thriving civil society, which can offer creative and innovative solutions to common challenges, and to economic growth, and that as such it deserves to be measured in a specific, targeted way in terms of both economic and social capital;

G.  recalling that a supportive environment is key to ensuring engagement by more European citizens in volunteering, thus guaranteeing fair funding for the volunteering infrastructure, including organisations involving volunteers, in order to benefit the volunteers themselves and their activities;

H.  emphasising that volunteering requires a combination of support mechanisms and/or appropriate organisational structures that identify rights and responsibilities for volunteers and volunteering;

I.  stressing that every person is entitled to equal access to volunteering opportunities and protection against all kinds of discrimination, and should be given the right to reconcile their volunteering activity with their private and working life, so they can achieve a certain amount of flexibility during the volunteering activity;

J.  emphasising that recognition of the social and economic value of volunteering is also crucial in order to encourage appropriate incentives for all stakeholders and so increase the quantity, quality and impact of volunteering;

K.  recalling the European Volunteering Capital Competition that recognises the achievements of municipalities across Europe in recognising and supporting the efforts of volunteers in their areas;

L.  stressing that the new Erasmus+ programme is still offering opportunities to fund and support volunteer projects, notably through the EVS Programme, and that the EU Aid Volunteers programme has been launched by DG ECHO to provide practical support to humanitarian aid projects; recognising that the new EU MFF 2014-2020 secured some EU funds for volunteering, with, notably, the Europe for Citizens programme, currently managed by DG HOME, retaining volunteering as a priority; noting, however, that access for volunteer organisations to other major EU funds, such as the European Structural and Investment Funds, remains very limited;

M.  recalling that the EU’s response to the current refugee crisis is a relevant example, and a visible symbol, of the importance of volunteers and the way that they embody European values, contribute to resilience and are available to offer flexible, pragmatic solutions to shared challenges;

1.  Recognises that volunteering is an expression of solidarity, freedom and responsibility that contributes to the strengthening of active citizenship and to personal human development, and that it is an essential tool for social inclusion and cohesion, as well as training, education and intercultural dialogue, while making an important contribution to the dissemination of European values; stresses that its benefits are also recognised in voluntary work carried out with third countries as a strategic tool for fostering mutual understanding and intercultural relations;

2.  Highlights the importance of providing a European framework for volunteering actions which identifies rights and responsibilities, and facilitates mobility and recognition of skills; encourages Member States that still need to define a legal environment for volunteers to use the recommendations in the Policy Agenda for Volunteering in Europe and the European Charter on the Rights and Responsibilities of Volunteers;

3.  Encourages the Member States to implement concrete validation processes in the framework of the Council Recommendation of 2012 to ensure better understanding and comparability of skills and experience; asks for any future European Skills Passport and Europass initiatives to give volunteering greater relevance as informal and non-formal learning; recalls that volunteering helps people to gain skills and competences that can facilitate their access to the labour market; underlines that volunteers should never be considered or used as replacement labour;

4.  Notes that in Europe nearly 100 million citizens of all ages are volunteers, whose work contributes to the production of approximately 5 % of its GDP; calls on the Commission to consider the economic value of goods and services provided by volunteers through more volunteer-focused policy making;

5.  Suggests that making volunteer time eligible as co-funding for EU grants, as recently proposed by the Commission in the new Financial Regulation proposal, needs to be supported and implemented;

6.  Calls on Eurostat to support Member States in this exercise in order to ensure that comparative data are collected in Europe, as well as developing common EU-wide indicators and methodologies for measuring the social impact of volunteering; urges the Member States to adopt the system developed by the International Labour Organisation to measure the economic value of volunteering;

7.  Encourages those Member States that have not yet done so to establish adequately funded national voluntary service schemes and to improve access to quality information on volunteering opportunities at national and local level, in particular through existing information networks and peer-to-peer information, and to create national civic service hubs, which would also promote international volunteering opportunities to people of all ages;

8.  Calls on the Commission to facilitate the development of a more coordinated European volunteering policy with a view to establishing a single contact point in the Commission, which would interconnect the individual initiatives and programmes and improve access to volunteering programmes;

9.  Asks the Commission to conduct a study on national voluntary service schemes, as well as civic service and solidarity corps and the existing environment for potential volunteers among Member States, in order to facilitate mutual understanding and the dissemination of good practices, and the possibility of establishing a European Civic Service complementary to existing volunteering opportunities – all with a view to fostering European citizenship;

10.  Notes the Commission’s idea of creating a new European youth volunteering initiative, known as the ‘EU Solidarity Corps’; calls on the Commission to assess the added value of this initiative in order to assist the work already done by civil society, and to ensure that volunteer organisations are included in its design; further underlines the need to ensure that its implementation will not undermine the budgets already allocated for other programmes;

11.  Supports the Commission and the Member States in the celebration of the 20th anniversary of the EVS; insists that the EVS programme benefits the individuals and organisations involved, as well as society as a whole, and that the EVS should enhance the civic engagement dimension of the Erasmus+ programme; stresses the importance of promoting the EVS to all young people, especially those who are not yet interested in volunteering and mobility, thus creating motivation and changes in attitude, without excluding older generations, since they have an important contribution to make, for example as mentors;

12.  Encourages the Member States to promote the EVS in their educational and academic systems as a tool to disseminate education for solidarity and civic engagement among the younger generation;

13.  Recalls that the EVS is based on quality volunteering offers and follows the Volunteering Charter and the principles of the Quality Charter on Learning Mobility, and that the EVS should be based on a structure that encourages volunteering organisations to become hosting organisations, thus providing them with adequate funding and training, while strengthening the role of coordinating organisations that support a large number of hosting organisations, for example in terms of administration and training;

14.  Recalls that the EVS should allow quick and easy access to the programme, and therefore calls for a simplification of its current application system;

15.  Stresses the need to strengthen the follow-up and local dimension after a volunteering experience abroad by providing support not only before departure, but also upon return, in the form of post-orientation and post-integration training;

16.  Urges national, regional and local authorities to make adequate funding available, streamline administrative procedures and provide tax incentives for volunteer organisations and networks, in particular small organisations with limited resources;

17.  Insists that quality mentorship should be provided throughout the process by means of responsible volunteer management and by making volunteers aware of their own responsibility towards the organisation and the community;

18.  Asks the Commission to improve and reshape the communication strategy on the EVS by highlighting the social, human and civic value of volunteering;

19.  Stresses the role of active ageing in volunteering and reinforces the role of both young and older citizens in civic engagement in Europe, by building on the impetus of the European Year of Voluntary Activities (2011) and the European Year of Active Ageing and Solidarity between generations (2012);

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

(1) OJ L 17, 22.1.2010, p. 43.
(2) OJ C 398, 22.12.2012, p. 1.
(3) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0549.
(4) OJ C 332 E, 15.11.2013, p. 14.
(5) OJ C 259 E, 29.10.2009, p. 9.
(6) http://ec.europa.eu/citizenship/pdf/volunteering_charter_en.pdf


EU Youth Strategy 2013-2015
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European Parliament resolution of 27 October 2016 on the assessment of the EU Youth Strategy 2013-2015 (2015/2351(INI))
P8_TA(2016)0426A8-0250/2016

The European Parliament,

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

–  having regard to the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, and in particular Articles 14, 15, 21, 24 and 32 thereof,

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

–  having regard to the Council resolution on a European Union Work Plan for Youth for 2016-2018(2) and the Council resolution of 20 May 2014 on a European Union Work Plan for Youth for 2014-2015(3),

–  having regard to the Council recommendation of 22 April 2013 on establishing a Youth Guarantee(4),

–  having regard to the Council conclusions of 7-8 February 2013 to create a Youth Employment Initiative(5),

–  having regard to the Council resolution of 27 November 2009 on a renewed framework for European cooperation in the youth field (2010-2018)(6),

–  having regard to the Council conclusions of 12 May 2009 on a strategic framework for European cooperation in education and training (‘ET 2020’)(7),

–   having regard to its resolution of 12 April 2016 on Erasmus+ and other tools to foster mobility in VET – a lifelong learning approach(8),

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

–  having regard to the 2015 Joint Report of the Council and the Commission on the implementation of the renewed framework for European cooperation in the youth field (2010-2018), adopted by the Council on 23 November 2015,

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 15 September 2015 entitled ‘Draft 2015 Joint Report of the Council and the Commission on the implementation of the renewed framework for European cooperation in the youth field (2010-2018)’ (COM(2015)0429) and to the Commission staff working documents accompanying the Communication from the Commission ‘Results of the open method of coordination in the youth field with a special focus on the second cycle (2013-2015)’ (SWD(2015)0168) and ‘Situation of young people in the EU’ (SWD(2015)0169),

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

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 26 August 2015 entitled ‘Draft 2015 Joint Report of the Council and the Commission on the implementation of the strategic framework for European cooperation in education and training (ET2020) – New priorities for European cooperation in education and training’ (COM(2015)0408),

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

–  having regard to its resolutions of 11 September 2013 on the implementation of the EU Youth Strategy 2010-2012(9) and of 18 May 2010 on an EU Strategy for Youth – Investing and Empowering(10),

–   having regard to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child,

–   having regard to its resolution of 12 April 2016 on Learning EU at school(11),

–  having regard to its resolution of 8 September 2015 on promoting youth entrepreneurship through education and training(12),

–  having regard to its resolution of 28 April 2015 on the follow-up of the implementation of the Bologna process(13),

–   having regard to its resolution of 19 January 2016 on the role of intercultural dialogue, cultural diversity and education in promoting EU fundamental values(14),

–   having regard to the Shadow Report on Youth Policy published by the European Youth Forum,

–   having regard to the Council recommendation of 10 March 2014 on a Quality Framework for Traineeships,

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Culture and Education and the opinions of the Committee on Budgetary Control and the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs (A8-0250/2016),

A.  whereas young people should be actively involved in the planning, development, implementation, monitoring and assessment of all youth policies;

B.  whereas young people should be helped and empowered to address the extremely serious problems they currently face and to tackle the challenges they will face in the future through more relevant, effective and better coordinated youth policies and targeted use of economic, employment and social policies resources at local, regional, national and EU level;

C.  whereas there is a need to reinforce the mainstreaming of youth policy, cross sectorial cooperation, social action within the EU and the synergy between the European Youth Strategy and other European strategies such as those concerning education, training, health and employment, in order to guarantee that both current and future policy making effectively addresses the situations and needs of young people, who are having to deal with severe economic, employment and social problems and whereas in this regard the participation of youth organisations in policy making is crucial;

D.  whereas the open method of coordination is applied in the youth field, inspired by European cooperation in the field of employment;

E.  whereas one of the objectives set for the Erasmus+ programme as a whole is to contribute to the achievement of the renewed framework for European cooperation in the youth field (2010-2018); whereas in this regard access to project grants for youth organisations under the renewed Erasmus+ programme as well as removing barriers for the eligibility of small projects must be ensured;

F.  whereas the EU Youth Strategy (2010-2018) has eight main fields of action in which initiatives should be taken – education and training, employment and entrepreneurship, health and well-being, participation, voluntary activities, social inclusion, youth and the world as well as creativity and culture;

G.  whereas the third and final three-year cycle of the EU Youth Strategy (2010-2018) will prioritise the social inclusion of all young people, especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds, stronger participation in democratic and civic life and easier transition into the labour market;

H.  whereas the EU Youth Strategy (2010-2018) emphasises the need for a continuous structured dialogue between decision-makers and young people and youth organisations; points out however that 57 % of youth organisations in the EU consider that youth expertise is not taken into account when youth policies are being formulated;

I.  whereas youth policy should be rights-based and support the development of all young people, ensuring the fulfilment of young people's rights and potential, while avoiding stigmatising specific groups;

J.  whereas it is important to underline that young people are politically engaged in many ways, but their participation in elections is decreasing;

K.  whereas it is important to ensure that all young people have access to quality education – both formal and non-formal – and training as today's European youth is facing high unemployment rates in many Member States, unstable jobs and an increased risk of poverty and social exclusion, and in particular young people with poor qualifications, young people not in education, employment or training (NEETs) and those with special needs, disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds such as ethnic minorities, refugees, migrants and asylum seekers who are more likely to be unemployed and marginalised;

L.  whereas continued efforts are needed to increase participation levels in the labour markets among young women – particularly after maternity leave and if single mothers – and young migrants, school-drop outs, the low-skilled, young people with disabilities and all youngsters at risk of discrimination;

M.  whereas education and training can contribute to tackling social disengagement, marginalisation and radicalisation of young people and to addressing youth unemployment and to raising young people's awareness of the importance of the fundamental values underpinning the EU; whereas intercultural and interreligious approaches are crucial for building mutual respect and integrating young people into education and social life as well as for combating prejudices and intolerance;

N.  whereas the specific nature of sports activity and its contribution to the social inclusion of disadvantaged young people, especially refugees and migrants, means that it helps to overcome xenophobia and racism;

O.  whereas young people are the future and should be seen as a resource with tremendous potential for the future of European societies;

P.  whereas it is crucial to incorporate a gender perspective into youth policies which takes into account the specific circumstances and challenges faced by young women and girls, at all stages of the policy process; whereas specific gender-sensitive measures must be included in youth policy on issues such as combating violence against women and girls, sex and relationship education, and education on gender equality;

Q.  whereas the needs of young people affected by multiple discrimination, including young people with disabilities or with mental health conditions, and young people identifying themselves as LGBTI, must also be given special consideration when designing and implementing youth policies;

R.  whereas social inclusion and social mobility must be central priorities of the EU Youth Strategy, and it must therefore specifically target young people in vulnerable groups, such as young people facing poverty and social exclusion, young people from isolated rural areas or those from marginalised communities such as ethnic minorities or refugees and asylum seekers;

General recommendations

1.  Welcomes the EU Youth Report of 15 September 2015 based on the Commission communication on the implementation of the renewed framework for European cooperation in the youth field (2010-2018)(COM(2015)0429), including the main results of the latest three-year cycle of the EU Youth Strategy and proposing priorities for the next cycle; recommends the EU, national, regional and local authorities to make sure that the different programmes at EU level dealing with youth policies are well communicated, implemented, coordinated, in order to respond to new needs with a view to the social and educational challenges to come;

2.  Views the open method of coordination as an appropriate but still insufficient as a means for framing youth policies that needs to be complemented by other measures; reiterates its call for closer cooperation and exchange of best practices on youth issues at local, regional, national and EU level; urges the Member States to agree on clear indicators and benchmarks in order to allow for monitoring of the progress made;

3.  Emphasises that inclusion of youth with disability in employment is necessary so they can lead an independent life and be fully integrated in society as active participants and real contributors;

4.  Stresses the importance of the Structured Dialogue as a means of involving young people, both those who are involved in youth organisations and those who are not; highlights in this regard the need to increase and improve the outreach, visibility and quality of the process, giving special attention to the involvement of vulnerable and marginalised groups, in order to develop, implement and evaluate youth policies more effectively at all levels and to foster active citizenship among young people; calls for strengthening the Structured Dialogue as a quality participatory tool for young people in the next cooperation framework for youth;

5.  Notes the impact of the second cycle of the EU Youth Strategy (2013-2015) in stressing the importance of an adaptable approach to youth policy with cross-sectoral and multi-level involvement; values the Structured Dialogue with youth organisations in this regard; calls on the Commission and the Member States to improve access to high-quality education and training and employment for young people; recalls the eight fields of action being promoted by the EU Youth Strategy;

6.  Stresses the importance of the EU Youth Strategy, given the EU’s alarmingly high youth unemployment, the high and widely varying percentages of NEETs, and the challenges of youth poverty and social exclusion; stresses that the next cycle (2016-2018) should contribute to the two objectives of the EU Youth Strategy by identifying and tackling the causes of youth unemployment, such as early school leaving, by fostering entrepreneurship among young people, by investing in education, internships, apprenticeships and vocational training in the skills that reflect labour market opportunities, needs and developments, and by facilitating the transition to the labour market in terms of measures ensuring better coordination of education programmes, employment policy and labour market demands; points out that labour market actors must be supported in their endeavours to implement the Youth Guarantee Scheme in an effort to ensure that, at the latest, four months after leaving school, young people are either in employment, in education or undergoing vocational (re)training;

7.  Stresses that effective implementation of the EU Youth Strategy should be closely linked to achieving the Europe 2020 headline targets, particularly those of having 75 % of the population aged 20 to 64 in employment and lifting as many young people as possible out of poverty and social exclusion; notes that although there has been a decrease in some Member States since 2013, there is still a real concern that youth unemployment continues to stand at almost double the overall unemployment rate, with around 8 million young Europeans still unemployed; underlines, therefore, the importance of addressing geographical mismatches between job supply and demand both within and between Member States via the changes made to the European Job Mobility Portal (EURES), in order to improve youth employment opportunities and achieve greater social cohesion;

8.  Stresses that it is essential that the next cycle of the EU Youth Strategy includes young refugees and asylum seekers under its objectives and ensures their equal and non-discriminatory treatment, access to education, training and employment and social inclusion, thus helping them build their identity in the host countries and make full use of their talents and potential, and avoid their marginalisation and disenchantment;

9.  Expresses its concern at the brain drain and the dangers thereof for certain Member States, in particular those facing difficulties and included in adjustment programmes, where an increasing number of graduates are being forced by massive unemployment to go abroad, depriving the countries concerned of their most valuable and productive human resources;

10.  Stresses the potential of new technologies for connecting with young people and calls on the EU and the Member States to take advantage of those technologies to strengthen the dialogue with young people and their capacity to participate in society;

11.  Stresses the importance of involving young people and youth organisations in shaping the priorities and drafting a new EU Youth Cooperation Framework after 2018;

12.  Recommends that the Member States and the EU implement an impact assessment of policies that are targeted at young people;

13.  Considers the sharing of best practices, evidence-based policymaking, expert groups, peer learning activities and reviews to be important tools in result-oriented cross-sectorial cooperation to support young people; stresses the importance of disseminating the results of these activities to maximise the impact;

14.  Stresses the importance of cross-sectoral cooperation at all levels and notably between the different EU strategies that affect young people (current and future EU strategies on Youth, Education and Training Strategy, Health, Employment, etc.);

15.  Underlines the importance of, and the need to strengthen and further develop strategies and initiatives aimed at preventing violence and bullying in schools;

16.  Underlines the importance of high-quality cooperation, geared to the needs of the individual child or young person, including between families, religious communities and schools, local communities, youth organisations, youth workers and formal, non-formal or informal education, in guiding and helping young people towards full integration in society by providing a safe place for growing and learning;

17.  Suggests involving local and regional authorities in the area of youth policy, especially in those Member States where they have competence in this area;

18.  Stresses the importance of promoting healthy lifestyles to prevent disease, and considers it necessary to provide young people with correct information on and assistance with serious mental health problems such as tobacco, alcohol and drug use and addiction;

19.  Recalls the value of including an intergenerational dimension in youth policies and the need to create better dialogue between different generations;

20.  Underlines the importance of addressing poverty among young people from socio-economically deprived backgrounds, those with unemployed parents and those who have not managed to break out of their family’s socio-economic cycle;

21.  Urges the Member States to provide effective training in the national language, in accordance with the principles of multilingualism and non-discrimination and on the basis of national legislation and European principles, and to increase support for educational institutions that teach in the mother tongue of national or language minorities;

22.  Recalls the Europe 2020 headline target whereby the proportion of early leavers from education and training should be less than 10 %; stresses the need to combat early school leaving, which is a contributory factor to unemployment, by dialogue between the education sector, public employment services and the social partners, by identifying the shortcomings of the school system and society, by supporting students in finding their own learning methods, by implementing relevant and engaging curricula, by realising a strong and well-developed personalised guidance system with high-quality counselling and orientation services for all students, especially at the first signs of student dropout, by adequately informing students about future labour market opportunities and career paths, including technical and artisanal job profiles, by providing STEM education and dual learning, by ensuring qualitative apprenticeships, internships and work placements, and by offering students a second chance in the form of vocational training;

23.  Calls on the Member States to issue knowledge- and evidence-based reports on the social situation and living conditions of young people, and to draw up national action plans and implement them consistently;

24.  Stresses that the promotion of more and equal opportunities for all young people, furthering social inclusion, gender equality and solidarity and fighting all forms of discrimination in relation to young people, in particular on grounds of gender, racial or ethnic origin or disability, should be central to achieving the objectives of the EU Youth Strategy;

25.  Notes that youth policies and national strategies must be developed with and for young people;

26.  Welcomes in particular the usefulness of the Framework for European cooperation in the youth field (2010-2018) in its improvement of cooperation between the Member States and the European Union and opening up and developing of the opportunities and advantages offered by the European integration project to young people, and accordingly calls on the Commission to carry forward and develop the framework beyond 2018;

27.  Calls on the Member States to set up the educational structures needed to integrate young refugees, allowing them to learn the language of the country in which they have been granted asylum, to complete their initial training or to bring their existing skills up to European level in order to facilitate their integration into the labour market and European society;

28.  Calls for targeted measures regarding early school leavers, who need guidance, skilling and training, and an effective system in early education that identifies those who are at risk of becoming early schools leavers or NEETs, so that they are assisted from a young age and steered away from this disadvantage;

29.  Encourages Member States to incorporate the principle of solidarity between generations into their pension policies and to take account of the current and future impact of those policies on young people;

30.  Welcomes its resolution of 12 April 2016 on learning EU at school, and calls on the Member States accordingly to promote more extensive knowledge of the EU by means of formal, non-formal and informal education, targeting in particular the cooperation of providers of formal and non-formal/informal education, which can succeed within a continuing EU youth strategy;

31.  Calls on the Member States to involve independent organisations more closely in the implementation process, particularly at local level, and to improve coordination between existing procedures in the post-2018 strategy (e.g. by means of EU-wide involvement in youth welfare committees, etc.) so that the EU youth strategy continues to be of use;

32.  Highlights the need to equip young people with a solid knowledge and understanding of the EU, including through learning about EU fundamental values, and EU governance and decision-making processes, thereby enabling them to engage in a critical reflection on the EU and to become responsible and active European citizens; calls on the Commission and on the Member States to increase their efforts to promote an EU dimension in education with the aim of preparing learners to live and work in an increasingly complex and integrated Union that they can and are expected to shape;

Employment and education

33.  Calls on the Member States to make the best use of available EU and national policies and financial frameworks in order to promote appropriate investment in young people and the creation of quality and secure jobs; insists at all levels on the mobility schemes that result in improving skills and competences for young people, giving them self-confidence, developing their curiosity and interest in other ways of learning and being involved in society; recommends strongly the recognition and assessment of those skills, enhanced through mobility; calls on the EU and the Member States to ensure that young people have better access to information concerning all the programmes and initiatives from which they can benefit;

34.  Urges the Member States to fully implement the Erasmus+ programme, especially its apprenticeships facet, thereby promoting and fostering further cross-border training and career and labour mobility among young people and providing them with skills and competences for life, including language skills, while also broadening their opportunities and chances to participate in both the labour market and society, whatever their academic qualifications, skills or education level may be; expresses concern that the mobility of apprentices has not yet achieved the desired levels, and calls on the Commission, the Member States, companies and schools to find ways to overcome the remaining obstacles to the mobility of apprentices; stresses the importance of supporting young people in their mobility projects, given the age factor and their often unstable financial situations, including by removing certain indirect constraints on mobility, such as accommodation and transport difficulties;

35.  Calls for improved opportunities for VET students to do work placements in neighbouring countries in order to foster a better understanding of other Member States’ labour and training practices, for example by funding the travel costs of students who continue to live in their home country; points out that mobility in training is a vital asset when it comes to entering the job market, but also in understanding and engaging in the European project by experiencing it; emphasises the importance of implementing a European framework to promote mobility as part of apprenticeship and vocational training; calls, moreover, on the Member States to take full advantage of the EURES network so as to support intra-EU youth labour mobility, including mobility in apprenticeships;

36.  Highlights the importance of teaching and learning general basic skills such as ICT, maths, critical thinking, foreign languages, mobility, etc., which will enable young people to easily adapt to the changing social and economic environment;

37.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to boost ICT training in order to equip all young people with the relevant e-skills useful for the labour market, for example by reallocating funding within the Youth Employment Initiative;

38.  Reiterates that information and communication technologies (ICT) have an important role to play in young people’s personal and professional development, and acknowledges their potential to empower young people by bringing them together in response to social concerns and by allowing them to connect across geographical, social, religious, gender and economic barriers; calls on the Member States, therefore, to undertake measures to ensure that all young people are well equipped with up-to-date ICT skills and competences;

39.  Calls on the Commission and Member States to pursue youth and education programmes that empower young women and girls and facilitate their entry into traditionally male-dominated sectors where they are under-represented, such as entrepreneurship, ICT, and science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM);

40.  Reiterates the enormous potential of synergies between the STEM and ICT sectors and the fields of arts and design and the creative industries, making STEM into STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, mathematics), and emphasises the potential of such synergies to bring more young people, particularly women and girls, into STEM fields;

41.  Calls on the Member States to encourage women to take up training and careers in sectors where they have been under-represented, such as STEM and IT;

42.  Underlines the need to ensure that young people have the opportunity to attain at least basic digital skills and acquire knowledge and understanding about the media, in order to work, to learn and to participate actively in modern society;

43.  Notes that even if young people overcome the real challenge of finding a job, they do not necessarily secure the means to live above the poverty line in many Member States;

44.  Calls for the continuation of the Youth Employment Initiative (YEI); calls for subsequent adjustments to regulation and resources to be proposed in order to overcome the existing impediments to implementation up to the end of the current financial framework;

45.  Calls for better coordination at all levels between education and training curricula and the needs of the changing labour markets; calls for campaigns to provide information, raise awareness and enhance mobility programmes to be established in all general and vocational educational establishments in the EU in order to meet the policy objectives of economic, social and territorial cohesion of the EU and in view of the persistent inequalities between urban, suburban and rural areas; stresses, however, the importance of upholding the value of knowledge and of seeking to provide a fully rounded education and a solid academic grounding; encourages the enhancement of dialogue and cooperation between business and the universities with a view to developing educational programmes that equip young people with the right set of skills, knowledge and competencies; calls, in this regard, for closer cooperation between educational institutions, businesses, particularly SMEs, and employment services; suggests that Member States take over best practices from each other in this respect;

46.  Underlines the fact that a holistic and inclusive educational approach is essential in order to make all students feel welcome and included and empowered to take decisions about their own education; points to students leaving school with no qualifications as being one of the greatest challenges for our societies – and combating it one of our main goals – as it leads to social exclusion; points out that apart from adjusting training systems, specific measures must be introduced for those in greatest difficulty; recalls that traineeships and apprenticeships should lead to employment and that the working conditions and tasks assigned should enable trainees to acquire the practical experience and relevant skills needed to enter the labour market; believes that, in order to tackle youth unemployment, the involvement of regional and local public and private stakeholders in the design and implementation of the relevant policy mix is fundamental;

47.  Calls on the Member States to implement measures to facilitate young people’s transition from education to work, including by ensuring quality internships and apprenticeships, giving young people clearly defined rights that include access to social protection, written and binding contracts, and fair remuneration, in order to ensure that young people are not discriminated against when accessing the labour market, and adequately informing students about future labour market opportunities;

48.  Stresses that unemployment rates clearly decrease as the level of education attained rises, and that it is therefore necessary to promote and invest in higher education opportunities for young people in the EU;

49.  Points out, however, that education should not only provide skills and competences relevant to job market needs, but should also contribute to the personal development and growth of young people in order to make them proactive and responsible citizens; stresses, therefore, the need for civic education in the whole educational system, both formal and non-formal;

50.  Calls on the Member States to provide opportunities for dual careers for young people who are talented at sport, so that they can develop their talent as athletes while still acquiring educational skills;

51.  Stresses the need to include elements of entrepreneurial learning at all levels and in all forms of education and training, since instilling entrepreneurial spirit among the young at an early stage is an effective way of combating youth unemployment; in this context, urges active dialogue and cooperation between the university community and business with the aim of developing educational programmes that equip young people with the requisite skills and competences; emphasises, further, the need to promote and uphold policies to foster youth entrepreneurship, especially in the cultural and creative field and in the field of sport in order to create secure, quality jobs and to boost the social development and cohesion of communities; stresses, also, the potential offered by volunteer work for gaining skills, enhancing personal development and enabling young people to find their vocation;

52.  Points out that entrepreneurship requires the development of transversal skills such as creativity, critical thinking, teamwork and a sense of initiative, which contribute to young people's personal and professional development and facilitate their transition into the job market; believes there is a need, therefore, to facilitate and encourage participation by entrepreneurs in the educational process;

53.  Stresses the importance of investing more in start-ups and in young people taking on entrepreneurship, facilitating their access to initial capital and to experienced business mentor hubs;

54.  Recalls that employment and entrepreneurship constitute one of the eight priorities identified in the EU Youth Strategy (2010-2018); stresses that youth work and non‑formal learning, particularly via young entrepreneurs’ organisations and youth organisations, which offer young people the opportunity to develop innovative projects, gain entrepreneurial experience and acquire the wherewithal and confidence to launch their own businesses, play a vital role in developing young people’s creative and innovative potential, including their spirit of enterprise and entrepreneurial and civic skills; stresses the need to create an environment favourable to entrepreneurship and innovative start-ups in the interests of youth employment in Europe; emphasises that all the obstacles which prevent young people from developing their ideas, potential and attitudes must be removed;

55.  Recommends a stronger focus on entrepreneurship in the EU Youth Strategy as key to boosting economic growth; notes that in 2014 only one in five young Europeans wishes to start his or her own business, continuing to find the idea difficult; favours prioritising the development of an entrepreneurial culture at an early age, flexible work regulations allowing the combination of work and studies, dual education, and access to financing;

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

57.  Highlights the importance of social entrepreneurship as a driver of innovation, social development and employment, and calls therefore on the EU and the Member States to promote it better and to strengthen its role;

58.  Encourages the Member States to take measures to incentivise entrepreneurship by creating a more entrepreneur- and start-up-friendly environment for the launch of business start-ups, which could include schemes and measures for easy provision of credit by banks, simplified regulation and tax relief schemes and measures enabling young people to go ahead with their own business ideas; advocates training methods that foster an entrepreneurial and creative mentality and recruitment of graduates as young entrepreneurs;

59.  Underlines that, in order to tackle youth unemployment, Member States need well-trained career guidance personnel who are knowledgeable about both academic and vocational education opportunities and are aware of the current job market, likely developments in the Member States and the new sectors of their economies;

60.  Encourages the Member States to provide support for young people in starting their independent life and establishing their own families with the help of housing allowances, preferential arrangements and reductions in personal income tax, and to provide preferential loans for students;

61.  Stresses the importance of the mutual recognition and validation of skills, competences and knowledge that have been acquired through informal, non-formal and lifelong learning, as their validation is crucial in making visible and valorising the diverse and rich learning of individuals, particularly of individuals with fewer opportunities; points out that validation of skills contributes to enhancing access to formal education and to new professional opportunities, while reinforcing self-esteem and the motivation to learn, the development of values, aptitudes and skills for young people, as well as learning about citizenship and democratic involvement at every level; urges the Member States to increase their efforts to set up comprehensive validation mechanisms by 2018, as called for in the Council Recommendation of 20 December 2012 on the validation of non-formal and informal learning, in close collaboration with all the relevant key stakeholders, including youth organisations;

62.  Underscores the importance of formal, informal and non-formal learning, including as part of associative activities, for the development of values, aptitudes and skills in young people, as well as for learning about citizenship and democratic involvement; draws attention to the range of training possibilities and models available in the Member States and, in particular, to dual learning, which can soften the transition from education or training to employment; supports the implementation of lifelong learning; calls on the Commission and the Member States to ensure coherent, valid, Europe-wide recognition of the skills and competences acquired through formal, informal and non-formal learning and traineeships, with a view to bridging the gap between the skills shortages and skills mismatch observed in the European labour market, and to provide their support for such activities in the framework of the relevant EU programmes; calls, further, for a greater focus on languages, especially neighbouring languages, in the field of vocational education and training (VET) in order to strengthen the position and employability of the students concerned in the cross-border labour market;

63.  Notes that owing to the current wave of digitalisation and new trends in the labour market, more and more young people are encountering new forms of employment that balance flexibility with security; stresses the importance of adequate education for young people aimed at emphasising the role of social protection mechanisms in career development;

64.  Believes that early intervention and proactive labour market policies represent a shift from dealing with the symptoms of multi-generation deprivation towards identifying and managing risks early in life in order to prevent unemployment and facilitate reintegration; draws attention especially to the situation of those who are most marginalised and at greatest risk of unemployment;

65.  Stresses the importance of open and low-threshold programmes for working with young people from less stimulating environments;

66.  Stresses the importance for lifelong learning and improving the educational and employment opportunities of young people of guaranteeing the mutual cross-border recognition and compatibility of qualifications and academic degrees in order to strengthen the system of quality assurance; calls for the continuous expansion, evaluation and adaptation to changing training requirements of mutual cross-border recognition of qualifications and degrees, and notes that this should be ensured at European level and in all countries that have joined the European Higher Education Area and those listed in the European Qualifications Framework;

67.  Highlights in this regard the important role of non-formal and informal learning, as well as participation in sport and volunteering activities, in stimulating the development of civic, social and intercultural competencies and skills; emphasises the fact that some countries have made significant progress in developing a relevant legal framework, while others have difficulty in creating comprehensive validation strategies; stresses therefore the need to develop comprehensive strategies to enable validation;

68.  Emphasises the importance of addressing skills shortages and mismatches by promoting and facilitating mobility for learners and teaching staff through better use of all EU tools and programmes; points out that mobility in training is a vital asset when it comes to entering the job market; stresses the need to implement measures aimed at ensuring coordination, complementarity and coherence between the structural funds for mobility, including the European Social Fund (ESF), for example, and other programmes such as Erasmus+; stresses in this regard the important role of mobility programmes such as Erasmus+ in stimulating the development of horizontal skills and competences and intercultural exchanges among young people; welcomes the transformation of the existing EU Skills Panorama website;

69.  Highlights the need to enhance the role of the Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs programme in achieving long-term quality employment; is of the opinion that job mobility is needed in order to unleash the potential of young people; notes that currently there are 217,7 million employed people in the EU, of which 7,5 million (3,1 %) are working in another Member State; notes, in addition, that, according to EU surveys, young people are more likely to be mobile and to bring new skills and qualifications home with them;

70.  Calls on the Commission to enhance and support student mobility in the field of education and vocational training (EVT) by promoting the Erasmus for Apprentices scheme;

71.  Calls on the Member States to take full advantage of the current reform of the EURES network to support intra-EU youth labour mobility, including mobility in apprenticeships and traineeships; calls on the Member States to regularly update the vacancies and curricula vitae; calls on the Commission to improve the job-matching process in EURES to ensure that young people receive appropriate, high-quality job offers in line with their curricula vitae;

72.  Encourages the Member States to establish quality dual education and vocational training systems in coordination with local and regional economic actors, following the exchange of best practices and in line with the specific nature of each educational system, in order to overcome the existing and future skills mismatch;

73.  Invites the Member States and the Commission to establish innovative and flexible grants for nurturing talent and artistic and sporting ability in the field of culture, education and training; supports those Member States that are seeking to introduce scholarship schemes for students with proven educational, sporting and artistic ability;

74.  Notes that early school leaving and students leaving school with no qualifications are among the greatest challenges for our societies – and that addressing them must be one of our main goals – as they lead to a precarious existence and social exclusion; points out that mobility, adapting education systems and implementing individualised measures can offer solutions for the most disadvantaged people with a view to reducing the dropout rate in education and training;

75.  Highlights the need to create a student contract that will enable university and vocational training students to combine studying with work, preferably in undertakings in the field for which they are training, with a guarantee of completing the studies commenced;

76.  Highlights the need to continue efforts to reduce early school leaving and foster the education of disadvantaged young people;

77.  Notes that in spite of a decrease in most Member States after its 2013 peak, youth unemployment remains a matter of serious concern in the EU, with around 8 million young Europeans being unable to find work and with the proportion facing long-term unemployment or involuntary part-time employment or traineeship status remaining high;

Financial resources

78.  Underlines the importance of strategic investment, including from the European Structural and Investment Funds, in particular the European Social Fund, for regional development, competitiveness and the creation of high-quality traineeships, apprenticeships and sustainable jobs; notes that special attention should be paid to young people who are neither in employment nor in education and training, so-called NEETs;

79.  Notes that the programming period 2014-2020 took some months to get started and that a first assessment of Union policies within this period, and in particular of those dedicated to youth, cannot be fully representative of their real impact;

80.  Points out that in the previous programming period, the Court of Auditors estimated the error rate for transactions under the Lifelong Learning Programme (LLP) and the Youth in Action programme (YiA) at over 4 %; expects the Commission to have tackled those errors in the implementation of Erasmus+;

81.  Notes the fact that in 2013 the budget execution rate for the 2007-2013 programmes, in particular the LLP, the Culture Programme, the MEDIA programme and the YiA programme, was 100 %; considers, however, that the execution rate alone is not a significant indicator of the effectiveness of programmes with a view to assessing their success;

82.  Is concerned that at the end of 2013 the mismatch between adopted commitment and payment appropriations resulted in a shortfall of payments (for instance, in the case of the Erasmus+ programme to the sum of EUR 202 million), with negative repercussions for the following year; asks the Commission to ensure that this situation will not be repeated in the context of the new programmes;

83.  Recalls that the reluctance of young people to launch businesses also contributes to the slow rate of economic growth in Europe, and therefore considers it necessary to support young people in starting their own businesses;

84.  Welcomes the fact that more than EUR 12,4 billion from the European Social Fund (ESF) and the Youth Employment Initiative (YEI) have been earmarked for the fight against youth unemployment during the new programming period;

85.  Notes with satisfaction that 110 300 unemployed young people participated in actions financed by the YEI in 2014; welcomes the fact that the EU heads of state and government have decided to allocate EUR 6,4 billion in Union funds (EUR 3,2 billion from the ESF and EUR 3,2 billion from a new budget line) to the Youth Guarantee (YG); stresses, however, that in some Member States there are still some difficulties in the implementation of the YG and YEI;

86.  Calls for the EU and the Member States to step up efforts to ensure that apprenticeships and traineeships are not used as forms of insecure labour that take the place of real jobs and that all the necessary labour protections, including in connection with pay and other financial entitlements, are guaranteed;

87.  Calls for targeted and simplified measures to enhance Member State capacity to make use of available funding through the European Structural Funds, the European Social Fund, the European Regional Development Fund, the European Cohesion Fund, the European Fund for Strategic Investment (EFSI), the Youth Employment Initiative, Youth on the Move, Your First Eures Job, Horizon 2020 and programmes and actions in the area of citizenship;

88.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to simplify the administrative procedures for granting financial resources to youth organisations, as these often lack the capacity to handle complicated application processes when applying for support from the various EU programmes;

89.  Encourages the Member States to make full use of the Erasmus+ programme by better targeting people of all educational levels in order to improve the employment prospects of young people, foster cross-border careers and fair labour mobility; supports intercultural learning, European citizenship and young people's education in democracy and values, and therefore calls on the Commission when conducting the mid-term review to seek out and remove obstacles in the funding procedure which are making it difficult to achieve these goals, so that Erasmus+ can be more effective in this matter;

90.  Welcomes the fact that the Erasmus programme has surpassed the benchmark of three million students; notes the sustained success that this Union flagship programme has enjoyed since its inception, and believes it is important that this programme should continue to receive support;

91.  Regrets the wide variations among Member States in terms of the numbers of Erasmus students both sent and received; recommends more assertive information campaigns and simplification of the rules;

92.  Reminds Member States that they should commit to extending national funding as a complement to the ESF and YEI appropriations, in order to ensure the necessary boost to youth employment; considers it necessary, furthermore, that the instruments used and the grants awarded should permit a dignified life; calls, therefore, for an assessment of grant levels in the light of the real cost of living in each Member State;

93.  Urges the Member States to take the necessary measures to implement the Youth Guarantee scheme; calls for continued political commitment to the Youth Guarantee as a long-term, structural reform, ensuring sustainable labour-market integration through high-quality offers;

94.  Urges the Member States to implement fully the Youth Guarantee, on the basis of strong cooperation between national, regional and local authorities, education systems and employment services; points out that the Youth Guarantee should be integrated fully into national employment plans and youth and education policy planning, and should be widely communicated to all young persons; recalls that the involvement of youth organisations in the communication, and also in the evaluation and implementation, of the Youth Guarantee tool is crucial to its success;

95.  Recalls that young women and men of different socio-economic circumstances face different labour-market conditions at different ages; calls on the Commission and the Member States to include such gender-specific and socio-economic considerations in the design and implementation of youth and labour market policies such as the Youth Guarantee;

96.  Considers that the especially high levels of job insecurity among the young, together with the ageing of the European population, represent a major challenge for the sustainability, sufficiency and adequacy of pension systems, and seriously harm intergenerational solidarity; calls on the Commission and the Member States, therefore, to take all necessary measures to prevent abuses of, at least, the grants provided under the Youth Guarantee scheme, and to favour, at least for contracts established within the Youth Guarantee framework, contracts which allow young people to pay contributions to national social security systems;

97.  Urges the Member States to fully implement and monitor the effectiveness of the Youth Guarantee, by making full use of the funds the EU has made available to them in order to implement measures to promote youth employment by integrating young people, including those with disabilities, into the labour market with a job, apprenticeship or traineeship within four months of leaving school or losing a job, by – for example – creating lifelong, tailor-made career guidance systems, registration offices, information points and methods of data collection, and by encouraging registration by the unemployed with a view to obtaining a picture of the real situation as regards youth unemployment, as well as improving the services offered by job centres to young jobseekers;

98.  Urges the Member States to address without delay the key success factors for the implementation of the European Youth Guarantee, such as the quality and sustainability of job offers, further education and training, social inclusion, synergies with other policy fields (relating to education systems, the labour market, social services and youth), and cooperation between all the relevant stakeholders, in order to integrate young people into the labour market, reduce youth unemployment rates, and achieve a long-term positive impact in terms of prevention of social and labour market exclusion of young people in transition from school to the labour market;

99.  Calls for an enlargement of the focus of the European Youth Guarantee as regards education and training for unskilled or low-skilled unemployed young people, so as also to cover young graduates and those who have completed vocational training, as well as for the extension of the age limit under the Youth Guarantee from 25 to 29 so as to reflect the fact that many graduates and labour market entrants are in their late twenties;

100.  Calls on the Member States and regions to exchange good practices and learn from each other; points out the importance of conducting an assessment of the implementation of the Youth Employment Initiative by the Member States in 2014 and 2015; stresses the importance of assessing the medium-term effectiveness of the Youth Guarantee, with a focus on its achievements in enabling young people to acquire skills and enter employment, and of the further continuation of this initiative; points out, moreover, that the involvement of youth organisations in the evaluation and implementation of the Youth Guarantee is crucial to its success;

101.  Is looking forward to the presentation of the comprehensive report on the implementation of the Youth Guarantee later this year by the Commission;

102.  Notes that the Court of Auditors’ report on ‘EU Youth Guarantee – Implementation in Member States’, due to be completed at the beginning of 2017, will provide a clearer assessment of the programme’s results; considers that, inter alia, an analysis of its efficiency and long-term results should be included in the report;

103.  Reminds the Commission of the importance of ensuring a high level of awareness among young people concerning available programmes and opportunities to participate, and also of ensuring that the information offered on the programmes is of high quality, using quantifiable indicators (e.g. the response and involvement of the target group);

104.  Urges the Commission and the Member States to implement expansionist economic policies which offer greater leeway in the area of public investment in education, training and high-quality apprenticeships;

105.  Urges the Member States to invest more and not to cut their national budget funding for youth policies, the arts, culture, education, health care and social services; furthermore, calls on Member States to channel investments into inclusive education which responds to societal challenges with regard to ensuring equal access and opportunities for all, including young people with different socio-economic backgrounds, as well as vulnerable and disadvantaged groups;

106.  Recommends the inclusion of youth entrepreneurship in the MFF, and that Member States should work on developing national strategies aimed at achieving synergies between Erasmus+, the ESF, the EYI and Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs, as well as on clear guidelines for impact assessment, to be provided to Member States by the Commission;

107.  Asks the Commission to deploy a comprehensive monitoring scheme for the youth programmes which combines planned result indicators, concrete outcomes and long-term outputs;

108.  Stresses that a focus on performance and results is needed, and is pleased to note that the new regulatory framework for the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) for the programming period 2014-2020 includes provisions for reporting on results from Member States;

109.  Recalls that 68 % of the ESF budget goes on projects in which young people could potentially be one of the target groups;

110.  Highlights the need to promote housing grants to meet needs arising when it is impossible for students to follow vocational training or university courses in their own town or city of residence or in cities less than 50 km away;

Participation in decision making

111.  Calls for stronger partnerships between youth organisations and public authorities with a view to increasing opportunities for participation by young people and their organisations in policy-making; considers the role of youth, arts and sports organisations in developing young people’s participatory skills and in improving the quality of the decision-making process especially important, with special regard to the fact that youths are contributors to society and are also providers of solutions to the contemporary challenges facing European society; highlights the unique role played by youth organisations in developing a sense of citizenship around the practice of democratic values and processes;

112.  Stresses the value of youth organisations as providers of citizenship learning and education of democratic values, skills and competences, and recognises their contribution to improving youth participation in democratic processes;

113.  Stresses the vital importance of informal and non-formal learning, the arts, sport, volunteering and social activities for encouraging youth participation and social cohesion as tools that can have a huge impact on local communities and can help address many of the societal challenges;

114.  Calls on the Member States to comply strictly with the principles of inclusivity in youth work, with particular emphasis on young people with disabilities;

115.  Stresses the need to intensively develop awareness regarding citizenship, media and digital literacy, critical thinking and intercultural understanding, using a wide range of instruments which are familiar to young people (e.g. social networks); stresses the significant role that such programmes and education play in preventing radicalisation among young people;

116.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to take account of new forms of economic involvement by young people, such as the growing trend for them to use sharing economy tools;

117.  Stresses that young people’s voluntary political, social, cultural and sports activities at local, regional and national level should be supported and better recognised for their value as an important form of non-formal learning that contributes to the development of key competences for life and to promoting values such as cooperation, solidarity, equality and justice; stresses, however, that the readiness of young people to develop voluntary activities cannot ultimately be considered as a possible cheap replacement for services that the Member States should take care of; asks that voluntary activities be recognised and fully acknowledged or validated;

118.  Calls on the Member States to promote democratic participation by young students and to help young people in education to participate in their education and to contribute to it through their membership of student organisations;

119.  Emphasises that better understanding of EU values, the functioning of the EU and European diversity are crucial in order to promote participation in democracy and to foster active citizenship among young people;

120.  Calls on the Commission to make the most of new digital tools and to fully exploit the opportunities offered by social media in education and training, to provide targeted high‑quality media training that encourages the development of media literacy and critical thinking, and to promote and encourage participation by young people in decision‑making, as well as in the civic, cultural and social life of society, in order to increase employability and enhance entrepreneurship, innovation and culture; acknowledges also the potential of digital tools to be used as an effective means for fighting bullying, hate speech and radicalisation;

o
o   o

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

(1) OJ L 347, 20.12.2013, p. 50.
(2) OJ C 417, 15.12.2015, p. 1.
(3) OJ C 183, 14.6.2014, p. 5.
(4) OJ C 120, 26.4.2013, p. 1.
(5) EUCO 37/13.
(6) OJ C 311, 19.12.2009, p. 1.
(7) OJ C 119, 28.5.2009, p. 2.
(8) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0107.
(9) OJ C 93, 9.3.2016, p. 61.
(10) OJ C 161 E, 31.5.2011, p. 21.
(11) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0106.
(12) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0292.
(13) OJ C 346, 21.9.2016, p. 2.
(14) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0005.


How the CAP can improve job creation in rural areas
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European Parliament resolution of 27 October 2016 on how the CAP can improve job creation in rural areas (2015/2226(INI))
P8_TA(2016)0427A8-0285/2016

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Commission communication on employment in rural areas: closing the jobs gap (COM(2006)0857),

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development and the opinions of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs and the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality (A8-0285/2016),

A.  whereas rural areas represent more than 77 % of EU territory and whereas many jobs in those areas – a high proportion of them non-relocatable – depend on agriculture and the agrifood industry;

B.  whereas, taken together, agriculture and the agrifood industry account for 6 % of EU GDP, 15 million businesses and 46 million jobs;

C.  whereas, in many European countries over the past few decades, the number of farmers in rural areas has drastically decreased, as have the incomes of farmers and other agricultural workers, and agricultural employment in those areas has continued to decline; whereas between 2005 and 2014 there was a reduction of almost one quarter (- 23,6 %) in agricultural labour input in the EU-28(1);

D.  whereas, although agriculture remains the main form of land use in Europe, it nowadays employs only a fraction of the working population of rural areas; whereas the diversification of land use in rural areas, combining a productive economic function with the functions of accommodating residential and recreational use and of nature protection and conservation, is a considerable challenge in terms of development and employment in the various rural regions of the Union; whereas, although population decline has been reversed in some regions in recent years with an inflow of people who want to live in the countryside, generating, in most cases, a peri-urbanisation effect, there is also a tendency towards decline in much less prosperous regions, where remoteness is a problem and supporting development and employment is more difficult;

E.  whereas many rural areas face a series of challenges such as low income, negative population growth, a lack of jobs and a high rate of unemployment, slow development in the tertiary sector, a lack of processing capacity for food products, low skills and limited capital;

F.  whereas more than nine out of ten people in Europe consider agriculture and rural areas to be important to their future;

G.  whereas there is a relatively low income per labour unit for agricultural activities and this is a point of concern;

H.  whereas the economic crisis hit all parts of Europe but none more so than rural areas;

I.  whereas, in the face of the current economic crisis, the European Union has made jobs – in particular via the EFSI – one of its key priorities, and whereas, in that connection, the CAP must be made more effective and its legitimacy reaffirmed as one of the principal tools for EU action aimed at the retention and creation of employment and competitiveness in rural areas, mainly in the farming sector; whereas, in this context, it is necessary to evaluate the extent to which the CAP has an impact on the creation and maintenance of jobs in rural areas;

J.  whereas it is of crucial importance to maintain the two pillars of the CAP, since Pillar I prevents out-migration of small and family farms from the sector and maintains jobs in the agricultural sector, while Pillar II funds ensure job creation in other areas such as tourism, food processing and other related sectors;

K.  whereas European agriculture is facing a number of challenges relating to food production and security, the environment, biodiversity, sustainability, energy and climate change, and it is vital to reinforce the relationship between society and agriculture, develop innovative solutions to meet these challenges to ensure the resilience and competitiveness of the sector and rethink the objectives of a genuinely public policy that is in everybody’s interests, this being one of the most important aspects of European integration;

L.  whereas, for too long, insufficient attention has been paid to shifting the focus of agriculture to make it territory-based once again – necessarily rooting production and employment in specific areas – and whereas we have a duty to sustain farming as a core activity performed by men and women in the areas where they live, in order to ensure that rural areas are dynamic and job-rich; whereas this refocusing will also make for a healthy balance between urban and rural development;

M.  whereas there is a growing role for, and interest in, urban and peri-urban agriculture and a changing consumption model that combines various factors, including a minimal environmental footprint, high-quality local production and recognition of the value of the work done by small and regional producers;

N.  whereas the foundations of the last CAP reform enabled aid to be redirected and distributed more fairly among the Member States and the various agricultural sectors, and reaffirmed the role of the CAP in economic terms and as a social stabilising factor for farms and rural regions;

O.  whereas, although studies have shown that direct payments through Pillar 1 do not directly create jobs, they play a vital role in maintaining jobs and keeping farmers on the land; whereas, should this policy support be withdrawn, 30 % of European farmers would be forced to cease activities and exit the agricultural sector; whereas these payments keep small farmers and rural areas alive;

P.  whereas direct payment supports for farmers in peripheral areas farming on disadvantaged or marginal land are vital not only to ensure that these farmers remain on the land and earn a decent livelihood, but also to ensure that this land is protected and plays a role in attracting tourism to these areas;

Q.  whereas the primary objective of Pillar I of the reformed CAP is the security of the food supply which helps to maintain existing employment in agriculture and there is a requirement to ensure a fairer distribution of Pillar 1 payments to maximise the positive impact of this support;

R.  whereas experience on the ground shows that other kinds of agricultural development are possible, providing better results in terms of food quality and agronomic, environmental and socio-economic performance, that it is important to support and promote diversity of agricultural systems, and that small and medium-sized farms which are generally more diversified, innovative and highly flexible, are often well organised in terms of forming producer groups and co-operatives and benefit the communities in which they are located, thereby supporting a rural economy, which is the key to the development of European agriculture;

S.  whereas the current crisis shows that, within the framework of a market-oriented CAP, it is essential to retain a common agricultural market organisation and to come up with appropriate new regulatory tools to ensure price stability and sustain agricultural jobs and income;

T.  whereas European farmers operate in an increasingly global market and therefore experience greater exposure to price volatility than other sectors;

U.  whereas the payment system that currently exists in the food supply chain does not guarantee the sustainable distribution of added value, and often determines that the earnings of primary producers are not even sufficient to cover their costs;

V.  whereas, compared with urban areas, rural areas are usually characterised by statistically higher levels of unemployment and significantly lower residents’ incomes, as well as less attractive infrastructure and less access to services, the costs of providing which are significant due to lower population density and accessibility;

W.  whereas job creation in rural areas must be part and parcel of a sustainable policy that is tailored to specific territories and involves the maintenance and development of agricultural activities and activities indirectly linked to agriculture and forestry sector-related, as well as rural activities, that forge links between the various stakeholders both socially and in terms of solidarity and environmental enhancement;

X.  whereas the future of rural areas does not depend exclusively on the development of the agricultural sector, but is also linked to the diversification and maintenance of other economic activities, such as forestry, crafts, and the development of small and medium-sized enterprises and integrated production capacities, rural tourism, recreational, educational and sports provision (e.g. horse-riding) and the sustainable use of farm and forest resources (including waste) to produce renewable energy or organic materials and products based on ecological processes; whereas there is a need for decentralised and integrated local policies linked to socioeconomic aspects and rural identity and culture and for a genuine territorial system, seeking synergies and jointly building on rural resources through collective and cross-sector approaches, including the use of other EU funds to stimulate rural development and employment, while ensuring that rural infrastructure is in place;

Y.  whereas, to that end, it is absolutely vital to focus on the fact that many jobs are dependent on place and activity-specific agriculture, which includes forestry, cannot be relocated and involve food and non-food services, such as landscape and water conservation and management;

Z.  whereas support should be provided in particular to small family farms, i.e. to individual farmers who, alone or with others, run their farms responsibly, independently and effectively and who are able to deal with any problems by adapting their production decisions and/or their production methods and by diversifying their activities in order to tackle the constant structural change in the agricultural sector;

AA.  whereas the potential of women working and/or running a business in agricultural and rural areas should be analysed, recorded and promoted in all EU policies, and they should not be disadvantaged by any of them, as this will lay the groundwork for women to become drivers of development and innovation, helping the entire sector to emerge from the crisis; whereas women should be involved in sector development plans at local and regional level so that the latter can benefit from their needs, experiences and visions, and women should therefore be equipped with the skills required to participate actively in the design thereof;

AB.  whereas in 2010 only 7,5 % of farmers were under 35 years old and more than 4,5 million of those now running farms are aged over 65, and Articles 50 and 51 of Regulation (EU) No 1307/2013 under the CAP include provisions to support new generational renewal in agriculture;

AC.  whereas in many Member States women in rural regions have limited access to employment in farming or other sectors of the labour market and experience a wider pay gap than in other areas, yet they play an extremely important role in the development and social fabric of rural areas, particularly on farms engaged in diversification (offering farm tourism, high quality produce, recreational, educational and sports activities and other services); whereas female entrepreneurship can represent an important pillar in social, economic and environmental terms for sustainable development in rural areas; whereas unequal access to land is a factor in limiting the opportunities for women to develop a business in the agricultural sector; whereas on average 29 % of farms in Europe are run by women;

AD.  whereas the number of crop varieties grown industrially is small; whereas local breeds and varieties play a role in maintaining biodiversity and sustaining people’s livelihoods in the regions and local production;

AE.  whereas the rural environment needs to be made more attractive to rising generations by promoting training geared to innovation and modernisation in the profession and in technologies;

AF.  whereas the universal framework provided by the Sustainability Assessment of Food and Agriculture systems (SAFA) was developed by the FAO;

AG.  whereas the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) can be used for vocational training and skills acquisition actions in the different sectors of activity in rural areas;

Under the current CAP

1.  Calls on all the Member States to give young farmers long-term prospects in order to address rural depopulation, to implement a comprehensive generational renewal strategy and, in order to do this, to make full use of all the possibilities provided under the new CAP to support young farmers and new entrants to farming, including from outside the family, particularly the Pillar I and Pillar II measures for aid to young farmers, and also to facilitate new entrants to farming aged over 40 in setting up and entrepreneurship; notes too that such measures must be complemented by, and compatible with, provisions under national policies (on land-use, taxation and social security, etc.), including support under Articles 50 and 51 of Regulation (EU) No 1307/2013;

2.  Notes that the vast majority of CAP direct payments are going to the richest farms, with just 13 % of beneficiaries receiving 74 % of CAP direct payment expenditures in 2014; believes that this does not assist job creation in farming, as small farms are more labour-intensive and 53 % of farm labourers are working on a farm classified as being of small economic size; calls for a better distribution of CAP payments towards small farmers;

3.  Encourages the Member States to step up their support for small and medium-sized farms, in particular by making more use of the redistributive payment; calls on them furthermore to institute arrangements which will favour businesses that are organised efficiently and those which use the legal instruments of clustering of undertakings;

4.  Takes the view that the CAP should take greater account of territories with geographical handicaps (such as mountain areas, overseas territories, the most outlying areas and sensitive natural areas) since maintaining farming is an essential vector for economic, social and environmental development that focuses on employment; adds, however, that the CAP must also consider the new dynamics of urban sprawl and lend support to areas on the fringes of such sprawl in facing up to the constraints linked to their particular features;

5.  Points out that the Member States have made extensive use of the option of granting coupled aid – which, by developing production and enabling it to remain in a given place, secures jobs in disadvantaged areas – and calls on the Member States to increase the proportion of such aid for active farmers, to make it more flexible and to earmark more of it towards producing more plant proteins in the EU, which currently depends on imports from third countries for supply of this commodity; suggests furthermore that the level of voluntary coupled payments could be adjusted in line with the level of employment dependent on a given crop, which would provide further support for produce requiring the largest workforce;

6.  Points out that, in the current programming period and in accordance with the Rural Development Programme, there is provision for targeted aid for the cultivation of local varieties and the keeping of local breeds, thus promoting regional employment and sustaining biodiversity; invites Member States to introduce mechanisms whereby groups and organisations of producers and farmers who cultivate and keep local varieties and breeds can receive targeted aid;

7.  Points out that there is a need to implement the environmental dimension of direct aid, and that this must be part and parcel of ensuring that farms are sustainable and viable, and help maintain and create new jobs inter alia in the conservation of biodiversity, agro-tourism and management of the countryside, for example by country estates and historic residences; urges the EU to ensure simplification and that environmental regulations can be implemented in a simple, comprehensible and problem-free way; points out that the environmental dimension must not lead to a reduction in or abandoning of agricultural production, which is particularly sensitive in mountainous and peripheral areas;

8.  Considers that, given the high mortality rate among honey bees in several EU countries and the essential role they, as pollinators, play in food security and the economy of many plant sectors, the Union should provide greater support for this sector by adopting a genuine European strategy for bee repopulation; adds that this would not require heavy investment but would create many jobs, either by diversifying activities in existing farms or by setting up new specialised farms, which, according to expert opinion, would require 200 hives to be viable and whose primary purpose would be to breed selected queens and swarms and, subsequently, to produce honey, of which the EU has a serious shortage; points out that such an approach, which builds on various European strategies – on innovation, social inclusion and job creation – is fully in line with the will to reorient the common agricultural policy and the development of farming towards greater sustainably;

9.  Notes that to maintain on-farm jobs the sector must turn to new risk-management tools and increase utilisation of tools such as Producer Organisations under the Single CMO and in Pillar II in order to better respond to volatility and the demands of the global market; takes the view that the market measures and exceptional crisis and risk-management measures provided for under the Single CMO and in Pillar II must be implemented much more rapidly and proactively, with EU budget support adapted as necessary to the specific situation of the outermost regions, mountain regions and other regions facing competitiveness challenges so as to limit the negative effects of falling prices on farming income; points out that the implementation of exceptional crisis measures has not fully achieved its objectives and should take greater account of Member States’ existing infrastructure and capacities; urges the Commission, in the light of recent crises, to develop more rapid and effective intervention systems which can prevent the most negative effects;

10.  Asks the Commission to make full use of the potential of the exceptional measures provided for in Articles 219 to 222 of Regulation (EU) No 1308/2013;

11.  Takes the view that, in order to play their role of safety net, intervention prices must be adjusted regularly in line with trends in cost prices so as to have a direct impact on producers’ income and the perpetuation of their activities, as well as on employment; calls for the EU to establish prevention tools along similar lines to the Milk Market Observatory in all major production sectors in order to monitor markets, which would help steer production and ensure a response to crises by means of flexible and responsive market management tools which would be activated when necessary;

12.  Recognises that short supply chains linking farmers to local producers can stimulate rural job creation, and emphasises that quality schemes, geographical indications and organic farming represent an opportunity to develop the agri-food sector and potentially create rural-based jobs, and as such should not only be protected but also developed in order to create new jobs and to preserve regional culture and identity; underlines the need for better access to wider markets for these products, and for the introduction of quality, promotion and protection measures to improve their marketing and inclusion within the general tourism products of a given geographical area; recalls, in the light of legislative proposals under discussion, that these positive economic impacts are based on consumer confidence which should not be undermined by changes that could be perceived as reducing quality; highlights furthermore that the processes for attaining these quality standards can be burdensome and should be simplified;

13.  Recommends that the Member States could make more extensive use of the Second Pillar Priority 6 areas concerning the preservation and creation of jobs and of the knowledge transfer and vocational and continuing training measures (including apprenticeships and in-service training and retraining of farm workers), so that they can be redeployed to perform other rural activities, as well as advisory and management assistance measures to improve the economic and environmental performance of farms; calls on the Commission and Member States to grant support for training to assist farmers, agricultural and rural workers to become more versatile and able to diversify their activities and initiatives, and to strengthen innovation;

14.  Notes that the current rural development programmes are much less focused on social projects that defend jobs than those of the previous programming period (2007-2013), owing to the measures selected by the Member States in their rural development programmes and the smaller amount of funding earmarked for employment-related measures; therefore calls for greater flexibility in the implementation of rural development policy;

15.  Considers that it is necessary to simplify the implementation of rural development policy, to adopt more coherent approaches, along the same lines as multi-funds, and to stop the Member States and the Commission imposing overly painstaking administrative and financial checks;

16.  Calls on the Member States to better advertise the potential of the second pillar of the CAP for the diversification of activities in rural areas (e.g. agro-tourism, production of renewable energy);

17.  Points out that the risk factor inherent in innovation is insufficiently taken into account in both national and EU policy, a fact that acts as an obstacle to innovation and job creation, particularly for the many stakeholders who do not have sufficient financial strength to complete innovative projects;

18.  Emphasises that rural development and job creation go hand in hand and consequently calls on the Member States and regions to maximise the potential of local and regional authorities, which are the most familiar with the challenges and opportunities of their areas, to achieve Pillar 2 objectives and respect the priorities of the CAP, including the promotion of social inclusion, poverty reduction and economic development; recalls the possibility of focussing rural development and operational programmes on job creation and retention, and on improving rural services, and calls on the Commission to assist them in achieving that objective; highlights the adaptation of sharing-economy models in rural areas with a view to boosting employment, making agricultural activities more efficient and reducing costs;

19.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to support enterprises and cooperatives in the social economy, including social farming(2), in order to foster social integration and jobs in rural areas; notes the actions pursued under the Social Business Initiative and calls on the Commission to enhance the contribution made by the social economy to rural development, for instance through an Action Plan for the Social Economy;

20.  Stresses that action to support the demographic development and family-friendly nature of rural areas should be given more prominence in order to support families and make it easier to combine family and professional life, also in connection with issues relating to the labour market and economic development in rural areas;

21.  Stresses the need to promote active measures and policies highlighting the positive role of migration in boosting economic growth and fostering social cohesion in rural areas;

22.  Calls on the Commission and Member States to pursue policies which will promote rural areas by developing tourism, which, if appropriately structured and supported with incentives, could be a driver of the cultural, social and economic growth of areas which possess substantial natural, landscape, cultural and agrifood resources; stresses that the touristic development of rural areas and the diversification of farming (to include educational, cultural and recreational activities) also constitute an incentive to rising generations to take control of campaigns, in a spirit of initiative and enterprise geared to innovation and to the promotion of traditional products;

23.  Emphasises that, with the help of the EAFRD and other European funds, establishing synergies between different policy areas will be essential to meet the challenge of providing jobs in rural areas, and to ensuring that agriculture is once again recognised as a key factor in territorial development; notes that Pillar 2 funds could be utilised as a dynamic financial tool to create increased synergies with alternative funding sources and programmes, making them accessible to rural areas in order to increase connectivity, competitiveness and economic diversification and to support entrepreneurship, taking into account the preservation of rural culture and identity;

24.  Stresses that small, owner-run holdings are increasingly coming under pressure from agricultural land purchases by investors; stresses that preserving the area under cultivation and access to land are essential for the setting up and extension of agricultural holdings and vital to preserving jobs in rural areas; points out that the Commission’s ‘Report on the Needs of Young Farmers’ in November 2015 showed that the availability of land to buy and to rent are the biggest problems facing young farmers and new entrants into farming; calls, therefore, on Member States to share best practices and develop instruments to make access to land possible in rural areas with high unemployment through, for example, participatory use and management of farmland in accordance with national practices, or the establishment of systems for managing and providing information on unused land or land that could be used for agriculture, the services of which young farmers and women would have the preferential right to use;

25.  Considers it important that rural development programmes do more to improve relations between rural and urban areas so as to encourage cooperation and offer opportunities for businesses operating in rural areas that are crucial for the development of these areas and job creation; takes the view that villages play an important role in urban-rural relations by providing access to basic services for residents of the surrounding rural areas, and that the Member States should therefore promote services in villages as part of their territorial policies;

26.  Calls for the establishment of binding rules on fair payment in the food supply chain between food producers, wholesalers and processors to ensure that farmers receive an appropriate share of the value added which is sufficient to enable them to practice sustainable farming;

27.  Stresses that the forestry sector, currently an underutilised asset in Europe, is a major source of jobs that should be better promoted in its various forms throughout the timber industry; adds that the EU is currently suffering from a serious timber supply shortage that requires investment in the infrastructure necessary for the growth of this sector;

28.  Emphasises that access to land is an essential prerequisite for the setting up and extension of an agricultural holding; points out that access to land is the biggest problem facing young farmers seeking to set up an agricultural holding;

Under the future CAP after 2020

29.  Emphasises that the CAP procedures must be simplified and must have sufficient funding maintained, at least at the present level reflecting the significant European added value of the policy, in order to play an effective long-term role in fostering employment as part of a diversified European farming and forestry sector, promoting sustainable development and the appeal of rural areas; stresses that rural development policy – which enables more direct and more effective action to reduce social exclusion among rural inhabitants and boost employment and the dynamism of rural areas – should progressively be strengthened, without undermining first pillar support, which must also be reorganised to ensure, inter alia, that markets work better and demonstrate greater stability, which is crucial for safeguarding agricultural incomes, the European model of farming and food security and ensuring that rural areas retain their appeal (with a focus on quality of life) in comparison with urban areas;

30.  Emphasises that within the CAP great importance should be attached to instruments geared towards modernisation and investment, which guarantee the competitiveness of economic sectors located in rural areas (including the agri-food, energy, processing and services industries and the social sector) in a sustainable way, in keeping with environmental rules, thus ensuring that jobs can be maintained; points out that those instruments will also make it possible to further bridge the gaps between Member States and between regions when it comes to agricultural and rural development;

31.  Highlights the importance of the tourism sector as a source of income for farmers (e.g. farm holidays); urges the Member States and the Commission to institute programmes to support investment and entrepreneurship; considers it important to support the farms concerned by means of tourism campaigns;

32.  Notes the CAP simplification measures implemented to date, but calls on the Commission to further develop and implement measures to introduce proportionality and flexibility in relation to reducing the CAP’s administrative burden and increasing on-farm productivity;

33.  Stresses that there are limitations to what can be achieved under the CAP as its primary aim is security of food supply, and that effectively addressing the many challenges affecting job creation and maintenance in rural areas will require a broader, cross-policy approach at both regional and Member State level;

34.  Calls on the Commission to support a competitive and sustainable European agricultural model based on a family-run, diversified and multi-functional farming model that makes retaining territory-based and fairly paid jobs a priority, with particular emphasis on territories facing specific constraints as recognised in Article 349 TFEU and – in the production of food and non-food products – ensuring food security, as well as food safety so as to protect health;

35.  Calls on the Member States to develop land monitoring and regulation tools in order to help them gain a better knowledge of land markets and put an end to the widespread phenomenon of the concentration or grabbing of land and production apparatus;

36.  Stresses the need to encourage the development, marketing and sale of high-quality agricultural products; calls for initiatives to open new markets as well as to introduce operational product programmes and marketing campaigns, in order to ensure product diversification and competitiveness of the European food chain;

37.  Takes the view that the CAP must take account of European farming in all of its forms and all rural areas, including the most disadvantaged and most fragile amongst them (such as mountain areas and outermost regions), so as to ensure that the best possible use is made of all resources; believes that this also entails bringing farmland that has been abandoned back into use;

38.  Points out that diversification of agriculture and regional ‘niche’ markets increase and ensure employment in rural areas; calls for initiatives to support diversification of farms (e.g. direct marketing of agricultural products) and of the rural economy in general (e.g. facilitating the shift from agricultural work to other fields of employment);

39.  Takes the view that the funds under the future CAP ought to provide more support to slow the loss of small and medium-sized farms and businesses grouped into producers’ organisations, which, because they are generally more diversified, economical and autonomous, as well as being more easily transferred, are more effective in terms of creating added value and territory-based jobs and as an important economic and social pillar of their regions, and also continue to apply specific support to territories affected by specific constraints as recognised in Article 349 TFEU;

40.  Points out that CAP direct payments should only be allocated to persons whose main area of activity is agriculture;

41.  Points out that, in the outermost regions, the search for employment solutions in the event that the economy contracts is compromised by the lack of interconnectivity, and, given the importance of agriculture in these regions, takes the view that the funds under the future CAP ought to apply positive discrimination to these territories facing specific constraints as recognised in the TFEU, given that this would have a multiplier effect in terms of promoting other related activities, such as agro-industry, tourism, nature conservation, energy production and the circular economy, in a way that would complement the multi-fund strategy; stresses that this strategy should take account of the positive differentiation factors identified for the outermost regions, which could act as a laboratory for original innovative solutions in agriculture that could be applied to other less extreme and more comprehensive contexts, relating to farm structure, soil and climate conditions and characteristic biodiversity;

42.  Considers that group farming should be promoted and financially supported, as it reduces farm production costs, in particular mechanisation costs, and promotes solidarity between farmers and the transfer of innovation, know-how and best practice, creating a dynamism conducive to development and employment;

43.  Calls on the Commission to stimulate diversification and competiveness of small agricultural holdings, also with regard to social farming and a service-oriented agriculture;

44.  Emphasises that it is important that the CAP should provide more support for the positive effects that agriculture brings in terms of jobs and the environment, and that it should provide more effective support for organic and biodynamic farming and all other sustainable production methods, including integrated farming and agroforestry in the context of agro-ecology, which will entail simplifying the current regulations and adopting regulations which can be implemented in a simple, comprehensible and problem-free way; believes that the values of these positive effects in terms of employment and the environment are of interest to society as a whole and are a component which should be included in farm incomes;

45.  Recalls the positive example of ‘organic districts’, namely areas where, by means of a coordinated set of measures, products of local arable and livestock farming produced by organic methods and all the economic operators which depend on them (agrifood, gastronomic and touristic undertakings) are promoted, an instrument which has already shown that it can increase local income and assist the defence of the land by means of conservation of the countryside and of traditional products;

46.  Highlights the potential of sustainable farming and food systems, especially organic farming, as well as of sustainable management of soil, water, biodiversity and rural infrastructure, with a view to preserving and creating decent employment in farming and thriving rural economies;

47.  Takes the view that ensuring food security in the European Union must remain the primary principle action under the future CAP, without neglecting markets outside the EU; in this regard, considers that trade agreements can pose a real risk, as well as possible opportunities, for European agriculture, and believes that free trade agreements should not lead to unfair competition towards small and medium-sized farms and undermine local economies and jobs;

48.  Takes the view that, in order to improve the currently inadequate organisation in the fruit and vegetable sector, EU support for projects among the newly-formed fruit and vegetable growers’ associations should be reinstated;

49.  Emphasises that, against a backdrop of deep uncertainty as regards the future of low and volatile agricultural prices, the EU must achieve the Treaty aims of the CAP, by doing more to correct the erratic effects of the markets where they are failing, and to ensure the resilience and competitiveness of the agricultural sector by establishing effective safety nets and prevention and crisis management systems so as to strike a balance between supply and demand, as well as creating risk management tools founded on new, innovative systems and involving the farmers themselves in the financing; considers that the share of funding for measures to stabilise agricultural markets should be increased and, in particular, that the CAP must also strengthen insurance schemes for protecting farmers against the various climate, health and economic risks; believes that in the face of the risks associated with global warming, the EU must do all it can to enhance the positive role that agriculture can play, through measures including agronomy and improved soil management for better carbon capture, and that it is important to provide technical and financial support to farmers to enable them gradually to change their practices and to innovate;

50.  Emphasises furthermore that direct payments should remain a CAP instrument beyond 2020, in order to support and stabilise farm incomes and compensate for the costs arising from complying with high EU standards (as regards production methods, and environmental requirements in particular), and to maintain agricultural production in the least-favoured regions; points out that direct payments should therefore be geared towards ensuring that farming is economically stable, as well as guaranteeing food and environmental security; points out, in that context, that it is essential to level out direct payment rates in order to ensure a level playing field for competition in the EU single market, as well as for the sustainable exploitation of agricultural resources at EU level;

51.  Feels that, since there are significant differences in the levels of cooperation between farmers in individual Member States and since a lack of cooperation adversely affects farmers’ ability to resist crisis situations and market pressures, the CAP should comprehensively promote the development of cooperation among farmers, particularly in the production and processing sectors;

52.  Calls for the Member States to prioritise, under the second pillar of the CAP, the European Innovation Partnership (EIP); calls on the Commission to prioritise Horizon 2020 and to ensure better access for farmers to EIB funding options, support for innovative, sustainable agricultural and forestry models for the production of food and non-food goods and services (renewables, bioeconomics, rural tourism, and new prospects for farmers for the supply of raw materials in the post-petroleum industrial era), and developing each rural area’s resources;

53.  Expresses its firm belief that it will be necessary even in the future to promote continuing vocational training for farmers and agricultural workers and to make sure that scientific knowledge and innovations are disseminated, thus ensuring adaptability to the changing environment and making it easier to engage in economic activity;

54.  Takes the view that bottom-up approaches to local development such as LEADER/CLLD have proven to be effective in terms of numbers of jobs created and of low levels of public expenditure per job created, and that they should therefore be further strengthened, promoted and implemented in all Member States by means of multi-fund approaches and by strengthening the role of local and regional authorities; stresses in particular the role of Local Action Group (LAG) leaders in providing technical and service support for initiatives aimed at getting projects which promote employment off the ground; calls for the LAGs to have the broadest possible autonomy in order to maximise their effectiveness; adds that mechanisms should be put in place to ensure the meaningful involvement of the social partners, and calls on the Commission to come forward with models of good practice with regard to transnational LEADER II projects;

55.  Notes that difficulty in accessing information with regard to relevant national and EU programming and funding is a barrier to the development of the rural economy;

56.  Calls for investment provided under the rural development policy, as a support for employment in rural areas, to be prioritised with a focus on jobs, changes in unemployment, the efficiency of the recipient businesses, and creating incentives to recruit employees, and recommends that rural development programmes include a strengthening of microfinancing, since this is particularly useful in helping agricultural and non-agricultural businesses get off the ground;

57.  Stresses that the importance of the second pillar for job creation can be enhanced by allowing much more flexibility according to region-specific needs;

58.  Takes the view that, for the future, there is a need to continue to develop high-quality, territory-based food systems supplying raw or processed food products by promoting individual responsibility and the involvement of stakeholders – either grouped together as producers, processors, distributors and consumers or as producer-consumer communities, or else bringing together all the economic operators in the agrifood and food tourism sectors – in qualitative and contract-related activities designed to ensure food supplies and food safety, as well as fair incomes, so that farmers can earn a decent livelihood and sustain employment on their farms; notes that such food systems can, in particular but not solely, take the form of short supply chains and/or local markets; takes the view that more EU resources should in future be devoted to the development and operation of certain special food quality systems, and the further development of globally renowned European gastronomy; considers it essential to that end to better adapt the legislation on public tenders, so that local authorities can promote local production;

59.  Draws attention to the need for additional support for agriculture and for the creation of agricultural jobs in less favoured areas and in areas on the EU’s external borders;

60.  Considers that multi-stakeholder partnerships involving farmers and other rural stakeholders should be promoted because they make it possible to develop many activities which create direct and indirect employment, such as the structuring of local food and non-food chains and the implementation of various services (rural tourism, maintenance of private and public space, etc.);

61.  Believes that the Commission and the Member States should incentivise farmers, through the CAP and other policies, to diversify their sources of income, thus insulating themselves from downturns in the market; considers that such diversification could include ecotourism, the development of renewable energies such as wind and solar, adding value to agricultural produce through processing, and farm shops;

62.  Calls on the Commission to establish more support for local cooperatives in order to help them regain control over their prices and products;

63.  Notes that the tourism sector offers significant opportunities for generating revenue and direct and induced employment in agriculture and rural areas, allowing the historical, cultural, gastronomic, landscape and environmental heritage of each region to be enhanced; notes, also, that a region’s attractiveness to tourists is based not only on its history, but increasingly also on the quality of its food products, its landscapes and its environment; believes that for all these reasons the tourism sector should receive more support from rural development policy;

64.  Stresses that the challenges linked to climate change and the environment call for significant public and private job-creating investment, with support from the emergence of new professions, in order to ensure that rural resources are maintained and preserved and that the quality of degraded ecosystems is restored, to tackle floods and fires more effectively, and to improve the protection of water, soil and air quality and biodiversity; notes that while this certainly involves cooperation between agriculture and other rural stakeholders, it offers new opportunities for income diversification in agriculture;

65.  Calls on the Commission to assess the social impact of the present agricultural crisis, particularly in terms of job losses, especially in rural areas; calls on the Member States to consider how the competitiveness of farming can be improved so that the sector can create jobs and generate added value which is shared equitably throughout agriculture and the agri-food industry, ensuring fair competition and minimising the damage done by social dumping and by precarious and non-standard employment conditions which disproportionately affect certain groups; notes that many farm family members do not have social status or legal recognition or are not covered by a social protection scheme; stresses that agricultural businesses must comply with national employment and social legislation; considers that any introduction of additional conditionalities into CAP first pillar payments would considerably increase the administrative burden on farmers and limit their job-creating potential; calls for a stronger role for social partners alongside management authorities, and calls on the Member States to recognise and guarantee the social rights of farmers, ensuring that all workers in agriculture, part-time or full-time, are covered by social protection systems; calls on the Member States to transpose Directive 2014/36/EU on seasonal workers into national legislation; calls on the national health and safety authorities to be allocated resources to spreading information about farm safety;

66.  Calls on the Commission to introduce the indicators proposed by the FAO in its Sustainability Assessment of Food and Agriculture systems (SAFA), in particular those geared to employment and social wellbeing;

67.  Recalls that the average European farmer holds a mere 12 hectares of land and that 70 % of agricultural holdings have a surface area of less than five hectares; notes that owing to their size and structure agricultural holdings cannot always afford to take on full-time employees or highly qualified workers; encourages the Commission and the Member States, therefore, to put in place measures to encourage employer groups;

68.  Takes the view that it is vital to ensure that public and private services are in place to ensure the attractiveness of rural areas and make it possible to maintain and develop employment there; considers that people in rural areas have a right to equal access to quality public services such as education and social and healthcare; considers it essential that all – local government, regional government (where it exists) and the local private sector – should work together to promote investment and ensure that rural and remote areas have essential infrastructure such as public and private transport links, a secure supply of energy and reliable and fast broadband technology, as well as finance and credit schemes for rural entrepreneurs, micro-enterprises and SMEs, without which rural enterprises and households will be at a permanent disadvantage and migration to urban areas will continue;

69.  Takes the view, with regard to the recent animal epidemics and the recent food safety scandals, such as the 2011 E. coli outbreak, the 2013 horsemeat scandal, and the current counterfeit honey scandal – that a significant increase in the amount spent on food and feed security – as set out in the third heading of the Multiannual Financial Framework – is needed, since the EUR 1,93 billion allocated for the current seven-year period is completely inadequate;

70.  Stresses that farmers have to deal on a large scale with CAP-related administrative costs and that these costs vary substantially among Member States; calls on the Commission and Member States to decrease administrative burden by cutting red tape and simplifying the CAP, as well as ensuring its cost-effective transposition;

71.  Stresses that access to basic services such as education, healthcare and housing, as well as the continuity of those services, are prerequisites for an environment conducive to job creation and for meeting the vital needs of people living in rural areas;

72.  Considers it vital to ask public authorities to create extension services and services to assist farm management in rural areas, with a view to modernising European farming;

73.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to encourage and facilitate women’s equality in the labour market and the compatibility of work and private life in rural areas, particularly regarding wages and social and pension rights, promotion of new qualifications and offering prospects and opportunities for women in agricultural and non-agricultural employment, in line with the principle of equality and non-discrimination in EU policies and programmes; also calls on them to better exploit the opportunities for targeted online information platforms, action and aid to new entrant and established women farmers and women in rural areas, particularly in the framework of the EAFRD and other EU funds encouraging project development, and to help retain essential infrastructure and services that are important in everyday rural life, thereby helping to limit the exodus of women from rural areas; likewise draws attention to the need, especially in rural areas, for sustainable strategies to maintain, encourage and support women´s networks and organisations and their role in decision-making in agriculture and in rural areas; calls, furthermore, for easier access to education, finance and information to facilitate women´s entrepreneurial initiatives (e.g. through e-business), rural business ownership and development;

74.  Urges the Member States to strengthen the role of the social partners and social welfare organisations working alongside the authorities in monitoring compliance with employment legislation, combating undeclared work and monitoring adherence to social welfare and safety standards that promote the social and economic integration of migrant workers, including female seasonal workers, migrants and refugees; calls for arrangements to be put in place to ensure that women can take part in all levels of the process;

75.  Points out that the amount of farmland in the EU is becoming smaller by the year; emphasises that it is vital to preserve arable land in order to guarantee jobs in rural areas; calls on the Member States to promote improved access to land in areas with high levels of rural unemployment, calls, in this connection, for action to be taken to ensure that young women farmers have access to credit and are able to participate in land management;

76.  Draws attention to the fact that women account for 45 % of the farm labour force; calls on the Commission to revise the definition of ‘family farm’, in order to facilitate women’s access to training and professional advice, as well as to capital and benefits;

77.  Calls on the relevant national, regional and local authorities to encourage the participation of women in local action groups and the development of local partnerships under the LEADER programme, as well as to ensure gender-balanced participation on their management boards;

o
o   o

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

(1) Eurostat, 2016.
(2) cf http://www.eesc.europa.eu/?i=portal.en.nat-opinions.25458

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