Index 
Texts adopted
Tuesday, 22 November 2016 - StrasbourgFinal edition
Agreement on Operational and Strategic Cooperation between Ukraine and Europol *
 Request for the waiver of the immunity of Jean-François Jalkh
 Request for the waiver of the immunity of Jean-François Jalkh
 Long-term plan for cod stocks and the fisheries exploiting those stocks ***II
 Access to anti-money-laundering information by tax authorities *
 European Central Bank annual report for 2015
 Green Paper on Retail Financial Services
 European Defence Union
 Unleashing the potential of waterborne passenger transport
 Increasing the effectiveness of development cooperation

Agreement on Operational and Strategic Cooperation between Ukraine and Europol *
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European Parliament legislative resolution of 22 November 2016 on the draft Council implementing decision approving the conclusion by the European Police Office (Europol) of the Agreement on Operational and Strategic Cooperation between Ukraine and Europol (10345/2016 – C8-0267/2016 – 2016/0811(CNS))
P8_TA(2016)0428A8-0342/2016

(Consultation)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Council draft (10345/2016),

–  having regard to Article 39(1) of the Treaty on European Union, as amended by the Treaty of Amsterdam, and Article 9 of Protocol No 36 on transitional provisions, pursuant to which the Council consulted Parliament (C8‑0267/2016),

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

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

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

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (A8-0342/2016),

1.  Approves the Council draft;

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

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

4.  Calls on the Commission to assess, after the date of application of the new Europol Regulation(4), the provisions contained in the cooperation agreement; calls on the Commission to inform Parliament and the Council of the outcome of that assessment and, if appropriate, to submit a recommendation for an authorisation to open the international renegotiation of the agreement;

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

(1) OJ L 121, 15.5.2009, p. 37.
(2) OJ L 325, 11.12.2009, p. 6.
(3) OJ L 325, 11.12.2009, p. 12.
(4) Regulation (EU) 2016/794 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 May 2016 on the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation (Europol) and replacing and repealing Council Decisions 2009/371/JHA, 2009/934/JHA, 2009/935/JHA, 2009/936/JHA and 2009/968/JHA (OJ L 135, 24.5.2016, p. 53).


Request for the waiver of the immunity of Jean-François Jalkh
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European Parliament decision of 22 November 2016 on the request for waiver of the immunity of Jean-François Jalkh (2016/2115(IMM))
P8_TA(2016)0429A8-0318/2016

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the request for waiver of the immunity of Jean-François Jalkh, forwarded on 14 April 2016 by the French Minister of Justice in connection with a judicial inquiry (file No 14142000183) opened against Mr Jean‑François Jalkh at the Nanterre Regional Court in response to an application with joinder filed by the ‘Maison des potes – Maison de l’égalité’ association on grounds of public incitement to racial or religious discrimination and announced in plenary on 8 June 2016,

–  having heard Jean-François Jalkh in accordance with Rule 9(5) of its Rules of Procedure,

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

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

–  having regard to Article 26 of the Constitution of the French Republic, as amended by Constitutional Law of 4 August 1995 No 95-880,

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Legal Affairs (A8-0318/2016),

A.  whereas the Public Prosecutor at the Versailles Court of Appeal has requested the waiver of the parliamentary immunity of a Member of the European Parliament, Jean-François Jalkh, in connection with a legal action concerning an alleged offence;

B.  whereas the waiver of immunity of Jean-François Jalkh relates to an alleged offence of public incitement to discrimination on grounds of nationality, race or religion by word of mouth, in written form or by means of images or electronic public communication by a person or persons unknown, an offence provided for in French law, namely in Article 24(8), Article 23(1) and Article 42 of the Law of 29 July 1881 and Article 93(3) of Law No 82-652 of 29 July 1982, the penalties for which are laid down in Article 24(8), (10), (11) and (12) of the Law of 29 July 1881 and Article 131-26(2) and (3) of the Criminal Code;

C.  whereas Jean-François Jalkh was accused by the ‘Maison des potes – Maison de l’égalité’ association in an application filed with the Nanterre Regional Court on 22 May 2014;

D.  whereas the complaint concerned statements made in a brochure entitled ‘Handbook for Front National local councillors’, published on 19 September 2013 and posted on the official website of the Front National federation on 30 November 2013, that encouraged any National Front candidates elected to the post of local councillor in the elections held on 23 and 30 March 2014 to recommend, at the first sitting of their new local council, that priority should be given to French people (‘priorité nationale’) when allocating social housing; whereas Jean-François Jalkh was the Front National’s publications director and had editorial control over all the federation’s websites;

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

F.  whereas Article 26 of the French Constitution provides that no Member of the French Parliament shall be prosecuted, investigated, arrested, detained or tried in respect of opinions expressed or votes cast in the performance of his official duties;

G.  whereas the scope of immunity accorded to Members of the French Parliament corresponds in fact to the scope of immunity accorded to Members of the European Parliament under Article 8 of Protocol No 7 on the Privileges and Immunities of the European Union; whereas the Court of Justice has held that for a Member of the European Parliament to enjoy immunity, an opinion must be expressed by the Member in the performance of his duties, thus entailing the requirement of a link between the opinion expressed and the parliamentary duties; whereas such link must be direct and obvious;

H.  whereas Jean-François Jalkh was not a Member of the European Parliament when the alleged offence took place, namely on 19 September and 30 November 2013, but the allegedly offensive materials were still available for consultation by anyone wishing to access them on 23 June and 2 October 2014;

I.  whereas the charges are manifestly unrelated to the position of Jean-François Jalkh as a Member of the European Parliament and concern instead activities of a purely national or regional nature, given that the statements were made to prospective local council members with a view to the local elections to be held on 23 and 30 March 2014 and relate to his position as the Front National’s publications director with editorial control over all the federation’s websites;

J.  whereas the alleged actions do not relate to opinions expressed or votes cast by the Member of the European Parliament in the performance of his duties within the meaning of Article 8 of Protocol No 7 on the Privileges and Immunities of the European Union;

K.  whereas there is no suspicion of any attempt to obstruct the parliamentary work of Jean‑François Jalkh (fumus persecutionis) behind the judicial inquiry which was opened following an application by the ‘Maison des potes – Maison de l’égalité’ association submitted before he assumed his seat in the European Parliament;

1.  Decides to waive the immunity of Jean-François Jalkh;

2.  Instructs its President to forward this decision and the report of its committee responsible immediately to the Minister of Justice of the French Republic and to Jean‑François Jalkh.

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


Request for the waiver of the immunity of Jean-François Jalkh
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European Parliament decision of 22 November 2016 on the request for waiver of the immunity of Jean-François Jalkh (2016/2107(IMM))
P8_TA(2016)0430A8-0319/2016

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the request for waiver of the immunity of Jean-François Jalkh, forwarded on 14 April 2016 by the French Minister of Justice in connection with a judicial inquiry (file No 1422400530) opened against Mr Jean‑François Jalkh at the Paris District Court in response to an application with joinder filed by the Association ‘National Office for Vigilance against Anti-Semitism (BNVCA)’ on grounds of public incitement to discrimination, hatred or violence and announced in plenary on 8 June 2016,

–  having heard Jean-François Jalkh in accordance with Rule 9(5) of its Rules of Procedure,

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

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

–  having regard to Article 26 of the Constitution of the French Republic, as amended by Constitutional Law of 4 August 1995 No 95-880,

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Legal Affairs (A8-0319/2016),

A.  whereas the Public Prosecutor at the Paris Court of Appeal has requested the waiver of the parliamentary immunity of a Member of the European Parliament, Jean-François Jalkh, in connection with a legal action concerning an alleged offence;

B.  whereas the waiver of immunity of Jean-François Jalkh relates to an alleged offence of incitement to discrimination, hatred or violence in respect of a person or group of persons on account of their origin or membership or non-membership of a particular ethnic group, nation, race or religion, an offence provided for in French law, namely in Article 24(8) and Article 23(1) of the Law of 29 July 1881;

C.  whereas Jean-François Jalkh was accused by the Association ‘National Office for Vigilance against Anti-Semitism (BNVCA)’ in an application lodged with the Senior Examining Magistrate in Paris on 12 August 2014;

D.  whereas the complaint concerned statements made by Mr Jean-Marie Le Pen during an interview disseminated on the website www.frontnational.com, and then on the blog www.jeanmarielepen.com on 6 June 2014 in response to the mention by a member of the audience of the name of the singer Patrick Bruel, who had said that he could no longer perform in towns which had elected mayors belonging to the National Front, in which he said: ‘That does not surprise me. Listen, we’ll put them all in the oven together next time’; whereas Jean-François Jalkh was the publications director of the official website of the National Front;

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

F.  whereas Article 26 of the French Constitution provides that no Member of the Parliament shall be prosecuted, investigated, arrested, detained or tried in respect of opinions expressed or votes cast in the performance of his official duties;

G.  whereas the scope of immunity accorded to Members of the French Parliament corresponds in fact to the scope of immunity accorded to Members of the European Parliament under Article 8 of Protocol No 7 on the Privileges and Immunities of the European Union; whereas the Court of Justice has held that for a Member of the European Parliament to enjoy immunity an opinion must be expressed by the Member in the performance of his duties, thus entailing the requirement of a link between the opinion expressed and the parliamentary duties; whereas such link must be direct and obvious;

H.  whereas Jean-François Jalkh had not assumed his duties as a Member of the European Parliament when the alleged offence took place, namely on 6 June 2014, assuming them only as of 1 July 2014;

I.  whereas the charges are manifestly unrelated to the position of Jean-François Jalkh as a Member of the European Parliament and concern instead activities of a purely national or regional nature, given that the statements related to the local elections in France held on 23 and 30 March 2014 and to his position as the Front National’s publications director with editorial control over the federation’s websites;

J.  whereas the alleged actions do not relate to opinions expressed or votes cast by the Member of the European Parliament in the performance of his duties within the meaning of Article 8 of Protocol No 7 on the Privileges and Immunities of the European Union;

K.  whereas there is no suspicion of any attempt to obstruct the parliamentary work of Jean‑François Jalkh (fumus persecutionis) behind the judicial inquiry which was opened following an application by the Association ‘National Office for Vigilance against Anti-Semitism (BNVCA)’;

1.  Decides to waive the immunity of Jean-François Jalkh;

2.  Instructs its President to forward this decision and the report of its committee responsible immediately to the Minister of Justice of the French Republic and to Jean‑François Jalkh.

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


Long-term plan for cod stocks and the fisheries exploiting those stocks ***II
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European Parliament legislative resolution of 22 November 2016 on the Council position at first reading with a view to the adoption of a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Council Regulation (EC) No 1342/2008 establishing a long-term plan for cod stocks and the fisheries exploiting those stocks (11309/1/2016 – C8-0403/2016 – 2012/0236(COD))
P8_TA(2016)0431A8-0325/2016

(Ordinary legislative procedure: second reading)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Council position at first reading (11309/1/2016 – C8‑0403/2016),

–  having regard to the opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee of 13 December 2012(1),

–  having regard to its position at first reading(2) on the Commission proposal to Parliament and the Council (COM(2012)0498),

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

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

–  having regard to the recommendation for second reading of the Committee on Fisheries (A8-0325/2016),

1.  Approves the Council position at first reading;

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

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

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

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

(1) OJ C 44, 15.2.2013, p. 125.
(2) OJ C 65, 19.2.2016, p. 193.


Access to anti-money-laundering information by tax authorities *
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European Parliament legislative resolution of 22 November 2016 on the proposal for a Council directive amending Directive 2011/16/EU as regards access to anti-money-laundering information by tax authorities (COM(2016)0452 – C8-0333/2016 – 2016/0209(CNS))
P8_TA(2016)0432A8-0326/2016

(Special legislative procedure – consultation)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Commission proposal to the Council (COM(2016)0452),

–  having regard to Articles 113 and 115 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, pursuant to which the Council consulted Parliament (C8-0333/2016),

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs (A8-0326/2016),

1.  Approves the Commission proposal as amended;

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

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

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

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

Text proposed by the Commission   Amendment
Amendment 1
Proposal for a directive
Recital -1 (new)
(-1)  The role of vehicles, accounts and companies based in tax havens and non-cooperative jurisdictions has emerged as the common denominator in a vast range of operations, generally detected a posteriori, which conceal tax fraud, capital flight and money laundering practices. This fact in itself should call for political and diplomatic action aimed at eliminating offshore centres at a global level.
Amendment 2
Proposal for a directive
Recital 1
(1)  Council Directive 2011/16/EU11 as amended by Directive 2014/107/EU12 applies as of 1 January 2016 to 27 Member States and as of 1 January 2017 to Austria. That Directive implements the Global Standard for Automatic Exchange of Financial Account Information in Tax Matters (“Global Standard”) within the Union. As such, it ensures that information on Account Holders of Financial Accounts is reported to the Member State where the Account Holder is resident.
(1)  Council Directive 2011/16/EU11 as amended by Council Directive 2014/107/EU12 applies as of 1 January 2016 to 27 Member States and as of 1 January 2017 to Austria. That Directive implements the Global Standard for Automatic Exchange of Financial Account Information in Tax Matters (“Global Standard”) within the Union. As such, it ensures that information on Account Holders of Financial Accounts is reported to the Member State where the Account Holder is resident, with the aim of combating tax evasion, tax avoidance and aggressive tax planning.
__________________
__________________
11 Council Directive 2011/16/EU of 15 February 2011 on administrative cooperation in the field of taxation and repealing Directive 77/799/EEC (OJ L 64, 11.3.2011, p. 1).
11 Council Directive 2011/16/EU of 15 February 2011 on administrative cooperation in the field of taxation and repealing Directive 77/799/EEC (OJ L 64, 11.3.2011, p. 1).
12 Council Directive 2014/107/EU of 9 December 2014 amending Directive 2011/16/EU as regards mandatory automatic exchange of information in the field of taxation (OJ L 359, 16.12.2014, p. 1).
12 Council Directive 2014/107/EU of 9 December 2014 amending Directive 2011/16/EU as regards mandatory automatic exchange of information in the field of taxation (OJ L 359, 16.12.2014, p. 1).
Amendment 3
Proposal for a directive
Recital 1 a (new)
(1a)   Combating tax evasion and tax avoidance, including in connection with money laundering, is an absolute priority for the Union.
Amendment 4
Proposal for a directive
Recital 3
(3)  To ensure effective monitoring of the application by Financial Institutions of the due diligence procedures set forth in Directive 2011/16/EU, the tax authorities need access to AML information. In the absence of such access, those authorities would not be able to monitor, confirm and audit that the Financial Institutions apply properly Directive 2011/16/EU by identifying correctly and reporting the beneficial owners of intermediary structures.
(3)  To ensure effective monitoring of the application by Financial Institutions of the due diligence procedures set forth in Directive 2011/16/EU, the tax authorities need rapid and complete access to AML information and to have at their disposal sufficient numbers of suitably skilled staff to perform that task and the ability to exchange such information. That access should be the result of a mandatory automatic exchange of information. In the absence of such access and the appropriate staff, those authorities would not be able to monitor, confirm and audit that the Financial Institutions apply properly Directive 2011/16/EU by identifying correctly and reporting the beneficial owners of intermediary structures.
Amendment 5
Proposal for a directive
Recital 3 a (new)
(3a)  The observed link between tax evasion, tax avoidance and money laundering calls for exploiting, to the maximum extent, synergies stemming from domestic, Union and international cooperation between the different authorities involved in fighting these crimes and abuses. Issues such as beneficial ownership transparency or the extent to which entities such as legal professions are subject to the AML framework in third countries are crucial to enhancing the ability of Union authorities to address tax dodging and money laundering.
Amendment 6
Proposal for a directive
Recital 3 b (new)
(3b)   The Swissleaks, Luxleaks, Panama Papers and Bahamas Leaks revelations, which are individual manifestations of a global phenomenon, have confirmed the paramount need for greater tax transparency and much closer coordination and cooperation between jurisdictions.
Amendment 7
Proposal for a directive
Recital 3 c (new)
(3c)   The mandatory automatic exchange of tax information is recognised internationally, at G20, OECD and Union level, as the most effective instrument in the achievement of international tax transparency. In its communication of 5 July 2016 on further measures to enhance transparency against tax evasion and avoidance1a, the Commission stated that ‘there is a strong case for extending the administrative cooperation between tax authorities even further, to cover beneficial ownership information’ and that ‘the automatic exchange of information on beneficial ownership could potentially be integrated into the binding tax transparency framework already in place in the EU’. Moreover, all Member States are already taking part in a pilot project on the exchange of information concerning final beneficial owners of firms and trusts.
_____________
1a COM(2016)0451.
Amendment 8
Proposal for a directive
Recital 4
(4)  It is therefore necessary to ensure the access by the tax authorities to the AML information, procedures, documents and mechanisms for the performance of their duties in monitoring the proper application of Directive 2011/16/EU.
(4)  Union rules on the prevention and combating of money laundering have over time incorporated changes in international standards, with the aim of strengthening Member State coordination and responding to the challenges faced at global level, in particular because of the links between money laundering, the funding of terrorism, organised crime and tax evasion and avoidance. It is therefore necessary to ensure direct and facilitated access by the tax authorities to the AML information, procedures, documents and mechanisms for the performance of their duties in monitoring the proper application of Directive 2011/16/EU and for the functioning of all forms of administrative cooperation referred to in that Directive, and to include that information, where relevant, in the automatic exchanges between Member States, and to provide access to the Commission, on a confidential basis.
Amendment 10
Proposal for a directive
Recital 4 b (new)
(4b)  In addition, it is important that tax authorities have adequate information and communications technology (ICT) systems in place that can trace money-laundering activities at an early stage. In that regard tax authorities should have adequate ICT and staff resources that can cope with the large amount of AML information to be exchanged between Member States.
Amendment 11
Proposal for a directive
Recital 4 c (new)
(4c)  Moreover, given that the upgraded information exchange and the information leaks have increased the spontaneous exchange and availability of information, it is very important that Member States investigate and act upon all potential wrongdoing.
Amendment 12
Proposal for a directive
Recital 4 d (new)
(4d)  Since AML information is in many cases of a cross-border nature, it should be included, where relevant, in the automatic exchange between Member States and should be made available on request to the Commission in the framework of its power to enforce state aid rules. Moreover, given the complexity and the need to verify the reliability of this information, such as in the case of data on beneficial ownership, tax authorities should cooperate on cross-border enquiries.
Amendment 13
Proposal for a directive
Recital 4 e (new)
(4e)   An automatic, mandatory and continuous exchange of information in the field of taxation between the various competent authorities is essential in order to ensure maximum transparency and to have a basic instrument for preventing and combating fraudulent behaviour of all kinds.
Amendment 14
Proposal for a directive
Recital 4 f (new)
(4f)  Given the global character of money laundering activities, international cooperation is key to an effective and efficient fight against such activities.
Amendment 15
Proposal for a directive
Recital 6
(6)  Since the objective of this Directive, namely the efficient administrative cooperation between Member States and its effective monitoring under conditions compatible with the proper functioning of the internal market, cannot be sufficiently achieved by the Member States and can therefore, by reason of the uniformity and effectiveness required, be better achieved at Union level, the Union may adopt measures, in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity as set out in Article 5 of the Treaty on the European Union. In accordance with the principle of proportionality, as set out in that Article, this Directive does not go beyond what is necessary in order to achieve that objective.
(6)  Since the objective of this Directive, namely the efficient administrative cooperation between Member States and its effective monitoring under conditions compatible with the proper functioning of the internal market in order to combat tax fraud, cannot be sufficiently achieved by the Member States and can therefore, by reason of the uniformity and effectiveness required, be better achieved at Union level, the Union may adopt measures, in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity as set out in Article 5 of the Treaty on the European Union. In accordance with the principle of proportionality, as set out in that Article, this Directive does not go beyond what is necessary in order to achieve that objective.
Amendment 16
Proposal for a directive
Recital 7
(7)  The customer due diligence carried out by Financial Institutions under Directive 2011/16/EU has already started and the first exchanges are to be finalised by September 2017. Therefore, in order to ensure that the effective monitoring of the application is not delayed, this Amending Directive should enter into force and be transposed by 1 January 2017.
(7)  The customer due diligence carried out by Financial Institutions under Directive 2011/16/EU has already started and the first exchanges are to be finalised by September 2017. Therefore, in order to ensure that the effective monitoring of the application is not delayed, this Amending Directive should enter into force and be transposed by 1 January 2018.
Amendment 17
Proposal for a directive
Article 1 – paragraph 1 – point -1 (new)
Directive 2011/16/EU
Article 2 – paragraph 1
(-1)  In Article 2, paragraph 1 is replaced by the following:
1.  This Directive shall apply to all taxes of any kind levied by, or on behalf of, a Member State or the Member State’s territorial or administrative subdivisions, including the local authorities.
1.  This Directive shall apply to all taxes of any kind levied by, or on behalf of, a Member State or the Member State’s territorial or administrative subdivisions, including the local authorities, as well as to virtual currency exchange services and custodial wallet providers.
Amendment 18
Proposal for a directive
Article 1 – paragraph 1 – point -1 a (new)
Directive 2011/16/EU
Article 8 a (new)
(-1a)  The following article is inserted:
“Article 8a
The tax authorities of a Member State shall, within three months of their collection, automatically exchange the documents and information referred to in Article 22 of this Directive with any other Member State if the beneficial owner of a firm, or, in the case of a trust, the settlor, one of the trustees, the protector (where relevant), a beneficiary or any other person exercising genuine control over the trust, or, lastly, the holder of an account referred to in Article 32a of Directive (EU) 2015/849 is a taxpayer in that Member State. Access should be provided to the Commission for the completion of its missions, on a confidential basis.ˮ
Amendment 19
Proposal for a directive
Article 1 – paragraph 1
Directive 2011/16/EU
Article 22 – paragraph 1 a
(1a)   For the purpose of the implementation and enforcement of the laws of the Member States giving effect to this directive, and to ensure the functioning of the administrative cooperation it establishes, Member States shall provide by law for access by tax authorities to the mechanisms, procedures, documents and information referred to in articles 13, 30, 31, 32a and 40 of Directive 2015/849/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council*.
1a.   For the purpose of the implementation and enforcement of the laws of the Member States giving effect to this directive, and to ensure the functioning of the administrative cooperation it establishes, Member States shall provide by law for tax authorities’ access to the central registers, mechanisms, procedures, documents and information referred to in Articles 7, 13, 18, 18a, 19, 27, 30, 31, 32a, 40, 44 and 48 of Directive (EU) 2015/849 of the European Parliament and of the Council*. Such access shall be the result of a mandatory automatic exchange of information. Member States shall further guarantee access to that information by including it in a centralised public register of companies, trusts and other structures whose nature or purpose is similar or equivalent.
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__________________
* Directive (EU) 2015/849 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 May 2015 on the prevention of the use of the financial system for the purposes of money laundering or terrorist financing, amending Regulation (EU) No 648/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council, and repealing Directive 2005/60/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council and Commission Directive 2006/70/EC (OJ L 141, 5.6.2015, p. 73).
* Directive (EU) 2015/849 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 May 2015 on the prevention of the use of the financial system for the purposes of money laundering or terrorist financing, amending Regulation (EU) No 648/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council, and repealing Directive 2005/60/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council and Commission Directive 2006/70/EC (OJ L 141, 5.6.2015, p. 73).
Amendment 20
Proposal for a directive
Article 1 – paragraph 1 – point 1 a (new)
Directive 2011/16/EU
Article 22 – paragraph 1 b (new)
(1a)  In Article 22, the following paragraph is inserted:
“1b. For the purpose of the effective use of exchanged data, Member States shall ensure that all information exchanged and obtained shall be investigated in a timely manner, whether that information has been obtained by authorities on request, through spontaneous information exchange by another Member State, or from a public information leak. Should a Member State fail to do this in a timeframe required by national law, it shall publicly communicate the reasons for this failure to the Commission.”
Amendment 21
Proposal for a directive
Article 2 – paragraph 1 – subparagraph 1
1.  Member States shall adopt and publish, by 31 December 2016 at the latest, the laws, regulations and administrative provisions necessary to comply with this Directive. They shall forthwith communicate to the Commission the text of those provisions.
1.  Member States shall adopt and publish, by 31 December 2017 at the latest, the laws, regulations and administrative provisions necessary to comply with this Directive. They shall forthwith communicate to the Commission the text of those provisions.
Amendment 22
Proposal for a directive
Article 2 – paragraph 1 – subparagraph 2
They shall apply those provisions from 1 January 2017.
They shall apply those provisions from 1 January 2018.

European Central Bank annual report for 2015
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European Parliament resolution of 22 November 2016 on the European Central Bank Annual Report for 2015 (2016/2063(INI))
P8_TA(2016)0433A8-0302/2016

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the European Central Bank Annual Report for 2015,

–  having regard to Article 284(3) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU),

–  having regard to Article 123(1) of the TFEU,

–  having regard to the Statute of the European System of Central Banks and of the European Central Bank, in particular Article 15 thereof,

–  having regard to Rule 132(1) of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs (A8-0302/2016),

A.  whereas on a possible withdrawal of the UK from the EU, President Draghi correctly stated that ‘the extent to which the economic outlook will be affected depends on the timing, development and final outcome of the upcoming negotiations. So far, the euro area economy has been resilient, but due to this uncertainty our baseline scenario remains subject to downside risks’; and that ‘regardless of the type of relationship that emerges between the European Union and the United Kingdom, it is of utmost importance that the integrity of the single market is respected. Any outcome should ensure that all participants are subject to the same rules’;

B.  whereas, according to the Commission’s latest spring forecast, euro area real growth is expected to be modest and geographically uneven – 1,6 % in 2016 and 1,8 % in 2017, following 1,7 % in 2015;

C.  whereas, according to the same forecast, unemployment in the euro area is expected to record a decrease, from 10,9 % at the end of 2015 to 9,9 % at the end of 2017; whereas disparities between the unemployment rates of the Member States continued to widen in 2015, with figures ranging from 4,6 % in Germany to 24,9 % in Greece;

D.  whereas, again according to the same forecast, the government deficit in the euro area is expected to gradually decline from 2,1 % in 2015 to 1,9 % in 2016 and 1,6 % in 2017, and the debt-to-GDP ratio is also forecast to decline for the first time since the beginning of the crisis, even though there are still four euro area countries involved in the Commission’s excessive deficit procedure: France, Spain, Greece and Portugal; whereas Cyprus, Ireland and Slovenia have implemented macroeconomic programmes which have enabled them to reduce their respective deficits to less than the threshold of 3 % of GDP;

E.  whereas, according to the same forecast, the euro area is expected to exhibit an external surplus of around 3 % of GDP in both 2016 and 2017; whereas a hard Brexit may have an adverse impact on both the EU and UK trade balance, given that the UK is one of the euro areas main trading partners;

F.  whereas Article 127(5) of the TFEU requires the European System of Central Banks to help maintain financial stability;

G.  whereas Article 127(2) of the TFEU requires the European System of Central Banks ‘to promote the smooth operation of payment systems’;

H.  whereas, according to the ECB projection of September 2016, the average inflation rate in the euro area, after being nil in 2015, will remain close to this level in 2016 (0,2 %) and reach 1,2 % in 2017 and 1,6 % in 2018; whereas the low inflation rates seen in recent years can inter alia be primarily attributed to low energy prices;

I.  whereas the inflation target is getting harder to reach owing to consolidation of demographic trends, continuing low energy prices and the full impact of trade and financial globalisation on a high-unemployment European society; whereas these deflationary pressures are contributing to a lack of investment and the weakness of aggregate demand;

J.  whereas in March 2015 the ECB launched an expanded Asset Purchase Programme (APP) amounting to EUR 1,1 trillion and initially scheduled to run until September 2016;

K.  whereas this programme has since been upgraded, with the asset purchase scheduled to run until March 2017 for a total amount which should be close to EUR 1,7 trillion, and the list of eligible assets has been enlarged to include non-financial corporate bonds and regional and local government bonds; whereas concerns have arisen that the balance sheet of the ECB contains rising levels of risk;

L.  whereas the ECB has bought EUR 19 094 million of asset-backed securities (ABS) since the beginning of its purchase programme;

M.  whereas the ECB further eased its monetary stance by lowering its key intervention rates to unprecedented levels, with the main refinancing operations (MRO) and the deposit facility down to 0 % and - 0,40 % respectively in March 2016; whereas the ECB is offering banks incentives to grant loans and, with that aim in view, is carrying out a further series of targeted longer-term refinancing operations (TLTRO-II);

N.  whereas, according to the ECB, the establishment of the Single Supervisory Mechanism (SSM) aimed at consistent application of microprudential supervision and enforcement across the euro area in order to ensure a level-playing field for bank operations and impose a common assessment methodology (SREP);

O.  whereas the ECB’s president has continued to stress the urgency of much-needed structural reforms in the euro area;

P.  whereas the ECB is supportive of the Simple, Transparent and Standardised Securitisation framework and the resultant reduced capital requirements that will revitalise both securitisation markets and the financing of the real-sector economy;

Q.  whereas Article 123 TFEU and Article 21 of the Statute of the European System of Central Banks and of the European Central Bank prohibit the monetary financing of governments;

1.  Stresses that the euro area continues to suffer from a high level of unemployment, excessive low inflation and large macroeconomic imbalances, including current account imbalances, and that, in addition, the euro area is facing a very low level of productivity growth, which is the result of the lack of investment – 10 percentage points below its level before the crisis –, a failure to carry out structural reforms and the weakness of internal demand; notes that the high level of public debt, and particularly the huge number of non-performing loans and a still undercapitalised banking sector in some Member States, are still fragmenting the euro area financial market, thus reducing room for manoeuvre to support the most fragile economies; emphasises that sound fiscal policies and socially balanced structural reforms oriented towards increasing productivity are the only way of bringing about sustainable economic improvements in these Member States;

2.  Underlines the federal nature of the European Central Bank, which rules out national vetoes, enabling it to act decisively in addressing the crisis;

3.  Acknowledges that, confronted with this very complex environment and the risks of a prolonged period of low inflation, the extraordinary measures adopted by the ECB to lift inflation back up to the medium-term objective of 2 % were consistent with the terms of its mandate, as laid down in Article 127 of the TFEU, and therefore not illegal(1); notes that, since the launching of the APP in March 2015, and owing to targeted long-term refinancing operation (TLTRO) programmes targeted at the real economy, financial conditions have improved slightly, which has promoted a recovery in lending to firms and households in the euro area; notes that these measures have also contributed to a narrowing of the spread of some euro area governments’ bonds; notes that improvements have not affected Member States equally and that credit demand in some Member States remains weak;

4.  Emphasises that in June 2016 the ECB started a new series of four targeted longer-term refinancing operations (TLTRO II); points out that the incentive structure of the programme has changed in comparison with the original TLTRO, as certain banks will be able to borrow at negative rates even if they do not increase their net lending to the real economy;

5.  Is concerned at the fact that by offering liquidity at negative rates, but eliminating the requirements for banks to return the funds if they do not achieve their lending benchmark, the ECB is weakening the link between the provision of central bank liquidity and lending to the real economy that was at the centre of the TLTRO concept;

6.  Welcomes the European Central Bank’s categorical pledge of July 2012 to ‘do whatever it takes’ to defend the euro, which has been instrumental in ensuring the financial stability of the euro area;

7.  Believes that the APP would have a higher impact on the European economy if it was accompanied by effective and socially balanced structural reforms designed to increase the competitiveness of the European economy and if it had a higher share of EIB bond buying, particularly related to the TEN-T and TEN-E (projects with proven added European value in social and economic terms), among others, and SME securitised loans; calls on the ECB to draw up a study analysing what would be the impact of the APP if it could buy in the secondary markets Member States’ public debt directly linked to investment and research expenditure; is concerned that the outright purchases of bonds issued by non-financial corporations within the Corporate Sector Purchase Programme (CSPP), which could be justifiable in the current circumstances, may have distortive effects;

8.  Agrees with ECB President Mario Draghi that the single monetary policy alone cannot stimulate aggregate demand unless it is complemented by sound fiscal policies and ambitious and socially balanced structural reform programmes at Member State level; recalls that, in accordance with its mandate laid down in primary law in the EU Treaties, the ECB’s main aim is to safeguard price stability in order to guarantee a stable environment conducive to investment; considers that monetary policy alone is not the appropriate tool to solve the structural problems of the European economy; emphasises that the expected economic recovery is no substitute for essential structural reforms; draws attention to recent studies and discussions concerning a possible fall in the neutral interest rates observed all over the world over the last decade; points out that such a situation would result in monetary policy being more constrained and less effective, as it would more often run the risk of hitting the zero lower bound;

9.  Agrees that a well-functioning, diversified and integrated capital market would support the channels of transmission of the single monetary policy; calls in this context for a step-by-step completion and full implementation of the banking union and full MS compliance with its related legislation, as well as the building of a capital market union, as this would be a decisive step towards improving the effectiveness of the single monetary policy and mitigating the risks arising from a shock in the financial sector; considers it crucially important to solve the issue of non-performing loans for the worst-affected national banking sectors in order to restore a smooth transmission of monetary policy for the whole area;

10.  Stresses that structural and socially balanced reforms in the economy and the labour market should also take full account of the demographic deficit in Europe, in order to tackle deflationary pressures and create incentives for a more balanced demographic structure that would make it easier to maintain an inflation target of around 2 %; points to the risk of negative investment expectations where demographic trends are unfavourable;

11.  Notes, however, that even though the impact risks and spillovers of unconventional measures has been significant, particularly as regards funding conditions for banks in the periphery, inflation is not expected to converge to the 2 % medium-term objective at the 2017 horizon; notes that the current recovery in bank and market lending is geographically unevenly distributed among the Member States and has not so far wholly produced the expected effect on the existing investment gap in the euro area; stresses that a lack of investment is caused not only by a lack of access to funding, but also by low demand for credit, and that it is necessary to promote structural reforms that directly facilitate investment and jobs; draws attention to the decrease in availability of high-quality assets that are internationally accepted by institutional investors;

12.  Points out that, while the effects on the real economy have been very limited, banks have been able to access funding at virtually no, or very low, cost, which has directly subsidised their balance sheets; deplores the fact that the size of this subsidy, despite representing a clear fiscal spillover effect of monetary policy, is not monitored and published, and that it is free from strict conditionality in terms of whether or how it is invested; insists that any extraordinary measures of this kind should be accompanied by measures to mitigate distortions to markets and the economy;

13.  Deplores the existing, albeit gradually decreasing, gaps between the financing rates granted to SMEs and those granted to bigger companies, between lending rates on small and large loans, and between credit conditions for SMEs located in different euro area countries, but recognises the limits of what monetary policy can achieve in this respect; stresses that the persistent need for adjustment of banks’ balance sheet is affecting, inter alia, the availability of credit for SMEs in some Member States; points to the risk, moreover, of further possible distortions of competition as a result of ECB corporate bond buying on the capital market, in which the underlying eligibility criteria should not create further distortions, particularly in view of the risk framework, and from which SMEs should not be excluded;

14.  Underlines the fact that a prolonged period of flat yield curve could lessen the profitability of banks, especially if they do not adjust their business models, and could create potential risks, in particular for private savings and pension and insurance funds; warns that a decline in the profitability of banks could dampen their willingness to develop lending activity; points particularly to the negative effect of such an interest rate policy on local and regional banks and savings banks with little funding from financial markets, and to risks in the insurance and pensions sector; calls therefore for specific and continued monitoring of the negative interest rate tool, its implementation and its effects; emphasises the need for proper, prudent, timely management of the winding-down of this ultra-low (negative) interest rate policy;

15.  Understands the reason why negative rates have been implemented, but emphasises its concern about the potential consequences of a negative interest rate policy for individual savers and the financial equilibrium of pension schemes and in terms of the development of asset bubbles; is worried about the fact that in some Member States longer-term savings interest rates are below inflation rates; believes that, owing to demographic trends and cultural preferences for saving, these negative effects on income may lead to an increase in the household saving rate, which could be detrimental to domestic demand in the euro area; warns that, given the downward rigidity of deposit rates, the benefits of pushing the rates on deposits at the ECB further into negative territory could be limited;

16.  Remains concerned by the still significant levels of non-marketable assets and asset-backed securities put forward as collateral to the eurosystem in the framework of its refinancing operations; reiterates its request to the ECB to provide information on which central banks have accepted such securities and to disclose valuation methods regarding such assets; underlines that such disclosure would be beneficial for the purpose of parliamentary scrutiny of the supervisory tasks conferred on the ECB;

17.  Asks the ECB to study how the transmission of monetary policy differs in those Member States with centralised and concentrated banking sectors and those with a more diverse network of local and regional banks, as well as between countries which rely more on banks or capital markets for the financing of the economy;

18.  Calls on the ECB to carefully assess the risks of a future resurgence of asset and housing bubbles owing to its ultra-low (negative) interest rate policy, especially in the light of much-increased lending volumes and disproportionately high prices in the property sector, particularly in some big cities, and believes that it, together with the European Systemic Risk Board (ESRB), should put forward proposals for designing specific macroprudential recommendations in this regard;

19.  Supports the ECB’s assessment that the current CRR/CRD IV package lacks certain measures which could also effectively address specific types of systemic risk, such as (i) various asset-side measures, including the application of limits to loan-to-value, loan-to-income or debt-service-to-income ratios, and (ii) the introduction of various exposure limits falling outside the current definition of large exposures; urges the Commission to examine the need for legislative proposals in this regard; notes that some of these measures could already be integrated in the context of the ongoing legislative work around the EDIS proposal;

20.  Points out that, as indicated by the ECB’s role in relation to liquidity provision to Greece in June 2015 and the leaked discussions of the ECB Council of Governors on the solvency of Cypriot banks, the concept of ‘insolvency’ underpinning the provision of central bank liquidity to institutions in the euro area lacks a sufficient level of clarity and legal certainty, as the ECB has in past years referred alternately to a static concept of solvency (based on whether a bank complies with minimum capital requirements at a certain point in time) or to a dynamic concept (based on forward-looking scenarios of stress tests) for justifying the continuation or limitation of emergency liquidity assistance (ELA) provision; underlines that this lack of clarity needs to be addressed so as to guarantee legal certainty and foster financial stability;

21.  Notes the ECB Presidency’s recognition of the existence of distributional consequences of the ECB policies with an impact on inequalities, and takes note of the ECB’s assessment that the lowering of costs of credit for citizens and SMEs, while enhancing employment in the euro area, might partially compensate for these distributional impacts;

22.  Notes that the ECB’s APP has lowered bond yields in most Member States to unprecedented levels; warns against the risk of excessively high valuations on the bond markets, which would be difficult to handle if interest rates start to rise again in the absence of a sufficiently robust recovery, particularly for the countries involved in the excessive deficit procedure or with high levels of debt; points out that a sudden reversal of interest rates from currently low levels along the yield curve carry important market risks for financial institutions with a significant proportion of mark-to-market financial instruments;

23.  Stresses the prerequisites defined by the Court of Justice that must be met by any purchase of government bonds of euro area Member States on the secondary market by the European System of Central Banks (ESCB):

   purchases are not announced,
   the volume of the purchases is limited from the outset,
   there is a minimum period between the issue of the government bonds and their purchase by the ESCB which is defined from the outset and prevents the issuing conditions from being distorted,
   the ESCB purchases only government bonds of Member States that have bond market access enabling the funding of such bonds,
   purchased bonds are only in exceptional cases held until maturity, and purchases are restricted or ceased and purchased bonds are remarketed should it become unnecessary to continue the intervention;

24.  Takes account of the fact that some Member States may be using ultra-low (negative) interest rate policy to defer necessary structural reforms and the consolidation of their primary public deficits, particularly at central government level, and points in this connection to the Stability and Growth Pact commitments; recognises that one of the reasons contributing to budgetary surpluses in some Member States has been the negative interest rates of their public debt; emphasises that national economic policies should be coordinated, particularly within the euro area; underlines that the unavoidable process of exiting from unconventional monetary policy will be a very complex one which will have to be carefully planned in order to avoid negative shocks on the capital markets;

25.  Welcomes the publication of the minutes of the Council meeting and the decision to disclose the agreements on net financial assets (ANFA) between the ECB and the national central banks; encourages the ECB to pursue its transparency effort; reminds the ECB that labour recruitment policy must comply with best practice;

26.  Recalls that the independence of the ECB for the conduct of monetary policy, as enshrined in Article 130 of the TFEU, is crucial to the objective of safeguarding price stability; asks all governments to avoid statements questioning the role played by the institution within its mandate;

27.  Calls on the ECB to pay particular attention to the proportionality principle in connection with the banking supervisory tasks conferred on it;

28.  Points to the apportionment of responsibilities between the ECB and the European Banking Authority (EBA); stresses that the ECB should not become the de facto standard-setter for non-SSM banks;

29.  Notes that on 18 May 2016 the ECB Governing Council adopted the Regulation on the collection of granular credit and credit risk data (AnaCredit); calls on the ECB and the national central banks to leave as much leeway as possible when implementing AnaCredit;

30.  Calls on the ECB not to begin work on any further stages in connection with AnaCredit until after a public consultation exercise, with full involvement of the European Parliament and particular account being taken of the proportionality principle;

31.  Notes with concern that TARGET 2 imbalances are rising again in the euro area despite a narrowing in trade imbalances pointing to continued capital outflows from the euro area periphery;

32.  Recalls that the monetary dialogue is important in order to ensure the transparency of monetary policy vis-à-vis Parliament and the wider public;

33.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission and the European Central Bank.

(1) As recently underlined by the European Court of Justice and the judgment of the German Federal Constitutional Court of 21 June 2016.


Green Paper on Retail Financial Services
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European Parliament resolution of 22 November 2016 on the Green Paper on Retail Financial Services (2016/2056(INI))
P8_TA(2016)0434A8-0294/2016

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 11 May 1999 entitled ‘Implementing the framework for financial markets: action plan’ (the Financial Services Action Plan) (COM(1999)0232),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 31 January 2007 entitled ‘Sector Inquiry under Article 17 of Regulation (EC) No 1/2003 on retail banking (Final Report)’ (COM(2007)0033),

–  having regard to the Commission Green Paper of 30 April 2007 on ‘Retail Financial Services in the Single Market’ (COM(2007)0226),

–  having regard to Directive 2008/48/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 April 2008 on credit agreements for consumers and repealing Council Directive 87/102/EEC(1),

–  having regard to Regulation (EC) No 924/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 September 2009 on cross-border payments in the Community and repealing Regulation (EC) No 2560/2001(2),

–  having regard to the Commission Green Paper of 11 January 2012 entitled ‘Towards an integrated European market for card, internet and mobile payments’ (COM(2011)0941),

–  having regard to the 2014 European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority ‘Report on Good Practices on Comparison Websites’,

–  having regard to the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority Opinion to EU Institutions on a Common Framework for Risk Assessment and Transparency for IORPs of April 2016,

–  having regard to Directive 2014/17/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 4 February 2014 on credit agreements for consumers relating to residential immovable property and amending Directives 2008/48/EC and 2013/36/EU and Regulation (EU) No 1093/2010(3),

–  having regard to Directive 2014/65/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 May 2014 on markets in financial instruments and amending Directive 2002/92/EC and Directive 2011/61/EU(4),

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 910/2014 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 July 2014 on electronic identification and trust services for electronic transactions in the internal market and repealing Directive 1999/93/EC(5),

–  having regard to Directive 2009/65/EC, as amended, most recently, by Directive 2014/91/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 July 2014 amending Directive 2009/65/EC on the coordination of laws, regulations and administrative provisions relating to undertakings for collective investments in transferable securities (UCITS) as regards depositary functions, remuneration policies and sanctions(6),

–  having regard to Directive 2014/92/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 July 2014 on the comparability of fees related to payment accounts, payment account switching and access to payment accounts with basic features(7),

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 1286/2014 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 November 2014 on key information documents for packaged retail and insurance-based investment products(8),

–  having regard to the Commission report of 8 August 2014 on the operation of the European Supervisory Authorities (ESAs) and the European System of Financial Supervision (ESFS) (COM(2014)0509),

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) 2015/751 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 29 April 2015 on interchange fees for card-based payment transactions(9),

–  having regard to Directive (EU) 2015/2366 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 November 2015 on payment services in the internal market, amending Directives 2002/65/EC, 2009/110/EC and 2013/36/EU and Regulation (EU) No 1093/2010, and repealing Directive 2007/64/EC(10),

–  having regard to Directive (EU) 2016/97 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 January 2016 on insurance distribution(11),

–  having regard to its resolution of 26 May 2016 on virtual currencies(12),

–  having regard to the Commission Green Paper of 10 December 2015 on ‘Retail Financial Services: Better products, more choice, and greater opportunities for consumers and businesses’ (COM(2015)0630),

–  having regard to the EBA response to the Commission Green Paper on Retail Financial Services of 21 March 2016,

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs and the opinion of the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection (A8-0294/2016),

A.  whereas the EU market in retail financial services remains rather underdeveloped and highly fragmented, for example in terms of the low number of cross-border transactions, so that efficient action to unlock the full potential of the single market and to facilitate innovation beneficial to end users is required;

B.  whereas the dynamics of retail financial services markets, featuring a combination of relatively high concentration and insufficient competition, may result in limited choice and low value for money, as well as major discrepancies between Member States; whereas multinational companies with branches in several Member States can circumvent these barriers more easily than small companies;

C.  whereas a European retail financial services market would only be viable if it represented real added value for consumers by ensuring effective competition, access and consumer protection, notably in relation to products actually necessary for participation in economic life;

D.  whereas further development of the retail financial services market at EU level with the appropriate legislative framework imposing the consumer protection that is needed would not only facilitate important and fruitful cross-border activity, but might also open up greater scope for increased competition at national level; whereas a genuine European internal market for retail financial services has significant potential for providing consumers with better financial services and products, more choice and improved access to financial services and products, and lower prices; whereas the impact of competition on prices will vary according to sector and product;

E.  whereas the Green Paper mainly focuses on financial services for citizens who are looking for cross-border services; whereas it is important that if new proposals are presented they also benefit all EU consumers in order to ensure that the retail financial services market works for everyone;

F.  whereas we should remain ambitious in breaking down barriers and curbing existing protectionist tendencies that block innovation in retail financial services; whereas a true single market will make the EU attractive as the hub for innovative financial services;

G.  whereas the rapid transformation brought about by digitisation and fintech innovation not only has the potential, if prudently managed, to create new and often better financial products for consumers and to contribute to financial inclusion, including by means of lowering transaction costs and easing access to finance, but also involves key challenges in terms of security, data protection, consumer protection, taxation, fair competition and financial stability, which should be monitored closely in order to maximise citizens’ benefits;

H.  whereas while many services are moving online it is important to ensure that no one is left behind and that access is also provided through non-digital channels where necessary in order to avoid financial exclusion;

I.  whereas any effort to strengthen the EU’s retail financial services market should be coordinated with the DSM (Digital Single Market), CMU (Capital Markets Union) and SMS (Single Market Strategy) agendas and have as its overall aim a strengthening of job creation, sustainable growth, financial stability and the role of the consumer in the European economy;

J.  Stresses that a European retail financial services market must benefit SMEs in terms of both supply and demand; in terms of supply, this means ensuring an improvement in access to financing for SMEs; in terms of demand, it means enabling SMEs to access cross-border markets more easily;

K.  whereas the completion of the internal market is important for consumers, and is also essential for providing European fintech companies with the possibility of reaping the benefits of the internal market so as to compete with traditional players in order to offer innovative, consumer-friendly solutions and to create jobs throughout the EU;

L.  whereas micro-enterprises, SMEs and mid-caps are the backbone of the European economy and the drivers of employment and growth; whereas every European law and initiative must be adapted to the characteristics of such companies;

M.  whereas the completion of the European internal market is hugely important for consumers and businesses, and whereas innovative new actors are starting to offer alternatives to existing services;

1.  Welcomes the Commission Green Paper on retail financial services (defined as including insurance) and the vivid and productive debate that it has generated so far; also welcomes the public consultation on the Green Paper, which has given those involved the chance to put forward their opinions on the basis of their specific situations and/or sectors; underlines that a single approach on retail financial services would be counter-productive, given the diversity of the actors and products concerned;

2.  Takes the view that digitalisation will continue to create new opportunities for consumers, investors, SMEs and other companies in terms of competition, cross-border activities and innovation; stresses that digitalisation alone is not sufficient to create a viable European retail financial services market; notes that the many obstacles, such as the various tax, social, judicial, health, contract and consumer protection regimes, as well as the different languages and cultures, cannot be overcome solely by means of digitalisation;

3.  Finds the Green Paper initiative to be timely, given the need to work proactively at all stages of the policymaking process in order to respond efficiently and adequately to developments in such an innovative and fast-changing market;

4.  Considers simplification of legislation, which is facilitated by discouraging overly complex products and services, to be crucial in efforts to make products more easily comparable across the Member States’ markets, particularly in the insurance sector;

5.  Points out that a wide range of EU laws relevant to the single market in retail financial services has already been adopted, such as PSD2, the MIFs regulation, PAD, AMLD, the Mortgage Credit directive and IDD; calls on the Commission to monitor closely the transposition and implementation of this legislation, avoiding duplication and overlaps;

6.  Underlines the importance of promoting positive developments in retail finance markets by creating a competitive environment and maintaining a level playing field for all stakeholders, including incumbent operators and new entrants, with rules as technology- and business‑model‑neutral as possible; points out, that such an approach is necessary, not least in order to support growth of start-ups and new and innovative SMEs;

7.  Asks the Commission to ensure that the same rules apply to any given service in order to avoid creating distortions of competition, particularly with the emergence of new providers of retail financial services; stresses that these rules must not act as a brake on innovation; highlights that the creation of ‘contact points’ which allow stakeholders to report unlawful application of the EU passporting provisions could foster market integration;

8.  Notes that for the first quarter of 2016 the fintech funding in Europe accounted for only USD 348 million, as compared to USD 1,8 billion in North America and USD 2,6 billion in China, which demonstrates the urgent need for a quick mentality shift and an adequate regulatory response to technological developments in order for Europe to become a lead market for innovation; stresses that a genuine single market for retail financial services where a level playing field for new market entrants is ensured will make the EU attractive as a hub for innovative financial services and will provide consumers with more and better choice, at lower rates; emphasises that although disruptive technologies present regulatory challenges, they also offer great opportunities for innovation that benefits end-users and a stimulus for economic growth and jobs;

9.  Emphasises, in particular in order to boost consumer trust and satisfaction, that the Green Paper initiative can succeed only if it has a strong focus on creating an EU market in which well-protected consumers have equal opportunities and access to transparent, straightforward and good-value-for-money products; acknowledges the positive value of providing customers with simple, safe and standardised products; calls on the European Supervisory Authorities to regularly assess the impact of tying practices on prices and competition in retail financial services; calls on the Commission to introduce a simple, portable and safe financial products framework; calls on the Commission, furthermore, to look into the possibility of creating a harmonised legal framework for standardised default options for the most commonly used EU financial products along the lines of the Basic Bank Account and PEPP model;

10.  Emphasises that the proposals which emerge from the Green Paper must be consistent with the proportionality principle;

11.  Recalls that all initiatives based on the Green Paper should be compatible with stepping up the international fight against tax fraud, tax avoidance and evasion and money laundering, including more efforts to elaborate a Common Tax Identification number;

12.  Notes the increasing complexity of retail financial products; insists on the need to develop initiatives and instruments that improve competition and allow consumers to identify and compare safe, sustainable and simple products within the range of products available to them; supports initiatives such as the Key Investment Information Document for undertakings for collective investments in transferable securities (UCITS) and the Key Information Document for packaged retail and insurance-based investment products (PRIIPs); stresses the need to adapt these information mechanisms to the digital reality; believes that the summary of prospectus should be aligned with the Key Information Document for packaged retail and insurance-based investment products (PRIIPs) in order to allow retail investors to properly assess the risks associated with securities offered to the public or admitted to trading;

13.  Recalls the recent developments in the legislative framework for the banking sector, in particular the Bank Recovery and Resolution Directive and the Deposit Guarantee Schemes Directive; recalls that the newly introduced resolution regime has resulted in some instruments offered to retail investors involving a higher risk of loss; insists on the need to inform consumers fully about the impact of the new rules, particularly if their deposits or investments are at risk from bail-in; asks the Commission to check whether the Member States are applying the directive on deposit-guarantee schemes correctly; points out that the sale of certain bail-in-able instruments to retail investors is highly problematic in terms of both adequate consumer protection and ensuring the practical feasibility of a bail-in, and calls on the Commission to explore the options for restricting such practice;

14.  Notes that a European retail financial services market will only be feasible if consumers benefit from the same legal protection throughout the EU; highlights the need to update and promote the ‘FIN-NET’ financial dispute resolution network;

15.  Notes that the lack of an Insurance Guarantee Scheme in some Member States has the potential to undermine consumer confidence, and calls on the Commission to consider legislation to mandate Insurance Guarantee Scheme Coverage;

16.  Stresses that the financial inclusion perspective should always be kept in mind, and that measures should be taken to ensure that all consumers have equal access to at least the most essential financial services also through non-digital channels to avoid financial exclusion;

17.  Considers that structural changes under way in the financial sector – from the emergence of financial technology companies (fintechs) to mergers and takeovers – which could result in staff cuts and branch closures must be effected without any reduction in the quality of services to the most vulnerable, particularly elderly people and people living in rural or sparsely populated areas;

18.  Stresses the importance of financial education as a tool to protect and empower consumers; calls for access to independent financial education to be widened and facilitated and stresses the need to raise consumers’ awareness of investment options;

19.  Observes that digitalisation can bring benefits for retail investors, such as easier comparability of products, better and easier access to cross-border investment and the ensuing fairer competition between providers, as well as faster and easier registration and payment processes and resulting lower transaction costs, but can also pose challenges that cannot be ignored, such as ensuring compliance with know-your-customer (KYC), anti-money laundering (AMLD) and data protection requirements, as well as risks such as vulnerability of centralised systems to cyber-attacks; calls for emerging and current trends on financial markets and the resulting benefits and risks to be identified and monitored, using as a benchmark their likely impact on retail investors;

20.  Notes that consumers’ financial and non-financial data collected from different sources are being increasingly used by financial service providers for various purposes, in particular in the credit and insurance sectors; stresses that the use of personal data and big data by financial service providers should comply with the EU data protection legislation, be strictly limited to what is necessary to provide the service and bring benefits to consumers; against this background, the demutualisation of risk in insurance triggered by big data should be under close scrutiny;

21.  Stresses that access to cash via ATMs is an essential public service that must be provided without any discriminatory or unfair practices and that it must not, therefore, incur excessive costs;

22.  Underlines that greater consumer trust in financial services is necessary, since it remains low, especially with regard to financial products with high currency exchange risks, and calls on the Commission to ensure that existing measures aimed at improved financial literacy and awareness are fully implemented and that further measures are introduced where necessary in order to empower consumers to make informed decisions, to increase the transparency of these products, and to remove consumer barriers to switching and any unjustified costs relating thereto, or to the withdrawal from a product; underlines that the European Standardised Information Sheet (ESIS) and Standard European Consumer Credit Information forms should be given systematically to consumers in advance of an agreement as part of a credit, loan or mortgage estimate;

23.  Notes that frontline employees at financial institutions and financial service providers have a crucial role to play in opening up retail services to all strands of society and to consumers in the EU; points out that such employees should, in principle, be given the training and time necessary to be able to serve their customers accurately, and should not be made subject to sales targets or inducements that could bias or distort their advice, and should act at all times in the interests of customers in accordance with MiFID II consumer protection provisions;

24.  Highlights the fact that access to affordable and independent advice is key to sound investment decisions; emphasises that an improvement in advice requires, in particular, a broader offer of standardised retail investment products and effective investor information documents for complex and simple products;

25.  Observes that a supply of affordable, targeted financial advice, which would be narrower in scope than proper MiFID-regulated investment advice, is currently lacking, in spite of the existing demand; takes note of the reflections conducted and initiatives taken in some Member States on the creation of such an intermediate service; calls on the Commission, the Member States and market actors to identify, study and follow good practices and initiatives in this regard;

26.  Points out the shortcomings in the national implementation of the MiFID II directive, which has led in many cases to labour-intensive reporting requirements for intermediaries, which do not effectively enhance consumer protection and go beyond MiFID II itself; calls for lessons to be learned from this experience;

27.  Underlines that retail banking plays a decisive role in the proper transmission of monetary policy conditions to the market, particularly to consumers; highlights the importance of an appropriate monetary policy environment with a view to promoting consumers’ long-term savings;

28.  Emphasises that, in order for the single market in retail financial services to be efficient and dynamic, there should be no unnecessary or unfair differences between euro and non-euro Member States;

29.  Believes that the adoption of the single currency by all Member States without exception would make the single market for retail financial services more efficient and coherent;

30.  Observes that the EU-level capacity for data collection and analysis in this field will probably need to be strengthened; notes that it will be necessary to give some of the most promising ideas in the Green Paper a broad and adequate empirical underpinning before it is possible to move on to legislative processes; stresses that the methodologies and assumptions of such empirical work should be appropriately disclosed and should make full use of the output of the ESA’s monitoring work mandated in the EBA regulation in order to identify the benefits and risks of different innovations and any legislative action required to strike the right balance between them;

31.  Calls on the Commission to address the issue of mis-selling of financial products and services; in particular, calls on the Commission to monitor closely the implementation of new rules under MiFID II, which ban commission for independent financial advisers and restrict its use for non-independent advisers, and on the basis of that monitoring to consider whether those restrictions should be tightened;

Short-term priorities

32.  Emphasises that the enforcement of EU and national financial and consumer legislation needs to be strengthened and that a single market in retail financial services needs high levels of consumer protection legislation and consistent and rigorous enforcement thereof across the Member States; notes, at the same time, that the volume of legislation on retail financial services has increased in recent years with the aims of improving prudential stability, strengthening consumer protection and restoring confidence in the sector; stresses that the European Supervisory Authorities should step up their activities on consumer and retail investor issues and that the agencies responsible in a number of Member States should start to work more actively and competently in this field; calls on Member State supervisory authorities to conduct exchanges of good practice in order to ensure that retail financial services legislation is applied in a way that safeguards fair competition while enforcing consumer protection legislation;

33.  Calls on the Commission, in the procedure linked to the planned White Paper on the ESAs’ funding and governance, to have a particular focus on ensuring that the authorities get the funding models and mandates needed to take a more active and consumer-oriented role in the retail financial services market while ensuring financial stability;

34.  Welcomes the Commission’s engagement in the area of encouraging finance for sustainable and green investments, and urges the Commission, building on past consultations and closely involving the European Parliament, to play a more proactive role in using the Capital Markets Union, as part of the implementation of the Paris agreement, to support the growing Sustainable and Responsible Investment (SRI) market by promoting sustainable investments, through the provision of effective and standardised Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) information using listed companies and financial intermediaries criteria, and the adequate reflection of such criteria in investment management systems and disclosure standards, building on similar provisions successfully promoted by Parliament in the recent revision of the IORPD; further urges the Commission to promote ESG ‘rating services’ and a consistent framework for the green bonds market, building on a Commission study and the work of the G20 study group on green finance;

35.  Calls on the Commission to intensify its work against discrimination on grounds of residence in the European market on retail financial services and, if necessary, to complement the planned general proposals to end unjustified geo-blocking with further legislative initiatives targeted specifically at the financial sector, bearing in mind that the price of some products and some services is linked to a range of factors (regulatory or geographic) that differ from one Member State to another;

36.  Urges the Commission, inter alia on the basis of the structure of the Payment Accounts Directive (PAD) and the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority’s analysis of the insurance sector, to set up a well-organised and easy-to-use EU comparison portal covering most or all parts of the retail financial services market; emphasises that comparison tools must be accurate and of relevance to consumers and must focus not only on the prices of products but also on their quality, bearing in mind that only similar products can be compared;

37.  Calls on the Commission, inter alia with reference to the PAD, to map the rules, practices and non-practices that apply to domestic and cross-border switching in relevant parts of the European retail financial services market and to present a coherent and comprehensive strategy for making EU-wide cross-border switching easier for the consumer;

38.  Urges the Commission and the Member States to strengthen the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) structures linked to the retail financial services market by making sure that ADR bodies are truly independent, by making certain that these bodies cover all actors in the market and by taking measures to ensure that FIN-NET is made more efficient and well-known to consumers; also urges the Commission, following the planned evaluation of the implementation of the recommendation on collective redress, to look into the possibility of introducing a European system of collective redress;

39.  Asks the Commission to investigate further the confusing and sometimes misleading practices with which consumers are faced when making card payments and ATM withdrawals involving currency conversion, and to present a coherent solution that would make it possible, including in practice, for the consumer to understand and control the situation fully, including for payments relating to the digital market;

40.  Reminds the Commission that financial institutions continue to cancel payment cards if the holder moves to another Member State, and calls for action to be taken in this respect, including alerting national authorities;

41.  Calls on the Commission to promote the mutual recognition and interoperability of digital identification techniques, without affecting the level of security of existing systems or their ability to fulfil the requirements of the EU anti-money laundering framework; therefore urges the Commission and the Member States, by working carefully on the implementation of the eIDAS Regulation and the new anti-money laundering legislation, inter alia, to create – as should be entirely feasible – a general environment in which robust security requirements are combined with fair and simple procedures for consumers to identify themselves, in accordance with the principles of personal data protection; also asks the Commission and the Member States to identify and remove regulatory barriers to the use of electronic signature systems for subscribing to financial services, and to facilitate EU wide cross-border digital onboarding;

42.  Points out that the potentially transformative impact of distributed ledger technology necessitates the build-up of regulatory capacity so as to identify at an early stage potential systemic risks and challenges to consumer protection; calls on the Commission, therefore, to create a horizontal task force to monitor risks closely and to help address them in a timely manner;

43.  Calls on the Commission, in close cooperation with the Member States, to draw up a plan for establishing a coordinated network of national ‘one-stop shops’ in accordance with the Points of Single Contact, that would assist retail financial firms wishing to make better use of cross-border business opportunities;

44.  Stresses the need to encourage retail financial service providers to finance projects associated with innovation and the environment; points out that an approach similar to that of the SME-supporting factor could be considered;

45.  Calls on the Commission to follow up on the EIOPA’s proposal for a Common Framework for Risk Assessment and Transparency for IORPs, in order to promote a sound pillar 2 system across the Union and comparability of schemes, and to contribute to a better understanding of the benefits and risks to consumers by regulators, supervisors and consumers themselves;

46.  Calls on the Commission to examine new approaches with the potential to give companies greater regulatory flexibility to experiment and be able to innovate, while maintaining high levels of consumer protection and safety;

47.  Asks the Commission to put forward a proposal on the creation of an ‘EU savings account’ in order to unlock long-term financing and support ecological transition in Europe;

48.  Urges the Commission to clarify the use of the general good provisions, which currently could be vicariously used by Member States to block new products from entering their markets, and to empower the ESAs to become an active mediator between Member States when there are conflicting interpretations as to its use;

Long-term considerations

49.  Asks the Commission to study further the feasibility, relevance, benefits and costs of removing existing barriers to the cross-border provision of financial services, thus guaranteeing domestic and cross-border portability in various parts of the retail financial services market, for example as regards personal pension and insurance products;

50.  Emphasises that the Mortgage Credit Directive is currently being transposed, or is in the process of implementation, in the Member States; encourages the Commission to monitor its transposition and implementation attentively and to analyse the impact of this legislation on the retail financial services market; notes that there are still significant barriers to the creation of a stronger single market for mortgages and consumer credit; therefore encourages the Commission to move forward while ensuring financial stability, balancing privacy and data protection concerns with improved cross-border access to better-coordinated credit databases and making sure that credit-related incidents whereby consumers have been unreasonably exposed to currency exchange risks are not repeated;

51.  Asks the Commission to conduct, with the Member States, a joint analysis of the implementation and impact of EU legislation on retail financial services; calls on the Commission and the Member States to examine in detail the legal barriers and other remaining obstacles to cross-border operations and to the completion of an EU retail financial services market; stresses that the specificities of SMEs must be taken into account in such an analysis;

52.  Calls on the Commission to analyse what data are necessary to enable lenders to assess the credit-worthiness of their customers and, on the basis of this analysis, to introduce proposals for regulating this assessment process; calls on the Commission to investigate further the current practices of credit bureaux in relation to the collection, processing and marketing of consumer data with a view to ensuring that they are adequate and not detrimental to consumers’ rights; calls on the Commission to consider taking action in this area if necessary;

53.  Asks the Member States to ensure that digital communications and sales related to retail financial services are available in forms accessible to people with disabilities, including via websites and downloadable file formats; supports the full inclusion of all retail financial services in the scope of the Directive on the accessibility requirements for products and services (the ‘European Accessibility Act’);

54.  Welcomes the work towards greater transparency in the pricing of rental car services, including the sale of ancillary insurances and other fees; stresses that all fees or charges, whether mandatory or optional, connected to the rental of a vehicle should be visible to the consumer on the rental company or comparison website in a clear and highlighted manner; reminds the Commission of the need to enforce the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive, and welcomes the recent adoption of new implementing guidelines in the light of technological change;

55.  Recalls the work done in relation to the Credit Rating Agencies Regulation; asks the Commission to review the impact of such legislation in terms of products sold to retail consumers;

o
o   o

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

(1) OJ L 133, 22.5.2008, p. 66.
(2) OJ L 266, 9.10.2009, p. 11.
(3) OJ L 60, 28.2.2014, p. 34.
(4) OJ L 173, 12.6.2014, p. 349.
(5) OJ L 257, 28.8.2014, p. 73.
(6) OJ L 257, 28.8.2014, p. 186.
(7) OJ L 257, 28.8.2014, p. 214.
(8) OJ L 352, 9.12.2014, p. 1.
(9) OJ L 123, 19.5.2015, p. 1.
(10) OJ L 337, 23.12.2015, p. 35.
(11) OJ L 26, 2.2.2016, p. 19.
(12) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0228.


European Defence Union
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European Parliament resolution of 22 November 2016 on the European Defence Union (2016/2052(INI))
P8_TA(2016)0435A8-0316/2016

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Treaty of Lisbon,

–  having regard to Title V of the Treaty on European Union (TEU),

–  having regard to Article 42(6) TEU on permanent structured cooperation,

–  having regard to Article 42(7) TEU on the defence alliance,

–  having regard to Protocol No 1 on the role of national parliaments in the European Union,

–  having regard to Protocol No 2 on the application of the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality,

–  having regard to the European Council conclusions of 18 December 2013 and 25‑26 June 2015,

–  having regard to the Council conclusions of 25 November 2013 and 18 November 2014 on the common security and defence policy,

–  having regard to its resolution of 13 April 2016 on the EU in a changing global environment – a more connected, contested and complex world(1),

–  having regard to its resolution of 22 November 2012 on the EU’s mutual defence and solidarity clauses: political and operational dimensions(2),

–  having regard to its resolution of 14 January 2009 on the situation of fundamental rights in the European Union 2004-2008(3), which stipulates in its paragraph 89 that ‘fundamental rights do not stop at barrack gates’ and that ‘they also fully apply to citizens in uniform’ and recommends that ‘the Member States ensure that fundamental rights are also observed in the armed forces’,

–  having regard to the final conclusions of the interparliamentary conferences on the common foreign and security policy (CFSP) and the common security and defence policy (CSDP) of the Hague of 8 April 2016, of Luxembourg of 6 September 2015, of Riga of 6 March 2015, of Rome of 7 November 2014, of Athens of 4 April 2014, of Vilnius of 6 September 2013, of Dublin of 25 March 2013 and of Paphos of 10 September 2012,

–  having regard to the recent statement made by the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (VP/HR) at the ‘Gymnich meeting’ of EU foreign ministers of 2 September 2016, which again referred to the ‘window of opportunity’ for solid progress to be made among Member States in the field of defence,

–  having regard to the document entitled ‘Shared Vision, Common Action: A Stronger Europe – A Global Strategy for the European Union’s Foreign and Security Policy’ presented by the VP/HR on 28 June 2016,

–  having regard to the progress report of 7 July 2014 by the VP/HR and the Head of the European Defence Agency on the implementation of the European Council conclusions of December 2013,

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 24 July 2013 entitled ‘Towards a more competitive and efficient defence and security sector’ (COM(2013)0542),

–  having regard to the Commission report of 24 June 2014 entitled ‘A new Deal for European Defence’,

–  having regard to the Commission’s report of 8 May 2015 on the implementation of its communication on defence,

–  having regard to the evaluations of Directive 2009/81/EC of 13 July 2009 on the coordination of procedures for the award of certain works contracts, supply contracts and service contracts by contracting authorities or entities in the fields of defence and security and of Directive 2009/43/EC on intra-EU transfers of defence-related products,

–  having regard to the joint declaration of 8 July 2016 by the presidents of the European Council and the Commission and the Secretary-General of NATO,

–  having regard to the joint communication of 11 December 2013 by the VP/HR and the Commission entitled ‘The EU’s comprehensive approach to external conflicts and crises’ (JOIN(2013)0030), and to the related Council conclusions of 12 May 2014,

–  having regard to the statement by the Italian Defence and Foreign Ministers of 10 August 2016 calling for a ‘Defence Schengen’,

–  having regard to the joint statement by the German and French Foreign Ministers of 28 June 2016 on ‘A strong Europe in an uncertain world’,

–  having regard to the potential secession of the UK from the EU,

–  having regard to the results of Eurobarometer 85.1 of June 2016,

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Foreign Affairs and the opinions of the Committee on Budgets, the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection and the Committee on Constitutional Affairs (A8-0316/2016),

A.  whereas in recent years the security situation in and around Europe has significantly worsened and has created arduous and unprecedented challenges that no single country or organisation is able to face alone; whereas Europe is experiencing the threat of terrorism in its territory more than ever, while terrorism and the scourge of constant violence in North Africa and the Middle East continue to expand; whereas solidarity and resilience require the EU to stand and to act together and systematically, and to do so in concert with our allies and partners and third countries; whereas prevention, the sharing of sensitive security information, ending armed conflict, overcoming widespread human rights abuses, the spread of democracy and the rule of law and the fight against terrorism are priorities for the EU and its citizens and should be the subject of engagement within as well as outside the EU’s borders, including through an corps of military engineers created to address some very practical challenges related to climate change effects and natural disasters in third countries; whereas Europe should be stronger and quicker in real threat situations;

B.  whereas terrorism, hybrid threats, economic volatility, cyber and energy insecurity, organised crime and climate change constitute the main security threats of an everyday more complex and interconnected world in which the EU should do its best and search for the means to guarantee security and deliver prosperity and democracy; whereas the current financial and security context requires European armed forces to collaborate closer and military personnel to train and work more and better together; whereas according to Eurobarometer 85.1 in June 2016, approximately two thirds of EU citizens would like to see greater EU engagement in matters of security and defence policy; whereas internal and external security are becoming increasingly blurred; whereas special attention should be paid to preventing conflict, addressing the root causes of instability and ensuring human security; whereas climate change is a major threat to global security, peace and stability that amplifies threats to traditional security, inter alia by diminishing access to fresh water and foodstuffs for populations in fragile and developing countries and thus leading to economic and social tensions, forcing people to migrate, or creating political tensions and security risks;

C.  whereas the VP/HR has included the security of the Union as one of the top five priorities in her ‘Global Strategy for the European Union’s Foreign and Security Policy’;

D.  whereas the Treaty of Lisbon requires the Member States to make available appropriate capacities for civilian and military CSDP missions and operations; whereas the security and defence-building capacity enshrined in the Treaties is far from optimal; whereas the European institutions may also have a very significant role to play in launching political initiatives; whereas Member States have so far shown a lack of will to build a European Security and Defence Union, fearing that it would become a threat to their national sovereignty;

E.  whereas the cost of non-Europe in defence and security is estimated at EUR 26,4 billion annually(4), as the result of duplication, overcapacity and barriers to defence procurement;

F.  whereas Article 42 TEU requires the progressive framing of a common Union defence policy as part of the CSDP, which will lead to an EU common defence when the European Council so decides voting unanimously; whereas Article 42(2) TEU also recommends to the Member States the adoption of such a decision in accordance with their respective constitutional requirements;

G.  whereas Article 42 TEU also provides for the creation of defence institutions, as well as for the definition of a European capabilities and armaments policy; whereas that article also requires that the EU’s efforts should be NATO-compatible, complementary and mutually reinforcing; whereas a common Union defence policy should reinforce Europe’s capacity to promote security within and beyond its borders, as well as strengthening the partnership with NATO and transatlantic relations, and will therefore enable a stronger NATO, consequently further promoting a more effective territorial, regional and global security and defence; whereas the recent joint declaration by the NATO Warsaw summit of 2016 on the NATO-EU strategic partnership recognised the role of NATO and the support the EU can give in achieving common goals; whereas a European Defence Union (EDU) should ensure the maintenance of peace, conflict prevention and a strengthening of international security, in accordance with the principles of the UN Charter;

H.  whereas the EU battlegroups, which reached full operational capability in 2007 and are designed to be used for military tasks of a humanitarian, peacekeeping and peacemaking nature, have not yet been used, despite the opportunity and need arising, owing to procedural, financial and political obstacles; highlights that this represents a missed opportunity in terms of strengthening the EU’s role as an important global player for stability and peace;

I.  whereas except for the creation of the European Defence Agency (EDA), none of the other missing elements of the EU common security and defence policy have so far been conceived, decided or implemented; whereas the EDA still needs an overhaul of its organisation to allow it to develop its full potential and prove that it generates added value, makes the CSDP more effective and can lead to harmonised national defence planning processes in those fields which are relevant for CSDP military operations in line with the Petersberg tasks as described in Article 43 TEU; encourages all Member States to participate in and commit to the EDA in order to realise this goal;

J.  whereas the EU Global Strategy on Foreign and Security Policy requires that the EU systematically encourage defence cooperation over the full spectrum of capabilities, in order to respond to external crises, help build our partners’ capacities, guarantee Europe’s safety, and create a solid European defence industry as being critical for the Union’s strategic autonomy of decision and action; whereas any measures must be agreed upon by all members of the Council before implementation;

K.  whereas the European Council of June 2015, which partially focused on defence, called for fostering greater and more systematic European defence cooperation with a view to delivering key capabilities, including through the use of EU funds where appropriate, noting that military capabilities remain owned and operated by the Member States;

L.  whereas France invoked Article 42(7) TEU on 17 November 2015 and subsequently requested and managed the other Member States’ aid and assistance contributions on a purely bilateral basis;

M.  whereas the EU-level White Book on security and defence should further strengthen the CSDP and enhance the EU’s ability to act as a security provider in accordance with the Lisbon Treaty, and could represent a useful reflection on a future and more effective CSDP; whereas CSDP missions and operations are mostly located in regions such as the Horn of Africa and the Sahel which are heavily affected by negative consequences of climate change, such as drought and land degradation;

N.  whereas the Dutch Council Presidency promoted the idea of an EU White Book; whereas the Visegrád countries have welcomed the idea of a stronger European defence integration; and whereas Germany called for a European Security and Defence Union in White Paper of 2016 on ‘German Security Policy and the Future of the Bundeswehr’;

O.  whereas gradual defence integration is our best option for doing more with less money, and the White Book could offer a unique opportunity to propose additional steps;

European Defence Union

1.  Recalls that to ensure its long-term security, Europe needs political will and determination underpinned by a broad set of relevant policy instruments, including strong and modern military capabilities; encourages the European Council to lead the progressive framing of a common Union defence policy and to provide additional financial resources to ensure its implementation, with a view to its establishment under the next multiannual political and financial framework of the EU (MFF); recalls that the creation of the common Union defence policy is a development and implementation of the Common Security and Defence Policy under the Lisbon Treaty, which is bound by international law and is actually indispensable to enable the EU to promote the rule of law, peace and security globally; welcomes in this regard all ongoing activities of Member states aimed at further integrating our common defence efforts, also taking into account the very important contributions which the White Book on Security and Defence would make;

2.  Urges the EU Member States to unleash the full potential of the Lisbon Treaty with regard to the CSDP in particular, with special reference to the permanent structured cooperation of Article 42(6) TEU or the start-up fund of Article 41(3) TEU; recalls that the Petersberg tasks of Article 43 TEU consist of a long list of ambitious military tasks such as joint disarmament operations, humanitarian and rescue tasks, military advice and assistance tasks, conflict prevention and peacekeeping tasks, and tasks of combat forces in crisis management, including peacemaking and post-conflict stabilisation; recalls that the same article also states that all these tasks may contribute to the fight against terrorism, including by supporting third countries in combating terrorism in their territories; stresses that the current state of the CSDP does not allow the EU to fulfil all the tasks listed; believes that the order of the day should be to systematically work on ways to allow the EU to fulfil the objectives of the Lisbon Treaty;

3.  Is of the opinion that a truly strong EDU has to offer guarantees and capabilities to Member States beyond their individual ones;

4.  Believes that the way to a EDU needs to start from a thoroughly revised CSDP, based on a strong defence principle, efficient financing and coordination with NATO; considers that, as a necessary step, with the increasing integration of internal and external security, the CSDP needs to move beyond external crisis management so as to truly ensure the common security and defence and allow the Union’s engagement at all stages of crises and conflicts, by using the full spectrum of instruments at its disposal;

5.  Highlights the need for the establishment of a Council format of Defence Ministers to provide sustained political leadership and coordinate the framing of a European Defence Union; calls on the Council of the European Union to establish, as a first step, a permanent meeting format bringing together defence ministers of Member States which are committed to deeper defence cooperation as a forum for consultation and decision-making;

6.  Calls on the President of the Commission to establish a standing ‘defence matters’ working group of members of the Commission, to be chaired by the VP/HR; calls for Parliament to be associated with permanent representatives in this group; supports further involvement of the Commission in defence, through well-focused research, planning and implementation; calls on the VP/HR to mainstream climate change into all EU external action and in particular into the CSDP;

7.  Considers that the worsening perception of risks and threats in Europe make the establishment of the European Defence Union a matter of urgency, particularly given the increasing deterioration in the security environment at the EU’s borders, especially in its eastern and southern neighbourhoods; notes that this is also reflected in the security strategies of the Member States; stresses that the situation deteriorated notably and progressively in 2014, with the birth and expansion of the self-declared Islamic State and subsequently the use of force by Russia;

8.  Is of the opinion that the EDU needs to be based on a periodic joint security threat assessment of the Member States, but must also be flexible enough to satisfy Member States’ individual security challenges and needs;

9.  Takes the view that the Union should dedicate own means to fostering greater and more systematic European defence cooperation among its Member States, including permanent structured cooperation (PESCO); is convinced that the use of EU funds would be a clear expression of cohesion and solidarity, and that this would allow all Member States to improve their military capabilities in a more common effort;

10.  Believes that a strengthened European defence cooperation would lead to greater effectiveness, unity, and efficiency, as well as boosting EU assets and capabilities and having positive potential effects on defence research and industrial matters; highlights that only through such deeper cooperation, which should gradually develop into a real EDU, will the EU and its Member States be able to acquire the technological and industrial capabilities needed to enable them to act more rapidly as well as autonomously and effectively, addressing today’s threats in a responsive and efficient manner;

11.  Encourages all Member States to make more binding commitments to one another by establishing permanent structured cooperation within the Union framework; encourages Member States to establish multinational forces within the PESCO framework, and make those forces available to the CSDP; underlines the importance and necessity of all Member States’ implication in a permanent and efficient structured cooperation; believes that the Council should normally entrust the implementation of the task of peacekeeping, conflict prevention and strengthening international security to those multinational forces; suggests that both the policymaking processes at EU level and the national processes should be designed to allow a rapid crisis response; is convinced that the EU battlegroup system should be renamed and used and further developed to that end, politically, in modularity and with effective funding; encourages the set-up of an EU Operational Headquarters as a precondition for effective planning, command and control of common operations; underlines that PESCO is open to all Member States;

12.  Calls on the Member States to particularly recognise the right of military personnel to form and join professional associations or trade unions and involve them in a regular social dialogue with the authorities; invites the European Council to take concrete steps towards the harmonisation and standardisation of the European armed forces, in order to facilitate the cooperation of armed forces personnel under the umbrella of a new European Defence Union;

13.  Notes that all Member States have difficulties in maintaining a very broad range of defensive capabilities, mostly because of financial constraints; calls, therefore, for more coordination and clearer choices about which capabilities to maintain, so that Member States can specialise in certain capabilities;

14.  Encourages Member States to look for further avenues for joint purchase, maintenance and upkeep of forces and material; suggests that it may be useful to look first at the pooling and sharing of non-lethal material, such as transport vehicles and aircraft, refuelling vehicles and aircraft, and other support material;

15.  Believes that interoperability is key if Member States’ forces are to be more compatible and integrated; stresses, therefore, that Member States must explore the possibility of joint procurement of defence resources; notes that the protectionist and closed nature of EU defence markets makes this more difficult;

16.  Stresses that a revision and broadening of the Athena mechanism is needed to make sure that EU missions can be funded from collective funds instead of most of the costs falling to the individual participating Member States, thereby removing a potential hurdle for Member States to commit forces;

17.  Calls on the European Parliament to establish a full-fledged Committee on Security and Defence to monitor the implementation of permanent structured cooperation;

18.  Believes that a strong and increasing role for the EDA is indispensable for an efficient EDU in terms of coordinating capability-driven programmes and projects and establishing a common European capabilities and armaments policy, in pursuit of greater efficiency, elimination of duplication and reduction of costs and on the basis of a catalogue of very precise capability requirements for CSDP operations and harmonised national defence planning and procurement processes with regard to those specific capabilities; believes this should follow a defence review of Member States’ sets of forces and a review of past EDA activities and procedures; calls on the EDA to demonstrate which capability gaps that were identified in the headline goals and capability development plan were filled within the framework of the Agency; is convinced that pooling and sharing initiatives and projects are excellent first steps towards enhanced European cooperation;

19.  Encourages the Commission to work in liaison with the EDA to strengthen the industrial and technological base of the defence sector, which is vital for European strategic autonomy; believes that the key to sustaining the industry is an increase in defence spending by Member States, as well as ensuring that the industry remains globally competitive; notes that the current fragmentation of the market represents a weakness for the competitiveness of the European defence industry; believes that collaborative research can help reduce such fragmentation and improve competitiveness;

20.  Strongly believes that only a joined-up approach to capability development, including through the consolidation of functional clusters such as European Air Transport Command, can generate the economies of scale that are needed to underpin a European Defence Union; further believes that strengthening the EU’s capabilities through joint procurement and other forms of pooling and sharing could provide a much-needed boost to Europe’s defence industry, SMEs included; supports targeted measures to incentivise such projects, in order to reach the EDA benchmark of 35 % of total spending in collaborative procurement, as called for by the EU Global Strategy; believes that the introduction of a European Defence Semester, whereby Member States would consult each other’s planning cycles and procurement plans, could help overcome the current state of defence market fragmentation;

21.  Stresses that cybersecurity is by its very nature a policy area in which cooperation and integration are crucial, not only between EU Member States, key partners and NATO, but also between different actors within society, since it is not only a military responsibility; calls for clearer guidelines on how EU defensive and offensive capabilities are to be used and in what context; recalls that Parliament has repeatedly called for a thorough revision of the EU dual-use export regulation in order to avoid software and other systems which can be used against EU digital infrastructure or to violate human rights falling into the wrong hands;

22.  Points to the recent publication by the High Representative of the Global Strategy, which constitutes a cohesive framework for priorities for action in the field of foreign policy and for defining future developments in European defence policy;

23.  Recalls the four collective investment benchmarks approved by the EDA Ministerial Steering Board in November 2007, and is concerned at the low level of collaboration, as demonstrated in the Defence Data Report published in 2013;

24.  Calls on the VP/HR to take an initiative to bring together major companies and stakeholders of the European defence industry with the aim of developing a European drone industry;

25.  Calls on the VP/HR to take an initiative to bring together major companies and stakeholders of the European defence industry to develop strategies and a platform for the joint development of defence equipment;

26.  Calls on the VP/HR to enhance cooperation between national cybersecurity strategies, capabilities and command centres and the EDA, as part of permanent structured cooperation to help protect against and counter cyberattacks;

27.  Calls for the further development of the EU Cyber Defence Policy Framework in order to boost Member States’ cyberdefence capabilities, operational cooperation and information sharing;

28.  Notes the ongoing work on setting up a preparatory action for a future EU defence research programme, and urges its effective launch as soon as possible, as requested by the European Council in 2013 and 2015 and following a pilot project initiated by the EP; stresses that the Preparatory Action should be provided with a sufficient budget, of at least EUR 90 million for the next three years (2017-2020); takes the view that the preparatory action should be followed by a major dedicated EU-funded research programme as part of the next MFF starting in 2021; notes that the European Defence Research Programme will need a total budget of at least EUR 500 million per year over that period in order to be credible and make a substantial difference; calls on the Member States to outline future cooperative programmes in which EU-funded defence research can build a starting point, and calls for the establishment of the start-up fund for preparatory activities in the lead-up to military operations, as provided for in the Lisbon Treaty; notes the Commission’s defence-related initiatives such as the Defence Action Plan, the Defence Industrial Policy and the European Defence Technological and Industrial Base;

29.  Stresses that the launching of CSDP missions, such as EUNAVFOR MED, contributes to the achievement of a European Defence Union; calls on the EU to continue and step up missions of this kind;

30.  Considers it important to use the European Semester procedure to introduce forms of closer cooperation in the field of security and defence;

31.  Stresses the importance of putting in place the necessary measures that encourage a functioning, fair, accessible and transparent European defence market that is open to others, promote future technological innovation, support SMEs and stimulate growth and jobs, in order to enable Member States to achieve a much more efficient and effective use and maximisation of their respective defence and security budgets; notes that a solid European defence, technological and industrial base needs a fair, functioning and transparent internal market, security of supply and a structured dialogue with defence-relevant industries; is concerned that progress towards improved competitiveness, anti-corruption measures and greater transparency in the defence sector has been slow so far, and that a sound European defence industrial policy and respect for internal market rules are still lacking; is of the opinion that an integrated and competitive European defence arms market needs to provide incentives and rewards to all Member States and supply all buyers with adequate and affordable means responding to their individual security needs; stresses the need to ensure that the Defence Procurement Directive and the Intra-Community Transfers Directive are correctly applied across the EU; urges the Commission and the Member States to guarantee the full implementation of the two defence-related directives of the so-called ‘Defence Package’;

32.  Calls on the Commission to play its role through the Defence Action Plan, to support a strong industrial base that is able to deliver on the strategic capability needs of Europe, and to identify where the EU could provide added value;

33.  Is convinced that in progressively framing the common Union defence policy, the EU should make provision, in agreement with the Member States concerned, for participation in capability programmes they undertake, including participation in the structures created for the execution of those programmes within the Union framework;

34.  Encourages the Commission, working in liaison with the EDA, to act as a facilitator and enabler for defence cooperation via the mobilisation of EU funds and instruments aimed at the development of defence capabilities programmes by Member States; recalls that the European Defence Action Plan should be a strategic tool to foster cooperation in defence at European level, in particular through an EU-funded Defence Research Programme and through measures strengthening industrial cooperation across the entire value chain;

35.  Warmly welcomes the strategic autonomy concept developed by the VP/HR as part of the EU global strategy; believes that this concept should be applied both in our strategic priorities and in strengthening our capacities and our industry;

36.  Welcomes the joint declaration by the presidents of the European Council and the Commission and the NATO Secretary-General of 8 July 2016, which emphasises the need for cooperation between the EU and NATO in the area of security and defence; is convinced that EU-NATO cooperation should involve cooperating in the east and the south, countering hybrid and cyber threats and improving maritime security, as well as harmonising and coordinating the development of defence capabilities; considers that cooperation on technological, industrial and military capabilities offers the prospect of improving compatibility and synergy between both frameworks, thus ensuring greater efficiency of resources; recalls that speedy implementation of the above declaration is essential, and calls in this respect on the EEAS, together with relevant counterparts, to develop concrete options for implementation by December 2016; considers that the Member States should develop capabilities that can be deployable under the CSDP in order to make possible autonomous action in cases where NATO is not willing to act or where an EU action is more appropriate; is convinced that this would also strengthen NATO’s role in security and defence policy, and in collective defence; underlines that cooperation between EU and NATO for facilitating a stronger and efficient defence industry and defence research represents a strategic priority and its speedy implementation is crucial; is convinced that working together on prevention, analysis and early detection by means of efficient information and intelligence sharing will increase the EU’s capacity to counter threats, including hybrid threats; remains convinced that NATO is the primary provider of security and defence in Europe; emphasises the need to avoid overlaps between NATO and EU instruments; believes that the EU has potential also in civil aspects to make a key difference in unstable regions; insists, however, that while NATO’s role is to protect its mainly European members from any external attack, the EU should aspire to be truly able to defend itself and act autonomously if necessary, taking greater responsibility in this by improving equipment, training and organisation;

37.  Notes that while NATO must remain the foundation of collective defence in Europe, the political priorities of NATO and the EU may not always be identical, not least in the context of the US pivot to Asia; further notes that the EU possess a unique set of security-related instruments which are not available to NATO, and vice versa; is of the opinion that the EU should assume greater responsibility for security crises in its immediate neighbourhood, and thus contribute to NATO’s tasks, especially in the context of hybrid warfare and maritime security; believes that, in the long run, reform of the Berlin Plus arrangements may prove necessary, also to enable NATO to make use of the EU’s capabilities and instruments; underlines that the EU’s ambition of strategic autonomy and framing a European Defence Union must be realised in full synergy with NATO, and must lead to more effective cooperation, equitable burden-sharing and a productive division of labour between NATO and the EU;

38.  Is convinced that EU-NATO cooperation should involve building resilience together in the east and the south as well as defence investment; considers that cooperation on capabilities offers the prospect of improving compatibility and synergy between both frameworks; is convinced that this would also strengthen NATO’s role in security and defence policy, and in collective defence;

39.  Is deeply concerned over reports that administrative procedures are unnecessarily slowing down the generation of forces for CSDP missions and the cross-border movement of rapid response forces inside the EU; calls on the Member States to establish an EU-wide system for the coordination of rapid movement of defence forces personnel, equipment and supplies for the purposes of the CSDP, where the solidarity clause is invoked and where there is an obligation to provide aid and assistance by all the means in their power, in accordance with Article 51 of the UN Charter;

40.  Calls for the establishment of practical arrangements and guidelines for future activation of Article 42(7) TEU; calls on the Member States to make the necessary arrangements for the implementation of that article, in order to allow individual Member States to effectively manage other Member States’ aid and assistance contributions, or to have them effectively managed within the Union framework; calls on the Member States to aim for the target of 2 % of GDP for defence spending, and to spend 20 % of their defence budgets on equipment identified as necessary through the EDA, including related research and development, thus closing the gap with EDA’s four collective investment benchmarks;

41.  Is of the opinion that the challenges which financial constraints represent to national budgets are at the same time accompanied by opportunities for progress arising from the evident need for closer cooperation between Member States in defence matters; welcomes the decision by some Member States to stop or reverse the trend to cut defence spending;

42.  Believes that Parliament should play a prominent role in the future European Defence Union, and considers, therefore, that the Subcommittee on Security and Defence should become a fully-fledged parliamentary committee;

43.  Calls on the VP/HR to launch an EU security and defence White Book which will be based on the EU’s global strategy as endorsed by the European Council; asks the Council to assign the task of drafting this document without delay; regrets the suggestion of the VP/HR to the EU defence ministers that there should be only an implementation plan on security and defence instead of a comprehensive White Book process; takes the view that such an implementation plan should be a precursor to a regular security and defence White Book process, which should provide a useful basis for quantifying possible Union contributions in security and defence policy for each legislative term in a specific and realistic manner;

44.  Is convinced that the EU security and defence White Book should be the result of coherent intergovernmental and interparliamentary processes and contributions from the various EU institutions, which should be underpinned by international coordination with our partners and allies, including NATO, and by comprehensive interinstitutional support; calls on the VP/HR to revise its initial timetable in order to start a targeted consultation with Member States and parliaments;

45.  Considers that, on the basis of the EU global strategy, the White Book should encompass the EU’s security and defence strategy, the capabilities deemed necessary for the deployment of that strategy, and the measures and programmes at both Member State and EU level for delivering those capabilities, which should be based on a collaborative European capabilities and armaments policy while taking into account that defence and security remain a national competency;

46.  Takes the view that the White Book should take the form of an interinstitutional agreement of a binding nature which would set out all Union initiatives, investments, measures and programmes across the respective multiannual political and financial framework in the EU; is convinced that Member States, partners and allies should take that interinstitutional agreement into account in their own security and defence planning, with a view to ensuring mutual consistency and complementarity;

Launch initiatives

47.  Considers that the following initiatives should be launched immediately:

   the preparatory action on CSDP research starting in 2017, which will be continued until 2019;
   a subsequent more ambitious and strategic defence research programme, bridging the gap to the next MFF, if the necessary additional financial resources are provided by the Member States or through cofinancing from Member States under Article 185 TFEU;
   a European defence semester to assess the progress made in the Member States’ defence-related budgetary efforts;
   a strategy outlining the steps to take to realise the establishment and implementation of the European Defence Union;
   consideration of the creation of a permanent Council of defence ministers;
   support for the initiative by NATO which will place multinational battalions in Member States when and where necessary, in particular for the necessary infrastructure development (including housing);
   development of the regular White Book process, for a first application in the framework of the planning of the next MFF;
   a stakeholder conference on the subjects of development of a European armaments and capability policy and harmonisation of the respective national policies on the basis of an EU defence review;
   resolution of the legal issues preventing the implementation of the joint communication on capacity-building to promote security and development in third countries;
   reform of the EU battlegroups concept, aiming at the establishment of permanent units which would be independent of any lead nation and subject to systematic joint training;
   creation of the military start-up fund as foreseen in Article 41(3) TEU, which would help launch military CSDP operations much faster;
   an action plan to strengthen and broaden the Athena mechanism so as to provide more Community funds for EU missions;
   reform of the Athena mechanism aiming at enlarging its potential for cost-sharing and common funding, especially with regard to the deployment of EU battlegroups or of other rapid response assets and to building the capacity of military actors in partner countries (training, mentoring, advice, provision of equipment, infrastructure improvement and other services);
   a reflection process on foreign direct investment in critical industries in the defence and security field and on service providers, with a view to developing EU-level legislation;
   a reflection process on dual-use standardisation with a view to developing EU-level legislation;
   a reflection on establishing a permanent headquarters for command and control for CSDP military operations;
   an EU-wide system for the coordination of the rapid movement of defence forces’ personnel, equipment and supplies;
   initial elements of the European Defence Action Plan, to be based on an EU White Book on Security and Defence;
   initial EU-NATO projects on countering and preventing hybrid threats and on building resilience, on cooperation on strategic communications and response, on operational cooperation including at sea and on migration, on coordination on cybersecurity and defence, on defence capabilities, on strengthening the defence technological, research and industrial base, on exercises, and on building the defence and security capacity of our eastern and southern partners;
   measures to increase cooperation and trust between cybersecurity and defence actors;

48.  Proposes that the European Defence Union be launched as a matter of urgency, in two stages and on the basis of a system of differentiated integration:

   (a) activation of permanent structured cooperation, which has already been approved by Parliament and included in the Commission President’s ‘New Start’ programme;
   (b) implementation of the action plan for the VP/HR’s global foreign policy and security strategy;

o
o   o

49.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the European Council, the Council, the Commission, the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, the Secretary-General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, the EU agencies in the space, security and defence fields, and the national parliaments.

(1) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0120.
(2) OJ C 419, 16.12.2015, p. 138.
(3) OJ C 46 E, 24.2.2010, p. 48.
(4) ‘The Cost of Non-Europe in Common Security and Defence Policy’, European Parliament Research Service (2013), p. 78.


Unleashing the potential of waterborne passenger transport
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European Parliament resolution of 22 November 2016 on unleashing the potential of waterborne passenger transport (2015/2350(INI))
P8_TA(2016)0436A8-0306/2016

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) of 1974, as amended,

–  having regard to the International Maritime Organisation Protocol of 1978 Relating to the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships of 1973,

–  having regard to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities of 2006,

–  having regard to the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP 21) to the UNFCCC and the 11th Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP 11) held in Paris from 30 November to 11 December 2015,

–  having regard to the Commission White Paper of 28 March 2011 entitled ‘Roadmap to a Single European Transport Area – Towards a competitive and resource efficient transport system’ (COM(2011)0144),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 21 January 2009 entitled ‘Strategic goals and recommendations for the EU’s maritime transport policy until 2018’ (COM(2009)0008),

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 1315/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 December 2013 on Union guidelines for the development of the trans‑European transport network and repealing Decision No 661/2010/EU(1),

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 1316/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 December 2013 establishing the Connecting Europe Facility, amending Regulation (EU) No 913/2010 and repealing Regulations (EC) No 680/2007 and (EC) No 67/2010(2),

–  having regard to its resolution of 5 May 2010 on strategic goals and recommendations for the EU’s maritime transport policy until 2018(3),

–  having regard to its resolution of 9 September 2015 on the implementation of the 2011 White Paper on Transport: taking stock and the way forward towards sustainable mobility(4),

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 1177/2010 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 24 November 2010 concerning the rights of passengers when travelling by sea and inland waterway and amending Regulation (EC) No 2006/2004(5),

–  having regard to the Commission’s report of 24 May 2016 on the application of Regulation (EU) No 1177/2010 concerning the rights of passengers when travelling by sea and inland waterway and amending Regulation (EC) No 2006/2004 (COM(2016)0274),

–  having regard to the Commission Communication of 10 September 2013 entitled ‘Towards quality inland waterway transport – NAIADES II’ (COM(2013)0623),

–  having regard to Directive 2006/87/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 December 2006 laying down technical requirements for inland waterway vessels(6),

–  having regard to Directive 2009/45/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 6 May 2009 on safety rules and standards for passenger ships(7),

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 1090/2010 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 24 November 2010 amending Directive 2009/42/EC on statistical returns in respect of carriage of goods and passengers by sea(8),

–  having regard to Council Directive 98/41/EC of 18 June 1998 on the registration of persons sailing on board passenger ships operating to or from ports of the Member States of the Community(9),

–  having regard to Council Regulation (EC) No 3051/95 of 8 December 1995 on the safety management of roll-on/roll-off passenger ferries (ro-ro ferries)(10),

–  having regard to Directive 2012/33/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 November 2012 amending Council Directive 1999/32/EC as regards the sulphur content of marine fuels(11),

–  having regard to the Commission report of 16 October 2015 entitled ‘REFIT Adjusting Course: EU Passenger Ship Safety Legislation Fitness Check’ (COM(2015)0508),

–  having regard to the Commission report of 31 March 2016 entitled ‘REFIT Evaluation of Directive 2000/59/EC on port reception facilities for ship-generated waste and cargo residues’ (COM(2016)0168),

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Transport and Tourism (A8-0306/2016),

A.  whereas Europe’s geography, with its long coastlines and many islands and rivers, offers extraordinary opportunities for sustainable waterborne passenger transport;

B.  whereas waterborne passenger transport in the fields of coastal (short sea) shipping, inland and maritime ferries, urban and peripheral mobility, cruises and tourism offers great potential for using available excess capacity in terms of both infrastructure and vessels, and plays a crucial role in connecting the different regions of the European Union, making it an important factor in enhancing cohesion; whereas cruise and ferry activity, moreover, stimulates coastal tourism, being one of the main maritime activities in Europe;

C.  whereas in recent years there has been a trend towards intensive development of vessels for different areas of navigation, for example river-sea vessels, which meet the requirements for sea-going vessels and are also able to navigate shallow waters;

D.  whereas technological developments have once again made waterborne transport an alternative to congested access roads to city centres;

E.  whereas waterborne passenger transport and waterborne freight transport face different challenges and have different needs in terms of infrastructure, environmental challenges, operational issues, security and port-city relations, while both market segments are handled by one port authority;

F.   whereas the integration of waterborne passenger hubs into European policy on interconnecting infrastructure, as already implemented through Regulations (EU) No 1315/2013 and (EU) No 1316/2013 on the trans-European transport network (TEN‑T) and the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF), respectively, will provide further European added value;

G.  whereas possibilities for loans and guarantees for waterborne projects are also available under the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) as a complementary instrument to the traditional grants;

H.  whereas inland waterway transport has been recognised as an environmentally friendly mode of transport, requiring special attention and support, and whereas the White Paper recommends promoting maritime and inland waterway transport, increasing the share of coastal and inland shipping and improving transport safety;

I.  whereas the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the proposal for the European Accessibility Act provide sound guidance not only for the implementation and, if appropriate, future review of Regulation (EU) No 1177/2010, but also for the adoption of passenger rights legislation within an intermodal context, given that such legislation should include barrier-free accessibility for passengers with disabilities or reduced mobility;

J.  whereas, while waterborne passenger transport is considered a safe transport mode, several tragic accidents have occurred in the past in the waterborne passenger transport sector, including those involving the Estonia, the Herald of Free Enterprise, the Costa Concordia, the Norman Atlantic and the UND Adryatik;

K.  whereas in its maritime transport policy strategy to 2018 the EU sets out its goal of becoming the world leader in maritime research and innovation, as well as shipbuilding, with a view to improving energy efficiency and intelligence in ships, reducing their environmental impact, minimising the risk of accidents and providing better quality of life at sea;

L.  whereas river cruise ship tourism and waterborne transport of passengers on rivers, canals and other inland waterways is growing in many sections of European rivers and the urban nodes along them;

M.  whereas the EU has adopted a number of macro strategies predicated on the utilisation of waterways, including the Danube, Adriatic-Ionian, and Baltic strategies;

1.  Takes the view that waterborne passenger transport (WPT) must be put higher on the transport policy agenda of the EU and of its Member States; considers, therefore, that they should work towards a ‘single area for waterborne passenger transport’, for instance through simplifying the administrative burden arising from cross-border passenger shipping;

Competitiveness

2.  Encourages the Member States, regional and local authorities and the Commission to give consideration to WPT, and especially to improve the associated infrastructure, in both its core and comprehensive networks, within the TEN-T and the CEF by strengthening its interconnection with, inter alia, rail hinterland infrastructure, including the provision of infrastructure and information so as to meet the mobility needs of all travellers;

3.  Encourages the development of the motorways of the sea – including by third countries –, which promote efficient multimodal transport, facilitate this mode’s integration with other transport networks and modes, remove bottlenecks in key network infrastructures and ensure territorial continuity and integration;

4.  Stresses the need to eliminate bottlenecks in the connections between the extended Western European inland waterway system and the existing Eastern European system, which has suffered considerable and, in places, total degradation;

5.  Calls on the Commission to publish an annual overview of WPT projects co-funded by the EU within the framework of cohesion, structural, regional, Interreg, Horizon 2020, CEF and TEN-T funds and the European Fund for Strategic Investments;

6.  Calls on the Commission to publish a summary report on the implementation of EU strategies in the WPT segment;

7.  Stresses the key relevance of European statistical data for formulating plans and policies for the waterborne transport sector, particularly as regards the number of cross-border maritime and inland waterway services provided by both ferries and cruise ships, given that there are areas where transport between different localities can only be undertaken on the water; asks Eurostat to include in their statistical data on maritime cruise passengers ‘port-of-call passenger visits’, namely the number of passengers embarking and disembarking at each transit port, and not only the cruise passengers embarking on holiday each year (turnover); including these numbers would give a more realistic picture of the added value of the cruise sector and of WPT in general;

8.  Calls on the Commission to develop a system for harmonised collection of statistics on accidents and incidents for inland waterway vessels, including cross-border traffic;

9.  Believes that the integration of WPT into urban and regional public transport networks could considerably enhance mobility efficiency, environmental performance, quality of life, affordability, relief of congestion of land-based transport networks, and comfort in cities; calls on the Commission to fully support investment in quality hinterland infrastructure, which can contribute to decreasing local traffic congestion and ensuring that local people are not negatively affected; calls on the Commission to set up lists of best practice examples in this field;

10.  Calls on the Member States to promote and support local initiatives aimed at activating inland waterway transport as a means of supplying agglomerations, including by developing distribution centres in river ports and developing passenger transport, primarily to make the areas concerned more attractive to tourists;

11.  Emphasises that WPT should be better integrated into information, booking and ticketing systems in order to improve the quality of public services and further develop the tourism sector, particularly in remote and isolated areas; stresses the need to take WPT operators into account in the work on the European integrated ticketing system;

12.  Encourages the Commission to finance better organised and more efficient projects for integrated transport services, leading to: a progressive reduction in energy consumption; a reorganisation of the timetables of the various public and private air, sea and land carriers with a view to the intermodal and efficient management of passenger transport; consolidation of tickets issued by public and private operators in a single pass available via a digital application;

13.  Points out that, where possible, practices whereby freight vessels also deliver passenger services and vice versa, for instance in the case of ferries, should be promoted, as they offer potential for ships to achieve better occupancy rates and greater financial efficiency as well as alleviating road congestion;

14.  Welcomes the efforts of the WPT sector to switch to cleaner, energy-efficient ships with lower emissions, developed as part of a European framework aimed at making waterborne transport greener; believes that this will lead to cheaper solutions that are sustainable, more attractive and thus economically more competitive, making the sector ‘cheaper, cleaner, greener’ overall;

15.  Notes that the different challenges of the major coastal zones in the EU call for different actions (more ferry services in the North Sea, upgrading and technical uptake of ferries in the Mediterranean, etc.);

16.  Is convinced that the EU passenger-ship-building industry must remain a key competitive player, to be encouraged more actively, while reducing its environmental footprint by boosting research activity and innovation within the industry;

Environmental sustainability

17.  Calls on the Commission to integrate WPT into its strategy and to take steps to reduce CO2 emissions in line with the COP 21 agreements and thus to minimise external costs;

18.  Encourages the Commission and the Member States to improve environmental standards with a view to reducing air pollution, along the lines of the Baltic Sea standards for sulphur emissions limits, fuel quality and more fuel-efficient engines;

19.  Emphasises that decarbonisation of transport is requiring significant efforts and progress in terms of research and innovation; supports the Commission in its promotion of LNG, non-fossil alternative fuels, electric and hybrid systems based on renewable sources, and solar and wind energy for maritime vessels, and encourages it to tailor research and innovation with a particular focus on practicability for the WPT sector;

20.  Recalls that further to Directive 2014/94/EU on the deployment of alternative fuels infrastructure, maritime ports of the TEN-T Core Network need to provide LNG bunkering facilities for vessels and seagoing ships by 2025 and inland ports need to do so by 2030;

21.  Calls on the Commission to encourage energy self-sufficiency through the use of solar panels to be placed on the buildings of port terminals and storage of the energy produced during the day for subsequent use at night;

22.  Underlines that the ferry sector is an important component of the short sea shipping (SSS) market and is therefore crucial to maintaining its dynamism and competitiveness, while at the same time improving its environmental performance and energy efficiency;

23.  Welcomes the Commission’s REFIT initiative for port reception facilities as an opportunity for aligning the current directive with international developments, and supports and encourages its plans for new legislation under the ordinary legislative procedure; points out that this should not keep Member States from launching more sustainable initiatives, including good information and monitoring systems on waste management, both on ships and in ports;

Safety and security

24.  Stresses that prevention of pollution and accidents is vital to the role of the European Maritime Safety Agency in improving the safety of cross-border maritime ferries and cruises, as well as in ensuring consumer protection;

25.  Recalls that staff on ferries and cruise ships must be trained to assist passengers effectively in the event of an emergency;

26.  Welcomes the Commission’s proposal for a directive on the recognition of professional qualifications in inland navigation, which sets harmonised standards for the qualification of crew members and boatmasters with a view to improving labour mobility in inland navigation;

27.  Stresses that, when it comes to the further development of information systems such as conventional radar, SafeSeaNet, Galileo and the River Information Services (RIS), the focus should be on improving safety, security and interoperability, and encourages Member States to make the use of RIS mandatory;

28.  Invites the competent authorities to propose a clear framework allocating responsibilities and costs, with a view to improving security, and to address additional staff training, instruction and guidance, especially the issue of accepting training using approved simulators as part of the training programme within the framework of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) and International Labour Organisation (ILO) rules; considers that the quality and safety of services can be best improved with qualified staff;

29.  Welcomes the Commission’s new legislative proposals to simplify and improve the common rules on safety of ships carrying passengers in EU waters, with a view to enhancing safety and competition, by making the rules clearer and simpler and bringing them into line with legal and technological developments;

30.  Acknowledges that, as security is a growing concern, additional measures might be needed which take account of the specific features of ferry traffic and operations in ports so as to ensure the smooth operation of daily ferry connections;

31.  Points out that a significant number of rivers constitute borders and encourages the authorities responsible to ensure cooperation and well-integrated and efficient safety, security and emergency systems that operate from both sides of the border;

32.  Points out that a number of enclosed seas, for example the Baltic and the Adriatic, are bordered by several Member States and also by countries that do not belong to the EU, and therefore calls on the authorities responsible to provide for an effective safety, security and, in particular, emergency system;

33.  Emphasises that, when international maritime ferries operate in EU territorial waters, EU and Member State legislation must apply;

Service quality and accessibility

34.  Encourages the Commission to integrate the principles of Regulation (EU) No 1177/2010 into its proposal on intermodal passenger rights, including aspects of barrier-free accessibility for people with disabilities or reduced mobility, and also to take account in it of the special needs of the elderly and families travelling with children; encourages the Commission to present annual statistical data on the evolution of numbers of passengers with disabilities or reduced mobility;

35.  Stresses the importance of the WPT sector in developing sustainable tourism and overcoming seasonality, in particular in remote and peripheral regions of the Union such as coastal, island, lake and rural regions; considers, furthermore, that SMEs should be a focal point for the promotion of tourism services; calls on the Commission, the Member States and local and regional authorities to make fullest possible use of EU funding opportunities for SMEs, including subsidies for local communities in the aforementioned outlying regions;

36.  Notes the great potential of creating convenient connections between inland waterway routes and the European network of cycle routes for increasing the attractiveness to tourists of many EU regions; stresses the need to take into account the needs of people travelling with bicycles using waterborne passenger transport;

37.  Considers that tourism in coastal regions and islands is insufficiently developed owing to the lack of interconnectivity; considers that the Commission should take into account the fact that there is a greater demand for quality transportation services in these areas;

38.  Takes the view that the WPT sector is important even in areas where it is not at present economically viable, such as more thinly populated remote islands;

39.  Recalls that some ferry connections are lifelines – vital for territorial, social and economic cohesion in the true sense – connecting outermost regions to the mainland and the economic and industrial growth areas, thus contributing to European cohesion and integration;

40.  Underlines that the framework for providing connections with islands, island regions and remote areas should be promoted, with measures to facilitate better-quality ferries and appropriate terminals;

41.  Highlights the potential for, and desirability of, integrating WPT into a multimodal mobility framework, taking account of public transport in large agglomerations, for both commuters and tourists; considers in this connection that further improvements are needed in order to develop mobility as a service by enabling integrated ticketing schemes in order to enhance reliability, comfort, punctuality and frequency, to ease pressure on logistics chains and to achieve faster boarding times with a view to attracting passengers;

42.  Emphasises that, in order to maintain a high level of quality services, as well as in the interests of maritime safety, it is essential to develop knowledge and skills in the maritime sector in the EU;

o
o   o

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

(1) OJ L 348, 20.12.2013, p. 1.
(2) OJ L 348, 20.12.2013, p. 129.
(3) OJ C 81 E, 15.3.2011, p. 10.
(4) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0310.
(5) OJ L 334, 17.12.2010, p. 1.
(6) OJ L 389, 30.12.2006, p. 1.
(7) OJ L 163, 25.6.2009, p. 1.
(8) OJ L 325, 9.12.2010, p. 1.
(9) OJ L 188, 2.7.1998, p. 35.
(10) OJ L 320, 30.12.1995, p. 14.
(11) OJ L 327, 27.11.2012, p. 1.


Increasing the effectiveness of development cooperation
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European Parliament resolution of 22 November 2016 on increasing the effectiveness of development cooperation (2016/2139(INI))
P8_TA(2016)0437A8-0322/2016

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the United Nations Summit on Sustainable Development and the outcome document adopted by the UN General Assembly on 25 September 2015, entitled ‘Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development’, and in particular to Goal 17 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set out therein, committing UN member states to strengthen the means of implementation of the agenda and to revitalise the global partnership for sustainable development(1),

–  having regard to the ‘Addis Ababa Action Agenda’, the outcome document adopted at the Third International Conference on Financing for Development (Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 13-16 July 2015) and endorsed by the UN General Assembly in its resolution 69/313 of 27 July 2015(2),

–  having regard to the report of the UN Secretary-General on ‘Trends and progress in international development cooperation’, submitted to the 2016 Session of the Development Cooperation Forum (E/2016/65)(3),

–  having regard to the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness, adopted at the Second High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in 2005, the Accra Agenda for Action adopted at the Third High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness held in 2008 in Accra (Ghana)(4), and the outcome of the Fourth High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness held in Busan (Republic of Korea) in December 2011, which launched the Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation (GPEDC)(5),

–  having regard to the Dili Declaration of 10 April 2010, which concerns peace-building and state-building, and to the ‘New Deal for Engagement in Fragile States’ launched on 30 November 2011 at the Fourth High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness,

–  having regard to the Communiqué of the First High-Level Meeting of the GPEDC, held in Mexico City in April 2014(6),

–  having regard to the forthcoming Second High-Level Meeting of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation, which will take place in Nairobi from 28 November to 1 December 2016(7),

–  having regard to the OECD/UNDP 2014 progress report, ‘Making Development Cooperation More Effective’(8),

–  having regard to the Siem Reap CSO Consensus on the international framework for CSO development effectiveness of 2011,

–  having regard to regard to Article 208 TFEU, which defines the reduction and eradication of poverty as the primary objective of EU development policy and requires that the Union and its Member States comply with the commitments which they have agreed to in the context of the UN and other competent organisations and take account of the objectives of development cooperation in the policies that they implement which are likely to affect developing countries,

–  having regard to the 2005 European Consensus on Development(9) and the plans to agree a new Consensus in 2017,

–  having regard to the European Union Code of Conduct on Complementarity and the Division of Labour in Development Policy(10),

–  having regard to the consolidated text of the Operational Framework on Aid Effectiveness(11), which is based on the Council conclusions of 17 November 2009 on ‘An Operational Framework on Aid Effectiveness’, the Council conclusions of 14 June 2010 on ‘Cross-country Division of Labour’ and the Council conclusions of 9 December 2010 on ‘Transparency and Mutual Accountability’,

–  having regard to the Commission Staff Working Document of 26 March 2015, ‘Launching the EU International Cooperation and Development Results Framework’ (SWD(2015)0080), and the Council conclusions of 26 May 2015 on the Results Framework(12),

–  having regard to the Council conclusions of 17 March 2014 on the EU common position for the First High Level Meeting of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation(13),

–  having regard to the Council conclusions of 26 May 2015 on a New Global Partnership for Poverty Eradication and Sustainable Development after 2015(14),

–  having regard to the Council conclusions of 12 May 2016 on stepping up joint programming(15),

–  having regard to the Council conclusions of 12 May 2016 on the Annual Report 2016 to the European Council on EU development aid targets(16),

–  having regard to the Commission Staff Working Document of 23 June 2015, ‘2015 EU Accountability Report on Financing for Development – Review of progress by the EU and its Member States’ (SWD(2015)0128),

–  having regard to the ‘Global Strategy for the European Union’s Foreign And Security Policy – Shared Vision, Common Action: A Stronger Europe’, presented in June 2016 by the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy(17),

–  having regard to its resolution of 22 May 2008 on the follow-up to the Paris Declaration of 2005 on Aid Effectiveness(18),

–  having regard to its resolution of 5 July 2011 on the future of EU budget support to developing countries(19),

–  having regard to its resolution of 25 October 2011 on the 4th High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness(20),

–  having regard to its resolution of 11 December 2013 with recommendations to the Commission on EU donor coordination on development aid(21),

–  having regard to its resolution of 19 May 2015 on Financing for Development(22),

–  having regard to its resolution of 14 April 2016 on the private sector and development(23),

–  having regard to its resolution of 12 May 2016 on the follow-up to and review of the 2030 Agenda(24),

–  having regard to its resolution of 7 June 2016 on the EU 2015 Report on Policy Coherence for Development(25),

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Development (A8-0322/2016),

A.  whereas the principles established by the Paris Declaration and the Accra Agenda for Action remain fully valid and have proven their value in enhancing the quality of development aid, as well as public support for it in donor countries;

B.  whereas the high-level political commitments of the Monterrey Consensus (2002), the Rome Declaration (2003), the Paris Declaration (2005), the Accra Agenda for Action (2008) and the 4th Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Busan (2011) all pursue the same goal of improving quality of implementation, management and use of official development assistance in order to maximise its impact;

C.  whereas aid effectiveness principles have clearly contributed to progress towards the Millennium Development Goals in many countries, but progress remains uneven and not all principles have been fully implemented in all countries and by all development actors at all times;

D.  whereas the Global Partnership can play a crucial role in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the achievement of the SDGs, by shifting the focus from the concept of ‘aid effectiveness’, referring to traditional public development aid, to that of ‘development cooperation effectiveness’;

E.  whereas Official Development Assistance (ODA) can play a crucial role in delivering on the 2030 Agenda, in particular in low-income countries and in fighting extreme poverty and inequality, if it is better targeted and if it respects the principles of effective development cooperation, namely democratic country ownership, alignment, strengthening local capacity, transparency and democratic accountability, focus on results, and inclusiveness; stresses that aid conditionalities shall respect the principles of democratic ownership;

F.  whereas besides development aid and cooperation, other development policy tools are necessary to effectively eradicate poverty and promote the SDGs;

G.  whereas budget support has many advantages, such as the responsibility of the state, more precise analysis of outcomes, greater policy coherence, more effective aid forecasting, and optimum use of the funds available directly for the benefit of the population;

H.  whereas the private sector is becoming, alongside other traditional governmental and non-governmental development organisations, a true partner in our development strategies, in terms of achieving inclusive and sustainable development;

I.  whereas it is essential for aid effectiveness that recipient countries apply in parallel pro-growth economic policies introducing market economy mechanisms, mobilisation of private capital and land reforms, as well as progressively opening their markets to global competition;

J.  whereas according to a Commission study, the fragmentation of the aid effort means an additional cost of between EUR 2 and 3 billion a year for the EU;

K.  whereas the Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation (GPEDC) provides an inclusive forum bringing together governments, bilateral and multilateral organisations, civil society, parliaments, trade unions and the private sector from all countries alike;

L.  whereas the GPEDC focuses on the conduct of and relationship between development actors, the effective implementation of development policies and programmes, and monitoring progress in respecting the crucial principles defined over the past decade, in order to improve the effectiveness of all actors’ efforts for development; whereas its articulation with the global development architecture overseeing the implementation of the 2030 Agenda should be clarified;

M.  whereas countries such as China, Brazil, Turkey, Russia and India play an increasingly important role as emerging donors and for the transfer of development expertise and technology, not least thanks to their own recent and current development experience; whereas their engagement with more traditional donors in the promotion of global public goods and their participation in inclusive development cooperation in the GPEDC can be enhanced;

N.  whereas the Commission plays an active role within the Steering Committee of the GPEDC, and one of its co-chairs has been from an EU Member State, the Netherlands; whereas Germany is taking over this co-chairing role;

O.  whereas country ownership in development cooperation requires alignment of donors to national development plans and the internationally agreed SDGs and targets, as well as domestic participation as regards design and accountability in the implementation of development plans and programmes;

P.  whereas aid yields a double dividend when it not only funds development projects but is also spent locally, on locally produced goods and services; whereas, therefore, the strengthening of country systems and national procurement systems is an essential element for aid effectiveness in accordance with the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness and for enhancing good governance and democratic accountability in partner countries;

Q.  whereas provider-driven development cooperation agendas and tied aid, including in the area of procurement, can be an expression of diverse political interests which sometimes conflict with development policies and may risk undermining the ownership and sustainability of development assistance and past progress on alignment, resulting in ineffectiveness and increasing dependency; whereas local ownership has an important role to play in ensuring effective development for citizens;

R.  whereas there is now greater use of results frameworks for measuring the achievements of development cooperation programmes, but the full ownership and use of those frameworks by developing countries remain a persistent challenge;

S.  whereas the 2016 GPEDC Monitoring round shows that progress in the use of country systems remains low and that untying aid has not further progressed and is still at the 80 % peak reached in 2010;

T.  whereas parliamentarians of partner countries, local authorities and civil society continue to express dissatisfaction with the degree to which they are involved in and informed on development cooperation programming and implementation;

U.  whereas development effectiveness, understood as the effective use of all means and resources geared towards development, including poverty reduction, depends both on aid-providing and on recipient countries, as well as on the existence of effective and responsive institutions, sound policies, the involvement of local stakeholders and civil society, the rule of law, inclusive democratic governance, the presence of effective and transparent follow-up mechanisms, and safeguards against corruption within developing countries and illicit financial flows at international level; whereas the GPEDC should play an increased role in facilitating and promoting progress on the above determinants for development;

V.  whereas the fragmentation of aid remains a persistent challenge arising from the proliferation of donors and aid agencies and lack of coordination of their activities and projects;

W.  whereas South-South cooperation has continued to grow, despite the slowing-down of emerging economies and falling commodity prices;

X.  whereas the development landscape is becoming increasingly heterogeneous, with more poor people living in middle-income countries than in low-income countries; whereas at the same time, development challenges have changed in nature, with the emergence of new global challenges such as migration, food security, peace and stability, and climate change;

1.  Calls on all development actors to build on the commitments made from Paris to Busan, and to renew and reinforce their efforts to make development cooperation as effective as possible with a view to achieving the ambitious goals and targets set out in the 2030 Agenda and making the best use of public and private resources for development;

2.  Calls for the utilisation of all development policy tools for poverty eradication and the promotion of the SDGs; is of the opinion that the effectiveness of development funding should be assessed on the basis of concrete results and its contribution to development policy as a whole;

3.  Stresses the key role of Official Development Assistance (ODA) in fulfilling the development effectiveness agenda, for poverty eradication, reduction of inequality, delivering essential public services and supporting good governance; underlines that ODA is more flexible, predictable and accountable than other flows potentially contributing to development;

4.  Recalls that sufficient funding is a prerequisite for effective development cooperation; notes that most ODA providers have not met their commitment to allocate 0,7 % of GNI to development assistance by 2015, resulting in more than USD 2 trillion not being made available to developing countries for attaining the Millennium Development Goals;

5.  Urges the EU and its Member States to meet their long-standing commitment to devote 0,7 % of GNI to aid, to step up their development assistance, including through the EU budget and the European Development Fund (EDF), and to adopt an effective roadmap in order to achieve the commitment target in a transparent, predictable and accountable way; warns against the dilution of ODA criteria with the aim of covering expenses other than those directly linked to promoting sustainable development in developing countries;

6.  Notes with concern that as of mid-2015, only five EU Member States had published Busan implementation plans; urges Member States to publish implementation plans and report on their efforts prior to the Second High Level Meeting of the GPEDC (HLM2), which will take place in Nairobi from 28 November to 1 December 2016;

7.  Calls for the outcome document of the HLM2 to clearly address and assign differentiated roles and responsibilities of development actors and institutions for implementing the agenda and applying the principles, in order to enhance progress and facilitate future cooperation;

8.  Notes the Mexican proposal for inclusion of a fifth development effectiveness principle, i.e. ‘Leave No-one Behind’; acknowledges the importance of placing a strong focus on poor, vulnerable and marginalised groups, duly taking into account gender equality and situations of fragility and conflict, in the context of the development effectiveness agenda; takes the view that, while this principle would correspond to the general philosophy and the overarching commitment of the 2030 Agenda, its possible inclusion should be accompanied by serious discussion and reflection on its operationalisation, notably regarding issues of mainstreaming and indicators;

9.  Highlights the need to position the GPEDC strongly in the context of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda; considers that the GPEDC can provide added value if its work is strategically phased and tailored in view of the work and calendar of the UN ECOSOC Development Cooperation Forum, the Financing for Development Forum, and the High Level Political Forum;

10.  Stresses that the GPEDC should play a strong role in the evidence-based aspects of monitoring and accountability as regards effectiveness principles for achieving the SDGs and in supporting their fuller implementation by all actors at national level; underlines the need for the GPEDC to provide clearly defined channels for cooperation for specific development actors beyond OECD donors, including emerging donors, local and regional governments, civil society organisations, private philanthropists, financial institutions, private-sector companies and trade unions; believes that the chairing arrangements of the GPEDC should reflect the diversity of stakeholders;

11.  Recalls that growth of 1 % in Africa represents more than double the amount of official development aid;

12.  Believes that the GPEDC ought to play a leading role in ensuring progress on SDG 17, namely on monitoring and accountability, increased effectiveness of aid, quality and capacity aspects of finance for development, tax and debt sustainability, mobilising the private sector and its responsibility for sustainable development, transparency, policy coherence, multi-stakeholder partnerships, and South-South and triangular cooperation;

13.  Underlines the important role the GPEDC has to play regarding SDG indicator 17.16.1, notably in achieving more effective and inclusive multi-stakeholder partnerships to support and sustain the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, by measuring the quality of their development efforts; welcomes the 2016 Monitoring Round, noting that the number of development partners engaged in this exercise has increased, and looks forward to the publication of the Progress Report;

14.  Encourages the parties to the GPEDC to consider the creation of a more independent and properly resourced permanent secretariat for it, building on the work of the Joint Support Team, and urges EU Member States and partner countries to designate national focal points;

15.  Points out that the European Parliament should be enabled fully to play its vital role of democratic scrutiny for all EU policies, including development policies, and demands to be informed regularly and in a timely manner on the positions taken by the Commission in the GPEDC Steering Committee;

16.  Welcomes the progress made, and recommends that the Commission make further efforts to ensure that all actors concerned have access to information on transparency of development cooperation programming, funding mechanisms, projects and aid flows, in particular in the context of the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) and the setting-up of the ‘EU Aid Explorer’ website; points out, however, that major steps still need to be taken in this regard, and demands that further significant efforts be urgently made by all donors to make information and data more accessible, timely and comparable; calls on those Member States which are not yet contributing to IATI to start doing so; calls on the Commission and the Member States to make use of the data available, and also to support partner countries by promoting exchange of information and good practices in this regard;

17.  Considers that monitoring, review, and knowledge-sharing about progress in development are of paramount importance in order to enhance the accountability and impact of cooperation, particularly at country level; urges the Commission, therefore, to submit reports, at least every 24 months, on the efforts and action plans of both the EU and the Member States with a view to comprehensively implementing the Busan principles; calls on the EU to further support partner countries in the improvement of their administrative and logistical capacity, and in particular their statistical systems;

18.  Welcomes the OECD’s initiatives potentially contributing to reducing illicit financial flows, and calls on the international community to enhance cooperation in order to increase the transparency of tax regimes and financial flows more generally; insists on the crucial role and responsibilities of multinational companies and financial institutions in this regard;

19.  Invites the Commission and EU delegations and Member States’ agencies to inform national parliaments and, to the extent possible, local and regional authorities, as well as private stakeholders and civil society, about programming and financial commitments in relation to development assistance, by publishing country-specific development cooperation reviews, which should provide an overview of strategic documents, donor coordination, Annual Action Plans and ongoing and planned programmes, as well as calls for projects and procurements or other funding mechanisms used;

20.  Encourages recipient countries’ parliaments to adopt national policies on development aid in order to improve the accountability of donors and of recipient governments, including that of local authorities, enhance public financial management and absorption capacity, eradicate corruption and all forms of aid wastage, make tax systems effective, and improve conditions for receiving budget support, as well as, in the long run, reducing dependence on aid;

21.  Considers it important to promote participation by all Member States in the Addis Tax Initiative, in order to double technical assistance by 2020 and strengthen the taxation capacity of partner countries;

22.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to engage with national parliaments of partner countries with a view to constructively supporting the development of such policies, complementing them with mutual accountability arrangements; welcomes the Commission’s efforts to improve domestic accountability in the context of budget support by reinforcing the institutional capacities of national parliaments and Supreme Audit Institutions;

23.  Underlines the role in development of citizens, local communities, elected representatives, faith-based organisations, civil society organisations (CSOs), academia, trade unions and the private sector, and stresses that all these actors need to be involved in furthering and implementing the effectiveness agenda at various levels; believes that their effective contribution requires their participatory involvement in planning and implementing, mutual accountability and transparency, monitoring and evaluation, and that donors should improve predictability and speediness when working with these actors as implementing partners and basic service supply partners, in order genuinely to reach the most vulnerable sections of the population;

24.  Stresses that assistance can only be sustained when recipients are strongly committed and in charge; insists on the importance of shared responsibility for development results, including for the implementation of the Istanbul Principles, and recalls that democratic ownership requires strong institutions that can ensure the full participation of local actors in the implementation, monitoring and evaluation of development programmes;

25.  Underlines the importance of enabling CSOs to exercise their role as independent development actors, with a particular focus on an enabling environment that is consistent with agreed international rights and maximises the contributions of CSOs to development; expresses its concern regarding the shrinking space for CSOs in many partner countries; calls on the Commission to improve accessibility of funding for CSOs;

26.  Welcomes the EU’s progress on and commitment to Joint Programming; notes that Joint Programming should reduce aid fragmentation and transaction costs, increase complementarity through better division of labour, and enhance domestic and mutual accountability as well as predictability of development cooperation, thus offering clear advantages for the EU and partner countries alike; observes that Joint Programming has been explored in 59 out of 110 partner countries in receipt of EU development assistance; calls on the Member States and partner countries to advance their engagement with Joint Programming in order to exploit its advantages fully and in all possible countries;

27.  Recalls its request(26) for the codification and strengthening of the mechanisms and practices for ensuring better complementarity and effective coordination of development aid among EU Member States and institutions, providing clear and enforceable rules for ensuring democratic domestic ownership, harmonisation, alignment with country strategies and systems, predictability of funds, transparency and mutual accountability; asks the Commission to provide information on the absence of follow-up on this request and to state what alternative measures it has taken or intends to take in this regard;

28.  Recalls that the EU and its Member States are committed to untying their aid, and acknowledges the progress made in this area; calls for further efforts to accelerate untying of aid at global level by all providers of development aid, including emerging economies; calls on aid providers to use partner countries’ procurement systems as a first option;

29.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to develop new initiatives to enhance South-South and triangular cooperation flagship projects, involving new emerging donors and other middle-income countries and based on tackling global challenges of mutual interest, without losing the perspective of eradicating poverty; highlights the need to harness the full potential of decentralised cooperation in order to further the development effectiveness agenda, whilst respecting all safeguards in relation to transparency, effectiveness and coherence and avoiding further fragmentation of the international aid architecture;

30.  Stresses that development assistance can play an important role in fighting poverty, tackling inequalities and promoting development, in particular of least developed countries, as well as in boosting access to quality public services for the most deprived and vulnerable groups and catalysing other critical systemic factors that are conducive to development, such as promoting gender equality (as articulated in the Busan Partnership), education, and the strengthening of health systems, including the fight against poverty-related diseases, if employed in a context of legitimate, inclusive governance based on the rule of law and respect for human rights;

31.  Underlines the significance of SDG 16 for development effectiveness overall, and warns that development aid cannot effectively fulfil its purpose in the absence of peace, respect for human rights and the rule of law, an impartial, efficient and independent judicial system, internationally recognised social, environmental and labour standards and safeguards for the integrity of public institutions and office-holders, inclusive, participatory and representative decision-making at all levels, and transparency and accountability;

32.  Recalls that corruption in recipient countries, whether directly linked to development assistance or not, constitutes a serious violation of democratic legitimacy and harms public support for development assistance in donor countries; welcomes, therefore, all measures taken to promote sound financial management and eradicate corruption once and for all, while noting that the situation in many partner countries by definition implies a certain degree of risk;

33.  Urges Member States and other donors to scale up efforts and human resources in better conceptualising effectiveness and deep analysis in contexts of fragility, post-conflict and conflict prevention, where desired outcomes may not always be captured in the form of data and within results frameworks;

34.  Firmly believes that the private sector is an important partner in achieving the SDGs and mobilising further resources for development; stresses that, given their increasing role in development cooperation, private-sector actors must align with development effectiveness principles and abide by the principles of corporate accountability throughout the whole lifecycle of projects; acknowledges the efforts of some private- sector actors to take on board human rights commitments, social inclusion and sustainability as core to their business models, and calls for the generalisation of this approach; points out the need for the private sector to respect the principles of international law and social and environmental standards, as well as the UN Global Compact on Human Rights, UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, ILO core labour standards and the UN Convention Against Corruption; calls on the Commission to ensure that companies operating from tax havens do not participate in ODA-financed projects; underlines in parallel the need for partner countries to foster an enabling environment for businesses, including transparent legal and regulatory systems;

35.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the EEAS, the Parliament and Government of Kenya as hosts of the Second High-Level Meeting of the GPEDC, the Co-Chairs of the GPEDC, the United Nations Development Programme, the OECD and the Interparliamentary Union.

(1) http://www.un.org/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=A/RES/70/1&Lang=E
(2) http://www.un.org/esa/ffd/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/AAAA_Outcome.pdf
(3) https://documents-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/N16/132/05/PDF/N1613205.pdf?OpenElement
(4) http://www.oecd.org/dac/effectiveness/34428351.pdf
(5) http://www.oecd.org/dac/effectiveness/49650173.pdf
(6) http://effectivecooperation.org/2014/03/draft-communique-for-the-first-high-level-meeting-of-the-global-partnership/
(7) http://effectivecooperation.org/events/2016-high-level-meeting/
(8) http://effectivecooperation.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/4314021e.pdf
(9) OJ C 46, 24.2.2006, p. 1.
(10) Council Conclusions 9558/07, 15.5.2007.
(11) Council document 18239/10.
(12) http://data.consilium.europa.eu/doc/document/ST-9145-2015-INIT/en/pdf
(13) http://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/workarea/downloadasset.aspx?id=15603
(14) http://data.consilium.europa.eu/doc/document/ST-9241-2015-INIT/en/pdf
(15) http://data.consilium.europa.eu/doc/document/ST-8831-2016-INIT/en/pdf
(16) http://data.consilium.europa.eu/doc/document/ST-8822-2016-INIT/en/pdf
(17) Council document 10715/16.
(18) OJ C 279 E, 19.11.2009, p. 100.
(19) OJ C 33 E, 5.2.2013, p. 38.
(20) OJ C 131 E, 8.5.2013, p. 80.
(21) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0558.
(22) OJ C 353, 27.9.2016, p. 2.
(23) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0137.
(24) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0224.
(25) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0246.
(26) Texts adopted of 11 December 2013, P7_TA(2013)0558.

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