Index 
Texts adopted
Wednesday, 23 November 2016 - StrasbourgFinal edition
Emissions of certain atmospheric pollutants ***I
 Finalisation of Basel III
 Implementation of the Common Security and Defence Policy
 EU strategic communication to counteract anti-EU propaganda by third parties
 Sign language and professional sign language interpreters
 Renewing the approval of the active substance bentazone

Emissions of certain atmospheric pollutants ***I
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Resolution
Text
European Parliament legislative resolution of 23 November 2016 on the proposal for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on the reduction of national emissions of certain atmospheric pollutants and amending Directive 2003/35/EC (COM(2013)0920 – C7-0004/2014 – 2013/0443(COD))
P8_TA(2016)0438A8-0249/2015

(Ordinary legislative procedure: first reading)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Commission proposal to Parliament and the Council (COM(2013)0920),

–  having regard to Article 294(2) and Article 192(1) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, pursuant to which the Commission submitted the proposal to Parliament (C7‑0004/2014),

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

–  having regard to the opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee of 10 July 2014(1),

–  having regard to the opinion of the Committee of the Regions of 7 October 2014(2),

–  having regard to the undertaking given by the Council representative by letter of 30 June 2016 to approve Parliament’s position, in accordance with Article 294(4) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety and the opinions of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy and the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development (A8-0249/2015),

1.  Adopts its position at first reading hereinafter set out(3);

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

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

Position of the European Parliament adopted at first reading on 23 November 2016 with a view to the adoption of Directive (EU) 2016/... of the European Parliament and of the Council on the reduction of national emissions of certain atmospheric pollutants, amending Directive 2003/35/EC and repealing Directive 2001/81/EC

(As an agreement was reached between Parliament and Council, Parliament's position corresponds to the final legislative act, Directive (EU) 2016/2284.)

(1) OJ C 451, 16.12.2014, p. 134.
(2) OJ C 415, 20.11.2014, p. 23.
(3) This position replaces the amendments adopted on 28 October 2015 (Texts adopted P8_TA(2015)0381).


Finalisation of Basel III
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European Parliament resolution of 23 November 2016 on the finalisation of Basel III (2016/2959(RSP))
P8_TA(2016)0439B8-1226/2016

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the post-crisis conclusions of the G20 Summits,

–  having regard to the communiqué of the G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors of 27 February 2016,

–  having regard to the communiqué of the G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors of 14-15 April 2016,

–  having regard to the communiqué of the G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors of 23-24 July 2016,

–  having regard to the G20 leaders’ communiqué of 4-5 September 2016,

–  having regard to the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision (BCBS) reports to G20 leaders providing updates on the implementation of the agreed reform agenda, and in particular to the BCBS report of November 2015 to G20 leaders on ‘Finalising post-crisis reforms: an update’(1),

–  having regard to the BCBS consultative documents on ‘revisions to the Basel III leverage ratio framework’ of 6 April 2016, on ‘reducing variation in credit risk-weighted assets – constraints on the use of internal model approaches’ of 24 March 2016, and on ‘revisions to the Standardised Approach for credit risk’ of 10 December 2015,

–  having regard to the BCBS discussion paper and consultative document on ‘Regulatory treatment of accounting provisions’ of October 2016,

–  having regard to the BCBS standard for ‘TLAC holdings – Amendments to the Basel III standard on the definition of capital’ of October 2016(2),

–  having regard to the EU Shadow Banking Monitor from the European Systemic Risk Board (ESRB) of July 2016,

–  having regard to the results of the stress tests conducted by the European Banking Authority (EBA) and published on 29 July 2016,

–  having regard to the Council Conclusions of 12 July 2016 on finalising the post-crisis Basel reforms(3),

–  having regard to the 2016 IMF Global Financial Stability Report,

–  having regard to its resolution of 10 March 2016 on the Banking Union – Annual Report 2015(4),

–  having regard to its resolution of 19 January 2016 on stocktaking and challenges of the EU Financial Services Regulation: impact and the way forward towards a more efficient and effective EU framework for Financial Regulation and a Capital Markets Union(5),

–  having regard to its resolution of 12 April 2016 on the EU role in the framework of international financial, monetary and regulatory institutions and bodies(6),

–  having regard to the research paper for its Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs on ‘The European Union’s role in International Economic Fora, Paper 5: The BCBS’,

–  having regard to the exchange of views with the Secretary General of the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision (BCBS), Mr Bill Coen, with the Chair of the SSM Supervisory Board, Mrs Danièle Nouy, with the Chairperson of the EBA, Mr Andrea Enria and with the Vice-President of the European Commission, Mr Valdis Dombrovskis, on the finalisation of Basel III/‘Basel IV’,

–  having regard to the Commission Statement on the Basel Committee’s revision of the standardised approach for credit risk and the exchange of views that followed with Vice-President Katainen on 6 July 2016,

–  having regard to the question to the Commission on the finalisation of Basel III (O-000136/2016 – B8-1810/2016),

–  having regard to the motion for a resolution of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs,

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

A.  whereas a resilient and well capitalised banking system is a prerequisite for preserving financial stability, providing appropriate lending to the real economy throughout the cycle and supporting economic growth;

B.  whereas the G20 leaders agreed in the aftermath of the financial crisis to a comprehensive reform agenda strengthening the regulatory standards of international banks, including the strengthening of prudential requirements;

C.  whereas the BCBS is developing internationally agreed minimum standards for prudential requirements for large, internationally active banks; whereas the BCBS monitors and reviews the implementation of these global standards and reports to the G20; whereas its guidance is an important tool to prevent regulatory fragmentation across the globe;

D.  whereas the European Union implemented the internationally agreed standards in the framework of the Capital Requirements Regulation (CRR) and Capital Requirements Directive (CRD IV), albeit adapting them to the reality of EU funding needs, for example concerning the SME supporting factor and allowing a certain degree of flexibility; whereas in the EU it has been decided that these standards are applicable to all banks and not only to the largest, internationally active banks, while some non-European jurisdictions make some of them applicable only to the largest banks; whereas progress on achieving an internationally levelled playing field is important; whereas the Commission is expected to come forward with a legislative proposal for the review of the CRR/CRD IV to implement further agreed revisions to the Basel framework;

E.  whereas the prudential requirements for banks are interlinked and complementary to other regulatory requirements, such as the total loss-absorbing capacity (TLAC) and the mandatory use of central clearing for derivatives instruments; whereas the regulatory framework governing the EU banking sector has been improved markedly over the past years, particularly through setting up the Banking Union;

F.  whereas a sound framework for financial stability and growth should be comprehensive and balanced in order to cover dynamic supervisory practices and not focus merely on static regulation concerning mainly quantitative aspects;

G.  whereas data show excessive variability in the past of risk weights and ‘strategic risk modelling’ to reduce banks’ capital requirements and the difficulty national supervisors faced in assessing internal models, which contributed to the financial crisis;

H.  whereas the implementation of prudential requirements for different banking business models may differ considerably in scope and complexity, making a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach ineffective and disproportionately burdensome, in particular for many smaller, domestically focused, less complex and interconnected banks, as well as their regulators and supervisors; therefore, an appropriate degree of proportionality and flexibility is required;

I.  whereas additional changes to the prudential framework for banks are currently being discussed by the BCBS addressing credit risk and operational risk; whereas these reforms focus on enhancing the risk sensitivity and robustness of the standardised approach for credit risk, additional constraints on the internally modelled approach and finalisation of the design of the leverage ratio, and a potential capital floor based on the standardised approach;

J.  whereas the majority of US financial institutions use the standardised approach for credit risk evaluations, while in the EU many large and medium banks rely on internal models;

K.  whereas an appropriate revision of the standardised approach and the respect of the principle of proportionality are key factors for making the BCBS standard work for the small banks that mainly make use of it;

L.  whereas the G20 has indicated that the current revision should not bring about a significant increase in overall capital requirements, and this view was reiterated by Member States during the ECOFIN Council meeting in July 2016;

M.  whereas European banks are now subject to systemic regular stress tests by regulators and the results of these tests are put into the public domain;

N.  whereas representatives of non-EU jurisdictions, such as Japan, have expressed concerns in relation to the growing pressure on raising capital and dealing with higher compliance costs in order to comply with the new standards set;

O.  whereas the BSBC decisions do not have legal force and need to be transposed through the ordinary legislative procedure in order to have effect in the EU; whereas not all national competent authorities have seats in the BCBS, but the ECB and the SSM are represented as full members and the Commission and the EBA are observers;

1.  Underlines the importance of sound global standards and principles for the prudential regulation of banks, and welcomes the post-crisis work of the BCBS in this field;

2.  Reaffirms that banks need to be well capitalised in order to support the real economy, reduce systemic risk and avoid any repeat of the enormous bailouts witnessed during the crisis; underlines the need for appropriate regulation of the shadow banking sector in order to ensure fair competition and financial stability;

3.  Highlights that, contrary to other jurisdictions, banks play a key role in financing the European economy and are likely to remain the main source of finance for households and enterprises, especially for SMEs; stresses that EU legislation has always attempted to reflect this (e.g. by use of the SMEs supporting factor) and should continue to do so (e.g. by prolonging and extending the supporting factor); recognises, nonetheless, the importance of diversifying the funding sources of the European economy, and welcomes in this regard the ongoing work under the CMU;

4.  Notes the ongoing work of the BCBS to finalise the Basel III framework intended to increase simplicity, comparability and convergence of the risk-weighted capital framework in order to address excessive variability in risk-weighted assets and to apply the same rules to the same risks; underlines the need for greater transparency and accountability to enhance the legitimacy and ownership of BCBS deliberations; welcomes the appearance of the Secretary General of the BCBS before the ECON Committee and encourages further dialogue;

5.  Stresses that the current revision should respect the principle stated by the Group of Governors and Heads of Supervision (GHOS) of not significantly increasing overall capital requirements, while at the same time strengthening the overall financial position of European banks;

6.  Underlines that a second and equally important principle to be respected by the revision is to promote the level playing field at the global level by mitigating – rather than exacerbating – the differences between jurisdictions and banking models, and by not unduly penalising the EU banking model;

7.  Is concerned that early analysis of recent BCBS drafts indicates that the reform package at its current stage might not be in compliance with the two abovementioned principles; calls on the BCBS to revise its proposals accordingly and on the ECB and the SSM to ensure their respect in the finalisation and monitoring of the new standard;

8.  Underlines that this approach would be instrumental in ensuring consistent implementation of the new standard by the European Parliament as co-legislator;

9.  Recalls the importance of the principle of proportionality, to be assessed not only in relation to the size of the institutions which are regulated, but also understood as a fair balance between the costs and benefits of regulation for each group of stakeholders;

10.  Calls for a dialogue and an exchange of best practices among regulators concerning the application of the principle of proportionality to be established at the EU level and at the international level;

11.  Calls on the BCBS to assess carefully and comprehensively the qualitative and quantitative impact of the new reforms, taking into consideration their impact on different jurisdictions and different banking models before the adoption of the standard by the Committee; considers that this assessment should also take into account the previous reforms suggested by the Committee; calls on the BCBS to perform the necessary adjustments in case imbalances occur during this analysis;

12.  Recalls the importance of a risk-based approach to regulation, with the same rules being applied to the same risk, while underlining the need to reduce the scope for regulatory arbitrage and excessive variability in risk-weighted assets; calls on the BCBS to preserve the risk sensitivity of the prudential regulation, including by ensuring that the revision of the standardised approach and the scope for applying the IRBA overcome the risks of regulatory arbitrage and well reflect the specificities of different forms of financing, such as real estate lending, infrastructure financing and specialised lending, and by avoiding disproportionate effects for the real economy; expresses concerns in this respect about the potential effects on the real economy of the suggested introduction of output floors;

13.  Calls on the Commission to assess carefully and comprehensively the qualitative and quantitative impact of recent and new reforms inter alia on the financing of the real economy in Europe and on envisaged European legislative projects such as the Capital Markets Union; calls on the Commission to make use of the findings resulting from the call for evidence and of the work stream on the first stocktaking assessment on financial services regulation which is due by the end of 2016; calls on the Commission to make sure that the new BCBS proposals or the implementation thereof do not counteract those initiatives; stresses that this assessment should not undermine the legislative achievements obtained so far and should not be seen as a call for deregulation;

14.  Requests that the requirements to mandate central clearing of derivative products be fully taken into account when setting the leverage ratio so as to encourage the practice of central clearing;

15.  Recalls that adequate account must be taken of the specificities of the European banking models, the markets they operate, the different sizes of institutions and the different risk profiles in both the impact assessments and the calibration of the standards in order to maintain the necessary diversity of the European banking sector and to respect proportionality; calls on the Commission to take all these principles into account when determining the scope of implementation and when translating the BCBS proposals into EU law;

16.  Underlines the key role of the European and national banking supervisors in ensuring supervisory convergence in the EU, taking into account the principle of proportionality and the appropriateness of the rules for different banking models; highlights the importance of reliable and comparable information on the situation of the institutions supervised in order to allow for this work to be carried out effectively and reliably; emphasises that the right to use internal models should be preserved; calls on the SSM and the EBA to continue their supervisory work in order to ensure consistent implementation of internal models and their capacity to adequately reflect the risks of banks’ business models, to improve convergence in the way their flaws are addressed and to propose changes, where necessary;

17.  Recalls the interaction of the prudential requirements for banks with other major banking standards, such as the introduction of the TLAC standard within the EU and its harmonisation with the MREL requirement under the BRRD, as well as with the application of the IFRS 9 accounting standard in the near future and the Banking Union framework; stresses therefore that the reflection on the reforms of prudential regulation should take into account all these different elements and both their respective and combined effects;

18.  Recalls that several major EU banks have in recent years paid out dividends to shareholders while remaining significantly undercapitalised and without having cleaned up their balance sheets in a consistent manner;

19.  Calls on the Commission to prioritise work on a ‘small banking box’ for the least risky banking models, and to extend this work to an assessment of the feasibility of a future regulatory framework consisting of less complex and more appropriate and proportional prudential rules specifically adapted to different types of banking model;

20.  Stresses the importance of the role of the Commission, the European Central Bank and the European Banking Authority in engaging in the work of the BCBS and providing transparent and comprehensive updates on developments in the BCBS discussions; calls for this role to be given stronger visibility during ECOFIN meetings and for enhanced accountability to Parliament’s ECON Committee, with a regular de-brief by the EU representatives party to the discussions;

21.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Commission.

(1) http://www.bis.org/bcbs/publ/d344.pdf
(2) https://www.bis.org/bcbs/publ/d387.htm
(3) http://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/press/press-releases/2016/07/12-conclusions-banking-reform/
(4) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0093.
(5) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0006.
(6) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0108.


Implementation of the Common Security and Defence Policy
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European Parliament resolution of 23 November 2016 on the implementation of the Common Security and Defence Policy (based on the Annual Report from the Council to the European Parliament on the Common Foreign and Security Policy) (2016/2067(INI))
P8_TA(2016)0440A8-0317/2016

The European Parliament,

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

–  having regard to Articles 42(6) and 46 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU) on establishing permanent structured cooperation,

–  having regard to the Annual Report from the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (VP/HR) to the European Parliament on the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) (13026/2016), in particular the parts concerning the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP),

–  having regard to Articles 2 and 3 and to Title V of the Treaty on European Union, and in particular to Articles 21, 36, 42(2), 42(3) and 42(7) thereof,

–  having regard to the Council conclusions on the Common Security and Defence Policy of 25 November 2013, 18 November 2014, 18 May 2015, 27 June 2016 and 17 October 2016,

–  having regard to the European Council conclusions of 20 December 2013 and 26 June 2015,

–  having regard to its resolutions of 21 May 2015 on the implementation of the Common Security and Defence Policy(1), of 21 May 2015 on the impact of developments in European defence markets on the security and defence capabilities in Europe(2), of 11 June 2015 on the strategic military situation in the Black Sea Basin following the illegal annexation of Crimea by Russia(3), of 13 April 2016 on the EU in a changing global environment – a more connected, contested and complex world(4), and of 7 June 2016 on Peace Support Operations – EU engagement with the UN and the African Union(5),

–  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 VP/HR Federica Mogherini on 28 June 2016,

–  having regard to the Implementation Plan on Security and Defence presented by VP/HR Federica Mogherini on 14 November 2016 and to the Council conclusions of 14 November 2016 on implementing the EU global strategy in the area of security and defence,

–  having regard to the Joint Communication by the High Representative and the Commission of 6 April 2016 on countering hybrid threats (JOIN(2016)0018) and the relevant Council conclusions of 19 April 2016,

–  having regard to the Joint Communication by the High Representative and the Commission of 28 April 2015 on capacity building in support of security and development (JOIN(2015)0017) and the Commission’s proposal of 5 July 2016 for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Regulation (EU) No 230/2014 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 March 2014 establishing an instrument contributing to stability and peace (COM(2016)0447),

–  having regard to the Joint Communication by the High Representative and the Commission of 5 July 2016 on elements for an EU-wide strategic framework to support security sector reform (JOIN(2016)0031),

–  having regard to the Council conclusions on the Mission Support Platform of 18 April 2016,

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 28 April 2015 entitled ‘The European Agenda on Security’ (COM(2015)0185),

–  having regard to the ‘Renewed European Union Internal Security Strategy’ for the period 2015-2020 and the related Council conclusions of 15-16 June 2015,

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 20 April 2016 entitled ‘Delivering on the European Agenda on Security to fight against terrorism and pave the way towards an effective and genuine Security Union’ (COM(2016)0230),

–  having regard to the Joint Communication by the High Representative and the Commission of 11 December 2013 on the EU’s comprehensive approach to external conflict and crises (JOIN(2013)0030) and the related Council conclusions of 12 May 2014,

–  having regard to its resolution of 22 November 2012 on cyber security and defence(6); having regard to the Joint Communication by the High Representative and the Commission of 7 February 2013 on ‘Cybersecurity Strategy of the European Union: An Open, Safe and Secure Cyberspace’ (JOIN(2013)0001); having regard to the Council’s EU Cyber Defence Policy Framework of 18 November 2014,

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 5 July 2016 entitled ‘Strengthening Europe’s Cyber Resilience System and Fostering a Competitive and Innovative Cybersecurity Industry’ (COM(2016)0410),

–  having regard to the Technical Arrangement between the NATO Computer Incident Response Capability (NCIRC) and the Computer Emergency Response Team – European Union (CERT-EU), signed on 10 February 2016, that facilitates increased information sharing on cyber incidents,

–  having regard to the EU-NATO Joint Declaration signed on 8 July 2016 in the context of the NATO Warsaw Summit 2016 (Joint declaration by the President of the European Council, the President of the European Commission, and the Secretary-General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation),

–  having regard to the Warsaw Summit Communiqué issued by the Heads of State and Government participating in the meeting of the North Atlantic Council in Warsaw on 8-9 July 2016,

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

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Foreign Affairs (A8-0317/2016),

The strategic context

1.  Notes that the European security environment has deteriorated considerably, becoming more fluid, more complex, more dangerous and less predictable; notes that threats are both conventional and hybrid, generated by both state and non-state actors, and coming from the south and the east, and that they affect the Member States differently;

2.  Recalls that the security of the EU Member States is deeply interconnected, and notes that they react to common threats and risks in an uncoordinated and fragmented way, thus complicating and often hampering a more common approach; emphasises that this lack of coordination constitutes one of the vulnerabilities of the Union’s action; notes that Europe lacks the resilience to effectively tackle hybrid threats, which often have a cross-border dimension;

3.  Considers that Europe is now compelled to react to an arc of increasingly complex crises: from West Africa, through the Sahel, the Horn of Africa and the Middle East, East Ukraine and to the Caucasus; considers that the EU should increase dialogue and cooperation with third countries from the region, as well as regional and sub-regional organisations; stresses that the EU should be prepared to deal with structural changes in the international security landscape and with challenges that include interstate conflicts, state collapse and cyber-attacks, as well as with the security implications of climate change;

4.  Notes with concern that terrorism carried out by radical Islamist organisations and individuals is targeting Europe on an unprecedented scale, bringing the European way of life under pressure; underlines that, as a consequence, the security of the individual has become paramount, eroding the traditional distinction between its external and internal dimensions;

5.  Calls on the EU to adapt to these security challenges, in particular by using the existing CSDP tools more efficiently, in coherence with other external and internal instruments; calls for better cooperation and coordination between Member States, especially in the field of counter-terrorism;

6.  Calls for a strong preventive policy based on comprehensive deradicalisation programmes; notes that it is also essential to be more active in combating radicalisation and terrorist propaganda, both within the EU and in the EU’s external relations; calls on the Commission to take action to tackle the distribution of extremist content online and to promote more active judicial cooperation between criminal justice systems, including Eurojust, in the fight against radicalisation and terrorism in all Member States;

7.  Notes that for the first time since the World War II borders in Europe have been changed by force; underlines the detrimental impact of military occupation on the security of Europe as a whole; reiterates that any border change in Ukraine brought about by force is inconsistent with the principles of the Helsinki Final Act and the United Nations Charter;

8.  Highlights that according to Eurobarometer 85.1, published in June 2016, approximately two thirds of EU citizens would like to see greater EU engagement in matters of security and defence policy;

9.  Takes the view that a more unified and therefore more effective European Foreign and Security Policy can make a decisive contribution to reducing the intensity of the armed clashes in Iraq and Syria, and to eliminating the self-styled Islamic State;

A revised and more robust CSDP

10.  Is firmly convinced that, as a result, a thorough and substantial revision of the CSDP is needed in order to enable the EU and its Member States to contribute in a decisive way to the security of the Union, to the management of international crises and to asserting the EU’s strategic autonomy; recalls that no country can face the current security challenges on its own;

11.  Believes that a successful revision of the CSDP will have to fully integrate the EU Member States in the process from the very beginning in order to avoid the risk of deadlocks in the future; emphasises the practical and financial benefits of further cooperation for the development of European defence capabilities, and notes the ongoing initiatives, which should be followed through with concrete measures at the December 2016 European Council on Defence; calls also on the Member States and the EU for appropriate investment in security and defence;

12.  Emphasises that the establishment of permanent structured cooperation (Article 42(6) TEU) will make it possible to develop self-defence or a permanent structure for self-defence which can strengthen crisis management operations;

13.  Underlines that, as Europe is no longer in full control of its security environment, choosing the time and place of action, the EU, through CSDP missions and operations as well as other relevant instruments, should be able to intervene across the whole spectrum of crisis management, including crisis prevention and crisis resolution, thus encompassing all stages of the conflict cycle, as well as fully participating in keeping Europe secure and ensuring the common security and defence of the entire area of freedom, security and justice; encourages the European Council to start developing the common security and defence policy into a common defence as provided for in Article 42(2) TEU; is of the opinion that one of the CSDP’s important objectives should be that of strengthening the EU’s resilience;

14.  Welcomes the roadmap on CSDP presented by the VP/HR with a concrete timetable and steps; welcomes the fact that this roadmap complements the forthcoming European Defence Action Plan; underlines the need to reinforce the military component of the CSDP; strongly supports that Member States coordinate investment in security and defence, as well as increasing financial support for defence research at EU level;

15.  Underlines equally that the CSDP should be based on a strong collective defence principle and efficient financing and that it should be implemented in coordination with international institutions in the field of security and defence, and in full complementarity with NATO; considers that the EU should encourage the Member States to meet NATO capacity goals, which require a minimum level of defence spending of 2 % of GDP, as reaffirmed at the Wales and Warsaw Summits;

16.  Recalls that conflicts and crises in Europe and around are happening in both physical and cyber space, and underlines that cyber security and cyber defence must therefore be integrated as the core elements of the CSDP and fully mainstreamed throughout all the EU’s internal and external policies;

17.  Welcomes the presentation by the VP/HR of the Global Strategy for the European Union’s Foreign and Security Policy (EUGS) as a necessary and positive development for the institutional framework in which the CFSP and the CSDP will operate and develop; regrets the low involvement of Member States in preparing the EUGS;

18.  Stresses that strong commitment, ownership and support on the part of the Member States and national parliaments, in close cooperation with all relevant EU bodies, are needed in order to ensure the rapid and effective implementation of the EUGS’s political level of ambition, priorities and comprehensive approach in the form of an EU White Book on Security and Defence preceded by the Implementation Plan on Security and Defence; highlights the close link of the Implementation Plan with the wider implementation of the EUGS, with the forthcoming Commission European Defence Action Plan and with the implementation of the Joint EU-NATO Declaration signed in Warsaw; welcomes the ongoing work of the VP/HR and of the Member States in the implementation process; underlines the fact that the appropriate resources need to be allocated for the implementation of the EUGS and for an effective and more robust CSDP;

19.  Considers the development of a sectoral strategy a necessary follow-up to the EUGS – to be agreed and presented by the European Council – which should further specify the civil and military levels of ambition, tasks, requirements and capability priorities; reiterates its previous calls for the development of a European Defence White Book and urges the Council to prepare this document without delay; expresses its concern that the suggested implementation plan on security and defence remains far behind parliamentary and public expectations; reiterates the indivisibility of the security of all European Union Member States;

20.  Notes the European Security Compact proposed by the foreign affairs ministers of Germany and France, and supports inter alia the idea of a common analysis of Europe’s strategic environment, making threat assessment a periodical common activity, and thus obtaining respect for each other’s concerns and support for common capabilities and common action; also welcomes other Member States’ recent initiatives on the development of the CSDP; notes with regret, however, the lack of self-assessment of Member States’ inactivity in implementing previous European commitments in the defence area;

21.  Observes that, to this effect, cooperation with similar NATO activities is needed; emphasises that a serious commitment and an increased and more efficient exchange of intelligence and information between the Member States are indispensable;

22.  Notes that, as internal and external security are becoming more and more integrated and the distinction between physical and cyber space harder to define, integration of their respective inventories is also becoming necessary, empowering the EU to act along the entire spectrum of instruments up to the level of Article 42(7) of the Treaty on European Union;

The CSDP and the integrated approach to crises

23.  Stresses the importance of creating a permanent EU headquarters for civilian and military CSDP missions and operations, from where an integrated operational staff would support the entire planning cycle, from the initial political concept to detailed plans; stresses that this would not be a replication of NATO structures, but instead would constitute the necessary institutional arrangement to strengthen CSDP missions and operations planning and conduction capabilities;

24.  Highlights the contribution of CSDP missions and operations, including border assistance, capacity-building, military training missions and naval operations, to international peace and stability;

25.  Finds it regrettable that the CSDP missions and operations have continued to be dogged by structural weaknesses, jeopardising their efficiency; considers that they should be genuine tools and could be better integrated into the EUGS;

26.  Notes in this regard the level of political ambition set by the EUGS for an integrated approach to conflicts and crises as regards the engagement of the Union at all stages of the conflict cycle through prevention, resolution and stabilisation, as well as the commitment to avoid premature disengagement; considers that the EU should coherently support the Member States involved in the coalition against the self-styled Islamic State by setting up a CSDP operation, focused on training, in Iraq;

27.  Welcomes the idea of ‘regionalised’ CSDP missions present in the Sahel, notably because it corresponds to the will of countries in the sub-region to increase cooperation in the field of security through the G5 Sahel platform; is convinced that this could represent an opportunity to strengthen the efficiency and the relevance of the CSDP missions (EUCAP Sahel Mali and EUCAP Sahel Niger) present in the field; strongly believes that this concept of ‘regionalisation’ must rely on field expertise, definite objectives and the means to achieve them, and should not be defined only under the impetus of political considerations;

28.  Underlines that all Council decisions on future missions and operations should prioritise engagement in conflicts directly affecting EU security or the security of partners and regions where the EU has the role of security provider; considers that the decision to engage should be based on a common analysis and understanding of the strategic environment and on shared strategic interests of the Member States, bearing in mind the actions of other allies and organisations such as the UN and NATO; considers that CSDP capacity-building missions must be coordinated with security sector reform and rule of law work by the Commission;

29.  Notes the Commission’s proposal to amend Regulation (EU) No 230/2014 (establishing an Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace) in order to extend the Union’s assistance to equipping military actors in partner countries, considering this an indispensable contribution to their resilience, which will diminish their chances of once again becoming the object of conflict and sanctuaries for hostile activities against the EU; stresses that this should be done in exceptional circumstances, as outlined in Article 3a of the aforementioned proposal to amend Regulation (EU) No 230/2014, in order to contribute to sustainable development, good governance and the rule of law; in this context, encourages the EEAS and the Commission to speed up the implementation of the CBSD initiative to improve the effectiveness and sustainability of CSDP missions;

30.  Underlines the need also to identify other financial instruments to enhance partners’ capacity-building in the security and defence field; calls on the EEAS and the Commission to ensure full coherence and coordination in order to achieve the best results and to avoid duplication on the ground;

31.  Notes, to that end, that the Petersberg tasks should be revised and the Battlegroups should become an employable military instrument as soon as possible through increased modularity and more functional financing; notes that the lack of a constructive attitude among Member States continues to constitute a political and operational impediment to the deployment of Battlegroups; urges the Council to initiate the setting-up of the start-up fund (provided for in Article 41(3) TEU) with a view to urgent financing of the initial phases of military operations;

32.  Calls for more flexibility in the EU’s financial rules, in order to support its ability to respond to crises, and for the implementation of existing Lisbon Treaty provisions; calls for a revision of the Athena mechanism in order to extend its scope to all costs related, first, to rapid reaction operations and deployment of the EU Battlegroups, and then to all military operations;

Collaboration with NATO and other partners

33.  Recalls that NATO and the EU share the same strategic interests and face the same challenges to the east and the south; notes the relevance of the mutual defence clause, Article 42(7), for the EU Member States, whether members of NATO or not; notes that the EU should be able, using its own means, to protect EU non-NATO-members to the same extent; notes the EUSG’s objective of an appropriate level of EU strategic autonomy, and underlines that the two organisations need to have complementarity of their means; considers that the EU’s ‘strategic autonomy’ should reinforce Europe’s capacity to promote security within and beyond its borders, as well as strengthening the partnership with NATO and transatlantic relations;

34.  Considers that the bedrock of close and effective EU-NATO cooperation is provided by the complementarity and compatibility of their missions and, consequently, of their inventories of instruments; stresses that relations between the two organisations should continue to be cooperative and not competitive; considers that the EU should encourage Member States to meet NATO capacity goals, which requires a minimum level of defence spending of 2 % of GDP;

35.  Underlines that NATO is best equipped for deterrence and defence, and is ready to implement collective defence (Article V of the Washington Treaty) in the case of aggression against one of its members, while the CSDP has its current focus on peace-keeping, conflict prevention and strengthening international security (Article 42 TEU) and the EU has additional means to deal with challenges to the internal security of the Member States, including subversion, which are not covered by Article V; reiterates that the ‘solidarity clause’ in Article 222 TFEU is intended to ensure protection of democratic institutions and the civilian population in the event of a terrorist attack;

36.  Welcomes the recent Joint Declaration signed by the EU with NATO in Warsaw and fully supports the fields of collaboration mentioned therein; notes that the declaration describes well-established informal practices rather than bringing EU-NATO cooperation to a new level; underlines the need especially to deepen cooperation and further complement capacity-building with regard to hybrid and cyber threats and research; welcomes the declared goal of the Bratislava Roadmap to start implementing the Joint Declaration immediately;

37.  Fully supports further enhancing cooperation on security and defence with other institutional partners, including the UN, the African Union and the OSCE, as well as strategic bilateral partners, particularly the US, in areas such as hybrid threats, maritime security, rapid reaction, counterterrorism and cyber security;

European defence cooperation

38.  Considers that the development of a stronger defence industry would strengthen the strategic autonomy and technological independence of the EU; is convinced that enhancing the EU’s status as a security provider in Europe’s neighbourhood needs adequate, sufficient capabilities and a competitive, efficient and transparent defence industry ensuring a sustainable supply chain; notes that the European defence sector is characterised by fragmentation and duplication, which need to be gradually eliminated via a process providing incentives and rewards to all national components and taking account of the longer-term perspective of an integrated defence market;

39.  Regrets the fact that the Policy Framework for Systematic and Long-Term Defence Cooperation has not yet been implemented by the Member States with the necessary commitment and that the pooling and sharing initiative has not led to tangible results; calls on the Council to introduce regular biannual defence debates to provide strategic guidance and political impetus for the CSDP and European defence cooperation;

40.  Underlines the need to further deepen cyber defence cooperation and to ensure full cyber-resilience of CSDP missions; urges the Council to incorporate cyber defence as an integral part of its defence debates; sees a strong need for national cyber defence strategies; calls on the Member States to take full use of cyber capacity building measures under the responsibility of the European Defence Agency (EDA) and to make use of the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence (CCDCOE);

41.  Notes that all Member States have difficulty in maintaining a very broad range of fully operational 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;

42.  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;

43.  Recalls that a robust European defence technological and industrial base, which includes facilities for SMEs, is a fundamental underpinning of the CSDP and a prerequisite for a common market, which will allow the EU to build its strategic autonomy;

44.  Notes with regret that Member States apply Directive 2009/81/EC on defence and security procurement and Directive 2009/43/EC on intra-European Union transfers of defence-related products to totally different extents; calls on the Commission in consequence to apply the guidance note on Article 346, and to assume its role as guardian of the Treaties by starting to implement infringement proceedings in the event of violations of the directives; calls on the Member States to improve multinational efforts on the demand side of military procurement, and on European industries on the supplier side to strengthen their global market positions through better coordination and industrial consolidation;

45.  Is concerned at the steady decline in defence research funding across the Member States, which is putting at risk the industrial and technological base and, consequently, Europe’s strategic autonomy; calls on the Member States to supply their armies with equipment manufactured by the European defence industry, rather than by industrial competitors;

46.  Is convinced that enhancing the role of the EDA in coordinating capability-driven programmes, projects and activities, would benefit an efficient CSDP; considers that the EDA should be supported in fulfilling its objectives to the full, including in particular its upcoming priorities and roles in the context of the European Defence Action Plan (EDAP) and the European Defence Research Programme (EDRP); calls, therefore, on the Member States to review the organisation, procedures and activities of the Agency, opening more options for further cooperation and integration; calls on the Member States to give guidelines to the EDA on coordinating a review of the Capability Development Plan, in line with the EUGS and the sectorial strategy;

47.  Stresses that cyber security 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 the European Parliament has repeatedly called for a thorough revision of the EU dual-use export regulation to prevent software and other systems which can be used against EU digital infrastructure and to violate human rights from falling into the wrong hands; calls for the EU to defend in international forums – including, but not limited to, internet governance forums – the principle that the internet’s core infrastructure should be a neutral zone in which governments, pursuing their national interests, are prohibited from interfering;

48.  Supports the Commission’s defence-related initiatives such as the Defence Action Plan and the Defence Industrial Policy, which should start after the presentation of an EU White Book on Security and Defence; supports further involvement of the Commission in defence, through extensive and well-focused research, planning and implementation; welcomes the Preparatory Action for CSDP-related research and asks for adequate funding for the remainder of the current multiannual financial framework (MFF); supports the development of an EU Defence Research Programme under the next MFF (2021-2027);

49.  Considers that a future EU Defence Research Programme should finance research projects from priority areas to be agreed by Member States and that a European Defence Fund could support the financing of capabilities commonly agreed by Member States and with recognised EU added value;

50.  Calls for European law to be reformed to allow European defence industries to benefit from the same state aids as those enjoyed by US industries;

o
o   o

51.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the President of the European Council, the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the Council, the Commission, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, the Secretary-General of NATO, the President of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, the Chairman-in-Office of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), and the President of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly.

(1) OJ C 353, 27.9.2016, p. 59.
(2) OJ C 353, 27.9.2016, p. 74.
(3) OJ C 407, 4.11.2016, p. 74.
(4) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0120.
(5) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0249.
(6) OJ C 419, 16.12.2015, p. 145.


EU strategic communication to counteract anti-EU propaganda by third parties
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European Parliament resolution of 23 November 2016 on EU strategic communication to counteract propaganda against it by third parties (2016/2030(INI))
P8_TA(2016)0441A8-0290/2016

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its resolution of 2 April 2009 on European conscience and totalitarianism(1),

–  having regard to the Strasbourg/Kehl Summit Declaration of 4 April 2009 adopted on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of NATO,

–  having regard to its resolution of 11 December 2012 on a Digital Freedom Strategy in EU Foreign Policy(2),

–  having regard to the Foreign Affairs Council conclusions on counter-terrorism of 9 February 2015,

–  having regard to the European Council conclusions of 19 and 20 March 2015,

–  having regard to the Council conclusions on the EU Regional Strategy for Syria and Iraq as well as the ISIL/Daesh threat of 16 March 2015, which were reconfirmed by the Foreign Affairs Council on 23 May 2016,

–  having regard to the report of 18 May 2015 of the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (VP/HR) entitled ‘The European Union in a changing global environment – A more connected, contested and complex world’, and to the ongoing work on a new EU Global Security Strategy,

–  having regard to its resolution of 10 June 2015 on the state of EU-Russia relations(3),

–  having regard to the EU Action Plan on Strategic Communication (Ref. Ares(2015)2608242 – 22.6.2015),

–  having regard to its resolution of 9 July 2015 on the review of the European Neighbourhood Policy(4),

–  having regard to the NATO Wales Summit Declaration of 5 September 2014,

–  having regard to its resolution of 25 November 2015 on the prevention of radicalisation and recruitment of European citizens by terrorist organisations(5),

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

–  having regard to the Joint Communication of the Commission and the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy to the European Parliament and the Council of 6 April 2016 entitled ‘Joint framework on countering hybrid threats: a European Union response’ (JOIN(2016)0018),

–  having regard to the Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the European Council and the Council of 20 April 2016 on delivering on the European Agenda on Security to fight against terrorism and pave the way towards an effective and genuine Security Union (COM(2016)0230),

–  having regard to the European Endowment for Democracy feasibility study on Russian Language Media Initiatives in the Eastern Partnership and Beyond, entitled ‘Bringing Plurality and Balance to the Russian Language Media Space’,

–  having regard to the Report of the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism (A/HRC/31/65),

–  having regard to General Comment No 34 of the UN Human Rights Committee (CCPR/C/GC/34),

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Foreign Affairs and the opinion of the Committee on Culture and Education (A8-0290/2016),

A.  whereas the EU has committed to guiding its actions on the international scene in compliance with principles such as democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, as well as media freedom, access to information, freedom of expression and media pluralism, the last of which can, nevertheless, be limited to a certain extent as stipulated in international law, including in the European Convention on Human Rights; whereas third-party actors aiming to discredit the Union do not share the same values;

B.  whereas the EU, its Member States and citizens are under growing, systematic pressure to tackle information, disinformation and misinformation campaigns and propaganda from countries and non-state actors, such as transnational terrorist and criminal organisations in its neighbourhood, which are intended to undermine the very notion of objective information or ethical journalism, casting all information as biased or as an instrument of political power, and which also target democratic values and interests;

C.  whereas media freedom, access to information and freedom of expression are the basic pillars of a democratic system, in which the transparency of media ownership and the sources of financing of media are of the utmost importance; whereas strategies to ensure quality journalism, media pluralism and fact-checking can only be effective as long as information providers enjoy trust and credibility; whereas, at the same time, there should be a critical assessment of how to deal with media sources that have a proven record of having repeatedly engaged in a strategy of deliberate deception and disinformation, especially in the ‘new media’, social networks and the digital sphere;

D.  whereas information warfare is a historical phenomenon as old as warfare itself; whereas targeted information warfare was extensively used during the Cold War, and has since been an integral part of modern hybrid warfare, which is a combination of military and non-military measures of a covert and overt nature, deployed to destabilise the political, economic and social situation of a country under attack, without a formal declaration of war, targeting not only partners of the EU, but also the EU itself, its institutions and all Member States and citizens irrespective of their nationality and religion;

E.  whereas with Russia’s annexation of Crimea and the Russian-led hybrid war in the Donbass, the Kremlin has escalated the confrontation with the EU; whereas the Kremlin has stepped up its propaganda, with Russia playing an enhanced role in the European media environment aimed at creating political support in European public opinion for Russian action and undermining the coherence of the EU foreign policy;

F.  whereas propaganda for war and any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence is prohibited by law in accordance with Article 20 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights;

G.  whereas the financial crisis and the advance of new forms of digital media have posed serious challenges for quality journalism, leading to a decrease in critical thinking among audiences, thus making them more susceptible to disinformation and manipulation;

H.  whereas the propaganda and the intrusion of Russian media is particularly strong and often unmatched in the countries of the Eastern neighbourhood; whereas national media in these countries are often weak and not able to cope with the strength and the power of Russian media;

I.  whereas information and communications warfare technologies are being employed in order to legitimise actions threatening EU Member States’ sovereignty, political independence, the security of their citizens and their territorial integrity;

J.  whereas the EU does not recognise ISIL/Daesh as a state or an organisation similar to a state;

K.  whereas ISIL/Daesh, Al-Qaeda and many other violent jihadi terrorist groups systematically use communication strategies and direct propaganda both offline and online as part of the justification of their actions against the EU and the Member States and against European values, and also with the aim of boosting recruitment of young Europeans;

L.  whereas following the NATO Strasbourg/Kehl Summit Declaration stressing the increasing importance for NATO to communicate in an appropriate, timely, accurate and responsive manner on its evolving roles, objectives and missions, the NATO Strategic Communications Centre of Excellence (NATO StratCom COE) was established in Latvia in 2014, which was welcomed in the NATO Wales Summit Declaration;

EU strategic communication to counteract propaganda against it by third parties

1.  Underlines that hostile propaganda against the EU comes in many different forms and uses various tools, often tailored to match EU Member States’ profiles, with the goal of distorting truths, provoking doubt, dividing Member States, engineering a strategic split between the European Union and its North American partners and paralysing the decision-making process, discrediting the EU institutions and transatlantic partnerships, which play a recognised role in the European security and economic architecture, in the eyes and minds of EU citizens and of citizens of neighbouring countries, and undermining and eroding the European narrative based on democratic values, human rights and the rule of law; recalls that one of the most important tools used is incitement of fear and uncertainty in EU citizens, as well as presenting hostile state and non-state actors as much stronger than they are in reality;

2.  Calls on the EU institutions to recognise that strategic communication and information warfare is not only an external EU issue but also an internal one, and voices its concern at the number of hostile propaganda multipliers existing within the Union; is concerned about the limited awareness amongst some of its Member States that they are audiences and arenas of propaganda and disinformation; in this regard, calls on the EU actors to address the current lack of clarity and agreement on what is to be considered propaganda and disinformation, to develop in cooperation with media representatives and experts from the EU Member States a shared set of definitions and to compile data and facts about the consumption of propaganda;

3.  Notes that disinformation and propaganda are part of hybrid warfare; highlights, therefore, the need to raise awareness and demonstrate assertiveness through institutional/political communication, think tank/academia research, social media campaigns, civil society initiatives, media literacy and other useful actions;

4.  Stresses that the strategy of anti-EU propaganda and disinformation by third countries may take various forms and involve, in particular, traditional media, social networks, school programmes and political parties, both within and beyond the European Union;

5.  Notes the multi-layered character of current EU strategic communications at various levels, including the EU institutions, the Member States, various NATO and UN bodies, NGOs and civic organisations, and calls for the best possible coordination and information exchange between these parties; calls for more cooperation and exchange of information between various parties that have voiced concern at these propaganda efforts and wish to draw up strategies for countering disinformation; believes that, in the EU context, Union institutions should be tasked with such coordination;

6.  Recognises that the EU must consider its strategic communication efforts as a priority, which should involve relevant resources; reiterates that the EU is a successful model of integration which continues, amid crisis, to attract countries wanting to replicate this model and become part of it; underlines, therefore, that the EU needs to put out its positive message about its successes, values and principles with determination and courage, and that it needs to be offensive in its narrative, not defensive;

Recognising and exposing Russian disinformation and propaganda warfare

7.  Notes with regret that Russia uses contacts and meetings with EU counterparts for propaganda purposes and to publicly weaken the EU’s joint position, rather than for establishing a real dialogue;

8.  Recognises that the Russian Government is employing a wide range of tools and instruments, such as think tanks and special foundations (e.g. Russkiy Mir), special authorities (Rossotrudnichestvo), multilingual TV stations (e.g. RT), pseudo news agencies and multimedia services (e.g. Sputnik), cross-border social and religious groups, as the regime wants to present itself as the only defender of traditional Christian values, social media and internet trolls to challenge democratic values, divide Europe, gather domestic support and create the perception of failed states in the EU’s eastern neighbourhood; stresses that Russia invests relevant financial resources in its disinformation and propaganda instruments engaged either directly by the state or through Kremlin-controlled companies and organisations; underlines that, on the one hand, the Kremlin is funding political parties and other organisations within the EU with the intent of undermining political cohesion, and that, on the other hand, Kremlin propaganda directly targets specific journalists, politicians and individuals in the EU;

9.  Recalls that security and intelligence services conclude that Russia has the capacity and intention to conduct operations aimed at destabilising other countries; points out that this often takes the form of support to political extremists and large-scale disinformation and mass media campaigns; notes, furthermore, that such media companies are present and active in the EU;

10.  Points out that the Kremlin’s information strategy is complementary to its policy of stepping up bilateral relations, economic cooperation and joint projects with individual EU Member States in order to weaken EU coherence and undermine EU policies;

11.  Argues that Russian strategic communication is part of a larger subversive campaign to weaken EU cooperation and the sovereignty, political independence and territorial integrity of the Union and its Member States; urges Member State governments to be vigilant towards Russian information operations on European soil and to increase capacity sharing and counterintelligence efforts aimed at countering such operations;

12.  Expresses its strong criticism of Russian efforts to disrupt the EU integration process and deplores, in this respect, Russian backing of anti-EU forces in the EU with regard, in particular, to extreme-right parties, populist forces and movements that deny the basic values of liberal democracies;

13.  Is seriously concerned by the rapid expansion of Kremlin-inspired activities in Europe, including disinformation and propaganda seeking to maintain or increase Russia’s influence to weaken and split the EU; stresses that a large part of the Kremlin’s propaganda is aimed at describing some European countries as belonging to ‘Russia’s traditional sphere of influence’; notes that one of its main strategies is to circulate and impose an alternative narrative, often based on a manipulated interpretation of historical events and aimed at justifying its external actions and geopolitical interests; notes that falsifying history is one of its main strategies; in this respect, notes the need to raise awareness of the crimes of communist regimes through public campaigns and educational systems and to support research and documentation activities, especially in the former members of the Soviet bloc, to counter the Kremlin narrative;

14.  Stresses that Russia is exploiting the absence of a legal international framework in areas such as cybersecurity and the lack of accountability in media regulation, and is turning any ambiguity in these matters in its favour; underlines that aggressive Russian activities in the cyber domain facilitate information warfare; calls on the Commission and the European External Action Service (EEAS) to pay attention to the role of Internet Exchange Points as critical infrastructure in the EU’s security strategy; underlines the crucial need to ensure resilience of the information systems at EU and Member State level, especially against denials and disruptions that can play a central role in hybrid conflict and countering propaganda, and to closely cooperate in this regard with NATO, especially with the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence;

15.  Invites the Member States to develop coordinated strategic communication mechanisms to support attribution and counter disinformation and propaganda in order to expose hybrid threats;

Understanding and tackling ISIL/Daesh’s information warfare, disinformation and radicalisation methods

16.  Is aware of the range of strategies employed by ISIL/Daesh both regionally and globally to promote its political, religious, social, hateful and violent narratives; calls on the EU and its Member States to develop a counter-narrative to ISIL/Daesh involving the education system and including through the empowerment and increased visibility of mainstream Muslim scholars who have the credibility to delegitimise ISIL/Daesh propaganda; welcomes the efforts by the Global Coalition to counter ISIL/Daesh and in this regard supports the EU Regional Strategy for Syria and Iraq; urges the EU and the Member States to develop and disseminate a counter-narrative to jihadist propaganda, with particular emphasis on an educational dimension demonstrating how the promotion of radical Islam is theologically corrupt;

17.  Notes that Islamist terrorist organisations, especially ISIL/Daesh and Al-Qaeda, are engaged in active information campaigns with the aim of undermining and increasing the level of hatred against European values and interests; is concerned about the widespread use by ISIL/Daesh of social media tools and especially Twitter and Facebook to advance its propaganda and recruitment objectives, especially among young people; in this regard, underlines the importance of including the counter-propaganda strategy against ISIL/Daesh in a broader, comprehensive regional strategy that combines diplomatic, socio-economic, development and conflict-prevention tools; welcomes the creation of a StratCom Task Force dedicated to the South, which has the potential to contribute effectively to the deconstruction and to the fight against ISIL/Daesh extremist propaganda and influence;

18.  Emphasises that the EU and European citizens are a major target for ISIL/Daesh and calls for the EU and its Member States to work more closely to protect society, in particular young people, from recruitment, thus enhancing their resilience against radicalisation; emphasises the need for more enhanced focus on improving EU tools and methods, mostly in the cyber area; encourages each Member State, working closely with the Radicalisation Awareness Network Centre of Excellence established in October 2015, to investigate and effectively address the underlying socio-demographic reasons that are at the root cause of vulnerability to radicalisation as well as institutional multi-dimensional arrangements (linking university research, prison administrations, the police, the courts, social services and education systems) to combat it; underlines that the Council has called for the promotion of criminal justice response measures to counter radicalisation leading to terrorism and violent extremism;

19.  Calls on the Member States to work on cutting ISIL/Daesh’s access to financing and funding and to promote this principle in the EU’s external action and stresses the need to expose ISIL/Daesh’s true nature and to repudiate its ideological legitimisation;

20.  Calls on the EU and its Member States to take consistent, EU-wide action against the hate speech being systematically promoted by intolerant, radical preachers through sermons, books, TV shows, the Internet and all other means of communication that create a fertile ground for terrorist organisations like ISIL/Daesh and Al-Qaeda to thrive;

21.  Underlines the importance for the EU and Member States of cooperating with social media service providers to counter ISIL/Daesh propaganda being spread through social media channels;

22.  Underlines that Islamist terrorist organisations, especially ISIL/Daesh and Al-Qaeda, are engaged in active disinformation campaigns with the aim of undermining European values and interests; highlights in this regard the importance of a specific strategy to counter Islamist anti-EU propaganda and disinformation;

23.  Stresses that unbiased, reliable and objective communication and flows of information based on facts concerning developments in EU countries would prevent the dissemination of propaganda fuelled by third parties;

EU strategy to counteract propaganda

24.  Welcomes the Action Plan on Strategic Communication; welcomes the joint communication on the ‘Joint Framework on countering hybrid threats’ and calls for the endorsement and implementation of its recommendations without delay; stresses that the actions proposed require the cooperation and coordination of all relevant actors at EU and national level; is of the opinion that only a comprehensive approach can lead to the success of EU efforts; calls on the Member States holding the rotating presidency of the EU to always include strategic communications as part of their programme in order to ensure continuity of work on this topic; welcomes the initiatives and achievements of the Latvian Presidency in this regard; calls on the VP/HR to ensure frequent communication at political level with the Member States in order to better coordinate EU actions; stresses that cooperation between the EU and NATO in the field of strategic communication should be substantially strengthened; welcomes the intention of the Slovak Presidency to organise a conference on totalitarianism on the occasion of the European Day of Remembrance for Victims of the Totalitarian Regimes;

25.  Requests that the competent EU institutions and authorities closely monitor the sources of financing of anti-European propaganda;

26.  Emphasises that more funding is necessary to support freedom of the media in the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) countries within the scope of EU democracy instruments; calls on the Commission in this respect to ensure the full exploitation of existing instruments such as the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR), the ENP, the Eastern Partnership Media Freedom Watch and the EED with regard to the protection of media freedom and pluralism;

27.  Notes the huge resources dedicated to propaganda activities by Russia and the possible impact of hostile propaganda on decision-making processes in the EU and the undermining of public trust, openness and democracy; commends the significant work accomplished by the EU Strategic Communication Task Force; calls therefore for the EU Strategic Communication Task Force to be reinforced by turning it into a fully fledged unit within the EEAS, responsible for the Eastern and Southern neighbourhoods, with proper staffing and adequate budgetary resources, possibly by y means of an additional dedicated budget line; calls for enhanced cooperation among the Member States’ intelligence services with a view to assessing the influence exerted by third countries seeking to undermine the democratic foundation and values of the EU; calls for closer cooperation between Parliament and the EEAS on strategic communication, including through the use of the Parliament’s analytical capacities and Information Offices in the Member States;

28.  Stresses that it is essential for the EU to continue to actively promote through its external actions respect for fundamental rights and freedoms; considers that supporting freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, the right to access information and the independence of the media in the neighbouring countries should underpin the EU’s actions in counteracting propaganda;

29.  Underlines the need to strengthen media plurality and the objectivity, impartiality and independence of the media within the EU and its neighbourhood, including non-state actors, inter alia through support for journalists and the development of capacity-building programmes for media actors, fostering information-exchange partnerships and networks, such as content-sharing platforms, media-related research, mobility and training opportunities for journalists and placements with EU-based media to facilitate exchanges of best practices;

30.  Highlights the important role of quality journalism education and training inside and outside the EU in order to produce quality journalistic analyses and high editorial standards; argues that promoting the EU values of freedom of the press and expression and media plurality includes supporting persecuted and imprisoned journalists and human rights defenders in third countries;

31.  Advocates stronger cooperation between the EU institutions, the European Endowment for Democracy (EED), the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the Council of Europe and the Member States in order to avoid duplication and ensure synergy in similar initiatives;

32.  Is dismayed at the major problems relating to the independence and freedom of the media in certain Member States, as reported by international organisations such as Reporters Without Borders; calls on the EU and the Member States to take appropriate measures to improve the existing situation in the media sector, with a view to ensuring that EU external action in support of freedom, impartiality and independence of the media is credible;

33.  Asks the Strategic Communication Task Force, thus reinforced as proposed and under the Twitter username @EUvsDisInfo, to establish an online space where the public at large can find a range of tools for identifying disinformation, with an explanation of how they work, and which can act as a relay for the many civil society initiatives focused on this issue;

34.  Affirms that an efficient communication strategy must include local communities in discussions about EU actions, provide support for people-to-people contact, and give proper consideration to cultural and social exchanges as key platforms for combating the prejudices of local populations; recalls that, in this regard, EU delegations must maintain direct contact with local grassroots stakeholders and representatives of civil society;

35.  Underlines that incitement of hatred, violence or war cannot ‘hide’ behind freedom of expression; encourages legal initiatives to be taken in this regard to provide more accountability when dealing with disinformation;

36.  Highlights the importance of communicating EU policies coherently and effectively, internally as well as externally, and of providing tailored communications to specific regions, including access to information in local languages; welcomes, in this context, the launch of the EEAS website in Russian as a first step in the right direction and encourages the translation of the EEAS website into more languages, such as Arabic and Turkish;

37.  Underlines the responsibility of Member States to be active, preventative, and cooperative in countering hostile information operations on their territories or aimed at undermining their interests; urges the governments of Member States to develop their own strategic communications capabilities;

38.  Calls on each Member State to make the EU Strategic Communication Task Force’s two weekly newsletters The Disinformation Digest and The Disinformation Review available to their citizens in order to create awareness among the general public of propaganda methods used by third parties;

39.  Insists on the difference between propaganda and criticism;

40.  Stresses that while not all criticism of the EU or its policies necessarily constitutes propaganda or disinformation, particularly when in the context of political expression, instances of manipulation or support linked to third countries and intended to fuel or exacerbate this criticism provide grounds to question the reliability of these messages;

41.  Stresses that while a stand has to be taken against anti-EU propaganda and disinformation by third countries, this should not cast doubt on the importance of maintaining constructive relations with third countries and making them strategic partners in tackling common challenges;

42.  Welcomes the adoption of the Action Plan on Strategic Communication and the establishment of the East StratCom Team within the European External Action Service (EEAS) with the aim of communicating EU policies and countering anti-EU propaganda and disinformation; calls for strategic communication to be further stepped up; believes that the efficiency and transparency of the work of the East StratCom Team needs to be further improved; invites the EEAS to develop criteria for measuring the efficiency of its work; highlights the importance of ensuring sufficient financing and adequate staffing of the East StratCom Team;

43.  Notes that the Disinformation Review published by the East StratCom Task Force has to meet the standards provided for in the IFJ Declaration of Principles on the Conduct of Journalists; emphasises that the review must be drafted in an appropriate manner, without using offensive language or value judgments; invites the East StratCom Task Force to revisit the criteria used for drafting the review;

44.  Believes that an efficient strategy to counteract anti-EU propaganda could be the adoption of measures to provide a target audience with adequate and interesting information about EU activities, European values and other issues of public interest, and underlines that modern technologies and social networks could be used for these purposes;

45.  Calls on the Commission to advance certain legal initiatives in order to be more effective and accountable in dealing with disinformation and propaganda and to use the midterm review of the European Neighbourhood Instrument to promote the strengthening of the resilience of the media as a strategic priority; calls on the Commission to conduct a thorough review of the efficiency of existing EU financial instruments and to come forward with a proposal for a comprehensive and flexible solution which can provide direct support to independent media outlets, think tanks and NGOs especially in the target group native language and enable the channelling of additional resources to organisations that have the ability to do so, such as the European Endowment for Democracy while curtailing financial flows aimed at financing individuals and entities engaged in stratcom activities, incitement to violence and hatred; calls on the Commission to conduct a thorough audit of the efficiency of certain big scale media projects funded by the EU, such as Euronews;

46.  Underlines the importance of awareness raising, education, online media and information literacy in the EU and in the Neighbourhood with a view to empowering citizens to critically analyse media content in order to identify propaganda; stresses in this sense the importance of strengthening knowledge on all levels of the educational system; points out the need for encouraging people to active citizenship and for developing their awareness as media consumers; underlines the central role of online tools, especially social media where the spread of false information and the launch of disinformation campaigns are easier and often face no hurdles; recalls that countering propaganda with propaganda is counterproductive, and therefore understands that the EU, as a whole, and the Member States, individually, can only fight propaganda by third parties by rebutting disinformation campaigns and making use of positive messaging and information and should develop a truly effective strategy which would be differentiated and adapted to the nature of the actors disseminating propaganda; recognises that the financial crisis and the advance of new forms of digital media have posed serious challenges for quality journalism;

47.  Expresses concern at the use of social media and online platforms for criminal hate speech and incitement to violence, and encourages the Member States to adapt and update legislation to address ongoing developments, or to fully implement and enforce existing legislation on hate speech, both offline and online; argues that greater collaboration is needed with online platforms and with leading internet and media companies;

48.  Calls on the Member States to provide and ensure the necessary framework for quality journalism and variety of information by combating media concentrations, which have a negative impact on media pluralism;

49.  Notes that media education provides knowledge and skills, and empowers citizens to exercise their right to freedom of expression, to critically analyse media content and to react to disinformation; highlights, therefore, the need to raise awareness of the risks of disinformation through media literacy actions at all levels, including through a European information campaign around media, journalistic and editorial ethics and by fostering better cooperation with social platforms and promoting joint initiatives to address hate speech, incitement to violence and online discrimination;

50.  Notes that no soft power strategy can succeed without cultural diplomacy and promotion of intercultural dialogue between and within countries, in the EU and beyond; encourages, therefore, long-term public and cultural diplomacy actions and initiatives, such as scholarships and exchange programmes for students and young professionals, including initiatives to support intercultural dialogue, strengthen cultural links with the EU and promote common cultural links and heritage, and the provision of proper training for staff of EU delegations and the EEAS to equip them with adequate intercultural skills;

51.  Believes that public media should set the example of how to provide impartial and objective information in compliance with the best practices and ethics of journalism;

52.  Underlines that particular attention should be paid to new technologies – including digital broadcasting, mobile communications, online media and social networks, including those of a regional character – which facilitate the dissemination of information about, and increased awareness of, the European values enshrined in the Treaties; recalls that such communications must be of a high standard, contain concrete best practices and highlight the EU’s impact on third countries, including EU humanitarian assistance as well as the opportunities and benefits that closer association and cooperation with the EU bring for the citizens of third countries, in particular for young people, such as visa-free travel or capacity-building, mobility and exchange programmes where applicable;

53.  Highlights the need to ensure that the new ENP portal – currently being developed in the framework of the OPEN Neighbourhood Programme – does not only accumulate content addressed to expert communities, but that it also contains a section customised for larger audiences; is of the opinion that the portal should contain a section on the Eastern Partnership, bringing together information on initiatives currently fragmented between numerous websites;

54.  Points to the potential of popular culture and entertainment-education (EE) as a means of articulating shared human values and communicating EU policies;

55.  Stresses its support for initiatives such as the Baltic Centre for Media Excellence in Riga, NATO Strategic Communications Centre of Excellence (NATO StratCom COE) or the Radicalisation Awareness Network Centre of Excellence; underlines the need for utilising their findings and analysis and strengthening EU analytical capabilities at all levels; calls for the Commission and the Member States to initiate similar projects, engage in the training of journalists, support independent media hubs and media diversity, encourage networking and cooperation between media and think tanks and exchange best practices and information in these areas;

56.  Condemns the regular crackdowns on the independent media, journalists and civil society activists in Russia and occupied territories, including Crimea since its illegal annexation; stresses that since 1999, dozens of journalists have been killed, disappeared without trace or have been imprisoned in Russia; calls on the Commission and Member States to reinforce the protection of journalists in Russia and in the EU’s Neighbourhood and to support Russian civil society and invest in people-to-people contacts; calls for the immediate release of journalists; notes that the EU is strengthening relations with its Eastern partners and other neighbours, and is also keeping the lines of communication with Russia open; recognises that the biggest obstacle to Russian disinformation campaigns would be the existence of independent and free media in Russia itself; considers that achieving this should be the goal of the EU; calls for special attention and sufficient resources to be provided for media pluralism, local media, investigative journalism and foreign language media, particularly in Russian, Arabic, Farsi, Turkish and Urdu as well as other languages spoken by populations vulnerable to propaganda;

57.  Supports communication campaigns carried out by relevant actors in Syria, Iraq and in the region (including in the countries of origin of foreign fighters) to discredit ISIL/Daesh’s ideology and denounce its violations of human rights, and to counter violent extremism and hate speech linked to other groups in the region; calls on the EU and its Member States, in their dialogue with MENA countries, to emphasise that good governance, accountability, transparency, the rule of law and respect for human rights are essential pre-requisites to protect these societies from the spread of intolerant and violent ideologies that inspire terrorist organisations such as ISIL/Daesh and Al-Qaeda; in the face of the growing terrorist threat from ISIL/Daesh and other international terrorist organisations, underlines the need to strengthen cooperation on security issues with countries, which have extensive experience in combating terrorism;

58.  Calls on the VP/HR and the Council to confirm the EU’s full support for the ongoing implementation process and to contribute financially to the realisation of the recommendations of the feasibility study on ‘Russian-language Media Initiatives in the Eastern Partnership and Beyond’, conducted the European Endowment for Democracy in 2015;

o
o   o

59.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, Member States, the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the EEAS and NATO.

(1) OJ C 137 E, 27.5.2010, p. 25.
(2) OJ C 434, 23.12.2015, p. 24.
(3) OJ C 407, 4.11.2016, p. 35.
(4) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0272.
(5) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0410.


Sign language and professional sign language interpreters
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European Parliament resolution of 23 November 2016 on sign languages and professional sign language interpreters (2016/2952(RSP))
P8_TA(2016)0442B8-1230/2016

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to Articles 2, 5, 9, 10, 19, 168 and 216(2) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) and Articles 2 and 21 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU),

–  having regard to the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU,

–  having regard to its resolutions of 17 June 1988 on sign languages for deaf people(1) and of 18 November 1998 on sign languages(2),

–  having regard to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and its entry into force in the EU on 21 January 2011 in accordance with Council Decision 2010/48/EC of 26 November 2009 concerning the conclusion, by the European Community, of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities(3),

–  having regard to its resolution of 7 July 2016 on the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, with special regard to the Concluding Observations of the UN CRPD Committee(4),

–  having regard to General Comment No 4 (2016) by the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities on the right to inclusive education(5),

–  having regard to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,

–  having regard to Council Directive 2000/78/EC of 27 November 2000 establishing a general framework for equal treatment in employment and occupation (‘Employment Equality Directive’)(6),

–  having regard to Directive 2005/36/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 7 September 2005 on the recognition of professional qualifications(7),

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

–  having regard to the European Youth Forum policy paper on equality and non-discrimination(9),

–  having regard to the proposal for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council of 2 December 2015 on the approximation of the laws, regulations and administrative provisions of the Member States as regards the accessibility requirements for products and services (COM(2015)0615),

–  having regard to the proposal for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council of 3 December 2012 on the accessibility of public sector bodies’ websites (COM(2012)0721),

–  having regard to Directive 2010/64/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 October 2010 on the right to interpretation and translation in criminal proceedings(10),

–  having regard to the Learning Outcomes and Assessment Guidelines of the European Forum of Sign Language Interpreters (efsli) for equal training opportunities for sign language interpreters and quality services for deaf citizens across the entire Union(11),

–  having regard to the efsli/EUD sign language interpreter guidelines for international/European level meetings(12),

–  having regard to the AIIC guidelines for spoken language interpreters working in mixed teams(13),

–  having regard to the efsli report on the rights to sign language interpreting services when working or studying abroad(14),

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

A.  whereas, as full citizens, all persons with disabilities, in particular women and children, including deaf and hard-of-hearing people, including those who use sign language and those who do not, have equal rights and are entitled to inalienable dignity, equal treatment, independent living, autonomy and full participation in society;

B.  whereas the TFEU requires the Union to combat discrimination based on disability when defining and implementing its policies and activities (Article 10) and gives it the power to adopt legislation to address such discrimination (Article 19);

C.  whereas Articles 21 and 26 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union explicitly prohibit discrimination on the grounds of disability and provide for equal participation of persons with disabilities in society;

D.  whereas there are approximately one million deaf sign language users in the EU(15) and 51 million hard-of-hearing citizens(16), many of whom are also sign language users;

E.  whereas national and regional sign languages are fully-fledged natural languages with their own grammar and syntax equal to spoken languages(17);

F.  whereas the EU’s multilingualism policy promotes foreign language learning and whereas one of its goals is for every European to speak two languages in addition to their mother tongue; whereas learning and promoting national and regional sign languages could support this goal;

G.  whereas accessibility is a precondition for persons with disabilities to live independently and participate fully and equally in society(18);

H.  whereas accessibility is not only limited to the physical accessibility of the environment but extends to the accessibility of information and communication, including in the form of the provision of content in sign language(19);

I.  whereas professional sign language interpreters are equal to spoken language interpreters in terms of assignments and mission tasks;

J.  whereas the situation of sign language interpreters is heterogeneous among the Member States, ranging from informal family support to professional university-educated and fully qualified interpreters;

K.  whereas there is a lack of qualified and professional sign language interpreters in all the Member States and whereas the ratio of sign language users to sign language interpreters varies between 8:1 and 2 500:1, with an average ratio of 160:1(20);

L.  whereas a petition(21) has been lodged requesting that Parliament allow petitions to be submitted in EU national and regional sign languages;

M.  whereas the Brussels Declaration on Sign Languages in the European Union(22) promotes a non-discriminatory approach to the use of a natural sign language, as required under the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which has been ratified by the EU and all EU Member States except one;

N.  whereas the level and quality of subtitling on public and private television differs considerably across the Member States, ranging from less than 10 % to almost 100 %, with highly varying standards of quality(23); whereas there is a lack of data in most Member States with regard to the level of sign language interpretation on television;

O.  whereas the development of new language technologies could benefit sign language users;

P.  whereas, according to the CRPD, the denial of reasonable accommodation constitutes discrimination and whereas, under the Employment Equality Directive, reasonable accommodation must be provided to guarantee compliance with the principle of equal treatment;

Q.  whereas there is currently no direct communication access for deaf, deafblind or hard-of-hearing citizens to Members of the European Parliament and administrators of the institutions of the European Union and, vice versa, to deaf or hard-of-hearing people from within the EU institutions;

Qualified and professional sign language interpreters

1.  Stresses the need for qualified and professional sign language interpreters, which can only be met on the basis of the following approach:

   (a) official recognition of national and regional sign language(s) in Member States and within EU institutions,
   (b) formal training (university or similar, equivalent to 3 years of full-time studies, corresponding to the training required of spoken language interpreters)(24),
   (c) registration (official accreditation and quality control system, such as continuing professional development),
   (d) formal recognition of the profession;

2.  Recognises that the delivery of high-quality sign language interpreting services:

   (a) is dependent on an objective quality assessment involving all stakeholders,
   (b) is based on professional qualifications,
   (c) involves expert representatives from the deaf community;
   (d) is dependent on sufficient resources to train and employ sign language interpreters;

3.  Recognises that sign language interpretation constitutes a professional service requiring appropriate remuneration;

Distinction between accessibility and reasonable accommodation(25)

4.  Appreciates that accessibility benefits certain groups and is based on a set of standards that are implemented gradually;

5.  Is aware that disproportionality or undue burden cannot be claimed to defend the failure to provide accessibility;

6.  Recognises that reasonable accommodation relates to an individual and is complementary to the accessibility duty;

7.  Notes also that an individual may request reasonable accommodation measures even if the accessibility duty has been fulfilled;

8.  Understands that the provision of sign language interpretation may constitute an accessibility measure or a reasonable accommodation measure, depending on the situation;

Accessibility

9.  Stresses that deaf, deafblind and hard-of-hearing citizens must have access to the same information and communication as their peers in the form of sign language interpretation, subtitling, speech-to-text and/or alternative forms of communication, including oral interpreters;

10.  Emphasises that public and government services, including their online content, must be made accessible via live intermediaries such as on-site sign language interpreters, but also alternative internet-based and remote services, where appropriate;

11.  Reiterates its commitment to making the political process as accessible as possible, including through the provision of professional sign language interpreters; notes that this includes elections, public consultations and other events, as appropriate;

12.  Stresses the increasing role of language technologies in providing equal access for all to the digital space;

13.  Recognises the importance of minimum standards to ensure accessibility, especially in view of new and emerging technologies, such as the provision of internet-based sign language interpreting and subtitling services;

14.  Notes that while the provision of health care is a Member State competence, it should cater for the needs of deaf, deafblind and hard-of-hearing patients, for example by providing professional sign language interpreters and staff awareness training, with particular attention to women and children;

15.  Acknowledges that equal access to justice for deaf, deafblind and hard-of-hearing citizens can only be ensured through the provision of appropriately qualified and professional sign language interpreters;

16.  Is aware of the importance of accurate and precise interpretation and translation services, especially in court and other legal settings; reiterates, therefore, the importance of specialised and highly qualified professional sign language interpreters, particularly in those settings;

17.  Stresses the need to increase support and specific provisions, such as sign language interpretation and accessible real-time text-based disaster information, for persons with disabilities in situations of armed conflict, humanitarian emergencies and natural disasters(26);

Employment, education and training

18.  Notes that reasonable accommodation measures, which include the provision of professional sign language interpreters, must be taken to ensure equal access to employment, education and training;

19.  Highlights that balanced and holistic information on sign language and what it means to be deaf must be provided so that parents can make informed choices in the best interest of their children;

20.  Stresses that early intervention programmes are crucial for children in the development of life skills, including language skills; notes, furthermore, that those programmes should ideally include deaf role models;

21.  Emphasises that deaf, deafblind and hard-of-hearing students and their parents must be provided with the opportunity to learn the national or regional sign language of their environment through pre-school services and in schools(27);

22.  Emphasises that sign language should be included in educational curricula in order to raise awareness and increase the use of sign language;

23.  Underlines that measures must be taken to recognise and promote the linguistic identity of deaf communities(28);

24.  Calls on the Member States to encourage the learning of sign language in the same way as foreign languages;

25.  Stresses that qualified sign language interpreters and teaching staff competent in sign language and equipped with the skills to work effectively in bilingual inclusive education environments form an essential part of deaf children’s and young adults’ academic achievement, resulting in higher educational outcomes and lower unemployment rates in the long term;

26.  Highlights the widespread lack of sign bilingual textbooks and learning materials in accessible formats and languages;

27.  Urges that the principle of freedom of movement for deaf, deafblind and hard-of-hearing people within the EU be guaranteed, especially in the context of Erasmus+ and related mobility programmes, by ensuring that participants are not disproportionately burdened with having to take care of their own interpreting arrangements;

28.  Welcomes the European Disability Card Pilot Project; regrets the exclusion of sign language interpretation in the project as this significantly hinders the freedom of movement of deaf, deafblind and hard-of-hearing workers and students within the EU;

European Union institutions

29.  Recognises that the EU institutions must represent best practice examples for their staff, elected officials and interns and vis-à-vis EU citizens regarding the provision of reasonable accommodation and accessibility, which includes the provision of sign language interpretation;

30.  Welcomes the fact that the EU institutions are already, on an ad hoc basis, providing for the accessibility of public events and committee meetings; takes the view that subtitling and speech-to-text should be considered an alternative but equal and necessary measure for hard-of-hearing people not using sign languages, and that this is also relevant to employees of EU institutions in terms of providing reasonable accommodation in accordance with Article 5 of Directive 2000/78/EC establishing a general framework for equal treatment in employment and occupation;

31.  Recognises that the EU institutions have a system in place to provide sign language interpretation via their respective interpreting departments for accessibility purposes; urges the institutions to utilise such existing systems also when providing reasonable accommodation for staff and/or elected officials, effectively minimising the administrative burden on the individual and the institutions;

32.  Strongly urges the institutions to formally grant sign language interpreters the same status as spoken language interpreters in respect of the interpreting services they provide for the institutions and/or their staff and appointed officials, including access to technological support, preparatory materials and documents;

33.  Urges Eurostat to ensure that statistics on deaf, deafblind and hard-of-hearing sign language users are supplied to the EU institutions so they can better define, implement and analyse their disability and language policies;

34.  Urges Parliament’s visitors’ service to cater for the needs of deaf, deafblind and hard-of-hearing visitors by directly providing access in a national or regional sign language and speech-to-text services;

35.  Asks the institutions to fully implement the EU pilot project INSIGN, which is a response to Parliament’s decision of 12 December 2012 on the implementation of a real-time sign language application and service and is aimed at improving communication between deaf and hard-of-hearing people and the EU institutions(29);

o
o   o

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

(1) OJ C 187, 18.7.1988, p. 236.
(2) OJ C 379, 7.12.1998, p. 66.
(3) OJ L 23, 27.1.2010, p. 35.
(4) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0318.
(5) http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/HRBodies/CRPD/GC/RighttoEducation/CRPD-C-GC-4.doc
(6) OJ L 303, 2.12.2000, p. 16.
(7) OJ L 255, 30.9.2005, p. 22.
(8) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0107.
(9) http://www.youthforum.org/assets/2016/04/0099-16_Policy_Paper_Equality_Non-discrimination_FINAL2.pdf
(10) OJ L 280, 26.10.2010, p. 1.
(11) http://efsli.org/publications
(12) http://efsli.org/efsliblu/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/SL-Interpreter-Guidelines.pdf
(13) http://aiic.net/page/6701/guidelines-for-spoken-language-interpreters-working-in-mixed-teams/lang/1
(14) http://efsli.org/efsliblu/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/R1101-The-right-to-sign-language-interpreting-services-when-working-or-studying-abroad.pdf
(15) http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-13-511_en.htm
(16) European Federation of Hard of Hearing People (EFHOH): http://www.efhoh.org/about_us
(17) Brentari, D., ed. (2010) Sign Languages. Cambridge University Press. Pfau, R., Steinbach M. & Bencie W., eds. (2012) Sign Language: An International Handbook. De Gruyter.
(18) General Comment No 2, CRPD Committee, CRPD/C/GC/2.
(19) United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), Article 9.
(20) Wit, M. de (2016, forthcoming). Sign Language Interpreting in Europe, 2016 edition.
(21) Petition No 1056-16.
(22) Brussels Declaration (2010), European Union of the Deaf (EUD): http://www.eud.eu/files/8514/5803/7674/brussels_declaration_FINAL.pdf
(23) EFHOH (2015). State of subtitling access in EU. Available at: http://media.wix.com/ugd/c2e099_0921564404524507bed2ff3648781a3c.pdf
(24) Efsli (2013), Learning Outcomes for Graduates of a Three Year Interpreting Training Programme.
(25) CRPD/C/GC/4, para. 28.
(26) United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), Article 11.
(27) http://www.univie.ac.at/designbilingual/downloads/De-Sign_Bilingual_Findings.pdf
(28) General Comment No 4, CRPD Committee, CRPD/C/GC/4, available at: http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/HRBodies/CRPD/GC/RighttoEducation/CRPD-C-GC-4.doc
(29) http://www.eud.eu/projects/past-projects/insign-project/


Renewing the approval of the active substance bentazone
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European Parliament resolution of 23 November 2016 on the draft Commission implementing regulation renewing approval of the active substance bentazone in accordance with Regulation (EC) No 1107/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council concerning the placing of plant protection products on the market, and amending the Annex to Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) No 540/2011 (D047341/00 – 2016/2978(RSP))
P8_TA(2016)0443B8-1228/2016

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the draft Commission implementing regulation renewing approval of the active substance bentazone in accordance with Regulation (EC) No 1107/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council concerning the placing of plant protection products on the market, and amending the Annex to Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) No 540/2011 (D047341/00),

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

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

–  having regard to the European Food Safety Authority Conclusion on the peer review of the pesticide risk assessment of the active substance bentazone(3),

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

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

A.  whereas the active substance bentazone acts as a selective post-emergent herbicide against broadleaved weeds in a broad range of crops and is commonly used in agriculture;

B.  whereas the active substance bentazone has a high potential for direct leaching to groundwater due to its inherent properties;

C.  whereas data from the UK Environment Agency shows that the active substance bentazone is the most frequently detected approved pesticide in UK groundwater and is also to be found in surface water; whereas a similar situation exists across Europe;

D.  whereas Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2016/549 of 8 April 2016 amending Implementing Regulation (EU) No 540/2011 extended the approval period for the active substance bentazone until 30 June 2017 because the assessment of the substance had been delayed;

E.  whereas the draft Commission implementing regulation renewing approval of the active substance bentazone in accordance with Regulation (EC) No 1107/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council concerning the placing of plant protection products on the market, and amending the Annex to Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) No 540/2011 (hereinafter the ‘draft implementing regulation’) provides, on the basis of a scientific evaluation conducted by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), for the authorisation of bentazone until 31 January 2032, i.e. for the longest possible period;

F.  whereas, in accordance with Regulation (EC) No 1107/2009 and in the light of current scientific and technical knowledge, certain conditions and restrictions have been included in the draft implementing regulation, in particular a requirement to provide further confirmatory information;

G.  whereas, following consideration of the comments received on the Renewal Assessment Report (RAR), it was concluded that additional information should be requested from the applicants;

H.  whereas following consideration of the comments received on the RAR, it was concluded that EFSA should conduct an expert consultation in the areas of mammalian toxicology, residues, environmental fate and behaviour, and ecotoxicology and should adopt a conclusion on whether the active substance bentazone could be expected to meet the conditions laid down in Article 4 of Regulation (EC) No 1107/2009;

I.  whereas applicants are required to submit confirmatory information as regards level 2/3 tests currently indicated in the OECD Conceptual Framework to address the potential for an endocrine-mediated mode of action regarding the developmental effects observed in a developmental toxicity study in rats (increased post implantation loss, reduced number of live foetuses and retarded foetal development in the absence of clear maternal toxicity suggesting that classification as reprotoxic category 2 may be appropriate);

J.  whereas the consumer risk assessment was not finalised because the proposed residue definitions for risk assessment in plants and for enforcement in livestock were considered as provisional owing to the identified data gaps;

K.  whereas the groundwater exposure assessment for the parent bentazone and metabolite N-methyl-bentazone was not finalised; whereas information is missing regarding the potential for groundwater exposure when annual application rates are above 960 g a.s./ha. (representative uses of up to 1440 g a.s./ha were applied for);

L.  whereas the Commission’s decision to approve an active substance while simultaneously requesting data confirming its safety (known as the confirmatory data procedure) would allow the active substance to be placed on the market before the Commission obtained all the data necessary to support that decision;

M.  whereas the European Ombudsman’s Decision of 18 February 2016 in case 12/2013/MDC on the practices of the Commission regarding the authorisation and placing on the market of plant protection products (pesticides) called on the Commission to use the confirmatory data procedure restrictively and strictly in line with the applicable legislation, and within two years of the Ombudsman’s Decision to submit a report showing that the number of decisions with confirmatory information had substantially gone down compared to the current approach;

N.  whereas the Commission’s draft implementing regulation fails to implement the European Ombudsman’s proposals for a solution to improve the Commission’s pesticide approval system;

O.  whereas under Regulation (EC) No 1107/2009 the renewal of the approval of active substances should be for a period not exceeding 15 years; whereas the approval period should be proportionate to the possible risks inherent in the use of such substances; whereas the precautionary principle which, according to Regulation (EC) No 1107/2009, must be applied requires the Commission to ensure that it does not approve active substances in cases where public health or the environment could be endangered;

P.  whereas the EFSA peer review proposes that the active substance bentazone be classified as toxic for reproduction category 2 in accordance with the provisions of Regulation (EC) No 1272/2008;

Q.  whereas an issue is listed as a critical area of concern where there is enough information available to perform an assessment for the representative uses in line with the Uniform Principles in accordance with Article 29(6) of Regulation (EC) No 1107/2009 and as set out in Commission Regulation (EU) No 546/2011, and where this assessment does not make it possible to conclude that for at least one of the representative uses it may be expected that a plant protection product containing the active substance will not have any harmful effect on human or animal health or on groundwater or any unacceptable influence on the environment;

R.  whereas according to the EFSA conclusions, critical areas of concern have been identified, in particular the fact that the technical material specification proposed for both applicants was not comparable to the material used in the testing to derive the toxicological reference values and that it has not been demonstrated that the technical material used in the ecotoxicity studies is suitably representative of the technical specifications for both applicants;

1.  Considers that the draft Commission implementing regulation exceeds the implementing powers provided for in Regulation (EC) No 1107/2009;

2.  Considers the assessment on the representative uses of active substance bentazone to be insufficient to conclude that, for at least one of the representative uses, a plant protection product containing the active substance bentazone may be expected not to have any harmful effect on human or animal health or on groundwater or any unacceptable influence on the environment;

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

4.  Considers that, by applying the confirmatory data procedure for the approval of the active substance bentazone, the Commission breached the provisions of Regulation (EC) No 1107/2009 and infringed the precautionary principle, as set out in Article 191 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union;

5.  Calls on the Commission to give priority to requesting and assessing any relevant missing information before taking a decision on approval;

6.  Calls on the Commission to withdraw its draft implementing regulation and to submit a new draft to the committee;

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

(1) OJ L 309, 24.11.2009, p. 1.
(2) OJ L 55, 28.2.2011, p. 13.
(3) EFSA Journal 2015;13(4):4077.

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