Index 
Texts adopted
Wednesday, 14 December 2016 - StrasbourgFinal edition
Insolvency proceedings and insolvency practitioners ***I
 EC-Uzbekistan Partnership and Cooperation Agreement and bilateral trade in textiles ***
 EC-Uzbekistan Partnership and Cooperation Agreement and bilateral trade in textiles
 EU-Colombia and Peru Trade Agreement (accession of Ecuador)***
 EU-Norway Agreement on reciprocal access to fishing in the Skagerrak ***
 EU-Norway Agreement on reciprocal access to fishing in the Skagerrak
 Agreement on Operational and Strategic Cooperation between Georgia and Europol *
 Mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund: application EGF/2016/004 ES/Comunidad Valenciana automotive
 Normalisation of the accounts of railway undertakings ***II
 Domestic passenger transport services by rail ***II
 Single European railway area ***II
 Market access to port services and financial transparency of ports ***I
 Nomination of a Member of the Court of Auditors - Juhan Parts
 Research programme of the Research Fund for Coal and Steel *
 Annual Report on human rights and democracy in the world and the European Union’s policy on the matter 2015
 Implementation of the Common Foreign and Security Policy (Article 36 TEU)
 CAP tools to reduce price volatility in agricultural markets

Insolvency proceedings and insolvency practitioners ***I
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Resolution
Text
European Parliament legislative resolution of 14 December 2016 on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council replacing the lists of insolvency proceedings and insolvency practitioners in Annexes A and B to Regulation (EU) 2015/848 on insolvency proceedings (COM(2016)0317 – C8-0196/2016 – 2016/0159(COD))
P8_TA(2016)0488A8-0324/2016

(Ordinary legislative procedure: first reading)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Commission proposal to Parliament and the Council (COM(2016)0317),

–  having regard to Article 294(2) and Article 81 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, pursuant to which the Commission submitted the proposal to Parliament (C8‑0196/2016),

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

–  having regard to the undertaking given by the Council representative by letter of 17 November 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 Legal Affairs (A8-0324/2016),

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

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

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

Position of the European Parliament adopted at first reading on 14 December 2016 with a view to the adoption of Regulation (EU) 2017/... of the European Parliament and of the Council replacing Annexes A and B to Regulation (EU) 2015/848 on insolvency proceedings

(As an agreement was reached between Parliament and Council, Parliament's position corresponds to the final legislative act, Regulation (EU) 2017/353.)


EC-Uzbekistan Partnership and Cooperation Agreement and bilateral trade in textiles ***
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European Parliament legislative resolution of 14 December 2016 on the draft Council decision on the conclusion of a Protocol to the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement establishing a partnership between the European Communities and their Member States, of the one part, and the Republic of Uzbekistan, of the other part, amending the Agreement in order to extend the provisions of the Agreement to bilateral trade in textiles, taking account of the expiry of the bilateral textiles Agreement (16384/1/2010 – C7-0097/2011 – 2010/0323(NLE))
P8_TA(2016)0489A8-0332/2016

(Consent)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the draft Council decision (16384/1/2010),

–  having regard to the draft Protocol to the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement establishing a partnership between the European Communities and their Member States, of the one part, and the Republic of Uzbekistan, of the other part, amending the Agreement in order to extend the provisions of the Agreement to bilateral trade in textiles, taking account of the expiry of the bilateral textiles Agreement (16388/2010),

–  having regard to the request for consent submitted by the Council in accordance with Article 207 and Article 218(6), second subparagraph, point (a)(v), of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (C7-0097/2011),

–  having regard to its interim resolution of 15 December 2011(1) on the draft Council decision,

–  having regard to its non-legislative resolution of 14 December 2016(2) on the draft Council decision,

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

–  having regard to the recommendation of the Committee on International Trade and the opinion of the Committee on Foreign Affairs (A8-0332/2016),

1.  Gives its consent to the conclusion of the Protocol;

2.  Instructs its President to forward its position to the Council, the Commission and the governments and parliaments of the Member States and of the Republic of Uzbekistan.

(1) OJ C 168 E, 14.6.2013, p. 195.
(2) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0490.


EC-Uzbekistan Partnership and Cooperation Agreement and bilateral trade in textiles
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European Parliament non-legislative resolution of 14 December 2016 on the draft Council decision on the conclusion of a Protocol to the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement establishing a partnership between the European Communities and their Member States, of the one part, and the Republic of Uzbekistan, of the other part, amending the Agreement in order to extend the provisions of the Agreement to bilateral trade in textiles, taking account of the expiry of the bilateral textiles Agreement (16384/1/2010 – C7-0097/2011 – 2010/0323(NLE)2016/2226(INI))
P8_TA(2016)0490A8-0330/2016

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the draft Council decision (16384/1/2010),

–  having regard to the draft Protocol to the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement between the European Communities and their Member States, of the one part, and the Republic of Uzbekistan, of the other part (16388/2010),

–  having regard to the request for consent submitted by the Council in accordance with Article 207 and Article 218(6), second subparagraph, point (a)(v), of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (C7‑0097/2011),

–  having regard to its interim resolution of 15 December 2011(1) on the draft Council decision,

–  having regard to its legislative resolution of 14 December 2016(2) on the draft Council decision,

–  having regard to the most recent observations of the Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations on Uzbekistan regarding the Abolition of Forced Labour Convention (Convention 105) and the Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention (Convention 182), adopted in 2015 and published in 2016(3),

–  having regard to Protocol No 1 on the role of National Parliaments in the European Union,

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

–  having regard to Rule 99(1), second subparagraph of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on International Trade and the opinion of the Committee on Foreign Affairs (A8-0330/2016),

A.  whereas in December 2011 the European Parliament decided to postpone its decision on consent to the EU-Uzbekistan Textiles Protocol, adopting an interim report to address allegations of the use of child and forced labour in the cotton harvest in Uzbekistan;

B.  whereas in that interim report Parliament concluded that it will only consider consent if the ILO observers have been granted access by the Uzbek authorities to undertake close and unhindered monitoring and have confirmed that concrete reforms have been implemented and have yielded substantial results in such a way that the practice of forced labour and child labour is effectively in the process of being eradicated at national, viloyat and local level;

C.  whereas Parliament has established a regular dialogue with the Commission, the EEAS, the Government of Uzbekistan, the ILO and civil society in order to monitor developments during the cotton harvest and exert pressure on all involved to achieve the end of the use of child and forced labour in Uzbekistan;

D.  whereas in 2013 the Government of Uzbekistan authorised the ILO to monitor the cotton harvest; whereas since 2013 the ILO has on several occasions undertaken monitoring, initially focused on child labour and later extended to forced labour and recruitment conditions;

E.  whereas the cooperation between the ILO and the Government of Uzbekistan has been gradually broadened, and in 2014 Uzbekistan became the first Central Asian country to agree on a Decent Work Country Programme with the ILO;

F.  whereas the most recent ILO monitoring during the 2015 cotton harvest has shown that ‘the use of children in the cotton harvest has become rare, sporadic and socially unacceptable, even if ongoing vigilance is needed’(4);

G.  whereas, according to the ILO, while awareness of forced labour in Uzbekistan is still at an early stage, surveys carried out by the ILO nonetheless indicate that most workers pick cotton voluntarily and have the possibility to refuse to do so;

H.  whereas the final ILO report on the 2016 cotton harvest in Uzbekistan will be available at the end of this year;

I.  whereas the eradication of forced and child labour in Uzbekistan is an objective but still ongoing process which requires efforts, and which needs to be further supported by the EU and the international community, including with the participation of human rights and labour rights civil society organisations;

J.  whereas the Government of Uzbekistan has adopted Action Plans to change the recruitment process for picking cotton, and has, together with employers’ organizations and trade unions, promoted awareness raising and developed a feedback mechanism to prevent forced and child labour;

K.  whereas NGOs are still reporting breaches of human rights in the country, in particular in the field of the cotton harvest, where they point to massive forced mobilisation of students and public employees at cotton harvest time, as well as violations of freedom of association and expression, in particular interrogations of citizens reporting on the harvest, regular persecution and harassment of human rights defenders and civil society activists, and the blocking of international rights groups and media outlets from operating in the country;

L.  whereas the sudden death of President Islom Karimov should not have any impact on the continuity of the ongoing process of improving labour conditions in the cotton fields in Uzbekistan;

1.  Stresses the importance of the action taken by the Government of Uzbekistan to authorise the ILO to monitor the cotton harvest and to engage in broad cooperation with ILO through a Decent Work Country Programme;

2.  Welcomes the substantial progress that has been made in Uzbekistan since 2013, including the adoption of laws which prohibit the use of child labour, achieving the almost total eradication of child labour; encourages the authorities to engage further in a country-wide campaign to raise awareness in order to completely eradicate child labour;

3.  Appreciates the fact that the Government of Uzbekistan is also pursuing the eradication of forced labour in cooperation with the ILO and that progress has been made; stresses, however, that subtle ways of involuntary work still exist, that this process is complex and that it requires, among other things, a reform of employment policies;

4.  Is of the opinion that, because of these efforts by the Government of Uzbekistan, Parliament should give consent to the EU-Uzbekistan Textiles Protocol; is of the opinion that such consent will constitute a positive sign of encouragement to the Uzbek Government to further pursue its efforts to fully eradicate child labour and all other forms of forced labour, as well as to further strengthen cooperation with the EU;

5.  Welcomes the fact that the Federation of Trade Unions of Uzbekistan joined the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) as an associate member in October 2015; stresses the role Uzbek trade unions are playing to ensure decent working conditions and protect labour rights; calls on the Uzbek Government to cooperate fully with trade unions in this direction; encourages Uzbek trade unions to step up their role in the effort fully to eradicate forced labour;

6.  Is concerned about reports by independent monitors of state-led mobilisation of citizens, including the forced labour of public employees and students, in the 2016 pre-harvest work;

7.   Calls on the next Uzbek president to raise a new human rights paradigm by immediately terminating the continued use of forced labour and child labour in the cotton harvest;

8.  Calls on the Commission and the EEAS to provide Parliament regularly with detailed information on the situation in Uzbekistan, in particular with regard to the eradication of child and forced labour; decides to continue to monitor developments in Uzbekistan and to organise a regular dialogue with the ILO, the Commission, the EEAS and other stakeholders aimed at the total eradication of forced labour and child labour in Uzbekistan;

9.  Recognises that a combination of dialogue and cooperation, as well as continued pressure on the Government of Uzbekistan from the Union, the ILO and the World Bank, will still be needed to achieve this goal; reserves the right to call on the Commission and the Council to activate Articles 2 and 95 of the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement so as to take all necessary, general and specific measures if the commitment to eradicate child and forced labour is not lived up to;

10.  Calls on the Commission and the EU Delegation in Tashkent to contribute through policy dialogue and assistance programmes to structural reform in Uzbekistan, including increased remuneration for cotton pickers, mechanisation, and greater budgetary transparency on revenue from the cotton harvest;

11.  Shares the view that the Decent Work Country Programme should be extended beyond 2016, and should be deepened so as to consider the modernisation of the Uzbek economy and the improvement of employment policy in such areas as occupational health, safety and labour inspection, while taking gender equality into account; welcomes, in this regard, the Uzbek Governmental Decree No 909 (dated 16 November 2015) which is aimed to improve labour conditions, employment and social protection of workers in the agricultural sector in the period 2016-2018;

12.  Stresses that the assistance provided by the EU over the past years, focusing on the rule of law and the judiciary, and aiming at triggering reforms and streamlining the work of the Uzbek parliament, must bring tangible results;

13.  Believes that EU aid to Uzbekistan should also be aimed at weaning the country off cotton monoculture, and at decreasing its dependence on exports, by diversifying the economy, which could gradually alleviate the disastrous environmental situation with regard, in particular, to what is left of the Aral Sea and its tributaries;

14.  Calls on the Commission to submit as soon as possible the ‘EU flagship initiative on responsible management of the supply chain in the garment sector’, with a proposal for strengthening the supply chain transparency; recalls the importance of the Sustainability Compact launched in 2013 and underlines that this kind of initiative can serve as a basis for elaborating new actions in partnership with third countries with a view to meeting the objectives of improving working, health and safety conditions in the garment sector;

15.  Encourages the Government of Uzbekistan to work towards the ratification and effectively implementation of all 27 GSP+ core international conventions, in order to be able to apply for GSP+ tariff preferences;

16.  Highlights that in 2009 and 2010 the Council lifted the EU sanctions ‘with a view to encourage the Uzbek authorities to take further substantive steps to improve the rule of law and the human rights situation on the ground’, stating, furthermore, that ‘the Council will closely and continuously observe the human rights situation in Uzbekistan’ and that ‘the depth and quality of the dialogue and cooperation will depend on Uzbek reforms’;

17.  Calls on the Commission and the EEAS to monitor the political transition in Uzbekistan and to provide Parliament regularly with information on this process;

18.  Calls on the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (VP/HR), the EEAS and the Member States to use the transition process as an opportunity to press for concrete, measurable human rights improvements over the coming months; underlines that concrete improvements should include the conditions laid out by the EU foreign ministers in 2010;

19.  Points out that the textile sector, in particular cotton production, is the main area of trade between the EU and Uzbekistan; stresses, in this regard, that the EU should make full use of the extension of the PCA in order to ensure that the Uzbek authorities are engaged in a transition process, following the sudden death of the president, that leads to better governance, a strengthening of the rule of law, democratic reforms and a substantial improvement of the human rights situation;

20.  Reiterates the Union’s commitment to further and deepen relations with Uzbekistan, which requires respect for human rights and the rule of law; calls on the Government of Uzbekistan to create more space for independent civil society, to take more into consideration concerns of Uzbek and international NGOs, and to meet its commitments under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention against Torture;

21.  Urges the Uzbek authorities to respect fully their international commitments as regards the protection of human rights; welcomes their announcement of a proposal for an amnesty on the occasion of the 24th anniversary of Uzbekistan’s Constitution; urges the Uzbek authorities to include in this gesture the release from prison of all individuals imprisoned on politically motivated charges, improved treatment of persons in custody and an end to the cycle of crackdowns, arrests and convictions; encourages the Uzbek Government to step up its involvement with international institutions, including through 11 special procedures set up by the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC)(5);

22.  Instructs its President to forward its position to the Council, the Commission, the governments and parliaments of the Member States and the government and parliament of the Republic of Uzbekistan.

(1) OJ C 168 E, 14.6.2013, p. 195.
(2) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0489.
(3) Report of the Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations – Application of International Labour Standards 2016 – REPORT III (Part 1A).
(4) Report of the Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations – Application of International Labour Standards 2016 – REPORT III (Part 1A), p. 218.
(5) The 11 special procedures are described in: http://spinternet.ohchr.org/_Layouts/SpecialProceduresInternet/ViewCountryVisits.aspx?Lang=en&country=UZBFor a general overview of UNHRC special procedures, see: http://www.ohchr.org/en/HRBodies/SP/Pages/Welcomepage.aspx


EU-Colombia and Peru Trade Agreement (accession of Ecuador)***
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European Parliament legislative resolution of 14 December 2016 on the draft Council decision on the conclusion, on behalf of the Union, of the Protocol of Accession to the Trade Agreement between the European Union and its Member States, of the one part, and Colombia and Peru, of the other part, to take account of the accession of Ecuador (07620/2016 – C8-0463/2016 – 2016/0092(NLE))
P8_TA(2016)0491A8-0362/2016

(Consent)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the draft Council decision (07620/2016),

–  having regard to the draft Protocol of Accession to the Trade Agreement between the European Union and its Member States, of the one part, and Colombia and Peru, of the other part, to take account of the accession of Ecuador (07621/2016),

–  having regard to the request for consent submitted by the Council in accordance with Articles 91, 100(2), 207(4), first subparagraph, and Article 218(6), second subparagraph, point (a), of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (C8‑0463/2016),

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

–  having regard to the recommendation of the Committee on International Trade and the opinion of the Committee on Foreign Affairs (A8-0362/2016),

1.  Gives its consent to conclusion of the protocol;

2.  Instructs its President to forward its position to the Council, the Commission and the governments and parliaments of the Member States and of Colombia, Ecuador and Peru.


EU-Norway Agreement on reciprocal access to fishing in the Skagerrak ***
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European Parliament legislative resolution of 14 December 2016 on the draft Council decision on the conclusion of the Agreement between the European Union and the Kingdom of Norway on reciprocal access to fishing in the Skagerrak for vessels flying the flag of Denmark, Norway and Sweden (10711/2016 – C8-0332/2016 – 2016/0192(NLE))
P8_TA(2016)0492A8-0321/2016

(Consent)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the draft Council decision (10711/2016),

–  having regard to the draft Agreement between the European Union and the Kingdom of Norway on reciprocal access to fishing in the Skagerrak for vessels flying the flag of Denmark, Norway and Sweden (11692/2014),

–  having regard to the request for consent submitted by the Council in accordance with Article 43(2) and Article 218(6), second subparagraph, point (a) (v), of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (C8‑0332/2016),

–  having regard to its non-legislative resolution of 14 December 2016(1) on the draft Council decision,

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

–  having regard to the recommendation of the Committee on Fisheries (A8-0321/2016),

1.  Gives its consent to conclusion of the Agreement;

2.  Instructs its President to forward its position to the Council, the Commission and the governments and parliaments of the Member States and of the Kingdom of Norway.

(1) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0493.


EU-Norway Agreement on reciprocal access to fishing in the Skagerrak
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European Parliament non-legislative resolution of 14 December 2016 on the draft Council decision on the conclusion of the Agreement between the European Union and the Kingdom of Norway on reciprocal access to fishing in the Skagerrak for vessels flying the flag of Denmark, Norway and Sweden (10711/2016 – C8-0332/2016 – 2016/0192(NLE)2016/2229(INI))
P8_TA(2016)0493A8-0320/2016

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the draft Council decision (10711/2016),

–  having regard to the draft Agreement between the European Union and the Kingdom of Norway on reciprocal access to fishing in the Skagerrak for vessels flying the flag of Denmark, Norway and Sweden (11692/2014),

–  having regard to the request for consent submitted by the Council in accordance with Article 43(2) and Article 218(6), second subparagraph, point (a) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (C8-0332/2016),

–  having regard to its legislative resolution of 14 December 2016(1) on the draft Council decision,

–  having regard to Rule 99(1), second subparagraph, of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Fisheries (A8-0320/2016),

A.  whereas fishermen from Denmark, Norway and Sweden have always traditionally fished jointly in the Kattegat and Skagerrak;

B.  whereas the Agreement upholds the historical fishing rights of fishermen from Denmark, Norway and Sweden in the Kattegat and Skagerrak without prejudice to the rights of fishermen from other states, while also ensuring that suitable measures are taken for fisheries management and conservation in these waters;

C.  whereas the Agreement also supports the implementation of the reformed system for fisheries management in the EU put in place in line with the aims and basic principles of the new common fisheries policy (CFP), in particular the introduction of the landing obligation and compulsory measures to maintain stocks above sustainable fisheries limits;

1.  Calls on the Commission to forward to Parliament the minutes and conclusions of any consultations held in accordance with Article 4 of the Agreement;

2.  Calls on the Commission to submit to Parliament and the Council, within the last year of application of the agreement and before the opening of negotiations for its renewal, a full report on its implementation;

3.  Calls on the Commission and the Council, acting within the limits of their respective powers, to keep Parliament immediately and fully informed at all stages of the procedures related to the agreement and its renewal, pursuant to Article 13(2) of the Treaty on European Union and Article 218(10) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union;

4.  Emphasises that access to the internal market for any third country must build on reciprocity, and that in the case of Norway any customs duties on food products, including fisheries products, from the EU must be in conformity with the Agreement on the European Economic Area;

5.  Stresses that the task of the Commission is to ensure that custom duties on food and fisheries products from the EU are not set in a way contrary to the principles of free trade in the area of food products, including fisheries products;

6.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council and the Commission, as well as to the governments and parliaments of the Member States and the Kingdom of Norway.

(1) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0492.


Agreement on Operational and Strategic Cooperation between Georgia and Europol *
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European Parliament legislative resolution of 14 December 2016 on the draft Council implementing decision approving the conclusion by the European Police Office (Europol) of the Agreement on Operational and Strategic Cooperation between Georgia and Europol (10343/2016 – C8-0266/2016 – 2016/0810(CNS))
P8_TA(2016)0494A8-0343/2016

(Consultation)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Council draft (10343/2016),

–  having regard to Article 39(1) of the Treaty on European Union, as amended by the Treaty of Amsterdam, and Article 9 of Protocol No 36 on transitional provisions, pursuant to which the Council consulted Parliament (C8‑0266/2016),

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

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

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

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (A8-0343/2016),

1.  Approves the Council draft;

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

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

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

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

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


Mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund: application EGF/2016/004 ES/Comunidad Valenciana automotive
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Resolution
Annex
European Parliament resolution of 14 December 2016 on the proposal for a decision of the European Parliament and of the Council on the mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (application from Spain – EGF/2016/004 ES/Comunidad Valenciana automotive) (COM(2016)0708 – C8-0454/2016 – 2016/2298(BUD))
P8_TA(2016)0495A8-0379/2016

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Commission proposal to the European Parliament and the Council (COM(2016)0708 – C8‑0454/2016),

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

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

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

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

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

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgets (A8-0379/2016),

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

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

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

D.  whereas Spain submitted application EGF/2016/004 ES/Comunidad Valenciana automotive for a financial contribution from the EGF, following redundancies in the economic sector classified under the NACE Revision 2 Division 29 (Manufacture of motor vehicles, trailers and semi-trailers) mainly in the NUTS level 2 region of Comunidad Valenciana (ES52) and whereas 250 redundant workers eligible for the EGF contribution are expected to participate in the measures;

E.  whereas the application was submitted under the intervention criteria set out in Article 4(2) of the EGF Regulation, derogating from the criteria set out in point (b) of Article 4(1) of that Regulation which requires that at least 500 workers be made redundant over a reference period of nine months in enterprises operating in the same economic sector defined at NACE Revision 2 Division and located in one region or two contiguous regions defined at NUTS 2 level in a Member State;

F.  whereas the EU-27 faced a production decline for motor vehicles of 0,5 million units in 2015 compared to 2006 (from 18,7 million units in 2006 to 18,2 million units in 2015) while global production increased by 31,1 % (from 69,2 million units in 2006 to 90,9 million units in 2015)(4), notably in China as well as other South-East Asian economies;

1.  Agrees with the Commission that the conditions set out in Article 4(2) of the EGF Regulation are met and that, therefore, Spain is entitled to a financial contribution of EUR 856 800 under that Regulation, which represents 60 % of the total cost of EUR 1 428 000, for reintegration into the labour market of 250 workers made redundant;

2.  Considers that the provision of support to former employees of small and medium-sized enterprises also justifies the approval of an application concerning fewer than 500 redundancies;

3.  Notes that Spain submitted the application for a financial contribution from the EGF on 21 June 2016, and that the assessment of that application was finalised by the Commission on 8 November 2016 and notified to Parliament that same day;

4.  Notes that the manufacture of motor vehicles, trailers and semi-trailers sector has been the subject of 23 EGF applications, 13 of which were based on trade related globalisation(5) and 10 on the global financial and economic crisis(6); notes that 3 of those EGF applications were from Spain (EGF/2008/002 ES Delphi, EGF/2008/004 ES Castilla y León and Aragón and EGF/2010/002 ES Cataluña automotive);

5.  Notes that the decrease in the Union market share of the automotive industry is part of a longer-term trend, as has been stated by the Commission in its assessments of previous EGF automotive cases based on trade related globalisation, with the Union losing almost half of its market share between 2000 and 2015;

6.  Points out that, in Spain, the decline in car production triggered a reduction in both enterprises and jobs and that in Comunidad Valenciana 62 of a total of 187 automotive enterprises stopped their activities in the period 2008 – 2014, representing a decline of 33,16 %;

7.  Notes that Bosal S.A. started operations in 1986 when the Sagunto area was declared a “Preferential Reindustrialization Area” following redundancies in the local blast furnace; notes that the bankruptcy and closure of Bosal S.A. caused the loss of 250 jobs in the town of Sagunto, representing a relatively large number of jobs in that town, and has a serious impact on the local and regional economy, in particular considering the specific characteristics of a small town in a rural area which has seriously suffered from the economic crisis as well as the consequences of the globalisation process in the automotive sector; recalls that the unemployment rate in Comunidad Valenciana is still 20,17 %(7), although employment has shown signs of recovery;

8.  Regrets the increase in the number of unemployed persons in Sagunto between 2007 (2 778) and 2015 (6 437) and the unemployment rate of 25,8 % that further aggravates the already fragile situation in the area;

9.  Underlines that of the total number of redundant workers concerned by this application, 71 % are over 45 years old, 78 % had been employed by the same enterprise for at least 15 consecutive years and 50 % have no educational qualifications; notes, in addition, that there have been no recent plant openings in the area; points out that all those circumstances make the redundant workers highly vulnerable in a context of insufficient job creation, increasing the difficulties in finding new employment;

10.  Notes that Spain is planning 12 different actions, of which 6 are personalised services, such as information sessions, occupational guidance, job placement or promotion of entrepreneurship, and 6 are allowances and incentives for redundant workers covered by this application, such as contributions to commuting expenses and change of residence, or hiring benefits; points out that those actions constitute active labour market measures;

11.  Welcomes Spain’s decision to offer training measures focused on vocational licensing, such as that required for passenger transport, and on sectors or areas where opportunities exist or will arise, such as the food sector, cooking, occupational risk prevention and quality control and environmental standards, heating, ventilation and air conditioning projects and the maintenance of industrial equipment; endorses the offer of training in skills that contribute to better job performance such as information and communications technology, foreign languages and business management;

12.  Welcomes the willingness of the representatives of the former workers of Bosal S:A (the enterprise which made the majority of the workers concerned by this application redundant) to support an application for EGF funding and their involvement in designing the measures to be offered to redundant workers; notes that the social partners, the relevant employer's association and the local authorities of Sagunto were also involved in this process;

13.  Notes that the income support measures will be less than 25 % of the overall package of personalised measures, well below the maximum of 35 % set out in the EGF Regulation and that those actions are conditional on the active participation of the targeted beneficiaries in job-search or training activities;

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

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

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

17.  Believes that more widespread use of the derogation from the eligibility thresholds particularly to benefit SMEs employees, extension of the reference periods and the possibility of including workers who have been providing related services to the reference company, should be assessed carefully, case by case, seeking in every way to limit distorted use of the EGF budget; agrees therefore with the Commission decision to grant help to 250 workers from 29 enterprises in the Comunidad Valenciana region;

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

19.  Asks the Commission to ensure public access to the documents related to EGF cases;

20.  Approves the decision annexed to this resolution;

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

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

ANNEX

DECISION OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL

on the mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund following an application from Spain – EGF/2016/004 ES/Comunidad Valenciana automotive

(The text of this annex is not reproduced here since it corresponds to the final act, Decision (EU) 2017/341.)

(1) OJ L 347, 20.12.2013, p. 855.
(2) OJ L 347, 20.12.2013, p. 884.
(3) OJ C 373, 20.12.2013, p. 1.
(4) OICA data base: http://www.oica.net/category/production-statistics/
(5) EGF/2016/004 ES Comunidad Valenciana automotive industry, COM(2016)0708; EGF/2007/001 FR PSA suppliers. COM(2007)0415; EGF/2007/010 PT Lisboa Alentejo. COM(2008)0094; EGF/2008/002 ES Delphi. COM(2008)0547; EGF/2008/004 ES Castilla y León Aragón. COM(2009)0150; EGF/2009/013 DE Karmann. COM(2010)0007; EGF/2012/005 SE Saab, COM(2012)0622; EGF/2012/008 IT De Tomaso; COM(2013)0469; EGF/2013/006 PL Fiat Auto Poland, COM(2014)0699¸ EGF/2013/012 BE Ford Genk, COM(2014)0532; EGF/2014/006 FR PSA, COM(2014)0560; EGF/2015/003 BE Ford Genk, COM(2015)0336 and EGF/2015/009 SE Volvo Trucks, COM(2016)0061
(6) EGF/2009/007 SE Volvo, COM(2009)0602 EGF/2009/009 AT Steiermark, COM(2009)0602; EGF/2009/019 FR Renault, COM(2011)0420; EGF/2010/002 ES Cataluña automotive, COM(2010)0453; EGF/2010/004 PL Wielkopolskie, COM(2010)0616; EGF/2010/015 FR Peugeot, COM(2012)0461; EGF/2010/031 BE General Motors Belgium, COM(2011)0212; EGF/2011/003 DE Arnsberg and Düsseldorf automotive, COM(2011)0447; EGF/2011/005 PT Norte-Centro automotive, COM(2011)0664; and EGF/2015/002 DE Adam Opel, COM(2015)0342.
(7) EPA Q3 2016. http://www.ine.es/infografias/tasasepa/desktop/tasas.html?t=0&lang=es


Normalisation of the accounts of railway undertakings ***II
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European Parliament legislative resolution of 14 December 2016 on the Council position at first reading with a view to the adoption of a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council repealing Regulation (EEC) No 1192/69 of the Council on common rules for the normalisation of the accounts of railway undertakings (11197/1/2016 – C8-0424/2016 – 2013/0013(COD))
P8_TA(2016)0496A8-0368/2016

(Ordinary legislative procedure: second reading)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Council position at first reading (11197/1/2016 – C8‑0424/2016),

–  having regard to the opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee of 11 July 2013(1),

–  having regard to the opinion of the Committee of the Regions of 8 October 2013(2),

–  having regard to its position at first reading(3) on the Commission proposal to Parliament and the Council (COM(2013)0026),

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

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

–  having regard to the recommendation for second reading of the Committee on Transport and Tourism (A8-0368/2016),

1.  Approves the Council position at first reading;

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

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

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

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

(1) OJ C 327, 12.11.2013, p. 122.
(2) OJ C 356, 5.12.2013, p. 92.
(3) Texts adopted of 26.2.2014, P7_TA(2014)0152.


Domestic passenger transport services by rail ***II
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Resolution
Annex
European Parliament legislative resolution of 14 December 2016 on the Council position at first reading with a view to the adoption of a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Regulation (EC) No 1370/2007 concerning the opening of the market for domestic passenger transport services by rail (11198/1/2016 – C8-0425/2016 – 2013/0028(COD))
P8_TA(2016)0497A8-0373/2016

(Ordinary legislative procedure: second reading)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Council position at first reading (11198/1/2016 – C8‑0425/2016),

–  having regard to the reasoned opinions submitted, within the framework of Protocol No 2 on the application of the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality, by the Lithuanian Parliament, the Luxembourg Chamber of Deputies, the Netherlands Senate and the Netherlands House of Representatives, the Austrian Federal Council and the Swedish Parliament, asserting that the draft legislative act does not comply with the principle of subsidiarity,

–  having regard to the opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee of 11 July 2013(1),

–  having regard to the opinion of the Committee of the Regions of 8 October 2013(2),

–  having regard to its position at first reading(3) on the Commission proposal to Parliament and the Council (COM(2013)0028),

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

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

–  having regard to the recommendation for second reading of the Committee on Transport and Tourism (A8-0373/2016),

1.  Approves the Council position at first reading;

2.  Approves the statement annexed to this resolution;

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

4.  Suggests that the act be cited as 'the van de Camp-Dijksma Regulation on the opening of the market for domestic passenger transport services by rail’(4);

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

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

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

ANNEX TO THE LEGISLATIVE RESOLUTION

Statement by the European Parliament on the transfer of staff

According to Recital 14 and Article 4, paragraphs 4a, 4b and 6, Member States must fully respect Directive 2001/23/EC relating to the safeguarding of employees' rights in the event of transfers of undertakings and are entitled to go beyond the application of this Directive taking additional measures for staff protection in compliance with Union law, such as requiring a mandatory transfer of staff even if Directive 2001/23/EC would not apply.

(1) OJ C 327, 12.11.2013, p. 122.
(2) OJ C 356, 5.12.2013, p. 92.
(3) Texts adopted of 26.2.2014, P7_TA(2014)0148.
(4) Wim van de Camp and Sharon Dijksma led the negotiations on the act on behalf of Parliament and the Council respectively.


Single European railway area ***II
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European Parliament legislative resolution of 14 December 2016 on the Council position at first reading with a view to the adoption of a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Directive 2012/34/EU as regards the opening of the market for domestic passenger transport services by rail and the governance of the railway infrastructure (11199/1/2016– C8-0426/2016 – 2013/0029(COD))
P8_TA(2016)0498A8-0371/2016

(Ordinary legislative procedure: second reading)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Council position at first reading (11199/1/2016 – C8‑0426/2016),

–  having regard to the reasoned opinions submitted, within the framework of Protocol No 2 on the application of the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality, by the French Senate, the Lithuanian Parliament, the Luxembourg Chamber of Deputies, the Netherlands Senate, the Netherlands House of Representatives and the Swedish Parliament, asserting that the draft legislative act does not comply with the principle of subsidiarity,

–  having regard to the opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee of 11 July 2013(1),

–  having regard to the opinion of the Committee of the Regions of 8 October 2013(2),

–  having regard to its position at first reading(3) on the Commission proposal to Parliament and the Council (COM(2013)0029),

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

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

–  having regard to the recommendation for second reading of the Committee on Transport and Tourism (A8-0371/2016),

1.  Approves the Council position at first reading;

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

3.  Suggests that the act be cited as ‘the Sassoli-Dijksma Directive on the opening of the market for domestic passenger transport services by rail and the governance of the railway infrastructure’(4);

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

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

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

(1) OJ C 327, 12.11.2013, p. 122.
(2) OJ C 356, 5.12.2013, p. 92.
(3) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2014)0147.
(4) David-Maria Sassoli and Sharon Dijksma led the negotiations on the act on behalf of Parliament and the Council respectively.


Market access to port services and financial transparency of ports ***I
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Resolution
Text
European Parliament legislative resolution of 14 December 2016 on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing a framework on market access to port services and financial transparency of ports (COM(2013)0296 – C7-0144/2013 – 2013/0157(COD))
P8_TA(2016)0499A8-0023/2016

(Ordinary legislative procedure: first reading)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Commission proposal to Parliament and the Council (COM(2013)0296),

–  having regard to Article 294(2) and Article 100(2) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, pursuant to which the Commission submitted the proposal to Parliament (C7‑0144/2013),

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

–  having regard to the reasoned opinion submitted, within the framework of Protocol No 2 on the application of the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality, by the Spanish Congress of Deputies and the Spanish Senate, the French National Assembly, the Italian Senate, the Latvian Parliament, the Maltese Parliament, the Polish Sejm, and the Swedish Parliament, asserting that the draft legislative act does not comply with the principle of subsidiarity,

–  having regard to the opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee of 11 July 2013(1),

–  having regard to the opinion of the Committee of the Regions of 28 November 2013(2),

–  having regard to the undertaking given by the Council representative by letter of 5 October 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 Transport and Tourism (A8-0023/2016),

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.  Suggests that the act be cited as ‘the Fleckenstein-Schultz van Haegen Regulation establishing a framework for the provision of port services and common rules on the financial transparency of ports’(4);

4.  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 14 December 2016 with a view to the adoption of Regulation (EU) 2017/... of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing a framework for the provision of port services and common rules on the financial transparency of ports

(As an agreement was reached between Parliament and Council, Parliament's position corresponds to the final legislative act, Regulation (EU) 2017/352.)

(1) OJ C 327, 12.11.2013, p. 111.
(2) OJ C 114, 15.4.2014, p. 57.
(3) This position replaces the amendments adopted on 8 March 2016 (Texts adopted P8_TA(2016)0069).
(4) Knut Fleckenstein and Melanie Schultz van Haegen led the negotiations on the act on behalf of Parliament and the Council respectively.


Nomination of a Member of the Court of Auditors - Juhan Parts
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European Parliament decision of 14 December 2016 on the nomination of Juhan Parts as a Member of the Court of Auditors (C8-0445/2016 – 2016/0817(NLE))
P8_TA(2016)0500A8-0375/2016

(Consultation)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to Article 286(2) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, pursuant to which the Council consulted Parliament (C8-0445/2016),

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgetary Control (A8-0375/2016),

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

B.  whereas at its meeting of 5 December 2016 the Committee on Budgetary Control heard the Council’s nominee for membership of the Court of Auditors;

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

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


Research programme of the Research Fund for Coal and Steel *
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European Parliament legislative resolution of 14 December 2016 on the proposal for a Council decision amending Decision 2008/376/EC on the adoption of the Research Programme of the Research Fund for Coal and Steel and on the multiannual technical guidelines for this programme (COM(2016)0075 – C8-0099/2016 – 2016/0047(NLE))
P8_TA(2016)0501A8-0358/2016

(Consultation)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Commission proposal to the Council (COM(2016)0075),

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

–  having regard to the second paragraph of Article 2 of Protocol No 37 on the financial consequences of the expiry of the ECSC Treaty and on the Research Fund for Coal and Steel, annexed to the Treaty on European Union and to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, pursuant to which the Council consulted Parliament (C8‑0099/2016),

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (A8-0358/2016),

1.  Approves the Commission proposal as amended;

2.  Calls on the Commission to alter its proposal accordingly, in accordance with Article 293(2) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union and Article 106a of the Treaty establishing the European Atomic Energy Community;

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

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

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

Text proposed by the Commission   Amendment
Amendment 1
Proposal for a decision
Recital 3
(3)  It is necessary to revise the rules on the competencies and on the composition of the Advisory Groups and of the Technical Groups, notably as regards the nature of the experts appointed by the Commission to ensure increased transparency as well as compliance and coherence with the framework for Commission expert groups, and contribute, as far as possible, to a balanced representation of relevant areas of expertise and areas of interest as well as to an optimal gender balance.
(3)  It is necessary to revise the rules on the competencies and on the composition of the Advisory Groups and of the Technical Groups to make the relevant stakeholders aware of the deliberations in these groups, notably as regards the nature of and influence exerted by the experts appointed by the Commission, to ensure increased transparency as well as compliance and coherence with the framework for the Commission expert groups, and to contribute, as far as possible, to a balanced representation of relevant areas of expertise and areas of interest as well as to an optimal gender balance. It is, however, necessary to respect the Commission’s decision of 30 May 2016 on establishing horizontal rules on the creation and operation of Commission expert groups and a European Parliament resolution on the control of the register and composition of the Commission’s expert groups.
Amendment 2
Proposal for a decision
Recital 4
(4)  It is appropriate to consider simpler funding rules to ease the participation of small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) in the RFCS Programme and to permit the use of 'unit costs' to calculate eligible staff costs for SME owners and other natural persons not receiving a salary.
(4)  It is appropriate to support the overall participation of small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) in the RFCS Programme by, inter alia, simplifying the rules and to permit the use of 'unit costs' to calculate eligible staff costs for SME owners and other natural persons not receiving a salary.
Amendment 3
Proposal for a decision
Recital 5 a new
(5a)  The coal and steel sectors are important in the process of European integration and have a key role in the Union's overall industrial landscape. At the same time, the working conditions in those sectors are demanding and have often resulted in damage to the health of workers and citizens. Installations and companies should therefore respect all legal requirements on social responsibility, bring definitive solutions, and minimise the social implications of transition or closure of installations. The social partners need to be consulted to the extent possible on issues relating to social responsibility.
Amendment 16
Proposal for a decision
Article 1 – point -1 (new)
Decision 2008/376/EC
Article 3 - point 1 - point g
(-1)  Point (g) of point 1 of Article 3 is deleted;
Amendment 4
Proposal for a decision
Article 1 – point -1 a (new)
Decision 2008/376/EC
Article 6 – paragraph 2 – point g a (new)
(-1a)   In Article 6(2), the following point is added:
“(ga) the impact on the employment of workers and on the local community of mining operations;”
Amendment 5
Proposal for a decision
Article 1 – point -1 b (new)
Decision 2008/376/EC
Article 6 – paragraph 2 – point g b (new)
(-1b)   In Article 6(2), the following point is added:
“(gb) the impact on the health and safety of workers and of the local community of mining operations.”
Amendment 20
Proposal for a decision
Article 1 – point -1 c (new)
Decision 2008/376/EC
Article 8 - introductory part
(-1c)  In Article 8, the introductory part is replaced by the following:
"Research and technological development (RTD) shall aim toimprove steel production processes with a view to enhancing product quality and increasing productivity. Reducing emissions, energy consumption and the environmental impact as well as enhancing the use of raw materials and the conservation of resources shall form an integral part of the improvements sought. Research projects shall address one or more of the following areas:"
"Research and technological development (RTD) shall aim to improve steel production processes with a view to enhancing product quality and increasing productivity. Reducing emissions, energy consumption and the environmental impact as well as enhancing the use of raw materials and the conservation of resources shall form an integral part of the improvements sought. Research projects shall address ground-breaking technologies in one or more of the following areas:"
Amendment 6
Proposal for a decision
Article 1 – point 1
Decision 2008/376/EC
Article 21 – point i a (new)
(ia)  assessment of finalised projects of coal and steel production in the areas concerned;
Amendment 7
Proposal for a decision
Article 1 – point 2
Decision 2008/376/EC
Article 22 – paragraph 1 – subparagraph 1
Each Advisory Group shall be composed in accordance with the tables set out in the Annex. Members of the Advisory Groups shall be individuals appointed by the Director General of Directorate General for Research and Innovation to represent a common interest shared by stakeholders. They shall not represent an individual stakeholder, but shall express an opinion common to the different stakeholder organisations.
Each Advisory Group shall be composed in accordance with the tables set out in the Annex. Members of the Advisory Groups shall be individuals appointed by the Director General of the Commission’s Directorate General for Research and Innovation to represent a common interest shared by stakeholders. They shall act individually and shall not represent an individual stakeholder, but shall express an opinion common to the different stakeholder organisations.
Amendment 8
Proposal for a decision
Article 1 – point 2
Decision 2008/376/EC
Article 22 – paragraph 2 – subparagraph 2
They shall be active in the field concerned and be aware of the industrial priorities.
They shall be active in the field concerned and be aware of the industrial and sectoral priorities.
Amendment 9
Proposal for a decision
Article 1 – point 3
Decision 2008/376/EC
Article 24 – paragraph 1 – subparagraph 2
Members of the Technical Groups shall be appointed in their personal capacity by the Director General of Directorate General for Research and Innovation.
Members of the Technical Groups shall be appointed in their personal capacity by the Director General of the Commission’s Directorate General for Research and Innovation.
Amendment 15
Proposal for a decision
Article 1 – point 3
Decision 2008/376/EC
Article 24 - paragraph 3 a (new)
3a.   The Commission is urged to provide the maximum transparency possible, including publication of the agenda, background documents, voting records and detailed minutes, including dissenting opinions in line with the recommendation of the European Ombudsman;
Amendment 10
Proposal for a decision
Article 1 – point 9
Decision 2008/376/EC
Article 39
For the appointment of independent and highly qualified experts referred to in Article 18, Article 28(2) and Article 38, the provisions set out in Article 40 of Regulation (EU) No 1290/2013 (*) shall apply by analogy.
For the appointment of independent and highly qualified experts referred to in Article 18, Article 28(2) and Article 38, the provisions set out in Article 40 of Regulation (EU) No 1290/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council(*) shall apply by analogy together with, for expert groups as a whole, the Commission Decision of 30 May 2016 on establishing horizontal rules on the creation and operation of Commission expert groups and a European Parliament resolution on control of the register and composition of the Commission’s expert groups.
______________
___________________
(*) Regulation (EU) No 1290/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 December 2013 laying down the rules for participation and dissemination in "Horizon 2020 - the Framework Programme for Research and Innovation (2014-2020)" and repealing Regulation (EC) No 1906/2006 (OJ L 347, 20.12.2013, p. 81).";
(*) Regulation (EU) No 1290/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 December 2013 laying down the rules for participation and dissemination in "Horizon 2020 - the Framework Programme for Research and Innovation (2014-2020)" and repealing Regulation (EC) No 1906/2006 (OJ L 347, 20.12.2013, p. 81).";

Annual Report on human rights and democracy in the world and the European Union’s policy on the matter 2015
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European Parliament resolution of 14 December 2016 on the Annual Report on human rights and democracy in the world and the European Union’s policy on the matter 2015 (2016/2219(INI))
P8_TA(2016)0502A8-0355/2016

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Charter of the United Nations, in force since 24 October 1945,

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

–  having regard to the core international human rights conventions, including the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, to which the EU is a party,

–  having regard to the UN Convention of 18 December 1979 on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW)(1),

–  having regard to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and to Parliament’s resolution of 27 November 2014 on the 25th anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child(2),

–  having regard to the International Convention of 18 December 1990 on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families(3),

–  having regard to the UN Declaration on the Right to Development(4),

–  having regard to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Outcome document of 22 September 2014 of the high-level plenary meeting of the General Assembly known as the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples(5),

–  having regard to the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, adopted on 25 June 1993(6),

–  having regard to the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action of 1995(7) and the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) of 1994(8), and to the outcomes of their review conferences,

–  having regard to the United Nations’ Paris Principles on national human rights institutions (NHRI)(9),

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

–  having regard to Article 25 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights on the rights of the elderly,

–  having regard to the European Convention on Human Rights,

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

–  having regard to Article 207 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU),

–  having regard to the document published by the Vice-President of the European Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (VP/HR) on 28 June 2016 entitled ‘Shared Vision, Common Action: A Stronger Europe – A Global Strategy for the European Union’s Foreign and Security Policy’(10),

–  having regard to the EU Strategic Framework and Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy, as adopted by the Foreign Affairs Council on 25 June 2012(11),

–  having regard to the Foreign Affairs Council conclusions of 8 December 2009 on promoting compliance with international humanitarian law (IHL)(12) and the updated EU Guidelines on promoting compliance with IHL(13),

–  having regard to the Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy 2015-2019, adopted by the Council on 20 July 2015(14),

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

–  having regard to the EU Guidelines on the Promotion and Protection of Freedom of Religion or Belief(15),

–  having regard to the Guidelines to Promote and Protect the Enjoyment of All Human Rights by Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) Persons(16), adopted by the Council on 24 June 2013,

–  having regard to the Guidelines for EP Interparliamentary Delegations on promoting human rights and democracy in their visits outside the European Union,

–  having regard to the EU Annual Report on Human Rights and Democracy in the World in 2015, adopted by the Council on 20 June 2016(17),

–  having regard to the Action Plan on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment: Transforming the Lives of Girls and Women through EU External Relations 2016-2020 (GAPII), adopted by the Council on 26 October 2015(18),

–  having regard to the Council conclusions of 16 June 2016 on LGBTI equality(19) and the List of actions by the Commission to advance LGBTI equality (2016-2019)(20),

–  having regard to the Council conclusions of 26 May 2015 on Gender in Development(21),

–  having regard to the European Agenda on Migration of 13 May 2015 (COM(2015)0240) and the Council conclusions on migration of 20 July 2015(22), 14 September 2015(23) and 22 September 2015(24),

–  having regard to Council Decision (CFSP) 2015/260 of 17 February 2015 extending the mandate of the European Union Special Representative for Human Rights(25),

–  having regard to the Council conclusions of 5 December 2014 on the promotion and protection of children’s rights(26),

–  having regard to the Council conclusions of 14 May 2012 on ‘Increasing the Impact of EU Development Policy: an Agenda for Change’(27),

–  having regard to the revised EU indicators for the Comprehensive approach to the EU implementation of UN Security Council Resolutions 1325 and 1820 on women, peace and security, adopted by the Council on 20 September 2016(28),

–  having regard to the Council of Europe’s Istanbul Convention of 11 May 2011 on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence(29),

–  having regard to the Council Decision 2011/168/CFSP of 21 March 2011 on the International Criminal Court and repealing Common Position 2003/444/CFSP(30),

–  having regard to the Joint Communication from the Commission and the VP/HR on the review of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) (JOIN(2015)0050),

–  having regard to the Valletta Action Plan of 11-12 November 2015(31),

–  having regard to the UN Security Council Resolution of 13 October 2015 on women, peace and security implementation(32),

–  having regard to the UN Security Council Resolution of 19 June 2008 on sexual violence as war crimes(33),

–  having regard to UN Security Council Resolution of 31 October 2000 on women, peace and security(34),

–  having regard to the UN General Assembly Resolution of 18 December 2014 on the protection of migrants(35),

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

–  having regard to its resolution of 13 September 2016 on the EU Trust Fund for Africa: the implications for development and humanitarian aid(36),

–  having regard to its resolution of 5 July 2016 on the fight against trafficking in human beings in the EU’s external relations(37),

–  having regard to its resolution of 28 April 2016 on attacks on hospitals and schools as violations of international humanitarian law(38),

–  having regard to its resolution of 12 April 2016 on the situation in the Mediterranean and the need for a holistic EU approach to migration(39),

–  having regard to its resolution of 4 February 2016 on the systematic mass murder of religious minorities by the so-called ‘ISIS/Daesh’(40),

–  having regard to its resolution of 17 December 2015 on the Annual Report on Human Rights and Democracy in the World 2014 and the European Union’s policy on the matter(41),

–  having regard to its resolution of 10 September 2015 on migration and refugees in Europe(42),

–  having regard to its resolution of 8 October 2015 on the renewal of the EU Plan of Action on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment in Development(43),

–  having regard to its resolution of 8 October 2015 on the death penalty(44),

–  having regard to its resolution of 8 September 2015 on ‘human rights and technology: the impact of intrusion and surveillance systems on human rights in third countries’(45),

–  having regard to its resolution of 12 March 2015 on the Annual Report from the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy to the European Parliament(46),

–  having regard to its resolution of 12 March 2015 on the EU’s priorities for the UN Human Rights Council in 2015(47),

–  having regard to its resolution of 18 September 2014 on the situation in Iraq and Syria and the ISIS offensive, including the persecution of minorities(48),

–  having regard to its resolution of 27 February 2014 on the use of armed drones(49),

–  having regard to its resolution of 10 October 2013 on caste-based discrimination(50) and to the report of 28 January 2016 on minorities and caste-based discrimination by the UN Special Rapporteur on Minority Issues(51),

–  having regard to its resolution of 13 June 2013 on the freedom of press and media in the world(52),

–  having regard to its resolution of 11 December 2012 on a Digital Freedom Strategy in EU Foreign Policy(53),

–  having regard to its resolution of 17 November 2011 on EU support for the ICC: facing challenges and overcoming difficulties(54),

–  having regard to its resolution of 7 July 2011 on EU external policies in favour of democratisation(55),

–  having regard to its resolution of 17 June 2010 on EU policies in favour of human rights defenders(56),

–  having regard to the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs): Implementing the United Nations ‘Protect, Respect and Remedy’ Framework, endorsed by the UN Human Rights Council in its resolution 17/4 of 6 July 2011(57),

–  having regard to the Annual Report 2015 of the European Endowment for Democracy(58),

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Foreign Affairs and the opinions of the Committee on Development and the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality (A8-0355/2016),

A.  whereas Article 21 TEU commits the EU to a Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) guided by the principles which have inspired its own creation, and which it shall seek to advance in the world: democracy, the rule of law, the universality and indivisibility of human rights and fundamental freedoms, respect for human dignity, the principles of equality and solidarity, and respect for the principles of the United Nations Charter and international law;

B.  whereas Article 207 TFEU requires the EU’s commercial policy to be based on the principles and objectives of the EU’s external action;

C.  whereas Article 3 TEU affirms that ‘in its relations with the wider world, the Union shall uphold and promote its values and interests and contribute to the protection of its citizens. It shall contribute to peace, security, the sustainable development of the Earth, solidarity and mutual respect among peoples, free and fair trade, eradication of poverty and the protection of human rights, in particular the rights of the child, as well as to the strict observance and the development of international law, including respect for the principles of the United Nations Charter’;

D.  whereas respect for and the promotion and safeguarding of the indivisibility and universality of human rights are among the key aims of the EU’s foreign and security policies, as established by the human rights clause in all EU agreements with third countries;

E.  whereas respect for human rights, peace, security and development are closely linked and mutually reinforcing;

F.  whereas human rights and democracy support policies should be mainstreamed across all other EU policies with an external dimension, such as development, migration, security, counter-terrorism, neighbourhood policy, enlargement and trade, in particular through the implementation of human rights conditionalities;

G.  whereas internal and external coherence in the area of human rights is essential for the credibility of the EU’s human rights policy abroad, and whereas increased coherence between EU internal and external policies, as well as among the EU’s external policies is also an indispensable requirement for a successful and effective EU human rights and democratisation policy; whereas improved consistency should enable the EU to respond faster and more efficiently, already in the early stages of human rights violations; and whereas the challenge of coherence is particularly striking in relation to the current migration policy;

H.  whereas the values of freedom, respect for human rights and the principle of holding periodic and genuine elections are essential elements of democracy; whereas, in addition to the holding of free and fair elections, features of democratic regimes include transparent and accountable governance, respect for the rule of law, freedom of expression, respect for human rights, the existence of an independent judicial system, and respect for international law and international agreements on human rights;

I.  whereas respect for human rights is under threat worldwide, and whereas the universality of human rights is seriously being challenged by a number of authoritarian regimes; whereas there are numerous attempts worldwide to shrink the space of civil society, including in multilateral fora; and whereas the non-respect for human rights has negative consequences for the individual, for his or her relatives and for society;

J.  whereas the EU was a key player in the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which seeks to realize human rights of all;

K.  whereas a new Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy 2015-2019 was adopted by the Council on 20 July 2015, with a view to enabling the EU to meet these challenges through a more focused, systematic and coordinated use of its human rights instruments; whereas this Action Plan should be implemented in coherence with the Gender Action Plan 2016-2020;

L.  whereas the VP/HR has stated that human rights will be one of her overarching priorities and that she intends to use them as a compass with regard to all her relations with third countries; whereas she has also reiterated the EU’s commitment to promote human rights in all areas of foreign relations ‘without exception’;

M.  whereas the EU’s commitment to effective multilateralism, with the UN at its core, is an integral part of the Union’s external policy, based on the belief that a multilateral system founded on universal rules and values is best suited to addressing global crises, challenges and threats; whereas engaging with third countries, in all bilateral and multilateral fora, is one of the most effective tools for addressing human rights issues in third countries;

N.  whereas the regular sessions of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC), the appointment of Special Rapporteurs, the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) mechanism and the Special Procedures addressing either specific country situations or thematic issues all contribute to the international efforts to promote and respect human rights, democracy and the rule of law;

O.  whereas the EU considers close cooperation with civil society and human rights defenders (HRDs) in third countries to be one of its main priorities in advancing human rights and tackling human rights violations;

P.  whereas in its resolution of 22 October 2013 on local authorities and civil society: Europe’s engagement in support of sustainable development(59), Parliament expresses great concern at the crackdown on civil society organisations (CSOs), stresses the importance of defining a monitoring system for the evaluation of progress in terms of policy and regulatory provisions, and calls for the promotion of an enabling environment for CSOs; whereas many countries have recently passed strict NGO legislation that declares foreign organisations undesirable when deemed a threat to their constitutional order, defence or security, and whereas only in 2015, 185 environmental human rights activists have been killed in the world, 66 % of which in Latin America;

Q.  whereas travel bans to prevent HRDs from attending international events are being used by a growing number of countries, particularly in Asia, the Middle East and Africa;

R.  whereas Articles 18 and 19 of the UDHR acknowledge that everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, and freedom of opinion and expression, which includes the freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers; whereas the number of cases of persecution relating solely to people peacefully exercising their right to freedom of opinion, worship and expression has risen sharply;

S.  whereas Article 20 of the UDHR acknowledges that everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association; whereas UN Human Rights Council Resolution 21/16 reminds States of their obligation to respect and fully protect the rights of individuals to assemble peacefully and associate freely, online as well as offline, and whereas freedom of thought, conscience, religion and belief must be supported through interreligious and intercultural dialogues;

T.  whereas the basic rules of IHL and human rights are provided by the Geneva Conventions and the additional protocols, and are at the core of all humanitarian actions; whereas the protection of civilians and of displaced persons in conflict areas must be guaranteed in total neutrality and impartiality, and whereas aid independence must prevail;

U.  whereas illegal occupation of a territory is an on-going violation of international law, triggering under IHL the responsibility of the occupying power for the civilian population of that territory;

V.  whereas evidence of war crimes and crimes against humanity is difficult to preserve – especially at a time of unprecedented flows of refugees fleeing violence; whereas the preservation of evidence is essential to bringing perpetrators to justice;

W.  whereas attempts to shut down the US Guantánamo Bay prison failed and only 20 detainees were released or relocated in 2015;

X.  whereas, worldwide, more and more people are fleeing from war, armed conflicts or other degrading conditions, and whereas these refugee flows and various forms of migration represent a significant challenge, both for the EU and in global terms, requiring immediate, effective and sustainable solutions in line with our common European values; whereas the humanitarian aid provided by the Commission, being the leading global donor, helps refugees and displaced people in over 30 countries;

Y.  whereas the fight against migrant smuggling, trafficking and labour exploitation necessitates both short-, medium- and long-term responses, including measures to disrupt criminal networks and to bring criminals to justice, the gathering and analysis of data, measures to protect victims and to return irregularly staying migrants, as well as cooperation with third countries, along with longer-term strategies, to address the demand for trafficked and smuggled persons and the root causes of migration that force people into the hands of criminal smugglers;

Z.  whereas justice is essential to advancing respect for human rights, and the EU and its Member States have been unconditional supporters of the International Criminal Court (ICC) since its inception, while promoting the universality of the Rome Statute and defending its integrity with the purpose of strengthening the Court’s independence;

AA.  whereas substantial progress has been made so far towards abolishing the death penalty, and whereas many countries have suspended capital punishment, while others have taken legislative measures towards this end; whereas 2015 saw a dramatic rise in the overall number of executions, of which nearly 90 % happened in just three countries, namely Iran, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia; whereas Belarus remains the only country in Europe which has not abolished capital punishment;

AB.  whereas gender equality is at the core of European values and is enshrined within the EU’s legal and political framework, as well as being central to the UN Agenda 2030; whereas violence and discrimination against women and girls has dramatically increased in recent years, especially in war zones and under authoritarian regimes;

AC.  whereas, according to UNICEF, 250 million of children around the world are living in countries affected by conflict, and nearly 50 million children have either been forcibly displaced by violence, war and its atrocities, terrorism and insurgency, or have migrated across borders, and many continue to suffer from all forms of discrimination, violence, exploitation, abuse, forced labour, poverty and malnutrition;

AD.  whereas, according to UNICEF, 1 in 200 children in the world is a child refugee, nearly one third of the children living outside their country of birth is a refugee and the number of child refugees doubled between 2005 and 2015;

AE.  whereas Article 25 of the UDHR recognises the right of every person to a ‘standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family’, in which motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance, which includes medical care; whereas access to education, nutrition and healthcare should be guaranteed for all children; whereas UNHRC Resolution 26/28(36) calls for the next UNHRC Social Forum meeting to focus on access to medicines in the context of the right of everyone to enjoy the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health; whereas the Constitution of the WHO states that the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being without distinction of race, religion, political belief, economic or social condition;

AF.  whereas according to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, authorities must respect the rights of the child who is separated from one or both parents;

AG.  whereas violence against and unlawful prosecution of minorities, including LGBTI people, continues in many places around the world, and discrimination in health care, education, employment and other sectors is widespread;

AH.  whereas reports of violations of civil and political, economic, labour, social and cultural rights, as well as environmental damage resulting from malpractices by some private sector actors, continue to be heard from around the world; whereas there is a strong link between corruption, tax evasion, illicit capital flows and human rights violations;

AI.  whereas the UNGPs on Business and Human Rights apply to all states and to all business enterprises, whether transnational or other, regardless of their size, sector, location, ownership and structure, but whereas effective control and sanction mechanisms remain a challenge to the worldwide implementation of the UNGPs; whereas the special features of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) must be taken proper account of and integrated in a flexible corporate social responsibility (CSR) approach adapted to their potential;

AJ.  whereas in October 2015, the Commission released its new trade strategy ‘Trade for All’, in which it sets out its aim to use trade as a means to strengthen human rights in third countries;

AK.  whereas in 2015, the EU started working on legislation to tackle the trade in minerals that fuels conflict;

AL.  whereas national and international sporting events such as the Olympic Games and the football World Cups should not be used for political purposes, but organised in full respect of all human rights, as enshrined in the Olympic Charter, and should aim at a harmonious development of humankind, with a view to promoting a peaceful society concerned with the preservation of human rights and human dignity, and with no discrimination based on any grounds such as nationality, race, religion, politics, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation or sex characteristics;

AM.  whereas environmental changes are undermining access to water, natural resources and food;

Centrality of human rights in EU external policies

1.  Expresses its serious concern that the promotion and protection of human rights and democratic values are under threat worldwide, and that the universality of human rights is seriously being challenged in many parts of the world, including under authoritarian regimes as well as by terrorist groups such as Daesh;

2.  Expresses its serious concern at the numerous, ever-increasing attempts made to shrink the space of civil society and HRDs, the increasing limitations on freedom of assembly and freedom of expression, and the growing number of repressive laws affecting civil society adopted throughout the world in countries such as Russia, Turkey and China, including under the pretext of combating terrorism (through the introduction of counter-terrorism laws, emergency situations and security measures), whereas there is often a negative impact on human rights as well as frequent abuse of these laws for repression; recalls that such legislation should not, in any way, serve to shrink the space in which civil society groups are able to operate; calls for a clear condemnation of these abuses and violations;

3.  Stresses firmly that the EU is committed to a CFSP and to all other policies with an external dimension founded on the advancement of democracy, the rule of law, the universality and indivisibility of human rights and fundamental freedoms, respect for human dignity, the principles of equality and solidarity, and respect for the principles of the United Nations Charter and international human rights and humanitarian law; reiterates that these principles are also intrinsic to external action beyond the CFSP, including development and humanitarian policies;

4.  Calls on all the EU institutions and the Member States to act on their commitments to promote democracy and the rule of law, protect and realise human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the right to development by all peaceful means, and to place human rights at the centre of the EU’s relations with all third countries – including its strategic partners – and at all levels;

5.  Reiterates its call on the Member States to lead by example, by speaking with one voice in support of the indivisibility, interdependence, interrelation and universality of human rights and, in particular, by ratifying all international human rights instruments set up by the UN;

6.  Emphasises that, in order for the EU to be a credible actor in external relations, it should ensure increased coherence between its internal and external policies with regard to respect for human rights and democratic values (with human rights strategies on the promotion and protection of the rights of LGBTI people being crucial to this end), and it should aim towards a systematically consistent and coherent implementation of the EU’s human rights policy;

7.  Draws attention to its long-term commitment to promote human rights and advance democratic values as reflected, inter alia, in the annual award of the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, in the work of the Subcommittee on Human Rights, Democracy Support and Election Observations and of the European Endowment for Democracy, in the monthly plenary debates and resolutions on cases of breaches of human rights, democracy and the rule of law, and in the many parliamentary delegations;

8.  Is deeply concerned that many human rights defenders are under attack nowadays; calls on the EU, and the VP/HR in particular, to adopt a policy to denounce, systematically and unequivocally, the killing of HRDs and any attempt to subject them to any form of violence, persecution, threat, harassment, disappearance, imprisonment or arbitrary arrest, to condemn those who commit or tolerate such atrocities, and to step up public diplomacy in open and clear support of HRDs, also when it comes to their testimony in multilateral fora; calls on the EU to issue guidance on this policy, as this adds consistency to the EU’s current priorities as set out in the various existing EU Guidelines; encourages the EU Delegations and the Member States’ diplomatic representations to continue actively to support HRDs, notably by systematically monitoring trials, visiting HRDs in jail and issuing statements on individual cases, where appropriate; calls for the establishment of a system to monitor civil society space effectively and with clear benchmarks and indicators; reiterates the importance of the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR) in providing urgent direct financial and material support for HRDs at risk and the emergency fund that allows the EU Delegations to give direct ad-hoc grants to defenders whose lives are under imminent threat;

9.  Calls on the EU and its Member States to encourage the establishment of national human rights institutions (NHRIs), in accordance with the United Nations’ Paris Principles, with sufficient mandate, resources and expertise to fulfil the safeguarding and respect for human rights;

10.  Highlights the need to further inter-parliamentary relations between the Union and its partner countries in a framework of honest dialogue underpinned by mutual understanding and trust, with the aim of promoting human rights effectively;

EU Strategic Framework and the new Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy

11.  Welcomes the adoption of the second EU Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy (2015-2019), and urges the EU and its Member States to fully, consistently, transparently and in a timely manner implement the actions therein, and to strengthen democracy support; underlines that consensus and coordination between the EU and its Member States are needed for the coherent implementation of the Action Plan, and strongly encourages the Member States to take greater ownership of the implementation and review of the Action Plan; stresses that the Member States should report back on their implementation of the Action Plan;

12.  Stresses that, in order to fulfil the ambitious objectives set out in the second Action Plan, the EU must set aside sufficient resources and expertise, both in terms of dedicated human resources in delegations and at the Commission and the European External Action Service (EEAS), and in terms of funds available for projects;

13.  Considers a free civil society to be one of the foundations for the protection and support of human rights and democratic values, and is therefore concerned that the public space for civil society is shrinking, and that HRDs and journalists are increasingly under attack worldwide; welcomes the inclusion in the Action Plan of an objective to address threats to civil society space, and urges the EU to implement outlined actions; encourages all parties involved in EU external action to identify and address existing gaps in the protection of human rights and democratic freedoms, and to step up cooperation with civil society, parliaments, political parties and local authorities, and with regional and international organisations on the ground; draws attention to the fact that the Action Plan does not include a separate objective on fostering democratic standards in partner countries; calls on the Commission to develop EU guidelines for democracy support;

EU Annual Report

14.  Welcomes the attempts made to improve and make the thematic part of the Annual Report on Human Rights and Democracy more concise and systematic, and to make it more widely available to the general public; reiterates its belief that the Annual Report should be strengthened by a more objective approach whereby, in addition to achievements and best practices, the report would highlight very specific challenges and constraints faced in third countries, as well as make recommendations for corrective action and information of measures taken by the EEAS to overcome these challenges; reiterates its view that country reports that form part of the Annual Report should be as little descriptive as possible and should reflect the implementation of Human Rights and Democracy Country Strategies and give an overview of the impact of the EU’s actions on the ground;

15.  Reiterates its call for systematic and comprehensive reporting on the steps taken, the results achieved and the political conclusions drawn from action in response to resolutions adopted by Parliament on cases of breaches of human rights, democracy and the rule of law; insists on the need to ensure a rapid and appropriate responses to human rights infringements, even in the early stages of such violations; welcomes, in this regard, the follow-up made by the EEAS within the Subcommittee on Human Rights on resolutions concerning debates on cases of breaches of human rights, democracy and the rule of law; recalls its request for a comprehensive written response from the Commission and the EEAS to Parliament’s resolution on the Annual Report on Human Rights and Democracy, which play an important role in a systematic and in-depth follow-up to all the points raised by Parliament, and in parliamentary scrutiny; reiterates its invitation to the VP/HR to participate in a debate with the Members of the European Parliament in two plenary sessions per year, one at the time the EU Annual Report is presented, and the other in response to Parliament’s resolution;

EU Special Representative (EUSR) for Human Rights

16.  Recalls the importance of a stronger and more flexible mandate for the EUSR in enhancing the EU’s effectiveness, consistency and visibility in advancing human rights and democratic principles around the world; reiterates its call for this mandate to become a permanent one; considers, moreover, that the EUSR should have the right to speak publicly, and to have own-initiative powers, higher public visibility and adequate resources and expertise;

17.  Stresses the importance of systematic support for, and genuine and in-depth consultation with, civil society in preparation of the EUSR’s visits to partner countries; welcomes in this respect the EUSR’s strong engagement with HRDs and civil society, including local representatives, youth and children, as well with relevant international organisations, ahead of, during and in follow-up to their visits to third countries, and stresses the importance of continued and ever-stronger engagement on these lines, as well as the need for clear and transparent follow-up mechanisms; fully supports the EUSR’s focus, as a key priority during his mandate, on the promotion and protection of an open space for civil society and HRDs; calls on the EUSR regularly to report to Parliament after his visits; regrets that the work and the impact of the EUSR can only be partially accessed through a review of the Annual Report on Human Rights, his social media accounts and available speeches; regrets as well that there is no official information on his activities and plans, nor any progress reports or reviews;

18.  Encourages the EUSR to continue systematically to advocate for the EU’s human rights priorities, and to enhance the EU’s engagement with all relevant regional and international human rights organisations and mechanisms; calls on the Council to adopt as a general principle the practice of systematically including cooperation with the EUSR in the mandate of future geographic EUSRs;

Human Rights and Democracy Country Strategies (HRDCSs) and the role of EU Delegations

19.  Welcomes the addition of democracy to the HRDCSs as a necessary element of any comprehensive analysis of the state of human rights and democracy in partner countries;

20.  Reiterates the importance of taking into account HRDCSs at all levels of policy-making vis-à-vis third countries, including in the preparation of high-level political dialogues, Human Rights Dialogues, country strategy papers and annual action programmes;

21.  Reiterates that the HRDCSs should correspond to EU actions to be implemented in each country depending on specific situations, and should contain measurable progress indicators and the possibility to adjust them if necessary; points to the need continuously to assess HRDCSs; calls for further improvements in cooperation, communication and the exchange of information between EU Delegations, Member States’ embassies and EU institutions when drawing up and implementing the HRDCSs; reiterates its demand that the Members of the European Parliament be given access to the HRDCSs and to obtain information on how the EU implements these strategies, and that these are to be presented in a format that enables the Members to fulfil their duty of scrutiny properly;

22.  Stresses the need to implement a coherent and visible EU policy on civil society, and stresses the need for a more articulated understanding of the use of public diplomacy; encourages the publication of HRDCSs and roadmaps, and the establishment of an effective feedback, follow-up on cases and the sharing of information;

23.  Welcomes the nomination of human rights and/or gender focal points in all EU Delegations, and recalls its recommendation to the VP/HR and the EEAS to develop clear operational guidelines as to the role of human rights focal points; insists that the work of the human rights focal points should also be supported by Member States’ diplomatic staff; requests that the work of the human rights focal points be independent and free of political interference and harassment from national authorities of third countries, especially in their contacts with human rights activists and civil society; insists on the importance of training all EU Delegations staff on the contents of the EU Guidelines on Human Rights;

24.  Welcomes the increased budget and streamlined procedures of the EIDHR 2014-2020, and calls for the foreseen allocation to the EIDHR mid-term review to be maintained for the remainder of the current Multiannual Financial Framework period; reiterates the need for coherence and complementarity between the different EU funding instruments and the need to ensure that such reinforcement is applicable to all instruments that serve human rights;

25.  Calls for an annual adoption of EIDHR Annual Action Programmes, rather than, as most recently, a biennial one (2016-2017), to ensure maximum flexibility in response to developing situations, and optimal complementarity with the other EU External Financing Instruments;

Human Rights Dialogues and consultations

26.  Reiterates its support for dedicated Human Rights Dialogues and acknowledges that they can be an efficient and effective tool for bilateral engagement and cooperation, provided they allow counterparts to engage on issues of substance, send meaningful political messages and are result-oriented, with consistent follow up, that should go beyond merely exchanging information on best practices and challenges; invites the EU systematically to include discussions on the situation of the rights of women and children in all Human Rights Dialogues;

27.  Recognises the importance of engaging in human rights-specific dialogues also with countries with serious human rights problems; underlines, however, the need for the EU to draw clear political conclusions when these Human Rights Dialogues do not lead to positive outcomes; warns against side-lining human rights discussions in high-level political dialogues;

28.  Insists that discussions about human rights should never be subordinated to other interests in high-level political discussions; reiterates its call for the EEAS to develop a mechanism for reviewing Human Rights Dialogues, with a view to improving them; believes that, if such dialogues persistently fail, alternative tools to support the advancement of human rights in the country concerned should be used;

29.  Urges the EEAS systematically to carry out preparatory dialogues with civil society, also at local level, with the purpose of feeding directly into the Human Rights Dialogues; stresses the importance that the VP/HR and the EEAS systematically raise individual cases of HRDs during Human Rights Dialogues; calls on the EEAS systematically to follow up on the commitments made during Human Rights Dialogues and to systematise debriefing meetings with CSOs;

EU Guidelines on human rights

30.  Welcomes the EU Guidelines on human rights as a valuable EU human rights foreign policy tool providing practical guidance for EU Delegations and for the Member States’ diplomatic representations; reiterates its call for the adoption of new EU Guidelines for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of the Child without further delay;

31.  Underlines firmly the importance of a continuous assessment of the implementation of the Guidelines by using clear benchmarks; urges the Commission to conduct and publish a thorough evaluation of the implementation of the Guidelines by EU Delegations and Member States’ diplomatic representations in all third countries in order to detect possible differences and gaps in implementation and remedy them; considers that, in order to ensure a proper implementation of the Guidelines, systematic and effective training is needed among EEAS and EU Delegation staff;

Fight against all forms of discrimination

32.  Condemns in the strongest terms all forms of discrimination, including those based on race, colour, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, language, culture, religion or belief, social origin, caste, birth, age, disability or any other status; reiterates its call for a strengthened EU policy and diplomacy that should aim to eradicate all forms of discrimination, and to use every opportunity to express its grave concern over such discriminations; urges, furthermore, that the EU continues to promote the ratification and full implementation of all relevant UN conventions, such as the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities; welcomes the EEAS work on an anti-discrimination handbook;

Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) missions and operations

33.  Recalls the EU’s commitment to mainstream human rights and gender aspects in common security and defence policy missions, in line with the landmark UN Security Council Resolutions 1325 and 1820 on women, peace and security, and the recently adopted UN Security Council resolution 2242 making women a central component in all efforts to address global challenges; reiterates, in this context, its call on the EU and its Member States to support, in the process of building sustainable reconciliation, the systematic participation of women as a vital component of peace processes; calls, in this regard, on the EU to support, at the international level, the recognition of the added value of women’s participation in the prevention and resolution of conflicts, as well as in peacekeeping operations, humanitarian assistance and post-conflict reconstruction;

34.  Stresses that the CSDP is an instrument that not only ensures European security, but is part of the EU’s foreign policy instruments and must therefore be used towards the strengthening of furthering human rights and democracy in third countries;

35.  Calls for further European military integration to improve European armed forces’ readiness and flexibility, in order to allow them to respond to threats and to instances of grave violations of human rights, genocide or ethnic cleansing; stresses, in this regard, that the concept of ‘Responsibility to Protect’ should be consolidated into international law and that the EU, as a community of values, should lead initiatives and meaningful actions to protect civilians also when they are threatened by their own state;

36.  Stresses that migrant smuggling is linked to human trafficking and is a serious violation of human rights; points out that CSDP missions such as European Union Naval Force – Mediterranean Operation Sophia (EUNAVFOR MED) are an effective way of tackling migrant smuggling; calls on the EU to continue and step up operations of this kind;

37.  Calls on the Foreign Affairs Council and the VP/HR to request that the EU Heads of Mission and appropriate EU representatives (heads of EU Civilian Operations, Commanders of EU Military Operations and EU Special Representatives) report on cases of serious violation of IHL, and to promote the Code of Conduct regarding Security Council action against genocide, crimes against humanity or war crimes, committing UN Member States to support action by the Security Council aimed at preventing or ending such crimes; calls for the integration of child safeguarding policies in the operations of all EU civilian and military operations in contact with children;

38.  Requests that the EU strengthens its cooperation with the UN in the context of formulating a common strategic vision on security on the basis of, on the one hand, the new EU Global Strategy on Foreign and Security Policy and, on the other, the UN’s revision of its peace operations and its peacebuilding architecture; insists that there be cooperation with the UN in strengthening the role and capacity of regional and sub-regional organisations in peacekeeping, conflict prevention, civilian and military crisis management, and conflict resolution, and that procedures for the use of the CSDP in support of UN operations be developed further, including through the deployment of EU battlegroups, or through capacity-building and Security Sector Reform initiatives, while human rights and gender are mainstreamed into the work of the mission and operation;

Multilateral engagement for human rights

39.  Firmly reiterates that human rights, as enshrined in UN conventions, are universal, indivisible, inter-dependent and inter-related, as agreed in the 1993 Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, and that respect for these rights must be enforced; recalls the Union’s commitment to promote and develop international law under the UN; stresses that it is important that the Member States ratify all international human rights instruments established by the UN, including those enshrined in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and, notably, the Optional Protocol establishing complaints and inquiry mechanisms, in conformity with Article 21 TEU;

40.  Underlines the need for the EU leadership to push for reforms of the UN with the goal of strengthening the impact and strength of the rules-based multilateral system, and of ensuring more efficient human rights protection and the advancement of international law; reiterates, furthermore, the importance of ensuring that the EU engages actively and consistently in UN human rights mechanisms, in particular with the Third Committee, the General Assembly (UNGA) and the UNHRC, in order to improve its credibility; supports efforts made by the EEAS, the EU Delegations in New York and Geneva, and the Member States further to increase EU coherence on human rights issues at the UN; encourages the EU to intensify the practice of cross-regional initiatives, to initiate and co-sponsor resolutions, and to closely follow the UN Universal Periodic Review (UPR) procedure; condemns the fact that seats on the UNHRC are often occupied by countries with proven track record of grave human rights violations, and calls on the EU Member States to publicise their UNHRC votes; calls, in this regard, on the EU and its Member States to reflect the equal importance of rights in their voting patterns, and to determine their vote on UNHRC resolutions on the basis of the substance rather than on the authors of these texts; stresses the importance of, and the need for, permanent EU representation in all multilateral forums and for stronger visibility of EU action;

41.  Calls on the EU to bear particular attention to the disputed territories of its Eastern neighbourhood, where around five million people live without real human rights protection and access to justice; calls on the EU to put this issue on top of the bilateral agenda for solutions with the concerned States and to use the full range of its instruments to support concrete solutions to advance human rights in these entities and to support the work of HRDs there;

Promoting a free space for civil society and supporting human rights defenders (HRDs)

42.  Strongly condemns any attack, intimidation, arrest, killing, harassment or repression of prosecutors, judges, lawyers, academics and journalists, or of members of any other profession whose independence and professional freedom are essential to the building of a democratic society;

43.  Regrets the increasing number of attacks against environmental and HRDs worldwide; strongly condemns impunity towards their murders and calls on the EEAS to advocate demands that those responsible be brought to justice;

44.  Strongly condemns the fact that many countries worldwide have recently passed strict NGO laws that debilitate civil society and lead to their arbitrary application, with punishments including imprisonment, the freezing of assets and access bans for NGO staff members, especially towards those receiving foreign public funds;

45.  Strongly condemns the issuing of travel bans by authorities as a tool to intimidate and silence independent voices of HRDs and activists, as well as of lawyers and journalists, and emphasises that these measures are often taken arbitrarily and without judicial grounds;

46.  Highlights the role of EU Delegations in reaffirming and promoting the crucial role civil society plays in a democracy, and in creating an enabling environment for civil society, requiring a maximum of transparency and inclusion in their cooperation with CSOs and HRDs; regrets, therefore, that, ten years after the adoption of the EU Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders, the contact information of Human Rights Focal Points / Liaison Officers for Human Rights Defenders are still not included on the websites of all EU Delegations;

47.  Calls on the VP/HR and the EU foreign ministers to place on the agenda of the Foreign Affairs Council, on a regular basis, a discussion of EU efforts to pursue the release of HRDs, aid workers, journalists, political activists and others, and to arrange a public annual Foreign Affairs Council with an agenda that includes the shrinking space for civil society and the jailing of HRDs, as well as to address these cases with relevant counterparts on all occasions, including those raised in Parliament’s resolutions concerning debates on cases of breaches of human rights, democracy and the rule of law;

48.  Calls on the international community to bring political leaders to justice when they abuse police and military force in a structural way to silence protests against (the prolonging of) their leadership;

Migrants, refugees, asylum seekers and internally displaced persons (IDPs)

49.  Expresses its solidarity with the refugees and migrants who suffer grave human rights violations in high numbers, as victims of conflicts, governance failure and trafficking networks; condemns the dramatic number of deaths at sea in the Mediterranean; is extremely concerned about the growing number of human rights abuses against refugees, irregular migrants and asylum seekers on their route to Europe; highlights the fact that women and child refugees, asylum seekers and undocumented migrants are particularly vulnerable on migrant routes and within the EU itself; calls urgently for measures to improve the coherence of the migration policies, and stresses the need for a holistic approach to find sustainable, long-term and coherent solutions, based on international human rights standards and principles while tackling the root causes of the refugee crisis; underlines the need for solidarity in order to protect migrants and refugees, in line with human rights-based EU policies; highlights, in this regard, the importance of differentiating between refugees and migrants;

50.  Underlines the fact that conflicts, wars, failures of governance and the lack of respect for human rights and democracy constitute key causes for migration and displacement; stresses that full access to free, public and quality education and healthcare services, including sexual and reproductive health and rights, and access to the labour market, and to housing that meets the needs of refugees, should be provided by host countries; emphasises that the migrants’ and refugees’ willingness to integrate, together with appropriate welfare policies, are key to integration; calls on the EU to increase efforts to support Lebanon and Jordan, which shelter unprecedented numbers of refugees, who often face multiple threats;

51.  Highlights the need to strengthen cooperation with countries of origin and transit with a view to facilitating both the structured management of migration flows and action to address the underlying causes of emigration; stresses that it is vital to combat the groups involved in migrant smuggling; points out that the EU needs to encourage the countries concerned to sign the Palermo Protocol against migrant smuggling; recalls the commitments agreed on at the Valletta summit;

52.  Stresses the urgent need to develop and introduce a comprehensive, coherent and well-coordinated Common European Asylum System, sharing the responsibility among the Member States;

53.  Calls on the EU and the Member States to establish full transparency concerning the funds allocated to third countries for cooperation on migration, and to communicate the safeguards set to ensure that such cooperation does not benefit, directly or indirectly, security, police and justice systems involved in human rights violations;

54.  Acknowledges the recent Commission proposal for a Union list of safe countries of origin, amending the Asylum Procedures Directive;

55.  Considers that, in order to increase the efficiency of readmissions and to ensure the coherence of returns at a European level, it will be necessary to adopt new EU readmission agreements, which should take preference over bilateral agreements between Member States and third countries;

56.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to ensure that implementation of the Returns Directive goes hand in hand with respect for the procedures, standards and fundamental human rights which allow the EU to ensure humane and dignified treatment of returnees, in line with the principle of non-refoulement; urges the EU and the Member States to pay particular attention to asylum cases relating to possible political persecution, so as to prevent any return that could potentially entail a violation of human rights in the country of origin or a third country;

57.  Reiterates its call on the EU to ensure that all migration, cooperation and readmission agreements with non-EU states comply with international human rights, refugee law and international maritime law, as well as with EU principles and values; calls on the Member States to respect the international principle of non-refoulement, in accordance with international law; requests that monitoring mechanisms be integrated in such a way that allows the human rights impact of cooperation on migration with non-EU states, and border control measures, to be evaluated; insists that human rights need to be mainstreamed and monitored in all activities carried out by Frontex; calls on the EU actively to participate in the debate on the term "climate refugee", including its possible legal definition in international law;

58.  Calls, furthermore, for a clause to indicate that these agreements could be suspended until the parties effectively grant sufficient guarantees regarding the individual examination of asylum claims and, more generally, the respect for the human rights of migrants, asylum seekers and refugees;

59.  Recalls the need to respect the principle of non-refoulement in European and international waters, as upheld by the European Court of Human Rights and existing EU legislation; recalls the commitment to develop adequate legal and safe migration channels while better protecting the EU’s external borders; calls on the EU and more developed third countries to conclude partnership agreements with other nations to facilitate family reunification and mobility for persons of all skills levels, including the least qualified;

60.  Calls on the Member States to respect and fully implement the adopted EU common asylum package and the common migration legislation, particularly to safeguard vulnerable asylum seekers such as children, women, elderly people and LGBTI people, against violence and discrimination during the asylum process, and to provide appropriate training to Member States to enable appropriate and sensible proceedings; calls on the Member States to participate in resettlement programmes, giving access to family reunification and granting humanitarian visas; stresses the importance of addressing administrative and political obstacles to a speedy implementation of relocation commitments; understands that the safe return of those who, following individual assessment of their asylum application, are not eligible for protection in the Union must be carried out;

61.  Is deeply concerned about the growing numbers of child refugees and about the situation of unaccompanied, missing or separated children; urges the Member States to make it an absolute priority swiftly to reunite unaccompanied minors with family members; stresses the importance of providing children with access to health care and education as part of EU programmes to address the root causes of migration; calls on states to end the detention of children, as well as to take into account the best interest of the child in all procedures and ensure protection for children according to international law; highlights the importance of allocating adequate resources to the protection of refugee and migrant children from violence, exploitation and abuse; calls on the Commission to ensure that unaccompanied minors do not disappear, and to design a strategy for avoiding that, in the future, unaccompanied migrant minors go missing on EU-territory and for finding the whereabouts of missing children;

62.  Recognises that during their journey and on arrival in the country where they seek asylum, LGBTI asylum seekers are often at risk of additional dangers, which can take the form of harassment, exclusion, sexual violence or other forms of violence; recalls that a number of third countries deemed ‘safe’ for asylum seekers discriminate against LGBTI people or even criminalise homosexuality; emphasises that vulnerable groups require additional safeguards, and calls on states to ensure that LGBTI refugees are protected as required by IHL;

63.  Highlights the importance of investing in preventive measures, namely through the development of strategies of integration and social inclusion; stresses the need to implement specific de-radicalisation and re-integration programmes targeting returnees;

64.  Draws attention to the problematic situation concerning refugees in Syria’s neighbouring states, and considers it important for the EU to do everything in its power to help ensure that refugees in these countries are guaranteed decent living conditions, and, in particular, access to healthcare, education and employment possibilities;

65.  Highlights the dramatic situation of IDPs, especially of the enormous number of IDPs in Iraq and Syria, as well as of the increasing number of IDPs in Ukraine, together totalling 1,4 million in 2015; stresses that programmes on refugees in a region need to acknowledge and incorporate the potential fate of IDPs as well; calls on the Commission, the Member States and the international community to take steps to improve their situation on the ground and to ensure that displaced persons have access to housing, food, healthcare and education;

66.  Recalls how, according to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC), 19,3 million people were displaced in 2015 alone in the wake of environmental disasters; recalls that this displacement above all concerns regions of the South; points out that 85 % of these displacements occur in developing countries, primarily within one country or parts of countries;

Trafficking in human beings

67.  Calls on the EU to make the fight against trafficking in human beings a priority in its external policies, addressing both the demand and supply side of the phenomenon, to pay particular attention to the protection of victims and to increase communication and cooperation with relevant actors in the fight against trafficking in human beings; reiterates the need for all Member States to implement Directive 2011/36/EU and the EU Strategy towards the Eradication of Trafficking in Human Beings;

68.  Recalls that criminal networks are taking advantage of the increasing migration pressures, the lack of safe migration channels and of the vulnerability of migrants and refugees, especially women, girls and children, in order to subject them to smuggling, trafficking in human beings, slavery and sexual exploitation;

69.  Urges the EU and its Member States to pay attention to the identification of refugees and migrants as victims of trafficking in human beings or as victims of violations and abuse as part of smuggling; calls, in this context, for training of border guards to ensure accurate identification, which is fundamental to the realisation of the rights to which victims are legally entitled;

70.  Welcomes the increase in resources for the Triton and Poseidon operations; notes the launch of the EUNAVFOR MED Operation Sophia against smugglers and traffickers in the Mediterranean and supports the reinforcement of the management of the Union’s external borders;

71.  Calls on the EU and its Member States to ratify and implement the International Convention on the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families;

The links between development, democracy and human rights

72.  Expresses its profound concern over the rise of extreme poverty and inequality across certain parts of the world, which jeopardises the full enjoyment of all human rights; believes that respect for human rights and the right to development are intrinsically linked; stresses that respect for human rights, including social and economic rights, gender equality, good governance, upholding democracy and the rule of law, and peace and security are prerequisites for eradicating poverty and inequalities;

73.  Welcomes the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development; emphasises that EU development cooperation with third countries should aim at creating an international environment conducive to the realisation of social and economic rights, and calls for the implementation of the 1986 UN Declaration on the Right to Development; recalls the crucial importance of the principle of Policy Coherence for Development (PCD), as enshrined in Article 208 TFEU, in achieving respect for human rights; calls on the EU to ensure that the necessary guidelines, impact assessments and monitoring and reporting mechanisms make PCD a reality in EU policies and in those of its Member States; believes that the implementation of PCD, as enshrined in Article 208 TFEU, and clearly defined results frameworks in all EU instruments and human rights mechanisms are crucial to fulfil the 2030 Agenda, ensure the inclusion of marginalised and vulnerable groups, and mainstream a human rights-based approach (RBA); insists on strengthening coherence and coordination among all EU external policies and instruments while implementing the RBA; calls on the Member States to take action within the scope of their powers and in keeping with the development commitments entered into and with EU policies in this area; calls on the Commission to carry out an evaluation of the use of the RBA toolbox in Delegations and to provide Parliament with an overview of that evaluation;

74.  Recalls the introduction of an RBA in EU development policy aimed at integrating human rights principles into EU operational activities for development, covering arrangements, both at headquarters and in the field, for the synchronisation of human rights and development cooperation activities; calls for greater dissemination of the RBA toolbox among our partners, including local authorities, civil society and the private sector, and for its implementation to be closely monitored by the Commission;

75.  Takes the view that human rights for all must be a cross-cutting feature in the achievement of all goals and targets of the 2030 Agenda; calls for an inclusive human-rights-sensitive and rights-based Sustainable Development Goal indicator framework to be established at national and international level in order to ensure strong transparency and accountability in this regard, so that the resources allocated to development really reach people in need;

76.  Reaffirms the urgent need properly to address the global challenge of poverty and of malnutrition-related and neglected diseases; calls for an ambitious long-term political strategy and plan of action on global health, innovation and access to medicines that includes, inter alia, investment in research and development, so as to safeguard the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and wellbeing of every human being, without discrimination on grounds of race, religion, political belief, economic or social condition, gender identity or sexual orientation;

77.  Is concerned about any attempts to use funding earmarked for action to combat poverty and foster development – which also gives practical effect to policies whose ultimate aim is to uphold human rights – for non-development-related purposes; stresses that development aid should aim at eradicating poverty, and not merely become an instrument aimed at controlling migration, and recalls the importance of Sustainable Development Goal 16 on Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions for pursuing improvements in human rights and effective democratic governance; believes that in order to ensure the transparency of EU aid and the accountability of the recipient countries, an anti-corruption clause should be introduced in all development programmes, and that consolidation of the rule of law, good governance, institutional capacities with the use of budget support, democratic participation and representative decision-making, stability, social justice, and inclusive and sustainable growth, allowing fair redistribution of the wealth produced, should be key objectives of all EU external policies; warns against populism, extremism and constitutional abuses that legitimise breaches of human rights;

78.  Notes the persistent financing gap, due to increasing humanitarian needs, with regard to humanitarian aid, and the shortcomings in the World Food Programme resulting in the cutting of food supplies; calls on the UN Member States, and on the EU and its Member States to, at the very least, honour their financial pledges; notes, in this regard, that most EU Member States have not reached their 0,7 % GDP commitment to development aid, but welcomes the EU’s commitments with regard to humanitarian aid and civil protection, the EU and its Member States being the largest donor;

79.  Welcomes the new European External Investment Plan (EEIP) and the Africa Trust Fund that aim to address the root causes of poverty, inequalities and irregular migration by creating sustainable growth and jobs, and to encourage respect for human rights and private investment in Africa and the EU Neighbourhood; requests that the European Regional Development Fund be temporarily used in the EU neighbouring countries so as to contribute to their stabilisation;

80.  Welcomes the inclusion of a development chapter in the EU Annual Report on Human Rights and Democracy in the World in 2015 and calls for this to become standard practice for future years’ reports;

Trade, business and human rights

81.  Calls for the swift, effective and comprehensive implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights; urges all UN Member States, including the EU Member States, to develop and implement national action plans; considers that trade and human rights can go hand in hand and that the business community has an important role to play in promoting human rights and democracy;

82.  Reaffirms the urgent need to act in a continuous, effective and coherent manner at all levels, including national, European and international, in order effectively to address human rights abuses and corruption by international corporations when they occur, and to ensure that they can be held accountable, including by addressing the legal problems resulting from the extra-territorial dimension of companies and their conduct;

83.  Calls on the UN, and on the EU and its Member States, to raise with multinational and European enterprises the issues of land grabbing and the treatment of land rights defenders, who are often victims of reprisals, including threats, harassment, arbitrary arrest, assault and murder;

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

85.  Recalls the different but complementary roles of states and companies with regard to human rights protection; strongly reiterates that, where human rights abuses occur, states must grant the victims access to effective remedy; recalls, in this context, that respect for human rights by third countries, including guarantees of effective remedy for all victims of such abuses, constitutes an essential element of the EU’s external relations with these countries; welcomes the fact that the EU has played a leading role in negotiating and implementing a number of initiatives for global responsibility, which go hand in hand with the promotion of, and respect for, international standards; welcomes the Council’s conclusions on business and human rights adopted on 20 June 2016 and the fact that they invite the National Action Plans (NAPs) on Business and Human Rights to include access to remedy;

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

87.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to guarantee policy coherence on business and human rights at all levels, in particular in relation to the Union’s trade policy; invites the Commission and the Member States to report regularly on the steps taken to ensure effective protection of human rights in the context of business activity;

88.  Reiterates its strong call for the systematic introduction of human rights clauses in all international agreements, including trade and investment agreements concluded and to be concluded between the EU and third countries; sees a need, moreover, for ex ante monitoring mechanisms before any framework agreement is concluded, and on which such conclusion is made conditional as a fundamental part of the agreement, and for ex post monitoring mechanisms that enable tangible action to be taken in response to infringements of these clauses, such as appropriate sanctions as stipulated in the human rights clauses of the agreement, including (temporary) suspension of the agreement;

89.  Calls for the setting up of mechanisms aimed at ensuring respect for human rights by states and companies alike, and for the setting up of complaint mechanisms for people whose rights are violated by trade and investment agreements;

90.  Notes the Commission’s legislative proposal of 28 September 2016 amending Regulation (EC) No 428/2009 for the control of exports of dual-use items and technologies (COM(2016)0616), which seeks to strengthen this control in view of the fact that certain items and technologies can be misused to commit serious human rights violations;

91.  Welcomes the agreement to update the EU’s export controls with regard to goods that could be used for capital punishment, torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, and calls for the effective and full implementation of this key legislation; encourages the EU and its Member States to encourage third countries to consider adopting similar legislation, as well as to launch an initiative to promote an international framework on tools of torture and capital punishment; welcomes the initiative for a regulation setting up a system of supply chain due diligence for responsible sourcing of minerals from conflict-affected areas; welcomes the Commission’s proposal to update the EU’s dual-use export control legislation; stresses that human rights as a criteria for export licences is a priority for Parliament, and calls on the Member States finally to agree to move towards a more modern, flexible and human rights-based export policy; calls on the Member States to exercise stricter and more human rights-based arms export controls, especially when it comes to countries with proven track records of violent internal repression and human rights violations;

92.  Welcomes the adoption of the Commission’s new trade strategy ‘Trade for All’, in which it aims to mainstream human rights in trade policy and use the EU’s position as a trading bloc to leverage human rights in third countries; stresses that this will need full consistency and complementarity of trade and foreign policy initiatives, including close cooperation between the different Directorate Generals, the EEAS and Member States authorities; notes the Commission’s plans to strengthen European economic diplomacy and stresses that trade policy should also contribute to sustainable growth in third countries; calls on the Commission to engage all stakeholders in the discussion on the regulatory framework and business obligations in countries where private and public investment are likely to increase; urges the Commission to ensure that the projects supported by the EIB are in line with EU policies, and recommends improving ex-post controls assessing the economic, social and environmental impact of EIB-supported projects;

93.  Welcomes the new Generalised Scheme of Preferences Regulation (GSP), which entered into force on 1 January 2014, as a key EU trade policy instrument to promote human and labour rights, environmental protection and good governance in vulnerable developing countries; welcomes, in particular, that GSP+ trade benefits are inherently and legally conditional upon the continued implementation of international human rights conventions; welcomes the publication of the Commission’s first biennial status report on the implementation of the GSP+, and the dialogue on this report with Parliament before its publication; notes that infringements of core labour standards have been reported in several countries with GSP+ status, and urges the genuine enforcement of GSP+ to be implemented; calls on the Commission to explore possibilities to include the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court in the list of conventions required for GSP+ status, and calls on GSP+ applicants that are not state parties to the Statute to ratify it;

94.  Welcomes the fact that 14 countries have been granted especially advantageous trade preferences under the new GSP+, in force since 1 January 2014, and welcomes as well the much-urged compliance with 27 international conventions (including conventions on fundamental human rights and labour rights);

95.  Reiterates its strong call for comprehensive, prior human rights impact assessments that in a substantive way take into account the views of civil society for all trade and investment agreements;

96.  Welcomes the adoption of new guidelines on the analysis of human rights impacts in impact assessments for trade-related policy initiatives(60), but is deeply concerned by the quality of the human rights considerations in the Sustainability Impact Assessment (SIA) of the EU-Myanmar Investment Protection Agreement, and by the fact that the Commission did not carry out a human rights impact assessment for the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement; reiterates its support for a comprehensive assessment to be conducted as part of the ex-post evaluation of these agreements;

Sport and human rights

97.  Is concerned about the awarding of the hosting of mega-sporting events to countries with very poor human rights records, such as the FIFA World Cup in Russia in 2018 and in Qatar in 2022, and the Olympic Games in Beijing in 2022, and human rights abuses caused by mega-sporting events, including forced evictions without consultation or compensation of the populations concerned, the exploitation of vulnerable groups such as children and migrant workers, which may amount to slavery, and the silencing of CSOs denouncing such violations of human rights; calls on the International Olympic Committee and the International Association of Football Federations (FIFA) to align their practices with the ideals of sport by putting in place safeguard mechanisms to prevent, monitor and provide remedy to all human rights abuses connected to mega sporting events; calls for the development of an EU policy framework on sport and human rights; calls on the EU and its Member States to engage with national sports federations, corporate actors and CSOs on the modalities of their participation in such events;

Persons with disabilities

98.  Welcomes the new Objectives 12 and 16, especially sub point 16f, in the Council Conclusions on the Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy 2015-2019, and calls on the Commission to ensure that implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) is raised systematically in human rights dialogues with third countries; notes that the specific nature of the needs of persons with disabilities in the context of non-discrimination efforts have to be taken into account; urges the thorough examination of the effectiveness of disability-related projects and of the proper involvement of disabled persons’ organisations in the planning and implementation of these projects;

99.  Calls on the Member States to ensure that people with a disability have genuine freedom of movement in public spaces and thus equality of opportunity to participate in public life;

100.  Strongly urges the mainstreaming of the human rights of persons with disabilities in all EU external policies and actions, especially in EU migration and refugee policies, providing an appropriate response to their specific needs, as they suffer from multiple discrimination; recalls that women and children with disabilities experience multiple discrimination and are often at greater risk of suffering violence, abuse, maltreatment or exploitation; strongly supports the recommendation to mainstream a gender perspective in all the EU’s disability strategies, including its external policies and action;

101.  Encourages the VP/HR to continue to support the process of ratification and implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities by those countries that have not ratified or implemented it as yet; notes that the EU should lead by example through the domestic effective implementation of the UN CRPD; calls for the EU to take a leading role in the implementation of an inclusive 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development which would ensure that no one is left behind, as advised by the CRPD Committee in the Concluding Observations to its review of the implementation of the Convention in the EU;

Rights of women and children

102.  Welcomes the adoption of the Gender Action Plan (2016-2020) which provides a comprehensive list of actions to improve the situation of women with regard to equal rights and empowerment; stresses that it should be implemented together with the Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy, to ensure the recognition of women’s rights as such; welcomes as well the adoption of the Strategic Engagement for Gender Equality (2016-2019), which promotes gender equality and women’s rights across the world; reaffirms that women’s rights cannot be compromised in deference to specific proscriptions by any religion or belief; requests that the EU step up its support to the implementation of the obligations and commitments in the area of women’s rights arising from the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), the Beijing Platform for Action, the Cairo Declaration on Population and Development and their respective outcome reviews, and the Sustainable Development Goals; stresses the importance of not undermining the acquis of the Beijing and Cairo Platforms for Action regarding access to education and health as a basic human right, and the protection of sexual and reproductive rights, and to ensure that all necessary safe medical and psychological assistance and services are provided to female war rape victims, including safe abortion, as foreseen under IHL; points out that family planning, maternal health, easy access to contraception and safe abortion, and the full range of sexual and reproductive health services are important elements in saving women’s lives, as well as in reducing infant and maternal mortality; highlights the need to place these policies at the core of development cooperation with third countries; stresses that upholding all rights of women, safeguarding the respect of their human dignity, and eliminating violence and discrimination against them are essential to realizing their human rights; stresses the right of every individual to decide freely on matters related to their sexuality, sexual and reproductive health; recognises, in this regard, the inalienable rights of women to autonomous decision-making, including on access to family planning;

103.  Reaffirms its condemnation of all forms of abuse and violence against women and children, and gender-based violence, including the harmful practices of early and forced marriages, female genital mutilation (FGM), exploitation and slavery, domestic violence, as well as the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war; considers that violence towards women is also expressed psychologically, and stresses the need to integrate gender considerations that, inter alia, promote the active participation of women in humanitarian aid, and incorporate protection strategies against sexual and gender-based violence, as well as basic health measures comprising sexual and reproductive health services; stresses that the Commission and the Member States must not only combat all violence perpetrated against women, but must also, as a matter of priority, promote access to education and fight gender stereotyping for girls and boys from an early age; calls on the EU and its Member States swiftly to ratify the Istanbul Convention in order to ensure coherence between EU internal and external action on violence against women and girls, and gender-based violence; welcomes the proposal put forward by the Commission on 4 March 2016 for the EU to accede to the Istanbul Convention, the first legally binding international instrument seeking to prevent and combat violence against women; believes that this will lend greater effectiveness and coherence to EU internal and external policies, and strengthen the EU’s responsibility and role in combating violence against women and gender-based violence at the international level; urges the Commission and the Council to do their utmost to enable the EU to sign and conclude the Convention, while also encouraging the 14 Member States which have not yet done so to sign and ratify the Istanbul Convention and ensure that the Convention is properly implemented; points to the need to ensure that health professionals, police forces, prosecutors, judges, diplomats and peacekeepers, both within the EU and in non-member countries, are properly trained to help and support victims of violence, especially women and children, in conflict situations and operations on the ground;

104.  Is deeply concerned about human rights violations affecting women and children in refugee camps and reception centres, including reported cases of sexual violence and unequal treatment of women and children; urges the EEAS to push for stricter rules and good practices in third countries; stresses the need for access to health and psychological care for women and children abused in conflict, in line with international law, and the need for continuity in the education, healthcare and food supply of children in refugee camps, in conflict areas, and in areas affected by extreme poverty and environmental extreme areas;

105.  Notes that measures to tackle gender-based violence must also address online violence, including harassment, bullying and intimidation, and work to create an online environment that is safe for women and girls;

106.  Welcomes the adoption, and supports the implementation, of the UN Security Council’s recent Resolution 2242 making women a central component in all efforts to address global challenges and calling for additional efforts to integrate the women, peace and security agendas in all the different dimensions of peacekeeping; stresses the importance of women’s equal, full and active participation in the prevention and resolution of conflicts, and in the peace negotiation and peace-building process; recommends that a quota system be introduced in order to provide a way of promoting women’s participation at all political levels;

107.  Deeply regrets that Roma people, and in particular Roma women, continue to suffer from widespread discrimination and anti-Gypsyism, which feeds the cycle of disadvantage, exclusion, segregation and marginalisation; calls on the EU and its Member States to respect in full the human rights of Roma people by ensuring the right to education, health services, employment, housing and social protection;

108.  Strongly regrets the lack of gender equality in the political sphere and women’s under‑representation in political, social and economic decision-making, which undermines human rights and democracy; considers that governments should aim for gender equality in democracy-building and maintenance processes, and should combat all forms of gender discrimination within society; stresses that the electoral observation missions’ reports offer precise guidelines for the EU’s political dialogue with third countries with a view to improving women’s participation in the electoral process and the democratic life of the country;

109.  Deplores the fact that some countries still restrict women’s participation in elections;

110.  Deplores the fact that women worldwide continue to face enormous challenges in finding and keeping decent jobs, as demonstrated by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) report ‘Women at work 2016’;

111.  Regrets that the glass ceiling for women in business, the gender pay gap and the societal discouragement of female entrepreneurship are still global phenomena; calls for initiatives to empower women further, especially in the areas of self-employment and SMEs;

112.  Recalls that access to education, professional training and microcredit are essential tools for empowering women and preventing violations of their human rights;

113.  Encourages women to become actively involved in trade unions and other organisations, as this will do much to introduce gender aspects into working conditions;

114.  Urges the Member States, the Commission and the EEAS to focus on the economic and political emancipation of women in developing countries by promoting their involvement in business and in the implementation of local and regional development projects;

115.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to implement gender budgeting in all relevant EU funding;

116.  Calls for investment in women and young people, since this is an effective way to combat poverty, and female poverty in particular;

117.  Is deeply concerned that the rapidly growing antimicrobial resistance (AMR) threat is expected to become the world’s largest cause of death, victimising in particular the vulnerable and the weak in developing countries; calls on the Commission to develop without delay a truly effective public health strategy;

Children’s rights

118.  Reaffirms the urgent need for universal ratification and effective implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Child and its Optional Protocols, requests that the EU systematically consult with relevant local and international child rights organisations, and raises, in its political and human rights dialogues with third countries, the issue of State parties’ obligations to implement the Convention; welcomes the ratification of the Convention by South Sudan and Somalia; reiterates its call to the Commission and the VP/HR to explore ways and means for the EU to accede to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child;

119.  Requests that the EU continue to promote the EU-UNICEF Child Rights toolkit ‘Integrating child rights in development cooperation’ through its external Delegations, and to train EU Delegations staff adequately in this field; highlights the serious issue of non-registered children born away from their parents’ home country, an issue particularly serious in relation to refugees, and calls on the EU to raise the issue in its political dialogues with third countries, where relevant; calls on the Commission to develop policies on, and promote in international fora, the protection of children of imprisoned parents, in order to overcome their discrimination and stigmatisation; stresses that millions of children continue to suffer from malnutrition, with large numbers facing irreversible, long-term consequences and even death; calls on the Commission and the international community to introduce innovative ways to address malnutrition effectively, particularly among children, through the fullest use of the entire food chain, and thus including public-private-people partnerships (PPPPs), as well as all other available resources, in particular social media;

120.  Expresses the need for international assistance in efforts to search for and liberate women and children who still remain in the captivity of Daesh and other terrorist groups and paramilitary organisations, and in promoting special programmes for the treatment of former captives within the EU and worldwide; expresses concern over the recruitment of children and their participation in terrorist and military activities; stresses the need to establish policies to guide the search for, and the liberation, rehabilitation and reintegration of these children; stresses the need to promote policies for the disarmament, rehabilitation and reintegration of child soldiers; reiterates its request that the Commission proposes a comprehensive Child Rights Strategy and Action Plan for the next five years, in order to prioritise children’s rights within both EU external and internal policies, and to promote children’s rights, in particular by contributing to ensuring children’s access to water, sanitation, healthcare and education, including in conflict zones and refugee camps;

Rights of the elderly

121.  Welcomes Objective 16g in the Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy 2015-2019 that aims at increasing awareness of the human rights and specific needs of older persons; is concerned about the negative effects of age discrimination; underlines the particular challenges older persons face in the enjoyment of their human rights, such as when accessing social protection and healthcare; invites the Member States to use the current review of the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing to map the implementation of existing instruments and to identify potential gaps; calls on the EU and its Member States to be actively involved in the UN Open-Ended Working Group on Ageing and to step up their efforts to protect and promote the rights of older people, including by considering the elaboration of a new legal instrument;

Rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) persons

122.  Is deeply concerned about the increase in violence and discrimination against LGBTI people; firmly condemns the recent increase in discriminatory laws and acts of violence against individuals based on their sexual orientation, gender identity and sex characteristics, and the fact that 73 countries still criminalise homosexuality (including by charges of ‘debauchery’ against LGBTI people), of which 13(61) countries allow the death penalty, while 20 countries still criminalise transgender identities; expresses strong concern over so-called ‘propaganda laws’ that seek to limit the freedom of expression and assembly of LGBTI people, and of those who support their rights; calls on all states with such laws to withdraw these provisions; strongly condemns the increasing restrictions of, and the challenging operating conditions on, the freedom of assembly and association of LGBTI groups and rights defenders, and events and protests such as Pride marches, where in some instances protesters have been met with violent responses from authorities; reaffirms the crucial role of these fundamental freedoms in the functioning of democratic societies, and the responsibility of states in ensuring that such rights are upheld and that those exercising them are protected; requests that the EEAS prioritise and strengthen its actions in countries with a prevalence of violence, killings, abuse and discrimination directed against LGBTI people, by condemning these practices in accordance with the EU Guidelines on the Death Penalty and the EU Guidelines on Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, and by continuing to work with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in this field; stresses the importance of supporting the work of LGBTI HRDs, through increased support and resources for effective programming, by launching awareness campaigns, also financed via the EIDHR, among the general public on the discrimination and violence directed against LGBTI people, and by ensuring the provision of emergency assistance to those in need of such support; calls on the EU Delegations and the relevant institutions actively to promote these rights and fundamental freedoms;

123.  Welcomes the Foreign Affairs Council Guidelines to promote and protect the enjoyment of all human rights by LGBTI persons, adopted on 24 June 2013; calls on the EEAS and the Commission to push for a more strategic and systematic implementation of the guidelines, including through awareness raising and training of EU staff in third countries, in order to effectively raise the issue of LGBTI rights in political and human rights dialogues with third countries, and in multilateral fora; emphasises the importance of making the EU Guidelines to Promote and Protect the Enjoyment of all Human Rights widely available to LGBTI persons; calls for concrete actions to increase coherence between internal and external EU policies on LGBTI rights;

124.  Encourages the EU institutions and the Member States to contribute further to reflections on the recognition of same-sex marriages or same-sex civil unions as a political, social, human and civil rights issue; welcomes the fact that an increasing number of countries respect the right to found a family through marriage, civil partnership and adoption without discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation, and calls on the Commission and the Member States to elaborate proposals for the mutual recognition of these unions and of same-sex families across the EU so as to ensure equal treatment with regard to work, free movement, taxation and social security, protecting the incomes of families and children;

Rights of indigenous people and of persons belonging to minorities

125.  Is deeply concerned that indigenous peoples are still in particular danger of being discriminated against, and are especially vulnerable to political, economic, environmental and labour-related changes and disturbances; notes that most live below the poverty threshold and have little or no access to political representation and decision-making, contrary to their right to free, prior and informed consent, as ensured in the United Nations Declaration for the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and recognised in the 2005 European Consensus on Development; is particularly concerned about reported widespread and growing human rights abuses against indigenous peoples, such as the persecution, arbitrary arrests and killings of HRDs, and forced displacement, land-grabbing and corporate violations;

126.  Notes with deep concern that indigenous peoples are particularly affected by human rights violations related to resource extraction; calls on the Commission and the EEAS to support rigorous legal frameworks and initiatives aiming at ensuring transparency and good governance in mining and other resource sectors, and thereby respect for local people’s free, prior and informed consent and for the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples; calls on the EU Delegations to strengthen the dialogue with indigenous peoples on the ground further in order to identify and prevent human rights violations;

127.  Emphasises that as minority communities have specific needs, full and effective equality between persons belonging to a minority and those belonging to the majority should be promoted in all areas of economic, social, political and cultural life; urges the Commission to follow closely the implementation of provisions protecting the rights of persons belonging to minorities throughout the enlargement process;

Rights of persons affected by caste discrimination

128.  Condemns the continuing human rights violations committed against people suffering from caste hierarchies and caste-based discrimination, including the denial of equality and of access to the legal system and to employment, and the continued segregation and caste-induced barriers to the achievement of basic human rights and development; is deeply concerned by the alarming rate of caste-based violent attacks on Dalits and of institutionalised discrimination with impunity; reiterates its call for an EU policy development on caste discrimination, and calls on the EU to use every opportunity to express its grave concern over caste discrimination;

International Criminal Court (ICC) / transitional justice

129.  Recalls the universality of the ICC and reiterates its full support for its work; stresses the important role it plays in ending impunity for the perpetrators of the most serious crimes of concern to the international community, and in providing justice for the victims of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide; remains vigilant against any attempts to undermine the ICC’s legitimacy or independence;

130.  Recalls its resolution of 4 February 2016 calling on the members of the UN Security Council to support a referral by the Security Council to the ICC in order to investigate violations committed in Iraq and Syria by the so-called ISIS/Daesh against Christians (Chaldeans/Syriacs/Assyrians), Yazidis and other religious and ethnic minorities;

131.  Welcomes the declaration issued by Ukraine accepting the jurisdiction of the ICC for crimes committed in the country since 20 February 2014, as this declaration paves the way for the ICC prosecutor to consider whether the court could investigate abuses committed during the armed conflict, even though Ukraine is not yet an ICC member country;

132.  Welcomes the Council conclusions on the EU’s support to transitional justice, and welcomes the EU’s Policy Framework on support to transitional justice, the EU being the first regional organisation to adopt such a policy; calls on the EU, its Member States and its Special Representatives actively to promote the ICC, the enforcement of its decisions and the fight against impunity for Rome Statute crimes, and expresses serious concern about the fact that several arrest warrants have still not been executed; urges the EU and its Member States to cooperate with the Court, and to continue to provide strong diplomatic and political support to efforts to strengthen and expand the relationship between the ICC and the UN, in particular in the context of the UN Security Council, and to take steps to prevent and respond effectively to instances of non-cooperation with the ICC; reiterates its call on the EU to adopt a common position on the crime of aggression and on the Kampala Amendments, and calls on the Member States to align their national legislation with the definitions set out in the Kampala Amendments, and to enhance cooperation with the Court; deplores the defiance towards the ICC shown by several countries by withdrawing or threatening to withdraw from the ICC’s jurisdiction;

133.  Reiterates its call for the creation of an EU Special Representative on International Justice and International Humanitarian Law in order to give these topics the prominence and visibility they deserve, to advance the EU agenda effectively and to mainstream the EU’s commitment to the fight against impunity and for the ICC across EU foreign policies;

134.  Calls on the EU and its Member States to provide the ICC with adequate funding and to enhance their support for the international criminal justice system, including transitional justice;

International humanitarian law (IHL)

135.  Condemns the lack of respect for IHL, and expresses its grave concern over the alarmingly increasing rate of collateral damage in armed conflicts around the world, and of deadly attacks against hospitals, schools, humanitarian convoys and other civilian targets; expresses its serious concerns about the rising influence of non-state actors’ actions in conflicts around the world, and urges the EU to use all instruments at its disposal to enhance compliance by state and non-state actors with IHL; welcomes the pledge of the EU and the Member States to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to strongly support the establishment of an effective mechanism for strengthening compliance with IHL, and asks the VP/HR to report to Parliament on the objectives and strategy devised in order to deliver on this pledge; urges the international community to convene an international conference to prepare a new international mechanism for tracking and collecting data, and for publicly reporting on violations of IHL, including attacks on hospitals, medical workers and ambulances; takes the view that such a mechanism could build on the existing mechanism for Children and Armed Conflict (CAAC); asks the VP/HR to present, on an annual basis, a public list of alleged perpetrators of attacks on schools and hospitals, for the purpose of defining appropriate EU action to halt such attacks;

136.  Deplores the fact that seven Member States have yet to ratify the Convention on Cluster Munitions; calls on the EU and its Member States to support a global ban on the use of white phosphorus, notably through the conclusion of a new protocol to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons banning the use of such weapons;

137.  Calls on the Member States to ratify the principal IHL instruments and other relevant legal instruments that have an impact on IHL; acknowledges the importance of the EU Guidelines on promoting compliance with IHL, and reiterates its call on the VP/HR and the EEAS to revise their implementation in the light of the tragic events in the Middle East, notably in the context of widespread and systematic impunity for gross violations of IHL and human rights law; calls on the EU to support initiatives aiming at spreading knowledge of IHL and good practices in its application, and calls on the EU to seize all bilateral tools at its disposal effectively to promote compliance with IHL by its partners, including through political dialogue; reiterates its call on the Member States to join international efforts to prevent attacks against, and the military use of, schools by armed actors by endorsing the Safe Schools Declaration, which is designed to help end widespread military attacks on schools during armed conflict;

138.  Urges the international community to convene an international conference with a view to strengthening the effectiveness of international humanitarian rules;

139.  Reiterates its call to the VP/HR to launch an initiative aimed at imposing an EU arms embargo against countries that are accused of serious allegations of breaches of IHL, notably with regard to the deliberate targeting of civilian infrastructure; stresses that the continued licensing of weapons sales to such countries represents a breach of the Council Common Position 2008/944/CFSP of 8 December 2008; calls on the Member States to consider accepting Guantanamo inmates in the EU; emphasises the need to close the Guantanamo Bay prison as soon as possible;

Freedom of thought, conscience and religion or belief

140.  Condemns, in line with Article 10 TFEU, all acts of violence and persecution, intolerance and discrimination on the basis of ideology, religion or belief; expresses its serious concern over the continued reports of violence and persecution, intolerance and discrimination against religious and belief minorities around the world; stresses that the rights to freedom of thought, conscience, religion or belief are fundamental rights, interrelated with other human rights and fundamental freedoms, and encompassing the right to believe or not to believe, the right to manifest or not to manifest any religion or belief, and the right to adopt, change and abandon or return to a belief of one’s choice, as enshrined in Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and in Article 9 of the European Convention of Human rights; calls on the EU and its Member States to engage in political discussions to repeal blasphemy laws; calls on the EU and its Member States to ensure that minorities are respected and protected worldwide, including in the Middle East, where Yazidis, Christians, Muslim minorities and atheists are being persecuted by Daesh and other terrorist groups; deplores the abuse of religion or belief for terrorist purposes;

141.  Supports the EU’s commitment to promote the right to freedom of religion or belief within international and regional forums including the UN, the OSCE, the Council of Europe and other regional mechanisms, and encourages the EU to continue tabling its yearly resolution on freedom of religion or belief at the UN and supporting the mandate of the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief; encourages the VP/HR and the EEAS to engage in a permanent dialogue with NGOs, religious or belief groups and religious leaders;

142.  Fully supports the EU practice of taking the lead on thematic resolutions at the UNHRC and at the UNGA on freedom of religion and belief, encourages the EU to support the mandate of the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief and urges countries not currently accepting requests for visits from the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief to do so;

143.  Calls on the EU to reinforce its existing instruments, and to adopt any other within its mandate, to ensure that the protection of religious minorities is effective worldwide;

144.  Calls for concrete action to ensure the effective implementation of the EU Guidelines on the Promotion and Protection of Freedom of Religion or Belief, including: systematic and consistent training of EU staff at Headquarters and in Delegations; reporting on country and local situations; and engaging in close cooperation with local actors, especially leaders of religious or belief groups;

145.  Is deeply concerned that in some parts of the world the position of religion or belief communities is endangered, with entire religious communities disappearing or fleeing;

146.  Highlights the fact that Christians are currently the religious group most harassed and intimidated in countries throughout the world, including in Europe, where Christian refugees routinely suffer religiously motivated persecution, and that some of the oldest Christian communities are in danger of disappearing, especially in North Africa and the Middle East;

147.  Encourages the international community and the EU to provide protection for minorities and to install safe zones; calls for the recognition, self-administration and protection of ethnic and religious minorities living in areas where they have historically had a strong presence and lived peacefully alongside each other – for example in the Sinjar mountains (Yazidis) and the Nineveh plains (Chaldean-Syrian-Assyrian peoples); calls for special assistance in efforts to preserve (mass) graves in areas of current or recent conflicts, with the aim of exhuming and forensically analysing the human remains therein, in order to allow for decent burial, or release to the family, of the victims’ remains; calls for the establishment of a dedicated fund that can help finance initiatives to preserve evidence, in order to enable investigation and prosecution of suspected crimes against humanity; calls for actions from the EU and its Member States to set up, as a matter of urgency, a group of experts tasked with collecting all evidence of any on-going international crime, including genocide, against religious and ethnic minorities, wherever they may happen, including the preservation of mass graves in areas of current or recent conflicts, with the aim of preparing international prosecution of those responsible;

Freedom of expression online and offline, and through audiovisual and other media sources

148.  Stresses that human rights and fundamental freedoms are universal and need to be defended globally in every dimension of their expression;

149.  Stresses the role of freedom of expression, media independence and pluralism as fundamental elements towards democracy, and the need to empower citizens as well as civil society to ensure transparency and accountability in the public sector;

150.  Expresses concern at the increasing arrests and intimidation of journalists in many countries, and stresses that these practices seriously impede the freedom of the press; urges the EU and the international community to protect independent journalists and bloggers, reduce the digital divide and facilitate unrestricted access to information and communication, and uncensored access to the internet (digital freedom);

151.  Expresses its serious concern at the proliferation and spread of monitoring, surveillance, censoring and filtering technologies, which represent a growing threat to human rights and democracy activists in autocratic countries;

152.  Strongly condemns the increasing number of HRDs facing digital threats, including compromised data through confiscation of equipment, remote surveillance and data leakages; condemns the practice of online surveillance and hacking to gather information that can be used in legal cases or defamation campaigns, as well as in defamation trials;

153.  Strongly condemns authorities’ control of the internet, media and academia, and the increased intimidation, harassment and arbitrary arrests faced by HRDs, lawyers and journalists;

154.  Condemns restrictions on digital communication, including the closing down of websites and the blocking of personal accounts by authoritarian regimes in order to restrict freedom of expression and as a means to silence opposition and suppress civil society; calls on the EU and its Member States to publicly condemn regimes that restrict the digital communication of their critics and opposition;

155.  Highlights the importance of promoting unrestricted access to the internet in all forms of contact with third countries, including in accession negotiations, trade negotiations, human rights dialogues and diplomatic contacts, and of making information about human rights and democracy as accessible as possible to people all around the world;

156.  Is concerned about the growth of hate speech, especially on social media platforms; calls on the Commission to involve representatives of CSOs to ensure that their views are taken into account in negotiations on codes of conduct; firmly condemns the dissemination of hate messages that incite violence or terror;

157.  Calls for increased support in the areas of promoting media freedom, protecting independent journalists, bloggers and whistleblowers, reducing the digital divide and facilitating unrestricted access to information and communication, and safeguarding uncensored access to the internet (digital freedom);

158.  Calls for the active development and dissemination of technologies that help protect human rights, and that facilitate people’s digital rights and freedoms as well as their security and privacy;

159.  Calls on the EU to adopt free and open-source software, and to encourage other actors to do so, as such software provides for better security and for greater respect for human rights;

160.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to raise the issues of freedom of expression online, digital freedoms and the importance of a free and open internet, in all international fora, including the UN Internet Governance Forum, the G8, the G20, the OSCE and the Council of Europe;

Counter-terrorism

161.  Reiterates its unequivocal condemnation of terrorism and its full support for actions aimed at eradicating terrorist organisations, in particular Daesh, which poses a clear threat to regional and international security, while recalling that such actions should always be in full respect of international human rights law; supports the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 2178 (2014) on countering threats posed by foreign terrorist fighters, and of the Madrid Guiding Principles on stemming the flow of foreign terrorist fighters;

162.  Recalls that the EU Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy underlines the need to ensure that respect for freedom of opinion and expression are integrated into the development policies and programmes relating to terrorism, including the use of digital surveillance technologies; stresses that Member States should make full use of existing instruments to address the radicalisation of European citizens, and should develop effective programmes for countering terrorist and extremist propaganda and recruitment methods, notably online, and for preventing radicalisation; stresses that concerted EU action is required, as a matter of urgency, and insists that Member States cooperate in sensitive areas, in particular information and intelligence sharing;

163.  Requests that the EU continue to work with the UN in combating the financing of terrorism, including through the use of existing mechanisms to designate terrorist individuals and organisations, and to strengthen asset-freezing mechanisms worldwide, while upholding international standards on due process and the rule of law; calls on the Commission and the Member States effectively and urgently to raise this matter with those states that finance or support terrorist organisations, or that allow their citizens to do so;

The death penalty

164.  Recalls the EU’s position on zero tolerance for the death penalty, and reiterates its long-standing opposition to the death penalty, torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and punishment, in all cases and under all circumstances;

165.  Welcomes the abolition of the death penalty in Fiji, Suriname, Mongolia and the US State of Nebraska;

166.  Is deeply concerned about the reinstatement of executions in some countries in recent years; deplores that political leaders in other countries are also considering reintroducing the death penalty; expresses its grave concern at the reported rise in the number of death sentences handed down worldwide in 2015, in particular in China, Egypt, Iran, Nigeria, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia; reminds the authorities of these countries that they are state parties to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which strictly prohibits the death penalty for crimes committed by anyone below the age of 18;

167.  Is particularly concerned about the increasing number of death sentences imposed in mass trials, without guarantees of the minimum fair trial standards required by international law;

168.  Strongly denounces the increase in the handing down of the death sentence for drug-related offences, and calls for the exclusion of the use of capital punishment and summary executions for such offences;

169.  Calls on those states that have abolished the death penalty, or that have a long-standing moratorium on it, to uphold their commitments and not to reintroduce it; calls on the EU to continue to use cooperation and diplomacy in all possible forums worldwide to advocate against the death penalty, while seeking to ensure that the right to a fair trial is fully respected for each and every person facing execution; stresses the importance of the EU continuing to monitor the conditions under which executions are carried out in those countries that still impose the death penalty, in order to ensure that the list of persons sentenced to death is made public and that their bodies are returned to their families;

170.  Insists that it is important that the EU maintains a high-profile policy aimed at the global abolition of the death penalty, in line with the 2013 revised EU Guidelines on the Death Penalty, and that it continues to advocate against the death penalty; calls on the EU to work further towards its universal abolition, to explore new ways of campaigning toward that end and to support actions, in the context of the EIDHR, aimed at preventing death sentences or executions; requests that the EU Delegations continue to organise awareness-raising campaign activities to this end;

Fight against torture and ill-treatment

171.  Expresses its grave concern at the continued use of torture and ill-treatment of persons held in detention, inter alia in order to extract confessions that are then used in criminal trials that fall manifestly short of international standards of fairness;

172.  Deplores the widespread use of torture and ill-treatment against dissenting members of society in order to silence them, and against vulnerable groups, such as ethnic, linguistic and religious minorities, LGBTI persons, women, children, asylum-seekers and migrants;

173.  Condemns in the strongest possible terms the torture and ill-treatment caused by Daesh and other terrorist or paramilitary organisations; expresses its solidarity with the families and communities of all victims affected by such violence; condemns the practices of Daesh and other terrorist or paramilitary organisations involving discrimination and targeting of minority groups; calls on the EU, its Member States and the international community to step up their efforts to address the urgent need to prevent further suffering in an effective way;

174.  Considers that the detention conditions and the state of prisons in a number of countries are a matter of grave concern; considers it essential to combat all forms of torture and ill-treatment of detainees, including psychological torture, and to step up efforts to ensure compliance with the relevant international law, particularly as regards access to health care and medicines; strongly condemns the violations of this law and believes that the refusal to treat detainees for diseases such as hepatitis or HIV is tantamount to failure to assist persons in danger;

175.  Urges the EEAS, in the light of continued reports of widespread practice of summary executions, torture and ill-treatment around the world, to step up, at all levels of dialogue and in all fora, the EU’s efforts in the fight against summary executions, torture and other ill-treatment, in line with the Guidelines to EU Policy towards third countries on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment;

176.  Urges the EEAS to continue to raise concerns, in a systematic way, about torture and ill-treatment in political and human rights dialogues with the countries concerned, and in public statements, and calls on the EU Delegations, and on Member State embassies on the ground, to monitor torture and ill-treatment cases, to take concrete steps to promote their complete eradication, to follow relevant criminal trials and to use all instruments at their disposal to assist the individuals concerned;

Drones

177.  Expresses its grave concern over the use of armed drones outside the international legal framework; urges the Member States to articulate clear policy and legal positions on armed drones, and reiterates its call for an EU common position on the use of armed drones, which upholds human rights and IHL, and which should address issues such as a legal framework, proportionality, accountability, protection of civilians and transparency; urges once again that the EU ban the development, production and use of fully autonomous weapons that enable strikes to be carried out without human intervention; calls for the EU to oppose and ban the practice of extrajudicial and targeted killings, and to commit to ensuring appropriate measures, in accordance with domestic and international legal obligations, where there are reasonable grounds for believing that an individual or entity within its jurisdiction may be connected to unlawful targeted killings abroad; calls on the VP/HR, the Member States and the Council to include armed drones and fully autonomous weapons in relevant European and international disarmament and arms control mechanisms, and urges the Member States to engage with and strengthen these control mechanisms; calls on the EU to guarantee greater transparency and accountability on the part of its Member States, not least vis-à-vis third countries, in the use of armed drones with regard to the legal basis for their use and to operational responsibility, to allow for judicial review of drone strikes and to ensure that victims of unlawful drone strikes have access to effective remedies;

178.  Emphasises the EU ban on the development, production and use of fully autonomous weapons, which enable strikes to be carried out without human intervention; calls for the EU to oppose and ban the practice of unlawful targeted killings;

179.  Calls on the Commission to keep Parliament properly informed about the use of EU funds for all research and development projects associated with the construction of drones, for civil as well as military purposes; calls for human-rights impact assessments to be conducted of future drone development projects;

180.  Stresses that the impact of technologies on the improvement of human rights should be mainstreamed in EU policies and programmes, in order to advance the protection of human rights and the promotion of democracy, the rule of law, good governance and peaceful conflict solution;

Support for democracy and elections, and election observation missions

181.  Recalls that open space for civil society, freedom of expression, assembly and association and due respect for the rule of law are key elements of fair and democratic elections; calls on the EU to ensure that local NGOs have space for legitimate observation and monitoring of the conduct of elections; underlines that corruption is a threat to the equal enjoyment of human rights and undermines democratic processes; considers that the EU should emphasise the importance of integrity, accountability and proper management of public affairs in all dialogues with third countries, as stipulated in the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC); recalls the need for the EU to maintain the commitment it has made to its partners, especially in its neighbourhood, to support economic, social and political reform, to protect human rights and to help establish the rule of law, as the best means of strengthening the international order and ensuring the stability of its neighbourhood; emphasises, in this regard, that the review of the ENP provided an opportunity to restate that the defence of universal values and the promotion of human rights are key objectives of the Union; recalls that the experience gained by the EU, politicians, academics, the media, NGOs and civil society, and the lessons learned from transitions to democracy in the framework of the enlargement and neighbourhood policies, could also contribute positively to the identification of best practices that could be used to support and consolidate other democratisation processes worldwide; welcomes, in this context, the work of the European Endowment for Democracy and of EU programmes in support of CSOs, notably the EIDHR;

182.  Recommends that the EU develop a more comprehensive approach to democratisation processes, as observing elections is only one dimension of a longer and broader cycle; reiterates that political transition and democratisation can only be sustainable and successful when combined with respect for human rights and equal access to the democratic process for women, persons with disabilities and other marginalised groups, the promotion of justice, transparency, accountability, reconciliation, the rule of law, economic and social development, measures to combat extreme poverty, and the establishment of democratic institutions; stresses that fighting corruption in countries undergoing democratisation processes should be made a priority by the EU as this phenomenon hinders the protection and promotion of good governance, fuels organised crime and is linked to electoral fraud;

183.  Welcomes the Joint Communication on the Review of the European Neighbourhood Policy and recalls that, as stipulated in the TEU, the EU’s relation with its neighbouring countries should be founded on the values of the Union, which include human rights and democracy; underlines that contributing to the stabilisation of the neighbourhood and promoting democracy, the rule of law, good governance and human rights, go hand in hand;

184.  Stresses that the EU should continue to support democratic and effective human rights institutions and the civil society of neighbouring countries; is pleased to note in this context the European Endowment for Democracy’s consistent engagement in the EU’s Eastern and Southern neighbourhood in promoting respect for fundamental rights and freedoms, and democratic principles;

185.  Stresses that enlargement policy is one of the strongest tools for reinforcing respect for democratic principles and human rights; calls on the Commission to continue to support the reinforcement of democratic political cultures, the respect of the rule of law, the independence of media, as well as of the judiciary, and the fight against corruption in candidate and potential candidate countries;

186.  Calls on the Commission and the EEAS to continue to provide full support to on-going democratic processes in third countries, as well as to political dialogue between ruling and opposition parties, and civil society; insists on the importance of consistently following up on recommendations of election observation missions as part of the EU’s engagement in democracy support, and as part of the human-rights country strategies for the countries concerned; calls for closer coordination and cooperation between Parliament and the Commission / EEAS to ensure a follow up of the implementation of these recommendations, as well as the use of the targeted financial and technical assistance that the EU could offer; calls on the Commission to provide global assessment on electoral monitoring processes;

187.  Calls on the Council and the EEAS to include in the geographical part of the EU Annual Report on Human Rights and Democracy in the World a specific section – in the countries concerned – addressing the issue of implementation of the recommendations adopted in the framework of election observation missions; recalls the commitment made in the Action Plan by the EEAS, the Commission and the Member States to engage more firmly and consistently with election management bodies, parliamentary institutions and CSOs in third countries, in order to contribute to their empowerment and, thereby, to the strengthening of the democratic processes;

188.  Calls on the Commission to ensure that its work on elections – observation and assistance – is combined with similar support for other important actors within a democratic system such as political parties, parliaments, local authorities, independent media and civil society;

189.  Calls on the EU to continue to work for the definition of best practices in this area, including in the context of conflict prevention measures, mediation and facilitation of dialogue, in order to develop a coherent, flexible and credible EU approach;

190.  Recognises the successful work of the EEAS and EU Delegations in completing the second generation of Democracy Analyses, and the progress made on Democracy Action Plans, and calls on the VP/HR to ensure that the Action Plans translate into concrete support to democracy in the field;

191.  Calls on the EEAS to build on the experience of the Democracy Analyses to prepare the ground for streamlining such analysis into its foreign action, and notes that while the addition of democracy to Human Rights and Democracy Country Strategies is welcome, it is not sufficient for a truly comprehensive understanding of democracy in a partner country;

o
o   o

192.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council and the Commission, theVP/HR, and to the EU Special Representative for Human Rights.

(1)http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/cedaw/cedaw.htm
(2)OJ C 289, 9.8.2016, p. 57.
(3)http://www.ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/CMW.aspx
(4)A/RES/41/128.
(5)http://www.un.org/en/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=A/RES/69/2
(6)http://www.ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/Vienna.aspx
(7)http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/beijing/pdf/BDPfA%20E.pdf
(8)http://www.unfpa.org/sites/default/files/pub-pdf/programme_of_action_Web%20ENGLISH.pdf
(9)http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Publications/PTS-4Rev1-NHRI_en.pdf
(10)https://europa.eu/globalstrategy/en/global-strategy-foreign-and-security-policy-european-union
(11)http://data.consilium.europa.eu/doc/document/ST-11855-2012-INIT/en/pdf
(12)https://www.consilium.europa.eu/uedocs/cmsUpload/111817.pdf
(13)http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=celex%3A52009XG1215(01)
(14)http://data.consilium.europa.eu/doc/document/ST-10897-2015-INIT/en/pdf
(15)OJ C 65, 19.2.2016, p. 174.
(16)http://www.consilium.europa.eu/uedocs/cms_data/docs/pressdata/en/foraff/137584.pdf
(17)http://data.consilium.europa.eu/doc/document/ST-10255-2016-INIT/en/pdf
(18)http://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/meetings/fac/2015/10/st13201-en15_pdf/
(19)http://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/press/press-releases/2016/06/16-epsco-conclusions-lgbti-equality/
(20)http://ec.europa.eu/justice/discrimination/files/lgbti_actionlist_en.pdf
(21)http://data.consilium.europa.eu/doc/document/ST-9242-2015-INIT/en/pdf
(22)http://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/press/press-releases/2015/07/20-fac-migration-conclusions/
(23)http://data.consilium.europa.eu/doc/document/ST-12002-2015-REV-1/en/pdf
(24)http://data.consilium.europa.eu/doc/document/ST-12098-2015-INIT/en/pdf
(25)OJ L 43, 18.2.2015, p. 29.
(26)http://register.consilium.europa.eu/doc/srv?l=EN&f=ST%2015559%202014%20INIT
(27)http://www.consilium.europa.eu/uedocs/cms_data/docs/pressdata/EN/foraff/130243.pdf
(28)http://data.consilium.europa.eu/doc/document/ST-12525-2016-INIT/en/pdf
(29)https://rm.coe.int/CoERMPublicCommonSearchServices/DisplayDCTMContent?documentId=090000168008482e
(30)OJ L 76, 22.3.2011, p. 56.
(31)http://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/meetings/international-summit/2015/11/action_plan_en_pdf/
(32)http://www.securitycouncilreport.org/atf/cf/%7B65BFCF9B-6D27-4E9C-8CD3-CF6E4FF96FF9%7D/s_res_2242.pdf
(33)http://www.securitycouncilreport.org/atf/cf/%7B65BFCF9B-6D27-4E9C-8CD3-CF6E4FF96FF9%7D/CAC%20S%20RES%201820.pdf
(34)http://www.un.org/en/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=S/RES/1325(2000)
(35)http://www.un.org/en/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=A/RES/69/167
(36)Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0337.
(37)Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0300.
(38)Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0201.
(39)Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0102.
(40) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0051.
(41)Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0470.
(42)Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0317.
(43)Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0350.
(44)Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0348.
(45)Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0288.
(46)OJ C 316, 30.8.2016, p. 130.
(47)OJ C 316, 30.8.2016, p. 178.
(48)OJ C 234, 28.6.2016, p. 25.
(49)Texts adopted, P7_TA(2014)0172.
(50)OJ C 181, 19.5.2016, p. 69.
(51)http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/HRC/RegularSessions/Session31/Documents/A_HRC_31_56_en.doc
(52)OJ C 65, 19.2.2016, p. 105.
(53)OJ C 434, 23.12.2015, p. 24.
(54)OJ C 153 E, 31.5.2013, p. 115.
(55)OJ C 33 E, 5.2.2013, p. 165.
(56)OJ C 236 E, 12.8.2011, p. 69.
(57)A/HRC/RES/17/4.
(58)https://www.democracyendowment.eu/annual-report/
(59)OJ C 208, 10.6.2016, p. 25.
(60)http://trade.ec.europa.eu/doclib/docs/2015/july/tradoc_153591.pdf
(61) Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Nigeria, Somalia, Mauritania, Sudan, Sierra Leone, Yemen, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Qatar, Iran and the Maldives.


Implementation of the Common Foreign and Security Policy (Article 36 TEU)
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European Parliament resolution of 14 December 2016 on the implementation of the Common Foreign and Security Policy (2016/2036(INI))
P8_TA(2016)0503A8-0360/2016

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Annual Report from the Council to the European Parliament on the Common Foreign and Security Policy,

–  having regard to Articles 21 and 36 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU),

–  having regard to the Charter of the United Nations,

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

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

–  having regard to the joint staff working document of 21 September 2015 on ‘Gender equality and women’s empowerment: transforming the lives of girls and women through EU external relations 2016-2020’ (SWD(2015)0182),

–  having regard to the State of the Union speech delivered by President Juncker on 14 September 2016,

–  having regard to the Global Strategy on Foreign and Security Policies of the European Union presented by the VP/HR, Federica Mogherini, on 28 June 2016 and to her proposals at the informal foreign ministers’ meeting held in Bratislava on 2 September 2016,

–  having regard to the conclusions of the Bratislava summit of 16 September 2016,

–  having regard to the outcome of the informal EU defence ministers’ meeting in Bratislava of 27 September 2016,

–  having regard to its resolution of 7 June 2016 on Peace Support Operations – EU engagement with the UN and the African Union(1),

–  having regard to the Joint Declaration by the Foreign Ministers of the Weimar Triangle, Frank-Walter Steinmeier (Germany), Jean-Marc Ayrault (France) and Witold Waszczykowski (Poland), on the future of Europe at Weimar on 28 August 2016,

–  having regard to the Franco-German initiative on defence of September 2016 entitled ‘Renewal of the CSDP’,

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Foreign Affairs and the opinions of the Committee on Budgets and the Committee on Culture and Education (A8-0360/2016),

A.  whereas the European Union faces unprecedented internal and external challenges, including interstate conflicts, state collapse, terrorism, hybrid threats, cyber and energy insecurity, organised crime and climate change; whereas the EU will be able to respond effectively to the new challenges only if its structures and its Member States work together in a common and truly coordinated effort in the context of the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) and Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP);

B.  whereas the EU is now surrounded by an arc of instability, as large parts of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) are engulfed in ethno-religious conflicts and proxy wars and terrorist groups such as the so-called Islamic State (IS)/Daesh and the Jabhat Fateh al-Sham Front are proliferating throughout the region; whereas al-Qaeda is taking advantage of the security vacuum in the MENA region to gain strength, and its commitment to global jihad remains intact;

C.  whereas these conflicts have direct and serious consequences for the security and well-being of EU citizens as they increasingly spill over into the EU, be it in the form of terrorism, massive refugee flows, or disinformation campaigns aimed at dividing our societies;

D.  whereas Europe is experiencing the threat of terrorism on its territory; whereas the recent terrorist acts in European cities committed by radical jihadists linked to IS/Daesh are part of that group’s comprehensive strategy, complementing a land war in Syria, Iraq and Libya, an economic war aimed at the tourism industry in North Africa, as well as online propaganda and cyber-attacks; whereas the thousands of EU citizens who have joined such terrorist groups are an increasing threat to our security at home, as well as elsewhere in the world;

E.  whereas an aggressive Russia continues to violate its neighbours’ sovereignty and independence and openly challenges the European and global peace and security order; whereas Russia today is increasingly autocratic and more aggressive towards its neighbours than at any time since the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991; whereas official Russian propaganda paints the West as an adversary and actively tries to undermine unity in the European Union and coherence in the transatlantic alliance, be it in the form of disinformation campaigns or in the form of providing financial support to eurosceptic and fascist groups within the Union and candidate countries;

Continuing the EU’s success story: transformation through action

1.  Recalls that the European Union is one of the greatest achievements in European history and that the transformative power of the EU has brought peace, stability and prosperity to its citizens and to its neighbouring countries, many of which have become EU Member States; emphasises that the EU remains the largest economic power, the most generous donor of humanitarian and development assistance, and a frontrunner in global multilateral diplomacy on issues such as climate change, international justice, non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and human rights; calls for the visibility of EU action in these fields to be stepped up;

2.  Considers that the current internal and external crisis also represents an opportunity for the EU if it is used to make the EU work and cooperate better; considers that the current challenges demand a reform that will make the EU better and more democratic, and able to deliver what citizens expect; recalls that European citizens see an effective common foreign and security policy as a priority area of action for the EU and that this is one of the areas where European cooperation can yield most value added; emphasises, therefore, that Member States must change their mentality since nowadays thinking about foreign policy and security in a narrow minded national perspective is obsolete; is convinced that no single Member State alone can tackle any of the challenges we face today; is firmly convinced that the EU’s vulnerability is a direct outcome of the incomplete integration and a lack of coordination; emphasises the fact that globalisation and multipolarity make processes of integration, such as that of the EU, necessary; urges Member States to finally show sufficient levels of unity, political will and trust in one another to make it possible to use the tools at hand in a concerted manner in order to pursue our interests and values; reiterates that the EU can only be a strong global player on an equal footing with other major powers if all Member States speak with one voice and act together in the framework of a strong EU foreign and security policy;

3.  Welcomes the Roadmap and the commitments of the Bratislava summit and expects the Member States to make a specific commitment to the implementation of the Roadmap;

4.  Recalls the need for the EU’s external policies to be consistent with each other and with other policies with an external dimension, and to pursue the objectives set out in Article 21 of the Treaty on European Union; observes that, since building resilience should be one of the main goals of the CFSP, this requires a comprehensive approach in which different sectors challenge traditional approaches to foreign and security policy with the use of a wide range of diplomatic, security, defence, economic, trade, development and humanitarian instruments, as well as increasing energy security independence; takes the view that the CFSP should more assertive, effective and value-based; underlines that Policy Coherence for Development is a unique tool to achieve an operational EU comprehensive approach in accordance with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development goals;

5.  Welcomes the adoption of the Commission’s new trade strategy, ‘Trade for All’, in which it aims to strengthen human rights in trade policy and use the EU’s position as a trading bloc to leverage human rights in third countries; stresses that this will need full convergence and complementarity of trade and foreign policy initiatives, including close cooperation between the different DGs, the European External Action Service (EEAS) and Member State authorities; highlights the importance of the Commissioners’ Group on External Action chaired by the VP/HR to give impetus to the implementation of the comprehensive approach; calls for the VP/HR to report regularly on the work of this group to the European Parliament; calls on the EU Delegations to implement joint programming in all external action policy areas so as to avoid duplication, save money, enhance efficiency and detect possible gaps;

6.  Recognises that climate change could have a serious effect on regional and global stability, as global warming affects disputes over territory, food, water and other resources, weakens economies, threatens regional security, and is a source of migratory flows; further encourages the EU and Member States to consider how national and EU military planning can include climate change adaption strategies and what would be considered an appropriate capability, priority, and response;

7.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to strengthen their capacity to counter the misinformation and propaganda campaigns reaching people in the EU and its neighbours; calls on the EU institutions and the Member States to acknowledge that the on-going information warfare is not only an external EU issue but also an internal one; regrets the inability of the EU to communicate and present properly to the European public the actions, merits and achievements of the Common Security and Defence Policy; urges the Council, the Commission and the Member States to fill this gap by making EU external action more accountable and visible;

8.  Recognises that information and cyber warfare is a deliberate attempt at state and non-state level to destabilise and discredit political, economic, and social structures; stresses in this regard the urgent need to include cyber security and cyber defence across the EU’s internal and external policies, and in its relations with third countries; calls on the Member States to establish an automated information-sharing system regarding cyber and hybrid threats and attacks; calls on the EU to defend in international forums the notion that an open, global internet’s core infrastructure is a neutral zone; is also convinced that the EU should engage with its partners and step up its assistance for capacity-building in the fields of cybersecurity and the fight against cybercrime and cyber terrorism;

9.  Recalls the EU’s commitment to develop a Common Foreign and Security Policy guided by the principles of democracy, the rule of law, the universality and indivisibility of human rights and fundamental freedoms, and compliance with the UN Charter and international law; recalls the EU Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy which stresses the importance of the EU including its human rights and gender policies in crisis management missions and operations; recalls the importance of the so-called ‘human rights clause’ included in all framework agreements signed with third countries since the early 1990s;

10.  Recalls that enlargement policy is one of the EU’s most successful policies and has contributed to ensuring stability, democracy and prosperity on the European continent; reiterates therefore its strong support for the enlargement process, provided that the Copenhagen criteria, including integration capacity, are fulfilled; stress the need to step up cooperation between the EU and the candidate and potential candidate countries on issues such as migration, security, the fight against terrorism and organised crime and the fight against human trafficking; calls on the candidate countries to make all efforts to align with the EU CFSP/CSDP;

11.  Underlines the EU’s commitment to a rule-based international order and effective multilateralism led by the UN; recognises the strategic partnership in peacekeeping and crisis management between the EU and UN since 2003; encourages the EU and its Member States to support UN peacekeeping and to cooperate with the UN in strengthening the peacekeeping capacities of regional organisations, particularly the African Union, and taking into account the African Peace Facility; calls on the EU Member States to significantly increase their military and police contributions to UN peacekeeping missions; welcomes the EU Global Strategy’s commitment to NATO as the cornerstone of Europe’s collective security, and to strengthening the United Nations as the bedrock of the international order;

12.  Points out how recent crises have shown the limits of the United Nations; calls on the EU and its Member States to bring all their weight to bear in an attempt to reform the Security Council, in particular with a view to removing the veto with regard to mass atrocities;

13.  Stresses that an effective implementation of the EU Global Strategy presented by the VP/HR in June 2016 is not possible without strong commitment, ownership, political will and leadership from the Member States; highlights that the appropriate human and financial resources need to be allocated by the Member States for the implementation of this strategy, in particular in the crucial areas of conflict prevention, security and defence; emphasises the practical and financial benefits of the further integration of European defence capabilities;

14.  Welcomes the intention of devising an implementation plan on security and defence; underlines that this implementation plan should be complemented by a White Book process, which would specify the level of ambition, tasks, requirements and capability priorities for European defence; calls on the VP/HR, in close cooperation with Member States and the Commission, to start working on such a White Book as a matter of priority in order to deliver first results in 2017;

15.  Welcomes the proposal for a yearly reflection on the state of play of the strategy’s implementation; believes that this reflection should take place within the framework of an annual debate in Parliament and on the basis of an implementation report drawn up by the VP/HR;

16.  Is of the opinion that the Global Strategy should be revised regularly and an analysis on its implementation should be provided, in synchrony with the electoral cycle and the entry into office of each new Commission, in order to verify whether its objectives and priorities still correspond to the challenges and threats;

17.  Highlights that EU external action needs to be based on the three pillars that could be defined as the ‘three Ds’: Diplomacy, Development and Defence;

Taking responsibility for our security: Prevent, Defend, Deter, React

18.  Emphasises that the EU must strengthen its security and defence capabilities, as it can only use its full potential as a global power if it combines its unrivalled soft power with hard power, as part of the EU’s comprehensive approach; recalls that stronger and common civilian and military capacities are key elements for the EU to fully respond to crises, build the resilience of partners and protect Europe; notes that since power politics is again dominating international relations, defence and deterrence capabilities are critical for our leverage in diplomatic talks; in this regard, reiterates that the Common Security and Defence Policy needs to be strengthened and deepened, as the only realistic way to strengthen our military capabilities in a time of budgetary constraints is to increase synergies by stepping up defence cooperation on the basis of the needs of all Member States and targeting investments; believes that stronger European security and defence cooperation would lead to greater effectiveness, unity and efficiency and that the EU and its Member States would only acquire the necessary technological and industrial capabilities through such deeper cooperation;

19.  Is convinced that in view of an already underfinanced EU budget, additional efforts for operations, administrative costs, preparatory actions and pilot projects under the Common Security and Defence Policy, additional funding from the Member States, as well as efforts to enhance synergies, are also needed; calls on the Commission and the Member States to seize the opportunity of the current revision/review of the multiannual financial framework (MFF) to address the budgetary needs for the growing security challenges; calls on the Member States to increase their defence expenditure so as to meet the NATO capacity goals which require a minimum level of defence spending of two percent of GDP; underlines that better coordination and reduced overlap between EU and Member State activities would enable savings and a reallocation of funds;

20.  Takes the view that it is of crucial importance that the instruments provided by the Treaty of Lisbon be finally implemented, notably Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO); takes the view that a flexible, inclusive approach that encourages open, pro-active participation by all Member States is essential in the implementation of PESCO; welcomes the joint paper by the defence ministers of France and Germany on the ‘renewal of the CSDP’ and the Italian proposal ‘for a stronger European defence’, and fully supports their aim as regards a positive decision on the establishment of PESCO at the November 2016 Foreign Affairs and Defence Council; calls on the VP/HR to take the lead on this initiative, as well as on other recent proposals for strengthening the CSDP, with a view to paving the way for further ambitious decisions on the CSDP taken at the November 2016 Foreign Affairs and Defence Council and the December 2016 European Council, including the following:

   the creation of a permanent civilian and military headquarter, with an equally important Military Planning and Conduct Capability (MPCC) and Civilian Planning and Conduct Capability (CPCC), which would strengthen strategic and operational planning across the entire planning cycle, enhance civil-military cooperation and improve the EU’s ability to react speedily to crises;
   enhancing the EU’s rapid reaction tools, notably by further improving the usability of battlegroups, by operationalising Article 44, and by strengthening and making greater use of Eurocorps for CSDP missions and operations;
   extending the common financing of CSDP operations, including through an urgent and thorough review of the Athena mechanism, which would include the declaration on battlegroups and is needed to make sure that EU missions can be funded from collective funds instead of by the individual participating Member States, thereby removing a potential obstacle to Member States committing forces;
   setting up a Defence configuration of the Council;

21.  Encourages a review of the EU’s approach to civilian CSDP missions from the nature of interventions to their objectives and the people involved, in order to ensure they are properly devised, implemented, and supported; welcomes the progress made in the CSDP’s missions and operations despite their shortcomings; 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; supports the establishment of start-up funds for the urgent financing of the initial phases of military operations; believes that a new, more effective decision-making procedure for deciding on EU military missions would improve the EU’s agility and strength in responding to threats and crises, while acknowledging that the decision whether or not to supply troops to such missions must be taken at Member State level;

22.  Insists that any decision to move towards a European Defence Union, including the development of greater permanent structured cooperation and the creation of common defence instruments, must be made on the basis of unanimity among EU Member States;

23.  Regrets that the comprehensive tasking exercises resulting from the November 2013 Foreign Affairs Council and the European Councils of 2013 and 2015 have not yet been fully implemented by the Commission, the EEAS, the EDA and the Member States; calls on the VP/HR and the Commissioner on Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs to present an assessment of the implementation of previous decisions to Parliament before suggesting new tasking; encourages the speeding up of the ongoing work on the European Defence Action Plan and the Commission’s efforts to maximise defence cooperation, including through incentives in areas such as the internal market, public procurement, research, transport, space, cyber, energy and industrial policies; notes the proposal by the French President for a European Security and Defence Fund, and supports the development of new and innovative financing and investment concepts, including through the European Investment Bank and public-private partnerships;

24.  Notes that as Member States are facing difficulties in trying to maintain a broad range of fully operational defence capabilities, there is a need for more coordination and clearer choices about which capabilities to maintain, so that Member States can specialise in certain capabilities; emphasises the practical and financial benefits of further integrating European defence capabilities and notes the various ongoing initiatives to this effect which should be placed within a wider framework to establish a smart roadmap; supports the proposals for a ‘European Semester for Defence’ and calls on the VP/HR to present concrete proposals to this effect; believes that interoperability is key if Member States’ forces are to become more compatible and integrated; encourages Member States to look into further avenues for joint purchasing, maintenance and upkeep of forces and materials;

25.  Commends the European Defence Agency’s role in fostering and coordinating capability development, and calls for its strengthening, notably by increasing its budget; insists that the Agency’s staffing and running costs should be financed from the Union budget; calls on the VP/HR and the Member States to review the EDA’s organisation, procedures, and past activities;

26.  Recalls that Europe needs to maintain a competitive and innovative industrial and technological base capable of developing and producing the required capabilities; recalls that an integrated defence market and the consolidation of the European defence industry are absolutely necessary for economies of scale and improved efficiency;

27.  Welcomes the proposal by President Juncker to create a European Defence Fund to boost research and innovation; welcomes the on-going work on setting up a preparatory action on defence research, which should be followed by a major dedicated EU-funded European Defence Research Programme in the next Multiannual Financial Framework, including additional financial resources provided by the Member States;

28.  Calls for a more active role to be played by the EU in the field of disarmament, non-proliferation and arms control; calls on the Council to enable the VP/HR to play a more active role as regards conflict resolution and peace-building;

29.  Recalls that the EU Global Strategy calls for investment in conflict prevention, but that in reality far-reaching cuts have been proposed by both the Commission and the Council to the 2017 budget for the EU’s only instrument for conflict prevention (IcSP); stresses the need to redouble efforts in the field of conflict prevention, mediation and reconciliation, given the many security challenges in the European neighbourhood and beyond;

30.  Recognises the increasing interdependence between internal and external security, and takes the view that the current security challenges require a profound critical analysis of our security policies with a view to creating a consistent and unified policy covering both internal and external dimensions, including aspects such as counter-terrorism, cybersecurity, energy security, hybrid threats, strategic communication, and critical infrastructures; urges Member States’ security services to enhance coordination and cooperation and to increase the exchange of intelligence and information, and calls on all Member States to comply with their legal obligation to share intelligence with Europol and Eurojust in the fight against terrorism and organised crime; urges the EU to further strengthen its cooperation and intelligence sharing with third countries in the fight against terrorism and organised crime while respecting international humanitarian law and international human rights law; commends the launch of the European Border and Coast Guard Agency;

31.  Welcomes the Joint Declaration on NATO-EU cooperation adopted during the Warsaw Summit; fully supports deepened cooperation between NATO and the EU in the areas of cybersecurity, migration, strategic communication and the response to hybrid threats; invites the VP/HR to present specific proposals for the follow-up to the Warsaw Joint Declaration by the end of 2016; is convinced that NATO is crucial for the collective security of Europe, while insisting on the necessity of maintaining proper EU response capabilities; recalls that a stronger NATO and a stronger EU are mutually reinforcing and complementary; welcomes the EU Global Strategy’s commitment to NATO as the cornerstone of Europe’s collective security; emphasises that the EU should make best use of the security and defence resources available and avoid possible duplication; further believes that the EU and its Member States must work more closely with NATO to ensure that the Alliance’s Smart Defence and the EU’s Pooling and Sharing initiatives are complementary and mutually reinforcing;

32.  Emphasises that the security of EU Member States is indivisible and that, in line with Article 42(7) TEU, all Member States must enjoy the same level of security and should therefore provide and partake equally on a proportional basis in the security of the EU and honour given commitments; further notes that this Article also states that it shall not prejudice the specific character of the security and defence policy of certain Member States;

33.  Recognises the need to look for creative solutions for cooperation between the EU and the UK in the area of the CFSP/CSDP;

34.  Believes that it is crucial to strengthen the European security architecture which is based on the Helsinki Final Act of 1975 and its four ‘baskets’ and which has been severely damaged by Russia’s illegal military interventions in Crimea and eastern Ukraine;

35.  Takes the view that it is time to define a new, more realistic strategy for the EU’s relations with Russia, based on credible deterrence but also on dialogue in areas of common interest, such as counter-terrorism, non-proliferation and trade; underlines at the same time the importance of investing more into cooperation with and support to Russian civil society, so as to strengthen the long-term basis of EU-Russia relations; stresses that sanctions were needed as a reaction to, and have proven to be an effective means of deterring, further Russian aggression in Ukraine; recalls that the suspension of the related sanctions is conditional upon the full implementation of the Minsk agreements; fully supports the EU’s imposition of restrictive measures against individuals and entities in Russia in response to the illegal annexation of Crimea and deliberate destabilisation of Ukraine, and insists that the EU should keep open the option of further gradual sanctions, in particular against high-technology products in the oil and gas, IT and armaments sectors, if Russia continues to violate international law; believes it is in the common interest of the EU and Russia to achieve a better relationship, provided international law is applied;

36.  Calls on EU Member States and the international community to speak with one voice in sending a clear message to the Russian Government that its actions will have costs and consequences; further demands a de-escalation of the current crisis and insists that the EU and its Member States work with international partners to put diplomatic, political, and economic pressures on the Russian Government to end its aggression; welcomes the decisions of the Warsaw NATO summit in this context; underlines its commitment to the unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine; emphasises the invalidity of elections held in the occupied territories of Crimea;

37.  Believes it is important to find ways to de-escalate current tensions and engage in constructive dialogue with Russia in order to identify measures aimed at reducing the risk of dangerous misunderstandings and miscalculations; underlines the importance of increased mutual transparency in military activities in order to avoid air and maritime incidents with Russia and the need to develop common standards for the management of possible accidents and incidents; deems non-cooperative military flights with no active transponders to be a serious danger to civil aviation and deems it necessary to devise measures to detect such flights as early as possible and to find an international way forward to put an end to such safety risks; further believes that cooperation with Russia over the recent Iran nuclear deal holds out hope for improved relations in other areas, including with NATO, in order to defuse tensions such as those in the Baltic, Syria and Ukraine;

38.  Urges the EU to step up its cooperation with the Eastern Partnership countries in order to strengthen their democratic institutions, resilience and independence, including by launching ambitious fully-fledged CSDP missions tasked with enhancing security and stability; calls on the EU to play a more active and effective role as regards conflict resolution and peace-building; calls on the Member States to increase aid to Ukraine, including adequate defensive systems, in order to deter military escalation in eastern Ukraine, to turn EU East StratCom into a permanent EU structure and to allocate adequate human and financial resources to its better functioning; further supports the EU aspirations of those countries and the reform agenda in areas such as the rule of law, the economy, public administration, the fight against corruption and protection of minorities;

39.  Recalls the EU’s commitment to its partners in its vicinity and to supporting social and political reform, consolidating the rule of law, protecting human rights and promoting economic development as the best means of strengthening the international order and ensuring the stability of its neighbourhood; recognises that the EU’s policy must not adopt a one-size-fits-all approach and must therefore be more flexible and responsive to changing situations in its eastern and southern neighbourhoods; notes that the revised European Neighbourhood Instrument has not lived up to its goals, especially when it comes to the ‘more for more’ principle; encourages consideration of the policy of less for less with regard to those countries which go into reverse in terms of governance, democracy, and human rights;

40.  Underlines that a deepening of the relationship with the US and Canada is of strategic interest to the EU, while at the same time it is important for the EU to strengthen its relationship with Central and South America in order not only to reinforce the bi-regional partnership but also to jointly address major global challenges; recognises that the EU is by far the most important economic partner for the United States and vice versa, while both are key international allies both bilaterally and through NATO, and on areas such as the Iran nuclear deal, Syria and Ukraine; encourages the EU and its Member States to ensure the continuation of this relationship, on the basis of shared values, following November 2016’s US presidential elections;

Building resilience and investing in a true comprehensive approach: develop, support and strengthen

41.  Emphasises that ensuring peace and stability on our continent, in our neighbourhood and in Africa must now be at the heart of Europe’s action; recognises that there can be no sustainable development without security and that sustainable development is the condition for security, stability, social justice and democracy; takes the view that it is necessary to tackle the root causes of instability and forced and irregular migration, namely poverty, the lack of economic opportunities, armed conflict, bad governance, climate change, human rights abuses, inequality and trade policies which do not address these challenges; believes that security, economic and social development and trade are parts of the same comprehensive strategy and must be consistent with the principle of Policy Coherence for Development as enshrined in Article 208 of the Lisbon Treaty; calls for European and international action (UN/G20) against illegal financial transfers out of Africa;

42.  Stresses that the EU must pay particular attention to improving the living conditions in its neighbourhood, using all available policy tools, including trade, development aid, environment policy and diplomacy, as well as crisis management capabilities; welcomes in this regard the EU’s new migration partnerships and the External Investment Plan, and asks to be involved in the implementation of these instruments; underlines the need to develop a new approach towards Africa, based on EU values and principles, providing better opportunities for trade, investment, access to energy and economic growth and supporting African countries in building democratic, transparent and effective institutions and measures to mitigate the impact of climate change; is convinced that the EU should review its development and trade policies to make sure that they are in line with our values and contribute to these goals; calls on the EU, and in particular the Member States, to fight against illicit financial transfers and to significantly increase their financial commitments to the region, including through the Africa Trust Fund, the External Investment Plan and the European Development Fund; underlines the important role of the EU in reaching the Agenda 2030 objectives; believes that the private sector could play an important role in development if it acts within a legally binding framework that defines the business sector’s responsibilities concerning respect for human, social and environmental rights;

43.  Recognises that the EU’s provision of aid to the victims of disasters, refugees and others in need has delivered mixed results;

44.  Underlines also the need to intensify the fight against the root causes fuelling terrorism and radicalisation, which mainly affects West Africa, the Sahel, the Horn of Africa and the Middle East, and which is targeting Europe at an unprecedented level; urges the EU to undertake concerted diplomatic efforts, together with the US and other international allies, to convince partners in the region, such as Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Iran, of the need for a common and legally based strategy towards this global challenge; further encourages efforts to cooperate and coordinate with other countries in this fight and urges state and non-state actors in the region to abstain from fuelling any further sectarian and ethnic tensions; expresses strong concerns over the grave violations of international humanitarian and human rights law in Yemen, including the bombing of the funeral in Sanaa on 8 October 2016; demands an urgent independent, international investigation into this and other violations of international humanitarian and human rights; calls on the EU and its Member States to suspend any cooperation in Yemen until such violations are investigated and those responsible are held accountable; demands an immediate lifting of the blockade of Yemen and calls on all sides in the conflict to resume dialogue and to work towards a sustainable ceasefire; insists that there is no military solution to the conflict;

45.  Urges that thematic frameworks be set up to offer cooperation between the Union, the Southern neighbourhood partner countries and key regional players, especially in Africa, on regional issues such as security, development, energy and the management of migratory flows; believes that our neighbourhood would prove more resilient if it could be organised within a regional cooperation framework enabling shared responses to be found to the challenges of migration, terrorism and development, among other things; calls therefore on the EU to work with its Maghreb neighbours to re-launch and further develop the Arab Maghreb Union;

46.  Recalls that the Sahel region and other connected geographical areas are priority regions for ensuring the security of the European Union and highlights the fragility of the security situation there and the possible consequences of the current turmoil; calls on the EU to work to strengthen cooperation with the countries of North Africa and the Sahel in the fight against increasing terrorist activities in the Sahel-Saharan region; stresses that the harsh living conditions in certain places could drive a section of the population towards the alternative that is Islamic terrorism; encourages the development of a coherent, robust strategy for the Sahel region aimed at improving governance and the accountability and legitimacy of state and regional institutions, boosting security, tackling radicalisation, the trafficking of people, arms and drugs, and strengthening economic and development policies; is convinced that the reinforcement of capacities of regional and sub-regional organisations, in particular in Africa, is crucial with regard to conflict prevention, conflict resolution and security cooperation; stresses that a real answer needs to be given to this security situation by the EU not only economically but also politically and militarily;

47.  Highlights the importance of finding a sustainable solution to the conflict in Syria in line with the transition process set out in the Geneva Communiqué and UN Security Council (UNSC) resolution 2254 (2015); supports the UN-led efforts to facilitate negotiations between all parties to the Syrian conflict on an inclusive political settlement; asks the VP/HR to urgently prepare a European strategy for Syria; is convinced that the bilateral negotiations between Russia and the United States will not be sufficient to bring about a sustainable response to the Syrian crisis; calls on the EU to depart from its position of diplomatic marginalisation and to use its leverage over key actors such as Iran, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar and Russia to ensure that they take a constructive position and refrain from contributing to a further escalation of the situation; continues to urge all members of the UNSC to honour their responsibilities with regard to the crisis; recalls the repeated use by Russia and others of veto powers in the UNSC and considers this use to run contrary to international efforts for peace and conflict resolution in Syria and the region; emphasises that the use of sanctions should be considered against all those individuals and entities involved in crimes against humanity in Syria; expresses grave concern about the mass and widespread violations of international humanitarian and human rights law by all sides in the Syrian conflict and stresses the importance of ensuring accountability for such abuses; reiterates its support to Syria’s neighbours who are facing monumental challenges in hosting millions of refugees; reiterates its full support for the independence, territorial integrity and sovereignty of Iraq and Syria, where the rights of all ethnic and religious groups are fully respected;

48.  Recognises Turkey’s role as an important partner in solving the Syrian conflict, the fight against IS/Daesh in Syria and Iraq and the migration crisis; strongly condemns the attempted military coup against the democratically elected government of Turkey; encourages the Turkish Government to protect the constitutional order, while underlining the importance of respect for human rights, the rule of law, freedom of expression and the independence of the judiciary and of the media in the aftermath of the coup, in line with its commitments as a member of the Council of Europe; underlines that Turkey should cooperate closely with the Council of Europe in order to ensure that all procedures respect the rule of law; is alarmed by the repressive nature and the extent of the purge launched after the attempted coup, severely setting back basic freedoms and human rights in Turkey; is particularly concerned about the increasing number of cases of excessive use of force by the police and the ill-treatment of detainees, the persisting impunity for human rights abuses, and erosion of the independence of the judiciary;

49.  Highlights the need to achieve a two-state solution to the conflict in the Middle East – based on the parameters set out in the Council Conclusions of July 2014 – that guarantees a secure state of Israel and a viable Palestinian state on the basis of the 1967 borders and resolves all permanent status issues in order to end the conflict; calls on the EU to assume its responsibility and to become a genuine actor and facilitator in the diplomatic process; calls on the EU institutions and Member States to take urgent steps to protect the viability of the two-state solution and to create a positive dynamic towards genuine peace negotiations; calls on the Israeli authorities to immediately halt and reverse their settlement policy; stresses that respect for international human rights and humanitarian law by all parties and in all circumstances remains an essential precondition for achieving a just and lasting peace; stresses the importance of ensuring the coherence of EU policy as regards situations involving the occupation or annexation of territory;

50.  Believes that the fight against human traffickers is only possible where there is cooperation with countries on the other side of the Mediterranean and in Africa as a whole that is based on respect for human rights, and believes, in this regard, that the European Union and its Member States must cooperate with international partners to address the push factors which lead to migration;

51.  Strongly supports the strengthening of Responsibility to Protect (R2P) as an important governing principle in the European Union and its Member States’ work across the conflict spectrum, as well as on human rights and development;

The power of European diplomacy: knowledge, engagement and impact

52.  Highlights the EU’s immense potential as a diplomatic superpower which is based on the wide range of instruments at our disposal and our normative power in the field of democracy, freedom and human rights; stresses in this context the central coordinating role of the VP/HR, the EEAS and the EU delegations in third countries;

53.  Believes that special attention should be paid to preventing conflict, addressing the root causes of instability and assuring human security; recognises that early preventive actions against long-term risks of violent conflict are more effective, less time-consuming and less expensive than peacekeeping operations; urges the EU to show political leadership in preventive diplomacy and conflict mediation; welcomes in this regard the role of the EU Conflict Early Warning System, the EEAS Mediation Support Team and the European Institute of Peace; calls for the further development of EU conflict prevention and mediation capacities; underlines that women’s participation in conflict resolution talks is crucial to promote women’s rights and participation and is a first step towards their full inclusion in the future transitional processes; calls on the VP/HR and the Commission to increase the financial and administrative resources earmarked for dealing with mediation, dialogue, reconciliation and crisis response; urges Member States to strictly adhere to the norms established by the EU’s Common Position on arms exports and to cease arms trade with third countries who do not fulfil the criteria listed; insists that the EU step up political dialogue and cooperation on disarmament, non-proliferation and arms control;

54.  Strongly encourages further negotiations on the reunification of Cyprus in order to reach a rapid and successful conclusion;

55.  Believes that the European Union and its Member States must develop effective foreign, security and defence policy which respects national interests but also seeks to work with international partners, the United Nations, NGOs, human rights defenders and others on issues of shared concern and in order to promote peace, prosperity and stability around the world; stresses the need for close cooperation with other global and regional powers on global threats and challenges; emphasises in particular the crucial importance of the transatlantic relationship, which is based on common interests and values; points out that a revitalisation of these strategic partnerships, seeking to transform them into an effective foreign policy instrument, should be a priority for the EU;

56.  Takes the view that the EU should upgrade and intensify its diplomatic efforts in Asia, including with ASEAN, in order to contribute to greater stability and security in conflict areas with renewed tensions, working closely with partners in the region and upholding international law, including in the South China Sea and the Indian Ocean, and in order to address issues relating to the protection of human rights and the rule of law; notes the need for the EU to continue supporting the development of peaceful relations between China and its neighbours around the South China Sea, including Vietnam, Taiwan and the Philippines, through constructive bilateral and inclusive multilateral mechanisms; believes that a strengthening and renewal of the structures of international order cannot be achieved without Asia, and especially China; emphasises that, in light of China’s global ambitions, the EU-China relationship must extend beyond economic ties to become more comprehensive and focus on China’s role in the UN, its influence in regional conflicts in its neighbourhood, and its contribution to addressing global challenges;

57.  Calls on the EU not to withdraw fully from areas that are currently of less strategic interest but which could become important again in the future – either economically or from a human or military perspective – such as central Asia, sub-Saharan Africa or the Arctic, and which are attracting the interest of other world powers;

58.  Recalls the importance of Europe’s normative power, and calls for the further strengthening of the EU’s cultural and science diplomacy in order to project and promote European strengths and values beyond our borders; points out also the power of economic diplomacy, inter alia sanctions, as a tool for enforcing EU polices;

59.  Highlights the role of parliamentary diplomacy in strengthening political cooperation with the EU’s partners;

60.  Highlights the need for a strengthened role of national parliaments in the implementation of the Common Foreign and Security Policy, including through intensified cooperation between the European Parliament and national parliaments on matters of EU foreign and security policy;

61.  Emphasises the role played by non-state actors and civil society organisations as actors in diplomacy and key partners of the EU, and stresses the importance of EU assistance to and engagement with them;

62.  Stresses the need to speed up the consolidation of the fully-fledged European Diplomatic Service, and in particular to strengthen its thematic expertise and strategic policy planning and forecasting, as well as the area of intelligence; considers that it is important to also give the EEAS representations in crisis areas a consular role with a view to assisting EU citizens; insists on the need for a fair balance between diplomats seconded from the Member States and EU officials in the EEAS, including in management positions;

63.  Stresses that the financial means available for the EU’s external action are not commensurate to the challenges we are facing; calls in this regard for a substantial increase in the resources available under heading IV of the MFF in the context of the upcoming mid-term review;

64.  Calls for more accountability and transparency, in particular in relation to the negotiation of international agreements;

65.  Deeply regrets the limited budget of around EUR 320 million (0,2 % of the EU budget) for the EU’s CFSP and calls for better management of the financial flows to implement this budget; stresses that the budget allocations decided for 2016 remain at the same level as 2015 and that, with an additional EUR 5 million in security measures approved for the EUCAP Sahel Mali mission and EUR 10 million for EUBAM Libya, the margin available at the end of March 2016 was EUR 170 million; expresses its concern at the shortage of resources available in view of the commitments which will have to be met throughout 2016, with an additional budget of EUR 169 million envisaged just to continue those missions ending in 2016;

66.  Highlights the important role of culture in EU external policy in promoting dialogue and mutual understanding and learning; stresses that targeted cultural and educational policies can support key EU foreign and security policy objectives and contribute to the reinforcement of democracy, the rule of law and the protection of human rights; reiterates the role of intercultural and interreligious dialogue in combating extremism, radicalisation and marginalisation; calls on the Commission and the EEAS to take cultural diplomacy and intercultural dialogue into account in EU external relations instruments and in the EU development agenda; calls on the EEAS and EU delegations all over the world to appoint a cultural attaché in each EU representation in third partner countries; further stresses the crucial role of education in fostering citizenship and intercultural skills, as well as in building better economic prospects and improving health; encourages the current efforts of the Commission to enhance the role of science and research cooperation as soft-power tools in European external relations; highlights how scientific exchange can contribute to coalition building and conflict resolution, particularly in the relationship with the EU’s neighbouring countries;

o
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67.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the Council and the Commission.

(1) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0249.


CAP tools to reduce price volatility in agricultural markets
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European Parliament resolution of 14 December 2016 on CAP tools to reduce price volatility in agricultural markets (2016/2034(INI))
P8_TA(2016)0504A8-0339/2016

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to Regulations (EU) No 1305/2013, (EU) No 1306/2013, (EU) No 1307/2013 and (EU) No 1308/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council setting out the European Union’s common agricultural policy,

–  having regard to the March 2016 study carried out for its Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development entitled ‘State of Play of Risk Management Tools Implemented by Member States during the period 2014-2020: National and European Frameworks’,

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development and the opinion of the Committee on Budgets (A8-0339/2016),

A.  whereas instability and price volatility have always characterised agricultural markets, and over the past few years have become, due to a rapid succession of shocks in demand, supply and price, a structural feature of agriculture at both European and world level;

B.  whereas agriculture must meet the major challenge of world population growth, while a large part of the planet’s population remains malnourished, and the volatility of agricultural markets to variations in production and imbalances between supply and demand will continue to increase;

C.  whereas climate change and agricultural pests adversely affect agricultural output levels, and manifestations of climate change such as drought and floods contribute to price volatility;

D.  whereas macro-economic conditions can play a key role in price volatility, including structural factors such as exchange rates, energy and fertiliser prices, interest rates and speculation on agricultural markets;

E.  whereas outside the EU the main global players in agricultural markets are introducing policies that aim to curb volatility, and whereas the agricultural G20 has also undertaken to address the issue, in the context of sustainable development, by taking action to combat the negative impact on food security of the excessive volatility of agricultural raw material prices;

F.  whereas every region in the world has its own production models, as well as different measures in place with regard to environment and animal welfare, which can have serious implications for the cost-price of production, and whereas European farmers should be able to compete on the world market;

G.  whereas political choices, such as the imposition of trade embargoes, can increase the volatility of agricultural product prices;

H.   whereas the European Union does not currently have a genuine safety net to curb market volatility, which acts a powerful disincentive for farmers to continue working on EU territory;

I.  whereas in recent decades market opening and choices leading to economic globalisation, especially under the impulse of the WTO agreements or bilateral trade agreements, have enabled greater market fluidity but have also played a part in heightening the phenomenon of price volatility in agriculture;

J.  whereas farmers have been experiencing increasing production costs and an increase in farm debt, and whereas 2,4 million farms in the EU disappeared between 2005 and 2010, which resulted in the loss of a large number of jobs in rural areas;

K.  whereas agricultural markets, as the meeting-point of supply and demand, are inherently unstable, and whereas the presence of financial actors tends to reinforce this instability, and the limited elasticity of global food demand and agricultural product supply contributes to an increase in the effect of real or perceived imbalances on market participants, with a sometimes shocking impact on agricultural product prices;

L.  whereas the financialisation of the global economy and the accompanying speculation might have an impact on agricultural markets and may contribute to increasing their imbalance and the volatility of prices, with agricultural raw materials being used simply as financial assets; as was highlighted by the dreadful hunger riots in 2008, this excessive financialisation can be devastating and ethically reprehensible if it threatens the food security of the poorest, least well-nourished people on the planet;

M.  whereas the European Union has a responsibility to contribute to food security in Europe and to the competitive position of European farmers and market gardeners on the world market;

N.  whereas the agricultural and agri-food sector is important for the EU’s economy and has the potential to contribute to sustainable growth;

O.  whereas price volatility creates a high degree of uncertainty among producers and consumers, with the former seeing their income and ability to invest, and therefore the long-term viability of their activities, as under threat when prices are low, whilst the ability of consumers to feed themselves and have access to basic goods might be compromised by high food prices, thereby giving rise to crisis situations;

P.  whereas price volatility is damaging to farming and the agri-food sectors, which is detrimental to investment, growth and employment and which can also seriously affect consumer supply, food security and the smooth operation of the CAP;

Q.  whereas price volatility affects farmers’ capacity to invest and create employment, which discourages modernisation, innovation, young farmers and generational renewal;

R.  whereas sustainable farming as a source of high-quality food can only be ensured if farmers receive adequate farm-gate prices which cover all the costs of sustainable production;

S.  whereas in the context of the ‘digital revolution’, greater transparency in European markets and timely access to information may contribute, among other tools, to limiting the volatility of markets and prices through improved and more objective access for economic operators to the development of agricultural markets, helping to provide better protection for farmers’ incomes and countering agricultural market speculation;

T.  whereas the CAP as reformed in 2013 includes tools for risk management within the framework of rural development policy, and whereas only 2 % of the second-pillar budget and 0,4 % of the CAP budget are currently spent on these tools;

Current situation and objectives

1.  Considers that farmers will be increasingly exposed to price volatility, arising from various causes such as the instability and imperfection of agricultural markets, the globalisation and sophistication of agricultural markets, greater variability of supply due to climatic instability, increased health risks and the uncertain equilibrium of food supply;

2.  Deems it necessary to adopt a more incisive and coherent policy, with targeted instruments at EU and national level, in order to secure multifunctional, sustainable agricultural production throughout the Union along with fair and remunerative prices, by lessening the negative effects for those operators most exposed to price volatility in particular;

3.  Notes that the various agricultural sectors have different degrees of exposure to price volatility and that the calibration of public policy tools or mitigation strategies of the actors involved must be adapted to each sector and to the real, current and future risks faced by farmers;

4.  Notes that, while the European Union is scaling back its strategic support for agriculture, its competitors on the world market, notably the United States, Brazil and China, make available very considerable, and increasing, sums of public money for developing new risk-policy models and providing instruments to protect their farmers from the effects of price volatility;

5.  Points out that the European Union is the only agricultural actor to base its agricultural policy on support decoupled from production, while at the same time dismantling its strategic supports for agriculture over the years;

6.  Notes that in its Farm Bill 2014 the United States has developed specific insurance policies for different agricultural sectors;

7.  Points out that the CAP has consistently evolved over the past decades, while its main objectives of ensuring a decent standard of living for farmers and providing a stable and safe food supply at affordable prices for consumers remain valid;

8.  Highlights in this regard the fact that a European common policy is vital for a sector that is responsible for ensuring food security and food safety and which plays a key role in the use of natural resources and the sustainable economic and environmental development of rural areas;

9.  Underlines the importance of using synergies between the CAP and other EU policies;

10.  Notes that the most recent reforms of the CAP have almost fully decoupled direct aid from production, have continued the process of convergence for direct payments and have taken on board societal and, in particular, environmental concerns to a greater extent;

11.  Notes with concern a reduction in CAP resources throughout the years, in particular those devoted to common market organisation (CMO) measures, opening up the prospect of CAP renationalisation, and undermining fair conditions and a level playing field in the EU’s single market;

12.  Stresses that EU farmers’ average annual incomes have stagnated or even declined over the past 10 years, while production costs have continuously increased, resulting in a substantial drop in the number of farms, with the threat of many job losses in rural areas;

13.  Considers that the Commission should use the entire financial margin for manoeuvre at its disposal within the single CMO;

14.  Regrets the very slow rate of implementation of the single CMO tools to reduce the harmful impact of price volatility and manage market disruption);

15.  Points out that most of the risk management instruments, mutual funds, income stabilisation and insurance tools granted under rural development programmes are being implemented unevenly and with limited budget funding;

16.  Recommends, therefore, that current second-pillar measures be reinforced in order to enhance the competitiveness of European agriculture and to involve producers’ organisations closely in the implementation process;

17.  Calls on the Commission to conduct an in-depth analysis of the reasons for both the weak uptake of the tools available under the second pillar of the CAP and the sub‑optimal implementation of the single CMO, with the purpose of reviewing the relevant provisions accordingly;

18.  Underlines the importance of maintaining decoupled direct aids under the current CAP together with the single area payment scheme, which constitute compensation for public services and a vital component in securing the income of farmers and providing them with a degree of financial stability;

19.  Stresses, however, that the current CAP, lacking responsive and effective tools, has neither adequately addressed the greater volatility seen on agricultural markets nor allowed farmers to respond to market signals or develop solutions to cope with price changes;

20.  Calls on the Commission to take urgent action to support the agricultural sector of the outermost, mountainous and less favoured regions, where costs linked to producing, harvesting and marketing products outside the areas where they were produced are much higher than in other areas, and to provide specific indicators for the activation of safety net measures for agricultural markets in these regions;

21.  Considers that the EU’s food autonomy and security, as well as the development of a competitive and sustainable farming sector throughout the Union that meets the needs of citizens, must remain strategic objectives for the future CAP, while a fair standard of living for farmers must be guaranteed as a matter of urgency;

22.  Considers that viable food production cannot exist without European farmers, who are continuously exposed to price volatility and depend heavily on stable markets and prices, as well as adequate public funding and measures preserving the competitiveness of farms and family farms;

23.  Highlights in this regard the important role of young farmers and newcomers in guaranteeing the future of European agriculture;

Proposals

Sectoral organisation and contractual systems

24.  Considers that primary producers are the weakest link in the food supply chain, especially in view of an increasingly concentrated and large retail sector at European and national level, and must be permitted to come together in bodies such as cooperatives, producers’ organisations, or their own associations or inter-branch organisations;

25.  Calls on the Commission to facilitate the introduction of contractual systems by adjusting, in accordance with Article 42 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, EU competition policy to the specific needs of the agricultural sector, with uniform rules and implementation in all Member States; considers that the CAP objectives must continue to prevail over competition rules and that any initiatives to better adapt competition law to the specificities of the agricultural sector should be based on the single CMO regulation;

26.  Stresses that the negotiating power of producers must be strengthened in the food chain, through standard, transparent, balanced and collectively negotiated contracts, in order to place farmers in a position to counter unfair trading practices, boost their competitiveness, improve their income stability, generate added value and invest in innovation;

27.  Asks the Commission to set up an EU legislative framework forbidding unfair trading practices in the food supply chain that can create price volatility on agricultural markets;

28.  Stresses that those contracts should be of adequate duration and should lay down the prices, payment periods and other terms for the supply of agricultural products;

29.  Considers that farmers in the various farming sectors should be able to negotiate the terms of contracts collectively via producers’ organisations whose size corresponds to that of the industrial or distribution groups they are negotiating with;

30.  Notes that the potential offered by longer-term integrated supply chain contracts, forwards contracts, fixed-margin contracts and the opportunity to ‘lock in’ prices that reflect production costs for a set period of time could offer producers a tool with which to manage the impact of volatility on their margins;

31.  Believes that the option of making use of new instruments in contractual relations should be available, and that contract mediation tools must also be made available);

32.  Notes that inter-branch organisations encourage trust and dialogue among the various stakeholders (producers, processors and distributors) and facilitate the creation of added value through joint initiatives that help farmers to understand markets and production better, promote good practices and market transparency, forecast production potential, help improve supply management and draw up standard contracts that are compatible with EU rules and regulations;

33.  Calls on the Commission to encourage EU-level inter-branch organisations to jointly defend the interests of producers in the sectors most oriented towards cross-border markets, such as the fruit and vegetable sector;

34.  Recognises the efforts made by European cooperatives in uniting and helping producers to improve their position in the value chain, and believes it is necessary to encourage them to play a greater role in agricultural sectors, thus mitigating the effects of excessive market volatility;

Risk management tools

35.  Recommends that the tools for climate, health and economic risk management, particularly the various types of risk insurance for agriculture production, income stabilisation tools, individual provision mechanisms and mutual funds, be further developed in a market-oriented CAP in order to limit the effects of price volatility and encourage forward-looking farm management;

36.  Calls on the Commission to foster the exchange of best practices between Member States and to develop new tools, which should not only be fair, efficient and reactive, but also affordable and accessible for farmers, in order to prevent and manage the risks associated with price volatility and thus to lay the foundations for discussion of the future reforms of the CAP;

37.  Underlines that such tools, coming alongside the direct payment system, must be equipped with sufficient resources to increase the resilience of farming while reducing the need for ex-post crisis management;

38.  Considers that sectorial managed mutual funds, established on the initiative of farmers, can stabilise farmers’ incomes to some extent as the profit margins on their produce fluctuate;

39.  Considers further that those mutual funds should not replace the support provided by the Union and should be combined with national support;

40.  Calls also on the Commission to take initiatives by offering incentives to set up such funds, while guaranteeing that any future risk management scheme must comply with, and where necessary complete, insurance systems adopted at national level by Member States;

41.  Considers that price volatility can also be managed at national level, and invites the Member States to take into account market volatility in their tax rules by allowing farmers to create individual provision mechanisms that could be tax-free;

42.  Considers that farmers are economically among the most vulnerable actors on the markets, particularly those who have invested in developing their holdings;

43.  Considers further that CAP tools, such as effective cash flow assistance or precautionary savings scheme should be put in place in order to prevent the impetus for investment from being lost;

44.  Highlights the fact that farms can only afford to innovate if capital costs are low and there is a degree of liquidity available; emphasises in this regard that a stable income is one of the preconditions that enable farmers to gain access to loans;

45.  Notes that the role and actions of the banking sector have an acute impact on producers and that the increasing levels of farm debt add additional burdens to the sector in times of volatility;

46.  Underlines the importance of informing farmers better on the European Investment Bank’s key role in supporting and developing the rural economy and how to benefit from innovative financial instruments;

47.  Considers that better information on the modernisation, sustainability and competitiveness of holdings must be made available to farmers and farmers’ organisations, while at the same time providing training courses on risk management, market data, margins and volatility;

48.  Calls on the Commission to adopt, in close cooperation with national authorities and farming groups, an awareness-raising plan on the risk management tools available within Pillar II and in the single CMO;

49.  Calls on the Member States and local authorities to strengthen the aforementioned aspects in their programmes of agricultural education and vocational training;

50.  Believes that one of the ways of stabilising markets and reducing price volatility is to ensure a better balance between supply and demand;

Agricultural market and price observatories

51.  Considers that agricultural markets must be transparent, which can principally be achieved by making the publication of existing information on prices and costs more timely, easily accessible and useful to all stakeholders in the supply chain, from production to distribution, thus limiting price speculation and price volatility;

52.  Notes, however, that price transparency in itself will do nothing to improve the resilience of farmers against price volatility or to resolve structural faults in market organisation such as the imbalances between supply and demand;

53.  Encourages the creation of a European map with real-time information on the availability of agricultural products;

54.  Welcomes the extension of additional market monitoring instruments to other sectors;

55.  Emphasises the important advantage for farmers of being aware of price formation and movements, as well as trends in supply, when negotiating contracts with all other stakeholders;

56.  Recommends the establishment of European agricultural price observatories, covering the entire chain, from the producer price to the final selling price, in order to provide ongoing, segment-by-segment analysis of agricultural markets;

57.  Recommends the involvement of economic stakeholders when making up-to-date and relevant data on movements and short- and medium-term forecasts available at monthly or bi-monthly intervals corresponding to the specific needs of the relevant sector;

58.  Urges the Commission to provide the necessary resources for observatories to enable them to make recommendations, rather than to purely monitor disruptions;

Crisis prevention and management tools

59.  Takes the view that the traditional CAP crisis management tools (public intervention and private storage) are not sufficiently effective in a globalised economy;

60.  Calls on the Commission, therefore, to develop combinable and/or complementary public- and private-sector tools, together with a tailored, binding early warning mechanism in order to ensure the proper functioning of markets and counteract market crises;

61.  Considers that the Commission should use all the tools already at its disposal in the single CMO to fight crises;

62.  Regrets the low use of the crisis reserve, which is mainly due to budgetary rules, in particular the annuality rule, and to the discretion that the Commission enjoys when it comes to releasing funds from the reserve;

63.  Calls, therefore, for the crisis reserve to be constituted outside the CAP budget and for it to serve as source of funding for crisis management tools;

64.  Looks upon countercyclical measures as crisis prevention and management tools, in combination with the risk management tools, through which the EU can intervene on agriculture markets in cases of “force majeure” crisis so as to avoid substantial price cuts;

65.  Calls on the Commission to conduct a study on how to develop mechanisms to prevent and combat crises due to price volatility using countercyclical aids, and to provide for greater flexibility in the annual budgets, within the bounds of the multiannual financial envelope, in order to take account of the countercyclical aids;

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

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