Index 
Texts adopted
Tuesday, 14 February 2017 - StrasbourgFinal edition
EU-Cook Islands sustainable fisheries partnership agreement ***
 EU-Cook Islands sustainable fisheries partnership agreement (Resolution)
 Control of the Register and composition of the Commission’s expert groups
 The role of whistleblowers in the protection of EU’s financial interests
 List of third States and organisations with which Europol shall conclude agreements *
 Subjecting the new psychoactive substance methyl 2-[[1-(cyclohexylmethyl)-1H-indole-3-carbonyl]amino]-3,3-dimethylbutanoate (MDMB-CHMICA) to control measures *
 Mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund: application EGF/2016/005 NL/Drenthe Overijssel Retail
 Revision of the European Consensus on Development
 Annual report on EU competition policy
 Promoting gender equality in mental health and clinical research
 Priorities for the 61st session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women

EU-Cook Islands sustainable fisheries partnership agreement ***
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European Parliament legislative resolution of 14 February 2017 on the draft Council decision on the conclusion on behalf of the European Union of a Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Agreement between the European Union and the Government of the Cook Islands and the Implementation Protocol thereto (07592/2016 – C8-0431/2016 – 2016/0077(NLE))
P8_TA(2017)0019A8-0010/2017

(Consent)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the draft Council decision (07592/2016),

–  having regard to the draft Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Agreement between the European Union and the Government of the Cook Islands and the Implementation Protocol thereto (07594/2016),

–  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), and (7), of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (C8-0431/2016),

–  having regard to its non-legislative resolution of 14 February 2017(1) on the draft Council decision,

–  having regard to Rule 99(1) and (4), and Rule 108(7) of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the recommendation of the Committee on Fisheries and the opinions of the Committee on Development and the Committee on Budgets (A8-0010/2017),

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 Cook Islands.

(1) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0020.


EU-Cook Islands sustainable fisheries partnership agreement (Resolution)
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European Parliament non-legislative resolution of 14 February 2017 on the draft Council decision on the conclusion on behalf of the European Union of the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Agreement between the European Union and the Government of the Cook Islands and the Implementation Protocol thereto (07592/2016 – C8-0431/2016 – 2016/0077(NLE)2016/2230(INI))
P8_TA(2017)0020A8-0015/2017

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the draft Council decision (07592/2016),

–  having regard to the request for consent submitted by the Council in accordance with Article 43, Article 218(6), second subparagraph, point (a)(v), and Article 218(7) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (C8-0431/2016),

–  having regard to its legislative resolution of 14 February 2017(1) on the draft decision,

–  having regard to the ex ante evaluation report of June 2013 on the fisheries partnership agreement and protocol between the European Union and the Cook Islands,

–  having regard to the strategic guidelines drawn up by the Cook Islands authorities on the development of the local fisheries sector, in particular those contained in the document ‘Cook Islands Offshore Fisheries Policy’,

–  having regard to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) framework, in particular SDGs 1, 2, 9, 10 and 14,

–  having regard to the conclusions and recommendations of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) 12th Scientific Committee meeting for the long-term conservation and sustainable use of highly migratory fish stocks in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean,

–  having regard to Rule 99(2) of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Fisheries (A8-0015/2017),

A.  whereas the Commission has negotiated a new ‘Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Agreement’ between the European Union and the Cook Islands (EU-Cook Islands FPA), and the implementation protocol thereto, with the Cook Islands Government, covering a period of eight and four years respectively;

B.  whereas this is the first EU-Cook Islands FPA, which guarantees a European presence in the waters of the eastern Pacific following the non-renewal of the agreement with Kiribati (and the agreements signed but not implemented with Micronesia and the Salomon Islands);

C.  whereas the general objective of the EU-Cook Islands FPA/Protocol is to increase cooperation between the EU and the Cook Islands in the field of fisheries, in the interest of both parties, creating a partnership framework that will promote a sustainable fisheries policy and sustainable exploitation of fishery resources in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of the Cook Islands;

D.  whereas our presence in the region should serve to promote a sustainable fisheries policy and sound exploitation of resources, guaranteeing the proper management of Pacific tuna resources;

E.  whereas the EU-Cook Islands FPA is based on the best available scientific advice, respecting the conservation and management measures of the WCPFC within the limits of the available surplus;

F.  whereas problems exist in relation to inspection and control, and whereas illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing is a problem that is difficult to overcome, bearing in mind the scattered nature of territory and resources;

G.  whereas there are various vessels from EU Member States in the Western and Central Pacific region and the remaining fisheries agreements signed in the region have expired;

H.  whereas a commitment has been given not to grant other non-European fleets more favourable conditions than those provided for in the Agreement, and whereas the Agreement contains the Cotonou clause on human rights, democratic principles and the rule of law;

I.  whereas the EU-Cook Islands FPA is aimed at promoting more effective and sustainable development of the fisheries sector in the islands, as well as that of related industries and activities, in line with the objectives of the Cook Islands national fisheries policy, particularly in terms of supporting scientific research and artisanal fishing, increasing landings at local ports, boosting monitoring, control and surveillance capacity in relation to fishing activities and combating IUU fishing, and in line with the SDG framework;

J.  whereas the contributions intended to support the development of the Cook Islands’ fisheries policy, ranging between 47,6 % and 50 % of the total to be transferred, amount to a major contribution in percentage terms;

K.  whereas stocks of bigeye tuna have been in decline since 2012, whereas, as a consequence of this, the WCPFC introduced a management measure that will be renegotiated in 2017, and whereas purse seine catches fell by 26 % in 2015 by comparison with 2014; whereas, furthermore, the Cook Islands waters are regarded as a ‘shark sanctuary’, even though it should be stressed that this is not a target species for the European fleet fishing in those waters under the new agreement;

L.  whereas EU longliner catches have tended to be located in the warmer waters to the south of the Cook Islands; bearing in mind the requirements imposed by the Cook Islands’ shark conservation regulation; whereas the ex ante assessment found that there would be no interest in the future for EU longliners to fish in the Cook Islands EEZ;

M.  whereas the Cook Islands are highly dependent on food imports;

1.  Takes the view that the EU-Cook Islands FPA should effectively promote sustainable fisheries in the Cook Islands waters through adequate EU sectoral support, and pursue two equally important goals: (1) to provide fishing opportunities to EU vessels in the Cook Islands fishing zone, on the basis of the best available scientific advice and with due respect for the conservation and management measures of the WCPFC within the limits of the available surplus, the calculation of which should take the full development of the country’s fishing capacity into account; and (2) to promote cooperation between the EU and the Cook Islands with a view to a sustainable fisheries policy and sound exploitation of fisheries resources in the Cook Islands fishing zone, and to contribute to the sustainable development of the Cook Islands fishing sector, through economic, financial, technical and scientific cooperation while respecting that country’s sovereign options regarding this development;

2.  Takes notes of the conclusions of the ex ante evaluation report of June 2013 on the EU-Cook Islands FPA and protocol, according to which previous FPAs/Protocols in the region (Kiribati, Solomon Islands) have not made any meaningful contribution to the development of the local fishing sectors, particularly in terms of joint enterprises (with shared investments) and the development of local processing capacity; takes the view that the EU-Cook Islands FPA should contribute insofar as is possible to local fishing sector development by guaranteeing the supply of fish needed for domestic consumption and, thereby matching the objectives announced for the new generation of EU fisheries agreements and those of the SDG framework;

3.  Regrets that other countries in the region have not reached partnership agreements with the EU and are opening their fishing grounds up to other countries and regions in the world that on occasion employ fishing practices which do not take account of the resources available, instead of opting for an agreement with the EU which promotes sustainable fisheries and provides sectoral support;

4.  Welcomes the inclusion of the obligation that the Cook Islands render public the existence of any agreement authorising foreign fleets to fish in its waters but regrets the lack of precision on the overall effort exerted, as has been required under certain other agreements entered into by the EU;

5.  Points out that the implementation of the EU-Cook Islands FPA and protocol, and possible revisions and/or renewals, should take account of and be aligned with the strategy established by the Cook Islands authorities for the development of the Cook Islands fishing sector, notably by making provision for:

   a contribution towards building monitoring, control and inspection capacities in relation to the fishery resources of the Cook Islands and fishing activities being carried out in that country’s waters, with a particular focus on combating IUU fishing;
   action to improve the scientific knowledge available on the status of local marine ecosystems and fishery resources in the Cook Islands waters;
   specific support for the development of local artisanal fishing and communities that rely on it, increasing its contribution to the local economy, helping to improve safety on board and fishermen’s incomes, and supporting the development of local fish processing and marketing infrastructure, whether to supply the domestic market or for export;

6.  Considers that support for sectoral development is an important aspect of contributing to the sustainability of a partner country, as it helps to enhance the country’s operational independence, underpin its development strategy and guarantee its sovereignty;

7.  Considers that employment possibilities for local seamen on board EU vessels under the partnership agreements do meet international standards; reiterates the need to respect ILO principles and promote the ratification of ILO Convention No 188 while at the same time respecting the general principles of freedom of association and collective bargaining for workers, and non-discrimination at the workplace and in professional activity; points out, however, that in view of the shortage of skilled seamen for tuna vessels, the Cook Islands’ authorities have not requested embarkation in the EU fleet;

8.  Takes the view that the EU-Cook Islands FPA and the relevant protocol should allow bilateral cooperation on the fight against illegal fishing to be strengthened and provide the Cook Islands with the means to finance surveillance programmes, and believes that measures to prevent IUU fishing in the exclusive economic zone of the Cook Islands should be reinforced, including by improved monitoring, control and surveillance through the use of the satellite-based vessel monitoring system, logbooks, inspectors and the implementation of decisions by regional fisheries organisations;

9.  Considers it desirable to improve the quantity and accuracy of data on all catches (targeted and bycatch) and, more generally, the conservation status of fishery resources so that the impact of the Agreement on the marine ecosystem and on fishing communities can, with the involvement of fishermen’s associations, be gauged more accurately; urges the Commission to promote the regular and transparent functioning of the bodies responsible for monitoring the application of the Agreement, and a strengthening of scientific assessments by the WCPFC;

10.  Calls on the Commission, accordingly, to consider applying the precautionary principle to the rules of the Common Fisheries Policy and to analyse the use of floating Fishing Aggregating Devices in the area and its influence in the tuna ecology and make proposals for their use on the basis of their findings;

11.  Calls on the Commission to inform Parliament in a timely manner about the forthcoming meetings of the Joint Committee and to forward to Parliament the minutes and conclusions of meetings of the Joint Committee as provided for in Article 6 of the Agreement, the multiannual sectoral programme as referred to in Article 3 of the Protocol and the findings of the corresponding annual evaluations, to enable representatives of Parliament to attend Joint Committee meetings as observers, and to promote the participation of Cook Islands fishing communities;

12.  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 relating to the Protocol and its possible renewal, pursuant to Article 13(2) of the TEU and Article 218(10) of the TFEU;

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

(1) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0019.


Control of the Register and composition of the Commission’s expert groups
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European Parliament resolution of 14 February 2017 on control of the Register and composition of the Commission’s expert groups (2015/2319(INI))
P8_TA(2017)0021A8-0002/2017

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Commission Decision of 30 May 2016 establishing horizontal rules on the creation and operation of Commission expert groups (C(2016)3301),

–  having regard to the Commission Communication to the Commission – Framework for Commission expert groups: horizontal rules and public register (C(2016)3300),

–  having regard to the Framework Agreement on relations between the European Parliament and the European Commission(1),

–  having regard to its resolution of 28 April 2016 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2014, Section III – Commission and executive agencies(2),

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgetary Control and the opinions of the Committee on Legal Affairs and the Committee on Budgets (A8-0002/2017),

A.  whereas it has expressed its concerns with regard to the functioning of the previous framework for Commission expert groups (EGs) of November 2010(3), which had been set up with the aim of introducing significant operational innovations to strengthen the transparency and coordination of interinstitutional work;

B.  whereas, in particular, its Committee on Budgets, in light of the lack of transparency and the imbalanced composition of a certain number of EGs, and given the need to make sure that the composition of EGs strikes the right balance in terms of expertise and of views represented, adopted budgetary reserves in 2011 and 2014, and has formulated demands which have not yet been accepted for their reform;

C.  whereas a recent study commissioned by it has identified a widespread lack of transparency in, and an imbalance in the composition of, a certain number of EGs(4);

D.  whereas balanced composition and transparency are critical preconditions for the expertise to adequately reflect the needs for regulatory action and for fostering the legitimacy of this expertise and regulatory action in the eyes of European citizens;

E.  whereas the European Ombudsman has in her strategic inquiry(5) put forward a recommendation concerning the composition of Commission EGs, in particular emphasising the need for greater transparency within the EGs;

F.  whereas before adopting the Decision, the Commission engaged with representatives of Parliament and with the European Ombudsman;

G.  whereas the Commission has presented to Parliament a working document of the Commission’s services, responding to the recommendations contained in a working document of the Rapporteur for the Committee on Budgetary Control;

H.  whereas unfortunately, this notwithstanding, neither the working document of the Commission’s services, nor the Commission Decision, provides solutions to all concerns raised by Parliament;

1.  Welcomes the Commission Decision of 30 May 2016 establishing horizontal rules on the creation and operation of Commission EGs, but regrets the fact that, despite many non-governmental organisations having expressed their interest, the Commission did not organise a full public consultation; reiterates the importance of reviving forms of involvement of representatives of civil society and the social partners in crucial areas such as the transparency and the functioning of the European institutions;

2.  Points out that, through the adoption of the new horizontal rules, many concerns previously expressed by Parliament have seemingly been met, in particular those concerning the need for public calls for applications for the selection of the members of EGs and concerning the revision of the Register of Commission EGs and the creation of synergy between this Register, the Transparency Register of the Commission and Parliament, and those rules relating to the need to avoid conflicts of interest, in particular as regards experts who are appointed in a personal capacity;

3.  Notes that transparency and coordination of interinstitutional activities are of paramount importance, helping to strike a suitable balance from the point of view of the expertise and opinions represented in the composition of the EGs, in order to improve their action; welcomes, therefore, the fact that the selection process is now taking place publicly; stresses, in this connection, that it needs to be clearly visible what practical experience and qualifications the experts possess; takes the view that the entire selection process should guarantee a high level of transparency and should be governed by clearer, more concise criteria, with particular emphasis on candidates’ practical experience, alongside their academic qualifications, and on possible conflicts of interest the experts might have;

4.  Welcomes the fact that a connection has already been established between the Register of Commission EGs and the Transparency Register, thus ensuring improved transparency;

5.  Finds it regrettable that the attempt to conduct a public consultation on the establishment of the new rules was unsuccessful; calls on the Commission to act in a transparent manner and to be accountable to the citizens of the EU;

6.  Recalls that a lack of transparency has a negative effect on the trust that EU citizens have in the EU institutions; believes that the effective reform of the Commission’s EGs system, based on clear principles of transparency and balanced composition, will improve the availability and reliability of data, which will in turn help increase people’s trust in the EU;

7.  Emphasises that the new rules should apply strictly and equally to all EGs – irrespective of their title (thus including special, high-level or other ‘extraordinary’ groups, and formal or informal groups) – that are not exclusively composed of representatives of Member States or governed by Commission Decision 98/500/EC of 20 May 1998 on the establishment of Sectoral Dialogue Committees promoting the Dialogue between the social partners at European level; reiterates that the new rules must ensure balanced representation through participation of representatives of all stakeholders;

8.  Takes the view that the Commission should make progress towards a more balanced composition of the EGs; deplores the fact, however, that as yet no express distinction is drawn between those representing economic and non-economic interests so as to guarantee a maximum of transparency and balance; stresses the need, in this connection, for the Commission to make it clear, in the public call for application, how it defines a balanced composition and which interests it seeks to be represented when the EGs are established; considers it important, therefore, to involve Parliament and the Economic and Social Committee with a view to producing a more balanced definition of that distinction;

9.  Calls on the Commission, when creating new EGs or changing the composition of existing ones, to state clearly in the public call for applications how it defines a balanced composition, which interests it seeks to be represented, and why, and also to justify any possible deviation from the balanced composition, as defined beforehand, when the EGs are established;

10.  Points out, in this context, and with regard to paragraphs 34-45 of the Ombudsman’s aforementioned opinion, that, although the Commission has not yet formally defined its concept of ‘balance’, the latter is not to be understood as the result of an arithmetic exercise, but rather as the result of efforts to ensure that the members of an EG, together, possess the necessary technical expertise and breadth of perspectives to deliver on the mandate of the EG in question; considers that the concept of balance should, therefore, be understood as tied to the specific mandate of each individual EG; considers that the criteria to assess whether an EG is balanced should include the tasks of the group, the technical expertise required, the stakeholders who would be most likely affected by the matter, the organisation of groups of stakeholders, and the appropriate ratio of economic and non-economic interests;

11.  Calls on the Commission forthwith to investigate whether a new complaints mechanism is required, if the definition of balanced composition is contested by interested stakeholders or whether current arrangements are adequate, calls for Parliament to be associated in this control mechanism;

12.  Recalls that, in the past, it was not always possible for the Commission to find sufficient experts representing SMEs, consumers, trade unions or other organisations of general public interest, and that this was often caused by the costs involved, either in taking up leave or, for example in the case of SMEs, in finding replacement for the time spent in the EGs, hereafter referred to as ‘alternative costs’;

13.  Requests, therefore, the Commission to explore ways to facilitate and encourage the participation of underrepresented organisations or social groups in EGs, by assessing, inter alia, its provisions for reimbursement of expenses in an efficient and equitable manner, including possible ways to cover outlays for any such ‘alternative costs’, while duly respecting the principle of proportionality;

14.  Asks the Commission to assess the development of an allowance system that supports underrepresented groups in acquiring the expertise necessary for a fully effective participation in the EG;

15.  Calls on the Commission to make it possible for European non-governmental organisations to be represented in the EGs by representatives of their national member organisations, when provided with a clear mandate from the European organisations;

16.  Calls on the Commission to make sure that – even if, despite specific arrangements, it is still not possible to find sufficient experts representing all relevant interests – the EG concerned will take all appropriate measures, for example by weighted voting procedures, to make sure that the final reports of these EGs will effectively be representing all relevant interests in a balanced manner;

17.  Recalls that both Parliament and the European Ombudsman have recommended to the Commission to make the agendas, background documents, minutes of meetings and deliberations of EGs public, unless a qualified majority of their members decide that a specific meeting or part of a meeting would need to be secret, and regrets that the Commission has persisted in a system in which the meetings remain secret unless a simple majority of the members of EGs decides that the deliberations should be made public, considers it essential to implement the greatest possible transparency, and calls on the Commission to provide for the meetings and minutes to be made public;

18.  Stresses that users need to be given access to a range of documents (agendas, reference documents, various reports), with a view to ensuring efficient monitoring by interested stakeholders; takes the view, furthermore, that the website of the Register of EGs – whether as such or through hyperlinks to other relevant websites – should be one of the instruments or mechanisms used to obtain constantly updated information on policy developments, thereby guaranteeing a high level of transparency;

19.  Invites the Commission forthwith to develop specific guidelines – in consultation with stakeholders, including Parliament – explaining how it interprets the provision that the minutes of the EGs should be meaningful and complete, especially when the meetings are not public, and urges the Commission to provide, in this regard, 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;

20.  Recalls that, in addition to experts appointed in their personal capacity, members from universities, research institutes, law firms, European and other think tanks and consultancies may also have conflicts of interest, and requests the Commission to clarify how it avoids conflicts of interest for these specific categories of experts;

21.  Calls on the Commission to ensure – building on existing positive examples – a systematic implementation of improved horizontal rules by means of a central oversight of the implementation of these horizontal rules, and not to delegate this to the individual Directorates-General;

22.  Calls on the Commission to devote, in particular, sufficient resources to the activities relating to the Register, by developing innovative and particularly effective methods so that it will be kept up to date without containing any factual errors and/or omissions, and will allow data export in machine-readable format;

23.  Notes that the Commission has stated that by the end of 2016, the new framework for Commission EGs will have to be implemented by all Directorates-General, and requests the Commission to submit to Parliament a report on the implementation and evaluation at the latest one year after the adoption of the Decision, i.e. before 1 June 2017; calls on the Commission to ensure that, as part of the structured dialogue with Parliament, a first oral presentation of the report can already be made within the next six months;

24.  Highlights, furthermore, that the Commission, in preparing and drafting delegated and implementing acts and in drawing up strategic guidelines, must ensure that all documents, including draft acts, must be communicated to Parliament and the Council at the same time as to the Member States’ experts, as agreed in the Interinstitutional Agreement of 13 April 2016 on Better Law-Making;

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

(1) OJ L 304, 20.11.2010, p. 47.
(2) OJ L 246, 14.9.2016, p. 27.
(3) C(2010)7649 of 10 November 2010.
(4) Policy Department D Budgetary Affairs, Composition of the Commission’s expert groups and the status of the register of expert groups, 2015.
(5) OI/6/2014/NF.


The role of whistleblowers in the protection of EU’s financial interests
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European Parliament resolution of 14 February 2017 on the role of whistleblowers in the protection of EU’s financial interests (2016/2055(INI))
P8_TA(2017)0022A8-0004/2017

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, and in particular Article 325 thereof,

–  having regard to Articles 22a, 22b and 22c of the Staff Regulations of Officials of the European Union,

–  having regard to its resolution of 23 October 2013 on organised crime, corruption and money laundering: recommendations on action and initiatives to be taken(1),

–  having regard to the Decision of the European Ombudsman closing her own-initiative inquiry OI/1/2014/PMC concerning whistleblowing,

–  having regard to Directive (EU) 2016/943 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 8 June 2016 on the protection of undisclosed know-how and business information (trade secrets) against their unlawful acquisition, use and disclosure(2),

–  having regard to Article 9 of the Council of Europe Civil Law Convention on Corruption,

–  having regard to Article 22(a) of the Council of Europe Criminal Law Convention on Corruption,

–  having regard to Council of Europe recommendation CM/Rec(2014)7 on the protection of whistleblowers,

–  having regard to Articles 8, 13 and 33 of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption,

–  having regard to Principle 4 of the OECD Recommendation on Improving Ethical Conduct in the Public Service,

–  having regard to the inquiry of the office of the European Ombudsman of 2 March 2015 and to its call for the EU institutions to adopt the required rules on whistleblowing,

–  having regard to the OECD publication on ‘Committing to effective whistleblower protection’,

–  having regard to the decision of the European Court of Human Rights in the case Guja v. Moldova, Application No 14277/04 of 12 February 2008,

–  having regard to Article 6 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union,

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgetary Control and the opinion of the Committee on Constitutional Affairs (A8-0004/2017),

A.  whereas in the context of the discharge procedure, Parliament needs as much information as possible relating to any such irregularities; whereas in cases concerning irregularities internal to the institutions, Parliament should be entitled to full access to information so that it can conduct the discharge procedure in full knowledge of the facts;

B.  whereas the European Court of Auditors provides Parliament with an excellent basis for its examinations, but cannot itself cover all individual expenditures;

C.  whereas the Commission and other EU institutions similarly provide Parliament with informative reports on their spending, but also rely on official reporting mechanisms;

D.  whereas the Union’s many funds are subject to shared management by the Commission and the Member States, which makes it difficult for the Commission to report on irregularities concerning individual projects;

E.  whereas Parliament regularly receives information from individual citizens or non-governmental organisations in respect of irregularities concerning individual projects funded entirely or in part from the Union budget;

F.  whereas whistleblowers therefore play an important role in preventing, detecting and reporting irregularities in respect of the expenditures relating to the EU budget, as well as in identifying and publicising cases of corruption; whereas a culture of trust fostering the European public good needs to be established and promoted in which EU officials and other staff, as well as the general public, feel safeguarded by sound management practices, and which shows that the EU institutions support, protect and encourage potential whistleblowers;

G.  whereas it is vital for a horizontal legal framework to be established as a matter of urgency, which, by laying down rights and obligations, protects whistleblowers throughout the EU, as well as in the EU institutions (the protection of anonymity, provision of legal, psychological and, where necessary, financial assistance, access to various information channels, rapid response schemes, etc.);

H.  whereas most EU Member States have ratified the UN Convention against Corruption, which makes it obligatory to provide appropriate and effective protection to whistleblowers;

I.  whereas whistleblowing is an essential source of information in the fight against organised crime and in the investigation of corruption in the public sector;

J.  whereas whistleblowers play a particularly important role when it comes to the detection and reporting of corruption and fraud, as the parties directly involved in these criminal practices will actively try to conceal them from any official reporting mechanisms;

K.  whereas whistleblowing, based on the principles of transparency and integrity, is essential; the protection of whistleblowers should therefore be guaranteed by law and reinforced throughout the EU, but only if the purpose of their action is to protect the public interest by acting in good faith in accordance with the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights;

L.  whereas the authorities should not limit or reduce the ability of whistleblowers and journalists to document and disclose illegal, unlawful or harmful practices, when revealing this information in good faith and the public interest is a priority;

M.  whereas all the EU institutions have been obliged since 1 January 2014 to introduce internal rules protecting whistleblowers who are officials of the EU institutions, in accordance with Articles 22a, 22b and 22c of the Staff Regulations, and the working group of the interinstitutional Preparatory Committee for Matters relating to the Staff Regulations, dealing with the protection of whistleblowers, has not yet finished its work; whereas part of the work done by that working group should be to assess the situation of whistleblowers who have suffered negative consequences in the institutions, so as to establish best practices based on past experience; whereas those internal rules must take account of the management structure and of the specific characteristics of the various categories under the Staff Regulations;

N.  whereas protection of whistleblowers at Member State level has neither been implemented in all Member States, nor harmonised, which means that even when the financial interests of the European Union are at stake, it may be personally and professionally risky for whistleblowers to provide Parliament with information on irregularities; whereas it is precisely because people are afraid of what might happen to them owing to the lack of protection, and because they believe that no action will be taken, that irregularities are not reported, and the EU’s financial interests are undermined as a result;

O.  whereas there is a need to ensure that any kind of retaliation against whistleblowers will be suitably punished;

P.  whereas in its resolution of 23 October 2013, Parliament called on the Commission to submit a legislative proposal by the end of 2013 establishing an effective and comprehensive European whistleblower protection programme in the public and private sectors, to protect those who detect inefficient management and irregularities and report cases of national and cross-border corruption relating to the EU’s financial interests; whereas, in addition, it called on the Member States to put in place appropriate and effective protection for whistleblowers;

Q.  whereas, the EU legislator has already provided for the protection of whistleblowers in sectorial instruments including Directive 2013/30/EU on safety of offshore oil and gas operations, Regulation (EU) No 596/2014 on market abuse, Directive (EU) 2015/849 on money laundering and terrorist financing and Regulation (EU) No 376/2014 on occurrence reporting;

R.  whereas the protection of whistleblowers in the Union has become even more urgent, as the Trade Secrets Directive limits the rights of whistleblowers and may thus have an unintended discouraging effect on those who want to report irregularities in the context of Union funding from which individual companies have benefitted;

S.  whereas important work has already been undertaken by international organisations such as the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the Council of Europe, who have developed recommendations in regard to the protection of whistleblowers;

T.  whereas according to the OECD more than one third of organisations with a reporting mechanism did not have, or did not know of, a written policy on protecting those who report from reprisals;

U.  whereas non-governmental organisations such as Transparency International, Whistleblowing International Network, etc., have similarly developed international principles for whistleblower legislation which should serve as a source of inspiration for EU initiatives in this regard;

V.  whereas the office of the European Ombudsman has a clear competence in relation to the investigation of complaints of EU citizens about maladministration in the EU institutions, but in itself plays no role in the protection of whistleblowers in the Member States;

W.  whereas the Staff Regulations of Officials of the European Union and Conditions of Employment of Other Servants of the European Union introduced in its most recent version, in force since 1 January 2014, several provisions on whistleblowing;

X.  whereas the protection of whistleblowers is essential for safeguarding the public good and the financial interests of the Union and for promoting a culture of public accountability and integrity in both public and private institutions;

Y.  whereas in many jurisdictions, and particularly in the private sector, employees are subject to duties of confidentiality with respect to certain information, which means that whistleblowers might encounter disciplinary actions for reporting outside their organisation;

1.  Deplores the fact that the Commission has so far failed to submit any legislative proposals aimed at establishing a minimum level of protection for European whistleblowers;

2.  Urges the Commission to immediately submit a legislative proposal establishing an effective and comprehensive European whistleblower protection programme which includes mechanisms for companies, public bodies and non-profit organisations and, in particular, calls on the Commission to submit a legislative proposal before the end of this year protecting whistleblowers as part of the necessary measures in the fields of the prevention of and fight against fraud affecting the financial interests of the Union, with a view to affording effective and equivalent protection in the Member States and in all the Union’s institutions, bodies, offices and agencies;

3.  Maintains that whistleblowers play an essential role in helping Member State and EU institutions and bodies prevent and tackle any breaches of the principle of integrity and misuse of power that threaten or violate public health and safety, financial integrity, the economy, human rights, the environment or the rule of law at European and national levels, or that raise unemployment, restrict or distort fair competition and undermine the trust of citizens in democratic institutions and processes; stresses that, in this regard, whistleblowers contribute greatly to increasing the democratic quality of, and the trust in, public institutions by making them directly accountable to citizens and more transparent;

4.  Notes that both the whistleblowers and the public body or institution involved should ensure the legal protection of rights guaranteed by the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and by national legal provisions;

5.  Recalls that the Member States, as first consignees of EU funds, have an obligation to scrutinise the legality of how they are spent;

6.  Notes that only a few Member States have introduced sufficiently advanced whistleblower protection systems; calls on those Member States which have not yet adopted the principles to protect whistleblowers in their domestic law, to do so as soon as possible;

7.  Calls on the Member States to enforce effective anti-corruption rules and, at the same time, to properly implement European and international standards and guidelines concerning the protection of whistleblowers in their national laws;

8.  Regrets that many Member States have yet to put in place dedicated whistleblower protection rules, notwithstanding the essential need of whistleblower protection in the prevention of, and fight against, corruption, and despite the fact that whistleblower protection is recommended in Article 33 of the UN Convention against Corruption;

9.  Emphasises that whistleblowing relating to the financial interests of the Union is the disclosure or reporting of wrongdoing, including, but not limited to, corruption, fraud, conflicts of interest, tax evasion and tax avoidance, money laundering, infiltration by organised crime and acts to cover up any of these;

10.  Considers it necessary to foster an ethical culture helping to ensure that whistleblowers will not suffer retaliation or face internal conflicts;

11.  Reiterates the fact that a whistleblower is required to inform about irregularities affecting the financial interests of the EU as well as the fact that whistleblowers should always cooperate by sharing information with the competent EU authorities;

12.  Reiterates the fact that whistleblowers often have better access to sensitive information than outsiders, and thus may be more likely to experience negative consequences in their professional career or risk their personal safety, which is protected under Article 6 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU;

13.  Stresses that the definition of whistleblowing includes the protection of those who disclose information with a reasonable belief that the information is true at the time it is disclosed, including those who make inaccurate disclosures in honest error;

14.  Stresses the role of investigative journalism and calls on the Commission to ensure that its proposal affords the same protection to investigative journalists as it does to whistleblowers;

15.  Expresses the need to establish an independent information-gathering, advisory and referral EU body, with offices in Member States which are in a position to receive reports of irregularities, with sufficient budgetary resources, adequate competences and appropriate specialists, in order to help internal and external whistleblowers in using the right channels to disclose their information on possible irregularities affecting the financial interests of the Union, while protecting their confidentiality and offering needed support and advice; in the first phase, its work would be primarily based on reliable verification of the information received;

16.  Calls for the EU institutions, in cooperation with all relevant national authorities, to introduce and take all necessary measures to protect the confidentiality of the information sources in order to prevent any discriminatory actions or threats;

17.  Welcomes the decision taken by the European Ombudsman in 2014 to launch an own-initiative investigation, addressing the EU institutions, into the protection of whistleblowers, and welcomes the extremely positive outcomes that has had; calls for the institutions and other bodies of the EU that have yet to do so to apply, without delay, the guidelines that were drawn up upon conclusion of the investigation;

18.  Calls for the EU institutions to raise awareness of the serious concerns of defenceless whistleblowers; urges the Commission therefore to provide a comprehensive action plan on this issue;

19.  Requests the establishment a special unit with a reporting line as well as dedicated facilities (e.g. hotlines, websites, contact points) within Parliament for receiving information from whistleblowers relating to the financial interests of the Union, which will also provide them with advice and help in protecting them against any possible retaliatory measures, until such time as an independent EU institution has been established as referred to in paragraph 4;

20.  Calls for a website to be launched where complaints can be submitted; stresses that the website should be accessible to the public and should keep their data anonymous;

21.  Calls for the Commission to provide a clear legal framework that guarantees that those exposing illegal or unethical activities are protected from retaliation or prosecution;

22.  Calls for the Commission to present concrete proposals for full protection of those who expose illegalities and irregularities, and to provide a comprehensive plan to discourage asset transfers to countries outside the EU that serve as protectors of anonymity to corrupt persons;

23.  Expresses the need to ensure that reporting mechanisms are accessible, safe and secure, and that whistleblowers’ claims are professionally investigated;

24.  Calls on the Commission, and on the European Public Prosecutor’s Office in so far as it is within its mandate upon its establishment, to establish efficient channels of communication between the parties concerned, to likewise set up procedures for receiving and protecting whistleblowers who provide information on irregularities relating to the financial interests of the Union, and to establish a single working protocol for whistleblowers;

25.  Calls on all EU institutions and bodies to take the necessary action to ensure recognition and consideration of, and respect for, whistleblowers in all cases that affect or have affected them and that have been acknowledged as such by the Court of Justice of the European Union, and points out that this should apply retroactively; calls on them, furthermore, to publicly and substantively report on the rulings concerned to the institution as a whole;

26.  Calls on the Commission and on the Member States to provide Parliament with any information received from whistleblowers affecting the financial interests of the Union and to include a chapter on their alerts and the follow-up to these in the annual activity reports; calls for action at EP level to establish the accuracy of information in order to take appropriate measures;

27.  Calls on the Commission to carry out a public consultation to seek the view of stakeholders on the reporting mechanisms and on the potential shortcomings of the procedures at national level; the results of the public consultation will represent a valuable input for the Commission when preparing its future proposal on whistleblowing;

28.  Invites the independent EU body, and until established, the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) to write and publish an annual report on the evaluation of the protection of whistleblowers in the European Union;

29.  Further invites the Court of Auditors to include in its annual reports a specific section on the role of whistleblowers in protecting the financial interests of the Union;

30.  Invites the EU agencies to provide a written policy on protecting those who report from reprisals;

31.  Welcomes the fact that Parliament, the Commission, the Council of the European Union, the Court of Justice of the European Union, the European Court of Auditors, the European External Action Service, the European Economic and Social Committee, the Committee of the Regions, the European Ombudsman, and the European Data Protection Supervisor implemented internal rules protecting whistleblowers, in accordance with Articles 22a, 22b and 22c of the Staff Regulations; urges all institutions to ensure their respective adopted internal rules on whistleblower protection are robust and comprehensive;

32.  Encourages the Member States to develop data, benchmarks and indicators on whistleblower policies in both the public and private sector;

33.  Recalls that Commission Implementing Directive (EU) 2015/2392 sets out the procedures for reporting, record-keeping requirements, and protection measures for whistleblowers; underlines the importance of guaranteeing that whistleblowers can report infringements in a confidential way and that their anonymity is properly and fully safeguarded, also in the digital environment, but regrets that this is one of the few pieces of sectorial legislation that includes provisions for whistleblowers;

34.  Encourages the Commission to study best practices from whistleblower programmes already in place in other countries around the world; draws attention to the fact that some existing schemes provide financial rewards to whistleblowers (such as a percentage of the sanctions ordered); considers that although this needs to be managed carefully to prevent potential abuse, such rewards could provide important income to persons who have lost their jobs as a result of whistleblowing;

35.  Calls on the Member States to refrain from criminalising the actions of whistleblowers in disclosing information about illegal activities or irregularities harmful to the EU’s financial interests;

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

(1) OJ C 208, 10.6.2016, p. 89.
(2) OJ L 157, 15.6.2016, p. 1.


List of third States and organisations with which Europol shall conclude agreements *
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European Parliament legislative resolution of 14 February 2017 on the draft Council implementing decision amending Decision 2009/935/JHA as regards the list of third States and organisations with which Europol shall conclude agreements (15778/2016 – C8-0007/2017 – 2016/0823(CNS))
P8_TA(2017)0023A8-0035/2017

(Consultation)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Council draft (15778/2016),

–  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 (C8-0007/2017),

–  having regard to Council Decision 2009/371/JHA of 6 April 2009 establishing the European Police Office (Europol)(1), and in particular Article 26(1)(a) thereof, pursuant to which the Council consulted Parliament (C8‑0007/2017),

–  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), as amended by Council Decision 2014/269/EU,

–  having regard to the Declaration by the President of the European Council, the President of the Commission and the Prime Minister of Denmark of 15 December 2016, which stressed the operational needs, but also the exceptional and transitional nature, of the foreseen arrangement between Europol and Denmark,

–  having regard to the aforementioned Declaration, which stressed that the foreseen arrangement is conditional on Denmark’s continued membership of the Union and of the Schengen area, Denmark’s obligation to fully implement in Danish law Directive (EU) 2016/680(4) on data protection in police matters by 1 May 2017 and Denmark’s agreement to the application of the jurisdiction of the Court of Justice of the European Union and the competence of the European Data Protection Supervisor,

–  having regard to Protocol No 22 to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

–  having regard to the outcome of the Danish referendum of 3 December 2015 in relation to Protocol No 22 to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

–  having regard to Rule 78c of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (A8-0035/2017),

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 Council to provide, within the provisions of the future arrangement between Europol and Denmark, for an expiry date of five years after the date of entry into force thereof, in order to ensure its transitional nature with a view to full membership or the conclusion of an international agreement in accordance with Article 218 TFEU;

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) Directive (EU) 2016/680 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 27 April 2016 on the protection of natural persons with regard to the processing of personal data by competent authorities for the purposes of the prevention, investigation, detection or prosecution of criminal offences or the execution of criminal penalties, and on the free movement of such data, and repealing Council Framework Decision 2008/977/JHA (OJ L 119, 4.5.2016, p. 89).


Subjecting the new psychoactive substance methyl 2-[[1-(cyclohexylmethyl)-1H-indole-3-carbonyl]amino]-3,3-dimethylbutanoate (MDMB-CHMICA) to control measures *
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European Parliament legislative resolution of 14 February 2017 on the draft Council implementing decision on subjecting methyl 2-[[1-(cyclohexylmethyl)-1H-indole-3-carbonyl]amino]-3,3-dimethylbutanoate (MDMB-CHMICA) to control measures (12356/2016 – C8-0405/2016 – 2016/0262(NLE))
P8_TA(2017)0024A8-0024/2017

(Consultation)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Council draft (12356/2016),

–  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 (C8‑0405/2016),

–  having regard to Council Decision 2005/387/JHA of 10 May 2005 on the information exchange, risk‑assessment and control of new psychoactive substances(1), and in particular Article 8(3) thereof,

–  having regard to Rule 78c of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (A8-0024/2017),

1.  Approves the Council draft;

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

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

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

(1)OJ L 127, 20.5.2005, p. 32.


Mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund: application EGF/2016/005 NL/Drenthe Overijssel Retail
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Resolution
Annex
European Parliament resolution of 14 February 2017 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 the Netherlands – EGF/2016/005 NL/Drenthe Overijssel Retail) (COM(2016)0742 – C8-0018/2017 – 2017/2014(BUD))
P8_TA(2017)0025A8-0036/2017

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Commission proposal to the European Parliament and the Council (COM(2016)0742 – C8‑0018/2017),

–  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 (A8-0036/2017),

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 the 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 the Netherlands submitted application EGF/2016/005 NL/Drenthe Overijssel Retail for a financial contribution from the EGF, following redundancies in the economic sector classified under the NACE Revision 2 Division 47 (Retail trade, except of motor vehicles and motorcycles) mainly in the NUTS level 2 regions of Drenthe (NL13) and Overijssel (NL21) and whereas 800 out of 1 096 redundant workers eligible for the EGF contribution are expected to participate in the measures;

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

F.  whereas there were significant changes in consumer sentiment, such as the decline in sales in the middle price category and the growing popularity of internet shopping; whereas the development of new shopping areas in many Dutch cities outside the city centres and the declining trust of consumers(4) in the economy also affected negatively the position of the conventional retail sector;

G.  whereas the Netherlands argues that the Dutch financial sector is, as a global player, bound by international rules, including rules for financial reserves, and that, as a consequence of having to meet the new international standards, the banks have lower resources than before for financing the economy;

H.  Whereas 1 096 redundancies were made in the retail sector between the 1 August 2015 and the 1 May 2016 in the regions of Drenthe and Overijssel, in the Netherlands;

I.  Whereas although retail and wholesale services provide 11 % of the Union's GDP and 15 % of total employment in the Union, that sector still suffers from the crisis;

1.  Agrees with the Commission that the conditions set out in point (b) of Article 4(1) of the EGF Regulation are met and that, therefore, the Netherlands are entitled to a financial contribution of EUR 1 818 750 under that Regulation, which represents 60 % of the total cost of EUR 3 031 250;

2.  Notes that the Netherlands submitted the application for a financial contribution from the EGF on 12 July 2016, and that the assessment of that application was finalised by the Commission on 29 November 2016 and notified to Parliament on 23 January 2017;

3.  Notes that the retail trade, except of motor vehicles and motorcycle sector, has been the subject of 6 other EGF applications, all based on the global financial and economic crisis(5);

4.  Notes that weak financial position of the bigger department stores made it impossible to invest in other shop models in order to achieve the necessary changes and to be competitive again;

5.  Points out that, in the Netherlands, the labour market is recovering slowly from the crisis and that the effects are still visible in certain sectors and, like the retail trade, some sectors have only more recently started to really suffer from the consequences of the financial and economic crisis;

6.  Notes many redundancies in the Dutch retail sector in the past few months with the main department stores of the sector suffering from bankruptcies, which triggered a total number of 27 052(6) redundancies in the period 2011-2015; notes with regret that the volume of goods sold in the retail sector followed this pattern moving from -2 % in 2011 to -4 % in 2013, with purchases still 2,7 % under the 2008 level(7);

7.  Emphasises that the retail sector accounts for a considerable share of employment (17-19 %) in the NUTS 2 level regions Drenthe and Overijssel; notes that 5 200 retail shops have gone bankrupt since the start of the crisis with the largest department stores being affected only recently; regrets that this has contributed to an increase of 3 461 in the number of recipients of unemployment benefit in the retail sector of those regions between January 2015 and March 2016(8);

8.  Regrets that younger workers are the most affected with 67,1 % of the targeted beneficiaries being below 30 years old;

9.  Stresses the long period spent by the targeted beneficiaries neither working nor in education or training, as well as the long period, of over one year, between the date when the last redundancy took place (1 May 2016) and the time when the applicant Member State will start receiving EGF support;

10.  Acknowledges the fact that the Netherlands has indicated that the application, particularly the coordinated package of personalised services, has been drawn up in consultation with stakeholders, social partners, representatives of the retail sector and of the regions concerned;

11.  Notes that the application does not include any allowances or incentives referred to in point (b) of Article 7(1) of the EGF Regulation; welcomes the decision to limit the costs of technical assistance to 4 % of the total costs, leaving 96 % to be used for the package of personalised services;

12.  Calls on the Commission to study new ways of reducing the delay in providing EGF support through reducing the bureaucracy of the applications procedure;

13.   Notes that the EGF co-funded personalised services for the redundant workers include assessments of participants’ capabilities, potentials and job perspectives; job search assistance and case management; a flexible “mobility pool” for job seekers and employers with temporary jobs; outplacement assistance; training and retraining including entrepreneurship promotion training, coaching and grants;

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 the Dutch authorities have provided assurances that the proposed actions will not receive financial support from other Union funds or financial instruments, that any double financing will be prevented, that they will be complementary with actions funded by the Structural Funds and that the requirements in national and Union legislation concerning collective redundancies will be complied with;

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.  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;

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

19.  Approves the decision annexed to this resolution;

20.  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;

21.  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 the Netherlands – EGF/2016/005 NL/Drenthe Overijssel Retail

(The text of this annex is not reproduced here since it corresponds to the final act, Decision (EU) 2017/559.)

(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) https://www.cbs.nl/nl-nl/nieuws/2016/11/consumentenvertrouwen-daalt-opnieuw
(5) EGF/2010/010 CZ/Unilever, COM(2011)0061; EGF/2010/016 ES/Aragón retail, COM(2010)0615; EGF/2011/004 EL/ALDI Hellas, COM(2011)0580; EGF/2014/009_EL/Sprider stores, COM(2014)0620; EGF/2014/013_EL/Odyssefs Fokas, COM(2014)0702; EGF/2015/011_GR/Supermarket Larissa, COM(2016)0210.
(6)http://www.consultancy.nl/nieuws/11992/de-25-grootste-faillissementen-van-retailketens-en-winkels
(7)Focus on consumption, Economic Agency ABN-AMRO Mathijs Deguelle and Nico Klene. Volume development retail sector. 24 January 2014. Retail sector prognoses, Economic Agency ABN-AMRO Sonny Duijn paragraph 1. 22 January 2016.
(8) Figures by UWV April 2016


Revision of the European Consensus on Development
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European Parliament resolution of 14 February 2017 on the revision of the European Consensus on Development (2016/2094(INI))
P8_TA(2017)0026A8-0020/2017

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the European Consensus on Development of December 2005(1),

–  having regard to the Busan Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation(2) and the EU Common Position for the second High-Level Meeting of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation (GPEDC) held in Nairobi (from 28 November to 1 December 2016)(3),

–  having regard to the outcome document of the Fourth High-Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness of December 2011, which launched the GPEDC,

–  having regard to the 2030 Agenda, entitled ‘Transforming our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development’, adopted at the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit of 25 September 2015 in New York(4),

–  having regard to the Addis Ababa Action Agenda on Financing for Development(5),

–  having regard to the Dili Declaration of 10 April 2010, on peace-building and state-building, and to the ‘New Deal for Engagement in Fragile States’ launched on 30 November 2011,

–  having regard to the Paris (COP21) Agreement under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change adopted on 12 December 2015(6),

–  having regard to the Commission communication entitled ‘Increasing the impact of EU Development Policy: an Agenda for Change’ (COM(2011)0637),

–  having regard to the World Humanitarian Summit of 23-24 May 2016 in Istanbul and its Commitments to Action(7),

–  having regard to the New Urban Agenda adopted at the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III) held from 17 to 20 October 2016 in Quito, Ecuador(8),

–  having regard to the OECD/UNDP 2014 progress report entitled ‘Making Development Cooperation More Effective’(9),

–  having regard to Article 208 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) on development cooperation, which states that ‘the Union’s development cooperation policy and that of the Member States complement and reinforce each other’, and which defines the reduction and eradication of poverty as the primary objective of EU development policy,

–  having regard to the October 2012 Council conclusions on the roots of democracy and sustainable development: Europe’s engagement with civil society in external relations,

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

–  having regard to the EU Council conclusions of 19 May 2014 on a rights-based approach to development cooperation, encompassing all human rights(11),

–  having regard to the Global Strategy for the European Union’s Foreign and Security Policy published in June 2016(12),

–  having regard to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), signed and ratified by the EU in 2011, and to the UN Concluding Observations on the implementation of the CRPD,

–  having regard to the Commission communication entitled ‘Trade for all: towards a more responsible trade and investment policy’ (COM(2015)0497),

–  having regard to the EU Gender Action Plan 2016-2020 and to the Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy (2015-2019),

–  having regard to its previous resolutions, in particular those of 17 November 2005 on the proposal for a Joint Declaration by the Council, the European Parliament and the Commission on the European Development Policy ‘The European Consensus’(13), of 5 July 2011 on increasing the impact of EU development policy(14), of 11 December 2013 on EU donor coordination on development aid(15), of 25 November 2014 on the EU and the global development framework after 2015(16), of 19 May 2015 on financing for development(17), of 8 July 2015 on tax avoidance and tax evasion as challenges for governance, social protection and development in developing countries(18), of 14 April 2016 on the private sector and development(19), of 12 May 2016 on the follow-up to and review of the 2030 Agenda(20), of 7 June 2016 on the EU 2015 Report on Policy Coherence for Development(21) and of 22 November 2016 on increasing the effectiveness of development cooperation(22),

–  having regard to the Joint Staff Working Document on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment: Transforming the Lives of Girls and Women through EU External Relations 2016-2020 (SWD(2015)0182) and to the Council conclusions of 26 October 2015 in which the corresponding Gender Action Plan 2016-2020 is endorsed,

–  having regard to the new framework for Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment: Transforming the Lives of Girls and Women through EU External Relations (2016-2020),

–  having regard to its resolution of 5 July 2016 on a new forward-looking and innovative future strategy for trade and investment(23),

–  having regard to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and its four fundamental principles of non-discrimination (Article 2), best interests of the child (Article 3), survival, development and protection (Article 6) and participation (Article 12),

–  having regard to the forthcoming report of its Committee on Foreign Affairs and of its Committee on Development on addressing refugee and migrant movements: the role of EU external action (2015/2342(INI)) and to its resolution of 22 November 2016 on increasing the effectiveness of development cooperation(24),

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Development (A8-0020/2017),

A.  whereas a revision of the European Consensus on Development is timely and necessary considering the changed external framework, including the adoption of the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Paris COP21 Agreement on climate change, the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda on financing for development and the Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation, new or increasing global challenges such as climate change, the context of migration, more diversified developing countries with diverse and specific development needs, emerging donors and new global actors, shrinking space for civil society organisations, and internal EU changes, including those arising from the Treaty of Lisbon, the Agenda for Change and the EU Global Strategy on Foreign and Security Policy;

B.  whereas the universal 2030 Agenda and inter-related SDGs sets out to achieve sustainable development within the planetary boundaries, building partnerships that put people at the centre, providing them with vital resources such as food, water and sanitation, health care, energy, education and employment opportunities, and promoting peace, justice and prosperity for all; whereas actions must be taken in line with the principles of country ownership, inclusive development partnerships, focus on results, transparency and accountability; whereas a rights-based approach is a prerequisite for sustainable development in accordance with UN resolution 41/128, in which the right to development is defined as an inalienable human right;

C.  whereas Article 208 TFEU states that ‘the Union’s development cooperation policy and that of the Member States complement and reinforce each other’;

D.  whereas climate change is a phenomenon that must be treated urgently, as it hits the poor and most vulnerable countries to a greater extent;

E.  whereas three quarters of the world’s poor live in Middle Income Countries (MICs); whereas MICs are not a homogenous group but have very varied needs and challenges, and EU development cooperation must therefore be sufficiently differentiated;

F.  whereas the Treaty-based policy coherence for development approach requires the EU to take development cooperation objectives into account when acting in other policy areas likely to affect developing countries; whereas closely linked policy areas such as trade, security, migration, humanitarian assistance and development need therefore to be formulated and implemented so as to be mutually reinforcing;

G.  whereas migration has become an ever-more pressing issue, with over 65 million forcibly displaced people worldwide; whereas the vast majority of refugees live in developing countries; whereas state fragility, instability and wars, violation of human rights, deep poverty and lack of prospects are among the major causes for people to leave their homes; whereas millions of people have migrated or fled to the EU in recent years;

H.  whereas some recent proposals by the Commission can be seen as refocusing development policy under the new prism of migration management, in order to meet EU priorities that are often short-term; whereas there should be no conditionality between development assistance and cooperation from beneficiary countries on migration issues; whereas funds such as the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa and the EU External Investment Plan have been set up with the aim of responding to the recent migratory crises in the EU; whereas EU development cooperation policy must have as its primary objective the reduction and, in the long term, the eradication of poverty and be based on development effectiveness principles;

I.  whereas health and education are key sustainable development enablers; whereas investment to guarantee universal access in these areas therefore features prominently in the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs and should be adequately resourced in order to have spill-over effects for other sectors;

J.  whereas SMEs and microenterprises are the backbone of economies worldwide, are a fundamental part of the economy of developing countries and, along with well-functioning public sectors, are a key factor in furthering economic, social and cultural growth; whereas SMEs often face restricted access to capital, particularly in developing countries;

K.  whereas over half of the global population is urban today, and whereas this proportion is predicted to reach two-thirds by 2050, with some 90 % of urban growth taking place in Africa and Asia; whereas this trend reinforces the need for sustainable urban development; whereas urban security is becoming an increasing challenge in many developing countries;

L.  whereas oceans play a vital role for biodiversity, food security, energy, jobs and growth, but whereas marine resources are under threat from climate change and from overexploitation and unsustainable management;

M.  whereas deforestation and forest degradation are depleting ecosystems and are important contributors to climate change;

N.  whereas EU development policy is an important complement to Member State development policy which should focus on areas of comparative advantage and on ways in which the global role of the EU as an organisation can further the objectives of its development policy;

O.  whereas development policy is a crucial aspect of the EU’s external policy; whereas the Union is the largest development donor in the world and, together with its Member States, it provides more than half of official development assistance globally;

P.  whereas inequalities in wealth and income are growing worldwide; whereas this trend risks undermining social cohesion and increasing discrimination, political instability and unrest; whereas mobilisation of domestic resources is therefore key to implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and represents a viable strategy to overcome foreign aid dependency in the long run;

1.  Stresses the importance of the European Consensus on Development in providing a joint and coherent position at both EU and Member State level on the objectives, values, principles and main aspects of development policy, including in its implementation; believes that the Consensus acquis, and in particular its holistic approach and the clear primary objective of fighting, and in the long term eradicating, poverty, must be safeguarded in its revision; believes, furthermore, that tackling inequalities, as recognised in the SDGs, must also be a target; recalls that Member State- and EU-level development policies should reinforce and complement each other;

2.  Warns against the widening of official development assistance (ODA) criteria with the aim of covering expenses other than those directly linked to the previously mentioned objectives; stresses that any reform of ODA must be aimed at increasing development impact;

3.  Recognises the importance of a clear European external strategy, which requires policy coherence, notably on peace and security, migration, trade, the environment and climate change, humanitarian assistance and development cooperation; reiterates, however, that development objectives are goals in their own right; recalls the Treaty-based obligation enshrined in Article 208 TFEU to ‘take account of the objectives of development cooperation in the policies that it implements which are likely to affect developing countries’; strongly underlines that Parliament can accept only a strong concept of development policy anchored in the TFEU obligations with a primary focus on the fight against poverty; recalls the principles of EU external action under Article 21(1)of the Treaty on European Union, namely 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;

4.  In accordance with the Lisbon Treaty, describes development cooperation as follows: fighting for DIGNITY by eradicating POVERTY;

EU development objectives, values and principles

5.  Calls for the SDGs, the 2030 Agenda and the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development to cut across all internal as well as external EU policies and to be put at the heart of the Consensus, recognising the important inter-linkages between its goals and targets; calls for the fight against, and in the long term eradication of, poverty to remain the overarching and primary goal of EU development policy, with a particular focus on the most marginalised groups and aiming at leaving no-one behind; stresses the importance of defining poverty in line with the definition of the Consensus and the Agenda for Change and within the framework of the Lisbon Treaty;

6.  Stresses the universal and transformative nature of the 2030 Agenda; underlines therefore that developed and developing countries have a shared responsibility for achieving the SDGs, and that the EU SDG strategy must consist of a coherent set of both internal and external policies and commitments with a full set of development policy tools;

7.  Insists that development policy must reflect more consistently the Union’s focus on fragile states, youth unemployment, women and girls facing gender-based violence and harmful practices and those in conflict situations, and recalls the EU’s commitment to allocate at least 20 % of its ODA to social inclusion and human development;

8.  Stresses that education is key to developing self-sustainable societies; calls for the EU to link quality education, technical and vocational training and cooperation with industry as an essential pre-condition for youth employability and access to qualified jobs; believes that addressing in particular the issue of access to education in emergency and crisis situations is crucial for both the development and protection of children;

9.  Stresses that systemic factors, including gender inequality, policy barriers and power imbalances, have an impact on health and that ensuring equitable access to quality healthcare services provided by skilled, qualified and competent healthcare staff is critical; underlines that the new Consensus should therefore promote investment in and the empowerment of frontline healthcare workers, who play a critical role in ensuring coverage of healthcare services in remote, poor, underserved and conflict areas; stresses that promoting research in and development of new health technologies to address new health threats such as epidemics and antimicrobial resistance is crucial to the attainment of the SDGs;

10.  Calls for a continued strong EU commitment to and promotion of rules-based global governance, and notably the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development;

11.  Stresses that combating inequalities in and between countries, discrimination, in particular on the basis of gender, injustice and strife, promoting peace, participatory democracy, good governance, rule of law and human rights, inclusive societies and sustainable growth and addressing climate change adaptation and mitigation challenges must be objectives cutting across EU development policy; calls for the 2030 Agenda to be implemented as a whole and in a coordinated and coherent manner with the Paris agreement on climate change, including as regards the need to urgently bridge the gap between what is needed to limit global warming and to increase work on and funding for adaptation; recalls the EU commitment to allocate 20 % of its 2014-2020 budget (some EUR 180 billion) to efforts to combat climate change, including through its external and development cooperation policies;

12.  Stresses that development cooperation can arise from inclusion, trust and innovation founded on respect by all partners for the use of national strategies and country results frameworks;

13.  Recognises the special role of the good governance dimension of sustainable development; calls for the EU to strengthen the balance between economic, social and environmental domains by supporting comprehensive national sustainable development strategies and supporting the right mechanisms and processes of good governance, with a key focus on the participation of civil society; stresses the importance of administrative and fiscal decentralisation reforms as a means to promote good governance at local level in line with the principle of subsidiarity;

14.  Calls for EU development cooperation to encourage partner countries to ‘glocalise’ the SDGs, in consultation with national and local civil society, in order to translate them into contextually relevant national and subnational goals rooted in national development strategies, programmes and budgets; calls for the EU and its Member States to encourage their partner countries to include the voices of marginalised communities in monitoring the SDGs and to promote concrete mechanisms to enable this, in line with the ‘leave no-one behind’ agenda;

15.  Calls for EU development policy to continue to prioritise support to least developed and low-income countries (LDCs and LICs) as well as small island developing states (SIDS) while addressing the diverse and specific needs of middle-income countries (MICs), in which the majority of the world’s poor live, in line with the Addis Ababa Action Agenda and with full respect for the principle of differentiation; calls for the mainstreaming of a territorial approach to development in order to empower local and regional governments and better address inequalities within countries;

16.  Stresses the importance of the principle of democratic ownership, giving developing countries the primary responsibility for their own development but also allowing national parliaments and political parties, regional and local authorities, civil society and other stakeholders to fully play their respective roles alongside national governments and to actively participate in the decision-making process; underlines in this context the importance of improving upward and downward accountability with the aim of better responding to local needs and fostering citizens’ democratic ownership;

17.  Calls for the EU to continue and strengthen its support to local and regional capacity-building and to decentralisation processes in order to empower local and regional governments and to make them more transparent and accountable so that they can better meet the needs and demands of their citizens;

18.  Calls, in accordance with the principle of partnership, for shared accountability for all joint actions, promoting the highest possible level of transparency; calls for the EU and its Member States to promote a strengthened role for national parliaments, local and regional governments and civil society in political and budgetary oversight and democratic scrutiny; calls for corruption and impunity to be jointly fought by all means and at all policy levels;

19.  Calls for political dialogue between the EU and partner countries/regions to be a central strand of any EU development cooperation, and for such dialogues to focus on common values and how to promote them; calls for further parliamentary and civil society involvement in political dialogues;

20.  Underlines the importance of plural and inclusive democracy, and calls for the EU to promote a level playing field for political parties and a dynamic civil society in all its actions, including through capacity-building and through dialogue with partner countries to allow sufficient civil society space with citizen-driven, participatory monitoring and accountability mechanisms at sub-national, national and regional level and to ensure engagement of civil society organisations (CSOs) in the design, implementation, monitoring, review and accountability of development policies; calls for the EU to recognise that civil society consultation is a crucial factor for success in all programming sectors, in order to achieve inclusive governance;

21.  Recognises the role of civil society in raising awareness among the public and in addressing the SDGs at national and global level through global citizenship education and awareness raising;

22.  Calls for the promotion of equality between women and men and women’s and girls’ empowerment and rights to be both a stand-alone and cross-cutting goal in EU development policy in accordance with the EU Gender Action Plan and 2030 Agenda, as stated in the Council conclusions of 26 May 2015 on the equal rights of women and men in the framework of development; calls for specific policy-driven action to target challenges in this area; calls for further EU efforts to promote the important role of women and young people as agents of development and change; underlines, in this regard, that gender equality comprises girls and boys and women and men of all ages and that programmes should encourage equal co-participation and the promotion of rights and services, notably in the case of access to education and to reproductive and health care, without discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation;

23.  Draws attention to the need to promote, protect and safeguard all human rights; stresses that upholding the rights of women and girls, as well as sexual and reproductive health and rights, and eliminating all forms of sexual and gender-based violence and discrimination, including harmful practices against children, early and forced marriage and female genital mutilation, are essential to realising human rights; stresses the need to guarantee universal access to affordable, comprehensive, high-quality information and education on sexual and reproductive health and family planning services; calls for further actions in order to accelerate efforts to achieve gender equality and empowerment of women by deepening multi-stakeholder partnerships, strengthening capacity for gender-responsive budgeting and planning and ensuring the participation of women’s organisations;

24.  Calls for specific EU development strategies to better target, protect and support vulnerable and marginalised groups such as women and children, LGTBI people, elderly people, persons with disabilities, small producers, cooperatives, linguistic and ethnic minorities and indigenous peoples, in order to offer them the same opportunities and rights as everyone else, in line with the principle of leaving no-one behind;

25.  Reiterates the EU’s commitment to investing in the development of children and young people by improving reporting on child-focused development cooperation and domestic resources, and to strengthening capacity for young people to participate in accountability exercises;

26.  Calls for support for fragile and conflict-affected countries to access the resources and partnerships needed for achieving development priorities, and for the promotion of peer learning between them and enhanced engagement between development, peace building, security and humanitarian partners and efforts;

27.  Underlines the ongoing importance of the objectives set out in the human development chapter of the current European Consensus; stresses the need to connect these objectives to the SDGs and to put horizontal health system strengthening (other than support for vertical programmes for specific diseases) at the core of health development programming, which will also strengthen resilience in the case of health crises such as the Ebola outbreak in West Africa of 2013-2014, and to ensure the fundamental right to universal health care, as provided for by Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and by the Constitution of the World Health Organisation (WHO); recalls that Article 168 TFEU states that a high level of human health protection must be ensured in the definition and implementation of all Union policies and activities; calls in this regard for a more coherent innovation and development of medicines policy that guarantees access to medicines for all;

28.  Suggests, in the light of demographic growth, most notably in Africa and in LDCs, taking account of the fact that of the 21 countries with the highest fertility rates 19 are in Africa, that Nigeria is the country with the world’s fastest-growing population, and that by 2050 more than half of global population growth is expected to be in Africa and this is a problem for sustainable development, that EU development cooperation should put more emphasis on programmes that address this topic;

29.  Welcomes the fact that food and nutrition security has emerged as a priority area for the new global development framework, and welcomes the inclusion of a stand-alone goal to end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture; recognises that hunger and poverty are not accidents, but the result of social and economic injustice and inequality at all levels; reiterates that the Consensus should stress the EU’s continued support to integrated, cross-sectoral approaches that strengthen the capacity for diversified local food production and include nutrition-specific and nutrition-sensitive interventions which explicitly target gender inequality;

30.  Insists on the need for accountability mechanisms regarding the monitoring and the implementation of the SDGs and the 0,7 % ODA/GNI objectives; calls for the EU and its Member States to submit a timeline on how to gradually achieve these goals and objectives, with annual reporting to the European Parliament;

31.  Underlines the need for multi-sectoral, integrated approaches to build resilience effectively, which implies working towards a better integration of humanitarian, disaster risk reduction, social protection, climate change adaptation, natural resource management, conflict mitigation and other development actions; calls for the EU and the Member States to promote inclusive governance that addresses marginalisation and inequality drivers of vulnerability; recognises that vulnerable populations must be empowered to manage risk and to access decision-making processes that impact their future;

32.  Emphasises the role culture plays in sustainable human, social and economic development, and insists that account be taken of the cultural dimension as a fundamental aspect of solidarity, cooperation and EU development aid policies; calls for the promotion of cultural diversity and support for cultural policies and for local circumstances to be taken into account where this can help to achieve the objective of promoting sustainable development;

33.  Points out that the urban population is predicted to increase by 2,5 billion by 2050, with close to 90 % of the increase concentrated in Asia and Africa; recognises the problems arising from the explosive growth of megacities and the challenges this phenomenon poses to societal and environmental sustainability; calls for balanced regional development and recalls that invigorated economic activity in rural areas and smaller towns and cities decreases pressure to migrate to urban megacenters, thus alleviating the problems of uncontrolled urbanisation and migration;

Differentiation

34.  Underlines that, for an EU development strategy to be effective, the EU must promote a fair redistribution by developing countries of wealth through national budgets, i.e. within as well as between countries; highlights that European development aid should first and foremost differentiate between individual countries’ situations and development needs, and not on the basis of microeconomic indicators solely or political considerations;

35.  Stresses that EU development cooperation should be implemented to address the most important needs and to seek the greatest possible impact in both the short and long term; stresses the need for tailor-made development strategies, locally owned and designed, to take account of specific challenges faced by individual countries or by groups of countries such as SIDS, fragile states and land-locked developing countries (LLDCs);

36.  Calls for specific strategies to be developed for cooperation with MICs in order to consolidate their progress and fight inequality, exclusion, discrimination and poverty, especially through the promotion of fair and progressive tax systems, while underlining that MICs are not a homogenous group and that each therefore has specific needs that should be met by tailor-made policies; underlines the need to phase out responsibly and gradually financial aid to MICs and to focus on other forms of cooperation, such as technical assistance, sharing industrial know-how and knowledge, public-public partnerships that can support global public goods such as science, technology and innovation, exchange of best practices and promotion of regional, South-South and triangular cooperation; highlights the importance of alternative sources of finance, such as domestic revenue mobilisation, non-concessional or less concessional loans, cooperation in technical, taxation, trade-related and research-related matters, and public-private partnerships;

Development effectiveness and financing

Development effectiveness

37.  Calls for the EU and its Member States to lead the way among development actors and to recommit to the full implementation of the principles of effective development cooperation, prioritising mechanisms, tools and instruments that allow more resources to reach final beneficiaries, namely country ownership of development priorities, alignment with partner countries’ national development strategies and systems, a focus on results, transparency, shared accountability and democratic inclusiveness of all stakeholders; stresses the importance of reinforcing the EU’s efforts to make development cooperation as effective as possible, with a view to contributing to achieving the ambitious goals and targets set out in the 2030 Agenda and making the best use of public and private resources for development; calls for a clear reference to be made to the development effectiveness principles in the new EU Consensus on Development;

38.  Reiterates the importance of increasing the understanding and active engagement of the European public in major development debates and attempts to eradicate global poverty and promote sustainable development; stresses, to this end, that non-formal development education and awareness raising, including through continuation and expansion of the Development Education and Awareness Raising (DEAR) programme, must remain integral parts of the EU and Member States’ development policies;

39.  Believes that simplifying funding and bureaucratic procedures can help in improving effectiveness; calls for an EU reform to speed up implementation (as already addressed in paragraph 122 of the 2005 European Consensus on Development), which addresses the need to revise the selection procedures by focusing more on the applicant: identity, expertise, experiences, performance and reliability in the field (not only on formal requirements of eligibility);

40.  Reiterates the importance of capacity building to improve the capability of citizens, organisations, governments and societies to play their respective roles fully in designing, implementing, monitoring and evaluating sustainable development strategies;

41.  Welcomes the progress made, but calls for further efforts by the EU and its Member States to step up and broaden the scope of joint programming and joint implementation efforts in order to pool resources, improve the in-country division of labour, reduce transaction costs, avoid overlaps and aid fragmentation, raise the EU’s profile at local level and promote country ownership of development strategies and alignment with partner countries’ priorities; stresses how important it is for the joint programming process to be carried out by European stakeholders and opened up to other donors only where the local situation so warrants, but without diluting European ownership of the process; calls for the EU and its Member States to further coordinate their actions with other donors and organisations such as emerging donors, civil society organisations, private philanthropists, financial institutions and private-sector companies; notes with concern that as of mid-2015 only five EU Member States had published Busan implementation plans; urges Member States to publish their implementation plans and report on their efforts on development effectiveness annually;

42.  Recalls its request(25) for the codification and strengthening of the mechanisms and practices for ensuring better complementarity and effective coordination of development aid among EU Member States and institutions, providing clear and enforceable rules for ensuring democratic domestic ownership, harmonisation, alignment with country strategies and systems, predictability of funds, transparency and mutual accountability;

43.  Underlines that development effectiveness should be one of the main drivers of the new EU development policy; recalls that this depends not only on aid donors but also on the existence of effective and responsive institutions, sound policies, the rule of law, inclusive democratic governance and safeguards against corruption within developing countries and illicit financial flows at international level;

44.  Recognises the role of local and regional governments in development, and particularly decentralised cooperation between European and partner-country local and regional governments as an effective means for mutual capacity strengthening, and implementation of the SDGs at the local level;

Financing for development

45.  Reiterates that ODA should remain the backbone of EU development policy; recalls the EU’s commitment to achieving the ODA target of 0,7 % of GNI by 2030; stresses the importance of other countries, developed and emerging, also scaling up their ODA provision; underlines the important role of ODA as a catalyst for change and a lever for the mobilisation of other resources; recalls the EU’s commitment to mobilising resources for climate action in developing countries, to delivering its share towards achieving the developed countries’ goal of mobilising USD 100 billion/year and to maintaining a doubling of biodiversity funding to developing countries;

46.  Calls for objective and transparent criteria for resource allocation of development assistance at Member State as well as EU level; calls for those criteria to be based on needs, on impact assessments and on political, social and economic performance, with a view to the most effective use of funds; stresses, however, that such allocation should never be made conditional on performance in areas not directly linked to development objectives; stresses that good performance towards mutually agreed goals should be encouraged and rewarded; highlights the importance of disaggregated data at territorial level to better assess the impact of ODA;

47.  Recognises that general budget support promotes national ownership, alignment with partner countries’ national development strategies, a focus on results, transparency and mutual accountability, but underlines that it should only be considered when and where the conditions are right and effective control systems are in place; points out that budget support is the best means of fostering genuine political dialogue leading to greater empowerment and ownership;

48.  Believes that addressing the SDGs will require financing and action for development going beyond ODA and public policies; stresses the need for domestic as well as international and for private as well as public financing, and for policies linking public and private pro-development action and inducing an environment promoting growth and its equitable distribution through national budgets;

49.  Recalls that developing countries face major constraints in raising tax revenue and are particularly affected by corporate tax evasion and illicit financial flows; calls for the EU and its Member States to strengthen policy coherence for development (PCD) in this field, to investigate the spill-over impact on developing countries of their own tax arrangements and laws and to advocate a better representation of developing countries in international fora set up to reform global tax policies;

50.  Calls for the EU and its Member States to support low- and middle-income countries in creating fair, progressive, transparent and efficient tax systems, as well as other means of domestic resource mobilisation, in order to increase the predictability and stability of such financing and reduce aid dependency; calls for such support in areas such as tax administration and public financial management, fair redistribution systems, anti-corruption, and fighting transfer mispricing, tax evasion and other forms of illicit financial flow; stresses the importance of fiscal decentralisation and the need for capacity building to support subnational governments in the design of local tax systems and tax collection;

51.  Calls on the EU and its Member States to establish compulsory country-by-country reporting on multinational companies, together with the compulsory publication of comprehensive and comparable data on companies’ activities so as to ensure transparency and accountability; calls for the EU and its Member States to consider the spill-over effect on developing countries of their own tax policies, arrangements and laws, and to undertake the reforms needed to ensure that European companies making profits in developing countries pay their fair share of tax in those countries;

52.  Underlines the need for blending and public-private partnerships in order to leverage financing beyond ODA and to effectively follow development effectiveness principles, but also underlines the need for these to be based on transparent criteria, to clearly demonstrate their additionality and positive development impact, not to erode universal access to quality essential public services and for all payments to be transparent; underlines that financed projects must respect national development objectives, internationally agreed human rights and social and environmental standards in a binding manner, the needs and rights of local populations, and the principles of development effectiveness; recognises in this regard that traditional land use, for example by smallholders and pastoralists, is usually not documented but needs to be respected and protected; reiterates that enterprises involved in development partnerships should respect the principles of corporate social responsibility (CSR), the UN Guiding Principles and OECD Guidelines throughout their operations, and promote ethical business practices; notes that development policies and programmes yield a double dividend when development effectiveness is fulfilled; calls all development actors to fully align all their actions with these principles;

53.  Calls for the EU to promote investments that generate decent employment in line with International Labour Organisation standards and the 2030 Agenda; underlines in this regard the value of social dialogue and the need for transparency and accountability of the private sector in the case of public–private partnerships and when development money is used for blending;

54.  Stresses that development funds used for the proposed External Investment Plan (EIP), as well as for existing trust funds, must comply with ODA-compatible development objectives and the new SDGs; calls for mechanisms to be established allowing Parliament to fulfil its oversight role when EU development funds are being used outside the normal EU budget procedures, notably by granting it observer status on EIP, trust-fund and other strategic boards that decide on the priorities and scope of programmes and projects;

55.  Recognises the role of local micro, small and medium-sized enterprises, cooperatives, inclusive business models and research institutes as engines of growth, employment and local innovation, which will contribute to the achievement of the SDGs; calls for the promotion of an enabling environment for investment, industrialisation, business activity, science, technology and innovation in order to stimulate and accelerate domestic economic and human development, as well as of training programmes and regular public-private dialogues; acknowledges the EIB’s role under the EU EIP and stresses that its initiatives should focus particularly on young people and women, and should – in alignment with development effectiveness principles – contribute to investment in socially important sectors such as water, health and education, as well as in supporting entrepreneurship and the local private sector; asks the EIB to devote more resources to microfinances with a strong gender perspective; calls on the EIB, moreover, to work alongside the African Development Bank (AfDB) to finance long-term investments to be the benefit of sustainable development and on other development banks to propose a microcredit facility to subsidise sustainable loans to family farms;

56.  Considers it indispensable that the new Consensus make reference to a strong EU commitment to putting in place a legally binding international framework to hold companies accountable for their malpractice in the countries where they operate, since they impact all areas of society – from profiting from child labour to the absence of a living wage, from oil spills to mass deforestation, and from harassment of human rights defenders to land grabbing;

57.  Calls for the European Union and its Member States to promote binding measures to ensure that multinational corporations pay taxes in the countries in which value is extracted or created and to promote compulsory country-by-country reporting by the private sector, thus enhancing the domestic resource mobilisation capacities of countries; calls for spill-over analysis to study possible profit shifting practices;

58.  Call for a human-needs-based approach to debt sustainability through a binding set of standards to define responsible lending and borrowing, debt audits and a fair debt workout mechanism, which should assess the legitimacy and sustainability of countries’ debt burdens;

Policy coherence for development

59.  Calls for an EU-wide debate on PCD in order to clarify the link between PCD and policy coherence for sustainable development (PCSD); underlines the key importance of applying PCD principles in all EU policies; stresses that PCD should be a major element of the EU’s strategy to achieve the SDGs; reiterates the need for further efforts by EU institutions and Member States to take account of development cooperation objectives in all internal and external policies likely to affect developing countries, to find effective mechanisms and to use existing best practices at Member State level to implement and evaluate PCD, to ensure that PCD is implemented with a gender sensitive approach and to involve all stakeholders, including civil society organisations and local and regional authorities, in this process;

60.  Proposes that an arbitration system should be established, under the authority of the President of the Commission, to bring about PCD and that in the event of divergences between the various policies of the Union, the President of the Commission should fully shoulder his political responsibility for the overall approach and have the task of deciding between them on the basis of the Union’s PCD commitments; takes the view that, once the problems have been identified, consideration could be given to reforming the decision-making procedures within the Commission and in interdepartmental cooperation;

61.  Calls for a reinforced dialogue between the EU and developing countries regarding the promotion and implementation of PCD by the EU; believes that the feedback from EU partners on the progress of PCD can play a key role in obtaining an accurate evaluation of its impact;

62.  Reiterates its call for the development of governance processes to promote PCD at the global level and for the EU to take the lead in promoting the PCD concept on the international stage;

Trade and development

63.  Underlines the importance of fair and properly regulated trade in promoting regional integration, contributing to sustainable growth and combating poverty; stresses that EU trade policy must be part of the sustainable development agenda and reflect EU development policy objectives;

64.  Underlines that unilateral trade preferences to the benefit of developing countries which are not least developed countries still exist in order to favour development; also considers that the new Consensus should contain a reference to the EU commitment to promoting fair and ethical trade schemes with small producers in developing countries;

65.  Welcomes the recognition of the strong contribution of fair trade to the implementation of the UN 2030 Agenda; calls for the EU to implement and further develop its commitment to supporting the uptake of fair trade schemes in the EU and partner countries in order to promote sustainable consumption and production patterns through its trade policies;

66.  Stresses the need for further EU support to developing countries for trade capacity building, infrastructure and domestic private sector development, in order to allow them to add value to and diversify production and to increase their trade;

67.  Reiterates that a healthy environment, including a stable climate, is indispensable to poverty eradication; supports EU efforts to increase transparency and accountability in natural resource management and in the extraction of and trade in natural resources, to promote sustainable consumption and production and to prevent illegal trade in sectors such as minerals, timber and wildlife; strongly believes that further global efforts are needed in order to develop regulatory frameworks for supply chains and greater private sector accountability so as to ensure sustainable management of and trade in natural resources and to allow resource-rich countries and their populations protecting the rights of local and indigenous communities to further benefit from such trade and from the sustainable management of biodiversity and ecosystems; welcomes the progress made since the establishment of the Bangladesh Sustainability Compact, and calls on the Commission to expand such frameworks to other sectors; urges the Commission, in this regard, to enhance corporate social responsibility and due diligence initiatives that complement the existing EU timber regulation, on the proposed EU regulation on conflict minerals, for other sectors;

68.  Considers it regrettable that a regulatory framework on the way corporations comply with human rights and obligations with respect to social and environmental standards is still lacking, which allows certain states and companies to circumvent them with impunity; calls for the EU and its Member States to engage actively in the work of the UN Human Rights Council and of the UN Environment Programme on an international treaty to hold transnational corporations accountable for human rights abuses and violations of environmental standards;

69.  Reaffirms the importance of coordinated, accelerated actions to address malnutrition in order to fulfil the 2030 Agenda and achieve SDG 2 on ending hunger;

70.  Recalls the crucial role forests play in climate change mitigation, biodiversity conservation and poverty alleviation, and calls for the EU to contribute to halting and reversing deforestation and forest degradation, and to promote sustainable forest management in developing countries;

Security and development

71.  Reiterates the direct link between security and development, but underlines the need to strictly follow the recent ODA reform on the use of development instruments for security policy by applying a clear objective of poverty eradication and promotion of sustainable development; stresses that the objective of peaceful and inclusive societies with access to justice for all should translate into EU external action which, by supporting all local stakeholders who can help bring this about, builds resilience, promotes human security, strengthens the rule of law, restores confidence and tackles the complex challenges of insecurity, fragility and democratic transition;

72.  Believes that synergies between the common security and defence policy (CSDP) and development instruments need to be fostered in order to find the right balance between conflict prevention, conflict resolution and post-conflict rehabilitation and development; stresses that external policy programmes and measures to this end must be comprehensive, tailor-made to the country situation and, when financed through means intended for development policy, help to achieve core development objectives as defined under ODA; underlines that the core tasks of development cooperation remain to support countries in their endeavour to create stable and peaceful states that respect good governance, the rule of law and human rights, and to seek to establish sustainable functioning market economies with the purpose of bringing prosperity to the people and fulfilment of all human basic needs; stresses the need to increase the very limited CSDP financing in this context in order to allow its wider use, inter alia, to the benefit of development in line with PCD;

Migration and development

73.  Stresses the central role of development cooperation in addressing the root causes of forced migration and displacement, such as state fragility, conflicts, insecurity and marginalisation, poverty, inequality and discrimination, human rights violations, poor access to basic services such as health and education, and climate change; identifies the following goals and objectives as preconditions for stable, resilient states that will be less prone to situations that may eventually result in forced migration: promoting human rights and peoples’ dignity, democracy-building, good governance and the rule of law, social inclusion and cohesion, economic opportunities with decent employment and through people-centred businesses and policy space for civil society; calls for development cooperation to focus on these goals and objectives in order to foster resilience, and calls for migration-linked development assistance in emergencies in order to stabilise the situation, to maintain the functioning of states and to enable the displaced to live in dignity;

74.  Recalls, as stressed by the UN 2030 Agenda, the positive contribution of migrants to sustainable development, including remittances, of which the transfer costs should be further brought down; underlines that responding to migration-related challenges and crises together in a meaningful way requires a more coordinated, systematic and structured approach, matching interests of countries of origin and destination; stresses that an effective way of helping large numbers of refugees and asylum seekers is by improving conditions and offering both humanitarian and development assistance; at the same time opposes any attempts to link aid with border control, management of migratory flows or readmission agreements;

75.  Underlines that countries of origin and transit for migrants need tailor-made solutions for development that fit their respective political and socio-economic situations; stresses the need for such cooperation to promote human rights and dignity for all, good governance, peace and democracy-building and that it should be based on common interests and shared values and respect for international law;

76.  Underlines the need for close parliamentary scrutiny and monitoring of agreements linked to migration management and of migration-linked use of development funds; stresses the importance of close cooperation and the establishment of a good practice of information exchange between institutions, notably in the field of migration and security; recalls its concerns about the increasing use of trust funds, such as limited transparency, lack of consultation and regional ownership;

77.  Points out, given the recent European policy measures to fight the root causes of forced migration, that European development policy must fall within the OECD-DAC definition and must be based on development needs and human rights; stresses further that development aid must not be made conditional on cooperation in migration matters such as border management or readmission agreements;

Humanitarian assistance

78.  Stresses the need for closer links between humanitarian assistance and development cooperation in order to address financing gaps, avoid overlaps and the creation of parallel systems, and to create conditions for sustainable development with built-in resilience and tools for improved crisis prevention and preparedness; calls for the EU to fulfil its commitment to devote by 2020 at least 25 % of its humanitarian aid to local and national actors as directly as possible, as agreed in the Grand Bargain;

79.  Recalls the fundamental principles of humanitarian aid: humanity, neutrality, independence and impartiality; welcomes the Commission’s tenacity in not merging the European Consensus on Development and the European Consensus on Humanitarian Aid;

80.  Stresses the need to strengthen international assistance, coordination and resources for emergency response, recovery and reconstruction in post-disaster situations;

81.  Welcomes the commitment to support both the promotion of ICT technologies in developing countries and enabling environments for the digital economy by enhancing free, open and secure connectivity; recalls that satellites can provide cost-effective solutions to connect assets and people in remote areas, and encourages the EU and its Member States to bear this in mind in their work in this field;

Global public goods and challenges

82.  Strongly believes that the global presence of the EU and its Member States makes them well placed to continue to play a leading international role in addressing global public goods and challenges (GPGC), which are increasingly under stress and disproportionately affecting the poor; calls for global goods and environmental challenges to be mainstreamed across the Consensus, among them human development, the environment, including climate change and access to water, insecurity and state fragility, migration, affordable energy services, food security and eradication of malnutrition and hunger;

83.  Recalls that small-scale and family farming, the most common agricultural model worldwide, plays a key role in the fulfilment of the SDGs: it contributes substantially to food security, to the fight against soil erosion and biodiversity loss, and to the mitigation of climate change, while providing jobs; stresses that the EU should promote on the one hand the creation of farmers’ organisations, including cooperatives, and on the other hand sustainable agriculture focusing on agro-ecological practices, better productivity of family farms, peasants’ and land use rights and informal seed systems as a means of ensuring food security, supply of local and regional markets, fair income and a decent life for farmers;

84.  Recalls that the ‘private sector’ is not a homogenous set of actors; stresses therefore that, in dealing with the private sector, EU and Member State development policy should comprise differentiated strategies to engage the various types of private sector actors, including producer-led private sector actors, micro, small and medium-sized enterprises, cooperatives, social enterprises and those in the solidarity economy;

85.  Reaffirms that ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all by 2030 (SDG 7) is crucial for the satisfaction of basic human needs, including access to clean water, sanitation, health care and education, and is essential for supporting local business creation and all kinds of economic activity, as well as a key driver of development progress;

86.  Stresses that increasing productivity of small-holders and achieving sustainable and climate-resilient agriculture and food systems play a key role in the fulfilment of SDG 2, and the concept of sustainable consumption and production in SDG 12, which goes beyond circular economy principles and addresses environment, social and human rights impacts; stresses that the EU should therefore focus on promoting sustainable food production and resilient agricultural practices that increase productivity and production; recognises the specific needs of women farmers with respect to food security;

87.  Highlights the importance of continuing to work on improving access to water, sanitation and hygiene as cross-cutting issues that affect the attainment of other goals in the post-2015 agenda, including health, education and gender equality;

88.  Calls for the EU to promote global initiatives aimed at addressing challenges linked to fast increasing urbanisation and at creating safer, more inclusive, resilient and sustainable cities; welcomes in this context the recent adoption of the New Urban Agenda by the UN Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III), which aims to explore better ways of planning, designing, financing, developing, governing and managing cities in order to help fight poverty and hunger, improve health and protect the environment;

89.  Calls for further EU efforts to protect the oceans and marine resources; welcomes in this context the recent Commission initiatives to improve international governance of the oceans in order to promote better management and to mitigate the impact of climate change on the seas and ecosystems;

90.  Stresses the importance of addressing the linkages with improved productivity of sustainable agriculture and fisheries leading to reduced loss and waste of food, transparent management of natural resources and adaptation to climate change;

EU development policy

91.  Reiterates the comparative advantages offered by EU development action, including its global presence, the flexibility offered by its range of instruments and delivery methods, its role in and commitment to policy coherence and coordination, its rights- and democracy-based approach, its scale in terms of providing a critical mass in grants, and its consistent support to civil society;

92.  Stresses the need for EU comparative advantages to be translated into focused action on a certain number of policy areas, including, but not limited to, democracy, good governance and human rights, global public goods and challenges, trade and regional integration, and tackling the root causes of insecurity and forced migration; underlines that such concentration will need to be adapted to the needs and priorities of individual developing countries and regions in line with the principles of ownership and partnership;

93.  Recalls the growing role played by sports in development and peace through the promotion of tolerance and a culture of mutual respect, as well as the contribution that sports make to empowering women and young people, individuals and communities, as well as to health, education and social inclusion;

94.  Underlines the importance of a collective comprehensive, transparent and timely accountability system for monitoring and review of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the Consensus by the EU and its Member States, stresses that yearly reporting on the progress in the implementation of all development policy commitments, including those on effectiveness, PCD and ODA commitments, continues to be necessary for accountability and parliamentary oversight; regrets the recent and expected reporting gaps; welcomes the Commission’s plans to carry out a mid-term assessment of the implementation of the Consensus;

o
o   o

95.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission and the European External Action Service.

(1) OJ C 46, 24.2.2006, p. 1.
(2) http://www.oecd.org/dac/effectiveness/49650173.pdf
(3) http://data.consilium.europa.eu/doc/document/ST-14684-2016-INIT/en/pdf
(4) http://www.un.org/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=A/RES/70/1&Lang=E
(5) http://www.un.org/esa/ffd/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/AAAA_Outcome.pdf
(6) https://unfccc.int/resource/docs/2015/cop21/eng/l09r01.pdf
(7) https://www.worldhumanitariansummit.org/
(8) https://habitat3.org/the-new-urban-agenda/
(9) http://effectivecooperation.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/4314021e.pdf
(10) Council conclusions, 15.5.2007.
(11) Council conclusions, 19.5.2014.
(12) Council document 10715/16.
(13) OJ C 280 E, 18.11.2006, p. 484.
(14) OJ C 33 E, 5.2.2013, p. 77.
(15) OJ C 468, 15.12.2016, p. 73.
(16) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2014)0059.
(17) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0196.
(18) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0265.
(19) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0137.
(20) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0224.
(21) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0246.
(22) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0437.
(23) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0299.
(24) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0437.
(25) Resolution of 11 December 2013.


Annual report on EU competition policy
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European Parliament resolution of 14 February 2017 on the annual report on EU competition policy (2016/2100(INI))
P8_TA(2017)0027A8-0001/2017

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Commission report of 15 June 2016 on Competition Policy 2015 (COM(2016)0393) and to the Commission staff working paper published as a supporting document on the same date (SWD(2016)0198),

–  having regard to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), in particular Articles 39, 42 and 101 to 109 thereof,

–  having regard to Protocol No 26 on services of general interest,

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

–  having regard to the universal framework for the Sustainability Assessment of Food and Agriculture systems (SAFA) developed by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO),

–  having regard to the relevant Commission rules, guidelines, resolutions, communications and papers on the subject of competition,

–  having regard to its resolution of 6 July 2016 on tax rulings and other measures similar in nature or effect(1),

–  having regard to its resolution of 23 June 2016 on the renewable energy progress report(2),

–  having regard to its resolution of 14 September 2016 on social dumping in the European Union(3),

–  having regard to its resolution of 19 January 2016 on the 2014 annual report on EU competition policy(4) and its resolution of 10 March 2015 on the 2013 annual report on EU competition policy(5),

–  having regard to the Commission decision of 6 May 2015 on the initiation of an investigation into electronic commerce pursuant to Article 17 of Council Regulation (EC) No 1/2003 (C(2015)3026),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 6 May 2015 entitled ‘A Digital Single Market Strategy for Europe’ (COM(2015)0192),

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

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) 2015/751 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 29 April 2015 on interchange fees for card-based payment transactions(6),

–  having regard to Commission Regulation (EU) No 651/2014 of 17 June 2014 declaring certain categories of aid compatible with the internal market in application of Articles 107 and 108 of the Treaty(7) (the ‘General Block Exemption Regulation’ (GBER)),

–  having regard to Council Regulation (EC) No 139/2004 of 20 January 2004 on the control of concentrations between undertakings(8),

–  having regard to the White Paper of 9 July 2014 entitled ‘Towards more effective EU merger control’ (COM(2014)0449),

–  having regard to the Commission’s answers to written questions from members of Parliament E-000344/2016, E-002666/2016 and E-002112/2016,

–  having regard to its resolution of 11 November 2015 on aviation(9), in particular paragraphs 6, 7 and 11 thereof regarding the revision of Regulation (EC) No 868/2004 in order to safeguard fair competition in EU external aviation relations and reinforce the competitive position of the EU aviation industry, prevent unfair competition more effectively, ensure reciprocity and eliminate unfair practices, including subsidies and State aid awarded to all airlines from certain third countries that distort the market, financial transparency in the fair competition clause being an essential element to guarantee this level playing field,

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 1308/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 December 2013 establishing a common organisation of the markets in agricultural products and repealing Council Regulations (EEC) No 922/72, (EEC) No 234/79, (EC) No 1037/2001 and (EC) No 1234/2007(10) (the ‘Single CMO Regulation’),

–  having regard to Commission Regulation (EU) No 1218/2010 of 14 December 2010 on the application of Article 101(3) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union to certain categories of specialisation agreements(11),

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs and the opinions of the Committee on International Trade, the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection, the Committee on Transport and Tourism and the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development (A8-0001/2017),

A.  whereas a strong and effective EU competition policy has always been a cornerstone of the internal market, as it encourages economic efficiency and creates a favourable climate for growth, innovation and technological progress, while pushing down prices;

B.  whereas EU competition policy is an essential instrument for fighting fragmentation of the internal market and thus creating and maintaining a level playing field for businesses throughout the EU;

C.  whereas the European Union, under the leadership of the Commission, should promote a ‘competition culture’ in the EU and worldwide;

D.  whereas competition policy is in itself a means of safeguarding European democracy, in that it prevents the over-concentration of economic and financial power in the hands of a few, which would undermine the ability of Europe’s political authorities to act independently of major industrial and banking groups;

E.  whereas the proper implementation of competition rules (including the antitrust rules) in conformity with the social market economy should prevent the over-concentration of economic and financial power in the hands of a few private companies and also stimulates actors by providing an incentive for them to be dynamic and innovative and to differentiate themselves in the markets;

F.  whereas fair competition policy keeps markets efficient and open, thus leading to lower prices, the emergence of new actors, better-quality products and services and greater choice for consumers, and also promoting research and innovation, economic growth and more resilient companies;

G.  whereas competition policy can and should make a significant contribution to key political priorities such as boosting innovation, quality jobs, the fight against climate change, sustainable growth and sustainable development, investment, resource efficiency, protecting consumers and human health, whilst reinforcing the single market, with particular regard to the digital single market and the Energy Union;

H.  whereas a successful competition policy must not be directed exclusively towards bringing down prices for consumers, but must also be mindful of the innovativeness and investment activity of European industry and the particular competitive conditions for small and medium-sized enterprises;

I.  whereas EU competition policy is also defined by the values of social fairness, political independence, transparency and due process;

J.  whereas EU competition policy is interdependent with other major EU policies, including tax, industrial and digital policies, the coordination of which is intended to ensure compliance with the fundamental principles enshrined in the Treaties, in particular transparency and loyalty;

K.  whereas tax evasion, tax fraud and tax havens are costing the EU taxpayers billions of euros (some estimates put the figure as high as one trillion euros) per year in lost revenue, distorting competition in the single market between those companies who pay their fair share of tax and those who do not;

L.  whereas global cooperation on competition enforcement helps to avoid inconsistencies in remedies and outcomes of enforcement actions, and helps businesses to reduce their compliance costs;

M.  whereas the case law of the Court of Justice of the European Union and the decision-making practice of the Commission give a different interpretation to the notion of ‘economic activity’ depending on whether the internal market rules or the competition rules are involved; whereas this confusing practice troubles the already burdensome notion of ‘economic activity’ even further;

N.  whereas a clear, coherent and workable regulatory environment in terms of adaptation of competition policy to agricultural specificities can contribute to strengthening farmers’ position within the food supply chain by tackling power imbalances between operators, increasing market efficiency and ensuring legal certainty and a level playing field within the single market;

O.  whereas the shape, strength and timing of economic hazards are difficult to anticipate and it is necessary that a market-oriented common agricultural policy (CAP) provide support to farmers and additional time-limited exemptions to competition rules, in the event of serious market imbalances; whereas during the dairy crisis, the Commission decided to trigger Article 222 of the Single CMO Regulation as a last resort to exempt collective planning of milk production by recognised farmers’ groupings from the application of competition law;

P.  whereas competition policy alone is inadequate to resolve unfair trading practices (UTPs) in the food supply chain;

Q.  whereas Article 102 of the TFEU clearly indicates that directly or indirectly imposing unfair trading practices on other sectors of the food chain constitutes a breach of this Treaty;

R.  whereas the Agricultural Markets Task Force (AMTF) was established with a view to improving the position of farmers in the food supply chain by exploring the possibilities of strengthening their position, including legal possibilities for setting up contractual relations and organising farmers’ collective actions; whereas the conclusions of the AMTF must be taken into account, if applicable, with regard to future discussions and measures to be taken;

1.  Welcomes the annual report by the Commission on competition policy, which demonstrates that proper EU competition policy can help to restore a sufficient level of investment and innovation by creating a fair competition environment; welcomes the report’s focus on the contribution of competition policy to eliminating barriers and distortive State aid measures for the benefit of the internal market; also reiterates that Europe’s future should be based on innovation, a social market economy and resource efficiency, which creates a high standard of living for all EU citizens;

Integration of the single market

2.  Welcomes the Commission’s goal of opening up new opportunities for citizens and businesses and recalls that the free movement of capital, services, goods and people constitute the four freedoms of the single market and that their implementation is key to bringing the EU closer to its citizens; stresses that without an effective EU competition policy the internal market cannot attain its full potential; welcomes the Commission’s use of the various instruments at its disposal, including control of mergers, combating abuse of a dominant position and anti-competitive practices, combating cartels, control of State aid, coordination with national and, where applicable, regional competition authorities, and also sectoral inquiries;

3.  Maintains that an effective competition policy has to allow for the specific market conditions applying to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), micro-enterprises and start-ups, and must protect workers’ rights and make for fair taxation;

4.  Calls on the Member States and the EU institutions to prioritise the strengthening of the post-Brexit Single Market by ensuring full compliance with EU competition laws and by further increasing cooperation between Member States on tax issues; also notes that Brexit could negatively affect EU competition policy; underlines, in particular, the risk of duplication of proceedings, which would increase administrative costs and delay investigation processes;

5.  Reiterates that fair tax competition is essential for the integrity of the EU internal market, and therefore all market players should pay their fair share of tax and taxes must be paid in the place where profits are generated; underlines that since the Lux Leaks revelation, the EU has acknowledged – in order to strengthen fair competition in the single market – that it needs simple and transparent tax policies and regulation, and has also acknowledged that it is necessary to put an end to unfair tax competition (including illegal tax benefits granted) by Member States, which places a moral hazard and additional tax burden on honest taxpayers and prevents the development of SMEs, also when new entrants and SMEs doing business in only one country are penalised as compared to multinational corporations, which can shift profits or implement other forms of aggressive tax planning through a variety of decisions and instruments available to them only; stresses the need to investigate thoroughly all the cases where it is suspected that the aim is illegal tax optimisation by multinationals; meanwhile, welcomes the Commission’s in-depth investigations into anti-competitive practices such as selective tax advantages, which can include excess profit ruling systems, and also welcomes the recent outcomes of investigations demonstrating that selective tax breaks constitute illegal State aid under EU competition law; underlines the need to ensure that the Commission has broad access to information in order to trigger more investigations on suspicious cases; calls on the Commission to draw up clear guidelines on tax-related State aid to cover cases of unfair competition and also to make full use of its powers under competition law to help Member States to tackle harmful tax practices efficiently; maintains that greater efforts also need to be brought to bear on aggressive tax practices; stresses that the information about tax rulings and transfer pricing arrangements exchanged between the tax authorities of Member States is particularly decisive; deplores the fact that Member States deny DG Competition access to this information; recommends increased sharing of information between national authorities, and also calls on Member States to publish information on their tax rulings and suggests presenting this information in the form of a regional breakdown where applicable; believes that the Commission decisions which have set out a clear methodology for calculating the value and the undue competitive advantages enjoyed by companies involved in incorrect rulings provide a good legal basis for further convergence;

6.  Emphasises that corruption in public procurement has serious market-distorting effects on European competitiveness; reiterates that public procurement is one of the government activities most vulnerable to corruption; highlights that in certain Member States, EU-funded procurement carries higher corruption risks than nationally funded procurement; recalls that tailor-made invitations to tender are widely used to limit market competition; calls on the Commission to continue its effort to prevent the misuse of EU funds and stimulate accountability in public procurement; urges the establishment of the European Public Prosecutor’s Office with the necessary rights, in order to better investigate alleged crimes against EU funds;

7.  Stresses that State aid proceedings alone cannot put a permanent stop to the unfair tax competition in Member States; recommends, therefore, the establishment of the common consolidated corporate tax base (full CCCTB), which will help to eliminate distortions of competition and provide a guarantee that no profit leaves the EU untaxed, the public disclosure of relevant information on tax rulings, a review of the VAT Directive in order to prevent fraud, and an obligation for large international companies to report publicly their turnover and profits on a ‘country-by-country’ basis, and calls on the Member States to introduce greater transparency in their tax practices and mutual reporting requirements; reiterates the necessity of implementing the Anti Tax Avoidance Package, the rules on information exchange between EU countries and the quick reaction mechanism to combat VAT fraud in order to ensure fair competition;

8.  Considers that fair competition can be hampered by tax planning; welcomes the Commission’s recommendation to adjust the definition of ‘permanent establishment’ so that companies cannot artificially avoid having a taxable presence in Member States in which they have an economic activity; stresses that this definition should also address the specific situation of the digital sector, ensuring that companies engaged in fully dematerialised activities are considered to have a permanent establishment in a Member State if they maintain a significant digital presence in the economy of that country;

9.  Stresses the need for single market rules to be enforced also at Member State level and for infringements to be dealt with in order to tackle fragmentation of the single market;

10.  Calls for improvement of the one-stop shop based on the current experience of the Mini One-Stop Shops for digital products; notes that even with the Mini One-Stop Shop, small and micro-businesses can face a significant administrative burden;

11.  Stresses the need to further reinforce the single market by removing the remaining barriers and obstacles;

12.  Reminds the Commission that in order for the EU’s single market to function smoothly it is imperative to allow national and regional authorities to intervene in situations which emanate from geographical handicaps that impede the market’s ability to flourish in both its economic and social dimensions;

13.  Insists on the need to fight against fiscal and social dumping, abusive tax planning and tax evasion to ensure fair competition across the single market;

14.  Urges the Commission to complete the implementation of the Single European Railway Area, ensure full transparency in the flows of money between infrastructure managers and railway undertakings, and verify that each Member State has a strong and independent national regulator;

15.  Urges the Council to take swift action to adopt the Commission proposal on the harmonisation of the common consolidated corporate tax base (CCCTB);

16.  Takes the view that the adoption of the euro by those Member States that have not yet joined the single currency would strengthen free competition within the internal market;

The digital single market

17.  Welcomes the Commission’s Digital Single Market Strategy and emphasises the crucial role of competition policy in completing the digital internal market; also supports the Commission’s efforts to ensure that EU competition policy applies fully to the digital single market, as competition not only gives consumers more choice but will also provide a level playing field, and regrets that the current lack of a European digital framework has highlighted the failure to reconcile the interests of large and small service providers; underlines that traditional market models of competition policy are often not sufficiently relevant to the digital internal market; calls for greater attention to be focused on the new business models used by digital companies; reiterates that a unified digital single market could create hundreds of thousands of new jobs and could contribute EUR 415 billion per year to the EU economy;

18.  In order for its Digital Single Market Strategy to remain credible, stresses that the Commission should complete all other pending cartel investigations carefully without jeopardising quality; calls for the proceedings to be speeded up so that results can be achieved as soon as possible; welcomes, therefore, the supplementary statement of objections sent by the Commission on the comparison shopping service and the statement of objections on the Android case; calls on the Commission to continue to examine determinedly all concerns identified in its investigations, including other areas of search bias (hotels, local searches, flights), in order to guarantee a level playing field for all market players in the digital market; calls for investigation of the dominant hotel booking platforms;

19.  Welcomes the Commission’s sectoral investigation of e-commerce, the preliminary results of which have identified certain business practices in this sector which could restrict online competition; also welcomes the Commission’s commitment towards a European digital single market and its proposal on geo-blocking and other forms of discrimination based on customers’ nationality and place of residence; calls on the Commission to take ambitious steps to eliminate illegitimate obstacles to online competition, in order to ensure barrier-free online shopping for EU consumers purchasing from sellers who are based in another Member State; considers, therefore, that targeted actions are needed to improve access to goods and services, in particular by ending unjustified geo-blocking practices and unfair price discrimination based on geographical location or nationality, which often have the effect of building monopolies and of some consumers resorting to illegal content; also calls for EU-level website labelling to guarantee the existence and quality of the services or products offered in order to ensure an even higher level of fair competition and also to strengthen consumer protection;

20.  Considers that enhancing the participation of SMEs should play an essential role in the efforts to promote a unified digital single market, and stresses the need to assess the potential impact of every initiative, notably those aiming to promote e-commerce and clarify the permanent establishment status for the digital sector, on the ability of SMEs to benefit from the digital single market;

21.  Recalls that net neutrality is of the utmost importance to ensure that there is no discrimination between internet services and competition is fully guaranteed (‘net neutrality’ meaning the principle according to which all internet traffic is treated equally, without discrimination, restriction or interference, independently of its sender, recipient, type, content, device, service or application);

22.  Highlights the increasing presence of new digitally enabled businesses, in particular internet and mobile phone applications, alongside existing operators, which has opened up new channels for consumers to find, compare and select goods and services across the single market, thus resulting in empowered consumers who seek to make informed choices based on their personal needs and goals;

23.  Stresses that the sharing economy offers EU consumers numerous innovative products and services; underlines that sharing economy platforms have brought into play the idea of challenging existing incumbent, dominant players to create a more competitive environment for consumers and businesses alike; reiterates that besides the taxation, administrative framework and security aspects, the Commission should also scrutinise its competition aspects and remove obstacles for market entry of businesses in order to create a level playing field; stresses that this type of economy has already been established several years ago, and that for reasons of legal consistency any irregularities should be resolved at EU level in compliance with the subsidiarity principle; stresses the need to guarantee a high level of consumer and personal data protection in connection with the digital single market; urges the Commission to create a toolkit, which is indispensable in order for the numerous forms and variants of the sharing economy to receive support at EU level and also in the individual Member States, to be applied, to become credible and to win trust, and is aware that this permissive and supportive regulatory framework will not lead to competitive distortions; calls on the Commission to address these concerns again so that the benefits to society of these business models can become tangible in reality within legal frameworks;

24.  Calls on the Commission to conduct a wide-ranging review of the effectiveness of existing competition law instruments in the digital age, and where appropriate to develop them further;

25.  Stresses that, particularly in a dynamic sector such as the digital economy, it is absolutely crucial for competition proceedings to be swiftly concluded, so that the abuse of a dominant position on the market cannot lead to a market shakeout;

26.  Calls on the Commission to take account of the growing convergence in the digital markets by comparing comparable services, such as instant messaging (IM) applications, with equivalent services provided by the general telecommunications sector;

27.  Welcomes the Commission’s investigations into certain anti-competitive practices by a number of companies, in particular by internet and telecom giants and other media companies, film studios and TV distributors; calls on the Commission to speed up all procedures against anti-competitive behaviour which infringes EU antitrust rules;

28.  Welcomes the Commission’s decision on recovery in the Apple State aid case, which represents a milestone for addressing the issue of illegal State aid by means of tax advantages; points out, however, that the EU needs to have more stringent legislation on tax rulings, providing also for an effective system and a debt recovery procedure in favour of EU budget own resources; calls on the Commission to rectify any infringement with a view to ensuring fair competition across the single market;

29.  Calls on the Commission to bring forward a regulatory strategy taking into account technology convergence and, in particular, the multiplication of platforms; recalls that for this purpose ex ante sectoral regulations must balance defence of pluralism, freedom of expression, protection of personal data, protection of the consumer’s autonomy and freedom of choice and equal promotion of competing offers in Europe and of convergent offers for European champions in international competition; calls for inequalities in the balance of power to be corrected and for situations of dependency between economic operators to be alleviated with a view to achieving a fair sharing of value;

30.  Welcomes the greater attention being paid to network effects and to data accumulation and analysis in identifying market power on digital markets; takes the view that data play a major role in the digital economy and should therefore be taken into account in assessment under competition rules;

31.  Considers that competition in the internet search and telecommunications sectors is essential, not only to drive innovation and investment in networks and the digital economy but also to encourage affordable prices and choice of services for consumers; calls on the Commission, therefore, to safeguard competition in these sectors, including with regard to internet services and spectrum allocation; welcomes in this connection the Commission’s intention, when applying the State aid guidelines on broadband networks, to look sympathetically at the strategic aims of the telecoms package; welcomes the Commission decision to stop the merger of the mobile phone service providers O2 and Three in the UK, to the benefit of European consumers; reiterates the importance of the application of the European Electronic Communications Code and the enhancement of connectivity across the EU;

32.  Considers that ending roaming charges in the EU is not sufficient and that intra-EU calls must also be regulated on the same level as local calls; calls on the Commission to submit a legislative proposal for regulating intra-EU calls;

33.  Considers that the steps towards ending consumer charges for roaming in the EU are, from a long-term perspective, not sufficient if the single market is to be further deepened, and that incentives for intra-EU calls to be on the same level as local calls must be created, by means of facilitating investments in fully European or shared networks; calls on the Commission to conduct an in-depth consultation with network operators and relevant stakeholders on how to bring down charges for intra-EU calls to the level of local calls in the most efficient way, which at the same time encourages investments and secures global competitiveness and innovation;

34.  Calls on the Commission to use its policy and financial instruments and promote exchanges of best practices between Member States to foster investments in various traditional sectors and SMEs that are lagging behind the digital industrial revolution;

35.  Underlines that the European Union should encourage all businesses (such as ones with a dominant market share and also start-ups) to innovate;

36.  Calls on the Commission to show the same firmness in the conduct and result of the ongoing inquiry against McDonald’s;

State aid

37.  Welcomes the overhaul of the State aid rules and suggests that a specific annual report be sent to Parliament; reminds the Member States that the aim was to better target aid measures towards long-term, sustainable economic growth, quality job creation and social cohesion, while ensuring an equal level playing field and the free functioning of the social market economy; underlines that the Member States have increased responsibility when granting aid without prior notification to the Commission; underlines that the Commission should provide a sufficient legal basis in competition law in order to boost tourism as an important economic factor in the EU, and that, accordingly, the funding of public tourism organisations should fall under a general GBER exemption; calls on the Commission to scrutinise any last-minute transaction made by a Member State without regard to political pressure applied by the latter; also reminds the Commission of the need to prevent certain governments from acting in bad faith as they do when misspending EU funds;

38.  Emphasises that state or regional incentive is one of the policy tools to assure services crucial for the support of economic and social conditions in isolated, remote or peripheral regions and islands in the Union, but that past experiences should also be taken into consideration and these interventions should not be contrary to single market principles; stresses that the connectivity of peripheral island regions is also essential and welcomes the inclusion of social aid for transport for residents of remote regions in the GBER where the problem of connectivity is being recognised; asks the Commission, during the ongoing revision of the General Block Exemption Regulation, to take full account of the European Outermost Regions’ (ORs) specificities as laid down in Article 349 TFEU, given that connectivity is vital for local SMEs in the ORs and also the least likely to affect competition in the internal market;

39.  Welcomes the Commission Notice on the notion of State aid as part of the State Aid Modernisation Initiative; acknowledges the benefits of the simplified rules that provide certainty to both public authorities and companies; calls on the Commission at the same time to more closely scrutinise prohibited State aid, which has a great negative impact on the Single Market;

40.  Calls on the Commission to put in place a guidance document on the notion of State aid, in the light of important changes in case law and enforcement practice, as soon as possible in order to ensure legal certainty and predictability;

41.  Calls on the Commission to launch a road map for less but better-targeted State aid, aiming to open up the possibility of reducing State aid by lowering taxes, therefore stimulating new businesses and fair competition rather than supporting old structures and incumbents;

42.  Underlines that when using State aid in order to promote services of general interest, it is the benefit to consumers and citizens that is crucial, not the benefit to individual companies or public entities;

43.  Calls on the Commission to closely monitor the renationalisation of public utilities in EU Member States and to prevent illegal State aid granted in the form of public service compensation;

44.  Calls on the Commission to push within international competition organisations, such as the International Competition Network, for a harmonised definition of State aid;

45.  In order to achieve a properly functioning Energy Union and to avoid non-compliance with State aid rules and also misuse of EU funds, stresses that all State aid cases and public procurement irregularities connected to energy and environmental investments must be strictly monitored and investigated in depth, such as the controversial project to enlarge Hungary’s Paks nuclear power plant;

46.  Stresses that – as the Commission has stated for the sixth time in its annual competition report – the temporary State aid granted in the financial sector was considered necessary for the stabilisation of the global financial system, but must quickly be reduced, or totally removed and scrutinised as soon as possible; calls on the Commission and the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) to ensure that all consumer protection legislation – such MIFID or IDD – is applied in a consistent manner across the Single Market and asks the Commission and ESMA to make sure that there is no regulatory arbitrage when implementing these pieces of legislation; calls on the Commission to consider the possibility for State aid to banks to be linked to conditionality of credit to SMEs;

47.  Recalls its position as regards the current Commission inquiry regarding Deferred Tax Assets and Credits (DTAs/DTCs) to the benefit of the banking sector in several Member States; is of the opinion that DTAs/DTCs should be made retroactively authorised under State aid provisions if they are tied to explicit conditions regarding financing targets for the real economy;

48.  Considers it regrettable that no action was taken by the Commission to address the abuses committed in the restructuring of private banks, including those affecting small depositors and small owners of financial instruments such as preferred shares, which in many cases had been marketed without full compliance with EU legislation; calls on the Commission to address the widespread effects of the mis-selling of financial products uncovered in the restructuring of banks affected by the economic crisis;

49.  Recalls its request to the Commission to examine whether the banking sector has benefited since the beginning of the crisis from implicit subsidies and State aid by means of the provision of unconventional liquidity support;

50.  Notes that the European Court of Auditors has detected State aid errors in approximately one-fifth of the projects that it audited which were co-financed by cohesion programmes and deemed to have State aid relevance over the period 2010-2014(12); notes that one-third of these errors were assessed as having a financial impact and that they are considered to have contributed to the level of error in cohesion policy; considers, therefore, that there is scope for progress in addressing non-compliance with State aid rules in cohesion policy; considers that it is particularly necessary to improve the knowledge of State aid rules in the recipient countries in order to avoid errors made in good faith, as well as to improve the recording of irregularities in order to have a better overview of the issue;

51.  Is of the opinion that a better understanding is needed at local and national level as regards classification of illegal State aid; welcomes the Commission’s recent decisions clarifying which Member State public support measures can be carried out without a State aid assessment by the Commission; regards those decisions as providing helpful guidance for local and municipal projects, reducing administrative burden and at the same time increasing legal certainty;

52.  Calls on the Commission to review the interpretation of the relevant competition provisions in connection with the Deposit Guarantee Schemes Directive (DGSD) so that the early stabilisation instruments provided for by the EU legislative authority can actually be brought into use;

53.  Underlines the importance of the Commission’s investigations into State aid of a fiscal nature, which provide necessary support for the European and international tax agenda, especially in the fight against aggressive tax planning;

54.  Calls on the Commission to allocate greater resources to investigating tax rulings that create State aid concerns and to approach such investigations in a systematic manner; notes the fact that the Commission regards the opaque tax rulings awarded by some Member States to certain multinationals as illegal State aid, on the grounds that they distort competition in the internal market; also welcomes the increased awareness of the interlinkages between tax policies and administrative practices in the field of taxation on the one hand and competition policy on the other hand; calls on the Commission to publish a summary of the main tax rulings agreed in the previous year, based on information contained in a secure central directory, including at least a description of the issues addressed in the tax ruling and a description of the criteria used to determine an advance pricing arrangement, and identifying the Member State(s) most likely to be affected;

Antitrust, cartel proceedings and merger control

55.  Welcomes the Commission’s efforts to prepare guidance on its procedures and its continuous evaluation of the EU legal framework;

56.  Underlines the importance of breaking up cartels in the interest of European citizens and European businesses, in particular SMEs; encourages the Commission to streamline administrative procedures in this regard in order to fast-track proceedings;

57.  Is of the opinion that the proposed mergers between the world’s biggest agro-chemical and seeds companies would lead to the risk of rising prices for seeds and less choice of varieties adapted to agro-ecological conditions; underlines that should these mergers proceed, 61 % of the global seeds market and 65 % of the global pesticides market would be controlled by only three companies;

58.  Calls on the Commission to strengthen its action at global level in order to ensure that third countries’ competition rules do not conflict with EU provisions to the detriment of European businesses;

59.  Calls on the Commission to keep its cartel enforcement record strong and effective in all cases where it has sufficient evidence of infringement; points out that competition policy enables competitors to cooperate in innovation without that cooperation being abused for anti-competitive ends; takes note of last year’s five decisions relating to a total of approximately EUR 365 million in fines, as documented in the Commission staff working document accompanying its report on competition policy 2015;

60.  Considers that the existing rules relating to fines for infringements could be supplemented by ongoing penalties against those responsible; calls on the Commission to consider the possibility of complementing cartel fines with personal sanctions aimed at company decision-makers, as well as individual penalties for those employees responsible for actually leading their company to commit a violation of competition law – the Commission should, thus, be able to impose measures such as director disqualifications or personal pecuniary sanctions when necessary;

61.  Believes that the use of ever higher fines as the sole antitrust instrument may be too blunt; emphasises that a policy of high fines should not be used as an alternative budget-financing mechanism; favours a ‘carrot-and-stick’ approach with penalties that serves as an effective deterrent, in particular for repeat offenders, while encouraging compliance;

62.  Notes that the number of notified mergers increased significantly in 2015; asks, therefore, for the relevant services to be provided with the necessary resources (via internal reallocation of staff) enabling them to continue to deal effectively with this situation;

63.  Welcomes the Commission’s recently launched consultation on certain procedural and legal aspects of EU merger control; calls on the Commission, in connection with the planned reform of the Merger Regulation, to examine carefully whether current assessment procedures take sufficient account of circumstances on digital markets and of the internationalisation of markets; considers that, above all within the digital economy, merger assessment criteria must be adapted;

64.  Shares the concerns over the current negotiations regarding the merger between Bayer AG and Monsanto Company Inc.; draws attention to the fact that the planned merger would create a potential European and global oligopoly if allowed to proceed; stresses that this merger could result in a monopoly situation in the seeds and pesticides markets, which are important for the agricultural sector; asks the Commission, therefore, to deliver an ex-ante impact assessment of this merger and requests a clear view of the Commission’s timing;

65.  Is of the opinion that EU merger control arrangements should take account of purchase price as a criterion, since mergers in digital markets have made it clear that turnover thresholds are not sufficient;

66.  Calls on the Commission to present a legislative proposal establishing a framework for EU coordination of national competition authorities on merger control;

67.  Calls again on the Commission to verify carefully Member States’ transposition of Antitrust Damages Directive 2014/104/EU; points out that that directive must be properly transposed by 27 December 2016; deplores the fact that progress with transposition has been slow so far and that many Member States have not yet tabled draft legislation; calls on the Commission, as guardian of the Treaties, to remind Member States of their obligation;

Sectoral aspects

68.  Welcomes the Commission’s Framework Strategy for a Resilient Energy Union with a Forward-Looking Climate Change Policy, and agrees with its five interrelated policy dimensions; stresses that it is for Member States to take energy mix decisions;

69.  Welcomes the different antitrust investigations, in particular those into Gazprom and Bulgargaz, aimed at ensuring market integration in the Energy Union; regrets, however, the practice on the part of certain Member States of buying gas through offshore companies, as being a typical example of tax avoidance and an act that is contrary to a properly functioning Energy Union; also stresses the importance of preventing the creation of market structures which could impede effective competition in the energy sector;

70.  Takes note of the efforts of the Commission to promote the market integration of renewable energy sources in order to avoid distortions of competition; underlines, however, the legally binding commitments undertaken by Member States at the COP21 climate conference, which cannot be met without concrete (state) measures for promoting and financing the production and use of renewable energy;

71.  Highlights that European competition policy has a great potential to promote higher environmental and social standards; notes with regret that the Hungarian Government is distorting competition in the renewable energy sector by imposing high taxes and preventing the deployment of energy-efficient and renewable energy technologies; calls on the Commission to continue to support the use of renewable energies in Europe in order to achieve the environmental goals set in the European Union’s ten-year Europe 2020 growth strategy; asks the Commission to continue to support the integration of environmental, social and labour requirements into public procurement procedures;

72.  Calls on the Commission to overhaul Commission Regulation (EU) No 267/2010 exempting certain agreements in the insurance sector, given that the exchange of information required for risk calculation purposes and joint risk cover increase legal certainty and competitiveness in the sector, thus facilitating market entry for new firms, enhancing consumer choice and improving economic conditions;

73.  Points out the need to differentiate conceptually and policy-wise between competition rules and social policy of the respective Member State; recognises that it is every government’s obligation to intervene in order to avoid energy poverty for its citizens;

74.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to cut taxes on energy products and take effective measures to counter energy poverty;

75.  Points out that the energy grid is a network-based infrastructure requiring special treatment, to enable and foster self-consumption;

76.  Notes that existing government monopolies, such as gambling monopolies, can lead to unfair and anti-competitive practices; draws attention to the risk that by providing licences without concession tenders, or through untransparent and questionable ones, Member State governments have the possibility of favouring certain companies over others, and thus can create an highly anti-competitive environment; calls on the Commission to strictly monitor existing government monopolies and the lawfulness of concession tenders in order to prevent any excessive distortion of competition;

77.  Calls on the Commission to propose changes to Regulation (EC) No 261/2004 in order to ensure the same protection for air travellers on flights from third countries, regardless of whether the carrier is an EU or non-EU carrier;

78.  Recalls that Article 42 TFEU gives special status to the agricultural sector as regards competition law, affirmed during the latest reform of the CAP by allowing a series of derogations and exemptions from the provisions of Article 101 TFEU; considers that the current crisis in the farming sector is worsening the already weak positions of farmers within the food supply chain;

79.  Considers that the collective activities of producer organisations and their associations, such as production planning and sales negotiation and, when appropriate, negotiation of the terms of contracts, are necessary to achieve the CAP objectives defined in Article 39 TFEU and should therefore benefit in principle from a presumption of compatibility with Article 101 TFEU; notes that the current derogations are not used to their full extent and that the lack of clarity of those derogations, the difficulties in implementation and the lack of uniform application by national competition authorities do not provide farmers and their organisations with enough legal certainty, preventing them from self-organising and undermining the good functioning of the internal market; calls, therefore, on the Commission to improve available tools by ensuring that competition policy takes better account of the specificities of the agricultural sector and by appropriately clarifying the scope of the general derogation for agriculture, the specific rules for the dairy, olive oil, beef and veal, and arable crops sectors and individual exemptions under Article 101(3) TFEU;

80.  Calls on the Commission to combat, and take binding regulatory actions at EU level against, unfair trading practices in the food chain, which hamper farmers and consumers; calls on the Commission and the national competition authorities to address the concerns raised by the cumulative impact at the upper end of the food supply chain, as well as on retailers and consumers, of the rapid national-level concentration in the distribution sector and the development of international and European-level alliances of major distributors; notes that this structural development might lead to price volatility and falling income of farmers, and raises concerns of possible strategic alignments, reduced competition and reduced margins for investment in innovation within the food supply chain;

81.  Emphasises that competition policy defends consumers’ interests but does not take into account agricultural producers’ interests; stresses that competition policy must attach the same importance to defending the interests of agricultural producers as it does to defending consumers’ interests, by ensuring that the conditions for competition and for access to the internal market are fair in order to foster investment, employment, innovation, viability of agricultural businesses and balanced development of rural areas in the EU;

82.  Insists that the concept of ‘fair price’ should not be regarded as the lowest price possible for the consumer, but instead must be reasonable and allow fair remuneration of each party within the food supply chain;

83.  Calls on the Commission to provide Parliament and the Council with a record of the use of existing exemptions by farmers in different Member States in application of Article 225 of the Single CMO Regulation and to appropriately clarify the scope of such derogations as well as individual exemptions from competition rules under Article 101(3) TFEU; calls on the Commission to clarify in particular whether sustainability agreements entered into within the food supply chain to meet societal demands and whose measures go beyond statutory requirements can be exempted from competition law if they contribute to improving production and promote innovation while benefiting consumers;

84.  Calls on the Commission to adopt a more extensive approach in defining a ‘dominant position’ and the abuse of such a position by an agricultural undertaking or a number of such undertakings linked by a horizontal agreement, taking into consideration the degree of concentration and the constraints resulting from the negotiating strength of the input, processing and retail sectors;

85.  Considers that, in a single agricultural market, the concept of the ‘relevant market’ needs to evolve and to be understood primarily from an EU-wide perspective, before lower levels are taken into account, so as not to jeopardise efforts to concentrate agricultural supply by narrowly compartmentalising the activities that agricultural undertakings may engage in;

86.  Believes that farmers in all sectors of production should be guaranteed the right to collective bargaining, including the right to agree minimum prices;

87.  Believes that farmers should fully engage with and exploit the potential of producer organisations, including producer cooperatives, their associations and inter-branch bodies; calls on the Commission to encourage such collective self-help tools to grow in competencies and efficiencies by clarifying and simplifying the rules applicable to them in order to strengthen their negotiating capacity and their competitiveness, while safeguarding the principles set out in Article 39 TFEU;

88.  Calls on the Commission to ensure that the provisions of Article 222 of the Single CMO Regulation are triggered quickly in periods of severe market imbalances and to further assess the efficiency of this measure when applied to the dairy market in view of proposing further temporary adaptations of competition law and procedure in times of serious market imbalances;

89.  Welcomes, in this regard, the recent publication of guidelines on the application of these specific rules; considers, however, their legal scope to be too limited and the criteria to be complied with too strict and heterogeneous from one sector to another to provide the necessary legal clarity and certainty to farmers willing to benefit from those derogations;

90.  Considers that a relevant-market categorisation does not fully suit the current situation of the olive oil sector and therefore proposes to consider the olive oil market for consumers a single market, with a view to improving the implementation of the rules of Article 169 of the Single CMO Regulation;

91.  Believes that, given the variations in olive oil production due mostly to weather conditions, and in order to guarantee the objectives of the members of the producer organisations or the associations of producer organisations, cases where producer organisations are forced to purchase olive oil from non-members should be taken into consideration, while guaranteeing the ancillary nature of this activity to the marketing of the products of their own members;

92.  Proposes to extend the scope of the rules of Article 170 on beef and veal meat production to the cattle fattening sector in order to ensure better implementation;

93.  Welcomes, in the context of the end of quotas in the sugar sector, the continued existence of a contractual framework(13) among beet farmers, their organisations and the sugar companies, allowing them notably to negotiate the terms of value-sharing depending on the developments on the sugar market or other raw materials markets; calls on the Member States to ensure that this possibility is offered to all operators in the sector in order to fulfil the objectives of the Single CMO Regulation, thus ensuring a fair balance of rights and obligations between sugar undertakings and sugar beet producers;

94.  Calls on the Commission to assess the influence exerted by retailers on the firms which manufacture their own-brand products;

95.  Reiterates the position of Parliament(14) in favour of the adoption of framework legislation at EU level in order to tackle UTPs within the food supply chain; stresses that this legislation must ensure that EU farmers and consumers have the opportunity to benefit from fair selling and buying conditions;

96.  Believes that full and satisfactory implementation of the ‘Milk Package’(15) is essential in order to strengthen the dairy sector and asks the Commission to propose that the ‘Milk Package’ should continue to apply beyond mid-2020 and to examine whether its rules could be extended to other sectors of agriculture;

97.  Takes note of the conclusions of the study entitled ‘Economic impact of modern retail on choice and innovation in the EU food sector’ of the Directorate-General for Competition, including the existence of a negative relationship that may exist between innovation and penetration of products under private labels on the food market; calls on the Commission to submit to Parliament the extent of the ongoing discussions to determine whether this negative relationship does reduce innovation and the variety of products available to consumers, and what the long-term consequences of this would be for the supply chain and the situation of farmers;

98.  Reiterates the need to develop the EU competition framework progressively in order to include in the monitoring of the food supply chain in Europe the Sustainability Assessment of Food and Agriculture systems (SAFA) indicators of the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), including indicators under the headings of Fair Pricing and Transparent Contracts (S.2.1.1) and Rights of Suppliers (S.2.2.1);

99.  Stresses that excessive taxation of any industry could easily destroy competition and would be against the interests of consumers;

100.  Calls for further development of the European Food Prices Monitoring Tool to improve the detection of crises in the agri-food sector by means of better and more disaggregated data; highlights, in this respect, the need to engage farmers’ organisations in the definition and collection of data;

101.  Calls on the Commission to fully take into account the effect of possible market distortions resulting from trade agreements with third countries on the agricultural producers in Europe, given their delicate financial situation and their fundamental role in our society; believes that the Commission should pay particular attention to deals with those countries that have considerably fewer agricultural and health regulations than the EU;

102.  Calls on the Commission to investigate the nature and substance of distortions in the retail market and to include the potential effect of territorial supply constraints on retailers, given that distortion leads to market fragmentation and the potential for large supermarkets to dominate the market and distort competition within supply chains; emphasises the importance of all stakeholders disclosing relevant information; urges the Commission to start investigating retail price maintenance issues again;

103.  Believes that the Commission should further strengthen the links between competition policy and transport policy; notes that the European Court of Auditors’ Special Report No 21/2014 states that, besides the specific cases of regional airports or airports in remote areas, connectivity in Europe should be based on economic sustainability; regrets the fact that airport investments have not always produced the anticipated results; calls, therefore, on the Commission to identify the successful and unsuccessful airport development projects; calls on the Commission to revise Regulation (EC) No 868/2004 in order to reinforce the competitive position of the EU aviation industry, prevent unfair competition more effectively, ensure reciprocity and eliminate unfair practices, including subsidies and State aid awarded to all airlines from certain third countries; calls on the Commission to investigate whether certain practices – based on existing bilateral air services agreements signed by Member States with non-EU countries – are detrimental to fair competition between carriers and airports, and are against European consumers’ interests; also calls on the Commission to tackle effectively anti-competitive practices that may undermine European consumers’ ability to use a variety of online channels, including metasearch comparison services and online travel agents;

104.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to show greater political will towards the further deepening and strengthening of the single market for transport and establishing a level playing field, in order to ensure open and fair competition between public and private operators in the transport, postal and tourism sectors, whilst respecting other EU policies, targets and principles, including the social dimension which is important for the smooth functioning of the internal market for transport;

105.  Stresses the importance of connectivity and transport infrastructure for the survival, economic development and provision of public and private services in regional and remote areas;

106.  Hopes, therefore, that the global TEN-T network will be completed;

107.  Stresses that the need to guarantee more effective protection of transport workers’ rights from abuse should not be used as a pretext to restrict free competition between entities from different Member States; calls on the Commission to respect the principles of proportionality and subsidiarity when drawing up laws that will have a significant impact on the functioning of the single transport market;

108.  Notes the challenges faced by postal operators as a result of the creation of the digital single market; stresses that the success of this ambitious project, in particular in the area of online trade, depends largely on the form taken by the postal parcel delivery service market; stresses the need to guarantee fair and equal cross-border competition conditions for private entities and public operators providing commercial services;

109.  Stresses that any competition policy should respect the social rights of all operators in the sectors concerned;

110.  Highlights the fact that EU transport legislation is often poorly implemented and that treaty principles are not respected by Member States, particularly where transport is managed as a monopoly by central government; calls, respectively, on the Commission and the Member States to properly implement and enforce existing EU legislation, which is key to the proper functioning of the internal market, in order to bring additional benefits to business and industry, consumers, the social conditions of workers, and the environment;

111.  Stresses the importance of removing physical, technical and regulatory barriers between Member States in order to prevent fragmentation in the single market and facilitate cross-border mobility and territorial cooperation, thereby stimulating competition;

112.  Draws the Commission’s attention to the indirect obstacles to competition arising from disparity in rules on taxation, safety, disparity of driving and rest times, type-approval and passenger rights;

113.  Welcomes the advances in digital technologies in the transport and tourism sectors, which promote competition, create jobs, facilitate the access of SMEs to larger markets, and bring tangible benefits to the consumer; points out that digitalisation and the welcome development of the collaborative economy will bring significant changes to the sectors’ operating environment, and that an appropriate and clear legal framework is required to reap the benefits of the digitalisation process;

114.  Stresses that entities operating on the basis of new business models influence the EU’s transport and tourism market in a positive way, in particular by making services more accessible and improving their quality;

115.  Welcomes the Commission’s intention to negotiate external aviation agreements with several key countries and regions in the world; believes that these will not only improve market access, but will also provide new business opportunities for a world-beating European aviation sector, create high quality jobs, maintain stringent standards of safety, take into consideration the rights of workers in the sector, and benefit consumers; stresses that Parliament has an important role to play in these negotiations;

116.  Calls on the Commission, in negotiating these external aviation agreements, to include a fair competition clause in order to ensure a level playing field;

117.  Considers that with regard to port services, an increasingly open, competitive and transparent regulatory framework needs to be created for public ports in Europe, whilst creating additional job opportunities;

118.  Believes that increased competition brought about by the gradual opening up of the EU road haulage market can bring benefits to consumers, but strongly condemns the fact that certain measures being applied by some Member States are undermining the integrity of the single market in this field; supports the position of the Commission in confronting such measures;

119.  Hopes that this opening up of the road haulage market will not be a further cause of social dumping, and deplores, in addition, the ‘letterbox company’ phenomenon;

120.  Furthermore deplores that smaller vans are not appropriately addressed in EU policy, despite the fact that they are increasingly used to circumvent the correct application of legislation on employment, safety and environmental protection;

121.  Invites the Commission to closely monitor oligopolistic price dumping tendencies, in particular in the aviation and the long-distance / line-bus sectors, and insists on the correct application of EU law and a fair competitive intermodal playing field;

122.  Calls for a speedy conclusion to the negotiations on the Fourth Railway Package, and believes this should further open up railway passenger transport to competition and improve the efficiency of the rail sector, whilst ensuring the quality and continuity of public service obligations;

123.  Welcomes the adoption of the technical pillar of the Fourth Railway Package, and believes this will strengthen rail safety whilst at the same time removing technical barriers to competition through interoperability;

124.  Stresses the importance of tourism as a vital driver of economic growth and job creation, and calls on the Commission to take a proactive approach to promoting the competitiveness of the European tourism sector and creating a favourable environment for its growth and development;

125.  Stresses that postal services, and in particular cross-border parcel delivery, are of fundamental importance for the development of the e-commerce sector across the EU; welcomes the Commission’s antitrust inquiry into the e-commerce sector and encourages it to continue monitoring the development of the parcel and postal markets;

126.  Stresses the need to finance sustainable, accessible, safe transport projects that could help to improve the functioning of the whole European transport system;

127.  Calls for the use of EU funds such as the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF), the Cohesion Fund, the European Fund for Regional Development (ERDF) and Horizon 2020 in order to develop European transport infrastructure and increase the quantity and quality of services;

128.  Calls on the Member States to devote sufficient attention to completing cross-border infrastructural projects and to coordinate their most important transport plans with neighbouring Member States;

129.  Considers it important to use in full innovative financial instruments such as the European Fund for Strategic Investments, which are suitable for financing transport sector projects to support growth and competitiveness; stresses, however, that the resources earmarked for the EFSI Guarantee Fund cannot be at the expense of the CEF or Horizon 2020, which are vital instruments for the development of a common market in the transport sector;

130.  Stresses that the full opening-up of the rail transport market could bring a number of benefits to operators and passengers from all Member States; notes, however, the need to take account of the differing degrees of development of rail infrastructure in the Member States in that process; stresses the need to maintain, in the next multiannual financial framework, current levels of investment in evening out differences in rail infrastructure;

131.  Stresses that the need to guarantee more effective protection of transport workers’ rights from abuse should not be used as a pretext to restrict free competition between entities from different Member States; calls on the Commission to respect the principles of proportionality and subsidiarity when drawing up laws that will have a significant impact on the functioning of the single transport market;

132.  Encourages the Commission to provide analytical methods for the definition of new relevant markets with the digitalisation of the economy and in particular with the phenomenon of convergence of technologies and the commercial use of personal data on a large scale;

133.  Calls on the Member States, with a view to ensuring genuine competition between EU road haulage firms, to put an end to the granting of any concessions on roads around urban areas that result in the payment of tolls;

134.  Asks the Commission to investigate the alleged cases of VAT fraud in the pork industry; regrets that the Commission has not yet launched an inquiry on this issue, despite the complaints it has received from farmers’ associations;

135.  Takes the view that current and savings accounts should not incur commission for users unless they are linked to specific services;

136.  Reiterates its concern (as expressed in its resolution of 11 June 2013 on social housing in the European Union(16)) about the restrictive definition of social housing given by the Commission within the field of competition policy; calls on the Commission to clarify this definition on the basis of an exchange of best practice and experience between the Member States, taking into account the fact that social housing is conceived of, and managed, in different ways in different Member States, regions and local communities;

137.  Regrets the Commission’s failure to react quickly and decisively to attempts by some Member States to restrict free competition in the transport sector; calls for these practices to be abolished and for all possible measures to be taken to guarantee equal access to the single market under the same conditions for entities operating in that sector from all Member States;

138.  Considers it important to guarantee competition in the intra-European market in financial services, including insurance, which entails safeguarding the possibility of cross-border acquiring;

139.  Reiterates its call on the Commission to release the findings of current investigations into competitive practices in the food supply, energy, transport and media sectors;

140.  Rejects the requirement for users to be based in the Member State in which the financial institution or insurance company is domiciled for the purposes of service provision, since this is incompatible with the goal of an internal market in retail financial services;

141.  Calls for an immediate investigation into competition concerns arising from the Formula One motorsport industry;

142.  Calls on the Commission, when developing and implementing competition policy, to take into account the fact that micro, small and medium-sized enterprises constitute the vast majority of companies in the EU; stresses, in this context, the need for user-friendly competition rules for smaller businesses that wish to operate online and cross-border within the single market;

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

144.  Stresses the need to ensure access to medicines by fighting against the abuses of the pharmaceutical industry; notes the need to encourage the use of generic medicines, where available, in the health systems of Member States;

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

146.  Underlines the need to fight against unfair collective boycotts, defined as a situation in which a group of competitors agree to exclude an actual or potential competitor, as restrictions of competition by object;

147.  Expresses its concern at the ‘revolving door’ scandals affecting EU authorities, and in particular the case of former Commissioner for Competition Neelie Kroes, who will not only lobby for Uber but is also affected by the revelations of the Bahamas Leaks;

Towards more effective national competition authorities in the EU

148.  Welcomes the decentralised enforcement of EU competition rules in Europe, but considers that the effectiveness of the protection of citizens and companies from anti-competitive practices should not depend only on the Member State in which they are resident; takes the view that the cartel procedure regulation (Regulation (EC) No 1/2003) has done much to create a level playing field for businesses throughout the internal market; emphasises, however, that there are still differences between national systems and national competition authorities, in particular as regards independence, the setting of fines and leniency programmes; takes the view that effective, uniform procedural provisions are essential if EU cartel law is to be enforced and legal certainty guaranteed for consumers and businesses; calls on the competition authorities in the Member States to make full use of the possibilities offered by European cooperation in the context of the European Competition Network (ECN);

149.  Considers it essential, therefore, that the national competition authorities in the EU have the means and instruments they need to be effective enforcers of EU competition rules, including the tools to detect, tackle and sanction infringements and the leniency programmes that will be essential if companies are to come clean about cartels across Europe;

150.  Reiterates that the independence of national competition authorities is of paramount importance, and that this includes ensuring that they have the resources they need to perform their tasks;

151.  Welcomes, in that connection, the consultation procedure launched by the Commission, which is likely to lead to a legislative proposal on strengthening the enforcement and sanctioning tools available to the national competition authorities, the so-called ECN+; reiterates that enforcement by multiple authorities in the same or related cases creates a risk of overlapping and potentially inconsistent action that reduces legal certainty and creates unnecessary costs for businesses; calls, therefore, on the Commission to put forward a proposal for proactive EU action in order to ensure that the national competition authorities are more effective enforcers and act in a coherent and convergent fashion, so that the full potential of the decentralised system of EU competition enforcement can be realised; calls for Parliament to be fully involved under the codecision procedure;

152.  Emphasises that international cooperation between competition authorities is essential in a globalised world; therefore supports active participation of the Commission and the national competition authorities in the International Competition Network; calls on the Commission to examine the scope for concluding with more third countries competition agreements which facilitate exchanges of information between investigating authorities; emphasises that in this regard the competition agreements already concluded with Switzerland and Canada can serve as models for future agreements of this kind; also considers that international trade and investment agreements should have a strong competition section;

153.  Invites the Commission, without compromising the independence of national competition authorities, to assess the different levels of national sanctions for infringements in the Member States and to assess the possibility and desirability of streamlining these differences;

154.  Considers it essential for the Commission to continue to promote better cooperation among national competition authorities in the EU;

155.  Underlines that the independence of DG Competition is of the utmost importance for it to achieve its goals in a successful manner; calls again for a strict separation between the departments that draw up guidelines and those that have the responsibility of applying those guidelines; calls on the Commission to reallocate sufficient financial and human resources to DG Competition; requests that the Commission have sufficient technically skilled engineers available when investigating high-tech companies; urges the Commission to bring into line with practices for other Commission officials the ethical rules for DG Competition’s Chief Economist’s Team;

Democratic strengthening of competition policy

156.  Welcomes the efforts of Ms Vestager, the current Commissioner responsible for competition, to have a regular structured dialogue with Parliament, in particular with the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs and the Working Group on Competition Policy; asks the Commission to deliver more comprehensive feedback on the specific requests made in Parliament’s annual competition report; deems that a dedicated structured dialogue could contribute to a more thorough follow-up process of the respective annual competition reports;

157.  Welcomes the Commission’s initiatives for public consultation in applying merger control and invites it to discuss the results with Parliament;

158.  Calls for extension of the dialogue between European institutions and national competition authorities, in particular to include exchanges of views with the parliamentary committees of the European Parliament;

159.  Reiterates its call to the Commission to incorporate the guidelines on the setting of fines into binding legal provisions;

International dimension of competition policy

160.  Welcomes the fact that the Commission is committed to an open and constructive exchange on competition issues globally; welcomes the progress made on competition provisions in certain Free Trade Agreements (FTAs), but also urges the Commission to continue its work on including competition and State aid provisions in the negotiations on all FTAs;

161.  Emphasises that fair competition in the area of trade, services and investment has a positive impact on social and economic development for the EU and the EU’s trade partners; calls on the Commission and the Council to swiftly finalise their work on the modernisation of the trade defence instruments, which are needed to secure fair competition in the EU market, and takes the view that trade agreements should systematically address the challenge of unfair trade practices by third countries;

162.  Calls on the Commission to work together with trade partners with a view to ensuring that their markets are more open to EU firms, particularly as regards energy, transport, telecommunications, public procurement and services, including services provided in the context of exercising regulated professions;

163.  Calls on the Commission to include ambitious provisions on competition in all trade agreements and to carry out effective monitoring to ascertain whether those provisions are properly implemented by the parties with respect to all rules, including provisions on State aid, and with respect to all economic operators, including state-owned enterprises;

164.  Emphasises the importance of supporting developing countries in their efforts to promote and implement competition rules in practice;

165.  Calls on the Commission to support efforts to set up a comprehensive, user-friendly database containing provisions on competition collated from free trade agreements, which could be run by the WTO secretariat;

166.  Welcomes the progress made at the WTO Ministerial Conference in Nairobi on the export subsidy reduction that aims to ensure undistorted competition in the international markets for agricultural products; in this context, stresses the sensitivity of the agricultural sector and the need to take clear and effective measures, including within the framework of the WTO agreements, allowing European producers to remain competitive in international markets;

167.  Reiterates that equal access to natural resources, including energy sources, has a fundamental impact on fair and equal competition on the global market and calls on the Commission to include in trade agreements provisions that improve access to such resources, including provisions on anti-competitive practices of state-owned enterprises and on non-discrimination and transit;

168.  Stresses that competition policy is an important part of the internal market, as provided for in the Treaty; reiterates that a competitive and fully-functioning single market is needed to boost sustainable growth, employment and innovation in the EU and that efforts to preserve fair competition in the EU as a whole are in the interest of consumers, start-ups and SMEs; believes that the enforcement of European legislation should not be weakened through the use of the EU pilot instead of formal infringement proceedings and that it is necessary to seek to preserve competition;

169.  Encourages the Commission not to direct all its efforts to ensure fair competition on high-profile cases against well-known big companies; reminds the Commission that the enforcement of fair competition is also of importance for SMEs;

170.  Calls for the strengthening of freedom of choice for consumers; considers that the right to data portability contained in the General Data Protection Regulation represents a good approach to strengthening both consumer rights and competition; stresses the need to examine how to ensure interoperability between digital networks by means of open standards and interfaces;

171.  Calls on the Commission to examine and correct the situation of independent retailers who are allowed under competition law to work together through their brick-and-mortar shops, but are accused of unfair competition if they provide joint e-commerce offerings;

172.  Calls on the Commission to ensure that the EU public procurement rules are implemented in a timely manner, with particular reference to the deployment of e-procurement and the new provisions encouraging the division of contracts into lots, which is essential to foster innovation and competition and to support SMEs in procurement markets;

173.  Calls on the Commission to avoid creating monopolies or closed value chains through standardisation; believes that an appeals process should be introduced to review standards where they may carry a risk of impacting competitiveness;

174.  Expresses its concern at the level of concentration in some sectors, such as the chemical sector, in light of recent mergers; requests the Commission to explain how it allows for the possibility of market entry, in particular by start-ups; asks the Commission to examine whether the market power of an enterprise resulting from information and data, and the handling of such information and data, as well as the number of users, should be taken into account as test criteria for merger control; calls for considering whether the merging of data and information, in particular on customers, could result in a distortion of competition;

175.  Regards competition in the telecommunication sector as crucial to drive innovation and investment in networks, as well as for choice in services for consumers; regards rapid broadband expansion as key to the completion of the digital single market; welcomes in this context the fact that the Commission will consider the strategic connectivity objectives, as set out in the Telecommunications Package, when applying the Broadband State aid Guidelines;

176.  Refers to the European Court of Auditors’ most recent report on non-compliance with State aid rules in cohesion policy, which notes a significant level of non-compliance and calls for a number of recommendations to be implemented; expresses concerns about these findings, as it is to the detriment of a well-functioning internal market, and, therefore, asks the Commission to take the recommendations made by the Court into consideration and to increase its efforts to avoid further defects;

177.  Supports the Commission’s actions on anti-cartel enforcement, such as recently in the retail food and optical disc drive sectors, with the aim of guaranteeing fair prices for consumers;

178.  Asks the Commission to examine whether there are any discrepancies in the sale of products in the single market, which might have a negative impact on local producers, especially SMEs;

179.  Notes that, in its resolution on the annual report on competition policy for 2014, Parliament called on the Commission to closely monitor alliances between major distributors in Europe, and welcomes the Commission’s willingness to discuss the impact of such alliances on producers and consumers within the European Competition Network;

o
o   o

180.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, and the national and, where applicable, regional competition authorities.

(1) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0310.
(2) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0292.
(3) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0346.
(4) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0004.
(5) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0051.
(6) OJ L 123, 19.5.2015, p. 1.
(7) OJ L 187, 26.6.2014, p. 1.
(8) OJ L 24, 29.1.2004, p. 1.
(9) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0394.
(10) OJ L 347, 20.12.2013, p. 671.
(11) OJ L 335, 18.12.2010, p. 43.
(12) Special Report No 24/2016 of the European Court of Auditors: ‘More efforts needed to raise awareness of and enforce compliance with State aid rules in cohesion policy’ – http://www.eca.europa.eu/Lists/ECADocuments/SR16_24/SR_STATE_AIDS_EN.pdf
(13) Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2016/1166 of 17 May 2016 amending Annex X to Regulation (EU) No 1308/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council as regards purchase terms for beet in the sugar sector as from 1 October 2017 (OJ L 193, 19.7.2016, p. 17).
(14) European Parliament resolution of 7 June 2016 on unfair trading practices in the food supply chain (P8_TA(2016)0250).
(15) Regulation (EU) No 261/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 14 March 2012 amending Council Regulation (EC) No 1234/2007 as regards contractual relations in the milk and milk products sector (OJ L 94, 30.3.2012, p. 38).
(16) OJ C 65, 19.2.2016, p. 40.


Promoting gender equality in mental health and clinical research
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European Parliament resolution of 14 February 2017 on promoting gender equality in mental health and clinical research (2016/2096(INI))
P8_TA(2017)0028A8-0380/2016

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, and in particular its Article 19 and its Article 168, which lists ensuring ‘a high level of human health protection’ among the objectives of all EU policies,

–  having regard to the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, and in particular Articles 21, 23 and 35 thereof,

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 536/2014 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 April 2014 on clinical trials on medicinal products for human use and repealing Directive 2001/20/EC,

–  having regard to Directive 2001/20/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 4 April 2001 on the approximation of the laws, regulations and administrative provisions of the Member States relating to the implementation of good clinical practice in the conduct of clinical trials on medicinal products for human use (‘the Clinical Trial Directive’),

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

–  having regard to the Commission Green Paper entitled ‘Improving the mental health of the population – Towards a strategy on mental health for the European Union’ (COM(2005)0484),

–  having regard to the EU-Compass for Action on Mental Health and Well-being,

–  having regard to the Comprehensive Mental Health Action Plan 2013-2020 of the World Health Organisation (WHO),

–  having regard to the WHO’s Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescents’ Health 2016-2030,

–  having regard to the Mental Health Declaration for Europe of 2005, signed by the WHO, the Commission and the Council of Europe,

–  having regard to the WHO’s European Mental Health Action Plan 2013-2020,

–  having regard to the European Pact for Mental Health and Well-Being of 2008,

–  having regard to the Commission’s Joint Action on Mental Health and Well-Being (2013-2016),

–  having regard to General Comment No 14 of the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights on ‘The right to the highest attainable standard of health’ (UN Doc. E/C.12/2000/4) and to General Comment No 20 on ‘Non-discrimination in economic, social and cultural rights’ (UN Doc. E/C.12/GC/2009),

–  having regard to Recommendation CM/Rec(2010)5 of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe to member states on measures to combat discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity,

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality and the opinion of the Committee on Development (A8-0380/2016),

A.  whereas the right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health is a fundamental human right and includes an obligation of non-discrimination; whereas everyone should have access to healthcare; whereas access to mental healthcare is an issue of crucial importance with a view to improving the quality of life of European citizens, fostering social inclusion and ensuring economic and cultural development in the Union;

B.  whereas in a global context marked by an ongoing economic crisis and a sharp rise in unemployment, in particular among young people and women, the incidence of mental health problems such as depression, bipolar disorders, schizophrenia, anxiety and dementia is steadily increasing;

C.  whereas the WHO defines mental health as physical, mental, and social wellbeing, and not just the absence of disease or infirmity; whereas according to the WHO, ‘mental disorders’ denotes a range of mental and behavioural disorders, such as depression, bipolar affective disorder, schizophrenia, anxiety disorders, dementia and autism; whereas the WHO defines mental health as a state of emotional and psychological wellbeing in which an individual is able to use his or her cognitive and emotional capabilities, function in society, meet the ordinary demands of everyday life, establish satisfactory and mature relationships with others, make a constructive contribution to social change and adapt to external conditions and internal conflicts;

D.  whereas mental health must be seen and addressed holistically, by taking account of social, economic, and environmental factors, requiring a psychosocial all-of-society approach to attaining the highest possible level of mental well-being for all citizens;

E.  whereas a holistic strategy on mental health and wellbeing must include a life-cycle perspective, taking into account different factors that affect individuals of different ages; whereas the specific vulnerabilities of teenage girls and older women must be taken into account;

F.  whereas physical and mental health are interlinked, and are both central to general wellbeing; whereas it is recognised that poor mental health can lead to chronic physical conditions and that those with chronic physical conditions are more likely to develop mental health conditions; whereas despite the known links between the two, research on physical health is often prioritised over that on mental health;

G.  whereas women’s and girls’ mental health is adversely affected by a variety of factors, including prevalent gender stereotypes and discrimination, objectification, gender-based violence and harassment, workplace environment, work-life balance, socio-economic conditions, absence or poor quality of mental health education, and limited access to mental healthcare;

H.  whereas almost 9 out of 10 people suffering from mental health problems say they have been affected by stigma and discrimination, and more than 7 out of 10 report that stigma and discrimination reduce their quality of life;

I.  whereas attention must be paid to geographic factors of mental health and wellbeing and to differences between urban and rural environments, inter alia in terms of demographics, access to care and service provision;

J.  whereas the hormonal changes during perimenopause, and the time after menopause, may affect a woman’s emotional health and lead to mental health problems, including depression and anxiety; whereas hypersensitivity to symptoms may hinder timely detection and appropriate treatment;

K.  whereas determinant factors of mental health and wellbeing vary between men and women and age groups; whereas factors including gender inequality, income disparities, women’s greater exposure to poverty and overwork, socio-economic discrimination, gender-based violence, malnutrition and hunger expose women further to mental health problems; whereas according to the WHO, there is no significant gender difference in the case of severe mental disorders but women have higher rates of depression, anxiety, stress, somatisation and eating disorders, while men have higher rates of substance abuse and antisocial disorders; whereas depression is the most common neuropsychiatric disorder and is more likely to affect women than men; whereas it is also the most common illness among women in the 15 to 44 age group;

L.  whereas mental health conditions and mental wellbeing are often overlooked, ignored, or suppressed, due to stigma, prejudice or lack of awareness or resources; whereas this leads many of those with mental health conditions not to seek care, and for doctors to fail to diagnose patients, or at times diagnose wrongly; whereas the diagnosis of mental health conditions is heavily gendered, with women more likely to be diagnosed with certain conditions than men;

M.  whereas in particular lesbian and bisexual women, as well as transgender and intersex persons, face specific mental health issues arising from minority stress, defined as the high levels of anxiety and stress caused by prejudice, stigmatisation and experience of discrimination, as well as medicalisation and pathologisation; whereas LGBTI people may face specific mental health and wellbeing challenges which must be taken into account in any mental health strategy;

N.  whereas the forms of somatisation occurring most frequently in women and more likely to be diagnosed in women than in men include fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue, the main symptoms being pain and exhaustion, although women have many other symptoms that are common to other diseases;

O.  whereas transgender identities are not pathological, but are deplorably still considered mental health disorders, and most Member States request such diagnoses for access to legal gender recognition or transgender-related healthcare, even though research has shown that the ‘gender identity disorder’ diagnosis is a source of significant distress for transgender persons;

P.  whereas depressive disorders account for 41,9 % of all cases of disability resulting from neuropsychiatric disorders among women, as compared to 29,3 % among men;

Q.  whereas the WHO has estimated that depression affects 350 million people; whereas by 2020 this illness will be the second leading cause of inability to work;

R.  whereas gender-variant prepubescent children are still subjected to unnecessary and harmful diagnostic practices, while every child should be able to safely explore their gender identity and expression;

S.  whereas, because of a variety of factors, primarily concerning different gender roles and gender inequalities and discrimination, depression is approximately twice as prevalent among women as it is among men, and transgender people show significantly elevated levels of suicide ideation and attempts; whereas studies show that imposed traditional gender roles negatively affect women’s mental health and wellbeing;

T.  whereas not enough attention is paid to mental health and wellbeing in education systems across Member States, or in the workplace, given that mental health is often highly stigmatised or a taboo subject; whereas education on mental health fights the stigma surrounding the subject, and it should address gender-specific vulnerabilities, gender stereotypes and discrimination facing women and girls;

U.  whereas men and boys experience gendered mental health conditions; whereas in Europe, men are almost 5 times more likely to commit suicide than women and suicide is the biggest cause of death for men under the age of 35; whereas men are 3 times more likely than women to become alcohol-dependent and are more likely to use (and die from) illegal drugs; whereas men are less likely to access psychological therapies than women; whereas men and boys face gender stereotypes surrounding masculinity which may encourage repression of emotions or resort to anger, and these have an impact on men’s mental health, as well as on the phenomenon of gender-based violence;

V.  whereas there are about 58 000 suicide cases a year in the EU and a quarter of those who commit suicide are women, and whereas suicide continues to be a major cause of death;

W.  whereas the psychosocial all-of-society approach to mental health requires policy coherence for wellbeing, coordinating healthcare, education, employment, economic and social policies in order to attain higher overall levels of mental wellbeing;

X.  whereas eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia are increasing among adolescent and post-adolescent girls;

Y.  whereas the long-term physical and mental health effects of eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia have been well documented, as has the gender dimension of their causes;

Z.  whereas at work women are more exposed to psychological and/or sexual harassment, which causes psycho-physical problems among those subjected to it;

AA.  whereas social care models that address mental illness through sport, arts, or social activities should be taken into account in public health programmes in respect of prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation;

AB.  whereas people with disabilities risk suffering exacerbated mental health conditions;

AC.  whereas sex and relationship education is key for overcoming gender stereotypes, tackling gender-based violence, and improving mental health and wellbeing for both girls and boys and women and men;

AD.  whereas mental health conditions and illnesses are one of the main causes of incapacity, adversely affecting health, education, the economy, the labour market and the EU’s welfare systems, causing large-scale economic costs and a significant adverse impact on the EU economy, giving further impetus to the need to tackle mental healthcare in a holistic, comprehensive, and gender-sensitive manner; whereas, according to a study conducted by the European Depression Association (EDA), one in 10 workers in the EU has taken time off work for depression, costing society an estimated EUR 92 billion, mainly as a result of lost productivity;

AE.  whereas above and beyond biological characteristics, women’s mental health depends on factors such as the education that they have received, the extent to which they have internalised social and cultural values, norms, and stereotypes, the way in which they have lived through and assimilated their experiences, the attitudes that they have towards themselves and others, the roles that they play, and the obstacles and pressures facing them;

AF.  whereas taking account of women’s diversity and their physiological distinctness from men, and incorporating these factors into both preventive and treatment-oriented health policies addressed to women, with specific measures targeting vulnerable and marginalised groups, would strengthen the effectiveness of those policies;

AG.  whereas for various reasons female subjects have been excluded from toxicology, biomedical research and clinical trials, and whereas large gender gaps in research limit how much we know about the difference between women’s health and men’s; whereas, as a result, biomedical research has tended to reflect predominantly a male perspective, mistakenly assuming women and men to be identical in areas where physiological differences exist; whereas there is a lack of research on the specific needs of intersex women;

AH.  whereas the exclusion and under-representation of women as subjects and of gender and sex as factors in biomedical research and clinical trials put women’s lives and health at risk;

AI.  whereas Regulation (EU) No 536/2014 on clinical trials of medicinal products for human use introduced requirements for taking account of gender in trials, but the implementation of this regulation needs to be evaluated; whereas the regulation does not specify any considerations regarding women other than for pregnant and breastfeeding women;

AJ.  whereas specific strategies to implement guidelines for the study and evaluation of gender differences in the clinical evaluation of drugs have not been developed by the European Medicines Agency (EMEA), despite the fact it has acknowledged that ‘some of the factors that influence the effect of a medicine in the population may be important when considering potential differences in response between men and women’ and that ‘gender‐specific influences can also play a significant role in drug effect’(1);

AK.  whereas the impacts of such drugs or medication as contraceptive devices, antidepressants and tranquilisers have on women’s physical and mental health are still poorly understood, and require further research with a view to eliminating harmful side-effects and improving care delivery;

AL.  whereas the sex and gender dimensions of health imply that women face a number of specific health risks over their lifetimes;

AM.  whereas there is a lack of comparable data on available, accessible and quality transgender-specific healthcare, and products used in hormone replacement therapy are not properly tested and licensed;

AN.  whereas maternal mortality is regarded as a major marker of health system efficiency, quality and performance;

AO.  whereas lack of access to of sexual and reproductive rights, including safe and legal abortion services, endangers the life and health of women and girls and of all persons with reproductive capacity, increases maternal mortality and morbidity, and leads to the denial of life-saving care and to an increased number of clandestine abortions;

AP.  whereas in all countries with available data, significant differences in health exist between socio-economic groups and between women and men, in the sense that people with lower levels of education, occupation and/or income tend to have systematically higher morbidity and mortality rates; whereas these health inequalities are one of the main challenges for public health policies today; whereas adverse socio-economic conditions, poverty and social exclusion have a significant negative impact on mental health and wellbeing;

AQ.  whereas comprehensive, age-appropriate, evidence-based, scientifically accurate and non-judgmental sexuality education, quality family planning services and access to contraception help to prevent unintended and unwanted pregnancies, reduce the need for abortion, and contribute to the prevention of HIV and STIs; whereas teaching young people to take responsibility for their own sexual and reproductive health has long-term positive effects, lasting throughout their lifetime and having positive impact on society;

AR.  whereas one in four births in the EU is now by caesarean section and, statistically, attendant health problems for mothers and children are increasing;

AS.  whereas there are already dangerous gaps in provision in some Member States as a result of closures of maternity hospitals and the considerable reduction in the number of midwives and obstetricians;

AT.  whereas restrictions and budget cuts imposed by national governments in the area of public health and education also make access to health and mental health services more difficult and this impacts disproportionately on women, especially single mothers, and on large families;

AU.  whereas female migrants, refugees and asylum seekers may additionally suffer from sometimes very serious medical conditions as a result of a lack of proper treatment or face specific problems related to reproductive health, such as complications with pregnancy and childbirth and potential additional psychological trauma such as antenatal and postnatal depression, as well as a risk of traumatic exposure to, or consequences of, (sexual) violence and abuse, and specific risks to their mental health and well-being; whereas there are several specific challenges to providing mental health care to these categories, the extent of which varies depending on a range of factors, including where the persons have come from and the amount of time they have spent in the host country;

AV.  whereas women suffer from certain forms of cancer such as breast, uterus and cervical cancers that exist predominantly among or are exclusive to women;

AW.  whereas women suffering from cancer who have been subjected to surgery and invasive treatments such as radiotherapy and chemotherapy are in general more prone to depression;

AX.  whereas 10 EU Member States have set the target of screening 100 % of the female population for breast cancer, and whereas eight have such a target for cervical cancer screening;

AY.  whereas illnesses such as osteoporosis, musculoskeletal problems and central nervous system illnesses such as Alzheimer’s and/or dementia are linked to hormonal changes that women experience at the time of menopause, or earlier because of hormonal treatments; whereas, although it is known that women are affected by these illnesses with a higher frequency than men, the gender dimension of research on such topics has been weak;

AZ.  whereas endometriosis is an incurable disease affecting about 1 in 10 women and girls (i.e. roughly 180 million women worldwide and 15 million within the EU); whereas this illness frequently leads to infertility and often causes high levels of pain and mental health problems, thus making it highly incapacitating for various aspects of work and of personal and social life;

BA.  whereas physical and psychological gender-based violence and violence against women and their impact on victim’s health constitute a fundamental barrier to the achievement of gender equality and women’s full enjoyment of the freedoms guaranteed by fundamental human rights;

BB.  whereas women and girls who are subjected to female genital mutilation are exposed to serious short- and long-term effects on their physical, psychological, sexual and reproductive health;

BC.  whereas intersex persons subject to genital mutilation also experience effects on their physical, psychological and sexual and reproductive health;

BD.  whereas transgender people are still exposed to forced sterilisation in gender recognition procedures in 13 Member States;

BE.  whereas systematic and adequate data collection on violence against women is crucial in order to ensure effective policymaking in the field, both at central and at regional and local levels, and monitor the implementation of legislation;

BF.  whereas women who have been subjected to gender-based violence suffer after-effects, often for life, in their physical and mental health; whereas according to the WHO’s World Report on Violence and Health(2), the repercussions which gender-based violence has on women can take a variety of forms: physical effects (bruising, fractures, chronic pain syndromes, disability, fibromyalgia, digestive problems, etc.); psychological and behavioural effects (alcohol and drug abuse, depression and anxiety, eating and sleep disorders, feelings of shame and guilt, phobias and panic attacks, low self-esteem, post-traumatic stress disorder, psychosomatic disorders, suicidal and self-harming behaviour, insecurity in later relationships, etc.); sexual and reproductive effects: gynaecological disorders, infertility, complications during pregnancy, miscarriages, sexual dysfunction, sexually transmitted diseases, unwanted pregnancy, etc.); and fatal effects (murder, suicide, death from a sexually transmitted disease, etc.);

Gender equality in mental health

1.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to follow up on the EU-Compass for Action on Mental Health and Well-being with an ambitious new strategy on mental health, promoting a holistic psychosocial all-of-society approach, which includes a strong gender pillar and ensures policy coherence on mental health;

2.  Notes that in the EU, 27 % of the adult population, including both men and women, have experienced at least one episode of mental illness;

3.  Calls on the Member States to take measures and allocate sufficient resources to ensure access to healthcare and specifically to mental health services – including women’s shelters – for all women, independently of their legal status, disability status, sexual orientation, gender identity, sex characteristics, race or ethnic origin, age or religion; calls on the Member States and the Commission to address the disparity in access to mental health provision;

4.  Notes that more research is needed on the mental health impact of gender-based violence, including verbal and psychological violence, harassment and intimidation;

5.  Calls on the Commission, the Member States, and local authorities to ensure that their mental health strategies address the mental health challenges that could be faced by LGBTI people; encourages Member States to implement the recommendations contained in the Council of Europe’s document CM/Rec(2010)5, and to take account of the specific needs of lesbians and bisexual and transgender persons when developing health policies, programmes and protocols;

6.  Calls on the Member States to promote the setting-up of psychological support centres for cancer patients in order to provide them with psychological support throughout their treatment and rehabilitation process;

7.  Draws attention to the serious situation faced by women with disabilities, who are more often at risk of difficulties that are directly related not only to their disabilities, but also to increased social isolation and involuntary inactivity; calls on the Member States to systematically increase the accessibility of preventive psychological care for women with disabilities, and to provide psychological support for women caring for a seriously disabled child; highlights the need for a strategy and sharing of best practices on mental health and wellbeing for women and girls with disabilities;

8.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to promote information and prevention campaigns and other initiatives to raise public awareness of mental health problems and to overcome stigma; urges the Member States and the Commission to invest in formal, informal and non-formal education for mental health and wellbeing for all age groups, with an emphasis on gender-sensitive mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety or substance abuse; calls on the Member States to ensure that schools have the appropriate frameworks in place to identify and support those suffering from mental health problems, including gender aspects, and to ensure the accessibility of mental health services; notes that 70 % of children and young people who experience a mental health problem have not received appropriate intervention at a sufficiently early age;

9.  Calls on the Commission, the Member States and the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) to increase the collection of regular data on mental health at EU and national level, and in particular on the prevalence of depression, with the data collected being disaggregated at least by sex, gender, age group and socio-economic status and including sexual and reproductive health indicators;

10.  Believes that the action taken at EU level on mental health and wellbeing should involve leading figures in the political, health, educational and social spheres, together with social partners and civil society organisations; considers it essential that mental health should cease to be a taboo subject in certain social environments;

11.  Insists that the link between socio-economic conditions, mental health and wellbeing is crucial to policy coherence on mental health, since poverty and social exclusion lead to greater mental health problems; notes that the feminisation of poverty and austerity policies that disproportionately impact women put women’s mental wellbeing at greater risk;

12.  Highlights the importance of social mental health treatment and care, such as through sport, music, arts and cultural activities, as an important element in health service delivery, and one which reduces the economic and human cost that mental health problems can bring to bear on individuals and society as a whole; calls on the Commission and the Member States to invest more in social mental health care programmes, such as social prescribing;

13.  Notes with concern that only 13 EU Member States are known to the WHO to have a national suicide prevention strategy; calls on the Commission and the Member States to establish and implement a national suicide prevention strategy and for measures to be taken to reduce the risk factors involved in suicide, such as alcohol abuse, drugs, social exclusion, depression, and stress; also calls for systems to be set up to provide support following suicide attempts;

14.  Recognises the impact of the media, and particularly the internet and social media, on mental health and wellbeing, particularly for young women and girls, and notes that more research must be done on the subject; notes that media cultures that emphasise women’s age and physical appearance potentially cause women and girls adverse effects on their mental health and wellbeing such as anxiety, depression, or obsessive behaviour; underlines that effective tools, including legal measures, must be developed to deal with online bullying, harassment and objectification; highlights the need to develop an ambitious strategy on e-mental health and wellbeing, and to promote and work with stakeholders to develop emerging e-therapies; recognises that a media strategy on mental health must involve all stakeholders, including publishers and the advertising industry, who must adopt ethical standards so as to avoid the objectification of women and promotion of gender stereotypes;

15.  Points out that some women have a distorted perception of their image due to media, stereotyped advertising and social pressure, and develop eating and behavioural disorders, for instance anorexia, bulimia, orthorexia, binge eating disorder, or bigorexia; supports a gender-sensitive approach to eating disorders and the need to mainstream it within the discourse on health and in information addressed to the general public; calls on the Member States to set up assistance and support contact points in schools to provide psychological support to students, in particular adolescent girls, who are more prone to developing eating disorders;

16.  Welcomes the fact that, for the first time, world leaders are recognising the promotion of mental health and wellbeing and the prevention and treatment of substance abuse as health priorities within the global development agenda;

17.  Raises serious concerns over the provision of mental health care and facilities to refugee women and girls in Europe, particularly those living in makeshift conditions across Member States; highlights that detention of refugees and asylum seekers without effectively and efficiently processing their asylum claims is in violation of international law and has a negative impact on their mental health and wellbeing; calls on the Member States to protect women asylum seekers in detention, and stresses that these women are to be provided with immediate protection, including ending detention, speeding up relocation and promoting support and counselling; calls on the Member States to delink health policies from immigration control by allowing access to basic healthcare services and not imposing a duty to report undocumented migrants on healthcare practitioners; asks the Member States, moreover, to implement the multi-agency guidelines on protecting and supporting the mental health and psychosocial wellbeing of refugees, asylum-seekers and migrants in Europe, as prepared by WHO/Europe, UNHCR and IOM;

18.  Points out that women often have to work a two-in-one working day, that is to say, a day’s work at their place of employment and a day’s work at home, because men do not devote themselves sufficiently to the responsibility of household tasks and bringing up daughters and sons, causing many women to suffer from depression, anxiety, and stress, in addition to feelings of guilt at their failure to look after the family in the proper way, that being the role traditionally assigned to women;

19.  Condemns a widespread new sexist stereotype which has it that the modern woman has to shine in her studies and at work, but must satisfy traditional expectations by being a good wife and home-maker and a perfect mother while also keeping her looks, a behaviour pattern that causes many women to feel stress and anxiety;

20.  Calls on the Commission, the Member States and local authorities to develop specific tailored policies in order to provide mental health services to groups of vulnerable women in marginalised communities and to those facing intersectional discrimination, such as refugee and migrant women, women facing poverty and social exclusion, intersex and transgender persons, ethnic minority women, women with disabilities, older women, and women in rural areas;

21.  Highlights the importance of a life-cycle approach to mental health, where every age-group’s needs are addressed in a coherent and comprehensive manner, with an emphasis on adolescent girls and older women, who on average report a lower rate of life satisfaction than men of the same age groups;

22.  Recommends that in the case of pregnancy, mental healthcare should begin as soon as possible in the first trimester, in order to make it possible to identify specific conditions that may require surveillance, recognise social problems for which women may need help from social or mental health services and inform women on pregnancy-related issues; calls for greater comprehensive and local obstetric care provision, extending to midwives and obstetricians, to be guaranteed in all EU Member States, and stresses the particular significance of that challenge for rural areas; stresses that psychological healthcare is just as important as physical healthcare and notes that between 10 and 15 % of women in the EU who have just given birth suffer from postnatal depression; stresses the importance of women having access to psychological and medical care after miscarriages and the need for a sensitive and personal approach; calls on the Commission and the Member States to promote, develop and provide early detection and treatment of postpartum psychosis and depression;

23.  Underlines that social and employment policies, particularly policies on work-life balance, must take a holistic approach taking women’s mental health and wellbeing into account, and calls on the Commission and the Member States to work together with trade unions, employers, health professionals and civil society in order to develop a holistic and gender-sensitive approach to mental wellbeing at work; notes the importance of providing mental health training to those in management positions in both private and public sectors;

24.  Recognises the important role of formal and informal carers, who are overwhelmingly women, in mental healthcare; calls for particular attention to be paid to the role of formal and informal carers in mental health, and particularly to the role of women carers, as well as action to protect the mental health and wellbeing of the carers themselves;

25.  Urges the Commission and the Member States to include the mental health and wellbeing challenges faced by men and boys due to gender stereotypes leading to a greater likelihood of substance abuse and suicide than is the case for women; underlines that policies on men’s mental health must also take into account the perspectives of age and lifespan, socio-economic condition, social exclusion, and geographic factors;

Gender equality in clinical trials

26.  Underlines the fact that clinical trials of pharmaceutical products on both men and women are necessary and that these should be inclusive, non-discriminatory and performed under conditions of equality, inclusion and non-marginalisation, as well as being reasonably reflective of the population that would use the products; suggests that clinical trials should also take account of specific vulnerable population groups such as paediatric and geriatric patients and persons from ethnic minorities; is of the opinion that gender-disaggregated data should also be collected after commercialisation of the products, in order to record the different side-effects, alongside research and data on the implementation of the relevant EU legislation by Member States;

27.  Expresses its deep concern at the fact that the failure to improve women’s representation in clinical trials and biomedical research results in putting women’s health and lives at risk, and emphasises that clinical trial methodologies and design must allow for stratified analysis by age and gender; stresses, therefore, the urgent need to incorporate gender differences into clinical procedures in the mental health field;

28.  Highlights the importance of the publication of the results of clinical trials so that the methodology is transparent and accessible;

29.  Recalls that infectious diseases (e.g. HIV and malaria) and adverse pregnancy outcomes (e.g. stillbirth) are highest in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs); calls for pregnant women to be included in clinical trials as a way to reduce morbidity and mortality in mothers and infants;

30.  Demands that the labels on pharmaceutical products clearly indicate whether trials on women took place or not, and whether men and women may expect different side-effects; calls on the Member States to encourage research on the long-term effects of products used in hormone replacement therapy;

31.  Asks the Commission to incentivise projects at EU level focused on how women are treated in clinical research; considers that such projects should involve health authorities at all levels and the pharmaceutical industry, by way of developing specific strategies for implementing the guidelines on studying and assessing gender differences in clinical trials;

32.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to invest in awareness-raising campaigns to encourage women to participate in clinical trials;

33.  Urges the EMEA to draw up separate guidelines for women as a special population in clinical trials;

34.  Calls on the Member States, when applying Regulation (EU) No 536/2014 in clinical trials of medicinal products for human use, to use a methodological approach for clinical trials that guarantees an adequate representation of men and women, paying special attention to transparency as regards the gender composition of participants, and, when considering the proper implementation of this regulation, to specifically monitor the level of representation of men and women;

35.  Urges Member States, the EMEA, and relevant stakeholders to ensure that sex and gender factors are introduced at the earliest stages of research and development of medication, before the stage of clinical trials; emphasises the need for improved sharing of best practice among research institutions and healthcare providers across Europe on the subject;

36.  Underlines that urgent action is required to correct gender gaps in clinical trials in areas of health where such gaps are particularly harmful, such as in medication for Alzheimer’s, cancer, treatment of strokes, anti-depressants, and cardiovascular diseases;

37.  Emphasises that concerted action must be taken by researchers and all relevant stakeholders to eliminate harmful side-effects of medication that specifically affect women, as in the case of anti-depressants, contraceptives and other medicines, in order to improve women’s health and the quality of healthcare;

38.  Notes with concern that gender discrimination and inequality occur in health and social care research in developing countries, thereby affecting the development of appropriate and targeted treatments; points out, in particular, that patients in developing countries are inadequately represented in pharmacological research; notes that special populations, including children and pregnant women, have been neglected in tuberculosis drug development; stresses the need to collect and store samples for pharmacogenetic study in future clinical trials based on gender; recalls that women’s different biological and physiological make-up requires proper information about the effect of drugs on their bodies;

39.  Notes with concern that the increase in offshoring medicine testing to Africa and other underdeveloped regions may result in serious ethical violations and infringements of fundamental EU principles such as the right to health protection and healthcare; points out that not having access to affordable healthcare, health insurance or affordable medicine, gives vulnerable people, particularly women, no other choice but to participate in clinical trials in order to receive medical treatment, possibly unaware of any risks entailed;

40.  Notes that it is a proven fact that women take greater quantities of psychotropic drugs than men, but that there are very few studies on gender differences regarding the effect of those drugs, which are prescribed for women and men without distinction and in the same doses; expresses its concern at the fact that women suffer to a greater extent from adverse effects of psychotropic drugs because they are excluded from clinical trials and no account is taken, therefore, of the female physiology; also points out that women, seek more often than men to resolve their mental problems with the aid of psychotherapy;

General remarks

41.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States:

   (a) to promote healthcare by ensuring easy access to services and the provision of adequate information tailored to men’s and women’s specific needs and the exchange of best practice in the field of mental health and clinical research;
   (b) to take stock of the specific health needs of women and men and to ensure the integration of a gender perspective in their health policies, programmes and research, from their development and design to impact assessment and budgeting;
   (c) to ensure that prevention strategies specifically target women who are at risk of intersectional discrimination such as Roma women, women with disabilities, lesbians and bisexual women, migrants and women refugees and women living in poverty, as well as transgender and intersex people;
   (d) to recognise gender-based violence and violence against women as a public health issue, as stated in WHO Resolution WHA49.25 of 25 May 1996, which directly impacts on women’s mental health and wellbeing;
   (e) to ensure rapid development of the EU-wide survey on the prevalence of gender-based violence for implementation within the European Statistical System, as confirmed in Eurostat’s 2016 work programme, and to collect regular, disaggregated data, in particular on the prevalence of depression, this data being disaggregated at least by sex, age group and socio-economic status;
   (f) to support civil society and women’s organisations that promote women’s rights, and to work to ensure that women have a voice in European and national health policy issues and that European and national health policies respond to their needs;
   (g) to incentivise programmes that address the specific needs of women concerning illnesses such as osteoporosis, musculoskeletal problems and central nervous system illnesses such as Alzheimer’s and/or dementia, including those that inform women about prevention methods and offer training to medical staff;
   (h) to pay extra attention to the special needs of women diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome or fibromyalgia by providing them with adequate high-quality health care services;
   (i) to increase funding to foster research on the causes and possible treatment of endometriosis, as well as the drafting of clinical guidelines and the creation of reference centres; to promote information, prevention and awareness-raising campaigns on endometriosis, and to provide means for the training of specialised health professionals and for research initiatives;

42.  Calls on the Member States to adopt policies for improving the average health level of the population by eliminating the health inequalities affecting disadvantaged socio-economic groups; calls, in this context, for active engagement in a range of policy sectors, with regard not only to public health and healthcare systems, but also education, social security, work/life balance and city planning, always engaging with a clear gender equality perspective;

43.  Calls on the governments of developing countries to mainstream gender in mental health policy, and to develop policies and programmes that address both the specific needs of women for mental health treatment and the social origins of psychological distress; notes with concern that, especially in Least Developed Countries, the exclusion of women from biomedical research is often the result of lack of information and awareness campaigns, the roles they play as mothers and caregivers and their lack of decision-making freedom in their households; strongly believes that better balance in gender roles and obligations, income security, equal access to education, labour market integration, more effective measures to promote work-life balance, especially for single mothers, the development of social safety nets and poverty reduction would further redress gender disparities in mental health;

44.  Considers that sexual and reproductive rights include access to legal and safe abortion, reliable, safe and affordable contraception, and comprehensive sexuality and relationship education;

45.  Considers it regrettable that sexual and reproductive rights are severely limited and/or apply only subject to certain conditions in several EU Member States;

46.  Is of the opinion that the increasing number of medical professionals who refuse to perform abortions in Member States represents another threat to the health and rights of women; urges the Member States to ensure that there is at least a minimum number of health professionals available to perform abortions in hospitals;

47.  Calls on the Member States to prevent, ban and prosecute the forced sterilisation of women, a phenomenon that affects in particular women with disabilities, transgender and intersex persons, and Roma women;

48.  Underlines the fact that screening procedures in the early stages of cancer, along with information programmes, are considered to be among the most effective cancer prevention measures, and calls on the Member States to ensure that all women and girls have access to such screenings;

49.  Stresses that empowering women and promoting gender equality is crucial to accelerating sustainable development and thus ending all forms of discrimination against women and girls, including those occurring in mental health and clinical research, and is not only a basic human right, but also has a multiplier effect across all other development areas (UN Sustainable Development Goal 5);

50.  Considers that the Member States have an obligation to guarantee local obstetric care provision as a public service and to ensure that midwives are available in rural and mountain regions too;

51.  Calls on the Member States’ health authorities to recognise endometriosis as an incapacitating illness, since this would allow the women affected to be treated free of charge, even in the case of costly treatments and/or surgery, and would permit special sick leave from work during the most acute periods, thus avoiding stigmatisation in the workplace;

52.  Urges the Member States, the Commission and relevant agencies to ensure full access to high-quality physical and mental healthcare for all refugees, asylum seekers and migrants, particularly vulnerable women and girls, as a matter of universal human rights and, in the longer term, to adequately prepare their national health systems for incoming refugees and asylum seekers; highlights the need for gender-sensitive mental health training of immigration, asylum, and law enforcement staff and officials who work with refugees, asylum seekers and immigrants, especially those who work with vulnerable women and girls; considers that these necessary healthcare measures should include provisions such as safe accommodation and sanitary facilities for women and children, legal counselling and access to sexual and reproductive health and rights, including contraception, support for survivors of sexual violence, and safe and legal abortion;

53.  Calls on the EU and the Member States to put an immediate end to current austerity policies and cuts in public spending which affect services that are crucial to the attainment of a high level of healthcare protection for all women and men and girls and boys in the EU, regardless of their background or legal status;

54.  Calls on the Member States to ensure free access to health services for unemployed women, women in rural areas and women pensioners on low incomes who cannot pay for medical checks and treatment themselves;

55.  Recommends that after the birth of a disabled child or a child with a life-threatening illness women should be provided with special support, including free access to long-term paediatric home care, palliative paediatric care and specialised and easily accessible psychological support;

56.  Stresses that the achievement of the right to health for all prevails over the protection of intellectual property rights and depends on investment in European health research, including health technologies and drugs for poverty-related and neglected diseases (PRNDs);

57.  Deplores the cutting of public health budgets by Member States, and is disappointed at the fact that the annual budgets for programmes designed to prevent gender-based violence and violence against women in all Member States are much less than the actual cost of such violence, be it economic, social or moral in nature; supports the Member States in increasing expenditure to support programmes aimed at preventing violence against women and effectively helping and protecting victims;

58.  Calls on the Member States to take measures in the health-related field of early detection and support to victims of gender-based violence, and to apply health protocols in cases of assault, which should be referred to the appropriate courts with a view to speeding up the legal procedure; also calls on the Member States to guarantee the right of access to information and integrated social assistance, to be provided through permanent urgent care services specialising in multidisciplinary professional services;

59.  Welcomes the moves by the Commission for ratification by the EU of the Istanbul Convention, and regrets that many Member States have not yet ratified it; urges the Council to ensure the accession of the EU to the Istanbul Convention as soon as possible;

60.  Stresses that prostitution is also a health issue, as it has detrimental health impacts on persons in prostitution, who are more likely to suffer from sexual, physical and mental health traumas, drug and alcohol addiction, and loss of self-respect, as well as a higher mortality rate, than the general population; adds and stresses that many of the sex buyers ask for unprotected commercial sex, which increases the risk of detrimental health impacts, both for persons in prostitution and for the buyers;

61.  Calls on the Member States to prevent, ban and prosecute female genital mutilation and genital mutilation affecting intersex persons, and to provide mental health support, in conjunction with physical care, to victims and to those individuals likely to be targeted;

62.  Encourages the Commission and the Member States to pay special attention to the most vulnerable or disadvantaged groups, and to launch intervention programmes for them;

63.  Considers that the lack of comparable, comprehensive, reliable and regularly updated gender-disaggregated data results in discrimination for women’s health;

64.  Recalls that healthcare and health policy are a competence of the Member States and that the role of the Commission is complementary to national policies;

o
o   o

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

(1) EMEA/CHMP/3916/2005 – ICH http://www.ema.europa.eu/docs/en_GB/document_library/Scientific_guideline/2010/01/WC500059887.pdf
(2) Krug, Dahlberg, Mercy, Zwi and Lozano, 2002.


Priorities for the 61st session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women
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European Parliament recommendation of 14 February 2017 to the Council on the EU priorities for the 61st session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (2017/2001(INI))
P8_TA(2017)0029A8-0018/2017

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the proposal for a recommendation to the Council by Constance Le Grip, on behalf of the PPE Group, and Maria Arena, on behalf of the S&D Group, on the EU priorities for the 61st session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (B8‑1365/2016),

–  having regard to the Council conclusions of 26 May 2015 on Gender in Development and on A New Global Partnership for Poverty Eradication and Sustainable Development after 2015, and of 16 December 2014 on a transformative post-2015 agenda,

–  having regard to the 61st session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) and its priority theme ‘Women’s economic empowerment in the changing world of work’,

–  having regard to the Fourth World Conference on Women, held in Beijing in September 1995, the Declaration and Platform for Action adopted in Beijing and the subsequent outcome documents of the United Nations Beijing +5, +10, +15, +20 Special Sessions on further actions and initiatives to implement the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, adopted on 9 June 2000, 11 March 2005, 2 March 2010 and 9 March 2015 respectively,

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

–  having regard to Rule 113 of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality (A8-0018/2017),

A.  whereas equality between women and men is a fundamental principle of the EU, enshrined in the Treaty on European Union, and one of its objectives and tasks, and whereas the EU is also guided by this principle in its external action as both dimensions should be coordinated;

B.  whereas women’s human rights and gender equality are not only fundamental human rights, but preconditions for advancing development and reducing poverty and a necessary foundation for a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable world;

C.  whereas harassment and violence against women encompass a wide range of human rights violations; whereas any one of these abuses can leave deep psychological scars and involve physical or sexual harm or suffering, threats of such acts and coercion, damage the general health of women and girls, including their reproductive and sexual health, and in some instances result in death;

D.  whereas on 23 January 2017 US President Donald Trump reinstated the so‑called ‘global gag’ rule, which prevents international organisations from receiving any US global health assistance if they provide, counsel for, refer to or advocate for abortion services - even if they are doing so with their own, non-US funds and even if abortion is legal in their country; whereas programmes which address HIV/AIDS, maternal and child health, Zika response efforts and other health and disease areas will now be affected; whereas this rule will set back years of gains made in advancing the health and wellbeing of communities worldwide, especially in the area of women’s and girls’ rights, and could undercut healthcare access for millions worldwide;

E.  whereas the fifth Sustainable Development Goal (SDG5) is to achieve gender equality and to empower all women and girls worldwide; whereas SDG5 is a stand-alone goal, meaning that it has to be mainstreamed into the whole 2030 Agenda and the realisation of all SDGs; whereas empowering women means providing them with the necessary tools to become economically independent, be represented equally across society, play an equal role in all spheres of life, and gain more power in public life and control over all decisions impacting their lives;

F.  whereas women are important economic agents worldwide and women’s economic participation can stimulate the economy, create jobs and build inclusive prosperity; whereas countries that value and empower women to participate fully in the labour market and decision-making are more stable, prosperous and secure; whereas gender budgeting is smart economics and ensures that public spending serves the advancement of equality between women and men;

G.  whereas female creativity and entrepreneurial potential are under-exploited sources of economic growth and jobs that should be further developed;

H.  whereas 20 years after Beijing, despite solid evidence that women’s empowerment is central to reducing poverty, promoting development and addressing the world’s most urgent challenges, EU governments recognised that no country had fully achieved equality between women and men and empowerment for women and girls, that progress had been slow and uneven, that major gaps and forms of discrimination remained and that new challenges had emerged in the implementation of the Platform for Action’s 12 critical areas of concern;

I.  whereas the EU plays an important role in fostering the empowerment of women and girls, within the EU as well as worldwide, by political and financial means; whereas the EU must play the key role of guardian of language on women’s human rights agreed by the UN and the EU;

J.  whereas women continue to produce around 80 % of food in the poorest countries and are currently the main guardians of biodiversity and crop seeds;

K.  whereas the land is not only a means of production, but a place of culture and identity; whereas access to land is therefore a fundamental component of life and an inalienable right for peasant and indigenous women;

1.  Addresses the following recommendation to the Council:

General conditions for empowering women and girls

Enhancing women’s economic empowerment and overcoming barriers on the labour market

Ensuring women’s equal share at all levels of decision-making

Addressing the needs of the most marginalised women

Translating these commitments into expenditure and making them more visible

   (a) Confirm its commitment to the Beijing Platform for Action and to the range of actions for women’s human rights and gender equality outlined therein; confirm its commitment to the twin-track approach to women’s human rights, through gender mainstreaming in all policy areas and the implementation of specific actions for women’s human rights and gender equality;
   (b) Encourage policies to invest in women’s and girls’ equal access to high-quality education and vocational training, including formal, informal and non-formal education, and to eliminate gender disparities in these fields and across all sectors, particularly those traditionally dominated by men;
   (c) Combat all forms of violence against women and girls in the public and private spheres as a serious breach of their physical and psychological integrity preventing them from realising their full potential; advance towards the full ratification of the Istanbul Convention by all parties;
   (d) Consider that the UN, the EU and its Member States, in order to become more efficient actors globally, must also step up their domestic efforts to eliminate violence against women and gender-based violence; reiterate, therefore, its call on the Commission to propose an EU strategy to combat violence against women, including a directive laying down minimum standards; in this context, also call on all parties to sign and ratify the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence;
   (e) Devise policies to promote and support decent work and full employment for all women;
   (f) Ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health care and reproductive rights as agreed in the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development, the Beijing Platform for Action and the outcome documents of the review conferences thereof; provide age-appropriate sexual education to girls and boys, young women and young men in order to reduce early undesired pregnancies or the spread of sexually transmitted diseases;
   (g) Strongly condemn the ‘global gag’ rule, which prohibits international organisations from receiving US family planning funding if they provide, counsel for, refer to or lobby for abortion services; consider this rule as a direct attack on and a setback for gains made for women’s and girls’ rights; call, as a matter of urgency, on the EU and its Member States to counter the impact of the gag rule by significantly increasing sexual and reproductive health and rights funding and launching an international fund to finance access to birth control and safe and legal abortion, using both national as well as EU development funding, in order to fill the financing gap left after the Trump administration’s moves to cease funding all overseas aid organisations that provide sexual and reproductive health and rights services;
   (h) Eliminate the gender pay, lifelong earnings and pension gaps;
   (i) End all forms of discrimination against women in laws and policies at all levels;
   (j) Combat all forms of gender stereotypes perpetuating inequality, violence and discrimination, in all spheres of society;
   (k) Support women’s organisations at all levels in their work; involve them as partners in policymaking and ensure adequate funding;
   (l) Apply gender budgeting, as a tool of gender mainstreaming, to all public expenditure;
   (m) Call on all parties to ratify and implement the CEDAW, giving special attention to Articles 1, 4, 10, 11, 13, 14 and 15;
   (n) Urge all parties to enact policies and laws ensuring equal access to work and equal pay for equal work and work of equal value;
   (o) Continue and intensify work towards policies supporting and promoting female entrepreneurship in the context of decent work and the removal of all barriers and social prejudices in establishing and running a business, including improving access to financial services, credit, venture capital and markets under equal conditions and encouraging access to information, training and networks for business purposes; in this context, recognise and promote the role of social enterprise, cooperatives and alternative business models in women’s empowerment;
   (p) Recognise that macro-economic policies, particularly on budget discipline and public services, have a disproportionate impact on women, and that these gender impacts must be taken into account by policymakers;
   (q) Promote new investment in social care infrastructure, education and health care and in public provision of accessible, affordable and quality care services throughout the life cycle, including care for children, dependents and the elderly; ensure strong protection and labour rights for pregnant women during and after their pregnancies;
   (r) Support policies that favour the equal sharing of domestic and care responsibilities between women and men;
   (s) Support the establishment of an ILO convention to provide an international standard to address gender-based violence in the workplace;
   (t) Implement policies to address the phenomenon of political violence against women, including physical violence, intimidation and online harassment;
   (u) Take effective measures to abolish child labour, since millions of female children are exploited; introduce new mechanisms in current EU legislation to avoid the import of products produced using child labour;
   (v) Encourage women and girls through awareness raising campaigns and support programmes to enter academic and research careers in all scientific fields, with a special focus on the technology and digital economy;
   (w) Ensure coherence between EU internal and external policies and the Sustainable Development Goals;
   (x) Protect civil and political rights and support ensuring gender balance in decision-making at all levels, including political decision-making, economic policy and programmes, workplaces, business or academia;
   (y) Involve social partners, civil society and women’s organisations in economic decision-making;
   (z) Strengthen women’s leadership and participation in decision-making in conflict and post-conflict situations and ensure women’s access to jobs, markets and political participation and leadership in countries emerging out of conflicts, all of which are essential for stability;
   (aa) Facilitate land ownership and access to credit for rural women and promote, encourage and support female entrepreneurial initiatives in rural areas, to enable women to become economically independent and to fully participate in and benefit from sustainable and rural development; protect and promote short food supply chains, through active policies at both internal and external level in the EU;
   (ab) Establish internal and international rules that guarantee limits to the extensive land grabbing that goes against the interests of small owners, especially women;
   (ac) Call for the engagement of rural women’s organisations in local, regional, national and global policymaking and support women’s networks in the exchange of experience and good practice, particularly where women’s lives could be affected by the relevant decisions;
   (ad) Call on all countries to ratify and implement the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, including Article 6 thereof entitled ‘Women with disabilities’;
   (ae) Emphasise the right of migrant women workers, especially migrant and refugee domestic workers, to decent working conditions and equal social protection; call for the ratification and implementation of ILO Convention 189;
   (af) Urge all parties to implement policies that guarantee the rights and humane treatment of women and girl refugees;
   (ag) Ensure that gender-based persecution is considered as a basis for an asylum claim under the 1951 UN Convention relating to the Status of Refugees;
   (ah) Emphasise the need to protect and promote the rights of LGBTI women;
   (ai) Call on the CSW, together with the CEDAW Committee, to institutionalise an intersectional approach to their analysis, and to promote the concept of combating multiple discrimination through intersectional analysis throughout all UN bodies;
   (aj) Pursue policies to address the situation of women facing poverty and social exclusion;
   (ak) Recognise the role of women as formal and informal carers, and implement policies to improve the conditions under which they provide care;
   (al) Mobilise the resources required to realise women’s economic rights and reduce gender inequality, including through the use of the existing instruments at EU and Member State level, such as gender impact assessments; use gender budgeting for public expenditure to ensure equality between women and men and remove all gender inequalities;
   (am) Ensure the full involvement of Parliament and its Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality in the decision-making process regarding the EU’s position at the 61st session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women;
   (an) Express its strong support for the work of UN Women, which is a central actor in the UN system for eliminating violence against women and girls worldwide and bringing together all relevant stakeholders in order to generate policy change and coordinate actions; call on all UN member states, as well as on the EU, to increase their funding for UN Women;

2.  Instructs its President to forward this recommendation to the Council and, for information, to the Commission.

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