Index 
Texts adopted
Thursday, 2 March 2017 - BrusselsFinal edition
Request for the waiver of the immunity of Marine Le Pen
 EU-Lebanon Euro-Mediterranean Agreement (accession of Croatia) ***
 EU-Liechtenstein Agreement on supplementary rules in relation to the instrument for financial support for external borders and visa ***
 Information exchange mechanism with regard to intergovernmental agreements and non-binding instruments in the field of energy ***I
 Obligations in the field of visa reciprocity
 Options for improving access to medicines
 Implementation of the Creative Europe programme
 Implementation of the Europe for Citizens programme
 Common Commercial Policy in the context of wildlife sustainability imperatives

Request for the waiver of the immunity of Marine Le Pen
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European Parliament decision of 2 March 2017 on the request for waiver of the immunity of Marine Le Pen (2016/2295(IMM))
P8_TA(2017)0056A8-0047/2017

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the request for waiver of the immunity of Marine Le Pen forwarded on 5 October 2016 by Jean-Jacques Urvoas, French Minister of Justice, in connection with an investigation being conducted by the Nanterre Regional Court into the posting by Ms Le Pen of violent Islamist images on her Twitter account,

–  having heard Jean-François Jalkh, representing Marine Le Pen, in accordance with Rule 9(6) of its Rules of Procedure,

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

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

–  having regard to Article 26 of the Constitution of the French Republic,

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Legal Affairs (A8-0047/2017),

A.  whereas the French judicial authorities have requested that the immunity of Marine Le Pen, Member of the European Parliament and Chair of the Front National (FN) party, should be waived in connection with proceedings relating to the posting on her Twitter account, on 16 December 2015, of violent images showing the murder of three hostages by the terrorist group Daesh, together with the comment ‘This is Daesh’, following an interview broadcast on RMC in which a comparison was drawn between the rise of the FN and the activities of Daesh;

B.  whereas it is the established practice of the European Parliament that immunity may be waived where opinions expressed and/or images that are the subject of legal action have no clear or direct connection with the performance of parliamentary duties by the Member of the European Parliament against whom proceedings are being brought and do not constitute opinions expressed or votes cast in the performance of those duties, within the meaning of Article 8 of Protocol No 7 on the Privileges and Immunities of the European Union and Article 26 of the Constitution of the French Republic;

C.  whereas, furthermore, Article 9 of that Protocol stipulates that Members of the European Parliament ‘shall enjoy, in the territory of their own State, the immunities accorded to members of their parliament’;

D.  whereas the dissemination of violent images likely to undermine human dignity is an offence covered by Articles 227-24, 227-29 and 227-31 of the Criminal Code of the French Republic;

E.  whereas Article 6-1 of French Law No 2004-575 of 21 June 2004 on confidence in the digital economy, transposing Directive 2000/31/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 8 June 2000 on certain legal aspects of information society services, in particular electronic commerce, in the internal market ('Directive on electronic commerce'), covers the activities of information society service providers, not individuals;

F.  whereas, although the images posted by Ms Le Pen can be accessed by anyone via Google and have been widely reposted on the internet since they appeared on her Twitter account, this does not alter the fact that their violent nature is likely to undermine human dignity;

G.  whereas the family of the hostage James Foley asked for the three photographs to be removed on 17 December 2015, i.e. following an intervention by the judicial authorities, and whereas, in response to that request, Marine Le Pen removed only the photograph of James Foley;

H.  whereas the speed at which legal proceedings have been taken against Marine Le Pen is comparable to the pace of other proceedings in matters relating to the press and other media, and whereas there therefore is no reason to suspect that this may be a case of ‘fumus persecutionis’, i.e. a situation in which there are signs or evidence of an intent to damage a Member’s political activity;

I.  whereas Article 26 of the Constitution of the French Republic stipulates that no member of parliament may be arrested for a crime or be the subject of any other custodial or semi-custodial measure without the authorisation of the parliament;

J.  whereas it is not for the European Parliament to take a stance on the guilt or otherwise of the Member or whether the acts attributed to her warrant the opening of criminal proceedings;

1.  Decides to waive the immunity of Marine Le Pen;

2.  Instructs its President to forward this decision and the report of its committee responsible immediately to the competent authority of the French Republic and to Marine Le Pen.

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


EU-Lebanon Euro-Mediterranean Agreement (accession of Croatia) ***
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European Parliament legislative resolution of 2 March 2017 on the draft Council decision on the conclusion, on behalf of the European Union and its Member States, of a Protocol to the Euro-Mediterranean Agreement establishing an Association between the European Community and its Member States, of the one part, and the Republic of Lebanon, of the other part, to take account of the accession of the Republic of Croatia to the European Union (05748/2016 – C8-0171/2016 – 2015/0292(NLE))
P8_TA(2017)0057A8-0027/2017

(Consent)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the draft Council decision (05748/2016),

–  having regard to the draft Protocol to the Euro-Mediterranean Agreement establishing an Association between the European Community and its Member States, of the one part, and the Republic of Lebanon of the other part, to take account of the accession of the Republic of Croatia to the European Union (05750/2016),

–  having regard to the request for consent submitted by the Council in accordance with Article 217 and Article 218(6), second subparagraph, point (a) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (C8‑0171/2016),

–  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 Foreign Affairs (A8-0027/2017),

1.  Gives its consent to conclusion of the Protocol;

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


EU-Liechtenstein Agreement on supplementary rules in relation to the instrument for financial support for external borders and visa ***
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European Parliament legislative resolution of 2 March 2017 on the draft Council decision on the conclusion on behalf of the European Union of the Agreement between the European Union and the Principality of Liechtenstein on supplementary rules in relation to the instrument for financial support for external borders and visa, as part of the Internal Security Fund for the period 2014 to 2020 (12852/2016 – C8-0515/2016 – 2016/0247(NLE))
P8_TA(2017)0058A8-0025/2017

(Consent)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the draft Council decision (12852/2016),

–  having regard to the draft Agreement between the European Union and the Principality of Liechtenstein on supplementary rules in relation to the instrument for financial support for external borders and visa, as part of the Internal Security Fund for the period 2014 to 2020 (12881/2016),

–  having regard to the request for consent submitted by the Council in accordance with Article 77(2), point (a) and Article 218(6), second subparagraph, point (a)(v), of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (C8‑0515/2016),

–  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 Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (A8-0025/2017),

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 Principality of Liechtenstein.


Information exchange mechanism with regard to intergovernmental agreements and non-binding instruments in the field of energy ***I
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Resolution
Text
European Parliament legislative resolution of 2 March 2017 on the proposal for a decision of the European Parliament and of the Council on establishing an information exchange mechanism with regard to intergovernmental agreements and non-binding instruments between Member States and third countries in the field of energy and repealing Decision No 994/2012/EU (COM(2016)0053 – C8-0034/2016 – 2016/0031(COD))
P8_TA(2017)0059A8-0305/2016

(Ordinary legislative procedure: first reading)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Commission proposal to Parliament and the Council (COM(2016)0053),

–  having regard to Article 294(2) and Article 194(2) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, pursuant to which the Commission submitted the proposal to Parliament (C8‑0034/2016),

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

–  having regard to the reasoned opinions submitted, within the framework of Protocol No 2 on the application of the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality, by the French Senate, the Maltese Parliament, the Austrian Federal Council and the Portuguese Parliament, asserting that the draft legislative act does not comply with the principle of subsidiarity,

–  having regard to the opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee of 21 September 2016(1),

–  having regard to the undertaking given by the Council representative by letter of 16 December 2016 to approve Parliament’s position, in accordance with Article 294(4) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy and the opinions of the Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Committee on International Trade (A8-0305/2016),

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

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

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

Position of the European Parliament adopted at first reading on 2 March 2017 with a view to the adoption of Decision (EU) 2017/… of the European Parliament and of the Council on establishing an information exchange mechanism with regard to intergovernmental agreements and non-binding instruments between Member States and third countries in the field of energy, and repealing Decision No 994/2012/EU

(As an agreement was reached between Parliament and Council, Parliament's position corresponds to the final legislative act, Decision (EU) 2017/684.)

(1) OJ C 487, 28.12.2016, p. 81.


Obligations in the field of visa reciprocity
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European Parliament resolution of 2 March 2017 on obligations of the Commission in the field of visa reciprocity in accordance with Article 1(4) of Regulation (EC) No 539/2001 (2016/2986(RSP))
P8_TA(2017)0060B8-0173/2017

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to Council Regulation (EC) No 539/2001(1), in particular Article 1(4) thereof (‘the reciprocity mechanism’),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 12 April 2016 entitled ‘State of play and the possible ways forward as regards the situation of non-reciprocity with certain third countries in the area of visa policy’ (COM(2016)0221),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 13 July 2016 entitled ‘State of play and the possible ways forward as regards the situation of non-reciprocity with certain third countries in the area of visa policy (Follow-up of the Communication of 12 April)’ (COM(2016)0481),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 21 December 2016 entitled ‘State of play and the possible ways forward as regards the situation of non-reciprocity with certain third countries in the area of visa policy (Follow-up to the Communication of 12 April)’ (COM(2016)0816),

–  having regard to Article 17 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU) and Articles 80, 265 and 290 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU),

–  having regard to its debate on ‘Obligations in the field of visa reciprocity’ held on 14 December 2016 in Strasbourg,

–  having regard to the question to the Commission on obligations of the Commission in the field of visa reciprocity in accordance with Article 1(4) of Regulation (EC) No 539/2001 (O‑000142/2016 – B8‑1820/2016),

–  having regard to the motion for a resolution of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs,

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

A.  whereas the criterion of visa reciprocity as one of the criteria guiding the EU’s visa policy is generally understood to imply that EU citizens should be subject to the same conditions when travelling to a third country as the nationals of that third country are when travelling to the EU;

B.  whereas the purpose of the visa reciprocity mechanism is to achieve such visa reciprocity; whereas the EU’s visa policy prohibits individual Member States from introducing a visa requirement for nationals of a third country if this country is listed in Annex II to Regulation (EC) No 539/2001 (countries whose nationals are exempt from the visa requirement for short stays);

C.  whereas the reciprocity mechanism was revised in 2013, with Parliament acting as co-legislator, as it needed to be adapted in the light of the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon and of the case-law of the Court of Justice of the European Union on secondary legal bases and ‘to provide for a Union response as an act of solidarity, if a third country listed in Annex II to Regulation (EC) No 539/2001 applies a visa requirement for nationals of at least one Member State’ (Recital 1 of Regulation (EU) No 1289/2013);

D.  whereas the reciprocity mechanism sets out a procedure starting with a situation of non-reciprocity with precise timeframes and actions to be taken with a view to ending a situation of non-reciprocity; whereas its inherent logic entails measures of increasing severity vis-à-vis the third country concerned, including ultimately the suspension of the exemption from the visa requirement for all nationals of the third country concerned (‘second phase of application of the reciprocity mechanism’);

E.  whereas ‘in order to ensure the adequate involvement of the European Parliament and of the Council in the second phase of application of the reciprocity mechanism, given the particularly sensitive political nature of the suspension of the exemption from the visa requirement for all the nationals of a third country listed in Annex II to Regulation (EC) No 539/2001 and its horizontal implications for the Member States, the Schengen associated countries and the Union itself, in particular for their external relations and for the overall functioning of the Schengen area, the power to adopt acts in accordance with Article 290 of the Treaty of the Functioning of the European Union [was] delegated to the Commission in respect of certain elements of the reciprocity mechanism’ including the suspension of the exemption from the visa requirement for all nationals of the third country concerned;

F.  whereas ‘the European Parliament or the Council may decide to revoke the delegation’ (Article 290(2)(a) TFEU);

G.  whereas a delegated act ‘may enter into force only if no objection has been expressed by the European Parliament or the Council within a period set by the legislative act’ (Article 290(2)(b) TFEU);

H.  whereas the Commission contested the choice of delegated acts in the second phase of application of the reciprocity mechanism before the Court of Justice of the European Union, and whereas the Court considered however the choice of the legislator to be correct (Case C-88/14);

I.  whereas the mechanism thereby clearly assigns obligations and responsibilities to Parliament and the Council and to the Commission in the different phases of the reciprocity mechanism;

1.  Considers the Commission to be legally obliged to adopt a delegated act – temporarily suspending the exemption from the visa requirement for nationals of third countries which have not lifted the visa requirement for citizens of certain Member States – within a period of 24 months from the date of publication of the notifications in this regard, which ended on 12 April 2016;

2.  Calls on the Commission, on the basis of Article 265 TFEU, to adopt the required delegated act within two months from the date of adoption of this resolution at the latest;

3.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Commission, the European Council, the Council and the national parliaments.

(1) OJ L 81, 21.3.2001, p. 1.


Options for improving access to medicines
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European Parliament resolution of 2 March 2017 on EU options for improving access to medicines (2016/2057(INI))
P8_TA(2017)0061A8-0040/2017

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its position of 6 February 2013 on the proposal for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council relating to the transparency of measures regulating the prices of medicinal products for human use and their inclusion in the scope of public health insurance systems(1),

–  having regard to Article 168 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), which lays down that a high level of human health protection should be ensured in the definition and implementation of all Union policies and activities,

–  having regard to the Commission REFIT evaluation of Council Regulation (EC) No 953/2003 to avoid trade diversion into the European Union of certain key medicines (SWD(2016)0125),

–  having regard to the obligations set out in Article 81 of Directive 2001/83/EC for the maintenance of an appropriate and continued supply of medicinal products,

–  having regard to the Commission’s Inception Impact Assessment(2) on the strengthening of EU cooperation on Health Technology Assessment (HTA),

–  having regard to the HTA Network Strategy for EU Cooperation on Health Technology Assessment of 29 October 2014(3),

–  having regard to the final report of the Commission’s Pharmaceutical Sector Inquiry (SEC(2009)0952),

–  having regard to the Commission’s 2013 report entitled ‘Health inequalities in the EU – Final report of a consortium. Consortium lead: Sir Michael Marmot’(4), in which it is recognised that health systems play an important role in reducing the risk of poverty or may help to reduce poverty,

–  having regard to the Council’s conclusions of 1 December 2014 on innovation for the benefit of patients(5),

–  having regard to the conclusions of the Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council’s informal meeting on health of 18 April 2016,

–  having regard to the Commission’s 6th Report on the Monitoring of Patent Settlements in the pharmaceutical sector,

–  having regard to the Commission’s communication entitled ‘Safe, innovative and accessible medicines: a renewed vision for the pharmaceutical sector’ (COM(2008)0666),

–  having regard to paragraphs 249 and 250 of the judgment of the Court of Justice of 14 February 1978 in Case 27/76 on excessive prices,

–  having regard to the Council’s conclusions of 17 June 2016 on strengthening the balance in the pharmaceutical systems in the EU and its Member States,

–  having regard to Decision No 1082/2013/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 October 2013 on serious cross-border threats to health and repealing Decision No 2119/98/EC(6),

–  having regard to the Report of the United Nations Secretary-General’s High Level Panel on access to medicines – Promoting innovation and access to health technologies, published in September 2016,

–  having regard to the Council’s conclusions of 10 May 2006 on common values and principles in EU health systems, and the conclusions of the Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council of 6 April 2011 and of 10 December 2013 on the reflection process on modern, responsive and sustainable health systems,

–  having regard to the Commission’s communication entitled ‘Effective, accessible and resilient health systems’ (COM(2014)0215),

–  having regard to the study entitled ‘Towards a Harmonised EU Assessment of the Added Therapeutic Value of Medicines’, published by its Policy Department ”Economic and Scientific Policy” in 2015(7),

–  having regard to the World Health Organisation report entitled ‘WHO Expert Committee on the Selection of Essential Drugs, 17-21 October 1977 – WHO Technical Report Series, No 615’, the report by the WHO Secretariat of 7 December 2001 entitled ‘WHO medicines strategy: Revised procedure for updating WHO’s Model List of Essential Drugs’ (EB109/8); the WHO report of March 2015 entitled ‘Access to new medicines in Europe’ and the WHO Report of 28 June 2013 entitled ‘Priority Medicines for Europe and the World’,

–  having regard to Regulation (EC) No 141/2000 on orphan medicinal products,

–  having regard to Article 35 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union and Article 6(a) TFEU on the right to health protection for European citizens,

–  having regard to Articles 101 and 102 TFEU laying down rules on competition,

–  having regard to the Doha Declaration on the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights and Public Health (WTO/MIN(01/DEC/2) and to the implementation of Paragraph 6 of the Doha Declaration of 1 September 2003 (WTO/L/540),

–  having regard to Regulation (EC) No 816/2006 on compulsory licensing of patents relating to the manufacturer of pharmaceutical products for export to countries with public health problems,

–  having regard to the joint procurement agreement approved by the Commission on 10 April 2014(8),

–  having regard to the Nairobi Conference of 1985 on the rational use of drugs,

–  having regard to the report on the amendment of Regulation (EC) No 726/2004 approved by the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (A8-0035/2016) and the amendments adopted by Parliament on 10 March 2016(9) ,

–  having regard to its resolution of 16 September 2015 on the Commission Work Programme 2016(10),

–  having regard to its resolution of 11 September 2012 on voluntary and unpaid donation of tissues and cells(11),

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety and the opinions of the Committee on Development, the Committee on Legal Affairs and the Committee on Petitions (A8-0040/2017),

A.  whereas the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union recognises the fundamental right of citizens to health and medical treatment(12);

B.  whereas public health systems are crucial to guaranteeing universal access to health care, a fundamental right of European citizens; whereas health systems in the EU face challenges such as an ageing population, the increasing burden of chronic illnesses, the high cost of development of new technologies, high and rising pharmaceutical expenses, and the effects of the economic crisis on healthcare spending; whereas expenditure in the pharmaceutical sector in the EU accounted for 17,1 % of total health expenditure and 1,41 % of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2014; whereas these challenges prompt the need for European cooperation and new policy measures at both EU and national level;

C.  whereas pharmaceuticals are one of the pillars of healthcare rather than a mere object of trade, and whereas insufficient access to essential medicinal products and high prices of innovative medicines pose a serious threat to the sustainability of national health care systems;

D.  whereas patients should have access to the healthcare and treatment options of their choice and preference, including to complementary and alternative therapies and medicines;

E.  whereas ensuring patient access to essential medicines is one of the core objectives of the EU and the WHO, and of UN Sustainable Development Goal 3; whereas universal access to medicines depends on their timely availability and their affordability for everyone, without any geographical discrimination;

F.  whereas competition is an important factor in the overall balance of the pharmaceutical market and can lower costs, reduce expenditure on medicines and improve timely access for patients to affordable medicines, with higher quality standards being observed in the research and development process;

G.  whereas the entry of generics onto the market is an important mechanism for increasing competition, reducing prices and ensuring the sustainability of healthcare systems; whereas the market entry of generics should not be delayed and competition should not be distorted;

H.  whereas an healthy and competitive market for medicinal products benefits from vigilant competition law scrutiny;

I.  whereas, in many cases, the prices of new medicines have increased during the past few decades to the point of being unaffordable to many European citizens and of threatening the sustainability of national health care systems;

J.  whereas in addition to high prices and unaffordability, other barriers to access to medicines include shortages of essential and other medicines, the poor connection between clinical needs and research, lack of access to healthcare and healthcare professionals, unjustified administrative procedures, delays between marketing authorisation and subsequent pricing and reimbursement decisions, unavailability of products, patent rules and budget restrictions;

K.  whereas diseases such as hepatitis C can successfully be combated with early diagnosis, combined with new and old medicines, saving millions of people across the EU;

L.  whereas the number of people diagnosed with cancer is rising every year, and the combination of increased cancer incidence in the population and new technologically advanced cancer medicines has resulted in a situation where the total cost of cancer is rising, which puts an unprecedented demand on healthcare budgets and makes treatment unaffordable for many cancer patients, raising the risk that affordability or pricing of the medication will become a deciding factor in a patient’s cancer treatment;

M.  whereas Regulation (EC) No 1394/2007 on advanced therapy medicinal products was introduced to promote EU-wide innovation in this area while ensuring safety, but only eight novel therapies have been approved to date;

N.  whereas the EU has had to introduce incentives to promote research in areas such as rare diseases and paediatric diseases; whereas the Orphan Medicinal Products Regulation has provided an important framework for promoting research on orphan medicines, considerably improving the treatment of rare diseases for which no alternative existed previously, but whereas there are, however, concerns about its implementation;

O.  whereas the gap between growing resistance to antimicrobial agents and the development of new antimicrobial agents is widening, and whereas drug-resistant diseases could cause 10 million deaths annually worldwide up to 2050; whereas it is estimated that every year in the EU, at least 25 000 people die of infections caused by resistant bacteria, to an annual cost of EUR 1,5 billion, while only one novel class of antibiotics has been developed in the past 40 years;

P.  whereas significant progress has been made in recent decades as regards treating previously incurable diseases, with the result, to give one example, that no more patients die of HIV/AIDS in the EU today; whereas, however, there are still many diseases against which there are no optimal treatments (including cancer, which kills almost 1,3 million individuals in the EU every year);

Q.  whereas access to affordable and suitable diagnostic tests and vaccines is as critical as access to safe, effective and affordable medicines;

R.  whereas advanced therapy medicinal products (ATMPs) have the potential to reshape the treatment of a wide range of conditions, particularly in disease areas where conventional approaches are inadequate, and whereas only few ATMPs have been authorised so far;

S.  whereas certain essential medicines are not available in many Member States, which can lead to problems with regard to patient care; whereas a number of medicine shortages can occur either because of illegitimate business strategies, such as ‘pay for delay’ in the pharmaceutical sector, or political, manufacturing or distribution issues, or parallel trade; whereas Article 81 of Directive 2001/83/EC stipulates measures to prevent pharmaceutical shortages by means of a so-called public service obligation (PSO), which obligates manufacturers and distributors to safeguard supplies to national markets; whereas, in many cases, the PSO is not applied to manufacturers supplying the distributors, as indicated in a study commissioned by the Commission;

T.  whereas a stable and predictable intellectual property and regulatory framework, as well as the proper and timely implementation thereof, are essential to creating an innovation-friendly environment, supporting patient access to innovative and effective treatments;

U.  whereas the aim of intellectual property is to benefit society and promote innovation, and whereas there is concern about the abuse/misuse thereof;

V.  whereas since 1995 the WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS agreement) provides for patent flexibilities, such as compulsory licensing;

W.  whereas a European Medicines Agency (EMA) pilot project launched in 2014 known as ‘adaptive pathways’, which applies primarily to treatments in areas of high unmet medical need, has generated intense debate of the risk/benefit ratio of granting earlier market access to innovative medicines on the basis of less clinical data;

X.  whereas intellectual property protection is essential in the field of access to medicines, and whereas there is a need to identify mechanisms that can help combat the phenomenon of counterfeit medicines;

Y.  whereas several years ago, a high-level European dialogue bringing together the key decision-makers and stakeholders in the health world (the ‘G10’ in 2001-2002, followed by the Pharmaceutical Forum in 2005-2008) decided to develop a shared strategic vision and to take specific steps to help with the competitiveness of the pharmaceutical sector;

Z.  whereas only around 3 % of health budgets goes towards measures to prevent and promote public health;

AA.  whereas pricing and reimbursement of medicinal products are Member State competences and are regulated at national level; whereas the EU provides legislation on intellectual property, clinical trials, marketing authorisation, transparency in pricing, pharmacovigilance and competition; whereas the growing expenditure in the pharmaceutical sector, as well as the observed asymmetry in the negotiation capacities and information on pricing between pharmaceutical companies and Member States, prompts further European cooperation and new policy measures at both European and national level; whereas the prices of medicines are usually negotiated by means of bilateral and confidential negotiations between the pharmaceutical industry and Member States;

AB.  whereas a majority of Member States have their own health technology assessment agencies, each with its own criteria;

AC.  whereas under Article 168 TFEU, Parliament and the Council can, in order to meet common safety concerns, adopt measures setting high standards of quality and safety for medicinal products, and whereas, in accordance with Article 114(3) TFEU, legislative proposals in the health sector shall take as a base a high level of protection;

Pharmaceutical market

1.  Shares the concern expressed in the 2016 Council conclusions on strengthening the balance in the pharmaceutical systems in the EU;

2.  Welcomes the Council conclusions of 17 June 2016 inviting the Commission to conduct an evidence-based analysis of the overall impact of intellectual property (IP) on innovation as well as on the availability – inter alia supply shortages and deferred or missed market launches – and accessibility of medicinal products;

3.  Reiterates that the right to health is a human right recognised in both the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and that this right concerns all Member States, given that they have ratified international human rights treaties that recognise the right to health; points out that for this right to be guaranteed, access to medicine, among other factors, must be ensured;

4.  Recognises the value of citizens’ initiatives such as the European Charter of Patients’ Rights, based on the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, and the European Patients’ Rights Day celebrated each year on 18 April at local and national level in the Member States; invites the Commission to institutionalise the European Patients’ Rights Day at EU level;

5.  Points to the conclusions of the informal Council meeting of healthcare ministers held in Milan on 22 and 23 September 2014 during the Italian Council Presidency, at which occasion many Member States agreed on the need to make joint efforts to facilitate the sharing of best practices and enable swifter access for patients;

6.  Stresses the need for consistency between all EU policies (global public health, development, research and trade) and underlines, therefore, that the issue of access to medicines in the developing world must be seen in a broader context;

7.  Highlights the importance of both public and private R&D efforts in discovering new treatments; stresses that research priorities must address patients’ health needs, while recognising the interest of pharmaceutical companies to generate financial returns on their investment; stresses that the regulatory framework must facilitate the best possible outcome for patients and public interest;

8.  Stresses that the high level of public funds used for R&D is not reflected in the pricing owing to the lack of traceability of the public funds in the patenting and licensing conditions, impeding a fair public return on public investment;

9.  Encourages more transparency in the cost of R&D, including the proportion of publicly funded research and the marketing of medicines;

10.  Underlines the role of European research projects and SMEs in improving access to medicines at the EU level; highlights the role of Horizon 2020 programme in this regard;

11.  Recalls that the EU pharmaceutical industry is one of the most competitive industries in the Union; stresses that preserving a high level of quality of innovation is key to addressing patients’ needs and to improving competitiveness; stresses that healthcare expenditure should be considered a public investment, and that quality medicines can improve public health and enable patients to live longer and healthier lives;

12.  Stresses that in a European Union which is suffering deindustrialisation, the pharmaceutical sector remains an important industrial pillar and a driving force for job creation;

13.  Believes that the opinions of European citizens voiced in petitions to the European Parliament are of fundamental importance and should be addressed by the European legislator as a matter of priority;

14.  Stresses that patients’ organisations should be involved in a better way in the definition of private and public clinical trials research strategies, to ensure that they meet the true unmet needs of the European patients;

15.  Notes that it is in the interests of patients, in cases of unmet medical needs, to obtain fast access to new innovative medicines; stresses, however, that the fast-tracking of marketing authorisations should not become the rule, but should only be used in cases of high unmet medical need and must not be motivated by commercial considerations; recalls that robust clinical trials and thorough pharmacovigilance monitoring are necessary to assess the quality, efficacy and safety of new medicines;

16.  Notes with concern that 5 % of all hospital admissions in the EU are due to adverse drug reactions (ADRs) and that ADRs are the fifth leading cause of hospital death;

17.  Draws attention to the Declaration on the TRIPS Agreement and Public Health, adopted in Doha on 14 November 2001, which states that the TRIPS agreement should be implemented and interpreted in a way that is good for public health – encouraging both access to existing medicines and the development of new ones; takes note, in this regard, of the decision of 6 November 2015 of the WTO TRIPS Council to extend the drug patent exemption for the least developed countries (LDCs) until January 2033;

18.  Highlights the critical need to develop local capacities in developing countries, in terms of pharmaceutical research, in order to bridge the persisting gap in research and medicines production through product-development public-private partnerships and the creation of open centres of research and production;

Competition

19.  Deplores the litigation cases aiming to delay generic entry; notes that, according to the final report of the Commission’s Pharmaceutical Sector Inquiry, the number of litigation cases quadrupled between 2000 and 2007, that almost 60 % of the cases concerned second generation patents and that they took, on average, two years to be resolved;

20.  Stresses that better regulation will promote competitiveness; also recognises the importance and effectiveness of antitrust tools against anti-competitive behaviours such as the abuse or misuse of patent systems and of the system for authorisation of medicines, in violation of Articles 101 and/or 102 of the TFEU;

21.  Points out that biosimilar medicines enable increased competition, reduced prices and savings for healthcare systems, thus helping to improve access to medicines for patients; stresses that the added value and economic impact of biosimilar medicines on the sustainability of healthcare systems should be analysed, their market entry should not be delayed, and, where necessary, measures to support their introduction to the market should be examined;

22.  Highlights that value-based pricing of medicines can be misused as a profit- maximisation economic strategy, leading to the setting of prices that are disproportionate to the cost structure, running counter to an optimal distribution of social welfare;

23.  Recognises that off-label use of medicines can bring benefits to patients when approved alternatives are absent; notes with concern that patients are subjected to growing risks owing to the lack of a solid evidence base proving the safety and efficacy of off-label use, to the lack of informed consent and to increased difficulty in monitoring adverse effects; underlines that certain population sub-groups, such as children and the elderly, are particularly exposed to this practice;

Pricing and transparency

24.  Points out that patients are the weakest link in access to medicines, and that difficulties with accessing medicines should not have negative repercussions for them;

25.  Notes that most national and regional health technology assessment agencies are already using various clinical, economic and social benefit criteria to evaluate new medicines in order to support their decisions on pricing and reimbursement;

26.  Stresses the importance of assessing the real therapeutic, evidence-based added value of new medicines, as compared to the best available alternative;

27.  Notes with concern that data supporting the assessment of the added value of innovative medicines is often scarce and not sufficiently convincing to support solid decision-making on pricing;

28.  Stresses that health technology assessments (HTA) must be an important and effective instrument for improving access to medicines, contributing to the sustainability of national healthcare systems, allowing for the creation of incentives for innovation, and delivering high therapeutic added value to patients; notes, in addition, that the introduction of joint HTAs at EU level would avoid the fragmentation of assessment systems, the duplication of efforts and the misallocation of resources within the EU;

29.  Points out that, with a view to developing safe and effective patient-oriented health policies and to making health technology as effective as possible, evaluating that technology should be a multidisciplinary process that summarises the medical, social, economic and ethical information on the use of the technology by employing high standards, and by doing so in a systematic, independent, objective, reproducible and transparent manner;

30.  Considers that the price of a medicine should cover the cost of the development and production of that medicine, and should be adequate for the specific economic situation of the country in which it is marketed, as well as being in line with the therapeutic added value it brings to patients, while ensuring patient access, sustainable healthcare and reward for innovation;

31.  Points out that even when a new medicine is of high added value, the price should not be so high as to prevent sustainable access to it in the EU;

32.  Believes that the real therapeutic added value of a medicine, the social impact, the cost benefit, the budget impact, and the efficiency for the public health system, all need to be taken into account when determining the pricing and reimbursement procedures for medicines;

33.  Notes with concern that, owing to the lower negotiating power of small and lower income countries, medicines are comparatively less affordable in such Member States, especially in the field of oncology; regrets, in the context of international reference pricing, the lack of transparency in list prices of medicines, as compared to actual prices, and the information asymmetry this brings to negotiations between industry and national health systems;

34.  Points out that Directive 89/105/EEC (‘the Transparency Directive’) has not been revised in 20 years and that, in the meantime, important changes have taken place in the medicine system in the EU;

35.  Underlines, in this context, the need for independent processes of data collection and analysis and for transparency;

36.  Notes that the EURIPID project needs more transparency from Members States to include the real prices paid by them;

37.  Believes that a strategic breakthrough is needed in the area of disease prevention, as it can be considered a key factor in reducing the use of medicines and in guaranteeing, at the same time, a high level of human health protection; calls on the EU and the Member States to reinforce legislation aimed at supporting sustainable food production, and to take all necessary initiatives to promote healthy and safe habits such as healthy nutrition;

EU competences and cooperation

38.  Recalls that under Article 168 TFEU, a high level of human health protection is to be ensured in the definition and implementation of all Union policies and activities;

39.  Stresses the importance of enhancing transparency and of increasing voluntary collaboration among Member States in the field of pricing and reimbursement of medicinal products, in order to ensure the sustainability of healthcare systems and preserve the rights of European citizens to access quality healthcare;

40.  Recalls that transparency in all EU and national institutions and agencies is crucial to the well functioning of democracy, and that experts involved in the authorisation process should have no conflicts of interest;

41.  Welcomes initiatives such as the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI), which bring together the private and public sectors in order to stimulate research and accelerate patients’ access to innovative therapies addressing unmet medical needs; regrets, however, the low level of public return on public investment in the absence of access conditionalities to EU public funding; further notes that IMI 2, the second and current phase of IMI, is largely financed by EU taxpayers, highlighting the necessity of enhanced EU leadership in prioritising public health needs for IMI 2 research and in the inclusion of broad data sharing, shared health IP management policies, transparency and a fair public return on investment;

42.  Highlights the EU procedure for joint procurement of medicines used for the acquisition of vaccines in accordance with Decision No 1082/2013/EU; encourages Members States to make full use of this tool, for example in case of shortages of infant vaccines;

43.  Notes with concern that the EU lags behind the USA as regards a standardised and transparent reporting mechanism on the causes of medicines shortages; invites the Commission and the Member States to propose, and to put in place, such an instrument for evidence-based policy-making;

44.  Recalls the importance of the digital health agenda and the need to prioritise the development and the implementation of eHealth- and mHealth-related solutions to ensure safe, reliable, accessible, modern and sustainable new health care models to patients, caregivers, healthcare professionals and payers;

45.  Recalls that LDCs are the most affected by poverty-related diseases, especially HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis, diseases of the reproductive organs, and infectious and skin diseases;

46.  Highlights the fact that, in developing countries, women and children have less access to medicines than adult men owing to the lack of availability, accessibility, affordability and acceptability of treatment as a result of discrimination based on cultural, religious or social factors and of poor-quality health facilities;

47.  Considering that tuberculosis has become the world’s leading infectious killer and that the most dangerous form of the disease is the multi-drug resistant one; underlines the importance of tackling the emerging antimicrobial resistance (AMR) crisis, including through the funding of research and development for new tools for vaccines, diagnostics and treatment for tuberculosis, while ensuring sustainable and affordable access for those new tools, to make sure that no one is left behind;

Intellectual Property (IP) and Research and Development (R&D)

48.  Recalls that IP rights allow a period of exclusivity that needs carefully and effectively to be regulated, monitored and implemented by the competent authorities with a view to avoiding conflict with the fundamental human right to health protection while promoting quality innovation and competitiveness; emphasises that the European Patent Office (EPO) and the Member States should only grant patents on medicinal products that strictly fulfil the patentability requirements of novelty, inventive step and industrial applicability, as enshrined in the European Patent Convention;

49.  Emphasises that, while some new medicines are examples of breakthrough innovations, other new medicines demonstrate insufficient therapeutic added value to be deemed genuine innovations (‘me-too’ substances); recalls that incremental innovation may also be beneficial for patients and that the repurposing and reformulation of known molecules may deliver added therapeutic value, which should be carefully assessed; warns against the potential misuse of IP protection rules allowing the ‘evergreening’ of patent rights and avoidance of competition;

50.  Acknowledges the positive impact of Regulation (EC) No 141/2000 on the development of orphan medicines, which has enabled a number of innovative products for patients deprived of treatment to be placed on the market; notes the concerns surrounding the possible incorrect application of orphan medicinal products designation criteria and the possible effect of this on the growing number of orphan medicines authorisations; recognises that orphan medicines may also be used off-label, or repurposed and authorised for additional indications allowing for increased sales; calls on the Commission to ensure balanced incentives without discouraging innovation in this area; stresses that the provisions in the orphan medicinal products regulation should only be applicable if all the relevant criteria are fulfilled;

51.  Notes the fact that the WTO TRIPS agreement provides flexibilities to patent rights, such as compulsory licensing, which have effectively brought prices down; notes that these flexibilities can be used as an effective tool in exceptional circumstances established by the law of each WTO member to address public health problems, in order to be able to provide essential medicines at affordable prices under domestic public health programmes and to protect and promote public health;

Recommendations

52.  Calls for national and EU-wide measures to guarantee the right of patients to universal, affordable, effective, safe and timely access to essential and innovative therapies, to guarantee the sustainability of EU public healthcare systems, and to ensure future investment in pharmaceutical innovation; stresses that patient access to medicines is a shared responsibility of all actors of the healthcare system;

53.  Calls on the Council and the Commission to reinforce the negotiation capacities of Member States in order to ensure affordable access to medicines across the EU;

54.  Notes the report of the United Nations Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel on access to medicines;

55.  Notes that the repurposing of existing drugs for new indications can be accompanied by a price increase; asks the Commission to collect and analyse data on price increases in cases of drug repurposing and to report back to Parliament and to the Council on the balance and proportionality of the incentives that encourage industry to invest in drug repurposing;

56.  Calls on the Member States to develop closer collaboration in order to fight such market fragmentation, in particular by developing shared HTA processes and results, and to work on shared criteria to instruct price and reimbursement decisions at national level;

57.  Calls on the Commission to revise the Transparency Directive with a focus on guaranteeing timely entry into the market for generic and biosimilar medicines, ending patent linkage according to the Commission’s guidelines, accelerating pricing and reimbursement decisions for generics, and precluding the multiple reassessment of the elements supporting marketing authorisation; believes that this will maximise savings for national health budgets, improve affordability, accelerate patient access and prevent administrative burdens for generic and biosimilar companies;

58.  Calls on the Commission to propose a new directive on transparency of price-setting procedures and reimbursement systems, taking into account the challenges of the market;

59.  Calls for a new Transparency Directive to replace Directive 89/105/EEC with the aim of ensuring effective controls and full transparency on the procedures used to determine the prices and the reimbursement of medicinal products in the Member States;

60.  Calls on the Member States to implement Directive 2011/24/EU on the application of patients’ rights in cross-border healthcare in a fair way, avoiding limitations to the application of the rules on reimbursement of cross-border healthcare, including the reimbursement of medicines, that could constitute a means of arbitrary discrimination or an unjustified obstacle to free movement;

61.  Calls on the Commission to monitor and assess in an effective way the implementation of Directive 2011/24/EU in the Member States, and to plan and carry out a formal evaluation of this directive that includes complaints, infringements and all transposition measures;

62.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to foster R&D driven by patients’ unmet needs, such as by researching new antimicrobials, coordinating public resources for healthcare research in an effective and efficient manner, and promoting the social responsibility of the pharmaceutical sector;

63.  Calls on the Member States to build on the example of existing initiatives in the EU aimed at promoting independent research in areas of interest to national health services that are insufficiently addressed by commercial research (e.g. AMR) and to patient populations normally excluded by clinical studies, such as children, pregnant women and the elderly;

64.  Highlights the threat of growing antimicrobial resistance and the urgency of the threats of AMR recently recognised by the UN; calls on the Commission to increase its actions to combat AMR, to promote R&D in this area, and to present a new and comprehensive EU Action Plan based on the ‘One Health’ approach;

65.  Acknowledges that the incentives put forward by the Paediatric Medicines Regulation (EC) No 1901/2006 have not proved effective in driving innovation in medicines for children, namely in the fields of oncology and neonatology; calls on the Commission to examine existing obstacles and to propose measures to promote advancement in this area;

66.  Calls on the Commission to promote initiatives for guiding public and private-sector research towards bringing out innovative medicines for curing childhood illnesses;

67.  Calls on the Commission to begin immediate work on the report required under Article 50 of the Paediatric Medicines Regulation, and to amend the legislation to address the lack of innovation in paediatric oncology treatments, by revising the criteria for allowing a Paediatric Investigation Plan (PIP) waiver and by ensuring that PIPs are implemented early in a drug’s development, so that children are not waiting longer than necessary for access to innovative new treatments;

68.  Calls on the Commission to promote public and private-sector research into medicines for female patients, to remedy gender inequality in research and development and to allow all citizens to benefit from fairer access to medicines;

69.  Urges the Commission and the Member States to adopt strategic plans to ensure access to life-saving medicines; calls, in this regard, for the coordination of a plan to eradicate hepatitis C in the EU using tools such as European joint procurement;

70.  Calls for the framework conditions in the areas of research and medicine policy to be established in a way that promotes innovation, particularly against diseases, such as cancer, that cannot yet be treated to a satisfactory degree;

71.  Calls on the Commission to take further action to foster the development of, and patient access to, ATMPs;

72.  Calls on the Commission to analyse the overall impact of IP on innovation on, and on patient access to, medicines, by means of a thorough and objective study, as requested by the Council in conclusions of 17 June 2016, and, in particular, to analyse in this study the impact of supplementary protection certificates (SPCs), data exclusivity and market exclusivity on the quality of innovation and competition;

73.  Calls on the Commission to evaluate the implementation of the regulatory framework for orphan medicines (especially as regards the concept of unmet medical need, how this concept is interpreted and what criteria need to be fulfilled in order to identify unmet medical need), to provide guidance on priority unmet medical need, to evaluate existing incentive schemes to facilitate the development of effective, safe and affordable medicines for rare diseases compared to the best available alternative, to promote the European register of rare diseases and reference centres, and to ensure the legislation is correctly implemented;

74.  Welcomes the pharmacovigilance legislation of 2010 and 2012; calls on the Commission, the EMA and the Member States to continue the monitoring and public reporting of the implementation of the pharmacovigilance legislation, and to guarantee post-authorisation assessments of the effectiveness and adverse effects of medicines;

75.  Calls on the Commission to collaborate with the EMA, and with stakeholders, with a view to introducing a Code of Practice for mandatory reporting of adverse events and of outcomes for off-label use of medicines, and to ensuring patients’ registries in order to strengthen the evidence base and mitigate risks for patients;

76.  Calls on the Commission to promote open data in research on medicines where public funding is involved, and to encourage conditions such as affordable pricing and non-exclusivity, or co-ownership of IP for projects funded by EU public grants such as Horizon 2020 and IMI;

77.  Calls on the Commission to promote ethical behaviour and transparency in the pharmaceutical sector, especially regarding clinical trials and the real cost of R&D, in the authorisation and assessment of innovation procedure;

78.  Notes the use of adaptive pathways to promote faster access to medicines for patients; underlines the higher degree of uncertainty regarding the safety and effectiveness of a new medicine when it enters the market; highlights the concern expressed by healthcare professionals, civil society organisations and regulators regarding adaptive pathways; stresses the crucial importance of the proper implementation of the post-marketing surveillance system; considers that adaptive pathways should be restricted to specific cases of high unmet medical need, and calls on the Commission and the EMA to put in place guidelines to ensure patient safety;

79.  Calls on the Commission to guarantee a thorough assessment of quality, safety and efficacy in any fast-track approval process, and to ensure that such approvals are made possible by means of conditional authorisation, and only in exceptional circumstances where a clear unmet medical need has been identified, and to ensure that a transparent and accountable post-authorisation process to monitor safety, quality and efficacy is in place, as well as sanctions for non-compliance;

80.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to set up a framework to promote, guarantee and reinforce the competitiveness and use of generic and biosimilar medicines, guaranteeing their faster entry onto the market and monitoring unfair practices in accordance with Articles 101 and 102 TFEU, and to present a biannual report in this regard; calls as well on the Commission to monitor patent settlement agreements between originator and generic industry that may be misused to restrict the market entry of generics;

81.  Calls on the Commission to continue and, where possible, to intensify the monitoring and investigation of potential cases of market abuse, including so-called ‘pay for delay’, excessive pricing and other forms of market restriction specifically relevant to the pharmaceutical companies operating within the EU, in accordance with Articles 101 and 102 TFEU;

82.  Calls on the Commission to introduce an SPC manufacturing waiver to Regulation (EC) No 469/2009 allowing the production of generic and biosimilar medicines in Europe, with the purpose of exporting them to countries without SPCs or where these have expired earlier, without undermining the exclusivity granted under the SPC regime in protected markets; believes that such provisions could have a positive impact on access to high-quality medicines in developing countries and LDCs, and on increasing manufacturing and R&D in the EU, creating new jobs and stimulating economic growth;

83.  Calls on the Commission to observe and reinforce the EU competition legislation and its competencies on the pharmaceutical market in order to counter abuse and promote fair prices for patients;

84.  Calls on the Commission to enhance dialogue on unmet medical needs between all relevant stakeholders, patients, healthcare professionals, regulators, HTA bodies, payers and developers throughout the life spans of medicines;

85.  Calls on the Commission to propose legislation on a European system for health technology assessment as soon as possible, to harmonise transparent HTA criteria in order to assess the added therapeutic value of medicines compared with the best available alternative taking into account the level of innovation and value for the patients among others, to introduce compulsory relative effectiveness assessments at EU level as a first step for new medicines, and to put in place a European classification system to chart their therapeutic added value level, using an independent and transparent procedure that avoids conflicts of interests; considers that such legislation shall ensure that HTA output jointly produced at EU level is used at national level; calls, furthermore, on the Commission to strengthen early dialogues and to consider a coordination mechanism based on an independent body, which could foster cooperation between national HTA bodies while at the same time ensuring that expertise on HTA remains within national (and regional) HTA;

86.  Calls on the Council to increase cooperation between the Member States as regards price-setting procedures, in order that they may share information about, in particular, negotiation agreements and good practices, and avoid unnecessary administrative requirements and delays; calls on the Commission and the Council to analyse the clinical, economic and social criteria that some national HTA agencies already apply, while respecting the competences of the Member States;

87.  Calls on the Commission and the Members States to agree on a common definition of ‘added therapeutic value of medicines’, with the participation of expert representatives from the Member States; notes in this regard the definition of ‘added therapeutic value’ used for paediatric medicines;

88.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to identify and/or develop frameworks, structures and methodologies to meaningfully incorporate patient evidence at all stages of the medicines R&D cycle, from early dialogue to regulatory approval, HTA, relative effectiveness assessments, and pricing and reimbursement decision-making, with the involvement of patients and their representative organisations;

89.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to promote major public-funded investment in research based on unmet medical needs, to ensure the public a health return on public investment, and to introduce conditional funding based on non-exclusive licencing and affordable medicines;

90.  Calls on the Council to promote rational use of medicines across the EU, promoting campaigns and educational programmes aimed at making citizens aware of the rational use of medicines, with the goal of avoiding overconsumption, in particular of antibiotics, and promoting the use of prescriptions by active principles by healthcare professionals and the generic medicines administration;

91.  Calls on the Member States to ensure accessibility of pharmacies, including their density in both urban and rural areas, professional staff number, appropriate opening hours, qualitative advice and counselling service;

92.  Calls on the Commission and the Council to develop measures that ensure affordable patient access to medicines, and benefit to society, whilst avoiding any unacceptable impact on healthcare budgets, to employ different measures, such as horizon scanning, early dialogue, innovative pricing models, voluntary joint procurements and voluntary cooperation in price negotiations, as is the case in the initiative between the Benelux countries and Austria, and to explore the numerous tools based on delinkage mechanisms for neglected areas of research such as AMR and poverty-related diseases;

93.  Calls on the Commission to define with all relevant stakeholders how the most advantageous economic tender (MEAT) criterion – as described in the Public Procurement Directive, and which does not imply only the lower cost criteria – could best apply to medicines tenders in hospitals at national level, in order to enable a sustainable and responsible supply of medicines; encourages the Member States to transpose into their national legislation, in the best way, the most economic advantageous tender criterion for medicinal products;

94.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to launch a high-level strategic dialogue with all the relevant stakeholders, together with representatives of the Commission, Parliament, the Member States, patient organisations, paying agencies, healthcare professionals, and representatives from the academic and scientific world as well as from industry, on current and future developments in the pharmaceutical system in the EU, with the aim of establishing short-, medium- and long-term holistic strategies for ensuring access to medicines and for the sustainability of healthcare systems and a competitive pharmaceutical industry, leading to affordable prices and faster access to medicines for patients;

95.  Calls on the Commission and the Council to define clear rules on incompatibility, conflicts of interest and transparency in the EU institutions and for experts involved in issues related to medicines; calls on the experts involved in the authorisation process to publish their CVs and to sign declarations of absence of conflict of interest;

96.  Calls on the Commission and national antitrust authorities to monitor unfair practices with a view to protecting consumers from artificially high prices on medicines;

97.  Calls on the Commission and the Court of Justice of the European Union to clarify, in accordance with Article 102 TFEU, what constitutes an abuse of a dominant position by charging high prices;

98.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to make use of the flexibilities under the WTO TRIPS agreement and to coordinate and clarify their use when necessary;

99.  Calls on the Commission to submit a report, at least every five years, to the Council and to Parliament on access to medicines in the EU, and to report more regularly in cases of exceptional problems regarding access to medicines;

100.  Calls on the Commission to recommend measures to improve the rate of approval of novel therapies and the supply of these to patients;

101.  Calls on the Commission and the Council to formulate a better definition of the concept – and analyse the causes – of shortages of medicines, and, in this regard, to assess the impact of parallel trade and supply quotas, to establish and update together with the Member States, the EMA and relevant stakeholders a list of essential medicines which are short of supply, using the WHO list as a reference, to monitor compliance with Article 81 of Directive 2001/83/EC on shortages of supply, to explore mechanisms to address the withdrawal of effective medicines from the market purely for commercial reasons, and to take actions to remedy these shortages;

102.  Calls on the Commission and Council to establish a mechanism whereby medicine shortages across the EU can be reported upon on an annual basis;

103.  Calls on the Commission and Council to review the statutory basis of the EMA, and to give consideration to enhancing its remit to coordinate pan-European activity aiming at tackling medicines shortages in the Member States;

104.  Stresses that building strong surveillance and delivery systems at all levels, from community to district, provincial and national, and supported by high-quality laboratory services and strong logistical systems, could make access to medicines more feasible, while the transfer of health-related technologies (through licence agreements, and the provision of information, know-how and performance skills to technical materials and equipment) to developing countries can enable recipient countries to produce the product locally, and may result in increased access to the product and improved health;

105.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to develop a single eHealth and mHealth road map, including, in particular, the development and valorisation of pilot projects at national level, the modernisation of the reimbursement models stimulating a shift towards health outcomes-driven healthcare systems and the definition of incentives to stimulate the healthcare community to engage in this digital revolution, and to enhance education of healthcare professionals, patients and all relevant stakeholders in order to enable their empowerment;

106.  Encourages the Member States to evaluate healthcare pathways and policies with a view to improving patient outcomes and the financial sustainability of the system, in particular by fostering digital solutions to improve healthcare delivery to patients and to identify waste of resources;

107.  Urges the EU to step up efforts to improve developing countries’ capacities and help them design working health systems that aim at improving access to services, particularly for vulnerable communities;

108.  Stresses that the ongoing REFIT review of the EU Tiered Pricing Regulation (EC) No 953/2003 should aim at further promoting lower prices in developing countries, and calls on the EU to open a broader and transparent discussion on pricing regulation and strategies that ensure access to quality and affordable medicines; recalls that tiered pricing does not necessarily lead to affordability, and that it is contrary to experience showing that robust generic competition and technology transfers result in lower prices;

109.  Urges the EU to step up its support of global programmes and initiatives promoting access to medicines in developing countries, as these programmes have been instrumental in advancing health goals and greatly improved access to medicines and vaccines;

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

(1) OJ C 24, 22.1.2016, p. 119.
(2) http://ec.europa.eu/smart-regulation/roadmaps/docs/2016_sante_144_health_technology_assessments_en.pdf
(3) http://ec.europa.eu/health/technology_assessment/docs/2014_strategy_eucooperation_hta_en.pdf
(4) ec.europa.eu/health/social_determinants/docs/healthinequalitiesineu_2013_en.pdf
(5) http://www.consilium.europa.eu/uedocs/cms_data/docs/pressdata/en/lsa/145978.pdf
(6) OJ L 293, 5.11.2013, p. 1.
(7) http://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/STUD/2015/542219/IPOL_STU(2015)542219_EN.pdf
(8) http://ec.europa.eu/health/preparedness_response/docs/jpa_agreement_medicalcountermeasures_en.pdf
(9) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0088.
(10) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0323.
(11) OJ C 353 E, 3.12.2013, p. 31.
(12) The right to health care is the economic, social and cultural right to a universal minimum standard of health care to which all individuals are entitled.


Implementation of the Creative Europe programme
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European Parliament resolution of 2 March 2017 on the implementation of Regulation (EU) No 1295/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 December 2013 establishing the Creative Europe Programme (2014 to 2020) and repealing Decisions No 1718/2006/EC, No 1855/2006/EC and No 1041/2009/EC (2015/2328(INI))
P8_TA(2017)0062A8-0030/2017

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 1295/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 December 2013 establishing the Creative Europe Programme (2014 to 2020) and repealing Decisions No 1718/2006/EC, No 1855/2006/EC and No 1041/2009/EC(1) (“the Regulation”),

–  having regard to Articles 167 and 173 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

–  having regard to the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, adopted by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) on 20 October 2005,

–  having regard to the Joint Communication of the European Commission and the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy of 8 June 2016 to the European Parliament and the Council entitled ‘Towards an EU strategy for international cultural relations’ (JOIN(2016)0029),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 26 September 2012 entitled ‘Promoting cultural and creative sectors for growth and jobs in the EU’ (COM(2012)0537),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 30 June 2010 entitled ‘Europe, the world’s No 1 tourist destination – a new political framework for tourism in Europe’ (COM(2010)0352),

–  having regard to the Commission Green Paper of 27 April 2010 entitled ‘Unlocking the potential of cultural and creative industries’ (COM(2010)0183),

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) 2015/1017 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 June 2015 on the European Fund for Strategic Investments, the European Investment Advisory Hub and the European Investment Project Portal and amending Regulations (EU) No 1291/2013 and (EU) No 1316/2013 – the European Fund for Strategic Investments(2),

–  having regard to the Council conclusions of 27 May 2015 on cultural and creative crossovers to stimulate innovation, economic sustainability and social inclusion,

–  having regard to its resolution of 8 September 2015 on ‘Towards an integrated approach to cultural heritage for Europe’(3),

–  having regard to its resolution of 19 January 2016 on the role of intercultural dialogue, cultural diversity and education in promoting EU fundamental values(4),

–  having regard to its resolution of 28 April 2015 on European film in the digital era(5),

–  having regard to the study entitled ‘European capitals of culture: success strategies and long-term effects’ conducted by Policy Department B: Structural and Cohesion Policies in 2013 at the request of the Committee on Culture and Education,

–  having regard to its resolution of 12 September 2013 on promoting the European cultural and creative sectors as sources of economic growth and jobs(6),

–  having regard to its resolution of 12 May 2011 on the cultural dimensions of the EU’s external actions(7),

–  having regard to its resolution of 12 May 2011 on unlocking the potential of cultural and creative industries(8),

–  having regard to the EU Work Plan for Culture for the period 2015-2018,

–  having regard to the Interinstitutional Agreement of 13 April 2016 between Parliament, the Council and the Commission on Better Law-Making, in particular paragraphs 20 to 24 thereof on ex-post evaluation of existing legislation,

–  having regard to Rule 52 of its Rules of Procedure, as well as Article 1(1)(e) of, and Annex 3 to, the decision of the Conference of Presidents of 12 December 2002 on the procedure for granting authorisation to draw up own-initiative reports,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Culture and Education and the opinion of the Committee on Budgets (A8-0030/2017),

A.  whereas the Creative Europe programme has the objectives of safeguarding and promoting European cultural and linguistic diversity, and while promoting Europe’s cultural heritage on the one hand and strengthening the competitiveness of the European cultural and creative sectors on the other;

B.  whereas culture is a key factor in promoting European integration;

C.  whereas Creative Europe, in particular its Culture sub-programme, is seriously underfinanced and is consequently struggling to meet high expectations;

D.  whereas, under Articles 3 and 4 of the Regulation, the promotion of European cultural and linguistic diversity and of Europe’s cultural heritage – and more specifically the promotion of the transnational circulation of cultural and creative works – are among the basic objectives of the programme;

E.  whereas, under Article 12 of the Regulation, the promotion of transnational circulation and mobility – and specifically support for the circulation of European literature with a view to ensuring its widest possible accessibility – are among the priorities of the Culture sub-programme;

F.  whereas the structure of a single programme poses advantages leading to a critical mass being reached and potentially gives visibility to areas still underestimated and facing the same challenges as regards fragmentation, globalisation, lack of data and difficulties in accessing credit;

G.  whereas the structure of the programme in two sub-programmes, preserving the particularities and identity of both, and the addition of a cross-sectoral strand is an asset in providing a better understanding of cooperation and developments in the cultural field, linking up with third countries;

H.  whereas the cross-sectoral strand has only partially developed its strategic goal of promoting transnational and trans-sectoral cultural cooperation;

I.  whereas Creative Europe allows for cooperation and joint action with countries not participating in the programme, and with international organisations which are active in the cultural and creative sectors, such as UNESCO, the Council of Europe and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, on the basis of a joint contribution in the pursuit of the programmes objectives;

J.  whereas the system of performance indicators provided for in Article 18 of the Regulation, including indicators for the general objectives of the programme, indicators attached to the MEDIA and Culture sub-programmes respectively and specific indicators concerning the Guarantee Facility instrument, has not been set or become operational to date;

K.  whereas the current evaluation system has proved unsuited to the nature and specific nature of the programme and should therefore be improved;

L.  whereas specific actions, such as the European Capitals of Culture initiative, including its network, prizes and the European Heritage Label, have revealed the potential for sustainable local economic development and cultural tourism and should therefore be enhanced and promoted more proactively;

M.  whereas a specific call for refugees joining in European society was launched in 2016 within the cross-sectoral strand, to promote and support creativity and intercultural dialogue;

N.  whereas the ‘cooperation projects’ funding area of the Culture sub-programme takes up around 70 % of the sub-programme’s budget, is highly popular among cultural operators and is aimed at common approaches on a cross-border basis, allowing an open formulation of unpredictable, highly innovative and creative projects, which are explicitly welcomed;

O.  whereas, although the regulation provides for the establishment of bilateral agreements with third countries with a view to their participation in the programme or parts of it, to date only a few countries have completed the procedure;

P.  whereas, thanks to Parliament’s action, culture, cultural and creative industries (CCIs) and the audiovisual sector have been included, albeit inadequately, in the Erasmus+, Horizon 2020 and Cosme multiannual programmes, the Structural Funds, and the priorities of the European Investment Strategic Fund (EISF);

Q.  whereas there is a strong synergy between informal learning and the creative and media sector, as many arts, media and culture organisations provide informal education opportunities;

R.  whereas the proportion of successful applicants is 15 % in Culture and 44 % in MEDIA, but even lower (32 %) in the latter sub-programme if automatic schemes are excluded;

S.  whereas MEDIA has so far registered a total of 13 000 applications, and awarded more than 5 500 projects;

T.  whereas the automatic points system in MEDIA, which is aimed at ensuring, a level playing field between the Member States, leads to market distortion and heavily penalises countries with high audiovisual production capacity;

U.  whereas the type of grants awarded for cooperation projects within the culture sub-programme of Creative Europe fails to fit the needs of networks, which rely on operational structure and activities, as in the previous programme Culture 2007-2013;

V.  whereas the administrative management (application, evaluation and reporting processes) has been criticised by stakeholders as still being burdensome; stresses, therefore, the need for simplification of the application procedure in order to facilitate access to the programme and to encourage participation among potential beneficiaries;

W.  whereas the Creative Europe Desks (CEDs) are the crucial intermediary between the Commission, the Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA) and the applicants, and whereas they should be better informed about the ongoing decision-making process and should be closely involved in providing information on projects and promoting their results;

X.  whereas the operators deplore the high administrative burden in the application process, which includes extensive guidelines and a large number of documents with sometimes contradictory information;

Y.  whereas the registering of companies within the European Commission Authentication Service (ECAS) system is reported as problematic; whereas, however, the e-form is greatly welcomed;

1.  Urges the Member States to increase the Creative Europe budget to bring it into line both with the expectations of European citizens and with the ambitions of each sub-programme, thus accepting that the values of cultural production cannot be gauged in terms of economic figures alone and enabling more efficiency and better results;

2.  Welcomes a number of streamlining measures in terms of programme management that have been in place since 2014;

3.  Regrets that a lack of financial capacity continues to be one of the main obstacles for potential applicants, along with administrative and regulatory obstacles; encourages the Commission, the EACEA and the Creative Europe national desks to try to address the under-representation of micro- cultural operators among funded organisations and certain sectors in the Culture sub-programme;

4.  Asks the Commission to enhance the programme’s consistency with all relevant EU policies and other funding sources;

5.  Asks the Commission to ensure a good coordination between the DGs in charge of Creative Europe, as well as with the EACEA and CED, taking care of the different phases in the implementation of Creative Europe, recalling that the role of CED and the EACEA is crucial as it involves direct links not only with beneficiaries, but the whole cultural and creative sector;

6.  Asks the Commission to work as close as possible with UNESCO, the Council of Europe and the OECD in order to develop a stronger basis of joint contributions in the pursuit of programme objectives and impact evaluation, especially in the international dimension and in terms of respect for the specific human and economic values of culture and creation;

7.  Calls on the Commission to retain the present structure of Creative Europe, while examining and better defining the specificities of the two different sub-programmes, to strengthen the potential of the cross-sectoral strand, and to verify whether the Guarantee Fund is effective in its implementation;

8.  Asks the Commission to strike a better balance, in both sub-programmes and the guidelines for evaluators, between the artistic and creative component and the managerial and innovative aspects, especially in the case of CCI;

9.  Asks the Commission to make use of the system of performance indicators provided for in Article 18 of the legal basis of Creative Europe, thus insisting on the artistic and creative component of the programme, which is too often sacrificed to pure economic considerations such as managerial capacities or quantitative audience development;

10.  Urges the Commission to set more than the existing six areas of expertise for evaluators, in order to cope more effectively with the specific areas;

11.  Urges the Commission and the EACEA to improve the evaluation procedure by increasing the number of evaluators in the first phase, and to provide for a de visu collegial decision round to select candidates from among those shortlisted in the second phase; stresses that transparency needs to be very high and the grounds for rejecting projects need to be very thoroughly and clearly explained, in order not to jeopardise acceptance of the programme on grounds of incomprehensibility;

12.  Asks the Commission to provide training and capacity-building opportunities for cultural operators who wish to improve their skills with respect to application procedures, overall project management and project implementation;

13.  Asks the Commission and the EACEA to better support cultural operators in finding partners for the cooperation projects, through measures including but not limited to dedicated matching sections within the most important European cultural events, improving the existing search tools and databases, and organising networking opportunities on previously announced themes;

14.  Asks the Commission and the EACEA to take measures in order to improve the transparency of the contestation procedure for rejected applications, thus reducing the overall frustration among candidates and increasing the programme’s credibility on the long-term;

15.  Urges the Commission to further simplify the application and reporting procedures by limiting and simplifying guidelines and other documents, making the time-sheet less rigid, and drawing up a template for the cooperation agreement;

16.  Calls on the Commission to use all available tools for even better promotion and dissemination of results of the implemented projects, as well as information about the European added value of all actions carried out under the programme;

17.  Urges the Commission to avoid changing or adding new priorities and rules without giving the CED and stakeholders the necessary time to prepare for the next calls;

18.  Urges the Commission to further simplify the financial aspects, also by extending the lump-sum instrument and encouraging greater use of flat-rate reimbursements and use criteria that do not hamper small projects’ access to funding, and to make sure that the final payment of the grants is realised in the best time possible, which should be a criteria of excellence for the work of the EACEA, both for the Culture and MEDIA sub-programmes;

19.  Notes that there are significant national differences in the salary levels of the staff involved in cooperation projects, which then lead to considerable discrepancies in terms of cofinancing power between partners from different Member States; calls on the Commission, therefore, to consider a possible alternative for the evaluation of the staff’s work within the cooperation projects, based on other indicators than solely the pay grade;

20.  Urges the Commission to continue, together with Eurostat, to establish specific criteria appropriate to the specific nature of the sectors (creation, cultural and artistic value, innovation, growth, social inclusion, community building, internationalisation, entrepreneurial improvement, aptitude to create spillovers and crossovers, etc.), and to evaluate the possible inclusion of the Joint Research Centre in the process; in this respect, highlights the importance of building high-quality resources of knowledge about the sectors, as well as statistical research and access to comparable data resources in the field, thus enabling the effective monitoring and analysis of the cultural, economic and societal impact of policies in the cultural and creative sectors;

MEDIA

21.  Welcomes the current work of the Commission and the EACEA modifying the automatic points system in order to allow a genuine level playing field, taking into account, in a balanced way, all of the criteria mentioned in the ‘Creative Europe’ programme (transnational character, development of transnational cooperation, economies of scale, critical mass, leverage effect), as well as production capacities and the existing national support schemes for the audiovisual industry;

22.  Acknowledges that MEDIA has proved to be deeply rooted in the diversified audiovisual sector and efficiently supports cultural diversity and industrial policy;

23.  Encourages greater development of subtitling and dubbing in order to facilitate the circulation of audiovisual products within and outside the EU;

24.  Recommends that the European audiovisual heritage be secured and made available for the purposes of study, audience engagement and economic promotion, by digitising films and audiovisual archives;

25.  Underlines that, in an international and increasingly competitive film landscape, the European audiovisual sector still needs to uphold measures to safeguard its diversity and independence; stresses that direct support for European audiovisual production is needed, particularly during the project development phase, and should take place by extending training to cover more actions and strengthen the sector’s competitiveness;

26.  Recommends stepping up actions for neighbouring countries under the programme, with a view to boosting the promotion of European works on their territory and of joint creative projects;

27.  Acknowledges that European online platforms are still not competitive at international level, despite the support provided for online distribution and that European content on existing platforms is difficult to find or access;

28.  Welcomes the splitting of audience development between film literacy, with an emphasis on film education in schools, and audience development initiatives;

29.  Underlines the need for the Commission to put forward a data-driven European audience engagement project, which would aim at exploring and strengthening the capacity of Europe’s audiovisual and film sector to collect, analyse and predict data concerning audience behaviours with a view to increasing demand for non-national European films;

30.  Underlines that the support of independent TV producers for fiction series seeking to compete at world level is ongoing, in particular in order to provide authentically European responses to the current strong demand for high-quality series, even if the best results so far have been achieved in the documentary and children’s sectors;

31.  Asks the Commission to maintain its support for cinema networks, such as Europa Cinemas, that promote European film worldwide by financially and operationally helping cinemas which show a significant number of European films, and underlines the crucial role that cinemas have in raising audience awareness and maintaining the social element of the cinema experience;

32.  Asks the Commission to change the bonus system for simultaneous releases in theatres and VOD;

33.  Recommends providing evaluators with a set of tools taking into account the specificity of each country’s support scheme, in order to guarantee a level playing field in MEDIA;

34.  Calls on the Commission to raise the funding ceiling for European video games, in order to take account of their high and growing production costs; stresses, in addition, the need to review the eligibility criterion relating to the exclusively narrative nature of a video game in order to widen the range to include projects with transnational distribution potential (sports games, sandbox games, etc.) and to incorporate ‘gameplay’ into the evaluation criteria for projects, in order to reflect the centrality of this aspect in the success of a product;

Culture sub-programme

35.  Asks the Commission to balance the weight of the economic dimension with the intrinsic value of arts and culture per se, and to focus more on artists and creators;

36.  Recommends that European cooperation projects take into account innovation, mobility and extended coproductions;

37.  Asks the Commission to introduce possible measures to limit the disproportion between the number of beneficiaries and the number of applicants including, among other things, an increase in the budget for the Culture Sub-programme, more adequate representation of all cultural and creative sectors, and more support for smaller-scale projects;

38.  Highlight the importance of translation for the promotion of the linguistic diversity heritage, and recommends that literary translation projects include the promotion of books and reading, as well as supporting participation in book fairs, including the consideration of an annual European Book Fair in order to increase book circulation, promote European literary exchanges and ensure the presentation of different national literatures, as well as access to literacy for all, including for people with disabilities;

39.  Welcomes the creation of ‘hubs’ (European platform projects) to support and enable emerging artists and creators to exchange and work together;

40.  Insists that stable and highly representative European cultural networks are fundamental for the visibility of culture and artistic activities, in Europe and with third countries, as they are often the first to go into cooperation with new fields, sectors or countries; considers that their role as coordinators of actions and promoters of culture and creativity for entire artistic domains should be supported with operational grants; believes that, in this respect, clear and transparent selection criteria should be established beforehand;

41.  Calls on the Commission and the EACEA to give the Culture sub-programme opportunities to present itself externally and to hold structured meetings with operators in the sector;

42.  Recommends that the European Theatre Prize be reintroduced and appropriate funding be allocated;

43.  Underlines the success and significance of the European Capitals of Culture (ECOC) scheme, based on the dynamics of the cities and regions involved in the process, making out of the label and the still very modest EU financial contribution a real asset for further financing and activities, well beyond the actual year;

44.  Welcomes the upcoming extension of the ECOC scheme to candidate and EFTA countries as from 2020, and recommends better spreading of this experience within the EU and beyond;

45.  Recommends that the European Heritage Label be given greater visibility, and stresses the significance of the (material and immaterial) sites concerned as regards European identity and promoting a common feeling of belonging to Europe, building the EU and learning about diverse heritage for a better future;

46.  Recommends that steps be taken to coordinate and adequately support the initiatives under the European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018 with Creative Europe, beginning with the preparatory year 2017, albeit through a budget dedicated line and not using resources allocated to the Culture sub-programme, as proposed by the Commission;

47.  Asks the Commission to consider ways of facilitating the access of refugees versed in the arts to the Creative Europe programme;

Cross-sectoral strand

48.  Urges the Commission to develop and fully use the potential of the strand in order to achieve its objectives, as set in the Regulation, and in particular the promotion of transnational and cross-sectoral cooperation;

49.  Recommends the introduction of three new support measures under the strand: (a) Creative Europe Mundus for transnational cooperation, (b) social inclusion and (c) innovative crossover and cross-sectoral projects;

50.  Asks the Commission to seek to achieve a geographic and sectoral balance in the Guarantee Facility, to ensure equal access for small-scale organisations and grassroots initiatives and projects from all Member States, to evaluate its impact in particular on small cultural enterprises, cultural mediators and networkers, and to examine possibilities as regards the development of synergies with EFSI and with other programmes, in particular COSME, so as to ensure that the Guarantee Facility is used in the most efficient way in order to help the cultural and creative sector;

51.  Looks forward to seeing the initial results of the Financial Guarantee Facility launched in 2016; expects this new market instrument, by easing access to loans for SMEs and microbusinesses, to help towards scaling up cultural and creative projects, which are in sectors which account for 4,4 % of the EU’s GDP and 3,8 % of its workforce, so that they realise their full potential as a promising source of growth and jobs and as drivers of competitiveness, cultural diversity and cross-border cooperation; strongly regrets, however, that the Facility will be functionally operational only in those countries where a similar instrument is already in place;

52.  Welcomes the actions taken by the Commission and EACEA to provide training and equalise skills in all the CED and recommends that such efforts be pursued;

53.  Calls on the Commission and EACEA to improve the communication and exchange of information with CEDs about ongoing decision-making processes, including on the financial instruments and on new cross-sectoral initiatives; recommends the Commission, in order to improve the implementation of the programme, to take into account the expertise of CED upstream and downstream of the selection procedure, and to make the tools and documentation produced by CED available online as models of good practices; underlines the need for better collaboration between CEDs in order to make them more effective advisory tools for their national applicants; points out that the confidential sharing of evaluation reports, even negative ones, can help improve their capacity, and calls on the Commission to increase the transparency of the evaluations and selection procedures;

Recommendations for future generations of the programme

54.  Recommends that Creative Europe be continued, reviewed and improved over the period 2021-2028, as a programme that includes all cultural and creative sectors, with emphasis on high-quality projects, with the same value and priorities, with two sub-programmes and a cross-sectoral strand including training, audience development, market access, social inclusion, cooperation, cross-sectoral and crossover projects and peer-to-peer learning, as well as communication, studies, support tailored to the cultural and creative sectors, a guarantee facility, and the support for CEDs;

55.  Welcomes, in the light of the significant influx of migrants and refugees into the EU in recent years, the programme’s growing intercultural dimension, which it is hoped will result in more projects that boost cultural diversity and intercultural dialogue and promote multilingualism as of 2017; underlines that this should be supported as a regular programme component, given that cultural integration is likely to remain a challenge in many Member States for years to come;

56.  Recommends that the legal basis for the next programme should explicitly include the promotion of cultural and artistic quality and the intrinsic value of culture among the objectives of the programme and the sub-programmes, as well as among the selection and evaluation criteria;

57.  Calls on the Commission, in the revision of the MEDIA sub-programme, to examine whether the support given could be made more efficient by assigning smaller projects to the production, festivals, cinemas and distribution programme strands;

58.  Urges the Commission to take a proactive approach to the admission of new countries to the programme, with special status for European Neighbourhood South and East countries;

59.  Notes that European film co-productions are crucial in order to ensure that our products are sufficiently competitive and to meet market challenges, and recommends that they be developed by using proportionate methods and resources, also by collaborating with flagship European institutions in the sector, such as Eurimages;

60.  Calls on the Commission to assess whether it would make sense, given the multiplicity of the creative industries, to create a European observatory on culture and creativity comparable to the European Audiovisual Observatory, with standards comparable to those of the European Audiovisual Observatory, and, if so, calls on it to elaborate qualitative criteria corresponding to the specific nature of the sectors;

o
o   o

61.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission and the Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency.

(1) OJ L 347, 20.12.2013, p. 221.
(2) OJ L 169, 1.7.2015, p. 1.
(3) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0293.
(4) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0005.
(5) OJ C 346, 21.9.2016, p. 10.
(6) OJ C 93, 9.3.2016, p. 95.
(7) OJ C 377 E, 7.12.2012, p. 135.
(8) OJ C 377 E, 7.12.2012, p. 142.


Implementation of the Europe for Citizens programme
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European Parliament resolution of 2 March 2017 on the implementation of Council Regulation (EU) No 390/2014 of 14 April 2014 establishing the ʻEurope for Citizensʼ programme for the period 2014-2020 (2015/2329(INI))
P8_TA(2017)0063A8-0017/2017

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to Articles 10 and 11 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU), which state that ‘every citizen shall have the right to participate in the democratic life of the Union’, that ‘the institutions shall, by appropriate means, give citizens and representative associations the opportunity to make known and publicly exchange their views in all areas of Union action’, and that ‘the institutions shall maintain an open, transparent and regular dialogue with representative associations and civil society’,

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

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

–  having regard to Council Regulation (EU) No 390/2014 of 14 April 2014 establishing the ‘Europe for Citizens’ programme for the period 2014-2020(1),

–  having regard to its resolution of 19 January 2016 on the role of intercultural dialogue, cultural diversity and education in promoting EU fundamental values(2),

–  having regard to the report from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions on the implementation, results and overall assessment of the ‘Europe for Citizens’ programme 2007-2013 (COM(2015)0652),

–  having regard to Rule 52 of its Rules of Procedure, as well as Article 1(1)(e) of, and Annex 3 to, the decision of the Conference of Presidents of 12 December 2002 on the procedure for granting authorisation to draw up own-initiative reports,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Culture and Education and the opinions of the Committee on Budgets and the Committee on Constitutional Affairs (A8-0017/2017),

A.  whereas the Europe for Citizens programme is a unique and highly symbolic programme, insofar as it is a listening exercise on civil society’s debate, as it stimulates critical thinking on the European project, its history and that of the movements and ideas that have promoted it and as it contributes to a better knowledge of the European decision-making process, improving the conditions for civic and democratic participation at Union level;

B.  whereas the Europe for Citizens programme aims to strengthen a sense of European citizenship and belonging, enhance solidarity, mutual tolerance and respect, to promote a better understanding of the EU, its origin and development, its values, its institutions and competences and to foster an active dialogue between EU citizens; whereas the activities under the programme can be seen as part of informal lifelong education in citizenship;

C.  whereas the ‘one euro per citizen’ campaign for the Europe for Citizens programme is aimed at sending a strong symbolic message about listening to citizens’ voices in Europe;

D.  whereas the current rise of ‘Euroscepticism’ – which is reflected by anti-European forces calling into question the very existence of the European project and culminated recently in the vote in favour of Brexit – highlights the importance of such programmes and reinforces the need to foster the development of a shared sense of European identity, to reflect on the causes of the European Union’s loss of credibility, to encourage civic participation and to launch an in-depth debate on European values, which should involve the whole of civil society and the institutions themselves – and a training campaign on the functioning of EU institutions – while highlighting the opportunities brought about by belonging to the EU;

E.  whereas, before the accession of a country to the European Union takes place, profound, holistic preparation involving issues of remembrance, coming to terms with the past and ensuring the active participation of citizens in the civic life of the country concerned is required;

F.  whereas, in line with Article 11 of the TEU, the EU institutions are under an obligation to give citizens and representative associations the opportunity to exchange their views in all areas of Union action publicly; whereas this provision also entails the EU institutions’ obligation to engage in an open, transparent and regular dialogue with civil society and the Commission’s duty to carry out broad consultations with all stakeholders;

G.  whereas Article 20 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) establishes the fundamental status of Union citizenship and details the rights attached to it, and whereas a better understanding of the EU and its values is an important precondition to empower citizens to fully enjoy these rights;

H.  whereas active citizenship, education for citizenship and intercultural dialogue are key to building open, inclusive and resilient societies;

I.  whereas the current programme is founded on Article 352 of the TFEU, which only granted Parliament the right to express its position under the consent procedure and was vigorously contested by Parliament at the time that the proposal was submitted by the Commission as it strongly contradicts the democratic nature of the programme;

J.  whereas the ex-post evaluation conducted by the Commission confirmed the relevance of the programme’s objectives and the fact that, as it is distinct from other programmes in terms of its scope, objectives, activities and target groups, it has enabled initiatives that could not have been funded elsewhere;

K.  whereas, following the budgetary cuts resulting from the negotiations on the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) 2014-2020, the financial envelope for the Europe for Citizens programme was reduced by around EUR 29,5 million, and whereas the limited financial envelope of EUR 185,47 million for the programme only represents 0,0171 % of the MFF;

L.  whereas it has been noted that Member States tend to disengage from the co-financing of these projects and that local authorities find themselves in difficulties when it comes to European projects with high co-financing rates;

M.  whereas, as a consequence of the reduction in the financial envelope, the number of projects that could be financed in 2014 fell by almost 25 % compared to the previous programme;

N.  whereas non-formal and informal learning, as well as volunteering, sport, the arts and culture, provide many opportunities for citizenship education and active citizenship;

O.  whereas further synergies with other programmes and better communication with other DGs are needed in order to reduce overlap and reinforce the impact of the programme;

P.  whereas there is a proven value of the existing international twinning of cities and municipalities (Town twinning – Networks of Towns), which enhances mutual understanding between citizens and fosters friendship and cooperation;

Main conclusions

1.  Underlines that the overall funding available (EUR 185,47 million) to the only programme dedicated entirely to European citizenship, i.e. the Europe for Citizens programme, is negligible in comparison with other education and culture programmes, such as Creative Europe (EUR 1,46 billion) and Erasmus+ (EUR 14,7 billion), with the result that applicants’ expectations will be disappointed;

2.  Welcomes the fact that in the first two years of the new funding cycle, the Europe for Citizens programme, which is set to bridge the gap between the EU institutions and European citizens, seems to be running well, with a rising number of applicants, high project quality and sound project implementation;

3.  Recognises that the main obstacle to the successful implementation of the programme is insufficient financial allocation and deeply regrets that it was cut by 13,7 % under the MFF 2014-2020, which has dramatically reduced the number of financeable projects and means that the high demand cannot be met, causing frustration among candidates with valuable projects;

4.  Notes that, owing to budgetary constraints, the total number of funded projects is too small to achieve the programme’s ambitious goals and that only around 6 % of the European remembrance and civil society projects could be financed in 2015, which is very low in comparison to the Creative Europe programme results for the same year (19,64 % for Culture and 45,6 % for MEDIA); indicates that the funding for these two strands of the Europe for Citizens programme should be substantially increased in line with the ambitions of the programme;

5.  Recognises the success of the city twinning projects all over the EU, and calls on the Member States to promote the scheme among municipalities and to facilitate cooperation;

6.  Welcomes the Europe for Citizens newsletter and the database on funded projects, launched by the Commission;

7.  Highlights the fact that the Europe for Citizens’ national contact points (NCPs) play an important role in raising awareness and providing support and guidance to potential applicants (in particular first-time applicants in target countries), as well as European and national associations of local and regional government and civil society organisations;

8.  Welcomes the multidisciplinary approach of the programme, its clear and simple application form and reporting requirements and its focus on specific activities;

9.  Welcomes the fact that the priorities defined for both strands of the programme, ‘European remembrance’ and ‘Democratic engagement and civic participation’, which were previously modified annually, have henceforth become multiannual and will apply throughout the remaining period of the programme (2016-2020);

10.  Acknowledges the fact that the impact of the programme remains proportionally high, as is shown by the fact that in 2015 an estimated 1 100 000 participants were involved in the 408 projects selected; considers also that the high number of applications – 2 087 in 2014 and 2 791 in 2015 – and the quality of projects indicate a high level of interest in the programme and the need to dedicate more human and financial resources to the programme in order to increase the number of projects supported;

Recommendations

Legal aspects of implementation

11.  Recommends that the next generation of the Europe for Citizens programme should be adopted with a legal base enabling Parliament to be involved in the adoption of the programme as a co-legislator under the ordinary legislative procedure, on an equal footing with the Council; encourages the Commission to think of possible solutions to achieve this objective;

Financial aspect of implementation

12.  Considers that high quality projects, such as European remembrance and civil society projects (6 % success rate, as opposed to 19,64 % for Culture and 45,6 % for MEDIA in the Creative Europe Programme), have been rejected because of the lack of sufficient funding in the Europe for Citizens programme; regarding the decisive role played by this programme as a prerequisite for citizens’ participation in the democratic life of the Union, considers that a substantial increase in the current budget would be necessary in order to achieve a higher target rate; calls, therefore, on the Commission, the Council and the Member States to consider a total financial envelope of approximately EUR 500 million for the Europe for Citizens programme under the next MFF, which only represent EUR 1 per citizen;

13.  Recognizes the common goal of and the potential synergies between the European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) and the Europe for Citizens Programme (EfC) in enabling citizens to participate directly in the development of EU policies; calls nevertheless on the Commission to ensure that ECI is not financed under the EfC programme’s limited budget, as it is currently the case, and urges the Member States to be more involved in financial support to both actions;

14.  Notes that the lump sum or flat rate system should take into consideration price differences across the EU, depending on the cost of living in the Member States; recommends rethinking this scheme and the reduction in pre-financing in order to ensure the sustainability of the funded projects and to provide better support to cooperation among local administrations or organisations at a wider distance, and in particular to facilitate the involvement of smaller organisations with a limited financial capacity and participants with special needs;

15.  Requests that the Commission and the Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA) regularly assess the impact that a number of budgetary arrangements have had on applicants and potential eligible applicants; requests in particular an assessment of whether the reduced rate of pre-financing (from 50 % to 40 % for projects and from 80 % to 50 % for operating grants and national contact points (NCPs)) applied in 2015, owing to an acute shortage of payment appropriations, the need for co-financing and the application of the same parameters irrespective of the actual cost of living and geographical remoteness, may have put – and may continue to put – some types of organisations and specific Member States at a disadvantage; requests, moreover, that they develop further strategies to bring European institutions closer to citizens and to better inform citizens on various EU policies;

16.  Notes that a further parameter should be incorporated into the lump sum or flat rate system, so that persons with special needs can be accommodated more effectively, since many more staff and, often, additional measures, which in turn generate higher costs, are needed in order to enable persons with a disability to participate;

17.  Underlines that operating grants guarantee independence to beneficiaries (i.e. think tanks) and offer the possibility of long-term planning to realise vision-oriented activities and to develop expertise; recommends the use of specific criteria, indicators and annual reporting to monitor progress towards their goals and to make sure that these funding schemes do not lead to the beneficiary’s dependency on the Commission;

18.  Calls for the Commission and the EACEA to account publicly for the expenses incurred through strand 3 on Horizontal Action – Valorisation – Analysis, dissemination and use of project results;

19.  Invites the Commission and the EACEA to include in the interim evaluation report, due by 31 December 2017, a thorough assessment of the financial and budgetary implementation of the programme and to draw lessons from this assessment with a view to redefining the future goals and adjusting the budgetary requirements of the programme in the next multiannual financial framework;

Coordination and communication aspects

20.  Calls on the Commission to gather together all useful information regarding the Europe for Citizens programme (programme guide, priorities, calls for proposals, ongoing and past projects, outcomes and lessons learned, newsletter), along with all the programmes, actions, grants and structural funds that come under the umbrella of European citizenship (such as the European Citizens’ Initiative and the European Voluntary Service), in a unique, user-friendly communication portal (one-stop-shop online platform) also accessible to persons with disabilities; recommends that this platform should be used as a public register of the beneficiaries’ contact details and as a tool to access the projects’ descriptions and to find partners in other countries;

21.  Emphasises that rejected applications should be responded to satisfactorily, indicating the reasons for the rejection, especially when the entity that lodged an application asks for an explanation; suggests considering, where possible, the identification of priority issues from similar rejected applications;

22.  Points out that certain objectives of the Europe for Citizens programme are similar or complementary to those of the European Citizens’ Initiative, in particular the aspiration to involve citizens in the EU; believes, for that reason, that efforts should be made to follow a common approach in designing EU policies on citizens’ participation and participatory democracy, supported by a consistent communication strategy, in order to include under one umbrella all the Commission’s programmes related to European citizenship, possibly by promoting and enhancing direct experiences and grassroots involvement;

23.  Underlines the need to create an open list of potential partners in each Member State in order to facilitate partnerships between those who would like to access the Europe for Citizens programme;

24.  Recommends as well the creation of an online platform for the main organisations working in the field of citizenship and benefiting from the programme in order to pool good practices, reinforce capacities and enhance visibility once projects have finished;

25.  Calls on the Commission to raise the programme’s profile and make the public more aware of its objectives, by implementing an engaging communication strategy for European citizenship – using social networks, radio, TV advertisement and billboards – by reinforcing local engagement with the active involvement of NCPs and by constantly updating content and reaching new audiences in the participating countries, with a particular focus on those in which the level of participation is lower, and on young people, persons with disabilities and vulnerable people;

26.  Takes the view that the programme should also serve to publicise existing channels of direct participation in the European Union, such as the European Citizens’ Initiative, citizens’ forums and public consultations, so as to raise public awareness of the opportunities for direct participation within the EU’s institutional framework;

27.  Urges the participating countries which have not yet done so to designate a national contact point; recommends reinforcing the coordination and synergy among these countries, the Member States and the Commission;

28.  Acknowledges that the biggest challenge is to achieve the current ambitious goals with the limited funding available; emphasises the importance of the Member States, regions and local governments in increasing the effectiveness and popularity of the programme, including by maximising the potential of the NCPs through an exchange of experience with entities responsible for similar projects, such as Erasmus+ and Creative Europe; encourages the EACEA to facilitate and boost, wherever possible, synergies across EU programmes such as Creative Europe, Erasmus+ and the European Social Fund, so as to improve impact;

29.  Calls on the Commission to increase to an even greater extent its efforts on administrative simplification, considering that formal requirements are sometimes difficult to overcome for particularly small organisations that should not be discriminated against for bureaucratic reasons;

30.  Recommends that the funds allocated to communication should not be used to cover institutional communication of the priorities of the Union, as is currently set out in Article 12 of the present programme, but should be used to publicise the programme itself in the participating countries, especially those in which the level of participation is lower;

Focus and objectives of the programme

31.  Recommends, in the next generation programme, formalising the multiannual approach in the definition of the priorities and enhancing synergies among the strands and the components of the programme; stresses that any changes to the structure of the programme should be made in such a way as to prevent the possibility of confusion amongst its end users, thereby reducing its impact;

32.  Welcomes the strong focus on citizens and societal aspects of the EU, allowing EU institutions to engage directly with civil society on the ground; highlights within the priorities of the programme the importance of projects focused on current challenges for Europe, on issues such as diversity, migration, refugees, preventing radicalisation, fostering social inclusion, intercultural dialogue, addressing financing problems and identifying the common European cultural legacy; invites the Commission and Member States to strengthen the links between the programme’s priorities and the policies linked to European citizenship as well as the daily life of European citizens;

33.  Argues that the programme should reach out to a wider range of participants, guarantee the participation of people with special needs, promote the participation of marginalised and disenfranchised people, including migrants, refugees and asylum seekers;

34.  Is of the opinion that, where relevant, the programme should build on existing successful grassroots initiatives such as town twinning;

35.  Stresses the need to develop – within the ‘European Remembrance’ strand – a European identity that should be oriented towards the future and not only the past, plural, transcultural and open to migration flows and influences from the rest of the world, with a view to achieving a common integration founded on European values and European secular and spiritual heritage; stresses the need to ensure that history is not used as a divisive tool, but as an opportunity to address contemporary challenges through sensitive interpretation and skilful, targeted education programmes; emphasises the importance of fostering inter-generational projects that allow exchanges of experience between older and younger generations;

36.  Stresses the need to encourage projects presenting new formats of discussion with citizens, in an attractive format and style, and with a multidimensional approach;

37.  Proposes the yearly publication by the Commission of a synthetic report containing the main proposals to improve the European project voiced by the participants in the projects financed by the ‘Europe for Citizens’ programme;

38.  Stresses the need to enrich the programme with proposals on citizens’ participation in the democratic process and in EU decision-making, in a way that contributes to empowering citizens to make use of their rights, for instance through the implementation of e-democracy; calls on the Union and its Member States, in order to achieve this, to develop actions and policies to strengthen transferable, critical and creative thinking skills as well as digital and media literacy, the inclusion of their citizens and stimulate curiosity, especially amongst children and young people, so that they will be able to take informed decisions and make a positive contribution to democratic processes;

39.  Points out that participation in the programme by countries seeking EU membership leads to better mutual understanding and closer cooperation; recommends greater internationalisation of the programme, notably by inviting all European Free Trade Association (EFTA), European Economic Area (EEA), accession and candidate countries to join forces with EU Member States in applying for projects, and calls for more cooperation between NGOs from the EU, Eastern and Southern Partnership countries and potential candidates in order to bring the EU closer to citizens; proposes promoting cooperation between organisations in the EU and in neighbouring countries on European values;

40.  Stresses the need to develop town twinning, focusing on ways of making greater use of the scheme, its promotion and results, including the adequate allocation of financial resources;

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

(1) OJ L 115, 17.4.2014, p. 3.
(2) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0005.


Common Commercial Policy in the context of wildlife sustainability imperatives
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European Parliament resolution of 2 March 2017 on EU Common Commercial Policy in the context of wildlife sustainability imperatives (2016/2054(INI))
P8_TA(2017)0064A8-0012/2017

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, in particular Articles 191 and 207 thereof,

–  having regard to the Treaty on European Union, in particular Article 21(2) thereof,

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

–  having regard to the EU textual proposal for a trade and sustainable development chapter in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), in particular Articles 10 to 16 thereof,

–  having regard to the outcome of the UN Summit on Sustainable Development of 2015, ‘Transforming Our World: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development’, in particular paragraphs 9 and 33 and goal 15 thereof,

–  having regard to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), in particular Article XX(a) and (g) thereof,

–  having regard to the 2016 EU Action Plan against wildlife trafficking (COM(2016)0087) (hereinafter the ‘Action Plan’),

–  having regard to the Council conclusions of 20 June 2016 on ‘the EU Action Plan and Wildlife Trafficking’,

–  having regard to Council Regulation (EC) No 338/97 of 9 December 1996 on the protection of species of wild fauna and flora by regulating trade therein(1), and to Directive 2008/99/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 19 November 2008 on the protection of the environment through criminal law(2),

–  having regard to UN General Assembly Resolution 69/314 on ‘Tackling illicit trafficking in wildlife’ and to UN Environment Assembly Resolution 1/3 on ‘Illegal trade in wildlife’,

–  having regard to the outcomes of the CITES CoP17 in Johannesburg,

–  having regard to the outcomes of the February 2014 London Conference on the Illegal Wildlife Trade and the Kasane review of progress of March 2015,

–  having regard to the outcome of the 2016 International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) World Conservation Congress in Hawaii,

–  having regard to the UN Convention against Transnational Organised Crime,

–  having regard to the Global Wildlife Programme (GWP) of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) of the World Bank,

–  having regard to the 2016 World Wildlife Crime Report of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC),

–  having regard to the declaration of June 2014 of the Customs Cooperation Council of the World Customs Organisation (WCO) on the illegal wildlife trade,

–  having regard to the declaration made at Buckingham Palace (London) by the United for Wildlife Transport Taskforce (hereinafter the ‘Buckingham Palace Declaration’),

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on International Trade (A8-0012/2017),

A.  whereas the world is facing an unprecedented surge in wildlife trafficking, and concomitant biological crises arise from the continued illegal and unsustainable harvesting and marketing of global fauna and flora;

B.  whereas the uncontrolled and excessive use of wild animal and plant species represents the second most serious threat to their survival in the wild, immediately following the destruction of habitats;

C.  whereas according to estimates, the illegal trade in wild flora and fauna is the fourth most profitable area of criminal activity, with an estimated turnover of as much as EUR 20 billion;

D.  whereas the latest trends indicate the growing involvement of large-scale criminal and organised networks making use of increasingly sophisticated methods;

E.  whereas wildlife trafficking contributes to fuelling conflicts and terrorist networks are suspected of sourcing financing, inter alia, from the illegal wildlife trade, generating significant profits;

F.  whereas the attendant problems of corruption and weak governance structures exacerbate existing vulnerabilities in wildlife trade frameworks;

G.  whereas the European Union is currently a destination market for these species, a hub for transit to other regions, and also an area from which certain species are sourced for illegal trade;

H.  whereas ensuring the engagement of and benefit for rural communities from source countries in wildlife conservation is essential to tackle the root causes of illegal wildlife trafficking;

I.  whereas wildlife cybercrime poses a serious threat to endangered wildlife species, including elephants, rhinos, pangolins, reptiles, amphibians, birds and giraffes;

J.  whereas trade policy allied to development cooperation can represent a strong motor for economic growth in developing countries;

K.  whereas the increase in illegal trade in numerous species of flora and fauna results in loss of biodiversity and ecosystem destruction, with increasing numbers becoming vulnerable or even extinct;

L.  whereas sustainable wildlife trade can be of crucial importance to certain marginalised communities, which rely on legal frameworks in order to conserve local resources and contribute to poverty reduction;

Trends, principles and general considerations

1.  Observes with serious disquiet recent increases in wildlife trafficking and wildlife crime, which if not halted and reversed threaten to have serious and permanent consequences as regards preserving biodiversity and environmental sustainability;

2.  Notes that the EU, as a signatory to numerous global conventions aimed at protection of the environment, has a legal obligation to ensure that its policies and international treaties contribute to that objective;

3.  Believes that increased economic development stemming from integration into global markets and the use of natural resources for the purposes of sustainable economic development are not mutually exclusive, but rather should be seen as mutually enforcing;

4.  Strongly supports, therefore, an approach towards wildlife issues that not only upholds the environmental protection objectives of the EU and its trading partners but also allows for the creation of sustainable and legal trade frameworks which strengthen the positive contribution of trade policy to sustainable development;

5.  Stresses with concern that the EU, alongside the USA, remains a significant destination market and transit route for illicit wildlife products;

6.  Welcomes the EU Action Plan against Wildlife Trafficking, which will play a crucial role in combating the alarming rise in the highly lucrative illegal trade in wildlife, which destabilises economies and communities that depend on wildlife for their livelihood and threatens the peace and security of fragile regions of EU trade partners by strengthening illicit routes;

7.  Believes that only an integrated approach to wildlife crime can ultimately be successful in curtailing and eliminating the illegal trade, and that the EU must lead efforts in tackling not only supply-side issues, including development issues on the ground in third countries, but also demand for illegal products in domestic markets, including online platforms;

International institutions and governments

8.  Recalls that under WTO law, countries are permitted to introduce exceptions to the general rules of the GATT in Article XX(g) in order to regulate exhaustible natural resources and in Article XX(a) in order to protect public morals; notes that the WTO Appellate Body has broadly interpreted ‘exhaustible natural resources’ to include living species that may be vulnerable to depletion, and that WTO jurisprudence has specifically highlighted inclusion of species in annexes to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) as evidence of their exhaustibility; notes also that the WTO Appellate Body has broadly interpreted ‘public morals’ to cover concerns regarding the prevention of cruelty to animals;

9.  Welcomes the efforts made by the EU within the WTO to reduce harmful fishing subsidies, which can undermine the sustainable management of fisheries and endanger the conservation of species such as turtles, sharks, seabirds and marine mammals;

10.  Reiterates its strong commitment to the UN Sustainable Development Goals and to ensuring the ultimate success of Goal 15, which includes a pledge to end poaching and trafficking of protected species of flora and fauna, as well as to combat both supply and demand with regard to trafficked products;

11.  Welcomes the ongoing activity of the International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime, an initiative involving CITES, Interpol, the UNODC, the World Bank and the WCO;

Customs and online trade

12.  Welcomes also the WCO’s INAMA project, which seeks to enhance the ability of customs authorities to improve capacity-building in order to fight wildlife crime; calls for the greater participation of customs authorities in enforcement operations aimed at combating the illegal wildlife trade, and for increased awareness-raising activities with the objective of improving the training and functioning of customs authorities;

13.  Considers that online wildlife crime poses a serious threat to endangered animals, including elephants, rhinos, amphibians, reptiles and birds, and that governments, companies and non-governmental organisations should work together against this;

14.  Considers that the customs dimension of the European Union’s Action Plan should be further strengthened, with regard to both cooperation with partner countries and better and more effective implementation within the Union; looks forward, therefore, to the Commission’s 2016 review of the implementation and enforcement of the EU’s current legal framework, and asks for this review to include an assessment of customs procedures;

15.  Calls on the Commission to investigate to what extent EU legislation on wildlife trade is uniformly applied in different Member States by customs officers responsible for controls;

16.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to work on information sharing and capacity building, including specific training, for customs officers;

The role of the private sector and non-governmental organisations

17.  Highlights the importance of ensuring the private sector’s involvement in the fight against wildlife trafficking, including the engagement of online marketplaces and social media;

18.  Welcomes workable solutions that, when integrated into existing supply chain and trade management systems, will allow the private sector to play a role as a true partner to governments and international bodies in ensuring the responsible management of global supply chains; stresses, however, that the common commercial policy should promote binding corporate social responsibility standards, guiding and supporting the private sector on socially responsible practice; considers that corporate social responsibility standards are of particular importance within transport networks;

19.  Welcomes emerging collaborative zero-tolerance approaches between wildlife trade experts and logistics companies; considers that the Commission should reflect on how best to ensure that the relevant legal frameworks can better address risks related to e-commerce and online and offline commercial advertising;

20.  Welcomes the role played by non-governmental organisations and civil society not only in the fight against the illegal trade in wild flora and fauna, including awareness-raising, and the reduction in demand both in the EU and on the territory of the third countries in which those wild flora and fauna originate, but also within the domestic advisory groups envisaged under EU free trade agreements to monitor the implementation of the trade and sustainable development provisions;

21.  Welcomes the United for Wildlife Transport Taskforce Buckingham Palace Declaration of March 2016, which aims to involve private sector actors in addressing vulnerabilities in transportation and customs procedures which are exploited by traffickers, as well as to improve information sharing along the length of global supply chains and trade routes;

22.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to engage with non-governmental organisations in reducing trafficking, changing consumer behaviour and reducing demand for illegal wildlife products by means of campaigns aimed at raising awareness of issues pertaining to the challenge of combating the illegal wildlife trade, especially in countries where this demand is higher;

EU legal framework and trade agreements

23.  Considers that in the existing domestic legal framework the key challenge and priority for EU Member States, at this stage, is implementation of the existing rules; recognises, however, that supplementary provisions taking into account those rules existing in other states should be examined in order to prohibit the making available and placing on the market, transport and acquisition of wildlife that has been illegally harvested or traded in third countries, according to that country’s own legal framework; considers that the current legal framework should also be examined in order to better address risks related to e-commerce;

24.  Supports the approach that includes in future EU trade agreements provisions aimed at tackling wildlife trafficking;

25.  Welcomes the Commission’s proposal for a chapter on trade and sustainable development in TTIP, as part of its ongoing commitment to ensure sustainable development; notes that the US has sought in its trade agreements to negotiate standards covering trade in wildlife, including by limiting fishery subsidies; stresses that robust provisions on wildlife protection should be negotiated in all future EU free trade agreements, including provisions and commitments aimed at the proper implementation of agreed Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs) as part of the trade and sustainable development chapters;

26.  Welcomes the EU’s more ambitious approach on wildlife protection in the trade and sustainable development chapter of the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement, which includes not only commitments regarding the proper implementation and enforcement of MEAs such as CITES, the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling (ICRW) but also provisions related to trade capacity building, information exchange and awareness raising, and urges the EU and the Member States to guarantee proper implementation of these commitments and provisions; considers that these commitments should be enforceable to ensure effective and continued compliance, including by envisaging an appropriate role for non-governmental and civil society organisations;

27.  Supports the approach, as outlined in the Trade for All Strategy, of including anti-corruption provisions in future trade agreements, given the known role that corruption plays in facilitating the illegal wildlife trade, as well as the EU’s commitment to implementing trade policies that promote sustainable development, which will help to achieve the global goals agreed as part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development;

Recommendations

28.  Supports an approach to EU trade policy that not only prioritises the issue of combating the illegal wildlife trade but includes in all future agreements provisions aimed at its reduction and ultimate elimination, along with robust and effective complementary measures, with particular regard to training, prevention and the application of sanctions in the field of forest management, health and customs;

29.  Underlines that nothing in EU trade policy should prevent the EU or its trading partners from taking decisions that are necessary for the protection of wildlife and natural resources, provided that such measures continue to be in pursuit of legitimate public policy objectives and do not represent arbitrary or unjustifiable discrimination;

30.  Believes there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution to global wildlife sustainability and combating the illegal trade; recalls in this light the need to ensure full flexibility and to share information, data and best practice, in order to facilitate dialogue with a view to enhanced cooperation, bearing in mind the cross-border nature of this type of infringement;

31.  Recommends that EU Member States consider policy solutions that would allow for the elimination of all remaining legal loopholes that could facilitate the ‘laundering’ of illegally sourced wildlife and wildlife products; recommends, further, that exhaustive monitoring be carried out in this connection and that efficient use be made of existing resources and agencies in order to achieve this objective;

32.  Calls for the EU and its Member States to consider a possible ban at European level of trade, export or re-export within and outside the EU of elephant ivory, including ‘pre-Convention’ ivory, in a manner compliant with WTO law;

33.  Demands that sufficient resources are committed for policies and measures designed to meet the EU’s objectives in terms of combating the illegal wildlife trade, which includes resources for third countries in terms of capacity-building, in particular for customs procedures, authorities, transparency and good governance;

34.  Asks that the Commission and the Member States continue to work with all actors concerned to ensure an integrated approach that not only targets the sources of illegal wildlife and wildlife products but also acts to curtail demand and raise awareness in demand markets;

35.  Asks that the Member States and the Commission do more to ensure that the illegal criminal networks and syndicates active in illegal wildlife trade are targeted for disruption, elimination and prosecution, and that the Member States ensure that the punishments and sentences reserved for wildlife crime are both proportionate and dissuasive and in line with commitments, where appropriate, as defined in the UN Convention against Transnational Organised Crime;

36.  Calls on the EU to explore, within the scope of the WTO framework, how global trade and environmental regimes can better support each other, especially in the context of ongoing work on strengthening coherence between the WTO and MEAs, as well as in light of the Trade Facilitation Agreement;

37.  Considers that further opportunities for cooperation between the WTO and CITES should be explored, in particular in terms of offering technical assistance and capacity building on trade and environment matters to officials from developing countries; asks that the Commission continue to reflect on this as part of the post-Nairobi discussions and future elements that will be considered at the next Ministerial Conference in Buenos Aires in 2017;

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38.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Member States, CITES, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the WCO, the WTO and Interpol.

(1) OJ L 61, 3.3.1997, p. 1.
(2) OJ L 328, 6.12.2008, p. 28.

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