Index 
Texts adopted
Thursday, 16 March 2017 - StrasbourgFinal edition
Zimbabwe, the case of Pastor Evan Mawarire
 Ukrainian political prisoners in Russia and situation in Crimea
 Philippines, the case of senator Leila M. De Lima
 EU priorities for the UN Human Rights Council sessions in 2017
 Supply chain due diligence by importers of minerals and metals originating in conflict-affected and high-risk areas ***I
 Union framework for the collection, management and use of data in the fisheries sector ***I
 Constitutional, legal and institutional implications of a Common Security and Defence Policy: possibilities offered by the Lisbon Treaty
 An integrated EU policy for the Arctic
 2016 Report on Montenegro
 e-Democracy in the EU: potential and challenges

Zimbabwe, the case of Pastor Evan Mawarire
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European Parliament resolution of 16 March 2017 on Zimbabwe, the case of Pastor Evan Mawarire and other cases of restriction of freedom of expression (2017/2608(RSP))
P8_TA(2017)0086RC-B8-0191/2017

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its previous resolutions on Zimbabwe,

–  having regard to the Local EU Statement on Local Governance of 30 June 2016,

–  having regard to the Local EU Statement on violence of 12 July 2016,

–  having regard to the joint Local EU Statement on the abduction of Itai Dzamara of 9 March 2017,

–  having regard to the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission’s press statement on public protests and police conduct,

–  having regard to Council Decision (CFSP) 2016/220 of 15 February 2016(1) extending EU restrictive measures against Zimbabwe until 20 February 2017,

–  having regard to the Declaration by the High Representative on behalf of the EU of 19 February 2014 on the review of EU-Zimbabwe relations,

–  having regard to the Global Political Agreement signed in 2008 by the three main political parties, namely ZANU PF, MDC-T and MDC,

–  having regard to the Council of the European Union conclusions of 23 July 2012 on Zimbabwe and to Council Implementing Decision 2012/124/CFSP of 27 February 2012 implementing Decision 2011/101/CFSP concerning restrictive measures against Zimbabwe(2),

–  having regard to the African Charter of Human and Peoples’ Rights of June 1981, which Zimbabwe has ratified,

–  having regard to the EU Guidelines on the promotion and protection of freedom of religion or belief,

–  having regard to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of December 1948,

–  having regard to the Constitution of Zimbabwe,

–  having regard to the Cotonou Agreement,

–  having regard to Rules 135(5) and 123(4) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.  whereas the people of Zimbabwe have suffered for many years under an authoritarian regime led by President Mugabe that maintains its power through corruption, violence, elections plagued by irregularities and a brutal security apparatus; whereas the people of Zimbabwe have not experienced true freedom in decades and many under the age of thirty have therefore only known lives of poverty and violent repression;

B.  whereas the #ThisFlag independent social media movement founded by Evan Mawarire, a pastor and human rights defenders based in Harare, catalysed the frustration of citizens with the Mugabe regime during last year’s protests against the government’s inaction against corruption, impunity and poverty; whereas Pastor Mawarire has called on the government to address the failing economy and respect human rights; whereas the #ThisFlag movement has drawn support from churches and the middle class, which had hitherto tended to steer clear of street politics;

C.  whereas Pastor Evan Mawarire was already arrested on charges of incitement to commit public violence and released in July 2016, and subsequently left Zimbabwe the same month for fear of his and his family’s safety;

D.  whereas on 1 February 2017 Pastor Evan Mawarire was arrested at Harare airport on his return to Zimbabwe; whereas he was initially charged with ‘subverting a constitutional government’ under Section 22 of the Criminal Procedure Act, an offence which is punishable with imprisonment for up to 20 years; whereas on 2 February 2017 another charge was added, that of insulting the flag under Section 6 of the Flag of Zimbabwe Act; whereas Pastor Mawarire was only released on bail after having spent nine days in custody;

E.  whereas, in a public statement, the Zimbabwean Human Rights Commission expressed deep concern about the brutality and violent conduct of the police, stating that the fundamental rights of demonstrators were violated, and called on the Zimbabwean authorities to investigate and bring the perpetrators to justice;

F.  whereas Itai Dzamara, a journalist and political activist, was abducted on 9 March 2015 by five unidentified men at a barbershop in Harare; whereas the High Court ordered the government to search for Dzamara and report on progress to the Court every fortnight until his whereabouts had been determined; whereas the fate of Mr Dzamara remains unknown;

G.  whereas Promise Mkwananzi, the leader of #Tajamuka, a social movement linked to the July stay-away, was arrested and charged for inciting public violence ahead of the call for ‘shutdown 3.0’ scheduled for 31 August 2016 and has been released on bail; whereas another #Tajamuka activist, Mrs Linda Masarira, who was previously arrested in May 2015 and remanded out of custody on free bail, was arrested again during the protest in July 2016;

H.  whereas the EU restrictive measures against the Zimbabwe regime were renewed in February 2017 until 20 February 2018; whereas the asset freeze and travel bans will continue to apply to President Mugabe, Grace Mugabe and Zimbabwe Defence Industries; whereas an arms embargo will remain in place; whereas the EU has lifted restrictions on 78 people and eight entities;

I.  whereas Zimbabwe is a signatory to the Cotonou Agreement, Article 9 of which stipulates that respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms is an essential element of ACP-EU cooperation;

J.  whereas the EUR 234 million allocated to the National Indicative Programme (NIP) for Zimbabwe for the period 2014-2020 under the 11th European Development Fund is to be focused on three main sectors, namely health, agriculture-based economic development, and governance and institution building;

1.  Deplores the arrest of Pastor Evan Mawarire; stresses that his release on bail is not sufficient and that the politically motivated charges against him must be completely withdrawn;

2.  Calls on the Zimbabwean authorities to ensure that the criminal justice system is not misused to target, harass or intimidate human rights defenders such as Pastor Evan Mawarire;

3.  Believes that freedom of assembly, association and expression are essential components of any democracy; stresses that expressing an opinion in a non-violent way is a constitutional right for all Zimbabwean citizens and reminds the authorities of their obligation to protect the rights of all citizens;

4.  Is deeply concerned by human rights organisations’ reports of political violence, as well as restrictions on, and intimidation of, human rights defenders; regrets that since the last elections, and the adoption of the new Constitution in 2013, little progress has been made with regard to the rule of law and in particular towards reforming the human rights environment;

5.  Calls on the Zimbabwean authorities to ascertain Mr Dzamara’s whereabouts and to ensure that those who are responsible for his abduction face justice; notes that expressing opinion in a non-violent way is a constitutional right for all Zimbabwean citizens and it is the obligation of the authorities to protect the rights of all citizens;

6.  Expresses also its concern about the case of Mrs Linda Masarira, who was convicted on public violence charges arising from the national strike held on 6 July 2016; calls on the Government of Zimbabwe to show restraint and respect the human rights of all Zimbabwean citizens, including the right to free speech and freedom of assembly; reminds the government of its responsibilities as regards respecting, obeying and not subverting the Constitution, and serving all Zimbabwean people impartially without exception;

7.  Calls on the EU Delegation in Harare to continue to offer its assistance to Zimbabwe in order to improve the human rights situation and to explore the possibilities of facilitating an EU election observation mission;

8.  Stresses again the importance for the EU to start up a political dialogue with the Zimbabwean authorities in the framework of the Cotonou Agreement, thereby confirming the EU’s commitment to supporting the local population;

9.  Insists that the EU must ensure that the funding allocated to Zimbabwe for its National Indicative Programme effectively addresses the sectors concerned, and calls on the Government of Zimbabwe to allow the Commission unhindered access to EU-funded projects and to enhance its openness to technical assistance for jointly agreed projects and programmes;

10.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Commission, the Council, the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the EEAS, the Government and the Parliament of Zimbabwe, the governments of the South African Development Community and the African Union.

(1) OJ L 40, 17.2.2016, p. 11.
(2) OJ L 54, 28.2.2012, p. 20.


Ukrainian political prisoners in Russia and situation in Crimea
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European Parliament resolution of 16 March 2017 on the Ukrainian prisoners in Russia and the situation in Crimea (2017/2596(RSP))
P8_TA(2017)0087RC-B8-0190/2017

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Association Agreement and the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area between the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community and their Member States, of the one part, and Ukraine, of the other part,

–  having regard to its previous resolutions on Ukraine and Russia, in particular those of 4 February 2016 on the human rights situation in Crimea, in particular of the Crimean Tatars(1) and of 12 May 2016 on the Crimean Tatars(2), as well as those regarding specific cases of Ukrainians illegally detained in Russia, such as those of 30 April 2015 on the case of Nadiya Savchenko(3) and of 10 September 2015 on Russia, in particular the cases of Eston Kohver(4), Oleg Sentsov and Olexandr Kolchenko(5),

–  having regard to UN General Assembly resolution 68/262 of 27 March 2014 entitled ‘Territorial integrity of Ukraine’ and to UN General Assembly resolution 71/205 of 19 December 2016 entitled ‘Situation of human rights in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol (Ukraine)’,

–  having regard to the European Convention on Human Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP),

–  having regard to the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War,

–  having regard to the ‘Package of measures for the implementation of the Minsk Agreements’, adopted and signed in Minsk on 12 February 2015 and endorsed as a whole by UN Security Council resolution 2202 (2015) of 17 February 2015,

–  having regard to the Council decisions continuing the sanctions imposed on the Russian Federation in relation to the illegal annexation of the Crimean peninsula,

–  having regard to the ruling of the so-called Crimean Supreme Court of 26 April 2016, which found the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People to be an extremist organisation and banned its activity in the Crimean peninsula,

–  having regard to Rules 135(5) and 123(4) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.  whereas March 2017 marks the third sad anniversary of the illegal annexation of the Crimean peninsula by Russia;

B.  whereas the annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation is illegal and in violation of international law and European agreements signed by both the Russian Federation and Ukraine, notably the UN Charter, the Helsinki Final Act and the Budapest Memorandum and the 1997 Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Partnership between Ukraine and the Russian Federation;

C.  whereas throughout the duration of annexation the Russian authorities are to be held responsible for the protection of the people and citizens of Crimea, through the de facto authorities present in the region;

D.  whereas according to human rights organisations and public sources, at least 62 Ukrainian citizens have been illegally prosecuted for political reasons by the Russian law enforcement agencies, 49 of whom are residents of Crimea; whereas the number of Ukrainian political prisoners in Russia increased during 2016, despite the welcomed release of six Ukrainians; whereas, currently, 17 citizens of Ukraine are illegally detained in the Russian Federation and 15 in occupied Crimea; whereas at least one hundred Ukrainians are being held hostage in appalling conditions by the Russia-supported separatist forces in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine;

E.  whereas the use of torture and cruel and degrading treatment has been reported in various cases; whereas these allegations have not been appropriately investigated to date; whereas torture has been used to obtain confessions and support false evidence of guilt; whereas Crimean lawyers who provide legal assistance to these people and human rights defenders who report cases of politically motivated enforced disappearance in Crimea, as well as journalists who report on the situation of the Crimean Tatars, have also been targeted;

F.  whereas many of the prisoners and detainees have faced harsh and inhumane conditions in prisons, causing physical and psychological risks to their health; whereas there are prisoners who require urgent medical attention and treatment;

G.  whereas on 16 December 2016 the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) defined Russia as an occupying power and condemned the temporary occupation of the territory of Ukraine – The Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol by the Russian Federation and reaffirmed the non-recognition of its annexation;

H.  whereas according to Article 70 of the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, ‘protected persons shall not be arrested, prosecuted or convicted by the Occupying Power for acts committed or for opinions expressed before the occupation’; whereas in the UNGA resolution Russia is recognised as a State which is the Occupying Power, and obligations of the Occupying Power, including the protection of the people and citizens of Crimea, are imposed on it;

I.  whereas restrictive Russian legislation regulating political and civil rights has been extended to Crimea, which has resulted in the freedoms of assembly, expression, association, access to information and religion being drastically curtailed, as well as credible reports of intimidation, enforced disappearances and torture;

J.  whereas there are approximately 20 000 internally displaced persons from Crimea in other Ukrainian regions, the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People has been banned and proclaimed an extremist organisation and Ukrainian schools on the peninsula have been closed;

K.  whereas on 16 January 2017, Ukraine filed a case at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to hold the Russian Federation accountable for its support for terrorism in the east of Ukraine and acts of discrimination against ethnic Ukrainians and Crimean Tatars in occupied Crimea;

1.  Supports the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognised borders and strongly reiterates its condemnation of the illegal annexation of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the City of Sevastopol by the Russian Federation; fully supports the firm and sustained determination of the EU and its Member States not to recognise this annexation and the restrictive measures taken in this respect;

2.  Recalls that the human rights situation on the Crimean peninsula has significantly deteriorated, violation of freedom of speech, media abuse and forced imposition of Russian citizenship have become systematic and fundamental human rights and freedoms are not guaranteed in Crimea;

3.  Condemns the discriminatory policies imposed by the so-called authorities against, in particular, Crimea’s ethnic Tatar minority, the infringement of their property rights, the increasing intimidation of this community and of those that oppose the Russian annexation, and the lack of freedom of expression and association in the peninsula;

4.  Calls on Russia to release without further delay all illegally and arbitrarily detained Ukrainian citizens, both in Russia and in the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine, and to provide for their safe return, including Mykola Karpyuk, Stanislav Klykh, Oleksandr Kolchenko, Oleg Sentsov, Oleksiy Chyrniy, Oleksandr Kostenko, Serhiy Lytvynov, Valentyn Vyhivskyi, Viktor Shur, Andriy Kolomiyets, Ruslan Zeytullayev, Nuri Primov, Rustem Vaitov, Ferat Sayfullayev, Akhtem Chiyhoz, Mustafa Dehermendzhi, Ali Asanov, Inver Bekirov, Muslim Aliyev, Vadim Siruk, Arsen Dzhepparov, Refat Alimov, Zevri Abseitov, Remzi Memetov, Rustem Abiltarov, Enver Mamutov, Artur Panov, Evheniy Panov, Roman Suschenko and Emir-Usein Kuku, human rights defender, and others, and to allow all the above-mentioned people to travel freely, including Mykola Semena, who is being prosecuted for his journalistic work for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty;

5.  Stresses that the decision of the Russian Federation on 21 March 2014 to annex Crimea remains illegal, and strongly condemns the subsequent decision of the Russian authorities to give all inhabitants of Crimea Russian passports;

6.  Reminds the Russian Federation, as an occupying power with effective control over Crimea and bound by international humanitarian law and international human rights law, of its obligation to ensure the protection of human rights in the peninsula and calls on the Russian authorities to grant unimpeded access to Crimea for international institutions and independent experts of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the United Nations and the Council of Europe, as well as for any human rights NGOs or news media outlets that wish to visit, assess and report on the situation there; calls on the Ukrainian authorities to simplify the procedure for foreign journalists, human rights defenders and lawyers to be granted access to the peninsula;

7.  Considers that the rights of the Crimean Tatars have been gravely violated through the banning of the activities of the Mejlis and strongly reiterates its call for the immediate reversal of the related decision and its effects; deplores the legal persecution and threats of arrest of the Mejlis leaders, such as Mustafa Dzhemilev, a Member of the Ukrainian Verkhovna Rada and a Sakharov Prize nominee, and Refat Chubarov, the Chairman of the Mejlis;

8.  Underlines that the Crimean Tatars, as an indigenous people of the peninsula, and their cultural heritage seem to be prime targets for repressions; calls for unrestricted access to Crimea by international institutions and independent experts from the OSCE, the United Nations and the Council of Europe;

9.  Reminds the Russian authorities that despite the illegality of the annexation of Crimea, Russia is, in a de facto capacity, fully responsible for upholding the legal order in Crimea and protecting Crimean citizens from arbitrary judicial or administrative measures;

10.  Expresses strong concern over the many credible reports of cases of disappearances, torture and systematic intimidation of local citizens opposed to the annexation of Crimea, and calls on Russia to immediately cease the practices of persecution, to effectively investigate all cases of human rights violations, including enforced disappearances, arbitrary detentions, torture and ill-treatment of detainees, and to respect the fundamental freedoms of all residents, including the freedoms of expression, religion or belief and association and the right to peaceful assembly; calls for all disappearances and kidnappings during the period of occupation of Crimea to be investigated immediately, including the case of Ervin Ibragimov;

11.  Recalls that according to Russian legislation, the jurisdiction of the Russian justice system applies only to crimes committed on the territory of Russia; deplores the fact that Russian law enforcement agencies have initiated several criminal cases regarding acts committed on the territory of Ukraine and Crimea before its annexation;

12.  Welcomes the recent visit of the Ukrainian Ombudsman to Crimea with the aim of meeting the prisoners; regrets that the Ombudsman was not allowed to meet all of them and expresses hope that during her future visits she will have unimpeded access to Ukrainian prisoners in Crimea as well as to those who have been transferred to the Russian Federation;

13.  Calls for unlimited, safe and unhindered access of the OSCE and other international human rights observers and all humanitarian actors to the Crimean peninsula and for the establishment of independent monitoring mechanisms, and for humanitarian and legal assistance to be provided, as required; supports the initiatives led by Ukraine with a view to addressing these issues within the Human Rights Council and the General Assembly; calls on the European External Action Service (EEAS) and the EU Delegation to Russia to closely follow the trial cases against Ukrainian political prisoners and to report on their treatment while in custody; expresses concern over reports of punitive psychiatric treatments being used; expects the EU Delegation, the EEAS and Member States’ embassies to closely follow legal proceedings against Ukrainian citizens in Russia and to seek access to these people, before, during and after their trials;

14.  Condemns the prevailing practice of transfers of detainees to distant regions of Russia, as this severely hinders their communication with their families and human rights organisations; underlines that this practice is in breach of Russian legislation in force, in particular Article 73 of the Criminal Enforcement Code, according to which sentences should be served in the region in which the convicts reside or in which the court sentence was handed down; denounces the practice of denying consular visits to the people detained and calls on the authorities to unconditionally allow such visits; urges access for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to prisons in the occupied territories and the respect of detainees’ rights to communicate with their relatives and friends at regular intervals, both by correspondence and by receiving visits;

15.  Equally underlines the need for Ukraine to ensure the protection of the rights and needs of displaced Ukrainian citizens, including their right to vote and to enjoy full legal and administrative protection in their country;

16.  Welcomes the decision of 22 February 2017 of the Presidium of the Supreme Court of Russia to set aside the conviction of Ildar Dadin on charges of participating in multiple unsanctioned protests, including against Russia’s war against Ukraine, and to order his release from custody, following Parliament’s resolution of 24 November 2016(6) in his defence;

17.  Calls on the European Union’s Special Representative for Human Rights to pay continuous attention to the human rights situation in the Crimean peninsula; underlines the overall need for the European Union to play a more visible, effective and proactive role in promoting a lasting peaceful solution;

18.  Calls for EU support for Ukrainian and Crimean Tatar media projects for Crimea as well as those initiated by the European Endowment for Democracy and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, and in defence of Ukrainian and Crimean Tatar schools and other initiatives to protect their cultural heritage;

19.  Calls for further restrictive measures to be imposed on individuals responsible for gross human rights violations, including the freezing of their assets in EU banks;

20.  Urges all sides to fully implement the provisions of the Minsk Agreements, including the end of military activities in Donbas and the exchange of hostages, and to release and return all captives without further delay; recalls the particular responsibility of the Russian Government in this respect;

21.  Requests that the possibility be explored of establishing an international format for negotiations discussing the de-occupation of Crimea, with the participation of the EU and which would be based on international humanitarian law, human rights and international principles;

22.  Urges the Council to find ways to support Ukraine at the ICJ in the case to hold the Russian Federation accountable for its support for terrorism in the east of Ukraine and acts of discrimination against ethnic Ukrainians and Crimean Tatars in occupied Crimea;

23.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the Member States, the President of Ukraine, the governments and parliaments of Ukraine and of the Russian Federation, and the Parliamentary Assemblies of the Council of Europe and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

(1) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0043.
(2) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0218.
(3) OJ C 346, 21.9.2016, p. 101.
(4) Estonian citizen.
(5) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0314.
(6) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0446.


Philippines, the case of senator Leila M. De Lima
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European Parliament resolution of 16 March 2017 on the Philippines – the case of Senator Leila M. De Lima (2017/2597(RSP))
P8_TA(2017)0088RC-B8-0193/2017

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its previous resolutions on the situation in the Philippines, in particular that of 15 September 2016(1),

–  having regard to the statements by the EU Delegation and the spokesperson of the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (VP/HR),

–  having regard to the diplomatic relations between the Philippines and the EU (formerly the European Economic Community (EEC)) established on 12 May 1964 with the appointment of the Philippine Ambassador to the EEC,

–  having regard to the status of the Philippines as a founding member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN),

–  having regard to the statement of 28 February 2017 by the International Commission of Jurists,

–  having regard to the Framework Agreement on Partnership and Cooperation between the European Union and its Member States, of the one part, and the Republic of the Philippines, of the other part,

–  having regard to the EU Guidelines on Human Rights,

–  having regard to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948,

–  having regard to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR),

–  having regard to Rules 135(5) and 123(4) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.  whereas the Philippines and the EU have longstanding diplomatic, economic, cultural and political relations;

B.  whereas on 23 February 2017, an arrest warrant was issued against Senator Leila M. De Lima of the Philippines from the opposition Liberal Party on charges of alleged drug-related offences; whereas on 24 February 2017 Senator De Lima was arrested and detained; whereas, if convicted, Senator De Lima could face a sentence from 12 years up to life in prison and be expelled from the Senate;

C.  whereas there are serious concerns that the offences Senator De Lima has been charged with are almost entirely fabricated; whereas Amnesty International regards Senator De Lima as a prisoner of conscience;

D.  whereas Senator De Lima is a human rights advocate and the highest profile critic of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s anti-drug campaign; whereas she has openly condemned the Philippine Drug War; whereas Senator De Lima was the Chair of the Philippine’s Human Rights Commission; whereas there are serious concerns for the safety of Senator De Lima; whereas there are numerous claims of torture in places of detention that are not giving rise to inquiries;

E.  whereas on 19 September 2016, Senator De Lima was removed from her position as chairperson of the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights; whereas during her time as head of the Commission on Human Rights, Senator De Lima led the investigation into the alleged extrajudicial killings of an estimated 1 000 or more drug suspects in Davao, while President Duterte was mayor of the city; whereas following the hearings, Senator De Lima was exposed to a torrent of harassment and intimidation from the authorities, and these attacks have intensified over the last eight months;

F.  whereas on 2 March 2017, Human Rights Watch released its report ‘License to Kill: Philippine Police Killings in Duterte’s ‘War on Drugs’, which documented extrajudicial killings related to the anti-drug campaign;

G.  whereas over 7 000 drug-related killings by the police and vigilantes have been reported since President Duterte took office on 30 June 2016; whereas President Duterte has vowed to continue his anti-drug campaign until the end of the presidential term in 2022;

H.  whereas in response to the killing of officers by insurgents from the Communist New People’s Army (NPA) in the southern Philippines on 8 March 2017, President Duterte ordered the army to undertake counterinsurgency operations with disregard for collateral damage;

I.  whereas on 30 January 2017, the Philippine National Police temporarily suspended anti-drug operations by the police following a brutal, alleged anti-drug killing; whereas President Duterte ordered the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to fill this gap in the anti-drug campaign;

J.  whereas human rights defenders, activists and journalists in the Philippines, including Senator De Lima face regular threats, harassment, intimidation and cyber bullying; whereas those violating the rights of these groups are not being held to account owing to the fact that proper investigations are not being conducted; whereas in November 2016, President Duterte openly threatened to kill human rights defenders;

K.  whereas on 7 March 2017, the House of Representatives approved House Bill 4727 to reinstate the death penalty for serious drug-related crimes; whereas the Philippines was the first country in the region to have abolished the death penalty in 2007; whereas the reintroduction of the death penalty would be in clear violation of the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which the Philippines is party as of 2007; whereas legislation on lowering the minimum age for criminal responsibility from 15 years to 9 years is currently being considered by the administration of President Duterte;

L.  whereas in September 2016, the Philippines resumed chairmanship of ASEAN for 2017;

1.  Calls for the immediate release of Senator Leila M. De Lima and for her to be provided with adequate security whilst in detention; calls on the authorities of the Philippines to ensure a fair trial, recalling the right to the presumption of innocence, to drop all politically motivated charges against her and to end any further acts of harassment against her;

2.  Understands, that in the Philippines, millions of people are negatively affected by the high levels of drug addiction and its consequences; strongly condemns drug trafficking and drug abuse in the Philippines; calls on the Government to prioritise the fight against trafficking networks and drug barons over tracking down small-scale consumers; stresses that this fight must go hand in hand concomitantly with measures for prevention and detoxification; encourages the Government in its efforts to open new detoxification centres;

3.  Strongly condemns the high number of extrajudicial killings by the armed forces and vigilante groups related to the anti-drug campaign; expresses its condolences to the families of the victims; expresses grave concern over credible reports to the effect that the Philippine police force is falsifying evidence to justify extrajudicial killings, and that overwhelmingly the urban poor are those being targeted; calls on the authorities of the Philippines to immediately carry out impartial and meaningful investigations into these extrajudicial killings and to prosecute and bring all perpetrators to justice; calls on the EU to support such investigations; calls on the authorities of the Philippines to adopt all necessary measures to prevent further killings;

4.  Expresses grave concern with regard to the rhetoric of President Duterte in response to the killing of officers on 8 March 2017 and strongly urges the Philippine authorities and military to strictly adhere to international humanitarian law which places specific strictures on all parties to an armed conflict to spare civilians and non-combatants;

5.  Calls for the EU to support the establishment at the UN Human Rights Council of an independent international investigation into unlawful killings and other violations by the Philippines in the context of President Duterte’s ‘war on drugs’;

6.  Is deeply alarmed by the decision of the House of Representatives to reintroduce the death penalty; calls on the authorities of the Philippines to immediately halt ongoing proceedings to reinstate the death penalty; recalls that the EU considers capital punishment to be a cruel and inhuman punishment, which fails to act as a deterrent to criminal behaviour; calls on the Philippine Government to refrain from lowering the minimum age for criminal responsibility;

7.  Calls for the EU to closely monitor the case against Senator De Lima;

8.  Urges the EU to use all available instruments to assist the Government of the Philippines in upholding its international human rights obligations, notably through the Framework Agreement;

9.  Urges the Commission to use all available instruments to persuade the Philippines to put an end to extrajudicial killings related to the anti-drug campaign including, in the absence of any substantive improvements in the next few months, procedural steps with a view to the possible removal of GSP+ preferences;

10.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Government and Parliament of the Philippines, the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the Council, the Commission, the parliaments and governments of the Member States, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the governments of the ASEAN Member States.

(1)Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0349.


EU priorities for the UN Human Rights Council sessions in 2017
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European Parliament resolution of 16 March 2017 on EU priorities for the UN Human Rights Council sessions in 2017 (2017/2598(RSP))
P8_TA(2017)0089RC-B8-0183/2017

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Charter of the United Nations,

–  having regard to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and to the UN human rights conventions and optional protocols thereto,

–  having regard to United Nations General Assembly Resolution 60/251 establishing the Human Rights Council (UNHRC),

–  having regard to the European Convention on Human Rights, the European Social Charter and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union,

–  having regard to its previous resolutions on the United Nations Human Rights Council sessions,

–  having regard to its recommendation to the Council of 7 July 2016 on the 71st session of the United Nations General Assembly(1),

–  having regard to its previous resolutions on the violation of human rights, including its urgency resolutions of 2016 on Ethiopia, North Korea, India, Crimea, Hong Kong, Kazakhstan, Egypt, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Pakistan, Honduras, Nigeria, Gambia, Djibouti, Cambodia, Tajikistan, Vietnam, Malawi, Bahrain, Myanmar, the Philippines, Somalia, Zimbabwe, Rwanda, Sudan, Thailand, China, Brazil, Russia, Tibet, Iraq, Indonesia, the Central African Republic, Burundi, Nicaragua, Kuwait and Guatemala,

–  having regard to its resolution of 14 December 2016 on the Annual Report on human rights and democracy in the world and the European Union’s policy on the matter 2015(2),

–  having regard to Articles 2, 3(5), 18, 21, 27 and 47 of the Treaty on European Union,

–  having regard to the 2015 annual report of the UNHRC to the UN General Assembly,

–  having regard to Rule 123(2) and (4) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.  whereas the promotion and safeguarding of the universality of human rights is part of the European Union’s ethical and legal acquis and one of the cornerstones of European unity and integrity; whereas respect for human rights should be mainstreamed in all EU policy areas;

B.  whereas the EU is strongly committed to multilateralism and to the UN bodies as regards the promotion and protection of human rights;

C.  whereas the regular sessions of the UNHRC, the appointment of Special Rapporteurs, the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) mechanism and the Special Procedures addressing either country-specific situations or thematic issues all contribute to the promotion of and respect for human rights, democracy and the rule of law;

UN Human Rights Council

1.  Welcomes the work done by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein and his Office (OHCHR); recalls the EU commitment to continue to support and defend its integrity, independence and functioning; welcomes the role played by the OHCHR in advancing cooperation between international and regional human rights mechanisms and identifying ways to increase the role of ‘regional arrangements’ in relation to universal human rights standards;

2.  Takes the view that the UNHRC’s effectiveness and credibility depend on its members’ genuine commitment to protect all persons in all countries from any human rights violations, in accordance with the international human rights conventions promoting universality, impartiality, objectivity, non-selectivity, constructive dialogue and cooperation; urges the need to avoid the polarisation of debate in the UNHRC and encourages constructive dialogue;

3.  Calls on states to grant access to the UNHRC’s independent experts, Special Rapporteurs and OHCHR experts to investigate alleged human rights violations and to engage in a constructive way in order to redress the situation, to honour their commitments to the human rights conventions and to offer their full cooperation with the UNHRC Special Procedures;

4.  Encourages all states to take concrete steps to act on the UPR recommendations and to overcome shortcomings by putting in place an implementation and follow-up mechanism, including the establishment of national plans of action and national coordination mechanisms;

5.  Recalls the UN General Assembly’s obligation, when electing the membership of the UNHRC, to take into account candidates’ respect for the promotion and protection of human rights, the rule of law and democracy; welcomes the UNHRC decision requesting that the UNHRC Advisory Committee prepare an assessment report on the progress made in the establishment of regional and sub-regional arrangements for the promotion and protection of human rights; calls for the EU and its Member States to reflect the equal importance of rights in their voting patterns and to improve the coordination of EU positions in this sense; strongly requests that the EU speak with one voice and reach a common EU stance when voting in the UNHRC;

6.  Reiterates the importance of ensuring that the EU engages actively and consistently with UN human rights mechanisms, in particular with the Third Committee, the General Assembly and the UNHRC, in order to improve its credibility; supports efforts made by the European Union External Action Service (EEAS), the EU Delegations in New York and Geneva and the Member States further to increase EU coherence on human rights issues at the UN;

Thematic priorities

7.  Underscores the importance of the role of human rights NGOs and defenders in the promotion and protection of human rights; highlights the fact that human rights and fundamental freedoms need to be protected in every dimension of their expression, including in the context of new technologies; shares the UNHRC’s concerns regarding reports of threats and reprisals against members of civil society organisations and NGOs that have cooperated with the UNHRC in the UPR process;

8.  Expresses its serious concern at the numerous, ever-increasing attempts to shrink the space of civil society and human rights defenders, including through the introduction of counter-terrorism laws; condemns any act of violence, harassment, intimidation or persecution against human rights defenders, whistle-blowers, journalists or bloggers, whether online or offline; calls on all states to promote and ensure a safe and enabling environment for NGOs, civil society, journalists, and human rights defenders, including a particular focus on all vulnerable groups, to operate in, independently and without interference; renews its call for those states that have adopted restrictive laws against independent human rights organisations to lift them;

9.  Believes that free, independent and impartial media constitute one of the essential foundations of a democratic society, in which open debates play a crucial role; supports the plea for the appointment of a Special Representative to the UN Secretary-General for the safety of journalists; calls for the issues of freedom of expression online, digital freedoms and the importance of a free and open internet to be raised in all international fora; calls for the digital divide to be narrowed and for unrestricted access to information and communication, as well as uncensored access to the internet;

10.  Recalls that the right to freedom of association and assembly continues to be a major challenge; warmly welcomes the work of the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, Maina Kiai; calls on all states to take the reports into due consideration;

11.  Urge all states to swiftly ratify the Optional Protocols to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and to the International Covenant of Economic Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) establishing complaint and inquiry mechanisms;

12.  Opposes any kind of discrimination and persecution on any ground or status such as race, colour, language, religion and belief, gender identity and sexual orientation, social origin, caste, birth, age or disability; supports the EU engagement with the relevant special procedures, including the new Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity; calls for the EU to actively continue to promote equality and non-discrimination and to fight against violence and discrimination against all individuals;

13.  Expresses its concern that many people, individually or collectively, suffer violations of their right to freedom of religion or belief, committed by states and non-state actors, leading to discrimination, inequality and stigmatisation; recalls the need to fight against intolerance and discrimination based on religion or belief in order to ensure respect for other interdependent human rights such as freedom of expression;

14.  Calls for the EU to work on ensuring greater protection of religious and ethnic minorities against persecution and violence and on repealing laws criminalising blasphemy or apostasy serving as a pretext for the persecution of religious and ethnic minorities and non-believers; calls for the work of the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief to be supported;

15.  Strongly requests that the EU continue to advocate zero tolerance for the death penalty and to further seek to reinforce cross-regional support for the next UN General Assembly resolution on a moratorium on the death penalty; welcomes the decision taken in 2015 by the Republic of Congo, Fiji and Madagascar to abolish the death penalty for all crimes; deplores the resumption of executions in a number of countries, including Bangladesh, Bahrain, Belarus, Chad, India, Indonesia, Kuwait, Oman and South Sudan; further deplores the reported rise in the number of death sentences handed down in particular in China, Egypt, Iran, Nigeria, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia; reminds the authorities of these countries that they are states parties to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which strictly prohibits the death penalty for crimes committed by anyone below the age of 18;

16.  Urges the EU to speak out in support of the UN’s work against torture and other cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment or punishment, mass executions and other executions, including for drug-related offences, and requests that the EEAS step up, at all levels of dialogue and in all fora, the EU’s efforts in the fight against summary executions, torture and other ill-treatment, in line with the Guidelines to EU Policy towards third countries on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment; calls for the universal ratification and effective implementation of the UN Convention against Torture and the Optional Protocol thereto; stresses the critical importance of supporting the prevention of torture, including through the strengthening of the National Preventive Mechanisms established under the Optional Protocol, and continued support for the rehabilitation of torture victims;

17.  Expresses its serious concern at the persistence of grave human rights violations and abuses worldwide; staunchly supports the International Criminal Court (ICC) as a key institution for holding perpetrators to account and assisting victims in achieving justice based on the principle of complementarity with regard to genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes; requests that all parties provide political, diplomatic, financial and logistical support for the day-to-day operation of the ICC;

18.  Calls for the EU to continue to strengthen the work of the ICC; encourages strong dialogue and cooperation between the Court, the UN and its agencies, and the United Nations Security Council (UNSC); calls on all UN member states to join the Court by ratifying the Rome Statute and to encourage ratification of the Kampala amendments;

19.  Condemns in the strongest possible terms the ongoing serious human rights violations, particularly those caused by ISIS/Daesh and the attacks by Boko Haram targeting children, as well as all other attacks by terrorist or paramilitary organisations against civilians, particularly women and children; denounces the frequency and scale of acts of destruction of cultural heritage, and calls for support for relevant efforts undertaken in various UN fora;

20.  Condemns the lack of respect for international humanitarian law, and expresses its grave concern about the increasing rate of civilian damage in armed conflicts around the world and about deadly attacks against hospitals, schools, humanitarian convoys and other civilian targets; insists that such violations be duly taken into account in UNHRC country-specific dealings and relevant reviews under the UPR mechanism;

21.  Calls for the EU to work actively towards an initiative on UN recognition of the genocide against ethnic and religious minorities committed by so-called ISIS/Daesh and for referral to the ICC of cases of suspected crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide; encourages strong dialogue and cooperation between the Court, the UN and its agencies, and the UN Security Council;

22.  Calls for the EU to encourage all states to place human rights at the centre of their respective development policies and to implement the 1986 UN Declaration on the Right to Development; welcomes the recent appointment by the UNHRC of a Special Rapporteur on the right to development, whose mandate includes contributing to the promotion, protection and fulfilment of the right to development in the context of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and other international development cooperation agreements; highlights that human rights for all must be a cross-cutting feature in the achievement of all goals and targets of the 2030 Agenda;

23.  Calls for the EU to continue to promote equality between women and men and to actively support the work of UN Women and gender mainstreaming initiatives in its activities and programmes; calls for continued support measures strengthening the empowerment of women and girls and the eradication of all violence and discrimination against women and girls, including gender-based violence; strongly requests that the EU seek cross-regional initiatives for the promotion, protection and fulfilment of women’s rights and the full and effective implementation of both the Beijing Platform for Action and the ICPD Programme of Action, and that it remains committed to sexual and reproductive rights in this context;

24.  Recalls the EU’s commitment to mainstream human rights and gender aspects in line with the landmark UN Security Council Resolutions 1325 (2000) and 1820 (2008) on women, peace and security; calls for the EU to support internationally the recognition of the added value of women’s participation in the prevention and resolution of conflicts, peacekeeping operations, humanitarian assistance and post-conflict reconstruction and sustainable reconciliation;

25.  Calls for the EU to continue to promote children’s rights, in particular by contributing to ensuring children’s access to water, sanitation, healthcare and education, including in conflict zones and refugee camps, and by eliminating child labour, recruitment of child soldiers, deprivation of liberty, torture, trafficking, child, early and forced marriage, sexual exploitation and harmful practices such as female genital mutilation; calls for measures to support and strengthen international efforts through the UN to end the use of children in armed conflict, and to address more effectively the impact of conflict and post-conflict situations on women and girls; calls on all UN member states to uphold their treaty obligations and commitments under the Convention on the Rights of the Child, adopted in 1989, in order to uphold the rights of all children under their jurisdiction irrespective of their legal status, and without discrimination of any kind;

26.  Calls on states to promote the rights of persons with disabilities, including their equal participation and social inclusion; calls on all states to ratify and implement the UN Convention on Persons with Disabilities;

27.  Calls for the EU to work with partners on the implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, including steps to encourage more states to adopt national action plans and engage in the work streams of the UN working groups and the OHCHR; renews its call for all states, including the EU, to be actively and constructively engaged in formulating, as soon as possible, a legally binding instrument that regulates, in international human rights law, the activities of transnational corporations and other business enterprises in order to prevent, investigate, redress and provide access to remedy to human rights violations whenever these occur;

28.  Welcomes the UN’s New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants, which addressed the issue of large movements of refugees and migrants and led to the adoption of a global compact on a comprehensive refugee response (CRR) framework and the commitment that applies to migrants and refugees, and is aimed at saving lives, addressing specific needs, countering racism and xenophobia, combating human trafficking, ensuring equal recognition and protection before the law and ensuring inclusion in national development plans; calls on all the parties involved to ensure political engagement, funding and concrete acts of solidarity in support of the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants, and recalls that the question of migration should continue to be examined at a global scale and not only at European level; calls for the EU and its Member States to take the lead in these international efforts, and to uphold, in accordance with their obligations under international law, their commitments to protect the human rights of asylum seekers, refugees, migrants and all displaced persons, in particular women, children and vulnerable groups, including persons with disabilities;

29.  Recalls that the return of migrants should only be carried out in full respect of their rights and only when the protection of their rights is guaranteed in their respective countries; calls on governments to put an end to the arbitrary arrest and detention of migrants, including minors; calls on all states to take concrete measures in the best interests of child refugees and migrants that are based on the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and to introduce measures to strengthen child protection systems, including the training of social workers and other professional groups and working with NGOs; calls on all states to ratify and implement the International Convention on the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families;

30.  Underlines the importance of promoting the universality and indivisibility of human rights, including civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, in accordance with Article 21 of the Lisbon Treaty and the General Provisions on the Union’s External Action;

31.  Underlines the need to adopt a rights-based approach and to integrate respect for human rights into all EU policies, including those on trade, investment, public services, development cooperation and migration, and into its common security and defence policies;

32.  Recalls the fact that internal and external coherence in the area of human rights is essential for the credibility of the EU’s human rights policy in its relations with third countries, and calls for the EU to fulfil its commitments in this regard;

Belarus

33.  Expresses its deep concern at the continued restrictions on freedom of expression and freedom of association and peaceful assembly; condemns the harassment and detention of independent and opposition journalists and human rights activists; condemns the continued use of the death penalty; calls for the renewal of the UN Special Rapporteur’s mandate on the human rights situation in Belarus at the 35th Session of the Council, and calls on the government to cooperate fully with the Special Rapporteur and commit to engagement in long-overdue reforms to protect human rights, including by implementing the recommendations made by the Special Rapporteur and other human rights mechanisms;

Burundi

34.  Expresses its deepest concern at the worsening political and security situation in Burundi and the growing number of people fleeing the country; condemns the violence that has been occurring in Burundi since 2015 and that has led to deaths, torture and targeted violence against women, including collective rapes and harassment; condemns the imprisonment of thousands of people, the forced displacement of hundreds of thousands of Burundians, and violations of freedom of the press and of expression, as well as the prevalence of impunity regarding such acts; supports the decision by the EU Council, after the failure of the discussions launched under Article 96 of the Cotonou Agreement, to suspend direct financial support to the Burundian administration, including budgetary support, but to maintain full financial support for the population and humanitarian aid through direct channels; fully supports the establishment of a Commission of Inquiry on Burundi to identify alleged perpetrators of human rights violations and abuses in the country with a view to ensuring full accountability; calls for the EU and its Member States to use their leverage to ensure that Burundi starts to cooperate fully with the Commission of Inquiry (COI) and with the Council and its mechanisms, engages constructively with the COI and addresses the serious human rights concerns; calls on the Burundian authorities to reconsider their decision to withdraw from the ICC;

Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK)

35.  Expresses its deep concern over the persisting deterioration of the human rights situation in the DPRK; calls on the Government of the DPRK to fulfil its obligations under the human rights instruments to which it is a party, and to ensure that humanitarian organisations, independent human rights monitors and the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the DPRK have access to the country and are provided with the necessary cooperation; calls on the DPRK to allow freedom of expression and press freedom for national and international media, and to allow its citizens uncensored access to the internet; strongly condemns the systematic use of the death penalty in the DPRK on a large scale; calls on the Government of the DPRK to declare a moratorium on all executions, with a view to abolishing the death penalty in the near future; demands that those responsible for the crimes against humanity committed in the DPRK be held accountable, brought before the ICC and subjected to targeted sanctions; strongly condemns the nuclear tests as an unnecessary and dangerous provocation as well as a violation of the UN Security Council resolutions and a serious threat to the peace and stability in the Korean peninsula and the north-east Asian region; requests the renewal of the mandate of the Special Rapporteur; requests the presentation of the report of the group of experts to the UN General Assembly and Security Council; recommends incorporating in the resolution the key recommendations on accountability from the experts’ report, including strengthening the capacity of the Seoul Office with investigative and prosecutorial expertise, as well as appointing a criminal justice expert to advance the steps towards accountability;

Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)

36.  Condemns the serious human rights violations being committed with complete impunity by the security forces and calls on those responsible to be held accountable; calls especially for a thorough investigation into the brutal violence against civilians in East Congo, including the rape of women and the enslavement of children; calls for a possible extension of the mandate of the UN Peacekeeping Force in East Congo; calls on the Council to consider extending the existing restrictive measures such as EU targeted sanctions, including travel bans and asset freezes on those responsible for the violent crackdown and for undermining the democratic process in the DRC, in the event of further violence, as provided for in the Cotonou Agreement; urges the DRC authorities to implement the agreement reached in December 2016 and to hold elections by December 2017 with the support of international actors; calls on the UNHRC to maintain its scrutiny of the DRC until elections are held and a democratic transition takes place, and encourages the High Commissioner’s Office to inform the Council about the situation in the DRC when appropriate, and to take stronger action if required;

The Georgian regions of Abkhazia and the Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia

37.  Remains concerned about freedom of expression, freedom of media and the lack of access to the regions of Abkhazia and the Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia, which are illegally occupied by Russia and in which human rights violations remain widespread; urges the strengthening of people-to-people contact between the Tbilisi-controlled territory and the two occupied regions; calls for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia to be fully respected, as well as the inviolability of its internationally recognised borders; stresses the need for the safe and dignified return of refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) to their place of permanent residence; calls on the Georgian Government to take appropriate measures with a view to ensuring a follow-up and implementation of the UPR recommendations;

Myanmar/Burma

38.  Is extremely concerned about the reports of violent clashes in northern Rakhine State and deplores the loss of lives, livelihoods and shelter and the reported disproportionate use of force by the armed forces of Myanmar/Burma; urges the military and security forces to put an immediate stop to the killings, harassment and rapes committed against the Rohingya people, and the burning of their homes; insists that the Government of Myanmar/Burma and the civil authorities of Myanmar/Burma immediately end the discrimination and segregation of the Rohingya minority; calls for the rights of the Rohingya people to be safeguarded and for the safety, security and equality of all citizens of Myanmar/Burma to be guaranteed; welcomes the decision of the Government of Myanmar/Burma to make peace and national reconciliation a key priority; welcomes the announcement by the Government of Myanmar/Burma of the establishment of a Commission of Inquiry into the recent violence in Rakhine state; underlines the need to prosecute those responsible appropriately, and to provide adequate redress for victims of violations; calls on the Government of Myanmar/Burma to continue the process of democratisation and to respect the rule of law, freedom of speech and fundamental human rights; calls for the EU and its Member States to support a renewed mandate of the Special Rapporteur on Myanmar/Burma;

Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT)

39.  Is deeply concerned about the persisting stalemate in the Middle East peace process, and calls for the resumption of credible peace efforts without delay; is concerned about the humanitarian situation and human rights violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, as referred to in its resolution of 10 September 2015 on the EU’s role in the Middle East Peace Process(3); stresses the need for the continued engagement of the EU and its Member States in monitoring the implementation of the UNHRC resolutions on violations and abuses, such as the resolution of 3 July 2015 on ‘ensuring accountability and justice for all violations of International Law in the occupied Palestinian Territory including East Jerusalem’; notes the ongoing ICC preliminary investigation; reiterates its full support to the ICC and the international criminal justice system; recalls in this context the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights(4), and calls on the EEAS to report back to Parliament on the destruction of, and damage caused to, EU-funded structures and projects; stresses that all sides must continue to respect the ceasefire in Gaza, and calls for an end to the blockade; calls on both Israelis and Palestinians to avoid steps which could spark further escalation, including hate speech and incitement in the public arena, as well as unilateral measures which could prejudge the outcome of negotiations and threaten the viability of the two-state solution; underlines the fact that any lasting solution to the conflict can only be achieved in a regional context with the involvement of all relevant regional stakeholders and the support of the international community;

South Sudan

40.  Calls on all parties to refrain from committing human rights violations and violations of international humanitarian law, including those amounting to international crimes, such as extrajudicial killings, ethnically targeted violence, conflict-related sexual violence, including rape, as well as gender-based violence, recruitment and use of children, enforced disappearances and arbitrary arrests and detention; notes that the Government of South Sudan signed the Roadmap Agreement on 16 March 2016, and has subsequently clarified its commitments on the inclusion of other relevant stakeholders in the National Dialogue and on continuing to uphold any decisions reached between the opposition signatories and the 7+7 Mechanism, the steering committee of the National Dialogue; insists on the need for all parties to respect their commitment and calls for a continued dialogue towards the establishment of a definitive ceasefire; calls for the EU and its Member States to further commit to supporting the efforts of the African Union to bring peace to South Sudan and the Sudanese people in their transition to an internally reformed democracy; calls for the EU and its Member States to renew the mandate of the Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan, and to strengthen its role with a view to investigating human rights abuses and mapping sexual violence; supports the integration of its recommendations into a report to be forwarded to the UN General Assembly and Security Council;

Syria

41.  Condemns in the strongest terms the atrocities and widespread violations of human rights and international humanitarian law committed by the forces of the Assad regime with the support of Russia and Iran, as well as the human rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law perpetrated by state and non-state actors, including armed terrorist groups, in particular ISIS/Daesh, whose crimes amount to genocide, Jabhat Fateh al-Sham/Al-Nusra Front, and other jihadist groups; insists on the need to continue investigating the use and destruction of chemical weapons by all sides in Syria, and regrets the decision of Russia and China to block a new UNSC resolution on the use of chemical weapons; reiterates its call for full unhindered humanitarian access, and consequences and accountability for those guilty of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity; supports the EU initiative for referral of the situation in Syria to the ICC and calls on the UN Security Council to take action in this respect; supports the mandate of the COI to conduct a special investigation into Aleppo which should be reported back on no later than at the UNHRC’s 34rd session in March and requests that the report be presented to the General Assembly and the Security Council;

Ukraine

42.  Deplores the fact that ongoing Russian aggression has caused a dire humanitarian situation in the Donbas and that Ukrainian and international humanitarian organisations are being refused access to the occupied regions; expresses its deep concern over the challenging humanitarian conditions faced by more than 1,5 million internally displaced persons; expresses its deepest concern at the continued conflict-related sexual violence; is deeply concerned at the human rights violations in Crimea, notably of the Crimean Tatars; stresses the need for further EU financial assistance for Ukraine; reconfirms its full commitment to the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognised borders and to its free and sovereign choice to pursue a European path; calls on all parties to immediately pursue the peaceful reintegration of the occupied Crimean peninsula into the Ukrainian legal system through political dialogue and in full compliance with international law; calls on the EEAS and the Council to strengthen pressure on the Russian Federation to allow international organisations to access Crimea for the purpose of monitoring the human rights situation, in view of the ongoing gross violations of fundamental freedoms and human rights in the peninsula and with a view to establishing permanent international monitoring and convention-based mechanisms; calls furthermore for full implementation of the Minsk Agreement, and in this regard supports the prolongation of sanctions against Russia until Crimea is returned; recalls that all parties to the conflict are obliged to take all feasible measures to protect the civilian population under their control from the effects of hostilities; supports and encourages the Interactive Dialogue due in HRC 34;

Yemen

43.  Is extremely concerned about the catastrophic humanitarian situation in Yemen; reaffirms its commitment to continued support for Yemen and the Yemeni people; condemns the fact that civilians are being targeted and caught up in an intolerable situation between warring parties that are violating international humanitarian law and international human rights law; stresses that the recruitment and use of children in armed conflict is strictly forbidden under international human rights law and international humanitarian law and may amount to a war crime in cases of children under fifteen being recruited; calls on all parties to immediately release such children and to refrain from recruiting them; urges all parties to ease the tensions and establish an immediate and stable ceasefire that will lead to a political, inclusive and negotiated solution to the conflict; in this context, fully supports the efforts by the UN Special Envoy for Yemen, Ismaïl Ould Cheikh Ahmed, as well as the implementation of Human Rights Council resolution 33/16 of October 2016, which requests the UN to work with the national independent commission of inquiry, and supports all efforts for an independent international investigation to break the climate of impunity in Yemen; calls on the EU Member States to support the ongoing efforts expressing concern at violations and abuses in Yemen and calling for these to be thoroughly and impartially investigated; encourages use of the intersessional briefing format by the High Commissioner in order to keep the HRC regularly informed about the results of its investigations;

o
o   o

44.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the EU Special Representative on Human Rights, the governments and parliaments of the EU Member States, the UN Security Council, the UN Secretary-General, the President of the 71st UN General Assembly, the President of the UN Human Rights Council, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Secretary-General of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.

(1) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0317.
(2) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0502.
(3) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0318.
(4) http://www.ohchr.org/documents/issues/business/A.HRC.17.31.pdf


Supply chain due diligence by importers of minerals and metals originating in conflict-affected and high-risk areas ***I
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Resolution
Text
Annex
European Parliament legislative resolution of 16 March 2017 on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council setting up a Union system for supply chain due diligence self-certification of responsible importers of tin, tantalum and tungsten, their ores, and gold originating in conflict-affected and high-risk areas (COM(2014)0111 – C7-0092/2014 – 2014/0059(COD))
P8_TA(2017)0090A8-0141/2015

(Ordinary legislative procedure: first reading)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Commission proposal to Parliament and the Council (COM(2014)0111),

–  having regard to Article 294(2) and Article 207 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, pursuant to which the Commission submitted the proposal to Parliament (C7‑0092/2014),

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

–  having regard to the provisional agreement approved by the responsible committee under Rule 69f(4) of its Rules of Procedure and the undertaking given by the Council representative by letter of 8 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 International Trade and the opinion of the Committee on Development (A8-0141/2015),

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

2.  Takes note of the Council statement and Commission statements annexed to this resolution;

3.  Calls on the Commission to refer the matter to Parliament again if it replaces, substantially amends or intends to substantially amend its proposal;

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

Position of the European Parliament adopted at first reading on 16 March 2017 with a view to the adoption of Regulation (EU) 2017/... of the European Parliament and of the Council laying down supply chain due diligence obligations for Union importers of tin, tantalum and tungsten, their ores, and gold originating from conflict-affected and high-risk areas

(As an agreement was reached between Parliament and Council, Parliament's position corresponds to the final legislative act, Regulation (EU) 2017/821.)

ANNEX TO THE LEGISLATIVE RESOLUTION

Statement by the Council on the Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council laying down supply chain due diligence obligations for Union importers of tin, tantalum and tungsten, their ores, and gold originating in conflict-affected and high risk areas

The Council agrees, on an exceptional basis, to delegate to the Commission the power to adopt delegated acts to amend the thresholds of Annex I as set out in Article 1(4) and (5), so as to ensure a timely adoption of the thresholds and to meet the objectives of this Regulation. Such agreement is without prejudice to future legislative proposals in the area of trade, as well as in the area of external relations as a whole.

Statement 1 by the Commission on the Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council laying down supply chain due diligence obligations for Union importers of tin, tantalum and tungsten, their ores, and gold originating in conflict-affected and high risk areas

The Commission will consider making additional legislative proposals targeted at EU companies with products containing tin, tantalum, and tungsten and gold in their supply chain should it conclude that the aggregate efforts of the EU market on the responsible global supply chain of minerals are insufficient to leverage responsible supply behaviour in producer countries, or should it assess that the buy-in of downstream operators that have in place supply chain due diligence systems in line with the OECD guidance is insufficient.

Statement 2 by the Commission on the Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council laying down supply chain due diligence obligations for Union importers of tin, tantalum and tungsten, their ores, and gold originating in conflict-affected and high risk areas

In the exercise of its empowerment to adopt delegated acts pursuant to Article 1(5), the Commission will take due account of the objectives of this Regulation, notably as set out in recitals (1), (7), (10) and (17).

In doing so, the Commission will, in particular, consider the specific risks associated with the operation of upstream gold supply chains in conflict affected and high-risk areas and taking into account the position of Union micro and small enterprises importing gold in the EU.

Statement 3 by the Commmission on the Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council laying down supply chain due diligence obligations for Union importers of tin, tantalum and tungsten, their ores, and gold originating in conflict-affected and high risk areas

In response to the request of the European Parliament for specific guidelines, the Commission is willing to develop performance indicators specific to the responsible sourcing of conflict minerals. By means of such guidelines, relevant companies with more than 500 employees that are required to disclose non-financial information in conformity with Directive 2014/95/EU would be encouraged to disclose specific information in relation to products containing tin, tantalum, tungsten or gold.

(1) This position replaces the amendments adopted on 20 May 2015 (Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0204)


Union framework for the collection, management and use of data in the fisheries sector ***I
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Resolution
Text
European Parliament legislative resolution of 16 March 2017 on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council concerning the establishment of a Union framework for the collection, management and use of data in the fisheries sector and support for scientific advice regarding the Common Fisheries Policy (recast) (COM(2015)0294 – C8-0160/2015 – 2015/0133(COD))
P8_TA(2017)0091A8-0150/2016

(Ordinary legislative procedure – recast)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Commission proposal to Parliament and the Council (COM(2015)0294),

–  having regard to Article 294(2) and Article 43(2) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, pursuant to which the Commission submitted the proposal to Parliament (C8‑0160/2015),

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

–  having regard to the opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee of 16 September 2015(1),

–  having regard to the opinion of the Committee of the Regions of 10 February 2016(2),

–  having regard to the Interinstitutional Agreement of 28 November 2001 on a more structured use of the recasting technique for legal acts(3),

–  having regard to the letter of 28 January 2016 from the Committee on Legal Affairs to the Committee on Fisheries in accordance with Rule 104(3) of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the provisional agreement approved by the responsible committee under Rule 69f(4) of its Rules of Procedure and the undertaking given by the Council representative by letter of 20 January 2017 to approve Parliament’s position, in accordance with Article 294(4) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

–  having regard to Rules 104 and 59 of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Fisheries (A8-0150/2016),

A.  whereas, according to the Consultative Working Party of the legal services of the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission, the Commission proposal does not include any substantive amendments other than those identified as such in the proposal and whereas, as regards the codification of the unchanged provisions of the earlier acts together with those amendments, the proposal contains a straightforward codification of the existing texts, without any change in their substance;

1.  Adopts its position at first reading hereinafter set out, taking into account the recommendations of the Consultative Working Party of the legal services of the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission;

2.  Calls on the Commission to refer the matter to Parliament again if it replaces, substantially amends or intends to substantially amend its proposal;

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 16 March 2017 with a view to the adoption of Regulation (EU) 2017/... of the European Parliament and of the Council on the establishment of a Union framework for the collection, management and use of data in the fisheries sector and support for scientific advice regarding the Common Fisheries Policy and repealing Council Regulation (EC) No 199/2008 (recast)

(As an agreement was reached between Parliament and Council, Parliament's position corresponds to the final legislative act, Regulation (EU) 2017/1004.)

(1) OJ C 13, 15.1.2016, p. 201.
(2) OJ C 120, 5.4.2016, p. 40.
(3) OJ C 77, 28.3.2002, p. 1.


Constitutional, legal and institutional implications of a Common Security and Defence Policy: possibilities offered by the Lisbon Treaty
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European Parliament resolution of 16 March 2017 on constitutional, legal and institutional implications of a common security and defence policy: possibilities offered by the Lisbon Treaty (2015/2343(INI))
P8_TA(2017)0092A8-0042/2017

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Treaty of Lisbon,

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

–  having regard to Article 36 TEU on the role of the European Parliament in the common foreign, security and defence policies,

–  having regard to Articles 42(2), 42(3), 42(6), 42(7), 45 and 46 TEU on the progressive framing of a common defence policy,

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

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

–  having regard to the European Council conclusions of 20 December 2013, 26 June 2015 and 15 December 2016,

–  having regard to the Council conclusions on the Common Security and Defence Policy of 25 November 2013, 18 November 2014, 18 May 2015, 27 June 2016 and 14 November 2016,

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

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

–  having regard to its resolution of 22 November 2016 on the European Defence Union(3),

–  having regard to its resolution of 21 January 2016 on the mutual defence clause (Article 42(7) TEU)(4),

–  having regard to its resolution of 23 November 2016 on the implementation of the Common Security and Defence Policy(5),

–  having regard to its resolution of 16 February 2017 on improving the functioning of the European Union building on the potential of the Lisbon Treaty(6)

–  having regard to Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 966/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 October 2012 on the financial rules applicable to the general budget of the Union and repealing Council Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 1605/2002(7) (‘the Financial Regulation’),

–  having regard to Council Decision (CFSP) 2015/1835 of 12 October 2015 defining the statute, seat and operational rules of the European Defence Agency(8),

–  having regard to Council Decision 2001/78/CFSP of 22 January 2001 setting up the Political and Security Committee(9),

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

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

–  having regard to the North Atlantic Treaty, signed in Washington, D.C. on 4 April 1949,

–  having regard to the document entitled ‘Implementation Plan on Security and Defence’ presented by the VP/HR on 14 November 2016,

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

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

–  having regard to the result of the UK referendum of 23 June 2016,

–  having regard to the results of the Special Eurobarometer of the European Parliament conducted in the 28 Member States of the European Union from 9 to 18 April 2016,

–  having regard to the communication from the Commission of 30 November 2016 to the European Parliament, the European Council, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions on the European Defence Action Plan (COM(2016)0950),

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

–  having regard to the joint deliberations of the Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Committee on Constitutional Affairs under Rule 55 of the Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Committee on Constitutional Affairs and the opinion of the Committee on Budgets (A8-0042/2017),

A.  whereas the European Union is resolved to frame a common defence policy leading to a common defence, which reinforces its unity, strategic autonomy and integration in order to promote peace, security and stability in Europe’s neighbourhood and in the world; whereas a common defence requires a unanimous decision by the European Council and the adoption of such decision by the Member States in accordance with their constitutional requirements;

B.  whereas the emergence of new geopolitical and geostrategic circumstances – with the predominance of the Asian region over the Euro-Atlantic one – and of new players, as well as the emergence of genuine new threats and fields of activity, demonstrate that the states cannot face up to new risks alone, and that a joint response is needed;

C.  whereas the cost of non-Europe in security and defence is estimated to be more than EUR 100 billion per year, and whereas the EU’s level of efficiency is equivalent to 10‑15 % of that of the United States;

D.  whereas a globally deteriorating environment has highlighted the importance of improving cooperation and the exchange of information and best practices among the Member States, as well as the need for a major increase in EU military spending via a source of own-resources set aside for that purpose;

E.  whereas the objective of military and defence integration goes back to the founding fathers, whose chief objective was to establish a legitimate collective defence mechanism and maintain peace on the continent of Europe;

F.  whereas the TEU clearly defines in its Articles 21(1) and (2) and 42 the principles and objectives in the area of the CFSP and CSDP, as well as the mechanisms and framework for their achievement; whereas very limited progress has been achieved in the fulfilment of these objectives, despite the many calls and proposals for implementation by Parliament and the Commission;

G.  whereas the development of the CSDP requires above all political will from the Member States, based on shared values and principles, as well as common interests and priorities, as well as the setting-up of institutional cooperation structures; whereas the CSDP should be an effective, structured common policy that generates an added value, and not a mere sum of the national policies of the Member States or their lowest common denominator;

H.  whereas France’s activation of Article 42(7) TEU in November 2015 demonstrated the potential of all the Treaty provisions relating to security and defence;

I.  whereas the EU has, according to Article 42(2) TEU and Article 2(4) of the Treaty on the functioning of the European Union, competence to define and implement a common security and defence policy that includes the progressive framing of a common Union defence policy; whereas the Union should use this competence to improve coordination and efficiency, and to supplement the actions of the Member States, without thereby prejudicing or superseding their competence in defence;

J.  whereas there are European multinational structures which are examples of good practices and cooperation amongst Member States for years, such as Eurocorps; whereas these structures could be a point of departure for moving towards a common Union defence policy;

K.  whereas EU citizens expect more EU action in defence and security; whereas, according to Eurobarometer 85.1 of June 2016, two thirds of EU citizens surveyed would like to see more EU engagement through Member States’ commitment in matters of security and defence policy;

L.  whereas there is a need to establish a defence culture that helps ensure that EU citizens have a clear idea of the role that defence plays in our society and the contribution it makes to stability, peacekeeping and boosting international security;

M.  whereas actions must be taken to increase the operability and effectiveness of European security policy so that it can bring about a real improvement in Europe’s security;

N.  whereas the European Council should establish the European Defence Union without delay, as advocated by Parliament, as well as the Union’s common defence; whereas the Member States should adopt the decision on common defence in accordance with their respective constitutional requirements;

O.  whereas EU defence policy should enhance Europe’s ability to reinforce security both within and outside the EU, and should consolidate the partnership with NATO and strengthen transatlantic relations, thereby helping to strengthen NATO as well;

P.  whereas Parliament actively supports the European Defence Union and will continue to make appropriate proposals to that end; whereas the interparliamentary conference on the CFSP and CSDP should become the forum for the implementation of effective and regular interparliamentary cooperation on the CSDP and the progressive framing of a common Union defence policy;

Q.  whereas the VP/HR regularly consults Parliament on the progressive framing of a common Union defence policy, ensures that the views of Parliament are duly taken into consideration in that process, and informs Parliament on the progress made towards the European Defence Union;

R.  whereas the VP/HR, in her statement at the Gymnich informal meeting of EU foreign affairs ministers of 2 September 2016, referred to the ‘window of opportunity’ for solid progress to be made among Member States in the field of defence;

S.  whereas the Commission ensures the application of the Treaties, and of measures adopted by the institutions pursuant to them, including in the area of CSDP;

T.  whereas the Union’s future annual and multiannual programming should include defence policy; whereas the Commission should initiate the work on appropriate interinstitutional agreements, including an EU Defence White Book, for a first implementation under the next multiannual financial and political framework of the EU;

U.  whereas Parliament represents the European citizens and exercises legislative and budgetary functions as well as political control and consultation functions, and is thus called upon to play a key role in framing the European Defence Union;

V.  whereas an active role of Parliament, and its political support and democratic scrutiny in framing a common Union defence policy and establishing common defence, would affirm and enhance the representative and democratic foundations of the Union;

W.  whereas the EU Global Strategy should serve as a very clear and valuable strategic framework for the future development of the CSDP;

X.  whereas there are limitations when it comes to military training abroad, in terms of both action plans and the military logistics support required;

Y.  whereas training missions cannot therefore be carried out abroad – as in the case of the military training missions in the Central African Republic (EUTM CAR) or Mali (EUTM Mali) – if the governments of the countries concerned do not supply the necessary armaments and equipment to the military units; whereas without training involving arms and equipment, it is impossible to create units that are able to confront the challenges of war and carry out operations;

Z.  whereas European soldiers are currently prohibited from taking part in military operations as observers, which means that they cannot identify any problems that the units that have been trained may have, and that they are therefore unable to resolve any operational problems at a later stage;

AA.  whereas these units – both in Mali and in the Central African Republic – are being set up for combat operations, and whereas after three years without appropriate equipment and training, as is the case for EUTM Mali, they are nowhere near operational;

AB.  whereas without the necessary armaments, training missions will only be carried out abroad if the government of the country concerned provides armaments and hardware to the units that they can then continue to use after their training is complete;

Constitutional and legal framework

1.  Recalls that the CSDP, as provided for in the TEU, includes the progressive framing of a common Union defence policy that will lead to a future common defence when the European Council, acting unanimously, so decides and when Member States adopt such decision in accordance with their respective constitutional requirements; calls on the Member States to commit as a matter of priority to the provisions of the Treaty on the CSDP, and to increase their efforts in ensuring tangible progress in the achievement of the objectives as defined in those provisions;

2.  Notes that the reform and innovation that the Lisbon Treaty brings to the CSDP constitute a sufficient and coherent framework and should set the path for a truly common policy, based on shared resources and capabilities as well as on coordinated planning at Union level; stresses that the progress of the CSDP within the current institutional and legal framework is dependent more on the political will of Member States than on legal considerations; highlights that Article 43 TEU covers the whole spectrum of crisis management tasks, the use of which in a rapid and decisive way is the EU’s level of ambition;

3.  Calls, therefore, on the VP/HR, the Council and the Member States to ensure, as provided for in the TEU, consistency between the different areas of external action, to address these areas through a global and comprehensive approach and to use all the possibilities provided for in the Treaty – especially the mechanisms contained in Articles 42(6) and 46 TEU, in Protocol No 10 on permanent structured cooperation established by Article 42 TEU and, during an operational phase, in Article 44 TEU on the implementation of a CSDP task by a group of Member States – to achieve a faster, more efficient and more flexible deployment of missions and operations; underlines that rules for cooperation within permanent structured cooperation (PESCO) should be clearly defined;

4.  Notes that where the TEU provides that the Council act by a qualified majority to adopt decisions under the CSDP, in particular those under Articles 45(2) and 46(2) TEU, all expenditure to which the implementation of such decisions gives rise should be financed with new additional resources to the EU budget and be charged to that budget; considers that, to that end, there is a need for additional funding or co-funding from Member States;

5.  Considers, therefore, that the European Defence Agency (EDA) and PESCO should be treated as Union institutions sui generis, as is the case with the European External Action Service (EEAS); considers that this requires amending the Financial Regulation in order to include EDA and PESCO in Article 2(b) thereof, with a specific section in the Union budget; recalls that Parliament should, jointly with the Council, exercise legislative and budgetary functions, as well as functions of political control and consultation as laid down in the Treaties;

6.  Is convinced that Article 41(1) TEU applies to the administrative expenditure of EDA and PESCO;

7.  Notes that Article 41(2) TEU applies to the operating expenditure of EDA and PESCO; recalls that operating expenditure arising from military missions as referred to in Article 42(1) TEU, operating expenditure arising from defence operations of a Member State where it is the victim of an armed aggression on its territory, and operating expenditure arising from defence operations of Member States where they fulfil their obligation of aid and assistance under Article 42(7) TEU, should be funded collectively, but not charged to the Union budget; welcomes the activation of Article 42(7) on the mutual defence clause;

8.  Considers, therefore, that for EDA and PESCO the funding of their administrative and operating expenditures from the Union budget is the only option under the Treaties, notwithstanding that both institutions may administer funds directly provided by Member States;

9.  Calls on the Member States to provide the necessary additional financial means needed in order to finance the administrative and operational costs of EDA and PESCO from the Union budget;

10.  Urges the Council to revise Decision (CFSP) 2015/1835 defining the statute, seat and operational rules of the European Defence Agency to those ends;

11.  Believes that deepening defence cooperation among Member States at the EU level should go hand in hand with the strengthening of parliamentary oversight and control by both the European Parliament and national parliaments;

12.  Underlines, in this context, Parliament’s role as budgetary authority; is resolved to exercise effective parliamentary scrutiny and budgetary control over EDA and PESCO as provided for by the treaties;

13.  Urges the Council to act in accordance with Article 41(3) TEU and without delay to adopt a decision establishing the start-up fund for the urgent financing of the initial phases of military operations for the tasks referred to in Articles 42(1) and 43 TEU;

14.  Urges the Council, in accordance with Article 42(2) TEU, to take concrete steps towards the harmonisation and standardisation of the European armed forces in order to facilitate the cooperation of armed forces personnel under the umbrella of a new European Defence Union as a step in the progressive framing of a common Union defence policy;

The European added value of the CSDP

15.  Emphasises that achieving the objectives of the CSDP to strengthen the Union’s operational capacity to act externally for peacekeeping, conflict prevention and strengthening international security, as provided for in the TEU, is more than ever necessary in a fast deteriorating security environment; strongly believes that the security and defence threats faced by the EU, and directed at its citizens and territory, are common and cannot be addressed by a Member State alone; is convinced that the Union’s security and defence will be stronger if the Union and its Member States decide to stay united and to work together; takes the view that the EU needs to develop an effective system for European burden-sharing for its own security and defence, which is not yet the case; calls on the Member States to show full political engagement and to cooperate to this end;

16.  Emphasises that security and defence constitute an area where European added value is evident, in terms of efficiency, by giving Member States increased and more cost-effective capacity, through greater coherence, coordination and interoperability in security and defence, and in terms of contributing to consolidating solidarity, cohesion and strategic autonomy, as well as the resilience of the Union; draws attention to estimates that each euro invested in defence generates a return of 1,6 euros, in particular through skilled employment, research and technology, and exports;

17.  Stresses that the use of all possibilities provided for in the Treaties would improve competitiveness and the functioning of the defence industry in the single market, further stimulate defence cooperation through positive incentives, and target projects that Member States are not able to undertake, reducing unnecessary duplication and promoting a more efficient use of public money;

18.  Stresses that the reinforcement of the CSDP in line with the Treaties will not impinge on national sovereignty, as this policy is driven by the Member States; is convinced that there is no greater respect for sovereignty than defending the territorial integrity of the European Union through a common defence policy;

19.  Stresses that the launching of CSDP missions on the basis of Article 44 TEU contributes to the achievement of a European Defence Union; calls on the EU to make use of the full potential of Article 44 in order to continue and step up such missions, with a view to paving the way for an operational security and defence policy;

20.  Considers it essential to increase national defence expenditure to 2 % of EU GDP; stresses that this would mean extra expenditure of nearly EUR 100 billion on defence by the end of the coming decade; considers that this boost should be used to launch more strategic cooperative programmes within and through the Union, by better structuring the demand and supply sides, and by making both sides more efficient and more effective; considers that this increase will contribute to European-level support to the European defence industry and to the creation of jobs, in particular in small and medium enterprises; is of the opinion that a substantial part of that expenditure should be channelled to research and development, as well as to strategic cooperative programmes, focusing on new dual-use and defence technologies, which are not only crucial to the achievement of those goals, but may also bring extra added value to the European Union; notes that reinforced accountability, transparency and scrutiny as regards the use of European public funds should be ensured regarding this extra expenditure;

21.  Is convinced that the Union’s investment in defence should ensure that all Member States can participate in a balanced, coherent and synchronised improvement of their military capabilities; considers that this constitutes a strategic opportunity for the Union to improve its security and defence;

Institutional framework

Defence Ministers Council

22.  Highlights the continued need for the establishment of a Council format of Defence Ministers under the presidency of the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, in order to coordinate the implementation of the CSDP and make it more efficient;

Defence Steering Board

23.  Considers that the Steering Board of the EDA, made up of the representatives of Member States’ defence ministries, is a body that is suitable to exercise the advisory and supervisory functions required to implement Articles 42, 45 and 46 TEU;

24.  Considers that Article 4(4) of Decision (CFSP) 2015/1835 defining the statute, seat and operational rules of the European Defence Agency provides a necessary and powerful basis for the EDA steering board to act as the Union’s third permanent representatives’ committee, the Defence Steering Board; considers that this committee should also exercise the advisory and supervisory functions required to implement permanent structured cooperation once it is established;

25.  Is convinced that the mandate of the Political and Security Committee (PSC) referred to in Article 38 TEU needs to be interpreted narrowly; considers that, under the treaties, its mandate only covers the situation and missions outside the Union as well as certain aspects of the implementation of the solidarity clause; considers in particular that its developed working arrangements are not adapted to the further implementation of that part of the CSDP which is defined by Article 42(2) TEU;

26.  Urges the Council to revise Decision 2001/78/CFSP setting up the Political and Security Committee, as well as Decision (CFSP) 2015/1835 defining the statute, seat and operational rules of the European Defence Agency to those ends;

European Defence Agency

27.  Recalls the objectives of the EDA of supporting Member States in developing their defence capabilities and reinforcing their industrial and technological defence base; emphasises the underused potential of the EDA in supporting the development of the CSDP and in achieving those objectives, which require full use of the Agency’s capacities; calls for a reflection on the Agency's future role and tasks; calls on the Member States to define and commit to a common level of ambition within a reformed EDA; calls for the reinforcement of the EDA’s political backing, funding and resources, as well as of its coordination with the actions of the Commission, the Member States and other actors, especially in the areas of capability development, defence procurement, research and the promotion of interoperability among Member States’ armed forces; considers that the Agency may co-fund pre-commercial procurement and public procurement of innovative solutions together with Member States’ authorities and private market operators;

28.  Notes the EDA’s decision to review the Capability Development Plan (CDP) in line with the EU Global Strategy, and looks forward to a future CDP which reflects EU and Member States’ priorities and needs in a more relevant way;

29.  Calls on the Member States to develop a common European armaments and capabilities policy (EACP) within the EDA as foreseen by Article 42(3) TEU, and calls on the Commission and the EDA to put forward proposals on this matter; calls on the VP/HR to inform Parliament of the results achieved by the existing working relationship between the EDA and the Commission, and of both with the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Organisation for Joint Armament Cooperation (OCCAR); calls on the Member States to duly implement Common Position 2008/944/CFSP on Arms Exports, and to establish a common arms export policy ensuring that arms exports will be subject to common, EU-wide criteria governing the exports of weapons, ammunition, defence equipment and technologies to third countries;

Permanent structured cooperation (PESCO)

30.  Encourages the Member States to establish and join PESCO within the Union framework as soon as possible, with a view to sustaining and improving their military capabilities through doctrine and leadership development, personnel development and training, defence material and infrastructure development, and interoperability and certification; underlines the importance and necessity of participation in permanent and efficient structured cooperation by all Member States willing to advance their defence integration to the highest level of ambition; believes that a permanent ‘European Integrated Force’ (EIF) should be set-up as a multinational force, as referred to in Article 1 of Protocol No 10 on PESCO, and be made available to the Union for the implementation of the CSDP, as foreseen in Article 42(3) TEU; calls on VP/HR to put forward proposals for the operationalisation of PESCO in the first half of 2017;

31.  Considers that the Union should make provision, in agreement with the Member States concerned, for participation in capability programmes undertaken by them; considers that the Union’s financial contribution to such programmes should not exceed the contributions made by the participating Member States;

32.  Takes the view that the EU Battlegroup system should be brought under PESCO, alongside the creation of a permanent civilian and military headquarter, with an equally important Military Planning and Conduct Capability (MPCC) and Civilian Planning and Conduct Capability (CPCC), which would strengthen strategic and operational planning across the entire planning cycle, enhance civil-military cooperation and improve the EU’s ability to react speedily to crises; considers that other European multinational structures, such as the European Air Transport Command, Eurocorps and the Organisation for Joint Armament Cooperation (OCCAR), as well as all bilateral and multilateral forms of military cooperation among PESCO participating countries, should also be brought under PESCO; considers that the EU’s privileges and immunities should apply to those multinational structures being part of PESCO;

33.  Considers that during the stand-up, standby and stand-down phases the Union should cover all EU Battlegroup costs;

34.  Calls on the VP/HR and the Council to implement UN Security Council Resolution 1325 fully and to appoint a Special Representative for Women and Conflict;

The European Parliament

35.  Stresses that Parliament should play a prominent role in the scrutiny and supervision of the implementation and in the evaluation of the CSDP, in line with Article 14(1) TEU; considers that the interparliamentary conference on CFSP and CSDP should also serve as a platform for interparliamentary consultation and scrutiny of the CSDP; insists that Parliament must be consulted in an effective way on major decisions in the area of the CSDP, in particular as regards military and civilian missions outside the EU, and strategic defence operations;

36.  Calls in this regard on the VP/HR to give full effect to Article 36 TEU, by ensuring that the views of Parliament are duly taken into consideration in the framework of the consultation of Parliament on the main aspects and basic choices of the CSDP as part of the CFSP; calls for more information to be provided to Parliament on a more regular basis, with a view to strengthening the available parliamentary and political control mechanisms;

37.  Urges Parliament to turn its Subcommittee on Security and Defence into a fully-fledged parliamentary committee, enabling it to have a prominent role in the implementation of the common security and defence policy, and, in particular, a role in the scrutiny of legal acts related to the defence market, as well as in procedures such as the Coordinated Annual Review on Defence;

38.  Calls for reinforced cooperation between the European Parliament and national parliaments, as a crucial element for developing concrete results in the area of the CSDP and for its legitimation; notes that such cooperation should not undermine the implementation of the CSDP and the achievement of its objectives as a Union policy;

39.  Considers that Parliament should continue boosting specific initiatives and addressing recommendations to the Council, the VP/HR and the Commission on common security and defence issues, beyond its role in the budgetary procedures;

EU-NATO relationship

40.  Calls for a closer relationship between the CSDP and NATO, which offers a political opportunity for collaboration and complementarity at every level, without prejudice to Article 42(7), second subparagraph, TEU; recalls the need to rebalance and enlarge the strategic partnership between the EU and NATO, with the aim of ensuring compatibility, developing joint capabilities and avoiding duplication of actions and structures, thus reducing spending and making it more effective; calls on the VP/HR to engage immediately with transatlantic partners with a view to clarifying their position on the different topics addressed by the Global Strategy;

41.  Calls on the VP/HR and the Secretary-General of NATO to provide a detailed analysis of the legal and political consequences of the possible triggering by the United Kingdom of Article 50 TEU for the development of the EU/NATO partnership;

42.  Underlines that the ‘Berlin plus’ arrangements should be reformulated in depth with a view to adapting them to the current strategic context and to tackling the deficiencies found, such as by enhancing tactical and operational mechanisms in scenarios where both the EU and NATO are present, and enabling NATO to make use of the EU's instruments;

Political recommendations

43.  Supports the proposal for a Coordinated Annual Review on Defence, in the context of which Member States would coordinate their defence spending and capability plans, in an open process involving both the European Parliament and the national parliaments;

44.  Calls on the Council and the VP/HR to elaborate an EU white book on security and defence that includes an appropriate definition of the threats and dangers to European security faced by the EU and its Member States, as a first step towards establishing the capacities that European defence requires, and a roadmap with clear phases and a calendar for progressive steps to be taken towards the establishment of a European Defence Union and a more effective common defence policy; believes that such a white book should be the result of contributions from the various EU institutions and be as comprehensive as possible, and should integrate the different measures foreseen by the Union;

45.  Welcomes the European Defence Action Plan put forward by the Commission in November 2016; calls in this regard on the Commission and the Member States to clarify thoroughly the governance, financing and objectives of the possible European Defence Fund, notably the capability and research ‘windows’; considers that the effective implementation of that plan requires strong support and political commitment from the Member States and the EU institutions; regrets in this regard that the Commission, the EDA and the Member States have not yet delivered on all the tasks resulting from the European Council meetings on defence of 2013 and 2015;

46.  Points out that the various initiatives put forward by the Commission will need to take account of the specific features of the defence sector (rules for participation, intellectual property rights, governance, and tie-in with operational requirements); will keep a very close eye on this during the negotiations for the period 2021-2027, in particular as regards implementation of the prospective European defence research programme;

47.  Considers that the adoption of a EU White Book on Security and Defence should build on the Global Strategy’s Implementation Plan on Security and Defence, in order to drive the progressive framing of a common Union defence policy; stresses that this document should not only reflect the current military capabilities of Member States, but also analyse the type of cooperation necessary and the means to achieve it, the kind of operations that the EU may conduct, and the required capabilities and funds, while also contributing to coordination and cooperation between NATO and the EU;

48.  Calls for the immediate reform of the Athena mechanism in view of enlarging its potential for cost sharing and common funding, as well as of ensuring a fair sharing of operational costs, so that Member States will be encouraged to contribute with forces, not being restricted by their financial capabilities; considers that such reform should ensure that all common costs referred to in Annexes I to IV to Council Decision (CFSP) 2015/528 of 27 March 2015 are always borne by Athena; considers that the reformed Athena mechanism should be used also to fund the expenditure for the operations of the ‘European Integrated Force’ (once established within PESCO), including the EU Battlegroups;

49.  Requires that European military training missions abroad achieve their task of training local national military units capable of addressing conditions of war and security threats (rebellions and terrorism); considers that, as a result, they should have the weapons and equipment necessary both for their training and their ability to operate in the field, and that the European military in charge of their training should be able to accompany them as observers without intervening in the operations, in order to be able to evaluate the effectiveness of the training and, consequently, to be able to make the adjustments and undertake the retraining necessary;

50.  Underlines the need for deeper discussions on the future relation between the Union and the United Kingdom in CSDP matters, and in particular in the field of military capabilities, should the UK decide to trigger Article 50 TEU; considers that new command arrangements need to be found with regard to the Northwood Operational Headquarters for Operation Atalanta;

51.  Calls on the Council and the VP/HR to ensure coordination at all levels of interaction: civilian and military, EEAS/Commission, and EU/Member States; welcomes the internal/external security nexus established by the Global Strategy, and calls on the VP/HR and the Commission to ensure coherence and ensure that the internal and external aspects of security are duly coordinated, including at administrative level;

52.  Underlines that the EU must step up its efforts to strengthen global governance, which will result in an improved strategic and security situation; calls on the Member States to promote the reform of the UN in order to enhance its legitimacy, transparency, accountability processes and effectiveness; takes the view that the UN Security Council must be reformed, especially as regards its composition and voting procedures, in order to boost its capacity to act decisively to address global security challenges, moving beyond its purely military focus;

53.  Stresses that the human factor is one of our most valuable assets when working towards a common defence; considers that more investment in CSDP training and education is needed, including the pursuance of an integrated system based on national military centres, as both training and education are a powerful instrument to advance in this field;

54.  Considers that the views expressed by the European Parliament through this resolution constitute recommendations to the Council and to the VP/HR as referred to in Article 36 TEU; considers that these recommendations should be duly taken into consideration by the VP/HR in any proposals for development of the CSDP, and by the Council when adopting such proposals, as a good practice of mutual sincere cooperation among the Union institutions;

55.  Underlines that Article 21 TEU Union explicitly states that the ‘Union’s action on the international scene shall be guided by the principles which have inspired its own creation, development and enlargement, and which it seeks to advance in the wider world: democracy, the rule of law, the universality and indivisibility of human rights and fundamental freedoms, respect for human dignity, the principles of equality and solidarity, and respect for the principles of the United Nations Charter and international law’;

Possible evolutions of and adjustments to the current institutional set-up of the European Union

56.  Calls on the members of a future convention:

   to consider the recommendations and orientations of this resolution, of Parliament’s resolutions on the implementation of the Common Security and Defence Policy and on the European Defence Union;
   to include, based on those resolutions’ recommendations and orientations, provisions in a future Union treaty that:
   establish the European Armed Forces, capable of deploying combat forces for high intensity conflicts, stabilisation forces which secure cease-fires or peace agreements and evacuation tasks medical services including mobile field hospitals as well as forces for military logistics and military engineering;
   establish, within the common Union defence policy, precise and binding guidelines for the activation and implementation of the mutual aid and assistance clause;
   ensure compulsory information sharing at European level among national intelligence bodies within adequate cooperation structures;
   establish a standing ‘defence matters’ working group of members of the Commission, to be chaired by the VP/HR; associate Parliament with the permanent representatives in this group; further involve the Commission in defence, through well-focused research, planning and implementation; allow the VP/HR to mainstream climate change into all EU external action and in particular into the CSDP;
   to consider the financial and budgetary policy assessment of Member States’ defence spending of a future European Semester on Defence, that is to take into account how much each Member State spends in this area, with a view to relating the importance of the individual spending to the security of Europe as a whole; believes that, in the long term, the EU should explore the possibilities of, and aim at, a common budget;

o
o   o

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

(1) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0120.
(2) OJ C 419, 16.12.2015, p. 138.
(3) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0435.
(4) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0019.
(5) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0440.
(6) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0049.
(7) OJ L 298, 26.10.2012, p. 1.
(8) OJ L 266, 13.10.2015, p. 55.
(9) OJ L 27, 30.1.2001, p. 1.


An integrated EU policy for the Arctic
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European Parliament resolution of 16 March 2017 on an integrated European Union policy for the Arctic (2016/2228(INI))
P8_TA(2017)0093A8-0032/2017

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) concluded on 10 December 1982 and in force since 16 November 1994, and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC),

–  having regard to the Agreement adopted in Paris at the 21st Conference of the Parties of the UNFCCC of 12 December 2015 (the Paris Agreement), and to the vote in the European Parliament on the ratification of the Agreement on 4 October 2016(1),

–  having regard to the Minamata Convention, the Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution, the Gothenburg Protocol, the Stockholm Convention, the Århus Convention and the Convention on Biological Diversity,

–  having regard to the United Nations Summit on Sustainable Development and the outcome document adopted by the General Assembly on 25 September 2015, entitled ‘Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development’(2),

–  having regard to the UNESCO Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage of 16 November 1972,

–  having regard to ILO Convention No 169,

–  having regard to the Ilulissat Declaration announced on 28 May 2008 by the five coastal states of the Arctic Ocean at the Arctic Ocean Conference in Ilulissat, Greenland,

–  having regard to the Circumpolar Inuit Declaration on Resource Development Principles in Inuit Nunaat(3),

–  having regard to the adoption of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) 61/295 by the General Assembly on 13 September 2007,

–  having regard to the Council Conclusions on Arctic issues, in particular those of 20 June 2016, 12 May 2014, 8 December 2009 and 8 December 2008,

–  having regard to the EU Global Strategy for the European Union’s Foreign and Security Policy of June 2016 on ‘Shared Vision, Common Action: A Stronger Europe’, as well as the ‘CFSP Report – Our priorities in 2016’, as endorsed by the Council on 17 October 2016,

–  having regard to the joint communication by the Commission and the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (HR) of 27 April 2016 on ‘An Integrated European Union Policy for the Arctic’ (JOIN(2016)0021), the joint communication by the Commission and the HR of 26 June 2012 on ‘Developing a European Union Policy towards the Arctic Region’ (JOIN(2012)0019) and the Commission communication of 20 November 2008 on ‘The European Union and the Arctic region’ (COM(2008)0763),

–  having regard to the national Arctic strategies of Arctic states, in particular those of the Kingdom of Denmark (2011), Sweden (2011) and Finland (2013), as well as those of other EU and other EEA Member States,

–  having regard to Council Decision 2014/137/EU of 14 March 2014 on relations between the European Union on the one hand, and Greenland and the Kingdom of Denmark on the other,

–  having regard to the Declaration on the Establishment of the Arctic Council (AC) and to the current programme of the AC for 2015 to 2017 under US chairmanship,

–  having regard to the Declaration on the 20th Anniversary of the Barents Euro-Arctic Cooperation, issued in Kirkenes, Norway, on 3-4 June 2013,

–  having regard to the statements of the Conference of Parliamentarians of the Arctic Region (CPAR) and of the Barents Parliamentary Conference (BPC), in particular the Conference Statement adopted at the 12th Conference of the CPAR in Ulan Ude, Russia, 14-16 June 2016,

–  having regard to the joint statement of the third ministerial meeting of the renewed Northern Dimension, held in Brussels on 18 February 2013,

–  having regard to the statements adopted at the Northern Dimension Parliamentary Forum in Reykjavik, Iceland, in May 2015, in Archangelsk, Russia, in November 2013, in Tromsø, Norway, in February 2011 and in Brussels in September 2009,

–  having regard to the International Code for Ships Operating in Polar Waters adopted by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO),

–  having regard to the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL),

–  having regard to the Oil Spill Convention, the Oil Spill Fund and the Supplementary Fund,

–  having regard to its resolutions of 21 November 2013 on ‘The implementation of the Common Security and Defence Policy’ (based on the Annual Report from the Council to the European Parliament on the Common Foreign and Security Policy)’(4), of 12 September 2013 on ‘The maritime dimension of the Common Security and Defence Policy’(5), of 22 November 2012 on ‘The role of the Common Security and Defence Policy in case of climate-driven crises and natural disasters’(6), and of 12 September 2012 on ‘The Annual Report from the Council to the European Parliament on the Common Foreign and Security Policy’(7),

–  having regard to its previous resolutions on the Arctic, in particular the resolutions of 12 March 2014 on ‘The EU Strategy for the Arctic’(8), of 20 January 2011 on ‘A Sustainable EU Policy for the High North’(9) and of 9 October 2008 on ‘Arctic governance’(10),

–  having regard to its resolutions of 2 February 2016 on ‘The mid-term review of the EU’s Biodiversity Strategy’(11) and of 12 May 2016 on the ‘Follow-up to and review of the 2030 Agenda’(12),

–  having regard to the relevant recommendations of the Delegation for relations with Switzerland and Norway and to the EU-Iceland Joint Parliamentary Committee and the European Economic Area Joint Parliamentary Committee (SINEAA Delegation),

–  having regard to the Space Strategy for Europe (COM(2016)0705), published by the Commission on 26 October 2016,

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) 2015/1775 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 6 October 2015 on trade in seal products,

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

–  having regard to the joint deliberations of the Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety under Rule 55 of the Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety and the opinions of the Committee on International Trade, the Committee on Regional Development and the Committee on Fisheries (A8-0032/2017),

A.  whereas the EU is a global actor; whereas there has been a longstanding engagement of the EU in the Arctic based on history, geography, economy and research; whereas three of its Member States – Denmark, Finland and Sweden – are Arctic countries; whereas the Arctic is surrounded by international waters, and citizens and governments throughout the world, including the European Union, have a responsibility to support the protection of the Arctic;

B.  whereas the EU’s engagement in the Northern region and in the Arctic began already in the early 1990s through its participation in the establishment of the Council of the Baltic Sea Region (CBSS), the Barents Euro-Arctic Council (BEAC) and through the full membership of the Commission in these bodies;

C.  whereas the Northern Dimension (ND) policy, which affects both the EU’s internal affairs and external relations, has developed into an equal partnership between the EU, Russia, Norway and Iceland; whereas, in addition to the ND partners, several other multilateral organisations participate in this joint policy, such as the AC, the CBSS and the BEAC, while Canada as well as the United States are observers; whereas the policy covers a broad geographical area and plays an important role through practical regional cooperation in sustainable development, public health and social well-being, culture, environmental protection, and logistics and transport;

D.  whereas the EU has gradually built and enhanced its Arctic policy; whereas the evolving engagement and common EU interests are best served by well-coordinated common means; whereas the challenges relating to the Arctic call for a joint regional and international response;

E.  whereas the Arctic faces unique social, environmental and economic challenges;

F.  whereas the European Arctic has sparse populations, spread over a wide area characterised by a lack of transport links such as road, rail and east-west flight connections; whereas the European Arctic suffers from underinvestment;

G.  whereas a broad international legal framework applies to the Arctic;

H.  whereas the AC is the primary forum for Arctic cooperation; whereas in its 20 years of existence, the AC has shown its ability to maintain cooperation in a constructive and positive spirit, and to adapt to new challenges and take on new responsibilities;

I.  whereas Arctic states have sovereignty and jurisdiction over their land and waters; whereas the rights of the people of the Arctic to pursue the sustainable use of their natural resources must be respected;

J.  whereas interest in the Arctic and its resources is increasing because of the changing environment of the area, and resource scarcity; whereas the region’s geopolitical importance is growing; whereas climate change effects and growing competition for access to the Arctic and its natural resources, and increasing economic activities, have brought risks to the region, including challenges to the environment and human security, but also new opportunities, such as for a highly developed, sustainable bio-economy; whereas as a result of climate change, new navigation routes will open and new fishing grounds and natural resources could lead to increased human activity and environmental challenges in this region;

K.  whereas the Arctic has long been an area of constructive international cooperation and whereas there is a need to keep the Arctic as a low-tension area;

L.  whereas good accessibility, to better connect rural areas of the Northern region with the rest of the EU, is a prerequisite for the sustainable and competitive economic development of Northern growth centres, given the increasing attention by investors and stakeholders in their untapped resources and their role as focal points of ecological concern;

M.  whereas by 2015, the Russian Federation had established at least six new bases north of the Arctic Circle, including six deep-water ports and 13 airfields, and has been increasing the presence of ground forces in the Arctic;

N.  whereas robust, healthy and sustainable Arctic ecosystems, inhabited by viable communities, is strategically important for the political and economic stability of Europe and the world; whereas the Arctic contains over half of the world’s wetlands and plays a key role in the purification of water; whereas it contributes to the achievement of the objective of good water status in the European Union under the Water Framework Directive; whereas when it comes to preserving the Arctic socio-ecosystems, the costs of inaction are increasing exponentially;

O.  whereas Arctic sea ice has diminished significantly since 1981, the areas under permafrost are decreasing (with the risk of incidental releases of huge amounts of carbon dioxide(13) and methane into the atmosphere), the snow cover continues to decrease and the melting glaciers are contributing to globally rising sea levels; whereas it has been noticed that the sea ice is disappearing at an even faster pace than models predict, with the volume of sea ice present during the summer having fallen by more than 40 % in 35 years; whereas climate change is advancing at a double – and accelerating – pace in the polar regions, causing unknown and unpredictable changes to world ecosystems;

P.  whereas three EU Member States (Denmark, Finland and Sweden) and one Overseas Country and Territory (Greenland) are members of the eight-member AC, and seven other Member States (France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain and the United Kingdom) are observers; whereas the EU looks forward to the final implementation of its formal status as an observer in the AC;

Q.  whereas environmental protection and sustainable development are the two main tenets of the Ottawa declaration that laid the foundation for the AC in 1996;

R.  whereas some four million people live in the Arctic region, of which some 10 % are indigenous peoples; whereas the vulnerable Arctic environment, as well as the fundamental rights of indigenous peoples, must be respected and protected with more stringent safeguards; whereas the rights of indigenous peoples and local populations to approve, and to participate in decision-making affecting, the extraction of natural resources needs to be guaranteed; whereas the increase in pollutants and heavy metals in the Arctic has negative repercussions in the food chain owing to their presence in fauna and flora, in particular fish, and is an important health issue for local inhabitants as well as for consumers of fishery products elsewhere;

S.  whereas ecosystems in the Arctic, including its flora and fauna, are particularly vulnerable to disturbances, having relatively long recovery periods; whereas negative environmental consequences are often cumulative and irreversible, and often have external geographical and ecological impacts (e.g. damage to oceanic ecosystems);

T.  whereas in the last decades, the temperature in the Arctic has been increasing at about twice the rate as the global average;

U.  whereas increased amount of greenhouse gases and air pollution in the atmosphere are contributing to the changing climate of the Arctic; whereas pollution appearing in the Arctic climate is mostly derived from Asian, North American and European emitters, so that the emission reduction measures in the EU play a great role in tackling the climate change of the Arctic;

V.  whereas the risks posed by the use of heavy fuel oil (HFO) in Arctic maritime transports are multiple: in the event of spills, the highly dense fuel emulsifies, sinks and can be transported extremely long distances if it gets trapped in ice; spilled HFO poses enormous risks for the food security of Arctic indigenous communities, whose subsistence depends on fishing and hunting; combustion of HFO produces sulphur oxides and heavy metals, as well as large amounts of black carbon, which, when deposited on Arctic ice, stimulates the absorption of heat into the ice mass, accelerating the melting process and the effects of climate change; whereas the transport and use of HFO is prohibited by the IMO in the waters surrounding the Antarctic;

W.  whereas the EU should play a leading role in discussions and negotiations in international fora with a view to ensuring that all parties concerned accept their responsibilities in terms of reducing emissions of greenhouse gases or pollutants, and face the growing challenges of sustainable resource management;

X.  whereas the risks derived from the use of nuclear power in ice breakers and coastal facilities should be taken into account and minimised in all activities related to preparedness and response;

Y.  whereas dumping of any sort of waste in the Arctic permafrost is under no circumstances a sustainable waste management solution, as demonstrated by recent findings at Camp Century in Greenland;

Z.  whereas the EU policy in the Arctic region should reflect more closely the Sustainable Development Goals that the EU has committed to achieving by 2030;

AA.  whereas science-informed decision-making, including local and indigenous knowledge, is key to safeguarding the fragile ecosystems of the Arctic, to reducing risks, to enabling adaptation of local communities and to promoting sustainable development; whereas the EU is the world’s leading funder of Arctic research, and promotes the free exchange of its results;

AB.  whereas a balanced combination of Arctic industrial expertise and specialisation, on the one hand, and a commitment to environmentally friendly and sustainable development goals, on the other, have the potential to encourage ecological innovation, industrial symbioses and effective waste management in the Arctic area, and thereby to maintain both its pristine environment and its potential for new and emerging business opportunities, and for job growth, in the process contributing as well to youth employment and to resolving the challenge of its ageing population;

AC.  whereas the technical capabilities of existing satellite communications within the EU, along the lines of the services and infrastructure offered by Copernicus and Galileo, could meet the needs of users located in the Arctic region;

AD.  whereas the involvement of local communities is critical to the success of natural resource management and to building resilience in fragile ecosystems;

AE.  whereas it recognises the importance of considering traditional and local knowledge in decision-making in the Arctic;

AF.  whereas the Sami, Nenets, Khanty, Evenk, Chukchi, Aleut, Yupik and Inuit cultures need to be protected pursuant to the UNDRIP; whereas the indigenous populations of the Arctic have the right to use natural resources in their home areas and should therefore be parties to any future plans for commercial fishing;

AG.  whereas any fisheries activity in the Arctic region must take place in compliance with existing international agreements regulating the area, including the Spitsbergen Treaty of 1920 and, specifically, any rights of States Parties to that treaty, and also in compliance with any historical fishing rights;

1.  Welcomes the joint communication as a positive step towards an integrated EU policy on Arctic matters, identifying specific areas of action, and towards developing a more coherent framework for EU action with a focus on the European Arctic; stresses the need for more coherence between the EU’s internal and external policies as regards Arctic matters; calls on the Commission to establish concrete implementation and follow-up measures for its communication; reiterates its call for a comprehensive strategy and a concretised action plan on the EU’s engagement in the Arctic, wherein the aim of preserving the vulnerable ecosystem of the Artic should be the starting point;

2.  Welcomes the joint communication’s three priority areas, namely climate change, sustainable development and international cooperation;

3.  Underlines the importance of UNCLOS in providing the essential multilateral legal framework for all ocean activities, including in the Arctic, for the delimitation of the Arctic continental shelf and for settling intra-Arctic sovereignty issues as regards territorial seas; notes that only very few unresolved issues of jurisdiction exist in the Arctic; considers respect for international law in the Arctic essential; points out that the waters around the North Pole are mostly international waters; advocates a strong role for the EU in promoting effective multilateral arrangements and a global, rules-based order through the strengthening and consistent implementation of relevant international, regional and bilateral agreements and frameworks; underlines that the EU should have a positive role in promoting and supporting agreements that strengthen the management of biodiversity and environment beyond national jurisdiction in the Arctic Ocean; notes that this does not concern navigation and traditional livelihoods; urges the EU to work closely with its Member States to support the preservation and protection of the environment in the region; stresses the important role of the AC for maintaining constructive cooperation, low tension, peace and stability in the Arctic region;

4.  Welcomes the ratification of the Paris Agreement by the European Union and its entry into force on 4 November 2016; calls for its swift and effective implementation by all parties; encourages the Member States to ratify the Paris Agreement in order to proceed with the ambitious greenhouse gas emission reduction targets and measures on both the emission trading and effort-sharing sectors, bearing in mind the target of limiting the temperature increase to 1,5 °C by 2100;

5.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to take a stronger role in the effective implementation of international conventions such as the Paris Agreement, the Minamata Convention, the Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution, the Gothenburg Protocol, the Stockholm Convention, the International Code for Ships Operating in Polar Waters (Polar Code) and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD); asks the Commission to pay special attention to the ongoing international process by the Persistent Organic Pollutants Review Committee to further phase-out the use of persistent organic pollutants and black carbon; invites EU partner countries to do likewise;

6.  Supports the development of a network of Arctic conservation areas and the protection of the international sea area around the North Pole beyond the economic zones of the coastal states;

7.  Calls for any development of commercial fisheries in the Arctic region to be carried out in a way that is fully compatible with the sensitive and specific nature of the region; insists that, before any new commercial fisheries are started in the Arctic region, reliable and precautionary scientific stock assessments must be conducted in order to determine the levels of fishing that will conserve the targeted fish stocks above levels capable of producing maximum sustainable yield, and that will not lead to depletion of other species or to serious damage to the marine environment; stresses that all fishing on the high seas must be regulated by a regional fisheries management organisation that respects scientific advice and has a robust control and surveillance programme to ensure compliance with management measures; points out that fishing within Exclusive Economic Zones must meet the same standards; calls for a moratorium on industrial-scale fishing, including bottom trawling, in the previously unfished waters of the Arctic;

8.  Welcomes the ongoing negotiations on an international agreement between the Arctic coastal states and international parties with the aim of preventing unregulated fishing in the international waters of the Arctic, and calls on the Commission and the Member States to sign this declaration and to advocate making it binding on the signatories;

9.  Calls on the Commission to support and encourage the Arctic countries to work further on extending the information and analysis that is available on all stocks in the region;

10.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to step up their efforts within the EU legislative framework by agreeing on ambitious reduction targets in the negotiations on the National Emission Ceilings Directive, by reducing local pollution levels through the Clean Air Package in order to reduce long-range pollution and particularly soot, and by negotiating ambitious greenhouse gas emission reduction targets and measures on both the emission trading and effort-sharing sectors, bearing in mind the target of limiting the temperature increase to 1,5 °C by 2100;

11.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to ensure that the UN ocean agreement for the protection of biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ) currently being negotiated is strong and effective and can ensure a robust process for the identification, designation, management and enforcement of marine protected areas, including no-take marine reserves;

12.  Encourages the Commission and the Member States to affirm their role in the efficient implementation of the CBD and related international agreements; considers it important that the strategic plan regarding the identification and prioritisation of harmful alien species that threaten ecosystems, and of their expansion routes, agreed upon in Article 10 of the Nagoya Protocol, be carried out, such that the most harmful invasive species are controlled or wiped out, and such that their expansion routes are targeted with a view to eliminating the transfer and invasion of such species, including to Arctic areas;

13.  Calls on the Member States to ban fossil fuel subsidies that lower the cost of fossil fuel energy production, with a view to discouraging the exploitation and use of fossil fuels;

14.  Calls on the EU to promote strict precautionary regulatory standards in the field of environmental protection and safety for oil exploration, prospection and production internationally; calls for a ban on oil drilling in the icy Arctic waters of the EU and the EEA and for promotion by the EU of comparable precautionary standards in the Arctic Council and for Arctic coastal states;

15.  Stresses the importance for the EU of encouraging rapid ratification of the Minamata Convention with a view to preventing and reducing mercury emissions;

16.  Welcomes the Commission’s intention to channel European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) to measures to mainstream climate action in the Arctic, taking into account the local circumstances and special nature of the Arctic regions;

17.  Stresses that the increasing use of natural resources in the Arctic should be conducted in a way that respects and benefits local populations and that takes full environmental responsibility for the fragile Arctic environment; believes that this strategic choice is integral to ensuring the legitimacy of, and local support for, the EU’s Arctic engagement;

18.  Calls on the Commission, and on those Member States that are members of or observers to the AC, to support the AC’s ongoing work regarding environmental impact assessments (EIA) to preserve the vulnerable ecosystems of the Arctic in accordance with the lines of the Espoo Convention; emphasises the vital importance of EIAs for ensuring a sustainable development of economic activities and the protection of the Arctic’s particularly vulnerable ecosystems and communities; draws attention to the following non-exhaustive criteria presented by the Inuit Circumpolar Council (ICC) for evaluating projects taking place in the Arctic:

   All potential environmental, socio-economic and cultural impacts, both during and after the project, including cumulative effects of current and future projects, must be considered.
   The precautionary principle and the polluter pays principle must be applied at all stages of project planning, assessment, implementation and reclamation.
   Reclamation and recovery of habitat and affected lands must be thoroughly planned and fully funded in advance.
   Project proposals for oil spill response must include a proven demonstration of the industry’s ability to retrieve spilled oil in frozen, broken and refreezing ice conditions.
   An international liability and compensation regime for contamination of lands, waters and marine areas resulting from offshore oil exploration and exploitation must be established;

19.  Stresses the importance of finding mechanisms to incorporate corporate social responsibility (CSR) into the activities of companies doing business in the Arctic region, notably through cooperation with representatives of the business sector, such as the Arctic Economic Council; recommends that the potential of voluntary mechanisms be explored to encourage high industry standards in social and environmental performance, such as by highlighting ‘best performances’ in an Arctic Corporate Responsibility Index, based on e.g. the Arctic Business Investment Protocol and the UN Global Compact Initiative;

20.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to support all efforts made in the IMO to reach a global agreement on reducing emissions from shipping;

21.  Recognises the importance of continuous and sufficient funding for the Northern Sparsely Populated Areas in order to tackle permanent handicaps such as sparse population, harsh climate conditions and long distances;

22.  Encourages close cooperation between the EU Institutions and relevant Member States on Arctic issues; invites those Member States that are members of the AC to keep the other Member States and the HR informed of any matter of common interest in the AC in accordance with Article 34(2) TEU;

23.  Stresses the need for the EU to engage with all Arctic partners in policy dialogue, and calls for intensified cooperation between the EU, the AC in the framework of the Northern Dimension, the Barents Euro-Arctic Council and other bodies involved in cooperation in the High North; underlines the important role of observers in the AC with great experience and long-time engagement in scientific and political cooperation in the Arctic; welcomes, in this regard, the ongoing dialogue between the observers and the AC Presidency;

24.  Strongly supports the granting of observer status to the EU in the AC; is convinced that the full implementation of the EU’s status to formal observer would contribute positively to, and reinforce, the political and institutional role of the AC in dealing with Arctic matters;

25.  Welcomes the enhanced coordination between the Commission and the EEAS on Arctic issues; suggests that a unit for Northern policies be created within the EEAS, and that EEAS-Commission inter-service cooperation be strengthened, to ensure a coherent, coordinated and integrated policy approach across the relevant key policy areas;

26.  Notes the EU’s capacity to contribute to the resolution of potential security challenges; calls on the EU to contribute, in partnership with its Member States and in cooperation with the Arctic countries, to the efforts to build civilian security mechanisms, and to enhance natural and man-made crisis and disaster management capacities as well as search and rescue infrastructures;

27.  Draws attention to the fact that energy security is closely related to climate change; considers that energy security must be improved by reducing the EU’s dependence on fossil fuels; highlights the fact that the transformation of the Arctic represents one major effect of climate change on EU security; stresses the need to address this risk multiplier through a reinforced EU strategy for the Arctic, and through an enhanced policy of EU-generated renewable energies and energy efficiency that significantly reduces the Union’s reliance on external sources and thereby improves its security position;

28.  Calls for the development of oiled wildlife response plans, in accordance with defined good practice, in all Arctic states, including an effective assessment of vulnerable species at risk, as well as feasible prevention and response strategies to ensure their protection;

29.  Highlights the ongoing constructive and pragmatic cross-border cooperation within the ND, its partnerships and the Barents Cooperation;

30.  Stresses the importance of continued engagement and dialogue with Russia within the framework of Arctic regional cooperation, particularly EU-Russia cross-border cooperation, notwithstanding the increase in the stationing of Russian military forces in the region, the building and reopening of Russian military bases and the creation of a Russian Arctic military district; underlines the need for the EU to further assert its interests towards Russia through the use of selective engagement and to seek progress on issues of common concern where there is ground for global solutions to common challenges and threats; urges that this issue be included in the EU strategy on the Arctic; underlines that the Arctic region is an integral part of environmental, economic and political spheres of international relations;

31.  Is of the opinion that the ND policy serves as a successful model of stability, joint ownership and engagement in Arctic cooperation; underlines the importance of the ND sectorial partnerships, especially in environment and in infrastructure and logistics;

32.  Notes that Arctic migration routes to the EU have formed; emphasises that migration routes and increased transport should be considered when drafting an EU Arctic strategy;

33.  Reiterates its call on the EU and its Member States actively to uphold the principles of freedom of navigation and innocent passage;

34.  Welcomes plans to create a European Arctic stakeholder forum; emphasises the need to enhance synergies between existing financing instruments in order to prevent possible duplications, and to maximise interaction between internal and external EU programmes; notes that Finland has offered to host the first forum, to be convened in 2017;

35.  Emphasises the importance of including traditional and local knowledge in decision making in the Arctic;

36.  Reaffirms the EU’s support for the UNDRIP; recalls, in particular, Article 19 thereof, affirming that States shall consult and cooperate in good faith with the indigenous peoples concerned through their own representative institutions in order to obtain their free, prior and informed consent before adopting and implementing legislative and administrative measures that may affect them; calls for better and earlier involvement of indigenous peoples, in the making of a citizen-centred Arctic policy and into the work of the AC; stresses that their inclusion in decision-making would facilitate the sustainable management of natural resources in the Arctic; stresses the necessity to safeguard and promote their rights, cultures and languages; stresses the need to develop renewable energy resources in the Arctic region in a sustainable manner, that also respects the fragile environment, and with the full involvement of the indigenous peoples;

37.  Pays special attention to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) 4.5, which includes ensuring equal access to all levels of education and vocational training for indigenous peoples, also in their own languages;

38.  Stresses, that accessible, interconnected, safe and sustainable tourism in rural and scarcely populated areas in the European Arctic can contribute to increasing business activities, which may in turn increase the number of jobs in the small and medium-sized businesses and help the region’s overall positive development; stresses, therefore, that tourism in the area should be promoted because of its related social and environmental implications for infrastructure and research, education and training;

39.  Highlights the role of indigenous peoples and local communities in keeping the Arctic region viable and sustainable; calls on the Commission to focus on providing these communities with access to all relevant information on EU single market requirements, best practices and funding instruments; underlines the role of fluent transport, communication and electricity networks, as well as spatial geo-localisation and telecommunication technologies, in creating economic activity in the region; reminds the Commission of its obligations under Regulation (EU) 2015/1775 in terms of reporting and informing the public and the competent authorities of the provisions in the regulation; stresses the need to incorporate indigenous and local know-how as well as to ensure a closer involvement, acceptance and engagement of the indigenous and local communities in the decision-making processes; underlines the need of the necessary support and funding; suggests, in this context, an Arctic representation of indigenous peoples in Brussels to make their participation more visible; is of the view that the EU should support the deployment of innovative technologies in the Arctic, developing Arctic renewables sources;

40.  Stresses that maintaining sustainably developed communities benefitting from the latest information technology in the Arctic with a high quality of life is of the utmost importance, and that the EU can play a vital role in the matter; reiterates the right of the people of the Arctic to determine their own livelihoods and recognises their wish for sustainable development of the region; asks the EEAS and the Commission to step up the dialogue with them and to explore the possibility of providing funds for these associations and ensuring that their voices are taken into account in EU debates on the Arctic; welcomes the work of the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of the indigenous peoples, and that of the UN Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples;

41.  Stresses that science should be the underlying basis for policy-making in the Arctic when it comes to environmental protection and the fight against climate change;

42.  Highlights the vital role of the ESIF in developing the European Arctic and in creating sustainable growth and quality jobs targeted towards future-oriented sectors; highlights as well the need for responsible and respectful development of the Arctic’s natural resources; draws attention to the permanent handicaps that need to be offset (Article 174 TFEU); highlights the long-term importance of the strategy in different areas, such as the digital agenda, climate change, blue growth, etc.;

43.  Underlines the importance of good accessibility of the Arctic region to the TEN-T network, its planned core network corridor extension of the North Sea-Baltic and Scandinavian-Mediterranean corridors, as well as second level access routes as the key transport structure to enable sustainable mobility of people and goods; recalls the potential of EU funding, such as the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) and the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), in financing infrastructure projects in the European Arctic; notes the prominent role of the European Investment Bank (EIB) in this regard; suggests that the Commission explore the potential for a broader international financial cooperation on the development of infrastructure and connectivity, including ICT systems;

44.  Welcomes the Commission’s commitment to at least maintaining the level of funding for Arctic research in Horizon 2020, and particularly its intention to support the deployment of innovative technologies; calls on the Commission to increase the EU funding for Arctic research in the post-2020 Multi-Annual Financial Framework (MFF); calls on the Commission to continue and reinforce the use of Horizon 2020 and other funding programmes for the purpose of studying the Arctic;

45.  Notes that Arctic marine ecosystems are crucial for the preservation of global biodiversity; notes that the reduction of Arctic sea ice and other environmental changes in the Arctic, combined with the limited scientific knowledge about marine resources in this area, necessitates a precautionary approach aiming to establish appropriate international measures to ensure the long-term conservation and sustainable use of resources in the Arctic high seas;

46.  Encourages the promotion and facilitation of international scientific and research cooperation among all stakeholders active in the field of Arctic research, and in establishing research infrastructures, in the recognition that better knowledge of the Arctic is key to meeting all challenges in an adequate way; supports cooperation between leading Arctic research institutions with a view to developing an integrated European polar research programme under the EU-PolarNet initiative that incorporates traditional and local knowledge; notes that the Commission has been invited to an international Arctic science conference to be held in Europe in 2018; underlines the importance of successful cooperation with Canada and the US through the Transatlantic Ocean Research Alliance;

47.  Reiterates its call on the Commission to establish an EU Arctic Information Centre in the Arctic, with sufficient funds to ensure efficient access to Arctic information and knowledge, and to generate tourism; points out that such an EU Arctic Information Centre could be linked with already existing Arctic Centres or with some other Arctic institution as a means of crucially lowering costs;

48.  Calls for more systematic and long-term gathering of data derived from Arctic research projects; regrets that the achievements of individual projects often disappear when passing from one funding period to another; calls on the Commission to aim at continuity when planning the post-2020 framework for Arctic research;

49.  Welcomes the Commission’s support for the establishment of marine protected areas in the Arctic; reminds the Commission and the Member States of the at least 10 % protection target of coastal and marine areas as part of the SDGs; notes, however, that any new proposal on these issues should be coherent with the outcome of the discussion by the Arctic states in the AC; stresses that marine protected areas are critically important to preserving Arctic ecosystems; recalls the necessity fully to involve local communities in the planning, realisation and management of these protected areas;

50.  Points to the importance of space technologies and space-related research activities which are essential for safe shipping operations as well as for environmental monitoring and for observing climate change in the Arctic; encourages the Commission, in view of the changes in the Arctic region recognised in its Communication on a Space Strategy for Europe (COM(2016)0705), to explore possibilities for increased use of EU future and current satellite programmes in the region, in cooperation with Arctic Council members, and to take into account the needs of users within the framework of the GOVSATCOM initiative; calls on all stakeholders to make full use of the potential of the Galileo satellite navigation and the Copernicus earth observation programmes in this respect;

51.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to promote and support the establishment of a marine protected area in the Arctic High Seas under the mandate of the OSPAR (Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic) Commission, prohibiting all extractive uses, including fisheries, in the international waters around the North Pole covered by OSPAR;

52.  Calls on the Commission to support initiatives to ban the use of bottom trawling in Ecologically or Biologically Significant Marine Areas (EBSAs) and on the Arctic high seas;

53.  Calls for the conservation targets of the new common fisheries policy, and the quantitative target of restoring and maintaining stocks above levels which can produce the maximum sustainable yield, to be the basis for any commercial fisheries in the region;

54.  Calls on the EU to be a leader in the prevention of unregulated fishing in the Arctic; takes the view that it would have every right to do so, given that Member States are involved in all levels of governance in the Arctic region;

55.   Stresses that EU fishing fleets must not threaten biodiversity in the region; welcomes the identification of EBSAs in the Arctic region under the CBD as an important process in ensuring the effective conservation of Arctic biodiversity, and stresses the importance of implementing an Ecosystem Based Management (EBM) approach in the coastal, marine and terrestrial environments of the Arctic, as highlighted by the Arctic Council EBM expert group; call on states to meet their obligations under the CBD and the UNCLOS by creating a network of marine protected areas and marine reserves in the Arctic Ocean;

56.  Advocates strongly that any further development of commercial fisheries in the Arctic region must take place in compliance with international agreements relating to the area, including the Spitsbergen Treaty of 1920, with the rights of any States Parties to such agreements, and with existing historical fishing rights;

57.  Calls on the Commission to study and make proposals on the strengthening of the Arctic telecommunications infrastructure, including satellites, in order to help scientific research and climate monitoring, and to create local development, navigation and safety at sea;

58.  Reiterates its 2014 call on the Commission and the Member States to take all necessary measures to facilitate actively the ban on the use and carriage of HFO as ship fuel in vessels navigating the Arctic seas through the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL Convention), and/or through port state control, as regulated in the waters surrounding Antarctica; invites the Commission to include the environmental and climate risks of the use of HFO in its study on the risks that the increase in navigation of the Northern Sea Route would bring; calls on the Commission, in the absence of adequate international measures, to put forward proposals on rules for vessels calling at EU ports subsequent to, or prior to, journeys through Arctic waters, with a view to prohibiting the use and carriage of HFO;

59.  Looks forward to the entry into force of the IMO Polar Code in 2017 and 2018, which will make Arctic navigation safer; stresses the importance of developing a single escape, evacuation and rescue (EER) system for offshore personnel that can be applied to Arctic platforms and vessels;

60.  Recalls that under the European Economic Area (EEA) Agreement, Iceland and Norway have made commitments to preserve the quality of the environment and ensure the sustainable use of natural resources, in line with relevant EU legislation;

61.  Stresses China’s growing interest in the Arctic region, especially as regards access to shipping routes and the availability of energy resources; takes note of the conclusion of a free trade agreement between Iceland and China, and calls on the Commission to monitor closely the effects this may have not only on the sustainable economic development of the Icelandic part of the Arctic region, but also on the EU’s economy and internal market;

62.   Recalls that under the 2007 EU-Greenland Fisheries Partnership Agreement, the EU grants Greenland financial support for securing responsible fishing and the sustainable exploitation of fisheries resources in the Greenlandic exclusive economic zone;

63.  Calls for the rapid ratification and accession by the Member States of the 2010 Protocol to the International Convention on Liability and Compensation for Damage in Connection with the Carriage of Noxious and Hazardous Substances by Sea (HNS Convention);

64.  Considers parliamentary engagement and close interparliamentary cooperation on Arctic matters, in particular with national parliaments of relevant EU Member States, essential in the implementation of Arctic policies;

65.  Invites the HR and the Commission to monitor climate, environmental protection, maritime, socio-economic and security developments in the Arctic closely, and to report back regularly to Parliament and to the Council, including on the implementation of the EU’s Arctic policy;

66.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the governments and parliaments of the Member States and the governments and parliaments of the Arctic region states.

(1) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0363.
(2) UN General Assembly resolution A/RES/70/1.
(3) http://www.inuitcircumpolar.com/uploads/3/0/5/4/30542564/declaration_on_resource_development_a3_final.pdf
(4) OJ C 436, 24.11.2016, p. 17.
(5) OJ C 93, 9.3.2016, p. 131.
(6) OJ C 419, 16.12.2015, p. 153.
(7) OJ C 353 E, 3.12.2013, p. 77.
(8) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2014)0236.
(9) OJ C 136 E, 11.5.2012, p. 71.
(10) OJ C 9 E, 15.1.2010, p. 41.
(11) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0034.
(12) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0224.
(13) It is estimated that one and a half billion tons of CO2 is stored in the Arctic.


2016 Report on Montenegro
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European Parliament resolution of 16 March 2017 on the 2016 Commission Report on Montenegro (2016/2309(INI))
P8_TA(2017)0094A8-0050/2017

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the European Council conclusions of 19-20 June 2003 and to the annex thereto entitled ‘The Thessaloniki Agenda for the Western Balkans: moving towards European integration’,

–  having regard to the Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) between the European Communities and their Member States, of the one part, and the Republic of Montenegro, of the other part, of 29 March 2010(1),

–  having regard to the outcome of the meetings of the EU-Montenegro Accession Conference at deputy level of 30 June 2016 and on ministerial level of 13 December 2016,

–  having regard to the Council conclusions of 26 June 2012 deciding to open accession negotiations with Montenegro on 29 June 2012, and to the conclusions of 13 December 2016, which latter received the support of the overwhelming majority of delegations,

–  having regard to the seventh meeting of the Stabilisation and Association Council between Montenegro and the EU, held in Brussels on 20 June 2016,

–  having regard to the Commission Communication of 9 November 2016 entitled ‘2016 Communication on EU Enlargement Policy’ (COM(2016)0715), accompanied by the Commission Staff Working Document entitled ‘Montenegro 2016 Report’ (SWD(2016)0360),

–  having regard to the Final Declaration by the Chair of the Paris Western Balkans Summit of 4 July 2016 as well as the Recommendations of the Civil Society Organisations for the Paris Summit 2016,

–  having regard to the decision of the Foreign Ministers of the NATO Member States of 2 December 2015 and the signature of the NATO Accession Protocol for Montenegro on 19 May 2016,

–  having regard to the Final Report of the OSCE/ODIHR Election Observation Mission on the parliamentary elections of 16 October 2016,

–  having regard to the Joint Declaration of the 8th meeting of the EU-Montenegro Civil Society Joint Consultative Committee (JCC), held in Budva on 8 November 2016,

–  having regard to the Declaration and Recommendations of the 12th Meeting of the EU-Montenegro Stabilisation and Association Parliamentary Committee (SAPC), held in Podgorica on 19-20 May 2016,

–  having regard to its previous resolutions on Montenegro,

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Foreign Affairs (A8-0050/2017),

A.  whereas Euro-Atlantic integration is Montenegro’s key foreign policy priority;

B.  whereas further progress has been made in the accession negotiations; whereas Montenegro is currently considered to be the most advanced in its accession process; whereas the legal framework in the area of the rule of law is largely complete and the institutional set-up is in place;

C.  whereas concerns remain about the polarised domestic climate and the boycott of the opposition in Parliament; whereas sustainable dialogue and constructive cooperation between ruling coalition and opposition are critical to maintaining progress in the accession process;

D.  whereas corruption and organised crime remain serious concerns;

E.  whereas civil society organisations (CSOs) are able to participate in working groups, including for accession negotiations, but have expressed dissatisfaction with their levels of involvement in policy-making and their ability to access information; whereas it is extremely worrying that some civil society activists have been personally targeted by the media through smear campaigns;

F.  whereas Montenegro’s progress under rule of law chapters 23 and 24 remains essential for the overall pace of the negotiating process;

G.  whereas freedom of expression and media freedom are core EU values and the cornerstones of any democracy; whereas the Montenegrin media community is highly politicised, censorship and self-censorship persist, and economic and political pressures on journalists occur;

1.  Welcomes the continued progress in Montenegro’s EU integration; welcomes the fact that Montenegro has achieved steady progress in the accession negotiations, noting that so far 26 chapters have been opened for negotiations and 2 chapters have been provisionally closed; calls on the Council to speed up negotiations with Montenegro; encourages the opening and closing of further chapters in the accession negotiations in 2017; commends the adoption by the Montenegrin Government of the 2017-2018 Programme of Accession of Montenegro to the EU; encourages Montenegro to accelerate the pace of reforms, to increase its efforts towards meeting all benchmarks and to continue focusing on the fundamentals of the accession process; recalls that it is essential to deliver concrete results with a strong and sustainable implementation record, especially in the fields of the rule of law, justice and the fight against corruption and organised crime;

2.  Commends the competent authorities for holding parliamentary elections on 16 October 2016 in an orderly manner in which fundamental freedoms were generally respected; encourages further alignment with international standards; welcomes the fact that the turnout was the highest since 2002; welcomes the revised legal framework under which the elections took place, but notes the persistence of some administrative deficiencies, including on the part of the State Election Commission (SEC), as well as concerns about the accuracy of the electoral register and politicisation;

3.  Regrets the need for the temporary shutdown of internet communication platforms on election day as well as the hacking of the website of the Centre for Democratic Transition (CDT) a few days before the elections, which hindered the work of civil society organisations (CSOs) in monitoring the elections; calls on the competent authorities to address shortcomings and investigate the alleged procedural irregularities, including alleged abuses of state funds and abuse of office, and any other reported shortcomings, in a swift and transparent manner, and in line with the OSCE/ODIHR recommendations; expects that the independence of the SEC be sustained; takes the view that an improvement of the electoral process is required in order to build full confidence in the electoral process; notes with regret that the opposition has not recognised the results of the elections; recognises the attempts by external actors to discredit the electoral process and the difficulties this has caused; expects the new government to maintain the political commitment to the reform process and invites all political parties to re-engage in a constructive dialogue;

4.  Notes that a Government of Electoral Trust was formed in the run-up to these elections; welcomes the fact that this was a Montenegrin-led process and one that was achieved on a cross-party basis;

5.  Notes with concern the alleged attempts by Russia to influence developments in Montenegro, as this pattern of behaviour in the region could imply further destabilisation of the Western Balkans; is concerned about the serious incidents, including an alleged coup d’état, that occurred on 16 October 2016, and calls on the Vice-President of the European Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (VP/HR), and on the Commission, to follow closely ongoing investigations by the competent authorities; commends the willingness of Serbia to cooperate in these investigations; considers it important that relevant services of the Member States share information pertaining to these incidents among themselves and with the VP/HR and the Commission;

6.  Continues to be deeply concerned about the polarised domestic climate and the boycott of parliamentary activities by members of the opposition; invites the opposition to take advantage of the Montenegrin Prime Minister’s offer of participation in the government in exchange for ending the boycott; reiterates the need for all political forces to re-engage in constructive dialogue and cooperation within the Montenegrin parliament; calls for further reinforcement of the parliament’s scrutiny of the accession process and capacity for budget oversight; commends the parliament for continuing to demonstrate a high level of transparency; expresses concern about the use of disproportionate force during anti-government protests; insists repeatedly on the need for a due follow-up on the ‘audio-recording affair’; calls for improvements to parliamentary oversight of the implementation of measures to combat organised crime and corruption;

7.  Invites the Government to improve access to public information, especially in relation to large infrastructure projects such as the construction of highways, privatisation, public procurement and judicial operations;

8.  Welcomes the new public administration reform strategy (PAR) 2016-2020, the public financial management reform programme, the entry into force of the new law on salaries and the simplification of administrative procedures; calls for measures to allocate the appropriate budgetary resources for PAR’s implementation, as well as for consistent political will to rationalise public administration, also in view of accession preparations; notes the limited progress that has been made in strengthening administrative capacity; encourages the full de-politicisation of the public administration; considers it essential that the principles of merit, professionalism, accountability, transparency and timely regulatory impact assessment are adhered to and that citizens’ rights to good, corruption-free administration and to information are safeguarded;

9.  Notes progress in judiciary reform, including improved institutional capacities; remains concerned about undue influence on judicial independence, especially with regard to the appointment of judges; emphasises the need to strengthen the accountability of the judiciary by developing a track record of implementation of codes of ethics and of the new disciplinary systems for judges and prosecutors; stresses the need to rationalise the judicial network, and to further improve capacities to monitor backlogs at courts and to reduce further the number of pending cases; calls for more effective institutional and individual accountability when it comes to the processing of indictments for corruption, money laundering and organised crime; highlights the need to effectively implement court decisions regarding access to information and to counter the prevalent practice of declaring documents as confidential in order to restrict access; stresses the importance of raising public awareness about the existing complaint mechanisms;

10.  While noting some progress in the follow-up of war crimes, calls on the competent authorities to effectively investigate, prosecute, try and punish war crimes as well as to fight impunity in line with international standards, particularly with regard to the responsible officials at the top of the command chain; welcomes the adoption of a prosecution strategy with a view to opening new cases and yielding concrete results; stresses the need to ensure unhindered access to justice and fair compensation for the victims of war crimes as well as to fully protect witnesses during war crime proceedings;

11.  Notes with concern that corruption remains prevalent in many areas, but welcomes the further strengthening of the anti-corruption framework, inter alia by making the Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) fully operational and by appointing special anti-corruption prosecutors, as well as addressing the need for specialised long-term training; considers it essential to ensure their independence in investigations; emphasises the importance of politically impartial, professional and transparent ACA activities, especially with regard to high-level corruption cases and political party financing; stresses repeatedly the need to establish a track record on successful investigations and convictions, in particular in high-level corruption cases, and on measures to prevent corruption, including applying legal sanctions more effectively; calls on the new government to make combating corruption one of its priorities by allocating sufficient human and budgetary resources to the task;

12.  Calls for the effective implementation of sectoral action plans for areas particularly vulnerable to corruption, such as public procurement, privatisation, urban planning, education, healthcare, local government and the police; calls for an effective investigation into potential whistle-blowing cases and their adequate protection; calls for incorporating the criminal offence of illicit enrichment within the Montenegrin criminal code; calls for the effective implementation of the Cooperation Agreement between Eurojust and Montenegro in order to improve judicial cooperation in the fight against serious crime; calls for measures to improve the protection of whistle-blowers;

13.  Notes the adoption of an action plan for fighting money laundering and terrorism financing, and the signing of the Additional Protocol to the Council of Europe’s Convention on the Prevention of Terrorism; stresses the need to continue to develop the track record in organised crime cases, especially as regards trafficking in human beings, drugs and money laundering, to ensure stronger inter-agency cooperation and to further intensify regional and international cooperation in the fight against organised crime; highlights the need for specialist forensic accountancy advisers to assist with regular investigations;

14.  Welcomes the improved legal framework for combating trafficking in human beings; stresses, however, the need for the better identification of the victims of trafficking and to improve their access to assistance, compensation and protection;

15.  Welcomes the new strategy to combat violent extremism in 2016-2018, which complements the national strategy for preventing and combating terrorism, money laundering and the financing of terrorism; notes the setting up of a new intelligence unit tasked with identifying and monitoring potential members of violent extremist groups; considers it fundamental to identify people in the early stages of radicalisation in order to prevent them from being recruited by violent extremist groups and to successfully reintegrate them into society; considers it important that measures taken in this regard should ensure the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international obligations; highlights the importance of raising awareness to monitor possible terrorist threats;

16.  While acknowledging CSOs’ involvement in the accession preparations, calls on the competent authorities to further improve CSOs’ access to EU-related information and to ensure that consultations with CSOs are held in a meaningful way, where possible; calls on the competent authorities to develop a more supportive and inclusive approach to facilitate grassroots activities by CSOs and to encourage their active participation in the overview of the whole electoral process; urges competent authorities to develop public funding for CSOs, both at national and local level, in a more sustainable, transparent and efficient way; calls on the relevant authorities to create conditions conducive to voluntary work and a greater degree of civic engagement; is deeply concerned that smear campaigns and intimidation attempts have continued against certain CSO activists; calls on the competent authorities to investigate and clarify the cause of these attempts and to strengthen efforts in order to protect CSO activists;

17.  Notes some progress in improving the situation of minorities, including the completion of several legislative reforms to ensure greater alignment with EU and international human rights standards; welcomes the adoption of a 2016-2020 strategy and action plan for the social inclusion of the Roma and Egyptian communities; calls for an appropriate budget to be allocated so that the action plan may be implemented properly; expresses concern about the double discrimination faced by women and girls in the Roma community and about the access of the Roma community, Egyptian minorities and Ashkali people to healthcare, education, housing and employment; encourages the competent authorities to continue to strengthen efforts to safeguard the rights of LGBTI people; calls on the competent authorities to make further efforts to raise awareness about anti-discrimination among the general public; remains concerned that most public buildings, including medical centres and university faculties, are still not accessible to people with disabilities and that the number of employed people with disabilities is still very limited; calls for further measures to protect the multi-ethnic identity of the Boka Kotorska region;

18.  Calls for a further strengthening of human rights institutions, including the Ombudsperson and the Ministry of Human Rights and Minorities, and takes the view that their knowledge of international and European human rights law and standards should be increased; expresses concern about the lack of a uniform approach and the low levels of penalties for human rights violations;

19.  Remains concerned about continued gender-based domestic and sexual violence, the lack of prosecutions and the proper sentencing of perpetrators in line with international standards, and the inefficient support to, and protection of, victims; calls for measures to establish adequate protection services, enhance relevant inter-institutional coordination, make effective use of the new unified database of cases of domestic violence, and implement the 2016-2020 strategy on combating domestic violence; underlines the importance of educating and training employees in state institutions to work with victims; calls on the competent authorities to ensure proper protection, long term accommodation, financial support and educational programmes for the victims of forced marriages, as well as the efficient prosecution and sentencing of perpetrators; stresses the importance of encouraging women’s representation in politics, including in key decision-making positions, as well as their access and better representation on the labour market; calls for the development of public policy which helps to balance work and family relations; notes the continued implementation of the 2013-2017 action plan on gender equality; urges the competent authorities to make sufficient budget allocations for its implementation; notes that there are challenges in coordinating policies concerning children and that violence against children remains a concern;

20.  Calls on the Montenegrin authorities to take the necessary measures in order to prevent violence against children, human trafficking and forced child marriages that continue to be reported by NGOs;

21.  Emphasises the need to work constantly and seriously on the harmonisation of the Montenegrin legal system with international legal standards of human rights and freedoms of persons with disabilities, in order to ensure that the principles of the rule of law, constitutionality and legality are respected;

22.  Remains concerned about the state of freedom of expression and media freedom in Montenegro and the lack of effective investigations by the government into attacks on journalists; urges again the competent authorities to resolve the long-pending cases of violence against, intimidation of and threats made to journalists, to take measures to protect media professionals and to create a safe environment for free and investigative journalism; expresses concerns about attacks perpetrated by police forces and about recent cases of pressure and intimidation against journalists, including smear campaigns, physical attacks and threats, as well as cases of interference with media during anti-government demonstrations, including arbitrary arrests and the seizure of equipment; expresses concerns about the continued lack of proper investigations into these attacks and about the non-resolution of these cases; notes that the number of defamation cases remains high; insists on transparent state advertising in private media, on the amendment of the Montenegrin criminal code and on the introduction of new criminal offences aimed at preventing and punishing attacks on journalists discharging their professional duties; acknowledges the legal measures taken to provide greater financial independence and sustainability for the public service broadcaster RTCG, and calls for further steps to be taken to ensure its independence, including editorial independence; stresses the need to support and strengthen existing self-regulatory mechanisms; stresses that the revised Code of Ethics for Journalists must be effectively and uniformly applied across the media community; calls, when appropriate, for observers of the EU Delegation and Member State embassies to more regularly attend trials against journalists and media professionals;

23.  Notes that the SEC limited media access during the 2016 elections; calls for the implementation of the recommendations concerning the media put forward by the Final Report of the OSCE/ODIHR Election Observation Mission on Parliamentary Elections 2016;

24.  While noting favourable economic developments, urges the new government to take measures to ensure fiscal sustainability while enhancing social rights and consumer protection, to launch further structural reforms with a view to improving the business and investment climate that will create jobs and growth and build a more diverse economy, including measures designed to scale back the informal sector, and to insist on the need to fight tax evasion effectively; welcomes the opening of Chapter 19 and strongly believes that it is the best incentive for the government to accelerate its work on social inclusion and poverty reduction and on scaling back the informal sector; calls for the rationalisation of public spending, as well as for intensified efforts to strengthen the rule of law and contract enforcement; calls for the need to tackle high external imbalances and to re-evaluate public infrastructure investment projects which challenge fiscal sustainability; calls for further measures of a financial and non-financial nature to be made available to support SMEs and for further investments to be made in innovation and sustainable projects in order to stimulate the economy; calls for improvements in social dialogue;

25.  Notes that while some progress was made in developing transport infrastructure, including through the South East Europe Transport Observatory, a lack of cross-border roads is hampering trade and tourism; welcomes efforts that have been made hitherto to liberalise the railway sector in Montenegro; stresses the need to coordinate with neighbouring countries on connectivity issues and to allow them to become part of the planning process for infrastructure projects;

26.  Stresses the importance of strengthening the SME sector and providing support through better legislation, financing and the implementation of industrial policy, as well as by scaling back the informal economy and speeding up the electronic registration of companies nationwide;

27.  Notes that the shadow economy of Montenegro still accounts for a large share of total GDP; recalls that the large informal economy constitutes a major bottleneck for entrepreneurship and economic growth and encourages Montenegro to take steps to reduce the size of the shadow economy;

28.  Notes with concern that some IPA-funded capacity-building outputs were not fully used or followed up by the authorities; stresses that, for positive outcomes to be achieved, authorities need to ensure adequate staff availability, adopt the necessary legislation to allow the outputs to be used and grant the necessary independence to newly created institutions;

29.  Notes the modest decline in unemployment; welcomes the new 2016-2020 national strategy for employment and human resources development and the accompanying 2016 action plan; continues to express concern about high youth unemployment and poor labour mobility; calls for proactive labour market measures to increase quality employment and to support women, vulnerable people, people with disabilities and young people through education, careers guidance, training, employment and labour rights; reiterates the importance of active participation in regional youth initiatives, such as the Regional Youth Cooperation Office of the Western Balkans, including by taking advantage of existing programmes designed to boost connectivity in the region and tackle youth unemployment;

30.  Notes that public spending on education remains well below the EU average; emphasises the need to introduce the necessary measures, particularly with regard to early childcare and pre-schooling, where enrolment is disappointingly low and well below the EU’s target of 95 % by 2020; takes the view that special attention should be paid to the lack of access to several public universities for persons with disabilities;

31.  Welcomes the new law on the environment, as well as the national strategy for the transposition and implementation of the EU acquis on the environment and climate change and its 2016-2020 action plan; stresses the need to reinforce implementation efforts, in particular in water quality, nature protection and waste management, as well as related administrative capacities at all levels; is concerned about the significant delay in establishing protection over the potential Natura 2000 site of Ulcinj Salina; calls for further efforts to preserve the biodiversity of the Salina and the sustainable development of the coastline;

32.  Calls on the competent authorities to undertake the necessary protection and conservation measures in relation to Lake Skadar in order to maintain its ecological characteristics including its ecological integrity; calls on the government to ensure that the transformation of national parks into a state-owned limited company will have no adverse effects on their protection; recognises, in this context, the concerns expressed in the framework of the Ramsar and Bern conventions regarding the special-purpose spatial plan for the Skadar Lake National Park, including the Porto Skadar Lake project; expresses concern about significant delays in establishing protection for areas which are identified as potential Natura 2000 network areas such as the Skadar Lake National Park; recalls the need for sound and strategic environmental impact assessments in line with the EU acquis and international standards;

33.  Stresses the need to implement international commitments in the field of climate change mitigation; is deeply concerned about the Government’s plan to develop the Pljevlja II coal-fired power plant, which is incompatible with the commitments made under the Paris Agreement;

34.  Acknowledges the good progress made in the area of energy, including in the area of interconnections with partner countries; calls on Montenegro to introduce legislation implementing the Third Energy Package, particularly the Renewable Energy Directive; continues to express concern about unsustainable hydropower development and that many of these plants are being planned without sound environmental impact assessment, in particular with regard to the protection of biodiversity and their impact on protected areas as required by EU legislation; calls on the competent authorities to maintain vigilant oversight of offshore oil and gas exploration and to implement all protective measures in accordance with adopted legislation, regulations and the EU acquis;

35.  In light of the preparations for the Western Balkans summit in Italy 2017, calls on the Montenegrin authorities to step up efforts to implement legal and regulatory measures in the field of transport and the energy sector (soft measures), in order to fulfil the Connectivity Agenda of the European Union;

36.  Welcomes Montenegro’s proactive participation and continued constructive role in good-neighbourly, regional and international cooperation; encourages further cooperation in this regard; strongly commends Montenegro for continuing to fully align its foreign policy with the EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy, including with Council Decision (CFSP) 2016/1671 which reasserted EU restrictive measures against Russia; welcomes Montenegro’s participation in the EU’s CSDP missions; encourages it to continue to address, in a constructive and neighbourly spirit, outstanding bilateral issues with its neighbours, including the unresolved border demarcation issues with Serbia and Croatia, as early as possible in the accession process; reiterates its call for authorities to help resolve the succession issues relating to the legacy of the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY); welcomes the border demarcation agreement with Bosnia and Herzegovina and the ratification of the border demarcation agreement with Kosovo; underlines the need to continue negotiating the adjustment of the border crossing and border traffic agreements; commends cooperation with neighbouring countries under the Sarajevo Declaration Process; urges Montenegro to comply with the EU common positions on the integrity of the Rome Statute and related EU guiding principles on bilateral immunity agreements;

37.  Notes that Montenegro, while not on the ‘Western Balkan route’, remains a transit country for refugees and migrants, the majority of which come from Syria; calls on Montenegrin authorities to ensure that migrants and refugees applying for asylum in Montenegro or travelling through Montenegrin territory are treated in accordance with international and EU law, including the 1951 Refugee Conventions and the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights; welcomes the adoption of the Schengen Action Plan and the 2017-2020 Strategy for Integrated Migration Management;

38.  Calls on the Commission to continue the work on migration-related issues with all the countries of the Western Balkans in order to make sure that EU and international norms and standards are adhered to; welcomes the work done so far in this regard;

39.  Welcomes the active participation of Montenegro in the 2016 Paris summit on the Western Balkans, notably on the connectivity agenda; calls on the authorities to implement the newly signed border crossing agreement with Albania and to implement the Trans-European Network Regulation with regard to licensing and permitting open access to the railway market; notes that although the railway market in Montenegro has been open to competition since 2014, so far no private operators have shown an interest in entering the market; calls on the new government to provide an open railway market, with transparent track access charges and capacity allocation that are fully aligned with the acquis;

40.  Welcomes the fact that Montenegro’s NATO Accession Protocol was signed in May 2016, in recognition of Montenegro’s efforts to implement reforms, and that the Protocol is currently being ratified by NATO members, as NATO is an important factor in ensuring stability and peace in the Western Balkans; encourages NATO members within the EU to prioritise the ratification process and to recognise that NATO membership for Montenegro is an important symbolic and strategic part of the country’s Euro-Atlantic integration process; recalls that the EU accession negotiations are independent from the NATO accession process;

41.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the governments and parliaments of the Member States and the government and parliament of Montenegro.

(1) OJ L 108, 29.4.2010, p. 1.


e-Democracy in the EU: potential and challenges
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European Parliament resolution of 16 March 2017 on e-democracy in the European Union: potential and challenges (2016/2008(INI))
P8_TA(2017)0095A8-0041/2017

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to Council of Europe Recommendation CM/Rec(2009)1 on electronic democracy (e-democracy), adopted by the Committee of Ministers on 18 February 2009, as the first international legal instrument setting standards in the field of e-democracy,

–  having regard to the Treaty on European Union, in particular Articles 2, 3, 6, 9, 10 and 11, and to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, in particular Articles 8-20 and 24,

–  having regard to the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, to the European Convention on Human Rights and to the European Social Charter,

–  having regard to its resolution of 28 October 2015 on the European Citizens’ Initiative(1),

–  having regard to the communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions entitled ‘EU eGovernment Action Plan 2016-2020 – Accelerating the digital transformation of government’ (COM(2016)0179),

–  having regard to the 2014 United Nations E-Government Development Index (EGDI),

–  having regard to the three studies entitled ‘Potential and challenges of e-participation in the European Union’, ‘Potential and challenges of e-voting in the European Union’ and ‘The legal and political context for setting up a European identity document’, published by its Policy Department C in 2016,

–  having regard to the two STOA studies entitled ‘E-public, e-participation and e-voting in Europe – prospects and challenges: final report’ (November 2011), and ‘Technology options and systems to strengthen participatory and direct democracy’, to be published in 2017,

–  having regard to the work on e-democracy undertaken by the Conference of European Regional Legislative Assemblies (CALRE) using the UN cooperation network IT4all,

–  having regard to its resolution of 8 September 2015 on ‘Human rights and technology: the impact of intrusion and surveillance systems on human rights in third countries’(2),

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Constitutional Affairs and the opinion of the Committee on Culture and Education (A8-0041/2017),

A.  whereas the recent crises and deadlocks in the financial, economic, political and social fields are severely affecting individual Member States and the Union as a whole and at a time when all of them are confronted with global challenges such as climate change, migration and security; whereas citizens’ relationship with politics has become increasingly strained, as they turn away from political decision-making processes, and there is a growing risk of public disaffection with politics; whereas the engagement and involvement of citizens and civil society in democratic life, in addition to transparency and information, are essential for the functioning of democracy and for the legitimacy and accountability of each level of the multi-level governance structure of the EU; whereas there is a clear need to enhance the democratic linkage between citizens and political institutions;

B.  whereas in recent decades our society has changed extremely quickly and citizens feel the need to express their views more frequently and directly concerning the problems which determine the future of our society, and whereas political and policymaking institutions are therefore well advised to invest in democratic innovation;

C.  whereas voter turnout in European elections has been steadily decreasing since 1979, and in the 2014 elections fell to 42,54 %;

D.  whereas it is important to regain citizens’ confidence in the European project; whereas e-democracy tools can help foster more active citizenship by improving participation, transparency and accountability in decision-making, buttressing democratic oversight mechanisms and knowledge about the EU in order to give the citizens more voice in political life;

E.  whereas democracy should evolve and adapt to the changes and opportunities associated with new technologies and ICT tools, which must be regarded as a common good that, where properly implemented and accompanied by an adequate level of information, could help to create a more transparent and participatory democracy; whereas, with that aim in view, every person should have the opportunity to be trained in the use of new technologies;

F.   whereas further progress on cybersecurity and data protection is essential if we wish to make greater use of new technologies in institutional and political life and thereby enhance citizen participation in decision-making;

G.  whereas a wave of new digital communication tools and open and collaborative platforms could inspire and provide new solutions for fostering citizens’ political participation and engagement, whilst reducing discontent with political institutions, as well as helping to increase levels of trust, transparency and accountability in the democratic system;

H.   whereas in his most recent ‘state of the Union’ address, President Juncker presented a package of measures to increase the use of electronic communications, including WiFi4EU and the roll-out of 5G in Europe;

I.   whereas open government data has the potential to foster economic growth, increase public sector efficiencies and improve the transparency and accountability of European and national institutions;

J.   whereas access under equal conditions to a neutral network is a prerequisite for ensuring the effectiveness of fundamental human rights;

K.  whereas e-democracy could facilitate the development of complementary forms of engagement capable of contributing to mitigating the growth of public disaffection with traditional politics; whereas, furthermore, it could help promote communication, dialogue, and awareness of and interest in our Union, its politics and its policies, therefore favouring grassroots support for the European project as well as reducing the so-called European ‘democratic deficit’;

L.   whereas the new forms of participation in a virtual public space are inseparable from respect for the rights and obligations linked to participation in public space, which include, for example, procedural rights in case of defamation;

M.   whereas it is indispensable, in order to guarantee the role of the web as a valid and effective democratic tool, to eradicate the digital divide and to provide citizens with adequate media literacy and digital skills;

N.   whereas information and communication technology (ICT) systems are at the heart of modern government processes, but efforts are still needed to improve delivery of e-government services;

O.  whereas e-voting could help people living or working in a Member State of which they are not a citizen or in a third country to exercise their voting rights; whereas security and secrecy when casting and recording votes must be ensured in e-voting processes, particularly concerning the possibility of cyber-attacks;

Potential and challenges

1.  Underlines the potential benefits of e-democracy, which is defined as the support and enhancement of traditional democracy by means of ICT, and which can complement and reinforce democratic processes by adding elements of citizens’ empowerment through different online activities that include, amongst others, e-government, e-governance, e-deliberation, e-participation and e-voting; welcomes the fact that by means of the new information and communication tools more and more citizens can be involved in democratic processes;

2.  Emphasises that Council of Europe Recommendation CM/Rec(2009)1 calls on member states to ensure that e-democracy ‘promotes, ensures and enhances transparency, accountability, responsiveness, engagement, deliberation, inclusiveness, accessibility, participation, subsidiarity and social cohesion’; points out that this recommendation calls on member states to develop measures that are able to strengthen human rights, democracy and the rule of law;

3.  Stresses that the purpose of e-democracy is to promote a democratic culture that enriches and reinforces democratic practices, by providing additional means to increase transparency and citizens’ participation, but not to establish an alternative democratic system to detriment of representative democracy; points out that e-democracy alone does not ensure political participation, and that a non-digital environment to pursue political participation of citizens must also be addressed in parallel to e-democracy;

4.  Points out the importance of e-voting and remote internet voting as systems able to widen citizens’ inclusion and facilitate democratic participation, especially in areas that are geographically and socially more marginalised, offering numerous potential advantages, in particular for young people, people with reduced mobility, older people and people living or working permanently or temporarily in a Member State of which they are not a citizen or in a third country, provided that the highest possible standards of data protection are ensured; recalls that, when putting in place remote internet voting, Member States must ensure transparency and reliability of ballot counting and respect the principles of equality, secrecy of the vote, access to voting and free suffrage;

5.   Stresses the need for all digital interaction processes to be grounded in the principle of institutional openness, complying with the combination of real-time transparency and informed participation;

6.  Highlights and encourages the use of e-participation as a key characteristic of e-democracy, encompassing three forms of interaction between EU institutions and governments on one hand, and citizens on the other, namely: e-information, e-consultation and e-decision-making; acknowledges that many national, regional and local e-participation cases can be taken as good examples of how ICT can be used in participatory democracy; encourages Member States to further develop these practices at national and local level;

7.   Stresses that ICTs contribute towards the creation of spaces for participation and discussion which, in turn, improve the quality and legitimacy of our democratic systems;

8.   Stresses the need to engage young people in political debate, and notes that the use of ICT in democratic procedures can be an effective tool for that purpose;

9.  Recalls the first European example of online voting in Estonia in its legally binding elections in 2005, but maintains that if the take-up of possible e-voting in other Member States is to be successful, it will be necessary to assess whether the actual participation of the whole population can be guaranteed, and also to evaluate the benefits and challenges, as well as the implications, of different or divergent technological approaches; stresses that the existence of secure, high-speed internet connections and secure electronic identity infrastructure are important prerequisites for the success of e-voting; underlines the need to harness the benefits of new technologies in current polling-booth voting processes, and believes that significant advances could be made through the sharing of best practice and research at all political levels;

10.   Points out the challenge of responding to the citizens’ concerns regarding use of online democracy tools; takes the view that addressing security concerns and guaranteeing privacy are of paramount importance for building citizens’ trust in the emerging digital political arena;

11.  Stresses that democratic processes require extensive debate at every level of EU society, as well as scrutiny and reflection, as being conducive to fair and full and rational deliberation; warns that there is a risk of distortion and manipulation of the outcome of deliberations of on-line discussion tools; takes the view that the best guarantee against this risk is transparency of all actors interacting and providing information on campaigns which are potentially being promoted, directly or indirectly on digital participation platforms;

12.   Notes that for a functioning democracy, citizens’ trust in institutions and democratic processes are a fundamental dimension; stresses, therefore, that the introduction of e‑democracy tools needs to be accompanied by proper communication and education strategies;

13.   Stresses the importance of embedding e-participation in the political system in order to incorporate citizens’ contributions in the decision-making process and ensure follow-up; notes that a lack of responsiveness from decision-makers leads to disappointment and distrust;

14.  Emphasises that the use of ICT tools should be complementary to other channels of communication with public institutions, with the aim of avoiding any kind of discrimination on the grounds of digital skills or lack of resources and infrastructures;

Proposals on improving the democratic system by means of ICT

15.  Considers that participation in democratic processes is founded, first of all, on effective and non-discriminatory access to information and knowledge;

16.  Calls, moreover, on the EU and the Member States to refrain from adopting unnecessary measures aimed at arbitrarily restricting access to the internet and the exercise of basic human rights, such as disproportionate censorship measures or criminalisation of the legitimate expression of criticism and dissent;

17.  Calls on the Member States and the EU to provide educational and technical means for boosting the democratic empowerment of citizens and improving ICT competences, and to supply digital literacy and equal and safe digital access for all EU citizens in order to bridge the digital divide (e-inclusion), for the ultimate benefit of democracy; encourages the Member States to integrate the acquisition of digital skills into school curricula and lifelong learning, and to prioritise digital training programmes for elderly people; supports the development of networks with universities and educational institutions to promote research on and implementation of new participation tools; also calls on the EU and the Member States to promote programmes and policies aimed at developing a critical and informed appreciation of the use of ICT;

18.  Proposes that further progress be made in evaluating use of new technology to improve democracy in EU administrations by incorporating, as indicators, targets measuring the quality of online services;

19.   Recommends that the European Parliament, as the only directly elected institution of the European Union, take the lead in reinforcing e-democracy; considers it worthwhile, to this end, to develop innovative technological solutions which will make it possible for citizens to communicate meaningfully and share their concerns with their elected representatives;

20.  Encourages the simplification of institutional language and procedures and the organisation of multimedia content to explain the keys to the main decision-making processes, in order to promote understanding and participation; stresses the need to disseminate this gateway to e-participation through segmented proactive tools that permit access to all documents in parliamentary files;

21.  Urges the Member States and the EU to deliver affordable and high-speed digital infrastructure, particularly in peripheral regions and rural and economically less developed areas, and to ensure that equality between citizens is guaranteed, paying particular attention to those citizens who are most vulnerable and providing them with skills to ensure the safe and secure use of technology; recommends that libraries, schools and buildings in which public services are provided be appropriately resourced with a high-speed, modern IT infrastructure which is equally accessible to all citizens, especially the most vulnerable categories, such as people with disabilities; points out the need to devote adequate financial and training resources to these goals; recommends to the Commission that it provide resources for projects aimed at improving digital infrastructures in the realm of the social and solidarity economy;

22.  Emphasises that women are under-represented in political decision-making at all levels, as well as in ICT sectors; notes that women and girls often face gender stereotypes in relation to digital technologies; therefore calls on the Commission and Member States to invest in targeted programmes which promote ICT education and e-participation for women and girls, particularly those from vulnerable and marginalised backgrounds, using formal, informal and non-formal learning;

23.  Notes that in order to ensure equal accessibility of e-Democracy tools for all citizens, multilingual translation is important when information is to be disseminated and read by all citizens, in countries with more than one official language and by those coming from different ethnic backgrounds;

24.  Encourages the Member States and the EU to promote, support and implement mechanisms and instruments that enable the participation of citizens and their interaction with governments and EU institutions, such as crowdsourcing platforms; highlights that ICT should facilitate access to independent information, transparency, accountability and participation in decision-making; calls in this connection for all the Commission’s communication and relations-with-citizens tools, and in particular the Europe Direct portal, to be tailored more closely to the challenges of e-democracy; commits to make all the existing tools of legislative follow-up more accessible, understandable, educational and interactive, and invites the Commission to do the same on its own website;

25.   Calls on the Member States and the EU to review the content on their official sites which deals with the functioning of democracy, with the aim of providing educational tools which make it easier for young people to visit the sites in question and understand their content and of making the sites accessible to persons with a disability;

26.  Encourages the administrations to reflect their commitment to the principle of institutional openness through changes to their strategic design and corporate culture, budgets, and organisational change processes that are driven by the goal of improving democracy through use of new technology;

27.  Calls for an online platform to be created so that members of the public can systematically be consulted before the European legislator takes decisions, thus being involved more directly in public life;

28.  Believes it essential that the deployment of these new tools is backed by campaigns promoting the possibilities they offer and the civic values of joint responsibility and participation;

29.  Points to the importance of the European citizens’ initiative as a means of involving the public in the political life of the EU and their direct participation therein, and therefore calls on the Commission to review the way it operates so that it can realise its full potential, in line with the recommendations made by the European Parliament in its resolution of 28 October 2015; draws attention, therefore, to the importance of simplifying and accelerating the bureaucratic requirements relating to this and of making wider use of ICT, e.g. through digital platforms and other applications compatible with mobile devices, in order to make this important tool more user-friendly and widely publicised; believes that the use of new technology could improve, in particular, the online signature collection system through the use of identification and authentication services (e-IDAS), which would allow members of the public more easily to receive and exchange information on existing or potential ECIs so that they can actively participate in discussions and/or support the initiatives themselves;

30.  Emphasises that several Commission processes, such as online public consultations, e-participation activities and impact assessments, could benefit from a wider use of new technologies in order to encourage public participation, increase accountability in these processes and the transparency of the EU institutions, and enhance European governance; highlights the need to render public consultation processes effective and accessible to as many people as possible, while keeping technical barriers to the minimum;

31.  Underlines the need for more ample information for citizens on the existing e-participation platforms at EU, national and local level;

32.  Calls on the Commission to expand and develop e-participation in the mid-term review of the Digital Single Market Strategy to be launched in 2017, and to promote the development and funding of new instruments connected with e-citizenship of the European Union; recommends furthermore to the Commission that it focus on open- source solutions that can be rolled out easily across the digital single market; calls in particular on the Commission to integrate the reuse of previous projects such as the D-CENT platform, an EU-funded project providing technological tools for participative democracy;

33.  Stresses that the development of e-administration should be a priority for Member States and the EU institutions and welcomes the Commission’s ambitious and comprehensive e-government action plan, for which proper national implementation and coordination of available EU funding will be key, in synergy with the national digital agencies and authorities; considers that more efforts should be made to encourage open data and the use of ICT tools based on open-source and free software, in both EU institutions and Member States;

34.  Calls for more cooperation at EU level and recommends the sharing of best practices for e-democracy projects as a way to move towards a form of democracy that is more participatory and deliberative and that responds to the requests and interests of the citizens and aims to involve them in decision-making processes; points out the need to know what citizens’ attitudes are towards the implementation of remote internet voting; calls on the Commission to provide an independent assessment or consultation of public opinion regarding online voting, with an analysis of its strengths and weaknesses, as an additional option for citizens to cast their vote for consideration by the Member States by the end of 2018;

35.  Stresses the need to protect, as a matter of priority, privacy and personal data when using e-democracy tools and to foster a more secure internet environment, particularly with regard to information and data security, including the ‘right to be forgotten’, and to provide guarantees against surveillance software and source verifiability; moreover, calls for further use of digital services based on key enablers such as secure and encrypted digital identity, in accordance with the EIDAS regulation; promotes safe and secure digital public registers and the validation of electronic signatures in order to prevent fraudulent multiple interactions, this being in line with European and international human rights standards and the case-law of the European Court of Human Rights and the European Court of Justice; finally underlines that security issues must not become a deterrent to the inclusion of individuals and groups in democratic processes;

36.   Stresses the need to enhance democracy by means of technology that should be used in a secure environment that is safe from the misuse of technological tools (e.g. spamming bots, anonymous profiling and identity appropriation), and recalls the need to respect the highest legal standards;

37.  Recalls the essential role that whistleblowers play – generally through the internet – in exposing corruption, fraud, mismanagement and other forms of wrongdoing that threaten public health and safety, financial integrity, human rights, the environment and the rule of law, while at the same time ensuring the right of the public to information;

38.  Encourages public representatives to participate actively with citizens in existing, fully independent forums, and to use new media and IT platforms with a view to stimulating discussion and exchanging opinions and proposals with citizens (e-parliament), creating a direct connection with them; calls on the political groups in the European Parliament and the European political parties to increase opportunities for public discussion and e-participation;

39.  Calls on its Members and on the other EU institutions to continue enhancing transparency in their work, especially in the current challenging political context, and asks public authorities to look into the possibility of setting up digital platforms, including the latest IT tools; encourages elected representatives to use these tools and to communicate and positively engage with constituents and stakeholders on an efficient basis, with a view to informing them on EU and parliamentary activities and thus opening up the deliberation and policy-making processes and increasing awareness of European democracy;

40.  Welcomes Parliament’s initiatives in the field of e-participation; supports continuous efforts to strengthen Parliament’s representative character, legitimacy and effectiveness, and encourages Members to make wider use of new technologies in order to develop them to their full potential, while taking into account the necessary limits imposed by the right to privacy and to personal data protection; points out the need for a broad reflection process on how to improve the use of ICT by its Members, not only for engaging with the public but also regarding legislation, petitions, consultations and other aspects relevant to their daily work;

41.  Encourages political parties at EU and national level to make the most out of digital tools in order to develop new ways to promote internal democracy, including transparency in their management, financing, and decision-making processes, and in order to allow better communication with and participation of their members and supporters and civil society; also encourages them to be highly transparent and accountable towards citizens; suggests to this end that possible modifications be considered to the Statute of European political parties and that these cover and promote e-participation practices;

42.  Calls on the EU and its institutions to be open to more experimentation with new e-participation methods such as crowdsourcing, at EU level and at national, regional and local level, taking into account the best practices already developed within the Member States and, to this end, to launch specific pilot projects; reiterates at the same time the need to complement such measures with awareness-raising campaigns in order to explain the possibilities of these tools;

43.   Calls on the European institutions to launch a participatory process in order to elaborate a European Charter of Internet Rights, taking as reference, among other texts, the Declaration of Internet Rights published by Italy’s Chamber of Deputies on 28 July 2015, in order to promote and guarantee all the rights pertaining to the digital sphere, among them the genuine right of access to the internet and net neutrality;

44.  Notes the abundance of heterogeneous information that can be found on the internet today, and stresses that citizens’ capacity for critical thinking should be strengthened so that they are able to better discern between reliable and non-reliable sources of information; encourages Member States, therefore, to adapt and update legislation to address ongoing developments, and fully implement and enforce existing legislation on hate speech, both offline and online, whilst guaranteeing fundamental and constitutional rights; stresses that the Union and its Member States should develop actions and policies for strengthening transferable, critical and creative thinking skills and digital and media literacy, as well as inclusion and curiosity among their citizens, especially young people, so that they will be able to make informed decisions and contribute positively to democratic processes;

o
o   o

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

(1) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0382.
(2) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0288.

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