Index 
Texts adopted
Thursday, 6 April 2017 - StrasbourgFinal edition
Russia, the arrest of Alexei Navalny and other protestors
 Belarus
 Bangladesh, including child marriages
 Wholesale roaming markets ***I
 Third countries whose nationals are subject to or exempt from a visa requirement: Ukraine ***I
 European Solidarity Corps
 Adequacy of the protection afforded by the EU-US privacy Shield

Russia, the arrest of Alexei Navalny and other protestors
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European Parliament resolution of 6 April 2017 on Russia, the arrest of Alexei Navalny and other protestors (2017/2646(RSP))
P8_TA(2017)0125RC-B8-0245/2017

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its previous resolutions on Russia, in particular its resolutions of 23 October 2012(1), of 13 June 2013 on the rule of law in Russia(2), of 13 March 2014 on Russia: sentencing of demonstrators involved in the Bolotnaya Square events(3), its recommendation of 2 April 2014, its resolutions of 23 October 2014 on the closing-down of the NGO ‘Memorial’ (winner of the 2009 Sakharov Prize) in Russia(4), of 15 January 2015 on Russia, in particular the case of Alexei Navalny(5), of 12 March 2015 on the murder of the Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov and the state of democracy in Russia(6), and of 24 November 2016 on the case of Ildar Dadin, prisoner of conscience in Russia(7),

–  having regard to the Russian Constitution, in particular Article 29 which protects the freedom of speech and Article 31 which includes the right to peaceful assembly, and to the international human rights obligations to which Russia has committed itself as Member of the Council of Europe, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the UN,

–  having regard to the ‘Partnership for Modernisation’ initiated in 2010 in Rostov-on-Don and to the commitment made by the Russian leadership to the rule of law as a fundamental basis for the modernisation of Russia,

–  having regard to Article 5 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 7 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, both of which provide that no one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and to which the Russian Federation is a party,

–  having regard to the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the UN General Assembly on 9 December 1998,

–  having regard to its resolution of 16 March 2017 on the Ukrainian prisoners in Russia and the situation in Crimea(8),

–  having regard to the seventh periodic report of the Russian Federation considered by the United Nations Human Rights Committee at its 3136th and 3137th meetings, held on 16 and 17 March 2015,

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

A.  whereas on 26 March 2017, between 33 000 and 93 000 people took part in anti-corruption rallies, marches and demonstrations in over 80 cities across Russia; whereas over 2 000 protesters were detained by police in cities across Russia, including about 1 000 in Moscow; whereas opposition politician Alexei Navalny was detained and fined USD 350 for organising banned protests and sentenced to 15 days in jail; whereas the protests are reckoned to be the largest since the anti-Kremlin demonstrations in 2011 and 2012;

B.  whereas the verdict of the Leninsky Court in Kirov (8 February 2017) against Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny on charges of embezzlement attempts served to silence yet another independent political voice in the Russian Federation; whereas the European Court of Human Rights has ruled that Navalny was denied the right to a fair trial in his prosecution in 2013 on the same charges;

C.  whereas the Russian Government has opened a criminal investigation against unidentified people who called via the internet for a demonstration in Moscow on 2 April 2017 demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, an end to Russian military operations in Ukraine and Syria, the release of Navalny and payment of compensation to activists detained during a Moscow protest on 26 March 2017; whereas on 2 April 2017 at least 31 people were arrested during opposition protests in Moscow and thereafter detained for ‘breaches of public order’;

D.  whereas the Russian Federation, as a full member of the Council of Europe, a signatory to the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment has committed itself to the principles of democracy, the rule of law and respect for fundamental freedoms and human rights; whereas the European Union has repeatedly offered additional assistance and expertise to help Russia to modernise and abide by its constitutional and legal order, in line with Council of Europe standards;

E.  whereas there are concerns about developments in the Russian Federation with regard to respect for, and the protection of, human rights and respect for commonly agreed democratic principles and the rule of law; whereas the Russian Federation has ratified 11 out of the 18 international human rights treaties;

F.  whereas the criminal law of the Russian Federation has been amended and the new Article 212.1 has been introduced, according to which a person can be charged with violation of the law on public assemblies, notwithstanding the fact that this amendment restricts the freedom of speech and assembly;

G.  whereas, according to the Memorial Human Rights Centre, the number of political prisoners in the country has significantly increased in recent years, totalling 102 persons in 2016;

1.  Condemns the police operations in the Russian Federation attempting to prevent and disperse peaceful anti-corruption demonstrations, and detaining hundreds of citizens, including Alexei Navalny, whose organisation initiated the demonstrations;

2.  Calls on the Russian authorities for the immediate release of, and the dropping of charges against, Alexei Navalny and all the peaceful protestors, journalists and activists detained in the anti-corruption rallies held in Moscow and a number of Russian cities on 26 March and 2 April 2017; underlines the fact that Russian authorities bear full responsibility for the safety and wellbeing of those detained;

3.  Underlines the fact that the sentences imposed are politically motivated, and urges the Russian judiciary to demonstrate its independence from political interference; calls on the Russian authorities to put an end to the harassment of journalists, political opponents and political and civil society activists, to fully respect international human rights obligations and to guarantee media freedom and freedom of assembly;

4.  Notes the high turn-out in the widespread anti-corruption protests throughout the Russian Federation on Sunday, 26 March 2017, in particular the strong mobilisation of young people rallying against corruption and the increasingly authoritarian rule inside Russia; welcomes this engagement as a hopeful sign of increased interest in public and political matters;

5.  Expresses strong concern that the detaining of Alexei Navalny demonstrates a case of the Russian authorities using the law on public assemblies to fast-track peaceful protesters to prison and commit subsequent systemic abuse;

6.  Condemns the constant efforts to silence Alexei Navalny, and expresses support for his organisation’s efforts to raise awareness of, and combat, corruption in public institutions and among political representatives and public office holders; regards with deep concern the Court decision of February 2017, which effectively excludes Alexei Navalny from the political arena, further constrains political pluralism in Russia and raises serious questions as to the fairness of democratic processes in Russia;

7.  Recalls that the freedom of peaceful assembly is a right, not a privilege, and that this right, together with the rights to freedom of opinion and expression, and freedom of association, plays a decisive role in the emergence and existence of an effective democratic system; calls on the Russian authorities to abide fully by the international commitments it has made, including in the Council of Europe and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), to uphold the basic freedoms of expression, association and peaceful assembly, which are fundamental rights enshrined in its Constitution, and to release without delay the peaceful demonstrators who have been detained;

8.  Calls on the Russian authorities to put an end to any act of harassment, including at the judicial level, against political opponents, journalists and human rights defenders in the Russian Federation, and to ensure, in all circumstances, that they are able to carry out their legitimate activities without any interference;

9.  Takes the view that several trials and judicial proceedings against opposition members and NGOs over the past years raise doubts about the independence and impartiality of the judicial institutions of the Russian Federation; urges Russian judicial and law enforcement authorities to carry out their duties in an impartial and independent manner, free of political interference;

10.  Stresses that freedom of assembly in the Russian Federation is granted under Article 31 of the Russian Constitution and under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), to which Russia is a party, thereby obliging the Russian authorities to respect it; calls on the Russian Federation to respect the principles of the rule of law, freedom of speech and freedom of assembly;

11.  Recalls the importance of Russia’s full compliance with its international legal obligations, as a member of the Council of Europe and the OSCE, and with the fundamental human rights and the rule of law enshrined in the ECHR and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR);

12.  Calls on the Russian Federation to amend legislation unduly restricting and criminalising the freedom of assembly; condemns the fact that the Russian Federation has also empowered its Constitutional Court, by means of new legislation of December 2015, to overturn the judgments of the European Court of Human Rights;

13.  Notes the corruption allegations against leading Russian politicians; calls on the Commission, the European External Action Service (EEAS) and the Member States to take systematic action against any attempted money laundering or illegal assets inside the EU; equally instructs the Parliament’s Panama Papers Inquiry Committee to pay additional attention to any traces of suspect Russian money flows via EU-based banks;

14.  Urges the Council and the Member States to develop a unified policy towards Russia that commits the Member States and the EU institutions to a strong common message on the role of human rights in the EU-Russia relationship and the need to end the crackdown on freedom of expression, assembly and association in Russia;

15.  Calls on the VP/HR and the EEAS to ensure that the cases of all persons prosecuted for political reasons are raised in EU-Russia human rights consultations when resumed, and that Russia’s representatives in these consultations are formally requested to respond in each case; calls on the Presidents of the Council and the Commission, as well as the VP/HR, to continue to follow such cases closely, to raise these issues in different formats and meetings with Russia, and to report back to Parliament on exchanges with the Russian authorities;

16.  Condemns the terrorist attack in Saint Petersburg and asks its President to express its deep sympathy and solidarity with the victims, their families and the Russian people.

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

(1) OJ C 68 E, 7.3.2014, p. 13.
(2) OJ C 65, 19.2.2016, p. 150.
(3) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2014)0253.
(4) OJ C 274, 27.7.2016, p. 21.
(5) OJ C 300, 18.8.2016, p. 2.
(6) OJ C 316, 30.8.2016, p. 126.
(7) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0446.
(8) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0087.


Belarus
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European Parliament resolution of 6 April 2017 on the situation in Belarus (2017/2647(RSP))
P8_TA(2017)0126RC-B8-0253/2017

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its previous resolutions and recommendations on Belarus, including on the European Neighbourhood Policy,

–  having regard to the statements by the Chair of its Delegation for relations with Belarus of 27 March 2017, the European External Action Service (EEAS) spokesperson of 17 March 2017, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Belarus of 14 and 28 March 2017, the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly (PA) of 24 March 2017, the Director of the OSCE/ODIHR of 17 and 26 March 2017, the OSCE PA Human Rights Committee of 27 March 2017, and the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (FIDH-OMCT) of 29 March 2017 on recent arrests of peaceful protesters and unlawful detentions in Belarus,

–  having regard to the Council conclusions on Belarus, in particular those of 15 February 2016 lifting the restrictive measures against 170 individuals and three Belarusian companies,

–  having regard to Council Decision (CFSP) 2017/350 of 27 February 2017(1) prolonging the restrictive measures against Belarus until 28 February 2018, which include an arms embargo and an asset freeze and a travel ban against four people listed in connection with the unresolved disappearances of two opposition politicians, one businessman and one journalist in 1999 and 2000,

–  having regard to the parliamentary elections held on 11 September 2016 and to the presidential election held on 11 October 2015; having regard to the numerous declarations by the Belarusian authorities that some of the OSCE/ODIHR recommendations following the 2015 presidential election would be implemented ahead of the 2016 parliamentary elections and having regard to the OSCE/ODIHR final report of 28 January 2016 on the presidential election in Belarus of 11 October 2015,

–  having regard to the report by FIDH and the Human Rights Centre ‘Viasna’ on Forced Labour and Pervasive Violations of Workers’ Rights in Belarus,

–  having regard to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, the UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the European Convention on Human Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights,

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

A.  whereas the Government of Belarus introduced Presidential Decree No 3 ‘On the Prevention of Social Dependency’, the so-called ‘social parasite tax’, which was signed by President Alexander Lukashenko in 2015 and began to be implemented as of February 2017 – this decree sanctions unemployment by imposing a special duty to finance government expenditures, ranging from a fee of approximately EUR 240, which is about two thirds of the average monthly wage in Belarus, to forced labour for citizens who have been working for fewer than 183 days a year; whereas the decree was received with widespread criticism from citizens, activists and journalists;

B.  whereas since 17 February and over the course of March 2017, despite the pressure from the state media and security forces, including the presence of armed officers to disperse demonstrations, mass peaceful protests of thousands of citizens have been taking place in dozens of cities across Belarus as a reaction against the adoption of Presidential Decree No 3, and against the construction of a business centre near Kurapaty, a memorial site for the victims of Stalin;

C.  whereas the authorities have responded violently to these demonstrations, in particular on 25 and 26 March 2017; whereas peaceful demonstrators tried to march along Minsk’s main avenue on the Freedom Day of 25 March, but were blocked by a cordon of riot police; whereas the security forces have attacked the protesters, beating women, minors and the elderly; whereas hundreds of protesters have been arrested, including domestic and foreign journalists reporting on the events; whereas at least 700 people have been detained in Minsk, some of whom were unintentional spectators;

D.  whereas a large group of human rights defenders have been detained while observing peaceful demonstrations; whereas according to the Human Rights Centre ‘Viasna’, as of the end of the day on 27 March 2017, a total of 177 people had been handed court rulings on administrative charges over their participation in the 25 March protests, of which 74 resulted in administrative detention and 93 in fines; whereas more than 100 opposition members were arrested as a preventive measure before the protests;

E.  whereas 27 people, including Zmitser Dashkevich, a former political prisoner and a leader of the ‘Young Front’ movement, have been arrested under allegations of plotting a riot by groups trained in Ukraine, Poland and Lithuania; whereas they face an offence punishable by imprisonment for up to three years; whereas the Committee for State Security (KGB) is refusing to disclose the number of people arrested in connection with the so-called ‘mass riot case’;

F.  whereas Mikalay Statkevich, a prominent opposition figure and former presidential candidate, who was expected to lead the demonstration in Minsk, was arrested and kept in a KGB detention centre for three days, with no information as to his whereabouts; whereas Sergei Kulinich and Sergei Kuntsevich were also arrested; whereas Uladzimir Nyaklyayev, a well-known Belarusian poet and presidential candidate in 2010, was also illegally detained prior to the rally of 25 March 2017 and, as a consequence, had to be hospitalised due to weakened health conditions; whereas Pavel Seviarynets, Vitali Rymashevski, Anatol Liabedzka and Yuri Hubarevich, along with a number of civic activists, were arrested over the course of March 2017; whereas on 23 March Ales Lahvinets, deputy chairman of the Movement for Freedom, was arrested in Minsk; whereas around 60 human rights observers were preventatively detained;

G.  whereas on 25 March 2017 the police raided the office of the Human Rights Centre ‘Viasna’ in the Belarusian capital, preventatively arresting at least 57 persons involved in the monitoring of ongoing peaceful protests; whereas prior to this, other human rights defenders, such as Oleg Volchek, a head of the Human Rights Centre ‘Legal Assistance to the Population’, and Anatoli Poplavni, a member of the Gomel branch of the Human Rights Centre ‘Viasna’, were detained and sentenced to short terms of imprisonment; whereas Leonid Sudalenka, a member of ‘Viasna’, was also detained and convicted for having submitted over 200 citizens’ complaints against the provisions of the above-mentioned Presidential Decree No 3;

H.  whereas according to the Belarusian Association of Journalists (BAJ) 120 incidents of violations of journalists’ rights have been registered; whereas the internet was shut down across the country and journalists have been sanctioned for covering the events or sentenced to prison on charges of hooliganism or for disobeying police orders; whereas some of them are still awaiting trial; whereas over 20 cases of harassment of Belsat TV reporters have been recorded since 12 March 2017, and whereas on 31 March 2017 the offices of Belsat TV were raided and searched by the police, and some equipment seized and removed;

I.  whereas these events are the most serious that have occurred since the harsh crackdown on demonstrations in 2010 and can be seen as a regretful setback; whereas this new wave of repression is taking place exactly one year after the EU’s decision to enter into a so-called re-engagement policy for relations with Belarus;

J.  whereas Belarus is an OSCE participating state and has agreed to respect the rights of peaceful assembly and association; whereas the above-mentioned mass arrests, excessive use of force against protesters and the reported raids of civil society organisations are clear violations of these commitments;

K.  whereas Belarus is the only country in Europe still to carry out capital punishment; whereas the first death penalty sentence in 2017 was handed down on 17 March 2017;

L.  whereas the EU lifted most of the restrictive measures in regard to Belarusian officials and legal entities in February 2016 as a gesture of goodwill to encourage Belarus to improve its human rights, democracy and rule of law record; whereas the Council in its conclusions on Belarus of 15 February 2016 stressed the need to enhance EU-Belarus cooperation in a number of economic, trade and assistance-related fields, which would open up the possibility for Belarus to apply for EIB and EBRD financing;

M.  whereas the difficult economic situation in Belarus faces further prospects of deterioration, with major sectors still remaining under state ownership and under an administrative command and control system; whereas Belarus’s dependence on Russia’s economic aid is continuously increasing;

N.  whereas one of the objectives of Belarus’s participation in the Eastern Partnership and its parliamentary branch, Euronest, is to intensify cooperation between the country and the EU; whereas the Belarusian Parliament has no official status in the Euronest Parliamentary Assembly;

O.  whereas Belarus is part of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) and takes part in the ‘Zapad 2017’ joint military manoeuvres with Russia, which cover scenarios involving attacks on its western neighbours that include simulating the use of nuclear weapons and which have a potential negative impact on the security and national sovereignty of the Republic of Belarus and the region;

P.  whereas the EU is committed to a stable, democratic and prosperous future for Belarus, for the benefit of its people; whereas a significant improvement in freedom of speech and freedom of the media, respect for the political rights of ordinary citizens and opposition activists alike and respect for the rule of law and fundamental rights are all prerequisites for better relations between the EU and Belarus;

1.  Condemns the crackdown on peaceful protesters and the repressions in the run-up to and during the demonstrations of 25 March 2017; stresses that despite the international community’s calls for restraint, the response by the security services was indiscriminate and inappropriate; expresses its concern over the latest developments in Belarus and highlights a clear need for a broader democratisation process in the country;

2.  Condemns the undue restrictions on the right of peaceful assembly, freedom of expression and freedom of association, including on those expressing opinions about social and other public issues, and, most particularly, the harassment and detention of independent journalists, opposition members, human rights activists and other protesters;

3.  Calls on the Belarusian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release and drop all judicial charges against all peaceful protesters, journalists, human rights defenders, civil society activists and opposition members who have been detained in connection with the current wave of demonstrations; considers the practice of preventive arrests totally unacceptable; urges the authorities to immediately disclose information about all those arrested to their families and the wider public;

4.  Reiterates that the use of force against anyone exercising her/his right to peaceful protest cannot be justified under any circumstances, and that repressions which violate the right to freedom of speech and assembly are contrary to Belarus’s international obligations and to the Constitution of the Republic of Belarus; urges the Government of Belarus to get involved in an open dialogue with its citizens, independent civil society organisations and independent media;

5.  Urges the Belarusian authorities to immediately carry out thorough and impartial investigations into all allegations of arbitrary detention and other violations of the rights of protesters in connection with the recent demonstrations; warns that in the event of failure to carry out such investigations, the EU may apply new restrictive measures vis-à-vis those highest Belarusian officials responsible for the recent crackdowns;

6.  Urges the authorities to end the harassment of independent media for political reasons and to put a stop to the practice of administrative prosecution and the arbitrary use of Article 22.9(2) of the Administrative Code against freelance journalists for working with foreign media without accreditation, which restricts the right to freedom of expression and the dissemination of information;

7.  Urges the Belarusian authorities to stop the harassment of its civil society, to allow full and free legal functioning of public organisations, to repeal without delay Article 193/1 of the Criminal Code, which penalises the organisation of, and participation in, the activities of non-registered public associations and organisations, and to allow the full, free and unhampered legal functioning of public associations and organisations, including those of national minorities and their independent organisations;

8.  Urges the OSCE PA, which plans to hold its 26th Annual Session in Minsk in July 2017, to take into account recent events in Belarus and as a minimum to ensure involvement of political democratic opposition parties, independent media and civil society organisations;

9.  Calls on the Belarusian Government to engage in a constructive dialogue with the opposition and civil society organisations, as well as to cooperate fully with the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Belarus, carrying out long-overdue reforms to protect human rights and strengthen democracy; calls on the EEAS and on the Commission to continue and strengthen support for civil society organisations in Belarus and abroad; stresses, in this context, the need to support all independent sources of information for Belarusian society, including media broadcasting in the Belarusian language and from abroad; calls, furthermore, on the EU Special Representative for Human Rights to examine ways and means to promote the full and effective protection of human rights in Belarus;

10.  Recommends the repeal of Presidential Decree No 3 as an arbitrary, harsh and morally questionable measure, violating international human rights, which is estimated to affect more than 470 000 Belarusians;

11.  Calls for the renewal of the mandate of the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Belarus; calls on the Belarusian Government to recognise the mandate and cooperate fully with the Special Rapporteur; calls on the EEAS to better coordinate the EU’s policy towards Belarus with the UN Special Rapporteur; calls on the EU and its Member States to promote and support the extension of the UN Special Rapporteur’s mandate in order to continue to monitor the situation in the country;

12.  Calls on the Belarusian authorities to resume without delay the work on a comprehensive electoral reform as part of the broader democratisation process and in cooperation with international partners; stresses the need to introduce the relevant OSCE/ODIHR recommendations well in advance of the local elections due to be held in March 2018;

13.  Urges the government to join a global moratorium on the use of the death penalty as a first step towards its permanent abolition;

14.  Calls on the Commission to further support educational programmes allowing young Belarusians to study in the EU by speeding up the visa and scholarship applications process;

15.  Welcomes the Council decision of 27 February 2017 to prolong the restrictive measures on four individuals and the arms embargo against Belarus until 28 February 2018; calls on the EEAS to continue closely following and monitoring the situation in the country with a view to assessing the effectiveness of the EU policy of constructive re-engagement; believes that clear benchmarks should be set by the EU, which should apply consistent human rights conditionalities in order to ensure reforms that protect fundamental freedoms and human rights;

16.  Calls on the Commission to assess whether the highest nuclear safety standards are guaranteed for the Ostrovets nuclear power plant currently under construction and whether an EU guarantee to the EIB would not eventually be used for the financing of this nuclear site in Belarus, and to assess whether such a guarantee would be in compliance with the EU sanctions imposed on the Russian Federation;

17.  Reiterates its commitment to work for the benefit of the people of Belarus, to support their pro-democratic aspirations and initiatives, and to contribute to a stable, democratic and prosperous future of Belarus; reiterates that respect for fundamental civil liberties, the rule of law and human rights will be crucial for shaping further relations between the EU and Belarus;

18.  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 (VP/HR), the European External Action Service, the Member States, the OSCE/ODIHR, the Council of Europe, the Belarusian authorities and the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly.

(1) OJ L 50, 28.2.2017, p. 81.


Bangladesh, including child marriages
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European Parliament resolution of 6 April 2017 on Bangladesh, including child marriages (2017/2648(RSP))
P8_TA(2017)0127RC-B8-0252/2017

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its previous resolutions on Bangladesh, in particular that of 18 September 2014 on human rights violations in Bangladesh(1),

–  having regard to its resolution of 16 March 2017 on EU priorities for the UN Human Rights Council sessions in 2017(2),

–  having regard to the concluding observations of the UN Human Rights Committee of 22 March 2017 on Bangladesh,

–  having regard to the resolution of the UN Human Rights Council of 2 July 2015 on strengthening efforts to prevent and eliminate child, early and forced marriage,

–  having regard to the EU Guidelines for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of the Child, adopted by the Council on 6 March 2017,

–  having regard to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child,

–  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 the 1995 Beijing Declaration and the Beijing Platform for Action (BPFA) arising from the Fourth World Conference on Women and signed by Bangladesh, and to the periodic reviews of the progress of its implementation in Bangladesh conducted in 2000, 2005, 2009 and 2014,

–  having regard to Article 16 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women,

–  having regard to the Cooperation Agreement between the European Community and Bangladesh on Partnership and Development of 2001,

–  having regard to Bangladesh’s Child Marriage Restraint Act of 11 March 2017 and Child Marriage Prevention Act of 15 September 2014,

–  having regard to the Bangladesh National Action Plan to Eliminate Child Marriage 2015-2021,

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

A.  whereas the EU has long-standing relations with Bangladesh, including through the Cooperation Agreement on Partnership and Development; whereas respect for and promotion of human rights and democratic principles underpin the domestic and international policies of the parties and must be an essential part of EU external action;

B.  whereas in recent months NGOs and independent media have reported a series of human rights violations, including enforced disappearances, a clampdown on civil society, attacks on political activists and torture;

C.  whereas, according to recent UN data, Bangladesh continues to have one of the world’s highest rates of child marriage, and the highest rate in Asia; whereas 52 % of girls in Bangladesh are married by the time they reach the age of 18 and 18 % by the time they reach 15;

D.  whereas the UN recognises child marriage as a violation of human rights in which children lack the choice or capacity to give their full consent and are often subject to psychological and physical risks;

E.  whereas Bangladesh is one of the 12 target countries of the UNFPA-UNICEF Global Programme to Accelerate Action to End Child Marriage, which is supported by the EU;

F.  whereas Bangladesh is a member of the South Asian Initiative to End Violence Against Children, which has adopted a regional action plan to end child marriage;

G.  whereas the Government of Bangladesh pledged at the Girl Summit of July 2014 to reduce by one third the number of girls marrying between the ages of 15 and 18 by 2021, to eliminate marriages involving children under 15 by 2021, and to end marriages of children under the age of 18 by 2041;

H.  whereas in 2015 Bangladesh was ranked 119th out of 159 countries surveyed on the Gender Inequality Index within the UN Development Programme;

I.  whereas on 27 February 2017 the Government of Bangladesh passed the Child Marriage Restraint Act, which – while keeping the minimum age of marriage at 18 for women and 21 for men – introduces exceptions in ‘special cases’ or for the ‘best interests’ of the adolescent with the permission of the courts, while failing to define such criteria or lay down a minimum age for such marriages; whereas the consent of the child is not required; whereas the law came into effect after approval by the President on 11 March 2017;

J.  whereas this law could lead to an escalation of dowry abuse, sexual harassment, rapes, and acid attacks and the legitimisation of statutory rape; whereas it could also allow parents to force their daughters to marry their rapists;

K.  whereas the EU guidelines for the promotion and protection of the rights of the child reaffirm the commitment of the EU to the comprehensive protection and promotion of children’s rights in its external human rights policy;

1.  Reaffirms its condemnation of all cases of forced and child marriage and sexual violence against women and girls throughout the world;

2.  Notes the progress which had been made by Bangladesh in efforts to reduce the levels of child marriage;

3.  Welcomes the fact that in the past few years Bangladesh has adopted several legislative and institutional measures with the aim of protecting children; is concerned nevertheless at the insufficient or non-existent implementation of these measures;

4.  Strongly regrets the adoption of the Child Marriage Restraint Act of 2017 and the loopholes contained in that legislation which provide legal authorisation for child marriage; further regrets the absence of legal criteria in the Act, which raises the risk of potential widespread abuse;

5.  Calls on the Government of Bangladesh to amend the Act so as to close the loopholes and outlaw all marriages involving children;

6.  Insists that until such time as the loopholes in the Act are removed, the Government of Bangladesh must adopt clear criteria against which the courts, in conjunction with health and social care professionals and including an interview with the girl concerned without the presence of family members, must base any decision to authorise an underage marriage;

7.  Notes with concern that the recently adopted Act is a step backwards for Bangladesh in its efforts to eliminate child marriage; recalls that this relaxation of the law undermines the Bangladesh Government’s own targets for the reduction of child marriage;

8.  Recognises the impact child marriage can have, including restricting access to education, isolation, poverty, economic dependence and servitude, particularly for girls in rural areas, and notes with concern the increased risks of rape, physical violence and forced pregnancy in child marriages;

9.  Notes with concern that child marriage is often linked with unwanted and underage pregnancies; recalls in this regard the importance of providing women and girls with access to information on sexual and reproductive health and rights, assistance and safe medical treatment, including safe and legal abortion;

10.  Calls on the Government of Bangladesh to resume development of the National Action Plan to Eliminate Child Marriage 2015-2021, and to explain how it plans to reach its targets and eliminate all child marriage;

11.  Calls on the Bangladesh authorities to effectively commit to the achievement of the recently internationally adopted Sustainable Development Goals, especially in order to reduce inequalities and ensure gender equality and women’s rights;

12.  Considers that child marriage can be effectively tackled through the promotion of human rights and human dignity and public social policies; calls, therefore, on the Bangladesh authorities to systematically involve communities and civil society, including NGOs and children’s organisations, to tackle the root causes of child marriage in Bangladesh, and to raise awareness in schools;

13.  Calls in this regard on the Bangladesh authorities to amend the Foreign Donations (Voluntary Activities) Regulation Act of 2014 in order to ensure that the work of civil society organisations is not subject to arbitrary control by the government, and that all decisions made under that Act are subject to an independent review process;

14.  Urges the Bangladesh authorities to condemn the continuing horrendous acts against freedom of expression and to act to put an immediate end to all acts of violence, harassment, intimidation and censorship against journalists, bloggers and civil society: further urges the Bangladesh authorities to conduct independent investigations into the extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances and excessive use of force, and to bring those responsible to justice in accordance with international standards;

15.  Calls on the Commission and the EU Delegation in Bangladesh to raise these issues with the Bangladesh authorities, and on the European External Action Service to raise the issue of the Act at the next EU-Bangladesh Joint Commission meeting;

16.  Calls for the EU to use all available instruments to support the Government of Bangladesh in respecting its international human rights obligations;

17.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the European External Action Service, the European Commission, the EU Special Representative for Human Rights, and the Government and Parliament of Bangladesh.

(1) OJ C 234, 28.6.2016, p. 10.
(2) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0089.


Wholesale roaming markets ***I
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Resolution
Text
European Parliament legislative resolution of 6 April 2017 on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Regulation (EU) No 531/2012 as regards rules for wholesale roaming markets (COM(2016)0399 – C8-0219/2016 – 2016/0185(COD))
P8_TA(2017)0128A8-0372/2016

(Ordinary legislative procedure: first reading)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Commission proposal to Parliament and the Council (COM(2016)0399),

–  having regard to Article 294(2) and Article 114 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, pursuant to which the Commission submitted the proposal to Parliament (C8‑0219/2016),

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

–  having regard to the opinion of the European and Social Committee of 19 October 2016(1),

–  after consulting the Committee of the Regions,

–  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 February 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 Rule 59 of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (A8-0372/2016),

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

2.  Calls on the Commission to refer the matter to Parliament again if it 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 6 April 2017 with a view to the adoption of Regulation (EU) 2017/... of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Regulation (EU) No 531/2012 as regards rules for wholesale roaming markets

(As an agreement was reached between Parliament and Council, Parliament's position corresponds to the final legislative act, Regulation (EU) 2017/920.)

(1) OJ C 34, 2.2.2017, p. 162.


Third countries whose nationals are subject to or exempt from a visa requirement: Ukraine ***I
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Resolution
Text
European Parliament legislative resolution of 6 April 2017 on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Regulation (EC) No 539/2001 listing the third countries whose nationals must be in possession of visas when crossing the external borders and those whose nationals are exempt from that requirement (Ukraine) (COM(2016)0236 – C8-0150/2016 – 2016/0125(COD))
P8_TA(2017)0129A8-0274/2016

(Ordinary legislative procedure: first reading)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Commission proposal to Parliament and the Council (COM(2016)0236),

–  having regard to Article 294(2) and Article 77(2)(a) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, pursuant to which the Commission submitted the proposal to Parliament (C8-0150/2016),

–  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 2 March 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 Rule 59 of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs and the opinions of the Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Committee on Legal Affairs (A8-0274/2016),

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

2.  Calls on the Commission to refer the matter to Parliament again if it 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 6 April 2017 with a view to the adoption of Regulation (EU) 2017/… of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Regulation (EC) No 539/2001 listing the third countries whose nationals must be in possession of visas when crossing the external borders and those whose nationals are exempt from that requirement (Ukraine)

(As an agreement was reached between Parliament and Council, Parliament's position corresponds to the final legislative act, Regulation (EU) 2017/850.)


European Solidarity Corps
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European Parliament resolution of 6 April 2017 on the European Solidarity Corps (2017/2629(RSP))
P8_TA(2017)0130B8-0238/2017

The European Parliament,

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

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 7 December 2016 entitled ‘A European Solidarity Corps’ (COM(2016)0942),

–  having regard to its resolution of 27 October 2016 on European Voluntary Service and the promotion of volunteering in Europe(1),

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

–  having regard to its resolution of 22 April 2008 on the role of volunteering in contributing to economic and social cohesion(3),

–  having regard to its resolution of 17 July 2014 on Youth Employment(4),

–  having regard to its resolution of 16 January 2013 on a Youth Guarantee(5),

–  having regard to the Council Recommendation of 20 December 2012 on the validation of non-formal and informal learning(6),

–  having regard to the Policy Agenda for Volunteering in Europe (PAVE) and the draft European Charter on the Rights and Responsibilities of Volunteers(7),

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 1304/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 December 2013 on the European Social Fund and repealing Council Regulation (EC) No 1081/2006(8),

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 1288/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 December 2013 establishing ‘Erasmus+’: the Union programme for education, training, youth and sport and repealing Decisions No 1719/2006/EC, No 1720/2006/EC and No 1298/2008/EC(9),

–  having regard to the question to the Commission on Volunteering and European Voluntary Service (O-000107/2016 – B8-1803/2016),

–  having regard to the questions to the Commission on the European Solidarity Corps (O-000020/2017 – B8-0210/2017 and O-000022/2017 – B8‑0211/2017),

–  having regard to the motion for a resolution of the Committee on Culture and Education,

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

A.  whereas the foundations of the European Union are based on fundamental ideas, values and principles, which are agreed and subscribed to by the Member States;

B.  whereas the principle of solidarity of the European Union is one of its fundamental principles and is based on sharing both advantages and burdens;

C.  whereas the solidarity principle has been a driving force behind the development of the European Voluntary Service (EVS), which has yielded extraordinary results during its 20-year history that should not be undone;

D.  whereas the EU institutions and the Member States need to take a strong stand to actively support the civic involvement of citizens and recognise that volunteering contributes to strengthening the sense of solidarity, social responsibility, and shared common citizenship values and experiences;

E.  whereas the creation of the European Solidarity Corps (ESC) must be based on shared EU values, as defined in the Treaties and in the Charter of Fundamental Rights; whereas the goal of the ESC should be to build a sense of community, solidarity and social responsibility in Europe while providing a meaningful and empowering volunteering work, trainee or apprenticeship experience;

F.  whereas quality volunteering can create pathways into employment and open up opportunities for social inclusion;

G.  whereas most volunteering initiatives take place outside of EU programmes and need to be supported by a conducive legal and financial environment;

H.  whereas the EVS is the existing reference framework for volunteering activities in the EU, with a 20-year history of proven effectiveness, know-how and learning achievements; whereas any new EU-wide volunteering programmes should both complement and build on the EVS experience and other successful EU volunteering programmes, such as EU Aid Volunteers;

I.  whereas the ESC could represent an opportunity for young people, who are its primary target group (especially those from marginalised communities and poor socio-economic backgrounds), to make a valuable contribution to society and to increase the visibility of EU engagement and revitalise the wider debate on volunteering in Europe and its benefits for society;

J.  whereas civil society and youth organisations play an important role as providers of quality local, national and cross-border volunteering experiences; whereas continuous support, accompanied by a conducive legal and financial environment, is necessary in this regard;

K.  whereas more than 20 000 people have already registered for the ESC since the launch of the Commission’s online platform in December 2016;

L.  whereas the Commission is urged to come up with a clear and detailed legal framework for the ESC, taking into account the following recommendations by the European Parliament;

European solidarity

1.  Believes that a clear definition of solidarity action at EU level is essential; asks the Commission to define the objectives of the ESC and to make its actions measurable and efficient, taking into account the important positive impact of solidarity action on both the individual participants and the community; underlines that definitions deemed necessary to facilitate this should be developed in close cooperation with the Member States and the relevant stakeholder organisations active in volunteering, civic service and youth action, in line with the core EU values defined in the Treaties and the Charter;

2.  Underlines the need to guarantee equal access to the ESC for all EU citizens; encourages stronger promotion of the possibilities available to people with special needs and people from disadvantaged backgrounds to participate in the initiative;

3.  Strongly believes that while the learning component, including that conducted through non-formal and informal education experience, and the impact on the individual volunteer,young worker, trainee or apprentice, are important elements, the ESC’s main goal should be to achieve a positive impact on the beneficiaries of the projects and actions, and the wider community as a clear expression of solidarity and social responsibility;

4.  Believes, moreover, that placements made available through the ESC initiative would help to develop participants’ life skills, responsibilities, sense of ownership and sharing, and would help to overcome differences of language, culture, religion, belief or economic circumstance, as well as misconceptions and prejudices; believes that the ESC initiative would also help to promote an active citizenship experience and help participants to acquire a critical analysis of the reality and societal problems that they encounter; calls on the Commission to mainstream gender equality when implementing the ESC;

5.  Stresses that civil protection and humanitarian aid cannot be dependent on young people via the European Solidarity Corps; calls, in this regard, on the Commission and the Member States to guarantee continued investments in structured civil protection and humanitarian aid;

The funding of the European Solidarity Corps

6.  Is highly concerned at the Commission’s intention to implement the ESC in its first initial phase by incorporating it into existing programmes and initiatives, and in particular educational and cultural programmes such as Erasmus+ and Europe for Citizens, the Youth Guarantee and the Employment and Social Innovation programme without providing sufficient clarity on the exact financial and human resources to be set aside for the ESC; recalls that Parliament, as co-legislator on EU programmes and a budgetary authority, is opposed to reallocating funds from priority programmes, and often lacks sufficient resources to finance core actions and finance new policy initiatives;

7.  Calls on the Commission to include in its future legislative proposal on the ESC a clear description of the budgetary arrangements that will allow for the effective functioning of the ESC; underlines that the funding of the ESC must not have a negative impact on existing programmes aimed at young people and initiatives such as the Europe for Citizens and Erasmus+ programmes, the Employment and Social Innovation programme, and initiatives such as the Youth Guarantee, and will not distort the functioning of existing successful tools such as the EVS;

8.  Calls on the Commission to provide an effective monitoring and evaluation mechanism for the ESC, in order to ensure its correct implementation, the quality of its opportunities and the sustainability of its results;

Integration of the European Solidarity Corps into a broader strategy on volunteering

9.  Suggests that, to make the ESC a success, the Commission should integrate it into a wider policy strategy aimed at creating a conducive environment for volunteering in Europe, while not overlapping with but rather strengthening successful existing initiatives, such as the EVS;

10.  Underlines that the vast majority of volunteering takes place at local level and meets local needs, and the ESC should therefore initially focus on locally based volunteering, rather than on cross-border opportunities, which require international mobility and may exclude persons from disadvantaged backgrounds;

11.  Emphasises that the ESC should not cause any additional administrative burdens for individuals or participating organisations, and should work in as close a conjunction as possible with existing and well-established volunteering opportunities already provided by civil society organisations;

12.  Urges the Commission to seek to ensure a balance between the high number of registrations for the ESC on the online platform and the number of volunteering positions made available, so as not to engender frustration among young people applying for the ESC;

13.  Calls on the Commission to mainstream volunteering across European programmes and funds, such as Structural Funds, the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund, the LIFE programme and the EU external action programmes and funds; underlines, in this respect, the importance of introducing a single focal point for the coordination of EU volunteering policies and programmes;

14.  Suggests that educational institutions should include training in the field of volunteering, with a focus on solidarity action, in their curricula, in order to support the implementation of the ESC;

A clear distinction between volunteering and employment and quality opportunities for young people under the occupational strand

15.  Calls on the Commission, when implementing the ESC, to make a clear distinction between volunteering activities and job placements in order to maintain the fundamental differences between volunteering and work where the primary focus is on either the needs of the beneficiaries or on the training and development needs of the participants, and to avoid any substitution of potential quality paid employment ; stresses, to this end, that volunteering opportunities should not be eligible for funding that is specifically designed to combat youth unemployment, such as the Youth Employment Initiative;

16.  Underlines that the volunteering strand should be underpinned by a clear understanding of the principles of quality volunteering, such as those outlined in the European Charter on the Rights and Responsibilities of Volunteers; emphasises, furthermore, that any volunteering should always be in support of non-profit solidarity actions to meet identified community needs;

17.  Stresses that the occupational strand should focus on providing quality jobs, traineeships and apprenticeships in the solidarity non-profit and social enterprise of the solidarity sector;

18.  Underlines the importance of providing appropriate administrative and financial support to host organisations and bodies from both strands, and ensuring the necessary knowledge and skills to be able to properly host ESC participants;

19.  Asks that the host organisations should subscribe to a quality charter comprising agreed objectives, principles and standards such as those outlined in the European Quality Charter on Internships and Apprenticeships(10); encourages the host organisations to describe in advance the skills and competences that should be acquired during the experience; calls for the comparability, recognition and validation of the skills and competences acquired during the experience, as required by the Council Recommendation of 20 December 2012 on the validation of non-formal and informal learning, so that they contribute to the sustainable inclusion of young people in the labour market; highlights that clear standards will help to monitor the implementation of the ESC;

20.  Underlines the need to provide young volunteers with adequate financial compensation, and young workers with adequate payment as well as health insurance, training and mentorship; stresses that monitoring of their workload and environment should be taken care of in view of the specific tasks they would have to fulfil for their ESC volunteering or work placement;

21.  Repeats its call on Member States to link youth employment policies with quality and sustainable working contracts in order to tackle precariousness and underemployment;

22.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to ensure full access to the European Solidarity Corps for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds or with specific needs; stresses therefore that a specific budget should be allocated to cover costs for personal assistance or extra support for the young person concerned; considers that the EVS could be seen as good practice in this regard;

Inter-service coordination and stakeholder consultation

23.  Calls on the Commission to properly coordinate and mainstream the ESC initiative throughout all its services and with all other European and national institutions, so as to ensure coherent and consistent implementation; suggests that the Commission’s Directorate-General for Education, Youth, Sport and Culture would be responsible for the coordination and mainstreaming of the ESC;

24.  Reminds the Commission of the need to ensure that the right conditions are provided for proper consultation with key stakeholders, such as youth organisations, European social partners, volunteer-based organisations, trade unions and Member States, prior to drafting the legislative proposal; underlines that these stakeholders should be regularly involved in the implementation and, where appropriate, monitoring of the initiative in order to ensure its correct implementation, the quality of its placements and the sustainability of its results;

o
o   o

25.  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(2016)0425.
(2) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0005.
(3) OJ C 259 E, 29.10.2009, p. 9.
(4) OJ C 224, 21.6.2016, p. 19.
(5) OJ C 440, 30.12.2015, p. 67.
(6) OJ C 398, 22.12.2012, p. 1.
(7) http://ec.europa.eu/citizenship/pdf/volunteering_charter_en.pdf
(8) OJ L 347, 20.12.2013, p. 470.
(9) OJ L 347, 20.12.2013, p. 50.
(10) http://www.youthforum.org/assets/2014/04/internship_charter_EN.pdf


Adequacy of the protection afforded by the EU-US privacy Shield
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European Parliament resolution of 6 April 2017 on the adequacy of the protection afforded by the EU-US Privacy Shield (2016/3018(RSP))
P8_TA(2017)0131B8-0235/2017

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Treaty on European Union (TEU), the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) and Articles 6, 7, 8, 11, 16, 47 and 52 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union,

–  having regard to Directive 95/46/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 24 October 1995 on the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data (Data Protection Directive)(1),

–  having regard to Council Framework Decision 2008/977/JHA of 27 November 2008 on the protection of personal data processed in the framework of police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters(2),

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) 2016/679 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 27 April 2016 on the protection of natural persons with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data, and repealing Directive 95/46/EC (General Data Protection Regulation)(3), and to Directive (EU) 2016/680 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 27 April 2016 on the protection of natural persons with regard to the processing of personal data by competent authorities for the purposes of the prevention, investigation, detection or prosecution of criminal offences or the execution of criminal penalties, and on the free movement of such data, and repealing Council Framework Decision 2008/977/JHA(4),

–  having regard to the judgment of the Court of Justice of the European Union of 6 October 2015 in Case C-362/14 Maximillian Schrems v Data Protection Commissioner(5),

–  having regard to the Commission communication to the European Parliament and the Council of 6 November 2015 on the transfer of personal data from the EU to the United States of America under Directive 95/46/EC following the judgment by the Court of Justice in Case C-362/14 (Schrems) (COM(2015)0566),

–  having regard to the Commission communication to the European Parliament and the Council of 10 January 2017 on Exchanging and Protecting Personal Data in a Globalised World (COM(2017)0007),

–  having regard to the judgment of the Court of Justice of the European Union of 21 December 2016 in Cases C-203/15 Tele2 Sverige AB v Post- och telestyrelsen and C-698/15 Secretary of State for the Home Department v Tom Watson and Others(6),

–  having regard to Commission Implementing Decision (EU) 2016/1250 of 12 July 2016 pursuant to Directive 95/46/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council on the adequacy of the protection provided by the EU-US Privacy Shield(7),

–  having regard to Opinion 4/2016 of the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) on the EU-US Privacy Shield draft adequacy decision(8),

–  having regard to the Opinion of the Article 29 Data Protection Working Party of 13 April 2016 on the EU-US Privacy Shield draft adequacy decision(9) and the Article 29 Working Party Statement of 26 July 2016(10),

–  having regard to its resolution of 26 May 2016 on transatlantic data flows(11),

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

A.  whereas the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) in its judgment of 6 October 2015 in Case C-362/14 Maximillian Schrems v Data Protection Commissioner invalidated the Safe Harbour decision and clarified that an adequate level of protection in a third country must be understood to be ‘essentially equivalent’ to that guaranteed within the European Union by virtue of Directive 95/46/EC read in the light of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (hereinafter ‘the EU Charter’), prompting the need to conclude negotiations on a new arrangement so as to ensure legal certainty on how personal data should be transferred from the EU to the US;

B.  whereas, when examining the level of protection afforded by a third country, the Commission is obliged to assess the content of the rules applicable in that country deriving from its domestic law or its international commitments, as well as the practice designed to ensure compliance with those rules, since it must, under Article 25(2) of Directive 95/46/EC, take account of all the circumstances surrounding a transfer of personal data to a third country; whereas this assessment must not only refer to legislation and practices relating to the protection of personal data for commercial and private purposes, but must also cover all aspects of the framework applicable to that country or sector, in particular, but not limited to, law enforcement, national security and respect for fundamental rights;

C.  whereas transfers of personal data between commercial organisations of the EU and the US are an important element for the transatlantic relationships; whereas these transfers should be carried out in full respect of the right to the protection of personal data and the right to privacy; whereas one of the fundamental objectives of the EU is the protection of fundamental rights, as enshrined in the EU Charter;

D.  whereas in its Opinion 4/2016 the EDPS raised several concerns on the draft Privacy Shield; whereas the EDPS welcomes in the same opinion the efforts made by all parties to find a solution for transfers of personal data from the EU to the US for commercial purposes under a system of self-certification;

E.  whereas in its Opinion 01/2016 on the EU-US Privacy Shield draft adequacy decision the Article 29 Working Party welcomed the significant improvements brought about by the Privacy Shield compared with the Safe Harbour decision whilst also raising strong concerns about both the commercial aspects and access by public authorities to data transferred under the Privacy Shield;

F.  whereas on 12 July 2016, after further discussions with the US administration, the Commission adopted its Implementing Decision (EU) 2016/1250, declaring the adequate level of protection for personal data transferred from the Union to organisations in the United States under the EU-US Privacy Shield;

G.  whereas the EU-US Privacy Shield is accompanied by several letters and unilateral statements from the US administration explaining, inter alia, the data protection principles, the functioning of oversight, enforcement and redress and the protections and safeguards under which security agencies can access and process personal data;

H.  whereas in its statement of 26 July 2016, the Article 29 Working Party welcomes the improvements brought by the EU-US Privacy Shield mechanism compared with Safe Harbour and commended the Commission and the US authorities for having taken into consideration its concerns; whereas the Article 29 Working Party indicates, nevertheless, that a number of its concerns remain, regarding both the commercial aspects and the access by US public authorities to data transferred from the EU, such as the lack of specific rules on automated decisions and of a general right to object, the need for stricter guarantees on the independence and powers of the Ombudsperson mechanism, and the lack of concrete assurances of not conducting mass and indiscriminate collection of personal data (bulk collection);

1.  Welcomes the efforts made by both the Commission and the US administration to address the concerns raised by the CJEU, the Member States, the European Parliament, data protection authorities (DPAs) and stakeholders, so as to enable the Commission to adopt the implementing decision declaring the adequacy of the EU-US Privacy Shield;

2.  Acknowledges that the EU-US Privacy Shield contains significant improvements regarding the clarity of standards compared with the former EU-US Safe Harbour and that US organisations self-certifying adherence to the EU-US Privacy Shield will have to comply with clearer data protection standards than under Safe Harbour;

3.  Takes note that as at 23 March 2017, 1 893 US organisations have joined the EU-US Privacy Shield; regrets that the Privacy Shield is based on voluntary self-certification and therefore applies only to US organisations which have voluntarily signed up to it, which means that many companies are not covered by the scheme;

4.  Acknowledges that the EU-US Privacy Shield facilitates data transfers from SMEs and businesses in the Union to the US;

5.  Notes that, in line with the ruling of the CJEU in the Schrems case, the powers of the European DPAs remain unaffected by the adequacy decision and they can, therefore, exercise them, including the suspension or the ban of data transfers to an organisation registered with the EU-US Privacy Shield; welcomes in this regard the prominent role given by the Privacy Shield Framework to Member State DPAs to examine and investigate claims related to the protection of the rights to privacy and family life under the EU Charter and to suspend transfers of data, as well as the obligation placed upon the US Department of Commerce to resolve such complaints;

6.  Notes that under the Privacy Shield Framework, EU data subjects have several means available to them to pursue legal remedies in the US: first, complaints can be lodged either directly with the company or through the Department of Commerce following a referral by a DPA, or with an independent dispute resolution body, secondly, with regard to interferences with fundamental rights for the purpose of national security, a civil claim can be brought before the US court and similar complaints can also be addressed by the newly created independent Ombudsperson, and finally, complaints about interferences with fundamental rights for the purposes of law enforcement and the public interest can be dealt with by motions challenging subpoenas; encourages further guidance from the Commission and DPAs to make those legal remedies all the more easily accessible and available;

7.  Acknowledges the clear commitment of the US Department of Commerce to closely monitor the compliance of US organisations with the EU-US Privacy Shield Principles and their intention to take enforcement actions against entities failing to comply;

8.  Reiterates its call on the Commission to seek clarification on the legal status of the ‘written assurances’ provided by the US and to ensure that any commitment or arrangement foreseen under the Privacy Shield is maintained following the taking up of office of a new administration in the United States;

9.  Considers that, despite the commitments and assurances made by the US Government by means of the letters attached to the Privacy Shield arrangement, important remain as regards certain commercial aspects, national security and law enforcement;

10.  Specifically notes the significant difference between the protection provided by Article 7 of Directive 95/46/EC and the ‘notice and choice’ principle of the Privacy Shield arrangement, as well as the considerable differences between Article 6 of Directive 95/46/EC and the ‘data integrity and purpose limitation’ principle of the Privacy Shield arrangement; points out that instead of the need for a legal basis (such as consent or contract) that applies to all processing operations, the data subject rights under the Privacy Shield Principles only apply to two narrow processing operations (disclosure and change of purpose) and only provide for a right to object (‘opt-out’);

11.  Takes the view that these numerous concerns could lead to a fresh challenge to the decision on the adequacy of the protection being brought before the courts in the future; emphasises the harmful consequences as regards both respect for fundamental rights and the necessary legal certainty for stakeholders;

12.  Notes, amongst other things, the lack of specific rules on automated decision-making and on a general right to object, and the lack of clear principles on how the Privacy Shield Principles apply to processors (agents);

13.  Notes that, while individuals have the possibility to object vis-à-vis the EU controller to any transfer of their personal data to the US, and to the further processing of those data in the US where the Privacy Shield company acts as a processor on behalf of the EU controller, the Privacy Shield lacks specific rules on a general right to object vis-à-vis the US self-certified company;

14.  Notes that only a fraction of the US organisations that have joined the Privacy Shield have chosen to use an EU DPA for the dispute resolution mechanism; is concerned that this constitutes a disadvantage for EU citizens when trying to enforce their rights;

15.  Notes the lack of explicit principles on how the Privacy Shield Principles apply to processors (agents), while recognising that all principles apply to the processing of personal data by any US self-certified company ‘[u]nless otherwise stated’ and that the transfer for processing purposes always requires a contract with the EU controller which will determine the purposes and means of processing, including whether the processor is authorised to carry out onward transfers (e.g. for sub-processing);

16.  Stresses that, as regards national security and surveillance, notwithstanding the clarifications brought by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) in the letters attached to the Privacy Shield framework, ‘bulk surveillance’, despite the different terminology used by the US authorities, remains possible; regrets the lack of a uniform definition of the concept of bulk surveillance and the adoption of the American terminology, and therefore calls for a uniform definition of bulk surveillance linked to the European understanding of the term, where evaluation is not made dependent on selection; stresses that any kind of mass surveillance is in breach of the EU Charter;

17.  Recalls that Annex VI (letter from Robert S. Litt, ODNI) clarifies that under Presidential Policy Directive 28 (hereinafter ‘PPD-28’), bulk collection of personal data and communications of non-US persons is still permitted in six cases; points out that such bulk collection only has to be ‘as tailored as feasible’ and ‘reasonable’, which does not meet the stricter criteria of necessity and proportionality as laid down in the EU Charter;

18.  Notes with great concern that the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB) referred to in Annex VI (letter from Robert S. Litt, ODNI) as an independent body established by statute, charged with analysing and reviewing counter-terrorism programmes and policies, including the use of signals intelligence, to ensure that they adequately protect privacy and civil liberties, lost its quorum on 7 January 2017 and will be in a sub-quorum status until new Board Members are nominated by the US President and confirmed by the US Senate; highlights that in a sub-quorum status the PCLOB is more limited in its authority and cannot undertake certain actions that require approval of the Board such as initiating oversight projects or making oversight recommendations, thus seriously undermining the compliance and oversight guarantees and assurances made by US authorities in this field;

19.  Deplores the fact that the EU-US Privacy Shield does not prohibit the collection of bulk data for law enforcement purposes;

20.  Stresses that in its judgment of 21 December 2016, the CJEU clarified that the EU Charter ‘must be interpreted as precluding national legislation which, for the purpose of fighting crime, provides for the general and indiscriminate retention of all traffic and location data of all subscribers and registered users relating to all means of electronic communication’; points out that the bulk surveillance in the US therefore does not provide for an essentially equivalent level of the protection of personal data and communications;

21.  Is alarmed by the recent revelations about surveillance activities conducted by a US electronic communications service provider on all emails reaching its servers, upon request of the National Security Agency (NSA) and the FBI, as late as 2015, i.e. one year after Presidential Policy Directive 28 was adopted and during the negotiation of the EU-US Privacy Shield; insists that the Commission seek full clarification from the US authorities and make the answers provided available to the Council, Parliament and national DPAs; sees this as a reason to strongly doubt the assurances brought by the ODNI; is aware that the EU-US Privacy Shield rests on PPD-28, which was issued by the President and can also be repealed by any future President without Congress’s consent;

22.  Notes with concern that, on 23 and 28 March 2017 respectively, both the US Senate and the House of Representatives voted in favour of rejecting the rule submitted by the Federal Communications Commission relating to ‘Protecting the Privacy of Customers of Broadband and Other Telecommunications Services’, which in practice eliminates broadband privacy rules that would have required Internet Service Providers to get consumers’ explicit consent before selling or sharing web browsing data and other private information with advertisers and other companies; considers that this is yet another threat to privacy safeguards in the United States;

23.  Expresses great concerns at the issuance of the ‘Procedures for the Availability or Dissemination of Raw Signals Intelligence Information by the National Security Agency under Section 2.3 of Executive Order 12333’, approved by the Attorney General on 3 January 2017, allowing the NSA to share vast amounts of private data gathered without warrants, court orders or congressional authorisation with 16 other agencies, including the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Agency and the Department of Homeland Security; calls on the Commission to immediately assess the compatibility of these new rules with the commitments made by the US authorities under the Privacy Shield, as well as their impact on the level of personal data protection in the United States;

24.  Recalls that while individuals, including EU data subjects, have a number of avenues of redress when they have been the subject of unlawful (electronic) surveillance for national security purposes in the US, it is equally clear that at least some legal bases that US intelligence authorities may use (e.g. Executive Order 12333) are not covered; highlights moreover that, even where judicial redress possibilities in principle do exist for non-US persons, such as for surveillance under FISA, the available causes of action are limited and claims brought by individuals (including US persons) will be declared inadmissible where they cannot show ‘standing’, which restricts access to ordinary courts;

25.  Calls on the Commission to assess the impact of the Executive Order on ‘Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States’ of 25 January 2017, and in particular its Section 14 on the exclusion of foreign citizens from the protections of the Privacy Act regarding personally identifiable information, contradicting the written assurances that judicial redress mechanisms exist for individuals in cases where data was accessed by the US authorities; asks the Commission to communicate a detailed legal analysis of the consequence of the Executive Order measures on avenues for remedies and the right to judicial redress for Europeans in the US;

26.  Deplores the fact that neither the Privacy Shield Principles nor the letters of the US administration providing clarifications and assurances demonstrate the existence of effective judicial redress rights for individuals in the EU whose personal data are transferred to a US organisation under the Privacy Shield Principles and further accessed and processed by US public authorities for law enforcement and public interest purposes, which were emphasised by the CJEU in its judgment of 6 October 2015 as the essence of the fundamental right in Article 47 of the EU Charter;

27.  Recalls its resolution of 26 May 2016 stating that the Ombudsperson mechanism set up by the US Department of State is not sufficiently independent and is not vested with sufficient effective powers to carry out its duties and provide effective redress to EU individuals; points out that to date the incoming US administration has not appointed a new Ombudsperson following the end of term of the Under Secretary for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment appointed to this role in July 2016; considers that in the absence of an appointed independent and sufficiently empowered Ombudsperson, the US assurances with regard to the provision of effective redress to EU individuals would be null and void; is generally concerned that an individual affected by a breach of the rules can apply only for information and for the data to be deleted and/or for a stop to further processing, but has no right to compensation;

28.  Notes with concern that, as of 30 March 2017, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which enforces the Privacy Shield, has three of its five seats vacant;

29.  Regrets that the procedure of adoption of an adequacy decision does not provide for a formal consultation of relevant stakeholders such as companies, and in particular SMEs’ representation organisations;

30.  Regrets that the Commission followed the procedure for adoption of the Commission implementing decision in a practical manner that de facto has not enabled Parliament to exercise its right of scrutiny on the draft implementing act in an effective manner;

31.  Calls on the Commission to take all the necessary measures to ensure that the Privacy Shield will fully comply with Regulation (EU) 2016/679, to be applied as from 16 May 2018, and with the EU Charter;

32.  Calls on the Commission to ensure, in particular, that personal data that has been transferred to the US under the Privacy Shield can only be transferred to another third country if that transfer is compatible with the purpose for which the data was originally collected, and if the same rules of specific and targeted access for law enforcement apply in the third country;

33.  Calls on the Commission to monitor whether personal data which is no longer necessary for the purpose for which it had been originally collected is deleted, including by law enforcement agencies;

34.  Calls on the Commission to closely monitor whether the Privacy Shield allows for the DPAs to fully exercise all their powers, and if not, to identify the provisions that result in a hindrance to the DPAs’ exercise of powers;

35.  Calls on the Commission to conduct, during the first joint annual review, a thorough and in-depth examination of all the shortcomings and weaknesses referred to in this resolution and in its resolution of 26 May 2016 on transatlantic data flows, and those identified by the Article 29 Working Party, the EDPS and the stakeholders, and to demonstrate how they have been addressed so as to ensure compliance with the EU Charter and Union law, and to evaluate meticulously whether the mechanisms and safeguards indicated in the assurances and clarifications by the US administration are effective and feasible;

36.  Calls on the Commission to ensure that when conducting the joint annual review, all the members of the team have full and unrestricted access to all documents and premises necessary for the performance of their tasks, including elements allowing a proper evaluation of the necessity and proportionality of the collection and access to data transferred by public authorities, for either law enforcement or national security purposes;

37.  Stresses that all members of the joint review team must be ensured independence in the performance of their tasks and must be entitled to express their own dissenting opinions in the final report of the joint review, which will be public and annexed to the joint report;

38.  Calls on the Union DPAs to monitor the functioning of the EU-US Privacy Shield and to exercise their powers, including the suspension or definitive ban of personal data transfers to an organisation in the EU-US Privacy Shield if they consider that the fundamental rights to privacy and the protection of personal data of the Union’s data subjects are not ensured;

39.  Stresses that Parliament should have full access to any relevant document related to the joint annual review;

40.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Commission, the Council, the governments and national parliaments of the Member States and the US Government and Congress.

(1) OJ L 281, 23.11.1995, p. 31.
(2) OJ L 350, 30.12.2008, p. 60.
(3) OJ L 119, 4.5.2016, p. 1.
(4) OJ L 119, 4.5.2016, p. 89.
(5) ECLI:EU:C:2015:650.
(6) ECLI:EU:C:2016:970.
(7) OJ L 207, 1.8.2016, p. 1.
(8) OJ C 257, 15.7.2016, p. 8.
(9) http://ec.europa.eu/justice/data-protection/article-29/documentation/opinion-recommendation/files/2016/wp238_en.pdf
(10) http://ec.europa.eu/justice/data-protection/article-29/press-material/press-release/art29_press_material/2016/20160726_wp29_wp_statement_eu_us_privacy_shield_en.pdf
(11) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0233.

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