Index 
Texts adopted
Wednesday, 17 May 2017 - StrasbourgFinal edition
Mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund: application EGF/2016/008 FI/Nokia Network Systems
 Annual report 2014 on subsidiarity and proportionality
 FinTech: the influence of technology on the future of the financial sector
 Automated data exchange with regard to vehicle registration data in Croatia *
 Objection to a delegated act: Identifying high-risk third countries with strategic deficiencies
 Genetically modified cotton GHB119
 Genetically modified maize DAS-40278-9
 Situation in Hungary
 European Qualifications Framework for lifelong learning

Mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund: application EGF/2016/008 FI/Nokia Network Systems
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Resolution
Annex
European Parliament resolution of 17 May 2017 on the proposal for a decision of the European Parliament and of the Council on the mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (application from Finland – EGF/2016/008 FI/Nokia Network Systems) (COM(2017)0157 – C8-0131/2017 – 2017/2058(BUD))
P8_TA(2017)0209A8-0196/2017

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Commission proposal to the European Parliament and the Council (COM(2017)0157 – C8‑0131/2017),

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

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

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

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

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

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgets (A8-0196/2017),

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

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

C.  whereas the Union promotes globalisation; whereas the Union takes care of the individuals who are momentarily subject to changes in the global market; whereas the adoption of the EGF Regulation reflects the agreement reached between the Parliament and the Council to reintroduce the crisis mobilisation criterion, to set the Union financial contribution to 60 % of the total estimated cost of proposed measures, to widen eligible actions and beneficiaries by introducing self-employed persons and young people and to finance incentives for setting up own businesses;

D.  whereas Finland submitted application EGF/2016/008 FI/Nokia Network Systems for a financial contribution from the EGF, following redundancies in the economic sector classified under the NACE Revision 2 Division 26 (Manufacture of computers, electronic and optical products) in Nokia Oy (Nokia Network Systems) and three suppliers and downstream producers, operating mainly in the NUTS level 2 regions of Helsinki-Uusimaa (Uusimaa) (FI1B), Länsi-Suomi (Pirkanmaa) (FI19) and Pohjois- ja Itä-Suomi (Pohjois-Pohjanmaa) (FI1D) and whereas 821 out of 945 redundant workers eligible for the EGF contribution are expected to participate in the measures;

E.  whereas the application was submitted under the intervention criteria of Article 4(1)(a) of the EGF Regulation, which requires at least 500 workers being made redundant over a reference period of four months in a Member State, including workers made redundant by suppliers and downstream producers;

1.  Agrees with the Commission that the conditions set out in Article 4(1)(a) of the EGF Regulation are met and that, therefore, Finland is entitled to a financial contribution of EUR 2 641 800 under that Regulation, which represents 60 % of the total cost of EUR 4 403 000;

2.  Notes that Finland submitted the application for a financial contribution from the EGF on 22 November 2016, and that, following the prompt provision of additional information by Finland, its assessment was finalised by the Commission on 7 April 2017 and notified to Parliament that same day;

3.  Recalls that the `Manufacture of computer, electronic and optical products` sector has already been the subject of 15 EGF applications, three of which were submitted by Finland(4), all based on the globalisation criterion; notes that four applications from the 15 concerned Nokia companies; notes that the final reports for the 2012 case shows that 44 % of participants in EGF activities were in employment two years after the date of Finland's EGF application and the 2013 case shows 65 % in employment; expects the Commission’s mid-term evaluation, due by 30 June 2017(5), to include detailed information about the long-term reintegration rate for those receiving EGF assistance, as already called for in Parliament’s resolution of 15 September 2016(6);

4.  Recalls that ICT plays a key structural role in Finnish economy; considers that the latest redundancies at Nokia Oy reflect a trend that affects the Finnish technology industry as a whole, where employment numbers in the last two years are extremely unstable as a result of high pressure to increase efficiency and maintain the competitiveness of products;

5.  Recalls that the ICT industry is highly sensitive to changes in the global market; notes that competition within the sector is global, meaning that all market players can compete for the same customers and the location and cultural background of personnel have limited significance;

6.  Notes that the redundancies at Nokia Oy are part of the company’s worldwide transformation programme, which is needed in order to be able to compete with East Asian rivals;

7.  Points out that, following the establishment of a joint venture with Siemens for network technologies, Nokia Oy took a number of measures, including a transfer of its resources towards technologies of the future and a reduction of personnel, which aim at bringing down its annual operating costs by EUR 900 million by the end of 2018;

8.  Notes that the persons who became unemployed from Nokia Oy in 2016 are all either university graduates (40 %) or have a secondary degree (60 %) and had been working in programming and designing, with their professional skills in many cases outdated; notes that 21 % of the targeted beneficiaries are over 54 years old, an age where re-employment in the job market is remarkably difficult; notes, in addition, that the unemployment rates have long been above the national average in two of the three concerned regions and that unemployment of the highly educated is overall at a high level in these regions, with the situation particularly difficult for employees over 50;

9.  Acknowledges the fact that Finland has drawn up the coordinated package of personalised services in consultation with stakeholders, with the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment having convened a Working Group including representatives of the targeted beneficiaries, social, national and regional partners;

10.  Notes that Finland is planning seven types of measures: (i) coaching measures and other preparatory measures, (ii) employment and business services, (iii) training, (iv) start-up grants, (v) expert assessments, (vi) pay subsidy, and (vii) allowances for travel, overnight and removal costs; notes that those actions constitute active labour market measures; notes that these measures will help the re-employment of the workers made redundant;

11.  Notes that the income support measures will constitute 13,34 % of the overall package of personalised measures, well below the maximum of 35 % set out in the EGF Regulation, and that these actions are conditional on the active participation of the targeted beneficiaries in job-search or training activities;

12.  Welcomes the use of the EURES network service to pass foreign job advertisements to Finnish jobseekers; notes that international recruitment events will be arranged regionally in cooperation with EGF and EURES services; welcomes these measures and the fact that the Finnish authorities are encouraging the redundant workers to fully benefit from their right of free movement;

13.  Welcomes the range of training and counselling services to be provided as well as the support for people seeking employment outside Finland and for start-ups; considers these measures to be particularly appropriate in view of the age profile and skills of the workers concerned;

14.  Welcomes the fact that the Finnish authorities started providing the personalised services to the affected workers on 2 June 2016, well ahead of the application for the EGF support for the proposed coordinated package;

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

16.  Welcomes the amount of EUR 59 000 allocated to information and publicity and stresses its importance in encouraging eligible beneficiaries to participate in measures supported by the EGF;

17.  Notes that sufficient funds are allocated to control and reporting; notes that systematic reporting on services supported by the EGF will enhance the correct use of the funds; welcomes the amount of EUR 20 000 allocated in control and reporting;

18.  Notes that Nokia Network Systems has complied with its legal obligations and has consulted all stakeholders involved;

19.  Stresses that the Finnish authorities have confirmed that the eligible actions do not receive financial contributions from other Union financial instruments;

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

21.  Reiterates that assistance from the EGF must not replace actions which are the responsibility of companies by virtue of national law or collective agreements nor of measures for restructuring companies or sectors; notes that Finland has confirmed that the EGF contribution will indeed not replace them;

22.  Recommends that Member States search for synergies with other actions funded by national or Union funds and utilise other Union programs alongside EGF measures;

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

24.  Approves the decision annexed to this resolution;

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

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

ANNEX

DECISION OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL

on the mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (application from Finland – EGF/2016/008 FI/Nokia Network Systems)

(The text of this annex is not reproduced here since it corresponds to the final act, Decision (EU) 2017/951.)

(1) OJ L 347, 20.12.2013, p. 855.
(2) OJ L 347, 20.12.2013, p. 884.
(3) OJ C 373, 20.12.2013, p. 1.
(4) EGF/2007/004 FI/Perlos, EGF/2012/006 FI/Nokia Salo, EGF/2013/001 FI/Nokia.
(5) Article 20 of Regulation (EU) No 1309/2013.
(6) European Parliament resolution of 15 September 2016 on activities, impact and added value of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund between 2007 and 2014 (Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0361).


Annual report 2014 on subsidiarity and proportionality
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European Parliament resolution of 17 May 2017 on the Annual Report 2014 on subsidiarity and proportionality (2015/2283(INI))
P8_TA(2017)0210A8-0114/2017

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Interinstitutional Agreement of 16 December 2003 on better law-making, and to the most recent version, the Interinstitutional Agreement of 13 April 2016 on better law-making,

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

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

–  having regard to the practical arrangements agreed on 22 July 2011 between the competent services of the European Parliament and the Council for the implementation of Article 294(4) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) in the event of agreements at first reading,

–  having regard to its resolution of 12 April 2016 on the Annual reports 2012-2013 on subsidiarity and proportionality(1),

–  having regard to its resolution of 4 February 2014 on EU Regulatory Fitness and Subsidiarity and Proportionality – 19th report on Better Lawmaking covering the year 2011(2),

–  having regard to its resolution of 13 September 2012 on the 18th report on Better legislation – Application of the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality (2010)(3),

–  having regard to its resolution of 14 September 2011 on better legislation, subsidiarity and proportionality and smart regulation(4),

–  having regard to the Cooperation Agreement signed on 5 February 2014 between the European Parliament and the Committee on the Regions,

–  having regard to the Commission’s annual report 2014 on subsidiarity and proportionality (COM(2015)0315),

–  having regard to the Committee of the Regions’ Subsidiarity Annual Report 2014,

–  having regard to the bi-annual reports of COSAC on Developments in European Union Procedures and Practices Relevant to Parliamentary Scrutiny, of 19 June 2014, 14 November 2014, 6 May 2015, and 4 November 2015,

–  having regard to Rules 52 and 132 of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Legal Affairs and to the opinion of the Committee on Constitutional Affairs (A8-0114/2017),

A.  whereas in 2014 the Commission received 21 reasoned opinions addressing 15 Commission proposals; whereas the total number of submissions received was 506 including the submissions in the framework of the political dialogue;

B.  whereas in 2014 three national chambers (the Danish Folketing, the Dutch Tweede Kamer and the UK House of Lords) issued reports with detailed proposals on how to strengthen the role of national parliaments in the decision-making process;

C.  whereas in the Cooperation Agreement between the European Parliament and the Committee of the Regions signed on 5 February 2014 both institutions have committed themselves to enhancing the legitimacy of the European Union;

D.  whereas on 19 May 2015 the Commission adopted a package of better regulation measures with new integrated Better Regulation Guidelines, including updated guidance for assessing subsidiarity and proportionality in the context of impact assessment of new initiatives;

E.  whereas in 2014 the European Parliament Impact Assessment Unit produced 31 initial appraisals, two detailed appraisals, and three substitute or complementary impact assessments of Commission impact assessments, and one impact assessment on amendments;

F.  whereas delegated powers in the Union’s legislative acts are conferred where flexibility and efficiency are needed and cannot be delivered by means of the ordinary legislative procedure; whereas the adoption of rules essential to the subject envisaged is reserved to the legislators;

G.  whereas subsidiarity and proportionality are key considerations in the context of retrospective evaluations, which assess whether EU actions are actually delivering the expected results in terms of efficiency, effectiveness, coherence, relevance and EU added value;

1.  Welcomes the continued consideration of the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality, which, in accordance with the Treaties, are among the guiding principles of the European Union when it chooses to act and should be considered integral parts of the EU’s policy-making process; recalls that, with regard to any new legislative initiative, the Treaty obliges the Commission to examine whether the EU is entitled to take action and whether this action is justified on subsidiarity and proportionality grounds and that every initiative is accompanied by an explanatory statement setting out, inter alia, how it complies with those principles;

2.  Highlights that subsidiarity checks by Member States’ national parliaments are among the important tools for reducing the so-called ‘democratic deficit’ and for collaboration between European and national institutions; points out that national parliaments have a significant role to play in ensuring that decisions are taken at the level that is most effective and as closely as possible to the citizen; stresses that the adoption of legal acts requires the agreement of a large majority within the Council, comprising the national ministers of all the Member States, who are politically accountable to their national parliaments, and that this is another way in which the principle of subsidiarity is fully respected;

3.  Notes the significant decrease in the number of reasoned opinions received from national parliaments in 2014; points out, however, that such a decrease might be as a result of the declining number of legislative proposals by the Commission; draws attention to the fact that in 2014 no Commission proposal was subject to a ‘yellow card’ or ‘orange card’ procedure under Protocol No 2 on the application of the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality; recalls that the ‘yellow card’ procedure has been triggered twice in the past (once in 2012 and once in 2013), which demonstrates that the system functions;

4.  Notes that only 15 chambers issued reasoned opinions in 2014 and that this represents a decrease of approximately 50 % in the level of participation among all 41 chambers compared with 2013;

5.  Welcomes the fact that in 2014 all the EU institutions played an active role in ensuring control of the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality in accordance with Article 5 of the Treaty on European Union; welcomes the fact that the political dialogue between the Commission and the national parliaments was enhanced, including through the various visits by Commissioners to national parliaments;

6.  Notes, however, that a majority of the opinions submitted by national parliaments come from only a few national chambers; encourages the other chambers to become more involved in the European debate;

7.  Notes that some national parliaments have highlighted that, in certain of the Commission’s legislative proposals, the justification of subsidiarity and proportionality is incomplete or indeed non-existent; calls on the Commission to improve its explanatory statements by always providing a detailed, comprehensive and factually substantiated analysis of its proposals in terms of subsidiarity and proportionality, which would assist national parliaments in carrying out a more effective examination of those proposals;

8.  Notes that the Impact Assessment Board (IAB) considered that approximately 32 % of impact assessments (IAs) reviewed by it in 2014 included an unsatisfactory analysis of the principles of subsidiarity or proportionality or both; observes that this rate is similar to the rates of previous years, and considers, therefore, that improvements may be necessary;

9.  Notes, in connection with the above, the crucial importance of impact assessments as tools for aiding decision‑making in the legislative process, and stresses the need, in this context, for proper consideration to be given to issues relating to subsidiarity and proportionality; welcomes, in this regard, the package of better regulation measures adopted by the Commission on 19 May 2015 with the aim of ensuring that EU legislation better serves the interests of the citizens, which, inter alia, addresses the concerns raised by the IAB regarding subsidiarity and proportionality; welcomes the inclusion therein of a more thorough explanation by the Commission of how legislative proposals meet the legal obligations of subsidiarity and proportionality, including in its impact analyses; stresses, in any case, that the package of better regulation measures must be used to create robust European legislation on issues for which real progress and added value can be best achieved at the European level;

10.  Recalls the importance of the annual reports on subsidiarity and proportionality prepared by the Commission; calls on the Commission, in this regard, to submit more detailed annual reports on subsidiarity and proportionality, including more thorough analysis of the principle of proportionality;

11.  Welcomes the reports by a number of national parliaments, in particular the Danish Folketing, the Dutch Tweede Kamer and the UK House of Lords, which make a valuable contribution to the debate on the role of national parliaments in the EU decision-making process, and takes note of the proposals included in those reports; notes that they contain ideas on how to extend the scope of the subsidiarity control mechanism, suggesting that reasoned opinions should also concern proposals’ compliance with the principle of proportionality; believes, however, that the practicality of these proposals requires careful evaluation and a revision of the relevant Treaties and protocols, as they are not reflected in the existing Treaties; encourages other national parliaments to share their views on the role that national parliaments should play in the EU decision-making process; welcomes national parliaments’ participation in the European debate and encourages them to cooperate even more closely with each other and with the European Parliament;

12.  Suggests that in a possible review of the Treaties and the Protocols thereto consideration could be given to whether reasoned opinions should be limited to examining subsidiarity grounds or whether they should also include proportionality assessments, to the appropriate number of national parliament responses required to trigger a ‘yellow card’ or ‘orange card’ procedure, and to what the effect should be in cases where the threshold for these procedures is reached in accordance with Article 7(2) of Protocol No 2 on the application of the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality;

13.  Notes that several national parliaments have expressed, within the Conference of Parliamentary Committees for Union Affairs (COSAC), their interest in proposing the introduction of a ‘green card’ mechanism as an instrument in the context of improving political dialogue; is of the opinion that the introduction of this ‘green card’ mechanism, which would afford national parliaments the opportunity to suggest to the Commission a legislative initiative for its examination, should be considered; suggests, in this connection, that consideration could be given to the number of national parliaments needed in order to trigger such a procedure, and to the extent of its impact; stresses that the possible introduction of such a mechanism should not undermine the EU institutions and the ordinary legislative procedure;

14.  Takes note of the request from some national parliaments to extend the eight‑week period in which they can issue a reasoned opinion under Article 6 of Protocol No 2; believes in this respect, that consideration could be given to the question of the appropriate period that national parliaments should have to issue reasoned opinions if they were to request this on grounds of time constraints on the basis of justified objective reasons, such as natural disasters and recess periods, to be agreed between national parliaments and the Commission; considers that this could be achieved through a political undertaking agreed by the institutions and the national parliaments in the first instance, without giving rise to a delay in the adoption of relevant legislation; stresses that such a period should be the result of striking a fair balance between the right of national parliaments to raise objections on subsidiarity grounds and the efficiency with which the Union should respond to the demands of its citizens; notes, in this regard, that national parliaments have the opportunity of intervening and of considering the question of compliance with the principle of subsidiarity before the presentation by the Commission of its legislative initiative when it presents Green and White Papers or its annual Work Programme; believes that, since the adoption of the Lisbon Treaty, the involvement of national parliaments in EU affairs has developed significantly, including through their linking up with other national parliaments on a regular basis;

15.  Considers that if the Member States agree to extend the period allowed to national parliaments to issue a reasoned opinion under Article 6 of Protocol No 2, it should be included in a forthcoming Treaty revision; such an extension period could then also be determined in secondary legislation;

16.  Recalls that it is possible for the national parliaments to raise subsidiarity concerns at any time under the consultation procedure or in the framework of political dialogue through an opinion addressed to the Commission;

17.  Calls on the national parliaments and the European Parliament to engage more effectively with each other, including by developing informal contacts between MEPs and national parliamentarians regarding specific policy areas;

18.  Believes that it is important to support national and regional parliaments through tools permitting information exchange, such as the creation of an IT platform that can be accessed by EU citizens; stresses that, especially since the volume of reasoned opinions received from national parliaments in 2014 remained unchanged in proportion to the number of Commission proposals, a mechanism should be developed for improving the participation of national parliaments in the EU legislative process, although the competences of each institution and the principle of subsidiarity must be fully respected;

19.  Encourages the use of interparliamentary cooperation to reinforce the role of national parliaments in the EU legislative process; stresses the importance of making better use of the interparliamentary tools available to the national parliaments, such as COSAC, the interparliamentary meetings held by the European Parliament, and the Interparliamentary Conference for the Common Foreign and Security Policy and the Common Security and Defence Policy;

20.  Believes that it is important to raise the awareness of national parliaments regarding their specific role in European decision-making and to promote further the use of the platform for EU Interparliamentary Exchange (IPEX), which facilitates information exchange; recalls that the public consultations regularly organised by the Commission could be a source of information, but remain largely unused by members of national parliaments;

21.  Recommends that further use be made of the network of representatives of national parliaments to raise awareness of the subsidiarity and proportionality principles and to improve the functioning of IPEX;

22.  Considers that reasoned opinions issued by national parliaments in accordance with Article 7(1) of Protocol No 2 are to be duly taken into account by all EU institutions during the decision-making process of the Union and, in this connection, encourages EU institutions to make appropriate arrangements;

23.  Recalls that the principle of proportionality enshrined in Article 5 TEU requires that ‘the content and form of Union action shall not exceed what is necessary to achieve the objectives of the Treaties’; emphasises that the Court of Justice has stated that the principle of proportionality ‘requires that measures implemented through provisions of European Union law be appropriate for attaining the legitimate objectives pursued by the legislation at issue and must not go beyond what is necessary to achieve them’;

24.  Calls on the Commission to systematically carry out enhanced proportionality assessments for each legislative proposal, which should include an appropriate analysis of the different legislative options at its disposal and a substantial explanation of the environmental, social and economic impacts expected from the alternative chosen, and of its potential effects on competitiveness and on SMEs; believes that these enhanced proportionality assessments should help the Commission to discard alternatives with a disproportionate impact or which are unnecessarily burdensome on individuals, undertakings, in particular SMEs, civil society, employees and other entities concerned, and should allow a better examination of the proposals on proportionality grounds; considers that the enlargement of the scope of reasoned opinions so as to include respect for the principle of proportionality could be considered;

25.  Calls on the Commission to assess, with the assistance of national parliaments, the possibility of laying down non-binding guidelines to facilitate national parliaments in their task of assessing compliance of legislative proposals with the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality;

26.  Welcomes the declaration by the Presidents of the Italian Chamber of Deputies, the French National Assembly, the German Bundestag and the Luxembourg Chamber of Deputies, which underlined ‘that more, not less, Europe is needed to respond to the challenges we face, both internally and externally’;

27.  Reiterates that several initiatives could already be introduced to improve collaboration between the European institutions and national parliaments and make it more efficient, and in particular:

   proposes forwarding the reasoned opinions of national parliaments sent under Article 6 of Protocol No 2 annexed to the TEU and the TFEU to the co-legislators without delay;
   suggests that guidelines could be prepared by the Commission for reasoned opinions on subsidiarity issues with the involvement of national parliaments and without undermining their discretion;
   encourages national parliaments to share their remarks on the assessments drawn up by the Commission;

28.  Is of the opinion that the Commission, the Council and Parliament should pay due consideration to the assessments of compliance with the subsidiarity and proportionality principles made by the Committee of the Regions when the latter issues opinions on legislative proposals;

29.  Highlights that legislation should be comprehensible and clear, allow parties to easily understand their rights and obligations, include appropriate reporting, monitoring and evaluation requirements, avoid disproportionate costs, and be practical to implement;

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

(1) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0103.
(2) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2014)0061.
(3) OJ C 353 E, 3.12.2013, p. 117.
(4) OJ C 51 E, 22.2.2013, p. 87.


FinTech: the influence of technology on the future of the financial sector
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European Parliament resolution of 17 May 2017 on FinTech: the influence of technology on the future of the financial sector (2016/2243(INI))
P8_TA(2017)0211A8-0176/2017

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its resolution of 26 May 2016 on virtual currencies(1),

–  having regard to its resolution of 15 September 2016 on access to finance for SMEs and increasing the diversity of SME funding in a Capital Markets Union(2),

–  having regard to its resolution of 22 November 2016 on the Green Paper on Retail Financial Services(3),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 14 September 2016 entitled ‘Capital Markets Union – Accelerating Reform’ (COM(2016)0601),

–  having regard to the Commission staff working document of 3 May 2016 on crowdfunding in the EU Capital Markets Union (SWD(2016)0154),

–  having regard to the Commission’s public consultation paper of 10 January 2017 on ‘Building a European data economy’ (COM(2017)0009),

–  having regard to the European Supervisory Authorities’ report of 16 December 2016 on automation in financial advice,

–  having regard to the European Supervisory Authorities’ discussion paper of 19 December 2016 on the use of Big Data by financial institutions (JC 2016 86),

–  having regard to the European Banking Authority’s opinion of 26 February 2015 on lending-based crowdfunding (EBA/Op/2015/03),

–  having regard to the European Banking Authority’s discussion paper of 4 May 2016 on innovative uses of consumer data by financial institutions (EBA/DP/2016/01),

–  having regard to the European Securities Markets Authority’s opinion of 18 December 2014 on investment-based crowdfunding (ESMA/2014/1378),

–  having regard to the European Securities Markets Authority’s report of 7 January 2017 on the distributed ledger technology applied to securities markets,

–  having regard to the report of the Joint Committee of the European Supervisory Authorities’ of 7 September 2016 on risks and vulnerabilities in the EU financial system,

–  having regard to the European Banking Authority’s Risk Dashboard based on data as of the third quarter of 2016,

–  having regard to the European Insurance and Occupational Pension Authority’s (EIOPA) Risk Dashboard of March 2016,

–  having regard to the EIOPA’s Fifth Consumer Trends Report of 16 December 2016 (EIOPA-BoS-16-239),

–  having regard to the European Securities Markets Authority’s Risk Dashboard of the fourth quarter of 2016,

–  having regard to the European Central Bank’s Occasional Paper No 172 of April 2016, entitled ‘Distributed ledger technologies in securities post-trading: Revolution or evolution?’,

–  having regard to the paper of the Committee on Payments and Market Infrastructures of February 2017 entitled ‘Distributed ledger technology in payment, clearing and settlement: An analytical framework’,

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs and the opinion of the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection (A8-0176/2017),

A.  whereas FinTech should be understood as finance enabled by or provided via new technologies, affecting the whole financial sector in all its components, from banking to insurance, pension funds, investment advice, payment services and market infrastructures;

B.  whereas financial services have always relied on technology and evolved in line with technological innovation;

C.  whereas any actor can be a FinTech, regardless of the kind of legal entity it is; whereas the value chain in financial services increasingly includes alternative actors such as start-ups or tech giants; whereas this term therefore includes a broad range of companies and services which differ widely from one another, pose different challenges and the regulatory treatment of which has to differ;

D.  whereas a broad range of FinTech developments are underpinned by new technologies, such as distributed ledger technology (DLT) applications, innovative payments, robo-advice, Big Data, the use of cloud computing, innovative solutions in customer onboarding/identification, crowdfunding platforms and many more;

E.  whereas investment in the applications of FinTech represents billions of euros and keeps increasing every year;

F.  whereas the applications of the technologies are maturing at different paces while the scale and impact of their development remain uncertain, but they have the potential to transform the financial sector in a very substantial way; whereas some FinTech applications may one day become of systemic importance;

G.  whereas FinTech developments should contribute to the development and competitiveness of the European financial system and economy, including European citizens’ welfare, at the same time as enhancing financial stability and maintaining the highest level of consumer protection;

H.  whereas FinTech can lead to considerable benefits, such as faster, cheaper, more tailor-made, more inclusive, more resilient and more transparent and better financial services for consumers and businesses, and can open up many new business opportunities for European entrepreneurs; whereas in the area of retail financial services the consumer experience is the driving force for market players; whereas progress and innovation in the financial sector should not exclude cash as a means of payment;

I.  whereas the development of new financial services and the digitalisation of existing services will change market dynamics for the financial services sector, by introducing new forms of competition, innovation, partnerships and outsourcing by and between actors;

J.  whereas promoting fair competition, neutralising economic rents where those exist and creating a level playing field for financial services in the EU is a prerequisite for boosting FinTech in Europe and for delivering cooperation between all actors;

K.  whereas economic research has shown that cost-efficiency of the financial system could lead to lower consumer prices for retail financial products and services; whereas FinTech can contribute to this price decrease;

L.  whereas FinTech solutions can increase access to capital, in particular for SMEs, through cross-border financial services and alternative lending and investment channels such as crowdfunding and peer-to-peer lending, thereby strengthening the capital markets union (CMU);

M.  whereas FinTech developments can also facilitate cross-border financial flows and the integration of capital markets in Europe and thus encourage cross-border business, thereby enabling the completion of the CMU;

N.  whereas FinTech developments, in particular in the area of domestic and cross-border payment solutions, can also support the continued development of a single market in goods and services and facilitate the achievement of the G20 and G8 ‘5x5 objectives’ of reduction of cost of remittances;

O.  whereas FinTech can serve as an effective tool for financial inclusion, opening up tailor-made financial services to those who could not access them before and thereby making growth more inclusive; whereas addressing problems of financial education and digital skills among European citizens is necessary for FinTech to generate real financial inclusion;

P.  whereas legislation, regulation and supervision have to adopt to innovation and strike the right balance between incentives to innovative consumer and investor protection and financial stability; whereas FinTech requires a more balanced attitude as between ‘regulating the institution’ and ‘regulating the activity’; whereas the complex interplay between FinTech and the current regulation can result in mismatches, with companies and service providers being regulated differently even if they perform substantially identical activities and with some activities not being well captured by the definition and/or scope of activities in the current regulation; whereas the current EU consumer and investor protection framework for financial services does not address all FinTech innovations adequately;

Q.  whereas the European Supervisory Authorities (ESAs) have started identifying the potential risks and benefits of innovative financial technologies; whereas national competent authorities are monitoring these technological developments and have come up with different approaches; whereas to date the development of a FinTech ecosystem in Europe has been hampered by divergent regulation across Member States and a lack of collaboration across markets; considers that decisive EU action with a view to fostering a common approach to FinTech is important for the development of a strong FinTech ecosystem in Europe;

R.  whereas FinTech can contribute to risk reduction in the financial system by decentralisation and deconcentration of risks, faster clearing and settlement of cash payments and securities trades, and better collateral management and capital optimisation;

S.  whereas FinTech can be expected to have some of its most significant impacts on the post-trade value chain, which includes services such as clearing, settlement, asset custody and regulatory reporting, in which technologies such as DLT could have the potential to reshape the entire sector; whereas within this value chain some intermediaries such as custodians, central counterparties (CCPs) and central securities depositories could in the long term become redundant while some other functions will still have to be performed by independent, regulated entities;

T.  whereas RegTech can lead to considerable benefits for financial institutions and supervisors by allowing new technologies to be used to address regulatory and compliance requirements more transparently and efficiently and in real time;

U.  whereas InsurTech refers to insurance enabled by or provided via new technologies, for example through automated advice, risk assessment and Big Data, but also by insuring against new risks such as cyberattacks;

V.  whereas increased access to finance for companies working on FinTech products and services, and for the innovative business partners who supply them with the technological material they need to provide these products and services, is urgently needed to boost financial innovation in Europe, in particular for start-ups to become scale-ups; whereas, in this context, the availability of venture capital as a source of funding and the presence of a strong technology sector are key factors for fostering a dynamic FinTech ecosystem in Europe;

W.  whereas cyberattacks are an increasing threat to all digital infrastructure, and therefore also to financial infrastructure; whereas the financial sector is three times more at risk of attacks than any other sector; whereas the safety, reliability and continuity of its services are prerequisites for guaranteeing public trust in the sector; whereas its retail consumers are also highly vulnerable to similar attacks or to identity theft;

X.  whereas connected devices are an integral part of FinTech services; whereas the Internet of Things (IoT) is especially vulnerable to cyberattacks and therefore poses a particular challenge for cybersecurity; whereas a connected system is only as safe as its weakest element;

Y.  whereas, as FinTech emerges, consumers and investors must be able to continue relying on high standards of consumer and investor protection, of data protection and privacy rights and of legal responsibility on the part of financial services providers;

Z.  whereas, to facilitate FinTech it is important to create a coherent and supportive regulatory framework and a competitive environment that can enable FinTech to develop and make use of various innovative tools for secure encryption and online identification and authentication with a simple interface;

AA.  whereas automation in the financial sector, as in other sectors, may disrupt existing patterns of employment; whereas improving and developing skills training and retraining will need to be at the heart of any European FinTech strategy;

AB.  whereas because of network effects the market structure in many areas of the digital economy is geared to a small number of market participants, which poses challenges in the areas of competition law and antitrust law;

Defining an EU framework for FinTech

1.  Welcomes the new developments in the area of FinTech, and calls on the Commission to draw up a comprehensive FinTech Action Plan in the framework of its Capital Markets Union (CMU) and Digital Single Market (DSM) strategies, which can contribute overall to achieving an efficient and competitive, deeper and more integrated and stable and sustainable European financial system, provide long-term benefits to the real economy and address the needs of consumer and investor protection and of regulatory certainty;

2.  Welcomes the recent creation of a FinTech Task Force, with the role of assessing innovation in this field and, at the same time, devising strategies for meeting potential challenges posed by FinTech, as well as the launch of a public consultation on FinTech by the Commission; invites the Commission to involve Parliament in the work of the Fin Tech Task Force; considers these recent Commission initiatives to be fundamental steps towards the development by the Commission of a comprehensive strategy for FinTech and for reducing regulatory uncertainty for FinTech;

3.  Considers that FinTech can help to enable the success of CMU initiatives, for example by diversifying funding options in the EU, and encourages the Commission to harness the benefits of FinTech in driving forward the CMU;

4.  Calls on the Commission to deploy a proportionate, cross-sectorial and holistic approach to its work on FinTech, drawing lessons from what is done in other jurisdictions and adapting to the diversity of actors and business models made use of; calls on the Commission to act as first mover when necessary in order to create a favourable environment for European FinTech hubs and firms to scale up;

5.  Stresses that financial services legislation at both EU and national levels should be revised when necessary and should be sufficiently innovation-friendly, so that a level playing field between actors can be achieved and maintained; recommends in particular that, in accordance with the ‘Innovation Principle’, the potential effects of legislation on innovation be properly assessed as part of an impact assessment, which should result in those developments providing to the full extent ‘significant economic and societal benefits’;

6.  Stresses that, with a view to ensuring a level playing field while facilitating ease of access for new market entrants and preventing regulatory arbitrage across Member States and legal statuses, legislation and supervision in the area of FinTech should be based on the following principles:

   (a) Same services and same risks: the same rules should apply, regardless of the type of legal entity concerned or its location in the Union;
   (b) Technology neutrality;
   (c) A risk-based approach, taking into account the proportionality of legislative and supervisory actions to risks and materiality of risks;

7.  Recommends that the competent authorities allow and encourage controlled experimentation with new technologies, both for new entrants and existing market participants; notes that such a controlled environment for experimentation may take the form of a regulatory sandbox for FinTech services with potential benefits for society, which brings together a wide range of market participants and already exists with success in several Member States; highlights that a proactive and forward-looking engagement by authorities, in a dialogue with market participants and all other relevant stakeholders, is necessary and can help supervisors and regulators to develop technological expertise; invites competent authorities to consider developing financial and/or operational stress-testing tools for FinTech applications where they may cause systemic risks, complementary to the ESRB’s work;

8.  Highlights that some central banks are already experimenting with a central bank digital currency (CBDC) as well as other new technologies; encourages the relevant authorities in Europe to assess the impact of the potential risks and benefits of a distributed ledger based version of a CBDC and the related necessary requirements in terms of consumer protection and transparency; encourages them to experiment as well, in order to keep up with market developments;

9.  Emphasises the importance of regulators and supervisors developing sufficient technical expertise to adequately scrutinise increasingly complex FinTech services; underlines that, thanks to this scrutiny on an ongoing basis, regulators will be able to detect and anticipate specific risks of different technologies and to step in immediately and with a clear agenda when it becomes necessary;

10.  Stresses therefore the importance of a one-stop shop for FinTech service providers and users within the regulatory and supervisory authorities; recognises the need to break down supervisory silos across sectors, and recommends close cooperation by financial sector supervisors with other relevant national and European bodies that have the required technological expertise;

11.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to encourage and support more research projects related to the FinTech;

12.  Underlines the importance of boosting financial innovation in Europe; calls for facilitated access to finance for innovative financial service providers and the innovative undertakings which supply them with the material needed to provide these services;

13.  Stresses that FinTech companies contribute positively to the development of financial intermediation, but also create new risks related to financial stability; notes that the regulatory and supervisory authorities receive a great deal of information through the balance sheets of established financial institutions related to the implementation of numerous regulatory frameworks such as capital requirements, leverage ratio, liquidity ratio and others, while in the case of non-banking lending entities in such cases as crowdfunding and Peer-to-Peer (P2P) it is difficult to obtain sufficient information on the financial intermediary activities of their balance sheets; therefore urges the regulatory and supervisory authorities to consider how they could obtain the appropriate supervisory information for maintaining financial stability and, where necessary, to impose regulatory constraints on their balance sheets in order to achieve and maintain financial stability;

14.  Stresses that RegTech has the potential to improve compliance processes, in particular the quality and timeliness of supervisory information, by making them less complicated and more cost-efficient; calls on the authorities to clarify the legal conditions under which the outsourcing of compliance activities by a supervised entity to third parties is allowed, ensuring that appropriate supervisory arrangements over third parties are in force and that legal liability for compliance remains with the supervised entity; calls on the relevant authorities, in particular the Commission as part of its work related to the European Post-Trade Forum, to take a proactive approach in trying to understand the barriers to using new FinTech and RegTech solutions in areas of pre- and post- trade processes that are covered by the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (MiFID), the European Market Infrastructure Regulation (EMIR) and the Central Securities Depositories Regulation (CSDR) and, where no barriers exist, to clarify the right of actors to use such solutions for the purpose of fulfilling their obligations under those pieces of legislation;

15.  Recalls that innovative financial services should be available throughout the EU and should therefore not be unduly hindered from cross-border supply inside the Union; calls on the Commission and the ESAs to monitor and avoid overlaps of regulation, new barriers to entry on the market, and national barriers to those services; calls on the Commission to prevent barriers between Member States due to inconsistencies between national regimes and to promote best practices in regulatory approaches of Member States; further calls on the Commission and the ESAs to apply, where applicable, passporting regimes to providers of new financial services offered across the Union; supports the Commission’s efforts to address how the EU can help improve choice, transparency and competition in retail financial services to the benefit of European consumers, and emphasises that this goal should be complementary to the objective of improving the efficiency of the financial system;

16.  Welcomes the fact that a vibrant set of FinTech communities have emerged throughout the EU; calls on the Commission and the related EU economic governance authorities to work closely with the FinTech hubs and augment the smart entrepreneurship of these communities and their endeavours, by encouraging and financing innovation and by embracing them as a source of future competitive advantage for the EU in the financial sector;

17.  Notes that FinTech start-ups find themselves particularly vulnerable to patent abusers, i.e. entities that buy patents with the intention of asserting them against businesses already making use of the technology rights through threats of patent infringement lawsuits; calls on the Commission to analyse this situation and to suggest measures to counter patent abusers in the FinTech area;

18.  Stresses the potential role of FinTech for the digitalisation of public services, thereby contributing to their increased efficiency, for instance in the area of tax collection and prevention of tax fraud;

19.  Stresses that because of network effects the market structure in many areas of the digital economy is geared to a small number of market participants, which poses challenges in the areas of competition law and antitrust law; calls on the Commission to reassess the suitability of the regulatory framework for competition for addressing the challenges of the digital economy in general and of FinTech in particular;

20.  Stresses that there is scope for further improvement in the means that can be used for cross-border payments; supports the development of such payment means within Europe, and regrets the high degree of fragmentation of the online banking market in the EU and the lack of a EU-wide, European-owned credit or debit card scheme; believes this is essential for the proper functioning of the CMU, and a crucial part of the Digital Single Market, fostering European e-commerce and cross-border competition in financial services; calls on the Commission to identify the steps ahead towards creating an environment supportive to the growth of such a system; recognises the need for such a system to coexist and, where appropriate, be inter-operative with other innovative payment solutions in the interests of competition;

21.  Stresses that consumers are the driving force behind the rise of FinTechs; underlines that the goal of any future legislative changes should be to support consumers in this transformation;

Data

22.  Recalls that the collection and analysis of data play a central role for FinTech, and therefore stresses the need for consistent, technology-neutral application of existing data legislation, including the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the Revised Payment Service Directive (PSD2), the Electronic Identification and Authentication Services (eIDAS) Regulation, the Fourth Anti-Money Laundering Directive (AMLD4) and the Network and Information Security (NIS) Directive; stresses that in order to scale up innovative finance in Europe a free flow of data within the Union is needed; calls on the Commission to take measures to ensure that only objective and relevant data elements are used in the context of the provision of financial services; welcomes the Commission’s public consultation of 10 January 2017 on the ‘data economy’ (COM(2017)0009), which should provide evidence and establish whether or not barriers exist to the free flow of data across the Union;

23.  Emphasises the need for clear rules on data ownership, access and transfer; highlights that increasing amounts of data are generated by machines or processes based on emerging technologies, such as machine learning; stresses that the GDPR provides a clear legal framework on personal data but that more legal certainty is needed regarding other categories of data; believes, in this regard, that a clear distinction should be made between raw data and data resulting from further processing;

24.  Stresses that open banking and data sharing contribute to ensuring that all FinTech business models can grow together, for the benefit of consumers; underlines, in this regard, the recent achievements of the PSD2 regarding payment initiations and access to account data;

25.  Highlights the benefits that cloud computing can have for consumers and providers of financial services, in terms of cost efficiency, decreased time to market and a better use of ICT resources; notes that there are no clear, comprehensive European rules or guidelines for outsourcing data to the cloud with regard to the financial sector; stresses the need for the development of such guidelines and for a common approach to the use of cloud computing across national competent authorities (NCAs); stresses that such rules or guidelines are necessary to bring agility and speed to cloud adoption; underlines that high standards of data security and consumer protection should be a part of those guidelines; calls on the Commission and the ESAs to study different possibilities in this regard, such as pre-approved contracts between cloud service providers and financial institutions;

26.  Notes the necessity of creating more awareness among consumers as regards the value of their personal data; notes that consumers can enter into contracts to share digital content in exchange of the payment of a fee; underlines that this may lead to economic benefits but can also be used in a discriminatory way; calls on the Commission to investigate the possibility of a European data sharing strategy with the aim of putting consumers in control of their data; believes that a clear, consumer-centred approach will increase trust in cloud-based services and stimulate new innovative services offered by diverse actors in the financial value chain, e.g. by using application programming interfaces (APIs) or facilitating direct access to data for electronic payment services; asks the Commission to investigate the future potential of Personal Information Management Systems (PIMS) as technical tools for consumers to manage their personal data;

27.  Recalls, in the context of the increased use of customer data or big data by financial institutions, the provisions of the GDPR, which grant the data subject the right to obtain an explanation of a decision reached by automated processing and to challenge this decision(4); stresses the need to guarantee that incorrect data can be changed and that only verifiable and relevant data are used; calls on all stakeholders to increase efforts to guarantee the enforcement of these rights; is of the opinion that consent given to the use of personal data needs to be dynamic and that data subjects must be able to alter and adapt their consent;

28.  Notes that the increased use of customer data or big data by financial institutions may lead to benefits to consumers, such as the development of more tailored, segmented and cheaper offers based on more efficient allocation of risk and capital; notes, on the other hand, the development of dynamic pricing and its potential to lead to the opposite, which could be detrimental to comparability of offers and effective competition and to risk pooling and mutualisation, in the insurance sector for example;

29.  Acknowledges the increasing combination of personal data and algorithms in order to provide services such as robo-advice; emphasises the efficiency potential of robo-advice and its potential positive effects on financial inclusiveness; stresses that, potentially, errors or biases in algorithms or in the underlying data can cause systemic risk and harm consumers, for example through increasing exclusion; asks the Commission and the ESAs to monitor these risks in order to ensure that automation in financial advice can really generate better, transparent, accessible and cost-efficient advice, and to address the increasing difficulty of tracing responsibility for damages caused by such risks in the current legal liability framework for data use; underlines that the same consumer protection requirements should apply to robo-advice as to face-to-face advice;

Cyber security and ICT risks

30.  Emphasises the need for end-to-end security across the whole financial services value chain; points to the large and diverse risks posed by cyberattacks, targeting our financial markets infrastructure, the Internet of Things, currencies and data; calls on the Commission to make cybersecurity the number one priority in the FinTech Action Plan, and on the ESAs and the ECB in its banking supervision role to make it a key element of their regulatory and supervisory programmes;

31.  Calls on the ESAs, in cooperation with national regulators, to regularly review existing operational standards covering ICT risks of financial institutions; calls furthermore, in view of the varying level of protection in the cybersecurity strategies of Member States, for ESA guidelines on the supervision of these risks; stresses the importance of technological know-how in the ESAs in enabling them to fulfil their tasks; encourages more research in this area;

32.  Highlights the need for exchange of information and best practices between supervisors, as well as regulators and governments at their respective levels, between researchers and market participants and between market participants themselves; calls on the Commission, the Member States, market participants and the EU Agency for Network and Information Security (ENISA) to explore the potential of transparency and information sharing as tools against cyberattacks; suggests exploring the potential benefits of a single point of contact for market participants in this regard, as well as considering more coordinated approach in cybercrime investigation in the area of financial services, given their increasingly cross-border character;

33.  Underlines that regulation on the provision of financial services infrastructure needs to provide for appropriate incentive structures for providers to invest adequately in cybersecurity;

34.  Calls on the Member States to ensure the timely transposition of the directive on security of network and information systems (NIS Directive); welcomes the new public-private partnership on cybersecurity recently launched by the Commission with the participation of the industry; asks the Commission to develop a series of new and concrete initiatives to strengthen the resilience of FinTech businesses in this sector against cyberattacks, especially SMEs and start-ups;

35.  Notes that public confidence in the technologies concerned is vital for the future growth of FinTech, and flags the need for better education and awareness regarding the positive impact of FinTech on day-to-day activities, but also regarding network and information security risks for citizens and businesses, in particular SMEs;

36.  Welcomes the continuous efforts in the field of standardisation which make connected devices safer; underlines, however, that safety needs to be granted beyond a minimum level of standardisation, especially because uniform standardised security precautions increase the risk of large security breaches due to a possible domino effect; strongly encourages companies to develop heterogeneous own responses to secure their devices and operations;

Blockchains

37.  Underlines the potential of blockchain applications for cash and securities transfer, as well as for facilitating ‘smart contracts’, which open up a wide range of possibilities for both sides of financial contracts, in particular trade finance and business lending arrangements, which have the possibility to simplify complex commercial and financial contractual relationships at business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) levels; stresses that blockchain platforms are also suitable for the simplification of complex B2B and B2C transactions;

38.  Recalls the benefits and risks of unpermissioned blockchain applications; invites the Commission to organise an annual multi-stakeholder conference on this subject; is concerned by the increased use of unpermissioned blockchain applications for criminal activities, tax evasion, tax avoidance and money laundering; calls on the Commission to closely monitor these issues, including the role of mixers/tumblers in this process, and to address them in a report;

Interoperability

39.  Acknowledges the importance of APIs, as a complement to other tools that can be used by the consumer, in providing new actors with access to financial infrastructure; recommends the creation of a set of standardised APIs that vendors can use, for example in the area of open banking, in parallel with the possibility for such vendors to design their own software;

40.  Considers that interoperability of FinTech services, both within Europe and through engagement with third-country jurisdictions and with other economic sectors, is a key condition for the future development of the European FinTech sector and the full materialisation of the opportunities that it can generate; encourages standardising data formats where possible, as is the case in PSD2, in order to facilitate this;

41.  Calls on the Commission to coordinate the work of the Member States and market participants in order to ensure interoperability among the different national e-identification schemes; stresses that the use of these schemes should be open to the private sector; believes that remote identification means that are not set out in the e-IDAS regulation should also be acceptable, as long as they are of a security level equivalent to the substantial assurance level of e-IDAS, and are thus both safe and interoperable;

42.  Stresses the importance of interoperability of traditional and new payments solutions in order to achieve an integrated and innovative European payment market;

43.  Asks the ESAs to identify in which cases targeted or risk-based authentication can be an alternative to strong authentication; further asks the Commission to investigate whether the strong authentication processes can also be executed by other entities than banks;

44.  Calls on the ESAs, in cooperation with national regulators, to develop technology-neutral standards and licences both for know-your-customer and remote identification techniques, for example based on biometric criteria, which respect the privacy of users;

Financial stability and consumer and investor protection

45.  Calls on the Commission to pay specific attention, in designing its FinTech action plan, to the needs of retail consumers and investors and the risks to which they might be vulnerable, in the light of growing expansion of FinTech in services to non-professional clients, for example in crowdfunding and peer-to-peer lending; stresses that the same consumer protection standards apply to FinTech services as to other financial services, irrespective of the channel of distribution or the location of the customer;

46.  Calls on the ESAs to continue and accelerate their ongoing work on monitoring technological developments and analysing their benefits and potential risks, in particular as regards consumer and investor protection and financial inclusion;

47.  Calls on the Commission to investigate to what extent FinTech can help provide consumers with better-quality financial advice and whether the fragmented EU regulatory framework dealing with advice is sufficient to accommodate this;

48.  Considers that there is still considerable regulatory uncertainty around InsurTech, and stresses that this needs to be addressed so as to ensure security, privacy, fair competition, and financial stability; emphasises that greater legal certainty will help to ensure that consumers of poorly regulated InsurTech firms do not fall victim to losses or mis-selling, and will help both companies and consumers to better utilise InsurTech solutions;

49.  Stresses the need to ensure that financial stability is enhanced alongside the development of FinTech solutions; encourages the examination of open-source, peer-reviewed technology as a means of achieving this goal; calls on the ESAs to partner with private-sector players in developing and evaluating innovative technologies that have the potential to safeguard financial stability and increase consumer protection, for instance by mitigating bias in algorithms or by increasing consumer awareness of cyberthreats;

50.  Notes that diversity and competition among market participants are critical factors contributing to financial stability; calls on regulators and supervisors to monitor the impact of digitisation on the competitive situation across all relevant segments of the financial sector, and to design and deploy tools to prevent or remedy anti-competitive behaviour or distortions of competition;

Financial education and IT skills

51.  Emphasises that both financial literacy and digital literacy are crucial factors for the efficient use of FinTech and for lower levels of risk in the FinTech environment;

52.  Stresses that proper financial education of retail consumers and investors is necessary for FinTech to become a real tool for financial inclusion and to enable those consumers and investors who are ever more directly exposed to immediately accessible personalised financial investment products and services to make sound financial decisions autonomously on those offers and to understand all the risks stemming from using these innovative technologies; calls on the Commission and the ESAs to increase their support for initiatives to improve financial education; stresses that vocational training and information on consumer and investor rights should be easily accessible;

53.  Recalls the Commission’s forecast that by 2020 Europe might be facing a shortage of up to 825 000 ICT professionals; believes that more computer scientists are needed, and encourages the Member States to prepare for changes in the labour market that may occur faster than we might expect today;

54.  Underlines the need for increased digital education and skills within the financial sector, within regulatory bodies and within society as a whole, including vocational training; calls on the Commission to present best practices in the context of its Digital Skills and Jobs Coalition;

o
o   o

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

(1) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0228.
(2) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0358.
(3) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0434.
(4) See recital 71 of the GDPR.


Automated data exchange with regard to vehicle registration data in Croatia *
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European Parliament legislative resolution of 17 May 2017 on the draft Council implementing decision on the launch of automated data exchange with regard to vehicle registration data in Croatia (05318/2017 – C8-0033/2017 – 2017/0801(CNS))
P8_TA(2017)0212A8-0171/2017

(Consultation)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Council draft (05318/2017),

–  having regard to Article 39(1) of the Treaty on European Union, as amended by the Treaty of Amsterdam, and Article 9 of Protocol No 36 on transitional provisions, pursuant to which the Council consulted Parliament (C8‑0033/2017),

–  having regard to Council Decision 2008/615/JHA of 23 June 2008 on the stepping up of cross-border cooperation, particularly in combating terrorism and cross-border crime(1), and in particular Article 33 thereof,

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (A8-0171/2017),

1.  Approves the Council draft;

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

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

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

(1) OJ L 210, 6.8.2008, p. 1.


Objection to a delegated act: Identifying high-risk third countries with strategic deficiencies
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European Parliament resolution of 17 May 2017 on the Commission delegated regulation of 24 March 2017 amending Delegated Regulation (EU) 2016/1675 supplementing Directive (EU) 2015/849 of the European Parliament and of the Council, as regards deleting Guyana from the table in point I of the Annex and adding Ethiopia to that table (C(2017)01951 – 2017/2634(DEA))
P8_TA(2017)0213B8-0294/2017

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Commission delegated regulation (C(2017)01951) (‘the amending delegated regulation’),

–  having regard to Article 290 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

–  having regard to Directive (EU) 2015/849 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 May 2015 on the prevention of the use of the financial system for the purposes of money laundering or terrorist financing, amending Regulation (EU) No 648/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council, and repealing Directive 2005/60/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council and Commission Directive 2006/70/EC(1) (4AMLD), and in particular Articles 9(2) and 64(5) thereof,

–  having regard to Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2016/1675 of 14 July 2016 supplementing Directive (EU) 2015/849 of the European Parliament and of the Council by identifying high-risk third countries with strategic deficiencies(2), in particular the Annex thereto,

–  having regard to its resolution of 19 January 2017 on the Commission delegated regulation of 24 November 2016 amending Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2016/1675 supplementing Directive (EU) 2015/849 by identifying high-risk third countries with strategic deficiencies(3),

–  having regard to the Commission’s letter of 24 March 2017 accompanying the amending delegated regulation,

–  having regard to the work performed and the conclusions reached so far by Parliament’s two special committees – the Committee on Tax Rulings and Other Measures Similar in Nature or Effect and the Committee of Inquiry into Money Laundering, Tax Avoidance and Tax Evasion,

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

–  having regard to Rule 105(3) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.  whereas the delegated regulation, its annex and the amending delegated regulation are meant to identify high-risk third countries with strategic deficiencies as regards anti-money laundering and countering terrorist financing (AML/CTF), which represent a threat to the EU financial system and for which enhanced customer due diligence measures are necessary at EU obliged entities under 4AMLD;

B.  whereas the most recent Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2016/1675 supplementing Directive (EU) 2015/849 by identifying high-risk third countries with strategic deficiencies has been in force since 23 September 2016;

C.  whereas Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2016/1675 will remain in force even if the amending delegated regulation is rejected;

D.  whereas the list of countries, including after the amendments introduced in the amending delegated regulation adopted by the Commission on 24 March 2017, matches those identified by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) at their 29th plenary meeting from 20 to 24 February 2017;

E.  whereas, as stipulated in recital 28 of 4AMLD and repeated in the explanatory memorandum (C(2016)04180) to Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2016/1675, the Commission assessment is an autonomous process; whereas the Commission is thus free to move beyond FATF standards, either by keeping a third country on its list even if delisted by FATF, or by including additional third countries as long as this is in line with the specific criteria set out in Article 9(2) of 4AMLD;

F.  whereas the Commission assessment is an autonomous process which has to be carried out in a comprehensive and unbiased manner, assessing all third countries based on the same criteria defined in Article 9(2) of 4AMLD;

G.  whereas Parliament rejected an earlier amending delegated regulation (C(2016)07495) on the grounds that the Commission’s process was not sufficiently autonomous and did not recognise the non-exhaustive nature of the list of criteria (‘in particular’) in Article 9(2) of 4AMLD, thereby excluding predicate offences for money laundering, such as tax crimes;

H.  whereas Parliament remains of the view that AML/CTF deficiencies may persist as regards several aspects of Article 9(2) in certain countries that are not included in the list of high-risk third countries in the amending delegated regulation;

I.  whereas Parliament has duly taken note of the Commission’s letter of 24 March 2017 that refers to the Commission’s ongoing stock-taking exercise of possibilities to reduce its reliance on external information sources; whereas the establishment of an autonomous evaluation process for the EU list of high-risk third countries, as requested by Parliament, is one of the options being assessed;

J.  whereas Parliament appreciates the time and resources that the development of an autonomous evaluation process may take, especially given the extremely limited amount of staff and resources available to the Commission in order to prevent financial crimes, but expects a firmer commitment from the Commission with fixed and ambitious milestones (such as a roadmap) in order to provide a clear message on the institutions’ joint commitment towards combating money laundering, tax evasion and terrorist financing;

K.  whereas Parliament’s Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs and Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs have jointly requested the Commissioner in charge of this delegated act to appear before them in order to hold a proper discussion on the proposal and Parliament’s objection to it;

1.  Objects to the Commission delegated regulation;

2.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Commission and to notify it that the delegated regulation cannot enter into force;

3.  Calls on the Commission to submit a new delegated act which takes account of the concerns set out above, including its recommendation to adopt a roadmap to come to an autonomous evaluation process;

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

(1) OJ L 141, 5.6.2015, p. 73.
(2) OJ L 254, 20.9.2016, p. 1.
(3) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0008.


Genetically modified cotton GHB119
PDF 266kWORD 49k
European Parliament resolution of 17 May 2017 on the draft Commission implementing decision authorising the placing on the market of products containing, consisting of, or produced from genetically modified cotton GHB119 (BCS-GHØØ5-8) pursuant to Regulation (EC) No 1829/2003 of the European Parliament and of the Council (D050182 – 2017/2675(RSP))
P8_TA(2017)0214B8-0293/2017

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the draft Commission implementing decision authorising the placing on the market of products containing, consisting of, or produced from genetically modified cotton GHB119 (BCS-GHØØ5-8) pursuant to Regulation (EC) No 1829/2003 of the European Parliament and of the Council (D050182),

–  having regard to Regulation (EC) No 1829/2003 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 September 2003 on genetically modified food and feed(1), and in particular Articles 7(3), 9(2), 19(3) and 21(2) thereof,

–  having regard to the vote of the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health referred to in Article 35 of Regulation (EC) No 1829/2003, on 27 March 2017, where no opinion was delivered,

–  having regard to Articles 11 and 13 of Regulation (EU) No 182/2011 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 February 2011 laying down the rules and general principles concerning mechanisms for control by Member States of the Commission’s exercise of implementing powers(2),

–  having regard to the opinion adopted by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) on 21 September 2016, and published on 21 October 2016(3);

–  having regard to the proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Regulation (EU) No 182/2011 laying down the rules and general principles concerning mechanisms for control by Member States of the Commission’s exercise of implementing powers (COM(2017)0085, COD(2017)0035),

–  having regard to its previous resolutions objecting to the authorisation of genetically modified organisms(4),

–  having regard to the motion for a resolution of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety,

–  having regard to Rule 106(2) and (3) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.  whereas on 25 March 2011, Bayer submitted an application in accordance with Articles 5 and 17 of Regulation (EC) No 1829/2003 for the placing on the market of foods, food ingredients and feed containing, consisting of, or produced from GHB119 cotton to the competent authority of the Netherlands; whereas that application also covered the placing on the market of genetically modified cotton GHB119 in products consisting of it or containing it for uses other than food and feed as any other cotton, with the exception of cultivation;

B.  whereas on 21 September 2016, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) adopted a favourable opinion in accordance with Articles 6 and 18 of Regulation (EC) No 1829/2003, which was published on 21 October 2016;

C.  whereas the unique identifier BCS-GHØØ5-8 assigned to GHB119 cotton, as described in the application, expresses the PAT protein which confers tolerance to glufosinate ammonium-based herbicides and Cry2Ae protein which confers resistance to certain lepidopteran pests; whereas an authorisation for import of this cotton into the Union would undoubtedly lead to an increase in its cultivation in other parts of the world, with a corresponding increase in the use of glufosinate ammonium-based herbicides;

D.  whereas glufosinate is classified as toxic to reproduction and thus falls under the exclusion criteria set out in Regulation (EC) No 1107/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council(5); whereas the approval of glufosinate expires on 31 July 2018;

E.  whereas independent research raises concerns about major gaps in the comparative assessment, e.g. the fact that, although statistically significant differences in the composition were found for many compounds, no further investigation was deemed necessary; concerns about serious gaps as regards the toxicology assessment, e.g. the fact that only one mode of action of Bt toxins was considered, that no investigations into combinatorial effects have been conducted and that no assessment of pesticide residues has been conducted; and concerns about an inconclusive assessment of the possible impact on the immune system(6);

F.  whereas many critical comments were submitted by Member States during the three-month consultation period; whereas those comments refer to, inter alia: missing data as regards identification and quantification of the herbicide and metabolite residues in the GM plants and seeds used for food/feed, shortcomings in the environmental risk assessment and environmental monitoring plan relating, inter alia, to differing views on whether wild relatives have been reported in Europe, or missing data as regards the germination power of the imported seed, as well as the fact that no unintended effects were taken into consideration; whereas some of the comments further criticised the very poor data base in general and, more specifically, the fact that only a very limited number of studies had been taken into consideration and that, for example, no appropriate toxicity test with plant material from GHB119 cotton, as well as no appropriate studies on the effect of the GM cotton on human and animal health, had been carried out, and that the nutritional study submitted was not considered to be admissible(7);

G.  whereas, in spite of all the abovementioned concerns, EFSA did not consider any post-market monitoring of food/feed derived from cotton GHB119 to be necessary;

H.  whereas no opinion was delivered at the vote of the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health referred to in Article 35 of Regulation (EC) No 1829/2003 on 27 March 2017; whereas 15 Member States voted against, while only 11 Member States representing just 38,69 % of the Union population voted in favour, with 2 Member States abstaining;

I.  whereas, both in the explanatory memorandum of its legislative proposal presented on 22 April 2015 amending Regulation (EC) No 1829/2003 as regards the possibility for the Member States to restrict or prohibit the use of genetically modified food and feed on their territory (COM(2015)0177) and in the explanatory memorandum of the legislative proposal presented on 14 February 2017 amending Regulation (EU) No 182/2011, the Commission deplored the fact that, since the entry into force of Regulation (EC) No 1829/2003, authorisation decisions have been adopted by the Commission without the support of the Member States’ committee opinion and that returning the dossier to the Commission for final decision, which is very much the exception for the procedure as a whole, has become the norm for decision-making on genetically modified food and feed authorisations; whereas that practice has, on several occasions, been deplored by Commission President Juncker as not being democratic(8);

J.  whereas Parliament rejected the legislative proposal of 22 April 2015 amending Regulation (EC) No 1829/2003 on 28 October 2015 at first reading(9) and called on the Commission to withdraw it and submit a new one;

K.  whereas Recital 14 of Regulation (EU) No 182/2011 laying down the rules and general principles concerning mechanisms for control by Member States of the Commission’s exercise of implementing powers clearly states that: ‘When considering the adoption of other draft implementing acts concerning particularly sensitive sectors, notably taxation, consumer health, food safety and protection of the environment, the Commission, in order to find a balanced solution, will, as far as possible, act in such a way as to avoid going against any predominant position which might emerge within the appeal committee against the appropriateness of an implementing act’;

1.  Considers that the draft Commission implementing decision exceeds the implementing powers provided for in Regulation (EC) No 1829/2003;

2.  Considers that the draft Commission implementing decision is not consistent with Union law, in that it is not compatible with the aim of Regulation (EC) No 1829/2003, which is, in accordance with the general principles laid down in Regulation (EC) No 178/2002 of the European Parliament and of the Council(10), to provide the basis for ensuring a high level of protection of human life and health, animal health and welfare, the environment and consumer interests in relation to genetically modified food and feed, whilst ensuring the effective functioning of the internal market;

3.  Calls on the Commission to withdraw its draft implementing decision;

4.  Calls on the Commission to suspend any implementing decision regarding applications for authorisation of genetically modified organisms until the authorisation procedure has been revised in such a way as to address the shortcomings of the current procedure, which has proven inadequate;

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

(1) OJ L 268, 18.10.2003, p. 1.
(2) OJ L 55, 28.2.2011, p. 13.
(3) Available at: https://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/efsajournal/pub/4586
(4)–––––––––––– – Resolution of 16 January 2014 on the proposal for a Council decision concerning the placing on the market for cultivation, in accordance with Directive 2001/18/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council, of a maize product (Zea mays L., line 1507) genetically modified for resistance to certain lepidopteran pests (OJ C 482, 23.12.2016, p. 110),Resolution of 16 December 2015 on Commission Implementing Decision (EU) 2015/2279 of 4 December 2015 authorising the placing on the market of products containing, consisting of, or produced from genetically modified maize NK603 × T25 (P8_TA(2015)0456),Resolution of 3 February 2016 on the draft Commission implementing decision authorising the placing on the market of products containing, consisting of, or produced from genetically modified soybean MON 87705 × MON 89788 (P8_TA(2016)0040),Resolution of 3 February 2016 on the draft Commission implementing decision authorising the placing on the market of products containing, consisting of, or produced from genetically modified soybean MON 87708 × MON 89788 (P8_TA(2016)0039),Resolution of 3 February 2016 on the draft Commission implementing decision authorising the placing on the market of products containing, consisting of, or produced from genetically modified soybean FG72 (MST-FGØ72-2) (P8_TA(2016)0038),Resolution of 8 June 2016 on the draft Commission implementing decision authorising the placing on the market of products containing, consisting of, or produced from genetically modified maize Bt11 × MIR162 × MIR604 × GA21, and genetically modified maizes combining two or three of those events (P8_TA(2016)0271),Resolution of 8 June 2016 on the draft Commission implementing decision as regards the placing on the market of a genetically modified carnation (Dianthus caryophyllus L., line SHD-27531-4) (P8_TA(2016)0272),Resolution of 6 October 2016 on the draft Commission implementing decision renewing the authorisation for the placing on the market for cultivation of genetically modified maize MON 810 seeds (P8_TA(2016)0388),Resolution of 6 October 2016 on the draft Commission implementing decision authorising the placing on the market of genetically modified maize MON 810 products (P8_TA(2016)0389),Resolution of 6 October 2016 on the draft Commission implementing decision concerning the placing on the market for cultivation of genetically modified maize Bt11 seeds (P8_TA(2016)0386),Resolution of 6 October 2016 on the draft Commission implementing decision concerning the placing on the market for cultivation of genetically modified maize 1507 seeds (P8_TA(2016)0387),Resolution of 6 October 2016 on the draft Commission implementing decision authorising the placing on the market of products containing, consisting of, or produced from genetically modified cotton 281-24-236 × 3006-210-23 × MON 88913 (P8_TA(2016)0390),Resolution of 5 April 2017 on the draft Commission implementing decision authorising the placing on the market of products containing, consisting of, or produced from genetically modified maize Bt11 × 59122 × MIR604 × 1507 × GA21, and genetically modified maizes combining two, three or four of the events Bt11, 59122, MIR604, 1507 and GA21 pursuant to Regulation (EC) No 1829/2003 of the European Parliament and of the Council on genetically modified food and feed (P8_TA(2017)0123).
(5) OJ L 309, 24.11.2009, p. 1.
(6) Bauer-Panskus/Then: Testbiotech comment on the Scientific Opinion on application (EFSA-GMO-NL-2011-96) for the placing on the market of genetically modified insect-resistant and herbicide-tolerant cotton GHB119 from Bayer CropScience AG, available at: https://www.testbiotech.org/node/1860.
(7) http://registerofquestions.efsa.europa.eu/roqFrontend/questionLoader?question=EFSA-Q-2011-00311
(8) e.g. in the Opening Statement at the European Parliament plenary session included in the political guidelines for the next European Commission (Strasbourg, 15 July 2014) or in the State of the Union Address 2016 (Strasbourg, 14 September 2016).
(9) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0379.
(10) OJ L 31, 1.2.2002, p. 1.


Genetically modified maize DAS-40278-9
PDF 268kWORD 48k
European Parliament resolution of 17 May 2017 on the draft Commission implementing decision authorising the placing on the market of products containing, consisting of, or produced from genetically modified maize DAS-40278-9, pursuant to Regulation (EC) No 1829/2003 of the European Parliament and of the Council on genetically modified food and feed (D050183 – 2017/2674(RSP))
P8_TA(2017)0215B8-0292/2017

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the draft Commission implementing decision authorising the placing on the market of products containing, consisting of, or produced from genetically modified maize DAS-40278-9, pursuant to Regulation (EC) No 1829/2003 of the European Parliament and of the Council on genetically modified food and feed (D050183),

–  having regard to Regulation (EC) No 1829/2003 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 September 2003 on genetically modified food and feed(1), and in particular Articles 7(3), 9(2), 19(3) and 21(2) thereof,

–  having regard to the vote of the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health referred to in Article 35 of Regulation (EC) No 1829/2003, on 27 March 2017, where no opinion was delivered,

–  having regard to Articles 11 and 13 of Regulation (EU) No 182/2011 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 February 2011 laying down the rules and general principles concerning mechanisms for control by Member States of the Commission’s exercise of implementing powers(2),

–  having regard to the opinion adopted by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) on 26 October 2016, and published on 5 December 2016(3),

–  having regard to the proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Regulation (EU) No 182/2011 laying down the rules and general principles concerning mechanisms for control by Member States of the Commission’s exercise of implementing powers (COM(2017)0085, COD(2017)0035),

–  having regard to its previous resolutions objecting to the authorisation of genetically modified organisms(4),

–  having regard to the motion for a resolution of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety,

–  having regard to Rule 106(2) and (3) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.  whereas on 11 November 2010, Dow AgroSciences Europe submitted an application for the placing on the market of foods, food ingredients and feed containing, consisting of, or produced from DAS-40278-9 maize to the national competent authority of the Netherlands in accordance with Articles 5 and 17 of Regulation (EC) No 1829/2003; whereas that application also covered the placing on the market of genetically modified maize DAS-40278-9 in products consisting of it or containing it for uses other than food and feed as any other maize, with the exception of cultivation;

B.  whereas on 26 October 2016, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) adopted a favourable opinion in accordance with Articles 6 and 18 of Regulation (EC) No 1829/2003, which was published on 5 December 2016(5);

C.  whereas the DAS-40278-9 maize expresses the AAD-1 protein which confers tolerance to 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D) and aryloxyphenoxypropionate (AOPP) herbicides;

D.  whereas independent research raises concerns about the risks of the active ingredient of 2,4-D as regards embryo development, birth defects and endocrine disruption; whereas it is not clear if, and to what extent, 2,4-D products contain impurities of highly toxic dioxins and furans, which are human carcinogens and endocrine disruptors and which persist in the environment and accumulate in the food chain(6);

E.  whereas the approval of the active substance 2,4-D was renewed in 2015; whereas the presence of impurities such as dioxins and furans has been acknowledged below certain levels; whereas information by the applicant as regards the potential endocrine properties of the substance still has to be submitted(7);

F.  whereas authorising the import of DAS-40278-9 maize into the Union will undoubtedly lead to an increase in its cultivation elsewhere, such as in the US, Brazil and Argentina, and to a corresponding increase in the use of 2,4-D and AOPP herbicides; whereas independent research also raises concerns about major gaps in the comparative assessment, serious gaps as regards the toxicology assessment (e.g. the fact that no testing of the whole plant in a feeding study was requested, no long-term or accumulated effects were considered, the impact on reproductive systems was not discussed, and methodological flaws within the animal studies), and an inconclusive assessment of the possible impact on the immune system(8);

G.  whereas many critical comments were submitted by Member States during the three-month consultation period; whereas those comments refer to, inter alia: missing or insufficient data, missing explanations, contradictory statements in the application, poor test design, missing tests, e.g. as regards allergenicity, questionable results of the safety assessment studies, the lack of any 90-day subchronic toxicity study with the whole food, which makes it impossible to assess the potential risk of consuming food products made with the maize, and the choice and design of the studies taken into consideration for the risk assessment(9);

H.  whereas, in spite of all these concerns, EFSA did not consider any post-market monitoring of food/feed derived from maize DAS-40278-9 to be necessary;

I.  whereas no opinion was delivered at the vote of the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health referred to in Article 35 of Regulation (EC) No 1829/2003 on 27 March 2017; whereas 16 Member States voted against, while only 9 Member States representing just 36,22 % of the Union population voted in favour, with 3 Member States abstaining;

J.  whereas, both in the explanatory memorandum of its legislative proposal presented on 22 April 2015 amending Regulation (EC) No 1829/2003 as regards the possibility for the Member States to restrict or prohibit the use of genetically modified food and feed on their territory (COM(2015)0177) and in the explanatory memorandum of the legislative proposal presented on 14 February 2017 amending Regulation (EU) No 182/2011, the Commission deplored the fact that, since the entry into force of Regulation (EC) No 1829/2003, authorisation decisions have been adopted by the Commission without the support of the Member States’ committee opinion and that returning the dossier to the Commission for final decision, which is very much the exception for the procedure as a whole, has become the norm for decision-making on genetically modified food and feed authorisations; whereas that practice has, on several occasions, been deplored by Commission President Juncker as not being democratic(10);

K.  whereas Parliament rejected the legislative proposal of 22 April 2015 amending Regulation (EC) No 1829/2003 on 28 October 2015 at first reading(11) and called on the Commission to withdraw it and submit a new one;

L.  whereas Recital 14 of Regulation (EU) No 182/2011 laying down the rules and general principles concerning mechanisms for control by Member States of the Commission’s exercise of implementing powers clearly states that: ‘When considering the adoption of other draft implementing acts concerning particularly sensitive sectors, notably taxation, consumer health, food safety and protection of the environment, the Commission, in order to find a balanced solution, will, as far as possible, act in such a way as to avoid going against any predominant position which might emerge within the appeal committee against the appropriateness of an implementing act’;

1.  Considers that the draft Commission implementing decision exceeds the implementing powers provided for in Regulation (EC) No 1829/2003;

2.  Considers that the draft Commission implementing decision is not consistent with Union law, in that it is not compatible with the aim of Regulation (EC) No 1829/2003, which is, in accordance with the general principles laid down in Regulation (EC) No 178/2002 of the European Parliament and of the Council(12), to provide the basis for ensuring a high level of protection of human life and health, animal health and welfare, the environment and consumer interests in relation to genetically modified food and feed, whilst ensuring the effective functioning of the internal market;

3.  Calls on the Commission to withdraw its draft implementing decision;

4.  Calls on the Commission to suspend any implementing decision regarding applications for authorisation of genetically modified organisms until the authorisation procedure has been revised in such a way as to address the shortcomings of the current procedure, which has proven inadequate;

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

(1) OJ L 268, 18.10.2003, p. 1.
(2) OJ L 55, 28.2.2011, p. 13.
(3) https://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/efsajournal/pub/4633
(4)–––––––––––– – Resolution of 16 January 2014 on the proposal for a Council decision concerning the placing on the market for cultivation, in accordance with Directive 2001/18/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council, of a maize product (Zea mays L., line 1507) genetically modified for resistance to certain lepidopteran pests (OJ C 482, 23.12.2016, p. 110),Resolution of 16 December 2015 on Commission Implementing Decision (EU) 2015/2279 of 4 December 2015 authorising the placing on the market of products containing, consisting of, or produced from genetically modified maize NK603 × T25 (P8_TA(2015)0456),Resolution of 3 February 2016 on the draft Commission implementing decision authorising the placing on the market of products containing, consisting of, or produced from genetically modified soybean MON 87705 × MON 89788 (P8_TA(2016)0040),Resolution of 3 February 2016 on the draft Commission implementing decision authorising the placing on the market of products containing, consisting of, or produced from genetically modified soybean MON 87708 × MON 89788 (P8_TA(2016)0039),Resolution of 3 February 2016 on the draft Commission implementing decision authorising the placing on the market of products containing, consisting of, or produced from genetically modified soybean FG72 (MST-FGØ72-2) (P8_TA(2016)0038),Resolution of 8 June 2016 on the draft Commission implementing decision authorising the placing on the market of products containing, consisting of, or produced from genetically modified maize Bt11 × MIR162 × MIR604 × GA21, and genetically modified maizes combining two or three of those events (P8_TA(2016)0271),Resolution of 8 June 2016 on the draft Commission implementing decision as regards the placing on the market of a genetically modified carnation (Dianthus caryophyllus L., line SHD-27531-4) (P8_TA(2016)0272),Resolution of 6 October 2016 on the draft Commission implementing decision renewing the authorisation for the placing on the market for cultivation of genetically modified maize MON 810 seeds (P8_TA(2016)0388),Resolution of 6 October 2016 on the draft Commission implementing decision authorising the placing on the market of genetically modified maize MON 810 products (P8_TA(2016)0389),Resolution of 6 October 2016 on the draft Commission implementing decision concerning the placing on the market for cultivation of genetically modified maize Bt11 seeds (P8_TA(2016)0386),Resolution of 6 October 2016 on the draft Commission implementing decision concerning the placing on the market for cultivation of genetically modified maize 1507 seeds (P8_TA(2016)0387),Resolution of 6 October 2016 on the draft Commission implementing decision authorising the placing on the market of products containing, consisting of, or produced from genetically modified cotton 281-24-236 × 3006-210-23 × MON 88913 (P8_TA(2016)0390),Resolution of 5 April 2017 on the draft Commission implementing decision authorising the placing on the market of products containing, consisting of, or produced from genetically modified maize Bt11 × 59122 × MIR604 × 1507 × GA21, and genetically modified maizes combining two, three or four of the events Bt11, 59122, MIR604, 1507 and GA21 pursuant to Regulation (EC) No 1829/2003 of the European parliament and of the Council on genetically modified food and feed (P8_TA(2017)0123).
(5) Available at: https://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/efsajournal/pub/4633
(6) http://www.pan-europe.info/sites/pan-europe.info/files/public/resources/reports/pane-2014-risks-of-herbicide-2-4-d.pdf
(7) Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2015/2033 of 13 November 2015 renewing the approval of the active substance 2,4-D in accordance with Regulation (EC) No 1107/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council concerning the placing of plant protection products on the market, and amending the Annex to Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) No 540/2011 (OJ L 298, 14.11.2015, p. 8).
(8) Bauer-Panskus/Then: Testbiotech comment on EFSA Scientific Opinion on an application by DOW AgroSciences LLC (EFSA-GMO-NL-2010-89) for placing on the market the genetically modified herbicide-tolerant maize DAS-40278- 9, available at: https://www.testbiotech.org/node/1862
(9) See EFSA Register of Questions, Annex G to Question Number EFSA-Q-2010-01326, available online at: http://registerofquestions.efsa.europa.eu/roqFrontend/questionLoader?question=EFSA-Q-2010-01326
(10) e.g. in the Opening Statement at the European Parliament plenary session included in the political guidelines for the next European Commission (Strasbourg, 15 July 2014) or in the State of the Union Address 2016 (Strasbourg, 14 September 2016).
(11) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0379.
(12) OJ L 31, 1.2.2002, p. 1.


Situation in Hungary
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European Parliament resolution of 17 May 2017 on the situation in Hungary (2017/2656(RSP))
P8_TA(2017)0216B8-0295/2017

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Treaty on European Union (TEU), in particular Articles 2, 6 and 7 thereof,

–  having regard to the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, in particular Articles 4, 12, 13, 14, 16, 18 and 21 thereof,

–  having regard to the European Convention on Human Rights and the case-law of the European Court of Human Rights, in particular cases Szabó and Vissy v. Hungary, Karácsony and Others v. Hungary, Magyar Keresztény Mennonita Egyház and Others v. Hungary, Baka v. Hungary, and Ilias and Ahmed v. Hungary,

–  having regard to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and to the numerous United Nations human rights treaties which are binding on all the Member States,

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 11 March 2014 entitled ‘A new EU Framework to strengthen the Rule of Law’ (COM(2014)0158),

–  having regard to its resolutions of 16 December(1) and 10 June 2015(2) on the situation in Hungary, of 3 July 2013 on the situation of fundamental rights: standards and practices in Hungary(3), of 16 February 2012 on the recent political developments in Hungary(4) and of 10 March 2011 on media law in Hungary(5),

–  having regard to the hearing on the situation in Hungary held on 27 February 2017 by its Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs,

–  having regard to the plenary debate on the situation in Hungary of 26 April 2017,

–  having regard to the Rome Declaration of the leaders of 27 Member States and of the European Council, the European Parliament and the European Commission of 25 March 2017,

–  having regard to Act CLXVIII of 2007 on the promulgation of the Lisbon Treaty amending the Treaty on European Union and the Treaty establishing the European Community adopted by the Hungarian National Assembly on 17 December 2007,

–  having regard to Resolution 2162 (2017) of 27 April 2017 of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe entitled ‘Alarming developments in Hungary: draft NGO law restricting civil society and possible closure of the European Central University’,

–  having regard to the statement by the Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights of 8 March 2017 on Hungary’s new law allowing automatic detention of asylum seekers, and his letter to the Speaker of the National Assembly of Hungary of 27 April 2017 with a call to reject the proposed draft law on foreign-funded NGOs,

–  having regard to the Commission’s decision to open infringement proceedings against Hungary concerning the act amending the National Higher Education Act, as well as other pending and forthcoming infringement procedures against Hungary,

–  having regard to the Commission response to the Hungarian National Consultation ‘Stop Brussels’,

–  having regard to the visit of Commissioner Avramopoulos to Hungary on 28 March 2017,

–  having regard to the letter of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs to Vice-President Timmermans requesting the Commission’s opinion on the compliance of the act amending certain acts related to strengthening the procedure conducted in the guarded border area with the provisions of the Union asylum acquis, and as regards the Charter of Fundamental Rights when implementing the measures mentioned in this act,

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

A.  whereas the European Union is founded on the values of respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of people belonging to minorities, and whereas these values are universal and common to the Member States (Article 2 of the TEU);

B.  whereas the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union is part of EU primary law that prohibits discrimination based on any grounds such as sex, race, colour, ethnic or social origin, genetic features, language, religion or belief, political or any other opinion, membership of a national minority, property, birth, disability, age or sexual orientation;

C.  whereas Hungary has been a Member State of the European Union since 2004, and whereas, according to opinion polls, a large majority of Hungarian citizens are in favour of the country’s EU membership;

D.  whereas the Charter provides that the arts and scientific research shall be free of constraint and that academic freedom shall be respected; whereas it also guarantees the freedom to found educational establishments with due respect for democratic principles;

E.  whereas the freedom of association should be protected, and whereas a vibrant civil society sector plays a vital role in promoting public participation in the democratic process and the accountability of governments towards their legal obligations, including the protection of fundamental rights, the environment and anti-corruption;

F.  whereas the right to asylum is guaranteed, with due respect for the rules of the Geneva Convention of 28 July 1951 and the Protocol thereto of 31 January 1967 relating to the status of refugees, and in accordance with the TEU and the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU);

G.  whereas 91,54 % of asylum applications in 2016 were rejected; whereas since 2015 new laws and procedures adopted in Hungary in the field of asylum have forced all asylum seekers to enter Hungary through a transit zone on Hungarian territory that allows access to a limited number of people per day, e.g. 10 at the moment; whereas NGOs have repeatedly reported that migrants at Hungary’s borders are being summarily forced back to Serbia, in some cases with cruel and violent treatment, without consideration of their claims for protection; whereas the Hungarian Government has failed to fulfil its obligations to relocate asylum seekers in accordance with EU law;

H.  whereas the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe has declared that ‘due to sweeping changes introduced in Hungary in asylum law and practice over recent months, asylum seekers returned there run a considerable risk of being subject to human rights violations’ in relation to the written observations he submitted on 17 December 2016 to the European Court of Human Rights regarding two complaints against Austria concerning the transfer of applicants from Austria to Hungary under the Dublin III Regulation;

I.  whereas 11 refugees, referred to as the ‘Röszke 11’, present on 16 September 2016, the day after Hungary closed its border with Serbia, have been charged with committing an act of terror and sentenced to prison, including Ahmed H., a Syrian resident in Cyprus sentenced to 10 years in prison in an unfair trial in November 2016 on the sole grounds of using a megaphone to ease tensions and of throwing three objects at the border police;

J.  whereas since the adoption of its resolution of 16 December 2015, concerns have been raised about a number of issues, namely the use of public spending, attacks against civil society organisations and human rights defenders, the rights of asylum seekers, mass surveillance of citizens, freedom of association, freedom of expression, media pluralism and the closure of the newspaper Népszabadság, Roma rights, including the eviction of Roma in Miskolc and segregation of Roma children in education, LGBTI rights, women’s rights, the judiciary system, including the possibility to hand down a sentence of life imprisonment without parole, the forced eviction of Hungarian NGOs Roma Parliament and Phralipe Independent Gypsy Organisation from their headquarters, and the risk of closure of the Lukács Archives;

K.  whereas the content and the language used in the national consultation ‘Stop Brussels’ – a national consultation on immigration and terrorism and the accompanying advertising campaigns by the government – are highly misleading and biased;

L.  whereas in the case of Szabó and Vissy v. Hungary the European Court of Human Rights ruled that Hungarian legislation on secret anti-terrorist surveillance introduced in 2011 had been a violation of the right to respect for private and family life, the home and correspondence; whereas in the case of Ilias and Ahmed v. Hungary the Court found a violation of the right to liberty and security, the right to have an effective remedy concerning the conditions in the Röszke transit zone and the right to be protected from inhuman or degrading treatment as regards the applicants’ expulsion to Serbia; whereas in the case of Baka v. Hungary the Court ruled that Hungary had violated the right to a fair trial and the freedom of expression of András Baka, the former President of the Hungarian Supreme Court;

M.  whereas the most recent developments in Hungary, namely the act amending certain acts related to increasing the strictness of procedures carried out in the areas of border management and asylum, the act amending the National Higher Education Act, which poses a direct threat to the Central European University and which has triggered large public disapproval, and the proposed Act on the Transparency of Organisations Receiving Support from Abroad (Hungarian Parliament Bill T/14967) have given rise to concerns regarding their compatibility with EU law and the Charter of Fundamental Rights;

1.  Recalls that the values enshrined in Article 2 TEU must be upheld by all EU Member States;

2.  Regrets that the developments in Hungary have led to a serious deterioration of the rule of law, democracy and fundamental rights over the past few years, inter alia, freedom of expression, academic freedom, the human rights of migrants, asylum seekers and refugees, freedom of assembly and association, restrictions and obstructions to the activities of civil society organisations, the right to equal treatment, the rights of people belonging to minorities, including Roma, Jews and LGBTI people, social rights, the functioning of the constitutional system, the independence of the judiciary and of other institutions and many worrying allegations of corruption and conflicts of interest, which, taken together, could represent an emerging systemic threat to the rule of law in this Member State; believes that Hungary is a test for the EU to prove its capacity and willingness to react to threats and breaches of its own founding values by a Member State; notes with concern that developments in some other Member States show worrying signs of similar undermining of the rule of law as in Hungary;

3.  Calls on the Hungarian Government to engage in a dialogue with the Commission on all issues mentioned in this resolution, in particular the human rights of migrants, asylum seekers and refugees, freedom of association, freedom of education and academic research, segregation of Roma in education, and protection of pregnant women in work; reiterates that both sides should engage in such a dialogue in an impartial, evidence-based and cooperative way; calls on the Commission to keep Parliament informed of its assessments;

4.  Expresses its concerns at the latest declarations and initiatives by the Hungarian Government, in particular as regards maintaining the ‘Stop Brussels’ consultation campaign and the investigative measures targeting foreign employees of the Central European University, as well as the statements by the leaders of the ruling party opposing any legislative change addressing the recommendations made by EU institutions and international organisations; regrets that such signals do not demonstrate a clear commitment by the Hungarian authorities to fully ensuring that its actions comply with EU primary and secondary law;

5.  Calls on the Commission to strictly monitor the use of EU funds by the Hungarian Government, in particular in the fields of asylum and migration, public communication, education, social inclusion, and economic development, so as to ensure that any co-financed project is fully compliant with both EU primary and secondary law;

6.  Calls on the Hungarian Government in the meantime to repeal the act amending certain acts related to increasing the strictness of procedures carried out in the areas of border management and asylum and the act amending the National Higher Education Act, and to withdraw the proposed Act on the Transparency of Organisations Receiving Support from Abroad (Hungarian Parliament Bill T/14967);

7.  Urges the Hungarian Government to immediately suspend all deadlines in the act amending the National Higher Education Act, to start immediate dialogue with the relevant US authorities in order to guarantee the future operations of the Central European University issuing US-accredited degrees, and to make a public commitment that the university can remain in Budapest as a free institution;

8.  Regrets that the Commission did not respond to Parliament’s call to activate its EU framework to strengthen the rule of law, as contained in its resolutions of 10 June 2015 and 16 December 2015 on the situation in Hungary, in order to prevent, through a dialogue with the Member State concerned, an emerging systemic threat to the rule of law from escalating further; takes the view that the current approach taken by the Commission focuses mainly on marginal, technical aspects of the legislation while ignoring the trends, patterns and combined effect of measures on the rule of law and fundamental rights; believes that infringement proceedings, in particular, have failed in most cases to lead to real changes and to address the situation more broadly;

9.  Believes that the current situation in Hungary represents a clear risk of a serious breach of the values referred to in Article 2 of the TEU and warrants the launch of the Article 7(1) TEU procedure;

10.  Instructs its Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs therefore to initiate the proceedings and draw up a specific report with a view to holding a plenary vote on a reasoned proposal calling on the Council to act pursuant to Article 7(1) of the TEU, in accordance with Rule 83 of its Rules of Procedure;

11.  Reiterates the need for a regular process of monitoring and dialogue involving all Member States in order to safeguard the EU’s fundamental values of democracy, fundamental rights and the rule of law, involving the Council, the Commission and Parliament, as put forward in its resolution of 25 October 2016 on the establishment of an EU mechanism on democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights(6) (DRF Pact) and also to avoid double standards;

12.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Commission and the Council, to the President, Government and Parliament of Hungary, and to the governments and parliaments of the Member States and the Council of Europe.

(1) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0461.
(2) OJ C 407, 4.11.2016, p. 46.
(3) OJ C 75, 26.2.2016, p. 52.
(4) OJ C 249 E, 30.8.2013, p. 27.
(5) OJ C 199 E, 7.7.2012, p. 154.
(6) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0409.


European Qualifications Framework for lifelong learning
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European Parliament resolution of 17 May 2017 on the European Qualifications Framework for lifelong learning (2016/2798(RSP))
P8_TA(2017)0217B8-0298/2017

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the proposal for a Council recommendation on the European Qualification Framework for lifelong learning and repealing the recommendation of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 April 2008 on the establishment of the European Qualifications Framework for lifelong learning (COM(2016)0383),

–   having regard to the Commission communication of 10 June 2016 on a New Skills Agenda for Europe (COM(2016)0381),

–  having regard to the recommendation of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 April 2008 on the establishment of the European Qualifications Framework for lifelong learning(1),

–  having regard to Decision No 2241/2004/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 December 2004 on a single Community framework for the transparency of qualifications and competences (Europass)(2), through which people can present their skills and qualifications,

–  having regard to the new priorities for European cooperation in education and training through to 2020, as established by the 2015 Joint Report of the Council and the Commission on the implementation of the strategic framework for European cooperation in education and training (ET 2020)(3),

–  having regard to the Council recommendation of 20 December 2012 on the validation of non-formal and informal learning(4),

–   having regard to the Eurydice Overview on Recognition of Prior Non-Formal and Informal Learning in Higher Education,

–  having regard to the multilingual European Classification of Skills, Competences, Qualifications and Occupations (ESCO), which, together with the European Qualifications Framework (EQF), will use a common format for the electronic publication of information on qualifications, as set out in Annex VI to the proposal,

–  having regard to the recommendation of the European Parliament and of the Council of 18 June 2009 on the establishment of a European Quality Assurance Reference Framework for Vocational Education and Training(5) (EQAVET),

–  having regard to the independent European Quality Assurance Register for Higher Education(6), a list of quality assurance agencies that have demonstrated their substantial compliance with the Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance in the European Higher Education Area (ESG),

–  having regard to the European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS)(7) developed in the context of the European Higher Education Area and the European Credit System for Vocational Education and Training (ECVET) established through the Recommendation of the European Parliament and of the Council of 18 June 2009(8),

–  having regard to the Bologna Process for Higher Education, the 2015 Yerevan Ministerial Communiqué and the ‘European Higher Education Area in 2015: Bologna process implementation report’,

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 1288/2013 of the European Parliament and the Council of 11 December 2013 establishing Erasmus+: the Union Programme for education training, youth and sport(9),

–  having regard to the Council of Europe Convention on the Recognition of Qualifications concerning Higher Education in the European Region (the Lisbon Recognition Convention) and the Recommendation on the use of qualifications frameworks in the recognition of foreign qualifications, which refers explicitly to the EQF as a tool to be used in academic recognition,

–   having regard to the strategy ‘Widening Participation for Equity and Growth: A Strategy for the Development of the Social Dimension and Lifelong Learning in the European Higher Education Area to 2020’, which covers all countries participating in the EQF,

–   having regard to the 2015 UNESCO report on Recognition, Validation and Accreditation of Non-formal and Informal Learning in UNESCO Member States,

–  having regard to Directive 2005/36/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 7 September 2005 on the recognition of professional qualifications(10), as amended by Directive 2013/55/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 November 2013(11),

–  having regard to the question to the Commission on the European Qualification Framework for lifelong learning (O-000038/2017 – B8-0218/2017),

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

A.  whereas a proper recognition, understanding and evaluation of skills extends beyond the realms of what is sought after by the labour market; whereas the skills that are available and in demand on the labour market would benefit from an EQF which can identify and match those skills and thus provide social and economic benefits; whereas it is fundamental to help individuals to acquire and refresh competencies and skills throughout the course of their lives;

B.  whereas greater comparability of qualifications increases the possibility of employment and professional growth for all migrant workers;

C.  whereas focus should be placed on ICT skills, and structural measures should be introduced to help people acquire and validate these skills;

D.  whereas, by taking account of the new challenges that society poses and of technological and demographic change, the EQF, through the process of its further development, can support lifelong learning in both supporting equal opportunities and educational justice, and improving the permeability between the education and training systems; whereas education and training should help people to adapt to whatever circumstances they may face by upskilling and educating them holistically, so that they become critical, confident and independent, and also acquire the skills that are needed for the 21st century;

E.  whereas the continuous development of knowledge, skills and competences – also known as lifelong learning – can contribute to improving people’s individual work and life choices and help people achieve personal development and reach their full potential, thus bringing benefits for society, as well as improving people’s chances of finding a job and safeguarding their careers;

F.  whereas one of the goals of the EQF is to facilitate comparison between education systems and thus provide an impetus for change and reforms at national and sectoral level, with a view to achieving the objectives of the Europe 2020 strategy and the ET 2020 framework;

G.  whereas owing to Member States’ lack of ambition, and despite the engagement demonstrated so far, a lack of transparency of qualifications and a low foreign qualification recognition rate still persist; whereas adjustments to the EQF are required in order to make qualifications even more transparent and comparable;

H.  whereas the EQF should provide a meta-framework for users and facilitate cooperation between Member States’ authorities, social partners, education and training providers, trade unions, civil society, and other stakeholders at international level;

I.  whereas only the Netherlands and Sweden have specific procedures in place in their NQFs for the inclusion of non-formal qualifications; whereas no Member State has specific procedures for informal learning within its NQF;

J.  whereas Member States should, as soon as possible but no later than 2018, put in place arrangements, in line with the EQF, for validating non-formal and informal learning linked to NQFs, including skills gained during volunteering activities;

K.  whereas Member States specifically committed, in the 2015 Yerevan communiqué, to review national legislations with a view to fully complying with the Lisbon Recognition Convention, and to review their NQFs with a view to ensuring that learning paths within a given framework adequately provide for the recognition of prior learning;

L.  whereas it is the responsibility and exclusive competence of Member States to guarantee the quality of teaching content and to organise education systems; whereas the EQF has no bearing on this responsibility;

M.  whereas there are currently disparities between regions, particularly cross-border regions, in the recognition of certificates, and this is giving rise to differences in employability;

N.  whereas libraries, both public and private, make a significant contribution to lifelong learning and improvement of literacy and digital skills;

O.  whereas currently a total of 39 countries participate in the EQF, comprising: the EU Member States, EEA countries, EU candidate countries, potential candidate countries (Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo) and Switzerland;

1.  Acknowledges the Commission’s initiative on revising the EQF and further supporting the modernisation of the European education and training systems, while still respecting national competencies and guaranteeing that the distinctive traits of Member States’ education systems are safeguarded;

2.  Points out that the promotion of critical thinking and thinking outside the box is crucial for developing new skills that will be needed in the future;

3.  Recommends safeguarding the rich set of not only technical but also manual skills that have been handed down and have enabled the development and growth of artisan production sectors, which must be preserved as a way of safeguarding the individual identity of each Member State;

4.  Notes that one of the roles of the EQF is to increase the comparability of qualifications attained in Member States while safeguarding the specific features of national education systems;

5.  Points out that the Union should make it possible, regardless of age or status, to make everyone’ skills and competences, including those gained through volunteering, more visible, and better appreciated and recognised in a clear and accessible manner, in particular in cross-border areas, no matter where or how those skills and competences have been acquired; highlights the need for the Member States to make greater efforts towards the speedier and more effective recognition of qualifications and referencing of the relevant EQF level;

6.  Recalls the need to emphasise implementation of the EQF in order to boost the framework’s quality and potential;

7.  Recommends greater flexibility as regards keeping the referencing of the national framework with the EQF up to date;

8.  Recalls that one of the main tasks of the EQF is to facilitate and promote the transfer of qualifications and the validation of formal and informal training and education between different education and training systems, in order to enable transnational professional and learning mobility, to address the mismatch on the European labour market, and to better meet the personal needs of citizens and society at large;

9.  Calls on the Commission to consider whether the three horizontal areas (knowledge, skills and competences) should be revised further in order to make them more comprehensible and clear; calls for the 2006 European Key Competence Framework to be used as a valuable resource and as the main reference document in order to achieve more coherence in terminology between the different EU frameworks and ultimately bring about a genuine learning outcome approach;

10.  Points out the importance of analysing and developing tools for anticipating future skill needs; therefore encourages the Member States and all relevant stakeholders, such as employers, to share good practice in this regard;

11.  Underlines the importance of training schemes and apprenticeships in shaping skills; stresses, therefore, the need to promote dual education systems in the Member States which combine apprenticeships at companies and education at vocational establishments; recalls that employers and entrepreneurs play a crucial role in training in the workplace and in providing apprenticeships, and takes the view that their role should be further supported and developed;

12.  Recommends that the EQF be sufficiently related to the needs of society, including the demands of the labour market, in order to improve the competitiveness of the European economy and to help individuals develop their potential, with a view to achieving the Europe 2020 objectives;

13.  Underlines the need to harness the possibilities of the EQF fully in order to stimulate and facilitate the mobility of students and workers within the EU, thus promoting lifelong learning and encouraging the development of a mobile and flexible workforce throughout Europe at a time of economic challenge and market globalisation;

14.  Stresses the fact that a number of Member States are still in the early stages of implementing their individual NQF, based on the eight levels of the EQF; calls on the Commission to encourage Member States to ensure that this process is further implemented;

15.  Highlights the importance of the ESCO initiative, which identifies and categorises, in 25 languages, skills, competences, qualifications and occupations relevant for the EU labour market and education and training;

16.  Calls for strong support for and promotion of common European principles on providing and swiftly validating and recognising non-formal and informal learning processes, as this is especially important for the inclusion of ‘atypical’ learners; outlines, in this context, the increasing number of industry-based training sessions which should be included in the validation process, and stresses the need to devote particular attention to the certifications of the elderly, people with disabilities, the long-term unemployed, older workers and other groups; encourages the Commission to evaluate whether ECVET credits can be used to validate and recognise informal and non-formal learning; believes that no devaluation of formal accomplishments will occur;

17.  Stresses the need for a better coordination between the EQF and other existing recognition and transparency tools such as ECVET, ECTS and Europass, with the support of quality assurance systems, to create synergies and increase efficiency of the transparency tools;

18.  Recommends that the Commission develop a self-evaluation tool for employers to ensure a more efficient use of the EQF; encourages employers to think critically about the levels of skills and qualifications needed for employment;

19.  Stresses the potential risks involved with defining learning outcomes in the EQF in terms of impact on curricula; emphasises the importance of the diversity of education systems in the EU and participating countries;

20.  Calls on the remaining Member States to swiftly link their NQFs to the EQF; urges a swifter pace in order to remove all remaining barriers to recognition;

21.  Recommends that the Commission re-evaluate the costs of improving the EQF, as no additional costs are envisaged at present; is concerned that the scope of the work for revising the EQF is underestimated;

22.  Urges the Member States to implement social dimension strategies for their education and training systems in order to boost support for equal opportunities, improve educational justice, combat inequality and ensure better permeability between the education and training systems; urges the Commission to support the Member States in doing so;

23.  Calls on the Commission to reconsider its promotion of performance-based funding in vocational education and training and higher education as well as in tuition fees within the framework of the modernisation agenda, in order to safeguard the social role of education and training systems and ensure access to qualifications;

24.  Urges the Commission to clarify the expected respective roles of ECVET and ECTS, in order to ensure increased transparency of the revision vis-à-vis stakeholders;

25.  Calls on the Commission and Member States to pay special attention to the commitment to include informal and non-formal learning methods which are currently excluded from the majority of NQFs and subsequently the EQF, especially informal learning, which is entirely excluded at present;

26.  Stresses the need for a better understanding of qualifications awarded outside the EU with a view to their validation and recognition and in order to foster the integration of migrants and refugees into European society, the EU labour market, and education and training systems in the EU; welcomes, in this context, the recommendation establishing the foundations for relationships between third-country national and regional qualification frameworks, Member State NQFs and the EQF, particularly the option of structured dialogues with EU neighbourhood countries that have an association agreement with the EU, thereby possibly serving to strengthen their NQFs with the EQF and the EU and bolster support (e.g. through development aid) to third countries for the purpose of developing NQFs;

27.  Acknowledges that it is in the interests of third countries to use the EQF as a point of reference for their own qualification systems and for the EQF to be revised in order to simplify the formal comparison of qualifications acquired in third countries with those acquired in the EU;

28.  Insists that the relevant stakeholders, such as public employment services, social partners, education and training providers and civil society, should be further involved and closely cooperate in the creation, implementation, promotion and monitoring of the EQF at EU and national level in order to ensure its broader support;

29.  Believes that an instrument such as the EQF requires constant updating and adjustment, and should thus be supported and improved by regular monitoring, in particular as regards its user-friendliness, permeability and transparency; stresses that the EQF will only be a success if Member States truly commit to implementing and using it;

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

(1) OJ C 111, 6.5.2008, p. 1.
(2) OJ L 390, 31.12.2004, p. 6.
(3) OJ C 417, 15.12.2015, p. 25.
(4) OJ C 398, 22.12.2012, p. 1.
(5) OJ C 155, 8.7.2009, p. 1.
(6) https://www.eqar.eu
(7) http://ec.europa.eu/education/library/publications/2015/ects-users-guide_en.pdf
(8) OJ C 155, 8.7.2009, p. 11.
(9) OJ L 347, 20.12.2013, p. 50
(10) OJ L 255, 30.9.2005, p. 22.
(11) OJ L 354, 28.12.2013, p. 132.

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