Index 
Texts adopted
Tuesday, 4 July 2017 - StrasbourgFinal edition
Appointment of a Member of the European Commission
 EU-Kosovo Framework Agreement on the general principles for the participation of Kosovo in Union programmes ***
 Mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund: application EGF/2017/001 ES/Castilla y León mining
 European Standards for the 21st century
 Towards a pan-European covered bonds framework
 The role of fisheries-related tourism in the diversification of fisheries
 Limitation periods for traffic accidents
 Common minimum standards of civil procedure
 Macro-financial assistance to the Republic of Moldova ***I
 Disclosure of income tax information by certain undertakings and branches ***I
 Introduction of temporary autonomous trade measures for Ukraine ***I
 Draft amending budget n° 2 to the General budget 2017 entering the surplus of the financial year 2016
 A longer lifetime for products: benefits for consumers and companies
 Addressing human rights violations in the context of war crimes, and crimes against humanity, including genocide
 Private Security Companies
 Working conditions and precarious employment

Appointment of a Member of the European Commission
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European Parliament decision of 4 July 2017 approving the appointment of Mariya Gabriel as a Member of the Commission (C8-0166/2017 - 2017/0805(NLE))
P8_TA(2017)0275

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the second paragraph of Article 246 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

–  having regard to Article 106a of the Treaty establishing the European Atomic Energy Community,

–  having regard to point 6 of the Framework Agreement on relations between the European Parliament and the European Commission(1),

–  having regard to the resignation of Kristalina Georgieva as a Member of the Commission,

–  having regard to the Council's letter of 29 May 2017, whereby the Council consulted Parliament on a decision, to be taken by common accord with the President of the Commission, on the appointment of Mariya Gabriel as a Member of the Commission (C8-0166/2017),

–  having regard to the hearing of Mariya Gabriel on 20 June 2017, led by the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy and the Committee on Culture and Education, with the association of the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection, the Committee on Legal Affairs and the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, and to the statement of evaluation drawn up following that hearing;

–  having regard to Rule 118 of, and Annex VI to, its Rules of Procedure,

1.  Approves the appointment of Mariya Gabriel as a Member of the Commission for the remainder of the Commission’s term of office until 31 October 2019;

2.  Instructs its President to forward this decision to the Council, the Commission and the governments of the Member States.

(1) OJ L 304, 20.11.2010, p. 47.


EU-Kosovo Framework Agreement on the general principles for the participation of Kosovo in Union programmes ***
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European Parliament legislative resolution of 4 July 2017 on the draft Council decision on the conclusion of a Framework Agreement between the European Union and Kosovo(1) on the general principles for the participation of Kosovo in Union programmes (13391/2016 – C8-0491/2016 – 2013/0115(NLE))
P8_TA(2017)0276A8-0207/2017

(Consent)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the draft Council decision (13391/2016),

–  having regard to the draft Framework Agreement between the European Union and Kosovo(2) on the general principles for the participation of Kosovo in Union programmes (13393/2016),

–  having regard to the request for consent submitted by the Council in accordance with Article 212 and Article 218(6), second subparagraph, point (a), and Article 218(7) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (C8‑0491/2016),

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

–  having regard to the recommendation of the Committee on Foreign Affairs (A8-0207/2017),

1.  Gives its consent to conclusion of the agreement;

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

(1)* This designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UNSCR 1244(1999) and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo declaration of independence.
(2)* This designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UNSCR 1244(1999) and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo declaration of independence.


Mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund: application EGF/2017/001 ES/Castilla y León mining
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Resolution
Annex
European Parliament resolution of 4 July 2017 on the proposal for a decision of the European Parliament and of the Council on mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (application from Spain EGF/2017/001 ES/Castilla y León mining) (COM(2017)0266 – C8-0174/2017 – 2017/2079(BUD))
P8_TA(2017)0277A8-0248/2017

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Commission proposal to the European Parliament and the Council (COM(2017)0266 – C8‑0174/2017),

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

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

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

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

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

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgets (A8-0248/2017),

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

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

C.  whereas the adoption of the EGF Regulation reflects the agreement reached between the Parliament and the Council to reintroduce the crisis mobilisation criterion, to set the Union financial contribution to 60 % of the total estimated cost of proposed measures, to increase efficiency for the treatment of EGF applications in the Commission and by the Parliament and the Council by shortening the time for assessment and approval, to widen eligible actions and beneficiaries by introducing self-employed persons and young people and to finance incentives for setting up own businesses;

D.  whereas Spain submitted application EGF/2017/001 ES/Castilla y León for a financial contribution from the EGF, following redundancies in the economic sector classified under the NACE Revision 2 Division 5 (Mining of coal and lignite) in the NUTS level 2 region of Castilla y León (ES41), and whereas 339 redundant workers, as well as up to 125 young people not in employment, education or training (NEETs) under the age of 30, are expected to participate in the measures; whereas the redundancies were made by Hullera Vasco Leonesa SA, Centro de Investigación y Desarrollo SA, Hijos de Baldomero García SA, Minas del Bierzo Alto SL and Unión Minera del Norte SA;

E.  whereas the application was submitted under the intervention criteria set out in Article 4(2) of the EGF Regulation, derogating from the eligibility criteria set out in Article 4(1)(b), which requires that at least 500 workers are made redundant over a reference period of nine months in enterprises operating in the same economic sector defined at NACE Revision 2 Division level and located in one region or two contiguous regions defined at NUTS 2 level;

1.  Agrees with the Commission that the conditions set out in Article 4(2) of the EGF Regulation are met and that, therefore, Spain is entitled to a financial contribution of EUR 1 002 264 under that Regulation, which represents 60 % of the total cost of EUR 1 670 440;

2.  Notes that the Spanish authorities submitted the application for a financial contribution from the EGF on 20 January 2017, and that its assessment was finalised by the Commission on 2 June 2017 and notified to Parliament the same day;

3.  Recalls that over the last 10 years coal production in the Union and the global price of coal have fallen sharply, resulting in an increasing volume of coal imports from non-EU countries and many Union coal mines becoming unprofitable and being forced to close down; points out that those trends have been even more pronounced in Spain, leading to a reorganisation and reconversion of the coal mining sector; stresses that employment in the region of Castilla y León has been seriously affected by the impact of the crisis in the mining sector and points out that ten coal mining enterprises had to close in Castilla y León alone over the period 2010 to2016;

4.  Notes that Spain requested that a derogation from Article 4(1)(b) be made on the grounds that the territory affected by the redundancies consists of a number of small, isolated towns in the remote, sparsely populated Cantabrian mountain valley, which are, for the most part, highly dependent on coal mining and which suffer from limited connectivity, and can thus be considered a small labour market under Article 4(2);

5.  Highlights, in particular, the very low population density, the problems associated with mountainous terrain and the difficult employment situation in the North of the provinces of León and Palencia; expresses concern about the sharp decline in population, which has been proportionally greatest amongst those under 25;

6.  Points out that the financial contribution will target 339 workers made redundant, 97% of whom are men;

7.  Welcomes Spain’s decision to provide up to 125 NEETs under the age of 30 with personalised services co-financed by the EGF; understands that those services will include support to those interested in creating their own business;

8.  Notes that the measures will be guided by a study to be carried out on job creation and productive activities in the region of Castilla y León, in order to better define the initiatives referred to in the package;

9.  Notes that Spain is planning six types of measures for the redundant workers and NEETs covered by this application: (i) welcome and information sessions, (ii) occupational guidance and counselling, (iii) intensive job-search assistance, (iv) training in cross-sector skills and competences, and vocational training, (v) promotion of entrepreneurship, and (vi) support for business start-ups, as well as a programme of incentives;

10.  Notes that the incentives will correspond to 19,53 % of the overall package of personalised measures, well below the maximum 35 % set out in the EGF Regulation; and that those actions are conditional on the active participation of the targeted beneficiaries in job-search or training activities;

11.  Notes that the training courses provided will include workshops on job-search techniques, training in personal and social skills, in information and communication technologies (ICT), and in foreign languages while vocational training will focus on either enhancing mining-related skills that may be relevant to other economic sectors or developing skills for sectors such as: tourism and hospitality in rural areas; environmental restoration of mining basins; reforestation and landscaping;

12.  Welcomes the fact that consultations with stakeholders, including trade unions, business associations, the regional agency for economic development, innovation, financing and business internationalisation and a public foundation attached to the regional public employment service, took place at the regional level to draw up the co-ordinated package of personalised services, and that the policy of equality between women and men, as well as the principle of non-discrimination will be applied in order to access the measures funded by the EGF and during its implementation;

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

14.  Welcomes the inclusion of contributions to the expenses for carers of dependent persons amongst the available incentives in view of the likely positive impact on gender balance; calls on the Commission to present detailed information on the use that is made of this possibility;

15.  Recalls the need for the swift transformation of Union economies and the fostering of relevant jobs in the light of the Paris COP 21 agreement;

16.  Notes the importance of launching an information campaign in order to reach the NEETs who could be eligible under these measures, ensuring gender balance wherever possible;

17.  Calls on the Commission to provide more details, in future proposals, on the sectors which have growth prospects and are therefore likely to hire people, as well as to gather substantiated data on the impact of the EGF funding, including on the quality of jobs and the reintegration rate achieved through the EGF;

18.  Notes that the Spanish authorities have confirmed that the eligible actions do not receive assistance from other Union financial instruments, and that any double financing will be prevented and that eligible actions will be complementary to actions funded by the structural funds;

19.  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 measures for restructuring companies or sectors;

20.  Welcomes the fact that the intervention plan will include a monitoring initiative in which the social actors should be able to participate, the purpose of which is to guarantee that the proposal is implemented in accordance with the recommendations of a study, to be carried out as part of the actions included in the initiative, concerning vocational training demands and activity opportunities, as well as to guarantee the sound management of the budget provided for;

21.  Recalls its appeal to the Commission to assure public access to all the documents related to EGF cases;

22.  Approves the decision annexed to this resolution;

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

24.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution, including its Annex, to the Council and the Commission.

ANNEX

DECISION OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL

on the mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund following an application from Spain – EGF/2017/001 ES/Castilla y León mining

(The text of this annex is not reproduced here since it corresponds to the final act, Decision (EU) 2017/1372.)

(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.


European Standards for the 21st century
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European Parliament resolution of 4 July 2017 on European standards for the 21st century (2016/2274(INI))
P8_TA(2017)0278A8-0213/2017

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 1025/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 October 2012 on European standardisation, amending Council Directives 89/686/EEC and 93/15/EEC and Directives 94/9/EC, 94/25/EC, 95/16/EC, 97/23/EC, 98/34/EC, 2004/22/EC, 2007/23/EC, 2009/23/EC and 2009/105/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council and repealing Council Decision 87/95/EEC and Decision No 1673/2006/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council,

–   having regard to Directive (EU) 2016/1148 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 6 July 2016 concerning measures for a high common level of security of network and information systems across the Union (the NIS Directive),

–  having regard to the report from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council of 1 June 2016 on the implementation of Regulation (EU) No 1025/2012 from 2013 to 2015’ (COM(2016)0212),

–  having regard to the Commission staff working document of 1 June 2016 entitled ‘Analysis of the implementation of Regulation (EU) No 1025/2012 from 2013 to 2015 and factsheets’ (SWD(2016)0126),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 1 June 2016 entitled ‘European standards for the 21st century’ (COM(2016)0358),

–  having regard to the Commission staff working document of 1 June 2016 entitled ‘Tapping the potential of European service standards to help Europe’s consumers and businesses’ (SWD(2016)0186),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 1 June 2016 entitled ‘The annual Union work programme for European standardisation for 2017’ (COM(2016)0357),

–  having regard to the Commission staff working document of 1 June 2016 entitled ‘The implementation of the actions foreseen in the 2016 Union work programme for European standardisation, including the implementing acts and mandates sent to the European standardisation organisations’ (SWD(2016)0185),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 19 April 2016 entitled ‘ICT Standardisation Priorities for the Digital Single Market’ (COM(2016)0176),

–  having regard to the Joint Initiative on Standardisation under the Single Market Strategy, as referred to in the Commission communication of 28 October 2015 entitled ‘Upgrading the Single Market: more opportunities for people and business’ (COM(2015)0550),

–  having regard to its resolution of 21 October 2010 on the future of European standardisation(1),

–  having regard to the opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee entitled ‘European standards for the 21st Century’,

–  having regard to the opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee entitled ‘European standardisation 2016’,

–   having regard to the Commission’s open source software strategy 2014-2017(2),

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection and the opinions of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy and the Committee on Transport and Tourism (A8-0213/2017),

A.  whereas the European standardisation system is a central element in the delivery of the single market; whereas the Commission’s action setting out a common vision for European standardisation is a direct outcome of the Juncker Commission’s ten priorities and, in particular, the priorities relating to the Connected Digital Single Market and the Single Market Strategy;

B.  whereas an open, inclusive, transparent and primarily market-driven European standardisation system based on trust and proper compliance plays a key role in responding positively to the increasing need, in European industrial, economic, social, and environmental policy and legislation, for standards capable of contributing to product safety, innovation, interoperability, sustainability and accessibility for people with disabilities, and of improving the quality of life of citizens, consumers and workers;

C.  whereas an efficient European standardisation system should be based on close partnership and cooperation between industry, public authorities, standardisation bodies, and other interested parties such as the Annex III organisations recognised under Regulation (EU) No 1025/2012;

D.  whereas European standards need to be developed in an open, inclusive and transparent system, based on consensus among all stakeholders, with the aim of defining strategic technical or quality requirements with which current or future products, production processes, services or methods may comply;

E.  whereas the Commission communication on ICT Standardisation Priorities for the Digital Single Market acknowledges the value of open standards, but does not provide a definition of an open standard; whereas open standards have proven important to the creation and development of the internet and of internet services that have in turn fostered innovation, societal, and economic prospects;

F.  whereas the use of open source software and hardware licensing solutions should and may help European companies and administrations secure better access to digital goods and services;

G.  whereas a modern and flexible European standardisation system is a useful component for an ambitious and renewed European industrial policy and for the operation of the single market; whereas standards can enhance the EU’s global competitiveness, growth, fair competition and innovation, support quality, businesses, and, in particular, SMEs’ performance and the protection of consumers, workers and the environment;

H.  whereas two different standards development systems coexist in Europe, namely one based on the national delegation principle as implemented by the European Committee for Standardisation (CEN) and the European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardisation (CENELEC), and another based on the paid membership of stakeholders as developed by the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI); whereas there is a need to evaluate the standards development systems relating to Regulation (EU) No 1025/2012 with a view to identifying existing challenges and good practices;

I.  whereas Regulation (EU) No 1025/2012 has brought improvements to the standardisation process by integrating, for the first time, societal stakeholders and SMEs under the legal basis of the European standardisation system;

J.  whereas ICT standards, which are predominantly developed at a global level, make it possible to develop interoperable solutions for complementary products and for the various parts of a particular product, which is particularly important for the development of the ‘internet of things’ (IoT); whereas fragmentation of standards and proprietary or semi-closed solutions hinder the growth and take-up of IoT, and it is therefore necessary to develop a strategic approach to ICT standardisation in order to ensure a successful response to the needs of the forthcoming decade, thereby allowing the EU to maintain a leading role in the global standardisation system;

K.  whereas the publication of documents and data fulfils governmental responsibilities and transparency goals, including accountability, reproducibility, sustainability, and reliability of governmental action; whereas when documents or data are published it must be on the basis of open and standardised formats, so as to avoid ‘lock-in’ situations where a software product or a vendor might no longer be commercially available, and so that independent entities are able to implement those formats under diverse development and business models, including open source, in such a way as to ensure the continuity of government and administrative processes;

L.  whereas the transport sector has been at the forefront of the development and deployment of standards that are necessary for the creation of the Single European Transport Area;

General considerations

1.  Welcomes the overarching Commission standardisation package, which, alongside the ICT Standards Communication and the Joint Initiative on Standardisation, aims at setting out a coherent and simple European standardisation policy with a view to preserving its many successful elements, improving its shortcomings and striking the right balance between the European, national and international dimensions; stresses that any future review of the European standardisation system (ESS) should build on the strengths of the existing system, which constitute a solid basis for improvement, refraining from any radical changes that would undermine its core values;

2.  Acknowledges the specificity and importance of the ESS from the viewpoint of all stakeholders, including industry, SMEs, consumers and workers, and calls on the Commission to ensure that the European system continues to exist and that it maintains sufficient resources to fulfil the objectives of Regulation (EU) No 1025/2012, thus contributing inter alia to interoperability, legal certainty and the application of appropriate safeguards, for business and consumers and for the free movement of information technology; calls on the Commission to guarantee a sustainable budget for the ESS in the revision of the multiannual financial framework (MFF);

3.  Welcomes the Standards Market Relevance Roundtable (SMARRT) under the Joint Initiative on Standardisation, which enables dialogue between the Commission and industry, with full transparency for stakeholders as regards agenda items of the Committee of Standards;

4.  Notes that standards are a voluntary, market-driven tool providing technical requirements and guidance the use of which facilitates compliance of goods and services with European legislation and supports European policies when they are developed in an accountable, transparent and inclusive way; stresses, however, that standards cannot be seen as EU law, since legislation and policies regarding the level of consumer, health, safety, environment and data protection and the level of social inclusion are determined by the legislator;

5.  Recognises the role of open, standardised formats for transparency duty of governments, administration, and the European institutions; calls on the Member States to try applying common standards with regard to digital administration, focusing in particular on judicial bodies and local authorities; stresses that open standards are essential to the further development of open government data and smart cities policies, and that documents and data must therefore be published in open, standardised formats that can be easily implemented, so that the reuse of data is facilitated; highlights the role of public procurement and open standards solutions in avoiding vendor lock-in;

6.  Believes strongly that open data remains an essential element, particularly in the transport sector, for reaping all the benefits of the Digital Single Market, such as the promotion and development of multimodal transport; stresses, therefore, that more legal certainty, mainly in terms of ownership and responsibility, is required; calls on the Commission accordingly to publish, without further delay, a roadmap for the development of standards aimed at the harmonisation of publicly funded transport data and programming interfaces in order to boost data-intensive innovations and the provision of new transport services;

7.  Stresses that the current system of accreditation of testing institutions does not always guarantee that the products and services on the market voluntarily applying European standards are compliant with those standards; regrets that the Joint Initiative on Standardisation (JIS) and the Annual Union Work Programme for European standardisation (AUWP) pay no attention to the accreditation of testing institutions and standards, and calls on the Commission to take this aspect into account when proposing new initiatives;

8.  Is of the opinion that open standards must be based on openness of the standardisation process and development and availability of standards for implementation and use, in accordance with Regulation (EU) No 1025/2012 and the WTO principles; acknowledges the Commission’s intention, as expressed in the roadmap on Standard Essential Patents, to clarify issues related to FRAND and SEPs licensing; encourages the Commission, together with the European standardisation organisations (ESOs) and the open source communities, to explore suitable ways of working together;

9.  Stresses that the European standardisation system must contribute to European innovation, enhance the Union’s competitiveness, strengthen Europe’s place in international trade and benefit the welfare of its citizens; deems it important, therefore, that Europe should uphold its key role in the international standardisation system, and stresses the importance of promoting European standards at a global level when negotiating trade agreements with third countries; underlines that the European standardisation system can also benefit from partnership agreements established by ESOs with standardisation organisations from third countries, and notes that Articles 13 and 14 of Regulation (EU) No 1025/2012 already envisage the involvement of numerous Standards Developing Organisations (SDOs) for public procurement in the ICT field; recommends that the ESOs consider closer cooperation with third-country National Standardisation Bodies (NSBs), including Companion Standardisation Bodies, where possibilities exist for close alignment; encourages the Commission, Member States and ESOs to continue to work towards the creation of global standards, whilst also paying attention to the regional context and the relevance of the standard when getting involved in standardisation work;

10.  Stresses that international cooperation on standards helps ensure transparency, efficiency and coherence, and creates a competition-friendly context for the industrial sector, a good example being the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) World Forum for Harmonisation of Vehicle Regulations (WP.29), which was set up for the ICT sector;

11.  Stresses that standards which are adopted by international organisations are usually developed outside the scope of Regulation (EU) No 1025/2012, and recommends the ESOs to endorse them only after an internal approval process involving representation of stakeholders, such as Annex III organisations, especially for harmonised standards supporting the implementation of European legislation;

12.  Is of the opinion that the ESOs should in all circumstances develop inclusive, sustainable, safe and high-quality standards with fair access for and treatment of all stakeholders as well as minimised impact on the environment and adequate protection of personal data and privacy;

13.  Considers Commission and Member State involvement with EU industry to be a crucial means of facilitating the adoption of global standards with a European stamp in the definition and rolling out of 5G technologies;

14.  Regrets the fact that differences between national standards, such as those in the freight and logistics sector, remain a barrier to the internal market, and therefore calls on the Commission and the ESOs to develop appropriate standards for harmonising conditions at national level whenever deemed necessary, with a view to removing any possible barriers to the internal market; underlines the need to seek a cross-modal harmonisation of standards in this respect;

15.  Points out, moreover, that in addition to preventing market fragmentation, standardisation can contribute significantly to reducing administrative burdens and transport costs for all businesses (e.g. via e-documents) and for SMEs in particular, and can facilitate the proper enforcement of EU legislation (e.g. via digital tachographs or electronic toll systems);

16.  Notes that Regulation (EU) No 1025/2012 has improved the inclusiveness of the ESS, enabling SMEs, consumers, workers and environmental organisations to participate actively in the standardisation process, and encourages continuing in this direction so that all are adequately represented and can participate in the standardisation system and, therefore, exploit to the full the benefits derived from standardisation; calls on the Commission, ESOs and NSBs to identify the best ways to achieve this objective and to address the challenges, including lack of awareness, facing further involvement;

17.  Welcomes the efforts made by ETSI to provide easy access for European SMEs, as well as its long-term strategy for 2016-2021 for addressing specifically cross-sectoral collaboration;

18.  Acknowledges that the delivery speed of standards has improved, and recalls the importance of striking the right balance between the need to ensure timely development and the need for standards to be of high quality;

19.  Is of the opinion that, complementarily to the existing best practices to be found among the standardisation communities, increasing public awareness of proposed standards, proper and early involvement of all relevant stakeholders, and improvement in the quality of standardisation requests can further increase the transparency and accountability of the standardisation system;

20.  Calls on the Commission, in addition, to pay attention to and provide assistance for candidate countries’ efforts to harmonise their standards with European standards in order to minimise existing bottlenecks;

ICT standards

21.  Welcomes the communication on the ICT standardisation priorities setting out a strategic approach to standardisation for ICT technologies, but calls on the Commission clearly to identify the alignment between this communication and the ICT Rolling Plan, the package ‘Standards for the 21st Century’ and the Annual Work Programme;

22.  Notes that the recent convergence of technologies and the digitisation of society, businesses and public services are blurring the traditional separation between general and ICT standardisation; considers that ICT standardisation should be part of a European digital strategy to create economies of scale, budget savings and improved competitiveness and innovation for European companies, and to increase the cross-sectoral and cross-border interoperability of goods and services through the faster definition, in an open and competitive fashion, of voluntary standards that are easily implemented by SMEs;

23.  Stresses the need for greater cooperation within the ICT standardisation community, in particular between ESOs, and calls on the ESOs to prepare a common annual work programme identifying cross-cutting areas of common interest;

24.  Stresses that open, voluntary, inclusive and consensus-oriented standardisation processes have been effective insofar as they constitute a driver of innovation, interconnectivity and deployment of technologies, and recalls that it is also important to ensure proper investment and expertise in, and development of, cutting-edge technologies, and to support SMEs;

25.  Urges the Commission to request the ESOs to contribute to high-quality interoperable and open standards in order to tackle fragmentation and encourage their wide adoption, and to acknowledge the existing ecosystem and diverse business models that support the development of digital technologies, since this will contribute to the social, economic and environmental sustainability of ICT value chains and confirm commitment to the public interest of ensuring privacy and data protection;

26.  Stresses the imperative need to adapt ICT standardisation policy to market and policy developments, since this will lead to achieving important European policy goals requiring interoperability, such as accessibility, security, e-business, e-government, e-health and transport; recommends that the Commission and ESOs prioritise standards in the area of 5G, cloud computing, IoT, data and cybersecurity domains, as well as in that of vertical domains, such as ‘connected and automatic driving and intelligent transport systems’, ‘smart cities’, smart energy’, ‘advance manufacturing’ and ‘smart living environments’;

27.  Stresses the need to create an open, interoperable ICT ecosystem based on the five ICT priority standards, encouraging competition in value creation upon which innovation can flourish; believes that:

   5G standards should allow a real generation shift in terms of capacity, reliability and latency, enabling 5G to cope with the expected increase in traffic and the different requirements of the services that will be built on top of it;
   cybersecurity standards should enable security-by-design and comply with privacy-by-design principles, support resilience of networks and risk management, and be able to cope with the rapid rise in cyberthreats to all ICT developments;
   cloud standards should converge so as to allow interoperability in all aspects of the cloud, thus enabling portability;
   data standards should support cross-sectorial interdisciplinary data flows, thus achieving better interoperability of data and metadata, including semantification, and contribute to the development of a big-data reference architecture;
   IoT standards should tackle the current fragmentation without hampering innovation in a sector that is developing very fast;

28.  Recognises that efficient 5G communication networks depend critically on common standards to ensure interoperability and security, but recalls that the development of a very high capacity network is the backbone of a reliable 5G network;

29.  Notes that in order to succeed, a data-driven economy depends on a wider ICT ecosystem, including highly educated experts as well as skilled people, in order to terminate the digital divide and digital exclusion;

30.  Encourages the Commission to compile statistics with a view to better evaluating the impact of digitisation and ICT on transport and tourism;

31.  Is aware of the growing number of platforms, groups, meetings and channels relating to ICT standards; calls on the Commission to rationalise the number of platforms and coordination mechanisms dealing with standardisation and involve standardisation organisations in new initiatives, in order to avoid duplication of efforts for stakeholders; stresses the need to better coordinate ICT standards and standardisation priorities among the different organisations, and urges the Commission to promptly inform stakeholders about the stage reached in ongoing initiatives in relation to ICT standards;

32.  Stresses that digitisation is proceeding at a rapid pace and is a major driver of the economy; underlines the importance of effective digitisation of vertical industries in order to benefit SMEs, and especially consumers, at European, national, regional and local level, and the need to represent their concerns appropriately in the framework of international ICT standardisation;

33.  Supports the Commission’s intention to explore initiatives such as a trusted IoT label and certification system, which can help foster trust in the levels of privacy and end-to-end security of an IoT device by providing measurable and comparable ratings on the possible risks associated with the operation and use of an IoT device or service; believes that these should be developed where relevant and where IoT devices could have an impact on relevant infrastructure on the basis of the requirements spelled out in the NIS Directive, which should serve as a basis for defining security requirements; notes that any such label must be able to adapt to future technology changes and take account of global standards where appropriate;

34.  Calls on the Commission to take the lead in promoting intersectoral, cross-lingual standards and in supporting privacy-friendly, reliable and secure services;

35.  To that effect, supports the definition of specific and measurable minimum requirements that take into account the long-term sustainability and reliability of IoT devices or services as well as industry-standard computer security and sustainability standards; such a list should encompass, for example, the commitment to making updates available for a minimum timeframe after purchasing, the commitment of a manufacturer or provider to a timeframe within which it will provide an update after the discovery and notification of a vulnerability; to this end, the Commission should evaluate the possibility of industry self-regulation, taking into account the speed with which standards and technologies evolve in the ICT sector, and the diversity of development and business models, including open source, start-ups, and SMEs;

36.  Takes note of the cybersecurity concerns and the specificities of the threats in the transport sector; urges the Commission to address these specificities when adopting its recommendations on cybersecurity standards which are expected by the end of 2017, as a first step towards a comprehensive strategy on cybersecurity in the transport sector;

37.  Notes that ICT standardisation will be beneficial for the development of transport- and tourism-related services and multimodal transport solutions; calls on the Commission, acting together with the ESOs, to attach greater importance to this development when implementing its priority action plan for ICT standardisation, and in particular to explore the potential role of standardisation in supporting the technological changes and new business models emerging in the tourism sector; calls on the Commission to take swift action to promote the development of integrated smart ticketing and information services and new mobility concepts such as Mobility-as-a-Service;

38.  Notes that with the increased use of the internet, online banking, social networking and e-health initiatives, people are having growing security and privacy concerns, and that ICT standards need to reflect the principles of the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data and the free movement of such data;

39.  Calls on the Commission to include the digital integration of manufacturing as an ICT standardisation priority, and encourages the development of open standards for the communication protocol and data formats for the digital integration of manufacturing equipment in order to ensure full interoperability between machines and devices;

40.  Acknowledges some concerns in particular as regards ICT and standard essential patents (SEPs), and recognises that a robust, fair and reasonable IPR policy will encourage investment and innovation and facilitate the take-up of the digital single market and of new technologies, in particular as regards the deployment of 5G and IoT devices, as they rely heavily on standardisation; stresses that it is essential to maintain a balanced standardisation framework and efficient licensing practices for SEPs based on the FRAND (fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory practices) methodology and addressing the legitimate concerns of both licensors and licensees of SEPs, while ensuring that the standardisation process offers a level playing field where companies of all sizes, including SMEs, can collaborate in a mutually beneficial manner; encourages the Commission’s efforts to ensure that interoperability between digital components can be achieved through different types of licensing solutions and business models;

41.  Urges the Commission to clarify without delay the core elements of an equitable, effective and enforceable licensing methodology structured around the FRAND principles, taking into account the interests both of rightholders and of implementers of standards that include SEPs, a fair return on investment and the wide availability of technologies developed in a sustainable open standardisation process; invites the Commission to take note of the CJEU judgment C-170/13 (Huawei v. ZTE), which strikes a balance between SEP holders and standard implementers with a view to overcoming patent infringements and ensuring the efficient settlement of disputes; invites the Commission, furthermore, to improve the definition relating to information on patent scope and to address the issues related to information asymmetries between SMEs and large companies, increase the transparency of standard essential patent declarations, and improve the quality of information on the relation of SEPs to products; is of the opinion that any compensation to the developers of SEPs needs to be based on fair, proportionate and non-discriminatory terms, as well as transparent, reasonable, predictable and sustainable royalty rates, except where developers decide to provide the standard available without financial compensation; recognises, however, that diverse business models, such as royalty-free licensing and open source software implementation, exist and accordingly legislation and discussion should continue to recognise the use of all models on a basis including the rights of all market sectors and IPR holders;

42.  Notes the need for an evidence-based approach in monitoring and further developing the licensing framework in order to ensure a dynamic ecosystem that creates added value and jobs;

43.  Calls on the Commission to publish biannual reports evidencing actual cases of: (a) unlicensed SEP use (i.e. infringements) lasting for 18 months or more; and (b) issues regarding access to standards due to systematic non-compliance with FRAND commitments;

44.  Calls on the Commission to close the debate on the ‘perceived need’ of a science cloud and to take immediate action, in close concert with Member States, on the European Open Science Cloud, which should seamlessly integrate existing networks, data and high-performance computing systems and e-infrastructure services across scientific fields, within a framework of shared policies and ICT standards;

European standards for the 21st century

45.  Welcomes the Commission’s standardisation package ‘Standards for the 21st Century’, and takes the view that the standardisation system should be made more transparent, open and inclusive with a view to fully integrating the concerns of citizens, consumers and SMEs;

46.  Regrets that it was not consulted prior to the adoption of the package, and urges the European institutions to align the different initiatives into a single strategic, holistic work programme avoiding duplication of actions and policies; stresses that the relevant committee of the European Parliament can play an important role in the public scrutiny of harmonised standards mandated by the Commission;

47.  Calls for greater reinforcement, coherence and improvement in the accuracy of the AUWP;

48.  Stresses that the next AUWP needs specifically to address actions to improve coordination between the ICT and non-ICT standards regimes, contribute to the improvement of the rules of the different NSBs, and advance the inclusiveness of ESOs by paying greater attention to the role of the stakeholders listed in Article 5;

49.  Stresses the importance of the interinstitutional dialogue for the preparation of the AUWP, and encourages efforts to involve, prior to the adoption of the AUWP, all relevant stakeholders in an Annual Standardisation Forum to discuss new fields, existing challenges and necessary improvements of the standardisation process;

50.  Encourages Member States to invest in national standardisation strategies which will also help and encourage the public sector, standardisation bodies, societal stakeholders, SMEs and academia at national level to develop and implement individual standardisation action plans;

51.  Welcomes the JIS, and recommends that Parliament also be invited to participate in and contribute to it, underlining that the rules of such public-private partnerships need to be respected by all stakeholders, including EU institutions; calls on the Commission to take a leading role in the implementation of the key actions and recommendations of the JIS and to report back to Parliament by the end of 2017 on the progress achieved;

52.  Welcomes the commitment, made in the context of the JIS, to develop a study on the economic and social impact, including information on policies, risks and outcomes as regards the quality of life, social and employee-related aspects, of standards and their use; invites the Commission to base this study on quantitative and qualitative data, and to analyse both the business models of the standardisation process and the different financial models – including opportunities and challenges – for making access to harmonised standards easily available;

53.  Underlines that standardisation is increasingly recognised as an important contributor to research and development, and that it plays an important role in bridging the gap between research and the market, fosters the dissemination and exploitation of research results, and creates a basis for further innovation;

54.  Calls on the Commission to adopt policies that remove excessive barriers in innovative sectors, with a view to incentivising investment in research and development and in EU standardisation; notes that vertical industries should work out their own roadmaps for standardisation, relying on industry-led processes which, if guided by a strong will to reach common standards, would have the capacity to become worldwide standards; believes that EU standardisation bodies should play a special role in this process;

55.  Urges the parties to the JIS to ensure that research and innovation are better aligned with standard-setting priorities;

56.  Considers that open knowledge and licenses are the best instruments for boosting innovation and technology development; encourages research institutions receiving EU funds to use open patents and licenses in order to secure a greater role in standard- setting;

57.  Supports actions aimed at improving the synergy between standardisation and research communities and in promoting standards at an early stage in research projects; encourages national standardisation bodies to promote standardisation to researchers and the innovation community, including relevant government organisations and funding agencies, and recommends that a specific standardisation chapter be developed under Horizon 2020;

58.  Urges the Commission to encourage the ESOs to ensure that market-relevant services standards reflect the increased servitisation of the economy and are developed with the aims of ensuring the safety and quality of services and of prioritising areas with the highest detriment to consumers, while not encroaching on existing national regulatory requirements, in particular provisions on labour law or collective agreements and bargaining; recognises, furthermore, that service standards often respond to national specificities and that their development is related to the needs of the market, the interests of consumers and the public interest; stresses that the development of European services standards should contribute to the functioning of the internal market for services while increasing transparency, quality and competitiveness and promoting competition, innovation, and consumer protection;

59.  Points out that the standardisation process in Europe must include standards that improve barrier-free accessibility to transport and transport services for people with disabilities and older people;

60.  Is of the opinion that the fast-changing modern world, with its increased technical complexity, leads to the development of increasing numbers of standards and platforms for processing specifications which do not correspond to the standardisation bodies recognised under Regulation (EU) No 1025/2012, and that there are now greater demands when it comes to the involvement of SMEs and microenterprises; stresses the importance of supporting measures to improve SMEs’ access to means of developing and using standards;

61.  Underlines the importance of interconnecting platforms and databases at European level, enabling better interoperability of networks and systems;

62.  Believes that ICT standardisation involves not only the setting of product requirements, but also the development of innovative technologies;

63.  Stresses that uniform (technical) arrangements help to reduce development, production and certification costs, and avoid the duplication of tasks;

64.  Stresses that demographic ageing in Europe requires systematic incorporation of the needs of older persons and persons with disabilities, and other vulnerable members of society, in the development of standards, which are a suitable tool to help achieve an active and healthy society in Europe and to increase the accessibility of products and services for people;

65.  Points out that innovation in the transport and tourism sectors provides enormous opportunities and has a positive impact on both society and EU businesses, especially SMEs and start-ups, and insists on the need to develop new standards, where possible by pursuing a cross-domain approach, and to uphold standardisation in order to ensure the proper implementation of EU initiatives in the field of digitisation, such as Cooperative Intelligent Transport Systems (C-ITS), and the development of transport applications within the EU Satellite Navigation Systems (Galileo and EGNOS);

European Standardisation Organisations

66.  Welcomes the role played by the ESOs, but encourages further initiatives to improve their openness, accessibility and transparency, and recommends that their work be guided by European interests;

67.  Recognises that the national delegation principle is fundamental for the European system, but warns that there are differences in terms of resources, technical expertise and stakeholder involvement at national level, and recommends that the work of the national delegations needs to be complemented;

68.  Recognises the importance of timely delivery of standards, as well as references being cited in the Official Journal of the European Union (OJ) in cases of harmonised standards; is aware of the decreasing citation of references of standards in the OJ, and calls on the Commission to investigate and address the reasons for this and remove unnecessary obstacles; recommends, in this regard, greater involvement of Commission experts and the New Approach Consultants in the standardisation process, and calls on the Commission to develop, in conjunction with the ESOs, evaluation guidelines for standardisation so as to help the different departments within the Commission, the ESOs and the New Approach Consultants evaluate standards in a coherent manner;

69.  Repeats that transparent and accessible appeal mechanisms build trust in the ESOs and in the standard-setting processes;

70.  Encourages the use of new ICTs to improve the accessibility and transparency of standardisation processes, such as the CEN-CENELEC eLearning tool for SMEs; considers that the use of digital tools can facilitate stakeholders’ participation in the development of standards and provide information about upcoming, ongoing and finalised standardisation work;

Strategic recommendations

71.  Calls on the Commission to enhance the synergies and coordination between the European institutions, the ESOs, the NSBs and all relevant stakeholder organisations through the Annual Standardisation Forum, whilst also recognising the international context of standards; recognises that the vast majority of standards are developed voluntarily in response to market and consumer needs, and supports this;

72.  Calls for strict application of Regulation (EU) No 1025/2012 as regards recognition of Annex III organisations, and for the publication of the reports provided for in Article 24 of the regulation;

73.  Urges the Commission fully to harmonise conditions for Annex III organisations and to ensure the removal of the de facto obstacles to their effective involvement in standardisation;

74.  Recommends that the membership status, rights and obligations of Annex III organisations, such as the right of appeal, consultative powers, the right to an opinion before a standard is adopted, and access to technical committees and working groups be reviewed within the ESOs to assess whether they meet the requirements of Regulation (EU) No 1025/2012;

75.  Calls on the ESOs to ensure that that the ISO-CEN (Vienna) and IEC CENELEC (Frankfurt) agreements will not prevent or jeopardise participation in the standardisation processes of Annex III Organisations or NSBs;

76.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to promote, facilitate financing for and expedite the deployment of the necessary infrastructure, including through modernising, converting and retrofitting, for the market uptake of new technologies supported by European standards (e.g. alternative fuels infrastructure), in compliance with safety, health and environmental requirements; highlights that infrastructure is a long-term investment and that its standardisation should therefore ensure maximum interoperability and allow for future technological developments and their application;

77.  Invites the Commission to work with the ESOs and the NSBs to promote easy-to-use contact points of access to standards that can provide assistance and information to the users of standards regarding those which are available and their general specifications, and that can help them find the standards that best match their needs, as well as guidance on their implementation; recommends, furthermore, information and education campaigns at national and EU level to promote the role of standards, and encourages Member States to include relevant professional education courses on standards in their national education systems;

78.  Asks the Commission to develop technology-watch activities so as to identify future ICT developments that could benefit from standardisation, to facilitate the flow and transparency of information necessary for market penetration and the operation of these technologies, and, in this connection, to promote easily accessible and user-friendly evaluation mechanisms via the internet;

79.  Recommends that NSBs need to examine if it is possible to provide access to standards to the extent that the standards user can make an assessment of the relevance of the standard; strongly recommends that NSBs and ESOs, when determining the level of fees relating to standards, take into account the needs of SMEs and stakeholders who are non-commercial users;

80.  Calls on the Commission to prepare a European register listing existing European standards in all official EU languages, which would also include information on the ongoing standardisation work being done by ESOs, existing standardisation mandates, progress made, and decisions containing formal objections;

81.  Calls on the Commission to monitor international ICT standardisation developments and, if necessary, to support the participation and coordination of European stakeholders in leading positions within appropriate standardisation bodies, and in strategically important standardisation projects, in order to promote the European regulatory model and interests; encourages the use of the Multi-Stakeholder Platform on ICT Standardisation to bring together ESOs and international ICT standardisation bodies;

82.  Encourages adoption by the EU of the Reference Architecture Model for Industry 4.0 for the digitisation of European industry;

83.  Calls on the Member States to use European ICT standards in public procurement procedures in order to improve the quality of public services and foster innovative technologies; stresses, however, that the use of standards should not result in additional barriers, in particular for small businesses seeking to participate in public procurement procedures;

84.  Calls on the EU institutions, the national governments and the ESOs to develop training guidelines for policymakers so as to help them overcome inconsistencies arising from the use of disparate working methods in different departments and institutions, and to create a standardisation culture and an understanding of how standards processes work and when they can be used;

o
o   o

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

(1) OJ C 70 E, 8.3.2012, p. 56.
(2) https://ec.europa.eu/info/european-commissions-open-source-strategy_en


Towards a pan-European covered bonds framework
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European Parliament resolution of 4 July 2017 on Towards a pan-European covered bonds framework (2017/2005(INI))
P8_TA(2017)0279A8-0235/2017

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the EBA report of 20 December 2016 on Covered Bonds: recommendations on harmonisation of covered bond frameworks in the EU (EBA-Op-2016-23),

–  having regard to the Commission consultation document of 30 September 2015 on ‘Covered Bonds in the European Union’ and to the undated Commission document ‘Summary of contributions to the public consultation on “Covered Bonds”’,

–  having regard to the Commission report of 20 October 2015 on ‘Article 503 of Regulation (EU) No 575/2013: Capital requirement for covered bonds’ (COM(2015)0509),

–  having regard to the EBA opinion of 1 July 2014 on the preferential capital treatment of covered bonds (EBA/Op/2014/04),

–  having regard to the EBA report of 1 July 2014 on ‘EU covered bond frameworks and capital treatment: response to the Commission’s call for advice of December 2013 related to Article 503 of the Regulation (EU) No 575/2013 and to the ESRB Recommendation E on the funding of credit institutions of December 2012 (ESRB/12/2)’,

–  having regard to Directive 2014/91/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 July 2014 amending Directive 2009/65/EC on the coordination of laws, regulations and administrative provisions relating to undertakings for collective investment in transferable securities (UCITS) as regards depository functions, remuneration policies and sanctions(1), in particular Article 52(4) thereof (henceforth ‘the UCITS Directive’),

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 575/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 June 2013 on prudential requirements for credit institutions and investment firms and amending Regulation (EU) No 648/2012(2), in particular Article 129 thereof (henceforth ‘CRR’),

–  having regard to Directive 2014/59/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 May 2014 establishing a framework for the recovery and resolution of credit institutions and investment firms and amending Council Directive 82/891/EEC, and Directives 2001/24/EC, 2002/47/EC, 2004/25/EC, 2005/56/EC, 2007/36/EC, 2011/35/EU, 2012/30/EU and 2013/36/EU, and Regulations (EU) No 1093/2010 and (EU) No 648/2012, of the European Parliament and of the Council(3), in particular Article 44(2) thereof,

–  having regard to Article 1(2) of Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2015/2205 of 6 August 2015 supplementing Regulation (EU) No 648/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council with regard to regulatory technical standards on the clearing obligation(4),

–  having regard to Article 1(2) of Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2016/1178 of 10 June 2016 supplementing Regulation (EU) No 648/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council with regard to regulatory technical standards on the clearing obligation(5),

–  having regard to Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2015/61 of 10 October 2014 to supplement Regulation (EU) No 575/2013 of the European Parliament and the Council with regard to liquidity coverage requirement for Credit Institutions(6) (henceforth ‘LCR Delegated Act’),

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs (A8-0235/2017),

A.  whereas covered bonds (CBs) are instruments with a long-established track record of low default rates and reliable payments which help to finance around 20 % of European mortgages and accounted for more than EUR 2 000 billion of liabilities in Europe in 2015; whereas some 90 % of CBs worldwide are issued in nine European countries;

B.  whereas CBs have played a key role in the funding of credit institutions, in particular during the financial crisis; whereas CBs retained high levels of security and liquidity during the crisis, which must be attributed to the quality of national regulation; whereas the 2008-2014 episode of increasing spreads in CB prices across Member States provides no compelling evidence of market fragmentation, since the spreads were highly correlated with spreads in government bonds and were possibly mere reflections of underlying risks in cover pools; whereas appropriate risk sensitivity of covered bond prices across Member States is evidence of properly functioning and well-integrated markets;

C.  whereas there is significant cross-border investment in European CB markets; whereas CBs have a well-diversified investor base in which banks feature prominently, with a market share of roughly 35 % between 2009 and 2015; whereas the market share of asset managers, insurance companies and pension funds has shrunk by almost 20 percentage points and was essentially replaced by higher central bank investments in CBs;

D.  whereas CBs are attractive debt instruments since they are – up to the level of collateral in the cover pool – exempted from the bail-in tool set out in Article 44 of the Bank Recovery and Resolution Directive (BRRD); whereas CBs which are compliant with Article 129 of the CRR enjoy preferential risk weight treatment;

E.  whereas one factor in bank demand for CBs is the preferential regulatory treatment for CBs in the LCR Delegated Act, which allows banks to include CBs in the liquidity buffer even if they are not LCR-eligible under Basel rules;

F.  whereas CB programmes, under some conditions, are exempt from initial margin requirements against counterparty credit risk in derivative transactions;

G.  whereas CBs may, at national discretion, be exempted from the EU requirements on large exposures;

H.  whereas the positions of unsecured bank creditors are adversely affected by asset encumbrance owing to overcollateralisation (OC) requirements, but not by the principle of debt finance with segregated cover pools; whereas such operations, if involving loan-to-value ratios well below 100 %, generally improve the positions of unsecured bank creditors to the extent that these reserves are not needed to satisfy claims against the cover pool;

I.  whereas CBs feature prominently on the asset side of the balance sheets of many banks; whereas it is essential for financial stability that these assets remain at maximum safety and liquidity; whereas this objective should not be undermined by innovations in CBs which allow issuers to transfer risk to investors at their discretion;

J.  whereas CB issuances with conditional maturity extension (soft-bullet and conditional pass-through (CPT) structures) increased by 8 % in 12 months to reach a market share of 45 % in April 2016; whereas such options mitigate liquidity risk in mismatched cover pools, reduce OC requirements and help to avoid fire sales; whereas, however, maturity extensions shift issuer risk to investors; whereas preferential regulatory treatment should only be granted to debt instruments which are particularly safe;

K.  whereas EU law lacks a precise definition of CBs;

L.  whereas CB markets are lagging behind in Member States in which there is no tradition of issuing such bonds or whose growth is impeded by sovereign risk or difficult macroeconomic conditions;

M.  whereas it is widely acknowledged that the national covered bond frameworks are highly diverse, in particular as regards technical aspects such as the level of public supervision;

N.  whereas an EU-wide framework for covered bonds must be geared towards the highest standards;

O.  whereas there are several very successful national frameworks for CBs, founded on historical and legal grounds and partly embedded in national law; whereas those national frameworks share fundamental characteristics, in particular dual recourse, the segregation of cover pools with low-risk assets, and special public supervision; whereas it may prove beneficial to extend these principles to other types of debt instruments;

P.  whereas harmonisation should not be based on a one-size-fits-all approach as this could lead to a serious reduction in product diversity and might negatively influence national markets that have been functioning successfully; whereas harmonisation should respect the principle of subsidiarity;

Q.  whereas market participants have undertaken initiatives to foster the development of CB markets, such as the creation in 2013 of the Covered Bond Label (CBL) and the Harmonised Transparency Template (HTT);

R.  whereas, following a supervisory review, the EBA has identified best practices for the issuance and supervision of CBs and assessed the alignment of national frameworks with those practices;

S.  whereas, in response to the Commission’s public consultation, a large majority of stakeholders opposed complete harmonisation, while investors emphasised the value of product diversity; whereas stakeholders have shown cautious support for EU legislation provided that it is principles-based, builds on existing frameworks and respects the characteristics of national frameworks in particular;

General observations and positions

1.  Stresses that domestic and cross-border investments in CBs have worked well in EU markets under the current legislative framework; emphasises that diversity of sound and safe products should be maintained;

2.  Points out that a mandatory harmonisation of national models or their replacement by a European one could lead to unintended negative consequences for markets whose current success relies on CB legislation being embedded in national laws; insists that a more integrated European framework should be limited to a principles-based approach which establishes the objectives but leaves the ways and means to be specified in the transposition to national laws; stresses that this framework should be based on high-quality standards and take into account best practices, building on national regimes that work well without disrupting them; emphasises that the potential new European framework for CBs, aligned with best practices, should be a benchmark for fledgling markets and should enhance the quality of CBs;

3.  Calls for an EU directive which clearly distinguishes between the two types of covered bonds currently in existence, namely:

   (a) CBs (henceforth referred to as ‘Premium Covered Bonds’ (PCBs)) which do not fall below the standards currently set by Article 129 of the CRR; and
   (b) CBs (henceforth referred to as ‘Ordinary Covered Bonds’ (OCBs)) which do not meet the requirements set out for PCBs but do not fall below the standards currently set by Article 52(4) of the UCITS Directive;

Emphasises that PCBs should continue to enjoy regulatory preference over OCBs and that OCBs should enjoy regulatory preference over other forms of collateralised debts; recognises the potential of all UCITS-compliant debt instruments for achieving the objectives of the Capital Markets Union;

4.  Calls on the Member States to protect the ‘covered bond’ label (for both PCBs and OCBs) by ensuring in national legislation that CBs are highly liquid and close to risk-free debt instruments; strongly suggests that debt instruments covered by assets which are substantially more risky than government debt and mortgages (e.g. non-government-backed infrastructure investments or credits to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)) should not be labelled ‘covered bonds’ but, possibly, ‘European Secured Notes’ (ESNs); supports the principle that cover pools for PCBs and OCBs should be fully backed by assets of a long-lasting nature which can be valued and repossessed;

5.  Calls on the Commission to include in the directive principles of a legal framework for European Secure Notes (ESNs) such as dual recourse, special public supervision, bankruptcy remoteness and transparency requirements; calls on the Member States to integrate these principles into their national law and insolvency procedures; emphasises that a sound legal framework for ESNs would have the potential to make ESNs more transparent, more liquid and more cost efficient than securities which make use of contractual arrangements; points out that this could help ESNs to finance riskier activities such as SME credits, consumer credits or infrastructure investments which lack government guarantees; notes that ESNs would be exempted from the scope of the bail-in tool set out in Article 44 BRRD;

6.  Encourages the incorporation into the directive of minimum supervisory standards which reflect identified best practices for CBs; encourages supervisory convergence across the EU;

7.  Calls for the directive to increase transparency with respect to information about cover pool assets and the legal framework designed to ensure dual recourse and segregation of those assets in the event of issuer insolvency or resolution; insists furthermore in this respect that the directive be principles-based and focus solely on informational requirements;

Defining PCBs, OCBs, ESNs and their regulatory framework

8.  Calls on the Commission to present a proposal for a European Covered Bond framework (directive) defining PCBs, OCBs and ESNs simultaneously, with a view to avoiding market disruptions during transition phases; calls on the Commission to include in this definition all of the following common principles achievable throughout the life of this issued instrument, independent of potential preferential treatment:

   (a) PCBs, OCBs and ESNs should be fully backed by a cover pool of assets;
   (b) National law should ensure dual recourse, i.e. the investor has:
   (i) a claim on the issuer of the debt instrument equal to the full payment obligations;
   (ii) an equivalent priority claim on the cover pool assets (including substitution assets and derivatives) in the event of the issuer’s default;

Should these claims be insufficient to fully meet the issuer’s payment obligations, the investor’s residual claims must be pari passu with claims of the issuer’s senior unsecured creditors;

   (c) Effective segregation of all cover pool assets is ensured in legally binding arrangements which are easily enforceable in the event of insolvency or resolution of the issuer; the same will hold for all substitution assets and derivatives hedging risks of the cover pool;
   (d) PCBs, OCBs and ESNs are bankruptcy-remote, i.e. it is ensured that the issuer’s payment obligations are not automatically accelerated in the event of the issuer’s insolvency or resolution;
   (e) Overcollateralisation (OC) reflecting the specific risks of PCBs, OCBs and ESNs is applied, by magnitudes to be determined in national law. The value of all cover pool assets must always be greater than the value of outstanding payment obligations. The valuation methods for cover pool assets and the calculation frequency should be clearly defined in national law and should properly take all relevant downside risks into account;
   (f) European or national law defines maximum loan-to-value (LTV) parameters for cover pool assets. The removal of cover pool assets in breach of LTV limits should not be mandatory, but rather it must be ensured that such removal occurs only if they are replaced by eligible assets of at least the same market value;
   (g) A part of the cover pool assets or liquidity facilities is sufficiently liquid such that the payment obligations of the covered bond or ESN programme can be met for the next six months, except in cases with match funded bonds or bonds with a soft bullet and conditional pass through (CPT);
   (h) Derivative instruments are allowed only for risk hedging purposes, and derivative contracts entered into by the issuer with a derivative counterparty and registered in the cover pool cannot be terminated upon the issuer’s insolvency;
   (i) National law provides for a robust special public supervision framework by specifying the competent authority, the cover pool monitor and the special administrator, along with a clear definition of the duties and supervisory powers of the competent authority, to ensure that:
   (i) issuers have qualified staff and adequate operational procedures in place for the management of the cover pools, including in the event of stress, insolvency or resolution;
   (ii) the features of cover pools meet the applicable requirements both prior to issuance of and until maturity of the debt instrument;
   (iii) the compliance of PCBs, OCBs and ESNs with relevant requirements (including in relation to eligibility of cover assets and coverage) is subject to ongoing, regular and independent monitoring;
   (iv) issuers regularly carry out stress tests on the calculation of the coverage requirements, taking into account the main risk factors affecting the debt instrument, such as credit, interest rate, currency and liquidity risks;

The duties and powers of the competent authority and the special administrator in the event of the issuer’s insolvency or resolution must be clearly defined;

   (j) The issuer is required to disclose at least biannually aggregate data on the cover pools to a level of detail that enables investors to carry out a comprehensive risk analysis. Information should be provided on the credit risk, market risk and liquidity risk characteristics of cover assets, on counterparties involved in the cover pools and on the levels of legal, contractual and voluntary OC, while there should also be a section on derivatives attached to cover pool assets and liabilities;
   (k) The maturity can be extended only in the event of insolvency or resolution of the issuer and with approval by the competent supervisory authority or under objective financial triggers established by national law and approved by the competent European authority; the exact conditions of the extension and potential changes to the coupon, maturity and other features should be made clear in the terms and conditions of each bond;

9.  Calls on the Commission to include in the directive’s definition of PCBs the following additional principles:

   (a) The debt instrument is fully collateralised by assets defined by Article 129(1) of the CRR and satisfies the additional requirements of Article 129(3) and (7) of the CRR; for residential loans backed by guarantees as specified under Article 129(1)(e) of the CRR there must be no legal impediments for the administrator of the CB programme to place senior mortgage liens on the loans when the covered bond issuer is in default or resolution and the guarantee is, for any reason, not honoured. The eligibility of ships as cover pool assets (Article 129(1)(g) of the CRR) shall be reviewed;
   (b) The maximum LTV parameters for mortgages included in the cover pool are set by European law in such a way that they do not surpass the LTV ratios currently fixed in Article 129 of the CRR, but are subject to regular review and adjustment in line with stress tests relying on independent assessments of market prices which might prevail in the relevant real estate markets under stress; the use of loan-to-mortgage lending values rather than loan-to-market values should be encouraged;

10.  Emphasises that the risk weights assigned to CBs in European legislation must reflect market assessments of underlying risks; observes that the same does not apply to all other types of debt instruments that enjoy preferential regulatory treatment owing to certain characteristics;

11.  Calls on the Commission to empower the European Supervisory Authorities (ESAs) to evaluate compliance with the criteria for PCBs, OCBs and ESNs with the aim of supplementing or even replacing the lists provided for in Article 52(4) of the UCITS Directive with an authoritative list of compliant PCBs, OCBs and ESN regimes at European level;

12.  Calls on the EBA to issue recommendations for PCB, OCB and ESN regimes on eligibility criteria for assets (including substitution assets), on LTV ratios and minimum effective OC levels for different types of assets, and on possible revisions of the CRR; calls on the EBA to provide the necessary guidelines for the establishment of the special public supervisory and administrative framework;

13.  Recommends that market access barriers for issuers in developing covered bond markets outside the EEA be removed by providing equitable treatment to covered bonds from issuers in third countries, provided their legal, institutional and supervisory environment passes a thorough equivalence assessment by a competent European institution; recommends promoting the key principles of European legislation in order to establish a potential benchmark for the covered bond markets globally;

14.  Calls on the Commission to propose a revision of the European financial services legislation which specifies the regulatory treatment of PCBs, OCBs and ESNs;

15.  Calls on the Commission, when assessing existing EU financial services legislation, to take into account the potential of PCBs, OCBs and ESNs for achieving the objectives of the Capital Markets Union;

16.  Calls on the Commission to identify possible obstacles at national level to the development of covered bonds systems and to publish guidelines to eliminate these barriers, without prejudice to banks’ sound and prudent conduct of business;

17.  Calls on the Commission and the EBA to reassess (possibly as part of an impact assessment) the eligibility of maritime liens on ships as cover pool assets as set out in Article 129(1)(g) of the CRR; is concerned that preferential treatment for ships distorts competition with other means of transportation; asks the Commission and the EBA to investigate whether ship CBs are on an equal footing with other CRR-compliant covered bonds in terms of their liquidity and their risk assessments carried out by independent rating agencies, and whether preferential treatment of such bonds on the basis of LCR eligibility and lower risk weights in the CRR is therefore warranted;

18.  Calls on the Member States to provide in national law for the opportunity to create separate cover pools, with each comprising a homogenous asset class (such as residential loans); calls on the Member States to allow all cover assets as specified in Article 129(1)(a), (b) and (c) of the CRR as substitution assets contributing towards the coverage requirement, and to clearly specify limits on credit quality, exposure size and upper bounds for coverage contributions of substitution assets;

Supporting market transparency and voluntary convergence

19.  Welcomes improvements in CB rating methodologies and the expansion of the rating markets for CBs;

20.  Underlines the importance of a level playing field to ensure fair competition in financial markets; emphasises that European legislation must not discriminate between different types of secured debt instruments unless there are good reasons to assume that these differ in terms of either safety or liquidity;

21.  Welcomes market initiatives to develop harmonised standards and templates for disclosure (e.g. the HTT) in order to facilitate the comparison and analysis of differences between covered bonds across the EU;

22.  Supports the development of EBA recommendations for market standards and guidelines on best practices; encourages voluntary convergence along these lines;

23.  Encourages the regular execution of stress tests for cover pools and the publication of stress test results;

o
o   o

24.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission and the European Banking Authority.

(1) OJ L 257, 28.8.2014, p. 186.
(2) OJ L 176, 27.6.2013, p. 1.
(3) OJ L 173, 12.6.2014, p. 190.
(4) OJ L 314, 1.12.2015, p. 13.
(5) OJ L 195, 20.7.2016, p. 3.
(6) OJ L 11, 17.1.2015, p. 1.


The role of fisheries-related tourism in the diversification of fisheries
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European Parliament resolution of 4 July 2017 on the role of fisheries-related tourism in the diversification of fisheries (2016/2035(INI))
P8_TA(2017)0280A8-0221/2017

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 1380/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 December 2013 on the Common Fisheries Policy, amending Council Regulations (EC) No 1954/2003 and (EC) No 1224/2009 and repealing Council Regulations (EC) No 2371/2002 and (EC) No 639/2004 and Council Decision 2004/585/EC(1),

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 508/2014 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 May 2014 on the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund and repealing Council Regulations (EC) No 2328/2003, (EC) No 861/2006, (EC) No 1198/2006 and (EC) No 791/2007 and Regulation (EU) No 1255/2011 of the European Parliament and of the Council(2),

–  having regard to Directive 2000/60/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 October 2000 establishing a framework for Community action in the field of water policy(3) (‘the EU Water Framework Directive’),

–  having regard to its resolution of 22 November 2012 on small-scale coastal fishing, artisanal fishing and the reform of the common fisheries policy(4),

–  having regard to its resolution of 2 July 2013 on Blue Growth: enhancing sustainable growth in the EU’s marine, maritime transport and tourism sectors(5),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 13 May 2014 entitled ‘Innovation in the Blue Economy: realising the potential of our seas and oceans for jobs and growth’ (COM(2014)0254),

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

–  having regard to the EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2020 and in particular to Target 4 ‘Make fishing more sustainable and seas healthier’, in which the EU pledges, amongst other things, to eliminate adverse impacts on fish stocks, species, habitats and ecosystems, ‘including through providing financial incentives through the future financial instruments for fisheries and maritime policy for marine protected areas (including Natura 2000 areas and those established by international or regional agreements). This could include restoring marine ecosystems, adapting fishing activities and promoting the involvement of the sector in alternative activities, such as eco-tourism, monitoring and managing marine biodiversity, and combating marine litter’,

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

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 13 September 2012 entitled ‘Blue Growth – opportunities for marine and maritime sustainable growth’ (COM(2012)0494),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 20 February 2014 entitled ‘A European Strategy for more Growth and Jobs in Coastal and Maritime Tourism’ (COM(2014)0086),

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Fisheries and the opinion of the Committee on Transport and Tourism (A8-0221/2017),

A.  whereas traditional fishing has continued to decline;

B.  whereas diversification has become a necessity for many small-scale fishermen in order to provide additional sources of income, as their income is often inadequate;

C.  whereas when speaking of diversification in fisheries, it is necessary to take into account the fact that much of the fisheries sector depends almost entirely on traditional forms of fishing;

D.  whereas most coastal and island regions are suffering severe economic decline, resulting in depopulation as their inhabitants leave for areas with greater employment and education opportunities;

E.  whereas while some coastal fishing regions are located close to tourist destinations, they are not managing to achieve proper economic growth, even though the fishery and tourism sectors are compatible;

F.  whereas fisheries-related tourism can help to create jobs, promote social inclusion, improve the quality of life and revitalise communities that depend on fishing, especially in areas where there is little else in the way of economic activities; whereas this potential varies greatly, both in regional terms and depending on the type of fisheries involved and vessel sizes;

G.  whereas fisheries-related tourism can help reduce the impact on fish stocks and the environment, as well as increase knowledge and awareness of the need for environmental protection and cultural conservation; whereas, in particular, fishing tours and tourist services offered by fishermen ashore may be a genuine way of supplementing, and diversifying out of, the core activity in many European regions;

H.  whereas fisheries-related tourism activities can help raise the profile of fishermen and promote appreciation for, and understanding of, their complex field of activity; whereas fishing tours and other tourism-related fishing activities (tourist services offered by fishermen ashore, recreational fishing, etc.) are still little known to the general public, and there is a need to raise consumer awareness of the importance of consuming local fish products coming from a short supply chain;

I.  whereas fisheries-related tourism can afford an opportunity to attract tourists by providing a wide offering, ranging from local products to green business styles;

J.  whereas the traditional gastronomy associated with fishery products and traditional preservation and processing industries could represent a major asset for the tourism being developed around the fishing industry;

K.  whereas angling confers various social benefits, and has a favourable impact on human health and well-being;

L.  whereas the socio-economic gains resulting from fisheries-related tourism are of a highly seasonal nature, as they are made chiefly in the summer months; whereas the benefits to be gained from greater customer loyalty, an oft-quoted subject, are achievable throughout the year;

M.  whereas 2018 will be the European Year of Cultural Heritage, intended to make citizens aware of European history and impress upon them that the values embodied in their cultural heritage are a resource that they share; whereas traditional fishing forms part of Europe’s rich cultural heritage and contributes to the identity of local communities, not least in terms of how it has helped shape tastes, foods, traditions, history and landscapes; whereas this aspect is greatly enhanced through contacts with tourists;

N.  whereas the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) supports investment to help fishermen diversify their income by developing complementary activities, including investment for additional on-board safety equipment, fishing tours, shore-based tourism services, catering, recreational and sport fishing services, and fishing-related educational activities;

O.  whereas there is no common definition of fisheries-related tourism, nor is there any legal basis; whereas, for example, tourism of this type is considered an occupation in Italy, but in France is classed as a sideline activity; whereas, depending on the legal status accorded to it, significant differences can arise as regards tax arrangements, licensing procedures, qualification requirements, safety equipment, etc.;

P.  whereas the EU’s Water Framework Directive and Marine Strategy Framework Directive require Member States to ensure good status of coastal and marine waters; whereas the Habitats Directive requires Member States to identify and maintain marine and coastal habitats by establishing and managing Natura 2000 sites;

Q.  whereas in most marine protected areas (MPAs) and marine and coastal Natura 2000 sites the tourism sector is particularly important; whereas there are many positive examples of shared management and partnerships between MPA management bodies and small-scale fishermen for the promotion of fishing tourism and other means of showcasing traditional fishing for tourism and cultural purposes;

R.  whereas data on fisheries-related tourism in and outside Europe are scarce and inconsistent and do not lend themselves to comparison;

S.  whereas in the 2012 ‘Blue Growth’ strategy the EU singled out coastal and maritime tourism as a key sector for the development of a solidarity-based sustainable economy;

T.  whereas in 2010, in the communication entitled ‘Europe, the world’s No 1 tourist destination – a new political framework for tourism in Europe’, the Commission set out the need to pursue a strategy for sustainable coastal and maritime tourism;

U.  whereas in 2012 the Commission launched a public consultation on the challenges and opportunities for coastal and maritime tourism in Europe and, on 20 February 2014, followed that up by publishing a communication entitled ‘A European Strategy for more Growth and Jobs in Coastal and Maritime Tourism’;

V.  whereas fisheries-related tourism activities are carried out by commercial fishermen seeking to diversify their activities, promote and enhance the status of their profession and their socio-cultural heritage, and improve the sustainable use of aquatic ecosystems, aims which they sometimes pursue by carrying tourists on fishing boats; whereas while these fishing activities plainly involve a tourism element and a recreational purpose, there is no clear-cut, standard-setting definition of them;

W.  whereas the term ‘fishing tours’ (pescaturismo in Italian; below ‘pesca-turism’) denotes tourist/recreational fishing activities carried out by commercial fishermen who take tourists on board their vessels in order to show them the fisheries world;

X.  whereas tourist services offered by fishermen ashore (ittiturismo in Italian; below ‘itti-tourism’) include gastronomic tourism and hospitality ventures run by commercial fishermen; whereas one of the main differences between the two aforementioned types of tourism is that the latter cannot take place aboard fishing boats;

Y.  whereas recreational fishing is an activity carried out solely for recreational and/or competitive sporting purposes, in which living aquatic resources are exploited, but catches may not, under any circumstances, be sold; whereas while the intention of recreational fishing is not to make a profit, it is included among tourist activities generating a parallel economy which should be exploited under the management of professional fishermen, through the services, facilities, and infrastructure offered to recreational fishermen; whereas, however, uncontrolled and intensive recreational fishing is liable to have an adverse effect on fish stocks in some areas;

Z.  whereas there are no reliable socio-economic or environmental statistics on the impact of recreational fishing on stocks, especially in areas where recreational fishing is intensive, and whereas there are no clear rules or exhaustive checks on catch, and still less on illicit sales of recreational catch through informal channels, generally linked to restaurants;

Tourism fishing in EU countries

AA.  whereas a study conducted in 2015 by the ‘il mare delle Alpi’ Coastal Action Group (GAC)(6) on public habits and views in the GAC catchment area showed that a third of interviewees eat fish several times a week, namely only four types of food-fishes, of which two are found in fresh water and the others in the sea (fatty fish, salmon, cod and trout); whereas tourism fishing leads to greater awareness of fish species and culinary traditions, which are often unknown to the wider consumer public; whereas in terms of diversification of the fishing effort, the impact is obvious;

AB.  whereas in Italy there has been a steady increase in applications for licences to carry out fisheries-related tourism activities; whereas, according to a recent survey, the Italian regions with the highest number of licences are Liguria (290), Emilia-Romagna (229), Sardinia (218), Calabria (203), Campania (200) and Sicily (136): whereas 1 600 licences in all were registered in the period from 2002 to 2012; whereas in 2003 the regions with the highest number of licences were Campania (63), Liguria (62), Sicily (60) and Sardinia (59), closely followed by Apulia (46), Calabria (39) and Tuscany (37)(7);

AC.  whereas a third of the fleet licenced to carry out fisheries-related tourist activities is prohibited from carrying more than 4 passengers, 29 % may carry 5 to 8 passengers, and the remaining 37 % are allowed to carry between 9 and 12 passengers(8);

AD.  whereas high tourist numbers are concentrated almost entirely in the months of July and August, meaning that fisheries-related tourism is extremely seasonal in nature and that it is important to encourage diversification;

AE.  whereas education follows a similar pattern to age classes, to the extent that the level of schooling is likewise higher among fishing-tour operators than among those who engage solely in professional fishing; whereas more than 30 % of the skippers hold a certificate or professional qualification and have at least a basic knowledge of English (64 %), French (34 %), Spanish (16 %), or German (7 %)(9);

AF.  whereas a survey of fishing tour operators in Italy has revealed that fishing tours can be beneficial to efforts to conserve fish stocks and marine ecosystems, particularly through reduced catches, as well as, from a social point of view, to the physical and mental well-being of fishermen and their families through reduced working hours at sea(10);

AG.  whereas it has been noted that women have become involved in greater numbers not just in side activities related to fishermen’s work, but also in pursuing their own fisheries-related tourism activities;

AH.  whereas young people can also be considered one of the target groups for the development of fishing tourist destinations;

AI.  whereas traditional fishing is currently the least well-known primary sector activity and the one least studied and used as an educational tool at basic and intermediary academic levels;

AJ.  whereas there is broad scope for the introduction of educational activities relating to traditional fishing based on models such as that of the ‘farm school’;

AK.  whereas the development of tourism-related fishing activities depends to a crucial extent on partnerships, Fisheries Local Action Groups (FLAGs), in which those working in the fisheries sector and other local public and private stakeholders together devise and implement a bottom-up strategy geared to, and meeting, the economic, social, and environmental needs of the area concerned; whereas, although FLAGs in the EU operate in very different contexts and adopt very different strategies, they have, almost without exception, recognised tourism to be a key development factor;

AL.  whereas the Commission has set up the European Fisheries Areas Network (FARNET) Support Unit to help implement Axis 4 under the European Fisheries Fund (EFF); whereas FARNET is a networking platform for fishing areas and helps FLAGs to pursue local strategies, initiatives, and projects;

AM.  whereas local stakeholders have learned, through the FLAGs, how the tourist offering of a fishing area can evolve to encompass a complete package of activities and, thus, remain attractive even within a tourism segment in which competition is very keen; whereas tourism can in this way become a major source of additional revenue for fishing communities, thus ultimately contributing to the overall development of coastal and island regions;

AN.  whereas success stories testify to the FLAGs’ invaluable assistance to non-industrial fishing communities in Greece, Italy and Spain; whereas, in addition, the FARNET network has highlighted good practices in France, Belgium, Spain, Croatia and Italy(11);

AO.  whereas in Finland a model has been adopted for assessing the impact of fisheries-related tourist activities based on the duration of visits and the places of stay and number of visitors; whereas assessment findings have revealed problems regarding the definition of a ‘fishing tourist’ and the way in which visits should be counted(12);

AP.  whereas festivals are held in various coastal villages in Member States where it is important to integrate other means of increasing the tourism pull, such as by combining these with other quality offerings in the primary sector: disseminating knowledge of small-scale fishing and fishermen’s way of life, and providing contacts with traditional cultures, including regional foods and wines, and high-end products from the processing and canning industry reflecting the diversity of the EU;

AQ.  whereas in Spain, ‘Turismo marinero – Costa del Sol’ and other specialised agencies have been set up to promote the traditional fishing industry and help local people to develop and publicise fisheries-related tourist activities; whereas the Costa del Sol agency organises cooking courses on boats used by local fishermen, tours to observe fish species, and recreational fishing activities; whereas another option available is guided tours of the ‘Bioparc’, an open-air museum designed especially for children, where they can learn something about marine biology, traditional fishing (traditional fishing gear and techniques) and local culture; notes that the emulation of such initiatives, and the sharing of expertise in this area, among Member States would be beneficial to coastal and rural communities, particularly in peripheral regions(13);

AR.  whereas the Commission, Parliament and the Member States must therefore not prohibit traditional small-scale family fishing techniques indiscriminately, but must first make a proper impact assessment in order to avoid rendering emerging forms of sustainable, small-scale and authentic fishing tourism with traditional fishing gear impossible;

AS.  whereas in Croatia the fishing festivals held during the summer months at coastal and island tourist centres serve to promote fishing traditions, the cultural and historical heritage, local gastronomy and the traditional way of life;

1.  Considers it essential to redesign and adapt fishing vessels for tourist activities, bearing in mind that boats need to be renovated in order to guarantee tourists’ safety, and to ensure that there are no obstacles in terms of carrying out fishing activities while offering the comfort necessary for a pleasant experience, without increasing their fishing capacity; points out, however, that alterations of this kind, especially when carried out during the off-season for tourism, must not entail any restrictions for commercial fisheries;

2.  Highlights the as yet untapped potential of fishing-related tourism, which can bring considerable benefits to communities living in coastal areas by diversifying sources of local income; considers, in this regard, that fishing tourism at sea, and shore-based tourist services offered by fishermen, can complement commercial fishing and provide an additional income for fishing communities;

3.  Believes that the strategic goal of the Commission initiative should be to promote fishing tour activities, shore-based tourist services offered by fishermen, and sport fishing-related tourism, and to enable these to be developed to the full, throughout the EU, with the aid of a shared network and framework set up for this purpose;

4.  Calls on the Commission to promote, through the European Travel Commission and its portal visiteurope.com, sustainable recreational fishing tourism destinations in Europe, and, by means of a targeted information campaign, to make fishing businesses aware of the potential of these new and sustainable business models and of the growth opportunities they afford;

5.  Calls on the Commission to foster the establishment and development of fishing tourism, with the aim of applying a differentiated business strategy that is appropriate to the potential of this segment and able to meet its needs more effectively, working towards a new form of tourism in which the key concerns are for quality, flexibility, innovation and preserving the historic and cultural heritage of fishing areas, as well as their environment and health, among other aspects; calls as well on the Commission to promote and support investment in fisheries in the area of tourism, in order to create differentiated tourism capacities by promoting gastronomy connected with non-industrial fish products, angling tourism activities, underwater and diving tourism, etc., thereby sustainably capitalising on the fishing heritage and the recognisability of a specific fishing region;

6.  Calls on the Commission, in order to foster the establishment and development of fishing tourism, to encourage and actively support investments with a view to diversifying fisheries in cultural and artistic terms, as part of the traditional heritage (non-industrial products, music, dance, etc.), and to support investment in the promotion of fishing traditions, history and general fishing heritage (fishing gear, techniques, historical documents, etc.), by opening museums and organising exhibitions that are closely linked to coastal fishing;

7.  Calls on the Commission to look into the possibility of allowing a mixed use of vessels intended for catch-related activities so that, while still retaining this purpose, they may also accommodate other kinds of activities linked with the recreational and tourism sector, such as nautical information days or activities related to processing, learning or gastronomy, etc., in line with the system that operates in the rural sector involving farm schools or agritourism;

8.  Considers it necessary, therefore, to set up a European tourism fishing network, and a European network for tourist services related to sport/recreational fishing, following the highly successful example of FARNET, which offers considerable help to FLAGs;

9.  Considers there to be an urgent need to carefully direct support policies and properly assess their results, and to systematise, standardise and improve the gathering of statistics on the contribution of these diversifying activities to the revenue of European fishing areas; stresses as well the importance of monitoring the real impact of recreational fishing as an economic activity, its impact on stocks and any potential competition, via informal sales channels, with the professional fishing industry; urges the Commission to ensure that the fishing industry participates in the design of such monitoring measures;

10.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to develop and support partnerships with the fishing tourism sector promoted by MPA management bodies in the MPAs and in Natura 2000 sites with a view to combining the protection of natural resources with the promotion and development of culture through responsible enjoyment;

11.  Considers it vital to harmonise the definition of tourism-related fishing activities at Union level, with particular emphasis on fishing tours, shore-based tourist services offered by fishermen, aquaculture-related tourism, and tourism related to sport/recreational fishing; this definition should take into account the wide diversity of forms these activities may take, guarantee the consultation of all stakeholders, and ensure that fisheries-related tourism is regarded as an ancillary activity that enables fishermen to supplement their main fishing activity without moving into a sector other than fishing;

12.  Highlights the importance of distinguishing between the various forms of fisheries-related tourism, which include fishing tourism (pesca-tourism and itti-tourism), maritime and coastal water-based activities, recreational fishing (including angling tourism), inland fishing, and activities based on heritage and culture that are geared towards creating synergies with marketing initiatives for high-quality primary products, while respecting the natural heritage and the need to ensure animal protection and biodiversity;

13.  Calls on the Commission, in light of the huge differences among EU fishing operators involved in tourism, to adopt common rules on navigation safety, health and hygiene requirements for vessels used to carry out fishing tourism activities, and possible tax concessions, with the proviso that the aforementioned measures are sufficiently flexible to accommodate major differences in terms of individual fisheries and fishing vessels, and allow for distinctive regional characteristics;

14.  Recommends that the principle of the decarbonisation and energy efficiency of motorised vessels be included among the adaptations that must be made to such vessels when they are converted for use in these activities;

15.  Believes that it is advisable for proper transport and accommodation facilities to be provided for the tourists concerned, and for public spaces to be maintained and looked after, as and where required, in order to guarantee the long-term success of tourist activities;

16.  Calls on the Member States to fulfil their obligations under the EU’s Water Framework Directive and Marine Strategy Framework Directive in order to ensure good status of coastal and marine waters, in particular by improving resource efficiency and by effectively preventing and tackling pollution and waste;

17.  Calls on the Member States to lighten the administrative burden by simplifying licensing and other bureaucratic procedures;

18.  Stresses the need for these activities to be compatible with the protection of biodiversity, Natura 2000 sites and MPAs (EU Biodiversity strategy, Birds and Habitats directives) and thus the need to enhance dialogue and synergies with other concerned Member States;

19.  Believes that training courses should be provided for fishermen and fish farmers, as well as for their families and all local people involved, so as to ensure that they have the language skills and the knowledge necessary to welcome tourists and guarantee their safety, and to promote information on marine biology, local fish species, the environment and cultural traditions; calls on the Commission and the Council to recognise the role played by women in the fishing tourism sector, and in the sustainable development of areas that depend on fishing, with the aim of guaranteeing their participation on equal terms;

20.  Calls on the Member States, and on regional and local authorities, to disseminate widely information about the Commission’s European Job Mobility Portal EURES, which provides information for jobseekers and employers about job opportunities, skills and training needs in the ‘blue jobs’ sector, and to promote open online courses aimed at upgrading or reorienting skills relating to tourism management and innovative pesca-tourism;

21.  Calls on the Commission to include a dedicated section in the European Small Business Portal aimed at helping entrepreneurs/fishermen obtain funding for activities in the field of fisheries-related tourism;

22.  Considers occupational skills acquisition in fields such as digital marketing, the management and maintenance of social media communication, socio-cultural management and language skills to be a priority in fishing areas, so as to promote both the creation and the dissemination of fisheries-related tourist offerings;

23.  Considers it important that individual tourism offerings should have their own distinctive identity deriving, in each instance, from a strategy based on local peculiarities and the specialisation associated with them, and on the resources available; calls, accordingly, on the Commission and the Member States to promote sustainable forms of tourism and eco-tourism, not least through innovative marketing strategies, which should focus on traditional and sustainability characteristics and which should be monitored continuously with a view to balancing supply and demand;

24.  Calls for integrated offerings to be designed that provide consumers with full experiences based on the structured and synergetic combination of everything an area has to offer, and for partnerships to be formed to capture consumers via the tourism dynamics already in operation in areas adjacent to traditional fishing areas, such as conference and/or career tourism;

25.  Calls on the Commission to support and promote the involvement of fisheries and fishery workers also in projects relating to cultural and heritage tourism, such as the rediscovery of seafaring activities and traditional fishing grounds and occupations;

26.  Notes the importance of collaboration between tourism operators and fishermen in order to maximise the potential of fisheries-related tourism;

27.  Stresses the importance of tourism activities related to wildlife observation, and in particular whale watching, while respecting the natural wildlife habitats and biological needs; whereas this could have many educational, environmental, scientific and other socioeconomic benefits, and could help raise awareness of, and appreciation for, these unique species and the precious environment in which they live;

28.  Calls on the Member States and local and regional authorities to provide sustainable innovative infrastructure, including internet connections and IT, to help encourage the development of fisheries-related tourism and the regeneration of existing maritime, river and lake infrastructures;

29.  Calls on the Commission, the Member States and regional and local authorities to intensify promotion and communication campaigns, for instance in connection with the ‘European Destinations of Excellence’ and the ‘European Year of Cultural Heritage’ 2018, as well as initiatives similarly aimed at improving knowledge and awareness of traditional fishing culture and aquaculture; urges stakeholders to tap the potential of tourists and those able to travel off-season;

30.  Believes that responsible and sustainable business models for the diversification of fisheries must imply respect for the culture of local fishery communities and help preserve their identities; emphasises, in particular, that tourism-related recreational fishing should be in line with the interests of small, local artisanal fishing enterprises;

31.  Believes it important to develop pesca-tourism and itti-tourism as forms of ‘activity holiday’ experiences with major spin-off benefits, such as the promotion of maritime culture and fishery traditions, as well as education in matters of environmental awareness and species conservation;

32.  Points out the need to look into ways of expanding the potential demand for converted vessels, by broadening what is on offer, in order to appeal to, for example, the educational community, which has experience in using the agricultural sector for teaching purposes, as in ‘farm school’ projects;

33.  Underlines that product diversification necessitates suitable promotional efforts, and that a visibility strategy is needed for the target group of fishermen, including cross-border promotional initiatives;

34.  Believes, therefore, that fishing localities should consider launching joint marketing campaigns with other destinations in the same region – as was suggested in Parliament’s resolution of 29 October 2015 on new challenges and concepts for the promotion of tourism in Europe(14) – and promoting joint marketing platforms with a particular focus on promotion and online sales, on the basis of international cooperation;

35.  Takes the view that, within this marketing strategy, synergies should be established among marketing initiatives for high-quality fresh or processed products, gastronomy and tourism, grouped into territorial areas that are coherent from a cultural, production-related or environmental point of view and/or that are synergy-based;

36.  Considers it necessary to preserve the use of traditional practices and techniques, such as the almadraba and xeito, given that these are closely connected with the identity and way of life of coastal regions, and for these to be recognised as forming part of cultural heritage;

37.  Points to the importance of investing in the diversification of fisheries with a view to promoting tradition, history and the fishing heritage as a whole (including traditional fishing gear and techniques);

38.  Points to the importance of investing in the diversification of fisheries to promote the processing of local fishery products;

39.  Calls on the Member States to adopt strategies to overcome the problem of seasonality affecting tourist activities, one possibility being to establish gastronomic festivals and events, port and village fairs/markets(15), theme villages or museums (witness Spain and Cetera) where events can take place all year round, regardless of weather or sea conditions;

40.  Is convinced that a balanced mix of alternative and targeted tourism products, and the appropriate promotion and marketing of those products, can help in balancing the problems of seasonality;

41.  Considers it essential for Member States, regions, and stakeholders to share best practices, given the lack of synergy among businesses in the EU’s sea basins, resulting in fragmentation and limited economic advantages; notes that research institutes, museums, tourism companies, managers of Natura 2000 sites and MPAs, traditional canning and fish processing industries, and other stakeholders should be encouraged to work together to develop sustainable innovative products which, in addition to bringing economic added value, also meet visitors’ expectations; stresses that these activities should be incorporated into a consistent general framework for promoting sustainable and responsible tourism in the basins concerned; considers that FLAGs can play an important role in this connection and therefore need to be provided with appropriate funding;

42.  Calls on the Member States and the Commission to strengthen the links between local, regional and national authorities, and the EU, in order to promote forms of governance enabling cross-cutting policies to be implemented with a view to furthering aims in various fields of activity, including sustainable and inclusive growth;

43.  Calls on the Commission to promote, in the framework of FARNET and the FLAGs, a pan-European dialogue with ports and tourism stakeholders and environmental experts;

44.  Calls on national authorities and agencies to work more closely with tourism agencies and to accord a high priority to diversifying the blue economy, with particular reference to marine tourism and its complementary sectors; notes that this should also include the integration of sea angling, where relevant, into tourism packages and marketing campaigns, particularly for islands and coastal areas; emphasizes that licensing the dual use of fishing vessels – both commercial, small-scale and artisanal fishing vessels, and vessels for marine tourism, including tourism angling – should be considered a priority, and that grants should be provided to aid in their conversion;

45.  Calls on the Commission, the Member States, local and regional authorities, the sector concerned and other stakeholders to take targeted action in line with EU policies affecting the fisheries and aquaculture sector; points to the need to adopt a best-practice manual setting out the most significant examples to encourage other businesses to follow suit; points out that the local scientific community also needs to be involved in order to prevent environmental problems;

46.  Stresses the importance of environment-friendly business models, and therefore recommends that environmental experts should always be closely associated with local action groups (e.g. FLAGs and rural local action groups (LAGs));

47.  Calls for the earmarking of the funding needed to establish a European network for the exchange of best practices, and for the mapping of fishing activities with information regarding points of interest and the characteristics of each fishing community;

48.  Hopes that specific support mechanisms will be used (in the context of the EMFF and/or other instruments), which may be activated in the event of an emergency (such as a natural disaster) in areas in which fishing and fishing tourism represent the only source of income;

49.  Considers it necessary to encourage funding for measures of the type described under the EMFF, the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the European Social Fund (ESF) and the Cohesion Fund, the research framework programme and the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), in close cooperation with advisers from the European Investment Bank (EIB), and to facilitate soft loan channels that make it possible to avoid the specific difficulties faced by women in finding funding to finance projects eligible for inclusion in national programmes;

50.  Stresses that for the 2007-2013 programming period, the FLAGs had at their disposal EUR 486 million from the EFF, and that approximately 12 000 local projects were supported during that period;

51.  Encourages the Member States and the FLAGs to make the best use of the available funds, and also to make use, where possible, of multi-funding (jointly with the ERDF, the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) or the ESF);

52.  Calls on the Member States to set up contact points at regional level to provide adequate information and support;

53.  Recommends that FLAGs cooperate closely with tourism experts in order to identify projects and appropriate funding, through Axis 4 of the EMFF, for diversification in fisheries areas;

54.  Points out that the EMFF provides specific financial support to initiatives in fishing communities promoted by women;

55.  Calls on the Member States to ensure, through the establishment of the selection criteria for operations under the EMFF, that gender equality is well mainstreamed and promoted throughout the actions financed (e.g. by providing preference to actions aimed specifically at women or undertaken by them);

56.  Calls on the Commission to conduct a study to gauge the likely socio-economic and environmental impact of these activities;

57.  Calls on the Commission to analyse the socio-economic impact of recreational fishing on inland tourism, in particular in rural areas, and to propose possible measures for regions where the potential for such fishing is underexploited;

58.  Calls on the Member States and the Commission to improve the collection and management of data on fishery-related tourism;

59.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the European Economic and Social Committee, the Committee of the Regions, the governments of the Member States, and the Advisory Councils.

(1) OJ L 354, 28.12.2013, p. 22.
(2) OJ L 149, 20.5.2014, p. 1.
(3) OJ L 327, 22.12.2000, p. 1.
(4) OJ C 419, 16.12.2015, p. 167.
(5) OJ C 75, 26.2.2016, p. 24.
(6) ‘Indagine sulle abitudini e opinioni dei cittadini nel comprensorio del GAC “il mare delle Alpi” – Analisi della pescaturismo in Italia come strumento di sviluppo sostenibile’ (2015).
(7) ‘L’integrazione della pesca con altre attività produttive – La pescaturismo come modello sociale e culturale’, Cenasca Cisl et al., (2005).
(8) ‘Indagine sulle abitudini e opinioni dei cittadini nel comprensorio del GAC “il mare delle Alpi” – Analisi della pescaturismo in Italia come strumento di sviluppo sostenibile’ (2015).
(9) ‘L’integrazione della pesca con altre attività produttive – La pescaturismo come modello sociale e culturale’, Cenasca Cisl et al., (2005).
(10) ‘Indagine sulle abitudini e opinioni dei cittadini nel comprensorio del GAC “il mare delle Alpi” – Analisi della pescaturismo in Italia come strumento di sviluppo sostenibile’ (2015).
(11) Socio-economic analysis on fisheries-related tourism in EUSAIR – Nemo project 1M-MED14-11, WP2, Action 2.3.
(12) ‘Perspectives for the development of tourism activities related to fishing’, European Parliament, IP/B/PECH/IC/2013-103 (2014).
(13) ‘Perspectives for the development of tourism activities related to fishing’, European Parliament, IP/B/PECH/IC/2013-103 (2014).
(14) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0391.
(15) E.g. the Herring Fleet Days and Port Days in the Netherlands.


Limitation periods for traffic accidents
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Resolution
Annex
European Parliament resolution of 4 July 2017 with recommendations to the Commission on limitation periods for traffic accidents (2015/2087(INL))
P8_TA(2017)0281A8-0206/2017

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to Article 225 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

–  having regard to Articles 67(4) and 81(2) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

–  having regard to Article 47 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (‘the Charter’),

–  having regard to Article 6 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECHR) and the case-law thereof,

–  having regard to the case-law of the Court of Justice of the European Union on the principles of national procedural autonomy and effective judicial protection(1),

–  having regard to the Regulation (EC) No 864/2007 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 July 2007 on the law applicable to non-contractual obligations (Rome II)(2) (‘the Rome II Regulation’),

–  having regard to the Hague Convention of 4 May 1971 on the Law Applicable to Traffic Accidents (‘the 1971 Hague Traffic Accident Convention’),

–  having regard to Directive 2009/103/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 September 2009 relating to insurance against civil liability in respect of the use of motor vehicles, and the enforcement of the obligation to insure against such liability(3) (‘the Motor Insurance Directive’),

–  having regard to the European Convention on the Calculation of Time-Limits(4),

–  having regard to the European Added Value Assessment study from the European Added Value Unit of the European Parliament Research Service (EPRS) entitled ‘Limitation periods for road traffic accidents’ accompanying the European Parliament’s legislative own initiative report(5),

–  having regard to the study from the Directorate General for internal policies entitled ‘Cross-border traffic accidents in the EU-the potential impact of driverless cars’(6),

–  having regard to the study from the Commission entitled ‘Compensation of victims of cross-border road traffic accidents in the EU: Comparison of national practices, analysis of problems and evaluation of options for improving the position of cross-border victims’(7),

–  having regard to the communication of the Commission of 20 April 2010 entitled ‘Delivering an area of freedom, security and justice for Europe's citizens – Action Plan Implementing the Stockholm Programme’(8),

–  having regard to its resolution of 1 February 2007 with recommendations to the Commission on limitation periods in cross-border disputes involving personal injuries and fatal accidents(9),

–  having regard to its resolution of 22 October 2003 on the proposal for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Council Directives 72/166/EEC, 84/5/EEC, 88/357/EEC, 90/232/EEC and Directive 2000/26/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council on insurance against civil liability in respect of the use of motor vehicles(10),

–  having regard to Rules 46 and 52 of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Legal Affairs (A8-0206/2017),

A.  whereas in the Union, limitation rules on claims for damages vary widely between the Member States, so that no two Member States apply exactly the same basic rules of limitation; whereas also the relevant limitation is determined on the basis of various factors, including whether there are related criminal proceedings and whether the claim is considered tortious or contractual;

B.  whereas national limitation systems are thus highly complex and it can often be challenging to understand which is the applicable overall limitation, when and how limitations begin to run and how these are suspended, interrupted or extended;

C.  whereas unfamiliarity with foreign rules of limitation can lead to the loss of the right to make an otherwise valid claim, or to obstacles for the victims with regard to accessing justice, in the form of additional costs and delays;

D.  whereas there are only limited statistics currently available on the rejection of claims for damages in cross-border traffic accidents on the ground that a limitation period has expired;

E.  whereas in the area of cross-border traffic accidents, the only cause of action already harmonised at Union level is that established in Article 18 of the Motor Insurance Directive, enabling victims to seek compensation in their own country of residence by way of a claim for compensation brought directly against a relevant insurance undertaking or against a relevant compensation body for civil liability in respect of the use of motor vehicles(11);

F.  whereas limitation periods constitute an important and integral part of Member States’ civil liability regimes which operate in traffic accident cases in that a short limitation period may balance a strict liability rule or generous damages awards;

G.  whereas limitation periods for claims are essential to ensuring legal certainty and the finality of disputes; whereas, however, the defendant’s rights to legal certainty and finality of disputes should be balanced with the claimant’s fundamental rights to access to justice and to an effective remedy, and unnecessarily short limitation periods could obstruct effective access to justice across the Union;

H.  whereas, given the current divergences in relation to limitation rules and the types of problems that are directly related to the disparate national provisions governing trans-national personal injury and damage to property cases, a certain level of harmonisation is the only way to ensure an adequate degree of certainty, predictability and simplicity in the application of Member States’ rules of limitation in cases of cross-border traffic accidents;

I.  whereas such a legislative initiative should strike a balance of fairness between litigants in respect of issues concerning limitation rules and facilitate the calculation and suspension of the running of time; whereas, therefore, a targeted approach that takes into account the increasing amount of cross-border traffic within the Union, without overhauling the entire legal framework of Member States is hereby envisaged;

1.  Recognises that the situation of traffic accident victims has been considerably improved over the last few decades including at the level of jurisdiction in private international law, whereby visiting victims can benefit from proceedings in the Member State in which they are domiciled for any direct claim made against the liability insurer of the car or compensation bodies;

2.  Notes however, that the continued existence in the Union of two parallel regimes governing the law applicable in traffic accident cases depending on the country where the claim is brought, namely either the 1971 Hague Traffic Accident Convention or the Rome II Regulation, which combined with the choice of forum possibilities under Regulation (EU) No 1215/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council(12), creates legal uncertainty and complexity as well as potential opportunities for forum shopping;

3.  Reiterates that in cross-border litigation, the length of time for investigations and negotiations is often much longer than in domestic claims; underscores in this context that such challenges could be exacerbated when new technologies play a role, such as in the case of driverless cars;

4.  Recalls in this context that the subject of limitation rules should be understood as forming part of the measures in the field of judicial co-operation in civil matters within the meaning of Article 67(4) and Article 81 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU);

5.  Notes that the existence of common minimum rules in respect of limitation periods in cross-border disputes is essential to ensuring that effective legal means are available for the protection of victims of cross-border road traffic accidents and to guaranteeing legal certainty;

6.  Stresses that disproportionately short limitation periods in national legal systems constitute an obstacle to accessing justice in the Member States which may contravene the right to a fair trial enshrined in Article 47 of the Charter and in Article 6 of the ECHR;

7.  Highlights that the significant difference between Member States’ rules in respect of limitation periods for cross-border road traffic accidents creates further obstacles for victims when filing claims for compensation for personal injury and damage to property suffered in Member States other than their own;

8.  Calls on the Commission to ensure that general information on Member States’ rules of limitation for claims of compensation for damages in cross-border traffic accidents become available and are constantly updated on the e-Justice Portal;

9.  Also calls on the Commission to undertake a study on the protection afforded in the Member States to minors and persons with a disability in respect of the running of time for limitation purposes, and on the necessity to set minimum rules at Union level to ensure that such persons do not lose their rights to claim compensation when involved in a cross-border road traffic accident and that they are guaranteed effective access to justice in the Union;

10.  Requests the Commission to submit, on the basis of Article 81(2) TFEU, a proposal for an act on limitation periods in respect of personal injury and damage to property in cross-border road traffic accidents, following the recommendations set out in the Annex hereto;

11.  Considers that the requested proposal does not have financial implications;

12.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution and the accompanying recommendations to the Commission and the Council and to the parliaments and governments of the Member States.

ANNEX TO THE RESOLUTION:

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR A DIRECTIVE OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL ON COMMON LIMITATION PERIODS FOR CROSS-BORDER ROAD TRAFFIC ACCIDENTS

A.  PRINCIPLES AND AIMS OF THE PROPOSAL REQUESTED

1.  In the European Union, enforcement of law before the courts remains largely a matter of national procedural rules and practice. National courts are also Union courts. It is therefore for those Courts in the course of the proceedings before them to ensure fairness, justice and efficiency as well as effective application of Union law, guaranteeing that European citizens’ rights are protected throughout the European Union.

2.  The Union has set itself the objective of maintaining and developing an area of freedom, security and justice. According to the Presidency conclusions of the European Council in Tampere of 15 and 16 October 1999, and in particular point 38 thereof, new procedural legislation in cross-border cases should be prepared, in particular on those elements which are instrumental to smooth judicial co-operation and to enhanced access to law, e.g. provisional measures, taking of evidence, orders for money payment and time limits.

3.  Common minimum limitation period rules applicable in trans-national personal injury and property damage litigation arising out of road traffic accidents are deemed necessary to reduce the obstacles for claimants when enforcing their rights in Member States other than their own.

4.  Common minimum limitation period rules would lead to increased certainty and predictability, limiting risks of under-compensation of cross-border road traffic accidents’ victims.

5.  As such, the proposed Directive is aimed at establishing a special limitation regime for cross-border cases that would safeguard effective access to justice and facilitate the proper functioning of the internal market, eliminating obstacles to the free movement of citizens throughout the territory of the Member States.

6.  The proposed Directive is not aimed at substituting national civil liability regimes in their entirety, but, while respecting national specificities, it is aimed at establishing common minimum rules regarding limitation periods for claims falling within the scope of application of Directive 2009/103/EC and that have a cross-border nature.

7.  The present proposal complies with the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality, as the Member States cannot act alone to set up a set of minimum limitation period rules, and the proposal goes no further than absolutely necessary to ensure effective access to justice and legal certainty in the Union.

B.  TEXT OF THE PROPOSAL REQUESTED

Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on common limitation periods for cross-border road traffic accidents

THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND THE COUNCIL OF THE EUROPEAN UNION,

Having regard to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, and in particular Articles 67(4) and 81(2) thereof,

Having regard to the European Parliament’s request to the European Commission,

Having regard to the proposal from the European Commission,

After transmission of the draft legislative act to the national parliaments,

Having regard to the opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee,

Acting in accordance with the ordinary legislative procedure,

Whereas:

(1)  The Union has set itself the objective of maintaining and developing an area of freedom, security and justice, in which the free movement of persons is ensured. For the gradual establishment of such an area, the Union is to adopt measures relating to judicial cooperation in civil matters having cross-border implications, particularly when necessary for the proper functioning of the internal market.

(2)  Pursuant to Article 81(2) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, those measures are to include measures aimed at ensuring, inter alia, effective access to justice and the elimination of obstacles to the good functioning of civil proceedings, if necessary by promoting the compatibility of the rules on civil procedure applicable in the Member States.

(3)  According to the communication of the Commission of 20 April 2010 entitled ‘Delivering an area of freedom, security and justice for Europe's citizens – Action Plan Implementing the Stockholm Programme’(13), when citizens drive to another Member State and are unfortunate enough to have an accident, they need legal certainty on the limitation periods of insurance claims. To this end, a new Regulation on limitation periods on cross border road traffic accidents to be adopted in 2011 was announced.

(4)  Limitation rules have a considerable impact not only on the injured parties’ right to access justice, but also on their substantive rights, since there cannot be an effective right without proper and adequate protection of it. This Directive seeks to promote the application of common limitation periods for cross-border road traffic accidents to secure effective access to justice in the Union. The generally recognised right of access to justice is also reaffirmed by Article 47 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (‘the Charter’).

(5)  The requirement of legal certainty and the need to do justice in individual cases are essential elements of any area of justice. Common limitation periods increasing legal certainty, ensuring that disputes are ended and contributing to an effective enforcement regime are therefore necessary to guarantee the application of that principle.

(6)  The provisions of this Directive should apply to claims falling within the scope of application of Directive 2009/103/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council(14) which are of a cross-border nature.

(7)  Nothing should prevent Member States from applying any of the provisions of this Directive also to purely internal road traffic accident cases, where appropriate.

(8)  All Member States are contracting parties to the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms of 4 November 1950 (ECHR). The matters referred to in this Directive should be dealt with in compliance with that Convention and in particular the rights of fair trial and effective remedy.

(9)  The principle of the lex loci damni constitutes the general rule established in Regulation (EC) No 864/2007 of the European Parliament and of the Council(15) with regard to the applicable law to cases of personal injury or damage to property, which should thus be determined on the basis of where the damage occurs, regardless of the country or countries in which the indirect consequences could occur. Pursuant to point (h) of Article 15 of that Regulation, the law applicable to non-contractual obligations is to govern in particular the manner in which an obligation can be extinguished and rules of prescription and limitation, including rules relating to the commencement, interruption and suspension of a period of prescription or limitation.

(10)  In the field of road traffic accidents, it can be very difficult for a visiting victim to get basic information about the accident from the foreign jurisdiction within a relatively short time, such as the identity of the defendant and liabilities potentially involved. It may also take considerable time to identify which claims representative or insurer should deal with the case, to collect evidence about the accident and to have any necessary documents translated.

(11)  It is not uncommon in cross-border road traffic cases for the claimant to be very close to the expiration of a time limit before negotiations can be started with the defendant. This happens most often when the overall time limit is particularly short or when there is ambiguity about the way in which the limitation period can be suspended or interrupted. The gathering of information about an accident, which occurred in a country other than the claimant’s country of residence can take considerable time. Therefore, the running of the general time limit established in the Directive should be suspended, as soon as a claim is made to the insurer or the compensation body, to allow the claimant an opportunity to negotiate the settlement of the claim.

(12)  This Directive should set minimum rules. Member States should be able to provide a higher level of protection. Such higher level of protection should not constitute an obstacle to the effective access to justice that such minimum rules are designed to facilitate. The level of protection provided for by the Charter, as interpreted by the Court, and the primacy, unity and effectiveness of Union law should thereby not be compromised.

(13)  This Directive should be without prejudice to Regulation (EC) No 864/2007 and Regulation (EU) No 1215/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council(16).

(14)  This Directive seeks to promote the fundamental rights, and takes into account the principles and values recognised in particular by the Charter, and at the same time seeks to achieve the Union objective of maintaining and developing an area of freedom, security and justice.

(15)  Since the objectives of this Directive, namely setting common minimum standards for limitation periods in cross-border road traffic accidents, cannot be sufficiently achieved by the Member States, but can rather, by reason of scale or effects of the action, be better achieved at Union level, the Union may adopt measures, in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity as set out in Article 5 of the Treaty on European Union. In accordance with the principle of proportionality, as set out in that Article, this Directive does not go beyond what is necessary in order to achieve those objectives.

(16)  In accordance with Articles 1 and 2 of Protocol No 21 on the position of the United Kingdom and Ireland in respect of the area of freedom, security and justice annexed to the Treaty on European Union and to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, [the United Kingdom and Ireland have given notice of their wish to take part in the adoption and application of this Directive]/[without prejudice to Article 4 of the Protocol, the United Kingdom and Ireland will not participate in the adoption of this Directive and will not be bound by it or be subject to its application].

(17)  In accordance with Articles 1 and 2 of Protocol No 22 on the position of Denmark, annexed to the Treaty on European Union and to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, Denmark will not participate in the adoption of this Directive and is not therefore bound by it or required to apply it,

HAVE ADOPTED THIS DIRECTIVE:

CHAPTER I:

SUBJECT MATTER, SCOPE AND DEFINITIONS

Article 1

Subject matter

The objective of this Directive is to lay down minimum standards concerning the overall length, commencement, suspension, and calculation of limitation periods for compensation claims for personal injury and damage to property and recoverable under Directive 2009/103/EC, in respect of cross-border road traffic accidents.

Article 2

Scope

This Directive applies to compensation claims in respect of any loss or injury as a result of an accident caused by a vehicle covered by insurance against:

a.  the insurance undertaking covering the person responsible against civil liability under Article 18 of Directive 2009/103/EC; or

b.  the compensation body provided for in Articles 24 and 25 of Directive 2009/103/EC.

Article 3

Cross-border road traffic accident

1.  For the purposes of this Directive, a cross-border road traffic accident means any road accident caused by the use of vehicles insured and normally based in a Member State and which takes place in a Member State other than that of the habitual residence of the victim or in third countries whose national insurers’ bureaux, as defined in Article 6 of Directive 2009/103/EC, have joined the green card system.

2.  In this Directive, the term ‘Member State’ means a Member State other than [the UK, Ireland and] Denmark.

CHAPTER II:

MINIMUM STANDARDS FOR LIMITATION PERIODS

Article 4

Period of limitation

1.  Member States shall ensure that a limitation period of at least four years applies to actions relating to compensation for personal injury and damage to property resulting from a cross-border road traffic accident, falling within Article 2. The limitation period shall begin to run from the day on which the claimant became aware, or had reasonable grounds to become aware, of the extent of the injury, loss or damage, its cause and the identity of the person liable and the insurance undertaking covering this person against civil liability or the claim representative or compensation body responsible for providing compensation and against whom the claim is to be brought.

2.  Member States shall ensure that where the proper law of the claim provides for a limitation period which is longer than four years, such longer limitation period shall apply.

3.  Member States shall ensure that they provide the Commission with up-to-date information on national rules of limitation for damages caused by traffic accidents.

Article 5

Suspension of limits

1.  Member States shall ensure that the limitation provided for in Article 4 of this Directive shall be suspended during the period between the claimant’s submission of his or her claim to:

a)  the insurance undertaking of the person who caused the accident, or its claims representative as provided for in Articles 21 and 22 of Directive 2009/103/EC, or

b)  the compensation body provided for in Articles 24 and 25 Directive 2009/103/EC,

and the defendant’s rejection of the claim.

2.  Where the remaining part of the limitation period once the period of suspension ends is less than six months, Member States shall ensure that the claimant is granted with a minimum period of six additional months to initiate court proceedings.

Article 6

Automatic extension of periods

Member States shall ensure that if a period expires on a Saturday, Sunday or on one of their official holidays, it shall be extended until the end of the first following working day.

Article 7

Calculation of periods

Member States shall ensure that any period of time prescribed by this Directive, shall be reckoned as follows:

a)  calculation shall start on the day following the day on which the relevant event occurred;

b)  when a period is expressed as one year or a certain number of years, it shall expire in the relevant subsequent year in the month having the same name and on the day having the same number as the month and the day on which the said event occurred. If the relevant subsequent month has no day with the same number, the period shall expire on the last day of that month;

c)  periods shall not be suspended during Court holidays.

Article 8

Settlement of claims

Member States shall ensure that where victims have recourse to the procedure referred to in Article 22 of Directive 2009/103/EC for the settlement of claims arising from an accident caused by a vehicle covered by insurance, that fact shall not have the effect of preventing victims from initiating judicial proceedings or arbitration in relation to those claims by the expiry of any limitation period under this Directive during the procedure for the settlement of their claim.

CHAPTER III:

OTHER PROVISIONS

Article 9

General information on rules of limitation

The Commission shall make publicly available and easily accessible, by any appropriate means and in all Union languages, general information on the national rules of limitation for compensation claims on damages caused by traffic accidents communicated by the Member States pursuant to Article 4(3) of this Directive.

Article 10

Relationship with national law

This Directive shall not prevent Member States from extending the rights set out herein to provide a higher level or protection.

Article 11

Relationship with other provisions of Union law

This Directive shall not prejudice the application of Regulation (EC) No 864/2007 and Regulation (EU) No 1215/2012.

CHAPTER IV:

FINAL PROVISIONS

Article 12

Transposition

1.  Member States shall bring into force the laws, regulations and administrative provisions necessary to comply with this Directive by [one year after the date of entry into force of this Directive]. They shall immediately inform the Commission thereof.

2.  When Member States adopt those measures, they shall contain a reference to this Directive or shall be accompanied by such a reference on the occasion of their official publication. The methods of making such reference shall be laid down by Member States.

3.  Member States shall communicate to the Commission the text of the measures of national law which they adopt in the field covered by this Directive.

Article 13

Review

The Commission shall, not later than 31 December 2025, and every five years thereafter, submit to the European Parliament, the Council and the European Economic and Social Committee a report on the application of this Directive on the basis of both qualitative and quantitative information. In this context, the Commission should in particular evaluate the impact of this Directive on access to justice, on legal certainty and on the free movement of persons. If necessary, the report shall be accompanied by legislative proposals to adapt and strengthen this Directive.

Article 14

Entry into force

This Directive shall enter into force on the 20th day following that of its publication in the Official Journal of the European Union.

Article 15

Addresses

This Directive is addressed to the Member States in accordance with the Treaties.

Done at Brussels, [date]

For the European Parliament For the Council

The President The President

(1) See inter alia: judgment of 18 September 2003, Peter Pflücke v Bundesanstalt für Arbeit, C-125/01, ECLI:EU:C:2003:477, judgment of 25 July 1991, Theresa Emmott v Minister for Social Welfare and Attorney General, C-208/90, ECLI:EU:C:1991:333 and judgment of 13 July 2006, Vincenzo Manfredi and Others v Lloyd Adriatico Assicurazioni SpA and Others, joined cases C-295/04 to C-298/04, ECLI:EU:C:2006:461.
(2) OJ L 199, 31.7.2007, p. 40.
(3) OJ L 263, 7.10.2009, p. 11.
(4) CETS 076.
(5) PE 581.386, July 2016.
(6) PE 571.362, June 2016.
(7) Available online here: http://ec.europa.eu/civiljustice/news/docs/study_compensation_road_victims_en.pdf (30 November 2008).
(8) OJ C 121, 19.4.2011, p. 41.
(9) OJ C 250 E, 25.10.2007, p. 99.
(10) Texts adopted, P5_TA(2003)0446.
(11) See also: judgment of 13 December 2007, FBTO Schadeverzekeringen NV v Jack Odenbreit, C-463/06, ECLI:EU:C:2007:792.
(12) Regulation (EU) No 1215/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 December 2012 on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters (OJ L 351, 20.12.2012, p. 1).
(13) COM(2010)0171.
(14) Directive 2009/103/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 September 2009 relating to insurance against civil liability in respect of the use of motor vehicles, and the enforcement of the obligation to insure against such liability (OJ L 263, 7.10.2009, p. 11).
(15) Regulation (EC) No 864/2007 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 July 2007 on the law applicable to non-contractual obligations (Rome II) (OJ L 199, 31.7.2007, p. 40).
(16) Regulation (EU) No 1215/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 December 2012 on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters (OJ L 351, 20.12.2012, p. 1).


Common minimum standards of civil procedure
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Resolution
Annex
European Parliament resolution of 4 July 2017 with recommendations to the Commission on common minimum standards of civil procedure in the European Union (2015/2084(INL))
P8_TA(2017)0282A8-0210/2017

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to Article 225 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU),

–  having regard to Article 67(4) TFEU and 81(2) TFEU,

–  having regard to Article 19(1) of the Treaty of the European Union (TEU) and Article 47 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (the ‘Charter’),

–  having regard to Article 6 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECHR) and to the relevant case-law thereof,

–  having regard to the working document on ‘Establishing common minimum standards for civil procedure in the European Union – the legal basis’(1),

–  having regard to the European Added Value Assessment study from the European Added Value Unit of the European Parliament Research Service (EPRS) entitled ‘Common minimum standards of civil procedure’(2),

–  having regard to the in-depth analysis from the Members’ Research Service of the EPRS entitled ‘Europeanisation of civil procedure: towards common minimum standards?’(3),

–  having regard to the in-depth analysis from the Directorate General for internal policies entitled ‘Harmonised rules and minimum standards in the European law of civil procedure’(4),

–  having regard to the European Law Institute (ELI)/ International Institute for the Unification of Private law (UNIDROIT) project on ‘From Transnational Principles to European Rules of Civil Procedure’,

–  having regard to the American Law Institute (ALI)/ UNIDROIT ‘Principles of Transnational Civil Procedure’(5),

–  having regard to the ‘Study on the approximation of the laws and rules of the Member States concerning certain aspects of the procedure for civil litigation’, the so-called ‘Storme Report’(6),

–  having regard to the preliminary set of provisions for the Rules of Procedure of the Unified Patent Court,

–  having regard to the Union acquis in the area of civil justice cooperation,

–  having regard to the case-law of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) on the principles of national procedural autonomy and effective judicial protection(7),

–  having regard to the 2016 EU Justice Scoreboard,

–  having regard to the 2016 CEPEJ Studies No 23 on ‘European judicial systems: efficiency and quality of justice’,

–  having regard to the 2016 ‘Judicial Training Principles’ of the European Judicial Training Network(8),

–  having regard to its resolution of 2 April 2014 on the mid-term review of the Stockholm programme(9),

–  having regard to Rules 46 and 52 of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Legal Affairs (A8-0210/2017),

CJEU case-law on national procedural autonomy and effective judicial protection

A.  whereas according to the CJEU’s settled case-law on the principle of procedural autonomy, in the event of there being no Union rules on the procedural aspects of a dispute concerning Union law, Member States are responsible for designating the courts having jurisdiction and for determining the details regarding procedures to be followed in respect of actions initiated to ensure the protection of rights conferred by the Union;

B.  whereas according to that same case-law, the application of national law as regards procedural rules is subject to two important conditions: national procedural rules cannot be less favourable when applied to disputes concerning Union law than when applied to similar actions of a domestic nature (the principle of equivalence) and should not be framed in such a way that they render the enforcement of Union rights and obligations impossible in practice or excessively difficult (the principle of effectiveness);

C.  whereas in the absence of Union provisions harmonising procedural rules, the competence of Member States to lay down procedural rules for the enforcement of rights conferred by the Union does not extend to the introduction of new remedies in national legal orders to ensure the applicability of Union law;(10)

D.  whereas the body of case law established by the CJEU facilitates it in its cooperation with courts at Member State level, while improving understanding of Union law on the part of the citizens and of such courts;

The Charter

E.  whereas the right to an effective remedy and to a fair trial, as enshrined in Article 47 of the Charter and in Article 6 ECHR, constitutes one of the fundamental guarantees for the respect of the rule of law and democracy and is inextricably linked to civil procedure as a whole;

F.  whereas despite the fact that Article 47 of the Charter is binding, and Article 6 ECHR constitutes a general principle of Union law, the level of protection of the right to a fair trial in civil proceedings, and in particular the balance between the claimant's right of access to justice and the defendant's rights of defence, is not harmonised across the Union;

G.  whereas nevertheless, as a fundamental right, the right to a fair trial has been supplemented by several procedural secondary Union law acts, including the Small Claims Regulation(11), the Legal Aid Directive(12), the Collective Redress Recommendation(13), the Consumer Injunctions Directive(14) and the Competition Damages Directive(15);

The Union acquis in civil justice cooperation

H.  whereas Union citizens, especially those who move across borders, are currently far more likely to come into contact with the civil procedure systems of another Member State;

I.  whereas minimum civil procedure standards at Union level could contribute to the modernisation of national proceedings, a level playing field for businesses and increased economic growth, by making judicial systems more effective and efficient, while at the same time facilitating citizens’ access to justice in the Union and helping to uphold the fundamental freedoms of the Union;

J.  whereas increasingly, the Union legislature addresses issues of civil procedure not only horizontally, as in the case of optional instruments,(16) but also in a sector-specific manner, within various policy fields, such as intellectual property(17), consumer protection(18) or, recently, competition law(19);

K.  whereas the piecemeal nature of the harmonisation at Union level of procedural rules has been repeatedly criticised and the emergence of sector-specific Union civil procedure law challenges the coherence of both civil procedure systems at Member State level and the various Union instruments;

L.  whereas the proposed directive is aimed at introducing a framework for civil justice adjudication by systematising existing Union rules of civil procedure and extending their scope of application to all matters falling within the scope of Union law;

M.  whereas the proposed directive is designed to help to achieve a more coordinated, coherent and systematic approach to civil justice systems that is not limited by the borders, interests and resources of an individual country;

The legal basis of the proposal

N.  whereas pursuant to Articles 4(1) and 5(1) TEU (principle of conferral) the Union may legislate in a given area only if it has explicit competence to do so and in so far as it complies with the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality;

O.  whereas within the existing Treaty framework, the main legal basis for the harmonisation of civil procedure is provided for in Title V TFEU, in the Area of Freedom, Security and Justice;

P.  whereas the requirement of a cross-border element for Union competence to be established has been maintained under the Lisbon Treaty, with the result that Union action in the area of civil justice is only possible if there are connecting factors in a case (e.g. residence, place of performance, etc.) involving at least two different Member States;

Q.  whereas the general provision of Article 114 TFEU on the approximation of the provisions laid down by law, regulation or administrative action in Member States which have as their object the establishment and functioning of the internal market has been and is still being used as the legal basis for a wide range of sector-specific directives which harmonise certain aspects of civil procedure, such as for example the Intellectual Property Rights Enforcement Directive (IPRED) and the most recent Directive on Antitrust Damages;

R.  whereas pursuant to Article 67(4) TFEU the Union should facilitate access to justice, particularly through the principle of mutual recognition of judicial and extrajudicial decisions in civil matters, as exemplified in Article 81 TFEU;

Mutual Trust in the European Judicial Area

S.  whereas the free movement of judicial decisions is intertwined with the need to create a sufficient level of mutual trust between judicial authorities of the various Member States as regards in particular the level of protection of procedural rights;

T.  whereas 'mutual trust' is understood in this context as the confidence that Member States should have in each other's legal and judicial systems, and results in a prohibition on reviewing the actions of other States and their judiciaries;

U.  whereas the principle of mutual trust serves to produce more legal certainty, providing citizens and businesses of the Union with sufficient stability and predictability;

V.  whereas implementation of, and compliance with, the principle of mutual recognition of judgments, coupled with the approximation of laws, facilitates cooperation between the authorities and the legal protection of individual rights;

W.  whereas a system of Union common minimum standards in the form of principles and rules, would serve as a first step for convergence of national regulations concerning civil procedure, establishing a balance between the fundamental rights of litigants in the interest of full mutual trust between the judicial systems of the Member States;

X.  whereas the existence of, and respect for, procedural guarantees for the efficiency and efficacy of civil proceedings and the equal treatment of the parties are desirable and indeed necessary to ensure mutual trust;

Y.  whereas the enactment of such a system of common minimum standards would also set a minimum level of quality of civil proceedings across the Union, thus contributing not only to the reinforcement of mutual trust between judiciaries, but also to the smoother operation of the internal market, as it is estimated that the procedural differences among Member States may, inter alia, constitute disturbances to trade and can deter businesses and consumers from exercising their internal market rights;

Other considerations

Z.  whereas the approximation of procedural regimes in the Union is necessary; whereas the proposed Directive is meant to be a first step in the process of further harmonisation and convergence of Member States’ civil justice systems and of the creation of a Union Code of Civil Procedure in the longer-term;

AA.  whereas the proposed Directive does not affect either the judicial organisation of the Member States or the principal characteristics of the manner in which civil litigation is conducted but facilitates more efficient national procedural rules;

AB.  whereas it is therefore of the utmost importance to adopt and to properly implement legislation providing for the adoption of common minimum standards of civil procedure in the Union;

CJEU case-law on national procedural autonomy and effective judicial protection

1.  Notes the pivotal role of the CJEU in establishing the foundations of the Union civil procedure, having shaped the understanding of what civil procedure means for the Union legal system;

2.  Underscores however that although some civil procedure standards which are nowadays accepted as part of the Union procedural system were affirmed in CJEU case-law, the contribution of the CJEU should ultimately be seen as standard-interpreting rather than standard-setting;

3.  Stresses therefore that the rich experience of the CJEU in reviewing remedial and procedural rules as well as the compromises and the competing values the CJEU pursues are very instructive and should be taken into account for the purposes of introducing a horizontal umbrella instrument of a legislative nature containing common standards of civil procedure;

The Charter

4.  Stresses that with regard to fair trial and access to justice, cooperation networks and databases enhancing judicial cooperation and exchange of information should be maintained and further expanded;

5.  Warmly welcomes therefore the developments in e-justice, and most notably the creation of the European Judicial Network and of the European e-Justice Portal, which is to become a one-stop-shop in the area of justice in the Union;

The Union acquis in civil justice cooperation

6.  Calls also on the Commission to assess whether further measures to consolidate and strengthen a horizontal approach to the private enforcement of rights granted under Union law should be proposed and whether the hereby-proposed common minimum standards of civil procedure could be seen as promoting and ensuring such a horizontal paradigm;

7.  Reiterates that the systematic collection of statistical data on the application and performance of existing Union instruments in the area of civil justice cooperation is of the utmost importance;

8.  Invites in this context the Commission to assess whether additional implementing measures by the Member States could contribute to the effective application of self-standing Union procedures and contends that a robust and systematic supervisory process on the part of the Commission should be established for that purpose;

The legal basis of the proposal

9.  Observes that Article 114 TFEU (harmonisation of the internal market) has been used to adopt a number of Union acts with procedural implications; that Article 114 on the approximation of the provisions laid down by law, regulation or administrative action in Member States which have as their object the establishment and functioning of the internal market has been and is still being used as the legal basis for a wide range of sector-specific directives which harmonise certain aspects of civil procedure such as, for example, the Directive on the enforcement of intellectual property rights (IPR);

10.  Notes, however, that Article 81 TFEU provides for the adoption of measures in the area of judicial cooperation in civil matters having cross-border implications, including measures for the approximation of the laws and regulations of the Member States, particularly when necessary for the proper functioning of the internal market; considers, therefore, that Article 81 TFEU constitutes the appropriate legal basis for the proposed legislative instrument;

11.  Contends that the notion of 'cross-border implications' in the text of Article 81(1) TFEU regarding the adoption of civil justice cooperation measures should be construed in a broader manner and should thus not be perceived as synonymous with 'cross-border litigation';

12.  Underlines that the current interpretation of the notion ‘matters with cross-border implications’ is rather narrow and has given rise to the creation of two sets of rules and two categories of litigants that might lead to further problems and unnecessary complexity; stresses that a broader interpretation should therefore be adopted;

13.  Stresses in that context that the hereby proposed common minimum standards of civil procedure would lead to further efficiencies if Member States extended their scope of application not only to matters falling within the scope of Union law, but also to both cross-border and purely domestic cases generally;

Mutual Trust in the European Judicial Area

14.  Notes that the main activities of the Union in the European Area of Justice as far as civil justice is concerned, relate to the introduction of instruments on jurisdiction, pendency and the cross-border enforcement of judgments;

15.  Reiterates and underlines that the free circulation of judgments has increased mutual trust between the judiciaries of the Member States, thus increasing legal certainty and providing sufficient stability and predictability for citizens and businesses in the Union;

16.  Emphasises in that respect that mutual trust is a complex notion and that many factors play a role in building that trust, such as judicial education, cross-border judicial cooperation and exchange of experience and best practices between judges;

17.  Notes that mutual trust may be fostered inter alia by non-legislative methods, such as judges cooperating within the European Judicial Network or participating in training;

18.  Welcomes therefore the nine judicial training principles adopted by the European Judicial Training Network at its 2016 General Assembly, in that they provide a common foundation and framework for Europe’s judiciary and judicial training institutions alike;

19.  Contends, nevertheless, that from a strictly legal viewpoint mutual trust presupposes, at a very fundamental level, that the judiciaries of the Member States perceive each other's procedural arrangements, both on the level of the law in the books and of law in action, as guaranteeing fair civil proceedings;

20.  Points out therefore, that the elaboration of systematic, minimum standards of Union civil procedure in the form of an across-the-board horizontal directive, would lead to increasing mutual trust among the judiciaries of the Member States and ensure a common, Union-wide balancing of fundamental procedural rights for civil cases, creating a more deeply rooted general feeling of justice, certainty and predictability throughout the Union;

Common minimum standards of civil procedure

21.  Emphasises that effective civil procedure systems play a crucial role for upholding the rule of law and the Union’s fundamental values. They are also a prerequisite for sustainable investment and a business- and consumer- friendly environment;

22.  Considers that the lack of clarity about limitation periods for citizens, consumers and companies in disputes having cross-border implications can hinder access to justice. Calls thus on the Commission and Member States to assess the feasibility and desirability of harmonising those limitation periods in civil proceedings;

23.  Finds that there is a clear need for legislation to provide for a set of procedural standards applicable to civil proceedings and calls on the Commission to proceed with the delivery of its action plan for the implementation of the Stockholm programme adopted by the European Council in the area of freedom, security and justice;

24.  Pursuant to Article 225 TFEU, requests therefore that the Commission submit by 30 June 2018, on the basis of Article 81(2) TFEU, a proposal for a legislative act on common minimum standards of civil procedure, following the recommendations set out in the Annex hereto;

25.  Confirms that the recommendations annexed to this resolution respect fundamental rights and the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality;

26.  Considers that the requested proposal does not have financial implications, as the introduction of minimum standards of civil procedure will lead to economies of scale in terms of reduced costs for litigants and their representatives who will not need to familiarise themselves with a different country’s civil procedure regime;

o
o   o

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

ANNEX TO THE RESOLUTION:

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR A DIRECTIVE OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL ON COMMON MINIMUM STANDARDS OF CIVIL PROCEDURE IN THE EU

A.  PRINCIPLES AND AIMS OF THE PROPOSAL REQUESTED

1.  In the Union, enforcement of law before courts remains largely the matter of national procedural rules and practice. National courts are also Union courts. It is therefore for the proceedings before them to ensure fairness, justice and efficiency as well as effective application of Union law.

2.  The implementation of the principle of mutual recognition of judgments in civil matters has increased Member States’ trust in each other’s civil justice systems, while measures for the approximation of the laws and regulations of the Member States can facilitate cooperation between the authorities and the judicial protection of individual rights. The extent of mutual trust is very much dependent on a number of parameters, which include, inter alia, mechanisms for safeguarding the rights of the claimant or the defendant while guaranteeing access to courts and justice.

3.  Although the Member States are party to the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECHR), experience has shown that that alone does not always provide a sufficient degree of trust in the civil justice systems of other Member States. National civil procedure rules of the Member States vary considerably, often in terms of some fundamental procedural principles and guarantees, thus risking that mutual trust and confidence between judicial authorities might be hindered.

4.  It is therefore necessary, in order to protect the fundamental rights and freedoms of the Union citizens, to help modernise national procedures and to ensure a level playing field for businesses and increased growth thanks to effective and efficient legal systems, to adopt a directive further developing the minimum standards set out in the Charter and in the ECHR. The appropriate legal basis for such a proposal is Article 81(2) TFEU, which concerns measures in the field of judicial cooperation in civil matters. The directive is to be adopted by means of the ordinary legislative procedure.

5.  Common minimum standards of civil procedure are deemed necessary to form a sound basis for the approximation and improvement of national laws, in view of the flexibility it gives to Member States in preparing new civil procedure laws while reflecting a general consensus on the principles of civil justice practice.

6.  Common minimum standards should lead to increased confidence in the civil justice systems of all Member States, which, in turn, should lead to more efficient, faster and more flexible judicial cooperation in a climate of mutual trust. Such common minimum rules should also remove obstacles to the free movement of citizens throughout the territory of the Member States, thus ensuring that especially citizens travelling abroad would no longer be hesitant about dealing with civil justice systems of other Member States.

7.  The proposed directive is not aimed at substituting national civil procedure systems in their entirety. While respecting national specificities and the fundamental right to an effective remedy and to a fair trial, which ensures effective and efficient access to justice, it is aimed at establishing common minimum standards regarding the function and conduct of Member States’ civil proceedings in relation to all matters falling within the scope of Union law. It is also aimed at providing a basis for the gradual deepening of the approximation of civil procedure systems of Member States.

8.  The proposal does not affect Member States’ provisions regarding the organisation of their courts and their rules regarding the appointment of the judges.

9.  The present proposal complies with the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality, as the Member States cannot act alone to set up a set of minimum standards of civil procedure, and the proposal does not go further than absolutely necessary in ensuring effective access to justice and mutual trust in the Union.

B.  TEXT OF THE PROPOSAL REQUESTED

Directive of the European Parliament and the Council on common minimum standards of civil procedure in the European Union

THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND THE COUNCIL OF THE EUROPEAN UNION,

Having regard to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, and in particular Article 81(2) thereof,

Having regard to the European Parliament’s request to the European Commission,

Having regard to the proposal from the European Commission,

After transmission of the draft legislative act to the national parliaments,

Having regard to the opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee,

Acting in accordance with the ordinary legislative procedure,

Whereas:

(1)  The Union has set itself the objective of maintaining and developing an area of freedom, security and justice, in which the free movement of persons is ensured. For the gradual establishment of such an area, the Union is to adopt measures relating to judicial cooperation in civil matters having cross-border implications, particularly when necessary for the proper functioning of the internal market.

(2)  Pursuant to Article 81(2) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, those measures should be aimed at ensuring, inter alia, the mutual recognition and enforcement of judgments between Member States, the cross-border service of documents, cooperation in the taking of evidence, effective access to justice and the elimination of obstacles to the good functioning of civil proceedings, if necessary by promoting the compatibility of the rules on civil procedure applicable in the Member States.

(3)  According to the Presidency conclusions of the European Council in Tampere of 15 and 16 October 1999, and in particular point (33) thereof, enhanced mutual recognition of judgments and other judicial decisions and the necessary approximation of legislation would facilitate cooperation between competent authorities and the judicial protection of individual rights. The principle of mutual recognition should therefore become the cornerstone of judicial cooperation in civil matters within the Union.

(4)  According to the Commission’s action plan for the implementation of the Stockholm programme adopted by the European Council in the area of freedom, security and justice, the European judicial area and the proper functioning of the single market are built on the cornerstone principle of mutual recognition, which is in turn premised on the idea that Member States trust each other's judicial systems. This principle can only function effectively on the basis of mutual trust among judges, legal professionals, businesses and citizens. The extent of that trust is dependent on a number of parameters, including the existence of mechanisms to safeguard the procedural rights of litigants in civil proceedings. Common minimum standards enhancing the right to fair trial and the efficiency of judicial systems and contributing to an effective enforcement regime are therefore necessary to guarantee the application of that principle.

(5)  By establishing minimum rules on the protection of procedural rights of litigants, and ensuring citizens easier access to justice, this Directive should strengthen the trust of Member States in civil justice systems of other Member States and can thus help promote a fundamental rights culture in the Union, as well as a more efficient internal market, while upholding the Union’s fundamental freedoms by developing a deeper general sense of justice, certainty and predictability throughout its territory.

(6)  The provisions of this Directive should apply to civil disputes having cross-border implications, including those arising from the violation of the rights and freedoms guaranteed by Union law. Where this Directive refers to the violation of rights granted under Union law, it covers all the situations where the breach of rules established at Union level has caused or is likely to cause prejudice to natural and legal persons. Nothing should prevent Member States from applying the provisions of this Directive also to purely domestic civil justice cases.

(7)  All Member States are contracting parties to the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedom of 4 November 1950. The matters referred to in this Directive should be dealt with in compliance with that Convention and in particular the rights of fair trial and effective remedy.

(8)  This Directive seeks to promote the application of common minimum standards of civil procedure to secure effective access to justice in the Union. The generally recognised right of access to justice is also reaffirmed by Article 47 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (the ‘Charter’).

(9)  Civil proceedings should be further improved by taking advantage of the technological developments in the field of justice and of new tools available to the courts and tribunals, which can help to overcome geographical distance and its consequences in terms of high costs and length of proceedings. To further reduce litigation costs and the length of proceedings, the use of modern communication technology by the parties and the courts and tribunals should be further encouraged.

(10)  In order to enable persons to be heard without requiring them to travel to the court or tribunal, Member States should ensure that oral hearings as well as taking of evidence by hearing witnesses, experts or parties can be carried out using any appropriate means of distance communication, unless, on account of the specific circumstances of the case, the use of such technology would not be appropriate for the fair conduct of the proceedings. This provision is without prejudice to Council Regulation (EC) No 1206/2001(20).

(11)  Member States’ courts should be able to rely on experts’ opinions for technical, legal or other evidentiary issues. Save where coercive measures are needed and in accordance with the freedom to provide services and the case-law of the Court of Justice, judges in one Member State should be able to appoint experts to conduct investigations in another Member State without any prior authorisation being necessary for their conduct. To facilitate judicial expertise and taking into account limitations in appointing sufficiently qualified experts in one Member State’s jurisdiction, for instance due to the technical sophistication of the case or the existence of direct or indirect links between the expert and the parties, a European directory of all national lists of experts should be created and kept up to date as part of the European e-justice portal.

(12)  Provisional and protective measures should strike an appropriate balance between the interests of the applicant in being awarded provisional protection and the interests of the defendant in preventing abuse of such protection. When provisional measures are requested prior to obtaining a judgment, the court with which the application is lodged should be satisfied on the basis of evidence submitted by the applicant that he or she is likely to succeed on the substance of the claim against the defendant. Furthermore, the applicant should be required in all situations to demonstrate to the satisfaction of the court that his claim is in urgent need of judicial protection and that without the provisional measures, the enforcement of the existing or future judgment may be impeded or made substantially more difficult.

(13)  The provisions of this Directive should be without prejudice to the particular provisions for the enforcement of rights in the domain of intellectual property set out in Union instruments and most notably those found in Directive 2004/48/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council(21). It should also be without prejudice to the particular provisions for the recovery of cross-border debt as established in the European Account Preservation Order.(22)

(14)  A key role should be given to courts in protecting the rights and interests of all parties and in managing the civil proceedings effectively and efficiently.

(15)  The objective of securing a fair trial, better access to justice and mutual trust, as part of the policy of the Union to establish an area of freedom, security and justice, should encompass access to judicial as well as extrajudicial dispute resolution methods. In order to encourage parties to use mediation, Member States should ensure that their rules on limitation and prescription periods do not prevent the parties from going to court or to arbitration if their mediation attempt fails.

(16)  Due to differences between Member States’ rules of civil procedure and especially those governing the service of documents, it is necessary to define the minimum standards that should apply to civil proceedings falling within the scope of Union law. In particular, service methods that ensure prompt and safe receipt of the served documents, confirmed by a proof of delivery, should be prioritised. The use of modern communication technologies should therefore be widely encouraged. For documents that need to be served on the parties, electronic service should be on an equal footing with postal service. The available electronic means should ensure that the content of the documents and other written communications received is true and faithful to that of the documents and other written communications sent, and that the method used for the acknowledgment of receipt provides confirmation of the receipt by the addressee and of the date of receipt.

(17)  Member States should ensure that the parties to civil proceedings have the right to a lawyer of their choice. In cross-border disputes, the parties should have the right to a lawyer in the Home State for preliminary advice and another one in the Host State to conduct the litigation. Confidentiality of communication between the parties and their lawyer is key to ensuring effective exercise of the right to a fair trial. Member States should therefore respect the confidentiality of meetings and other forms of communication between the lawyer and the parties in the exercise of the right to a lawyer provided for in this Directive. The parties to a case should be able to waive the right granted under this Directive provided that they have been given information about the possible consequences of waiving that right.

(18)  The payment of court fees should not require the claimant to travel to the Member State of the court or tribunal seized or to hire a lawyer for that purpose. In order to ensure claimants’ effective access to the proceedings, the Member States should offer at least one of the distance-payment methods provided for in this Directive, as a minimum. Information about court fees and methods of payment, as well as about the authorities or organisations competent to give practical assistance in the Member States should be transparent and easily accessible on the internet through appropriate national websites.

(19)  Member States should ensure the respect of the fundamental right to legal aid as provided for in the third paragraph of Article 47 of the Charter. All natural or legal persons involved in civil disputes within the scope of this Directive, whether acting as claimants or as defendants, should be able to assert their rights in the courts even if their personal financial situation makes it impossible for them to bear the costs of the proceedings. Legal aid should cover pre-litigation advice with a view to reaching a settlement prior to bringing legal proceedings, legal assistance in bringing a case before a court and representation in court and assistance with the cost of proceedings. This provision is without prejudice to Council Directive 2003/8/EC(23) .

(20)  The creation of a European judicial culture that fully respects subsidiarity, proportionality and judicial independence is central to the efficient functioning of a European judicial area. Judicial training is a crucial element in this process as it enhances mutual confidence between Member States, practitioners and citizens. In this regard, Member States should cooperate and provide support for vocational training and exchange of best practices between legal professionals.

(21)  This Directive sets minimum rules. Member States may extend the rights set out in this Directive in order to provide a higher level of protection. Such higher level of protection should not constitute an obstacle to mutual trust and effective access to justice that those minimum rules are designed to facilitate. The level of protection provided for by the Charter, as interpreted by the Court, and the primacy, unity and effectiveness of Union law should thereby not be compromised.

(22)  Since the objectives of this Directive, namely setting common minimum standards of civil procedure, cannot be sufficiently achieved by the Member States but can rather, by reason of the scale or effects of the action, be better achieved at Union level, the Union may adopt measures, in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity as set out in Article 5 of the Treaty on European Union. In accordance with the principle of proportionality, as set out in that Article, this Directive does not go beyond what is necessary in order to achieve those objectives.

(23)  In accordance with [Article 3]/[Articles 1 and 2] of Protocol No 21 on the position of the United Kingdom and Ireland in respect of the area of freedom, security and justice, annexed to the Treaty on European Union and to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, [those Member States have notified their wish to take part in the adoption and application of this Directive]/[and without prejudice to Article 4 of that Protocol, those Member States are not taking part in the adoption of this Directive and are not bound by it or subject to its application].

(24)  In accordance with Articles 1 and 2 of Protocol No 22 on the position of Denmark, annexed to the Treaty on European Union and to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, Denmark is not taking part in the adoption of this Directive and is not bound by it or subject to its application,

HAVE ADOPTED THIS DIRECTIVE:

CHAPTER I:

SUBJECT MATTER, SCOPE AND DEFINITIONS

Article 1

Subject matter

The objective of this Directive is to approximate civil procedure systems so as to ensure full respect for the right to an effective remedy and to a fair trial as recognised in Article 47 of the Charter and in Article 6 of the ECHR, by laying down minimum standards concerning the commencement, conduct and conclusion of civil proceedings before Member States’ courts or tribunals.

Article 2

Scope

1.  Without prejudice to standards of civil procedure which are or may be provided in Union or national legislation, insofar as those standards may be more favourable for the litigants, this Directive shall apply, in disputes having cross-border implications, to civil and commercial matters, whatever the nature of the court or tribunal, except as regards rights and obligations in relation to which the parties have no power of disposal under the relevant applicable law. It shall not extend, in particular, to revenue, customs or administrative matters or to the liability of the State for acts and omissions in the exercise of State authority (‘acta iure imperii’).

2.  In this Directive, the term ‘Member State’ means a Member State other than [the UK, Ireland and] Denmark.

Article 3

Disputes having cross-border implications

1.  For the purposes of this Directive, a dispute having cross-border implications is one in which:

(a)  at least one of the parties is domiciled or habitually resident in a Member State other than the Member State of the court or tribunal seized; or

(b)  both parties are domiciled in the same Member State as that of the court or tribunal seized, provided that the place of performance of the contract, the place where the harmful event takes place or the place of enforcement of the judgment is situated in another Member State; or

(c)  both parties are domiciled in the same Member State as that of the court or tribunal seized, provided that the disputed matter falls within the scope of Union law.

2.  For the purposes of paragraph 1, domicile shall be determined in accordance with Articles 62 and 63 of Regulation (EU) No 1215/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council(24).

CHAPTER II:

MINIMUM STANDARDS FOR CIVIL PROCEEDINGS

Section One:

Fair and effective outcomes

Article 4

General obligation for effective judicial protection

Member States shall provide for the measures, procedures and remedies necessary to ensure the enforcement of the rights conferred by Union law in civil matters. Those measures, procedures and remedies shall be fair and equitable and shall not be unnecessarily complicated or costly, or entail unreasonable time limits or unwarranted delays, while respecting national specificities and fundamental rights.

Those measures, procedures and remedies shall also be effective and proportionate and shall be applied in such a manner as to avoid the creation of obstacles to effective access to justice and to provide safeguards against their abuse.

Article 5

Oral hearings

1.  Member States shall ensure the fair conduct of proceedings. Where it is not possible for the parties to be physically present or where the parties have agreed, with the approval of the court, to employ expedited means of communication, Member States shall ensure that oral hearings can be held by making use of any appropriate distance communication technology, such as videoconferencing or teleconferencing, available to the court or tribunal.

2.  Where the person to be heard is domiciled or habitually resident in a Member State other than the Member State of the court or tribunal seized, that person's attendance at an oral hearing by way of videoconference, teleconference or other appropriate distance communication technology shall be arranged by making use of the procedures provided for in Regulation (EC) No 1206/2001. In relation to videoconferencing, the Council Recommendations on cross-border videoconferencing adopted by the Council on 15 and 16 June 2015(25) and the work undertaken in the framework of European e-Justice portal shall be taken into account.

Article 6

Provisional and Protective Measures

1.  Member States shall ensure that provisional measures for the preservation of a factual or legal situation are in place so as to secure the full effectiveness of a later judgment on the substance of the matter, prior to proceedings on the substance of the matter being initiated and at any stage during such proceedings.

The measures referred to in the first subparagraph shall also include measures for the prevention of any imminent infringement or for the immediate termination of an alleged infringement as well as for the preservation of assets necessary to secure that the subsequent enforcement of a claim will not be impeded or made substantially more difficult.

2.  Such measures shall observe the rights of the defence and shall be proportionate to the characteristics and severity of the alleged violation, allowing where appropriate the provision of guarantees for the costs and the injury caused to the defendant by unjustified requests. The courts or tribunals shall have the authority to require the applicant to provide any reasonably available evidence in order to satisfy themselves with a sufficient degree of certainty that the provisional measure requested is needed and is proportionate.

3.  Member States shall ensure that in duly justified cases, provisional measures may be taken without the defendant having been heard, where any delay would cause irreparable harm to the applicant, or where there is a demonstrable risk of evidence being destroyed. In such an event, the parties shall be so informed without undue delay after the execution of the measures at the latest.

A review, including the right to be heard, shall take place upon request of the defendant with a view to deciding, within a reasonable time after notification of the measures, whether those measures are to be modified, revoked, or confirmed.

Where the measures referred to in the first subparagraph are revoked or where it is subsequently found that there has been no violation or threat of violation, the Court may order the applicant, at the defendant’s request, to provide the defendant with appropriate compensation for any damage suffered as a result of those measures.

4.  This Article is without prejudice to Directive 2004/48/EC and Regulation (EU) No 655/2014.

Section Two:

Efficiency of proceedings

Article 7

Procedural Efficiency

1.  Member States’ courts or tribunals shall respect the right to an effective remedy and to a fair trial which ensures effective access to justice and the principle of an adversarial process, in particular when deciding on the necessity of an oral hearing and on the means of taking evidence and the extent to which evidence is to be taken.

2.  Member States’ courts or tribunals shall act as early as possible irrespective of the existence of prescription periods for specific actions in the different phases of the procedure.

Article 8

Reasoned Decisions

Member States shall ensure that courts or tribunals provide sufficiently detailed reasoned decisions within a reasonable time in order to enable parties to make effective use of any right to review the decision or lodge an appeal.

Article 9

General principles for direction of proceedings

1.  Member States shall ensure that courts actively manage the cases before them in order to ensure fair, efficient disposition of disputes and that it is done at a reasonable speed and cost, without impairing the freedom of the parties to determine the subject-matter of, and the supporting evidence for, their case.

2.  To the extent reasonably practicable, the court shall manage the case in consultation with the parties. Specifically, active case management may include:

(a)  encouraging the parties to co-operate with each other during the proceedings;

(b)  identifying the issues at an early stage;

(c)  deciding promptly which issues need full investigation and disposing summarily of other issues;

(d)  deciding the order in which issues are to be resolved;

(e)  helping the parties to settle the whole or part of the action;

(f)  fixing timetables to control the progress of the action;

(g)  dealing with as many aspects of the action as possible for the court on the same occasion;

(h)  dealing with the action without the parties needing to attend in person;

(i)  making use of available technical means.

Article 10

Evidence taking

1.  Member States shall ensure that effective means of presenting, obtaining and preserving evidence are available having regard to the rights of defence and the need for protection of confidential information.

2.  In the context of the taking of evidence, Member States shall encourage the use of modern communication technology. The court or tribunal seized shall use the simplest and least-costly method of taking evidence.

Article 11

Court experts

1.  Without prejudice to the possibility for the parties to produce expert evidence, Member States shall ensure that the court may at any time appoint court experts in order to provide expertise for specific aspects of the case. The court shall provide such experts with all information necessary for the provision of the expert advice.

2.  In cross-border disputes, save where coercive measures are needed or where an investigation is carried out in places connected to the exercise of powers of a Member State or in places to which access or in relation to which other action is, under the law of the Member State in which the investigation is carried out, prohibited or restricted to certain persons, Member States shall ensure that a court may appoint a judicial expert to conduct investigations outside of the court’s jurisdiction without the submission of any prior request to that effect to the relevant authority of the other Member State being needed.

3.  For the purposes of paragraphs 1 and 2, a European directory of experts shall be drawn up by the Commission by bringing together existing national lists of experts and shall be made available via the European e-justice portal.

4.  The court experts shall guarantee independence and impartiality in accordance with provisions applicable to judges provided for in Article 22.

5.  Expert advice given to the court by court experts shall be made available to the parties who shall have the possibility to comment on it.

Section Three:

Access to courts and justice

Article 12

Settlement of disputes

1.  Member States shall ensure that at any stage of the proceedings and having regard to all the circumstances of the case, if the court is of the opinion that the dispute is suitable for a settlement, it may propose that the parties make use of mediation in order to settle or to explore a settlement of the dispute.

2.  Paragraph 1 is without prejudice to the right of the parties who choose mediation to initiate judicial proceedings or arbitration in relation to that dispute before the expiry of limitation or prescription periods during the mediation process.

Article 13

Litigation costs

1.  Member States shall ensure that the court fees charged in Member States for civil disputes are not disproportionate to the value of the claim and do not render litigation impossible or excessively difficult.

2.  The court fees charged in Member States for civil disputes shall not discourage citizens from bringing a case before a court or hinder in any way access to justice.

3.  The parties shall be able to pay the court fees by means of distance payment methods, including from a Member State other than the Member State in which the court or tribunal is situated, via bank transfer or via credit or debit card payment.

4.  Member States shall ensure that information about court fees and methods of payment, as well as about the authorities or organisations competent to give practical assistance in the Member States are made more transparent and easily available on the internet. To that end, Member States shall transmit that information to the Commission, which in turn shall ensure that it is made publicly available and widely disseminated by any appropriate means, in particular through the European e-Justice Portal.

Article 14

‘Loser pays’ principle

1.  Member States shall ensure that the unsuccessful party bears the costs of the proceedings, including but not limited to any costs resulting from the fact that the other party was represented by a lawyer or another legal professional, or any costs arising from the service or translation of documents, which are proportionate to the value of the claim and which were necessarily incurred.

2.  Where a party succeeds only in part or in exceptional circumstances, courts may order that costs be apportioned equitably or that the parties bear their own costs.

3.  A party shall bear any unnecessary costs it has caused the court or another party, either by raising unnecessary issues or by being otherwise unreasonably disputatious.

4.  The court may adjust its award of costs to reflect unreasonable failure to cooperate or bad-faith participation in settlement endeavours in accordance with Article 20.

Article 15

Legal Aid

1.  In order to ensure effective access to justice, Member States shall ensure that courts may grant legal aid to a party.

2.  Legal aid may cover, in whole or in part, the following costs:

(a)  court fees, through total or partial discounts or rescheduling;

(b)  costs of legal assistance and representation regarding:

(i)  pre-litigation advice with a view to reaching a settlement prior to commencing legal proceedings in accordance with Article 12(1);

(ii)  commencing and maintaining proceedings before the court;

(iii)  all costs relating to proceedings including the application for legal aid;

(iv)  enforcement of decisions;

(c)  other necessary costs related to the proceedings to be borne by a party, including costs of witnesses, experts, interpreters and translators and necessary travel, accommodation and subsistence costs of that party and his representative;

(d)  the costs awarded to the successful party, in the event that the applicant loses the action in accordance with Article 14.

3.  Member States shall ensure that any natural person who is a citizen of the European Union or a third country national residing lawfully in a Member State of the European Union is entitled to apply for legal aid where:

(a)  owing to their economic situation, they are wholly or partly unable to meet the costs referred to in paragraph 2 of this Article; and

(b)  the action in respect of which the application for legal aid is made has a reasonable prospect of success, considering the applicant’s procedural position; and

(c)  the claimant applying for legal aid is entitled to bring actions under the relevant national provisions.

4.  Legal persons shall be entitled to apply for legal aid in the form of dispensation from advance payment of the costs of proceedings and/or the assistance of a lawyer. In deciding whether to award such aid, courts may take into consideration, inter alia:

(a)  the form of the legal person in question and whether it is profit-making or non-profit-making;

(b)  the financial capacity of the partners or shareholders;

(c)  the ability of those partners or shareholders to obtain the sums necessary to institute legal proceedings.

5.  Member States shall make certain that Union citizens and legal persons are informed of the procedure for seeking legal assistance under paragraphs 1 to 4, with a view to making it effective and accessible.

6.  This Article is without prejudice to Directive 2003/8/EC.

Article 16

Funding

1.  Member States shall ensure that in cases where a legal action is funded by a private third party, the private third party shall not:

(a)  seek to influence procedural decisions of the claimant party, including on settlements;

(b)  provide financing for an action against a defendant who is a competitor of the fund provider or against a defendant on whom the fund provider is dependant;

(c)  charge excessive interest on the funds provided.

2.  Member States shall ensure that for cases of private third party funding of legal actions, remuneration given to or interest charged by the fund provider shall not be based on the amount of the settlement reached or the compensation awarded, unless that funding arrangement is regulated by a public authority guaranteeing the interests of the parties.

Section Four:

Fairness of proceedings

Article 17

Service of Documents

1.  Member States shall ensure that methods guaranteeing receipt of the served documents are used as a matter of principle.

2.  Member States shall ensure that the documents instituting the proceedings or equivalent documents and any summons to a court hearing may be served in accordance with the national law by one of the following methods:

(a)  personal service;

(b)  postal service;

(c)  service by electronic means, such as fax or email.

The service shall be attested by an acknowledgment of receipt including the date of receipt, which shall be signed by the addressee.

For the purpose of service by electronic means under point (c) of the first subparagraph of this paragraph, appropriately high technical standards guaranteeing the identity of the sender and the safe transmission of the served documents shall be used.

These documents may also be served in person, attested by a document signed by the competent person who effected the service, stating that the addressee has received the documents or refused them without any legal justification, and the date of the service.

3.  If service in accordance with paragraph 2 is not possible, and where the defendant's address is known with certainty, service may be effected by one of the following methods:

(a)  in person at the defendant's personal address, on persons who are living in the same household as the defendant or are employed there;

(b)  in the case of a self-employed defendant or a legal person, personal service at the defendant's business premises, on persons who are employed by the defendant;

(c)  deposit of the documents in the defendant's mailbox;

(d)  deposit of the documents at a post office or with competent public authorities and the placing in the defendant's mailbox of written notification of that deposit, provided that the written notification clearly states the character of the documents as being court documents or the legal effect of the notification as effecting service and setting in motion the running of time for the purposes of time limits;

(e)  postal service without proof pursuant to paragraph 4 where the defendant’s address is in the Member State of origin;

(f)  electronic means attested by an automatic advice of delivery, provided that the defendant has expressly accepted this method of service in advance.

Service pursuant to points (a) to (d) of the first subparagraph of this paragraph shall be attested by:

(a)  a document signed by the competent person who effected the service, indicating all of the following:

(i)  the full name of the person who served the notification or communication;

(ii)  the method of service used;

(iii)  the date of service;

(iv)  where the served documents have been served on a person other than the defendant, the name of that person and his or her relationship to the defendant; and

(v)  other compulsory information to be provided under national law.

(b)  an acknowledgement of receipt by the person served, for the purposes of points (a) and (b) of the first subparagraph of this paragraph.

4.  Service pursuant to paragraphs 2 and 3 of this Article may also be effected on the defendant’s legal or authorised representative.

5.  Where the documents instituting the proceedings or equivalent documents or any summons are to be served outside the Member States, they may be served by any method provided by:

(a)  Regulation (EC) No 1393/2007 of the European Parliament and of the Council(26), where it applies, respecting the rights of the recipient granted by the Regulation; or

(b)  The Hague Convention of 15 November 1965 on the Service Abroad of Judicial and Extrajudicial Documents in Civil or Commercial Matters or any other convention or agreement, where it applies.

6.  This Directive shall not affect the application of Regulation (EC) No 1393/2007 and is without prejudice to Regulation (EC) No 805/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council(27) and Regulation (EC) No 1896/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council(28).

Article 18

The right to a lawyer in civil proceedings

1.  Member States shall ensure that the parties to civil proceedings have the right to a lawyer of their choice in such a manner so as to allow them to exercise their rights practically and effectively.

In cross-border disputes, Member States shall ensure that the parties to civil proceedings have the right to a lawyer in their Home State to give preliminary advice, and one in the Host State to conduct the litigation.

2.  Member States shall respect the confidentiality of communications between the parties to a case and their lawyer. Such communication shall include meetings, correspondence, telephone conversation and other forms of communication permitted under national law.

3.  Without prejudice to national law requiring the mandatory presence or assistance of a lawyer, the parties to civil proceedings may waive a right referred to in paragraph 1 of this Article, where:

(a)  the parties have been provided, orally or in writing, with clear and sufficient information in simple and understandable language about the possible consequences of waiving it; and

(b)  the waiver is given voluntarily and unequivocally.

Member States shall ensure that the parties may revoke a waiver subsequently at any point during civil proceedings and that they are informed about that possibility.

4.  This provision is without prejudice to the specific provisions regarding legal representation provided for in Regulation (EC) No 861/2007 of the European Parliament and of the Council(29), Regulation (EC) No 1896/2006 and Regulation (EU) No 655/2014.

Article 19

Access to information

Member States shall endeavour to provide citizens with transparent and easily available information regarding the commencement of various procedures, limitation or prescription periods, the competent courts to hear different disputes, and the necessary forms that need to be filled in for that purpose. Nothing in this Article requires the Member States to provide legal assistance in the form of a legal assessment of a specific case.

Article 20

Interpretation and translation of essential documents

Member States shall endeavour to ensure that every party to a dispute has full understanding of the legal proceedings. This objective includes the availability of interpretation during civil proceedings and of a written translation of all essential documents to safeguard the fairness of the proceedings in accordance with the provisions of Article 15 of this Directive.

Article 21

Obligations of the parties and their representatives

Member States shall ensure that the parties to a case and their representatives conduct themselves in good faith and with respect in dealing with the court and other parties and do not misrepresent cases or facts before courts either knowingly or with good reasons to know.

Article 22

Public Proceedings

Member States shall ensure that proceedings are open to the public unless the Court decides to make them confidential, to the extent necessary, in the interest of one of the parties or other affected persons, or in the general interest of justice or public order.

Article 23

Judicial independence and impartiality

1.  Member States shall ensure that courts and tribunals and their judges enjoy judicial independence. The composition of the courts and tribunals shall offer sufficient guarantees to exclude any legitimate doubt about impartiality.

2.  In the performance of their duties, the judges shall not be bound by any instructions and shall be free from influence or pressure and from any personal prejudice or bias in any given case.

Article 24

Training

1.  Without prejudice to judicial independence and differences in the organisation of the judiciary across the Union, Member States shall ensure that the judiciary, judicial schools and legal professions boost their judicial training schemes to ensure that Union law and procedures are integrated in national training activities.

2.  Training schemes shall be practice oriented, relevant to legal practitioners’ everyday work, take place during short periods of time and use active and modern learning techniques and shall encompass initial and continuous training possibilities. Training schemes shall in particular focus on:

(a)  the acquisition of sufficient knowledge of Union judicial cooperation instruments and the development of built-in reflexes to refer regularly to Union case-law, to verify national transposition and to use the Court of Justice of the European Union’s preliminary ruling procedure;

(b)  the dissemination of knowledge and experience in Union law and procedures and in other legal systems;

(c)  the facilitation of short term exchanges of new judges;

(d)  the mastering of a foreign language and its legal terminology;

CHAPTER III:

FINAL PROVISIONS

Article 25

Transposition

1.  Member States shall bring into force the laws, regulations and administrative provisions necessary to comply with this Directive by ... [one year after the date of entry into force of this Directive]. They shall immediately inform the Commission thereof.

2.  When Member States adopt those measures, they shall contain a reference to this Directive or shall be accompanied by such a reference on the occasion of their official publication. The methods of making such reference shall be laid down by Member States.

3.  Member States shall communicate to the Commission the text of the measures of national law which they adopt in the field covered by this Directive.

Article 26

Review

The Commission shall, not later than 31 December 2025, and every five years thereafter, submit to the European Parliament, the Council and the European Economic and Social Committee a report on the application of this Directive on the basis of both qualitative and quantitative information. In this context, the Commission shall in particular evaluate its impact on access to justice, on the fundamental right to an effective remedy and to a fair trial, on the cooperation in civil matters and on the functioning of the single market, on SMEs, the competitiveness of the economy of the European Union and consumer trust. If necessary, the report shall be accompanied by legislative proposals to adapt and strengthen this Directive.

Article 27

Entry into force

This Directive shall enter into force on the twentieth day following that of its publication in the Official Journal of the European Union.

Article 28

Addresses

This Directive is addressed to the Member States in accordance with the Treaties.

Done at, [date]

For the European Parliament For the Council

The President The President

(1) PE 572.853, December 2015.
(2) PE 581.385, June 2016.
(3) PE 559.499, June 2015.
(4) PE 556.971, June 2016.
(5) Uniform Law Review, 2004(4).
(6) M. Storme, Study on the approximation of the laws and rules of the Member States concerning certain aspects of the procedure for civil litigation (Final Report, Dordrecht, 1994).
(7) See inter alia: judgment of 16 December 1976, Comet BV v Produktschap voor Siergewassen, 45/76, ECLI:EU:C:1976:191 and judgment of 15 May 1986, Marguerite Johnston v Chief Constable of the Royal Ulster Constabulary, 222/84, ECLI:EU:C:1986:206.
(8) Available online here: http://www.ejtn.eu/PageFiles/15756/Judicial%20Training%20Principles_EN.pdf
(9) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2014)0276.
(10) See inter alia: judgment of 13 March 2007, Unibet (London) Ltd and Unibet (International) Ltd v Justitiekanslern, C-432/05, ECLI:EU:C:2007:163.
(11) Regulation (EC) No 861/2007 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 July 2007 establishing a European Small Claims Procedure (OJ L 199, 31.7.2007, p. 1).
(12) Council Directive 2003/8/EC of 27 January 2003 to improve access to justice in cross-border disputes by establishing minimum common rules relating to legal aid for such disputes (OJ L 26, 31.1.2003, p. 41).
(13) Commission Recommendation of 11 June 2013 on common principles for injunctive and compensatory collective redress mechanisms in the Member States concerning violations of rights granted under Union law (OJ L 201, 26.7.2013, p. 60).
(14) Directive 2009/22/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 April 2009 on injunctions for the protection of consumers’ interests (OJ L 110, 1.5.2009, p. 30).
(15) Directive 2014/104/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 November 2014 on certain rules governing actions for damages under national law for infringements of the competition law provisions of the Member States and of the European Union (OJ L 349, 5.12.2014, p. 1).
(16) See for instance the European Small Claims Regulation (see second footnote in recital G above) and the European Account Preservation Order Regulation (Regulation (EU) No 655/2014 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 May 2014 establishing a European Account Preservation Order procedure to facilitate cross-border debt recovery in civil and commercial matters (OJ L 189, 27.6.2014, p. 59)).
(17) Directive 2004/48/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 29 April 2004 on the enforcement of intellectual property rights (OJ L 157, 30.4.2004, p. 45).
(18) see fourth footnote to Recital G above.
(19) see fifth footnote to Recital G above.
(20) Council Regulation (EC) No 1206/2001 of 28 May 2001 on cooperation between the courts of the Member States in the taking of evidence in civil or commercial matters (OJ L 174, 27.6.2001, p. 1).
(21) Directive 2004/48/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 29 April 2004 on the enforcement of intellectual property rights (OJ L 157, 30.4.2004, p. 45).
(22) Regulation (EU) No 655/2014 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 May 2014 establishing a European Account preservation Order procedure to facilitate cross-border debt recovery in civil and commercial matters (OJ L 189, 27.6.2014, p. 59).
(23) Council Directive 2003/8/EC of 27 January 2003 to improve access to justice in crossborder disputes by establishing minimum common rules relating to legal aid for such disputes (OJ L 26, 31.1.2003, p. 41).
(24) Regulation (EU) No 1215/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 December 2012 on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters (OJ L 351, 20.12.2012, p. 1).
(25) Council Recommendations ‘Promoting the use of and sharing of best practices on cross-border videoconferencing in the area of justice in the Member States and at EU level’ (OJ C 250, 31.7.2015, p. 1).
(26) Regulation (EC) No 1393/2007 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 13 November 2007 on the service in the Member States of judicial and extrajudicial documents in civil or commercial matters (service of documents), and repealing Council Regulation (EC) No 1348/2000 (OJ L 324, 10.12.2007, p. 79).
(27) Regulation (EC) No 805/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 April 2004 creating a European Enforcement Order for uncontested claims (OJ L 143, 30.4.2004, p. 15).
(28) Regulation (EC) No 1896/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 December 2006 creating a European order for payment procedure (OJ L 399, 30.12.2006, p. 1).
(29) Regulation (EC) No 861/2007 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 July 2007 establishing a European Small Claims Procedure (OJ L 199, 31.7.2007, p. 1).


Macro-financial assistance to the Republic of Moldova ***I
PDF 249kWORD 43k
Resolution
Text
Annex
European Parliament legislative resolution of 4 July 2017 on the proposal for a decision of the European Parliament and of the Council providing macro-financial assistance to the Republic of Moldova (COM(2017)0014 – C8-0016/2017 – 2017/0007(COD))
P8_TA(2017)0283A8-0185/2017

(Ordinary legislative procedure: first reading)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Commission proposal to Parliament and the Council (COM(2017)0014),

–  having regard to Article 294(2) and Article 212 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, pursuant to which the Commission submitted the proposal to Parliament (C8‑0016/2017),

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

–  having regard to the Joint Declaration of the European Parliament and of the Council adopted together with Decision No 778/2013/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 August 2013 providing further macro-financial assistance to Georgia(1),

–  having regard to the provisional agreement approved by the committee responsible under Rule 69f(4) of its Rules of Procedure and the undertaking given by the Council representative by letter of 15 June 2017 to approve Parliament’s position, in accordance with Article 294(4) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on International Trade and the opinions of the Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Committee on Budgets (A8-0185/2017),

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

2.  Approves the joint statement by Parliament, the Council and the Commission annexed to this resolution;

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

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

Position of the European Parliament adopted at first reading on 4 July 2017 with a view to the adoption of Decision (EU) 2017/… of the European Parliament and of the Council on providing macro-financial assistance to the Republic of Moldova

(As an agreement was reached between Parliament and Council, Parliament's position corresponds to the final legislative act, Decision (EU) 2017/1565.)

ANNEX TO THE LEGISLATIVE RESOLUTION

JOINT STATEMENT by the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission

In light of the initiatives related to the changes of the electoral system in the Republic of Moldova, the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission underline that a pre-condition for granting macro-financial assistance is that the beneficiary country respects effective democratic mechanisms, including a multi-party parliamentary system and the rule of law and guarantees respect for human rights. The Commission and the European External Action Service shall monitor the fulfilment of this pre-condition throughout the lifecycle of the macro-financial assistance and will thereby pay utmost attention to the consideration by the authorities of the Republic of Moldova of the recommendations of relevant international partners (especially the Venice Commission and the OSCE/ODIHR).

(1) OJ L 218, 14.8.2013, p. 15


Disclosure of income tax information by certain undertakings and branches ***I
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Amendments adopted by the European Parliament on 4 July 2017 on the proposal for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Directive 2013/34/EU as regards disclosure of income tax information by certain undertakings and branches (COM(2016)0198 – C8-0146/2016 – 2016/0107(COD))(1)
P8_TA(2017)0284A8-0227/2017

(Ordinary legislative procedure: first reading)

Text proposed by the Commission   Amendment
Amendment 1
Proposal for a directive
Recital -1 (new)
(-1)   Equality of tax treatment for all, and in particular for all undertakings, is a sine qua non for the single market. A coordinated and harmonised approach to the implementation of national tax systems is vital for the proper functioning of the single market, and would contribute to preventing tax avoidance and profit shifting.
Amendment 2
Proposal for a directive
Recital -1 a (new)
(-1a)   Tax avoidance and tax evasion, along with profit-shifting schemes, have deprived governments and populations of the resources necessary to, among other things, ensure that there is universal free access to public education and health services and state social services, and have deprived states of the possibility of ensuring a supply of affordable housing and public transport, and of building infrastructure that is essential in order to achieve social development and economic growth. In short, such schemes have been a factor of injustice, inequality and economic, social and territorial divergences.
Amendment 3
Proposal for a directive
Recital -1 b (new)
(-1b)   A fair and effective corporate tax system should respond to the urgent need for a progressive and fair global tax policy, promote the redistribution of wealth and combat inequalities.
Amendment 4
Proposal for a directive
Recital 1
(1)  In recent years, the challenge posed by corporate income tax avoidance has increased considerably and has become a major focus of concern within the Union and globally. The European Council in its conclusions of 18 December 2014 acknowledged the urgent need to advance efforts in the fight against tax avoidance both at global and Union level. The Commission in its communications entitled ‘Commission Work Programme 2016 - No time for business as usual’16 and ‘Commission Work Programme 2015 - A New Start’17 identified as a priority the need to move to a system whereby the country in which profits are generated is also the country of taxation. The Commission also identified as a priority the need to respond to our societies’ call for fairness and tax transparency.
(1)  Transparency is essential for the smooth functioning of the Single Market. In recent years, the challenge posed by corporate income tax avoidance has increased considerably and has become a major focus of concern within the Union and globally. The European Council in its conclusions of 18 December 2014 acknowledged the urgent need to advance efforts in the fight against tax avoidance both at global and Union level. The Commission in its communications entitled ‘Commission Work Programme 2016 - No time for business as usual’16 and ‘Commission Work Programme 2015 - A New Start’17 identified as a priority the need to move to a system whereby the country in which profits are generated is also the country of taxation. The Commission also identified as a priority the need to respond to European citizens’ call for transparency and the need to act as a reference model for other countries. It is essential that transparency takes into account reciprocity between competitors.
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16 COM(2015)0610 final of 27 October 2015.
16 COM(2015)0610 final of 27 October 2015.
17 COM(2014)0910 final of 16 December 2014.
17 COM(2014)0910 final of 16 December 2014.
Amendment 5
Proposal for a directive
Recital 2
(2)  The European Parliament in its resolution of 16 December 2015 on bringing transparency, coordination and convergence to corporate tax policies in the Union18 acknowledged that increased transparency in the area of corporate taxation can improve tax collection, make the work of tax authorities more efficient and ensure increased public trust and confidence in tax systems and governments.
(2)  The European Parliament in its resolution of 16 December 2015 on bringing transparency, coordination and convergence to corporate tax policies in the Union18 acknowledged that increased transparency, cooperation and convergence in the area of corporate taxation policy in the Union can improve tax collection, make the work of tax authorities more efficient, support policy-makers in assessing the current taxation system to develop future legislation, ensure increased public trust and confidence in tax systems and governments and improve investment decision-making based on more accurate risk profiles of companies.
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18 2015/2010(INL).
18 2015/2010(INL).
Amendment 6
Proposal for a directive
Recital 2 a (new)
(2a)  Public country-by-country reporting is an efficient and appropriate tool to increase transparency in relation to the activities of multinational enterprises, and to enable the public to assess the impact of those activities on the real economy. It will also improve shareholders’ ability to properly evaluate the risks taken by companies, lead to investment strategies based on accurate information and enhance the ability of decision-makers to assess the efficiency and the impact of national legislations.
Amendment 7
Proposal for a directive
Recital 2 b (new)
(2b)  Country-by-country reporting will also have a positive impact on employees' rights to information and consultation as provided for in Directive 2002/14/EC and, by increasing knowledge on companies’ activities, on the quality of engaged dialogue within companies.
Amendment 8
Proposal for a directive
Recital 4
(4)  Calling for a globally fair and modern international tax system in November 2015, the G20 endorsed the OECD ‘Action Plan on Base Erosion and Profit Shifting’ (BEPS) which aimed at providing governments with clear international solutions to address the gaps and mismatches in existing rules which allow corporate profits to shift to locations of no or low taxation, where no real value creation may take place. In particular, BEPS Action 13 introduces a country-by-country reporting by certain multinational undertakings to national tax authorities on a confidential basis. On 27 January 2016, the Commission adopted the ‘Anti-Tax Avoidance Package’. One of the objectives of that package is to transpose into Union law, the BEPS Action 13 by amending Council Directive 2011/16/EU20 .
(4)  Calling for a globally fair and modern international tax system in November 2015, the G20 endorsed the OECD 'Action Plan on Base Erosion and Profit Shifting' (BEPS) which aimed at providing governments with clear international solutions to address the gaps and mismatches in existing rules which allow corporate profits to shift to locations of no or low taxation, where no real value creation may take place. In particular, BEPS Action 13 introduces a country-by-country reporting by certain multinational undertakings to national tax authorities on a confidential basis. On 27 January 2016, the Commission adopted the 'Anti-Tax Avoidance Package'. One of the objectives of that package is to transpose into Union law, the BEPS Action 13 by amending Council Directive 2011/16/EU20. However, taxing profits where the value is created requires a more comprehensive approach to country-by-country reporting that is based on public reporting.
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20 Council Directive 2011/16/EU of 15 February 2011 on administrative cooperation in the field of taxation and repealing Directive 77/799/EEC (OJ L 64, 11.3.2011, p. 1).
20 Council Directive 2011/16/EU of 15 February 2011 on administrative cooperation in the field of taxation and repealing Directive 77/799/EEC (OJ L 64, 11.3.2011, p. 1).
Amendment 9
Proposal for a directive
Recital 4 a (new)
(4a)  The International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) should upgrade the relevant International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) and the International Accounting Standards (IAS) to ease the introduction of public country-by-country reporting requirements.
Amendment 10
Proposal for a directive
Recital 4 b (new)
(4b)  Public country-by-country reporting has already been established in the Union for the banking sector by Directive 2013/36/EU as well as for the extractive and logging industry by Directive 2013/34/EU.
Amendment 11
Proposal for a directive
Recital 4 c (new)
(4c)  The Union has demonstrated by an unprecedented introduction of public country-by-country reporting that it has become a global leader in the fight against tax avoidance.
Amendment 12
Proposal for a directive
Recital 4 d (new)
(4d)  Since the fight against tax evasion, tax avoidance and aggressive tax planning can only be successful with joint action on international level, it is imperative that the Union, while continuing to be a global leader in this struggle, coordinate its actions with international actors, for instance within the OECD framework. Unilateral actions, even if very ambitious, do not have a real chance of being successful, and, in addition, such actions put at risk the competitiveness of European companies and harm the Union’s investment climate.
Amendment 13
Proposal for a directive
Recital 4 e (new)
(4e)  More transparency in financial disclosure results in a win-win situation as tax administrations will be more efficient, civil society more involved, employees better informed, and investors less risk-averse. In addition, undertakings will benefit from better relations with stakeholders, resulting in more stability, along with easier access to finance due to a clearer risk profile and an enhanced reputation.
Amendment 14
Proposal for a directive
Recital 5
(5)  Enhanced public scrutiny of corporate income taxes borne by multinational undertakings carrying out activities in the Union is an essential element to further foster corporate responsibility, to contribute to the welfare through taxes, to promote fairer tax competition within the Union through a better informed public debate and to restore public trust in the fairness of the national tax systems. Such public scrutiny can be achieved by means of a report on income tax information, irrespective of where the ultimate parent undertaking of the multinational group is established.
(5)  In addition to the increased transparency created by country-by-country reporting to national tax authorities, enhanced public scrutiny of corporate income taxes borne by multinational undertakings carrying out activities in the Union is an essential element to promote corporate accountability, and to further foster corporate social responsibility, to contribute to the welfare through taxes, to promote fairer tax competition within the Union through a better informed public debate, and to restore public trust in the fairness of the national tax systems. Such public scrutiny can be achieved by means of a report on income tax information, irrespective of where the ultimate parent undertaking of the multinational group is established. Public scrutiny, however, has to be conducted without harming the investment climate in the Union or the competitiveness of Union companies, especially SMEs as defined in this Directive and mid-cap companies as defined in Regulation (EU) 2015/10171a, which should be excluded from the reporting obligation established under this Directive.
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1a Regulation (EU) 2015/1017 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 June 2015 on the European Fund for Strategic Investments, the European Investment Advisory Hub and the European Investment Project Portal and amending Regulations (EU) No 1291/2013 and (EU) No 1316/2013 — the European Fund for Strategic Investments (OJ L 169, 1.7.2015, p. 1).
Amendment 15
Proposal for a directive
Recital 5 a (new)
(5a)   The Commission has defined corporate social responsibility (CSR) as the responsibility of enterprises for their impact on society. CSR should be company led. Public authorities can play a supporting role through a smart mix of voluntary policy measures and, where necessary, complementary regulation. Companies can become socially responsible either by following the law or by integrating social, environmental, ethical, consumer or human rights concerns into their business strategy and operations, or both.
Amendment 16
Proposal for a directive
Recital 6
(6)  The public should be able to scrutinise all the activities of a group when the group has certain establishments within the Union. For groups which carry out activities within the Union only through subsidiary undertakings or branches, subsidiaries and branches should publish and make accessible the report of the ultimate parent undertaking. However for reasons of proportionality and effectiveness, the obligation to publish and make accessible the report should be limited to medium-sized or large subsidiaries established in the Union, or branches of a comparable size opened in a Member State. The scope of Directive 2013/34/EU should therefore be extended accordingly to branches opened in a Member State by an undertaking which is established outside the Union.
(6)  The public should be able to scrutinise all the activities of a group when the group has certain establishments within and outside the Union. Groups with establishments within the Union should comply with the Union principles of tax good governance. Multinational undertakings are operating worldwide and their corporate behaviour has a substantial impact on developing countries. Providing their citizens access to corporate country-by-country information would allow them and tax administrations in their countries to monitor, assess and hold those companies to account. By making the information public for each tax jurisdiction where the multinational undertaking is operating, the Union would increase its policy coherence for development and limit potential tax avoidance schemes in countries where domestic resources mobilization has been identified as a key component of the Union development policy.
Amendment 17
Proposal for a directive
Recital 8
(8)  The report on income tax information should provide information concerning all the activities of an undertaking or of all the affiliated undertakings of a group controlled by an ultimate parent undertaking. The information should be based on the reporting specifications of BEPS’ Action 13 and should be limited to what is necessary to enable effective public scrutiny, in order to ensure that disclosure does not give rise to disproportionate risks or disadvantages. The report should also include a brief description of the nature of the activities. Such description might be based on the categorisation provided for in table 2 of the Annex III of Chapter V of the OECD “Transfer Pricing Guidelines on Documentation”. The report should include an overall narrative providing explanations in case of material discrepancies at group level between the amounts of taxes accrued and the amounts of taxes paid, taking into account corresponding amounts concerning previous financial years.
(8)  The report on income tax information should provide information concerning all the activities of an undertaking or of all the affiliated undertakings of a group controlled by an ultimate parent undertaking. The information should take into account the reporting specifications of BEPS’ Action 13 and should be limited to what is necessary to enable effective public scrutiny, in order to ensure that disclosure does not give rise to disproportionate risks or disadvantages, in terms of competitiveness or misinterpretation for the undertakings concerned. The report should also include a brief description of the nature of the activities. Such description might be based on the categorisation provided for in table 2 of the Annex III of Chapter V of the OECD “Transfer Pricing Guidelines on Documentation”. The report should include an overall narrative providing explanations, including in case of material discrepancies at group level between the amounts of taxes accrued and the amounts of taxes paid, taking into account corresponding amounts concerning previous financial years.
Amendment 18
Proposal for a directive
Recital 9
(9)  In order to ensure a level of detail that enables citizens to better assess the contribution of multinational undertakings to welfare in each Member State, the information should be broken down by Member State. Moreover, information concerning the operations of multinational enterprises should also be shown with a high level of detail as regards certain tax jurisdictions which pose particular challenges. For all other third country operations, the information should be given in an aggregate number.
(9)  In order to ensure a level of detail that enables citizens to better assess the contribution of multinational undertakings to welfare in each jurisdiction in which they operate, both within and outside the Union, without harming the undertakings’ competitiveness, the information should be broken down by jurisdiction. Reports on income tax information can only be meaningfully understood and used if information is presented in a disaggregated fashion for each tax jurisdiction.
Amendment 82
Proposal for a directive
Recital 9 a (new)
(9a)  When the information to be disclosed could be considered commercially sensitive information by the undertaking, the latter should be able to request authorisation from the competent authority where it is established not to disclose the full extent of information. In cases in which the national competent authority is not a tax authority, the competent tax authority should be involved in the decision.
Amendment 19
Proposal for a directive
Recital 11
(11)  To ensure that cases of non-compliance are disclosed to the public, statutory auditor(s) or audit firm(s) should check whether the report on income tax information has been submitted and presented in accordance with the requirements of this Directive and made accessible on the relevant undertaking’s website or on the website of an affiliated undertaking.
(11)  To ensure that cases of non-compliance are disclosed to the public, statutory auditor(s) or audit firm(s) should check whether the report on income tax information has been submitted and presented in accordance with the requirements of this Directive and made accessible on the relevant undertaking’s website or on the website of an affiliated undertaking, and that publicly-disclosed information is in line with the audited financial information for the undertaking within the time limits provided for in this Directive.
Amendment 20
Proposal for a directive
Recital 11 a (new)
(11a)  Cases of infringements by undertakings and branches of the requirements on reporting on income tax information, giving rise to penalties by Member States, under Directive 2013/34/EU, should be reported in a public registry managed by the Commission. Those penalties could include, inter alia, administrative fines or exclusions from public calls for tenders and from the awarding of funding from the Union's structural funds.
Amendment 21
Proposal for a directive
Recital 13
(13)  In order to determine certain tax jurisdictions for which a high level of detail should be shown, the power to adopt acts in accordance with Article 290 TFEU should be delegated to the Commission in respect of drawing up a common Union list of these tax jurisdictions. This list should be drawn up on the basis of certain criteria, identified on the basis of Annex 1 of the Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament and Council on an External Strategy for Effective Taxation (COM(2016) 24 final). It is of particular importance that the Commission carry out appropriate consultations during its preparatory work, including at expert level, and that those consultations be conducted in accordance with the principles laid down in the Interinstitutional Agreement on Better Law-Making as approved by the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission and pending formal signature. In particular, to ensure equal participation in the preparation of delegated acts, the European Parliament and the Council receive all documents at the same time as Member States' experts, and their experts systematically have access to meetings of Commission expert groups dealing with the preparation of delegated acts.
deleted
Amendment 22
Proposal for a directive
Recital 13 a (new)
(13a)   In order to ensure uniform conditions for the implementation of Article 48b(1), (3), (4) and (6) and Article 48c(5) of Directive 2013/34/EU, implementing powers should also be conferred on the Commission. Those powers should be exercised in accordance with Regulation (EU) No 182/2011 of the European Parliament and of the Council1a.
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1a 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 the Member States of the Commission's exercise of implementing powers (OJ L 55, 28.2.2011, p. 13).
Amendment 23
Proposal for a directive
Recital 14
(14)  Since the objective of this Directive cannot be sufficiently achieved by the Member States but can rather, by reason of its effect, be better achieved at Union level, the Union may adopt measures, in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity as set out in Article 5 of the Treaty on European Union. In accordance with the principle of proportionality as set out in that Article, this Directive does not go beyond what is necessary in order to achieve that objective.
(14)  Since the objective of this Directive cannot be sufficiently achieved by the Member States but can rather, by reason of its effect, be better achieved at Union level, the Union may adopt measures, in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity as set out in Article 5 of the Treaty on European Union. Union action is thus justified in order to address the cross-border dimension where there is aggressive tax planning or transfer pricing arrangements. This initiative responds to the concerns expressed by the interested parties about the need to tackle distortions in the single market without compromising Union competitiveness. It should not cause undue administrative burden on companies, generate further tax conflicts or pose the risk of double taxation. In accordance with the principle of proportionality as set out in that Article, this Directive does not go beyond what is necessary in order to achieve that objective, at least with regard to greater transparency.
Amendment 24
Proposal for a directive
Recital 15
(15)  This Directive respects the fundamental rights and observes the principles recognised in particular by the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union.
(15)  Overall, within the framework of this Directive, the extent of the information disclosed is proportionate to the objectives of increasing public transparency and public scrutiny. This Directive is therefore considered to respect the fundamental rights and observes the principles recognised in particular by the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union.
Amendment 25
Proposal for a directive
Recital 16
(16)  In accordance with the Joint Political Declaration of 28 September 2011 of Member States and the Commission on explanatory documents24, Member States have undertaken to accompany, in justified cases, the notification of their transposition measures with one or more documents explaining the relationship between the components of a directive and the corresponding parts of national transposition instruments. With regard to this Directive, the legislator considers the transmission of such documents to be justified.
(16)  In accordance with the Joint Political Declaration of 28 September 2011 of Member States and the Commission on explanatory documents24, Member States have undertaken to accompany, in justified cases, the notification of their transposition measures with one or more documents explaining the relationship between the components of a directive and the corresponding parts of national transposition instruments, for example in the form of a comparative chart. With regard to this Directive, the legislator considers the transmission of such documents to be justified to achieve the objective of this Directive and to avoid potential omissions and inconsistencies regarding implementation by the Member States under their national legislation.
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24 OJ C 369, 17.12.2011, p. 14.
24 OJ C 369, 17.12.2011, p. 14.
Amendment 26
Proposal for a directive
Article 1 – paragraph 1 – point 2
Directive 2013/34/EU
Article 48b – paragraph 1 – subparagraph 1
Member States shall require ultimate parent undertakings governed by their national laws and having a consolidated net turnover exceeding EUR 750 000 000 as well as undertakings governed by their national laws that are not affiliated undertakings and having a net turnover exceeding EUR 750 000 000 to draw up and publish a report on income tax information on an annual basis.
Member States shall require ultimate parent undertakings governed by their national laws and having a consolidated turnover of or exceeding EUR 750 000 000 as well as undertakings governed by their national laws that are not affiliated undertakings and having a net turnover of or exceeding EUR 750 000 000 to draw up and make publicly available free of charge a report on income tax information on an annual basis.
Amendment 27
Proposal for a directive
Article 1 – paragraph 1 – point 2
Directive 2013/34/EU
Article 48b – paragraph 1 – subparagraph 2
The report on income tax information shall be made accessible to the public on the website of the undertaking on the date of its publication.
The report on income tax information shall be published in a common template available free of charge in an open data format and made accessible to the public on the website of the undertaking on the date of its publication in at least one of the official languages of the Union. On the same date, the undertaking shall also file the report in a public registry managed by the Commission.
Member States shall not apply the rules set out in this paragraph where such undertakings are established only within the territory of a single Member State and in no other tax jurisdiction.
Amendment 28
Proposal for a directive
Article 1 – paragraph 1 – point 2
Directive 2013/34/EU
Article 48b – paragraph 3 – subparagraph 1
Member States shall require the medium-sized and large subsidiary undertakings referred to in Article 3(3) and (4) which are governed by their national laws and controlled by an ultimate parent undertaking which has a consolidated net turnover exceeding EUR 750 000 000 and which is not governed by the law of a Member State, to publish the report on income tax information of that ultimate parent undertaking on an annual basis.
Member States shall require subsidiary undertakings which are governed by their national laws and controlled by an ultimate parent undertaking which on its balance sheet in a financial year has a consolidated net turnover of or exceeding EUR 750 000 000 and which is not governed by the law of a Member State, to publish the report on income tax information of that ultimate parent undertaking on an annual basis.
Amendment 29
Proposal for a directive
Article 1 – paragraph 1 – point 2
Directive 2013/34/EU
Article 48b – paragraph 3 – subparagraph 2
The report on income tax information shall be made accessible to the public on the date of its publication on the website of the subsidiary undertaking or on the website of an affiliated undertaking.
The report on income tax information shall be published in a common template available free of charge in an open data format and made accessible to the public on the date of its publication on the website of the subsidiary undertaking or on the website of an affiliated undertaking in at least one of the official languages of the Union. On the same date, the undertaking shall also file the report in a public registry managed by the Commission.
Amendment 30
Proposal for a directive
Article 1 – paragraph 1 – point 2
Directive 2013/34/EU
Article 48b – paragraph 4 – subparagraph 1
Member States shall require branches which are opened in their territories by an undertaking which is not governed by the law of a Member State to publish on an annual basis the report on income tax information of the ultimate parent undertaking referred to in point (a) of paragraph 5 of this Article.
Member States shall require branches which are opened in their territories by an undertaking which is not governed by the law of a Member State to publish and make publicly available free of charge on an annual basis the report on income tax information of the ultimate parent undertaking referred to in point (a) of paragraph 5 of this Article.
Amendment 31
Proposal for a directive
Article 1 – paragraph 1 – point 2
Directive 2013/34/EU
Article 48b – paragraph 4 – subparagraph 2
The report on income tax information shall be made accessible to the public on the date of its publication on the website of the branch or on the website of an affiliated undertaking.
The report on income tax information shall be published in a common template available in an open data format and made accessible to the public on the date of its publication on the website of the branch or on the website of an affiliated undertaking in at least one of the official languages of the Union. On the same date, the undertaking shall also file the report in a public registry managed by the Commission.
Amendment 32
Proposal for a directive
Article 1 – paragraph 1 – point 2
Directive 2013/34/EU
Article 48b – paragraph 5 – point a
(a)  the undertaking which opened the branch is either an affiliated undertaking of a group which is controlled by an ultimate parent undertaking not governed by the law of a Member State and which has a consolidated net turnover exceeding EUR 750 000 000 or an undertaking that is not an affiliated and which has a net turnover exceeding EUR 750 000 000;
(a)  the undertaking which opened the branch is either an affiliated undertaking of a group which is controlled by an ultimate parent undertaking not governed by the law of a Member State and which on its balance sheet has a consolidated net turnover of or exceeding EUR 750 000 000, or an undertaking that is not an affiliated and which has a net turnover of or exceeding EUR 750 000 000;
Amendment 33
Proposal for a directive
Article 1 – paragraph 1 – point 2
Directive 2013/34/EU
Article 48b – paragraph 5 – point b
(b)  the ultimate parent undertaking referred to in point (a) does not have a medium-sized or large subsidiary undertaking as referred to in paragraph 3.
(b)  the ultimate parent undertaking referred to in point (a) does not have a medium-sized or large subsidiary undertaking as referred to in paragraph 3 already subject to the reporting obligations.
Amendment 34
Proposal for a directive
Article 1 – paragraph 1 – point 2
Directive 2013/34/EU
Article 48b – paragraph 7 a (new)
7a.  For Member States which have not adopted the euro, the amount in national currency equivalent to the amount set out in paragraphs 1, 3 and 5 shall be obtained by applying the exchange rate published in the Official Journal of the European Union and that is effective as of the date of the entry into force of this Chapter.
Amendment 35
Proposal for a directive
Article 1 – paragraph 1 – point 2
Directive 2013/34/EU
Article 48c – paragraph 2 – introductory part
2.  The information referred to in paragraph 1 shall comprise the following:
2.  The information referred to in paragraph 1 shall be presented in a common template and shall comprise the following, broken down by tax jurisdiction:
Amendment 36
Proposal for a directive
Article 1 – paragraph 1 – point 2
Directive 2013/34/EU
Article 48c – paragraph 2 – point a
(a)  a brief description of the nature of the activities;
(a)  the name of the ultimate undertaking and, where applicable, the list of all its subsidiaries, a brief description of the nature of their activities and their respective geographical location;
Amendment 37
Proposal for a directive
Article 1 – paragraph 1 – point 2
Directive 2013/34/EU
Article 48c – paragraph 2 – point b
(b)  the number of employees;
(b)  the number of employees on a full-time equivalent basis;
Amendment 38
Proposal for a directive
Article 1 – paragraph 1 – point 2
Directive 2013/34/EU
Article 48c – paragraph 2 – point b a (new)
(ba)  fixed assets other than cash or cash equivalents;
Amendment 39
Proposal for a directive
Article 1 – paragraph 1 – point 2
Directive 2013/34/EU
Article 48c – paragraph 2 – point c
(c)  the amount of the net turnover, which includes the turnover made with related parties;
(c)  the amount of the net turnover, including a distinction between the turnover made with related parties and the turnover made with unrelated parties;
Amendment 40
Proposal for a directive
Article 1 – paragraph 1 – point 2
Directive 2013/34/EU
Article 48c – paragraph 2 – point g a (new)
(ga)  stated capital;
Amendment 65
Proposal for a directive
Article 1 – paragraph 1 – point 2
Directive 2013/34/EU
Article 48c – paragraph 2 – point g b (new)
(gb)   details of public subsidies received and any donations made to politicians, political organisations or political foundations;
Amendment 41
Proposal for a directive
Article 1 – paragraph 1 – point 2
Directive 2013/34/EU
Article 48c – paragraph 2 – point g c (new)
(gc)  whether undertakings, subsidiaries or branches benefit from preferential tax treatment, from a patent box or equivalent regimes.
Amendment 42
Proposal for a directive
Article 1 – paragraph 1 – point 2
Directive 2013/34/EU
Article 48c – paragraph 3 – subparagraph 1
The report shall present the information referred to in paragraph 2 separately for each Member State. Where a Member State comprises several tax jurisdictions, the information shall be combined at Member State level.
The report shall present the information referred to in paragraph 2 separately for each Member State. Where a Member State comprises several tax jurisdictions, the information shall be presented separately for each tax jurisdiction.
Amendment 43
Proposal for a directive
Article 1 – paragraph 1 – point 2
Directive 2013/34/EU
Article 48c – paragraph 3 – subparagraph 2
The report shall also present the information referred to in paragraph 2 of this Article separately for each tax jurisdiction which, at the end of the previous financial year, is listed in the common Union list of certain tax jurisdictions drawn up pursuant to Article 48g, unless the report explicitly confirms, subject to the responsibility referred to in Article 48e below, that the affiliated undertakings of a group governed by the laws of such tax jurisdiction do not engage directly in transactions with any affiliated undertaking of the same group governed by the laws of any Member State.
The report shall also present the information referred to in paragraph 2 of this Article separately for each tax jurisdiction outside the Union.
Amendment 44
Proposal for a directive
Article 1 – paragraph 1 – point 2
Directive 2013/34/EU
Article 48c – paragraph 3 – subparagraph 3
The report shall present the information referred to in paragraph 2 on an aggregated basis for other tax jurisdictions.
deleted
Amendment 83
Proposal for a directive
Article 1 – paragraph 1 – point 2
Directive 2013/34/EU
Article 48c – paragraph 3 – subparagraph 3 a (new)
In order to protect commercially sensitive information and to ensure fair competition, Member States may allow one or more specific items of information listed in this Article to be temporarily omitted from the report as regards activities in one or more specific tax jurisdictions when they are of a nature such that their disclosure would be seriously prejudicial to the commercial position of the undertakings referred to in Article 48b(1) and Article 48b(3) to which it relates. The omission shall not prevent a fair and balanced understanding of the tax position of the undertaking. The omission shall be indicated in the report together with a duly justified explanation for each tax jurisdiction as to why this is the case and with a reference to the tax jurisdiction or tax jurisdictions concerned.
Amendment 69/rev
Proposal for a directive
Article 1 – paragraph 1 – point 2
Directive 2013/34/EU
Article 48c – paragraph 3 – subparagraph 3 b (new)
Member States shall make such omissions subject to prior authorisation of the national competent authority. The undertaking shall seek each year a new authorisation from the competent authority, which will take a decision on the basis of a new assessment of the situation. Where the information omitted no longer complies with the requirement laid down in subparagraph 3a, it shall immediately be made publicly available. As from the end of the non-disclosure period, the undertaking shall also retroactively disclose, in the form of an arithmetic average, the information required under this Article for the preceding years covered by the non-disclosure period.
Amendment 47
Proposal for a directive
Article 1 – paragraph 1 – point 2
Directive 2013/34/EU
Article 48c – paragraph 3 – subparagraph 3 c (new)
Members States shall notify the Commission of the granting of such a temporary derogation and shall transmit to it, in a confidential manner, the omitted information together with a detailed explanation for the derogation granted. Every year, the Commission shall publish on its website the notifications received from Member States and the explanations provided in accordance with subparagraph 3a.
Amendment 48
Proposal for a directive
Article 1 – paragraph 1 – point 2
Directive 2013/34/EU
Article 48c – paragraph 3 – subparagraph 3 d (new)
The Commission shall verify that the requirement laid down in subparagraph 3a is duly respected, and shall monitor the use of such a temporary derogation authorised by national authorities.
Amendment 70/rev
Proposal for a directive
Article 1 – paragraph 1 – point 2
Directive 2013/34/EU
Article 48c – paragraph 3 – subparagraph 3 e (new)
If the Commission concludes, after having carried out its assessment of the information received pursuant to subparagraph 3c, that the requirement laid down in subparagraph 3a is not fulfilled, the undertaking concerned shall immediately make the information publicly available. As from the end of the non-disclosure period, the undertaking shall also retroactively disclose, in the form of an arithmetic average, the information required under this Article for the preceding years covered by the non-disclosure period.
Amendment 50
Proposal for a directive
Article 1 – paragraph 1 – point 2
Directive 2013/34/EU
Article 48c – paragraph 3 – subparagraph 3 f (new)
The Commission shall, by means of a delegated act, adopt guidelines to assist Member States defining cases where the publication of information shall be considered seriously prejudicial to the commercial position of the undertakings to which it relates.
Amendment 51
Proposal for a directive
Article 1 – paragraph 1 – point 2
Directive 2013/34/EU
Article 48c – paragraph 5
5.  The report on income tax information shall be published and made accessible on the website in at least one of the official languages of the Union.
5.  The report on income tax information shall be published in a common template available free of charge in an open data format and made accessible to the public on the date of its publication on the website of the subsidiary undertaking or on the website of an affiliated undertaking in at least one of the official languages of the Union. On the same date, the undertaking shall also file the report in a public registry managed by the Commission.
Amendment 52
Proposal for a directive
Article 1 – paragraph 1 – point 2
Directive 2013/34/EU
Article 48e – paragraph 1
1.  Member States shall ensure that the members of the administrative, management and supervisory bodies of the ultimate parent undertaking referred to in Article 48b(1), acting within the competences assigned to them under national law, have collective responsibility for ensuring that the report on income tax information is drawn up, published and made accessible in accordance with Articles 48b, 48c and 48d.
1.  To strengthen accountability towards third parties and ensure appropriate governance, Member States shall ensure that the members of the administrative, management and supervisory bodies of the ultimate parent undertaking referred to in Article 48b(1), acting within the competences assigned to them under national law, have collective responsibility for ensuring that the report on income tax information is drawn up, published and made accessible in accordance with Articles 48b, 48c and 48d.
Amendment 53
Proposal for a directive
Article 1 – paragraph 1 – point 2
Directive 2013/34/EU
Article 48g
Article 48g
deleted
Common Union list of certain tax jurisdictions
The Commission shall be empowered to adopt delegated acts in accordance with Article 49 in relation to drawing up a common Union list of certain tax jurisdictions. That list shall be based on the assessment of the tax jurisdictions, which do not comply with the following criteria:
(1)  Transparency and exchange of information, including information exchange on request and Automatic Exchange of Information of financial account information;
(2)  Fair tax competition;
(3)  Standards set up by the G20 and/or the OECD;
(4)  Other relevant standards, including international standards set up by the Financial Action Task Force.
The Commission shall regularly review the list and, where appropriate, amend it to take account of new circumstances.
Amendment 54
Proposal for a directive
Article 1 – paragraph 1 – point 2
Directive 2013/34/EU
Article 48i – paragraph 1
The Commission shall report on the compliance with and the impact of the reporting obligations set out in Articles 48a to 48f. The report shall include an evaluation of whether the report on income tax information delivers appropriate and proportionate results, taking into account the need to ensure a sufficient level of transparency and the need for a competitive environment for undertakings.
The Commission shall report on the compliance with and the impact of the reporting obligations set out in Articles 48a to 48f. The report shall include an evaluation of whether the report on income tax information delivers appropriate and proportionate results, and shall assess the costs and benefits of lowering the consolidated net turnover threshold beyond which undertakings and branches are required to report on income tax information. The report shall, in addition, evaluate any necessity to take further complementary measures, taking into account the need to ensure a sufficient level of transparency and the need to preserve and ensure a competitive environment for undertakings and private investment.
Amendment 55
Proposal for a directive
Article 1 – paragraph 1 – point 2 a (new)
Directive 2013/34/EU
Article 48i a (new)
(2a)  the following article is inserted:
‘Article 48ia
No later than 4 years after the adoption of this Directive and taking into account the situation at OECD level, the Commission shall review, assess and report on the provisions of this Chapter, in particular as regards:
—  undertakings and branches required to report on income tax information, particularly whether it would be appropriate to enlarge the scope of this Chapter to include large undertakings as defined in Article 3(4) and large groups as defined in Article 3(7) of this Directive;
—  the content of the report on income tax information as provided for in Article 48c;
—  the temporary derogation provided for in subparagraphs 3a to 3f of Article 48c(3).
The Commission shall submit the report to the European Parliament and to the Council, together with a legislative proposal, if appropriate.’
Amendment 56
Proposal for a directive
Article 1 – paragraph 1 – point 2 b (new)
Directive 2013/34/EU
Article 48i b (new)
(2b)  the following article is inserted:
‘Article 48ib
Common template for the report
The Commission shall, by means of implementing acts, lay down the common template to which Article 48b(1), (3), (4) and (6) and Article 48c(5) refer. Those implementing acts shall be adopted in accordance with the examination procedure referred to in Article 50(2).’
Amendment 57
Proposal for a directive
Article 1 – paragraph 1 – point 3 – point b
Directive 2013/34/EU
Article 49 – paragraph 3 a
(3a)  Before adopting a delegated act, the Commission shall consult experts designated by each Member State in accordance with the principles laid down in the Interinstitutional Agreement on Better Law-Making of [date].’
(3a)  Before adopting a delegated act, the Commission shall consult experts designated by each Member State in accordance with the principles laid down in the Interinstitutional Agreement of 13 April 2016 on Better Law-Making*, taking particular account of the provisions of the Treaties and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union.
________________
* OJ L 123, 12.5.2016, p. 1.’
Amendment 58
Proposal for a directive
Article 1 – paragraph 1 – point 3 a (new)
Directive 2013/34/EU
Article 51 – paragraph 1
(3a)  in Article 51, paragraph 1 is replaced by the following:
Member States shall provide for penalties applicable to infringements of the national provisions adopted in accordance with this Directive and shall take all the measures necessary to ensure that those penalties are enforced. The penalties provided for shall be effective, proportionate and dissuasive.’
‘Member States shall lay down rules on penalties applicable to infringements of the national provisions adopted in accordance with this Directive and shall take all the measures necessary to ensure that they are implemented. The penalties provided for shall be effective, proportionate and dissuasive.
Member States shall at least provide for administrative measures and penalties for the infringement by undertakings of national provisions adopted in accordance with this Directive.
Member States shall notify the Commission of those provisions at the latest by ... [please insert the date of one year after entry into force] and shall notify it without delay of any subsequent amendment affecting the provisions.
By ... [three years after the entry into force of this Directive] the Commission shall compile a list of the measures and penalties laid down by each Member State in accordance with this Directive.’

(1) The matter was referred back for interinstitutional negotiations to the committees responsible, pursuant to Rule 59(4), fourth subparagraph (A8-0227/2017).


Introduction of temporary autonomous trade measures for Ukraine ***I
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Resolution
Text
Annex
European Parliament legislative resolution of 4 July 2017 on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the introduction of temporary autonomous trade measures for Ukraine supplementing the trade concessions available under the Association Agreement (COM(2016)0631 – C8-0392/2016 – 2016/0308(COD))
P8_TA(2017)0285A8-0193/2017

(Ordinary legislative procedure: first reading)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Commission proposal to Parliament and the Council (COM(2016)0631),

–  having regard to Article 294(2) and Article 207(2) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, pursuant to which the Commission submitted the proposal to Parliament (C8-0392/2016),

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

–  having regard to the provisional agreement approved by the responsible committee under Rule 69f(4) of its Rules of Procedure and the undertaking given by the Council representative by letter of 29 June 2017 to approve Parliament’s position, in accordance with Article 294(4) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on International Trade and the opinion of the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development (A8-0193/2017),

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

2.  Takes note of the statement by the Commission annexed to this resolution, which will be published in the L series of the Official Journal of the European Union together with the final legislative act;

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

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

Position of the European Parliament adopted at first reading on 4 July 2017 with a view to the adoption of Regulation (EU) 2017/... of the European Parliament and of the Council on the introduction of temporary autonomous trade measures for Ukraine supplementing the trade concessions available under the Association Agreement

(As an agreement was reached between Parliament and Council, Parliament's position corresponds to the final legislative act, Regulation (EU) 2017/1566.)

ANNEX TO THE LEGISLATTIVE RESOLUTION

Commission Statement related to Article 3 of the Regulation on the temporary autonomous trade measures (ATMs) for Ukraine

The Commission notes that should it be impossible to implement the suspension of preferential arrangements before full utilisation of the annual zero-tariff rate quotas for agricultural products, the Commission shall endeavour proposing a reduction or suspension of these concessions in the following years.

(1)This position replaces the amendments adopted on 1 June 2017 (Texts adopted P8_TA(2017)0236).


Draft amending budget n° 2 to the General budget 2017 entering the surplus of the financial year 2016
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European Parliament resolution of 4 July 2017 on the Council position on Draft amending budget No 2/2017 of the European Union for the financial year 2017: Entering the surplus of the financial year 2016 (09437/2017 – C8-0190/2017 – 2017/2061(BUD))
P8_TA(2017)0286A8-0229/2017

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to Article 314 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

–  having regard to Article 106a of the Treaty establishing the European Atomic Energy Community,

–  having regard to Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 966/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 October 2012 on the financial rules applicable to the general budget of the Union and repealing Council Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 1605/2002(1), and in particular Article 41 thereof,

–  having regard to the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2017, as definitively adopted on 1 December 2016(2),

–  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(3),

–  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(4),

–  having regard to Council Decision 2014/335/EU, Euratom of 26 May 2014 on the system of own resources of the European Union(5),

–  having regard to Draft amending budget No 2/2017, which the Commission adopted on 12 April 2017 (COM(2017)0188),

–  having regard to the position on Draft amending budget No 2/2017 which the Council adopted on 8 June 2017 and forwarded to Parliament on 9 June 2017 (09437/2017 – C8‑0190/2017),

–  having regard to Rules 88 and 91 of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgets (A8-0229/2017),

A.  whereas Draft amending budget No 2/2017 aims to enter in the 2017 budget the surplus from the 2016 financial year, amounting to EUR 6 405 million;

B.  whereas the main components of that surplus are a positive outturn on income of EUR 1 688 million, an under-spending in expenditure of EUR 4 889 million, and exchange rate differences amounting to EUR - 173 million;

C.  whereas on the income side, the two main components are interest on late payments and fines (EUR 3 052 million) and a negative outturn on own resources (EUR 1 511 million);

D.  whereas on the expenditure side, under-implementation reaches EUR 4 825 million for 2016 and EUR 28 million for 2015 carryovers under Section III (Commission), and EUR 35 million for other institutions;

1.  Takes note of Draft amending budget No 2/2017, as submitted by the Commission, which is devoted solely to the budgeting of the 2016 surplus of EUR 6 405 million, in accordance with Article 18 of the Financial Regulation, and of the Council´s position thereon;

2.  Notes with considerable concern the significant under-implementation of EUR 4 889 million in 2016, despite the fact that Amending budget No 4/2016 had already reduced the level of payment appropriations by EUR 7 284,3 million; points out that the very low implementation of payment appropriations in the area of cohesion (Heading 1b) is partially due to inaccurate forecasts by Member States and to delays in the designation of managing and certifying authorities at national level;

3.  Draws attention to the negative impact of the depreciation of the British Pound against the Euro, which is the main cause of the shortfall in revenues of EUR 1 511 million under own resources; notes that that shortfall could have created severe problems for the financing of the Union budget; remarks that that shortfall in revenues is due to the unilateral British decision to leave the Union, but that the correction has to be borne by the Union as a whole; insists that those costs should be considered when negotiating the settlement of financial obligations between the UK and the Union;

4.  Notes in particular the relatively high level of fines in 2016, which totalled EUR 4 159 million, of which EUR 2 861 million are counted in the 2016 surplus;

5.  Insists that, instead of adjusting the GNI contribution, the Union budget should be enabled to reuse any surplus resulting from under-implementation of appropriations or from fines imposed on companies for breaching Union competition law in order to deal with the financing needs of the Union;

6.  Observes that the adoption of Draft amending budget No 2/2017 will reduce the share of GNI contributions from Member States to the Union budget in 2017 by EUR 6 405 million; once more, urges Member States to use the opportunity of such a reflow to honour their pledges in relation to the refugee crisis and to match the Union contribution to Union trust funds and to the new European Fund for Sustainable Development(6);

7.  Calls on Union institutions to swiftly process the pending and upcoming draft amending budgets for the Youth Employment Initiative and for the European Fund for Sustainable Development, in line with the commitments taken as part of the outcome of the conciliation on the 2017 budget;

8.  Regrets in the context of this Draft amending budget that the adoption of the mid-term revision of the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) was blocked in the Council for several months; is relieved that the British government kept its word and lifted its blockade on the MFF revision swiftly after the General elections in the UK; hopes that the reflow of financial resources to Member States will ease the upcoming negotiations on the settlement of financial obligations between the UK and the Union;

9.  Approves the Council position on Draft amending budget No 2/2017;

10.  Instructs its President to declare that Amending budget No 2/2017 has been definitively adopted and arrange for its publication in the Official Journal of the European Union;

11.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the other institutions and bodies concerned and the national parliaments.

(1) OJ L 298, 26.10.2012, p. 1.
(2) OJ L 51, 28.2.2017, p. 1.
(3) OJ L 347, 20.12.2013, p. 884.
(4) OJ C 373, 20.12.2013, p. 1.
(5) OJ L 168, 7.6.2014, p. 105.
(6) Proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the European Fund for Sustainable Development and establishing the EFSD Guarantee and the EFSD Guarantee Fund (COM(2016)0586 final).


A longer lifetime for products: benefits for consumers and companies
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European Parliament resolution of 4 July 2017 on a longer lifetime for products: benefits for consumers and companies (2016/2272(INI))
P8_TA(2017)0287A8-0214/2017

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), and in particular Article 114 thereof,

–  having regard to Articles 191, 192 and 193 of the TFEU, and to the reference to the goal of ensuring the prudent and rational utilisation of natural resources,

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 16 July 2008 on the Sustainable Consumption and Production and Sustainable Industrial Policy Action Plan (COM(2008)0397),

–  having regard to Directive 2009/125/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 October 2009 establishing a framework for the setting of ecodesign requirements for energy-related products(1),

–  having regard to the Commission’s Ecodesign Working Plan 2016-2019 (COM(2016)0773), particularly the objective of establishing more product-specific and horizontal requirements in areas such as durability, reparability, upgradeability, design for disassembly, and ease of reuse and recycling,

–  having regard to Directive 2010/30/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 19 May 2010 on the indication by labelling and standard product information of the consumption of energy and other resources by energy-related products(2),

–  having regard to Decision No 1386/2013/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 November 2013 on a General Union Environment Action Programme to 2020 ‘Living well, within the limits of our planet’(3) (Seventh Environment Action Programme),

–  having regard to the opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee of 17 October 2013 entitled ‘Towards more sustainable consumption: industrial product lifetimes and restoring trust through consumer information’(4),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 26 January 2011 entitled ‘A resource-efficient Europe – Flagship initiative under the Europe 2020 strategy’ (COM(2011)0021),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 20 September 2011 entitled ‘Roadmap to a Resource Efficient Europe’ (COM(2011)0571),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 9 April 2013 entitled ‘Building the Single Market for Green Products. Facilitating better information on the environmental performance of products and organisations’ (COM(2013)0196),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 2 July 2014 entitled ‘Towards a circular economy: A zero waste programme for Europe’ (COM(2014)0398),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 2 December 2015 entitled ‘Closing the loop – An EU action plan for the Circular Economy’ (COM(2015)0614) and the Circular Economy Package, which includes in particular the revision of directives on waste (Directive 2008/98/EC, ‘the Waste Framework Directive’), packaging and packaging waste (Directive 94/62/EC), landfill of waste (Directive 1999/31/EC), end-of-life vehicles (Directive 2000/53/EC), batteries and accumulators and their waste (Directive 2006/66/EC), and electrical and electronic waste (Directive 2012/19/EU),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 22 November 2016 entitled ‘Next steps for a sustainable European future. European action for sustainability’ (COM(2016)0739),

–  having regard to the Commission proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council of 9 December 2015 on certain aspects concerning contracts for the online and other distance sales of goods (COM(2015)0635),

–  having regard to Directive 2011/83/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 October 2011 on consumer rights(5),

–  having regard to Directive 2005/29/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 May 2005 concerning unfair business-to-consumer commercial practices in the internal market(6),

–  having regard to the BEUC report of 18 August 2015 entitled ‘Durable goods: More sustainable products, better consumer rights. Consumer expectations from the EU’s resource efficiency and circular economy agenda’,

–  having regard to the European Economic and Social Committee study of 29 March 2016 entitled ‘The influence of lifespan labelling on consumers’,

–  having regard to the study carried out in July 2016 at the request of its Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection, entitled ‘A longer lifetime for products: benefits for consumers and companies’,

–  having regard to the European Consumer Centre’s summary of 18 April 2016 entitled ‘Planned obsolescence or by-products of consumer society’,

–  having regard to Austrian standard ONR 192102 entitled ‘Label of excellence for durable, repair-friendly designed electrical and electronic appliances’,

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection and the opinion of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (A8-0214/2017),

A.  whereas the Commission’s Ecodesign Working Plan 2016-2019 includes a reference to the circular economy and to the need to tackle the issues of durability and recyclability;

B.  whereas the adoption of an opinion on product lifetimes by the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) demonstrates the interest economic players and civil society are taking in this area;

C.  whereas a balance must be struck between extending the lifetime of products and innovation, research and development;

D.  whereas the study commissioned by the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection shows that broad-based policy measures are needed to promote a longer lifetime for products;

E.  whereas diverse economic and business models coexist, including the usage-based economic model which can help to reduce the adverse consequences for the environment;

F.  whereas there is a need to promote longer product lifespans, in particular by tackling programmed obsolescence;

G.  whereas the European repair sector, which mainly comprises micro, small and medium-sized enterprises, needs to be supported;

H.  whereas greater harmonisation of the arrangements for the re-use of products will boost the local economy and the internal market by creating new jobs and stimulating demand for used goods;

I.  whereas it is both economically and environmentally necessary to preserve raw materials and limit the production of waste, something which the concept of extended producer responsibility has sought to take into account;

J.  whereas, in a Eurobarometer survey conducted in June 2014, 77 % of EU consumers said that they would prefer to try to repair broken goods than to buy new ones; whereas the information provided to consumers on the durability and reparability of products still needs to be improved;

K.  whereas reliable and durable products provide value for money to consumers and prevent the overuse of resources and waste; whereas it is therefore important that the useful lifetime of consumer products is prolonged through design, by ensuring durability and the possibility to repair, upgrade, disassemble and recycle the product;

L.  whereas the decline in consumer confidence in product quality is detrimental to European companies; whereas the 24-month legal guarantee is the current EU-wide minimum threshold and some Members States have laid down more protective provisions for consumers in accordance with Directive 1999/44/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 May 1999 on certain aspects of the sale of consumer goods and associated guarantees;

M.  whereas consumers’ right to choose in accordance with their various needs, expectations and preferences should be respected;

N.  whereas, despite the EESC study of March 2016 establishing a positive link between product lifetime labelling and consumer behaviour, consumers are not being properly informed about the lifetimes of products;

O.  whereas the lifetime of a product and how it ages are determined by various natural or artificial factors, such as composition, functionality, cost of repair and consumption patterns;

P.  whereas repairs and spare parts should be made more readily accessible;

Q.  whereas, in addition to a long lifetime, the level of quality of a product throughout its life cycle is fundamental to the contribution it makes to resource protection;

R.  whereas there has been an increase in the number of national initiatives to remedy the problem of premature obsolescence of goods and software; whereas there is a need to develop a common strategy for the single market in this regard;

S.  whereas the lifetime of digital media is crucial to the lifetime of electronic appliances; whereas, given that software is becoming more and more rapidly obsolete, electronic appliances need to be adaptable in order to stay competitive on the market;

T.  whereas products with built-in defects designed to cause them to break down and ultimately cease to function after being used a certain number of times serve only to create consumer distrust and should not be allowed on the market;

U.  whereas, according to Eurobarometer data, 90 % of European citizens believe that products should be clearly labelled to indicate their useful lifespan;

V.  whereas all economic actors can benefit from products with a longer lifetime, including SMEs;

W.  whereas the Seventh Environmental Action Programme calls for specific measures to improve durability, repairability and reusability and to extend the lifetime of products;

X.  whereas extended producer responsibility has an important role to play in this regard;

Y.  whereas the achievement of a circular economy model requires the involvement of political decision-makers, citizens and businesses, and implies changes not only to the design and sale of products and services, but also to the mentality and expectations of consumers and in business activity, through the creation of new markets that respond to changes in consumption patterns, evolving towards the use, reuse and sharing of products, thereby helping to extend their useful life and to create competitive, lasting and sustainable products;

Z.  whereas in many lamps bulbs cannot be replaced, which can lead to problems if a bulb stops working, if newer, more efficient bulbs appear on the market or if the customer’s preference, for example as regards the colour of the light emitted, changes, because the whole lamp has to be replaced;

AA.  whereas LED bulbs should ideally be replaceable, not irremovable, elements;

AB.  whereas, as the circular economy develops, further steps must be taken to encourage the repairability, adaptability, upgradeability, durability and recyclability of products, in order to extend the lifetimes and the useful life of products and/or product components;

AC.  whereas ever greater product diversity, ever shorter innovation cycles and constantly changing fashions are increasing the frequency with which new products are purchased, thus shortening the useful life of products;

AD.  whereas great potential is offered by the repair, second-hand and exchange sector, i.e. the sector working with the aim of extending product lifetimes;

AE.  whereas a balance should be struck between the aim of extending product lifetimes and safeguarding an environment which still offers incentives for innovation and further development;

Designing robust, durable and high-quality products

1.  Calls on the Commission to encourage, where practicable, the establishment of minimum resistance criteria covering, inter alia, robustness, repairability and upgradeability for each product category from the design stage onwards, facilitated by standards developed by all three European Standardisation Organisations (ESOs) (CEN, CENELEC and ETSI);

2.  Stresses that a balance must be struck between the extension of product lifetimes, the conversion of waste into resources (secondary raw materials), industrial symbiosis, innovation, consumer demand, environmental protection and growth policy in all the phases of the product cycle, and considers that the development of increasingly resource-efficient products must not encourage short lifetimes or the premature disposal of products;

3.  Points out that issues such as product durability, extended warranties, the availability of spare parts, ease of repair and the interchangeability of components should be part of a manufacturer’s commercial offer in meeting the various needs, expectations and preferences of consumers, and are an important aspect of free market competition;

4.  Notes the role of commercial strategies, such as product leasing, in the design of durable products, whereby leasing firms retain ownership of the leased units and have an incentive to remarket products and to invest in designing more durable products, resulting in a lower volume of new production and disposal products;

5.  Recalls Parliament’s position on the revision of the Circular Economy Package amending the Waste Directive, which strengthened the principle of extended producer responsibility and thus created incentives for more sustainable product design;

6.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to support producers of modular designs which are easy to dismantle and interchange;

7.  States that the pursuit of product durability and repairability should go alongside the objective of sustainability by means of, for instance, the use of environmentally friendly materials;

8.  Notes with concern the amount of electronic waste generated by modems, routers, and TV decoders/set-top boxes when consumers switch to a new telecom provider; reminds consumers and telecom providers that, according to Regulation (EU) 2015/2120, consumers already have the right to use the terminal equipment of their choice when switching to a new telecom provider;

Promoting repairability and longevity

9.  Calls on the Commission to promote product repairability:

   by encouraging and facilitating measures that make the option to repair goods attractive to the consumer,
   by using construction techniques and materials that render repair of the item or the replacement of its components easier and less expensive; consumers should not find themselves in an endless cycle of repairing and maintaining faulty products,
   by encouraging, in the event of a recurrent lack of conformity or a repair period in excess of one month, extension of the guarantee by a period equivalent to the time required to carry out the repair,
   by urging that parts which are crucial to the functioning of the product should be replaceable and repairable, by including the product’s repairability among its essential features when beneficial, and by discouraging, unless justified for safety reasons, the fixing-in of essential components such as batteries and LEDs into products,
   by urging manufacturers to provide maintenance guides and repair indications at the time of purchase, in particular for products for which maintenance and repair are important, in order to improve the chance of extending product lifespan,
   by ensuring the possibility of using substitutes of equal quality and performance for original parts, for the purposes of repairing all products in accordance with applicable law,
   by developing the standardisation, where practicable, of spare parts and tools necessary for repair, in order to improve the performance of repair services,
   by encouraging manufacturers to provide maintenance guides and repair instructions in different languages to repair shops when requested,
   by encouraging manufacturers to develop battery technology to ensure that the lifespan of the batteries and accumulators better matches the expected lifespan of the product or, alternatively, to make battery replacement more accessible at a price that is proportionate to the price of the product;

10.  Considers it beneficial to ensure the availability of spare parts essential to the proper and safe functioning of goods:

   by encouraging the accessibility of spare parts in addition to product assemblies,
   by encouraging economic operators to provide an appropriate technical service for the consumer goods they manufacture or import, and to supply spare parts essential to the proper and safe functioning of goods at a price commensurate with the nature and life-time of the product,
   by clearly indicating whether spare parts for goods are available or not, on what terms and for how long and, where appropriate, through the establishment of a digital platform;

11.  Encourages the Member States to explore appropriate incentives promoting durable, high-quality and repairable products, to stimulate repairs and second-hand sales, and to develop repairs training;

12.  Underlines the importance of safeguarding the option of going to an independent repairer, for example by discouraging technical, safety or software solutions which prevent repairs from being performed other than by approved firms or bodies;

13.  Calls for efforts to encourage the re-use of spare parts for the second-hand market;

14.  Acknowledges the possibility of using 3D printing to provide parts for professionals and consumers; urges that product safety, counterfeiting and copyright protection must be safeguarded in this regard;

15.  Recalls that the availability of standardised and modular components, disassembly planning, long-duration product design and efficient production processes have an important role to play in implementing the circular economy successfully;

Operating a usage-oriented economic model and supporting SMEs and employment in the EU

16.  Highlights that the shift towards business models such as ‘products as services’ has the potential to improve the sustainability of production and consumption patterns, provided that product-service systems do not result in shortened product lifetimes, and stresses that such business models should not provide opportunities for tax avoidance;

17.  Emphasises that the development of new business models, such as internet-based services, new forms of marketing, department stores selling only used goods and the more widespread availability of informal repair facilities (repair cafes, workshops in which people can do their own repairs) can help to extend product lifetimes and, at the same time, increase consumers’ awareness of and trust in products with a long lifetime;

18.  Calls on the Member States:

   to consult with all stakeholders concerned in order to encourage the development of a usage-based sales model which benefits everyone,
   to step up their efforts with measures to promote the development of the functional economy, and to encourage the rental, exchange and borrowing of goods,
   to encourage local and regional authorities actively promoting the development of economic models, such as the collaborative economy and the circular economy, which encourage a more efficient use of resources, the durability of goods and strengthen repair, re-use and recycling;

19.  Encourages the Member States to ensure that the life-cycle costing provision of Directive 2014/24/EU is taken into account in public procurement and to increase the re-use rate of equipment purchased by public authorities;

20.  Encourages the Member States and the Commission to support the collaborative economy in their public policies, given the benefits it provides in utilising spare resources and capacity, for example in the transport and accommodation sectors;

21.  Calls on the Commission, when promoting the circular economy, to stress the importance of product durability;

22.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to fully apply the waste hierarchy established in EU legislation (Waste Framework Directive (2008/98/EC)), and in particular to keep electrical and electronic devices at their highest utility and value and not consider them as waste, for instance by granting access to waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) collection points for personnel from re-use centres that can make use of such goods and their components;

23.  Considers that measures included in this resolution should be applied to SMEs and microenterprises in particular, as defined in Commission Recommendation 2003/361/EC, in a manner that is appropriate and proportionate to the size and capabilities of SME or microenterprises, in order to preserve their development, and encourage employment and training for new professions in the EU;

24.  Calls on the Commission to consider how the replaceability of LED bulbs can be encouraged and facilitated and to consider, in addition to ecodesign measures, a less stringent approach involving, for example, labelling, incentive schemes, public procurement or an extended warranty if the bulbs cannot be removed;

25.  Urges the Member States to carry out effective market surveillance to ensure that both European and imported products comply with the requirements as regards product policy and ecodesign;

26.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to involve local and regional authorities and to respect their competences;

Ensuring better information for consumers

27.  Calls on the Commission to improve product durability information via:

   the consideration of a voluntary European label, covering, in particular: the product’s durability, ecodesign features, upgradeability in line with technical progress and repairability,
   voluntary experiments with companies and other stakeholders at EU-level with a view to developing a designation of a product’s expected useful life on the basis of standardised criteria, that could be used by all Member States,
   the creation of a usage meter for the most relevant consumer products, in particular large electrical appliances,
   an assessment of the impact of aligning lifespan labelling with the duration of the legal guarantee,
   the use of digital applications or social media,
   standardising information in manuals on a product’s durability, upgradeability, and repairability to ensure that it is clear, accessible and easy to understand,
   information based on standard criteria, where the anticipated lifetime of a product is stated;

28.  Urges the Member States and the Commission to:

   assist local and regional authorities, companies and associations in conducting consumer awareness campaigns on extending the lifespans of products, in particular by providing information on advice on maintenance, repair, re-use, etc.,
   promote consumer awareness about early failing and non-repairable products, where appropriate through the development of notification platforms for consumers;

29.  Calls on the Commission to encourage regular and structured exchanges of information and sharing of best practices throughout the Union, between the Commission and the Member States, and including regional and municipal authorities;

Measures on planned obsolescence

30.  Calls on the Commission to propose, in consultation with consumer organisations, producers and other stakeholders, an EU-level definition of planned obsolescence for tangible goods and software; calls on the Commission, furthermore, in cooperation with market surveillance authorities, to examine the possibility of establishing an independent system that could test and detect the built-in obsolescence in products; calls, in this connection, for better legal protection for ‘whistle-blowers’ and appropriate dissuasive measures for producers;

31.  Refers to the pioneering role of some Member States in this regard, such as the initiative of the Benelux countries to combat planned obsolescence and to extend the lifespan of (electrical) household appliances; stresses the importance of sharing best practices in this regard;

32.  Notes that upgradeability of products can slow product obsolescence and reduce the environmental impacts and costs for users;

Strengthening the right to the legal guarantee of conformity

33.  Regards it as essential that consumers be better informed about the way the statutory guarantee of conformity works; calls for a reference to the guarantee to appear written out in full on the invoice for the purchase of the product;

34.  Calls on the Commission to take initiatives and measures to improve consumer confidence:

   by strengthening consumer protection, especially for those products for which the reasonably expected period of use is longer, and by taking into account the strong consumer protection measures already taken in some Member States,
   by taking into account the effects of both eco-design legislation and contract law on energy-related products in order to develop a holistic approach to product regulation,
   by ensuring that consumers are specifically informed, in the sales contract, of their right to a legal guarantee, and by promoting programmes to raise awareness of this right,
   by simplifying proof of purchase for the consumer by linking the guarantee to the goods rather than the purchaser, and by further encouraging the introduction of e-receipts and digital guarantee schemes across the board;

35.  Calls for the implementation of a complaints mechanism at EU level for cases in which the right to a guarantee is not implemented, in order to facilitate the monitoring of the application of European standards by the relevant authorities;

36.  Points out that an incentive for more sustainable product design can be provided by strengthening the principle of extended producer responsibility and laying down minimum requirements to be met;

Protecting consumers against software obsolescence

37.  Calls for greater transparency on upgradeability, security updates and durability, all of which are necessary aspects to the proper functioning of both software and hardware; calls on the Commission to explore the need to facilitate greater business-to-business cooperation;

38.  Encourages transparency from suppliers and manufacturers by stipulations in product contracts of the minimum period for which security updates on operating systems are available; proposes that a definition of a reasonable period of use be established; stresses, in addition, the need for the product supplier, in the case of embedded operating systems, to ensure the delivery of those security updates; calls on producers to provide clear information about the compatibility of software updates and upgrades with embedded operating systems provided to consumers;

39.  Calls for essential software updates to be reversible and accompanied by information on the consequences for the operation of the device and for new essential software to be compatible with the previous-generation software;

40.  Calls for the replaceability of parts, including the processor, to be encouraged by means of standardisation, so that products can be kept up to date;

o
o   o

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

(1) OJ L 285, 31.10.2009, p. 10.
(2) OJ L 153, 18.6.2010, p. 1.
(3) OJ L 354, 28.12.2013, p. 171.
(4) OJ C 67, 6.3.2014, p. 23.
(5) OJ L 304, 22.11.2011, p. 64.
(6) OJ L 149, 11.6.2005, p. 22.


Addressing human rights violations in the context of war crimes, and crimes against humanity, including genocide
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European Parliament resolution of 4 July 2017 on addressing human rights violations in the context of war crimes, and crimes against humanity, including genocide (2016/2239(INI))
P8_TA(2017)0288A8-0222/2017

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide of 9 December 1948,

–  having regard to Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations (Action with respect to Threats to the Peace, Breaches of the Peace, and Acts of Aggression),

–  having regard to the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment of 10 December 1984,

–  having regard to Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief, and the EU Guidelines on the promotion and protection of freedom of religion or belief,

–  having regard to UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security of 31 October 2000,

–  having regard to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) of 17 July 1998, which entered into force on 1 July 2002,

–  having regard to the Kampala Amendments to the Rome Statute, adopted by the Review Conference in Kampala, Uganda in June 2010,

–  having regard to the United Nations Framework of Analysis for Atrocity Crimes, drafted by the UN Office of the Special Advisers on the Prevention of Genocide and the Responsibility to Protect,

–  having regard to the report of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights of 15 March 2015 on the human rights situation in Iraq in the light of abuses committed by the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant and associated groups,

–  having regard to the UN General Assembly Resolution A/71/L.48 of December 2016, establishing an international, impartial and independent mechanism to assist in the investigation and prosecution of those responsible for the most serious crimes under international law committed in the Syrian Arab Republic since March 2011 (IIIM),

–  having regard to the special inquiry into the events in Aleppo by the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic, published on 1 March 2017,

–  having regard to Council Common Position 2001/443/CFSP of 11 June 2001 on the International Criminal Court(1),

–  having regard to Council Decision 2002/494/JHA of 13 June 2002 setting up a European network of contact points in respect of persons responsible for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes(2),

–  having regard to Council Decision 2003/335/JHA of 8 May 2003 on the investigation and prosecution of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes(3),

–  having regard to Council Common Position 2003/444/CFSP of 16 June 2003 on the International Criminal Court(4),

–  having regard to the EU Guidelines on Promoting Compliance with International Humanitarian Law,

–  having regard to the agreement between the ICC and the European Union on cooperation and assistance(5),

–  having regard to Council Decision 2011/168/CFSP of 21 March 2011 on the International Criminal Court(6),

–  having regard to the joint staff working document of the Commission and the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy on advancing the principle of complementarity (SWD(2013)0026),

–  having regard to the Council conclusions on the EUʼs comprehensive approach of 12 May 2014,

–  having regard to the Strategy of the EU Genocide Network to combat impunity for the crime of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes within the European Union and its Member States, adopted on 30 October 2014,

–  having regard to the Council conclusions on the EU’s support to transitional justice of 16 November 2015,

–  having regard to the Council conclusions of 23 May 2016 on the EU Regional Strategy for Syria and Iraq as well as the Daesh threat,

–  having regard to the statement of 9 December 2016 by the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (VP/HR) on the occasion of the International Day of Commemoration and Dignity of the Victims of the Crime of Genocide and of the Prevention of this Crime,

–  having regard to the European Union Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy 2015-2019,

–  having regard to its resolution of 17 November 2011 on ‘EU support for the ICC: facing challenges and overcoming difficulties’(7),

–  having regard to its resolution of 17 July 2014 on the crime of aggression(8),

–  having regard to its resolutions of 8 October 2015 on the mass displacement of children in Nigeria as a result of Boko Haram attacks(9) and of 17 July 2014 on ‘Nigeria – recent attacks by Boko Haram’(10),

–  having regard to its resolution of 16 December 2015 on ‘Preparing for the World Humanitarian Summit: Challenges and opportunities for humanitarian assistance’(11),

–  having regard to its resolutions of 24 November 2016 on the situation in Syria(12), 27 October 2016 on the situation in Northern Iraq/Mosul(13), of 4 February 2016 on the systematic mass murder of religious minorities by the so-called ‘ISIS/Daesh’(14), and of 11 June 2015 on ‘Syria: situation in Palmyra and the case of Mazen Darwish’(15),

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Foreign Affairs and the opinion of the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality (A8-0222/2017),

A.  whereas the crime of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, also known as ‘atrocity crimes’, are the most serious crimes against humankind and a reason for concern for the entire international community; whereas humankind has been convulsed by such crimes;

B.  whereas the international community has the duty to prevent atrocity crimes from taking place; whereas when such crimes happen they must not go unpunished and their effective, fair and rapid prosecution must be ensured, at national or international level and according to the principle of complementarity;

C.  whereas accountability, justice, the rule of law and the fight against impunity constitute essential elements underpinning peace and conflict resolution, reconciliation and reconstruction efforts;

D.  whereas genuine reconciliation can be based only on truth and justice;

E.  whereas the victims of such crimes have the right to remedy and compensation and whereas refugees who have been the victims of atrocity crimes should receive full support from the international community; whereas in this context it is important to adopt a gender perspective by taking account of the special needs of women and girls in refugee camps, during repatriation and resettlement, in rehabilitation and in post-conflict reconstruction;

F.  whereas the ICC plays a key role in the fight against impunity, in the restoration of peace, and in providing justice for victims;

G.  whereas the system of reparations for the victims of the crimes within the competences of the Court makes the ICC a unique judicial institution at the international level;

H.  whereas universal accession to the Rome Statute is essential for the full effectiveness of the ICC; whereas 124 countries, including all EU Member States, have ratified the Rome Statute of the ICC;

I.  whereas the Kampala amendments to the Rome Statute on the crime of aggression, considered as the most serious and dangerous form of illegal use of force, have been ratified by 34 countries, thus achieving the 30 acceptances required for its activation and opening the possibility for the Assembly of States Parties to adopt, after 1 January 2017, the activation of the Court’s treaty-based aggression-related jurisdiction;

J.  whereas in November 2016 Russia decided to withdraw its signature from the Rome Statute; whereas in October 2016 South Africa, Gambia and Burundi also announced their withdrawal; whereas the African Union (AU) on 31 January 2017 adopted a non-binding resolution including an ICC Withdrawal Strategy and calling on AU member states to consider implementing its recommendations; whereas in February and March 2017 respectively, Gambia and South Africa notified their decision to revoke their withdrawal from the Rome Statute;

K.  whereas cooperation among States Parties to the Rome Statute and with regional organisations is of the utmost importance, particularly in situations where the jurisdiction of the ICC is being challenged;

L.  whereas the ICC is currently conducting ten investigations in nine countries (Georgia, Mali, Côte d’Ivoire, Libya, Kenya, Sudan (Darfur), Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo and (two investigations) the Central African Republic;

M.  whereas, in accordance with the principle of complementarity as enshrined in the Rome Statute, the ICC only acts in instances where national courts are unable or unwilling to genuinely investigate and prosecute atrocity crimes, so that States Parties retain the primary responsibility for bringing to justice the alleged perpetrators of the most serious crimes of international concern;

N.  whereas in Council Common Position 2001/443/CFSP of 11 June 2001 on the ICC the Member States declared that the crimes within the jurisdiction of the ICC are of concern to all Member States, which are determined to cooperate on the prevention of those crimes and on putting an end to impunity for the perpetrators thereof;

O.  whereas the EU and its Member States have been staunch allies of the ICC from its inception, offering continued political, diplomatic, financial and logistical support, including the promotion of universality and the defence of the integrity of the Rome Statute system;

P.  whereas the EU and its Member States have pledged to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) that they will strongly support the establishment of an effective mechanism for strengthening compliance with international humanitarian law; whereas Parliament has requested the VP/HR to report back on the objectives and strategy devised in order to deliver on this pledge;

Q.  whereas numerous atrocity crimes were committed on the territory of countries formerly forming part of Yugoslavia in the wars that took place between 1991 and 1995;

R.  whereas trial proceedings for the atrocity crimes committed on the territory of countries formerly forming part of Yugoslavia in the wars between 1991 and 1995 are progressing very slowly;

S.  whereas Syria acceded to the Genocide Convention in 1955 and to the Torture Convention in 2004;

T.  whereas in its resolution of 27 October 2016 Parliament recalled that human rights abuses perpetrated by ISIS/Daesh include genocide;

U.  whereas several UN reports, including those by the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic, the Special Adviser of the UN Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide, the Special Adviser of the UN Secretary-General on the Responsibility to Protect, the Special Rapporteur on Minority Issues, and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, as well as NGO sources,, have stated that acts committed by all sides may constitute atrocity crimes and that war crimes were committed by all sides during the fight for Aleppo in December 2016;

V.  whereas the ICC has stated that there is a reasonable basis to believe that crimes against humanity under Article 7 of the Statute have been committed in Nigeria by Boko Haram, including murder and persecution;

W.  whereas hundreds of executions in Burundi since April 2015 have led a report by the UN Independent Investigation on Burundi to conclude that various persons in Burundi should be prosecuted for alleged crimes against humanity;

X.  whereas civil society organisations, international lawyers and NGOs have warned that events which occurred in Burundi at the end of 2016 could amount to genocide;

Y.  whereas the international rules on war crimes and crimes against humanity are binding also on non-state actors or persons acting on behalf or in the framework of non-state organisations; whereas this should be reaffirmed even more today, when non-state actors are more and more present in war scenarios and promote and commit such serious crimes;

Z.  whereas under certain conditions, states can also be held accountable for breaches of obligations under international treaties and conventions over which the International Court of Justice has jurisdiction, including the 1984 Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide;

AA.  whereas the International Court of Justice has the ability to establish state liability;

AB.  whereas, with the intention of intimidating and humiliating the enemy, rape and sexual violence are used by all parties in conflict as a tactic of war; whereas, moreover, during conflict gender violence and sexual abuse also increase dramatically;

AC.  whereas violence against women, both during conflict and post-conflict, can be seen as part of a continuum extending from the discrimination women experience in non-conflict times; whereas conflict exacerbates pre-existing patterns of discrimination based on sex as well as historically unequal power-relations between genders, and puts women and girls at heightened risk of sexual, physical and psychological violence;

1.  Recalls the EUʼs commitment to act on the international scene in the name of the principles that inspired its creation, including democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights, and in favour of the principles of the UN Charter and international law; reaffirms, in this context, that it should be of paramount importance for the EU to address and hold accountable those responsible for severe violations of human rights reaching the gravity threshold of crimes against humanity and genocide and grave breaches of international humanitarian law reaching the level of war crimes;

2.  Calls for the EU and its Member States to use all their political weight to prevent any act that could be considered a crime of atrocity from taking place, to respond in an efficient and coordinated manner in cases where such crimes occur and, to mobilise all necessary resources to bring to justice all those responsible, as well as to assist the victims and support stabilisation and reconciliation processes;

On the need to focus on the prevention of atrocity crimes

3.  Urges the Contracting Parties to the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide of 1948, the four Geneva Conventions of 1949, the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment of 1984 and to other relevant international agreements, including the EU Member States, to take all necessary action to prevent atrocity crimes within their territory, under their jurisdiction or committed by their citizens, as they have committed to doing; calls on all states that have not yet ratified the above conventions to do so;

4.  Emphasises the urgent need for the international community to step up its efforts to monitor and respond to any conflict or potential conflict that might lead to any act that could be considered an atrocity crime;

5.  Calls on the international community to establish instruments that can minimise the warning response gap in order to prevent the emergence, re-emergence and escalation of violent conflict, such as the EU’s early warning system;

6.  Calls for the EU to step up its efforts to develop a coherent and efficient approach to identifying and responding in a timely fashion to crisis or conflict situations that might lead to an atrocity crime being committed; underlines, in particular, the importance and necessity of the effective exchange of information and coordination of preventive actions between EU institutions, including EU delegations, common security and defence policy (CSDP) missions and operations and Member States, together with their diplomatic representations; welcomes, in this context, the Commission’s new initiative of a White Paper which would lead to a more effective external action of the EU; underlines the importance of post-conflict civilian missions and operations under the CSDP in order to support reconciliation in third countries, especially when these have been the scene of crimes against humanity;

7.  Considers that the EU should integrate into its comprehensive approach to external conflicts and crises the necessary tools for identifying and preventing any atrocity crime at an early stage; draws attention in this context to the Framework of Analysis for Atrocity Crimes drafted by the UN Office of the Special Advisers on the Prevention of Genocide and on the Responsibility to Protect; considers that the EU and its Member States should always adopt a strong stance in cases where crimes appear imminent and should use all peaceful instruments at their disposal, such as bilateral relations, multilateral fora and public diplomacy;

8.  Urges the VP/HR: to continue the cooperation with and training of the staff of the EU delegations and Member States’ embassies, as well as of civilian and military missions, in the fields of international human rights, humanitarian law and criminal law, including the capacity to detect potential situations involving war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide and grave violations of international humanitarian law (IHL), inter alia by regular exchanges with local civil society; to ensure that EU Special Representatives uphold the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) whenever necessary and broaden the mandate of the EU Special Representative on Human Rights to include R2P issues; to further support the EU Focal Point for R2P in the European External Action Service (EEAS) in the context of the existing structures and resources, with it being tasked notably with raising awareness of the implications of R2P and ensuring timely information flows between all concerned actors over situations of concern, while also encouraging the establishment of national focal points for R2P in the Member States; and to further professionalise and strengthen preventive diplomacy and mediation;

9.  Emphasises the need for countries and regions at risk of conflict to have skilled and trustworthy security forces; calls for further efforts from the EU and the Member States to develop capacity-building programmes for the security sector, as well as platforms to promote a culture of respect for human rights and for the constitution, of integrity and of public service among local security and military forces;

10.  Stresses that addressing the root causes of violence and conflict, contributing to creating peaceful and democratic conditions, ensuring respect for human rights, including the protection of women, young people and minors, minorities and the LGBTI community, together with promoting interreligious and intercultural dialogue, are crucial to preventing genocide and crimes against humanity;

11.  Calls for the development, at international, regional and national levels, of educational and cultural programmes promoting an understanding of the causes and consequences of atrocity crimes for humankind and raising awareness of the necessity and importance of nurturing peace, promoting human rights and interreligious tolerance, and prosecuting and investigating all such crimes; welcomes, in this context, the organisation of the first annual EU Day against Impunity for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes;

On supporting the investigation and prosecution of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes

12.  Reiterates its full support for the ICC, the Rome Statute, the Office of Prosecutor, the Prosecutor’s proprio motu powers, and the progress made in initiating new investigations as an essential means of fighting impunity for atrocity crimes;

13.  Welcomes the meeting that took place on 6 July 2016 between EU and ICC representatives in Brussels in preparation for the 2nd EU-ICC round table meeting, held to allow relevant staff at the ICC and in the European institutions to identify common areas of interest, exchange information on relevant activities and ensure better cooperation between the EU and the ICC;

14.  Reaffirms that maintaining the independence of the ICC is crucial not only to ensure that it is fully effective, but also to promote the universality of the Rome Statute;

15.  Cautions that the execution of justice cannot rest on a balancing act between justice and any kind of political consideration, as such balance would not foster reconciliation efforts but diminish them;

16.  Reaffirms the paramount importance of universal adherence to the Rome Statute of the ICC; calls on the states which have not yet done so to ratify the Rome Statute, the Agreement on Privileges and Immunities of the Court and the Kampala amendments to the Rome Statute, in order to support accountability and reconciliation as key elements in preventing future atrocities; reaffirms, equally, the crucial importance of the integrity of the Rome Statute;

17.  Notes with the utmost regret the recent announcements of withdrawal from the Rome Statute, which represent a challenge notably in terms of victims’ access to justice and which should be firmly condemned; welcomes the fact that both Gambia and South Africa have retracted their withdrawal notifications; strongly calls on the remaining country concerned to reconsider its decision; further calls on the EU to make all necessary efforts to ensure that no withdrawals take place, including through cooperation with the African Union; welcomes the fact that the ICC’s Assembly of States Parties has agreed to consider proposed amendments to the Rome Statute in order to address the African Union’s concerns raised during its special summit;

18.  Calls on the four signatory states which have informed the UN Secretary-General that they no longer intend to become parties to the Rome Statute to reconsider their decisions; notes, moreover, that three of the permanent members of the UN Security Council are not parties to the Rome Statute;

19.  Calls, furthermore, on all ICC States Parties to step up their efforts to promote universal accession to the ICC and the Agreement on Privileges and Immunities of the Court; considers that the Commission and the EEAS, together with the Member States, should continue to encourage third countries to ratify and implement the Rome Statute and the Agreement on Privileges and Immunities of the Court, and should also conduct an assessment of the EU’s achievements in this regard;

20.  Underlines the importance of ensuring sufficient financial contributions to the Court for its effective functioning, either in the form of States Parties’ contributions or through EU funding mechanisms such as the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR) or the European Development Fund (EDF), with particular attention being paid to funding for civil society actors working on promoting the international criminal justice system and ICC-related issues;

21.  Welcomes the invaluable assistance provided by civil society organisations (CSOs) to the Court; is concerned at the reports of threats and intimidation directed at certain CSOs cooperating with the Court; calls for all necessary action to be taken to ensure a safe environment for CSOs to operate and cooperate with the Court and to address all threats and intimidation directed at them in that regard;

22.  Takes note of the progress made in the implementation of the Action Plan of 12 July 2011 to follow up on the Council decision of 21 March 2011 on the ICC; calls for an evaluation of the implementation of the Action Plan in order to identify possible areas in which the effectiveness of EU action could be improved, including when it comes to promoting the integrity and the independence of the Court;

23.  Urges all states having ratified the Rome Statute to fully cooperate with the ICC in its efforts to investigate and bring to justice those responsible for serious international crimes, to respect the authority of the ICC and to fully implement its decisions;

24.  Strongly encourages the EU and its Member States to use all political and diplomatic tools at their disposal to support effective cooperation with the ICC, especially in relation to witness protection programmes and the execution of pending arrest warrants, with particular regard to the 13 suspects who are fugitives; calls on the Commission, the EEAS and the Council to agree on the adoption of concrete measures for responding to non-cooperation with the ICC, in addition to political statements;

25.  Calls for the EU and its Member States to use all means towards third countries, including considering sanctions – in particular in the case of countries with situations under investigation by the ICC and countries under preliminary examination by the ICC – in order to bolster their political will to fully cooperate and to support their capacity to launch national proceedings on atrocity crimes; also calls on the EU and its Member States to offer full support to those countries in order to help them comply with the ICC requirements; calls on the Member States to fully comply with the Council Common Position 2008/944/CFSP of 8 December 2008;

26.  Considers that victims of atrocity crimes should be provided with access to effective and enforceable remedies and reparations; highlights the special role of victims and witnesses in proceedings before the Court and the need for specific measures aimed at ensuring their security and effective participation in accordance with the Rome Statute; calls on the EU and its Member States to keep victims’ rights at the heart of all actions in the fight against impunity and to voluntarily participate in the ICC Trust Fund for Victims;

27.  Calls on the EEAS to ensure that accountability for atrocity crimes and support for the ICC is mainstreamed across the EU’s foreign policy priorities, including via the enlargement process, by systematically taking account of the fight against impunity; underlines, in this context, the important role of parliamentarians in promoting the ICC and the fight against impunity, including through interparliamentary cooperation;

28.  Calls on the Member States to ensure that coordination and cooperation with the ICC is included in the mandate of the relevant regional EU Special Representatives (EUSRs); reiterates its call on the VP/HR to appoint an EUSR on International Humanitarian Law and International Justice with a mandate to promote, mainstream and represent the EU’s commitment to the fight against impunity and to the ICC across EU foreign policies;

29.  Highlights the essential role of the European Parliament in monitoring EU action in this matter; welcomes the insertion of a section on the fight against impunity and the ICC in Parliament’s annual report on human rights and democracy in the world, and further suggests that Parliament should play a more proactive role by promoting and mainstreaming the fight against impunity and the ICC in all EU policies and institutions, in particular in the work of its committees responsible for external policies of the Union and its delegations for relations with third countries;

30.  Stresses that the principle of complementarity of the ICC entails the primary responsibility of its States Parties to investigate and prosecute atrocity crimes; expresses its concern that not all EU Member States have legislation defining those crimes under national law over which their courts can exercise jurisdiction; calls for the EU and its Member States to make full use of the ‘Advancing the principle of complementarity’ toolkit;

31.  Encourages Member States to amend Article 83 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union in order to add atrocity crimes to the list of crimes for which the EU has competences;

32.  Strongly encourages the EU to prepare and provide resources for the preparation of an Action Plan on the Fight against Impunity within Europe for crimes falling under international law, with clear benchmarks for the EU institutions and the Member States aiming to strengthen national investigations and prosecutions for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes;

33.  Recalls that states, including EU Member States, can individually bring proceedings against other states to the International Court of Justice over breaches at state level of obligations arising from international treaties and conventions, including the 1984 Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide;

34.  Recalls its strong condemnation of the atrocities committed by the Assad regime in Syria, which can be considered as serious war crimes and crimes against humanity, and deplores the climate of impunity for perpetrators of such crimes in Syria;

35.  Deplores the widespread lack of respect for international humanitarian law and the alarming rate of loss of civilian lives and attacks against civilian infrastructure in armed conflicts around the world; urges the international community to convene an international conference to prepare a new international mechanism for tracking and collecting data, and for publicly reporting on violations in the course of armed conflicts; reiterates its request to the VP/HR to present, on an annual basis, a public list of alleged perpetrators of attacks on schools and hospitals, for the purpose of defining appropriate EU action to halt such attacks;

36.  Calls on the Member States to ratify the principal IHL instruments and other relevant legal instruments; acknowledges the importance of the EU Guidelines on promoting compliance with IHL, and reiterates its call on the VP/HR and the EEAS to step up their implementation, notably in relation to war crimes in the Middle East; calls on the EU to support initiatives aiming at spreading knowledge of IHL and good practices in its application, and calls on the EU to seize all bilateral tools at its disposal effectively in order to promote compliance with IHL by its partners, including through political dialogue;

37.  Stresses that Member States should refuse to provide arms, equipment or financial or political support for governments or non-state actors violating international humanitarian law, including by committing rape or other sexual violence against women and children;

38.  Calls, furthermore, for the EU and its Member States to support reform processes and national capacity-building efforts aimed at strengthening the independence of the judiciary, the law enforcement sector, the penitentiary system and reparation programmes in third countries directly affected by the alleged commission of such crimes, as committed to in the EU Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy 2015-2019; welcomes, in this context, the EU’s Framework on Support to Transitional Justice 2015, and looks forward to its effective implementation;

On the fight against impunity of non-state actors

39.  Notes that international criminal law, and particularly the mandate and jurisprudence of the international criminal tribunals, have clearly defined the responsibility of individuals who are members of non-state groups in international crimes; stresses that this responsibility relates not only to such individuals but also to indirect co-perpetrators of international crimes; encourages all EU Member States to bring to justice state actors, non-state actors and individuals responsible for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide;

40.  Emphasizes that the perpetration of violent crimes by ISIS/Daesh or other non-state actors against women and girls has been widely reported by the relevant international bodies, notes that the international legal community has been struggling to place those crimes within the international criminal framework;

41.  Reaffirms, in this context, its strong condemnation of the heinous crimes and human rights violations committed by non-state actors such as Boko Haram in Nigeria and ISIS/Daesh in Syria and Iraq; is horrified at the vast range of crimes committed, including killings, torture, rape, enslavement and sexual slavery, recruitment of child soldiers, forced religious conversions and systematic killings directed at religious minorities, including Christians, Yazidis and others; recalls that sexual violence can, according to the ICC, amount to a war crime and a crime against humanity; believes that the prosecution of the perpetrators should be a priority for the international community;

42.  Encourages the EU and its Member States to fight against impunity and to lend active support to international efforts to bring to justice members of non-state groups such as Boko Haram, ISIS/Daesh and any other actors committing crimes against humanity; calls for the development of a clear approach to the prosecution of ISIS/Daesh fighters and their abettors, including by using the expertise of the EU network for investigation and prosecution of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes;

43.  Emphasises that the EU and its Member States should support the prosecution of members of non-state groups such as ISIS/Daesh by seeking a consensus within the UN Security Council to confer jurisdiction to the ICC, as Syria and Iraq are not parties to the Rome Statute; underlines that the EU should explore and support, at international level and through all means, options to investigate and prosecute all crimes committed by all parties to the Syrian conflict, including ISIS/Daesh, such as the establishment of an International Criminal Tribunal for Iraq and Syria;

44.  Deplores the veto exercised by Russia and China as Permanent Members of the UN Security Council against referral of the situation in Syria to the ICC Prosecutor under Chapter VII of the UN Charter and against adoption of a measure to punish Syria for using chemical weapons; calls for the EU to support swift action to reform the functioning of the UN Security Council, notably as regards the use of the right of veto, and, particularly, the French initiative to refrain from using that right when evidence of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity occurs;

45.  Encourages an eventual call for the application of the principles defined in Chapter VII of the UN Charter with a view to compliance with the R2P principle, always under the auspices of the international community and with the authorisation of the UN Security Council;

46.  Welcomes the Commission of Inquiry on Syria set up by the Human Rights Council and the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism (IIIM) set up by the UN General Assembly to assist in the investigation of serious crimes committed in Syria; emphasises the need to set up a similar independent mechanism in Iraq, and calls on all EU Member States, all parties to the conflict in Syria, civil society and the UN system as a whole to cooperate fully with the IIIM and provide it with all information and documentation that they might possess to assist in the delivery of its mandate; thanks those EU Member States which have contributed financially to the IIIM, and calls on those who have not to do so;

47.  Calls for the EU to adequately fund organisations that work on open source investigation and digital collection of evidence with regard to war crimes and crimes against humanity, in order to ensure accountability and bring perpetrators to justice;

48.  Welcomes the EUʼs efforts to support the work of the Commission for International Justice and Accountability and of other NGOs that are documenting atrocity crimes; calls for the EU to provide direct support to Iraqi and Syrian civil society in gathering, preserving and protecting evidence of crimes committed in Iraq and Syria by any party to these conflicts, including ISIS/Daesh; calls for the collection and preservation of evidence, digital and otherwise, on war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide committed by all sides to the conflict as a key step in the fight against impunity and a fundamental priority; supports the British, Belgian and Iraqi initiative at UN level (the ‘Bringing Daesh to Justice Coalition’), aimed at gathering evidence of the crimes committed by ISIS/Daesh in Syria and Iraq in order to facilitate their prosecution internationally, and calls on the EU Member States to join or support the coalition; further supports the activities of the Cultural Heritage Initiative and its fact-finding activities in Syria and Iraq related to the destruction of archaeological and cultural heritage;

49.  Encourages the EU and its Member States to deploy all necessary actions to effectively sever the flow to ISIS/Daesh of resources ranging from guns, vehicles and cash revenues to many other types of assets;

50.  Urges the EU to impose sanctions on those countries or authorities that directly or indirectly facilitate the flow of resources to ISIS/Daesh and thus contribute to the development of its terrorist criminal activity;

51.  Emphasises that EU Member States should investigate all allegations and prosecute nationals of theirs and people under their jurisdiction who have committed, attempted to commit, or were complicit in atrocity crimes in Iraq and Syria or else refer them to the ICC in line with the Rome Statute; recalls, however, that prosecuting ISIS/Daesh members in the Member States can only be a complementary measure to international justice;

52.  Underlines the importance of the Cooperation and Assistance Agreement between the EU and the ICC; calls on the Member States to apply the principle of universal jurisdiction in tackling impunity, and highlights its importance for the effectiveness and good functioning of the international criminal justice system; also calls on the Member States to prosecute war crimes and crimes against humanity in their national jurisdictions, including when those crimes have been committed in third countries or by third-country nationals;

53.  Urges all the countries of the international community, including the EU Member States, to work actively on preventing and fighting radicalisation and to improve their legal and jurisdictional systems in order to avoid their nationals and residents joining ISIS/Daesh;

Gender dimension in addressing human rights violations in the context of war crimes

54.  Highlights the critical need to eradicate sexual and gender-based violence by addressing their widespread and systematic use as a weapon of war against women and girls; urges all countries to develop national action programmes (NAPAs) in line with UN Security Council Resolution 1325, together with strategies to combat violence against women, and calls for a comprehensive commitment to ensure the implementation of that resolution; calls for a global commitment to ensure the safety of women and girls from the outset of each emergency or crisis and in post-conflict situations through all available means, such as access to the full range of sexual and reproductive health services, including legal and safe abortion, for victims of rape in a war context; underlines, moreover, that women often continue to suffer the physical, psychological and socio-economic consequences of violence even after the end of a conflict;

55.  Considers that women should play a greater role in conflict prevention, human rights promotion and democratic reform, and stresses the importance of the systematic participation of women as an essential element of any peace process and post-conflict reconstruction; encourages the EU and its Member States to foster the inclusion of women in peace processes and national reconciliation processes;

56.  Calls on the Commission, the Member States and the competent international authorities to take appropriate measures such as enforcing military disciplinary measures, upholding the principle of command responsibility, and training troops and peacekeeping and humanitarian staff on the prohibition of all forms of sexual violence;

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57.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the Council, the Commission, the EU Special Representative for Human Rights, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, the UN Secretary-General, the President of the UN General Assembly and the governments of the UN member states.

(1) OJ L 155, 12.6.2001, p. 19.
(2) OJ L 167, 26.6.2002, p. 1.
(3) OJ L 118, 14.5.2003, p. 12.
(4) OJ L 150, 18.6.2003, p. 67.
(5) OJ L 115, 28.4.2006, p. 49.
(6) OJ L 76, 22.3.2011, p. 56.
(7) OJ C 153 E, 31.5.2013, p. 115.
(8) OJ C 224, 21.6.2016, p. 31.
(9) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0344.
(10) OJ C 224, 21.6.2016, p. 10.
(11) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0459.
(12) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0449.
(13) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0422.
(14) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0051.
(15) OJ C 407, 4.11.2016, p. 61.


Private Security Companies
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European Parliament resolution of 4 July 2017 on private security companies (2016/2238(INI))
P8_TA(2017)0289A8-0191/2017

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Montreux document on pertinent international legal obligations and good practices for States related to operations of private military and security companies during armed conflict,

–  having regard to resolutions 15/26, 22/33, 28/7 and 30/6 of the UN Human Rights Council,

–  having regard to the UN Working Group on the use of mercenaries as a means of violating human rights and impeding the exercise of the rights of peoples to self-determination, which was established in July 2005,

–  having regard to the reports of the open-ended intergovernmental working group to consider the possibility of elaborating an international regulatory framework on the regulation, monitoring and oversight of the activities of private military and security companies,

–  having regard to the UN Guidelines on the Use of Armed Security Services from Private Security Companies, which have recently been extended to unarmed security services,

–  having regard to the UN Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials,

–  having regard to the draft of a possible Convention on Private Military and Security Companies (PMSCs) for consideration and action by the Human Rights Council,

–  having regard to the International Code of Conduct for Private Security Providers (ICoC) established by the International Code of Conduct Association, which is an industry self-regulation mechanism whose standards are voluntary,

–  having regard to the International Stability Operations Association Code of Conduct, which is an industry-owned self-regulatory mechanism,

–  having regard to the Code of Conduct and Ethics for the Private Security Sector of the Confederation of European Security Services and UNI Europa,

–  having regard to the ISO 18788 Management System for Private Security Operations, which sets parameters for the management of private security companies,

–  having regard to the Council Recommendation of 13 June 2002 on cooperation between the competent national authorities of Member States responsible for the private security sector,

–  having regard to Directive 2014/24/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 February 2014 on public procurement and repealing Directive 2004/18/EC(1),

–  having regard to Directive 2009/81/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 13 July 2009 on the coordination of procedures for the award of certain works contracts, supply contracts and service contracts by contracting authorities or entities in the fields of defence and security, and amending Directives 2004/17/EC and 2004/18/EC(2),

–  having regard to the EU Concept for Logistic Support for EU-led Military Operations and the EU Concept for Contractor Support to EU-led Military Operations,

–  having regard to the Priv-War Recommendations for EU Regulatory Action in the Field of Private Military and Security Companies and their Services,

–  having regard to its resolution of 8 October 2013 on corruption in the public and private sectors: the impact on human rights in third countries(3) and its resolution of 6 February 2013 on Corporate Social Responsibility: promoting society’s interests and a route to sustainable and inclusive recovery(4),

–  having regard to the many different risks, challenges and threats within and outside the European Union,

–  having regard to the Interim Guidance of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) in May 2012 relating to armed security personnel on board ships,

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Foreign Affairs (A8-0191/2017),

A.  whereas security and defence are public goods managed by public authorities on the basis of the criteria of efficiency, effectiveness, accountability and the rule of law, which do not depend solely on the provision of sufficient financial resources, but also on knowledge; whereas in certain areas public authorities may lack the necessary capacities and capabilities;

B.   whereas security and defence should be primarily provided by the public authorities;

C.  whereas Eurobarometer polls show that the EU’s citizens want the EU to be more active in the field of security and defence;

D.  whereas more than 1,5 million private security contractors were employed in around 40 000 private security companies (PSCs) in Europe in 2013; whereas these figures are continuing to increase; whereas the turnover of these companies in that year amounted to around EUR 35 billion; whereas globally the private security industry was valued up to USD 200 billion in 2016 with around 100 000 PSCs and 3,5 million employees;

E.  whereas, over the last few decades, PSCs, a term which for the purposes of this resolution will also include private military companies, have been increasingly employed by national governments as well as militaries and civilian agencies, both for the domestic provision of services and support for overseas deployment;

F.  whereas the array of services provided by PSCs is extremely broad, ranging from logistical services to actual combat support, the provision of military technology and participation in post-conflict reconstruction; whereas PSCs also provide vital services inside Member States such as running prisons and providing patrol guards at infrastructure sites; whereas PSCs have been used in both civilian and military Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) missions, to guard EU delegations, for the construction of field camps, training, air lift and to support humanitarian aid activities;

G.  whereas, in the context of the EU, Member State practices on the use of PSCs, the procedures for contracting them and the quality of regulatory systems vary widely, with many using them to support their contingents in multilateral operations;

H.  whereas the outsourcing of military activities, formerly an integral part of the activities of armed forces, is taking place, among other things, to provide services in a more cost-efficient manner, but also to compensate for a shortfall in capabilities in shrinking armed forces in the context of an increasing number of multilateral missions abroad and shrinking budgets, the result of an unwillingness of decision-makers to commit appropriate resources; whereas this should be an exception; whereas there is a need to address shortfalls; whereas PSCs can also provide capabilities that are entirely lacking in national armed forces, often at short notice and in a complementary manner; whereas PSCs have also been used for reasons of political convenience to avoid limitations on the use of troops, notably to overcome a possible lack of public support for the engagement of armed forces; whereas the use of PSCs as a foreign policy tool needs to be subject to effective parliamentary control;

I.  whereas PSCs have been accused of engaging in a number of human rights violations and incidents resulting in loss of life; whereas such incidents vary across time and country, and amount in some cases to serious violations of international humanitarian law, including war crimes; whereas some of these cases have been prosecuted; whereas this, together with their lack of transparency, has had repercussions on the efforts of the international community in the countries in question and has revealed considerable gaps in accountability structures due, among other things, to the creation of numerous layers of subsidiaries or subcontracts in diverse countries, in particular local ones which leads, in some cases, to an inability to guarantee the basic security of the civilian population in host countries;

J.  whereas the EU and its Member States should aim to avoid such situations in the future, and refrain from outsourcing military operations that involve the use of force and weaponry, participating in hostilities and otherwise engaging in combat or combat areas, beyond legitimate self-defence; whereas operations and activities outsourced to PSCs in conflict areas should be restricted to providing logistical support and the protection of installations, without an actual presence of PSCs in the areas where combat activities exist; whereas under no circumstances can the use of PSCs be a substitute for national armed forces personnel; whereas the highest priority should be accorded, when implementing defence policies, to ensuring that the armed forces of the Member States have sufficient resources, instruments, training, knowledge and means with which to perform their tasks fully;

K.  whereas, for states to benefit from the advantages offered by PSCs, and to ensure that they can be held accountable, a legal framework with binding regulatory and monitoring mechanisms should be put in place at international level to regulate their use and provide sufficient control over their activities; whereas PSCs are part of an industry which is highly transnational in nature and is intertwined with governmental and intergovernmental actors and as such requires a global approach to regulation; whereas the current regulatory situation in this sector comprises a series of inconsistent rules which vary enormously between the Member States; whereas the non-homogenous national legislation and self-regulation adopted by some PSCs provide a weak deterrent to prevent abuse, given the lack of penalties, and can have a major impact on how PSCs operate in multilateral interventions and conflict regions;

L.  whereas there is a lack of agreed definitions of PSCs, PMCs and of their services; whereas, as suggested by the definition included in the draft convention prepared by the UN Working Group on Mercenaries, a PSC can be defined as a corporate entity which provides on a compensatory basis military and/or security services by physical persons and/or legal entities; whereas military services in this context can be defined as specialised services related to military actions including strategic planning, intelligence, investigation, land, sea or air reconnaissance, flight operations of any type, manned or unmanned, satellite surveillance and intelligence, any kind of knowledge transfer with military applications, material and technical support to armed forces and other related activities; whereas security services can be defined as armed guarding or protection of buildings, installations, property and people, any kind of knowledge transfer with security and policing applications, development and implementation of informational security measures and other related activities;

M.  whereas the Montreux document is the first major document defining how international law applies to PSCs; whereas the International Code of Conduct for Private Security Service Providers (ICoC) defines industry standards and is increasingly proving to be a tool for ensuring common basic standards across a global industry; whereas the International Code of Conduct for Private Security Providers’ Association (ICoCA) has the aim of promoting, managing and supervising the implementation of the ICoC and encouraging the responsible provision of security services and respect for human rights and national and international law; whereas affiliation to ICoCA is brought about by a voluntary act, accompanied by a payment, and the high membership charges do not permit all private security companies to become members;

N.  whereas the work on regulating PSCs is ongoing in many international fora, including the Montreux Document Forum, where the EU was elected into the Group of Friends of the Chair, the open-ended intergovernmental working group to consider the possibility of elaborating an international regulatory framework on the regulation, monitoring and oversight of the activities of private military and security companies, and the International Code of Conduct Association;

O.  whereas the EU and 23 Member States have joined the Montreux document and whereas the EU is a member of the Working Group on the International Code of Conduct Association; whereas the EU contributes in the context of the Human Rights Council to the possible development of an international regulatory framework; whereas the EU plays a critical role in promoting national and regional control over the provision and export of various military and security services;

P.  whereas the European Union does not have a regulatory framework of its own, despite the large number of PSCs of European origin and/or involved in missions and operations under the CSDP or EU delegations; whereas the existing regulatory frameworks are almost exclusively based on the American model, established during the Iraq war, which served the interests of military companies engaged in combat missions; whereas these references correspond neither to the format nor to the missions of European PSCs;

Q.  whereas it is of vital importance to prioritise the establishment of clear rules for interaction, cooperation and assistance between law enforcement and private security companies;

R.  whereas PSCs could play a more important role in the fight against piracy and in improving maritime security, in missions involving dogs, cyber defence, research and development of security tools, mixed surveillance missions and training in cooperation with, and under the supervision of, public authorities; whereas the use of armed PSCs has created specific challenges for the maritime sector and has resulted in numerous incidents which have led to the loss of life and diplomatic conflicts;

The use of PSCs in support of the military abroad

1.  Notes that PSCs play an important complementary role in aiding the state’s military and civilian agencies by closing capability gaps created by increasing demand for the use of forces abroad, while also occasionally, if circumstances allow, providing surge capacity; stresses that, in exceptional cases, PSCs’ services fill existing capacity gaps, which, however, Member States should first try to fill with national armed forces or police; stresses that PSCs are used as an instrument for the implementation of the foreign policy of those countries;

2.  Underscores the need for PSCs, when operating in host countries and particularly those that significantly differ in terms of culture and religion, to be mindful of local customs and habits in order not to jeopardise the effectiveness of their mission and alienate the local population;

3.  Notes that, compared to national troops, PSCs – particularly those based in host countries – can provide valuable local knowledge and, frequently, cost savings, although it must be ensured that quality is not undermined; stresses, however, that the use of services provided by local private security companies in fragile countries and crisis-prone regions can have negative implications for the EU’s foreign policy objectives if such use strengthens certain local armed actors who could become party to the conflict; notes the importance of drawing clear legal distinctions between the operations of private security companies and private actors directly engaged in military activities;

4.  Stresses that no activities should be outsourced to PSCs that would imply the use of force and/or active participation in hostilities, except for self-defence, and under no circumstances should PSCs be allowed to take part in, or conduct interrogations; stresses that, in the field of EU security and defence, the priority should be to strengthen national armed forces, to which PSC can only be a complement without any authority over strategic decisions; highlights the fact that any participation by private security companies in military operations must be justified, with clearly-defined objectives that can be verified using tangible indicators, have a fully-detailed budget and a specific start and end date, and be governed by a strict code of ethics; points out that the work of the armed forces and security forces abroad is of fundamental value in peace-keeping and conflict prevention, as well as in the social reconstruction and national reconciliation that follows;

5.  Underlines that the cost-effectiveness principle of PSC employment mainly offers benefits in the short-term, especially if a number of socioeconomic variables are not taken into consideration, and should therefore not become the main criterion when dealing with security issues; recalls that accountability and oversight mechanisms are crucial in order to ensure that the legitimacy and potential benefits of PSCs are fully obtained;

6.  Underlines the importance of parliamentary oversight over the state use of PSCs by Member States;

Use of PSCs by the EU

7.  Notes that the EU makes use of PSCs abroad to guard its delegations and staff and to support its civilian and military CSDP missions; notes that their use thus directly contributes to the EU’s reputation and perception by third parties, which makes them important facets of the EU’s local presence and impacts on the level of trust in the EU; demands that the Commission and the Council produce an overview of where, when and for what reason PSCs have been employed in support of EU missions; considers that it would not be illogical if, in its calls for tender concerning the security of its delegations, the European Union favoured the use of PSCs genuinely based in Europe, complying with European Union regulations and subject to European Union taxation;

8.  Emphasises, however, that, particularly in conflict-prone environments, employing a PSC for certain duties can have negative side-effects for the EU, especially for its legitimacy, by accidentally associating it with armed actors in a conflict area, with negative repercussions in the case of armed incidents, or by possibly compromising Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration (DDR) and Security Sector Reform (SSR) efforts through the inadvertent strengthening of local actors; notes in particular the risks posed by uncontrolled sub-contracting, such as to local PSCs;

9.  Points to the various and serious legal and political problems associated with the current practice of subcontracting in the field of military and security services, especially services provided by local subcontractors in third countries; believes that the Member States, the EEAS and the Commission should agree to follow the example of NATO by only contracting PSCs based in EU Member States;

10.  Recommends, therefore, that the Commission propose common PSC contracting guidelines for the hire, use and management of military and security contractors which clearly spell out the requirements for PSCs to qualify for EU contracts, with the goal of replacing the current patchwork of approaches; urges the Commission and the EEAS to use the same guidelines for the hire, use and management of military and security contractors in all external actions, missions and operations, for EU Delegations across all countries and regions and for all services of a revised Common Military List of the European Union; considers that these guidelines should be based both on international best practices in relation to PSC conduct and management, in particular the Montreux document and the ICoC, and take into account the need for particular care to be taken when selecting PSCs in a complex post-crisis context; urges the Commission and the EEAS to only use ICoC-certified providers, as is already done by the UN for whom ICoC is a requirement; points to the approach taken by US authorities which include detailed standards and requirements in each individual contract, and calls on the EU to follow this example; underlines that contracts with the PSCs should include inter alia clauses on the possession of licences and authorisations, personnel and property records, training, the lawful acquisition and use of weapons, and internal organisation;

11.  Calls for an EU security supervisor of an EU security company to be present at EU-funded sites and EU delegations with the tasks of ensuring the quality of the security services provided, vetting and training the locally hired security personnel, establishing and keeping up good relations with local security forces, providing risk assessments and being the first point of contact in security-related matters for the delegation;

12.  Recommends that the Commission establish an open list of contractors who comply with EU standards on matters such as clean criminal records, financial and economic capacity, possession of licences and authorisations, and the vetting of personnel; notes that standards across the EU regarding PSCs vary greatly and believes that Member States should strive to achieve similar standards; considers that this list should be updated at intervals not exceeding two years;

13.  Stresses that when the EU relies on PSCs in third countries with which it has concluded a status of forces agreement (SOFA), such agreements must always include the PSCs employed and specifically clarify that the companies will be held accountable under EU law;

14.  Stresses that the EU Concept for Contractors Support should be strengthened and made binding for Member States and EU institutions; believes that it should, in particular, specify stricter standards for inclusion in contracts, based for example on US standards, and that it should also require that no local PSC should be employed or subcontracted in conflict regions; stresses that international PSCs should have the possibility to hire local staff, but only individually and directly in order to ensure effective vetting and to prevent the creation of local security industries in conflict regions;

The regulation of PSCs

15.  Recommends that the Commission draw up a Green Paper with the objective of involving all stakeholders from the public and private security sectors in a broad consultation and discussion of processes to identify opportunities for direct collaboration more efficiently and to establish a basic set of rules of engagement and good practices; recommends the creation of sector-specific EU quality standards; recommends, therefore, that the definition of PSCs be clarified before effective regulation of their activities is introduced, as the lack of such a definition can create legislative loopholes;

16.  Believes that, as a first step, the EU should define relevant military and security services in a precise way; urges the Council, in this respect, to add military and security services by PSCs to the Common Military List of the European Union without delay;

17.  Urges the Commission to develop an effective European regulatory model which will:

   help to harmonise legal differences between Member States by means of a directive;
   re-evaluate, and thus redefine, contemporary public-private collaboration strategies;
   map companies with a single or multiple end use;
   contextualise the precise nature and role of private military and security companies;
   set high-level standards for private security service providers within the EU or operating abroad, including appropriate levels of security screening of staff and equitable remuneration;
   ensure reporting of PSCs’ irregularities and illegalities and make it possible to hold them accountable for violations, including human rights violations, during their activities abroad;
   integrate a specific maritime perspective, taking into account the leading role of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO);

18.  Notes that nascent global regulatory frameworks, such as the Montreux document, the ICoC and other regulatory initiatives in the UN framework, constitute clear progress compared to the lack of meaningful regulation that prevailed only ten years ago;

19.  Commends also the efforts made by many EU Member States, following the good practice outlined in the Montreux document, to introduce effective national regulation of PSCs;

20.  Notes, however, that the evaluation of the performance of PSCs is hampered by the lack of consistent reporting about their use by both the EU institutions and Member State governments; encourages Member States and the EU institutions to provide this information more consistently and in a transparent manner to allow for a proper assessment of the use of PSCs by their respective budgetary authorities and independent auditors; recommends that parliaments and NGOs should be actively engaged in the necessary evaluation processes that are crucial for the regulation and oversight of this industry;

21.  Recommends that the Commission and the Council establish a legal framework requiring national legislation to control the export of military and security services, and report in the EU Annual Report on armaments exports on military and security service export licences granted by the Member States, so as to increase public transparency and accountability;

22.  Stresses that the transnational nature of PSCs and, in particular, their activities in regions of the world affected by crisis can sometimes lead to jurisdictional gaps, particularly where the local legal structure is weak, that could make it difficult to hold the companies or their employees to account for their actions; notes that the national regulation of PSCs often does not have extraterritorial application; highlights the fact that PSCs must always be governed by laws and be subject to effective oversight by both the host state and the contracting state; observes that a legal vacuum frequently exists in the event of disputes or incidents involving PSCs and agents of the European Union, which may occur in high-risk areas; recommends therefore the establishment of uniform and clear rules for the European institutions which use PSCs to protect EU staff, assigning clear responsibility to avoid a protection gap and impunity and taking into account the host state’s legal framework; also urges the EEAS, the Commission and Member States to only contract EU-based PSCs in combination with the obligation to execute services directly without recourse to local subcontractors in often fragile third countries;

23.  Urges, therefore, that the EU and its Member States use their status in the Montreux Document Forum to insist upon regular reviews of the state of implementation of the Montreux Document's recommendations for good practice by its participants; urges the Member States that have not yet done so to join the Montreux document as soon as possible; encourages Member States to engage in sharing best practices;

24.  Urges the EU and its Member States to push for an international legally binding instrument that goes further than the Montreux document, by regulating the activities of PSCs, establishing a level playing field to ensure that host states have the authority to regulate PSCs and contracting states are able to use their power to protect human rights and prevent corruption; emphasises that such a framework must include dissuasive sanctions for violations, the accountability of those responsible for violations and effective access to remedies for victims, in addition to a licensing and monitoring system requiring all PSCs to submit to independent audits and their personnel to participate in mandatory human rights training;

25.  Urges the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the Member States, the EEAS and the Commission to strongly support the creation of an international convention aimed at establishing an international legal regime to regulate relevant services provided by PSCs;

26.  Commends the efforts of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) in providing guidelines for the use of private armed security teams; encourages the Commission and the Member States to continue to work with the IMO towards the global application of this guidance;

27.  Stresses that one of the most effective ways of influencing PSCs is through public procurement decisions; emphasises, therefore, the importance of making the award of contracts to PSCs conditional on the adoption of best practices, such as transparency, and their participation in the ICoC, which some Member States have already implemented; notes, however, that the ICoC compliance mechanism needs to be strengthened and its full independence assured to make it a credible incentive for compliance; notes that the only Member States to have signed up to the ICoC are Sweden and the UK and believes that the EU should focus on ensuring that other Member States sign up as a first step;

28.  Notes that PSCs should have a liability insurance as this would make the security market more stable and reliable, bringing in also smaller and medium-sized PSCs;

29.  Stresses that the award of contracts to PSCs should take into account and be evaluated on the basis of the PSC’s experience and period of working in hostile environments, rather than by turnover of a similar contract;

30.  Draws attention to the fact that PSCs, besides offering security services, also conduct intelligence activities that, due to their potential implications, require efficient regulation and control;

31.  Notes the considerable influence the EU and its Member States enjoy over the global security industry as a result of many major players having their headquarters in the EU; places particular emphasis, therefore, on the upcoming revision of the Common Military List as an opportunity to include certain services provided by PSCs, which would make them subject to export regulations and apply basic standards to their activities abroad;

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32.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the European Council, the Council, the Commission, the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, and the national parliaments of the Member States.

(1) OJ L 94, 28.3.2014, p. 65.
(2) OJ L 216, 20.8.2009, p. 76.
(3) OJ C 181, 19.5.2016, p. 2.
(4) OJ C 24, 22.1.2016, p. 33.


Working conditions and precarious employment
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European Parliament resolution of 4 July 2017 on working conditions and precarious employment (2016/2221(INI))
P8_TA(2017)0290A8-0224/2017

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), in particular Articles 151 and 153,

–  having regard to Article 5 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU),

–  having regard to the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, in particular its Title IV (Solidarity),

–  having regard to Council Directive 94/33/EC of 22 June 1994 on the protection of young people at work(1),

–  having regard to Directive 2006/54/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 5 July 2006 on the implementation of the principle of equal opportunities and equal treatment of men and women in matters of employment and occupation(2),

–  having regard to Directive 2008/104/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 19 November 2008 on temporary agency work(3) (the Temporary Agency Work Directive),

–  having regard to the targeted revision of Directive 96/71/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 December 1996 concerning the posting of workers in the framework of the provision of services(4) (the Posting of Workers Directive) and of Directive 2014/67/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 May 2014 on the enforcement of Directive 96/71/EC concerning the posting of workers in the framework of the provision of services(5) (the Enforcement Directive),

–  having regard to Regulation (EC) No 593/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 June 2008 on the law applicable to contractual obligations (Rome I)(6),

–  having regard to its resolution of 19 October 2010 on precarious women workers(7),

–  having regard to its resolution of 10 September 2015 on ‘Creating a competitive EU labour market for the 21st century: matching skills and qualifications with demand and job opportunities, as a way to recover from the crisis’(8),

–  having regard to its resolution of 25 February 2016 on ‘European Semester for economic policy coordination: Employment and Social Aspects in the Annual Growth’(9),

–  having regard to its resolution of 14 September 2016 on social dumping in the European Union(10),

–  having regard to its resolution of 15 September 2016 on the application of Council Directive 2000/78/EC of 27 November 2000 establishing a general framework for equal treatment in employment and occupation(11),

–  having regard to its resolution of 19 January 2017 on a European Pillar of Social Rights(12),

–  having regard to the opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee on the changing nature of employment relationships and its impact on the living wage(13),

–  having regard to the European Platform to enhance cooperation in tackling undeclared work,

–  having regard to the 2016 study prepared at request of Parliament’s Employment and Social Affairs Committee and entitled ‘Precarious Employment in Europe: Patterns, trends and policy strategies’(14),

–  having regard to the European Quality Charter on Internships and Apprenticeships launched on 14 December 2011,

–  having regard to the Commission’s Employment and Social Developments in Europe (ESDE) Quarterly Review for autumn 2016,

–  having regard to the Commission’s Strategic Engagement for Gender Equality 2016-2020,

–  having regard to the Eurofound report (2010) on ‘Flexible forms of work: “very atypical” contractual arrangements’,

–  having regards to the Eurofound report (2014) on ‘Impact of the crisis on industrial relations and working conditions in Europe’(15),

–  having regard to the Eurofound report (2015) on ‘New forms of employment(16),

–  having regard to the Eurofound report (2016) on ‘Exploring the fraudulent contracting of work in the European Union’(17),

–  having regard to the Eurofound European Working Conditions Survey and its Sixth European Working Conditions Survey – Overview report(18),

–  having regard to the Eurofound European Industrial Relations Dictionary(19),

–  having regard to the fundamental labour standards established by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and to its conventions and recommendations on working conditions,

–  having regard to the ILO’s Recommendation R198 of 2006 concerning the employment relationship (the Employment Relationship Recommendation)(20) and to its provisions on the determination of an employment relationship,

–  having regard to the ILO report of 2011 on policies and regulations to combat precarious employment(21),

–  having regard to the ILO report of 2016 on non-standard employment around the world(22),

–  having regard to the ILO report of 2016 on building a social pillar for European convergence(23),

–  having regard to the UN’s General Recommendation No 28 of 2010 on the Core Obligations of States Parties under Article 2 of the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women,

–  having regard to the 2011 Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (Istanbul Convention),

–  having regard to the Council of Europe’s Gender Equality Strategy 2014-2017,

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs and the opinions of the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development and the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality (A8-0224/2017),

A.  whereas non-standard, atypical forms of employment have been emerging; whereas the number of workers with fixed-term and part-time contracts has increased in the EU over the past 15 years; whereas efficient policies are needed to embrace the various forms of employment and adequately protect workers;

B.  whereas during the last 10 years standard employment has fallen from 62 % to 59 %(24); whereas if this trend continues it may well become the case that standard contracts will only apply to a minority of workers;

C.  whereas full-time, permanent contracts continue to account for the majority of employment contracts in the EU and in some sectors atypical forms of employment are also to be found alongside standard employment; whereas atypical employment can also have negative effects on work-life balance, due to non-standard working time as well as irregular wages and pension contributions;

D.  whereas the new forms of employment that are emerging, particularly in the context of digitalisation and the new technologies, are blurring the boundary between dependent employment and self-employment(25), which can cause a decline in the quality of employment;

E.  whereas some new forms of employment are different from traditional standard employment in a number of ways; whereas some are transforming the relationship between employer and employee, others are changing the working pattern and organisation of work, and others again are doing both; whereas this can cause a rise in bogus self-employment, a deterioration of working conditions and a reduction in social security protection, but can also bring advantages; whereas the implementation of existing legislation is therefore of paramount importance;

F.  whereas increases in employment rates in the Union since the economic crisis are to be welcomed, but can be partly attributed to an increase in the number of atypical contracts, creating in certain cases greater risk of precariousness than standard employment; whereas greater emphasis should be placed on quality in job creation;

G.  whereas part-time employment has at no moment declined since the crisis, and full-time employment at Union level is still below its 2008 pre-crisis level; whereas despite increases in recent years, the employment rate is still below the Europe 2020 target of 75 % and reveals large disparities among Member States;

H.  whereas it is important that a distinction is made between the new forms of employment that are emerging and the existence of precarious employment;

I.  whereas competence for social policy is shared by the European Union and the Member States; whereas the EU can only complement and support the Member States in this field;

J.  whereas the EU can only adopt minimum requirements for working conditions without harmonising the laws and regulations of the Member States;

K.  whereas a European Platform to tackle undeclared work has already been set up, enabling closer cross-border cooperation and joint action between the competent authorities of the Member States and other stakeholders in order to combat undeclared work effectively and efficiently;

L.  whereas precarious employment leads to market segmentation and exacerbates wages inequalities;

M.  whereas there is no common definition of precarious employment so far; whereas such a definition should be drawn up in close consultation with the social partners; whereas the type of contract cannot, on its own, presage the risk of precarious employment but, on the contrary, this risk depends on a wide range of factors;

N.  whereas standard employment can mean full-time and voluntary part-time regular employment on the basis of open-ended contracts; whereas each Member State has its own laws and practices establishing working conditions applicable to different types of employment contracts and internships; whereas there is no universally accepted definition of ‘standard employment’;

O.  whereas the most recent issues of representation, which are due to either weaknesses of the social partners’ organisations in certain sectors or to reforms in various European countries limiting social partners’ roles, impinge on all employment relationships;

P.  whereas some sectors such as agriculture, construction and arts are disproportionately affected by precarious employment; whereas precarious employment has also spread to other sectors in recent years such as aviation and the hotel industry(26);

Q.  whereas, according to recent studies, workers in mid-skilled manual and low-skilled occupations have less earnings, prospects and intrinsic job quality; whereas they report more frequent exposure to environmental and posture risks, with lower levels of both mental health and physical wellbeing(27);

R.  whereas women account for 46 % of the EU’s labour force and are particularly vulnerable to job insecurity resulting from discrimination, including in the area of pay, and whereas women earn around 16 % less than men in the EU; whereas women are more likely to work part-time or on time-limited or low-wage contracts and are therefore more at risk of precariousness; whereas such working conditions create lifelong losses in terms of income and protection, be it wages, pensions or social security benefits; whereas men are more likely to work on a full-time and permanent basis than women; whereas women are particularly affected by involuntary part-time work, bogus self-employment and undeclared work(28);

S.  whereas the employment rate in the EU is higher for men than for women; whereas the main reasons for women leaving the labour market are the need to care for children or elderly, their own illness or incapacity or other personal and family responsibilities; whereas women often face discrimination and hurdles in view of their existing or potential motherhood; whereas single women with dependent children face a particularly high risk of precariousness;

T.  whereas equality between men and women is a fundamental right that presupposes a guarantee of equal opportunities and equal treatment in all areas of life, and whereas policies aimed at ensuring such equality contribute to the promotion of smart and sustainable growth;

U.  whereas many workers who are in precarious employment or unemployed do not have the right to parental leave;

V.  whereas young workers are at a higher risk of finding themselves in a position of precarious employment; whereas the likelihood of being in a multiple disadvantaged position is twice as high for workers aged under 25 than for those aged 50 or more(29);

I.Towards decent work – addressing working conditions and precarious employment

1.  Calls on the Member States to take into account the following ILO indicators to determine the existence of an employment relationship:

   the work is carried out according to the instructions and under the control of another party;
   it involves the integration of the worker in the organisation of the enterprise;
   it is performed solely or mainly for the benefit of another person;
   it must be carried out personally by the worker;
   it is carried out within specific working hours or at a workplace specified or agreed by the party requesting the work;
   it is of a particular duration and has a certain continuity;
   it requires the worker’s availability or involves the provision of tools, materials and machinery by the party requesting the work;
   the worker is paid a periodic remuneration that constitutes his or her sole or principal source of income, and there may also be provision of payment in kind such as food, lodging or transport;
   the worker has entitlements such as weekly rest periods and annual holidays;

2.  Notes the Eurofound definition of atypical work, which refers to employment relationships not conforming to the standard or typical model of full-time, regular and open-ended employment with a single employer over a long time-span(30); stresses that the terms ‘atypical’ and ‘precarious’ cannot be used synonymously;

3.  Understands precarious employment to mean employment which does not comply with EU, international and national standards and laws and/or does not provide sufficient resources for a decent life or adequate social protection;

4.  Notes that some atypical forms of employment may entail greater risks of precariousness and insecurity, for example, involuntary part-time and fixed-term contract work, zero-hour contracts and unpaid internships and traineeships;

5.  Firmly believes that flexibility in the labour market is not about eroding workers’ rights in exchange for productivity and competitiveness, but is about successfully balancing workers’ protection with the opportunity for individuals and employers to agree ways of working that suit the needs of both;

6.  Notes that the risk of precariousness depends on the type of contract but also on the following factors:

   little or no job security owing to the non-permanent nature of the work, as in involuntary and often marginal part-time contracts, and, in some Member States, unclear working hours and duties that change owing to on-demand work;
   rudimentary protection from dismissal and lack of sufficient social protection in case of dismissal;
   insufficient remuneration for a decent living;
   no or limited social protection rights or benefits;
   no or limited protection against any form of discrimination;
   no or limited prospects for advancement in the labour market or career development and training;
   low level of collective rights and limited right to collective representation;
   a working environment that fails to meet minimum health and safety standards(31);

7.  Recalls the ILO definition of ‘decent work’, which states: ‘Decent work is work that is productive and delivers a fair income, with a safe workplace and social protection, better prospects for personal development and social integration, freedom for people to express their concerns, organise and participate in the decisions that affect their lives and equality of opportunity and treatment for all women and men’(32); encourages the ILO to add a living wage to that definition; encourages the Commission and the Member States to endorse this definition when reviewing or developing employment legislation;

8.  Recalls the success factors for good practice against precarious work, which are: a strong legal underpinning; involvement of social partners and works councils at the workplace; cooperation with relevant stakeholders; balancing flexibility and security; sectoral focus; low administrative burden for employers; enforcement by labour inspectorates; and awareness-raising campaigns;

9.  Notes that the ILO Decent Work Agenda is intended specifically to guarantee job creation, rights at work, social protection and social dialogue as well as gender equality; highlights that decent work should specifically provide:

   a living wage, also guaranteeing the right of freedom of association;
   collective agreements in line with Member States’ practices;
   workers’ participation in company matters in line with Member States’ practices;
   respect of collective bargaining;
   equal treatment of workers in the same workplace;
   workplace health and safety;
   social security protection for workers and their dependents;
   provisions on working and rest time;
   protection against dismissal;
   access to training and lifelong learning;
   support for work-life balance for all workers; stresses that to deliver on these rights it is also essential to improve the implementation of labour and social law;

10.  Notes that numerous factors, such as digitalisation and automation, are contributing to the transformation of the nature of work, including the rise in new forms of employment; notes in this regard that new forms of work might need new, responsive and proportionate regulation in order to ensure that all forms of employment are covered;

11.  Reiterates in the context of digital jobs that digital platform workers and other intermediaries should be guaranteed adequate social and health coverage and protection;

12.  Emphasises that digitalisation must not be seen simply as something that destroys jobs, and stresses, on the contrary, that it affords opportunities for the development and extension of individual skills;

13.  Highlights that there are projected to be 756 000 unfilled job vacancies in the ICT sector in 2020, thus showing the need to improve the digital skills of the European workforce;

14.  Stresses that the economic crisis has given rise to migratory flows within the EU that have highlighted existing barriers to the free movement of persons between Member States and discrimination on the basis of nationality, exposing EU citizens to a situation of job insecurity;

15.  Stresses that precarious employment conditions, including undeclared work and bogus self-employment, have a long-term effect on mental health and physical wellbeing and can place workers at greater risk of poverty, social exclusion and deterioration of their fundamental rights;

16.  Highlights that workers with very short contracts are those most exposed to adverse conditions in the physical aspects of their work; highlights that the combination of job insecurity and lack of control over working time often derives from stress-related occupational hazards;

17.  Stresses that in certain sectors of the economy, flexible or atypical labour relations are being overused to the point of abuse;

18.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to promote policies that empower workers, interns and apprentices by strengthening social dialogue and promoting collective bargaining, ensuring that all workers regardless of their status can access and exercise their right to associate and to bargain collectively, freely and without fear of direct or indirect sanctions by the employer;

19.  Stresses the importance of the social partners in safeguarding workers’ rights, defining decent working conditions, setting decent wages and incomes in accordance with Member States’ laws and practices, and providing consultation and guidance to employers and workers;

20.  Calls on the Member States, in close cooperation with the social partners, to shore up career pathways so as to make it easier for people to adapt to the different situations they may face in their lives, in particular via lifelong vocational training, adequate unemployment benefits, the transferability of social rights, and active, effective labour market policies;

21.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to promote and guarantee effective protection and equal pay for male and female workers who perform work in the context of an employment relationship, through a comprehensive policy response that aims to tackle precarious employment and guarantee career paths and proper social security coverage;

22.  Stresses the importance of Member States’ labour inspectorates, and underlines that they should focus on the goal of monitoring, ensuring compliance with and improving working conditions, workplace health and safety, and combating illegal or undeclared work, and must under no circumstances be abused so as to become migration control mechanisms; points out the risk of discrimination against the most vulnerable workers, and strongly condemns the practice of companies who employ migrants without securing them their full rights and benefits and informing them on the matter; calls, therefore, on the Member States to provide labour inspectorates with adequate resources to ensure effective monitoring;

II.Proposals

23.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to tackle precarious employment, including undeclared work and bogus self-employment, in order to ensure that all types of work contracts offer decent working conditions with proper social security coverage, in line with the ILO Decent Work Agenda, Article 9 TFEU, the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and the European Social Charter;

24.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to combat all practices which might lead to an increase of precarious employment, thereby contributing to the Europe 2020 target of reducing poverty;

25.  Calls on the Member States to increase job quality in non-standard jobs by providing, at the least, a set of minimum standards as regards social protection, minimum wage levels and access to training and development; stresses that this should be done while maintaining entry opportunities;

26.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to ensure that national social security systems are fit for purpose when it comes to new forms of employment;

27.  Calls on the Commission to assess new forms of employment driven by digitalisation; calls, especially, for an assessment of the legal status of labour market intermediaries and online platforms and of their liability; calls on the Commission to revise Council Directive 91/533/EEC of 14 October 1991 on an employer’s obligation to inform employees of the conditions applicable to the contract or employment relationship(33) (the ‘Written Statement Directive’) to take account of new forms of employment;

28.  Emphasises the potential that the collaborative economy has, in particular as regards new jobs; calls on the Commission and the Member States to assess the potential new employment norms created by the collaborative economy; strongly emphasises the need to increase the protection afforded to workers in this sector by stepping up transparency with regard to their status, the information they are given and non-discrimination;

29.  Calls for the Commission to proceed with its targeted review of the Posting of Workers Directive, and to review the Agency Workers Directive to ensure fundamental social rights for all workers, including equal pay for equal work at the same location;

30.  Underlines the need for public and private investment promoting in particular those sectors of the economy which promise the largest possible multiplier effect, in order to promote upward social convergence and cohesion in the Union and the creation of decent jobs; stresses in this context the need to support SMEs and start-ups;

31.  Stresses the need to tackle undeclared work, since it reduces tax and social security revenues and creates precarious and poor working conditions and unfair competition between workers; welcomes the creation of a European Platform to enhance cooperation in tackling undeclared work;

32.  Notes that given the number of workers, particularly young people, who are now leaving their countries of origin for other Member States in search of employment opportunities, there is an urgent need to develop appropriate measures to guarantee that no worker is left uncovered by social and labour rights protection; calls, in this regard, on the Commission and the Member States to further improve EU labour mobility while upholding the principle of equal treatment, safeguarding wages and social standards and guaranteeing full portability of social rights; calls on each Member State to establish social and employment policies for equal rights and equal pay at the same place of work;

33.  Notes with concern the weakening of collective bargaining and of the coverage of collective agreements; calls on the Commission and the Member States to promote strategic policies of universal coverage of workers under collective agreements, safeguarding and enhancing at the same time the role of trade unions and employers’ organisations;

34.  Recognises the major role played by social partners regarding the Union directives on part-time work, fixed-term contracts and temporary agency work, and encourages the Commission, in collaboration with the social partners, to regulate new forms of employment where appropriate; calls on Eurofound to study how social partners develop strategies to ensure job quality and tackle precarious employment;

35.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States, within their respective competences, to ensure that individual self-employed workers who are legally considered a sole- member company have the right to collective bargaining and to freely associate;

36.  Recalls that according to the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union and to Directive 2003/88/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 4 November 2003 concerning certain aspects of the organisation of working time(34) (the Working Time Directive), every worker has the right to limitation of maximum working hours, to daily and weekly rest periods and to an annual period of paid leave; stresses the need to ensure that those rights apply to all workers, including on-demand workers, workers in marginal part-time employment and crowd workers; recalls that the Working Time Directive is a health and safety measure; calls for the enforcement of the ECJ decisions confirming that on-call time in the workplace is working time and must be followed by compensatory rest;

37.  Recalls that marginal part-time employment is marked by lower levels of job security, fewer career opportunities, less investment in training by employers, and a higher share of low pay; calls on the Member States and the Commission to encourage measures supporting longer hours for those who want to work more;

38.  Recalls that according to the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, everyone has the right to access to vocational training and lifelong learning; calls on the Member States to ensure that vocational and continuing training are also available to workers in atypical employment relationships; recalls that upskilling measures are particularly important in a fast-changing digital economy; recalls that skills shortages and mismatches contribute to high unemployment levels; welcomes recent initiatives to tackle skills shortages;

39.  Calls for a Skills Guarantee as a new right for everyone, at every stage of life, to acquire fundamental skills for the 21st century, including literacy, numeracy, digital and media literacy, critical thinking, social skills and relevant skills needed for the green and circular economy, taking into account emerging industries and key growth sectors and ensuring full outreach to people in disadvantaged situations, including people with disabilities, asylum seekers, the long-term unemployed and other under-represented groups; stresses that education systems should be inclusive, providing good quality education to the whole population, enabling people to be active European citizens, preparing them to be able to learn and adapt throughout their lives, and responding to societal and labour market needs;

40.  Stresses that the policies of the Member States should be formulated and implemented in accordance with national law and practice and in consultation and close cooperation with employers’ and workers’ organisations;

41.  Recalls that precarious employment not only harms the individual but also entails significant costs for society, in terms of tax losses and higher public expenditure in the long run, as well as of support for those suffering the long-term effects of income loss and difficult working conditions; calls on the Commission and the Member States to encourage the use of open-ended contracts and the exchange of best practices between Member States in order to tackle precarious employment;

42.  Recalls that workers in the informal economy face a high level of precariousness; calls on the Commission and the Member States to adopt policies adapted to this group that protect them by tackling their problems irrespective of their residence status;

43.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to combat undeclared work, bogus self-employment and all forms of illegal employment practices which undermine workers’ rights and social security systems; reiterates its view that the prevention of zero-hour contracts should be considered in all future employment policies;

44.  Emphasises that precarious employment is mainly suffered by the most vulnerable workers who are at risk of discrimination, poverty and exclusion; recalls in particular that having a disability, being of a different ethnic origin, religion or belief, or being a woman increases the risk of being faced with precarious employment conditions; condemns all forms of precariousness regardless of the contractual situation;

45.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to ensure the effective protection of vulnerable workers; urges the Commission and the Member States to take effective action to combat discrimination against women in the labour market, with particular emphasis on work-life balance and eliminating the gender pay gap; calls on the Commission to assess whether Directive 2006/54/EC on the implementation of the principle of equal opportunities and equal treatment of men and women in matters of employment and occupation is suited for new forms of employment;

46.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to assess all legislation targeting aspects of precarious work for its gender impact; considers it necessary to target legislative and non-legislative measures to the needs of women in precarious work, as otherwise an already over-represented group will continue to be overly affected;

47.  Considers that under no circumstances should increased demands for flexibility on the labour market result in women continuing to be over-represented in atypical employment and among those with insecure employment status;

48.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to monitor and tackle the phenomenon of ‘mobbing’ in the workplace, including the harassment of pregnant female employees or any disadvantage experienced after returning from maternity leave; urges Member States to comply with and enforce legislation on maternity rights so that women do not suffer disadvantages in terms of pensions because they have been mothers during their working lives; stresses that maternity leave must be accompanied by effective measures that protect the rights of pregnant women and new, breastfeeding and single mothers, reflecting the recommendations of the ILO and the World Health Organisation;

49.  Reiterates its demand that people in all employment relationships and the self-employed should be able to accumulate entitlements providing income security in circumstances such as unemployment, ill-health, old age, career breaks for child-raising or other caring situations, or for reasons of training;

50.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to ensure decent working conditions for all first work experience opportunities for young people, such as internships, apprenticeships or opportunities under the Youth Guarantee; encourages the Member States to adopt and implement quality frameworks for internships, traineeships and apprenticeships that ensure workers’ rights and the educational focus of work experience opportunities for young people;

51.  Calls on the Commission in particular and on the Member States to take steps to combat insecure employment among young people; underscores how important it is that the Commission should implement the youth guarantee in this regard;

52.  Recommends that Member States ensure that all age groups of young people have access to high-quality free public education, particularly at the higher levels of education and training, since it has been shown that raising the level of instruction helps to reduce labour inequalities between men and women;

53.  Stresses that the use by the Commission and Member States of the ILO understanding of ‘worker’ rather than the more narrowly defined ‘employee’ could contribute to a better application and understanding of fundamental principles and rights at work;

54.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to promote entrepreneurship and the cooperative movement among workers in multi-service companies and the burgeoning sector of the collaborative economy and digital platforms, with a view to reducing the risks posed by business models concerning the rights and working conditions of workers;

55.  Points out that short-term contracts in the agriculture sector reflect the seasonal nature of farm work; calls for this major natural constraint to be respected by enabling farmers to continue recruiting on a seasonal basis and sparing them the burden of additional red tape in the recruitment and management of their workforce;

56.  Calls on the Commission to promote and raise awareness of the protection rights of seasonal workers, and calls on the Member States to regulate the social and legal status of seasonal workers, to safeguard their health and safety and hygiene conditions at work and to provide them with social security cover while complying with the provisions of Article 23 of Directive 2014/36/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 February 2014 on the conditions of entry and stay of third-country nationals for the purpose of employment as seasonal workers(35), including those concerning ‘equal pay and equal social protection’; emphasises the need to provide all seasonal workers with comprehensive information on their employment and social security rights, including pension rights, also taking account of the cross-border aspect of seasonal work;

o
o   o

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

(1) OJ L 216, 20.8.1994, p. 12.
(2) OJ L 204, 26.7.2006, p. 23.
(3) OJ L 327, 5.12.2008, p. 9.
(4) OJ L 18, 21.1.1997, p. 1.
(5) OJ L 159, 28.5.2014, p. 11.
(6) OJ L 177, 4.7.2008, p. 6.
(7) OJ C 70 E, 8.3.2012, p. 1.
(8) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0321.
(9) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0059.
(10) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0346.
(11) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0360.
(12) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0010.
(13) OJ C 303, 19.8.2016, p. 54.
(14) http://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/STUD/2016/587285/IPOL_STU(2016)587285_EN.pdf.
(15) http://www.eurofound.europa.eu/sites/default/files/ef_publication/field_ef_document/ef1398en.pdf
(16) https://www.eurofound.europa.eu/sites/default/files/ef_publication/field_ef_document/ef1461en.pdf
(17) http://www.eurofound.europa.eu/sites/default/files/ef_publication/field_ef_document/ef1639en.pdf
(18) http://www.eurofound.europa.eu/sites/default/files/ef_publication/field_ef_document/ef1634en.pdf
(19) https://www.eurofound.europa.eu/observatories/eurwork/industrial-relations-dictionary
(20) http://www.ilo.org/dyn/normlex/en/f?p=NORMLEXPUB:12100:0::NO::P12100_INSTRUMENT_ID:312535.
(21) http://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/---ed_dialogue/---actrav/documents/meetingdocument/wcms_164286.pdf.
(22) http://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/---dgreports/---dcomm/---publ/documents/publication/wcms_534496.pdf.
(23) http://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/---dgreports/---dcomm/---publ/documents/publication/wcms_490959.pdf.
(24) Full-time permanent contracts account for 59 % of total employment in the EU; self-employment with employees for 4 %, freelance work for 11 %, temporary agency work for 1 %, fixed-term work for 7 %, apprenticeship or traineeship for 2 %, marginal part-time work (less than 20 hours per week) for 9 %, and part-time permanent work for 7 %.
(25) See ILO report of 2016 on ‘Building a social pillar for European convergence’.
(26) See study of 2016 on ‘Precarious Employment in Europe: Patterns, trends and policy strategies’.
(27) Eurofound (2014), ‘Occupational profiles in working conditions: Identification of groups with multiple disadvantages’.
(28) See study of 2016 on ‘Precarious Employment in Europe: Patterns, trends and policy strategies’.
(29) Eurofound (2014), ‘Occupational profiles in working conditions: Identification of groups with multiple disadvantages’.
(30) See: https://www.eurofound.europa.eu/observatories/eurwork/industrial-relations-dictionary/atypical-work.
(31) See the resolution of Parliament of 19 October 2010 on precarious women workers.
(32) ILO report of 14 November 2016 on non-standard employment around the world.
(33) OJ L 288, 18.10.1991, p. 32.
(34) OJ L 299, 18.11.2003, p. 9.
(35) OJ L 94, 28.3.2014, p. 375.

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