Index 
Texts adopted
Thursday, 6 July 2017 - StrasbourgFinal edition
2016 Report on Turkey
 Setting up a special committee on terrorism, its responsibilities, numerical strength and term of office
 The cases of Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo and Lee Ming-che
 Eritrea, notably the cases of Abune Antonios and Dawit Isaak
 Burundi
 European Fund for Sustainable Development (EFSD) and establishing the EFSD Guarantee and the EFSD Guarantee Fund ***I
 Permitted uses of certain works and other protected subject-matter for the benefit of persons who are blind, visually impaired or otherwise print disabled ***I
 Cross-border exchange between the Union and third countries of accessible format copies of certain works and other protected subject-matter for the benefit of persons who are blind, visually impaired or otherwise print disabled ***I
 Double taxation dispute resolution mechanisms in the EU *
 EU action for sustainability
 Promoting cohesion and development in the outermost regions of the EU

2016 Report on Turkey
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European Parliament resolution of 6 July 2017 on the 2016 Commission Report on Turkey (2016/2308(INI))
P8_TA(2017)0306A8-0234/2017

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its previous resolutions, in particular those of 24 November 2016 on EU-Turkey relations(1), and 27 October 2016 on the situation of journalists in Turkey(2),

–  having regard to its resolution of 13 November 2014 on Turkish actions creating tensions in the exclusive economic zone of Cyprus(3) and its resolution of 15 April 2015 on the centenary of the Armenian genocide(4),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 9 November 2016 to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions on EU Enlargement Policy (COM(2016)0715), and to the Turkey 2016 Report (SWD(2016)0366),

–  having regard to the Presidency conclusions of 13 December 2016, and to previous relevant Council and European Council conclusions,

–  having regard to the Negotiating Framework for Turkey, and in particular its paragraph 5 of the principles governing the negotiations, of 3 October 2005,

–  having regard to Council Decision 2008/157/EC of 18 February 2008 on the principles, priorities and conditions contained in the Accession Partnership with the Republic of Turkey(5) (‘the Accession Partnership’), and to the previous Council Decisions of 2001, 2003 and 2006 on the Accession Partnership,

–  having regard to the joint statement following the EU-Turkey Summit of 29 November 2015, and the EU-Turkey Action Plan,

–  having regard to the declaration issued by the European Community and its Member States on 21 September 2005, including the provision that the recognition of all Member States is a necessary component of the negotiations, and the need for Turkey to fully and effectively implement the Additional Protocol to the Ankara Agreement in relation to all Member States by removing all obstacles to the free movement of goods without prejudice and discrimination,

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

–  having regard to Article 46 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), which states that the contracting parties undertake to abide by and implement the final judgments of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) in any case to which they are parties,

–  having regard to the opinions of the Council of Europe’s Venice Commission, in particular those of 10-11 March 2017 on the amendments to the Constitution to be submitted to a national referendum, on the measures provided in the recent Emergency Decree Laws with respect to freedom of the media and on the duties, competences and functioning of the criminal peace judgeships, of 9-10 December 2016 on Emergency Decree Laws Nos 667-676 adopted following the failed coup of 15 July 2016, and of 14-15 October 2016 on the suspension of the second paragraph of Article 83 of the Constitution (parliamentary inviolability),

–  having regard to the statement by the Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights of 26 July 2016 on measures taken under the state of emergency in Turkey,

–  having regard to the EU-Turkey Statement of 18 March 2016,

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 2 March 2017 to the European Parliament and the Council on the First Annual Report on the Facility for Refugees in Turkey (COM(2017)0130) and to the Commission’s Fifth Report of 2 March 2017 to the European Parliament, the European Council and the Council on the progress made in the implementation of the EU-Turkey Statement (COM(2017)0204),

–  having regard to the fact that Turkey has committed itself to the fulfilment of the Copenhagen criteria, adequate and effective reforms, good neighbourly relations and progressive alignment with the EU, and having regard to the fact that these efforts should have been viewed as an opportunity for Turkey to strengthen its institutions and continue its process of democratisation and modernisation,

–  having regard to the Commission recommendation of 21 December 2016 for a Council Decision authorising the opening of negotiations with Turkey on an Agreement on the extension of the scope of the bilateral preferential trade relationship and on the modernisation of the Customs Union,

–  having regard to the fact that respect for the rule of law, including, in particular, the separation of powers, democracy, freedom of expression and media, human rights, the rights of minorities and religious freedom, freedom of association and peaceful protest, are at the core of the negotiation process, according to the Copenhagen criteria for membership of the European Union,

–  having regard to the fact that Turkey has been assessed as occupying 155th place in the World Press Freedom Index, published on 26 April 2017, ranked lower than ever before, and as one of the countries where journalists suffered the most threats, physical attacks, and judicial harassment, including detention and prison sentences,

–  having regard to the fact that in November 2016 Parliament called on the Commission and the Member States to initiate a temporary freeze on the ongoing accession negotiations with Turkey and committed to reviewing its position once the disproportionate measures under the state of emergency in Turkey have been lifted, with the review being based on whether the rule of law and respect for human rights have been restored throughout the country,

–  having regard to the crisis in Syria, the efforts towards a ceasefire and a peaceful settlement, and Turkey’s obligations to enhance stability and promote good neighbourly relations through intensive efforts in order to resolve outstanding bilateral issues, disputes and conflicts with the neighbouring countries over land and maritime borders and airspace, in accordance with international agreements, including the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and the UN Charter,

–  having regard to Russian involvement in Syria, including support of the Syrian military’s use of chemical weapons, which further destabilises the country and increases the number of refugees seeking protection in Turkey and the EU,

–  having regard to Turkey’s security situation, which has deteriorated both internally and externally, and to the terrorist attacks carried out in the country,

–  having regard to the fact that Turkey hosts the largest refugee population in the world, with almost 3 million registered refugees from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, according to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR),

–  having regard to the economic and financial situation in Turkey, which is due partly to the recent wave of attacks and to political instability, but also to deeper underlying problems with the economy,

–  having regard to the Report of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), ‘The human rights situation in South-East Turkey’, of February 2017,

–  having regard to the fact that Turkey has been admirably hospitable to the large number of refugees living in the country,

–  having regard to the ‘Statement of Preliminary Findings and Conclusions’ of the International Referendum Observation Mission, issued on 17 April 2017,

–  having regard to Resolution 2156 of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) entitled ‘The functioning of democratic institutions in Turkey’, of 25 April 2017, resulting in the reopening of the monitoring procedure,

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Foreign Affairs (A8-0234/2017),

A.   whereas millions of Turks and people of Turkish extraction have been living in the Member States and contributing to their prosperity for decades;

Introduction

1.  Underlines that 2016 was a difficult year for Turkey’s population as a result of the continuing war in Syria, the high numbers of refugees, the conflict in the south‑east, a string of heinous terror attacks, and a violent coup attempt in which 248 people were killed; reiterates its strong condemnation of the coup attempt of 15 July 2016 and expresses its solidarity with the people of Turkey; recognises the right and the responsibility of the Turkish government to take action in bringing the perpetrators to justice while guaranteeing respect for the rule of law and the right to a fair trial;

2.  Underlines, however, that measures taken under the state of emergency have large-scale, disproportionate and long-lasting negative effects on a large number of citizens as well as on the protection of fundamental freedoms in the country; condemns the collective dismissal of civil servants and police officers, the mass liquidation of media outlets, the arrests of journalists, academics, judges, human rights defenders, elected and unelected officials, members of the security services and ordinary citizens, and the confiscation of their property, assets and passports, the closure of many schools and universities, and the travel ban imposed on thousands of Turkish citizens, on the basis of emergency decree laws without individualised decisions, and without the possibility of timely judicial review; is concerned about the confiscation, and in some cases nationalisation, of Turkish private companies and enterprises; calls for the immediate and unconditional release of all prisoners held without proof of individual involvement in committing a crime; regrets, in this context, that the parliament’s legislative prerogatives have been seriously undermined;

3.  Stresses the strategic importance of good EU-Turkey relations and the high added value of cooperation in coping with the challenges both sides face; recognises that both Turkey and the EU have gone through their own internal transformation processes since the accession negotiations were opened in 2004; regrets that the accession instruments have not been used to the fullest extent, and that there has been a regression in the areas of the rule of law and human rights, which are at the heart of the Copenhagen criteria, and that, over the years, public support for Turkey’s full integration into the EU has weakened on both sides; remains committed to cooperating and maintaining a constructive and open dialogue with the Turkish Government, in order to address common challenges and shared priorities, such as regional stability, the situation in Syria, migration and security;

4.  Takes note of the outcome of the referendum that took place on 16 April 2017, held under the state of emergency and in circumstances that prevented a fair campaign and an informed choice as the two sides of the campaign were not on an equal footing in terms of opportunities and since the rights of the opponents to the constitutional reform were violated; is seriously concerned by the allegations of irregularities and widespread electoral fraud identified in the findings of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe/Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (OSCE/ODHIR) Observation Mission, issued on 17 April 2017, raising serious doubts about the validity and legitimacy of the outcome; supports an independent inquiry into all claims in relation to irregularities listed in the OSCE/ODHIR statement; notes the decision of PACE to reopen the monitoring process for Turkey;

5.  Points out that Turkey must abide by its commitments as a member of the Council of Europe; calls on Turkey to remain in compliance with its Council of Europe commitments and to implement constitutional and judicial changes and reforms in cooperation with, and according to the criteria of, the Venice Commission;

6.  Strongly condemns the repeatedly declared support for the re-introduction of the death penalty by the Turkish President and various other politicians; recalls that the unequivocal rejection of the death penalty is an essential requirement for EU membership and underlines that a reintroduction of the death penalty would violate Turkey’s international commitments, would call into question Turkey’s membership of the Council of Europe and lead to an immediate end of EU accession talks and pre-accession support; underlines that, if a referendum on the reintroduction of the death penalty is organised in Turkey, the Member States have the right to refuse to allow this vote to be facilitated in their respective countries;

7.  Recalls its position from November 2016 to freeze the accession process with Turkey;

8.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States, in accordance with the Negotiating Framework, to formally suspend the accession negotiations with Turkey without delay if the constitutional reform package is implemented unchanged; underlines, taking into account the remarks of the Venice Commission on the constitutional reform, that the proposed constitutional amendments do not respect the fundamental principles of the separation of powers, do not provide for sufficient checks and balances and are not in line with the Copenhagen criteria; invites the Commission, the Member States and Turkey to hold an open and honest discussion about the areas of mutual interest for which intensified cooperation would be possible; underlines that any political engagement between the EU and Turkey should be built on conditionality provisions concerning respect for democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights;

Human rights and fundamental freedoms

9.  Notes with regret that the disproportionate measures undertaken following the declaration of the state of emergency have targeted, through detention, dismissals, arrests and property confiscation, not only thousands of people who are alleged members/supporters of the Gülen movement, but also dissenters in general and political parties of the opposition in particular; is still awaiting compelling evidence as regards the perpetrators of the coup attempt; strongly condemns the imprisonment of 11 MPs belonging to the People’s Democratic Party (HDP), including its co-chairs Ms Figen Yuksekdag and Mr Selahattin Demirtas, of one MP from the Republican People’s Party (CHP), and of 85 Kurdish municipal mayors; urges the Turkish Government to lift the state of emergency immediately; warns against the abuse of anti-terror measures to legitimise the clampdown on human rights; calls on the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) to immediately admit the first exemplary cases and to bring the first proceedings to a close as soon as possible, since no effective national remedies would appear to exist;

10.  Asks the Turkish authorities to carry out a thorough investigation into allegations of the serious ill-treatment of prisoners, as reported by several human rights organisations and calls for the full accountability and punishment of those guilty of human rights violations; is deeply concerned about detention conditions; calls for the immediate publication of the latest reports of the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment of the Council of Europe and urges the Turkish authorities to allow national and international observers to monitor detention facilities;

11.  Calls on the Turkish Government to offer to all persons subject to restrictive measures appropriate and effective remedies and judicial review in line with the rule of law; stresses that the presumption of innocence is a fundamental principle in any constitutional state; notes that, under the ongoing state of emergency, arrested citizens have no right to legal aid during the first five days of their detention and laments the severe restrictions placed on access to lawyers by detainees; underlines that since July 2016 more than 100 000 legal complaints have been filed with the Turkish Constitutional Court, which declared itself not competent on matters falling under the emergency decree; calls on Turkey to revise as a matter of urgency the ‘Commission of Inquiry for State of Emergency Practices’ in such a way that it becomes a robust, independent and fully mandated commission capable of giving individual treatment to all cases, of processing effectively the enormous number of applications it will receive and of ensuring that the judicial review is not unduly delayed;

12.  Condemns strongly the serious backsliding and violations of freedom of expression and the serious infringements of media freedom, including the disproportionate bannings of media sites and social media; notes with concern the closure of around 170 media outlets – including almost all Kurdish-language outlets – and the jailing of more than 150 journalists; stresses that Turkey’s decision to block access to Wikipedia constitutes a grave attack on the freedom of information; notes the continuous deterioration of Turkey’s ranking in the press freedom index compiled by Reporters without Borders, which now s places Turkey as number 155 out of 180 countries; recalls that a free and pluralistic press, including a free and open internet, is an essential component of any democracy and urges the Turkish government to release all unlawfully arrested journalists immediately; calls on the Turkish government to allow former MEP and President of the Joint Parliamentary Committee, Mr Joost Lagendijk, to return to his family in Turkey;

13.  Expresses its serious concern at the continuously deteriorating situation in south-east Turkey, especially in the areas where curfews were imposed, excessive force was used and collective punishment applied to all inhabitants, and where some 2 000 people were reportedly killed in the context of security operations and an estimated half a million people became displaced in the period from July 2015 to December 2016; notes that local prosecutors have consistently refused to open investigations into the reported killings and that access to the area by independent observers has been denied; recalls that the Turkish government has a responsibility to protect all of its citizens, irrespective of their cultural or religious origins and beliefs; deplores the widespread practice of expropriation, including of properties belonging to the municipalities and also of church properties, which is a violation of the rights of religious minorities; is convinced that only a fair political settlement of the Kurdish question can bring sustainable stability and prosperity, both to the area and to Turkey as a whole, and therefore calls on both sides to return to the negotiating table; notes that a series of laws, including Law No 6722 on the legal protection of security forces participating in the fight against terrorist organisations adopted in 2016, have created an atmosphere of ‘systematic impunity’ for the security forces;

14.  Condemns the decision of the Turkish Parliament to waive the immunity of a large number of MPs unconstitutionally, including 55 out of 59 HDP parliamentarians, paving the way for the arrests of opposition politicians and seriously damaging the Parliament’s image as a democratic institution; underlines that the Turkish Grand National Assembly should be the central institution in Turkish democracy, and represent all citizens on equal terms; regrets the high electoral threshold;

15.  Is concerned that judges and prosecutors continue to come under strong political pressure and that as many as 4 000, which is close to one fourth of all judges and prosecutors, have been dismissed or arrested and in some cases their properties have been confiscated; calls on Turkey to restore and implement all legal guarantees to ensure full respect for the independence of the judiciary, including by amending the law on the High Council of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK) in order to reduce the executive’s influence within that Council; is particularly concerned that the institution of ‘criminal judges of peace’, established in June 2014 by the government in office, appears to have been transformed into an instrument of harassment to stifle opposition, as well as controlling the information available to the general public;

16.  Is seriously concerned about the lack of respect for the freedom of religion, about discrimination against religious minorities, including Christians and Alevis, and violence on religious grounds, including verbal and physical attacks, stigmatisation and social pressure at schools, and problems in relation to legally establishing a place of worship; calls on the Turkish authorities to promote positive and effective reforms in the area of freedom of thought, conscience and religion, by enabling religious communities to obtain legal personality, allowing charitable foundations to elect their governing bodies, eliminating all restrictions on the training, appointment and succession of the clergy, complying with the relevant judgements of the ECtHR and the recommendations of the Venice Commission and by eliminating all forms of discrimination or barriers based on religion; calls on Turkey to respect the distinct character and importance of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and to recognise its legal personality; reiterates the need to allow the reopening of the Halki Seminary and lift all obstacles to its proper functioning; is concerned about the recent seizure of the churches in the region of Diyarbakir; urges the government to return them to their rightful owners; urges the Turkish authorities to combat seriously all manifestations of anti-Semitism in society;

17.  Calls on Turkey to protect the rights of the most vulnerable groups and of persons belonging to minorities; regrets that the LGBTI marches in Ankara and Istanbul were banned for the third consecutive year and faced suppression and police violence; is seriously concerned about gender-based violence, discrimination, hate speech against minorities, hate crime, and violations of the human rights of LGBTI persons; calls on Turkey to take adequate measures to prevent and punish hate speech or crimes targeting minorities; calls on Turkey to harmonise its domestic legislation with the Council of Europe’s Istanbul Convention, which it ratified in 2014; welcomes the government’s national strategy and action plan for Roma and calls on the Turkish government to start implementing the strategy and to set up a monitoring and evaluation mechanism; encourages the authorities to address key obstacles to the social inclusion of Roma; calls on Turkey to provide full equality for all citizens and to address the problems faced by members of minorities, in particular with regard to education and property rights; notes that, in compliance with the Copenhagen criteria, minorities should also have the right to receive education in their native language in public schools; recalls the importance of implementing the resolution by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe on Imbros and Tenedos and calls on Turkey to assist the repatriation of minority families who wish to return to the islands; welcomes the opening of the Greek-minority school on the island of Imbros, which constitutes a positive step;

18.  Calls on the Turkish government to respect and fully implement the legal obligations which it has entered into concerning the protection of cultural heritage, and, in particular, to draw up in good faith an integrated inventory of Greek, Armenian, Assyrian and other cultural heritage that was destroyed or ruined in the course of the last century; calls on Turkey to ratify the 2005 UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions; calls on Turkey to cooperate with the relevant international organisations, especially the Council of Europe, in preventing and combating illicit trafficking and the deliberate destruction of cultural heritage;

19.  Welcomes moves by individual Member States, which have speeded up d asylum procedures for Turkish citizens persecuted under the emergency decrees;

EU-Turkey relations

20.  Calls for the deepening of EU-Turkey relations in key areas of joint interest, such as counter-terrorism, migration, energy, the economy and trade, and reiterates that dialogue and cooperation should be maintained and encouraged; believes that EU-Turkey cooperation in these areas represents an investment in the stability and prosperity of both Turkey and the EU, provided it is based on respect by all sides of their commitments on fundamental rights and basic freedoms; believes that cooperation among members of civil society is of key importance and urges that these contacts be intensified;

21.  Calls on Turkey to further align its foreign policy with that of the EU; calls for closer cooperation and coordination of foreign policy challenges between the EU and Turkey; is of the opinion that the Turkish Foreign Minister should be invited to attend Foreign Affairs Council meetings on a case‑by‑case basis whenever relevant; recommends that the Council invite the Turkish government to a summit to discuss EU-Turkey relations;

22.  Believes that strengthening trade relations could bring concrete benefits to citizens in Turkey and the EU, and therefore, in the light of the current failings of the Customs Union, supports the Commission’s proposal to start negotiations on the upgrading of the Customs Union; reiterates that the EU is Turkey’s main trading partner and that two thirds of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in Turkey comes from EU Member States; underlines, furthermore, the economic importance of Turkey as a growth market for the EU; considers the involvement of social partners in negotiations as crucial; calls on the Commission to include a clause on human rights and fundamental freedoms in the upgraded Customs Union between Turkey and the EU, making human rights and fundamental freedoms a key conditionality; recalls that the Customs Union can only achieve its full potential when Turkey fully implements the Additional Protocol vis-à-vis all Member States; notes the Commission’s conclusion that further trade integration with the EU would be stimulated by Turkey eliminating the impediments to the functioning of the Customs Union;

23.  Notes that visa liberalisation is of great importance for Turkish citizens, particularly for business people and for people of Turkish origin in the EU, and will enhance people-to-people contacts; encourages the Turkish Government to comply fully with the final outstanding criteria, as identified in the visa liberalisation roadmap; underlines that the revision of its anti-terrorism legislation is a key condition to ensuring fundamental rights and freedoms and that visa liberalisation will only be possible once all the criteria have been met;

24.  Stresses the importance of the fight against corruption and recalls the Commission’s findings that corruption remains prevalent in many areas and continues to be a serious problem; is concerned that the track record of investigation, prosecution and conviction in high-level corruption cases remains poor;

25.  Calls on the Commission to take into account the latest developments in Turkey when conducting the mid-term review of the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA) funds in 2017, and to suspend the pre-accession funds if accession negotiations are suspended; calls on the Commission, in case that scenario ensues, to use those funds to support Turkish civil society and refugees in Turkey directly, and to invest more in people-to-people exchange programmes, such as Erasmus+ for students, academics and journalists;

26.  Condemns in the strongest terms all terrorist attacks carried out in Turkey, and stands firmly by Turkey’s population in our joint fight against terrorism; notes the bilateral relations between EU Member States and Turkey in the field of anti-terrorism cooperation on ‘foreign fighters’; underlines that strong cooperation between Europol and Turkish law enforcement agencies is key to combat terrorism effectively; reiterates its condemnation of the return to violence by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has been on the EU’s list of terrorist organisations since 2002 and urges it to lay down its arms and to use peaceful and legal means to voice its expectations; underlines that a peaceful solution to the Kurdish question is also necessary for Turkey’s democratic future, and will be reached only by involving all parties and democratic forces concerned; calls for a resumption of negotiations with a view to achieving a comprehensive and sustainable solution to the Kurdish issue; invites the Member States to enforce legislation banning the use of signs and symbols of organisations which are on the EU’s list of terrorist organisations;

27.  Deplores the decision of the Turkish Government to prevent German MPs from visiting the German Federal Armed Forces in Incirlik, which means that they will now be relocated to a non-NATO country, representing a major setback for effective cooperation between NATO allies in the fight against terrorism;

28.  Commends the engagement by the Turkish Government and local NGOs and the hospitality shown by the population in hosting around 3 million refugees; notes the EU-Turkey statement on migration, and urges the Member States to initiate the voluntary resettlement scheme for the most vulnerable refugees in Turkey; calls on the Commission to ensure long-term investment in both refugees and their host communities in Turkey as well as the adequate spending of the funds; encourages the Turkish Government to grant work permits and access to healthcare to all Syrian refugees, and to provide access to education for Syrian children; calls on Ankara and the EU to keep up their coordinated patrolling efforts in the Aegean, to step up efforts to combat migrant smuggling and to implement fully and effectively the EU-Turkey Readmission Agreement and the bilateral readmission agreements signed with Bulgaria and Greece;

29.  Condemns strongly the statements made by President Erdogan accusing some EU leaders of ‘Nazi practices’ and their citizens of being ‘Nazis’; points out that the continuation of such unwarranted statements undermines Turkey’s credibility as a political partner and that exporting its internal conflicts poses a threat to peaceful co-existence within society in those Member States with a substantial community of Turkish origin; underlines that the Turkish government must refrain from systematic efforts to mobilise the Turkish diaspora in the Member States for its own purposes; notes with concern the reports of alleged pressure on members of the Turkish diaspora living in the Member States, and condemns the Turkish authorities’ surveillance of citizens with dual nationality living abroad; is concerned at the revocation of a large number of passports, leaving people stateless in violation of the 1954 UN Convention relating to the status of stateless persons and the 1961 UN Convention on the reduction of statelessness, and at the reported refusal of service by Turkish consulates to a number of its citizens;

30.  Reiterates the importance of good neighbourly relations; calls on Turkey, in this connection, to step up efforts to resolve outstanding bilateral issues, including unresolved legal obligations and unsettled disputes with its immediate neighbours over land and maritime borders and airspace, in accordance with the provisions of the UN Charter and with international law; calls on the Turkish Government to sign and ratify the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS); urges the Turkish Government to end the repeated violations of Greek airspace and territorial waters, and to respect the territorial integrity and sovereignty of all of its neighbours; expresses its regret that the casus belli threat issued by the Turkish Grand National Assembly against Greece has not yet been withdrawn;

31.  Calls on Turkey and Armenia to work on the normalisation of their relations; stresses that the opening of the Turkish-Armenian border could lead to improved relations, with particular reference to cross-border cooperation and economic integration;

32.  Calls on the Turkish Government to halt its plans for the construction of the Akkuyu nuclear power plant; points out that the envisaged site is located in a region prone to severe earthquakes, hence posing a major threat not only to Turkey, but also to the Mediterranean region; requests, accordingly, that the Turkish Government join the Espoo Convention, which commits its parties to notifying and consulting each other on major projects under consideration that are likely to have a significant adverse environmental impact across boundaries; asks, to this end, the Turkish Government to involve, or at least consult, the governments of its neighbouring countries, such as Greece and Cyprus, in relation to any further developments in the Akkuyu venture;

33.  Underlines that a settlement of the Cyprus problem would have a positive impact on the entire region, while first and foremost benefiting both Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots; welcomes the joint declaration of 11 February 2014 as a basis for a settlement and praises the leaders of the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities for having achieved major progress in the reunification talks; welcomes the agreement by the two leaders on a series of confidence‑building measures and urges that all agreed measures be implemented; welcomes the exchange of preferred maps, thus far unprecedented, and the first conference on Cyprus held at Geneva with the guarantor powers and with the participation of the EU, and supports its continuation with the aim of reaching a mutually acceptable agreement on the chapter on security and guarantees; supports a fair, comprehensive and viable settlement based on a bi-communal, bi-zonal federation, a single international legal personality, single sovereignty and single citizenship with political equality between the two communities, in line with the relevant UN Security Council resolutions, international law, the EU acquis, and on the basis of respect for the principles on which the Union is founded; welcomes the intensified engagement by the parties to achieve the settlement of the Cyprus problem; expects Turkey to show active support for a rapid and successful conclusion to the negotiations, and reiterates that Turkey’s commitment and contribution to a comprehensive settlement remains crucial; calls on all parties concerned to support the negotiation process actively, to contribute to a positive outcome, and to make use of the current window of opportunity; urges the Commission to use all its resources to support fully the successful conclusion of the reunification process;

34.  Reiterates its call on Turkey to begin withdrawing its troops from Cyprus, to transfer the sealed-off area of Famagusta to the UN, in accordance with UN Security Council (UNSC) Resolution 550 (of 1984), and to refrain from actions altering the demographic balance on the island through its policy of illegal settlements; notes that the implementation of the EU acquis in the future Turkish Cypriot constituent state upon the entry into force of the settlement agreement must have already been well prepared for; acknowledges, in this regard, the continuation of the work of the bi-communal ad hoc committee on EU preparation; commits to stepping up its efforts to engage with the Turkish Cypriot community in its preparation to fully integrate into the EU, and calls on the Commission to do the same; praises the important work of the Committee on Missing Persons (CMP, which deals with both Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot missing persons), and commends the fact that improved access to relevant sites, including military areas, has been granted; calls on Turkey to assist the CMP by providing information from its military archives; calls for special consideration to be given to the work done by the CMP and welcomes, in this respect, the appointment of a European Parliament Standing Rapporteur on missing persons;

35.  Recognises the right of the Republic of Cyprus to enter into bilateral agreements concerning its exclusive economic zone; reiterates its call on Turkey to respect fully the sovereign rights of all Member States, including those related to prospecting for and the exploitation of natural resources in accordance with the EU acquis and international law; urges Turkey to engage in the peaceful settlement of disputes, and to refrain from any threat or action which might have negative effects on good neighbourly relations;

36.  Firmly believes that only a credible political solution will ensure the stability of Syria and enable the decisive defeat of ISIS/Daesh and other UN-designated terrorist groups in Syria; reaffirms the primacy of the UN-led Geneva process; recognises the efforts made in the Astana meetings to re-establish a full cessation of hostilities as well as the establishment of the trilateral mechanism to monitor and ensure full compliance with the ceasefire; urges all guarantors, including Turkey, to live up to their commitments to ensure the full implementation of the ceasefire and to make progress in securing full, unhindered, country-wide humanitarian access, the lifting of sieges and the release of all arbitrarily detained persons, especially women and children, in line with UNSC Resolution 2268; reiterates its call on Turkey to respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all of its neighbours;

37.  Calls for the translation of this resolution into Turkish;

o
o   o

38.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign and Security Policy, and the Member States.

(1) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0450.
(2) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0423.
(3) OJ C 285, 5.8.2016, p. 11.
(4) OJ C 328, 6.9.2016, p. 2.
(5) OJ L 51, 26.2.2008, p. 4.


Setting up a special committee on terrorism, its responsibilities, numerical strength and term of office
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European Parliament decision of 6 July 2017 on setting up a special committee on terrorism, its responsibilities, numerical strength and term of office (2017/2758(RSO))
P8_TA(2017)0307B8-0477/2017

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the proposal for a decision of the Conference of Presidents,

–  having regard to Rule 197 of its Rules of Procedure,

A.  whereas the European Union has clear competences in ensuring a high level of security under Article 67 TFEU, and the national authorities have competences in the fight against terrorism, as stated in Article 73 of the TFEU; and there are wider obligations in respect of cross border cooperation as stated in Title V of the TFEU on police and judicial cooperation related to the internal security of the European Union;

B.  whereas the outcome of the special committee hereby set up should be to address the practical and legislative deficiencies in the fight against terrorism across the European Union and with international partners and actors, with a particular focus on cooperation and exchange of information;

C.  whereas addressing the deficiencies and gaps in cooperation and information exchange between national law enforcement authorities, as well as the interoperability of European information sharing databases is of the utmost importance for both ensuring the good functioning of the Schengen Area and for the protection of EU’s external border, and should constitute the core of the mandate of the special committee;

D.  whereas respect for fundamental rights is an essential element in successful counter-terrorism policies;

1.  Decides to set up a special committee on terrorism, vested with the following strictly defined responsibilities:

   (a) to examine, analyse and evaluate with impartiality facts provided by law enforcement authorities of the Member States, competent EU agencies and recognised experts and the extent of the terrorist threat on European soil and to propose appropriate measures to enable the European Union and its Member States to help prevent, investigate and prosecute crimes related to terrorism;
   (b) to identify and analyse, with impartiality and according to an evidence based approach, the potential faults and malfunctions that have allowed recent terrorist attacks in different Member States to occur, in particular by collecting, compiling and analysing all information available to Member States’ intelligence services or law enforcement and judicial authorities about perpetrators prior to their terrorist offence;
   (c) to examine and assess the implementation of existing measures and instruments in the fields of external border management, including the malfunction of external border checks that have allowed individuals to enter Europe with false documents, and to assess the causes for the failure by some Member States to fully implement their obligations as set out in Regulation (EC) No 1987/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council(1) (the Schengen Information System Regulation); to collect and analyse information on possible Member States and Commission shortcoming in ensuring the full implementation of the related provisions of Regulation (EU) 2016/399 of the European Parliament and of the Council(2) (the Schengen Borders Code) and to propose appropriate measures to close the identified gaps;
   (d) to identify deficiencies in the sharing of judicial, law enforcement and intelligence information among Member States; to investigate in particular alleged widespread failures in the collection, analysis and communication of information that could help prevent attacks, in particular by:
   analysing and evaluating the performance of EU databases such as the Schengen Information System (SIS), Visa Information System (VIS) and common European Information Exchange Model (EIXM), and Member States possible failures in the implementation of existing legal instruments such as Council Decision 2008/615/JHA(3) or Council Framework Decision 2006/960/JHA(4); analysing in particular the causes of some Member States’ failure to contribute to feeding information to these databases, notably with regard to their obligations as set out in the Schengen Information System Regulation and Council Decision 2007/533/JHA(5);
   analysing the alleged failure of Member States to comply with the obligation imposed by Article 2(3) of Council Decision 2005/671/JHA(6) ensuring that at least the information referred to in paragraphs 4 and 5 of that Article gathered by the relevant authority is transmitted to Europol and Eurojust;
   collecting information on, and analysing Member States’ authorities compliance with, obligation imposed by Article 3 and 7 of Framework Decision 2006/960/JHA, in particular ensuring that competent law enforcement authorities provide, to the competent law enforcement authorities of other Member States concerned, information and intelligence in cases where there are factual reasons to believe that the information and intelligence could assist in the detection, prevention or investigation of offences referred to in Article 2(2) of Council Framework Decision 2002/584/JHA(7);
   examining whether Europol has fully complied with its duty to notify, imposed by Article 17 of Council Decision 2009/371/JHA(8), repealed by Regulation (EU) 2016/794 of the European Parliament and of the Council(9);
   examining whether Member States’ national units have fully complied with the obligation imposed by Article 8(4)(a) of Decision 2009/371/JHA, repealed by Regulation (EU) 2016/794, supplying Europol on their own initiative with the information and intelligence necessary for it to carry out its tasks;
   investigating possible deficiencies in exchange of information between EU agencies, as well as legal means and need for these agencies to access the Schengen Information System and other relevant EU information systems;
   evaluating existing informal cooperation among Member States’ intelligence services and assessing the level of effectiveness in terms of information exchange and practical cooperation;
   examining the relationship of the European Union with third countries and international agencies in the fight against terrorism, including existing international cooperation and instruments in the fight against terrorism, including the exchange of best practice, and the effectiveness of the current level of exchange of information;
   (e) to assess the impact of the EU anti-terrorism legislation and its implementation on fundamental rights;
   (f) to assess the availability and the effectiveness of all resources allocated to competent authorities involved in the fight against terrorism (police, army, justice, budget, intelligence, surveillance, information, IT, etc.) in the Member States and at EU level; to analyse possible deficiencies in police cooperation and obstacles to practical cross-border law enforcement cooperation in investigations related to the fight against terrorism, identifying technical, structural and legal limitations to investigation capacities;
   (g) to investigate the deficiencies in the judiciary systems and judicial cooperation at EU level, as well as cooperation on cross border investigations, notably through Eurojust, the European Judicial Network, Joint investigation teams, and the European Arrest Warrant (EAW), and the European Investigation Order; to identify technical, structural and legal limitations to investigation and prosecution capacities;
   (h) to examine the current exchange of best practice and collaboration between national authorities and relevant EU bodies with regard to the protection of soft targets, including areas of transit, such as airports and train stations, as well as the protection of critical infrastructures as provided for in Council Directive 2008/114/EC(10);
   (i) to investigate the current mechanisms available for victims of terrorism, particularly Directive 2012/29/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council(11), identifying existing good practices to be exchanged;
   (j) to collect information and to analyse the process of radicalisation, and the effectiveness of the de-radicalisation programmes set in a limited number of Member States; to identify existing good practices to be exchanged and to ascertain whether the Member States have taken the appropriate measures in that regard;
   (k) to assess the efficiency of cooperation between Member States, as well as the efficiency of cooperation between competent authorities, obliged entities and law enforcement authorities, in fighting money laundering and terrorism financing under Directive 2005/60/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council(12), and to exchange views with the relevant actors in the banking sector and fraud investigation and law enforcement authorities in order to identify the new forms of financing of terrorism, including its links with organised crime;
   (l) to make any recommendations that it deems to be necessary in all the above-mentioned matters and, to those ends, to establish the necessary contacts, make visits and hold hearings with the EU institutions and relevant agencies and with the international and national institutions, the national parliaments and governments of the Member States and of third countries, and with officials involved in the daily fight against terrorism such as law enforcement agencies, police authorities, intelligence services, judges and magistrates and representatives of the scientific community, business and civil society, including victims’ organisations;

2.  Stresses that any recommendation of the special committee shall be followed-up by the competent standing committees;

3.  Decides that the powers, staff and available resources of Parliament’s standing committees with responsibility for matters concerning the adoption, monitoring and implementation of EU legislation relating to the area of responsibility of the special committee shall remain unchanged;

4.  Decides that, whenever the special committee work includes the hearing of evidence of a classified nature, testimonies comprising personal data or secrets, or includes the exchange of views or hearings with authorities and bodies on secret, confidential, classified or sensitive information for national security or public security purposes, the meetings should be held in camera; decides that witnesses and experts shall have the right to make a statement or to provide testimony in camera;

5.  Decides that secret or confidential documents which have been received by the special committee shall be examined under the procedure set out in Rule 210a of its Rules of Procedure to ensure that only the Chair, rapporteur, shadow rapporteurs, coordinators and designated officials have personal access to them, and that such information shall be used exclusively for the purposes of drawing up the mid-term and final reports of the special committee; decides that meetings shall be held on premises equipped in such a way as to make it impossible for any non-authorised persons to listen to the proceedings;

6.  Decides that, prior to accessing the classified information, or hearing evidence that risks damaging national security or public security, all Members and officials shall receive security clearance in accordance with the existing internal rules and procedures;

7.  Decides that the information obtained by the special committee shall be used solely for the performance of its duties and shall not be disclosed to third parties; decides that such information shall not be made public if it contains material of a secret or confidential nature or names persons;

8.  Decides that the special committee shall have 30 members;

9.  Decides that the term of office of the special committee shall be 12 months, except where Parliament extends that period before its expiry, and that its term of office shall start running from the date of its constituent meeting; decides that the special committee shall present to Parliament a mid-term report and a final report containing factual findings and recommendations concerning the measures and initiatives to be taken.

(1) Regulation (EC) No 1987/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 December 2006 on the establishment, operation and use of the second generation Schengen Information System (SIS II) (OJ L 381, 28.12.2006, p. 4).
(2) Regulation (EU) 2016/399 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 9 March 2016 on a Union Code on the rules governing the movement of persons across borders (Schengen Borders Code) (OJ L 77, 23.3.2016, p. 1).
(3) Council Decision 2008/615/JHA of 23 June 2008 on the stepping up of cross-border cooperation, particularly in combating terrorism and cross-border crime (OJ L 210, 6.8.2008, p. 1).
(4) Council Framework Decision 2006/960/JHA of 18 December 2006 on simplifying the exchange of information and intelligence between law enforcement authorities of the Member States of the European Union (OJ L 386, 29.12.2006, p. 89).
(5) Council Decision 2007/533/JHA of 12 June 2007 on the establishment, operation and use of the second generation Schengen Information System (SIS II) (OJ L 205, 7.8.2007, p. 63).
(6) Council Decision 2005/671/JHA of 20 September 2005 on the exchange of information and cooperation concerning terrorist offences (OJ L 253, 29.9.2005, p. 22).
(7) Council Framework Decision 2002/584/JHA of 13 June 2002 on the European arrest warrant and the surrender procedures between Member States (OJ L 190, 18.7.2002, p. 1).
(8) Council Decision 2009/371/JHA of 6 April 2009 establishing the European Police Office (Europol) (OJ L 121, 15.5.2009, p. 37).
(9) Regulation (EU) 2016/794 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 May 2016 on the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation (Europol) and replacing and repealing Council Decisions 2009/371/JHA, 2009/934/JHA, 2009/935/JHA, 2009/936/JHA and 2009/968/JHA (OJ L 135, 24.5.2016, p. 53).
(10) Council Directive 2008/114/EC of 8 December 2008 on the identification and designation of European critical infrastructures and the assessment of the need to improve their protection (OJ L 345, 23.12.2008, p. 75).
(11) Directive 2012/29/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 October 2012 establishing minimum standards on the rights, support and protection of victims of crime, and replacing Council Framework Decision 2001/220/JHA (OJ L 315, 14.11.2012, p. 57).
(12) Directive 2005/60/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 October 2005 on the prevention of the use of the financial system for the purpose of money laundering and terrorist financing (OJ L 309, 25.11.2005, p. 15).


The cases of Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo and Lee Ming-che
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European Parliament resolution of 6 July 2017 on the cases of Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo and Lee Ming-che (2017/2754(RSP))
P8_TA(2017)0308RC-B8-0459/2017

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its previous resolutions on the situation in China, in particular those of 21 January 2010 on human rights violations in China, notably the case of Liu Xiaobo(1), of 14 March 2013 on EU-China relations(2) and of 12 March 2015 on the Annual Report on Human Rights and Democracy in the World 2013 and the European Union’s policy on the matter(3),

–  having regard to the statement by the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini on the status of Liu Xiaobo of 30 June 2017,

–  having regard to the 35th round of the EU-China dialogue on human rights on 22-23 June 2017 in Brussels, and the statement of the Chair of the Subcommittee on Human Rights (DROI) on the occasion of the dialogue,

–  having regard to the EU-China Summit held in Brussels on 1-2 June 2017,

–  having regard to the EU statement at the 34th Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) on 14 March 2017,

–  having regard to the statement by the European External Action Service (EEAS) of 9 December 2016, on International Human Rights Day,

–  having regard to the EU-China Strategic Partnership launched in 2003, and to the European Commission and EEAS joint communication of 22 June 2016 to the European Parliament and the Council entitled ‘Elements for a new EU Strategy on China’,

–  having regard to ‘Charter 08’, a manifesto drawn up by over 350 Chinese political activists, academics and human rights defenders calling for social, judicial and governmental reform, and released on 10 December 2008 to coincide with the 60th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,

–  having regard to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of 16 December 1966,

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

A.  whereas Liu Xiaobo, the prominent Chinese writer and human rights activist, has been formally detained in prison four times over the course of the last 30 years; whereas Liu Xiaobo was jailed for 11 years in 2009 for ‘inciting subversion of state power’ after he helped to write a manifesto known as ‘Charter 08’; whereas the formal procedures followed in Liu Xiaobo’s prosecution have not allowed for him to be represented or be present himself at formal proceedings, and diplomats from over a dozen states, including several Member States, were denied access to the court for the duration of the trial;

B.  whereas Liu Xiaobo’s wife, Liu Xia, although never charged with any offence, has been under house arrest since he was awarded the Peace Prize in 2010, and has, since then, been denied almost all human contact, except with close family and a few friends;

C.  whereas, on 8 October 2010, the Nobel Committee awarded Liu Xiaobo the Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of his ‘long and non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights in China’;

D.  whereas Liu Xiaobo has recently been transferred from a prison in China’s northeast Liaoning province to a hospital in the provincial capital Shenyang, where he is being treated for his serious health condition after having been diagnosed with late-stage liver cancer;

E.  whereas the Chinese authorities rejected requests by Liu Xiaobo and his wife to seek medical treatment outside China or to move him to his home in Beijing;

F.  whereas, on 29 June 2017, 154 Nobel Laureates issued a joint letter to the President of the People’s Republic of China urging the Chinese Government to allow Liu Xiaobo and his wife Liu Xia to travel abroad for medical treatment;

G.  whereas Lee Ming-che, the noted Taiwanese pro-democracy activist known for his human rights advocacy through social media, went missing on 19 March 2017 after crossing from Macau into Zhuhai in China’s Guangdong province; whereas China’s Taiwan Affairs Office confirmed at a news conference that the ‘relevant authorities’ had detained Lee and placed him under investigation on suspicion of ‘engaging in activities that endanger national security’;

H.  whereas the Chinese authorities have offered no credible evidence for the grave allegations against Lee Ming-che; whereas Lee’s detainment comes at a juncture during which cross-straits relations are deteriorating; whereas Lee was active in providing information about the democratic political culture of Taiwan to his friends in China through online platforms susceptible to Chinese government monitoring;

I.  whereas China has progressed in the last few years in terms of realising economic and social rights, reflecting its priorities for the people’s right to subsistence, while, since 2013, the human rights situation in China has continued to deteriorate with the government stepping up its hostility toward peaceful dissent, the rule of law, freedom of expression and freedom of religion, as in the recent case of Bishop Peter Shao Zhumin, who was forcibly removed from his diocese in Wenzhou on 18 May 2017;

J.  whereas the Chinese Government has passed new laws, in particular, the State Security Law, the Counterterrorism Law, the Cybersecurity Law, and the Foreign NGO Management Law, which have been utilised to persecute those engaging in public activism and peaceful criticism of the government as state security threats, as well as to strengthen censorship, the surveillance and control of individuals and social groups and to deter individuals from campaigning for human rights and the rule of law;

K.  whereas, last month, the Greek Government refused to endorse an EU statement criticising the crackdown on activists and dissidents in China that was due to be submitted to the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva on 15 June 2017; whereas this was the first occasion on which the EU had failed to make such a statement before the UN’s top rights body;

L.  whereas the promotion of and respect for human rights, democracy and the rule of law should remain at the centre of the long‑standing relationship between the EU and China, in line with the EU’s commitment to uphold these values in its external action and with China’s expressed interest in adhering to these very values in its own development and international cooperation;

1.  Calls on the Chinese Government to release, immediately and unconditionally, the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo and his wife Liu Xia from house arrest and allow him to obtain medical treatment wherever they wish;

2.  Urges the Chinese authorities to allow Lui Xiaobo unrestricted access to family, friends, and legal counsel;

3.  Calls on the Chinese authorities to release Lee Ming-che immediately, as no credible evidence related to his case has been provided, to disclose information about his exact whereabouts, and to ensure, in the meantime, that Lee Ming-che is protected from torture and other ill-treatment, and that he is allowed access to his family, a lawyer of his choice and adequate medical care;

4.  Remains highly concerned by the Chinese Government’s continued efforts to silence civil society actors, including human rights defenders, activists and lawyers;

5.  Recalls the importance of the EU raising the issue of human rights violations in China during every political and human rights dialogue with the Chinese authorities, in line with the EU’s commitment to project a strong, clear and unified voice in its approach to the country, including at the regular and more result‑oriented Human Rights Dialogues; recalls, further, that, in the context of its ongoing reform process and increasing global engagement, China has opted into the international human rights framework by signing up to a wide range of international human rights treaties; calls, therefore, for the dialogue with China to be pursued in order to live up to these commitments;

6.  Encourages China to ratify the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights;

7.  Regrets the failure of the EU to make a statement on human rights in China at the UN’s Human Rights Council in Geneva in June 2017; calls on all EU Member States to adopt a firm, values-based approach towards China and expects them not to undertake unilateral initiatives or acts that might undermine the coherence, effectiveness and consistency of EU action;

8.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, and the Government and Parliament of the People’s Republic of China.

(1) OJ C 305 E, 11.11.2010, p. 9.
(2) OJ C 36, 29.1.2016, p. 126.
(3) OJ C 316, 30.8.2016, p. 141.


Eritrea, notably the cases of Abune Antonios and Dawit Isaak
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European Parliament resolution of 6 July 2017 on Eritrea, notably the cases of Abune Antonios and Dawit Isaak (2017/2755(RSP))
P8_TA(2017)0309RC-B8-0464/2017

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its previous resolutions on Eritrea, in particular that of 15 September 2011 on Eritrea: the case of Dawit Isaak(1), and of 10 March 2016 on the situation in Eritrea(2),

–  having regard to the report of 23 June 2017 of the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Eritrea,

–  having regard to the statement of 14 June 2017 by the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Eritrea at the 35th session of the Human Rights Council,

–  having regard to the report of the UN Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in Eritrea, released on 8 June 2016,

–  having regard to UN Security Council resolutions 751 (1992), 1882 (2009), 1907 (2009), 2023 (2011), 2244 (2015), and 2317 (2016) which extended the arms embargo on Eritrea until 15 November 2017,

–  having regard to the Joint Communication of the Commission and of the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy to the European Parliament and the Council for a renewed impetus of the Africa-EU Partnership, of 4 May 2017,

–  having regard to the ACP-EU Partnership Agreement (the Cotonou Agreement), as revised in 2005 and 2010, to which Eritrea is a signatory,

–  having regard to Council Decision 2010/127/CFSP of 1 March 2010 concerning restrictive measures against Eritrea(3), amended by Council Decision 2010/414/CFSP of 26 July 2010(4) and further amended by Council Decision 2012/632/CFSP of 15 October 2012(5),

–  having regard to Case 428/12 (2012) filed with the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights on behalf of Dawit Isaak and other political prisoners,

–  having regard to the Final Declaration of the 60th session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights of 22 May 2017,

–  having regard to the European External Action Service report of 2015 on the Eritrea-European Union Partnership,

–  having regard to the National Indicative Programme for Eritrea under the 11th European Development Fund, of 3 February 2016,

–  having regard to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment,

–  having regard to the Constitution of Eritrea adopted in 1997, which guarantees civil liberties, including freedom of religion,

–  having regard to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights of 1981,

–  having regard to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of 1966,

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

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

A.  whereas Eritrea has one of the worst human rights records in the world, with routine human rights violations taking place every day and no improvement recorded in recent years; whereas the Government of Eritrea has undertaken a widespread campaign aimed at maintaining control over the population and restricting fundamental freedoms, under the pretext of defending the integrity of the State;

B.  whereas the UN Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in Eritrea has found that the violations in the areas of extrajudicial executions, torture (including sexual torture and sexual slavery), national service as a form of slavery, forced labour and the shoot-to-kill policy at the border may constitute crimes against humanity;

C.  whereas in September 2001 the Eritrean authorities arrested dozens of citizens who had endorsed an open letter calling for democratic reforms; whereas those detained were not charged with a crime or placed on trial, and most of them remain incarcerated to this day; whereas despite widespread appeals from human rights groups and international observers, several of these people have reportedly died in jail; whereas on 20 June 2016, however, the Eritrean Foreign Minister, Osman Saleh, referred to the detainees as political prisoners, stating that ‘all of them are alive’ and that they will be tried ‘when the government decides’;

D.  whereas Dawit Isaak, a dual citizen of Eritrea and Sweden, was arrested on 23 September 2001, after the Eritrean Government outlawed privately owned media; whereas he was last heard from in 2005; whereas Dawit Isaak’s incarceration has become an international symbol for the struggle for freedom of the press in Eritrea, most recently acknowledged by an independent international jury of media professionals awarding him the UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize 2017 in recognition of his courage, resistance and commitment to freedom of expression;

E.  whereas Dawit Isaak’s family have faced unbearable distress and uncertainty since his disappearance, having little knowledge of their loved one’s well-being, whereabouts or future prospects;

F.  whereas in the September 2001 crackdown, 11 politicians – all former members of the Central Council of the ruling People’s Front for Democracy and Justice (PFDJ), including former Foreign Minister Petros Solomon – were arrested after they published an open letter to the government and President Isaias Afwerki calling for reform and ‘democratic dialogue’; whereas 10 journalists, including Isaak, were arrested over the following week;

G.  whereas a huge number of Eritrean people are arrested for various unjustifiable reasons such as expressing independent views, or without any explicit justification, and thus for unspecified time periods; whereas detainees, including children, are held in extremely harsh conditions which in some cases amount to torture and denial of medical care; whereas international organisations have not been granted access to prison facilities, with the exception of one overground prison in Asmara;

H.  whereas only four religious faiths are authorised: the Eritrean Orthodox Church, the Catholic Church, the Lutheran Church and Islam; whereas all other religious faiths are prohibited and members of these faiths, and their family members, are arrested and imprisoned; whereas a resurgence in harassment of and violence against those practising religious faiths has been observed since 2016; whereas Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) estimates that, in May 2017 alone, 160 Christians were imprisoned in Eritrea;

I.  whereas Abune Antonios, the Patriarch of the Eritrean Orthodox Church, the nation’s largest religious community, has been in detention since 2007, having refused to excommunicate 3 000 parishioners who opposed the government; whereas since then, he has been held in an unknown location where he has been denied medical care;

J.  whereas there is no independent judiciary and no national assembly in Eritrea; whereas the lack of democratic institutions in the country has resulted in a vacuum in good governance and the rule of law that has created an environment of impunity for crimes against humanity;

K.  whereas there is only one legal political party, the People’s Front for Democracy and Justice (PFDJ); whereas other political parties are banned; whereas according to Freedom House, the PFDJ and the military are in practice the only institutions of political significance in Eritrea, and both entities are strictly subordinate to the President;

L.  whereas there is no freedom of press, as independent media is forbidden in Eritrea, with the Reporters Without Borders World Press Freedom Index ranking Eritrea last out of the 170-180 evaluated countries for eight years in succession;

M.  whereas the Presidential and parliamentary elections planned for 1997 never took place and the Constitution ratified in the same year has never been implemented; whereas the country has held no national elections for 24 years, and has virtually no independent judiciary, no functioning national assembly and no civil society;

N.  whereas Eritrea is ranked 179th out of 188 countries in the Human Development Index for 2016, according to the UNDP Human Development Report of 2016;

O.  whereas in 2016, Eritreans fleeing their country accounted for the fourth-largest number of people risking the perilous journey to Europe (after Syrians, Iraqis and Afghans), who run the gauntlet of pitiless people-smugglers to make the dangerous Mediterranean crossing; whereas the situation in Eritrea therefore directly affects Europe, since if human rights were respected and upheld in the country and people could live there without fear, Eritreans would be able to return to their homeland;

P.  whereas, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), over 400 000 Eritreans, or 9 % of the total population, have fled; whereas the UNHCR estimates that some 5 000 Eritreans leave the country every month, this being explained to a large degree by the persistence of severe human rights violations; whereas in 2015 in 69 % of Eritrean asylum cases refugee status was granted in the EU, while an additional 27 % of applicants received subsidiary protection, illustrating the gravity of persecution in Eritrea;

Q.  whereas Eritrea is supportive of the Khartoum Process (an EU and African Union initiative launched on 28 November 2014 with the aim of addressing the issue of migration and human trafficking), which encompasses the implementation of concrete projects, including capacity-building for the judiciary and awareness-raising;

R.  whereas many young people have fled the country to escape the repressive government and mandatory military conscription, which often starts at a very young age, with most Eritreans serving indefinitely; whereas the majority of those in national service remain in a situation of slavery, in which any work, job applications and the possibility of having a family life are controlled; whereas an estimated 400 000 people are currently in unlimited forced national service and many of them are subjected to forced labour, with little or no pay; whereas women conscripts are forced to endure domestic servitude and sexual abuse;

S.  whereas discrimination and violence against women are present in all areas of Eritrean society; whereas women are not only at extreme risk of sexual violence within the military and in military training camps, but also in society at large; whereas an estimated 89 % of girls in Eritrea have undergone female genital mutilation (FGM); whereas in March 2007, however, the government issued a proclamation declaring FGM a crime, prohibiting its practice and sponsoring education programmes discouraging the practice over that year;

T.  whereas the regime extends its totalitarian grip to the diaspora community via a 2 % expat income tax, and by spying on the diaspora and targeting family members who remain in Eritrea;

U.  whereas since 2011 the Eritrean regime has denied that the country is at risk of famine; whereas this year a particularly severe drought is affecting the whole of East Africa and concern about the situation in Eritrea is increasing; whereas according to UNICEF, 1,5 million Eritreans were affected by food insecurity in January 2017, including 15 000 children who are suffering from malnutrition;

V.  whereas the EU is an important donor for Eritrea in terms of development assistance; whereas in January 2016, in spite of Parliament’s serious concerns and opposition, a new National Indicative Programme (NIP) was signed by the EU and Eritrea under the 11th EDF allocating EUR 200 million; whereas actions should focus on renewable energy, governance and public finance management in the energy sector in particular;

1.  Condemns in the strongest terms Eritrea’s systematic, widespread and gross human rights violations; calls on the Eritrean Government to put an end to detention of the opposition, journalists, religious leaders and innocent civilians; demands that all prisoners of conscience in Eritrea be immediately and unconditionally released, notably Dawit Isaak and the other journalists detained since September 2001, and Abune Antonios; demands that the Eritrean Government provide detailed information on the fate and whereabouts of all those deprived of physical liberty;

2.  Recalls the decision of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights of May 2017, and demands that Eritrea immediately confirm the well-being of Dawit Isaak, release him, let him meet family and legal representatives and award him the necessary compensation for his years of imprisonment; further calls on Eritrea to lift the ban on independent media, as also ruled by the African Commission;

3.  Notes that in failing to respect the ruling of the African Commission, Eritrea continues to show flagrant disregard for international norms and fundamental rights, including the right to a fair trial, the ban on torture, freedom of expression, the right to one’s family, and that each country shall respect the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights;

4.  Calls on the Eritrean Government to release Abune Antonios, allow him to return to his position as Patriarch, and cease its interference in peaceful religious practices in the country; recalls that freedom of religion is a fundamental right, and strongly condemns any violence or discrimination on grounds of religion;

5.  Calls for fair trials for those accused, and the abolition of torture and other degrading treatment such as restrictions on food, water and medical care; reminds the Eritrean Government of its due diligence obligation to investigate extrajudicial killings;

6.  Reminds the Eritrean Government that many of its activities constitute crimes against humanity and that although Eritrea is not a party to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, many provisions of the Rome Statute reflect international customary law binding on Eritrea; underlines its support for the recommendation by the UN Commission of Inquiry, and for a thorough investigation into the allegations of serious violations of human rights and crimes against humanity committed by the Eritrean authorities, in order to make sure that all those found responsible are held accountable;

7.  Expresses its full support to the work of the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Eritrea; calls on the EU, in collaboration with the UN and the African Union, to closely monitor the overall situation in Eritrea and to report all cases of violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms;

8.  Demands that Eritrea fully respect and immediately enact the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and fully uphold its obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, both of which prohibit torture; notes with concern that public and private actors, including companies, are severely restricted by government control; recognises that the lack of any public finance management, including the absence of a national budget, makes budgetary control impossible;

9.  Calls on the Eritrean Government to allow the creation of other political parties as a primary tool of promoting democracy in the country and calls for human rights organisations to be allowed to freely operate within the country;

10.  Recalls that the EU’s partnership with Eritrea is governed by the Cotonou Agreement, and that all parties are bound to respect and implement the terms of that agreement, in particular respect for human rights, democracy and the rule of law; calls, therefore, on the EU to ascertain conditionality of its aid, including that the Government of Eritrea should adhere to international obligations on human rights and that the political prisoners should be released before any further EU aid is given to Eritrea; calls, furthermore, on the EU to make use of all available instruments and tools to ensure that the Eritrean Government respects its obligations to protect and guarantee fundamental freedoms, including by considering the launch of consultations under Article 96 of the Cotonou Agreement; requests a detailed and comprehensive assessment of the funds allocated to Eritrea which are financed by the EU and its Member States;

11.  Denounces the resumption of major EU aid to Eritrea and in particular the signing off of the NIP for Eritrea of EUR 200 million; calls on the Commission to review its scrutiny arrangements with Parliament, to carefully consider the concerns and suggestions expressed by Parliament and to guarantee that they are communicated to the EDF Committee; believes that the EDF Committee should have taken into consideration Parliament’s previous recommendations not to adopt the NIP and to engage in further discussion;

12.  Calls on the Commission to ensure that the funding allocated does not benefit the Eritrean Government but is strictly and transparently assigned to meeting the needs of the Eritrean people for development, democracy, human rights, good governance and security, and freedom of speech, press and assembly; urges the EU to ensure the conditionality of the recently agreed aid and also to ensure that the NIP supports Eritrea in operating an important shift in its energy policy in order to make energy accessible for all, especially in the rural areas which are currently still without electricity; believes, moreover, that the governance component of the NIP should strongly focus on implementing the recommendations of the UN-led Universal Periodic Review on human rights;

13.  Demands that the Commission obtain guarantees from the Eritrean Government that it will implement democratic reforms and ensure respect for human rights, including by implementing the recommendations made by the 18th session of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Working Group, which it accepted on 7 February 2014;

14.  Calls on the Council to reassess the relationship between the EU and Eritrea as well as its development aid assistance to the country in response to the country’s poor human rights record, and to publish the tangible outcomes resulting from aid programmes over the last years; calls on the EU and the Member States to make use of all available measures, especially through the Cotonou Agreement, to ensure that the Eritrean authorities comply with their international commitments;

15.  Firmly underlines that Eritrea must allow international and regional human rights bodies, including special rapporteurs, unhindered access to the country to monitor any progress; asks the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy to actively support the renewal of the mandate of the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Eritrea; encourages the Eritrean Government to undertake urgent reforms such as the loosening of the one-party state and the resumption of the National Assembly and elections;

16.  Urges the EU Member States to take appropriate measures against the application of the diaspora tax to Eritrean nationals living on their territory, in accordance with UNSC resolution 2023 (2011); reminds the Eritrean Government that the right to leave one’s country is enshrined in international human rights law; calls on the government to allow freedom of movement and to stop collecting the diaspora tax from Eritreans living abroad; urges the government to end ‘guilt-by-association’ policies that target family members of those who evade national service, seek to flee Eritrea or do not pay the 2 % income tax the Eritrean Government imposes on Eritrean expats;

17.  Calls on the Eritrean Government to adhere to the period of service statute, to desist from using its citizens as forced labour, to stop allowing foreign companies to use such conscripts for a fee, to allow the possibility of conscientious objection to serving in the military and to ensure the protection of conscripts;

18.  Reminds Eritrea of its obligations under ILO conventions, with particular regard to the right of civil society organisations and trade unions to organise, peacefully demonstrate, participate in public affairs, and campaign for better workers’ rights; calls on the Eritrean Government to repeal the policy that bans NGOs that have less than USD 2 million in their bank accounts; is concerned about the endemic link between business, politics and corruption in Eritrea; condemns foreign companies who are complicit in using forced labour and asks all those who are operating in Eritrea for better accountability, due diligence and reporting systems;

19.  Notes the EU’s attempts to cooperate with Eritrea in the area of migration; highlights the very high rate of granting of asylum and subsidiary protection by EU Member States to Eritreans and consequently urges Member States not to return Eritreans seeking asylum in Europe, in accordance with the Geneva Convention; demands that the EU Member States adhere to the concept of non-refoulement, and reminds them that returning asylum-seekers are likely to be arbitrarily detained and tortured as a result of their attempts to flee;

20.  Encourages Eritrea to engage with the international community in the field of human rights; requests that the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) cooperate with Eritrea in capacity building in the judicial system by organising seminars and training for judges and lawyers as a constructive way forward; recognises that a delegation from the Office of the High Commissioner of the HRC will visit Eritrea in July 2017, and calls on this delegation to report on what they see and to attempt to gain access to all parts of the country, in particular prisons, where facilities can be surveyed and reported upon;

21.  Reiterates its deep concern about the current devastating climatic conditions in the Horn of Africa, including Eritrea, and the serious risk of food and humanitarian crisis that they entail; calls on the EU, together with its international partners, to scale up its support to the affected populations and to ensure that the necessary funding and assistance are provided;

22.  Condemns the Eritrean Government’s policy of arbitrarily revoking citizenship, and demands that all Eritrean citizens be treated fairly and equally before the law; stresses that addressing the justice deficit in Eritrea democratic governance and restoration of the rule of law must be prioritised, by ending authoritarian rule by fear of arbitrary and incommunicado detention, of torture and of other human rights violations, some of which may amount to crimes against humanity;

23.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly, the Council of the African Union, the East African Community, the Secretary-General of the UN, the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, and the Eritrean authorities.

(1) OJ C 51 E, 22.2.2013, p. 146.
(2) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0090.
(3) OJ L 51, 2.3.2010, p. 19.
(4) OJ L 195, 27.7.2010, p. 74.
(5) OJ L 282, 16.10.2012, p. 46.


Burundi
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European Parliament resolution of 6 July 2017 on the situation in Burundi (2017/2756(RSP))
P8_TA(2017)0310RC-B8-0465/2017

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the revised Cotonou Agreement, in particular Article 96 thereof,

–  having regard to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,

–  having regard to the 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,

–  having regard to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights,

–  having regard to the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance,

–  having regard to United Nations Security Council Resolutions 2248 (2015) of 12 November 2015 and 2303 (2016) of 29 July 2016 on the situation in Burundi,

–  having regard to the international commission of inquiry report presented to the United Nations Human Rights Council on 15 June 2017,

–  having regard to the first UN Secretary-General’s report on the situation in Burundi, published on 23 February 2017,

–  having regard to the Security Council press release of 9 March 2017 regarding the situation in Burundi,

–  having regard to the report of the UN Independent Investigation on Burundi (UNIIB), published on 20 September 2016,

–  having regard to the resolution adopted by the United Nations Human Rights Council on 30 September 2016 on the human rights situation in Burundi,

–  having regard to the Arusha Peace and Reconciliation Agreement for Burundi (Arusha Agreement) of 28 August 2000,

–  having regard to the declaration on Burundi by the African Union summit of 13 June 2015,

–  having regard to the Decision on the Activities of the Peace and Security Council and the State of Peace and Security in Africa (Assembly/AU/Dec.598(XXVI)), adopted at the 26th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union held on 30 and 31 January 2016 in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia),

–  having regard to the Decisions and Declarations of the Assembly of the African Union (Assembly/AU/Dec.605-620(XXVII)), adopted at the 27th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union held on 17 and 18 July 2016 in Kigali (Rwanda),

–  having regard to the resolution of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights of 4 November 2016 on the human rights situation in the Republic of Burundi,

–  having regard to the declaration on Burundi by the East African Community (EAC) summit of 31 May 2015,

–  having regard to the European Parliament resolutions on Burundi, notably those of 9 July 2015(1), 17 December 2015(2) and 19 January 2017(3),

–  having regard to Council Decision (EU) 2016/394 of 14 March 2016 concerning the conclusion of consultations with the Republic of Burundi under Article 96 of the Partnership Agreement between the members of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP), of the one part, and the European Community and its Member States, of the other part,

–  having regard to Council Regulation (EU) 2015/1755 of 1 October 2015 and Council Decisions (CFSP) 2015/1763 and (CFSP) 2016/1745 concerning restrictive measures in view of the situation in Burundi,

–  having regard to the Council conclusions of 16 March, 18 May, 22 June and 16 November 2015 and 15 February 2016 on Burundi,

–  having regard to the statements of the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (VP/HR) of 28 May 2015, 19 December 2015 and 21 October 2016,

–  having regard to the statement of 6 January 2017 by the VP/HR spokesperson on the banning of Iteka League in Burundi,

–  having regard to the Constitution of Burundi, in particular Article 96 thereof,

–  having regard to Rules 122(5) and 123(4) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.  whereas Burundi was plunged into grave political crisis and civil unrest after President Pierre Nkurunziza announced in April 2015 that he would run for a third term, regardless of the Burundian Constitution limiting the presidential mandate to two terms; whereas his re-election has faced strong opposition and has resulted in a massive crackdown by the government and an alarming deterioration of the human rights situation in the country;

B.  whereas, according to international observers, those opposing his re-election have faced a massive government crackdown since July 2015; whereas, according to the United Nations, 500 people have died since the violence erupted; whereas, according to human rights organisations, more than 1 200 people have been killed, between 400 and 900 have been victims of enforced disappearances, hundreds or possibly thousands have been tortured, and more than 10 000 are still being arbitrarily detained;

C.  whereas President Pierre Nkurunziza is not ruling out the possibility of amending the Constitution, enabling him to stand for a fourth term as of 2020; whereas internal procedures have been initiated seeking to remove restrictions on terms of office; whereas this appears to run counter to previous declarations by President Pierre Nkurunziza, undermining the collective efforts to find a viable long-term solution to the crisis;

D.  whereas the report of the United Nations Independent Investigation on Burundi (UNIIB) points to ‘abundant evidence of serious human rights violations and abuses’ in the country, perpetrated mainly by the security forces and the authorities; whereas there has been an increase in cases of incitement to violence and hatred since April 2017, in particular at rallies of the Imbonerakure, the youth militia of the CNDD-FDD party in power; whereas opposition figures and civil society activists, notably human rights defenders and journalists, have been the primary targets of these abuses; whereas the final report of the commission of inquiry set up by the Human Rights Council is expected in September 2017;

E.  whereas the reported acts of violence include murder, abduction, enforced disappearances, torture, rape and arbitrary arrests and imprisonment; whereas corruption and the failure of the public authorities to take action is perpetuating a culture of impunity that is preventing many of those perpetrating acts of deadly violence, including members of the security forces and intelligence services, from being brought to justice;

F.  whereas, in October 2016, the Burundian authorities banned five human rights organisations; whereas, in January 2017, the oldest of those organisations in the country, the League Iteka, was also outlawed; whereas, in December 2016, Parliament passed a law imposing strict controls on international NGOs;

G.  whereas the clampdown on independent media and newspapers has been stepped up; whereas independent media are still being censored, suspended, blocked and/or shut down; whereas journalists have been subjected to forced disappearance, threats, physical attacks and judicial harassment; whereas all independent radio stations have been suspended; whereas ‘Reporters Sans Frontières’ ranks Burundi 160th out of 180 countries in its 2017 World Press Freedom Index;

H.  whereas UN officials are reporting a tendency for government officials to sow the seeds of discord, raising fears of spiralling violence and a possible escalation of the crisis along ethnic lines; whereas there have been reports of widespread violence and intimidation by the CNDD-FDD (National Council for the Defence of Democracy – Forces for the Defence of Democracy) and its Imbonerakure youth militia;

I.  whereas Burundi took formal steps in October 2016 to withdraw from the Rome Statute, thereby indicating its intention to leave the International Criminal Court (ICC), following the court’s decision to open a preliminary investigation into acts of violence and human rights abuses in the country;

J.  whereas, in August 2016, the Burundian Government rejected the deployment of UN police officers to monitor the situation in Burundi; whereas the Burundian Government decided to suspend cooperation with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and refused to cooperate with the commission of inquiry set up by the UN Human Rights Council;

K.  whereas, on 21 December 2015, the Burundian Parliament rejected the proposed African Union (AU) peacekeeping force, stating that any military intervention by AU troops would constitute an invasion by an occupation force;

L.  whereas, on 8 December 2015, the EU began consultations with the Government of Burundi under Article 96 of the Cotonou Agreement, in the presence of representatives of the ACP Group of States, the AU, the East African Community (EAC) and the UN; whereas, in March 2016, the EU closed consultations, having concluded that the commitments proposed by the Burundian Government in terms of human rights, democratic principles and the rule of law are unsatisfactory;

M.  whereas, at the close of those proceedings, the EU set out specific measures to be taken by the Government of Burundi in order to resume full cooperation;

N.  whereas the EU suspended direct financial support to the Burundian administration, including budget support; whereas the EU has undertaken to maintain financial support for the population and humanitarian assistance, including projects to ensure access to basic services;

O.  whereas the EU has adopted targeted sanctions in respect of persons, entities or bodies undermining democracy or obstructing the search for a political solution in Burundi; whereas the AU is also currently planning to adopt sanctions;

P.  whereas the inter-Burundian dialogue, led by the EAC and endorsed by the AU and EU, is regarded by the UN Security Council as the only viable process for a sustainable political settlement in Burundi; whereas the dialogue must be open to all, including opposition parties, civil society and members of the diaspora;

Q.  whereas the political deadlock in Burundi and the deteriorating economic situation are having serious consequences for the population; whereas the UN Agency for Refugees estimates that over 420 000 people have fled Burundi to seek refuge in neighbouring countries; whereas, according to the UN Under-Secretary-General, there are at present 209 000 internally displaced persons; whereas three million people are in need of humanitarian aid and 2.6 million are facing acute food insecurity; whereas 700 000 are dependent on emergency food aid in spite of the fact that the Government has lifted certain restrictions; whereas the situation is seriously jeopardising the region’s stability;

1.  Expresses its deep concern at the political and security situation in Burundi; strongly condemns the acts of violence, killings and other human rights abuses that have taken place in Burundi since 2015; appeals for effective and proportionate action to prevent further violence;

2.  Is concerned about widespread impunity, in particular for the perpetrators of violence and human rights abuses; points out that the Burundian authorities have an obligation under international and regional human rights legislation to guarantee, protect and promote fundamental rights, including citizens’ civil and political rights; calls, in this context, for a thorough and independent inquiry into the killings and abuses that have occurred in recent years in Burundi, and for measures to ensure that those responsible are held to account;

3.  Deplores the fact that the Government of Burundi has initiated proceedings for withdrawal from the Rome Statute establishing the ICC; calls on the Government of Burundi to reverse the withdrawal procedure and ensure that the country continues to participate fully in the ICC;

4.  Urges the Burundian Government to respect in full UN Security Council Resolution 2303 (2016) and authorise the deployment of a UN police unit to monitor the security situation in the country;

5.  Welcomes the establishment of the UN Commission of Inquiry on human rights in Burundi in November 2016 to investigate human rights violations and abuses committed in Burundi since April 2015; calls on the Burundian authorities to cooperate fully with the members of the commission of inquiry;

6.  Welcomes the recent appointment of a new Special Envoy to Burundi, Michel Kafando, by UN Secretary-General António Guterres with a view to facilitating understanding of the ongoing political process;

7.  Reiterates its commitment to freedom of expression and reaffirms the key role played by civil society, lawyers, human rights organisations and the media in a democratic society; calls on the Burundian authorities, in this context, to lift the bans and restrictions imposed on those entities, reconsider the new legislation regarding foreign NGOs and ensure that journalists and human rights defenders can operate freely and safely in the country;

8.  Is concerned that the present state of affairs very much risks creating deeper divisions between different ethnic groups; condemns the ‘ethnicisation’ of the crisis by means of recourse to propaganda based on an ethnic ideology; urges all sides in Burundi to refrain from any behaviour or language that might further aggravate violence, deepen the crisis or affect regional stability in the long term and to abide by the Arusha Agreement in full;

9.  Condemns the acts of incitement to hatred and violence by the leaders of the Imbonerakure youth militia against refugees and opposition members, especially public incitement to rape the wives of opposition members, and calls for the immediate disarmament of militias; is extremely concerned at the adoption of a new law on the creation of a national volunteer corps that would legalise the activities of such militias;

10.  Urges all parties to establish the necessary conditions for rebuilding trust and fostering national unity through an open, transparent and inclusive national dialogue between government, opposition parties and civil society in accordance with the Burundian Constitution, the Arusha Agreement and the country’s international commitments;

11.  Notes that the situation in Burundi is having an extremely damaging impact throughout the region; welcomes, in this regard, the negotiations being carried out under the auspices of the EAC with the support of the AU, and calls for the commitment and cooperation of the Burundian authorities for an immediate, long-term, sustainable solution to this conflict; expresses great concern, however, about the slow progress of this dialogue;

12.  Calls on the EU to back the efforts of regional actors to resolve the crisis; calls for implementation of the roadmap produced by the facilitator appointed by the ECA, former Tanzanian President Mkapa;

13.  Welcomes the decision of the AU Peace and Security Council authorising the deployment of an African Prevention and Protection Mission in Burundi in order to promote a political solution; urges the Burundian Government to honour in full the commitment to facilitating the swift deployment of observers and experts on human rights, in particular through immediate issuing of visas and very prompt completion of other requisite formalities;

14.  Takes the view that a greater presence of international observers in Burundi might very much help to improve the situation as regards human rights and security; calls for a further 200 AU military and human rights observers to be deployed in support of the 30 observers already present;

15.  Considers that there needs to be clarification, in coordination with the AU, of the traceability of the funds provided for Burundian soldiers deployed within AMISOM;

16.  Takes the view that, for there to be any normalisation of relations with the EU, including the Member States, the Burundian authorities must implement all provisions, in the schedule of commitments, on the consultations provided for by Article 96 of the Cotonou Agreement;

17.  Takes note of the EU’s decision, following consultation with the Burundian authorities under Article 96 of the Cotonou Agreement, to suspend direct financial support to the administration of Burundi and welcomes the adoption of the travel restrictions and asset freeze measures by the EU against those seeking to undermine peace efforts or human rights; emphasises that the EU is maintaining full financial support for the people of Burundi, including refugees, in the key areas of health, nutrition and education, and humanitarian support provided through direct channels; supports the renewed targeted sanctions by the EU, and the EU Council decision to suspend funding for Burundi following the consultations under Article 96;

18.  Is deeply concerned by the influx of Burundian refugees in neighbouring countries and by the alarming humanitarian situation of displaced persons in Burundi, and reiterates its support for the humanitarian organisations present in the region and in neighbouring countries that are hosting refugees; urges the EU and other donors to step up funding and humanitarian aid for Burundians who are internally displaced or refugees; reminds the Member States of their commitment to respect the Geneva Convention;

19.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Government and Parliament of Burundi, the ACP-EU Council of Ministers, the European Commission, the Council of Ministers of the European Union, the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the governments and parliaments of the EU Member States, the member countries and institutions of the African Union, and the Secretary-General of the United Nations.

(1) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0275.
(2) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0474.
(3) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0004.


European Fund for Sustainable Development (EFSD) and establishing the EFSD Guarantee and the EFSD Guarantee Fund ***I
PDF 241kWORD 49k
Resolution
Text
European Parliament legislative resolution of 6 July 2017 on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the European Fund for Sustainable Development (EFSD) and establishing the EFSD Guarantee and the EFSD Guarantee Fund (COM(2016)0586 – C8-0377/2016 – 2016/0281(COD))
P8_TA(2017)0311A8-0170/2017

(Ordinary legislative procedure: first reading)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Commission proposal to Parliament and the Council (COM(2016)0586),

–  having regard to Article 294(2), Article 209(1) and Article 212(2) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, pursuant to which the Commission submitted the proposal to Parliament (C8‑0377/2016),

–  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 committees responsible under Rule 69f(4) of its Rules of Procedure and the undertaking given by the Council representative by letter of 28 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 joint deliberations of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, the Committee on Development and the Committee on Budgets under Rule 55 of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, the Committee on Development and the Committee on Budgets and the opinion of the Committee on Budgetary Control (A8-0170/2017),

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

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

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

Position of the European Parliament adopted at first reading on 6 July 2017 with a view to the adoption of Regulation (EU) 2017/… of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing the European Fund for Sustainable Development (EFSD), the EFSD Guarantee and the EFSD Guarantee Fund

(As an agreement was reached between Parliament and Council, Parliament's position corresponds to the final legislative act, Regulation (EU) 2017/1601.)


Permitted uses of certain works and other protected subject-matter for the benefit of persons who are blind, visually impaired or otherwise print disabled ***I
PDF 241kWORD 42k
Resolution
Text
European Parliament legislative resolution of 6 July 2017 on the proposal for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on certain permitted uses of works and other subject-matter protected by copyright and related rights for the benefit of persons who are blind, visually impaired or otherwise print disabled and amending Directive 2001/29/EC on the harmonisation of certain aspects of copyright and related rights in the information society (COM(2016)0596 – C8-0381/2016 – 2016/0278(COD))
P8_TA(2017)0312A8-0097/2017

(Ordinary legislative procedure: first reading)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Commission proposal to Parliament and the Council (COM(2016)0596),

–  having regard to Article 294(2) and Article 114 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, pursuant to which the Commission submitted the proposal to Parliament (C8‑0381/2016),

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

–  having regard to the opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee of 25 January 2017(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 19 May 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 Legal Affairs and the opinions of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs, the Committee on Culture and Education and the Committee on Petitions (A8-0097/2017),

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

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

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

Position of the European Parliament adopted at first reading on 6 July 2017 with a view to the adoption of Directive (EU) 2017/... of the European Parliament and of the Council on certain permitted uses of certain works and other subject matter protected by copyright and related rights for the benefit of persons who are blind, visually impaired or otherwise print-disabled and amending Directive 2001/29/EC on the harmonisation of certain aspects of copyright and related rights in the information society

(As an agreement was reached between Parliament and Council, Parliament's position corresponds to the final legislative act, Directive (EU) 2017/1564.)

(1) OJ C 125, 21.4.2017, p. 27.


Cross-border exchange between the Union and third countries of accessible format copies of certain works and other protected subject-matter for the benefit of persons who are blind, visually impaired or otherwise print disabled ***I
PDF 243kWORD 44k
Resolution
Text
European Parliament legislative resolution of 6 July 2017 on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the cross-border exchange between the Union and third countries of accessible format copies of certain works and other subject-matter protected by copyright and related rights for the benefit of persons who are blind, visually impaired or otherwise print disabled (COM(2016)0595 – C8-0380/2016 – 2016/0279(COD))
P8_TA(2017)0313A8-0102/2017

(Ordinary legislative procedure: first reading)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Commission proposal to Parliament and the Council (COM(2016)0595),

–  having regard to Article 294(2) and Article 207 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, pursuant to which the Commission submitted the proposal to Parliament (C8‑0380/2016),

–  having regard to the opinion of the Committee on Legal Affairs on the proposed legal basis,

–  having regard to Article 294(3) and Article 114 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

–  having regard to the opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee of 5 July 2017(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 19 May 2017 to approve Parliament’s position, in accordance with Article 294(4) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

–  having regard to Rules 59 and 39 of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Legal Affairs and the opinions of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs, the Committee on Culture and Education and the Committee on Petitions (A8-0102/2017),

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

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

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

Position of the European Parliament adopted at first reading on 6 July 2017 with a view to the adoption of Regulation (EU) 2017/... of the European Parliament and of the Council on the cross-border exchange between the Union and third countries of accessible format copies of certain works and other subject matter protected by copyright and related rights for the benefit of persons who are blind, visually impaired or otherwise print-disabled

(As an agreement was reached between Parliament and Council, Parliament's position corresponds to the final legislative act, Regulation (EU) 2017/1563.)

(1) Not yet published in the Official Journal.


Double taxation dispute resolution mechanisms in the EU *
PDF 479kWORD 71k
European Parliament legislative resolution of 6 July 2017 on the proposal for a Council directive on Double Taxation Dispute Resolution Mechanisms in the European Union (COM(2016)0686 – C8-0035/2017 – 2016/0338(CNS))
P8_TA(2017)0314A8-0225/2017

(Special legislative procedure – consultation)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Commission proposal to the Council (COM(2016)0686),

–  having regard to Article 115 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, pursuant to which the Council consulted Parliament (C8‑0035/2017),

–  having regard to the reasoned opinion submitted, within the framework of Protocol No 2 on the application of the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality, by the Swedish Parliament, asserting that the draft legislative act does not comply with the principle of subsidiarity,

–  having regard to its resolutions of 25 November 2015(1) and of 6 July 2016(2) on tax rulings and other measures similar in nature or effect,

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs (A8-0225/2017),

1.  Approves the Commission proposal as amended;

2.  Calls on the Commission to alter its proposal accordingly, in accordance with Article 293(2) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union;

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

4.  Asks the Council to consult Parliament again if it intends to substantially amend the Commission proposal;

5.  Calls on the Council to consider the possibility of progressively abrogating the Convention of 23 July 1990 on the elimination of double taxation in connection with the adjustment of profits of associated enterprises(3) after the adoption of the proposed Directive and thereby to strengthen a coordinated Union approach to dispute resolution through the proposed Directive;

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

Text proposed by the Commission   Amendment
Amendment 1
Proposal for a directive
Recital 1
(1)  Situations, in which different Member States tax the same income or capital twice can create serious tax obstacles for businesses operating cross border. They create an excessive tax burden for businesses and are likely to cause economic distortions and inefficiencies, as well as to have a negative impact on cross border investment and growth.
(1)  On the basis of the principle of fair and effective taxation, all businesses must pay their fair share of tax where profits and gains are generated, but double taxation and double non-taxation must be avoided. Situations in which different Member States tax the same income or capital twice can create serious tax obstacles, mainly for small and medium-sized businesses operating cross border and thus have a negative impact on the proper functioning of the internal market. They create an excessive tax burden, a lack of legal certainty and unnecessary costs for businesses and are likely to cause economic distortions and inefficiencies. In addition, they have a negative impact on cross-border investment and growth.
Amendment 2
Proposal for a directive
Recital 1 a (new)
(1a)  On 25 November 2015, the European Parliament adopted a resolution on tax rulings and other measures similar in nature or effect, where it contested the usefulness of the Convention of 23 July 1990 on the elimination of double taxation in connection with the adjustment of profits of associated enterprises1a (the ‘Union Arbitration Convention’) and considered that that instrument should be reshaped and made more efficient, or replaced by a Union dispute resolution mechanism with more effective mutual agreement procedures. On 6 July 2016, the European Parliament adopted a resolution on tax rulings and other measures similar in nature or effect, where it stressed that the setting of a clear timeframe for dispute resolution procedures is key to enhancing the effectiveness of the systems.
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1a OJ L 225, 20.8.1990, p. 10.
Amendment 3
Proposal for a directive
Recital 1 b (new)
(1b)   On 16 December 2015, the European Parliament adopted a resolution with recommendations to the Commission on bringing transparency, coordination and convergence to corporate tax policies in the Union, where it called on the Commission to propose legislation to improve cross-border taxation disputes in the Union, focussing not only on cases of double taxation but also double non-taxation. It also called for clearer rules, more stringent timelines and transparency.
Amendment 4
Proposal for a directive
Recital 1 c (new)
(1c)   Attempts to eliminate double taxation have often led to "double non-taxation", where, through the practice of base erosion and profit shifting, companies have managed to have their profits taxed in those Member States which have corporate taxes of close to zero. That ongoing practice distorts competition, damages domestic enterprises and undermines taxation, to the detriment of growth and jobs.
Amendment 5
Proposal for a directive
Recital 2
(2)  For this reason, it is necessary that mechanisms available in the Union ensure the resolution of double taxation disputes and the effective elimination of the double taxation at stake.
(2)  Current dispute resolution procedures are too long, costly and often do not result in an agreement, with some cases receiving no acknowledgement at all. Some businesses currently accept double taxation rather than spending money and time on burdensome procedures to eliminate double taxation. For this reason, it is essential that mechanisms available in the Union ensure an effective, rapid and enforceable resolution of double taxation disputes and the effective and timely elimination of the double taxation at stake, with regular and effective communication to the taxpayer.
Amendment 6
Proposal for a directive
Recital 3
(3)  The currently existing mechanisms provided for in bilateral tax treaties do not achieve the provision of a full relief from double taxation in a timely manner in all cases. The existing Convention on the elimination of double taxation in connection with the adjustments of profits of associated enterprises (90/436/EEC)7 ('the Union Arbitration Convention') has a limited scope as it is only applicable to transfer pricing disputes and attribution of profits to permanent establishments. The monitoring exercise carried out as part of the implementation of the Union Arbitration Convention has revealed some important shortcomings, in particular as regards access to the procedure and the length and the effective conclusion of the procedure.
(3)  The currently existing mechanisms provided for in bilateral double taxation treaties do not achieve the provision of a full relief from double taxation in a timely manner in all cases. The mechanisms provided for in those treaties are, in many cases lengthy, costly, difficult to access and do not always lead to agreement. The Union Arbitration Convention has a limited scope as it is only applicable to transfer pricing disputes and attribution of profits to permanent establishments. The monitoring exercise carried out as part of the implementation of the Union Arbitration Convention has revealed some important shortcomings, in particular as regards access to the procedure, a lack of legal remedies, the length and the absence of a final binding effective conclusion of the procedure. Those shortcomings represent an obstacle to investment and should be eliminated.
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7 OJ L 225, 20.8.1990, p. 10.
Amendment 7
Proposal for a directive
Recital 3 a (new)
(3a)   In order to shape a fair, clear and stable tax environment and to reduce taxation disputes within the internal market, at least some minimum convergence in corporate tax policies is required. The introduction of a common consolidated corporate tax base as proposed by the Commission1a is the most effective way of eliminating the risk of double corporate taxation.
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1a Proposal for a Council directive on a Common Consolidated Corporate Tax Base (CCCTB) (COM(2016)0683).
Amendment 8
Proposal for a directive
Recital 4
(4)  With a view to create a fairer tax environment, rules on transparency need to be enhanced and anti-avoidance measures need to be strengthened. At the same time in the spirit of a fair taxation system, it is necessary to ensure that taxpayers are not taxed twice on the same income and that mechanisms on dispute resolution are comprehensive, effective and sustainable. Improvements to double taxation dispute resolution mechanisms are also necessary to respond to a risk of increased number of double or multiple taxation disputes with potentially high amounts being at stake due to more regular and focused audit practices established by tax administrations.
(4)  With a view to create a fairer tax environment for enterprises active in the Union, rules on transparency need to be enhanced and anti-avoidance and tax evasion measures need to be strengthened nationally, at Union level and globally. Avoiding double non-taxation must remain a priority of the Union. At the same time in the spirit of a fair taxation system, it is necessary to ensure that taxpayers are not taxed twice on the same income and that mechanisms on dispute resolution are comprehensive, effective and sustainable. Improvements to double taxation dispute resolution mechanisms are also vital in order to respond to a risk of increased number of double or multiple taxation disputes with potentially high amounts being at stake due to more regular and focused audit practices established by tax administrations.
Amendment 9
Proposal for a directive
Recital 5
(5)  The introduction of an effective and efficient framework for resolution of tax disputes which ensures legal certainty and a business friendly environment for investments is therefore a crucial action in order to achieve a fair and efficient corporate tax system in the Union. The double taxation dispute resolution mechanisms should also create a harmonised and transparent framework for solving double taxation issues and as such provide benefits to all taxpayers.
(5)  The introduction of an effective and efficient framework for resolution of tax disputes which ensures legal certainty and supports investments is therefore a crucial action in order to achieve a fair and efficient corporate tax system in the Union. Member States should dedicate an adequate level of human, technical and financial resources to competent authorities for this purpose.
Amendment 10
Proposal for a directive
Recital 5 a (new)
(5a)  The Union has the potential to become a model and a global leader in tax transparency and coordination. The double taxation dispute resolution mechanisms should therefore also create a harmonised and transparent framework for solving double taxation issues and as such provide benefits to all taxpayers. Unless proven by the taxpayers concerned that some sensitive trade, industrial or professional information in the decision should not be published, all final decisions should be published in their entirety and be made available by the Commission in a common data format also on a centrally managed webpage. Publication of final decisions is in the interest of the public as it improves understanding of how the rules should be interpreted and applied. This Directive will only realise its full potential if similar rules are also implemented in third countries. Therefore, the Commission should also advocate the establishment of binding dispute resolution procedures at international level.
Amendment 11
Proposal for a directive
Recital 5 b (new)
(5b)   An effective and efficient framework should include the possibility for Member States to propose alternative dispute resolution mechanisms that take better account of the specific characteristics of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and can result in lower costs, less bureaucracy, more efficiency and the faster elimination of double taxation.
Amendment 12
Proposal for a directive
Recital 6
(6)  The elimination of double taxation should be achieved through a procedure under which, as a first step, the case is submitted to the tax authorities of the Member States concerned with a view to settling the dispute by Mutual Agreement Procedure. In the absence of such agreement within a certain time frame, the case should be submitted to an Advisory Commission or Alternative Dispute Resolution Commission, consisting both of representatives of the tax authorities concerned and of independent persons of standing. The tax authorities should take a final binding decision by reference to the opinion of an Advisory Commission or Alternative Dispute Resolution Commission.
(6)  The elimination of double taxation should be achieved through a procedure that is simple to use. As a first step, the case is submitted to the tax authorities of the Member States concerned with a view to settling the dispute by Mutual Agreement Procedure. In the absence of such agreement within a certain time frame, the case should be submitted to an Advisory Commission or an Alternative Dispute Resolution Commission, consisting both of representatives of the tax authorities concerned and of independent persons of standing whose names will appear in a publicly available list of independent persons of standing. The tax authorities should take a final binding decision by reference to the opinion of the Advisory Commission or Alternative Dispute Resolution Commission.
Amendment 13
Proposal for a directive
Recital 7 a (new)
(7a)   The procedure for the settlement of double taxation disputes provided for in this Directive consists, among other options, of dispute resolution for the taxpayer. That includes mutual agreement procedures under bilateral double tax conventions or under the Union Arbitration Convention. The dispute resolution procedure laid down in this Directive should be prioritised over the other options, as it provides for a coordinated, Union-wide approach to dispute resolution, including clear and enforceable rules, a duty to eliminate double taxation and a fixed timeframe.
Amendment 14
Proposal for a directive
Recital 7 b (new)
(7b)   At present, it is unclear how this Directive relates to existing arbitration provisions in bilateral tax agreements and the existing Union Arbitration Convention. Therefore, the Commission should clarify those relations so that taxpayers can, if applicable, choose the procedure best fit for purpose.
Amendment 15
Proposal for a directive
Recital 7 c (new)
(7c)   A large number of double taxation cases involve third countries. Therefore, the Commission should strive to create a global framework, preferably within the context of the OECD. Until such OECD framework has been realised, the Commission should aim for a mandatory, instead of the current voluntary, and binding agreement procedure for all cases of potential cross-border double taxation.
Amendment 16
Proposal for a directive
Recital 10 a (new)
(10a)   The scope of this Directive should be extended as soon as possible. The Directive only provides a framework for the resolution of disputes regarding the double taxation of business profits. Disputes on the double taxation of income, such as pensions and salaries, have not been brought under its scope, while the impact on individuals can be significant. A different interpretation of a tax agreement by Member States can lead to economic double taxation, for example if one Member State interprets a source of income as salary while the other Member State interprets the same source of income as profit. Therefore, differences of interpretation between Member States in relation to the taxation of income should also be brought under the scope of this Directive.
Amendment 17
Proposal for a directive
Recital 11
(11)  The Commission should review the application of this Directive after a period of five years and Member States should provide the Commission with appropriate input to support this review,
(11)  The Commission should review the application of this Directive after a period of five years, including a determination of whether the Directive should continue to be applied or amended. Member States should provide the Commission with appropriate input to support this review. At the end of its review, the Commission should present a report to the European Parliament and the Council, including an assessment of the extension of the scope of this Directive to cover all cross-border double taxation situations and double non-taxation, and if appropriate, an amending legislative proposal,
Amendment 18
Proposal for a directive
Article 1 – paragraph 4
This Directive shall not preclude the application of national legislation or provisions of international agreements where it is necessary to prevent tax evasion, tax fraud or abuse.
This Directive shall not preclude the application of national legislation or provisions of international agreements where it is necessary to prevent tax evasion and avoidance, tax fraud or abuse.
Amendment 19
Proposal for a directive
Article 3 – paragraph 1
1.  Any taxpayer subject to double taxation shall be entitled to submit a complaint requesting the resolution of the double taxation to each of the competent authorities of the Member States concerned within three years from the receipt of the first notification of the action resulting in double taxation, whether or not it uses the remedies available in the national law of any of the Member States concerned. The taxpayer shall indicate in its complaint to each respective competent authority which other Member States are concerned.
1.  Any taxpayer subject to double taxation shall be entitled to submit a complaint requesting the resolution of the double taxation to each of the competent authorities of the Member States concerned within three years from the receipt of the first notification of the action resulting in double taxation, whether or not it uses the remedies available in the national law of any of the Member States concerned. The taxpayer shall submit the complaint to both competent authorities of the Member States concerned at the same time and indicate in its complaint to each respective competent authority which other Member States are concerned. The Commission shall host a central contact point in all official languages of the Union, which is easily accessible to the public with up-to-date contact information for each competent authority and a full overview of applicable Union legislation and tax treaties.
Amendment 20
Proposal for a directive
Article 3 – paragraph 2
2.  The competent authorities shall acknowledge receipt of the complaint within one month from the receipt of the complaint. They shall also inform the competent authorities of the other Member States concerned on the receipt of the complaint.
2.  Each competent authority shall acknowledge receipt of the complaint in writing and notify the competent authorities of the other Member States concerned within two weeks of receipt of the complaint.
Amendment 21
Proposal for a directive
Article 3 – paragraph 3 – point a
(a)  name, address, tax identification number and other information necessary for identification of the taxpayer(s) who presented the complaint to the competent authorities and of any other taxpayer directly affected;
(a)  name, address, tax identification number and other information necessary for identification of the taxpayer(s) who presented the complaint to the competent authorities and of any other taxpayer directly affected to the best of the complainant's knowledge;
Amendment 22
Proposal for a directive
Article 3 – paragraph 3 – point d
(d)   applicable national rules and double taxation treaties;
deleted
Amendment 23
Proposal for a directive
Article 3 – paragraph 3 – point e – point iii
(iii)  a commitment by the taxpayer to respond as completely and quickly as possible to all appropriate requests made by a competent authority and provide any documentation at the request of the competent authorities;
(iii)  a commitment by the taxpayer to respond as completely and quickly as possible to all appropriate requests made by a competent authority and provide any documentation at the request of the competent authorities with the competent authorities giving due consideration to any constraints on access to requested documents and any external time delays;
Amendment 24
Proposal for a directive
Article 3 – paragraph 3 – point f
(f)  any specific additional information requested by the competent authorities.
(f)  any specific additional information requested by the competent authorities relevant to the taxation dispute.
Amendment 25
Proposal for a directive
Article 3 – paragraph 5
5.  The competent authorities of the Member States concerned shall take a decision on the acceptance and admissibility of the complaint of a taxpayer within six months of the receipt thereof. The competent authorities shall inform the taxpayers and the competent authorities of the other Member States of their decision.
5.  The competent authorities of the Member States concerned shall take a decision on the acceptance and admissibility of the complaint of a taxpayer within three months of the receipt of the complaint and inform that taxpayer and the competent authorities of the other Member States in writing of their decision within two weeks.
Amendment 26
Proposal for a directive
Article 4 – paragraph 1 – subparagraph 1
Where the competent authorities of the Member States concerned decide to accept the complaint according to Article 3(5), they shall endeavour to eliminate the double taxation by mutual agreement procedure within two years starting from the last notification of one of the Member States’ decision on the acceptance of the complaint.
Where the competent authorities of the Member States concerned decide to accept the complaint according to Article 3(5), they shall endeavour to eliminate the double taxation by mutual agreement procedure within one year starting from the last notification of one of the Member States’ decision on the acceptance of the complaint.
Amendment 27
Proposal for a directive
Article 4 – paragraph 1 – subparagraph 2
The period of two years referred to in the first subparagraph may be extended by up to six months at the request of a competent authority of a Member State concerned, if the requesting competent authority provides justification it in writing. That extension shall be subject to the acceptance by taxpayers and the other competent authorities.
The period of one year referred to in the first subparagraph may be extended by up to three months at the request of a competent authority of a Member State concerned, if the requesting competent authority provides justification it in writing. That extension shall be subject to the acceptance by taxpayers and the other competent authorities.
Amendment 28
Proposal for a directive
Article 4 – paragraph 3
3.  Once the competent authorities of the Member States have reached an agreement to eliminate the double taxation within the period provided for in paragraph 1, each competent authority of the Member States concerned shall transmit this agreement to the taxpayer as a decision which is binding on the authority and enforceable by the taxpayer, subject to the taxpayer renouncing the right to any domestic remedy. That decision shall be implemented irrespective of any time limits prescribed by the national law of the Member States concerned.
3.  Once the competent authorities of the Member States have reached an agreement to eliminate the double taxation within the period provided for in paragraph 1, each competent authority of the Member States concerned shall within five days transmit this agreement to the taxpayer as a decision which is binding on the authority and enforceable by the taxpayer, subject to the taxpayer renouncing the right to any domestic remedy. That decision shall be immediately implemented irrespective of any time limits prescribed by the national law of the Member States concerned.
Amendment 29
Proposal for a directive
Article 4 – paragraph 4
4.  Where the competent authorities of the Member States concerned have not reached an agreement to eliminate the double taxation within the period provided for in paragraph 1, each competent authority of the Member States concerned shall inform the taxpayers indicating the reasons for the failure to reach agreement.
4.  Where the competent authorities of the Member States concerned have not reached an agreement to eliminate the double taxation within the period provided for in paragraph 1, each competent authority of the Member States concerned shall inform the taxpayers within two weeks indicating the reasons for the failure to reach agreement and informing the taxpayers of their options for appeal, with relevant contact information for the appeal bodies.
Amendment 30
Proposal for a directive
Article 5 – paragraph 1
1.  The competent authorities of the Member States concerned may decide to reject the complaint where the complaint is inadmissible or there is no double taxation or the three-year period set forth in Article 3(1) is not respected.
1.  The competent authorities of the Member States concerned may decide to reject the complaint where the complaint is inadmissible or there is no double taxation or the three-year period set forth in Article 3(1) is not respected. The competent authorities shall inform the taxpayer of the reasons for the rejection of the complaint.
Amendment 31
Proposal for a directive
Article 5 – paragraph 2
2.  Where the competent authorities of the Member States concerned have not taken a decision on the complaint within six months following receipt of a complaint by a taxpayer, the complaint shall be deemed to be rejected.
2.  Where the competent authorities of the Member States concerned have not taken a decision on the complaint within three months following receipt of a complaint by a taxpayer, the complaint shall be deemed to be rejected and the taxpayer shall be notified within one month of that three-month period.
Amendment 32
Proposal for a directive
Article 5 – paragraph 3
3.  In case of rejection of the complaint, the taxpayer shall be entitled to appeal against the decision of the competent authorities of the Member States concerned in accordance with national rules.
3.  In the event of rejection of the complaint, the taxpayer shall be entitled to appeal against the decision of the competent authorities of the Member States concerned in accordance with national rules. The taxpayer is entitled to make an appeal to either competent authority. The competent authority to whom the appeal is made shall inform the other competent authority of the existence of the appeal and the two competent authorities shall coordinate when processing the appeal. In the case of SMEs, if the appeal is successful, the financial burden shall be borne by the competent authority that initially rejected the complaint.
Amendment 33
Proposal for a directive
Article 6 – paragraph 2 – subparagraph 1
The Advisory Commission shall adopt a decision on the admissibility and acceptance of the complaint within six months from the date of notification of the last decision rejecting the complaint under Article 5(1) by the competent authorities of the Member States concerned. By default of any decision notified in the six month period, the complaint is deemed to be rejected.
The Advisory Commission shall adopt a decision on the admissibility and acceptance of the complaint within three months from the date of notification of the last decision rejecting the complaint under Article 5(1) by the competent authorities of the Member States concerned. By default of any decision notified within the three-month period, the complaint is deemed to be rejected.
Amendment 34
Proposal for a directive
Article 6 – paragraph 2 – subparagraph 2
Where the Advisory Commission confirms the existence of double taxation and the admissibility of the complaint, the mutual agreement procedure provided for in Article 4 shall be initiated at the request of one of the competent authorities. The competent authority concerned shall notify the Advisory Commission, the other competent authorities concerned and the taxpayers of that request. The period of two years provided for in Article 4(1) shall start from the date of the decision taken by the Advisory Commission on the acceptance and admissibility of the complaint.
Where the Advisory Commission confirms the existence of double taxation and the admissibility of the complaint, the mutual agreement procedure provided for in Article 4 shall be initiated at the request of one of the competent authorities. The competent authority concerned shall notify the Advisory Commission, the other competent authorities concerned and the taxpayers of that request. The period of one year provided for in Article 4(1) shall start from the date of the decision taken by the Advisory Commission on the acceptance and admissibility of the complaint.
Amendment 35
Proposal for a directive
Article 6 – paragraph 3 – subparagraph 1
The Advisory Commission shall be set up by competent authorities of the Member States concerned where they have failed to reach an agreement to eliminate the double taxation under the mutual agreement procedure within the time limit provided for in Article 4(1).
If the competent authorities of the Member States concerned have failed to reach an agreement to eliminate the double taxation under the mutual agreement procedure within the time limit provided for in Article 4(1), the Advisory Commission shall deliver an opinion on the elimination of double taxation pursuant to Article 13(1).
Amendment 36
Proposal for a directive
Article 6 – paragraph 4 – subparagraph 1
The Advisory Commission shall be set up no later than fifty calendar days after the end of the six-month period provided for in Article 3(5), if the Advisory Commission is set up in accordance with paragraph 1.
The Advisory Commission shall be set up no later than one month after the end of the three-month period provided for in Article 3(5), if the Advisory Commission is set up in accordance with paragraph 1.
Amendment 37
Proposal for a directive
Article 6 – paragraph 4 – subparagraph 2
The Advisory Commission shall be set up no later than fifty calendar days after the end of the period provided for in Article 4(1) if the Advisory Commission is set up in accordance with paragraph 2.
The Advisory Commission shall be set up no later than one month after the end of the period provided for in Article 4(1) if the Advisory Commission is set up in accordance with paragraph 2.
Amendment 38
Proposal for a directive
Article 7 – paragraph 1 – subparagraph 2
Where the competent authority of a Member State has failed to appoint at least one independent person of standing and its substitute, the taxpayer may request the competent court in that Member State to appoint an independent person and the substitute from the list referred to in Article 8(4).
Where the competent authority of a Member State has failed to appoint at least one independent person of standing and its substitute, the taxpayer may request the competent court in that Member State to appoint an independent person and the substitute from the list referred to in Article 8(4) within three months.
Amendment 39
Proposal for a directive
Article 7 – paragraph 1 – subparagraph 3
If the competent authorities of all Member States concerned have failed to do so, the taxpayer may request the competent courts of each Member State to appoint the two independent persons of standing in accordance with the second and third subparagraphs. The thus appointed independent persons of standing shall appoint the chair by drawing lots from the list of the independent persons who qualify as chair according to Article 8(4).
If the competent authorities of all Member States concerned have failed to do so, the taxpayer may request the competent courts of each Member State to appoint the two independent persons of standing in accordance with the second and third subparagraphs of Article 8(4). The Commission shall make details of the competent courts of each Member State clearly available in a central information point on its website in all official languages of the Union. The thus appointed independent persons of standing shall appoint the chair by drawing lots from the list of the independent persons who qualify as chair according to Article 8(4).
Amendment 40
Proposal for a directive
Article 7 – paragraph 2
2.  Appointment of the independent persons and their substitutes according to paragraph 1 shall be referred to a competent court of a Member State only after the end of the fifty-day period referred to in Article 6(4) and within two weeks after the end of that period.
2.  Appointment of the independent persons and their substitutes according to paragraph 1 shall be referred to a competent court of a Member State only after the end of the one month period referred to in Article 6(4) and within two weeks after the end of that period.
Amendment 41
Proposal for a directive
Article 7 – paragraph 3
3.  The competent court shall adopt a decision according to paragraph 1 and notify it to the applicant. The applicable procedure for the competent court to appoint the independent persons when the Member States fail to appoint them shall be the same as the one applicable under national rules in matters of civil and commercial arbitration when courts appoint arbitrators in cases where parties fail to agree in this respect. The competent court shall also inform the competent authorities having initially failed to set up the Advisory Commission. This Member State shall be entitled to appeal a decision of the court, provided they have the right to do so under their national law. In case of rejection, the applicant shall be entitled to appeal against the decision of the court in accordance with the national procedural rules.
3.  The competent court shall adopt a decision according to paragraph 1 and notify it to the applicant within one month. The applicable procedure for the competent court to appoint the independent persons when the Member States fail to appoint them shall be the same as the one applicable under national rules in matters of civil and commercial arbitration when courts appoint arbitrators in cases where parties fail to agree in this respect. The competent court shall also inform the competent authorities having initially failed to set up the Advisory Commission. This Member State shall be entitled to appeal a decision of the court, provided they have the right to do so under their national law. In case of rejection, the applicant shall be entitled to appeal against the decision of the court in accordance with the national procedural rules.
Amendment 42
Proposal for a directive
Article 8 – paragraph 1 – subparagraph 1 – point c
(c)  one or two independent persons of standing who shall be appointed by each competent authority from the list of persons referred to in paragraph 4.
(c)  one or two independent persons of standing who shall be appointed by each competent authority from the list of persons referred to in paragraph 4, excluding the persons proposed by their own Member State.
Amendment 43
Proposal for a directive
Article 8 – paragraph 1 – subparagraph 3 a (new)
Member States may decide to appoint the representatives referred to in point (b) of the first subparagraph on a permanent basis.
Amendment 44
Proposal for a directive
Article 8 – paragraph 3 – point b
(b)  where that person has, or has had, a large holding in or is or has been an employee of or adviser to one or each of the taxpayers;
(b)  where that person or a relative of that person has, or has had, a large holding in or is or has been an employee of or adviser to one or each of the taxpayers;
Amendment 45
Proposal for a directive
Article 8 – paragraph 4 – subparagraph 2
Independent persons of standing must be nationals of a Member State and resident within the Union. They must be competent and independent.
Independent persons of standing must be nationals of a Member State and resident within the Union, preferably officials and civil servants working in the field of tax law or members of an Administrative Court. They must be competent, independent, impartial and of high integrity.
Amendment 46
Proposal for a directive
Article 8 – paragraph 4 – subparagraph 3
Member States shall notify to the Commission the names of the independent persons of standing they have nominated. Member States may specify in the notification which of the five persons they have nominated can be appointed as a chair. They shall also provide the Commission with complete and up-to-date information regarding their professional and academic background, competence, expertise and conflicts of interest. Member States shall inform the Commission of any changes to the list of independent persons without delay.
Member States shall notify to the Commission the names of the independent persons of standing they have nominated. Member States shall specify in the notification which of the five persons they have nominated can be appointed as a chair. They shall also provide the Commission with complete and up-to-date information regarding their professional and academic background, competence, expertise and conflicts of interest. Such information shall be updated in the event of changes in the curriculum vitae of the independent persons. Member States shall inform the Commission of any changes to the list of independent persons without delay.
Amendment 47
Proposal for a directive
Article 8 – paragraph 4 – subparagraph 3 a (new)
The Commission shall check the information referred to in the third subparagraph concerning the independent persons of standing nominated by Member States. Such checks shall be carried out within three months of receipt of the information from Member States. Where the Commission has doubts as to the independence of the nominated persons, it can request a Member State to provide additional information and, if doubts remain, it may ask the Member State to remove that person from the list and appoint someone else.
Amendment 48
Proposal for a directive
Article 8 – paragraph 4 – subparagraph 3 b (new)
The list of independent persons of standing shall be publicly available.
Amendment 49
Proposal for a directive
Article 9 – paragraph 1
1.  The competent authorities of the Member States concerned may agree to set up an Alternative Dispute Resolution Commission instead of the Advisory Commission to deliver an opinion on the elimination of the double taxation in accordance with Article 13.
1.  The competent authorities of the Member States concerned may agree to set up an Alternative Dispute Resolution Commission instead of the Advisory Commission to deliver an opinion on the elimination of the double taxation in accordance with Article 13. The use of the Alternative Dispute Resolution Commission shall, however, remain as exceptional as possible.
Amendment 50
Proposal for a directive
Article 9 – paragraph 2
2.  The Alternative Dispute Resolution Commission may differ regarding its composition and form from the Advisory Commission and apply conciliation, mediation, expertise, adjudication or any other dispute resolution processes or techniques to solve the dispute.
2.  The Alternative Dispute Resolution Commission may differ regarding its composition and form from the Advisory Commission and apply conciliation, mediation, expertise, adjudication or any other effective and recognised dispute resolution processes or techniques to solve the dispute.
Amendment 51
Proposal for a directive
Article 9 – paragraph 4
4.  Articles 11 to 15 shall apply to the Alternative Dispute Resolution Commission, except for the rules on majority set out in Article 13(3). The competent authorities of the Member States concerned can agree on different rules on majority in the Rules of Functioning of the Alternative Dispute Resolution Commission.
4.  Articles 11 to 15 shall apply to the Alternative Dispute Resolution Commission, except for the rules on majority set out in Article 13(3). The competent authorities of the Member States concerned can agree on different rules on majority in the Rules of Functioning of the Alternative Dispute Resolution Commission, provided that the independence of the appointed persons to solve the disputes and the absence of any conflict of interests are ensured.
Amendment 52
Proposal for a directive
Article 10 – paragraph 1 – introductory part
Member States shall provide that within the period of fifty calendar days as provided for in Article 6(4), each competent authority of the Member States concerned notifies the taxpayers on the following:
Member States shall provide that within the period of one month as provided for in Article 6(4), each competent authority of the Member States concerned notifies the taxpayers on the following:
Amendment 53
Proposal for a directive
Article 10 – paragraph 1 – subparagraph 2
The date referred to in point (b) of the first subparagraph shall be set no later than 6 months after the setting up of the Advisory Commission or Alternative Dispute Resolution Commission.
The date referred to in point (b) of the first subparagraph shall be set no later than three months after the setting up of the Advisory Commission or Alternative Dispute Resolution Commission.
Amendment 54
Proposal for a directive
Article 10 – paragraph 3
3.  In absence or incompleteness of notification of the Rules of Functioning to the taxpayers, the Member States shall provide that the independent persons and the chair shall complete the Rules of Functioning according to Annex II and send it to the taxpayer within two weeks from the expiry date of the fifty calendar days provided in Article 6(4). When the independent persons and the chair do not agree on the Rules of Functioning or do not notify them to the taxpayers, the taxpayers can refer to the competent court of their state of residence or establishment in order to draw all legal consequences and implement the Rules of Functioning.
3.  In absence or incompleteness of notification of the Rules of Functioning to the taxpayers, the Member States shall provide that the independent persons and the chair shall complete the Rules of Functioning according to Annex II and send it to the taxpayer within two weeks from the expiry date of the one-month period provided for in Article 6(4). When the independent persons and the chair do not agree on the Rules of Functioning or do not notify them to the taxpayers, the taxpayers can refer to the competent court of their state of residence or establishment in order to draw all legal consequences and implement the Rules of Functioning.
Amendment 55
Proposal for a directive
Article 12 – paragraph 1 – introductory part
1.  For the purposes of the procedure referred to in Article 6, the taxpayer(s) concerned may provide the Advisory Commission or Alternative Dispute Resolution Commission with any information, evidence or documents that may be relevant for the decision. The taxpayer(s) and the competent authorities of the Member States concerned shall provide any information, evidence or documents upon request by the Advisory Commission or Alternative Dispute Resolution Commission. However, the competent authorities of any such Member State may refuse to provide information to the Advisory Commission in any of the following cases:
1.  For the purposes of the procedure referred to in Article 6, the taxpayer(s) concerned shall provide the Advisory Commission or Alternative Dispute Resolution Commission with any information, evidence or documents that may be relevant for the decision. The taxpayer(s) and the competent authorities of the Member States concerned shall provide any information, evidence or documents upon request by the Advisory Commission or Alternative Dispute Resolution Commission. However, the competent authorities of any such Member State may refuse to provide information to the Advisory Commission in any of the following cases:
Amendment 56
Proposal for a directive
Article 13 – paragraph 1
1.  The Advisory Commission or Alternative Dispute Resolution Commission shall deliver its opinion no later than six months after the date it was set up to the competent authorities of the Member States concerned.
1.  The Advisory Commission or Alternative Dispute Resolution Commission shall deliver its opinion no later than three months after the date it was set up to the competent authorities of the Member States concerned.
Amendment 57
Proposal for a directive
Article 13 – paragraph 2
2.  The Advisory Commission or Alternative Dispute Resolution Commission when drawing up its opinion shall take into account the applicable national rules and double taxation treaties. In the absence of a double taxation treaty or agreement between the Member States concerned, the Advisory Commission or Alternative Dispute Resolution Commission, when drawing up its opinion, may refer to international practice in matters of taxation such as the latest OECD Model Tax Convention.
2.  The Advisory Commission or Alternative Dispute Resolution Commission when drawing up its opinion shall take into account the applicable national rules and double taxation treaties. In the absence of a double taxation treaty or agreement between the Member States concerned, the Advisory Commission or Alternative Dispute Resolution Commission, when drawing up its opinion, may refer to international practice in matters of taxation such as the latest OECD Model Tax Convention and the latest United Nations Model Double Taxation Convention.
Amendment 58
Proposal for a directive
Article 14 – paragraph 1
1.  The competent authorities shall agree within six months of the notification of the opinion of the Advisory Commission or Alternative Dispute Resolution Commission on the elimination of the double taxation.
1.  The competent authorities shall agree within three months of the notification of the opinion of the Advisory Commission or Alternative Dispute Resolution Commission on the elimination of the double taxation.
Amendment 59
Proposal for a directive
Article 14 – paragraph 3
3.  Member States shall provide that the final decision eliminating double taxation is transmitted by each competent authority to the taxpayers within thirty calendar days of its adoption. When he is not notified with the decision within the thirty calendar day period, the taxpayers may appeal in its Member State of residence or establishment in accordance with national rules.
3.  Member States shall provide that the final decision eliminating double taxation is transmitted by each competent authority to the taxpayers within thirty calendar days of its adoption. When a taxpayer is not notified of that decision within the thirty-day period, that taxpayer may appeal in its Member State of residence or establishment in accordance with national rules.
Amendment 60
Proposal for a directive
Article 15 – paragraph 2
2.  The submission of the dispute to the mutual agreement procedure or to the dispute resolution procedure shall not prevent a Member State from initiating or continuing judicial proceedings or proceedings for administrative and criminal penalties in relation to the same matters.
2.  The submission of the dispute to the mutual agreement procedure or to the dispute resolution procedure shall prevent a Member State from initiating or continuing judicial proceedings or proceedings for administrative and criminal penalties in relation to the same matters.
Amendment 61
Proposal for a directive
Article 15 – paragraph 3 – point a
(a)  six months referred to in Article 3(5);
(a)  three months referred to in Article 3(5);
Amendment 62
Proposal for a directive
Article 15 – paragraph 3 – point b
(b)  two years referred to in Article 4(1).
(b)  one year referred to in Article 4(1).
Amendment 63
Proposal for a directive
Article 15 – paragraph 6
6.  By way of derogation from Article 6, Member States concerned may deny access to the dispute resolution procedure in cases of tax fraud, wilful default and gross negligence.
6.  By way of derogation from Article 6, Member States concerned may deny access to the dispute resolution procedure in cases of tax fraud established by a legally valid judgement in criminal or administrative proceedings, wilful default and gross negligence in the same matter.
Amendment 64
Proposal for a directive
Article 16 – paragraph 2
2.  The competent authorities shall publish the final decision referred to in Article 14, subject to consent of each of the taxpayers concerned.
2.  The competent authorities shall publish the final decision referred to in Article 14 in its entirety. However, in the event that any of the taxpayers argue that some specific points in the decision are sensitive trade, industrial or professional information, the competent authorities shall consider those arguments and shall publish as much of the decision as possible whilst deleting the sensitive parts. While protecting the constitutional rights of taxpayers, in particular as regards information, the publication of which would clearly and evidently reveal industrial and commercially sensitive information to competitors, the competent authorities shall endeavour to ensure maximum possible transparency through the publication of the final decision.
Amendment 65
Proposal for a directive
Article 16 – paragraph 3 – subparagraph 1
Where a taxpayer concerned does not consent to publishing the final decision in its entirety, the competent authorities shall publish an abstract of the final decision with description of the issue and subject matter, date, tax periods involved, legal basis, industry sector, short description of the final outcome.
deleted
Amendment 67
Proposal for a directive
Article 16 – paragraph 4
4.  The Commission shall establish standard forms for the communication of the information referred to in paragraphs 2 and 3 by means of implementing acts. Those implementing acts shall be adopted in accordance with the procedure referred to in Article 18(2).
4.  The Commission shall establish standard forms for the communication of the information referred to in paragraph 2 by means of implementing acts. Those implementing acts shall be adopted in accordance with the procedure referred to in Article 18(2).
Amendment 68
Proposal for a directive
Article 16 – paragraph 5
5.  The competent authorities shall notify the information to be published in accordance with paragraph 3 to the Commission without delay.
5.  The competent authorities shall notify the information to be published in accordance with paragraph 3 to the Commission without delay. The Commission shall make that information available in a commonly used data format on a centrally managed webpage.
Amendment 69
Proposal for a directive
Article 17 – paragraph 1
1.  The Commission shall make available online and keep up to date the list of the independent persons of standing referred to in Article 8(4), indicating which of those persons can be appointed as chair. That list shall contain only the names of those persons.
1.  The Commission shall make available online in an open data format and keep up to date the list of the independent persons of standing referred to in Article 8(4), indicating which of those persons can be appointed as chair. That list shall contain the names, affiliations and curriculum vitae of those persons and information relating to their qualifications and practical experience, accompanied by declarations regarding any conflicts of interest.
Amendment 70
Proposal for a directive
Article 21 a (new)
Article 21a
Review
By … [three years after the date of entry into force of this Directive], the Commission shall, on the basis of public consultation and in the light of the discussions with competent authorities, carry out a review on the application and the scope of this Directive. The Commission shall also analyse whether an Advisory Committee of a permanent nature ("Standing Advisory Commission") would further increase the effectiveness and efficiency of the dispute resolution procedures.
The Commission shall submit a report to the European Parliament and the Council, including, if appropriate, an amending legislative proposal.
Amendment 71
Proposal for a directive
Annex I – heading 5 – line 2 a (new)
Gewerbesteuer
Amendment 72
Proposal for a directive
Annex I – heading 12 – line 2 a (new)
Imposta regionale sulle attività produttive

(1) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0408.
(2) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0310.
(3) OJ L 225, 20.8.1990, p. 10.


EU action for sustainability
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European Parliament resolution of 6 July 2017 on EU action for sustainability (2017/2009(INI))
P8_TA(2017)0315A8-0239/2017

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the United Nations resolution on ‘Transforming our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development’, adopted at the UN Sustainable Development Summit on 25 September 2015 in New York(1),

–  having regard to the Agreement adopted at the 21st Conference of Parties (COP21) in Paris on 12 December 2015 (the Paris Agreement),

–   having regard to Article 3(3) and (5) of the Treaty on European Union (TEU),

–  having regard to Article 7 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), which reaffirms that the EU ‘shall ensure consistency between its policies and activities, taking all of its objectives into account’, and to Article 11 of TFEU,

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

–  having regard to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, ratified by the EU in January 2011,

–  having regard to the General Union Environment Action Programme to 2020 entitled ‘Living well, within the limits of our planet’(2),

–   having regard to the European Environment Agency (EEA) Report No 30/2016: the Environmental indicator report 2016,

–  having regard to its resolution of 12 May 2016 on the follow-up to and review of the 2030 Agenda(3),

–   having regard to the Strategic Note of the Commission’s European Political Strategy Centre of 20 July 2016 entitled ‘Sustainability Now! A European Voice for Sustainability’(4),

–  having regard to the EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2020(5), to its mid-term review(6) and to the European Parliament resolution of 2 February 2016 on the mid-term review(7),

–   having regard to the reports of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) International Resource Panel entitled: ‘Policy Coherence of the Sustainable Development Goals’ (2015), ‘Global Material Flows and Resource Productivity’ (2016) and ‘Resource Efficiency: Potential and Economic Implications’ (2017),

–   having regard to the Joint communication from the Commission and the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy of 10 November 2016 on ‘International ocean governance: an agenda for the future of our oceans’ (JOIN(2016)0049),

–   having regard to the Habitat III New Urban Agenda Agreement adopted in Quito on 20 October 2016,

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety and the opinions of the Committee on Development, the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development and the Committee on Culture and Education (A8-0239/2017),

A.  whereas the EU and its Member States have adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (hereinafter ‘the 2030 Agenda’), including the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs);

B.  whereas the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) represent a blueprint for a better society and world, deliverable through practical and measurable action and covering a number of issues including achieving better and more equal health outcomes, greater wellbeing and education of citizens, higher overall prosperity, action against climate change and the conservation of the environment for future generations, and as such must always be considered horizontally across all areas of the Union’s work;

C.  whereas future economic growth will only be possible by fully respecting the planetary boundaries in order to ensure a life of dignity for all;

D.  whereas the 2030 Agenda has a transformational potential and sets out universal, ambitious, comprehensive, indivisible and interlinked goals, aimed at eradicating poverty, fighting discrimination, and promoting prosperity, environmental responsibility, social inclusion and respect for human rights, and strengthening peace and security; whereas these goals require immediate action with a view to full and effective implementation;

E.  whereas the Commission has not yet established a comprehensive strategy to implement the 2030 Agenda encompassing internal and external policy areas with a detailed timeline up to 2030, as requested by the European Parliament in its resolution of 12 May 2016 on the follow-up to and review of the agenda, and has not fully taken up a general coordination role for the actions taken at national level; whereas an effective implementation strategy and a monitoring and review mechanism are essential in order to achieve the SDGs;

F.  whereas the 17 SDGs and 169 underlying targets touch on all aspects of the Union’s policy;

G.  whereas many of the SDGs directly concern the powers of the EU in addition to the national, regional and local authorities and their implementation therefore requires a true multi-level governance approach with an active and broad-based civil society engagement;

H.  whereas climate change is not a stand-alone environmental issue but presents, according to the UN(8), one of the greatest challenges of our time and poses a serious threat to sustainable development, and its widespread, unprecedented impacts place a disproportionate burden on the poorest and most vulnerable and increase inequality between and within countries; whereas urgent action to combat climate change is integral to the successful implementation of the SDGs;

I.  Whereas the Europe 2020 climate change and energy sustainability targets are: to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) by 20 %, to meet 20 % of EU energy demand with renewables, and to increase energy efficiency by 20 %; whereas the EU is committed to a reduction in domestic GHG emissions of at least 40 % by 2030 compared to 2005 levels, subject to a ratchet-up mechanism under the Paris Agreement; whereas Parliament has called for a binding 2030 energy efficiency target of 40 % and a binding renewable energy sources (RES) target of at least 30 %, and stresses that such targets should be implemented by means of individual national targets;

J.  Whereas the EU and its Member States are all signatories to the Paris Agreement, and as such are committed to working with other countries to limit the increase in global warming to well below 2 °C, and to pursue efforts to further limit it to 1,5 °C and therefore to attempt to limit the worst risks of climate change, which undermine the ability to achieve sustainable development;

K.  whereas healthy seas and oceans are essential to support abundant biodiversity, and provide food security and sustainable livelihoods;

L.  whereas the Commission is required, under the 7th Environment Action Programme (EAP), to assess the environmental impact, in a global context, of Union consumption of food and non-food commodities;

M.  whereas any appraisal of the current and future effectiveness of the SDG agenda in Europe should not only speak to the current successes, but also look to future efforts and schemes, and should also be based on a thorough assessment of the gaps between the EU’s policies and the SDGs, including areas where the EU does not meet the SDG targets, weak implementation of current policies and potential contradictions between policy areas;

N.  whereas, according to the EEA, it is highly likely that 11 of the 30 priority objectives of the EAP will not be achieved by the 2020 deadline;

O.  whereas the financing of the SDGs poses an enormous challenge which demands a strong and global partnership and the use of all forms of financing (from domestic, international, public, private and innovative sources), as well as non-financial means; whereas private financing can complement, but not substitute public funding;

P.  whereas effective mobilisation of domestic resources is an indispensable factor in achieving the objectives of the 2030 Agenda; whereas developing countries are particularly affected by corporate tax evasion and tax avoidance;

Q.  whereas promoting sustainable development requires resilience, which should be fostered by means of a multifaceted approach to the EU’s external action and by upholding the principle of policy coherence for development; whereas the Member States’ and EU’s policies have both intended and unintended effects on developing countries, and the SDGs constitute a unique opportunity to achieve more coherence and fairer policies towards developing countries;

R.  whereas international trade can be a powerful driver of development and economic growth and a large share of EU imports comes from developing countries; whereas the 2030 Agenda acknowledges trade as a means of achieving the SDGs;

S.  whereas addressing the challenge of migration and the demands of an increasing global population is essential for achieving sustainable development; whereas the 2030 Agenda emphasises the role of migration as a potential driver of development; whereas Article 208 of TFEU establishes the eradication of poverty as the primary objective of EU development policies;

1.  Takes note of the Commission communication on European action for sustainability, which maps existing policy initiatives and instruments at European level and serves as a reaction to the 2030 Agenda; stresses, however, the necessity of a comprehensive assessment, including policy gaps and trends, inconsistencies and implementation deficiencies as well as the potential co-benefits and synergies, of all existing EU policies and legislation in all sectors; underlines the need for coordinated action for this assessment at both European and Member State levels; calls, therefore, on the Commission, on the Council, in all its formations, and on the EU agencies and bodies, to pursue this work without delay;

2.  Highlights that the aim of the 2030 Agenda is to achieve greater well-being for all and that the three equal pillars of sustainable development, namely social, environmental and economic development, are essential for achieving the SDGs; underlines the fact that sustainable development is a fundamental objective of the Union as laid down in Article 3(3) of TEU and should play a central role in the debate on the future of Europe;

3.  Welcomes the Commission’s commitment to mainstreaming SDGs into all EU policies and initiatives, based on the principles of universality and integration; calls on the Commission to develop, without delay, a comprehensive short-, medium-, and long-term coherent, coordinated and overarching framework strategy on the implementation of the 17 SDGs and their 169 targets in the EU, recognising the inter-linkages and parity of the different SDGs by taking a multi-level governance and cross-sectoral approach; underlines, furthermore, the necessity of integrating all aspects of the 2030 Agenda into the European Semester and of ensuring Parliament’s complete involvement in the process; calls on the First Vice-President, who has cross-cutting responsibility for sustainable development, to take a lead on this; stresses the fact that the EU and its Member States have made a commitment to fully implementing all SDGs and targets, both in practice and in spirit;

4.  Recalls the importance of the underlying principle of the 2030 Agenda of ‘leaving no one behind’; asks the Commission and the Member States to take strong action in addressing inequalities within and between countries, as these magnify the impact of other global challenges and hinder progress on sustainable development; asks the Commission and the Member States to promote research and data disaggregation in their policies in order to ensure that the most vulnerable and marginalised are included and prioritised;

5.  Welcomes the Commission’s commitment to mainstreaming the SDGs into its Better Regulation agenda and underlines the potential of using the Better Regulation tools strategically in order to evaluate EU policy coherence with regard to the 2030 Agenda; calls on the Commission to establish an SDG check of all new policies and legislation and to ensure full policy coherence in the implementation of the SDGs, while promoting synergies, gaining co-benefits and avoiding trade-offs, both at European and Member State levels; underlines the need to include sustainable development as an integrated part of the overarching framework of impact assessments, not as a separate impact assessment as is currently the case according to the Commission’s Better Regulation toolbox; calls for the tools designed to measure and quantify medium- and long-term environmental outcomes in impact assessments to be improved; calls on the Commission, furthermore, to ensure that evaluations and fitness checks carried out within the framework of the Regulatory Fitness and Performance (REFIT) programme assess whether certain policies or legislation contribute to the ambitious implementation of the SDGs or actually hinder it; calls for the clear identification and differentiation of the governance level at which the targets should be implemented, while stressing that the principle of subsidiarity should be respected; calls for the establishment of clear and coherent sustainable development pathways at national and, if necessary, subnational or local levels for those Member States which have not done so already; stresses that the Commission should provide guidance for this process in order to ensure a harmonised format;

6.  Underlines that the 7th EAP is, in itself, a key instrument for the implementation of the SDGs, although action taken in some sectors is still not enough to ensure that the SDGs will be met; calls on the Commission and the Member States to take all the necessary steps to fully implement the 7th EAP, to incorporate in the evaluation of the 7th EAP an assessment of the extent to which its goals correspond to the SDGs and, by taking these outcomes into account, to come up with a recommendation for the successor programme; calls on the Commission to propose in a timely manner a Union Environmental Action Programme for the period after 2020, as required by Article 192(3) of TFEU, as such a programme will contribute to achieving the SDGs in Europe;

7.  Strongly urges the Commission to adhere to the governance agenda agreed upon in the Rio Declaration and in the 2030 Agenda, as well as in the 2002 Johannesburg Plan of Implementation (JPOI) and Rio+20 Outcome Document of the 2012 UN Conference on Sustainable Development;

8.  Considers that the Commission should encourage the Member States to promote the establishment or enhancement of sustainable development councils at national level, including at local level; and to enhance the participation and effective engagement of civil society and other relevant stakeholders in the relevant international forums and, in this regard, promote transparency and broad public participation and partnerships to implement sustainable development;

9.  Recognises that in order to meet the SDGs, multi-stakeholder engagement will be required from the EU, Member States’ local and regional authorities, civil society, citizens, business and third partners; calls on the Commission to ensure that the multi-stakeholder platform announced in its communication becomes a model of best practice for facilitating the planning, implementation, monitoring and review of the 2030 Agenda; stresses that the platform should mobilise the expertise of different key sectors, promote innovation and contribute to ensuring effective links with stakeholders, encouraging the bottom-up promotion of sustainable development; stresses, moreover, that the platform should be much broader in scope than a peer-learning platform and allow for a real engagement of stakeholders in the planning and monitoring of the implementation of the SDGs; calls on the Commission to promote synergies with other related platforms such as the REFIT platform, the Circular Economy Platform, the High Level Working Group on Competitiveness and Growth and the High Level Expert Group on Sustainable Finance, and to report to Parliament and the Council on how the recommendations of the platform will be followed up;

10.  Calls on the Commission to step up efforts to facilitate the governance of the SDGs to ensure the following:

   (i) Multi-sector: by setting up a national co-ordination structure responsible for the follow-up of Agenda 21 which would benefit from the expertise of NGOs;
   (ii) Multi-level: by establishing an effective institutional framework for sustainable development at all levels;
   (iii) Multi-actor: by facilitating and encouraging public awareness and participation by making information widely available;
   (iv) A focus on improving the science-policy interface;
   (v) Establishing a clear timetable that combines short-term and long-term thinking.

Asks the Commission, therefore, to ensure that the multi-stakeholder platform results not only in pooling, but also in the dissemination of working knowledge on SDGs, and to ensure that the platform influences the policy agenda. As such, requests that the Commission, with input from Parliament and the Council, create a multi-stakeholder platform that engages actors from across a range of sectors. Business and industry, consumer groups, trade unions, social NGOs, environment and climate NGOs, development cooperation NGOs and local government and city representatives should all be represented in a forum of no less than 30 stakeholders. The meetings should be open to as many actors as possible and designed to be expanded if interest increases over time. The platform should, in its quarterly meetings, identify issues which present impediments to delivering on the SDGs. Parliament should consider the establishment of a working group on the SDGs so as to ensure horizontal working within Parliament on the topic. This forum should consist of MEPs representing as many of the Committees as possible. The Commission and Parliament should both be active in the meetings of the multi-stakeholder platform meetings. The Commission should produce an update to the platform each year on its future plans to help with SDG implementation, as well as a document that would be accessible at all levels in all Member States about best practice in implementing SDGs ahead of the UN SDG high level meetings in June/July. The Committee of Regions should act as a bridge between local actors and national actors;

11.  Welcomes the increasing amount of institutional and private capital allocated to financing the SDGs and invites the Commission and the Member States to develop sustainable development criteria for EU institutional spending, to identify potential regulatory barriers and incentives to SDG investment and to explore opportunities for convergence and cooperation between public and private investments;

12.  Welcomes the potential contribution of the Environmental Implementation Review to the achievement of the SDGs through the improved implementation of the acquis in the Member States; warns, however, that this review should not be considered a replacement for other tools such as infringement procedures;

13.  Urges the Commission to develop effective monitoring, tracking and review mechanisms for implementing and mainstreaming the SDGs and the 2030 Agenda and calls on the Commission, in cooperation with Eurostat, to establish a set of specific progress indicators for the internal application of the SDGs in the EU; calls for the Commission to carry out annual reporting on the EU’s progress in SDG implementation; stresses that the Member States should be supported by the Commission in their coherent reporting; calls for Parliament to become a partner in the process, particularly in the second work stream post-2020, and calls for annual dialogue and reporting between Parliament, the Council and the Commission, culminating in the production of a report; urges that the results should be both transparent and easily understandable and communicable for a wide range of audiences; highlights the importance of transparency and democratic accountability when monitoring the 2030 Agenda and therefore underlines the role of the co-legislators in this process; considers that the conclusion of a binding interinstitutional agreement under Article 295 of TFEU would provide an appropriate arrangement for cooperation in this regard;

14.  Recalls that Member States are required to report to the UN on their performance with respect to the SDGs; emphasises that these Member State reports should be developed in cooperation with competent local and regional authorities; underlines that in Member States with federal or devolved levels of government it is necessary to detail the specific challenges and obligations of these delegated levels of government in achieving the SDGs;

15.  Calls on the Commission to promote sustainable global value chains with the introduction of due diligence systems for companies, with a focus on their entire supply chain, which would encourage businesses to invest more responsibly and stimulate a more effective implementation of sustainability chapters in free trade agreements, including in the areas of anticorruption, transparency, anti-tax avoidance and responsible business conduct;

16.  Considers that any future vision of Europe must embrace the SDGs as a key principle, and that in doing so Member States should be moving towards sustainable economic models, and the role of the EU in achieving sustainable development should therefore be at the heart of the reflections launched by the Commission’s White Paper of 1 March 2017 on the Future of Europe (COM(2017)2025), where a stronger dimension of sustainability in the context of economic growth is needed; considers that achieving the SDGs and 2030 Agenda is crucial for the EU and that achieving the SDGs should be Europe’s legacy to future generations; recognises that the 2030 Agenda is in line with the principles and values of the Union and that achieving the SDGs therefore naturally follows the European Union’s plans to create a better, healthier and more sustainable future for Europe;

17.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to build capacities for integrated assessment, technological and institutional innovation and financial mobilisation for the achievement of the SDGs;

18.  Recognises that most European countries, both EU and non-EU, are signatories to the SDG agreement; considers that, in the context of the debate on the future of Europe, consideration should be given to the development of a pan-European framework for the achievement of the SDGs among Member States of the EU and EEA, signatories to EU association agreements, EU candidate countries and, following its withdrawal, the United Kingdom;

19.  Stresses the role of the High-Level Political Forum in the follow-up and review of the SDGs, and calls on the Commission and Council to honour the EU’s leading role in designing and implementing the 2030 Agenda by agreeing joint EU positions and joined-up EU reporting, based on coordinated reporting from the Member States and the EU institutions, ahead of the High-Level Political Forum under the auspices of the General Assembly; invites the Commission to take stock of existing actions during the upcoming High-Level Political Forum and the specific SDGs that will be under review;

20.  Considers that the EU should be the global frontrunner of the transition to a low-carbon economy and a sustainable production-consumption system; invites the Commission to orient its science, technology and innovation (STI) policies towards the SDGs and calls on it to devise a communication on STI for sustainable development (‘STI4SD’), as recommended by the Commission Expert Group on the ‘Follow-up to Rio+20, notably the SDGs’, in order to formulate and support long-term policy coordination and cohesion;

21.  Stresses that science, technology and innovation are particularly important tools for implementing the SDGs; emphasises the need for Horizon 2020 and future framework programmes for research to integrate better the concept of sustainable development and societal challenges;

22.  Recalls that, as set out in its 12 May 2016 resolution, Parliament should have a clear role in the EU’s implementation of the 2030 Agenda;

23.  Welcomes recent initiatives to promote resource efficiency, inter alia through the promotion of waste prevention, reuse and recycling, limiting energy recovery to non-recyclable materials and phasing out landfilling of recyclable or recoverable waste, as put forward in the Circular Economy Action Plan and the proposal for new, ambitious EU waste targets, which will, inter alia, contribute to SDG 12 and the reduction of marine litter; recognises that achieving the SDGs and meeting the climate change targets in a cost-effective manner will require increases in resource efficiency and will, by 2050, reduce annual global GHG emissions by 19 % and the GHG emissions of the G7 nations by up to 25 % alone; points to the fact that 12 out of the 17 SDGs are dependent on the sustainable use of natural resources; highlights the importance of sustainable consumption and production by increasing efficiency and by reducing pollution, resource demand and waste; stresses the need to decouple growth, resource use and environmental impacts; calls on the Commission to draft a regular report on the state of the Circular economy that details its state and trends and enables existing policies to be modified on the basis of objective, reliable and comparable information; calls on the Commission, furthermore, to ensure that the circular economy delivers a significant drop in the use of virgin materials, a reduction in materials waste, longer lasting products, and the use of manufacturing by-products and excess materials previously considered waste streams; calls on the Commission to come up with an ambitious and comprehensive strategy on plastics while also adhering to the 2020 target for the environmentally sound management of chemicals, taking into account the objective on non-toxic materials cycles as laid down in the 7th EAP; considers that coordinated action at European level against food waste is crucial to SDG 2; underlines the EU target of reducing food waste by 50 % by 2030;

24.  Stresses that Decision No 1386/2013/EU indicates that the current systems of production and consumption in the global economy generate a large amount of waste which, combined with a growing demand for goods and services to the point of resource exhaustion, are contributing to the rise in price of essential raw materials, minerals and energy, while generating even more pollution and waste, increasing global greenhouse gas emissions, and accelerating soil degradation and deforestation; consequently, efforts need to be made on the part of the EU and its Member States to ensure the life-cycle assessment (LCA) of products and services so as to evaluate their real impact with regard to sustainability;

25.  Recalls that decoupling economic growth from resource consumption is essential for limiting environmental impacts and for improving Europe’s competitiveness and reducing its resource dependency;

26.  Stresses that in order for the EU to meet the goals of the 2030 Agenda it is essential that these are comprehensively reflected in the European Semester, including by addressing green jobs, resource efficiency, and sustainable investments and innovation; notes that a resource-efficient economy has great potential for job creation and economic growth, as by 2050 it would add an extra USD 2 trillion to the global economy and generate an extra USD 600 billion in the GDP of G7 countries;

27.  Calls on the Commission to emphasise to all stakeholders, including investors, trade unions and citizens, the benefits of transforming unsustainable productions into activities that make it possible to implement the sustainable development goals and the benefits of permanent retraining of the workforce with a view to green, clean, high-quality employment;

28.  Stresses the importance of meeting SDG 2 on sustainable agriculture and the SDGs on preventing pollution and the overuse of water (6.3 & 6.4), on improving soil quality (2.4 & 15.3), and on halting biodiversity loss (15) at EU level;

29.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to address the significant delays in achieving good water status under the Water Framework Directive, and to ensure the attainment of SDG 6; notes the EEA’s assessment that more than half of the river and lake water bodies in Europe have an ecological status that is classified as less than good and that water ecosystems are still experiencing the most significant deterioration and biodiversity decline; calls on the Commission to support innovative approaches to sustainable water management, including by unlocking the full potential of waste water, and applying the principles of circular economy in water management, by implementing measures to promote the safe reuse of waste water in agriculture and in the industrial and municipal sectors; emphasises that around 70 million Europeans experience water stress during the summer months; recalls, moreover, that approximately 2 % of the total population of the EU does not have full access to drinking water, which disproportionally affects vulnerable, marginalised groups; recalls, furthermore, that there are 10 deaths a day in Europe as a result of unsafe water and poor sanitation and hygiene;

30.  Welcomes the Commission’s joint communication for the future of our oceans, which proposes 50 actions for safe, secure, clean and sustainably managed oceans in Europe and around the world in order to meet SDG 14 – an urgent goal given the need for rapid recovery of European seas and global oceans;

31.  Stresses the environmental significance and socio-economic benefits of biodiversity and notes that according to the latest ‘Planetary boundaries’ report, current values of biodiversity loss have crossed the planetary boundary, while biosphere integrity is considered a core boundary which when significantly altered brings the earth system into a new state; notes with concern that the targets of the EU 2020 Biodiversity Strategy and of the Convention on Biological Diversity will not be met without substantial additional efforts; recalls that around 60 % of animal species and 77 % of protected habitats are in less than optimal conditions(9); calls on the Commission and the Member States to step up their efforts in order to achieve these targets, by, inter alia, fully implementing the Nature Directives and recognising the added value of the ecosystems and biodiversity of the European environment by allocating sufficient resources, including in future budgets for biodiversity conservation, in particular to the Natura 2000 network and the LIFE programme; reiterates the necessity for a common tracking methodology that takes into account all direct and indirect spending on biodiversity and the efficiency of that spending, while stressing that overall EU spending must have no negative impact on biodiversity and should support the achievement of Europe’s biodiversity targets;

32.  Stresses that the full implementation, enforcement and adequate financing of the Nature Directives is a vital prerequisite for ensuring the success of the biodiversity strategy as a whole and meeting its headline target; welcomes the Commission’s decision not to revise the Nature Directives;

33.  Urges the Commission and the Member States to quickly complete and bolster the Natura 2000 ecological network, while stepping up efforts to ensure that a sufficient number of special areas of conservation (SACs) are designated as such in accordance with the Habitats Directive and that a designation of that kind is combined with effective measures to protect biodiversity in Europe;

34.  Notes that research shows that unsustainable agriculture is a key driver of loss of soil organic carbon and soil biodiversity; calls on the EU to promote methods that build soil quality, such as rotations including legumes and livestock, thereby enabling the EU to meet SDGs 2.4 and 15.3;

35.  Considers that the EU must do much more to achieve SDG 15; urges the Commission, in particular, to prioritise the topic of environmental decontamination by proposing harmonised standards against the use and degradation of soil and by presenting as soon as possible the action plan against deforestation and forest degradation that has been announced several times and the time schedule for its implementation;

36.  Recognises that changes in soil biodiversity and soil organic carbon are mostly driven by land management practices and land use change as well as climate change, which has a severe, negative impact on entire ecosystems and society; calls on the Commission, therefore, to devote particular attention to soil-related issues in the forthcoming 8th EAP;

37.  Stresses that EU imports of soybean meal for animal nutrition contribute to deforestation in South America, thereby undermining the SDGs on deforestation, climate change and biodiversity;

38.  Calls on the Commission to step up efforts as a global player in protecting the important ecology and environment of the Arctic; strongly urges the Commission not to allow any policies which incentivise the exploitation of the Arctic for fossil fuels;

39.  Welcomes the focus on biodiversity, natural resources and ecosystems, and the acknowledged link between these elements and human health and well-being; stresses the need for a ‘One Health’ approach encompassing human, animal and environmental health, and recalls that investment in research and innovation aimed at developing new health technologies is an essential precondition for achieving the SDGs; urges the Commission to undertake an analysis very swiftly in order to respond to the OECD EU Health at a Glance publication, which shows that life expectancy has not risen in many EU Member States; notes that equitable access to high-quality healthcare is the key to sustainable health systems as it has the potential to reduce inequalities; stresses that more efforts are needed in order to address the multi-dimensional barriers to access at individual, provider and health system levels – and to continue to invest in innovation and medical research and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) with a view to developing health solutions that are accessible, sustainable and geared towards combating the global scourge of HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis meningitis, Hepatitis C and other neglected infectious diseases, which are often tied to poverty; points out that investing in global medical research and development is crucial for addressing emerging health challenges such as epidemics and resistance to antibiotics;

40.  Underlines the fact that the oceans economy, or ‘blue economy’, offers important opportunities for the sustainable use and conservation of marine resources, and that suitable capacity-building support for developing and implementing planning tools and management systems can enable developing countries to seize these opportunities; underlines the major role that the European Union must play in this regard;

41.  Recognises the nexus between the extraction of fisheries resources and conservation and trade; recognises, furthermore, that the opportunity cost of not acting to address harmful fishing subsidies is extremely high, as without action resources will be depleted, food insecurity will result and those sources of employment that were sought to be preserved will be destroyed;

42.  Recalls that the EU and its Member States are all signatories to the Paris Agreement, and are therefore committed to its objectives, which require global action; underlines the need to integrate the long-term decarbonisation objective to limit global warming to well below 2 °C, and to pursue efforts to further limit this increase to 1,5 °C;

43.  Recalls that the Commission proposal for the 2030 climate and energy framework sets three key targets for 2030: a reduction in GHG emissions of at least 40 %, at least 27 % of EU energy demand to be met with renewables and an improvement in energy efficiency of at least 30 %; recalls the positions taken by Parliament on these targets; underlines the need to keep these targets under review and to prepare a mid-century zero emissions strategy for the EU, providing a cost-efficient pathway, by taking into account the regional and national specificities within the EU, towards reaching the net zero emissions goals of the Paris Agreement;

44.  Calls for the EU and the Member States to effectively mainstream climate change mitigation and adaptation in development policies; highlights the need to encourage technology transfers for energy efficiency and clean technologies, and to support investments in small-scale, off-grid and decentralised renewable energy projects; calls for the EU to scale up its assistance to sustainable agriculture in order to cope with climate change, by means of targeted support for small-scale farmers, crop diversification, agro-forestry and agro-ecological practices;

45.  Notes that environmental degradation and climate change pose significant risks to establishing and maintaining peace and justice; recognises the need for a higher profile of the part that climate change and environmental degradation are playing in driving global migration, as well as poverty and hunger; calls for the EU and the Member States to maintain climate change as a strategic priority in diplomatic dialogues at global level, including in high-level bilateral and bi-regional dialogues with the G7, the G20, at the UN and with partner countries such as China in order to continue a positive and active dialogue that speeds up the global clean energy transition and avoids dangerous climate change;

46.  Recognises the work of the US-based Center for Climate and Security in identifying flashpoints between climate change and international security, which refers to climate change as a ‘threat multiplier’ which could demand greater humanitarian or military intervention and lead to more severe storms that threaten cities and military bases;

47.  Underlines the fact that energy poverty, which is often defined as a situation whereby individuals or households are not able to adequately heat or provide other required energy services in their homes at an affordable cost, is a problem across many Member States; stresses that energy poverty is due to rising energy prices, the recessionary impact on national and regional economies and poor energy efficient homes; recalls that according to the EU Statistics on Income and Living Conditions (EU-SILC), it is estimated that 54 million European citizens (10,8 % of the EU’s population) were unable to keep their home adequately warm in 2012, with similar numbers being reported with regard to the late payment of utility bills or presence of poor housing conditions; calls on the Member States to recognise and address this problem, as guaranteeing basic energy services is critical for ensuring that communities do not suffer negative health impacts, do not become further entrenched in poverty and can maintain a good quality of life, as well as for ensuring the financial outlay to assist households that require support does not become too burdensome; stresses that modern energy services are crucial to human well-being and to a country’s economic development; and yet globally 1,2 billion people are without access to electricity and more than 2,7 billion people are without clean cooking facilities; recalls, furthermore, that more than 95 % of these people live either in sub-Saharan African or developing Asia, and around 80 % live in rural areas; stresses that energy is central to nearly every major challenge and opportunity the world faces today; stresses that, be it for jobs, security, climate change, food production or increasing incomes, access to energy for all is essential, and that sustainable energy represents opportunity – it transforms lives, economies and the planet;

48.  Recommends a full integration of climate action across the EU budget (climate action mainstreaming), ensuring that measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are integrated into all investment decisions in Europe;

49.  Calls on the Commission to produce a report every five years, starting within six months of the 2018 facilitative dialogue under the UNFCCC, on the EU’s climate legislation, including the Effort Sharing Regulation and the ETS Directive, in order to ascertain that this legislation is effective in making the expected contribution to EU GHG reduction efforts and to establish whether the current trajectory for reductions will be enough to meet the SDGs and the goals of the Paris Agreement; further requests that the Commission revise and scale up the 2030 climate and energy framework and the EU’s nationally determined contribution by 2020 at the latest, so that they are sufficiently aligned with the long-term objectives of the Paris Agreement and the SDGs; calls for the Commission to incentivise the potential for GHG absorption by encouraging the development of policies that support afforestation with proper forest management practices, in view of the fact that the EU has, under the 2030 Agenda, committed to promoting the implementation of sustainable forest management, to halting deforestation, restoring degraded forests and increasing afforestation and reforestation globally by 2020;

50.  Underlines the fact that efforts to mitigate global warming are not an obstacle to economic growth and employment and that, on the contrary, the decarbonisation of the economy should be seen as a key source for new and sustainable economic growth and employment; acknowledges, nevertheless, that in moving towards any new economic and social model, communities centred around traditional industries are likely to face challenges; underlines the importance of support in this transition and calls on the Commission and Member States to stream funding from sources such as the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) in order to finance modernisation and a just transition to help such communities and to promote the adoption of the best technology and production practices to ensure the best environmental standards and safe, stable and sustainable work;

51.  Notes that continuous biodiversity loss, the negative effects of deforestation and climate change can lead to growing competition for resources such as food and energy, to increased poverty, global political instability, and population displacements and new global migration patterns; insists that the Commission, the European External Action Service (EEAS) and the Member States should consider these in all aspects of external relations and international diplomacy while ensuring a substantial increase in Official Development Assistance (ODA) financing; asks that the Commission, the EEAS and the Member States pursue, in all actions and interactions with third countries, efforts to reduce emissions by promoting renewable energy sources, resource efficiency biodiversity and forest protection, and by promoting climate change mitigation and adaptation;

52.  Calls on the Commission to ensure that EU external policies are compatible with the SDGs, and to identify areas where further action or implementation is needed to ensure that EU external policies support effective implementation of the SDGs and do not conflict with SDGs and their implementation in other regions, especially developing countries; calls on the Commission, to this end, to set in motion a reliable process starting with a foresight/early warning method for new initiatives and proposals, including the revision of existing legislation, and to come forward with a proposal for an overarching external Sustainable Development Strategy; emphasises the available tools and forums such as the European Fund for Sustainable Development (EFSD), the UNECE Regional Forum on Sustainable Development (RFSD) the High-Level Political Forum, and the UN central platform; calls for a voluntary review at the High-Level Political Forum in line with the 2030 Agenda, which encourages Member States to ‘conduct regular and inclusive reviews of progress’; emphasises the role of regular and adequate ex-ante impact assessments in this regard; recalls the Treaty obligation to take into account the objectives of development cooperation in all policies which are likely to affect developing countries;

53.  Underlines the importance of ODA as a key instrument for achieving the 2030 Agenda, for eradicating poverty in all its forms and fighting inequalities, while reiterating that development aid alone is not sufficient to lift developing countries out of poverty; stresses the need to promote instruments which encourage greater accountability, such as budget support; calls for the EU and its Member States to reconfirm their commitment without delay to the 0,7 % of the gross national income target and to submit detailed timeline proposals for gradually increasing ODA in order to achieve it; recalls the EU’s commitment to allocate at least 20 % of its ODA to human development and social inclusion and asks for a renewed commitment to this end; calls on the Commission to achieve the OECD Development Assistance Committee’s (DAC) recommendation of reaching an annual average grant element of total ODA commitments of 86 %; calls for ODA to be protected from diversion and for the internationally agreed development effectiveness principles to be respected, by retaining the fundamental ODA objective of poverty eradication, with a particular focus on least developed countries (LDCs) and fragile contexts; recalls the need to go beyond the donor/beneficiary relationship in a broader development agenda;

54.  Stresses that ensuring tax justice and transparency, fighting tax dodging, eradicating illicit financial flows and tax havens, together with improved public finance management, sustainable economic growth and increasing Domestic Resources Mobilisation, is crucial for financing the 2030 Agenda; calls for the EU to create a funding programme (DEVETAX2030) to specifically assist the establishment of tax structures in emerging market economies and to help developing countries to create new regional tax authority offices; reiterates its calls for a global financial transaction tax in order to tackle the global challenges of poverty, for an investigation into the spill-over impact on developing countries of all national and EU tax policies, and for the principle of PCD to be upheld when legislating in this field;

55.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to re-adjust their approach to migration with a view to developing a migration policy in line with SDG 10 and a fact-based perception of migrants and asylum-seekers and with countering xenophobia and discrimination against migrants, as well as with a view to investing in key drivers for human development; reiterates its concerns that the new policies and financial instruments to address the root causes of irregular and forced migration may be implemented to the detriment of development objectives, and asks for the European Parliament to be given a stronger scrutinising role in this regard so as to ensure that the new funding tools are compatible with the legal basis, principles and commitments of the EU, especially the 2030 Agenda; recalls that the primary objective of development cooperation is the eradication of poverty and economic and social long-term development;

56.  Welcomes the emphasis placed on investing in young people as the main implementers of the SDGs; stresses the need to harness the demographic dividend of developing countries by means of appropriate public policies and investment in youth education and health, including sexual and reproductive health and education; stresses the opportunity to finally advance gender equality and women’s empowerment as an essential element of PCD and urges the EU to mainstream these across all external action areas; recognises that these key enablers for human development and human capital need to be prioritised in order to guarantee sustainable development;

57.  Calls for the EU and its Member States to commit the necessary resources and political focus to ensure that the principle of gender equality and women’s and girls’ empowerment is at the core of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda;

58.  Presses the Commission and the Member States to ensure that public budgets do not conflict with the SDGs; considers that significant acceleration of green investment, innovation and growth in the EU is needed for the timely and successful implementation of the 2030 Agenda and recognises that new financing tools and different approaches to current investment policy, such as the phasing out of environmentally harmful subsidies and high-emission projects, are necessary; calls for a strategy for the integration of environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors by multinationals and businesses in their corporate business models and by institutional investors in their investment strategies in order to shift funds to sustainable finance and divest from fossil fuels;

59.  Calls for the post-2020 MFF to reorient the Union’s budget towards the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, ensuring that sufficient funding is allocated to effectively achieving the SDGs; calls for enhanced mainstreaming of sustainable development in all funding mechanisms and budgetary lines, reiterating that long-term policy coherence plays an important role in cost minimisation; highlights the significance of cohesion policy as the main investment policy of the EU, and recalls that a horizontal application of sustainability criteria and performance-based objectives for all EU structural and investment funds, including the European Fund for Strategic Investments, is needed in order to achieve a comprehensive transition to sustainable and inclusive economic growth;

60.  Calls on the European Investment Bank (EIB) to ensure that it lives up to the values of Europe in implementing strong sustainability criteria in its lending, and in particular that lending to the energy and transport sectors is targeted at low-carbon and sustainable projects;

61.  Calls on the EIB to commit 40 % of its lending portfolio to low-carbon and climate-resilient growth by 2030;

62.  Asks the EIB to allocate more funds to the ELENA initiative to provide grants for technical assistance focused on the implementation of energy efficiency, distributed renewable energy and urban transport projects and programmes;

63.  Recognises that resilient and sustainable infrastructure is a key principle of achieving a low-carbon sustainable future and brings a number of co-benefits such as durability and improved protection from fire and flooding; considers that a transition to a sustainable society can be achieved by adhering to the principle of ‘energy efficiency first’ and continuing to improve the efficiency of appliances, power grids and buildings while developing storage systems; recognises that the greatest potential for energy efficiency lies in buildings and asks the EU to commit to a 2050 goal of an entirely sustainable, decarbonised, energy-efficient building stock that has nearly zero energy demand and where any residual demand is supplied from a wide range of renewable sources; calls for an accelerated increase in the share of renewable energy in the EU energy mix; warns against the lock-in of unsustainable infrastructure and calls on the Commission to propose measures for an orderly transition to a sustainable low-carbon economy and a fundamental reorientation of infrastructure development in order to mitigate the systemic economic risks associated with high-carbon financial assets;

64.  Calls on the Commission and its Member States to prioritise sustainable mobility by improving local public transport systems in line with the specific characteristics of every country and on the basis of the real needs of its citizens; considers that EU financial support for the development of the transport sector and infrastructures should pursue objectives that bring real added value to the Member States;

65.  Underlines that corruption has a serious impact on the environment, and that trafficking in endangered species of wildlife, minerals and precious stones, as well as forest products such as timber, are also inextricably linked to corruption; underlines further that trafficking in wildlife can further threaten endangered species, while illegal logging can lead to a loss of biodiversity and increase carbon emissions, which contribute to climate change; stresses that for organised criminal groups the profits are good and come with little risk, as forest crimes are rarely prosecuted and the sanctions often do not match the gravity of the crime; recalls that the United Nations Convention against Corruption, with its comprehensive focus on corruption prevention, effective law enforcement, international cooperation and asset recovery, can be an effective tool for combating corruption in the environmental sector; calls on the Member States to integrate anti-corruption strategies such as transparency and accountability into environmental legislation and policies and to enhance democracy and good governance; stresses that tackling corruption in the environmental sector will help create equitable access to essential resources such as water and a clean environment and is essential for protecting our environment and ensuring sustainable development;

66.  Recognises the importance of culture and cultural participation to delivering on the SDG agenda, as well as the role played by culture in external relations and development policy; calls for proper support for cultural institutions and organisations in delivering on the SDG agenda as well as further deepening links between research, science, innovation and the arts;

67.  Recalls that cultural participation improves physical and mental health and well-being, positively impacts school and professional performance, helps people most at risk of social exclusion to enter the labour market, and thus contributes greatly to the achievement of many SDGs;

68.  Is deeply concerned at the differences in the performance of education systems in Member States, as shown by the latest PISA reports; stresses that properly resourced public education and training systems, accessible to all, are essential for equality and social inclusion and for meeting the targets set by SDG 4, and that quality education has the ability to empower vulnerable people, minorities, people with special needs and women and girls; regrets the persistent problem of high youth unemployment; notes that education is key to developing self-sustaining societies; calls for the EU to link quality education, technical and vocational training and cooperation with industry as an essential precondition for youth employability and access to qualified jobs;

69.  Calls for the EU and its Member States to protect regional, minority and lesser-used languages and linguistic diversity and to ensure that linguistic discrimination is not tolerated when integrating the SDGs into the European policy framework and current and future Commission priorities;

70.  Believes that cultural diversity and the protection of natural heritage should be promoted across the European policy framework, including through education;

71.  Calls on the Member States to prioritise the environmental and economic reconversion of industrial sites that in many areas of Europe cause high levels of pollution in environmental media and expose locals to serious health risks;

72.  Underlines the role that the EU Urban Agenda will play in implementing the global ‘New Urban Agenda’, and welcomes policy developments that empower cities and regions to make synergistic green investments; welcomes also initiatives such as the Green Leaf Award and the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy, and further emphasises the indispensable importance that cities and regions have in delivering on the SDGs, as sustainability requires collaborative and long-term approaches from all levels of governance and all sectors;

73.  Recalls that the 2030 Agenda recognises that we can no longer look at food, livelihoods and the management of natural resources separately; underlines that a focus on rural development and investment in agriculture – crops, livestock, forestry, fisheries and aquaculture – are powerful tools for ending poverty and hunger, and bringing about sustainable development; notes that agriculture has a major role to play in combating climate change; stresses that the great ambition of the SDGs can only be achieved through cooperation – North-South, South-South and triangular – and global partnerships between multiple actors and across a broad range of areas;

74.  Welcomes the intention to mainstream trade and investment policy which integrates sustainable development, and calls for the impacts of sourcing commodities and natural resources within and outside the EU to be better addressed in EU policy-making, within and beyond the EU’s borders; calls for a rethink of the investment policy and for the broad use of innovative financing tools for the achievement of the SDGs; calls on the Commission to ensure that sustainable development checks on future trade agreements are transparent;

75.  Calls on the Commission to design, with the involvement of relevant stakeholders, and provide, specific, tailored support for marginalised, low-income households and groups such as Roma people to ensure healthy lives and access to basic services and safe, clean natural resources such as air, water, affordable and modern energy and healthy nutrition, which would also contribute to attaining SDGs 1, 10 and 15 on ending poverty, reducing inequality and promoting peaceful and inclusive societies;

76.  Acknowledges, as in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, that persons with disabilities are at very high risk of living in poverty, with inadequate access to basic rights such as education, health and employment;

77.  Considers that EU initiatives geared towards creating a sustainable future cannot disregard the wider debate on the role of animals as sentient beings and their well-being, which is often neglected in the prevailing production and consumption systems; stresses that the EU needs to overcome the current political and legislative shortcomings with regard to animal welfare, as demanded by an increasing number of European citizens;

78.  Calls on the Commission to scale up efforts and funding for awareness raising, targeted education campaigns and enhancing citizens’ commitments and action for sustainable development;

79.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to end by 2020 incentives for palm-oil- and soy-based biofuels that lead to deforestation and peatland damage; calls furthermore for the introduction of a single certification scheme for palm oil entering the EU market that certifies the socially responsible origin of the product;

80.  Strongly urges the Commission to continue stepping up action on effective measures to tackle poor air quality, which is responsible for over 430 000 premature deaths in the EU every year; urges the Commission to ensure that new and existing legislation is enforced to speed up legal actions against Member States failing to comply with air pollution laws, and to propose new, effective legislation, including sector-specific legislation, to tackle poor ambient air quality and the various sources of pollution while also addressing methane emissions; underlines the fact that the EU is still far from achieving the air quality levels set for the EU, which are much less stringent than those recommended by the WHO;

81.  Notes that the Commission has addressed the problem of poor air quality by launching a number of infringement procedures, in particular against those continuously exceeding the NO2 limit values laid down in Directive 2008/50/EC;

82.  Points out that a reduction in noise pollution is one of the quality parameters that will not be achieved by 2020; stresses that, in the EU, exposure to noise contributes to at least 10 000 premature deaths per year related to coronary heart disease and stroke, and that in 2012 approximately a quarter of the EU population was exposed to noise louder than the limit values; calls on the Member States to prioritise monitoring noise levels and to ensure that the limit values for external and internal environments are respected; calls furthermore for measures to address noise pollution;

83.  Stresses that Commission data shows that over 50 % of EU cereals are used to feed animals; notes that the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation has warned that further use of cereals as animal feed could threaten food security by reducing the grain available for human consumption;

84.  Stresses the contribution that the livestock sector makes to the EU economy and to sustainable agriculture, particularly when integrated into arable production systems; draws attention to the potential of active nutrient cycle management in the livestock sector to reduce the environmental impact of CO2, ammonia and nitrate emissions; draws attention, furthermore, to the potential of integrated farming to contribute to a better functioning agricultural ecosystem and a climate-friendly farming sector;

85.  Notes that women working in farming in developing countries could increase farm yields by 20-30 % if they had the same access to resources as men; stresses that this level of yield could reduce the number of people who go hungry around the world by 12-17 %;

86.  Stresses, in particular, the fundamental role of women as members of family farms, which constitute the main socioeconomic cell of rural areas, in caring for food production, preservation of traditional knowledge and skills, cultural identity and protection of the environment, bearing in mind that women in rural areas are also affected by wage and pension gaps;

87.  Recalls that, under the 7th Environment Action Programme, the Commission is required to assess the environmental impact, in a global context, of Union consumption; stresses the positive impact that sustainable lifestyles can have on human health and reducing greenhouse gas emissions; reminds the Commission that SDG 12.8 requires that the public have information and awareness regarding sustainable development and lifestyles; accordingly, urges the Commission and the Member States to develop programmes to increase public awareness of the implications of different types of consumption for human health, the environment, food security and climate change; calls on the Commission to publish the communication on a sustainable European food system without delay;

88.  Notes that SDG 12.8 requires governments to ensure that people everywhere have the relevant information and awareness as regards sustainable development and lifestyle in harmony with nature; urges the Commission and the Member States, accordingly, to develop programmes to increase public awareness of the implications of consumption levels for human health, the environment, food security and climate change;

89.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to develop a comprehensive EU Policy Framework addressing global health challenges such as HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, Hepatitis C and antimicrobial resistance, bearing in mind the different situations and specific challenges of EU Member States and their neighbouring countries where the burden of HIV and MDR-TB is highest; calls on the Commission and the Council to play a strong political role in the dialogue with high-disease burden countries, including neighbouring countries in Africa, Eastern Europe and Central Asia, ensuring that plans for sustainable transition to domestic funding are in place, so that HIV and TB programmes will be effective, continued and scaled up after the withdrawal of international donors’ support and to continue to work closely with those countries in ensuring they take the responsibility and ownership of HIV and TB responses;

90.  Recognises the effectiveness in making available ‘PREP’ medication for preventing HIV/AIDS; further calls on the Commission and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) to recognise that for HIV/AIDS treatment is also preventative;

91.  Recognises that sexual reproductive health and rights (SRHR) are a key driver with transformative potential for multi-dimensional poverty eradication, and should be always recognised as a pre-condition for both healthy lives and gender equality; stresses, in this context, that greater attention must be paid to SRHR, which are unfortunately still treated as a niche issue, despite being of utmost importance for gender equality, youth empowerment and human development, and ultimately poverty eradication; underlines that this represents little progress from previous EU approaches, and that the recognition of SRHR as key drivers for sustainable development is still missing; notes that the EU position has been incoherent on this front, as shown in this package: the Commission recognises EU action in this domain only under ‘health’ in its communication on the 2030 Agenda, but only under ‘gender equality’ in the communication on the Consensus; calls on the Commission and the Member States therefore to continue to request that the United States rethink its stance on the so-called ‘global gag rule’;

92.  Stresses the need to continue promoting health research to develop new and improved accessible, affordable and suitable medical solutions to HIV/AIDS, TB and other poverty-related and neglected diseases, emerging epidemics and antimicrobial resistance;

93.  Points out that the EU farming sector is already making a contribution to sustainability; notes, however, that the common agricultural policy (CAP) must be enabled to better respond to current and future challenges; calls on the Commission to examine how the CAP and sustainable farming systems can best contribute to the SDGs in order to guarantee stable, safe and nutritious food as well as protecting and enhancing natural resources while tackling climate change; asks the Commission, in the framework of the upcoming communication on the post-2020 CAP, to come forward with proposals to further improve the efficiency of greening measures and to ensure the attainment of SDGs 2, 3, 6, 12, 13, 14 & 15; calls on the Commission also to promote locally and ecologically produced food with a low carbon, land and water footprint; highlights the importance of agro-ecosystems and sustainable forest management and of providing incentives for the sustainable restoration of disused agricultural areas; underlines the need to ensure that all EU policies effectively achieve the set objectives through strict compliance and through greater coherence across policy areas; stresses that this is of particular relevance with regard to the sustainable management of natural resources and the instruments dedicated to this under the CAP;

94.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to promote this agro-ecological transition, while minimising the use of pesticides that are detrimental to health and the environment and developing measures to protect and support organic and biodynamic agriculture within the scope of the CAP;

95.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to reform the EU rules on the approval of pesticides as soon as possible, and to establish binding objectives to reduce their use;

96.  Points out that the EU farming sector provides jobs for millions of people in rural areas in agriculture and in other sectors, guaranteeing food supplies and food security and attracting people to rural areas as a place in which to live, work and relax; points out, furthermore, that landscapes with a high biodiversity and high nature value attract people to the countryside, bringing added value to rural areas; notes the great value of rural development policy in building viable, robust and vibrant rural communities and economies; points out that better access for farmers to resources is essential in order to achieve this;

97.  Calls for farming to be developed by focusing on family holdings, with the aid of a better use of European funds such as the European Fund for Strategic Invesments (EFSI), and by paying special attention to small- and medium-sized holdings, by sharing and transferring expertise and by exploiting the advantages of local and regional value and production chains and regional employment, with greater emphasis on peri-urban links and direct sales, which have been a successful model in many parts of the EU; takes the view that the ability of farmers to generate fair remuneration from their labour is a prerequisite for the sustainability of European agriculture and a guarantee of farmers’ welfare;

98.  Recalls that it is important to guarantee proper public services, notably care for children and the elderly, given that such services are particularly important for women, since they have traditionally played a major role in looking after young and elderly family members;

99.  Points out the important role of traditional knowledge and foodstuffs, especially in outermost regions, mountain areas and disadvantaged areas of the EU, as well as the economic contribution that European quality schemes such as Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) bring to local areas; recalls Parliament’s unanimous support for extending such protection to a wider range of regionally produced goods; stresses, in this connection moreover, the role of EU quality schemes (PDO/PGI/TSG) in offering and maintaining livelihoods in those areas; recognises that these schemes are more widely known only in some Member States and calls for awareness to be raised across the Union on their advantages;

100.  Stresses the contribution of the Mediterranean forest and the dehesa agroforestry system – which seamlessly combines sustained, extensive livestock farming with farming and forestry activities – to the objectives of conserving and ensuring the sustainability of biodiversity, for the purposes of recognition and support under the CAP;

101.  Stresses the importance of bioenergy to farms and the bioeconomy, and of installations, for the generation, storage, distribution and on-farm use of renewable energy, as they help to secure farmers’ incomes by offering them an additional product to sell, and both create and preserve high-quality jobs in rural areas; stresses that the development of bioenergy must be pursued sustainably and must not hamper the production of food and feed; stresses that energy needs should instead be met by encouraging the use of waste and by-products that are not useful in any other process;

102.  Notes that growing leguminous crops in arable rotation can deliver a win-win situation for farmers, animals, biodiversity and climate needs; calls on the Commission to come forward with a protein plan that includes leguminous crops in rotation;

103.  Regards further progress in precision farming, digitalisation, the rational use of energy, plant and animal breeding and the mainstreaming of integrated pest management as necessary, because increased efficiency based on SDGs and biodiversity will help to reduce both the land requirement and the environmental impact of farming; considers that getting biodiversity to work for farmers could help to improve income, soil health and performance, and help with pest control and improving pollination; highlights, therefore, the importance of an improved regulatory framework so as to ensure timely, efficient and effective decision-making procedures; highlights that these ‘smart’ solutions should incentivise and support initiatives tailored to the needs of smallholdings without economies of scale to benefit from new technologies;

104.  Considers it essential to maintain and develop the performance of traditional and local breeds, given their ability to adapt to the characteristics of their native environment, and for the right of farmers to breed plants autonomously and to store and exchange seeds of different species and varieties to be respected, in order to ensure the genetic diversity of agriculture; rejects attempts of any kind to patent life, plants and animals, genetic material, or essential biological processes, especially where native strains, varieties and characteristics are concerned;

105.  Calls on the Commission to come forward with an action plan and to set up an expert group in order to work towards a more sustainable integrated plant protection management system; highlights the need for a pest management system that improves the interaction between plant breeding efforts, natural combat systems and pesticide use;

106.  Believes it necessary to promote broadband availability and improve transport services in rural areas, so as to contribute not only to the achievement of environmental sustainability objectives but also to the promotion of growth in rural areas that is fully sustainable in environmental, economic and social terms;

107.  Stresses that it is necessary to make culture an integral part of the Commission’s action for sustainability, clearly highlighting the role it plays in economic development, job creation, promoting democracy, social justice and solidarity, fostering cohesion, fighting social exclusion, poverty and generational and demographic disparities; calls on the Commission to mainstream culture in the objectives, definitions, tools and evaluation criteria of its strategy for the SDGs;

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

(1) A/RES/70/1.
(2) Decision No 1386/2013/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 November 2013 (OJ L 354, 28.12.2013, p. 171).
(3) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0224.
(4) https://ec.europa.eu/epsc/sites/epsc/files/strategic_note_issue_18.pdf
(5) Commission communication of 3 May 2011 entitled ‘Our life insurance, our natural capital: an EU biodiversity strategy to 2020’ (COM(2011)0244).
(6) Commission report of 2 October 2015 on the mid-term review of the EU biodiversity strategy to 2020 (COM(2015)0478).
(7) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0034.
(8) https://unstats.un.org/sdgs/report/2016/goal-13/
(9) EEA Report No 30/2016, Environmental indicator report 2016 — In support to the monitoring of the 7th Environment Action Programme: https://www.eea.europa.eu/publications/environmental-indicator-report-2016.


Promoting cohesion and development in the outermost regions of the EU
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European Parliament resolution of 6 July 2017 on promoting cohesion and development in the outermost regions of the EU: implementation of Article 349 of the TFEU (2016/2250(INI))
P8_TA(2017)0316A8-0226/2017

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to Article 52 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU), the first paragraph of which stipulates that the Treaties apply to the Member States, and the second paragraph of which stipulates that the territorial scope of the Treaties is specified in Article 355 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU),

–  having regard to Article 355(1) of the TFEU, as amended by the decisions of the European Council of 29 October 2010 amending the status with regard to the European Union of the island of Saint-Barthélemy (2010/718/EU) and of 11 July 2012 amending the status of Mayotte with regard to the European Union (2012/419/EU), which stipulates that the provisions of the Treaties shall apply to the ORs in accordance with Article 349 of the TFEU,

–  having regard to Article 349 of the of the TFEU, which confers special status on the ORs, provides for the adoption of ‘specific measures aimed, in particular, at laying down the conditions of application of the Treaties to those regions, including common policies’, and stipulates that these shall concern in particular, but not exclusively, ‘customs and trade policies, fiscal policy, free zones, agriculture and fisheries policies, conditions for supply of raw materials and essential consumer goods, State aids and conditions of access to structural funds and to horizontal Union programmes’,

–  having regard to Article 107(3)(a) of the TFEU, which states that aid to promote the economic development of the ORs may be compatible with the internal market,

–  having regard to Title XVIII of the TFEU, which establishes the objective of economic, social and territorial cohesion and specifies the structural financial instruments to achieve this,

–  having regard to Article 7 of the TFEU, which stipulates that the Union shall ensure consistency between its policies and activities, taking all of its objectives into account and in accordance with the principle of conferral of powers,

–  having regard to all the communications from the Commission on the ORs,

–  having regard to all its resolutions on the ORs, and in particular its resolution of 18 April 2012 on the role of cohesion policy in the ORs of the EU in the context of the Europe 2020 Strategy(1), and its resolution of 26 February 2014 entitled ‘Optimise the potential of outermost regions by creating synergies between the EU structural funds and other European Union programmes’(2),

–  having regard to the judgment of the Court of Justice of the European Union of 15 December 2015(3),

–  having regard to the Commission’s report of 15 December 2016 on the implementation of the scheme of specific measures for agriculture in favour of the outermost regions of the Union (POSEI) (COM(2016)0797),

–  having regard to the Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions on EU State Aid Modernisation (COM(2012)0209),

–   having regard to the memorandum signed in Cayenne by the ORs (5 March 1999), complemented by the joint memorandum of Spain, France, Portugal and the ORs signed in May 2010, which stipulates that the EU should promote the sustainable development of the ORs by building on the numerous natural and cultural assets of the ORs while promoting the principles of equal opportunities, partnership, proportionality and coherence of the EU policies,

–  having regard to the final declaration of the 21st conference of 22 and 23 September 2016 by the Conference of Presidents of the ORs and the Joint Memorandum signed at the Fourth Forum of the ORs of the European Union of 30 and 31 March 2017 in Brussels,

–  having regard to Commission Regulation (EU) No 651/2014 of 17 June 2014 declaring certain categories of aid compatible with the internal market in application of Articles 107 and 108 of the Treaty(4),

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Regional Development and the opinion of the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development (A8-0226/2017),

A.  whereas Article 349 of the TFEU recognises the special economic and social situation of the ORs, which is compounded by factors (remoteness, insularity, small size, difficult topography and climate, dependence on a few products, etc.) the permanence and combination of which severely restrain their development;

B.  whereas, in its landmark judgment of 15 December 2015, the Grand Chamber of the Court of Justice gave a thorough interpretation of Article 349 of the TFEU;

C.  whereas in that judgment, the Court confirms, above all, that legal acts with the aim of introducing specific measures for the ORs may be adopted on the legal basis of Article 349, that this legal basis makes it possible to derogate both from primary and from secondary law, and that the list of areas covered in the wording of Article 349 is not exhaustive, as ‘the authors of the FEU Treaty did not intend to lay down an exhaustive list of the types of measures that may be adopted on the basis of that article’,

D.  whereas, for the purpose of the application of the European Treaties to the ORs, Article 52 TEU and Articles 349 and 355 of the TFEU are linked, whereas under Article 355, first paragraph, (1) of the TFEU, the provisions of the Treaties apply to the ORs in accordance with Article 349 of the TFEU and whereas this reference to ‘the Treaties’ includes secondary legislation;

E.  whereas Article 349 of the TFEU must be read in conjunction with other articles of the Treaty, particularly Article 7, which stipulates that ‘the Union shall ensure consistency between its policies and activities, taking all of its objectives into account’;

F.  whereas the principles of equality and non-discrimination justify a difference in treatment in the case of distinct situations, in the interests, in the end, of equality in the application of European law,

G.  whereas the purpose of Article 349 of the TFEU is to ensure the development of the ORs, and their treatment both as part of European territory and as part of their own geographical regions, allowing them to benefit of European policies and where appropriate of specific measures adapted to their realities and needs;

H.  whereas the ORs have great geostrategic importance, and are crucial for purposes of research into climate change and biodiversity;

I.  whereas, according to the European Commission's estimates, the EU’s blue economy represents around 5.4 million jobs and a gross value added of around EUR 500 billion per year;

1.  Recalls that Article 7 TEU confers on the Commission the role of guardian of the Treaties; emphasises that the outermost regions are fully integrated into the European Union and assimilated to its legal order, with their specific situation acknowledged by the Treaties, particularly Article 349 of the TFEU that establishes a principle and a right of adaptation, addressed at the level of different Union policies;

2.  Stresses that while facing a significant disadvantage due to the geographical distance to the Union, the ORs benefit also from several important assets such as the potential of growing tourism related activities, blue growth, of exploiting significant renewable energy resources, of developing a circular economy, as well as building on their rich natural heritage and huge biodiversity;

3.  Takes the view that that Article 349 of the TFEU could be interpreted also in a more innovative and positive manner, particularly with a view to establishing ad hoc programmes and specific new policies, making use of the strong points of the ORs and giving them the means to make the most of them, particularly in areas such as renewable energies, blue growth, research and development, sustainable tourism, biodiversity protection and climate change adaptation; recalls in this context the role the Union is assuming with a view to enable the ORs to overcome their challenges and build on their assets, but stresses at the same time the necessity that the respective Member States assume more responsibility as regards the use of available EU instruments that can support them in ensuring a sustainable development of their ORs;

State of play concerning the application of Article 349 of the TFEU

4.  Expresses concern that the articles of the Treaties concerning the ORs have not so far been implemented to the fullest extent possible, limiting their capacity of taking full advantage of their belonging to the Union and increasing their competitiveness in their particular geographic areas;

5.  Considers that a broader implementation of Article 349 TFEU would help the ORs integrate more closely into the EU and develop and realise their potential in a way that takes full account of their specific characteristics and structural constraints but also of their assets;

6.  Recalls the political will of the legislators at the time of the drafting of Article 299, second paragraph, and then Article 349 TFEU of establishing an overall strategy accompanied by specific measures under different policies and instruments;

7.  Recalls that POSEI is a programme which takes full account of the special characteristics of the outermost regions, through a regulation of its own based both on Article 349 of the TFEU and on Articles 42(1) and 43(2), and recognises the dual principles of the ORs’ belonging to the Union and the full adaptation of a common European policy to the realities of the outermost regions; it is, therefore, crucial for such a programme to come to fruition and new POSEI programmes relating to other EU policies should be planned;

8.  Considers that the success of POSEI justifies retaining provisions specifically pertaining to the ORs rather than diluting them by spreading them across several cross-cutting programmes;

9.  Notes that several communications on the ORs have been adopted by the Commission; deplores the fact that the various European strategies for the outermost regions have so far been only partially implemented and fleshed out;

10.  Calls now on the Commission to put forward an action plan accompanied, if necessary, by legislative initiatives making it possible to implement a consistent and effective strategy with regard to the outermost regions, a plan which takes full advantage of the possibilities offered by Article 349 TFEU, particularly for the creation of specific programmes and policies –especially on innovation and long-term investment – appropriate to their sustainable development needs; emphasises the need to work in close cooperation with the regional authorities of the ORs and the stakeholders; calls, therefore, on the EU institutions, in concert with the regional authorities in the ORs, to open a new chapter in relations between the EU and the ORs

11.  Welcomes the work of the Commission on a renewed strategy on ORs which will be adopted latest end of 2017; calls on the Commission’s strategy to comprise a detailed approach to the ORs, detailed, targeted policy frameworks on investment needs and specific, achievable and measurable objectives; encourages France, Spain and Portugal to lend greater support to their ORs;

12.  Recalls that Article 349 of the TFEU enables the outermost regions to be given operating aid that is not limited in time and not progressively reduced, on the basis of flexible procedures, intended to offset the additional costs that they have to handle; recalls that those exemptions relate both to the EU’s financial instruments and to State aid;

13.  Stresses the need to ensure that the instruments, provisions and derogations adopted for the purpose of maintaining the stability conducive to the structural development of the outermost regions remain in force for a long time, paying due account to the assessments already conducted;

14.  Calls on the Commission to compile a precise overview of the approach to the outermost regions and to examine the economic and social situation of each OR so as to help realise EU regional development policy objectives, particularly making up for delays and achieving sustainable development, with a view to enabling the outermost regions to approach the average levels of development which exist in Europe;

15.  Calls on the Commission to step up coordination between its directorates-general in the areas concerning the ORs with a view to having an appropriate approach to outermost area issues in European policies and strategies; on that point, emphasises the crucial role of the Secretariat-General in ensuring that Article 349 of the TFEU is applied soundly, given the fact that adjusting EU policies to the special characteristics of the ORs entails decisions being taken at the highest political level;

Agricultural policy

16.  Welcomes the recent report by the Commission (COM(2016)0797), which concluded that the overall performance of the POSEI programmes (2006-2014) was positive, considers that that programme seems essential for the purpose of maintaining production by the ORs and that it accords with the new objectives of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), and recommends that the current basic regulation should remain in force, while bearing in mind the fact that budget adjustments might be required following the entry into force of any free trade agreements that might change or threaten to change the production of the ORs;

17.  Considers that POSEI has been very successful ever since it was established;

18.  supports the conclusion of the Commission’s report calling for the basic features of POSEI to be consolidated, so as to avert the danger that agricultural production might be abandoned, with all the harmful consequences which that would entail for employment, the environment and the territorial dimension of the ORs;

19.  Considers it necessary to provide better support for diversification of production in the ORs, and to introduce actions designed to resolve the market crises which certain sectors are facing, particularly the tomato and livestock sectors, and to facilitate the development of small-scale holdings, such as dairy product holdings;

20.  Recalls that the successive reforms of the common organisations of the market (COMs) have not paid sufficient attention to the specific characteristics of the ORs and urges for them to be better taken into account in future;

21.  Observes that the disappearance of quotas and guaranteed prices which began with the reform of the COM in sugar in 2005 is damaging cane sugar producers in the ORs; emphasises the need to place on a permanent footing all the specific instruments put in place within the framework of Article 349 of the TFEU in the interests of the sustainable competitiveness of this industry; calls for the establishment of a support scheme for sugar-cane growers in the event of a fall in world sugar prices;

22.  Calls on the Commission to take account of the crucial importance of milk production in the Azores, to maintain support to producers and to lay down additional measures in the event of a market crisis;

23.  Recalls that banana production plays a crucial role in the socio-economic fabric of some ORs; calls, therefore, for support for producers to be maintained and, where necessary, increased;

24.  Calls on the Commission to include, in its tools for managing and detecting market crises in agricultural sectors such as banana, sugar, rum, fisheries or milk, with the European Milk Market Observatory, a clear definition of a market crisis in the ORs, and to adapt its indicators to the actual situations in those regions;

25.  Deplores the fact that the different schemes applicable for organic certification in third countries and in EU Member States distorts competition on that market, to the detriment both of European producers operating in the ORs and of European consumers, who are misled regarding the actual conditions under which those products are produced; calls, therefore, within the framework of the negotiations in progress on the future European standards for the production and labelling of organic products, to replace compliance with the equivalence system currently in force, in order to guarantee fair competition between ORs and third countries;

26.  Considers it is necessary to adopt a legal framework, on the basis of Article 349 of the TFEU, for products under the organic label, and a legal framework concerning sanitary and phytosanitary issues that take into account the characteristics of agricultural in the ORs, in a tropical context;

27.  Calls on the Commission to encourage the farmers of the ORs to promote their high-quality products by supporting the use of the ORs logo, as well as other forms of quality certification;

28.  Highlights that product differentiation and specialisation can further stimulate and promote local production, the processing and marketing of foodstuffs and thereby reduce existing disparities between the ORs and other EU regions;

29.  Stresses, in the name of consistency of policies, the fact that the efforts made in the outermost regions to modernise and to render their industries competitive should not be undermined by free trade agreements signed between the EU and third countries;

EU trade policy

30.  Recalls that Article 207(3) of the TFEU requires agreements which are negotiated with third countries to be compatible with the Union’s policies and internal rules;

31.  Notes that the growing number of trade agreements with third countries, including the largest global producers of bananas and sugar, is changing the distribution of the market, creating pressure on prices and threatening the competitiveness of the EU producers of those goods;

32.  Considers, therefore, that the Union’s trade policy ought not to endanger the industries of the outermost regions, since they play a major role in economic, social and environmental terms;

33.  Calls for the trade negotiations conducted by the Union to duly take into account the specific characteristics of ORs and products that are sensitive to them, in particular bananas, sugar, rum, tomatoes and fishery products;

34.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to be painstaking and act with due care and attention in the defence of the interests of the ORs in the negotiations on Brexit;

35.  Urges the Commission, in line with the commitment made in its communication of 20 June 2012 to accompany ‘proposals for trade agreements, such as the Economic Partnership Agreements, with impact analyses’ which should, where relevant, ‘address the OR dimension’ and encompass the environmental, social, economic and territorial impact on ORs; calls for these impact analyses to measure, in addition, the cumulative effects of trade agreements on the outermost regions;

36.  Deplores the fact that to date no study has been conducted on the consequences of free trade agreements on the agricultural sectors of the ORs; deplores, too, the fact that the ORs have not been taken into account in the Commission’s report of 15 December 2016 on the cumulative economic impact of trade agreements contrary to the regulatory provisions laid down by POSEI;

37.  Calls for the Union’s trade policies to take into account the competitive disadvantages of the ORs; urges, in the event that they are crucial for the protection of products from the ORs, for tariff and non-tariff barriers to be maintained and for safeguard clauses and stabilisation mechanisms to be activated if the products of the outermost regions being seriously affected, or are at risk of this happening;

38.  Underlines the limits on the principle of equivalence, particularly for organic agriculture products, which makes it possible for products from third countries which are not in compliance with all the European requirements to enter the European Union; calls for the principle of compliance to be applied immediately and for inspection measures to be stepped up;

39.  Calls for the ORs to play a more important role in shaping the foreign policy of the European Union with their neighbouring countries, in an effort to bolster its foreign policy in the areas of poverty reduction, environmental sustainability, strengthening democracy, cultural exchange and gender equality;

Sustainable maritime policy, fisheries and blue growth

40.  Recalls that Article 349 of the TFEU stipulates that the Commission may propose measures specific to the ORs, also concerning fisheries policies;

41.  Asks the Commission to consider setting up a support system for sustainable fisheries in the ORs based on Article 349 TFEU, in the light of what is being done in the agricultural sector under the POSEI programme;

42.  Urges the Commission and the Council to implement all the measures set out in Parliament’s resolution of 27 April 2017 on the management of fishing fleets in the outermost regions(5),

43.  Calls on the EU to join forces with the ORs to become a world maritime power;

44.  Stresses that both the wealth of the oceans and the technological advances currently being made and to come in the future are able to open up unprecedented growth opportunities for the ORs; considers that sustainable ‘blue growth’ constitutes an opportunity to mitigate the structural inequalities between the ORs and continental Europe; considers, also, that it can help to make the ORs the focus of a future-centred European policy;

45.  Recalls that, in view of their location, the ORs hold an important position with regard to maritime governance, monitoring coastal waters, combating illegal fishing and improving transport safety;

46.  Encourages the Union and the Member States to further invest in the seas and oceans, especially in relation to the outermost regions, with a view to ensuring sustainable and efficient economic development of their exclusive economic zones;

47.  Welcomes the study launched by the Commission concerning the potential for sustainable blue development in the outermost regions and calls for a genuine European programme for the ORs addressing the challenges on food security, sustainable agriculture, marine and maritime research and the bio-economy; stresses, however, that some activities like the extraction of oil and gas located under the sea floor and the exploration for minerals from deep sea deposits may have severe impacts on sensitive marine areas, and disturb marine species and vulnerable ecosystems;

48.  Points out the importance of marine protected areas in the ORs;

Cohesion policy

49.  Recalls that Article 349 TFEU provides for specific access to structural funds for the outermost regions and that, on that basis, all the ORs should be regarded as ‘least developed regions’; welcomes the Commission's actions in favour of the Outermost regions within in a series of four Communications on the Outermost regions (2004, 2007, 2008 and 2012); stresses the importance of the EU financial support for all the outermost regions which amounts to EUR 13 billion for the 2014-2020 period;

50.  Reaffirms that cohesion policy must remain one of the key instruments of European action after 2020, especially with regard to the ORs, where regional disparities are still evident;

51.  calls on Member States, given the principle of subsidiarity and their responsibilities, to fully implement the pre-conditions, with regard, in particular, to investment in the areas falling within their jurisdiction, so that European funds and policies in the outermost regions perform as well as possible;

52.  Considers that, for the next programming period, more flexibility could be envisaged within the thematic concentration in the case of the outermost regions as regards defining some of their priorities for the use of the structural funds to ensure sustainable development; calls for the continuation of budget allocations to the ORs, of compensation of excess costs, and of all duly justified derogations intended to compensate them for their structural disadvantages;

53.  Calls, in the context of the next multiannual financial framework (MFF), for the strict application of the criteria laid down in the general regulation setting financial envelopes;

54.  Recalls the shared objective of twofold integration of the ORs; calls for all schemes concerned with cross-border cooperation between the ORs, EU overseas countries and territories (OCTs) and third countries in their geographical regions to be intensified and made operational, in particular by maintaining and improving synergies between the legal and financial provisions of the EDF and EFRD regulations;

55.  Stresses the importance of adjusting the European Territorial Cooperation strategies with a view to reducing the negative impact felt by the ORs as a result of their position on the EU’s outermost edges and to promoting networking;

56.  Recommends that more attention be paid, in the implementation of the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), to the ORs and the least developed and most isolated regions;

57.  Recalls, in the light of youth unemployment in the ORs, the need to intensify EU action to support and train young people in the ORs, particularly by means of the Youth Employment Initiative;

58.  Recalls that the most important fund for training and employment is the European Social Fund (ESF); calls on the Commission – in view of the structural nature and critical levels of unemployment in the ORs, and on the basis of Article 349 of the TFEU, which grants the ORs the right to specific access to the Structural Funds – to create an additional allocation within the framework of the ESF in order to support employability, mobility and training in the ORs;

59.  Emphasises the importance of continuing to promote research and innovation strategies for smart specialisation (RIS3) in the ORs as a central element in the implementation of cohesion policy;

60.  Recalls the importance of local development instruments such as community-led local development (CLLD) and integrated territorial investment (ITI) as a bottom-up approach to respond to local structural challenges while promoting community ownership; calls therefore on the Commission and the concerned Member States to explore ways of strengthening the use of CLLD as a flexible and innovative answer to the need for adaptation expressed by the ORs;

61.  Stresses the need to take into account demographic changes in the ORs as a determining factor in the definition of policies to benefit them, particularly as regards education, training and employment policies;

Competition policy and State aid

62.  Recalls that Article 349 of the TFEU stipulates that the Commission may propose measures specific to the ORs, particularly concerning customs and trade policies, fiscal policy, free zones, conditions for supply of raw materials and essential consumer goods and State aids;

63.  Recalls, furthermore, that Article 107(3) of the TFEU states that aid to promote the economic development of the ORs may be considered to be compatible with the internal market, in view of their structural, economic and social situation;

64.  Calls on the Commission to rely further on Articles 107(3)(a) and 349 of the TFEU in the Regional State Aid Guidelines and the GBER (General Block Exemption Regulation) in order to contribute to the economic and social development of the ORs and pay greater attention to them;

65.  Stresses that, given the remoteness and small size of their markets, strengthening the derogations to competition law obtained on the basis of Article 349 of the TFEU and Article 42 TFEU is not liable to affect trade between Member States, nor to destabilise the internal market;

66.  Deplores the fact that the initial proposals for simplifying the GBERs and RSAGs did not from the outset and upstream make any provision for altering the rules for the outermost regions so as to successfully ensure the economic development of the ORs;

67.  Calls on the Commission to step up its action to combat the large monopolies in the ORs, which contribute to the increase in the cost of living for local people, particularly in the sectors of imports that compete with the development of the local economy, energy, transport and telecommunications;

68.  Calls on the Commission to extend the exceptional tax regimes for the outermost regions beyond 2020, based on thorough assessment of their situation, while ensuring progress towards fair and efficient tax systems and stepping up efforts to combat tax fraud in the EU and third countries;

69.  Warns of trade practices such as those of clearance markets, which can destabilise the island micro-markets of local economies;

Research, the environment, education, culture, transport, energy and telecommunications

70.  Recalls that Article 349 of the TFEU stipulates that the Commission may propose measures specific to the ORs, also concerning the conditions governing their access to the Union’s horizontal programmes;

71.  Takes the view that cross-cutting EU programmes should provide for access conditions specific to the ORs so as to ensure their effective participation and to promote their assets by means of programmes such as Horizon 2020, Creative Europe, COSME or LIFE;

72.  Asks the Commission to integrate the outermost regions fully into the trans-European transport, energy and telecommunications networks;

73.  Recalls the need to make the sustainable energy autonomy of the ORs a priority; underlines that the ORs benefit from numerous advantages with regards to the development of renewable energies, energy efficiency and the circular economy;

74.  Points to the significant potential of developing research and innovation activities for a solid and sustainable development; calls for the ORs to be given better access to the ESI Funds and Horizon 2020, in order to better connect their universities, research centres and innovative companies, thus making them more attractive and promoting greater exchange between people and institutions, not only within the outermost regions, but also with the European continent and third countries;

75.  Points out the central role played by SMEs in the outermost regions with regard to economic and social development; calls on the Commission, therefore, to take better account of the situation of the ORs within the framework of the COSME programmes, or the EU employment and social innovation programme (EaSI);

76.  Considers that exchanges and cooperation between the ORs and neighbouring third countries in the fields of research and innovation, culture and education should be further promoted so as to promote their regional integration;

77.   Welcomes the fact that the new Erasmus+ programme encourages the mobility of students and youth entrepreneurs from the ORs by providing for the maximum amount of aid; calls for similar provisions to be included in the Creative Europe programme; wishes, however, for improvement in the way the common characteristics of the outermost regions are taken into account within the framework of the Erasmus programme, including through the promotion of exchanges between outermost regions; Deplores the fact that in spite of recital 37 of the Erasmus+ regulation, which states that ‘the constraints imposed by the remoteness of the ORs and the OCTs should be taken into account when implementing the Programme’, the amounts of the Erasmus travel allowances are often insufficient to cover the real costs of travel to the mother country for students receiving the allowance who come from the outermost regions;

78.  Calls on the Commission to extend the new mobility instrument targeting young people, ‘Move2Learn, Learn2Move’ to European citizens living in the ORs and to adjust the amounts paid to cover the travel costs offered to them to meet the real costs involved in travelling between the ORs and continental Europe; welcomes the Commission’s decision not to restrict this instrument to travel by rail only, which would marginalise young people from overseas;

79.  Notes that the Natura 2000 programme is not applicable to French ORs although they enjoy extraordinary biodiversity but are hit particularly hard by the effects of climate change; calls, therefore, for specific protection mechanisms to be set up and for the BEST preliminary action to be put on a permanent footing by creating a sustainable mechanism for funding projects on biodiversity, the promotion of ecosystem services and adaptation to climate change in European overseas countries and territories;

80.  Suggests that an impact study be carried out regarding the possibilities of applying the Natura 2000 programme to the French ORs, with a view to establishing the most appropriate tools for the protection of the biodiversity and environment of these regions;

81.  Recalls that the mid-term review of the EU Biodiversity Strategy published by the Commission in October 2015 and mentioned by the European Court of Auditors in the Special Report No 1/2017 concluded that, although significant progress has been made since 2011 in implementing the measures under Objective 1, the most significant challenges remain the completion of the marine element of the Natura 2000 network and the guarantee of effective management of the sites and funding needed to support the Natura 2000 network, both of which are important factors for ORs;

82.  Recalls that the European Court of Auditors in the Special Report No 1/2017 considered that significant progress was needed from the Member States and further efforts by the Commission to better contribute to the ambitious objectives of the EU's biodiversity strategy for 2020;

83.  Recalls that the European Court of Auditors in the Special Report No 1/2017 considered that ‘Further efforts are needed to implement the Natura 2000 network in order to fully exploit its potential’;

84.  Reiterates the role that better internet connectivity must play in territorial cohesion and in promoting equal opportunities, creating jobs and improving people’s living standards in the ORs;

85.  Invites the Commission to pay attention to the specific nature of the ORs when addressing matters relating to digital network coverage;

86.  Calls for the creation of a specific POSEI-type programme for transport to promote the territorial, social and economic cohesion of the regions and to reduce the isolation, or double isolation, of some ORs; stresses that this programme should provide for support for the transport of people and goods between the ORs and the continent, within the ORs themselves and between ORs that are close to each other, such as the Azores, Madeira and the Canary Isles; highlights that this programme should also promote trade between these regions;

87.  Emphasises that the outermost regions are important tourist areas and that investment in a high-quality, affordable transport system is essential, particularly with regard to the internal market;

88.  Calls on the European Union to commit decisively to making the ORs internationally accessible, through transport routes and infrastructure, not only to the European continent but also to neighbouring third countries and the rest of the world;

89.  Calls for a genuine European industrial strategy to be deployed in the ORs, generating jobs that cannot be outsourced, and based on the capacity of businesses to consolidate their local roots;

90.  Considers that the ORs could constitute prime areas for introducing pilot projects for measures to be applied horizontally across the Member States;

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91.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Member States and their regions and the Committee of the Regions.

(1) OJ C 258 E, 7.9.2013, p. 1
(2) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2014)0133.
(3) Judgment of the Court of Justice of 15 December 2015, Parliament and Commission v the Council, C-132/14 to C-136/14, ECLI:EU:C:2015:813.
(4) OJ L 187, 26.6.2014, p. 1.
(5) Texts adpoted, P8_TA(2017)0195.

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