Index 
Texts adopted
Tuesday, 12 September 2017 - StrasbourgFinal edition
Request for waiver of the immunity of Marie-Christine Boutonnet
 Appointment of Simon Busuttil to the panel set up under Article 255 of the TFEU
 EU-Iceland Agreement on the protection of geographical indications for agricultural products and foodstuffs ***
 EU-Iceland Agreement concerning additional trade preferences in agricultural products ***
 Implementation of the Mediation Directive
 The functioning of franchising in the retail sector
 A Space Strategy for Europe
 Academic further and distance education as part of the European lifelong learning strategy
 Repeal of obsolete regulations with regard to inland waterway and road haulage sectors ***I
 Promotion of internet connectivity in local communities ***I
 Measures to safeguard the security of gas supply ***I
 Whale hunting in Norway
 EU accession to the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence
 Impact of international trade and EU’s trade policies on global value chains

Request for waiver of the immunity of Marie-Christine Boutonnet
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European Parliament decision of 12 September 2017 on the request for waiver of the immunity of Marie-Christine Boutonnet (2017/2063(IMM))
P8_TA(2017)0317A8-0259/2017

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the request for waiver of the immunity of Marie-Christine Boutonnet, forwarded on 14 April 2017 by the Ministry of Justice of the French Republic, on the basis of a request made by the Prosecutor-General at the Paris Court of Appeal, and announced in plenary on 26 April 2017 in connection with a case pending before Examining Magistrates at the Paris Regional Court (“pôle financier”)pertaining to a judicial investigation on grounds of, inter alia, breach of trust in connection with funds received by virtue of the parliamentary assistant’s contract of a named individual,

–  having heard Jean-François Jalkh, replacing Marie-Christine Boutonnet, in accordance with Rule 9(6) of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to Article 9 of Protocol No 7 on the Privileges and Immunities of the European Union, and Article 6(2) of the Act of 20 September 1976 concerning the election of the members of the European Parliament by direct universal suffrage,

–  having regard to the judgments of the Court of Justice of the European Union of 12 May 1964, 10 July 1986, 15 and 21 October 2008, 19 March 2010, 6 September 2011 and 17 January 2013(1),

–  having regard to Article 26 of the Constitution of the French Republic,

–  having regard to Rule 5(2), Rule 6(1) and Rule 9 of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Legal Affairs (A8-0259/2017),

A.  whereas Examining Magistrates at the Paris Regional Court have requested the waiver of the parliamentary immunity of Marie-Christine Boutonnet in order to hear her in connection with a suspected criminal offence;

B.  whereas, pursuant to Article 9 of Protocol No 7 on the Privileges and Immunities of the European Union, Members of the European Parliament enjoy, in the territory of their own state, the immunities accorded to members of their national parliament;

C.  whereas Article 26 of the French Constitution states that ‘No Member of Parliament shall be arrested for a serious crime or other major offence, nor shall he be subjected to any other custodial or semi-custodial measure, without the authorisation of the Bureau of the House of which he is a member. Such authorisation shall not be required in the case of a serious crime or other major offence committed flagrante delicto or when a conviction has become final’;

D.  whereas the examining magistrates consider that the investigations conducted during the preliminary inquiry and the judicial investigation suggest that the initial suspicions raised by the European Parliament regarding a certain number of parliamentary assistants of Members of the European Parliament affiliated to the Front National may be justified;

E.  whereas, in particular, it appears that the Front National establishment plan published in February 2015 showed that it listed 15 Members of the European Parliament, 21 local parliamentary assistants and 5 accredited parliamentary assistants; whereas a certain number of parliamentary assistants declared that their place of employment was the headquarters of the Front National in Nanterre, in some cases indicating that they were employed there full-time; whereas most of the employment contracts of the parliamentary assistants described identical, general tasks, without entering into any detail;

F.  whereas the investigations also revealed three situations which made it seem unlikely that the assistants concerned were genuinely working on duties connected with the European Parliament:

   European parliamentary assistants’ employment contracts interspersed between two employment contracts for the Front National;
   European parliamentary assistants’ employment contracts for the European Parliament and employment contracts for the Front National running concurrently;
   employment contracts for the Front National concluded for periods immediately following periods covered by European parliamentary assistants’ employment contracts;

G.  whereas during a search conducted at the headquarters of the Front National in February 2016, a number of documents were seized in the office of the treasurer of the Front National, which bore witness to this party’s desire to make ‘savings’ thanks to the European Parliament’s defraying the remuneration of employees of the party by virtue of their capacity as parliamentary assistants;

H.  whereas the examining magistrates consider it necessary to hear Marie-Christine Boutonnet’s explanations concerning the funds received under the contract of a certain named parliamentary assistant; whereas that assistant was charged on 6 March 2017 with concealing a breach of trust between September 2014 and February 2015; whereas when questioned by the two examining magistrates, the assistant invoked his right to remain silent;

I.  whereas Marie-Christine Boutonnet refused to enter an appearance in response to the summonses from the investigators and the examining magistrates issued with a view to establishing whether she should be charged with a breach of trust between September 2014 and February 2015;

J.  whereas it appears that Marie-Christine Boutonnet has since been heard by the examining magistrates in Paris;

K.  whereas it is nonetheless appropriate to waive the immunity of the Member concerned, since only Parliament is entitled to waive a Member’s immunity;

L.  whereas there is clearly a case to answer the request for waiver of the immunity and there is no evidence of fumus persecutionis, particularly in view of the fact that proceedings are under way on the basis of similar charges against Members belonging to other Political Groups and of other nationalities;

1.  Decides to waive the immunity of Marie-Christine Boutonnet;

2.  Instructs its President to forward this decision and the report of its committee responsible immediately to the competent authority of the French Republic and to Marie-Christine Boutonnet.

(1) Judgment of the Court of Justice of 12 May 1964, Wagner v Fohrmann and Krier, 101/63, ECLI:EU:C:1964:28; judgment of the Court of Justice of 10 July 1986, Wybot v Faure and others, 149/85, ECLI:EU:C:1986:310; judgment of the General Court of 15 October 2008, Mote v Parliament, T-345/05, ECLI:EU:T:2008:440; judgment of the Court of Justice of 21 October 2008, Marra v De Gregorio and Clemente, C-200/07 and C-201/07, ECLI:EU:C:2008:579; judgment of the General Court of 19 March 2010, Gollnisch v Parliament, T-42/06, ECLI:EU:T:2010:102; judgment of the Court of Justice of 6 September 2011, Patriciello, C-163/10, ECLI: EU:C:2011:543; judgment of the General Court of 17 January 2013, Gollnisch v Parliament, T-346/11 and T-347/11, ECLI:EU:T:2013:23.


Appointment of Simon Busuttil to the panel set up under Article 255 of the TFEU
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European Parliament decision of 12 September 2017 proposing the appointment of Simon Busuttil to the panel set up under Article 255 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (2017/2132(INS))
P8_TA(2017)0318B8-0503/2017

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the second paragraph of Article 255 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU),

–  having regard to Rule 120 of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the proposal of its Committee on Legal Affairs (B8-0503/2017),

A.  whereas Simon Busuttil meets the conditions laid down in the second paragraph of Article 255 TFEU;

1.  Proposes that Simon Busuttil be appointed to the panel;

2.  Instructs its President to forward this decision to the President of the Court of Justice.


EU-Iceland Agreement on the protection of geographical indications for agricultural products and foodstuffs ***
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European Parliament legislative resolution of 12 September 2017 on the draft Council decision on the conclusion of the Agreement between the European Union and Iceland on the protection of geographical indications for agricultural products and foodstuffs (11782/2016 – C8-0123/2017– 2016/0252(NLE))
P8_TA(2017)0319A8-0254/2017

(Consent)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the draft Council decision (11782/2016),

–  having regard to the draft Agreement between the European Union and Iceland on the protection of geographical indications for agricultural products and foodstuffs (12124/2016),

–  having regard to the request for consent submitted by the Council in accordance with Article 207(4), first subparagraph, Article 218(6), second subparagraph, point (a)(v), and Article 218(7) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (C8‑0123/2017),

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

–  having regard to the recommendation of the Committee on International Trade (A8-0254/2017),

1.  Gives its consent to conclusion of the agreement;

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


EU-Iceland Agreement concerning additional trade preferences in agricultural products ***
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European Parliament legislative resolution of 12 September 2017 on the draft Council decision on the conclusion of the Agreement in the form of an exchange of letters between the European Union and Iceland concerning additional trade preferences in agricultural products (12146/2016 – C8-0129/2017 – 2016/0293(NLE))
P8_TA(2017)0320A8-0256/2017

(Consent)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the draft Council decision (12146/2016),

–  having regard to the draft Agreement in the form of an exchange of letters between the European Union and Iceland concerning additional trade preferences in agricultural products (12147/2016),

–  having regard to the request for consent submitted by the Council in accordance with Article 207(4), first subparagraph, and Article 218(6), second subparagraph, point (a)(v) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (C8‑0129/2017),

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

–  having regard to the recommendation of the Committee on International Trade (A8-0256/2017),

1.  Gives its consent to conclusion of the agreement;

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


Implementation of the Mediation Directive
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European Parliament resolution of 12 September 2017 on the implementation of Directive 2008/52/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 May 2008 on certain aspects of mediation in civil and commercial matters (the ‘Mediation Directive’) (2016/2066(INI))
P8_TA(2017)0321A8-0238/2017

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to Directive 2008/52/EC of the European Parliament and the Council of 21 May 2008 on certain aspects of mediation in civil and commercial matters(1) (the ‘Mediation Directive’),

–  having regard to the Commission report to the European Parliament, the Council and the European Economic and Social Committee on the application of Directive 2008/52/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council on certain aspects of mediation in civil and commercial matters (COM(2016)0542),

–  having regard to the compilation of in-depth analyses by its Directorate-General for Internal Policies entitled ‘The implementation of the Mediation Directive – 29 November 2016’(2),

–  having regard to the Commission study entitled ‘Study for an evaluation and implementation of Directive 2008/52/EC – the “Mediation Directive”’ of 2014(3),

–  having regard to the study by its Directorate-General for Internal Policies entitled ‘Rebooting the Mediation Directive: Assessing the limited impact of its implementation and proposing measures to increase the number of mediations in the EU’(4),

–  having regard to the European Implementation Assessment on the Mediation Directive by the Ex-Post Impact Assessment Unit of the European Parliamentary Research Service (EPRS)(5),

–  having regard to the study by its Directorate-General for Internal Policies entitled ‘Quantifying the cost of not using mediation – a data analysis’(6),

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

–  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 Legal Affairs (A8-0238/2017),

A.  whereas Directive 2008/52/EC has been an important milestone with regard to the introduction and use of mediation procedures in the European Union; whereas nevertheless its implementation has differed greatly among the Member States, depending on the prior existence or not of national mediation systems, with some Member States opting for a relatively literal implementation of its provisions, others for an in-depth revision of alternative ways to resolve disputes (such as Italy, for instance, which uses mediation at a rate six times higher than the rest of Europe), and others deeming their existing laws to be already in line with the Mediation Directive;

B.  whereas most Member States have extended the scope of application of their national transposing measures to domestic cases too – with only three Member States having chosen to transpose the Directive with respect to cross-border cases only(7),– which has had a decisively positive impact on the laws of the Member States and the categories of disputes concerned;

C.  whereas the difficulties which have emerged at the transposition stage of the directive largely reflect the differences in legal culture across the national legal systems; whereas priority should therefore be given to a change in the legal mind-set through the development of a mediation culture based on friendly dispute settlement – an issue that has repeatedly been raised by European networks of legal professionals since the inception of the Union directive and subsequently during its transposition by the Member States;

D.  whereas the implementation of the Mediation Directive has provided EU added value by raising awareness among national legislators of the advantages of mediation and bringing about a degree of alignment with regard to procedural law and diverse practices in the Member States;

E.  whereas mediation, as an alternative, voluntary and confidential out-of-court procedure, can be a useful tool for alleviating overloaded court systems in certain cases and subject to the necessary safeguards, since it can enable natural and legal persons to settle disputes out of court quickly and cheaply – bearing in mind that excessively long court proceedings violate the Charter of Fundamental Rights –, while ensuring better access to justice and contributing to economic growth;

F.  whereas the objectives stated in Article 1 of the Mediation Directive aimed at encouraging the use of mediation and in particular at achieving a ‘balanced relationship between mediation and judicial proceedings’ have clearly not been achieved, as mediation is used in less than 1 % of the cases in court on average in the majority of Member States(8);

G.  whereas the Mediation Directive has not created a Union system for out-of-court dispute resolution in the strictest sense, with the exception of the introduction of specific provisions in the field of expiration of limitation and prescription periods in legal proceedings when mediation is attempted and in the field of confidentiality obligations for the mediators and their administrative staff;

Main conclusions

1.  Welcomes the fact that in many Member States mediation systems have recently been subject to changes and revisions, and in others amendments to the applicable legislation are envisaged(9);

2.  Deplores the fact that only three Member States have chosen to transpose the directive with respect to cross-border cases only, and notes that certain difficulties exist in relation to the functioning of the national mediation systems in practice, mainly related to the adversarial tradition and the lack of a mediation culture in the Member States, the low level of awareness of mediation in the majority of Member States, insufficient knowledge of how to deal with cross-border cases, and the functioning of the quality control mechanisms for mediators(10);

3.  Stresses that all Member States make provision for the possibility for courts to invite the parties to use mediation or at least to attend information sessions on mediation; notes that, in some Member States, participation in such information sessions is obligatory, on a judge’s initiative(11), or in relation to specific disputes prescribed by law, such as family matters(12); indicates, likewise, that some Member States require lawyers to inform their clients of the possibility of using mediation, or that applications to the court confirm whether mediation has been attempted or whether there are any reasons which would stand in the way of such an attempt; notes however that Article 8 of the Mediation Directive ensures that parties that choose mediation in an attempt to settle a dispute are not subsequently prevented from having their day in court as a result of the time spent in mediation; highlights that no particular issue seems to have been raised by Member States in relation to this point;

4.  Notes also that many Member States provide financial incentives for parties to use mediation, either in the form of cost reductions, legal aid, or sanctions for unjustified refusal to consider mediation; observes that the results achieved in these countries prove that mediation can provide a cost-effective and quick extra-judicial resolution of disputes through processes tailored to the needs of the parties;

5.  Considers that the adoption of codes of conduct constitutes an important tool for ensuring the quality of mediation; observes in this regard that the European Code of Conduct for Mediators is either directly used by stakeholders or has inspired national or sectoral codes; observes also that most Member States have obligatory accreditation procedures for mediators and/or run registries of mediators;

6.  Regrets the difficulty of obtaining comprehensive statistical data on mediation, including the number of mediated cases, the average length and success rates of mediation processes; notes that without a reliable database it is very difficult to further promote mediation and increase public trust in its effectiveness; underlines on the other hand the increasing role of the European Judicial Network in civil and commercial matters in improving national data collection on the application of the Mediation Directive;

7.  Welcomes the particular importance of mediation in the field of family law (especially in proceedings concerning child custody, access rights and child abduction cases), where it can create a constructive atmosphere for discussions and ensure fair dealings between parents; notes, further, that amicable solutions are likely to be long-lasting and in the child’s best interests as they can address, in addition to the child’s primary residence, visitation arrangements or agreements concerning the child’s maintenance; highlights in this context the important role played by the European Judicial Network in civil and commercial matters in drawing up recommendations aimed at enhancing the use of family mediation in a cross-border context, in particular in child abduction cases;

8.  Stresses the significance of the development and maintenance of a separate section on the European e-Justice Portal dedicated to cross-border mediation in family matters and providing information on national mediation systems;

9.  Welcomes the Commission’s dedication therefore to co-financing various projects aimed at the promotion of mediation and training for judges and practitioners in the Member States;

10.  Stresses that, despite the voluntary nature of mediation, further steps must be taken to ensure the enforceability of mediated agreements in a quick and affordable manner, with full respect for fundamental rights, as well as Union and national law; recalls in that respect that the domestic enforceability of an agreement reached by the parties in a Member State is, as a general rule, subject to homologation by a public authority, which gives rise to additional costs, is time consuming for the parties to the settlement, and could therefore negatively affect the circulation of foreign mediation settlements, especially in cases of small disputes;

Recommendations

11.  Calls on the Member States to step up their efforts to encourage the use of mediation in civil and commercial disputes, including through appropriate information campaigns providing citizens and legal persons with appropriate, comprehensive information regarding the thrust of the procedure and its advantages in terms of economising time and money and to ensure improved cooperation between legal professionals for that purpose; stresses in this context the need for an exchange of best practices in the various national jurisdictions, supported by appropriate measures at Union level, in order to boost awareness of how useful mediation is;

12.  Calls on the Commission to assess the need to develop EU-wide quality standards for the provision of mediation services, especially in the form of minimum standards ensuring consistency, while taking into account the fundamental right of access to justice as well as local differences in mediation cultures, as a means to further promote the use of mediation;

13.  Calls on the Commission also to assess the need for Member States to create and maintain national registers of mediated proceedings, which could be a source of information for the Commission but also used by national mediators to benefit from best practices across Europe; stresses that any such register must be established in full compliance with the General Data Protection Regulation (Regulation (EU) 2016/679)(13);

14.  Requests that the Commission undertake a detailed study on the obstacles to the free circulation of foreign mediation agreements in the Union and on various options to promote the use of mediation as a sound, affordable and effective way to solve conflicts in internal and cross-border disputes in the Union, taking into account the rule of law and ongoing international developments in this field;

15.  Calls on the Commission, in its review of the rules, to find solutions in order to extend effectively the scope of mediation also to other civil or administrative matters, where possible; stresses, however, that special attention must be paid to the implications that mediation could have on certain social issues, such as family law; recommends in this context that the Commission and the Member States apply and implement appropriate safeguards in mediation processes to limit the risks for weaker parties and to protect them against any possible abuse of process or position by the more powerful parties, and to provide relevant comprehensive statistical data; underlines also the importance of ensuring that fair criteria are complied with in terms of costs, especially in order to protect the interests of disadvantaged groups; notes however that mediation may lose its attractiveness and added value if excessively stringent standards for the parties are introduced;

o
o   o

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

(1) OJ L 136, 24.5.2008, p. 3.
(2) PE 571.395.
(3) http://bookshop.europa.eu/en/study-for-an-evaluation-and-implementation-of-directive-2008-52-ec-the-mediation-directive--pbDS0114825/
(4) PE 493.042.
(5) PE 593.789.
(6) PE 453.180.
(7) See COM(2016)0542, p. 5.
(8) PE 571.395, p. 25.
(9) Croatia, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia and Spain.
(10) See COM(2016)0542, p. 4.
(11) For example in the Czech Republic.
(12) For example in Lithuania, Luxembourg, England and Wales.
(13) OJ L 119, 4.5.2016, p. 1.


The functioning of franchising in the retail sector
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European Parliament resolution of 12 September 2017 on the functioning of franchising in the retail sector (2016/2244(INI))
P8_TA(2017)0322A8-0199/2017

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its resolution of 11 December 2013 on the European Retail Action Plan for the benefit of all actors(1), and in particular paragraph 29 thereof,

–  having regard to its resolution of 7 June 2016 on unfair trading practices in the food supply chain(2),

–  having regard to the study of April 2016 commissioned by the IMCO Committee on franchising(3),

–  having regard to the study of September 2016 commissioned by the IMCO Committee entitled ‘Legal Perspective of the Regulatory Framework and Challenges for Franchising in the EU’(4),

–  having regard to the briefing entitled ‘Future Policy Options in Franchising in the EU: Confronting Unfair Trading Practices’(5),

–  having regard to the workshop entitled ‘Relations between franchisors and franchisees: regulatory framework and current challenges’, organised for the IMCO Committee on 12 July 2016,

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection and the opinion of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs (A8-0199/2017),

A.  whereas there is no common European definition of franchising and franchising agreements differ from one business to another, but one key feature of such relationships is a contractual partnership concluded on a voluntary basis between entrepreneurs or natural or legal persons that are legally and financially independent of each other, whereby one party (the franchisor) grants to the other party (the franchisee) the right to operate his franchising formula, name, and trademarks, and shares know-how, drawing on the franchisor’s technical and organisational expertise and assistance for the duration of the agreement, where customers rely upon the unity of the franchising system, the intention of both the franchisor and the franchisee being to allow for the rapid acquisition of new markets with limited investment and an increased chance of success;

B.  whereas in its resolution of 11 December 2013, Parliament welcomed franchising as a business model which supports new business and small-business ownership, but noted the existence of unfair contract terms in certain cases and called for transparent and fair contract terms; moreover, it drew the attention of the Commission and Member States, in particular, to problems faced by franchisees wishing to sell their business or change their business formula, whilst remaining active in the same sector and requested that the Commission examine the ban on price-fixing mechanisms in franchise systems and the effects of long-term competition clauses, purchase options and the prohibition of multi-franchising;

C.  whereas franchising has the full potential of being a business model that can help in completing the single market in the retail sector, as it can be a convenient means to establish a business through a shared investment by the franchisor and franchisee; is therefore disappointed that it is currently under-performing in the EU, representing only 1,89 % of GDP, as opposed to 5,95 % in the USA and 10,83 % in Australia, 83,5 % of franchising’s turnover being concentrated in only seven Member States(6), which is why it is important to encourage a wider dissemination of this business model throughout the EU;

D.  whereas franchising has a significant potential cross-border dimension, is of importance for the functioning of the internal market and can thus lead to job creation, SME and entrepreneurship development as well as the acquisition of new capabilities and skills;

E.  whereas existing legislation covering franchising as a business model varies widely between Member States, which creates technical barriers and may discourage both franchisors and franchisees from expanding their activities across borders; whereas this, in turn, can have an impact on final consumers by limiting their choice;

F.  whereas there are differences between ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ franchising, depending on the conditions of the franchising agreement; and, moreover, alternative business models such as ‘groups of independent retailers’ have special characteristics and should only be affected by rules governing franchising, insofar as they meet the definition of franchising;

G.  whereas there is a lack of information on the functioning of franchising across sectors, since relevant information is not written down or can often only be found in the side letters accompanying a franchise agreement, which are confidential, therefore not public, and at EU-level there is no mechanism for collecting information on potentially unfair contract terms or unfair implementation of contracts, which is why a platform containing this important information is needed in order to improve awareness among franchisors and franchisees of their duties and their rights;

H.  whereas e-commerce is expanding and is being used more and more by consumers and should therefore be better reflected in franchise agreements; whereas, in the context of the realisation of the digital single market specific attention should therefore be paid to any tensions arising between franchisors and franchisees with respect to e-commerce, for example, in relation to the right of exclusivity of the franchisee for a specific geographical area, and the increasing relevance of consumer data for the success of franchising business models, particularly as franchise agreements currently do not contain provisions on these subjects, leaving scope for unnecessary uncertainty and conflicts;

I.  whereas the Commission has defined unfair trading practices as ‘practices that grossly deviate from good commercial conduct, are contrary to good faith and fair dealing and are unilaterally imposed by one trading partner on another’(7);

1.  Considers that, given its current under-utilisation in the EU in comparison to other developed economies, for the completion of the single market in the retail sector, franchising can play an even more important role;

2.  Considers it important that the Member States apply effective measures against any unfair trading practices in the field of franchising, but notes that there is still a high degree of divergence and diversification between Member States in this respect; considers it important, therefore, that non-legislative homogeneous guidelines, reflecting best practices, on the functioning of franchising in the retail sector be put in place;

3.  Calls on the Commission to introduce guidelines on franchising contracts, in order to better shape the normative environment of franchising contracts ensuring compliance with labour standards and decent and high-quality service;

4.  Is of the view that, in view of the strong cross-border element of franchising, a uniform approach to correct unfair trading practices at EU level is advisable;

5.  Acknowledges that, on a national level, legislation has been enacted to protect franchisees, but the focus has been on the pre-contractual stage, to impose disclosure obligations on the franchisor; regrets that national systems have not provided for enforcement mechanisms which are efficient in ensuring the continuation of the franchise relationship;

6.  Notes that franchisees are often the weaker contracting party, especially when they are SMEs, as the franchise formula has normally been developed by the franchisor and franchisees tend to be financially weaker and may consequently be less well-informed than the franchisor and therefore dependent on the expertise of the franchisor; stresses the fact that franchise systems are heavily dependent upon the functioning co-operation of franchisor and franchisees, taking into consideration that the franchising system depends on good implementation by all parties;

7.  Recalls that franchising is a contractual relationship between two legally independent businesses;

8.  Stresses that regulation should maintain and increase market confidence in franchising as a way of doing business, as it encourages entrepreneurship not only in microenterprises and small and medium-sized enterprises that become franchisors, but also for individuals who become franchisees;

9.  States that franchisors have organised themselves both at national and European level for the representation of their interests, whereas franchisees often lack such representative organisations defending their collective interests, and continue to operate mostly on an individual basis;

10.  Calls on the Commission and Member States to encourage dialogue between franchisors, franchisees and decision-makers, to facilitate the creation of associations representing franchisees, and to make sure that their voices are heard, whenever policies or legislation are prepared that may affect them, in order to ensure more equal representation of the parties, while stressing that membership of these organisations shall remain optional;

11.  Emphasises that there is a persistent lack of information on the functioning of franchising in the retail sector and calls on Member States to designate, in co-operation with the Commission, contact points for information on problems encountered by franchisors and franchisees, whenever available, and calls on the Commission to improve the collection of information at EU level, based, inter alia, on information from these contact points, whilst guaranteeing the confidentiality of the information thus acquired;

12.  Calls on the Commission to examine the functioning of franchising in the retail sector, including the existence of unfair contract terms or other unfair trading practices, and to request Eurostat to pay attention to this model when collecting statistical information on the sector, without any additional administrative or other burdens for entrepreneurs;

13.  Takes note of the European Code of Ethics for Franchising, developed by the European Franchise Federation (EFF), as a potentially efficient tool for promoting best practices in the franchising sector on a self-regulatory basis, but also notes that the Code has been subject to fundamental criticism from franchisees pointing, inter alia, to the fact that the Code was worded more strongly in respect of the commitments of the franchisor prior to its revision in 2016; encourages franchisors and franchisees to ensure the balanced and fair representation of both sides in order to find an appropriate solution;

14.  Regrets, however, that the Code only covers a small minority of franchises operating in the EU, as the majority of franchises belong neither to the EFF nor the national associations that have adopted it, and several Member States do not have national franchise associations;

15.  Notes there are concerns about the lack of an independent enforcement mechanism accompanying the European Code of Ethics and notes that in some Member States this lack of independent enforcement prompted the introduction of legislation preventing and addressing unfair trading practices in franchising;

16.  Recalls that the Code of Ethics is a set of rules accepted by franchisors in addition to legally-required rules; believes that the Code of Ethics should always remain as added value for anyone willing to abide by these rules;

17.  Considers the need to evaluate the effectiveness of the self-regulatory framework and the EU supply chain initiative, as membership of the national franchise organisations is a pre-requisite for participation in this initiative;

18.  States that franchise agreements should fully respect the principles of balanced partnership, under which the franchisor and franchisee must be reasonable and fair towards each other and resolve complaints, grievances and disputes through frank, transparent, reasonable and direct communication;

19.  Calls on the Member States to submit to the Commission complaints and other relevant information they receive through a contact point or otherwise; calls on the Commission to draw up, on the basis of that information, a non-exhaustive list of unfair trading practices which should be published and made accessible to all interested parties; calls, moreover, on the Commission to set up, if necessary, an expert platform in order to obtain further information about retail franchising practice and, in particular, about any types of unfair trading practice;

20.  Points, in particular, to the need for specific principles to ensure the balanced contractual rights and obligations of the parties, such as clear, correct and comprehensive pre-contractual information, including information on the franchise formula’s performance, both general and targeted towards the franchisee’s envisaged location, and clear limits concerning confidentiality requirements, to be available in writing and with sufficient notice prior to the signing of the agreement, and the introduction of a cooling-off period after signing the agreement, where appropriate; points, also, to the need for continued commercial and technical assistance from the franchisor to the franchisee for the duration of the agreement, if needed;

21.  Emphasises the need for specialised initial training where necessary and appropriate guidance by and information from the franchisor for franchisees during the term of the agreement;

22.  Recalls the obligation of franchisees to devote their best endeavours to the growth of the franchise business and to the maintenance of the common identity and reputation of the franchise network, and to this effect to collaborate loyally with all partners in the network and to respect the industrial and intellectual property rights involved in the franchise formula, as well as competition rules;

23.  Adds, however, that sometimes franchisors require franchisees to purchase products and services that are not related to the franchise formula; such a requirement should not be seen as part of the obligation of franchisees relating to the maintenance and common identity and reputation of the franchise network, but can easily constitute an unfair trading practice;

24.  Emphasises that non-competition clauses should be clearly formulated, reasonable and proportionate and should not apply for a longer duration than what is strictly necessary, considering, in particular, the potential need for franchisees to change their franchise formula, if their neighbourhood and therefore the demand for products or services changes;

25.  Notes the issues arising around online sales, as these constitute an increasingly important part of the franchise business model, but are not covered in traditional franchise agreements, which do not take into account the effect internet sales may have on the provisions set out in them; suggests, therefore, the inclusion of provisions relating to online sales in franchise agreements, where appropriate, in particular in those cases where the power of the franchisor and the franchisee is imbalanced, notably when the franchisee is an SME;

26.  Requests the Commission to open a public consultation in order to obtain unbiased information as to the real situation in franchising and to draft non-legislative guidelines, reflecting best practices, on the functioning of franchising in the retail sector, in particular in relation to the latest technological and market developments, such as internet sales, and to submit these to Parliament by January 2018 at the latest; invites the Commission in this respect to make an analysis of the existing self-regulatory instruments as well as of legislative practices of Member States in the field of franchising in the retail sector and to submit its findings to Parliament, including recommendations on how to further develop the franchising sector in the EU;

27.  Stresses that Parliament should be actively involved in all work on franchising in the retail sector, including when regulations and directives on franchising are adapted in order to achieve a more consistent and coherent regulatory framework;

Competition law

28.  Emphasises that Commission Regulation (EU) No 330/2010 of 20 April 2010 on the application of Article 101(3) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union to categories of vertical agreements and concerted practices(8) must be uniformly applied in the Member States and regrets the lack of information about its application;

29.  Considers that the Commission should check whether the effectiveness of that Regulation is not being undermined as a result of uneven application in the Member States and whether it is in line with recent market developments, in particular the exempted post-contractual clauses and purchasing conditions;

30.  Considers that the Commission should check to what extent application of the Regulation could be improved through a mechanism of assessment within the European network of competition authorities; stresses that inconsistent follow-up action by the Commission prevents cross-border retail activity and fails to create a level playing field within the single market;

31.  Believes that better implementation of the Regulation at national level would improve distribution, increase market access for other Member States’ businesses and eventually provide a better deal for end consumers;

32.  Believes that the Commission should also analyse the unintended impact of competition law in each and every Member State;

33.  Encourages the Commission to start public consultations and inform Parliament of the suitability of the model on which the future block exemption regulation will be based;

34.  Calls on the Commission also to ensure the recovery of any illegal state aid by means of tax advantages in the area of franchising and to show firmness in the conduct of ongoing inquiries; stresses, moreover, that the EU needs to have clearer legislation on tax rulings; calls on the Commission to rectify any infringement in the area of franchising with a view to ensuring fair competition across the single market;

35.  Calls on the Commission to correct market failures and ensure an effective fight against tax evasion and tax avoidance in the field of franchising;

36.  Calls on the Commission to check whether it is necessary to revise the Regulation and, in that connection, to verify and inform Parliament as regards (1) the impact of the horizontal approach on the functioning of franchising; (2) whether the model of franchising adopted in the Regulation reflects market reality; (3) to what extent the so-called ‘permitted vertical restraints’, i.e. the conditions under which the franchisees may purchase, sell or resell certain goods or services are proportionate and have a negative effect on the market and consumers; (4) what new challenges franchisors and franchisees have to face in the context of e-commerce and digitisation in general; and (5) to collect market information in terms of new trends, market developments regarding network organisation and technological advances;

37.  Calls on the Commission to revise the rules on the enforcement of the Regulation by Member States, while its application should be proportionally adjusted to fulfil its aim;

o
o   o

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

(1) OJ C 468, 15.12.2016, p. 140.
(2) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0250.
(3) IP/A/IMCO/2015-05, PE 578.978.
(4) IP/A/IMCO/2016-08, PE 587.317.
(5) PE 587.325.
(6) ‘Legal perspective of the regulatory framework and challenges for franchising in the EU’, study for the IMCO Committee, September 2016, p. 12.
(7) ‘Tackling unfair trading practices in the business-to-business food supply chain’, COM(2014)0472.
(8) OJ L 102, 23.4.2010, p. 1.


A Space Strategy for Europe
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European Parliament resolution of 12 September 2017 on a Space Strategy for Europe (2016/2325(INI))
P8_TA(2017)0323A8-0250/2017

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to Article 4, and to Article 189 of Title XIX, of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU),

—  having regard to the Commission communication of 26 October 2016 entitled ‘Space Strategy for Europe’ (COM(2016)0705),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 28 February 2013 entitled ‘EU space industrial policy’ (COM(2013)0108),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 4 April 2011 entitled ‘Towards a space strategy for the European Union that benefits its citizens’ (COM(2011)0152),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 14 September 2016 entitled ‘Connectivity for a Competitive Digital Single Market – Towards a European Gigabit Society’ (COM(2016)0587) and the accompanying Commission staff working document (SWD(2016)0300),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 14 September 2016 entitled ‘5G for Europe: An Action Plan’ (COM(2016)0588) and the accompanying Commission staff working document (SWD(2016)0306),

–  having regard to the Commission proposal of 14 September 2016 for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing the European Electronic Communications Code (COM(2016)0590),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 14 June 2010 on an Action Plan on Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) Applications (COM(2010)0308),

–  having regard to the Paris Agreement, Decision 1/CP.21 and the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) to the UNFCCC and the 11th Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP11) held in Paris, France from 30 November to 11 December 2015,

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 377/2014 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 3 April 2014 establishing the Copernicus Programme and repealing Regulation (EU) No 911/2010(1),

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 1285/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 December 2013 on the implementation and exploitation of European satellite navigation systems and repealing Council Regulation (EC) No 876/2002 and Regulation (EC) No 683/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council(2),

—  having regard to Decision No 541/2014/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 April 2014 establishing a Framework for Space Surveillance and Tracking Support(3),

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 512/2014 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 April 2014 amending Regulation (EU) No 912/2010 setting up the European GNSS Agency(4),

–  having regard to the relevant Council conclusions and to the ministerial ‘Declaration of Amsterdam’ of 14 April 2016 on cooperation in the field of connected and automated driving,

–  having regard to the The Hague Manifesto on Space Policy of June 2016,

–  having regard to the joint statement on shared vision and goals for the future of Europe in space by the European Union and the European Space Agency, signed by the Commission and the Agency on 26 October 2016,

–  having regard to its resolution of 8 June 2016 on space capabilities for European security and defence(5),

–  having regard to its resolution of 8 June 2016 on space market uptake(6),

–  ­having regard to its resolution of 10 December 2013 on EU Space Industrial Policy, releasing the Potential for Growth in the Space Sector(7),

–  having regard to its resolution of 19 January 2012 on a space strategy for the European Union that benefits its citizens(8),

–  having regard to its resolution of 7 June 2011 on transport applications of Global Navigation Satellite Systems – short- and medium-term EU policy(9),

–  having regard to the study of January 2016 on Space Market Uptake in Europe(10),

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy and the opinions of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection, the Committee on Transport and Tourism and the Committee on Fisheries (A8-0250/2017),

A.  whereas the benefits of space for society are manifold and can lead to a more competitive economy for Europe by stimulating the development of many new products and services, and by supporting agriculture, forestry, fisheries and maritime transport; whereas satellite technology can lead to better access to communication technologies, high-resolution Earth observation systems that allow for the exchange of information in real-time, a rapid response to natural disasters, and more effective border and security controls;

B.  whereas space technologies, data and services can support a variety of EU public policies and key political priorities, such as boosting the Digital Single Market, stimulating the European economy and tackling climate change;

C.  whereas space is not a cost for European citizens but an investment, and whereas an ambitious space strategy can ensure the EU’s autonomy and positioning in the strategic area of space, while also boosting growth, competitiveness and the creation of jobs in space-related manufacturing, operations and downstream services;

D.  whereas the political decisions taken by Parliament and the Council in 2007 resulted in the allocation of a budget for the European satellite navigation programmes – the European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service (EGNOS) and Galileo – and provided for an agreement on the governance structure of the programmes;

1.  Welcomes the Commission communication entitled ‘Space Strategy for Europe’ and endorses the Commission’s full commitment to maximising the economic and societal benefits of space, increasing the use of space technologies and applications to support public policies, fostering a globally competitive and innovative European space sector, reinforcing Europe’s autonomy in space, and strengthening Europe’s role as a global actor as well as international cooperation in space;

2.  Reminds the Commission that it is imperative to ensure the continuity of EU space programmes and to reflect on the future evolution of Galileo and Copernicus, in particular in order to create a positive and predictable investment climate in the downstream sector; considers that this can only be achieved if public funding of the space flagship programmes, and a downstream data infrastructure, is guaranteed in the long term, whilst recognising the need for significant private sector involvement;

3.  Highlights the achievements in space of the Member States, the European Space Agency (ESA) and the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT) using new technologies, exploration missions, and Earth-observation and meteorology capabilities;

4.  Believes that it is necessary to evaluate the Galileo and Copernicus programmes before the Commission presents its new legislative proposals as part of the next MFF; considers that this evaluation should address, among other matters: the future role of the European GNSS Agency (GSA) in Galileo and its potential role in Copernicus; how to simplify the GSA’s relationship with the ESA; and the current split between the agency’s core and delegated tasks; urges the Commission, in this regard, to ensure that the GSA has the capacity to take on new tasks before any are conferred upon it;

5.  Stresses that the outcome of the evaluation should also feed into future discussions on the relationship between the EU and the ESA, taking into account the joint EU-ESA statement signed on 26 October 2016; calls on the Commission to study, in cooperation with the ESA, different options by which the complicated institutional landscape in European space governance can be simplified, thereby improving the allocation of responsibilities in the interests of greater effectiveness and cost efficiency;

6.  Stresses that the GSA should be adequately staffed to safeguard smooth functioning and exploitation of the European GNSS programmes; asks the Commission to review the adequacy of resources allocated to the GSA, taking into consideration its current and future tasks; considers that the staffing policy and procedure should be adapted in light of the new tasks conferred on the GSA, in compliance with the Interinstitutional Agreement of 2 December 2013;

7.  Stresses that in order to meet current and future challenges, the next EU budget should include a space budget larger than the current one to support the entire value chain (space and ground segment, Earth observation, navigation and communications), to be ensured in the course of the upcoming MFF review; reiterates that the successful development of downstream markets depends in particular on the timely implementation and continuous evolution of the Galileo and Copernicus programmes, the adequate financing of which should be a priority; emphasises the need to preserve and develop the European added value and unique contribution of the EU space programmes when making budgetary decisions in the next MFF;

8.  Invites the Commission to examine the possibility of taking advantage of synergies between EU space programmes, so as to increase effectiveness and cost efficiency; believes also that the exchange of information between the EU agencies involved in EU space policy should be intensified in order to achieve further synergy effects; points out that the fields of activity are increasingly converging; calls on the Commission to publish an annual report on the nature and extent of cooperation among the EU agencies;

9.  Stresses the importance of identifying and addressing any existing obstacles to the functioning of the internal market in the area of space-based products and services;

Maximising the benefits of space for society and the EU economy

10.  Highlights the fact that space programmes and their services are key assets in policy areas and economic sectors such as energy, climate, environment, security and defence, health, agriculture, forestry, fisheries, transport, tourism, the digital market and mobile communications, regional policy and local planning; believes that there is a huge potential in tackling challenges such as migration, border management and sustainable development; highlights also the importance of a European space strategy for a comprehensive EU maritime policy; notes also the significant benefits to society of the economic use of remote sensing satellites and systems;

11.  Calls on the Commission to accelerate the full economic exploitation of the Galileo, EGNOS and Copernicus programmes by: setting adequate targets for market uptake; improving access to, and the processing of, Copernicus data in order to enable enterprises, particularly SMEs and start-ups, to develop applications based on space data; ensuring better integration with other digital services – such as intelligent transport systems, the European railway traffic management system, river information services, SafeSeaNet as well as conventional navigation systems – and enlarging the potential of space solutions; stresses the benefits to citizens and businesses of satellite navigation and earth observation data and services;

12.  Welcomes the Commission’s actions in procuring cloud platforms for Earth observation data, to ensure that Europe reaps the full economic benefit of its flagship space programmes and to establish sustainable user access and competence building; urges the Commission to speed up its work in this area so that the first data platforms can be operational in 2018; believes that all tenders for these platforms should be open to private actors;

13.  Asks the Commission to evaluate the functioning of the Copernicus Entrusted Entities, in particular with a view to simplifying and streamlining their tendering procedures, in order to make it easier for SMEs to apply;

14.  Stresses the need to ‘space proof’ legislation, and reiterates its request, made in its aforementioned resolution on space market uptake, for the Commission to carry out a systematic ‘space check’ before it tables any new legislative and non-legislative proposals; calls on the Commission to remove barriers to the use of space technologies by the public sector, e.g. for monitoring compliance with new and existing European legislation; believes that public policy can be improved considerably by using space technology, building on examples such as eCall and the digital tachograph; asks the Commission and the Member States to stimulate uptake of space technology by European, national, regional and local authorities, for example by buying European Earth observation data or services to meet policy objectives;

15.  Points to the pilot project on cleaner space through deorbiting and innovative materials for space equipment, which is designed to test the feasibility and effectiveness of a future Joint Technology Initiative (JTI) applied to the space sector; recognises that adequate resources, both public and private, are essential to ensuring the sustainability and competitiveness of the European space sector, and to developing the role of the EU as a global player in space;

16.  Believes that the contribution of Copernicus in tackling climate change should be developed further; calls on the Commission to establish, as soon as possible, the Copernicus-based capacities to monitor greenhouse gas emissions, including CO2 emissions, that are currently being developed under Horizon 2020(11), with a view to addressing the needs enshrined in the COP21 agreement, and to allowing the efficient implementation thereof; supports the development of future satellites dedicated to the monitoring of CO2 and methane;

17.  Welcomes the Galileo declaration of initial services of 15 December 2016; stresses that the widespread use of the Galileo signal is a precondition for the development of a strong downstream market for space-based applications and services, and that adequate measures – including, where appropriate, regulatory ones – should be taken to make full compatibility with Galileo and EGNOS the standard for devices sold in the EU, and to encourage the take-up of Galileo- and EGNOS-ready devices on the global market; invites as well the Commission to consider measures to strengthen the competitiveness of the European GNSS downstream industry;

18.  Calls on the Commission to ensure that GNSS-based clocks in critical infrastructure are Galileo- and EGNOS-ready, which is highly relevant from a security perspective;

19.  Highlights the ability of satellites to provide uninterrupted, very high-capacity connectivity, in particular in remote areas and outermost regions, which is essential for overcoming the digital divide, for the development of high-speed networks and for the expansion of the Internet of Things networks, enabling services such as autonomous driving, smart fleet and freight management, e-governance, e-learning and e-health applications; emphasises the complementarity of terrestrial and space-based technologies for delivering very high-capacity networks; insists that the Commission recognise this and take appropriate account of the contribution of satellites in this domain; stresses as well the need to reserve adequate frequency bands for the operation of such satellite services; calls for this to be addressed in the current legislative work on telecommunication networks, with adequate investments made in R&D; believes as well that the Space Strategy for Europe should be implemented in coordination with the Commission’s digital strategies, with the support of Member States and industry, so as to promote effective and demand-driven use of satellite communications in order to foster ubiquitous connectivity in the whole of the EU;

20.  Underlines the important role of the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) in stimulating downstream space markets, most importantly through public procurement, including in countries that do not yet have a large space sector, noting that this should be addressed in the ongoing discussions about the future of cohesion policy; supports the introduction of targeted capacity-building measures to assist the Member States and regions with emerging space capabilities; highlights the fact that the regional dimension is essential in bringing the benefits of space to citizens, and that the involvement of local and regional authorities can create synergies with smart specialisation strategies and the EU Urban Agenda; supports, therefore, an increased involvement of regional and local authorities in a successful EU space policy, including the Outermost Regions and Overseas Countries and Territories; underlines the fact that the Committee of the Regions should be a member of the Copernicus user forum in order to highlight the importance of regional and local actors as users of Copernicus data;

21.  Stresses that users such as SMEs and local and regional authorities are still not sufficiently aware of funding opportunities, including those made available by the European Investment Bank, for projects with links to Galileo or Copernicus, and that the targeted dissemination of information about these opportunities should be improved without delay;

22.  Acknowledges the role of space technologies, and of the two EU flagship space programmes, in making land, maritime, air and space transport smarter, safer, more secure and sustainable, and integrated in strategic future sectors such as self-driving and connected cars, and unmanned aerial vehicles; believes that the Space Strategy can contribute to meeting new transport needs of secure and seamless connectivity, and more robust positioning, intermodality and interoperability; encourages the Commission to include transport stakeholders in the dialogue with the space sector so as to ensure transparency, and to facilitate the uptake of European space technology in the transport market with a view to enhancing the competitiveness of EU transport services on the European and global market; asks the Commission and the Member States to pay attention to the development of space tourism;

23.  Calls on the Commission to support the implementation of EGNOS-procedure landings for smaller airports, but also for larger airports; reiterates the financial advantages and the increased accuracy, resilience and safety that EGNOS could provide for the use of safety-critical applications such as aircraft landings, and reiterates the importance of extending EGNOS coverage to south-eastern and eastern Europe, as a priority, and further to Africa and the Middle East; considers as well that Galileo could play a key role in air traffic control as cornerstone for the transition from radar-based to satellite-based surveillance;

24.  Stresses, furthermore, the importance of aircraft equipped with space‑based Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) technology, and of mandating operators to equip aircraft with ADS-B, in order to ensure accuracy and reliability in real-time tracking of aircraft and to save fuel;

25.  Stresses the importance of EU space programmes for marine and maritime issues, fishing activities and the blue economy in general, for example in: tackling illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing; surveying and assessing the state and health of the oceans and fish stocks; supporting fish farm productivity; facilitating maritime research; and providing search and rescue services as well as satellite connections for on-board medical equipment; points, in this regard, to the need for space-based ocean surveillance capacities and good coordination between Galileo, EGNOS and Copernicus services;

Fostering a globally competitive and innovative European space sector

26.  Stresses that the success and competitiveness of the space sector, and the development of breakthrough technologies, are highly dependent on research and innovation; calls for the enhancement and extension of the dedicated space budget line under Framework Programme 9; highlights the importance of full cooperation between the EU, the ESA and the Member States to ensuring efficiency and avoiding duplications, in particular in areas where several actors provide research funding; believes that research and innovation should be stimulated and financed to benefit a broad array of space technologies; urges the Commission to extend the use of the SME instrument for scaling-up business opportunities in space-based products and services, both within Horizon 2020 and in future Framework Programmes;

27.  Calls on the Commission, in the context of public procurement, to ensure fair treatment of EU enterprises vis-à-vis enterprises from third countries, specifically by taking into consideration the prices that companies charge to other customers worldwide, in an effort to ensure that rules are respected and that market players abide by fair practices, with a view to ensuring a level playing field; points out that the European space industry is facing increasingly fierce international competition; welcomes the Commission’s proposal to strengthen the use of innovative procurement schemes;

28.  Highlights the importance of reinforcing the European industrial base, and of guaranteeing the EU’s strategic autonomy, by diversifying sources of supply and making the best use of multiple EU providers; considers, therefore, that the involvement of industry at all levels needs to be promoted in a balanced way, and calls on the Commission to support the European space sector throughout the value chain; believes that space clusters can play a useful role in a space-industrial strategy;

29.  Calls on the Commission to support the Europe-wide development of new space business models and technologies capable of revolutionising the sector and reducing costs (e.g. European technologies that make it possible to send small satellites into space, such as reusable balloons or launchers);

30.  Asks the Commission, with a view to creating a level playing field for space businesses, to consider the situation and needs of SMEs when determining the duration of public contracts in the area of space infrastructure and services;

31.  Emphasises the need to invest more decisively in education and training of European citizens in the area of space, including in order to be able to fully exploit the opportunities created by space during the shift to a digital society; highlights the importance of space policy achievements in inspiring future generations and fostering a sense of European identity; stresses, therefore, the need to continue and expand a coordinated approach for European space education that can attract young people to pursue careers in space science and technology;

32.  Stresses that participation in ESA’s optional programmes, in the framework of which European businesses and universities or research institutes can participate in preparing cutting-edge technologies for space missions and systems, is a basic and fundamental tool for developing the capacity of the European space industry; stresses that involvement in such programmes opens the way to entrepreneurship in this area, and to accessing highly technology- and knowledge-intensive scientific projects, which can also have a positive impact in the transport sector;

Reinforcing Europe’s autonomy in accessing and using space in a secure and safe environment

33.  Recalls that EU space programmes are of a civil nature and reiterates its commitment to the non-militarisation of space; recognises nonetheless the strategic dimension of the space sector for Europe and the need to improve synergies between civil and security / defence aspects, and to make use of space capacities to meet security and safety needs, also taking account of the geopolitical environment and the Common Security and Defence Policy; believes that the Commission should analyse synergies between European space programmes and the European Defence Action Plan proposed in November 2016 to ensure overall coherence in this strategic field;

34.  Calls on the Commission to aggregate the demand of institutional customers from the European Union and the Member States to ensure an independent, cost effective and reliable access to space through the use of the European launchers Ariane, Vega and their future evolutions; believes that this is of utmost strategic importance for contingency and crisis management functions and for a resilient European security and defence policy;

35.  Supports the objective of the Commission to assess different ways to support European launch infrastructure facilities, where this is needed to meet EU policy objectives and needs, in terms of autonomy, security and competitiveness; stresses, consequently, the strategic importance of the European Spaceport based in Kourou (French Guiana) and the need to pay close attention to the economic and social benefits for the territory in which it is located;

36.  Recalls that the notion of independent access to space cannot be dissociated from the independent capacity of Europe to conceive, develop, launch, operate and exploit space systems;

37.  Notes a lack of visibility as to the continuation of the launch vehicle programme in Europe beyond the next three to four years (Ariane 6 and Vega C), and as to the financial situation for this programme; expresses concern at the lack of any mid- to long-term launch programme; urges the Commission to come forward with a work programme for launch vehicles in Europe for the next 20 years;

38.  Calls on the Commission to encourage the development of alternative launching technologies and the inclusion of eco-design principles in all launchers and space assets;

39.  Considers that in the next generation of satellite systems the security of the Galileo infrastructure, including the ground segment, and the dual-use capacity of Galileo and Copernicus should be developed further, along with better precision and encryption; recalls that the Galileo Public Regulated Service’ (PRS), restricted to government-authorised users, could play an important role in the future for responding to evolving threats, particularly in the event of a crisis;

40.  Draws attention to the vulnerability of space infrastructure to interference or attack from state and non-state actors and to a range of other threats, including collisions with space debris or other satellites; reiterates the importance of securing critical infrastructure and communications as well as the development of resilient technologies; recognises the growing significance of space and space-based technologies for dual use, particularly in communications, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, disaster response and arms control, and underlines the vital importance of space capabilities in the fight against terrorism; further encourages investments to speed up the development of new space capabilities and technology; believes it necessary to enhance capabilities to address emerging threats in space, which would in turn strengthen the ability of Europe’s space sector to respond to changing markets, actors and technologies;

41.  Calls on the Commission to mitigate the risks presented by space debris by enhancing current space surveillance and tracking (SST) services with the aim of setting up a programme for an independent system capable of recognising threats posed by space debris to European space infrastructure, underpinning measures to avoid collisions and, in the longer term, actively removing debris; supports the plan to extend the scope of EU SST to allow space-based weather forecasts, and proposes an additional focus on near-earth objects to counter the potentially catastrophic risk of any such object colliding with Earth; emphasises that capabilities and expertise in these fields, including those available at the ESA, should be built on and expanded; reaffirms the need to provide as much open data as possible in order to foster research and innovation;

42.  Recalls the growing importance of cybersecurity for space programmes, and notes that this problem is particularly serious given that a large part of our economy relies on space-related services; calls on the Commission to mitigate the risks for EU space assets by taking adequate measures, including, where appropriate, the use of encryption, for the protection of space-related infrastructure against cyber-threats; asks, furthermore, the Commission to ensure that all relevant agencies have contingency plans in place for possible cyber-attacks;

43.  Considers the planned Govsatcom initiative as a promising measure to ensure access to secure, efficient and cost-effective services for European institutional actors, addressing user needs in a wide range of areas, while, at the same time, stimulating growth, competitiveness and innovation throughout the whole European satellite telecommunications sector; calls on the Commission, if the impact assessment is sufficiently positive, to design the planned Govsatcom initiative in a cost-effective way – which may include the pooling and sharing of capabilities, or the purchasing of services from certified commercial communication satellites – and to ensure that the initiative creates significant added value and avoids duplicating existing structures;

44.  Underlines the importance of a comprehensive European space policy, aimed at effectively contributing to enhancing the Common Foreign and Security Policy by means of providing relevant institutions with independent intelligence, such as real-time situational awareness;

Strengthening Europe’s role as a global actor and promoting international cooperation

45.  Calls on the Commission to promote EU space assets and space industrial capacity in all relevant aspects of its external relations;

46.  Believes that ensuring a peaceful and safe space environment will require engagement with international partners to promote norms of responsible behaviour and sustainability, notably in relation to space exploration, and calls on the Commission to work closely with the EEAS and the Member States in this regard;

47.  Highlights the need for international coordination on space traffic and debris management, which are bound to increase owing to the planned installation of so-called ‘mega-constellations’ and to the congestion of near-earth orbits that may result from the continued lowering of satellite launch costs;

48.  Asks the Commission to monitor existing private sector objectives in areas such as space mining and to consider what impact these could have on the current legal framework and, in particular, the Outer Space Treaty; considers that the basic principles of the Treaty should be upheld and that it is necessary to avoid a race for depletable resources in space; urges the Member States to work toward a coordinated European approach, and calls on the Commission to take the lead in brokering a consensus; recognises that space is the common heritage of mankind;

49.  Strongly welcomes the Commission’s intention to use economic diplomacy to open up new business opportunities for the European space industry; stresses that European players in third-country markets should be supported by the Commission and, where relevant, Member State authorities, either individually or through the ESA, and by bodies such as the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA); recommends that plans for such coordinated support be drawn up in advance;

Ensuring effective delivery

50.  Highlights the fact that Parliament should play an active role in the development of EU space policy and that it should be involved in all exchanges conducted by the Commission, the Council, the EEAS and the ESA on space-related topics;

51.  Considers that democratic support is important for investing in space; calls on the Commission to present a well-designed and comprehensive communication strategy about the benefits of space technologies for citizens and businesses; urges the Commission, in implementing this strategy, to base it on the following three pillars, each addressing an important audience group: (a) raising awareness with the public of the necessity of investments in space; (b) informing SMEs and entrepreneurs about the opportunities of the space flagship programmes; (c) including space in education in order to close the skills gap; asks the Commission to present Parliament with a roadmap on the creation of this communication strategy as soon as possible;

52.  Calls on the Commission to draw up a timetable for the implementation of the measures proposed in the strategy, to report regularly on its implementation, to propose legislation where necessary and to devise additional concrete and tangible actions needed to achieve in a timely fashion the aims outlined in the strategy;

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53.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Commission, the Council, the governments and parliaments of the Member States and the European Space Agency.

(1) OJ L 122, 24.4.2014, p. 44.
(2) OJ L 347, 20.12.2013, p. 1.
(3) OJ L 158, 27.5.2014, p. 227.
(4) OJ L 150, 20.5.2014, p. 72.
(5) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0267.
(6) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0268.
(7) OJ C 468, 15.12.2016, p. 12.
(8) OJ C 227 E, 6.8.2013, p. 16.
(9) OJ C 380 E, 11.12.2012, p. 1.
(10) Space Market Uptake in Europe, Study for the ITRE Committee, Directorate-General for Internal Policies, Policy Department A, 2016, ISBN 978-92-823-8537-1.
(11) https://ec.europa.eu/research/participants/data/ref/h2020/wp/2016_2017/main/h2020-wp1617-leit-space_en.pdf, p. 48.


Academic further and distance education as part of the European lifelong learning strategy
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European Parliament resolution of 12 September 2017 on academic further and distance education as part of the European lifelong learning strategy (2016/2142(INI))
P8_TA(2017)0324A8-0252/2017

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to Articles 8, 165 and 166 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU),

–   having regard to the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, in particular Article 14 thereof,

–   having regard to the Copenhagen Declaration of 30 November 2002 on enhanced cooperation in European vocational education and training,

–   having regard to the Council conclusions of 12 May 2009 on a strategic framework for European cooperation in education and training (‘ET 2020’)(1),

–   having regard to the 2012 Joint Report of the Council and the Commission on the implementation of the Strategic Framework for European cooperation in education and training (ET 2020) – ‘Education and Training in a smart, sustainable and inclusive Europe’(2),

–   having regard to the Council conclusions of 20 May 2014 on effective teacher education,

–   having regard to the 2015 Joint Report of the Council and the Commission on the implementation of the Strategic Framework for European cooperation in education and training (ET 2020) – ‘New priorities for European cooperation in education and training’(3),

–   having regard to the Council Resolution of 20 December 2011 on a renewed European agenda for adult learning(4),

–   having regard to the Commission communication of 20 November 2012 entitled ‘Rethinking Education: Investing in skills for better socio-economic outcomes’ (COM(2012)0669),

–   having regard to the Council conclusions of 17 February 2014 on investing in education and training – a response to ‘Rethinking Education: Investing in skills for better socio-economic outcomes’ and the ‘2013 Annual Growth Survey’(5),

–   having regard to Decision No 1720/2006/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 November 2006 establishing an action programme in the field of lifelong learning(6),

–   having regard to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, ratified by the EU in 2010,

–   having regard to Recommendation 2006/962/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 18 December 2006 on key competences for lifelong learning(7),

–   having regard to the Council conclusions of 19 November 2010 on education for sustainable development(8),

–   having regard to the Council Recommendation of 20 December 2012 on the validation of non-formal and informal learning(9),

–   having regard to the Recommendation of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 April 2008 on the establishment of the European Qualifications Framework for lifelong learning(10) (EQF-LLL),

–   having regard to the Council conclusions of 20 May 2014 on quality assurance supporting education and training(11),

–   having regard to its resolution of 12 April 2016 on Erasmus+ and other tools to foster mobility in VET – a lifelong learning approach(12),

–   having regard to its resolution of 23 June 2016 on follow-up of the Strategic Framework for European cooperation in education and training (ET 2020)(13),

–   having regard to the opinion of the Committee of the Regions — Opening up education of 31 January 2014(14),

–  having regard to the Commission research on Education and Training 2020: Improving Policy and Provision for Adult Learning in Europe(15),

–   having regard to its resolution of 10 September 2015 on creating a competitive EU labour market for the 21st century: matching skills and qualifications with demand and job opportunities, as a way to recover from the crisis(16),

–   having regard to the Council conclusions on the European Pact for gender equality for the period 2011-2020(17),

–   having regard to the draft Council conclusions on ‘Enhancing the Skills of Women and Men in the EU Labour Market’ of 20 February 2017(18),

–  having regard to the Council recommendation of 28 November 2011 on a renewed European agenda for adult learning,

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Culture and Education and the position in the form of amendments of the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality (A8-0252/2017),

A.  whereas education systems are facing significant challenges as a result of the digital transformation, which are impacting teaching and learning processes, and the need to bolster the capacity for social inclusion and civic participation as well as personal development, and to enhance European democratic values and tolerance with a view to fostering open-mindedness and preventing intolerance of every kind; whereas, digital empowerment and self-confidence are an essential prerequisite for building strong societies and helping the unity and integration processes within the EU;

B.  whereas the European lifelong learning strategy should be reinforced; whereas every person, at every stage of their life should have lifelong learning opportunities to acquire the knowledge and skills they need for both their personal development and professional progress; whereas lifelong learning, in formal, non-formal and informal contexts, which promotes active citizenship and employability, is a key aspect of education affected by these changes;

C.  whereas further efforts need to be made to enhance the synergies between education and employment, both by facilitating entry into the labour market and by enabling individuals to constantly update their skills or to learn new skills throughout their careers; whereas Member States need to find ways to protect or promote longer term investment in education, research and innovation;

D.  whereas academic further and distance education make a significant contribution to the individual’s personal development and to the formation of human capital and should be made an integral part of the European lifelong learning strategy;

E.  whereas academic further and distance education play an increasingly important role in facilitating the adaptation of workers to economic and technological change throughout their professional lives; whereas, by 2025, 49 % of all job openings in the EU (including both new and replacement jobs) will require high-level qualifications, 40 % will require medium-level qualifications and only 11 % low or no qualifications;

F.  whereas academic further and distance education are important tools in providing flexible, personalised education opportunities for all without any discrimination(19); stresses in this respect the importance of ensuring widening access strategies;

G.  whereas academic further and distance education and the use of new technologies can help to raise girls and women’s awareness of new career options, particularly in areas where they are under-represented; whereas even though more women have advanced secondary school diplomas and higher education degrees, there is a need to increase the presence of women both in vocational education and in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics)-related sectors;

H.  whereas distance education is one possible approach, in the context of academic further education, that because of its flexibility is particularly conducive to ensuring a study-work-life balance;

I.  whereas distance education(20) refers to an organisational form for teaching which affords a high degree of flexibility in learning through the use of digital education technologies, not as a replacement of on-campus education, but offering an alternative for learners who are unable to participate in on-campus education;

J.  whereas distance education refers to a method of teaching which offers flexibility in learning through the use of emerging technologies, not as a replacement of on-campus education, but offering an alternative for learners who are unable to participate in on-campus education and for workers who wish to combine work with education; whereas, therefore, digitalisation might be used as a tool providing new ways of access to higher education;

K.  whereas equality between women and men is a fundamental principle of the EU which is enshrined in the Treaties and one of the objectives and tasks of the Union; whereas equality in education offers women greater opportunities and contributes to the social, cultural and economic development of society; whereas education is a fundamental tool to combat gender stereotypes;

L.  whereas the average employment rate of women is directly linked to their level of education, with women aged 25-49 that have completed tertiary education having over 20 % higher employment rates than women with pre-primary, primary and lower secondary education;

M.  whereas distance education can have a positive effect on women’s ICT skills; whereas the entry of more women into the ICT sector would boost a market in which labour shortages are foreseen and in which the equal participation of women would lead to a annual gain of around EUR 9 billion in EU GDP; whereas women remain heavily under-represented in ICT degree programmes, where they constitute only around 20 % of graduates in the field, with only 3 % of all female graduates having a degree in ICT;

N.  whereas programmes at a distance reach substantial numbers of women in societies where women lack equal opportunities for participation in conventional forms of education and training, as women still spend more time than men on unpaid domestic work and family care; whereas such courses offer them flexibility in achieving work-life balance, and whereas distance education is aimed in particular at the non-traditional-student category;

O.  whereas academic further education is one of higher education's public-service tasks and refers to courses within an academic institution that can be pursued in parallel with full-time work, generally building on professional experience and usually presupposing a university degree;

P.  whereas adaptation to accelerating economic and technological change is a major challenge for an ageing workforce and responding to this challenge will be one of the keys to ensuring the long-term competitiveness of the EU’s economy;

Q.  whereas lifelong learning and career development policies might be boosted through recognition of prior learning;

R.  whereas allowing people time off for personal and training development in the context of life-long learning benefits their well-being as well as their contribution to society by empowering with more defined personal and professional skills; whereas academic distance education provides for flexible study formats that help people attain a better work-life balance; whereas university lifelong learning (ULLL) should be part of the European Digitalisation Strategy;

S.  whereas digitalisation enables flexibility and interactivity of the educational process and it is a key factor for the further development of academic further and distance education;

T.  whereas technological change demands stronger and more continuous connections between education and employment;

U.  whereas the tendency for academic institutions to be static makes reform of curricula, the rules governing courses and examinations, and entrance requirements challenging;

V.  whereas academic further and distance education are rapidly expanding sectors with significant potential in terms of economic growth and job creation;

W.  whereas many barriers to academic further and distance education courses remain(21);

Further and distance education to accompany societal and economical change

1.  Acknowledges that online and open education is changing the way that education is resourced, delivered and taken up; underlines, in this regard, the importance of open educational resources (OER) which ensure access to education for all and enhance employability by supporting the lifelong learning process;

2.  Notes that many educational and training institutions are struggling to respond appropriately to the profound and complex changes that our societies and economies are undergoing and need to undertake changes in terms of governance, organisational structures and mode of operation; stresses that new, flexible and accessible forms of lifelong learning, suitable for individuals of all ages, can successfully address some of those challenges such as social exclusion, early school leaving and skills mismatches;

3.  Recognises that digitalisation and the establishment of educational platforms for the purpose of cooperation and exchange of best practices are key to addressing these challenges;

4.  Calls on the Commission and Member States to do more to bridge the existing technological gap between well-equipped educational institutions and those which are not, as part of the national strategies for digital skills;

5.  Emphasises that lifelong learning measures are key to providing women with skills that can enable them to return to employment or improve their employment, income and working conditions; stresses the need for further improvements in women's presence and access to higher levels of academia;

6.  Stresses the importance of education in combating gender stereotypes; calls therefore on the Commission to promote initiatives offering support in implementing professional distance education programmes for women, including higher education in the fields of science, technology and IT, developing training programmes on gender equality for education professionals, and preventing stereotypes from being passed on through curricula and pedagogical material;

7.  Stresses that academic institutions must prepare citizens for knowledge-based societies and constantly changing economies, provide them with the know-how for independent learning and an entrepreneurial mind-set and transversal skills, such as problem-solving and adaptability, in order to explore their own pathways and reach their full potential;

8.  Stresses also that academic institutions have an important role in the enhancement of active citizenship and must provide students with transversal competences such as civic, social competences and citizenship;

9.  Acknowledges that a student-centred approach to education lowers dropout rates and enables students to achieve their full potential(22); stresses, in this regard, the importance of lifelong career guidance for all;

10.  Recognises the potential of knowledge sharing to improve active participation as well as the international understanding of citizens in ever-changing societies;

11.  Acknowledges the need to enhance close cooperation between educational and training institutions, local communities and the economy; further emphasises the need for better synergies between formal, non-formal and informal education providers in order to boost lifelong learning opportunities for all;

12.  Is of the opinion that, at every stage of life, everyone must have the right to access learning and training opportunities in order to acquire transversal skills such as numeracy, digital and media literacy, critical thinking, social skills and other relevant life skills in order to be better able to adapt to the future;

13.  Stresses the need to implement tailor-made support for on-the-job learners, apprentices and employees to ensure the inclusion of all individuals in the labour market; is of the opinion that it is crucial to incorporate new technologies in the teaching and learning process in order to equip people with the right set of skills, competences and knowledge to make them able to use digital technologies in an innovative and creative way;

14.  Calls for the better inclusion and retention of citizens in the labour market, backed up by improvements in their competences through academic further and distance education and vocational and educational training (VET); highlights the need to increase the attractiveness of, and access to information on, VET options for young people and their families; recalls, in this regard, that the target for learning mobility in the VET sector in the Erasmus+ programme is far from being achieved and further attention should be given to it;

15.  Highlights the importance of Erasmus+ and Horizon 2020 for enhancing lifelong learning; calls therefore on the Member States to fully explore the potential of those programmes; and stresses that there should be programmes tailored to academic further education with an occupational focus;

16.  Acknowledges that access to inclusive quality education is of key importance and therefore support is needed for open and distance learning to meet the special needs of those who cannot be reached by traditional delivery systems – particularly for disadvantaged groups; calls on Member States to channel investments for this purpose;

Importance of quality and flexibility in education

17.  Perceives the ever-advancing quality of education, both formal and non-formal, as crucial for the EU’s efforts to ensure social cohesion, competitiveness and sustained growth;

18.  Stresses that to remain competitive, and to give low- and high-skilled workers alike the best chance of success, businesses together with the educational and training institutions need to offer training and career-focused education throughout people's working lives;

19.  Emphasises the particular importance of quality methods for imparting knowledge and skills with a view to education outcomes; underlines the need to invest and support professional development and continuous up-skilling of the teaching staff; stresses, in this context, the need to guarantee high standards in distance education and the importance of developing new models of teaching and learning as part of the innovation process and gradual digitisation of education; recognises, in this context, that proper infrastructure and resources are vital elements for improving the quality of teaching;

20.  Notes that this requires consideration for, and valorisation of, teachers, attractive remuneration and working conditions, better access to further training during working time, especially in digital didactics;

21.  Calls for universities to focus on distance education on an increasingly wide scale, and to extend it to cover free short-term professional courses;

22.  Stresses that students following distance education courses should have guaranteed opportunities to communicate with and be assessed by teachers, so as to ensure that students have the proper support, guidance and encouragement throughout their studies;

23.  Recognises that flexible learning formats such as distance and blended learning enable people in employment to reconcile work and/or education with their family and private life;

24.  Recognises the pivotal role that distance education plays for people whose physical conditions prevent them from attending on-campus classes;

25.  Promotes the idea of tailor-made learning and bridging courses designed for those wishing to enter tertiary-level education who need to gain further qualifications in order to meet entry requirements;

26.  Stresses the need to strive for a more flexible and personalised approach regarding career development and lifelong education and training across one's personal career path; recognises the role that primarily public but also private parties can play in providing this, while also recognising that guidance and counselling which address individual needs and preferences and which focus on the evaluation and expansion of individual skills must be a core element of education and skills policies from an early stage;

27.  Stresses the importance of interactivity in improving the quality of distance education through the use of modern communication methods that allow for practical exercises, the involvement of learners in the teaching process and the development of communication skills;

28.  Promotes the idea of ensuring access to lifelong learning particularly to facilitate re-entry into the workforce, including for women and carers;

29.  Stresses the need for ongoing monitoring of distance education as part of the ongoing modernisation of teaching methods and tools;

30.  Stresses the need for young people to develop independent learning skills (including organisation of work, information processing, critical thinking and motivation) so that, in future, they can effectively use advanced technologies to develop their skills through distance education;

Further and distance education as a development tool for universities

31.  Acknowledges that academic further and distance education creates development opportunities for higher education establishments to broaden their field of competences and diversify the programs they offer in order to target new audiences and to diversify their revenue, bearing in mind that the costs of distance education are lower than the costs of on-campus courses;

32.  Recognises that distance education encourages the development of interdisciplinary fields and the pursuit of international studies;

33.  Calls on universities to expand their provision of distance education;

34.  Recognises the role of the smart specialisation strategy (RIS3) in developing key regional potential based on the needs of the labour market;

Technological challenges

35.  Recognises the need to keep up with rapid technological change, in particular for distance education, and that the importance of and dependence on ICT cannot be underestimated; is of the opinion that ICT is a vehicle through which major educational and developmental challenges could be tackled in an optimal and cost-effective manner; believes that efforts should also be supported by major investment in education, including the use of the European Social Fund, in order to develop digital skills and media literacy at all levels;

36.  Notes with regret that the lack of ICT literacy is a major issue today among both educators and learners; reiterates the importance of technological proficiency in order to be able to harness the potential of distance learning and facilitate the implementation of new teaching and learning methods;

37.  Points out the need to address the digital divide and to ensure equal opportunities for all to obtain access to digital technologies, as well as the competences, attitudes and motivation needed for meaningful digital participation;

38.  Highlights the fact that only one quarter of schoolchildren in Europe are taught by digitally confident teachers, which is a major obstacle preventing new methods of teaching from flourishing; calls therefore on the Member States to provide stronger support for school and up-skilling opportunities, including through IT and media literacy training and lifelong career opportunities for educators;

39.  Emphasises the need to invest and support the professional development of teachers from all educational sectors and to establish lifelong career guidance services;

40.  Acknowledges the importance of new digital platforms in education, while also highlighting the security and privacy issues that both academic institutions and students face;

41.  Stresses the importance of STEM skills and again regrets the gender imbalance in this area;

Financial challenges

42.  Acknowledges the necessity of adequate funding for quality education and tailor-made learning; highlights that distance education can provide a learner-centred, high-quality education at a lower cost; stresses the importance of greater financial and practical involvement of industry and business in vocational training;

43.  Stresses the need for expenditure in education to be recognised as a long-term investment that brings lasting benefits;

44.  Considers that costs must not act as a barrier to enrolment and participation in education, while also acknowledging the underlying problems leading to high costs and the inability of citizens to pay enrolment fees in some Member States; encourages therefore the Commission and Member States to better support and promote distance learning as a quality, affordable, flexible and personalised educational option;

Challenges regarding the regulatory framework

45.  Acknowledges differences in the regulatory frameworks for traditional vocational training, academic further and distance education; stresses that distance education should be accredited under the same rules as on-campus education with relevant indicators and criteria adjusted accordingly;

46.  Recognises the importance of active governance and the involvement of stakeholders;

47.  Acknowledges the importance of quality assurance in distance learning and the accreditation of its outcomes;

48.  Recalls that many existing European transparency tools such as the European Qualifications Framework (EQF) and European credit system for vocational education and training (ECVET) have been developed in isolation; recognises that in order to allow individuals to better measure their progress and opportunities, and to capitalise on the learning outcomes gained in different contexts, they need to be better coordinated and supported by quality assurance systems and be embedded in a framework of national qualifications in order to build trust across sectors and actors, including employers;

49.  Recognises the continued importance of both blended and online learning, in particular in the context of VET; stresses that the combination of high-quality digital technologies and face-to-face learning opportunities result in greater student achievements and therefore encourages the Commission and Member States to better support and promote blended learning;

50.  Calls on the Commission to reinforce the European lifelong learning strategy and to make academic further and distance education an integral part of it in order to promote the adaptation of an ageing workforce to economic and technological change; calls furthermore on the Commission to examine the possibility of increasing the funding for academic further and distance education through existing and future programmes;

51.  Recognises the need for a comprehensive multi-sector and multi-disciplinary approach to education and training, including lifelong learning, and the need for trans-sectoral cooperation in the development and implementation of educational policies;

Recommendations at European level

52.  Stresses the need to foster cooperation and the exchange of good practice between education systems; encourages furthermore the sharing of good practices by national quality assurance (QA) agencies in the development of criteria on the recognition of new modes of teaching and learning;

53.  Calls for a revision of the European Qualifications Framework (EQF) to promote the comparability of qualifications between the countries covered in the EQF and other countries, in particular neighbourhood countries and countries with mature qualifications frameworks, in order to better understand the qualifications acquired abroad and to place people with migrant backgrounds and refugees in lifelong learning and employment;

54.  Calls on the Commission to significantly reinforce support for academic further and distance education through Erasmus+ by promoting the development of European networks, and facilitating the exchange of good practices, the setting up of projects involving institutions based in several Member States, and increased accessibility for students from other European and third countries;

55.  Advocates the creation of a user-friendly online platform as a one-stop shop where education professionals and learners can facilitate the exchange of best practice;

56.  Calls on the Commission to develop a secure and integrated learning platform designed for and offered to European educational institutions free of charge, thus boosting the use of e-learning across the EU;

57.  Acknowledges the need to further develop eTwinning and the School Education Gateway to support constructive exchanges between teachers and other practitioners;

58.  Encourages the establishment of stronger links between continuous academic further education (which is not only research-orientated) and vocational and educational training for skills acquisition, and action to ensure that both can be pursued and applied for at any time;

59.  Recommends the corroboration of lifelong learning efforts with a European Digitalisation Strategy and gender impact assessment of the proposed measures to be prepared;

60.  Welcomes the ambitious plan to provide ultra-fast internet in primary and secondary schools and libraries by 2025, because faster and better connectivity provides huge opportunities to enhance teaching methods, to foster research and to develop high-quality educational services online; stresses that the roll-out of these technologies creates better opportunities for distance learning, particularly in rural areas and outermost regions; highlights the fact that such opportunities will enhance children's and students’ digital skills and media literacy;

61.  Stresses that the adaptation of education and training systems is vital to meet the increasing demand for digitally skilled professionals in the EU; emphasises that, in order to achieve a true digital single market in Europe, further efforts are needed to improve media literacy among citizens, in particular minors;

62.  Highlights the importance of stepping up European efforts to make the lifelong learning strategy a reality for all, together with the objective to also provide a range of learning opportunities that can be pursued for personal development and fulfilment; encourages the Commission and the Member States to promote and invest in lifelong learning in particular in countries with a participation rate below the 15 % benchmark;

63.  Calls on Member States to foster cooperation and reinforce synergies between formal, non-formal and informal education providers with a view to reaching a wider group of people in order to better take into account their specific needs;

64.  Recommends that teachers giving distance learning courses should have specific certified training;

Recommendations at Member State level

65.  Calls on the Member States to ensure a holistic approach to education and to provide students with authentic, diverse and equal learning opportunities that develop their aspirations and the skills needed to prosper in both a constantly changing global economy and a democratic society;

66.  Encourages Member States to build on existing validation arrangements in order to assess and certify skills, acquired through up-skilling pathways and to ensure their recognition with a view to qualifications, in accordance with national qualifications framework and systems;

67.  Emphasises that further deployment of digital infrastructure especially in less densely populated areas promotes social and cultural integration, modern educational and information processes and a regional cultural economy;

68.  Calls on Member States to make available opportunities for ICT training and the development of digital skills and media literacy at all levels of education;

69.  Reiterates the importance for academic and training institutions to swiftly respond to the changes in society and the labour market, and to adapt and modernise their way of working and to enable students to develop skills accordingly; stresses that education is a lifelong empowerment process, which should help citizens achieve personal development, creativity and well-being;

70.  Urges academic institutions to anticipate changes in society and the labour market, and to adapt their way of working accordingly; notes that, the development of future-oriented sectors, in particular the green and circular economy, has a determinant role on the type of skills needed;

71.  Calls furthermore on academic institutions to offer multilingual courses geared to migrants’ skills, smoothing the path to entry to educational programmes;

72.  Stresses the need for greater flexibility in the Member States’ education systems in order to enable more effective use of open and online teaching methods;

73.  Urges Member States to improve the availability of data on the employment and social situation of graduates (‘graduate tracking’), including data on the vocational education and training sector;

74.  Calls on the EU and the Member States to develop and implement 'educational corridors' by promoting agreements with European universities, such as the Mediterranean Universities Union (UNIMED) and the networks of distance learning universities hosting refugee students from conflict areas, including through academic distance training programmes;

75.  Highlights the importance of specialised school and university teacher training for academic further and distance education, so as to meet the needs of their students;

76.  Stresses the need for competences and skills acquired outside the formal education system to be recognised through quality assurance and accreditation especially with a view to empowering people in a vulnerable or disadvantaged situation, such as low-skilled adults or refugees; insists on the importance of validating non-formal and informal learning in order to reach out and empower learners;

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

(1) OJ C 119, 28.5.2009, p. 2.
(2) OJ C 70, 8.3.2012, p. 9.
(3) OJ C 417, 15.12.2015, p. 25.
(4) OJ C 372, 20.12.2011, p. 1.
(5) OJ C 64, 5.3.2013, p. 5.
(6) OJ L 327, 24.11.2006, p. 45.
(7) OJ L 394, 30.12.2006, p. 10.
(8) OJ C 327, 4.12.2010, p. 11.
(9) OJ C 398, 22.12.2012, p. 1.
(10) OJ C 111, 6.5.2008, p. 1.
(11) OJ C 183, 14.6.2014, p. 30.
(12) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0107.
(13) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0291.
(14) OJ C 126, 26.4.2014, p. 20.
(15) http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/education_culture/repository/education/library/reports/policy-provision-adult-learning_en.pdf
(16) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0321.
(17) https://www.consilium.europa.eu/uedocs/cms_data/docs/pressdata/en/lsa/119628.pdf
(18) http://data.consilium.europa.eu/doc/document/ST-6268-2017-INIT/en/pdf
(19) As laid down in Article 21 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights.
(20) In German-speaking countries, for instance, a distinction is made, as regards distance education, between academic and non-academic fields.
(21) A distance learning curriculum on pervasive computing: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/312312226_A_distance_learning_curriculum_on_pervasive_computing.
(22) Economics of Education Editors: Dominic J. Brewer, Patrick J. McEwan, Equity and Quality in Education – Supporting disadvantaged students and schools: https://www.oecd.org/education/school/50293148.pdf.


Repeal of obsolete regulations with regard to inland waterway and road haulage sectors ***I
PDF 240kWORD 42k
Resolution
Text
European Parliament legislative resolution of 12 September 2017 on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council repealing Council Regulation (EEC) No 1101/89, Regulations (EC) No 2888/2000 and (EC) No 685/2001 (COM(2016)0745 – C8-0501/2016 – 2016/0368(COD))
P8_TA(2017)0325A8-0228/2017

(Ordinary legislative procedure: first reading)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Commission proposal to Parliament and the Council (COM(2016)0745),

–  having regard to Article 294(2) and Article 91 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, pursuant to which the Commission submitted the proposal to Parliament (C8-0501/2016),

–  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 29 March 2017(1),

–  after consulting the Committee of the Regions,

–  having regard to the undertaking given by the Council representative by letter of 5 July 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 Transport and Tourism (A8-0228/2017),

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 12 September 2017 with a view to the adoption of Regulation (EU) 2017/… of the European Parliament and of the Council repealing Regulations (EC) No 2888/2000 and (EC) No 685/2001 of the European Parliament and of the Council and Council Regulation (EEC) No 1101/89

(As an agreement was reached between Parliament and Council, Parliament's position corresponds to the final legislative act, Regulation (EU) 2017/1952.)

(1) OJ C 209, 30.6.2017, p. 58.


Promotion of internet connectivity in local communities ***I
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Resolution
Text
Annex
European Parliament legislative resolution of 12 September 2017 on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Regulations (EU) No 1316/2013 and (EU) No 283/2014 as regards the promotion of Internet connectivity in local communities (COM(2016)0589 – C8-0378/2016 – 2016/0287(COD))
P8_TA(2017)0326A8-0181/2017

(Ordinary legislative procedure: first reading)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Commission proposal to Parliament and the Council (COM(2016)0589),

–  having regard to Article 294(2) and Article 172 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, pursuant to which the Commission submitted the proposal to Parliament (C8-0378/2016),

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

–  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 the opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee of 26 January 2017(1),

–  having regard to the opinion of the Committee of the Regions of 8 February 2017(2),

–  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 7 June 2017 to approve Parliament’s position, in accordance with Article 294(4) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy and the opinions of the Committee on Budgets, the Committee on Transport and Tourism and the Committee on Regional Development (A8-0181/2017),

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

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

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

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

Position of the European Parliament adopted at first reading on 12 September 2017 with a view to the adoption of Regulation (EU) 2017/… of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Regulations (EU) No 1316/2013 and (EU) No 283/2014 as regards the promotion of internet connectivity in local communities

(As an agreement was reached between Parliament and Council, Parliament's position corresponds to the final legislative act, Regulation (EU) 2017/1953.)

ANNEX TO THE LEGISLATIVE RESOLUTION

JOINT STATEMENT BY THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT, THE COUNCIL AND THE COMMISSION

The European Parliament, the Council and the Commission agree that the WiFi4EU initiative should have meaningful impact and scalability. To this end, they note that if an increase of EUR 25 000 000 to EUR 50 000 000 of the financial envelope for the implementation of CEF in the telecommunications sector cannot be secured in full, the Commission might propose reallocations within that envelope in order to facilitate overall funding for the promotion of internet connectivity in local communities of EUR 120 000 000.

(1) OJ C 125, 21.4.2017, p. 69.
(2) OJ C 207, 30.6.2017, p. 87.


Measures to safeguard the security of gas supply ***I
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Resolution
Text
Annex
European Parliament legislative resolution of 12 September 2017 on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council concerning measures to safeguard the security of gas supply and repealing Regulation (EU) No 994/2010 (COM(2016)0052 – C8-0035/2016 – 2016/0030(COD))
P8_TA(2017)0327A8-0310/2016

(Ordinary legislative procedure: first reading)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Commission proposal to Parliament and the Council (COM(2016)0052),

–  having regard to Article 294(2) and Article 194 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, pursuant to which the Commission submitted the proposal to Parliament (C8‑0035/2016),

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

–  having regard to Article 294(3) and Article 194(2) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

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

–  having regard to the opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee of 22 September 2016(1),

–  after consulting the Committee of the Regions,

–  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 10 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 Industry, Research and Energy and the opinions of the Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Committee on Regional Development (A8-0310/2016),

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

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

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

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

Position of the European Parliament adopted at first reading on 12 September 2017 with a view to the adoption of Regulation (EU) 2017/… of the European Parliament and of the Council concerning measures to safeguard the security of gas supply and repealing Regulation (EU) No 994/2010

(As an agreement was reached between Parliament and Council, Parliament's position corresponds to the final legislative act, Regulation (EU) 2017/1938.)

ANNEX TO THE LEGISLATIVE RESOLUTION

STATEMENT OF THE COMMISSION AS REGARDS ARTICLE 16 OF THE REGULATION

The Commission welcomes the co-cooperation mechanisms set out in Article 16 of the proposed Regulation as an important tool for ensuring consistency of preventive action and emergency plans with Energy Community Contracting Parties.

The Commission stresses the importance of effectively ensuring that no measures are put in place by Energy Community Contracting Parties that may negatively affect the security of supply situation in the EU and its Member State and vice versa.

In this respect, the Commission will, without prejudice to its initial Commission proposal of 16 February 2016, consider proposing to the Council in due course a recommendation under Art. 218 TFEU for negotiations on amendments of the Energy Community Treaty with a view to establishing an appropriate legal framework and mechanisms to allow applicability of selected provisions of the Regulation and other relevant parts of the acquis communautaire in the field of energy between the EU and its Member States on the one hand, and Contracting Parties of the Energy Community on the other, so as to ensure effective implementation of a reinforced security of gas supply framework.

(1) OJ C 487, 28.12.2016, p. 70.


Whale hunting in Norway
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European Parliament resolution of 12 September 2017 on whale hunting in Norway (2017/2712(RSP))
P8_TA(2017)0328B8-0499/2017

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the International Whaling Commission (IWC) agreement on zero catch limits for commercial whaling which came into effect in 1986 (‘the moratorium’),

–  having regard to IWC Resolution 2016-3 on cetaceans and their contribution to ecosystem functioning,

–  having regard to IWC Resolution 2014-2 on highly migratory cetaceans,

–  having regard to the Aichi Biodiversity Targets agreed under the International Convention on Biological Diversity,

–  having regard to Council Directive 92/43/EEC of 21 May 1992 on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora(1),

–  having regard to Commission Regulation (EC) No 865/2006 of 4 May 2006(2) and Commission Regulation (EU) No 791/2012 of 23 August 2012(3),

–  having regard to Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) No 792/2012 of 23 August 2012 laying down rules for the design of permits, certificates and other documents provided for in Council Regulation (EC) No 338/97 on the protection of species of wild fauna and flora by regulating the trade therein and amending Regulation (EC) No 865/2006(4),

–  having regard to its resolution of 15 September 2016 on the EU strategic objectives for the 17th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in endangered species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES)(5),

–  having regard to its resolution of 19 February 2009 on Community action in relation to whaling(6),

–  having regard to the EU Action Plan against Wildlife Trafficking of 2016,

–  having regard to the question to the Commission on whale hunting in Norway (O‑000058/2017 – B8‑0324/2017),

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

A.  whereas in 1982 the International Whaling Commission (IWC) introduced a moratorium on all commercial whaling, which came into effect in 1986 and is still in force, in order to protect species and populations from extinction and allow them to recover;

B.  whereas Norway, despite this international ban, has continued its whaling activities, and in 1993 fully resumed commercial whaling using a formal objection to the moratorium, as well as entering and maintaining reservations regarding the CITES listings;

C.  whereas Norway became a party to CITES on 19 December 1979, making it one of the first countries to agree to be bound by that convention;

D.  whereas media sources estimate that approximately 90 % of whales killed by Norway are female, most of them pregnant, by reason of their slower response time;

E.  whereas Norway has killed over 13 000 whales since the moratorium came into effect in 1986(7);

F.  whereas whaling causes severe suffering to individual animals, threatening both the complex social structures of intelligent mammals and the conservation status of whale populations as a whole;

G.  whereas all species of great whales are listed in Annex A to Council Regulation (EC) No 338/97, reflecting the fact that they are threatened with extinction and that any level of trade would imperil the survival of the species; whereas Article 8(1) of that regulation prohibits the purchase, offer to purchase, acquisition for commercial purposes, display to the public for commercial purposes, use for commercial gain and sale, keeping for sale, offering for sale or transporting for sale of specimens of the species listed in Annex A;

H.  whereas there is increasing scientific evidence to suggest that whales enhance ecosystem productivity and may play a role in regulating atmospheric CO2 levels;

I.  whereas Norway unilaterally establishes its own catch limits; whereas for the 2017 whaling season Norway increased its quota of minke whales to 999 (up from 880 in 2016);

J.  whereas Norway’s exports of whalemeat have increased sharply in recent years; whereas some of these exports are shipped through EU ports;

K.  whereas in October 2016 alone, 2 948 kg of Norwegian whale products were found to have been exported to Japan, transiting through at least three EU ports(8);

L.  whereas the transit of whalemeat through EU ports is permitted provided shipments are accompanied by valid CITES documentation pursuant to Council Regulation (EC) No 338/97;

M.  whereas the primary objective of CITES is the protection of biodiversity, and in particular the conservation of species; whereas the EU Habitats Directive, which defines the Community position with respect to whales (and dolphins), does not allow the resumption of commercial whaling in respect of any stock of whales in EU waters;

N.  whereas Norway is closely associated with the Union and its policies through its membership of the European Economic Area; whereas this has ensured that the peoples and governments of both Norway and the EU have maintained strong cultural links, a healthy trading relationship and a commitment to conservation;

1.  Calls on Norway to cease all its commercial whaling operations and to abide by the IWC moratorium;

2.  Calls on Norway to withdraw its reservations concerning the CITES Appendix I listings of large whale species and to cease all trade in whalemeat and whale products;

3.  Regrets that Norway is subsidising the whale industry and promotes the consumption and use of products resulting from whaling; urges Norway to cease these subsidies;

4.  Strongly supports the continuation of the global moratorium on commercial whaling and a ban on international commercial trade in whale products;

5.  Notes that the Member States signed up to the EU Action Plan against Wildlife Trafficking; recalls action 9 of that plan, which calls on Member States and the Commission to develop strategies to improve compliance with existing EU wildlife legislation at a national level;

6.  Regrets that at the debate which Parliament held in plenary on 6 July 2017 the Commission was not able or willing to provide Parliament with data on shipments of whalemeat transferred through EU ports; urges the Commission to collect and provide the necessary data;

7.  Calls on the Commission to look into all possible ways of ensuring that whalemeat is no longer legally allowed to transit through EU ports, including by recommending a ban on such transits as an exceptional measure;

8.  Regrets that Norway has so far not reconsidered its decision, despite past and ongoing diplomatic reactions and widespread international protests; calls on the Commission, the European External Action Service (EEAS) and the Council to make use of bilateral and multilateral channels to urge Norway to stop all commercial whaling;

9.  Urges the Council and Commission, at the forthcoming IWC-67 meetings, to take a common approach to whaling that is at least as precautionary as the present common position, and to engage with third countries in order to achieve majority support for the creation of whale sanctuaries;

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

(1) OJ L 206, 22.7.1992, p. 7.
(2) OJ L 166, 19.6.2006, p. 1.
(3) OJ L 242, 7.9.2012, p. 1.
(4) OJ L 242, 7.9.2012, p. 13.
(5) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0356.
(6) OJ C 76 E, 25.3.2010, p. 46.
(7) https://iwc.int/table_objection
(8) http://www.maritime-executive.com/article/norways-whaling-comes-under-fire


EU accession to the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence
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European Parliament resolution of 12 September 2017 on the proposal for a Council decision on the conclusion, by the European Union, of the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (COM(2016)01092016/0062(NLE))
P8_TA(2017)0329A8-0266/2017

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the proposal for a Council Decision (COM(2016)0109),

–  having regard to the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, which opened for signature in Istanbul on 11 May 2011 (hereinafter the ‘Istanbul Convention’),

–  having regard to Article 2 and Article 3(3), second subparagraph, of the Treaty on European Union (TEU),

–  having regard to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), and in particular to its Articles 8, 19, 157, 216 and 218(6), second subparagraph, point (a),

–  having regard to Articles 21, 23, 24 25 and 26 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union,

–  having regard to the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action adopted by the Fourth World Conference on Women on 15 September 1995, and to the subsequent outcome documents adopted at the United Nations Beijing +5 (2000), Beijing +10 (2005), Beijing +15 (2010) and Beijing +20 (2015) special sessions,

–  having regard to the provisions of the UN legal instruments in the sphere of human rights, in particular those concerning women’s rights, such as the UN Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons and of the Exploitation of the Prostitution of Others, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and its Optional Protocol, the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and the principle of non-refoulement, and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child,

–  having regard to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, to which the EU is a State Party, including the 2015 Concluding Observations of the United UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) to the EU, which call on the EU to accede to the Istanbul Convention as a way to protect women and girls with disabilities from violence,

–  having regard to its report on the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which calls for the EU to become a party to the Istanbul Convention as a further step in combating violence against women and girls with disabilities,

–  having regard to the General Comment adopted on 26 August 2016 by the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities on Article 6 (‘Women and Girls with Disabilities’) of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities,

–  having regard to its resolution of 9 June 2015 on the EU Strategy for equality between women and men post 2015(1),

–  having regard to its resolutions of 26 November 2009 on the elimination of violence against women(2), of 5 April 2011 on priorities and outline of a new EU policy framework to fight violence against women(3), and of 6 February 2013 on ‘The 57th session on UN CSW: Elimination and prevention of all forms of violence against women and girls’(4),

–  having regard to its resolution of 25 February 2014 with recommendations to the Commission on combating violence against women(5) and to the European Added Value Assessment,

–  having regard to its resolution of 24 November 2016 on the EU accession to the Istanbul Convention on preventing and combating violence against women(6),

–  having regard to the European Pact for Gender Equality (2011-2020), adopted by the Council of the European Union in March 2011,

–  having regard to the EU guidelines on violence against women and girls and combating all forms of discrimination against them,

–  having regard to the Commission staff working document of 3 December 2015 entitled ‘Strategic engagement for gender equality 2016-2019’ (SWD(2015)0278),

–  having regard to its resolution of 9 September 2015 on empowering girls through education in the EU(7),

–  having regard to the EU Presidency Trio declaration of 7 December 2015 by the Netherlands, Slovakia and Malta on gender equality,

–  having regard to Directive 2012/29/EU 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(8),

–  having regard to Directive 2011/99/EU of 13 December 2011 on the European protection order(9) and to Regulation (EU) No 606/2013 of 12 June 2013 on mutual recognition of protection measures in civil matters(10),

–  having regard to Directive 2011/36/EU of 5 April 2011 on preventing and combating trafficking in human beings and protecting its victims and replacing Council Framework Decision 2002/629/JHA(11) and to Directive 2011/93/EU of 13 December 2011 on combating the sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children and child pornography, and replacing Council Framework Decision 2004/68/JHA(12),

–  having regard to Directive 2006/54/EC on the implementation of the principle of equal opportunities and equal treatment of men and women in matters of employment and occupation and Directive 2004/113/EC on implementing the principle of equal treatment between men and women in the access to and supply of goods and services, which define and condemn harassment and sexual harassment,

–  having regard to the Commission roadmap on a possible EU accession to the Istanbul Convention, published in October 2015,

–  having regard to the Third Quarterly Activity Report of the Commissioner of Human Rights of the Council of Europe of 16 November 2016, in relation to the definition of gender-based violence in the Istanbul Convention,

–  having regard to the Joint Statement by the Presidency, the European Commission and the European Parliament calling for swift EU accession to the Istanbul Convention on combating violence against women adopted in Malta on 3 February 2017,

–  having regard to its resolutions of 14 March 2017 on equality between women and men in the European Union in 2014-2015(13), and of 10 March 2015 on progress on equality between women and men in the European Union in 2013(14),

–  having regard to the study of 2016 by its Policy Department for Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs entitled ‘Knowledge and Know-How: The Role of Self-Defence in the Prevention of Violence against Women’, in particular in relation to the contribution of self-defence training to implementing Article 12 of the Istanbul Convention,

–  having regard to Rule 99(5) of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the joint deliberations of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs and the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality under Rule 55 of the Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the interim report of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs and the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality and the opinion of the Committee on Legal Affairs (A8-0266/2017),

A.  whereas gender equality is a core value of the EU; whereas the right to equal treatment and non-discrimination is a fundamental right enshrined in the Treaties and in the Charter of Fundamental Rights and should be fully respected, promoted and applied in legislation, practice, case law and daily life; whereas, according to the Gender Equality Index, no EU country has yet fully achieved equality between women and men; whereas gender-based violence is both a cause and a consequence of inequalities between women and men;

B.  whereas modern forms of slavery and human trafficking, which mainly affect women, are still persistent in the EU;

C.  whereas Member States have to acknowledge that once violence has occurred society has failed in its first and foremost duty of protection, and the only means left are reactive measures such as compensating the victims and prosecuting the offenders;

D.  whereas the EU must take all necessary measures, in cooperation with its Member States, to promote and protect the right of all women and girls to live free from violence, whether physical or psychological, in both the public and the private spheres;

E.  whereas gender-based violence should not be taken lightly or seen as an issue that can be postponed and dealt with later, since it affects over 250 million women and girls in the EU alone and has tremendous effects on society, increasing fear and polarisation and contributing to stress and mental illness as it threatens the security of half the population; whereas the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) estimates that the cost to society from sexual-based violence in the EU is EUR 226 billion yearly;

F.  whereas violence against women(15) and gender-based violence, both physical and psychological, are widespread in the EU and are to be understood as an extreme form of discrimination and a violation of human rights affecting women at all levels of society, regardless of age, education, income, social position or country of origin or residence, and representing a major hindrance to equality between women and men, also economically and politically; whereas further measures are needed to encourage women who have been the victims of violence to report their experiences and seek assistance, and to ensure that they receive appropriate support in line with their needs, are informed about their rights, and have access to justice in order for the perpetrators to be prosecuted;

G.  whereas the report published in March 2014 by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights entitled ‘Violence against women: an EU-wide survey’ shows that one-third of all women in Europe have experienced physical or sexual acts of violence at least once during their adult lives, 20 % have experienced online harassment, one in twenty have been raped and more than one-tenth have suffered sexual violence involving the use of force;

H.  whereas one in ten women have been subjected to sexual harassment or stalking using new technology, while 75 % of women in higher decision-making roles have had to withstand sexual harassment; whereas this shows that no woman or girl, regardless of age and position in life, is safe from sexual-based violence;

I.  whereas measures must be taken to address the emerging phenomenon of gender-based violence online, including bullying, harassment and intimidation, particularly of young women and girls and of LGBTI people;

J.  whereas citizens and residents in the Union are not equally protected against gender-based violence, owing to the lack of a European strategy, including a legislative act, and to the existence of differing policies and legislation across Member States, as regards inter alia the definition of offences and the scope of the legislation, and therefore remain vulnerable to such violence; whereas there are also differences within the EU in terms of information, access to and provision of shelters, support services and rights;

K.  whereas violence against women is linked to the unequal distribution of power between women and men, to sexism and gender stereotypes, that have led to domination over and discrimination against women by men and to the prevention of women’s full advancement;

L.  whereas violence against women contributes to the persistence of gender-based inequalities by hampering victims’ access to employment, with negative effects on their financial independence and the economy in general;

M.  whereas an important factor to why women do not report sexual-based violence is due to their economic dependency on the perpetrator;

N.  whereas extreme poverty increases the risk of violence and other forms of exploitation that hamper the full participation of women in all areas of life and the achievement of gender equality;

O.  whereas more must be done to facilitate and encourage the participation of women in the political, economic, and social spheres and to increase the visibility of women in leadership positions, so as to combat objectification and a culture of gender-based violence;

P.  whereas the Istanbul Convention stipulates that all its provisions, in particular measures to protect the rights of victims, shall be secured ‘without discrimination on any ground such as sex, gender, race, colour, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, association with a national minority, property, birth, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, state of health, disability, marital status, migrant or refugee status, or other status’;

Q.  whereas women with disabilities are 1,5 to 10 times more likely to be the subject of gender-based violence, and because of their position of dependence it is even harder for these women to report the violence; whereas women and girls with disabilities do not form a homogenous group, but, rather, a group which includes women of different status and in diverse situations and women with different types of impairments, such as physical, psychosocial, intellectual or sensory conditions that may or may not be accompanied by functional limitations; whereas the UNCRPD requires that States Parties take measures to ensure the full and equal enjoyment by women with disabilities of all human rights and fundamental freedoms;

R.  whereas some groups of women and girls, such as migrant women, women refugees and asylum seekers, women and girls with disabilities, LBTI women and Roma women, are at risk of multiple discrimination and are therefore even more vulnerable to violence, owing to motives fuelled by sexism coupled with racism, xenophobia, homophobia, transphobia or intersexphobia as well as discrimination based on age, disability, ethnicity or religion; whereas women in Europe face intersecting and multiple forms of discrimination that prevent them from accessing justice and support and protection services and from enjoying their fundamental rights; whereas women should be granted specialist support services in the implementation of protection measures;

S.  whereas violence against women, including domestic violence, is too often considered as a private issue and too easily tolerated; whereas in fact it constitutes a systemic violation of fundamental rights and a serious crime that must be punished as such; whereas impunity must end by ensuring that perpetrators are prosecuted and that women and girls who are survivors of violence receive proper support and recognition from the judicial system, in order to break the vicious circle of silence and loneliness for those who have been the victims of violence, independently of their geographic origin or social class;

T.  whereas significant cultural differences exist between Member States concerning the likelihood of women reporting rape or sexual assault, and official statistics reflect this tendency more than the factual number of rapes or sexual assaults committed in a country;

U.  whereas in most cases of murders of women the perpetrators are their husbands, ex-husbands, partners or ex-partners, who do not accept the end of a marriage or relationship;

V.  whereas the perpetrator of gender-based violence is often a person already known to the victim and in many cases the victim is in a position of dependence, which increases the fear of reporting the violence;

W.  whereas gender stereotypes and sexism, including sexist hate speech, occurring worldwide, offline and online and in public and private life, are one of the root causes of all forms of violence against women;

X.  whereas exposure to physical, sexual or psychological violence and abuse has a severe impact on victims which may result in physical, sexual, emotional or psychological harm or economic damage; whereas this impact is also felt by families and relatives and by society as a whole; whereas children do not need to be directly the object of violence to be considered as victims, as witnessing domestic violence is also traumatising;

Y.  whereas the Istanbul Convention, in its Article 3, clearly defines ‘gender-based violence’ as ‘violence that is directed against a woman because she is a woman or that affects women disproportionately’, and furthermore defines ‘gender’ as ‘the socially constructed roles, behaviours, activities and attributes that a given society considers appropriate for women and men’;

Z.  whereas in order to reduce the estimated number of unreported cases Member States must have sufficient institutions in place for women to feel safe and able to report gender- based violence;

AA.  whereas only a mix of policies combining legislative and non-legislative measures, such as infrastructural, legal, judicial, cultural, educational, social and health actions, and measures to facilitate victims’ access to housing and employment, including providing shelter for victims, as well as equal participation of women in all areas of society, can significantly reduce violence against women and gender-based violence and its consequences; whereas civil society, and women’s organisations in particular, make a very important contribution to preventing and combating all forms of violence and their work should be recognised, encouraged and supported so that they can carry it out in the best possible way;

AB.  whereas the education and training of girls and women is an important European value, a fundamental human right and an essential element for the empowerment of girls and women on the social, cultural and professional levels, as well as for the full enjoyment of all other social, economic, cultural and political rights, and subsequently the prevention of violence against women and girls;

AC.  whereas only states are able to provide free and compulsory universal education, which is a sine qua non for guaranteeing equal opportunities for all genders;

AD.   whereas the Istanbul Convention stresses the importance of changing mentalities and attitudes in order to break out of the continuum of gender-based violence; whereas education at all levels and for persons of all ages on equality between women and men, on non-stereotype gender roles and on respect for personal integrity, is therefore required in this regard; whereas self-defence training is one of the efficient tools for reducing victimisation and its negative impact, challenging gender stereotypes and empowering women and girls;

AE.  whereas the immediate accession of all Member States to the Istanbul Convention would contribute substantially to the development of an integrated policy and to the promotion of international cooperation in the fight against all forms of violence against women;

AF.  whereas the EU must work to advance the fight to eliminate gender-based violence in its neighbourhood and around the world, as part of the global effort to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and including combating the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war;

AG.  whereas the Istanbul Convention is a mixed agreement that allows for accession by the EU in parallel to accession by its Member States;

AH.  whereas all Member States have signed the Istanbul Convention, but only 14 have ratified it; whereas the EU’s accession to the Convention does not exonerate Member States from national ratification;

AI.  whereas the ratification of the Istanbul Convention requires proper enforcement, effective implementation, and allocation of adequate financial and human resources;

1.  Welcomes the fact that on 4 March 2016 the Commission proposed the EU’s accession to the Istanbul Convention, namely the first comprehensive legally binding instrument on preventing and combating violence against women and gender-based violence, including domestic violence(16), at international level;

2.  Welcomes the signing of the EU’s accession to the Istanbul Convention on 13 June 2017; regrets, however, that the limitation to two areas, i.e. matters related to judicial cooperation in criminal matters and asylum and non-refoulement, raises legal uncertainties as to the scope of the EU’s accession, as well as concerns regarding the implementation of the Convention;

3.  Condemns all forms of violence against women, and deplores the fact that women and girls are often exposed to domestic violence, sexual harassment, psychological and physical violence, stalking, sexual violence, rape, forced marriage, female genital mutilation (FGM), forced abortion, forced sterilisation, sexual exploitation and human trafficking and other forms of violence, which constitute a serious violation of their human rights and dignity; stresses that the Istanbul Convention lays down that culture, custom, religion, tradition or so-called ‘honour’ cannot be a justification of any acts of violence against women; denounces the fact that more and more women and girls are victims of gender-based violence on the internet and on social media; calls on the Member States to adopt concrete measures to address these new forms of crime, including sex-extortion, grooming, voyeurism and revenge pornography, and to protect the victims, who can experience serious trauma leading sometimes even to suicide;

4.  Strongly affirms that the denial of sexual and reproductive health and rights services, including safe and legal abortion, is a form of violence against women and girls; reiterates that women and girls must have control over their bodies and sexualities; calls on all the Member States to guarantee comprehensive sexuality education, ready access for women to family planning, and the full range of reproductive and sexual health services, including modern contraceptive methods and safe and legal abortion";

5.  Stresses that forced pregnancy is defined as a crime against humanity in Article 7 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court of 17 July 1998 and is a form of gender-based violence against women that constitutes a serious violation of the human rights and dignity of women and girls;

6.  Stresses that the Istanbul Convention follows a holistic, comprehensive and coordinated approach placing the rights of the victim at the centre, by addressing the issues of violence against women and girls and gender-based violence, including domestic violence, from a wide range of perspectives, providing for measures such as the prevention of violence, the fight against discrimination, criminal law measures to combat impunity, victim protection and support, the protection of children, the protection of women asylum seekers and refugees, and better data collection and awareness-raising campaigns or programmes, including in cooperation with national human rights and equality bodies, civil society and NGOs;

7.  Highlights that the Istanbul Convention provides a sound basis for changing the social structures that create, legitimate and perpetuate violence against women, and provides tools for the introduction of measures to that effect; stresses that the Convention simultaneously addresses prevention, protection and prosecution (the ‘three-tiered approach’) and applies a comprehensive and coordinated approach, stemming from the principle of due diligence which establishes a positive obligation on states to respond effectively to all acts of violence (Article 5 of the Convention);

8.  Emphasises that the EU’s accession will provide a coherent European legal framework to prevent and combat violence against women and gender-based violence and to protect and support victims in the EU’s internal and external policies, as well as bringing about better monitoring, interpretation and implementation of EU laws, programmes and funds relevant to the Convention, together with better collection of comparable disaggregated data at EU level; considers that by acceding to the Convention the EU will become a more efficient global actor in the field of women’s rights;

9.  Asks the Council, the Commission and the Member States to take into account the following recommendations:

   (a) To urge the Member States to speed up negotiations on the ratification and implementation of the Istanbul Convention; to strongly condemn attempts to retract measures already taken in implementing the Istanbul Convention and in combating violence against women;
   (b) To ask the Commission to initiate, without delay or postponement, a constructive dialogue with the Council and Member States, in cooperation with the Council of Europe, so as to address reservations, objections and concerns expressed by Member States, and in particular to clarify misleading interpretations of the Istanbul Convention on the definition of gender-based violence and the definition of gender in Article 3(c) and (d), in accordance with the General Remarks of the Commissioner of Human Rights of the Council of Europe;
   (c) To keep Parliament fully informed of the relevant aspects of the negotiations at all stages, so that it may properly exercise the rights conferred on it by the Treaties in accordance with Article 218 TFEU;
   (d) To ensure, despite the signing of the EU’s accession to the Istanbul Convention, a broad EU accession to the Convention without any limitations;
   (e) To make sure that the Member States enforce the Istanbul Convention and allocate adequate financial and human resources to preventing and combating violence against women and gender-based violence, including domestic violence, empowering women and girls, and protecting victims and enabling them to be compensated, especially in the case of those living in areas where protection services for victims do not exist or are very limited;
   (f) To ask the Commission to draw up a holistic EU strategy on combating violence against women and gender-based violence that includes a comprehensive plan to combat all forms of gender inequalities, integrating all EU efforts to eradicate violence against women;
   (g) To designate an EU Coordinator to act as representative of the EU to the Committee of the Parties at the Council of Europe once the Istanbul Convention is ratified by the EU; this coordinator would be responsible for the coordination, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of policies and measures to prevent and combat all forms of violence against women and girls;
   (h) To ensure that Parliament will be fully engaged in the monitoring process of the Istanbul Convention following the EU’s accession; to proceed with a swift agreement on a code of conduct concerning cooperation between the EU and its Member States for the implementation of the Convention, which should also involve civil society organisations, particularly women´s rights organisations;
   (i) To urge the Commission and the Member States to produce practical guidelines and strategies for the application of the Istanbul Convention, in order to facilitate its smooth implementation and enforcement in those Member States that have already ratified it, while also responding to the concerns of those that have not yet ratified it and encouraging them to do so;
   (j) To ensure appropriate training, procedures and guidelines for all professionals dealing with the victims of all acts of violence covered by the scope of the Convention in order to avoid discrimination or re-victimisation during judicial, medical and police proceedings;
   (k) To ensure preventive measures to address the specific needs of vulnerable persons, such as women with disabilities, refugee women, child victims, pregnant women, LBTI women and women with additional support needs, including targeted and easily accessible specialist support services, together with adequate healthcare services and safe accommodation for women who have been the victims of gender-based violence and their children;
   (l) To take into account significant incidents of violence against women and gender-based violence, including domestic violence, when determining custody and visiting rights; the rights and needs of child witnesses should be also taken into account when providing protection and support services to victims;
   (m) To actively promote a change in attitudes and behaviour and to combat sexism and stereotyped gender roles, including by promoting gender-neutral language, making concerted efforts to address the key role of media and advertising in this area, and encouraging everyone, including men and boys, to play an active part in preventing all forms of violence; to call on the Member States, therefore, to adopt and implement active policies for social inclusion, intercultural dialogue, sex and relationship education, human rights education and anti-discrimination, as well as gender equality training for law enforcement and judicial professionals; to encourage Member States to include in their education systems the elimination of all obstacles to genuine equality between women and men and to fully promote that goal;
   (n) To encourage Member States to implement policies that aim to build societies free from violence of any kind and to use the Istanbul Convention in this manner;
   (o) To ensure that the proactive measures against violence acknowledge the gender-based reality where the absolute majority of perpetrators are men; to encourage Member States to work with evidence-based violence-reducing tactics to target this problem;
   (p) To take the necessary measures pursuant to Articles 60 and 61 of the Convention on migration and asylum, taking into account the fact that migrant women and girls, whether properly documented or not, and women asylum seekers, have the right to live free from violence whether in the public or private sphere and are particularly vulnerable to gender-based violence, recalling that gender-based violence, including FGM, can be recognised as a form of persecution and that the victims can thus avail themselves of the protection offered by the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees; to ensure that Member States respect a gender-sensitive approach in all asylum and reception procedures and respect the principle of non-refoulement;
   (q) To promote gender budgeting as a tool for preventing and combating against gender-based violence in relevant policy areas, as well as ensuring resources and funding for access to justice for victims and survivors of violence;
   (r) To improve and promote the collection of relevant disaggregated comparable data on cases of violence of all kinds covered by the Istanbul Convention, in cooperation with EIGE, including data broken down by age and gender of the perpetrators and relationship between the perpetrator and the victim, in order to build a common methodology to compare databases and data analysis, thus ensuring a better understanding of the problem, and to raise awareness of and assess and improve Member States’ actions to prevent and combat violence against women and gender-based violence;

10.  Stresses that in order to be more effective, measures combating violence against women should be accompanied by actions tackling gender-based economic inequalities and promoting the financial independence of women;

11.  Calls on the Commission to submit a legal act to support Member States in the prevention and suppression of all forms of violence against women and girls and of gender-based violence;

12.  Calls on the Council to activate the passerelle clause by adopting a unanimous decision to identify violence against women and girls (and other forms of gender-based violence) as an area of crime under Article 83(1) TFEU;

13.  Calls on the Commission to revise the EU framework decision currently in force on combating certain forms and expressions of racism and xenophobia by means of criminal law, in order to include sexism, bias crime and incitement to hatred on grounds of sexual orientation, gender identity and sex characteristics;

14.  Calls on the Member States to fully implement Directive 2011/99/EU on European Protection order, Regulation (EU) No 606/2013 on mutual recognition of protection measures in civil matter and Directive 2012/29/EU on protection of victims, as well as Directive 2011/36/EU on preventing and combating trafficking in Human being and Directive 2011/93/EU on preventing and combating child sexual abuse and exploitation;

15.  Calls once again on the Commission to set up a European Monitoring Observatory on gender-based violence (along the lines of the existing European Institute for Gender Equality);

16.  Urges the Estonian Presidency to accelerate the EU’s ratification of the Istanbul Convention;

17.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the governments of the Member States, and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.

(1) OJ C 407, 4.11.2016, p. 2.
(2) OJ C 285 E, 21.10.2010, p. 53.
(3) OJ C 296 E, 2.10.2012, p. 26.
(4) OJ C 24, 22.1.2016, p. 8.
(5) OJ C 285, 29.8.2017, p. 2.
(6) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0451.
(7) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0312.
(8) OJ L 315, 14.11.2012, p. 57.
(9) OJ L 338, 21.12.2011, p. 2.
(10) OJ L 181, 29.6.2013, p. 4.
(11) OJ L 101, 15.4.2011, p. 1.
(12) OJ L 335, 17.12.2011, p. 1.
(13) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0073.
(14) OJ C 316, 30.8.2016, p. 2.
(15) For the purposes of the Istanbul Convention, the term ‘women’ includes girls aged under 18 (Article 3).
(16) See the definitions in Article 3 of the Istanbul Convention.


Impact of international trade and EU’s trade policies on global value chains
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European Parliament resolution of 12 September 2017 on the impact of international trade and the EU’s trade policies on global value chains (2016/2301(INI))
P8_TA(2017)0330A8-0269/2017

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to Article 208 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU),

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

–  having regard to the Commission communication entitled ‘Trade for all: Towards a more responsible trade and investment policy’ (COM(2015)0497),

–  having regard to its resolution of 5 July 2016 on a new forward-looking and innovative future strategy for trade and investment(1),

–  having regard to its resolution of 5 July 2016 on implementation of the 2010 recommendations of Parliament on social and environmental standards, human rights and corporate responsibility(2),

–  having regard to its resolution of 16 May 2017 on the evaluation of external aspects of the customs performance and management as a tool to facilitate trade and fight illicit trade(3),

–  having regard to its resolution of 25 November 2010 on corporate social responsibility in international trade agreements(4),

–  having regard to its resolution of 25 October 2016 on corporate liability for serious human rights abuses in third countries(5),

–  having regard to its resolution of 27 April 2017 on the EU flagship initiative on the garment sector(6),

–  having regard to its resolution of 4 April 2017 on palm oil and deforestation of rainforests(7),

–  having regard to its resolution of 3 February 2016 containing the European Parliament’s recommendations to the Commission on the negotiations for the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA)(8),

–  having regard to its resolution of 8 July 2015 containing the European Parliament’s recommendations to the European Commission on the negotiations for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP)(9),

–  having regard to its Resolution of 14 June 2017 on the state of play of the implementation of the Sustainability Compact in Bangladesh(10),

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) 2017/821 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 May 2017 laying down supply chain due diligence obligations for Union importers of tin, tantalum and tungsten, their ores, and gold originating from conflict-affected and high-risk areas(11) (Conflict Minerals Regulation),

–  having regard to the Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade Action Plan (COM(2003)0251) and FLEGT Voluntary Partnership Agreements,

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 995/2010 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 October 2010 laying down the obligations of operators who place timber and timber products on the market(12) (Timber Regulation),

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 978/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 October 2012 applying a scheme of generalised tariff preferences(13) (GSP Regulation),

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 1215/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 December 2012 on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters(14) (Brussels I Regulation),

–  having regard to Directive 2014/95/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 October 2014 amending Directive 2013/34/EU as regards disclosure of non-financial and diversity information by certain large undertakings and groups(15) (Non-Financial Reporting Directive),

–  having regard to the 2007 joint strategy of the EU and its Member States entitled ‘Aid for trade: Enhancing EU support for trade-related needs in developing countries’,

–  having regard to the Commission staff working document of 24 April 2017 entitled ‘Sustainable garment value chains through EU development action’ (SWD(2017)0147),

–  having regard to the ILO Tripartite Declaration of Principles concerning Multinational Enterprises and Social Policy,

–  having regard to Report IV of the 105th ILO Conference on decent work in global supply chains,

–  having regard to the 2030 UN Sustainable Development Goals,

–  having regard to the fundamental ILO Conventions on child labour, forced labour, discrimination, and freedom of association and collective bargaining,

–  having regard to the Council conclusions of 12 May 2016 on the EU and responsible global value chains,

–  having regard to the Commission communication on a renewed EU strategy 2011-14 for Corporate Social Responsibility (COM(2011)0681),

–  having regard to the UK Modern Slavery Act 2015 and the French law on the duty of care of multinational companies,

–  having regard to the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and the UN Global Compact,

–  having regard to the UN International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families,

–  having regard the new ILO Protocol on Forced Labour,

–  having regard to UN Human Rights Council Resolution 26/9 of 26 June 2014, in which the UNHRC decided to establish an open-ended intergovernmental working group with the mandate to elaborate an international legally binding instrument on transnational corporations and other business enterprises with respect to human rights,

–  having regard to the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises and several sector-specific OECD guidelines (financial, agricultural, mineral, garment and footwear sectors),

–  having regard to the UNCTAD Trade and Development Reports of 2013 and 2016,

–  having regard to the 2015 UNCTAD Investment Policy Framework for Sustainable Development,

–  having regard to the World Trade Organisation Technical Barriers to Trade (WTO TBT) Agreement,

–  having regard to the WTO General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT),

–  having regard to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, and the Children’s Rights and Business Principles developed by UNICEF, the UN Global Compact and Save the Children(16),

–  having regard to voluntary country-specific partnerships, such as the Bangladesh Sustainability Compact and the Myanmar Labour Rights Initiative,

–  having regard to the Council conclusions of 20 June 2016 on Child Labour,

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on International Trade, the opinions of the Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Committee on Development and the position in the form of amendments of the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality (A8-0269/2017),

A.  whereas Article 207 of the TFEU stipulates that the EU’s trade policy must be built on the principles and objectives of EU external policy; whereas Article 208 of the TFEU establishes the principle of policy coherence for development and sets the eradication of poverty as the main objective; whereas the Commission’s Trade for All communication bases EU trade policy on three key principles – effectiveness, transparency and values; whereas this communication has a dedicated section on responding to the rise of global value chains and on the responsible management of supply chains, recalling its complexity, the fundamental need to think prospectively, for the involvement of a range of public, private and civil society actors and for the use of a mix of soft and innovative tools and legislative changes;

B.  whereas free trade has come under increasing public scrutiny of late and concerns about the inequitable distribution of the benefits and loads of trade have brought to the forefront a largely shared view that trade policy needs to put social and environmental values, as well as transparency and accountability, at its core;

C.  whereas global value chains (GVCs) are a complex, technology- driven and rapidly changing reality which have become a key feature of today’s global economy and may help developing countries to better integrate into it and to reduce poverty and create jobs, while at the same time increasing production capacity; whereas, on the one hand, GVCs offer new prospects for economic growth, sustainable development, the involvement of civil society, workers and business associations, and for job creation for companies within the production chain, by enabling them to focus on specific tasks while increasing their interdependence; whereas, on the other hand, their extremely complex nature, lack of transparency and dilution of liabilities may lead to a higher risk of human and labour rights violations, factual impunity for environmental crimes and large-scale tax avoidance and tax fraud;

D.  whereas trade policy must contribute to ensuring a transparent production process throughout the value chain, as well as compliance with fundamental environmental, social and safety standards;

E.  whereas EU trade and investment policy must maintain the multilateral system as its cornerstone and strengthen Europe’s position in fair global supply chains, but must also provide tools to establish clear rules and responsibilities for governments and companies in order to ensure compliance with international commitments such as the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); whereas sustainability and transparency are not only a matter of values but should also be seen as real drivers of increased added value in global trade and investment in the context of GVCs;

F.  whereas SMEs(17) form an important part of the GVCs and play an important role in promoting economic growth, sustainable development and quality jobs and in keeping local populations from moving away from their regions;

G.  whereas participation in GVCs is beneficial for SMEs in terms of growth and internationalisation; whereas according to the 2015 Eurobarometer survey entitled ‘Internationalisation of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises’, only 31 % of SMEs in the EU were involved in business outside the Internal Market in the previous three years; whereas many SMEs face difficulties securing access to international and EU-based GVCs; whereas trade policy and trade agreements can help overcome the barriers and challenges that SMEs currently face in accessing GVCs;

H.  whereas voluntary due diligence and GVC transparency schemes are being used and promoted worldwide by economic and social partners and NGOs, producing substantive and positive results;

I.  whereas in its May 2016 conclusions, the Council underlined ‘the need for continued advocacy for the uptake of internationally agreed principles, guidelines and initiatives on CSR/RBC such as the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, the UN Global Compact, the ILO Tripartite Declaration on Principles concerning Multinational Enterprises and Social Policy, and the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, including in non-OECD member countries, also contributing to anti-corruption efforts by creating more open and transparent business environments’;

J.  whereas responsible global management of GVCs is essential in order to align trade policy with the European values enshrined in the Treaties; whereas both the Commission and the Member States have been at the forefront of these debates worldwide;

K.  whereas several international conventions, guidelines and rules aim to prevent human rights abuses; whereas producer countries in particular have the obligation to implement them and to create the appropriate legal and economic conditions under which businesses can operate and find a place in global supply chains; whereas producer countries must also be able to implement international standards and norms, including drawing up, implementing and enforcing appropriate legislation, particularly in the area of establishing the rule of law and combating corruption;

L.  whereas the EU should respond even more effectively to social and environmental dumping and unfair competition and trade practices, and ensure a level playing field;

M.  whereas the EU is the world’s largest exporter and importer of goods and services taken together, the largest foreign direct investor and the most important destination for foreign direct investment (FDI); whereas the EU should use this strength to benefit both its own citizens and those in other parts of the world, particularly in the world’s poorest countries;

N.  whereas the EU has developed binding regulations in the area of corporate due diligence in specific sectors where there is a high risk of human rights abuses, such as timber and conflict minerals; whereas some Member States have also developed legislation, such as the UK Modern Slavery Act, the French Law on the duty of care of multinational companies (MNCs), which applies to large French companies numbering more than 5 000 workers, and the Dutch Child Labour Due Diligence Bill; whereas the EU has developed initiatives to promote due diligence and several European Parliament resolutions have called for the EU to develop binding rules on the issue;

O.  whereas the EU has already taken important steps towards a more responsible management of GVCs worldwide by developing specific partnerships,- such as the Bangladesh Sustainability Compact and the Labour Rights Initiative with Myanmar, and on specific issues, such as the conflict minerals initiative, illegal logging regulations, sustainability criteria for biofuels, corporate reporting on supply chain issues, and corporate transparency on payments made to governments by extractive and logging industries, as underlined in the Trade for All communication;

P.  whereas the Trade for All communication states that the Commission will promote ambitious trade and sustainable development (TSD) chapters in all trade and investment agreements; whereas recently concluded EU trade and investment agreements contain TSD chapters calling on the parties to the agreement to make commitments on the protection of human rights, social and environmental standards and corporate social responsibility; whereas such chapters have displayed differences in their level of ambition in successive EU trade agreements; whereas labour and environmental standards are not limited to TSD chapters but must be effective throughout all areas of trade agreements; whereas a dialogue-centred approach has not prevented severe violations of the freedom of association in some FTAs;

Q.  whereas the particular situation of Export Processing Zones (EPZs) is such that in some countries they are exempt from local labour laws and forbid or limit union activity, and that workers have no recourse to legal redress there, which constitutes a clear violation of ILO standards;

R.  whereas the lack of ethical behaviour in business is also a consequence of a lack of good governance, the powerlessness or non-existence of impartial public authorities acting in the general interest of citizens; whereas corruption, the lack of transparency of GVCs and exemptions from labour laws and taxation in EPZs could have a negative impact on human rights, in particular by undermining decent work and trade unions;

S.  whereas according to the ILO, 21 million people are victims of forced labour worldwide, and many of them are exploited in GVCs; whereas forced labour in the private economy generates USD 150 billion in illegal profits every year;

T.  whereas thanks to its global mandate, expertise and experience, the ILO, in collaboration with its Members, is well placed to lead global action for decent work in global supply chains; whereas the ILO Committee on Decent Work in Global Supply Chains has called for an assessment into the failures which lead to decent work deficits in global supply chains and for a reflection on the initiatives and standards needed to promote decent work and facilitate the reduction of decent work deficits in global supply chains;

U.  whereas a multilateral, global and holistic approach to corporate liability for human rights abuses and environmental sustainability is needed in the context of global trade and particularly in GVCs; whereas it is important, therefore, that the EU continues to lead these debates worldwide; whereas the EU has positioned itself as a front-runner in reforming the investor-state dispute settlement mechanism, notably through the development of a multilateral court system; whereas equal progress is expected in other critical areas of concern such as the enforcement of investors’ obligations in relation to human rights;

V.  whereas production in GVCs takes place in various jurisdictions with varying degrees of human rights protection and social, labour and environmental law enforcement; whereas victims of human rights abuses involving transnational companies may face multiple obstacles to accessing judicial remedies;

W.  whereas gender equality in all EU policies is firmly established in Article 8 of the TFEU; whereas trade and investment agreements tend to affect women and men differently on account of structural gender inequalities; whereas the gender equality perspective is often overlooked in the analysis of GVCs; whereas according to the ILO, in 2012 21 million people worldwide, of whom 55 % were women and girls, were the victims of forced labour, with 90 % of these were exploited in the private economy by individuals or enterprises;

X.  whereas women comprise the majority of workers in certain segments of the garment, horticulture, mobile phone and tourism global supply chains but tend to be more concentrated in low-wage or low-status forms of employment than men, leading to gender segregation in types of occupations and activities, gender gaps in wages and working conditions, and gender-specific constraints in access to productive resources, infrastructure and services;

Y.  whereas according to Article 3(3) of the TEU, the Union shall protect the rights of the child; whereas all the Member States ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child;

Z.  whereas services are playing a greater role in GVCs, in particular for manufacturing production; whereas the increased integration of services into GVCs will require agreements supporting the digital economy, including the free flow of data;

AA.  whereas the development of global value chains further contributes to the integration of services into the production of goods; whereas a significant amount of the value of imported goods has been added through services from importing countries;

AB.  whereas EU Member States are the world’s largest exporters of financial services, and the sector is of strategic importance in the EU’s trade policy; whereas the inclusion of provisions relating to financial services in EU External Agreements, including FTAs, has raised some legitimate concerns regarding their potential negative effects in terms of money laundering and tax evasion and avoidance and further highlights the importance of considering the use of tools to address them; whereas trade and investment agreements offer a good opportunity to increase cooperation in the fight against corruption, money laundering, and tax fraud, evasion and avoidance;

AC.  whereas transparent and informative labelling can be a useful tool that allows EU consumers to make more informed and adequate choices; whereas, beyond the price and origin of a product, social and environmental criteria should also be made available to EU consumers; whereas such criteria can technically be developed in line with the WTO Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT), which lays down conditions for the production process to enable the sale of a product;

AD.  whereas the full observance of human rights in the production chain and full compliance with the food safety standards of goods released for free circulation on the European market should be respected by both states and enterprises; whereas the burden of responsibility should not be borne solely by consumers, whose choice is constrained by both individual resources (economy, time, knowledge) and external elements (information, offers);

AE.  whereas Rules of Origin (RoO) have become increasingly important in the context of GVCs, for which production tends to span several countries; whereas lax rules of origin can create additional hurdles to establishing full transparency and accountability throughout supply chains;

AF.  whereas better, harmonised and more efficient customs procedures in Europe and abroad help facilitate trade and meet respective trade facilitation requirements, as well as help to prevent forgeries and illegal, dumped and counterfeit goods from entering the single market, which undermines EU economic growth and seriously exposes EU consumers; whereas greater access to customs data on imports entering the EU would increase GVC transparency and accountability;

AG.  whereas in a world of fragmented production networks, the distinction between imports and exports is blurred, as imported inputs account for a significant proportion of exports, and tariffs are accumulated each time intermediate inputs are traded across borders; whereas efficient customs and border procedures are especially important in this context;

AH.  whereas GSP and GSP+ trade incentives provide better market access to developing countries in exchange for respect for labour, environmental and social standards;

AI.  whereas the GSP+ is a key EU trade policy instrument which provides better market access and is accompanied by a stringent monitoring mechanism to promote human and labour rights, environmental protection and good governance in vulnerable developing countries;

AJ.  whereas the protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights (IPRs) could provide for effective further integration into GVCs;

EU position within GVCs

1.  Emphasises that trade and investment policy should aim to provide leverage, to create a level playing field for European businesses, promote European competitiveness and facilitate upward convergence on standards; calls on the Commission to ensure coherence between the EU’s environmental, public health, trade, investment and industrial policies, and to promote the European reindustrialisation strategy and the transition towards a low-carbon economy;

2.  Believes that further integration of the EU into global value chains must not be to the detriment of the European social and regulatory model and the promotion of sustainable growth;

3.  Calls on the Commission to support the awareness and uptake of existing fair trade schemes, as mentioned in the Trade for All strategy, both within the framework of the EU’s plan for sustainability and the European Consensus for Development;

4.  Reiterates its call for the Commission and the Member States to adopt reinforced trade defence instruments to combat unfair commercial practices, taking into account social and environmental dumping;

5.  Asks the Commission to evaluate the impact of the use of trade defence instruments, by the EU and by third countries, on the effective integration of EU businesses into GVCs;

6.  Stresses the need for harmonised rules and reinforced EU coordination and supervision of the application of import duties by the Member States (including conventional, anti-dumping and countervailing duties) on all types of commodities and goods, especially involving false declarations of origin (in both preferential and non-preferential regimes) and the undervaluation and incorrect description of goods;

GVCs and multilateralism

7.  Calls on the Commission to actively work within the WTO in order to increase transparency, and to define and promote multilateral rules for trade, including the sustainable management of GVCs, which should, in particular, include the following:

   mandatory supply chain due diligence and transparency requirements, building on the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights;
   minimum health and safety standards, recognising in particular workers’ right to establish safety committees;
   a social protection floor and respect for ILO labour standards;
   the right to collective bargaining;

8.  Asks the Commission and the Member States to continue to engage actively in all multilateral forums about business, GVCs, human and labour rights, economic growth and sustainable development, while promoting the European values enshrined in the Treaties and bearing in mind the fundamental need for the specific characteristics of SMEs to be protected;

9.  Welcomes the ongoing negotiations on a binding UN Treaty for Transnational Corporations and Human Rights; calls on the Commission and the Member States to engage constructively in these negotiations and to play an active role and contribute to the development of concrete proposals, including access to remedies, investing all their efforts in achieving a positive outcome and encouraging trade partners to equally engage; asks the Commission, in this context, to consider the possibility of extensive mandatory due diligence, including at global level;

10.  Calls on the Member States to expedite the application and increase the effectiveness of the National Action Plans (NAPs) implementing the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights; underlines that eight out of the 13 NAPs that have already been approved are from EU Member States and welcomes the fact that a further 11 EU NAPs are being drafted; asks the Commission to assist and promote the implementation of these UN Guiding Principles;

11.  Welcomes the convergence of the international standards on business and human rights, particularly between the UN Guiding Principles and the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises;

12.  Welcomes the integral inclusion of Decent Work and the four pillars of the ILO Decent Work Agenda into the UN SDGs; calls on the Commission and the Member States to effectively apply these standards and to work within the ILO towards the adoption of a new international labour standard for decent work on GVCs, which will require, in particular, all companies to undertake ongoing risk management of the impact of their activities on the human rights of workers and communities and to take appropriate measures to prevent and mitigate these activities and provide remedy to those affected;

13.  Supports all global anti-corruption initiatives, including the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), the Kimberley Process, the International Conference on the Great Lakes Regions (ICGLR), the principles set out in the United Nations Global Compact for businesses, the OECD guidelines for multinational enterprises and the OECD due diligence guidance for responsible supply chains of minerals from conflict-affected and high-risk areas; recalls the obligation for producer countries in particular to implement and enforce appropriate legislation, also in the area of establishing the rule of law and combating corruption;

14.  Points out that in this area, in addition to the import and export of minerals and metals, transparent arrangements governing operating rights and customs duties are vital to the development of conflict or high-risk zones; stresses, therefore, the need to draw up an overview of existing corporate social responsibility measures being implemented by European businesses, and to enhance the coordination and exchange of information and best practices, in order to be able to identify good practices more effectively and contribute to the creation of a common action framework at European level; calls on the Commission to step up initiatives relating to corporate social responsibility and due diligence across the whole supply chain;

15.  Points out that reliable access to raw materials is important for global competitiveness;

16.  Stresses the importance of implementing, enforcing and transposing existing laws on GVCs at regional, national and international levels;

Corporate responsibility

17.  Highlights that trade and human rights reinforce each other, and that the business community has an important role to play in offering positive incentives in terms of promoting human rights, democracy and corporate responsibility;

18.  Welcomes the many promising initiatives taken by the private sector, such as codes of conduct, labelling, self-assessment and social audits, which have significantly contributed to recent improvements in human rights and workers’ rights standards in global supply chains;

19.  Is deeply concerned by cases of human rights violations and threats to environmental sustainability, committed as a result of some corporations’ management decisions;

20.  Acknowledges the importance of the existence of clear international rules on corporate social responsibility (CSR), GVC and due diligence; welcomes the smart mix of regulatory and voluntary action, which has led to some positive results in the last few years and has enabled businesses to find their own dynamic and innovative measures; stresses that coordination, information sharing and the exchange of best practices may contribute to increasing the efficiency of private and public value chain initiatives and achieve positive results; recalls, however, that voluntary CSR may also lead to unfair competition for suppliers that have chosen to comply with international labour and environmental standards and is not sufficient per se to ensure that companies fully comply with international standards and obligations by implementing due diligence policy; stresses, therefore, the need to draw up an overview of existing CSR measures being implemented by European businesses, in order to be able to identify good practices more effectively and contribute to the creation of a common action framework at European level; strongly believes that the EU should swiftly seek ways to develop GVC transparency strategies and rules, including the possible consideration of immediate action towards developing binding and enforceable rules, associated remedies and independent monitoring mechanisms involving the EU Institutions, the Member States and civil society; stresses that such obligations should follow the required steps outlined in the UN Guiding Principles and the OECD Guidelines relating to the proactive identification of risks to human rights, the drawing up of rigorous and demonstrable action plans to prevent or mitigate these risks, adequate response to known abuses, and transparency;

21.  Calls on the Commission to give greater prominence to such provisions and to promote the uptake of sectoral OECD guidelines and the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights; emphasises the need to engage civil society in a formal way in the implementation process through structures set up under TSD chapters; calls on the Commission to support the work of international standardisation bodies such as the International Standardisation Organisation (including ISO 26000) and the Global Reporting Initiative, in order to encourage businesses to report on sustainability and value-creation throughout the supply chain;

22.  Invites the Commission to ensure compliance by European and international companies with the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises and the sector-specific OECD guidelines, such as the due diligence guidance for responsible supply chains of minerals from conflict-affected areas; recommends strengthening the role of OECD National Contact Points and their cooperation with independent national and regional human rights institutions with a view to improving the governance of GVCs;

23.  Calls on the Commission to update its approach to CSR with a view to strengthening labour and environmental standards and, in particular, insisting on the inclusion of CSR provisions in the trade and investment agreements negotiated by the EU;

24.  Stresses that the coordination and exchange of information and best practices can help to make private and public value chain initiatives more effective;

25.  Recalls that Parliament requested in 2010 that companies should publish their CSR balance sheets, the introduction of due diligence requirements for all undertakings, and the consolidation of the CSR concept on the basis of a harmonised definition of the relations between parent companies in order to establish the legal liability of each them; therefore notes with satisfaction that the disclosure of non-financial and diversity information will be required from large companies as from 2017, in accordance with the Non-Financial Reporting Directive; notes, however, that the disclosure of non-financial information by large companies has not yet been extended to cover all actors operating in GVCs;

26.  Notes the ‘green card’ initiative launched by some national parliaments following the adoption of the French law on MNCs’ duty of care; calls on the Commission to consider proposals for corporate due diligence for companies operating both within and outside the EU, taking account of the ruling of the French Constitutional Court on the French law, namely on proportionality of sanctions;

27.  Recalls that CSR policies must take into account the special characteristics of SMEs, and be flexible enough to ensure that they are not subjected to disproportionate burdens; invites the Commission, therefore, to establish a specific helpdesk for SMEs, paying special attention to small and micro enterprises, and to support them with tailored capacity-building programmes;

28.  Underlines that GVCs do not end when the product reaches the consumer, but include waste and how it is treated; urges taking into account the full lifecycle of products and enlarging the perspective on GVCs to include provisions on waste disposal without harming persons or the environment; calls on the EU to encourage international cooperation and legislative coherence regarding end-of-life products and materials and help partner countries develop stronger national regulations and enforcement capacities; calls on the EU to ensure that traceability applies to this spectrum of product life;

29.  Urges the Commission to act swiftly, following the detailed proposals contained in Parliament’s resolution of 25 October 2016 on corporate liability for serious human rights abuses in third countries;

Creating a more prominent role for private-sector initiatives

30.  Emphasises the achievements of private-sector engagement; stresses that private-sector companies need to pursue sustainability strategies, not only so as to prevent damage to their reputation, but also because this offers them new opportunities and reduces their dependence on scarce resources;

31.  Stresses the crucial role of consumers (and the effects of bad publicity); recalls that no consumer wants to continue buying products made by children or exploited men and women, or products that have caused major environmental damage;

32.  Calls on the Commission to find new ways to support private-sector efforts to make global value chains more sustainable and to develop inclusive business models and related private-sector multi-stakeholder partnerships;

33.  Emphasises that a smart mix between private and public funding is needed to promote sustainable global value chains; believes this should build on existing structures and programmes that have proven successful in promoting responsible business conduct;

34.  Welcomes the many promising initiatives taken by the private sector, such as codes of conduct, labelling, self-assessment and social audits, and acknowledges the UN Global Compact, the ISO 26000 standard on social responsibility, the ILO Tripartite Declaration of Principles concerning Multinational Enterprises and Social Policy, and the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises as tools which can mobilise responsibility in the business activities of enterprises; calls on companies, whether European or not, to apply human rights due diligence and to integrate their findings into internal policies and procedures, with resources and authority assigned accordingly and duly implemented; stresses that this requires that sufficient resources be allocated; stresses that transparency and communication regarding the measures taken to avoid human rights abuses in third countries are crucial to enable proper democratic oversight and to allow consumers to make fact-based choices;

EU free trade agreements (FTAs) and GVCs

35.  Welcomes the new trade and investment strategy for the European Union, Trade for All; asks the Commission to address, in its trade and investment policy and FTAs, the challenges associated with the rise of GVCs by taking into consideration the following measures:

   (a) strengthening ex ante Trade Sustainability Impact Assessments (TSIAs), adding assessment requirements on human rights and on gender, and making ex post TSIAs, with civil society input, mandatory and publicly available;
   (b) implementing fully Parliament’s recommendations of 2010 and 2016 with respect to TSD chapters in FTAs, which should include comprehensive, enforceable and ambitious TSD chapters and consideration of the following aspects:
   (i) a commitment by each of the parties to ratify and implement the eight core and four priority ILO Conventions, as well as the international multilateral environmental agreements;
   (ii) coverage of human rights clauses and TSD chapters by the general dispute settlement mechanisms, on an equal footing with the other parts of the agreement;
   (iii) the possibility to appeal and seek redress through a complaints procedure for social partners and civil society;
   (iv) effective deterrent measures: including in the form of monetary remedies, in the event of serious, proven breaches of the TSD provisions;
   (c) including enforceable anti-corruption and whistleblower protection provisions, within the competence of the EU, in all future FTAs and investment agreements; in this regard, stresses that the signatory parties to trade and investment agreements should take measures to promote active participation of the private sector, civil society organisations and domestic advisory groups in the implementation of the anti-corruption programmes and clauses in international trade and investment deals;
   (d) including standstill clauses setting a minimum level for social, environmental and safety standards, including animal health and welfare, in all EU FTAs, thus preventing the parties from lowering their social, environmental and safety norms in order to promote exports and attract investments;
   (e) including provisions on tax transparency (including OECD key transparency standards) and enhancing cooperation in the fight against money laundering, tax fraud and evasion and tax avoidance in FTAs, to be duly reflected in market opening requirements for financial services;
   (f) supplementing all the above provisions with supporting measures for developing countries and rigorously monitoring their implementation, including through inputs from national parliaments and stakeholders including civil society;
   (g) increasing linkage of priorities agreed bilaterally for the implementation of TSD chapters of FTAs and funding support from the EU development cooperation programmes;

36.  Recalls the key role SMEs can play in GVCs on the one hand, and the benefits of increased integration of SMEs into GVCs on the other; calls on the Commission to include SME chapters in all future trade agreements; further calls on the Commission, in this context, to evaluate existing support structures available to SMEs wanting to access GVCs, and to review and, if necessary, update the strategy ‘Small Business, Big World’ from 2011 in order to further facilitate SMEs’ engagement in GVCs;

37.  Underlines that GVCs often include production and services in Export Processing Zones (EPZs), where labour and environmental standards are different from the rest of the country concerned and are often restricted; calls on the Commission to ensure that social and environmental standards subscribed to in FTAs apply throughout the territory of trade partners, including in EPZs;

Labelling, traceability and customs data

38.  Calls on the EU to work towards adequate and efficient solutions for the introduction of a transparent and functioning mandatory ‘social and environmental traceability’ labelling system along the entire production chain, in compliance with the WTO TBT Agreement, while in parallel promoting similar action at international level;

39.  Calls on the Commission to consider introducing legislation for labelling rules regarding the origin of products entering the EU market, or to propose rules that guarantee effective traceability;

40.  Calls on the Commission and encourages Member States to seek ways to enable parties having a public interest stake to access, subject to appropriate justification and upon a request made on the grounds of public interest, the customs data collected from parties trading in products or goods imported into the EU;

Jurisdiction and access to remedies

41.  Reaffirms the urgent need to effectively address human rights abuses by transnational corporations when they appear, and to address the legal problems resulting from the extra-territorial dimension of companies in particular through the establishment of joint legal liabilities throughout supply chains; calls on Member States to take appropriate steps to tackle the financial and procedural hurdles faced in civil litigation by victims;

42.  Reiterates its call on the Commission to reflect on the extension of jurisdictional rules under the Brussels I Regulation to third-country defendants in cases brought against companies with a clear link with one Member State or companies for which the EU is an essential outlet and asks the Commission to swiftly present, if appropriate, a proposal to the Parliament and the Council;

43.  Recalls that business enterprises should establish operational-level grievance mechanisms for workers affected by their operations, including in EPZs; reiterates its call for the EU and Member States to take the appropriate steps to tackle the legal, procedural and institutional obstacles to accessing effective remedies;

Gender equality and children’s rights

44.  Recalls that gender equality is firmly established in all EU policies as stated in Article 8 of the TFEU; deplores the fact that gender is not mentioned in the Trade for All strategy, and calls on the Commission to take gender and women’s empowerment into account in its mid-term review of the strategy; calls on the Commission to ensure that the gender perspective is included and mainstreamed in trade and investment policy, the Aid for Trade strategy, and all future FTAs and impact assessments; calls on the Commission to continue to discuss and negotiate within the WTO in order to take gender into account in WTO trade and investment policy; calls on the Commission to collect gender-disaggregated data for GVCs, especially in the agricultural sector, taking into account women’s empowerment going beyond pay issues, factors leading to violence against women, and social factors such as parental leave and health, with a view to devising legal forms for overcoming the negative side-effects of GVCs; welcomes the fact that the issue of gender equality is being addressed in the negotiations on updating the EU-Chile agreement and will be dealt with in the future updated agreement;

45.  Calls for a comprehensive analysis of differences and inequalities in the framework of GVCs, with regard to: (i) gender differences in time use, mainly resulting from women’s primary responsibility for reproductive work; (ii) gender differences in access to productive inputs and resources, particularly land, credit, training, and networks; and (iii) gender differences stemming from failures and discrimination at the level of markets and institutions;

46.  Stresses that women tend to be the ones who suffer most, and that very often in the case of women, labour trafficking of persons runs in parallel with sexual trafficking and femicide;

47.  Proposes that at the level of international trade and EU trade policies on GVCs, a specific strategy should be developed to formally protect individuals who denounce practices such as femicide, labour trafficking of persons and sexual trafficking, and to defend the victims; stresses that these denouncers should be given similar recognition and protection as that requested in the case of whistleblowers in the field of international and EU trade;

48.  Recalls that women are increasingly present in employment but are still overrepresented in low-skilled jobs with low wages, lacking access to social protection measures, including maternity protection, and being far too often subject to discrimination and sexual harassment;

49.  Calls on the Commission, the Member States and regional and local authorities to promote sustainable public procurement by applying specific requirements on human rights and compliance with international law, particularly in relation to the promotion of gender equality and European competition rules, as well as transparency for suppliers and their international supply chains;

50.  Underlines the importance of the ratification of ILO Conventions No 182 on the worst forms of child labour and No 138 on the minimum age for admission to employment and work by those countries which have not done so; recalls that the EU is committed to eradicating the worst forms of child labour at a global level, in line with its values, which include the prohibition of child labour in EU external action as enshrined in Article 21 of the TEU; reiterates its call for the harmonisation and strengthening of import and supply chain controls so as to ensure that only forced labour-free, child labour-free and modern slavery-free products enter the EU market; stresses its support for existing initiatives supporting SMEs and small farmers’ organisations with a view to them gaining a larger share of value in GVCs, such as in the case of fair trade; underlines the importance of including the fight against forced labour and child labour in all EU FTAs, through sustainable development chapters, so as to ensure that this objective is shared by trade partners; calls on the Commission and the Member States to vigorously defend this proposal in all international forums including the ILO, the OECD, the UN and the WTO, in order to make progress in the fight against forced labour and child labour; emphasises against this background that the goal of child labour-free products can only be achieved if it goes hand in hand with minimum living wages for the child’s family members;

Developing countries

51.  Underlines that GVCs constitute an important opportunity for firms in developing countries, particularly SMEs, to develop a link with the global economy; stresses that specific policies and accompanying measures are key to achieving this and to extending the potential advantages to all workers in our trading partner countries, particularly policies aimed at making administrative procedures more efficient, or helping the companies concerned to increase added value and expand their participation in GVCs while also improving their social and environmental standards; points out that the review of GSP and GSP+ should include binding rules on human and labour rights and environmental protection; notes that many developing countries are limited in their capacity and resources to effectively enforce compliance with social and environmental standards and regulations; calls on the EU to strengthen capacity-building and to provide the governments of partner developing countries with technical assistance wherever possible and needed;

52.  Recalls the 2030 SDG agenda and its sustainable production, sustainable consumption and decent work approaches, and calls on the Commission to communicate in a transparent manner the reference to each SDG concerned in its reporting; reiterates its call on the Commission and the Member States to use trade to promote sustainable development and good governance according to the principles of policy coherence for development; stresses that EU trade and investment agreements concluded with developing countries should be consistent with the SDGs; reiterates the right of developing countries to regulate investment so as to ensure obligations and duties for all investors, including foreign ones, with the aim of protecting human rights, labour and environmental standards;

53.  Welcomes the entry into force of the Trade Facilitation Agreement, which if properly implemented will simplify and modernise customs procedures, making it easier for developing countries, which generally have greater border barriers, to integrate into the global trading system;

54.  Calls on the Commission to support the effective participation of SMEs in GVCs, by supporting match-making and partnerships between SMEs and small farmer groups in developing countries that aim to secure a larger share of value for producers while ensuring a high level of social, environmental and human rights protection, as in the case of fair trade;

55.  Calls on the Commission to ensure that human rights conditions linked to unilateral trade preferences granted under the GSP are effectively enforced and monitored, and that procedures foreseen for cases of possible non-compliance with those conditions are implemented, in full compliance with the GSP Regulation;

56.  Expects the GSP mid-term review to clarify definitions and provide an in-depth assessment of the current scheme; takes the view that trade policy must be a way to encourage the EU’s trade partners to adopt higher social, labour and environmental standards, which could be achieved through incentives such as additional tariff preferences for sustainably produced products; believes that this objective requires a revision of the GSP Regulation, and suggests in this regard including CSR conditions within its scope, in order to ensure compliance by transnational corporations with national and international legal obligations in the areas of human rights and labour and environmental standards; calls for special attention to be paid to the situation of labour rights and trade union rights in EPZs, and urges the Commission to address this issue, in close cooperation with the ILO, in the review of the GSP;

57.  Calls on the Commission to ensure that all EU‑funded development projects, including blending projects, are not only fully aligned with the internationally agreed development effectiveness principles, but also fully respect the principle of free, prior and informed consent as established in ILO Convention No 169;

Rules of Origin (RoOs)

58.  Notes that simplified, effective and preferential RoOs are key in the context of GVCs; recognises that inflexibility and complexity of RoOs can hamper the efficiency of trade patterns;

59.  Calls on the Commission, to the extent possible, to use multilateral RoOs as preferential RoOs in FTAs; calls on the Commission, when designing specific preferential RoOs in FTAs, to lower the requirements of value added and to allow change of tariff subheading and ‘single transformation’ as a RoO;

60.  Asks the Commission, specifically in the case of negotiations on FTAs with countries currently benefiting from GSP and EBA preferences, to ensure that the design of RoOs does not divert economic processes;

61.  Considers that increased cumulation in FTAs should not be seen as a tool for back-door liberalisation, but, rather, as a tool to enable countries to specialise in economic activities according to the logic of comparative advantage;

Intellectual property rights and data flows

62.  Welcomes the Commission’s commitment to protect the entire spectrum of IPRs including patents, trademarks, copyright, designs, geographical indications (GIs), marking of origin and pharmaceuticals, while ensuring access to affordable medicines, both at WTO level and through FTAs; calls on the Commission to take further action on the possible extension of geographical indication protection to non-agricultural products, as it happens already in several third countries via different legal systems; calls for an open and inclusive process for improved cooperation with third partners to combat fraud and counterfeit goods that take advantage of trust in trademarks and brand names;

63.  Recognises that digital innovation and data flows are crucial drivers of the services economy and are an essential element of the GVC of traditional manufacturing companies, and that, therefore, forced localisation requirements should be curbed to the extent possible both within and outside Europe, allowing for the accommodation of necessary exemptions based on legitimate public purposes such as consumer protection and the protection of fundamental rights; recalls that data flow protection and the right to privacy are not trade barriers but fundamental rights, as enshrined in Article 39 of the TEU, Articles 7 and 8 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, and Article 12 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights;

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64.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the European External Action Service, the World Trade Organisation and UNCTAD.

(1) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0299.
(2) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0298.
(3) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0208.
(4) OJ C 99 E, 3.4.2012, p. 101.
(5) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0405.
(6) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0196.
(7) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0098.
(8) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0041.
(9) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0252.
(10) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0265.
(11) OJ L 130, 19.5.2017, p. 1.
(12) OJ L 295, 12.11.2010, p. 23.
(13) OJ L 303, 31.10.2012, p. 1.
(14) OJ L 351, 20.12.2012, p. 1.
(15) OJ L 330, 15.11.2014, p. 1.
(16) http://childrenandbusiness.org
(17) See definition of SME: http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/HTML/?uri=CELEX:32003H0361&from=EN.

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