Index 
Texts adopted
Tuesday, 3 October 2017 - StrasbourgFinal edition
State of play of negotiations with the United Kingdom
 Restriction of the use of certain hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment ***I
 Management, conservation and control measures applicable in the ICCAT Convention area ***I
 Women’s economic empowerment in the private and public sectors in the EU
 Addressing shrinking civil society space in developing countries
 The fight against cybercrime
 EU political relations with ASEAN

State of play of negotiations with the United Kingdom
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European Parliament resolution of 3 October 2017 on the state of play of negotiations with the United Kingdom (2017/2847(RSP))
P8_TA(2017)0361B8-0538/2017

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its resolution of 5 April 2017 on negotiations with the United Kingdom following its notification that it intends to withdraw from the European Union(1),

–  having regard to the European Council (Art. 50) Guidelines of 29 April 2017 following the United Kingdom’s notification under Article 50 TEU and to the Annex to the Council Decision of 22 May 2017, which lays down directives for the negotiation of an agreement with the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland setting out the arrangements for its withdrawal from the European Union,

–  having regard to the Commission position papers of 12 June 2017 on ‘Essential Principles on Citizens’ Rights’ and ‘Essential Principles on Financial Settlement’ and of 20 September 2017 on ‘Guiding principles for the Dialogue on Ireland/Northern Ireland’,

–  having regard to the position papers of the United Kingdom Government on the issues pertaining to the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union, and in particular that of 26 June 2017 on ‘Safeguarding the position of EU citizens living in the UK and UK nationals living in the EU’ and that of 16 August 2017 on ‘Northern Ireland and Ireland’,

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

A.  whereas there are currently around 3,2 million citizens of the remaining 27 Member States (EU-27) resident in the United Kingdom and 1,2 million citizens of the United Kingdom (‘UK citizens’) resident in the EU-27;

B.  whereas EU citizens who took up residence in another Member State did so on the basis of rights they enjoy under European Union law and on the understanding that they would continue to enjoy those rights throughout their lives;

C.  whereas the European Parliament represents all EU citizens, including UK citizens, and will act to protect their interests throughout the whole process leading to the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union;

D.  whereas, in the United Kingdom and also in some other Member States, recent administrative incidents have demonstrated that discrimination against citizens of the EU-27 in the United Kingdom and UK citizens in the EU-27 is already taking place and is having an impact on the daily lives of the citizens concerned, limiting the effective exercise of their rights;

E.  whereas an orderly withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union requires that the unique position and the special circumstances confronting the island of Ireland be addressed, that the Good Friday Agreement of 10 April 1998 be preserved in all its parts and that a ‘hardening’ of the border be avoided;

F.  whereas the people of Northern Ireland who have exercised, or may exercise, their entitlement to Irish citizenship will enjoy EU citizenship and no obstacles or impediments should be put in place that would prevent them from fully exercising their rights in accordance with the Treaties;

G.  whereas the European Union and the United Kingdom should both respect in full the financial obligations resulting from the whole period of the United Kingdom’s membership of the European Union;

H.  whereas, in her speech in Florence on 22 September 2017, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom offered some clarifications concerning citizens’ rights, the Ireland and Northern Ireland issue, the financial settlement, the need for a transitional period and prospects for future relations between the European Union and the United Kingdom;

1.  Reiterates all the elements set out in its resolution of 5 April 2017 on negotiations with the United Kingdom following its notification that it intends to withdraw from the European Union;

2.  Stresses that the Guidelines approved by the European Council on 29 April 2017 and the subsequent negotiating directives adopted by the Council on 22 May 2017 are in line with the European Parliament’s resolution of 5 April 2017; welcomes the fact that the European Union’s negotiator is working in full compliance with that mandate;

3.  Notes, in line with its resolution of 5 April 2017, that the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom proposed in her speech of 22 September 2017 a time-limited transitional period; points out that such a transition can only happen on the basis of the existing European Union regulatory, budgetary, supervisory, judiciary and enforcement instruments and structures; underlines that such a transitional period, when the United Kingdom is no longer a Member State, can only be the continuation of the whole of the acquis communautaire which entails the full application of the four freedoms (free movement of citizens, capital, services and goods), and that this must take place without any limitation on the free movement of persons through the imposition of any new conditions; stresses that such a transitional period can only be envisaged under the full jurisdiction of the Court of Justice of the European Union (‘CJEU’); insists that such a transition period can only be agreed provided that a fully-fledged withdrawal agreement covering all the issues pertaining to the United Kingdom’s withdrawal is concluded;

Citizens’ rights

4.  Emphasises that the withdrawal agreement must incorporate the full set of rights citizens currently enjoy, such that there is no material change in their position, and that it must ensure reciprocity, equity, symmetry and non-discrimination for EU citizens in the United Kingdom and UK citizens in the European Union; underlines in particular that eligible EU national residents and children born after the United Kingdom’s withdrawal should fall within the scope of the withdrawal agreement as family members and not as independent right holders, that future family members should continue to benefit from right of residence under the same provisions as current family members, that documents should be declaratory in line with EU law, that any burdensome administrative procedure should be avoided and that all benefits defined in EU legislation should be exportable;

5.  Stresses in that regard that the withdrawal agreement should maintain the whole set of European Union rules on citizens’ rights as defined in relevant European Union legislation, but is of the opinion that the United Kingdom’s proposals set out in its position paper of 26 June 2017 fall short in that respect, not least as regards the proposal to create a new category of ‘settled status’ under United Kingdom immigration law; expresses its concern that these proposals, the slow process of the negotiations and the disclosed policy options on the future status of EU citizens are causing unnecessary hardship and anxiety for the citizens of the EU-27 living in the United Kingdom;

6.  Expresses concern about regrettable administrative practices against EU citizens living in the United Kingdom; reminds the United Kingdom, moreover, that while it remains a Member State of the European Union, it must abide by, and enforce, European Union law and refrain from any administrative or other practices which result in obstacles and discrimination for citizens of the EU-27 resident in the United Kingdom, including in their workplace; expects that all other Member States, from their side, should ensure that UK citizens residing in the European Union are treated in full conformity with European Union law given that they remain EU citizens until the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union;

7.  Notes that the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom’s speech of 22 September 2017 gave a commitment to ensuring that the rights of citizens of the EU-27 residing in the United Kingdom are given direct effect by means of the incorporation of the withdrawal agreement into United Kingdom law; underlines that this should be done in a manner that prevents it from being changed unilaterally, allows EU citizens to invoke the withdrawal agreement rights directly before United Kingdom courts and public administration, and gives it primacy over United Kingdom law; underlines that in order to guarantee the coherence and integrity of the EU legal order, the CJEU must remain the sole and competent authority for interpreting and enforcing European Union law and the withdrawal agreement; awaits concrete proposals from the United Kingdom in that regard;

Ireland and Northern Ireland

8.  Stresses that the unique position and special circumstances confronting the island of Ireland must be addressed in the withdrawal agreement and this in a manner fully consistent with the Good Friday Agreement in all its parts, the agreed areas of cooperation, and with European Union law in order to ensure the continuity and stability of the Northern Ireland peace process;

9.  Strongly believes that it is the responsibility of the UK Government to provide a unique, effective and workable solution that prevents a ‘hardening’ of the border, ensures full compliance with the Good Friday Agreement in all its parts, is in line with European Union law and fully ensures the integrity of the internal market and customs union; believes also that the United Kingdom must continue to contribute its fair share to the financial assistance supporting Northern Ireland/Ireland; regrets that the United Kingdom’s proposals, set out in its position paper on ‘Northern Ireland and Ireland’, fall short in that regard; notes on the other hand that in her speech of 22 September 2017 the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom excluded any physical infrastructure at the border, which presumes that the United Kingdom stays in the internal market and customs union or that Northern Ireland stays in some form in the internal market and customs union;

10.  Reiterates that any solution found for the island of Ireland cannot serve to predetermine solutions in the context of the discussions relating to the future relationship between the European Union and the United Kingdom;

Financial settlement

11.  Takes note of the declaration by the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, in her speech of 22 September 2017, on the financial settlement, but awaits concrete proposals from the UK Government in that regard; underlines that, so far, the absence of any clear proposals has seriously impeded the negotiations and that substantial progress in that area is required before entering into discussions on other issues, including the framework for the future relationship between the European Union and the United Kingdom;

12.  Reaffirms, in accordance with the Commission’s position paper of 12 June 2017 on ‘Essential Principles on Financial Settlement’, that the United Kingdom must respect in full its financial obligations made as a Member State of the European Union and insists that this issue must be fully settled in the withdrawal agreement; points in particular to financial obligations resulting from the multiannual financial framework and the Own Resources Decision of 2014(2), which include, independently from any transitional period, the European Union’s outstanding commitments, as well as its share of liabilities, including contingent liabilities, and the costs of withdrawal from the European Union, since it is out of the question that commitments taken by 28 Member States be honoured only by the remaining 27;

Progress of the negotiations

13.  Recalls that, in line with the phased approach to negotiations that is crucial for an orderly withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union, substantial progress on citizens’ rights, Ireland and Northern Ireland and the settlement of the United Kingdom’s financial obligations is necessary to start the negotiations on the framework for the future relationship between the European Union and the United Kingdom, and on the transitional phase;

14.  Underlines that it is vital that the commitments undertaken by the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom in her speech of 22 September 2017 translate into tangible changes to the United Kingdom’s position and into concrete proposals accordingly, so as to speed up work during the first phase of the negotiations and to make it possible that, in a second phase on a basis of mutual trust and sincere cooperation, talks can start on a new and close partnership in the framework of an association of the United Kingdom with the European Union;

15.  Is of the opinion that in the fourth round of negotiations sufficient progress has not yet been made on citizens’ rights, Ireland and Northern Ireland, and the settlement of the United Kingdom’s financial obligations; calls on the European Council, unless there is a major breakthrough in line with this resolution in all three areas during the fifth negotiation round, to decide at its October 2017 meeting to postpone its assessment on whether sufficient progress has been made;

o
o   o

16.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the European Council, the Council of the European Union, the European Commission, the national parliaments and the Government of the United Kingdom.

(1) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0102.
(2) Council Decision 2014/335/EU, Euratom of 26 May 2014 on the system of own resources of the European Union (OJ L 168, 7.6.2014, p. 105).


Restriction of the use of certain hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment ***I
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Resolution
Text
European Parliament legislative resolution of 3 October 2017 on the proposal for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Directive 2011/65/EU on the restriction of the use of certain hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment (COM(2017)0038 – C8-0021/2017 – 2017/0013(COD))
P8_TA(2017)0362A8-0205/2017

(Ordinary legislative procedure: first reading)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Commission proposal to Parliament and the Council (COM(2017)0038),

–  having regard to Article 294(2) and Article 114 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, pursuant to which the Commission submitted the proposal to Parliament (C8‑0021/2017),

–  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 5 July 2017(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 28 June 2017 to approve Parliament’s position, in accordance with Article 294(4) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (A8-0205/2017),

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 3 October 2017 with a view to the adoption of Directive (EU) 2017/… of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Directive 2011/65/EU on the restriction of the use of certain hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment

(As an agreement was reached between Parliament and Council, Parliament's position corresponds to the final legislative act, Directive (EU) 2017/2102.)

(1) Not yet published in the Official Journal.


Management, conservation and control measures applicable in the ICCAT Convention area ***I
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Resolution
Text
Annex
European Parliament legislative resolution of 3 October 2017 on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council laying down management, conservation and control measures applicable in the Convention Area of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) and amending Council Regulations (EC) No 1936/2001, (EC) No 1984/2003 and (EC) No 520/2007 (COM(2016)0401 – C8-0224/2016 – 2016/0187(COD))
P8_TA(2017)0363A8-0173/2017

(Ordinary legislative procedure: first reading)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Commission proposal to Parliament and the Council (COM(2016)0401),

–  having regard to Article 294(2) and Article 43(2) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, pursuant to which the Commission submitted the proposal to Parliament (C8‑0224/2016),

–  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 19 October 2016(1),

–  having regard to the provisional agreement approved by the committee responsible under Rule 69f(4) of its Rules of Procedure and the undertaking given by the Council representative by letter of 14 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 Fisheries and the opinion of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (A8-0173/2017).

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

2.  Approves its 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 3 October 2017 with a view to the adoption of Regulation (EU) 2017/… of the European Parliament and of the Council laying down management, conservation and control measures applicable in the Convention area of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT), and amending Council Regulations (EC) No 1936/2001, (EC) No 1984/2003 and (EC) No 520/2007

(As an agreement was reached between Parliament and Council, Parliament's position corresponds to the final legislative act, Regulation (EU) 2017/2107.)

ANNEX TO THE LEGISLATIVE RESOLUTION

STATEMENT BY THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT

The European Parliament expresses its deepest concern about the fact that the Commission is proposing to implement, in 2017, ICCAT Recommendations that date back to 2008. This means that for almost 10 years the Union has not been complying with its international obligations.

Apart from the fact that this is challengeable before the Court of Justice and damages the reputation of the Union as a leader in sustainability in international fora, there is an additional issue that leads to legal uncertainty for operators and to legitimate criticism by stakeholders: the fact that the institutions are about to adopt ICCAT Recommendations - and particularly the one on Mediterranean swordfish, an iconic species for which last year ICCAT has adopted a multi-annual recovery plan - that are obsolete and outdated.

This would lead to the paradox that the Union will adopt, by means of this Regulation, measures on swordfish that have in the meantime been replaced by a new recovery plan, which is already applicable to operators from April 2017. This situation is legally and - most importantly - politically unacceptable.

The situation is all the more unacceptable as the Commission, almost six months after the adoption, by ICCAT, of Recommendation 16-05 on Mediterranean swordfish, has not adopted any proposal for transposing that Recommendation, even though it is generally recognised that the state of the stocks is critical and that, in any event, the recovery plan is already applicable to operators. It is to be noted that this transposition exercise is not a complicated one, as the provisions are already adopted and only minor adaptations have to be made to the text.

The European Parliament urges the Commission to send any future proposal for transposition of Recommendations from regional fisheries management organisations within a maximum of six months from the date of their adoption.

On the content of the recovery plan:

The European Parliament welcomes ICCAT Recommendation 16-05 establishing a multi-annual recovery plan for Mediterranean swordfish.

The European Parliament acknowledges the socio-economic dimension of the small-scale Mediterranean fisheries and the need for a gradual approach and flexibility in managing those fisheries.

It highlights that, for the recovery plan to be successful, particular efforts have to be made also by neighbouring third countries to efficiently manage this species.

Finally, it stresses that quotas have to be distributed fairly among operators, taking into account production values and turnover. Quotas illegally fished by driftnets should not count towards the calculation of historic catches and rights.’

(1) OJ C 34, 2.2.2017, p. 142.


Women’s economic empowerment in the private and public sectors in the EU
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European Parliament resolution of 3 October 2017 on women’s economic empowerment in the private and public sectors in the EU (2017/2008(INI))
P8_TA(2017)0364A8-0271/2017

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to Articles 2 and 3(3) of the Treaty on European Union,

–  having regard to Articles 8, 10, 153(1), 153(2) and 157 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

–  having regard to Articles 23 and 33 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union,

–  having regard to Directive 2006/54/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 5 July 2006 on the implementation of the principle of equal opportunities and equal treatment of men and women in matters of employment and occupation(1),

–  having regard to Directive 2010/41/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 7 July 2010 on the application of the principle of equal treatment between men and women engaged in an activity in a self-employed capacity and repealing Council Directive 86/613/EEC(2),

–  having regard to Council Directive 92/85/EEC of 19 October 1992 on the introduction of measures to encourage improvements in the safety and health at work of pregnant workers and workers who have recently given birth or are breastfeeding(3) (Maternity Leave Directive),

–  having regard to the Commission proposal of 2 July 2008 for a Council directive on implementing the principle of equal treatment between persons irrespective of religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation (COM(2008)0426),

–  having regard to its position of 2 April 2009 on the proposal for a Council directive on implementing the principle of equal treatment between persons irrespective of religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation(4),

–  having regard to the Commission proposal of 3 October 2008 for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council amending the Maternity Leave Directive (COM(2008)0637),

–  having regard to its position adopted at first reading on 20 October 2010 with a view to the adoption of a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Council Directive 92/85/EEC on the introduction of measures to encourage improvements in the safety and health at work of pregnant workers and workers who have recently given birth or are breastfeeding and on the introduction of measures to support workers in balancing work and family life(5),

–  having regard to Council Directive 2013/62/EU of 17 December 2013 amending Directive 2010/18/EU implementing the revised Framework Agreement on parental leave concluded by BUSINESSEUROPE, UEAPME, CEEP and ETUC, following the amendment of the status of Mayotte with regard to the European Union(6),

–  having regard to the Commission proposal of 14 November 2012 for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on improving the gender balance among non-executive directors of companies listed on stock exchanges and related measures (Women on boards directive) (COM(2012)0614),

–  having regard to its position adopted at first reading on 20 November 2013 with a view to the adoption of a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on improving the gender balance among non-executive directors of companies listed on stock exchanges and related measures(7),

–  having regard to its resolution of 12 March 2013 on eliminating gender stereotypes in the EU(8),

–  having regard to its resolution of 12 September 2013 on the application of the principle of equal pay for male and female workers for equal work or work of equal value(9),

–  having regard to its resolution of 20 May 2015 on maternity leave(10),

–  having regard to its resolution of 28 April 2016 on women domestic workers and carers in the EU(11),

–  having regard to its resolution of 12 May 2016 on the application of Council Directive 2010/18/EU of 8 March 2010 implementing the revised Framework Agreement on parental leave concluded by BUSINESSEUROPE, UEAPME, CEEP and ETUC and repealing Directive 96/34/EC(12),

–  having regard to its resolution of 26 May 2016 on ‘Poverty: a gender perspective’(13),

–  having regard to its resolution of 13 September 2016 on creating labour market conditions favourable for work-life balance(14),

–  having regard to its resolution of 15 September 2016 on application of Council Directive 2000/78/EC of 27 November 2000 establishing a general framework for equal treatment in employment and occupation (‘Employment Equality Directive’)(15),

–  having regard to its resolution of 8 October 2015 on the application of Directive 2006/54/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 5 July 2006 on the implementation of the principle of equal opportunities and equal treatment of men and women in matters of employment and occupation(16),

–  having regard to its recommendation of 14 February 2017 to the Council on the EU priorities for the 61st session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women(17),

–  having regard to its resolution of 14 March 2017 on equality between women and men in the European Union in 2014-2015(18),

–  having regard to its resolution of 4 April 2017 on women and their roles in rural areas(19),

–  having regard to the Council conclusions of 19 June 2015 on ‘Equal income opportunities for women and men: Closing the gender gap in pensions’,

–  having regard to the European Pact for gender equality for the period 2011-2020 adopted in the Council conclusions of 7 March 2011(20),

–  having regard to the Commission recommendation of 7 March 2014 on strengthening the principle of equal pay between men and women through transparency (2014/124/EU)(21),

–  having regard to the Commission’s initiative of December 2015, ‘Roadmap: A new start to address the challenges of work-life balance faced by working families’, as well as to the public and stakeholder consultations thereon,

–  having regard to the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs), the first global set of guidelines on business and human rights, which were unambiguously endorsed by all UN member states at the meeting of the UN Human Rights Council of 16 June 2011; having regard to the Commission communication of 25 October 2011 on corporate social responsibility (COM(2011)0681), which encourages EU Member States to adapt the UNGPs to their national context,

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 26 April 2017 on ‘Establishing a European Pillar of Social Rights’ (COM(2017)0250),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 26 April 2017 on ‘An Initiative to Support Work-Life Balance for Working Parents and Carers’ (COM(2017)0252),

–  having regard to the European Investment Bank Group Strategy on Gender Equality and Women’s Economic Empowerment,

–  having regard to the Commission staff working document of 3 December 2015 on ‘The Strategic engagement for gender equality 2016-2019’ (SWD(2015)0278), and in particular its Chapter 3.1, ‘Increasing female labour-market participation and the equal economic independence of women and men’,

–  having regard to the Commission’s 2017 report on equality between women and men in the European Union, and in particular to its chapter 1 on increasing female labour market participation and equal economic independence and chapter 2 on reducing gender pay, earnings and pension gaps,

–  having regard to the reports of the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions (Eurofound) entitled ‘The gender employment gap: challenges and solutions’ (2016),’Work-life balance: creating solutions for everyone’ (2016), ‘Social partners and gender equality in Europe’ (2014), and ‘Developments in working life in Europe: EurWORK annual review’ (2014 and 2015), and to the Sixth European Working Conditions Survey (EWCS) (2016),

–  having regard to the ILO Equal Remuneration Convention of 1951, the ILO Part-Time Work Convention of 1994, the ILO Home Work Convention of 1996, the ILO Maternity Protection Convention of 2000 and the ILO Domestic Workers Convention of 2011,

–  having regard to the Agreed Conclusions of 24 March 2017 of the 61st session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), entitled ‘Women’s economic empowerment in the changing world of work’,

–  having regard to the report of the UN Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel on Women’s Economic Empowerment of September 2016 entitled ‘Leave no one behind: A call to action for gender equality and women’s economic empowerment’,

–  having regard to the Beijing Platform for Action and the UN Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW),

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality and the opinion of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs (A8-0271/2017),

A.  whereas the EU is committed to promoting gender equality and ensuring gender mainstreaming in all of its actions;

B.  whereas women’s equal participation in the labour market and in economic decision-making are both preconditions for women’s empowerment and consequences of it;

C.  whereas across the EU women remain considerably under-represented in the labour market and in management, with the overall employment rate of women still being almost 12 % lower than that of men;

D.  whereas primary barriers to women’s economic empowerment include adverse social norms, discriminatory laws or lack of legal protection, failure to equally share unpaid household work and care between men and women, and lack of access to financial, digital and property assets; whereas these barriers can be further exacerbated by intersecting discrimination(22), such as on grounds of race and ethnicity, religion, disability, health, gender identity, sexual orientation and/or socio-economic conditions;

E.  whereas structural barriers to women’s economic empowerment are the result of multiple and intersecting forms of inequalities, stereotypes and discrimination in the private and public spheres;

F.  whereas economic empowerment of women is ‘right and smart’ at the same time, first of all as it is an essential dimension of gender equality and thus a matter of fundamental human rights and second as the higher participation of women in the labour market contributes to sustainable economic development at all levels of society; whereas companies that value women and enable them to participate fully in the labour market and in decision-making are more prosperous and help to boost productivity and economic growth; whereas evidence by the European Gender Equality Institute (EIGE) indicates that improvements to gender equality would generate up to 10,5 million additional jobs by 2050 in the EU, that the EU employment rate would reach almost 80 % and that EU GDP per capita could increase by between 6,1 % and 9,6 % and boost growth by between 15 % and 45 % in the Member States by 2050;

G.  whereas the Europe 2020 strategy establishes among the EU’s targets achieving 75 % of men and women in employment by 2020 and, in particular, closing the gender gap in employment; whereas coordinated efforts will be required to facilitate women’s labour market participation;

H.  whereas in late 2015 the Commission released the Gender Action Plan 2016-2020, with women’s economic rights and empowerment as one of four ‘pivotal areas’ for action;

I.  whereas ‘reducing the gender pay, earnings and pension gaps and thus fighting poverty among women’ is one of the priorities defined by the Commission in its document ‘Strategic engagement for gender equality 2016-2019’;

J.  whereas targets are set for women’s economic empowerment across the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs);

K.  whereas an effective work-life balance has a positive impact on progressing towards an ‘equal earner/equal carer’ model between women and men, as well as on health aspects, and promotes an inclusive economic environment, growth, competitiveness, overall labour market participation, gender equality, a reduced risk of poverty, and intergenerational solidarity, and also helps address the challenges of an ageing society;

L.  whereas Eurostat findings reveal that in the EU 31,5 % of working women work part-time compared with 8,2 % of working men, and whereas just over 50 % of women work full-time, compared with 71,2 % of men, representing a full-time employment rate gap of 25,5 %; whereas caring responsibilities are reasons for inactivity for almost 20 % of economically inactive women, while this is only the case for less than 2 % of economically inactive men; whereas caring responsibilities and difficulties arising from combining work and private life mean that women are far more likely to work part-time or be economically inactive than men, which has a negative impact on their wages and pension-related income;

M.  whereas the majority of the recipients of care are usually the children, older family members or family members with disabilities of unpaid caregivers;

N.  whereas women carry out at least two and a half times more unpaid household and care work than men;

O.  whereas maternity should not be seen as an obstacle to women’s professional development and consequently to their emancipation;

P.  whereas women and men have equal rights and duties in relation to parenthood (with the exception of recovery after giving birth), bearing in mind that bringing up children should be shared and should therefore not be assigned exclusively to mothers;

Q.  whereas in 2015 the average employment rate for women with one child under the age of six was nearly 9 % lower than that for women without young children, and whereas in some Member States the difference exceeded 30 %;

R.  whereas maternity and parenthood are not acceptable grounds for discrimination against women in relation to accessing and remaining in the labour market;

S.  whereas a publicly accessible wage-mapping framework including data collection should be established with the aim of eliminating the gender pay gap by putting pressure on both the public and private sectors to assess their payment structures and redress any gender-based differences that are found, and has the potential to create a ‘culture of awareness’ which makes it socially unacceptable to have a gender pay gap in a sector or company;

T.  whereas quotas have been found to improve the performance of private companies and boost wider economic growth, in addition to bringing about better use of the talent pool in the labour force;

U.  whereas gender equality and diversity in worker representation in companies at board level is a key democratic principle which has positive economic impacts, among them inclusive strategic decision-making and reducing the gender pay gap;

V.  whereas OECD studies have shown that companies with more women on their boards experience greater profitability compared to those with all-male boards;

W.  whereas typically female-dominated sectors or roles are generally characterised by lower wages than comparable sectors or roles which are male-dominated, constituting a component of the gender pay and pension gaps, which currently stand at 16 % and 40 % respectively;

X.  whereas the ILO has developed a framework in which jobs are assessed on the basis of four factors: qualifications, effort, responsibility and working conditions, and are weighted according to their importance for the company or organisation in question;

Y.  whereas social partners have the potential to strengthen women’s economic empowerment through collective bargaining, by promoting equal pay between women and men, investing in work-life balance, encouraging women’s career development in companies, and offering information and education in the field of workers’ rights;

Z.  whereas evidence attests that wage inequalities are smaller where collective bargaining is strong(23);

AA.  whereas according to Eurostat 24.4 % of women in the EU are at risk of poverty or social exclusion, while single mothers, women over 55 and women with disabilities are at particular risk of unemployment and inactivity in the labour market;

AB.  whereas implementation of the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (Istanbul Convention) is a prerequisite for women’s empowerment and thus gender equality; whereas gender-based violence is an unacceptable form of discrimination and a violation of fundamental rights, affecting not only women’s health and wellbeing, but also their access to employment and financial independence; whereas violence against women is one of the main impediments to gender equality, while education has the potential to reduce the risk of gender-based violence; whereas the subsequent social and economic empowerment can help women to escape situations of violence; whereas workplace violence and harassment, including sexism and sexual harassment, has serious negative consequences for all workers affected, their co-workers and their families, as well as the organisations they work in and society as a whole and may be partly responsible for women dropping out of the labour market;

AC.  whereas economic violence is a form of gender-based violence occurring in women’s everyday life, which hinders women from fulfilment of their right to freedom, reproduces gender inequality and neglects women’s role in society at large;

AD.  whereas many studies have clearly shown that cutbacks in the public sector have had a huge negative impact on women, their economic empowerment and gender equality;

AE.  whereas education, qualifications and the acquisition of skills are essential to the empowerment of women on the social, cultural and economic level, and educational opportunities are recognised as a core element for combating inequalities such as under-representation in decision-making and managerial posts and in the fields of engineering and science, thus improving the economic empowerment of women and girls;

AF.  whereas digitalisation has positive effects in terms of shaping new job opportunities and inducing a constructive shift towards more flexible work patterns, particularly for women entering or re-entering the labour market, and also in terms of achieving a better balance between caring activity and professional life for both women and men;

I.General considerations

1.  Considers that women’s economic participation and empowerment are key for strengthening their fundamental rights, enabling them to reach economic independence, to exert influence in society and to have control over their lives, while also breaking the glass ceilings preventing them from being treated equally to men in working life; encourages, therefore, the economic empowerment of women through political and financial means;

2.  Emphasises that the strengthening of women´s rights and economic empowerment means that it is necessary to address the deep-rooted unequal gender power-relations that give rise to discrimination and violence against women and girls, as well as against LGBTI persons, and that gender power structures interact with other forms of discrimination and inequality such as those related to race, disability, age and gender identity;

3.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to ensure equality and non-discrimination in the workplace for all;

4.  Calls on the Member States to fully implement both the Employment Equality Directive and Directive 2010/41/EU on the application of the principle of equal treatment between men and women engaged in an activity in a self-employed capacity; calls on the Commission to ensure better application of these directives;

5.  Points out that the low female employment rates and women’s exclusion from employment have a negative impact on women’s economic empowerment; highlights that the total yearly economic costs of the lower female employment rate, taking into account forgone earnings, missed welfare contributions and additional public finance costs, corresponded to 2,8 % of the EU’s GDP, or EUR 370 billion, in 2013 as estimated by Eurofound, while the cost of a woman’s exclusion from employment is estimated by the EIGE at between EUR 1,2 and 2 million, depending on her level of education;

6.  Stresses that women’s economic empowerment and equal opportunities in the labour market are first of all crucial for women individually, but are also instrumental for the EU’s economic growth, with a positive impact on GDP, inclusiveness and the competitiveness of businesses, while also helping to address challenges related to the ageing population in the EU; points out that, according to a 2009 study, the EU’s GDP could theoretically increase by almost 27 % assuming a labour market in full gender balance;

II.Actions and tools for improving the economic empowerment of women

Improved work-life balance

7.  Notes that, in response to Parliament’s call for work-life balance to be improved, the Commission has issued non-legislative proposals and a legislative proposal creating several types of leave in order to meet the challenges of the 21st century; stresses that the proposals made by the Commission are a good first step towards meeting the expectations of European citizens, as they will allow women and men to share occupational, family and social responsibilities more evenly, especially where care of dependants and childcare are concerned; calls on all institutions to deliver on this package as soon as possible;

8.  Calls on the Member States to step up protection against discrimination and unlawful dismissal related to work-life balance and to ensure access to justice and legal action; calls on the Commission to step up the monitoring, transposition and implementation of EU anti-discrimination legislation, launch infringement procedures where necessary, and promote compliance by, among other means, information campaigns to increase awareness of legal rights to equal treatment;

9.  Stresses that remuneration and social security contributions should continue to be paid during leave;

10.  Calls on the Member States to guarantee rest leave to parents of children with disabilities, paying particular attention to single mothers and on the basis of an examination of best practices;

11.  Urges Member States to invest in informal after-school play-centred learning facilities that could provide support for children after school and crèche hours in particular, as a way of responding to the gap between school and business hours;

12.  Insists that achieving the Barcelona targets and the introduction of care targets for dependent and ageing members of society, including accessible, affordable and quality childcare and other care, facilities and services, as well as independent living policies for people with disabilities, is indispensable for Member States to be able to reach the Europe 2020 targets; recalls that investing in social infrastructure, such as childcare, not only has considerable employment effects, but also generates significant additional income for the public sector in employment taxes and savings in respect of unemployment insurance; emphasises, in that connection, the need for childcare facilities to be available throughout rural areas, and encourages Member States to promote investment in the provision of lifelong accessible and affordable quality care services, including care for children, dependents and the elderly; believes that adequate childcare should be available and affordable also to enable parents to access lifelong learning opportunities;

13.  Underlines the crucial role of high-quality public services, especially for women; underlines the importance of universal access to high-quality, affordable, conveniently located and demand-driven public services as a tool to ensure women’s economic empowerment;

14.  Notes the current incoherence between the achievements of the Member States and the goals set out within the Barcelona targets, and urges the Commission to closely monitor the measures taken by the Member States in order to ensure that they fulfil their obligations;

15.  Is convinced that the engagement of men in caring responsibilities is a precondition for changing the traditional stereotypes related to gender roles; further believes that both genders and the whole of society will benefit from a fairer distribution of unpaid work and from more equal take-up of leave related to care; is convinced that an equal-earner-equal-carer model is the most effective for achieving gender equality in all areas of life;

16.  Calls on the Member States to pursue specific and active employment and training policies in order to support the return to work of women who have put their careers on hold to look after dependants;

17.  Emphasises that a better work-life balance and greater equality between women and men are essential for achieving the goals of women’s empowerment; stresses that a better work-life balance would ensure a fairer distribution of paid and unpaid work within families, increase women’s participation in the labour market and, accordingly, reduce the gender pay and pension gap;

18.  Stresses the importance of good and secure working conditions allowing both women and men to reconcile work and private life, and calls on the Commission and the Member States to promote the strengthening of labour rights, collective bargaining and increased gender equality;

19.  Strongly encourages the promoting of the individualisation of the right to leave arrangements, the non-transferability between parents of their entitlements to parental leave, and the equal distribution of care-related tasks between both parents, with a view to achieving gender-balanced reconciliation of work and private life;

20.  Calls on the Commission to finance studies on the analysis of the amount and value of unpaid family care work performed by women and men and the average number of hours spent on paid and unpaid work, with particular reference to caring for the elderly, children and people with disabilities;

21.  Calls for the development of a framework for employee-oriented flexible employment models for women and men, accompanied by adequate social protection, in order to make it easier to maintain a balance between personal and professional responsibilities; believes, at the same time, that workers’ rights and the right to secure employment must come before any increase in flexibility in the labour market, so as to ensure that flexibility does not increase precarious, undesirable and insecure forms of work and employment and does not undermine employment standards which currently concern women more than men, understanding precarious employment as that which does not comply with international, national or EU standards and laws and/or does not provide sufficient resources for a decent life or adequate social protection, such as discontinuous employment, the majority of temporary contracts, zero-hours contracts or involuntary part-time work; also stresses the need to create conditions to guarantee the right to return from voluntary part-time work to full time employment;

Equal pay for equal work of equal value and wage mapping

22.  Recalls that the principle of equal pay for male and female workers for equal work or work of equal value is enshrined and defined in Article 157 of the TFEU and needs to be applied effectively by the Member States; insists, in this context, that the Commission recommendation on strengthening the principle of equal pay between men and women through transparency should be used to closely monitor the situation in Member States and draw up progress reports, also with the support of social partners, and encourages the Member States and the Commission to set out and implement the relevant policies in line with this recommendation with a view to eliminating the persistent gender pay gap;

23.  Calls on the Member States and companies to respect pay parity and introduce binding measures as regards pay transparency in order to create methods for companies to tackle the issue of the gender pay gap, including through pay audits and the inclusion of equal pay measures in collective bargaining; highlights the importance of providing adequate training on employment non-discrimination legislation and case law for employees of national, regional and local authorities and law enforcement bodies and labour inspectors;

24.  Underlines the need to recognise and re-evaluate typically female-dominated work, such as that in the health, social and teaching sectors, as compared to typically male-dominated work;

25.  Expresses its conviction that achieving equal pay for male and female workers for equal work of equal value requires a clear framework of specific job evaluation tools with comparable indicators to assess ‘value’ in jobs or sectors;

26.  Recalls that in line with the jurisprudence of the European Court of Justice, the value of work should be assessed and compared on the basis of objective criteria, such as educational, professional and training requirements, skills, efforts and responsibility, work undertaken and the nature of the tasks involved;

27.  Highlights the importance of the principle of gender neutrality in job evaluation and classification systems in both the public and private sectors; welcomes the efforts of Member States to promote policies that prevent discrimination in recruitment, and encourages them to promote gender-blind CVs to discourage companies and public administrations from operating gender bias during their recruitment processes; calls on the Commission to explore the possibility of developing an anonymised ‘Europass CV’; suggests that Member States draw up programmes to combat social and gender stereotypes, particularly among younger population groups, as a means of preventing an occupational categorisation of job scales that frequently restricts women’s access to the highest-paid positions and jobs;

Gender balance in public and private sectors

28.  Considers that quotas in the public sector may be necessary where public institutions do not fulfil their responsibility to ensure fair representation, and could thus improve the democratic legitimacy of decision-making institutions;

29.  Notes that the use of gender quotas and zipped lists in political decision-making have proven most effective tools in addressing discrimination and gender power imbalances and improving democratic representation in political decision-making bodies;

30.  Calls on the Commission to improve the collection, analysis and dissemination of comprehensive, comparable and reliable and regularly updated data on women’s participation in decision-making;

31.  Calls on the EU institutions to encourage women’s participation in the European electoral process by including gender-balanced lists in the next revision of the European electoral law;

32.  Reiterates its call on the Council for swift adoption of the directive on gender balance among non-executive directors of listed companies, as an important first step towards equal representation in the public and private sectors, and notes that corporate boards with more women have been found to improve the performance of private companies; notes also that progress is most tangible (from 11,9 % in 2010 to 22,7 % in 2015) in Member States in which binding legislation on quotas for boards has been adopted(24); urges the Commission to maintain pressure on the Member States to find an agreement;

Gender equality plans

33.  Acknowledges that the Commission supports the adoption of gender equality plans by research-performing and research-funding organisations;

34.  Notes that gender equality plans on a company or sectorial level may contain multiple human resource measures addressing recruitment, pay, promotion, training and work-life balance; that they often include concrete measures such as use of gender-neutral language, prevention of sexual harassment, appointment of the under-represented gender to top positions, part-time work and participation of fathers in childcare, and that a variety of approaches exist in Member States regarding the mandatory introduction of such measures;

35.  Recognises that the adoption of gender equality plans and gender audits in the private sector may foster a positive, work-life balance-friendly image of companies and help increase employee motivation and reduce staff turnover; invites the Commission, therefore, to encourage companies with more than 50 employees to negotiate gender equality plans with social partners with a view to enhancing gender equality and combating discrimination in the workplace; calls for these gender equality plans to include a strategy to address, prevent and eliminate sexual harassment in the workplace;

Collective agreements and social partners

36.  Expresses its conviction that social partners and collective agreements have the potential to promote gender equality, to empower women through unity and to combat gender pay inequalities; emphasises that ensuring equal and appropriate representation of women and men in collective bargaining teams is essential for promoting women’s economic empowerment, and therefore considers that social partners should strengthen the position of women within their social partnership structure in leading decision-making roles and negotiate gender equality plans at company and sectorial level;

37.  Encourages the Commission to work with social partners and civil society in order to strengthen them in their key role of detecting discriminatory gender bias in the setting of wage scales and in providing job evaluations which are free of gender bias;

III.Recommendations on enhancing economic empowerment of women

38.  Is of the view that economic models and practices, tax policies and spending priorities, especially during crises, should include a gender perspective, take women into account as economic actors and aim to close gender gaps to the benefit of citizens, businesses and society as a whole, and reiterates in this context that the economic crises have disadvantaged women in particular;

39.  Calls for reforms to increase gender equality both in family life and on the labour market;

40.  Notes that women in general have careers without significant progression; calls on the Member States to encourage and support women so that they can have successful careers, including through positive actions such as networking and mentoring programmes, as well as by creating suitable conditions and ensuring equal opportunities with men at all ages for training, advancement, reskilling and retraining, as well as pension rights and unemployment benefits that are equal to those applicable to men;

41.  Encourages the Member States, on the basis of the provisions of Directive 2014/24/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 February 2014 on public procurement(25) (the Public Procurement Directive), to promote the use of social clauses in public procurement as a tool for enhancing equality between women and men, where relevant national legislation exists and can be used as a basis for social clauses;

42.  Stresses the need to combat all forms of gender-based violence, including domestic violence, such as rape, female genital mutilation (FGM), sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, sexual harassment and forced early/child marriage, as well as the phenomenon of economic violence; draws attention to the very worrying high levels of sexual harassment in the workplace(26), and underlines that, in order for women’s empowerment to succeed, the workplace needs to be free from all forms of discrimination and violence; calls for the EU and the Member States to ratify the Istanbul Convention without reservations and organise public awareness and information campaigns on violence against women, and to encourage the exchange of good practices; notes that women’s economic independence plays a crucial role in their ability to escape situations of violence; calls on the Member States, therefore, to provide social protection systems to support women in this situation;

43.  Reiterates that women’s individual, social and economic empowerment and independence is interlinked with the right to decide over their own bodies and sexuality; recalls that universal access to the full range of sexual and reproductive health and rights is a crucial driving force in enhancing equality for all;

44.  Welcomes the conclusions of the 61st session of the CSW on ‘Women’s economic empowerment in the changing world of work’, which, for the first time, make a direct and explicit link between women’s economic empowerment and their sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights; regrets, however that comprehensive sexuality education was omitted entirely from the agreement;

45.  Notes that women constitute 52 % of the total European population, but only one third of self-employed workers or of all business starters in the EU; notes also that women face more difficulties than men in access to finance, training, networking and maintaining a work-life balance; encourages the Member States to promote measures and actions to assist and advise women who decide to become entrepreneurs, while stressing that financial independence is key to achieving equality; calls on the Member States to facilitate access to credit, cut red tape and remove other obstacles vis-à-vis women’s start-ups; calls on the Commission to intensify its work with the Member States to identify and remove barriers to women’s entrepreneurship and to encourage more women to start their own businesses, including through improving access to finance, market research, training and networks for business purposes, such as the WEgate Platform for women entrepreneurs and other European networks;

46.  Highlights that improving digital skills and IT literacy among women and girls and boosting their inclusion in the ICT sector could contribute to their economic empowerment and independence, resulting in a reduction in the total gender pay gap; calls on the Member States and the Commission to advance their efforts to put an end to the digital divide between men and women as mentioned in the Europe 2020 Digital Agenda, by increasing women’s access to the information society, with a particular focus on better female visibility in the digital sector;

47.  Points out that women account for almost 60 % of graduates in the EU but, on account of persistent hindering factors, remain under-represented in science, mathematics, IT, engineering and related careers; invites the Member States and the Commission to promote, through information and awareness-raising campaigns, the participation of women in sectors traditionally viewed as ‘male’, notably the sciences and new technologies, among others, by mainstreaming gender equality in the digital agenda for the forthcoming years, as well as promoting the participation of men in sectors traditionally viewed as ‘female’, notably care and education; stresses the importance of extending social protection in sectors where women make up the majority of the workforce, as in the cases of personal care workers, cleaners and helpers, catering staff and health associate professionals, among others; highlights the importance of vocational education and training (VET) in diversifying career choices and introducing women and men to non-traditional career opportunities so as to overcome horizontal and vertical exclusion and to increase the numbers of women in decision-making bodies in political and business spheres;

48.  Asks the Member States for legislative and non-legislative measures to guarantee the economic and social rights of workers in the so-called feminised sectors; highlights the importance of preventing the over-representation of women in precarious employment, and recalls the need to combat the precarious nature of these sectors, such as domestic work or caring; recognises that domestic work and the provision of household services, which are largely feminised, are often performed as undeclared work; calls on the Commission and the Member States to promote and further develop the formal sector of domestic services also through the European Platform Tackling Undeclared Work, and to recognise household services, family employment and home care as constituting a valuable economic sector with a job creation potential which needs to be better regulated within the Member States, with a view both to creating secure positions for domestic workers and to providing families with the capacity to assume their role as employers, as well as opportunities for reconciliation of private and professional life for working families;

49.  Stresses the importance of education in combating gender stereotypes; calls, therefore, on the Commission to promote initiatives developing training programmes on gender equality for education professionals, and preventing stereotypes from being passed on through curricula and pedagogical material;

50.  Stresses the importance of gender mainstreaming as a fundamental tool in the design of gender-sensitive policies and legislation, including in the field of employment and social affairs, and therefore for ensuring women’s economic empowerment; calls on the Commission to introduce systematic gender impact assessments; reaffirms its call on the Commission to enhance the status of its ‘Strategic engagement for gender equality 2016-2019’ by adopting it as a communication; calls on the Commission to introduce gender-responsive budgeting in the next multiannual financial framework and to engage in increasingly rigorous scrutiny of EU budget-setting processes and expenditure, including taking steps to improve transparency and reporting around how funds are spent; further calls on the European Investment Bank to mainstream gender equality and women’s economic empowerment throughout its activities inside and outside the EU;

51.  Calls on the Member States to mainstream the gender perspective into their national skills and labour market policies and to include such measures in national action plans and as part of the European Semester, in line with the employment guidelines;

52.  Underlines the importance of offering lifelong learning to women in rural areas, including through, for example, inter-enterprise training courses; stresses the high proportion of self-employed workers in rural areas with a lack of appropriate social protection and the high proportion of ‘invisible’ work, which affects women in particular; calls on the Member States and regions with legislative powers, therefore, to ensure social security for both men and women working in rural areas; calls on the Member States also to facilitate equitable access to land, ensure ownership and inheritance rights, and facilitate access to credit for women;

53.  Points out that the rates of people at risk of poverty or social exclusion are higher among women than among men, and stresses, therefore, that measures to combat poverty and social exclusion have a particular impact on women’s economic empowerment; stresses that preventing and eliminating the gender pension gap and reducing women’s poverty in old age depend first and foremost on conditions being created for women to make equal pension contributions through further inclusion in the labour market and safeguarding equal opportunities in terms of pay, career advancement and possibilities to work full-time; calls on the Commission and the Member States to ensure that the ESI funds and the European Fund for Strategic Investments contribute to reducing women’s poverty with a view to achieving the overall Europe 2020 poverty reduction target; calls on the Member States to make sure that the allocated 20 % of ESF funding for social inclusion measures is also used to increase support to small local projects aimed at empowering women experiencing poverty and social exclusion;

54.  Notes that poverty continues to be measured on accumulated household income, which assumes that all members of the household earn the same and distribute resources equally; calls for individualised rights and calculations based on individual incomes in order to reveal the true extent of women’s poverty;

55.  Notes that women have been the most affected by austerity measures and cuts in the public sector (less and more expensive childcare, reduced services for the elderly and people with disabilities, privatisation and closure of hospitals), in particular in areas such as education, health and social work, as they represent 70 % of the public-sector workforce;

56.  Stresses the importance of paying attention to the specific needs and multifaceted challenges of certain vulnerable groups which face particular barriers to entry to the labour market; calls on the Member States to ensure, for these individuals, early and easy access to quality training, including internships, in order to ensure their full integration into our societies and the labour market, taking into consideration existing informal and formal skills and competences, talents and know-how; calls on the Member States to take up measures to prevent the intersectional discrimination that particularly affects women in vulnerable situations; emphasises how important it is that Directive 2000/78/EC on equal treatment in employment and occupation, as well as Directive 2000/43/EC of 29 June 2000 implementing the principle of equal treatment between persons irrespective of racial or ethnic origin(27), are implemented correctly;

57.  Calls on the Member States and the Commission to enforce and improve the practical application of the existing laws and workplace policies, and to improve those laws and policies where appropriate, in order to protect women from direct and indirect discrimination, particularly as regards the selection, hiring, retention, vocational training and promotion of women in employment in both the public and private sectors, and to offer women equal opportunities in terms of pay and career advancement;

58.  Strongly deplores the fact that the Council has still not adopted the 2008 proposal for a directive on implementing the principle of equal treatment between persons irrespective of religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation; welcomes the prioritisation of this directive by the Commission; reiterates its call on the Council to adopt the proposal as soon as possible;

59.  Calls on the Commission to improve the collection of specific gender indicators and gender-disaggregated data in order to estimate the gender equality impact of Member States and EU policies;

60.  Stresses that women are disproportionately and often involuntarily concentrated in precarious work; urges the Member States to implement the ILO recommendations intended to reduce the scale of precarious work, such as restricting the circumstances in which precarious contracts can be used and limiting the length of time workers can be employed on such a contract;

61.  Calls on the EIGE to continue its work of compiling gender-specific data and establishing scoreboards in all relevant policy areas;

o
o   o

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

(1) OJ L 204, 26.7.2006, p. 23.
(2) OJ L 180, 15.7.2010, p. 1.
(3) OJ L 348, 28.11.1992, p. 1.
(4) OJ C 137 E, 27.5.2010, p. 68.
(5) OJ C 70 E, 8.3.2012, p. 163.
(6) OJ L 353, 28.12.2013, p. 7.
(7) OJ C 436, 24.11.2016, p. 225.
(8) OJ C 36, 29.1.2016, p. 18.
(9) OJ C 93, 9.3.2016, p. 110.
(10) OJ C 353, 27.9.2016, p. 39.
(11) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0203.
(12) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0226.
(13) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0235.
(14) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0338.
(15) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0360.
(16) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0351.
(17) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0029.
(18) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0073.
(19) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0099.
(20) 3073rd Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council meeting, Brussels, 7 March 2011.
(21) OJ L 69, 8.3.2014, p. 112.
(22) UN High-Level Panel on Women’s Economic Empowerment: ‘Leave no one behind: A call to action for gender equality and economic women’s empowerment’ (September 2016).
(23) See: ‘The European Trade Union Confederation’, ‘Collective bargaining: our powerful tool to close the gender gap’ (2015).
(24) See: European Commission Fact sheet ‘Gender balance on corporate boards – Europe is cracking the glass ceiling’, October 2015; European Commission, DG JUST, ‘Women in economic decision-making in the EU: Progress report: A Europe 2020 initiative’, 2012; Aagoth Storvik and Mari Teigen, ‘Women on Board: The Norwegian Experience’, June 2010.
(25) OJ L 94, 28.3.2014, p. 65.
(26) FRA survey on violence against women.
(27) OJ L 180, 19.7.2000, p. 22.


Addressing shrinking civil society space in developing countries
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European Parliament resolution of 3 October 2017 on addressing shrinking civil society space in developing countries (2016/2324(INI))
P8_TA(2017)0365A8-0283/2017

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to Article 21 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU),

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

–  having regard to Article 7 of the TFEU, which reaffirms that the EU ‘shall ensure consistency between its policies and activities, taking all of its objectives into account’,

–  having regard to the Charter of the United Nations,

–  having regard to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and other UN human rights treaties and instruments, in particular the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights adopted in New York on 16 December 1966, and the 1979 UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW),

–  having regard to the UN Summit on Sustainable Development and the outcome document adopted by the UN General Assembly on 25 September 2015, entitled ‘Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development’(1),

–  having regard to the European Consensus on Development,

–  having regard to the ‘Global Strategy for the European Union’s Foreign and Security Policy – Shared Vision, Common Action: A Stronger Europe’, presented in June 2016 by the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (VP/HR)(2),

–  having regard to the Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy 2015-2019, adopted by the Council on 20 July 2015(3),

–  having regard to the EU Country Roadmaps for Engagement with Civil Society,

–  having regard to the Partnership Agreement between the members of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States of the one part, and the European Community and its Member States, of the other part, signed in Cotonou on 23 June 2000 (the Cotonou Agreement), and to its revisions of 2005 and 2010,

–  having regard to the Code of Good Practice for Civil Participation in the Decision-Making Process, adopted by the Conference of INGOs on 1 October 2009,

–  having regard to the Berlin Declaration of the annual meeting of the Core Group of the Civil Society Platform for Peacebuilding and Statebuilding (CSPPS), which was held from 6 to 9 July 2016,

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 233/2014 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 March 2014 establishing a financing instrument for development cooperation (DCI) for the period 2014-2020(4), and to Regulation (EU) No 230/2014 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 March 2014 establishing an instrument contributing to stability and peace(5),

–  having regard to Council Regulation (EU) 2015/323 of 2 March 2015 on the financial regulation applicable to the 11th European Development Fund(6) and to Declaration I of the Cotonou Agreement (‘Joint Declaration on the actors of the partnership’),

–  having regard to Article 187(2) of Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 966/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 October 2012 on the financial rules applicable to the general budget of the Union and repealing Council Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 1605/2002(7) (‘the Financial Regulation’),

–  having regard to the DCI Multiannual Indicative Programme 2014-2020 for the ‘Civil Society Organisations and Local Authorities’(8),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 12 September 2012 entitled ‘The roots of democracy and sustainable development: Europe’s engagement with Civil Society in external relations’ (COM(2012)0492),

–  having regard to the UN Human Rights Council resolution of 27 June 2016 on civil society space(9),

–  having regard to the EU Annual Report on Human Rights and Democracy in the World, and the EU’s policy for 2015,

–  having regard to its resolution of 25 October 2016 on corporate liability for serious human rights abuses in third countries(10),

–  having regard to its resolution of 4 October 2016 on the future of ACP-EU relations beyond 2020(11),

–  having regard to the European Union’s Human Rights Guidelines, including the EU Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders, and the EU Guidelines on the promotion and protection of religion or belief, adopted by the Council on 24 June 2013,

–  having regard to the Guidelines for EP Interparliamentary Delegations on promoting human rights and democracy in their visits to non-EU countries(12),

–  having regard to the opinion of the Committee of the Regions of 9 October 2013 entitled ‘Empowering local authorities in partner countries for enhanced governance and more effective development outcomes’,

–  having regard to the opinion of the Committee of the Regions of 24 February 2015 entitled ‘A decent life for all: from vision to collective action’,

–  having regard to the report of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights of 11 April 2016 on practical recommendations for the creation and maintenance of a safe and enabling environment for civil society, based on good practices and lessons learned(13), and to the reports of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights of peaceful assembly and of association,

–  having regard to the World Economic Forum’s 2017 Global Risks Report(14),

–  having regard to its resolution of 14 February 2017 on the revision of the European Consensus on Development(15),

–  having regard to its resolution of 22 November 2016 on increasing the effectiveness of development cooperation(16),

–  having regard to its resolution of 7 June 2016 on the EU 2015 Report on Policy Coherence for Development(17),

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

–  having regard to its resolution of 12 May 2016 on the follow-up to and review of the 2030 Agenda(18),

–  having regard to its resolution of 22 October 2013 on local authorities and civil society: Europe’s engagement in support of sustainable development(19),

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Development and the opinion of the Committee on Foreign Affairs (A8-0283/2017),

A.  whereas Article 21 TEU states that the Union’s action on the international scene, which includes therein development cooperation, must be guided by the principles of democracy, the rule of law, the universality and indivisibility of human rights and fundamental freedoms;

B.  whereas civil society represents the third sector of a healthy and decent society, along with the public and private sectors; whereas civil society comprises non-governmental and non-profit organisations that have a presence in public life, expressing the interests and values of their members or others, based on ethical, cultural, political, scientific, religious or philanthropic considerations;

C.  whereas civil society plays a central role in building and strengthening democracy, in monitoring the power of the state, and in promoting good governance, transparency and accountability; whereas the presence of civil society organisations (CSOs) as a vital force in society is crucial, as they represent a necessary counterbalance to the powers that be by playing the role of intermediary and mediator between the population and the state, and in their capacity as guardians of democracy; whereas numerous civil society groups have been seeking to engage in constitutional reform processes so as to protect democratic principles and institutions;

D.  whereas CSOs cover a wide spectrum of human rights, including the right to development, education and gender equality, as well as carrying out activities in the social and environmental fields; whereas civil society encompasses a wide and heterogeneous range of groups and aims, including not only CSOs, but also NGOs, human rights and community groups, diasporas, churches, religious associations and communities, safeguarding the interests of the disabled, social movements and trade unions, indigenous peoples and foundations, and the representation of vulnerable, discriminated and marginalised people;

E.  whereas the Cotonou Agreement recognises civil society as a key actor within ACP-EU cooperation; whereas the expiry of the Agreement in 2020 represents an opportunity to review the partnership and further increase the participation of CSOs;

F.  whereas CSOs have become important players in global development assistance, particularly in the delivery of basic social services, public awareness, the promotion of democracy, human rights and good governance, peaceful and inclusive societies, fostering the resilience of individuals, families and local communities, countering violent extremism, and the response to humanitarian crises;

G.  whereas as recognised by international organisations in their protocols and practices, churches, religious communities and associations, together with other religion- or belief-based organisations are among the frontline and long-standing operational field actors in the provision of development and humanitarian assistance;

H.  whereas the DCI Multiannual Indicative Programme 2014-2020 for the ‘Civil Society Organisations and Local Authorities’ thematic programme includes the promotion of an enabling environment for CSOs and local authorities as a cross-cutting element; whereas the programme aims to strengthen CSOs’ voice and participation in the development process of partner countries and to advance political, social and economic dialogue;

I.  whereas the EU is the largest donor to local civil society organisations in developing countries and has been a leading actor in the protection of civil society actors and human rights defenders (HRDs) through the use and implementation of a range of instruments and policies, including the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR), the DCI thematic programme for Civil Society Organisations and Local Authorities (CSOs-LAs), the European Endowment for Democracy, the Civil Society Roadmaps implemented in 105 countries and country strategy papers;

J.  whereas there has been an expansion in the size, scope, composition and influence of civil society around the world over the past decade; whereas, at the same time, restrictions against civil society actors and activities have become increasingly repressive and forceful in a growing number of countries worldwide, both developing and developed;

K.  whereas, moreover, the agenda set by institutional donors may in some cases not prioritise the real needs of the civil society actors working in the field;

L.  whereas the 2016 State of Civil Society Report considered 2015 a dismal year for civil society, with civic rights being placed under serious threat in more than a hundred countries; whereas the Sub-Saharan African and Middle East and North African (MENA) regions are particularly concerned by this report, as they are more often faced with situations of political stress, conflict and fragility;

M.  whereas an increasing number of governments are clamping down in legal or administrative terms on civil society organisations, including by imposing restrictive laws, limits on funding, strict licensing procedures and punitive taxes;

N.  whereas in developing countries, there has been a worrying increase in the number of reports of activists, CSOs staff members, HRDs, trade unionists, lawyers, intellectuals, journalists and religious leaders being persecuted, harassed, stigmatised as ‘foreign agents’, and arbitrarily arrested or detained, and in the number of victims of abuse and violence in recent years; whereas in a number of countries, this is being done with complete impunity, and at times with the support or compliance of the authorities;

O.  whereas human rights are universal and inalienable, indivisible, interdependent and interrelated; whereas civil society’s ability to act relies on the exercise of fundamental freedoms, including the right to freedom of association, peaceful assembly, expression, thought, conscience, religion or belief, and free access to information;

P.  whereas there is a link between a weakened civil society, reduced political and civic space, increased corruption, social and gender inequality, low human and socio-economic development, as well as fragility and conflicts;

Q.  whereas any credible and effective EU response in addressing shrinking civic space requires an accurate and timely assessment and understanding of the threats and factors driving the restrictions; whereas such a response also requires a coordinated approach between development and political cooperation, in order to ensure coherence between all EU external and internal instruments by projecting a common message on the importance of freely functioning civil society, as well as cooperation at local, regional and international levels;

R.  whereas the 2030 Agenda, and SDGs 16 and 17 in particular, provide for enhanced cooperation with civil society as key partner and enabler as regards the promotion, implementation, follow-up and review of the SDGs;

1.  Believes that a genuinely independent, diverse, pluralistic and vibrant civil society is pivotal to a country’s development and stability, to ensuring democratic consolidation, social justice, respect for human rights, and to building inclusive societies, so that no one is left behind; recalls, furthermore, that civil society is a key actor in achieving the SDGs;

2.  Emphasises the central role played by civil society worldwide in supporting democracy, in guaranteeing the separation of powers, and in promoting transparency, accountability and good governance, in particular in the fight against corruption and violent extremism, and its direct impact on countries’ economic and human development, as well as on environmental sustainability;

3.  Is deeply concerned that the closing down of civil society space in developing countries is being carried out in increasingly complex and sophisticated ways, which are harder to tackle and imposed through legislation, taxation, funding limitations, increased bureaucracy, reporting and banking requirements, the criminalisation and stigmatisation of CSO representatives, defamation, all forms of harassment, online repression and internet access limitations, censorship, arbitrary detention, gender-based violence, torture and assassination, in particular in conflict-stricken states; insists on the necessity of tackling governmental and non-governmental tactics of marginalising critical voices;

4.  Expresses concern that when CSOs are legally able to receive foreign funding, they may be labelled as ‘foreign agents’, which stigmatises them and significantly increases the risks they face; calls for the EU to reinforce its instruments and policies addressing institution-building and the rule of law and to include strong benchmarks for accountability and the fight against impunity for arbitrary arrests, police abuse, torture and other ill-treatment of HRDs, bearing in mind that women and men experience this differently;

5.  Underlines that shrinking civil society space is a global phenomenon, which is not restricted to developing countries but also, and increasingly, occurs in established democracies and middle- and high-income countries, including EU Member States and some of the EU’s closest allies; calls for the EU and its Member States to lead by example in strictly upholding the fundamental rights of civil society and to address any negative trends in this field;

6.  Insists that states have the primary responsibility and are under the obligation to protect all human rights and fundamental freedoms of all persons, and have a duty to provide a political, legal and administrative environment conducive to a free and functioning civil society, in which free and safe operation and access to funding is ensured, including through foreign sources;

7.  Calls for the EU to acknowledge the need to provide guidance to governments, political parties, parliaments and administrations in beneficiary countries on developing strategies for establishing the appropriate legal, administrative and political environment to enable the efficient work of CSOs;

8.  Is deeply concerned by the increasing attacks against HRDs worldwide; calls on the EU, and the VP/HR in particular, to adopt a policy to denounce, systematically and unequivocally, the killing of HRDs and any attempt to subject them to any form of violence, persecution, threat, harassment, forced disappearance, imprisonment or arbitrary arrest, to condemn those who commit or tolerate such atrocities, and to step up public diplomacy in open and clear support of HRDs; encourages the EU delegations and the Member States’ diplomatic representations to continue actively supporting HRDs, notably by systematically monitoring trials, visiting them in jail and issuing statements on individual cases, where appropriate;

9.  Considers that in cases of the rapid and dramatic shrinking of civil society space, Member States should grant high-level public recognition to affected human rights NGOs/individual HRDs for their work, for example by visiting them during official visits;

10.  Encourages the EU to develop guidelines on freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of association; calls for the EU to make full use of the EU Human Rights and Democracy Country Strategies, to put in place monitoring tools for the effective joint implementation of the EU Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders, and to ensure that there are no protection gaps and that serious human rights abuses are met with sanctions;

11.  Recalls that civil society plays an important role in promoting freedom of thought, conscience, religion or belief, and reiterates its support for the implementation of the EU guidelines on the promotion and protection of freedom of religion or belief;

12.  Stresses that it is essential that CSOs’ relationship with citizens and the state is strengthened, in order that communities and constituencies, including women and women’s rights organisations and all vulnerable groups, are genuinely represented, and in order to help make the state more effective and accountable in delivering development and upholding all human rights;

13.  Welcomes the EU’s long-standing commitment to and support for civil society in developing countries, and reiterates its unequivocal call for continued and increased EU support and funding in creating a free and enabling environment for civil society at country and local level, including through annual programming; calls for the EU to diversify and maximise funding modalities and mechanisms for civil society actors, by taking account of their specificities and ensuring not to restrict their scope for action or the number of potential interlocutors;

14.  Calls for the EU to ensure that EU funding is used for both long-term support and emergency interventions, in order to help civil society activists at risk in particular;

15.  Recalls that civic participation and the strength of civil society should be taken into consideration as an indicator for democracy; strongly encourages any inter-parliamentary debates on democracy to include CSO members and civil society to be involved in the consultation process on all legislation that affects it;

16.  Calls for the EU to continue to work towards greater autonomy of civic space, not only through EU development and human rights policies, but also by integrating all other EU internal and external policies, including justice, home affairs, trade and security policies, in accordance with the principle of policy coherence for development;

17.  Warns the EU and its Member States against a more lenient approach on shrinking civil society space and other human rights issues when countries with which the EU cooperates on migration issues are concerned; underlines the fact that shrinking civil society space and human rights violations may contribute to forced migration;

18.  Underlines the fact that tackling shrinking civil society space requires a unified and consistent approach in the EU’s relationship with third countries; calls for the EU and its Member States to proactively address the root causes of shrinking civil society space, in particular by mainstreaming the promotion of free and responsible CSO engagement and participation in bilateral and multilateral cooperation as a partner in political, economic and social dialogue; calls, in this regard, for the EU to take into account the different sizes, capacities and expertise of CSOs;

19.  Encourages the EU to become an active facilitator and to promote institutional mechanisms and multi-stakeholder initiatives for reinforced dialogues and to develop stronger and broader coalitions and partnerships among developing countries’ governments, CSOs, local authorities and the private sector in an enabling civil society environment; underlines the importance of safe spaces for such dialogues;

20.  Calls for the EU to monitor counter-terrorism measures and aspects of anti-money laundering and transparency legislation, and to take action to ensure that these do not place illegitimate limits on CSO funding and activities; reiterates, in this context, that the recommendations of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) should not be interpreted and applied in a way that unduly restricts civil society space;

21.  Recalls that the private sector is a key partner in achieving the SDGs, and has an important role to play in fostering civic space and promoting an enabling environment for CSOs and trade unions, in particular by reaffirming corporate social responsibility and due diligence obligations in supply chains, and through the use of public-private partnerships;

22.  Reiterates the obligation incumbent on the private sector to adhere to both human rights and the highest social and environmental standards; calls for the EU and its Member States to continue to engage actively in the work of the UN to set up an international treaty that holds corporations accountable for any involvement in human rights violations, and by introducing human rights risk assessments for public procurement and investment;

23.  Believes that trade and investment agreements concluded by the EU and its Member States must not undermine – either directly or indirectly – the promotion and protection of human rights and civic space in developing countries; considers that binding human rights clauses in trade agreements are an influential tool for opening up civic space; calls on the Commission to strengthen the role of civil society actors in trade agreement institutions, including Domestic Advisory Groups and EPA Consultative Committees;

24.  Calls on the Commission to develop a monitoring framework of EU external financing instruments, with a special focus on human rights;

25.  Calls on the Commission and the EEAS to establish best practices and to develop clear benchmarks and indicators related to shrinking space in the context of the EU Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy and the EIDHR mid-term review, in order to measure tangible progress;

26.  Calls on all EU actors to advocate more effectively in multilateral fora the strengthening of the international legal framework underpinning democracy and human rights, inter alia by engaging with multilateral organisations such as the UN, including the UN Special Procedures and the UN Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) mechanism, and regional organisations such as the Organisation of American States (OAS), the African Union (AU), the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the Arab League (AL) and the Community of Democracies Working Group on Enabling and Protecting Civil Society; recalls the importance to the Union of establishing an inclusive human rights dialogue with all partner states by including CSOs; calls on both the Union and its Member States to step up their good governance programmes with third countries and to promote the exchange of good practices with regard to the inclusion and participation of CSOs in decision-making processes; considers it necessary to promote tripartite dialogues between governments, the EU and CSOs, including on difficult issues such as security and migration;

27.  Requests the establishment of a ‘Shrinking Space Monitoring and Early Warning’ mechanism, with the involvement of the relevant EU institutions, capable of monitoring threats against civil society space and HRDs and issuing an alert whenever there is evidence that a developing country is preparing serious new restrictions against civil society, or when the government is using government-organised non-governmental organisations (GONGOs) to simulate the existence of independent civil society, so that the EU is able to respond in a timelier, coordinated and tangible manner;

28.  Calls for the EU to strengthen its support for the full participation and empowerment of minorities and other vulnerable groups, such as persons with disabilities, indigenous people and isolated populations, in cultural, social, economic and political processes; calls upon states, in that regard, to ensure that their legislation and policies do not undermine enjoyment of their human rights or the activities of civil society defending their rights;

29.  Deplores the lack of organisations helping victims of terrorism in third countries at a time when global terrorism is on the rise; underlines, therefore, the urgent need to establish a secure climate for such organisations in order to protect the victims of terrorism;

30.  Underlines the critical role played by women and women’s rights organisations in social progress, including youth-led movements; calls for the EU to insist on the need to support women’s empowerment and the creation of a safe and enabling environment for women’s CSOs and women’s rights defenders, and to address specific gender-based forms of repression, particularly in conflict-affected regions;

31.  Highlights the importance of actively contributing to the support of women-rights related policies and actions, including sexual and reproductive health and rights;

32.  Reiterates the importance of mainstreaming the rights-based approach (RBA) into EU development policy, with the aim of integrating human rights and rule of law principles into EU development activities and of synchronising human rights and development cooperation activities;

33.  Recalls the importance of regional cooperation in strengthening enabling environments for civil society; encourages developing countries to promote dialogue and the best practice of protecting and engaging with civil society;

34.  Welcomes the EU Country Roadmaps for Engagement with Civil Society as an effective tool, and as the possible new EU framework for engagement with civil society; considers it paramount that CSOs be involved not only in the consultation process leading to the drafting of the roadmaps, but also in their implementation, monitoring and review;

35.  Commits to establishing, on an annual basis and through in-depth consultation with relevant institutional and NGO actors, a list of countries where civil society space is most under threat;

36.  Calls on the VP/HR to regularly place on the agenda of the Foreign Affairs Council a discussion of, and follow-up to, the EU’s efforts in pursuing the release of HRDs, aid workers, journalists, political activists, persons imprisoned for their religious or moral convictions, and others imprisoned as a result of shrinking civil society space;

37.  Welcomes the appointment of human rights and civil society focal points in EU Delegations dedicated to improving cooperation with local civil society, in particular in providing assistance to vulnerable and marginalised groups and individuals; calls on the EU Delegations to systematically raise awareness about shrinking civil society space and the protection of activists with national members of parliament, governments and local authority officials, and to further engage with CSOs in the programming cycle of EU funds and in their subsequent monitoring, even where bilateral cooperation is being phased out; calls, furthermore, on the EU Delegations to provide, in a regular and transparent manner, information to civil society about funds and funding opportunities;

38.  Calls for the EU and its Member States to systematically include shrinking civic space in their bilateral relations and to make use of all available instruments and tools, including development and trade, so as to ensure that partner countries uphold their commitment to protecting and guaranteeing human rights; calls for the EU to closely monitor the involvement of civil society actors in partner countries and to urge governments to repeal all laws that violate the rights to freedom of assembly and association; considers, in this regard, that the EU should introduce positive conditionality in budget support as regards any restriction of civic space;

39.  Stresses that western civil society should support the creation and strengthening of NGOs by transferring know-how in order to help them contribute to the development of their own countries;

40.  Strongly encourages synergies among the EU’s External Financing Instruments in support of civil society, and calls for a comprehensive mapping exercise at country level of all EU civil society funding, so as to avoid duplications and overlap, and to help identify possible funding gaps and needs;

41.  Encourages the EU to adopt guidelines on partnerships with churches and faith-based organisations and religious leaders in cooperation for development, based on the experiences of international organisations and programmes (such as UNICEF, the World Bank, WHO or the UN Development Programme), and good practices in EU Member States and abroad;

42.  Strongly recommends better protection for the representatives of CSOs in third countries in order to tackle any possible hostility directed towards them;

43.  Welcomes the greater flexibility provided by a number of EU financing instruments relevant to development cooperation, which enables, inter alia, easier registration of grant applicants and confidentiality for recipients where necessary; considers, however, that more can be done to provide the most appropriate and tailored response to specific country situations, including more up-stream information on upcoming calls for proposals, more funding opportunities, more regular roadmap updates, the public availability of roadmaps, the harmonisation and simplification of funding modalities, and support for CSOs in their administrative procedures;

44.  Calls on the Commission to include in the DCI Multiannual Indicative Programme 2018-2020, a thematic global call for proposals, specifically addressing the issue of shrinking civil society space;

45.  Calls on the Commission to increase EIDHR funds to address the shrinking space and the situation of HRDs; deplores the fact that the annual sums in some countries are at an extremely low level; calls on the Commission to identify new forms of activism to be funded by the EIDHR, by taking a comprehensive approach to CSOs, and to continue its efforts to put in place a more flexible and simplified procedure for accessing EIDHR funding, especially for young people, including more significant exceptions for those CSOs in particular danger and support for unregistered groups which should eventually be recognised by the authorities; considers that greater emphasis should be put on support for local groups and actors, since human rights issues are often experienced in a more real and acute way at local level; reiterates the importance of the EIDHR in providing urgent direct financial and material support for HRDs at risk and the emergency fund that enables the EU delegations to award them direct ad-hoc grants; recognises the importance of coalitions or consortiums of international and national civil society actors to facilitate and protect the work of local NGOs against repressive measures; calls on the Commission, the EEAS and the Member States to promote the effective joint implementation of the EU Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders in all third countries where civil society is at risk by adopting local strategies for their full operationalisation;

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

(1) http://www.un.org/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=A/RES/70/1&Lang=E
(2) Council document 10715/16.
(3) Council document 10897/15.
(4) OJ L 77, 15.3.2014, p. 44.
(5) OJ L 77, 15.3.2014, p. 1.
(6) OJ L 58, 3.3.2015, p. 17.
(7) OJ L 298, 26.10.2012, p. 1.
(8) C(2014)4865 final.
(9) A/HRC/32/L.29.
(10) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0405.
(11) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0371.
(12) http://www.europarl.europa.eu/document/activities/cont/201203/20120329ATT42170/20120329ATT42170EN.pdf
(13) A/HRC/32/20.
(14) http://www3.weforum.org/docs/GRR17_Report_web.pdf
(15) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0026.
(16) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0437.
(17) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0246.
(18) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0224.
(19) OJ C 208, 10.6.2016, p. 25.


The fight against cybercrime
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European Parliament resolution of 3 October 2017 on the fight against cybercrime (2017/2068(INI))
P8_TA(2017)0366A8-0272/2017

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to Articles 2, 3 and 6 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU),

–  having regard to Articles 16, 67, 70, 72, 73, 75, 82, 83, 84, 85, 87 and 88 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU),

–  having regard to Articles 1, 7, 8, 11, 16, 17, 21, 24, 41, 47, 48, 49, 50 and 52 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (CFR),

–  having regard to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child of 20 November 1989,

–  having regard to the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, of 25 May 2000,

–  having regard to the Stockholm Declaration and Agenda for Action, adopted at the 1st World Congress against the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children, to the Yokohama Global Commitment adopted at the 2nd World Congress against the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children, and to the Budapest Commitment and Plan of Action, adopted at the preparatory conference to the 2nd World Congress against the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children,

–  having regard to the Council of Europe Convention of 25 October 2007 on the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse,

–  having regard to its resolution of 20 November 2012 on protecting children in the digital world(1),

–  having regard to its resolution of 11 March 2015 on child sexual abuse online(2),

–  having regard to Council Framework Decision 2001/413/JAI of 28 May 2001 on combating fraud and counterfeiting of non-cash means of payment(3),

–  having regard to the Budapest Convention on Cybercrime of 23 November 2001(4) and the Additional Protocol thereto,

–  having regard to Regulation (EC) No 460/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 10 March 2004 establishing the European Network and Information Security Agency(5),

–  having regard to Council Directive 2008/114/EC of 8 December 2008 on the identification and designation of European critical infrastructures and the assessment of the need to improve their protection(6),

–  having regard to Directive 2002/58/EC of the European Parliament and the Council of 12 July 2002 concerning the processing of personal data and the protection of privacy in the electronic communications sector(7),

–  having regard to Directive 2011/93/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council 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(8),

–  having regard to the Joint Communication of 7 February 2013 to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions by the Commission and the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, entitled ‘Cybersecurity Strategy of the European Union: An Open, Safe and Secure Cyberspace’ (JOIN(2013)0001),

–  having regard to Directive 2013/40/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 August 2013 on attacks against information systems and replacing Council Framework Decision 2005/222/JHA(9),

–  having regard to Directive 2014/41/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 3 April 2014 regarding the European Investigation Order in criminal matters(10) (the EIO Directive),

–  having regard to the judgment of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) of 8 April 2014(11) invalidating the Data Retention Directive,

–  having regard to its resolution of 12 September 2013 on a Cybersecurity Strategy of the European Union: An Open, Safe and Secure Cyberspace(12),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 6 May 2015 entitled ‘A Digital Single Market Strategy for Europe’ (COM(2015)0192),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 28 April 2015 entitled ‘The European Agenda on Security’ (COM(2015)0185) and the subsequent follow‑up progress reports entitled ‘Towards an effective and genuine Security Union’,

–  having regard to the Report of the conference on jurisdiction in cyberspace held in Amsterdam on 7 and 8 March 2016,

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) 2016/679 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 27 April 2016 on the protection of natural persons with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data, and repealing Directive 95/46/EC (General Data Protection Regulation)(13),

–  having regard to Directive (EU) 2016/680 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 27 April 2016 on the protection of natural persons with regard to the processing of personal data by competent authorities for the purposes of the prevention, investigation, detection or prosecution of criminal offences or the execution of criminal penalties, and on the free movement of such data, and repealing Council Framework Decision 2008/977/JHA(14),

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) 2016/794 of the European Parliament and the Council of 11 May 2016 on the European Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation (Europol)(15),

–  having regard to the Commission decision of 5 July 2016 on the signing of a contractual arrangement on a public-private partnership for cybersecurity industrial research and innovation between the European Union, represented by the Commission, and the stakeholder organisation (C(2016)4400),

–  having regard to the Joint Communication of 6 April 2016 to the European Parliament and the Council by the Commission and the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy entitled ‘Joint framework on countering hybrid threats: a European Union response’ (JOIN(2016)0018),

–  having regard to the Commission Communication entitled ‘European Strategy for a Better Internet for Children’ (COM(2012)0196), and to the Commission report of 6 June 2016 entitled ‘Final evaluation of the multi-annual EU programme on protecting children using the Internet and other communication technologies (Safer Internet)’ (COM(2016)0364),

–  having regard to the Europol and ENISA Joint Statement of 20 May 2016 on lawful criminal investigation that respects 21st Century data protection,

–  having regard to the Council conclusions of 9 June 2016 on the European Judicial Cybercrime Network,

–  having regard to Directive (EU) 2016/1148 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 6 July 2016 concerning measures for a high common level of security of network and information systems across the Union(16),

–  having regard to the ENISA’s Opinion Paper of December 2016 on Encryption – Strong Encryption Safeguards our Digital Identity,

–  having regard to the final report of the T-CY Cloud Evidence Group of the Council of Europe entitled ‘Criminal justice access to electronic evidence in the cloud: Recommendations for consideration by the T-CY’ of 16 September 2016,

–  having regard to the work of the Joint Cyber Crime Action Taskforce (J-CAT),

–  having regard to the Europol Serious and Organised Crime Threat Assessment (EU SOCTA) of 28 February 2017 and the Internet Organised Crime Threat Assessment (IOCTA) of 28 September 2016,

–  having regard to the judgment of the CJEU in case C-203/15 (TELE2 judgment) of 21 December 2016(17),

–  having regard to Directive (EU) 2017/541 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 March 2017 on combating terrorism and replacing Council Framework Decision 2002/475/JHA and amending Council Decision 2005/671/JHA(18),

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs and the opinion of the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection (A8-0272/2017),

A.  whereas cybercrime is causing increasingly significant social and economic damage affecting the fundamental rights of individuals, posing threats to the rule of law in cyberspace and endangering the stability of democratic societies;

B.  whereas cybercrime is a growing problem in the Member States;

C.  whereas the 2016 IOCTA reveals that cybercrime is increasing in intensity, complexity and magnitude, that reported cybercrime exceeds traditional crime in some EU countries, that it extends to other areas of crime, such as human trafficking, that the use of encryption and anonymisation tools for criminal purposes is increasing and that ransomware attacks outnumber traditional malware threats such as trojans;

D.  whereas there was an increase of 20 % in the attacks on the Commission’s servers in 2016 compared to 2015;

E.  whereas the vulnerability of computers to attack has its origins in the unique way information technology has developed over the years, the speed at which business has grown online, and lack of government action;

F.  whereas there is an ever-growing black market in computerised extortion, the use of hired botnets and hacking, and stolen digital goods;

G.  whereas the key focus of cyber‑attacks continues to be malware, such as banking trojans, but attacks on industrial control systems and networks aimed at destroying critical infrastructure and economic structures as well as destabilising societies, as was the case of the ‘WannaCry’ ransomware attack of May 2017, are also growing in number and impact and thus pose an increasing threat to security, defence and other important sectors; whereas the majority of international law enforcement requests for data are related to fraud and financial crime, followed by violent and serious crime;

H.  whereas, while the constantly growing interconnectedness of people, places and things brings many benefits, it increases the risk of cybercrime; whereas devices connected to the Internet of Things (IoT), which include smart grids, connected fridges, cars, medical tools or aids, are often not as well protected as traditional internet devices and are thus an ideal target for cybercriminals, especially because the regime for security updates for connected devises is often patchy or lacking completely; whereas hacked IoT devices that have or can control physical actuators may represent a concrete threat to the lives of human beings;

I.  whereas an effective legal framework for data protection is critical for building confidence and trust in the online world, allowing consumers as well as businesses to fully reap the benefits of the digital single market and to address cybercrime;

J.  whereas companies alone cannot deal with the challenge of making the connected world more secure, and government should contribute to cyber security through regulation and the provision of incentives encouraging safer behaviour by users;

K.  whereas the lines between cybercrime, cyber espionage, cyber warfare, cyber sabotage and cyber terrorism are becoming increasingly blurred; whereas cybercrimes can target individuals, public or private entities and cover a wide range of offences, including privacy breaches, child sexual abuse online, public incitement to violence and hatred, sabotage, espionage, financial crime and fraud, such as payment fraud, theft and identity theft as well as illegal system interference;

L.  whereas the World Economic Forum’s Global Risks Report 2017 lists massive incident of data fraud and theft as one of the five major global risks in terms of likelihood;

M.  whereas a considerable number of cybercrimes remain unprosecuted and unpunished; whereas there is still significant underreporting, long detection periods allowing cybercriminals to develop multiple entries/exits or backdoors, difficult access to e‑evidence, problems in obtaining it and with its admissibility in court, as well as complex procedures and jurisdictional challenges related to the cross-border nature of cybercrimes;

N.  whereas the Council in its conclusions of June 2016 highlighted that, given the cross-border nature of cybercrime as well as the common cybersecurity threats faced by the EU, enhanced cooperation and information exchange between police and judicial authorities and cybercrime experts is essential for conducting effective investigations in cyberspace and obtaining electronic evidence;

O.  whereas the invalidation of the Data Retention Directive by the CJEU in its judgment of 8 April 2014 as well as the prohibition of general, indiscriminate and non-targeted data retention as confirmed by the ruling of the CJEU in its TELE2 judgment of 21 December 2016 impose stringent limitations on the processing of bulk telecommunications data as well as on the access of competent authorities to such data;

P.  whereas the Maximillian Schrems judgment of the CJEU(19) highlights that mass surveillance is a breach of fundamental rights;

Q.  whereas the fight against cybercrime must respect the same procedural and substantive guarantees and fundamental rights, namely regarding data protection and freedom of speech, just as the fight against any other area of crime;

R.  whereas children use the internet at an increasingly early age and are particularly vulnerable to falling victim to grooming and other forms of sexual exploitation online (cyber bullying, sexual abuse, sexual coercion and extortion), misappropriation of personal data as well as dangerous campaigns intended to promote various kinds of self-harm, as in the case of ‘blue whale’, and therefore require special protection; whereas online perpetrators can find and groom victims faster via chat rooms, emails, online games and social networking sites and hidden peer-to-peer (P2P) networks remain the central platforms for child sex offenders to access, communicate, store and share child sexual exploitation material and to track new victims without being detected;

S.  whereas the growing trend of sexual coercion and extortion is still not being sufficiently studied or reported, mostly owing to the nature of the crime, which causes the victims to feel shame and guilt;

T.  whereas live distant child abuse is being reported as a growing threat; whereas live distant child abuse has the most obvious links with the commercial distribution of child sexual exploitation materials;

U.  whereas a recent study by the National Crime Agency in the UK found that younger persons who engage in hacking activities are less motivated by money and often attack computer networks to impress friends or to challenge a political system;

V.  whereas awareness about the risks posed by cybercrime has increased, but precautionary measures taken by individual users, public institutions and businesses, remain wholly inadequate, primarily due to lack of knowledge and resources;

W.  whereas the fight against cybercrime and against illegal activities online should not obscure the positive aspects of a free and open cyberspace, offering new possibilities for the sharing of knowledge and the promotion of political and social inclusion worldwide;

General considerations

1.  Stresses that the sharp increase in ransomware, botnets and the unauthorised impairment of computer systems has an impact on the security of individuals, the availability and integrity of their personal data, as well as on the protection of privacy and fundamental freedoms and the integrity of critical infrastructure including, but not limited to, energy and electricity supply and financial structures such as the stock exchange; recalls, in this context, that the fight against cybercrime is a priority under the European Agenda on Security of 28 April 2015;

2.  Stresses the need to streamline common definitions of cybercrime, cyber warfare, cybersecurity, cyber harassment and cyberattacks to ensure that the EU institutions and EU Member States share a common legal definition;

3.  Underlines that the fight against cybercrime should be first and foremost about safeguarding and hardening critical infrastructures and other networked devices, and not only about pursuing repressive measures;

4.  Reiterates the importance of the legal measures taken at European level to harmonise the definition of offences linked to attacks against information systems as well as to sexual abuse and exploitation of children online and to oblige the Member States to set up a system for the recording, production and provision of statistical data on these offences, in order to fight against these kinds of crime more effectively;

5.  Strongly urges those Member States that have not yet done so to swiftly and properly transpose and implement Directive 2011/93/EU on combating the sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children and child pornography; calls on the Commission to strictly monitor and ensure its full and effective implementation, and to report back to Parliament and to the committee responsible on its findings in a timely manner, replacing at the same time Council Framework Decision 2004/68/JHA; stresses that Eurojust and Europol must be given appropriate resources to improve the identification of victims, to fight organised networks of sexual abusers and to accelerate the detection, analysis and referral of child abuse material both online and offline;

6.  Deplores the fact that 80 % of companies in Europe have experienced at least one cyber security incident and that cyber-attacks against businesses often remain undetected or unreported; recalls that various studies estimate the annual cost of cyber-attacks to be significant to the world economy; believes that the obligation to disclose security breaches and to share information on risks, introduced by Regulation (EU) 2016/679 on the protection of natural persons with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data (the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)) and Directive (EU) 2016/1148 concerning measures for a high common level of security of network and information systems across the Union (the Directive on security of network and information systems (NIS Directive)), will help to address this problem by providing support for businesses, especially SMEs;

7.  Stresses that the constantly changing nature of the cyber-threat landscape presents all stakeholders with serious legal and technological challenges; believes that new technologies should not be seen as a threat and acknowledges that technological advances on encryption will improve the overall security of our information systems, including by allowing end-users to better protect their data and communications; points out, however, that there are still notable gaps in securing communications and that techniques such as onion routing and hidden networks can be used by malicious users, including terrorists and child sex offenders, hackers sponsored by non-friendly foreign states or extremist political or religious organisations for criminal purposes, in particular to conceal their criminal activities or identities, causing serious challenges for investigations;

8.  Is highly concerned about the recent global ransomware attack, which appeared to affect tens of thousands of computers in nearly 100 countries and numerous organisations, including the National Health Service (NHS) in the UK, the highest-profile victim of this extensive malware hit; recognises, in this context, the important work of the No More Ransom (NMR) initiative which provides over 40 free decryption tools allowing victims of ransomware worldwide to decrypt their affected devices;

9.  Underlines that hidden networks and onion-routing also provide a free space for journalists, political campaigners and human rights defenders in certain countries to avoid detection by repressive state authorities;

10.  Notes that the recourse of criminal and terrorist networks to cybercrime tools and services is still limited; highlights, however, that this is likely to change in light of the growing links between terrorism and organised crime and the wide availability of firearms and explosive precursors on hidden networks;

11.  Strongly condemns any system interference undertaken or directed by a foreign nation or its agents to disrupt the democratic process of another country;

12.  Underlines that cross-border requests for domain seizures, content takedowns and access to user data pose serious challenges that require urgent action, as the stakes involved are high; stresses, in this context, that international human rights frameworks, which apply online as well as offline, represent a substantive benchmark at global level;

13.  Calls on the Member States to ensure that victims of cyber-attacks can fully benefit from all the rights enshrined in Directive 2012/29/EU, and to step up their efforts in relation to victim identification and victim-centred services, including through continued support for the Europol Task Force Victim ID; calls on the Member States in cooperation with Europol to set up related platforms as a matter of urgency with the aim of ensuring that all internet users know how to appeal for help when they are illegally targeted online; calls on the Commission to issue a study on to the implications of cross-border cybercrime on the basis of Directive 2012/29/EU;

14.  Underlines that Europol’s 2014 IOCTA refers to the need for more efficient and effective legal tools, taking into account the current limitations of the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) process, and also advocates further harmonisation of legislation across the EU where appropriate;

15.  Underlines that cybercrime severely undermines the functioning of the digital single market by reducing trust in digital service providers, undermining cross-border transactions and seriously harming the interests of consumers of digital services;

16.  Stresses that cybersecurity strategies and measures can only be sound and effective if they are based on fundamental rights and freedoms, as enshrined in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, and on the EU’s core values;

17.   Stresses that there is a legitimate and strong need to protect communications between individuals and between individuals and public and private organisations in order to prevent cybercrime; highlights that strong cryptography can help fulfil this need; stresses, furthermore, that limiting the use of or weakening the strength of cryptographic tools will create vulnerabilities that can be exploited for criminal purposes and lower trust in electronic services, which in turn will damage civil society and industry alike;

18.  Calls for an action plan to protect children’s rights online and offline in cyberspace, and recalls that in fighting cybercrime law enforcement authorities need to pay special attention to crimes against children; stresses, in this connection, the need to strengthen judicial and police cooperation among the Member States, and with Europol and its European Cybercrime Centre (EC3), with a view to preventing and combating cybercrime and in particular the online sexual exploitation of children;

19.  Urges the Commission and the Member States to put in place all juridical measures to fight against the phenomenon of online violence against women and cyberbullying; calls, in particular, for the EU and the Member States to combine forces in order to create a criminal offence framework that obliges online corporations to delete or stop the spreading of degrading, offensive and humiliating content; also asks to put in place psychological support for women victims of online violence and girls who have been cyberbullied;

20.  Stresses that illegal online content should be removed immediately by due legal process; highlights the role of information and communications technology, internet service providers and internet host providers in ensuring the fast and efficient removal of illegal online content at the request of the responsible law enforcement authority;

Prevention

21.  Calls on the Commission, in the context of the review of the European cybersecurity strategy, to continue identifying network and information security vulnerabilities of European critical infrastructure, to incentivise the development of resilient systems, and to assess the situation regarding the fight against cybercrime in the EU and the Member States, in order to achieve a better understanding of trends and developments in relation to offences in cyberspace;

22.  Stresses that cyber-resilience is key in preventing cybercrime and should therefore be given the highest priority; calls on Member States to adopt proactive policies and actions towards the defence of networks and critical infrastructure, calls for a comprehensive European approach to the fight against cybercrime that is compatible with fundamental rights, data protection, cybersecurity, consumer protection and e-commerce;

23.  Welcomes, in this regard, the investment of EU funds in research projects such as the Cybersecurity public-private partnership (Cybersecurity PPP), aimed at fostering European cyber-resilience through innovation and capacity-building; recognises particularly the efforts made by the Cybersecurity PPP to develop appropriate responses to handling zero-day vulnerabilities;

24.  Stresses, in this regard, the importance of free and open-source software; calls for more EU funds to be made available specifically for free and open-source software- based research into IT security;

25.  Notes with concern that there is a lack of qualified IT professionals working on cybersecurity; urges Member States to invest in education;

26.  Considers that regulation should play a greater role in managing cybersecurity risks through improved product and software standards on design and subsequent updates, as well as minimum standards on default usernames and passwords;

27.  Urges the Member States to step up information exchanges through Eurojust, Europol and ENISA, as well as best practice sharing through the European Network of CSIRT (Cyber Security Incident Response Teams) and CERTs (Computer Emergency Response Teams) on the challenges they face in the fight against cybercrime, as well as on concrete legal and technical solutions to address them and increase cyber-resilience; in this regard, calls on the Commission to promote effective cooperation and facilitate the exchange of information with a view to anticipating and managing potential risks, as provided for in the NIS Directive;

28.  Is concerned by the Europol finding that the majority of successful attacks on individuals are attributable to a lack of digital hygiene and user awareness, or to insufficient attention being paid to technical security measures such as security by design; underlines that users are the first victims of badly secured hardware and software;

29.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to launch an awareness campaign, involving all relevant actors and stakeholders, to empower children and support parents, caretakers and educators in understanding and handling online risks and protecting children’s safety online, to support Member States in setting up online sexual abuse prevention programmes, to promote awareness-raising campaigns on responsible behaviour in social media, and to encourage major search engines and social media networks to take a proactive approach to protecting child safety online;

30.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to launch awareness‑raising information and prevention campaigns and to promote good practices in order to ensure that citizens, in particular children and other vulnerable users, but also central and local governments, vital operators and private-sector actors, especially SMEs, are aware of the risks posed by cybercrime, know how to be safe online and know how to protect their devices; calls further on the Commission and Member States to promote practical security measures such as encryption or other security and privacy-enhancing technologies and anonymisation tools;

31.  Stresses that awareness-raising campaigns should be accompanied by educational programmes on the ‘informed use’ of information technology instruments; encourages Member States to include cybersecurity, as well as the risks and consequences of online personal data use, in schools’ computing education curricula; underlines in this context the efforts made in the framework of the European strategy for an internet better suited to children (Better Internet for Kids (BIK) Strategy 2012);

32.  Stresses the urgent need for the fight against cybercrime to include more efforts on education and training in network and information security (NIS), education and training, by introducing training on NIS, on secure software development and on personal data protection for computer science students, as well as basic NIS training for staff working in public administrations;

33.  Considers that insurance against cyber-hacking could be one of the tools spurring action on security, both by companies made liable for software design and by users prompted to use software properly;

34.  Stresses that businesses should identify vulnerabilities and risks through regular assessments, protect their products and services by fixing vulnerabilities immediately, including through patch management policies and data protection updates, mitigate the effect of ransomware attacks by setting up robust backup regimes, and consistently report cyber-attacks;

35.  Urges the Member States to set up CERTs to which businesses and consumers can report malicious emails and websites as foreseen by the NIS Directive, so that Member States are regularly informed of security incidents and measures to combat and mitigate the risk to their own systems; encourages Member States to consider establishing a database to record all types of cybercrime and to monitor the evolution of the relevant phenomena;

36.  Urges the Member States to invest in making their critical infrastructure and associated data more secure in order to withstand cyber-attacks;

Enhancing the responsibility and liability of service providers

37.  Considers enhanced cooperation between competent authorities and service providers to be a key factor in accelerating and streamlining mutual legal assistance and mutual recognition procedures. within the remits provided for by the European legal framework; calls on providers of electronic communications services not established in the Union to designate in writing representatives in the Union;

38.  Reiterates that with respect to the Internet of Things (IoT), producers are the key starting-point for tightening up liability regimes which will lead to a better quality of products and a more secure environment in terms of external access and a documented update facility;

39.  Believes that in view of innovation trends and the growing accessibility of IoT devices, particular attention must be paid to the security of all and even the simplest of devices; considers that it is in the interest of hardware producers and developers of innovative software to invest in solutions to prevent cybercrime and to exchange information on cybersecurity threats; urges the Commission and the Member States to promote the security by design approach, and urges the industry to include security by design solutions in all such devices; in this context, encourages the private sector to implement voluntary measures developed on the basis of relevant EU legislation such as the NIS Directive and aligned with internationally recognised standards in order to bolster trust in the security of software and devices, such as the IoT trust label;

40.  Encourages service providers to subscribe to the Code of Conduct on Countering Illegal Hate Speech Online, and calls on the Commission and participating companies to continue cooperation on this issue;

41.  Recalls that Directive 2000/31/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 8 June 2000 on certain legal aspects of information society services, in particular electronic commerce, in the Internal Market(20) (the e-Commerce Directive) exempts intermediaries from liability for content only if they play a neutral and passive role in relation to the transmitted and/or hosted content, but also requires an expeditious reaction to remove or disable access to content when an intermediary has actual knowledge of infringement or illegal activity or information;

42.  Underlines the absolute need to protect law enforcement databases from security incidents and unlawful access, since this is a matter of concern for individuals; expresses concern regarding extraterritorial reach by law enforcement authorities in accessing data in the context of criminal investigations, and underlines the need to implement strong rules on the matter;

43.  Believes that issues related to illegal on-line activity must be tackled in an expeditious and efficient manner, including through takedown procedures if the content is not or no longer needed for detection, investigation and prosecution; reminds that Member States may, when removal is not feasible, take necessary and proportionate measures to block access from Union territory to such content; stresses that such measures must comply with existing legislative and judicial procedures, as well as with the Charter, and must also be subject to adequate safeguards, including the possibility of judicial redress;

44.  Highlights the role of digital information society service providers in ensuring the fast and efficient removal of illegal online content at the request of the responsible law enforcement authority, and welcomes the progress achieved in this regard, including through the contribution of the EU Internet Forum; stresses the need for stronger commitment and cooperation on the part of competent authorities and information society service providers to achieve quick and effective takedowns by the industry and avoid blocking illegal content through government measures; calls on the Member States to hold non-compliant platforms legally responsible; reiterates that any measures for removing illegal online content which stipulate terms and conditions should only be permitted if national procedural rules provide users with the option of asserting their rights before a court after learning of such measures;

45.  Highlights that, in line with Parliament’s resolution of 19 January 2016, ‘Toward a Digital Single Market Act’(21), the limited liability of intermediaries is essential to the protection of the openness of the internet, fundamental rights, legal certainty and innovation; welcomes the Commission’s intention to provide guidance on notice-and-takedown procedures, to assist online platforms in complying with their responsibilities and the rules on liability defined by the e-commerce Directive (2000/31/EC), to enhance legal certainty, and to increase user confidence; urges the Commission to come forward with a legislative proposal on the matter;

46.  Calls for the application of the ‘follow the money’ approach, as outlined in Parliament’s resolution of 9 June 2015 entitled ‘Towards a renewed consensus on the enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights: An EU Action Plan’(22), based on the regulatory framework of the e-Commerce directive and the IPRED directive;

47.  Underlines the crucial importance of providing continued and specific training and psychological support to content moderators in private and public entities that are responsible for assessing objectionable or illegal content online, as they should be considered the first responders in this field;

48.  Calls on service providers to make provision for clear types of referrals and to set up a properly defined back-office infrastructure which makes it possible to act quickly and appropriately on referrals;

49.  Calls on service providers to step up their efforts to raise awareness of the risks inherent in going online, in particular for children, by developing interactive tools and information materials;

Strengthening police and judicial cooperation

50.  Is concerned that a considerable number of cybercrimes remain unpunished; deplores the fact that the use by internet service providers of technologies such as NAT CGN seriously hampers investigations by making it technically impossible to identify who exactly is using an IP address and thus who is responsible for online crimes; emphasises the need to allow law enforcement authorities to have lawful access to relevant information, in the limited circumstances where such access is necessary and proportionate for reasons of security and justice; stresses that judicial and law enforcement authorities have to be provided with sufficient capabilities to conduct legitimate investigations;

51.  Urges the Member States not to impose any obligation on encryption providers that would result in the weakening or compromising of the security of their networks or services, such as the creation or facilitation of ‘back doors’; stresses that feasible solutions must be offered, via both legislation and continuous technological evolution, where finding them is imperative for justice and security; calls on the Member States to cooperate, in consultation with the judiciary and Eurojust, in aligning the conditions for the lawful use of investigative tools online;

52.  Stresses that lawful interception can be a highly effective measure to combat unlawful hacking, on condition that it is necessary, proportionate, based on due legal process and in full compliance with fundamental rights and EU data protection law and case law; calls on all Member States to make use of the possibilities of lawful interception targeting suspected individuals, to establish clear rules regarding the prior judicial authorisation process for lawful interception activities, including restrictions on the use and duration of lawful hacking tools, to set up an oversight mechanism, and to provide effective legal remedies for the targets of hacking activities;

53.  Encourages the Member States to engage with the ICT security community and to encourage it to take a more active role in ‘white hat’ hacking and the reporting of illegal content, such as child sex abuse material;

54.  Encourages Europol to establish an anonymous system for reporting from within hidden networks, which will allow individuals to report illegal content, such as depictions of child sex abuse material, to the authorities, using technical safeguards similar to those implemented by numerous press organisations which use such systems to facilitate the exchange of sensitive data with journalists in a way that permits a greater degree of anonymity and security than is afforded by conventional email;

55.  Stresses the need to minimise the risks posed to the privacy of internet users by leaks of exploits or tools used by law enforcement authorities as part of their legitimate investigations;

56.  Emphasises that judicial and law enforcement authorities have to be equipped with sufficient capabilities and funding to allow them to respond effectively to cybercrime;

57.  Underlines that the patchwork of separate, territorially defined national jurisdictions causes difficulties in determining the applicable law in transnational interactions and gives rise to legal uncertainty, thereby preventing cooperation across borders, which is necessary to deal efficiently with cybercrime;

58.  Emphasises the need to develop the practical basis for a common EU approach to the issue of jurisdiction in cyberspace, as pointed out at the informal meeting of justice and home affairs ministers held on 26 January 2016;

59.  Stresses, in this regard, the need to develop shared procedural standards which can determine the territorial factors that provide grounds for the applicable law in cyberspace, and to define investigative measures which can be used regardless of geographic borders;

60.  Recognises that such a common European approach, which needs to respect fundamental rights and privacy, will build trust among stakeholders, reduce the treatment delays of cross-border requests, establish interoperability among heterogeneous actors, and provide the opportunity to incorporate due process requirements in operational frameworks;

61.  Believes that, in the long term, shared procedural standards on enforcement jurisdiction in cyberspace should also be developed at global level; welcomes, in this regard, the work of the Cloud Evidence Group of the Council of Europe;

e-Evidence

62.  Underlines that a common European approach to criminal justice in cyberspace is a matter of priority, as it will improve the enforcement of the rule of law in cyberspace and facilitate the obtaining of e-evidence in criminal proceedings, as well as contributing to making the settlement of cases much speedier than today;

63.  Underlines the need to find means to secure and obtain e-evidence more rapidly, as well as the importance of close cooperation between law enforcement authorities, including through the increased use of joint investigation teams, third countries and service providers active on European territory, in accordance with the GDPR ((EU) 2016/679), Directive (EU) 2016/680 (the Police Directive) and existing mutual egal assistance (MLA) agreements; stresses the need to set up single contact points within all Member States and to optimise the use of existing contact points, as this will facilitate access to e-evidence as well as information-sharing, improve cooperation with service providers, and accelerate MLA proceedings;

64.  Recognises that the currently fragmented legal framework can create challenges for service providers seeking to comply with law enforcement requests; calls on the Commission to put forward a European legal framework for e-evidence, including harmonised rules to determine the status of a provider as domestic or foreign, and to impose an obligation on service providers to respond to requests from other Member States that are based on due legal process and in line with the European Investigation Order (EIO), while taking account of the principle of proportionality to avoid adverse effects on the exercise of the freedom of establishment and the freedom to provide services and ensuring adequate safeguards, with a view to establishing legal certainty as well as improving the ability of service providers and intermediaries to respond to law enforcement requests;

65.  Stresses the need for any e-evidence framework to include sufficient safeguards for the rights and freedoms of all concerned; highlights that this should include a requirement that requests for e-evidence be directed in the first instance to the controllers or owners of the data, in order to ensure respect for their rights, as well as the rights of those to whom the data relates (for example their entitlement to assert legal privilege and to seek legal redress in the case of disproportionate or otherwise unlawful access); also highlights the need to ensure that any legal framework protects providers and all other parties from requests that could create conflicts of law or otherwise impinge on the sovereignty of other states;

66.  Calls on the Member States to implement fully Directive 2014/41/EU regarding the European Investigation Order in criminal matters (the EIO Directive) for the purposes of the effective securing and obtaining of e-evidence in the EU, as well as to include specific provisions relating to cyberspace in their national penal codes, in order to facilitate the admissibility of e‑evidence in court and allow judges to be issued clearer guidance regarding the penalisation of cybercrime;

67.  Welcomes the ongoing work of the Commission towards a cooperation platform with a secure communication channel for digital exchanges of EIOs for e‑evidence and replies between EU judicial authorities; invites the Commission, in association with Member States, Eurojust and service providers, to examine and align the forms, tools and procedures for requesting the securing and obtainment of e‑evidence with a view to facilitating authentication, ensuring swift procedures and increasing the transparency and accountability of the process of securing and obtaining e-evidence; calls on the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Training (CEPOL) to develop training modules on the effective use of current frameworks used to secure and obtain electronic evidence; stresses, in this context, that streamlining service providers’ policies will help reduce the heterogeneity of approaches, notably regarding procedures and conditions for granting access to the requested data;

Capacity-building at European level

68.  Points out that recent incidents have clearly demonstrated the acute vulnerability of the EU, and in particular the EU institutions, national governments and parliaments, major European companies, European IT infrastructures and networks, to sophisticated attacks using complex software and malware; calls on the European Union Agency for Network and Information Security (ENISA) to continuously evaluate the threat level, and on the Commission to invest in the IT capacity as well as the defence and resilience of the critical infrastructure of the EU institutions in order to reduce the EU’s vulnerability to serious cyberattacks originating from large criminal organisations, state-sponsored attacks or terrorist groups;

69.  Recognises the important contribution of the European Cybercrime Centre (EC3) of Europol and Eurojust, as well as of ENISA, to the fight against cybercrime;

70.  Calls on Europol to support national law enforcement authorities in setting up secure and adequate transmission channels;

71.  Deplores the fact that currently no EU standards for training and certification exist; acknowledges that future trends in cybercrime require an increasing level of expertise from practitioners; welcomes the fact that existing initiatives such as the European Cybercrime Training and Education Group (ECTEG), the Training of Trainers (TOT) Project and the training activities under the EU Policy Cycle framework are already paving the way towards addressing the expertise gap at EU level;

72.  Calls on CEPOL and the European Judicial Training Network to extend their offer of training courses dedicated to cybercrime-related topics to competent law enforcement bodies and judicial authorities across the Union;

73.  Underlines that the number of cybercrime offences referred to Eurojust has increased by 30 %; calls for sufficient funding to be allocated, with more posts created if necessary, to enable Eurojust to cope with its increasing cybercrime-related workload, as well as to develop and strengthen further its support for national cybercrime prosecutors in cross-border cases, including via the recently established European Judicial Cybercrime Network;

74.  Asks for a revision of ENISA’s mandate and the reinforcement of the national cybersecurity agencies; calls for ENISA to be reinforced in terms of its tasks, staff and resources; stresses that the new mandate should also include stronger links with Europol and industry stakeholders, to allow the agency to better support the competent authorities in the fight against cybercrime;

75.  Asks the Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) to draw up a practical and detailed handbook providing guidelines regarding supervisory and scrutiny controls for Member States;

Improved cooperation with third countries

76.  Highlights the importance of close cooperation with third countries in the global fight against cybercrime, including through the exchange of best practices, joint investigations, capacity-building and mutual legal assistance;

77.  Calls on the Member States that have not yet done so to ratify and fully implement the Council of Europe Convention on Cybercrime of 23 November 2001 (the Budapest Convention), as well as its additional protocols, and, in cooperation with the Commission, to promote it in the appropriate international fora;

78.  Stresses its serious concern regarding the work being done within the Council of Europe’s Cybercrime Convention Committee on the interpretation of Article 32 of the Budapest Convention on transborder access to stored computer data (‘cloud evidence’), and opposes any conclusion of an additional protocol or guidance intended to broaden the scope of this provision beyond the current regime established by this Convention, which is already a major exception to the principle of territoriality because it could result in unfettered remote access for law enforcement authorities to servers and computers located in other jurisdictions without recourse to MLAs or other instruments of judicial cooperation put in place to guarantee the fundamental rights of the individual, including data protection and due process, including in particular Council of Europe Convention 108;

79.  Regrets the fact that there is no binding international law on cybercrime, and urges the Member States and the European institutions to work towards establishing a convention on the matter;

80.  Calls on the Commission to propose options for initiatives to improve the efficiency and promote the use of Mutual Legal Assistance Treaties (MLATs) in order to counter the assumption of extraterritorial jurisdiction by third countries;

81.  Calls on the Member States to ensure sufficient capacity for handling MLA requests related to investigations in cyberspace, and to develop relevant training programmes for the staff responsible for handling such requests;

82.  Underlines that strategic and operational cooperation agreements between Europol and third countries facilitate both the exchange of information and practical cooperation;

83.  Takes note of the fact that the highest number of law enforcement requests are sent to the US and Canada; is concerned that the disclosure rate of big US service providers in response to requests from European criminal justice authorities falls short of 60 %, and recalls that according to Chapter V of the GDPR, MLATs and other international agreements are the preferred mechanism to enable access to personal data held overseas;

84.  Calls on the Commission to put forward concrete measures to protect the fundamental rights of the suspected or accused person when exchange of information between European law enforcement authorities and third countries takes place, notably safeguards as regards the quick obtaining, upon a court decision, of relevant evidence, subscriber‑related information or detailed metadata and content data (if not encrypted) from law-enforcement authorities and/or service providers, with a view to improving mutual legal assistance;

85.  Calls on the Commission, in cooperation with Member States, the associated European bodies and, where necessary, third countries, to consider new ways to efficiently secure and obtain e-evidence hosted in third countries, in full compliance with fundamental rights and EU data protection law, by accelerating and streamlining the use of MLA proceedings, and where applicable, mutual recognition;

86.  Highlights the importance of the NATO Cyber Incidents Response Centre;

87.  Calls on all Member States to participate in the Global Forum on Cyber Expertise (GFCE) in order to facilitate the establishment of partnerships to build capacity;

88.  Supports the capacity-building assistance provided by the EU to the Eastern Neighbourhood countries, given that many cyberattacks originate in those countries;

o
o   o

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

(1) OJ C 419, 16.12.2015, p. 33.
(2) OJ C 316, 30.8.2016, p. 109.
(3) OJ L 149, 2.6.2001, p. 1.
(4) Council of Europe, European Treaty Series, No 185, 23.11.2001.
(5) OJ L 77, 13.3.2004, p. 1.
(6) OJ L 345, 23.12.2008, p. 75.
(7) OJ L 201, 31.7.2002, p. 37.
(8) OJ L 335, 17.12.2011, p. 1.
(9) OJ L 218, 14.8.2013, p. 8.
(10) OJ L 130, 1.5.2014, p. 1.
(11) ECLI:EU:C:2014:238.
(12) OJ C 93, 9.3.2016, p. 112.
(13) OJ L 119, 4.5.2016, p. 1.
(14) OJ L 119, 4.5.2016, p. 89.
(15) OJ L 135, 24.5.2016, p. 53
(16) OJ L 194, 19.7.2016, p. 1.
(17) Judgment of the Court of Justice of 21 December 2016, Tele2 Sverige AB v Post- och telestyrelsen and Secretary of State for the Home Department v Tom Watson and Others, C‑203/15, ECLI:EU:C:2016:970.
(18) OJ L 88, 31.3.2017, p. 6.
(19) ECLI:EU:C:2015:650.
(20) OJ L 178, 17.7.2000, p. 1.
(21) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0009.
(22) OJ C 407, 4.11.2016, p. 25.


EU political relations with ASEAN
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European Parliament resolution of 3 October 2017 on EU political relations with ASEAN (2017/2026(INI))
P8_TA(2017)0367A8-0243/2017

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the founding of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on 8 August 1967,

–  having regard to the main legal framework for EU-ASEAN relations, namely the ASEAN-EEC Cooperation Agreement, signed in March 1980(1),

–  having regard to the ASEAN Charter, signed in November 2007, establishing legal personality and a legal and institutional framework for ASEAN, including the creation of the Committee of Permanent Representatives (CPR) to support and coordinate the work of ASEAN,

–  having regard to the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), established in 1993 to foster dialogue and consultation on political and security issues and to contribute to confidence-building and preventive diplomacy in the Asia-Pacific region,

–  having regard to the various ASEAN frameworks for regional trust-building: the ARF, the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting (ADMM-Plus), the East Asia Summit (EAS), ASEAN Plus Three (ASEAN plus China, Japan and South Korea) and ASEAN Plus Six (ASEAN plus China, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand),

–  having regard to the trade agreements existing between ASEAN and Japan, China, South Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand,

–  having regard to the ongoing negotiations and/or the conclusion of seven Partnership and Cooperation Agreements between the European Union and certain ASEAN member states, namely Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam,

–  having regard to the negotiations for Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) under way with Indonesia and the Philippines, to the negotiations for FTAs with Malaysia and Thailand, both of which are currently on hold, to the expected conclusion of FTAs with Singapore and Vietnam in the coming months, and to the negotiations for an investment agreement with Myanmar;

–  having regard to the meeting between the Commissioner for trade, Cecilia Malmström, and the ASEAN finance ministers held in Manila on 10 March 2017,

–  having regard to the 9th Asia-Europe Parliamentary Partnership Meeting (ASEP9), held in Ulaanbaatar (Mongolia) on 21 and 22 April 2016,

–  having regard to the Nuremberg Declaration on an EU-ASEAN Enhanced Partnership of March 2007 and its Plan of Action of November 2007,

–  having regard to the Bandar Seri Begawan Plan of Action to Strengthen the ASEAN-EU Enhanced Partnership (2013-2017), adopted in Brunei Darussalam on 27 April 2012,

–  having regard to the Joint Communication by the Commission and the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy to the European Parliament and the Council of 18 May 2015, entitled ‘The EU and ASEAN: a partnership with a strategic purpose’ (JOIN(2015)0022),

–  having regard to the Foreign Affairs Council conclusions on EU-ASEAN relations of 22 June 2015,

–  having regard to the Bangkok Declaration on Promoting an ASEAN-EU Global Partnership for Shared Strategic Goals of 14 October 2016,

–  having regard to the accession of the European Union to the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia (TAC) in Phnom Penh on 12 July 2012(2),

–  having regard to the 11th Summit of the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM11) held in Ulaanbaatar (Mongolia) on 15 and 16 July 2016,

–  having regard to the Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF), established in February 1997 to provide a forum for non-governmental dialogue,

–  having regard to the ASEAN-EU Programme of Regional Integration Support (APRIS), the ASEAN Regional Integration Support Programme (ARISE), and the Regional EU-ASEAN Dialogue Instrument (READI) in support of the harmonisation of policies and regulations in non-trade-related sectors,

–  having regard to the ASEAN Economic Community Blueprint agreed in 2007,

–  having regard to the 14th ASEAN summit held in 2009 and to the establishment of a roadmap for creating the ASEAN single market (ASEAN Economic Community (AEC)), the ASEAN Political-Security Community (APSC) and the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community (ASCC),

–  having regard to the 28th and 29th ASEAN Summits held in Vientiane (Laos) on 6 and 7 September 2016 and to the 30th ASEAN Summit held in Manila (Philippines) from 26 to 29 April 2017,

–  having regard to the 24th meeting of the ASEAN-EU Joint Cooperation Committee (JCC), held on 2 March 2017 in Jakarta (Indonesia),

–  having regard to the ASEAN Community Vision 2025, adopted at the 27th ASEAN Summit held in Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) from 18 to 22 November 2015, and to the announcement of the establishment, on 31 December 2015, of the ASEAN Economic Community, aiming to create an internal market for over 600 million people,

–  having regard to the 11th East Asia Summit (EAS) held in Vientiane (Laos) on 8 September 2016, bringing together the leaders of 18 countries – the ASEAN member states, China, Japan and South Korea (ASEAN+3), India, Australia and New Zealand (ASEAN+6), and Russia and the US,

–  having regard to the first ASEAN Human Rights Declaration of 18 November 2012 and to the establishment of the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) in 2009,

–  having regard to ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR), a body founded in 2013 with the objective of promoting democracy and human rights in all ASEAN member states,

–  having regard to the ASEAN Institute for Peace and Reconciliation (AIPR),

–  having regard to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which have been ratified by all ASEAN member states,

–  having regard to the ‘Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights: Implementing the United Nations “Protect, Respect and Remedy” Framework’, adopted by the UN Human Rights Council on 16 June 2011,

–  having regard to the ASEAN Convention Against Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, signed by all ASEAN member states in November 2015,

–  having regard to the UN Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Reviews (UPRs), in which all ASEAN member states have participated,

–  having regard to its recent resolutions on ASEAN, in particular that of 15 January 2014 on the future of EU-ASEAN relations(3),

–  having regard to its recent resolutions on ASEAN member states, in particular those of 9 June 2016 on Vietnam(4), of 17 December 2015 on the EU-Vietnam Framework Agreement on Comprehensive Partnership and Cooperation (resolution)(5), of 17 December 2015 on the EU-Vietnam Framework Agreement on Comprehensive Partnership and Cooperation (consent)(6), of 8 June 2016 on the EU-Philippines Framework Agreement on Partnership and Cooperation (consent)(7), and of 8 June 2016 on the EU-Philippines Framework Agreement on Partnership and Cooperation (resolution)(8),

–  having regard to its recent human rights urgency resolutions on ASEAN member states, in particular those of 14 September 2017 on Myanmar, in particular the situation of Rohingyas(9), of 21 May 2015 on the plight of Rohingya refugees, including the mass graves in Thailand(10), of 15 December 2016 on the situation of the Rohingya minority in Myanmar(11), of 7 July 2016 on Myanmar, in particular the situation of the Rohingya(12), of 14 September 2017 on Cambodia, notably the case of Kem Sokha(13), of 9 June 2016 on Cambodia(14), of 26 November 2015 on the political situation in Cambodia(15), of 9 July 2015 on Cambodia’s draft laws on NGOs and trade unions(16), of 6 October 2016 on Thailand, notably the situation of Andy Hall(17), of 8 October 2015 on the situation in Thailand(18), of 17 December 2015 on Malaysia(19), of 19 January 2017 on Indonesia(20), of 15 June 2017 on Indonesia(21), of 15 September 2016(22) and 16 March 2017(23) on the Philippines, and of 14 September 2017 on Laos, notably the cases of Somphone Phimmasone, Lod Thammavong and Soukane Chaithad(24),

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Foreign Affairs (A8-0243/2017),

A.  whereas this year we celebrate the 50th anniversary of ASEAN, the 60th anniversary of the Treaties of Rome, and the 40th anniversary of EU-ASEAN formal relations;

B.  whereas the ASEAN region has emerged as one of the world’s most dynamic and fastest-growing, particularly in terms of the economy, technology and research, has a geopolitically and geo-economically strategic position, has rich resources, is pursuing a goal of increased economic integration and an ambitious Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) agenda, notably on education, and is a strong advocate of multilateralism; whereas closing the development gap within ASEAN will be vital in pursuing further integration and ensuring security, stability and the protection of social, economic and political rights;

C.  whereas the integration processes of the EU and ASEAN are different, arising from different contexts and having different visions and missions; whereas each follows its own logic but the two are comparable, as both rules-based organisations have been fostering peaceful coexistence, regional integration, and international cooperation and development, and have aimed at building trust among their members for many decades; as such, the EU is a unique type of partner for ASEAN;

D.  whereas the two regions have attained a considerable level of interaction, and EU-ASEAN relations are comprehensive and cover a wide range of sectors including trade and investment, development, economic matters and political affairs; whereas ASEAN is the EU’s third trading partner and the EU ASEAN’s second, with annual bilateral trade in goods worth more than EUR 200 billion, and the EU is the first provider of foreign direct investment (FDI) in the ASEAN region; whereas for European undertakings ASEAN represents a gateway to the wider region; whereas over the period 2014 to 2020 the EU and its Member States are the first provider of development assistance in the region and the EU has pledged over EUR 3 billion to reduce poverty and address development gaps in low-income ASEAN countries;

E.  whereas the EU experience has in the past served as a source of inspiration for other regional integration processes;

F.  whereas the EU has consistently supported the work of ASEAN and in particular the ASEAN Secretariat, and has, in recognition of ASEAN’s importance, appointed a dedicated EU Head of Delegation to ASEAN who took office in 2015;

G.  whereas at present the integration processes in both regions are being challenged but are at the same time opening up new opportunities; whereas the EU is facing several crises; whereas ASEAN, in spite of the goal of fostering ASEAN centrality, saw intra-ASEAN trade decline in 2016 and has been beset with problems, including diverging foreign policy orientations and spillover effects from domestic problems relating to threats to democracy and the rule of law, inter-religious relations, ethnic minorities, social inequalities and human rights violations, including with crossborder implications;

H.  whereas the EU has determined that it will place human rights at the centre of its relations with third countries;

I.  whereas in December 2014 the EU granted GSP+ status to the Philippines, as the first ASEAN country to enjoy such trade preferences; whereas this enables the Philippines to export 66 % of its products tariff-free to the EU;

J.  whereas the withdrawal of the US from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) may give new impetus to negotiations for a Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP); whereas a more assertive China is launching initiatives such as ‘One Belt, One Road’ that challenge all countries in the neighbourhood and beyond;

K.  whereas tensions in the South China Sea (SCS) constitute a threat and a risk to security and stability in the region; whereas the most worrying trend is the militarisation of the SCS; whereas the ASEAN-China Dialogue on a Code of Conduct remains ASEAN’s primary mechanism for exchanges with China on the SCS; whereas Chinese activities – from military patrols and drills to construction activities, in disregard of the principles outlined in the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea of 2002 – remain an issue of concern;

1.  Congratulates the ASEAN member states on the 50th anniversary of ASEAN, and fully supports all efforts for regional integration; expresses equally its appreciation for 40 years of EU-ASEAN relations, and reiterates its recommendation that relations should be upgraded into a Strategic Partnership based on concrete actions, tangible deliverables and stronger substantive cooperation; underlines the EU’s interest in enhancing its cooperation with this pivotal player in a region of strategic importance; stresses that the strategic partnership will provide an opportunity for the EU to reinforce its contribution to the implementation of shared objectives in the Indo-Pacific sphere;

2.  Highlights the political value of strong trade and investment relations between ASEAN and the EU, and exhorts both partners to further strengthen their economic and political relations; stresses that there is significant potential for EU-ASEAN trade relations to grow; highlights that the EU is the top foreign investor in ASEAN; also highlights the opportunities for cooperation in implementing the SDGs; calls for stepping up cooperation to close the development gap that exists within ASEAN; believes that cooperation could be strengthened and good practices shared in various areas, such as addressing global challenges, including climate change, transnational organised crime and terrorism, border management, maritime security, financial sector development, transparency and macroeconomic policies; emphasises the pursuit of a high level of EU-ASEAN cooperation in multilateral institutions such as the UN, but also the WTO, with reference to preserving, strengthening and further developing the multilateral international trade architecture and fair trading relationships;

3.  Commends the VP/HR and the Commission for adopting a Joint Communication, endorsed by the Member States, setting out a roadmap for deepening the partnership in political, security and economic matters, as well as in connectivity, the environment, natural resources and other domains, such as the promotion and protection of human rights; stresses the importance of strengthening political dialogue between the EU and ASEAN; recalls that the EU’s active support for deepening ASEAN integration contributes to its resilience and to the stability of the region; stresses that the EU provides technical assistance and capacity-building in creating an internal market;

4.  Welcomes the appointment of an EU Head of Delegation to ASEAN and the opening of an EU mission to ASEAN in 2015, in a development which recognises the importance of the relationship between the EU and ASEAN;

5.  Notes that, as the UK has over the years played an important and valuable role in fostering EU-ASEAN bonds, there will be a need and an opportunity for ASEAN and the EU and its Member States to actively reinforce relations in the light of the new reality of Brexit; calls on the UK to continue to cooperate closely with the EU-ASEAN partnership; calls for stepped-up EU engagement with the existing ASEAN-led fora; considers that the EU should upgrade and intensify its diplomatic efforts with ASEAN in order to contribute to greater stability and security in conflict areas with renewed tensions, working closely with partners in the region and upholding international law;

6.  Regrets the late and reserved reaction of the EU to the UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea) award in the South China Sea dispute, and calls for the EU to promote respect and compliance with the provisions of UNCLOS; reiterates that the EU supports peaceful negotiated solutions to international disputes; insists on freedom of navigation; calls on China to accept the tribunal’s award; encourages the parties to aim for a peaceful settlement of the disputes, based on the principles of international law under UNCLOS; supports the efforts of ASEAN member states to work towards the early conclusion of an effective Code of Conduct (COC) in the South China Sea;

7.  Regrets actions such as extensive land reclamation and the placing of military installations and arsenal on reclaimed land, which risks militarising the conflict; expresses serious concern over the increasing defence spending in the region and its neighbourhood and the growing militarisation of conflicts, notably in the South and East China Seas; notes the need for the EU to continue supporting the development of peaceful relations between China and its neighbours around the South China Sea through inclusive multilateral mechanisms; supports all actions enabling the South China Sea to become a ‘Sea of Peace and Cooperation’; calls on the Member States to strictly abide by the EU Code of Conduct on Arms Exports; insists on the importance of the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, notably in view of the latest developments in the DPRK;

8.  Supports the EU-ASEAN security partnership and the sharing of experiences and best practice on a host of mostly non-conventional security issues, with a view to stepping up regional capabilities, with particular regard to strengthened dialogue and cooperation on maritime security, piracy, the fight against organised crime and support for cooperation between Europol and the Inter-ASEAN Police (Aseanapol), counter-terrorism, cybersecurity, climate security, confidence-building measures, preventive diplomacy and mediation, crisis management, disaster preparedness and relief and humanitarian assistance; supports greater contribution and involvement on the part of the EU in the ARF;

9.  Welcomes the holding of the 3rd ASEAN-EU High Level Dialogue on Maritime Security Cooperation in Thailand on 15 and 16 September 2016, which identified and proposed future areas of concrete cooperation between ASEAN and the EU in the domain of maritime security and preventive diplomacy; looks forward to the convening of the 4th ASEAN-EU High Level Dialogue on Maritime Security Cooperation, to be held in 2017 in the Philippines;

10.  Reiterates the EU’s support for ASEAN centrality and for its important role in promoting dialogue and cooperation for peace, security, stability and prosperity, in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond; calls for the creation of operational and efficient dispute settlement mechanisms as provided for in Chapter 8 of the ASEAN Charter and in a 2010 Protocol to the Charter, including legally binding measures and regulations; draws attention to the experience which has been gained over 40 years on the continent of Europe with an approach to security which, in addition to a political and military dimension, also embraces the economic, environmental and human dimensions; is convinced that this experience can be exploited in ASEAN´s efforts for the peaceful development of its region; underscores the interest of the EU in furthering engagement with the region through all ASEAN-led processes;

11.  Underlines the EU’s particular experience in institution-building, the single market, regulatory convergence, conflict and crisis management, maritime security, mediation, and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, as well as its recent progress on defence integration and its successful experience with regional norm-setting and strong regional architecture for human rights and democracy, together with its willingness to share such experience where useful; highlights the negotiations for an EU-ASEAN Comprehensive Air Transport Agreement (CATA) and the broader connectivity agenda; notes that for the period 2014-2020 half of the EU’s financial assistance to ASEAN is devoted to supporting ASEAN’s connectivity;

12.  Highlights the need to engage at the multilateral level with other jurisdictions in the region, such as ASEAN observers Papua New Guinea and Timor Leste, as well as China, Japan and Taiwan;

13.  Believes that from a geopolitical point of view there is a very good reason to advocate the relaunching of negotiations for a regional EU-ASEAN free trade agreement, and welcomes the conclusions of the recent meeting between the EU’s Commissioner for trade, Cecilia Malmström, and the ASEAN Economic Ministers concerning a scoping exercise in that regard, as well as the steps taken in pursuit of the final objective of a region-to-region agreement; encourages from a strategic point of view any efforts to explore the options for concluding free trade agreements with all ASEAN countries; recalls that ASEAN represents the EU’s third largest trading partner outside Europe, and that the EU is ASEAN’s second largest trading partner;

14.  Stresses that national and foreign enterprises operating in ASEAN countries must act in accordance with the principles of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR); urges the ASEAN countries to make sure that social, environmental and labour rights are fully respected; calls for the full and effective implementation of the ILO conventions and for respect of core labour standards; calls on ASEAN and its member states to effectively implement the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, to promote appropriate employment protection and decent working conditions, and to establish an environment that is more conducive to the development of trade unions; calls on the Commission and the EEAS to use all available instruments to enhance compliance with the above; highlights, furthermore, the need to ensure the elimination of all forms of forced or compulsory labour and of child labour;

15.  Calls on European companies investing in the ASEAN region to live up to their corporate social responsibilities and to respect European standards concerning consumer, labour and environmental rights, as well as to uphold the rights of the indigenous populations;

16.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to facilitate an institutionalised social dialogue between the Asia-Europe People’s Forum (AEPF) and corresponding civil society structures in the EU;

17.  Notes that ASEAN has declared itself to be people-oriented and people-centred and that the legitimacy and relevance of the regional integration processes, both in the EU and ASEAN, depend on associating as many stakeholders as possible in the process and communicating its achievements; considers people-to-people contacts, particularly for young people, to be a very important instrument of cultural exchange, and calls for a considerable enlargement of the Erasmus+ facility for ASEAN; underlines that there is much room in the ASEAN countries for vocational training, and highlights prospects of cooperation in the area of the dual formation system practised in certain EU Member States; urges also developing cultural diplomacy activities in line with the communication of 8 June 2016 on an EU Strategy for International Cultural Relations and the recent report of Parliament on the subject; highlights the important function of the Asia-Europe Foundation and believes that support for its work should be expanded;

18.  Underlines the notion that structured exchanges and cooperation on the level of regions and localities (city twinning) offer an interesting instrument to enhance mutual practical experience, and draws attention to concrete initiatives such as the Covenant of Mayors or the Under2 MOU, which should be actively promoted;

19.  Suggests celebrating this year’s ASEAN-EU anniversary with an EU initiative for an EU-ASEAN young leaders’ exchange programme, to be realised in 2018 when Singapore occupies the ASEAN chair; suggests that if this is successful an annual forum should be created to allow young leaders from the EU and ASEAN to exchange ideas and build relationships in order to support EU-ASEAN relations in the future; suggests, further, examining with the ASEAN partners the practical scope for the reciprocal funding of research institutes or academic programmes whose purpose would be to study the integration processes, and experiences of those processes, in the respective partner region;

20.  Underlines the need to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment and to improve the lives of girls and women; highlights that access to education is therefore vital and could lead to social and economic transformation;

21.  Stresses that the EU should also intensify policy dialogues and cooperation on issues such as fundamental rights, including the rights of ethnic and religious minorities and on matters of common concern including the rule of law and security, protection of freedom of expression and the free flow of information, the fight against transnational crime, corruption, tax evasion, money laundering and trafficking in people and drugs, counter-terrorism, non-proliferation, disarmament, maritime security and cybersecurity;

22.  Welcomes the holding of the first EU-ASEAN Policy Dialogue on Human Rights in October 2015 and looks forward to further dialogues of this kind; is deeply concerned at the erosion of democracy and the violations of human and minority rights and continued repression and discrimination in countries of the region, and the failure to allow sufficient space for refugees and stateless persons or for civil society, particularly for environmental, land rights and labour rights activists, human rights defenders, and media workers; warns that failure to confront the issues related to the marginalisation of minorities would challenge the sustainability and long-term success of ASEAN; deplores the fact that a repressive attitude to drug users has resulted in high human costs and extrajudicial killings; highlights the need for empowering civil society in ASEAN by ensuring meaningful consultation with NGOs and grassroots movements in the context of regional policymaking;

23.  Is concerned at the setbacks with regard to the abolition of the death penalty in the region, and calls on all ASEAN countries to refrain from reinstating the death penalty and to abide by their international obligations; welcomes the efforts being made in the fight against trafficking in human beings and forced labour, and calls on all governments to step up the protection of victims and cross-country cooperation;

24.  Calls on ASEAN to dedicate adequate resources to its Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR); hopes that specific and verifiable targets and measures will be included in the AICHR’s five-year work plan and that its mandate will be strengthened so that it can actively monitor, investigate, prosecute and prevent human rights violations; encourages the AICHR to consider and discuss the establishment of a complementary ASEAN Court of Human Rights, on similar lines to those existing in other regions of the world;

25.  Urges the EU and its Member States to seek out all opportunities for cooperation with the ASEAN countries on strengthening democracy; supports the work of the Regional EU-ASEAN Dialogue Instrument Human Rights Facility office, which aims to publicise human rights issues and actions and increase awareness about human rights; urges all ASEAN member states to ratify further UN human rights conventions and their optional protocols, as well as the Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC), and to support initiatives for transitional justice, reconciliation and the fight against impunity across the region;

26.  Is concerned that a million stateless persons reside in the ASEAN member states; notes that the Rohingya in Myanmar are the single largest stateless group in the world, with over 1 million persons under UNHCR´s statelessness mandate, but that large communities of stateless people are also to be found in Brunei, Vietnam, the Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia and elsewhere; encourages the ASEAN member states to work together and to share good examples and efforts in order to end statelessness in the entire region;

27.  Recognises the importance of the EU’s role in the progress achieved to date by the ASEAN countries, and calls on the EU always to maintain dialogue in order to support the region in its progress towards democratisation, development and integration;

28.  Is concerned that climate change will have a major impact on ASEAN; recalls that the ASEAN region remains one of those most vulnerable to the phenomenon; urges the ASEAN member states to accelerate the shift towards low-carbon economies and to rapidly reduce deforestation, effectively curb forest fires and adopt more environment-friendly technologies for transport and buildings; welcomes the EU’s initiative of a new dedicated EU-ASEAN Dialogue on Sustainable Development; notes in this context the EU’s support for the task of clearance of unexploded ordnance in some countries in the region; urges EU-ASEAN cooperation on sustainable tourism, food security and the protection of biological diversity and in particular of coral reefs and mangrove forests, and action to effectively address overfishing in the region; highlights the need to provide assistance to ASEAN countries in order to enhance the protection and sustainable use of biodiversity and the systematic rehabilitation of forest ecosystems; urges the ASEAN member states to make efforts to enhance their rapid response capacity to natural disasters, under the ASEAN Agreement on Disaster Management and Emergency Response (AADMER);

29.  Calls for the EU institutions and Member States to give adequate priority to a high frequency of political contacts, notably at ministerial level, and to take full advantage of the ASEAN member state responsible for coordinating ASEAN’s Dialogue Relations with the EU and for chairing ASEAN; recalls the demands that have been made for a region-to-region EU-ASEAN parliamentary assembly, and urges greater use of parliamentary public diplomacy in various policy areas; insists in the meantime on strengthening cooperation with the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA) through regular and structured exchanges; calls for the EU institutions and Member States also to take advantage of the opportunities for intensive exchanges on regional issues presented at the annual Shangri-La Dialogue Forum;

30.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the European External Action Service, the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly, the ASEAN Secretariat and the governments and parliaments of the ASEAN member states.

(1) OJ C 85, 8.4.1980, p. 83.
(2)OJ L 154, 15.6.2012, p. 1.
(3)OJ C 482, 23.12.2016, p. 75.
(4)Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0276.
(5)Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0468.
(6)Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0467.
(7)Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0262.
(8)Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0263.
(9) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0351.
(10) OJ C 353, 27.9.2016, p. 52.
(11) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0506.
(12) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0316.
(13) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0348.
(14) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0274.
(15) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0413.
(16) OJ C 265, 11.8.2017, p. 144
(17) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0380.
(18) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0343.
(19) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0465.
(20) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0002.
(21) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0269.
(22) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0349.
(23) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0088.
(24) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0350.

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