Index 
Texts adopted
Tuesday, 14 November 2017 - StrasbourgFinal edition
Mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund: application EGF/2017/004 IT/Almaviva
 Saving lives: Boosting car safety in the EU
 Territorial typologies ***I
 Recognition of professional qualifications in inland navigation ***I
 Cooperation between national authorities responsible for the enforcement of consumer protection laws ***I
 Deployment of cohesion policy instruments by regions to address demographic change
 Action plan on retail financial services

Mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund: application EGF/2017/004 IT/Almaviva
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Resolution
Annex
European Parliament resolution of 14 November 2017 on the proposal for a decision of the European Parliament and of the Council on the mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (application from Italy – EGF/2017/004 IT/Almaviva) (COM(2017)0496 – C8-0322/2017 – 2017/2200(BUD))
P8_TA(2017)0422A8-0346/2017

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Commission proposal to the European Parliament and the Council (COM(2017)0496 – C8‑0322/2017),

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

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

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

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

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

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgets (A8-0346/2017),

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

B.  whereas the Union’s financial assistance to workers made redundant should be dynamic and made available as quickly and efficiently as possible;

C.  whereas Italy submitted application EGF/2017/004 IT/Almaviva for a financial contribution from the EGF under the intervention criteria set out in point (a) of Article 4(1) of the EGF Regulation following 1 646 redundancies in Almaviva Contact SpA operating in the economic sector classified under the NACE Revision 2 Division 82 (Office administrative, office support and other business support activities) in the NUTS level 2 region of Lazio in Italy (ITI4); whereas 1 610 redundant workers are expected to participate in the measures;

1.  Agrees with the Commission that the conditions set out in point (a) of Article 4(1) of the EGF Regulation are met and that Italy is entitled to a financial contribution of EUR 3 347 370 under that Regulation, which represents 60 % of the total cost of EUR 5 578 950;

2.  Notes that the Italian authorities submitted the application on 9 May 2017, and that following additional information provided by Italy its assessment was finalised by the Commission on 26 September 2017 and notified to Parliament on the same day;

3.  Recalls that the economic crisis has put significant pressure on the price of marketing services and of assistance to buyers of goods and services, leading to a decrease in the turnover and profitability of service providers; taking account of the fact that labour cost is by far the highest production cost in the call centre sector, notes that businesses have reacted to these adverse conditions by relocating, intervening on the cost of labour or closing down; regrets that between 2009 and the first quarter of 2014 a third of all Italian enterprises in the sector have ceased activity;

4.  Acknowledges that the present redundancies are directly linked to a 45 % revenue decline of Almaviva’s centre in Rome between 2011 and 2016; regrets that it was not possible to find agreement with the unified trade union representation (RSU) on a plan to align the labour cost in Almaviva-Rome with other Almaviva work centres in Italy, which would have effectively translated into a wage reduction, resulting in the closure of the Rome centre;

5.  Notes that workers of the call centre sector should be more protected, which implies in particular avoiding moving staff from one centre to another, which is used as a particular strategy to force massive layoffs;

6.  Recognises that the regional and local economy are only slowly recovering vitality after the great difficulties resulting from the economic and financial crisis and that mass redundancies risk stopping or interrupting this recovery; emphasises the crucial importance of active labour market measures, such as those co-financed by the EGF, in avoiding this;

7.  Notes that 79 % of the targeted beneficiaries are women and that the large majority of them are between 30 and 55 years old; regrets that it was not possible to find a viable solution to avoid their lay-off, particularly given the fact that women in this age group are already less likely to stay and advance in the labour market due to the difficulty of finding a work-life balance as a result of their responsibilities as informal carers, as well as a lack of equal opportunity in the workplace;

8.  Emphasises that the training and other personalised services should take full account of the characteristics of this group of workers, in particular, the high proportion of women; welcomes the inclusion of an estimated EUR 680 000 for the reimbursement of expenses for carers of dependent persons;

9.  Welcomes the fact that the Italian authorities started providing the personalised services to the targeted beneficiaries on 6 April 2017, ahead of the application for the EGF support for the proposed coordinated package;

10.  Notes that Italy is planning eight types of measures for the redundant workers covered by this application: (i) individual orientation, (ii) job search assistance, (iii) training, retraining and vocational training, (iv) reemployment vouchers, (v) support towards entrepreneurship, (vi) contribution to business start-up, (vii) reimbursement of expenses for carers of dependent persons, and (viii) reimbursement of mobility costs; notes that the income support measures will be 17,4 % of the overall package of personalised measures, well below the maximum 35 % set out in the EGF Regulation, and that these actions are conditional on the active participation of the targeted beneficiaries in job-search or training activities;

11.  Welcomes the establishment of a committee constituted by the Ministry of Economic Development (MiSE(4)), ANPAL(5), Regione Lazio and trade unions to define the strategy and interventions in support of former Almaviva workers as well as to draw up the co-ordinated package of personalised services;

12.  Understands that the use of reemployment vouchers is new, having only been used in one previous case; stresses the importance of fully evaluating the effectiveness of such measures once sufficient time has passed for data to be available;

13.  Stresses that the Italian authorities have confirmed that the eligible actions do not receive assistance from other Union financial instruments, but that they will be complemented by actions to be financed either by the ESF or with national funds only;

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

15.  Commends the commitment of the Italian government to defining a new legal framework for telecommunications workers in order to avoid further cases such as that which is the subject of the EGF/2017/004 IT/Almaviva application;

16.  Reiterates that assistance from the EGF must not replace actions which are the responsibility of companies, by virtue of national law or collective agreements, or measures for restructuring companies or sectors;

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

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

19.  Approves the decision annexed to this resolution;

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

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

ANNEX

DECISION OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL

on the mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund following an application from Italy – EGF/2017/004 IT/Almaviva

(The text of this annex is not reproduced here since it corresponds to the final act, Decision (EU) 2017/2192.)

(1) OJ L 347, 20.12.2013, p. 855.
(2) OJ L 347, 20.12.2013, p. 884.
(3) OJ C 373, 20.12.2013, p. 1.
(4) Ministero dello Sviluppo Economico (MiSE)
(5) Agenzia Nazionale per le Politiche Attive del Lavoro (ANPAL)


Saving lives: Boosting car safety in the EU
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European Parliament resolution of 14 November 2017 on saving lives: boosting car safety in the EU (2017/2085(INI))
P8_TA(2017)0423A8-0330/2017

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Commission report entitled ‘Saving Lives: Boosting Car Safety in the EU – Reporting on the monitoring and assessment of advanced vehicle safety features, their cost effectiveness and feasibility for the review of the regulations on general vehicle safety and on the protection of pedestrians and other vulnerable road users’ (COM(2016)0787) and to the accompanying Commission staff working document (SWD(2016)0431),

–  having regard to Regulation (EC) No 661/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 13 July 2009 concerning type-approval requirements for the general safety of motor vehicles, their trailers and systems, components and separate technical units intended therefor(1),

–  having regard to Regulation (EC) No 78/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 14 January 2009 on the type-approval of motor vehicles with regard to the protection of pedestrians and other vulnerable road users, amending Directive 2007/46/EC and repealing Directives 2003/102/EC and 2005/66/EC(2),

–  having regard to Directive 2014/47/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 3 April 2014 on the technical roadside inspection of the roadworthiness of commercial vehicles circulating in the Union and repealing Directive 2000/30/EC(3),

–  having regard to Directive (EU) 2015/413 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 March 2015 facilitating cross-border exchange of information on road-safety-related traffic offences(4),

–  having regard to Directive (EU) 2015/719 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 29 April 2015 amending Council Directive 96/53/EC laying down for certain road vehicles circulating within the Community the maximum authorised dimensions in national and international traffic and the maximum authorised weights in international traffic(5),

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) 2015/758 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 29 April 2015 concerning type-approval requirements for the deployment of the eCall in-vehicle system based on the 112 service and amending Directive 2007/46/EC(6),

–  having regard to its resolution of 9 September 2015 on ‘The implementation of the 2011 White Paper on Transport: taking stock and the way forward towards sustainable mobility’(7),

–  having regard to its resolution of 18 May 2017 on road transport in the European Union(8),

–  having regard to its resolution of 3 July 2013 on ‘Road safety 2011-2020 – First milestones towards an injury strategy’(9),

–  having regard to its resolution of 27 September 2011 on European road safety 2011-2020(10),

–  having regard to its resolution of 15 December 2011 on ‘The Roadmap to a Single European Transport Area – Towards a competitive and resource efficient transport system’(11),

–  having regard to the Commission communication entitled ‘A European strategy on Cooperative Intelligent Transport Systems, a milestone towards cooperative, connected and automated mobility’ (COM(2016)0766),

–  having regard to the Commission communication entitled ‘Towards a European road safety area: policy orientations on road safety 2011-2020’ (COM(2010)0389),

–  having regard to the Commission communication entitled ‘CARS 2020: Action Plan for a competitive and sustainable automotive industry in Europe’ (COM(2012)0636),

–  having regard to the Commission White Paper entitled ‘Roadmap to a Single European Transport Area – Towards a competitive and resource efficient transport system’ (COM(2011)0144),

–  having regard to the Commission report entitled ‘Benefit and feasibility of a range of new technologies and unregulated measures in the field of vehicle occupant safety and protection of vulnerable road users’, drawn up by the Transport Research Laboratory and published on 26 March 2015,

–  having regard to the Commission staff working document entitled ‘On the implementation of objective 6 of the European Commission’s policy orientations on road safety 2011-2020 – First milestone towards an injury strategy’ (SWD(2013)0094),

–  having regard to the Council conclusions of 8 June 2017 on road safety in support of the Valletta Declaration of March 2017,

–  having regard to the package ‘Europe on the Move’, released by the Commission on 31 May 2017, which includes a set of eight legislative initiatives with a special focus on road transport,

–  having regard to the United Nations General Assembly resolution 70/260 of 15 April 2016 entitled ‘Improving Global Road Safety’,

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Transport and Tourism and the opinion of the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection (A8-0330/2017),

A.  whereas every year on Europe’s roads around 25 500 people die and some 135 000 are seriously injured, so that more – and more effective – measures need to be taken, in consultation with Member States, if the vision zero goal of ‘no fatalities’ is to be achieved;

B.  whereas road safety depends on three factors: vehicle, infrastructure and drivers’ behaviour, and, therefore, measures in all three areas are necessary in order to enhance road safety and effective measures should be taken in the area of active and passive vehicle safety;

C.  whereas the average age of passenger cars, light-duty vehicles and heavy-duty vehicles in the EU is constantly increasing and is now over 10 years; whereas the age of a vehicle has a direct bearing on the consequences of and the injuries sustained in a road accident;

D.  whereas driver assistance systems make the vehicles safer and also enable the safe and active participation of persons with reduced mobility and the elderly in road traffic;

E.  whereas intelligent driving systems reduce congestion, warn drivers of hazards on their route, and consequently help to lower the risk of causing an accident;

F.  whereas the move towards driver-free vehicles is progressing rapidly and road safety generally is an urgent issue, so that a review of the General Safety Regulation must be submitted by the Commission no later than first quarter of 2018; whereas in any event any further delay would be unacceptable;

G.  whereas since 38 % of all fatalities occur in urban areas, often involving vulnerable road users, Member States should take vulnerable road users into consideration in urban traffic planning, improving their treatment in relation to modes of transport such as cars and buses; whereas the Commission should present its review of the pedestrian protection regulation;

H.  whereas there is a clear link between road safety and the working conditions of professional road users;

General requests

1.  Stresses that Member States should conduct efficient and regular road checks on drivers, as the main causes of accidents, at present as in the past, are speed levels that are inappropriate and excessive speed for the driving conditions concerned, distraction, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and excessive fatigue, and therefore:

   (a) calls on the Commission to set a percentage for the numbers of vehicles in classes M1 and N1 to be checked;
   (b) calls on the Commission to introduce stricter controls for the proper enforcement of compulsory working-time limits and rest periods for drivers who are professional road users;
   (c) calls on the Member States to step up exchanges of best practices, particularly regarding smart enforcement strategies, and to introduce penalties which will act as a deterrent to offenders;

2.  Notes that around 25 % of all annual traffic fatalities in the EU are caused by alcohol consumption; invites the Commission, therefore, to assess the possible added value of harmonising the EU blood alcohol concentration limit at 0,0 % for new drivers in their first two years and for professional drivers, and welcomes some Member States’ zero tolerance policy for drunk driving;

3.  Urges the Commission, bearing in mind the Valletta Declaration on improving road safety issued by the Maltese presidency on 29 March 2017, to include new targets for halving the number of serious injuries on the roads in the EU in its new road safety strategy for the decade 2020-2030;

4.  Calls on the Member States to significantly improve the state of their road infrastructure by means of regular and effective maintenance, including of traffic signs and signalling systems, and appropriate upgrades to cope with traffic volumes, and to introduce innovative measures providing full functionality and enhancing the interoperability of driver assistance systems, resulting in so-called intelligent infrastructure; calls on the Commission to set up a mechanism to ensure that the European road infrastructure remains in an adequate condition;

5.  Points out that infrastructural alterations (for example certain types of crash barrier or traffic-calming devices) can sometimes cause accidents or make them worse, especially when motorised two-wheelers are involved; calls on the Commission, therefore, to propose any standardisation measure likely to remedy the drawbacks;

6.  Observes that many drivers are not aware of the necessity of or how to form a corridor for emergency vehicle access on motorways, and therefore calls on the Commission to set common standards for the creation of such corridors and to launch a European awareness campaign;

7.  Observes that for pedestrians and cyclists nearly half of all fatalities resulting from traffic accidents are of persons aged over 65, and that road accidents are the biggest cause of death among young people; calls on the Member States, therefore, to make it possible for older people and young drivers to use the roads safely by developing well-publicised programmes to avert age-specific accident risks;

8.  Observes that in 51 % of cases the victims of fatal road accidents in urban areas are pedestrians and cyclists, and therefore encourages cities to include targets in their mobility plans for reducing the number of road and traffic accidents; also calls on the Member States to take greater account of more vulnerable road users, by addressing critical accident hotspots and by building and maintaining more safe pedestrian and cycling infrastructure or expanding and modernising existing infrastructure while also ensuring better indications; calls on the Commission also to take further action at EU level over and above the availability of existing funding schemes, in order to facilitate widespread improvements to cycling infrastructure and to mandate new active and passive vehicle safety technologies that protect in particular vulnerable road users;

9.  Notes that because some cyclists are ignorant of traffic regulations and/or fail to observe them, situations sometimes arise in which their own safety and that of other road users can be endangered; calls on the Commission to consider what kind of proposal it might make to promote safer cycling, thereby enabling bicycles to be dovetailed smoothly with the other modes of urban mobility;

10.  Encourages intelligent transport system (ITS) and public transport operators to further develop technologies for vehicles that encourage drivers to switch to safer modes of transport when entering urban areas;

11.  Observes that new means of transport, such as e-bikes and other electric mobility devices, are becoming increasingly popular; calls on the Commission, therefore, to examine the safety requirements for such vehicles without delay, and to make proposals for their safe integration into road transport, while taking due account of subsidiarity;

12.  Notes that the development and implementation of safety systems ought to make for road safety, and that this process will accordingly require some kind of adaptation period; calls on the Commission, therefore, to allow for the time necessary to develop such systems before specific technical legislation is put into effect;

13.  Recalls that odometer fraud remains an untackled problem, especially in the second- hand car market, as noted by the Commission in its study on the functioning of the market for second-hand cars from a consumer perspective; urges the Commission and the Member States to address the issue of manipulation of or tampering with odometers through effective measures and legislation;

14.  Notes that the more vehicles there are on the road, the more likely it is accidents might occur; calls, therefore, on the Member States and the Commission to promote collective and shared mobility, especially in urban areas, in order to reduce the circulating fleet, as well as measures to increase the proportion of bicycles and of professionally driven vehicles;

15.  Points out that the equipment that must compulsorily be carried in a vehicle differs from one Member State to another, and calls on the Commission, therefore, to draw up an EU-wide binding list of objects that should fall under the carrying requirement;

16.  Maintains that the EU and its research centres should play a leading role in the development of autonomous vehicles, since these will revolutionise the automobile sector, especially in terms of road safety, in which respect they are expected to save thousands of lives every year, as well as contributing to the digitalisation of the internal market;

Driver assistance systems to increase road safety

17.  Stresses that approximately 92 % of all accidents are due to human error or interaction of human error with vehicles and/or infrastructure, and that it should therefore be compulsory to incorporate only those driver assistance systems which improve road safety significantly as demonstrated by scientific evidence, have a favourable cost-benefit ratio, and have attained market maturity; considers that additionally, the resulting purchase price increases should not be so inordinate that the intended customers for such vehicles cannot afford to buy them, and that driver assistance systems, which are of relevance for road safety, should be checked regularly;

18.  Calls on the Commission to test the above-mentioned safety devices when performing vehicle market surveillance;

19.  Considers that the benefits of improved safety standards and equipment can be realised only if existing and future provisions are implemented and enforced effectively; calls, in this regard, for increased European-level oversight of type-approval authorities and technical services in the Union; calls, in addition, for greater and more independent post-market surveillance of vehicles on roads across the Union to ensure that they continue to conform to safety criteria;

20.  Stresses that, when non-conformities are identified, European consumers should be able to count on rapid, appropriate and coordinated corrective measures, including Union-wide vehicle recall where necessary; considers that economic operators should be liable for any damage caused to owners of affected vehicles as a result of non-compliance or following a recall;

21.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to improve the safety level of existing vehicles in use and to support developments and innovations which will increase the safety of cars already in use by incentivising and promoting the retrofitting of vehicles with cost-effective road safety systems that help drivers react better in a dangerous situation;

22.  Calls on manufacturers and operators:

   (a) to make it clear to drivers what the activation status of each driver assistance system is;
   (b) where systems can be switched off, to introduce two-stage deactivation systems, such that the driver can initially merely switch off the warning signal and can only deactivate the system itself by means of a second procedure;
   (c) to ensure that each time a vehicle is started afresh the driver assistance system is restored to active status; and
   (d) to introduce a pricing policy which will encourage consumers to choose vehicles equipped with safety and driver assistance systems;

23.  Stresses that evident warnings should be sufficiently differentiated to ensure that it is intuitively clear to which system the assistance pertains, and that warnings should also be easy to perceive for elderly persons, persons with a disability, such as hearing and/or sight impairment, and persons with reduced mobility; calls, therefore, on the parties concerned to adopt appropriate uniform standards allowing the possibility of operator-specific solutions;

24.  Welcomes the fact that almost all cars tested under the European New Car Assessment Programme for consumers (Euro NCAP) are awarded five stars and that the majority of car manufacturers have successfully responded to the challenge of meeting the new Euro NCAP requirements; notes, however, that not all car models sold in Europe are tested by Euro NCAP, and not all of the same type are sold with the same specification, which may create lack of clarity for consumers and thus offer a false level of confidence in the vehicle in relation to the actual performance of the model purchased; recalls the importance, therefore, of a strong underlying standard of mandatory safety requirements which ensure that all necessary safety equipment is present across the fleet used and sold in the EU;

25.  Is of the opinion that the Euro NCAP should always reflect the actual car safety of a specific model, and encourages it to be more ambitious in assessing the safety of new vehicles than the statutory minimum requirements compel it to, and to take into consideration the updated statutory minimum requirements, in order to further promote the development of vehicles that ensure high road safety standards and so that Europe remains ambitious and acts as a global leader in car safety;

26.  Calls on the Commission to coordinate the adoption of standards with the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) so as to achieve international consistency and at the same time limit to a minimum exemptions from the requirement to install driver assistance systems, in order to improve road safety across the board; stresses, in addition, that manufacturers should create clear information materials to help drivers better understand the various driver assistance systems and their functionalities;

27.  Calls for a harmonised European approach which takes into account all existing international and national legislation and ensures its complementarity;

28.  Calls on the Commission to investigate the involvement of special-purpose vehicles in urban accidents and, if necessary, to abolish the existing exemptions from the requirement to install driver assistance systems;

29.  Stresses that drivers’ instruction should include periodical and additional training in using obligatory driver assistance mechanisms, paying special attention to the elderly and persons with reduced mobility; urges driving schools, on the one hand, to incorporate issues relating to the operation of these systems into their learner training, and, on the other hand, to couple acquiring a driving licence with having received professional, on-road practical training;

30.  Notes that financial incentives, for example tax-based or insurance-based, for measures such as the installation of additional safety-relevant driver assistance systems in new and used cars or their inclusion in driver training, can facilitate the market uptake of vehicles with advanced safety features; invites Member States to consider introducing such mechanisms;

31.  Calls on the Commission to require market operators to arrange for the use of open standards and interfaces which will further improve interoperability, so that independent tests can be carried out by accessing the relevant vehicle and system data, including their updates, and can be performed by any qualified professional, while respecting proprietary data and intellectual property;

32.  Stresses that a high level of data protection and retention as required by Regulation (EU) 2016/679 (the General Data Protection Regulation) and by the right to protection of privacy and personal data should be ensured, as should high IT security, so that the possibility of new accident risks due to remote manipulation of on-board systems or conflicts of compatibility is excluded; recommends that the principle of ownership of data be explored;

33.  Stresses the importance of making use of reliable position and time information from satellite-based positioning systems and of applying the EGNOS/GNSS system to road-active safety; calls for more efforts to be made in order to achieve an EGNOS/GNSS road-active safety accuracy of less than one metre, with a view to a shift from the system’s ability to reduce vehicle speed to its ability to automatically intervene and deviate the vehicle trajectory; calls for the promotion of enhanced road safety by integrating EGNOS/GNSS data with on-board control systems;

Safety measures for accident prevention

34.  Welcomes the fact that emergency braking is already mandatory, since November 2015, for all new trucks and buses in the EU, but calls on the Commission to make it compulsory to install automatic emergency braking assistants with detection of pedestrians, cyclists, light powered two-wheelers and motorcyclists in cars, light commercial vehicles, buses, coaches and, especially, heavy goods vehicles, as these have a strong potential to prevent road accidents by means of autonomous powerful braking and a resulting shorter stopping distance;

35.  Calls for safer front-end design of heavy goods vehicles related to better vision of pedestrians and cyclists, as well as for barriers to avoid collisions and mitigate consequences of collisions;

36.  Calls for the compulsory installation of overridable intelligent speed assistant systems that indicate speed limits, stop signs and traffic lights and intervene to assist drivers to remain within speed limits; calls on Member States to ensure that road signs are kept in excellent condition and that road markings are clearly legible; emphasises that for the proper working of intelligent assistant systems it is necessary to have updated online road maps with current speed limit indications;

37.  Stresses that, in order to improve road safety, the deceleration of vehicles should be rendered easier for other road users to perceive by means of clear signal lights on vehicles, and expects the compulsory use of an emergency braking indicator in the form of a flashing brake light or flashing hazard lights;

38.  Stresses that in view of its relevance to road safety, an overridable lane-keeping assistance that not only warns but also appropriately intervenes, albeit without preventing drivers from acting directly, should be made compulsory; notes that for using this warning system it is necessary that road markings are kept in a condition ensuring that they are clearly recognisable;

39.  Emphasises that increasing the direct vision of the driver in heavy goods vehicles, buses and coaches and reducing or eliminating blind spots are vital for improving the road safety of such vehicles; calls on the Commission, therefore, to mandate ambitious differentiated direct vision standards and to make it compulsory to install front, side and rear cameras, sensors and turning assistant systems, while observing that such measures should accord with Directive (EU) 2015/719 and should not result in any extension of the time limits for implementation laid down therein;

40.  Stresses the need to provide preconditions for installing alcohol interlock devices and systems to detect driver distraction and drowsiness, and urges the use of alcohol interlocks for professional drivers and for drivers who have caused a traffic accident under the influence of alcohol and have therefore been convicted of a drunk driving offence, as a rehabilitation measure;

41.  Observes that trucks are involved in 15 % of road fatalities, and that vulnerable road users account for approximately 1 000 truck-related fatalities every year; calls on the Commission, therefore, to accelerate the mandatory introduction for trucks of ambitious differentiated direct vision standards, intelligent speed assistance, and automatic emergency braking systems with cyclist and pedestrian detection;

Safety measures to mitigate the effects of accidents

42.  Observes that tyre pressure has significant implications for road safety and fuel consumption as well as for emissions; calls on the Commission, therefore, to make it compulsory to install direct tyre pressure monitoring systems; also calls on the Commission to transpose into EU law the tyre pressure measurement systems amendments aimed at delivering in real world conditions agreed at UNECE;

43.  Considers it necessary to make it compulsory to install intelligent seatbelt reminder systems for all front seats for all vehicles and for rear seats for M1 and N1 vehicles;

44.  Considers it important to make it compulsory to install automated seatbelt adjustment systems in order to avoid neck damage;

45.  Calls on the Commission, from 2019, to extend the eCall installation requirement to motorcycles, heavy goods vehicles and buses and coaches, and also to make the system available for retrofitting so as to ensure that it can cover the highest possible numbers of vehicles on the road;

46.  Calls for accurate and reliable EU-wide accident statistics, including statistics on the causes of accidents, exposure data and listing of injuries and accident victims, and observes that an event data recorder could be very helpful in this connection, in which context the data must be kept anonymous and used only for purposes of accident research;

47.  Calls for data to be collected throughout the EU on vehicle occupants killed or injured due to causes other than collisions; notes that there are no data available on vehicle heat-stroke casualties;

48.  Calls for better fire safety rules for buses and coaches with different types of power, including CNG-powered buses, to maximise the protection of passenger safety;

49.  Observes that redesigned front underrun protection of trucks could reduce fatalities in head-on collisions between cars and trucks by 20 %; calls on the Commission to mandate improved energy-absorbing front underrun protection for all new trucks;

50.  Calls for compulsory frontal, side and rear-end crash tests for:

   (a) all-terrain vehicles (SUVs) with raised seats and a maximum weight of more than 2 500 kg; and
   (b) electrically propelled vehicles and vehicles with other new propulsion technologies;

51.  Calls on the Commission to also update the testing requirements for motor vehicle passive safety systems so as to include protection of all vulnerable road users in front and rear impacts, including not only pedestrians but also cyclists;

52.  Calls on the Commission to ensure that the market will have sufficient and realistic time to adapt to these measures;

53.  Stresses that Directive (EU) 2015/719 on weights and dimensions of heavy goods vehicles has great potential to improve truck safety; calls on the Commission to accelerate work on this directive and come forward with its assessment without delay;

o
o   o

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

(1) OJ L 200, 31.7.2009, p. 1.
(2) OJ L 35, 4.2.2009, p. 1.
(3) OJ L 127, 29.4.2014, p. 134.
(4) OJ L 68, 13.3.2015, p. 9.
(5) OJ L 115, 6.5.2015, p. 1.
(6) OJ L 123, 19.5.2015, p. 77.
(7) OJ C 316, 22.9.2017, p. 155.
(8) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0228.
(9) OJ C 75, 26.2.2016, p. 49.
(10) OJ C 56 E, 26.2.2013, p. 54.
(11) OJ C 168 E, 14.6.2013, p. 72.


Territorial typologies ***I
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Resolution
Text
European Parliament legislative resolution of 14 November 2017 on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Regulation (EC) No 1059/2003 as regards the territorial typologies (Tercet) (COM(2016)0788 – C8-0516/2016 – 2016/0393(COD))
P8_TA(2017)0424A8-0231/2017

(Ordinary legislative procedure: first reading)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Commission proposal to Parliament and the Council (COM(2016)0788),

–  having regard to Article 294(2) and Article 338(1) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, pursuant to which the Commission submitted the proposal to Parliament (C8‑0516/2016),

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

–  having regard to the opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee of 29 March 2017(1),

–  having regard to the opinion of the Committee of the Regions of 13 July 2017(2),

–  having regard to the provisional agreement approved by the committee responsible under Rule 69f(4) of its Rules of Procedure and the undertaking given by the Council representative by letter of 4 October 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 Regional Development (A8-0231/2017),

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 14 November 2017 with a view to the adoption of Regulation (EU) 2017/… of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Regulation (EC) No 1059/2003 as regards the territorial typologies (Tercet)

(As an agreement was reached between Parliament and Council, Parliament's position corresponds to the final legislative act, Regulation (EU) 2017/2391.)

(1) OJ C 209, 30.6.2017, p. 71.
(2) OJ C 342, 12.10.2017, p. 74.


Recognition of professional qualifications in inland navigation ***I
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Resolution
Text
European Parliament legislative resolution of 14 November 2017 on the proposal for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on the recognition of professional qualifications in inland navigation and repealing Council Directive 96/50/EC and Council Directive 91/672/EEC (COM(2016)0082 – C8-0061/2016 – 2016/0050(COD))
P8_TA(2017)0425A8-0338/2016

(Ordinary legislative procedure: first reading)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Commission proposal to Parliament and the Council (COM(2016)0082),

–  having regard to Article 294(2) and Article 91(1) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, pursuant to which the Commission submitted the proposal to Parliament (C8‑0061/2016),

–  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 13 July 2016(1),

–  after consulting the Committee of 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 30 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 Transport and Tourism and the opinions of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs and the Committee on Legal Affairs (A8-0338/2016),

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 14 November 2017 with a view to the adoption of Directive (EU) 2017/… of the European Parliament and of the Council on the recognition of professional qualifications in inland navigation and repealing Council Directives 91/672/EEC and 96/50/EC

(As an agreement was reached between Parliament and Council, Parliament's position corresponds to the final legislative act, Directive (EU) 2017/2397.)

(1) OJ C 389, 21.10.2016, p. 93.


Cooperation between national authorities responsible for the enforcement of consumer protection laws ***I
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Resolution
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European Parliament legislative resolution of 14 November 2017 on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on cooperation between national authorities responsible for the enforcement of consumer protection laws (COM(2016)0283 – C8-0194/2016 – 2016/0148(COD))
P8_TA(2017)0426A8-0077/2017

(Ordinary legislative procedure: first reading)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Commission proposal to Parliament and the Council (COM(2016)0283),

–  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 (C8‑0194/2016),

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

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

–  having regard to the opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee of 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 30 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 Internal Market and Consumer Protection and the opinion of the Committee on Legal Affairs (A8-0077/2017),

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 14 November 2017 with a view to the adoption of Regulation (EU) 2017/… of the European Parliament and of the Council on cooperation between national authorities responsible for the enforcement of consumer protection laws and repealing Regulation (EC) No 2006/2004

(As an agreement was reached between Parliament and Council, Parliament's position corresponds to the final legislative act, Regulation (EU) 2017/2394.)

(1) OJ C 34, 2.2.2017, p. 100.


Deployment of cohesion policy instruments by regions to address demographic change
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European Parliament resolution of 14 November 2017 on the deployment of cohesion policy instruments by regions to address demographic change (2016/2245(INI))
P8_TA(2017)0427A8-0329/2017

The European Parliament,

—  having regard to Article 174 and Article 175 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU),

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 1303/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 December 2013 laying down common provisions on the European Regional Development Fund, the European Social Fund, the Cohesion Fund, the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund and laying down general provisions on the European Regional Development Fund, the European Social Fund, the Cohesion Fund and the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund and repealing Council Regulation (EC) No 1083/2006(1),

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 1301/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 December 2013 on the European Regional Development Fund and on specific provisions concerning the Investment for growth and jobs goal and repealing Regulation (EC) No 1080/2006(2),

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 1304/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 December 2013 on the European Social Fund and repealing Council Regulation (EC) No 1081/2006(3),

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 1299/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 December 2013 on specific provisions for the support from the European Regional Development Fund to the European territorial cooperation goal(4),

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 1302/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 December 2013 amending Regulation (EC) No 1082/2006 on a European grouping of territorial cooperation (EGTC) as regards the clarification, simplification and improvement of the establishment and functioning of such groupings(5),

–  having regard to its resolution of 4 February 2016 on the special situation of islands(6),

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 1300/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 December 2013 on the Cohesion Fund and repealing Council Regulation (EC) No 1084/2006(7),

–  having regard to its resolution of 4 April 2017 on women and their roles in rural areas(8),

—  having regard to its resolution of 10 May 2016 on cohesion policy in mountainous regions of the EU(9),

—  having regard to its resolution of 9 September 2015 on the Report on the implementation, results and overall assessment of the 2012 European Year for Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations(10),

—  having regard to its resolution of 10 May 2016 on new territorial development tools in cohesion policy 2014-2020: Integrated Territorial Investment (ITI) and Community-Led Local Development (CLLD)(11),

—  having regard to its resolution of 15 November 2011 on demographic change and its consequences for the future cohesion policy of the EU(12),

—  having regard to its resolution of 11 November 2010 on the demographic challenge and solidarity between the generations(13),

—  having regard to its resolution of 22 September 2010 on the European strategy for the economic and social development of mountain regions, islands and sparsely populated areas(14),

—  having regard to its resolution of 21 February 2008 on the demographic future of Europe(15),

—  having regard to its resolution of 23 March 2006 on demographic challenges and solidarity between the generations(16),

—  having regard to the Commission’s report entitled ‘The 2015 Ageing Report. Economic and budgetary projections for the 28 EU Member States (2013-2060)’ (European Economy 3/2015),

—  having regard to the Commission’s sixth report on economic, social and territorial cohesion entitled ‘Investment for jobs and growth: Promoting development and good governance in EU regions and cities’ of 23 July 2014,

—  having regard to the Commission communication of 26 April 2017 entitled ‘An Initiative to support work-life balance for working parents and carers’ (COM(2017)0252),

—  having regard to the Commission communication of 29 April 2009 entitled ‘Dealing with the impact of an ageing population in the EU (2009 Ageing Report)’ (COM(2009)0180),

—  having regard to the Commission communication of 10 May 2007 entitled ‘Promoting solidarity between the generations’ (COM(2007)0244),

—  having regard to the Commission communication of 12 October 2006 entitled ‘The demographic future of Europe – from challenge to opportunity’ (COM(2006)0571),

—  having regard to the Commission communication of 16 March 2005 entitled ‘Green Paper: “Confronting demographic change: a new solidarity between the generations”’ (COM(2005)0094),

—  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 opinion of the European Committee of the Regions of 16 June 2016 on the EU response to the demographic challenge(17),

—  having regard to the study of September 2013 of the European Parliament Directorate-General for Internal Policies, Department B: Structural and Cohesion Policies, entitled ‘How can regional and cohesion policies tackle demographic challenges?’,

—  having regard to the ESPON publication on ‘Revealing territorial potentials and shaping new policies in specific types of territories in Europe: islands, mountains, sparsely populated and coastal regions’(18),

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

—  having regard to the report of the Committee on Regional Development and the position in the form of amendments of the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality (A8-0329/2017),

A.  whereas demographic change is a genuine issue in Europe and across the globe and a key challenge, not just in general, but also for local development and territorial enhancement policies in the EU today, together with employment-related issues, uncontrolled globalisation, climate change, the transition towards low-carbon economies and the challenges posed by the industrial and technological shift and social and economic inclusion;

B.  whereas, as is the case in most post-industrial societies, the population of Europe has been characterised by increasing longevity and low fertility rates for several decades, which is liable to alter the population structure and age pyramid, and entail side-effects of a shrinking working age population and aging population; whereas the economic crisis which has affected the entire European Union has had a strong impact on many areas and regions, particularly the countryside, and has, most notably, generated poverty and caused depopulation; whereas a persistent gender pay gap and increasing pension gap strongly hinder the participation of women in the labour market;

C.  whereas rapid population growth in developing countries and demographic decline of the EU population is projected to translate into the shrinkage of the European Union’s percentage share of the world’s population from 6,9 % in 2015 to 5,1 % in 2060(19);

D.  whereas it is projected that 132 out of 273 NUTS level 2 regions will see a decrease in population between 2015 and 2050(20); whereas this decrease will affect Local Administrative Units (LAUs) in particular;

E.  whereas the top priority for the European Union and all the Member States is to promote growth that is at once smart, sustainable and inclusive;

F.  whereas geographical or demographic features serve to exacerbate development problems; whereas, for this reason, the Treaty of Lisbon added territorial cohesion to the goals of economic and social cohesion;

G.  whereas demographic change does not affect all countries and regions in a uniform manner, on account of both its natural dynamics and the migratory movements that it entails, with the majority of urban and, in particular, metropolitan areas experiencing a population gain and most rural and remote areas experiencing a decline, the picture being very mixed in the outermost regions; whereas such imbalances represent major challenges both for territories suffering from depopulation and for those experiencing a population influx; whereas isolated areas and areas to which access is limited are the most exposed to demographic decline; whereas, on the other hand, attention should be drawn to the effects of ‘suburbanisation’, which, as a consequence of a large population movement from big cities to their surrounding areas, puts pressure on both local and regional authorities;

H.  whereas European regions are not unbroken expanses of territory; whereas they can contain pockets of unemployment or poverty and face particular challenges, especially as regards demographic change, making it vital to set up targeted instruments to reduce sub-regional disparities and help bring about a better territorial balance in terms of urban, peri-urban, and rural areas;

I.  whereas women, and single mothers in particular, are more exposed to poverty and exclusion;

J.  whereas demographic change poses a challenge in ensuring the social cohesion and well-being of the whole population, and in encouraging balanced economic development; whereas demographic change has repercussions on infrastructure and the accessibility and quality of services, which translates into connectivity divides or medical deserts and is often the result of insufficient links between urban and rural populations;

K.  whereas demographic change involves major policy challenges in different areas linked to a wide range of cohesion policy fields; whereas regional policy, and its European Structural and Investment (ESI) Funds, including the Cohesion Fund, are key instruments for addressing this change;

L.  whereas non-urbanised areas in the European Union are home to 113 million people, 12 million farms and 172 million hectares of agricultural land and make an extensive contribution to European economies, cultures and ecosystems;

M.  whereas adequate infrastructure and an adequate level of services are important factors in managing the population structure in regions that are sparsely populated or suffering from emigration, where the importance of investment and jobs is greater;

N.  whereas proper infrastructure and access to public services and high-quality jobs are important factors influencing the decision whether or not to stay in a particular area;

O.  whereas women are more exposed to poverty and social exclusion than men – all the more so when they are aged over 60;

P.  whereas demographic change has a greater impact on regions which are lagging behind;

Q.  whereas demographic change affecting rural areas has economic and social consequences, causes territorial fragmentation and affects quality of life and the environment, all in addition to its serious demographic consequences;

R.  whereas gender equality is a fundamental right, a common value of the EU and a necessary condition for achieving the EU objectives of growth, employment and social cohesion;

S.  whereas gender equality represents an important tool for economic development and social cohesion;

T.  whereas negative demographic change increases the demand for stronger solidarity between generations;

General

1.  Stresses that demographic change entails major economic, social, fiscal and environmental pressures on Member State governments and regional and local authorities in terms of providing public services, especially welfare and social services, building and managing infrastructure, and ensuring the preservation of ecosystems through sustainable spatial planning; stresses that these pressures will be exacerbated by a declining active population and a higher dependency ratio; underlines the crucial role of high-quality public and private services; underlines the importance of accessible high-quality and affordable public and private services as a tool for ensuring gender equality;

2.  Considers that demographic change should be tackled in a coordinated manner through the action of all European, national, regional and local authorities and by pursuing adaptation strategies reflecting local and regional realities and delivering effective multi-level governance both in the architecture of these specific policies targeted at particular regions and in their implementation; is of the opinion that such a coordinated and integrated response should seek to improve the quality of life of citizens and provide them with better economic opportunities, and should seek to invest in the quality, availability and affordability of social and public services in the regions concerned; considers, furthermore, that civil society representatives and other stakeholders should be involved; points out that a comprehensive approach of any kind must reflect the role of cities, rural areas, fishing and coastal areas as well as areas confronted with specific problems linked to their geographical or demographic situation, and that, therefore, said approach will also have to take account of the specific challenges posed by the outermost regions, northernmost regions with very low population density and islands, cross-border and mountain regions, as expressly acknowledged in the Lisbon Treaty; calls on the Member States and the Commission to take into account the effects of different policies on gender equality and demographic change;

3.  Recognises that demographic change, while creating new challenges, also brings development opportunities at a local level, as a result of shifts in demand in urban societies, especially with regard to food, leisure and rest, through the potential of agriculture, forestry and fishing to produce high-quality, safe and distinctive products; considers that rural tourism in general and ecotourism, e-commerce, community-based services and the silver economy in particular also provide opportunities for development at a local level, enhancing the value of domestic agricultural or non-agricultural products, such as handicrafts, embroidery and ceramics, via the European system of the protection of geographical indications; underlines in this respect the importance of smart specialisation strategies for supporting regions and local territories in identifying high value-added activities and for building attractive innovation ecosystems on the basis of a genuine multi-functional rural development strategy that incorporates the circular economy into regional planning; points out that agri-tourism, which helps to maintain a dynamic lifestyle in rural areas, is also a significant sector; highlights the importance of social dialogue and the inclusion of social partners together with other local stakeholders and authorities at all stages of ESI Fund programming and implementation for better anticipating the effects of demographic change on local labour markets and developing new strategies addressing such challenges;

Characteristics of demographic change in the EU

4.  Notes that the main problems relating to the demographic change currently experienced in many parts of the EU are aging brought on by disruption of the age pyramid, a drop in birth rates and subsequent drastic drop in infant and youth populations, constant population loss, skilled workforce shortages, a lack of jobs, young people moving away for want of job opportunities and changes in demographic structure; recognises that the current agriculture policy, the loss of traditional activities, products, production systems, labour force and local know-how, the invisible work done by women, the lack of entrepreneurship, regions lagging behind or unable to compete owing to a lack of investment, or loss of biodiversity, and loss of woodland to shrubs and fire risk, are further significant problems connected with demographic change; underlines that the impact of these trends differs significantly from one region to another, partly on account of the movement of people to big urban centres in search of jobs;

5.  Stresses that one of the main objectives of an EU demographic policy should be to take into account all territories having to contend with demographic imbalances and the specificities of those territories, factors which cohesion policy has long been seeking to adapt to, and will have to do much more to adapt to after 2020; emphasises the fact that while demographic change affects all areas, whether rural or urban, its implications differ and depend on different factors such as the intensity and speed at which change occurs or whether it affects regions with net immigration or regions with a shrinking population;

6.  Stresses the need to promote and support small and medium-sized mountain and rural farms which, by using traditional techniques and production methods that exploit natural resources – such as pastures and different types of forage crops – in an integrated and sustainable manner, produce products with specific quality characteristics and could serve to reverse or decrease depopulation in those areas;

7.  Stresses that those demographic phenomena affecting the Union are not new, but have now increased with an unprecedented intensity, in particular as a result of social and economic pressures; draws attention to the steady increase in the number of elderly people – around 2 million people every year reach the age of 60 – which impacts on spatial, housing and transport planning and on other types of infrastructure and services; notes with concern that regions characterised by a sharp decline in working-age population will be particularly hard hit by demographic challenges; recognises that lack of investment, poor infrastructure, low connectivity rates, limited access to social services and a lack of jobs are key contributory factors to depopulation; stresses that demographic changes can have a considerable impact on pensions and on environmental sustainability in particular, as the depopulation of rural areas and increasing urbanisation affect eco-systems, nature conservation and the use of natural resources, with particular repercussions on urban land use, infrastructure, housing markets and greenery;

8.  Considers that the gender dimension of demographic change should be taken into account in a cross-cutting manner, as regions experiencing demographic decline also suffer from gender and age imbalances due to out-migration; believes that the challenges presented by demographic change can and must be addressed within a policy framework propitious to gender equality, which is why gender must be factored into debates on all matters connected with demographic issues; considers, therefore, that the implementation of gender mainstreaming within all ESI Funds should be further strengthened in the future;

9.   Recalls that the Europe 2020 Strategy addresses demographic challenges in most of its seven flagship initiatives, which were designed to overcome the problems of and establish vital priorities for the EU in the fields of employment, innovation, education, poverty reduction, and climate and energy; points out that a fundamental part of implementation of the strategy and its flagship initiatives is based on financial support through cohesion policy instruments, including provisions to tackle population change and aging, and that these dimensions need to be stressed in all European Union instruments;

10.  Considers that the challenges of declining and aging populations will require objective, thorough and comprehensive reassessments of many established economic, social and political policies and programmes, which will need to incorporate a long-term perspective;

Coordination of EU policies

11.  Calls for a greater coordination of EU instruments, in particular the common agricultural policy (CAP), ESI Funds, including the Cohesion Fund, European Territorial Cooperation, the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) and the Connecting Europe Facility, so as to ensure a more comprehensive approach to demographic change; suggests that, given that the mechanisms employed so far have not held back the advance of demographic imbalances, a review of existing policies and of the functioning of all such mechanisms is required; welcomes, in this context, the efforts made to maximise synergies between the ESI Funds and EFSI; calls on the Commission once more to propose a strategy on demographic change which prioritises the following fields: decent employment and good-quality industrial relations, paying special attention to new forms of work and their social role; the territorial aspect of policies promoting economic activity and employment; the promotion of infrastructure as a factor in business location, so territories facing demographic challenges become accessible and competitive; widespread ICT cover competitive as regards both quality and price in territories with a lower population density; the provision of basic welfare state services in territories facing demographic challenges; local public transport to ensure access to public services; policies designed to ensure a better balance between family and professional commitments, sustainable generational renewal and adequate care for dependent persons; policies on the reception, integration and return of migrants and refugees under international protection; and the extensive use of new, more attractive settings for conveying information about rural life; underlines the importance of existing initiatives such as the European Innovation Partnership on Active and Healthy Ageing, Ambient Assisted Living and the EIT Digital and Health Knowledge Innovation Communities; calls on the Commission to take into account the solutions already developed by these initiatives when addressing the demographic challenges faced by European regions; stresses the importance of the European Qualifications Framework for Lifelong Learning as a way of supporting education and training in areas at risk of depopulation; considers that the better regulation agenda should require the impact analysis conducted prior to any EU legislative initiative to include the effects the latter may have on demography;

12.  Highlights the importance of the EU incorporating demographic considerations throughout the policy spectrum, including in its budget headings, in order to enable the development of these policies, particularly in cohesion, employment, agriculture, environment, the information society, RDI (research, development and innovation), employment, education, social policy, and transport; considers that the findings of demographic impact reports need to be incorporated into the design of its policies and demographic criteria factored into the assessments of those policies’ outcomes and undesired effects with a view to favouring an approach to demographic change that includes the involvement of regional and local authorities; is of the opinion that special attention should be paid to rural areas which face these demographic problems particularly acutely; highlights, in this context, the potential of the Smart Villages initiative, whereby with modern technologies such as 5G and innovation, rural communities can be revitalised; stresses, in addition, the importance of strengthened cooperation between rural and urban areas; highlights the importance of providing universal access to high-quality and affordable public services and infrastructures, including digital public services and infrastructures, particularly for children, young people and the elderly, in order to foster social inclusion, ensure gender equality and alleviate the effects of demographic change; stresses the importance of providing new opportunities for paid employment, particularly in areas at risk of depopulation, in order to preserve communities and create the conditions to facilitate a satisfactory life-work balance; considers it important to insist on a global geographical vision for urban and rural areas as complementary functional spaces; stresses that greater integration between the various funds is needed, in order for there to be genuine participatory and sustainable local development; points out that EU demographic policy should aim to be more complete and more coordinated with Member States and horizontally; recalls that the European Union does not just contribute funds for regional development but also shapes to a large extent the capacity of local and regional authorities to use their own funds to combat social territorial inequalities; stresses that even if, as a result of modernising state aid, those exceptions for which notification is not required have been simplified and increased in number, the current framework is still very complex and burdensome for smaller regional and local authorities; considers that, even if public procurement regulations were simplified in 2014, there are still too many obstacles for small local and regional authorities to be able to improve the economy of these sensitive areas;

13.  Considers that that the EU should support migration and inclusion policies in the Member States, by respecting the rights and competencies of those Member States, as well as the subsidiarity principle, in order to minimise negative demographic trends; highlights the significant role of family-creating and family-supporting policies; considers that local and regional bodies should be authorised to implement successfully integration policies on the ground; takes the view that local and regional authorities should be active participants in measures taken to address demographic challenges; calls for the annual growth survey and the country-specific recommendations to consider regional disparities and imbalances between regions within the Member States; believes that in border regions such cooperation must reflect both the demands and scope for cross-border initiatives; suggests that training programmes be developed in this field in order to create a better understanding and greater awareness of the issues involved; considers that tackling demographic problems must have an integral throughout Europe and that solving a problem in one part of the continent should not have negative effects on other areas in Europe; calls for the creation, at a pan-European level, of networks for the exchange of good practices and experiences through which local and regional authorities, as well as civil society stakeholders, can educate each other on addressing issues created by demographic change;

Enhancing the effectiveness of European funds

14.  Stresses that ESI Funds must address demographic change more effectively in the next programming period, by means of: a greater, better targeted focus on demographic change as a priority area in final regulations and in guidelines to support Member States, regions and local governments, exploring the potential of ESI Funds for the purposes of addressing demographic change and devising and implementing association agreements and operational programmes; a more proactive approach in demographic policy-making and the exchange of good practices and experiences for institutional learning; technical support for managing authorities and local stakeholders in implementing effective policies addressing demographic change at both national and regional levels; and the obligatory active participation of local authorities in the design, management and in-house evaluation of programmes implementing funds and the necessary identification of regions faced with demographic challenges at NUTS 3 and LAU level; encourages the provision of technical support and training for local stakeholders and the managing authorities for the purposes of implementing effective policies addressing demographic change at national, regional and local level; takes the view that, in some Member States, subsidies at NUTS 2 level often conceal socio-territorial, intra-regional and even supra-regional inequalities; calls for the EU’s maps to use a scale sufficient to reflect territory-related problems so that they may help target support to the most disadvantaged areas;

15.  Asks that the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) make a greater contribution to and provide more support towards helping areas with high aging, rurality and population outflow indices to improve their transport and telecommunications infrastructure, bridge the digital divide (including between generations), and enjoy better public services; stresses, in this context, the importance of the field of e-health; calls on the Member States and regions to better target available investments to address demographic changes and their impact;

16.  Urges the Commission to use cohesion policy measures to put a brake on increasing migration out of sparsely populated regions, where adequate infrastructure and an adequate level of services are essential preconditions, particularly for retaining families with children;

17.  Stresses that the European Social Fund (ESF) should step up its work in training and educating young people, and should promote employability and help people strike a better work-life balance and combat the social and digital exclusion of elderly persons; stresses, furthermore, that the fund should improve employment prospects through preparatory programmes for the inhabitants of declining regions, and by boosting the social and digital inclusion of women, young people and senior citizens in those areas; points out, in that connection, that care will be taken, when using the ESF to support the outermost regions, to ensure a better balance between working and family life; calls on the Commission to consider setting up a specific envelope, within the scope of existing funds, dedicated to addressing areas experiencing severe and permanent demographic disadvantages; asks for the fund to be disbursed according to arrangements which prioritise lines of action in the short, medium and long term; stresses the importance of including the Cohesion Fund in future strategies to address demographic change, recalling that the fund was established with a view to strengthening the EU’s economic, social and territorial cohesion; considers it important for far greater support to be provided through the ESF for small organisations which develop and run innovative social projects, as well as pan-EU transnational pilot projects that address social and employment issues, so as to facilitate innovative regional, cross-border, transnational and macro-regional cooperation and hence respond to the challenges created by demographic change;

18.  Regrets the fact that, as highlighted by the European Court of Auditors Special report No 5/2017, the EU Youth Guarantee, which should be aimed at helping young people without jobs, training or education, has made limited progress, and its results have fallen short of initial expectations;

19.  Takes the view that, with a view to avoiding territorial divides, the EFSI should benefit regions with the most unfavourable demographic dynamics by means of greater investment in EU priority areas such as energy, transport, education, business, innovation research, SMEs, education or social infrastructure; takes the view that consideration of a special status for demographically disadvantaged regions should be discussed in the development of post-2020 cohesion policy;

The future of cohesion policy to address demographic change

20.  Believes that cohesion policy provides the right tools with which to address demographic change, especially in connection with other EU, national and regional policies, both in respect of population aging and population loss, and should therefore play a more prominent role to support regions and provide flexibility in adapting to demographic change; believes that this should also be reflected in the fund-specific regulations in addressing demographic change, as part of its explicit remit under Article 174 TFEU; calls for a precise definition of the notion of ‘severe and permanent demographic handicaps’ referred to in Article 174 TFEU and Article 121 of Regulation (EU) No 1303/2013 that would enable demographic challenges to be statistically quantified; highlights the importance of urban-rural linkages, and invites the Commission to reflect on the opportunity to complement integrated sustainable urban development strategies with partnerships for sustainable urban-rural development; considers that the Commission should take proactive measures to prevent the adverse effects of demographic change and provide technical assistance to the regions most affected by depopulation;

21.  Stresses that cohesion policy should promote the employability and inclusion of women, especially mothers who struggle with finding employment; calls, therefore, for women to be given access to training and learning programmes; points out, however, that the qualifications obtained should respond to labour market needs; stresses the importance of helping young mothers to return to work by providing reliable all-day childcare facilities for children of all ages, including facilities for pre-school learning, in order to stop depopulation;

22.  Believes that in order to address demographic challenges, the regions should use ESI Funds more proactively in order to tackle youth unemployment and give young people the opportunity to start a proper career; notes that this could be achieved by supporting training programmes and entrepreneurship for young people;

23.  Calls for the establishment of a legal framework within the future Common Provisions Regulation (CPR) in order to recognise regions facing severe and permanent demographic challenges; stresses the need for a more proactive and dedicated approach to demographic policy-making, as regional divergence in demographic patterns will most likely produce a substantial unequal socio-economic impact on European territories, which might further increase regional disparities in the EU; calls for the strengthening and administrative streamlining of the new instruments for enhancing the bottom-up approach and multi-level governance – such as community-led local development (CLLD) and integrated territorial investment (ITI) – so as to increase local and regional involvement as part of an integrated and holistic approach to regional development; calls for the creation of portal-based services, which will help existing rural businesses to connect better with their urban-based counterparts; highlights the importance of taking greater account, under the future cohesion policy, of specific territorial characteristics which manifest themselves at sub-regional levels; stresses that a lack of capacity and robust governance within many local and regional authorities is a major obstacle to the success of EFSI programmes and demands, in this connection, capacity-building instruments;

24.  Invites the Commission to consider defining new criteria with which to distinguish territories facing demographic challenges by means of demographic, economic, environmental-impact and accessibility variables, and to conduct studies on potential socio-economic and environmental indicators to complement the GDP indicator with criteria including social capital, life expectancy and quality of the environment; considers that GDP and population density are not indicators which are in themselves sufficient to classify territories with severe and permanent demographic handicaps; asks the Commission to incorporate into cohesion policy, in addition to the GDP indicator, new, dynamic indicators, such as a demographic indicator, and in particular the EU Regional Social Progress Index, so as to provide a more complete picture of the specific challenges facing these regions, or to consider an additional allocation for these regions similar to that for sparsely populated areas in the current programming period (CPR Annex VII, point 9); stresses the need for specific tools to monitor and evaluate the potential and real impact of ESI Funds in addressing demographic change by drafting guidelines for the subsequent development of relevant demographic indicators; stresses the importance of having reliable, up-to-date, disaggregated statistics for the purposes of a more efficient and objective political administration, particularly for a more detailed understanding of the intrinsic features of the EU’s various sparsely populated areas; calls, therefore, for Eurostat to provide greater detail in statistics of relevance for devising a suitable European demographic policy, especially demographic, family-related, social and economic indicators, and thus urges them to be broken down at least at a sub-regional – i.e. NUTS 3 – level;

25.  Considers that the future cohesion policy should include specific measures for the areas most affected by demographic challenges, and allow for greater flexibility in setting thematic objectives or co-financing rates, with a view to coordinating inter-regional and intra-regional strategies within the same Member State, with local participation; calls on the Commission to consider a national strategy for demographic development as a new ex-ante conditionality;

26.  Calls on the Commission to incorporate a flagship initiative on demographics into the Europe 2020 strategy, financed by existing ESI funds and comprising a raft of measures in three categories: smart growth, by means of action to help regions affected by demographic challenges in the field of ICT, RDI and SMEs; inclusive growth, by means of specific action to encourage young people to remain in their region, ensuring sustainable generational renewal, self-employment and social inclusion measures for migrants and refugees under international protection; and sustainable growth, by means of measures to help these regions invest in the green economy, including sustainable transport systems; welcomes the EU Action for Smart Villages, which calls for policies to pay particular attention to overcoming the digital divide between rural and urban areas and to tap into the potential offered by the connectivity and digitisation of rural areas, and which supports the Smart Island Initiative as a bottom-up effort on the part of the European island authorities and communities seeking to improve life on islands through sustainable and integrated solutions;

27.  Considers that the post-2020 multiannual financial framework should give a forceful, decisive impetus to efforts to address demographic challenges, taking into account the current demographic situation and trends, and must incorporate the promotion of solutions using targeted measures such as a budget item in funding, where appropriate; calls for services and infrastructure reinforcing social and digital inclusion to be strengthened under the second pillar of the CAP, intended to foster rural development and financed under the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD), and for a reversal of trends towards social and economic decline and depopulation in areas with severe and permanent demographic handicaps; calls on national, regional and local authorities to exchange experience, best practices and new approaches to preventing the negative consequences of demographic change; believes that the trans-European transport networks (TEN-T) and the motorways of the sea (MoS) should serve areas with severe and permanent demographic handicaps;

28.  Underlines the added value of the single community-led local development (CLLD) methodology across all ESI Funds for developing and implementing integrated and tailor-made bottom-up solutions; regrets the fact, however, that CLLD is only mandatory for the EAFRD and that local and participatory approaches are declining in the ERDF, ESF and European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF); calls on the Commission, therefore, to make the use of CLLD obligatory across all ESI Funds;

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

(1) OJ L 347, 20.12.2013, p. 320.
(2) OJ L 347, 20.12.2013, p. 289.
(3) OJ L 347, 20.12.2013, p. 470.
(4) OJ L 347, 20.12.2013, p. 259.
(5) OJ L 347, 20.12.2013, p. 303.
(6) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0049.
(7) OJ L 347, 20.12.2013, p. 281.
(8) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0099.
(9) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0213.
(10) OJ C 316, 22.9.2017, p. 145.
(11) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0211.
(12) OJ C 153 E, 31.5.2013, p. 9.
(13) OJ C 74 E, 13.3.2012, p. 19.
(14) OJ C 50 E, 21.2.2012, p. 55.
(15) OJ C 184 E, 6.8.2009, p. 75.
(16) OJ C 292 E, 1.12.2006, p. 131.
(17) OJ C 17, 18.1.2017, p. 40.
(18) ESPON Working Paper. Luxembourg, ESPON EGTC, March 2017.
(19) Eurostat, ‘The EU in the World’, 2016 edition.
(20) Eurostat, ‘Eurostat Regional Yearbook’, 2016 edition.


Action plan on retail financial services
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European Parliament resolution of 14 November 2017 on the Action Plan on Retail Financial Services (2017/2066(INI))
P8_TA(2017)0428A8-0326/2017

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Commission Green Paper of 30 April 2007 on ‘Retail Financial Services in the Single Market’ (COM(2007)0226),

–  having regard to Directive 2008/48/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 April 2008 on credit agreements for consumers and repealing Council Directive 87/102/EEC(1) (the Consumer Credit Directive),

–  having regard to Directive 2009/103/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 September 2009 relating to insurance against civil liability in respect of the use of motor vehicles, and the enforcement of the obligation to insure against such liability(2) (the Motor Insurance Directive),

–  having regard to Regulation (EC) No 924/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 September 2009 on cross-border payments in the Community and repealing Regulation (EC) No 2560/2001(3),

–  having regard to the Commission Green Paper of 11 January 2012 entitled ‘Towards an integrated European market for card, internet and mobile payments’ (COM(2011)0941),

–  having regard to the ‘Report on Good Practices on Comparison Websites’ of 2014 by the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority,

–  having regard to the opinion addressed to the EU institutions in April 2016 by the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority on ‘A Common Framework for Risk Assessment and Transparency for IORPs’,

–  having regard to Directive 2014/17/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 4 February 2014 on credit agreements for consumers relating to residential immovable property and amending Directives 2008/48/EC and 2013/36/EU and Regulation (EU) No 1093/2010(4) (the Mortgage Credit Directive),

–  having regard to Directive 2014/65/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 May 2014 on markets in financial instruments and amending Directive 2002/92/EC and Directive 2011/61/EU(5),

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 910/2014 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 July 2014 on electronic identification and trust services for electronic transactions in the internal market and repealing Directive 1999/93/EC(6),

–  having regard to Directive 2014/92/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 July 2014 on the comparability of fees related to payment accounts, payment account switching and access to payment accounts with basic features(7) (the Payments Account Directive),

–  having regard to the Commission report of 8 August 2014 on the operation of the European Supervisory Authorities (ESAs) and the European System of Financial Supervision (ESFS) (COM(2014)0509),

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) 2015/751 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 29 April 2015 on interchange fees for card-based payment transactions(8),

–  having regard to Directive (EU) 2015/2366 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 November 2015 on payment services in the internal market, amending Directives 2002/65/EC, 2009/110/EC and 2013/36/EU and Regulation (EU) No 1093/2010, and repealing Directive 2007/64/EC(9),

–  having regard to Directive (EU) 2016/97 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 January 2016 on insurance distribution(10) (the Insurance Distribution Directive),

–  having regard to the Commission Green Paper of 10 December 2015 on ‘Retail financial services: better products, more choice, and greater opportunities for consumers and businesses’ (COM(2015)0630),

–  having regard to the response by the European Banking Authority of 21 March 2016 to the Commission Green Paper on retail financial services,

–  having regards to the Special Eurobarometer 446 of July 2016 on Financial Products and Services,

–  having regard to its resolution of 22 November 2016 on the Green Paper on Retail Financial Services(11),

–  having regard to the report of 2016 by Better Finance entitled ‘Pension Savings: The Real Return’,

–  having regard to its resolution of 17 May 2017 on ‘FinTech: the influence of technology on the future of the financial sector’(12),

–  having regard to the Commission consultation document of 21 March 2017 on the review of the ESAs,

–  having regard to the Commission Action Plan of 23 March 2017 entitled ‘Consumer Financial Services Action Plan: Better Products, More Choice’ (COM(2017)0139),

–   having regard to the UK Financial Conduct Authority's Asset Management Market Study of June 2017,

–  having regard to Protocol No 1 on the role of national parliaments in the European Union,

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

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs and the opinion of the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection (A8-0326/2017),

A.  whereas the EU market in retail financial services remains rather underdeveloped and highly fragmented, while work is ongoing in different Member States; whereas, therefore, urgent and efficient action is needed to facilitate innovation that is beneficial to end-users while releasing the full potential of the single market in retail financial services, and that would boost competitiveness, lowering prices and increasing the choice and diversity of products;

B.  whereas we should remain ambitious as regards breaking down national barriers and curbing the existing tendencies that block innovation in retail financial services; calls on the Commission and the Council to be more ambitious in the area of cross-border retail investments under the capital markets union (CMU), by tackling not just the easier issues but also the most important barriers affecting this market, which include language, concerns over fraud or crime, uncertainty about the tax implications, differences in securities and corporate law, unknown redress and insolvency proceedings, and lack of confidence in consumer protection frameworks;

C.  whereas a European retail financial services market would only be viable if it represented real added value for consumers and financial services providers by ensuring effective competition and consumer protection, notably in relation to products that are necessary for participation in economic life and for vulnerable consumers;

D.  whereas the Special Eurobarometer 446 concludes that, when it comes to financial products or services, Europeans are still purchasing mostly in their own country and often do not even express a need or desire to have access to these services abroad, although some actual barriers are also preventing them from doing so; whereas even within their own Member State, only a small proportion seek out more attractive offers and change their providers; whereas the resulting lack of (cross-border) competition may prevent consumers and small investors from getting the best deal in the financial products and services they purchase;

E.  whereas the definition of FinTech is set out in Parliament’s resolution of 17 May 2017, which states that FinTech should be understood as finance enabled by or provided via new technologies, affecting the whole financial sector in all its components, from banking to insurance, pension funds, investment advice, payment services and market infrastructures; whereas applying technologies to the provision of retail financial services can potentially help overcome certain obstacles to the internal market and enhance the sector’s operational efficiency; whereas digitalisation is not sufficient on its own to overcome these obstacles; whereas closer integration of cross-border retail financial services and better information in respect of the opportunities this market offers can help bolster informed demand which raises the bar in terms of quality standards in this field;

1.  Notes that in the Commission’s Consumer Financial Services Action Plan some of the concerns are taken on board that were raised by Parliament in its report on the Green Paper on retail financial services, with the aim of ensuring consumer protection in the context of striving towards a robust technology-enabled single market for retail financial services, while protecting consumers, encouraging competition, guaranteeing data protection, lowering prices and fighting tax fraud, tax evasion, tax avoidance and money laundering; believes, nevertheless, that the Action Plan falls short of the ambition to create a regulatory environment conducive to transparency, growth and innovation and with a high level of trust on the part of businesses and consumers in retail financial products; notes the continued high levels and opacity of fees and commissions in relation to private pensions, investment funds and other retail products that significantly reduce the real returns to retail investors; shares, however, the Commission’s view that the transposition and implementation of legislative acts that have been drawn up in recent years in the area of financial services, including MiFID 2 and IDD, should be maintained and given priority, while new legislative initiatives should be presented if needed;

2.  Welcomes the development of new financial services and institutions contributing to competition on financial markets and to new opportunities for consumers; notes, however, that in 2016 FinTech funding in Europe accounted for only USD 2,2 billion, as compared to USD 12,8 billion in the US and USD 8,6 billion in China, which demonstrates the urgent need for a quick mentality shift and an adequate regulatory response to technological developments in order for Europe to become a lead market for innovation; stresses that a genuine single market for retail financial services in which a high level of consumer protection and a level playing field for new market entrants are ensured will make the EU attractive as a hub for innovative financial services and will provide consumers with more and better choice at lower rates; emphasises that although new technologies present regulatory challenges, they also offer great opportunities for innovation that benefit end-users and represent a stimulus for economic growth and jobs;

3.  Considers it vital to ensure that financial services of all kinds – including but not limited to the opening of current and savings accounts and the provision of bank cards, consumer loans and mortgages, insurance and sovereign debt – can be provided on a cross-border basis;

4.  Considers it to be against the principles of the internal retail financial services market to require customers to be resident in the Member State in which the financial product – including sovereign debt instruments – is offered, or to hold a national identity document issued by that Member State, for the effective provision of the product;

5.  Believes that it would be beneficial to facilitate the acquisition of sovereign debt by retail investors;

6.  Takes the view, in line with paragraph 135 of its resolution of 14 February 2017 on the annual report on EU competition policy(13), that current and savings accounts should not incur commission for users unless they are linked to specific services;

7.  Stresses that access to cash via ATMs is an essential public service that must be provided without any discriminatory or unfair practices and must not, therefore, incur excessive costs;

8.  Reminds the Commission that financial institutions continue to cancel payment cards if the holder moves to another Member State, and calls for action to be taken in this respect, including by alerting national authorities;

9.  Welcomes the fact that the Action Plan aims to tackle a number of important issues and that in some of the areas it sets out specific actions to be taken by the Commission, with a clear timetable;

10.  Believes that the Commission should play a more proactive role in using the CMU, while closely involving Parliament as part of the implementation of the Paris agreement to support the growing sustainable and responsible investment (SRI) market by promoting sustainable investments, through the provision of effective and standardised Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) information by listed companies and financial intermediates and the adequate reflection of such criteria in investment management systems and disclosure standards; urges the Commission, furthermore, to promote environmental, social and governance (ESG) ‘rating services’ and a consistent framework for the green bonds market, building on the relevant Commission study and the work of the G20 study group on green finance; asks the Commission to put forward a proposal for the creation of an 'EU savings account' in order to unlock long-term financing and support ecological transition in Europe;

11.  Underlines the importance of vital financial centres providing dynamic marketplaces for retail services;

12.  Considers a high level of consumer protection and transparency to be key to the development of a single market in retail financial services; insists, notably, on the need to ensure the protection of vulnerable consumers through the efficient implementation of the Basic Payment Account Directive and that further measures are also required, such as financial education policies; believes that EU and national financial consumer legislation needs to be strengthened and properly enforced and, where necessary, further harmonised across all Member States;

13.  Calls on the Commission to ensure that the ‘same service, same risk, same rule, same supervision’ principle is applied so that competition is not distorted, in particular with the emergence of new market players; stresses that these rules must not hold back innovation; urges the Commission to clarify the use of general good provisions which currently could be vicariously used by Member States to block new products entering their market, and to empower the ESAs to become an active mediator between Member States when there are conflicting interpretations regarding the use of such provisions;

14.  Stresses that a European retail financial services market must benefit SMEs in terms of both supply and demand; specifies that in terms of supply this means ensuring an improvement in access to financing for SMEs, while in terms of demand it means enabling SMEs to access cross-border markets more easily; emphasises that increasing competition must not penalise SMEs providing retail financial services which operate on a local basis;

15.  Urges the Commission to ensure that the European financial supervisors (EBA, ESMA and EIOPA) are provided with appropriate resources and empowered to perform their full range of regulatory and supervisory duties in the interests of consumer protection;

16.  Asks the Commission to investigate the possibility of introducing a 29th regime for retail financial products; calls on the Commission, furthermore, to look into the possibility of creating a harmonised legal framework for standardised default options for the most commonly used EU financial products, along the lines of the Basic Bank Account and PEPP model;

Action 1 – Lower charges on non-euro transactions

17.  Recalls that fees for cross-border payments outside of the euro area still remain high; calls, therefore, on the Commission to rapidly propose an amendment to Regulation (EC) No 924/2009 in order to reduce charges for cross-border transactions in all Member States; regrets, in this context, the lack of a common European online banking payments instrument, such as an EU-wide, European-owned credit or debit card;

Action 2 – Transparency in currency conversion

18.  Emphasises that enforcing the current legislation is central to tackling the lack of transparency in ‘dynamic currency conversion’; points out that Directive (EU) 2015/2366 lays down an obligation for merchants to clearly highlight and present the final cost of the dynamic currency conversion for consumers, including when those consumers are making ATM withdrawals involving currency conversion; stresses, however, that consumers must be able to choose the best rates and should be aware of fees and additional costs when making transactions, payments abroad or ATM withdrawals, including when using dynamic currency conversion; asks the Commission to ensure that providers disclose any exchange rate mark-up, as a charge as part of the costs and charges disclosure required under PSD2, and that the rates offered by different financial services providers are presented in a transparent manner; notes that enhanced financial literacy of consumers is vital for achieving this aim; recommends the carrying-out of ‘mystery shopping’ exercises at EU level, with a view to assessing and reporting publicly on barriers to cross-border access, quality of service and compliance with EU law and to monitoring developments in products and services;

Action 3 – Easier product switching

19.  Draws attention to the low switching levels of consumers for most banking and non-life insurance products, which constitute a barrier to entering retail cross-border markets, and therefore encourages the Commission to make it easier for consumers to switch to more advantageous retail financial services across the EU as well as to terminate financial contracts, and to make loans and other financial products available across borders; highlights the large potential for the provision of cross-border insurance products, such as motor insurance; notes, however, that the principle of contractual freedom allows financial institutions to decide with whom they enter into a contract; urges the Commission, in this context, to recognise the importance of controlling predatory lending and payday loans, which have resulted in the exploitation of vulnerable consumers and SMEs;

20.  Approves of the Commission’s ambition to incorporate the achievements of the Payment Accounts Directive so as to make it easier to change financial services providers and products; calls on the Commission to present legislative initiatives, designed specifically for the financial sector, to end unjustified geo-blocking in order to facilitate switching by customers to more advantageous retail financial services in other Member States; notes that adequate disclosure and consumer protection will be key in achieving this;

Action 4 – Quality comparison websites

21.  Stresses the usefulness of a well-structured and easy-to-use EU comparison portal covering the European retail financial markets in their entirety; encourages the Commission to examine the range of existing independent portals in place in Member States for this aim; emphasises that comparison tools must be accurate and of relevance to consumers, and must focus not only on the price of products but also on their quality, taking into consideration other criteria such as availability of branch networks, face-to- face contact and sustainability of business practices, and bearing in mind that only similar products can be compared; points out that products should be compared only with similar products so as to avoid confusing consumers;

22.  Urges the Commission to promote tools such as Points of Single Contact, which will enhance competition and assist retail financial services firms;

Action 5 – Better motor insurance

23.  Takes the view that subsequently to the Commission’s REFIT review of the Motor Insurance Directive, amendments to the directive will be vital to ensure compensation for traffic accident victims and to facilitate the cross-border portability and recognition of no-claims bonuses, also in light of the CJEU judgments to the effect that the scope of the Motor Insurance Directive should be revised as soon as possible in order to address the non-recognition of no-claims bonuses and ensure that it applies to the circumstances that were intended by the co-legislators;

Action 6 – Transparent pricing of car rentals

24.  Calls on the Commission to examine whether further initiatives are needed on car rentals selling insurance, with a view to ensuring transparent pricing covering all car rental companies across all Member States;

Action 7 – Deeper single market for consumer credit

25.  Stresses that addressing consumer over-indebtedness must be given priority if the Commission aims to explore ways of facilitating cross-border access to loans; calls for action on means of coordinating debt information, on a basis of full compliance with EU law, including data protection laws and consumer protection laws, so that individual creditors can know how indebted a customer is before extending more credit, leading to a more efficient market in which credit providers can compete against each other; calls, with that aim in mind, for a comprehensive evaluation of the causes of consumer over-indebtedness; points out that financial education is an effective means of protecting consumers who are at risk of over-indebtedness; urges the Commission, consequently, to promote financial education and foster multi-stakeholder collaboration in this important field; recalls, in the context of the increased use of customer data or big data by financial institutions, the provisions of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which grant the data subject the right to obtain an explanation of a decision reached by automated processing and to challenge this decision; stresses the need to guarantee that incorrect data can be changed and that only verifiable and relevant data are used; calls on all stakeholders to increase efforts to guarantee the enforcement of these rights; is of the opinion that consent given to the use of personal data needs to be dynamic and that data subjects must be able to alter and adapt their consent;

Action 8 – Fair consumer protection rules

26.  Asks the Commission to assess carefully whether national consumer protection rules and practices do not act as unfair barriers to cross-border investment and whether, in line with well-established internal market legislation and case-law, they are justified by overriding reasons relating to the public interest that are necessary and proportionate in view of the objectives to be attained; stresses that the relevant European consumer protection rules often deliberately leave some leeway for national transposition, to enable European law to be inserted into existing national regulations; underlines nevertheless that the dismantling of national barriers must not be achieved to the detriment of consumer protection and that consumer protection should remain a guiding priority in designing legislation; is concerned that much of the paperwork produced in response to EU legislation from providers of retail financial products and services is not in fact strictly required in law and is of little or no practical benefit to consumers while imposing a burden that can result in unnecessarily higher costs to those consumers; calls on the Commission to review such documentation with the aim of streamlining it while not sacrificing consumer protection benefits; stresses that access to relevant and comprehensible information is crucial in enabling the consumer to take informed financial decisions; notes, however, that it is the quality and not the quantity of the information provided which is decisive; stresses the need to coordinate as effectively as possible the information requirements vis-à-vis customers laid down in various European legal acts; emphasises that double or contradictory disclosure requirements must be avoided, in order not to create unnecessary red tape and expenditure and not to confuse clients;

27.  Calls on the Commission to consider omnibus legislation in order to move away from the current silo-based patchwork of MiFID, IDD, AIFMD, etc., and towards the completion of a solid and consistent consumer transparency framework, removing unnecessary complexity for financial service providers, including supervisory convergence between Member States; calls on the Commission to promote an extended use in sectoral legislation of the ESAs' consumer protection mandate and to take this into account in the framework of the upcoming review of the funding and governance of the ESAs; calls on the Commission to mandate the ESAs to lead the work on convergence of conduct-of-business supervision practices between Member States;

28.  Welcomes the Commission’s intention to prepare a campaign to raise awareness of FIN-NET, a network that helps consumers enforce their rights without having to go to court by finding a competent alternative dispute resolution (ADR) body; believes that FIN-NET should further improve its coverage, clarify its role and improve its website;

Action 9 – Better creditworthiness assessments

29.  Invites the Commission to propose harmonised cross-border creditworthiness assessment standards and principles in order to better mitigate the risk of increasing over-indebtedness when facilitating pan-European online credit, taking the conclusions of published reports on the implementation of the Mortgage Credit Directive and the Consumer Credit Directive thoroughly into account;

Action 10 – FinTech for retail financial services

30.  Recognises the right of consumers to use software to initiate payments and share information about themselves;

31.  Supports the Commission’s intention to present an all-inclusive FinTech Action Plan in the framework of its CMU and digital single market (DSM) strategies, thus contributing to an effective and well-functioning integrated technology-driven single market in financial services benefiting all European end-users, while at the same time ensuring a level playing field; supports the Commission’s creation of a FinTech task force; points out that the new landscape emerging from the development of FinTechs calls for the establishment of a variety of appropriate new safeguards such as, inter alia, education of consumers regarding new products or rules on anti-money laundering and leverage on FinTech credit platforms;

32.  Calls on the Commission to examine its resolution on ‘FinTech: the influence of technology on the future of the financial sector’, to promote consumer protection, security, innovation and fair competition, and to ensure that the principle of ‘same services, same risks, same rules, same supervision’ applies to all companies regardless of their sector or location; stresses that FinTech should be understood as finance enabled by or provided via new technologies affecting the whole financial sector in all its components, from banking to insurance, pension funds, investment advice, payment services and market infrastructures;

33.  Urges the Commission to create an environment that is conducive to innovative solutions; notes that innovative companies such as FinTechs provide the competition needed to create an effective retail financial services market;

34.  Underlines that different new financial institutions under the name of FinTech have the same responsibilities towards customers and for financial stability as other corresponding traditional institutions and services;

Action 11 – Digital identity checks

35.  Stresses the potential of e-signature and e-identification for easier transactions, and calls on the Commission to build on the work of the eIDAS Regulation; underlines the need to take into consideration persons unable or unwilling to use e-signature or e-identification; promotes the interoperability of cross-border e-identification in the financial services sector and calls for a level playing field across Member States (and possibly beyond, in EEA countries and Switzerland) to be ensured; asks the Commission, furthermore, to urgently assess the current regulatory barriers to e-identification techniques, and stresses that any initiative taken should be technologically neutral;

36.  Reiterates the need for the Commission to identify and remove regulatory barriers to the use of pan-European electronic signature systems for subscribing to financial services, thereby facilitating EU‑wide cross-border digital onboarding while not affecting the level of security of existing systems or their ability to comply with the requirements of the Fourth Anti-Money Laundering Directive;

Action 12 – Online selling of financial services

37.  Stresses the need to adapt the existing EU legal framework for the digital world in order to counteract consumer protection risks connected with distance online selling, thereby creating new business opportunities for European start-ups and FinTechs; points out the consumer risks associated with online gambling games guised as financial products, i.e. binary options; believes that a strong and harmonised European supervision is needed to protect consumers and avoid regulatory loopholes; stresses that European consumer protection standards apply irrespective of whether selling takes place via traditional or modern distribution channels;

38.  Underlines the importance of cybersecurity and regrets the fact that the Commission does not address cybersecurity issues in its Action Plan; calls on the Commission, therefore, to ensure that those issues are included in the work of its task force;

39.  Stresses the need to maintain the provision of high street banks, which provide an essential public service and are of particular benefit to SMEs, the elderly and vulnerable consumers, who are less likely to use e-banking and favour face-to-face interaction; recognises that branch closures degrade financial infrastructure at a local level and can be extremely damaging to communities;

40.  Notes that the increased use of customer data or big data by financial institutions may lead to benefits to consumers, such as the development of more tailored, segmented and cheaper offers based on more efficient allocation of risk and capital; is concerned, on the other hand, at the development of dynamic pricing and its potential to lead to worse outcomes for consumers with respect to comparability of offers, and hence also for effective competition and risk pooling and mutualisation in the credit and insurance sector;

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

(1) OJ L 133, 22.5.2008, p. 66.
(2) OJ L 263, 7.10.2009, p. 11.
(3) OJ L 266, 9.10.2009, p. 11.
(4) OJ L 60, 28.2.2014, p. 34.
(5) OJ L 173, 12.6.2014, p. 349.
(6) OJ L 257, 28.8.2014, p. 73.
(7) OJ L 257, 28.8.2014, p. 214.
(8) OJ L 123, 19.5.2015, p. 1.
(9) OJ L 337, 23.12.2015, p. 35.
(10) OJ L 26, 2.2.2016, p. 19.
(11) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0434.
(12) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0211.
(13) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0027.

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