Index 
Texts adopted
Wednesday, 15 November 2017 - StrasbourgFinal edition
Period for adopting delegated acts ***I
 Nomination of a member of the Court of Auditors – Karel Pinxten
 Nomination of a member of the Court of Auditors – Pietro Russo
 Nomination of a member of the Court of Auditors – Hannu Takkula
 Nomination of a member of the Court of Auditors – Baudilio Tomé Muguruza
 Nomination of a member of the Court of Auditors – Bettina Jakobsen
 Nomination of a member of the Court of Auditors – João Alexandre Tavares Gonçalves de Figueiredo
 Nomination of a member of the Court of Auditors – Iliana Ivanova
 Protection against dumped and subsidised imports from countries not members of the EU ***I
 Rule of law in Malta
 Multilateral negotiations in view of the 11th WTO Ministerial Conference
 Eastern Partnership: November 2017 Summit
 Action Plan for nature, people and the economy
 The situation of the rule of law and democracy in Poland

Period for adopting delegated acts ***I
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Resolution
Text
European Parliament legislative resolution of 15 November 2017 on the proposal for a decision of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Directive 2010/40/EU as regards the period for adopting delegated acts (COM(2017)0136 – C8-0116/2017 – 2017/0060(COD))
P8_TA(2017)0429A8-0332/2017

(Ordinary legislative procedure: first reading)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Commission proposal to Parliament and the Council (COM(2017)0136),

–  having regard to Article 294(2) and Article 91 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, pursuant to which the Commission submitted the proposal to Parliament (C8‑0116/2017),

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

–  having regard to the opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee of 5 July 2017(1),

–  after consulting the Committee of the Regions,

–  having regard to the undertaking given by the Council representative by letter of 27 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 Transport and Tourism (A8-0332/2017),

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 15 November 2017 with a view to the adoption of Decision (EU) 2017/… of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Directive 2010/40/EU as regards the period for adopting delegated acts

(As an agreement was reached between Parliament and Council, Parliament's position corresponds to the final legislative act, Decision (EU) 2017/2380.)

(1)OJ C 345, 13.10.2017, p. 67.


Nomination of a member of the Court of Auditors – Karel Pinxten
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European Parliament decision of 15 November 2017 on the nomination of Karel Pinxten as a Member of the Court of Auditors (C8-0328/2017 – 2017/0812(NLE))
P8_TA(2017)0430A8-0336/2017

(Consultation)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to Article 286(2) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, pursuant to which the Council consulted Parliament (C8‑0328/2017),

–  having regard to Rule 121 of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgetary Control (A8-0336/2017),

A.  whereas Parliament’s Committee on Budgetary Control proceeded to evaluate the credentials of the nominee, in particular in view of the requirements laid down in Article 286(1) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union;

B.  whereas at its meeting of 19 October 2017 the Committee on Budgetary Control heard the Council’s nominee for membership of the Court of Auditors;

1.  Delivers a negative opinion on the Council’s nomination of Karel Pinxten as a Member of the Court of Auditors;

2.  Instructs its President to forward this decision to the Council and, for information, the Court of Auditors, the other institutions of the European Union and the audit institutions of the Member States.


Nomination of a member of the Court of Auditors – Pietro Russo
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European Parliament decision of 15 November 2017 on the nomination of Pietro Russo as a Member of the Court of Auditors (C8-0329/2017 – 2017/0813(NLE))
P8_TA(2017)0431A8-0337/2017

(Consultation)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to Article 286(2) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, pursuant to which the Council consulted Parliament (C8‑0329/2017),

–  having regard to Rule 121 of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgetary Control (A8-0337/2017),

A.  whereas Parliament’s Committee on Budgetary Control proceeded to evaluate the credentials of the nominee, in particular in view of the requirements laid down in Article 286(1) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union;

B.  whereas at its meeting of 19 October 2017 the Committee on Budgetary Control heard the Council’s nominee for membership of the Court of Auditors;

1.  Delivers a favourable opinion on the Council’s nomination of Pietro Russo as a Member of the Court of Auditors;

2.  Instructs its President to forward this decision to the Council and, for information, the Court of Auditors, the other institutions of the European Union and the audit institutions of the Member States.


Nomination of a member of the Court of Auditors – Hannu Takkula
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European Parliament decision of 15 November 2017 on the nomination of Hannu Takkula as a Member of the Court of Auditors (C8-0330/2017 – 2017/0814(NLE))
P8_TA(2017)0432A8-0338/2017

(Consultation)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to Article 286(2) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, pursuant to which the Council consulted Parliament (C8‑0330/2017),

–  having regard to Rule 121 of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgetary Control (A8-0338/2017),

A.  whereas Parliament’s Committee on Budgetary Control proceeded to evaluate the credentials of the nominee, in particular in view of the requirements laid down in Article 286(1) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union;

B.  whereas at its meeting of 19 October 2017 the Committee on Budgetary Control heard the Council’s nominee for membership of the Court of Auditors;

1.  Delivers a favourable opinion on the Council’s nomination of Hannu Takkula as a Member of the Court of Auditors;

2.  Instructs its President to forward this decision to the Council and, for information, the Court of Auditors, the other institutions of the European Union and the audit institutions of the Member States.


Nomination of a member of the Court of Auditors – Baudilio Tomé Muguruza
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European Parliament decision of 15 November 2017 on the nomination of Baudilio Tomé Muguruza as a Member of the Court of Auditors (C8-0331/2017 – 2017/0815(NLE))
P8_TA(2017)0433A8-0342/2017

(Consultation)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to Article 286(2) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, pursuant to which the Council consulted Parliament (C8‑0331/2017),

–  having regard to Rule 121 of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgetary Control (A8-0342/2017),

A.  whereas Parliament’s Committee on Budgetary Control proceeded to evaluate the credentials of the nominee, in particular in view of the requirements laid down in Article 286(1) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union;

B.  whereas at its meeting of 26 October 2017 the Committee on Budgetary Control heard the Council’s nominee for membership of the Court of Auditors;

1.  Delivers a favourable opinion on the Council’s nomination of Baudilio Tomé Muguruza as a Member of the Court of Auditors;

2.  Instructs its President to forward this decision to the Council and, for information, the Court of Auditors, the other institutions of the European Union and the audit institutions of the Member States.


Nomination of a member of the Court of Auditors – Bettina Jakobsen
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European Parliament decision of 15 November 2017 on the nomination of Bettina Jakobsen as a Member of the Court of Auditors (C8-0332/2017 – 2017/0816(NLE))
P8_TA(2017)0434A8-0341/2017

(Consultation)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to Article 286(2) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, pursuant to which the Council consulted Parliament (C8‑0332/2017),

–  having regard to Rule 121 of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgetary Control (A8-0341/2017),

A.  whereas Parliament’s Committee on Budgetary Control proceeded to evaluate the credentials of the nominee, in particular in view of the requirements laid down in Article 286(1) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union;

B.  whereas at its meeting of 26 October 2017 the Committee on Budgetary Control heard the Council’s nominee for membership of the Court of Auditors;

1.  Delivers a favourable opinion on the Council’s nomination of Bettina Jakobsen as a Member of the Court of Auditors;

2.  Instructs its President to forward this decision to the Council and, for information, the Court of Auditors, the other institutions of the European Union and the audit institutions of the Member States.


Nomination of a member of the Court of Auditors – João Alexandre Tavares Gonçalves de Figueiredo
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European Parliament decision of 15 November 2017 on the nomination of João Alexandre Tavares Gonçalves de Figueiredo as a Member of the Court of Auditors (C8-0333/2017 – 2017/0817(NLE))
P8_TA(2017)0435A8-0343/2017

(Consultation)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to Article 286(2) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, pursuant to which the Council consulted Parliament (C8-0333/2017),

–  having regard to Rule 121 of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgetary Control (A8-0343/2017),

A.  whereas Parliament’s Committee on Budgetary Control proceeded to evaluate the credentials of the nominee, in particular in view of the requirements laid down in Article 286(1) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union;

B.  whereas at its meeting of 26 October 2017 the Committee on Budgetary Control heard the Council’s nominee for membership of the Court of Auditors;

1.  Delivers a favourable opinion on the Council’s nomination of João Alexandre Tavares Gonçalves de Figueiredo as a Member of the Court of Auditors;

2.  Instructs its President to forward this decision to the Council and, for information, the Court of Auditors, the other institutions of the European Union and the audit institutions of the Member States.


Nomination of a member of the Court of Auditors – Iliana Ivanova
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European Parliament decision of 15 November 2017 on the nomination of Iliana Ivanova as a Member of the Court of Auditors (C8-0334/2017 – 2017/0818(NLE))
P8_TA(2017)0436A8-0344/2017

(Consultation)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to Article 286(2) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, pursuant to which the Council consulted Parliament (C8‑0334/2017),

–  having regard to Rule 121 of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgetary Control (A8-0344/2017),

A.  whereas Parliament’s Committee on Budgetary Control proceeded to evaluate the credentials of the nominee, in particular in view of the requirements laid down in Article 286(1) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union;

B.  whereas at its meeting of 26 October 2017 the Committee on Budgetary Control heard the Council’s nominee for membership of the Court of Auditors;

1.  Delivers a favourable opinion on the Council's nomination of Iliana Ivanova as a Member of the Court of Auditors;

2.  Instructs its President to forward this decision to the Council and, for information, the Court of Auditors, the other institutions of the European Union and the audit institutions of the Member States.


Protection against dumped and subsidised imports from countries not members of the EU ***I
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Resolution
Text
Annex
European Parliament legislative resolution of 15 November 2017 on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Regulation (EU) 2016/1036 on protection against dumped imports from countries not members of the European Union and Regulation (EU) 2016/1037 on protection against subsidised imports from countries not members of the European Union (COM(2016)0721 – C8-0456/2016 – 2016/0351(COD))
P8_TA(2017)0437A8-0236/2017

(Ordinary legislative procedure: first reading)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Commission proposal to Parliament and the Council (COM(2016)0721),

–  having regard to Article 294(2) and Article 207(2) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, pursuant to which the Commission submitted the proposal to Parliament (C8‑0456/2016),

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

–  having regard to the resolution of the European Parliament of 12 May 2016 on China’s market economy status(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 11 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 International Trade and the opinion of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (A8-0236/2017),

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

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

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

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

Position of the European Parliament adopted at first reading on 15 November 2017 with a view to the adoption of Regulation (EU) 2017/… of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Regulation (EU) 2016/1036 on protection against dumped imports from countries not members of the European Union and Regulation (EU) 2016/1037 on protection against subsidised imports from countries not members of the European Union

(As an agreement was reached between Parliament and Council, Parliament's position corresponds to the final legislative act, Regulation (EU) 2017/2321.)

ANNEX TO THE LEGISLATIVE RESOLUTION

Commission declaration on transition

The Commission recalls that the purpose of the new methodology is to maintain the continued protection of the Union industry against unfair trade practices, in particular those arising from significant market distortions. In that respect, the Commission will ensure that the Union industry incurs no additional burden when seeking protection under the anti-dumping instrument, in particular in the context of potential expiry reviews requests lodged after the entry into force of the new methodology.

Commission declaration on Article 23 and interaction with European Parliament and Council

The Commission shall inform the European Parliament and the Council whenever it intends to produce or update a report pursuant to Article 2(6a)(c) of the Basic Regulation. Where the European Parliament or the Council inform the Commission that they consider that the conditions for producing or updating a report pursuant to Article 2(6a)(c) of the Basic Regulation are met, the Commission will take the appropriate action and inform the European Parliament and the Council accordingly.

Commission declaration concerning the reports pursuant to Article 2(6a)c of the Basic Regulation

The Commission will swiftly make use of the possibility foreseen under Article 2(6a)c of the Basic Regulation to produce reports on significant distortions, so that interested parties have those reports at their disposal when preparing submissions to which Article 2(6a) of the Basic Regulation may apply. It will provide guidance to interested parties on the use of those reports.

(1) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0223.


Rule of law in Malta
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European Parliament resolution of 15 November 2017 on the rule of law in Malta (2017/2935(RSP))
P8_TA(2017)0438B8-0597/2017

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to Articles 2, 4, 5, 6, 9 and 10 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU),

–  having regard to Article 20 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU),

–  having regard to Articles 6, 7, 8, 10, 11, 12 and 47 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union,

–  having regard to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and the related case law of the European Court of Human Rights,

–  having regard to its resolution of 16 January 2014 on EU citizenship for sale(1),

–  having regard to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and to the numerous UN human rights treaties which are binding on all the Member States,

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 11 March 2014 entitled ‘A new EU Framework to strengthen the Rule of Law’ (COM(2014)0158),

–  having regard to the plenary debate on media freedom in Malta of 24 October 2017,

–  having regard to the Panama Papers and Malta Files revelations made by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and the European Investigative Collaborations network,

–  having regard to its resolution of 25 October 2016 with recommendations to the Commission on the establishment of an EU mechanism on democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights(2),

–  having regard to its resolution of 24 October 2017 on legitimate measures to protect whistle-blowers acting in the public interest when disclosing the confidential information of companies and public bodies(3),

–  having regard to the report and recommendations of the Committee of Inquiry to investigate alleged contraventions and maladministration in the application of Union law in relation to money laundering, tax avoidance and tax evasion (the PANA Committee), and the report’s annex on the Committee’s mission to Malta,

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

A.  whereas the European Union is founded on the values of respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, and whereas these values are universal and common to the Member States;

B.  whereas the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union is part of EU primary law; whereas freedom of expression and freedom and pluralism of the media are enshrined in Article 11 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Article 10 of the ECHR; whereas, in accordance with Article 2, Article 3(1) and Article 7 of the TEU, the Union has the possibility to act in order to protect the common values on which it was founded; whereas the rule of law mechanism should be applied with equal strength to all Member States;

C.  whereas the EU is a constitutional system that functions on the presumption of mutual trust, namely that Member States will act in conformity with democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights;

D.  whereas the independence of the judiciary is enshrined in Article 47 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Article 6 of the ECHR, and is an essential requirement of the democratic principle of separation of powers;

E.  whereas the Maltese anti-corruption investigative journalist and blogger Daphne Caruana Galizia was assassinated in a car bomb attack on 16 October 2017;

F.  whereas this assassination led to street demonstrations and civil society protests in Malta calling for justice, accountability and respect for the rule of law;

G.  whereas the Media Pluralism Monitor’s 2016 Country Report on Malta identified medium (close to high) levels of risk with regard to market plurality and political independence, and identified risk-increasing factors relating to lack of data on the media market, lack of protection and self-regulation of journalists and editorial autonomy, direct political ownership of media outlets and lack of media literacy policy(4);

H.  whereas the 2017 World Press Freedom Index (published by Reporters Without Borders) identifies Malta’s defamation laws, which are punishable by fines or imprisonment and broadly used, especially by politicians, against journalists, as a key factor limiting freedom of expression in Malta(5);

I.  whereas the Maltese Parliament is currently discussing a bill proposed by the Maltese Government which abolishes criminal libel and introduces an ad hoc prohibition on recourse to any form of precautionary orders or warrants in actions for libel or defamation under any law(6);

J.  whereas Daphne Caruana Galizia was facing numerous libel charges brought by political representatives from across the political spectrum in Malta;

K.  whereas Ms Caruana Galizia had her bank accounts frozen this year by a court order issuing precautionary warrants relating to a libel case brought by a government minister, before the outcome of the case had been reached;

L.  whereas media outlets in Malta have reported coming under severe pressure from Pilatus Bank, which is at the centre of money-laundering allegations, to retract or remove stories concerning that bank; whereas Pilatus Bank has commenced legal action in the USA against Maltese media for tarnishing its reputation; whereas a leaked Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit (FIAU) compliance report reveals that Pilatus Bank’s clients are predominantly Politically Exposed Persons from Azerbaijan, but that the bank did not apply enhanced customer due diligence to these clients as required by the Anti-Money Laundering Directive (AMLD); whereas a government MP has called for an investigation into the FIAU whistle-blower;

M.  whereas prior to the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia, a whistle-blower at the centre of corruption and money-laundering allegations involving Politically Exposed Persons in Malta fled the country;

N.  whereas the Maltese Government has implemented the Protection of the Whistleblower Act, 2013(7), and is one of a minority of EU Member States which have enshrined dedicated whistle-blower protection measures in law;

O.  whereas under the Constitution and laws of Malta, the Police Commissioner is appointed by the Prime Minister, the Attorney-General is appointed by the President on the advice of the Prime Minister, and members of the judiciary are, as from 2017, appointed after a committee has scrutinised judicial nominees prior to their appointment(8); whereas the independence of law enforcement and the judiciary in Malta may be compromised by the fact that the government is empowered to appoint the Police Commissioner, the head of the FIAU and the Attorney-General;

P.  whereas various media reports note that a large number of jobs in Maltese public companies were created a few weeks before the June 2017 elections, raising concerns as to whether this was done for electoral motives;

Q.  whereas Malta refused to join the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO), the independent Union body with the authority to investigate and prosecute EU fraud and other crimes affecting the Union’s financial interests;

R.  whereas the Panama Papers revelations from April 2016 showed that a total of 714 companies linked to Malta are listed in the Panama Papers database of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists; whereas these documents included revelations regarding a current minister and a former minister from the previous administration, and high-ranking officials;

S.  whereas the European Parliament organised a delegation visit to Malta in February 2017 in the framework of its inquiry into the Panama Papers; whereas this delegation concluded in its mission report that there are reasons to believe that the Maltese police force is not well equipped to fulfil its task optimally, possibly suggesting a case of maladministration; whereas this delegation noted that the number of convictions and confiscations related to money laundering in Malta seems extremely low in relation to the on-average number of reports sent to the police by the FIAU; whereas a government official and a former minister refused the PANA Committee’s request to meet during this mission;

T.  whereas two confidential reports from the FIAU in Malta, dated 2016, were published in May 2017 and concluded that there was reasonable suspicion of money laundering related to a government official; whereas a third report, published at the same time, detailed the on-site inspection carried out by the FIAU at Pilatus Bank and allegedly found the bank in violation of Malta’s anti-money laundering legislation; whereas Pilatus Bank’s licensing process has been expeditious compared with the average time required to ensure compliance with standards laid down in the Capital Requirements Directive;

U.  whereas the head of the FIAU and the Police Commissioner, which are both positions directly filled by the Government, resigned shortly after the completion of these reports; whereas no police investigation was launched into these serious allegations of money laundering by Politically Exposed Persons, including a member of the Government; whereas magistrates were appointed on the above-mentioned cases; whereas two FIAU staff were laid off after the leak of the FIAU reports in the press;

V.  whereas the European Commission was informed of these allegations in June 2017 at least, with a request to hold a further inquiry into Malta and its respect for, and adequate implementation of, the third AMLD and the Capital Requirements Directive;

W.  whereas EU citizenship is one of the EU’s major achievements and whereas, according to the Treaties, matters of residency and citizenship fall within the exclusive competences of the Member States; whereas the EU has the power to monitor anti-corruption practices by Member States;

X.  whereas it is confirmed in settled case law of the Court of Justice of the European Union that it is for each Member State, having due regard to Union law, to lay down the conditions for acquisition and loss of nationality; whereas since the entry into force of the Treaty of Maastricht, granting Member State nationality also means granting EU citizenship and hence strong additional rights, meaning that naturalisation decisions by a Member State are not neutral with regard to other Member States and the EU;

Y.  whereas the Maltese Government created an Individual Investor Programme in 2014 which sells Maltese and EU citizenship to third-country nationals at a price of EUR 650 000; whereas the list of recipients of this citizenship remains unclear as they are not identified in the published list of naturalised citizens; whereas a leaked FIAU report from 2016 raised concerns about possible corruption in the administration of this programme;

Z.  whereas management of this Individual Investor Programme was awarded by the government to Nexia BT, an intermediary named in the Panama Papers as the initiator of trusts and offshore companies for Maltese Politically Exposed Persons, including a member of the Government; whereas the Panama Papers suggest that Nexia BT has acted with a lack of due diligence in providing all the information necessary to identify beneficial ownership;

AA.  whereas the report by Europol’s Financial Intelligence Group, entitled ‘From suspicion to action – converting financial intelligence into greater operational impact’, highlights that certain parties, including criminal organisations, have abused aspects of Malta’s internet-based industries to launder the proceeds of crime; whereas this should not be interpreted as being reflective of the industry as a whole;

1.  Strongly condemns the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia and calls on the Maltese Government to deploy all necessary resources to bring her murderers to justice;

2.  Calls for an independent international investigation into the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia; acknowledges the Maltese authorities’ moves to invite the participation of international law enforcement bodies, including the US Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Dutch forensic specialists in this regard; calls for the full involvement of Europol in the investigation for its duration;

3.  Notes that the protection of investigative journalists and whistle-blowers is in the vital interests of society; calls on the Maltese authorities, and all EU Member States, to ensure the protection of journalists’ and whistle-blowers’ personal safety and livelihoods;

4.  Calls on the Conference of Presidents to create a ‘European Daphne Caruana Galizia prize for investigative journalism’, to be awarded annually for outstanding investigative journalism in Europe;

5.  Regrets that developments in Malta in recent years have led to serious concerns about the rule of law, democracy and fundamental rights, including freedom of the media and the independence of the police and the judiciary;

6.  Calls on the Commission to establish a dialogue with the Maltese Government regarding the functioning of the rule of law in Malta and to ensure respect for European values; calls on the Commission to keep Parliament fully informed of its assessment; reiterates the need for a regular process of monitoring and dialogue involving all Member States in order to safeguard the EU’s fundamental values of democracy, fundamental rights and the rule of law, involving the Council, the Commission and Parliament, as put forward in its resolution of 25 October 2016 on the establishment of an EU mechanism on democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights (the DRF Pact);

7.  Regrets that several serious allegations of corruption and breach of anti-money laundering and banking supervision obligations have not been investigated by the police in Malta, which represents a threat to the rule of law in this Member State; acknowledges that there are several magisterial inquiries under way regarding some of these allegations; specifically regrets the fact that there has been no police investigation to date in Malta into the revelations regarding the Panama Papers and Politically Exposed Persons in the leaked FIAU reports, and notes that some of those named in the FIAU reports remain part of the government; calls on the Maltese Police Commissioner to open such an investigation;

8.  Notes the comments made by Malta’s Chief Justice in regard to the rule of law and supports his assertion that without proper law enforcement the rule of law in Malta cannot be safeguarded(9);

9.  Expresses concern at the report drawn up by the PANA Committee following its visit to Malta, stating that the public institutions in charge of compliance, fraud and financial crime are highly politicised;

10.  Calls on the Commission to verify whether Malta is in compliance with the third AMLD and the Capital Requirements Directive; notes that Malta is one of several Member States against which the Commission took initial infringement action for failing to transpose the fourth AMLD by the deadline of 26 June 2017; acknowledges that this transposition is under way;

11.  Calls on the Maltese authorities to join the EPPO in order to work together with other participating Member States against EU fraud and other crimes affecting the Union’s financial interests;

12.  Calls on the Maltese supervisory and judiciary authorities to investigate the licensing process of Pilatus Bank, in particular regarding fulfilment of the fit and proper requirements for the management body of financial institutions, as mentioned in the Capital Requirements Directive, and to investigate the compliance of Nexia BT with the AMLD;

13.  Reiterates the frequently expressed concern by members of this House about Citizenship by Investment Schemes in general, including in Malta and other EU Member States; calls on Malta to make it clear who has purchased a Maltese passport and all the rights that come with it, and what safeguards are in place to ensure that all these new citizens have actually spent a year in Malta prior to the purchase; calls on the Commission to monitor such citizenship programmes in Member States, as the latter must have due regard for EU law when exercising their competence in the area of nationality;

14.  Calls on Malta and all the other Member States to ensure that the fight against tax evasion is given priority and that all necessary resources are dedicated to this cause;

15.  Regrets the decision by the Commission not to publish the EU anti-corruption report in 2017;

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

(1) OJ C 482, 23.12.2016, p. 117.
(2) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0409.
(3) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0402.
(4) Nenadic, Iva, 2016. ‘Media Pluralism Monitor 2016 – Monitoring Risks for Media Pluralism in the EU and Beyond. Country report: Malta’. Centre for Media Pluralism and Media Freedom. Available to download at http://cmpf.eui.eu/media-pluralism-monitor/mpm-2016-results/malta/
(5) See https://rsf.org/en/malta.
(6) Government of Malta, ‘A Bill entitled “AN ACT to provide for the updating of the regulation of media and defamation matters and for matters consequential or ancillary thereto”’, Article 26(6). See: http://justiceservices.gov.mt/DownloadDocument.aspx?app=lp&itemid=28292&l=1
(7) See: http://www.justiceservices.gov.mt/DownloadDocument.aspx?app=lp&itemid=25151&l=1
(8) Act No XLIV of 2016, Article 5 (96A): http://www.justiceservices.gov.mt/DownloadDocument.aspx?app=lp&itemid=27835&l=1
(9) http://www.independent.com.mt/articles/2017-10-02/local-news/Chief-Justice-boldly-speaks-out-about-rule-of-law-need-for-proper-law-enforcement-6736179695


Multilateral negotiations in view of the 11th WTO Ministerial Conference
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European Parliament resolution of 15 November 2017 on multilateral negotiations in view of the 11th WTO Ministerial Conference in Buenos Aires, 10-13 December 2017 (2017/2861(RSP))
P8_TA(2017)0439B8-0593/2017

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Doha Ministerial Declaration of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) of 14 November 2001(1),

–  having regard to the Hong Kong Ministerial Declaration of the WTO of 18 December 2005(2),

–  having regard to its previous resolutions on the Doha Development Agenda (DDA), in particular those of 9 October 2008(3), 16 December 2009(4), 14 September 2011(5), 21 November 2013(6) and 26 November 2015(7),

–  having regard to the results of the 9th Ministerial Conference held in Bali in December 2013, and in particular the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA)(8),

–  having regard to the results of the 10th Ministerial Conference held in Nairobi in December 2015 and the Ministerial Declaration adopted on 19 December 2015(9),

–  having regard to the Outcome Document adopted by consensus on 14 June 2016 at the Annual Session of the Parliamentary Conference on the WTO in Geneva(10),

–  having regard to the UN Sustainable Development Goals(11),

–  having regard to the 6th Global Review of Aid for Trade, which took place in Geneva from 11 to 13 July 2017(12),

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

A.  whereas since its creation, the WTO has played a pivotal role in strengthening multilateralism, promoting an inclusive world economic order and fostering an open, rule-based and non-discriminatory multilateral trading system; whereas the Doha Round was launched in 2001 with the objectives of creating new trading opportunities, strengthening multilateral trade rules and addressing current imbalances in the trading system by placing the needs and interests of developing countries, and especially of the least developed countries (LDCs), at the heart of the negotiations;

B.  whereas the EU has consistently advocated a strong multilateral rule-based approach to trade, while recognising that complementary approaches such as bilateral, regional and plurilateral agreements may also foster trade opening and economic development, especially by unlocking liberalisation and upgrading rules and disciplines in policy areas tackled less thoroughly by the WTO, and may support the multilateral system, provided that such agreements are WTO compatible, are based on shared rules and create the conditions for possible future multilateralisation;

C.  whereas the results of the 9th Ministerial Conference in 2013 were of systemic importance, in particular the conclusion of the TFA, the most significant multilateral trade deal concluded since the establishment of the WTO in 1995;

D.  whereas certain WTO members are trying to undermine the current model of international trade dispute settlement; whereas the Appellate Body of the WTO is approaching the minimum number of judges it needs to function; whereas the US recently rejected proposals from the EU and some Latin American countries to begin a selection process to fill the growing number of vacancies; whereas this deadlock, which has already left two of the seven seats on the Appellate Body vacant, could lead to the collapse of a system that is essential to managing disputes among the world’s most powerful trading nations;

E.  whereas the outcomes achieved at the 10th Ministerial Conference in 2015 were also of major importance, with a series of six ministerial decisions on agriculture, cotton and issues related to LDCs, including a commitment to abolish export subsidies for farm exports, which is probably the most significant outcome on agriculture ever within the WTO;

F.  whereas recent discussions on how to advance on the DDA have clearly shown that WTO members have differing views as to how to proceed with the negotiations, which demonstrates that a review of the level of ambition is needed in order to realistically achieve outcomes across all pillars of the negotiations, and whereas this review needs to take full account of the reality of today’s trading environment;

G.  whereas the digital transformation of the economy opens up new channels for trade, facilitating the participation of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in world trade through e-commerce; whereas this is increasingly seen as a matter in which the WTO could play an important role;

H.  whereas the 11th WTO Ministerial Conference (MC11) will take place in Buenos Aires, Argentina, from 10 to 13 December 2017;

1.  Reiterates its full commitment to the enduring value of multilateralism and calls for a trade agenda based on free, fair and rule-based trade for the benefit of all, which supports the sustainable development agenda by giving primary importance to social, environmental and human rights, and ensuring that multilaterally agreed and harmonised rules are uniformly applied to all;

2.  Emphasises the need to build on the results agreed at the 9th and 10th Ministerial Conferences to take and guarantee substantive progressive steps at MC11 in Buenos Aires in December 2017, with a view to maintaining and strengthening the multilateral trade architecture; stresses that, despite this, the parties should pursue new policy objectives in areas such a digital trade and investment facilitation;

3.  Urges all WTO members to capitalise on the momentum created by recent progress, bearing in mind the strategic objective of strengthening the multilateral trading system and the need to consolidate the WTO as the centre of trade negotiations, while at the same time recognising that new approaches are necessary in order to face the current challenges; acknowledges that flexibility, openness, inclusiveness and political engagement will be key to advancing in a global, balanced and realistic way on the remaining issues of the DDA; takes the view that, since the Doha Round was launched in 2001, the world has changed dramatically in economic, political and technological terms, and that new challenges such as e-commerce, digital trade, investment transparency, subsidies and overcapacity, global value chains, public procurement, domestic regulation for services, micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) and greater compatibility between trade, labour and environmental agendas beyond the DDA need to be discussed, which can be done without prejudice to outstanding issues on the DDA; stresses the need to enable developing countries to find their own approaches for continuing to ensure equal opportunities in these new sectors;

4.  Underlines the importance of the WTO functioning as an efficient and effective negotiating forum on all issues of interest to its members and providing a platform for open discussion on global trade-related issues;

5.  Stresses the need to go to Buenos Aires with well advanced textual proposals in order to ensure more transparent and inclusive trade negotiations, as the Ministerial Conference should be thoroughly prepared for through negotiations at committee level; commends, in this regard, the advanced negotiations on issues such as fisheries subsidies as a way to combat overfishing and illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing;

6.  Takes note of the proposals put forward on domestic support in agriculture, including the joint proposal by the EU and Brazil; considers that moving the debate forward in this area could be a crucial outcome of MC11; reiterates, in this context, the need to find a permanent solution on public stockholding for food security purposes, cotton support and subsidies, in keeping with the Nairobi Ministerial Decision; stresses that the negotiations on this topic and their potential outcome must not take precedence over the discussions on the future of common agricultural policy;

7.  Reaffirms the importance of advancing negotiations and reaching outcomes on other issues raised by members, including: domestic regulation in services, e-commerce, investment facilitation, horizontal subsidies and improving transparency and good regulatory practices for the benefit of SMEs;

8.  Believes that the outcome of the 2017 Ministerial Conference should clearly recognise the importance of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals and of the Paris Agreement commitments in the fight against climate change and the role which trade can play in contributing towards their achievement, and that it must define concrete actions to be taken in this regard, given that global standards and a multilateral playing field are beneficial for global trade;

9.  Reaffirms the links between gender equality and inclusive development, emphasising that women’s empowerment is key to the eradication of poverty and that removing barriers to women’s participation in trade is critical for economic development; acknowledges the need to develop interventions that address the range of barriers that limit opportunities for women in the economy; calls on WTO members to include a work programme to ensure that gender-aware trade policy features among the outcomes of the 2017 Ministerial Conference;

10.  Draws attention to the 6th Global Review of Aid for Trade held in July 2017 in Geneva, entitled ‘promoting trade, inclusiveness and connectivity for sustainable development’ and which focused on the need to bridge the digital divide, among other things;

11.  Supports the view that this should be translated into concrete actions in order to facilitate e-commerce and turn digital opportunities into trade realities; underlines that better connectivity offers more business opportunities by making it easier and less costly, including for business people in MSMEs in developing countries, to access markets; notes, in this regard, that investment in infrastructure remains a key challenge and that it is crucial to achieve progress in this area; calls, therefore, on the WTO membership to promote investment in infrastructure, encouraging, among other initiatives, public-private partnerships;

12.  Highlights the importance of discussing possible trade policy answers to the increasing phenomenon of servicification in the field of trade in goods (‘mode 5’);

13.  Calls on the Commission to continue its efforts towards developing a set of binding multilateral disciplines on e-commerce in the WTO; supports the EU communication entitled ‘An enabling environment to facilitate online transactions’ presented to the Members of the Council for Trade in Services in June 2017, which provides a much-needed and timely set of common principles on consumer protection, unsolicited messages, authentication and trust services and electronic contracts, which would enhance the trust and confidence of consumers online and create an enabling environment for digital trade;

14.  Encourages the resumption of the plurilateral trade negotiations on the Environmental Goods Agreement;

15.  Welcomes the entry into force of the TFA on 22 February 2017; considers that this agreement will bring significant benefits to all WTO members, and in particular to developing countries and relevant economic operators, by enhancing transparency and legal certainty and reducing administrative costs and the length of customs procedures;

16.  Stresses the importance of all WTO members delivering on the decisions taken in both Nairobi and Bali, including the creation of new export opportunities for LDC service providers under the LDC services waiver and the simplification of regulations governing rules of origin; takes note of the growing interest among WTO members in a services facilitation agreement; calls for enhanced efforts at multilateral level to significantly simplify and harmonise rules of origin;

17.  Stresses the crucial importance of the WTO for the rule-based trading system and sees as critical the need to secure the implementation of its decisions, the enforcement of binding commitments and the settlement of trade disputes, as well as its unique contribution to promoting greater transparency and peer review, notably through the trade policy review mechanism (TPRM); expresses its utmost concern that several posts on the Appellate Body remain vacant, which severely constrains the work of this crucial body by threatening to undermine the current and proper functioning of the dispute settlement, and insists on a rapid decision on filling these posts;

18.  Stresses the need for a final MC11 declaration in which members could specify new areas and areas listed on the Doha Round agenda in which they will start and continue to negotiate;

19.  Calls on the Commission and the Council to ensure that Parliament continues to be closely involved in the preparation of MC11, and is promptly updated and consulted during the 2017 Ministerial Conference; calls on the Commission to continue to make the case to other WTO members for increasing the importance of the parliamentary dimension of the WTO;

20.  Calls on WTO members to ensure democratic legitimacy and transparency by strengthening the parliamentary dimension of the WTO; stresses, in this connection, the need to ensure that parliamentarians have better access to trade negotiations and are involved in the formulation and implementation of WTO decisions, and that trade policies are properly scrutinised in the interests of their citizens;

21.  Regrets that the Mini-Ministerial Conference of 9 and 10 October 2017 in Marrakesh did not lead to significant progress with a view to the MC11; calls on all parties to fully assume their own responsibilities and translate the willingness emerging from the political declarations into concrete actions in the negotiations, in order to achieve positive results at the MC11 in Buenos Aires and create a solid basis for further actions and decisions beyond the 2017 Ministerial Conference;

22.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the governments and parliaments of the Member States and the Director-General of the WTO.

(1) Doha Ministerial Declaration (WT/MIN(01)/DEC/1) of 14 November 2001 – https://www.wto.org/english/thewto_e/minist_e/min01_e/mindecl_e.htm
(2) Hong Kong Ministerial Declaration (WT/MIN(05)/DEC) of 18 December 2005 – https://www.wto.org/english/thewto_e/minist_e/min05_e/final_text_e.htm
(3) OJ C 9 E, 15.1.2010, p. 31.
(4) OJ C 286 E, 22.10.2010, p. 1.
(5) OJ C 51 E, 22.2.2013, p. 84.
(6) OJ C 436, 24.11.2016, p. 6.
(7) OJ C 366, 27.10.2017, p. 140.
(8) Bali Ministerial Declaration (WT/MIN(13)/DEC) of 7 December 2013 – https://www.wto.org/english/thewto_e/minist_e/mc9_e/balideclaration_e.htm
(9) Nairobi Ministerial Declaration (WT/MIN(15)/DEC) of 19 December 2015 – https://www.wto.org/english/thewto_e/minist_e/mc10_e/nairobipackage_e.htm
(10) http://www.ipu.org/splz-e/trade16/outcome.pdf
(11) http://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/sustainable-development-goals/
(12) https://www.wto.org/english/tratop_e/devel_e/a4t_e/gr17_e/gr17programme_e.htm


Eastern Partnership: November 2017 Summit
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European Parliament recommendation of 15 November 2017 to the Council, the Commission and the EEAS on the Eastern Partnership, in the run-up to the November 2017 Summit (2017/2130(INI))
P8_TA(2017)0440A8-0308/2017

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to Articles 2, 3 and 8 and to Title V, notably Articles 21, 22, 36 and 37, of the Treaty on European Union (TEU), as well as to Part Five of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU),

–  having regard to the launch of the Eastern Partnership in Prague on 7 May 2009 as a common endeavour of the EU and its eastern partners Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova und Ukraine,

–  having regard to the Joint Declarations of the Eastern Partnership Summits of 2011 in Warsaw, of 2013 in Vilnius and of 2015 in Riga,

–  having regard to the Declaration of the leaders of 27 Member States and of the European Council, the European Parliament and the European Commission adopted on 25 March 2017 in Rome,

–  having regard to the recommendations by and activities of the Euronest Parliamentary Assembly, of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum, and of the Committee of the Regions and the Conference of Regional and Local Authorities for the Eastern Partnership (CORLEAP),

–  having regard to the European Commission and European External Action Service (EEAS) communications on the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP), notably the 2017 report on the implementation of the ENP review (JOIN(2017)0018) and the 2017 revised working document entitled ‘Eastern Partnership – 20 Deliverables for 2020: Focusing on key priorities and tangible results’ (SWD(2017)0300), as well as the 2016 communication on the ‘Global Strategy for the European Union’s Foreign And Security Policy’,

–  having regard to the conclusions of the Foreign Affairs Council on the ENP and Eastern Partnership,

–  having regard to its recommendation of 5 July 2017 to the Council concerning the 72nd Session of the United Nations General Assembly(1), to its resolutions, notably those of 15 June 2017(2) on the case of Afgan Mukhtarli and the situation of the media in Azerbaijan, of 6 April 2017(3) and 24 November 2016(4) on the situation in Belarus, of 16 March 2017 on EU priorities for the UN Human Rights Council sessions in 2017(5), of 13 December 2016 on rights of women in the Eastern Partnership States(6), of 21 January 2016 on Association Agreements / Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Areas with Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine(7) and of 9 July 2015 on the review of the European Neighbourhood Policy(8),

–  having regard to the Joint Statement of the Parliaments of Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine of 3 July 2017,

–  having regard to Rule 113 of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Foreign Affairs (A8-0308/2017),

A.  whereas the Eastern Partnership is based on a shared commitment between Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine and the European Union to deepening their relations and adhering to international law and fundamental values, including democracy, the rule of law, respect for human rights, fundamental freedoms and gender equality, as well as to the social market economy, sustainable development and good governance;

B.  whereas the Eastern Partnership pursues the common goals of promoting stability, confidence-building and cooperation, supporting democratic reforms, good neighbourly relations, peaceful conflict resolution and regional cooperation, enhancing people-to-people contacts and boosting trade, in order to increase political dialogue and association as well as economic cooperation and integration;

C.  whereas, through its Global Strategy and the revised ENP, the EU seeks to bring its partners closer via accelerated political association and economic integration with the EU, while at the same time aiming to promote political stabilisation, societal resilience and economic prosperity in its neighbourhood, and offering opportunities for privileged political and economic relations in line with the degree of ambition of each partner country;

D.  whereas, given that the EU considers cooperation to be a value in itself and strongly believes that it leads to win-win situations for all parties concerned, there is a commitment on the side of the EU to continue to work with all Eastern Partnership countries as long as core European values are not questioned or undermined;

E.  whereas the EU and its partners need to match resources and instruments to the commitments made and whereas the partners need to focus more on the implementation of existing agreements;

F.  whereas the participants in the 2015 Riga Summit called for progress to be made by the time of the next Summit in the areas of (1) strengthening institutions and good governance, (2) mobility and people-to-people contacts, (3) economic development and market opportunities, and (4) connectivity, energy efficiency, the environment and climate change;

G.  whereas significant progress has been made since the last Summit, notably with the conclusion and entry into force of three Association Agreements (AAs) including a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA) with Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine, as well as visa-free regimes with Georgia and Ukraine since 2017 (and with Moldova since 2014), the conclusion of negotiations on a Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement with Armenia (which serves as an example of how membership of the Eurasian Economic Union and participation in the EU’s neighbourhood strategies can coexist), the launching of negotiations on a new comprehensive agreement with Azerbaijan, the adoption of major reforms in a number of these countries with the political, technical and financial support of the European Union, and the continuation of the critical engagement policy towards Belarus;

H.  whereas since the launch of the Eastern Partnership in Prague, some founding members have experienced an overall deterioration of the human rights situation and a reversal of democratisation trends; whereas one of the main challenges will be to facilitate the ongoing transition towards inclusive, accountable, stable and viable democracies;

I.  whereas increased mobility and the enhancement of people-to-people contacts between the partner countries and the EU remain an indispensable instrument for the promotion of European values;

J.  whereas a new strategic work plan proposed by the Commission and the EEAS that combines both bilateral and regional cooperation aims to guide the future work of the EU and the six partner countries by focusing on twenty deliverables by 2020;

K.  whereas the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of the EU’s eastern partners remains under threat from unresolved regional conflicts, including some that were initiated and are still actively sustained by the Russian Federation in contradiction with its international commitments to uphold the international legal order; whereas the EU should play a more active role in the peaceful resolution of all ongoing conflicts in its neighbourhood; whereas Russian aggression towards Ukraine, the annexation of the Crimean peninsula and the continued occupation of two Georgian regions, as well as Russian hybrid threats including destabilisation activities and propaganda, threaten European security as a whole;

L.  whereas the Eastern Partnership policy is based on the sovereign right of each partner to choose the level of ambition to which it aspires in its relations with the EU; whereas partners seeking closer relations with the EU should be able to count on more support and assistance in achieving mutually set goals if they fulfil existing reform commitments, in line with the ‘more for more’ principle;

1.  Recommends the following to the Council, the Commission and the European External Action Service:

On the future of the Eastern Partnership

On the implementation of the Eastern Partnership

   (a) to ensure that the November 2017 Summit will be forward looking, injecting new dynamism and setting a clear political vision for the future of the Eastern Partnership as a long-term policy; to ensure that the outcomes of this Summit will, as a first priority, provide the basis for upholding the core values of the European Union, in particular respect for democracy, human rights, fundamental freedoms, the rule of law, good governance, civil rights, non-discrimination and gender equality, on which the Eastern Partnership is based, underlining that these values are at the heart of the AAs and recognising the commitment of the partners concerned to implement and promote these values;
   (b) to live up to the high expectations of citizens in all the partner countries as regards eradicating corruption, fighting organised crime and bolstering the rule of law and good governance; to therefore seek a renewed commitment by the partners to adopt and fully implement reforms related to the judiciary, public administration and the fight against corruption and organised crime, on the basis of adequate roadmaps with clearly defined objectives and deadlines;
   (c) to strengthen civil society in the partner countries and its vital role within the Eastern Partnership, both as an indispensable actor in the process of democratic consolidation and as a platform for regional cooperation, by uncompromisingly opposing all legislation and measures that seek to curtail its legitimate activities and by encouraging its deeper involvement in drawing up, scrutinising and monitoring the implementation of reforms related to the Partnership as well as by promoting the transparency and accountability of public institutions;
   (d) to encourage electoral reforms that ensure that legal frameworks are in line with international standards, recommendations by OSCE-led international observation missions and Venice Commission opinions and that are achieved through a transparent process, and are the subject of broad consultation and, as far as possible, consensus with opposition and civil society, in order to improve electoral frameworks without any bias towards ruling parties; to ensure the strict application by the EU of existing conditionality related to electoral reforms;
   (e) to ensure that the outcomes of the November 2017 Summit take stock of what has already been achieved, emphasise the need to deliver on all commitments already made and provide a new impetus for the future of the Partnership including the delivery of tangible results for citizens, notably in terms of employment, reducing socioeconomic disparities, transport, connectivity, energy independence, mobility and education, noting that a new European External Investment Plan (EEIP) is an important instrument in this regard;
   (f) to pursue efforts aimed at tackling unemployment, especially youth unemployment, including through a package of support measures for young people such as the EU4Youth programme, and developing skills adapted to the evolving needs of the labour market, including through vocational education and training, fostering entrepreneurship and local industries, supporting sustainable agriculture, developing tourism and the digital economy, and expanding social infrastructure and the public and private services sector, inter alia in the field of health and care;
   (g) to promote and actively support the implementation of anti-discrimination policies in all sectors of society; to ensure gender equality in public policies and support for the employability and entrepreneurship of women, with policy continuity being guaranteed beyond the 2020 target date;
   (h) to commit to working jointly on increased mobility between the EU and partner countries; to support Moldova, Georgia and Ukraine in implementing the visa liberalisation agreement and to ensure that suspension mechanisms are not triggered in the future, notably through close cooperation in the areas of police and customs to safeguard against security threats, criminality and overstays; to open visa dialogues with Armenia, to encourage progress by Azerbaijan in the implementation of Visa Facilitation and Readmission Agreements (VFA/RA) with a view to opening a visa dialogue in the future, and to finalise negotiations on VFA/RA with Belarus for the benefit of its citizens, should these countries make significant progress in the area of fundamental values and meet the precise conditions defined in visa liberalisation action plans;
   (i) to further increase opportunities for closer cooperation in the fields of education, research and innovation, notably through facilitating participation in programmes such as Erasmus+, Spreading Excellence and Widening Participation and EU4Innovation as well as the provision of loan guarantees by the European Investment Bank Group as part of its InnovFin programme; to provide support in order to reform education and address the research and innovation gap;
   (j) to ensure that the outcomes of the November 2017 Summit will also provide a renewed impetus to boost sustainable economic growth, the modernisation of existing sectors, trade and investment opportunities, including intra-regional opportunities for cross-border cooperation and with a particular emphasis on entrepreneurship and Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs);
   (k) to call for recalibrated EU support to the Association agendas and to the related structural reforms, notably those allowing for improved competitiveness, a more favourable business environment and adequate access to sources of financing, including through the EU4Business initiative; to monitor closely the implementation of DCFTAs in order to avoid social and environmental dumping; to devise targeted assistance for SMEs to help them to fully absorb the potential of DCFTAs; to promote and support a genuine reform of the economic system aimed at phasing out monopolies and circumscribing the role of oligarchs through the introduction of adequate laws, as well as a major reform of the banking and financial sector aimed at combating money laundering and tax evasion;
   (l) to support the development of the necessary transport and connectivity infrastructure, including through an ambitious investment plan for the TEN-T core network, and to also promote intra-regional trade; to support infrastructure projects that will provide new opportunities for trade and enable more communication and exchanges between the EU and the partner countries as well as among the partners;
   (m) to improve both energy independence and efficiency through specific investments and the diversification of energy sources, in particular with regard to renewable energy and reducing dependence on fossil fuels, through strengthened cooperation in all priority areas covered by the EU Energy Union and closer integration of the partners’ energy markets with the European energy market, with a particular focus on interconnectivity and infrastructure; to ensure that onshore and offshore sections of new pipeline infrastructure within the region, including the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, are fully in line with EU legislation and the energy union strategy and that they do not undermine regional energy security; to work with the eastern partners to support the households most affected by rising energy prices;
   (n) to ensure full respect for international nuclear safety and environmental protection agreements and obligations; to increase efforts towards the fulfilment of climate change commitments, including through public awareness-raising and a gradual and sustainable phase-out of obsolete power plants in Armenia and Ukraine; to follow closely the development of new projects such as the nuclear power plant in Ostrovets, Belarus;
   (o) to ensure that the outcomes of the November 2017 Summit also address the security threats and conflicts that affect the independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity, fundamental human rights, and political, social and economic stability and development of the partners and of the region as a whole;
   (p) to commit to sustaining the unity of action among EU Member States in maintaining collective pressure on Russia, whose military presence in the region has nevertheless grown over the past years, in particular through strengthened targeted restrictive measures, to solving the conflict in eastern Ukraine through full and genuine implementation of the Minsk agreements and by maintaining the OSCE monitoring mission, to solving the conflict between Russia and Georgia through tangible outcomes of the Geneva International Discussions and full implementation by Russia of the 2008 ceasefire agreement, to re-establishing Ukraine’s full sovereignty in Crimea, and that of Georgia in its occupied territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia and of Moldova in Transnistria, to paying adequate attention to the dangerous ecological situation in eastern Ukraine, to supporting its partners in strengthening their resilience, and to putting an end to the additional threats of state-sponsored assassinations, cyber warfare, disinformation and other types of destabilisation;
   (q) to underline that the participation of an eastern partner in military exercises aimed at the EU and/or some of its partners, such as the Russian-led Zapad 2017 exercise in Belarus, is unacceptable; to ensure that a partner does not engage in such exercises again in the future;
   (r) to call for an immediate end to military hostilities between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces which unnecessarily claim the lives of civilians and soldiers whilst hampering socioeconomic development; to reaffirm support to the OSCE Minsk Group co-Chairs’ efforts to solve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and to their 2009 Basic Principles, which include territorial integrity, self-determination and the non-use of force; to call on Armenia and Azerbaijan to re-launch negotiations in good faith with a view to implementing these principles to solve the conflict, which cannot be solved using military force; to call on the Governments of Armenia and Azerbaijan to hold high-level talks and commit to genuine confidence-building measures and dialogue between Armenian and Azerbaijani civil society; to make the ratification of new agreements between the EU and each of the parties conditional on meaningful commitments to and substantial progress towards solving the conflict, such as maintaining the ceasefire and supporting the implementation of the 2009 Basic Principles;
   (s) to call for continued support to the work carried out by the EU and OSCE missions in Georgia, Moldova and eastern Ukraine as essential operations to ensure peace and security first and foremost for the benefit of the citizens on the ground; to ensure effective implementation of these missions’ mandates and urge Russia to guarantee their unimpeded access; to consider supporting the deployment of an armed OSCE police mission in eastern Ukraine; to reflect, jointly with the partner countries, on the prospect of an enhanced role for the EU in solving these conflicts, including by launching ambitious fully-fledged Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) missions tasked with enhancing security and stability;
   (t) to call on the EU’s partners to fully cooperate with the EU in tackling challenges such as illegal migration, terrorism, cybercrime, human trafficking, smuggling and illicit trade;
   (u) to consider, within the EaP policy, an attractive longer-term ‘EaP+’ model for associated countries that have made substantial progress in implementing AA/DCFTA-related reforms, that could eventually lead to joining the customs union, energy union, digital union and Schengen area, further EU internal market access, integration into EU transport networks, industrial partnerships, increased participation in other EU programmes and agencies, further cooperation in the field of the CSDP, and more immediate measures such as additional unilateral tariff preferences, a concrete timeframe for the abolition of roaming tariffs between the partners and the EU, and the development of high-capacity broadband; to open the ‘EaP+’ model to other Eastern Partnership countries once they are ready for such enhanced commitments and have made significant progress towards implementing mutually agreed reforms;
   (v) to consider, for non-associated countries, new means of supporting civil society, businesses, the academic and independent media communities and young people, including through additional funding and mobility partnerships;
   (w) to ensure that, in both cases, the common goals are both medium and long-term when necessary, encouraging some of the partner countries to move beyond the logic of electoral cycles to more strategic visions;
   (x) to reiterate the principle of differentiation and that the scope and depth of cooperation with the EU is determined by its ambitions and those of the partners, as well as by the pace and quality of reforms to be evaluated based on their full and effective implementation, notably as regards respect for democracy, human rights, fundamental freedoms, the rule of law and good governance;
   (y) to underline that the Eastern Partnership aims to create the necessary conditions for close political association and economic integration, including participation in EU programmes; to reiterate that AAs with Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine do not constitute the final goal in their relations with the EU; to acknowledge once again the European aspirations of these countries; to point out that, pursuant to Article 49 of the TEU and in line with the Rome Declaration of 25 March 2017, any European state may apply to become a member of the EU, provided it adheres to the Copenhagen criteria and the principles of democracy, that it respects fundamental freedoms and human rights including those of minority groups and that it upholds the rule of law; to urge the Member States, in this regard, to agree to an ambitious declaration for the 2017 Summit that sets relevant long-term goals;
   (z) to invite Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine to focus on the full implementation of the Association agendas in order to unlock all the opportunities available through the AAs, to engage also in the joint discussions on the progress, opportunities and challenges relating to the AA/DCFTA-related reforms; to reiterate the importance of genuine implementation of the abovementioned reforms for the future stability and development of the countries and the wellbeing of their societies; to reaffirm that the deepening of relations within the ‘EaP+’ model as well as any prospect of EU membership requires substantial progress in terms of the implementation of these reforms, notably as regards the rule of law, respect for human rights and good governance;
   (aa) to ensure that strict conditionality is always attached to current and further levels of cooperation and support for the partners, and that it is also observed; to underline that EU financial support to its partners will be conditional on concrete reform steps and their effective implementation, and that the EU’s incentive-based approach will continue to benefit those partners most engaged in ambitious reforms; to envisage paying out grants in smaller instalments to enable the EU to better respond to unexpected crises or a lack of reforms; to emphasise in particular that no comprehensive agreement will be ratified with a country that does not respect EU values, notably through the non-implementation of decisions by the European Court of Human Rights and the harassment, intimidation and persecution of human rights defenders, NGOs and journalists; to also highlight that clear benchmarks need to be met before any new dialogue on visa-free regimes is launched and concluded; to reiterate that backsliding on prior achievements will systematically lead to the suspension of agreements, including in the area of visa-free regimes and EU funding;
   (ab) to support the multilateral dimension of the Eastern Partnership as a means of increasing multilateral confidence-building, notably in conflict-affected areas, and creating opportunities for regional cooperation, including through transnational civil society platforms, cooperation between local and regional authorities, and cross-border projects such as people-to-people programmes involving intercultural dialogue and the younger generation as factors for change;
   (ac) to highlight the importance of communicating policies related to the Eastern Partnership coherently and effectively, internally as well as externally, and of providing communication activities tailored to specific regions, notably so as to bridge the knowledge gap as regards the EU and its relations with its partners; to acknowledge the excellent work done so far by the East StratCom Task Force and to support its activities with additional funding; to address the challenge of better information about the concrete benefits and goals of the Eastern Partnership, to target disinformation through fact-based and accessible quality information in all languages of the partner countries, and to ensure full respect for the freedom of expression;
   (ad) to maintain that EU support should be tailor-made to match the level of shared ambition regarding cooperation with each partner following the principles of both ‘more for more’ and ‘less for less’; to call in particular for the EU to align budgetary instruments such as the European Neighbourhood Instrument and the European Fund for Sustainable Development with political tasks and implementation strategies, notably within its annual and multiannual budgetary procedures;
   (ae) to welcome the Commission proposals to provide the partners with macro-financial assistance (MFA) while insisting on strict and effective conditionality attached to the proposals, notably in terms of upholding the rule of law (including an independent judiciary and multi-party parliamentary system), ensuring good governance (including combating corruption effectively), and defending human rights and the freedom of the media; to provide Parliament and the Council with a detailed written report every six months on the progress made in these three areas for partners already benefiting from such assistance; to call on the Commission to draw up new MFA programmes for partner countries that have successfully completed past programmes, to make systematic provision for the abovementioned conditionality in future proposals for such assistance, and to ensure that it is strictly applied, notably in the case of Moldova;
   (af) to ask the Commission, the European Investment Bank and other multilateral financial institutions to work towards the successful implementation of the Investment Plan for Europe and of a dedicated support mechanism for Eastern Partnership countries committed to implementing the AAs; to request the establishment of a trust fund for Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova based on the best practices of multi-donor instruments, while stressing that this trust fund should focus on private and public investments, in particular those in social and economic infrastructure and aimed at boosting investment absorptive capacity, and on the coordination of international financial institutions and international donor support on the ground; to consider holding a donors’ conference for Ukraine in support of the country’s humanitarian needs induced by the conflict in the East and the annexation of Crimea; to ensure that the use of all these funds is also strictly scrutinised in order to prevent any misuse;
   (ag) to reiterate its strong support for parliamentary input towards and scrutiny of the Eastern Partnership policy, notably as regards the impact of the policy on citizens’ lives; to enhance, in this respect, the role of the Euronest Parliamentary Assembly within the new multilateral architecture of the Eastern Partnership, as well as of the Parliamentary Association or Cooperation Committees (PAC/PCC) within the Association or Cooperation Councils; to welcome the Comprehensive Democracy Support Approach (CDSA) programmes that are being implemented; to invite parliamentarians from the partner countries to work together to scrutinise implementation and exchange best practices; to step up the involvement of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum in this process;
   (ah) to take note of Parliament’s resolve to increase its monitoring of the implementation of international agreements with the eastern partners and to increase its scrutiny of EU support provided in this respect; to respond to Parliament’s call on the partners and on the Commission to increase the transparency of all EU funding beneficiaries; to call on the Commission and the EEAS to transmit to Parliament and the Council a detailed written report on the implementation of these agreements every six months;
   (ai) to take note of Parliament’s resolve to increase its scrutiny of the negotiation of future international agreements with the eastern partners; to call on the Council to provide Parliament without delay with all relevant negotiating directives in line with the relevant Interinstitutional Agreement(9); to welcome the effective cooperation of the Commission and the EEAS with Parliament in providing information on these negotiations, but to call on them to also provide, without delay, the draft negotiating texts and initialled agreements, in line with the relevant Framework Agreement(10);

2.  Instructs its President to forward this recommendation to the Council, the European Commission and the European External Action Service, and, for information, to the EU Special Representative for the South Caucasus and the crisis in Georgia, the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly and the governments and parliaments of the Eastern Partnership countries.

(1) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0304.
(2) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0267.
(3) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0126.
(4) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0456.
(5) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0089.
(6) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0487.
(7) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0018.
(8) OJ C 265, 11.8.2017, p. 110.
(9) OJ C 95, 1.4.2014, p. 1.
(10) OJ L 304, 20.11.2010, p. 47.


Action Plan for nature, people and the economy
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European Parliament resolution of 15 November 2017 on an Action Plan for nature, people and the economy (2017/2819(RSP))
P8_TA(2017)0441B8-0589/2017

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Commission communication entitled ‘An Action Plan for nature, people and the economy’ (COM(2017)0198),

–  having regard to its resolution of 2 February 2016 on the mid-term review of the EU’s Biodiversity Strategy(1),

–  having regard to the Fitness Check of the EU Nature Legislation (Birds and Habitats Directives) (SWD(2016)0472),

–  having regard to the European Court of Auditors Special Report No 1/2017 entitled ‘More efforts needed to implement the Natura 2000 network to its full potential’,

–  having regard to the Commission report entitled ‘Reporting under the EU Habitats and Birds Directives 2007-2012: The State of Nature in the EU’,

–  having regard to the Eurostat biodiversity statistics of November 2016,

–  having regard to the Council conclusions of 19 June 2017 on the EU Action Plan for nature, people and the economy(2),

–  having regard to the question to the Commission on an Action Plan for nature, people and the economy (O-000067/2017 – B8‑0608/2017),

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

A.  whereas approximately only half of protected bird species and a smaller number of other protected species and habitats in the Union currently have good conservation status, and whereas only 50 % of all Natura 2000 sites have management plans with conservation objectives and measures;

B.  whereas the Nature Directives have an important role to play in helping achieve the targets of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on climate change;

C.  whereas the European Environment Agency assessment entitled ‘2015 State of Nature in the EU’ states that the main pressures and threats to terrestrial ecosystems reported by Member States are agriculture and the modification of natural conditions, and are the use of living resources (fishing) and pollution in the case of marine ecosystems; whereas all of these are human activities and have a profound and damaging impact on nature;

D.  whereas the 2016 Eurostat biodiversity statistics show an overall decline in all 167 of the EU’s common bird species between 1990 and 2014(3);

General remarks

1.  Welcomes the Action Plan for nature, people and the economy as a step in the right direction with regard to delivering the objectives of the Nature Directives;

2.  Notes, however, with concern that the targets of the EU’s 2020 Biodiversity Strategy and the CBD will not be met without immediate, substantial and additional efforts; underlines that the targets of the EU’s 2010 Biodiversity Strategy were not met;

3.  Observes that healthy and resilient ecosystems are better able to mitigate the effects of, and adapt to, climate change and hence limit global warming; notes that they are more resistant to extreme weather events and recover from them more easily, providing a wide range of benefits on which people depend;

4.  Observes that in Europe, almost one-quarter of wildlife species are now threatened with extinction and most ecosystems have deteriorated to such an extent that they are no longer able to fulfil their valuable functions; notes that this is resulting in enormous social and economic losses for the EU, since the main causes of biodiversity loss, that is to say the deterioration of habitats, the over-exploitation of natural resources, the introduction and propagation of invasive alien species and climate change, are on the increase, cancelling out the positive effects of initiatives intended to prevent this;

5.  Notes that the Action Plan aims to ‘accelerate progress toward the EU 2020 goal of halting and reversing the loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services’; considers it regrettable however that no other reference has been made to the 2020 Biodiversity Strategy or to the conclusions of its mid-term review;

6.  Reiterates the need for additional, substantial and continuous efforts to be made in order to achieve the 2020 targets, and calls on the Commission and the Member States to give this greater political priority;

7.  Stresses the need to ensure that Union nature legislation is fully and faithfully implemented;

8.  Stresses that substantial progress in cutting greenhouse gas emissions, air pollution and other pollutants, and in improving energy and material efficiency, must be complemented by further actions by Member States to fully apply agreed policies to better protect biodiversity, natural resources, and public health;

9.  Highlights the need to further integrate policies and knowledge in order to achieve the aim of living well, within the limits of our planet, which is the long-term vision of the 7th Environment Action Programme;

10.  Regrets the Action Plan’s limited time frame and calls on the Commission to commence work on the next biodiversity strategy without delay for the period post-2020;

Involvement of all actors

11.  Welcomes the four priority areas identified in the Action Plan and emphasises the need for the active involvement of all relevant actors at national, regional and local level so that the concrete actions to be taken can effectively tackle the shortcomings in the implementation of the Birds and Habitats Directives;

12.  Recalls that the European Court of Auditors stated in its Special Report No 1/2017 that coordination between the responsible authorities and other stakeholders in the Member States was not sufficiently developed;

13.  Calls on the Commission to provide effective support to national and regional actors in implementing nature legislation and in improving environmental inspections, including through competence and capacity building and better allocation of resources;

14.  Welcomes the fact that the Commission intends to update and further develop guidance documents in all EU official languages in order to promote greater understanding of the legislation on the ground and to help public authorities apply it correctly, and calls on the Commission in this regard to involve and consult all stakeholders in this process;

15.  Emphasises the role of civil society in ensuring better implementation of Union nature legislation, and the importance of the provisions of the Aarhus Convention in this regard;

16.  Calls on the Commission to come forward with a new legislative proposal on minimum standards for access to judicial review, and a revision of the Aarhus Regulation implementing the Convention as regards Union action in order to take account of the recent recommendation from the Aarhus Convention Compliance Committee;

17.  Welcomes the fact that, without jeopardising the conservation objectives and requirements laid down in the Nature Directives, flexible approaches to implementation that take into account specific national circumstances help reduce and progressively eliminate unnecessary conflicts and problems which have arisen between nature protection and socioeconomic activities, and also address the practical challenges resulting from the application of the annexes to the directives;

18.  Calls on the Commission to clarify the role of the Committee of the Regions with regard to raising awareness and promoting local involvement and exchanges of knowledge;

Protected species and habitats

19.  Underlines that Member States must ensure that there is no deterioration of Natura 2000 areas and must implement conservation measures in order to maintain or restore the favourable conservation status of protected species and habitats;

20.  Calls for the Nature Directives to be fully implemented in order to ensure that conservation actions that are taken are in line with the latest technical and scientific progress;

21.  Regrets the fact that the Action Plan does not set out a priority strategy and concrete actions with a view to improving: pollinator protection, particularly with regard to efforts to tackle health risks and parasitic species (especially Varroa), coordination of research work, harmonisation of analysis methods, and sharing of scientific data on pollinators at European level, as requested in an earlier European Parliament resolution;

22.  Urges the Commission once again to come forward with an EU strategy to protect and conserve threatened pollinators that comprehensively addresses in a cross-cutting way the fundamental issue of the depressing mortality rates of pollinators in Europe, particularly bees, which provide inestimable environmental and economic services;

23.  Proposes that measures against Varroa should be mandatory at EU level, that bee-keeper training in bee protection methods should be supported, and that local and regional authorities, as well as farmers and all other citizens, should be encouraged to promote the development of plant species, especially flowering plants, in rural and urban areas in order to increase the availability of melliferous plants;

24.  Recalls that the illegal killing of birds and particularly of migratory species in the Mediterranean, as well as of birds of prey in some Member States, remains a cause for concern; stresses the need for a plan coordinated at European level, on the basis of scientific data, to manage migratory bird species passing through more than one Member State;

25.  Calls for the Invasive Alien Species (IAS) Regulation to be fully and effectively implemented and for the EU budget for this to be adequately financed; stresses that the inclusion of a species on the List of Invasive Alien Species of Union concern must be based on a standardised and harmonised risk assessment; considers that the management of IAS is an urgent priority, especially in Natura 2000 sites; welcomes the online platform, European Alien Species Information Network (EASIN), which facilitates access to data on alien species;

26.  Stresses that protecting our shared natural environment in Europe is essential for both our economies and well-being, that the Natura 2000 network is estimated to have an economic value of EUR 200-300 billion annually and can generate income for local communities through tourism and recreation, and that healthy ecosystems provide essential services such as fresh water, carbon storage, pollinating insects, and protection against floods, avalanches and coastal erosion(4); points out therefore that investing in the Natura 2000 network makes sound economic sense;

27.  Recalls that the Natura 2000 network marine sites are significantly less well established than the terrestrial sites; calls on the Member States concerned to address this and on the Commission to facilitate the necessary cooperation with third countries to improve environmental protection in marine areas;

28.  Welcomes the action aimed at integrating ecosystem services into decision-making; regrets, however, the absence of a concrete No Net Loss of Biodiversity Initiative in the Action Plan;

Links with other policy areas

29.  Stresses the urgent need to take action to deal with the main causes of biodiversity loss, namely habitat destruction and degradation arising primarily from excessive consumption of land, pollution, intensive farming, use of synthetic chemical pesticides, the spread of alien species and climate change, and also stresses the need to ensure coherence among the EU’s various policies;

30.  Highlights that the ‘Fitness Check’ stresses the need to improve coherence with the common agricultural policy (CAP), and underlines the worrying decline in species and habitats linked to agriculture; calls on the Commission to carry out an evaluation of the impact of the CAP on biodiversity;

31.  Reiterates that one of the six key priorities for rural development in the EU is the restoration, preservation and enhancement of ecosystems related to agriculture and forestry, including in Natura 2000 areas; recalls the numerous efforts made by those involved in agriculture, particularly in connection with the implementation of the greening measures introduced when the CAP was revised in 2013;

32.  Reaffirms its call on the Commission and on the Member States to ensure that the funds under the CAP are redirected from subsidising activities associated with biodiversity decline to financing environmentally sustainable agricultural practices and maintaining connected biodiversity;

33.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States furthermore, in cooperation with land owners and users, to investigate the possibility of ‘green and blue services’ (landscape, nature and water management) in return for payment based on market rates;

34.  Notes that species that are designated as requiring special protection in the Habitats Directive have in some regions of Europe attained good conservation status and could thus endanger other wild species and domestic animals, thereby disturbing the natural balance of the ecosystem; calls on the Commission to develop an assessment procedure to enable the protection status of species in particular regions to be amended as soon as the desired conservation status is reached;

35.  Recalls that the coexistence of people and large carnivores, particularly wolves, can have negative impacts in certain regions on the sustainable development of ecosystems and inhabited rural areas, particularly with regard to traditional agriculture and sustainable tourism, and on other socio-economic activities; calls on the Commission and the Member States to take concrete measures to address these issues, so as not to endanger the sustainable development of rural areas, while recognising the available flexibility within the Habitats Directive;

36.  Calls on the Commission to support measures such as training for farmers regarding the protection of livestock against large carnivores and sharing best practices on livestock protection across Member States;

37.  Regrets that the CAP has not been developed to protect the disappearing traditional agricultural practice of pastoralism, which is an important historical tool for habitat management and nature conservation; calls for the Action Plan to support a development framework for pastoralism in the Natura 2000 network;

38.  Calls on the Commission to consider especially adaptive harvest management as a best practice tool to sustainably manage those waterbird populations that are sufficiently abundant within the EU and to conserve those which are in decline;

39.  Underlines that significant biodiversity losses occur in marine areas and believes that the common fisheries policy (CFP) should promote biodiversity and sustainable consumption and production patterns; calls for an evaluation of the impact of the CFP on biodiversity;

Funding

40.  Welcomes the European Court of Auditors report on the Natura 2000 network and concurs with its assessment that EU funds have not been mobilised sufficiently to support the management of the network;

41.  Underlines that the funding of the Natura 2000 areas is mainly the responsibility of the Member States and emphasises the fact that a lack of funding is likely to have contributed the most to the gaps in the implementation of the Nature Directives, as stated in the ‘Fitness Check’;

42.  Underlines that the possibility of establishing new financial mechanisms for biodiversity conservation with a view to achieving the 2020 targets is unlikely given the time frame of the current multiannual financial framework (MFF); calls for maximum use to be made of existing means, including L’Instrument Financier pour l’Environnement (LIFE), the CAP and structural funds;

43.  Welcomes the upcoming Commission proposal to increase the nature and biodiversity envelope by 10 % under the LIFE programme;

44.  States that more preparatory work is needed in view of the next MFF in terms of both reviewing and forecasting, in order to ensure adequate financing for nature conservation, biodiversity, and sustainable agriculture in Natura 2000 sites; considers that a comprehensive review of past spending, highlighting lessons learnt in terms of the performance of past measures, would be key in this regard;

45.  Calls for new financial mechanisms for biodiversity conservation to be included in the next MFF; calls on the Commission to ensure that future financial instruments for agriculture, rural and regional development contain dedicated envelopes for biodiversity and management of the Natura 2000 network, which are co-managed by national and regional environmental authorities;

46.  Calls on the Commission to tailor funding schemes more effectively to the Natura 2000 objectives and to establish cross-cutting Natura 2000 performance indicators for all relevant EU funds; calls on the Commission to also establish a tracking mechanism for Natura 2000 spending in order to improve transparency, accountability and effectiveness, and to integrate these into the next MFF;

47.  Reiterates that the Natura 2000 programme is customarily funded through co-financing; calls on the Member States to increase their Natura 2000 funding substantially, in order for co-financing to be set at more attractive rates and to improve uptake of the fund as a result, and for measures to be taken to reduce administrative burdens on applicants and project beneficiaries;

48.  Highlights the potential of public-private financing to develop ecosystem services, green infrastructure and other natural capital related areas and welcomes the fact that the Natural Capital Financing Facility (NCFF) will continue to support biodiversity-related projects for the 2017-2019 implementation period;

49.  Calls on the Commission to promote and propose means for the funding and the development of transboundary management plans for large carnivore species, and also calls for a detailed examination of the role of large carnivores and the possible introduction of adjustment measures to ensure that biodiversity, the agricultural landscape and the centuries-old practice of letting stock graze in mountain regions are maintained;

Green infrastructure

50.  Welcomes the commitment made in the Action Plan to provide guidance to support the development of green infrastructure for better connectivity of Natura 2000 areas, but reiterates its call for a genuine proposal for the development of a Trans-European Network for Green Infrastructure (TEN-G);

51.  States that it is important for the competent authorities in the Member States, with the involvement of all relevant stakeholders, to make better use of integrated spatial planning processes, to improve a horizontal understanding of TEN-G with sector-specific knowledge, and to enable the financing of increased connectivity, and green infrastructure in general, through rural development and regional development funds; notes that these criteria should guide the post-2020 MFF for planning infrastructure works; observes that the concept of green infrastructure also contributes to the establishment of a sustainable economy by maintaining the benefits of ecosystems while mitigating the adverse effects of transport and energy infrastructures;

52.  Observes that it is necessary to study the role of green infrastructure in mitigating the effects of natural disasters linked to meteorological and climatic changes, in particular extreme meteorological and climatic conditions that are the cause of some of the most devastating and deadly natural disasters in Europe and the world;

o
o   o

53.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Commission.

(1) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0034.
(2) http://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/press/press-releases/2017/06/19/conclusions-eu-action-plan-nature/pdf
(3) http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/statistics-explained/index.php/Biodiversity_statistics
(4) http://ec.europa.eu/environment/nature/pdf/state_of_nature_en.pdf


The situation of the rule of law and democracy in Poland
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European Parliament resolution of 15 November 2017 on the situation of the rule of law and democracy in Poland (2017/2931(RSP))
P8_TA(2017)0442B8-0595/2017

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the EU Treaties and in particular to Articles 2, 3, 4, 6 and 7 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU),

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

–  having regard to the Constitution of the Republic of Poland,

–  having regard to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and the related case law of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 11 March 2014 on a new EU framework to strengthen the rule of law (COM(2014)0158),

–  having regard to its resolution of 13 April 2016 on the situation in Poland(1),

–  having regard to its resolution of 14 September 2016 on recent developments in Poland and their impact on fundamental rights as laid down in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union(2),

–  having regard to the Commission’s Rule of Law Recommendation of 21 December 2016(3) complementing its recommendation of 27 July 2016, taking into account the latest developments in Poland in the light of the appointment of a new President of the Constitutional Tribunal,

–  having regard to the Commission’s third Rule of Law Recommendation of 26 July 2017(4), in which it expresses its grave concerns regarding the planned reform of the judiciary in Poland, which in the Commission’s assessment amplifies the systemic threat to the rule of law in Poland already identified in the rule of law procedure initiated by the Commission in January 2016,

–  having regard to the Polish Government’s response of 20 February 2017 rejecting the notion that there existed a systemic threat to the rule of law in Poland, and to the reported reply of the Polish Government of 29 August 2017 rejecting the Commission’s objections to reforms of the judiciary and challenging its competence to assess the justice system,

–  having regard to the infringement procedures launched by the Commission against Poland, including the procedure of 29 July 2017 and the reasoned opinion of 12 September 2017 concerning the Law on the Ordinary Courts Organisation, which stated that Polish Law is incompatible with EU law, notably with Article 157 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), Directive 2006/54/EC on gender equality in employment, and Article 19(1) of the TEU read in connection with Article 47 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights,

–  having regard to the exchanges of views held in its Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs with the Commission’s First Vice-President, Frans Timmermans, on 22 March, 31 August and 6 November 2017,

–  having regard to the exchanges of views held at the meetings of the General Affairs Council of 16 May 2017 and 25 September 2017 on the rule of law in Poland,

–  having regard to the opinion of 14 October 2016 of the Venice Commission on the Act on the Constitutional Tribunal, and to the statement of 24 January 2017 by the president of the Venice Commission expressing his deep concern over the ‘worsening situation’ in Poland,

–  having regard to the removal on 18 May 2017 from the Constitutional Tribunal’s website and its online legal database of the three verdicts which concerned the following judgments: 9 March 2016, K 47/15 (declaring that the changes adopted by the Polish Parliament to the act on the Constitutional Tribunal are unconstitutional), 11 August 2016,K 39/16 (contesting the legality of the main provisions of the second act amending the functioning of the Constitutional Tribunal) and 7 November 2016, K 44/16 (on the legality of the appointment of the chair and vice-chair of the Constitutional Tribunal),

–  having regard to the adoption in June and July 2017 by the Polish Parliament of four laws reforming the judiciary, namely: the law amending the law on the National School of Judiciary and Public Prosecution, the law on Ordinary Courts Organisation and certain other laws (‘law on the National School of Judiciary’); the law amending the law on the National Council for the Judiciary and certain other laws (‘law on the National Council for the Judiciary’); the law amending the law on the Ordinary Courts Organisation (‘law on Ordinary Courts Organisation’); and the law on the Supreme Court, which raised serious concerns regarding violation of the separation of powers and the end of the independence of the judiciary,

–  having regard to the letter from the President of the European Parliament of 18 July 2017 expressing the concerns of the great majority of political group leaders in Parliament regarding the laws adopted reforming the judiciary,

–  having regard to the decision of the Polish President of 27 July 2017 to veto two controversial laws which had been passed by the Polish Parliament earlier that month and which seriously threatened judicial independence in Poland,

–  having regard to the two proposals by the Polish President regarding the National Council for the Judiciary and the Supreme Court, which raise concerns as to whether they are in line with the Polish Constitution, and which do not address the problems related to the separation of powers or the independence of the judiciary,

–  having regard to the decision of the Polish Constitutional Tribunal of 24 October 2017 ruling that the rules for electing the Presidents of the Supreme Court and of the General Assembly of the Judges of the Supreme Court are unconstitutional,

–  having regard to the temporary order issued by the Court of Justice of the EU on 27 July 2017 in Case C-441/17 to stop large-scale logging in the Bialowieza forest, which was not implemented by the Polish Government, and to the fears that continued logging would cause ‘serious and irreparable damage’ to the forest while the court works on the case,

–  having regard to the interim orders of 8 June 2017 issued by the European Court of Human Rights to halt summary returns to Belarus; having regard to the proposals made in January 2017 for amendments to the Law on Foreigners by Poland’s Minister of the Interior, which raise concerns regarding their compatibility with European and international law,

–  having regard to the Law on Public Assemblies, as amended in December 2016, which allows for excessive limitations on the right of assembly, including prioritisation of so- called ‘regular/cyclical assemblies’ devoted to patriotic, religious and historic events and the possibility for the authorities to ban counter-demonstrations,

–  having regard to the Law on the National Institute for Freedom - Centre for Civil Society Development of 15 September 2017, which places access to public funding for civil society organisations, including from EU funds, under the control of the government, thus raising concerns regarding the adequate funding of NGOs, including among others women’s rights organisations,

–  having regard to the reports by international NGOs on the rule of law and fundamental rights in Poland, including the Amnesty International report of 19 October 2017 entitled ‘Poland: On the streets to defend human rights’ and the Human Rights Watch report of 24 October 2017 entitled ‘Eroding Checks and Balances ­– Rule of Law and Human Rights Under Attack in Poland’,

–  having regard to the OSCE/ODIHR opinions of 5 May 2017 on draft amendments to the act on the National Council of the Judiciary and certain other acts of Poland; of 22 August 2017 on the Draft Act of Poland on the National Freedom Institute – Centre for the Development of Civil Society; and of 30 August 2017 on certain provisions of the Draft Act on the Supreme Court of Poland, which pointed out that the proposed provisions were inherently incompatible with international standards and OSCE commitments,

–  having regard to the concluding observations on the seventh periodic report of Poland, adopted by the UN Human Rights Committee on 31 October 2016, which urged Poland to take steps to protect the independence of the Constitutional Tribunal and the judiciary, and to define more precisely the offence of terrorism, in order to safeguard against abuse,

–  having regard to Canada’s intervention of 9 May 2017 at the UN Human Rights Council in the context of Poland’s Universal Periodic Review, and to the letter of 23 October 2017 addressed by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to Poland,

–  having regard to the preliminary observations on the official visit to Poland of 27 October 2017 by the UN Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, which expressed concern over the state of the independence of the judiciary in Poland,

–  having regard to Resolution 2188 (2017) of 11 October 2017 of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, ‘New threats to the rule of law in Council of Europe member States: selected examples’,

–  having regard to the repeated mass protests in opposition to government policies and legislation, including the ‘Black Protest’ of October 2016 which prevented a change to the current abortion law, the ‘Freedom March’ of 6 May 2017, and the protests in July 2017 following the adoption of laws reforming the judiciary,

–  having regard to the law limiting access to the emergency contraceptive pill for women and girls of June 2017; having regard to the WHO factsheet of June 2017, which deems the emergency contraceptive pill safe and recommends its availability as part of necessary reproductive healthcare; having regard to the Commission implementing decision of 7 January 2015 amending the marketing authorisation granted by Decision C(2009)4049 for ‘ellaOne - ulipristal acetate’, a medicinal product for human use,

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

A.  whereas the EU is founded on the values of respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities; whereas these values are common to the Member States in a society in which pluralism, non-discrimination, tolerance, justice, solidarity and equality between women and men prevail; whereas adherence to these values was approved by the Polish people in the referendum held in 2003;

B.  whereas Article 9 of the Polish Constitution states that the Republic of Poland shall respect international law binding upon it;

C.  whereas the EU operates on the basis of the presumption of mutual trust, i.e. that Member States will act in accordance with democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights, as enshrined in the ECHR and in the Charter of Fundamental Rights;

D.  whereas the rule of law is one of the common values on which the EU is founded, and whereas the Commission, together with Parliament and the Council, is responsible under the Treaties for guaranteeing respect for the rule of law as a fundamental value of the Union and making sure that EU law, values and principles are respected;

E.  whereas those principles include: legality, which implies a transparent, accountable, democratic and pluralistic process for enacting laws; legal certainty; prohibition of arbitrariness of the executive powers; independent and impartial courts; effective judicial review including full respect for fundamental rights; and equality before the law;

F.  whereas the independence of the judiciary is enshrined in Article 47 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Article 6 of the ECHR, and is an essential requirement of the democratic principle of the separation of powers, which is also reflected in Article 10 of the Polish Constitution;

G.  whereas freedom of association should be protected; whereas a vibrant civil society and pluralistic media play a vital role in promoting an open and pluralistic society, public participation in the democratic process, and strengthening the accountability of governments; whereas NGOs should be adequately funded;

H.  whereas the Polish Government’s refusal to implement the order of the Court of Justice of the EU on logging in the Bialowieza forest and its refusal to respect the interim orders by the ECtHR on returns to Belarus are visible symbols of Poland not following the EU Treaties;

I.  whereas dozens of protesters have faced proceedings under the Code of Petty Offences and in some cases under the Criminal Code; whereas over 300 people are reported to have been summoned by the police in relation to their participation in protests in October 2017;

J.  whereas, according to the Charter of the Fundamental Rights, the ECHR and the case law of the ECtHR, women’s sexual and reproductive health is related to multiple human rights, including the right to life and dignity, freedom from inhuman and degrading treatment, the right of access to healthcare, the right to privacy, the right to education and the prohibition of discrimination, as is also reflected in the Polish Constitution;

K.  whereas the denial of access to sexual and reproductive health and rights services, including safe and legal abortion, is a violation of women’s fundamental rights; whereas the UN Human Rights Committee has called on Poland to refrain from adopting any legislative reform that would amount to a retrogression of already restrictive legislation on women’s access to safe and legal abortion; whereas the ECtHR has ruled against Poland in several cases owing to Poland’s restrictive interpretation of this right;

1.  Stresses that it is fundamentally important to uphold the common European values listed in Article 2 of the TEU and in the Polish Constitution, and to guarantee fundamental rights as laid down in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union;

2.  Reiterates its position expressed in its resolutions of 13 April 2016 and of 14 September 2016; reiterates, in particular, its concern over the rapid legislative developments taking place in many areas without proper consultations or the possibility of an independent and legitimate constitutional review, thus risking the systematic undermining of fundamental human rights, democratic checks and balances and the rule of law; reiterates, in particular, its concern regarding such changes in the areas of public media, criminal law, police law, civil service law, the law on counter-terrorism, NGO law, asylum law, freedom of assembly and women’s rights;

3.  Regrets strongly and with growing concern the fact that no compromise solution has been found to the fundamental problem of the proper functioning of the Constitutional Tribunal (its independence and legitimacy, and the publication and implementation of all its judgments), which seriously undermines the Polish Constitution and democracy and the rule of law in Poland; points out with deep regret that the Polish Government refuses to take into account the constructive criticism coming from the Polish public and from national, international and EU institutions, and that no actions have been announced to address these concerns;

4.  Is deeply concerned at the redrafted legislation relating to the Polish judiciary, as regards specifically its potential to structurally undermine judicial independence and weaken the rule of law in Poland;

5.  Notes that on 27 July 2017 President Duda vetoed two controversial laws which had been passed by the Polish Parliament as being incompatible with the Polish Constitution, claiming that they seriously threatened judicial independence in Poland; calls for an extensive debate at national level with all relevant stakeholders regarding judicial reform, which should uphold the rule of law and comply with EU law and European standards of judicial independence; calls on the Polish President not to sign new laws unless they fully guarantee the independence of the judiciary;

6.  Supports the Rule of Law Recommendations issued by the Commission, as well as the infringement proceedings taken out by it against Poland for breaches of EU law; acknowledges the Commission’s determination to monitor, as guardian of the Treaties, the situation in Poland and the follow-up to its recommendations by the Polish authorities, while continuing to offer full support to Poland in finding adequate solutions to strengthen the rule of law;

7.  Urges the Polish Parliament and Government to implement fully all recommendations of the Commission and the Venice Commission, and to refrain from conducting any reform which would put at risk respect for the rule of law, and in particular the independence of the judiciary; calls in this respect for postponement of the adoption of any laws until a proper assessment has been made by the Commission and the Venice Commission;

8.  Calls on the Polish Government to comply with the temporary order of the Court of Justice of the EU of 27 July 2017 in Case C-441/17 and to immediately suspend large-scale logging in the Bialowieza forest, which risks causing serious and irreversible damage to this UNESCO World Heritage site; calls on the Polish Government to halt summary returns to Belarus so as to comply with the binding interim orders of the ECtHR of 8 June 2017, and to ensure that anyone who expresses an intention to seek asylum or international protection at Poland’s borders enjoys full access to the Polish asylum procedure in line with international obligations and EU law;

9.  Calls on the Polish Government to respect the right of freedom of assembly by removing from the current law on assembly the provisions prioritising government-approved ‘cyclical’ assemblies; urges the authorities to refrain from applying criminal sanctions to people who participate in peaceful assemblies or counter-demonstrations and to drop criminal charges against peaceful protesters;

10.  Calls on the Polish Government to repeal the law on establishing a National Institute for Freedom - Centre for the Development of Civil Society, which hinders access to state funding from critical civil society groups, and to ensure that the distribution of public funds to civil society is carried out in a fair, impartial and transparent manner, ensuring pluralistic representation;

11.  Expresses its concern at the media reports of police surveillance of opposition and civil society leaders, and urges the Polish authorities to investigate these reports and to fully respect the privacy of all citizens;

12.  Calls on the Polish Government to take a firm stand on women’s and girls’ rights by providing free and accessible contraception without discrimination, making emergency contraception available without medical prescription; calls, in this context, for the law limiting women’s and girls’ access to the emergency contraceptive pill to be repealed;

13.  Strongly criticises any legislative proposal that would prohibit abortion in cases of severe or fatal foetal impairment; stresses that universal access to healthcare, including sexual and reproductive healthcare and the associated rights, is a fundamental human right; strongly reaffirms its support for women’s rights organisations, as they have recently been the target of legal prosecution;

14.  Calls on the Polish Government to comply with all provisions relating to the rule of law and fundamental rights enshrined in the Treaties, the Charter of Fundamental Rights, the ECHR and international human rights standards, and to engage directly in dialogue with the Commission;

15.  Calls the Commission to keep Parliament regularly and closely informed, in a transparent fashion, of progress made and action taken;

16.  Believes that the current situation in Poland represents a clear risk of a serious breach of the values referred to in Article 2 of the TEU; instructs its Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs to draw up a specific report in accordance with Rule 83(1)(a) of its Rules of Procedure, with a view to holding a plenary vote on a reasoned proposal calling on the Council to act pursuant to Article 7(1) of the TEU;

17.  Reiterates the need for a regular process of monitoring and dialogue involving all Member States in order to safeguard the EU’s fundamental values of democracy, fundamental rights and the rule of law, involving the Council, the Commission and Parliament, as put forward in its resolution of 25 October 2016 with recommendations to the Commission on the establishment of an EU mechanism on democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights(5) (DRF Pact);

18.  Calls on the Polish Government to take appropriate action on and strongly condemn the xenophobic and fascist march that took place in Warsaw on Saturday, 11 November 2017;

19.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Commission and the Council, the President, Government and Parliament of Poland, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, the Council of Europe and the OSCE.

(1) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0123.
(2) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0344.
(3) Commission Recommendation (EU) 2017/146 of 21 December 2016 regarding the rule of law in Poland complementary to Recommendation (EU) 2016/1374 (OJ L 22, 27.1.2017, p. 65).
(4) Commission Recommendation (EU) 2017/1520 of 26 July 2017 regarding the rule of law in Poland complementary to Recommendations (EU) 2016/1374 and (EU) 2017/146 (OJ L 228, 2.9.2017, p. 19).
(5) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0409.

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