Index 
Texts adopted
Thursday, 18 January 2018 - StrasbourgFinal edition
Non-objection to an implementing measure: establishing a Union Registry
 Nigeria
 The cases of human rights activists Wu Gan, Xie Yang, Lee Ming-che, Tashi Wangchuk and the Tibetan monk Choekyi
 Democratic Republic of the Congo
 Marrakesh Treaty: facilitating the access to published works for persons who are blind, visually impaired, or otherwise print disabled ***
 Jurisdiction, recognition and enforcement of decisions in matrimonial matters and matters of parental responsibility, and international child abduction *
 Implementation of the Youth Employment Initiative in the Member States
 Implementation of the Professional Qualifications Directive and the need for reform in professional services

Non-objection to an implementing measure: establishing a Union Registry
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European Parliament decision to raise no objections to the draft Commission regulation amending Commission Regulation (EU) No 389/2013 establishing a Union Registry (D054274-02 – 2017/3013(RPS))
P8_TA(2018)0012B8-0041/2018

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the draft Commission regulation amending Commission Regulation (EU) No 389/2013 establishing a Union Registry (D054274-02),

–  having regard to Directive 2003/87/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 13 October 2003 establishing a scheme for greenhouse gas emission allowance trading within the Community and amending Council Directive 96/61/EC(1), and in particular Articles 12 and 19 thereof,

–  having regard to the opinion delivered on 30 November 2017 by the committee referred to in Article 23(1) of the above directive,

–  having regard to the Commission’s letter of 5 December 2017 asking Parliament to declare that it will raise no objections to the draft regulation,

–  having regard to the letter from the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety to the Chair of the Conference of Committee Chairs of 11 January 2018,

–  having regard to Article 5a of Council Decision 1999/468/EC of 28 June 1999 laying down the procedures for the exercise of implementing powers conferred on the Commission(2),

–  having regard to the recommendation for a decision by the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety,

–  having regard to Rules 106(4)(d) and Rule 105(6) of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the fact that no objections have been raised within the period laid down in the third and fourth indents of Rule 105(6) of its Rules of Procedure, which expired on 17 January 2018,

A.  whereas in order to protect the environmental integrity of the EU emissions trading system (‘EU ETS’), aircraft operators and other operators in the EU ETS are prohibited from using allowances that are issued by a Member State in respect of which there are obligations lapsing for aircraft operators and other operators, and to that end, the necessary safeguard measures should be adopted;

B.  whereas Article 19 of Directive 2003/87/EC empowers the Commission to adopt measures with respect to the standardised and secured system of registries, in accordance with the regulatory procedure with scrutiny (RPS);

C.  whereas on 8 December 2017 the Commission formally submitted to Parliament the draft Commission regulation amending Commission Regulation (EU) No 389/2013 establishing a Union Registry (‘the draft RPS measure’), which opened the three-month scrutiny period for Parliament to object to that draft act;

D.  whereas the safeguard measures in the draft RPS measure should enter into force as a matter of urgency in order for the measures to take effect so that allowances can be allocated for free, received in exchange for international credits or auctioned in 2018, and whereas full use of the three-month scrutiny period available to Parliament would not allow sufficient time for the draft RPS measure to enter into force before the allowances for 2018 are issued;

1.  Declares that it has no objections to the draft Commission regulation;

2.  Instructs its President to forward this decision to the Commission, and, for information, to the Council.

(1) OJ L 275, 25.10.2003, p. 32.
(2) OJ L 184, 17.7.1999, p. 23.


Nigeria
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European Parliament resolution of 18 January 2018 on Nigeria (2018/2513(RSP))
P8_TA(2018)0013RC-B8-0045/2018

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its previous resolutions on Nigeria,

–  having regard to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights of 1981, ratified by Nigeria on 22 June 1983,

–  having regard to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, in particular the provisions on the protection of freedom of religion contained in Chapter IV on the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion,

–  having regard to the Council conclusions of 12 May 2014 on abductions in Nigeria and of 9 February 2015 on elections in Nigeria,

–  having regard to President Muhammadu Buhari’s address to the European Parliament of 3 February 2016,

–  having regard to the decision to add Boko Haram to the EU list of designated terrorist organisations by means of Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) No 583/2014 of 28 May 2014 amending for the 214th time Council Regulation (EC) No 881/2002 imposing certain specific restrictive measures directed against certain persons and entities associated with the Al Qaida network, which entered into force on 29 May 2014,

–  having regard to the statement by Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (VP/HR) Federica Mogherini of 7 May 2017 on the release of girls kidnapped by Boko Haram in Nigeria,

–  having regard to the UN Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination based on Religion and Belief of 1981,

–  having regard to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of 1966, ratified by Nigeria on 29 October 1993,

–  having regard to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child of 1989, ratified by Nigeria in April 1991,

–  having regard to the second revision of the Cotonou Agreement, ratified by Nigeria on 27 September 2010,

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

–  having regard to the awarding of the European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought to human rights defender Hauwa Ibrahim in 2005,

–  having regard to the outcome of the Nigerian presidential elections of March 2015,

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

A.  whereas the UN estimates that Nigeria, Africa’s most populous and culturally diverse nation (its population having grown from 33 million in 1950 to about 190 million today), is set to become the world’s third most populous country, just behind China and India, by 2050;

B.  whereas Nigeria is home to Africa’s largest Christian population;

C.  whereas Nigeria’s population is almost evenly split between Muslims and Christians;

D.  whereas an estimated 30 million Christians live in northern Nigeria, forming the largest religious minority in the predominantly Muslim region;

E.  whereas the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported in November 2017 that in northeastern Nigeria 8,5 million people were in need of lifesaving assistance and that 6,9 million people were targeted for humanitarian assistance in 2017;

F.  whereas the country’s Middle Belt has suffered years of economic and political tension between ethnic and religious communities, with the recent violence fuelled by competition for power and access to land between pastoralist and farming communities;

G.  whereas peace and stability in northern Nigeria have been threatened by the continuing attacks, murders and kidnappings perpetrated by the Islamist group Boko Haram since 2009;

H.  whereas over 20 000 people have been killed and more than 2 million displaced, including to neighbouring countries, since Boko Haram began its attacks;

I.  whereas in April 2014, Boko Haram kidnapped 276 girls from their school in Chibok, northern Nigeria, of which some have since been reunited with their families, but a significant number are still being held in an unknown location;

J.  whereas women and girls have been enslaved, raped, radicalised and forced into ‘marriages’ by Boko Haram; whereas many survivors of these horrific experiences are now pregnant by their rapists;

K.  whereas the security forces have also been accused of interrupting peaceful protests and meetings, in some cases with violence and excessive use of force;

L.  whereas numerous kidnappings of clergy and nuns have taken place in the past year, including that of six Sisters of the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus Convent who were abducted in Iguoriakhi on 13 November 2017, and were recently released;

M.  whereas over 14 people were killed, and many others wounded, in Omoku as they were returning from a church service in the early hours of New Year’s Eve; whereas the number of Christian and Muslim deaths has been rising of late, which underlines the worrying situation of both faiths in the country;

N.  whereas pastoralist-farmer conflicts in Nigeria have increased in number, spread and intensified over the past decade and today pose a threat to national survival; whereas thousands of people have been killed, communities destroyed and a huge number of farmers and pastoralists have lost their lives and property in an escalation of killings and destruction that is not only destroying livelihoods but also affecting national cohesion;

O.  whereas in the long term, pastoralism is under threat owing to high population growth, expansion of farming, and loss of pasture and cattle routes; whereas at the same time, pastoralism cannot come to an end or be prohibited, as there are strong cultural, political and economic reasons for its existence;

P.  whereas the International Criminal Court (ICC) has stated that there are reasonable grounds to believe that crimes against humanity under Article 7 of the Rome Statute have been committed in Nigeria by Boko Haram, including murder and persecution;

Q.  whereas Nigeria has a complex legal system, which combines common, customary and religious law and several tiers of government, which creates a challenging environment for the proper enforcement of human rights;

R.  whereas accountability, justice, the rule of law and the fight against impunity constitute essential elements underpinning peace and conflict resolution, reconciliation and reconstruction efforts;

S.  whereas the death penalty is legal in Nigeria; whereas in 2016, Nigeria sentenced 527 people to death, three times more than in 2015; whereas there has been a de facto moratorium on the death penalty since 2006, although this moratorium was broken in 2013 and 2016;

T.  whereas Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission has announced that presidential and national assembly elections will be held on 16 February 2019;

U.  whereas the organisation Transparency International ranked Nigeria 136th out of 175 countries in its Corruption Perceptions Index 2016;

V.  whereas pursuant to Article 8 of the Cotonou Agreement, the EU engages in regular political dialogue with Nigeria on human rights and democratic principles, including ethnic, religious and racial discrimination;

1.  Is deeply concerned by the increasing interethnic conflicts between pastoralists and farmers in the Middle Belt region which have increased the security challenges already facing Nigeria, and regrets the lack of real progress in addressing these issues;

2.  Strongly condemns the increase in violence against Christians and Muslims in Nigeria, including the targeting of religious institutions and worshippers, such as the recent killing of at least 48 Christians in villages across Plateau State and the bombing of a mosque in Mubi, northeast Nigeria, in which at least 50 people died; calls on President Buhari and the Nigerian Government to increase their efforts to bring the violence to an end, defend Nigerians’ right to worship freely and protect the rights of all their citizens more rigorously, in line with the country’s laws and Constitution; extends its condolences to the families of all the victims of the ongoing violence; recalls, in addition, that until the 1970s, the coexistence of herdsmen and farmers was peaceful and regrets that the current violence, which concerns access to land and has been exacerbated by the disappearance of effective mediation schemes, is being depicted as a religious conflict, which oversimplifies the issue;

3.  Urges the Government to focus on upholding human rights and dignity in all policies to ensure peaceful coexistence among citizens irrespective of their religion, beliefs and political affiliations;

4.  Urges the Nigerian Government to negotiate a national policy framework that would protect the interests of both farmers and herders and calls on international partners to increase investment in preventing and resolving intercommunal conflicts between cattle pastoralists and farmers by supporting cooperation through shared economic and natural resource management initiatives;

5.  Deplores the ongoing violence and attacks in northern Nigeria, whose targets have been Christian communities; notes that Boko Haram has attacked Muslim, Christian and other faiths indiscriminately;

6.  Notes that the Nigerian military has recaptured territory from Boko Haram and arrested some of its members, but that the Government’s non-military efforts to stop Boko Haram remain nascent;

7.  Urges the Buhari Government to defend its citizens from terrorism, but insists that such actions must be conducted in full accordance with respect for human rights and the rule of law; commends the progress made by the Buhari Government on the security challenges facing Nigeria and in addressing corruption; offers its support in achieving this objective and in seeking to sever the link between corrupt practices and terrorism;

8.  Recalls, however, that the actions taken by the Government against Boko Haram and other terrorist organisations should not fuel the violence further; calls, in this regard, for a reform of the Nigerian state security forces, including the police, and for the conduction of investigations into those who are responsible for any human rights violations, including extrajudicial killings, torture, arbitrary arrests and extortion-related abuses;

9.  Urges the Nigerian Government to address the root causes of the violence by ensuring equal rights for all citizens and non-discriminatory legislation;

10.  Condemns sexual and gender-based violence against women and girls and the targeting by Boko Haram and other terrorist groups of women and children for abductions, forced marriage, rape and use as suicide bombers; expresses concern, in addition, that inadequate humanitarian assistance in refugee camps has also led to high levels of exploitation and sexual abuse;

11.  Calls on the Nigerian authorities to provide the necessary psychosocial support to the victims of the scourge of radicalisation, especially women, children and young people, before reintegrating them back into society; calls for joint efforts by all international actors on the prevention of radicalisation leading to violent extremism and the development of rehabilitation and de-radicalisation programmes;

12.  Encourages greater progress in addressing the corruption which has blighted Nigerian society for decades and believes that without tough action to eradicate such crimes the Buhari Government’s wider political, economic and social agenda cannot be fulfilled; urges the Nigerian authorities to strengthen measures to tackle corruption and stresses that failure to do so will mean more years of poverty, inequality, reputational damage, reduced external investment and fewer life opportunities for its citizens; recalls that corruption leads to dissatisfaction with public institutions and the decreased legitimacy of governments in the eyes of the citizens;

13.  Calls for improvements to the efficiency and independence of Nigeria’s judiciary system to enable the effective use of criminal justice to combat violence, terrorism and corruption;

14.  Urges the Nigerian authorities to implement a moratorium on the death penalty with a view to its abolition;

15.  Reminds the Government of Nigeria of its responsibility to ensure that elections are held in conformity with its international human rights obligations and to take all necessary measures to ensure free, transparent and credible elections;

16.  Calls on the Commission, the European External Action Service (EEAS) and Member States to monitor the reintegration of Nigerian returnees from Libya and to ensure that the EU funding foreseen is spent effectively; calls on the Commission to keep Parliament informed about these reintegration measures;

17.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the European External Action Service, the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the Chairperson of the African Union, the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly, the Pan-African Parliament and representatives of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).


The cases of human rights activists Wu Gan, Xie Yang, Lee Ming-che, Tashi Wangchuk and the Tibetan monk Choekyi
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European Parliament resolution of 18 January 2018 on the cases of the human rights activists Wu Gan, Xie Yang, Lee Ming-che and Tashi Wangchuk, and the Tibetan monk Choekyi (2018/2514(RSP))
P8_TA(2018)0014RC-B8-0043/2018

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its previous resolutions on China, in particular those of 13 March 2014 on EU priorities for the 25th session of the UN Human Rights Council(1), of 16 December 2015 on EU-China relations(2), of 24 November 2016 on the case of Gui Minhai, jailed publisher in China(3), of 15 December 2016 on the cases of the Larung Gar Tibetan Buddhist Academy and Ilham Tohti(4), and of 6 July 2017 on the cases of Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo and Lee Ming-che(5),

–  having regard to the EU-China Strategic Partnership, launched in 2003, and to the joint communication from the Commission and the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (VP/HR) of 22 June 2016 entitled ‘Elements for a new EU strategy on China’,

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

–  having regard to the adoption of the new National Security Law by the Standing Committee of the Chinese National People’s Congress on 1 July 2015, and the publication of the second draft of a new Foreign NGO Management Law on 5 May 2015,

–  having regard to Article 36 of the Constitution of the People’s Republic of China, which guarantees all citizens the right to freedom of religious belief, and to Article 4 thereof, which upholds the rights of minority nationalities,

–  having regard to the EU-China dialogue on human rights, launched in 1995, and to the 35th round thereof, held in Brussels on 22 and 23 June 2017,

–  having regard to the awarding of its Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought to Wei Jingsheng and Hu Jia in 1996 and 2008 respectively,

–  having regard to the statement by the Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations of the European External Action Service (EEAS) of 27 December 2017 on the verdicts of Wu Gan and Xie Yang in China,

–  having regard to the Local Statement by the Delegation of the European Union on International Human Rights Day, 8 December 2017,

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

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

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

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

B.  whereas since President Xi Jinping assumed power, the human rights situation in China has deteriorated further, with the government stepping up its hostility toward peaceful dissent, the freedoms of expression and religion, and the rule of law; whereas the Chinese authorities have detained and prosecuted hundreds of human rights defenders, lawyers and journalists;

C.  whereas on 26 December 2017, a court in Tianjin sentenced activist Wu Gan to eight years in prison on charges of subverting state power; whereas Wu Gan routinely campaigned on sensitive issues relating to the government’s abuse of power, both online and offline; whereas according to his lawyer, Wu Gan rejected a deal with the authorities which would have given him a suspended sentence if he were to have admitted his guilt;

D.  whereas on the very same day in Hunan, human rights lawyer Xie Yang was also convicted but exempted from criminal penalties after he earlier pleaded guilty to subversion charges; whereas Wu Gan was arrested months before an unprecedented crackdown on human rights lawyers and defenders in 2015 that saw hundreds of people, including Xie Yang, questioned or detained nationwide over a few weeks; whereas there are allegations that Xie Yang has been tortured, beaten and threatened by interrogators;

E.  whereas on 28 November 2017, Yueyang Intermediate Court sentenced democracy activist Lee Ming-che to five years in prison after finding him guilty on charges of ‘subverting State power’, and stripped him of all political rights in China for two years; whereas it is likely that Lee Ming-che’s public confession was made under pressure from the Chinese authorities; whereas Lee Ming-che had gone missing on 19 March 2017, after he crossed from Macau into Zhuhai in China’s Guangdong province;

F.  whereas Tashi Wangchuk, a Tibetan shopkeeper and language rights advocate, was detained on 27 January 2016 after he appeared in a New York Times video advocating the right of Tibetans to learn and study in their mother tongue; whereas in March 2016 Tashi Wangchuk was charged with ‘inciting separatism’ and faces up to 15 years in prison, although he told the newspaper explicitly that he was not calling for Tibetan independence;

G.  whereas in 2015 the Tibetan monk Choekyi, from Phurbu monastery in Sichuan’s Seda county, was jailed for celebrating the birthday of exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama; whereas after being charged, Choekyi was briefly held in a prison in Kangding county in Ganzi prefecture, and was finally sent to Sichuan’s Mianyang prison to serve a four-year term; whereas according to media sources, Choekyi had kidney problems, jaundice, and other health-related issues which got worse because of his detention;

H.  whereas human rights lawyers have continued to face intimidation and imprisonment, as in the cases of prominent lawyers Li Yuhan, who has been incommunicado since November 2017, and Wang Quanzhang, who was arrested in July 2015, held incommunicado for over 800 days and reportedly subjected to torture; whereas human rights defenders who are petitioners who travel to major cities to raise local issues face detention and imprisonment, as with Li Xiaoling, who has been in detention since June 2017 while continuing to suffer from a severe case of glaucoma; whereas human rights defenders who provide a platform for petitioners and other human rights defenders, such as Ding Lingjie, Liu Feiyue and Zhen Jianghua, have also been detained;

I.  whereas the Chinese Government has passed new laws, notably the State Security Law, the Counterterrorism Law, the Cybersecurity Law, and the Foreign NGO Management Law, that cast public activism and peaceful criticism of the government as state security threats, strengthen censorship, surveillance and the control of individuals and social groups, and deter individuals from campaigning for human rights;

J.  whereas in the EU Strategic Framework and Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy, the Council pledges that the EU will promote democracy, the rule of law and ‘human rights in all areas of its external action without exception’ and will ‘place human rights at the centre of its relations with all third countries, including its strategic partners’;

1.  Remains highly concerned by the Chinese Government’s approach towards human rights defenders, activists and lawyers; reminds China of its responsibilities as a global power and calls on the Beijing authorities to ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international human rights instruments signed or ratified by China; urges the Beijing authorities, moreover, to put an end to all acts of harassment against all human rights defenders in the country so that they are able to carry out their work without hindrance;

2.  Urges the Chinese authorities to release immediately and unconditionally all human rights defenders, activists, lawyers, journalists and petitioners being detained for their human rights work, and to end the ongoing crackdown against them, which is being perpetrated in the form of detention, judicial harassment and intimidation;

3.  Calls on the Government of the People’s Republic of China to release Wu Gan immediately and unconditionally, as he has been imprisoned solely for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of expression and assembly, and – pending his release – to ensure that he has regular, unrestricted access to his family and lawyers of his choice, and is not subjected to torture or other ill-treatment; calls for a prompt, effective and impartial investigation into torture in China and for those responsible to be brought to justice;

4.  Emphasises the need to investigate the allegations of torture of Xie Yang;

5.  Calls on the Chinese authorities to release Lee Ming-che immediately and unconditionally, and – pending his release – to ensure that he is protected from torture and other ill-treatment, and allowed access to his family, lawyers of his choice and adequate medical care;

6.  Expresses its deep concern at the arrest and continued detention of Tashi Wangchuk, as well as his limited right to counsel, the lack of evidence against him and the irregularities in the criminal investigation; calls for the immediate and unconditional release of Tashi Wangchuk;

7.  Calls on the Chinese authorities to release the Tibetan monk Choekyi immediately and unconditionally; urges the Chinese Government to allow his relatives and the lawyers of his choice to visit him and, in particular, to provide him with adequate medical care;

8.  Calls on the Chinese Government to respect its own constitution, in particular with regard to Article 4, which protects national minorities; Article 35, which protects the freedoms of speech, the press, assembly, association, procession and demonstration; Article 36, which recognises the right to freedom of religious belief; and Article 41, which guarantees the right to criticise and make suggestions regarding any state organ or functionary;

9.  Reiterates its call on the Chinese Government to engage with His Holiness the Dalai Lama and his representatives, and expresses its support for a peaceful resolution of the issue of Tibet through dialogue and negotiations with a view to granting Tibet genuine autonomy within the framework of the Chinese Constitution;

10.  Condemns, moreover, the anti-Buddhism campaigns carried out via the ‘patriotic education’ approach, including measures to state-manage Tibetan Buddhist Monasteries; is concerned that China’s criminal law is being abused to persecute Tibetans and Buddhists, whose religious activities are equated with ‘separatism’; deplores the fact that the environment for practising Buddhism in Tibet has worsened significantly after the Tibetan protests of March 2008, with the Chinese Government adopting a more pervasive approach to ‘patriotic education’;

11.  Is worried about the adoption of the package of security laws and its impact on minorities in China, particularly the Counterterrorism Law, which could lead to the penalisation of peaceful expression of Tibetan culture and religion, and the Foreign NGO Management Law, which places human rights groups under the strict control of the government, as this constitutes a strictly top-down approach instead of encouraging partnership between local and central government and civil society;

12.  Emphasises that the Chinese authorities must ensure that all those held incommunicado are immediately put in contact with their family members and lawyers, and the conditions of all those in detention must meet the standards set out in the ‘Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment’, adopted by UN General Assembly resolution 43/173 of 9 December 1988, including access to medical care;

13.  Is highly concerned to learn about allegations of torture of human rights activists; calls on the Chinese Government, therefore, to wholeheartedly respect the absolute and non-derogable prohibition of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, in accordance with Articles 2 and 16 of the UN Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (UNCAT), which was ratified by China on 4 October 1988;

14.  Encourages the Chinese Government, as the 20th anniversary of its signature approaches, to ratify the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and to ensure its full implementation, including by ending all abusive practices and adapting its legislation as necessary;

15.  Recalls that it is important that the EU raises the issue of human rights violations in China, in particular the case of minorities in Tibet and Xinjiang, at every political and human rights dialogue with the Chinese authorities, including the yearly human rights dialogues, in line with its commitment to project a strong, clear and unified voice in its approach to the country; regrets, however, the lack of concrete results from the yearly EU-China human rights dialogues; further recalls that in its ongoing reform process and increasing global engagement, China has opted into the international human rights framework by signing up to a wide range of international human rights treaties; calls, therefore, for dialogue to be pursued with China in order to honour these commitments;

16.  Calls on all the Member States to adopt a firm, values-based approach towards China and expects them not to undertake unilateral initiatives or acts that might undermine the coherence, effectiveness and consistency of EU action; recalls with deep regret the failure of the EU to make a statement on human rights in China at the UN’s Human Rights Council in Geneva in June 2017; welcomes the adoption of a statement at the following session, and expects the EU to continue to mention China as a country which requires the Human Rights Council’s attention for as long as it refuses to engage in meaningful rights reforms; further calls for the EU and its Member States to raise robust concerns during the forthcoming Universal Periodic Review for China and to ensure, in particular, that Chinese civil society can freely participate in the process;

17.  Invites the VP/HR and the Member States to adopt the Foreign Affairs Council’s conclusions on China, which stress the critical importance of human rights in the EU-China relationship and convey a clear sense of concern about the negative trends in China in this regard, together with the expectation that the Chinese authorities take specific steps in response; stresses that such conclusions would serve to bind the 28 EU Member States and EU institutions to a common message and approach with regard to human rights in China;

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

(1) OJ C 378, 9.11.2017, p. 239.
(2) OJ C 399, 24.11.2017, p. 92.
(3) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0444.
(4) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0505.
(5) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0308.


Democratic Republic of the Congo
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European Parliament resolution of 18 January 2018 on the Democratic Republic of the Congo (2018/2515(RSP))
P8_TA(2018)0015RC-B8-0054/2018

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its previous resolutions on the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), notably those of 14 June 2017(1), 2 February 2017(2) and 1 December 2016(3),

–  having regard to the statements by the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, and by her spokesperson on the situation in the DRC,

–  having regard to the statement by the EEAS spokesperson of 9 November 2017 on the publication of the election timetable on the DRC,

–  having regard to the resolution adopted by the UN Human Rights Council on 29 September 2017 on technical assistance and capacity-building in the field of human rights in the DRC and to the report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Organisation Stabilisation Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO) of October 2017,

–  having regard to the final observations of 9 November 2017 of the fourth periodic review on the implementation of the UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights by the DRC,

–  having regard to the UN Security Council resolution 2348 (2017) on renewing MONUSCO’s mandate,

–  having regard to Council Decision (CFSP) 2017/2282 of 11 December 2017 extending until 12 December 2018 the sanctions against individuals responsible for violence and serious human rights violations in the DRC,

–  having regard to the Council conclusions of 6 March and 11 December 2017 on the DRC,

–  having regard to the Council conclusions of 19 June 2017 on EU engagement with civil society in external relations,

–  having regard to the resolution of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly of 15 June 2016 on the pre-electoral and security situation in the DRC,

–  having regard to the awarding of the European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought to Dr Denis Mukwege in 2014,

–  having regard to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,

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

–  having regard to the Cotonou Agreement,

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

–  having regard to the Guidelines on Freedom of Association and Assembly of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights of May 2017,

–  having regard to the Constitution of the DRC, adopted on 18 February 2006,

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

A.  whereas, one year after the signature of the Saint-Sylvestre agreement on 31 December 2016, the general situation in the DRC is continuing to deteriorate throughout the country, with violent repression, killings and widespread human rights violations; whereas 2017 has been one of the most violent years in the DRC’s recent history;

B.  whereas the UN has classified the situation in the DRC as a Level 3 humanitarian emergency, the highest level; whereas on 8 March 2017 the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, called for the creation of a commission of inquiry to investigate violence in Kasai province;

C.  whereas the political crisis has deepened following President Kabila’s refusal to step down in 2016 at the end of his constitutionally mandated term; whereas, under the Saint-Sylvestre agreement reached under the auspices of the National Episcopal Conference of Congo (CENCO), it was agreed to hold elections by December 2017; whereas this deadline was not met and whereas the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) has announced that the elections will be held on 23 December 2018;

D.  whereas the CENI is proceeding with logistical preparations for the elections, including budgetary arrangements and the electoral register;

E.  whereas protests against the political situation have been met with extremely violent resistance by government-backed forces;

F.  whereas the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has noted the ‘deliberate intention to supress civil and political rights’ by security forces, including the use of live ammunition, tear gas and rubber bullets against civilians, including altar boys, denying the UN access to hospitals, morgues and detention facilities, and preventing the UN from observing the protests;

G.  whereas the DRC has not ratified the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance;

H.  whereas armed clashes continue between the Congolese army and local militias, particularly in Kasai; whereas this has resulted in a severe humanitarian crisis, with killings, torture and rape, the destruction of homes, medical facilities and schools, and the discovery of 40 mass grave sites in Kasai; whereas there has been no progress in bringing the perpetrators to justice;

I.  whereas the DRC has the highest number of new internally displaced persons due to conflict recorded globally; whereas over 1,9 million people have been displaced inside the DRC since January 2017, bringing the total number of displaced people in the country to 4,25 million, mostly in Kasai, Tanganyika and Kivu provinces; whereas the DRC is also hosting refugees fleeing Burundi, the Central African Republic and South Sudan; whereas the EU has released EUR 5 million in emergency aid for the victims of violence in Kasai;

J.  whereas in March 2017 the troop numbers of the MONUSCO mission were reduced and in June 2017 its budget was cut by 8 %;

K.  whereas the authorities in the DRC have undertaken systematic harassment against civil society organisations and human rights defenders, including Lutte pour le Changement (Lucha), Filimbi, the Catholic church and the Comité Laïc de Coordination (CLC); whereas, according to human rights groups, at least 358 political prisoners are being held in the DRC;

L.  whereas on 29 and 30 December 2017, seven human rights defenders – Carbone Beni, Mino Bompomi, Roger Katanga Mwenyemali, Bony Dickson Mputu, Grâce Tshiunza, Cedrick Kalonji and Arciel Beni, all affiliated with the civil society movement Filimbi – were arrested and detained without arrest warrants, and whereas the whereabouts of another human rights defender, Palmer Kabeya, is unknown;

M.  whereas abductions and attacks on aid workers and peacekeeping forces are increasing, thus forcing humanitarian organisations to delay the delivery of aid and suspend their activities;

N.  whereas three draft laws introduced in the Congolese National Assembly – on the regulation of non-governmental organisations, on human rights defenders and on counter-terrorism – are, in their current form, in conflict with regional and international human rights standards and pose an unprecedented threat to the independent operation of civil society in Congo;

O.  whereas the EU extended to December 2018 the restrictive measures against individuals adopted in response to the obstruction of the electoral process and human rights violations;

1.  Reiterates its deep concern at the worsening humanitarian, political and security situation in the DRC; strongly condemns all human rights violations and acts of violence, in particular against peaceful demonstrators, including the ban on peaceful public demonstrations and the policies of intimidating, arresting and detaining any dissident voices; calls on the Congolese authorities to proceed with the immediate and unconditional release of all prisoners of conscience and to conduct an independent investigation into the violent repression of the demonstrations of December 2017 and the mass graves discovered;

2.  Recalls that the Government of the DRC bears the primary responsibility to protect civilians within its territory and subject to its jurisdiction, including from crimes against humanity and war crimes;

3.  Expresses extreme concern over the evidence from human rights organisations, in particular the December 2017 inquiry report of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) on the massacres in Kasai, according to which a ‘deliberate strategy of terror and destruction, which led to crimes against humanity’ is being perpetrated by the Congolese security forces and government-backed militias in Kasai province; urges the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the UN to investigate these claims;

4.  Expresses its concern at the situation of women and children in the DRC; utterly condemns the use of rape, sexual violence and torture; is alarmed by allegations of unlawful recruitment and employment of child soldiers by Congolese-sponsored militias, and considers that ending the use of child soldiers must be a priority for the Congolese authorities and the international community;

5.  Strongly regrets that elections were not held by the 2017 deadline; recalls the responsibility of the Congolese authorities and institutions to effectively implement the new electoral calendar in accordance with the Congolese Constitution and the Saint-Sylvestre agreement; insists that transparent, free and fair presidential and legislative elections be held on 23 December 2018; recalls that CENI must be an independent, impartial and inclusive institution, and calls on the Government of the DRC to ensure that sufficient resources are provided; asks, furthermore, CENI and the Government to introduce quarterly deadlines for the electoral timetable in order to monitor progress, and as a demonstrable sign of the Government’s commitment to hold elections; recalls that only credible elections offer a way out of the crisis;

6.  Stresses that opponents in exile must be able to return safely and without conditions, and that every citizen must have the right to stand as a candidate in the elections; welcomes the creation, with the participation of the African Union (AU), the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie (OIF), the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the UN, of a coordinated team of experts in charge of supporting the implementation of the electoral process and facilitating the mobilisation of financial, logistical and technical assistance to the DRC; supports the contribution of the EU to the DRC electoral process, and calls on the EU to condition any electoral funding on the realisation by the Congolese Government of concrete measures showing the demonstrable political will to hold elections on 23 December 2018, including – in particular – the publication of a realistic electoral budget, as well as guarantees concerning all fundamental rights and freedoms for all political parties and civil society organisations;

7.  Strongly condemns all forms of harassment and threats against civil society and NGOs; is particularly concerned at the latest death threats made against representatives of FIDH and associated organisations; urges the DRC authorities and security forces to fully respect the requirements set out in the Cotonou Agreement as well as in the Saint-Sylvestre agreement, in particular the right of individuals to exercise freedom of expression and freedom of assembly and demonstration; calls on the Congolese authorities to ratify at the earliest opportunity the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance;

8.  Denounces the draft laws introduced in the Congolese National Assembly on the regulation of NGOs, human rights defenders and counter-terrorism; urges the Congolese authorities to fully respect legislative due process and to bring the draft laws into alignment with international and regional standards for the protection and promotion of human rights;

9.  Urges the EU, its Member States and the international community to increase support to, and protection of, human rights defenders; calls on the DRC authorities to investigate and bring to justice those who attack human rights defenders and repress democratic protests;

10.  Welcomes the announcement by the UN Secretary-General of an investigation into the attack on MONUSCO troops by the Allied Democratic Forces militia on 7 December 2017, which left 15 peacekeepers dead in North Kivu province;

11.  Expresses its concern at the latest UN troop and budget cuts; calls on the UN Security Council and the UN member states to ensure that MONUSCO receives adequate funding to carry out the tasks entrusted to it in its mandate; recalls that the mandate of MONUSCO includes contributing to the protection of civilians and supporting the implementation of the political agreement;

12.  Urges the EU and its Member States to give priority to human rights values; reiterates the importance of holding individuals to account for human rights abuses and other actions that undermine a peaceful solution to the DRC conflict; welcomes, in this regard, the use of EU-targeted sanctions, and calls on the EU to consider employing additional means, as provided for in the Cotonou Agreement, if the situation continues to deteriorate and no significant progress is made towards finding a peaceful solution;

13.  Points out that in April 2015 Ibrahim Thiaw, the Deputy Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme, stated that the annual earnings from the exploitation of natural resources exceed USD 1 billion and that the bulk of the profits – up to 98 % – end up in the coffers of international concerns, with the remaining 2 % being used to fund armed groups in the DRC; calls on the Commission and the Member States to take the requisite measures against European companies that fail to comply with international standards or that do not adequately compensate victims of human rights violations for which they are directly or indirectly responsible; calls for the rapid implementation of the agreement reached by the Member States on 15 June 2016 on the EU regulation on conflict minerals (Regulation (EU) 2017/821(4)) and for work to continue at EU and UN level to develop international legislation on this matter;

14.  Reiterates its support for the AU, the OIF and the SADC, as well as, notably, Angola, as facilitators of political dialogue in the DRC and the whole region;

15.  Expresses alarm at the escalating cholera epidemic and calls for increased humanitarian aid to tackle the outbreak; urges the EU and its Member States to increase financial and humanitarian aid through reliable organisations in order to meet the urgent needs of the population;

16.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Vice-President of the European Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the EU Special Representative for Human Rights, the ACP-EU Council of Ministers and Joint Parliamentary Assembly, the African Union, the Pan-African Parliament, and the President, Prime Minister and Parliament of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

(1) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0264.
(2) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0017.
(3) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0479.
(4) OJ L 130, 19.5.2017, p. 1.


Marrakesh Treaty: facilitating the access to published works for persons who are blind, visually impaired, or otherwise print disabled ***
PDF 242kWORD 42k
European Parliament legislative resolution of 18 January 2018 on the draft Council decision on the conclusion on behalf of the European Union of the Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons who are Blind, Visually Impaired or Otherwise Print Disabled (12629/2017 – C8-0375/2017 – 2014/0297(NLE))
P8_TA(2018)0016A8-0400/2017

(Consent)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the draft Council decision (12629/2017),

–  having regard to the Marrakesh Treaty to facilitate access to published works for persons who are blind, visually impaired, or otherwise print disabled (5905/2015),

–  having regard to the request for consent submitted by the Council in accordance with Article 114 and Article 218(6), second subparagraph, point (a)(v), of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (C8‑0375/2017),

–  having regard to the opinion of the Court of Justice of 14 February 2017(1),

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

–  having regard to the recommendation of the Committee on Legal Affairs (A8-0400/2017),

1.  Gives its consent to the conclusion of the Marrakesh Treaty;

2.  Instructs its President to forward its position to the Council, the Commission and the governments and parliaments of the Member States and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).

(1) Opinion of the Court of Justice of 14 February 2017, 3/15, ECLI:EU:C:2017:114.


Jurisdiction, recognition and enforcement of decisions in matrimonial matters and matters of parental responsibility, and international child abduction *
PDF 480kWORD 75k
European Parliament legislative resolution of 18 January 2018 on the proposal for a Council regulation on jurisdiction, the recognition and enforcement of decisions in matrimonial matters and matters of parental responsibility, and on international child abduction (recast) (COM(2016)0411 – C8-0322/2016 – 2016/0190(CNS))
P8_TA(2018)0017A8-0388/2017

(Special legislative procedure – consultation – recast)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Commission proposal to the Council (COM(2016)0411),

–  having regard to Article 81(3) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, pursuant to which the Council consulted Parliament (C8-0322/2016),

–  having regard to the Interinstitutional Agreement of 28 November 2001 on a more structured use of the recasting technique for legal acts(1),

–  having regard to Rules 104 and 78c of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Legal Affairs and the opinion of the Committee on Petitions (A8-0388/2017),

A.  whereas, according to the Consultative Working Party of the legal services of the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission, the Commission proposal does not include any substantive amendments other than those identified as such in the proposal and whereas, as regards the codification of the unchanged provisions of the earlier acts together with those amendments, the proposal contains a straightforward codification of the existing texts, without any change in their substance;

1.  Approves the Commission proposal as adapted to the recommendations of the Consultative Working Party of the legal services of the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission and as amended below;

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

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

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

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

Text proposed by the Commission   Amendment
Amendment 1
Proposal for a regulation
Recital 1
(1)  Council Regulation (EC) No 2201/200334 has been substantially amended35. Since further amendments are to be made, that Regulation should be recast in the interests of clarity.
(1)  Council Regulation (EC) No 2201/200334 has been substantially amended35. Since further indispensable amendments are to be made, that Regulation should be recast in the interests of clarity. Such amendments of the Regulation will help to strengthen legal certainty and increase flexibility, will help to ensure that access to court proceedings is improved, and that such proceedings are made more efficient. At the same time, the changes to this Regulation will help to ensure that Member States retain full sovereignty with regard to substantive law on parental responsibility.
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34 Council Regulation (EC) No 2201/2003 of 27 November 2003 concerning jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in matrimonial matters and the matters of parental responsibility, repealing Regulation (EC) No 1347/2000 (OJ L 338, 23.12.2003, p. 1).
34 Council Regulation (EC) No 2201/2003 of 27 November 2003 concerning jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in matrimonial matters and the matters of parental responsibility, repealing Regulation (EC) No 1347/2000 (OJ L 338, 23.12.2003, p. 1).
35 See Annex V.
35 See Annex V.
Amendment 2
Proposal for a regulation
Recital 3
(3)  The smooth and correct functioning of a Union area of justice with respect for the Member States' different legal systems and traditions is vital for the Union. In that regard, mutual trust in one another's justice systems should be further enhanced. The Union has set itself the objective of creating, maintaining and developing an area of freedom, security and justice, in which the free movement of persons and access to justice are ensured. With a view to implementing those objectives, the rights of persons, notably children, in legal proceedings should be reinforced in order to facilitate the cooperation of judicial and administrative authorities and the enforcement of decisions in family law matters with cross-border implications. The mutual recognition of decisions in civil matters should be enhanced, access to justice should be simplified and exchanges of information between the authorities of the Member States should be improved upon.
(3)  The smooth and correct functioning of a Union area of justice with respect for the Member States' different legal systems and traditions is vital for the Union. In that regard, mutual trust in one another's justice systems should be further enhanced. The Union has set itself the objective of creating, maintaining and developing an area of freedom, security and justice, in which the free movement of persons and access to justice are ensured. With a view to implementing those objectives, it is essential that the rights of persons, notably children, in legal proceedings be reinforced in order to facilitate the cooperation of judicial and administrative authorities and the enforcement of decisions in family law matters with cross-border implications. The mutual recognition of decisions in civil matters should be enhanced, access to justice should be simplified and exchanges of information between the authorities of the Member States should be improved upon, by ensuring that there is an accurate check of the non-discriminatory nature of the procedures and practices used by the competent authorities of the Member States to protect the best interests of the child and the related fundamental rights.
Amendment 3
Proposal for a regulation
Recital 4
(4)  To this end, the Union is to adopt, among others, measures in the field of judicial cooperation in civil matters having cross-border implications, particularly when necessary for the proper functioning of the internal market.
(4)  To this end, the Union is to adopt, among others, measures in the field of judicial cooperation in civil matters having cross-border implications, particularly when necessary for the free movement of persons and for the proper functioning of the internal market.
Amendment 4
Proposal for a regulation
Recital 4 a (new)
(4a)  In order to enhance judicial cooperation in civil matters having cross-border implications, judicial training, especially in cross-border family law, is needed. Training activities, such as seminars and exchanges, are required at both Union and national level, in order to raise awareness of this Regulation, its content and consequences, as well as to build mutual trust among Member States as regards their judicial systems.
Amendment 5
Proposal for a regulation
Recital 6
(6)  In order to ensure equality for all children, this Regulation should cover all decisions on parental responsibility, including measures for the protection of children, independent of any link with a matrimonial proceeding or other proceedings.
(6)  In order to ensure equality for all children, this Regulation should cover all decisions on parental responsibility, including measures for the protection of children, independent of any link with a matrimonial proceeding.
Amendment 6
Proposal for a regulation
Recital 6 a (new)
(6a)  Under this Regulation jurisdiction rules should also be applicable to all children who are present on Union territory and whose habitual residence cannot be established with certainty. The scope of such rules should extend in particular to cover refugee children and children who have been internationally displaced either for socioeconomic reasons or because of disturbances occurring in their country.
Amendment 7
Proposal for a regulation
Recital 12 a (new)
(12a)  This Regulation should fully respect the rights set out in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union ('the Charter'), and especially the right to an effective remedy and to a fair trial, laid down in Article 47 of the Charter, as well as the right to respect for private and family life, laid down in Article 7 of the Charter, and the rights of the child laid down in Article 24 of the Charter.
Amendment 8
Proposal for a regulation
Recital 13
(13)  The grounds of jurisdiction in matters of parental responsibility are shaped in the light of the best interests of the child and should be applied in accordance with them. Any reference to the best interests of the child should be interpreted in light of Article 24 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child of 20 November 1989.
(13)  The grounds of jurisdiction in matters of parental responsibility should always be shaped in the light of the best interests of the child and should be applied with those interests in mind. Any reference to the best interests of the child should be interpreted in light of Articles 7, 14, 22 and 24 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child of 20 November 1989. It is imperative that the Member State whose authorities are competent under this Regulation in relation to the substance of a matter of parental responsibility, after taking a final decision providing for the return of a child, ensure that the best interests and the fundamental rights of the child are protected once the child has been returned, in particular when he or she has contact with both parents.
Amendment 9
Proposal for a regulation
Recital 14 a (new)
(14a)  The meaning of the term 'habitual residence' should be interpreted on the basis of definitions by the authorities on a case-by-case basis, in the light of the specific circumstances of the case.
Amendment 10
Proposal for a regulation
Recital 15
(15)  Where the child's habitual residence changes following a lawful relocation, jurisdiction should follow the child in order to maintain the proximity. This should apply where no proceedings are yet pending, and also in pending proceedings. In pending proceedings, however, parties may agree in the interests of the efficiency of justice that the courts of the Member State where proceedings are pending retain jurisdiction until a final decision has been given, provided that this is in the best interests of the child. This possibility is of particular importance where proceedings are nearing conclusion and one parent wishes to relocate to another Member State with the child.
(15)  Where the child's habitual residence changes following a lawful relocation, jurisdiction should follow the child in order to maintain the proximity. In pending proceedings, however, parties may agree in the interests of the efficiency of justice that the courts of the Member State where proceedings are pending retain jurisdiction until a final decision has been given, provided that this is in the best interests of the child. On the other hand, pending proceedings relating to custody and access rights should be concluded by means of a final decision so that persons entitled to custody do not remove a child to another country in order thereby to avoid an unfavourable decision by an authority, unless the parties agree that the pending proceedings should be brought to an end.
Amendment 11
Proposal for a regulation
Recital 17
(17)  This Regulation should not prevent the authorities of a Member State not having jurisdiction over the substance of the matter from taking provisional, including protective measures, in urgent cases, with regard to the person or property of a child present in that Member State. Those measures should be recognised and enforced in all other Member States including the Member States having jurisdiction under this Regulation until a competent authority of such a Member State has taken the measures it considers appropriate. Measures taken by a court in one Member State should however only be amended or replaced by measures also taken by a court in the Member State having jurisdiction over the substance of the matter. An authority only having jurisdiction for provisional, including protective measures should, if seised with an application concerning the substance of the matter, declare of its own motion that it has no jurisdiction. Insofar as the protection of the best interests of the child so requires, the authority should inform, directly or through the Central Authority, the authority of the Member State having jurisdiction over the substance of the matter under this Regulation about the measures taken. The failure to inform the authority of another Member State should however not as such be a ground for the non-recognition of the measure.
(17)  This Regulation should not prevent the authorities of a Member State not having jurisdiction over the substance of the matter from taking provisional, including protective measures, in urgent cases, for instance in cases of domestic or gender-based violence, with regard to the person or property of a child present in that Member State. Those measures should be recognised and enforced in all other Member States including the Member States having jurisdiction under this Regulation until a competent authority of such a Member State has taken the measures it considers appropriate. Measures taken by a court in one Member State should however only be amended or replaced by measures also taken by a court in the Member State having jurisdiction over the substance of the matter. An authority having jurisdiction only for provisional, including protective measures should, if seised with an application concerning the substance of the matter, declare of its own motion that it has no jurisdiction. Insofar as the protection of the best interests of the child so requires, the authority should inform, directly or through the Central Authority and without undue delay, the authority of the Member State having jurisdiction over the substance of the matter under this Regulation about the measures taken. The failure to inform the authority of another Member State should however not as such be a ground for the non-recognition of the measure.
Amendment 12
Proposal for a regulation
Recital 18
(18)  In exceptional cases, the authorities of the Member State of habitual residence of the child may not be the most appropriate authorities to deal with the case. In the best interests of the child, as an exception and under certain conditions, the authority having jurisdiction may transfer its jurisdiction in a specific case to an authority of another Member State if this authority is better placed to hear the case. However, in this case the second authority not be allowed to transfer jurisdiction to a third authority .
(18)  Particular attention should be paid to the fact that, in exceptional cases, such as in cases of domestic or gender-based violence the authorities of the Member State of habitual residence of the child may not be the most appropriate authorities to deal with the case. As an exception and under certain conditions, the authority having jurisdiction may transfer its jurisdiction in a specific case to an authority of another Member State if this authority is better placed to hear the case. However, in this case the agreement of the second authority should be obtained first, since once it has accepted the case it cannot transfer jurisdiction to a third authority. Prior to any transfer of competence, it is essential that the best interests of the child be considered and fully taken into account.
Amendment 13
Proposal for a regulation
Recital 23
(23)  Proceedings in matters of parental responsibility under this Regulation as well as return proceedings under the 1980 Hague Convention should respect the child’s right to express his or her views freely, and when assessing the child’s best interests, due weight should be given to those views. The hearing of the child in accordance with Article 24(1) of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union and Article 12 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child plays an important role in the application of this Regulation. This Regulation is however not intended to set out how to hear the child, for instance, whether the child is heard by the judge in person or by a specially trained expert reporting to the court afterwards, or whether the child is heard in the courtroom or in another place.
(23)  Proceedings in matters of parental responsibility under this Regulation as well as return proceedings under the 1980 Hague Convention should respect the child's right to express his or her views freely, and when assessing the child's best interests, due weight should be given to those views. The hearing of the child in accordance with Article 24(1) of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, Article 12 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Council of Europe Recommendation on the participation of children and young people under the age of 18 1a plays an important role in the application of this Regulation. This Regulation is however not intended to set out common minimum standards regarding the procedure to hear the child, which is still governed by Member States' national provisions.
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1a CM/Rec(2012)2 of 28 March 2012.
Amendment 14
Proposal for a regulation
Recital 26
(26)  In order to conclude the return proceedings under the 1980 Hague Convention as quickly as possible, Member States should concentrate jurisdiction for those proceedings upon one or more courts, taking into account their internal structures for the administration of justice as appropriate. The concentration of jurisdiction upon a limited number of courts within a Member State is an essential and effective tool for speeding up the handling of child abduction cases in several Member States because the judges hearing a larger number of these cases develop particular expertise. Depending on the structure of the legal system, jurisdiction for child abduction cases could be concentrated in one single court for the whole country or in a limited number of courts, using, for example, the number of appellate courts as point of departure and concentrating jurisdiction for international child abduction cases upon one court of first instance within each district of a court of appeal. Every instance should give its decision no later than six weeks after the application or appeal has been lodged with it. Member States should limit the number of appeals possible against a decision granting or refusing the return of a child under the 1980 Hague Child Abduction Convention to one.
(26)  In order to conclude the return proceedings under the 1980 Hague Convention as quickly as possible, Member States should concentrate jurisdiction for those proceedings upon a limited number of courts, taking into account their internal structures for the administration of justice as appropriate. The concentration of jurisdiction upon a limited number of courts within a Member State is an essential and effective tool for speeding up the handling of child abduction cases in several Member States because the judges hearing a larger number of these cases develop particular expertise. Depending on the structure of the legal system, jurisdiction for child abduction cases could be concentrated in a limited number of courts, using, for example, the number of appellate courts as point of departure and concentrating jurisdiction for international child abduction cases upon one court of first instance within each district of a court of appeal, without, however, undermining parties' right of access to justice and the timeliness of the return proceedings. Every instance should give its decision no later than six weeks after the application or appeal has been lodged with it. Member States should limit the number of appeals possible against a decision granting or refusing the return of a child under the 1980 Hague Child Abduction Convention to one. Measures should also be taken to ensure that court judgments handed down in one Member State are recognised in another Member State. When a court judgment has been handed down, it is essential that it also be recognised throughout the European Union, especially in the interests of children.
Amendment 15
Proposal for a regulation
Recital 28
(28)  In all cases concerning children, and in particular in cases of international child abduction, judicial and administrative authorities should consider the possibility of achieving amicable solutions through mediation and other appropriate means, assisted, where appropriate, by existing networks and support structures for mediation in cross-border parental responsibility disputes. Such efforts should not, however, unduly prolong the return proceedings under the 1980 Hague Convention.
(28)  The use of mediation can play a very important role in ending conflicts, in all cases concerning children and especially in the case of cross-border parental conflicts about the custody of and right of access to a child and in cases of international child abduction. In addition, given the increase in cross-border custody disputes across the European Union, where no international framework is available, as a result of the recent migration inflows, mediation has often proven to be the only legal means to help families reach an amicable and prompt solution on family disputes. In order to promote mediation in such cases, the judicial and administrative authorities, assisted, where appropriate, by existing networks and support structures for mediation in cross-border parental responsibility disputes, should assist the parties, before or during the judicial proceedings, in the selection of appropriate mediators and in the organisation of the mediation. The parties should be provided with financial assistance to carry out the mediation at least to the extent to which they have been granted or would have been granted legal aid. Such efforts should not, however, unduly prolong the return proceedings under the 1980 Hague Convention and should not result in mandatory participation of victims of any form of violence, including domestic violence, in mediation proceedings.
Amendment 16
Proposal for a regulation
Recital 28 a (new)
(28a)  In order to offer an effective alternative to court proceedings in national or international matters of family disputes, it is crucial that the mediators involved have undergone appropriate specialised training. The training should cover, in particular, the legal framework of cross-border family disputes, intercultural competence and tools to manage high conflict situations, while at all times having regard to the best interests of the child. Training for judges, as a potential key source of referrals to mediation, should also address how to encourage parties to engage in mediation as early as possible and how to incorporate mediation into court proceedings and the set timeframe of Hague Convention Child Abduction proceedings without causing unnecessary delay.
Amendment 17
Proposal for a regulation
Recital 30
(30)  Where the court of the Member State to or in which the child has been wrongfully removed or retained decides to refuse the child's return under the 1980 Hague Convention, in its decision it should refer explicitly to the relevant articles of the 1980 Hague Convention on which the refusal was based. Such a decision may be replaced, however, by a subsequent decision, given in custody proceedings after a thorough examination of the child's best interests, by the court of the Member State of habitual residence of the child prior to the wrongful removal or retention. Should that decision entail the return of the child, the return should take place without any special procedure being required for the recognition and enforcement of that decision in the Member State to or in which the child has been removed or retained.
(30)  Where the court of the Member State to or in which the child has been wrongfully removed or retained decides to refuse the child's return under the 1980 Hague Convention, in its decision it should refer explicitly to the relevant articles of the 1980 Hague Convention on which the refusal was based and state the grounds therefor. Such a decision may be replaced, however, by a subsequent decision, given in custody proceedings after a thorough examination of the child's best interests, by the court of the Member State of habitual residence of the child prior to the wrongful removal or retention. Should that decision entail the return of the child, the return should take place without any special procedure being required for the recognition and enforcement of that decision in the Member State to or in which the child has been removed or retained.
Amendment 18
Proposal for a regulation
Recital 33
(33)  In addition, the aim of making cross-border litigation concerning children less time consuming and costly justifies the abolition of the declaration of enforceability prior to enforcement in the Member State of enforcement for all decisions on parental responsibility matters. While Regulation (EC) No 2201/2003 only abolished this requirement for decisions granting access and certain decisions ordering the return of a child, this Regulation now provides for a single procedure for the cross-border enforcement of all decisions in matters of parental responsibility. As a result, subject to the provisions of this Regulation, a decision given by the authorities of a Member State should be treated as if it had been given in the Member State of enforcement.
(33)  In addition, the aim of facilitating the free movement of European citizens justifies the abolition of the declaration of enforceability prior to enforcement in the Member State of enforcement for all decisions on parental responsibility falling within the scope of this Regulation. That will, in particular, make cross-border litigation concerning children less time-consuming and costly. While Regulation (EC) No 2201/2003 only abolished this requirement for decisions granting access and certain decisions ordering the return of a child, this Regulation now provides for a single procedure for the cross-border enforcement of all decisions in matters of parental responsibility falling within the scope of this Regulation. As a result, subject to the provisions of this Regulation, a decision given by the authorities of a Member State should be treated as if it had been given in the Member State of enforcement.
Amendment 19
Proposal for a regulation
Recital 37 a (new)
(37a)  Any refusal to recognise a decision as defined in this Regulation on the ground that recognition would be manifestly contrary to the public policy of the Member State concerned should be in accordance with Article 21 of the Charter.
Amendment 20
Proposal for a regulation
Recital 42
(42)  In specific cases in matters of parental responsibility which fall within the scope of this Regulation, Central Authorities should cooperate with each other in providing assistance to national authorities as well as to holders of parental responsibility. Such assistance should in particular include locating the child, either directly or through other competent authorities, where this is necessary for carrying out a request under this Regulation, and providing child-related information required for the purpose of proceedings.
(42)  In specific cases in matters of parental responsibility which fall within the scope of this Regulation, Central Authorities should cooperate with each other in providing assistance to national authorities as well as to holders of parental responsibility. Such assistance should in particular include locating the child, either directly or through other competent authorities, where this is necessary for carrying out a request under this Regulation, and providing child-related information required for the purpose of proceedings. In cases where the jurisdiction is in a Member State other than the Member State of which the child is a national, the central authorities of the Member State with jurisdiction should inform, without undue delay, the central authorities of the Member State of which the child is a national.
Amendment 21
Proposal for a regulation
Recital 44
(44)  Without prejudice to any requirements under its national procedural law, a requesting authority should have the discretion to choose freely between the different channels available to it for obtaining the necessary information, for example, in case of courts by applying Council Regulation (EC) No 1206/2001, by using the European Judicial Network in civil and commercial matters, in particular the Central Authorities established under this Regulation, Network judges and contact points, or in case of judicial and administrative authorities by requesting information through a specialised non-governmental organisation in this field.
(44)  Without prejudice to any requirements under its national procedural law, a requesting authority should have the discretion to choose freely between the different channels available to it for obtaining the necessary information, for example, in case of courts by applying Council Regulation (EC) No 1206/2001, by using the European Judicial Network in civil and commercial matters, in particular the Central Authorities established under this Regulation, Network judges and contact points, or in case of judicial and administrative authorities by requesting information through a specialised non-governmental organisation in this field. International judicial cooperation and communication should be initiated and/or facilitated by specially designated network or liaison judges in each Member State. The role of the European Judicial Network should be differentiated from that of central authorities.
Amendment 22
Proposal for a regulation
Recital 46
(46)  An authority of a Member State contemplating a decision on parental responsibility should be entitled to request the communication of information relevant to the protection of the child from the authorities of another Member State if the best interests of the child so require. Depending on the circumstances, this may include information on proceedings and decisions concerning a parent or siblings of the child, or on the capacity of a parent to care for a child or to have access to the child.
(46)  An authority of a Member State contemplating a decision on parental responsibility should be obliged to require the communication of information relevant to the protection of the child from the authorities of another Member State if the best interests of the child so require. Depending on the circumstances, this may include information on proceedings and decisions concerning a parent or siblings of the child, or on the capacity of a parent or family to care for a child or to have access to the child. The nationality, economic and social situation or cultural and religious background of a parent should not be considered as determining elements when deciding on the capacity to care for a child.
Amendment 23
Proposal for a regulation
Recital 46 a (new)
(46a)  Communication between judges, public authorities, central authorities, professionals assisting the parents and between the parents themselves should be promoted by all means, taking into account, inter alia, that a decision that the child should not be returned may violate the basic rights of the child to the same extent as a decision to return him or her.
Amendment 24
Proposal for a regulation
Recital 48 a (new)
(48a)  Where the interests of the child so require, judges should communicate directly with central authorities or competent courts in other Member States.
Amendment 25
Proposal for a regulation
Recital 49
(49)  Where an authority of a Member State has already given a decision in matters of parental responsibility or is contemplating such a decision and the implementation is to take place in another Member State, the authority may request that the authorities of that other Member State assist in the implementation of the decision. This should apply, for instance, to decisions granting supervised access to be exercised in a Member State other than the Member State where the authority ordering access is located or involving any other accompanying measures of the competent authorities in the Member State where the decision is to be implemented.
(49)  Where an authority of a Member State has already given a decision in matters of parental responsibility or is contemplating such a decision and the implementation is to take place in another Member State, the authority should request that the authorities of that other Member State assist in the implementation of the decision. This should apply, for instance, to decisions granting supervised access to be exercised in a Member State other than the Member State where the authority ordering access is located or involving any other accompanying measures of the competent authorities in the Member State where the decision is to be implemented.
Amendment 26
Proposal for a regulation
Recital 50
(50)  Where an authority of a Member State considers the placement of a child in a foster family or in an institution in another Member State, a consultation procedure through the Central Authorities of both Member States concerned should be carried out prior to the placement. The authority considering the placement should obtain the consent of the competent authority of the Member State in which the child should be placed before ordering the placement. As the placements are most often urgent measures required to remove a child from a situation which puts his or her best interests at risk, time is of the essence for such decisions. In order to speed up the consultation procedure, this Regulation therefore exhaustively establishes the requirements for the request and a time limit for the response from the Member State where the child should be placed. The conditions for granting or refusing consent, however, continue to be governed by the national law of the requested Member State.
(50)  Where an authority of a Member State considers the placement of a child with family members, in a foster family or in an institution in another Member State, a consultation procedure through the Central Authorities of both Member States concerned should be carried out prior to the placement. The authority considering the placement should obtain the consent of the competent authority of the Member State in which the child should be placed before ordering the placement. As the placements are most often urgent measures required to remove a child from a situation which puts his or her best interests at risk, time is of the essence for such decisions. In order to speed up the consultation procedure, this Regulation therefore exhaustively establishes the requirements for the request and a time limit for the response from the Member State where the child should be placed. The conditions for granting or refusing consent, however, continue to be governed by the national law of the requested Member State.
Amendment 27
Proposal for a regulation
Recital 51
(51)  Any long-term placement of a child abroad should be in accordance with Article 24(3) of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU (right to maintain personal contact with parents) and with the provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, notably Articles 8, 9 and 20. In particular, when considering solutions, due regard should be paid to the desirability of continuity in a child's upbringing and to the child's ethnic, religious, cultural and linguistic background.
(51)  State authorities considering the placement of a child should act in accordance with Article 24(3) of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU (right to maintain personal contact with parents) and with the provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, notably Articles 8, 9 and 20. In particular, when considering solutions, due regard should be paid to the possibility of placing siblings in the same host family or establishment and to the desirability of continuity in a child's upbringing and to the child's ethnic, religious, cultural and linguistic background. In the case, in particular, of long-term placement of a child abroad, the relevant authorities should always consider the possibility of placing the child with relatives living in another country, if the child has established a relationship with those members of the family, and following an individual assessment of the child's best interests. Such long-term placements should be subject to periodic review with regard to the child's needs and best interests.
Amendment 28
Proposal for a regulation
Article 1 – paragraph 1 – introductory part
1.  This Regulation applies, whatever the nature of the judicial or administrative authority, in civil matters relating to:
1.  This Regulation applies, whatever the nature of the judicial or administrative authority or other authority with jurisdiction in the matters falling within the scope of this Regulation, in civil matters relating to:
Amendment 29
Proposal for a regulation
Article 1 – paragraph 1 – point b a (new)
(b a)  international child abduction;
Amendment 30
Proposal for a regulation
Article 1 – paragraph 2 – point d
(d)  the placement of the child in a foster family or in institutional care;
(d)  the placement of the child with family members, in a foster family or in secure institutional care abroad;
Amendment 31
Proposal for a regulation
Article 2 – paragraph 1 – point 1
1.  'authority' means any judicial or administrative authority in the Member States with jurisdiction in the matters falling within the scope of this Regulation ;
1.  'authority' means any judicial or administrative authority, and any other authority in the Member States with jurisdiction in the matters falling within the scope of this Regulation ;
Amendment 32
Proposal for a regulation
Article 2 – paragraph 1 – point 3
3.  ‘Member State’ means all Member States with the exception of Denmark;
3.  ‘Member State’ means all Member States of the European Union with the exception of Denmark;
Amendment 33
Proposal for a regulation
Article 2 – paragraph 1 – point 4
4.  'decision' means a decree, order or judgment of an authority of a Member State concerning divorce, legal separation, marriage annulment or parental responsibility;
4.  'decision' means a decree, order, judgment of an authority of a Member State, or an authentic instrument enforceable in a Member State or an agreement between the parties that is enforceable in the Member State in which it is concluded concerning divorce, legal separation, marriage annulment or parental responsibility;
Amendment 34
Proposal for a regulation
Article 2 – paragraph 1 – point 12 – introductory part
12.  ‘wrongful removal or retention’ means a child's removal or retention where:
12.  'international child abduction' means a child's removal or retention where:
Amendment 35
Proposal for a regulation
Article 7 – paragraph 1
1.  The authorities of a Member State shall have jurisdiction in matters of parental responsibility over a child who is habitually resident in that Member State. Where a child moves lawfully from one Member State to another and acquires a new habitual residence there, the authorities of the Member State of the new habitual residence shall have jurisdiction.
1.  The authorities of a Member State shall have jurisdiction in matters of parental responsibility over a child who is habitually resident in that Member State. Where a child moves lawfully from one Member State to another and acquires a new habitual residence there, the authorities of the Member State of the new habitual residence shall have jurisdiction, unless the parties agree before the move that jurisdiction should continue to lie with the authority of the Member State where the child has hitherto been habitually resident.
Amendment 36
Proposal for a regulation
Article 7 – paragraph 1 a (new)
1a.  Where custody and access proceedings are pending, the authority of the Member State of origin shall retain jurisdiction until the proceedings have concluded, unless the parties agree that the proceedings should be brought to an end.
Amendment 37
Proposal for a regulation
Article 8 – paragraph 2
2.  Paragraph 1 shall not apply if the holder of access rights referred to in paragraph 1 has accepted the jurisdiction of the authorities of the Member State of the child’s new habitual residence by participating in proceedings before those authorities without contesting their jurisdiction.
2.  Paragraph 1 shall not apply if the holder of access rights referred to in paragraph 1, having been informed by the authorities of the former habitual residence of the legal implications, has accepted the jurisdiction of the authorities of the Member State of the child’s new habitual residence by participating, that information notwithstanding, in proceedings before those authorities without contesting their jurisdiction.
Amendment 38
Proposal for a regulation
Article 9 – paragraph 1 – point b – point i
(i)  within one year after the holder of rights of custody has had or should have had knowledge of the whereabouts of the child, no request for return has been lodged before the competent authorities of the Member State where the child has been removed or is being retained;
(i)  within one year after the holder of rights of custody has had or should have had knowledge of the whereabouts of the child, and notwithstanding the fact that he or she has been informed by the authorities of the legal requirement to make a request for return, no such request has been lodged before the competent authorities of the Member State where the child has been removed or is being retained;
Amendment 39
Proposal for a regulation
Article 10 – paragraph 5 – subparagraph 1 a (new)
The designated judges shall be practicing and experienced family judges, in particular with experience in matters having a cross-border jurisdictional dimension.
Amendment 40
Proposal for a regulation
Article 12 – paragraph 1 – subparagraph 1
In urgent cases, the authorities of a Member State where the child or property belonging to the child is present shall have jurisdiction to take provisional, including protective, measures in respect of that child or property.
In urgent cases, the authorities of a Member State where the child or property belonging to the child is present shall have jurisdiction to take provisional, including protective, measures in respect of that child or property. Such measures should not unduly delay the proceedings and final decisions on custody and access rights.
Amendment 41
Proposal for a regulation
Article 12 – paragraph 1 – subparagraph 2
In so far as the protection of the best interests of the child so requires, the authority having taken the protective measures shall inform the authority of the Member State having jurisdiction under this Regulation as to the substance of the matter, either directly or through the Central Authority designated pursuant to Article 60.
In so far as the protection of the best interests of the child so requires, the authority having taken the protective measures shall inform the authority of the Member State having jurisdiction under this Regulation as to the substance of the matter, either directly or through the Central Authority designated pursuant to Article 60. That authority shall ensure the equal treatment of the parents involved in the proceedings, and shall ensure that they are thoroughly informed without delay about all the measures in question, in a language they fully understand.
Amendment 42
Proposal for a regulation
Article 12 – paragraph 2
2.  The measures taken pursuant to paragraph 1 shall cease to apply as soon as the authority of the Member State having jurisdiction under this Regulation as to the substance of the matter has taken the measures it considers appropriate.
2.  The measures taken pursuant to paragraph 1 shall cease to apply as soon as the authority of the Member State having jurisdiction under this Regulation as to the substance of the matter has taken the measures it considers appropriate and from the moment it notifies the authority of the Member State in which the provisional measures were taken of those measures.
Amendment 43
Proposal for a regulation
Article 19 – paragraph 2 a (new)
2 a.  In cases referred to in paragraphs 1 and 2, upon request by an authority seised of the dispute, any other authority seised shall without delay inform the requesting authority of the date when it was seised in accordance with Article 15.
Amendment 44
Proposal for a regulation
Article 20
Article 20
Article 20
Right of the child to express his or her views
Right of the child to express his or her views
When exercising their jurisdiction under Section 2 of this Chapter, the authorities of the Member States shall ensure that a child who is capable of forming his or her own views is given the genuine and effective opportunity to express those views freely during the proceedings.
When exercising their jurisdiction under Section 2 of this Chapter, the authorities of the Member States shall ensure that a child who is capable of forming his or her own views is given the genuine and effective opportunity to express those views freely during the proceedings, in accordance with the relevant national procedural rules, Article 24(1) of the Charter, with Article 12 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Council of Europe Recommendation to member States on the participation of children and young people under the age of 181a. Authorities shall document their considerations in this regard in the decision.
The hearing of a child exercising his or her right to express his or her views shall be conducted by a judge or by a specially trained expert in accordance with national provisions, without any pressure, in particular parental pressure, in a child-friendly setting appropriate for his or her age in terms of language and content and shall provide all the guarantees that allow the emotional integrity and the best interests of the child to be protected.
The hearing of the child shall not be conducted in the presence of the parties to the proceedings or their legal representatives, but shall be recorded and added to the documentation so that the parties and their legal representatives can have the opportunity to see the record of the hearing.
The authority shall give due weight to the child's views in accordance with his or her age and maturity and document its considerations in the decision.
The authority shall give due weight to the child's views in accordance with his or her age and maturity, taking into account the best interests of the child, and document its considerations in the decision.
_______________
1a CM/Rec(2012)2 of 28 March 2012.
Amendment 45
Proposal for a regulation
Article 23 – paragraph 2
2.  As early as possible during the proceedings, the court shall examine whether the parties are willing to engage in mediation to find, in the best interests of the child, an agreed solution, provided that this does not unduly delay the proceedings.
2.  As early as possible during the proceedings, the court shall examine whether the parties are willing to engage in mediation to find, in the best interests of the child, an agreed solution, provided that this does not unduly delay the proceedings. In that event, the court shall ask the parties to make use of mediation.
Amendment 46
Proposal for a regulation
Article 25 – paragraph 3
3.  The court may declare the decision ordering the return of the child provisionally enforceable notwithstanding any appeal, even if national law does not provide for such provisional enforceability.
3.  The court may declare the decision ordering the return of the child provisionally enforceable notwithstanding any appeal, even if national law does not provide for such provisional enforceability, taking account of the best interests of the child.
Amendment 47
Proposal for a regulation
Article 25 – paragraph 5 a (new)
5 a.  When a judicial authority has ordered the return of the child, it shall notify the central authority of the Member State of the habitual residence of the child prior to the wrongful removal of such decision and the date upon which it takes effect.
Amendment 48
Proposal for a regulation
Article 32 – paragraph 4
4.  Where the decision was not enforced within six weeks from the moment the enforcement proceedings were initiated, the court of the Member State of enforcement shall inform the requesting Central Authority in the Member State of origin, or the applicant, if the proceedings were instituted without Central Authority assistance, about this fact and the reasons.
4.  Where the decision was not enforced within six weeks from the moment the enforcement proceedings were initiated, the court of the Member State of enforcement shall duly inform the requesting Central Authority in the Member State of origin, or the applicant, if the proceedings were instituted without Central Authority assistance, about this fact and the reasons and shall provide an estimated time of enforcement.
Amendment 49
Proposal for a regulation
Article 37 – paragraph 1 – point a
(a)  if such recognition is manifestly contrary to the public policy of the Member State in which recognition is sought; or
(a)  if such recognition is manifestly contrary to the public policy of the Member State in which recognition is sought, though refusal may not result in any form of discrimination prohibited under Article 21 of the Charter; or
Amendment 50
Proposal for a regulation
Article 38 – paragraph 1 – introductory part
1.  On the application of any interested party, the recognition of a decision relating to parental responsibility shall be refused:
1.  On the application of any interested party, a decision relating to parental responsibility shall not be recognised:
Amendment 51
Proposal for a regulation
Article 38 – paragraph 1 – point b
(b)  where it was given in default of appearance if the person in default was not served with the document which instituted the proceedings or with an equivalent document in sufficient time and in such a way as to enable that person to arrange for his or her defence unless it is determined that such person has accepted the decision unequivocally; or
(b)  where the decision was given in default of appearance if the person in default was not served with the document which instituted the proceedings or with an equivalent document in sufficient time and in such a way as to enable that person to arrange for his or her defence unless it is determined that such person has accepted the decision unequivocally; or
Amendment 52
Proposal for a regulation
Article 58 – paragraph 1
An applicant who, in the Member State of origin, has benefited from complete or partial legal aid or exemption from costs or expenses shall be entitled, in the procedures provided for in Article 27(3), Articles 32, 39 and 42 to benefit from the most favourable legal aid or the most extensive exemption from costs and expenses provided for by the law of the Member State of enforcement.
An applicant who, in the Member State of origin, has benefited from complete or partial legal aid, aid to cover costs incurred in mediation, or exemption from costs or expenses shall be entitled, in the procedures provided for in Article 27(3) and Articles 32, 39 and 42 to benefit from the most favourable legal aid or the most extensive exemption from costs and expenses provided for by the law of the Member State of enforcement.
Amendment 53
Proposal for a regulation
Article 63 – paragraph 1 – point a
(a)  provide, on the request of the Central Authority of another Member State, assistance in discovering the whereabouts of a child where it appears that the child may be present within the territory of the requested Member State and the determination of the whereabouts of the child is necessary for carrying out a request under this Regulation;
(a)  provide, on the request of the Central Authority of another Member State, assistance in discovering the whereabouts of a child where it appears that the child may be present within the territory of the requested Member State and the determination of the whereabouts of the child is necessary for the application of this Regulation;
Amendment 54
Proposal for a regulation
Article 63 – paragraph 1 – point d
(d)  facilitate communications between authorities , in particular for the application of Article 14, Article 25(1)(a), Article 26(2) and the second subparagraph of Article 26(4);
(d)  facilitate communications between court authorities, in particular for the application of Articles 14 and 19, Article 25(1)(a), Article 26(2) and the second subparagraph of Article 26(4);
Amendment 55
Proposal for a regulation
Article 63 – paragraph 1 – point e a (new)
(ea)   inform the holders of parental responsibility about legal aid and assistance, such as assistance provided by specialised bilingual lawyers, in order to prevent holders of parental responsibility from giving their consent without having understood the scope of that consent.
Amendment 56
Proposal for a regulation
Article 63 – paragraph 1 – point g
(g)  ensure that where they initiate or facilitate the institution of court proceedings for the return of children under the 1980 Hague Convention, the file prepared in view of such proceedings, save where exceptional circumstances make this impossible, is complete within six weeks.
(g)  ensure that where they initiate or facilitate the institution of court proceedings for the return of children under the 1980 Hague Convention, the file prepared in view of such proceedings, save where exceptional circumstances make this impossible, is complete and submitted to the court or other competent authority within six weeks.
Amendment 57
Proposal for a regulation
Article 64 – paragraph 1 – introductory part
1.  Upon a request made with supporting reasons by the Central Authority or an authority of a Member State with which the child has a substantial connection, the Central Authority of the Member State where the child is habitually resident and present may, directly or through authorities or other bodies:
1.  Upon a request made with supporting reasons by the Central Authority or an authority of a Member State with which the child has a substantial connection, the Central Authority of the Member State where the child is habitually resident and present shall, directly or through authorities or other bodies:
Amendment 58
Proposal for a regulation
Article 64 – paragraph 2
2.  Where a decision in matters of parental responsibility is contemplated, an authority of a Member State, if the situation of the child so requires, may request any authority of another Member State which has information relevant to the protection of the child to communicate such information.
2.  Where a decision in matters of parental responsibility is contemplated, an authority of a Member State, if the situation of the child so requires, shall request any authority of another Member State which has information relevant to the protection of the child to communicate such information.
Amendment 59
Proposal for a regulation
Article 64 – paragraph 2 a (new)
2а.  Where matters of parental responsibility are under scrutiny, the central authority of the Member State where the child is habitually resident shall inform, without undue delay, the central authority of the Member State of which the child or one of the child’s parents is a national on the existence of proceedings.
Amendment 60
Proposal for a regulation
Article 64 – paragraph 3
3.  An authority of a Member State may request the authorities of another Member State to assist in the implementation of decisions in matters of parental responsibility given under this Regulation, especially in securing the effective exercise of rights of access as well as of the right to maintain direct contact on a regular basis.
3.  An authority of a Member State shall request the authorities of another Member State to assist in the implementation of decisions in matters of parental responsibility given under this Regulation, especially in securing the effective exercise of rights of access as well as of the right to maintain direct contact on a regular basis.
Amendment 61
Proposal for a regulation
Article 64 – paragraph 5
5.  The authorities of a Member State where the child is not habitually resident shall, upon request of a person residing in that Member State who is seeking to obtain or to maintain access to the child, or upon request of a Central Authority of another Member State, gather information or evidence, and may make a finding, on the suitability of that person to exercise access and on the conditions under which access should be exercised.
5.  The authorities of a Member State where the child is not habitually resident shall, upon request of a parent or family member residing in that Member State who are seeking to obtain or to maintain access to the child, or upon request of a Central Authority of another Member State, gather information or evidence, and may make a finding, on the suitability of those persons to exercise access and on the conditions under which access should be exercised.
Amendment 62
Proposal for a regulation
Article 64 – paragraph 5 a (new)
5a.  An authority of a Member State may request the central authority of another Member State to provide information on the national law of that Member State with regard to issues that fall within the scope of this Regulation and are relevant for the examination of a case under this Regulation. The authority of the Member State to which a request is submitted shall respond as soon as possible.
Amendment 63
Proposal for a regulation
Article 65 – paragraph 1
1.  Where an authority having jurisdiction under this Regulation contemplates the placement of a child in institutional care or with a foster family in another Member State, it shall first obtain the consent of the competent authority in that other Member State. To that effect it shall, through the Central Authority of its own Member State, transmit to the Central Authority of the Member State where the child is to be placed a request for consent which includes a report on the child together with the reasons for the proposed placement or provision of care.
1.  Where an authority having jurisdiction under this Regulation contemplates the placement of a child with family members, in foster families, or in secure institutional care in another Member State, it shall first obtain the consent of the competent authority in that other Member State. To that effect it shall, through the Central Authority of its own Member State, transmit to the Central Authority of the Member State where the child is to be placed a request for consent which includes a report on the child together with the reasons for the proposed placement or provision of care. Member States shall ensure that parents and relatives of the child, regardless of their place of residence, can have regular access, except where this would jeopardise the well-being of the child.
Amendment 64
Proposal for a regulation
Article 65 – paragraph 4 – subparagraph 1 a (new)
If the competent authority intends to send social workers to another Member State in order to determine whether a placement there is compatible with the well-being of the child, it shall inform the Member State concerned accordingly.
Amendment 65
Proposal for a regulation
Article 66 – paragraph 4
4.  Each Central Authority shall bear its own costs.
4.  Save where otherwise agreed between the requesting Member State and the requested Member State, each Central Authority shall bear its own costs.
Amendment 66
Proposal for a regulation
Article 79 – paragraph 1
By [10 years after the date of application] the Commission shall present to the European Parliament, to the Council and to the European Economic and Social Committee a report on the ex post evaluation of this Regulation supported by information supplied by the Member States. The report shall be accompanied, where necessary, by a legislative proposal.
By [five years after the date of application] the Commission shall present to the European Parliament, to the Council and to the European Economic and Social Committee a report on the ex-post evaluation of this Regulation supported by information supplied by the Member States. The report shall be accompanied, where necessary, by a legislative proposal.
Amendment 67
Proposal for a regulation
Article 79 – paragraph 2 – point a a (new)
(aa)  the number of cases and decisions in mediation procedures in matters of parental responsibility;

(1) OJ C 77, 28.3.2002, p. 1.


Implementation of the Youth Employment Initiative in the Member States
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European Parliament resolution of 18 January 2018 on the implementation of the Youth Employment Initiative in the Member States (2017/2039(INI))
P8_TA(2018)0018A8-0406/2017

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 1304/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 December 2013 on the European Social Fund and repealing Council Regulation (EC) No 1081/2006(1),

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) 2015/779 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 May 2015 amending Regulation (EU) No 1304/2013, as regards an additional initial pre-financing amount paid to operational programmes supported by the Youth Employment Initiative(2),

–  having regard to the Council Recommendation of 22 April 2013 on establishing a Youth Guarantee(3),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 4 October 2016 entitled ‘The Youth Guarantee and Youth Employment Initiative three years on’ (COM(2016)0646),

–  having regard to the European Court of Auditors’ (ECA) Special Report No 3/2015 of March 2015 entitled ‘EU Youth Guarantee: first steps taken but implementation risks ahead’,

–  having regard to the ECA Special Report No 5/2017 of March 2017 entitled ‘Youth unemployment – have EU policies made a difference? An assessment of the Youth Guarantee and the Youth Employment Initiative’,

–  having regard to its resolution of 24 October 2017 on control of spending and monitoring of EU Youth Guarantee schemes’ cost-effectiveness(4),

–  having regard to its Policy Department for Budgetary Affairs’ in-depth analysis of 3 February 2016 entitled ‘Assessment of Youth Employment Initiative’,

–  having regard to the Commission proposal of 10 June 2016 for a Council Recommendation on establishing a Skills Guarantee (COM(2016)0382),

–  having regard to its resolution of 24 May 2012 on the Youth Opportunities Initiative(5),

–   having regard to the Council Recommendation of 10 March 2014 on a Quality Framework for Traineeships,

–  having regard to the European Social Charter, the Additional Protocol thereto and the revised version thereof, which entered into force on 1 July 1999,

–  having regard to the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in particular SDG 8, to ‘promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all’, which were adopted by the UN in 2015 and which apply to the whole world, including the EU,

–  having regard to the report by Jean-Claude Juncker in close cooperation with Donald Tusk, Jeroen Dijsselbloem, Mario Draghi and Martin Schulz of 22 June 2015 on completing Europe’s economic and monetary union (the ‘Five Presidents’ Report’), the Commission reflection papers of 26 April 2017 on the social dimension of Europe and of 31 May 2017 on deepening the European Monetary Union, and the Commission White Paper of 1 March 2017 on the future of Europe,

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 26 April 2017 establishing a European Pillar of Social Rights (COM(2017)0250) and Commission Recommendation (EU) 2017/761 of 26 April 2017 on the European Pillar of Social Rights(6),

–  having regard to the work and research of Eurofound, Cedefop, the International Labour Organisation (ILO), the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) and the European Trade Union Institute (ETUI), the Confederation of European Business (BusinessEurope), the European Association of Craft, Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (UEAPME), the European Centre of Enterprises with Public Participation and of Enterprises of General Economic Interest (CEEP), Eurocities and the European Youth Forum,

–  having regard to President Juncker’s State of the Union speech of 13 September 2017, the Roadmap for a More United, Stronger and More Democratic Union (Draft Commission Work Programme up to end 2018) and the letter of intent from the Commission to President Antonio Tajani and to Estonian Prime Minister Jüri Ratas of 13 September 2017,

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs and the opinions of the Committee on Budgets, the Committee on Budgetary Control, the Committee on Culture and Education and the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality (A8-0406/2017),

A.  whereas the financial and economic crisis caused the youth unemployment rate to rise from 15 % in 2008 to a peak of 24 % in early 2013, with this average rate masking huge divergences across Member States and regions; whereas youth unemployment rates in 2013 stayed close to 10 % in Germany, Austria and the Netherlands while peaking at close to or well over 40 % in Italy, Spain, Croatia and Greece;

B.  whereas measures to reduce public spending have shown a direct negative impact, in particular on young people, owing to cuts in education, training, employment creation and support services;

C.  whereas policies affecting young people have been developed without the involvement of the young people concerned and their representatives;

D.  whereas long spells of youth unemployment risk marginalising and excluding young people from society, make them feel isolated and can cause ‘scarring effects’, meaning that there is a higher probability that they will become unemployed again and face lower earnings and career prospects during their working lives; whereas the side-lining of young people represents a loss of public and private investment, leading to widespread job insecurity and skills erosion, given the unused and faltering human potential that it entails;

E.  whereas in 2012, one in three European employees were either over- or under-qualified for their jobs(7), and whereas young employees are typically more likely to be formally over-qualified, while also more likely than older workers to have jobs less matched to their skills;

F.  whereas young workers are at a higher risk of finding themselves in a position of precarious employment; whereas the odds of being in an occupation with multiple disadvantages are twice as high for workers under 25 than for workers aged 50 and over(8);

G.  whereas a successful school-to-work and inactivity-to-work transition and having a first real job empower and motivate young people, helping them develop their personal and professional skills so that they can become independent, self-confident citizens and get their careers off to a good start;

H.  whereas having peaked at 24 % in 2013, the youth unemployment rate in the EU-28 has steadily dropped, reaching below 17 % in 2017; whereas the level of youth unemployment remains high, there being just a few Member States (Austria, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, Malta, Hungary and Germany) with a youth unemployment rate of less than 11 %, and there are serious disparities between the Member States;

I.  whereas an analysis of the gender breakdown of full-time and part-time work across Europe reveals that the gender gap persisted between 2007 and 2017, where men continue to make up around 60 % of 15-24-year-olds in full-time employment, while consistently accounting for around 40 % of the same age group in part-time employment;

J.  whereas regrettably, as a statistical given, the youth unemployment rate is generally about twice the average overall unemployment rate, both during periods of economic growth and during recessions;

Youth Employment Initiative and Youth Guarantee

K.  whereas on 22 April 2013, the Council, by means of a Council Recommendation, established the Youth Guarantee (YG), by which the Member States commit themselves to offering young people a good-quality offer of employment, continued education, an apprenticeship or a traineeship within a period of four months of becoming unemployed or leaving formal education;

L.  whereas given that many Member States have not enjoyed great success with the regulations and opportunities hitherto available in the fight against youth unemployment, they should place more emphasis on effective use of the funding and tools available under the European Social Fund (ESF);

M.  whereas in February 2013, the Council agreed to create the Youth Employment Initiative (YEI), which was launched as the main EU budgetary instrument – linked to the ESF – to help Member State regions experiencing particularly high levels of youth unemployment, in particular by introducing YG schemes;

N.  whereas the YG is an EU-wide commitment, while the YEI is targeted to those Member States and regions where youth unemployment rates are above 25 %, with a total of 20 Member States either partly or totally eligible;

O.  whereas a quick mobilisation of funds was sought by frontloading the YEI budget for 2014 and 2015 in order to maximise the impact of YEI-funded measures; whereas owing to delays in implementation at national and regional level, frontloading in itself fell short as a measure; whereas in 2015, the pre-financing rate was raised conditionally from 1 % to 30 % and a majority of eligible Member States applied this measure successfully;

P.  whereas one main ambition of the YEI and YG is to reach out to those young people Not in Employment, Education or Training (NEETs), who are at the highest risk of exclusion, while taking into account that the term ‘NEETs’ covers various subgroups of young people with diverse needs;

Q.  whereas the YG is designed to achieve the sustainable integration of NEETs into the labour market by offering an individualised approach, leading to a good-quality offer and enhancing young people’s employability, while in a broader context supporting young people in the school-to-work transition and helping to address skills mismatches on the labour market; whereas appropriate outreach strategies by the Member States are necessary in this regard;

R.  whereas in 2015, the ILO estimated the cost of implementing the YG throughout the EU-28 to be EUR 45 billion; whereas the YEI for the 2014-2020 programming period was endowed with a modest budget of EUR 6,4 billion, with the aim of complementing national funding and not replacing it;

S.  whereas the Commission proposed that the YEI budget be increased by EUR 1 billion, to be matched by EUR 1 billion in ESF commitments, within the framework of the revision of the multiannual financial framework (MFF) for 2017-2020; whereas following an agreement between Parliament and the Council, the figure was raised to EUR 1,2 billion; whereas on 5 September 2017, Parliament adopted Draft amending budget No 3/2017 in order to provide an additional EUR 500 million for the YEI in 2017, financed by the Global Margin for Commitments, while also regretting the delay in the 2017 budgetary procedure owing to the blockage and late approval by the Council of the mid-term MFF revision;

T.  whereas in its first Special Report on the YG, the ECA raised concerns about the adequacy of (both EU and national) funding of the initiative, the definition of a ‘good-quality offer’, the lack of a strategy with clear milestones and objectives, and monitoring and reporting on the results; whereas it also raised concerns about the lack of success of the application of the partnership approach, as enshrined in the Council Recommendation of 22 April 2013, in the development of the YG;

U.  whereas truly effective mechanisms are required for the discussion and resolution of difficulties experienced when implementing YG schemes, together with a strong commitment by the Member States to implementing the YG in full, taking particular account of local conditions and enabling skills enhancement, and putting in place proper, flexible evaluation structures;

V.  whereas the ECA’s Special Report on the YG identified some common criteria for what constitutes a ‘good-quality offer’, with Slovakia making its definition legally binding, covering provisions for minimum working time and sustainability of employment after cessation of YEI support, and taking into account the health status of the recipient;

W.  whereas in its recently published second Special Report on the YEI and the YG, conducted on the basis of a seven Member State sample, the ECA voiced concerns that it was difficult to access complete data and that limited progress had been made with YG implementation, with results falling short of initial expectations; whereas the YEI and the YG still represent one of the most innovative and ambitious policy responses to youth unemployment in the wake of the economic crisis, and should therefore have the continued financial and political support of EU, national and regional institutions in their delivery in the years to come;

X.  whereas the cost-effectiveness of the YEI and the ultimate goal of the YG to have young people entering sustainable employment can only be achieved if operations are properly monitored on the basis of reliable and comparable data, if programmes are result-oriented, and if adjustments are made in cases where ineffective and cost-intensive measures are detected;

Y.  whereas more efforts are required on the part of the Member States to support and target the young people furthest or entirely detached from the labour market, such as young people with disabilities;

Z.  whereas the YEI and the YG are meant to play a central role in the achievement of the key principles of the European Pillar of Social Rights;

AA.  whereas in his 2017 State of the Union speech, the President of the Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, made no mention of the youth unemployment situation in Europe, which remains alarming; whereas the letter of intent accompanying the 2017 State of the Union speech acknowledged the role of the YG in helping to create jobs in the EU; whereas the fight against unemployment and youth unemployment in particular should remain a priority for EU action;

AB.  whereas it has been reported that young people have experienced delays in payment under YEI-funded measures, often caused by the late establishment of managing authorities or the insufficient administrative capacity of national or regional authorities;

AC.  whereas YEI and YG measures such as internships and traineeships should help to facilitate transition into the labour market and should never be a substitute for regular employment contracts;

AD.  whereas for young women in rural areas, irregular employment arrangements or the failure to register as unemployed renders statistical data imprecise and creates disparities in their pensions; whereas this practice has a negative influence on society as a whole and, in particular, on women’s well-being, other forms of social insurance, and career change or future employment opportunities;

AE.  whereas 16 million NEETs have entered YG schemes and the YEI has provided direct support to over 1,6 million young people in the EU;

AF.  whereas under the YEI, Member States have adopted more than 132 labour market measures targeting young people;

AG.  whereas 75 % of the total YEI budget has been committed and 19 % has already been invested by the Member States, making the YEI budget implementation rate the highest among the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESI Funds);

AH.  whereas several reports on YEI implementation show that despite the concerns about the adequacy of the funding and the estimates of the total investment required, the available resources are being channelled successfully to meet regional demand by targeting specific regions and groups of beneficiaries;

AI.  whereas since the introduction of the European Employment Strategy in 1997, the Commission has supported a number of measures designed to improve young people’s employment and education prospects(9); whereas since the crisis, the EU’s efforts have been focused in particular on the YG and the YEI;

AJ.  whereas the YG is financed through the ESF, national budgets and the YEI, while the YEI can finance the direct provision of jobs, apprenticeships, traineeships or continued education for the YEI target group in the eligible regions; whereas YEI intervention has no predefined duration, while the YG requires an offer to be made within four months;

AK.  whereas the YG has led to the implementation of structural reforms in the Member States, notably with a view to aligning their education and training models with the labour market so as to achieve YG objectives;

AL.  whereas external factors, such as the specific economic situation or the production model of each region, influence the achievement of the goals set out in the YG;

Introduction

1.  Believes that the YG must be a first step towards the employment needs of young people; recalls that employers have an obligation to participate in the process of providing young people with accessible vocational training programmes, entry level jobs and quality internships;

2.  Stresses that the qualitative aspect of decent work for young people must never be compromised; underlines that the core labour standards and other standards related to the quality of work, such as working time, the minimum wage, social security, and occupational health and safety, must be central considerations in the efforts made;

3.  Notes the significant divergence in economic performance in terms of both economic and employment growth across the EU-28, which calls for a decisive policy response; recognises that certain Member States are lagging behind in the implementation of necessary structural reforms; notes that it is sound economic policies, as well as employment and investment policies, which are ultimately a Member State responsibility, that create jobs; expresses its concern about the long-term impact on the economic development of regions that are experiencing a brain drain of highly educated people;

4.  Recalls that under the YEI implementing rules, Member States must choose between different ways of implementing the programme (as a dedicated programme, as priority axes within an existing operational programme or as part of several different priority axes); points out that given the various options for implementation and on the basis of the results obtained, an exchange of best practices is required with a view to taking them on board during future phases of the programme;

5.  Notes with concern that ECA Special Report No 5/2017 states that there is a risk that EU funding is simply replacing national funding rather than creating added value; recalls that in line with the principle of additionality, the YEI aims to complement national funding and not to replace Member States’ own policies and funding to fight youth unemployment; stresses that the YEI budget cannot and was never meant to single-handedly shoulder the ambition of providing all young people with a good-quality offer of employment, continued education, an apprenticeship or a traineeship within a period of four months of becoming unemployed or leaving formal education;

6.  Stresses the need for the YEI to be a driver for policy reform in particular and for better coordination in the fields of employment and education, especially in Member States experiencing high rates of youth unemployment, with a view to ensuring that those Member States introduce integrated, comprehensive and long-term approaches to tackling youth unemployment which enhance the employability of young people, give them better prospects and lead to sustainable employment, as opposed to pursuing a range of fragmented (existing) policies; considers the YEI and the YG to be powerful instruments in the fight against the social exclusion of the groups of young people that are most marginalised; believes that it is important to work towards achieving the objectives of the Europe 2020 strategy on employment, school drop-out rates and social exclusion;

7.  Recalls that in line with the Council Recommendation on establishing a Youth Guarantee, six guidelines were defined on which YG schemes were to be based: building up partnership-based approaches, early intervention and activation, supportive measures enabling labour market integration, use of Union funds, assessment and continuous improvement of the scheme, and its swift implementation; points out that according to the assessment reports, very few Member States have provided data on and full assessments of these aspects;

8.  Stresses that more should be invested in both domestic mobility and cross-border mobility in order to reduce the youth unemployment rate and address skills mismatches; calls for the supply of work and skills to be better aligned with demand by facilitating mobility between regions (including cross-border regions); recognises that the Member States must devote special attention to providing a better link between education systems and labour markets in the cross-border regions, for example by promoting education in neighbouring languages;

9.  Recalls that the high rate of youth unemployment is caused by: the effects of the global economic crisis on labour markets, early school leaving without sufficient qualifications, a lack of relevant skills and work experience, the increasing prevalence of precarious forms of short-term employment followed by periods of unemployment, limited training opportunities, and insufficient or inadequate active labour market programmes;

10.  Takes the view that the monitoring of the YEI needs to be backed up by reliable data; considers the monitoring data and results available at present insufficient to carry out an overall assessment of the implementation and results of the YEI as the main EU financing vehicle for YG schemes, in particular as a result of the initial delays in the setting up of operational programmes by Member States and the fact that they are still in the relatively early stages of implementation; insists on the need to maintain youth employment as one of the priorities of EU action; is concerned, however, at the findings of the recent ECA report on the impact of the YEI and YG as Union policies aimed at tackling youth unemployment, while bearing in mind its limited territorial and temporal scope;

11.  Takes the view that in order to be truly effective, a strategy to boost youth employment should provide for round-table discussions involving those concerned, take account of the territorial context in which it is to be implemented and provide for targeted training that meets the needs of businesses while balancing them with the aspirations and skills of young people; stresses that the same strategy should ensure high-quality training and total transparency in the allocation of funding to training agencies, including through careful monitoring of its use;

12.  Deplores the fact that the Member States have chosen to commit themselves only through the non-binding instrument of the Council Recommendation; points out that the aim of the YG is far from being achieved in many Member States;

Reaching out to the most excluded young people

13.  Notes the risk that young people with disabilities fall within the scope of neither the YEI nor the YG; calls on the Commission and the Member States to adapt their operational programmes in order to ensure that YEI and YG measures are actually accessible to all people with disabilities, providing equity of access for disabled young people and matching individual needs;

14.  Stresses that reaching out to NEETs requires strong and sustained efforts by national authorities and cross-sectoral cooperation, as NEETs are a heterogeneous group with diverse needs and skills; stresses the need, therefore, for accurate and comprehensive data on the entire NEET population, with the objective of registering them and reaching out to them more effectively, since more disaggregated data, including on a region-by-region basis, could identify which groups should be targeted and how to better tailor employment initiatives to recipients;

15.  Believes that the YG and the YEI are no substitute for using macroeconomic instruments and other policies to promote youth employment; adds that when assessing the implementation and impact of the YG, it is important to bear in mind the differing macro-economic climates and budgetary situations in the Member States; considers that a long-term structural reform programme needs to be mapped out for the YG if its duration is to be extended; stresses the clear need for more effective coordination between the different Member States;

16.  Supports the development of one-stop-shops that can ensure that all services and guidance are easily accessible, available and free of charge for young people in one location;

17.  Is concerned about initial observations which show that improvements need to be made in the registration of and outreach to all NEETs, in particular inactive NEETs and those who are proving difficult to re-integrate; calls on the Member States to establish appropriate and tailored outreach strategies to reach all NEETs and to take an integrated approach towards making more individualised assistance and services available to support young people facing multiple barriers; urges the Member States to pay special attention to the needs of vulnerable NEETs and to eliminate prejudiced and negative attitudes towards them;

18.  Stresses the need to tailor measures to local needs in order to increase their impact; calls on the Member States to implement special youth employment measures in rural areas;

19.  Calls on the Member States to rapidly improve the communication of existing support programmes available to young people, especially to the groups furthest from the labour market, through awareness‑raising campaigns, using both traditional and modern media channels such as social networks;

Ensuring the quality of offers under the Youth Employment Initiative

20.  Recognises the call to define what a ‘quality offer’ in the framework of the YEI should be; highlights the need to elaborate a comprehensive, commonly agreed definition which could take into account the work undertaken in the EMCO Committee in collaboration with the Commission, the ILO and the relevant stakeholders; points out that a good-quality offer is a multifaceted measure leading to sustainable, well-matched integration in the labour market for participants, achieved through the development of skills, and that it should match the participants’ qualification level and profile and take into account employment demand; urges the Member States to ensure that the relevant social protection, rules on working conditions and compensation levels are applied to participants; draws attention to the quality standards mentioned in the Guidance on evaluation of the Youth Employment Initiative published by the Commission in 2015, which establishes the characteristics of employment offers, their relevance to participant needs, the labour market outcomes produced by the offers and the proportion of offers not accepted or abandoned prematurely as valid indicators for the assessment of quality employment;

21.  Recalls that the ILO defines ‘decent work’ as work that is ‘productive and delivers a fair income, security in the workplace and social protection for families, better prospects for personal development and social integration, freedom for people to express their concerns, organise and participate in the decisions that affect their lives and equality of opportunity and treatment for all women and men’, and that this minimum standard remains unmet for young people in employment;

22.  Is of the opinion that young people should also be involved in the monitoring of the quality of offers;

23.  Stresses that a quality traineeship contract must respect a quality framework offering the following guarantees: a traineeship must be governed by a written contract containing transparent information on the rights and obligations of the contracting parties, establishing concrete objectives and outlining high-quality training; a mentor or supervisor must be allocated to assess the trainee’s performance at the end of the traineeship; the traineeship must have a specific duration and limits must be set on the length of traineeships with the same employer, and the contract should have clear provisions on coverage in social security systems and remuneration;

24.  Encourages Member States to progressively update and revise their YEI operational programmes with the involvement of social partners and youth organisations in order to fine-tune their action based on the actual needs of young people and the labour market;

25.  Stresses that establishing whether the YEI budget is well spent, and whether the ultimate YEI goal of helping young unemployed people into sustainable employment is attained, can only be achieved if operations are closely and transparently monitored on the basis of reliable and comparable data, and if Member States that have made no progress are addressed in a more ambitious manner; calls on the Member States to improve monitoring, reporting and the quality of data as a matter of urgency and to guarantee that reliable and comparable data and figures on current YEI implementation are gathered and made available in a timely manner and more frequently than is required under their annual reporting obligation, as defined in Article 19(2) of the ESF Regulation; calls on the Commission to revise its guidelines on data collection in line with the recommendation of the ECA in order to minimise the risk of overstatement of results;

26.  Notes the proposals for and different types of programmes developed by Member States under the YEI; considers that in some Member States, national regulation has been vague in its objectives and approaches and unclear in its wording, and has offered a limited range of options for promoting employment; takes the view that the considerable margin of discretion and the lack of clear oversight mechanisms have occasionally led to the substitution of jobs for offers under the YEI;

27.  Is concerned about reports of the inappropriate use of YEI-funded measures, including delayed payments to young people or the abuse of internships, for example their excessive use; expresses its willingness to combat such practices; takes the view that any repeated take-up of the YG should not go against the spirit of market activation and the aim of more permanent integration into the labour market;

28.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to identify, exchange and disseminate best practices aimed at mutual policy learning and contributing to designing and implementing evidence-based policies; stresses that changes in the labour market and the digitalisation of the economy call for a new approach to youth employment policies; points out that the YEI needs to work on using effective tools to reduce youth unemployment and should not recycle ineffective employment policies;

29.  Reiterates that the Council Recommendation on establishing a Youth Guarantee considers partnership-based approaches a key issue in implementing YG schemes and reaching NEETs; calls on the Member States to pursue a partnership approach by actively identifying and involving the relevant stakeholders and to better promote the YG programme among businesses, in particular SMEs and smaller, family-run companies; stresses that evidence from Member States that had already adopted YG-like approaches prior to the programme’s introduction demonstrates that a successful stakeholder approach is important for successful implementation;

30.  Underlines the important role of youth organisations as intermediaries between young people and the public employment services (PES); encourages the Member States, in this context, to work closely with youth organisations at national, regional and local level when communicating, planning, implementing and evaluating the YEI;

31.  Stresses the importance of skilled and modernised PES in providing tailored services to NEETs; calls on the Member States, when implementing the YEI, to better coordinate their public employment services at EU level within the framework of the Public Employment Services (PES) Network; encourages the development of further synergies between public and private employment providers, businesses and education systems; encourages the widespread use of e-government to reduce red tape;

32.  Calls on the Commission to provide a country-specific estimate of the yearly cost for each Member State to implement the YG effectively, taking into consideration the ILO estimate;

33.  Stresses that it is essential to boost the number of apprenticeships available under the YG, since they account for only 4,1 % of offers accepted thus far;

Final remarks

34.  Highlights the need for a strategy to transform the YEI from an anti-crisis instrument into a more stable EU financing instrument for tackling youth unemployment in the post-2020 period, while ensuring the quick and uncomplicated deployment of funds, and which establishes a co-financing requirement in order to underline the primary responsibility of the Member States; notes that the extension of the YEI should take into account the observations of the ECA; stresses that the programme’s overall aim is the sustainable integration of young people into the labour market; highlights the need to set clear, measurable objectives; stresses that these elements should be discussed in the context of the next MFF to ensure continuity, cost-effectiveness and added value;

35.  Reiterates its support for the YEI; stresses that further efforts and continued political and financial commitments to tackle youth unemployment are absolutely necessary; recalls, in particular, the importance of ensuring funding of at least EUR 700 million for the YEI for the period 2018-2020, as agreed in the mid-term revision of the MFF; calls also for the allocation of sufficient payment appropriations to ensure the proper and timely implementation of the YEI;

36.  Emphasises the need to improve the quality of offers under the YEI and YG and calls for a future discussion about the eligible age bracket;

37.  Takes the view that for the youth employment quality framework to become operational, progress should be made towards adopting a recommendation with its legal basis in Articles 292 and 153 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union and a range of information measures should be taken, such as the creation of an easily accessible website that is kept updated with relevant information on the rules governing traineeships in each Member State;

38.  Recognises that the YEI is a financial instrument meant to complement Member States’ initiatives to tackle high levels of youth unemployment and that greater efforts should be made by the Member States to provide a better link between education systems and labour markets, in order to integrate young people into the labour markets in a sustainable manner; welcomes the measures and policies in place to help to address existing skills mismatches; recognises that skills utilisation continues to present a challenge across Europe and considers it necessary, therefore, to ensure that the skills that are in demand and those on offer are better matched;

39.  Considers the YEI and the YG essential in the effective delivery of the key principles of the European Pillar of Social Rights, in particular No 1 on education, training and life-long learning; No 4 on active support to employment; No 5 on secure and adaptable employment; No 6 on wages; No 8 on social dialogue and involvement of workers; No 10 on healthy, safe and well-adapted work environment and data protection; No 12 on social protection; No 13 on unemployment benefits; and No 14 on minimum income;

40.  Calls on the Commission and Member States to redouble their joint efforts with the ILO to provide customised information and build national capacity to deliver and assess YG schemes in the following aspects: ensuring the full, sustainable implementation of the initiative, improving its ability to reach unregistered NEETs and young people with low skill levels, capacity building and improving the quality of offers;

41.  Notes that pending the release by the Commission of the final figures provided by Member States, the number of young people having completed a YEI programme at the end of 2015 was estimated at 203 000, which represents 4 % of the participants; expresses concern at the high number of YEI participants who have failed to complete the programme in some Member States; believes that it is important to strengthen incentives so as to ensure that young people consider the YEI useful;

42.  Recalls that the YEI should provide financial support for measures that foster the integration of NEETs into the labour market, including paid internships, traineeships and apprenticeships, but should not become a substitute for actual gainful employment;

43.  Suggests the establishment of an EU hotline against the violation of the rights of young people, so that young people can report any negative experience of participation in YEI and YG measures to the Commission directly, enabling the collection of information and the investigation of reports of abusive practices in the deployment of EU-funded policies;

44.  Welcomes the reference contained in the letter of intent attached to President Juncker’s 2017 State of the Union speech to a proposal to establish a European Labour Authority to strengthen cooperation between labour market authorities at all levels and better manage cross-border situations, as well as further initiatives in support of fair mobility;

45.  Recognises the success of the YEI in reducing youth unemployment rates and, in particular, ensuring gender balance, with the result that the YEI has reached around 48 % of men and 52 % of women;

46.  Calls for the full implementation in the context of the YEI of both Directive 2000/78/EC on equal treatment in employment and occupation and Directive 2010/41/EU on the application of the principle of equal treatment between men and women engaged in an activity in a self-employed capacity;

47.  Considers it necessary for the Commission and the Member States to come forward with positive measures to ensure that young women and girls receive good-quality offers of employment and are not employed or trapped in precarious, underpaid and temporary jobs with limited or no rights as workers;

48.  Calls on the Member States to compile gender‑disaggregated statistical data so that the Commission can launch an impact assessment of the YEI and its influence on gender balance to enable a thorough evaluation and analysis of its implementation;

49.  Calls on the Member States to find ways to support young women’s re-entry into the labour market, education or training by ensuring gender equality in access to employment, career progression, the reconciliation of work and private life, and the provision of childcare and adult care, and by promoting equal pay for female and male workers for equal work or work of equal value;

50.  Urges the Member States to invest more effort in improving measures within education systems to help young people at risk to remain protected;

51.  Notes with concern that the most recent assessment reports(10) have highlighted that during its first implementation phase, the YEI tended to focus mostly on highly educated NEETs, rather than those who are low-skilled, inactive and not registered by the PES;

52.  Calls on Member States to address this substantial shortcoming in YEI implementation by developing, inter alia, specific follow-up measures with a view to implementing more evidence-based, effective and sustained youth policies;

53.  Calls on the Member States to make sure that their legislation enables all young people within the identified age group to register and participate effectively in the YEI(11);

54.  Draws attention to the lack of regulation of traineeship offers on the open market as regards transparency of hiring, duration and recognition and points out that only a few Member States have established minimum quality criteria, including for the purposes of monitoring the YG and YEI;

55.  Recognises that EU budget investments through the YEI have made an impact and have accelerated the expansion of the labour market for young people; considers that the YEI represents clear EU added value as many youth employment schemes could not have been implemented without an EU commitment;

56.  Notes that the original financial allocation for the YEI in the 2014-2020 MFF was EUR 6,4 billion, of which EUR 3,2 billion came from a dedicated budget line, matched by the same amount from the ESF;

57.  Underlines that in the context of the mid-term revision of the MFF, an additional allocation of EUR 1,2 billion for the YEI was politically endorsed for the period 2017-2020, to be matched by the same amount from the ESF; stresses, however, that the final allocation for this programme will be determined in the upcoming annual budgetary procedures;

58.  Welcomes the fact that at Parliament’s urging, the result of the conciliation process on the 2018 EU budget was to increase the specific allocation originally proposed for the YEI by EUR 116,7 million in fresh appropriations, bringing its total to EUR 350 million in 2018; notes the unilateral commitment by the Commission to proposing a further increase in YEI funding through an amending budget should the absorption capacity of the YEI allow for an increase;

59.  Considers that the overall YEI budget is not sufficient to cover actual demand and the resources required to ensure that the programme reaches its targets; recalls that on average only 42 % of NEETs have been reached, with the figure dropping below 20 % in a number of Member States; calls, therefore, for a significant increase in the YEI allocation under the next MFF and for the Member States to make provisions for youth employment schemes in their national budgets;

60.  Calls on the Commission to ensure consistency among youth employment investments by encouraging synergies between available sources and creating homogeneous rules presented in a holistic guide, with the aim of ensuring greater impact, synergies, effectiveness and simplification on the ground; recalls the priority of reducing the administrative burden for managing authorities; highlights the importance of country-specific reports on the financing of YG schemes that also monitor the synergies between national budgets and the EU budget, as well as the need for better coordination and closer cooperation among key stakeholders in the process;

61.  Calls on the Commission to improve the planning of post-2020 youth employment investments by fully applying the approach used in programming the ESI Funds, where funding is subject to comprehensive preliminary planning and ex-ante evaluation followed by the conclusion of partnership agreements; considers that such an approach increases the impact of the EU budget; notes the successful implementation of the YEI in Member States, with dedicated operational programmes and significant contributions from national and regional budgets;

62.  Calls, moreover, on the Commission to redesign the current evaluation mechanism by focusing on unified outcome criteria and performance audits in the annual and final reporting process in order to better monitor the impact of the EU budget; calls for the EU-wide application of indicators, such as the share of YEI participants who enter the primary labour market as a result of EU-funded interventions;

63.  Stresses, however, that reformed planning and reporting should neither delay the implementation of the budget nor generate an excessive administrative burden for the managing authorities and the final beneficiaries in particular;

64.  Recognises that the existing administrative burden undermines the investment capacity of the EU budget, especially in the case of instruments with shorter implementation periods such as the YEI; calls, therefore, for streamlined tendering procedures with a focus on faster preparation of tenders and shorter decision appeal procedures; notes the positive effect of the use of simplified cost options (SCOs) in YEI expenditure; calls for the EU-wide introduction of SCOs in YEI projects in order to cut red tape significantly and accelerate budgetary implementation;

65.  Underlines that as of now the YEI is the best performing of all the ESI Funds in terms of financial implementation;

66.  Welcomes the fact that YEI measures have provided support to more than 1,6 million young people and led to Member States consolidating operations amounting to more than EUR 4 billion;

67.  Notes that a lack of information on the potential cost of implementing a scheme in a Member State can result in inadequate funding for its implementation and the achievement of its objectives; calls on the Member States to conduct an ex-ante analysis and draw up an overview of the cost of implementing the YG;

68.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to take the necessary measures to set up less administratively burdensome and more up-to-date monitoring systems for the remaining YEI funding;

69.  Calls for a focus on YEI results through the definition of concrete indicators relating to new services and labour market support measures established through the programme in the Member States and the number of permanent contracts offered;

70.  Believes that in order to assess the scheme’s effectiveness, all aspects need to be evaluated, including the value for money of the scheme; takes note of previous ILO and Eurofound estimates and asks the Commission to confirm or update these projections;

71.  Calls on the Commission and Member States to set realistic and achievable goals, assess disparities, analyse the market before implementing schemes, and improve supervision and notification systems;

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

(1) OJ L 347, 20.12.2013, p. 470.
(2) OJ L 126, 21.5.2015, p. 1.
(3) OJ C 120, 26.4.2013, p. 1.
(4) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0390.
(5) OJ C 264 E, 13.9.2013, p. 69.
(6) OJ L 113, 29.4.2017, p. 56.
(7) Commission report of December 2013 entitled ‘Employment and Social Developments in Europe 2013’.
(8) Eurofound report of August 2014 entitled ‘Occupational profiles in working conditions: Identification of groups with multiple disadvantages’.
(9) Other measures include the Youth on the Move initiative launched in September 2010, the Youth Opportunities Initiative launched in December 2011 and the Youth Action Teams initiative launched in January 2012.
(10) ECA Special Report No 5/2017 on the implementation of the Youth Guarantee and the Youth Employment Initiative; Final Report to the Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion of the European Commission of June 2016 on first results of the Youth Employment Initiative; Commission communication of 4 October 2016 on the Youth Guarantee and Youth Employment Initiative three years on (COM(2016)0646); EPRS In-Depth Analysis of June 2016 entitled ‘Youth Employment Initiative: European Implementation Assessment’.
(11) The legislative framework of some countries defines some young people, in particular those with severe disabilities, as ‘unable to work’. They are not able to register with PES and are therefore unable to participate in the YEI.


Implementation of the Professional Qualifications Directive and the need for reform in professional services
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European Parliament resolution of 18 January 2018 on the implementation of Directive 2005/36/EC as regards regulation and the need for reform in professional services (2017/2073(INI))
P8_TA(2018)0019A8-0401/2017

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to Articles 45, 49 and 56 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU),

–  having regard to the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, in particular Articles 15 and 16 thereof,

–  having regard to Directive 2005/36/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 7 September 2005 on the recognition of professional qualifications(1),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 10 January 2017 on reform recommendations for regulation in professional services (COM(2016)0820),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 2 October 2013 on evaluating national regulations on access to professions (COM(2013)0676),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 28 October 2015 entitled ‘Upgrading the Single Market: more opportunities for people and business’ (COM(2015)0550),

–  having regard to its resolution of 26 May 2016 on the Single Market Strategy(2),

–  having regard to its resolution of 15 June 2017 on a European Agenda for the collaborative economy(3),

–  having regard to its resolution of 15 February 2017 on the Annual Report on the Single Market Governance within the European Semester 2017(4),

–  having regard to the opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee of 31 May 2017(5),

–  having regard to the final report of the Working Group on Bolstering the Business of Liberal Professions,

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection (A8-0401/2017),

A.  whereas the free movement of workers, freedom of establishment and the freedom to provide services within the EU constitute the backbone of the single market and bring many benefits to citizens and businesses;

B.  whereas although services account for 71 % of GDP and 68 % of total employment, the full potential of the single market in services still remains unfulfilled;

C.  whereas in the absence of harmonisation, Member States are free to decide on the regulation of professions, provided the national measures are transparent, non-discriminatory, justified and proportionate;

D.  whereas smart regulation, duly justified by the protection of legitimate public interest objectives, can have positive effects on the internal market, ensuring a high level of consumer protection and better quality of the services provided; whereas, therefore, deregulation should not be an end in itself;

E.  whereas in many cases regulation of professions is justified, but unjustified barriers to professional services are detrimental to citizens’ fundamental rights and to the Member States’ economies; whereas, consequently, professional regulation needs to be adjusted regularly in order to take into consideration technological, societal or market developments;

F.  whereas Directive 2005/36/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 7 September 2005 on the recognition of professional qualifications provides for automatic recognition for a number of professions on the basis of harmonised minimum training requirements, a general system for the recognition of professional qualifications, an automatic recognition system for professional experience, and a new system of cross-border provision of services in the context of regulated professions;

G.  whereas Directive 2005/36/EC was amended in 2013, with the objective of achieving a proportionate regulatory framework justified by general interest objectives, introducing in Article 59 a transparency and mutual evaluation exercise for all regulated professions in the Member States, whether they are regulated on the basis of national rules or on the basis of rules harmonised at EU level;

H.  whereas not all the provisions Directive 2005/36/EC, and in particular Article 59, have been fully implemented as yet by the Member States, even after the passing of the deadline;

I.  whereas Member States were required to submit national action plans (NAPs) to the Commission by 18 January 2016 with information on decisions on maintaining or amending professional regulations; whereas there are still 6 Member States that have not submitted their NAPs;

J.  whereas according to Article 59 of Directive 2005/36/EC the Commission was expected to present by 18 January 2017 its conclusions on the mutual evaluation exercise, together with proposals for further initiatives where necessary;

K.  whereas on 10 January 2017 the Commission presented a communication on reform needs in professional services, analysing professional regulation in seven sectors of activity and addressing recommendations to Member States in this regard;

L.  whereas the mutual evaluation exercise revealed that the level of regulation of professions varies significantly between Member States; whereas further clarification is needed, especially in those cases where Member States have announced the introduction of new forms of professional regulation after the completion of the exercise;

Regulation of professions in the European Union and the state of play of the implementation of Article 59 of Directive 2005/36/EC

1.  Stresses that regulated professions play a fundamental role in the EU economy, making a major contribution to the employment rate, as well as to labour mobility and added value in the Union; considers, furthermore, that high-quality professional services and an effective regulatory environment are of paramount importance for preserving the EU economic, social and cultural model and for strengthening the competitiveness of the EU in terms of growth, innovation and job creation;

2.   Recalls that there are over 5 500 regulated professions across the EU, with significant variations between Member States, representing 22 % of the labour force in all sectors of activities, such as health and social services, business services, construction, network services, transport, tourism, real estate, public services and education;

3.  Welcomes the initiative of the Commission providing guidance for Member States in the context of the mutual evaluation exercise, including the organisation of in-depth discussions carried out with national authorities, also pointing out the need for national authorities to involve all parties concerned in order to gather the relevant information on the impact of regulations;

4.  Believes that the Commission communication of 10 January 2017 might help Member States to better regulate professional services and to exchange best practices in order to understand the regulatory choices of other Member States, taking into consideration the fact that some Member States provide for more intensive state regulation of professions than others; stresses, however, the need for an assessment of the quality of regulations, since elements beyond mere economic analysis are needed for a holistic assessment of the performance of the regulatory environment in each Member State;

5.  Regrets that some Member States have failed to notify information about the professions they regulate and the requirements for accessing those professions; calls on Member States to significantly improve the notification process in the context of the Professional Qualifications Directive;

6.  Underlines that improving transparency and comparability of the national requirements governing access to or pursuit of regulated professions could enable greater professional mobility, and that, consequently and in line with Directive 2005/36/EC, all national requirements should be notified and made publicly available in the Regulated Professions Database, in a clear and intelligible manner;

7.  Acknowledges the improvements to the database of regulated professions made by the Commission, including the creation of an interactive map allowing citizens to check professional access requirements across the EU and to visualise more easily which professions are regulated in a given Member State; calls on the Commission to further improve the database for regulated professions, in order to facilitate timely and accurate notification of the information by the competent authorities and thus enhance transparency for EU citizens;

8.  Takes note of the divergences across Member States as to the number of regulated professions and scope of activities covered by similar professions, which explains the different forms of regulation of professions chosen by each Member State; calls on the Commission to improve the comparability of different professions and to define a common set of activities for each profession notified in the database, with a view to facilitating voluntary harmonisation across the EU;

9.  Regrets that a number of Member States have not submitted a National Action Plan (NAP) as required by Directive 2005/36/EC, and calls on those Member States to proceed without undue delay; notes that the levels of depth, ambition and detail of the NAPs submitted differ;

10.  Calls on the Member States to fully implement Article 59 of Directive 2005/36/EC and to step up their efforts to guarantee more transparency of their professional regulations, this being crucial for the mobility of professionals across the EU since only with complete information from all Member States can a full picture of the professions regulated at national or EU level be made available;

11.  Regrets that some Member States did not consult the relevant stakeholders in an appropriate manner when preparing the NAPs; believes that a transparent flow of information between public institutions and stakeholders is necessary to effectively address the issues and challenges affecting professions; calls for a broader involvement of all stakeholders in the future, not only with a view to preparing NAPs but also before reforming the regulation of professions, in order to allow all parties concerned to express their views;

12.  Stresses that the effective regulation of professions should be beneficial for both consumers and professionals; recalls that Member States are free to introduce new regulations or to amend existing rules restricting access to or pursuit of regulated professions, reflecting their vision for society and their socio-economic context, as long as they are justified by public interest objectives; believes that regulation of professional services that is proportionate and adapted to market reality may result in improved market dynamics, lower prices for consumers and improved and more efficient sectoral performance;

13.  Considers, at the same time, that discriminatory, unjustified and disproportionate requirements can be particularly unfair, especially for young professionals, and can hamper competition and negatively affect service recipients, including consumers;

14.  Recognises the role of professional regulation in terms of achieving a high level of protection of public interest objectives, whether those explicitly mentioned in the Treaty, such as public policy, public security and public health, or those constituting overriding reasons in the public interest, including those recognised by the case-law of the Court of Justice, such as preserving the financial equilibrium of the social security system, the protection of consumers, recipients of services and workers, the safeguarding of the proper administration of justice, fairness of trade transactions, combating fraud, prevention of tax evasion and avoidance, effectiveness of fiscal supervision, road transport safety, guaranteeing the quality of craft work, promotion of research and development, protection of the environment and the urban environment, the health of animals, intellectual property, the safeguarding and conservation of the national historic and artistic heritage, social policy objectives and cultural policy objectives; acknowledges the margin of appreciation of Member States in determining the ways to achieve the above, in line with the principles of non-discrimination and proportionality;

15.  Notes that, in view of the risks for consumers, professionals or third parties, Member States may reserve certain activities for qualified professionals only, in particular where there are no less restrictive means to achieve the same result; highlights that in such cases profession-specific regulations must ensure effective supervision of the lawful practice of the regulated profession and of, where relevant, its ethical rules;

16.  Acknowledges in this regard the relationship between the proposal for the proportionality test, laying down rules on a common framework for conducting proportionality assessments before introducing new or amending existing measures governing regulated professions, and the reform recommendations which are based on assessment of the national regulations in seven sectors of activities; calls on the Member States to assess and, where necessary, to adapt their regulation of professions in line with the specific reform recommendations;

17.   Stresses that reform recommendations cannot replace enforcement action, and calls on the Commission as guardian of the Treaties to take action and initiate infringement procedures where it identifies discriminatory, unjustified or disproportionate regulation;

Usefulness of the restrictiveness indicator and the need to promote high quality of services in Europe

18.  Takes note of the fact that the Commission has issued a new restrictiveness indicator, and welcomes the improvement compared to the OECD’s existing PMR restrictiveness indicator through the detailed analysis of the sectors concerned;

19.  Underlines that this indicator, showing the overall regulatory intensity in Member States solely on the basis of quantitative data related to existing barriers to free movement, should be seen as a purely indicative tool, and not as one permitting the drawing of conclusions as to whether what may be stricter regulation in some Member States is disproportionate;

20.  Recalls that the overall analysis of the impact of the regulations in Member States should be subject not only to a quantitative but also to a qualitative assessment encompassing the general interest objectives and the quality of the service provided, including the possible indirect benefits for citizens and the labour market; notes that the restrictiveness indicator is accompanied by further analysis which provides additional information on the reality on the ground, and encourages Member States to consider this indicator, together with qualitative data so as to compare their performance in the selected sectors of activity;

Future for regulated professions

21.  Highlights the need not only for an effective regulatory framework in the EU and the Member States, but also for effective and coordinated policies aimed at supporting professionals in the EU and strengthening competitiveness, innovation capacity and the quality of professional services in the EU;

22.  Stresses that professionals can exercise regulated professions either as natural persons or as legal persons in the form of a professional company, and that consideration from both perspectives is important when implementing new policies; in this light, is convinced that economic tools should be combined with policies aimed at strengthening entrepreneurship and human capital in the professional services;

23.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States, together with professional organisations in their respective areas of competence, to follow up adequately the recommendations of the Working Group on Bolstering the Business of Liberal Professions;

24.  Highlights the importance of education, skills development and entrepreneurial training in order to ensure that professionals in the EU remain competitive and able to face the transformational changes that are affecting the liberal professions as a consequence of innovation, digitalisation and globalisation; stresses the close connection between the knowledge of a professional and the quality of service provided; notes the important role that should be played by higher education and research institutions in this regard, including through digital literacy projects;

25.  Points out that better comparability of the level of professional qualifications is needed in order to increase the homogeneity of the evidence of formal qualifications across the EU and thus create a more level playing field for young graduates entering the professions, thereby facilitating their mobility across the EU;

26.  Calls on the Member States to undertake proper market analysis with a view to ensuring faster adaptation of providers of services to market needs, as well as to develop policies for making EU professional services globally competitive in future decades;

Innovation and digitalisation in professional services

27.  Notes that scientific progress, technological innovation and digitalisation have a considerable impact on the professional services, bringing new opportunities for professionals but also challenges for the labour market and the quality of services;

28.  Welcomes the acknowledgement by the Commission of the need to reflect on the impact of new technologies on professional services, especially in the legal and accounting sectors, where procedures could be improved; notes in particular that close attention needs to be paid to the consequent risks for service recipients, including consumers, of such a transformational change, who must not be excluded from new technologies;

29.  Stresses that new technologies will be unlikely to replace human beings in making ethical and moral decisions; points out, in this regard, that rules on the organisation of professions, including rules on supervision by public bodies or professional associations could play an important role and contribute to the more equitable sharing of the benefits of digitalisation; notes that in certain areas market-driven mechanisms such as consumer feedback can also contribute to improving the quality of a particular service;

30.  Stresses that regulations on professional services must be fit for purpose and should be reviewed regularly in order to take account of technical innovation and digitalisation;

31.  Calls on the Commission to continue to keep Parliament regularly informed on the state of play regarding compliance with Directive 2005/36/EC by the Member States;

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

(1) OJ L 255, 30.9.2005, p. 22.
(2) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0237.
(3) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0271.
(4) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0040.
(5) Not yet published in the Official Journal.

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