Index 
Texts adopted
Tuesday, 13 March 2018 - StrasbourgFinal edition
Implementation of the Protocol on the financial consequences of the expiry of the ECSC Treaty and on the Research Fund for Coal and Steel ***
 EU-New Zealand agreement on cooperation and mutual administrative assistance in customs matters ***
 A European strategy on Cooperative Intelligent Transport Systems
 Cross-border parcel delivery services ***I
 Initial qualification and periodic training of drivers of certain road vehicles and driving licences ***I
 Gender equality in EU trade agreements
 Lagging regions in the EU
 The role of EU regions and cities in implementing the COP 21 Paris Agreement on climate change

Implementation of the Protocol on the financial consequences of the expiry of the ECSC Treaty and on the Research Fund for Coal and Steel ***
PDF 238kWORD 41k
European Parliament legislative resolution of 13 March 2018 on the draft Council decision amending Council Decision 2003/76/EC establishing the measures necessary for the implementation of the Protocol, annexed to the Treaty establishing the European Community, on the financial consequences of the expiry of the ECSC Treaty and on the Research Fund for Coal and Steel (14532/2017– C8-0444/2017 – 2017/0213(APP))
P8_TA(2018)0061A8-0034/2018

(Special legislative procedure – consent)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the draft Council decision (14532/2017),

–  having regard to the request for consent submitted by the Council in accordance with the first paragraph of Article 2 of Protocol No 37 on the financial consequences of the expiry of the ECSC Treaty and on the Research Fund for Coal and Steel, annexed to the Treaty on European Union and to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (C8-0444/2017),

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

–  having regard to the recommendation of the Committee on Budgets (A8-0034/2018),

1.  Gives its consent to the draft Council decision;

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


EU-New Zealand agreement on cooperation and mutual administrative assistance in customs matters ***
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European Parliament legislative resolution of 13 March 2018 on the draft Council decision on the conclusion, on behalf of the European Union, of the Agreement between the European Union and New Zealand on cooperation and mutual administrative assistance in customs matters (07712/2016 – C8-0237/2017 – 2016/0006(NLE))
P8_TA(2018)0062A8-0029/2018

(Consent)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the draft Council decision (07712/2016),

–  having regard to the draft Agreement between the European Union and New Zealand on cooperation and mutual administrative assistance in customs matters (07682/2016),

–  having regard to the request for consent submitted by the Council in accordance with Article 207 and Article 218(6), second subparagraph, point (a), of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (C8‑0237/2017),

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

–  having regard to the recommendation of the Committee on International Trade (A8-0029/2018),

1.  Gives its consent to conclusion of the agreement;

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


A European strategy on Cooperative Intelligent Transport Systems
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European Parliament resolution of 13 March 2018 on a European strategy on Cooperative Intelligent Transport Systems (2017/2067(INI))
P8_TA(2018)0063A8-0036/2018

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 30 November 2016 entitled ‘A European strategy on Cooperative Intelligent Transport Systems, a milestone towards cooperative, connected and automated mobility’ (COM(2016)0766),

–  having regard to Directive 2010/40/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 7 July 2010 on the framework for the deployment of Intelligent Transport Systems in the field of road transport and for interfaces with other modes of transport(1), and the extension of the timeframe of the mandate to adopt delegated acts,

–  having regard to the opinion of the European Committee of the Regions of 11 October 2017 on Cooperative Intelligent Transport Systems (CDR 2552/2017),

–  having regard to the opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee of 31 May 2017 on the ‘Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions – A European strategy on Cooperative Intelligent Transport Systems, a milestone towards cooperative, connected and automated mobility’(2),

–  having regard to the reports of the Cooperative Intelligent Transport Systems (C-ITS) Deployment Platform, in particular on C-ITS certificate and security policy,

–  having regard to its resolution of 14 November 2017 entitled ‘Saving lives: Boosting car safety in the EU’(3),

–  having regard to the Declaration of Amsterdam of 14 April 2016 on cooperation in the field of connected and automated driving,

–  having regard to its resolution of 1 June 2017 entitled ‘Internet connectivity for growth, competitiveness and cohesion: European gigabit society and 5G’(4),

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Transport and Tourism and the opinions of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety, the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection and the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (A8-0036/2018),

A.  whereas the European strategy on Cooperative Intelligent Transport Systems (the Strategy) is closely linked to the Commission’s political priorities, notably its Agenda for Jobs, Growth and Investment, the creation of a single European transport area, the digital single market, climate protection and the Energy Union strategy;

B.  whereas Member States’ authorities and the industrial sector must respond to the pressing need to make transport safer, cleaner, more efficient, sustainable, multimodal and accessible for all road users, including the most vulnerable and those with reduced mobility;

C.  whereas the positive trend in road safety that the EU has witnessed over the last decade has slowed down, whereas 92 % of road accidents are due to human error and whereas the use of C-ITS technologies is important for the efficient functioning of certain driver assistance systems; whereas road transport is still responsible for the bulk of space use in cities, accidents and transport emissions in terms of noise, greenhouse gases and air pollutants;

D.  whereas the system of C-ITS will allow road users and traffic managers to share and use information and to coordinate their actions more effectively;

E.  whereas the cyber-security of C-ITS is a key element of their implementation, whereas fragmented security solutions would jeopardise the interoperability and safety of the end user, and whereas there is therefore a clear need for action at EU level;

F.  whereas algorithmic accountability and transparency means implementing technical and operational measures that ensure the transparency and non-discriminatory nature of automated decision-making and of the process of calculating the probability of individual behaviour; whereas transparency should give individuals meaningful information about the logic involved, and the significance of the process and its consequences; whereas this should include information about the data used for training the analytics and enable individuals to understand and monitor the decisions affecting them;

G.  whereas the EU should encourage and further develop digital technologies not only to reduce human error and other inefficiencies, but also to cut costs and optimise the use of infrastructure by relieving traffic congestion, thereby reducing CO2 emissions;

H.  whereas this cooperative element, thanks to digital and mobile connectivity, will significantly improve road safety, traffic efficiency, sustainability and multimodality; whereas at the same time it will generate huge economic potential and reduce road traffic accidents and energy consumption; whereas C-ITS are fundamental to the development of autonomous vehicles and driving systems;

I.  whereas connected and automated driving is an important digital development in the sector and whereas coordination with all new technologies used in the sector, such as the European global satellite-based navigation systems GALILEO and EGNOS, has now reached a high level of technological capacity;

J.  whereas the EU is bound to respect the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, notably Articles 7 and 8 on the right to privacy and the protection of personal data;

K.  whereas several countries around the world (for example, the US, Australia, Japan, Korea and China) are moving rapidly towards deploying new digital technologies and whereas C-ITS vehicles and services are already available on the market;

General framework

1.  Welcomes the Commission communication on a European strategy on Cooperative Intelligent Transport Systems and the intensive work it has done with experts from both the public and private sectors, which laid the groundwork for the communication; supports the results and calls, therefore, for the introduction of interoperable C-ITS services throughout Europe without delay;

2.  Highlights the need for a clear legal framework to support the deployment of C-ITS and welcomes a future delegated act under the ITS Directive (Directive 2010/40/EU) to ensure the continuity of services, deliver interoperability and support backward compatibility;

3.  Notes the potential of C-ITS to improve fuel efficiency, lowering the cost of individual transport and reducing the negative impact of traffic on the environment;

4.  Highlights the potential of digital technologies and related business models in road transport and recognises the Strategy as an important milestone towards the development of C-ITS and, ultimately, fully connected and automated mobility; notes that cooperative, connected and automated vehicles can boost the competitiveness of European industry, make transport seamless and safer, reduce congestion, energy consumption and emissions, and improve interconnectivity between different modes of transport; points out, with that in mind, that infrastructure requirements must be established to ensure that the systems concerned can function safely and effectively;

5.  Notes that EU industries should capitalise on their advantageous position on the global scene in the development and application of C-ITS technologies; underlines the urgent need to establish an ambitious EU strategy that coordinates national and regional efforts, prevents fragmentation, speeds up the deployment of C-ITS technologies that have proven to have safety benefits, and maximises cooperation between different sectors such as transport, energy and telecommunications; urges the Commission to present a specific timetable with clear targets for what the EU needs to achieve between 2019 and 2029, to prioritise the deployment by 2019 of those C-ITS services that have the highest safety potential as set out in the list of services prepared by the C-ITS Platform in its Phase II Report, and to ensure that these services are available in all new vehicles across Europe;

6.  Emphasises the need to introduce a coherent framework of social, environmental and safety rules in order to enforce the rights of workers and consumers and guarantee fair competition in the sector;

7.  Welcomes the results of the C-ITS Platform Phase II and underlines the importance of the results(5);

8.  Underlines that while the communication constitutes an important milestone towards an EU strategy on cooperative, connected and automated vehicles, there should be no confusion between C-ITS and these different concepts;

9.  Urges the need to ensure that the development and deployment of connected and automated vehicles and C-ITS will fully comply with and support the aims of decarbonising the transport system and vision zero in road safety;

10.  Recalls that C-ITS are systems allowing different ITS stations (vehicles, roadside equipment, traffic control centres and nomadic devices) to communicate and share information using a standardised communication architecture and that interoperability of the individual systems is therefore essential;

11.  Recalls that connected vehicles are vehicles using C-ITS technologies that allow all road vehicles to communicate with other vehicles, with traffic signals, with durable roadside and horizontal infrastructure – which needs to be enhanced and adapted, but which can also provide innovative on-the-go charging systems and communicate safely with vehicles – and with other road users; recalls that 92 % of road accidents are due to human error and that the use of C-ITS technologies is important for the efficient functioning of certain driver assistance systems;

12.  Recalls that automated vehicles are vehicles capable of operating and manoeuvring independently in real traffic situations and where one or more of the primary driving controls (steering, acceleration, braking) are automated for a sustained period of time;

13.  Highlights the necessity of incorporating safeguard systems during the transition phase of co-existence between connected and automated vehicles and traditional non-connected vehicles, so as not to jeopardise road safety; points out that certain driver assistance systems should be further developed and installed on a compulsory basis;

14.  Calls on the Commission to consider how to address the coexistence on the roads of cooperative, connected and automated vehicles and non-connected vehicles and drivers, taking into account that the age of the vehicle fleet and the residual proportion of non-connected people mean that provision needs to be made for a persistently large number of vehicles not being part of the system;

15.  Regrets the absence of clear time scheduling for recommended Day 1.5 services and beyond, as well as the absence of a full impact assessment and precise information on the deployment initiatives in developing C-ITS services and potential service extensions;

16.  Calls on the Commission to give priority to the C-ITS services providing the highest safety potential and to drawing up the definitions and requirements needed, and to update without further delay the European Statement of Principles on human-machine interface (HMI) for in-vehicle information and communication systems, as interaction between the human driver and the machine is important(6);

17.  Reiterates the key role of connected and automated vehicles, C-ITS and new technologies in meeting climate targets, and the need to ensure that their development and deployment will fully comply with and support the aim of decarbonising the transport system; welcomes the use of C-ITS as a means to improve traffic efficiency, lower fuel consumption and the impact of road transport on the environment (for example, in terms of CO2 emissions) and optimise the use of urban infrastructure;

18.  Stresses the potential of innovative technologies such as automated driving and ‘platooning’ (grouping diverse vehicles) in road freight transport, which enable better use of slipstream, thereby reducing fuel consumption and emissions; calls for further support for research and development in that area, notably in relation to the requisite digital infrastructure;

19.  Underlines the need to provide road users with more choices, more user-friendly, affordable and customised products, and more information; encourages the Commission, in this regard, to facilitate the exchange of best practices aimed inter alia at achieving economic efficiency; urges all Member States to join the C-Roads Platform, as it is intended to play a significant coordination role in implementing the Strategy, provided that it observes technology neutrality which is needed to encourage innovations; underlines the need to ensure that advanced digital tools are deployed widely and in a coordinated manner in Member States, and that they also cover public transport; invites car manufacturers to initiate C-ITS deployment to implement the Strategy;

20.  Urges the Commission to develop statistics that complement existing ones, in order to better evaluate the digitalisation progress in different areas of the road transport sector; highlights the importance of further investment in research into sensor systems and stresses that in the development of C-ITS, special attention should be paid to urban driving, which is very different from out-of-town driving; notes that urban driving in particular involves greater interaction with motorcyclists, cyclists, pedestrians and other vulnerable road users, including persons with disabilities;

21.  Urges the Member States to make every effort to ensure that vocational training and university courses meet the knowledge needs of the industry that is to develop the ITS strategy; calls for prospective analyses of the new careers and jobs linked to this new approach to mobility, and for the exchange of best practices in the development of models for cooperation between businesses and the education system, geared towards creating integrated areas for training, innovation and manufacturing;

22.  Believes that C-ITS services should be integrated into the Space Strategy for Europe since the deployment of C-ITS is to be based on geolocation technologies such as satellite positioning;

23.  Points out that the Member States should take into account the deployment of C-ITS services within a broader perspective of mobility as a service (MaaS) and integration with other modes of transport, in particular in order to prevent any rebound effects such as an increase in the modal share of road transport;

Privacy and data protection

24.  Draws attention to the importance of applying the EU legislation on privacy and data protection with regard to C-ITS and connected ecosystem data, for which reason these data should, as a matter of priority, be used for C-ITS purposes only and not be retained or used for other ends; stresses that smart vehicles should comply fully with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and related rules, and that C-ITS service providers must offer easily accessible information and clear terms and conditions to drivers, enabling them to give their freely informed consent, in accordance with the provisions and restrictions laid down in the GDPR;

25.  Emphasises the need for much greater transparency and algorithmic accountability with regard to data processing and analytics performed by businesses; recalls that the GDPR already foresees a right to be informed about the logic involved in data processing; underlines, furthermore, the need to prevent ‘driving walls’, which would mean that users could not drive their own smart car if they refused to give consent; calls for an ‘offline mode’ option to be made available in smart cars, which would enable the user to turn off transfers of personal data to other devices without hampering their ability to drive the car;

26.  Draws attention to the fact that data protection and confidentiality must be taken into account throughout the processing of data; stresses that the implementation of ‘privacy and data protection by design and default’ should be the starting point when designing ITS applications and systems; recalls that anonymisation techniques may increase the trust of users in the services they are using;

Cybersecurity

27.  Points to the importance of the application of high standards of cybersecurity in preventing hacking and cyber-attacks in all Member States, particularly in the light of the critical nature of security of C-ITS communications; notes that cybersecurity is an essential challenge to be tackled as the transport system becomes more digitised and connected; stresses that automated and connected vehicles and the databases in which the data are processed and/or stored are at risk of cyber-attack, and therefore that all weaknesses and risks that are identifiable and conceivable in the light of the stage of development reached should be excluded through the development of a common security policy, including strict security standards, and certificate policy for C-ITS deployment;

28.  Underlines that equally high and harmonised standards of security should be applied in the EU and all Member States and in any possible cooperation arrangements with third countries; points out that those standards should not, however, impede the access of third-party repairers to on-board systems, in order to ensure that vehicle owners are not dependent on car manufacturers to carry out any necessary checks on and/or repairs to on-board software;

Communication technologies and frequencies

29.  Believes that a technology-neutral hybrid communication approach that ensures interoperability and backward compatibility and combines complementary communication technologies is the appropriate approach and that the most promising hybrid communication mix appears to be a combination of wireless short-range communication and cellular and satellite technologies, which will ensure the best possible support for deployment of the basic C-ITS services;

30.  Takes note of the mention of the link between connected cars and the European satellite navigation systems, EGNOS and GALILEO; suggests, therefore, that strategies centred around connected cars should be included in space technologies; considers interoperability to be essential for both safety and consumer choice and underlines that vehicles’ capacity to communicate with 5G and satellite navigation systems must be included in the hybrid communication mix in the future, as noted in the Commission’s 5G Action Plan;

31.  Encourages car manufacturers and telecom operators that support C-ITS services to cooperate, inter alia, for the smooth deployment of C-ITS communication technologies, road charging and smart digital tachograph services without interference between these services;

32.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to continue to provide funding for research and innovation (Horizon 2020), in particular to pave the way for the development, in the long term, of infrastructure that is suitable for the deployment of C-ITS;

33.  Stresses the importance of sensor systems in providing data on vehicle dynamics, congestion and air quality, for example; calls for more and properly coordinated investment in the Member States to ensure the full interoperability of the sensors used and in their possible usage for applications other than safety, for example remote emission sensing;

34.  Calls for the Commission to come forward with proposals to ensure that information on pollutant emissions available through sensors installed in vehicles is collected and made available to competent authorities;

Common European approach

35.  Encourages the Member States and local authorities, vehicle manufacturers, road operators and the ITS industry to implement C-ITS by 2019, and recommends that the Commission, local authorities and Member States designate proper funding under the Connecting Europe Facility, European Structural and Investment Funds and the European Fund for Strategic Investments for the upgrading and maintenance of the future road infrastructure by means of a cross-cutting thematic approach; calls on the Commission and the Member States to continue to provide funding for research and innovation (Horizon 2020) in full respect of the principle of transparency and with the provision of regular information on EU co-financing;

36.  Encourages the Member States and the Commission to support initiatives and actions to promote more research and fact-finding on the development and impact of C-ITS in EU transport policy; is of the opinion that if no significant progress is made by 2022, legislative action may be required to introduce ‘minimum rules’ and enforce integration in this respect;

37.  Stresses the importance of the quality of physical road infrastructure which should gradually be complemented by digital infrastructure; calls for the upgrading and maintenance of the future road infrastructure;

38.  Stresses that a truly multimodal transport system should be created, integrating all modes of transport into a single mobility service using real-time information, taking into account integrated ticketing and shared mobility services as well as walking and cycling, allowing people and freight to travel smoothly from door to door, and enhancing overall transport efficiency, sustainability and durability; calls on the Commission, in this regard, to ensure and promote cooperation and investments at EU level in the field of transport industry digitalisation through existing and new funds, in order to integrate smart transport systems into the various modes of transport (C-ITS, ERTMS, SESAR, RIS(7)); underlines the importance of an integrated approach to information, booking and ticketing tools in establishing attractive door-to-door mobility chains;

39.  Calls for this planning process to draw on users’ vision of passenger and goods transport as a basic source of information, in order to broaden the scope of C-ITS application and create business models linked to this new concept of sustainable integrated mobility;

40.  Encourages the EU and the Member States to properly enforce the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and the forthcoming directive on accessibility requirements for products and services, in order to achieve barrier-free accessibility to C-ITS for all citizens;

41.  Recommends that the Commission rapidly establish an adequate legal framework to achieve EU-wide cross-border interoperability and a framework laying down rules on liability for the use of the various forms of connected transport; calls on the Commission to publish a legislative proposal on access to in-vehicle data and resources by the end of the year; recommends that this proposal should enable the entire automotive value chain and end users to benefit from digitalisation and guarantee a level playing field and maximum security with regard to storage of in-vehicle data and access thereto for all third-parties, which should be fair, timely and unrestricted in order to protect consumer rights, promote innovation and ensure fair, non-discriminatory competition on this market in line with the principle of technological neutrality; stresses the need to contribute to the modernisation of all urban and rural infrastructure linked to public transport services; calls on the Commission to guarantee that it will, in all cases, ensure full compliance with the GDPR, reporting to Parliament on its monitoring on an annual basis;

42.  Calls on the Commission to adopt a global approach to technical harmonisation and standardisation of data, in order to ensure the compatibility of C-ITS, economies of scale for manufacturers and improved consumer comfort;

43.  Underlines the importance of opening a dialogue with the social partners and consumer representatives at an early stage in order to establish an atmosphere of transparency and confidence, with a view to finding a proper balance between positive and negative effects on social and employment conditions and on consumer rights; notes that a road map for C-ITS deployment must be established by the eSafety Forum in the same way as for the eCall system;

44.  Stresses that in order to fulfil international climate commitments and meet internal EU targets, a comprehensive move towards a low-carbon economy is required; highlights the need, therefore, for the renewal of the allocation criteria of different EU funds so as to foster decarbonisation and energy-efficiency measures, including in C-ITS; considers that EU funding should not under any circumstances be allocated to projects that are not compliant with CO2 reduction targets and policies;

45.  Calls on car manufacturers to provide consumers with sufficient and clear information about their rights and the benefits and limitations of new C-ITS technologies in terms of safety; encourages the use of information campaigns to familiarise current drivers with new C-ITS technologies, to create the necessary trust among end users and to achieve public acceptance; considers that the use of C-ITS can improve the safety and efficiency of the transport system while ensuring compliance with data protection and privacy rules;

o
o   o

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

(1) OJ L 207, 6.8.2010, p. 1.
(2) OJ C 288, 31.8.2017, p. 85.
(3) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0423.
(4) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0234.
(5) Final report of the C-ITS Platform Phase II: https://ec.europa.eu/transport/sites/transport/files/2017-09-c-its-platform-final-report.pdf.
(6) Commission Recommendation 2008/653/EC of 26 May 2008 on Safe and efficient in-vehicle information and communication systems: update of the European Statement of Principles on human-machine interface (OJ L 216, 12.8.2008, p. 1).
(7) European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS); Single European Sky ATM Research (SESAR); River Information Services (RIS).


Cross-border parcel delivery services ***I
PDF 240kWORD 47k
Resolution
Text
European Parliament legislative resolution of 13 March 2018 on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on cross-border parcel delivery services (COM(2016)0285 – C8-0195/2016 – 2016/0149(COD))
P8_TA(2018)0064A8-0315/2017

(Ordinary legislative procedure: first reading)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Commission proposal to Parliament and the Council (COM(2016)0285),

–  having regard to Article 294(2) and Article 114 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, pursuant to which the Commission submitted the proposal to Parliament (C8-0195/2016),

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

–  having regard to the opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee of 19 October 2016(1),

–  having regard to the provisional agreement approved by the committee responsible under Rule 69f(4) of its Rules of Procedure and the undertaking given by the Council representative by letter of 20 December 2017 to approve Parliament’s position, in accordance with Article 294(4) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Transport and Tourism and the opinion of the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection (A8-0315/2017),

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

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

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

Position of the European Parliament adopted at first reading on 13 March 2018 with a view to the adoption of Regulation (EU) 2018/… of the European Parliament and of the Council on cross-border parcel delivery services

(As an agreement was reached between Parliament and Council, Parliament's position corresponds to the final legislative act, Regulation (EU) 2018/644.)

(1) OJ C 34, 2.2.2017, p. 106.


Initial qualification and periodic training of drivers of certain road vehicles and driving licences ***I
PDF 240kWORD 46k
Resolution
Text
European Parliament legislative resolution of 13 March 2018 on the proposal for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Directive 2003/59/EC on the initial qualification and periodic training of drivers of certain road vehicles for the carriage of goods or passengers and Directive 2006/126/EC on driving licences (COM(2017)0047 – C8-0025/2017 – 2017/0015(COD))
P8_TA(2018)0065A8-0321/2017

(Ordinary legislative procedure: first reading)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Commission proposal to Parliament and the Council (COM(2017)0047),

–  having regard to Article 294(2) and Article 91 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, pursuant to which the Commission submitted the proposal to Parliament (C8‑0025/2017),

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

–  having regard to the opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee of 31 May 2017(1),

–  after consulting the Committee of the Regions,

–  having regard to the provisional agreement approved by the committee responsible under Rule 69f(4) of its Rules of Procedure and the undertaking given by the Council representative by letter of 20 December 2017 to approve Parliament’s position, in accordance with Article 294(4) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Transport and Tourism (A8-0321/2017),

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

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

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

Position of the European Parliament adopted at first reading on 13 March 2018 with a view to the adoption of Directive (EU) 2018/… of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Directive 2003/59/EC on the initial qualification and periodic training of drivers of certain road vehicles for the carriage of goods or passengers and Directive 2006/126/EC on driving licences

(As an agreement was reached between Parliament and Council, Parliament's position corresponds to the final legislative act, Directive (EU) 2018/645.)

(1) OJ C 288, 31.8.2017, p. 115.


Gender equality in EU trade agreements
PDF 249kWORD 69k
European Parliament resolution of 13 March 2018 on gender equality in EU trade agreements (2017/2015(INI))
P8_TA(2018)0066A8-0023/2018

The European Parliament,

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

–  having regard to Articles 8, 10, 153(1), 153(2), 157 and 207 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU),

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

–  having regard to the 2015 EU Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy,

–  having regard to the Council conclusions of 16 June 2016 on gender equality (00337/2016),

–  having regard to the Commission staff working document of 14 July 2015 on Implementing the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights – State of Play (SWD(2015)0144),

–  having regard to the European Pact for gender equality for the period 2011-2020 annexed to the Council conclusions of 7 March 2011 (07166/2011),

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

–  having regard to the Commission’s 2017 report on equality between women and men in the European Union,

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

–  having regard to the Commission’ communication of 13 September 2017 entitled ‘Report on the Implementation of the Trade Policy Strategy Trade for All – Delivering a Progressive Trade Policy to Harness Globalisation’ (COM(2017)0491),

–  having regard to the GSP Regulation (Regulation (EU) No 978/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 October 2012 applying a scheme of generalised tariff preferences and repealing Council Regulation (EC) No 732/2008(1)),

–  having regard to the Conflict Minerals Regulation (Regulation (EU) 2017/821 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 May 2017 laying down supply chain due diligence obligations for Union importers of tin, tantalum and tungsten, their ores, and gold originating from conflict-affected and high-risk areas(2)),

–  having regard to the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECHR), in particular Article 4(1) prohibiting slavery and servitude, and Article 14 prohibiting discrimination,

–  having regard to the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) of 18 December 1979,

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

–  having regard to the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (Istanbul Convention), and its Article 3 defining ‘gender’ as ‘the socially constructed roles, behaviours, activities and attributes that a given society considers appropriate for women and men’, and the Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Sanctioning and Elimination of Violence against Women (Convention of Belem do Pará) of 1994,

–  having regard to the 2007 joint strategy of the EU and its Member States entitled ‘Aid for trade: Enhancing EU support for trade-related needs in developing countries’ and to the Commission’s communication of 13 November 2017 entitled ‘Achieving Prosperity through Trade and Investment – Updating the 2007 Joint EU Strategy on Aid for Trade’ (COM(2017)0667);

–  having regard to the resolution adopted by the UN General Assembly on 25 September 2015, entitled ‘Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development’,

–  having regard to the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises,

–  having regard to the OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains of Minerals from Conflict-Affected and High-Risk Areas,

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

–  having regard to the key conventions of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) on gender equality, including the Equal Remuneration Convention (No 100), the Discrimination (Employment and Occupation) Convention (No 111), the Workers with Family Responsibilities Convention (No 156) and the Maternity Protection Convention (No 183),

–  having regard to Chapter 7 of the Action Plan of the EU-CELAC Summit of Heads of State 2015-2017, adopted in Brussels in June 2015,

–  having regard to its resolution of 14 February 2006 on the human rights and democracy clause in European Union agreements(3),

–  having regard to its resolution of 25 November 2010 on human rights and social and environmental standards in international trade agreements(4),

–  having regard to its resolution of 25 November 2010 on international trade policy in the context of climate change imperatives(5),

–  having regard to its resolution of 11 September 2012 on the role of women in the green economy(6),

–  having regard to its resolution of 9 June 2015 on the EU Strategy for equality between women and men post-2015(7),

–  having regard to its resolution of 28 April 2016 on women domestic workers and carers in the EU(8),

–  having regard to its resolution of 26 May 2016 on poverty: a gender perspective(9),

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

–  having regard to its resolution of 5 July 2016 on implementation of the 2010 recommendations of Parliament on social and environmental standards, human rights and corporate responsibility(11),

–  having regard to its resolution of 12 September 2017 on the impact of international trade and the EU’s trade policies on global value chains(12),

–  having regard to its recommendation of 14 September 2017 to the Council, the Commission and the European External Action Service on the negotiations of the modernisation of the trade pillar of the EU-Chile Association Agreement(13),

–  having regard to the ‘Trio Presidency Declaration on Equality between Women and Men’ presented on 19 July 2017 by Estonia, Bulgaria and Austria, the Member States holding the Presidency of the Council of the European Union during the 18-month period from July 2017 to December 2018,

–  having regard to the study by the International Centre for Research on Women entitled ‘Trade liberalisation & women’s reproductive health: linkages and pathways’,

–  having regard to the Africa Human Development Report 2016 entitled ‘Accelerating Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment in Africa’(14),

–  having regard to the 2014 OECD report ‘Enhancing Women’s Economic Empowerment through Entrepreneurship and Business Leadership in OECD Countries’(15),

–  having regard to the results of the most recent high-level international debates on gender and trade, with particular attention to those organised under the umbrella of the EU and the WTO/UNCTAD/ITC, including, in inverse chronological order, the ‘International Forum on Women and Trade’, organised jointly by the European Commission and the International Trade Centre (Brussels, June 2017)(16), the annual plenary session of the Parliamentary Conference on the WTO on ‘Trade as a vehicle of social progress: The gender perspective’ (Geneva, June 2016)(17) and the WTO plenary session on ‘What future for the WTO? Trade and Gender: Empowering Women through Inclusive Supply Chains’ (Geneva, July 2015)(18),

–  having regard to the increasing international efforts to promote gender equality though trade policies, such as the UNCTAD programme on gender and development(19) (which includes studies on the impact of trade on women, a teaching packet on trade and gender, and online training on the creation of the status of ‘gender champions’) and the World Bank working areas, all 14 of which have, since 2016, a gender strategy,

–  having regard to the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD) issue paper ‘The Gender Dimensions of Global Value Chains’ (September 2016)(20),

–  having regard to the ICTSD issue paper ‘The Gender Dimensions of Services’ (September 2016)(21),

–  having regard to the 2015 UN Women report entitled ‘Progress of the world’s women 2015-2016. Transforming economies, realising rights’(22),

–  having regard to the 2017 WIDE+ gender and EU trade position paper entitled ‘How to transform EU trade policy to protect women’s rights’(23),

–  having regard to the 2016 study prepared at request of Parliament’s Women’s Rights and Gender Equality Committee and entitled ‘Gender Equality in Trade Agreements’(24),

–  having regard to the 2015 study prepared at request of Parliament’s Committee on International Trade entitled ‘The EU’s Trade Policy: from gender-blind to gender-sensitive?’(25),

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

–  having regard to the joint deliberations of the Committee on International Trade and the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality under Rule 55 of the Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on International Trade and the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality and the opinion of the Committee on Development (A8-0023/2018),

A.  whereas Article 8 of the TFEU states that the European Union shall, through all its actions inside and outside of the Union, aim at eliminating inequalities and promote gender equality and combat discrimination, among others, on the grounds of sex, when defining and implementing its policies and activities;

B.  whereas trade policy could serve as a tool to promote global and European values, including gender equality; whereas EU trade and investment agreements and policy are not gender-neutral, meaning that they have different impact on women and men due to structural inequalities; whereas women face gender-specific constraints, such as limited access to and control over resources, legal discrimination and the overburden of carrying out unpaid care work resulting from traditional gender roles;

C.  whereas gender equality should concern both women and men equally; whereas engagement and partnership between public and private sector stakeholders, at international and local levels, are key to promoting the synergies needed to achieve gender equality and women empowerment, and to raise awareness about issues such as: property rights; access to finance, education and vocational training; corporate behaviour; government procurement; the digital gap; and cultural bias;

D.  whereas trade policies aim to achieve, among other things, the sustainable and equitable economic growth and development needed to ensure poverty reduction, social justice and decent work and better living conditions for both women and men, as well as to safeguard women’s rights; whereas gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls is not only to be mainstreamed across all UN sustainable development goals (SDGs), but is also a standalone goal; whereas the SDG agenda acknowledges that trade contributes to the promotion of sustainable and equitable development and could contribute to the promotion of the highest international labour and environmental standards and human rights; whereas EU trade policy is an important part of the SDG framework, and a strong gender perspective is an essential element of that framework, the aim of which is to ensure fairer and beneficial outcomes for all; whereas trade policy can also expand opportunities for women entrepreneurship, access to apprenticeship and employment;

E.  whereas the complex relationship between international trade and gender demands a deep understanding of the forces at work, involving the identification, analysis and monitoring of the economic and social dynamics required to develop a efficient trade policy in pursuit of economic development that also promotes women’s empowerment and gender equality; whereas trade policy must therefore take account of its direct and indirect impacts on gender, as well as of specific local contexts, in order to avoid reproducing or exacerbating existing gender gaps and stereotypes, and to strengthen gender equality proactively; whereas the success of trade policy should also be evaluated on the basis of whether it has a positive and equal impact on both women and men;

F.  whereas economic development and gender equality frequently go hand-in-hand; whereas there is a broad understanding that societies in which gender inequalities are lower also tend to grow faster;

G.  whereas the impact of trade liberalisation on individuals also depend on their geographical localisation and on the economic sector in which they are active; whereas important differences exist, both between and within countries, in terms of production structures, female labour force participation rates and welfare regimes; whereas women comprise the majority of workers in sectors such as garment and textile manufacturing, telecommunication, tourism, the care economy and agriculture, where they tend to be concentrated in more low-wage or low-status forms of formal and informal employment than men; whereas this may lead to abuses at the workplace and to discrimination, gender segregation in types of occupations and activities, gender gaps in wages and working conditions, and gender-specific constraints in access to productive resources, infrastructure and services; whereas free trade agreements (FTAs) can lead to employment shifts and losses, particularly in export-related sectors in which women often form the majority of the work force; whereas country-specific and sector-specific gender assessments therefore bring important added value when designing trade agreements;

H.  whereas in the EU in 2011, export-dependent employment accounted for about one out of every nine jobs (11 %) held by women in the EU;

I.  whereas, according to a 2017 Commission study, almost 12 million women in the EU have jobs that depend on the exports of goods and services to the rest of the world(26);

J.  whereas on the basis of fact-based studies, UNCTAD insists in highlighting the limitations that women face in taking advantage of the opportunities offered by trade, arising from factors such as lack of technical training for better jobs, lack of public services to alleviate household responsibilities, and restricted access and control over resources, including credit and land, information as well as networks; whereas, on this basis, UNCTAD recommends that evaluations address the potential impact of trade policies on gender equality and women empowerment in areas such as employment, small business, prices, productivity in agriculture, subsistence agriculture and migration(27);

K.  whereas current EU trade policy and its ‘Trade for All’ strategy is based on three key principles: effectiveness, transparency and values, but lack a gender equality perspective; whereas the Commission has renewed and expanded its commitment on gender equality and women’s economic empowerment in its review of the Aid for Trade strategy, stating that gender equality is not only a fundamental human right, but also crucial for economic development, making the most of the wide range of EU policy tools available in order to increase their overall impact on growth and poverty reduction; whereas following the provisions included in CEDAW, the EU should provide the basis for realising equality between women and men through ensuring women’s equal access to, and equal opportunities in, political, economic and public life, as well as education, health and employment;

L.  whereas women are affected by trade and trade agreements as potential entrepreneurs, consumers, workers and informal workers; whereas there is a crucial need to recognise and better understand gender-specific impacts of trade policy in order to deliver adequate policy responses; whereas in order to meet this aim, it is necessary to develop an adequate methodology to ensure that the possible impacts of EU trade policy and agreements on gender equality and women’s rights are always evaluated; whereas the Commission should make quantitative gender-disaggregated research by sectors such as, among other, business, science, and technology; whereas, until now, the EU has concluded trade agreements without undertaking assessments of their impact on women and gender equality; whereas the Commission has announced that a modernised Association Agreement between Chile and the EU will include, for the first time for the EU, a specific chapter on gender and trade;

M.  whereas gender issues and women rights are not sufficiently taken into account in the sustainable impact assessments of trade agreements;

N.  whereas an ex-ante assessment of the gender implications of trade policies can make a contribution to women’s empowerment and well-being and, at the same time, help mitigate existing disparities and avoid increasing gender inequality;

O.  whereas a review of current EU multilateral and bilateral agreements shows that 20 % of the agreements with non-European trading partners make reference to women’s rights, and that 40 % of these agreements include references that aim to promote gender equality; whereas references in these agreements to promote women’s empowerment are mainly voluntary and, when binding, they are not enforceable in practice; whereas a recent study by the Commission shows that a gender gap persists in terms of opportunities for access to jobs; whereas the study shows that empowering women could increase global GDP by USD 28 billion by 2025, and that it is essential as much from economic as social and poverty eradication perspectives, given the role of women in communities;

P.  whereas in both developing and developed countries, micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) constitute the largest part of the private sector and a vast majority of employment; whereas, according to the International Trade Centre (ITC), MSMEs together represent 95 % of all firms globally, approximately 50 % of global GDP and over 70 % of total employment; whereas up to 40 % of all MSMEs are owned by women while only 15 % of exporting firms are led by women; whereas, however, OCDE figures show that women entrepreneurs still frequently earn 30-40 % less than their male counterparts(28);

Q.  whereas the public debate and reaction across Europe on trade negotiations such as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), the EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) and the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA) have shown the need for transparent and inclusive negotiations, taking into account the strong concerns voiced by European citizens in many countries; whereas EU trade policy should not lower any of the EU’s standards, and whereas public services should always be excluded from trade negotiations; whereas any dispute settlement mechanism should be designed to guarantee the capacity of individual governments to regulate in the public interest and to serve public policy objectives; whereas progress must be expected in other critical areas of concern, such as reinforcing companies’ corporate social responsibility (CSR) obligations in relation to human rights; whereas a global holistic approach to corporate liability for human rights abuses is needed in the context of global value chains;

R.  whereas the UN Guiding Principles on business, trade and human rights are binding on all states and all enterprises, regardless of their size, sector, location, ownership or structure;

S.  whereas the Global Strategy for the European Union’s Foreign and Security Policy, adopted by the Council in 2016, affirms that human rights must be mainstreamed systematically across all policy sectors and institutions, including international trade and commercial policy;

T.  whereas the Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP) aims, among other things, to contribute to poverty eradication and promote sustainable development and good governance; whereas GSP+ includes a conditionality aimed at ensuring the ratification and implementation of 27 international conventions – on human and labour rights, environmental protection and good governance – by eligible developing countries; whereas it is crucial to monitor their implementation on a regular basis, to take action when needed and to pay particular attention to gender equality; whereas CEDAW is one of the relevant conventions under GSP+;

U.  whereas more than 40 % of agricultural work in the Global South is done by women;

V.  whereas the expansion of global trade and integration of developing countries into global value chains (GVCs) can carry the risk of creating gender inequalities when those are used to produce more economically competitive products; whereas it has also allowed many women workers to move from informal to the formal sector; whereas rules of origin have become increasingly important in the context of GVCs, in which the production spans across several countries; whereas clearer and more well-defined rules of origin can create a framework towards establishing full transparency and accountability throughout supply chains, and this can have a positive impact on women, particularly those working in the garment sector;

W.  whereas these new trade-related employment opportunities for women in developing countries contribute significantly to household incomes and poverty reduction;

X.  whereas the garment sector mainly employs women; whereas it is important to recall that 289 people perished in a blaze in Karachi, Pakistan, in September 2012, that a fire at the Tazreen Fashions factory, in Bangladesh, in the same year caused the death of 117 people and injured more than 200 workers, and that the structural failure of the Rana Plaza, also in Bangladesh, in 2013 resulted in 1 129 casualties and caused injuries to approximately 2 500 people; whereas all of these were garment factories;

Y.  whereas the majority of the workers in export processing zones (EPZs) are women; and whereas, in some countries, EPZs are exempt from local labour laws, ban or limit union activity and do not provide legal redress to workers, in clear violation of ILO core standards;

Z.  whereas the public and private sectors, civil society (in particular women’s rights organisations), social partners and trade unions have the knowledge and potential to play a crucial role in shaping and monitoring trade policy, and in collecting data that can inform on the issues women face with regard to trade liberalisation, with a view to strengthening women’s rights, their economic empowerment and the promotion of women entrepreneurship;

AA.  whereas events such as the International Forum on Women and Trade organised by the Commission on 20 June 2017 enable many economic stakeholders and representatives of civil society to exchange and launch initiatives on the impact of trade on gender equality;

AB.  whereas multilateral platforms and intergovernmental fora such as the UN SDGs and the Women20 (W20) are crucial for fostering gender-related discussion and action among experts, and for providing a good basis for consensus-building;

AC.  whereas public services, existing or future services of general interest, and services of general economic interest should be excluded from the negotiations on, and scope of application of, any trade agreement concluded by the EU (including, but not limited to, water, sanitation, health, care, social services, social security systems, education, waste management and public transport); whereas, the Commission has committed itself to ensuring that these services remain the competence of the Member States and that governments cannot be required to privatise any service, nor be prevented from defining, regulating, providing and supporting services, in general interest at any time;

AD.  whereas trade in services and public procurement can affect women disproportionately, and whereas public procurement remains a tool allowing governments to have a positive impact on disadvantaged groups of people, especially women; whereas privatisation of health and care services risks increasing inequality and can have a negative impact on the working conditions of many women; whereas an above-average number of women are employed in public services or in the public service sector and, as users of these services, are more dependent on high-quality, affordable, accessible and demand-driven public services than men, particularly with regard to social services such as childcare and care for dependents; whereas cuts in national households and cuts to public services, as well as price increases, tend to shift this care burden nearly exclusively onto women, which will consequently hinder gender equality;

AE.  whereas the intellectual property rights (IPR) system contributes to EU`s knowledge-based economy; whereas IPR provisions related to patents that prohibit the production of generic medicines can have a significant impact on the particular health requirements of women; whereas women rely more than men on affordable access to healthcare and to medicines and their availability, especially with regard to their sexual and reproductive health and rights; whereas access to medicines in non-EU countries should not be challenged on the basis of IPR protection;

AF.  whereas decisions on trade and trade agreements are only to a small extent made by women, as negotiating teams, parliaments and governments are still far from achieving gender balance; whereas gender balance in these institutions could not only lead to better integration of gender-equality issues, but also increase the democratic legitimacy of decision making;

AG.  whereas not enough human resources are allocated within the Commission and the EEAS to ensure that a gender perspective is mainstreamed in EU trade policies and, particularly, in the entire process of trade negotiations;

AH.  whereas the Commission, when working on the legal framing of relatively new trade policy areas such as e-commerce, should from the start factor in their impact on gender roles, work-live balance and the amount of unpaid work;

AI.  whereas trade in conflict minerals has proven to be linked directly to widespread human rights violations, including rape and sexual violence against women and girls, child and slave labour and mass displacements;

I.Strengthening gender equality in trade: general considerations and objectives

1.  Stresses that the EU is obliged to conduct a value-based trade policy, which includes ensuring a high level of protection of labour and environmental rights as well as the respect of fundamental freedoms and human rights, including gender equality; recalls that all EU trade agreements must include an ambitious and enforceable chapter on trade and sustainable development (TSD); stresses that trading commitments in EU agreements should never overrule human rights, women’s rights or environmental protection, and should take into account the local, social and economic environment;

2.  Recalls that gender equality is firmly established in all EU policies, as stated in Article 8 of the TFEU; notes that this Article stipulates that ‘in all its activities, the Union shall aim to eliminate inequalities, and to promote equality, between women and men’; calls on the Commission to increase policy coherence between different policies such as trade, development, agriculture, employment, migration and gender equality;

3.  Stresses that fair and inclusive international trade policies require a clear framework contributing to enhancing women’s empowerment and their living and working conditions, strengthening gender equality, protecting the environment and improving social justice, international solidarity and international economic development;

4.  Stresses that the overarching purpose of trade policy must be to promote mutually beneficial economic growth; recalls that while trade policy can promote other values that the European Union is pushing for in the multilateral arena, there are limits to the global issues that can be solved through trade policy and through trade agreements;

5.  Insists that the new generation of trade agreements should promote relevant international standards and legal instruments, including on gender equality, such as CEDAW, the Beijing Platform for Action, the core ILO Conventions and the SDGs;

6.  Stresses that trading commitments in EU agreements should never overrule human rights; welcomes the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, and calls on the Member States to adopt and elaborate national action plans in accordance with the UN Guiding Principles, taking into account women’s rights and the need to combat gender-based violence; calls on the Commission to use trade negotiations to encourage the EU’s trade partners to adopt national action plans of their own; supports the ongoing negotiations to create a binding UN instrument on transnational corporations and other business enterprises with respect to human rights; stresses the importance of the EU being actively involved in this intergovernmental process and calls on the Commission and the Member States to encourage trading partners to engage constructively in these negotiations;

7.  Calls on the Commission to ensure that Articles 16 and 17 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights are fully respected by the EU’s trade partners, as a means of combatting gender-based inequalities in the field of social and economic rights;

8.  Recalls that only Member States have the competence to regulate and reverse liberalisation in services of general interest, and therefore calls on them to protect fundamental objectives such as gender equality, human rights and fundamental freedoms, public health, and social and environmental standards;

9.  Emphasises the need for governments to maintain their ability to allocate resources to the achievement of women’s rights and gender equality in order to guarantee an inclusive and sustainable future for societies; stresses, in this regard, the paramount importance of respecting, in accordance with SDG target 17.15, partner countries’ democratic policy space to regulate and take suitable decisions for their own national context, respond to the demands of their populations, and fulfil their human rights obligations and other international commitments, including those on gender equality;

10.  Recalls that it has called on the Commission to put an end to the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) system, and underlines that any dispute settlement mechanism should be designed to guarantee the capacity of individual governments to regulate in the public interest and to serve public policy objectives, including measures to promote gender equality as well as stronger labour, environmental and consumer rights;

11.  Notes that IPR provisions in trade often have an impact on public health and on the particular health requirements of women; calls on the Commission and the Council to ensure that IPR provisions in trade agreements take due account of women’s rights, particularly with regard to their impact on women’s health, including access to affordable healthcare and medicines; calls on the Commission and the Council to promote the protection of geographical indications (GIs) as a tool of particular importance for the empowerment of rural women; calls, furthermore, on the Commission, the Council and the Member States to reconsider the extension of protection to non-agricultural products, bearing in mind that the EU has already agreed to protect non-agricultural GI products in FTAs;

12.  Recalls that the SDG require gender-disaggregated data to allow progress to be tracked towards all goals, including SDG 5 on gender equality; stresses that there is no adequate data available on the impact of trade on gender equality, and calls for sufficient and adequate gender disaggregated data on the impact of trade to be collected; stresses that such data would make it possible to establish a methodology with clear and measurable indicators at regional, national and sectorial levels, improve analysis and define objectives to be achieved and measures to be taken to ensure that women and men benefit equally from trade; underlines that particular attention should be put on quantitative and qualitative gender-disaggregated analysis of labour evolution, ownership of assets and financial inclusion in sectors that have been impacted by trade; encourages the Commission to cooperate with European and international organisations such as the World Bank, the United Nations, the OECD and the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE), as well as with national statistics offices, with a view to improving the collection and availability of such data; calls on the EU and its Member States to include in ex-ante and ex-post impact assessments the country-specific and sector-specific gender impact of EU trade policy and agreements; stresses that the results of the gender-focused analysis should be taken into account in trade negotiations – considering both positive and negative impact throughout the whole process, from the negotiation stage to implementation – and should be accompanied by measures to prevent or compensate possible negative effects;

II.Strengthening gender equality in trade: sector-specific considerations and objectives

13.  Underlines that services of general interest and services of general economic interest – including, but not limited to, water, social services, social security systems, education, waste management, public transport and healthcare – must remain exempted from the scope of trade negotiations and fall under the competence of Member State governments; urges the EU to ensure that trade and investment treaties do not lead to the privatisation of public services that could impact women, both as service providers and service users, and increase gender inequality; stresses that the issue of public provision of social services is especially salient for gender equality, given that changes in access to, and user fees of, such services and their quality can lead to uneven gender distribution in unpaid care work; points out that governments, and national and local authorities, must retain the full right and ability to introduce, regulate, adopt, maintain or repeal any measures with regard to the commissioning, organisation, funding and provision of universal access to services of general interest and services of general economic interests;

14.  Stresses that trade policy can have an impact on access to essential health services, and can therefore influence access to, and the advancement of, reproductive and sexual health and rights objectives in policies, programmes and services; emphasises, therefore, that basic healthcare – in particular access to sexual and reproductive health and rights services – are exempted from trade negotiations and notes that they fall under the competence of the Member States;

15.  Calls for binding, enforceable and effective measures to combat the exploitation, and improve the working and living conditions, of women in export-oriented industries, in keeping with the objective of improving the living and working conditions of women in countries and sectors of concern, in particular in the garment, textile and agriculture sectors, in order to avoid that trade liberalisation contributes to precarious labour rights and increased gender wage gaps; believes that such measures, and the establishment of common definitions, should allow for clearer and better coordinated action with international organisation such as the UN, the WTO, the ILO and the OECD; values the Bangladesh Sustainability Compact as a good example, and as a step forward in terms of getting a monitoring mechanism in place, and calls for full compliance of its terms; calls, in this context, on the Commission, on all international actors and on all businesses concerned to acknowledge and adhere to the new OECD Due Diligence Guidelines for Responsible Supply Chains in the Garment and Footwear sector;

16.  Calls for an increased focus on women working in the informal sector, recognising the need to reinforce decent work standards for women workers in this sector;

17.  Underlines that women and girls tend to be ones who suffer the most, as labour trafficking is strongly linked to trafficking for sexual purposes;

18.  Stresses that the impact of increasing agricultural exports generally favours women less than men, as emerging trends indicate that small farmers, many of whom are women, are often not in a position to compete in overseas markets owing to inheritance laws and a lack of access to credit, information, land and networks, as well of possibilities to comply with new rules and standards; notes that particular efforts must be made to improve the positive impact of trade on women in the agricultural sector, where they have been identified as being particularly vulnerable, but also as having a clear potential for empowerment; stresses that women-owned businesses would benefit from the elimination of gender stereotypes, from increased market access and facilitated access to finance, marketing formation and networks, and from improved capacity building and training; notes that trade liberalisation could impact women negatively in sectors such as agriculture and food processing; stresses that although women workers predominate in world food production (accounting for 50-80 % of the global labour force), they own less than 20 % of the land, and, consequently, that increasing commercial demands on and for land makes it difficult for poorer women to gain or retain secure and equitable land access; recalls the need to prevent the potentially negative impact of IPR clauses, e.g. on seed privatisation, in trade agreements on food sovereignty;

19.  Stresses that women who work in subsistence agriculture face additional barriers to maintaining food sovereignty owing to the strong protection of new varieties of plants under the International Convention for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV Convention) in trade agreements;

20.  Underlines that EU agricultural imports may undercut traditional small-scale farms and thereby endanger women’s livelihoods;

21.  Recalls the importance of MSMEs in the EU’s economic structure; calls on the Commission to continue its efforts to support MSMEs, with specific focus on, and measures for, women-led MSMEs; calls on the EU and its Member States to pay particular attention to the special circumstances of women-led MSMEs when establishing export help-desks, to take advantage of the possibilities created by FTAs and to strengthen services, technologies and infrastructures (such as access to internet) that are of particular importance to the economic empowerment of women and women-led MSMEs; calls on the Commission to help set up partnerships between female entrepreneurs in the EU and their counterparts in developing countries;

III.Strengthening gender equality in trade: actions required at EU level

22.  Insists that certain elements of EU trade policy, such as TSD chapters and the GSP+ system and the monitoring thereof, can help promote and uphold human rights, including gender equality, workers’ rights and environmental protection; insists that binding and enforceable provisions in EU trade agreements are needed to ensure respect for human rights, including gender equality and environmental and labour protection, as well as to ensure that EU trade policy is coherent with the Union’s overarching aims of sustainable development, poverty reduction and gender equality;

23.  Calls on the EU and the Member States to ensure that the objectives of the SDGs, in particular Goal 5 on gender equality, and the Strategic engagement for gender equality 2016-2019 are fully reflected in EU trade policies;

24.  Regrets the fact that the EU’s trade strategy entitled ‘Trade for All’ does not mention gender equality; welcomes the fact that the ‘Report on the Implementation of the Trade Policy Strategy Trade for All’ of 13 September 2017 mentions gender equality in trade and specifies that it is essential for EU decision makers to improve their understanding of the impact of trade instruments on gender equality; calls on the Commission to take this dimension into account in its mid-term review of the Trade for All strategy, and to ensure that the gender perspective is included and mainstreamed in the EU’s trade and investment policy, as it would maximise the overall gains from trade opportunities for all; recalls that trade policy could contribute to promoting gender equality on the international scene, and should be used as a tool to improve the living and working conditions of women, on equal terms as men, for instance by supporting the reduction of gender pay gaps by promoting the creation of better quality jobs for women;

25.  Calls on the Commission, the Council and the Member States to ensure that public procurement provisions have a positive impact – not least from a gender perspective –when they are included in the EU trade agreements; calls on the Commission to continue its efforts to support MSME access to public procurement and to develop specific measures for MSMEs owned by women; calls for the inclusion of provisions aimed at simplifying procedures, and increasing transparency, for bidders, including those from non-EU countries; calls for further promotion of socially and environmentally responsible public procurement, taking into account the aim of ensuring equal treatment of women and men, equal pay for male and female workers and the promotion of gender equality, building on the experience of the sustainable public procurement rules of ‘Chile Compras’;

26.  Calls on the Commission and the Council to promote, in trade agreements, the commitment to adopt, maintain and implement gender equality laws, regulations and policies effectively, including the necessary active measures to promote gender equality and women empowerment at all levels;

27.  Welcomes the commitment by the Commission to ensure that the trade negotiations to modernise the current EU-Chile Association Agreement will include, for the first time in the EU, a specific chapter on gender and trade; stresses the need to be informed of the content of this chapter; calls on the Commission and the Council to promote and support the inclusion of a specific gender chapter in EU trade and investment agreements, building on existing examples such as the Chile-Uruguay and the Chile-Canada FTAs, and to ensure that it specifically foresees the commitment to promote gender equality and women empowerment; calls for the promotion of international commitments on women’s rights, gender equality, gender mainstreaming and the empowerment of women in all EU trade agreements, based on the Beijing Platform for Action and the SDGs; calls as well for provisions to be included in these trade agreements ensuring that their institutional structures guarantee periodical compliance reviews, substantial discussions and the exchange of information and best practices on gender equality and trade, through, among others, the inclusion of women and experts on gender equality at all levels of the administrations concerned, including trade negotiating teams, joint committees, expert groups, domestic advisory groups, joint consultative committees and dispute settlement bodies;

28.  Calls on the Commission, the Council and the Member States to promote agreements at multilateral level to expand the protection granted by gender-sensitive EU laws such as the Conflict Minerals Regulation;

29.  Calls on the European Investment Bank (EIB) to ensure that companies participating in projects co-financed by the EIB shall be required to adhere to the principle of equal pay and pay transparency, and to the principle of gender equality, as set out in Directive 2006/54/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council(29);

30.  Is convinced that CEDAW is of great importance for all policy areas, including trade; stresses that all Member States have acceded to CEDAW; invites, therefore, the Commission to include a reference to CEDAW in trade agreements and to take steps towards the EU’s accession and ratification of the Convention; calls on the Member States to incorporate the principle of gender equality in their legal systems, abolishing all discriminatory laws and adopting appropriate ones prohibiting discrimination against women;

31.  Calls on the EU to ensure that provisions based on the core labour standards and conventions of the ILO are included in trade agreements; calls on the Commission to work with the Member States towards the ratification and implementation of these conventions, in particular Convention No 189 concerning Decent Work for Domestic Workers and Convention No 156 on Workers with Family Responsibilities, as they address the needs of workers globally, and to ensure that social rights, non-discrimination and equal treatment are included in trade agreements; calls on the Commission, the Council and the Member States to work further within the ILO towards the implementation of these conventions and the reinforcement of international labour standards for decent work on global value chains, with particular focus on women; recalls that effective implementation of these standards and conventions has a positive impact on working conditions for women in the EU and in non-EU countries; calls on the Commission to ensure that trade agreements between the EU and other partners contribute to the eradication of practices such as the exploitation of employees, especially women;

32.  Calls on the Commission to ensure that social and environmental standards, particularly labour rights subscribed to in FTAs and autonomous regimes, apply throughout the territory of trade partners, and, particularly, in EPZs;

33.  Stresses the importance of monitoring the implementation of the EU’s Generalised Scheme of Preferences ( GSP) and GSP+ systems, particularly as regards the implementation of core conventions; points out that the GSP + conventions include the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women of 1979, Convention No 111 concerning Discrimination in Respect of Employment and Occupation, and Convention No 100 concerning Equal Remuneration for Men and Women Workers for Work of Equal Value; points out that upholding and implementing such conventions helps further gender equality; acknowledges that the GSP and GSP+ systems are valuable tools for promoting respect for human rights; calls on the Commission to find ways to improve these systems by means such as reinforcing their conditionality to the removal of legal discrimination against women, and to continue linking economic incentives to the effective adoption, implementation and appropriate monitoring of core human rights, and of environmental and labour conventions that are particularly relevant to women; welcomes the Commission’s mid-term evaluation of the GSP systems in this regard;

34.  Calls on the Commission, the Council and the Member States to ensure, in negotiations at WTO level: that due consideration is given to gender equality when preparing new rules and agreements, and implementing and reviewing existing agreements, included in the WTO Trade Policy Review Mechanism; that transparency is increased in the entire process of WTO negotiations; and that a gender focus informs all current and future negotiations in areas such as agriculture, fisheries, services and e-commerce; calls on the Commission, the Council and the Member States, furthermore, to defend and promote an improved position for women in global value chains (making the best use of WTO tools such as the Trade Facilitation Agreement), to develop capacity-building programmes and organise regular expert discussions and the exchange of good practices, to support the adoption of gender-related measures within the WTO’s administrative structure and, more particularly, to ensure that the WTO Secretariat has the technical capacity to undertake gender analysis of trade rules (including the means to conduct gender impact assessments in all phases of its work, such as, e.g., quantitative studies of women benefitting from technical assistance); calls on the Commission, the Council and the Member States, lastly, to make use of WTO tools to address gender issues, both in its jurisprudence and in on-going trade negotiations, and, equally, to support improved cooperation between the WTO and other international organisations, such as UNCTAD, UN-Women and the ILO, in efforts aimed at promoting inclusive international trade and women’s rights and equality;

35.  Calls on the Commission to support international efforts to promote the inclusion of a gender perspective in trade policy and in programmes such as the She Trades initiative of the International Trade Centre (ITC), aimed at connecting one million women entrepreneurs to markets by 2020(30), and encourages, in this regard, the international exchange of best practices on gender-responsive policies and programmes within such organisations and bodies such as the WTO, the ITC and the UN;

36.  Calls on the Commission to reinforce CSR and due diligence in FTAs, in accordance with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and the OECD Due Diligence Guidelines; urges the EU to reinforce CSR, and to take due diligence into account, in free trade agreements, and encourages the WTO to take gender equality into account in its trade policy; stresses as well the importance of addressing this issue in other international and multilateral organisations and forums, such as the UN, the World Bank and the OECD; recalls that in 2010 Parliament requested that companies publish their CSR balance sheets and called for the introduction of due diligence requirements for all undertakings and the consolidation of the CSR concept; welcomes, therefore, that large companies are required to disclose non-financial and diversity information as of 2017, in accordance with the Non-Financial Reporting Directive;

37.  Emphasises the need to enhance codes of conduct, labels and fair-trade schemes, and of ensuring alignment with international standards such as the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, the UN Global Compact and the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises;

38.  Calls on the EU to ensure that the secretariats of the EU institutions responsible for trade policy and negotiations have the knowledge and the technical capacity to incorporate a gender perspective in the entire process of negotiations, from inception to application and evaluation; welcomes the appointment within the structure of DG Trade of a gender focal point responsible for monitoring whether gender aspects are taken into account in EU trade agreements and for ensuring gender mainstreaming in EU trade policy; asks the Commission to provide gender training, or to make use of the training provided by, for example, UNCTAD, to ensure that officials and negotiators are aware of the issues pertaining to gender equality and trade; calls on the Member States to recruit women at all levels within their trade ministries; calls on international organisations such as the WTO, the World Bank, the IMF and the ILO to promote the equal presence of women in their internal structures, particularly in leading positions; calls on the Commission, the Council and the Member States to engage actively in, and to support, efforts to organise regular discussions and actions on gender and trade;

39.  Calls on the Commission and the Council to promote, in trade agreements, the commitment to ensure an improved participation of women in decision-making bodies, both in the public and in the private sector;

40.  Calls on the Commission and the Council to conduct trade negotiations transparently, to respect fully the best practices established in other negotiations and to ensure that, at all stages of negotiations, Parliament is kept informed in a timely and regular manner; calls for negotiating teams to be gender balanced in order that they are fully able to take into account all gender aspects of trade agreements; calls on the EU and the Member States to ensure inclusive participation in trade consultations, both at EU and WTO level, including for women’s rights organisations, trade unions, businesses, civil society and development organisations, and to increase transparency for European citizens putting forward initiatives and publishing information relevant to the negotiations;

41.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to ensure that the goal of gender equality is given particular attention in their development cooperation, and that it is mainstreamed throughout the assistance programmes, especially programmes linked to the Aid for Trade Strategy; calls on the EU to make more funds available for cooperation programmes linked to gender equality and the professional training of women; calls on the Commission to support the least developed countries, financially and through capacity building, in an effort to increase the coherence between trade, development and human rights, including gender equality; stresses that decreased tax revenues resulting from cuts in tariffs need to be addressed in the framework and financing of the sustainable development agenda;

42.  Calls on the Commission to promote female entrepreneurship in developing countries, focusing especially on those countries in which women face greater constraints than men when it comes to access to credit, infrastructure and productive assets;

43.  Calls on the Commission to evaluate the possibility of building up pre-apprenticeship training programmes for providers, employers, workforce practitioners and other industry stakeholders, allowing them to network with their peers from across the EU and to learn from a variety of successful programme models, ultimately with a view to creating favourable conditions for women to partake in the opportunities offered by free trade agreements;

44.  Calls on Commission and the Member States to combine their efforts to adapt policies in areas such as education and vocational training with a view to promoting greater gender equality in the distribution of employment opportunities offered by exports;

45.  Calls on the Commission and the Council to promote, in trade agreements, the commitment to carry out bilateral cooperation activities aimed at improving the capacity of, and conditions for, women to fully benefit from the opportunities offered by these agreements and, with this in sight and to institute and facilitate cooperation, to establish a joint committee on trade and gender and to supervise its application, ensuring appropriate participation of private stakeholders, including experts and civil society organisations active in the field of gender equality and the empowerment of women, and guaranteeing wide representation, by community and by sector, through accessible means of consultation (such as online discussions) beyond structured dialogues;

46.  Calls on the Commission to explore further how EU policies and trade agreements can promote women’s economic empowerment, and female participation in areas such as science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), and how to close gender gaps when it comes to access to, and the use of, new technologies;

o
o   o

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

(1) OJ L 303, 31.10.2012, p. 1.
(2) OJ L 130, 19.5.2017, p. 1.
(3) OJ C 290 E, 29.11.2006, p. 107.
(4) OJ C 99 E, 3.4.2012, p. 31.
(5) OJ C 99 E, 3.4.2012, p. 94.
(6) OJ C 353 E, 3.12.2013, p. 38.
(7) OJ C 407, 4.11.2016, p. 2.
(8) OJ C 66, 21.2.2018, p. 30.
(9) OJ C 76, 28.2.2018, p. 93.
(10) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0073.
(11) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0298.
(12) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0330.
(13) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0354.
(14) UNDP, Africa Human Development Report 2016, http://www.undp.org/content/dam/undp/library/corporate/HDR/Africa%20HDR/AfHDR_2016_lowres_EN.pdf?download.
(15) OCDE technical report, http://www.oecd.org/gender/Enhancing%20Women%20Economic%20Empowerment_Fin_1_Oct_2014.pdf
(16) http://trade.ec.europa.eu/doclib/press/index.cfm?id=1632
(17) https://www.wto.org/english/forums_e/parliamentarians_e/ipuconf2016_e.htm
(18) https://www.wto.org/english/tratop_e/devel_e/a4t_e/global_review15prog_e/global_review15prog_e.htm
(19) http://unctad.org/en/Pages/DITC/Gender-and-Trade/Trade,-Gender-and-Development.aspx
(20) https://www.ictsd.org/sites/default/files/research/the_gender_dimensions_of_global_value_chains_0.pdf
(21) https://www.ictsd.org/sites/default/files/research/the_gender_dimensions_of_services.pdf
(22) http://progress.unwomen.org/en/2015/pdf/unw_progressreport.pdf
(23) https://wideplus.org/2017/06/25/wide-gender-and-trade-position-paper-is-available/
(24) http://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/STUD/2016/571388/IPOL_STU(2016)571388_EN.pdf
(25) http://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/IDAN/2015/549058/EXPO_IDA(2015)549058_EN.pdf
(26) http://trade.ec.europa.eu/doclib/docs/2017/june/tradoc_155632.pdf
(27) Implementing gender-aware ex ante evaluations to maximize the benefits of trade reforms for women, http://unctad.org/en/PublicationsLibrary/presspb2016d7_en.pdf.
(28) OECD background report ‘Enhancing Women’s Economic Empowerment through Entrepreneurship and Business Leadership in OECD Countries’ (2014), http://www.oecd.org/gender/Enhancing%20Women%20Economic%20Empowerment_Fin_1_Oct_2014.pdf.
(29) Directive 2006/54/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 5 July 2006 on the implementation of the principle of equal opportunities and equal treatment of men and women in matters of employment and occupation (OJ L 204, 26.7.2006, p. 23).
(30) http://www.intracen.org/itc/women-and-trade/SheTrades/


Lagging regions in the EU
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European Parliament resolution of 13 March 2018 on lagging regions in the EU (2017/2208(INI))
P8_TA(2018)0067A8-0046/2018

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to Articles 174, 175 and 176 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU),

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

—  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 1299/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 December 2013 on specific provisions for the support from the European Regional Development Fund to the European territorial cooperation goal(2),

—  having regard to the Commission communication of 14 December 2015 entitled ‘Investing in jobs and growth – maximising the contribution of European Structural and Investment Funds’ (COM(2015)0639),

—  having regard to its resolution of 8 October 2013 on effects of budgetary constraints for regional and local authorities regarding the EU’s Structural Funds expenditure in the Member States(3),

—  having regard to its resolution of 6 July 2016 on preparation of the post-electoral revision of the MFF 2014-2020: Parliament’s input ahead of the Commission’s proposal(4),

–   having regard to its resolution of 16 February 2017 on investing in jobs and growth – maximising the contribution of European Structural and Investment Funds: an evaluation of the report under Article 16(3) of the CPR(5),

—  having regard to its resolution of 13 June 2017 on increasing engagement of partners and visibility in the performance of European Structural and Investment Funds(6),

–  having regard to its resolution of 13 June 2017 on building blocks for a post-2020 EU cohesion policy(7),

–  having regard to its resolution of 24 October 2017 on the Reflection Paper on the Future of EU Finances(8),

–  having regard to the Commission staff working document of 10 April 2017 on competitiveness in low-income and low-growth regions: the lagging regions report (SWD(2017)0132),

–  having regard to ex ante conditionalities for smart specialisation strategies,

–  having regard to the seventh report on economic, social and territorial cohesion, published by the Commission on 9 October 2017,

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

—  having regard to the report of the Committee on Regional Development and the opinions of the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development and the Committee on Fisheries (A8-0046/2018),

A.  whereas the protracted economic and financial crisis in the EU has adversely affected economic growth at regional level, although cohesion policy has contributed around one third of the EU budget towards growth and employment and reducing disparities between EU regions; calls on the Commission, in this context, and in the framework of the European Semester, to look into regional and national co-financing under the European Structural and Investment (ESI) Funds and its impact on national deficits;

B.  whereas cohesion policy – implemented through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the European Social Fund (ESF) and the Cohesion Fund (CF) – is the EU’s main investment, growth and development policy, is aligned with the goals of the Europe 2020 strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth, and aims to reduce economic, social and territorial disparities between regions, promote convergence and ultimately improve the quality of life of European citizens;

C.  whereas the principal objective of the ERDF, ESF and CF for the period 2014-2020 is investment in growth and employment with a view to strengthening the labour market, regional economies and European regional cooperation, improving cross-border, transnational and interregional cooperation within the Union, and ultimately reducing development disparities between the individual regions of Europe;

D.  whereas according to the Commission’s lagging regions report, 47 regions in eight Member States are lagging behind; whereas the report may lead to a better understanding of the complexity of the challenges faced by lagging regions, and should therefore be publicly available in all the official EU languages;

E.  whereas cohesion policy plays an important role in all lagging regions and accounts for a very high share of public investment in most of them;

F.  whereas lagging regions have lower productivity, employment and school attendance rates than other regions in the same Member State;

G.  whereas the Commission’s report distinguishes between two types of lagging regions: ‘low-growth regions’ – less-developed and transition regions that did not converge to the EU average between 2000 and 2013 in Member States with a GDP per head in purchasing power standards (PPS) below the EU average in 2013, which comprise almost all the less-developed and transition regions in Greece, Spain, Italy and Portugal; and ‘low-income regions’ – all regions with a GDP per head in PPS below 50 % of the EU average in 2013, which comprise several less-developed regions in Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland and Romania;

H.  whereas low-growth regions suffer from economic stagnation, owing, in particular, to a drop in public and private investment, unlike low-income regions, which generally maintain their development potential;

I.  whereas lagging regions suffer more than others from the shortage of public and private investment, which is also due to public debt reduction requirements imposed by the Stability Pact;

J.  whereas lagging regions are often characterised by a lack of structural reforms, which reduces the impact of already limited public investments;

K.  whereas lagging regions suffer from serious disadvantages in terms of public transport, economic and energy infrastructure, and require more efficient and effective investments;

L.  whereas the Commission takes the view that a closer relationship between cohesion policy and country-specific recommendations in the framework of the European Semester is needed;

M.  whereas lagging regions, and in particular low-income regions, are often confronted with the flight of young people and skilled labour, both of which are necessary resources for the economic and social revitalisation of the areas concerned, making those regions less attractive in terms of employment and investments;

N.  whereas the definition of low-income and low-growth regions should be refined;

O.  whereas it is important to raise awareness among end-users of EU-funded regional and local programmes and the results achieved, regardless of funding levels in any specific region;

P.  whereas good governance and an efficient public administration are needed in lagging regions, as they contribute significantly to creating the conditions for economic growth; whereas reducing the excess of rules and controls, and the length and complexity of procedures, and using ICT tools better, would contribute to improving efficiency and good governance in lagging regions;

Q.  whereas according to the seventh report on economic, social and territorial cohesion, lagging regions are ranked lowest in the European Quality of Government Index, which means that the impact of public investment is reduced;

R.  whereas reliable, up-to-date and disaggregated figures and statistics are important for well-informed, more transparent, impartial and fairer political decisions;

S.  whereas obstacles to growth should be removed and gaps in infrastructures reduced in lagging regions;

T.  whereas SMEs in lagging regions are financed with much higher interest rates and encounter more difficulties in being granted loans from the banking sector in order to co-finance ESI fund projects;

U.  whereas four out of five lagging regions have at least 25 % of their population in a city or its commuting zones, known as a functional urban area (FUA), and one out of five lagging regions has more than 50 % of its population in an FUA;

V.  whereas traditional activities, such as small-scale artisanal fishing or farming, define identities and lifestyles in most coastal and rural areas of lagging regions, and are of economic, territorial, social and cultural importance; whereas development strategies are needed in order to enhance the capacity to retain and attract talent, adopt new technologies, and stimulate new investments;

1.  Welcomes the fact that the Commission has presented a staff working document on competitiveness in low-income and low-growth regions: the lagging regions report; notes that the report proposes a number of positive solutions to support economic growth, sustainable development and job creation in these regions; stresses, furthermore, that the analysis concerning their competitiveness makes an important contribution to the future debate on cohesion policy;

2.  Welcomes the implementation of the pilot initiatives for lagging regions in two regions in Romania and, with the support of the World Bank, two regions in Poland, particularly the definition of strategic priorities and concrete, quickly implementable actions; looks forward to the publication of the results of these initiatives;

3.  Stresses that cohesion policy plays a key role in ensuring and promoting public and private investment in all EU regions, both directly and by contributing to the creation of a favourable environment for investment; considers that the EU as a whole, in order to promote its overall harmonious development, should carry out actions which strengthen its economic, social and territorial cohesion and reduce disparities between the levels of development of the various regions and the backwardness of lagging regions;

4.  Calls on the Commission to define lagging regions at NUTS III level, on the basis of general economic and social conditions, and to better target the financing of these areas in line with ESI fund programming cycles;

5.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to create tailor-made strategies, programmes and actions for the different lagging regions, taking into account the trends and sub-regional disparities, as the paths taken and the challenges facing low-income and low-growth regions differ greatly, depending on their specificities, using smart specialisation strategies, to accelerate their convergence and secure the best solutions for job creation, economic growth and sustainable development; considers that these strategies, programmes or actions should be coordinated with the Urban Agenda, as lagging regions are not purely rural;

6.  Stresses that, in addition to the low development of and investment in SMEs, unemployment remains drastically high, particularly among young people, and represents one of the most serious and pressing problems in the vast majority of lagging regions; underlines the fundamental role of secondary and higher education, of professional, on-the-job training and of knowledge transfer in combating the alarming levels of youth unemployment and the large numbers of young people departing these regions; points out the importance of education and training and of increased investments in relation to the needs and development of SMEs and family businesses; is of the opinion that the involvement of young people leads to improved performance, since they often provide innovative solutions;

7.  Notes that the presence of an educated and trained workforce that matches the needs of the regional economy has a powerful impact on competitiveness, productivity and the attractiveness of the labour market, which can then flourish in an environment of growth and openness to public and private investment; is of the opinion that, in this context, account should be taken of the present situation of lagging regions, particularly the negative migration rate and its adverse impact on employment; highlights the role that agriculture and fisheries play in lagging regions, as they, through the promotion of family businesses and jobs, and the facilitation of social inclusion, supply food and guarantee food security;

8.  Notes that diversification has become a necessity for farmers and fishermen, particularly in the lagging regions, as a means to provide additional sources of income and boost economically and environmentally sustainable activities; notes, however, that such diversification must in no way replace more traditional activities, such as sustainable fishing; encourages the Member States and regional and local authorities to support blue economy and similar projects in order to help people in the lagging regions develop environmentally sustainable income sources;

9.  Hopes that the implementation of the EU 2020 Strategy in the area of employment, education and training, as well as the forthcoming EU long-term strategy and its objectives, will continue to take due account of the specific needs of lagging regions, and in particular of the persistent infrastructure gaps and the development of human capital, focusing particularly on the rate of early school leavers and their adverse impact on employment; calls on the Commission, in this context, to look into the impact of a possible increase in the ESF co-financing rate for the next financing period;

10.  Considers it necessary to strike the right balance between structural interventions, social policies and industrial policies in the programming and implementation of ESI funds, in order to stimulate economic growth, sustainable development and job creation by combining grants with financial instruments and attracting extra financial support, thereby helping to address the remaining shortcomings; stresses, in this regard, that low-risk financial instruments could be preferable to higher-risk ones wherever the economic outlook allows for it;

11.  Notes that cohesion policy can serve as a tool for rectifying competitiveness gaps and imbalances, as well as macroeconomic asymmetries between regions, by encouraging the creation of an attractive and sustainable environment for businesses and citizens; underlines the fact that, in low-growth regions, accessing credit, enforcing contracts and protecting minority investments are the main problems identified, while in low-income regions, the biggest issues are resolving insolvency, electricity supply and contract enforcement;

12.  Notes that lagging regions are under considerable migratory pressure; believes that the contribution of the ESI funds to tackling this challenge can only be successful if the principle of solidarity is also applied effectively; considers that refugees and migrants under international protection need to receive appropriate training and education with a view to being integrated into the labour market;

13.  Notes that many of the problems of lagging regions are similar to those experienced in the outermost regions; welcomes, therefore, the strategy proposed by the Commission in its communication: ‘A stronger and renewed strategic partnership with the EU’s outermost regions’(9);

14.  Considers that demographic and social development criteria, such as the Regional Social Progress Index, and environmental or other indicators, along with GDP, could be considered in the context of cohesion policy and included in future Commission reports on lagging regions, in order to ensure that the potential of lagging regions is fulfilled;

15.  Highlights the adverse effects of the economic and financial crisis, especially for low-growth regions, which have reduced the margins of budgetary policies, leading to public investment cuts; stresses, on the other hand, the importance of debt reduction with a view to eliminating the budgetary deficit and tailoring public investment to growth requirements;

16.  Considers that cohesion policy has a positive impact in creating growth and employment; stresses the need to apply the agreed position on the Stability and Growth Pact regarding flexibility for cyclical conditions, structural reforms and government investments aimed at implementing major structural reforms and similar projects, with a view to achieving the Europe 2020 goals; recognises the necessity of clarifying the context and scope of application of structural reforms within cohesion policy; notes, however, that such structural reforms in Member States and regions under support programmes may help to achieve a better outcome for investments under cohesion policy;

17.  Calls for stronger action to increase convergence between all regions, including action to ensure their resiliency to sudden shocks;

18.  Notes that access to credit is harder in lagging regions, especially in low-income regions, because of higher interest rates and, to a certain extent, the risk aversion of the credit system; stresses the importance of ensuring easier access to credit in order to assist SMEs, to encourage new business models, and to promote growth in lagging regions;

19.  Stresses the importance of EU funds in boosting the economic resilience and cohesion of those regions, as well as competitiveness, investment and opportunities for cooperation; acknowledges, therefore, the input of local action groups in developing local strategies; suggests that the Commission should look into the possibility of proposing the allocation of a larger share of support to community-led local development (CLLD), thus helping to both tackle challenges and build up capacities; recalls that lagging regions often experience difficulties in accessing finance, as well as bureaucratic and administrative delays which hamper the operations of EU funds;

20.  Is of the opinion that positive incentives could be sought for the regions within the existing framework of the macroeconomic conditions imposed by the European Semester;

21.  Takes into consideration the importance of sound economic governance for an efficient overall performance of ESI funds, with the ultimate aim of rectifying shortcomings and preventing delays; supports, in this regard, the need to analyse and subsequently review the very rationale of the link between the European Semester and cohesion policy;

22.  Believes that solidarity, stronger institutional capacity, respect for the principle of good governance, better connectivity and digitalisation in these regions have a significant impact on their economic growth and on the more efficient and effective use of existing resources; draws attention, for this reason, to the issue of supporting and improving the quality of administration and institutions in the regions affected; calls on the Commission and the Member States to disseminate best practice examples on the increased efficiency of public administration, as effective governance should be the basic recommendation for lagging regions;

23.  Underlines, in this context, the importance of the partnership principle, and of multi-level governance, which needs to be strengthened without prejudice to the principle of subsidiarity; believes that the involvement of all levels of government and interested stakeholders in designing and implementing strategies and specific programmes and actions aimed at these regions is fundamental in order to create effective European added value for citizens;

24.  Reiterates the importance of innovation, digitalisation, and improving local services (health, social, postal) and infrastructure for creating a positive environment and a good foundation for boosting growth and enhancing cohesion in lagging regions; considers that the provision of high-speed internet connections is a precondition for the viability of rural and mountainous areas; highlights the potential of multi-sectoral projects that promote economic, social and territorial development by capitalising on synergies between European funds;

25.  Suggests that country-specific recommendations within the framework of the European Semester should be made on a multiannual basis, with medium-term monitoring and reviews, and seen as positive incentives for the launch of structural reforms rather than as instruments that could exclude access to investments under the cohesion policy, with a view to contributing to the common objectives of the Union;

26.  Believes that the measures linking the effectiveness of ESI funds to sound economic governance, as outlined in Regulation (EU) No 1303/2013, should be carefully analysed, including through the involvement of all stakeholders; believes, furthermore, that the rationale behind the link between the ESI funds and sound economic governance should be rethought, with a view to the next programming period and taking into account its implementation over the period 2014-2020; is of the opinion that the Commission should consider adjustments to how the European Semester and cohesion policy are linked; suggests, in this regard, a system of positive incentives, with margins to be created in the new multiannual financial framework (MFF), which could serve as an envelope to be used when Member States comply with the country-specific recommendations and other requirements under the European Semester;

27.  Considers it particularly necessary to support productive and indigenous business activities specific to lagging regions, including sustainable tourism, the circular economy, local energy transition, agriculture, manufactured products, and innovation focused on SMEs; considers that synergies arising from the effective combination of funding from regional and national bodies and from EU instruments, using integrated territorial investments, should help to create economic opportunities, particularly for young people;

28.  Underlines the importance of exploiting all the opportunities offered by the EU for sustainable development and growth in these regions; considers that Member States should pay particular attention to lagging regions when preparing operational and cross-border cooperation programmes; recalls, therefore, that it is important to encourage the use of funds under direct management and the EFSI, alongside and in coordination with the opportunities offered by cohesion policy;

29.  Stresses the importance of reliable, up-to-date, disaggregated statistics; requests, therefore, that the Commission and Eurostat provide statistics with the greatest possible detail and geographical disaggregation, so that they may be used to devise suitable cohesion policies, including in the lagging regions; welcomes, in this context, the information provided in the Commission’s report;

30.  Calls on the Commission to consider reviewing the existing relationship between cohesion policy and macroeconomic governance, recalling that the policy has legitimacy stemming directly from the Treaties, and is one of the most visible European policies and the most important expression of European solidarity and added value across all European regions; believes that the link between cohesion policy and economic governance processes within the framework of the European Semester must be balanced, reciprocal and focused on a system of positive incentives; supports further recognition of the territorial dimension, which could be beneficial for the European Semester; considers it necessary, accordingly, to take a balanced approach to economic governance and economic, social and territorial cohesion objectives as laid down by the Treaties and to sustainable growth, employment and environmental protection;

31.  Recalls the need for all political actors to recognise the role played by cohesion policy as the main European economic policy instrument to promote public and private investments which take into account regions’ specific economic, social and territorial characteristics;

32.  Calls on the Member States, as proposed in the Commission’s report, to adopt national and regional development strategies and programmes aimed at supporting lagging regions and improving their administrative capacities, governance and other key growth factors; calls on the Commission, in this regard, to provide technical, professional and practical assistance to Member States, regions and municipalities in order to use best practices and support the digitalisation of public services;

33.  Calls for cohesion policy to continue to be a priority for the Union and to be backed by ambitious funding accordingly, even in the light of pressures on the EU budget, and for the synergies with other EU funds to be increased and complementary financial support via financial instruments in the post-2020 multiannual programming framework to be attracted; stresses that values such as European solidarity, which cohesion policy embodies, should not be undermined;

34.  Recalls Parliament’s responsibility in designing and approving the appropriate legislative framework for the future cohesion policy; highlights the need to preserve the basic role and goal of cohesion policy in line with Article 174 TFEU, in order not only to achieve convergence, but also to prevent territories from falling behind; points out the need to streamline rules, and to ensure a proper balance between the simplification of the policy and adequate controls, while reducing excessive administrative burdens; is of the opinion that the Commission and the Member States should consider an extension of the provisions of Article 7 of Regulation (EU) No 1301/2013 on the ERDF, by financing the links of cities with their surrounding areas in the lagging regions;

35.  Calls on the Commission to better support the development of innovation systems, such as innovation strategies for smart specialisation, and to strengthen the interaction between businesses, universities and research centres in lagging regions; stresses, furthermore, that well-connected territories are essential for the work of research partnerships, including European Innovation Partnership initiatives, so that innovative practices can further enhance the sustainable development of agriculture and associated businesses in lagging regions;

36.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Committee of the Regions, the European Economic and Social Committee, and the governments and national and regional parliaments of the Member States.

(1) OJ L 347, 20.12.2013, p. 320.
(2) OJ L 347, 20.12.2013, p. 259.
(3) OJ C 181, 19.5.2016, p. 29.
(4) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0309.
(5) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0053.
(6) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0245.
(7) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0254.
(8) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0401.
(9) Commission communication of 24 October 2017 (COM(2017)0623).


The role of EU regions and cities in implementing the COP 21 Paris Agreement on climate change
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European Parliament resolution of 13 March 2018 on the role of EU regions and cities in implementing the COP 21 Paris Agreement on climate change (2017/2006(INI))
P8_TA(2018)0068A8-0045/2018

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Kyoto Protocol thereto,

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

–  having regard to Articles 7(2) and 11(2) of the Paris Agreement which recognise the local, subnational and regional dimensions of climate change and climate action,

–  having regard to its position of 4 October 2016 on the draft Council decision on the conclusion, on behalf of the European Union, of the Paris Agreement adopted under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change(1),

–  having regard to its resolution of 6 October 2016 on the implementation of the Paris Agreement and the 2016 UN Climate Change Conference in Marrakesh, Morocco (COP 22)(2),

–  having regard to its resolution of 4 October 2017 on the 2017 UN Climate Change Conference in Bonn, Germany (COP 23)(3),

–  having regard to the new UN Sustainable Development Goals, and in particular goal 11: to ‘make cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable’,

–  having regard to the provisions of the Pact of Amsterdam establishing the Urban Agenda for the EU,

–  having regard to its resolution of 9 September 2015 on the urban dimension of EU policies(4),

–  having regard to the European Environment Agency (EEA) reports No 12/2016 ‘Urban adaptation to climate change in Europe 2016’ and No 1/2017 ‘Climate change, impacts and vulnerability in Europe 2016’,

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 2 March 2016 entitled ‘The road from Paris: assessing the implications of the Paris Agreement’ (COM(2016)0110),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 16 April 2013 on ‘An EU Strategy on adaptation to climate change’ (COM(2013)0216),

–  having regard to the European Committee of the Regions opinion of 8 February 2017 entitled ‘Towards a new EU climate change adaptation strategy – taking an integrated approach’(5),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 18 July 2014 on ‘The urban dimension of EU policies – key features of an EU urban agenda’ (COM(2014)0490),

–  having regard to Article 8 of the Common Provisions Regulation (CPR) (Regulation (EU) No 1303/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 December 2013(6)), which provides that ‘the objectives of the ESI Funds shall be pursued in line with the principle of sustainable development’,

–  having regard to the Partnership Agreements and programmes under the CPR, which, pursuant to Article 8 CPR, shall promote ‘resource efficiency, climate change mitigation and adaptation’,

–  having regard to the specific thematic objectives supported by each ESI Fund, including technological development and innovation, the shift towards a low-carbon economy, climate change adaptation and the promotion of resource efficiency,

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 3 March 2010 entitled ‘Europe 2020 – A strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth’ (COM(2010)2020),

–  having regard to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Fifth Assessment Report,

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Regional Development and the opinion of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (A8-0045/2018),

A.  whereas the increase in extreme weather events is a direct consequence of human-induced climate change and will continue to have a negative impact on many parts of Europe with greater frequency, making its inhabited ecosystems more vulnerable; whereas, according to scenarios of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the earth’s temperature could rise by between 0,9 and 5,8 ºC by 2100;

B.  whereas the 7th Environment Action Programme (EAP), which will guide European environment policy until 2020, identifies the improvement of the sustainability the Union’s cities as a priority objective, along with the three key horizontal objectives of protecting, conserving and enhancing the Union’s natural capital, of turning the Union into a resource-efficient, green, and competitive low-carbon economy and of safeguarding the Union’s citizens from environment-related pressures and risks to their health and wellbeing;

C.  whereas climate change could exacerbate societal changes if no further steps are taken; whereas account should be taken of the important migration flows that are predicted as a result of these global climate changes and are implied by the consequences of population movements that will place new demands on the infrastructure of cities;

D.  whereas, according to the key findings of EEA report No 12/2016, the reality of climate change is already being felt in the EU in the form of extreme weather phenomena and gradual long-term effects such as hurricanes, storms, desertification, droughts, land and shores’ corrosion, heavy rains, heat waves, floods, the rise in sea levels, water shortages, forest fires and the spread of tropical diseases;

E.  whereas, as a result of climate change, there is an increased risk of the disappearance of some plant and animal species and the incidence of infectious diseases caused by climatic factors; whereas areas, such as the outermost regions and other regions of the EU that may suffer from topographic vulnerability, experience the effects of climate change even more keenly;

F.  whereas, moreover, recent studies show that various observed changes in the environment and society, such as changes in forest species, the establishment of invasive alien species and outbreaks of disease, have been caused or exacerbated by global climate change, making people, nature and the ecosystems they inhabit more vulnerable unless concrete measures are taken; whereas integrated EU support to improve solidarity and the exchange of best practices among Member States would help to ensure that the regions most affected by climate change are capable of taking the necessary measures to adapt;

G.  whereas climate change is affecting the social disparities that have already been widening in the EU over the past decade, increasing the vulnerability of the weakest populations of society who are less able and have fewer resources to cope with its effects; whereas the vulnerability of individuals to the effects of climate change is to a large extent determined by their ability to access basic resources and whereas public authorities ought to guarantee access to those basic resources;

H.  whereas almost 72,5 % of the EU’s population, approximately 359 million people, live in cities; whereas, moreover, the EU is responsible for 9 % of global emissions and urban areas account for 60 to 80 % of global energy consumption and around the same share of CO2 emissions;

I.  whereas the urban infrastructure choices made will have an impact on cities’ capacity to withstand climate change; whereas cities, companies and other non-state actors have mitigation potential in the range of 2,5-4 billion tonnes of CO2 by 2020; whereas regions and cities are capable of reducing global emissions by 5 % to meet the Paris Agreement targets and whereas they have the potential to reduce global emissions significantly;

J.  whereas Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 11 (‘Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable’) aims to substantially increase, by 2020, the number of cities and human settlements adopting and implementing integrated policies and plans towards inclusion, resource efficiency, mitigation and adaptation to climate change and resilience to disasters, and to develop and implement, in line with the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030, holistic disaster risk management at all levels;

K.  whereas municipal authorities are among the main beneficiaries of European funding;

L.  whereas Article 7(2) of the Paris Agreement recognises that ‘adaptation is a global challenge faced by all with local, subnational, national, regional and international dimensions’; whereas action by local authorities and non-state actors is key to enabling governments to implement their commitments within the framework of global climate action;

M.  whereas the EU strategy on adaptation to climate change (COM(2013)0216) as well as the respective EU regulations on the European Structural and Investment (ESI) Funds identify main objectives and associated policy actions, notably through the introduction of mechanisms such as ex-ante conditionalities and climate-relevant thematic objectives in the 2014-2020 Cohesion Policy Framework, such as thematic objectives (TO) 4: ‘Supporting the shift towards a low-carbon economy in all sectors’; TO5: ‘Promoting climate change adaptation, risk prevention and management’ and TO6: ‘Preserving and protecting the environment and promoting resource efficiency’, which have led to more and better‑focused climate action funding under at least some of the ESI Funds;

N.  whereas regions and cities have demonstrated their commitment to the UNFCCC process through their involvement in the Lima-Paris Action Agenda (LPAA) and Non-State Actor Zone for Climate Action (NAZCA) initiatives;

General context

1.  Welcomes the role played by the EU in the Paris/COP 21 Agreement and its role as world leader in the fight against climate change; points out that Europe has one of the most ambitious climate change goals in the world; urges that climate change mitigation be considered an important priority in EU cohesion policies in order to meet and maintain the Paris Agreement/COP 21 commitments by promoting clean energy innovation, the circular economy, renewable energy and energy efficiency, without prejudice to the necessary adaptation measures, while maintaining the basic role and objectives of cohesion policy in line with the Article 174 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU);

2.  Approves the approach to tackling climate change put forward in the Sustainable Development Goals (United Nations) and the Pact of Amsterdam (Urban Agenda for the EU); stresses that Europe must become a true world leader in renewable energy as proposed by the Commission and recalls that the EU’s urban agenda contributes to the implementation of the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development through the objective of inclusive, safe and sustainable cities; takes into account, in this context, the variety of differences among European local authorities and their varying potential; calls for a flexible, tailor-made approach in the implementation of Urban Agenda, providing incentives and guidance to fully exploit the potential of cities;

3.  Recalls that its resolution of 14 October 2015 on Towards a new international climate agreement in Paris(7) calls on the Member States to consider complementary greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction commitments; underlines the need for a maximum of transparency and scrutiny of the COP 21 process;

4.  Invites the Commission and the Member States to implement ambitious targets for mitigation and adaptation in line with existing EU legislation on climate action, and following the request made by the Committee of the Regions in its opinion of 9 February 2017 on Towards a new EU climate change adaptation strategy ­taking an integrated approach;

5.  Deplores irresponsible strategies that put the environment at risk, such as certain economic activities and specific industrial sectors that generate high levels of pollution, and stresses the responsibility of all sections of society for contributing to measures that are vital to reversing a trend that threatens life on the planet; stresses the fact that there is a lack of information on the measures taken by some industrial sectors to combat the effects of pollution and on finding less polluting solutions; regrets, however, that certain opinion leaders in the fields of science, the media and politics, continue to deny the evidence of climate change;

6.  Regrets the stated intention of the US to withdraw from the Paris Agreements and welcomes the large number of non-federal actors, in particular US states and cities, who have reaffirmed their commitment to meet the targets set by the Paris Agreement; encourages the local and regional authorities in the United States that wish to be involved in fighting climate change to cooperate and partner with other public and private partners in their projects and to exchange good practices in this regard; calls for new governance that could secure funds for climate action and for better integration of regions and cities and their representative bodies;

7.  Emphasises that cities need to play a decisive role in tackling climate change, in coordinated interdependence with national authorities and their surrounding regions; encourages further engagement between subnational leaders and national governments at international level through platforms such as Friends of Cities; believes that in the specific case of integrated sustainable urban development, local authorities should be empowered not only to select projects, but also to prepare, design and implement local development schemes; underlines the possible positive aspects for growth and green jobs;

8.  Notes that local authorities are responsible for implementing the majority of the mitigation and adaptation measures for climate change and most of the EU legislation on the subject; stresses the need to act on urban planning, mobility, public transport and infrastructure, the energy performance of buildings, education campaigns, smart cities, smart grids and regional subsidies in order to implement the Paris Agreement;

9.  Notes that city mayors are directly accountable to their constituents for their decisions, and can act more effectively and quickly and often with immediate results which have a major impact;

10.  Calls for national governments to help cities and regions to fulfil international commitments to support climate and energy initiatives at local and regional level;

11.  Points out that climate change interacts with social and economic factors and that this requires an overarching vision, which will be effective on a local and regional scale;

12.  Warns of the societal costs and of the economic impact caused by GHG emissions that are currently affecting urban infrastructure, public health and social care systems which are – at certain times and in certain cities and regions – overburdened and which face a precarious economic situation; notes that these systems will thus be placed under additional strain and will be required to meet growing and more complex needs; welcomes the potential economic benefits for cities that invest and lead the way in low-carbon infrastructure, including reduced power costs, decreased maintenance costs and reduced spending on public health, which is improved by reductions in pollutants;

13.  Recognises that mitigation and adaptation are long-term processes that transcend both election cycles and decisions taken at local and regional level, and calls for mitigation and adaptation to be seen as a source of opportunities in the face of other challenges such as employment and action to improve health, the quality of life and public services; notes that the Paris Agreement envisages the active engagement of Non-Party Stakeholders through the technical examination processes on mitigation and adaptation;

14.  Recognises the vital role of regions, cities and towns in promoting ownership of the energy transition and in pushing for climate and energy-related targets from below; notes that regions and urban areas are the most suitable for testing and implementing integrated energy solutions in direct cooperation with citizens; stresses the need to stimulate the energy transition and local investment in climate mitigation and adaptation measures; highlights that clean energy innovations and small-scale renewable energy projects could play a major role in achieving the targets of the Paris Agreement; urges the Commission and the Member States to embark on providing access to financial measures that take account of the specific features and of the long-term value of local energy communities for the energy market, the environment and society, and to promote the role of single prosumers in connection with renewables, with a view to greater self-sufficiency and self-generation; calls on cities and regions to take the lead in the promotion of energy efficiency and renewable energy production in order to reduce GHG emissions and air pollution;

15.  Reiterates the need for regions to implement Directive 2010/31/EU on the energy performance of buildings and Directive 2012/27/EU on energy efficiency, and calls for the Structural Funds to be focused or boosted in order to promote energy efficiency in public buildings and self-sufficiency in municipalities through regenerative energy; and calls for cooperative Citizens’ Energy Projects to be supported under the Structural Funds and through a reduction of the administrative burdens at national and regional level;

16.  Notes that, according to the most recent statistics, the EU’s share in the global GHG emissions is approximately 10 %, and that, therefore, without global action the negative climate trends cannot be reversed; points out, however, that the EU could play a leading role in this respect, particularly by promoting clean energy solutions and technologies;

17.  Recalls that the EU Urban Agenda is promoting a new working method whereby the potential of cities is fully used in order to respond to global climate change challenges, and which involves paying particular attention to better regulation, access to finance and the exchange of knowledge;

The EU and cohesion policy

18.  Takes the view that the future multiannual financial framework (MFF) should, where appropriate, increase its level of ambition in relation to achieving climate goals, and that there should be an increase in the proportion of spending earmarked for this purpose;

19.  Recalls the commitment to devote at least 20 % of the EU budget for the period 2014-2020 (approximately EUR 212 billion) to climate-related action; asks the Commission and the Member States to take due note of the European Court of Auditors’ Special Report No 31 from 2016, which warns that there is a serious risk that the 20 % target will not be met if no additional measures are taken, and calls for the Commission to keep Parliament updated on progress in this important area; stresses that in the European Social Fund, as well as in the agricultural, rural development or fisheries policies, there has been no significant shift towards climate action and not all potential opportunities for financing climate-related action have been fully explored;

20.  Emphasises the key role that cohesion policy has to play in tackling the challenges of climate change at regional and local level; reiterates the need to increase the post-2020 cohesion policy budget; stresses that cohesion policy should pay particular attention to urban investment in air quality, the circular economy, climate adaptation, solutions for the development of green infrastructure and energy and digital transition;

21.  Supports the creation of a cost-benefit tool to enable local government to understand the impacts of projects in terms of carbon reduction and to enable them to take full advantage of financing opportunities available at EU level;

22.  Believes that cohesion policy should encompass both the mitigation and adaptation approaches, differentiating between them, but bearing in mind that they need to be coordinated, and putting in place clear financing mechanisms to stimulate and provide incentives for policies and measures in each area; takes the view that these mechanisms could be implemented through clear and measurable investment plans with the participation of cities and regions (including public authorities, industry, stakeholders and civil society), and that this participation should also cover the implementation and evaluation stages;

23.  Notes that only fifteen Member States have adopted an action plan and an adaptation strategy, with few concrete measures on the ground; believes that the future planning of ESI Funds should be better integrated with the national energy and climate plans for 2030; emphasises that, in the future Multiannual Financial Framework, the mainstreaming of climate objectives should be further improved, for instance by linking cohesion policy investment more closely to Member States’ overall plans to deliver the 2030 target; points out that the EU’s climate goals will have to be taken into account, therefore, in assessing the Partnership Agreements, while operational programmes will have to maintain a close link to each Member State’s adaptation strategies and plans with a view to achieving coordination and coherence at all levels of planning and management, particularly in cases where EU funds account for a high percentage of the public spending available; observes that, as a result, the assessment of operational programmes will have to consider how effective they have been in contributing to cutting GHG emissions, while aiming at a common tracking methodology and monitoring process in order to avoid green-washing;

24.  Urges that cohesion policy investments should be consistent with an effective climate policy to guarantee environmental sustainability;

25.  Emphasises that innovation policy and the urban dimension are suitable fields for synergies between climate goals and cohesion policy’s broader economic goals; calls, therefore, for specific provisions to be developed for sustainable urban development and urban innovation, so that these fields enjoy noticeably better financial health in post-2020 cohesion policy;

26.  Calls on the various partnerships working on issues related to climate mitigation in the framework of the Urban Agenda for the EU to swiftly adopt and present their action plans; calls, furthermore, on the Commission to take into account the proposals contained therein, specifically with reference to better regulation, funding and knowledge in the future legislative proposals;

27.  Stresses that, in order to deliver the longer‑term objectives of the Paris Agreement, greater coherence is needed in relation to investments with a long-term decarbonisation trajectory for the regional/Member State/EU market as a whole, and calls for measures to facilitate access to funding that will allow smaller cities and regions to access funding; stresses, furthermore, that priority funding should be made available for carbon-dependent regions so as to allow a smooth transition towards a low‑emissions economy, and that priority should be given to transition to alternative employment for workers in carbon-intensive industries; calls on the Commission to propose that, in the post-2020 cohesion policy framework, the delivery of emission reductions (along with other actions such as reclamation works or activities aimed at regenerating and decontaminating brownfield sites) should be an important element in assessing the performance of Operational Programmes;

28.  Stresses the importance of using additional financial instruments and policies, such as the European Fund for Strategic Investments, the Connecting Europe Facility and Horizon 2020, in order to finance projects that will help mitigate or adapt to climate change;

29.  Insists that grants to cities and regions continue to be the main form of EU funding under cohesion policy, and of climate actions in particular; stresses, however, that, in spite of the improved coherence and precision of climate‑relevant impact and result indicators, the latter are not sufficient to establish the level of the cohesion policy’s contribution to delivering the EU’s overall climate objectives and considers that the monitoring and tracking system for climate-related expenditure needs improvement in order to ensure that EU expenditure provides a specific, measurable contribution towards the delivery of the EU targets; calls for an adaptation roadmap to monitor regional and local climate action, and calls on the Commission to assess the percentage of funds that Member States spend at local level on reducing GHG emissions and on ensuring spatial adaptation to climate change;

30.  Recognises the role of Integrated Territorial Development Instruments, such as Integrated Territorial Investment and Community-Led Local Developments (CLLDs), that can be used by cities as additional tools in financing sustainable urban development strategies or functional areas; calls for integrated local bottom-up approaches and strategies to ensure more efficient use of resources, to build resilience and adapt to the impact of climate change in the areas most affected by it;

31.  Recognises that EU cities contain the vast majority of Europe’s research and development industry focused on climate change; calls on the Commission to provide increased support for cities and regions in the fields of training and awareness-raising, financial guidance, know-how, communication, research and development, education in climate protection and advice both on mitigation and adaptation, notably by strengthening existing instruments such as the urban investment advisory platform URBIS, URBACT and the Urban Innovative Actions (UIA) Initiative; calls on the Commission to ensure that these industries take full advantage of global research cooperation and to reinforce these instruments to help local governments deliver fit-for‑purpose projects, as well as to access financing options in order to test innovative solutions in urban development strategies; calls for non-EU subnational authorities to be able to voluntarily participate in European science, research and technology initiatives, such as H2020, both formally and informally, in order to meet collective targets; believes that financial facilities such as the global climate funds should be directly accessible to local authorities; believes that synergies between cohesion policy and research and innovation policies should be strengthened to ensure the rapid deployment of new low-carbon technologies;

32.  Calls on the Commission to ensure that the Horizon 2020 Programme devotes greater attention and funding to innovation and research projects in the area of the circular economy and sustainable cities; encourages Member States, with the support of the Commission and the European Investment Bank (EIB), to strengthen the administrative capacity of regions and cities in order to enable them to take full advantage of the public and private financing opportunities available at EU level;

33.  Calls on the competent authorities to tackle the problem of waste with a view to bringing the circular economy to fruition and promoting modes of disposal other than the incineration for waste that is not reusable or recyclable;

34.  Believes that, in the forthcoming programming period, climate change will need to be mainstreamed into territorial cooperation programming; highlights the important role played by territorial cooperation, cross-border cooperation and macro-regional strategies in the actions carried out by regions and cities, both within and outside of the EU’s borders, and reiterates the need to strengthen this tool politically and financially, both for mitigation and adaptation; underlines that a framework for the implementation of joint actions and policy exchanges between national, regional and local actors from different Member States, such as Interreg, is particularly appropriate for tackling climate change and carrying out suitable actions aimed at mitigating its effects; welcomes, in this regard, the fact that seven of the 15 transnational Interreg programmes across Europe finance strategies, pilot actions, training and tools, to help towns build up capacities to lower CO2 emissions and mitigate climate change in order to reach EU targets;

Cities and regions

35.  Welcomes initiatives such as the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy and the role a number of cities and regions have played in the fight against climate change and in environmental protection; urges cities and regions to cooperate and incorporate the fight against climate change into the institutional agenda to an even greater extent and as a matter of urgency; recommends that urban authorities implement and regularly update smart urban long-term planning strategies and innovative approaches such as the smart city initiative; stresses the need for sustainable and energy efficient housing projects and smart buildings that will save energy, renewable energy investments, environmentally friendly public transport systems, further support for projects promoting low‑carbon cities and regions and for alliances of cities and local and regional governments cooperating to combat global warming;

36.  Notes the importance of implementing a reporting framework based on objective parameters and tried-and-tested methodologies, and of monitoring climate actions undertaken by cities and regions in order to share data on climate commitments and to increase transparency among actors to achieve climate targets;

37.  Recalls that the transport sector is also responsible for emissions of both GHGs and air pollutants that are hazardous to health, the concentration of which in urban air is regulated by Directive (EU) 2016/2284 on the reduction of national emissions of certain atmospheric pollutants; takes the view that regions and cities have enormous potential to reduce GHG emissions from transport, and highlights the need for funding for initiatives that facilitate local and regional low-carbon mobility; stresses the importance of cities taking a leading role in promoting the use of public transport and in promoting the electrification of public and private transport, and calls for a number of model regions to be promoted for the purpose of research into intelligent, interconnected transport systems between urban and rural areas;

38.  Welcomes initiatives by cities, such as smart cities and smart grids, that seek to reduce GHG emissions and increase resource efficiency; stresses that regions have to improve green city arrangements by promoting energy and digital transformation and that solutions such as smart grids offer the potential to deliver energy more efficiently to homes and buildings; recognises that collaboration between businesses and cities helps to create innovative and inclusive solutions and calls for them to be promoted; stresses the need to step up investments in other sustainable solutions such as green infrastructure and, in particular, in increasing woody vegetation cover in cities; recalls that not only must emissions be reduced, but the CO2 absorption capacity of soil must also be increased, and calls for increased protection for existing and newly established urban forests in the EU regions;

39.  Underlines that locally produced seasonal food can reduce the GHG emissions from transport and thus reduce the overall carbon footprint of the food; calls on the Commission to work with the food sector in order to increase local and regional sustainable food production, and welcomes voluntary measures (such as traffic light labelling) to ensure the visibility of the climate impact and carbon footprint of food and other products; calls for EU-wide common indicators to enable voluntary but comparable labelling and calls on local authorities to conduct information campaigns, to raise awareness about the carbon footprint of food;

40.  Points out that mitigation measures must be planned on the basis of a fair distribution of the efforts and benefits among the various actors, and that adaptation measures must focus on protecting the most vulnerable sections of the population as a whole;

41.  Recognises the diversity and specific nature of regional vulnerabilities and potential, and points out that challenges, resources and the most effective measures may vary in each territory; reiterates, therefore, its commitment to the principle of subsidiarity and stresses that cities and regions must have the necessary competence and sufficient political, administrative and financial autonomy to plan and implement individual actions; stresses the need for cities to tailor their own urban planning by investing in green infrastructure, mobility, public transport and smart grids to meet the targets set out in the Paris Agreement; reiterates that local and regional authorities (LRAs), as the tiers of governance closest to each citizen and also closest to the impacts of climate change-related challenges, have the most comprehensive insight into many problems and therefore underlines the importance of providing LRAs with the administrative capacity and financial tools to develop tailor-made solutions for mitigating climate change;

42.  Calls for more effective multilevel governance with full transparency that could better involve local government, regions and cities and their representative bodies in the EU’s decision making process and within the UNFCCC process; calls for coordination among all public authorities to be promoted and guaranteed, and for the involvement of the public, and of social and economic stakeholders, to be fostered, and calls on the Commission to promote the coordination and exchange of information and best practices between Member States, regions, local communities and cities; points out that participatory models of local governance should be encouraged;

43.  Welcomes the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s decision to draft a special report on cities and climate in 2023, a commitment which will drive an increase in research into the importance of cities in combating climate change; believes that cities should provide input into the 2018 Global Climate Report; believes, furthermore, that cities and regions can influence policy making following the Paris Agreement, implementing a strategic approach to tackle global warming and support mitigation and adaptation measures in urban areas, where more than half of the world’s population lives; calls on the Commission to advocate a multilevel vision of climate action in this process in order to promote an inclusive climate regime which recognises the actions taken by local and subnational authorities;

44.  Calls on national authorities to bring about decentralisation and give better effect to the subsidiarity principle, thereby enabling local and regional authorities to play a stronger role in tackling climate change;

45.  Notes that many elements of industry are investing in green transformation and have committed to a decarbonisation policy; recognises that collaboration between businesses and cities creates innovative and inclusive solutions for climate action and helps the EU reach its targets; recalls that industry plays a key role in financing and closing the investment gap in urban areas; calls for the promotion of city-business partnerships;

46.  Highlights that smart planning and investments in low-carbon, climate-resilient urban infrastructure can improve the environment and citizens’ quality of life, create jobs, and stimulate the local and regional economy;

47.  Calls on cities and regions to take advantage of EU initiatives, such as the Urban Innovative Actions, to deploy pilot projects in the field of sustainable urban development;

48.  Welcomes the ‘Women4Climate’ initiative and the private sector’s involvement in this initiative, which should contribute to greater involvement of leading women in the fight against climate change in order to strengthen their leadership skills and to encourage the next generation of leading women to participate in the fight against climate change;

49.  Recognises the special responsibility on the part of cities to tackle climate change given that they account for 70 % of global CO2 emissions, and reiterates Parliament’s commitment to achieving the successful global roll‑out of the Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy, including the Initiative on Climate Change Adaptation (‘Mayors Adapt initiative’), the Under 2 Degrees Memorandum of Understanding, the Pact of Amsterdam and the Regions Adapt initiative; believes that the commitments made in the Paris City Hall Declaration in 2015 will only be met through engagement with the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy, and encourages all EU and non‑EU cities to join the Covenant of Mayors and ­without prejudice to their participation in other sectoral or institutional networks with the same objectives­ to commit to ambitious climate action and to organise exchanges of experiences of good practices; notes that a number of Action Plans submitted by cities contain commitments through to 2020 and therefore urges that additional work be undertaken by these cities up to 2030; believes that the EU should continue to give cities autonomy to plan their climate mitigation strategies as they often result in more ambitious targets;

50.  Stresses the need for a clear reference to the role of local and regional governments in the Paris Agreement in order to ensure a long-term response to climate change; underlines that the EU has to work on the ground with cities and regions to make EU regions and cities better connected and more sustainable, create energy-efficient municipalities and develop smarter urban transport networks;

51.  Believes that the transfer of knowledge and experience should be encouraged at local and regional level, given the wealth of experience acquired by individual regions and cities, as well as by certain regional environmental protection or energy agencies;

52.  Believes that European and international or worldwide organisations and associations or networks of cities, municipalities, and regions should be put to use in order to make for better cooperation when dealing with climate change problems at local and regional level;

53.  Notes that during COP 22 in Marrakesh, local and regional authorities developed the Marrakesh Roadmap for Action which highlights the need for the more direct involvement of local authorities and which should be formally recognised as part of the official discussion on climate change, rather than considered as having the same status as other non-state actors, such as NGOs and the private sector;

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54.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council and the Commission, the European Committee of the Regions, the European Economic and Social Committee, the Member States and the national and regional parliaments of the Member States.

(1) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0363.
(2) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0383.
(3) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0380.
(4) OJ C 316, 22.9.2017, p. 124.
(5) OJ C 207, 30.6.2017, p. 51.
(6) OJ L 347, 20.12.2013, p. 320.
(7) OJ C 349, 17.10.2017, p. 67.

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