Index 
Texts adopted
Wednesday, 14 March 2018 - StrasbourgFinal edition
Guidelines on the framework of future EU-UK relations
 Rail transport statistics ***I
 Appointment of the Vice-President of the European Central Bank
 Measures for the control of Newcastle disease ***I
 Further macro-financial assistance to Georgia ***I
 Mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund: application EGF/2017/008 DE/Goodyear
 The next MFF: Preparing the Parliament’s position on the MFF post-2020
 Reform of the European Union’s system of own resources
 European Semester for economic policy coordination: Annual Growth Survey 2018
 European Semester for economic policy coordination: employment and social aspects in the Annual Growth Survey 2018

Guidelines on the framework of future EU-UK relations
PDF 290kWORD 60k
European Parliament resolution of 14 March 2018 on the framework of the future EU-UK relationship (2018/2573(RSP))
P8_TA(2018)0069B8-0135/2018

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Treaty on European Union (TEU) and the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU),

–  having regard to the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union of 7 December 2000 (‘the Charter’), which was proclaimed on 12 December 2007 in Strasbourg and entered into force with the Treaty of Lisbon in December 2009,

–  having regard to its resolution of 5 April 2017 on negotiations with the United Kingdom following its notification that it intends to withdraw from the European Union(1) and its resolutions of 3 October 2017(2) and of 13 December 2017(3) on the state of play of negotiations with the United Kingdom,

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

–  having regard to the Joint Report from the negotiators of the European Union and the United Kingdom Government of 8 December 2017 on progress during phase 1 of negotiations under Article 50 TEU on the United Kingdom’s orderly withdrawal from the European Union, and to the European Commission draft Withdrawal Agreement of 28 February 2018,

–  having regard to the European Council (Art. 50) Guidelines of 15 December 2017 and to the Annex to the Council Decision of 29 January 2018 supplementing the Council Decision of 22 May 2017 authorising the opening of negotiations with the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland for an agreement setting out arrangements for its withdrawal from the European Union,

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

A.  whereas the purpose of negotiations between the European Union (EU) and the United Kingdom (UK) pursuant to Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU) is to provide for an orderly withdrawal of the UK from the EU;

B.  whereas Article 50 TEU states that the arrangements for the UK’s withdrawal should take account of the framework for its future relationship with the Union;

C.  whereas, with sufficient progress having been achieved in December 2017 in the negotiations on separation issues, it is appropriate that negotiations can now deal with the framework of the future EU-UK relationship, provided that there is commensurate progress in the negotiations on the Commission’s draft Withdrawal Agreement;

D.  whereas those negotiations can only begin once the EU’s Chief Negotiator has been given a mandate to start them by the EU institutions;

E.  whereas any agreement on a framework for a future relationship will be treated as integral to the overall withdrawal settlement and will inform the European Parliament’s deliberations during its consent procedure;

F.  whereas it is in the interests of all parties that the framework for the future relationship be as detailed as possible;

G.  whereas the United Kingdom will become a third country after withdrawal whatever framework is agreed for its future relationship with the EU;

H.  whereas, in addition to the elements included in the UK’s notification of 29 March 2017 that it intends to withdraw from the European Union, the UK Prime Minister has delivered a number of speeches – at Lancaster House on 17 January 2017, in Florence on 22 September 2017, in Munich on 17 February 2018 and, most recently, at Mansion House on 2 March 2018; whereas she has not yet set out a consistent view on future EU-UK relations;

I.  whereas the UK and the EU will remain close neighbours and will continue to have many interests in common; whereas such a close relationship in the form of an association agreement between the EU and the UK could be considered an appropriate framework for the future relationship by which these common interests can be protected and promoted, including a new trade relationship;

J.  whereas the advantage of an association agreement for the future relationship is that it provides a flexible framework allowing for varying degrees of cooperation across a wide variety of policy areas; whereas that cooperation will require both parties to maintain high standards and their international commitments in a number of policy areas;

K.  whereas it is crucial to safeguard EU agreements with third countries and international organisations, including the Agreement on the European Economic Area (EEA Agreement);

L.  whereas the EU and the UK, as a departing Member State, have an overriding obligation to ensure a comprehensive and reciprocal approach to protecting the rights of EU citizens living in the UK and of UK citizens living in the EU-27;

M.  whereas, with a view to preserving the 1998 Good Friday Agreement in all its parts and the rights of the people of Northern Ireland, the UK must abide by its commitments to ensure that there is no hardening of the border on the island of Ireland, either by means of detailed proposals to be put forward in negotiations on the framework of the future EU-UK relationship, in the form of specific solutions for Northern Ireland, or through continued regulatory alignment with the EU acquis;

N.  whereas transitional arrangements involving the prolongation of the full EU acquis will be necessary to avoid a cliff-edge scenario when the UK leaves the EU, and to give the EU and UK negotiators the possibility to negotiate a future relationship agreement;

O.  whereas it is appropriate that the EU institutions and the Member States, together with public and private institutions, undertake work to prepare for all eventualities that may arise as a result of the negotiations;

P.  whereas the unity of the EU institutions and Member States is crucial in order to defend the interests of the Union and its citizens throughout the subsequent phases of negotiations, in particular as regards the framework for the future relationship, but also to ensure the successful and timely conclusion of those negotiations;

1.  Recalls that Article 50(2) TEU states that the agreement setting out the arrangements for a Member State’s withdrawal shall take account of the framework of its future relationship with the EU;

2.  Notes that such a framework for the future relationship should take the form of a political declaration associated with the Withdrawal Agreement; stresses that the contents of the declaration will be assessed by the European Parliament when it is asked to give its consent to the Withdrawal Agreement;

3.  Reiterates that an international agreement on the new relationship between the EU and the UK can only be formally negotiated once the UK has left the EU and is a third country; recalls that this agreement can only be concluded with the full involvement and final consent of the European Parliament;

4.  Recalls that the European Parliament will endorse a framework for the future EU-UK relationship only if this framework is in strict concordance with the following principles:

   a third country must not have the same rights and benefits as a Member State of the European Union, or a member of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) or EEA,
   protection of the integrity and correct functioning of the internal market, the customs union and the four freedoms, without allowing for a sector-by-sector approach,
   preservation of the autonomy of the EU’s decision-making,
   safeguarding of the EU legal order and the role of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) in this respect,
   continued adherence to democratic principles, human rights and fundamental freedoms, as defined in particular in the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and its Protocols, the European Social Charter, the Rome Statute on the International Criminal Court and other international human rights treaties of the United Nations and the Council of Europe, as well as respect for the principle of the rule of law,
   a level playing field, in particular in relation to the United Kingdom’s continued adherence to the standards laid down by international obligations and the Union’s legislation and policies in the fields of fair and rules-based competition, including state aid, social and workers’ rights, and especially equivalent levels of social protection and safeguards against social dumping, the environment, climate change, consumer protection, public health, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, animal health and welfare, taxation, including the fight against tax evasion and avoidance, money laundering, and data protection and privacy, together with a clear enforcement mechanism to ensure compliance,
   safeguarding of EU agreements with third countries and international organisations, including the EEA Agreement, and maintaining the overall balance of these relationships,
   safeguarding of the financial stability of the EU and compliance with its regulatory and supervisory regime and standards and their application,
   a right balance of rights and obligations, including, where appropriate, commensurate financial contributions;

5.  Reiterates that an association agreement negotiated and agreed between the EU and the UK following the latter’s withdrawal pursuant to Article 8 TEU and Article 217 TFEU could provide an appropriate framework for the future relationship, and secure a consistent governance framework, which should include a robust dispute resolution mechanism, thus avoiding a proliferation of bilateral agreements and the shortcomings which characterise the EU’s relationship with Switzerland;

6.  Proposes that this future relationship be based on the following four pillars:

   trade and economic relations,
   foreign policy, security cooperation and development cooperation,
   internal security,
   thematic cooperation;

Framework for the future relationship

7.  Notes that, given the shared basis of common values held by the EU and the UK, their close links and current regulatory alignment in virtually all fields, their geographic proximity and common history, including the UK’s membership of the EU for more than 40 years, and also the UK’s role as a permanent member of the UN Security Council and member of NATO, the UK will continue to be an important partner for the EU in all four of the aforementioned pillars and it is in the mutual interest of both parties to establish a partnership that ensures continued cooperation;

8.  Notes, nevertheless, that such cooperation with the UK as a third country can only take place in accordance with the principles outlined in paragraph 4 of this resolution; recalls that the EU has binding common rules, common institutions and common supervisory, enforcement and adjudicatory mechanisms and that third countries, even those with identical legislation or full regulatory alignment, are not able to enjoy the same benefits or market access as EU Member States, for instance in relation to the four freedoms and financial contributions from the EU budget;

9.  Considers that the agreement on the future relationship should include specific provisions concerning the movement of citizens from the EU to the UK and from the UK to the EU after the transition period, which should be at least commensurate with the degree of cooperation in the four pillars below;

10.  Recalls that the European Parliament will have to approve any future EU-UK agreement; emphasises that it must be immediately and fully informed at all stages of the procedure in accordance with Articles 207, 217 and 218 TFEU and with relevant case-law;

   (i) Trade and economic relations

11.  Reiterates that the UK’s membership of the internal market and the customs union would be the best solution for both the UK and the EU-27 and the only one which can guarantee continued frictionless trade and fully preserve the benefits of our economic relations; recalls that internal market participation requires full adherence to the four freedoms and incorporation of corresponding EU rules, a level playing field, including through a competition and state aid regime, binding CJEU jurisprudence and contributions to the EU budget; notes that a customs union removes tariff barriers and some customs controls, but requires compliance with EU trade policy and a common external border; takes note that the UK Government continues to rule out both the internal market and the customs union;

12.  Notes that a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area requires a binding mechanism for convergence with the EU acquis and a binding role for the CJEU in the interpretation of Union law and does not allow cherry-picking of sectors of the internal market;

13.  Considers that the current UK position is only compatible with a trade agreement pursuant to Article 207 TFEU, which could form the trade and economic pillar of an association agreement; stands ready to engage with the UK on the basis of the other abovementioned models, provided that the UK reconsiders its current red lines;

14.  Recalls that all recent Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) are based on three main parts: market access, regulatory cooperation, and rules; underlines that, on top of the principles set out in paragraph 4 above:

   the level of access to the EU market must correspond to the degree of continued convergence with and alignment to EU technical standards and rules, with no provision for any sector-by-sector approach and preserving the integrity of the internal market,
   the EU’s autonomy in setting EU law and standards must be guaranteed, as well as the role of the CJEU as the sole interpreter of EU law,
   a level playing field is ensured and EU standards are safeguarded to avoid a race to the bottom and prevent regulatory arbitrage by market operators,
   rules of origin are to be based on EU standard preferential rules and the interests of EU producers,
   reciprocal market access must be negotiated in full compliance with World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules, including for goods, services, public procurement and – where relevant – foreign direct investment, and all modes of supply of services, including commitments on the movement of natural persons across borders (mode 4), and be regulated in full compliance with EU rules in relation to equal treatment principles, especially for workers,
   regulatory cooperation should be negotiated, with a specific focus on SMEs, mindful of the voluntary nature of regulatory cooperation and the right to regulate in the public interest, while recalling that provisions on regulatory cooperation in a trade agreement cannot fully replicate the same frictionless trade as provided for by membership of the internal market;

15.  Stresses that this EU-UK agreement should safeguard the framework of existing commercial relationships between the EU and third countries and avoid any free-riding by ensuring consistency in keeping a tuned tariff and quota system and rules of origin for products vis-à-vis third countries;

16.  Underlines that under an FTA market access for services is limited and always subject to exclusions, reservations and exceptions;

17.  Underlines that leaving the internal market would lead to the UK losing both passporting rights for financial services and the possibility of opening branches in the EU subject to UK supervision; recalls that EU legislation provides for the possibility, in some areas, to consider third-country rules as equivalent based on a proportional and risk-based approach, and notes the ongoing legislative work and upcoming Commission proposals in this area; stresses that decisions on equivalence are always of a unilateral nature; stresses also that in order to safeguard financial stability and ensure full compliance with the EU regulatory regime and standards and their application, prudential carve-out and limitations in the cross-border provisions of financial services are a customary feature of FTAs;

18.  Underlines that an EU-UK agreement should include a robust dispute settlement mechanism as well as governance structures; emphasises in this regard the competence of the CJEU in the interpretation of questions related to EU law;

19.  Recalls that the UK’s current position and red lines would lead to customs checks and verification which would affect global supply chains and manufacturing processes, even if tariff barriers can be avoided; underlines the importance of a high level of alignment between the Single EU VAT Area and the UK; believes that taxation matters should be included in any further agreement between the UK and the EU to ensure a maximum level of cooperation between the EU and the UK and its dependent territories in the field of corporate taxation;

20.  Reiterates that, with respect to food and agricultural products, access to the EU market is conditional on strict compliance with all EU law and standards, notably in the fields of food safety, GMOs, pesticides, geographical indications, animal welfare, labelling and traceability, sanitary and phytosanitary standards, and human, animal and plant health;

   (ii) Foreign policy, security cooperation and development cooperation

21.  Notes that, on common foreign and security policy, the UK as a third country will not be able to participate in the EU’s decision-making process and that EU common positions and actions can only be adopted by EU Member States; points out, however, that this does not exclude consultation mechanisms that would allow the UK to align with EU foreign policy positions, joint actions, notably on human rights, or multilateral cooperation, especially in the frameworks of the UN, OSCE and Council of Europe; supports coordination on sanctions policy and implementation, including arms embargos and the Common Position on arms exports;

22.  Stresses that such a partnership could be established under the Framework Participation Agreement which administers the role of third countries, thereby making it possible for UK participation in civilian and military EU missions (with no lead role for the UK) and operations, programmes and projects, the sharing of intelligence, the training and exchange of military personnel, and collaboration on armaments policy, including projects developed under the permanent structured cooperation (PESCO); underlines that such participation should be without prejudice to and consistent with relevant EU positions, decisions and legislation, including on procurement and transfers in the field of defence; affirms that such cooperation is conditional on full compliance with international human rights law and international humanitarian law and EU fundamental rights;

23.  Notes that any cooperation in the above areas that involves sharing EU classified information, including on intelligence, is conditional on a security information agreement for the protection of EU classified information;

24.  Notes that, based on other similar third-country arrangements, the UK could participate in Union programmes in support of defence and external security (such as the European Defence Fund, Galileo and cyber-security programmes); is open to the possibility of the UK continuing to contribute to the EU’s external financing instruments in pursuit of common objectives, especially in the common neighbourhood;

25.  Notes that the UK is a major development cooperation and humanitarian aid actor and that EU-UK cooperation in these areas post-Brexit would be mutually beneficial;

   (iii) Internal security

26.  Stresses that it is in the mutual interest of the EU and the UK to establish a partnership that ensures continued security cooperation to face shared threats, especially terrorism and organised crime, and avoids the disruption of information flows in this field; notes that third countries (outside the Schengen area) do not benefit from any privileged access to EU instruments, including databases, in this field, nor can they take part in setting priorities and the development of the multiannual strategic goals or lead operational action plans in the context of the EU policy cycle;

27.  Notes also that, in addition to the need to protect ongoing procedures and investigations involving the UK, through transitional arrangements, separate arrangements will have to be found with the UK as a third country as regards judicial cooperation in criminal matters, including on extradition and mutual legal assistance, instead of current arrangements such as the European Arrest Warrant;

28.  Is of the view that future cooperation can be developed on the basis of non-Schengen third-country arrangements enabling the exchange of security-relevant data and operational cooperation with EU bodies and mechanisms (such as Europol and Eurojust);

29.  Stresses that such cooperation should provide legal certainty, must be based on safeguards with regard to fundamental rights as set out in the European Convention on Human Rights and must provide a level of protection essentially equivalent to that of the Charter; stresses furthermore that it should fully respect EU data protection standards and rely on effective enforcement and dispute settlement; considers it necessary to find a solution to regulate future EU-UK data exchange in the field of law enforcement, intelligence and counter-terrorism operations; underlines that an adequacy decision by the Commission would be the preferred and most secure option; recalls that in any case the UK must provide a level of data protection that is as robust as Union data protection rules;

   (iv) Thematic cooperation

30.  Underlines that the principles set out in paragraph 4 above should also fully and unconditionally apply to future cooperation with the UK in a number of areas of common interest; stresses that such agreements would need to strike a balance between rights and obligations commensurate with that of similar agreements with other third countries, but taking account of the geographical proximity and close links between the EU and the UK;

31.  Believes that, in light of the above principles and conditions, and in the interest of passengers, air carriers, manufacturers and workers’ unions, connectivity has to be ensured by means of an air transport agreement and aviation safety agreement; stresses, however, that the degree of market access is conditional on the level of regulatory convergence and alignment with the EU acquis, and on the setting up of a solid dispute settlement and arbitration mechanism; does not exclude, moreover, future cooperation with the UK to support projects of common interest in the transport sector;

32.  Considers, with respect to fisheries, that a novel form of third-country-type of bilateral partnership agreement should be negotiated with the aim of maintaining a high level of cooperation, coherence and convergence, ensuring stable and continued mutual access to waters and resources in accordance with common fisheries policy principles and governance provisions, and sustainable management of shared stocks in order to restore and maintain populations of these stocks above levels which can produce the maximum sustainable yield; underlines that the common management of shared stocks requires the continuation of the UK’s contribution to the scientific assessment of those stocks; stresses, however, that reciprocal market access for fishery products has to be negotiated as part of the future agreement, and that the access to the EU domestic market must be conditional on the access for EU vessels to the UK fishing grounds and their resources, as well as on the level of cooperation in the management of shared stocks;

33.  Underlines the value of cultural and educational cooperation, including learning and youth mobility, as well as the importance of the cultural and creative industries, in helping the EU to deepen ties with neighbouring countries, and would welcome continued cooperation between the EU and the UK in those areas, including through relevant programmes such as Erasmus or Creative Europe;

34.  Could consider, in relation to cooperation on research and innovation, the UK’s participation as a third country in the EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation and in the EU space programmes, without permitting any net transfers from the EU budget to the UK, or any decision-making role for the UK;

35.  Believes that the best option for the environment, for action against climate change, and for public health and food safety would be for the UK to remain fully aligned with current and future EU legislation, including adherence to commitments and targets for 2030 already agreed under the EU’s Clean Air package and Clean Energy package; should this not, however, be the case, calls for arrangements between the EU and the UK to ensure close cooperation and high standards on those issues and to deal with trans-boundary environmental issues; stresses that any cooperation with the EU agencies in those areas must be based on bilateral agreements;

36.  Could consider similar third-country arrangements be made in the areas of energy, electronic communications, cybersecurity and ICT; is of the opinion, in relation to energy, that any such arrangements should respect the integrity of the internal energy market, contribute to energy security, sustainability and competitiveness and take account of interconnectors between the EU and the UK; expects the UK to comply with the highest nuclear safety, security and radiation protection standards, including for waste shipments and decommissioning;

37.  Believes that the EU PEACE programme, which aims at reinforcing a peaceful and stable society by fostering reconciliation in Northern Ireland and the Border region of Ireland, should be maintained with continued participation by the UK;

   (v) Governance of the future agreement

38.  Points out that any future EU-UK agreement with the UK as a third country should include the establishment of a coherent and solid governance system as an overarching framework for the four pillars, covering the joint continuous supervision/management of the agreement and dispute settlement and enforcement mechanisms with respect to the interpretation and application of the agreement’s provisions;

39.  Insists on the absolute necessity for this governance system to fully preserve the autonomy of the EU’s decision-making and legal order, including the role of the CJEU as the sole interpreter of EU law;

40.  Stresses that the design of governance arrangements should be commensurate with the nature, scope and depth of the future relationship and take account of the level of interconnection, cooperation and proximity;

41.  Agrees with the idea of setting up a joint committee responsible for overseeing the implementation of the agreement, addressing divergences of interpretation and implementing agreed corrective measures in good faith, and fully ensuring the EU’s regulatory autonomy, including the legislative prerogatives of the European Parliament and the Council; underlines that the EU representatives on this committee should be subject to appropriate accountability mechanisms involving the European Parliament;

42.  Considers that, for provisions based on EU law concepts, the governance arrangements should provide for referral to the CJEU; reiterates that, for the application and interpretation of provisions of the agreement other than those relating to Union law, an alternative dispute settlement mechanism can only be envisaged if it offers equivalent guarantees of independence and impartiality to the CJEU;

   (vi) Level playing field

43.  Recalls that the UK and its dependent territories should continue to respect and implement the standards that exist under its international commitments and the Union’s legislation and policies, particularly in the fields referred to in paragraph 4 above, in a way that reflects the breadth and depth of the future relationship; notes the benefit of maintaining regulatory alignment based on Union legislation;

44.  Notes that the breadth and depth of the agreement on a level playing field will be essential in determining the extent of the overall future EU-UK relationship; recalls that the continued adherence of the UK to the European social model will play a key role in this;

45.  Strongly believes that the UK should adhere to the evolving standards on taxation and anti-money laundering legislation within the Union acquis, including tax transparency, the exchange of information on tax matters and anti-tax avoidance measures, and should address the situation of its dependent territories and their non-compliance with EU good governance criteria and transparency requirements; insists that customs union access be made strictly conditional upon the UK’s alignment with the above-mentioned standards;

46.  Reiterates the need to set up safeguards to ensure the maintenance both of high standards and a level playing field in the areas of environmental protection, action against climate change, food safety and public health; underlines that access to justice and a proper complaints mechanism must be guaranteed for citizens and NGOs with respect to the enforcement of labour and environmental standards;

47.  Notes that, as with the rest of the agreement, provisions on the level playing field will require robust governance structures to include appropriate management, supervision, dispute settlement and enforcement mechanisms with sanctions and interim measures where necessary and with a requirement for both parties to establish or, where relevant, maintain independent institutions capable of effectively overseeing and enforcing implementation;

   (vii) Possible participation in EU programmes

48.  Stresses that the modalities for the UK’s participation in EU actions and programmes will be the rules applicable to third countries outside the EEA; underlines that UK participation must be jointly agreed by the EU while respecting all relevant rules and mechanisms and conditions of participation, including in relation to financing, implementation, control and discharge and without permitting net transfers from the EU budget to the UK;

49.  Recalls that, as a general rule, the UK cannot as a third country participate in or have access to EU agencies; notes, however, that this does not exclude cooperation in specific cases in a strictly regulated manner requiring compliance with all relevant rules and financial contributions; points out that the next multiannual financial framework will need to incorporate the consequences of the future EU-UK relationship;

Withdrawal Agreement

50.  Welcomes the Commission’s draft Withdrawal Agreement of 28 February 2018, which largely reflects Parliament’s views; notes that it has been drafted on the basis of the mutually agreed Joint Report of 8 December 2017 and of EU positions on other separation issues;

51.  Welcomes the institutional provisions and the dispute settlement mechanisms set out in the draft Withdrawal Agreement, including the suspension of benefits during the transition period as provided for in Article 165 of the draft Withdrawal Agreement in the event of the non-fulfilment of commitments and provisions relating to the Withdrawal Agreement;

   (i) Citizens’ rights

52.  Welcomes the general approach taken on citizens’ rights in Part Two of the Commission’s draft Withdrawal Agreement, but reiterates that addressing all outstanding issues with regard to citizens’ rights and making sure that the rights of EU citizens legally residing in the UK and of UK citizens legally residing in EU-27 are not affected by Brexit will be one of the key issues for Parliament´s consent; supports the inclusion of the reference to future spouses; takes note of the provisions on the administrative procedures to acquire permanent resident status and insists on the need to enable families to initiate the procedure by means of a single form that is declaratory in nature and places the burden of proof on the UK authorities; underlines that the European Parliament will scrutinise that these procedures are effectively implemented and are simple, clear and free of charge; insists that future free movement rights across the whole EU for UK citizens currently resident in an EU-27 Member State are guaranteed, as well as voting rights in local elections for all citizens covered by the Withdrawal Agreement; calls also for the lifelong right for EU citizens covered by the Withdrawal Agreement to return to the UK, protection against the expulsion of disabled citizens and their carers, as well as the protection of procedural rights related to expulsion as referred to in Directive 2004/38/EC and of the rights of third-country nationals as established in EU law;

53.  Insists that during the transition period any EU citizens coming to the UK enjoy the same rights as those who arrived before the start of the transition period; rejects, in this context, the proposal in the recent policy paper published by the UK Government that maintains the discrimination between EU citizens who arrive before the start of the transition period and those who arrive after;

54.  Reiterates that many UK citizens have expressed strong opposition to losing the rights they currently enjoy pursuant to Article 20 TFEU; proposes that the EU-27 examine how to mitigate this within the limits of EU primary law while fully respecting the principles of reciprocity, equity, symmetry and non-discrimination; notes the recent referral to the CJEU of a case brought in a Dutch court concerning the preservation of EU citizenship rights for UK citizens after Brexit;

   (ii) Ireland and Northern Ireland

55.  Welcomes the Protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland in the Commission’s draft Withdrawal Agreement which makes the backstop option outlined in the Joint Report of 8 December 2017 operational; emphasises that this provides a concrete solution to preserve North-South cooperation and avoids a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland, which is necessary in the event of no alternative being found either through the overall EU-UK relationship or through specific solutions to be proposed by the UK, as referred to in paragraph 49 of the Joint Report;

56.  Recalls the importance of the UK’s commitment to ensure that there will be no reduction in rights, including social and democratic rights, safeguards and equality of opportunity as set out in the Good Friday Agreement, in line with the commitments of the Joint Report; insists on the transposition of all elements of the Common Travel Area and on the free movement rights of EU citizens, as embedded in EU law and in the Good Friday Agreement;

   (iii) Transitional period

57.  Reiterates the principles contained in its resolution of 13 December 2017, that after the withdrawal date the UK will no longer be part of the EU institutions and bodies and no longer contribute to decision-making, and that transition can only consist of the prolongation of the EU acquis and the continued application of existing EU regulatory, budgetary, supervisory, judicial and enforcement instruments and structures to the UK; fully supports the negotiating mandate laid down in the European Council negotiating guidelines, the Council negotiating directives and the recent Commission position paper on this issue;

58.  Welcomes and expresses support for Part Four of the draft Withdrawal Agreement on transitional arrangements; reiterates that all the rights conferred to citizens by Union law should be extended throughout the transition period; stresses that this applies also to EU citizens arriving in the UK during the transition period, who should benefit from exactly the same rights, especially concerning child allowances, family reunification and access to judicial redress with the CJEU;

59.  Recalls that any transitional arrangements must be fully compatible with WTO obligations in order not to disrupt trade relations with third countries;

60.  Insists that any future post-withdrawal trade agreements with third countries negotiated by the UK may only come into force at the end of the period during which transitional arrangements apply;

61.  Recalls that, as from the date of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, the UK will no longer benefit from the international agreements concluded by the EU, or by the Member States acting on its behalf, or by the EU and the Member States acting jointly; takes note that, during the transition period, the UK will remain bound by the obligations stemming from these agreements; stresses that the UK will not be able to participate in the governance structures and decision-making procedures provided for by these agreements;

62.  Points out that, as part of the Withdrawal Agreement, the transitional arrangements can only be implemented once this agreement enters into force;

   (iv) Other separation issues

63.  Calls for an agreement to be found without delay on all separation provisions as set out in Part Three of the draft Withdrawal Agreement, and urges the UK to present a clear position, where it has not already done so, on all outstanding issues pertaining to its orderly withdrawal;

Preparedness

64.  Underlines the importance of the work undertaken by the Commission and the Member States at various levels in terms of awareness raising and preparedness; stresses that, given the uncertainties created by Brexit, not only the EU institutions, but also national authorities, economic operators and especially citizens have to be alerted and receive proper information so that they can prepare adequately for all possible scenarios, including a no-deal scenario; calls, in particular, for the launch of actions targeting the maximum number of sectors and people concerned, including in the following areas:

   continued and safe access to medicines for veterinary and human use and medical devices for patients, including a secure and consistent supply of radioisotopes,
   financial services for economic operators,
   the preparedness of SMEs and small operators trading with the UK, such as agri-food producers and producers of fisheries products, which, for the first time ever, could be confronted with export procedures and certain types of requirements, including sanitary and phytosanitary,
   limitations and constraints that could stem from the new legal framework for the transport of passengers and goods and the impact these could have on just-in-time components of the food supply, processing and distribution chain,
   capacity regarding correct labelling, traceability and the genuine origin of agricultural and fisheries products, so as to ensure compliance with food safety and animal welfare standards and the provision of accurate consumer information on food products,
   the data protection legal framework,
   the full identification, by the Commission, of EU legislation requiring modification as a result of Brexit;

o
o   o

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

(1) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0102.
(2) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0361.
(3) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0490.


Rail transport statistics ***I
PDF 243kWORD 43k
Resolution
Text
European Parliament legislative resolution of 14 March 2018 on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on rail transport statistics (recast) (COM(2017)0353 – C8-0223/2017 – 2017/0146(COD))
P8_TA(2018)0070A8-0038/2018

(Ordinary legislative procedure – recast)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Commission proposal to the European Parliament and the Council (COM(2017)0353),

–  having regard to Article 294(2) and Article 338(1) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, pursuant to which the Commission submitted the proposal to Parliament (C8-0223/2017),

–  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 6 December 2017(1),

–  having regard to the undertaking given by the Council representative by letter of 23 February 2018 to approve Parliament’s position, in accordance with Article 294(4) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

–  having regard to the Interinstitutional Agreement of 28 November 2001 on a more structured use of the recasting technique for legal acts(2),

–  having regard to the letter of 13 October 2017 from the Committee on Legal Affairs to the Committee on Transport and Tourism in accordance with Rule 104(3) of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to Rules 104 and 59 of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Transport and Tourism (A8-0038/2018),

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

1.  Adopts its position at first reading hereinafter set out, taking account of the recommendations of the Consultative Working Party of the legal services of the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission;

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

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

Position of the European Parliament adopted at first reading on 14 March 2018 with a view to the adoption of Regulation (EU) 2018/… of the European Parliament and of the Council on rail transport statistics (recast)

(As an agreement was reached between Parliament and Council, Parliament's position corresponds to the final legislative act, Regulation (EU) 2018/643.)

(1) Not yet published in the Official Journal.
(2) OJ C 77, 28.3.2002, p. 1.


Appointment of the Vice-President of the European Central Bank
PDF 238kWORD 42k
European Parliament decision of 14 March 2018 on the Council recommendation for appointment of the Vice-President of the European Central Bank (N8-0053/2018 – C8-0040/2018 – 2018/0804(NLE))
P8_TA(2018)0071A8-0056/2018

(Consultation)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Council’s recommendation of 20 February 2018 (N8-0053/2018)(1),

–  having regard to Article 283(2), second subparagraph, of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, pursuant to which the European Council consulted Parliament (C8‑0040/2018),

–  having regard to Rule 122 of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs (A8-0056/2018),

A.  whereas, by letter of 22 February 2018, the European Council consulted Parliament on the nomination of Luis de Guindos as Vice-President of the European Central Bank for a term of office of eight years, with effect from 1 June 2018;

B.  whereas Parliament’s Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs then proceeded to evaluate the credentials of the nominee, in particular in view of the requirements laid down in Article 283(2) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union and in the light of the need for full independence of the ECB pursuant to Article 130 of that Treaty; whereas in carrying out that evaluation, the committee received a curriculum vitae from the nominee as well as his replies to the written questionnaire that had been sent to him;

C.  whereas the committee subsequently held a one-and-a-quarter-hour hearing with the nominee on 26 February 2018, at which he made an opening statement and then responded to questions from the members of the committee;

D.  whereas Parliament expresses concerns regarding gender balance, the selection procedure, the timing of the appointment and political independence, and requests that the Council engage in a dialogue with Parliament as regards how to improve the process for upcoming appointments;

1.  Delivers a favourable opinion on the Council recommendation to appoint Luis de Guindos as Vice-President of the European Central Bank;

2.  Instructs its President to forward this decision to the European Council, the Council and the governments of the Member States.

(1) OJ C 67, 22.2.2018, p. 1.


Measures for the control of Newcastle disease ***I
PDF 237kWORD 42k
Resolution
Text
European Parliament legislative resolution of 14 March 2018 on the proposal for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Council Directive 92/66/EEC introducing Community measures for the control of Newcastle disease (COM(2017)0742 – C8-0431/2017 – 2017/0329(COD))
P8_TA(2018)0072A8-0026/2018

(Ordinary legislative procedure: first reading)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Commission proposal to Parliament and the Council (COM(2017)0742),

–  having regard to Article 294(2) and Article 43(2) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, pursuant to which the Commission submitted the proposal to Parliament (C8‑0431/2017),

–  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 14 February 2018(1),

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (A8-0026/2018),

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

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

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

Position of the European Parliament adopted at first reading on 14 March 2018 with a view to the adoption of Directive (EU) 2018/… of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Council Directive 92/66/EEC introducing Community measures for the control of Newcastle disease

(As an agreement was reached between Parliament and Council, Parliament's position corresponds to the final legislative act, Directive (EU) 2018/597.)

(1) Not yet published in the Official Journal.


Further macro-financial assistance to Georgia ***I
PDF 239kWORD 44k
Resolution
Text
European Parliament legislative resolution of 14 March 2018 on the proposal for a decision of the European Parliament and of the Council providing further macro-financial assistance to Georgia (COM(2017)0559 – C8-0335/2017 – 2017/0242(COD))
P8_TA(2018)0073A8-0028/2018

(Ordinary legislative procedure: first reading)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Commission proposal to Parliament and the Council (COM(2017)0559),

–  having regard to Article 294(2) and Article 212(2) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, pursuant to which the Commission submitted the proposal to Parliament (C8‑0335/2017),

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

–  having regard to the Joint Declaration of the European Parliament and of the Council adopted together with Decision No 778/2013/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 August 2013 providing further macro-financial assistance to Georgia(1),

–  having regard to the undertaking given by the Council representative by letter of 21 February 2018 to approve Parliament’s position, in accordance with Article 294(4) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on International Trade and the opinion of the Committee on Foreign Affairs (A8-0028/2018),

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

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

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

Position of the European Parliament adopted at first reading on 14 March 2018 with a view to the adoption of Decision (EU) 2018/… of the European Parliament and of the Council providing further macro-financial assistance to Georgia

(As an agreement was reached between Parliament and Council, Parliament's position corresponds to the final legislative act, Decision (EU) 2018/598.)

(1) OJ L 218, 14.8.2013, p. 15


Mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund: application EGF/2017/008 DE/Goodyear
PDF 259kWORD 47k
Resolution
Annex
European Parliament resolution of 14 March 2018 on the proposal for a decision of the European Parliament and of the Council on the mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (application from Germany – EGF/2017/008 DE/Goodyear) (COM(2018)0061 – C8-0031/2018 – 2018/2025(BUD))
P8_TA(2018)0074A8-0061/2018

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Commission proposal to the European Parliament and the Council (COM(2018)0061 – C8‑0031/2018),

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

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

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

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

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

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgets (A8-0061/2018),

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

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

C.  whereas Germany submitted application EGF/2017/008 DE/Goodyear for a financial contribution from the EGF, following 646 redundancies in the economic sector classified under the NACE Revision 2 Division 22 (Manufacture of rubber and plastic products) in the NUTS level 2 region of Regierungsbezirk Karlsruhe (DE12) in Germany;

D.  whereas the application is based on the intervention criteria of point (a) of Article 4(1) of the EGF Regulation, which requires at least 500 workers being made redundant over a reference period of four months in an enterprise in a Member State, including workers made redundant by suppliers and downstream producers and/or self-employed persons whose activity has ceased;

1.  Agrees with the Commission that the conditions set out in Article 4(1) of the EGF Regulation are met and that Germany is entitled to a financial contribution of EUR 2 165 231 under that Regulation, which represents 60 % of the total cost of EUR 3 608 719;

2.  Notes that the German authorities submitted the application on 6 October 2017, and that, following the provision of additional information by Germany, the Commission finalised its assessment on 9 February 2018 and notified it to Parliament on the same day;

3.  Notes that the global tyre market share of Asian manufacturers from China, Taiwan and Singapore rose from 4 % in 2001 to 20 % in 2013;

4.  Notes that Germany started providing the personalised services to the targeted beneficiaries on 1 January 2018. The expenditure on those actions will therefore be eligible for a financial contribution from the EGF;

5.  Notes that Germany argues that the redundancies are linked to major structural changes in world trade patterns due to globalisation and its negative impact on B-segment car tyre production in the Union;

6.  Recalls that the redundancies that occurred in Goodyear are expected to have a significant adverse effect on the local economy, and that the impact of the layoffs is linked to the difficulties of redeployment due to the scarcity of jobs, to the low educational background of the dismissed workers, to their specific vocational skills developed in a sector now in decline, and to the high number of job seekers;

7.  Is aware of the fall in Union automotive output and market shares in the wake of globalisation; acknowledges that, as a result, significant overcapacity has built up in the B tyre segment at Goodyear, forcing the company to close one of its European plants, which was the largest employer in the region; notes that the EGF could also facilitate the cross border movement of workers from shrinking sectors located in some Member States to expanding sectors in other Member States;

8.  Notes that the application relates to 646 workers made redundant at Goodyear, the majority of them being between 30 and 54 years old; points also to the fact that a significant percentage of the redundant workers are between 55 and 64 years old with skills specific to the manufacturing sector; further notes that around 300 of the redundant workers are unskilled and have a migratory background and are without a formal qualification, such as a vocational training, which puts them at a disadvantage on the regional job market; emphasises that the Waghäusel region, where the Philippsburg plant is located, is facing structural changes; in view of this, acknowledges the importance of active labour market measures co-funded by the EGF for improving the chances of reintegration in the labour market of these groups;

9.  Notes that Germany is planning six types of actions for the redundant workers covered by this application: (i) upskilling measures, (ii) peer groups / workshops, (iii) a business start-up advisory service, (iv) job search, (v) follow-up mentoring / securing employment, (vi) training allowance;

10.  Notes that the income support measures will account for the maximum 35 % of the overall package of personalised measures set out in the EGF Regulation and that those actions are conditional on the active participation of the targeted beneficiaries in job-search or training activities;

11.  Welcomes the consultations with stakeholders including representatives of the redundant workers, social partners and regional authorities as well as the workers’ council, trade union and management that took place while drawing up the co-ordinated package of personalised services;

12.  Welcomes the decision of the public employment service to take into account both future labour market needs and the qualifications of the workers concerned when designing a qualification and skills strategy;

13.  Recalls that in accordance with Article 7 of the EGF Regulation, the design of the coordinated package of personalised services should anticipate future labour market perspectives and required skills and should be compatible with the shift towards a resource-efficient and sustainable economy; welcomes the assurance that the measures organised are in line with Germany’s sustainability strategy, and that the body setting up the two transfer companies holds a sustainability certification.

14.  Notes that the German authorities have provided assurances that the proposed actions will not receive financial support from other Union funds or financial instruments, that any double financing will be prevented and that they will be complementary with actions funded by the Structural Funds;

15.  Acknowledges Germany’s confirmation that a financial contribution from the EGF will not replace actions the enterprise concerned is required to take by virtue of national law or pursuant to collective agreements, or measures for restructuring companies or sectors;

16.  Calls on the Commission to urge national authorities to provide more details, in future proposals, on the sectors which have growth prospects and are therefore likely to hire people, as well as to gather substantiated data on the impact of the EGF funding, including on the quality, duration and sustainability of new jobs, on the number and percentage of self-employed persons and start-ups, and the reintegration rate achieved through the EGF;

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

18.  Approves the decision annexed to this resolution;

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

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

ANNEX

DECISION OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL

on the mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund following an application from Germany – EGF/2017/008 DE/Goodyear

(The text of this annex is not reproduced here since it corresponds to the final act, Decision (EU) 2018/513.)

(1) OJ L 347, 20.12.2013, p. 855.
(2) OJ L 347, 20.12.2013, p. 884.
(3) OJ C 373, 20.12.2013, p. 1.


The next MFF: Preparing the Parliament’s position on the MFF post-2020
PDF 448kWORD 80k
European Parliament resolution of 14 March 2018 on the next MFF: Preparing the Parliament’s position on the MFF post-2020 (2017/2052(INI))
P8_TA(2018)0075A8-0048/2018

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to Articles 311, 312 and 323 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU),

–  having regard to Council Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 1311/2013 of 2 December 2013 laying down the multiannual financial framework for the years 2014-2020(1) and its subsequent amendment by Council Regulation (EU, Euratom) 2017/1123 of 20 June 2017(2),

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

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

–  having regard to the Commission’s Reflection Paper of 28 June 2017 on the Future of EU Finances (COM(2017)0358),

–  having regard to its resolution of 24 October 2017 on the Reflection Paper on the Future of EU Finances(5),

–  having regard to UN General Assembly Resolution 70/1, entitled ‘Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development’,

–  having regard to its resolution of 19 January 2017 on a European Pillar of Social Rights(6),

–  having regard to the ratification of the Paris Agreement by the European Parliament on 4 October 2016(7) and by the Council on 5 October 2016(8),

–  having regard to the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights report entitled ‘Challenges facing civil society organisations working on human rights in the EU’,

–  having regard to the European Economic and Social Committee own-initiative opinion on the financing of civil society organisations by the EU,

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgets, the opinions of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, the Committee on Development, the Committee on Budgetary Control, the position in the form of amendments of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs, and the opinions of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety, the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy, the Committee on Transport and Tourism, the Committee on Regional Development, the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development, the Committee on Fisheries, the Committee on Culture and Education, the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, the Committee on Constitutional Affairs and the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality (A8-0048/2018),

A.  whereas the current multiannual financial framework (MFF) was agreed in 2013 and entailed, for the first time, a reduction in real terms of both commitment and payment appropriations compared to the previous financial programming period in spite of growing EU competences and ambitions as set out in the Lisbon Treaty and the Europe 2020 strategy respectively; whereas it also involved a significant gap between the level of commitment and payment appropriations, which contributed to a backlog in unpaid bills in the two first years of the MFF; whereas the late adoption of the MFF and the related legal bases contributed to implementation delays, the repercussions of which are still felt today and which might lead to an accumulation of payment claims at the end of the current MFF, spilling over into the next period; whereas, at Parliament’s insistence, new provisions were included in the MFF in order to use its global ceilings to the fullest possible extent and to provide for flexibility mechanisms;

B.  whereas the MFF 2014-2020 quickly proved its inadequacy in meeting actual needs and political ambitions, as, from the outset, it was called upon to address a series of crises and new challenges in the areas of investment, social exclusion, migration and refugees, youth employment, security, agriculture, the environment and climate change, which had not been anticipated at the time of its adoption; whereas, as a result, the current MFF had already been pushed to its limits after only two years of implementation as available margins had been exhausted, flexibility provisions and special instruments had been mobilised to a substantial extent, existing policies and programmes had been put under pressure or even reduced, and some off-budget mechanisms had been created as a way of compensating for the insufficient level and flexibility of the EU budget;

C.  whereas those shortcomings had already become evident at the time of the mid-term review and revision of the MFF launched at the end of 2016, and ought to have merited immediate actions, as demonstrated by Parliament in its resolution of 6 July 2016; whereas the agreed mid-term revision succeeded in broadening the potential of the existing flexibility provisions to a moderate extent, but fell short of revising the MFF ceilings;

D.  whereas the Commission will present its package of proposals on the post-2020 MFF, including future own resources, in May 2018, while Council Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 1311/2013 stipulated that they should have been delivered before 1 January 2018; whereas this is expected to be followed shortly afterwards by draft legislative proposals for the financial programmes and instruments;

1.  Adopts the present resolution in order to outline Parliament’s position on the post-2020 MFF, with particular attention to its expected priorities, size, structure, duration, flexibility and other horizontal principles, and to point out the specific budgetary orientations for the respective EU policies covered by the next financial framework; expects the Commission to present the legislative proposal for the next MFF together with a new draft interinstitutional agreement that takes into account Parliament’s positions and suggestions; stresses that this resolution also provides a basis for Parliament’s engagement in the procedure leading to the adoption of the next MFF;

2.  Adopts, in parallel, a separate resolution(9) to set out its position on the reform of the EU’s own-resources system in line with the recommendations of the High Level Group on Own Resources; calls on the Commission to take due account of Parliament’s position in preparing the legislative proposals on the EU’s own resources, which should be ambitious in scope and presented together with the MFF proposals; stresses that both the expenditure and the revenue side of the next MFF will be treated as a single package in the upcoming negotiations, and that no agreement will be reached on the MFF without corresponding headway being made on own resources;

I.Priorities and challenges of the next MFF

3.  Welcomes the discussion about the next MFF as an opportunity to prepare the ground for a stronger and more sustainable Europe through one of its most tangible instruments, the Union budget; believes that the next MFF should be embedded in a broader strategy and narrative for the future of Europe; considers that the MFF must be the translation of the EU's political project and policy priorities into budgetary means;

4.  Is convinced that the next MFF should build on the Union’s well-established policies and priorities, which aim at promoting peace, democracy, the rule of law, human rights and gender equality, boosting welfare, long-term and sustainable economic growth and research and innovation, providing quality employment leading to decent jobs, fighting climate change, and fostering economic, social and territorial cohesion, as well as solidarity between Member States and citizens; considers that these pillars are prerequisites for a properly functioning single market and Economic and Monetary Union as well as for reinforcing Europe’s position in the world; trusts that they are more relevant than ever for Europe’s future endeavours;

5.  Believes that the next MFF should enable the Union to provide solutions and emerge strengthened from the crises of the decade: the economic and financial downturn, youth unemployment, persistent poverty and social exclusion, the phenomenon of migration and refugees, climate change and natural disasters, environmental degradation and biodiversity loss, terrorism and instability, to name but a few; underlines that these global, cross-border challenges with domestic implications reveal the interdependency of our economies and societies, and point to the need for joint actions;

6.  Points out that the EU must deliver on its commitment to be a frontrunner in implementing the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which provide a global roadmap for more sustainable, equitable and prosperous societies within planetary boundaries; underlines that the next MFF must be aligned with the SDGs; welcomes the Commission's commitment to mainstreaming the SDGs into all EU policies and initiatives; expects the EU to fulfil its commitments to those goals; further highlights that the proclamation of the European Pillar of Social Rights and the commitment from the EU and Member States to ensure a more social Europe should be supported by adequate financial resources; considers that, following the Paris Agreement, climate-related spending should be significantly increased compared to the current MFF and reach 30 % as soon as possible and at the latest by 2027;

7.  Stresses that the next MFF provides an opportunity for the Union to demonstrate that it stands together and is able to address political developments such as Brexit, the rise of populist and nationalist movements and changes in global leadership; underlines that divisions and self-centredness are not an answer to global issues and to citizens’ concerns; considers that the Brexit negotiations, in particular, show that the benefits of being a Union member greatly outweigh the cost of contributing to its budget; asks in this context for the full observance of the framework of the commitments previously assumed, as in the case of the Good Friday Agreement in respect of rule of law and democracy;

8.  Calls, therefore, for continuous support for existing policies, in particular the long-standing EU policies enshrined in the Treaties, namely the common agricultural and fisheries policies, and cohesion policy, since they bring tangible benefits of the European project to EU citizens; rejects any attempt to renationalise these policies, as this would neither reduce the financial burden on taxpayers and consumers, nor achieve better results, but would instead hamper growth, solidarity and the functioning of the single market while further deepening inequalities and widening the disparities between territories and economic sectors; intends to secure the same level of funding for the EU-27 for these policies in the next programming period while further improving their effectiveness and simplifying the procedures associated with them;

9.  Believes that Europe should offer prospects to the younger generation as well as to the future-oriented undertakings that make the EU more successful in the global arena; is determined to substantially scale up two of its flagship programmes, namely the Research Framework Programme and Erasmus+, which cannot satisfy the very high demand involving top quality applications with their current means; stands firm in its support for a substantial increase in resources for the fight against youth unemployment and in support for small and medium-sized enterprises through the successor programmes of the Youth Employment Initiative and the programme for the Competitiveness of Enterprises and Small and medium-sized enterprises (COSME); also supports reinforcing the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) 2.0;

10.  Calls for the Union to assume its role in three emerging policy areas with internal and external dimensions which have appeared in the course of the current MFF:

   by developing and funding a comprehensive asylum, migration and integration policy and addressing the root causes of migration and displacement in third countries,
   by strengthening external border protection and promoting stability, in particular by safeguarding human rights abroad, conflict prevention and external development policies,
   by providing internal common security to European citizens and pooling research and capabilities in the area of defence, while stressing that actions taken in these areas should not come at the expense of the EU’s development policies;

11.  Highlights that the future framework is expected to integrate two new types of financial support featuring prominently on the Union’s economic agenda, namely the continuation of the investment support schemes, such as the European Fund for Strategic Investment, and the development of a stabilisation function for Member States in the euro area, possibly through the proposed European Monetary Fund, together with a dedicated convergence facility for Member States on their way to joining the euro;

12.  Underlines that, as a first step, the specific euro-area budgetary capacity should be part of the Union budget, counted over and above the ceilings of the multiannual financial framework, without prejudice to the other MFF programmes, and should be financed by euro-area and other participating members via a source of revenue to be agreed between participating Member States and considered to be assigned revenue and guarantees; considers that the fiscal capacity could be financed, once in a steady state, through genuine own resources, following the recommendations of the Monti report on the future financing of the EU;

13.  Reaffirms the principle that additional political priorities should be coupled with additional financial means, whether they emerge at the time of adoption of a new MFF or in the course of its implementation, and underlines that the financing of new needs should not undermine existing policies and programmes; expects, furthermore, that sufficient flexibility provisions will be put in place in order to accommodate unforeseen circumstances that may arise in the course of the MFF;

14.  Believes that a stronger and a more ambitious Europe can only be achieved if it is provided with reinforced financial means; calls, in the light of the above‑mentioned challenges and priorities, and taking into account the UK’s withdrawal from the Union, for a significant increase in the Union’s budget; estimates the required MFF expenditure ceilings at 1,3 % of the GNI of the EU-27, notwithstanding the range of instruments to be counted over and above the ceilings;

15.  Is convinced that, unless the Council agrees to significantly increase the level of its national contributions to the EU budget, the introduction of new genuine EU own resources remains the only option for adequately financing the next MFF;

II.Horizontal issues

Principles of the EU budget and budget sincerity

16.  Recalls the European budgetary principles of unity, budgetary accuracy, annuality, equilibrium, universality, specification, additionality, subsidiarity, sound financial management and transparency, which need to be respected when establishing and implementing the Union budget;

17.  Reiterates its long-standing position that the Union’s political ambition must be matched with adequate financial resources and recalls that Article 311 TFEU states that ‘the Union shall provide itself with the means necessary to attain its objectives and carry out its policies’;

18.  Points out, in this context, that the full implementation of political decisions and initiatives taken by the European Council is possible only if the necessary funding is ensured, and underlines that any other approach undermines the sincerity of the Union budget and citizens’ trust;

19.  Believes that, by translating the political priorities of the EU into concrete investments, the MFF constitutes an excellent instrument for the long-term planning of EU spending and for ensuring a certain stable level of public investment in the Member States; regrets, however, the lack of mutually agreed long-term strategy ahead of the adoption of the next MFF; recalls, furthermore, that the EU budget is predominantly an investment budget that serves as an additional and complementary source of funding for actions undertaken at national, regional and local levels;

Duration

20.  Is of the opinion that the decision on the duration of the MFF should strike the right balance between two conflicting requirements, namely, on the one hand, the need for several EU policies – especially those under shared management, such as agriculture and cohesion – to operate on the basis of the stability and predictability that is ensured through a commitment of at least seven years, and, on the other hand, the need for democratic legitimacy and accountability that results from the synchronisation of each financial framework with the five-year political cycle of the European Parliament and the Commission;

21.  Stresses that it is a political imperative for each newly elected Parliament to be able to substantially influence the MFF during its electoral cycle, both in terms of amounts and political priorities; stresses that the European Parliament elections provide the opportunity for EU citizens to express directly their position on the budgetary priorities of the Union, which should be reflected in a binding post-electoral adjustment of the financial framework; believes, therefore, that during each political cycle the Commission must propose and both Parliament and the Council must decide either on the establishment of the subsequent MFF or on a mandatory mid-term revision of the ongoing MFF;

22.  Underlines the need for the MFF’s duration to move progressively towards a 5+5 period with a mandatory mid-term revision; calls on the Commission to draw up a clear proposal setting out the methods for the practical implementation of a 5+5 financial framework; is convinced that a single five-year period cannot be considered for the duration of the MFF, owing to the serious impediments that it would impose on the programming and implementation requirements of several EU policies;

23.  Acknowledges, however, that the timing of the next European Parliament elections in spring 2019, given that the current MFF runs until December 2020, does not allow for a 5+5 solution to be implemented immediately, as no satisfactory alignment of the different cycles would be achieved; takes the view, therefore, that the next MFF should be set for a period of seven years (2021-2027), including a mandatory mid-term revision, by way of a transitional solution to be applied for one last time;

Mid-term revision

24.  Is convinced of the necessity to maintain a legally binding and compulsory MFF mid-term review and revision, enshrined in the new MFF Regulation; recalls that the 2016 mid-term revision was the historic first occasion on which an actual revision of the MFF Regulation took place and that was assessed positively by both Council and Parliament, notably in terms of reinforcing the MFF flexibility provisions;

25.  Considers that, for the 2021-2027 MFF, the mid-term revision should be proposed and decided in due time to allow for the next Parliament and Commission to adjust the financial framework accordingly; underlines that any revision of the MFF should ensure the involvement of Parliament and safeguard its prerogatives as an equal arm of the budgetary authority; underlines, moreover, that any real revision also entails the revision of the MFF ceilings, should their inadequacy be established for the rest of the period;

Flexibility

26.  Underlines that, during the current MFF, the budgetary authority approved a substantial mobilisation of the flexibility mechanisms and special instruments included in the MFF Regulation, in order to secure the additional appropriations needed to respond to serious crises or finance new political priorities;

27.  Considers, therefore, that the flexibility provisions under the current MFF have worked well and have provided solutions in relation to the significant financing needed in particular to confront the challenges of migration and refugees and to address the investment gap; recalls that Parliament was the originator of several of these provisions, which it strongly defended during the previous MFF negotiations;

28.  Believes that a further reinforcement of these provisions is still necessary in order to better cope with new challenges, unforeseen events and the evolving political priorities that arise during the implementation of a long-term plan, such as the MFF; calls for enhanced flexibility for the next MFF, which should allow for the largest possible use of the global MFF ceilings for commitments and payments;

Flexibility mechanisms in the MFF

29.  Considers that the ceilings of the next MFF should be set at a level that allows not only the financing of EU policies, but also the provision of sufficient margins in commitments for each heading;

30.  Is convinced that all unallocated margins should be carried over without restrictions to future financial years and mobilised by the budgetary authority, for any purpose deemed necessary, in the annual budgetary procedure; calls, therefore, for the Global Margin for Commitments to be maintained, but without any restrictions in scope and time;

31.  Recalls that the Global Margin for Commitments can only mobilise the unallocated margins up to year N-1, once they have been confirmed through the technical adjustment preceding the presentation of the Draft Budget; considers, however, that it is essential to explore ways of also mobilising the unallocated margins of year N, in order to still allow for the financing of additional needs that may occur during that year;

32.  Strongly believes that the commitments authorised by the budgetary authority should be used for their original purpose and that every effort should be made to ensure that this is the case across all policy fields; calls on the Commission, in particular, to continue to actively work in this direction; is convinced, nevertheless, that if decommitments actually occur, as a result of the total or partial non-implementation of the actions for which they had been earmarked, they should be made available again in the EU budget and be mobilised by the budgetary authority in the framework of the annual budgetary procedure; considers that the decommitments should feed directly into the Global Margin for Commitments, instead of any particular special instrument or reserve;

33.  Recalls that decommitments stem from commitments that have already been authorised by the budgetary authority and should normally have led to corresponding payments, if the action they were meant to finance had been carried out as planned; stresses, therefore, that the recycling of decommitments in the EU budget is duly justified, but should not be a way to circumvent the relevant decommitment rules that are enshrined in the sectoral regulations;

34.  Points to the need to ensure a full carry-over of payment margins through the Global Margin for Payments across the whole MFF; opposes any limitations or ceilings applied to the level of margins that can be transferred, as is the case in the current MFF, and recalls that these margins can only be mobilised if and to the extent that the budgetary authority decides to do so; stresses that the Global Margin for Payments could be instrumental in confronting any new payment crisis that might occur;

35.  Stresses that the possibility of revising ceilings should remain an option in the MFF Regulation in the event of unforeseen circumstances, when the financing needs would exhaust or exceed available margins and special instruments; calls for the MFF Regulation to provide for a simplified procedure for a targeted revision under an agreed threshold;

36.  Advocates maintaining the possibility of front- or backloading the financing of any EU programme, in order to allow for countercyclical action that corresponds to the rhythm of the actual implementation and to provide a meaningful response to major crises; calls, moreover, for the legislative flexibility – currently enshrined in Point 17 of the Interinstitutional Agreement (IIA) – that allows for an adjustment in the overall envelope of programmes adopted by the ordinary legislative procedure of up to +/-10 % to be further increased to +/-15 %;

37.  Points to the flexibility that can be achieved through transfers within the same MFF heading, with the aim of placing the financial resources exactly where they are needed and ensuring a better implementation of the EU budget; considers that a lower number of headings contributes to enhanced flexibility in the MFF; requests, however, that the Commission proactively inform and consult the budgetary authority when adopting significant autonomous transfers;

MFF special instruments

38.  Approves the overall architecture of the MFF special instruments, notably the Flexibility Instrument, the Emergency Aid Reserve, the EU Solidarity Fund and the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF), and points to their extensive mobilisation under the current MFF; calls for improvements to be made to their financial envelopes and operating provisions;

39.  Calls, in particular, for a substantial increase in the financial envelope of the Flexibility Instrument of up to an annual allocation of at least EUR 2 billion; recalls that the Flexibility Instrument is not linked to any specific policy field and can thus be mobilised for any purpose that is deemed necessary; considers, therefore, that this instrument can be mobilised to cover any new financial needs as they occur during the MFF;

40.  Points to the role of the Emergency Aid Reserve in providing a rapid response to specific aid requirements for third countries for unforeseen events, and stresses its particular importance in the current context; calls for a substantial increase in its financial envelope of up to an annual allocation of EUR 1 billion;

41.  Notes, in particular, the significant mobilisation of the EU Solidarity Fund to provide assistance in a number of serious natural disasters with substantial budgetary consequences; stresses also the positive impact that this instrument has on public opinion; proposes the reinforcement of its financial envelope to an annual allocation of EUR 1 billion;

42.  Considers that the use of the EGF, providing EU solidarity and support to workers losing their jobs as a result of major structural changes in world trade patterns arising from globalisation or as a result of the global economic and financial crisis, has not deployed its full potential and could be further improved and integrated within a long-term strategy, in order to effectively reach redundant workers and reintegrate them into the labour market, in all Member States; considers that the upcoming revision of the EGF should examine its scope and improve its coordination with other instruments; believes that a revised EGF should be endowed with at least an identical annual allocation under the new MFF;

43.  Proposes the establishment of a special reserve for the MFF special instruments built on the unspent appropriations that lapse from each instrument; considers that this reserve should operate without any limitations in time; requests that this reserve be mobilised in favour of any MFF special instrument that is called to finance needs beyond its financial capacity, following a decision by the budgetary authority;

44.  Notes that different rules currently apply in relation to the time span for the carrying over of unspent appropriations for each MFF special instrument; considers that these should be harmonised, so as to enable a single N+1 rule to apply to all of these instruments;

45.  Considers that the Contingency Margin should be maintained as an instrument of last resort; stresses that this is a special instrument that can also be mobilised for payment appropriations only, and that its mobilisation was instrumental in responding to the 2014 payment crisis; calls, therefore, for an upward adjustment of its maximum annual allocation to 0,05 % of EU GNI;

46.  Underlines that the MFF special instruments should be counted over and above the MFF ceilings both for commitment and payment appropriations; considers that the issue of budgeting the payments of these instruments was settled in an unequivocal manner during the 2014-2020 MFF mid-term revision, putting an end to the long-standing conflict of interpretation with the Council; advocates the introduction of a clear provision in the MFF Regulation, stating that payments resulting from the mobilisation in commitments of MFF special instruments should be counted over and above the annual MFF payment ceilings;

47.  Notes that the current IIA requires a special majority in Parliament for the mobilisation of three MFF special instruments; considers this provision to be obsolete, given that it reflects the special majorities needed for the adoption of the EU budget before the Lisbon Treaty; calls for a homogeneous approach as regards the voting requirements for the mobilisation of these instruments, which should be the same as for the adoption of the EU budget;

Revenue – special reserve

48.  Reiterates its long-standing position that any revenue resulting from fines imposed on companies for breaching EU competition law or linked to late payments of national contributions to the EU budget should constitute an extra item of revenue for the EU budget without a corresponding decrease in GNI contributions;

49.  Calls, to this end, for a special reserve to be established in the EU budget, which will be progressively filled up by all types of unforeseen other revenue and duly carried over in order to provide additional spending possibilities when needs arise; considers that this reserve should be earmarked for the MFF special instruments and should provide for additional top-ups, both in commitments and payments, upon a decision by the budgetary authority;

Efficient and effective use of EU resources

50.  Acknowledges that achieving European added value should be one of the main principles guiding the EU institutions when deciding about the type of spending in the next MFF; points out, however, the existence of multiple interpretations of the concept and calls for a single, clear and easily understandable definition of the relevant criteria that should take territorial specificities into account and include, where possible, measurable performance indicators; warns against any attempt to use such a definition to call into question the relevance of EU policies and programmes on purely quantitative or short-term economic considerations;

51.  Notes the reference to the notion of European added value presented in several Commission documents; reiterates the list of parameters identified by Parliament in its above-mentioned resolution of 24 October 2017 in this context; recalls that the EU’s resources should be used to finance European public goods as well as to act as a catalyst in providing incentives for Member States at all administrative levels to take action in order to fulfil Treaty objectives and to attain common EU goals which would not be realised otherwise; agrees that the EU budget should be used to finance actions that can benefit the EU as a whole, which cannot be ensured efficiently by any single Member State alone and that can offer better value for money compared to actions taken solely at national, regional or local level; believes furthermore that the EU budget should contribute to the establishment and support of peace and stability in the EU’s neighbourhood and beyond; considers that European added value is created by programmes under both shared and direct management, the two being complementary methods for attaining EU goals; against this background, expects the Member States, in the negotiations on the next MFF, to refrain from following a ‘juste retour’ logic that takes into account only national interests in the form of net balances;

52.  Considers that better spending, i.e. the efficient and non-discriminatory use of every single euro of the EU budget, can be achieved not only by directing EU resources towards actions with the highest European added value and the greatest increase in the performance of the EU’s policies and programmes, based on an in-depth assessment of the current expenditure, but also by achieving greater synergies between the EU budget and national budgets, and by ensuring the tangible improvement of the spending architecture; supports the recommendations of the 2016 Annual Report of the European Court of Auditors for an efficient measurement framework of indicators, more streamlined and balanced reporting on performance, and an easier access to the assessment results;

53.  Calls for a genuine simplification of the EU budgetary system in the next MFF with the aim of facilitating absorption; underlines, in particular, the need to reduce unnecessary overlaps between instruments that serve similar types of actions, for example in the areas of innovation, SMEs or transport, without running the risk of losing important elements of the different programmes, and the necessity of eliminating the competition which exists between different forms and sources of funding, in order to ensure maximum complementarity and to provide for a coherent financial framework; believes that this would facilitate clearer communication of EU priorities to citizens;

54.  Underlines that the ‘health check’ of EU spending cannot provide for a reduction in the level of EU ambition or a sectoralisation of EU policies and programmes, nor should it lead to a replacement of grants by financial instruments with a view to generating some savings, as the great majority of actions supported by the EU budget are not suitable to be funded by the latter; is of the opinion that the ‘health check’ should rather lead to identifying ways in which the implementation of EU spending programmes could be improved;

55.  Calls for a far-reaching harmonisation of the rules with the aim of creating a single rulebook for all EU budgetary instruments, while taking into account fund-specific and sector-specific characteristics; encourages the Commission to tackle the issue of the combination of various sources of funding by providing clear guidelines in this respect and ensuring equal access to all types of funding in all Member States;

56.  Advocates also a real simplification of sectoral implementation rules for beneficiaries and a reduction in administrative burdens through further standardisation and simplification of procedures and programming documents; points, moreover, to the need to provide for more capacity-building and technical assistance for beneficiaries; calls for a move towards a risk-based evaluation;

Unity, budgetary accuracy and transparency

57.  Recalls that the principle of unity, whereby all items of revenue and expenditure of the Union are to be shown in the budget, is both a Treaty requirement and a basic democratic precondition if the budget is to be transparent, legitimate and accountable; regrets that this principle has increasingly gone unobserved, while financial complexity has grown, from the historical legacy of the European Development Fund (EDF), through the setting up of the European Stability Mechanism, to the recent inflation of ad hoc off-budget mechanisms in the form of innovative financial instruments and external trust funds or facilities that are not recorded in the Union balance sheet;

58.  Questions the justification and added value of establishing instruments outside the Union budget; considers that decisions to set up or maintain such instruments are in reality driven by attempts to conceal the real financial needs and to bypass the constraints of the MFF and own-resources ceilings; deplores the fact that they often also result in bypassing Parliament in its triple responsibility as legislative, budgetary and control authority and run counter to the objective of enhancing transparency for the general public and beneficiaries;

59.  Reiterates, therefore, its long-standing position that the European Development Fund, alongside other instruments outside the MFF, should be integrated into the Union budget in order to increase its legitimacy as well as the efficiency and effectiveness of the Union’s development policy; underlines, however, that the respective financial envelopes should be added on top of the agreed MFF ceilings so that the budgeting of these instruments has no detrimental impact either on their financing or on other EU policies and programmes; welcomes, in principle, the proposal to incorporate the European Stability Mechanism in the Union’s finances in the form of a European Monetary Fund, without prejudice to its future design;

60.  Takes the view that EU trust funds can add value by pooling resources from various donors for specific situations, but that their use should not result in a simple relabelling of planned EU funding, and should not change the original objectives of EU financing instruments; emphasises the need for increased parliamentary scrutiny of their creation and implementation; insists that EU trust funds should only support actions outside the Union;

61.  Considers also that, when a certain share of off-budget operations is deemed necessary to achieve certain specific objectives, for example through the use of financial instruments or trust funds, these should be kept at a limited level and duration and should be fully transparent, justified by proven additionality and added value, and backed by strong decision-making procedures and accountability provisions;

62.  Believes that, under the next MFF, the Union budget should display with greater accuracy the extent of assigned revenues and their impact on actual expenditure, in particular those stemming from third countries’ contributions; underlines that this is even more relevant in view of the UK’s wish to participate in some Union budgetary programmes of the new MFF post-2020 as a non-Member State, as expressed in the context of the negotiations on its withdrawal from the Union;

Level of payments

63.  Recalls that payment appropriations are the logical and legal consequence of commitment appropriations, and calls for the future payment ceilings to be set at an appropriate level, leaving only a limited and realistic gap between commitments and payments; expects that future payment ceilings take into account, on the one hand, the need to honour the commitments stemming from the current financial period that will turn into payments only after 2020 and, on the other hand, the need to meet the commitments for the post-2020 programmes and instruments;

64.  Recalls the build-up of a backlog of unpaid bills at the end of the previous MFF that spilled over into the current one and warns against a repetition of such a payment crisis in the transition to the next MFF, as this would have serious consequences for beneficiaries such as students, universities, SMEs and researchers; points to the current trend of under-execution in payments due to delays in the implementation of the 2014-2020 programmes, which leads to increasing levels of outstanding commitments remaining to be settled within the ceilings of the next MFF; asks the Commission and the Member States, including at the level of finance ministers, to analyse the root causes of those delays and to come up with concrete simplification measures to facilitate implementation in the future;

65.  Notes the preliminary outcome of the negotiations on the financial settlement in the context of the UK’s withdrawal from the Union, enacting UK full participation in the financing and the implementation of the 2014-2020 programmes with all the relevant financial consequences;

Financial instruments

66.  Emphasises that the EU budget has at its disposal a wide range of instruments that finance activities supported at EU level and that can be regrouped in two categories, namely grants on the one hand, and on the other financial instruments in the form of guarantees, loans, risk-sharing or equity; points also to the European Fund for Strategic Investment, the aim of which is to mobilise private and public capital across the EU in support of projects in key areas for the EU economy, in order to complement limited funding;

67.  Recognises the potential of financial instruments to increase the economic and political impact of the Union budget; highlights, however, that they can be applied only for revenue-generating projects in cases of sub-optimal investment conditions or market failure, and therefore constitute only a complementary rather than an alternative form of funding as compared to grants; stresses that financial instruments should not aim at replacing already existing public or private funding schemes and should comply with domestic and international commitments;

68.  Recalls its request to the Commission to identify those areas which are best served by grants, those that could be better served by financial instruments, and those where grants could be combined with financial instruments, and to reflect on a proper balance between the two; is convinced that subsidies should remain the predominant way of funding the EU project in the next MFF; underlines that loans, guarantees, risk-sharing and equity financing should be used with caution, based on appropriate ex ante assessments and only when their use can demonstrate a clear added value and a leverage effect; notes that the take-up of financial instruments and the synergies with grants can be improved; calls for major efforts to facilitate access to financial instruments for beneficiaries, and for more flexibility in cross-sectoral use of different financial instruments, so as to overcome the restrictive rules preventing recipients from taking advantage of multiple programmes for projects with matching goals;

69.  Calls on the Commission to simplify and harmonise the rules governing the use of financial instruments in the next MFF with the aim of creating synergies between the different instruments and maximising their efficient application; takes note of a possible proposal, which would require a thorough discussion, for a single fund that would integrate financial instruments at EU level that are centrally managed; is of the opinion that a clear structure should be provided for the choice of different types of financial instruments for different policy areas and types of actions and that the relevant financial instruments should continue to be budgeted under separate budget lines, in order to provide for clarity of investment; underlines, however, that any such harmonisation of rules cannot affect the financial instruments managed by Member States under cohesion policy or in the field of external actions;

70.  Recalls its repeated demands for greater transparency and democratic scrutiny regarding the implementation of financial instruments supported by the Union budget;

Structure

71.  Considers that the structure of the MFF should provide for the increased visibility of EU political and budgetary priorities for European citizens, and calls for a clearer presentation of all areas of EU expenditure; is convinced that the main pillars of future EU spending outlined in this resolution should be reflected accordingly;

72.  Believes, therefore, that the current presentation of the headings requires some improvements, but is against any unjustified radical changes; proposes, as a result, the following structure for the MFF post-2020:

Heading 1: A stronger and sustainable economy

Including programmes and instruments supporting:

under direct management:

–  research and innovation

–  industry, entrepreneurship and small and medium‑sized enterprises

–  digital transformation of economy and society

–  large-infrastructure projects

–  transport, energy, space

–  environment and climate change mitigation and adaptation

Heading 2: Stronger cohesion and solidarity in Europe

Including programmes and instruments supporting:

–  economic, social and territorial cohesion (under shared management):

—  investments in innovation, research, digitalisation, industrial transition, SMEs, transport, climate change adaptation and mitigation, the environment and energy

—  employment, social affairs and social inclusion, gender equality, poverty reduction and demographic challenges

–  education, youth and life‑long learning

–  culture, citizenship, media and communication

–  democracy, rule of law and fundamental rights

–  health and food safety

–  asylum, migration and integration, justice and consumers

–  support to and coordination with national administrations

Heading 3: Stronger and sustainable agriculture and fisheries

Including programmes and instruments supporting:

–  agriculture and rural development

–  maritime affairs and fisheries

Heading 4: Stronger responsibility in the world

Including programmes and instruments supporting:

–  international cooperation and development

–  neighbourhood

–  enlargement

–  humanitarian aid

–  democracy, rule of law, fundamental rights and gender equality

–  trade

Heading 5: Security, peace and stability for all

Including programmes and instruments supporting:

–  security, including cybersecurity

–  crisis response and stability, including civil protection

–  common foreign and security policy

–  defence, including research and innovation

Heading 6: An efficient administration at the service of Europeans

–  financing EU staff

–  financing the buildings and equipment of EU institutions

73.  Urges the Commission to provide in an annex to the European budget all EU‑related expenditure that occurs outside the EU budget as a result of intergovernmental agreements and procedures; believes that such information, provided on an annual basis, would complete the picture of all investments that Member States have committed to at European level;

III.Policies

A stronger and sustainable economy

74.  Highlights the importance of completing the European research area, the energy union, the single European transport area and the digital single market as fundamental elements of the European single market;

75.  Believes that the next MFF should see a greater concentration of budgetary resources in areas that demonstrate a clear European added value and stimulate economic growth, competitiveness, sustainability and employment across all EU regions; stresses, in this context, the importance of research and innovation in creating a sustainable, world-leading, knowledge-based economy, and regrets that, due to the lack of adequate financing, only a small proportion of high-quality projects in this field have received EU funding under the current MFF;

76.  Calls, therefore, for a substantial increase in the overall budget earmarked for the FP9 programme in the next MFF, which should be set at a level of at least EUR 120 billion; considers this level to be appropriate for securing Europe’s global competitiveness and scientific, technological and industrial leadership, for responding to societal challenges, and for helping to achieve the EU’s climate goals and the SDGs; calls, in particular, for efforts to stimulate breakthrough, market-creating innovation, notably for SMEs;

77.  Calls, furthermore, for a greater focus on implementing research and innovation through joint undertakings and other instruments and for supporting investment in key technologies to close the investment gap in innovation; emphasises that the increase in funds must be coupled with a simplification of funding procedures; welcomes the Commission’s efforts in this respect and insists that these should continue under the next programming period, in order to provide better access and a level playing field for applicants through a new system for evaluating applications; stresses the need for measures to be developed to stimulate a balanced participation from all EU Member States;

78.  Welcomes the recent Commission proposal to ensure the financing of the Research Fund for Coal and Steel for the coming years; highlights the importance of this fund for financing research in this industrial sector; believes, therefore, that a longer-term solution is needed that ensures the financing beyond 2020 and also incorporates the fund in the Union budget in order to allow Parliament to live up to its role as budgetary control authority;

79.  Stresses that SMEs and micro-enterprises are key drivers of economic growth, innovation and employment, providing 85 % of all new jobs; recognises their important role in ensuring economic recovery and boosting a sustainable EU economy; recalls that there are more than 20 million SMEs in the EU and that they account for 99 % of all businesses; considers that improving access to finance for SMEs, across all Member States, should continue to remain an important policy objective for the next MFF, in order to further enhance their competitiveness and sustainability; stresses, therefore, the need to promote entrepreneurship and improve the business environment for SMEs in order to allow them to realise their full potential in today’s global economy;

80.  Welcomes the success of the dedicated EU programme for the competitiveness of enterprises and SMEs (COSME) under the current MFF; underlines the high level of implementation of this programme, and points to its capacity to absorb even more; calls, therefore, for the COSME programme’s financial envelope to be doubled in order for it to correspond to the actual needs of the EU economy and the significant demand for participation;

81.  Reiterates its strong commitment to the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), which aims at mobilising EUR 500 billion in new investment in the real economy under the current MFF; believes that EFSI has already delivered a powerful and targeted boost to economic sectors that are conducive to sustainable growth and jobs; underlines the positive impact of EFSI on providing finance to SMEs across the Union; welcomes, therefore, the Commission’s intention to put forward a legislative proposal for the continuation and improvement of this investment scheme with a dedicated budget that should not be financed to the detriment of existing policies and programmes under the new MFF; stresses that any legislative proposal should be based on the conclusions of a Commission review and independent evaluation; expects that the new proposal will effectively address any shortcomings of the implementation of EFSI and will enhance inter alia the fund’s geographical coverage, so that its benefits are felt across the Union;

82.  Insists on the importance of the MFF for sectors relying on long-term investment, such as the sustainable transport sector; highlights that transport infrastructure is the backbone of the single market and the basis for sustainable growth and job creation; notes that accomplishing a single European transport area connected to neighbouring countries requires major transport infrastructure and must be treated as a key priority in terms of the EU’s competitiveness and for economic, social and territorial cohesion, including for peripheral and island areas; considers, therefore, that the next MFF should provide for sufficient funding for projects that contribute in particular to the completion of the TEN-T core network and its corridors, which should be further extended; recalls the goals set by COP 21 with regard to transport in order to combat climate change, and encourages Member States to invest in smart, sustainable and integrated public transport;

83.  Stresses that an updated and more effective CEF programme should cover all modes of transport, including road and rail infrastructure, as well as inland waterways; considers that is should prioritise greater links between comprehensive networks and modes of transport that contribute to reducing CO2 emissions, and focus on interconnections and the completion of the network in peripheral areas; reiterates the importance of enhancing interoperability through the European Railway Traffic Management System and enabling the full use of the Single European Sky initiative; calls for the completion of the European digital air traffic management system;

84.  Calls for the creation of a specific budget line for tourism in the next MFF, in order to move towards a genuine European tourism policy that can significantly contribute to growth and job creation;

85.  Calls on the Commission to promote investment in developing next-generation technologies and promoting their deployment; underlines the importance of ensuring financing for completing the digital single market by making full use of the spectrum, ensuring the upgrading of fixed networks and the densification of mobile networks, promoting 5G deployment and gigabit connectivity, and making further progress on the harmonisation of EU telecom rules in order to create the right regulatory framework for the improvement of internet connectivity throughout the Union; stresses that CEF Telecom should continue to support Digital Service Infrastructures and high-speed broadband networks by enabling their accessibility, including in remote regions and rural areas, and by improving digital literacy, interconnectivity and interoperability; underlines the need to support the digital transformation of the European economy and society and to invest in essential technologies such as big data, artificial intelligence or high-performance computing, in infrastructure and in digital skills in order to enhance the EU’s competitiveness and improve the quality of life of Europeans;

86.  Considers it essential to secure a sustainable and affordable energy supply in Europe; calls, therefore, for continuous support for investments ensuring the diversification of energy sources and routes, increasing energy security and energy independence, and enhancing energy efficiency and the use of renewable energy, including by CEF Energy; stresses in particular the importance of providing for comprehensive support, especially for carbon-intensive regions, energy transition, transition to a low-carbon economy, the modernisation of power generation, improvements in cross-border interconnections and deployment of smart grids, carbon capture storage and utilisation technologies, and the modernisation of district heating; considers that the transformation of the energy sector in the light of the climate objectives should be supported accordingly, notably in coal-dependent regions and countries, so as to effectively contribute to a strategic transition to a low-emission economy; calls for the establishment of a comprehensive fund in order to support a just transition, in particular through the development and deployment of renewable sources, energy efficiency solutions, energy storage, electro-mobility solutions and infrastructure, modernisation of power generation and grids, advanced power generation technologies, including carbon capture and storage (CCS), carbon capture utilisation (CCU) and coal gasification, modernisation of district heating, including high-efficiency cogeneration, early adaptation to future environmental standards and restructuring of energy-intensive industries, as well as addressing social, economic and environmental impacts;

87.  Underlines the strategic importance of large-scale infrastructure projects, namely the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER), the European Geostationary Navigation Overlay (EGNOS), the Global Satellite Navigation System (Galileo), the Earth Observation Programme (Copernicus) and the future Governmental Satellite Communications (GOVSATCOM) for the EU’s future competitiveness, security and political power; points out that the financing of these large-scale projects needs to be secured in the EU budget but, at the same time, ring-fenced, so as to ensure that possible cost overruns do not threaten the funding and successful implementation of other Union policies, as exemplified in the previous MFF in certain individual cases; recalls that, for this purpose, the maximum amount for these projects is currently fixed in the MFF Regulation, and calls for similar provisions in the new regulation;

88.  Stresses the importance of and the EU’s leading role in preserving, protecting and improving the quality of the environment and tackling climate change, the degradation of ecosystems and biodiversity loss; considers that stable and appropriate funding is essential to achieving the EU’s international commitments such as the Paris Agreement; recalls that the next MFF should help the Union to achieve those objectives and should contribute to the transition to a low-carbon economy by 2050; underlines that the EU should not finance projects and investments that are contrary to the achievement of these goals; calls for the thorough climate mainstreaming of future EU spending; calls, in this respect, for the programmes concerned, such as LIFE+, to be properly funded and for their financial resources to be doubled, and for the establishment of dedicated envelopes for biodiversity and the management of the Natura 2000 network;

Stronger cohesion and solidarity in Europe

89.  Stresses that cohesion policy post-2020 should remain the main investment policy of the European Union covering all EU regions, in order to tackle complex socio-economic challenges while concentrating the majority of the resources on the most vulnerable regions; believes that, beyond the goal of reducing the disparities between levels of development and enhancing convergence as enshrined in the Treaty, cohesion policy should focus on the achievement of the EU’s broad EU political objectives and proposes, therefore, that under the next MFF, the three cohesion policy funds – the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the European Social Fund (ESF) and the Cohesion Fund – should concentrate mainly on providing support for growth and competitiveness, research and innovation, digitalisation, industrial transition, SMEs, transport, climate change mitigation and adaptation, environmental sustainability and just energy transition, employment, social inclusion, gender equality, poverty reduction, and demographic challenges; stresses that the three funds represent the integral components of EU cohesion policy, and can only operate jointly under the single framework of this policy; calls, moreover, for a reinforced territorial cooperation, including a cross-border component and an urban dimension for the policy, as well as dedicated provisions for rural, mountain, island and remote areas;

90.  Considers maintaining the financing of cohesion policy post-2020 for the EU-27 at least at the level of the 2014-2020 budget at constant prices to be of the utmost importance; stresses that GDP should remain one of the parameters for the allocation of cohesion policy funds, but believes that it should be complemented by an additional set of social, environmental and demographic indicators to better take into account new types of inequalities between and within EU regions in all Member States; supports, in addition, the continuation under the new programming period of the elements that rendered cohesion policy more modern and performance-oriented under the current MFF, i.e. the thematic concentration, the ex ante conditionalities, the performance framework and the link to economic governance;

91.  Is strongly committed to the commitments arising from Article 9 TFEU for the delivery of a social Europe and the implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights based on the sustainable growth of a highly competitive social market economy, aiming at full employment and social progress and promoting equality between women and men, solidarity between generations and protection of the rights of the child as enshrined in the Treaty; highlights that such implementation requires that social policies are properly financed and underlines the consequent need to reinforce the existing instruments contributing to these goals, notably the ESF, the Youth Employment Initiative, the Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived, the EGF and EaSI; insists that they are safeguarded in the next MFF and that they continue to be implemented predominantly through grants;

92.  Reiterates its call on the Commission and all Member States to establish a special fund dedicated to the Child Guarantee, placing children at the centre of expanding poverty alleviation policies and ensuring the corresponding resources for full implementation of the necessary policy measures, including helping parents to get out of social exclusion and unemployment through targeted interventions;

93.  Highlights that the ESF in particular should expand its support to the development of social dialogue, namely by improving the capacity building of social partners, including European sectoral and intersectoral levels, and that this commitment should become compulsory for Member States in all the regions of the EU;

94.  Emphasises in particular the continuous need to fight youth unemployment and exclusion, especially among young people not in education, employment or training (NEETs), as part of a comprehensive approach to youth policies at EU level; calls, therefore, for the Youth Employment Initiative envelope to be doubled, as well as for the full implementation of the EU Youth Guarantee, while ensuring quick and simplified deployment of funds and permanent and stable financing in the next programming period; underlines the need for an improved regulation in order to safeguard non-discriminatory participation in the programme for young people coming from a disadvantaged socio-economic background; considers that investment to boost education and training, especially the development of digital literacy, remains one of the top priorities of the EU; insists that this programme must not replace expenditure previously financed by national budgets;

95.  Expresses support for programmes in the areas of culture, education, media, youth, sport, democracy, citizenship and civil society that have clearly demonstrated their European added value and enjoy lasting popularity among beneficiaries; advocates, therefore, continuous investment in the Education and Training 2020 framework through the Erasmus+, Creative Europe and Europe for Citizens programmes, in order to pursue reaching out to people of all ages, especially young people; reiterates its support for strengthening the external dimension of the Erasmus+ and Creative Europe programmes; recommends, moreover, the continuation of the European Solidarity Corps, with adequate resources that do not come at the expense of other EU programmes; underlines also the significant contribution of the cultural and creative industries (CCIs) to growth and jobs in the EU;

96.  Recommends setting up an internal European Democracy Fund for the strengthened support of civil society and NGOs working in the fields of democracy and human rights, to be managed by the Commission;

97.  Calls, in particular, for the Erasmus+ envelope to be at least tripled in the next MFF with the aim of reaching many more young people, youth organisations and secondary school pupils and apprentices across Europe, providing them with valuable competences and life skills through lifelong learning, learner-centred, non-formal and informal learning opportunities, and volunteering and youth work; calls for particular attention to be paid to people coming from a disadvantaged socio-economic background so as to enable them to participate in the programme, as well as to people with disabilities;

98.  Calls on the Commission to follow up on the ‘18th Birthday Interrail Pass for Europe’ project and put forward a dedicated programme in the next MFF with sufficient annual appropriations to cover all applications for a free railway pass coming from young Europeans that turn 18 in a specific year; underlines that such a project would become a key component in increasing European consciousness and identity, especially in the face of threats such as populism and the spread of misinformation; reiterates that in order to reach the objective of such a programme a proposal for a proper legal base is expected from the Commission;

99.  Expects that in the post-2020 period the European Union will move from crisis-management mode to a permanent common European policy in the field of asylum and migration; stresses that actions in this field should be covered by a dedicated instrument, i.e. the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF); emphasises that the future fund, as well as the relevant Justice and Home Affairs agencies, must be equipped with an adequate level of funding for the whole of the next MFF in order to address the comprehensive challenges in this area; believes, furthermore, that the AMIF should be complemented by additional components tackling this issue under other policies, in particular the European Structural and Investment funds and the instruments financing external actions, as no single tool could hope to address the magnitude and complexity of needs in this field; recognises, moreover, the importance of cultural, educational, youth and sports programmes in integrating refugees and migrants into European society; asks the Commission to assess whether the role of European cities within the European asylum policy could be strengthened by introducing an incentive scheme that offers financial support for refugee accommodation and economic development directly to cities in return for receiving refugees and asylum seekers;

100.  Recognises the European added value of collaboration in addressing common public health threats; notes that no single Member State can tackle cross-border health challenges alone, and calls for the next MFF to reflect the EU’s responsibility to implement the SDG on public health, health systems and environment-related health problems, and to support Member States in eliminating growing health inequalities; considers that, on the basis of the positive outcome of the ongoing actions in this field, the next MFF should include a robust next-generation health programme that addresses these issues on a cross-border basis, e.g. by achieving innovative solutions for healthcare delivery, including digital health, such as the European Reference Networks, and that provides support to Member States in the form of expertise and exchange of data, evidence and good practice; recalls that good health is a prerequisite for achieving other goals set by the EU and that policies in such fields as agriculture, environment, employment, social issues or inclusion also have an impact on the health of Europeans; calls, therefore, for the strengthening of health impact assessments and for cross-sectoral cooperation in the next MFF in this field;

Stronger and sustainable agriculture and fisheries

101.  Affirms that a modernised common agricultural policy is fundamental for food security and autonomy, the preservation of rural populations and employment, sustainable development, environmental, agricultural and forestry sustainability, and the provision of healthy, high-quality and affordable food products for Europeans; points out that food and health requirements have increased, as well as the need to support farmers’ transition towards environmentally friendly farming practices and to tackle climate change; highlights the need to support farmers’ income security and strengthen the link between the CAP and the delivery of public goods; underlines that the CAP is one of the most integrated policies and is mainly financed at EU level and, therefore, replaces national spending;

102.  Stresses that the CAP budget in the next MFF should be at least maintained at its current level for the EU-27 at constant prices; stresses that the new challenges to be faced by the next CAP call for a sound financial allocation based on analyses of current policy and future needs; underlines that direct payments generate clear EU added value and strengthen the single market by avoiding distortions of competition between Member States; opposes any renationalisation and any national cofinancing for direct payments in that respect; stresses the need to continue measures maintaining production in sectors that are vital for vulnerable areas, to reform the agricultural crisis reserve, to increase funding in line with responses to the various cyclical crises in sensitive sectors, to create new instruments that can mitigate price volatility and to increase funding for Programmes of Options Specifically Relating to Remoteness and Insularity (POSEI); urges the Commission to continue the process of convergence of direct payments and to ensure the necessary financial and legal framework for the food supply chain in order to combat unfair trading practices; points out that rural areas in the EU face serious problems and therefore need specific support;

103.  Stresses the socioeconomic and ecological importance of the fisheries sector, the maritime environment and the ‘blue economy’ and their contribution to the sustainable food autonomy of the EU in terms of ensuring the sustainability of European aquaculture and fisheries and mitigating the environmental impact; points out that the common fisheries policy is an exclusive EU competence; emphasises, in this respect, the need to keep a specific, substantial, independent and accessible fisheries fund to implement this policy; calls for the re-establishment of the Programme of Options Specifically Relating to Remoteness and Insularity in Fisheries, as this is a very important programme for the EU’s outermost regions; calls, as a minimum, for the level of financial appropriations dedicated to the fisheries sector under the current MFF to be maintained and, if new needs arise, for an increase in the financial appropriations for maritime affairs; warns of the possible negative impacts of a hard Brexit on this sector; notes that other financial instruments, in addition to non-repayable aid, could provide complementary financing possibilities;

Stronger responsibility in the world

104.  Stresses that the world is facing multiple challenges, including conflicts, cyber-attacks, terrorism and radicalisation, disinformation, natural disasters, climate change and environmental degradation, human rights violations and gender inequality; believes that the Union has a particular political and financial responsibility which is founded on a genuinely European, rules- and values-based foreign policy, and on support for the stability, security, democratic governance and sustainable development of our partners, as well as on poverty eradication and crisis response;

105.  Emphasises that appropriations for external action should be significantly increased if the Union is to play its role in the framework of its global strategy and of its enlargement, neighbourhood and development policies, as well as in addressing emergencies; expects the next MFF to reflect the unprecedented needs of the southern and eastern neighbourhood countries that are struggling with conflicts and the consequences of the challenges presented by migration and refugees; calls for higher appropriations to be allocated to address the growing need for humanitarian aid arising from natural and manmade disasters, avoiding any gap between commitments and payments; believes that it is necessary for the Union to increase funding to the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA); stresses, moreover, the need for additional resources to finance an investment plan for Africa in order to promote inclusive growth and sustainable development, and thus tackle some of the root causes of irregular migration;

106.  Recalls that the EU’s development policy is driven by a series of commitments, notably the SDGs, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda on financing for development, the Paris climate agreement and the European Consensus on Development, as well as policy coherence for development and aid effectiveness principles; draws attention to the commitment by the EU and its Member States to increase their official development assistance (ODA) to 0,7 % of GDP by 2030, including 20 % of the EU’s ODA for social inclusion and human development and 0,2 % of the EU’s GNI in ODA for least developed countries;

107.  Notes that development assistance can play an important role in tackling the root causes of migration and contributing to stability, but considers that ODA should not be used to cover in-donor refugee costs; notes the potential role of ODA to facilitate the mobilisation of financing from other sources, and underlines the need for increased engagement with the private sector through a possible continuation of the External Investment Plan, building on its evaluation;

108.  Supports the direct provision of funding to civil society organisations and to human rights defenders, especially in third countries where democracy and the rule of law are at risk; stresses, in this respect, the need for the external financing instruments to respond rapidly to political developments and to strengthen the ‘more for more’ principle;

109.  Is ready to consider a simplified and streamlined architecture for the external financing instruments as long as it enhances transparency, accountability, efficiency, coherence and flexibility, and respects the objectives of the underlying policies; calls for maintaining separate dedicated instruments for Pre-accession Assistance, for the Neighbourhood, for Development and for Humanitarian aid by reason of their specific political and financial features; notes that such architecture should include a budgeted EDF on top of the agreed ceilings without the African Peace Facility, and a more transparent incorporation of relevant trust funds and facilities;

110.  Underlines the importance of enhanced flexibility to allow for the mobilisation of additional resources and for the swift deployment of funding; could consider, as part of an overall increase in the external financing instruments, a larger unallocated reserve aimed at increasing in-built flexibility; stresses, however, that such flexibility should not be achieved at the expense of long-term policy objectives and geographic and thematic priorities, the predictability of long-term funding, parliamentary scrutiny, and consultations with partner countries and civil society;

Security, peace and stability for all

111.  Believes that a new heading dedicated to ‘Security, peace and stability for all’ would demonstrate the priority given by the Union to this emerging policy responsibility, acknowledge its specificity, and achieve consistency between its internal and external dimensions;

112.  Stresses that the level and mechanisms of funding in the field of internal security should be stepped up from the outset and for the entire duration of the next MFF in order to avoid systematic recourse to the flexibility provisions of the MFF every year; calls for sufficient resources to be provided to law enforcement agencies (Europol, Eurojust and Cepol) and for the European Agency for the operational management of large-scale IT systems (eu-LISA) to be endowed with the means to implement and manage its new responsibilities; underlines the role of the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights in understanding and responding to the phenomena of radicalisation, marginalisation, hate speech and hate crime;

113.  Believes that the next MFF must support the establishment of a European Defence Union; looks forward to the relevant legislative proposals, following the Commission’s announcements in this areas, including a dedicated EU defence research programme and an industrial development programme complemented by Member States’ investment in collaborative equipment; reaffirms, in this context, its strong conviction that additional political priorities should be coupled with additional financial means; recalls that increased defence cooperation, the pooling of research and equipment and the elimination of duplications will boost the strategic autonomy and competitiveness of Europe’s defence industry and lead to considerable efficiency gains, often estimated at around EUR 26 billion per year;

114.  In the context of the increased attention given to security and defence in the Union, requests a reassessment of all external security expenditure; looks forward in particular to a reform of the Athena mechanism and of the African Peace Facility after the budgeting of the EDF; welcomes the recent commitments by Member States under permanent structured cooperation and asks the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and the Commission to provide clarification as regards its future financing; calls for a successor programme for the Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace focusing on crisis response and capacity building for security and development, while finding a legally sound solution for military capacity building;

115.  Stresses the paramount importance of the EU Civil Protection Mechanism, which has enabled coordinated EU assistance in natural and manmade disasters across the Union and beyond; points to the unquestionable added value of civil protection operations in effectively combating disasters, which are becoming all the more frequent and complex, while boosting the feeling of European solidarity among EU citizens in times of need; welcomes the recent Commission proposals to boost the EU’s civil protection by strengthening preparedness and prevention measures, including the establishment of a dedicated reserve of operational capacities at Union level; calls for reinforced action in this field to be coupled with adequate funding under the next MFF;

An efficient administration at the service of Europeans

116.  Considers that a strong, efficient and high-quality public administration is indispensable to the delivery of Union policies and to rebuild trust and strengthen dialogue with civil society organisations and citizens at all levels; underlines the role of the institutions made up by democratically elected members in that respect; recalls that, according to the Court of Auditors, the EU institutions, bodies and agencies have implemented the 5 % reduction in staff as set out in their establishment plans; takes the view that they should not be subject to a further horizontal reduction approach of this kind; expresses its fierce opposition towards a repetition of the so-called redeployment pool for agencies;

117.  Welcomes initiatives by the institutions, bodies and agencies to further enhance efficiency through increased administrative cooperation and the pooling of certain functions, thereby generating savings to the Union budget; highlights that, for certain agencies, further efficiency gains could be made, especially through increased cooperation among agencies with similar tasks, such as in the field of the financial market supervision and of agencies with multiple locations; calls, in a more general way, for a thorough assessment of the possibilities of grouping agencies according to the strategic nature of their mission and their results in order to create synergies among agencies, e.g. regarding the European Banking Authority and the European Securities and Markets Authority in Paris;

118.  Considers that the EU institutions and bodies should respect both a geographical balance and gender balance;

119.  Calls on the Commission to propose a mechanism whereby Member States that do not respect the values enshrined in Article 2 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU) can be subject to financial consequences; warns, however, that final beneficiaries of the Union budget can in no way be affected by breaches of rules for which they are not responsible; is convinced, therefore, that the Union budget is not the right instrument for addressing the failure to observe Article 2 TEU, and that any possible financial consequence should be borne by the Member State independently of budget implementation;

120.  Emphasises that the elimination of discriminations, as well as gender inequality and gender-based violence, is vital to fulfil the EU’s commitments towards an inclusive Europe; supports, therefore, gender mainstreaming and gender equality commitments in all EU policies under the next MFF, as well as a reinforced budgetary dimension in combating all instances of discrimination, with particular attention given to the gender dimension within migration and asylum policies and external EU policies;

121.  Stresses the need to ensure that women have access to sexual and reproductive services and that special attention be paid to the specific needs of vulnerable persons, including minors and other groups, such as the LGBTI community;

122.  Advocates that dedicated support be given to disadvantaged target groups, explicitly excluding segregational practices, especially persons with disabilities and Roma people, and in particular that the designation of ‘Roma people’ remains in the list of beneficiaries of the ESF and the ERDF;

123.  Notes that, due to their isolation from the European mainland, the outermost regions (ORs) and the Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs) have to contend with specific natural, economic, and social challenges; considers that tailored measures and duly justified derogations should be set up for them; calls for the continuity of the EU financial support to ORs and OCTs in the next MFF, notably under cohesion policy for ORs and under a specific instrument for OCTs, for their access to research programmes and for fighting the specific climate change challenges they face;

124.  Urges the Commission, for the sake of sound financial management and transparency in the European Union’s budget, to consider setting up proper conditions to prevent corruption and financial fraud concerning EU funds; expresses particular concern regarding customs fraud, which has created a significant loss of income for the Union budget; calls on the Member States that objected to the Union legal framework for customs infringements and sanctions to reconsider their position in order to allow for a speedy solution to this problem;

IV.Procedure and decision-making process

125.  Recalls that the adoption of the MFF Regulation requires Parliament’s consent; stresses, moreover, that Parliament and the Council are two equal arms of the budgetary authority in the adoption of the annual EU budget, while the sectoral legislation setting up the vast majority of EU programmes, including their financial envelopes, is decided under the ordinary legislative procedure; expects, therefore, a decision-making procedure on the next MFF that safeguards Parliament’s role and prerogatives as set out in the Treaties; insists that the MFF Regulation is not the appropriate place for changes to the EU Financial Regulation; urges the Commission to put forward a separate proposal for a revision of the EU Financial Regulation, whenever there is a need to make changes to that regulation;

126.  Expresses its readiness to enter immediately into a structural dialogue with the Commission and the Council on the post-2020 MFF with the aim of facilitating the subsequent negotiations and enabling an agreement by the end of this parliamentary term; stands ready to debate the positions set out in the current resolution with the Council, in order to allow for a better understanding of Parliament’s expectations on the next MFF;

127.  Underlines that, with the Commission’s proposals announced for May 2018, a formal decision on the next MFF should be taken within one year; considers that, despite an initial delay in the presentation of the Commission’s proposals, a timely agreement for the post-2020 framework should be achieved, in order to send an important political message regarding the Union’s capacity to further build consensus on the future of the EU and on the corresponding financial means; insists that this timetable will allow, inter alia, for the swift adoption of all sectoral regulations, thus enabling the new programmes to start without delay on 1 January 2021; recalls that, in previous financial frameworks, the new programmes were essentially launched some years after the beginning of the period;

128.  Considers that the newly elected Parliament may, acting by an absolute majority of its component members, within 6 months after the European elections request that the Commission propose a revision of the sectoral legislation setting up the EU successor programmes for the next MFF, adopted by the previous legislature;

129.  Underlines, therefore, the need for substantial discussions between the three institutions to be launched without delay; stresses that all elements of the MFF Regulation, including the MFF ceilings, will be part of the MFF negotiations and should remain on the table until a final agreement is reached; recalls, in this respect, Parliament’s critical stance on the procedure leading to the adoption of the current MFF Regulation and the dominant role that the European Council assumed in this process by deciding irrevocably on a number of elements, including the MFF ceilings and several sectoral policy‑related provisions;

130.  Is of the opinion that the procedures related to the upcoming MFF negotiations, and notably Parliament’s involvement in the different stages of this process, should be agreed without delay under the Bulgarian Presidency and before the presentation of the MFF proposals; expects, in this context, that the Commission will be providing Parliament with the same level of information that is made available to the Council in a timely manner; considers that these arrangements should eventually be enshrined in the IIA, as is the case for the annual budgetary procedure;

131.  Considers that the unanimity requirement for the adoption of the MFF Regulation represents a true impediment in the process; calls on the European Council, in this regard, to activate the passerelle clause provided for in Article 312(2) TFEU so as to allow for the adoption of the MFF Regulation by qualified majority; recalls, moreover, that the general passerelle clause set out in Article 48(7) TEU can also be deployed, in order to apply the ordinary legislative procedure; stresses that a shift towards qualified majority voting for the adoption of the MFF Regulation would be in line with the decision-making process for the adoption of virtually all EU multiannual programmes, as well as for the annual procedure for adopting the EU budget;

o
o   o

132.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the other institutions and bodies concerned, and the governments and parliaments of the Member States.

(1) OJ L 347, 20.12.2013, p. 884.
(2) OJ L 163, 24.6.2017, p. 1.
(3) OJ C 373, 20.12.2013, p. 1.
(4) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0309.
(5) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0401.
(6) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0010.
(7) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0363.
(8) OJ L 282, 19.10.2016, p. 1.
(9) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2018)0076.


Reform of the European Union’s system of own resources
PDF 549kWORD 63k
European Parliament resolution of 14 March 2018 on reform of the European Union’s system of own resources (2017/2053(INI))
P8_TA(2018)0076A8-0041/2018

The European Parliament,

—  having regard to Articles 311 and 332(2) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU),

—  having regard to Articles 106a and 171 of the Treaty establishing the European Atomic Energy Community,

—  having regard to Council Decision 2014/335/EU, Euratom of 26 May 2014 on the system of own resources of the European Union(1),

—  having regard to Council Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 608/2014 of 26 May 2014 laying down implementing measures for the system of own resources of the European Union(2),

—  having regard to Council Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 609/2014 of 26 May 2014 on the methods and procedure for making available the traditional, VAT and GNI-based own resources and on the measures to meet cash requirements(3),

—  having regard to the Commission communication to the European Parliament and the Council of 21 September 2017 entitled ‘A Fair and Efficient Tax System in the European Union for the Digital Single Market’ (COM(2017)0547),

—  having regard to its resolution of 29 March 2007 on the future of the European Union’s own resources(4),

—  having regard to its resolution of 8 June 2011 entitled ‘Investing in the future: a new Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) for a competitive, sustainable and inclusive Europe’(5),

—  having regard to its resolution of 15 April 2014 entitled ‘Negotiations on the MFF 2014‑2020: lessons to be learned and the way forward’(6),

—  having regard to its position of 16 April 2014 on the draft Council decision on the system of own resources of the European Union(7),

—  having regard to its position of 17 December 2014’(8) on the system of the European Communities’ own resources,

—  having regard to its resolution of 6 July 2016(9) on the preparation of the post-electoral revision of the MFF 2014-2020,

—  having regarding to the report ‘Future financing of the EU – final report and recommendations of the High Level Group on Own Resources’ of December 2016,

—  having regard to Article 1 of the Decision of the Conference of Presidents of 12 December 2002 on the procedure for granting authorisation to draw up own-initiative reports,

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

—  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgets and the opinions of the Committee on International Trade, the Committee on Budgetary Control, the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs, the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety, the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development and the Committee on Constitutional Affairs (A8-0041/2018),

A.  whereas, under the Treaty of Rome of 25 March 1957, the European Economic Community was to be financed by national contributions for a transitional period only, and subsequently by a system of own resources;

B.  whereas the Luxembourg European Council of April 1970 decided on a system of own resources, ending national contributions and introducing two genuine own resources, namely agricultural levies and customs duties, complemented by a third resource based on value added tax (VAT);

C.  whereas in June 1988 the European Council introduced an own resource based on Member States’ GNI, on the grounds that the revenues generated from the existing own resources were insufficient to cover total expenditure under the EU budget;

D.  whereas the share of the GNI-based resource has significantly increased, from around 11 % in 1988 to 69 % in 2014, turning de facto this ‘residual’ and ‘balancing’ resource into the largest source of revenue of the EU budget today; whereas the VAT resource currently accounts for around 12 % of the EU budget, the traditional own resources (customs duties, agricultural duties and sugar and isoglucose levies) for around 13 % and the remaining percentage is covered by other revenue, including taxes paid by EU staff or fines paid by companies in breach of competition law;

E.  whereas, since the introduction in 1984 at the Fontainebleau European Council of the British rebate, whereby 66 % of the UK’s net contribution is reimbursed, various other rebates and correction mechanisms have been progressively introduced in order to address the shortcomings of the so-called ‘operating budgetary balances’ of certain Member States; whereas such corrections currently concern principally either a reduction in the financing of the UK correction, or a gross reduction in the GNI or VAT contribution;

F.  whereas Parliament has highlighted in a number of resolutions over the past decade the problems and complexity of the EU’s own resources system and has called repeatedly for an in-depth reform to render the system simpler, more transparent and more democratic, including the introduction of new and genuine own resources that should, progressively and to the extent possible, replace the GNI-based contributions;

G.  whereas in 2011 the Commission put forward an ambitious legislative package on own resources (COM(2011)0510), presented jointly with the 2014-2020 MFF proposals, with a view to achieving the simplification of Member States’ contributions, the introduction of new own resources – a reformed VAT and a Financial Transaction Tax (FTT) – and the reform of correction mechanisms; whereas these proposals were ignored by the Council;

H.  whereas, as a result of the 2014-2020 MFF negotiations, a High Level Group on Own Resources (HLGOR) was established, including representatives of all three main EU institutions and chaired by Mario Monti; whereas in December 2016 the HLGOR presented its final report and recommendations, which represent the basis for the elaboration of Parliament’s position as set out in the present resolution; highlights that this report was adopted unanimously by all of the group’s members, including those members appointed by the Council;

1.  Notes that the Commission will present its proposals on the post-2020 MFF by May 2018; requires that the future MFF proposed by the Commission include ambitious proposals to revise the Own Resources Decision and all related legislative acts, as well as to introduce new own resources; underlines that both the expenditure and the revenue side of the next MFF will be treated as a single package in the upcoming negotiations between the Council and Parliament; states that no agreement will be reached on the MFF without corresponding headway being made on own resources;

2.  Presents this resolution in order to express its position on the main elements of the reform of the EU’s system of own resources, including the composition of a basket of new own resources, as well as the elements of the current system that should remain in place; calls on the Commission to take due account of Parliament’s position in preparing the legislative proposals on the EU’s own resources, which should be ambitious in scope and presented together with the post-2020 MFF proposals; is convinced of the imperative need to make significant progress on the revenue side of the EU budget, in order to facilitate an agreement on the next MFF;

I.Legal framework and decision-making process

3.  Recalls that Article 311 TFEU states: ‘The Union shall provide itself with the means necessary to attain its objectives and carry out its policies. Without prejudice to other revenue, the budget shall be financed wholly from own resources’; stresses, therefore, that the legal requirement to provide the EU budget with genuine own resources derives directly from the Treaty;

4.  Recalls that Article 310 TFEU stipulates that ‘the revenue and expenditure shown in the budget shall be in balance’; notes, accordingly, that the revenue should cover the totality of expenditure, as adopted every year by the budgetary authority; stresses that the EU budget cannot run an annual deficit or be financed by borrowing money on the financial markets;

5.  Notes that the main legislative act setting out the provisions relating to the own resources system, the so-called Own Resources Decision (ORD), is adopted by the Council acting unanimously after consulting Parliament, and that this decision is subject to ratification by all Member States; underlines that this is one of the heaviest legislative procedures foreseen in the Treaty;

6.  Notes that, in this legislative act, the Council sets inter alia the ceiling of own resources, and may establish new categories of own resources or abolish an existing category; underlines that even if the ORD has no expiry date, it is directly linked to the respective MFF that sets the maximum level of expenditure for the same period it covers;

7.  Recalls that the Treaty of Lisbon introduced new provisions regarding the implementing legislation on own resources, providing for the possibility of the Council adopting a regulation by qualified majority after obtaining the consent of Parliament; regrets, however, that several implementing provisions, especially those relating to the calculation of the GNI resources, still remain in the ORD; therefore calls for a smoother adoption procedure for the ORD; calls on the Council and the Commission, in the context of a future Treaty revision, to support Parliament’s demand for the modification of Article 311 TFEU in order to reinforce Parliament’s role in the procedure for the adoption of own resources;

8.  Recalls that Member States are responsible for their fiscal policies, and underlines that the power to levy taxes lies at the heart of Member States’ sovereignty; underlines that the reform of EU own resources does not represent a transfer of national sovereignty in this area, but, rather, aligns the current system with the spirit and the letter of the EU Treaties;

II.Reasons for reforming the current own resources system

i.Need to address shortcomings of the existing system

9.  Stresses that the current system of own resources is highly complex, unfair, non-transparent and totally incomprehensible to the EU’s citizens; points in particular to the opacity of the calculations relating to the national rebates and correction mechanisms which apply to the system of own resources or the statistical VAT-based resource; stresses, moreover, that this system is not subject to any effective parliamentary control at EU level and in essence lacks democratic legitimacy and accountability;

10.  Underlines that the way the system of own resources has evolved, gradually replacing genuine own resources by the so-called ‘national contributions’, places a disproportionate emphasis on net balances between Member States, thus largely ignoring the contribution of the EU budget to achieving common European objectives to the benefit of all EU citizens; regrets, therefore, that the total share of national contributions to the EU budget, calculated either on the basis of GNI or as a percentage of the statistical VAT-based resource, represents around 83 % of total EU revenue;

11.  Is convinced that the dominance of the GNI resource has reinforced the budgetary logic of juste retour (‘fair return’) that has monopolised the debates in Council, on both the revenue and expenditure sides of the EU budget; points, in this context, to the introduction of the British rebate and a series of related rebates and other correction mechanisms on the revenue side, on the one hand, as well as the inability to agree on a sufficient level of appropriations for the EU budget in the annual budgetary procedure, on the other hand; is of the opinion that the EU must depart from the concept of net operating balance, as in practice all Member States are beneficiaries of the EU Budget;

12.  Considers, in particular, that the decision on the size of the annual EU budget is affected by political and financial considerations at national level, imposing constraints on the budgetary negotiations that often result in a zero-sum game between net payers and net beneficiaries in the Council; ignoring the Union commitments, including the ones made by the Council; considers that, as a result, a number of EU policies that show the highest European added value are often the areas where cost savings are proposed and that the EU project as such is thus weakened;

13.  Notes that the national contributions to the EU budget are clearly identified on the expenditure side of national budgets and are often perceived as a financial burden, outweighing the benefits triggered by areas of EU expenditure that are often less visible; stresses, in this regard, the need to address the lack of public awareness of the benefits of the EU budget;

14.  Is convinced, therefore, that the current system of own resources violates, in essence, the letter and the spirit of the Treaty; reiterates its long-standing position that an in-depth reform of EU resources is imperative in order to realign the financing of the EU budget with the requirements of the Treaty and the needs of the Union as a whole;

ii. Need to enable the Union to finance its policies and meet new challenges

15.  Underlines that the post 2020-MFF will need to ensure the proper financing of EU policies and programmes with a clear European added value, but also to provide additional means for addressing challenges that have already been identified in fields such as growth and jobs, climate change, environmental protection, competitiveness, cohesion, innovation, migration, control of the EU’s external borders, security and defence;

16.  Stresses, moreover, the need to avoid the shortcomings of the current MFF and to provide from the outset for a level of resources that will enable the Union to pursue its policy agenda with adequate financing and to respond effectively to unforeseen events or crises that may occur during the period of the next financial framework; stresses the need to solve the recurrent problem of lack of sufficient payment appropriations in the annual budgetary procedure; recalls the substantial mobilisation of the MFF flexibility provisions that was needed in order to confront the migration and refugee crisis alone;

17.  Expects that, without prejudice to the financial settlement, the consequences of the withdrawal of the UK from the EU will represent an important challenge also for the next MFF and all related budgetary decisions; is convinced that, ahead of a decision on the post-2020 MFF, the ‘Brexit gap’ should be bridged while guaranteeing that EU resources are not reduced and that EU programmes are not affected negatively;

18.  Welcomes the proposal made by the President of the Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, for the creation of a specific line dedicated to the euro area within the EU budget, included in his ‘state of the union’ speech to the European Parliament and further developed in the Commission communication of 6 December 2017 on new budgetary instruments for a stable euro area within the Union framework (COM(2017)0822); calls, to this end, for a budgetary capacity within the EU budget over and above the current ceilings;

III.Towards an acceptable and balanced system of own resources

i.Principles and assumptions governing the setting-up of a new own resources system

19.  Favours, in order to provide stable finances at EU level, the establishment of a transparent, simpler and fairer new system of own resources, building on elements of the current system where they have proved effective; considers that the reform of the system of own resources should be based on a series of guiding principles;

20.  Stresses the need to link revenues to policy objectives, in particular to the single market, the energy union, and the environment, climate and transport policies; is convinced in this respect that the EU budget should focus on policies with European added value as defined in its resolution of 24 October 2017 on the Reflection Paper on the Future of EU Finances(10);

21.  Underlines, from an operational point of view, that new own resources cannot all be introduced at the same time, and points out the need for progressive implementation; considers therefore that the reform of the system of own resources could be achieved through a two-step approach: first, by introducing less technically complex own resources whose collection is easily manageable at a reasonable cost, and second, by gradually introducing each additional new own resource, on the basis of a fixed timetable until all have reached cruising speed;

22.  Considers that the introduction of new own resources should have a dual purpose, i.e. first, to bring about a substantial reduction (aiming at 40 %) in the proportion of GNI-based contributions, thus creating savings for Member State budgets; and second, to enable the financing of an higher level of EU spending under the post-2020 MFF, also covering the gap resulting from the withdrawal of the UK; recalls in this context that the new own resources do not aim to increase the overall fiscal burden for the EU taxpayer, who should not be affected by the introduction of new own resources;

23.  Calls for the abolition of all rebates and corrections, while ensuring fair treatment between Member States; underlines in this context that Brexit will mean that the UK rebate and the related ‘rebates on the rebate’ will become obsolete and cease to exist, while reform of the statistical VAT-based own resource will become inevitable;

24.  Considers that the traditional own resources, namely customs duties, agricultural duties and the sugar and isoglucose levies, constitute a reliable and genuine source of EU revenue, as they arise directly from the EU being a customs union and from the legal competences and common commercial policy linked to that; takes the view, therefore, that the traditional own resources should be retained as a source of revenue for the EU budget; considers that if the proportion of collection costs retained by Member States is reduced, a bigger share of this revenue can be secured for the EU budget;

25.  Acknowledges that the GNI-based contribution provides a reliable, stable and fair source of revenue for the EU budget, and benefits from very strong support from a large majority of Member States; believes, therefore, that it should be preserved but only as a balancing and residual resource for the EU budget, which would put an end to the budgetary logic of ‘fair return’; stresses the need, in this context, to ensure that the GNI contribution is classified in the same manner in all national budgets, namely as revenue attributed to the EU and not as expenditure of national governments;

ii. Criteria used to identify new own resources

26.  Shares the view of the report of the High Level Group on Own Resources (HLGOR), according to which the following criteria are to be taken into account for identifying potential new own resources: equity/fairness; efficiency; sufficiency and stability; transparency and simplicity; democratic accountability and budgetary discipline; focus on European added value; the subsidiarity principle and fiscal sovereignty of Member States; and limiting political transaction costs;

27.  Calls on the Commission, on the above basis, to examine the introduction of the following basket of new own resources;

iii. Basket of possible new own resources

a. Objective: Consolidate the single market, increase its transparency and improve the level playing field

– Value added tax

28.  Recalls that, since its inception almost 50 years ago, VAT has been used as a base for calculating one of the own resources of the EU budget, and that this resource currently represents around 12 % of EU revenue;

29.  Notes, however, that the current system has serious shortcomings: the resource is calculated on a statistical basis; it is unnecessarily complex and has no direct link to the citizens; it represents a mere transfer of a part of revenue collected by the Member States, and thus brings no added value compared to the GNI resource; and the contribution base is not transparent and there is no equality among taxpayers;

30.  Deplores the fact that OLAF has repeatedly found severe cases of customs fraud in Member States leading to a significant loss of income for the Union budget; draws attention to the Special Report 19/2017 of the European Court of Auditors entitled ‘Import procedures: shortcomings in the legal framework and an ineffective implementation impact the financial interests of the EU’, and is concerned that fraudsters could continue to find the ‘weakest link’ among Member States as their point of entry into the customs union, and that losses to the Union budget could continue even during the next MFF; calls on the Commission and the Member States to take the necessary measures to stop these activities that are damaging to the Union budget;

31.  Recalls the legislative proposal of 2011 on a new VAT resource, which would have resulted in the application of a fixed EU-wide rate based on the net value of supplies of goods and services or on imports of goods to which a standard, common rate of VAT would have applied; notes that although this proposal did not go through, the European Council of February 2013 encouraged the Council to continue working on this dossier; believes that the current context offers a window of opportunity allowing for a possible breakthrough in this matter;

32.  Welcomes the High Level Group’s proposal for its vision of the VAT-based own resource with the aim of making it simpler, lowering its administrative costs and strengthening the link between EU VAT policy and actual VAT receipts;

33.  Takes note of the Commission’s Action Plan on VAT (‘Towards a Single EU VAT area – Time to decide’) published on 7 April 2016 (COM(2016)0148), and of the subsequent proposal of 4 October 2017 for a series of fundamental principles and key reforms for the EU’s VAT area; supports an in-depth reform of the VAT system in the EU, which should aim at broadening the tax base, reducing the scope for fraud and compliance costs, and generating new revenue; considers that a fraction of such new revenue should be allocated to the EU budget;

34.  Considers that a simplified VAT resource should be built on the common denominator of VAT systems across the EU, and notes that consequently it would not eliminate all national specificities which are justified for a variety of reasons;

35.  Is in favour of setting a uniform levy rate (1 % to 2 %) on the revenue from the reformed VAT collected entirely by Member State administrations as a Union own resource; believes that such a system could provide significant and stable receipts for the EU at limited administrative cost;

36.  Underlines that the Commission has already put forward legislative proposals for a major reform of the EU’s VAT rules, and that additional initiatives are expected in 2018; insists on the need to complete the VAT reform as soon as possible and at the latest before the start of the next MFF;

37.  Calls on the Commission, pending the adoption of the relevant VAT legislation, to present a proposal for a reformed own resource based on VAT as part of its upcoming legislative package on EU own resources; believes that such a proposal should take account of the main outcomes of the VAT reform currently under discussion;

– Corporate income tax

38.  Recalls that in its resolution of 6 July 2016 on tax rulings and other measures similar in nature or effect(11) Parliament urged the Commission to present a proposal for a common consolidated corporate tax base (CCCTB), ‘to be accompanied by an appropriate and fair distribution key which would provide a comprehensive solution for dealing with harmful tax practices within the Union, bring clarity and simplicity for businesses, and facilitate cross-border economic activities within the Union’;

39.  Takes notes of the Commission’s proposals for a CCCTB, while recalling its request that this consolidated base be extended to all companies after a transition period; stresses that current proposals for a CCCTB should also cover the digital economy; suggests, on the basis of these proposals, that the digital presence of a company should be treated in the same way as its physical establishment, by defining and identifying a permanent digital establishment;

40.  Agrees with the HLGOR’s assessment of the CCCTB as a basis for a new own resource, meeting all the criteria set by the Group; underlines that the CCCTB is also a key element in the development of the single market, which is a European public good, as it prevents both inappropriate tax competition between Member States and fiscal optimisation damaging to the level playing field;

41.  Recalls that tax evasion in all its forms causes the EU to lose an amount estimated by the Commission at EUR 1 trillion annually; stresses the need to reinstate uncollected tax revenue through a coordinated anti-fraud and tax evasion policy and a framework based on transparency, cooperation and coordination;

42.  Asks the Commission, drawing on the conclusions of the review of the CCCTB Directive, to propose the creation of a new own resource for the Union budget, to be calculated on the basis of Member States’ revenue generated from the CCCTB; is in favour of setting a uniform levy rate on the revenue from the CCCTB, to be collected as an own resource; believes that such a system could provide significant and stable receipts for the EU at limited administrative cost;

– Seigniorage

43.  Is of the opinion that income stemming from the European Central Bank profits (ECB revenue made from issuing currency), and thus having a direct link to the EU monetary union, should form the basis of a new own resource instead of being paid out to national treasuries; considers that such a resource should be directly linked to the specific line dedicated to the euro area in the EU budget;

b. Objective: Reduce financial speculation and strengthen tax fairness in sectors that use aggressive tax planning instruments or aggressive tax optimisation.

– A financial transaction tax (FTT) at European level

44.  Encourages the efforts undertaken under enhanced cooperation by a group of 11 Member States with a view to establishing financial transaction tax (FTT), following the 2011 Commission proposal; urges all the other Member States to join the above-mentioned group in order to avoid a disruption of the financial markets and ensure the smooth functioning of the single market;

45.  Shares the HLGOR’s assessment endorsing the FTT as a potential basis for a new own resource for the Union budget, while also considering that other means of taxing financial activities should be explored;

46.  Calls, therefore, for the creation of a new own resource for the Union budget, to be calculated on the basis of a chosen method of taxation of financial activities;

– Taxation of companies in the digital sector

47.  Welcomes the conclusions of the informal Council of finance ministers of 16 September 2017 calling for the development of new digital taxation rules, in response to the Four Finance Ministers’ letter requesting the Commission to examine ‘effective solutions based on the concept of establishing a so-called equalisation tax’ on the turnover generated in the EU by digital companies; stresses that in its communication of 21 September 2017 on ‘A fair and efficient tax system in the European Union for the Digital Single Market’, the Commission reaffirms that the CCCTB provides a framework conducive to a revision of the rules in favour of modern and stable arrangements for the taxation of digital companies and addressing the tax challenges posed by the digital economy; calls for an EU-level coordinated approach, even for short-term solutions, to prevent distortions in the single market arising from unilateral action and avoid the creation of tax havens for digital companies;

48.  Agrees that the digital economy should have a modern and stable fiscal framework, in order to stimulate innovation, tackle market fragmentation and unfair competition, and enable all players to take advantage of the new equitable and balanced conditions while making sure that digital platforms and companies pay their due share of taxes where they generate their profits; points out, moreover, that it is essential to ensure tax certainty for business investment in order to close the current gaps and to prevent the emergence of new tax loopholes within the single market;

49.  Considers it crucial that tax measures be taken for the digital market in order to limit tax evasion and distortions, aggressive tax planning or fiscal optimisation schemes, and the misuse of European mechanisms to avoid tax; considers that these practices distort competition in the single market and deprive Member States of due tax revenues;

50.  Calls, in principle, for the creation of a new own resource for the Union budget to be levied on transactions in the digital economy; considers, however, that in view of the important ongoing negotiations at both EU and OECD level, it is too early to decide on the exact arrangements for the establishment of such a resource;

51.  Believes, nevertheless, that any arrangements made by the EU authorities, such as registration or monitoring systems or regulatory mechanisms, should immediately permit the collection of duties or levies for the benefit of the Union budget on the basis of their European added value; considers that these are EU public goods which, as the HLGOR states, provide a basis for establishing a levy that constitutes ‘other revenue’ deriving from Union policies;

c. Objective: Promote the energy transition and the fight against global warming

– Environmental tax and levies

52.  Confirms that the fight against climate change, as well as the transition towards a sustainable, circular, low carbon economy and the commonly agreed Energy Union targets, are a major objective of EU policies;

53.  Reiterates its conviction that only common energy or environmental taxes at EU level can ensure fair competition among businesses and the proper functioning of the single market, and thus act as an engine for moving towards a more progressive and sustainable development model;

54.  Stresses the importance of green taxation as a particularly suitable mechanism for contributing to European own resources; calls on the Commission to further incorporate the proposals for additional ecological own resources, as outlined in the HLGOR Report and by the Commissioner for the EU budget, which are in line with certain Union policies such as those on energy (energy tax), environment and climate (carbon border adjustment mechanism, plastic tax and the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS)) and transport (road fuel and air ticket taxes), in order to promote additional future Union own resources;

55.  Calls for an important share of ETS auctioning revenues from Phase 4 (2021) onwards to be considered as a new EU own resource; recalls that this option has been discussed in the HLGOR, and is explicitly suggested by the Commission in its communication of 14 February 2018 entitled ‘A new, modern MFF for a European Union that delivers efficiently on its priorities post-2020’ (COM(2018)0098); calls, in parallel, for the introduction of a carbon border adjustment mechanism, as a new own resource for the EU budget, which should also have the effect of ensuring a level playing field in international trade and reducing the offshoring of production, while internalising the costs of climate change into the prices of imported goods;

56.  Asks the Commission to consider the introduction at EU level of a levy on plastic and single-use items, with a view to encouraging the use of more sustainable alternatives;

57.  Believes that own resources based on an electricity tax would overlap with the scope of the ETS and would raise concerns as to the stability of investment conditions and the financial burden on households;

58.  Considers that in case of an excessive burden on a given Member State caused by one or another own resource, such a burden could be alleviated by means of additional support through EU programmes, limited in duration and amount, in line with the Union objectives and targets; underlines that such support cannot be granted through the introduction of any new rebates or corrections on the revenue side of the EU budget;

59.  Underlines that the introduction of environment-related taxes or levies should not affect Member States’ right to determine the conditions for exploiting their energy resources, their choice between different energy sources and the general structure of their energy supply;

iv. Other revenue sources

60.  Recalls that although own resources should be the main component of EU budget revenue, they are nevertheless supplemented by what Article 311 TFEU calls ‘other revenue’, which includes: tax paid by EU staff on their salaries; revenue from the administrative operation of institutions, such as proceeds from the sale of goods, renting and hiring, the provision of services and bank interest; contributions from non-EU countries to certain EU programmes; interest on late payments; fines paid by companies, in most cases where found to be in breach of EU competition law; and revenue from EU borrowing and lending operations;

61.  Notes that the balance from each financial year is entered in the budget for the following year as revenue in the case of a surplus, and that other revenue, balances and technical adjustments, including the surplus of the previous year, amount to around 6 % of total revenue; stresses that in recent years ‘other revenue’ has for the most part consisted of fines, which alone represent 2,5 % of total revenue (excluding assigned revenue);

62.  Regrets that the potential of such other revenue has been neglected so far in the debate on the financing of the EU; believes that, even if such revenue does not represent an alternative to other own resources because of its level, volatility and unpredictability, it nonetheless represents a possible means for covering the increased financial needs under the next MFF;

63.  Recalls that the legal procedures governing such revenue and possible amendments are more flexible than those for own resources, since they are established not in the Own Resources Decision, but, rather, in the secondary legislation and are therefore not subject to the unanimity requirement;

64.  Reiterates its long-standing position that any revenue resulting from fines imposed on companies for breaching EU competition law or linked to late payments of national contributions to the EU budget should constitute extra revenue for the EU budget without entailing a corresponding reduction in GNI contributions;

65.  Calls, to this end, for a special reserve to be established in the EU budget, which will be progressively filled up by all types of unforeseen other revenue and duly carried over in order to provide additional spending possibilities when needs arise; considers that this reserve should be earmarked for the MFF special instruments and should provide for additional top-ups, both in commitments and payments, upon a decision by the budgetary authority;

66.  Underlines the potential for the EU budget of fees required for the implementation of EU policies and in particular European schemes, such as the future European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) for third-country nationals; considers that in certain cases such revenue could be earmarked for the same policy or purpose; considers that for the post-2020 generation of EU programmes and policies, this type of prospective income should be considered more systematically, with the aim of providing the EU budget with an additional source of revenue;

67.  Highlights that in 2016, revenues assigned to EU decentralised agencies, such as fees and charges from industries and contributions from national budgets, amounted to approximately EUR 1 billion; asks the Commission to propose a consistent approach as regards the financing of agencies from fees in the next MFF;

o
o   o

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

(1) OJ L 168, 7.6.2014, p. 105.
(2) OJ L 168, 7.6.2014, p. 29.
(3) OJ L 168, 7.6.2014, p. 39.
(4) OJ C 27 E, 31.1.2008, p. 214.
(5) OJ C 380 E, 11.12.2012, p. 89.
(6) OJ C 443, 22.12.2017, p. 11.
(7) OJ C 443, 22.12.2017, p. 994.
(8) OJ C 294, 12.8.2016, p. 82.
(9) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0309.
(10) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0401.
(11) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0310.


European Semester for economic policy coordination: Annual Growth Survey 2018
PDF 264kWORD 49k
European Parliament resolution of 14 March 2018 on the European Semester for economic policy coordination: Annual Growth Survey 2018 (2017/2226(INI))
P8_TA(2018)0077A8-0047/2018

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) and in particular Articles 121(2), 136 and 148 thereof,

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 1175/2011 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 November 2011 amending Council Regulation (EC) No 1466/97 on the strengthening of the surveillance of budgetary positions and the surveillance and coordination of economic policies(1),

–  having regard to Council Directive 2011/85/EU of 8 November 2011 on requirements for budgetary frameworks of the Member States(2),

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 1174/2011 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 November 2011 on enforcement measures to correct excessive macroeconomic imbalances in the euro area(3),

–  having regard to Council Regulation (EU) No 1177/2011 of 8 November 2011 amending Regulation (EC) No 1467/97 on speeding up and clarifying the implementation of the excessive deficit procedure(4),

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 1176/2011 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 November 2011 on the prevention and correction of macroeconomic imbalances(5),

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 1173/2011 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 November 2011 on the effective enforcement of budgetary surveillance in the euro area(6),

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 473/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 May 2013 on common provisions for monitoring and assessing draft budgetary plans and ensuring the correction of excessive deficit of the Member States in the euro area(7),

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 472/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 May 2013 on the strengthening of economic and budgetary surveillance of Member States in the euro area experiencing or threatened with serious difficulties with respect to their financial stability(8),

–  having regard to the assessment of the European Fiscal Board of 20 June 2017 on the prospective fiscal stance appropriate for the euro area,

–  having regard to the conclusions of the European Council of 25-26 March 2010 and 17 June 2010, as well as 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 Council Recommendation (EU) 2015/1184 of 14 July 2015 on broad guidelines for the economic policies of the Member States and of the European Union(9),

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) 2015/1017 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 June 2015 on the European Fund for Strategic Investments, the European Investment Advisory Hub and the European Investment Project Portal and amending Regulations (EU) No 1291/2013 and (EU) No 1316/2013 – the European Fund for Strategic Investments(10),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 13 January 2015 on making the best use of the flexibility within the existing rules of the Stability and Growth Pact (COM(2015)0012),

–  having regard to its resolution of 24 June 2015 on the review of the economic governance framework: stocktaking and challenges(11),

–  having regard to the Report on completing Europe’s economic and monetary union (‘Five Presidents’ Report’),

–  having regard to the Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance in the Economic and Monetary Union,

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 21 October 2015 on steps towards Completing Economic and Monetary Union (COM(2015)0600),

–  having regard to the Commission’s communication of 6 December 2017 on further steps towards completing the Economic and Monetary Union (COM(2017)0821),

–  having regard to the Commission’s European Economic Forecast of Autumn 2017,

–  having regard to the studies and in-depth analyses on economic policy coordination in the euro area under the European Semester prepared for the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs (November 2015),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 26 November 2015 on the Annual Growth Survey 2016 (COM(2015)0690), the Alert Mechanism Report 2016 (COM(2015)0691) and the draft Joint Employment Report (COM(2015)0700),

–  having regard the Interinstitutional Proclamation on the European Pillar of Social Rights signed and proclaimed in Gothenburg on 17 November 2017,

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) 2017/825 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 May 2017 on the establishment of the Structural Reform Support Programme for the period 2017 to 2020 and amending Regulations (EU) No 1303/2013 and (EU) No 1305/2013,

–  having regard to its resolution of 17 December 2015 on completing Europe’s Economic and Monetary Union(12),

–  having regard to its recommendation of 13 December 2017 to the Council and the Commission following the inquiry into money laundering, tax avoidance and tax evasion(13),

–  having regard to the Commission recommendation of 22 November 2017 for a Council recommendation on the economic policy of the euro area (COM(2017)0770),

–  having regard to the debate with representatives of national parliaments on the priorities of the 2018 European Semester,

–  having regard to the debate with the Commission in the European Parliament on the European Semester package – Annual Growth Survey 2018,

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs and the opinions of the Committee on Budgets, the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety, the Committee on Regional Development and the position in the form of amendments of the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality (A8-0047/2018),

A.  whereas, according to Commission forecasts, while the expansion of the European economy is expected to continue, the pace of job creation and household purchasing power growth implies a slight loss of momentum over the next two years, with growth reaching 2,4 % in 2017 in the EU and then marginally slowing down to 2,2 % in 2018 and to 2,0 % in 2019; whereas further policy action will nonetheless be required to address unresolved legacies of the global economic crisis;

B.  whereas the current situation of the EU’s economy calls for ambitious and socially balanced structural reforms and investment in Member States in order to bring about sustained growth, employment and competitiveness, and achieve upward convergence;

C.  whereas private consumption growth is expected to drop slightly this year before easing in 2019, as a result of higher inflation compared to 2017, although it is lower than the ECB target of below, but close to, 2 %;

D.  whereas the European Investment Bank and the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) have, in addition to the European Structural and Investment Funds, provided important support for investment in the EU; whereas, however, private investment still remains below 2008 levels, with negative implications for potential growth, job creation and productivity;

E.  whereas employment is expected to continue to expand, with a record 235,4 million people in jobs in the second quarter of 2017; while some labour market indicators suggest persistent difficulties, such as increasing labour market segmentation, aggravating inequalities, especially with regard to young people and those with low educational attainment; whereas unemployment stands at 7,5 % in the EU and 8,9 % in the euro area, which, while the lowest levels in nine and eight years, respectively, is still too high, particularly among young people; whereas very substantial differences between many Member States persist, and whereas employment rates have still some way to go to recover from the crisis and, not the least, to attain the Europe 2020 national targets; whereas hidden unemployment (of persons unemployed, willing to work, but not actively searching for employment) stood at 20 % in 2016;

F.  whereas, as a result of tax avoidance, tax evasion and tax fraud benefiting certain large corporations and individuals, several Member States have lost billions of euros in revenue for managing public finances, to the detriment of SMEs and other taxpayers;

G.  whereas the improved economic situation provides opportunities for implementing ambitious and socially balanced structural reforms, in particular measures to encourage investment, given that the level of investment as a proportion of GDP today is still lower than in the period immediately preceding the financial crisis, and to improve the situation with regard to public finances, taking into account the burden that demographic developments place on their debt sustainability;

1.  Takes note of the publication of the 2018 Annual Growth Survey (AGS) package and the proposed policy mix of investments, ambitious and socially balanced structural reforms and responsible public finances, presented as a means of further promoting higher growth levels and strengthening European recovery, upward convergence and competitiveness; agrees that further progress on the implementation of structural reform is needed to deliver on growth and jobs, and to carry on the fight against those inequalities that hamper economic growth;

Chapter 1 – Investments and growth

2.  Highlights the persistent structural problem of insufficient growth of potential output, productivity and competitiveness, associated with too low a level of public and private investment and a lack of ambitious and socially balanced structural reforms in some Member States;

3.  Recalls that some Member States still have large current account surpluses that could be used to sustain public and private investments and boost economic growth;

4.  Recalls the importance of combining public and private investment with structural reforms to boost and leverage economic growth;

5.  Underlines the importance of boosting public investment in the EU in order to remedy the current decrease in public investment; urges, moreover, the completion of the Capital Market Union with a view to boosting private investments across the single market; considers that the regulatory framework for private investment should be improved further;

6.  Stresses the need for more investments in research, development and innovation, as well as in technological modernisation, in order to boost productivity; recalls that investments in areas such as infrastructures, childcare, social housing, education, training, health, research, digital innovation and the circular economy can increase productivity and/or employment; calls on the Commission to address country-specific recommendations (CSRs) in the field of energy efficiency and resource consumption, and to ensure that CSRs are fully consistent with the Paris climate agreement;

7.  Asks the Commission to assess current obstacles to significant growth-enhancing infrastructure projects over the lifetime of such investments, and to discuss with Parliament and the Council ways to address such obstacles within the existing legal framework;

Chapter 2 – Responsible public finance

8.  Takes note of the overall neutral fiscal stance proposed in the recommendations for the euro area, noting that the fiscal stance is expected to be slightly expansionary in a number of Member States in 2018; recalls that consistent implementation and compliance with Union fiscal rules, including full respect of the existing flexibility clauses, are key to the proper functioning of the EMU;

9.  Underlines the fact that the fiscal stances at national and euro area level must balance the long-term sustainability of public finances and investment, in full compliance with the Stability and Growth Pact, with short-term macroeconomic stabilisation;

10.  Welcomes the improvements made in public finances, which is key to reach a more solid, sustainable and efficient growth, in particular the gradually declining debt-to-GDP ratios for the EU and euro area, and falling headline budget deficits, while emphasising that the gross debt-to-GDP ratio within the euro area still hovers around 90 %, with several Member States being well above that level; stresses that these Member states should reduce their high debt-to-GDP ratios as a matter of urgency, as this is markedly easier to do in times of economic recovery; recalls that ageing societies and other demographic developments place a massive burden on the sustainability of public finances; calls, therefore, on the Member States to take responsibility for future generations;

11.  Underlines the need for a stronger focus on the composition and management of national budgets; welcomes, therefore, the increasing practice of spending reviews. and further encourages Member States to assess the quality of their budgets;

Chapter 3 – Structural reforms

12.  Recalls that some Member States need to continue implementing socially and environmentally sustainable, growth-friendly structural reforms, in particular given the context of an improved economic situation across the EU, with GDP growth in almost all Member States, with a view to boosting competitiveness, job creation, growth and upward convergence;

13.  Insists on bringing expenditure on R&D closer to the EU 2020 targets; calls on the Member States to set in place proper policies, and to provide investment, to ensure or maintain equal access to lifelong education and training, taking into account the evolution of the labour market, including the emergence of new professions;

14.  Stresses that digitalisation, globalisation and technological change are radically transforming our labour markets, involving e.g. deep changes in employment forms and statuses which need an adapted transition; stresses, therefore, the importance of dynamic labour markets with accessible and high-quality social security systems, capable of responding to these new labour market realities;

15.  Considers that reforms removing investment bottlenecks would allow for immediate support for economic activity and, at the same time, set the conditions for long-term growth;

16.  Calls for taxation reviews aimed at achieving a fair balance of taxation on capital, labour and consumption;

Chapter 4 – Convergence and inclusion

17.  Underlines that the European Semester and the CSRs should contribute to the achievement of the objectives of EU 2020 strategy, including those set out in the Pillar of Social Rights, and should deliver on growth and jobs; welcomes, therefore, the ‘social scoreboard’ as a tool for monitoring the implementation of the Social Pillar;

18.  Highlights the fact that, in the recent period, real wage growth has lagged behind productivity growth, while improvements have occurred in the labour market; stresses, against this background, that there could be room for wage increases in certain sectors and areas, in line with productivity goals to ensure good standards of living, taking into account competitiveness and the need to tackle inequalities;

19.  Points out that fiscal policies need to take into account monetary policy respecting the independence of the ECB;

20.  Urges the Commission to develop a comprehensive strategy to support investment that enhances environmental sustainability, and to ensure a proper link between the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the European Semester;

21.  Welcomes the fact that the AGS 2018 acknowledges the need for efficient and fair tax systems that provide the right incentives for economic activity; supports the Commission’s initiatives to achieve increased transparency and a reformed VAT system, and notes the work that has been done on the common consolidated corporate tax base; welcomes efforts on the international level to fight tax fraud, tax evasion and tax avoidance; notes that improving the effectiveness of national tax systems can increase government revenues significantly;

22.  Calls on the Member States to adopt adequate measures to help and integrate young persons not in education, employment or training (NEETs) and refugees, anticipating at an early stage the requirements for facilitating their smooth transition to the labour market, in order to prevent them from being sucked into the black economy and to ensure that public services are provided with sufficient resources; stresses that the social partners should play a key role in facilitating the integration of NEETs and refugees, and in making sure that they do not suffer labour market discrimination;

23.  Is concerned that gaps and discrimination continue to shape labour markets in some Members States, contributing to differences between men and women in remuneration, retirement and participation in decision making;

Chapter 5 – European Semester framework: ownership and implementation

24.  Welcomes the increased attention given to the euro area’s aggregate fiscal stance, while pointing to the obligations of individual Member States to comply with the Stability and Growth Pact, including full respect of its existing flexibility clauses; emphasises that the concept of an aggregate fiscal stance does not imply that surpluses and deficits in different Member States offset each other;

25.  Is concerned about the low rate of compliance with the CSRs, including those aimed at fostering convergence, increasing competitiveness and reducing macroeconomic imbalances; believes that more national ownership through genuine public debates at national level would lead to better implementation of the CSRs; considers it important to ensure that national parliaments debate country reports and CSRs; believes that regional and local authorities should be better involved in the European Semester process; calls on the Commission to use all existing tools to enforce those CSRs aimed at addressing these challenges, which represent a threat to the sustainability of the monetary union;

26.  Stresses that any further step towards a deepening of the EMU must go hand in hand with stronger democratic controls; insists that, to this end, the role of both the European Parliament and the national parliaments must be strengthened in line with the liability principle; asks that the social partners be consulted in the negotiation process, at both national and European level;

27.  Welcomes the recognition by the Commission that corruption still remains a barrier to investment in some Member States and that respect of the rule of law and independent judiciary and law enforcement authorities are necessary to ensure proper economic development; deplores nonetheless the termination by the Commission of the annual anti-corruption report and calls on the Commission to re-start this annual analysis of corruption within the Member States and provide mechanisms to fight it;

Sectorial contributions to the 2018 AGS Report

Budgets

28.  Considers that EU budgets must provide an incentive for sustainable growth, convergence, investments and reforms, through solutions and synergies as regards national budgets; believes, therefore, that the AGS serves as a guideline for the Member States, and for the preparation of national and EU budgets, particularly in the context of the preparation of the post-2020 multiannual financial framework;

29.  Reiterates, in this regard, that there should be greater synergies between national budgets and the EU budget; points out that the Commission, given its involvement in the European Semester as well as in the preparation and execution of the EU budget, has a key role to play in this regard;

30.  Welcomes the proposal for greater synergy and non-fragmentation of the EU budget set out in the recommendations presented in ‘Future Financing of the EU’, the final report of the High Level Group on Own Resources from December 2016;

Environment, public health and food safety

31.  Welcomes the initiative shown by the Commission in launching the web portal on health promotion and disease prevention, which provides up-to-date information on topics relating to the promotion of health and well-being, and constitutes an important source of clear and reliable information for citizens; stresses that this portal should be fully accessible to all EU citizens, including those suffering from dyslexia or other such difficulties;

32.  Calls for greater coherence with other EU policies in the field of disaster prevention and preparedness, such as the EU strategy on adaptation to climate change, the European Structural and Investment Funds, the Solidarity Fund, environmental legislation and research and innovation policies;

o
o   o

33.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council and the Commission, the governments and national parliaments of the Member States and the European Central Bank.

(1) OJ L 306, 23.11.2011, p. 12.
(2) OJ L 306, 23.11.2011, p. 41.
(3) OJ L 306, 23.11.2011, p. 8.
(4) OJ L 306, 23.11.2011, p. 33.
(5) OJ L 306, 23.11.2011, p. 25.
(6) OJ L 306, 23.11.2011, p. 1.
(7) OJ L 140, 27.5.2013, p. 11.
(8) OJ L 140, 27.5.2013, p. 1.
(9) OJ L 192, 18.7.2015, p. 27.
(10) OJ L 169, 1.7.2015, p. 1.
(11) OJ C 407, 4.11.2016, p. 86.
(12) OJ C 399, 24.11.2017, p. 149.
(13) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0491


European Semester for economic policy coordination: employment and social aspects in the Annual Growth Survey 2018
PDF 244kWORD 68k
European Parliament resolution of 14 March 2018 on the European Semester for economic policy coordination: employment and social aspects in the Annual Growth Survey 2018 (2017/2260(INI))
P8_TA(2018)0078A8-0052/2018

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to Articles 3 and 5 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU),

–  having regard to Articles 9, 145, 148, 152, 153, 174 and 349 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU),

–  having regard to the Interinstitutional Agreement of 13 April 2016 on Better Law-Making between the European Parliament, the Council of the European Union and the European Commission(1),

–  having regard to the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, and, in particular, to its Title IV (Solidarity),

–  having regard to the revised European Social Charter,

–  having regard to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities,

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

–  having regard to the UN Sustainable Development Goals, notably 1, 3, 4, 5, 8 and 10,

–  having regard to the Interinstitutional Proclamation on the European Pillar of Social Rights on 17 November 2017 in Gothenburg,

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 22 November 2017 entitled ‘Annual Growth Survey 2018’ (COM(2017)0690),

–  having regard to the draft Joint Employment Report from the Commission and the Council of 22 November 2017 accompanying the communication from the Commission on the Annual Growth Survey 2018 (COM(2017)0674),

–  having regard to the Commission proposal of 22 November 2017 for a Council decision on guidelines for the employment policies of the Member States (COM(2017)0677),

–  having regard to the Commission recommendation of 22 November 2017 for a Council recommendation on the economic policy of the euro area (COM(2017)0770),

–  having regard to the Commission report of 22 November 2017 entitled ‘Alert Mechanism Report 2018’ (COM(2017)0771),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 22 November 2017 entitled ‘2018 Draft Budgetary Plans: Overall Assessment’ (COM(2017)0800),

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

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

–  having regard to the Commission staff working document of 26 April 2017 entitled ‘Taking stock of the 2013 Recommendation on “Investing in children: breaking the cycle of disadvantage”’ (SWD(2017)0258),

–  having regard to the Commission’s publication of the seventh edition of the Employment and Social Developments in Europe annual review (2017), which focuses on intergenerational fairness and solidarity in Europe,

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

–  having regard to the Commission proposal of 14 September 2016 for a Council regulation amending Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 1311/2013 laying down the multiannual financial framework for the years 2014-2020 (COM(2016)0604),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 14 September 2016 entitled ‘Strengthening European Investments for jobs and growth: Towards a second phase of the European Fund for Strategic Investments and a new European External Investment Plan’ (COM(2016)0581),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 10 June 2016 entitled ‘A new skills agenda for Europe – Working together to strengthen human capital, employability and competitiveness’ (COM(2016)0381),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 2 June 2016 entitled ‘A European agenda for the collaborative economy’ (COM(2016)0356),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 1 June 2016 entitled ‘Europe investing again – Taking stock of the Investment Plan for Europe and next steps’ (COM(2016)0359),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 8 March 2016 on launching a consultation on a European Pillar of Social Rights (COM(2016)0127) and its annexes,

–  having regard to the Commission proposal for a Council decision of 15 February 2016 on guidelines for the employment policies of the Member States (COM(2016)0071), and to Parliament’s position thereon of 15 September 2016(2),

–  having regard to the Commission’s Social Investment Package of 20 February 2013, including Recommendation 2013/112/EU entitled ‘Investing in Children: breaking the cycle of disadvantage’(3),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 3 March 2010 entitled ‘Europe 2020 – A strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth’ (COM(2010)2020), and to Parliament’s resolution of 16 June 2010 on EU 2020(4),

–  having regard to the Five Presidents’ Report of 22 June 2015 on ‘Completing Europe’s Economic and Monetary Union’,

–  having regard to the Council conclusions of 7 December 2015 on the promotion of the social economy as a key driver of economic and social development in Europe,

–  having regard to its resolution of 16 November 2017 on combating inequalities as a lever to boost job creation and growth(5),

–  having regard to its resolution of 26 October 2017 on the economic policies of the euro area(6),

–  having regard to its resolution of 24 October 2017 on minimum income policies as a tool for fighting poverty(7),

–  having regard to its resolution of 14 September 2017 on a new skills agenda for Europe(8),

–  having regard to its resolution of 14 June 2017 on the need for an EU strategy to end and prevent the gender pension gap(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 15 February 2017 on the European Semester for economic policy coordination: Employment and Social Aspects in the Annual Growth Survey 2017(11),

–  having regard to its resolution of 19 January 2017 on a European Pillar of Social Rights(12),

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

–  having regard to its position of 2 February 2016 on the proposal for a decision of the European Parliament and of the Council on establishing a European Platform to enhance cooperation in the prevention and deterrence of undeclared work(14),

–  having regard to its resolution of 24 November 2015 on reducing inequalities with a special focus on child poverty(15),

–  having regard to its resolution of 8 July 2015 on the Green Employment Initiative: Tapping into the job creation potential of the green economy(16),

–  having regard to its resolution of 4 July 2013 on the Impact of the crisis on access to care for vulnerable groups(17),

–  having regard to its resolution of 11 June 2013 on social housing in the European Union(18),

–  having regard to the concluding observations of the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities on the initial report of the European Union (September 2015),

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

–  having regard to the Eurofound report of 25 September 2017 entitled ‘Developments in working life in Europe: EurWORK annual review 2016’, and specifically to the chapter ‘Pay inequalities: Evidence, debate and policies’,

–  having regard to Eurofound’s topical update of 18 July 2017 entitled ‘Pay inequalities experienced by posted workers: Challenges to the “equal treatment” principle’, which provides a detailed overview of governments’ and social partners’ positions across Europe as regards the principle of equal remuneration for equal work,

–  having regard to the Eurofound report of 26 June 2017 entitled ‘Occupational change and wage inequality: European Jobs Monitor 2017’,

–  having regard to the Eurofound report of 19 April 2017 entitled ‘Social mobility in the EU’,

–  having regard to the Eurofound report of 13 March 2017 entitled ‘Income inequalities and employment patterns in Europe before and after the Great Recession’,

–  having regard to the Eurofound reports of 24 February 2017 on the Involvement of the social partners in the European Semester: 2016 update, and of 16 February 2016 on the Role of the social partners in the European Semester, which examines the period 2011 to 2014,

–  having regard to the Eurofound overview report of 17 November 2016 entitled ‘Sixth European Working Conditions Survey’,

–  having regard to the Eurofound report of 12 March 2015 entitled ‘New forms of employment’,

–  having regard to the Eurofound report of 29 October 2013 entitled ‘Women, men and working conditions in Europe’,

–  having regard to the debate with representatives of national parliaments on the priorities of the 2018 European Semester,

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs and the opinion of the Committee on Culture and Education (A8-0052/2018),

A.  whereas the employment rate in the EU is increasing and reached 72,3 % in the second quarter of 2017, corresponding to 235,4 million people in work, and constituting progress towards reaching the 75 % employment rate target specified in the Europe 2020 strategy; whereas there continue to be very substantial differences between employment rates in many Member States, ranging from well below the EU average of 65 % in Greece, Croatia, Italy and Spain, to higher than 75 % in the Netherlands, Denmark, the United Kingdom, Germany and Sweden, with some way still to go to recover from the crisis and, in particular, to attain the Europe 2020 national targets; whereas employment growth has been stronger among older workers, high-skilled employees and men, and weaker in young people, low-skilled workers and women; whereas employment measured in terms of hours worked per employee remains 3 % below the pre-crisis level in the EU and 4 % below the pre-crisis level in the euro area, owing to more part-time work and fewer hours worked by full-time employees; whereas in the EU at present, 18,9 million people remain jobless, investment is still too low, wage growth is subdued and in-work poverty is still increasing; recalls that Article 3 of the TEU stipulates that the Union shall aim at full employment;

B.  whereas 18,9 million people in the EU are still jobless, despite the fact that the EU and euro area unemployment rates are at their lowest levels in nine years, standing at 7,5 % and 8,9 % respectively; whereas, moreover, this recovery remains very uneven among Member States, with unemployment rates ranging from around 4 % in Germany to almost 20 % in Spain and 23,6 % in Greece; whereas hidden unemployment – unemployed people willing to work but not actively searching for employment – was 20 % in 2016, while the share of long-term unemployment in the EU remains alarmingly high at more than 46,4 % (the corresponding figure for the euro area is 49,7 %); whereas in some Member States, unemployment remains high because of a lack of growth and structural weakness; whereas inadequate labour market reforms is one of the reasons for high unemployment; whereas support for the long-term unemployed is essential, as otherwise their situation will begin to affect their self-confidence, well-being and future development, putting them at risk of poverty and social exclusion and undermining both the sustainability of social security systems and the European social dimension;

C.  whereas part-time work has increased by 11 % since 2008 and full-time employment has dropped by 2 % over the same period, while involuntary part-time work fell from 29,3 % in 2013 to 27,7 % in 2016, but still represents one quarter of this kind of contract;

D.  whereas the labour market segmentation between permanent and atypical jobs remains worrying, with temporary contracts accounting for between 10 % and 20 % of employment in some Member States, with particularly low transition rates towards permanent contracts, and temporary jobs representing dead ends rather than stepping stones towards permanent jobs; whereas this phenomenon is preventing large numbers of workers from benefiting from secure, relatively well-paid employment and good prospects, and is creating a wage gap between permanent and temporary workers;

E.  whereas, although a slight improvement in the youth unemployment rate can be observed, it still remains disturbingly high at 16,6 % (18,7 % in the euro area); whereas, according to the draft Joint Employment Report, young people are more often employed in non-standard and atypical forms of employment, including temporary jobs, involuntary part-time work and lower wage jobs; whereas in 2016 there were still 6.3 million young people aged 15-24 not in employment, education or training (NEETs); whereas the Member States can tackle youth unemployment by developing and implementing labour market regulatory frameworks, education and training systems and active labour market policies, based on the prohibition of discrimination as regards age in relation to Article 19 TFEU and Council Directive 2000/78/EC on employment equality;

F.  whereas, although the differences in unemployment rates among the Member States are smaller, they still remain above the pre-crisis level; whereas long-term unemployment remains at above 50 % of total unemployment in some Member States and 46,6 % in the EU and 49,7 % in the euro area on average; whereas the unemployment rate only tracks people who do not have a job and who have been actively looked for work in the previous four weeks, while the long-term unemployment rate only measures the share of people in the economically active population aged 15 to 74 who has been unemployed for 12 months or more;

G.  whereas the gender employment gap still persists, and now stands at 11,6 % in the EU, with the gender-specific employment rates at 76,9 % for men and 65,3 % for women, while there are even wider gaps among non-EU born and Roma women; whereas the gender gap is even wider in part-time employment, where it amounted to a difference of 23 percentage points (pps) in 2016 and even exceeded 30 pps in four Member States, and with female involuntary part-time employment registering 23,5 %; whereas the employment rate of women with at least one child under the age of six is 9 pps less than the corresponding rate of women without children, while 19 % of the EU’s potential female workforce was inactive in 2016 because they were looking after children or incapacitated adults; whereas, owing to lower full-time equivalent employment rates, women endured a significant pay gap of 16,3 % in 2015 in the EU on average, ranging from 26,9 % in Estonia to 5,5 % in Italy and Luxemburg;

H.  whereas some Member States are faced with structural challenges in the labour market, such as low participation and skills and qualification mismatches; whereas there is a growing need for concrete measures to either integrate or re-integrate the inactive workforce in order to meet labour market demands;

I.  whereas societies in the European Union are ageing (nearly 20 % of the European population is over 65 and estimates suggest that this will reach 25 % by 2050), and the old-age dependency ratio is increasing, which presents additional challenges for the Member States and might require them to make adjustments to keep ensuring well-funded and robust social security, healthcare and long-term care systems, and to satisfy the need for formal and informal care provision; whereas informal carers constitute a vital asset to society; whereas life expectancy at birth in the EU-28 declined slightly in 2015, having been estimated at 80,6 in total (0,3 years lower than 2014), 83,3 for women (0,3 years lower than in 2014), and 77,9 for men (0,2 years lower than 2014); whereas this was the first fall in EU-28 life expectancy since 2002, when life expectancy data became available for all Member States, and can be observed in the majority of the Member States; whereas according to Eurostat, it is not yet possible to say whether the reduction in life expectancy between 2014 and 2015 is only temporary or will continue in the years to come;

J.  whereas demographic challenges include factors such as depopulation and population dispersion, hampering the growth of the regions affected and threatening the economic, social and territorial cohesion of the EU;

K.  whereas the early school leaving rate stands at around 20 % in several Member States, including Malta, Spain and Romania, and is still above the EU target rate of 10 % in Portugal, Bulgaria, Italy, Hungary, the United Kingdom and Greece; whereas early school leaving represents a complex challenge at an individual, national and European level; whereas a disadvantaged socio-economic background, migrant origins and special needs are the most significant factors associated with poor educational achievement and early school leaving, bearing in mind that the average proportion of low achievers in science within the bottom socio-economic quartile of the 2015 PISA student population in the EU is around 34 %, 26 pps more than in the top socio-economic quartile;

L.  whereas the social economy sector comprises 2 million businesses (roughly 10 % of the EU total) and employs more than 14 million people (around 6,5 % of EU workers); whereas this sector has an important role to play in meeting the innumerable challenges facing present-day societies, not least the ageing of their populations;

M.  whereas 80 million Europeans have disabilities; whereas the implementation of accessibility measures for them continues to lag behind;

N.  whereas although a certain amount of progress in reducing poverty and social exclusion can be observed, there are still disadvantaged groups in society, and an unacceptable 119 million Europeans at risk of poverty or social exclusion, of whom more than 25 million are children (more than 1 in 4 of all children in the EU), while regional disparities also persist within the Member States and the Union as a whole, leaving the EU far off track in achieving the EU2020 target; whereas income inequality continues to grow in two thirds of all EU countries; whereas in the EU as a whole, the richest 20 % of households received an income share that was 5,1 times greater than the poorest 20 %, with this differential as high as 6,5 or above in some Eastern and Southern European countries – almost twice as much as some of the best-performing central European and Nordic countries; whereas high levels of inequality remain an obstacle to equal opportunities in access to education, training and social protection, and are therefore detrimental to social justice, social cohesion and sustainable economic development;

O.  whereas, according to the Commission publication ‘Employment and Social Developments in Europe 2017’, in 2015 there were 118,8 million people at risk of poverty or social exclusion (AROPE), 1,7 million more than the 2008 figure and far from the Europe 2020 Strategy target of reducing AROPE by 20 million, with wide disparities between Member States, ranging from 5 % or less in the Czech Republic and Germany to around 20 % in Greece and Spain; whereas the AROPE rate for children (0-17) was 26,4 % in 2016, which was higher than the equivalent rates for adults (16-64, 24,2 %) and, by almost 10 pps, the rate for the elderly (65+, 18,3 %); whereas the number of children experiencing poverty remains alarmingly high in Europe, at more than 25 million at present, and the impact of poverty on children can last a lifetime and perpetuates the passing on of disadvantage from generation to generation; whereas social policies are important for achieving cohesion and bringing the EU closer to its citizens;

P.  whereas increasing in-work poverty persists in Europe as a whole, with the highest levels recorded in Spain (13,1 %), Greece (14 %) and Romania (18,6 %), which shows that employment alone is not always sufficient to lift people out of poverty and reflects different labour market patterns, including part-time and/or temporary jobs, wage levels and work intensity in households and poor working conditions; whereas wage growth remains subdued in the EU, having increased by less than 1 % in the last two years, and the dispersion of compensation of employees is rather wide in the EU, ranging from EUR 4,6 per hour worked in Bulgaria to EUR 43,3 per hour worked in Luxembourg; whereas real wage growth lagged behind average productivity growth in 18 of the 28 Member States and is even lagging behind the drop in unemployment; whereas wage-setting is a matter of national competence;

Q.  whereas education is a crucial determinant of young people’s integration into the labour market and is primarily the responsibility of the Member States, albeit supported by the Commission; whereas high-quality education and training must be accessible to all, taking into account the fact that the employment rate of young people (those aged 20-34) with higher education is 82,8 % in the EU, more than 10 pps higher than those with upper secondary education; whereas vocational training is starting to become more credible, both in the eyes of young Europeans and in the eyes of the businesses which are recognising their abilities; whereas training acquired in an informal context also provides Europeans with essential tools for the labour market;

R.  whereas, although the digital transformation requires workers to at least have basic digital skills, it is estimated that 44 % of the EU population lacks them(19);

S.  whereas, in accordance with Article 168 TFEU, a high level of human health protection should be ensured in the definition and implementation of the relevant Union policies and activities; whereas this would contribute to social inclusion, social justice and equality; whereas technological and scientific advances, which the 2018 Annual Growth Survey (AGS) welcomes, are making it possible to find better, more efficacious, and more affordable treatments and medicines; whereas this progress is helping to ensure that people suffering from particular chronic conditions will be fit to enter the labour market or continue working for much longer; whereas this aim is currently being challenged by the high cost of some medicines;

T.  whereas fiscal policy in the Member States plays a role in the stabilisation of the macroeconomic environment, while also pursuing other objectives, such as fiscal sustainability or redistribution;

U.  whereas the provision and management of social security systems are a Member State competence which the Union coordinates but does not harmonise;

V.  whereas gross disposable household income (GDHI) per capita has still not recovered from pre-crisis levels in various Member States, with a number of these figures between 20 and 30 pps lower than in 2008;

W.  whereas the capacity of the EU’s economy to drive long-term growth is less than that of our major competitors; whereas the Commission has estimated that potential growth is around 1,4 % in the EU, compared with 2 % in the US;

X.  whereas undeclared work deprives workers of their rights and encourages social dumping, entailing serious budgetary implications, and adversely affects employment, productivity, the quality of work and skills development, and the efficiency and effectiveness of the pension entitlements system; whereas continued efforts must be brought to bear in order to turn undeclared work into declared work;

Y.  whereas the outermost regions have to contend with immense difficulties relating to their specific characteristics that limit their potential for growth; whereas in these regions unemployment rates range from between 11,2 % and 27,1 %, and long-term unemployment rates from between 54,5 % and 80,9 %; whereas in these regions youth unemployment is above 40 %;

Z.  whereas, according to Eurofound research, social partners’ involvement in the elaboration of national reform programmes is gradually improving in most Member States, although significant differences in outcomes remain when it comes to the quality and effectiveness of national social partners’ overall engagement in the European Semester process;

AA.  whereas Eurofound’s forthcoming study on the involvement of the social partners in the European Semester is set to report a process of consolidation and growing awareness, following Employment Guideline No 7 on enhancing the functioning of labour markets; whereas, however, the social partners highlight the need to ensure proper engagement by facilitating meaningful and timely consultation, an exchange of contributions and feedback, and by giving visibility to their views;

1.  Welcomes the Annual Growth Survey 2018, together with the integrated European Pillar of Social Rights, as an important part of overall policies for quality employment, sustainable growth and investment, aiming to increase productivity and wages, create jobs, reduce inequalities and poverty and improve social protection and the access to and quality of public services; acknowledges that the AGS is based on a strategy of investment, structural reforms and responsible public finances, which should be coupled with policies and measures for fulfilling the principles and objectives of the European Pillar of Social Rights; stresses that the Commission should, within the framework of the European Semester, improve the process of policy coordination in order to better monitor, prevent and correct negative trends that could increase inequalities and weaken social progress, as a means to link economic coordination with employment and social performance; calls on the Member States to follow the priorities identified in the survey and the accompanying Joint Employment Report, with a view to their national policies and strategies to promote growth, sustainable economic development, quality employment, social cohesion, and social protection and inclusion; notes the importance of protecting workers’ rights and fostering the bargaining power of employees;

2.  Stresses the need for socially and economically balanced structural reforms aimed at the realisation of the Social Triple A by improving inclusive labour market and social policies which address the needs of workers and vulnerable groups, in order to boost investment, to create quality employment, to help the workforce to acquire the skills they need, to promote equal opportunities in the labour market and fair working conditions, to increase labour productivity, to support wage growth and sustainable and adequate social protection systems, and to improve living standards for all citizens; emphasises the need to reinforce a favourable environment for both business and workers with a view to creating more stable employment, while balancing the social and economic dimensions and taking decisions jointly and in a complementary fashion; calls on the Member States to gradually shift taxes from labour to other sources without jeopardising social security; calls on the Member States to undertake measures to improve social standards and reduce inequalities;

3.  Stresses that social dialogue and collective bargaining are key instruments for employers and trade unions in order to establish fair wages and working conditions, and that strong collective bargaining systems increase Member States’ resilience in times of economic crisis; recalls that the right to establish collective bargaining is an issue that concerns all European workers, with crucial implications for democracy and the rule of law, including respect for fundamental social rights, and that collective bargaining is a European fundamental right which the European institutions are bound to respect under Article 28 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights; calls, in this context, for policies that respect, promote and strengthen collective bargaining and the workers’ position in wage-setting systems, which play a critical role in achieving a high standard of working conditions; believes all this should be done with a view to supporting aggregate demand and economic recovery, reducing wage inequalities and fighting in-work poverty;

4.  Calls for a stronger commitment to combat poverty and rising inequality and for social investments to be boosted, in view of their economic returns and social benefits; recalls that economies with a higher degree of social investment are more resilient to shocks; calls on the Member States and the Commission, within the existing rules of the Stability and Growth Pact, to allow room for public social investment and, where it may be needed, for greater investment in social infrastructure and support for those hit hardest in order to properly address inequalities, in particular through social protection systems that provide adequate and well-targeted income support; calls on the Commission to carry out, where relevant, a more in-depth assessment of which types of spending can definitely be considered as social investment;

5.  Believes it is important to foster intercultural dialogue in order to make it easier for migrants, refugees and asylum seekers to enter the labour market and become integrated into society; expresses its concern about the continuing low participation in the labour market of ethnic minorities; calls on the Member States, in this connection, to correctly implement Directives 2000/78/EC and 2000/43/EC; recalls that newcomers bring new skills and knowledge with them, and calls for the further development and promotion of tools providing multilingual information about the existing opportunities for formal and informal learning, professional training, traineeships and voluntary work;

6.  Urges the Commission to bring efforts to bear with a view to helping people suffering from given conditions, for example chronic pain, to enter or remain on the labour market; maintains that the labour market needs to be geared to such situations, and made more flexible and non-discriminatory, so as to ensure that the people concerned can likewise contribute to the EU’s economic development, thus relieving the strain on social security systems;

7.  Welcomes the Commission’s support for investment to enhance environmental sustainability and the acknowledgement of its potential across the economy; agrees that support for the transition towards a circular and green economy has a high net job creation potential;

8.  Welcomes the Interinstitutional Proclamation on the European Pillar of Social Rights (EPSR) and believes that the European Semester should support the development of its 20 key principles regarding equal opportunities, access to the labour market, fair working conditions and social protection and inclusion, which should serve as a point of reference and a recommendation when implementing the European Semester policy coordination cycle in order to build a genuine Social Triple A for Europe, and to create economic growth and a predictable, sustainable financial situation subordinate to the targets of economic and employment policy, thereby serving the main, prioritised aims of the EU 2020 strategy; points out that the European Semester coordination process is an essential means of consolidating the European social dimension, from which the Social Pillar derives; highlights that the EPSR is a first step through building up a common approach to the protection and development of social rights across the EU, which should be reflected in measures pursued by Member States; calls on the Commission, therefore, to put forward concrete proposals to reinforce social rights through concrete and specific tools (legislation, policy-making mechanisms and financial instruments) and achieving concrete results; stresses the primacy of fundamental rights;

9.  Acknowledges the efforts taken to strengthen the social dimension of the Semester; calls for further action to balance social and economic priorities and to improve the quality of monitoring and recommendations in the social area;

10.  Welcomes the new scoreboard, which provides for 14 headline indicators to screen the employment and social performance of Member States along three broad dimensions, identified in the context of the Social Pillar;

11.  Underlines the fact, that for the EU on average, 11 of the 14 headline indicators recorded an improvement over the last available year, confirming the steady improvement in the labour market and social situation which has accompanied the economic recovery; notes, however, that action is required to achieve social upward convergence along the dimensions identified by the Social Pillar, as stated by the Commission, and that the analysis of the headlines indicators shows at least one ‘critical situation’ for 17 of the 28 Member States;

12.  Acknowledges that, despite improvements in the economic and employment situation in recent years in the EU as a whole, the gains produced have not always been distributed evenly, as the number of people in a situation of poverty and social exclusion continues to be too high; is concerned by growing inequalities in the EU and its Member States, and by the increasing share of workers at risk of poverty, not only part-time workers, but also full-time workers; calls on the Commission and the Member States to continue their efforts to improve the conditions for these people, and to give greater recognition to the work and expertise of NGOs, anti-poverty organisations and people experiencing poverty themselves, encouraging their participation in the exchange of good practices; points out that high levels of inequality diminish the output of the economy and the potential for sustainable growth; underlines the fact that the integration of long-term unemployed individuals through individually tailored measures is a key factor for fighting poverty and social exclusion and for contributing to the sustainability of national social security systems; calls for partnerships encompassing all relevant stakeholders to be established and developed in order to provide the tools necessary to respond more effectively to labour market needs, deliver effective solutions and prevent long-term unemployment; stresses the need to implement effective labour market policies in order to reduce long-term unemployment; considers that the Member States should further help those out of work by providing affordable, accessible and quality support services for job search, training and requalification, while protecting those unable to participate;

13.  Calls on the Commission to take into account the Social Development Goals when proposing policy recommendations in the context of the European Semester;

14.  Reiterates its concern about the variability in employment and unemployment rates in different Member States and warns, in particular, about the worrying degree of underemployment and hidden unemployment; is particularly concerned at the high level of youth unemployment, which stands at over 11 % in the EU, with the exception of a few Member States – Austria, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, Hungary, Malta and Germany; considers the high level of NEETs and early school leavers that still persists in several countries especially worrying; welcomes, in this respect, an increase in funding for the Youth Employment Initiative by EUR 2,4 billion for the period 2017-2020; highlights that, if necessary, granting additional funds at EU level for the initiative should be considered and that Member States should ensure that the Youth Guarantee is fully open to all groups, including vulnerable persons; recalls the European Court of Auditors’ Special report No 5 Youth Unemployment – have EU policies made a difference?’;

15.  Shares the Commission’s view that ‘social protection systems should ensure the right to minimum income benefits’; calls on the Member States to set an adequate minimum income above the poverty line, in line with national legislation and practices and with the involvement of social partners, and to ensure it is accessible to all people and targets those most in need; considers that in order to be effective in the fight against poverty, minimum income schemes should be accompanied by access to quality and affordable public goods and services and measures to promote equal opportunities and facilitate entry or re-entry into the labour market for people in vulnerable situations, if they can work;

16.  Calls on the Commission to create a European social security number in order to facilitate information exchange, to provide people with a record of their current and past entitlements and to prevent abuse;

17.  Reminds the Commission that access to social protection is fundamental for creating fair working conditions, and that following the consultations with social partners, concrete proposals need to be devised in order to ensure that all people in all forms of work build up social security entitlements, including adequate pensions;

18.  Calls on the Commission, through the European Social Fund (ESF), European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) and the European Semester, to strengthen its efforts to support comprehensive public policies in the Member States, by focusing on delivering smoother transitions into work from education and (long-term) unemployment, and calls, more specifically, for the full implementation of the national measures outlined in the Council Recommendation on the integration of the long-term unemployed into the labour market(20); calls on Member States and the Commission to promote lifelong learning, especially for older workers, to help them adapt their skills and facilitate their employability;

19.  Is concerned about the remaining high levels of poverty in Europe almost a decade after the onset of the crisis, and the inter-generational divide that has ensued, including in those Member States with a lower share of people at risk of poverty or social exclusion; is especially worried about the increasing rates of child poverty and in-work poverty in several Member States, despite the macroeconomic recovery in recent years; notes that the situation in relation to the share of children participating in early childhood care and education is critical in more than one third of Member States; calls on the Commission to support the Member States in designing and implementing structural reforms, and to assess their social and distributional impact;

20.  Asks the Commission and the Member States to adopt all the necessary measures to drastically reduce poverty in Europe, particularly child poverty, and, more specifically, to put forward concrete proposals that place children at the centre of existing poverty alleviation policies, in accordance with its Recommendation on Investing in Children and with due consideration for the preparatory actions established by the 2017 and 2018 EU budgets and for the relevant Parliament resolutions, by ensuring that measures are in place to enable children at risk of poverty to access free healthcare, education and childcare, and decent housing and adequate nutrition; stresses the need for the Member States to adopt national plans to reduce child poverty which specifically address the limited impact of social transfers in reducing the risk of poverty;

21.  Welcomes the focus in the 2018 AGS on adequate social housing and other housing assistance as essential services, including protecting people in vulnerable situations from unjustified forced eviction and foreclosures, and tackling homelessness; calls for reinforced monitoring of homelessness and housing exclusion in the Semester and recommendations, as required;

22.  Welcomes the Commission’s proposal for a directive on transparent and predictable working conditions in the European Union, replacing the current Written Statement Directive;

23.  Stresses the higher unemployment rates of young people and low-skilled workers compared with adult high-skilled workers; calls on the Commission and the Member States to speed up the implementation of the New Skills Agenda, which is designed to upskill people with specific skills problems to help to reintegrate into the labour market;

24.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to maximise their efforts in investing in affordable, accessible and high-quality education and training, in innovation supporting labour productivity growth, in active labour market policies, social inclusion and labour integration and in more effective and tailor-made public and private employment services – taking into account the geographical-demographical-income discrepancies within individual regions and countries – in order to guarantee that the skills acquired will match labour market demand, to empower people and integrate them into the labour market, and to reduce the number of early school leavers; underlines, in this respect, the growing demand for digital and other transferable skills and insists that their development is urgent and particularly necessary and should cover all societal groups, with particular attention devoted to low-skilled workers and young people; stresses the importance of initiatives to support the long-term mobility of students and young graduates from education and vocational training, which will make it possible to develop a skilled and mobile labour force in sectors with potential;

25.  Takes the view that mutual recognition of qualifications will be beneficial for overcoming the gap between skills shortages on the European labour market and jobseekers, especially young people; points out that qualifications and skills acquired in non-formal and informal learning contexts are important to the extent that they improve the employability of young people and those who have been out of the labour market because they have had to act as carers; points, therefore, to the importance of establishing a validation system for non-formal and informal forms of knowledge and experience, especially those acquired through volunteering; welcomes the fact that the Commission has in the AGS taken into account the importance of recognising those skills for the purposes of the New Skills Agenda for Europe; calls on the Commission and the Member States to upgrade vocational training and strengthen work-based learning, including quality apprenticeships;

26.  Calls on the Member States to support apprenticeship programmes and make full use of the Erasmus+ funding available for trainees in order to guarantee the quality of training of this kind and make it attractive; draws the Commission’s attention to the need to boost the uptake of this programme by young people in the outermost regions, as outlined in the Commission communication entitled ‘A stronger and renewed strategic partnership with the EU’s outermost regions’;

27.  Encourages Member States to scale up their efforts to implement the country-specific recommendations on education and youth and to foster the exchange of best practices;

28.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to continue initiatives aimed at increasing access to better education, skills and employment, and to ensure a stronger focus on the green and circular economy throughout all their work on skills;

29.  Is of the opinion that a future-proof Skills Agenda should include learning for sustainability and be part of a broader reflection on occupational literacy in the context of the growing digitisation and robotisation of European societies, focusing not only on economic growth but also on learners’ personal development, improved health and well-being;

30.  Welcomes the Commission communication of 14 November 2017 on strengthening European identity through education and culture (COM(2017)0673), which includes bold objectives in the field of education, in particular on creating a European Education Area and improving language learning in Europe;

31.  Recalls that the creative industries are among the most entrepreneurial sectors and that creative education develops transferable skills such as creative thinking, problem-solving, teamwork and resourcefulness; calls for the arts and creative learning to be incorporated into science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education, given the close link between creativity and innovation; highlights, moreover, the potential of the cultural and creative sector (CCS) for the preservation and promotion of European cultural and linguistic diversity and for economic growth, innovation and employment, especially youth employment; stresses that further promotion of and investment in the CCS may contribute substantially to investment, growth, innovation and employment; calls on the Commission, therefore, to consider the opportunities offered by the entire CCS, including notably NGOs and small associations, for example under the Youth Employment Initiative;

32.  Recalls the need to encourage girls and young women to pursue ICT studies and calls on Member States to encourage girls and young women to study STEM subjects, while also covering arts and humanities, and to increase the representation of women in STEM areas;

33.  Calls on the Member States and the Commission to take all the necessary measures, in line with the principle of subsidiarity, to improve the services and legislation that are important for a proper work-life balance and for gender equality; calls for the development of accessible, quality and affordable childcare and early education services, as well as care services for those reliant on care, and for the creation of favourable conditions for parents and carers by allowing for advantageous family leave take-up and flexible working arrangements which tap into the potential of new technologies, guarantee social protection and provide adequate training, where necessary; stresses, however, the necessity of alleviating the burden of obligatory care from family members and calls for the creation of a regulated domain of domestic workers and carers that will facilitate work-life balance while contributing to job creation; underlines, in this respect, the potential of public-private partnerships and the important role of social service providers and social economy enterprises; strongly emphasises the need to monitor social and gender progress, to include the gender perspective and to consider the impact of reforms over time;

34.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to introduce targets on care for elderly persons, persons with disabilities and other dependants, similar to the Barcelona targets, with monitoring tools to ensure that they are met; calls on the Commission and Member States to look towards qualitative standards for all care services, including on their availability, accessibility and affordability; calls on the Member States and the Commission to take up the conclusions of the Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs (EPSCO) Council on enhancing community-based support and care for independent living, and to develop a clear strategy and strong investment to develop modern, high-quality community-based services and to increase support for caregivers, especially family carers;

35.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to improve the quality of work, both in terms of working conditions, health and safety, and in terms of wages which provide a decent living and family planning; stresses the importance of tackling undeclared work effectively, by involving social partners and imposing appropriate fines; urges the Member States to double down on their efforts to transform undeclared work into declared work by bolstering their labour inspection mechanisms and putting measures in place that enable workers to move from the informal economy to the formal economy; reminds the Member States of the existence of the Undeclared Work Platform, which they should actively participate in by using it for the exchange of best practices and with a view to tackling undeclared work, letterbox companies and bogus self-employment, all of which jeopardise both the quality of work and workers’ access to social protection systems and national public finances, leading to unfair competition between European businesses; welcomes new initiatives proposed by the Commission, such as the launching of a public consultation on a European Labour Authority and a European Social Security Number; calls on the Member States to provide labour inspectorates or other relevant public bodies with adequate resources to address the issue of undeclared work, to design measures to enable workers to move from the grey to the formal economy and to improve cross-border cooperation between inspection services and the electronic exchange of information and data, in order to improve the efficiency of controls designed to combat and prevent social fraud and undeclared work and reduce administrative burdens;

36.  Calls on the Member States to ensure that active labour market policies are efficient and effective and are designed in such a way as to support mobility between sectors and the re-training of workers, issues which will become increasingly important as our labour markets adapt to the digital transformation of our economies;

37.  Underlines the potential of SMEs and social enterprises in job creation and the economy as a whole; considers it vital to assess the high rate of start-up failure in order to draw lessons for the future, and to support entrepreneurship, including through the development and support of the social and circular economy models; considers it vital, moreover, to improve the business environment by removing administrative burdens and adjusting the requirements, improving access to finance and supporting the development of tax models and simplified tax compliance procedures favouring SMEs, entrepreneurs, the self-employed, micro-entities, start-ups and social economy enterprises, and to prevent tax evasion and a lack of reliable information for identifying tax bases and their real owners; calls on the Member States to develop policies which foster a responsible and effective entrepreneurship culture among young people from an early age, providing them with internship and company visit opportunities and the right knowledge to forestall failure; urges the Commission, in this context, to continue the Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs programmes; calls on the Member States to support associations and initiatives which help young entrepreneurs to develop innovative projects;

38.  Highlights that social entrepreneurship is a growing field that can boost the economy whilst simultaneously alleviating deprivation, social exclusion and other societal problems; considers, therefore, that entrepreneurship education should include a social dimension and address subjects such as fair trade, social enterprises and alternative business models, including co-operatives, in order to strive towards a more social, inclusive and sustainable economy;

39.  Points out that social economy enterprises were crucial in minimising the impact of the crisis; stresses, therefore, the need to give those enterprises more support, particularly with regard to access to the different forms of financing, including European funds, and reducing their administrative burden; stresses the need to give them a legal framework which recognises their activities in the EU and prevents unfair competition; deplores the fact that the assessment of their activities is not reflected in the AGS, as requested by Parliament;

40.  Recognises that women continue to be under-represented in the labour market; believes, in this regard, that flexible employment contracts, including voluntary temporary and part-time contracts, can play an important role in increasing the participation levels of groups that might otherwise have been excluded from the labour market, including women;

41.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to invest in research and promote the development of new production technologies and services in the framework of a just transition; underlines their potential to increase productivity and sustainability, create new quality employment and stimulate long-term development;

42.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to promote investment in the R&D sector in accordance with the 2020 Strategy; maintains that investments in this sector help to increase the competitiveness and productivity of the economy and hence promote the creation of stable jobs and higher wages;

43.  Emphasises the importance of ensuring access to broadband in all regions, including rural areas and regions with serious and permanent natural or demographic problems, so as to promote harmonious development throughout the EU;

44.  Considers demographic decline, which affects EU regions to different extents, to be among the serious obstacles hindering EU development, which require differing approaches and commitments; calls on the Commission and the Member States to introduce measures designed to address this challenge; underlines the fact that demographic decline requires a holistic approach which should include the adaptation of the necessary infrastructure, quality employment with decent wages and the enhancement of public services and voluntary flexible working arrangements, which should go hand-in-hand with adequate job security and accessible social protection;

45.  Welcomes the fact that the Commission has included the need to provide statistics on demographic challenges such as depopulation and the population dispersion in its European Statistical Programme; considers that this data will provide an accurate picture of the problems facing these regions, thus enabling better solutions to be found; calls on the Commission to take account of these statistics in the future multiannual financial framework (MFF);

46.  Recalls that increased life expectancy requires the adaptation of pensions systems to ensure their sustainability and a good quality of life for elderly people; stresses that this can be achieved by reducing the economic dependency ratio, including by offering adequate working conditions to provide opportunities for those wishing to work longer and by evaluating – at Member State level and together with social partners – the need to put both the statutory and effective retirement age on a sustainable footing with increases in life expectancy and with insurance contribution years, and by preventing early exit from the labour market, as well as accommodating youth and refugees and migrants on the labour market; calls on the Commission to support Member States in strengthening public and occupational pension systems and in creating care credits to compensate for lost contributions of women and men due to child and long-term care responsibilities as a tool to tackle the gender gap in pensions and to provide an adequate retirement income above the poverty threshold and to live in dignity and independence;

47.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to pursue the policy of active ageing, the social inclusion of elderly people and solidarity between generations; recalls that more cost-effective health systems and long-term care that ensure timely access to affordable preventive and curative healthcare of good quality are also fundamental for productivity;

48.  Is of the opinion that Cohesion Policy, as the main public investment policy of the European Union, has demonstrated its effectiveness in reducing inequalities and enhancing inclusion and poverty reduction, and should therefore receive more funding in the future MFF; considers that the ESF should be retained as the main EU instrument for the integration and reintegration of workers into the labour market, as well as for supporting measures for social inclusion, combating poverty and inequalities, and to support the implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights; calls on the Commission to increase the ESF in order to support the implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights in the next MFF;

49.  Stresses the necessity for the EFSI to support growth and employment in high-risk investment projects, and to tackle youth and long-term unemployment; is concerned, however, about the enormous imbalance in the use of the fund between the EU-15 and EU-13; stresses, moreover, the role of the Employment and Social Innovation (EaSI) Programme for promoting high levels of quality and sustainability of employment, for guaranteeing adequate and decent social protection, and for combating social exclusion and poverty;

50.  Urges the Member States to assess whether they could reduce taxes on essential items, particularly food, a step which constitutes one of the most basic social justice measures;

51.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to step up efforts for the further inclusion of people with disabilities in the labour market by removing legislative barriers, tackling discrimination and adapting workplaces, as well as by creating incentives for their employment; recalls that an adapted work environment for people with disabilities, their integration into all levels of education and training and targeted financial support are essential measures which will help them participate fully in the labour market and society as a whole; calls on the Commission to include in the social scoreboard indicators on labour and the social inclusion of people with disabilities;

52.  Welcomes the mainstreaming of the rights of people with disabilities in the proposed new guidelines for the employment policies of the Member States annexed to the AGS 2018; calls, nonetheless, for these provisions to include concrete measures to achieve the stated goals, in line with EU and Member State obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD);

53.  Encourages the Member States to implement the necessary measures for the social inclusion of refugees and people of ethnic minority or immigrant origin;

54.  Underlines the fact that the non-alignment of labour demand with labour supply is a problem facing employers across all EU regions, including the most developed, and cannot be solved by insecure or instable employment; calls on the Commission and the Member States to promote measures to facilitate the mobility of workers across jobs, sectors and locations in order to meet labour demand in less- and better-developed regions alike, while at the same time ensuring stability and decent working conditions and enabling professional progress and promotion; acknowledges that intra-EU labour mobility across the Member States helps to meet supply and demand; calls on the Commission and the Member States, furthermore, to devote particular attention to the unique circumstances of cross-border workers and workers in peripheral and outermost regions;

55.  Deplores the fact that, after countless requests from Parliament, the outermost regions are still not included in the AGS; urges the Commission, with the aim of guaranteeing equity between regions and furthering upward convergence, which has been much discussed, to step up the application of Article 349 TFEU in an effort to boost the integration of the outermost regions into the EU; stresses that the special attention given to the outermost regions must be maintained, not only with regard to allocation of funds but also in the light of the impact that European policies can have on their social situation and levels of employment;

56.  Highlights the fact that over the period 2014-2016, real wage growth lagged behind productivity growth, notwithstanding improvements in the labour market; recalls that growth in real wages, as a result of increased productivity, is crucial for tackling inequalities;

57.  Underlines the role in the reform process of the social partners as essential stakeholders, of national social dialogue practices and of civil society, and the added value of their active involvement in the drafting, sequencing and implementation of reforms; stresses that being effectively involved in the design of policies will enable social partners to feel more engaged in the national reforms adopted as a result of the country-specific recommendations of the Semester and ultimately reinforce their ownership of the outcomes; calls on the Commission, therefore, to propose guidelines for such adequate involvement of all relevant stakeholders; supports the view that new forms of employment in the globalised market require new forms of social and civil dialogue, and calls on the Commission and the Member States to support the creation of these new forms of social dialogue and the protection of these new forms of employment; stresses that all workers must be informed of their rights and be protected in the event that whistleblowing is used to report abusive practices; believes that, if we are to move towards upward convergence, social dialogue should be pursued throughout every phase of the European Semester process; affirms that the Member States need to help people build the skills required in the labour market;

58.  Highlights the fact that, according to the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (CEDEFOP) and the EU2020 scoreboard, the distribution of skills in the labour force largely matched the qualification requirements of the labour market in 2016, and that labour supply exceeded demand for all qualification types, and was particularly high for low- and medium-level qualifications; stresses that CEDEFOP forecasts show a parallel rise in skills from both demand and supply until 2025 and that skills levels are expected to change faster for the labour force than those required by the job market; calls on the Commission and the Member States, therefore, to carefully reassess the difficulties in accessing the labour market; is concerned about the increase in the over-qualification rate (25 % in 2014);

59.  Highlights that gender discrimination, such as the gender pay gap or the gap in the employment rate between men and woman, is still great, with the average gross hourly earnings of male employees about 16 % higher than those of female employees; stresses that these gaps are due to the under-representation of women in well-paid sectors, discrimination in the labour market and the large number of women in part-time work; urges that further progress is needed to narrow these gaps; calls on the Commission, in this context, to introduce into the EU 2020 strategy a gender equality pillar and an overarching gender equality objective;

60.  Calls on the Member States to incorporate the gender dimension and the principle of equality between woman and man in their national reform programmes and stability and convergence programmes, by setting qualitative targets and devising measures that address persisting gender gaps;

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

(1) OJ L 123, 12.5.2016, p. 1.
(2) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0355.
(3) OJ L 59, 2.3.2013, p. 5.
(4) OJ C 236 E, 12.8.2011, p. 57.
(5) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0451.
(6) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0418.
(7) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0403.
(8) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0360.
(9) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0260.
(10) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0073.
(11) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0039.
(12) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0010.
(13) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0338.
(14) OJ C 35, 31.1.2018, p. 157.
(15) OJ C 366, 27.10.2017, p. 19.
(16) OJ C 265, 11.8.2017, p. 48.
(17) OJ C 75, 26.2.2016, p. 130.
(18) OJ C 65, 19.2.2016, p. 40.
(19) The Digital Economy and Society Index, European Commission.
(20) OJ C 67, 20.2.2016, p. 1.

Legal notice