Index 
Texts adopted
Thursday, 19 April 2018 - StrasbourgFinal edition
Belarus
 Philippines
 Situation in Gaza Strip
 Common system of value added tax, with regard to the obligation to respect a minimum standard rate *
 Prevention of the use of the financial system for the purposes of money laundering or terrorist financing ***I
 Approval and market surveillance of motor vehicles and their trailers, and of systems, components and separate technical units intended for such vehicles ***I
 Organic production and labelling of organic products ***I
 Guidelines for the employment policies of the Member States *
 Estimates of revenue and expenditure for the financial year 2019 – Section I – European Parliament
 Protection of investigative journalists in Europe: the case of Slovak journalist Ján Kuciak and Martina Kušnírová
 A European values instrument to support civil society organisations which promote democracy, rule of law and fundamental values within the European Union
 The violation of human rights and the rule of law in the case of two Greek soldiers arrested and detained in Turkey
 Implementation of the Treaty provisions concerning national Parliaments
 Annual report on Competition policy
 Vaccine hesitancy and drop in vaccination rates in Europe
 Implementation of the European Protection Order Directive
 The Implementation of the Bologna Process - state of play and follow-up

Belarus
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European Parliament resolution of 19 April 2018 on Belarus (2018/2661(RSP))
P8_TA(2018)0174RC-B8-0197/2018

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its previous resolutions and recommendations on Belarus,

–  having regard to the parliamentary elections of 11 September 2016, the presidential elections of 11 October 2015 and the local elections of 18 February 2018 held in Belarus,

–  having regard to the statement of 20 February 2018 by the spokesperson of the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs (VP/HR) on the local elections in Belarus,

–  having regard to the statement of 25 March 2018 by the spokesperson of the VP/HR on developments in the run up to and during Freedom Day in Belarus,

–  having regard to the Council conclusions on Belarus, in particular those of 15 February 2016 lifting sanctions against 170 individuals and three Belarusian companies and setting out the framework for policy dialogue and the conditions for EU-Belarus relations to develop on a more positive agenda, notably as regards democratic reforms,

–  having regard to the conclusions of the Eastern Partnership Summit of 24 November 2017, and the endorsement of the 20 Deliverables for 2020, which is designed to bring results for citizens,

–  having regard to the visit of Commissioner Hahn to Belarus in January 2018 and the ongoing negotiations on the EU-Belarus Partnership Priorities,

–  having regard to the decision of the Foreign Affairs Council to prolong for one year until February 2019 the remaining restrictive measures against Belarus, including an arms embargo, the ban on the export of goods for internal repression and an asset freeze and travel ban against four individuals listed in connection with the unresolved disappearance of two opposition politicians, one businessman and one journalist in 1999 and 2000,

–  having regard to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and to all human rights conventions to which Belarus is a party,

–  having regard to the statement of the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Belarus of 28 March 2018,

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

A.  whereas following the presidential elections in 2015 and the parliamentary elections in 2016, Belarus held local elections on 18 February 2018; whereas the longstanding recommendations by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) and the Venice Commission in the field of electoral legislation and processes remain unaddressed in Belarus; whereas, according to foreign diplomatic and Belarusian observers, the local elections that were held in February 2018 only reconfirmed such shortcomings;

B.  whereas the EU lifted most of its restrictive measures against Belarusian officials and legal entities in February 2016 as a gesture of goodwill designed to encourage Belarus to improve its records on human rights, democracy and the rule of law;

C.  whereas the EU has repeatedly stated that respect for fundamental freedoms, the rule of law and human rights constitutes a clear precondition for the improvement and further advancement of relations between the European Union and Belarus; whereas, however, the situation in the country continues to remain of concern, as only very limited, tentative steps for improvements can be observed in this respect;

D.  whereas the long-awaited constitutional and legislative reforms that would allow for the development of a true democracy are lagging behind;

E.  whereas no electoral reform has been attempted and, as demonstrated during the local elections of February 2018, a significant number of severe shortcomings and procedural irregularities remain, including a restrictive legal framework for political rights throughout all stages of election campaigns and problems with observing, voting and counting votes; whereas since 1994 no free and fair elections have been conducted in Belarus;

F.  whereas international observers were not invited to observe the local elections, while the Belarusian observers, for their part, collected tangible evidence of mass nationwide efforts to inflate turnout totals and of carousel voting, with the latter being used for the first time in several years;

G.  whereas intimidatory activities continue, including numerous cases of the detainment of independent and opposition activists, politicians and journalists; whereas, once again, prominent members of the opposition, and pro-democracy and human rights defenders, were prevented from participating in or were arrested in the run-up to, and during, an unauthorised demonstration in Minsk on 25 March 2018 to mark the 100th anniversary of Belarus’ proclamation of independence, although most were subsequently released without charge;

H.  whereas two political prisoners, Mikhail Zhamchuzhny and Dzmitry Paliyenka, remain in detention;

I.  whereas the European Parliament has been supporting Belarusian civil society for years, by awarding the Sakharov Prize to the Belarusian Association of Journalists in 2004 and to Alaksandr Milinkievich in 2006, among other initiatives;

J.  whereas the events of Freedom Day 2018 demonstrate once again that the Belarusian Government has no intention of abandoning its old policies of repressing, on a mass scale, citizens attempting to exercise rights provided for by the constitution and by international treaties;

K.  whereas on 24 January 2018 the Ministry of Information arbitrarily blocked access to the leading independent news website Charter97.org on the territory of Belarus; whereas criminal proceedings against independent bloggers have been opened; whereas the draft amendments to the Law on the Media would, if adopted, pose a new and significant threat to freedom of expression in the country;

L.  whereas on 25 October 2016 Belarus adopted its first National Human Rights Action Plan, approved by a resolution of the Belarusian Council of Ministers, which defines the principle lines of action for implementing the country’s human rights commitments;

M.  whereas Belarus is the only country in Europe that still carries out capital punishment; whereas the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Belarus has noted that death sentences in Belarus can be considered highly disputable owing to the lack of an independent judiciary and of fair trials;

N.  whereas the EU and Belarus are currently negotiating tailor-made Partnership Priorities, whose main areas of interest include economic development and modernisation, strengthening institutions and good governance, connectivity and people-to-people contacts; whereas the Belarusian Government has repeatedly stated that it is seeking the normalisation of relations with the EU, the lifting of the remaining sanctions, and visa liberalisation; whereas, however, progress in this regard is necessarily subject to Belarus showing political will and commitment towards democratic values, the rule of law and fundamental freedoms;

1.  Supports the EU’s critical engagement with Belarus, as long as it is conditioned on the undertaking of concrete steps towards democratisation and on the Belarusian authorities’ complete respect for fundamental freedoms and human rights;

2.  Notes with disappointment the lack of implementation, despite earlier appeals, of the recommendations made by the OSCE ODIHR and the Venice Commission following the presidential elections in 2015 and the parliamentary elections in 2016, which were supposed to be implemented before the 2018 local elections; calls on the Belarusian authorities to resume without delay work on comprehensive electoral reforms, as part of the broader democratisation process and in cooperation with international partners;

3.  Deplores the harassment of journalists and independent media in Belarus in the follow-up to the local elections, including the illegal removal from a polling station and brutal treatment of Belsat TV journalist Andrus Kozel, and the blocking of the news portal Charter97, among other actions;

4.  Urges the Belarusian authorities to immediately and unconditionally lift the blockage imposed on the leading independent news website Charter97.org, to abandon the amendments to the Law on the Media, which, if adopted, would threaten freedom of expression, and to end the persecution of independent bloggers for practicing free expression;

5.  Notes that the number of democratic opposition representatives at precinct-level voting stations was disproportionately low in relation to the number of applications submitted;

6.  Expresses disappointment at the repeated refusal to register democratic opposition parties; calls for the lifting of restrictions and the easing of registration procedures for political parties in Belarus; stresses that all political parties must be allowed to conduct unrestricted political activities, especially during election campaigns; calls for the repeal of Article 193/1 of the Criminal Code of Belarus, which criminalises participation in the activities of non-registered organisations;

7.  Regrets the Belarusian authorities’ disproportionate reaction to opposition activists’ efforts to organise an unauthorised rally on the Freedom Day celebrations of 25 March 2018, which led to dozens of arrests, including of opposition leaders and former presidential candidates Mikalai Statkevich and Uladzimir Niakliaev; reiterates that freedom of assembly and association is a fundamental human right; stresses that any serious backtracking in terms of democracy and respect for fundamental freedoms, including more detentions of political prisoners, should in each case bring about a clear reaction from the EU in its relations with Belarus;

8.  Strongly calls for the release of Mikhail Zhamchuzhny and Dzmitry Paliyenka, two civil society activists currently detained for political reasons, and for all former political prisoners to be rehabilitated and their civil and political rights restored;

9.  Reiterates its call on the Belarusian authorities to ensure, in all circumstances, respect for democratic principles, human rights and fundamental freedoms, in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the international and regional human rights instruments ratified by Belarus;

10.  Points out that respect for fundamental freedoms is a key element of a healthy democracy; urges the Belarusian authorities to engage in a constructive and open dialogue with the democratic opposition and with civil society organisations, with a view to guaranteeing citizens’ freedoms and rights, in particular the right to association, peaceful assembly and expression, as well as to securing a framework for free and independent media;

11.  Strongly reiterates its call on Belarus to join a global moratorium on the death penalty as a first step towards its permanent abolition; recalls that the death penalty constitutes inhumane and degrading treatment, has no proven deterrent effect and makes judicial errors irreversible; notes with regret that Belarusian courts have handed out new death penalties in 2018;

12.  Calls on the EEAS and the Commission to continue support for civil society organisations in Belarus and abroad; stresses, in this context, the need to support all independent sources of information for Belarusian society, including media broadcasting in the Belarusian language, and from abroad;

13.  Takes note of the EU-Belarus sector dialogues at technical level and the broadening of cooperation in areas such as economic reform, resource efficiency, the green economy and environmental protection; calls on the EEAS and the Commission to prioritise the safety of the Belarusian nuclear power plant in Ostrovets, and to ensure that progress in EU-Belarus relations is conditional on increased openness and cooperation, and on full compliance with international nuclear and environmental safety standards, on the part of Belarus;

14.  Regrets that the current human rights dialogue is not yielding concrete results and urges the EU Special Representative for Human Rights to find ways and means to promote the full and effective protection of human rights in Belarus; calls for the release of all political prisoners;

15.  Takes note of the ongoing negotiations on EU-Belarus Partnership Priorities and looks forward to their swift conclusion, which will broaden the scope of bilateral cooperation for the benefit of citizens on both sides and allow Belarus access to a wider scope of financial assistance and cooperation, conditional on it taking clear and tangible steps towards democratisation and openness, including, as a priority, comprehensive election reform; welcomes, in this context, the Commission’s plan to increase the allocation of financial assistance for the period 2018-2020; insists on clearer reform commitments by the Belarusian Government and recommends the setting up of a roadmap for closer EU-Belarus relations in the form of benchmarks and a timeline for the implementation of such commitments;

16.  Urges continued EU support to civil society organisations and human rights defenders, and calls on the Commission to work closely with, and follow the recommendations of, the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum; urges the Belarusian Government to ensure civic participation in policy-making processes at local and national level, drawing inspiration from the guidelines adopted by the Council of Europe on 27 November 2017; notes the growing interaction between Belarus and this organisation;

17.  Calls, in this regard, on the EEAS and the Commission to find ways to inform and consult with Belarus civil society organisations about the ongoing EU-Belarus dialogue and negotiations;

18.  Notes with satisfaction the start of the implementation of the EU-Belarus Mobility Partnership, and is looking forward to finalising the EU-Belarus Visa Facilitation and Readmission Agreements, as a clear contribution to people-to-people and business contacts;

19.  Welcomes the decision by the Minsk authorities allowing, since February 2018, short visa-free stays in Belarus for foreign citizens of 80 countries;

20.  Welcomes the progress made in promoting EU-Belarus youth exchanges and people-to-people contacts, including through the EU’s MOST mobility scheme, Erasmus+, Horizon 2020 and the Technical Assistance and Information Exchange instrument (TAIEX), and through Belarus’ accession to the Bologna Process; calls for the implementation of the Bologna Process in accordance with the roadmap agreed jointly by the European Higher Education Area (EHEA) and Belarus, a measure that will benefit young Belarusians and further improve exchanges, and people-to-people contacts, with the EU;

21.  Calls for the renewal of the mandate of the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Belarus; calls on the Belarusian Government to cooperate fully with the Special Rapporteur; calls on the EU and its Member States to promote and support the extension of the UN Special Rapporteur’s mandate, and invites the EU Special Representative for Human Rights to cooperate with the UN Special Rapporteur in order to improve the situation in the country;

22.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Commission, the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the European External Action Service, the Council, the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, the Council of Europe, and the governments and parliaments of the Member States, as well as to the Belarusian authorities.


Philippines
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European Parliament resolution of 19 April 2018 on the Philippines (2018/2662(RSP))
P8_TA(2018)0175RC-B8-0198/2018

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its previous resolutions on the situation in the Philippines, in particular those of 15 September 2016(1) and of 16 March 2017(2),

–  having regard to the Statement by the EEAS Spokesperson of 16 March 2018 on the Philippines and the International Criminal Court,

–  having regard to the statements by the EU Delegation and the spokesperson of the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (VP/HR),

–  having regard to the Framework Agreement on Partnership and Cooperation between the European Union and its Member States, of the one part, and the Republic of the Philippines, of the other part,

–  having regard to the joint staff working document of the Commission and the VP/HR of 19 January 2018 on the EU Special Incentive Arrangement for Sustainable Development and Good Governance (GSP+) assessment of the Philippines covering the period 2016-2017 (SWD(2018)0032),

–  having regard to the statements by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, regarding the accusations by the Government of the Philippines that the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and other human rights defenders were involved in terrorist activities,

–  having regard to the outcome of the ASEAN-EU commemorative summit on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the establishment of ASEAN-EU dialogue relations, and to the ASEAN-EU Plan of Action (2018-2022),

–  having regard to the statement by the Chair of the European Parliament’s Subcommittee on Human Rights of 23 February 2018 that ‘keeping Senator De Lima in prison without charge is unacceptable’,

–  having regard to the diplomatic relations between the Philippines and the EU (formerly the European Economic Community (EEC)) established on 12 May 1964 with the appointment of the Philippine Ambassador to the EEC,

–  having regard to the status of the Philippines as a founding member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN),

–  having regard to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child,

–  having regard to the International Convention for the Protection of all Persons from Enforced Disappearance,

–  having regard to the EU Guidelines on Human Rights,

–  having regard to the Rome Statute,

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

–  having regard to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR),

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

A.  whereas the Philippines and the EU have longstanding diplomatic, economic, cultural and political relations; whereas through ratification of the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA), the European Union and the Philippines have reaffirmed their joint commitment to the principles of good governance, democracy, the rule of law, human rights, the promotion of social and economic development, and to peace and security in the region;

B.  whereas since 1 July 2016, around 12 000 people, including women and children, have, reportedly, been killed in the Philippines during an ongoing campaign against drugs, internationally proclaimed as President Duterte’s ‘war on drugs’; whereas President Duterte has vowed to continue his anti-drug campaign until the end of his presidential term in 2022; whereas the EU remains deeply concerned about the high number of killings associated with the campaign against illegal drugs in the Philippines;

C.  whereas the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, a Philippine national, has been accused of terrorism and, along with 600 other individuals including indigenous leaders and human rights defenders, was put on a list of terrorist organisations by the Philippines Government in March 2018; whereas UN experts enjoy legal immunity; whereas the accusations followed Tauli-Corpuz’s condemnation of the army’s attacks on the indigenous Lumad peoples in Mindanao; whereas Tauli-Corpuz noted the use of harassment, torture and arrests against indigenous people peacefully protecting their property;

D.  whereas Senator Leila De Lima, a human rights activist and the highest-profile critic of Philippine President Duterte’s anti-drugs campaign, was removed from her position as chairperson of the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights on 19 September 2016 and was arrested on 23 February 2017; whereas Senator De Lima led the investigations into the extrajudicial killings in Davao while President Duterte was mayor of the city; whereas there are serious concerns that the offences Senator De Lima has been charged with are almost entirely fabricated and politically motivated;

E.  whereas the targeting of indigenous peoples by the Philippines authorities is a serious concern; whereas, at the end of December, the UN warned about the massive human rights violations suffered by Lumads on the Philippine island of Mindanao; whereas UN experts estimate that, since October 2017, at least 2 500 Lumads have been displaced; whereas it is feared that some of these attacks are motivated by unfounded suspicions that the Lumads are involved with terrorist groups, or by their resistance to mining activities on ancestral lands;

F.  whereas the Philippines signed the Rome Statute on 28 December 2000 and ratified the Statute on 30 August 2011; whereas the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) has opened a preliminary examination of the situation in the Philippines, which will analyse crimes allegedly committed in the country since at least 1 July 2016 in the context of the ‘war on drugs’ campaign launched by the Government of the Philippines;

G.  whereas on 19 March 2018 the ICC was officially notified by the UN that the Philippines had, on 17 March 2018, deposited a written notification of withdrawal from the Rome Statute;

H.  whereas the Philippines House of Representatives approved a bill on 7 March 2017 to reinstate the death penalty; whereas the bill still requires senatorial approval before the president can sign it into law; whereas President Duterte has actively campaigned for the reinstatement of the death penalty; whereas reintroduction of the death penalty would be in clear violation of the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which the Philippines is party as of 2007;

I.  whereas Philippines ranks 111 out of 180 countries in terms of corruption in the Corruption Ranking published annually by Transparency International;

J.  whereas there is an increasingly shrinking space for civil society; whereas human rights defenders are reportedly facing an increasingly hostile environment in the Philippines; whereas President Duterte has made statements encouraging police attacks against human rights groups and advocates;

K.  whereas persons who make public statements against the extrajudicial killings face the risk of being banned from entering the Philippines;

L.  whereas President Duterte has made a number of derogatory and demeaning statements about women and has repeatedly justified rape and called for the shooting of women;

M.  whereas human rights defenders, journalists and activists routinely face threats, harassment, intimidation and violence for seeking to expose allegations of extra-judicial killings and other human rights abuses in the Philippines; whereas the LGTBI community faces continuous harassment;

N.  whereas the Philippines is a beneficiary of the European Union’s Generalised Scheme of Preferences Plus (GSP+);

O.  whereas the EU-Philippines Partnership and Cooperation Agreement calls for the establishment of a meaningful human rights dialogue in the form of a Working Group on Human Rights;

1.  Calls on the Government of the Philippines to put an immediate end to the extrajudicial killings in the pretext of a ‘war on drugs’; strongly condemns the high number of extrajudicial killings by the armed forces and vigilante groups related to the anti-drug campaign; expresses its condolences to the families of the victims; expresses grave concern over credible reports to the effect that the Philippine police force is falsifying evidence to justify extrajudicial killings, and that it is overwhelmingly the urban poor who are being targeted;

2.  Notes the government’s recent initiatives to ensure a more unified and integrated approach to anti-drug efforts based on enforcement, justice, advocacy and rehabilitation and integration; welcomes Senate Resolution 516 filed in the Philippines on 25 September 2017 urging the authorities to ‘undertake the necessary steps to stop the spate of killings, especially of our children’; calls on the government to prioritise the fight against drug trafficking networks and big drug barons over tracking down small-scale consumers; stresses that the authorities of the Philippines must pursue their fight against illicit drugs with a focus on public health and in full compliance with due process, in line with national and international law; invites the government to adopt specific non-violent policies;

3.  Invites the authorities to cooperate fully with the UN Special Procedures; calls on the authorities of the Philippines to immediately carry out impartial and meaningful investigations into these extrajudicial killings and to prosecute and bring all perpetrators to justice; calls for the EU and all its Member States to support a United Nations-led investigation into the killings in the Philippines and for those accountable to be brought to justice;

4.  Reiterates its call on the authorities of the Philippines to release Senator Leila De Lima and to provide her with adequate security and sanitary conditions whilst in detention; further reiterates its call on the authorities to guarantee a fair trial and to drop all politically motivated charges against her; calls for the EU to continue to closely monitor the case against Senator De Lima;

5.  Calls on the Philippine authorities to remove human rights defenders from the terrorist list, dropping all charges and allowing them to carry out their activities in peace; reminds the Philippine authorities that Ms Victoria Tauli-Corpuz benefits from immunity under the Convention on Privileges and Immunities of 1946;

6.  Welcomes the initiative of the ICC to inquire into the allegations of crimes against humanity in the context of the killings during the ‘war on drugs’; calls on the Government of the Philippines to cooperate fully with the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court in its preliminary examination of the Philippines; strongly regrets the decision of the Government of the Philippines to initiate its withdrawal from the Rome Statute; calls on the Government to reverse this decision;

7.  Reiterates its deep concern about the decision of the House of Representatives to reintroduce the death penalty; calls again on the authorities of the Philippines to immediately halt ongoing proceedings to reinstate the death penalty; recalls that the EU considers capital punishment to be a cruel and inhuman punishment which fails to act as a deterrent to criminal behaviour; calls on the Government of the Philippines to refrain from lowering the minimum age for criminal responsibility;

8.  Is alarmed about increasing levels of corruption under the current Philippine administration; calls on the Philippine authorities to step up efforts to tackle corruption effectively; underscores the importance of respecting fundamental principles of democracy and rule of law in this respect;

9.  Condemns all threats, harassment, intimidation and violence against those seeking to expose allegations of extra-judicial killings and other human rights abuses in the Philippines, including human rights defenders, journalists and activists; urges the Government of the Philippines to ensure that human rights defenders, journalists and activists can carry out their work in an enabling environment and without fear of reprisals;

10.  Urges the Philippines to stop banning the entry into the country of persons who are perceived as critics of President Duterte’s policies;

11.  Urges the Philippines to observe its obligations under international law to protect the human rights of indigenous peoples, including in the context of armed conflict;

12.  Condemns all forms of violence against women and recalls that such violence constitutes a serious violation of the human rights and dignity of women and girls; strongly condemns President Duterte’s demeaning and misogynist statements about women fighters; reminds the President that encouraging state forces to commit sexual violence during armed conflict is in violation of international humanitarian law; calls on the President to treat women with respect and to refrain from inciting violence against women;

13.  Encourages the EU and its Member States to consider calling for the Republic of the Philippines to be removed from the United Nations Human Rights Council before its current membership term expires at the end of 2018;

14.  Reminds the authorities of the Philippines of their obligations under international law, the GSP+ scheme and the PCA, notably with regard to human rights, and of the consequences of failure to comply; stresses that, while the progress in the implementation of the GSP+ conventions is largely positive, strong concerns remain around human rights violations related to the war on drugs; recalls, in this respect, its previous resolution of 16 March 2017on the Philippines, and calls on the Commission and the External Action Service to use all available instruments, including the PCA, to persuade the Philippines to put an end to extrajudicial killings related to the anti-drug campaign and, in the absence of substantive improvements, to initiate the procedural steps which could lead to the temporary withdrawal of the GSP+ preferences; urges the EU to use all available instruments to assist the Government of the Philippines in respecting its international human rights obligations;

15.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the President, the Government and Parliament of the Philippines, the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the Council, the Commission, the parliaments and governments of the Member States, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the governments of the ASEAN Member States.

(1) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0349.
(2) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0088.


Situation in Gaza Strip
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European Parliament resolution of 19 April 2018 on the situation in the Gaza Strip (2018/2663(RSP))
P8_TA(2018)0176RC-B8-0191/2018

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its previous resolutions on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the Middle East peace process,

–  having regard to the statement by Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (VP/HR) Federica Mogherini of 31 March 2018, and to those by her spokesperson of 5 and 7 April and 19 February 2018,

–  having regard to the statement by UN Secretary-General António Guterres of 5 April 2018, and that of his spokesperson of 30 March 2018,

–  having regard to the statement by the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Fatou Bensouda, of 8 April 2018,

–  having regard to the relevant UN General Assembly and Security Council resolutions,

–  having regard to the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War of 1949,

–  having regard to the UN Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials of 1990,

–  having regard to the UN report ‘Gaza Ten Years Later’ of July 2017,

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

A.  whereas the Great March of Return, a six-week weekly mass protest, began on 30 March 2018 in the Gaza Strip, organised by civil society groups; whereas Hamas and other Palestinian factions called for the population to join the march; whereas the Israeli authorities reported that stones and firebombs had been thrown against their defence forces and that some protestors had attempted to damage and cross the fence into Israel;

B.  whereas the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) opened fire on the protesters using live ammunition on 30 March, 6 April and 13 April 2018; whereas close to 30 Palestinians have been killed and more than 2 000 have been wounded, including many children and women;

C.  whereas UN Secretary-General António Guterres, VP/HR Federica Mogherini and a number of other international actors have called for independent and transparent investigations into these violent events, with special regard to the use of live ammunition;

D.  whereas the UN Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials allow the intentional lethal use of firearms only in the circumstances provided for under Principle 9 thereof;

E.  whereas Hamas is on the EU list of terrorist organisations and calls for the destruction of Israel; whereas the firing of rockets from the Gaza Strip into Israeli territory continues; whereas over the past few weeks there has been an increase in terrorist attacks against Israel with the escalation of military incidents in and around Gaza;

F.  whereas, according to UN data, 1,3 million people in Gaza are in need of humanitarian assistance, 47 % of households suffer from severe or moderate food insecurity, 97 % of piped water is unfit for human consumption, 80 % of energy needs are not met, and more than 40 % of the population in the area are unemployed;

G.  whereas Hamas continues to keep the population under its control and pressure in the Gaza Strip, which remains a hub of internationally recognised terrorist organisations; whereas basic freedoms, including freedom of association and expression, are heavily curtailed by the Hamas-led authorities; whereas, beyond the blockade, the intra-Palestinian divide further reduces the capacity of local institutions in Gaza to deliver basic services; whereas the recent attempted assassination of Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah during his visit to the area has further deepened the deadlock in the process of Palestinian reconciliation;

H.  whereas Avera Mengistu, who emigrated to Israel from Ethiopia, and Hisham al-Sayed, a Palestinian Bedouin from Israel, both of whom have psychosocial disabilities, are believed to be held in unlawful, incommunicado detention in the Gaza Strip; whereas the remains of Israeli soldiers Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul continue to be held by Hamas in Gaza;

1.  Calls for utmost restraint and underlines that the priority must be to avoid any further escalation of violence and loss of life;

2.  Expresses its regret at the loss of lives; condemns the killings and injury of innocent Palestinian demonstrators in the Gaza Strip over the past three weeks, and urges the IDF to refrain from using lethal force against unarmed protestors; expresses its condolences to the families of the victims; reiterates the need to enable the quick delivery of medical equipment to those who need it, and to allow medical referrals to hospitals outside Gaza for humanitarian reasons;

3.  Recognises Israel’s security challenges and the need to protect its territory and borders while using proportionate means; condemns the terror attacks by Hamas and other militant groups against Israel from the Gaza Strip, including the firing of rockets, infiltration into Israeli territory and the building of tunnels; expresses its concern that Hamas seems to be aiming at escalating tensions; strongly condemns the persistent tactic of Hamas of using civilians for the purpose of shielding terrorist activities;

4.  Stresses the right of Palestinians to peaceful protest as a legitimate exercise of their fundamental rights to freedom of expression, assembly and association; calls on those leading the protests in the Gaza Strip to avoid any incitement to violence, and to ensure that any protests, demonstrations and assemblies remain strictly non-violent and cannot be exploited for other means; calls on Israel to respect this fundamental right to peaceful protest;

5.  Supports the calls for independent and transparent investigations into these violent events; takes note of the Fact-Finding Assessment Mechanism established by the Israel Defence Forces to review IDF actions and specific incidents that have taken place on the Israeli-Gaza border since 30 March 2018; recalls the importance of accountability and that the intentional use of lethal force against protesters who do not pose an imminent threat to life or serious injury violates international human rights law and in the context of occupation is a serious breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention;

6.  Notes with deep concern the warning in various UN reports that the Gaza Strip may become unliveable by 2020; deplores in particular that the health sector is close to collapse, with hospitals facing severe shortages of medicine, equipment and electricity; calls for an immediate and meaningful international effort for the reconstruction and rehabilitation of Gaza, with the aim of easing the humanitarian crisis; applauds the work of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) providing food assistance, access to education and healthcare, and other vital services to the 1,3 million Palestine refugee population in the area;

7.  Calls for an immediate and unconditional end to the blockade and closure of the Gaza Strip, which has resulted in a deteriorating, unprecedented humanitarian crisis in the area;

8.  Calls again for the return of the Palestinian Authority to the Gaza Strip in order that it can assume its government functions, which must be a priority; calls on all Palestinian factions to resume efforts towards reconciliation, which is crucial also for improving the situation of the people in Gaza; stresses that Palestinian reconciliation, including the long-overdue presidential and parliamentary elections, is important for reaching the two-state solution and should continue to be supported by the EU through innovative action; calls for the disarmament of all militant groups in the Gaza Strip;

9.  Calls for Avera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed to be freed and returned to Israel; calls for the remains of Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul to be returned and offers its condolences to their families; calls for the remains of killed Palestinians to be returned;

10.  Calls again on all parties involved in the conflict to fully respect the rights of detainees and prisoners;

11.  Recalls that the situation in the Gaza Strip has to be seen within the broader context of the Middle East peace process; reiterates that the EU’s main objective is to achieve the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on the basis of the 1967 borders, with Jerusalem as the capital of both states, with the secure State of Israel and an independent, democratic, contiguous and viable Palestinian State living side by side in peace and security, on the basis of the right of self-determination and full respect for international law;

12.  Stresses that non-violent means and respect for human rights and humanitarian law, by both state and non-state actors, are the only way to achieve a sustainable solution and a just and lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians; believes also that continuing violence, acts of terrorism and incitement to violence are fundamentally incompatible with advancing a peaceful two-state solution; notes that upholding the commitment to act effectively against violence, terrorism, hate speech and incitement is critical to rebuilding confidence and to avoiding escalation that will further undermine the prospects for peace;

13.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Common Foreign and Security Policy, the EU Special Representative for the Middle East Peace Process, the parliaments and governments of the Member States, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, the Knesset, the President and the Government of Israel, the Palestinian Legislative Council, and the President of the Palestinian Authority.


Common system of value added tax, with regard to the obligation to respect a minimum standard rate *
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European Parliament legislative resolution of 19 April 2018 on the proposal for a Council directive amending Directive 2006/112/EC on the common system of value added tax, with regard to the obligation to respect a minimum standard rate (COM(2017)0783 – C8-0007/2018 – 2017/0349(CNS))
P8_TA(2018)0177A8-0124/2018

(Special legislative procedure – consultation)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Commission proposal to the Council (COM(2017)0783),

–  having regard to Article 113 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union , pursuant to which the Council consulted Parliament (C8‑0007/2018),

–  having regard to Rule 78c of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs (A8-0124/2018),

1.  Approves the Commission proposal;

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

3.  Asks the Council to consult Parliament again if it intends to substantially amend the text approved by Parliament;

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


Prevention of the use of the financial system for the purposes of money laundering or terrorist financing ***I
PDF 242kWORD 47k
Resolution
Text
European Parliament legislative resolution of 19 April 2018 on the proposal for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Directive (EU) 2015/849 on the prevention of the use of the financial system for the purposes of money laundering or terrorist financing and amending Directive 2009/101/EC (COM(2016)0450 – C8-0265/2016 – 2016/0208(COD))
P8_TA(2018)0178A8-0056/2017

(Ordinary legislative procedure: first reading)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Commission proposal to Parliament and the Council (COM(2016)0450),

–  having regard to Article 294(2) and Articles 50 and 114 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, pursuant to which the Commission submitted the proposal to Parliament (C8‑0265/2016),

–  having regard to the opinion of the Committee on Legal Affairs on the proposed legal basis,

–  having regard to Articles 294(3) and 114 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

–  having regard to the opinion of the European Central Bank of 12 October 2016(1),

–  having regard to the opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee of 19 October 2016(2),

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

–  having regard to Rules 59 and 39 of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the joint deliberations of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs and the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs under Rule 55 of the Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs and the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs and the opinions of the Committee on Development, the Committee on International Trade and the Committee on Legal Affairs (A8-0056/2017),

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

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

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

Position of the European Parliament adopted at first reading on 19 April 2018 with a view to the adoption of Directive (EU) 2018/… of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Directive (EU) 2015/849 on the prevention of the use of the financial system for the purposes of money laundering or terrorist financing, and amending Directives 2009/138/EC and 2013/36/EU

(As an agreement was reached between Parliament and Council, Parliament's position corresponds to the final legislative act, Directive (EU) 2018/843.)

(1) OJ C 459, 9.12.2016, p. 3.
(2) OJ C 34, 2.2.2017, p. 121.


Approval and market surveillance of motor vehicles and their trailers, and of systems, components and separate technical units intended for such vehicles ***I
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Resolution
Text
European Parliament legislative resolution of 19 April 2018 on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the approval and market surveillance of motor vehicles and their trailers, and of systems, components and separate technical units intended for such vehicles (COM(2016)0031 – C8-0015/2016 – 2016/0014(COD))
P8_TA(2018)0179A8-0048/2017

(Ordinary legislative procedure: first reading)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Commission proposal to Parliament and the Council (COM(2016)0031),

–  having regard to Article 294(2) and Article 114 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, pursuant to which the Commission submitted the proposal to Parliament (C8-0015/2016),

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

–  having regard to the opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee of 25 May 2016(1),

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

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection and the opinions of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety and the Committee on Transport and Tourism (A8-0048/2017),

1.  Adopts its position at first reading hereinafter set out(2);

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 19 April 2018 with a view to the adoption of Regulation (EU) 2018/… of the European Parliament and of the Council on the approval and market surveillance of motor vehicles and their trailers, and of systems, components and separate technical units intended for such vehicles, amending Regulations (EC) No 715/2007 and (EC) No 595/2009 and repealing Directive 2007/46/EC

(As an agreement was reached between Parliament and Council, Parliament's position corresponds to the final legislative act, Regulation (EU) 2018/858.)

(1) OJ C 303, 19.8.2016, p. 86.
(2) This position replaces the amendments adopted on 4 April 2017 (Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0097).


Organic production and labelling of organic products ***I
PDF 138kWORD 60k
Resolution
Text
Annex
European Parliament legislative resolution of 19 April 2018 on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on organic production and labelling of organic products, amending Regulation (EU) No XXX/XXX of the European Parliament and of the Council [Official controls Regulation] and repealing Council Regulation (EC) No 834/2007 (COM(2014)0180 – C7-0109/2014 – 2014/0100(COD))
P8_TA(2018)0180A8-0311/2015

(Ordinary legislative procedure: first reading)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Commission proposal to Parliament and the Council (COM(2014)0180),

–  having regard to Article 294(2) and Articles 42 and 43(2) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, pursuant to which the Commission submitted the proposal to Parliament (C7‑0109/2014),

–  having regard to the opinion of the Committee on Legal Affairs on the proposed legal basis,

–  having regard to Article 294(3) and Article 43(2) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

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

–  having regard to the opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee of 15 October 2014(1),

–  having regard to the opinion of the Committee of the Regions of 4 December 2014(2).

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

–  having regard to Rules 59 and 39 of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development and the opinion the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (A8-0311/2015),

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

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

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

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

Position of the European Parliament adopted at first reading on 19 April 2018 with a view to the adoption of Regulation (EU) 2018/… of the European Parliament and of the Council on organic production and labelling of organic products and repealing Council Regulation (EC) No 834/2007

(As an agreement was reached between Parliament and Council, Parliament's position corresponds to the final legislative act, Regulation (EU) 2018/848.)

ANNEX TO THE LEGISLATIVE RESOLUTION

Commission statement on temporary experiments for organic varieties

The Commission acknowledges the need to establish conditions under which organic varieties suitable for organic production shall be developed.

For the purpose of establishing criteria for the description of the characteristics of ‘organic varieties suitable for organic production’, as well as defining the conditions under which ‘organic varieties suitable for organic production’ may be produced with a view to marketing, the Commission will organise at the latest 6 months after the date of application of the present Regulation a temporary experiment.

This temporary experiment will establish criteria for describing the distinctness, uniformity, stability, and, where applicable, the value for cultivation and use of organic varieties suitable for organic production and address other marketing conditions such as labelling and packaging. These conditions and criteria will take into account the specific needs and aims of organic agriculture such as enhancing genetic diversity, disease resistance and adaptation to soil and climate conditions. Yearly reports will be produced to monitor the progress of the temporary experiment

In the framework of such an experiment, which shall have a term of seven years and foresee sufficient quantities, Member States may be released from certain obligations laid down in Directive 66/401/EEC, Directive 66/402/EEC, Directive 68/193/EEC, Directive 2002/53/EC, Directive 2002/54/EC, Directive 2002/55/EC, Directive 2002/56/EC, Directive 2002/57/EC, Directive 2008/72/EC and Directive 2008/90/EC.

 The Commission will assess the result of this experiment with a view to propose the amendment of the requirements of the horizontal legislation on the marketing of seeds and other plant reproductive materials to the characteristics of the ‘organic varieties suitable for organic production’.

Commission statement on Article 55

The Commission underlines that it is contrary to the letter and to the spirit of Regulation (EU) No 182/2011 (OJ L 55, 28.2.2011, p. 13) to invoke point (b) of the second subparagraph of Article 5(4) thereof in a systematic manner. Recourse to this provision must respond to a specific need to depart from the rule of principle which is that the Commission may adopt a draft implementing act when no opinion is delivered. Given that it is an exception to the general rule established by Article 5(4), recourse to point b) of the second subparagraph thereof cannot be simply seen as a "discretionary power" of the Legislator, but must be interpreted in a restrictive manner and thus must be justified.

(1) OJ C 12, 15.1.2015, p. 75.
(2) OJ C 19, 21.1.2015, p. 84.


Guidelines for the employment policies of the Member States *
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European Parliament legislative resolution of 19 April 2018 on the proposal for a Council decision on guidelines for the employment policies of the Member States (COM(2017)0677 – C8-0424/2017 – 2017/0305(NLE))
P8_TA(2018)0181A8-0140/2018

(Consultation)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Commission proposal to the Council (COM(2017)0677),

–  having regard to Article 148(2) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, pursuant to which the Council consulted Parliament (C8-0424/2017),

–  having regard to its position of 15 September 2016 on the proposal for a Council decision on guidelines for the employment policies of the Member States(1),

–  having regard to its position of 8 July 2015 on the proposal for a Council decision on guidelines for the employment policies of the Member States(2),

–  having regard to Rule 78c of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs (A8-0140/2018),

1.  Approves the Commission proposal as amended;

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

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

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

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

Text proposed by the Commission   Amendment
Amendment 1
Proposal for a decision
Recital 1
(1)  Member States and the Union are to work towards developing a coordinated strategy for employment and particularly for promoting a skilled, trained and adaptable workforce and labour markets responsive to economic change, with a view to achieving the objectives of full employment and social progress set out in Article 3 of the Treaty on European Union. Member States, taking into account national practices related to the responsibilities of management and labour, are to regard promoting employment as a matter of common concern and coordinate their action in this respect within the Council.
(1)  Member States and the Union are to develop and deliver an effective and coordinated strategy for employment and particularly for promoting inclusive labour markets responsive to economic, social, technological and environmental realities and changes, with a skilled, trained and adaptable workforce, and for safeguarding the well-being of all workers, with a view to achieving the objectives of a social market economy, full employment and social progress as set out in Article 3 of the Treaty on European Union. Member States, taking into account national practices related to the responsibilities of management and labour, are to regard promoting employment as a matter of common concern and coordinate their action in this respect within the Council.
Amendment 2
Proposal for a decision
Recital 2
(2)  The Union is to combat social exclusion and discrimination and promote social justice and protection, as well as equality between women and men. In defining and implementing its policies and activities, the Union is to take into account requirements linked to the promotion of a high level of employment, the guarantee of adequate social protection, the fight against poverty and social exclusion, and a high level of education and training.
(2)  The Union is to combat all forms of poverty, social exclusion and discrimination in all areas of life and promote social justice and protection, as well as equality between women and men. That overall objective should also be pursued through Union legal acts and policies in other areas. In defining and implementing its policies and activities, the Union is to take into account requirements linked to the promotion of a high level of employment, the guarantee of adequate social protection, the fight against poverty and social exclusion, and a high level of education and training. The Union is to promote active participation of all citizens in economic, social and cultural life.
Amendment 3
Proposal for a decision
Recital 3
(3)  In accordance with the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), the Union has developed and implemented policy coordination instruments for fiscal, macroeconomic and structural policies. As part of these instruments, the present Guidelines for the Employment Policies of the Member States, together with the Broad Guidelines for the Economic Policies of the Member States and of the Union set out in Council Recommendation (EU) 2015/1184, form the Integrated Guidelines for Implementing the Europe 2020 strategy. They are to guide policy implementation in the Member States and in the Union, reflecting the interdependence between the Member States. The resulting set of coordinated European and national policies and reforms are to constitute an appropriate overall economic and social policy mix which should achieve positive spill-over effects.
(3)  In accordance with the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), the Union has developed and implemented policy coordination instruments for fiscal, macroeconomic and structural policies which have a significant impact on the social and employment situation in the Union, with potential effects including insecurity, poverty and inequality. As part of these instruments, the present Guidelines for the Employment Policies of the Member States, together with the Broad Guidelines for the Economic Policies of the Member States and of the Union set out in Council Recommendation (EU) 2015/1184, form the Integrated Guidelines for Implementing the Europe 2020 strategy. They are to guide policy implementation in the Member States and in the Union, reflecting the interdependence between the Member States. The resulting set of coordinated European and national policies and reforms are to constitute an appropriate overall economic and social policy mix which should achieve positive spill-over effects for all Member States.
Amendment 4
Proposal for a decision
Recital 3 a (new)
(3a)   To ensure a more democratic decision-making process in the context of the Integrated Guidelines, which affect people and labour markets across the Union, it is important that the Council take into account the position of the European Parliament.
Amendment 5
Proposal for a decision
Recital 4
(4)  The Guidelines for the Employment Policies are consistent with the Stability and Growth Pact, the existing European Union legislation and various EU initiatives, including the Council recommendation on establishing a Youth Guarantee1 , the Council Recommendation on the integration of the long-term unemployed into the labour market2 , the Council Recommendation on Upskilling Pathways3 and the proposal for a Council Recommendation on a European Framework for Quality and Effective Apprenticeships4 .
(4)  The Guidelines for the Employment Policies are consistent with the Stability and Growth Pact, the existing European Union legislation and various EU initiatives, including the European Pillar of Social Rights, the Council recommendation on establishing a Youth Guarantee1 , the Council Recommendation on the integration of the long-term unemployed into the labour market2 , the Council Recommendation on Upskilling Pathways3 and the proposal for a Council Recommendation on a European Framework for Quality and Effective Apprenticeships4 .
__________________
__________________
1 OJ C 120, 26.4.2013, p. 1–6
1 OJ C 120, 26.4.2013, p. 1.
2 OJ C 67, 20.2.2016, p. 1–5
2 OJ C 67, 20.2.2016, p. 1.
3 OJ C 484, 24.12.2016, p. 1–6
3 OJ C 484, 24.12.2016, p. 1.
4 COM(2017)0563 final - 2017/0244 (NLE)
4 COM(2017)0563 final - 2017/0244 (NLE).
Amendment 6
Proposal for a decision
Recital 5
(5)  The European Semester combines the different instruments in an overarching framework for integrated multilateral surveillance of economic, budgetary, employment and social policies and aims to achieve the Europe 2020 targets, including those concerning employment, education and poverty reduction, as set out in Council Decision 2010/707/EU5 . Since 2015, the European Semester has been continuously reinforced and streamlined, notably to strengthen its employment and social focus and to facilitate more dialogue with the Member States, social partners and representatives of civil society.
(5)  The European Semester combines the different instruments in an overarching framework for integrated multilateral surveillance of economic, budgetary, employment and social policies and aims to achieve the Europe 2020 targets, including those concerning employment, education and poverty reduction, as set out in Council Decision 2010/707/EU5 . Since 2015, the European Semester has been continuously reinforced and streamlined, notably to strengthen its employment and social focus and to facilitate more dialogue with the Member States, social partners and representatives of civil society at the same time keeping a strong emphasis on structural reforms and competitiveness.
_________________
_________________
5 OJ L 308, 24.11.2010, p. 46–5
5 OJ L 308, 24.11.2010, p. 46.
Amendment 7
Proposal for a decision
Recital 6
(6)  The European Union’s recovery from the economic crisis is supporting positive labour market trends, but important challenges and disparities in economic and social performance remain between and within Member States. The crisis underscored the close interdependence of the Member States' economies and labour markets. Ensuring that the Union progresses to a state of smart, sustainable and inclusive growth and job creation is the key challenge faced today. This requires coordinated, ambitious and effective policy action at both Union and national levels, in accordance with the TFEU and the Union's provisions on economic governance. Combining supply- and demand-side measures, such policy action should encompass a boost to investment, a renewed commitment to appropriately sequenced structural reforms that improve productivity, growth performance, social cohesion and economic resilience in the face of shocks and the exercise of fiscal responsibility, while taking into account their employment and social impact.
(6)  The European Union’s recovery from the economic crisis is supporting positive labour market trends, but important challenges and disparities in economic and social performance remain between and within Member States as economic growth does not automatically result in higher employment. The crisis underscored the close interdependence of the Member States' economies and labour markets. Ensuring that the Union progresses to a state of smart, sustainable and inclusive growth, accompanied by the creation of sustainable and quality jobs is the key challenge faced today. This requires coordinated, ambitious and effective policy action at both Union and national levels, in accordance with the TFEU and the Union's provisions on economic governance. Combining supply- and demand-side measures, such policy action should encompass a boost to investment, including in the circular and in the green economy and with regard to social investment, a renewed commitment to appropriately sequenced, socially and economically balanced structural reforms that improve productivity, growth performance, social cohesion and economic resilience in the face of shocks and the exercise of fiscal responsibility, while those structural reforms should have a positive employment and social impact.
Amendment 8
Proposal for a decision
Recital 7
(7)  Reforms to the labour market, including the national wage-setting mechanisms, should follow national practices of social dialogue and allow the necessary opportunity for a broad consideration of socioeconomic issues, including improvements in competitiveness, job creation, life-long learning and training policies as well as real incomes.
(7)  Reforms to the labour market, including the national wage-setting mechanisms, should follow national practices of social dialogue and allow the necessary opportunity for a broad consideration of socioeconomic issues, including improvements in standards of living, equality, competitiveness, productivity, sustainable and quality job creation, life-long learning and training policies as well as real incomes.
Amendment 9
Proposal for a decision
Recital 8
(8)  Member States and the Union should also address the social legacy of the economic and financial crisis and aim to build an inclusive society in which people are empowered to anticipate and manage change, and can actively participate in society and the economy, as also outlined in the Commission recommendation on the active inclusion of people excluded from the labour market6. Inequality should be tackled, access and opportunities for all should be ensured and poverty and social exclusion (including of children) reduced, in particular by ensuring an effective functioning of labour markets and social protection systems and by removing barriers to education/ training and labour-market participation. As new economic and business models take hold in EU workplaces, employment relationships are also changing. Member States should ensure that new employment relationships maintain and strengthen Europe’s social model.
(8)  Member States and the Union should also address the social legacy of the economic and financial crisis and aim to build an inclusive and socially just society in which people are empowered to anticipate and manage change, and can actively participate in society and the economy, as also outlined in the Commission recommendation on the active inclusion of people excluded from the labour market6. Inequality and discrimination should be tackled, equal opportunities for all should be ensured and poverty and social exclusion (particularly of children) eradicated, in particular by ensuring an effective functioning of labour markets and adequate and effective social protection systems, by removing barriers to education, training and labour-market participation. As new economic and business models take hold in EU workplaces, employment relationships are also changing. Member States should ensure that new employment relationships maintain and strengthen Europe’s social model by ensuring that people in emerging forms of work are covered and protected by employment regulations. Member States should support the potential of people with disabilities to contribute to economic growth and social development.
__________________
__________________
6 COM(2008)0639 final
6 COM(2008)0639 final.
Amendment 10
Proposal for a decision
Recital 8 a (new)
(8a)   The Commission and the Member States should create spaces for reflection and dialogue with the support of specialised non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and organisations of people experiencing poverty, to ensure that the latter are able to contribute to the evaluation of policies which affect them.
Amendment 11
Proposal for a decision
Recital 11
(11)  The Integrated Guidelines should form the basis for country-specific recommendations that the Council may address to the Member States. Member States should make full use of the European Social Fund and other Union funds to foster employment, social inclusion, lifelong learning and education and to improve public administration. While the Integrated Guidelines are addressed to Member States and the Union, they should be implemented in partnership with all national, regional and local authorities, closely involving parliaments, as well as social partners and representatives of civil society.
(11)  The Integrated Guidelines and the European Pillar of Social Rights should form the basis for well-targeted country-specific recommendations that the Council addresses to the Member States. Member States should make full use of the European Social Fund and other Union funds to foster employment, social inclusion, lifelong learning and education and to improve public administration. While the Integrated Guidelines are addressed to Member States and the Union, they should be implemented in partnership with all national, regional and local authorities, closely involving parliaments, as well as social partners and representatives of civil society.
Amendment 12
Proposal for a decision
Recital 12
(12)  The Employment Committee and the Social Protection Committee should monitor how the relevant policies are implemented in the light of the guidelines for employment policies, in line with their respective Treaty-based mandates. These committees and other Council preparatory bodies involved in the coordination of economic and social policies should work together closely,
(12)  The Employment Committee and the Social Protection Committee should monitor how the relevant policies are implemented in the light of the guidelines for employment policies, in line with their respective Treaty-based mandates. These committees and other Council preparatory bodies involved in the coordination of economic and social policies should work together closely with the European Parliament, and in particular with its Committee on Employment and Social Affairs, to ensure democratic accountability,
Amendment 13
Proposal for a decision
Annex – guideline 5 – paragraph 1
Member States should facilitate the creation of quality jobs, including by reducing the barriers that businesses face in hiring people, by promoting entrepreneurship and self-employment and, in particular, by supporting the creation and growth of micro and small enterprises. Member States should actively promote the social economy and foster social innovation.
Member States should facilitate and invest in the creation of sustainable, accessible and quality jobs across skill levels, labour market sectors and regions, including by fully developing the potential of future oriented sectors, such as the green and the circular economies, the care sector and the digital sector. Member States should enable people to balance work and private life, ensure that work places are adapted for persons with disabilities and older workers, help businesses in hiring people and promote responsible entrepreneurship and self-employment, in particular by supporting the creation and growth of micro and small enterprises. Member States should actively promote the social economy and foster social innovation.
Amendment 14
Proposal for a decision
Annex – guideline 5 – paragraph 2
Member States should encourage innovative forms of work, which create job opportunities for all in a responsible manner.
Member States should encourage innovative forms of work that create quality job opportunities for all in a responsible manner, taking into account the development of new information and communication technologies, while ensuring full compliance with Union law, national legislation and employment practices as well as with industrial relation systems. The Member States and the Commission should promote good practices in this area.
Amendment 15
Proposal for a decision
Annex – guideline 5 – paragraph 2 a (new)
Member States should cut red tape in order to ease any unnecessary burdens on small and medium-sized enterprises, which contribute significantly to job creation.
Amendment 16
Proposal for a decision
Annex – guideline 5 – paragraph 3
The tax burden should be shifted away from labour to other sources of taxation that are less detrimental to employment and growth, taking account of the redistributive effect of the tax system, while protecting revenue for adequate social protection and growth-enhancing expenditure.
Member States should endeavour gradually to reduce the tax burden on labour and shift it away from labour to other sources of taxation that are less detrimental to employment and growth, taking account of the redistributive effect of the tax system, while protecting revenue for adequate social protection and growth-enhancing expenditure, including investment in public services of general interest.
Amendment 17
Proposal for a decision
Annex – guideline 5 – paragraph 4
Member States should, in line with national practices and respecting the autonomy of social partners, encourage transparent and predictable wage-setting mechanisms, allowing for the responsiveness of wages to productivity developments while ensuring fair wages that provide for a decent standard of living. These mechanisms should take into account differences in skills levels and divergences in economic performance across regions, sectors and companies. Respecting national practices, Member States and social partners should ensure adequate minimum wage levels, taking into account their impact on competitiveness, job creation and in-work poverty.
Member States should, in line with national practices and respecting the autonomy of social partners, encourage transparent and predictable wage-setting mechanisms, allowing for the responsiveness of wages to productivity developments while ensuring fair wages that provide for a decent standard of living in a sustainable, responsible way. These mechanisms should take into account differences in skills levels and divergences in economic performance across regions, sectors and companies. Respecting national practices, Member States and social partners should ensure adequate minimum wage levels, taking into account their impact on competitiveness, job creation and in-work poverty.
Amendment 18
Proposal for a decision
Annex – guideline 6 – title
Guideline 6: Enhancing labour supply: access to employment, skills and competences
Guideline 6: Enhancing labour supply and improving access to employment, skills and competences
Amendment 19
Proposal for a decision
Annex – guideline 6 – paragraph 1
In the context of technological, environmental and demographic change, Member States, in cooperation with social partners, should promote productivity and employability through an appropriate supply of relevant knowledge, skills and competences throughout people's working lives, responding to current and future labour market needs. Member States should make the necessary investment in both initial and continuing education and training. They should work together with social partners, education and training providers and other stakeholders to address structural weaknesses in education and training systems, to provide quality and inclusive education, training and life-long learning. They should ensure the transfer of training entitlements during professional transitions. This should allow everyone better to anticipate and adapt to labour market needs and successfully manage transitions, thus strengthening the overall resilience of the economy to shocks.
In the context of technological, environmental and demographic change, Member States, in cooperation with social partners and civil society, should promote sustainability, productivity and employability through an appropriate supply of relevant knowledge, skills and competences throughout people's working lives, responding to current and anticipated future labour market opportunities including through the targeted promotion of training in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics sectors. Member States should make the necessary investment in both initial and continuing education and training and life-long learning, targeting not only formal education, but also non-formal and informal learning, and ensuring equal opportunities and access for all. They should work together with social partners, education and training providers, civil society organisations and other stakeholders to increase the quality of and address structural weaknesses in education and training systems, to provide quality and inclusive education, training and life-long learning, also taking into account the particular needs of persons with disabilities, ethnic and national minorities, immigrants and refugees. They should ensure the transfer of entitlements to training during changes in professional life through a point system and the accumulation of associated rights. This should allow everyone better to anticipate and adapt to labour market needs, avoid skills mismatches and successfully manage transitions, thus strengthening the overall resilience of the economy to shocks.
Amendment 20
Proposal for a decision
Annex – guideline 6 – paragraph 2
Member States should foster equal opportunities in education and raise overall education levels, particularly for the least qualified. They should ensure quality learning outcomes, reinforce basic skills, reduce the number of young people leaving school early, enhance the labour-market relevance of tertiary degrees, improve skills monitoring and forecasting, and increase adult participation in continuing education and training. Member States should strengthen work-based learning in their vocational education and training systems, including through quality and effective apprenticeships, make skills more visible and comparable and increase opportunities for recognising and validating skills and competences acquired outside formal education and training. They should upgrade and increase the supply and take-up of flexible continuing vocational training. Member States should also support low skilled adults to maintain or develop their long term employability by boosting access to and take up of quality learning opportunities, through the establishment of Upskilling Pathways, including a skills assessment, a matching offer of education and training and the validation and recognition of the skills acquired.
Member States should foster equal opportunities in education, including early childhood education, and raise overall education levels, particularly for the least qualified and learners from disadvantaged backgrounds. They should ensure quality learning outcomes, develop and reinforce basic skills, foster the development of entrepreneurial skills, reduce the number of young people leaving school early, enhance the labour-market relevance of tertiary degrees, improve skills monitoring and forecasting, and increase adult participation in continuing education and training, including through policies that provide for educational and training leave, as well as in-work vocational training and life-long learning. Member States should strengthen work-based learning in their vocational education and training systems, including through quality and effective apprenticeships, make skills more visible and comparable and increase opportunities for recognising and validating skills and competences acquired outside formal education and training. They should upgrade and increase the supply and take-up of flexible continuing vocational training. Member States should also target support for low skilled adults to maintain or develop their long term employability by boosting access to and take up of quality learning opportunities, through the establishment of Upskilling Pathways, including a skills assessment, an offer of education and training matching labour market opportunities and the validation and recognition of the skills acquired.
Amendment 21
Proposal for a decision
Annex – guideline 6 – paragraph 2 a (new)
In order to promote the long-term well-being and productivity of their workforce, Member States should ensure that their education and training systems, as well as addressing labour market needs, are aimed at fostering personal development, social cohesion, intercultural understanding and active citizenship.
Amendment 22
Proposal for a decision
Annex – guideline 6 – paragraph 3
High unemployment and inactivity should be tackled, including through timely and tailor-made assistance based on support for job-search, training, and requalification. Comprehensive strategies that include in-depth individual assessment at the latest after 18 months of unemployment should be pursued with a view to significantly reducing and preventing structural unemployment. Youth unemployment and the high rates of young people not in education, employment or training (NEETs), should continue to be addressed through a structural improvement in the school-to-work transition, including through the full implementation of the Youth Guarantee1.
High unemployment, long-term unemployment and long-term inactivity should be tackled, including through timely, integrated and tailor-made assistance based on support for job-search, training, requalification and proper follow-up. To that end, a coordinated approach to social and employment services is needed, meaning close cooperation between employment services, social services, the social partners and local authorities. Comprehensive strategies that include in-depth individual assessment as early as possible should be pursued with a view to significantly reducing and preventing long-term and structural unemployment. Youth unemployment and the high rates of young people not in education, employment or training (NEETs), should continue to be addressed through a structural improvement in the school-to-work transition, including through the full implementation of the Youth Guarantee1.
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1 OJ C 120, 26.4.2013, p. 1–6
1 OJ C 120, 26.4.2013, p. 1.
Amendment 23
Proposal for a decision
Annex – guideline 6 – paragraph 4
Tax reforms to shift taxes away from labour should aim to remove barriers and disincentives to participation in the labour market, in particular for those furthest away from the labour market. Member States should support an adapted work environment for people with disabilities, including targeted financial support actions and services that enable them to participate in the labour market and in society.
Tax reforms to shift taxes gradually away from labour should aim to remove unjustified barriers and excessive bureaucracy and provide incentives to participation in the labour market, in particular for those furthest away from the labour market, while ensuring that tax shifts do not jeopardise the sustainability of the welfare state. Member States should support an adapted work environment for people with disabilities and older workers, including targeted financial support actions and services that enable them to participate in the labour market and in society as a whole. Member States and the Commission should promote supported employment in an open and inclusive labour market.
Amendment 24
Proposal for a decision
Annex – guideline 6 – paragraph 5
Barriers to participation and career progression should be eliminated to ensure gender equality and increased labour market participation of women, including through equal pay for equal work. The reconciliation of work and family life should be promoted, in particular through access to long-term care and affordable quality early childhood education and care. Member States should ensure that parents and other people with caring responsibilities have access to suitable family leaves and flexible working arrangements in order to balance work and private life, and promote a balanced use of these entitlements between women and men.
Barriers to participation and career progression should be eliminated to ensure gender equality and increased labour market participation of women, including through equal pay for equal work in all sectors and professions. Member States should develop and implement policies on wage transparency and pay audits in order to close the gender pay gap. Member States are to enforce Directive 2006/54/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council1a by setting effective, proportionate and dissuasive penalties on employers paying a different wage for the same job, depending on whether it is performed by a man or by a woman. The reconciliation of work, private and family life should be guaranteed for all people. Member States should ensure that parents and other people with caring responsibilities have access to suitable family and care leaves, affordable quality long-term care and early childhood education and care and flexible employee-oriented working arrangements, such as teleworking and smart working, in order to balance work and private life, and promote a balanced use of these entitlements between women and men. Member States should ensure support for carers who are forced to limit or terminate their professional activity to enable them to properly take care of someone.
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1a Directive 2006/54/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 5 July 2006 on the implementation of the principle of equal opportunities and equal treatment of men and women in matters of employment and occupation (OJ L 204, 26.7.2006, p. 23).
Amendment 25
Proposal for a decision
Annex – guideline 7 – paragraph 2
Policies should aim to improve and support labour-market matching and transitions. Member States should effectively activate and enable those who can participate in the labour market. Member States should strengthen the effectiveness of active labour-market policies by increasing their targeting, outreach, coverage and better linking them with income support, based on the rights and responsibilities for the unemployed actively to seek work. Member States should aim for more effective public employment services by ensuring timely and tailor-made assistance to support jobseekers, supporting labour-market demand and implementing performance-based management.
Policies should aim to improve and support labour-market matching and transitions so that workers are able to progress in their careers. Member States should effectively activate and enable those who can participate in the labour market through individual support and integrated services within a broader active inclusion approach. Member States should strengthen the effectiveness of active labour-market policies by increasing their funding, targeting, outreach, coverage and ensuring adequate income support for the unemployed while seeking work as well as taking into account the rights and responsibilities of the unemployed. This includes working with the social partners and other relevant stakeholders, including civil society organisations, to increase the effectiveness and accountability of those policies. Member States should aim for more effective, interconnected and quality public employment services by ensuring timely and tailor-made assistance to support jobseekers, allowing the latter to seek jobs throughout the Union, supporting labour-market demand and implementing performance-based management.
Amendment 26
Proposal for a decision
Annex – guideline 7 – paragraph 3
Member States should provide the unemployed with adequate unemployment benefits of reasonable duration, in line with their contributions and national eligibility rules. Such benefits should not constitute a disincentive to a quick return to employment.
Member States should provide the unemployed with adequate unemployment benefits for a duration that is sufficient to allow them the time reasonably needed to find a quality job, in line with their contributions and national eligibility rules. Such benefits should be accompanied by active labour-market policies and measures that constitute incentives for a swift return to quality jobs.
Amendment 27
Proposal for a decision
Annex – guideline 7 – paragraph 4
The mobility of learners and workers should be promoted with the aim of enhancing employability skills and exploiting the full potential of the European labour market. Barriers to mobility in education and training, in occupational and personal pensions and in the recognition of qualifications should be removed. Member States should take action to ensure that administrative procedures are not a blocking or complicating factor for workers from other Member States in taking up active employment. Member States should also prevent abuses of the existing rules and address potential ‘brain drain’ from certain regions.
The mobility of learners and workers should be ensured as a fundamental freedom with the aim of enhancing skills and exploiting the full potential of the European labour market. Internal mobility should also be promoted. Barriers to mobility in education and training, in occupational and personal pensions, in access to social protection, in the recognition of qualifications and skills as well as disproportionate linguistic requirements should be removed. Mobile workers should be supported including by improving their access to and awareness of rights at work. Member States should take action to ensure that administrative procedures are not a blocking or complicating factor for workers from other Member States in taking up active employment. Member States should also prevent abuses of the existing rules and address potential ‘brain drain’ from certain regions. They should do so by increasing and supporting investment in sectors that have a real potential of generating high-quality job opportunities such as the green and the circular economies, the care sector and the digital sector.
Amendment 28
Proposal for a decision
Annex – guideline 7 – paragraph 5
In line with national practices, and in order to achieve more effective social dialogue and better socio-economic outcomes, Member States should ensure the timely and meaningful involvement of social partners in the design and implementation of economic, employment and social reforms and policies, including by providing support for increased capacity of social partners. Social partners should be encouraged to negotiate and conclude collective agreements in matters relevant to them, respecting fully their autonomy and the right to collective action.
In line with national practices and with the partnership principles, and in order to achieve more effective social and civil dialogue and better socio-economic outcomes, Member States should ensure the timely, genuine and meaningful involvement of social partners and civil society organisations in the design, implementation and evaluation of economic, employment and social reforms and policies at all stages of the process, including by providing support for increased capacity of social partners and civil society organisations. Such involvement should go beyond the mere consultation of stakeholders. Social partners should be encouraged to negotiate and conclude collective agreements in matters relevant to them, respecting fully their autonomy and the right to collective action. Workers with atypical employment contracts and self-employed workers should also be enabled to exercise their right to organise and to bargain collectively. Member States should take measures to strengthen the role of the social partners.
Amendment 29
Proposal for a decision
Annex – guideline 8 – title
Guideline 8: Promoting equal opportunities for all, fostering social inclusion and combatting poverty
Guideline 8: Promoting equality and equal opportunities and non-discrimination for all, fostering social inclusion and combatting poverty
Amendment 30
Proposal for a decision
Annex – guideline 8 – paragraph 1
Member States should promote inclusive labour markets, open to all, by putting in place effective measures to promote equal opportunities for under-represented groups in the labour market. They should ensure equal treatment regarding employment, social protection, education and access to goods and services, regardless of gender, racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation.
Member States, in cooperation with local and regional authorities, should put in place effective measures to fight all forms of discrimination and to promote equal opportunities for all people to participate in society. Such measures should include those promoting inclusive labour markets, open to all, including through measures that counter discrimination in access to and on the labour market, to support those who are discriminated, under-represented or in vulnerable situation. Member States should ensure equal treatment and fight all types of discrimination in employment, social protection, education and access to goods and services, regardless of gender, racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age, sexual orientation or socio-economic background. To that end, particular measures to support people in vulnerable situations, are necessary, and need to be backed by adequate funding to prevent any potential competition for resources between the beneficiaries concerned.
Amendment 31
Proposal for a decision
Annex – guideline 8 – paragraph 2
Member States should modernise social protection systems to provide effective, efficient and adequate social protection throughout all stages of an individual's life, fostering social inclusion and upward social mobility, incentivising labour market participation and addressing inequalities, including through the design of their tax and benefit systems. The modernisation of social protection systems should lead to better accessibility, sustainability, adequacy and quality.
Member States should improve social protection systems to provide effective, efficient and adequate social protection throughout all stages of an individual's life, including for the self-employed, fostering social inclusion and upward social mobility, incentivising labour market participation and addressing inequalities, including through the design of their tax and benefit systems. Improvements of and innovations in social protection systems should lead to better access, availability, sustainability, adequacy and quality.
Amendment 32
Proposal for a decision
Annex – guideline 8 – paragraph 3
Member States should develop and implement preventive and integrated strategies through the combination of the three strands of active inclusion: adequate income support, inclusive labour markets and access to quality services. Social protection systems should ensure the right to adequate minimum income benefits for everyone lacking sufficient resources and promote social inclusion by encouraging people to participate actively in the labour market and society.
Member States should develop and implement preventive and integrated strategies through the combination of the three strands of active inclusion: adequate income support, inclusive labour markets and access to quality services tailored to individual needs. Social protection systems should ensure adequate minimum income benefits for everyone lacking sufficient resources and promote social inclusion by encouraging people to participate actively in the labour market and society.
Amendment 33
Proposal for a decision
Annex – guideline 8 – paragraph 3 a (new)
Similarly, Member States should, with the support of the Commission, promote the active participation of NGOs specialised in the fight against poverty and of organisations of people experiencing poverty in the development of policies to combat poverty and social exclusion.
Amendment 34
Proposal for a decision
Annex – guideline 8 – paragraph 4
Affordable, accessible and quality services such as childcare, out-of-school care, education, training, housing, health services and long-term care are essential for ensuring equal opportunities, including for children and young people. Particular attention should be given to fighting poverty, social exclusion, including reducing in-work poverty. Member States should ensure that everyone has access to essential services, including water, sanitation, energy, transport, financial services and digital communications. For those in need and vulnerable people, Member States should ensure access to adequate social housing assistance as well as the right to appropriate assistance and protection against forced eviction. Homelessness should be tackled specifically. The specific needs of people with disabilities should be taken into account.
Access to and availability of affordable, accessible and quality services such as childcare, out-of-school care, education, training, housing, health services, rehabilitation and long-term care are essential for ensuring equal opportunities, including for children, young people, ethnic minorities and migrants. Children living in poverty should have access to healthcare, education and childcare that are free of charge, and to decent housing and proper nutrition. Particular attention should be given to fighting poverty and social exclusion, including reducing in-work poverty, and discrimination. Member States should ensure that everyone has access to essential services and that they are affordable, including education, healthcare, housing, clean water, sanitation, energy, transport, financial services and digital communications. For those in need or in a vulnerable situation, Member States should ensure access to adequate social housing assistance as well as the right to appropriate assistance and protection against forced eviction. Homelessness should be tackled specifically. The specific needs as well as potential of people with disabilities should be taken into account. To that end, Member States should, inter alia, review their disability assessment systems to avoid creating barriers in access to the labour market.
Amendment 35
Proposal for a decision
Annex – guideline 8 – paragraph 4 a (new)
Member States should ensure that employers hiring persons with disabilities are provided with adequate support and advice. The provision of personal assistance in education and by employment services for people with disabilities should be promoted and supported.
Amendment 36
Proposal for a decision
Annex – guideline 8 – paragraph 5
Member States should ensure the right to timely access to affordable health care and long-term care of good quality, while safeguarding sustainability over the long run.
Member States should ensure the right to timely access to affordable and accessible health care and long-term care of good quality, while safeguarding sustainability over the long run.
Amendment 37
Proposal for a decision
Annex – guideline 8 – paragraph 6
In a context of increasing longevity and demographic change, Member States should secure the sustainability and adequacy of pension systems for women and men, providing equal opportunities for workers and the self-employed, of both sexes, to acquire pension rights, including through supplementary schemes to ensure living in dignity. Pension reforms should be supported by measures that extend working lives and raise the effective retirement age, such as limiting early exit from the labour market and increasing the statutory retirement age to reflect life expectancy gains. Members States should establish a constructive dialogue with the relevant stakeholders, and allow an appropriate phasing in of the reforms.
Member States should urgently secure the sustainability and adequacy of pension systems for women and men, providing equal opportunities for all workers and the self-employed to acquire adequate statutory pension rights to ensure living in dignity as well as aiming to ensure an adequate income for older people which is at least above poverty level. Non-discriminatory access to supplementary schemes should be provided, that can serve as a top-up of solid statutory pensions. Depending on Member States' institutional arrangements and national law, pensions based on the first pillar alone or in combination with the second pillar should establish an adequate replacement income based on a worker’s prior wages. Member States should provide adequate pension credits to persons who have spent time outside the labour market for the purpose of providing care on an informal basis. Pension reforms, including a possible raise of the effective retirement age, should be framed within active and healthy ageing strategies and supported by measures that extend working lives for those wishing to work longer. Workers who are close to retirement should be given a choice to voluntarily reduce working hours. Member States should establish a constructive dialogue with the social partners and with civil society, and allow an appropriate phasing in of all reforms.

(1) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0355.
(2) OJ C 265, 11.8.2017, p. 201.


Estimates of revenue and expenditure for the financial year 2019 – Section I – European Parliament
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European Parliament resolution of 19 April 2018 on Parliament’s estimates of revenue and expenditure for the financial year 2019 (2018/2001(BUD))
P8_TA(2018)0182A8-0146/2018

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to Article 314 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

–  having regard to Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 966/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 October 2012 on the financial rules applicable to the general budget of the Union and repealing Council Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 1605/2002(1), and in particular Article 36 thereof,

–  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),

–  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),

–  having regard to Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 1023/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 October 2013 amending the Staff Regulations of Officials of the European Union and the Conditions of Employment of Other Servants of the European Union(4),

–  having regard to its resolution of 5 April 2017 on Parliament's estimates of revenue and expenditure for the financial year 2018(5);

–  having regard to its resolution of 25 October 2017 on the Council position on the draft general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2018(6),

–  having regard to its resolution of 30 November 2017 on the joint text on the draft general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2018 approved by the Conciliation Committee under the budgetary procedure(7),

–  having regard to the Secretary-General's report to the Bureau on drawing up Parliament's preliminary draft estimates for the financial year 2019,

–  having regard to the preliminary draft estimates drawn up by the Bureau on 16 April 2018 pursuant to Rules 25(7) and 96(1) of Parliament's Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the draft estimates drawn up by the Committee on Budgets pursuant to Rule 96(2) of Parliament's Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to Rule 96 of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgets (A8-0146/2018),

A.  whereas this procedure is the fourth full budgetary procedure conducted in the new legislature and the sixth one during the 2014-2020 multiannual financial framework;

B.  whereas the 2019 budget, as proposed in the Secretary-General’s report, is being prepared against the backdrop of a yearly increase, both in terms of inflation and real increase, in the ceiling for heading V, allowing more room for growth and investment as well as continuing to implement the policies of achieving savings, seeking to improve efficiency and oriented towards a performance-based budget;

C.  whereas among the priority objectives that have been proposed by the Secretary-General for the 2019 budget are the following: the 2019 European Parliament election campaign, security projects, multiannual building projects, IT development, improving services for Members and encouraging a green approach to transport;

D.  whereas a budget of EUR 2 016 644 000 has been proposed by the Secretary-General for Parliament's preliminary draft estimates for 2019, representing an overall increase of 3,38 % on the 2018 budget (including EUR 37,3 million for the change of parliamentary term and EUR 34,3 million for other extraordinary expenditure) and a share of 18,79 % of heading V of the 2014-2020 MFF;

E.  whereas almost two thirds of the budget is index-bound expenditure which relates mainly to remunerations, pensions, medical expenses and allowances for serving and retired Members (23 %) and staff (34 %), as well as to buildings (13 %), which is adjusted according to the Staff Regulations and Statute for Members, to sector-specific indexation, or to the inflation rate;

F.  whereas Parliament already stressed in its resolution of 29 April 2015 on Parliament's estimates of revenue and expenditure for the financial year 2016(8) that the 2016 budget should be set on a realistic basis and should be in line with the principles of budgetary discipline and sound financial management;

G.  whereas the credibility of Parliament as one arm of the budgetary authority depends to an extent on its ability to manage its own spending and on its ability to develop democracy at Union level;

H.  whereas the voluntary pension fund was established in 1990 by the Bureau's Rules governing the additional (voluntary) pension scheme(9);

General framework

1.  Stresses that the share of Parliament’s budget in 2019 should be maintained under 20 % of heading V; notes that the level of estimates for 2019 corresponds to 18,53 %, which is lower than that achieved in 2018 (18,85 %) and the lowest part of heading V in more than 15 years;

2.  Emphasises that the largest part of Parliament's budget is fixed by statutory or contractual obligations and is subject to annual indexation;

3.  Notes that, due to the 2019 European Parliament election, expenditure will be substantially higher in some areas, in particular in respect of Members who are not re-elected and their assistants, whilst savings, albeit of a lesser magnitude, will be generated in other areas as a result of the reduction in the volume of parliamentary business in an election year;

4.  Endorses the agreement reached in the conciliation between the Bureau and the Committee on Budgets on 26 March 2018 and on 10 April 2018 to set the increase in the 2018 budget at 2,48 %, corresponding to the overall level of its estimates for 2019 to EUR 1 999 144 000, to decrease the level of expenditure of the preliminary draft estimates endorsed by the Bureau on 12 March 2018 by EUR 17,5 million and to reduce accordingly the appropriations proposed on the following budget lines: 1004 -ordinary travel expenses; 105 – language and computer courses for Members; 1404 – graduate traineeships, grants and exchanges of officials; 1612 - further training; 1631 - mobility; 2000 - rent; 2007 - construction of buildings and fitting-out of premises; 2022 - building maintenance, upkeep, operation and cleaning; 2024 – energy consumption; 2100 - computing and telecommunications; 2101 - computing and telecommunications — business-as-usual operations — infrastructure; 2105 – computing and telecoms – investment in projects; 212 - furniture; 214 - technical equipment and installations; 230 - stationery, office supplies and miscellaneous consumables; 238 - other administrative expenditure; 300 - expenses for staff missions and duty travel between the three places of work; 302 - reception and representation expenses; 3040 - miscellaneous expenditure on internal meetings; 3042 - meetings, congresses, conferences and delegations; 3049 - expenditure on travel agency services; 3243 - European Parliament visitor centres; 3248 - expenditure on audio-visual information; 325 - expenditure related to the information offices; 101 - contingency reserve; provides item 1400 - other staff-secretariat and political groups with EUR 50 000, item 320 - acquisition of expertise with EUR 50 000, and item 3211 – science media hub with EUR 800 000 of appropriations; welcomes that those changes have been adopted by the Bureau on 16 April 2018;

5.  Underlines that the Parliament’s key functions are to co-legislate with Council and to decide on the Union budget, represent citizens and scrutinise the work of other institutions;

6.  Highlights Parliament's role in building European political awareness and promoting Union values;

7.  Notes the late receipt of the preliminary draft estimates and accompanying documents only after their endorsement by the Bureau on 12 March 2018; asks to receive in future years the report of the Secretary-General to the Bureau on the preliminary draft estimates, including annexes thereto, on time;

Transparency and accessibility

8.  Welcomes the response to the request from the Committee on Budgets expressed in various budget resolutions on additional information on medium- and long-term planning, investments, statutory obligations, operational expenditure and a methodology on the basis of the current needs rather than of coefficients; notes that lump sums are a useful and recognised tool to add flexibility and transparency;

9.  Notes that, as was the case for budgets for previous years, it is proposed to set aside an amount for ‘extraordinary’ investment and expenditure, i.e. investment and expenditure that is unusual or atypical for Parliament and arises infrequently; notes that in 2019, those investments and expenditure amount to EUR 71,6 million, including EUR 37,3 million for the change of parliamentary term and EUR 34,3 million for other extraordinary expenditure; recalls that the distinction, made in the 2016 budget and included in the consecutive budgets, between ordinary and extraordinary expenditure was made solely in order to respond to the implementation of urgent measures concerning security buildings and cybersecurity following the terrorists attacks; considers that the excessive use of this distinction, i.e. the inclusion of other expenditure in extraordinary expenditure, gives an erroneous indication of the evolution of the budgetary margin and is therefore in contradiction with the principle of transparency of Parliament's expenditure;

10.  Expects the Parliament’s 2019 budget to be realistic and accurate regarding the matching of the needs and their costs, to avoid as much as possible overbudgeting;

Brexit

11.  Observes that on 8 December 2017, Union and UK negotiators reached an agreement in principle on the financial settlement relating to the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the Union, which includes a provision that the UK will participate in the Union’s annual budgets for 2019 and 2020 as though it was still a Member State of the Union and will contribute its share of the financing of the Union's liabilities incurred before 31 December 2020; notes that the voluntary pension scheme for Members is included as a liability on the EU balance sheet and a contribution to the outstanding liabilities needed to cover the pension liabilities incurred before but stretching beyond 2020 will be part of the negotiations;

12.  Notes that the Committee on Constitutional Affairs confirmed with the vote in plenary in February 2018 an own-initiative report on Parliament’s composition, and notably the reduction to 705 Members after the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the Union; notes that following the informal meeting of the 27 heads of state or government on 23 February 2018, President Tusk signalled a broad support for this proposal; notes that in the event that the United Kingdom is still a Member State at the beginning of the 2019-2024 parliamentary term, the number of Members shall be 751, until the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the Union becomes legally effective; points out, however, that the procedure requires a unanimous decision by the European Council after having obtained the consent of Parliament; underlines that Parliament’s estimates, for the moment, reflect a status-quo situation with a Parliament composed of 678 Members from 27 Member States between 30 March 2019 and the end of the 8th legislative period, and a Parliament composed of 705 Members from 27 Member States from the start of the 9th legislative period till the end of the 2019 financial year; takes note with satisfaction of the adjustments proposed by the Secretary-General which were adopted by the Bureau on 12 March 2018;

2019 European Elections

13.  Welcomes the communication campaign as a helpful effort to explain the purpose of the Union and Parliament to the citizens; underlines that this campaign should aim, among other things, at explaining the role of the Union, the power of Parliament, its functions, such as the election of the President of the Commission, and its impact on the lives of citizens;

14.  Recalls that, as approved in the 2018 budget procedure, the total budget of the campaign amounts to EUR 33,3 million for the two years, of which EUR 25 million for 2018 (due to the time needed to run procurement procedures and conclude the contracts) and EUR 8,33 million for 2019; notes that the strategy for the campaign based on an analysis of the lessons learnt at the last elections was approved at the Bureau in November 2017;

15.  Underlines that the communication processes for the European elections are characterised by three tiers: the most visible tier is for national and European political parties and their candidates, the second tier is the leading candidate process (Spitzenkandidaten), introduced for the first time in 2014, and the third tier is the institutional campaign as in reminding what Parliament is, what it does, how it affects citizens’ lives and why engaging in the elections is important;

16.  Highlights that Parliament alone lacks the resources necessary to reach out to 400 million eligible voters and must therefore make the best use of its own multiplier networks to do that; considers that communications via social media websites should play an important role as well; points out that at European level, a series of citizens and stakeholders conferences will be organised in 2018 and that at national level, the role of the Liaison Offices will be crucial; will continue to include the European Committee of the Regions and its local and regional representatives in the networking approach; considers that as in the final run-up to the elections, the European political parties and the national parties will play an essential role alongside, in particular in the framework of the “Spitzenkandidaten” process; proposes, therefore, to enable them to carry out this mission with funding specifically increased for 2019;

Security and cybersecurity

17.  Notes that the 2019 budget will include further instalments of substantial investments started back in 2016 with a view to significantly improving Parliament's security; points out that those projects cover various domains, mainly relating to buildings i.e. the security upgrade of the entrance, equipment and staff, as the iPACS Project, but also improvements in the field of cyber-security and communication security;

18.  Welcomes the Memorandum of Understanding which entered into force in 2017 between the Belgian Government and the European Parliament, the Council, the Commission, the European External Action Service, and other institutions based in Brussels, on security clearance checks verifications for all external contractors’ staff wishing to access the Union institutions; reminds its call, in Parliament’s 2018 estimates of revenue and expenditure, to the Secretary-General to consider the advisability of extending the application of this Memorandum of Understanding to officials, parliamentary assistants and trainees in order to allow the necessary security verifications before their recruitment; asks, therefore, the Secretary-General to inform the Committee on Budgets of the state of progress of this file;

19.  Considers that IT tools are important instruments for Members and staff to carry out their work, but are nevertheless vulnerable to cyber-attacks; welcomes therefore to slightly increase the appropriations foreseen, allowing the institution to better protect its assets and information by continuing its Cyber-security Action Plan;

Building policy

20.  Reiterates its call for a transparent decision-making process in the field of buildings policy based on early information, having due regard to Article 203 of the Financial Regulation;

21.  Notes the process of improving Members’ and staff working environments as decided by the Bureau in December 2017, which will continue in 2019 in order to provide flexible workspaces for Members to satisfy needs arising from changing working patterns, providing them with three offices in Brussels and two in Strasbourg after the 2019 elections; stresses nevertheless that in Strasbourg it would be more useful to provide flexible spaces for meetings; notes that costs for maintenance of Parliament’s buildings in 2019, including security and environmental requirements; questions the very high costs of certain proposed developments, namely: the removal of the Library and related offices, the refurbishment of the Members' restaurant (ASP building) and the refurbishment of the restaurant in the Churchill building; calls on the Secretary-General to provide the Committee on Budgets with any information relating to those decisions before Parliament's reading of the budget in autumn 2018, considering that some projects will be postponed;

22.  Questions the EUR 1,58 million planned for studies on the renovation of the Spaak building knowing that EUR 14 million have already been budgeted in the 2018 budget; calls on the Secretary-General to provide the Committee on Budgets with any information relating to this decision before Parliament's reading of the budget in autumn 2018;

23.  Asks for further details on the condition of the furniture in the Brussels’ ASP building that justified its replacement, and on the procedure followed to choose the new furniture, notably on the ratio between its price and the need for replacement;

24.  Takes note of the updated mission statement for the Information Offices, which are now to be known as “Liaison Offices”, in accordance with the Bureau Decision of November 2017; notes that the main function of the Liaison Offices is to inform and communicate locally on behalf of Parliament in a politically neutral manner, in order to provide information about the Union and its policies through the activities of external stakeholders on local, regional and national levels, including the members of the European Committee of the Regions;

25.  Observes that the first parts of the East wing of the new KAD building will be handed over and occupied in late 2018 while the rest of the East wing offices and the conference rooms will be occupied progressively during 2019; notes that directly afterwards works will commence on the West wing;

26.  Recalls the 2014 ECA analysis which estimated the costs of the geographic dispersion of Parliament to be EUR 114 million per year; furthermore, notes the finding from its resolution of 20 November 2013 on the location of the seats of the European Union's institutions(10) that 78 % of all missions by Parliament statutory staff arise as a direct result of Parliament's geographic dispersion; emphasises that the report also estimates the environmental impact of the geographic dispersion to be between 11 000 and 19 000 tonnes of CO2 emissions; emphasises the potential savings to the Parliament's budget of a single seat and therefore calls for a roadmap to a single seat;

27.  Recalls Parliament's commitment to Directive 2012/27/EU on energy efficiency(11) which stipulates that it will, "without prejudice to applicable budgetary and procurement rules, undertake to apply the same requirements to the buildings they own and occupy as those applicable to the buildings of Member States' central government under Articles 5 and 6" of that Directive, due to the high visibility of the buildings and the leading role it should play with regard to buildings' energy performance; underlines the urgency of compliance with this declaration, not at least for its own credibility in the currently ongoing revisions of the energy performance of buildings and the energy efficiency directives;

MEP and APA related issues

28.  Welcomes the work of Parliament’s Secretariat, the secretariats of the political groups and the offices of Members aimed to empower Members in their mandates; encourages the continued development of those services which enhance Members’ ability to scrutinise the work of the Commission and Council and represent citizens;

29.  Welcomes in particular the ever-increasing quality of advice and research provided to Members and committees through the European Parliamentary Research Service (EPRS) and the policy departments; takes note of the mid-term evaluation of the cooperation between those two services supplied by the Secretary-General in October 2017; requests the Secretary-General to provide further information on how the two services coordinate their work to avoid duplication and meet client needs; welcomes the new and existing specific projects in the IT application, which will be implemented in full or in part in 2019: e-Parliament project, the Electronic Records Management System (ERMS) project, the Open Digital Library Program, the new project on research and development on machine learning with translation memories and the conference and event participants’ registration tool;

30.  Recalls the abovementioned resolutions of 5 April 2017 on Parliament's estimates of revenue and expenditure for the financial year 2018 and of 25 October 2017 on the Council position on the draft general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2018 ; reiterates the appeal for transparency regarding the General Expenditure Allowance (GEA) for Members; calls on Parliament's Bureau to work on better guidance regarding the accountability of the expenditure authorised under this allowance, without generating additional costs or administrative burden for Parliament´s administration; notes that a comprehensive system of control of the Members’ parliamentary mandate allowance would necessitate 40 to 75 new administrative posts(12), which would go against the staff reduction scheme;

31.  Recalls the principle of the independence of the mandate; underlines that it is the responsibility of elected Members to use the expenditure for parliamentary activities and that it is possible for Members who wish to do so to publish their spending record in relation to the GEA on their personal webpages; stresses the fact that the lump sum is widely used and recognised as a useful tool in Member States; stresses the fact that the current use of lump sums does not require additional staff or entail additional costs in the European Parliament´s administration and avoids generating obligatory additional costs and administrative burden for Members and their offices; reiterates that improved efficiency and transparency of the GEA does not mean to infringe upon the privacy;

32.  Urges the working group of the Bureau on the GEA to complete their work to enable recommendations based on the view of Parliament expressed in October 2017 to be considered prior to the election of the 9th Legislature;

33.  Reiterates its call on the Bureau to ensure that the social and pension rights of Members and Accredited Parliamentary Assistants (APAs) are respected, and that adequate financial means are made available; in this regard, reiterates its call to find a workable solution for those APAs who, having worked for two parliamentary terms without interruption in the end of the current term, will not be entitled to access to the European pension rights scheme, when they will reach the pension age, since they will be lacking some time out of ten years' service needed as set out in the Staff Regulations, due to early elections in 2014 and the delays in the validation of the APAs new contracts because of heavy workload during the periods after the elections of 2009; recalls that Article 27(2) of the Statute for Members of the European Parliament provides that “[a]cquired rights and future entitlements shall be maintained in full”; notes, however, continuing problems with the voluntary pension scheme and asks the Bureau and the Secretary-General to explore all options in order to minimise the burden for the Parliament's budget;

34.  Considers adequate the appropriations of the budget line 422 ‘Expenditure related to parliamentary assistance;

35.  Notes the revision of allowance rates for APAs incurred in respect of their duty travel between Parliament’s three places of work; recalls its request to the Bureau to take actions for a full alignment between officials, other servants and APAs as from next legislative term;

36.  With a view to next parliamentary term, calls again on the Conference of Presidents to revise the Implementing provisions governing the work of delegations and missions outside the European Union; underlines that such a revision should consider the possibility for APAs, subject to certain conditions, to accompany Members on official Parliament Delegations and Missions;

37.  Calls on the Bureau to amend the Bureau decision of the 19 April 2010 on rules concerning Member trainees to ensure the decent remuneration of trainees ; stresses that the remuneration of trainees in the offices of Members or in political groups should, at least, cover living expenses in Brussels or in the city where the traineeships take place;

38.  Believes that adequate funding should be made available for the implementation of the Roadmap for the adaptation of preventive and early support measures to deal with conflict and harassment between Members and APAs or other staff;

Staff-related issues

39.  Reduces the establishment plan of its General Secretariat for 2019 by 59 posts (1 % staff reduction target), in accordance with the agreement of 14 November 2015 reached with the Council on the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2016, in which Parliament's annual staff reduction measures are set to continue until 2019;

40.  Believes that, in a period in which the financial and personnel resources available to the Union institutions are likely to be increasingly constrained, it is important that the institutions themselves are able to recruit and retain the most able staff to meet the complex challenges ahead in a way consistent with the principles of performance-based budgeting;

41.  Considers that until the election recess, Parliament will face a unique situation resulting from the coincidence of the usual end of legislature rush with the complex package of legislative MFF proposals, the Brexit and the growing number of trilogues; considers that to enable Parliament and its Committees to perform the core-business it is vital to continue to ensure an adequate level of logistical and human resources;

42.  Mandates the Secretary-General to build on the existing cooperation agreements between the Parliament, the European Committee of the Regions and the European Economic and Social Committee; for which the EPRS is a very positive example; requests to identify areas including but not limited to IT services and security, in which synergies between the back office functions could be increased using the experience of the Parliament and the two bodies and taking fully into account the governance difficulties and the differences in terms of scale to build up fair cooperation agreements; in addition, asks the Secretary-General to undertake a study on possible synergies - in back office functions and services - that could be generated with other institutions;

43.  Asks for an assessment of the savings and the benefits for each party reached due to the Inter-Institutional Administrative cooperation agreement between Parliament, the European Committee of the Regions and the European Economic and Social Committee both in the areas submitted to Joint Services and in the areas submitted to cooperation and the potential savings and benefits of possible future agreements with other institutions and agencies;

44.  Welcomes Parliament's resolution on combating sexual harassment and abuse in the EU(13); is of the opinion that the resolution is an important step to more effectively combat sexual harassment and any kind of inappropriate behaviour in the Union and its institutions, including Parliament; demands that adequate resources are allocated to implement the demands of the resolution;

Other issues

45.  Notes the ongoing practice of using the year-end 'mopping up transfer' (ramassage) to contribute to current building projects; highlights, on the basis of the 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017 figures, that this year-end 'mopping up transfer' takes place systematically on the same chapters and title and, with a few exceptions, exactly on the same lines; wonders, therefore, whether there is a programmed overvaluation of those chapters and lines in order to generate funds for the financing of budgetary policy;

46.  Questions the necessity of having headsets and webcams installed in the offices in Brussels and Strasbourg for all parliamentary assistants, even though most of them have not even requested it; questions, therefore, the cost of such a decision and the reasons for taking it; calls on the Secretary-General to provide the Committee on Budgets with any information relating to that decision;

47.  Notes that the restrictions on access to Parliament's catering areas were lifted on 1 January 2017; accepts the practice that anyone working in Parliament's buildings or accessing its premises for an interinstitutional meeting may have lunch in the canteens and restaurants of Parliament; notes, however, that access to the ASP self-service in Brussels and LOW self-service in Strasbourg has become very complicated due to the daily presence of groups of visitors; calls, therefore, for controls to be re-established rapidly at the entrance of those two self-services, not for Members and staff of other institutions, but in order to systematically reorient groups of visitors towards the restaurant areas reserved for them;

48.  Notes the ongoing dialogue between Parliament and national parliaments; stresses the need to go beyond the existing European Parliamentary Week framework in order to allow for permanent synergies when it comes to relations between Parliament and the national parliaments; calls on this dialogue to be strengthened in order to develop a better understanding of the contribution of Parliament and the Union in Member States;

49.  Calls for the upgrade of the European Science Media Hub, adopted in the 2018 budget, and for cooperation with television stations, social media and further partners in order to establish training purposes for young journalists, especially in relation to new scientific and technological developments and to fact-based, peer-reviewed news;

50.  Welcomes Parliament’s efforts aimed at encouraging sustainable mobility;

51.  Invites Parliament to adopt an eco-sustainable approach and to make the majority of any activity carried out within Parliament environmentally friendly;

52.  Notes the creation of a mobility working group which should work inclusively and be clearly mandated; underlines that Parliament has to conform with all regional applicable laws at the places of work, including in the area of mobility; advocates the promotion of use of the established direct train connection between the Brussels Parliament site and the airport; invites the responsible services to re-evaluate the composition and size of its own vehicle fleet against this background; calls on the Bureau to establish without delay an incentive scheme for promoting the use of bicycles for home-work commuting; notes that such a scheme is already established in other institutions, notably the European Economic and Social Committee;

53.  Calls upon the Secretary-General and the Bureau to instil a culture of performance-based budgeting across Parliament's administration, and a lean management approach in order to enhance efficiency, reduce paperwork and diminish bureaucracy in the institution's internal work; stresses that the experience of lean management is the continuous improvement of the work procedure thank to the simplification and experience of the administrative staff;

o
o   o

54.  Adopts the estimates for the financial year 2019;

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

(1) OJ L 298, 26.10.2012, p. 1.
(2) OJ L 347, 20.12.2013, p. 884.
(3) OJ C 373, 20.12.2013, p. 1.
(4) OJ L 287, 29.10.2013, p. 15
(5) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0114.
(6) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0408.
(7) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0458.
(8) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0172.
(9) Texts adopted by the Bureau, PE 113.116/BUR./rev. XXVI/01-04-2009.
(10) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0498.
(11) Directive 2012/27/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 October 2012 on energy efficiency, amending Directives 2009/125/EC and 2010/30/EU and repealing Directives 2004/8/EC and 2006/32/EC (OJ L 315, 14.11.2012, p. 1).
(12) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0150
(13) Text adopted: P8_TA(2017)0417.


Protection of investigative journalists in Europe: the case of Slovak journalist Ján Kuciak and Martina Kušnírová
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European Parliament resolution of 19 April 2018 on protection of investigative journalists in Europe: the case of Slovak journalist Ján Kuciak and Martina Kušnírová (2018/2628(RSP))
P8_TA(2018)0183B8-0186/2018

The European Parliament,

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

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

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

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

–  having regard to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR),

–  having regard to the UN Human Rights Committee’s General Comment No 34 on Article 19 of the ICCPR (Freedoms of opinion and expression),

–  having regard to Resolution 2141 (2017) of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe of 24 January 2017 on attacks against journalists and media freedom in Europe,

–  having regard to the declaration of the Council of Europe´s Committee of Ministers of 30 April 2014 on the protection of journalism and safety of journalists and other media actors,

–  having regard to the commitments of the OSCE in the fields of freedom of the media, freedom of expression and the free flow of information,

–  having regard to its resolution of 24 October 2017 on legitimate measures to protect whistle-blowers acting in the public interest when disclosing the confidential information of companies and public bodies(1),

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

–  having regard to its resolution of 15 November 2017 on the rule of law in Malta(3),

–  having regard to its resolution of 25 October 2016 on the fight against corruption and follow-up of the CRIM resolution(4),

–  having regard to the open letter of 6 March 2018 addressed by 17 media freedom organisations to the President of the Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker,

–  having regard to the statements by the Council and the Commission of 14 March 2018 on the protection of investigative journalists in Europe: the case of Slovak journalist Ján Kuciak and Martina Kušnírová,

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

A.  whereas respect for the rule of law, democracy, human rights and fundamental freedoms, and the values and principles enshrined in the EU Treaties and international human rights instruments are obligations incumbent on the Union and its Member States and must be respected;

B.  whereas Article 6(3) TEU confirms that fundamental rights, as guaranteed by the ECHR and as arising from the constitutional traditions common to the Member States, constitute general principles of Union law;

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

D.  whereas free, independent and unhindered media constitute one of the cornerstones of a democratic society; whereas Member States have the duty to ensure that press freedom and journalists are protected on their territory;

E.  whereas the rights to freedom of expression and freedom of opinion are indispensable conditions for the full realisation of the principles of transparency and accountability;

F.  whereas the EU and its Member States are committed to respect freedom and pluralism of the media, as well as the right to information and to freedom of expression as enshrined in Article 11 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights, Article 10 of the ECHR and Article 19 of the ICCPR; whereas the public watchdog functions of the media are crucial for upholding these rights and for the protection of all other fundamental rights;

G.  whereas the Union has the possibility to act in order to protect the common values on which it was founded; whereas the rule of law and fundamental rights should be applied with equal strength to all Member States;

H.  whereas the Slovak investigative journalist Ján Kuciak and his partner Martina Kušnírová were found murdered in their home in Veľká Mača on 25 February 2018;

I.  whereas the right to independent and transparent access to justice is a core component of the rule of law; whereas the perpetrators of these murders, but also those of earlier cases, have yet to be brought to justice and a culture of impunity must be condemned;

J.  whereas this is the fifth case of a journalist being murdered in an EU Member State in the past ten years(5), and the second murder of an investigative journalist working on the Panama Papers in the EU following the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia in Malta in October 2017; whereas attacks on investigative journalism are crimes against the rule of law and democracy;

K.  whereas Ján Kuciak specialised in investigating large-scale tax evasion scandals, tax fraud, corruption and money laundering, and explored in his last article, published posthumously, the potential extortion of EU agricultural subsidies by the Italian mafia group ‘Ndrangheta, which may have also involved government officials close to high-level politicians;

L.  whereas the murder led to the biggest peaceful protests and street demonstrations since the Velvet Revolution of 1989, calling for justice, accountability, the rule of law, respect for media freedom and action to fight corruption; whereas the protesters and the Slovak public have shown serious distrust in the state institutions and officials, including the police; whereas trust in the state institutions has to be restored;

M.  whereas, according to the Council of Europe, abuses and crimes committed against journalists have a deeply chilling effect on freedom of expression and amplify the phenomenon of self-censorship;

N.  whereas the Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project reported that personal information of Ján Kuciak might have been leaked following several freedom of information requests filed by him with Slovak state authorities; whereas he submitted a criminal complaint to the Prosecutor’s Office after being threatened by a Slovak businessman, and subsequently stated that 44 days after the submission the case was not assigned to a police officer and was closed with no witness hearing held;

O.  whereas the protection of journalists and journalistic sources, including whistle-blowers, varies between Member States and in most does not include providing effective protection against retaliation, defamation charges, threats, intimidating lawsuits or other negative consequences; whereas the inadequate protection offered by some Member States to journalists, as well as the growing hostility displayed towards them by some public figures, are substantially undermining their basic freedoms;

P.  whereas the Media Pluralism Monitor’s 2016 Country Report on Slovakia identified high levels of risk regarding political independence, primarily because local media are being funded, and are often indirectly owned, by municipalities and are exposed to potential political pressure; whereas the report also mentions existing safeguards for the protection of journalistic sources such as judicial review and legal definitions;

Q.  whereas according to the World Press Freedom Index 2017 by Reporters Without Borders, defamation is punishable in Slovakia by up to eight years’ imprisonment, the harshest penalty for this offence in the EU; whereas, however, Slovakia ranks 17th in this index;

R.  whereas the Secretary-General of Reporters Without Borders, visiting Bratislava on 2 March 2018, deplored the ‘appalling climate for journalists’ that has been sustained and even created in certain Member States by numerous European politicians, including government leaders;

S.  whereas several attacks on journalists in Slovakia have been reported since 2007 and two journalist are still missing;

T.  whereas according to the World Economic Forum (2017), Slovakia ranks 117th in terms of corruption out of 137 countries surveyed; whereas prosecutions for corruption-related offences have fallen considerably; whereas the 2018 European Semester’s country report on Slovakia states that no progress has been achieved in stepping up the fight against corruption;

U.  whereas Parliament organised a fact-finding mission to Slovakia from 7 to 9 March 2018, consisting of Members from the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs and the Committee on Budgetary Control;

V.  whereas serious concerns of NGO representatives were articulated in the mission report of Parliament’s delegation, primarily on possible conflicts of interest, such as those between the General Prosecutor’s Office and the organs which should control its activity and between the Minister of the Interior and the chief of police; whereas, in addition, the selection of top prosecutors was described as highly politicised and the lack of an independent body competent to review complaints against the police was criticised; whereas the adequacy of protection of media freedom and the transparency of media ownership were queried;

W.  whereas, when the Slovak Supreme Audit Office conducted an exercise covering all EU fund managing and intermediate authorities, only the Slovak Agriculture Paying Agency (APA) was found problematic; whereas the Audit Office passed its findings to the Slovak General Prosecutor and National Criminal Agency;

1.  Strongly condemns the murder of Slovak investigative journalist Ján Kuciak and his partner Martina Kušnírová;

2.  Is appalled by the fact that this is the second fatal attack on a journalist in the EU in the past six months, after journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia was assassinated in Malta on 16 October 2017;

3.  Calls on the Slovak authorities to deploy all necessary resources to ensure a full, thorough and independent investigation into the murders of Ján Kuciak and Martina Kušnírová that brings those responsible to justice; welcomes the Slovak authorities’ intention to fully collaborate with the international law enforcement authorities and the Italian Anti-Mafia Investigation Directorate (DIA) during the investigations; strongly recommends creating a joint investigation team to be co-led by Europol and allowing it full access to the case file;

4.  Calls on the Slovak Prosecutor-General to look again into the criminal complaint submitted by Ján Kuciak after being threatened, and to investigate the reports that personal information was leaked after he filed several freedom of information requests with the Slovak authorities;

5.  Urges the Slovak authorities to ensure the protection of investigative journalists from any form of intimidation, defamation charges, threats or physical attacks, and to take effective measures for the protection of those exercising their right to freedom of expression against attacks aimed at silencing them;

6.  Acknowledges the crucial role that investigative journalists can play as watchdogs for democracy and the rule of law; condemns insulting comments by EU politicians towards journalists; notes that the highest level of protection of investigative journalists and whistle-blowers is in the vital interests of society as a whole; encourages both the Commission and the Member States to present legislative or non-legislative proposals for the protection of journalists in the EU who are regularly subject to lawsuits intended to censor their work or intimidate them, including pan-European anti-SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) rules;

7.  Calls on the Commission to safeguard, promote and apply the values enshrined in the Treaty on European Union and the Charter of Fundamental Rights, as well as in the ICCPR, and, in this context, to monitor and address challenges to media freedom and pluralism across the EU, while respecting the principle of subsidiarity; calls on the Commission to keep Parliament closely informed of actions taken;

8.  Points out that whistle-blowers have proved to be a crucial resource for investigative journalism and for an independent press, and that guaranteeing the confidentiality of sources is fundamental to freedom of the press; stresses, therefore, that whistle-blowers contribute to democracy, transparency of politics and the economy, and an informed public; calls on the Slovak authorities, and all the Member States, to ensure the protection of the personal safety and livelihoods of investigative journalists and whistle-blowers; asks the Commission to propose an effective, comprehensive and horizontal EU directive on the protection of whistle-blowers, by fully endorsing the Council of Europe’s recommendations and Parliament’s resolutions of 14 February 2017(6) and 24 October 2017;

9.  Calls on the Commission to create a permanent financial support scheme including a dedicated budget, by reallocating existing resources in support of independent investigative journalism;

10.  Calls on its Conference of Presidents to present a proposal on how Parliament could honour the work of Daphne Caruana Galizia and Ján Kuciak, and to consider renaming Parliament’s traineeship for journalists after Ján Kuciak;

11.  Notes that the Media Pluralism Report 2016 by the Centre for Media Pluralism and Media Freedom (CMPF) identifies a medium to high risk of horizontal media ownership concentration in Slovakia; considers that media pluralism in a number of Member States is threatened by the control of the media by political bodies or individuals or by certain commercial organisations; underlines that, as a general principle, governments should not abuse their position by influencing the media; recommends including more detailed information on media ownership in the annual Media Pluralism Monitor;

12.  Welcomes the Investigative Journalism for the EU (IJ4EU) initiative, whose aim is to foster and strengthen cross-border collaboration among investigative journalists in the EU;

13.  Is concerned about the allegations of corruption, misuse of EU funds, abuse of power and conflicts of interest in Slovakia which could cause the deterioration of democracy; calls on the Slovak supervisory and judicial authorities and on the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) to investigate all alleged irregularities and frauds, including VAT carousel frauds and those relating to the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFDR) and other structural funds;

14.  Expresses deep concern at the possible involvement of organised crime in the murder and at the risk of infiltration in the sectors of politics, government at all levels, the economy and finance; stresses that this phenomenon must not be underestimated; recalls that international criminal networks are highly active and that organised crime is growing in scale and sophistication; calls on Slovakia and all the Member States to improve cooperation and coordination in order to boost the development of common, standard procedures based on the good practices of those legal systems that are the most highly developed in terms of countering organised crime;

15.  Notes that the Supreme Audit Office of Slovakia has issued three critical reports on the APA; calls on the Slovak authorities to ensure a thorough investigation of the findings of the Supreme Audit Office; calls on the European Court of Auditors to conduct an investigation and to publish a Special Report on agricultural payments in Slovakia;

16.  Encourages Parliament’s Special Committee on Financial Crimes, Tax Evasion and Tax Avoidance to evaluate the allegations of VAT fraud, money laundering and misuse of European funds, as well as the sufficiency of national rules on seizure of assets following criminal activity in this context, with special regard to the work of Ján Kuciak and other investigative journalists;

17.  Calls on the Council to work with participating Member States in setting up the European Public Prosecutor’s Office as soon as possible, in the interests of coordinated action against fraud in the EU and other crimes affecting the Union’s financial interests;

18.  Expresses concern about the findings of the report drawn up by its Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs and its Committee on Budgetary Control following their fact-finding mission to Slovakia, stating that the selection of top prosecutors is believed to be highly politicised and that there have been a number of allegations of corruption against top officials which did not lead to a proper investigation; calls on the Slovak authorities to strengthen the impartiality of law enforcement and to address the key findings and recommendations of the report on Parliament’s fact-finding mission; asks the Slovak Government and Parliament to take all the necessary steps to restore the public’s trust in the state institutions, including the police;

19.  Reiterates its regret that the Commission decided not to publish the EU Anti-Corruption Report in 2017, and calls on the Commission to resume its annual anti-corruption monitoring in all Member States without delay; invites the Commission to develop a system of strict indicators and easily applicable, uniform criteria to measure the level of corruption in the Member States and evaluate their anti-corruption policies, in line with Parliament’s resolution of 8 March 2016 on the Annual Report 2014 on the Protection of the EU’s Financial Interests(7);

20.  Stresses that it is of vital importance to guarantee that the common European values listed in Article 2 TEU are upheld in full and that fundamental rights as laid down in the Charter of Fundamental Rights are guaranteed;

21.  Strongly calls for a regular process of monitoring and dialogue involving all Member States in order to safeguard the EU’s basic values of democracy, fundamental rights and the rule of law, involving the Council, the Commission and Parliament, as proposed in its resolution of 25 October 2016 on the establishment of an EU mechanism on democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights (the DRF Pact);

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

(1) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0402.
(2) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0409.
(3) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0438.
(4) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0403.
(5) See: https://rsf.org/en/journalists-killed
(6) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0022.
(7) OJ C 50, 9.2.2018, p. 2.


A European values instrument to support civil society organisations which promote democracy, rule of law and fundamental values within the European Union
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European Parliament resolution of 19 April 2018 on the need to establish a European Values Instrument to support civil society organisations which promote fundamental values within the European Union at local and national level (2018/2619(RSP))
P8_TA(2018)0184B8-0189/2018

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,

–  having regard to the Council conclusions on the application of the Charter of Fundamental Rights,

–  having regard to its resolution of 25 October 2016 on the establishment of an EU mechanism on democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights(1),

–  having regard to the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECHR), to the case law of the European Court of Human Rights, and to the conventions, recommendations, resolutions and reports of the Parliamentary Assembly, the Committee of Ministers, the Human Rights Commissioner and the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe,

–  having regard to the Commission report of 24 January 2017 on ‘Strengthening Citizens’ Rights in a Union of Democratic Change – EU Citizenship Report 2017’ (COM(2017)0030),

–  having regard to the report of the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights entitled ‘Challenges facing civil society organisations working on human rights in the EU’, published in January 2018,

–  having regard to its resolution of 14 March 2018 on ‘The next MFF: Preparing Parliament’s position on the MFF post-2020’(2),

–  having regard to the opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee on ‘Financing of Civil Society Organisations by the EU’ adopted on 19 October 2017(3),

–  having regard to the motion for a resolution of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs,

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

A.  whereas the shared European fundamental values enshrined in Article 2 TEU, namely respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities, and the principles of pluralism, non-discrimination, tolerance, justice, solidarity and equality between women and men, cannot be taken for granted and need to be continuously cultivated and protected, as their deterioration in any Member State can have detrimental effects for the EU as a whole;

B.  whereas an active and well-developed civil society in all EU Member States constitutes the best protection against an erosion of these values;

C.  whereas many civil society organisations (CSOs) continue to promote these values despite being faced with growing difficulties in securing the necessary funding to develop and perform their activities independently and effectively;

D.  whereas the EU provides direct funding to CSOs operating in third countries to foster these values, but the funding possibilities for CSOs pursuing this goal within the EU are very limited, in particular as regards CSOs operating at local and national level;

1.  Reiterates that CSOs are vital for upholding and promoting the values enshrined in Article 2 TEU, i.e. respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities, and play a crucial role in promoting active citizenship in the EU, as well as in facilitating informed public debate as part of a pluralist democracy;

2.  Stresses the need for the EU to develop new and effective ways to protect and promote these values within the Union;

3.  Believes, in this regard, that the EU should provide targeted financial support to CSOs which are active at local and national level in promoting and protecting these values;

4.  Calls for the EU to set up a dedicated funding instrument – which could be called the European Values Instrument – for the promotion and protection of the values enshrined in Article 2 TEU, especially democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights, within the EU budget under the next, post-2020 multiannual financial framework (MFF), with a funding level corresponding to at least that of the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights, which serves similar purposes beyond the Union’s borders; recommends that this instrument’s structural priority should be to create a healthy and sustainable CSO sector at national and local level with the capacity to fulfil its role in safeguarding these values;

5.  Considers that the instrument should provide CSOs which are engaged in the promotion and protection of these values within the EU with operating grants (core funding as well as grants for projects and initiatives);

6.  Stresses that the instrument should be managed by the Commission and that it should ensure fast and flexible grant-making procedures; recommends in particular that the application procedure should be user-friendly and easily accessible for local and national CSOs;

7.  Considers that the instrument should specifically target projects and initiatives promoting European values at local and national level, such as civic participation projects and advocacy and other watchdog activities, and that transnational projects and initiatives should play only a subsidiary role; believes that particular emphasis should be placed on building the capacity of CSOs to engage with the general public so as to increase its understanding of pluralistic and participatory democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights;

8.  Stresses that the instrument should be complementary to already existing European and national instruments and activities promoting and protecting these values, and should therefore not come at the expense of other European or national funds and activities in this area;

9.  Underlines that financial accountability as laid down in the Financial Regulation must be ensured in the management of the new instrument, notably as regards compliance with legal obligations, full transparency on the use of resources, sound financial management and prudent use of resources;

10.  Recommends to the Commission that it draw up an annual report on the performance of the instrument and publish a list of the organisations and activities that it has funded;

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

(1) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0409.
(2) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2018)0075.
(3) OJ C 81, 2.3.2018, p. 9.


The violation of human rights and the rule of law in the case of two Greek soldiers arrested and detained in Turkey
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European Parliament resolution of 19 April 2018 on the violation of human rights and the rule of law in the case of two Greek soldiers arrested and detained in Turkey (2018/2670(RSP))
P8_TA(2018)0185B8-0194/2018

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the arrest on 1 March 2018 and continued detention by the Turkish authorities of two Greek soldiers who stated that they lost their way in bad weather,

–  having regard to the fact that that particular part of the border, in the forest area of Kastanies along the Evros/Meriç River, is a major crossing point for migrants, refugees and traffickers, and that the lieutenant and sergeant in question were on a regular patrol tour of the border,

–  having regard to the calls from EU and NATO officials for the soldiers’ release, not least from the European Council on 22 March 2018 and during the EU-Turkey Leaders’ Meeting of 26 March 2018,

–  having regard to the Greek Government’s efforts to secure the release and return of the soldiers,

–  having regard to Article 5(2) of the European Convention on Human Rights, which states that ‘Everyone who is arrested shall be informed promptly, in a language which he understands, of the reasons for his arrest and of any charge against him’,

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

A.  whereas on 4 March 2018 a Turkish court in Edirne ruled that the two soldiers, who are currently being held in maximum security detention and are accused of illegally entering Turkey, would continue to be detained;

B.  whereas the two Greek soldiers have been held in a Turkish prison for more than one month without charges being brought against them, leaving them unaware of the crime of which they are accused;

C.  whereas previous cases of similar accidental crossings of the border by either Greek or Turkish soldiers were settled in the past on the spot at the level of the local military authorities of both sides;

1.  Calls on the Turkish authorities to swiftly conclude the judicial process and release the two Greek soldiers and return them to Greece;

2.  Calls on the Council, the Commission, the European External Action Service and all EU Member States to show solidarity with Greece and call for the immediate release of the two Greek soldiers in any contacts or communications with Turkish leaders and authorities, in the spirit of international law and good neighbourly relations;

3.  Calls on the Turkish authorities to scrupulously follow legal proceedings and fully respect, for all those concerned, the human rights enshrined in international law, including the Geneva Convention;

4.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Turkish and Greek Presidents, Governments and Parliaments, the European External Action Service, the Commission, the competent authorities of the Member States and NATO.


Implementation of the Treaty provisions concerning national Parliaments
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European Parliament resolution of 19 April 2018 on the implementation of the Treaty provisions concerning national parliaments (2016/2149(INI))
P8_TA(2018)0186A8-0127/2018

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Treaty on European Union (TEU), in particular Article 5 on the conferral of competences and subsidiarity, Article 10(1) on representative democracy, Article 10(2) on the representation of EU citizens, Article 10(3) on the right of EU citizens to participate in the democratic life of the Union, Article 11 on participatory democracy, Article 12 on the role of national parliaments, Article 48(3) on the ordinary revision procedure, and Article 48(7) (passerelle clause) thereof,

–  having regard to Protocol No 1 on the role of national parliaments in the European Union and to Protocol No 2 on the application of the principles of subsidiary and proportionality,

–  having regard to Article 15 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) and Articles 41 and 42 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union,

–  having regard to its resolutions of 12 June 1997 on relations between the European Parliament and national parliaments(1), of 7 February 2002 on relations between the European Parliament and the national parliaments in European integration(2), of 7 May 2009 on the development of the relations between the European Parliament and national parliaments under the Treaty of Lisbon(3) and of 16 April 2014 on relations between the European Parliament and the national parliaments(4),

–  having regard to its resolutions of 16 February 2017 on Improving the functioning of the European Union building on the potential of the Lisbon Treaty(5), on Budgetary capacity for the euro area(6) and on Possible evolutions of and adjustments to the current institutional set-up of the European Union(7),

–  having regard to the Commission’s annual reports on relations between the European Commission and national parliaments, in particular the report for 2014 of 2 July 2015 (COM(2015)0316), and for 2015 of 15 July 2016 (COM(2016)0471), and to the Commission’s annual reports on subsidiarity and proportionality, in particular the reports for 2015 of 15 July 2016 (COM(2016)0469), and for 2016 of 30 June 2017 (COM(2017)0600),

–  having regard to the annual reports of the European Parliament’s Directorate for Relations with National Parliaments, in particular the 2016 Mid-term Report on Relations between the European Parliament and national parliaments,

–  having regard to its resolution of 26 October 2017 on monitoring the application of EU law 2015(8),

–  having regard to the Commission White Paper on the Future of Europe of 1 March 2017, and to the State of the Union address by the President of the Commission Jean-Claude Juncker of 13 September 2017, in which a roadmap was presented,

–  having regard to the Declaration entitled ‘Greater European Integration: The Way Forward’ by the Presidents of the Camera dei Deputati of Italy, the Assemblée nationale of France, the Bundestag of Germany and the Chambre des Députés of Luxembourg, signed on 14 September 2015 and currently endorsed by 15 national parliamentary chambers in the EU,

–  having regard to the conclusions adopted by the Conference of Speakers of EU Parliaments (the EU Speakers’ Conference) at its meetings since the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon, in particular those held in Luxembourg in 2016 and Bratislava in 2017,

–  having regard to the contributions to and conclusions of the meetings of the Conference of Parliamentary Committees for Union Affairs of Parliaments of the European Union (COSAC) since the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty, in particular the meetings held in Valletta and Tallinn in 2017, and to COSAC’s biannual reports,

–  having regard to Article 13 of the Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance in the Economic and Monetary Union (TSCG), which enshrined the organisation of inter-parliamentary conferences for the purposes of discussing budgetary policies and other issues covered by the treaty;

–  having regard to the resolution of the Senát of the Czech Republic of 30 November 2016 (26th resolution of the 11th term), to the resolution of the Senato della Republica of Italy of 19 October 2016 (Doc. XVIII n. 164) and to the contributions of its European Union Policies Committee of 2 May 2017 (Prot. 573), and to the contributions of the EU Affairs Committee of the Assemblée nationale of France of 31 May 2017 (reference 2017/058) and the Standing Committee on European Affairs of the Tweede Kamer der Staten-Generaal (House of Representatives) of the Netherlands of 22 December 2017 (letter A(2018)1067);

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Constitutional Affairs (A8-0127/2018),

A.  whereas national parliaments contribute actively to the good constitutional functioning of the European Union (Article 12 TEU), thereby playing an important role in its democratic legitimacy and realising it to the fullest extent;

B.  whereas the parliamentary accountability of national governments within the framework of European affairs, which depends on individual national practices, is the cornerstone of the role of national parliaments in the current European Treaty;

C.  whereas, in order to improve ownership, national parliaments should scrutinise national governments, in the same way as the European Parliament scrutinises the European executive; whereas, however, the level of influence of national parliaments over national governments varies significantly at Member State level;

D.  whereas national parliaments often lament their limited involvement in Union affairs and wish to be more associated with the development of the European integration process;

E.  whereas a lack of transparency in the EU legislative and decision-making processes risks undermining both the prerogatives of national parliaments under the Treaties and relevant Protocols, and, in particular, their role as the watchdogs of their governments;

F.  whereas the pluralism of national parliaments is remarkably beneficial to the Union, as the alignment of different political stances across the Member States can strengthen and broaden cross-sectional debates at European level;

G.  whereas the underrepresentation of parliamentary minorities in European affairs should be counterbalanced while fully respecting the majorities in each national parliament, and in accordance with the principle of proportional representation;

H.  whereas national parliaments play a role in any revision of the European Treaties and have recently been called upon to engage in a series of EU democratic forums;

I.  whereas a European public sphere could be fostered by a series of forums on the future of Europe, to be organised by national parliaments and the European Parliament as natural representatives of the European demos; whereas such forums could be endorsed through a common European Week, in which members of national parliamentary chambers would simultaneously discuss European affairs with Commissioners and Members of the European Parliament;

J.  whereas as shown by recent electoral trends, the economic, financial and social crisis has increased EU citizens’ distrust of and disillusionment with the current democratic model of representation, both at European and national levels;

K.  whereas the implementation of the right for national parliaments to scrutinise compliance with the principle of subsidiarity, on the basis of the so-called early warning system (EWS), has partially improved relations between the EU institutions and national parliaments;

L.  whereas national parliaments are sometimes critical of the EWS, claiming that its provisions are not easy to put into practice and lack a broad scope of application;

M.  whereas progress in the implementation of the EWS has been achieved, as demonstrated by the latest figures on the total number of opinions submitted by national parliaments within the framework of the political dialogue; whereas the limited usage of the yellow card procedure and the ineffectiveness of the orange card procedure show that there is still room for improvement and that better coordination between national parliaments is possible in this respect;

N.  whereas the eight-week period laid down in Article 4 of Protocol No 1 has proven to be inadequate for timely monitoring of compliance with the principle of subsidiarity;

O.  whereas the EWS can be complemented by the system that currently allows national parliaments to submit constructive proposals for the Commission’s consideration and with due regard for its right of initiative;

P.  whereas several national parliaments have expressed their interest in an instrument to improve political dialogue, which would afford them the opportunity to suggest constructive proposals for the Commission’s consideration and with due regard for the Commission’s right of initiative;

Q.  whereas national parliaments can, at any time, issue opinions within the framework of the political dialogue, mandate their governments to demand the formulation of legislative proposals via the Council, or, in accordance with Article 225 TFEU, simply call on Parliament to present proposals to the Commission;

R.  whereas the implementation of a red card procedure is not conceivable at this stage of the European integration process;

S.  whereas the comprehensive range of information rights provided for in the Treaty of Lisbon could be enhanced if national parliaments were given more resources and time to cope with the documents forwarded to them by the European Institutions;

T.  whereas the IPEX, a platform for continuous exchange of information among national parliaments and between national parliaments and the European institutions, should be further developed in accordance with its Digital Strategy, in which the European Parliament plays a major supporting role;

U.  whereas interinstitutional cooperation has improved after the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon, and the so-called Barroso initiative – the political dialogue launched by the Commission in September 2006 giving national parliaments opportunities to comment, provide positive feedback or criticise the Commission’s proposals;

V.  whereas national parliaments occasionally raise grievances about their relations with the European Union, claiming that they are too complex;

W.  whereas national parliaments have relevant competencies in the areas of freedom, security and justice pursuant to Articles 70, 85 and 88 TFEU and should therefore play an important role in the future of the Union’s security and defence policy;

X.  whereas there should be greater national and European parliamentary control of fiscal and economic policies, decisions taken, and governance matters at EU level;

Y.  whereas the Court of Justice’s decision of 16 May 2017 on the mixed nature of the trade agreement between the EU and Singapore has changed the way in which national parliaments will be involved in trade agreements in the future;

Z.  whereas better interaction and an improved exchange of information between MEPs and MPs and also between national parliaments’ civil servants could help to improve scrutiny of the European debate at national level and thus foster a genuinely European parliamentary and political culture;

Scrutinising governmental activity in European affairs

1.  Considers that the implementation of the rights and obligations of national parliaments deriving from the Treaty of Lisbon has enhanced their role within the European constitutional framework, thus providing for more pluralism, democratic legitimacy and the better functioning of the Union;

2.  Recognises that national governments are democratically accountable to national parliaments as acknowledged by Article 10(2) TEU, in accordance with their respective national constitutional orders; takes the view that such accountability is the keystone of the role of national parliamentary chambers in the European Union; encourages national parliaments to fully exercise their European functions in order to directly influence and scrutinise the content of European policies, in particular via the monitoring of their national governments acting as members of the European Council and the Council;

3.  Calls on the Members States to ensure that national parliaments are granted enough time, the capacity, and the necessary access to information in order to fulfil their constitutional role of scrutinising and thus legitimating the activity of national governments when these governments act at European level, whether in the Council or in the European Council; recognises that this European function should take place in full compliance with the Member States’ respective constitutional traditions; believes that, in order to preserve and reinforce this role, the existing exchange of best practices and interaction between national parliaments should be strengthened and promoted;

4.  Considers that transparency of the working methods and decision-making processes of the EU institutions represents a precondition to enable national parliaments to effectively fulfil their institutional role deriving from the Treaties; calls, furthermore, for national parliaments to make full use of their respective competences with the aim of exercising scrutiny over governments’ actions at European level, inter alia by adapting their internal organisation, timetables and rules of procedures to enable them to do so; further suggests an exchange of best practices between national chambers, regular debates between the respective ministers and specialised committees in national parliaments before and after Council and European Council meetings and regular meetings between members of national parliaments, Commissioners and MEPs;

5.  Takes the view that care needs to be taken to avoid any kind of gold-plating of EU legislation by Member States and that national parliaments have a key role to play in this regard; recalls, at the same time, that this is without prejudice to the right of Member States to apply non-regression clauses and to lay down, for example, higher social and environmental standards at national level;

6.  Recalls, while encouraging strengthened and political dialogue with national parliaments and recognising the clear need to reinforce parliamentary participation, that decisions must be taken in accordance with constitutional competences and by taking into account the clear delineation between the respective decision-making competences of the national and European bodies;

7.  States that the European Parliament and national parliaments should be better involved in the European Semester and recommends that budgetary calendars at national and European level are better coordinated throughout the process in order to encourage more effective use of this instrument; recalls, moreover, that the alignment of the European Semester with the agendas of national parliaments could further contribute to the coordination of economic policies, while underlining that such alignment should not disregard the powers of self-governance and the specific rules of procedure of each parliamentary chamber;

8.  Suggests the implementation of a national period for budgetary dialogue, during which national parliaments would be able to deliberate upon and contribute to the European Semester by providing their governments with a mandate in their relations with the Commission and the Council;

9.  Underlines that during the last plenary meeting of the Conference of Parliamentary Committees for Union Affairs (COSAC), in Tallinn, it was recognised that the majority of national parliaments actively attend plenary sessions to debate EU matters, whether at regular intervals or on an ad hoc basis, and that more plenary debates on EU matters increase the visibility of the Union and give citizens the opportunity to learn more about the EU’s agenda and the positions of political parties on these issues;

Creating a European public sphere

10.  Notes that the alignment of different political stances across the Member States could strengthen and expand cross-sectional debates at European level; recommends, therefore, that national parliamentary delegations acting before the European Institutions should reflect political diversity; stresses the relevance of the principle of proportional representation of members from different political parties in this regard;

11.  Notes the fact that the binding will of parliamentary majorities could be expressed in the opinions issued by national parliaments, within or outside the framework of the EWS; endorses the idea, however, of national parliamentary political minorities being given the possibility to express dissenting points of view, which could then be incorporated into the annexes to such opinions; believes that these opinions should be issued in full compliance with the principle of proportionality and in accordance with the rules of procedure of each national parliamentary chamber;

12.  Takes good note of the recent call for a series of democratic conventions across Europe; believes, in this regard, that the establishment of an annual European week would allow MEPs and Commissioners, notably Vice-Presidents in charge of Clusters, to stand before all national parliamentary assemblies in order to discuss and explain the European agenda alongside with MPs and representatives of civil society; suggests reviewing its own rules of procedure in order to endorse the initiative, and encourages national parliaments to do the same; further believes that meetings between national and European political groups in the framework of EU interparliamentary cooperation could bring added value in the form of an authentic European political debate;

Backing reform of the EWS

13.   Underlines the fact that the EWS has seldom been used since the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon, and believes that it could be reformed within the current constitutional framework;

14.  Notes that examples such as the triggering of the ‘yellow card’ procedure against the Commission proposal on the revision of the ‘Posting of Workers Directive’ in 2016 show that the EWS is operational; underlines that the limited use of the ‘yellow card’ procedure could indicate that the principle of subsidiarity is, on balance, respected within the EU; believes, therefore, that the procedural shortcomings of the EWS should not be regarded as conclusive proof of failure to respect subsidiarity; recalls, moreover, that national parliaments may intervene and examine the question of compliance with the principle of subsidiarity prior to the presentation of a legislative proposal by the Commission in the form of Green and White Papers or the annual presentation of the Commission’s Work Programme;

15.  Recalls that, in relation to any new legislative initiative, the Commission is obliged to examine whether the EU has the right to take action and whether such action is justified; underlines, moreover, that prior experience has proven that drawing a line between the political dimension of the principle of subsidiarity and the legal dimension of the principle of proportionality is, on occasion, difficult and troublesome; calls on the Commission, therefore, in its responses to reasoned opinions issued within or outside the framework of the EWS, also to address proportionality, and, where appropriate, any concerns about proposed policy options, in addition to its interpretation of the principle of subsidiarity;

16.  Acknowledges the request by national parliaments to extend the eight-week period during which they can issue reasoned opinions under Article 3 of Protocol No 1; underlines, however, that the current Treaty framework does not provide for such an extension; considers, therefore, that the Commission should implement a technical notification period within the EWS in order to grant additional time between the date on which draft legislative acts are technically received by national parliamentary chambers and the date on which the eight-week period begins; recalls, in this regard, that other practical arrangements for the operation of the subsidiary control mechanism were put into practice by the Commission in 2009;

17.  Takes note of the request from certain national parliaments to extend the eight-week period during which they can issue a reasoned opinion, under Article 6 of Protocol No 2;

18.  Suggests, in line with the political dialogue launched by the Commission in 2016, the full use of the system whereby national parliaments can submit constructive proposals to the Commission with the aim of positively influencing the European debate and the Commission’s power of initiative; suggests, in this regard, that the Commission could enjoy the discretion either to take on board such proposals or to issue a formal response underlining its reasons for not doing so; points out that such a procedure cannot consist of a right of initiative, or the right to withdraw or amend legislation, as it would otherwise subvert ‘the Union method’ and the distribution of competences between national and European level, thus violating the Treaties; recommends, meanwhile, that in the event of a future revision of the Treaties, the right of legislative initiative should be accorded to the European Parliament, as the direct representative of EU citizens;

Implementing the right to information

19.  Reaffirms that Article 12 TEU and Protocol No 1 give national parliaments the right to receive information directly from the European institutions;

20.  Stresses that national parliaments could better cope with the information sent to them either by virtue of the EWS, or under their right to information, if the IPEX platform was given the relevance of an Agora, or forum, for an informal permanent dialogue among national parliaments and between these and the European institutions; resolves, therefore, to promote the use of the platform for the enhancement of political dialogue; recommends that national parliaments use the IPEX platform in a timely fashion to ensure an early start to the national scrutiny mechanism; recommends using IPEX as a channel for the systematic sharing of information and the early flagging of subsidiarity concerns; sees the potential for developing IPEX as the main channel for communication and the transmission of relevant documents from the EU institutions to national parliaments and vice versa, and, in this context, undertakes to offer assistance to national parliamentary chambers’ administrations on how to work with the platform; encourages, in addition, the establishment of more exchanges between the officials of institutions and political groups within the administrations of the European Parliament and national parliaments;

Envisaging better interinstitutional cooperation

21.  Takes good note of the existing cooperation between the European Parliament and national parliaments in COSAC, in the Interparliamentary Conference on Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP-IPC), and within the framework of Article 13 TSCG; stresses that such cooperation should be developed on the basis of the principles of consensus, information-sharing and consultation, in order for national parliaments to exercise scrutiny over their respective governments and administrations;

22.  Reiterates that the current framework of relations between the Union and national parliaments could be simplified and harmonised in order to make it more efficient and effective; calls, in this context, for a review of the engagement between the Union and its national parliaments across existing platforms and forums, with the aim of strengthening these relations and adapting them to current needs; insists, however, upon a clear delineation of decision-making competences between national parliaments and the European Parliament, in which the former should exercise their European function on the basis of their national constitutions, in particular by exercising scrutiny over the members of their national governments as members of the European Council and the Council, which is the level at which they are best placed to monitor the European legislative process; rejects, therefore, the creation of joint parliamentary decision-making bodies for reasons of transparency, accountability and the capacity to act;

23.  Points out that strengthening political and technical dialogue between parliamentary committees, both at national and at European level, would be a greatly productive step towards full interparliamentary cooperation; is considering the possibility of allocating additional resources to achieve this aim and the use of videoconferences where possible;

24.  Acknowledges the relevance of the Interparliamentary Committee Meetings (ICM) established in Articles 9 and 10 of Protocol No 1; believes that better interinstitutional cooperation could be attained if the ICM were accorded more relevance by the Members of the European Parliament and the national parliaments, and if they were prepared for in closer cooperation;

25.  Recommends that national parliaments be fully involved in the continuing development of the Common Security and Defence Policy; believes that such involvement should be promoted in close cooperation with the European Parliament and with full respect for the provisions of national constitutions regarding security and defence policies, including through joint inter-parliamentary meetings between representatives from national parliaments and Members of the European Parliament and via political dialogue between a fully fledged Committee on Security and Defence in the European Parliament and the corresponding national parliamentary committees; notes the potential this has for neutral EU Member States to exercise constructive scrutiny in this area;

26.  Considers that an enhanced political and legislative dialogue between and with national parliaments would favour compliance with the objectives set out in the inter-institutional agreement on better law-making;

o
o   o

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

(1) OJ C 200, 30.6.1997, p. 153.
(2) OJ C 284 E, 21.11.2002, p. 322.
(3) OJ C 212 E, 5.8.2010, p. 94.
(4) OJ C 443, 22.12.2017, p. 40.
(5) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0049.
(6) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0050.
(7) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0048.
(8) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0421.


Annual report on Competition policy
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European Parliament resolution of 19 April 2018 on the Annual Report on Competition Policy (2017/2191(INI))
P8_TA(2018)0187A8-0049/2018

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), in particular Articles 39, 42, 101 to 109, and 174 thereof,

–  having regard to the Commission report of 31 May 2017 on Competition Policy 2016 (COM(2017)0285) and to the Commission staff working document published as a supporting document on the same date (SWD(2017)0175),

–  having regard to Commission Regulation (EU) No 651/2014 of 17 June 2014 declaring certain categories of aid compatible with the internal market in application of Articles 107 and 108 of the Treaty(1),

–  having regard to the White Paper of 9 July 2014 entitled ‘Towards more effective EU merger control’ (COM(2014)0449),

–  having regard to Commission Regulation (EU) 2017/1084 of 14 June 2017 amending Regulation (EU) No 651/2014 as regards aid for port and airport infrastructure, notification thresholds for aid for culture and heritage conservation and for aid for sport and multifunctional recreational infrastructures, and regional operating aid schemes for outermost regions and amending Regulation (EU) No 702/2014 as regards the calculation of eligible costs(2),

–  having regard to the proposal for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council to empower the competition authorities of the Member States to be more effective enforcers and to ensure the proper functioning of the internal market (COM(2017)0142),

–  having regard to the Commission Notice of 19 July 2016 on the notion of State aid as referred to in Article 107(1) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union(3),

–  having regard to its resolution of 5 February 2014 on EU cooperation agreements on competition policy enforcement – the way forward(4),

–  having regard to its resolution of 4 February 2016 on the special situation of islands(5),

–   having regard to its resolution of 22 November 2016 on the Green Paper on Retail Financial Services(6),

–  having regard to its resolution of 14 February 2017 on the Annual Report on EU Competition Policy(7) and to its resolutions of previous years on the subject,

–  having regard to its resolution of 14 November 2017 on the Action Plan on Retail Financial Services(8),

–  having regard to the relevant Commission rules, guidelines, decisions, resolutions, communications and papers on the subject of competition,

–  having regard to the opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee on the Report on Competition Policy 2016,

–  having regard to the Interinstitutional Agreement of 13 April 2016 on Better Law-Making(9),

–  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 International Trade, the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection and the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development (A8-0049/2018),

1.  Welcomes the Commission report of 31 May 2017 on Competition Policy 2016, which shows that, in a fair competitive environment, investment and innovation are key for the future of Europe;

2.  Strongly supports the independence of the Commission and national competition authorities (NCAs) in their mission to shape and enforce effectively EU competition rules for the benefit of all EU citizens and undertakings operating in the EU;

3.  Welcomes and further encourages the efforts of the Commission to maintain, in addition to the structured dialogue with the Commissioner for Competition, Margrethe Vestager, regular contact with the members of Parliament’s competent committee and its Working Group on Competition Policy; is convinced that the Commission’s Annual Report on Competition Policy is a key exercise in terms of democratic scrutiny, and welcomes the Commission’s feedback on all the specific requests adopted by Parliament;

4.  Calls on the Commission to ensure regular information and exchanges with Parliament on the preparation and implementation of EU legislation, international agreements and other soft law concerning competition policy, as provided for by the Interinstitutional Agreement (IIA) between the Commission and Parliament; notes that this is not happening in a satisfactory manner, for example, in the consultations on the EU-Canada agreement on the exchange of information in competition proceedings; calls on the Council to ratify the EU-Canada agreement as soon as possible; intends to promote regular exchanges of views in the responsible committee with the European Competition Network (ECN) and NCAs;

5.  Calls on the Commission to monitor the implementation of legislation linked to the completion of the single market, such as in the energy (including self-consumption) and transport sectors, the digital market, and retail financial services, in order to improve the enforcement of EU competition rules and achieve a consistent application thereof in the Member States;

6.  Notes that state aid can be an indispensable tool to secure the necessary infrastructure and supply for both the energy and transport sectors, particularly in Europe, where a transition towards cleaner and more climate friendly energy supply and transportation systems is taking place;

7.  Notes that state aid can be necessary to ensure the delivery of services of general economic interest (SGEI), including energy, transport and telecommunications; emphasises that state intervention is often the best policy tool to deliver services that are crucial for supporting isolated, remote or peripheral regions and islands in the Union;

8.  Considers it important to guarantee competition which entails safeguarding the possibility of cross-border acquisitions in the intra-European market in financial services, including insurance;

9.  Emphasises that the connectivity of peripheral regions and islands is essential for sustaining and developing acceptable levels of economic and social initiative by maintaining vital business connections;

10.  Stresses that accessing cash from ATMs is an essential public service that must be provided without any discriminatory, anti-competitive or unfair practices and must not, therefore, incur excessive costs;

11.  Welcomes the efforts made by DG Competition to continue to build a stable and balanced workforce throughout 2016; welcomes, moreover, the improvement in human resources management in DG Competition, and the fact that staff turnover fell to its lowest level since records began (from 13,9 % in 2015 to 10,8 % in 2016(10)); asks the Commission to reallocate adequate financial and human resources to DG Competition and to ensure stable finances for modernising the directorate’s electronic and informatics tools, in order to cope with increasing workload and technological progress; calls, once again, for a strict separation between the departments that draw up guidelines and those responsible for applying them;

12.  Welcomes the advances made by DG Competition in the field of equal opportunities, including 36 % female representation in middle management;

13.  Emphasises, once again, that corruption in public procurement has serious market-distorting effects on European competitiveness; reiterates that public procurement is one of the government activities most vulnerable to corruption; highlights that in certain Member States, EU-funded procurement bears a greater risk of corruption than nationally funded procurement; calls on the Commission to continue its efforts to prevent the misuse of EU funds and stimulate accountability in public procurement; welcomes, moreover, the establishment of the European Public Prosecutor’s Office;

14.  Takes note that EU rules do not establish target timeframes for antitrust investigations, which implies that decisions are sometimes made too late, after competitors have been obliged to exit the market;

15.  Calls on the Commission to adopt indicative guidelines to shorten the duration of antitrust investigations and proceedings for abuse of a dominant market position, in order to prevent uncertainty and excessive burdens for businesses, and to shape a competitive landscape which is beneficial to consumers; cautions that more flexible timeframes should only be allowed in complex cases where investigations are to be extended with regard to other undertakings;

16.  Underlines that while the speed of investigations has to be balanced with the need to adequately preserve the rights of defence and the quality of investigations, indicative timeframes may help the antitrust authorities to make more efficient use of their resources; notes that in order to improve the speed of major antitrust investigations, the Commission and stakeholders could increase the use of streamlined antitrust proceedings and improve access to the relevant files;

17.  Takes note that most of the decisions concerning antitrust issues are taken at national level; calls on the Commission to monitor, therefore, while taking into account the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality, the global consistency and independence of competition policy and its enforcement within the internal market, with the support of the ECN; stresses that the independence of NCAs is highly important and therefore welcomes the Commission’s ECN+ proposal aimed at strengthening the capacity of the NCAs to ensure more effective enforcement of EU competition law;

18.  Believes that the Commission should verify that, in order to be able to perform their work in complete independence, NCAs are adequately equipped in terms of financial, human and technical resources, and that the election or nomination of their directors and senior management is transparent and not politically influenced; stresses that the autonomy of NCAs, including in budgetary terms, is essential to ensure the effective enforcement of EU competition law; calls on the Member States to ensure that NCAs make public annual reports containing statistics and a reasoned synthesis of their activities, and asks that the Commission submits an annual report to Parliament regarding these key points; believes that the NCAs must have procedures in place to ensure that their staff and directors, for a reasonable period after leaving their post, refrain from occupations which may give rise to a conflict of interests in relation to a specific case with which they were involved at the NCA; stresses the importance of the ECN, which provides a platform for regular exchanges between the Commission and the NCAs in order to ensure effective and consistent application of competition rules; calls on the Commission to take into account the opinion of the NCAs;

19.  Takes the view that a study on the awareness and understanding among undertakings, particularly SMEs, of EU competition law and state aid rules, could be useful in order to step up the enforcement of EU competition law and could also be helpful for guidance purposes;

20.  Takes the view that interim measures can be an important tool, particularly in the digital economy, to ensure that contraventions in the course of an investigation do not severely and irreparably damage competition; calls on the Commission to examine the available options either to speed up proceedings before the competition authorities for the application of Articles 101 and 102 TFEU, or to simplify the adoption of interim measures; calls on the Commission, in this connection, to carry out a study and submit its conclusions, and where appropriate a legislative proposal, to Parliament and the Council;

21.  Calls on the Commission, in connection with a possible reform of the Merger Regulation, to examine carefully whether current assessment procedures take sufficient account of circumstances on digital markets; takes the view that an adjustment of the assessment criteria for mergers in the digital economy might be necessary; further emphasises that the independence of the national competition authorities should be guaranteed not only in the application of Articles 101 and 102 TFEU, but also in the enforcement of the European merger rules; therefore stresses the need for equivalent EU-level rules in this area;

22.  Welcomes the sustained efforts of the Commission to clarify the different aspects of the definition of state aid, as demonstrated by its Notice on the notion of State aid as referred to in Article 107(1) TFEU, which constitutes an important building block of the State Aid Modernisation initiative; notes in particular the Commission’s efforts to clarify the notions of ‘undertaking’ and ‘economic activity’; observes, nonetheless, that it remains difficult, especially in the field of social affairs, to draw the line between economic and non-economic activities; further points out that it is the role of the European Court of Justice to ensure the proper interpretation of the Treaty;

23.  Reiterates that fair tax competition is important for the integrity of the internal market and that all market players, including digital companies, should pay their fair share of taxes where their profit is generated and compete on equal terms; welcomes the Commission’s in-depth investigations in this regard and stresses that tackling tax fraud and aggressive tax planning is necessary to ensure a level playing field across the single market and to consolidate sound public budgets; stresses that state aid rules also apply to tax exemptions and that it is essential to eliminate distortive anti-competitive practices, such as selective tax advantages; invites the Member States to ensure that the Commission has access to all the relevant information exchanged between the national tax authorities, in order to assess the compatibility of their tax rulings and arrangements with EU competition rules;

24.  Expresses its concern at competition authorities’ failure to take action against the retroactive elimination of support schemes to renewable energy; underlines that this inaction has further distorted competition, since international investors have been able to obtain redress while local investors have not; calls on the Commission to investigate the distorting effects of existing capacity payments and nuclear moratorium payments in electricity markets;

25.  Calls for state aid guidelines on taxation to be revised so as to cover cases of unfair competition, going beyond tax rulings and transfer pricing;

26.  Underlines the need for simple and transparent tax policies and regulations;

27.  Strongly welcomes the Commission’s decision against the illegal tax benefits granted to Amazon and its previous landmark decisions on illegal selective tax advantages, and stresses that the timely recovery of illegal aid is essential; notes that Luxembourg announced its intention to appeal the Amazon decision, just as Ireland did for the Apple case; calls on the Commission to continue to monitor the situation in all Member States and take decisions against any illegal state aid in all comparable cases in order to guarantee equal treatment and restore a level playing field;

28.  Underlines the need to tax digital companies on the basis of their genuine activity in Member States by capturing turnover generated through digital platforms, thus preventing a competitive disadvantage for those companies conducting business by means of a permanent physical presence;

29.  Considers that fair competition in the internal market can be hampered by tax planning, as new entrants and SMEs doing business only in one country are penalised as compared to multinational corporations, which can shift profits or implement other forms of aggressive tax planning through a variety of decisions and instruments only available to them; notes with concern that the resulting lower tax liabilities leave multinational corporations with a higher post-tax profit and create an uneven playing field with their competitors on the single market, which have no recourse to aggressive tax planning and keep the connection between where they generate profit and their place of taxation;

30.  Asks the Commission to enter into negotiations with all states and territories that enjoy good access to the common market and lack effective state aid controls against unfair tax competition;

31.  Takes note of the possibility of using public funds to bail out banks that are important in their region; calls on the Commission to explain under which conditions this is possible, particularly with regard to EU state aid and bail-in rules; believes that the current legal framework is unclear and calls on the Commission to improve it;

32.  Recalls that according to the Deposit Guarantee Schemes Directive, the use of deposit guarantee schemes to prevent the failure of a credit institution should be carried out within a clearly defined framework and should in any event comply with state aid rules;

33.  Calls on the Commission to re-evaluate on an annual basis whether the requirements for the application of Article 107(3)(b) TFEU in the financial sector continue to be fulfilled;

34.  Believes that, following the financial crisis, concentration in the banking sector has increased and, in some cases, has been encouraged by the European and national supervision authorities; calls on the Commission to monitor this phenomenon and carry out a country-by-country study at European level to examine its effects on competition;

35.  Welcomes the commitments made by Commissioner Vestager in the structured dialogue with the Committee for Economic and Monetary Affairs on 21 November 2017 to reflect on possible distortions of competition arising from the European Central Bank’s Corporate Sector Purchase Programme and to report back with a qualitative answer; emphasises, in this regard, that the notion of selectivity in state aid is an essential criterion that needs to be investigated thoroughly; further points in this regard to Article 4(3) of the Treaty on European Union, which contains the so-called principle of loyalty;

36.  Calls on the Commission to closely monitor activities in the retail banking sector and financial services sector for any breaches of antitrust rules and cartel activity and to work closely with national competition authorities to enforce EU antitrust rules;

37.  Considers it a priority to ensure that state aid rules are strictly and impartially adhered to when dealing with future banking crises, so that taxpayers are protected against the burden of bank rescues;

38.  Supports the finding of the Commission’s sector inquiry into e-commerce that cross-border e-commerce can contribute to the further integration of the single market, and can bring competitive advantages for businesses and increase consumer choice, but that geo-blocking measures constitute a significant impediment to this; reiterates that this may be found to be contrary to Article 101 in certain circumstances; welcomes the Commission’s commitment to target enforcement of EU competition rules which were either established or became more widespread as a result of the emergence and growing significance of the digital economy; equally welcomes the Commission’s aim to broaden dialogue with national competition authorities in order to ensure a consistent application of EU competition rules with regard to e-commerce practices;

39.  Invites the European Chief Negotiator for Brexit, in cooperation with Commissioner Vestager, to initiate as soon as possible a fair and transparent discussion on the future of EU-UK relations in terms of competition;

40.  Believes that all ongoing investigations(11) into potential breaches of EU competition law by the UK or by companies based in the UK should not be threatened by the Brexit agenda, and that any final decision taken by the Commission after 29 March 2019 should continue to be binding;

41.  Takes note of the Commission’s statement of objections and its preliminary conclusion that Google has abused its market dominance as a search engine by giving an illegal advantage to another of its products: its comparison shopping service; calls on the Commission to ensure that the company implements the remedy effectively and promptly to prevent further abuse of a dominant position; stress the need for the Commission to carry out an in-depth analysis and to monitor how the Google proposal would work in practice in order to restore the level playing field required for competition and innovation to thrive; notes that without a full-blown structural separation between the company’s general and specialised search services, an auction-based approach might not deliver equal treatment; invites the Commission and the Google CEO to attend a joint public hearing of the Committees on Economic and Monetary Affairs and on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection; is of the opinion that all companies, including in the digital sector, should closely cooperate with Parliament, including by attending public hearings;

42.  Calls on the Commission to take more ambitious steps to eliminate illegitimate obstacles to online competition, in order to ensure barrier-free online shopping for EU consumers purchasing from sellers who are based in another Member State, while at the same time not creating new barriers caused by existing variations in consumer law;

43.  Calls on the Commission to diligently conduct and conclude as soon as possible all other pending antitrust investigations, such as Android, AdSense, and investigations in the travel and local search sectors, where Google is allegedly abusing its dominance at the expense of existing and potential competitors, which have been prevented from entering and developing in this area; stresses the need for the Commission to be well prepared and equipped for the first big data case, which represents around 5,2 terabytes of data; stresses, in this connection, that big tech companies’ use of personal data is unprecedented and consumers are often not aware or informed of the extent to which their data is being used, for example in profiling or targeted advertising; believes that digital companies constitute a specific challenge for the competition and fiscal authorities, notably when it comes to algorithms, artificial intelligence or the value of data; encourages the Commission to develop policy and enforcement instruments dealing with the emergence of digital economies, ensuring that it has a full complement of high-tech in-house engineers and specialists in cutting-edge technologies available to monitor and take action against anti-competitive situations concerning the digital and platform economy;

44.  Highlights the importance of ongoing investigations in the pharmaceutical sector, given the build-up of evidence of market distortions in the field, including quantity restrictions, manipulated prices and barriers to the availability of generic medicines;

45.  Welcomes the Commission’s fact sheet of 6 October 2017 confirming its performance of unannounced inspections concerning access to bank account information by competing services; invites the Commission to remain vigilant on this issue, especially when the Regulatory Technical Standards on strong customer authentication and secure communication enters into force;

46.  Welcomes the Commission’s investigation on the trucks cartel and its conclusions;

47.  Asks the Commission to clarify state aid rules for European and non-European airlines, with a view to establishing a level playing field between their operations targeting European and non-European markets; believes that restructuring aid could be distortive in certain scenarios; believes that the same competition rules should be applied to all air carriers when flying to or from the EU and to both national and low-cost carriers, while taking into account the situation of carriers whose operations have no significant impact on the market; notes that the Commission approved Lufthansa’s acquisition of the Air Berlin subsidiary LGW, subject to compliance with certain commitments to avoid distortions in competition; calls on the Commission to monitor the situation in the medium-long term and to tackle all anti-competitive practices in the aviation industry which undermine consumer protection legislation;

48.  Asks the Commission to investigate the hegemony enjoyed by low-cost airlines over different air routes in Europe and the pricing patterns for those routes; notes that such a position is often obtained through aggressive or even predatory behaviour on the market, eliminating competition and leaving consumers to shoulder the burden of higher tariffs and costs;

49.  Requests that the Commission carefully assesses all airline merger deals in accordance with the EU’s merger control procedure, including their impact on market competition and the potential harm that they may cause to consumers, most notably through higher prices and restrictions to direct access of destinations;

50.  Urges the Commission to complete the implementation of the Single European Railway Area, to ensure full transparency in the flows of money between infrastructure managers and railway undertakings, and to verify that every Member State has a strong and independent national antitrust regulator;

51.  Is concerned at the anti-competitive effects of common ownership by large institutional investors; believes that the fact that these investors hold a significant part of the shares of direct competitors in the same sector, such as airlines companies for example, creates a quasi-oligopoly and adverse effects for consumers and the economy as a whole by limiting competition; calls on the Commission to take all necessary measures to deal with the possible anti-competitive effects of common ownership; calls on the Commission, furthermore, to investigate common ownership and draw up a report, to be presented to Parliament, on the effects of common ownership on European markets, particularly on prices and innovation;

52.  Welcomes the revision of Regulation (EC) No 868/2004 to safeguard fair competition, ensure reciprocity and eliminate unfair practices, including alleged state aid to airlines from certain third countries, and to address regulatory issues, including labour conditions, and environmental issues; agrees with the Commission that the best course of action would be the adoption of a new, comprehensive legal instrument to address market distortion in international transport, the encouragement of the involvement of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) on regional airline competition, and fair competition based on air service agreements; believes that transparency in the fair competition clause is an essential element to guarantee a level playing field; is of the opinion that this regulation, or other appropriate legislative vehicles, should prevent anti-competitive behaviour in ticket distribution, such as the imposition by certain airlines of surcharges or restricted access to information for those using booking channels other than their own;

53.  Reiterates that aviation makes a vital contribution to the connectivity of the EU, both between Member States themselves and with third countries, plays a crucial role in EU integration and competitiveness, and makes a vital contribution to economic growth and employment; notes that the overall connectivity of the EU relies, to a great extent, on air services performed by EU air carriers;

54.  Welcomes the Commission’s simplification of rules for public investment in ports and airports, culture and the outermost regions; stresses that, taking into account the connectivity needs of outermost and peripheral regions and in line with the current Commission Guidelines, all airports financed by the EU budget or the European Investment Bank should be based on a positive cost-benefit analysis and medium- to long-term operational and economic viability in order to avoid the financing of ghost airports in Europe;

55.  Stresses the importance of safeguarding the transparency and neutrality of flight information, of ensuring a level playing field in the market and ultimately protecting the ability of European consumers to make informed choices; calls on the Commission, therefore, to abide by these principles when reviewing the Code of Conduct on computerised reservation systems and the Air Services Regulation;

56.  Calls on the Commission to ensure fair competition in the transport sector in order to complete the single market, taking account of the public interest and environmental considerations and safeguarding the connectivity of insular and peripheral regions; call on the Commission to monitor cases of public port and airport networks being managed through a monopoly;

57.  Emphasises that international cooperation is essential for the effective enforcement of the principles of competition law in an era of globalisation; supports, in this context, the permanent engagement of the Commission and NCAs in multilateral fora such as the International Competition Network, the Competition Committee of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the World Bank and the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD); asks the Commission to include competition sections in international trade and investment agreements; invites the Commission to continue to promote convergence of competition policy tools and practices, including though bilateral cooperation with third countries, along the lines of the 2013 second-generation cooperation agreement between the EU and Switzerland; welcomes the opening of dialogue between the Commission and China on state aid control and is carefully following China’s adoption of a fair competition review system designed to ensure state measures do not adversely affect market entry and exit and the free movement of goods; reiterates its request to Commissioner Vestager to effectively ensure that the Commission informs and regularly updates Parliament’s competent committee on its external activity in the area of competition policy;

58.  Stresses that it is the consumer who chiefly benefits from functional competition in the European single market; believes that a strict and impartial enforcement of competition policy can make a significant contribution to key political priorities, such as a deeper and fairer internal market, a connected Digital Single Market, and an integrated and climate-friendly Energy Union; reiterates that traditional market models of competition policy may not always be suitable for the digital market, as platform-based business models or multi-sided markets;

59.  Points out that a single set of rules for calculating the corporate tax base could eliminate unfair tax competition, such as the conclusion of tax agreements between certain multinationals and Member States; takes note of the ongoing negotiations on the common consolidated corporate tax base (CCCTB);

60.  Notes the importance of a favourable regulatory framework for airports to attract and mobilise private investment; considers that the Commission’s evaluation of the Airport Charges Directive, in conjunction with effective airline/airport consultation, should help clarify whether the existing provisions are an effective tool to promote competition and to further the interests of European consumers, or whether reform is needed;

61.  Welcomes the fact that the Spanish Government is ready to open up the air agreement between Spain and Russia, allowing direct flights between Barcelona and Tokyo;

62.  Invites the Commission to examine the bilateral aviation agreements between Member States and third countries in order to ensure fair competition;

63.  Calls on the Commission to consider and address the potential effects of Brexit on competition in the aviation sector, and in particular where UK membership to the European Common Aviation Area (ECAA) Agreement would be affected, consequently restricting access to all EU destinations and vice versa;

64.  Considers that ensuring a level playing field for companies in the internal market also depends on efforts to decisively combat social dumping;

65.  Calls on the Commission to further address the long-term effects of the interrupted discussions on future legislation under the EU Aviation Strategy;

66.  Welcomes the Commission’s inception impact assessment and public consultation on the food supply chain; points out that Parliament has already called on the Commission and the national competition authorities to respond to the concerns raised by the combined impact, on both the upstream part of the food supply chain and distributors and consumers, of the rapid concentration of the distribution sector at national level on the one hand, and the alliances being formed among large-scale distributors at European and international level on the other; believes that this structural change raises concerns about possible strategic alignments, a fall-off in competition, and reduced scope for investment in innovation within the food supply chain, the proper functioning of producers’ organisations, especially small-scale farmers, and the choice of adapted varieties to agro-ecological conditions; calls on the Commission to put in place a binding regulatory framework at EU level to combat unfair commercial practices in the food supply chain that adversely affect farmers;

67.  Welcomes the Commission’s in-depth investigation into the Monsanto-Bayer merger; is deeply alarmed at the fact that if the Monsanto-Bayer merger is approved, three companies (ChemChina-Syngenta, Du Pont-Dow and Bayer-Monsanto) will own and sell up to 60 % of the world’s patented seeds and 64 % of the world’s pesticides and herbicides; points out that such a level of concentration will undoubtedly lead to price rises, will increase farmers’ technological and economic dependence on a few global integrated one-stop shop platforms, will result in limited seed diversity and the re-direction of innovation activity away from the adoption of a production model which is respectful of the environment and biodiversity and, ultimately, to less innovation, as a result of reduced competition; asks the Commission, therefore, to give careful consideration to the fact that several mergers are taking place simultaneously in the sector, when looking at the level of concentration and the competitive effects of the merger on the various markets affected;

68.  Is deeply concerned about the Commission’s approval of the Bayer-Monsanto merger, as in spite of the proposed divestment of Bayer’s assets, the merger exacerbates the already far-reaching concentration of the agribusiness sector and effectively impedes a transition away from chemical-dependent agriculture towards genuinely sustainable farming; calls for a revision of competition law to enable effective opposition of mergers of this kind in the future; strongly urges the Commission, therefore, to assess whether mergers in the agricultural sector could lead to ‘a significant impediment of effective competition’, not by means of a test with a limited scope that merely focuses on the effects of a merger on prices, output and innovation, but by evaluating the full social costs of such mergers, taking into account their broader impact on environmental protection, and international biodiversity obligations, as required by virtue of Article 11 TFEU;

69.  Considers that trade subsidies and preferences, such as GSP and GSP+, which are given to non-EU states to promote human and labour rights but which have also been shown as instrumental in promoting the EU’s competitiveness on the international stage, must be adequately monitored and applied with attention given to the impact on EU industries; calls on the Commission, therefore, to suspend the grant or preference if non-EU countries abuse them;

70.  Recalls that the Commission has been looking into Luxembourg’s tax treatment of McDonald’s since June 2014 and took the decision to initiate a formal investigation procedure in December 2015, but that no final decision has been taken so far; asks the Commission to make every effort to reach a final decision on this case soon;

71.  Calls on the Commission to regularly assess the effectiveness of Member States’ protection of intellectual property rights, which is an essential element of health competition policies; stresses that trademark protection is essential for the purposes of identifying and distinguishing products in the marketplace; and that without trademarks and the ability to enable people to differentiate between their products, it becomes very difficult, if not impossible, for manufacturers to enter new markets; considers, moreover, that by focusing competition on price, it makes it difficult for manufacturers with small market shares to strengthen their market position; emphasises, therefore, that the removal of trademarks or limitations on their use creates a significant barrier to market entry and undermines an essential aspect of free and fair competition in the EU;

72.  Strongly supports the Commission’s statement in the Annual Report on Competition Policy 2016 that ‘as companies go global, so must competition enforcers’; believes that global rules on competition, transparency and the highest level of coordination between competition authorities, including with respect to exchange of information during the course of competition proceedings, are preconditions for the development of global fair trade; points out that combating unfair trading practices, including through competition policy, is necessary to ensure a global level playing field which benefits workers, consumers and businesses and is one of the priorities of the EU’s commercial strategy; emphasises that the reflection paper on harnessing globalisation states that the Union must take steps to restore fair conditions of competition, and asks the Commission to propose concrete policies in this respect;

73.  Calls for trade defence instruments to be updated to make them stronger, faster and more effective; welcomes the new method of calculating anti-dumping duties by assessing market distortions in third countries, which must succeed in safeguarding at least the same level of effectiveness as previously imposed anti-dumping measures in full compliance with our WTO obligations; recalls the importance of monitoring its effective implementation; emphasises, furthermore, the particular importance of the anti-subsidy instrument in tackling unfair global competition, and establishing a level playing field with EU state aid rules;

74.  Emphasises that reciprocity must be one of the key principles underpinning Union commercial policy, with a view to ensuring a level playing field for EU firms, in particular in the area of public procurement; stresses that efforts aimed at securing greater access to foreign public procurement markets must not undermine the development of EU rules in relation to social and environmental criteria; emphasises the importance for the Union of an international instrument on public procurement which establishes the needed reciprocity in cases where trade partners restrict access to their procurement markets; recalls the benefits of foreign direct investment and takes the view that the Commission proposal on the monitoring of foreign investment should make for greater reciprocity in the area of access to markets;

75.  Calls on the Commission to take account of the needs of SMEs when conducting negotiations and trade with a view to ensuring better access to markets and making the firms in question more competitive; acknowledges, in this respect, the Commission’s effort to combat unfair competition in high-profile cases, but stresses that the enforcement of fair competition in the case of SMEs is also of the utmost importance;

76.  Stresses that EU trade policy and trade agreements can have a role to play in the fight against corruption;

77.  Draws attention to the importance of effective, harmonised EU customs checks in combating unfair competition;

78.  Calls on the Commission to explain further how unfair trading practices can be addressed under current competition policy;

79.  Welcomes, therefore, the Commission’s proposal on the European Competition Network (ECN+), including the importance of deterrent fines to competition policy; stresses, furthermore, that the refusal of the requested authority to enforce a decision imposing fines should always be duly justified, and that a system should be set up whereby potential disputes between authorities in such cases could be resolved;

80.  Takes note of the e-commerce sector inquiry and its final report, which shows that in the e-commerce sector there are some business practices which negatively affect fair competition and limit consumer choice; believes that, within the context of the Digital Single Market Strategy, the inquiry should be part of a greater enforcement effort by the Commission to apply competition policy in full to online retailers;

81.  Supports the Commission’s intention to target enforcement of the EU competition rules at widespread business practices that have emerged or evolved as a result of the growth of e-commerce, and stresses that the Commission must put increased effort into ensuring the consistent application of the EU competition rules in all Member States, also with regard to e-commerce-related business practices; underlines that, given the asymmetrical relationship between large online retailers and their suppliers, the Commission and national competition authorities should actively enforce the competition rules as suppliers, especially SMEs, may not always have cost-effective access to means of redress;

82.  Calls for the strengthening of the freedom of choice for consumers in the Digital Single Market; considers that the enshrined right to data portability in the General Data Protection Regulation (Regulation (EU) 2016/679) is a good approach to strengthening the rights of consumers and competition;

83.  Is of the view that effective competition policy can complement regulatory initiatives in the area of the Digital Single Market, and considers that where the impetus for regulatory action is primarily in response to market actions by some players, harm could be addressed through competition measures to tackle anti-competitive practices, without holding back those who seek to compete;

84.  Is concerned by the increased use of contractual restrictions by manufacturers on online sales, as confirmed by the e-commerce inquiry, and calls on the Commission to further review such clauses to ensure that they do not create unjustified restrictions of competition; at the same time, asks the Commission to review the Guidelines on Vertical Restraints and Commission Regulation (EU) No 330/2010 in light of these changes;

85.  Takes note of the Opinion of Advocate-General Wahl of 26 July 2017 in case C-230/16 Coty Germany GmbH v Parfümerie Akzente GmbH that a restriction on online marketplace sales contained in a distribution agreement should not be considered as a hardcore restriction under Commission Regulation (EU) No 330/2010;

86.  Stresses that access to justice, which may also include the availability of collective redress, is essential for the achievement of the objectives of EU competition policy; underlines that the absence of such opportunities weakens competition, the functioning of the internal market and consumer rights;

87.  Recalls that if anti-competitive practices are to be fought effectively, Member States must adopt an economic policy that is consistent with the principles of an open market economy based on fair competition, as purely protectionist measures harm the functioning of the single market; underlines that all aspects of unfair competition must be eliminated, including unregistered work and circumventing rules on the posting of workers, without prejudice to the free movement of labour as one of the fundamental freedoms of the internal market;

88.  Considers the consultation carried out by the Commission on the possible improvement of EU merger control to be very important; believes that steps must be taken to ensure, in particular in the digital sphere, that mergers do not restrict competition in the internal market; calls again on the Commission, therefore, to examine carefully whether current assessment procedures take sufficient account of the circumstances of digital markets and of the internationalisation of markets; calls, furthermore, on the Commission to take into account the role of access to data and information when assessing market power, whether merging data and customer information during a merger distorts competition, and to what extent an enterprise’s access to exclusive analytical methods and patents excludes competitors; reiterates its request to the Commission to explain how it defines the minimum number of market players necessary for fair competition, and how it retains the possibility for new companies, in particular start-ups, to enter highly concentrated markets;

89.  Calls on Member States to ensure the proper enforcement of EU public procurement rules in order to tackle distortions of competition, including by means of social, environmental and consumer protection criteria where appropriate, and to promote good practice in public authorities’ processes; considers that the development of electronic public procurement procedures will make it easier for SMEs to access public procurement, will increase transparency, and will ensure more effective monitoring of infringements of the competition rules; calls, furthermore, on the Commission to promote market access opportunities for SMEs through smaller contracts where compatible with key procurement objectives, and to carefully monitor the enforcement of rules as regards centralisation of purchases in public procurement markets;

90.  Welcomes the adoption of rules on the portability of pre-paid services under the Single Digital Market Strategy that will improve competition in the internal market and ensure greater consumer rights;

91.  Believes that criteria to join a selective distribution or franchising network should be transparent in order to ensure that such criteria do not violate competition policy and the free functioning of the single market; underlines that such criteria must be objective, qualitative and non-discriminatory, and must not go beyond what is strictly necessary; calls on the Commission to take measures to ensure this transparency;

92.  Notes the increased risk of collusion between competitors due to, among other things, price monitoring software; considers that concerted practices may emerge despite contact between competitors being weaker than required under current norms, perhaps even automated, as algorithms interact with each other independent of the direction of one or more market players; asks the Commission to be vigilant about such new challenges to free competition;

93.  Welcomes the Commission’s efforts to connect with its international partners and multilateral fora in the area of competition policy; believes that international cooperation is increasingly essential where companies subject to enforcement operate across multiple jurisdictions;

94.  Believes that increasing the network of free trade agreements involving the European Union will benefit the enforcement of competition law globally; encourages the Commission in this regard to seek further trade agreement opportunities, and to include strong antitrust and State aid rules in any such future agreements;

95.  Believes that the specific nature of the agriculture sector must be taken into account in competition policy; recalls that Article 42 TFEU gives special status to the agricultural sector as regards competition law, affirmed in the last reform of the common agricultural policy (CAP) by allowing a series of derogations and exemptions from the provisions of Article 101 TFEU; notes that the CAP aims to ensure a fair standard of living for the agricultural community in the face of constant economic and climate-related hazard; recalls that competition policy mainly defends consumers’ interests and takes insufficient account of agricultural producers’ specific interests and difficulties; stresses that competition policy must defend the interests of agricultural producers and consumers’ in the same way by ensuring that the conditions for competition and for access to the internal market are fair, in order to foster investment and innovation, for employment, viability of agricultural businesses and balanced development of rural areas in the EU, while promoting transparency for market participants;

96.  Insists that the concept of ‘fair price’ should not be regarded as the lowest price possible for the consumer, but instead must be reasonable and allow fair remuneration of each party within the food supply chain;

97.  Considers that the collective activities of producer organisations and their associations – including production planning and the negotiation of sales and of the terms of contracts – are necessary to achieve the CAP objectives as defined in Article 39 TFEU and should therefore be exempted from the application of Article 101 TFEU, when those joint activities are genuinely exercised, thereby contributing to improving the competitiveness of farmers; notes that the derogations under Regulation (EU) No 1308/2013 (Single CMO Regulation) have not been used to their full extent, and that the lack of clarity of these derogations, the difficulties in implementing them and the lack of uniform application by national competition authorities have not given farmers and their organisations enough legal certainty; welcomes the fact that Regulation (EU) 2017/2393(12) will simplify the rules on farmers’ organising collectively, and will clarify the role and powers of producer organisations pursuing economic activities in relation to competition law, so as to strengthen their bargaining power while safeguarding the principles set out in Article 39 TFEU;

98.  Welcomes the fact, taking into account the encouraging implementation reviews(13) and the way in which it is helping to strengthen the position of dairy farmers within the food supply chain, that the 2012 ‘Milk Package’ is due to be extended in time under Regulation (EU) 2017/2393; calls on the Commission, however, to carry out an impact assessment to determine whether the provisions on contractual negotiations in the milk and milk products sector should be extended in scope to cover other agricultural sectors, as farmers and producers’ organisations would have more freedom to plan production, the right to collective bargaining and the negotiation of sales and of the terms of contracts that set prices and volumes clearly;

99.  Calls for an automatic express exemption from Article 101 TFEU to be provided, subject to the principles of necessity and proportionality, allowing agricultural inter-branch organisations to accomplish the tasks assigned to them by the Single CMO Regulation, with a view to furthering the aims of Article 39 TFEU;

100.  Proposes that the provisions of the Single CMO Regulation enabling supply regulation measures to be adopted for cheeses with a protected designation of origin or a protected geographical indication (Article 150), for PDO or PGI ham (Article 172), or for wines (Article 167) to be extended to cover quality-labelled products in order to increase the possibilities of matching supply with demand;

101.  Welcomes the fact that Regulation (EU) 2017/2393 establishes a procedure whereby a grouping of farmers may seek a non-binding opinion from the Commission in order to determine whether given collective action is compatible with the general exception to competition rules under Article 209 of the Single CMO Regulation; calls, nonetheless, on the Commission, in the light of the recommendation of the Agricultural Markets Task Force, to clarify the scope of the general derogation for agriculture in order to specify the exception in such a way as to make the non-application of Article 101 TFEU – where this is provided for – enforceable and workable;

102.  Points out that in periods of severe market imbalances, when the agricultural sector is at risk and all citizens are affected by the potential damage to essential food supplies, a market-oriented CAP needs to provide support to farmers and grant additional, time-limited and fully justified exemptions from competition rules; welcomes the fact that, as a result of changes made with Regulation (EU) 2017/2393, it will be easier to trigger the provisions of Article 222 of the Single CMO Regulation, which allows such temporary derogations from competition law;

103.  Calls for further development of the European Food Prices Monitoring Tool to improve the detection of crises in the agri-food sector by means of better and more disaggregated data; highlights, in this regard, the need to engage farmers’ organisations in the definition and collection of data;

104.  Points to the Commission’s recognition that agricultural producers form the least concentrated level in the food supply chain while their input suppliers and customers are often much larger and more concentrated, resulting in an imbalanced relationship and to negative and unfair practices (UTPs) – on the part of some large distribution chains, processors and retail operators – that cannot be resolved by competition policy alone, and so coherence with other policies is necessary; calls, therefore, on the Commission to define more clearly a ‘dominant position’ and the abuse of such a position, taking into consideration the degree of concentration and negotiating strength of the input, processing and retail sectors; notes, furthermore, that Regulation (EU) 2017/2393 establishes certain provisions on the right to written contracts, and to negotiation of contractual terms for improved value-sharing along the supply chain, to help calm relations between stakeholders, combat unfair trading practices, make farmers more responsive to market signals, improve price reporting and transmission, and gear supply more readily to demand; calls, moreover, on the Commission and on the national competition authorities to ensure that commodities are properly classified and priced and that abuses and unfair trading practices affecting farmers are monitored and tackled through binding actions, and are penalised; believes that existing national schemes should be examined to determine the best practice to be applied;

105.  Acknowledges that, so far, competition law has not been applied to tackle unfair trading practices in the food chain at either the European or the national level; notes that specific national rules have been implemented in this regard, but they have not proved fully effective in addressing the endemic problem of unfair trading practices and the imbalance of power in the food supply chain; calls on the Commission to publish and approve without delay the announced EU legislative proposal on unfair trading practices, provide a harmonised legal framework that better protects producers and farmers from unfair trading practices, and ensure further consolidation of the internal market;

106.  Points out that Parliament has already called on the Commission and the national competition authorities to respond effectively to the anxieties being caused by the combined impact which the rapid concentration of the distribution sector at national level and the alliances being formed among large-scale distributors at European and international level is having both on the upstream part of the food supply chain and on distributors and consumers; believes that this structural change raises concerns about possible strategic alignments, a fall-off in competition, and reduced scope for investment in innovation within the food supply chain;

107.  Calls on the Member States and the EU institutions to prioritise the strengthening of the post-Brexit single market by ensuring full compliance with EU competition laws and its derogations, as well as other standards, in order to ensure legal certainty and a level playing field between Member States;

108.  Notes that the individual ceiling for de minimis aid in the agricultural sector was doubled in 2013 (from EUR 7 500 to EUR 15 000) in order to cope with the upsurge in climate-driven, health, and economic crises; points out that the national de minimis ceiling was at that time adjusted only marginally (from 0,75 % to 1 % of the value of national agricultural production), thus reducing the latitude for Member States to assist farms in difficulties; calls, therefore, for the national de minimis ceiling to be raised to 1,25 % of national agricultural production to alleviate the difficult economic situation of farmers; notes that coherent rules on de minimis aid should serve to improve the position for farmers without entailing the re-nationalisation of agricultural policy;

109.  Stresses the importance of funds aimed at enabling access to high-speed broadband networks in order to keep up with technological advancement and boost competition, especially in rural and remote areas;

110.  Stresses that opening up the EU market to very competitive trade partners and major exporters of agricultural products subject to various different standards may constitute a risk to the most sensitive farm sectors in the EU; calls on the Commission to take fully into account the effect of possible market distortions, resulting from trade agreements with third countries, on agricultural producers in Europe, given their delicate financial situation and their fundamental role in our society;

111.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, and the national and, where applicable, regional competition authorities.

(1) OJ L 187, 26.6.2014, p. 1.
(2) OJ L 156, 20.6.2017, p. 1.
(3) OJ C 262, 19.7.2016, p. 1.
(4) OJ C 93, 24.3.2017, p. 71.
(5) OJ C 35, 31.1.2018, p. 71.
(6) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0434.
(7) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0027.
(8) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0428.
(9) OJ L 123, 12.5.2016, p. 1.
(10) https://ec.europa.eu/info/sites/info/files/file_import/aar-comp-2016_en_0.pdf
(11) For example, the Commission’s in-depth investigation into a potential state aid scheme regarding UK CFC Group Financing Exemption (SA.44896).
(12) Regulation (EU) 2017/2393 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 13 December 2017 amending Regulations (EU) No 1305/2013 on support for rural development by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD), (EU) No 1306/2013 on the financing, management and monitoring of the common agricultural policy, (EU) No 1307/2013 establishing rules for direct payments to farmers under support schemes within the framework of the common agricultural policy, (EU) No 1308/2013 establishing a common organisation of the markets in agricultural products and (EU) No 652/2014 laying down provisions for the management of expenditure relating to the food chain, animal health and animal welfare, and relating to plant health and plant reproductive material (OJ L 350, 29.12.2017, p. 15).
(13) Reports on ‘Development of the dairy market situation and the operation of the “Milk Package” provisions’ (COM(2016)0724 and COM(2014)0354).


Vaccine hesitancy and drop in vaccination rates in Europe
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European Parliament resolution of 19 April 2018 on vaccine hesitancy and the drop in vaccination rates in Europe (2017/2951(RSP))
P8_TA(2018)0188B8-0188/2018

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to Article 168 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU),

–  having regard to the Council conclusions on ‘Childhood immunisation: successes and challenges of European childhood immunisation and the way forward’(1), adopted by the health ministers of the EU Member States on 6 June 2011,

–  having regard to the Council conclusions of 1 December 2014 on vaccinations as an effective tool in public health(2),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 29 June 2017 entitled ‘A European One Health Action Plan against Antimicrobial Resistance’(COM(2017)0339)

–  having regard to the World Health Organisation (WHO) Global Vaccine Action Plan (GVAP), endorsed by the 194 member states of the World Health Assembly in May 2012,

–  having regard to WHO resolution 68.6, adopted by the 194 member states of the World Health Assembly on 26 May 2015,

–  having regard to the WHO’s European Vaccine Action Plan 2015-2020, adopted on 18 September 2014,

–  having regard to the technical report of 27 April 2017 by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) on ‘Immunisation information systems in the EU and EEA’,

–  having regard to the ECDC’s technical report of 14 June 2017 on ‘Vaccine-preventable diseases and immunisation: Core competencies’,

–  having regard to the political declaration of the high-level meeting of the UN General Assembly held in New York on 21 September 2016 on antimicrobial resistance,

–  having regard to the World Bank report of March 2017 on ‘Drug-Resistant Infections: A Threat to Our Economic Future’,

–  having regard to Council recommendation 2009/1019/EU of 22 December 2009 on seasonal influenza vaccination(3),

–  having regard to the increasing numbers of intercontinental travellers,

–  having regard to the questions to the Council and to the Commission on vaccine hesitancy and the drop in vaccination rates in Europe (O-000008/2018 – B8‑0011/2018 and O-000009/2018 – B8‑0012/2018),

–  having regard to the motion for a resolution of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety,

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

A.  whereas in December 2010 global health leaders committed to ensuring the discovery, development, and global delivery of life‑saving vaccines, especially to the poorest countries, declaring the following 10 years (2011-2020) the ‘Decade of Vaccines’;

B.  whereas the cost of a full vaccines package for one child, even at the lowest global prices, increased by a factor of 68 between 2001 and 2014; whereas this price increase is unjustifiable and incompatible with the Sustainable Development Goal of ensuring healthy lives and promoting wellbeing at all ages;

C.  whereas within the EU and the European Economic Area (EEA), countries vary considerably in relation to recommended vaccines and the organisation of health services;

D.  whereas the EU Member States have all endorsed the WHO’s European Vaccine Action Plan 2015-2020;

E.  whereas encouraging high vaccination rates protects citizens from contracting vaccine-preventable diseases that are pandemic in countries with low vaccination and immunisation rates;

F.  whereas, according to a global survey undertaken by the Vaccine Confidence Project, the European region has the highest negative responses in terms of perception of the importance of vaccines and their safety and effectiveness, leading to the highest degree of vaccine hesitancy in the population(4);

G.  whereas the decline in vaccination uptake in Europe has led to significant measles outbreaks and related deaths in several European countries;

H.  whereas, on the basis of the ‘One Health’ approach, various Member States regard the vaccination of agricultural and domestic animals as an important measure, both to prevent outbreaks of cross-border animal diseases and to limit the risk of further contagion, and have introduced it, including against infections by Coxiella burnetii and other bacterial and viral diseases which also present public health risks;

I.  whereas, in the period from 2008 to 2015, 215 000 cases of vaccine‑preventable diseases (VPDs), excluding influenza, were recorded in Europe(5);

1.  Recognises the role vaccines could potentially play in combating antimicrobial resistance (AMR), which should continue to be explored;

2.  Recognises the role vaccines could potentially play in reducing the need for antibiotics, thereby helping to limit the spread of AMR, which should continue to be explored; stresses, however, that urgently reducing the overuse and misuse of, and unintended exposure to, antibiotics must remain a top priority;

3.  Notes that vaccination prevents an estimated 2,5 million deaths each year worldwide and reduces disease-specific treatment costs, including antimicrobial treatments;

4.  Welcomes the fact that the introduction of large-scale protective vaccinations in Europe has significantly contributed to the eradication of or decline in many infectious diseases; is concerned, nevertheless, at the worrying phenomenon of vaccine hesitancy, as well as the lack of national recommendations to take account of the ageing population, and calls for greater transparency in the production of vaccines and for measures to reassure European citizens;

5.  Points out that vaccines are rigorously tested through multiple stages of trials before being prequalified by the WHO and approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA), and regularly reassessed; points out that researchers must declare any conflicts of interest;

6.  Proposes that researchers subject to a conflict of interest be excluded from evaluation panels; calls for the confidentiality of the deliberations of the EMA’s evaluation panel to be lifted; proposes that the scientific and clinical data which inform the conclusions of the panel, and whose anonymity is guaranteed in advance, be made public;

7.  Recalls that the European One Health Action Plan against AMR states that immunisation through vaccination is a cost-effective public health intervention in efforts to combat antimicrobial resistance(6);

8.  Welcomes the Commission’s active engagement on the issue of vaccination and the inclusion of a vaccination initiative in the 2018 Commission Work Programme; welcomes the publication of the roadmap for a Council recommendation on strengthening cooperation against vaccine-preventable diseases;

9.  Expresses its support for the fact that in its AMR Action Plan the Commission announces that it will provide incentives to increase the uptake of diagnostics, antimicrobial alternatives and vaccines(7);

10.  Welcomes the forthcoming launch of a Joint Action co-funded by the EU’s Health Programme aimed at increasing vaccination coverage;

11.  Calls on the Member States and the Commission to reinforce the legal basis for immunisation coverage; points out that, according to objective 1 of the European Vaccine Action Plan 2015–2020, introducing and implementing an appropriate legislative framework is crucial to defining national priorities and to taking tangible steps towards a sustainable commitment to immunisation;

12.  Strongly supports the Joint Procurement Agreement, which gives Member States and the Commission a framework to jointly procure vaccines, thereby pooling the purchasing power of Member States and thus ensuring that pandemic and other vaccines are available in sufficient quantities to guarantee access to vaccines, and that all participating Member States are treated equally;

13.  Welcomes the fact that 24 Member States have signed the Joint Procurement Agreement, meaning that it covers 447,8 million of the 5082 million EU citizens; calls on those Member States which have not yet signed the agreement to do so, to ensure that all EU citizens are covered by it;

14.  Recalls the importance of transparency in building and maintaining public trust in medicines;

15.  Recalls the importance of the Clinical Trials Regulation(8) in stimulating and facilitating research into new vaccinations and ensuring the transparency of the results of clinical trials; calls on the Commission and the EMA to implement the Clinical Trials Regulation without further delay, in particular through setting up the European Portal and Database (EUPD), the implementation of which has been subject to significant delays of over two years; calls, furthermore, on all parties involved to ensure that the current process of relocating the EMA away from London does not cause any additional disruption or delays to the work of the agency;

16.  Calls on the Member States to ensure that all healthcare workers are sufficiently vaccinated themselves; calls on the Commission to address the vaccination rates of healthcare workers in its proposal for a Council recommendation on strengthened cooperation against vaccine-preventable diseases;

17.  Believes that the Commission’s initiative of a proposal for a Council recommendation on strengthened cooperation against vaccine‑preventable diseases, due to be presented in the second quarter of 2018 and aimed at supporting Member States in implementing vaccination programmes, reducing vaccine hesitancy, strengthening the supply of vaccines and improving vaccination coverage overall, is a good step; calls on the Commission and the Council to take Parliament’s position into account in the drafting of the recommendations;

18.  Notes with concern that epidemiological data on the current vaccination situation in the Member States show important gaps in the acceptance of vaccines and that the vaccination coverage rates necessary to ensure adequate protection are insufficient; is concerned that growing and widespread vaccine hesitancy has assumed worrying proportions thanks to the range of health-related consequences it gives rise to in the Member States; calls on the Member States, given the usefulness of vaccination as a preventive tool, to ensure that vaccine coverage is extended beyond early childhood, and that all population groups can be included in a lifelong vaccination approach;

19.  Underlines that the waning of public confidence in vaccination worldwide is a cause for concern and a major challenge for public health experts; notes that Europe is currently facing avoidable measles outbreaks in a number of countries owing to vaccine hesitancy; calls on the Commission to continue to reinforce its support for national vaccination efforts aimed at increasing coverage;

20.  Stresses that increased transparency in the process of evaluating vaccines and their adjuvants, and the funding of independent research programmes on their possible side- effects, would contribute to restoring confidence in vaccination;

21.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to strengthen the infrastructure for data collection for purposes of tracking infectious disease patterns and the real-life impact of vaccines, so as to support the delivery of immunisation programmes;

22.  Is concerned at the wide variation in the vaccines that are recommended, provided and/or mandated by different Member States; is also concerned that this variation in vaccination coverage exacerbates health inequalities between Member States and undermines efforts to reduce and eliminate preventable diseases;

23.  Condemns the spread of unreliable, misleading and unscientific information on vaccination, aggravated by media controversies, media sensationalism and poor journalism; calls on the Member States and the Commission to take effective steps against the spread of such misinformation, to further develop awareness and information campaigns aimed at restoring confidence in vaccines, and to enhance education and dialogue, especially for parents, including the creation of a European platform aimed at increasing vaccination coverage and preventing misleading information from proving effective;

24.  Emphasises the need to provide citizens with inclusive, factual and science-based information; calls on the Commission and the Member States to facilitate dialogue with stakeholders from civil society, grassroots movements, academia, the media and national health authorities in order to combat unreliable, misleading and unscientific information on vaccination;

25.  Is concerned at the limited budget allocated specifically to vaccination in some Member States, as well as the high prices and wide variations in price of some life-saving vaccines, which risk further exacerbating existing health inequalities; urges the Commission and the Member States to implement, as soon as possible, the measures called for in its resolution of 2 March 2017 on EU options for improving access to medicines(9), while stressing that vaccination is one of the most cost-effective public health interventions for healthcare systems in the long term;

26.  Is concerned that high vaccine prices disproportionately affect low‑ and middle‑income countries, including countries that are losing the donor support they previously received through Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance; calls on the Commission and the Member States to take measures to help facilitate access to vaccines in the countries concerned;

27.  Welcomes the encouraging progress made in the fight against human papilloma virus (HPV) diseases and cancers thanks to vaccination programmes against the HPV virus; calls on the Member States to further develop these programmes and explore ways to increase coverage rates and prevent other forms of cancer, for example by including boys in vaccination programmes;

28.  Believes providing vaccination screening and services for migrants and refugees entering EU countries is critical; calls on the Commission and the Member States to map the concrete vaccination activities which are being implemented for migrants and refugees entering EU countries, and to work energetically to address the gaps identified;

29.  Is concerned at vaccine shortages, and calls on the Commission and the Member States to develop solutions to increase vaccine supply and availability, including arrangements for stockpiling vaccines;

30.  Calls on the Member States and the Commission to promote awareness-raising campaigns among healthcare professionals who provide vaccinations, which underline their obligation, both moral and ethical, to protect public health by providing patients (or patients’ legal guardians) with sufficient information about vaccines so that they can make an informed decision;

31.  Points out that healthcare professionals are the cornerstone of public acceptance of vaccination and their recommendations are consistently cited as a primary reason for vaccination(10);

32.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to elaborate a fully comprehensive EU Action Plan raising the social problem of vaccine hesitancy, strengthening Member States’ commitments to immunisation as a priority public health measure, including priority and region-specific actions, and taking into account the varying circumstances and specific challenges faced by the Member States;

33.  Calls on the Commission to facilitate a more harmonised and better aligned schedule for vaccination across the EU, to share best practices, to explore, together with Member States, options for establishing an EU platform for the monitoring of the safety and effectiveness of vaccines, to ensure even coverage across Europe, to reduce health inequalities and to help boost trust and confidence in vaccination programmes and vaccines; calls on the Commission to establish targeted vaccination initiatives, such as a ‘European influenza vaccination day’, which could be used each year to launch the vaccination campaign in line with the 75 % coverage target laid down in the Council recommendations on seasonal influenza;

34.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to adopt concrete ‘One Health’ measures to increase vaccination rates in both humans and, where necessary, animals by means of financial and policy incentives, and thus to combat infectious diseases and also antibiotic resistance more cost-effectively, inter alia in the context of the future common agricultural policy beyond 2020;

35.  Calls on the Member States to provide data on vaccination and vaccine-preventable diseases punctually to the Commission, the ECDC and the WHO;

36.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, , the World Health Organisation and the governments of the Member States.

(1) OJ C 202, 8.7.2011, p. 4.
(2) OJ C 438, 6.12.2014, p. 3.
(3) OJ L 348, 29.12.2009, p. 71.
(4) Larson, Heidi J. et al. (2016), ‘The State of Vaccine Confidence 2016: Global Insights Through a 67-Country Survey’, EBioMedicine; Volume 12, 2016, pp. 295‑301.
(5) Council on Foreign Relations, ‘Vaccine-Preventable Outbreak Maps’, 2015.
(6) See Action plan, p. 10.
(7) See Action Plan, p. 12.
(8) Regulation (EU) No 536/2014 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 April 2014 on clinical trials on medicinal products for human use, and repealing Directive 2001/20/EC (OJ L 158, 27.5.2014, p. 1).
(9) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0061.
(10) Leask J., Kinnersley P., Jackson C., Cheater F., Bedford H., Rowles G., ‘Communicating with parents about vaccination: a framework for health professionals’, BMC Pediatrics, 2012, Volume 12, pp.12-154.


Implementation of the European Protection Order Directive
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European Parliament resolution of 19 April 2018 on the implementation of Directive 2011/99/EU on the European Protection Order (2016/2329(INI))
P8_TA(2018)0189A8-0065/2018

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to Articles 2 and 3 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU) and Articles 8, 10, 18, 19, 21, 79 and 82 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU),

–  having regard to Articles 3, 6, 20, 21, 23, 24, 41, 47 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union,

–  having regard to the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECHR),

–  having regard to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1948,

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

–  having regard to the United Nations Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women, adopted on 20 December 1993,

–  having regard to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, adopted in New York on 20 November 1989,

–  having regard to the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action adopted by the Fourth World Conference on Women on 15 September 1995, and to the subsequent outcome documents adopted at the United Nations Beijing +5 (2000), Beijing +10 (2005), Beijing +15 (2010) and Beijing +20 (2015) special sessions,

–  having regard to the General Comment adopted on 26 August 2016 by the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities on Article 6 (‘Women and Girls with Disabilities’) of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities,

–  having regard to the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (Istanbul Convention), and to the Council Decisions (EU) 2017/865(1) and (EU) 2017/866(2) of 11 May 2017 on the signing, on behalf of the European Union, of the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence,

–  having regard to the signing of the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (Istanbul Convention) by all Member States,

–  having regard to its resolution of 12 September 2017 on the proposal for a Council decision on the conclusion, by the European Union, of the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence(3);

–  having regard to Directive 2012/29/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 October 2012 establishing minimum standards on the rights, support and protection of victims of crime, and replacing Council Framework Decision 2001/220/JHA(4),

–  having regard to Council Directive 2004/80/EC of 29 April 2004 relating to compensation to crime victims(5),

–  having regard to Directive 2011/36/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 5 April 2011 on preventing and combating trafficking in human beings and protecting its victims, and replacing Council Framework Decision 2002/629/JHA(6), and to Directive 2011/93/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 13 December 2011 on combating the sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children and child pornography, and replacing Council Framework Decision 2004/68/JHA(7),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 19 June 2012 entitled ‘EU Strategy towards the Eradication of Trafficking in Human Beings, 2012-2016’ (COM(2012)0286),

–  having regard to Directive 2011/99/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 13 December 2011 on the European Protection Order(8) (‘EPO’),

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 606/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 June 2013 on mutual recognition of protection measures in civil matters(9),

–  having regard to Council Framework Decision 2008/947/JHA of 27 November 2008 on the application of the principle of mutual recognition to judgments and probation decisions with a view to the supervision of probation measures and alternative sanctions(10),

–  having regard to Council Framework Decision 2009/829/JHA of 23 October 2009 on the application, between Member States of the European Union, of the principle of mutual recognition to decisions on supervision measures as an alternative to provisional detention(11),

–  having regard to Council Framework Decision 2008/977/JHA of 27 November 2008 on the protection of personal data processed in the framework of police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters(12),

–  having regard to the Resolution of the Council of 10 June 2011 on a Roadmap for strengthening the rights and protection of victims, in particular in criminal proceedings(13),

–  having regard to the Stockholm Programme – An open and secure Europe serving and protecting citizens(14),

–  having regard to the Rights, Equality and Citizenship Programme 2014-2020,

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

–  having regard to the report of the European Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) entitled ‘Violence against women – an EU-wide survey’,

–  having regard to its resolution of 26 November 2009 on the elimination of violence against women(15),

–  having regard to its resolution of 10 February 2010 on equality between women and men in the European Union – 2009(16),

–  having regard to its resolution of 25 February 2014 with recommendations to the Commission on combating Violence Against Women(17),

–  having regard to its resolution of 9 June 2015 on the EU Strategy for equality between women and men post 2015(18),

–  having regard to the European Parliamentary Research Service’s European Implementation Assessment (PE603.272) of Directive 2011/99/EU produced by the Ex-Post Evaluation Unit,

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

–  having regard to the joint deliberations of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs and the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality under Rule 55 of the Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs and the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality (A8-0065/2018),

A.  whereas any forms of violence against a human being are a direct violation of their human dignity, which is the very basis of all fundamental human rights and therefore must be respected and protected; whereas violence against women is a brutal form of discrimination and a human and fundamental rights violation;

B.  whereas victims of violence and abuse are at risk of being subjected to secondary and repeated victimisation, retaliation and intimidation; whereas, therefore, providing them with the necessary protection, including across borders, depends to a great extent on the awareness of victims, society at large and all practitioners who come into contact with them, including relevant actors such as shelters;

C.  whereas the lack of provision of appropriate protection of a human being against gender-based violence has a detrimental effect on society as a whole;

D.  whereas one of the most important security aspects of every society is the protection of the personal integrity and freedom of every individual; whereas the European Agenda on Security should include the safeguarding of personal safety and the protection of all individuals from gender-based violence as priorities;

E.  whereas violence and physical, psychological and sexual abuse disproportionately affect women(19); whereas one in three women in the EU has experienced physical and/or sexual violence since the age of 15; whereas the extent and severity of violence against women are often disregarded and trivialised in some Member States and there is still a worrying widespread tendency to blame the victims; whereas only about a third of women who are physically or sexually abused by their partners contact the authorities;

F.  whereas ensuring gender equality in all policy areas is a fundamental principle of the European Union and an essential element in combating gender-based violence;

G.  whereas the Istanbul Convention, which has been signed but not ratified by the EU and all Member States(20), stipulates that all of its provisions, in particular measures to protect the rights of victims, shall be secured without discrimination on any ground, and explicitly calls on its signatories to recognise stalking as a criminal offence; whereas the ratification and full implementation of the Istanbul Convention will help overcome the challenges raised by the EPO by providing a coherent European legal framework to prevent and combat violence against women;

H.  whereas, in order to reduce the estimated number of unreported cases of violence, Member States must put in place and reinforce early warning and protection instruments for women so that they can feel safe and able to report gender-based violence; whereas the considerably high number of unrecorded cases of gender-based violence could be linked to a lack of public resources; whereas the relevant authorities must have structures, such as shelters providing medical and forensic support, psychological counselling and legal assistance, that create a safe haven for women who are victims of gender-based violence;

I.  whereas freedom of movement in the EU entails that people frequently move around from one country to another; whereas the EPO is based on the need to safeguard victims’ rights and freedoms, and particularly to respect the right of victims and potential victims to enjoy freedom of movement and to ensure their continued protection when exercising that right;

J.  whereas preventing violence by investing in awareness-raising and information campaigns with effective media coverage, education and training of professionals are crucial elements in combating gender-based violence; whereas the Istanbul Convention obliges the parties to prevent gender-based violence and stereotypes through addressing the role of the media; whereas the general lack of awareness among victims benefiting from national protection measures of the existence of the EPO has a negative impact on its implementation; whereas awareness-raising campaigns and sensitisation programmes to combat the trivialisation of domestic and gender-based violence contribute to an increase in the willingness of victims to report abuse and request national and European protection orders, as well as building up their trust in the relevant authorities;

K.  whereas in 2010, when the EPO was proposed by the European Council, 118 000 women residing in the EU were covered by protection measures related to gender-based violence; whereas in 2011, it was estimated that an average of 1 180 individuals would need continuous cross-border protection measures in the EU;

L.  whereas NGOs often play a vital role in many Member States in supporting victims;

M.  whereas EPOs are instruments of mutual recognition and cooperation, which can neither function correctly nor safeguard victims until fully implemented by all Member States;

N.  whereas, particularly in cases of violence, some Member States issue protection measures on the basis of criminal proceedings, while others issue protection orders based on civil proceedings;

O.  whereas a wide variety of protection orders exist across the EU Member States, and due to the different judicial systems in the Member States, the implementation of EPOs faces many difficulties and could consequently undermine the proper application of EPOs for victims and hamper the number of EPOs issued;

P.  whereas the majority of Member States have no registry system to collect data on EPOs, nor is there a European central registry system to collect all relevant EU data; whereas insufficient data make it hard to assess the implementation of the EPO and to address shortcomings in legislation or implementation;

Q.  whereas the EPO is applicable to victims of all types of crime, including victims of terrorism, human trafficking, gender-based violence and organised crime; whereas people in vulnerable situations who have fallen victim to crime need to be treated with particular consideration when applying for an EPO;

R.  whereas there is a strong link between the functioning of the EPO and the minimum standards on the rights, support and protection of victims of crime established through Directive 2012/29/EU;

1.  Calls on the Member States to clearly condemn and to commit themselves to eradicating all forms of gender-based violence and violence against women, and to ensure zero tolerance of these forms of violence;

2.  Calls on the Member States and the Commission to mainstream gender in all policies, particularly those where there may be a link with raising awareness about and detecting violence against women, and protecting and safeguarding the integrity of victims;

General assessment of the implementation of the directive, and recommendations to improve the state of implementation and the functioning of the EPO

3.  Acknowledges that all Member States, which are bound by the EPO Directive, have notified the Commission of its transposition into national law;

4.  Is aware of the positive effect the establishment of the Area of Freedom, Security and Justice may have on the cross-border protection of victims; considers that the EPO has the potential to be an effective instrument to protect victims in a modern world characterised by high mobility and a lack of internal borders; notes with concern, however, that since the transposition of the EPO Directive only seven EPOs have been identified across the Member States, although thousands of national protection orders have been requested and issued in the Member States in recent years(21);

5.  Deplores that the Commission did not submit a report to Parliament and Council on the application of the EPO Directive by 11 January 2016; calls on the Commission to meet its reporting obligations as set out in the directive and to include in its report a mapping of national protection measures, an overview of training activities, an analysis of the compliance by Member States with the right of victims to free legal aid, including information on whether any costs are borne by the victims in relation to a protection order, and a mapping of awareness-raising campaigns taking place in Member States;

6.  Recalls the obligation for the executing state to recognise the EPO with the same priority as the issuing state in spite of the various complexities and legal challenges involved;

7.  Is concerned that there is a significant gap between coordination and communication among the Member States when an EPO is executed; calls on the Member States to improve and jointly enhance cooperation and communication in relation to the EPO as this would set in motion much more efficient procedures and simultaneous cross-border action among the Member States;

8.  Insists that the collection of statistical data needs to be improved in order to assess the extent of the problem and the results of action to reduce gender-based violence; calls on the Member States to standardise and digitalise EPO forms and procedures and to set up a National Registry System of EPOs with the aim of collecting data, as well as to improve the exchange of information with the Commission and the Member States; calls on the Member States to collect and to communicate regularly to the Commission gender-disaggregated data and data related to the number of EPOs requested, issued and enforced, as well as information on the types of crimes;

9.  Calls on the Commission to set up a European Registry System to collect information on EPOs from all Member States;

10.  Call for one standard form, valid in both criminal and civil cases and in all Member States, to be designed and used in applying for and recognising protection orders; asks that a digital management system also be employed to facilitate coordination, standardise data collected and speed up both management of the orders and the preparation of operational statistics at EU level;

11.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to publish the full list of competent authorities responsible for issuing and recognising EPOs and of central authorities transmitting and receiving EPOs in the Member States, and to make the list easily accessible to enable protected persons and victim support organisations to request EPOs or to settle related issues; calls on the Member States to strengthen their national and local institutions and competent authorities to enhance the accessibility and applicability of the EPO in a manner conducive to EPOs being issued;

12.  Calls on the Commission to foster all forms of exchange of good practices and cooperation between Member States as well as between Member States and civil society in order to safeguard the appropriate functioning of EPOs;

13.  Stresses that victims of crime who have or would consider obtaining a national protection order should be automatically and properly informed and reminded by a specific responsible authority, both orally and in writing, of the possibility of requesting an EPO during criminal proceedings; stresses that the protected person should not have to bear financial costs when he or she requests the issuing of an EPO;

14.  Calls on the Member States to conduct an individual assessment, adopting a gender-sensitive approach, in relation to the provision of assistance and support measures when requesting EPOs;

15.  Deplores the lack of access to justice and legal aid for victims of all types of crime in some Member States which results in poor information provided to the victim of the possibility of requesting an EPO; considers that the provision of free legal aid, administrative support and adequate information on the EPO to protected persons should be ensured by Member States as this is crucial for the use and effectiveness of the instrument, both at the stage of issuing and of enforcement; calls on Member States to increase the resources devoted to monitoring and preventing violence against women in rural areas;

16.  Encourages the Member States to notify protected persons of additional social assistance resources available in the host state, such as family allowances, accommodation, etc., as these measures lie outside the scope of the EPO;

17.  Stresses that as part of the protection and complementary social work, special attention should be paid to child victims and to the children of victims of criminal acts, especially when at risk of sexual assault;

18.  Deplores that translation and interpretation services into a language the victim understands are not guaranteed by the Member States before, during and after the issuing of an EPO;

19.  Stresses that victims should always have the right to be heard during EPO procedures; underlines that translation and interpretation services need to be available and free of charge during the entire EPO process; highlights, therefore, that all relevant documents should be translated into a language understood by the victim;

20.  Deplores the shortage of special measures implemented by the Member States for victims in vulnerable situations or victims with specific needs; considers that cuts in public spending often adversely affect the resources available for these special measures; calls, therefore, on the Member States, in cooperation with the Commission and relevant organisations working in victim protection, to adopt special guidelines and measures that will facilitate the EPO for victims in vulnerable situations or victims with specific needs;

21.  Highlights that, due to the increasing and dangerous trend of trafficking in human beings, the European Protection Order can be a very beneficial instrument for victims of human trafficking; calls on the Commission, therefore, to incorporate the EPO within an EU strategy to combat human trafficking;

22.  Considers that, in order to fulfil its potential and to ensure equivalent protection measures in both the issuing and executing state, the issuance of the protection order must be as fast, effective, efficient and automatic as possible and involve minimum bureaucracy; calls on the Commission and the Member States to fix a clear and short timeframe of two weeks for the competent authorities of the Member States when issuing and notifying about EPOs in order to avoid increasing the uncertainty of protected persons and the pressure they are under, and, for the sake of achieving the same goal, to instruct the competent authorities to provide sufficient information to the victims during the process of taking a decision on their EPO requests, including notifying them about any incidents that appear during this procedure; urges the Member States, in this context, to allocate sufficient resources to authorities working with EPOs in order to facilitate an efficient system that takes into account the situation of the victim;

23.  Calls on the Member States to take due account of the interest of the protected person and to be a safe haven for people reporting violence by fully respecting the obligation not to inform the person causing danger of the location and other details concerning the protected person – unless strictly necessary in order to meet the objectives of the protection order; stresses that whenever the situation requires that the perpetrator be informed of any details regarding the EPO, the victim must be informed of that decision;

24.  Calls on the Member States to envisage special procedures to facilitate the issuance of EPOs to protect family members living with a victim who is already protected by an EPO;

25.  Highlights the increasing efficiency of new technologies such as GPS monitoring systems and smartphone applications that trigger an alarm when danger is imminent as a means of improving the efficiency and adaptability of EPOs both within the issuing and the executing state; is worried that only a limited number of Member States use such new technologies;

26.  Highlights the importance of monitoring EPOs in the executing state in relation to the threat to which the victim is exposed in order to determine if the protection measures adopted have been properly implemented and if they need to be revised;

27.  Calls on the Commission to monitor the implementation of this directive and launch without delay infringement proceedings against all Member States that breach it;

28.  Encourages, in line with the often repeated views of associations for victims of gender violence, the testing of procedures that change the traditional approach to how protection is viewed in most Member States; stresses that, rather than focusing on measures for victims, as is often the case, risk-avoidance techniques ought to include prevention, surveillance, control and monitoring of the persons inflicting harm, and that the preventive measures employed ought to include, as a priority, mandatory re-education for perpetrators;

29.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to carry out a thorough examination of possible ways of improving EPO-related legislation and its effective implementation in all EU Member States and practical support in order to guarantee the rights to international protection and to assistance and support enjoyed by victims of violence protected at national level;

30.  Calls on EU agencies such as the FRA and the European Institute for Gender Equality to monitor the implementation of the directive regularly;

31.  Calls on the Commission to launch a civil society monitoring and reporting call in order to improve the working of the EPO instrument in the Member States, making EU funds available to NGOs to this end;

32.  Calls on the Commission to launch calls promoting research into the use of national and European protection orders and to coordinate programmes to initiate awareness-raising campaigns within the Member States to inform victims of crime of the possibility of applying for an EPO and about cross-border protection measures;

33.  Calls on the Member States to step up their work with NGOs and to provide mandatory human rights-based, service-oriented, practical and intersectional training courses for all public officials working with victims on a professional basis in relation to the EPO and who are key to the correct implementation of this directive; stresses that specific and regular training and courses on the EPOs for the police, the personnel of the competent national authorities and for legal practitioners, social workers, associations and NGOs dealing with victims of violence should be established in all Member States; calls for staff working with cases of gender-based violence to receive adequate training on considering the specific needs of women who are victims of violence and to be allocated sufficient resources in order to prioritise gender-based violence;

34.  Calls on the Member States, given the deeply rooted nature of misogyny and sexism in our societies and the increasing exposure of children and teenagers to violence online, to include education on gender equality and non-violence on the primary and secondary school curricula by engaging pupils in discussions and by making use of all possible teaching opportunities;

35.  Highlights that new means of communication, via digital platforms for example, are being used as a new form of gender-based violence that also includes threats and harassment; calls therefore on the Member States to include these aspects when issuing and/or executing an EPO;

General recommendations relating to gender-based violence

36.  Calls on the Commission to include the protection of all citizens, especially those in the most vulnerable situations, in the European Agenda on Security with a focus on the victims of crimes such as trafficking in human beings or gender-based violence, including victims of terrorism, who also need special attention, support and social recognition;

37.  Calls on the Commission to set up campaigns to encourage women to report any forms of violence on the basis of gender, so that they may be protected and so that the accuracy of data on gender-based violence can be improved;

38.  Stresses that, in line with the assessment report drawn up by Parliament’s EPRS, the first reason for the differing levels of use of national and European protection orders is that victims and many professionals are unaware of the possibilities the directive offers; calls, therefore, on the Member States to take full responsibility for their citizens and – with the involvement of relevant NGOs – to launch long-term awareness-raising and intersectional sensitising campaigns on the available protection instruments and their use, targeting a) the whole of society, b) potential victims, especially women with national protection orders in force, and c) professionals, such as law enforcement officers, officials in the judicial system and providers of legal aid and social and emergency services, who are the first to deal with victims; calls on the Commission, therefore, to provide funding to launch information programmes;

39.  Acknowledges the existence of the e-justice portal run by the Commission with contributions from Member States; welcomes the Commission’s initiative to extend the existing ‘victims’ corner’ within the e-justice portal and to include all relevant information concerning victims’ rights, including country-specific guidelines on reporting cases of violence; highlights the need to design the ‘victims’ corner’ as an easy-to-use, practical tool and information source which should be available in all official EU languages; encourages the Member States to put in place a user-friendly website dedicated to victims’ rights which would also include the EPO and a digital reporting platform to facilitate the identification of gender-based violence, and which could be easily accessible via the national justice information portals, for example;

40.  Urges the Member States to step up their work with NGOs protecting the victims of violence in order to design strategies featuring both proactive and reactive measures in relation to gender-based violence, the functioning of the EPO instrument and the necessary changes in legislation and support;

41.  Calls on the Commission to present a legal act to support Member States in the prevention and suppression of all forms of violence against women and girls and of gender-based violence;

42.  Calls on the Council to activate the passerelle clause by adopting a unanimous decision to identify violence against women and girls (and other forms of gender-based violence) as a criminal offence under Article 83(1) TFEU;

43.  Calls, as a matter of urgency, for action conducive to the progressive convergence of legislation on violent behaviour resulting in protection orders; stresses that attacks which target women in particular are a serious matter and should be punished as a crime in all Member States, and protection measures in cases of gender-based violence should also be issued by the courts;

For a coherent EU legal framework protecting victims

44.  Welcomes the signing, on 13 June 2017, of the EU’s accession to the Istanbul Convention, which follows a holistic, comprehensive and coordinated approach, placing the rights of the victim at the centre, and which should be fully connected with the EPO; calls on the EU to conclude a broad accession to the Convention to prevent violence against women, combat impunity and protect victims; underlines the importance of this instrument in overcoming one of the barriers to the application of EPOs, namely the lack of recognition of stalking as a criminal offence across all Member States; in line with its resolution of 12 September 2017 on EU accession to the Istanbul Convention, asks the Commission to designate an EU coordinator on Violence Against Women who would be responsible for the coordination, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of EU policies, instruments and measures to prevent and combat all forms of violence against women and girls and to act as representative of the EU on the Committee of the Parties to the Convention;

45.  Calls on all Member States that have not yet done so to ratify and fully enforce the Istanbul Convention and to allocate adequate financial and human resources to preventing and combating violence against women and gender-based violence, including by empowering women and girls, protecting victims and enabling them to be awarded compensation;

46.  Calls on the Member States to ensure appropriate training, procedures and guidelines for all professionals dealing with the victims of all acts of violence covered by the scope of the Istanbul Convention in order to avoid discrimination or re-victimisation during judicial, medical and police proceedings;

47.  Welcomes the obligation laid down by the Istanbul Convention to set up state-wide 24/7 telephone helplines free of charge to provide advice to callers in relation to all forms of violence covered by the scope of the Convention; encourages the Member States to use this tool in relevant cases and to provide victims with information related to the EPO;

48.  Underlines that the judicial and practical flaws in the implementation of this directive can be counteracted by the proper interplay and coordination between the various EU victim-protection instruments, such as the Framework Decision 2009/829/JHA on supervision measures as an alternative to provisional detention and the Framework Decision on probation measures, Regulation (EU) No 606/2013 on mutual recognition of protection measures in civil matters and Directive 2012/29/EU of 25 October 2012 establishing minimum standards on the rights, support and protection of victims of crime, which has established the right to receive information and to receive interpretation services and translation of information free of charge, and which adopts an all-encompassing approach to victims with special needs, including victims of gender-based violence;

49.  Calls upon the Member States to inform victims about other protection measures in case the executing state ceases to come under the scope of this directive;

50.  Calls on the Commission to take action with a view to reviewing the existing instruments of legal protection for the victims of crime and establishing a coherent EU legal framework for it;

51.  Calls on the Commission to assess how this directive is applied in connection with the related instrument in civil matters, namely Regulation (EU) No 606/2013, and to propose guidelines on how these two legal EU instruments seeking to protect victims by recognising protection measures adopted under national civil or criminal legal proceedings could be more efficiently applied by Member States;

o
o   o

52.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, the EU Fundamental Rights Agency and the European Institute for Gender Equality.

(1) OJ L 131, 20.5.2017, p. 11.
(2) OJ L 131, 20.5.2017, p. 13.
(3) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0329.
(4) OJ L 315, 14.11.2012, p. 57.
(5) OJ L 261, 6.8.2004, p. 15.
(6) OJ L 101, 15.4.2011, p. 1.
(7) OJ L 335, 17.12.2011, p. 1.
(8) OJ L 338, 21.12.2011, p. 2.
(9) OJ L 181, 29.6.2013, p. 4.
(10) OJ L 337, 16.12.2008, p. 102.
(11) OJ L 294, 11.11.2009, p. 20.
(12) OJ L 350, 30.12.2008, p. 60.
(13) OJ C 187, 28.6.2011, p. 1.
(14) OJ C 115, 4.5.2010, p. 1.
(15) OJ C 285 E, 21.10.2010, p. 53.
(16) OJ C 341 E, 16.12.2010, p. 35.
(17) OJ C 285, 29.8.2017, p. 2.
(18) OJ C 407, 4.11.2016, p. 2.
(19) The FRA’s report entitled ‘Violence against women: an EU-wide survey. Main results report’ shows that one in three women (33 %) has experienced physical and/or sexual violence since the age of 15; one in five women (18 %) has experienced stalking and every second woman (55 %) has been confronted with one or more forms of sexual harassment. Given this, violence against women cannot be seen as a marginal issue that touches only on some women’s lives.
(20) https://www.coe.int/en/web/conventions/full-list/-/conventions/treaty/210/signatures?desktop=true
(21) The EPRS study on the ‘European Protection Order Directive 2011/99/EU – European Implementation Assessment’ reports that ‘it has been estimated that in 2010 over 100 000 women residing in the EU were covered by protection measures related to gender-based violence’.


The Implementation of the Bologna Process - state of play and follow-up
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European Parliament resolution of 19 April 2018 on the implementation of the Bologna Process – state of play and follow-up (2018/2571(RSP))
P8_TA(2018)0190B8-0190/2018

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to Article 14 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union,

–  having regard to its resolution of 13 March 2012 on the contribution of the European institutions to the consolidation and progress of the Bologna Process(1),

–  having regard to the Council conclusions of 25 and 26 November 2013 on the global dimension of European higher education(2),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 20 September 2011 entitled ‘Supporting growth and jobs – an agenda for the modernisation of Europe’s higher education systems’ (COM(2011)0567),

–  having regard to the Council conclusions of 28 and 29 November 2011 on the modernisation of higher education(3),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 20 November 2012 entitled ‘Rethinking Education: Investing in skills for better socio-economic outcomes’ (COM(2012)0669),

–  having regard to recommendation 2006/143/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 February 2006 on further European cooperation in quality assurance in higher education(4),

–  having regard to the Joint Declaration signed in Bologna on 19 June 1999 by the ministers of education of 29 European countries (Bologna Declaration),

–  having regard to its resolution of 28 April 2015 on follow-up on the implementation of the Bologna Process(5),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 14 November 2017 entitled ‘Strengthening European Identity through Education and Culture’ (COM(2017)0673),

–  having regard to the question to the Commission on the implementation of the Bologna Process – state of play and follow-up (O-000020/2018 – B8‑0014/2018),

–  having regard to the motion for a resolution of the Committee on Culture and Education,

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

A.  whereas the Bologna Process is an intergovernmental initiative with which countries aim to achieve with open and collaborative dialogue common goals through internationally agreed commitments, thus contributing to the construction of the European Higher Education Area (EHEA); whereas high-quality higher education is a key component in developing a broad and advanced, knowledge-based society, which ultimately contributes to building a stable, peaceful and tolerant community by ensuring equal opportunities and quality education that is accessible to all;

B.  whereas the Bologna Process has promoted mobility by enhancing the internationalisation of higher education and improving the compatibility and comparability of standards of different higher education systems, while respecting the principles of academic freedom and institutional autonomy and focusing on strengthening the quality of higher education and offering equal opportunities for citizens;

C.  whereas the EHEA was launched with the aim of setting up a three-cycle system (Bachelor’s, Master’s and Doctorate) and of making European higher education systems more comparable and more attractive worldwide;

D.  whereas education is one of the main pillars of our society and whereas higher education has an important role to play in fostering personal and skills development, boosting employability and competitiveness, strengthening civic engagement, active citizenship and intercultural understanding, promoting common values, and addressing the challenges of a rapidly changing world;

E.  whereas the Commission has launched a renewed EU agenda for higher education with a view to supporting higher education institutions and national authorities responsible for higher education; whereas other countries in the EHEA could be gradually involved in this process through consultations and exchanges of best practice;

F.  whereas the quest for an open and inclusive EHEA based on quality and mutual trust is the basis of the Bologna Process;

G.  whereas the Bologna Process and the EHEA include 48 countries, including many important neighbours and partners of the EU; whereas the Bologna Process strengthens the effectiveness of partnerships with non-EU countries in higher education and provides incentives for reform in education and other areas in the respective countries;

H.  whereas, taking into account the uneven progress in implementing the Bologna Process across the EHEA and difficulties in implementing agreed structural reforms in many cases, the increased and facilitated mobility of students and joint diplomas are the two great achievements of the Bologna Process so far;

I.  whereas in 2015 Belarus was admitted to the EHEA on the condition that it comply with the requirements laid down in the Belarus Roadmap for Higher Education Reform; whereas the Belarusian authorities failed to fulfil their obligations by the end of 2017 and should bring their reforms back on track;

1.  Calls on participating countries to increase political engagement and foster mutual cooperation in the implementation of commonly agreed goals throughout the EHEA, developing, where necessary, appropriate legislative frameworks in order to consolidate its development, strengthen its credibility and become a point of reference for academic excellence worldwide, while strengthening opportunities for mobility with a view to ensuring that the largest possible numbers of students are involved;

2.  Calls on participating countries to ensure transparent, accessible and equitable mechanisms for the allocation of mobility grants and allowances; calls for the EU and the Member States to increase their education budgets in order to guarantee that public higher education is free and accessible to all, with a view to fostering lifelong learning (LLL);

3.  Invites the Commission and participating countries to facilitate the recognition of academic study periods and credits gained abroad, as well as qualifications for academic and professional purposes and prior learning, and to develop quality assurance systems; insists that the Union, Member States and universities should establish arrangements for providing financial and administrative support to students, academics and staff with disadvantaged backgrounds through appropriate funding, including to take part in mobility schemes, and to further open up access to higher education by expanding lifelong learning opportunities at academic level, to encourage complementary forms of learning such as non-formal and informal education and to build more open learning pathways by removing existing barriers between different levels of education;

4.  Invites the relevant stakeholders and institutions to provide a solution to the problem of short cycles where a qualification exam for entrance to university is required for access and admission to a Bachelor’s degree programme;

5.  Calls on the EHEA countries to foster more inclusive mobility of students, teachers, researchers and administrative staff, as mobility contributes both to personal and professional development and to increased quality of learning, teaching, research and administration; advocates including mobility in education programmes and improving foreign language learning; calls on the Member States to provide adequate public funding and to make more efficient use of such funding to ensure that students and researchers have the necessary resources to study abroad, and that their social and economic background does not constitute a barrier;

6.  Highlights that the dissemination of knowledge, research and science across the EHEA countries is a key part of the EU strategy beyond 2020 and strongly contributes to fostering European citizenship;

7.  Invites the Commission to assess the implementation of the 2015 Yerevan Ministerial Conference goals regarding the quality of teaching and learning and fostering the employability of graduates throughout their working lives;

8.  Stresses the importance of improving the social dimension of higher education; calls on the EHEA countries to implement the EHEA social dimension strategy effectively and to provide concrete opportunities for access to and completion of higher education for students with disabilities and from disadvantaged backgrounds;

9.  Calls on the EHEA countries to ensure that consultations and critical assessments of their higher education institutions are carried out at international level, and to work towards a better coordinated approach to implement commonly agreed reforms to achieve the goals of the Bologna Process, as well as effective recognition of non-formal education and informal learning to enhance students’ employability and civic engagement;

10.  Underlines the need for increased access for underrepresented groups, specifically by setting defined quantitative objectives related to access and completion rates; stresses the importance of guaranteeing and promoting access for refugees and asylum seekers to all institutions in the EHEA, and recalls that the ‘attractiveness’ of higher education in Europe also lies in its capacity to cater for students without any discrimination;

11.  Calls on the Commission to monitor the progress of the social dimension goals of the Bologna Process, as well as wider inclusiveness goals;

12.  Calls for the Ministerial Conference that will take place this year in Paris to report on the implementation of the goal set by the last Ministerial Conference (Yerevan, May 2015) to complete the formation of the EHEA;

13.  Requests that the next 2018 EHEA Ministerial Conference in Paris provide a critical assessment of the Bologna Process with a view to a) identifying remaining obstacles, and potential solutions, and ensuring proper implementation of commitments, b) supporting countries lagging behind in implementing the key commitments of the Bologna Process through improved capacity-building, and developing specific mechanisms and procedures for addressing cases of non-compliance, and c) exploring new EHEA goals beyond 2020 and enhancing dialogue among governments, higher education institutions and research institutes, thus contributing to the construction of a more integrated, high-quality, inclusive, attractive and competitive EHEA;

14.  Calls on the EHEA countries to keep Belarus on the EHEA agenda; calls on the Commission to provide resources for the operations required for the implementation of the Belarus Roadmap for Higher Education Reform;

15.  Calls on the Bologna Follow-Up Group Secretariat to monitor the reports that the same guidelines were implemented differently in different EHEA countries and that different backgrounds and levels of resources led to significant differences among EHEA institutions;

16.  Underlines the importance of strengthening and creating opportunities for social debate on the higher education sector and the challenges faced by stakeholders; emphasises the importance of fostering participation of students, researchers, teachers and non-teaching staff in higher education governance;

17.  Stresses the need to increase public funding in education and to respect the EU headline target of 3 % of Union GDP in R&D by 2020;

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

(1) OJ C 251 E, 31.8.2013, p. 24.
(2) OJ C 28, 31.1.2014, p. 2.
(3) OJ C 372, 20.12.2011, p. 36.
(4) OJ L 64, 4.3.2006, p. 60.
(5) OJ C 346, 21.9.2016, p. 2.

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