Index 
Texts adopted
Thursday, 3 May 2018 - BrusselsFinal edition
Protocol to the EU-Uzbekistan Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (accession of Croatia) ***
 EU-Korea Framework Agreement (accession of Croatia) ***
 Subjecting the new psychoactive substance ADB-CHMINACA to control measures *
 Subjecting the new psychoactive substance CUMYL-4CN-BINACA to control measures *
 Mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund: application EGF/2017/010 BE/Caterpillar
 Annual report 2016 on the protection of EU’s financial interests – Fight against fraud
 Genetically modified sugar beet H7-1 (KM-ØØØH71-4)
 Annual report on the control of the financial activities of the European Investment Bank for 2016
 Presidential elections in Venezuela
 Cohesion policy and thematic objective ‘promoting sustainable transport and removing bottlenecks in key network infrastructures’
 Protection of children in migration
 A global ban on animal testing for cosmetics
 Current situation and future prospects for the sheep and goat sectors in the EU
 Media pluralism and media freedom in the European Union

Protocol to the EU-Uzbekistan Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (accession of Croatia) ***
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European Parliament legislative resolution of 3 May 2018 on the draft Council decision on the conclusion, on behalf of the Union and of the Member States, of the Protocol to the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement establishing a partnership between the European Communities and their Member States, of the one part, and the Republic of Uzbekistan, of the other part, to take account of the accession of the Republic of Croatia to the European Union (09021/2017 – C8-0243/2017 – 2017/0083(NLE))
P8_TA(2018)0191A8-0104/2018

(Consent)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the draft Council decision (09021/2017),

–  having regard to the draft Protocol to the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement establishing a partnership between the European Communities and their Member States, of the one part, and the Republic of Uzbekistan, of the other part, to take account of the accession of the Republic of Croatia to the European Union (09079/2017),

–  having regard to the request for consent submitted by the Council in accordance with Article 91, Article 100(2), Articles 207 and 209, and Article 218(6), second subparagraph, point (a) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (C8-0243/2017),

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

–  having regard to the recommendation of the Committee on Foreign Affairs (A8-0104/2018),

1.  Gives its consent to conclusion of the Protocol;

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


EU-Korea Framework Agreement (accession of Croatia) ***
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European Parliament legislative resolution of 3 May 2018 on the draft Council decision on the conclusion, on behalf of the European Union and its Member States, of a Protocol to the Framework Agreement between the European Union and its Member States, on the one part, and the Republic of Korea, on the other part, to take account of the accession of the Republic of Croatia to the European Union (07817/2016 – C8-0218/2017 – 2015/0138(NLE))
P8_TA(2018)0192A8-0120/2018

(Consent)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the draft Council decision (07817/2016),

–  having regard to the draft Protocol to the Framework Agreement between the European Union and its Member States, on the one part, and the Republic of Korea, on the other part, to take account of the accession of the Republic of Croatia to the European Union (07730/2016),

–  having regard to the request for consent submitted by the Council in accordance with Articles 207 and 212, and Article 218(6), second subparagraph, point (a) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (C8-0218/2017),

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

–  having regard to the recommendation of the Committee on Foreign Affairs (A8-0120/2018),

1.  Gives its consent to conclusion of the Protocol;

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


Subjecting the new psychoactive substance ADB-CHMINACA to control measures *
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European Parliament legislative resolution of 3 May 2018 on the draft Council implementing decision on subjecting the new psychoactive substance N-(1-amino-3,3-dimethyl-1-oxobutan-2-yl)-1-(cyclohexylmethyl)-1H-indazole-3-carboxamide (ADB-CHMINACA) to control measures (05387/2018 – C8-0028/2018 – 2017/0340(NLE))
P8_TA(2018)0193A8-0133/2018

(Consultation)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Council draft (05387/2018),

–  having regard to Article 39(1) of the Treaty on European Union, as amended by the Treaty of Amsterdam, and Article 9 of Protocol No 36 on transitional provisions, pursuant to which the Council consulted Parliament (C8‑0028/2018),

–  having regard to Council Decision 2005/387/JHA of 10 May 2005 on the information exchange, risk-assessment and control of new psychoactive substances(1), and in particular Article 8(3) thereof,

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (A8-0133/2018),

1.  Approves the Council draft;

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 and the Commission.

(1) OJ L 127, 20.5.2005, p. 32.


Subjecting the new psychoactive substance CUMYL-4CN-BINACA to control measures *
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European Parliament legislative resolution of 3 May 2018 on the draft Council implementing decision on subjecting the new psychoactive substance 1-(4-cyanobutyl)-N-(2-phenylpropan-2-yl)-1H-indazole-3-carboxamide (CUMYL-4CN-BINACA) to control measures (05392/2018 – C8-0025/2018 – 2017/0344(NLE))
P8_TA(2018)0194A8-0134/2018

(Consultation)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Council draft (05392/2018),

–  having regard to Article 39(1) of the Treaty on European Union, as amended by the Treaty of Amsterdam, and Article 9 of Protocol No 36 on transitional provisions, pursuant to which the Council consulted Parliament (C8‑0025/2018),

–  having regard to Council Decision 2005/387/JHA of 10 May 2005 on the information exchange, risk-assessment and control of new psychoactive substances(1), and in particular Article 8(3) thereof,

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (A8-0134/2018),

1.  Approves the Council draft;

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 and the Commission.

(1) OJ L 127, 20.5.2005, p. 32.


Mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund: application EGF/2017/010 BE/Caterpillar
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Resolution
Annex
European Parliament resolution of 3 May 2018 on the proposal for a decision of the European Parliament and of the Council on the mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (application from Belgium – EGF/2017/010 BE/Caterpillar) (COM(2018)0156 – C8-0125/2018 – 2018/2043(BUD))
P8_TA(2018)0195A8-0148/2018

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Commission proposal to the European Parliament and the Council (COM(2018)0156 – C8‑0125/2018),

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

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

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

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

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

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgets (A8-0148/2018),

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

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

C.  whereas Belgium submitted application EGF/2017/010 BE/Caterpillar for a financial contribution from the EGF, following 2 287 redundancies in the economic sector classified under NACE Rev. 2 division 28 (Manufacture of machinery and equipment) in the NUTS level 2 Hainaut region (BE32) in Belgium;

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

1.  Agrees with the Commission that the conditions set out in Article 4(1) of the EGF Regulation are met and that Belgium is entitled to a financial contribution of EUR 4 621 616 under that Regulation, which represents 60 % of the total cost of EUR 7 702 694;

2.  Notes that the Belgian authorities submitted the application on 18 December 2017 and that, following the provision of additional information by Belgium, the Commission finalised its assessment on 23 March 2018 and notified it to Parliament on the same day;

3.  Recalls that this is the second application from Belgium for a financial contribution from the EGF in relation to redundancies at Caterpillar, following application EGF/2014/011 BE/Caterpillar in July 2014 and a positive decision thereon(4); notes that there is no overlap between the workers supported through that case and the current application;

4.  Notes that Belgium argues that the redundancies are linked to major structural changes in world trade patterns due to globalisation, to worldwide competition in the construction and mining machinery sectors, and to the consequent decrease in the Caterpillar Group’s share in the machinery market; notes that the redundancies are related to the restructuring and cost-cutting global plan announced by Caterpillar in September 2015;

5.  Expresses concern that, as a result of less restrictive environmental regulation and lower labour costs, firms operating in third countries may be more competitive than those operating in the Union;

6.  Is aware of the decrease in production of the mining sector in Europe and the dramatic decline in EU-28 exports in that sector since 2014, the increase in the European steel price and the high production costs for machines resulting therefrom, in particular compared to China; regrets, however, that the Caterpillar Group has decided to allocate the volumes produced in the Gosselies plant to other production units in France (Grenoble) and to other plants outside Europe, including China and South Korea; which resulted in an abrupt shut down of the Gosselies site and the making redundant of 2 300 workers, plunging thousands of families into a social and human drama even though the Gosselies site was profitable, in particular following the investments made in previous years;

7.  Deplores that the workers of the Gosselies site were informed of the closure of the site by a simple communiqué; deplores the fact that this brutal decision was not made in consultation with the local and regional authorities; deplores the total lack of information and respect for workers and union representatives, who received no information prior to the closure of the company; insists, therefore, on the importance of strengthening the supply of information to and consultation with workers in the Union;

8.  Insists on the mitigation of the socio-economic consequences for the Charleroi region and the making sustained efforts for its economic recovery, in particular with the help of the European Structural and Investment Funds;

9.  Recalls that the redundancies in Caterpillar are expected to have a significant adverse effect on the local economy; stresses the impact of that decision on many workers in suppliers and downstream producers;

10.  Notes that the application relates to 2 287 workers made redundant at Caterpillar and its five suppliers, the majority of whom are between 30 and 54 years of age; points also to the fact that more than 11 % of the redundant workers are between 55 and 64 years of age with skills specific to the manufacturing sector; underlines that the job seekers in Charleroi are mostly low-skilled (50,6 % do not have an upper secondary education) and 40 % are long-term unemployed (more than 24 months); deplores the fact that, following those redundancies, the unemployment rate is expected to rise by 6,1 % in the region of Hainaut, according to the Public Employment Service of Wallonia (FOREM); in light of thas fact, acknowledges the importance of active labour market measures co-funded by the EGF for improving the chances of reintegration in the labour market of these groups;

11.  Welcomes the fact that personalised services co-financed by the EGF will also be provided to up to 300 young people under the age of 30 not in employment, education or training (NEETs);

12.  Notes that Belgium is planning five types of actions for the redundant workers and NEETs covered by this application: (i) individual job search assistance, case management and general information services, (ii) training and re-training, (iii) promotion of entrepreneurship, (iv) contribution to business start up, (v) allowances; stresses that it must be ensured that the financial help is effective and focused;

13.  Welcomes the decision to provide training courses designed to match the development priorities of Charleroi set out in the CATCH plan(5);

14.  Is content that the income support measures will account for 13,68 % of the overall package of personalised measures, well below the maximum 35 % set out in the EGF Regulation, and that those measures are conditional on the active participation of the targeted beneficiaries in job-search or training activities;

15.  Welcomes the fact that the coordinated package of personalised services was drawn up in consultation with a working group, which included the Public Employment Service for Wallonia, the investment fund SOGEPA, the representatives of the trade unions and other social partners; calls on the Belgian and Walloon authorities to actively participate in the process;

16.  Recalls its resolution of 5 October 2016 on the need for a European reindustrialisation policy in the light of the recent Caterpillar and Alstom cases, voted by a large majority, which calls for Europe to deploy a genuine industrial policy based in particular on research and development and innovation, but also emphasises the importance of protecting Union industry from unfair commercial practices in third countries;

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

18.  Reiterates that assistance from the EGF must not replace actions which are the responsibility of companies, by virtue of national law or collective agreements, or measures for restructuring companies or sectors;

19.  Stresses that as of 15 March 2018, only 591 of the dismissed workers had found a job; insists, therefore, that an analysis be carried out at the end of the EGF intervention period in order to assess whether further reintegration aid should be deployed; regrets that the previous decision on the mobilisation of the EGF concerning this company (EGF/2014/011) led to a relatively low percentage of beneficiaries becoming reemployed; hopes that the current proposal will take account of this experience;

20.  Recalls that in line with Article 7 of the EGF Regulation, the design of the coordinated package of personalised services should anticipate future labour market perspectives and required skills and should be compatible with the shift towards a resource-efficient and sustainable economy;

21.  Calls on the Commission to urge national authorities to provide more details, in future proposals, on the sectors which have growth prospects and are therefore likely to hire people, as well as to gather substantiated data on the impact of the EGF funding, including on the quality of jobs and the reintegration rate achieved through the EGF;

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

23.  Approves the decision annexed to this resolution;

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

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

ANNEX

DECISION OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL

on the mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund following an application from Belgium – EGF/2017/010 BE/Caterpillar

(The text of this annex is not reproduced here since it corresponds to the final act, Decision (EU) 2018/847.)

(1) OJ L 347, 20.12.2013, p. 855.
(2) OJ L 347, 20.12.2013, p. 884.
(3) OJ C 373, 20.12.2013, p. 1.
(4) Decision (EU) 2015/471 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 March 2015 on the mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (application EGF/2014/011 BE/Caterpillar, from Belgium) (OJ L 76, 20.3.2015, p. 58).
(5) Plan Catalysts for Charleroi (CATCH), Accélérer la Croissance de l'Emploi dans la Région de Charleroi, September 2017, http://www.catch-charleroi.be/.


Annual report 2016 on the protection of EU’s financial interests – Fight against fraud
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European Parliament resolution of 3 May 2018 on the Annual Report 2016 on the protection of the EU’s financial interests – Fight against fraud (2017/2216(INI))
P8_TA(2018)0196A8-0135/2018

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to Article 325(5) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU),

–  having regard to Protocol No 1 on the role of national parliaments in the European Union,

–  having regard to Protocol No 2 on the application of the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality,

–  having regard to its resolutions on previous annual reports of the Commission and of the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF),

–  having regard to the Commission report of 20 July 2017 entitled ‘Protection of the European Union’s financial interests – Fight against fraud 2016 Annual Report’ (COM(2017)0383) and the accompanying staff working documents (SWD(2017)0266, SWD(2017)0267, SWD(2017)0268, SWD(2017)0269 and SWD(2017)0270),

–  having regard to the OLAF report 2016 and the 2016 Activity Report of the OLAF Supervisory Committee,

–  having regard to the annual report of the Court of Auditors on the implementation of the budget concerning the financial year 2016, together with the institutions’ replies(1),

–  having regard to Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 883/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 September 2013 concerning investigations conducted by the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) and repealing Regulation (EC) No 1073/1999 of the European Parliament and of the Council and Council Regulation (Euratom) No 1074/1999(2) and the Commission’s mid‑term review of 2 October 2017 of that regulation (COM(2017)0589 and SWD(2017)0332),

–  having regard to Directive (EU) 2017/1371 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 5 July 2017 on the fight against fraud to the Union’s financial interests by means of criminal law(3) (the ‘PIF Directive’)

–  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(4),

–  having regard to Council Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 2988/95 of 18 December 1995 on the protection of the European Communities financial interests(5),

–  having regard to the 2015 Report on the VAT Gap commissioned by the Commission and the Commission communication of 7 April 2016 on an action plan on VAT (COM(2016)0148),

–  having regard to the judgment of the Court of Justice of the European Union in Case C-105/14, Taricco and Others(6),

–  having regard to its resolution of 14 February 2017 on the role of whistleblowers in the protection of EU’s financial interests(7),

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgetary Control and the opinion of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (A8-0135/2018),

A.  whereas the Member States and the Commission have shared responsibility for implementing approximately 74 % of the Union’s budget for 2016; whereas Member States are primarily responsible for the collection of own resources, particularly in the form of VAT and customs duties;

B.  whereas sound public spending and the protection of the EU’s financial interests should be key elements of the EU’s policy to increase the confidence of citizens by ensuring that their money is used properly and effectively;

C.  whereas achieving good performance with simplification processes involves regularly assessing inputs, outputs, outcomes and impacts through performance audits;

D.  whereas the diversity of legal and administrative systems in the Member States needs to be adequately addressed to overcome irregularities and combat fraud; whereas the Commission should therefore step up its efforts to ensure that the fight against fraud is implemented effectively and produces more tangible and more satisfactory results;

E.  whereas Article 325(2) of the TFEU states that ‘Member States shall take the same measures to counter fraud affecting the financial interests of the Union as they take to counter fraud affecting their own financial interests’;

F.  whereas the fluctuation in the number of irregularities can be linked to the progression of the multiannual programming cycles (with higher levels of detection at the end of cycles due to the closure of programmes) as well as to late reporting by certain Member States which tend to report most of the irregularities from previous multiannual programmes at once;

G.  whereas VAT is a major and growing source of revenue for Member States, yielding almost EUR 1 035,3 billion in 2015, and contributing EUR 18,3 billion to EU own resources, or 13,9 % of the EU’s total revenue in the same year;

H.  whereas VAT systems, in particular as applied to cross-border transactions, are vulnerable to fraud and tax-evasion strategies, in which Missing Trader Intra-Community (MTIC) fraud, commonly called carousel fraud, alone was responsible for VAT revenue losses of approximately EUR 50 billion in 2015;

I.  whereas corruption affects all Member States, particularly in the form of organised crime and not only burdens the EU economy, but undermines democracy and the rule of law all across Europe; whereas the exact figures are, however, unknown, as the Commission has decided not to publish the data in the report on the EU’s anti-corruption policy;

J.  whereas fraud is an example of purposeful wrongdoing and is a criminal offence, while an irregularity is a failure to comply with the rules;

K.  whereas the VAT gap amounted to approximately EUR 151,5 billion in 2015 and varies from less than 3,5 % to over 37,2 % depending on the country in question;

L.  whereas until the creation of the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) and the reform of Eurojust, OLAF is the sole European body specialised in the protection of the Union’s financial interest; whereas in several Member States, even after the setting up of the EPPO, OLAF will remain the only body to protect the EU’s financial interests;

Detection and reporting of irregularities

1.  Notes with satisfaction that the total number of fraudulent and non-fraudulent irregularities reported in 2016 (19 080 cases) was 15 % lower than in 2015 (22 349 cases) and their value had decreased by 8 % (from EUR 3,21 billion in 2015 to EUR 2,97 billion in 2016);

2.  Notes the slight decrease of 3,5 % in the number of irregularities reported as fraudulent, which continued the downward trend seen since 2014; hopes that the decrease in the amounts at stake, from EUR 637,6 million in 2015 to EUR 391 million in 2016, reflects a genuine reduction in fraud and not deficiencies in terms of detection;

3.  Points out that not all irregularities are fraudulent and that a clear distinction must be drawn between the errors committed;

4.  Takes the view that the cooperation between the Commission and the Member States in the area of fraud detection is not effective enough; urges accordingly that a set of measures be taken to ensure closer, more effective and more efficient cooperation;

5.  Deplores the fact that not all Member States have adopted national anti-fraud strategies; calls on the Commission to actively engage in helping Member States to create their national anti-fraud strategies, particularly as they manage approximately 74 % of the EU budget;

6.  Calls again on the Commission to establish a uniform system for the collection of comparable data on irregularities and cases of fraud from the Member States in order to standardise the reporting process and ensure the quality and comparability of the data provided;

7.  Expresses concern at the ongoing differences between Member States regarding the reporting process, which can give rise to a mistaken perception of the effectiveness of the controls; calls on the Commission to continue its efforts to help Member States step up the level and quality of inspections and share best practices in combating fraud;

PIF Directive and EPPO Regulation(8)

8.  Welcomes the adoption of the PIF Directive, which establishes minimum rules relating to the definition of criminal offences and sanctions in the area of fraud affecting the Union’s financial interests, which includes cross-border VAT fraud involving total damages of at least EUR 10 million; recalls, however, that this threshold will be subject to Commission assessment by 6 July 2022; welcomes the fact that the scope of the PIF Directive includes VAT fraud, which is particularly important for stepping up the fight against cross-border VAT fraud; sees the Directive as a first step to a harmonised European criminal law; notes that the Directive provides a definition of corruption and defines the types of fraudulent behaviour to be criminalised;

9.  Welcomes the decision of 20 Member States to proceed with the establishment of the EPPO through enhanced cooperation; calls for effective cooperation between OLAF and the EPPO, based on complementarity, efficient exchange of information and the support of OLAF for the EPPO’s activities, and the avoidance of double structures, conflicting competences and legal loopholes arising through lack of competences’; regrets however that not all EU Member States have been willing to participate in this initiative and underlines the importance of maintaining equivalent fraud detection efficiency rates in all Member States; calls on the Commission to incentivise the so far reluctant Member States to join to the EPPO;

10.  Calls on the participating Member States and the Commission to begin the preparatory work to launch the EPPO as soon as possible and to keep Parliament closely associated with the procedures, in particular the appointment of the Chief Prosecutor; calls on the Commission to designate the interim Administrative Director of the EPPO as soon as possible in line with Article 20 of the EPPO Regulation; insists that sufficient staff and resources should be allocated to the EPPO even before its official launch; reiterates that the EPPO must be independent;

11.  Calls for effective cooperation among Member States, the EPPO, OLAF and Eurojust; recalls the pending negotiations on the Eurojust Regulation; stresses that the respective competences of Eurojust, OLAF and the EPPO need to be clearly defined; emphasises that in order for the fight against fraud to be truly effective at EU level, the EPPO, Eurojust and OLAF will need to work seamlessly with one another in both policy and operational terms in order to avoid any possible overlaps in tasks; reiterates, in that respect, that working arrangements between the three bodies should be drawn up and adopted as soon as possible in accordance with Articles 99 to 101 of the EPPO Regulation; insists that the EPPO should have the power to settle conflicts of competence in cases relevant to the performance of its tasks;

Revenue – own resources

12.  Expresses its concern about losses due to the VAT gap and fraud relating to EU VAT, which amounted to EUR 159,5 billion in 2015;

13.  Welcomes the adoption of short-term measures to tackle losses on VAT mentioned in the Commission’s Action Plan entitled ‘Towards a single EU VAT area’ published on 7 April 2016; emphasises that the problems related to cross-border VAT fraud demand strong, coordinated and speedy measures; urges the Commission to speed up its procedures to present its proposals for a definitive VAT system as provided for in the action plan, in order to avoid the loss of tax revenue in the EU and the Member States;

14.  Regrets that, although the total number of fraudulent and non-fraudulent cases linked to traditional own resources (TOR) fell from 5 514 in 2015 to 4 647 in 2016, the total amount involved increased from EUR 445 million to EUR 537 million and is 13 % higher than the average for the years 2012-2016;

15.  Notes with great concern that tobacco smuggling to the EU has intensified in recent years and, according to estimates, represents an annual loss of EUR 10 billion in public revenue to the EU and Member States’ budgets, while at the same time it is a major source of organised crime, including terrorism; considers it necessary for Member States to step up their efforts to combat these illegal activities, for example by improving procedures for cooperation and the exchange of information between Member States;

16.  Notes the results of the 12 joint customs operations carried out by OLAF and Member States in cooperation with various services of third countries and the WCO, which have notably resulted in the seizure of 11 million cigarettes, 287 000 cigars, 250 tonnes of other tobacco products, 8 tonnes of cannabis and 400 kg of cocaine;

17.  Notes that customs checks carried out at the time of clearance of goods and inspections by anti-fraud services were the most successful methods of detecting fraud on the revenue side of the EU budget;

18.  Expresses its concern with regard to customs inspections and the related collection of customs duties, which are an own resource for the EU budget; recalls that it is the responsibility of the customs authorities of the Member States to carry out checks to determine whether importers are complying with the rules on tariffs and imports;

19.  Deplores the disparities in the customs checks carried out within the EU and the large amounts involved in fraud affecting the own resource collection system; calls on the Commission to strengthen the common policy on customs checks by providing for genuine harmonisation with a view to improving the collection of traditional own resources and to ensure the EU’s security and economic interests, focusing in particular on efforts to combat trade in illicit and counterfeit products;

20.  Deplores the fact that between 2013 and 2016 imports of clothing and footwear from China were undervalued upon their entry to several European countries, particularly the United Kingdom;

21.  Underlines that OLAF recommended that the Commission recover from the United Kingdom Government a shortfall of EUR 1,987 billion, an amount that should normally have accrued to the Union budget;

22.  Deplores the fact that the Commission is not capable of calculating the total amount of recoveries that arose from OLAF’s recommendations for recovery; urges the Commission to report annually the amount of EU own resources recovered following the recommendations made by OLAF, to introduce a system allowing the calculation of the total sums, to communicate the amounts still to be recovered and to publish details of cooperation with the recommendation and the sums actually recovered in OLAF’s annual reports;

23.  Considers that the Commission should provide annual data on the difference between expected VAT and customs receipts and those actually collected;

Expenditure

24.  Deplores the fact that non-fraudulent irregularities in direct expenditure increased by 16 % compared to the previous year, in contrast to all other budget sectors, which registered a decrease in this regard;

25.  Regrets that this is the fourth year in which the irregularities reported as fraudulent in direct management increased in number (16 cases in 2015 and 49 cases in 2016) and value (EUR 0,78 million in 2015 and EUR 6,25 million in 2016); calls on the Commission to present by the end of 2018 a specific plan to reduce fraud in this area;

26.  Notes that the number of reported fraudulent and non-fraudulent irregularities concerning the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD), while decreasing from 3 250 cases in 2015 to 2 676 cases in 2016, is still twice as high as in 2012, but wishes to highlight that the amounts concerned in 2016 are only 8 % higher than in 2012; also notes that, even though between 2015 and 2016 the total number of fraudulent and non-fraudulent irregularities for this fund fell by 16 %, the number of fraudulent irregularities increased by 17 %, welcomes, however, the fact that the financial sums involved in fraudulent irregularities decreased by more than 50 %; also notes that fraudulent irregularities in the EAFRD over the last five years represent about 0,5 % of payments;

27.  Notes that the 8 497 fraudulent and non-fraudulent irregularities linked to cohesion policy and fisheries in 2016 represented a 22 % decrease compared to 2015, but are still 25 % higher than the average for the last five years; notes also that the financial sums affected by irregularities were 5 % lower than in 2015; takes note of the fact that for the programming period 2007-2013 0,42 % of commitment appropriations were affected by fraud and 2,08 % by non-fraudulent irregularities;

28.  Welcomes the fact that the sums relating to irregularities reported as fraudulent in the cohesion and fisheries policies fell by almost 50 %, from EUR 469 million in 2015 to EUR 235 million in 2016;

29.  Notes with dismay that the sums relating to irregularities in the Cohesion Fund during the 2007-2013 programming period continue to increase (from EUR 277 million in 2015 to EUR 480 million in 2016), in contrast to other funds (ERDF, ESF and EFF), where there is a trend towards stabilisation and possibly downwards;

30.  Expresses surprise that for almost one third of irregularities reported as fraudulent in cohesion policy in 2016, no information is provided on the priority area concerned, as this lack of information distorts the comparison with previous years; calls on the Commission and the Member States to remedy this situation;

31.  Expresses concern regarding checks relating to financial instruments managed by intermediaries and the weaknesses revealed in verification of beneficiaries’ registered offices; stresses the need to make the disbursement of direct and indirect loans conditional on the publication of country-by-country tax and accountancy data, and on the disclosure of information on actual ownership by the beneficiaries and financial intermediaries involved in the financing operations;

32.  Expects that the simplification of administrative rules called for in the common provisions covering the period 2014-2020 will make it possible to reduce the number of non-fraudulent irregularities, identify fraudulent cases and improve access to EU funds for beneficiaries;

33.  Takes note of the continued downward trend in the number of reported irregularities concerning Pre-Accession Assistance (PAA), which is due to the phasing-out of pre-accession programmes; notes, however, that Turkey continues to be the country with the highest number of irregularities (both fraudulent and non-fraudulent), representing more than 50 % of reported cases;

34.  Awaits with interest the results secured by the Early Detection and Exclusion System (EDES) applied by the Commission since 1 January 2016;

35.  Advocates closer cooperation between Member States in exchanging information; points out that many Member States do not have specific laws against organised crime, while its involvement in cross-border activities and sectors affecting the EU’s financial interests, such as smuggling or counterfeiting of currency, is constantly growing; considers it essential for the Member States to use effective means to counter the growing internationalisation of fraud and calls on the Commission to introduce common standards for measures to help combat fraud;

Public Procurement

36.  Recalls that public procurement was one of the major sources of error in the last programming period and notes that the level of irregularities due to non-compliance with public procurement rules remains high; repeats its call on the Commission to develop a database of irregularities, capable of providing a basis for meaningful analysis in a comprehensive way of the frequency, seriousness and causes of public procurement errors; calls on the relevant authorities in Member States to develop and analyse their own databases on irregularities, including those arising in public procurement, and to cooperate with the Commission to provide such data in a form and at a time that facilitates the Commission’s work; calls on the Commission to monitor and evaluate the transposition of Directives 2014/24/EU and 2014/25/EU on public procurement into national law as soon as possible;

37.  Calls once again on the Commission and the Member States to comply with the provisions setting out the ex-ante conditionalities in cohesion policy, in particular in the field of public procurement; calls on the Member States to step up their efforts in the areas highlighted by the Commission’s annual report, in particular as regards public procurement, financial crime, conflicts of interest, corruption, whistle-blowing and the definition of fraud;

Problems identified and measures required

Better inspections

38.  Urges the Commission and Member States to take firmer measures against fraudulent irregularities; believes that non-fraudulent irregularities should be eliminated using administrative measures, in particular by introducing more transparent and simpler requirements;

39.  Emphasises that a system enabling the authorities to exchange information would facilitate the cross-checking of accounting records for transactions between two or more Member States in order to prevent cross-border fraud in respect of the structural and investment funds, hence ensuring a cross-cutting and comprehensive approach to the protection of Member States’ financial interests; reiterates its request to the Commission to submit a legislative proposal on mutual administrative assistance in those areas of European funding where no provision is made for this;

40.  Supports the Hercule III programme, which is a good example of the ‘best use of every euro’ approach; stresses the importance of this programme and its contribution to strengthening the capacities of customs authorities to combat cross-border organised crime and to prevent counterfeit and smuggled goods from reaching the Member States;

41.  Welcomes the independent mid-term evaluation of the Hercule III programme, which was submitted to the European Parliament and the Council on 11 January 2018;

42.  Is concerned about the increase in VAT-related fraud, in particular so-called carousel fraud; acknowledges the Commission’s proposal for a Council Directive that would allow the application of a generalised reverse charge mechanism (GRCM) by Member States under certain strict conditions; notes the Commission proposal for a VAT simplification package and for the reduction of compliance costs for SMEs so as to create an environment that is conducive to SME growth and favourable to cross-border trade; calls on the Commission to provide a comprehensive, long-term and EU-wide solution to the problem of VAT fraud; calls on all Member States to participate in all of EUROFISC’s fields of activity so as to facilitate the exchange of information and coordinate policies to help combat this kind of fraud, which is prejudicial to the EU and national budgets;

43.  Calls on the Commission to publish an annual public report on the use of EU funds and on European Investment Bank (EIB) and European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) money transfers to offshore structures, including the number and nature of the projects blocked, explanatory comments on the rationale for blocking projects and the follow-up actions taken to ensure that no EU funds contribute directly or indirectly to damaging the EU’s financial interests;

44.  Points out that complete transparency in accounting for expenditure is essential, especially as regards infrastructure works financed directly through EU funds or financial instruments; calls on the Commission to ensure that EU citizens have full access to information regarding co-funded projects;

Prevention

45.  Considers that prevention activities are very important in diminishing the level of fraud in the spending of EU money;

46.  Welcomes the prevention activities of the Commission and OLAF and calls for the strengthening of the implementation of the Early Detection and Exclusion System (EDES) and Anti-Fraud Information System (AFIS) and for the completion of the national anti-fraud strategies;

47.  Calls on the Commission to continue the simplification of the financial regulation and all other administrative rules; asks the Commission to evaluate very carefully the clarity and the added value of the financing directions of the Member States’ operational programmes;

48.  Calls on the Commission to draw up a framework for the digitalisation of all processes in the implementation of EU policies (calls for proposals, application, evaluation, implementation, payments) to be applied by all Member States;

49.  Considers transparency an important tool in the fight against fraud; calls on the Commission to elaborate a framework to be used by Member States for making public all steps of the implementation of projects financed with European funds, including payments;

Whistleblowers

50.  Emphasises the important role of whistleblowers in fraud prevention, detection and reporting and the need to protect them; calls on the Commission and the Member States to ensure a minimum level of protection for whistleblowers within the EU;

51.  Recalls its resolutions of 14 February 2017 and of 24 October 2017(9) on the protection of whistleblowers, and urges the Member States and the Commission to rapidly apply the recommendations that they contain;

52.  Reiterates its call on the Commission to submit as a matter of urgency a horizontal legislative proposal on the protection of whistleblowers in order to effectively prevent and combat fraud affecting the financial interests of the European Union;

53.  Takes note of the open public consultation held by the Commission between March and May 2017 to gather views on the issue of whistleblower protection at national and EU level; awaits the planned Commission initiative to strengthen the protection of whistleblowers in the EU in the upcoming months; recalls its resolution of 14 February 2017 on the role of whistleblowers in the protection of the EU’s financial interests;

54.  Encourages the Commission and the Member States to adopt measures to protect the confidentiality of information sources in order to prevent any discriminatory actions or threats;

Fighting corruption

55.  Deplores the fact that the Commission no longer feels the need to publish the anti-corruption report, which has impaired the assessment of the scale of corruption; recalls its recommendation of 13 December 2017 to the Council and the Commission following the inquiry into money laundering, tax avoidance and tax evasion(10), in which it noted that anti-corruption monitoring by the Commission will be pursued through the European Semester process; took the view that anti-corruption might be overshadowed by other economic and financial matters in this process; and called on the Commission to lead by example, resuming the publication of the report and committing to a much more credible and comprehensive anti-corruption strategy; points out that the fight against corruption is a matter of police and justice cooperation, a policy area where Parliament is co-legislator and has full scrutiny powers;

56.  Stresses that corruption is an enormous challenge for the EU and the Member States, and that, without effective measures against it, corruption undermines economic performance, the rule of law and the credibility of democratic institutions and the trust in those institutions within the Union; recalls 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(11), specifically calling for the establishment of an annual report on democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights (European DRF Report) with country-specific recommendations, including a specific focus on corruption;

57.  Regrets that the new directive on public procurement has not so far led to any noticeable improvement in detection of the level of corruption in the EU and calls on the Commission to provide effective instruments for improving the transparency of contracting and subcontracting procedures;

58.  Calls on the Member States to implement fully the EU Anti-Money Laundering Directive, with the introduction of a public register of beneficial ownership of companies and trusts;

59.  Reiterates its call on the Commission to develop a system of strict indicators and easily applicable, uniform criteria based on the requirements set out in the Stockholm Programme, to measure the level of corruption in the Member States and to evaluate their anti-corruption policies; invites the Commission to develop a corruption index in order to rank the Member States; is of the opinion that a corruption index could provide a sound basis on which the Commission could establish its country-specific control mechanism when controlling the spending of EU resources;

60.  Reiterates that prevention should involve constant training and support for the staff responsible for the management and control of funds within the competent authorities, as well as exchanges of information and best practices between Member States; points to the decisive role of local and regional authorities and stakeholders in combating fraud;

61.  Recalls that the Commission does not have access to the information exchanged between Member States with a view to preventing and combating MTIC fraud, commonly called carousel fraud; is of the opinion that the Commission should have access to Eurofisc, in order to better control, assess and improve the exchange of data among Member States; calls on all Member States to participate in all of Eurofisc’s fields of activity so as to facilitate and accelerate information exchange with judicial and law enforcement authorities such as Europol and OLAF, as recommended by the Court of Auditors; calls on the Member States and the Council to grant the Commission access to these data in order to foster cooperation, strengthen data reliability and fight cross-border crime;

Investigative journalism

62.  Is of the opinion that investigative journalism plays a key role in fostering the necessary level of transparency in the EU and the Member States, and that it must be encouraged and supported by legal means both in the Member States and within the EU;

Tobacco

63.  Recalls the Commission’s decision not to renew the PMI agreement, which expired on 9 July 2016; recalls that it asked the Commission on 9 March 2016(12) not to renew, extend or renegotiate the PMI agreement beyond its expiry date; believes that the three other agreements (BAT, JTI, ITL) should be terminated with effect as of 20 May 2019; calls on the Commission to present a report by the end of 2018 concerning the feasibility of stopping the three remaining agreements;

64.  Urges the Commission to put in place, at EU level, all necessary measures to track and trace PMI tobacco products and to bring legal action in the event of any illegal seizures of this manufacturer’s products until all provisions of the Tobacco Products Directive are fully enforceable, so that there is no regulatory gap between the expiry of the PMI agreement and the entry into force of the Tobacco Products Directive and the Protocol to the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC);

65.  Welcomes the Commission’s support for the timely ratification of the WHO Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products, the Protocol being the first multilateral legal instrument which addresses the problem of cigarette smuggling comprehensively and on a global scale;

66.  Recalls that, to date, 32 parties have ratified the WHO Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products, including only eight Member States and the Union as a whole; urges the 10 Member States (Germany, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Ireland, the Netherlands, Slovenia, Sweden and the United Kingdom) and Norway, which have signed but not yet ratified the Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products, to do so;

67.  Hopes to receive shortly the final progress report of the Commission following its 2013 Communication entitled ‘Stepping up the fight against cigarette smuggling and other forms of illicit trade in tobacco products – A comprehensive EU Strategy’ (COM(2013)0324), announced for 2018;

68.  Welcomes the fact that since the EU tobacco control laboratory at JRC Geel (Belgium) became operational in April 2016, it is able to determine the chemical profile and distinctive features of tobacco seized, thus enabling assessment of its authenticity;

Investigations and the role of OLAF

69.  Notes that, thus far, OLAF’s judicial recommendations have seen only limited implementation in the Member States; takes the view that such a situation is intolerable and calls on the Commission to ensure full implementation of OLAF’s recommendations in the Member States;

70.  Deplores the fact that despite numerous OLAF recommendations and investigations, the prosecution rate is only 30 % in the Member States and the judicial authorities of some Member States do not regard OLAF’s recommendations on the misspending of EU money as a priority, and even OLAF does not follow up its recommendations properly; calls on the Commission to establish rules on the follow-up of OLAF recommendations;

71.  Deplores the fact that around 50 % of OLAF cases are dismissed by national judicial authorities; calls on the Member States, the Commission and OLAF to lay down conditions for the admissibility of evidence provided by OLAF; calls on OLAF to improve the quality of its final reports in order to increase their usefulness to national authorities;

72.  Calls on OLAF to apply a more realistic approach to its recovery recommendations and also to report the amounts actually recovered;

73.  Recalls that the OLAF regulation gives an important role to the Director General in complaints procedures regarding investigations; recalls that the direct participation of the Director General in OLAF investigations undermines his role and thus the regulation;

74.  Calls on the Commission at the revision of Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 883/2013 to create a proper balance of competences between the EPPO and OLAF, to strengthen procedural guarantees, to clarify and strengthen the investigative powers of OLAF and establish a certain level of transparency of OLAF recommendations and reports, and to clarify the rules on cooperation and access to data between OLAF and its Supervisory Committee;

o
o   o

75.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council and the Commission, the Court of Justice of the European Union, the European Court of Auditors, the European Anti-Fraud Office and the OLAF Supervisory Committee.

(1) OJ C 322, 28.9.2017, p. 1.
(2) OJ L 248, 18.9.2013, p. 1.
(3) OJ L 198, 28.7.2017, p. 29.
(4) OJ L 298, 26.10.2012, p. 1.
(5) OJ L 312, 23.12.1995, p. 1.
(6) Judgment of the Court (Grand Chamber) of 8 September 2015, Taricco and Others, C-105/14, ECLI:EU:C:2015:555.
(7) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0022.
(8) Council Regulation (EU) 2017/1939 of 12 October 2017 implementing enhanced cooperation on the establishment of the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (‘the EPPO’) (OJ L 283, 31.10.2017, p. 1).
(9) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0402.
(10) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0491.
(11) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0409.
(12) Resolution of 9 March 2016 on the tobacco agreement (PMI agreement) (OJ C 50, 9.2.2018, p. 35).


Genetically modified sugar beet H7-1 (KM-ØØØH71-4)
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European Parliament resolution of 3 May 2018 on the draft Commission implementing decision renewing the authorisation for the placing on the market of food and feed produced from genetically modified sugar beet H7-1 (KM-ØØØH71-4) pursuant to Regulation (EC) No 1829/2003 of the European Parliament and of the Council on genetically modified food and feed (D055630–01 – 2018/2651(RSP))
P8_TA(2018)0197B8-0220/2018

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the draft Commission implementing decision renewing the authorisation for the placing on the market of food and feed produced from genetically modified sugar beet H7-1 (KM-ØØØH71-4) pursuant to Regulation (EC) No 1829/2003 of the European Parliament and of the Council on genetically modified food and feed (D055630-01),

–  having regard to Regulation (EC) No 1829/2003 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 September 2003 on genetically modified food and feed(1), and in particular Articles 11(3) and 23(3) thereof,

–  having regard to the vote of the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health referred to in Article 35 of Regulation (EC) No 1829/2003, on 19 March 2018, at which no opinion was delivered,

–  having regard to Article 11 of Regulation (EU) No 182/2011 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 February 2011 laying down the rules and general principles concerning mechanisms for control by Member States of the Commission’s exercise of implementing powers(2),

–  having regard to the opinion adopted by the European Food Safety Authority on 26 October 2017, and published on 16 November 2017(3),

–  having regard to the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Regulation (EU) No 182/2011 laying down the rules and general principles concerning mechanisms for control by Member States of the Commission’s exercise of implementing powers (COM(2017)0085, COD(2017)0035),

–  having regard to its previous resolutions objecting to the authorisation of genetically modified organisms(4),

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

–  having regard to Rule 106(2) and (3) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.  whereas on 12 November 2004, KWS SAAT AG and Monsanto Europe S.A. submitted to the competent authorities of the United Kingdom an application, in accordance with Articles 5 and 17 of Regulation (EC) No 1829/2003, for the placing on the market of foods, food ingredients and feed produced from sugar beet H7-1 (‘genetically modified (GM) sugar beet H7-1’);

B.  whereas Commission Decision 2007/692/EC(5) authorised the placing on the market of foods, food ingredients and feed produced from genetically modified sugar beet H7-1; whereas prior to that Commission Decision, on 5 December 2006, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) adopted a favourable opinion, in accordance with Articles 6 and 18 of Regulation (EC) No 1829/2003, which was published on 14 December 2006(6) (‘EFSA 2006’);

C.  whereas on 20 October 2016, KWS SAAT SE and Monsanto Europe S.A./N.V. jointly submitted an application for the renewal of the authorisation provided in accordance with Decision 2007/692/EC;

D.  whereas on 26 October 2017, EFSA adopted a favourable opinion, in accordance with Articles 6 and 18 of Regulation (EC) No 1829/2003, which was published on 16 November 2017(7) (‘EFSA 2017’);

E.  whereas the scope of the renewal application is for food and feed produced from or food containing ingredients produced from GM sugar beet H7-1 for import and processing(8); whereas examples of those products include sugar, syrup, dried pulp and molasses, all of which are derived from the root of sugar beet; whereas pulp and molasses are used in, among other things, animal feed(9);

F.  whereas Regulation (EC) No 1829/2003 states that genetically modified food or feed must not have adverse effects on human health, animal health or the environment and that the Commission shall take into account any relevant provisions of Union law and other legitimate factors relevant to the matter under consideration when drafting its decision;

G.  whereas many critical comments were submitted by Member States during the three-month consultation period for both EFSA 2006(10) and EFSA 2017(11); whereas Member States criticise, inter alia, the fact that no tests with portions of roots which are often mixed with molasses and fed as pellets have been carried out, that the three-week feed performance study with sheep cannot be regarded as representative because it is not clear whether toxicologically-relevant parameters were assessed, that no scientific evidence to back up the claim that ‘human exposure to the protein will be negligible’ has been provided, that, with regard to allergenicity, no experimental tests with the genetically modified organism (GMO) itself have been conducted, that studies carried out with an isolated protein are not convincing proof of harmlessness, and that the compositional analysis lacks the data on phosphorus and magnesium recommended by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development;

H.  whereas GM sugar beet H7-1 expresses the CP4 EPSPS protein which confers tolerance to glyphosate; whereas, in consequence, it has to be expected that GM sugar beet H7-1 plants will be exposed to higher and also repeated dosages of glyphosate which will not only lead to a higher burden of residues in the harvest but may also influence the composition of the plants and their agronomic characteristics;

I.  whereas, while glyphosate is typically sprayed onto plant foliage, it can accumulate in the roots due to translocation through the plant or absorption via the soil; whereas absorption of glyphosate through roots has been shown in several crop species, including beets; whereas this exposure pathway is significant because roots are the main intercept of glyphosate in field run-off(12);

J.  whereas information on residues levels of herbicides and their metabolites, as well as on their distribution within the whole plant, is essential for a thorough risk assessment of herbicide-tolerant GM plants; whereas according to the EFSA GMO panel glyphosate residue levels do not fall within its remit; whereas glyphosate residues on GM sugar beet H7-1 and any possible change in its composition and agronomic characteristics as a result of exposure to glyphosate were not assessed by EFSA;

K.  whereas, in general, according to the pesticide panel of EFSA, conclusions on the safety of residues from spraying GM crops with glyphosate formations cannot be drawn(13); whereas additives and their mixtures used in commercial formulations for spraying glyphosate can show a higher toxicity than the active ingredient alone(14); whereas the Union has already removed an additive known as POE tallowamine from the market due to concerns over its toxicity; whereas problematic additives and mixtures may, however, still be permitted in the countries where GM sugar beet H7-1 is cultivated (the US, Canada and Japan);

L.  whereas questions concerning the carcinogenicity of glyphosate remain; whereas EFSA concluded in November 2015 that glyphosate is unlikely to be carcinogenic and the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) concluded in March 2017 that no classification was warranted; whereas, on the contrary, in 2015 the World Health Organisation’s International Agency for Research on Cancer classified glyphosate as a probable carcinogen for humans; whereas Parliament has established a special committee on the Union’s authorisation procedure for pesticides, which will help establish whether the relevant international scientific standards were adhered to by EFSA and ECHA and whether there was any undue industry influence over the Union agencies’ conclusions on glyphosate’s carcinogenicity;

M.  whereas Member States are not currently required by the Commission to assess glyphosate residues on sugar beet in order to ensure compliance with maximum residue levels as part of the coordinated multiannual control programme for 2018, 2019 and 2020, in accordance with Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2017/660(15); whereas, likewise, glyphosate residues on sugar beet will not be assessed by Member States to ensure compliance with maximum residue levels under Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2018/555(16); whereas it is therefore not known whether glyphosate residues on imported GM sugar beet H7-1 comply with Union maximum residue limits;

N.  whereas EFSA has concluded that all but one of the representational uses of glyphosate for conventional crops (i.e. non-GM crops) posed a ‘risk to wild non-target terrestrial vertebrates’, while it also identified a high long-term risk to mammals for some of the main uses on conventional crops(17); whereas ECHA classified glyphosate as being toxic to aquatic life with long-lasting effects; whereas the negative impacts of the use of glyphosate on biodiversity and the environment are widely documented; whereas, for example, a 2017 US study finds a negative correlation between glyphosate use and the abundance of adult monarch butterflies, particularly in areas of concentrated agriculture(18);

O.  whereas a reauthorisation of GM sugar beet H7-1 for placing on the market will continue to create demand for its cultivation in third countries; whereas, as mentioned above, higher and repeated doses of herbicide are used on herbicide-tolerant GM plants (in comparison to non-GM plants), since they have been intentionally designed for that purpose;

P.  whereas the Union is party to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, under which parties must ensure that activities within their jurisdiction or control do not cause damage to the environment of other states or of areas beyond the limits of their jurisdiction(19); whereas the decision on whether or not to renew the authorisation of GM sugar beet H7-1 is within the Union’s jurisdiction;

Q.  whereas the development of GM crops tolerant to several selective herbicides is mainly due to the rapid evolution of weed resistance to glyphosate in countries that have relied heavily on GM crops; whereas in 2015 at least 29 glyphosate-resistant weed species were in existence globally(20);

R.  whereas on 19 March 2018 the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health, as referred to in Article 35 of Regulation (EC) No 1829/2003, voted not to deliver an opinion;

S.  whereas on several occasions the Commission has deplored the fact that, since the entry into force of Regulation (EC) No 1829/2003, authorisation decisions have been adopted by the Commission without the support of the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health and that the return of the dossier to the Commission for a final decision, which is very much the exception for the procedure in general, has become the norm for decision-making on GM food and feed authorisations; whereas that practice has also been deplored by President Juncker as not being democratic(21);

T.  whereas Parliament rejected the legislative proposal of 22 April 2015 amending Regulation (EC) No 1829/2003 on 28 October 2015 at first reading(22), and called on the Commission to withdraw it and submit a new one;

U.  whereas recital 14 of Regulation (EU) No 182/2011 states that the Commission should, as far as possible, act in such a way as to avoid going against any predominant position which might emerge within the appeal committee against the appropriateness of an implementing act, especially where that act concerns sensitive issues such as consumer health, food safety and the environment;

1.  Considers that the draft Commission implementing decision exceeds the implementing powers provided for in Regulation (EC) No 1829/2003;

2.  Considers that the draft Commission implementing decision is not consistent with Union law in that it is not compatible with the aim of Regulation (EC) No 1829/2003, which is, in accordance with the general principles laid down in Regulation (EC) No 178/2002 of the European Parliament and of the Council(23), to provide the basis for ensuring a high level of protection of human life and health, animal health and welfare, the environment and consumer interests in relation to genetically modified food and feed, while ensuring the effective functioning of the internal market;

3.  Calls on the Commission to withdraw its draft implementing decision;

4.  Calls on the Commission to suspend any implementing decision regarding applications for authorisation of GMOs until the authorisation procedure has been revised in such a way so as to address the shortcomings of the current procedure, which has proven inadequate;

5.  Calls, in particular, on the Commission to uphold its commitments under the UN Convention on Biological Diversity by suspending all imports of GM plants which are tolerant to glyphosate;

6.  Calls on the Commission not to authorise any herbicide-tolerant GM plants without full assessment of the residues from spraying with complementary herbicides and their commercial formulations as applied in the countries of cultivation;

7.  Calls on the Commission to fully integrate the risk assessment of the application of complementary herbicides and their residues into that of herbicide-tolerant GM plants, regardless of whether the GM plant concerned is to be cultivated in the Union or for import for food and feed;

8.  Reiterates its commitment to advance work on the Commission proposal amending Regulation (EU) No 182/2011 in order to ensure that, inter alia, if no opinion is delivered by the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health with respect to approvals of GMOs, whether for cultivation or for food and feed, the Commission withdraws the proposal; calls on the Council to move forward with its work on the same Commission proposal as a matter of urgency;

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

(1) OJ L 268, 18.10.2003, p. 1.
(2) OJ L 55, 28.2.2011, p. 13.
(3) http://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/efsajournal/pub/5065
(4)–––––––––––––––––––––– – Resolution of 16 January 2014 on the proposal for a Council decision concerning the placing on the market for cultivation, in accordance with Directive 2001/18/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council, of a maize product (Zea mays L., line 1507) genetically modified for resistance to certain lepidopteran pests (OJ C 482, 23.12.2016, p. 110).Resolution of 16 December 2015 on Commission implementing decision (EU) 2015/2279 of 4 December 2015 authorising the placing on the market of products containing, consisting of, or produced from genetically modified maize NK603 × T25 (OJ C 399, 24.11.2017, p. 71).Resolution of 3 February 2016 on the draft Commission implementing decision authorising the placing on the market of products containing, consisting of, or produced from genetically modified soybean MON 87705 × MON 89788 (OJ C 35, 31.1.2018, p. 19).Resolution of 3 February 2016 on the draft Commission implementing decision authorising the placing on the market of products containing, consisting of, or produced from genetically modified soybean MON 87708 × MON 89788 (OJ C 35, 31.1.2018, p. 17).Resolution of 3 February 2016 on the draft Commission implementing decision authorising the placing on the market of products containing, consisting of, or produced from genetically modified soybean FG72 (MST-FGØ72-2) (OJ C 35, 31.1.2018, p. 15).Resolution of 8 June 2016 on the draft Commission implementing decision authorising the placing on the market of products containing, consisting of, or produced from genetically modified maize Bt11 × MIR162 × MIR604 × GA21, and genetically modified maizes combining two or three of those events (OJ C 86, 6.3.2018, p. 108).Resolution of 8 June 2016 on the draft Commission implementing decision as regards the placing on the market of a genetically modified carnation (Dianthus caryophyllus L., line SHD-27531-4) (OJ C 86, 6.3.2018, p. 111).Resolution of 6 October 2016 on the draft Commission implementing decision renewing the authorisation for the placing on the market for cultivation of genetically modified maize MON 810 seeds (Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0388).Resolution of 6 October 2016 on the draft Commission implementing decision authorising the placing on the market of genetically modified maize MON 810 products (Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0389).Resolution of 6 October 2016 on the draft Commission implementing decision concerning the placing on the market for cultivation of genetically modified maize Bt11 seeds (Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0386).Resolution of 6 October 2016 on the draft Commission implementing decision concerning the placing on the market for cultivation of genetically modified maize 1507 seeds (Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0387).Resolution of 6 October 2016 on the draft Commission implementing decision authorising the placing on the market of products containing, consisting of, or produced from genetically modified cotton 281-24-236 × 3006-210-23 × MON 88913 (Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0390).Resolution of 5 April 2017 on the draft Commission implementing decision authorising the placing on the market of products containing, consisting of, or produced from genetically modified maize Bt11 × 59122 × MIR604 × 1507 × GA21, and genetically modified maizes combining two, three or four of the events Bt11, 59122, MIR604, 1507 and GA21 pursuant to Regulation (EC) No 1829/2003 of the European Parliament and of the Council on genetically modified food and feed (Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0123).Resolution of 17 May 2017 on the draft Commission implementing decision authorising the placing on the market of products containing, consisting of, or produced from genetically modified maize DAS-40278-9, pursuant to Regulation (EC) No 1829/2003 of the European Parliament and of the Council on genetically modified food and feed (Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0215).Resolution of 17 May 2017 on the draft Commission implementing decision authorising the placing on the market of products containing, consisting of, or produced from genetically modified cotton GHB119 (BCS-GHØØ5-8) pursuant to Regulation (EC) No 1829/2003 of the European Parliament and of the Council (Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0214).Resolution of 13 September 2017 on the draft Commission implementing decision authorising the placing on the market of products containing, consisting of, or produced from genetically modified soybean DAS-68416-4, pursuant to Regulation (EC) No 1829/2003 of the European Parliament and of the Council on genetically modified food and feed (Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0341).Resolution of 4 October 2017 on the draft Commission implementing decision authorising the placing on the market of products containing, consisting of, or produced from genetically modified soybean FG72 × A5547-127 pursuant to Regulation (EC) No 1829/2003 of the European Parliament and of the Council on genetically modified food and feed (Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0377).Resolution of 4 October 2017 on the draft Commission implementing decision authorising the placing on the market of products containing, consisting of, or produced from genetically modified soybean DAS-44406-6, pursuant to Regulation (EC) No 1829/2003 of the European Parliament and of the Council on genetically modified food and feed (Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0378).Resolution of 24 October 2017 on the draft Commission implementing decision renewing the authorisation for the placing on the market of products containing, consisting of, or produced from genetically modified maize 1507 (DAS-Ø15Ø7-1) pursuant to Regulation (EC) No 1829/2003 of the European Parliament and of the Council on genetically modified food and feed (Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0396).Resolution of 24 October 2017 on the draft Commission implementing decision authorising the placing on the market of products containing, consisting of, or produced from genetically modified soybean 305423 × 40-3-2 (DP-3Ø5423-1 × MON-Ø4Ø32-6) pursuant to Regulation (EC) No 1829/2003 of the European Parliament and of the Council on genetically modified food and feed (Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0397).Resolution of 24 October 2017 on the draft Commission implementing decision authorising the placing on the market of products containing, consisting of, or produced from genetically modified oilseed rapes MON 88302 × Ms8 × Rf3 (MON-883Ø2-9 × ACSBNØØ5-8 × ACS-BNØØ3-6), MON 88302 × Ms8 (MON-883Ø2-9 × ACSBNØØ5-8) and MON 88302 × Rf3 (MON-883Ø2-9 × ACS-BNØØ3-6) pursuant to Regulation (EC) No 1829/2003 of the European Parliament and of the Council on genetically modified food and feed (Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0398).Resolution of 1 March 2018 on the draft Commission implementing decision renewing the authorisation for the placing on the market of products containing, consisting of, or produced from genetically modified maize 59122 (DAS-59122-7) pursuant to Regulation (EC) No 1829/2003 of the European Parliament and of the Council on genetically modified food and feed (Texts adopted, P8_TA(2018)0051).Resolution of 1 March 2018 on the draft Commission implementing decision authorising the placing on the market of products containing, consisting of, or produced from genetically modified maize MON 87427 × MON 89034 × NK603 (MON-87427-7 × MON-89Ø34-3 × MON-ØØ6Ø3-6) and genetically modified maize combining two of the events MON 87427, MON 89034 and NK603, and repealing Decision 2010/420/EU (Texts adopted, P8_TA(2018)0052).
(5) Commission Decision 2007/692/EC of 24 October 2007 authorising the placing on the market of food and feed produced from genetically modified sugar beet H7-1 (KM-ØØØH71-4) pursuant to Regulation (EC) No 1829/2003 of the European Parliament and of the Council (OJ L 283, 27.10.2007, p. 69).
(6) http://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/efsajournal/pub/431
(7) http://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/efsajournal/pub/5065
(8) EFSA 2017, p. 3: http://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/efsajournal/pub/5065
(9) EFSA 2006, p. 1 and p. 7: http://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/efsajournal/pub/431
(10) Annex G – Member States’ comments: http://registerofquestions.efsa.europa.eu/roqFrontend/questionLoader?question=EFSA-Q-2004-164
(11) Annex E – Member States’ comments: http://registerofquestions.efsa.europa.eu/roqFrontend/questionLoader?question=EFSA-Q-2017-00026
(12) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5606642/
(13) EFSA conclusion of the peer review of the pesticide risk assessment of the active substance glyphosate. EFSA Journal 2015, 13(11):4302: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.2903/j.efsa.2015.4302/epdf
(14) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3955666
(15) Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2017/660 of 6 April 2017 concerning a coordinated multiannual control programme of the Union for 2018, 2019 and 2020 to ensure compliance with maximum residue levels of pesticides and to assess the consumer exposure to pesticide residues in and on food of plant and animal origin (OJ L 94, 10.4.2017, p. 12).
(16) Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2018/555 of 9 April 2018 concerning a coordinated multiannual control programme of the Union for 2019, 2020 and 2021 to ensure compliance with maximum residue levels of pesticides and to assess the consumer exposure to pesticide residues in and on food of plant and animal origin (OJ L 92, 10.4.2018, p. 6).
(17) https://efsa.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.2903/j.efsa.2015.4302
(18) https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/ecog.02719
(19) UN Convention on Biological Diversity, Article 3: https://www.cbd.int/convention/articles/default.shtml?a=cbd-03
(20) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5606642/
(21) For example, in the opening statement at the European Parliament plenary session included in the political guidelines for the next European Commission (Strasbourg, 15 July 2014) or in the State of the Union Address 2016 (Strasbourg, 14 September 2016).
(22) OJ C 335, 20.10.2017, p. 165.
(23) OJ L 31, 1.2.2002, p. 1.


Annual report on the control of the financial activities of the European Investment Bank for 2016
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European Parliament resolution of 3 May 2018 on the annual report on the control of the financial activities of the EIB for 2016 (2017/2190(INI))
P8_TA(2018)0198A8-0139/2018

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the 2016 Activity Report of the European Investment Bank (EIB),

–  having regard to the 2016 Financial Report and the 2016 Statistical Report of the EIB,

–  having regard to the 2016 Sustainability Report, the 2016 Report on 3 Pillar Assessment for EIB operations inside the EU and the 2016 Report on Results Outside of the EU of the European Investment Bank,

–  having regard to the Audit Committee annual reports for the year 2016,

–  having regard to the EIB Group Anti-Fraud Activity Report 2016,

–  having regard to the Report on the implementation of the EIB’s Transparency Policy in 2016 and the Corporate Governance Report 2016,

–  having regard to the EIB Office of the Chief Compliance Officer Activity Report 2016,

–  having regard to the EIB Group Operational Plans 2015-2017 and 2016-2018,

–  having regard to Articles 3 and 9 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU),

–  having regard to Articles 15, 126, 174, 175, 208, 209, 271, 308 and 309 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), to Protocol No 5 on the Statute of the EIB and to Protocol No 28 on economic, social and territorial cohesion,

–  having regard to Protocol No 1 on the role of national parliaments in the European Union,

–  having regard to the Rules of Procedure of the European Investment Bank,

–  having regard to its resolutions of 11 March 2014 on the EIB – Annual Report 2012(1), of 30 April 2015 on the EIB – Annual Report 2013(2), of 28 April 2016 on the EIB – Annual Report 2014(3), and of 27 April 2017 on the annual report on the control of the financial activities of the EIB for 2015(4),

–  having regard to Decision No 1080/2011/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 October 2011(5) on the EIB’s external mandate 2007-2013 and to Decision No 466/2014/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 April 2014 granting an EU guarantee to the European Investment Bank against losses under financing operations supporting investment projects outside the Union(6),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 26 November 2014 on ‘An Investment Plan for Europe’ (COM(2014)0903),

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) 2015/1017 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 June 2015 on the European Fund for Strategic Investments, the European Investment Advisory Hub and the European Investment Project Portal and amending Regulations (EU) No 1291/2013 and (EU) No 1316/2013 – the European Fund for Strategic Investments(7),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 22 July 2015 entitled ‘Working together for jobs and growth: The role of National Promotional Banks (NPBs) in supporting the Investment Plan for Europe’ (COM(2015)0361),

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

–  having regard to the Commission communication and the accompanying staff working documents of 14 September 2016 on the extension of the duration of the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) as well as the introduction of technical enhancements for that Fund and the European Investment Advisory Hub (COM(2016)0597,SWD(2016)0297 and SWD(2016)0298),

–  having regard to the EIB’s operations evaluation of the functioning of the EFSI of September 2016,

–  having regard to Opinion No 2/2016 of the European Court of Auditors on the proposal for a regulation to increase and extend the EFSI,

–  having regard to the Special Report 19/2016 of the European Court of Auditors, entitled ‘Implementing the EU budget through financial instruments – lessons to be learnt from the 2007-2013 programme period’,

–  having regard to the Ernst & Young ad hoc audit of 8 November 2016 of the application of Regulation (EU) 2015/1017 (the EFSI Regulation),

–  having regard to the Commission report of 16 June 2017 on the management of the guarantee fund of the European Fund for Strategic Investments in 2016 (COM(2017)0326 and SWD(2017)0235),

–  having regard to the Tripartite Agreement of September 2016 between the European Commission, the European Court of Auditors and the European Investment Bank,

–  having regard to the letter of the European Ombudsman to the President of the European Investment Bank dated 22 July 2016,

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgetary Control and the opinion of the Committee on International Trade (A8-0139/2018),

A.  whereas the EIB is the EU’s Bank as defined in Articles 308 and 309 of the TFEU, being the largest multilateral bank and the biggest public lender in the world operating in international capital markets;

B.  whereas the EIB is treaty-bound to contribute to EU integration, economic and social cohesion and regional development, through dedicated investment instruments such as loans, equities, guarantees, risk-sharing facilities and advisory services;

C.  whereas the challenges of sustainability are increasing, particularly in the context of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which has to be transposed into a number of EIB deliverables;

D.  whereas the EIB plays a key role in implementing an ever greater number of financial instruments capable of leveraging EU budgetary funds;

E.  whereas investment in innovation and skills is crucial to developing Europe’s knowledge economy and to achieving the Europe 2020 targets;

F.  whereas contributing to a balanced and steady development of the internal market by financing projects for less-developed regions and projects that cannot be entirely financed by individual Member States is the EIB’s core task, according to Article 309 of the TFEU;

G.  whereas modern, sustainable infrastructure plays an essential role in combating climate change and in connecting internal markets and European economies; whereas all related investment provided by the EIB should ensure that the EU has the sustainable, efficient, environment-friendly and well-integrated infrastructure it needs to create a ‘smart Europe’ and support truly sustainable and inclusive long-term growth;

H.  whereas the EIB is a reference bank aimed at fostering the growth of start-ups and innovative enterprises;

I.  whereas the EIB’s climate action lending should support the transition to a carbon-free, environment-friendly, climate-resilient economy, namely through projects promoting efficient use of natural resources, renewable energy and energy efficiency;

J.  whereas the Investment Plan for Europe has three pillars: mobilising finance for investment; ensuring that investment reaches the real economy; and improving the investment environment in the Union;

K.  whereas the EIB’s investments should not only be bankable operations but should also respond to sustainability criteria and governance standards, in line with the Treaty requirement of operating on a non-profit-making basis in the interest of the Union;

L.  whereas the transparency policy developed within the EIB is challenged by its dual nature as being both a public body – the EU bank – and a commercial bank which manages and holds information on EIB clients;

M.  whereas the EIB should maintain its triple-A rating, which is a fundamental asset of its business model of raising funds and lending at attractive rates as well as having sound asset portfolios;

N.  whereas while the EIB – by its nature – must involve itself on occasion with private profit-driven enterprise, its primary role is to serve the interests of the citizens of the EU above those of any private enterprise, company or corporation;

Promoting financially sustainable activities for a solid long-term impact from EIB investments

1.  Notes the EIB Group’s total financing of EUR 83,8 billion for 2016, mobilising EUR 280 billion of total investment that year;

2.  Takes note of the set of EIB annual reports for 2016 presenting the various investing activities and their expected impacts; reiterates its request that the EIB present a more comprehensive, detailed and harmonised annual activity report and significantly improve the presentation of the information by including detailed and trustworthy breakdowns of the investments approved, signed and disbursed for the given year and the financing sources engaged (own resources, EFSI, EU centrally managed programmes, etc.), as well as such information regarding beneficiaries (Member States, public or private sector, intermediaries or direct recipients), sectors supported, and the results of the ex post evaluations;

3.  Invites the EIB to pursue efforts in that direction by providing policymakers with complete and exhaustive information on the concrete and achieved economic, social and environmental impacts, on the added value and on the results achieved of its operations in the Member States and outside the EU, in the form of 3PA and ReM reports respectively; stresses the importance of carrying out, for each project, an independent ex ante and ex post evaluation; calls on the EIB to provide detailed examples of crossnational added value in its impact investment reporting, as well as key indicators of sectoral and intersectoral successes; calls on the EIB to forward the results of the ex post evaluations to Parliament;

4.  Recalls that activities benefiting from EIB support must be in accordance with the Bank’s core task according to the TFEU, with the principles of the EU’s policy goals as outlined in the Europe 2020 strategy, and with the COP21 agreement; underlines, therefore, that the EIB’s mission is to revitalise the European economy in order to stimulate quality jobs and support smart, inclusive and sustainable growth in the Union, as well as the greater cohesion which is necessary for reversing increasing inequalities both within and between Member States; hopes, to this end, that ever closer collaboration between the EIB, the Commission and the Member States can be achieved, in order to improve planning and the definition of objectives leading to the reprioritisation of funding targets;

5.  Underlines the fact that because of their impact and importance to economies both local and national, investment in SMEs, start-ups, research, innovation, the digital economy and energy efficiency is the most essential factor in driving economic recovery in the EU and promoting the creation of quality jobs;

6.  Points out the recurrent need for the EIB to contribute to reducing the lasting investment gap on the basis of sound economic criteria; emphasises that the assessment of funded projects should also take into account social, economic and environmental externalities (both positive and negative), especially with respect to the effects that they have on local communities, in order to understand whether real added value is delivered to EU citizens;

7.  Considers that approval of investment projects should be based on a sound, independent analysis assessing the financial sustainability and risks associated with the projects, in order to avoid the risk of socialisation of losses and privatisation of returns when public resources are involved; stresses that the provision of public subsidies should be envisaged only for the execution of missions of general interest and where the market is unable to deliver the necessary public policy results;

8.  Reiterates Parliament’s concern with regard to defining a balanced strategy with a dynamic, fair and transparent geographical distribution of projects and investments among Member States, taking into account the special focus on the less developed countries and regions; observes that 70 % of the EIB’s total lending for 2016 (EUR 46,8 billion) is concentrated in a few countries with the most developed financial markets, which shows that not all Member States or regions are able to catch up and benefit equally from investment opportunities;

9.  Expresses its support for the EIB’s four public policy goals and for the two horizontal objectives which cut across those goals, namely economic and social cohesion and climate action, covering multiple issues, from addressing regional imbalances to helping weaker regions to become more attractive for developing a favourable environment to promote sustainable and inclusive growth; repeats, however, its call on the EIB to reinstate economic, social and territorial cohesion as a primary public policy goal;

10.  Calls on the EIB to take into account, in the case of large-scale infrastructure projects, all risks likely to have an impact on the environment, and to finance as a priority those which have demonstrated real added value for the environment, the economy or the local population; stresses the importance of strict monitoring of possible risks of corruption and fraud, and asks the EIB to freeze any loans to projects when an official OLAF or national investigation so requires;

11.  Regrets that many Member States lack the capacity to implement financial instruments, deploy public-private partnerships (PPPs) and achieve synergies between various types of financing, which negatively affects overall investment progress;

12.  Stresses the need to optimise the use of EU funds and grants, in addition to the EIB’s approach to delivering technical assistance and financial advice to Member States in an easily accessible manner, based on a combination of lending (project loans, intermediated loans, microfinance, venture capital, equity and fund investment), blending (direct financing supported by additional sources of investment, e.g. guarantees, project bonds) and advice (financial and technical expertise); calls on the EIB, therefore, in cooperation with the Commission, to provide more technical assistance in the fields of advisory and analytical services, project management and capacity-building to those Member States which receive a low share of EIB financing; recalls that financial instruments, such as project bonds, should be seriously assessed with regard to their financial, social and environmental impact, in order to prevent the entire burden of risk being shifted to the public;

13.  Recognises that there may be differences between a bank assessment of the feasibility of projects and a traditional sectoral assessment used for the Structural Funds; considers, furthermore, that the effectiveness of interventions should be assessed on the basis of the potential and sustainability of financial instruments, while also taking account of the quantifiable results that could be obtained;

14.  Calls on the EIB to pay attention to cost-effectiveness in running its operating activities by carefully monitoring and reporting administrative costs and fees, given the high number of mandates managed by the EIB; considers it essential that activities be developed with proportional costs; asks the EIB to include in its reporting exhaustive information on the structure of the management costs and fees (direct, indirect and cumulative) according to the nature of the mandates being managed, the size of the projects and the financial instruments used, i.e. loan, guarantee or equity;

15.  Considers the triple-A rating to be an essential asset for the development of the EIB’s investment strategy and long-term lending priorities; recalls, however, that in order to contribute to the economic development of the EU, the EIB’s instruments and interventions – notably those based on risk transfers – cannot be risk-free;

16.  Notes that the United Kingdom subscribed 16,1 % of the EIB’s capital, accounting for EUR 3,5 billion of the paid-in capital and EUR 35,7 billion of the Bank’s callable capital; asks the EIB’s management to identify and swiftly inform Parliament of the impacts of Brexit on the EIB with a view to preserving the EIB’s ability to achieve its policy objectives;

17.  Calls on the EIB, given the most immediate challenge to it caused by the UK’s decision to trigger Article 50 and recognising that the detailed terms of withdrawal cannot be pre-empted, to provide Parliament with a detailed breakdown of the projects and stage of implementation up to end 2017, together with a preliminary assessment of the possible risks involved;

Refining the monitoring of added value and additionality within the EIB’s financial management

18.  Notes that in 2016 the EIB’s portfolio of loans, guarantees and investments mobilised EUR 280 billion of total investment; observes that EUR 67,7 billion of investment was related to EFSI approvals in 2016, which were dedicated primarily to smaller companies (31 %), the energy sector (22 %), and research, development and innovation (22 %); regrets, however, that a large share of investments under the EFSI portfolio was earmarked for fossil fuel-related projects; reiterates the need for an in-depth analysis and evaluation on the environmental impact of each project;

19.  Considers that leveraging up the impact and ensuring additionality are of pivotal relevance; takes note of the modelling and estimated impact of the EIB’s activities, which should contribute to an additional 1,1 % of GDP growth and to the creation of an additional 1,4 million jobs by 2030; welcomes the fact that 385 000 SMEs will benefit from EIF financing, recalling that SMEs are the backbone of the EU economy and drivers of employment and sustainable growth; asks the EIB to report regularly on updated leverage effects; understands, however, that leverage varies between sectors and that a project with lower leverage does not necessarily imply low added value;

20.  Stresses that the EIB’s activity in the current period of sluggish recovery must be carefully directed towards high-quality projects ensuring strengthened additionality vis‑à‑vis other existing Union instruments and the EIB’s main operations; hopes, to this end, that closer collaboration between the EIB, the Commission and the Member States can be achieved with a view to greater market flexibility and improvement of digital and transport infrastructures, the lack of which is often perceived as an obstacle to investment;

21.  Takes the view that relevant qualitative management information should be provided for each project covered, on the basis of monitoring or additionality indicators alongside risk exposure, in order to permit the proper assessment of its added value, potential role as a driver of effectiveness, or contribution to the EU economy;

22.  Calls on the EIB to present precise information when EU leverage on public resources is at stake, on the minimum and average leverages achieved and channelled to beneficiaries or projects and showing the magnitude of private funding attracted; asks that the share corresponding to the leverage of public funding and private capital be clearly identified; considers that there is a risk of the multiplier effect being overstated and that the defined objectives and results were simply projections, not confirmed by tangible, accurate, clear and up-to-date statistics;

The EFSI’s achievements to date

23.  Notes that at year end 2016 the EFSI expected to mobilise eligible total investments of EUR 163,9 billion; also notes, however, that according to the EIB Group Operational Plan 2018, the actual volume of investments mobilised under the Infrastructure and Innovation Window (IIW) and the SME Window (SMEW) in 2016 amounted to no more than EUR 85,5 billion, which, together with EUR 37 billion for 2015, results in a total of EUR 122,5 billion in investments mobilised by the EFSI;

24.  Questions whether the raised target of EUR 500 billion can be reached in the EFSI 2.0 implementation, and calls on the EIB to prove the added value of the EFSI as a financial instrument to stimulate private investment;

25.  Recalls that the underlying rationale of the EFSI, which is supported by the EU budget, unlike other current EIB financing instruments, is to provide additionality by identifying truly additional and innovative future-oriented sectors and projects with higher risk, along with new counterparts from the private sector;

26.  Observes that complementarity between the different pillars of the Investment Plan for Europe (IPE) is still incipient; acknowledges that while the EIB Group has a high degree of influence on the EIAH under Pillar 2, the Group has very limited influence on the rest of Pillar 2 (ensuring that investment finance reaches the real economy) or on Pillar 3 (improving the investment environment – regulatory reform);

27.  Highlights the importance of the additionality criteria, which entail the need to support operations that are only eligible for EFSI support when addressing clearly identified market failures or sub-optimal investment situations and that could not have been carried out to the same extent or in the same timeframe without the EFSI; requests that the EIB Group should take full advantage of its risk-bearing capacity in order to select innovative undertakings, but at the same time exhibit the potential to bring genuine added value, e.g. in the form of stable and quality jobs;

28.  Recalls that the assessment of the additionality of all EFSI-supported projects must be duly documented; regrets that the scoreboards for the approved operations are not published under EFSI 1.0; recalls that this failure to publish creates both accountability and transparency issues; emphasises the importance of transparency regarding the EFSI Scoreboard of Indicators, which is also necessary in view of the need to hold the EFSI Investment Committee accountable, and notes therefore positively that the Scoreboard of Indicators will be made public under EFSI 2.0; stresses also the need for a clearer definition of the principle of additionality in relation to activities with a higher risk than standard EIB operations, in order to ensure greater coherence and transparency in the selection of projects;

29.  Calls on the EIB to provide complete and relevant qualitative management information on the implementation of the EFSI’s stated objectives, showing their effective additionality and impact compared with benchmarks;

30.  Calls on the Bank to shed light on EFSI projects which potentially include infrastructure installations with serious environmental impact and dubious additionality, such as biorefineries, steelworks, regasification and gas storage facilities and motorways; calls on the Bank to seriously take into account statements from local authorities, stakeholder communities and civil society groups according to its due diligence procedures; recommends to the EIB, with reference to the precautionary principle, to freeze and, if necessary, withdraw funding wherever there is any scientific proof or serious risk of environmental infringements and damage to society or to local communities;

31.  Insists, for accountability purposes, on the development of results-driven investments, to be regularly assessed through the scoreboard of indicators by the Investment Committee, with a view to identifying projects that are well-targeted in terms of their effective macroeconomic impact or stimulatory effect on sustainable growth and job creation; calls for an objective overview of the additionality and added value of these projects, as well as their consistency with Union policies or other classical EIB operations;

32.  Regrets the fact that only 20 % of EFSI financing has supported projects that contribute to climate change mitigation and adaptation, whereas the EIB’s standard portfolio has attained the 25 % threshold; calls on the EIB to ensure that its maximum standards are respected in all circumstances, with a view to protecting the environment and meeting the COP21 criteria;

33.  Is concerned that at the end of 2016 EFSI investments in social infrastructure (human capital, culture and health) amounted to only 4 % (less than EUR 900 million), being the lowest supported sector by the EFSI as a whole and within the two individual windows (IIW and SMES); stresses that there is a clear and urgent need to significantly increase the share and volume of such investments;

34.  Regrets that the existing support services are not present locally in each Member State to address capacity weaknesses; believes that adequate clarification or strategic guidance should be provided for local and regional actors, particularly with regard to the EFSI’s positioning and possible combination with other Union or EIB funds; notes that cooperation between the EFSI and other sources of EU funding (COSME, Horizon 2020) should be improved in order to offer better synergies; points out that the EFSI should not be considered as merely another additional financial source, and that due care should be devoted to avoiding double targeting or double funding;

35.  Takes note of the increase in volume of the EIB’s special activities resulting from the first year and a half of the EFSI; believes that EIB special activities supported by the EFSI must deliver additionality compared to other EIB, EIF or Union financial instruments;

36.  Urges improvement of the transparency of the operations selection process and disclosure of all operational information on signed operations through the scoreboard of indicators, as well as of the accountability of operations;

37.  Asks for governance arrangements to be streamlined so as to better define the respective responsibilities of the Commission and the EIB, ensure independence, and prevent conflicts of interest on the part of the various actors participating in the decision-making process, especially the members of the EFSI Investment Committee;

38.  Welcomes the increased accountability of EFSI 2.0 to the European Parliament (including via regular reports and an EP representative on the EFSI Steering Board), as well as the increased transparency of the EFSI Scoreboard of Indicators; expects, therefore, the implementation of the publication of project assessments under the Scoreboard of Indicators, pursuant to the EFSI 2.0 regulation, in order to ensure that the EU budget funds are used only as a guarantee for projects whose nature justifies such additional public support; regrets, however, the fact that the proposal for the extension of the EFSI was accompanied by neither an impact assessment as envisaged by the better regulation guidelines nor an ex ante evaluation as required by Articles 30 and 140 of the Financial Regulation for spending programmes and financial instruments;

39.  Recommends that the annual reports indicate how the EIB has integrated the recommendations made in European Parliament resolutions, this being a practice of accountability that should be formalised;

Mapping the levers for change and value creation in the implementation of EU public policy goals

40.  Takes note of the report on EIB operations inside the EU in 2016, outlining the financing that it provided in four fundamental public policy areas, namely Innovation and Skills (19,6 % of EIB signatures in 2016 – EUR 13,1 billion), SMEs and midcaps finance (31,7 % – EUR 21,3 billion), infrastructure (27,1 % – EUR 18,1 billion), and environment (21,6 % – EUR 14,5 billion);

41.  Regrets that there is no structured information provided in the report on EIB operations inside the EU in 2016 about one of the Bank’s cross-cutting policies, i.e. economic and social cohesion; expresses its concern that for a second year in 2016 the EIB did not reach the envisaged level of 30 % for investments for cohesion (26,8 % in 2016 and 25,2 % in 2015 achieved inside the EU);

42.  Emphasises the need to include in the EIB annual reports a more detailed analysis of investment requirements by sector in the EU, in order to make it possible to identify any areas in which investment falls short of what is required for the pursuit of the EU’s priorities; believes that the EIB should assess the ability of its investment instruments to counteract such deficits;

43.  Is of the opinion that an increase in EIB lending activity could be achieved through a more efficient and strategic allocation of resources, targeting productive and sustainable investment projects with a demonstrated added value as well as better synergies with public funds, with the aim of boosting public investment and stimulating internal demand; stresses that such an increase should be accompanied by a corresponding diversification of the EIB’s product range, including a more efficient and transparent use of public-private partnerships – while maintaining public and private benefits in balance – and by other innovative solutions, in order to better address the needs of the real economy;

44.  Draws attention to the numerous calls on the EIB to catalyse and facilitate best practice dissemination in all Member States, in particular through the relevant national promotional banks, investment platforms and institutions that constitute a major tool for a coordinated EU response to the low level of investment;

45.  Regrets that the social investments amount to less than 6 % of the annual EIB portfolio; underlines that social cohesion is a key horizontal priority goal for the EIB, and insists that the Bank should take into consideration the need to reduce inequalities and disparities within the EU and to invest in the social sector and on a broader geographical scale;

Support for SMEs and midcaps

46.  Acknowledges that the trend of developing more financial instruments for SME support, as compared to classical grants, represents a policy challenge and shift in terms of transaction monitoring, fund management and level or speed of disbursements to SMEs; points out that SMEs and midcaps play a crucial role in the European economy by generating jobs and wealth and promoting innovation; underlines that SMEs represent over 90 % of businesses in the EU and employ two thirds of the active working population, and that, therefore, supporting access to finance for SMEs and midcaps must remain a key priority for the EIB; recalls that the EIB should be one of the institutions helping to reduce the financing gap faced by SMEs;

47.  Observes that the EIB’s support for SMEs accounted for approximately 33,6 % of its funding in 2016 via the European Investment Fund, mobilising EUR 36,2 billion of investment through financial intermediaries, with the aim of sustaining 3,8 million jobs;

48.  Notes the widening of the range of the InnovFin products as two new financing facilities, targeting demonstration projects in the fields of renewable energy and infectious diseases, were established; welcomes the novel operation of EUR 140 million involving a peer-to-peer lending platform linking investors with SMEs seeking finance;

49.  Calls on the EIB to work more closely with its financial intermediaries in the Member States in order to disseminate relevant information to potential beneficiaries with a view to establishing an entrepreneur-friendly environment which allows SMEs easier access to funding; emphasises the importance of the EIB in facilitating partnerships and strengthening support instruments for funding the activities of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises and for innovative start-ups; also invites the EIB to cooperate more closely with regional public institutions with a view to optimising the financing possibilities for SMEs;

50.  Stresses that the EIB needs to further develop its risk culture in order to improve its effectiveness and the complementarity between its interventions and various EU policies, especially in economically disadvantaged regions or regions that lack stability, in line with the recurrent and long-standing objective of easier access to financing for SMEs, but without compromising the principles of sound management;

51.  Stresses the need to tailor investment programmes to small-scale projects in order to ensure the participation of SMEs; believes that the EIB should contribute to bridging possible funding gaps for micro-enterprises, through an increased use of financial instruments and products such as microfinance facilities and guarantees;

52.  Highlights that access to finance and internationalisation are important hurdles that SMEs face; underlines that SMEs represent the backbone of the European economy; believes that despite it having taken the right direction, more must be done by the EIB to ensure easier and more effective access for SMEs to funding so that they can integrate into global value chains; considers that the EIB must support EU enterprises which want to do business abroad, including via the Trade Finance Facility;

Innovation and skills

53.  Underlines that investment in innovation and skills is crucial to the development of Europe’s knowledge economy and to the achievement of the Europe 2020 targets, including 3 % of GDP being spent on R&D; hopes in particular that the EIB, in cooperation with the Commission and the Member States, will fund projects that can guarantee to cover, in the short to medium term, the shortfall in skilled labour, which represents a strong obstacle to investment;

54.  Notes that total lending to innovative projects in 2016 amounted to EUR 13,5 billion, of which EUR 12,2 billion concerned first signatures, while total project investment costs corresponding to new operations were EUR 50,2 billion;

55.  Urges the EIB to ensure its support for innovative firms in their development and commercialisation of new products, processes and services as they face difficulties in obtaining financial aid from commercial banks; stresses the role of the EIB in helping to complete Europe’s digital network (e.g. fast broadband) and create a single digital market, including digital services; encourages the EIB to develop incentives aimed at promoting public and private sector investment in R&D in the fields of information and communications technology, life sciences, food, sustainable agriculture, forestry and low-carbon technologies;

56.  Welcomes the revision of the knowledge economy lending programme in the educational field, which has led to the extension of funding beyond initiatives targeted on young people so as to include vocational training and lifelong learning for all age groups;

Infrastructure investment

57.  Considers that it should be a matter of priority for the Union to implement projects with true European added value; is convinced that an innovative and effective economy needs an advanced, environment-friendly and high-quality transport system and infrastructure, and that these should be among the Union’s priorities, with a special focus on innovative multimodal infrastructure and transport solutions in sparsely populated areas;

58.  Calls on the EIB to pay greater attention to the implementation of infrastructure projects, especially in weaker regions, in order to avoid a slowdown of the economic convergence process; calls, therefore, for a reflection at EU level on public financing for measures, even of a provisional nature, that can bring about a genuine revival of public investment in infrastructures;

59.  Stresses the need for European investment policy to pay more attention to horizontal issues, particularly as regards future sustainable transport means and services, which will require the simultaneous and coherent development of alternative energy and telecommunications networks; stresses, therefore, the crucial role of the EIB in delivering the long-term financing that is required for these types of project on competitive terms;

60.  Notes the EIB’s financing activity in the area of infrastructure and transport, totalling EUR 18,1 billion in 2016, and recalls the importance of delivering a real economic, environmental and social added value to EU citizens as well as of both detailed ex ante evaluation of the projects selected and ex post assessment of the results achieved;

61.  Calls on the EIB, with regard to infrastructure operations within the EU, to invest significantly more resources for comprehensive advisory assistance to authorities at local level and to smaller municipalities at an earlier stage in the identification and pre-assessment of projects;

62.  Expresses concern with regard to the EIB’s EUR 1,5 billion loan to the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline project, which does not comply – to a varying extent in the transit countries, i.e. Albania, Greece and Italy – with the minimum environmental and social standards laid down by the Equator Principles; regrets that the EBRD has already allocated EUR 500 million in funding, and takes the view that this project is not appropriate for EIB investment and should not be considered for funding by any bank that aspires to making socially and environmentally responsible investments;

Environment and climate action

63.  Takes note of the EIB’s commitment of at least 25 % of the EU lending portfolio to low-carbon and climate-resilient growth; observes that in 2016 the total value of environment-related operations amounted to EUR 14,4 billion, of which sustainable transport operations accounted for EUR 4,9 billion, environmental protection and natural resource efficiency operations for EUR 5,0 billion, and renewable energy and energy efficiency operations for EUR 4,6 billion; notes further that the signatures for the cross-cutting objective of climate action amounted to EUR 17,5 billion;

64.  Stresses the importance of the goals set by COP21 with regard to transport in combating climate change; expresses its concern that transport represents almost a quarter of Europe’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and is the main cause of air pollution in cities, while emissions in this sector remain higher than in 1990; notes that in the period 2014-2016 the EIB funded fossil energy projects in Member States amounting to a total of EUR 5,3 billion, namely two petroleum projects, one carbon project and 27 gas-related projects, in addition to EUR 976 million through the external guarantee to fund six non-EU projects, one of which concerned carbon and five fossil gas projects; underlines that financing should favour a shift from road transport to more sustainable forms of transport;

65.  Stresses the importance of the projects planned to be financed or cofinanced by the EIB being compatible with the national climate targets linked to the implementation of COP21;

66.  Calls on the EIB to foster the financing of projects in alignment with its climate strategy and the Paris Agreement, phasing out its support for fossil fuels, in order to become a key instrument of the EU in the global joint effort to tackle climate change, and to support sustainable development and the achievement of a more competitive, secure and sustainable energy system in line with the 2030 Energy Strategy; to that end, calls on the EIB to refrain from financing projects involving heavily polluting and outdated technologies, in particular when facilitating investment in the energy sector; calls on the EIB to increase its lending to public infrastructure projects aimed at mitigating the consequences of climate change (e.g. floods) and to small-scale renewable energy projects;

67.  Calls on the EIB to further reinforce its support to the renewable energy sector, in particular to decentralised and small-scale projects;

Responding to global challenges

68.  Recalls that 10 % of the EIB’s overall lending activity is dedicated to operations outside the Union, and notes that the overall amount offered by the EIB to project promoters outside the EU has gone up since 2015; stresses, for this reason, the importance of the annual reporting by the EIB on its operations outside the Union with regard to compliance with the general principles guiding the external action of the Union, and of the EIB playing its due role in the framework of the EU’s renewed commitment to Policy Coherence for Development and on a basis of consistency with the EU’s other policies, the UN’s Agenda 2030 and the Paris Agreement, supporting education and the creation of decent jobs, ensuring full respect for human rights and labour and environmental rights, and promoting gender equality; underlines that the EIB should properly take into consideration the EU’s trade strategy, including existing and future trade agreements, in supporting EU businesses abroad;

69.  Calls on the EIB to develop a methodology, in cooperation with the EEAS and the Commission’s DG DEVCO, for measuring the impact of its lending operations outside the EU on EU development cooperation overall, specifically regarding Agenda 2030 and the impact on human rights;

70.  Takes note of the EIB’s initiatives aimed at strengthening economic resilience in the source countries of migration, and in particular its efforts to develop a powerful multiplier of EU external policy in Africa;

71.  Takes the view that the EIB must boost its capacity to take on and guarantee risks, in particular as regards projects for developing and strengthening the private sector, and those which are part of the Economic Resilience Initiative;

72.  Reiterates the need for the Court of Auditors to step up its evaluations of EIB operations benefiting from the EU budget and to apply more scrutiny to the operations under the EIB’s External Lending Mandate (ELM);

73.  Stresses the fact that the external operations of the EIB should act as a support for policy areas of high importance for the EU;

74.  Takes note that the EIB is increasing the capacity of the ACP Impact Financing Envelope and is turning it into a revolving fund, with EUR 300 million dedicated to dealing with migration directly by supporting private-sector initiatives; notes that the EIB will also make EUR 500 million available under the ACP Investment Facility to target public sector projects with a migration focus; stresses the importance of not using EIB funds for purposes of security or border control; believes, rather, that the focus should be on the sustainable development of third countries; reiterates the importance of conducting detailed human rights-related due diligence checks with regard to the projects implemented; calls on the EIB, when implementing its projects, to take any human rights violations into account and to put an end to any loans accordingly; recommends that the EIB agrees to abide by the relevant UN Human Rights Conventions by the end of 2018 in order to streamline human rights due diligence into all levels of the project cycle; calls for the development of practical guidance on the assessment of aspects related to all basic human rights and affected groups, to be used during the ex-ante assessment and ongoing monitoring on a project-by-project basis; requires an assessment from the Commission to point out the risks of human rights violations under the EU guarantee;

75.  Draws attention to the effectiveness of the Investment Facility launched in 2003 under the Cotonou Agreement, and calls for an instrument of this kind to be retained following the renegotiation in 2020 of the agreements binding the EU to its ACP partners;

76.  Calls on the EIB, with regard to its new ELM, to ensure that real added value and additionality are brought by the new priority on migration added to the previous ones, namely climate, SMEs and socio-economic infrastructure; stresses, therefore, the need to implement the newly-created Economic Resilience Initiative in an appropriate manner, supporting projects that are different from previously financed ones;

77.  Welcomes the role of the EIB in local private sector development and its support for microfinance, and recognises that its activities offer new economic and trade opportunities; underlines the need for a proper and efficient adaptation of EIB activities to current international challenges; calls for an expansion of the EIB’s ELM, with a view to increasing its role in achieving sustainable development and providing a strategic response to address the root causes of migration, and for it to take a more active part in the new private sector strategy; calls on the EIB, in this regard, to step up its involvement in projects for the infrastructure, transport and digitalisation needed to promote local and regional trade routes, and to foster the internationalisation of SMEs, thereby actively contributing to the implementation of the WTO’s Trade Facilitation Agreement; reiterates that the EIB must align its activities with the UN’s SDGs;

78.  Notes that in 2016 the EIB approved new facilities for microfinance, one for the Caribbean, one for the Pacific and two for Africa, for a total amount of EUR 110 million, and one for the Southern Neighbourhood for EUR 75 million; recalls that the EIB’s microfinance facilities and technical assistance have brought EUR 300 million to more than 1,5 million beneficiaries; calls on the EIB to include in its next report the leverage effects of these facilities together with the funds allocated through the external action financial instruments;

79.  Notes the fact that in 2016 half of all EIB lending operations under the ELM went to local financial intermediaries, with the aim of boosting microcredits; calls on the EIB to conduct a gender evaluation of the on-lending of financial intermediaries, given that microcredits are mostly directed to women entrepreneurs;

80.  Notes that the EIB is planning to set up a development subsidiary within the EIB group with the aim of becoming the EU development bank; calls on the EIB and the Commission to proceed with these preparations in the most transparent and inclusive manner, including a public consultation process;

81.  Notes that the EIB, through its lending instruments, can be an important lever for the EU’s new economic diplomacy; stresses in this respect that the EIB must take note of economic diplomacy considerations in its operations;

82.  Supports the stepping-up of partnerships between the EIB and the Member States’ development agencies, and projects carried out jointly by the EIB and other Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs), in particular when the purpose of those projects is to help meet the UN’s 2030 SDGs;

83.  Notes that in the last few years there has been a lack of foreign direct investment (FDI) support operations targeted on Asia; stresses that EU investors, and in particular SMEs, should have a greater presence on the Chinese, Indian and ASEAN markets and should benefit from a level playing field; calls on the EIB to provide direct financing to EU companies in support of outward investment, including through the ELM;

Enhancing the EIB’s corporate governance, business practices, transparency and accountability standards

84.  Believes that the linkage between impact and performance scrutiny on the one hand, and greater accountability and visibility on the other, should be enhanced, on the basis of an assurance process that is binding for all stakeholders (financial intermediaries, promoters and final beneficiaries, with thorough integrity and ‘know your customer’ checks); invites the EIB to disclose information on high-risk sub-projects and to share lessons learnt with other international multilateral development banks, notably from the exchange of information on the results of due diligence checks on corporate or tax matters or of ‘know your customer’ reviews;

85.  Recognises the importance of raising awareness at local and regional level of the availability of funding and technical assistance throughout the EU; acknowledges, moreover, that an appropriate awareness of the EIB’s involvement in project financing for various stakeholders is crucial if citizens at local level are to be aware of their right to appeal and lodge complaints with the Complaints Mechanism Office and the European Ombudsman; notes that 89 complaints were registered in 2016, of which 84 were admissible, by comparison with the 56 received in 2015;

86.  Expresses its concern over the proposed policy revision regarding the EIB Complaints Mechanism (EIB CM), and calls on the EIB to ensure in particular that the Head of the EIB CM registers all complaints duly and informs complainants of the reception of their complaint before a decision on admissibility has been taken; to ensure that the Head of the EIB CM is independent from other parts of the Bank’s governance structure and is able to take all decisions concerning admissibility of a complaint without having to consult the services of the EIB Group, also taking decisions with regard to the eligibility of the complaint for an investigation/compliance review or mediation, even if there is no agreement with the EIB services, the Inspector General or the Management Committee; to follow the examples given by the European Ombudsman for the definition of maladministration, so as to include forms of poor or failed administration such as administrative irregularities, unfairness, discrimination, abuse of power, failure to reply, refusal of information and unnecessary delay; and to ensure that the procedure is as transparent as possible, with the CM disclosing information on its procedures, operations and cases proactively, and that the recruitment procedures for the Head and staff of the CM are made more transparent;

87.  Draws attention to the concerns raised during the public consultations with regard to certain proposals for the revision of the Complaints Mechanism Office of the EIB, namely, the exclusion from the CM of cases linked to public procurement as well as of issues related to the legality of EIB policy, and the limitation of the independence of the Complaints Mechanism Office by envisaging a requirement to consult other services before assessing whether a complaint is admissible and by reducing the Office’s ability to make recommendations; strongly encourages the Management Committee to take on board these concerns;

88.  Stresses the importance of the European Ombudsman exerting public scrutiny over the EIB;

89.  Welcomes the disclosure of the minutes of the meetings of the EIB Board of Directors, and recommends that the EIB also consider disclosing non-confidential information of the meetings of the Management Committee; at project level, reiterates its request concerning the systematic disclosure of Completion Reports for EIB activities outside Europe, as well as of the 3PA and REM sheets for EIB projects; believes that the practice of disclosing the Scoreboard of Indicators, as foreseen for EFSI 2.0, should be applied to all projects implemented by the EIB; notes that such disclosure would be a major breakthrough on the transparency of EIB operations;

90.  Is deeply concerned that the Bank’s management has so far provided no response whatsoever to the specific provisions of paragraphs 75 and 76 of Parliament’s resolution of 27 April 2017 on the control of the financial activities of the EIB for 2015, and recalls the need to provide for more stringent rules on conflicts of interest and for clear, strict and transparent criteria to prevent any form of corruption; reiterates that the EIB must revise its Code of Conduct in order to make sure that its Vice-Presidents are not in charge of operations in their home Member States, since this poses a risk to the independence of the institution; is deeply concerned at the shortcomings identified in the EIB’s existing mechanisms to prevent possible conflicts of interest within its governing bodies; calls on the EIB, in this regard, in order to better prevent conflicts of interest in its governing bodies and potential ‘revolving door’ issues, to take into consideration the Ombudsman’s recommendations and to revise its Code of Conduct as soon as possible; calls on the EIB to join the interinstitutional agreement on the EU Transparency Register, as soon as the negotiations between the Commission, Parliament and the Council have been concluded;

91.  Underlines that combating all forms of harmful tax practices should remain an important priority of the EIB; calls on the EIB to swiftly apply the relevant EU legislation and standards on tax avoidance, tax havens and other related issues, and to require its clients to comply with those rules accordingly; expresses its concern at the lack of information disclosed by the EIB on ultimate beneficial ownership, especially where the financing relies on private equity funds; urges the EIB to take proactive measures and carry out increased due diligence measures where EIB projects are found to have links with jurisdictions that raise tax concerns;

92.  Insists on the need for the EIB to establish a thorough public list of selection criteria for financial intermediaries, so as to step up the EU’s commitment to combating tax abuse and to prevent more effectively the risks of corruption and infiltration by organised crime and terrorism; stresses the need to improve the project evaluation criteria in order to ensure that EU funds are not invested through entities in third countries which do not comply with international tax standards;

93.  Stresses that standards in the area of tax transparency and tax good governance should be reinforced, in particular as regards the provisions on tax avoidance; notes the adoption at the end of 2017 of the EU list of non-cooperative tax jurisdictions; calls on the EIB, in this regard, to enhance its non-transparent and uncooperative jurisdictions policy (NCJ Policy) in its ongoing review, developing a broader responsible taxation policy; calls on the EIB to demonstrate the feasibility of higher tax transparency standards by adopting a policy that goes beyond minimum legal requirements, with the EIB appointed as a guide in the field of fair taxation; stresses in particular the need to make the allocation of direct and indirect loans conditional on the publication of tax and financial data country by country, and on the sharing of beneficial ownership data for the beneficiaries and financial intermediaries involved in the financing operations, without exemptions;

94.  Positively notes the importance given by the EIB to its policy of zero tolerance of fraud, corruption and collusion; calls on the EIB to take all appropriate measures, including suspension of payments and loan disbursements, with a view to protecting the EIB´s and the EU’s financial interests whenever OLAF or criminal investigations so require, and calls further on the EIB to adapt its internal rules accordingly; underlines the need to disclose information on the contracting and subcontracting system in order to avoid any risk of fraud and corruption; stresses that the EIB website should contain a dedicated and visible space where debarred entities are listed publicly, in order to ensure a deterrent effect; underlines the importance of the EIB entering into cross-debarment networks with other multilateral lenders; calls on the EIB to harmonise its debarment policy with other multilateral lenders, such as the World Bank, which lists more than 800 individuals and firms as ‘debarred’ despite its volume of funding being approximately one half of that of the EIB;

95.  Hopes that the EIB, in line with the 2016 Commission communication, will continue to implement and improve an external strategy for effective taxation, ensuring compliance with international tax transparency standards and encouraging international country-by-country reporting; calls on the EIB to ensure a high quality of information regarding ultimate beneficiaries and to effectively prevent transactions with financial intermediaries having adverse consequences with regard to transparency, fraud, corruption, organised crime and money laundering or harmful social and environmental repercussions;

96.  Regrets that the ‘Dieselgate’ cases raised a number of questions over the fact that Volkswagen had received EIB loans through fraud and deception; asks the EIB to follow OLAF’s recommendations on taking active steps in implementation of its anti-fraud policy; underlines the secretive nature of the EIB’s handling of the case and urges the bank to disclose OLAF’s report on its Volkswagen loan, and to publish as a minimum a meaningful summary of this report;

97.  Points out that the lengthy corruption investigations concerning the scandal of the MOSE system concluded on 14 September 2017 with a judgment from the Court of Venice which sentenced two leading figures who were directly involved in the scandal to four years’ imprisonment and the confiscation of EUR 9 575 000; regrets that between 2011 and 2013 the EIB disbursed three loans to the value of EUR 1,2 billion for the implementation of the MOSE project, the last of which was granted after the national authorities had opened investigations for corruption; calls on the EIB to ensure that its zero tolerance policy towards fraud is implemented as strictly as possible and to withdraw the entirety of its funding from the MOSE project and the projects linked to it through the system of companies and beneficiaries involved in the implementation of projects in the Veneto region, with particular reference to the stretch of the A4 motorway known as Passante di Mestre, with regard to which investigations are still under way for tax fraud, corruption and infiltration by organised crime, and to the third lane of the A4 motorway in the section between Venice and Trieste; urges the EIB to conduct appropriate internal investigations concerning the selection of beneficiaries and the disbursement and management of its funds, and to publish the results;

98.  Welcomes the regular review of best banking framework and practices within the EIB Group, carried out in order to identify compliance gaps; considers that the mandates of the EIB and the EIF call for a comprehensive and regular system of risk assessment and oversight at the EIB Group level, which makes the fine-tuning of core business processes and the sharing of information related to the management of mandates crucial for the EIB’s overall accountability;

99.  Welcomes the proposals of the EIB’s Ethics and Compliance Committee in the field of corporate governance and transparency, such as the introduction of ethical matters into its remit, in addition to mechanisms to better prevent conflicts of interest in the governing bodies and potential ‘revolving doors’, the introduction of a suspension procedure for members of the management committee, and the creation of an advisory committee that will be able to deliver opinions before the formal appointment of members of the Management Committee;

100.  Stresses the importance of strengthening post-employment integrity obligations and of putting concrete sanctions in place for potential ‘revolving door’ cases between the EIB’s top management and the private sector; believes, therefore, that the ‘cooling-off period’ during which former members of the Board of Directors may not lobby EIB governance bodies or staff should be at least 12 months;

101.  Welcomes the initiation of the review of the EIB’s whistle-blowing policy, as well as the updates related to the implementation of the AML-CFT framework (anti-money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism) since its adoption by the EIB in 2014, in close relation with its ‘know your customer’ requirements for ongoing portfolios and new business activities;

Follow-up of Parliament’s recommendations

102.  Reiterates its call on the EIB to report on the state of play and status of the previous recommendations issued by Parliament in its annual resolutions, especially as regards the impact of its lending activities;

o
o   o

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

(1) OJ C 378, 9.11.2017, p. 2.
(2) OJ C 346, 21.9.2016, p. 77.
(3) OJ C 66, 21.2.2018, p. 6.
(4) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0138.
(5) OJ L 280, 27.10.2011, p. 1.
(6) OJ L 135, 8.5.2014, p. 1.
(7) OJ L 169, 1.7.2015, p. 1.


Presidential elections in Venezuela
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European Parliament resolution of 3 May 2018 on the elections in Venezuela (2018/2695(RSP))
P8_TA(2018)0199RC-B8-0225/2018

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its numerous resolutions on Venezuela, in particular those of 27 February 2014 on the situation in Venezuela(1), of 18 December 2014 on the persecution of the democratic opposition in Venezuela(2), and of 12 March 2015(3), 8 June 2016(4), 27 April 2017(5) and 8 February 2018(6) on the situation in Venezuela,

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

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

–  having regard to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court,

–  having regard to the declarations of ‘El Grupo de Lima’ of 23 January 2018 and 14 February 2018,

–  having regard to the Council conclusions of 13 November 2017 and 22 January 2018,

–  having regard to the declaration of 26 January 2018 by the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (VP/HR) on the latest developments in Venezuela,

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

–  having regard to the declaration of 19 April 2018 by the VP/HR on the situation in Venezuela,

–  having regard to the declaration of 20 April 2018 by the Organisation of American States (OAS) on the worsening humanitarian situation in Venezuela,

–  having regard to the statement of 23 April 2018 by its Democracy Support and Election Coordination Group,

–  having regard to Rule 123(2) and (4) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.  whereas the early presidential elections called by the internationally non-recognised National Constituent Assembly and endorsed by the National Electoral Council (CNE) are now to be held on 20 May 2018; whereas the CNE decided to limit participation in simultaneous local and regional elections to those parties that present candidates for the presidential elections;

B.  whereas on 25 January 2018 the Venezuelan Supreme Court decided to exclude the Mesa de la Unidad Democrática (MUD), a coalition of opposition parties, from the presidential elections, which represents a serious breach of the principle of equitable elections, prohibiting opposition candidates from competing freely and on equal terms in the elections;

C.  whereas the conditions for credible, transparent and inclusive elections are not met, as demonstrated during the talks in Santo Domingo where the Venezuelan Government and the opposition failed to reach an agreement; whereas international democratic bodies, including the European Union, declined the invitation to observe such an illegitimate electoral process;

D.  whereas on 13 November 2017 the Council of the European Union decided to adopt an arms embargo against Venezuela and a ban on related material that might be used for internal repression; whereas on 22 January 2018 the Council of the European Union decided, by unanimity, to impose sanctions against seven Venezuelan individuals holding official positions in the form of restrictive measures such as travel bans and asset freezes, in response to non-compliance with democratic principles;

E.  whereas the recent developments in Venezuela are causing further polarisation and deterioration of the situation of human rights, democracy and the rule of law; whereas Venezuela is facing an unprecedented political, social, economic and humanitarian crisis, resulting in many deaths;

1.  Strongly rejects the decision by the internationally non-recognised National Constituent Assembly endorsed by the National Electoral Council to hold the early presidential elections, currently scheduled for 20 May 2018; calls for their immediate suspension until the necessary conditions for credible, transparent and inclusive elections are met;

2.  Insists that only elections based on a viable electoral calendar, agreed in the context of the national dialogue with all relevant actors and political parties, and respecting equal, fair and transparent conditions of participation – including the lifting of bans on political opponents, the freeing of political prisoners, the balanced composition of an impartial National Electoral Council and the existence of sufficient guarantees, including monitoring by independent international observers – will be recognised by the EU;

3.  Calls for elections fulfilling all international standards, fully in line with OAS criteria, to be called immediately; stresses that the legitimate government resulting from such elections must urgently address the current economic and social crisis in Venezuela and work towards the national reconciliation of the country;

4.  Calls on both the government and opposition to adopt without further delay a macroeconomic stabilisation plan together with the international financial institutions to address the numerous challenges the country is faced with, such as the humanitarian crisis caused by hyperinflation and shortages of basic goods and medicines; reiterates its call on the Venezuelan Government to allow humanitarian aid into the country;

5.  Recalls that under the current circumstances, the European Parliament cannot recognise the elections resulting from this illegitimate process; in this regard calls on the European Union, OAS and ‘El Grupo de Lima’ to act with united and coordinated voice;

6.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the Government and National Assembly of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, the Euro-Latin American Parliamentary Assembly and the Secretary-General of the Organisation of American States.

(1) OJ C 285, 29.8.2017, p. 145.
(2) OJ C 294, 12.8.2016, p. 21.
(3) OJ C 316, 30.8.2016, p. 190.
(4) OJ C 86, 6.3.2018, p. 101.
(5) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0200.
(6) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2018)0041.


Cohesion policy and thematic objective ‘promoting sustainable transport and removing bottlenecks in key network infrastructures’
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European Parliament resolution of 3 May 2018 on the implementation of cohesion policy and the thematic objective of ‘promoting sustainable transport and removing bottlenecks in key network infrastructures’ – Article 9(7) of the Common Provisions Regulation (2017/2285(INI))
P8_TA(2018)0200A8-0136/2018

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to cohesion policy and the thematic objective of ‘promoting sustainable transport and removing bottlenecks in key network infrastructures’ – Article 9(7) of the Common Provisions Regulation (EU) No 1303/2013(1),

–  having regard to the Common Provisions Regulation, Article 37 on financial instruments supported by ESI Funds,

–  having regard to the European Regional Development Fund Regulation (EU) No 1301/2013, Article 5(7) on promoting sustainable transport and removing bottlenecks in key network infrastructures(2),

–  having regard to the Cohesion Fund Regulation (EU) No 1300/2013, Article 4(d) on promoting sustainable transport and removing bottlenecks in key network infrastructures(3),

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 1315/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 December 2013 on Union guidelines for the development of the trans-European transport network and repealing Decision No 661/2010/EU(4),

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 1316/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 December 2013 establishing the Connecting Europe Facility, amending Regulation (EU) No 913/2010 and repealing Regulations (EC) No 680/2007 and (EC) No 67/2010(5),

–  having regard to Decision No 1386/2013/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 November 2013 on a General Union Environment Action Programme to 2020 ‘Living well, within the limits of our planet’(6),

–  having regard its resolution of 13 March 2018 on lagging regions in the EU(7),

–  having regard to its resolution of 6 July 2017 on promoting cohesion and development in the outermost regions of the EU: implementation of Article 349 of the TFEU(8),

–  having regard to its resolution of 18 May 2017 on the right funding mix for Europe’s regions: balancing financial instruments and grants in EU cohesion policy(9),

–  having regard to its resolution of 9 September 2015 on the implementation of the 2011 White Paper on Transport: taking stock and the way forward towards sustainable mobility(10),

–  having regard to its resolution of 22 April 2009 on the Green Paper on the future of TEN-T policy(11),

–  having regard to the Commission’s Seventh Report on economic, social and territorial cohesion of 9 October 2017 entitled ‘My Region, My Europe, Our Future’ (COM(2017)0583),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 6 February 2018 entitled ‘A credible enlargement perspective for and enhanced EU engagement with the Western Balkans’ (COM(2018)0065),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 24 October 2017 entitled ‘A stronger and renewed strategic partnership with the EU’s outermost regions’ (COM(2017)0623),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 20 September 2017 entitled ‘Boosting growth and cohesion in EU border regions’ (COM(2017)0534),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 17 December 2013 entitled ‘Together towards competitive and resource-efficient urban mobility’ (COM(2013)0913),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 8 March 2011 entitled ‘A Roadmap for moving to a competitive low carbon economy in 2050’ (COM(2011)0112),

–  having regard to the Commission White Paper of 28 March 2011 entitled ‘Roadmap to a Single European Transport Area – Towards a competitive and resource efficient transport system’ (COM(2011)0144),

–  having regard to the Commission Green Paper of 4 February 2009 entitled ‘TEN-T: A policy review – Towards a better integrated Transeuropean transport network at the service of the common transport policy’ (COM(2009)0044),

–  having regard to Commission synthesis report of August 2016 entitled ‘Work Package 1: Ex post evaluation of Cohesion Policy programmes 2007-2013, focusing on the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the Cohesion Fund (CF)’,

–  having regard to Commission synthesis report of June 2016 entitled ‘Regional development trends in the EU – Work Package 1: Ex post evaluation of Cohesion Policy programmes 2007-2013, focusing on the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the Cohesion Fund (CF)’,

–  having regard to Commission final report of May 2016 entitled ‘Work Package 5: Ex post evaluation of Cohesion Policy programmes 2007-2013, focusing on the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the Cohesion Fund (CF)’,

–  having regard to Commission staff working document of 10 April 2017 entitled ‘Competitiveness in low-income and low-growth regions: The lagging regions report’ (SWD(2017)0132),

–  having regard to Commission working document of 4 May 2010 entitled ‘Consultation on the future trans-European transport network policy’ (COM(2010)0212),

–  having regard to the European Environment Agency report entitled ‘Approximated European Union greenhouse gas inventory: Proxy GHG emission estimates for 2016’,

–  having regard to the study entitled ‘The world is changing, transport, too’, commissioned by Parliament’s Directorate-General for Internal Policies, Policy Department B: Structural and Cohesion Policies, March 2016,

–  having regard to the study entitled ‘The future of the EU’s transport infrastructure’, commissioned by Parliament’s Directorate-General for Internal Policies, Policy Department B: Structural and Cohesion Policies, January 2010,

–  having regard to the Eurostat statistical book of 2016 entitled ‘Energy, transport and environment indicators – 2016 edition’,

–  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 Regional Development and the opinion of the Committee on Transport and Tourism (A8-0136/2018),

A.  whereas thematic concentration, aimed at increasing the effectiveness of the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESI Funds) and supporting regions’ efforts towards implementing the Europe 2020 strategy, has purposely focused investments under thematic objective 7 on improving the quality of transport infrastructure, including the efficient use of existing infrastructure;

B.  whereas the CF and the ERDF provide support for the development of both the TEN-T network and regional and local transport infrastructure not located on the TEN-T, in particular in less developed Member States and regions where considerable effort is still needed to close missing links, remove bottlenecks and modernise rolling stock;

C.  whereas the transport sector and the infrastructure for that sector are central and essential to the development of any country, as well as to the wellbeing of the Member States’ populations, which is why the transport sector remains a key investment area contributing to growth, competitiveness and development by boosting the economic potential of every EU region, thereby furthering economic and social cohesion, supporting the internal market and by so doing facilitating cohesion, integration and social and economic inclusion, countering imbalances between regions, facilitating access to services and training in the most remote regions currently at risk of depopulation, and strengthening business start-up and development networks;

D.  whereas in the 2007-2013 period, EUR 81 billion, or almost one third (31 %) of the ESI Funds was invested in transport infrastructure; whereas the strongest positive impact of EU transport infrastructure investment is particularly and more specifically visible in Central and Eastern Europe, to which 69 % of the total transport funding was allocated;

E.  whereas the 2014-2020 Multiannual Financial Framework is marked by increased ESI Funds and Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) budgets; whereas, despite the adverse effects of the recent economic and financial crisis and the delayed implementation of the programming period, there is no major impact on transport investments; whereas EU transport infrastructure investments are one of the policies that provide the highest EU added value due to the spill-over effects within, inter alia, the single market, which effectively make all Member States net beneficiaries of the investment;

F.  whereas success stories involving road, rail and port projects backed by the EU budget contribute to the economy, growth, industry, export, tourism, trade, job creation, the revival of regions and reversal of depopulation trends; whereas there are examples of EU added value such as the modernisation of railway line E30/C-E30 from Kraków to Rzeszow in Poland, the Sofia to Plovdiv railway in Bulgaria, the Leipzig City Rail Tunnel (Modules 5 and 6) in Germany, the track modernisation from Votice to Benešov u Prahy in the Czech Republic, the reconstruction of Ülemiste Junction in Tallinn, Estonia, the rehabilitation of national road DN6 from Alexandria to Craiova in Romania, the Madrid to Valencia-Murcia high‑speed railway in Spain, the completion of Trakia motorway from Sofia to the Black Sea port of Burgas, Budapest Metro Line 4 in Hungary, the Sofia Metro Lines in Bulgaria and many more;

G.  whereas TEN-T and transport infrastructure such as road, (high-speed) rail investments, waterways and air are EU priorities, and if European investments were to lag behind, increased FDI could fill the gap while relocating profits, taxes and job opportunities outside of the EU, perhaps increasing the dependence and macroeconomic instability of the regions; whereas such a process would undermine the Union’s regional presence and policies in the long term and would lead to fragmentation and divergence;

H.  whereas the development of the Core Network Corridors includes a number of integral components such as alternative fuels infrastructure (charging equipment) and intelligent and innovative transport systems, and plays an essential role as an enabler of the decarbonisation of the transport system as a whole;

I.  whereas smart, future-proof, sustainable and fully interconnected transport, energy and digital networks are a necessary condition for the completion and smooth operation of the European single market and for linking Europe with the world market; whereas these are genuine arteries for European economic productivity growth, territorial cohesion and the wellbeing of its citizens;

J.  whereas a more integrated approach to investments in transport infrastructure will remove bottlenecks, improve multimodal connectivity and increase investments in shifts from road to rail, as well as in environmentally friendly vehicles such as, for example electric vehicles, as well as rail and waterways; whereas this will lead towards energy diversification in transport and greener transport networks, thereby reducing greenhouse gas emissions, improving air quality, and stimulating further actions to fight climate change;

K.  whereas transport is an important building block in the EU’s energy-climate policy, and whereas the EU’s targets for the minimum share of renewable energy and for reducing greenhouse gas emissions cannot be reached without a significant contribution from transport;

1.  Underlines that the CEF, the CF and the ERDF should remain the core EU sources for transport infrastructure investments under the thematic objective of ‘promoting sustainable transport and removing bottlenecks in key network infrastructures’ in the next programming period; proposes that, due to the high European added value and the extensive spill-over effects generated, these funding sources should remain available and provide balanced coverage for all EU Member States and regions in order to contribute to the implementation of EU cohesion policy;

2.  Notes that the intervention logic behind EU transport infrastructure investment should remain a well-balanced construction of centrally managed and shared management sources in order to address policy and funding needs; recalls that the CEF aims to address centrally the EU-wide priority of core TEN-T corridors, including safety, technological innovation and environmental aspects; recalls also that the ERDF and CF have a strong regional dimension that responds to local demand (urban and peri-urban areas) and regional specifics; points out that they support the connectivity to TEN-T and mobility through secondary and tertiary nodes and multimodal terminals (comprehensive TEN-T network); underlines, in this context, that the relevant budgetary envelopes for the three funding sources need to be strengthened in a balanced manner in order to avoid asymmetric distribution of investment between the levels; calls on the Commission to facilitate simplified, timely and flexible procedures for the transferability of resources between regions, operational programmes and programme axes under ESI Funds in order to adequately respond to the changing economic reality and regional demand;

3.  Considers that the role of additional sources such as the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) and financial instruments needs to be defined in view of their complementarity to the ERDF and CF and their additionality to EIB lending operations; notes that the 2017 CEF Transport Blending Call has also been designed to strengthen those synergies, but also the exchange of best practices between Member States and that further support for capacity is needed; highlights in this regard that EFSI should serve as a platform for public-private partnerships (PPPs) in matching financial instruments to private investment and to national/regional financing at project level; notes that bankable infrastructure projects should primarily be supported by loans, EU guarantees or blending, in addition to ERDF, CF or CEF funding; believes, however, that grants should continue to be the main financial source of investment for funding sustainable public transport;

4.  Notes that infrastructure requires objective ex ante quantification of demand and future needs prior to setting the budget and the delivery methods; underlines that it should be possible within these key network infrastructure objectives for the ERDF and CF eligibility criteria to consider existing demand at an appropriate territorial level; notes also that cross‑European, regional and local transport network modelling can be effective in demonstrating where investment would best deliver European added value;

5.  Calls on the Commission, with the aim of promoting sustainable transport and removing bottlenecks in key network infrastructures, to draw up a checklist of eligibility criteria, which better expresses local and regional needs concerning transport infrastructure, in order to help determine the overall transport envelope, the investments needed, and the priorities to be set; notes the importance of taking as a basis the data from the EU Transport Scoreboard, which is of high quality, reliable, up‑to‑date, structured and available; notes, furthermore, that this checklist can include issues such as multimodal connectivity, local and regional specifics, the availability of alternative modes of transport, road and rail safety, and environmental impact;

6.  Notes the need for more integrated investment in basic transport infrastructures in less developed regions, as well as in mountainous, remote, depopulated or outermost regions with low accessibility to be targeted more intensively by ERDF, CEF and CF transport infrastructure investments after EU added value has been provided by an adequate cost-benefit analysis, and the need to improve work on multimodal connectivity; emphasises that improving accessibility in these regions is a precondition for economic development; calls on the Commission and the Member States – via a public consultation prior to project implementation – to encourage more active public sector involvement in transport solutions at national, regional but also at local/urban and rural level with the aim of developing optimal transport investments;

7.  Notes that sustainable innovations in transport require synergies and additionality between the three main instruments – ESI Funds, CEF and Horizon 2020 as well as its successor;

8.  Calls for ERDF support to European Territorial Cooperation to be strengthened through additional resources, focusing on key sustainable transport infrastructure investments (such as cross-border waterways, ports, bridges, railways, interconnecting transport modes and terminals, etc.); understands that the focus should be on connectivity in cross-border regions, including EU external borders, advisory assistance and capacity building at project level; calls for barriers to be dismantled in order to facilitate investments, and notably cross-border investments (in waterways, rail and road transport) and access to external markets;

9.  Calls for the closing of the transport infrastructure gaps with the Western Balkans in relation to integrated transport projects by focusing on further investment in connectivity and on tackling transport bottlenecks, particularly in view of the Commission’s communication on the European perspective for the Western Balkans; recalls, in this context, the importance of European Territorial Cooperation and the macro-regional strategies for integrated transport projects, while taking note of the need to better coordinate transport plans and projects with the aim of closing transport gaps, e.g. with the Western Balkans; further recalls in this context that seaports and waterways are very often cross-border entities and should benefit from the same co-financing rate as cross-border rail and road projects;

10.  Emphasises the need to integrate climate protection into cohesion policy in relation to the sustainable transport objective, hence pursuing the EU’s objectives to reduce CO2 emissions; calls on the Commission to require the Member States to integrate EU environmental legislation into the process of adopting and planning projects eligible for funding, particularly Natura 2000, strategic environmental assessments, the environmental impact assessment, air quality, the Water Framework Directive, the Habitats and Birds Directives, and the European Environmental Agency’s Transport and Environment Reporting Mechanism (TERM);

11.  Emphasises that more support should be given to promoting smart traffic management, including through digitalisation, by making more efficient use of existing infrastructure and redirecting towards off-peak times;

12.  Calls for an adequate and ambitious common European transport policy based on a funding framework that is integrated and coordinated with the EU transport instruments; considers that thematic concentration should be preserved in order to permit simplification and synergies between different funding sources at project level; proposes the creation of a single set of rules for all financing sources related to all thematic objectives; considers it necessary to streamline, standardise and accelerate public procurement and state aid compliance procedures;

13.  Invites the Commission and the Member States to continue the co-financing of projects in the next programming period in accordance with the ‘use it or lose it’ principle;

14.  Welcomes the work of the Joint Assistance to Support Projects in European Regions (JASPERS), the European Public-Private Partnership Expertise Centre (EPEC) and the European Investment Advisory Hub (EIAH); expects, however, that the transport infrastructure operations of the EIB Group within the EU devote significantly more resources to providing comprehensive advisory assistance to local, regional and national authorities at an earlier stage in the identification and pre-assessment of projects with EU added value;

15.  Calls on the Commission, in the framework of the new Regulation(s) on post-2020 cohesion policy, to propose a greater earmarking of the funds available for cities to bid jointly for infrastructure or technologies that would contribute to decarbonising urban transport and reducing air pollution from road vehicles;

16.  Supports the allocation of adequate resources for research, programmes and projects promoting road safety in Europe, in line with the Valletta Declaration on Road Safety;

17.  Stresses the need to ensure that resources are made available to support sustainable urban mobility, the development of intelligent transport systems, projects for cyclists and pedestrians and improved accessibility to transport for persons with a disability;

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

(1) OJ L 347, 20.12.2013, p. 320.
(2) OJ L 347, 20.12.2013, p. 289.
(3) OJ L 347, 20.12.2013, p. 281.
(4) OJ L 348, 20.12.2013, p. 1.
(5) OJ L 348, 20.12.2013, p. 129.
(6) OJ L 354, 28.12.2013, p. 171.
(7) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2018)0067.
(8) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0316.
(9) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0222.
(10) OJ C 316, 22.9.2017, p. 155.
(11) OJ C 184 E, 8.7.2010, p. 35.


Protection of children in migration
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European Parliament resolution of 3 May 2018 on the protection of children in migration (2018/2666(RSP))
P8_TA(2018)0201B8-0218/2018

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 12 April 2017 on the protection of children in migration (COM(2017)0211),

–  having regard to the Council conclusions of 8 June 2017 on the protection of children in migration,

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

–  having regard to the resolution adopted by the UN General Assembly on 19 September 2016, the ‘New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants’(1),

–  having regard to paragraph 44 of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child’s General Comment No 21 (2017) on children in street situations of 21 June 2017(2),

–  having regard to the EU Guidelines of 6 March 2017 for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of the Child: Leave no child behind,

–  having regard to its resolution of 27 November 2014 on the 25th anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child(3),

–  having regard to its resolution of 12 April 2016 on the situation in the Mediterranean and the need for a holistic EU approach to migration(4),

–  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(5),

–  having regard to the judgement of the Court of Justice of the European Union of 12 April 2018 in case C-550/16, A and S v Staatssecretaris van Veiligheid en Justitie(6),

–  having regard to the question to the Commission on the protection of children in migration (O-000031/2018 – B8‑0016/2018),

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

A.  whereas according to UNICEF, there are an estimated 5,4 million migrant children living in Europe(7); whereas according to the latest figures from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), 32 039 children arrived in Greece, Italy, Spain and Bulgaria in 2017; whereas 46 % of these were unaccompanied or separated children (UASC), while the remaining 54 % were accompanied by their parents or other caregivers; whereas as of 1 September 2016, 821 children were reported as held in detention in nine Member States; whereas the majority of Member States neither provide nor systematically collect data on children in immigration detention(8);

B.  whereas one year on since its publication on 12 April 2017, Member States are still facing challenges implementing the recommendations of the Commission communication on the protection of children in migration;

C.  whereas a lack of reliable information, and lengthy family reunification and guardian appointment procedures, together with the fear of being detained, sent back or transferred, is resulting in children absconding, leaving them exposed them to trafficking, violence and exploitation;

D.  whereas the lack of child protection services and activities for children at reception sites has a detrimental impact on children’s mental health;

E.  whereas the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child require that the ‘best interests of the child’ be the primary consideration of all actions affecting children;

F.  whereas according to recent comparative research(9), Member States are integrating child asylum seekers into schools at different speeds, and in some cases after more than three months from the lodging of the asylum application, with older children facing particular problems;

G.  whereas according to a 2016 Asylum Information Database Report, access to asylum procedures is often problematic and can lead to further significant delays(10);

H.  whereas some Member States still face challenges in age assessments and in protecting children who do not apply for asylum;

I.  whereas a recent report by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) on arrivals of sexually exploited migrants estimates that 80 % of girls arriving from Nigeria through the Central Mediterranean route – whose numbers have soared from 1 454 in 2014 to 11 009 in 2016 – are the potential victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation; whereas Member States are encountering difficulties in identifying and supporting girl victims of trafficking and sexual exploitation;

J.  whereas childhood statelessness poses serious human rights challenges, and hence delays the process for determining the status of children in the European Union, denying children access to basic services and rights;

1.  Underlines the fact that all children, irrespective of their migration or refugee status, are first and foremost entitled to all the rights enshrined in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child;

2.  Strongly believes that the Commission should assist Member States in adopting and properly implementing a holistic rights-based approach in all child-related policies;

3.  Stresses the importance of building an individual plan based on the needs and other specific vulnerabilities of each child, taking into account the fact that children’s quality of life and well-being also require early integration, a community support system and having the chance to fulfil their full potential; takes the view that such an approach has also proven effective in preventing children from going missing;

4.  Calls on the Member States to implement the principle of the best interests of the child for all decisions concerning children, regardless of their status;

5.  Stresses that all the necessary information about children’s rights, procedures and opportunities for protection should be available to children in a child-friendly and gender-sensitive manner and in a language they understand; calls on the European Asylum Support Office to assist Member States in producing adequate reception material to inform children;

6.  Urges the Member States to speed up procedures for appointing guardians or temporary guardians for unaccompanied children upon their arrival;

7.  Urges the Member States to ensure that all children have access to child protection officers upon their arrival, including in hotspots and facilities hosting children and at border-entry points;

8.  Calls on the Member States to guarantee that everyone, and unaccompanied children in particular, has access to dignified accommodation and healthcare, and to ensure full access to formal and inclusive education under the same conditions as national children, including preparatory measures such as language classes, in order to ensure that children integrate into the host societies for the entire duration of their presence in the territory of the Member State;

9.  Recalls that unaccompanied children should be hosted in separate facilities from adults in order to avoid any risk of violence and sexual abuse;

10.  Calls for the relocation of the remaining unaccompanied children from Greece and Italy who are eligible under the EU relocation decisions to be prioritised; calls for structures to be put in place to continue relocating children from arrival Member States when this is in their best interest;

11.  Acknowledges the essential role played by local and regional authorities, which are at the forefront of the reception and integration of migrant children, despite limited resources; calls on the Member States to build capacity and allocate adequate resources for the reception of migrant children, in particular unaccompanied children;

12.  Calls on the Member States to allocate adequate and continued funding and support to local and regional authorities, and to ensure access to European funding, such as the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF);

13.  Urges the Member States to proceed with all pending family reunification procedures without further delay;

14.  Emphasises that children must not be detained for immigration purposes and calls on the Member States to accommodate all children and families with children in non-custodial, community-based placements while their immigration status is processed;

15.  Takes the view that the Commission should enact infringement procedures against Member States in instances of protracted and systematic immigration detention of children and their families, so as to ensure compliance with children’s fundamental rights;

16.  Stresses the need for the Member States to urgently invest in psychological and psychiatric support and rehabilitation for the purposes of addressing children’s mental health issues;

17.  Underlines the importance of establishing a robust identification and registration system based on the best interests of the child, in order to ensure that children enter and stay in national protection systems, with a child-focused approach throughout the entire procedure, in full compliance with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child; emphasises that Member States shall not use coercion for the purposes of taking children’s biometric data;

18.  Calls on the Member States to share best practices on age assessment procedures with a view to setting high standards for the age assessment process across the EU; stresses that medical examinations on children should be carried out in a manner that is not intrusive and respects children’s dignity;

19.  Calls on the Member States, furthermore, to step up efforts and cross-border cooperation among law-enforcement and child-protection authorities to find and protect missing children, while ensuring that the best interests of the child are always a primary consideration;

20.  Deplores the continued and widespread phenomenon of childhood statelessness; calls for the EU and its Member States to ensure that childhood statelessness is adequately addressed in national laws in full compliance with Article 7 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child;

21.  Acknowledges the progress made by the Member States and the Commission on the EU Guardianship Network and calls on the Member States to support it;

22.  Stresses that all actors working with children must not have a verified criminal record, especially with regard to any child-related crimes or offences; calls on the Member States to provide continuous and appropriate training on the rights and needs of unaccompanied minors, including on any applicable child safeguarding standards;

23.  Calls on the Member States to step up efforts, including cross-border cooperation, to identify child victims of trafficking, abuse and all forms of exploitation and to ensure equal access to victim support services for all child victims; recognises that there is a particular issue regarding the exploitation of girls for prostitution;

24.  Stresses that the creation of new safe and legal routes would enable the Union and the Member States to better address protection needs, particularly for children, and to undermine the business model of smugglers;

25.  Recognises the humanitarian contribution made by a number of national and European NGOs, including those carrying out search and rescue operations, towards achieving the best interests of children;

26.  Calls on the Member States, as a matter of urgency, to step up efforts to jointly tackle various forms of organised crime, including child trafficking, to combat impunity, and to ensure that the perpetrators of such crimes, be they EU or non-EU nationals, are swiftly prosecuted;

27.  Believes that the rights of children in migration should be prioritised in the post-2020 budget period, in the spirit of the 2017 Commission communication on the protection of children in migration, the Sustainable Development Goals, and the Commission toolkit on the use of EU funds for the integration of people with a migrant background;

28.  Calls on the Member States to increase cross-border cooperation, information-sharing and coordination among different services within the Member States, in order to fill the gaps and to ensure that child protection systems are adequate and not fragmented;

29.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, and the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.

(1) UN Resolution A/RES/71/1, http://www.un.org/en/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=A/RES/71/1
(2) https://www.streetchildrenresources.org/resources/general-comment-no-21-2017-on-children-in-street-situations/
(3) OJ C 289, 9.8.2016, p. 57.
(4) OJ C 58, 15.2.2018, p. 9.
(5) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0329.
(6) ECLI:EU:C:2018:248.
(7) https://www.unicef.org/publications/files/Uprooted_growing_crisis_for_refugee_and_migrant_children.pdf
(8) http://fra.europa.eu/en/publication/2017/child-migrant-detention
(9) #Backtoschool’ by the Global Progressive Forum, Migration Policy Group and the SIRIUS European Policy network, www.globalprogressiveforum.org/backtoschool
(10) 2016 AIDA report (p. 3).


A global ban on animal testing for cosmetics
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European Parliament resolution of 3 May 2018 on a global ban to end animal testing for cosmetics (2017/2922(RSP))
P8_TA(2018)0202B8-0217/2018

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to Regulation (EC) No 1223/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 30 November 2009 on cosmetic products(1) (‘Cosmetics Regulation’),

–  having regard to Article 13 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 11 March 2013 on the animal testing and marketing ban and on the state of play in relation to alternative methods in the field of cosmetics (COM(2013)0135),

–  having regard to the Commission report of 19 September 2016 on the development, validation and legal acceptance of methods alternative to animal testing in the field of cosmetics (2013-2015) (COM(2016)0599),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 3 June 2015 on the European Citizens’ Initiative ‘Stop Vivisection’ (C(2015)3773),

–  having regard to the judgment of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) of 21 September 2016 in Case C-592/14(2),

–  having regard to the Special Eurobarometer 442 survey of March 2016 entitled ‘Attitudes of Europeans towards Animal Welfare’,

–  having regard to the study of January 2017 entitled ‘Animal Welfare in the European Union’, commissioned at the request of the Committee on Petitions,

–  having regard to the question to the Council on a global ban on animal testing for cosmetics (O-000040/2018 – B8-0017/2018),

–  having regard to the question to the Commission on a global ban on animal testing for cosmetics (O-000041/2018 – B8-0018/2018),

–  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 the Cosmetics Regulation lays down the conditions for the marketing of cosmetic products and ingredients in the EU and aims to achieve an internal market for cosmetic products while ensuring a high level of human health protection;

B.  whereas Article 13 TFEU states that when formulating and implementing the Union’s policies, in particular concerning its internal market, full regard should be paid to the welfare requirements of animals, since animals are sentient beings;

C.  whereas cosmetics are an integral part of EU citizens’ everyday lives and cover a wide range of products, from make-up and deodorant to products for bathing, showering, sunbathing, hair, skin and nail care, shaving and oral hygiene;

D.  whereas the EU has undertaken to promote animal welfare while protecting human health and the environment;

E.  whereas to ensure the safety of cosmetics, Article 10 of the Cosmetics Regulation states that a safety assessment must be carried out and a safety report drawn up for every cosmetic product;

F.  whereas Article 11 of the Cosmetics Regulation requires a product information file to be maintained for every product placed on the market, to include data on any animal testing performed relating to the development or safety assessment of the cosmetic product or its ingredients;

G.  whereas animal testing of finished cosmetic products and cosmetic ingredients has been prohibited in the EU since September 2004 and March 2009 respectively (‘testing ban’);

H.  whereas the marketing of finished cosmetic products and cosmetic ingredients tested on animals has been prohibited in the EU since March 2009, with the exception of repeated-dose toxicity, reproductive toxicity and toxicokinetics; whereas for these specific complex health effects, the marketing ban has applied since March 2013, irrespective of the availability of alternative non-animal tests (‘marketing ban’);

I.  whereas most of the ingredients present in cosmetic products are also used in many other consumer and industrial products, such as pharmaceuticals, detergents and other chemicals, and food; whereas these ingredients may have been tested on animals under the relevant legal framework, such as the REACH Regulation(3), where there was no alternative;

J.  whereas according to the Special Eurobarometer 442 survey of March 2016, 89 % of EU citizens agree that the EU should do more to promote a greater awareness of the importance of animal welfare internationally and 90 % of EU citizens agree that it is important to establish high animal welfare standards that are recognised across the world;

K.  whereas Parliament receives numerous petitions from citizens exercising their right under Articles 24 and 227 TFEU and Article 44 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, calling for an end to animal testing in Europe and worldwide and for the establishment of international animal welfare standards;

L.  whereas there is public demand for the adoption of a new legislative framework to eliminate animal testing progressively;

M.  whereas in its judgement of 21 September 2016 in Case C-592/14, the CJEU confirmed that the placing on the Union market of cosmetic products containing some ingredients that have been tested on animals outside the EU, in order to market those products in third countries, may be prohibited if the data resulting from that testing is used to prove the safety of the products concerned for the purposes of placing them on the EU market;

N.  whereas loopholes enable cosmetic products that have been tested on animals outside the EU to be placed on the EU market and the products to be re-tested in the EU using alternatives to animal testing, which is in breach of the spirit of the EU legislation;

O.  whereas the EU is a key player at the United Nations; whereas the EU institutions and the Member States must remain committed to a global order based on international law and multilateral cooperation;

P.  whereas the EU should do more to promote high animal welfare standards in its external relations;

Lessons from the landmark EU ban on animal testing for cosmetics

1.  Notes that Europe has a thriving and innovative cosmetics sector that provides around two million jobs, and is the largest market for cosmetics products in the world; stresses that the EU ban on animal testing has not jeopardised the sector’s development;

2.  Observes that in Europe the degree of compliance with the testing and marketing bans in place is very high; stresses, however, that a lack of complete and reliable documentation in the product information file with regard to cosmetics imported into the EU from third countries where animal testing is still required remains a serious issue that needs to be tackled as a matter of priority;

3.  Believes that the EU’s landmark ban on animal testing for cosmetics sent a strong signal to the world about the value it attaches to animal protection and has successfully shown that the phasing-out of animal testing for cosmetics is possible;

4.  Recalls that a political choice has been made in Europe to implement the ban irrespective of the full availability of alternative methods to animal testing; believes that the European example shows that the absence of alternatives to animal testing for some endpoints is not an argument against placing a global ban on animal testing for cosmetics;

5.  Reiterates that animal testing can no longer be justified for cosmetics and asks EU and national public authorities to uphold the public’s opposition to cosmetics testing and support the advancement of innovative, humane testing methods;

6.  Asks regulatory authorities and companies to set up a monitoring system open to regular, independent audits to ensure industry suppliers comply with a full ban;

Impact of the ban on the development of alternative methods

7.  Recalls that the animal testing ban has led to increased research efforts to develop alternative testing methods, with effects going far beyond the cosmetics sector; notes that significant progress has also been made on the validation and regulatory acceptance of alternative methods;

8.  Calls on the Commission, the Council and the Member States to make sufficient medium- to long-term funding available for the fast development, validation and introduction of alternative testing methods for the full replacement of animal testing for key toxicological endpoints such as carcinogenicity, reproduction toxicity and repeated dose toxicity(4);

9.  Stresses the need for a sustained training and education effort to ensure proper knowledge of alternatives and processes in laboratories and among competent authorities;

10.  Points out that academic institutions have an important role to play in terms of promoting alternatives to animal testing in scientific disciplines and disseminating new knowledge and practices, which are available but not always widely used;

11.  Highlights the need to work within international structures in order to expedite the validation and acceptance of alternative methods and provide third countries, in which scientists may be unaware of alternative methods and testing facilities may lack the necessary research infrastructure, with knowledge transfer and financial support;

12.  Points out that the EU has promoted international collaboration on alternative methods under the European Partnership for Alternative Approaches to Animal Testing (EPAA) and has been involved in a number of other relevant international processes, such as the International Cooperation on Cosmetics Regulation (ICCR) and the International Cooperation on Alternative Test Methods (ICATM); notes that such cooperation is crucial;

International situation

13.  Highlights that Guatemala, Iceland, India, Israel, New Zealand, Norway, Serbia, Switzerland and Turkey have cosmetics animal testing bans in place; notes that other countries, such as South Korea and Australia, have made significant progress towards such a ban;

14.  Notes that despite some notable legislative advances around the world, around 80 % of the world’s countries still allow animal testing and the marketing of cosmetics tested on animals;

Establishing a global ban on animal testing for cosmetics

15.  Calls for the Cosmetics Regulation to be used as the model for the introduction at international level of a ban on animal testing for cosmetics and a ban on international trade in cosmetic ingredients and products tested on animals, to come into effect before 2023;

16.  Calls for the EU institutions to guarantee a level playing field for all the products placed on the EU market and to make sure that none of them have been tested on animals in a third country;

17.  Calls on the Presidents of the EU institutions to promote, advocate and facilitate the introduction of a global ban on animal testing for cosmetics in meetings with their counterparts, in particular with the UN Secretary-General;

18.  Calls on the Commission, the Council and the Member States to use their diplomatic networks and act with determination in every possible bilateral and multilateral negotiating forum to build a strong and broad coalition in support of a global ban on animal testing in the cosmetics sector;

19.  Calls on the Commission, the Council and the Member States to facilitate, promote and support the conclusion of an international convention against the use of animals in cosmetics testing, within the UN framework; calls for the EU institutions and the Member States to include a global ban on animal testing for cosmetics as an item on the agenda of the next meeting of the UN General Assembly;

20.  Calls on the Commission to engage proactively with all stakeholders, starting with those behind the campaign for a global end to the use of animals in cosmetics testing, NGOs and civil society representatives, in order to promote side events at the next UN General Assembly and to facilitate dialogue on the benefits and merits of an international convention against animal testing for cosmetics;

21.  Calls on the Commission and the Council to make sure that the EU ban on animal testing for cosmetics is not weakened by any ongoing trade negotiations, nor by World Trade Organisation rules; calls on the Commission to exclude cosmetics tested on animals from the scope of any free trade agreements already in force or currently under negotiation;

o
o   o

22.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the President of the European Council, the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, and the United Nations Secretary-General.

(1) OJ L 342, 22.12.2009, p. 59.
(2) ECLI:EU:C:2016:703.
(3) OJ L 396, 30.12.2006, p. 1.
(4) Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety, Notes of Guidance for the Testing of Cosmetic Ingredients and their Safety Evaluation, 9th revision, SCCS/1564/15.


Current situation and future prospects for the sheep and goat sectors in the EU
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European Parliament resolution of 3 May 2018 on the current situation and future prospects for the sheep and goat sectors in the EU (2017/2117(INI))
P8_TA(2018)0203A8-0064/2018

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the recommendations of the EU Sheepmeat Forum, held in 2015 and 2016, under the aegis of the Commission,

–  having regard to the study commissioned by Parliament’s Policy Department B at the request of the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development on the future of the sheep and goat meat sectors in Europe,

–  having regard to its resolution of 19 June 2008 on the future of the sheep/lamb and goat sectors in Europe(1),

–  having regard to the Commission’s ‘Evaluation of CAP measures in the sheep and goat sectors’ conducted in 2011,

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

–  having regard to its resolution of 15 November 2017 on an Action Plan for nature, people and the economy(2),

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

–  having regard to Regulation (EC) No 1069/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council laying down health rules as regards animal by-products and derived products not intended for human consumption,

–  having regard to the conclusions of the Dutch Ombudsman in his 2012 report on the government’s approach to Q fever(3) and in his 2017 study on the lessons learned by the government from the Q fever epidemic(4),

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development (A8-0064/2018),

A.  whereas sheep and goat farming are low-profit sectors in most of the EU, with incomes among the lowest in the EU, chiefly as a result of high operating and regulatory costs, sometimes exceeding sales prices, and a heavy administrative burden, causing many farmers to leave the sectors with increasing frequency;

B.  whereas imbalances in the food chain aggravate the vulnerability of these sectors, and whereas the Commission has so far failed to take the necessary regulatory action, called for by Parliament, in this regard;

C.  whereas it is impossible to establish and maintain sheep and goat production without guaranteed stable incomes for farmers;

D.  whereas sheep and goat breeding in Europe have seasonality, unlike some other regions of the world, which can maintain full-cycle breeding and production all year long; whereas the high seasonality can leave farmers and producers in economic uncertainty;

E.  whereas both sectors have potential for creating and preserving employment in disadvantages areas, such as remote and mountain regions;

F.  whereas sheep and goat production offer significant potential for development and employment in many fragile rural and peri-urban areas, mainly through the sale of sheep- and goat-meat, and high-quality dairy products, that can be brought to market through short and local supply chains;

G.  whereas sheep breeders experience difficulties in finding qualified and sometimes even unskilled labour;

H.  whereas sheep and goat farming is part of the cultural heritage of many Member States and delivers high quality traditional products;

I.  whereas the sheep and goat sectors have to ensure the highest standards in the world with regard to food safety, animal health and welfare, and respect for the environment;

J.  whereas sheep and goat farming play an important role in ensuring environmental sustainability, particularly where they are based on grazing, as they are present in 70 % of the EU’s geographically disadvantaged areas, including isolated and relatively inaccessible regions, and contribute to maintaining the landscape, preserving biodiversity (including local native breeds) and combating soil erosion, the build-up of unwanted biomass, levee damages, dike damages, avalanches and forest and brush fires;

K.  whereas sheep and goat farming make an important socio-economic contribution to Europe’s rural areas by sustaining farming and employment in less favoured areas and delivering high-quality traditional products;

L.  whereas the generational renewal of farmers needs to be improved in order to guarantee the survival of this type of livestock farming and help curb rapid depopulation in many rural regions where basic services and family support services are scarce, with implications in particular for women, who carry out significant, often invisible work in the sector;

M.  whereas these sectors offer a favourable environment, and opportunities, for young people willing to take up farming in human-scale structures – including a low level of capitalisation, a well developed collective organisation, mutual assistance and cooperatives with equipment for common use – or establishing companies;

N.  whereas the average age of sheep and goat farmers is rising, and there is a lack of transfer of knowledge between generations, which hinders the smooth functioning of the two sectors and leaves them vulnerable to a lack of skills and knowledge in the future; whereas breeders and producers of processed quality products such as artisanal cheeses often lack the necessary marketing and sales skills necessary for placing their products on the market in an attractive manner;

O.  whereas a majority of sheep and goats in the EU are reared in extensive farming conditions, such as on pastureland; whereas in some Member States the sectors rely on the intensive goat and sheep farming model;

P.  whereas these sectors contribute to the conservation of areas of high ecological value or high nature value (HNV), such as pastureland and land for rough grazing, wooded pasture and other types of silvopasture or dehesa, as well as less fertile land, and they also perform a crucial function in clearing undergrowth;

Q.  whereas the definition of permanent grassland before the entry into force of Regulation (EU) 2017/2393(5) did not suitably cover Mediterranean grasslands with their perennial woody species, such as dehesa pastureland and other ecosystems associated with agroforestry, thus reducing the area eligible for direct aid and penalising farmers in these areas;

R.  whereas pastoralism is a traditional activity of extensive animal breeding, practiced in particular in mountain regions, making development possible in territories difficult to access or mechanise and of low agronomic value, thereby allowing them to maintain an economic activity;

S.  whereas transhumance is part of the farming practices in some Member States;

T.  whereas the current Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) foresees support for different autochthonous breeds of sheep and goat;

U.  whereas these breeds are well adjusted to the local environment and play a substantial role in preserving biodiversity and natural balance in their habitats;

V.  whereas native breeds are much better adapted to local conditions and features;

W.  whereas there are now 25 million fewer sheep than in the 1980s, and production has fallen by over 20 % in the past 17 years;

X.  whereas sheep and goat meat consumption has fallen considerably in recent years, with a decline in sheep meat consumption from 3,5 kg per person in 2001 to 2 kg today, and that this downward trend has continued apace in 2017, particularly among young people;

Y.  whereas the goat meat market in Europe is unique in that production is concentrated largely in Greece, Spain and France, while consumption is particularly significant in Portugal, Italy and Greece;

Z.  whereas the production of goat meat, from kids or adult cull animals, is seasonal and a byproduct of milk production, controlled by a few operators, the sale price of which is not enough to remunerate farmers;

AA.  whereas the limited presence of goat meat in points of sale entails a loss of visibility and hence a decrease in consumption by consumers;

AB.  whereas the sheep and goat sectors account for 3 % of European milk and 9 % of European cheese production, and whereas together they employ 1,5 million people in the European Union;

AC.  whereas consumption of goat’s milk and goat’s cheese has increased significantly in a number of Member States in recent years;

AD.  whereas sheep meat production in the EU meets only around 87 % of what the market demands, and imports from third countries, chiefly New Zealand, undercut the competitiveness of EU products in the most sensitive times of the year (Easter and Christmas), but also during the rest of the year, given that New Zealand and Australia are major exporters of sheep meat;

AE.  whereas, in recent years, New Zealand has increased exports of fresh or chilled meat, reducing its traditional exports of frozen meat, thus having a greater impact on the EU fresh-meat market, and resulting in a lowering of prices paid to European producers; believes that this must be taken into consideration in the upcoming free trade agreement (FTA) negotiations with New Zealand;

AF.  whereas, in many instances, EU producers do not compete on a level playing field with imports from third countries, which often have less rigorous quality standards, regulatory requirements and environmental standards to adhere to;

AG.  whereas the sheep and goat sectors, being sensitive, should either be protected in the ongoing FTA negotiations between the European Union and, respectively, New Zealand and Australia, or be excluded altogether from these trade agreements;

AH.  whereas some regions in the EU’s neighbourhood have been showing interest in sheep and goat products from the EU, which is an opportunity for EU producers that, unfortunately, has not been fully exploited;

AI.  whereas Brexit could cause significant changes to intra-EU trade in sheep meat, given that the UK is the largest producer and the main gateway for imports from third countries;

AJ.  whereas the UK imports about half of its market quota for sheep meat from New Zealand, and nearly two-thirds from Australia, and whereas the EU cannot be released from its international commitments overnight, a fact that aggravates the uncertainty caused by Brexit;

AK.  whereas sheep and goat wool is a sustainable, renewable and biodegradable resource for the textile sector;

AL.  whereas wool is not recognised as an agricultural product under Annex I to the TFEU, but is only classified as an animal by-product under Regulation (EU) No 142/2011;

AM.  whereas this lack of recognition places sheep farmers at a disadvantage relative to other farmers, as wool is subject to more stringent requirements than recognised agricultural products when transported, and because market interventions through a shared market organisation are not possible for wool;

AN.  whereas sheep and goat farming are largely extensive by nature, resulting in direct contact with wild animals, the state of health of which cannot be guaranteed;

AO.  whereas, in accordance with Regulation (EC) No 999/2001, the scrapie plan has led to a 100 % reduction in breeding stock exchanges, and whereas for small, indigenous breeds, scrapie genotyping has resulted in a fall of up to 50 % in the number of male breeding animals;

AP.  whereas recent outbreaks of animal diseases have shown that an outbreak in one Member State can constitute a threat to the entire European agricultural market, keeping in mind the several epidemics that have struck the European Union, some of which – such as the most extensive Q fever epidemic ever, which occurred in goat farms between 2007 and 2011 – have consequences for human health;

AQ.  whereas vaccination of sheep and goats protects Member States’ flocks against cross-border diseases, limiting the risk of further infection between Member States and helping to mitigate the effects of antimicrobial resistance;

AR.  whereas according to the European One Health Action Plan against Antimicrobial Resistance, immunisation through vaccination is a cost-effective public health intervention in the effort to combat antimicrobial resistance, despite the fact that the use of antibiotics is cheaper in the short term, and the plan also foresees incentives to increase the uptake of diagnostics, antimicrobial alternatives and vaccines;

AS.  whereas the electronic identification system for sheep and goats is an efficient way of ensuring the traceability of animals, but losing ear tags, or inadvertently failing to scan them, can give rise to penalties that are sometimes disproportionate;

AT.  whereas farmers also experience difficulties in implementing the current rules for identification in the case of kids;

AU.  whereas the protection afforded certain animal species, especially large carnivores, under the Habitats Directive (92/43/EEC), the deterioration of their natural habitats and a reduction in the abundance and quality of their natural prey, combined with rural depopulation and the lack of investment in preventive measures by Member States, have all contributed to a significant increase in predator attacks on sheep and goat herds across all regions, worsening the already precarious situation in which some farms find themselves and putting traditional agriculture and pasture farming at risk in many areas;

AV.  whereas predators and large carnivores have attained good conservation status in some regions of the European Union;

AW.  whereas the introduction of the possibility to amend the protection status of species in particular regions should be taken into account as soon as the desired conservation status is reached;

AX.  whereas sheep and goat farmers have to cope with a great deal of bureaucracy and administrative burdens arising not only from the CAP but also from other EU rules, such as those pertaining to the treatment of animal by-products not intended for human consumption;

AY.  whereas the sheep and goat meat market is highly fragmented and there is little transparency in the reporting of market prices;

AZ.  whereas there are very few slaughterhouses in some Member States, which hinders the development of these sectors in them;

BA.  whereas the restructuring of the slaughter industry, compliance with health regulations and the reduction of animals slaughtered as a result of a reduction in farming have in many regions led to the disappearance of the economic instruments needed to add value and sustain local supply chains;

BB.  whereas the restructuring of the slaughtering industry, the measures applied as a consequence of the ‘mad cow’ crisis, and the hygiene and health package, among other factors, have in many Member States led to the disappearance of various instruments necessary for the survival of direct local sales, and to an increase in slaughtering costs;

BC.  whereas mobile milking facilities and slaughterhouses, or measures to make such facilities available on the spot, are important and necessary for facilitating the productivity of sheep and goat husbandry;

BD.  whereas sheep and goat meat products often lack the end-product variety that can be found in other types of meat, making them less attractive and, hence, less sought after by the consumers;

BE.  whereas there is a need to increase the value added in meat production and to introduce innovative new formulas more in step with the consumer habits of young people;

BF.  whereas in addition to providing a wide range of meat, dairy and wool products to consumers across the EU, sheep and goat husbandry has a vital cultural role to play in many communities, as celebrated in the Bulgarian kukeri and Romanian capra traditions, among others;

BG.  whereas there is a growing market in many Member States for local as well as organically grown agricultural products that meet consumer demand for transparency and quality;

BH.  whereas, in accordance with Regulation (EU) No 1151/2012 and Delegated Regulation (EU) No 665/2014, Member States may use the optional quality term ‘mountain product’ to give better visibility to products of sheep and goat husbandry originating in mountain regions;

BI.  whereas EU quality schemes – in particular the PGI (protected geographical indication) and PDO (protected designation of origin) labels – provide tools for giving greater visibility to, and thereby better chances for market realisation of, products of sheep and goat husbandry;

BJ.  whereas some Member States lack structural policies for the development of either or both sectors, which is an obstacle for their development;

BK.  whereas such policies could include recommendations for various stages, such as breeding (breed selection, ram production, etc.), as well for as market realisation;

Better support

1.  Endorses the recommendations published by the 2016 EU Sheepmeat Forum, held under the aegis of the Commission, in particular the need to establish an environmental payment in recognition of the role played by the sheep and goat sectors in delivering public goods, especially where it is based on extensive grazing, as regards: land improvement and the preservation of biodiversity, ecosystems, environmentally valuable areas and water quality; the prevention of climate change, flooding, avalanches, forest fires and associated erosion; and the maintenance of the countryside and employment; stresses that these recommendations should be equally valid for the sectors of goat meat and sheep’s and goat’s milk products;

2.  Calls on the Commission and on the Member States to consider offering incentives to farmers who practice transhumance;

3.  Supports maintaining or, where appropriate, increasing voluntary coupled aid for sheep and goat farming and other respective measures targeted at both sectors, with differentiated subsidies for grazing herds, in the forthcoming reform of the CAP, with a view to arresting the drain of farmers from these sectors in the EU, in view of the high rate of dependence of much of the sheep- and goat-farmer sectors on direct payments;

4.  Underlines the fact that, under the agreement reached in the negotiations on Regulation (EU) 2017/2393, the voluntary coupled support regime is simplified and clarified with the elimination of references to quantitative limits and to maintaining production, and with the provision that certain eligibility criteria, and the overall budget, may be reviewed annually by the Member States;

5.  Calls on all Member States to extend agri-environmental payments to pastures used for sheep and goat grazing and to support farmers who provide enhanced animal welfare;

6.  Welcomes the agreement reached in the negotiation of Regulation (EU) 2017/2393, which recognises the specific nature of Mediterranean grasslands, such as dehesa pasturelands, with a view to finding fairer arrangements governing the land eligible for direct payments and to redressing the intrinsic discrimination against rough grazing and silvo-pastoral systems;

7.  Stresses the importance of this type of grazing land for fire prevention, but notes, however, that these improvements are still optional for Member States;

8.  Believes that other ecosystems associated with grazed agroforestry should not be discriminated against in this regard, and calls for the 50 % grass threshold in wooded areas, which is necessary to trigger a direct payment per hectare, to be abandoned for goat and sheep farmers;

9.  Advocates authorising appropriate grazing in Ecological Focus Areas, including in dry and poor quality grasslands found in some less favoured areas;

10.  Stresses that grazing should not be permitted when there is a risk of damaging sensitive natural areas; underlines, in this context, the great importance of ruminants in the exploitation of raw fibre;

11.  Believes it necessary to offer greater support to young farmers and new entrants via both direct aid and rural development policy, in coherence with national policies, with a view to introducing incentives for the setting up or taking over of sheep and goat holdings, as the high average age of farmers in the livestock sectors, which clearly exceeds even that of other agricultural professions owing to their scant profitability, is among the key challenges in keeping rural areas alive and maintaining food security in the Union;

12.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to take into consideration the specific problems outlined by organisations representing women employed in these sectors, through measures to, inter alia, improve their visibility, promote ownership and co-ownership and introduce the necessary family support services;

13.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to develop specific programmes enabling women to find their place in these particular sectors, as this could contribute deeply to the necessary generational renewal in the sectors and help maintain sheep and goat farming as a family enterprise;

14.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to pay greater attention to the diversity of genetic resources in the sheep and goat sectors, given their importance for productivity (fertility, prolificacy, etc.), product quality and the adaptation of animals to their environment;

15.  Appreciates the lines of support currently available to promote native breeds and differentiated quality, such as organic certification;

16.  Stresses that, in this connection, the preservation of local and hardy breeds should be taken into account in animal breeding plans;

17.  Stresses the importance of native sheep and goat breeds for grazing in the Alpine region, as using other breeds is impracticable;

18.  Calls on the Commission to take measures to step up support for the keeping of such sheep and goat breeds;

19.  Calls for an increased support for producer organisations in the sheep and goat sectors;

20.  Takes into account the development of subsidies in the sectors, which is of the utmost importance to efforts to increase efficiency and competitiveness in production, improve product quality and hoist self-sufficiency of EU sheep meat supply – all of which aims are consistent with the EU’s efficiency development and quality improvement objectives;

Promotion and innovation

21.  Calls on the Commission to step up support for research into innovative production methods and technologies with the aim of strengthening the competitiveness of the sheep and goat sectors, and promoting meat, dairy and wool products in the internal market, emphasising not only traditional products such as cheese, but also newer meat cuts in order to offer products that correspond to consumer expectations and market demand; calls as well on the Commission to encourage more regular consumption through information campaigns on cooking and preparation methods suited to new consumers, including in new emerging neighbouring countries and in eastern markets, highlighting the nutritional and health benefits of sheep and goat meat;

22.  Considers it necessary to counteract the idea that lamb is difficult to cook and to counter the current trend of avoiding red meat;

23.  Stresses that efforts to increase the consumption of sheep and goat meat are essential if production is to be increased in the EU;

24.  Commends the Commission on its intention to set up a dedicated budget line for sheep and goat meat and milk products in the next promotion campaigns co-financed by the Union;

25.  Highlights the need to ensure adequate funding to promotional campaigns aiming to increase the consumption of sheep and goat products throughout the EU;

26.  Calls for pelts and wool to be included among beneficiary products;

27.  Calls on the Commission to coordinate promotional campaigns for PGI and PDO labelling of sheep and goat products in order to increase their attractiveness; calls for an in-depth study of market outlets for wool to provide a greater economic return to producers;

28.  Encourages more Member States to implement the optional quality term ‘mountain product’, as foreseen in current EU legislation, which is an instrument to ensure better product visibility and more informed choice for the consumers;

29.  Stresses the need to introduce guarantee labels for lamb and kid meat, both for individual producers and for producer associations, as possible beneficiaries of support for differentiated quality; stresses that such labels must be approved by the competent local authority in accordance with relevant regulations and provisions governing the use of such labels;

30.  Calls for support for EU-wide promotional events dedicated to the sheep and goat sectors, such as festivals and similar annual events, as a means of increasing public awareness about the benefits these sectors bring to the EU, the environment and its citizens;

31.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to support the exploitation of the high potential of traditional sheep and goat farming practices through agri-tourism;

Good practices

32.  Invites the Commission to create the conditions for the development of a sheep’s and goat’s milk sector, allowing for the greatest possible added value in farms, by means of high quality policies favouring the production of milk products in farms, marketed primarily through short or local supply chains; stresses, in this connection, the importance of the Commission ensuring better implementation of hygiene rules in all Member States, not least by using the ‘Guide for Good Hygiene Practices in Artisanal Cheese Production’ drawn up by farmers from the Farmhouse and Artisan Cheese & Dairy Producers European (FACE) network in collaboration with the Commission;

33.  Calls on the Commission to set up an online platform focused on the sheep and goat sectors with the main purpose of exchanging relevant good practices and data from the Member States;

34.  Urges the Commission to draft guidelines for good practices for marketing products from the sheep and goat sectors that can then be shared among the Member States and with professional organisations;

35.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to devote more attention to the wool production and processing sector by supporting the implementation of programmes for the exchange of information and good practices among participants in the wool processing chain;

36.  Urges the Commission to look into the possibility of making exceptions for wool when applying Regulation (EC) No 1069/2009 and Regulation (EU) No 142/2011 on the treatment of animal by-products, given that this is a product that is not intended for human consumption;

Improving markets

37.  Calls on the Commission to bring forward proposals on price transparency in the sectors in order to provide consumers and producers with information to on product prices;

38.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to consider the possibility of harmonising arrangements on carcasses so that they reflect real costs, without prejudicing the biodiversity ensured by local breeds, and the establishment of a European observatory monitoring the prices and production costs of sheep and goat meat; highlights the importance of monitoring margins throughout the food supply chain, including wholesale prices;

39.  Warns that static or falling demand, and higher production, can lead to lower prices for producers;

40.  Recalls that under Article 149 of Regulation (EU) No 1308/2013, producers of sheep’s milk or goat’s milk, grouped in a producer organisation, may conduct joint contractual negotiations on up to 33 % of national production and 3,5 % of European production; stresses that these thresholds were established primarily for the production of raw cow’s milk and are therefore restrictive and poorly adapted to the production of small ruminants, particularly when farmers wish to organise themselves into associations of local producer organisations or multi-buyer producer organisations, or when faced with a large industrial group;

41.  Calls for the establishment of precise indicators to be able to monitor more closely the production and consumption of, and trade in, goat meat, with a distinction being made between adult animals and kids;

42.  Believes it necessary to improve the bargaining power and market power of producers in the food chain, extending rules on contractual relations for sheep and goat farming, and for meat products as well as milk products, by establishing producer and interbranch organisations similar to those existing in other crop and livestock sectors, in line with the agreement reached as part of Regulation (EU) 2017/2393, in order to improve the competitiveness and current low productivity of the sectors;

43.  Calls for including the PDO and PGI quality labelling of sheep meat with that of ham, as it is spelled out in Article 172 of Regulation (EU) No 1308/2013, as a supply management measures to increase the possibilities for matching supply with demand;

44.  Notes that producer organisations, or associations of producer organisations, of sheep’s milk or goat’s milk may disregard the binding ceilings under Article 149 of Regulation (EU) No 1308/2013 if they exercise an economic activity (promotion, quality control, packaging, labelling or processing) jointly, in accordance with Article 152, as amended by Regulation (EU) 2017/2393;

45.  Encourages all Member States that do not yet provide Milk Package financial support to sheep and goat milk sectors to do so;

46.  Believes that products from sheep and goats must be prevented from being sold below producer prices;

47.  Calls on the Commission to investigate, in cooperation with Member States, the sheep meat and goat meat supply chain (e.g. distinguishing between meat from mature animals and kids) to ensure that farmers receive a fair return from the marketplace;

48.  Stresses, in this context, the importance of direct marketing of sheep and goat products;

49.  Calls on the Commission to foster a climate of direct sales by producers and producer organisations in order to limit artificial price increases;

50.  Supports the development of local supply chains in the sheep-farming sector as a way of increasing sheep farm income and improving the match between supply and demand, and calls on the Member States and the Commission to pay particular attention to their public policies on local slaughterhouses, which are essential to the development of these local supply chains;

51.  Recalls that producers can put in place measures to regulate the supply of cheese, including from sheep’s milk or goat’s milk, with a PDO or PGI label in accordance with Article 150 of Regulation (EU) No 1308/2013;

52.  Welcomes the fact that these instruments have been extended beyond 2020 as part of the agreement reached on the negotiation of Regulation (EU) 2017/2393;

53.  Considers it necessary to promote the concentration of supply among farmers in ventures, such as cooperatives, that will boost their bargaining power in the food chain, add value to member farmers’ production and carry out activities that will lead to cost savings or that are difficult to accomplish individually, such as innovation and livestock consultancy;

54.  Encourages authorities in those Member States in which professional organisations in the sheep and goat sectors have shown a proven interest to draw up mid- and long-term strategies for the development of these sectors, with suggestions on how to improve breed selection and the market realisation of products;

55.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to initiate programmes to encourage producers to set up producer and marketing groups, to engage in direct marketing and to produce and label special qualities of sheep and goat meat and milk products (such as organic products or regional specialities);

56.  Calls on the Commission to ease the administrative requirements for opening small cheese-making ventures on sheep and goat farms, thereby enabling farmers to boost the added value of their farms;

57.  Urges the Commission to consider additional tools and instruments that can help the sectors face crises, meet global challenges and ensure their sustainable development;

58.  Considers it necessary to have crisis prevention and management instruments at the ready for the sheep and goat sectors in order to be able to limit price volatility, ensure a fair return for producers and an environment conducive to investment, and the taking over of farms by young people;

59.  Notes that the quality of sheep and goat meat depends to a great extent on their food resources, and that the conditions of competition in the sheep and goat sectors therefore vary considerably from one region to another within the EU;

60.  Calls on national authorities to ensure that producers have access to markets and that specialised outlets are established;

Brexit and trade agreements

61.  Asks the Commission to ascertain what the post-Brexit sheep meat market will look like, and to put necessary measures in place to prevent severe market disturbances, including the establishment of a more efficient safety net for prices and markets in order to protect the sector from the impact of Brexit;

62.  Urges the Commission to exercise caution in negotiating the new FTAs with New Zealand and Australia pending its analysis of the impact of Brexit on sheep and goat farming, especially as regards the future of the 287 000 tonnes carcass weight equivalent quota for sheep meat granted by the EU to New Zealand, around 75 % of which is used up on average, with around 48 % going to the UK, and the 19 200 tonnes carcass weight equivalent quota for sheep meat granted by the EU to Australia, almost 100 % of which is used up on average, with around 75 % going to the UK;

63.  Takes the view that the new FTAs should stipulate that New Zealand’s and Australia’s quotas for lamb meat exports into the EU be split into separate categories for fresh or chilled and frozen meat; recalls that while lambs are very often marketed at the age of 6 or 9 months in the EU, in New Zealand they are often marketed at the age of 12 months; highlights that preferential market access should not be increased above existing tariff-rate quotas;

64.  Recalls that Parliament has identified sheep meat as a particularly sensitive item in FTA negotiations with New Zealand, and has supported the potential exclusion of the most sensitive sectors in its resolution of 26 October 2017 containing Parliament’s recommendation to the Council on the proposed negotiating mandate for trade negotiations with New Zealand(6);

65.  Reiterates that any FTA must fully respect the EU’s high animal welfare, environmental and food safety standards; notes that current tariff-rate quotas for New Zealand have an impact on EU sheep meat production;

66.  Is worried about the letter that the United States and six other large agriculture exporters (Argentina, Brazil, Canada, New Zealand, Thailand and Uruguay) have sent to the representatives of the UK and the EU at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) on 26 September 2017 concerning internal discussions on the possible redistribution of import tariff quotas between the United Kingdom and the remaining EU Member States;

67.  Stresses how important it is that the UK maintains its current share of tariff quotas after its exit from the EU, and that a deal is reached in which none of the UK and EU markets are oversupplied by imported sheep meat, in order to prevent producers in the UK and EU from suffering negative consequences;

68.  Understands how dependent the UK sheep meat sector is on the EU market, but considers that this situation presents both challenges and opportunities;

69.  Considers that the UK leaving the EU should be an opportunity to develop the European sheep and goat sectors further with a view to making the EU less dependent on imports of sheep and goat meat from New Zealand;

70.  Regrets that the more than 1 400 European agricultural products protected by a geographical indication do not automatically benefit from equivalent protection in third-country markets covered by international trade agreements negotiated by the EU;

71.  Calls for consideration to be given to the precarious situation of sheep and goat farmers when entering into further trade agreements with third countries, specifically by listing them as sensitive sectors or by excluding them from the negotiations altogether, so as to avoid any provisions that could in any way compromise the European model of production or damage local or regional economies;

72.  Stresses that production costs and standards of the main sheep and goat meat-exporting countries are significantly lower than those in Europe;

73.  Stresses that these sectors should be given appropriate treatment, for example through the introduction of tariff-rate quotas or adequate transition periods, with due account taken of the cumulative impact of trade agreements on agriculture, or even by excluding them from the scope of the negotiations;

74.  Stresses particularly, in this context, the severe problems posed by concerns for animal welfare during, and over the environmental impact of, long transport routes from or to distant countries;

75.  Calls on the Commission to introduce a mandatory EU labelling regulation system for sheep meat products, possibly with an EU-wide logo, to allow consumers to distinguish between EU products and those from third countries; suggest that such a label could be certified using a number of criteria, including a farm assurance scheme and a country of origin indication, to ensure that consumers are fully aware of the place of origin of the product;

76.  Considers that such system must be designed in a way as to avoid undermining existing promotional labelling schemes at Member State and regional level;

77.  Calls on the Commission to provide assistance in opening export markets for EU sheep meat and offal in countries where unnecessary restrictions currently apply;

78.  Calls on the Commission to consider an increase in exports to North Africa, which is a growing market that appreciates the quality and food safety guaranteed by the EU;

79.  Calls on the Commission to prepare reports about the possible target markets for EU goat and sheep meat and dairy products;

80.  Calls on the Commission to promote the quality of products exported by the EU, notably through strict sanitary standards and traceability, which guarantee sheep and goat meat of a higher quality than that exported by New Zealand and Australia; points out that the EU’s particular emphasis on quality is something that should be stressed in order to encourage consumption of European sheep and goat meat;

Electronic identification system

81.  Urges the Commission and the Member States to consider harmonising tolerance levels when punishing livestock farmers for inadvertent errors in the application of sheep tagging and the electronic identification system, on the strict condition that this does not lead to acceptance of a higher margin of error than for preventive animal health care and that it is justified in the light of the ‘One Health’ approach;

82.  Recognises the importance of a unified approach to, and an improvement of, preventive animal health care in the Union;

83.  Stresses that Member States should implement legislation without exception;

84.  Points out that the ear tag loss rate is higher for extensively grazed sheep in areas of natural constraint than for other livestock in lowland systems, and asks that the Commission acknowledges this;

85.  Ask the Commission and the Member States to study the possibility of designing a simplified identification system for small-scale herds in extensive production intended for local circuits that is without detriment to the effective traceability of products, and to introduce more flexible and growth-orientated provisions regarding the use of electronic ear tags;

86.  Notes that identification systems should be designed in such a way as to minimise bureaucracy; stresses that low-income producers will need financial assistance if they are to install costly and compulsory electronic identification systems;

Health aspects

87.  Notes that outbreaks of animal diseases have disastrous consequences for the welfare of animals, farmers and local residents;

88.  Stresses that human and animal health must have priority at all times;

89.  Considers that more action is needed to prevent cross-border outbreaks of animal diseases and reduce the impact of antibiotic resistance, and to promote vaccination to combat the spread of infections in sheep and goat,

90.  Calls on the Commission to provide incentives and support for sheep and goat farmers who can demonstrate that they have attained high vaccination coverage among their animals, in keeping with the European One Health Action Plan against Antimicrobial Resistance, as there would otherwise be little market incentive for farmers to do so;

91.  Calls on the Commission to improve its ability to respond to outbreaks of animal diseases, such as bluetongue, by means of a new EU animal health strategy, research funding, compensation for losses, advances on payments, etc.;

92.  Calls for the drawing up of a plan to prevent disease and mortality among male kids based on the intrinsic value of the animal and by prioritising both the welfare of male kids and that of goats;

93.  Calls on the Commission to facilitate the use of immunoprecise vaccines as a first measure to combat possible disease outbreaks in the sectors;

94.  Stresses the need to improve the availability of medicinal and veterinary products for the sheep and goat sectors at a EU level through support for pharmaceutical research and the simplification of marketing authorisations;

95.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to re-assess the level of monitoring of the health of wild animals, particularly in areas where herds are extensively managed;

Predators

96.  Recalls that the proliferation of predators is a result of, inter alia, current EU legislation aiming at preserving indigenous wild animal species;

97.  Supports a review of the relevant annexes of the Habitats Directive with the aim of controlling and managing the spread of predators in certain grazing areas;

98.  Calls on the Commission to take into account the flexibility provided for by that directive to tackle these problems so as not to jeopardise the sustainable development of rural areas;

99.  Underlines the need for an objective, science-based approach that considers animal behaviour, predator-prey relations, accurate regionally-specific quantification of predation risk by species listed in the Habitats Directive, hybridisation, range dynamics and other ecological issues in any suggestions considered;

100.  Stresses that attacks on herds by wolves and non-protected wolf-dog hybrids are on the rise despite the mobilisation of ever-greater resources, which are increasingly costly for farmers and communities;

101.  Notes that the limits of the measures recommended and implemented to protect herds are now becoming apparent, as the number of animals lost has risen substantially;

102.  Points out that this ineffectiveness is now calling into question the future of environmentally-friendly modes of farming, such as pastoralism, as some farmers are starting to confine their animals, which in due course will lead not only to the abandonment of very extensive areas, generating huge fire and avalanche risks, but will also shift farms towards more intensive forms of agriculture;

103.  Invites the Commission and the Member States, as well as local and regional authorities, in consultation with farmers and other stakeholders, to consider rural development measures to protect herds, to provide due compensation for losses caused by attacks from large predators, including predators not protected under the Habitats Directive, and to adjust the aid in order to replenish the herds;

104.  Considers it necessary to take steps to review the protection status of predators in the context of the Berne Convention;

105.  Urges the Member States to implement the recommendations of that convention with a view to preventing the spread of wolf-dog hybrids, as they threaten the conservation of the species Canis lupus and are very largely responsible for attacks on sheep and goat herds;

106.  Notes the partial success of schemes to re-introduce strains of sheepdogs as a means to warn off wolves or at least hybrids;

107.  Proposes that ‘wolf ombudsmen’ be selected to mediate between the various interests concerned, and in disputes over protection status and the need to compensate for losses from wolf kills, following the successful model for ‘bear ombudsmen’ in some Member States;

108.  Calls on the Commission to take into account the recommendations made by Parliament in its resolution of 15 November 2017 on the Action Plan for nature, people and the economy;

109.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States – with a view to improving the employment situation in the sectors – to develop programmes to improve the training of guard and shepherd dogs and to provide training in their proper application in livestock farms, and, to this end, to urgently improve cross-border cooperation and the exchange of ideas and successful approaches between administrations, stock farmers and conservationists as regards large predators;

110.  Calls for the establishment of protected grazing areas where large predators can be regulated, so that the return of large predators does not lead to setbacks in farm practices favourable to animal welfare (migratory sheep herding, open stabling, etc.) or in traditional agriculture and pasture farming (high-altitude summer grazing);

Slaughterhouses

111.  Notes that concentration in the slaughterhouse sector is on the rise, and is reflected by the fact that meat processing groups control the whole meat industry chain from live animal to packaged fresh meat, leading not only to longer transport routes for live animals but also to higher costs and lower profitability for producers;

112.  Calls on the Commission to identify support measures for the establishment of slaughter points and the simplification of authorisation procedures;

113.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to develop local networks that can act as levers for increasing incomes by facilitating the establishment of local and mobile slaughterhouses, which are essential for the structuring of these sectors;

Training

114.  Calls on the Member States to put in place training schemes for representatives of the sectors on how to valorise the products so that they can compete with other meat and dairy products;

115.  Considers it vital that shepherding schools focusing on transhumance are set up in those Member States where this type of farming is more common, with the aim of providing an alternative source of employment in livestock farming that will favour generational renewal while, at the same time, helping to enhance the dignity and social recognition of the traditional profession of grazing livestock;

116.  Considers it necessary to facilitate not only innovation (farming practices, new products, etc.), but also advice and initial and ongoing training in the sheep and goat sectors;

Other items

117.  Calls on the Commission to implement and enforce the relevant EU law, in particular Council Directive (EC) No 1/2005 of 22 December 2004 on the protection of animals during transport;

118.  Considers it necessary to comply with the judgment of the Court of Justice of the European Union, which has ruled that protection of animal welfare does not cease at the EU’s external borders and that transporters of animals being exported from the European Union must therefore comply with EU animal welfare rules, including outside the EU;

119.  Draws attention to the lack of water in many sheep- and goat-farming regions, particularly those in the Mediterranean area, a situation which will only worsen with global warming;

120.  Stresses, therefore, the need to ensure better management of water resources through adapted facilities, taking into account the distribution of rainfall over the year and sustainability;

o
o   o

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

(1) OJ C 286 E, 27.11.2009, p. 41.
(2) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0441.
(3) https://www.nationaleombudsman.nl/onderzoeken/2012/100
(4) https://www.nationaleombudsman.nl/onderzoeken/2017030-onderzoek-naar-de-lessen-die-de-overheid-uit-de-qkoorts-epidemie-heeft
(5) 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).
(6) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0420.


Media pluralism and media freedom in the European Union
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European Parliament resolution of 3 May 2018 on media pluralism and media freedom in the European Union (2017/2209(INI))
P8_TA(2018)0204A8-0144/2018

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to Articles 2, 3, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11 and 49 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU) and Articles 9, 10 and 16 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU),

–  having regard to Article 11 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union,

–  having regard to Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), the case law of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) and the European Social Charter,

–  having regard to the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD), adopted and opened for signature and ratification by UN General Assembly resolution 2106 of 21 December 1965,

–  having regard to Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 30 May 2001 regarding public access to European Parliament, Council and Commission documents(1),

–  having regard to Protocol No 29 on the System of Public Broadcasting in the Member States,

–  having regard to the European Charter on Freedom of the Press,

–  having regard to the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence,

–  having regard to the declarations, recommendations and resolutions of the Committee of Ministers and Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and the Opinions and the Rule of Law Checklist of the Venice Commission,

–  having regard to the Council of Europe study entitled ‘Journalists under pressure – Unwarranted interference, fear and self-censorship in Europe’,

–  having regard to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the UN Convention against Corruption and the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and the Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions,

–  having regard to the General Comment No 34 of the UN Human Rights Committee,

–  having regard to the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights,

–  having regard to the relevant resolutions of the UN General Assembly, the UN Human Rights Council and the reports of the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression,

–  having regard to the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity,

–  having regard to the work carried out by the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) on media freedom, in particular by its Representative on Freedom of the Media,

–  having regard to the work carried out by the Council of Europe Platform to promote the protection of journalism and safety of journalists,

–  having regard to the joint declaration on freedom of expression and ‘Fake News’, disinformation and propaganda, issued on 3 March 2017 by the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, the Organisation of American States (OAS) Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information,

–  having regard to the outcomes of the World Press Freedom Index, published by Reporters Without Borders, and to those of the Media Pluralism Monitor of the European University Institute’s Centre for Media Pluralism and Media Freedom,

–  having regard to the Policy Brief entitled ‘Defining Defamation: Principles on Freedom of Expression and Protection of Reputation’ published by ARTICLE 19,

–  having regard to its resolution of 21 May 2013 on the EU Charter: standard settings for media freedom across the EU(2),

–  having regard to its resolutions of 12 March 2014 on the US NSA surveillance programme, surveillance bodies in various Member States and their impact on EU citizens’ fundamental rights and on transatlantic cooperation in Justice and Home Affairs(3) and of 29 October 2015 on the follow-up to the European Parliament resolution of 12 March 2014 on the electronic mass surveillance of EU citizens(4),

–  having regard to its resolution of 16 March 2017 on e-democracy in the European Union: potential and challenges(5),

–  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(6),

–  having regard to its resolutions of 14 February 2017 on the role of whistleblowers in the protection of EU’s financial interests(7) and of 24 October 2017 on legitimate measures to protect whistleblowers acting in the public interest when disclosing the confidential information of companies and public bodies(8),

–  having regard to the conclusions of the Council and of the Representatives of the Governments of the Member States, meeting within the Council, on media freedom and pluralism in the digital environment(9),

–  having regard to the EU Human Rights Guidelines on Freedom of Expression Online and Offline and the Commission Guidelines for EU support to media freedom and media integrity in enlargement countries, 2014-2020,

–  having regard to the Commission’s 2016 Annual Colloquium on Fundamental Rights entitled ‘media pluralism and democracy’ and the relevant contributions published by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights,

–  having regard to the High Level Expert Group on fake news and online disinformation appointed by the Commission to advise on the scope of the phenomenon of fake news as well as defining the roles and responsibilities of relevant stakeholders,

–  having regard to European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) opinion 5/2016 on the review of the e-Privacy Directive (2002/58/EC),

–  having regard to Directive (EU) 2017/541 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 March 2017 on combating terrorism and replacing Council Framework Decision 2002/475/JHA and amending Council Decision 2005/671/JHA(10),

–  having regard to the European Council conclusions on security and defence of 22 June 2017,

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs and the opinions of the Committee on Culture and Education and of the Committee on Legal Affairs (A8-0144/2018),

A.  whereas the rights to freedom of expression and freedom of opinion are fundamental human rights and indispensable conditions for the full development of individuals and their active participation in a democratic society, for the realisation of the principles of transparency and accountability and for the fulfilment of other human rights and fundamental freedoms;

B.  whereas pluralism is inseparable from freedom, democracy and the rule of law;

C.  whereas the right to inform and the right to be informed are part of the core basic democratic values on which European Union is founded;

D.  whereas the importance of pluralistic, independent and trustworthy media as guardian and monitor of democracy and the rule of law cannot be underestimated;

E.  whereas media freedom, pluralism and independence are crucial components of the right to freedom of expression; whereas the media play an essential role in democratic society, by acting as public watchdogs, while helping to inform and empower citizens, through widening their understanding of the current political and social landscape, and fostering their conscious participation in democratic life; whereas the scope of such a role should be enlarged to encompass online and citizen journalism, as well as the work of bloggers, internet users, social media activists and human rights defenders, in order to reflect today’s profoundly changed media reality while respecting the right to privacy; whereas net neutrality is an essential principle for an open internet;

F.  whereas fake news, cyberbullying and revenge porn represent growing concerns for our societies, especially among young people;

G.  whereas the spread of false news and disinformation on social media or search websites has strongly impaired the credibility of the traditional media which consequently inhibits their capacity to act as watchdogs;

H.  whereas public authorities have the duty not only to refrain from implementing restrictions on freedom of expression, but also the positive obligation to adopt a legal and regulatory framework which fosters the development of free, independent and pluralistic media;

I.  whereas, pursuant to Articles 2 and 4 of the ICERD and Article 30 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the freedom of expression shall never be used to defend expressions that violate the Convention and the Declaration, such as hate speech or propaganda based on ideas or theories of the superiority of one race or group of persons of one colour, or ethnic group, or which attempt to justify or promote racial hatred and discrimination in any form;

J.  whereas public authorities have the duty to protect the independence and the impartiality of the public media in particular as actors serving democratic societies, as opposed to satisfying the interests of governments in power;

K.  whereas the authorities must also ensure that the media comply with the laws and regulations in force;

L.  whereas recent political developments in various Member States, where nationalism and populism are on the rise, have led to increased pressures on and threats against journalists, which show that the European Union must ensure, promote and defend media freedom and pluralism;

M.  whereas, according to the Council of Europe, the abuses and crimes committed against journalists by both state and non-state actors, have a grave and chilling effect on freedom of expression; whereas the risk and frequency of unwarranted interference heightens the sense of fear among journalists, citizen journalists, bloggers and other information actors, leading to a potential high degree of self-censorship, while undermining citizens’ rights to information and participation;

N.  whereas the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression recalled in September 2016 that governments have a responsibility not only to respect journalism, but also to ensure that journalists and their sources are protected by strong laws, the prosecution of perpetrators and ample security where necessary;

O.  whereas journalists and other media actors still face violence, threats, harassment or public shaming in the European Union mainly because of their investigative activities to protect the public interest from the misuse of power, corruption, human rights violations or criminal activities;

P.  whereas guaranteeing the safety and security of journalists and other media actors is a precondition for them to fully play their role and exercise their capacity to properly inform citizens and to participate effectively in public debate;

Q.  whereas, according to the Council of Europe Platform for the Protection of Journalism and Safety of Journalists, more than half of the cases of abuses against media professionals are committed by state actors;

R.  whereas investigative journalism should be promoted as a form of civic engagement and as an act of civic virtue supported by communication, learning, education and training;

S.  whereas the radical evolution of the media system, the rapid growth of the online dimension of media pluralism and the rise of search engines and social media platforms as sources of news represent both a challenge and an opportunity for the promotion of freedom of expression, for democratising the production of news by involving citizens in the public debate, and for converting a growing number of information users into information producers; whereas, however, the concentration of power of media conglomerates, platform operators and internet intermediaries, and media control by economic corporations and political actors risk causing negative consequences for the pluralism of public debate and access to information and having an impact on the freedom, integrity, quality and editorial independence of journalism and broadcast media; whereas a level playing field at European level is necessary for ensuring that search engines, social media platforms and other high-tech giants respect the rules of the EU digital single market, in fields such as e-privacy and competition;

T.  whereas journalists require direct, immediate and unencumbered access to information from public administrations to properly hold the authorities to account;

U.  whereas both information obtained on the basis of the right of inquiry as well as information obtained through whistleblowers complement each other and both are essential to journalists’ ability to fulfil their mission to act in the public interest;

V.  whereas journalists require the fullest legal protection to use and disseminate such information of public interest in their line of work;

W.  whereas the right to request and receive information from public administrations remains patchy and incomplete across the European Union;

X.  whereas the media sector plays a key role in any democratic society; whereas the effect of the economic crisis, coupled with the simultaneous growth of social media platforms and other high-tech giants and highly selective advertising revenues, have dramatically increased precariousness in the working conditions and social insecurity of media actors, including independent journalists, leading to a dramatic drop in professional, social and quality standards in journalism that may negatively affect their editorial independence;

Y.  whereas the European Audiovisual Observatory of the Council of Europe has denounced the emergence of a digital duopoly, with Google and Facebook representing up to 85 % of all digital advertising market growth in 2016, imperilling the future of traditional advertising-financed media companies, such as commercial TV channels, newspapers and magazines which have a far more limited audience reach;

Z.  whereas, in the context of enlargement policy, the Commission has the duty to demand full compliance with the Copenhagen criteria, including freedom of expression and the media, and the EU should therefore set the example of the highest standards in this field; whereas, once members of the EU, states are continuously and unequivocally bound by human rights obligations by virtue of the EU Treaties and the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and whereas respect for freedom of expression and the media in the Member States should be subject to regular scrutiny; whereas the EU can only be credible on the global stage if press and media freedoms are safeguarded and respected within the Union itself;

AA.  whereas research consistently finds evidence that women are in the minority across media sectors, particularly in creative roles, and are severely underrepresented at senior, decision-making levels; whereas studies of women’s participation in journalism suggest that, while there is a relatively good gender balance among entrants into the journalism profession, the distribution of decision-making responsibilities is characterised by a significant gender disparity;

AB.  whereas the provisions of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union and of the TEU, which ensure respect for these principles are pursed through positive actions to promote freedom and pluralism of the media, to promote the quality, access to and availability of information (positive freedom), but also requires omissions on the part of public authorities in order to avoid harmful aggression (negative freedom);

AC.  whereas unlawful and arbitrary surveillance, particularly when carried out on a mass scale, is incompatible with human rights and fundamental freedoms, inter alia freedom of expression – including freedom of the press and protection of confidentiality of journalistic sources –, the right to privacy and data protection; whereas the internet and social media play a role in spreading hate speech and fostering radicalisation leading to violent extremism by circulating illegal contents, especially to the detriment of young people; whereas tackling such phenomena requires close and coordinated collaboration between all relevant actors, at all levels of governance (local, regional and national) as well as with civil society and the private sector; whereas effective security and counterterrorism laws and activities, as well as measures aimed at countering and preventing hate speech and violent extremism should always be the subject of fundamental rights obligations, so as to avoid any conflicts with the protection of freedom of expression;

AD.  whereas, echoing the Council of Europe, whistleblowing is a fundamental aspect of freedom of expression and plays an essential role in detecting and reporting irregularities and wrongdoing, and in strengthening democratic accountability and transparency; whereas whistleblowing represents a key source of information in the fight against organised crime, in investigating, identifying and publicising cases of corruption within the public and private sectors and in detecting tax avoidance schemes set up by private companies; whereas the adequate protection of whistleblowers at EU, national and international level, as well as the promotion of a culture of acknowledgement of the important role played by whistleblowers in society, are preconditions for ensuring the effectiveness of such a role;

AE.  whereas, in the context of fighting corruption and maladministration in the EU, investigative journalism should receive particular consideration and financial support as a tool serving the public good;

AF.  whereas, according to the findings of the Media Pluralism Monitor, media ownership remains highly concentrated and this constitutes a significant risk to the diversity of information and viewpoints represented in media content;

AG.  whereas the coverage of EU affairs and the work of the EU institutions and agencies should be subject to the criteria of media pluralism and media freedom, on an equal footing with the coverage of the national news, and should have multilingual support to reach the maximum number of EU citizens;

1.  Calls on the Member States to take appropriate measures, including ensuring adequate public funding, to safeguard and promote a pluralist, independent and free media landscape in the service of democratic society, including the independence and sustainability of public service media and community media and grassroots media, which are crucial elements of a favourable environment for guaranteeing the fundamental right to freedom of expression and information;

2.  Emphasises the shared responsibility of lawmakers, journalists, publishers and internet intermediaries, but also of citizens as consumers of information;

3.  Calls on the EU institutions to guarantee full implementation of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights in all their decisions, actions and policies, as a means to thoroughly uphold media pluralism and media freedom from undue influence from national public authorities; asks the Commission, in this regard, to introduce human rights impact assessments for the evaluation of its legislative proposals and to present a proposal for the establishment of an EU mechanism on democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights in line with the relevant Parliament resolution of 25 October 2016;

4.  Stresses the need to have in place independent monitoring mechanisms to assess the situation of media freedom and media pluralism in the EU, as a means to promote and protect the rights and freedoms enshrined in Article 11 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union and Article 10 of the ECHR, and to promptly react to possible threats to them and violations of them; calls on the Commission and the Member States to fully support and strengthen the tools already developed in this regard, such as the Media Pluralism Monitor and the Council of Europe Platform for the Protection of Journalism and Safety of Journalists;

5.  Calls on the Commission, as guardian of the treaties, to treat attempts by Member States’ governments to harm media freedom and pluralism as the serious and systemic abuse of power and the move against the fundamental values of the European Union enshrined in Article 2 TEU that they are, in view of the fact that the rights to freedom of expression and freedom of opinion are fundamental human rights, and that media freedom, pluralism and independence play an essential role in democratic society, including by acting as a check on government and state power;

6.  Calls on the Member States to carry out an independent review of their relevant laws and practices in order to protect freedom of expression and freedom and pluralism of the media;

7.  Expresses its deep concern at the abuses, crimes and deadly attacks still being committed against journalists and media workers in the Member States because of their activities; urges the Member States to do their utmost to prevent such violence, to ensure accountability and avoid impunity and to guarantee that victims and their families have access to the appropriate legal remedies; calls on Member States to set up an independent and impartial regulatory body, in cooperation with journalists’ organisations, for monitoring, documenting and reporting on violence and threats against journalists and to deal with the protection and safety of journalists at national level; calls on the Member States, moreover, to fully implement Council of Europe Recommendation CM/Rec(2016)4 on the protection of journalism and safety of journalists and other media actors;

8.  Expresses its concern over the deteriorating working conditions for journalists and the amount of psychological violence that journalists witness; calls, therefore, on the Member States to set up national action plans, in close cooperation with journalist organisations, to improve the working conditions of journalists and to ensure that journalists will not be victims of psychological violence;

9.  Is concerned about the state of media freedom in Malta following the assassination of anti-corruption journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia in October 2017, who was also subjected to harassment, including precautionary warrants freezing her bank accounts, and threats made by multinational companies;

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

11.  Welcomes the decision to name the European Parliament’s press room after murdered journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia; reiterates, in this context, its call for a European Parliament annual prize for investigative journalism to be named after her;

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

13.  Calls on the Member States to fully support the initiative launched by Reporters Without Borders for the creation of a Special Representative to the United Nations Secretary-General for the safety of journalists;

14.  Calls on the Member States to create and maintain, in law and in practice, a safe and secure environment for journalists and other media actors, including foreign journalists pursuing their journalistic activities in the Member States, enabling them to carry out their work in full independence and without undue interference – such as the threat of violence, harassment, financial, economic and political pressure, pressure to disclose confidential sources and materials, and targeted surveillance; stresses the need for the Member States to guarantee efficient legal recourse procedures, in respect of the above acts, for journalists whose freedom to work has been threatened, so as to avoid self-censorship; highlights the importance of taking a gender-sensitive approach when considering measures to address the safety of journalists;

15.  Underlines the importance of ensuring adequate working conditions for journalists and media workers, in full compliance with the requirements of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and the European Social Charter, as a means of avoiding undue internal and external pressure, dependency, vulnerability and instability, and hence the risk of self-censorship; highlights that independent journalism cannot be guaranteed and fostered by the market alone; asks the Commission and the Member States, therefore, to promote and elaborate new socially sustainable economic models aimed at financing and supporting quality and independent journalism, and to ensure that the public is accurately informed; asks the Member States to strengthen financial support to public service providers and investigative journalism while refraining from involvement in editorial decisions;

16.  Condemns attempts by governments to silence critical media and demolish media freedom and pluralism, including by more sophisticated ways that do not typically create an alert in the Council of Europe Platform for the Protection of Journalism and Safety of Journalists, such as by government members and their cronies buying up commercial media outlets and hijacking the public service media to serve partisan interests;

17.  Highlights the necessity of supporting and broadening the scope of activities of the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom, particularly of its legal support to journalists under threat;

18.  Underlines that media professionals often work in precarious conditions with regard to their contracts, salaries and social guarantees, which compromises their ability to work appropriately and thus hampers media freedom;

19.  Recognises that freedom of expression may be subject to restrictions – provided that they are prescribed by law, pursue a legitimate aim and are necessary in a democratic society – in the interests of, among other aspects, protecting the reputation and rights of others; expresses its concern, however, at the negative and chilling effects that criminal defamation laws might have on the right to freedom of expression, freedom of the press and public debate; calls on the Member States to refrain from any misuse of criminal defamation laws by striking a fair balance between the right to freedom of expression and the right to respect for private and family life, including reputation, while ensuring the right to an effective remedy and avoiding excessively severe and disproportionate penalties and sanctions, in line with the criteria laid down by the ECtHR;

20.  Calls on the Commission to propose an Anti-SLAPP (strategic lawsuit against public participation) Directive that will protect the independent media from vexatious lawsuits intended to silence or intimidate them in the EU;

21.  Considers that the participation in democratic processes is founded, first and foremost, on effective and non-discriminatory access to information and knowledge; calls for the EU and its Member States to develop adequate policies to attain universal access to the internet and to recognise internet access – including net neutrality – as a fundamental right;

22.  Deplores the decision adopted by the US Federal Communications Commission to repeal the 2015 rules on net neutrality, and highlights the negative consequences that decision might have, in a globally interconnected digital world, on the right of access to information without discrimination; calls on the EU and the Member States to pursue a course of strengthening the net neutrality principle by building on and further developing the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC) Guidelines on the Implementation by National Regulators of European Net Neutrality Rules;

23.  Highlights the important role played by independent and pluralistic media in political debate and the right to pluralistic information both during electoral terms and in the intervening periods; stresses the need to guarantee full expression for all political actors, in line with the provisions of the ICERD, and to base the amount of airtime they are given on public service broadcast channels on journalistic and professional criteria and not on their degree of institutional representativeness or political views;

24.  Calls on the Member States and the Commission to refrain from adopting unnecessary measures aimed at arbitrarily restricting access to the internet and the exercise of basic human rights or at controlling public communications, such as the adoption of repressive rules on the establishment and operation of media outlets and/or websites, the arbitrary imposition of states of emergency, technical control over digital technologies – i.e. blocking, filtering, jamming and closing down digital spaces – or the de facto privatisation of control measures by pressuring intermediaries to take action to restrict or delete internet content; calls for the EU and the Member States, furthermore, to prevent such measures from being adopted by private operators;

25.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to ensure full transparency on the part of private companies and governments in the use of algorithms, artificial intelligence and automated decision-making, which should not be implemented and developed in such a way as to lead to, or with the intent of achieving, the arbitrary blocking, filtering and removal of internet content, and to guarantee that any EU digital policy and strategy must be drafted with a human rights-based approach, providing for appropriate remedies and safeguards and in full compliance with the relevant provisions of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union and of the ECHR;

26.  Reiterates that cyberbullying, revenge porn and child sexual abuse material are a growing concern in our societies and can have extremely serious impacts, especially on young people and children, and highlights that the interests and rights of minors must be fully respected in the context of the mass media; encourages all Member States to draw up forward-looking legislation to address these phenomena, including provisions for detection, flagging and removal from social media of content which is manifestly harmful to human dignity; encourages the Commission and Member States to strengthen their efforts to build effective counter-narratives and to provide clear guidelines that ensure legal certainty and predictability for users, service providers and the internet sector as a whole, while ensuring the possibility of judicial redress in accordance with national law, in order to react against the misuse of social media for terrorist purposes; stresses, however, that any measures restricting or removing internet content should only be adopted in specified, explicit and legitimate circumstances and under strict judicial oversight, in line with international standards, the case law of the ECtHR, and Article 52 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union;

27.  Takes note of the Code of Conduct on Countering Illegal Hate Speech Online, promoted by the Commission; points to the wide margin of discretion left to private companies to determine what constitutes ‘illegality’ and calls for such margins to be restricted, so as to avoid any risks of censorship and arbitrary restrictions on freedom of expression;

28.  Reaffirms that anonymity and encryption are essential tools for the exercise of democratic rights and freedoms, for promoting trust in the digital infrastructure and communications, and for protecting the confidentiality of sources in journalism; recognises that encryption and anonymity provide the privacy and security necessary for the exercise of the right to freedom of opinion and expression in the digital age, and recalls that free access to information necessarily implies safeguarding the personal information citizens leave behind when operating online; takes note of the fact that encryption and anonymity can also give rise to abuses and wrongdoing and make it difficult to prevent criminal activities and to conduct investigations, as pointed out by law enforcement and counter-terrorism officials; recalls that restrictions on encryption and anonymity must be limited in keeping with the principles of legality, necessity and proportionality; calls on the EU institutions and the Member States to fully endorse and implement the recommendations set out in the Report of the UN Special Rapporteur of 22 May 2015 on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, addressing the use of encryption and anonymity in digital communications;

29.  Encourages the development of ethical codes for journalists as well as for those involved in the management of media outlets, in order to ensure the full independence of journalists and media bodies;

30.  Underlines that law enforcement and judicial authorities face many obstacles while investigating and prosecuting online offences, also due to discrepancies between Member States’ legislation;

31.  Notes that in the evolving digital media ecosystem, new intermediaries have emerged with the ability to influence and control information and ideas online by acquiring gate-keeping functions and powers; underlines that there must be sufficient independent and autonomous online channels, services and sources with the capacity to deliver a plurality of opinions and democratic ideas to the public on issues of general interest; calls on the Member States to develop new or existing national policies and measures in this regard;

32.  Recognises that the new digital environment has exacerbated the problem of the spread of disinformation, or so-called ‘fake’ or ‘false’ news; recalls, however, that this is not a new phenomenon, nor is it restricted to the online sphere; stresses the importance of guaranteeing the right to quality information by enhancing citizens’ access to reliable information and preventing the propagation of online and offline misinformation; recalls that the use of the term ‘fake news’ should never be aimed at undermining public trust in the media or at discrediting and criminalising critical voices; expresses its concern about the potential threat the notion of fake news could pose to freedom of speech and expression and to the independence of the media, while underlining the negative effects that the spread of false news might have on the quality of political debate and on the well-informed participation of citizens in democratic society; stresses the importance of ensuring effective self-regulatory mechanisms based on the principles of accuracy and transparency, and providing for proper obligations and instruments in relation to source verification, and of fact checking by independent and impartial certified third-party fact checking organisations to assure the objectivity of information and its protection;

33.  Encourages social media companies and online platforms to develop tools to enable users to report and flag potential fake news in order to facilitate prompt rectification and to allow for review by independent and impartial certified third party fact checking organisations, tasked with providing precise definitions of fake news and disinformation in order to reduce the margin of discretion left to private sector actors, and to continue to display and label as ‘false news’ information revealed as such, with a view to stimulating public debate and preventing any re-emergence of the same disinformation in a different form;

34.  Welcomes the Commission’s decision to establish a High Level Expert Group on fake news and online disinformation composed of representatives of civil society, social media platforms, news media organisations, journalists and academia, in order to analyse these emerging threats and propose operative measures to be taken both at European and national level;

35.  Underlines the responsibility of online actors in avoiding the spread of unverified or untrue information with the sole purpose of increasing online traffic through the use of, for example so-called clickbait;

36.  Recognises that the role and investment of press publishers in investigative, professional and independent journalism is essential for fighting against the proliferation of ‘fake’ news and stresses the need to ensure the sustainability of pluralistic editorial press content; encourages both the Commission and Member States to invest adequate financial resources in media and digital literacy and in developing communication strategies, together with international and civil society organisations, in order to empower citizens and online users to recognise and be aware of dubious sources of information and to spot and expose deliberately false content and propaganda; to this end, also encourages the Member States to integrate media and information literacy into national education systems; calls on the Commission to consider best practices from national level to ensure the quality of journalism and the reliability of information published;

37.  Reiterates the right of each individual to decide on the fate of his or her personal data, in particular the exclusive right to control the use, disclosure of personal information and the right to be forgotten, defined as the possibility to obtain a prompt removal of contents that might be prejudicial to his or her own dignity, from social media and search websites;

38.  Recognises that the Internet and, more generally, the development of the digital environment has expanded the scope of several human rights, as shown, for instance, by the judgment of the Court of Justice of the European Union of 13 May 2014 in case C-131/12 Google Spain SL and Google Inc v Agencia Española de Protección de Datos (AEPD) and Mario Costeja González(11); calls, in this regard, on the EU institutions to launch a participatory process in order to draw up a European Charter of Internet Rights, taking into account the best practices developed in the Member States – in particular the Italian Declaration of Internet Rights – to be used as reference point, together with the relevant European and international human rights instruments, for the regulation of the digital sphere;

39.  Underlines the key role of whistleblowers in safeguarding the public interest and in promoting a culture of public accountability and integrity in both public and private institutions; reiterates its call on the Commission and the Member States to set up and implement an adequate, advanced and comprehensive framework for common European legislation to protect whistleblowers by fully endorsing the Council of Europe’s recommendations and Parliament’s resolutions of 14 February and 24 October 2017; considers it necessary to ensure that reporting mechanisms are accessible, safe and secure, and that the claims of whistleblowers and investigative journalists are professionally investigated;

40.  Stresses that the legal protection of whistleblowers when publicly disclosing information rests in particular on the public’s right to receive it; underlines that nobody should lose the benefit of protection on the sole grounds that he or she might have misjudged the facts or that the perceived threat to the public interest did not materialise, provided that, at the time of reporting, he or she had reasonable grounds to believe them to be true; recalls that persons who knowingly report wrong or misleading information to the competent authorities should not be considered as whistleblowers, and thus should not benefit from the protection mechanisms; stresses, furthermore, that any person who is prejudiced, whether directly or indirectly, by the reporting or disclosure of inaccurate or misleading information should be afforded the right to seek effective remedies;

41.  Encourages both the Commission and the Member States to adopt measures to protect the confidentiality of the information sources in order to prevent any discriminatory actions or threats;

42.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to ensure that journalists are given the proper tools to inquire and receive information from EU and Member States’ public administration authorities, according to Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001 on public access to documents, without facing arbitrary decisions denying such right of access; notes that the information obtained through the right of inquiry by journalists or by citizens, including information obtained through whistleblowers, is both complementary and essential to journalists’ ability to fulfil their public interest mission; reiterates that access to public sources and events should depend on objective, non-discriminatory and transparent criteria;

43.  Emphasises that freedom of the press requires independence from political and economic power, which implies equal treatment regardless of editorial orientation; reiterates the importance of preserving journalism that benefits from mechanisms which prevent the concentration of single, monopolistic or quasi-monopolistic groups, ensuring free competition and editorial diversity; calls on the Member States to adopt and implement a media ownership regulation in order to avoid horizontal concentration of ownership in the media sector and indirect and cross-media ownership, and to guarantee transparency, disclosure, and easy accessibility for citizens to information on media ownership, funding sources and management; underlines the importance of applying appropriate restrictions on media ownership by persons holding public office and of ensuring independent oversight and effective compliance mechanisms in order to prevent conflicts of interest and revolving doors; considers it essential to have independent and impartial national authorities to ensure the effective supervision of the audiovisual media sector;

44.  Urges the Member States to develop their own strategic capabilities and engage with local communities in the EU and the EU neighbourhood to foster a pluralistic media environment and to communicate EU policies coherently and effectively;

45.  Invites the Member States to fully support and endorse the Recommendation of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe to member States on media pluralism and transparency of media ownership adopted on 7 March 2018;

46.  Recalls the important role played by public broadcasters in preserving media pluralism, as highlighted in Protocol No 29 to the Treaties; calls on the Member States to provide them with the adequate financial and technical means necessary for performing their social function and serving the public interest; calls on the Member States, to this end, to guarantee their editorial independence by protecting them, through clearly defined regulatory frameworks, from any form of governmental, political or commercial interference and influence, while at the same time, assuring all public bodies and entities which exercise powers in the areas of broadcasting and telecommunications full management autonomy and independence;

47.  Urges the Member States to align their policy of issuing licenses to national broadcasting companies with the principle of respect for media pluralism; stresses that the fees charged and strictness of the obligations related to the issuing of licenses should be subject to scrutiny and should not jeopardise media freedom;

48.  Calls on the Commission to check whether Member States allocate broadcasting licences on the basis of objective, transparent, impartial and proportionate criteria;

49.  Suggests that in order to efficiently safeguard media freedom and pluralism, the participation in public procurement of companies whose ultimate owner also owns a media company should be prohibited or at least made fully transparent; proposes that Member States should be required to regularly report on all public funding provided to media enterprises and that all public funding provided to media owners should be regularly monitored; stresses that media owners should not have been convicted or found guilty of any criminal offence;

50.  Stresses that any public funding to media organisations should be given on the basis of non-discriminatory, objective and transparent criteria, which should be made known in advance to all media;

51.  Recalls that the Member States should find ways to support the media, by ensuring, for example, VAT neutrality as recommended in its resolution of 13 October 2011 on the future of VAT(12), and by supporting initiatives related to the media;

52.  Calls on the Commission to allocate permanent and adequate funding in the EU budget to support the Media Pluralism Monitor at the Centre for Media Pluralism and Media Freedom, and to create an annual mechanism for the assessment of the risks to media pluralism in the Member States; stresses that the same mechanism should be applied to measure media pluralism in candidate countries, and that the results of the Media Pluralism Monitor should have an actual bearing on the progress of the negotiation process;

53.  Calls on the Commission to monitor and collect information and statistics on media freedom and pluralism within all Member States, and to closely analyse cases of the infringement of the fundamental rights of journalists, while respecting the principle of subsidiarity;

54.  Stresses the need to step up the sharing of best practices among the Member States’ audiovisual regulatory authorities;

55.  Calls on the Commission to take into account the recommendations contained in Parliament’s resolution of 25 October 2016 on the establishment of an EU mechanism on democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights; in this sense, calls on the Commission to include the results and recommendations of the Media Pluralism Monitor on the risks to media pluralism and media freedom in the EU when drawing up its annual Report on democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights (European DRF Report);

56.  Encourages Member States to step up their efforts to strengthen media literacy and promote training and educational initiatives among all citizens through formal, non-formal and informal education from a lifelong learning perspective, also by paying special attention to initial and ongoing teacher training and support as well as by encouraging dialogue and cooperation between the education and training sector and all relevant stakeholders, including media professionals, civil society and youth organisations; reaffirms the need to support age-appropriate innovative tools to promote empowerment and online safety as compulsory elements of the curriculum at schools and to bridge the digital divide both through specific technological literacy projects and with adequate investments in infrastructures, in order to ensure universal access to information;

57.  Emphasises that developing a sense of critical appraisal and analysis with regard to the use and creation of media content is essential to people’s understanding of current issues and contribution to public life, as well as their knowledge about both the transformative potential and the threats inherent to an increasingly complex and interconnected media environment; stresses that media literacy is a crucial democratic skill that empowers citizens; calls on the Commission and the Member States to develop specific measures in order to promote and support media literacy projects, such as the pilot project on Media Literacy for All and to develop a comprehensive media literacy policy targeting citizens of all age groups and all media types as an integral part of the European Union’s education policy, supported accordingly by relevant EU funding opportunities such as ESI Funds and Horizon 2020;

58.  Notes with concern that, as highlighted by the 2016 Media Pluralism Monitor, media access by minorities, local and regional communities, women and people with disabilities is at risk; stresses that inclusive media are essential in an open, free and pluralistic media landscape, and that all citizens have the right of access to independent information in their mother tongue, be it a state or minority language; underlines the importance of providing European journalists, especially those working in lesser-used and minority languages, with adequate training and retraining opportunities; calls, therefore, on the Commission and Member States to encourage and support research, projects and policies that improve access to the media, as well as relevant initiatives aimed at vulnerable minority groups (such as the pilot project on Internship opportunities for minority language media), and to guarantee opportunities for participation and expression for all citizens;

59.  Encourages the media sector to safeguard gender equality in media policy and practice, through co-regulatory mechanisms, internal codes of conduct and other voluntary actions;

60.  Urges the Commission and the Member States to engage in social campaigns, education programmes, and more targeted training and awareness-raising activities (including for industry decision-makers) to promote egalitarian values and practices through funding and promotion at both national and European level in order to address gender inequality in the media sector effectively;

61.  Recommends that the Commission develop a sectoral strategy for the European media sector based on innovation and sustainability; considers that such a strategy should strengthen cross-border collaboration and co-productions between media actors in the EU in order to highlight their diversity and promote intercultural dialogue, to enhance cooperation with individual newsrooms and audiovisual services of all the European institutions, in particular with that of Parliament, and to foster media coverage and visibility of EU affairs;

62.  Stresses the importance of developing further models for the establishment of a European public service broadcasting platform that fosters EU-wide political debates based on facts, dissent and respect, contributes to a plurality of views in the newly converged media environment and fosters the visibility of the EU in its external relations;

63.  Requests that the Commission and the Member States protect media freedom and freedom of speech in contemporary arts by promoting the creation of artworks that give voice to social concerns, encourage critical debate and inspire counter-speech;

64.  Stresses the necessity to abolish geoblocking of information media content, thereby allowing EU citizens to access online, on-demand and replay streaming of other Member States’ television channels;

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

(1) OJ L 145, 31.5.2001, p. 43.
(2) OJ C 55, 12.2.2016, p. 33.
(3) OJ C 378, 9.11.2017, p. 104.
(4) OJ C 355, 20.10.2017, p. 51.
(5) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0095.
(6) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0409.
(7) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0022.
(8) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0402.
(9) OJ C 32, 4.2.2014, p. 6.
(10) OJ L 88, 31.3.2017, p. 6.
(11) ECLI:EU:C:2014:317.
(12) OJ C 94 E, 3.4.2013, p. 5.

Legal notice