Index 
Texts adopted
Tuesday, 11 September 2018 - StrasbourgFinal edition
Equivalence of field inspections ***I
 Common system of value added tax as regards the special scheme for small enterprises *
 Implementing decision on subjecting the new psychoactive substances cyclopropylfentanyl and methoxyacetylfentanyl to control measures *
 Mobilisation of the European Union Solidarity Fund to provide assistance to Bulgaria, Greece, Lithuania and Poland
 Draft Amending Budget No 4/2018: mobilisation of the European Union Solidarity Fund to provide assistance to Bulgaria, Greece, Lithuania and Poland
 The impact of EU cohesion policy on Northern Ireland
 Specific measures for Greece
 Pathways for the reintegration of workers recovering from injury and illness into quality employment
 Relationships between the EU and third countries concerning financial services regulation and supervision
 Boosting growth and cohesion in EU border regions
 European Solidarity Corps ***I
 Structural Reform Support Programme: financial envelope and general objective ***I
 Euratom Programme complementing the Horizon 2020 Framework Programme *
 Measures to prevent and combat mobbing and sexual harassment at the workplace, in public spaces, and in political life in the EU
 Language equality in the digital age
 Transparent and accountable management of natural resources in developing countries: the case of forests

Equivalence of field inspections ***I
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Resolution
Text
European Parliament legislative resolution of 11 September 2018 on the proposal for a decision of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Council Decision 2003/17/EC as regards the equivalence of field inspections carried out in Brazil on fodder plant seed-producing crops and cereal seed-producing crops and on the equivalence of fodder plant seed and cereal seed produced in Brazil, and as regards the equivalence of field inspections carried out in Moldova on cereal seed-producing crops, vegetable seed-producing crops and oil and fibre plant seed- producing crops and on the equivalence of cereal seed, vegetable seed and oil and fibre plant seed produced in Moldova (COM(2017)0643 – C8-0400/2017 – 2017/0297(COD))
P8_TA(2018)0318A8-0253/2018

(Ordinary legislative procedure: first reading)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Commission proposal to Parliament and the Council (COM(2017)0643),

–  having regard to Article 294(2) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, pursuant to which the Commission submitted the proposal to Parliament (C8‑0400/2017),

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

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

–  having regard to the opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee of 14 February 2018(1),

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development (A8-0253/2018),

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

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

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

Position of the European Parliament adopted at first reading on 11 September 2018 with a view to the adoption of Decision (EU) 2018/… of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Council Decision 2003/17/EC as regards the equivalence of field inspections carried out in the Federative Republic of Brazil on fodder plant seed-producing crops and cereal seed-producing crops and on the equivalence of fodder plant seed and cereal seed produced in the Federative Republic of Brazil, and as regards the equivalence of field inspections carried out in the Republic of Moldova on cereal seed-producing crops, vegetable seed-producing crops and oil and fibre plant seed-producing crops and on the equivalence of cereal seed, vegetable seed and oil and fibre plant seed produced in the Republic of Moldova

(As an agreement was reached between Parliament and Council, Parliament's position corresponds to the final legislative act, Decision (EU) 2018/1674.)

(1) OJ C 227, 28.6.2018, p. 76.


Common system of value added tax as regards the special scheme for small enterprises *
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European Parliament legislative resolution of 11 September 2018 on the proposal for a Council directive amending Directive 2006/112/EC on the common system of value added tax as regards the special scheme for small enterprises (COM(2018)0021 – C8-0022/2018 – 2018/0006(CNS))
P8_TA(2018)0319A8-0260/2018

(Special legislative procedure – consultation)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Commission proposal to the Council (COM(2018)0021),

–  having regard to Article 113 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, pursuant to which the Council consulted Parliament (C8‑0022/2018),

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs (A8-0260/2018),

1.  Approves the Commission proposal as amended;

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

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

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

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

Text proposed by the Commission   Amendment
Amendment 1
Proposal for a directive
Recital 1
(1)  Council Directive 2006/112/EC21 allows Member States to continue to apply their special schemes to small enterprises in accordance with common provisions and with a view to closer harmonisation. However, those provisions are outdated and do not reduce the compliance burden of small enterprises as they were designed for a common system of value added tax (VAT) based on taxation in the Member State of origin.
(1)  Council Directive 2006/112/EC21 allows Member States to continue to apply their special schemes to small enterprises in accordance with common provisions and with a view to closer harmonisation. However, those provisions are outdated and do not fulfil their objective of reducing the compliance burden of small enterprises as they were designed for a common system of value added tax (VAT) based on taxation in the Member State of origin.
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21 OJ L 347, 11.12.2006, p. 1.
21 OJ L 347, 11.12.2006, p. 1.
Amendment 2
Proposal for a directive
Recital 2
(2)  In its VAT action plan22 , the Commission announced a comprehensive simplification package for small enterprises aimed at reducing their administrative burden and helping create a fiscal environment to facilitate their growth and the development of cross-border trade. This would entail a review of the special scheme for small enterprises as outlined in the Communication on the follow-up to the action plan on VAT23 . The review of the special scheme for small enterprises constitutes therefore an important element of the reform package set out in the VAT action plan.
(2)  In its VAT action plan22, the Commission announced a comprehensive simplification package for small enterprises aimed at reducing their administrative burden and helping to create a fiscal environment to facilitate their growth and the development of cross-border trade, as well as to increase VAT compliance. Small enterprises in the Union are particularly active in certain sectors which operate across borders, such as construction, communications, food service and retail trade, and can constitute an important source of employment. To achieve the objectives of the VAT action plan, a review of the special scheme for small enterprises as outlined in the Communication on the follow-up to the VAT action plan23 is necessary. The review of the special scheme for small enterprises constitutes therefore an important element of the reform package set out in the VAT action plan.
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22 Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council and the European Economic and Social Committee on an action plan on VAT — Towards a single EU VAT area — Time to decide (COM(2016)0148 of 7.4.2016).
22 Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council and the European Economic and Social Committee on an action plan on VAT — Towards a single EU VAT area — Time to decide (COM(2016)0148 of 7.4.2016).
23 Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council and the European Economic and Social Committee on the follow-up to the Action Plan on VAT — Towards a single EU VAT area — Time to act (COM(2017)0566 of 4.10.2017).
23 Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council and the European Economic and Social Committee on the follow-up to the Action Plan on VAT — Towards a single EU VAT area — Time to act (COM(2017)0566 of 4.10.2017).
Amendment 3
Proposal for a directive
Recital 3
(3)  The review of this special scheme is closely linked to the Commission’s proposal setting out the principles for a definitive VAT system for cross-border business-to-business trade between Member States on the basis of the taxation of cross-border supplies of goods in the Member State of destination24 . The VAT system’s shift towards destination-based taxation has identified that a number of the current rules are not suited for a destination-based tax system.
(3)  The review of this special scheme is closely linked to the Commission’s proposal setting out the principles for a definitive VAT system for cross-border business-to-business trade between Member States on the basis of the taxation of cross-border supplies of goods in the Member State of destination24. The VAT system’s shift towards destination-based taxation has identified that a number of the current rules are not suited for a destination-based tax system. The main difficulties of enhanced cross-border trade for small enterprises arise because of the complex and diverse rules across the Union relating to VAT, as well as the fact that the national exemption for small enterprises only benefits small enterprises in the Member State in which they are established.
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24 Proposal for a Council Directive amending Directive 2006/112/EC on the common system of value added tax as regards certain harmonisation and simplification rules within the current value added tax system and introducing the definitive system for the taxation of trade between Member States (COM(2017) 569 final of 4.10.2017).
24 Proposal for a Council Directive amending Directive 2006/112/EC on the common system of value added tax as regards certain harmonisation and simplification rules within the current value added tax system and introducing the definitive system for the taxation of trade between Member States (COM(2017) 569 final of 4.10.2017).
Amendment 4
Proposal for a directive
Recital 4
(4)  In order to address the issue of the disproportionate compliance burden faced by small enterprises, simplification measures should be available not only to enterprises that are exempt under the current rules, but also to those considered small in economic terms. For the purposes of the simplification of the VAT rules, enterprises would be considered ‘small’ if their turnover qualifies them as micro enterprises under the general definition provided for in Commission Recommendation 2003/361/EC25 .
(4)  In order to address the issue of the disproportionate compliance burden faced by small enterprises, simplification measures should be available not only to enterprises that are exempt under the current rules, but also to those considered small in economic terms. The availability of such measures is particularly relevant as a majority of small enterprises, whether exempted or not, are in practice obliged to use the services of advisors or external consultants in order to assist them in complying with their VAT obligations, which adds a financial burden on those enterprises. For the purposes of the simplification of the VAT rules, enterprises would be considered ‘small’ if their turnover qualifies them as micro enterprises under the general definition provided for in Commission Recommendation 2003/361/EC25.
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25 Commission Recommendation 2003/361/EC of 6 May 2003 concerning the definition of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (OJ L 124, 20.5.2003, p. 36).
25 Commission Recommendation 2003/361/EC of 6 May 2003 concerning the definition of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (OJ L 124, 20.5.2003, p. 36).
Amendment 5
Proposal for a directive
Recital 6
(6)  Small enterprises may only benefit from the exemption where their annual turnover is below the threshold applied by the Member State in which the VAT is due. In setting their threshold, Member States should abide by the rules on thresholds laid down by Directive 2006/112/EC. Those rules, most of which were put in place in 1977, are no longer suitable.
(6)  Small enterprises may only benefit from the exemption where their annual turnover is below the threshold applied by the Member State in which the VAT is due. In setting their threshold, Member States should abide by the rules on thresholds laid down by Directive 2006/112/EC. Those rules, most of which were put in place in 1977, are no longer suitable. For reasons of flexibility and to ensure that it is possible for Member States to set appropriate lower thresholds proportional to the size and the needs of their economy, only maximum thresholds should be set at Union level.
Amendment 6
Proposal for a directive
Recital 8
(8)  Member States should be left to set their national threshold for the exemption at the level that suits their economic and political conditions best, subject to the upper threshold provided for under this Directive. In this regard, it should be clarified that where Member States apply different thresholds, this would need to be based on objective criteria.
(8)  Member States should be left to set their national threshold for the exemption at the level that suits their economic and political conditions best, subject to the upper threshold provided for under this Directive. In this regard, it should be clarified that where Member States apply different thresholds, this would need to be based on objective criteria. In order to facilitate cross-border business, the list of national thresholds for exemption should be easily accessible to all small enterprises willing to operate in several Member States.
Amendment 7
Proposal for a directive
Recital 12
(12)  Where an exemption applies, small enterprises availing themselves of the exemption should, at a minimum, have access to simplified VAT registration, invoicing, accounting and reporting obligations.
(12)  Where an exemption applies, small enterprises availing themselves of the exemption should, at a minimum, have access to simplified VAT registration, invoicing, accounting and reporting obligations. In order to avoid confusion and legal uncertainty in Member States, the Commission should produce guidelines on simplified registration and accounting, explaining in more detail the procedures to be simplified and to what extent. By ... [three years after the date of entry into force of this Directive], that simplification should be subject to evaluation by the Commission and Member States to assess whether it has an added value for, and a real positive impact on, enterprises and consumers.
Amendment 8
Proposal for a directive
Recital 13
(13)  Furthermore, in order to ensure compliance with conditions for exemption granted by a Member State to enterprises not established there, it is necessary to require prior notification of their intention to use the exemption. Such notification should be made by the small enterprise to the Member State where it is established. That Member State should thereafter, based on the information declared on the turnover of that enterprise, provide that information to the other Member States concerned.
(13)  Furthermore, in order to ensure compliance with conditions for exemption granted by a Member State to enterprises not established there, it is necessary to require prior notification of their intention to use the exemption. Such notification should be made through an online portal to be set up by the Commission. The Member State of establishment should thereafter, based on the information declared on the turnover of that enterprise, inform the other Member States concerned. Small enterprises can at any time notify their Member State of registration of their wish to revert back to the general VAT system.
Amendment 9
Proposal for a directive
Recital 15
(15)  To reduce the compliance burden of small enterprises that are not exempted, Member States should be required to simplify VAT registration and record keeping and to prolong tax periods so as to provide for less frequent filing of VAT returns.
(15)  To reduce the compliance burden of small enterprises that are not exempted, Member States should be required to simplify VAT registration and record keeping. Moreover, a one-stop shop for filing VAT returns in different Member States should be established by the Commission.
Amendment 10
Proposal for a directive
Recital 17
(17)  The objective of this Directive is to reduce the compliance burden of small enterprises, which cannot be sufficiently achieved by the Member States and can therefore be better achieved at Union level. As a result, the Union may adopt measures in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity as set out in Article 5 of the Treaty on the European Union. In accordance with the principle of proportionality as set out in Article 5, this Directive does not go beyond what is necessary in order to achieve these objectives.
(17)  The objective of this Directive is to reduce the compliance burden of small enterprises, which cannot be sufficiently achieved by the Member States and can therefore be better achieved at Union level. As a result, the Union may adopt measures in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity as set out in Article 5 of the Treaty on the European Union. In accordance with the principle of proportionality as set out in Article 5, this Directive does not go beyond what is necessary in order to achieve these objectives. Nonetheless, VAT controls arising as a result of compliance processes are valuable anti-tax fraud instruments and easing the compliance burden for small enterprises is not to be done at the expense of the fight against VAT fraud.
Amendment 11
Proposal for a directive
Article 1 – paragraph 1 – point 12
Directive 2006/112/EC
Article 284 – paragraph 4 – subparagraph 1
Prior to availing itself of the exemption in other Member States, the small enterprise shall notify the Member State in which it is established.
The Commission shall set up an online portal through which small enterprises that wish to avail themselves of the exemption in another Member State shall register.
Amendment 12
Proposal for a directive
Article 1 – paragraph 1 – point 12
Directive 2006/112/EC
Article 284 – paragraph 4 – subparagraph 2
Where a small enterprise avails itself of the exemption in Member States other than that in which it is established, the Member State of establishment shall take all measures necessary to ensure the accurate declaration of the Union annual turnover and the Member State annual turnover by the small enterprise and shall inform the tax authorities of the other Member States concerned in which the small enterprise carries out a supply.
Where a small enterprise avails itself of the exemption in Member States other than that in which it is established, the Member State of establishment shall take all measures necessary to ensure the accurate declaration of the Union annual turnover and the Member State annual turnover by the small enterprise and shall inform the tax authorities of the other Member States concerned in which the small enterprise carries out a supply. Member States shall also ensure that they have sufficient knowledge of the status of small enterprises and of their shareholding or ownership relationships, so as to be able to confirm their status as small enterprises.
Amendment 13
Proposal for a directive
Article 1 – paragraph 1 – point 15
Directive 2006/112/EC
Article 288a – paragraph 1
Where during a subsequent calendar year the Member State annual turnover of a small enterprise exceeds the exemption threshold referred to in Article 284(1), the small enterprise shall be able to continue to benefit from the exemption for that year, provided that its Member State annual turnover during that year does not exceed the threshold set out in Article 284(1) by more than 50%.
Where during a subsequent calendar year the Member State annual turnover of a small enterprise exceeds the exemption threshold referred to in Article 284(1), the small enterprise shall be able to continue to benefit from the exemption for two further years, provided that its Member State annual turnover during those two years does not exceed the threshold set out in Article 284(1) by more than 33%.
Amendment 14
Proposal for a directive
Article 1 – paragraph 1 – point 17
(17)  Articles 291 to 294 are deleted;
(17)  Articles 291 and 292 are deleted;
Amendment 15
Proposal for a directive
Article 1 – paragraph 1 – point 17 a (new)
Directive 2006/112/EC
Article 293 – paragraph 1
(17a)   in Article 293, paragraph 1 is replaced by the following:
Every four years starting from the adoption of this Directive, the Commission shall present to the Council, on the basis of information obtained from the Member States, a report on the application of this Chapter, together, where appropriate and taking into account the need to ensure the long-term convergence of national regulations, with proposals on the following subjects:(1) improvements to the special scheme for small enterprises;(2) the adaptation of national systems as regards exemptions and graduated tax relief;(3) the adaptation of the ceilings provided for in Section 2.
Every four years starting from the adoption of this Directive, the Commission shall present to the European Parliament and the Council, on the basis of information obtained from the Member States, a report on the application of this Chapter, together, where appropriate and taking into account the need to ensure the long-term convergence of national regulations, with proposals on the following subjects:
(i)   improvements to the special scheme for small enterprises;
(ii)   the adaptation of national systems as regards exemptions and the possibility of harmonising exemption thresholds across the Union;
(iii)   the adaptation of the ceilings provided for in Section 2.
Amendment 16
Proposal for a directive
Article 1 – paragraph 1 – point 17 b (new)
(17b)   Article 294 is deleted;
Amendment 17
Proposal for a directive
Article 1 – paragraph 1 – point 18
Directive 2006/112/EC
Article 294e
Article 294e
Article 294e
Member States may release exempt small enterprises from the obligation to submit a VAT return laid down in Article 250.
Member States shall either release exempt small enterprises from the obligation to submit a VAT return laid down in Article 250 or they shall allow such exempt small enterprises to submit a simplified VAT return – that includes at least the following information: chargeable VAT, deductible VAT, net VAT amount (payable or receivable), total value of input transactions and total value of output transactions – to cover the period of a calendar year. However, small enterprises may opt for the application of the tax period set in accordance with Article 252.
Where this option is not exercised, Member States shall allow such exempt small enterprises to submit a simplified VAT return to cover the period of a calendar year. However, small enterprises may opt for the application of the tax period set in accordance with Article 252.
Amendment 18
Proposal for a directive
Article 1 – paragraph 1 – point 18
Directive 2006/112/EC
Article 294i
Article 294i
deleted
For small enterprises the tax period to be covered in a VAT return shall be the period of a calendar year. However, small enterprises may opt for application of the tax period set in accordance with Article 252.
Amendment 19
Proposal for a directive
Article 1 – paragraph 1 – point 18
Directive 2006/112/EC
Article 294i a (new)
Article 294i a
The Commission shall establish a one-stop shop through which small enterprises can file VAT returns of the different Member States in which they are operating. The Member State of establishment shall be responsible for VAT collection.
Amendment 20
Proposal for a directive
Article 1 – paragraph 1 – point 18
Directive 2006/112/EC
Article 294j
Article 294j
deleted
Notwithstanding Article 206, Member States shall not require interim payments to be made by small enterprises.
Amendment 21
Proposal for a directive
Article 1a (new)
Regulation (EU) No 904/2010
Article 31 – paragraph 1
Article 1a
Regulation (EU) 904/2010 is amended as follows:
In Article 31, paragraph 1 is replaced by the following:
1.  The competent authorities of each Member State shall ensure that persons involved in the intra-Community supply of goods or of services and non-established taxable persons supplying telecommunication services, broadcasting services and electronically supplied services, in particular those referred to in Annex II to Directive 2006/112/EC, are allowed to obtain, for the purposes of such transactions, confirmation by electronic means of the validity of the VAT identification number of any specified person as well as the associated name and address. This information shall correspond to the data referred to in Article 17.
1. The competent authorities of each Member State shall ensure that persons involved in the intra-Community supply of goods or of services and non-established taxable persons supplying telecommunication services, broadcasting services and electronically supplied services, in particular those referred to in Annex II to Directive 2006/112/EC, are allowed to obtain, for the purposes of such transactions, confirmation by electronic means of the validity of the VAT identification number of any specified person as well as the associated name and address. This information shall correspond to the data referred to in Article 17. The VAT information exchange system (VIES) shall specify whether or not eligible small enterprises avail themselves of the VAT exemption for small enterprises.’
Amendment 22
Proposal for a directive
Article 2 – paragraph 1 – subparagraph 1
Member States shall adopt and publish, by 30 June 2022 at the latest, the laws, regulations and administrative provisions necessary to comply with this Directive. They shall communicate to the Commission the text of those provisions without delay.
Member States shall adopt and publish, by 31 December 2019 at the latest, the laws, regulations and administrative provisions necessary to comply with this Directive. They shall communicate to the Commission the text of those provisions without delay.
Amendment 23
Proposal for a directive
Article 2 – paragraph 1 – subparagraph 2
They shall apply those provisions from 1 July 2022.
They shall apply those provisions from 1 January 2020.

Implementing decision on subjecting the new psychoactive substances cyclopropylfentanyl and methoxyacetylfentanyl to control measures *
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European Parliament legislative resolution of 11 September 2018 on the draft Council implementing decision on subjecting the new psychoactive substances N-phenyl-N-[1-(2-phenylethyl)piperidin-4-yl]cyclopropanecarboxamide (cyclopropylfentanyl) and 2-methoxy-N-phenyl-N-[1-(2-phenylethyl)piperidin-4-yl]acetamide (methoxyacetylfentanyl) to control measures (09420/2018 – C8-0278/2018 – 2018/0118(NLE))
P8_TA(2018)0320A8-0271/2018

(Consultation)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Council draft (09420/2018),

–  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 (C8‑0278/2018),

–  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 (A8-0271/2018),

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 Union Solidarity Fund to provide assistance to Bulgaria, Greece, Lithuania and Poland
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Resolution
Annex
European Parliament resolution of 11 September 2018 on the proposal for a decision of the European Parliament and of the Council on the mobilisation of the European Union Solidarity Fund to provide assistance to Bulgaria, Greece, Lithuania and Poland (COM(2018)0360 – C8-0245/2018 – 2018/2078(BUD))
P8_TA(2018)0321A8-0272/2018

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Commission proposal to the European Parliament and the Council (COM(2018)0360 – C8‑0245/2018),

–  having regard to Council Regulation (EC) No 2012/2002 of 11 November 2002 establishing the European Union Solidarity Fund(1),

–  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 10 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), and in particular point 11 thereof,

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgets (A8-0272/2018),

1.  Welcomes the decision as a sign of the Union’s solidarity with Union citizens and regions hit by natural disasters;

2.  Stresses the urgent need to release financial assistance through the European Union Solidarity Fund ('the Fund') to the regions affected by natural disasters and regrets the number of lives lost in natural disasters in the Union in 2017;

3.  Calls for further optimisation of the mobilisation procedure leading to a shorter application-to-payment time; recalls that quick disbursement to beneficiaries is of major importance to local communities, local authorities and for their trust in the Union's solidarity;

4.  Supports Member States using European structural and investment funds for the reconstruction of the affected regions; invites the Commission to support and rapidly approve the financial reallocation of the partnership agreements requested by Member States to this end;

5.  Calls on Member States to utilise the financial contribution from the Fund in a transparent way, guaranteeing a fair distribution throughout the affected regions;

6.  Approves the decision annexed to this resolution;

7.  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;

8.  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 Union Solidarity Fund to provide assistance to Bulgaria, Greece, Lithuania and Poland

(The text of this annex is not reproduced here since it corresponds to the final act, Decision (EU) 2018/1505.)

(1) OJ L 311, 14.11.2002, p. 3.
(2) OJ L 347, 20.12.2013, p. 884.
(3) OJ C 373, 20.12.2013, p. 1.


Draft Amending Budget No 4/2018: mobilisation of the European Union Solidarity Fund to provide assistance to Bulgaria, Greece, Lithuania and Poland
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European Parliament resolution of 11 September 2018 on the Council position on Draft amending budget No 4/2018 of the European Union for the financial year 2018 accompanying the proposal to mobilise the European Union Solidarity Fund to provide assistance to Bulgaria, Greece, Lithuania and Poland (11738/2018 – C8-0395/2018 – 2018/2082(BUD))
P8_TA(2018)0322A8-0273/2018

The European Parliament,

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

–  having regard to Article 106a of the Treaty establishing the European Atomic Energy Community,

–  having regard to Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 966/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 October 2012 on the financial rules applicable to the general budget of the Union and repealing Council Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 1605/2002(1), and in particular Article 41 thereof,

–  having regard to Regulation (EU, Euratom) 2018/1046 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 18 July 2018 on the financial rules applicable to the general budget of the Union, amending Regulations (EU) No 1296/2013, (EU) No 1301/2013, (EU) No 1303/2013, (EU) No 1304/2013, (EU) No 1309/2013, (EU) No 1316/2013, (EU) No 223/2014, (EU) No 283/2014, and Decision No 541/2014/EU, and repealing Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 966/2012(2), and in particular Article 44 thereof,

–  having regard to the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2018, as definitively adopted on 30 November 2017(3),

–  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(4) (MFF Regulation),

–  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(5),

–  having regard to Council Decision 2014/335/EU, Euratom of 26 May 2014 on the system of own resources of the European Union(6),

–  having regard to Draft amending budget No 4/2018, which the Commission adopted on 31 May 2018 (COM(2018)0361),

–  having regard to the position on Draft amending budget No 4/2018 which the Council adopted on 4 September 2018 and forwarded to Parliament on the same day (11738/2018 – C8‑0395/2018),

–  having regard to Rules 88 and 91 of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgets (A8-0273/2018),

A.  whereas Draft amending budget No 4/2018 covers the proposed mobilisation of the European Union Solidarity Fund to provide assistance to Bulgaria and Lithuania for the floodings, to Greece for the earthquakes in Kos, as well as to Poland for the storms that occurred in the course of 2017,

B.  whereas the Commission consequently proposes to amend the 2018 budget and to increase budget line 13 06 01 'Assistance to Member States in the event of a major natural disaster with serious repercussions on living conditions, the natural environment or the economy' by EUR 33 992 206 both in commitment and payment appropriations;

C.  whereas the European Union Solidarity Fund is a special instrument as defined in the MFF Regulation, and the corresponding commitment and payments appropriations are to be budgeted over and above the MFF ceilings;

1.  Approves the Council position on Draft amending budget No 4/2018;

2.  Instructs its President to declare that Amending budget No 4/2018 has been definitively adopted and arrange for its publication in the Official Journal of the European Union;

3.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Court of Auditors and the national parliaments.

(1) OJ L 298, 26.10.2012, p. 1.
(2) OJ L 193, 30.7.2018, p. 1.
(3) OJ L 57, 28.02.2018.
(4) OJ L 347, 20.12.2013, p. 884.
(5) OJ C 373, 20.12.2013, p. 1.
(6) OJ L 168, 7.6.2014, p. 105.


The impact of EU cohesion policy on Northern Ireland
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European Parliament resolution of 11 September 2018 on the impact of EU cohesion policy on Northern Ireland (2017/2225(INI))
P8_TA(2018)0323A8-0240/2018

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the impact of EU cohesion policy on Northern Ireland,

–  having regard to the provisions of the 1998 Belfast Agreement (Good Friday Agreement),

–  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 Budgetary Control (A8-0240/2018),

A.  whereas EU cohesion policy in Northern Ireland operates through various instruments, including the European Regional Development Fund, the European Social Fund, the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development, the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund, the PEACE Programme for Northern Ireland and the Border Region and the cross-border Interreg programme;

B.  whereas it is clear that Northern Ireland is a region that has benefited greatly from the EU’s cohesion policy; whereas the commitment to future funding in the Commission’s draft multiannual financial framework (MFF) for 2021-2027 is very welcome;

C.  whereas, in addition to the more general cohesion policy funds, Northern Ireland has benefited in particular from special cross-border and inter- and cross-community programmes, including the PEACE Programme;

D.  whereas EU cohesion policy, particularly through the PEACE Programme, has decisively contributed to the peace process in Northern Ireland, supports the Good Friday Agreement and continues to support the reconciliation of the communities;

E.  whereas following the creation of the first PEACE Programme in 1995, more than EUR 1.5 billion has been spent with the dual aim of promoting cohesion between communities involved in the conflict in Northern Ireland and the border counties of Ireland, as well as economic and social stability;

F.  whereas the success of EU cohesion funding partly derives from the fact that it is seen as ‘neutral money’, i.e. not directly linked to the interests of either community;

1.  Underlines the important and positive contribution of EU cohesion policy to Northern Ireland, particularly in terms of assisting the recovery of deprived urban and rural areas, of tackling climate change and of building cross-community and cross-border contacts in the context of the peace process; notes in particular that assistance to deprived urban and rural areas often takes the form of support for new economic development that promotes the knowledge economy, such as the Science Parks in Belfast and Derry/Londonderry;

2.  Emphasises that more than EUR 1 billion in EU financial assistance will be spent on economic and social development in Northern Ireland and the neighbouring regions in the current financing period, of which EUR 230 million will be invested in the Northern Ireland PEACE Programme (with a total budget of almost EUR 270 million) and EUR 240 million in the Interreg V-A programme for Northern Ireland, Ireland and Scotland (with a total budget of EUR 280 million);

3.  Considers that the special EU programmes for Northern Ireland, especially the PEACE Programme, are of key importance for sustaining the peace process, as they foster reconciliation and inter- and cross-community and cross-border contacts; notes that cross-community and cross-border social hubs and shared services are particularly important in this regard;

4.  Welcomes the important steps forward that have been taken in Northern Ireland under the PEACE Programme, and acknowledges the work of all parties in this process;

5.  Sees that inter- and cross-community trust-building measures, and measures for a peaceful coexistence, such as shared spaces and support networks, have played a key role in the peace process, as shared spaces allow the communities in Northern Ireland to come together as a single community for joint activities and develop mutual trust and respect, thereby helping to heal the divide;

6.  Emphasises the importance of community-led local development and of the bottom-up approach, which encourages all communities to take ownership of projects, thus enhancing the peace process;

7.  Notes the attachment of all stakeholders in Northern Ireland to the continuance of EU cohesion policy goals in the region; stresses, in this regard, the importance of coordinated multilevel governance and the partnership principle;

8.  Is of the opinion, nevertheless, that more must be done to increase general awareness and visibility of the impact and necessity of EU funding in Northern Ireland, in particular by informing the general public about the impact of EU-funded projects for the peace process and the economic development of the region;

9.  Welcomes the fact that management and control systems in the regions are functioning properly and that EU financial assistance is therefore being spent effectively; stresses, nevertheless, that in addition to compliance, the underlying objectives of the PEACE Programme must always be taken into account when assessing the performance of this programme;

10.  Without prejudice to the ongoing EU-UK negotiations, believes that it is crucial, post-2020, for Northern Ireland to be able to participate in certain special EU programmes, such as the PEACE Programme and the Interreg V-A programme for Northern Ireland, Ireland and Scotland, as this would strongly benefit sustainable economic and social development, particularly in disadvantaged, rural and border areas, by reducing existing gaps; urges, furthermore, in the context of the post-2020 MFF, that all relevant financial instruments be used to enable the continuation of the objectives of cohesion policy;

11.  Considers that, post-2020, without prejudice to the ongoing EU-UK negotiations, EU support for territorial cooperation, especially regarding cross-border and cross-community projects, should be continued in view of the achievements of the special EU cohesion programmes for Northern Ireland, namely the PEACE Programme and the Interreg programmes, which are particularly important for the stability of the region; fears that an end to these programmes would endanger cross-border and inter- and cross-community trust-building activities and, as a consequence, the peace process;

12.  Emphasises that 85 % of funding for the PEACE and Interreg programmes comes from the EU; considers, therefore, that it is important that the EU should continue to reach out to the communities in Northern Ireland post-2020 by playing an active role in the administration of the available EU cohesion and inter- and cross-community funding in Northern Ireland, thereby helping them to overcome societal divisions; in this context, believes that funding should be maintained at an adequate level post-2020; stresses that this is important to allow the peace-building work to continue;

13.  Calls on the Commission to promote the Northern Irish experience with cohesion funding, especially with the PEACE Programme, as an example of how the EU is addressing inter-community conflicts and community divisions; stresses, in this regard, that the Northern Irish reconciliation process is a positive example for other areas in the EU which have experienced conflict;

14.  Stresses that good practices with cohesion funding and the PEACE Programme should be taken as the EU model and promoted in order to overcome mistrust among communities in conflict and to achieve lasting peace in other parts of Europe and even worldwide;

15.  Considers that it is essential that the people of Northern Ireland, and in particular young people, should continue to have access to economic, social and cultural exchanges across Europe, particularly to the Erasmus+ programme;

16.  Notes the Commission’s intention to propose the continuation of the PEACE and Interreg programmes in its proposal for the MFF 2021-2027; notes, in addition, the UK position paper on the future of Cohesion Policy of April 2018, in which the UK states its willingness to explore a potential successor to PEACE IV, as well as Interreg V-A, for the post-2020 period with the Northern Ireland Executive, the Irish Government and the EU, in addition to its engagement to honour commitments to PEACE and Interreg under the current MFF;

17.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council and the Commission, to the Northern Ireland Assembly and Executive, and to the governments and parliaments of the Member States and their regions.


Specific measures for Greece
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European Parliament resolution of 11 September 2018 on the implementation of specific measures for Greece under Regulation (EU) 2015/1839 (2018/2038(INI))
P8_TA(2018)0324A8-0244/2018

The European Parliament,

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

–  having regard to the communication from the Commission of 15 July 2015 entitled ‘A new start for jobs and growth in Greece’ (COM(2015)0400),

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) 2015/1839 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 14 October 2015 amending Regulation (EU) No 1303/2013 as regards specific measures for Greece(2),

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) 2017/825 on the establishment of the Structural Reform Support Programme for the period 2017 to 2020 (SRSP)(3),

–  having regard to the Commission staff working document of 19 September 2016 on ex post evaluations of the ERDF and Cohesion Fund 2007-2013 (SWD(2016)0318),

–  having regard to the report from the Hellenic Ministry of Economy and Development on the use of the amounts under Regulation (EU) 2015/1839 (programming period 2007‑2013)(4),

–   having regard to the Oral Question to the Commission on the Implementation of Regulation (EU) 2015/1839 on specific measures for Greece (O-000100/2017 – B8-0001/2018),

–  having regard to Rule 52 of its Rules of Procedure, as well as to 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 (A8-0244/2018),

A.  whereas cohesion policy is an expression of solidarity and the main investment instrument of the EU, covering all regions and reducing disparities; whereas the importance of its added value and its flexibility during the economic and financial crisis have been confirmed on several occasions; whereas, with the existing budgetary resources, cohesion policy has contributed to maintaining much-needed public investment opportunities, helped to prevent the crisis from worsening and enabled Member States and regions to adopt tailor-made responses in view of increasing their resilience to unexpected events and external shocks;

B.  whereas support between 2007 and 2015 from the ERDF and the Cohesion Fund (CF) in Greece amounted to EUR 15.8 billion, equivalent to some 19 % of total government capital expenditure;

C.  whereas the economic and financial crisis had led to persistently negative growth rates in Greece, which could not be addressed by the three international rescue packages, as well as to serious liquidity problems and a lack of public funds;

D.   whereas Greece and the Greek islands have been – and continue to be – particularly hard-hit by the refugee and migration crisis and are under great pressure from the increased inflows of migrants and refugees, resulting in a huge blow to local economic activity, particularly in the area of tourism;

E.  whereas between 2007 and 2013, Greece’s GDP declined by 26 % in real terms and while the recession came to an end in 2014, growth over the following two years was less than 1 %; whereas the employment rate fell from 66 % to 53 % in 2013, implying that only over half of working-age people were in employment, while unemployment increased from 8.4 % to 27.5 % over the same period, strongly impacting the purchasing power of the Greek population and severely affecting several sectors, including health; whereas, according to the latest Eurostat data, the rate of unemployment stands at 20.8 %, with a high level of youth unemployment;

F.  whereas the Commission and the co-legislators acknowledged in 2015 that Greece has been affected by the crisis in a unique manner, which could have had a severe impact on both the finalisation of the operations under the 2000-2006 and the 2007-2013 operational programmes and the start of the implementation of the 2014-2020 cohesion policy programmes;

G.  whereas the adoption of Regulation (EU) 2015/1839 was intended to provide Greece with liquidity at a crucial moment before the implementation of programmes had come to a halt and necessary investment opportunities had been missed, as substantial amounts would have been recovered in the event of failure to complete projects from the 2000‑2006 and the 2007-2013 periods;

H.  whereas Regulation (EU) 2015/1839 set out an additional initial pre-financing for the 2014-2020 programming period, of two instalments of 3.5 % each of the amount of support from the cohesion policy funds and the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF), as well as the application for the 2007-2013 programming period of a 100 % cofinancing rate to the eligible expenditure and the early release of the last 5 % of remaining EU payments, which should have been retained until the closure of the programmes;

I.  whereas the Regulation was adopted with a view to responding as promptly as possible to a serious crisis situation and ensuring that Greece had sufficient funding to complete the projects under the 2007-2013 programming period and to start implementation under the current period;

J.  whereas according to Article 152(6)(2), Greece had to submit, by the end of 2016, a report to the Commission on the implementation of the provisions related to the application of the 100 % cofinancing rate and to the ceiling for payments to programmes at the end of the programming period;

K.  whereas the EU also paid for 95 % of the total investment cost under the 2007-2013 financing period in Greece (maximum of 85 % otherwise applicable), through the so‑called ‘top-up’ measure Regulation (EU) No 1311/2011;

L.  whereas a ring-fenced account was put in place in October 2015, to which all funds allocated to the financing of EU-financed projects were transferred in order to ensure that they were used solely for payments to beneficiaries and operations under the operational programmes;

M.  whereas Greece has also received support since 2011 through the Commission’s Task Force for Greece, providing technical assistance for the country’s reform process, and since 2015 through the Structural Reform Support Service providing assistance for the preparation, design, implementation and evaluation of growth-enhancing reforms; whereas Regulation (EU) 2017/825 on the establishment of the Structural Reform Support Programme (SRSP) for the period 2017 to 2020 entered into force on 20 May 2017 and marked an important moment for the commitments of the Structural Reform Support Service with the interested Member States, including Greece;

1.  Reiterates the important role cohesion policy plays in delivering the EU objectives of smart, sustainable and inclusive growth, combating unemployment, reducing inequalities and strengthening the competitiveness of all EU regions, in expressing European solidarity and in complementing other policies; recalls, moreover, that the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIFs) are the biggest source of direct investment in Greece;

2.  Takes note of the report on the use of the amounts under Regulation (EU) 2015/1839 related to the 2007-2013 programming period which was due at the end of 2016; notes that the report was submitted by the Greek authorities in May 2017 and made available to Parliament in December 2017, after several requests; appreciates that the Commission has provided Parliament with a provisional assessment of the list of 181 priority projects, amounting to EUR 11.5 billion and equivalent to about 55 % of the total ERDF, CF and ESF allocations to Greece for 2007-2013, of which 118 had already been successfully implemented by the end of the programming period and 24 considered as being phased out;

3.  Stresses that according to the data provided in the above report, following the adoption of the Regulation as regards specific measures for Greece, the direct impact on liquidity in 2015 was of EUR 1 001 709 731.50 and the 2016 inputs amounted to EUR 467 674 209.45; notes, moreover, that together with the increase of the initial pre‑financing for the 2014-2020 programming period, Greece received approximately EUR 2 billion in 2015-2016;

4.  Appreciates that the amounts paid were directed to a wide range of projects: transport and other infrastructures (environment, tourism, culture, urban and rural regeneration, social infrastructures), information society projects, and actions to develop human resources; welcomes, in addition, the fact that 63 % of total payments to state aid projects concerned aid for enterprises and business projects, contributing directly to competitiveness and the reduction of entrepreneurial risk, while 37 % concerned state aid actions for infrastructure projects, supplementing the arrangements in the field of market conditions and business improvement;

5.  Appreciates that the report submitted by the Greek authorities acknowledges that the liquidity increase represented at the same time an enhancement of financial revenue, by approximately EUR 1.5 billion, and of the public investment programme for 2015-2016;

6.  Welcomes the effects of the measures as regards the enhancement of economic activity, the normalisation and consolidation of the turnover and working capital of a significant number of businesses, the creation and preservation of jobs, and the completion of important production infrastructures, reflected also in a significant impact on tax revenue in the budget;

7.  Understands that the funds paid by the EU as a result of the implementation of the Regulation were used in 2015 for the completion of the projects under the Operational Programmes until the end of the eligibility period, and that in 2016, the remaining amount which was paid alongside national resources also contributed to the completion of other projects;

8.  Appreciates that the Greek authorities undertook to reorganise the project classification and identify major projects to be selected for completion; underlines that this helped significantly to overcome institutional and administrative obstacles and to establish priority actions to be implemented without further delay, thus also preventing financial corrections; welcomes the fact that the funds paid by the EU under Regulation (EU) 2015/1839 significantly reduced the number of projects declared as incomplete; notes that, compared to the 2000-2006 programming period, in which some 900 projects were not completed, 79 projects had still not been completed at the time of submission of the final claims for the 2007-2013 programming period, but that these are expected to be completed with the use of national funds;

9.  Underlines that the absorption of structural funds has notably improved and, as at the end of March 2016, the payments rate in Greece for the 2007-2013 programming period was over 97 %(5) and that according to the state of execution of total payments and ‘reste à liquider’ (RAL) for the programmes for 2007-2013 of 31 March 2018, Greece has no RAL under Heading 1b(6); welcomes the fact that Greece was the first Member State to have fully taken up the available resources and to reach a 100 % absorption rate compared to the EU average of 96 %;

10.  Acknowledges, however, that absorption rates provide only indicative information and that an emphasis on the absorption of funds should not be at the expense of effectiveness, added value and quality of investments; notes that the specific measures are of a macroeconomic nature and that their effects are difficult to trace to individual projects;

11.  Recalls that the ESI Funds have a significant impact on GDP and other indicators in several Members States, as well as on social, economic and territorial cohesion in general, and that investment supported by cohesion and rural development policies in Greece is estimated to have increased GDP in 2015, at the end of the previous programming period, by over 2 % above the level it would have been in the absence of the funding provided; recalls that the use of EU structural funds must always focus on delivering its Treaty-based objectives and on achieving real EU added value, target EU priorities and go beyond mere GDP growth;

12.  Takes note of the mainly quantitative analysis of the report submitted by the Greek authorities on the use of the amounts under Regulation (EU) 2015/1839 related to the 2007-2013 programming period, complying with the legal requirements; acknowledges that the effect of the specific measures cannot be separated from the overall impact of the ESI Funds in Greece but considers that a qualitative assessment, although difficult to carry out, would help to complement the analysis and understand the results achieved; encourages the Commission to provide more information in terms of increased competitiveness and productivity and sustainability in social and ecological aspects;

13.  Appreciates the fact that, according to the final data communicated to the Commission on 31 December 2016, the amount of payment requests by the Greek authorities was EUR 1.6 billion and that Greece showed, as at 31 March 2018, a 28 % implementation rate for the 2014-2020 programming period(7), being among the best performing Member States, in general, despite some differences to be noted concerning the level of breakdown or the absorption rate by fund; endorses, furthermore, the adoption of Regulation (EU) 2015/1839 as an important measure, appropriate to provide tailor-made support at a crucial moment for Greece; welcomes the fact that, as required, the additional pre-financing was entirely covered by intermediate requests for payment by the ERDF and the CF, while noting that it was not fully covered by the European Social Fund (around 4 %) or the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund;

14.  Recalls the importance of relevant structural reforms; acknowledges the efforts made and invites Greece to continue making full use of the possibilities for assistance under the SRSP, in order to create a sound business environment for the efficient and effective use of ESI funds and for maximising their socioeconomic impact;

15.  Acknowledges that by supporting public investment and deploying EU investments flexibly, through the reprogramming of funds or by raising the cofinancing rate, regional policy mitigated the impact of the financial crisis and of sustained fiscal consolidation in several Member States; stresses, in this context, the importance of ensuring the appropriate funding thereof for the next Multiannual Financial Framework; reiterates nevertheless that cohesion policy should be seen as the main public investment tool and as a catalyst to attract additional public and private funding, and that similar measures resulting in a reduction in the national cofinancing quotas required for receiving funding for operational programmes financed by the Structural Funds, for Greece or another Member State, should be envisaged on an exceptional basis only and, prior to their adoption and implementation, examined from the perspective of their effectiveness, and duly justified;

16.  Notes that some regions face difficulties in cofinancing projects under the ESI Funds; calls, therefore, on the Commission to consider, as a matter of urgency, in the context of the European Semester and the Stability and Growth Pact, the impact on the calculation of government deficits of regional investments cofinanced through the ESI Funds, especially of those in the less developed regions;

17.  Reminds the Greek authorities of the importance of ensuring proper communication and visibility of investments under the ESI Funds;

18.  Welcomes the preliminary assessment that the 2007-2013 programming period is expected to be closed with no loss of funds for Greece; asks the Commission to inform Parliament on the results of the closure process, which is expected to be concluded in the first half of 2018, as well as to provide an update on the projects to be completed with national funds and those which were still uncompleted as at 31 March 2018;

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

(1) OJ L 347, 20.12.2013, p. 320.
(2) OJ L 270, 15.10.2015, p. 1.
(3) OJ L 129, 19.5.2017, p. 1.
(4) Athens, May 2017.
(5) Commission Staff Working Document on ex post evaluations of the ERDF and Cohesion Fund 2007-2013.
(6) State of execution of total payments and the level of the 'reste à liquider' (RAL) for Heading lb (programmes 2007-2013) - Designation of national authorities and state of execution of interim payments of 2014-2020 ESIF Operational Programmes (Status as of 31 March 2018).
(7) State of execution of total payments and the level of the ‘reste à liquider’ (RAL) for Heading lb (programmes 2007-2013) - Designation of national authorities and state of execution of interim payments of 2014-2020 ESIF Operational Programmes (Status as of 31 March 2018).


Pathways for the reintegration of workers recovering from injury and illness into quality employment
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European Parliament resolution of 11 September 2018 on pathways for the reintegration of workers recovering from injury and illness into quality employment (2017/2277(INI))
P8_TA(2018)0325A8-0208/2018

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,

–  having regard to the European Charter of Fundamental Rights,

–  having regard to the Interinstitutional Proclamation on the European Pillar of Social Rights,

–  having regard to the European Social Charter of 3 May 1996,

–  having regard to its resolution of 15 September 2016 on the application of the Council Directive 2000/78/EC of 27 November 2000 establishing a general framework for equal treatment in employment and occupation (‘Employment Equality Directive’)(1),

–  having regard to the European Chronic Disease Alliance’s joint statement of November 2017 on “Improving the employment of people with chronic diseases in Europe”,

–  having regard to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD) and its entry into force in the EU on 21 January 2011, in accordance with Council Decision 2010/48/EC of 26 November 2009,

–  having regard to its resolution of 25 November 2015 on the EU Strategic Framework on Health and Safety at Work 2014-2020(2),

–  having regard to the 2014 joint report by the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA) and the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions (Eurofound) on “Psychosocial risks in Europe – Prevalence and strategies for prevention”,

–  having regard to its resolution of 30 November 2017 on implementation of the European Disability Strategy(3),

–  having regard to its resolution of 7 July 2016 on the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, with special regard to the Concluding Observations of the UN CRPD Committee(4),

–  having regard to the Declaration of Philadelphia of 10 May 1944 on the goals and objectives of the International Labour Organisation (ILO),

–  having regard to its resolution of 23 May 2007 on promoting decent work for all(5),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 2 July 2008 entitled a ‘Renewed social agenda: Opportunities, access and solidarity in 21st century Europe’ (COM(2008)0412),

–  having regard to the Commission report of 24 February 2011 on the implementation of the European social partners’ Framework Agreement on Work-related Stress (SEC(2011)0241),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 21 February 2007 entitled ‘Improving quality and productivity at work: Community strategy 2007-2012 on health and safety at work’ (COM(2007)0062),

–  having regard to Council Directive 2000/78/EC of 27 November 2000 establishing a general framework for equal treatment in employment and occupation(6),

–  having regard to the Anti-Discrimination Directive 2000/78/EC and case law of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), such as, Joined Cases C-335/11 and C-337/11 of April 2013 (HK Denmark), which together establish the prohibition for employers to discriminate when long-term ill health can be assimilated to handicap, as well as the obligation for employers to make reasonable adaptations to working conditions,

–  having regard to the EU Joint Action on Mental Health and Well-being launched in 2013,

–  having regard to the EU-OSHA’s campaign entitled ‘Healthy Workplaces Manage Stress’,

–  having regard to its recent pilot project on health and safety of older workers, carried out by the EU-OSHA,

–  having regard to the EU-OSHA 2016 report entitled ‘Rehabilitation and return to work: Analysis report on EU and Member States policies, strategies and programmes’,

–  having regard to the Eurofound 2014 report on ‘Employment opportunities for people with chronic diseases’,

–  having regard to Business Europe’s 2012 paper on ‘Employers’ practices for Active Ageing’,

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs (A8-0208/2018),

A.  whereas work-related stress is a growing problem and the second most frequently reported work-related health problem in Europe; whereas 25 %(7) of workers report that they experience work-related stress; whereas work-related stress can undermine the individual’s right to healthy working conditions; whereas work-related stress further contributes to absenteeism and low job satisfaction, negatively impacts productivity and accounts for almost half the number of working days lost each year;

B.  whereas the ageing of the European workforce presents new challenges as regards the working environment and the changed organisation of work; whereas ageing is accompanied by a higher risk of developing chronic mental and physical health problems, including disabilities and illnesses, which make prevention, reintegration and rehabilitation important policies to keep workplaces as well as pension and social security systems sustainable; whereas chronic diseases do not concern only the older population;

C.  whereas long‑term work absence has a detrimental impact on mental and physical health, as well as high social and economic costs, and can prevent return to work; whereas health and wellbeing play a central role in building sustainable economies; whereas it is important to consider the serious financial impact of diseases or disabilities on families if those affected cannot go back to work;

D.  whereas while a distinction exists between disability, injury, illness and conditions associated with age, these also often overlap and require a comprehensive yet case-by-case approach on an individual basis;

E.  whereas ageing is one of the main social challenges facing the EU; whereas there is therefore a need for policies to foster active ageing to enable people to stay active and in employment until retirement age, or beyond if they so wish; whereas the older generation and its experience are indispensable for the labour market; whereas older people willing to stay in work often look for flexible or individualised working arrangements; whereas illness, disability and exclusion from work has serious financial consequences;

F.  whereas smoking, alcohol and drug abuse are among the most significant health-risk factors for the working-age population in the EU, associated as they are with both injuries and various non-communicable diseases(8); whereas 20-25 % of all workplace accidents involve people under the influence of alcohol(9), and whereas it is estimated that between 5 % and 20 % of the working population in Europe have serious problems related to their use of alcohol(10); whereas the reintegration of workers who have suffered from substance-abuse problems into quality employment presents specific challenges for employers;

G.  whereas people with disabilities or chronic diseases, or that are recovering from injury or illness, are in a vulnerable situation and should benefit from individualised support when returning to their place of work or the labour market; whereas some people with chronic conditions do not wish to, or cannot, return to work;

H.  whereas the field of occupational rehabilitation and return to work could provide valuable volunteering opportunities, for example by engaging volunteer work after retirement; whereas volunteering should be supported at any age;

I.  whereas employers first need to promote a health and safety culture in the workplace; whereas volunteering to take part in occupational safety and health (OSH) activities such as working groups could also contribute to the changing of culture;

J.  whereas work plays an important role in facilitating the recovery and rehabilitation process, given the key positive psycho-social benefits work brings to the employee; whereas good OSH practices are crucial for a productive and motivated workforce, which helps companies remain competitive and innovative, ensures workers’ wellbeing and helps maintain valuable skills and work experience, reduce staff turnover and prevent exclusion, accident and injury; whereas, therefore, the Commission is encouraged to consider whole-cost accounting in the field of active and social inclusion; whereas the adoption of appropriate and individually tailored approaches towards the reintegration of people recovering from injury or illness into quality employment is an important factor in preventing additional absenteeism or sickness presenteeism;

K.  whereas the definition of people with reduced working capacity can vary across Member States;

L.  whereas SMEs and micro-enterprises have particular needs in this regard as they have fewer of the resources needed to comply with the obligations attendant to sickness and accident prevention and, therefore, often require support in order to attain their OSH objectives; whereas, on the other hand, good OSH practices are crucial for SMEs and micro-enterprises, particularly for the sustainability of their business; whereas various EU-financed programmes offer possibilities for valuable exchange of innovations and best practices in the field of sustainable OSH;

M.  whereas negative psychosocial factors in the workplace are linked not only to health outcomes, but also to increased absenteeism and low job satisfaction; whereas individually-tailored OSH measures can enable an individual with changed work capacity to remain in employment and benefit the whole workforce; whereas while absence from work is sometimes medically necessary, there are also further negative psycho-social effects for people who spend longer time away from work and who are, as a consequence, less likely ever to return to work; whereas early coordinated care, with the employee’s wellbeing as the prime focus, is crucial to improving return-to-work outcomes and preventing long-term negative consequences for the individual;

N.  whereas the availability and comparability of data on occupational diseases at EU-level is often insufficient; whereas, according to Eurofound, roughly 28 % of Europeans report having a chronic physical or mental health problem, illness or disability(11); whereas one in four people of working age are estimated to live with longstanding health problems(12); whereas disability and ill-health can simultaneously be the causes and consequences of poverty; whereas an OECD study has found that the incomes of people with disabilities are, on average, 12 % lower than those of the rest of the population(13); whereas in some countries this income gap is as large as 30 %; whereas a study in 2013 demonstrated that 21,8 % of cancer patients aged 18-57 years old became unemployed right after being diagnosed, with 91,6 % of this group becoming unemployed 15 months after diagnosis(14); whereas a 2011 Eurostat study(15) found that among employed people who are limited in their work capabilities because of a longstanding health problem and/or a basic activity difficulty, only 5,2 % report using special working arrangements; whereas, according to the same Eurostat study, 24,2 % of those who are unemployed specify that special working arrangements would be needed to facilitate a return to work;

O.  whereas digitalisation is likely to result in major transformations in how work is organised and could help in improving the opportunities for workers with, for example, reduced physical abilities; whereas older generations are likely to face a unique set of challenges in this regard; whereas they should also benefit from these changes;

P.  whereas the right to working conditions that respect the health, safety and dignity of every worker is enshrined in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, and good working conditions have positive value in itself; whereas everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for their health and well-being and the right to work and to just and favourable working conditions, in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; whereas the improved health and reintegration of workers increase the overall wellbeing of society and have economic benefits to Member States, employees and employers, including older workers and individuals who have medical conditions, and help retain skills that would otherwise be lost; whereas employers, workers, families and communities benefit when work disability is transformed into work ability;

Prevention and early intervention

1.  Considers it essential to improve the management of sickness absence in the Member States, as well as to make workplaces more adaptable to chronic conditions and disabilities, by tackling discrimination through better enforcement of Directive 2000/78/EC on equal treatment in employment and occupation; recognises that, for an improvement to take place, functioning legislation with effective overview must be in place in the Member States to ensure that employers make workplaces more inclusive for those suffering from chronic conditions and disabilities, including by, for example, modifying tasks, equipment and skills development; urges the Member States to support reasonable adaptations of workplaces to ensure a timely return to work;

2.  Calls on the Commission to promote integration and rehabilitation measures and to support efforts by Member States to raise awareness and identify and share good practices on accommodations and adjustments in the workplace; calls on all relevant return-to-work stakeholders to help facilitate the information exchange about potential non-medical barriers to return to work, and to coordinate actions to identify and address these;

3.  Urges Eurofound to examine and analyse further the employment opportunities and degree of employability of people with chronic diseases; calls for the use of evidence-based policy to become standard practice and to form the basis of return-to-work approaches; calls on policy makers to take the lead in ensuring that employers and employees have access to information and medical care and that these best practices are promoted at European level;

4.  Takes the view that the forthcoming EU Strategic Framework on Health and Safety at Work post 2020 should further prioritise investments, through EU funds, aimed at prolonging and promoting healthier lives and working lives, and individualised working arrangements, and at supporting recruitment and well-adapted return to work, where desired and where medical conditions allow; considers that an integral part of this strategy is investment in primary and secondary preventative mechanisms through, for example, the provision of e-health technologies; calls on the Commission and the Member States to prioritise the prevention of risks and illnesses at the workplace;

5.  Encourages the Member States to engage fully in the forthcoming 2020-2022 EU-wide campaign on the prevention of work-related musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), to find innovative non-legislative solutions and to exchange information and good practices with social partners; calls for the active involvement of the Member States in the dissemination of information provided by the EU-OSHA; reiterates its call on the Commission to submit, without delay, a legal act on MSDs; calls on the Member States to conduct studies – broken down by gender, age and area of economic activity – into the incidence of MSDs, with a view to preventing and combating the emergence of such disorders and to developing a comprehensive EU chronic-disease strategy for prevention and early intervention;

6.  Calls on the Member States, and on employers, to take a proactive role in integrating the information provided by the EU-OSHA into their workplace policies and programmes; welcomes the recent launch of a section on the EU-OSHA website dedicated to work-related diseases, rehabilitation and return to work, with the aim of providing information about prevention policies and practices;

7.  Takes the view that systematic psychosocial risk prevention is a crucial feature of modern workplaces; notes with concern the rise in reported cases of mental health and psychosocial problems over recent years, and the fact that work-related stress is a growing problem for employees and employers; calls on the Member States, and on the social partners, to provide support to businesses in implementing a coherent set of workplace policies and programmes to enhance prevention of these problems, tackle mental health stigma and support individuals facing existing conditions, by enabling access to psychological support; highlights, with a view to further motivating employers to take action, the benefits – including the proven return on investment – of psychosocial risk prevention and health promotion; notes that legislation and recognition of psychosocial risks and mental health problems, such as chronic stress and burnout, vary among Member States;

8.  Stresses the importance of updating and providing common health indicators and definitions of work-related diseases, including stress at work, and EU-wide statistical data with a view to setting targets to reduce the incidence of occupational diseases;

9.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to develop and implement a programme for systematically monitoring, managing and supporting workers affected by psychosocial risks, including stress, depression and burnout, in order to, inter alia, draw up effective recommendations and guidelines for combating these risks; emphasises that chronic stress at work is recognised as a major obstacle to productivity and to the quality of life; notes that psychosocial risks and work-related stress are often structural problems linked to work organisation, and that preventing and managing these risks is possible; stresses the need to carry out studies, improve prevention and share best practices and tools for reintegrating affected persons in the labour market;

10.  Calls for the de-stigmatisation of mental health problems and learning disabilities; encourages initiatives to raise awareness and support change in this regard through the development of psychosocial risk prevention policies and actions at company level; commends, in this context, the actions of social partners in the Member States contributing to a positive change; recalls the importance of properly training OSH service providers and labour inspectors in psychosocial risk management practices; calls for closer cooperation among, and revitalisation of, EU initiatives tackling psychosocial risks at work and for prioritising the issue in the upcoming EU OSH strategic framework;

11.  Recognises that the reintegration of workers who have suffered from substance abuse problems presents specific challenges for employers; notes, in this regard, the example of the Alna model, run by the Swedish social partners(16), to support workplaces in taking proactive and early intervention measures, and in assisting in the rehabilitation process of employees who have had problems connected to substance abuse;

12.  Welcomes the Healthy Workplaces Manage Stress campaign; emphasises that initiatives for tackling work-related stress must include the gender dimension, taking into account the specific working conditions of women;

13.  Stresses the importance of investing more in risk-prevention policies and supporting a culture of prevention; points out that the quality of preventive services is key to supporting companies; calls on the Member States to implement effective policies on healthy diets, on alcohol and tobacco consumption and on air quality, and to promote such policies at the workplace; calls on the Member States, furthermore, to develop integrated health services with social, psychological, work services and occupational medicine; encourages Member States to provide workers with adequate access to healthcare to ensure early detection of the onset of physical and mental illness and facilitate the reintegration process; recalls that early investment and preventive action can reduce the long-term psychosocial impact on the individual, as well as the overall cost for society in the long term;

14.  Requests that reintegration policies should be

   consistent with a lifecycle approach to education, life-long learning, social and employment policies,
   tailor made, targeted and needs-oriented, without placing demands on the participant unlikely to be met owing to his or her condition,
   participative and based on an integrated approach, and
   respectful of the pre-conditions necessary for allowing participation without creating conditions endangering a minimum-living income;

15.  Considers that the Member States should provide targeted additional benefits for people with disabilities or chronic diseases covering extra costs in connection with, among other things personal support and assistance, the use of specific facilities and medical and social care, and establishing, i.a., affordable price levels for medicines for less advantaged social groups; stresses the need to ensure decent invalidity and retirement pension levels;

Return to work

16.  Recognises that work is an important source of positive psychosocial wellbeing for individuals, and that the integration of long-term unemployed individuals into employment through individually tailored measures is a key factor in fighting poverty and social exclusion and has also other preventative psychosocial benefits; stresses that integrating persons returning to work after injury or illness, both physical and mental, has multiple positive effects: it benefits the wellbeing the individuals concerned, reduces costs for national social security systems and individual enterprises, supports the economy more widely, such as by making pension and social security systems more sustainable for future generations; notes the difficulties workers face in dealing with compensation systems that could present them with unnecessary delays in obtaining treatment, and that in some cases could be alienating; calls urgently for a customer-centric approach to all the administrative procedures associated with the reintegration of workers; calls on the Member States to take action, in cooperation with the Commission and relevant EU agencies, to counter the negative effects of long-term work absence, such as isolation, psychosocial difficulties, socioeconomic consequences and decreased employability;

17.  Takes the view that the Member States and employers should take a positive and work-oriented approach to workers with disabilities, older workers and those who have suffered a mental or physical illness or injury, including people diagnosed with terminal illness, focusing on early evaluation of the individual’s remaining capacity and readiness to work, and organising psychological, social and employment counselling at an early stage and the adaptation of the workplace, taking into account the person’s occupational profile and socio-economic situation as well as the situation of the undertaking; encourages the Member States to improve provisions in their social security systems favouring return to work, provided that it is desired by the employee and that medical conditions allow;

18.  Notes the positive role that social enterprises, specifically Work Integration Social Enterprises (WISEs), have played in reintegrating long-term unemployed people back into the workforce; calls on the Member States to provide necessary recognition and technical support to these enterprises;

19.  Encourages, in this regard, references to the UN CRDP and its Optional Protocol (A/RES/61/106), and the use of the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF) across all relevant measures and policies; shares the view that disability is a health experience that occurs in a socio-economic context;

20.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to develop and provide guidelines on best practices and coaching, support and advice to employers on how to develop and implement reintegration plans while ensuring a continued dialogue between the social partners, ensuring that employees are made aware of their rights from the beginning of the return-to-work process; further encourages the exchange of good practice within and between Member States, professional communities, social partners, NGOs and policy-makers about the reintegration of workers recovering from illness or injury;

21.  Calls on the Member States to cooperate with social partners to provide external support to ensure guidance and technical support for SMEs and micro-enterprises with limited experience in occupational rehabilitation and return-to-work measures; acknowledges the importance of taking into account the situation and specific needs of, and the challenges with compliance facing, not only SMEs and micro- enterprises, but also certain public service sectors, in the context of the implementation of measures at company level; stresses that awareness raising, the exchange of good practices, consultation and online platforms are of utmost importance in helping SMEs and micro-enterprises in this process; calls on the Commission and the Member States to continue developing practical tools and guidelines that can help support SMEs and micro-enterprises with limited experience in occupational rehabilitation and return-to-work measures; recognises the importance of investing in management training;

22.  Notes the risk that more imaginative approaches aimed at reintegrating those furthest from the labour market may be deprived of funding in favour of a more narrow approach based on easily quantifiable outcomes; calls, therefore, on the Commission to improve the funding for bottom-up approaches under the Structural Funds, in particular the ESF;

23.  Takes note of the success of the case-management approach of reintegration programmes and stresses the need for individually designed and integrated support from social workers or designated counsellors; believes that it is essential for companies to keep in close contact with workers, or with their representatives, during absences due to illness or injury;

24.  Believes that return-to-work and reintegration policies should form part of a broader holistic approach to healthy working lives, aimed at ensuring a physically and mentally safe and healthy working environment throughout people’s working life and active and healthy ageing for all workers; stresses the key importance of communication, the help of specialists in management of occupational rehabilitation (work assistants) and an integrated approach involving all parties concerned in the successful physical and occupational rehabilitation of workers; believes that the workplace should be the central point of focus of return-to-work systems; lauds the success of the non-bureaucratic and practical approach of the Austrian fit2work(17) programme, with its emphasis on easy communication accessible to all workers (such as the use of simplified language);

25.  Stresses the importance of keeping people with reduced working capacity in employment, including through ensuring that SMEs and micro-enterprises have the resources they need to do this effectively; strongly encourages the reintegration of workers recovering from illness and injury into quality employment, if the employee so desires and if medical conditions allow it, through re-training and up-skilling into the open labour market; stresses the importance of focusing policy provisions on the capacity to work of the individuals, and of showing the employer the benefits of retaining the experience and knowledge of a worker who risks being lost to permanent sick leave; recognises, however, the importance of having a strong safety net in place, via the national social security system, for individuals unable to return to employment;

26.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to introduce active labour market policies and policy incentives for employers in order to support the employment of persons with disabilities and chronic illnesses, including by making suitable adaptations to, and breaking down barriers in, the workplace to facilitate their reintegration; recalls that it is essential to inform companies and the persons concerned about existing incentives and rights;

27.  Recognises, in this regard, that flexible, individually tailored and adaptive working arrangements – such as telework, flexitime, adapted equipment and reduced working hours or workload – play an important role in returning to work; stresses the importance of encouraging early and/or gradual return to work (if medical conditions allow), which could be accompanied by partial sickness benefits to ensure that the individuals concerned do not suffer loss of income from returning to work, while maintaining financial incentives for businesses; stresses that such arrangements, including geographical, temporal and functional flexibility, must be feasible for both workers and employers, facilitating the organisation of work management and taking into account variations in production cycles;

28.  Commends national programmes and initiatives that have helped facilitate the reintegration into quality employment of people with chronic diseases, such as the German “Job4000”(18) programme, which uses an integrated approach to improve the stable professional integration of persons with severe disability who face particular difficulties in finding a job, and the establishment of reintegration agencies to help people with chronic diseases find a job that is suited to their situations and abilities(19);

29.  Notes the important psychological benefits and increased productivity associated with high levels of autonomy in the workplace; considers that a degree of workplace autonomy can be essential in easing the process of reintegration of sick and injured workers with disparate conditions and needs;

30.  Recognises the value of returning to work in the care process, as work, for many individuals, allows for financial independence and is life-enhancing, which can sometimes be a crucial factor in the recovery process;

31.  Calls on the Member States not to withdraw welfare benefits immediately when people with chronic diseases gain employment, thereby helping them avoid the “benefit trap”;

Changing attitudes towards the reintegration of workers

32.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States, in cooperation with the social partners, to ensure – in their communications, guidelines and policies – that employers see the reintegration process as an opportunity to benefit from workers’ skills, competences and experience; takes the view that employers and workers’ representatives are important actors in the return-to-work process from the start, and are part of the decision-making process;

33.  Recalls Articles 26 and 27 of the UN CRPD that bind the State parties to organise, strengthen and extend rehabilitation services and programmes, particularly in the areas of health, employment, education and social services, and to promote employment opportunities and career advancement for persons with disabilities in the labour market, as well as assistance in returning to employment;

34.  Stresses that raising awareness about occupational rehabilitation and return-to-work policies and programmes, and improved company culture, are critical success factors in the return-to-work process and in fighting negative attitudes and tackling prejudices and discrimination; takes the view that teams of experts, such as psychologists and coaches trained in occupational rehabilitation, could effectively be shared among various companies, thereby allowing for smaller companies to benefit from their expertise as well; takes the view that there is also space in this process for support and complementary engagement on the part of NGOs and volunteers;

35.  Commends those enterprises that have taken initiatives to support people with health problems, disabilities or changed working capacity by providing, e.g., comprehensive preventative programmes, modification of tasks and training and re-training, or by preparing other employees for the changed abilities of returning workers, thereby helping their reintegration; strongly encourages more enterprises to get involved in this effort and put forward such initiatives; considers it essential that measures facilitating the reintegration of workers within companies is integral to the company culture;

36.  Calls for better understanding of the challenges and discrimination leading to fewer opportunities for people with health problems or disabilities, specifically challenges such as lack of understanding, prejudice, perceptions about low productivity and social stigma;

37.  Takes the view that education and changes in company culture, as well as EU-wide campaigns such as “Vision Zero”, play an important role in shifting popular opinion; calls for increased awareness of the demographic challenges facing European labour markets; considers it unacceptable that older persons are often exposed to ageism; underlines the importance of campaigns fighting discrimination based on workers’ age, promoting prevention and health and safety at work measures; calls on the Member States and the Union to take into account the findings of Parliament’s pilot project on the health and safety of older workers;

38.  Takes the view that national policy frameworks have a decisive impact on creating an environment supportive of age management and active and healthy ageing; considers that this could be supported effectively through EU actions such as policies, guidance, exchanges of knowledge and the use of various financial instruments such as the ESF and the ESIF; calls on the Member States to promote rehabilitation and reintegration measures for older workers, when possible and when desired by the individuals concerned, for instance by implementing the results of the EU pilot project on the health and safety of older workers;

39.  Recognises that people who have been diagnosed with a terminal illness retain the fundamental right to work; further recognises that these individuals face a unique set of challenges relating to their employment, distinct from the challenges facing other patient groups, as there is often little time for them to adapt to their changing conditions and for workplace adjustments to be made; commends initiatives such as the Dying to Work campaign for raising awareness about this specific set of problems; encourages employers to maintain as much dialogue as possible with employees who have received a terminal diagnosis, to ensure that all necessary and possible adaptations can be made to allow the employee to carry on working if he or she so wishes; is of the opinion that, for many patient, remaining in the workplace is a personal, psychological or economic imperative and central to his or her dignity and quality of life; urges the Member States to support the reasonable adaptation of workplaces to the unique set of challenges facing this group of people; calls on the Commission to tackle the lack of data on the employment status of people with cancer and to support the collection of better data, comparable across Member States, in order to improve support services for them;

40.  Stresses, in this regard, the importance of developing and updating workers’ skills that match company and market needs, with special emphasis on digital skills, by providing workers with relevant training and access to lifelong learning; highlights the increasing digitalisation of the labour market; points out that the improvement of digital skills can be an integral part of the preparation for returning to work, particularly for the older population;

41.  Notes that both formal and informal carers have a key role to play in occupational rehabilitation; recognises that 80 % of the care provided in Europe is given by unpaid caregivers(20) and that the act of caregiving significantly reduces the long-term employment prospects of this group of people; further recognises that, given the fact that the majority of caregivers are women, there is a clear gender dimension to the question of the employment situation of care-givers; calls on the Union and the Member States, and on employers, to give special consideration to the employment implications for caregivers;

o
o   o

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

(1) OJ C 204, 13.6.2018, p. 179.
(2) OJ C 366, 27.10.2017, p. 117 .
(3) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0474.
(4) OJ C 101, 16.3.2018, p. 138.
(5) OJ C 102 E, 24.4.2008, p. 321.
(6) OJ L 303, 2.12.2000, p. 16.
(7) https://osha.europa.eu/en/tools-and-publications/publications/reports/psychosocial-risks-eu-prevalence-strategies-prevention/view
(8) Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (2016) GBD Compare Data Visualization. http://vizhub.healthdata.org/gbd-compare
(9) Science Group of the European Alcohol and Health Forum (2011) Alcohol, Work and Productivity. https://ec.europa.eu/health//sites/health/files/alcohol/docs/science_02_en.pdf
(10) Eurofound (2012), ‘Use of alcohol and drugs at the workplace’. https://www.eurofound.europa.eu/sites/default/files/ef_files/docs/ewco/tn1111013s/tn1111013s.pdf
(11) Eurofound’s Third European Quality of Life Survey 2001–2012, https://www.eurofound.europa.eu/surveys/european-quality-of-life-surveys/european-quality-of-life-survey-2012
(12) p. 7 in https://ec.europa.eu/health//sites/health/files/social_determinants/docs/final_sum_ecorys_web.pdf
(13) p. 7, main findings https://www.oecd.org/els/emp/42699911.pdf
(14) p. 5 https://ec.europa.eu/health/sites/health/files/policies/docs/2017_chronic_framingdoc_en.pdf
(15) Eurostat, 2011 LFS ad hoc module, mentioned in: https://ec.europa.eu/health/sites/health/files/policies/docs/2017_chronic_framingdoc_en.pdf
(16) http://www.alna.se/in-english
(17) “EU-OSHA Case Study on Austria — Fit2Work programme” https://osha.europa.eu/en/tools-and-publications/publications/austria-fit2work/view
(18) Source: Pathways project deliverable 5.2 “Scoping Paper on the Available Evidence on the Effectiveness of Existing Integration and Re-Integration into Work Strategies for Persons with Chronic Conditions”.
(19) Source: Return to work coaching services for people with a chronic disease by certified “experts by experience”: the Netherlands. Case Study. EU-OSHA.
(20) http://www.ecpc.org/WhitePaperOnCancerCarers.pdf


Relationships between the EU and third countries concerning financial services regulation and supervision
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European Parliament resolution of 11 September 2018 on relationships between the EU and third countries concerning financial services regulation and supervision (2017/2253(INI))
P8_TA(2018)0326A8-0263/2018

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the report of 25 February 2009 by the High-Level Group on Financial Supervision in the EU, chaired by Jacques de Larosière,

–  having regard to its resolution of 11 March 2014 with recommendations to the Commission on the European System of Financial Supervision (ESFS) Review(1),

–  having regard to the Commission staff working document of 15 May 2014 entitled ‘Economic Review of the Financial Regulation Agenda’ (SWD(2014)0158),

–  having regard to the Commission report of 8 August 2014 on the operation of the European Supervisory Authorities (ESAs) and the European System of Financial Supervision (ESFS) (COM(2014)0509),

–  having regard to its resolution of 12 April 2016 on the EU role in the framework of international financial, monetary and regulatory institutions and bodies(2),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 23 November 2016 entitled ‘Call for Evidence – EU regulatory framework for financial services’ (COM(2016)0855),

–  having regard to its resolution of 19 January 2016 on ‘Stocktaking and challenges of the EU Financial Services Regulation: impact and the way forward towards a more efficient and effective EU framework for Financial Regulation and a Capital Markets Union’(3),

–  having regard to the Commission staff working document of 27 February 2017 entitled ‘EU equivalence decisions in financial services policy: an assessment’ (SWD(2017)0102),

–  having regard to its resolution of 14 March 2018 on the framework of the future EU-UK relationship(4),

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs (A8-0263/2018),

A.  whereas since the financial crisis, more than 40 new pieces of EU financial legislation have been adopted, of which 15 include ‘third-country provisions’ that give the Commission, on behalf of the EU, discretion to unilaterally decide whether regulatory rules in foreign jurisdictions can be considered equivalent;

B.  whereas equivalence and passporting rights are distinctly different concepts, providing different rights to and obligations for regulators, supervisors, financial institutions and market participants; whereas equivalence decisions do not confer ‘passporting rights’ to financial institutions established in third countries as this concept is inextricably linked to the internal market with its common regulatory, supervisory, enforcement and judicial framework;

C.  whereas no trade agreement concluded by the EU has ever incorporated cross-border mutual access provisions on financial services;

D.  whereas there is no single framework underpinning equivalence decisions; whereas each legislative act sets out a targeted equivalence regime tailored to its policy objectives; whereas current equivalence provisions offer different approaches that allow for a range of possible benefits depending on the financial service provider and the market in which it operates;

E.  whereas equivalence is, among other things, a tool to promote international regulatory convergence, which may lead to more competition in the EU internal market on a level playing field, while preventing regulatory arbitrage, protecting consumers and investors, preserving the EU's financial stability and maintaining consistency within the internal market; whereas equivalence is also a tool to ensure fair and equal regulatory and supervisory treatment between EU financial institutions and third-country financial institutions;

F.  whereas equivalence decisions are based on the EU single rulebook and are taken on the basis of a technical assessment; whereas they should nonetheless be subject to a greater degree of scrutiny by Parliament;

G.  whereas the Commission describes equivalence as ‘a key instrument to effectively manage cross-border activity of market players in a sound and secure prudential environment with third-country jurisdictions that adhere to, implement and enforce rigorously the same high standards of prudential rules as the EU’;

H.  whereas the forthcoming withdrawal of the UK from the EU will potentially have a significant impact on the regulation and supervision of financial services, given the close relationship that currently exists between Member States in this area; whereas the negotiations for the withdrawal of the UK from the EU are still ongoing;

I.  whereas in the event that the Withdrawal Agreement, including the transition period, is agreed and ratified, financial institutions will have a longer period to adapt to Brexit; whereas, in the absence of a transition period, the Commission and the ESAs must be prepared to protect financial stability, the integrity of the internal market and the autonomy of decision-making in the EU;

J.  whereas it is necessary for the purposes of the Union's financial stability to fully consider the interconnectedness between third-country markets and the EU's single market;

K.  whereas in its resolution of 19 January 2016 on ‘Stocktaking and challenges of the EU Financial Services Regulation’, Parliament called on the Commission to ‘propose a consistent, coherent, transparent and practical framework for procedures and decisions on third-country equivalence, taking into account an outcome-based analysis and international standards or agreements’;

Relationships with third countries since the crisis

1.  Notes that since the financial crisis, the EU has further developed its financial regulation through wide-ranging reforms and implementing international standards; welcomes the increased regulatory and supervisory cooperation between the EU and third countries; recognises that this has contributed to improving global consistency in financial regulation and has contributed to making the EU more resilient to global financial shocks;

2.  Considers that the EU should promote global financial regulatory reforms aimed at reducing systemic risk and enhancing financial stability, and should work towards an open, integrated, efficient and resilient financial system that supports sustainable and inclusive economic growth, job creation and investment; stresses that any framework of international regulatory and supervisory cooperation should safeguard financial stability in the Union and respect its regulatory and supervisory regime and standards and their application;

3.  Notes with concern that international cooperation is increasingly difficult to achieve owing to different national interests and the inherent incentive to shift risks to other jurisdictions;

EU equivalence procedures

4.  Notes that several EU legislative acts contain specific provisions for regulatory cooperation with third countries, related to supervisory cooperation and prudential measures;

5.  Stresses that the granting of equivalence is a unilateral decision taken by the EU, on the basis of EU standards; considers that in some specific cases international cooperation may be advanced also by cooperation arrangements between the EU and third countries;

6.  Emphasises that the EU should encourage other jurisdictions to grant access to their financial markets to EU market participants;

7.  Stresses that through the EU’s relationship with third countries on financial services regulation and supervision, the EU should enhance tax cooperation with third countries, in accordance with international and EU standards; believes that equivalence decisions should be made dependent on satisfactory third-country rules on fighting tax evasion, tax fraud, tax avoidance and money laundering;

8.  Recognises that the EU’s equivalence regime is an integral part of a number of its regulatory and supervisory legislative acts for financial services and can offer several benefits, such as: increased competition, increased capital flows into the EU, more instruments and investment choices for EU firms and investors, stronger investor and consumer protection, and financial stability;

9.  Reiterates that, in most cases, equivalence decisions do not grant financial institutions established in third countries the right to provide financial services throughout the EU; points out that they may in some cases give third-country institutions limited access to the single market for certain products or services;

10.  Underlines in contrast that the ‘EU passport’ gives undertakings the right to provide financial services throughout the EEA, under the license granted by their home country and under home country supervision, and that as such it is not available to financial institutions established in non-EEA countries as it relies on a set of prudential requirements harmonised under EU law and on mutual recognition of licenses;

11.  Emphasises that the EU’s equivalence regime aims to promote international regulatory convergence and enhance supervisory cooperation on the basis of EU and international standards and to ensure equal treatment between EU and third-country financial institutions while preserving the EU’s financial stability and protecting investors and consumers;

12.  Considers that, as things stand, the EU’s process for granting equivalence would benefit from more transparency towards the European Parliament; believes that a structured, horizontal and practical framework along with guidelines regarding the recognition of third-country supervisory frameworks and a level of granularity of the assessment of such frameworks would improve transparency;

13.  Believes that equivalence decisions should be objective, proportionate, and risk-sensitive, while upholding the high standards of EU regulation; furthermore, considers that equivalence decisions should be taken in the best interests of the Union, its Member States and its citizens, having regard to the financial stability of the Union or of one or more of its Member States, market integrity, investor and consumer protection and the functioning of the internal market;

14.  Considers that assessments for equivalence are technical in nature, but notes that equivalence decisions have a clear political dimension, possibly balancing different policy objectives; insists that the process for granting equivalence to a third country in the area of financial services should be subject to appropriate scrutiny by Parliament and the Council and that, for purposes of greater transparency, such decisions should be taken by means of delegated acts, and where necessary facilitated by an early non-objection procedure;

15.  Notes that the Commission’s decision of 21 December 2017 to grant equivalence to Swiss share trading venues as part of the MiFID/MiFIR equivalence procedure – limited to a 12-month period with the possibility of an extension provided sufficient progress is made on a common institutional framework – had a clear political dimension;

16.  Notes that the Commission has the right to withdraw equivalence decisions, particularly in cases of third-country material regulatory divergence, and believes that Parliament should be consulted in an appropriate manner, in principle before such a withdrawal decision is taken; calls for the introduction of transparent procedures governing the adoption, withdrawal or suspension of equivalence decisions;

17.  Considers that a consistent framework for ongoing supervision of an equivalent third-country regime should be developed; considers that the European Supervisory Authorities (ESAs) should be equipped with the power to advise the Commission and review regulatory and supervisory developments in third countries, given that such developments may have an effect on the Union through interconnectedness of the financial system; demands that Parliament should be kept informed of ongoing regulatory and supervisory reviews of third countries; notes in this regard the legislative package on the review of the European system of financial supervision, which foresees increased monitoring following an equivalence decision, including regulatory issues, supervision and enforcement and the situation in the market of the third country;

18.  Considers that through the EU’s future equivalence framework, third countries must keep the ESAs informed of any national regulatory developments and that the equivalence decision should require good regulatory and supervisory cooperation and exchange of information; considers that, likewise, third countries should maintain close dialogue with the EU;

19.  Calls on the Commission to review and provide a clear framework for a transparent, coherent and consistent application of equivalence procedures which introduces an improved process for the determination, review, suspension or withdrawal of equivalence; calls on the Commission to assess the benefits of introducing an application process for granting equivalence for third countries;

20.  Calls for equivalence decisions to be subject to ongoing monitoring by the relevant ESA and for the outcome of such monitoring to be made public; highlights that such monitoring should address the relevant legislation, enforcement practices and supervisory practices, as well as major legislative amendments and market developments, in the third country concerned; calls furthermore for the ESAs to make ad hoc assessments of developments in third countries based on reasoned requests from Parliament, the Council and the Commission;

21.  Calls on the Commission to consider the current equivalence regime and to assess whether it contributes to achieving a level playing field between EU and third-country financial institutions, while preserving the financial stability of the Union or of one or more of its Member States, market integrity, investor and consumer protection and the functioning of the internal market; considers that this review, together with proposals for improvement where applicable, should be made public;

22.  Calls on the Commission to annually report to the European Parliament all decisions on equivalence, including equivalence granted, suspended and withdrawn, and to explain the rationale for those decisions;

23.  Recalls the importance of the ESAs in the analysis and monitoring of third-country supervisory and regulatory frameworks, and calls, in this respect, for the relevant ESAs to have the capacity and powers to collect, collate and analyse data; recalls the role of the National Competent Authorities (NCAs) in the authorisation process for financial institutions that wish to delegate part of their portfolio management or risk management to service providers in third countries where the regulatory regime is comparable to that of the EU, as well as the importance of supervisory convergence; notes the ongoing review of the ESAs, in particular the proposals on the supervision of delegation, outsourcing or risk transfer arrangements by financial institutions; considers that the ESAs and the NCAs should cooperate closely in order to share best practices and ensure uniform implementation of regulatory cooperation and activities with third countries;

EU’s role in global standard-setting for financial regulation

24.  Underlines the importance of the EU’s active role in global standard-setting as a means of working towards international consistency in financial regulation, aiming to maximise financial stability, reducing systemic risk, protecting consumers and investors, preventing regulatory loopholes between jurisdictions and developing an efficient international financial system;

25.  Calls for active involvement of the Union and the Member States participating in global standard-setting bodies in financial services; recalls the requests made to the Commission in its report on the EU role in the framework of international financial, monetary and regulatory institutions and bodies;

26.  Calls to that end, moreover, for the Joint EU-US Financial Regulatory Forum to be upgraded to include more regular meetings with the aim of a more frequent and consistent coordination;

27.  Points out that improving relations with third countries in the field of financial services and strengthening EU capital markets must not be regarded as mutually exclusive; stresses, therefore, the need for progress on the Capital Markets Union project;

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

(1) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2014)0202.
(2) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0108.
(3) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0006.
(4) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2018)0069.


Boosting growth and cohesion in EU border regions
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European Parliament resolution of 11 September 2018 on boosting growth and cohesion in EU border regions (2018/2054(INI))
P8_TA(2018)0327A8-0266/2018

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to Article 3 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU) and Articles 4, 162, 174 to 178 and 349 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU),

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

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

–  having regard to Regulation (EC) No 1082/2006 on a European grouping of territorial cooperation (EGTC)(3),

–  having regard to Directive 2011/24/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 9 March 2011 on the application of patients’ rights in cross-border healthcare(4),

–  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 staff working document of 20 September 2017 accompanying the Commission communication entitled ‘Boosting growth and cohesion in EU border regions’ (SWD(2017)0307),

–  having regard to its resolution of 13 March 2018 on lagging regions in the EU(5),

–   having regard to its resolution of 17 April 2018 on strengthening economic, social and territorial cohesion in the EU: the 7th report of the European Commission(6),

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

–  having regard to its resolution of 13 June 2017 on increasing engagement of partners and visibility in the performance of European Structural and Investment Funds(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 16 February 2017 on investing in jobs and growth – maximising the contribution of European Structural and Investment Funds: an evaluation of the report under Article 16(3) of the CPR(10),

–   having regard to the opinion of the Committee of the Regions of 8 February 2017 on Missing transport links in border regions(11),

–  having regard to its resolution of 13 September 2016 on Cohesion Policy and Research and Innovation Strategies for Smart Specialisation (RIS3)(12),

–  having regard to its resolution of 13 September 2016 on European Territorial Cooperation – best practices and innovative measures(13),

–  having regard to its resolution of 10 May 2016 on new territorial development tools in cohesion policy 2014-2020: Integrated Territorial Investment (ITI) and Community-Led Local Development (CLLD)(14),

–  having regard to the conclusions and recommendations of the High Level Group monitoring simplification for beneficiaries of ESI Funds,

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Regional Development and the opinion of the Committee on Culture and Education (A8-0266/2018),

A.  whereas the EU and its immediate neighbours in the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) count 40 internal land borders and EU internal border regions, and these regions cover 40 % of the Union’s territory, account for 30 % of the EU’s population and produce almost one third of EU GDP;

B.  whereas border regions, especially those with lower population density, tend to face worse conditions for social and economic development and generally perform less well economically than other regions within the Member States, and their full economic potential is untapped;

C.  whereas physical and/or geographical barriers also contribute to restricting economic, social and territorial cohesion between border regions, both within and outside the EU, particularly in the case of mountain regions;

D.  whereas, in spite of the efforts already undertaken, obstacles – consisting of mainly administrative, linguistic and legal barriers – still persist and hamper growth, economic and social development and cohesion between and within the border regions;

E.  whereas it was estimated by the Commission in 2017 that the removal of only 20 % of the existing obstacles in the border regions would bring about an increase in their GDP of 2 %, or around EUR 91 billion, which would translate into approximately one million new jobs; whereas territorial cooperation, including cross-border cooperation, has been widely acknowledged to bring genuine and visible added value, in particular to citizens of the EU living along internal borders;

F.  whereas the total number of cross-border workers and students active in another EU country is approximately 2 million, of which 1.3 million are workers, representing 0.6 % of all employees across the EU-28;

G.  whereas in the current multiannual financial framework (MFF), 95 % of Trans-European Transport Networks (TEN-T) and Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) funds go to the core corridors of the TEN-T, while small projects on the comprehensive network and interventions linking up with the TEN-T network, although essential to solving specific problems and to the development of cross-border connections and economies, are often not eligible for co-financing or for national financing;

H.  whereas the Commission also intends to present its stance on the internal maritime border regions;

I.  whereas multiple challenges faced by the external border regions of the EU, including the outermost regions, rural areas, areas affected by industrial transition and regions in the Union which suffer from remoteness, insularity or other severe and permanent natural or demographic handicaps as per Article 174 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), would also merit a stance being adopted by the Commission;

1.  Welcomes the Commission communication entitled ‘Boosting growth and cohesion in EU border regions’ which, as the result of two years of research and dialogue, provides a valuable insight into the challenges and obstacles faced by the internal EU border regions; underlines, in this context, the importance of using and publicising good practices and success stories, as this Commission communication does, and urges a follow-up with similar analysis regarding external EU border regions;

Targeting the persistent obstacles

2.  Points out that access to public services, in line with their development, is crucial for the 150 million-strong population of internal cross-border areas, and is frequently hampered by numerous legal and administrative, including linguistic, barriers; calls, therefore, on the Commission and the Member States to maximise their efforts and step up cooperation to remove these barriers and to promote and establish the use of e-government, especially when related to health services, transport, construction of vital physical infrastructure, education, culture, sport, communications, labour mobility, the environment, as well as regulation, cross-border commerce and business development;

3.  Underlines that the problems and challenges faced by the border regions are common to some extent, but also vary from region to region, or between Member States, and depend on the particular legal, administrative, economic and geographic specificities of a given region, which makes an individual approach to each of these regions a necessity; acknowledges the shared development potential of cross-border regions in general; encourages tailor-made, integrated and place-based approaches, such as Community-Led Local Development (CLLD);

4.  Underlines that the differing legal and institutional frameworks of the Member States can lead to legal uncertainty in the border regions, which results in an increase in the time needed and the cost of implementing projects, and constitutes an additional obstacle for citizens, institutions and enterprises in the border regions, frequently hindering good initiatives; stresses, therefore, that greater complementarity, better coordination and communication, interoperability and willingness to tackle barriers between the Member States, or at least at border region level, are desirable;

5.  Recognises the special situation of cross-border workers, who are most seriously affected by the challenges present in the border regions, including, in particular, the recognition of diplomas and other qualifications obtained after retraining, healthcare, transport and access to information on job vacancies, social security and taxation systems; calls, in this context, on the Member States to step up their efforts to overcome these obstacles and allow for greater powers, funds and sufficient flexibility for regional and local authorities in border regions to better coordinate neighbouring national legal and administrative systems in order to improve the quality of life of cross-border workers; underlines in this context the importance of the dissemination and use of best practices all over the EU; stresses that these problems are even more complex for cross-border workers to and from non-EU countries;

6.  Points to the challenges related to business activities carried out in the border regions, in particular when related to the adoption and implementation of labour and commercial law, taxation, public procurement or social security systems; calls on the Member States and the regions to better align or harmonise the relevant legal provisions with the challenges posed by cross-border areas, and promote complementarity and achieve convergence in regulatory frameworks, in order to allow for more legal coherence and flexibility in the implementation of national legislation, as well as to improve the dissemination of information on cross-border issues, e.g. by creating one-stop-shops to enable workers and companies to honour their obligations and to realise their rights to the full extent, as demanded by the legislative system of the Member State where they provide their services; calls for the better use of existing solutions and the guaranteeing of funding for existing cooperation structures;

7.  Expresses disappointment that the Commission’s communication did not include a specific assessment of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), including extra support which can be provided to them; believes that SMEs face particular challenges when it comes to cross-border interaction which includes, but is not limited to, those related to language, administrative capacity, cultural differences and legal divergence; stresses that meeting this challenge is particularly important as SMEs employ 67 % of workers in the EU’s non-financial business sectors and generate 57 % of value added(15);

8.  Points out that in cross-border regions, especially those with lower population density, transport, particularly with regard to cross-border public transport services, is still insufficiently developed and coordinated, partly because of missing or disused links, which hampers cross-border mobility and prospects for economic development; stresses, furthermore, that cross-border transport infrastructure is also particularly adversely affected by complex regulatory and administrative arrangements; underlines the existing potential for developing sustainable transportation, primarily based on public transport, and in this regard awaits the forthcoming Commission study on missing railway links along internal EU borders; underlines that any such study or future recommendations should be inter alia based on information and experience from local, regional and national authorities and take account of any proposals for cross-border cooperation and, where this is already in place, for better cross-border connections and calls on cross-border regional authorities to propose ways of bridging existing gaps in transport networks; recalls that some existing railway infrastructure is falling into disuse due to a lack of support; emphasises the benefits that further development of waterways can deliver for local and regional economies; calls for a CEF axis, with an adequate budget, to be dedicated to filling the missing links in sustainable transport infrastructure in border regions; stresses the need to tackle transport bottlenecks, which hamper economic activities such as transport, tourism and citizens’ travel;

9.  Takes note that the attractiveness of cross-border areas for living and investment depends heavily on quality of life, the availability of public and commercial services for citizens and businesses and the quality of transportation –conditions which can be met and maintained only through close co-operation between national, regional and local authorities as well as businesses on both sides of the border;

10.  Regrets the fact that different and complex procedures of prior authorisation for healthcare services and the methods of payment and reimbursement used, administrative burdens for patients in dealing with cross-border consultations with specialists, incompatibilities in the use of technology and in the sharing of patients’ data as well as a lack of unified accessible information not only limit accessibility from both sides of the border and therefore hamper the full use of healthcare facilities, but also impede emergency and rescue services in carrying out their cross-border interventions;

11.  Emphasises the role EU border regions can play concerning the environment and its preservation, as environmental pollution and natural disasters are often cross-border issues; supports, in this context, cross-border projects on environmental protection for EU external border regions, as these regions often face environmental challenges caused by different environmental standards and legal regulation in the EU’s neighbouring countries; calls also for better cooperation and coordination on internal water management to prevent natural disasters such as floods;

12.  Calls on the Commission urgently to address the problems arising from the existence of physical and geographical barriers between border regions;

Enhancing cooperation and trust

13.  Considers that mutual trust, political will and a flexible approach among multi-level stakeholders, from local to national level, including civil society, are vital to overcoming the abovementioned persistent obstacles; believes that the value of cohesion policy for border regions is based on the goal of boosting jobs and growth and that this action must be initiated at Union, Member State, regional and local level; calls, therefore, for better coordination and dialogue, more effective exchange of information and the further exchange of best practices among authorities, particularly at local and regional level; urges the Commission and the Member States to enhance such cooperation and provide funding for cooperation structures in order to ensure adequate functional and financial autonomy of respective local and regional authorities;

14.  Underlines the importance of education and culture, and, in particular, the opportunities to step up efforts to promote multilingualism and intercultural dialogue in border regions; emphasises the potential of schools and local mass media in these endeavours and encourages Member States, regions and municipalities along internal borders to introduce the teaching of neighbouring countries’ languages into their curricula from preschool; stresses, moreover, the importance of promoting a multilingual approach at all administrative levels;

15.  Urges the Member States to facilitate and encourage the mutual recognition and better understanding of certificates, diplomas and vocational and professional qualifications between neighbouring regions; encourages, therefore the inclusion of specific skills in the curriculum with the objective of increasing cross-border employment opportunities, including validation and recognition of skills;

16.  Encourages various measures aimed at combating all forms of discrimination in border regions and at breaking down barriers for vulnerable people in finding employment and becoming integrated into society; supports, in this regard, the promotion and development of social enterprises in border regions as a source of job creation, in particular for vulnerable groups such as young unemployed people and people with disabilities;

17.  Welcomes the eGovernment Action Plan 2016-2020(16) as a tool to achieve an efficient and inclusive public administration, and recognises the particular value of this plan for simplification measures in the border regions; notes that interoperability of existing e-government systems is needed at the national, regional and local administrative levels; is concerned, however, by the patchy implementation of the plan in some Member States; is also concerned about the often inadequate interoperability of authorities’ electronic systems and the low level of online services available for foreign entrepreneurs to start doing business in another country; calls, therefore, for Member States to take measures to facilitate access, including linguistic tools, to their digital services for potential users from neighbouring areas, calls on the authorities in cross-border regions to set up electronic portals for the development of cross-border business initiatives; urges Member State, regional and local authorities to step up their efforts on e-government projects that will positively impact the life and work of border citizens;

18.  Notes that some internal and external border regions face serious migration challenges that often go beyond the capacity of the border regions and encourages the appropriate use of Interreg programmes, as well as the exchange of good practices between local and regional authorities in the border areas, in the framework of the integration of refugees under international protection; underlines the need for support and coordination at European level, as well as the need for national governments to support local and regional authorities in addressing these challenges;

19.  Urges the Commission to present its insights on coping with challenges that the internal maritime as well as external border regions are facing; calls for additional support for cross-border projects between EU external border regions and the border regions of neighbouring countries, in particular regions of those third countries that are involved in the EU integration process; reiterates, in this context, that the features of and the challenges faced by all border regions are common to some extent, while requiring a differentiated, tailor-made approach; stresses the need to give special attention and adequate support to the outermost regions along the external borders of the EU;

20.  Stresses that future cohesion policy should take adequate consideration of and provide support to the EU regions most impacted by the consequences of the UK’s exit from the European Union, in particular those that will, as a result, find themselves situated on EU (sea or land) borders;

21.  Calls on the Member States to improve the complementarity of their health services in border regions and ensure genuine cooperation in the cross-border provision of emergency services such as healthcare, policing and fire service interventions, in order to ensure that patients’ rights are respected, as provided for in the Cross-Border Healthcare Directive, as well as increasing the availability and quality of services; calls on the Member States, regions and municipalities to conclude bilateral or multilateral framework agreements on cross-border healthcare cooperation and, in this context, draws attention to so-called ZOAST areas (Zones Organisées d'Accès aux Soins Transfrontaliers) where residents of border territories can receive healthcare on both sides of the border in designated healthcare institutions without any administrative or financial barriers and which have become benchmarks for cross-border healthcare cooperation across Europe;

22.  Calls on the Commission to explore the possibilities of enhancing cooperation and overcoming barriers to regional development at the external borders with neighbouring regions, in particular, with regions of those countries preparing for EU accession;

23.  Emphasises the importance of small-scale and cross-border projects in bringing people together and in that way generating new potential for local development;

24.  Underlines the importance of learning from and further using the potential of success stories from some border regions;

25.  Underlines the importance of sport as a tool for facilitating the integration of communities living in border regions and calls on the Member States and the European Commission to allocate appropriate economic resources to territorial cooperation programmes to finance local sport infrastructure;

Exploiting EU tools for better coherence

26.  Underlines the very important and positive role of European Territorial Cooperation (ETC) programmes, and in particular cross-border cooperation programmes, in the economic and social development and cohesion of border regions including maritime and external border regions; welcomes the fact that in the Commission’s MFF proposal for 2021-2027, ETC is preserved as an important objective, with a more distinct role within cohesion policy post-2020, calls for a significantly increased budget, particularly for the cross-border component; underlines the perceptible European added value of ETC and calls on the Council to adopt the appropriations proposed in this regard; underlines at the same time the need to simplify the programmes, ensure better coherence of ETC with the overall goals of the EU and give the programmes the flexibility to better address local and regional challenges, reducing the administrative burdens for beneficiaries and facilitating more investment in sustainable infrastructure projects through cross-border cooperation programmes; calls on authorities in cross-border regions to make more intensive use of the support provided through these programmes;

27.  Calls on the Commission to regularly deliver a report to the European Parliament on a list of obstacles that have been removed in the field of cross-border cooperation; encourages the Commission to enhance the use of existing innovative tools which contribute to the ongoing modernisation and deepening of cross-border cooperation, such as Border Focal Point, reinforced SOLVIT, as well as the Single Digital Gateway, aimed at organising expertise and advice on cross-border regional aspects, and to further develop new ones; calls on the Commission and Member States to make public administrations digital by default insofar as possible, to ensure end-to-end digital public services for citizens and businesses in border regions;

28.  Underlines the importance of the Commission collecting information on cross-border interaction for a better and more informed decision-making process in cooperation with the Member States, regions and municipalities, and of supporting and financing pilot projects, programmes, studies, analysis and territorial research;

29.  Calls for better use to be made of the potential of the EU macro-regional strategies in addressing challenges related to the border regions;

30.  Believes that cohesion policy should be more geared towards investment in people as border regions’ economies can be boosted by an effective mix of investments in innovation, human capital, good governance and institutional capacity;

31.  Regrets that the potential of the European Grouping of Territorial Cooperation is not being fully exploited, which could be due partly to regional and local authorities’ reservations, and partly to their fear of a transfer of competences and an ongoing lack of awareness of their respective competences; calls for any other possible causes of this situation to be swiftly identified and addressed; calls on the Commission to propose measures to overcome the obstacles to the effective application of this instrument; recalls that the primary role of the Commission in ETC programmes should be to facilitate cooperation between Member States;

32.  Urges consideration to be given to the experiences of the numerous Euroregions that exist and are operating across internal and external border regions of the EU in order to further the opportunities for economic and social development and the quality of life of citizens living in border regions; calls for assessment of the work of Euroregions in the area of regional cooperation and their relationship to the initiatives and work of EU border regions, in order to coordinate and optimise the results of their work in this area;

33.  Underlines that the Territorial Impact Assessment contributes to a better understanding of the spatial impact of policies; calls on the Commission to consider giving Territorial Impact Assessment a stronger role when EU legislative initiatives are proposed;

34.  Strongly believes that a European cross-border convention (ECBC), which would allow, in the case of a territorially circumscribed cross-border infrastructure or service (e.g. a hospital or tramline), the application of the national normative framework and/or the standards of just one of the two or several countries concerned, would further reduce cross-border obstacles; welcomes in this context the recently published proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on a mechanism to resolve legal and administrative obstacles in a cross-border context (COM(2018)0373);

35.  Awaits the prospective proposal for a regulation from the Commission on a cross-border cooperation management tool, in order to assess its usefulness for the regions in question;

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36.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Commission, Council, national and regional parliaments of the Member States, the CoR and the EESC.

(1) OJ L 347, 20.12.2013, p. 320.
(2) OJ L 347, 20.12.2013, p. 259.
(3) OJ L 210, 31.7.2006, p. 19.
(4) OJ L 88, 4.4.2011, p. 45.
(5) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2018)0067.
(6) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2018)0105.
(7) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0254.
(8) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0245.
(9) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0222.
(10) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0053.
(11) OJ C 207, 30.6.2017, p. 19.
(12) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0320.
(13) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0321.
(14) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0211.
(15) Annual Report on European SMEs 2016/2017, p.6.
(16) Commission communication of 19 April 2016 entitled ‘EU eGovernment Action Plan 2016-2020 – Accelerating the digital transformation of government’ (COM(2016)0179).


European Solidarity Corps ***I
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Resolution
Text
Annex
European Parliament legislative resolution of 11 September 2018 on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council laying down the legal framework of the European Solidarity Corps and amending Regulations (EU) No 1288/2013, (EU) No 1293/2013, (EU) No 1303/2013, (EU) No 1305/2013, (EU) No 1306/2013 and Decision No 1313/2013/EU (COM(2017)0262 – C8-0162/2017 – 2017/0102(COD))
P8_TA(2018)0328A8-0060/2018

(Ordinary legislative procedure: first reading)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Commission proposal to Parliament and the Council (COM(2017)0262),

–  having regard to Article 294(2) and Articles 165(4) and 166(4) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, pursuant to which the Commission submitted the proposal to Parliament (C8-0162/2017),

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

–  having regard to its resolution on the European Solidarity Corps of 6 April 2017, No. 2017/2629(RSP)(1),

–  having regard to the reasoned opinions submitted, within the framework of Protocol No 2 on the application of the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality, by the Czech Senate, the Spanish Parliament and the Portuguese Parliament, asserting that the draft legislative act does not comply with the principle of subsidiarity,

–  having regard to the opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee of 19 October 2017(2),

–  after consulting the Committee of the Regions,

–  having regard to the European Year of Volunteering 2011 Policy Agenda for Volunteering in Europe (PAVE) document and the related EYV2011 five year review from 2015, “Helping Hands”;

–  having regard to the provisional agreement approved by the committee responsible under Rule 69f(4) of its Rules of Procedure and the undertaking given by the Council representative by letter of 27 June 2018 to approve Parliament’s position, in accordance with Article 294(4) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Culture and Education and the opinions of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs, the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety, the Committee on Budgets, the Committee on Regional Development and the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development (A8-0060/2018),

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

2.  Approves the joint statement of the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission annexed to this resolution;

3.  Takes note of the statement by the Commission annexed to this resolution;

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

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

Position of the European Parliament adopted at first reading on 11 September 2018 with a view to the adoption of Regulation (EU) 2018/… of the European Parliament and of the Council laying down the legal framework of the European Solidarity Corps and amending Regulation (EU) No 1288/2013, Regulation (EU) No 1293/2013 and Decision No 1313/2013/EU

(As an agreement was reached between Parliament and Council, Parliament's position corresponds to the final legislative act, Regulation (EU) 2018/1475.)

ANNEX TO THE LEGISLATIVE RESOLUTION

JOINT STATEMENT OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT, THE COUNCIL AND THE COMMISSION

Without prejudice to the powers of the budgetary authority, 80% of the budget for the implementation of the Programme in 2019 and 2020 should be made available through specified redeployments under Subheading 1a (Competiveness for growth and jobs) of the 2014-2020 Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) and redeployments from the Union Civil Protection Mechanism and the LIFE Programme. However, no further redeployments shall be made from the Erasmus+ Programme, in addition to the amount of 231 800 000 EUR referred to in the proposal from the Commission (COM(2017)0262).

The remaining 20% of the budget for the implementation of the Programme in 2019 and 2020 should be drawn from the available margins under Subheading 1a of the 2014-2020 MFF.

There is a common understanding that the Commission will ensure that the necessary appropriations are made available through the normal annual budgetary procedure in a balanced and prudent way.

STATEMENT OF THE COMMISSION

The Commission confirms that the use of appropriations from technical assistance resources at the initiative of the Commission under the Common Provisions Regulation (in particular redeployments from the European Social Fund and from the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development) for the financing of the European Solidarity Corps in 2018 will not be used by the Commission as a precedent for the proposal on the European Solidarity Corps post 2020 (COM(2018)0440)).

(1) OJ C 298, 23.8.2018, p. 68.
(2) OJ C 81, 2.3.2018, p. 160.


Structural Reform Support Programme: financial envelope and general objective ***I
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Resolution
Text
Annex
European Parliament legislative resolution of 11 September 2018 on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Regulation (EU) 2017/825 to increase the financial envelope of the Structural Reform Support Programme and adapt its general objective (COM(2017)0825 – C8-0433/2017 – 2017/0334(COD))
P8_TA(2018)0329A8-0227/2018

(Ordinary legislative procedure: first reading)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Commission proposal to Parliament and the Council (COM(2017)0825),

–  having regard to Article 294(2) and Articles 175 and 197(2) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, pursuant to which the Commission submitted the proposal to Parliament (C8‑0433/2017),

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

–  having regard to the opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee of 14 March 2018(1),

–  having regard to the opinion of the Committee of the Regions of 3 April 2018(2),

–  having regard to the provisional agreement approved by the committee responsible under Rule 69f(4) of its Rules of Procedure and the undertaking given by the Council representative by letter of 18 July 2018 to approve Parliament’s position, in accordance with Article 294(4) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Regional Development and also the opinions of the Committee on Budgets, the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs and the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs (A8-0227/2018),

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

2.  Approves the joint statement of the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission annexed to this resolution;

3.  Takes note of the Commission statement annexed to this resolution;

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

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

Position of the European Parliament adopted at first reading on 11 September 2018 with a view to the adoption of Regulation (EU) 2018/… of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Regulation (EU) 2017/825 to increase the financial envelope of the Structural Reform Support Programme and adapt its general objective

(As an agreement was reached between Parliament and Council, Parliament's position corresponds to the final legislative act, Regulation (EU) 2018/1671.)

ANNEX TO THE LEGISLATIVE RESOLUTION

JOINT STATEMENT BY THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT, THE COUNCIL AND THE COMMISSION

As regards financing the increase of the financial envelope for the Structural Reform Support Programme and without prejudice to the powers of the budgetary authority, the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission have agreed as follows:

1.  EUR 40 million will be financed through the budget line of the SRSP located in Heading 1b (13.08.01) of the MFF (Economic, social and territorial cohesion) by mobilising the Global margin for commitments in accordance with Article 14 of the MFF Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 1311/2013 in the framework of the budgetary procedure pursuant to Article 314 TFEU;

2.  EUR 40 million will be financed through the budget line of the SRSP located in Heading 2 (13.08.02) of the MFF (Sustainable Growth: Natural Resources) by redeployments other than technical assistance and Rural Development within this Heading and without having recourse to the margins. The exact sources for such redeployments will be further specified in due course having regard to the negotiations of the budgetary procedure for the 2019 budget.

STATEMENT BY THE COMMISSION

(to be published in the C series of the OJ)

The Commission will identify and propose redeployments of EUR 40 million in Heading 2 of the MFF (Sustainable Growth: Natural Resources) in the amending letter to the draft general budget 2019.

The Commission intends to propose the mobilisation of the Global Margin for Commitments in accordance with Article 14 of the MFF Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 1311/2013 in the framework of the budgetary procedure for 2020 pursuant to Article 314 TFEU.

(1) OJ C 237, 6.7.2018, p. 53.
(2) OJ C 247, 13.7.2018, p. 54.


Euratom Programme complementing the Horizon 2020 Framework Programme *
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European Parliament legislative resolution of 11 September 2018 on the proposal for a Council regulation on the Research and Training Programme of the European Atomic Energy Community (2019-2020) complementing the Horizon 2020 Framework Programme for Research and Innovation (COM(2017)0698 – C8-0009/2018 – 2017/0312(NLE))
P8_TA(2018)0330A8-0258/2018

(Consultation)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Commission proposal to the Council (COM(2017)0698),

–  having regard to Article 7 of the Treaty establishing the European Atomic Energy Community, pursuant to which the Council consulted Parliament (C8‑0009/2018),

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (A8-0258/2018),

1.  Approves the Commission proposal as amended;

2.  Calls on the Commission to alter its proposal accordingly, in accordance with Article 293(2) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union and Article 106a of the Treaty establishing the European Atomic Energy Community;

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

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

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

Text proposed by the Commission   Amendment
Amendment 1
Proposal for a regulation
Recital 4
(4)  In order to ensure continuity of nuclear research at Community level, it is necessary to establish the Research and Training Programme of the Community for the period from 1 January 2019 to 31 December 2020 (the 'Euratom Programme'). The Euratom Programme should have the same objectives as the 2014-2018 Programme, support the same activities and use the same mode of implementation which proved to be efficient and appropriate for the purpose of achieving the programme's objectives.
(4)  In order to ensure continuity of nuclear research at Community level and achieve the objectives in this area, it is necessary to establish the Research and Training Programme of the Community for the period from 1 January 2019 to 31 December 2020 (the 'Euratom Programme'). The Euratom Programme should have the same objectives as the 2014-2018 Programme, support the same activities and use the same mode of implementation which proved to be efficient and appropriate for the purpose of achieving the programme's objectives.
Amendment 2
Proposal for a regulation
Recital 6
(6)  Notwithstanding the potential impact of nuclear energy on energy supply and economic development, severe nuclear accidents may endanger human health. Therefore, nuclear safety and, where appropriate, security aspects dealt with by the Joint Research Centre (the 'JRC') should be given the greatest possible attention in the Euratom Programme.
(6)  Notwithstanding the potential impact of nuclear energy on energy supply and economic development, severe nuclear accidents may endanger human health, as well as the environment, in the medium and long term. Therefore, nuclear safety and, where appropriate, security aspects dealt with by the Joint Research Centre (the 'JRC') should be given the greatest possible attention in the Euratom Programme.
Amendment 3
Proposal for a regulation
Recital 7
(7)  The European Strategic Energy Technology Plan (the 'SET Plan'), set out in the conclusions of the Council meeting of 28 February 2008 in Brussels, is accelerating the development of a portfolio of low carbon technologies. The European Council agreed, at its meeting on 4 February 2011, that the Union and its Member States would promote investment in renewables, and safe and sustainable low carbon technologies and would focus on implementing the technology priorities established in the SET Plan. Each Member State remains free to choose the type of technologies that it would support.
(7)  The European Strategic Energy Technology Plan (the 'SET Plan'), set out in the conclusions of the Council meeting of 28 February 2008 in Brussels, is accelerating the innovation process in the field of European advanced low-carbon technologies. The European Council agreed, at its meeting on 4 February 2011, that the Union and its Member States would promote investment in renewables, and safe and sustainable low carbon technologies including nuclear power and would focus on implementing the technology priorities established in the SET Plan. Action 10 (nuclear) of the SET-Plan has as its goal: Maintaining a high level of safety of nuclear reactors and associated fuel cycles during operation and decommissioning, while improving their efficiency. Each Member State remains free to choose the type of technologies that it would support.
Amendment 4
Proposal for a regulation
Recital 8
(8)  As all Member States have nuclear installations or make use of radioactive materials particularly for medical purposes, the Council has recognised, in the conclusions of its meeting in Brussels on 1 and 2 December 2008, the continuing need for skills in the nuclear field, in particular through appropriate education and training linked with research and coordinated at Community level.
(8)  As all Member States have nuclear installations or make use of radioactive materials particularly for medical purposes, the Council has recognised, in the conclusions of its meeting in Brussels on 1 and 2 December 2008, the continuing need for skills in the nuclear field, in particular through appropriate education and training at all levels and proper coordination with European-level research projects.
Amendment 5
Proposal for a regulation
Recital 9
(9)  While it is for each Member State to choose whether or not to make use of nuclear power, it is also acknowledged that nuclear energy plays different roles in different Member States.
(9)  While it is for each Member State to choose whether or not to make use of nuclear power, it is also acknowledged that nuclear research plays an important role in all Member States, not least in the field of human health.
Amendment 6
Proposal for a regulation
Recital 11
(11)  For fusion to become a credible option for commercial energy production, it is, firstly, necessary to successfully complete, in a timely manner, the construction of ITER and start its operation. Secondly it is necessary to establish an ambitious, yet realistic roadmap towards the production of electricity by 2050. Reaching those goals requires the European fusion programme to be directed towards a joint programme of activities implementing this roadmap. In order to secure the achievements of on-going fusion research activities, as well as the long-term commitment of, and collaboration between, the fusion stakeholders, continuity of the Community's support should be ensured. A stronger focus should be placed primarily on the activities in support of ITER but also on the developments towards the demonstration reactor, including the stronger involvement, as appropriate, of the private sector. Such rationalisation and refocusing should be achieved without jeopardising the European leadership of the fusion scientific community.
(11)  For fusion to become a credible option for commercial energy production, it is, firstly, necessary to successfully complete, in a timely manner, the construction of ITER and start its operation and EURATOM Programme can make a significant contribution. Secondly it is necessary to establish an ambitious, yet realistic roadmap towards the production of electricity by 2050. Reaching those goals requires the European fusion programme to be directed towards a joint programme of activities implementing this roadmap. In order to secure the achievements of on-going fusion research activities, as well as the long-term commitment of, and collaboration between, the fusion stakeholders, continuity of the Community's long-term support should be ensured. A stronger focus should be placed primarily on the activities in support of ITER but also on the developments towards the demonstration reactor, including the stronger involvement, as appropriate, of the private sector. Such rationalisation and refocusing should be achieved without jeopardising the European leadership of the fusion scientific community.
Amendment 7
Proposal for a regulation
Recital 12
(12)  The JRC should continue to provide independent customer-driven scientific and technological support for the formulation, development, implementation and monitoring of Community policies, in particular in the field of nuclear safety and security research and training. To optimize human resources and ensure no duplication of research in the Union, any new activity carried out by the JRC should be analysed to check its consistency with existing activities in the Member States. The security aspects of the Horizon 2020 Framework Programme should be limited to the direct actions of the JRC.
(12)  The JRC should continue to provide independent customer-driven scientific and technological support for the formulation, development, implementation and monitoring of Community policies, in particular in the field of nuclear safety, security, safeguards and non-proliferation research and training. To optimize human resources and ensure no duplication of research in the Union, any new activity carried out by the JRC should be analysed to check its consistency with existing activities in the Member States. The security aspects of the Horizon 2020 Framework Programme should be limited to the direct actions of the JRC.
Amendment 8
Proposal for a regulation
Recital 14
(14)  In the interest of all its Member States, the role of the Union is to develop a framework to support joint cutting-edge research, knowledge creation and knowledge preservation on nuclear fission technologies, with special emphasis on safety, security, radiation protection and non-proliferation. That requires independent scientific evidence, to which the JRC can make a key contribution. That has been recognised in the Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions, dated 6 October 2010, entitled 'Europe 2020 Flagship Initiative Innovation Union', in which the Commission stated its intention to strengthen scientific evidence for policy-making through the JRC. The JRC proposes to respond to that challenge by focusing its nuclear safety and security research on the Union's policy priorities.
(14)  In the interest of all its Member States, the role of the Union is to develop a framework to support joint cutting-edge research, knowledge creation and knowledge preservation on nuclear fission technologies, with special emphasis on safety, security, processing of nuclear waste, radiation protection and non-proliferation. That requires independent scientific evidence, to which the JRC can make a key contribution. That has been recognised in the Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions, dated 6 October 2010, entitled 'Europe 2020 Flagship Initiative Innovation Union', in which the Commission stated its intention to strengthen scientific evidence for policy-making through the JRC. The JRC proposes to respond to that challenge by focusing its nuclear safety and security research on the Union's policy priorities.
Amendment 9
Proposal for a regulation
Recital 15
(15)  With the aim of deepening the relationship between science and society and reinforcing public confidence in science, the Euratom Programme should favour an informed engagement of citizens and civil society on research and innovation matters by promoting science education, by making scientific knowledge more accessible, by developing responsible research and innovation agendas that meet the concerns and expectations of citizens and civil society, and by facilitating their participation in activities under the Euratom Programme.
(15)  With the aim of deepening the relationship between science and society and reinforcing public confidence in science, the Euratom Programme should ensure a better provision of information to enable an informed engagement of citizens and civil society on research and innovation matters by promoting science education, by making scientific knowledge more accessible, by developing responsible research and innovation agendas that meet the concerns and expectations of citizens and civil society, and by facilitating their participation in activities under the Euratom Programme.
Amendment 10
Proposal for a regulation
Recital 17
(17)  The outcomes of the debates that took place at the Symposium on 'Benefits and Limitations of Nuclear Fission Research for a Low Carbon Economy' prepared by an interdisciplinary study involving, among others, experts from the fields of energy, economics and social sciences, co-organised by the Commission and the European Economic and Social Committee in Brussels on 26 and 27 February 2013, recognised the need to continue nuclear research at the European level.
(17)  The outcomes of the debates that took place at the Symposium on 'Benefits and Limitations of Nuclear Fission Research for a Low Carbon Economy' prepared by an interdisciplinary study involving, among others, experts from the fields of energy, economics and social sciences, co-organised by the Commission and the European Economic and Social Committee in Brussels on 26 and 27 February 2013, recognised the need to continue nuclear research, including fission research, at the European level.
Amendment 11
Proposal for a regulation
Recital 18
(18)  The Euratom Programme should contribute to the attractiveness of the research profession in the Union. Adequate attention should be paid to the European Charter for Researchers and Code of Conduct for the Recruitment of Researchers17, together with other relevant reference frameworks defined in the context of the European Research Area, while respecting their voluntary nature.
(18)  The Euratom Programme should contribute to the attractiveness of the research profession in the Union and help encourage young people to become involved in research in this field. Adequate attention should be paid to the European Charter for Researchers and Code of Conduct for the Recruitment of Researchers17, together with other relevant reference frameworks defined in the context of the European Research Area, while respecting their voluntary nature.
_________________
_________________
17 Commission Recommendation of 11 March 2005 on the European Charter for Researchers and on a Code of Conduct for the Recruitment of Researchers (OJ L 75, 22.3.2005, p. 67).
17 Commission Recommendation of 11 March 2005 on the European Charter for Researchers and on a Code of Conduct for the Recruitment of Researchers (OJ L 75, 22.3.2005, p. 67).
Amendment 12
Proposal for a regulation
Recital 19
(19)  The activities developed under the Euratom Programme should aim at promoting equality between women and men in research and innovation, by addressing in particular the underlying causes of gender imbalance, by exploiting the full potential of both female and male researchers, and by integrating the gender dimension into the content of projects in order to improve the quality of research and stimulate innovation. Activities should also aim at the implementation of the principles relating to the equality between women and men as laid down in Articles 2 and 3 of the Treaty on European Union and Article 8 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU).
(19)  The activities developed under the Euratom programme must comply with the principles of equality between women and men in research and innovation, by addressing in particular the underlying causes of gender imbalance, by exploiting the full potential of both female and male researchers, improving their access to research programmes in order to improve the quality of research and stimulate innovation. Activities should also aim at the implementation of the principles relating to the equality between women and men as laid down in Articles 2 and 3 of the Treaty on European Union and Article 8 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU).
Amendment 13
Proposal for a regulation
Recital 20
(20)  Research and innovation activities supported by the Euratom Programme should respect fundamental ethical principles. The opinions on energy matters of the European Group on Ethics in Science and New Technologies should be taken into account as appropriate. Research activities should also take into account Article 13 of the TFEU and reduce the use of animals in research and testing, with a view to ultimately replacing animal use. All activities should be carried out ensuring a high level of human health protection.
(20)  Research and innovation activities supported by the Euratom Programme should respect fundamental ethical principles. The opinions on energy matters of the European Group on Ethics in Science and New Technologies should be taken into account as appropriate. Research activities should also take into account Article 13 of the TFEU and replace the use of animals in research and testing, with a view to ultimately prohibit animal use. All activities should be carried out ensuring the highest level of human health protection.
Amendment 14
Proposal for a regulation
Recital 21
(21)  A greater impact should also be achieved by combining the Euratom Programme and private sector funds within public-private partnerships in key areas where research and innovation could contribute to the Union's wider competitiveness goals. Particular attention should be given to the involvement of small and medium-sized enterprises.
(21)  A greater impact should also be achieved by combining the Euratom Programme and private sector funds within public-private partnerships in key areas where research and innovation could contribute to the Union's wider competitiveness goals. Particular attention should be given to the involvement of small and medium-sized enterprises, including emerging new innovative actors within the relevant research area.
Amendment 15
Proposal for a regulation
Recital 25
(25)  The financial interests of the Union should be protected through proportionate measures throughout the expenditure cycle, including the prevention, detection and investigation of irregularities, the recovery of funds lost, wrongly paid or incorrectly used and, where appropriate, penalties. A revised control strategy, shifting focus from minimisation of error rates towards risk-based control and fraud detection, should reduce the control burden for participants.
(25)  The financial interests of the Union should be protected through appropriate measures throughout the expenditure cycle, including the prevention, detection and investigation of irregularities through joint audit procedures, the recovery of funds lost, unduly paid or incorrectly used and, where appropriate, penalties. A revised control strategy, shifting focus from minimisation of error rates towards risk-based control and fraud detection based on common principles and criteria at EU level, should reduce the control burden for participants.
Amendment 16
Proposal for a regulation
Recital 26
(26)  It is important to ensure sound financial management of the Euratom Programme and its implementation in the most effective and user-friendly manner possible, while also ensuring legal certainty and its accessibility to all participants. It is necessary to ensure compliance with the relevant provisions of Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 966/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council (the "Financial Regulation") 19 and with the requirements of simplification and better regulation.
(26)  It is important to ensure sound financial management of the Euratom Programme and its implementation in the most effective and user-friendly manner possible, while also ensuring legal certainty and that potential beneficiaries are properly informed, so as to increase accessibility for all participants. It is necessary to ensure compliance with the relevant provisions of Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 966/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council (the "Financial Regulation") 19 and with the requirements of simplification and better regulation.
_________________
_________________
19 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 (OJ L 298, 26.10.2012, p. 1).
19 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 (OJ L 298, 26.10.2012, p. 1).
Amendment 17
Proposal for a regulation
Recital 33
(33)  Achieving the objectives of the Euratom Programme in relevant areas requires support for cross-cutting activities, both within the Euratom Programme and jointly with the activities of the Horizon 2020 Framework Programme.
(33)  Achieving the objectives of the Euratom Programme in relevant areas requires support for cross-cutting activities, both within the Euratom Programme and jointly with the activities of the Horizon 2020 Framework Programme, for example in the case of Marie Skłodowská Curie actions supporting researcher mobility.
Amendment 18
Proposal for a regulation
Article 3 – paragraph 1
1.  The general objective of the Euratom Programme is to pursue nuclear research and training activities with an emphasis on continuous improvement of nuclear safety, security and radiation protection, notably to potentially contribute to the long-term decarbonisation of the energy system in a safe, efficient and secure way. The general objective shall be implemented through the activities specified in Annex I in the form of direct and indirect actions which pursue the specific objectives set out in paragraphs 2 and 3 of this Article.
1.  The general objective of the Euratom Programme is to pursue nuclear research and training activities with an emphasis on continuous improvement of nuclear safety, security and radiation protection, notably to contribute to the long-term decarbonisation of the energy system in a safe, efficient and secure way. The general objective shall be implemented through the activities specified in Annex I in the form of direct and indirect actions which pursue the specific objectives set out in paragraphs 2 and 3 of this Article.
Amendment 19
Proposal for a regulation
Article 3 – paragraph 2 – point a
(a)  supporting safety of nuclear systems;
(a)  supporting safety of nuclear systems, inter alia by means of structural cross-border inspections in the case of nuclear facilities in the vicinity of one or more national borders with other Member States;
Amendment 20
Proposal for a regulation
Article 3 – paragraph 2 – point b
(b)  contributing to the development of safe, longer term solutions for the management of ultimate nuclear waste, including final geological disposal as well as partitioning and transmutation;
(b)  contributing to cooperation at EU level and with third countries in the identification and development of safe, long-term solutions for the management of ultimate nuclear waste, including final geological disposal as well as partitioning and transmutation;
Amendment 21
Proposal for a regulation
Article 3 – paragraph 3 – subparagraph 1 – point a
(a)  improving nuclear safety including: nuclear reactor and fuel safety, waste management, including final geological disposal as well as partitioning and transmutation; decommissioning, and emergency preparedness;
(a)  improving nuclear safety including: nuclear reactor and fuel safety, waste management to prevent any undesirable impacts on man or the environment, including final geological disposal as well as partitioning and transmutation; decommissioning, and emergency preparedness;
Amendment 22
Proposal for a regulation
Article 3 – paragraph 3 – subparagraph 1 – point b
(b)  improving nuclear security including: nuclear safeguards, non-proliferation, combating illicit trafficking, and nuclear forensics;
(b)  improving nuclear security including: nuclear safeguards, non-proliferation, combating illicit trafficking, and nuclear forensics, the disposal of source materials and radioactive waste, countering cyber-attacks and reducing the risks of terrorism on nuclear power plants as well as structural cross-border inspections in the case of nuclear facilities in the vicinity of one or more national borders with other EU Member States;
Amendment 23
Proposal for a regulation
Article 3 – paragraph 3 – subparagraph 1 – point d
(d)  fostering knowledge management, education and training;
(d)  fostering knowledge management, education and training, including long-term professional training to reflect permanent developments made possible by new technologies;
Amendment 24
Proposal for a regulation
Article 3 – paragraph 4
4.  The Euratom Programme shall be implemented in such a way as to ensure that the priorities and activities supported are relevant to changing needs and take account of the evolving nature of science, technology, innovation, policy making, markets and society, with the aim of optimizing human and financial resources, and to avoid duplication on nuclear research and development in the Union.
4.  The Euratom Programme shall be implemented in such a way as to ensure that the priorities and activities supported are relevant to changing needs and take account of the evolving nature of science, technology, innovation, policy making – particularly energy and environmental policy – markets and society, with the aim of optimizing human and financial resources, to create greater synergies between existing programmes and projects and to avoid duplication on nuclear research and development in the Union.
Amendment 25
Proposal for a regulation
Article 4 – paragraph 2
2.  The financial envelope of the Euratom Programme may cover expenses pertaining to preparatory, monitoring, control, audit and evaluation activities which are required for the management of that Programme and the achievement of its objectives, in particular studies and meetings of experts, as far as they relate to the general objectives of this Regulation, and expenses linked to information technology networks focusing on information processing and exchange, together with all other technical and administrative assistance expenses incurred by the Commission for the management of the Euratom Programme. The expenses for continuous and repetitive actions such as control, audit and IT networks will be covered within the limits of the Commission's administrative expenditure specified in paragraph 1.
2.  The financial envelope of the Euratom Programme may cover expenses pertaining to preparatory, monitoring, control, audit and evaluation activities which are required for the management of that Programme and the achievement of its objectives, in particular studies and meetings of experts, as far as they relate to the general objectives of this Regulation, and expenses linked to information technology networks focusing on information processing and exchange, and the security of those networks, together with all other technical and administrative assistance expenses incurred by the Commission for the management of the Euratom Programme. The expenses for continuous and repetitive actions such as control, audit and IT networks will be covered within the limits of the Commission's administrative expenditure specified in paragraph 1.
Amendment 26
Proposal for a regulation
Article 5 – paragraph 1 – point c
(c)  countries or territories associated to the Seventh Euratom Framework Programme or the Euratom Research and Training Programme 2014-2018.
(c)  countries or territories, associated to, or participating as a Member State in, the Seventh Euratom Framework Programme or the Euratom Research and Training Programme 2014-2018.
Amendment 27
Proposal for a regulation
Article 11 – paragraph 3
3.  The work programmes referred to in paragraphs 1 and 2 shall take account of the state of science, technology and innovation at national, Union and international level and of relevant policy, market and societal developments. They shall be updated as and where appropriate.
3.  The work programmes referred to in paragraphs 1 and 2 shall take account of the state of science, technology and innovation at national, Union and international level and of relevant policy, market and societal developments. They shall be updated as and where appropriate, taking due account of the relevant recommendations made by the independent Commission Expert Groups set up to evaluate the EURATOM Programme.
Amendment 28
Proposal for a regulation
Article 15 – paragraph 1
Particular attention shall be paid to ensuring the adequate participation of, and innovation impact on, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and the private sector in general in the Euratom Programme. Quantitative and qualitative assessments of SME participation shall be undertaken as part of the evaluation and monitoring arrangements.
Particular attention shall be paid to ensuring the adequate participation of, and innovation impact on, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), including emerging new innovative actors in the relevant research area and the private sector in general in the Euratom Programme. Quantitative and qualitative assessments of SME participation shall be undertaken as part of the evaluation and monitoring arrangements.
Amendment 29
Proposal for a regulation
Article 21 – paragraph 2
2.  The Commission shall report and make publicly available the results of the monitoring referred to in paragraph 1.
2.  The Commission shall report and make publicly available the results of the monitoring referred to in paragraph 1 and forward them to Parliament.
Amendment 30
Proposal for a regulation
Annex I – paragraph 2
Nuclear power constitutes an element in the debate on combating climate change and reducing Europe's dependence on imported energy. In the broader context of finding a sustainable energy-mix for the future, the Euratom Programme will also contribute through its research activities to the debate on the benefits and the limitations of nuclear fission energy for a low-carbon economy. Through ensuring continuous improvement of nuclear safety, more advanced nuclear technologies could also offer the prospect of significant improvements in efficiency and use of resources and producing less waste than current designs. Nuclear safety aspects will receive the greatest possible attention.
Nuclear power makes an important contribution to combating climate change and reducing Europe's dependence on imported energy. In the broader context of finding a sustainable energy-mix for the future, the Euratom Programme will also contribute through its research activities to maintaining the technological advantages of nuclear fission energy for a low-carbon economy. Through ensuring continuous improvement of nuclear safety, more advanced nuclear technologies could also offer the prospect of significant improvements in efficiency and use of resources and producing less waste than current designs. Nuclear safety aspects will receive the greatest possible attention.
Amendment 31
Proposal for a regulation
Annex I – paragraph 6 – point a – paragraph 2
In line with the general objective, support to joint research activities concerning the safe operation and decommissioning of reactor systems (including fuel cycle facilities) in use in the Union or, to the extent necessary in order to maintain broad nuclear safety expertise in the Union, those reactor types which may be used in the future, focusing exclusively on safety aspects, including all aspects of the fuel cycle such as partitioning and transmutation.
In line with the general objective, support to joint research activities concerning the safe operation and decommissioning of reactor systems (including fuel cycle facilities) in use in the Union or, to the extent necessary in order to maintain broad nuclear safety expertise in the Union, those reactor types may be used in the future on all aspects of the fuel cycle such as partitioning and transmutation.
Amendment 32
Proposal for a regulation
Annex I – paragraph 9 – point a – paragraph 2 – point 3
(3)  exchange with relevant stakeholders for strengthening Union capacity to respond to nuclear accidents and incidents by research on alert systems and models for radiological dispersion in the air, and by mobilising resources and expertise for analysing and modelling nuclear accidents.
(3)  exchange with relevant stakeholders for strengthening Union capacity to respond to nuclear accidents and incidents by research on alert systems and models for radiological dispersion in the environment (air, water and soil), and by mobilising resources and expertise for analysing and modelling nuclear accidents.
Amendment 33
Proposal for a regulation
Annex I – paragraph 11
In order to achieve the objectives of the Euratom Programme, appropriate links and interfaces, such as joint calls, will be ensured with the Specific Programme of the Horizon 2020 Framework Programme.
In order to achieve the objectives of the Euratom Programme and to create synergy between nuclear and non-nuclear activities and knowledge transfer in relevant areas, appropriate links and interfaces, such as joint calls, will be ensured with the Specific Programme of the Horizon 2020 Framework Programme.
Amendment 34
Proposal for a regulation
Annex II – part 1 – point b – introductory part
(b)  Contributing to the development of safe, longer-term solutions for the management of ultimate nuclear waste, including final geological disposal, partitioning and transmutation
(b)  Contributing to the development of safe, long-term solutions for the management of ultimate nuclear waste, including final geological disposal, partitioning and transmutation
Amendment 36
Proposal for a regulation
Annex II – part 1 – point g – introductory part
(g)  Promoting innovation and industry competitiveness
(g)  Promoting innovation

Measures to prevent and combat mobbing and sexual harassment at the workplace, in public spaces, and in political life in the EU
PDF 168kWORD 60k
European Parliament resolution of 11 September 2018 on measures to prevent and combat mobbing and sexual harassment at workplace, in public spaces, and political life in the EU (2018/2055(INI))
P8_TA(2018)0331A8-0265/2018

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to Articles 2 and 3 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU) and Articles 8, 10, 19 and 157 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU),

–  having regard to the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, which entered into force with the adoption of the Treaty of Lisbon in December 2009(1), and, in particular, Articles 1, 20, 21, 23 and 31 thereof,

–  having regard to the 2014 report by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) entitled ‘Violence against women: an EU-wide survey’(2),

–  having regard to Directive 2006/54/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 5 July 2006 on the implementation of the principle of equal opportunities and equal treatment of men and women in matters of employment and occupation(3),

–  having regard to Council Directive 2004/113/EC of 13 December 2004 implementing the principle of equal treatment between men and women in the access to and supply of goods and services, which defines and condemns harassment and sexual harassment(4),

–  having regard to the Gender Equality Index of the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE),

–  having regard to the EIGE publication of June 2017 entitled ‘Cyber violence against women and girls’,

–  having regard to the EU Presidency Trio declaration of 19 July 2017 by Estonia, Bulgaria and Austria on equality between women and men,

–  having regard to the United Nations legal instruments in the field of human rights and notably of women’s rights, such as the Charter of the United Nations, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenants on Civil and Political Rights and on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and its Protocol, and the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment,

–  having regard to other UN instruments on sexual harassment and violence against women, such as the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action of 25 June 1993 adopted by the World Conference on Human Rights, the Declaration by the United Nations General Assembly on the Elimination of Violence against Women of 20 December 1993, the Resolution on crime prevention and criminal justice measures to eliminate violence against women of 21 July 1997, the reports by the UN Special Rapporteurs on violence against women, and General recommendation No 19 by the CEDAW committee,

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

–  having regard to Directive 2012/29/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 October 2012 establishing minimum standards on the rights, support and protection of victims of crime, and replacing Council Framework Decision 2001/220/JHA(5) (the Victims’ Rights Directive),

–  having regard to the Commission proposal of 14 November 2012 for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on improving the gender balance among non-executive directors of companies listed on stock exchanges and related measures (Women on Boards Directive) (COM(2012)0614),

–  having regard to the Framework Agreement on Harassment and Violence at Work of 26 April 2007 between ETUC/CES, BUSINESSEUROPE, UEAPME and CEEP,

–  having regard to the report of the European Network of Equality Bodies (EQUINET) entitled ‘The Persistence of Discrimination, Harassment and Inequality for Women. The work of equality bodies informing a new European Commission Strategy for Gender Equality’, published in 2015,

–  having regard to the EQUINET report entitled ‘Harassment on the Basis of Gender and Sexual Harassment: Supporting the Work of Equality Bodies’, published in 2014,

–  having regard to the Istanbul Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, in particular Articles 2 and 40 thereof(6), and to Parliament’s 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(7),

–  having regard to its resolutions of 20 September 2001 on harassment at the workplace(8), of 26 November 2009 on the elimination of violence against women(9), of 5 April 2011 on priorities and outline of a new EU policy framework to fight violence against women(10), of 15 December 2011 on the mid-term review of the European strategy 2007-2012 on health and safety at work(11), of 25 February 2014 with recommendations to the Commission on combating Violence Against Women(12) and the accompanying European Added Value Assessment of November 2013, and of 24 November 2016 on the EU accession to the Istanbul Convention on preventing and combating violence against women(13),

–  having regard to its resolutions of 14 March 2017 on equality between women and men in the European Union in 2014-2015(14), of 10 March 2015 on progress on equality between women and men in the European Union in 2013(15), and of 24 October 2017 on legitimate measures to protect whistle-blowers acting in the public interest when disclosing the confidential information of companies and public bodies(16),

–  having regard to its resolution of 26 October 2017 on combating sexual harassment and abuse in the EU(17),

–  having regard to the European Trade Union Confederation report entitled ‘Safe at home, safe at work – Trade union strategies to prevent, manage and eliminate work-place harassment and violence against women’,

–  having regard to the report for the Meeting of Experts on Violence against Women and Men in the World of Work (3-6 October 2016), organised by the International Labour Organisation,

–  having regard to the study by the Inter-Parliamentary Union entitled ‘Sexism, harassment and violence against women parliamentarians’, published in 2016(18),

–  having regard to the study entitled ‘Bullying and sexual harassment at the workplace, in public spaces, and in political life in the EU’, published by its Directorate-General for Internal Policies in March 2018(19),

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality (A8-0265/2018),

A.  whereas gender equality is a core value of the EU, recognised in the Treaties and the Charter of Fundamental Rights; whereas gender-based violence stems from an unequal balance of power and responsibilities in relationships between men and women and is linked to patriarchy and persisting gender-based discrimination;

B.  whereas elderly people, especially older single women, represent a particularly vulnerable social group when facing psychological and physical harassment and bullying;

C.  whereas sexual harassment is defined in Directive 2002/73/EC as ‘where any form of unwanted verbal, non-verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature occurs, with the purpose or effect of violating the dignity of a person, in particular when creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment’;

D.  whereas that definition should be redrafted in the light of social and technological developments and attitudes, which have all evolved and changed over time;

E.  whereas the fight against harassment on grounds of pregnancy and motherhood is necessary in order to achieve a true work-life balance for women;

F.  whereas sexual harassment is a form of violence and is the most extreme, yet persistent, form of gender-based discrimination; whereas some 90 % of victims of sexual harassment are female and approximately 10 % are male; whereas, according to the EU-wide FRA study of 2014 entitled ‘Violence against women’, one in three women have experienced physical or sexual violence during their adult lives; whereas up to 55 % of women have been sexually harassed in the EU; whereas 32 % of all victims in the EU reported that the perpetrator was a superior, colleague or customer; whereas 75 % of women in professions requiring specific qualifications or in senior management jobs have been sexually harassed; whereas 61 % of women employed in the service sector have been subjected to sexual harassment; whereas, overall, 5-10 % of the European workforce is at any one time being subjected to bullying at the workplace;

G.  whereas both sexual and psychological harassment are prohibited in employment at EU level, including in relation to access to employment, vocational training and promotion, and come under health and safety considerations;

H.  whereas it is the responsibility of the EU institutions and agencies to keep improving the mechanisms in place by implementing the most efficient rules in order to raise awareness of the definition of sexual harassment and protect workers;

I.  whereas cases of sexual harassment are significantly underreported due to low social awareness of the issue, fear and shame associated with talking to other people about the topic, fear of dismissal, difficulties in obtaining evidence, insufficient reporting, monitoring and victim-protection channels, and the normalisation of violence;

J.  whereas reporting sexual harassment at work can in many cases lead to the victim’s dismissal or isolation within the workplace; whereas less serious offences, when left unchallenged, provide motivation for more serious offences;

K.  whereas bullying and sexual harassment continue to represent serious problems in a variety of social settings, including the workplace, public spaces, virtual spaces such as the internet, and political life, and are increasingly being carried out using new technologies, for example websites or social networks, enabling perpetrators to feel safe under cover of anonymity;

L.  whereas in the context of emerging new forms of organisation of work and social life and a blurring of the boundaries between private, professional and social life, negative behaviour towards individuals or social groups may intensify; whereas workplace bullying can very often take a variety of forms, occurring within both vertical relationships (perpetrated by a superior or by subordinates) and horizontal relationships (perpetrated by work colleagues on the same rung of the hierarchy);

M.  whereas sexual and psychological harassment are phenomena that involve victims and perpetrators of all ages, educational and cultural backgrounds, incomes and social statuses, and whereas this phenomenon has physical, sexual, emotional and psychological consequences for the victim; whereas gender stereotypes and sexism, including sexist hate speech, offline and online, are root causes of many forms of violence and discrimination against women and prevent women’s empowerment;

N.  whereas the Victims’ Rights Directive defines gender-based violence as a violation of the fundamental freedoms of the victim and includes sexual violence (including rape, sexual assault and harassment); whereas female victims of gender-based violence and their children often require special support and protection because of the high risk of repeat victimisation, intimidation and retaliation connected with such violence;

O.  whereas violence in the world of work is often addressed in a piecemeal fashion, which mainly focuses on more visible forms, such as physical violence; whereas, however, sexual and psychological harassment can have even more destructive effects on the individual concerned;

P.  whereas the acts of sexism and resulting sexual harassment to which women may be subjected in the workplace are a contributing factor in driving them out of the labour market, which has an adverse effect on their economic independence and family income;

Q.  whereas women who are victims of harassment and violence in rural and remote areas in the EU usually have more difficulty obtaining full assistance and protection from aggressors;

R.   whereas the effects of both physical and verbal harassment, including such acts perpetrated online, are harmful not only in the short term, but also in the long term, and can include, for example, stress and severe clinical depression and even drive victims to suicide, as has been shown by the increase in reports of such cases; whereas, in addition to negative health outcomes, bullying and sexual harassment in the workplace also have negative impacts on an individual’s career, on organisations and on society, such as increased absenteeism, reduced productivity and service quality, and the loss of human capital;

S.  whereas EU law requires Member States and EU institutions and agencies to ensure that an equality body is in place to provide independent assistance to victims of harassment, conduct independent surveys, collect relevant, disaggregated and comparable data, conduct research on definitions and classifications, publish independent reports and make recommendations on matters of employment and training, on access to and the supply of goods and services, and for the self-employed;

T.  whereas women in the EU are not equally protected against gender-based violence and sexual and psychological harassment owing to differing policies and legislation across the Member States; whereas judicial systems do not always provide sufficient support to women; whereas the perpetrators of gender-based violence are often already known to the victim, and whereas, in many cases, the victim is in a position of dependence, which exacerbates their fear of reporting the violence;

U.  whereas all Member States have signed the Istanbul Convention, but not all have ratified it, and whereas this delay is impeding the full implementation of the Convention;

V.  whereas sexism and the sexual and psychological harassment of women parliamentarians is real and widespread; whereas the perpetrators of harassment and violence not only belong to the ranks of political opponents, but can also be members of the same political party, as well as religious leaders, local authorities, and even family members;

W.  whereas politicians, as elected representatives of citizens, have a crucial responsibility to act as positive role models in preventing and combating sexual harassment in society;

X.  whereas the legitimacy of women in the political sphere is still sometimes challenged, and whereas women are victims of stereotypes, which discourage them from engaging in politics, a phenomenon that is particularly conspicuous wherever women in politics are less represented;

Y.  whereas neither all national and regional parliaments, nor all local councils have specific structures and internal rules in place establishing proper channels for ensuring the safe, confidential lodging and treatment of harassment complaints; whereas training on sexual and psychological harassment should be compulsory for all staff and members of parliament, including the European Parliament;

Z.  whereas domestic violence is also a workplace issue, as it can impact on the victim’s work participation, work performance and safety;

AA.  whereas sexual and psychological harassment not only take place at work, but also in public spaces, including in formal and informal educational settings, in healthcare and leisure facilities, in the streets and on public transport;

AB.  whereas cyber stalking and cyber harassment involve the use of information and communications technologies to stalk, harass, control, or manipulate a person; whereas cyber harassment is a particular problem for young women due to their greater use of these mediums; whereas 20 % of young women (between the ages of 18 and 29) in the EU-28 have experienced cyber harassment;

AC.  whereas a 2016 study found that more than half the women polled had experienced some form of sexual harassment in UK workplaces, but that four in five had not reported the harassment to their employer(20);

AD.  whereas new technologies also have the potential to be an ally in analysing, understanding and preventing instances of violence;

AE.  whereas women, young women in particular, are being subjected to bullying and sexual harassment involving the use of new technologies, for example websites and social networks, sometimes organised through secret forums or groups on social media; whereas such acts include rape threats, death threats, hacking attempts, and publication of private information and photos; whereas, in the context of the widespread use of online and social media, an estimated one in ten girls had already experienced a form of cyber violence, including cyberstalking and harassment, by the age of 15; whereas women who have a public role, among others journalists and in particular LGBTI and disabled women, are a prime target for cyberbullying and online violence, and whereas some have had to leave social networks as a result, having experienced physical fear, stress, concentration problems, fear of going home and worry for loved ones;

AF.  whereas prevention of harassment in working environments can only be achieved when both private and public companies create a culture in which women are treated as equals and employees treat one another with respect;

AG.  whereas research has shown that harassment is rife in workplaces where men dominate management and women have little power, such as the entertainment and media industries, but that it also happens in technology and law companies, sales and many other sectors if male-dominated management teams tolerate sexualised treatment of workers; whereas companies with more women in management have less sexual harassment;

General recommendations

1.  Strongly condemns all kinds of violence against women (VAW) as described in CEDAW and the Istanbul Convention;

2.  Stresses that sexual harassment is a violation of human rights linked to patriarchal power structures that need to be reshaped as a matter of urgency;

3.  Highlights the central role of all men in ending all forms of harassment and sexual violence; calls on the Commission and all Member States to actively involve men in awareness-raising and prevention campaigns, as well as education campaigns for gender equality; stresses that prevention campaigns also need to focus on less serious offences;

4.  Maintains that awareness-raising measures and campaigns to prevent violence against girls and women have to extend to boys as well and should be organised during the initial stages of education;

5.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to monitor the correct implementation of the EU directives prohibiting sexual harassment;

6.  Calls on the Member States to develop comprehensive national action plans and legislation on VAW, paying due attention to providing adequate resources, including but not limited to staff training and sufficient funding, for equality bodies;

7.  Calls on the Commission to compile examples of best practices in combating sexual and psychological harassment and harassment on grounds of pregnancy and motherhood in the workplace and in other spheres, and to disseminate the results of this assessment widely;

8.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to ensure proper and adequate funding mechanisms for programmes and actions to combat sexual and psychological harassment against women at all levels, focusing in particular on the use of new technologies and the means provided by innovation, for example through greater investment in research and innovation processes seeking to stamp out this phenomenon;

9.  Calls on the European Ombudswoman to collect data on the different protection rules existing within the EU institutions and agencies and to issue binding conclusions in order to harmonise the rules with best standards;

10.  Regrets that some Member States have not yet ratified the Istanbul Convention and calls on all Member States that have not already done so to ratify and fully implement it without delay; calls, furthermore, on the Member States that have already ratified the Istanbul Convention to fully implement it;

11.  Calls on the Commission and Member States to obtain a clear picture of the issue of sexual harassment across the EU with better and scientifically more robust studies, including new challenges such as cyber bullying;

12.  Welcomes the new widespread public debate, including on social media, which is contributing to redrawing the boundaries in relation to sexual harassment and acceptable behaviours; welcomes, in particular, initiatives such as the #MeToo movement and strongly supports all the women and girls who have participated in the campaign, including those who have denounced their perpetrators;

13.  Calls on the Commission to submit a proposal to combat mobbing and sexual harassment in the workplace, in public spaces and in political life, and to include in it an updated and comprehensive definition of harassment (be it sexual or otherwise) and mobbing;

14.  Stresses the need to combat the persistent and prolonged harassment or intimidation of workers which causes or is intended to cause their humiliation or isolation or exclude them from their team of co-workers;

15.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States, in cooperation with Eurostat and the EIGE, to improve, promote and ensure the systematic collection of relevant, gender- and age-disaggregated, comparable data on cases of sexual and gender-based discrimination and psychological harassment, including cyber harassment, at national, regional and local level; encourages employers’ organisations, trade unions and employers to actively participate in the data collection process, by providing sector- and occupation-specific expertise;

16.  Notes that to obtain comparable figures on the prevalence of sexual harassment and bullying across the Member States, greater awareness and recognition of the problems should be prioritised through concerted efforts to spread information and provide training;

17.   Reiterates its call on the Commission to submit a proposal for a directive to tackle all forms of violence against women and girls and gender-based violence, which should include common definitions of the different types of VAW, including an updated and comprehensive definition of harassment (be it sexual or otherwise) and mobbing, and common legal standards on criminalising VAW; calls on the Commission to present a comprehensive EU strategy against all forms of gender-based violence, including the sexual harassment and abuse of women and girls, drawing on testimonies in the form of women’s stories and first-hand experience;

18.  Calls on Member States to provide adequate public funding to ensure that law enforcement officers, judges and all civil servants who deal with cases of bullying and sexual harassment are trained to understand violence and harassment in the workplace and beyond;

19.  Calls on Member States to guarantee high-quality, easily accessible and adequately funded specialised services for victims of gender-based violence and sexual and psychological harassment, and to acknowledge that these manifestations of VAW are interconnected and that they have to be tackled via a holistic approach seeking both to cover the socio-cultural aspects that give rise to VAW and to enable specialised services to equip themselves with technological prevention and management tools;

20.  Calls on Member States and local and regional governments to provide for adequate plans and resources in order to guarantee that victims of violence and harassment in rural and remote areas are not deprived of access, or restricted in their access, to assistance and protection;

21.  Calls on the Commission to tackle emerging forms of gender-based violence, such as online harassment, by expanding the definition of illegal hate speech as defined in EU law in the Framework Decision on combating certain forms and expressions of racism and xenophobia by means of criminal law to include misogyny, and to ensure that the Code of Conduct on countering illegal online hate speech also covers these crimes; calls for the development of educational programmes to encourage women to improve their skills in using the new technologies, so that they can better face all forms of sexual harassment and bullying in cyberspace, and encourages specialised services to work together to set up data and resource systems capable of monitoring and analysing the problem of gender-based violence without infringing on the new General Data Protection Regulation (Regulation (EU) 2016/679);

22.  Condemns, furthermore, the widespread occurrence of sexual harassment and other types of abuse, especially in online gaming and social media, and encourages media companies and operators to monitor and respond without delay to any instances of harassment; calls, therefore, for different measures, including awareness-raising, special training and internal rules on disciplinary sanctions for offenders, and psychological and/or legal support for victims of these practices, to prevent and combat bullying and sexual harassment at work as well as in online environments;

Violence in the workplace

23.  Stresses the urgent need for Member States, local and regional authorities, employers’ organisations and trade unions to understand the barriers women face in reporting cases of sexual harassment, gender-based discrimination and violence, and, therefore, to offer full support and encouragement to women in reporting cases of sexual harassment, gender-based discrimination, harassment on grounds of pregnancy and motherhood and bullying, among others, without fear of possible consequences, and establish mechanisms that empower and support women in the safe reporting of cases of abuse;

24.  Calls on the Member States to implement active and effective policies to prevent and combat all forms of violence against women, including sexual harassment and acts of sexism and mobbing to which the majority of women are subjected in the workplace;

25.  Emphasises the urgent need for standards on violence and harassment at work, which should provide a legislative framework for governments, employers, companies and trade union action at all levels;

26.  Notes that some sectors and occupations have a higher exposure to violence, particularly healthcare, public emergency services, politics, education, transport, domestic work, agriculture and the rural economy, as well as the textiles, clothing, leather and footwear sectors;

27.  Notes that some groups of workers can be more affected by bullying and violence in the workplace, especially pregnant women and parents, women with disabilities, migrant women, indigenous women, LGBTI people and women working part-time, as trainees or on temporary contracts;

28.  Notes that undesirable behaviour may stem simultaneously from different sources or relate simultaneously to professional, private or social life, which has a negative effect on all the individuals, professional groups or social groups in those spheres;

29.  Calls on Member States to introduce measures to prevent and combat violence and harassment at the workplace through policies which set out prevention measures, effective, transparent and confidential procedures to deal with complaints, strong and dissuasive sanctions for perpetrators, comprehensive information and training courses to ensure that workers understand policies and procedures, and support for companies to draw up action plans to implement all these measures; stresses that these measures should not be incorporated into existing structures if these structures already have inbuilt gender barriers;

30.  Calls on Member States to invest in the training of labour inspectors, in collaboration with specialist psychologists, and ensure that companies and organisations provide skilled professional and psychosocial support for victims;

31.  Calls on Member States and social partners to ensure that both public and private companies and organisations organise mandatory training on sexual harassment and bullying for all employees and those in management roles; stresses that effective training should be interactive, continuous, tailored to the particular workplace and given by external experts;

32.  Highlights the serious underreporting of cases of harassment and stresses the importance of the presence of trained confidential counsellors in every organisation to support victims, assist with reporting and provide legal assistance;

33.  Stresses that companies should have a zero tolerance approach to sexual harassment and policies conducive to it, and that companies must ensure that all employees are aware of these policies, reporting procedures and their rights and responsibilities in relation to sexual harassment in the workplace;

34.  Calls on media companies to protect and support journalists who are victims of cyberbullying and to adopt a series of good practices such as awareness-raising campaigns, adequate training of management including on preventing victim blaming and secondary victimisation, measures to improve cybersecurity, and the provision of legal support in lodging a complaint to the person concerned;

35.  Calls on the Member States to take measures to ensure equal pay between women and men, as a means of avoiding the abuse of power and promoting gender equality and respect for human dignity, which is fundamental to combating VAW; stresses that equal pay should be guaranteed through pay transparency, and by upholding the right to information for presumed victims, ensuring equal treatment and employment opportunities between women and men, and ensuring and facilitating women’s access to decision-making and senior management posts, in both the public and private sectors, thus ensuring a balanced representation of women on boards of directors; calls on the Commission and the Council, therefore, to step up their efforts to unblock the Women on Boards Directive, which has been on hold in the Council since 2013;

36.  Considers that a comprehensive approach to violence in the workplace is necessary, which should include the acknowledgement of the co-existence of bullying, sexual harassment and harassment on grounds of pregnancy and motherhood with various forms of unpaid work in the formal and informal economies (such as subsistence agriculture, food preparation, care for children and the elderly) and a range of work experience schemes (such as apprenticeships, internships and voluntary work);

37.  Calls for the swift adoption of the revision of the Written Statement Directive (Council Directive 91/533/EEC);

38.  Acknowledges that domestic violence often spills over into the workplace, with a negative impact on workers’ lives and the productivity of enterprises, and that this spillover can also go in the opposite direction, from the workplace to home; calls, in this context, on the Commission to provide guidance on the applicability of European protection orders in the workplace and to clarify the issue of employers’ responsibilities;

39.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to recognise the phenomenon of harassment on grounds of pregnancy and motherhood in employment;

Violence in political life

40.  Calls on all politicians to be held to the highest standards of conduct and act as responsible role models in preventing and combating sexual harassment in parliaments and beyond;

41.  Condemns all forms of harassment against female politicians on social media in the form of ‘trolling’, involving the posting of sexist and abusive messages, including death and rape threats;

42.  Stresses the importance of establishing cross-party policies and procedures to protect individuals elected to political office, as well as employees;

43.  Acknowledges that parity lists at all levels play a key role in enabling the participation of women in politics and reshaping power structures that discriminate against women; calls on the Member States to introduce such lists for elections to the European Parliament;

44.  Calls on all political parties, including those represented in the European Parliament, to take concrete steps to tackle this problem, including the introduction of action plans and the revision of internal party regulations to introduce a zero-tolerance policy, preventive measures, procedures to deal with complaints and adequate sanctions for perpetrators of sexual harassment and the bullying of women in politics;

45.  Calls on national and regional parliaments and on local councils to fully support victims in the framework of internal procedures and/or with the police, to investigate cases, to maintain a confidential register of cases over time, to ensure mandatory training for all staff and members on respect and dignity, and to adopt other best practices to guarantee zero tolerance at all levels in their respective institutions;

46.  Urges all its relevant actors to ensure the comprehensive and swift implementation of its 2017 resolution on combating sexual harassment and abuse in the EU; considers it its duty to ensure zero tolerance of sexual harassment and to adequately protect and support the victims; calls, in this respect, for:

   a task force of independent experts to examine the situation of sexual harassment and abuse in Parliament;
   an evaluation and, if necessary, revision of the composition of Parliament’s competent bodies to ensure independence and gender balance;
   mandatory training for all staff and Members;
   a clear timeline for the comprehensive implementation of all the demands made in the resolution;

47.  Calls on politicians to encourage management training and to attend the training themselves in order to avoid laissez-faire attitudes on the part of leadership and to identify situations in which VAW occurs;

Violence in public spaces

48.  Calls on the Commission to come up with a definition of public space, taking into account evolving communication technologies, and therefore to include in that definition ‘virtual’ public spaces such as social networks and websites;

49.  Calls on Member States to consider introducing specific legislation on harassment in public spaces, including intervention programmes, with a specific focus on the role of intervention on the part of bystanders;

50.  Calls on the Commission and Member States to carry out further research into the causes and consequences of sexual harassment in public spaces, including the impact that sexist and stereotyped advertisements may have on the incidence of violence and harassment;

51.  Highlights that awareness-raising campaigns combating gender stereotypes and patriarchal power relations and promoting zero tolerance of sexual harassment are among the best tools in helping to address gender-based violence in public spaces;

52.  Highlights that education on gender equality at every level is a fundamental tool in avoiding and eliminating these forms of misconduct, changing mindsets and reducing cultural tolerance of sexism and sexual harassment; emphasises the need to introduce educational programmes and debates on the topic in schools; notes that, in cooperation with relevant NGOs and equality bodies, these programmes and debates should, where necessary and appropriate, include information and discussions on the prevention of and measures against sexual harassment, in order to raise awareness of victims’ rights and to remind people of its links with the objectification of women;

53.  Calls on the Member States to encourage awareness-raising campaigns in secondary schools and to include the issue of cyberbullying in educational curricula in schools and universities; calls, in particular, for the successful Delete Cyberbullying campaign and Safer Internet initiative to be continued, with a view to combating bullying and sexual harassment in order to help young people, future citizens of the EU, to understand the need to move closer to gender equality and to respect women;

54.  Calls on Member States to establish a report system in schools to keep track of all cases of cyberbullying;

55.  Notes that some measures taken in Member States have proven effective at reducing harassment in public spaces, such as formal surveillance (increasing the presence of police and/or transport staff on public transport, closed-circuit television (CCTV)) and natural surveillance (better visibility and improved lighting);

56.  Calls on Member States to remind internet service providers of their duty to protect their online consumers by addressing cases of repetitive abuse or stalking in order to protect the victim, inform the perpetrator that they cannot act with impunity, and thus change the perpetrator’s behaviour;

57.  Calls on the Member States, with the aid of IT experts and appropriate supervisory bodies, for example postal police forces, to exercise greater scrutiny over websites in order to protect victims of bullying and sexual harassment and, where necessary, prevent and punish offences;

58.  Calls on the Member States to employ the means necessary to eliminate language used in the media, politics and public discourse that encourages violent behaviour and disparages women, thereby violating their human dignity;

59.  Calls on the Commission and Member States to harmonise their legislation and their definition of gender-based violence in line with the definition of VAW in the Istanbul Convention, in order to increase the effectiveness of laws against harassment and mobbing;

60.  Urges the Commission and the Member States to improve the monitoring mechanisms for the adequate implementation of EU legislation prohibiting sexual harassment and to ensure that equality bodies in each Member State have sufficient resources to act against discrimination;

o
o   o

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

(1) OJ C 326, 26.10.2012, p. 391.
(2) http://fra.europa.eu/en/publication/2014/violence-against-women-eu-wide-survey-main-results-report
(3) OJ L 204, 26.7.2006, p. 23.
(4) OJ L 373, 21.12.2004, p. 37.
(5) OJ L 315, 14.11.2012, p. 57.
(6) https://rm.coe.int/168008482e
(7) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0329.
(8) OJ C 77 E, 28.3.2002, p. 138.
(9) OJ C 285 E, 21.10.2010, p. 53.
(10) OJ C 296 E, 2.10.2012, p. 26.
(11) OJ C 168 E, 14.6.2013, p. 102.
(12) OJ C 285, 29.8.2017, p. 2.
(13) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0451.
(14) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0073.
(15) OJ C 316, 30.8.2016, p. 2.
(16) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0402.
(17) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0417.
(18) https://www.ipu.org/resources/publications/reports/2016-10/sexism-harassment-and-violence-against-women-parliamentarians
(19) Study – ‘Bullying and sexual harassment at the workplace, in public spaces, and in political life in the EU’, European Parliament, Directorate-General for Internal Policies, Policy Department for Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs, March 2018.
(20) https://www.tuc.org.uk/sites/default/files/SexualHarassmentreport2016.pdf


Language equality in the digital age
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European Parliament resolution of 11 September 2018 on language equality in the digital age (2018/2028(INI))
P8_TA(2018)0332A8-0228/2018

The European Parliament,

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

–  having regard to Articles 21(1) and 22 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union,

–  having regard to the 2003 UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage,

–  having regard to Directive 2003/98/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 November 2003 on the re-use of public sector information(1),

–  having regard to Directive 2013/37/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 June 2013 amending Directive 2003/98/EC on the re-use of public sector information(2),

–  having regard to Decision (EU) 2015/2240 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 November 2015 establishing a programme on interoperability solutions and common frameworks for European public administrations, businesses and citizens (ISA2 programme) as a means for modernising the public sector(3),

–  having regard to the Council resolution of 21 November 2008 on a European strategy for multilingualism (2008/C 320/01)(4),

–  having regard to the Council decision of 3 December 2013 establishing the specific programme implementing Horizon 2020 – the Framework Programme for Research and Innovation (2014-2020) and repealing Decisions 2006/971/EC, 2006/972/EC, 2006/973/EC, 2006/974/EC and 2006/975/EC(5),

–  having regard to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD), ratified by the EU in 2010,

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 18 September 2008 entitled ‘Multilingualism: an asset for Europe and a shared commitment’ (COM(2008)0566),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 26 August 2010 entitled ‘A Digital Agenda for Europe’ (COM(2010)0245),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 11 January 2012 entitled ‘A coherent framework for building trust in the Digital Single Market for e-commerce’ (COM(2011)0942),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 6 May 2015 entitled ‘A Digital Single Market Strategy for Europe’ (COM(2015)0192),

–  having regard to the opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee on the communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions ‘A Digital Agenda for Europe’ (COM(2010)0245)(6),

–  having regard to the Recommendation concerning the Promotion and Use of Multilingualism and Universal Access to Cyberspace adopted by the UNESCO General Conference at its 32nd session in Paris on 15 October 2003,

–  having regard to the Special Eurobarometer 386 report entitled ‘Europeans and their Languages’, published in June 2012,

–  having regard to the Presidency conclusions of the Barcelona European Council of 15 and 16 March 2002 (SN 100/1/02 REV 1),

–  having regard to its resolution of 17 June 1988 on sign languages for the deaf(7),

–  having regard to its resolution of 14 January 2004 on Preserving and promoting cultural diversity: the role of the European regions and international organisations such as UNESCO and the Council of Europe (8), and to its resolution of 4 September 2003 on European regional and lesser-used languages – the languages of minorities in the EU – in the context of enlargement and cultural diversity(9),

–  having regard to its resolution of 24 March 2009 on Multilingualism: an asset for Europe and a shared commitment(10),

–  having regard to its resolution of 11 September 2013 on endangered European languages and linguistic diversity in the European Union(11),

–  having regard its resolution of 7 February 2018 on protection and non-discrimination with regard to minorities in the EU Member States(12),

–  having regard to the study by the European Parliamentary Research Service (EPRS) and Scientific Foresight Unit (STOA) entitled ‘Language equality in the digital age – Towards a Human Language Project’, published in March 2017,

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Culture and Education and the opinion of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (A8-0228/2018),

A.  whereas language technologies can make communication easier for the deaf and hard of hearing, the blind and visually impaired and those with dyslexia and whereas, for the purposes of this report, ‘language technology’ refers to technology that supports not only spoken languages, but also sign languages, recognising that sign languages are an important element of Europe’s linguistic diversity;

B.  whereas the development of language technologies (LTs) covers many research areas and disciplines, including computational linguistics, artificial intelligence, computer science and linguistics, with applications such as natural language processing, text analytics, speech technology and data mining, among others;

C.  whereas according to the Special Eurobarometer report 386 entitled ‘Europeans and their languages’, just over half of Europeans (54 %) are able to hold a conversation in at least one additional language, a quarter (25 %) are able to speak at least two additional languages and one in ten (10 %) are conversant in at least three;

D.  whereas there are 24 official languages and more than 60 national, regional and minority languages in the European Union, in addition to migrant languages and, under the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), the various state-recognised sign languages; whereas multilingualism presents one of the greatest assets of cultural diversity in Europe and, at the same time, one of the most significant challenges for the creation of a truly integrated EU;

E.  whereas support for local communities, such as indigenous, rural or remote communities, in overcoming geographical, social and economic obstacles to broadband access is a crucial prerequisite for an efficient, EU multilingualism policy;

F.  whereas multilingualism comes under the scope of a series of EU policy areas, including culture, education, the economy, the digital single market, lifelong learning, employment, social inclusion, competitiveness, youth, civil society, mobility, research and the media; whereas more attention needs to be paid to removing barriers to intercultural and interlinguistic dialogue, and to stimulating mutual understanding;

G.  whereas the Commission acknowledges that the Digital Single Market must be multilingual; whereas no common EU policy has been proposed to address the problem of language barriers;

H.  whereas LTs are used in practically all everyday digital products and services, since most use language to some extent, especially all internet-related products such as search engines, social networks and e-commerce services; whereas the use of LTs also has an impact on sectors of fundamental importance to the everyday well-being of European citizens, such as education, culture and health;

I.  whereas cross-border e-commerce is very low, with just 16 % of European citizens having purchased online from other EU countries in 2015; whereas language technologies can contribute to future European cross-border and cross-language communication, boost economic growth and social stability and reduce natural barriers, thereby respecting and promoting cohesion and convergence, and strengthening the EU’s competitiveness worldwide;

J.  whereas technological development is increasingly language-based and has consequences for growth and society; whereas there is an urgent need for more language-aware policies and for technological, but also genuinely multidisciplinary, research and education on digital communication and LTs and their relationship with growth and society;

K.  whereas fulfilling the Barcelona objective of enabling citizens to communicate well in their mother tongue plus two other languages would give people more opportunities to access cultural, educational and scientific content in digital form and to participate as citizens, in addition to accessing the digital single market; whereas additional means and tools, especially those provided by language technologies, are key to managing European multilingualism properly, and to promoting individual multilingualism;

L.  whereas there have been substantial breakthroughs in artificial intelligence and the pace of development in language technologies has been fast; whereas language-centric artificial intelligence offers new opportunities for digital communication, digitally enhanced communication, technology-enabled communication, and cooperation in all European languages (and beyond), giving speakers of different languages equal access to information and knowledge, and improving IT network functionalities;

M.  whereas the common European values of cooperation, solidarity, equality, recognition and respect should mean that all citizens have full and equal access to digital technologies, which would not only improve European cohesiveness and well-being but also enable a multilingual Digital Single Market;

N.  whereas the availability of technological tools such as video games or educational applications in minority and lesser-used languages is pivotal for the development of language skills, especially in children;

O.  whereas the speakers of lesser-spoken European languages need to be able to express themselves in culturally meaningful ways and to create their own cultural content in local languages;

P.  whereas the emergence of methods such as deep learning, based on increased computational power and access to vast amounts of data, are making language technologies a real solution for overcoming language barriers;

Q.  whereas language barriers have a considerable impact on the construction of the European identity and the future of the European integration process; whereas the EU’s decision-making and policies should be communicated to its citizens in their mother tongue, both online and offline;

R.  whereas language makes up a very large part of the ever-increasing wealth of big data;

S.  whereas an enormous amount of data is expressed in human languages; whereas the management of LTs could enable a wide range of innovative IT products and services in industry, commerce, government, research, public services and administration, reducing natural barriers and market costs;

Current obstacles to achieving language equality in the digital age in Europe

1.  Regrets the fact that, owing to a lack of adequate policies in Europe, there is currently a widening technology gap between well-resourced languages and less-resourced languages, whether the latter are official, co-official or non-official in the EU; regrets, furthermore, the fact that more than 20 European languages are in danger of digital language extinction; notes that the EU and its institutions have a duty to enhance, promote and uphold linguistic diversity in Europe;

2.  Points out that, over the last decade, digital technology has had a significant impact on language evolution, which remains difficult to evaluate; recommends that policymakers devote serious consideration to the studies showing that digital communication is eroding young adults’ literacy skills, leading to grammar and literacy barriers between generations and a general depletion of language; is of the opinion that digital communication should serve to broaden, enrich and advance languages and that these ambitions should be reflected in national literacy education and literacy policies;

3.  Stresses that European lesser-used languages are at a significant disadvantage on account of an acute lack of tools, resources and research funding, which is inhibiting and narrowing the scope of the work done by researchers who, even if equipped with the necessary technological skills, are unable to derive the full benefit of language technologies;

4.  Notes the deepening digital divide between widely used and lesser-used languages, and the increasing digitalisation of European society, which is leading to disparities in access to information, particularly for the low-skilled, the elderly, people on low incomes and people from disadvantaged backgrounds; stresses that making content available in different languages would reduce inequality;

5.  Notes that while it has a strong scientific base in language engineering and technology, and at a time when language technologies constitute an enormous opportunity for it, both economically and culturally, Europe remains far behind, on account of market fragmentation, inadequate investment in knowledge and culture, poorly coordinated research, insufficient funding and legal barriers; further notes that the market is currently dominated by non-European actors, which are not addressing the specific needs of a multilingual Europe; highlights the need to shift this paradigm and reinforce European leadership in language technologies by creating a project tailored specifically to Europe’s needs and demands;

6.  Notes that LTs are available in English first; is aware that large global and European manufacturers and companies often also develop LTs for the major European languages with relatively large markets: Spanish, French and German (these languages already lack resources in some sub-areas); stresses, however, that general EU-level action (policy, funding, research and education) should be taken to ensure the development of LTs for official EU languages which are less widely spoken and that special EU-level actions (policy, funding, research and education) should be launched to include and encourage regional and minority languages in such development;

7.  Insists on the need to make better use of new technological approaches, based on increased computational power and better access to sizeable amounts of data, in order to foster the development of deep-learning neural networks which make human language technologies (HLTs) a real solution to the problem of language barriers; calls, therefore, on the Commission to safeguard sufficient funding to support such technological development;

8.  Notes that languages with fewer speakers need proper support from stakeholders, including type foundries for diacritical marks, keyboard manufacturers and content management systems, in order to properly store, process and display content in such languages; requests that the Commission assess how such support can be instigated and made a recommendation in the procurement process within the EU;

9.  Calls on the Member States to boost the use of multiple languages in digital services such as mobile applications;

10.  Notes with concern that the Digital Single Market remains fragmented by a number of barriers, including language barriers, thus hindering online commerce, communication via social networks and other communication channels, and the cross-border exchange of cultural, creative and audiovisual content, as well as the wider deployment of pan-European public services; stresses that cultural diversity and multilingualism in Europe could benefit from cross-border access to content, particularly for educational purposes; calls on the Commission to develop a strong and coordinated strategy for the multilingual Digital Single Market;

11.  Notes that language technologies currently do not play a role in the European political agenda, despite the fact that respect for linguistic diversity is enshrined in the Treaties;

12.  Commends the important role of previous EU-funded research networks such as FLaReNet, CLARIN, HBP and META-NET (including META-SHARE), for leading the way in the construction of a European language technology platform;

Improving the institutional framework for language technology policies at EU level

13.  Calls on the Council to draft a recommendation on the protection and promotion of cultural and linguistic diversity in the Union, including in the sphere of language technologies;

14.  Recommends that in order to raise the profile of language technologies in Europe, the Commission should allocate the area of ‘multilingualism and language technology’ to the portfolio of a Commissioner; considers that the Commissioner responsible should be tasked with promoting linguistic diversity and equality at EU level, given the importance of linguistic diversity for the future of Europe;

15.  Suggests ensuring comprehensive EU-level legal protection for the 60 regional and minority languages, recognition of the collective rights of national and linguistic minorities in the digital world, and mother-tongue teaching for speakers of official and non-official languages of the EU;

16.  Encourages those Member States that have already developed their own successful policy strategies in the field of language technologies to share their experiences and good practices in order to help other national, regional and local authorities develop their own strategies;

17.  Calls on the Member States to develop comprehensive language-related policies and to allocate resources and use appropriate tools in order to promote and facilitate linguistic diversity and multilingualism in the digital sphere; stresses the shared responsibility of the EU and the Member States, together with universities and other public institutions, in contributing to the preservation of their languages in the digital world and in developing databases and translation technologies for all EU languages, including languages that are less widely spoken; calls for coordination between research and industry with a common objective of enhancing the digital possibilities for language translation and with open access to the data required for technological advancement;

18.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to develop strategies and policy action to facilitate multilingualism in the digital market; requests, in this context, that the Commission and the Member States define the minimum language resources that all European languages should possess, such as data sets, lexicons, speech records, translation memories, annotated corpora and encyclopaedic content, in order to prevent digital extinction;

19.  Recommends that the Commission consider the creation of a centre for linguistic diversity that will strengthen awareness of the importance of lesser-used, regional and minority languages, including in the sphere of language technologies;

20.  Asks the Commission to review its Framework Strategy for Multilingualism and to propose a clear action plan on how to promote linguistic diversity and overcome language barriers in the digital area;

21.  Calls on the Commission to make as a priority of language technology those Member States which are small in size and have their own language, in order to pay heed to the linguistic challenges that they face;

22.  Emphasises that the development of language technology will facilitate the subtitling, dubbing and translation of video games and software applications into minority and lesser-used languages;

23.  Stresses the need to reduce the technology gap between languages by strengthening knowledge and technology transfer;

24.  Urges Member States to come up with effective ways to solidify their native languages;

Recommendations for EU research policies

25.  Calls on the Commission to establish a large-scale, long-term coordinated funding programme for research, development and innovation in the field of language technologies, at European, national and regional levels, tailored specifically to Europe’s needs and demands; emphasises that the programme should seek to tackle deep natural language understanding and increase efficiency by sharing knowledge, infrastructures and resources, with a view to developing innovative technologies and services, in order to achieve the next scientific breakthrough in this area and help to reduce the technology gap between European languages; stresses that this should be done with the participation of research centres, academia, enterprises (particularly SMEs and start-ups) and other relevant stakeholders; further stresses that this project should be open, cloud-based and interoperable and provide highly scalable and high-performance basic tools for a number of language technology applications;

26.  Believes that ICT integrators in the EU should be given economic incentives to accelerate the provision of cloud-based services, in order to enable a smooth integration of HLTs in their e-commerce applications, in particular to ensure that SMEs reap the benefits of automated translation;

27.  Stresses that Europe has to secure its leadership position in the field of language-centric artificial intelligence; recalls that EU companies are the best placed to provide solutions tailored to our specific cultural, societal and economic needs;

28.  Believes that specific programmes within current funding schemes such as Horizon 2020, as well as successor funding programmes, should boost long-term basic research as well as knowledge and technology transfer between countries and regions;

29.  Recommends the creation of a European language technology platform, with representatives from all European languages, that enables the sharing of language technology-related resources, services and open source code packages, particularly between universities and research centres, while ensuring that any funding scheme can both work with and be accessed by the open-source community;

30.  Recommends establishing or extending projects such as the Digital Language Diversity Project, among others, that carry out research into the digital needs of all European languages, including those with both very small and very large numbers of speakers, so as to address the digital divide issue and help prepare these languages for a sustainable digital future;

31.  Recommends an update of the META-NET white paper series, a pan-European survey published in 2012 on the status of language technologies, on resources for all European languages, on information about language barriers and on policies related to the topic, with a view to enabling the assessment and development of language technology policies;

32.  Urges the Commission to set up an HLT financing platform, drawing on the implementation of the 7th Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development, Horizon 2020 and the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF); considers, in addition, that the Commission should place emphasis on research areas needed to ensure a deep language understanding, such as computational linguistics, linguistics, artificial intelligence, LTs, computer science and cognitive science;

33.  Points out that language can be a barrier to the transfer of scientific knowledge; notes that most scientific journals with high impact factors publish in English, leading to a major shift in the creation and distribution of academic knowledge; stresses the need for these knowledge production conditions to be reflected in European research and innovation policies and programmes; urges the Commission to seek solutions to ensure that scientific knowledge is made available in languages other than English and to support the development of artificial intelligence for natural language;

Education policies to improve the future of language technologies in Europe

34.  Believes that owing to the current situation whereby non-European actors dominate the market in language technologies, European education policies should be aimed at retaining talent in Europe, should analyse the current educational needs related to language technology (including all fields and disciplines involved) and, based on this, provide guidelines for the implementation of cohesive joint action at European level, and should raise awareness among schoolchildren and students of the career opportunities in the language technology industry, including the language-centric artificial intelligence industry;

35.  Takes the view that digital teaching materials must also be developed in minority and regional languages – which is important in terms of non-discrimination – if we wish to establish equality of opportunity and treatment;

36.  Points to the need to promote the ever-greater participation of women in the field of European studies on language technologies, as a decisive factor in the development of research and innovation;

37.  Proposes that the Commission and Member States promote the use of language technologies within cultural and educational exchanges between European citizens such as Erasmus+, for example Erasmus+ Online Linguistic Support (OLS), with the aim of reducing the barriers that linguistic diversity can pose to intercultural dialogue and mutual understanding, especially in written and audiovisual expression;

38.  Recommends that Member States also develop digital literacy programmes in Europe’s minority and regional languages and introduce language technology training and tools in the curricula of their schools, universities and vocational colleges; further stresses the fact that literacy remains a significant factor and an absolute prerequisite for progress in the digital inclusion of communities;

39.  Stresses that the Member States should provide the support that educational institutions need in order to improve the digitalisation of languages in the EU;

Language technologies: benefits for both private companies and public bodies

40.  Underlines the need to support the development of investment instruments and accelerator programmes that aim to increase the use of language technologies in the cultural and creative sector, especially targeting less-resourced communities and encouraging the development of language technology capacities in areas where the sector is weaker;

41.  Urges the development of actions and appropriate funding with the aim of enabling and empowering European SMEs and startups to easily access and use LTs in order to grow their businesses online by accessing new markets and development opportunities, thereby boosting their levels of innovation and creating jobs;

42.  Calls on the EU institutions to raise awareness of the benefits for companies, public bodies and citizens of the availability of online services, content and products in multiple languages, including lesser-used, regional and minority languages, with a view to overcoming language barriers and helping to preserve the cultural heritage of language communities;

43.  Supports the development of multilingual public e-services in European, national and, where appropriate, regional and local administrations with innovative, inclusive and assistive LTs, which will reduce inequalities among languages and language communities, promote equal access to services, stimulate the mobility of businesses, citizens and workers in Europe and ensure the achievement of an inclusive multilingual Digital Single Market;

44.  Calls on administrations at all levels to improve access to online services and information in different languages, especially for services in cross-border regions and culture-related issues, and to use existing free and open-source language technology, including machine translation, speech recognition and text-to-speech and intelligent linguistic systems, such as those performing multilingual information retrieval, summarising/abstracting and speech understanding, in order to improve the accessibility of those services;

45.  Highlights the importance of text and data mining techniques for the development of language technologies; underlines the need to strengthen collaboration between industry and data owners; stresses the need to adapt the regulatory framework and ensure a more open and interoperable use and collection of language resources; notes that sensitive information should not be turned over to commercial companies and their free software, as it is unclear how they might use the knowledge gathered, such as in the case of health data;

o
o   o

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

(1) OJ L 345, 31.12.2003, p. 90.
(2) OJ L 175, 27.6.2013, p. 1.
(3) OJ L 318, 4.12.2015, p. 1.
(4) OJ C 320, 16.12.2008, p. 1.
(5) OJ L 347, 20.12.2013, p. 965.
(6) OJ C 54, 19.2.2011, p. 58.
(7) OJ C 187, 18.7.1988, p. 236.
(8) OJ C 92 E, 16.4.2004, p. 322.
(9) OJ C 76 E, 25.3.2004, p. 374.
(10) OJ C 117 E, 6.5.2010, p. 59.
(11) OJ C 93, 9.3.2016, p. 52.
(12) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2018)0032.


Transparent and accountable management of natural resources in developing countries: the case of forests
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European Parliament resolution of 11 September 2018 on transparent and accountable management of natural resources in developing countries: the case of forests (2018/2003(INI))
P8_TA(2018)0333A8-0249/2018

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Action Plan (September 2001) and the FLEGT Voluntary Partnership Agreements (VPAs) with third countries,

–  having regard to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) and Article 208 thereof,

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 995/2010 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 October 2010 laying down the obligations of operators who place timber and timber products on the market(1) (the EU Timber Regulation),

–  having regard to the 2011 Busan Partnership for Effective Development,

–  having regard to the 2015-2030 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),

–  having regard to the Paris Agreement reached at the 21st Conference of Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP21),

–  having regard to the final report of the Commission study entitled ‘The impact of EU consumption on deforestation: Comprehensive analysis of the impact of EU consumption on deforestation’ (2013),

–  having regard to the draft feasibility study on options to step up EU action against deforestation, commissioned by the Commission’s Directorate General for Environment (2017),

–  having regard to the Commission’s communication of 17 October 2008 entitled ‘Addressing the challenges of deforestation and forest degradation to tackle climate change and biodiversity loss’ (COM(2008)0645),

–  having regard to the Consumer Goods Forum of 2010, a global industry network of retailers, manufacturers and service providers, which adopted a target of achieving zero net deforestation in its membership’s supply chains by 2020,

–  having regard to the 2011 Bonn Challenge, which is a global effort to bring 150 million hectares of the world’s deforested and degraded land into restoration by 2020, and 350 million hectares by 2030,

–  having regard to the Tropical Forest Alliance 2020,

–  having regard to the New York Declaration on Forests and Action Agenda of 2014,

–  having regard to the 2016 Council conclusions on forest law enforcement, governance and trade,

–  having regard to the Amsterdam Declaration ‘Towards Eliminating Deforestation from Agricultural Commodity Chains with European Countries’ of December 2015,

–  having regard to the Commission’s Trade for All strategy (2015),

–  having regard to the UN’s Programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) mechanism,

–  having regard to the UN Strategic Plan for Forests 2017-2030 (UNSPF), which defines six Global Forest Goals and 26 associated targets to be achieved by 2030,

–  having regard to the UN Convention to Combat Desertification, adopted on 17 June 1994,

–  having regard to the development by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) of national sustainable commodity platforms,

–  having regard to the Bilateral Cooperation Mechanism on Forest Law Enforcement and Governance (BCM-FLEG) with China (2009),

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

–  having regard to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights of 1966,

–  having regard to the American Convention on Human Rights of 1969,

–  having regard to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights of 1987,

–  having regard to the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention No169 on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples of 1989,

–  having regard to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) of 2007,

–  having regard to the 2012 Voluntary Guidelines on the Governance of Tenure (VGGT) of the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO),

–  having regard to the FAO’s 2014 Principles on Responsible Investment in Agriculture and Food Systems,

–  having regard to the most recent Planetary Boundaries report,

–  having regard to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) of 1973,

–  having regard to the Convention on Biological Diversity of 1992 and the associated Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety of 2000 and Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilisation of 2010,

–  having regard to the final report of the High‑Level Expert Group on Sustainable Finance,

–  having regard to the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, endorsed by the UN Human Rights Council in 2011, as well as to the OECD’s Guidelines on Multinational Enterprises, updated in 2011,

–  having regard to its resolution of 4 April 2017 on palm oil and deforestation of rainforests(2),

–  having regard to its resolution of 25 October 2016 on corporate liability for serious human rights abuses in third countries(3),

–  having regard to the statement from civil society representatives on the EU’s Role in Protecting Forests and Rights of April 2018,

–  having regard to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Global Programme for Combating Wildlife and Forest Crime,

–  having regard to its resolution of 12 September 2017 on the impact of international trade and the EU’s trade policies on global value chains(4),

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Development and the opinions of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety and the Committee on International Trade (A8-0249/2018),

A.  whereas biologically diverse forests contribute substantially to climate change mitigation and adaptation and to conserving biodiversity;

B.  whereas 300 million people live in forests and 1.6 billion people rely directly on forests for their livelihood, including more than 2 000 indigenous groups; whereas forests play a key role in the development of local economies; whereas forests are home to an estimated 80 % of all terrestrial species and constitute, therefore, an important reservoir of biodiversity; whereas, according to the FAO, around 13 million hectares of forest are lost each year;

C.  whereas deforestation and forest degradation occur for the most part in the southern hemisphere and tropical forests;

D.  whereas forests prevent land degradation and desertification and thereby reduce the risk of floods, landslides and drought;

E.  whereas forests are vital for sustainable agriculture and improve food security and nutrition;

F.  whereas forests also provide essential ecosystem services that support sustainable agriculture by regulating water flows, stabilising soils, maintaining soil fertility, regulating the climate, and providing a viable habitat for wild pollinators and predators of agricultural pests;

G.  whereas forest products account for 1 % of the world’s GDP;

H.  whereas forest restoration is one of the strategies vital to limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees; whereas all governments should accept their responsibilities and take measures to reduce the costs of greenhouse gas emissions in their own country;

I.  whereas deforestation and forest degradation is the second leading human cause of carbon emissions and accounts for nearly 20 % of global greenhouse gas emissions;

J.  whereas wood fuel is still the most important forest product in developing countries and the most important energy source in many African and Asian countries; whereas in sub-Saharan Africa, four out of five people still use wood for cooking;

K.  whereas primary forests are rich in biodiversity and store 30 to 70 percent more carbon than logged or degraded forests;

L.  whereas clear, consistent and up-to-date information on forest cover is crucial for effective monitoring and law enforcement;

M.  whereas while FLEGT-VPAs have proved valuable in helping to improve forest governance, they still have many flaws;

N.  whereas FLEGT-VPAs focus on industrial logging, while the vast majority of illegal logging stems from artisanal logging and timber from farms;

O.  whereas FLEGT-VPAs have too narrow a definition of ‘legality’, sometimes leaving aside crucial issues related to land tenure and rights of local people;

P.  whereas FLEGT-VPAs, REDD + and certification have remained separate initiatives, which should be further coordinated;

Q.  whereas the implementation of FLEGT objectives depends heavily on major producing, processing and trading countries such as China, Russia, India, South Korea and Japan, and their commitment to fighting against illegal logging and trade in illegal timber products, and whereas bilateral political dialogues with these partners have produced limited results to date;

R.  whereas the aim of the EU Timber Regulation (EUTR) is to ensure that no illegal timber is placed on the EU market; whereas a 2016 review of the EUTR concluded that the implementation and enforcement of the regulation were incomplete; whereas a public consultation was launched at the start of this year on possible changes to the EUTR’s scope;

S.  whereas protected areas should be at the heart of any strategic approach to wildlife conservation; whereas they should act as secure and inclusive economic development poles, based on sustainable farming, energy, culture and tourism, and lead to the development of good governance;

T.  whereas public-private partnerships play an important role in the sustainable development of parks in sub-Saharan Africa, respecting the rights of forest communities;

U.  whereas corruption and weak institutions represent major obstacles to the protection and preservation of forests; whereas a 2016 joint report by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and INTERPOL(5) identifies forest crimes as being among the five most salient challenges to achieving the SDGs and states that illegal logging represents between 15 and 30 % of the global legal trade; whereas, according to the World Bank, affected countries lose an estimated USD 15 billion each year to illegal logging and timber trade;

V.  whereas forest crime can take several forms, namely illegal exploitation of high-value endangered wood species (CITES listed); illegal logging of timber for building material and furniture; illegal logging and laundering of wood through plantation and agricultural front companies to supply pulp for the paper industry and utilisation of the vastly unregulated wood fuel and charcoal trade to conceal illegal logging within and outside of protected areas;

W.  whereas urbanisation, misgovernance, large-scale deforestation for agriculture, mining and infrastructure development are causing severe human rights violations with devastating impacts on forest peoples and local communities, such as land grabbing, forced evictions, police harassment, arbitrary arrest and the criminalisation of community leaders, human rights defenders and activists;

X.  whereas the UN’s Agenda 2030 sets the target of halting and reversing deforestation and forest degradation by 2020; whereas this commitment is reiterated in the Paris Climate Agreement and should not be deferred;

Y.  whereas SDG 15 explicitly mentions the need for good forestry management, while forests can play a role in helping to achieve many of the other SDGs;

Z.  whereas REDD+ has brought environmental and social benefits in many developing countries, from biodiversity conservation to rural development and the improvement of forest governance; whereas, however, it has been criticised for putting pressure on forest communities;

AA.  whereas there is a growing body of evidence that securing community tenure rights leads to reduced deforestation and more sustainable forest management;

AB.  whereas agriculture accounts for 80 % of deforestation worldwide; whereas livestock farming and large industrial soy and palm oil plantations, in particular, are major drivers of deforestation, particularly in tropical countries, due to growing demand for these products in developed countries and emerging economies and the expansion of industrial agriculture worldwide; whereas a Commission study in 2013 found that EU‑27 was the largest global net importer of embodied deforestation (between 1990 and 2008); whereas the EU therefore has a decisive role to play in combating deforestation and forest degradation, particularly with regard to its demand and its due diligence requirements in relation to agricultural commodities;

AC.  whereas soy expansion has led to social and environmental problems, such as soil erosion, water depletion, pesticide contamination and forced displacement of people; whereas indigenous communities have been among those most affected;

AD.  whereas the expansion of palm oil plantations has led to massive forest destruction and social conflicts that pit plantation companies against indigenous groups and local communities;

AE.  whereas in recent years, the private sector has shown a growing engagement towards forest protection and whereas over 400 companies have committed to eliminating deforestation from their products and supply chains in accordance with the New York Declaration on Forests, focusing in particular on commodities such as palm oil, soy, beef and timber; whereas public measures aimed at agricultural products nevertheless remain relatively rare;

1.  Recalls that the Agenda 2030 recognises that biologically diverse forests play a critical role in sustainable development as well as for the Paris agreement; reiterates that sustainable and inclusive forest management and responsible use of forest commodities constitute the most effective and cheapest natural system for carbon capture and storage;

2.  Asks the EU to support the integration of forest and land governance objectives into the Nationally Determined Contributions of forested developing countries;

3.  Recalls that the Paris Agreement requires all Parties to take action to conserve and enhance sinks, including forests;

4.  Notes that halting deforestation and forest degradation and allowing forests to regrow would provide at least 30 % of all mitigation action needed to limit global warming to 1.5°C(6);

5.  Notes that deforestation is responsible for 11 % of global anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions, more than all passenger cars combined;

6.  Affirms the relevance of the type of forest management for the carbon balance in the tropics, as highlighted in recent papers(7), which indicated that subtler forms of degradation, and not only large-scale deforestation as previously thought, are likely to be a very significant source of carbon emissions, accounting for more than half of emissions;

7.  Points out that reforestation, restoration of existing degraded forests and increasing tree cover on agricultural landscapes via agroforestry represent the only available sources of negative emissions with significant potential to contribute to the achievement of the Paris Agreement goals;

8.  Recalls the Bonn Challenge(8), whose goal of restoring 350 million hectares of degraded and deforested land by 2030 could generate about USD 170 billion per year in net benefits from watershed protection, improved crop yields and forest products, and could sequester up to 1.7 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent annually;

9.  Calls on the Commission to honour the EU’s international commitments, inter alia those made within the framework of COP21, the UN Forum on Forests (UNFF), the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (UNCBD), the New York Declaration on Forests and SDG 15, in particular target 15.2, the aim of which is to promote the implementation of sustainable management of all types of forests, halt deforestation, restore degraded forests and substantially increase afforestation and reforestation globally by 2020;

10.  Recalls specifically that the Union has committed to the Aichi Targets of the Convention on Biological Diversity, requiring 17 % of all habitats to be conserved, 15 % of degraded ecosystems to be restored and forest loss to be brought close to zero, or at least halved, by 2020;

11.  Notes that the aviation industry relies heavily on carbon offsets, including forests; stresses, however, that forest offsets face serious criticism, since they are difficult to measure and impossible to guarantee; believes that the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) should exclude forest offsets from the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA) mechanism;

12.  Underlines that the drivers of deforestation go beyond the forest sector per se and relate to a wide range of issues, such as land tenure, protection of the rights of indigenous people, agricultural policies and climate change; calls on the Commission to step up its efforts regarding the full and effective implementation of FLEGT-VPAs and to address deforestation holistically through a coherent policy frame, i.e. by ensuring effective recognition and respect of land tenure rights of forest-dependent communities, particularly in case of EU development funding, as well as in the screening process of the FLEGT-VPAs, and in such a way as to enable subsistence in local community forestry, while ensuring the conservation of ecosystems;

13.  Calls on the Commission to produce a report every two years on the progress of the FLEGT Action Plan; stresses that this should include an assessment of VPA implementation, scheduled deadlines, any difficulties encountered and measures taken or planned;

14.  Notes that implementation of VPAs will have more chance of succeeding if it envisages more targeted support for vulnerable groups involved in managing timber resources (smallholders, micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs), independent operators in the ‘informal’ sector); stresses the importance of ensuring that the certification processes respect the interests of the more vulnerable groups involved in forest management;

15.  Underlines the importance of combating illegal trade in tropical timber; suggests to the Commission that future negotiations of FLEGT export licences for verified legal timber products exported to the EU take into consideration the experience with the Indonesian system, effective since November 2016; requests that the Commission carry out an autonomous impact assessment of the implementation of the Indonesian timber legality assurance system, which should be presented within an adequate period of time;

16.  Calls on the Commission and Member States to address the risk of conflict timber, to ensure that it is defined as illegal through the VPA process; believes that the definition of legality of the Timber Legality Assurance System (TLAS) should be enlarged to include human rights, in particular community tenure rights, in all VPAs;

17.  Calls on the Commission and Member States to use the proposed ‘FLEGT structured dialogue’ to undertake a proper assessment of corruption risks in the forest sector and develop measures to strengthen participation, transparency, accountability and integrity, as the elements of an anti-corruption strategy;

18.  Calls for the EU to develop a green timber procurement policy to support the protection and restoration of forest ecosystems around the world;

19.  Notes with concern that the forest sector is particularly vulnerable to poor governance, including corruption, fraud and organised crime, which enjoys a significant degree of impunity; deplores the fact that even in countries that have good forest laws, implementation is weak;

20.  Acknowledges that forest crime, such as illegal logging, has been estimated to represent a value of USD 50-152 billion globally in 2016, up from 30-100 billion in 2014, and ranks number one in terms of revenue among environmental crimes; notes that illegal logging plays a substantial role in financing organised crime and thus significantly impoverishes governments, nations and local communities owing to uncollected revenues(9);

21.  Is alarmed that human rights violations, land grabs and the seizure of indigenous land have intensified, driven by the expansion of infrastructure, monoculture plantations for food, fuel and fibre, logging, and carbon mitigation actions such as biofuels, natural gas or large-scale hydropower developments;

22.  Notes with concern that around 300 000 Forest People (also referred to as ‘pygmies’ or ‘batwas’) in the Central African rainforest are faced with unprecedented pressures on their lands, forest resources and societies, as forests are logged, cleared for agriculture or turned into exclusive wildlife conservation areas;

23.  Urges strongly that the Commission follow up on the points made in Parliament’s resolution of 25 October 2016 on corporate liability for serious human rights abuses in third countries(10), including with reference to corporations operating in this field; urges the Commission in particular to set in motion the measures called for in this resolution in order to identify and punish those responsible, when such actions can be directly or indirectly ascribed to multinational corporations operating within the jurisdiction of a Member State;

24.  Highlights that illegal logging causes loss of tax revenues for developing countries; deplores in particular the fact that offshore tax havens and tax avoidance schemes are being used to fund shell companies and subsidiaries of major pulp, logging and mining companies associated with deforestation, as confirmed by the Panama and Paradise Papers, in a context where the effects of unregulated financial globalisation may impact negatively on forest conservation and environmental sustainability; urges once more that the EU show strong political will and determination in combating tax avoidance and evasion, both domestically and with third countries;

25.  Welcomes the publication of the long-awaited feasibility study on options to step up EU action against deforestation(11), commissioned by the Commission’s Directorate-General for Environment; notes that this study focuses mainly on seven forest risk commodities, namely palm oil, soy, rubber, beef, maize, cocoa and coffee, and recognises that ‘the EU is clearly part of the problem of global deforestation’;

26.  Urges the Commission to immediately launch a thorough impact assessment, and a genuine stakeholder consultation, involving in particular local people and women, with the purpose of establishing a meaningful EU Action Plan on deforestation and forest degradation that includes concrete and coherent regulatory measures, including a monitoring mechanism, to ensure that no supply chains or financial transactions linked to the EU cause deforestation, forest degradation, or human rights violations; calls for this Action Plan to promote enhanced financial and technical assistance to producer countries with the specific aim of protecting, maintaining and restoring forests and critical ecosystems, and enhancing the livelihoods of forest-dependent communities;

27.  Recalls that indigenous women and women farmers play a central role in protecting forest ecosystems; notes with concern, however, the absence of women’s inclusion and empowerment in the natural resource management process; deplores the lack of forestry education; believes that gender equality in forestry education is a key point in the sustainable management of forests, which should be reflected in the EU Action Plan;

28.  Notes the opening of the public consultation on the product scope of the Timber Regulation; considers that the possibility of selecting an option in the questionnaire on reducing the scope to be covered by the regulation is not justified, given that illegal trade flourishes within the current scope of the regulation; further notes the favourable position of the European Confederation of the Woodworking Industries on extending the scope of the Timber Regulation to all wood products;

29.  Notes that it was not possible to assess in the 2016 review of the EUTR (SWD(2016)0034) whether penalties laid down by Member States are effective, proportionate and dissuasive, as the number of sanctions applied so far has been very low; questions the application by some Member States of the criterion ‘the national economic conditions’ for set penalties, given the international aspect of the crime and the fact that it is ranked number one in environmental crimes in the world;

30.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to fully implement and enforce the EUTR, and for the EUTR to cover all products that are or may be made of wood, and that contain or may contain wood; emphasises the requirement to carry out adequate and effective checks, including on complex supply chains and imports from processing countries, and calls for robust and dissuasive sanctions for all economic players, given that this is an international crime generating the largest revenues among environmental crimes;

31.  Notes that it was revealed that FLEGT export licences allow illegally sourced wood to be mixed with legal timber and that such wood could therefore potentially be exported to the EU as compliant with the EUTR(12);

32.  Calls on the Commission to update the EUTR guidance to address conflict timber and recommend more detailed risk mitigation measures to strengthen enforcement, including requesting enhanced due diligence from operators importing from conflict-affected or high-risk areas, anti-bribery terms and conditions in contracts with suppliers, the implementation of anti-corruption compliance provisions, audited financial statements and anti-corruption audits;

Forest and land governance

33.  Acknowledges the important work conducted under the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) and the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) with regard to global sustainable forest management, which plays a key role in sustainable trade of forest products;

34.  Calls on the EU to establish stronger cooperation and effective partnerships with major timber-consuming countries and international stakeholders, such as the UN, particularly the FAO, the Centre for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and the World Bank’s Programme on Forests (PROFOR), for a more effective reduction in the illegal logged timber trade at global level and better forest governance in general;

35.  Stresses that secondary forests, regenerating largely through natural processes after significant human or natural disturbance of primary forests, also provide, alongside primary forests, crucial ecosystem services, a livelihood for local populations and a source of timber; considers that as their survival is also threatened by illegal logging, any action addressing transparency and accountability of forest management should also target secondary and not only primary forests;

36.  Stresses the need to encourage participatory and community forest management by strengthening the involvement of civil society in the planning and implementation of forest management policies and projects, raising awareness and ensuring that local communities share the benefits of forest resources;

37.  Notes with concern that insecure community land tenure of forest peoples constitutes a key barrier to combatting deforestation;

38.  Recalls that responsible governance of tenure of land and forests is essential to ensure social stability, sustainable use of the environment and responsible investment for sustainable development;

39.  Notes the existence of models of community forestry/collective customary tenure, which can bring a number of benefits(13), including an increase in the forest area and in available water resources, a reduction in illegal logging by putting in place clear rules on timber access, and a robust forest monitoring system; proposes that more research and support be provided to help develop legal frameworks on community forestry;

40.  Urges partner countries to recognise and protect the right of local forest-dependent communities, and of indigenous peoples, notably indigenous women, to customary ownership and control of their lands, territories and natural resources, as set out in international human rights instruments such as the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, UNDRIP and in ILO Convention No 169; calls for the EU to support partner countries in this effort and in applying scrupulously the principle of free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) to large-scale land acquisitions;

41.  Denounces the shrinking space for and the rising number of attacks on civil society’s and local communities’ freedom of expression with regard to forest governance;

42.  Calls on the Commission to make the FAO VGGT binding for the External Investment Plan; stresses that compliance with VGGT requires the existence of effective independent monitoring and enforcement, including appropriate dispute resolution and grievance mechanisms; insists that standards on land tenure are included in project design, monitoring and annual reporting and become binding for all EU external action funded by official development assistance (ODA);

43.  Urges the Commission and the Member States to establish, as an immediate step, an effective administrative complaints mechanism for victims of human rights violations and other harmful impacts induced by ODA-funded activities in order to initiate investigation and reconciliation processes; points out that this mechanism should have standardised procedures, be of an administrative nature, and therefore be complementary to judicial mechanisms, and that EU Delegations could act as entry points;

44.  Calls for the EU to adopt a rule on mandatory disclosure of information on deforestation that provides proof of financial investments linked to the production or processing of forest risk commodities;

45.  Recalls that the Commission’s report on the functioning of the Transparency Directive 2013/50/EU, which introduces a disclosure requirement for payments to governments by listed and large non-listed companies with activities in the extractive industry and involving logging of primary (natural and semi-natural) forests, should be submitted by 27 November 2018 to Parliament and the Council; further notes that this report should be accompanied by a legislative proposal; in light of a possible review, calls on the Commission to consider extending the obligation to other industry sectors affecting forests, and to forests other than primary forests;

46.  Deplores that deficient local participation and lack of forest community agreements in land use zoning and concession allocation are common in many countries; takes the view that the TLAS should include procedural safeguards that empower communities, with the aim of reducing the likelihood of corrupt or inequitable allocation or transfers of land;

47.  Stresses that transparency of data, better mapping, independent monitoring, auditing tools and information‑sharing are essential to improving governance, international cooperation and facilitating compliance with zero-deforestation commitments; calls for the EU to step up financial and technical support to partner countries to achieve these ends and to help them develop the expertise necessary to improve local forest governance structures and accountability;

Responsible supply chains and financing

48.  Notes that imports of timber and timber products should be more thoroughly checked at the EU borders, to ensure that the imported products do indeed comply with the criteria necessary to enter the EU;

49.  Notes that more than half of the commodities produced and exported onto the global market are products of illegal deforestation; points out that, taking into account agriculture-related forest risk-commodities, it is estimated that 65 % of Brazil’s and 9 % of Argentina’s beef exports, 41 % of Brazil’s, 5 % of Argentina’s and 30 % of Paraguay’s soy exports are likely to be linked to illegal deforestation; further notes that EU producers import significant amounts of feed and proteins from developing countries(14);

50.  Highlights the key role of the private sector in achieving international forest targets, including forest restoration; stresses, however, the need to ensure that global supply chains and financial flows only support legal, sustainable and deforestation-free production and do not result in human rights violations;

51.  Welcomes the fact that major private sector actors (very often from the EU) have pledged to eliminate deforestation from their supply chains and investments; notes, however, that the EU must rise to the challenge and reinforce private sector efforts through policies and appropriate measures creating a common baseline for all companies and levelling the playing field; considers that this would boost pledges, generate trust and make companies more accountable for their commitments;

52.  Recalls that the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights must be respected; supports the ongoing negotiations to create a binding UN instrument on transnational corporations and other business enterprises with respect to human rights and stresses the importance of the EU being actively involved in this process;

53.  Encourages corporations to take action to prevent corruption in their business practices, particularly those related to the allocation of land tenure rights, and to enlarge their external monitoring systems on labour standards to encompass broader deforestation-related commitments;

54.  Calls for the EU to introduce mandatory requirements for the financial industry to undertake robust due diligence when assessing financial and non-financial environmental, social and governance risks; calls equally for the public disclosure of the due diligence process, through the annual reporting of investors by way of a minimum;

55.  Calls for the EU to address global deforestation by regulating European trade and consumption of forest-risk commodities, such as soy, palm oil, eucalyptus, beef, leather and cocoa, based on lessons learned from the FLEGT Action Plan, the Timber Regulation, the Conflict Mineral Regulation, the Non-Financial Reporting Directive, legislation on illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUU) and other EU initiatives to regulate supply chains;

56.  Considers that this regulatory framework should:

   (a) establish mandatory criteria for sustainable and deforestation-free products;
   (b) impose mandatory due diligence obligations on both upstream and downstream operators in forest-risk commodity supply chains;
   (c) enforce traceability of commodities and transparency throughout the supply chain;
   (d) require Member States’ competent authorities to investigate and prosecute EU nationals or EU-based companies that benefit from illegal land conversion in producer countries;
   (e) comply with international human rights law, respect customary rights as set out in the VGGT and guarantee the FPIC of all potentially affected communities through the entire lifecycle of the product;

57.  Calls for the EU to ensure that the measures put in place and the regulatory framework do not give rise to undue burdens on small and medium-sized producers or prevent their access to markets and international trade;

58.  Calls equally for the EU to promote a similar binding regulatory framework at international level and to integrate forest diplomacy into its climate policy, with the aim of encouraging countries, which process and/or import significant quantities of tropical timber, such as China and Vietnam, to adopt effective legislation banning the import of illegally harvested timber and requiring operators to conduct due diligence (along similar lines to the EUTR); to this end, calls on the Commission to improve transparency in relation to the discussions and actions taken under the BCM-FLEGT with China;

59.  Deplores the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) Government’s challenge to the moratorium on granting two Chinese companies new licences for logging in the DRC’s tropical rain forests; calls for the moratorium to be maintained until the logging companies, the Government and local forest-dependent communities reach an agreement on protocols ensuring satisfactory environmental and societal management;

60.  Calls for the EU to introduce cross-compliance criteria for animal feed in the common agricultural policy (CAP) reform with the objective of ensuring that public subsidies are granted for sustainable and deforestation-free foodstuffs, reducing imports of protein feed crops and livestock, while diversifying and enhancing domestic protein crop production and with the aim of eliminating the import of forest-risk commodities (e.g. soy, maize) from direct or indirect support in the future EU food and farming policy;

61.  Stresses that the new CAP will have to be aligned with the EU’s international commitments, including the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on climate change;

62.  Calls for the SDG indicators to be used to assess the CAP’s external effects, as suggested by the OECD;

63.  Recalls that Malaysia and Indonesia are the main producers of palm oil, with an estimated 85-90 % of global production, and that the growing demand for this commodity leads to deforestation, puts pressure on land use and has significant effects on local communities, health and climate change; stresses, in this context, that the negotiations for trade agreements with Indonesia and Malaysia should be used to improve the situation on the ground;

64.  Regarding palm oil, acknowledges the positive contribution made by existing certification schemes, but observes with regret that Round Table on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), Indonesian Sustainable Palm Oil (ISPO), Malaysia Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO) and all other recognised major certification schemes do not effectively prohibit their members from converting rainforests or peatlands into palm plantations; considers, therefore, that these major certification schemes fail to effectively limit greenhouse gas emissions during the establishment and operation of the plantations, and have consequently been unable to prevent massive forest and peat fires; calls on the Commission to ensure that independent auditing and monitoring of these certification schemes is carried out, so as to guarantee that the palm oil placed on the EU market complies with all necessary standards and is sustainable; notes that the issue of sustainability in the palm oil sector cannot be addressed by voluntary measures and policies alone, but that palm oil companies should also be subject to binding rules and a mandatory certification scheme;

65.  Stresses the need to improve the reliability of voluntary certification schemes through labelling, with a view to guaranteeing that only palm oil free from deforestation, forest degradation, illegitimate appropriation of land and other human rights violations enters the EU market, in line with Parliament’s resolution of 25 October 2016 on corporate liability for serious human rights abuses in third countries(15), and that schemes such as the RSPO include all end-uses of palm oil; stresses furthermore that consumers need to be better informed about the harmful effects of unsustainable palm oil production on the environment, the ultimate goal being to significantly reduce palm oil consumption;

66.  Urges the Commission, and all Member States that have not yet done so, to work towards the establishment of an EU-wide commitment to source only certified sustainable palm oil by 2020 by, inter alia, signing and implementing the Amsterdam Declaration ‘Towards Eliminating Deforestation from Agricultural Commodity Chains with European Countries’, and to work towards the establishment of an industry commitment by, inter alia, signing and implementing the Amsterdam Declaration ‘In Support of a Fully Sustainable Palm Oil Supply Chain by 2020’;

Policy coherence for development

67.  Recalls that SDGs can only be achieved if supply chains become sustainable and synergies are created between policies; is alarmed that the EU’s high dependence on imports of animal feed in the form of soybeans causes deforestation abroad; is worried about the environmental impact of increasing imports of biomass and the rising demand for wood in Europe, notably to meet the EU renewable energy targets; calls on the EU to comply with the principle of policy coherence for development (PCD), as enshrined in Article 208 of the TFEU, as it constitutes a fundamental aspect of the EU’s contribution to implementing Agenda 2030, the Paris Agreement and the European Consensus for Development; calls, therefore, for the EU to ensure consistency between its development, trade, agriculture, energy and climate policies;

68.  Calls on the Commission to streamline and better coordinate its efforts in fighting illegal logging within the different EU policies and its services involved in the policies; calls on the Commission to negotiate timber import standards in future bilateral or multilateral trade‑related agreements, in order to avoid undermining the successes achieved through the FLEGT Action Plan with timber-producing countries;

69.  Recalls that 80 % of the forests are the traditional lands and territories of indigenous peoples and local communities; notes with concern that the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples has reported receiving an increasing number of allegations concerning situations where climate change mitigation projects have negatively affected the rights of indigenous peoples, notably renewable energy projects such as biofuel production and the construction of hydroelectric dams; stresses the need to secure land tenure rights for local forest communities, including customary rights; highlights results-based payments and REDD+ as an opportunity to enhance forest governance, land tenure rights and livelihoods;

70.  Stresses the vital role of indigenous people in the sustainable management of natural resources and biodiversity conservation; recalls that the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) calls upon its state parties to respect the knowledge and rights of indigenous peoples as safeguards in implementing REDD+; urges partner countries to adopt measures to effectively engage indigenous peoples in climate change adaptation and mitigation measures;

71.  Calls for the EU and its Member States to enhance synergies between FLEGT-VPA and REDD+;

72.  Expresses deep concern over the expansion of large-scale industrial use of forests for energy through monoculture, which accelerates the global loss of biodiversity and the deterioration of ecosystems services;

73.  Recalls that EU policy on biofuel should be consistent with the SDGs and the principle of PCD; reiterates that the EU should phase out all policy incentives for agrofuels by 2030 at the latest;

74.  Deplores that the ongoing revision of the Renewable Energy Directive (RED II) does not introduce social sustainability criteria and other indirect land use consequences taking into account the risks of land-grabbing; recalls that the Directive should be consistent with international tenure rights standards, i.e. ILO Convention No 169 and FAO Voluntary Guidelines on Land Tenures and Principles for Responsible Investment in Agriculture and Food Systems; stresses equally the need to introduce more stringent criteria on forest biomass to avoid the promotion of bioenergy triggering deforestation abroad;

75.  Notes the unequivocal body of evidence that the conversion of tropical forest to agriculture, plantations and other land uses causes a significant loss of species, and particularly of forest-specialist species; stresses the need to restore natural, biologically diverse forests as a means to combat climate change and to protect biodiversity, in line with the objectives of Agenda 2030, particularly Goal 15; believes that forest restoration programmes should recognise local customary land rights, be inclusive and tailored to local conditions and promote nature-based solutions such as forest landscape restoration (FLR) to balance land uses, including protected areas, agroforestry, farming systems, small-scale plantations and human settlements; calls on the Commission and the Member States to ensure that the impact of EU consumption on deforestation abroad is addressed in light of the objectives set by the EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2020;

76.  Calls on the EU to support initiatives by forest-rich developing countries aimed at counterbalancing the unfettered expansion of agricultural practices and mining activities which have had an adverse impact on the management of forests and on the livelihood and cultural integrity of indigenous peoples, and detrimental consequences for social stability and the food sovereignty of farmers;

77.  Reiterates that sustainable wood value chains, sourced from sustainably managed forests, including sustainable forest plantations and family tree farming, can deliver important contributions to achievement of the SDGs and climate change commitments; insists, in a context where forest degradation or disturbance accounts for 68.9 per cent of overall losses of carbon in tropical ecosystems(16), that no public funding originating from climate finance and development funding should be used to support the expansion of agriculture, industrial scale logging, mining, resource extraction, or infrastructure development into intact forest landscapes, while finance from public funding more generally should be subject to robust sustainability criteria; further calls for the EU and its Member States to coordinate donor policies in this respect(17);

78.  Considers that efforts to halt deforestation must include aid and support for the most effective use of existing croplands, to be applied in conjunction with a smart village approach; recognises that agro-ecological practices have a strong potential to maximise ecosystem functions and resilience via mixed high-diversity planting, agroforestry and permaculture techniques relevant also for crops such as palm oil, cocoa or rubber, and also deliver excess benefits in terms of social outcomes, diversification of production and productivity, without resorting to further forest conversion;

Forest criminality

79.  Notes that, according to UNEP and INTERPOL, illegal logging and trade in timber are one of the five most important sectors of environmental criminality, with transnational organised crime groups playing an ever greater role;

80.  Stresses that combating illegal international trade requires concerted and inclusive action to stop the destruction, deforestation, illegal logging and combat the fraud, the slaughter and the demand for forest commodities and wildlife;

81.  Underlines that forest crime, from unregulated or illegal burning of charcoal to large-scale corporate crimes involving timber, paper and pulp, have a major impact on global climate emissions, water reserves, desertification and rainfall patterns;

82.  Notes with concern that, according to UNEP and INTERPOL, legislation tackling environmental crime is deemed to be inadequate in many countries, due among other things to lack of expertise and personnel, low fines or absence of criminal sanctions, etc., which constitute obstacles to the effective fight against these crimes;

83.  Stresses the importance of deploying truly dissuasive and effective penalties in producer countries to combat illegal logging and trade in timber;

84.  Calls on the Commission to widen the scope of Directive 2008/99/EC on the protection of the environment through criminal law(18) to include illegal timber logging;

85.  Encourages the EU to provide assistance in strengthening surveillance of deforestation and illegal activities;

86.  Stresses the need to address the root causes of environmental crime, such as poverty, corruption and poor governance, through an integrated and holistic approach, encouraging financial cross-border cooperation and employing all relevant instruments for combating international organised crime, including the seizure and confiscation of criminal assets and action against money laundering;

87.  Stresses the need to strengthen domestic legal frameworks, support the setting up of national law enforcement networks and upgrade the implementation and enforcement of international law of relevance to the promotion of transparent and accountable forest management, inter alia through exchange of best practices, stringent information disclosure, robust sustainability impact assessments and monitoring and reporting systems, taking into account the need to protect forest guards; calls for enhanced cross-sectoral and cross-agency collaboration both at national and international levels, particularly with INTERPOL and UNODC, including intelligence sharing and judicial cooperation and the enlargement of the scope of the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to cover environmental crime;

88.  Recalls that greater access to customs data on imports entering the EU would increase global value chain transparency and accountability; calls on the Commission to extend customs data requirements and include the exporter and the manufacturer as mandatory customs data elements, thereby enhancing the transparency and traceability of global value chains;

Trade Issues

89.  Emphasises that Union trade negotiations must be in line with Union commitments to take action to reduce deforestation and forest degradation and to enhance forest carbon stocks in developing countries;

90.  Emphasises the need to expand and reinforce the arrangements for preventing, monitoring and verifying environmental and human rights impacts of EU bilateral and multilateral free trade and investment agreements (FTAs), including via verifiable indicators and independent community-based monitoring and reporting initiatives;

91.  Urges the EU to always include in its trade and sustainable development (TSD) chapters binding and enforceable provisions to halt illegal logging, deforestation, forest degradation and land grabbing, and other human rights violations which are subject to suitable and effective dispute settlement mechanisms, and to consider, among various enforcement methods, a sanctions-based mechanism and provisions to guarantee the right to property, prior consultation and informed consent; calls on the Commission to include such provisions in already concluded FTAs through the revision clause, particularly the commitment to effectively implement the Paris Agreement on Climate Change; stresses the importance of monitoring these provisions and the need to start government consultation procedures without delay in the event that trade partners disrespect these rules, and to trigger existing enforcement mechanisms such as the dispute resolution mechanisms established within the framework of TSD chapters;

92.  Calls on the Commission to include ambitious forest-specific provisions in all EU trade and investment agreements; stresses that these provisions should be binding and enforceable through effective monitoring and sanctions mechanisms that allow individuals and communities, outside or within the EU, to seek redress;

93.  Stresses that corruption linked to illegal logging should be addressed in EU trade policy; urges the Commission to include in its FTAs illegal logging‑related anti-corruption provisions that are enforceable and which must be effectively and fully implemented;

94.  Urges the Commission to include illegal forest practices, such as underpricing of wood in concessions, harvesting of protected trees by commercial corporations, smuggling of forest products across borders, illegal logging and processing forest raw materials without a licence, within the scope of enforceable anti-corruption provisions in FTAs;

95.  Notes that the generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP) Regulation still has limited scope for the protection and accountable management of forestry resources; calls on the Commission to ensure that forest-relevant conventions covered by the GSP and GSP+ schemes are properly monitored, including by civil society organisations, so as to guarantee the protection of forests in partner countries, including the possibility of setting up a complaint mechanism to ensure that interested parties’ complaints are duly considered; stresses that this mechanism must give special consideration to the rights of indigenous peoples, forest-dependent communities, and the rights granted under ILO Convention C169 on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples where applicable;

96.  Recalls the importance of adequate access to justice, legal remedies and effective protection for whistleblowers in natural resources exporting countries in order to ensure the efficiency of any legislation or initiative;

o
o   o

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

(1) OJ L 295, 12.11.2010, p. 23.
(2) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0098.
(3) OJ C 215, 19.6.2018, p. 125.
(4) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0330.
(5) Nellemann, C. (Editor in Chief); Henriksen, R., Kreilhuber, A., Stewart, D., Kotsovou, M., Raxter, P., Mrema, E., and Barrat, S. (Eds), The Rise of Environmental Crime – A Growing Threat to Natural Resources, Peace, Development And Security, A UNEP-INTERPOL Rapid Response Assessment, United Nations Environment Programme and RHIPTO Rapid Response, Norwegian Centre for Global Analyses, www.rhipto.org, 2016.
(6) Goodman, R.C. and Herold, M., Why Maintaining Tropical Forests is Essential and Urgent for Maintaining a Stable Climate, Working Paper 385, Centre for Global Development, Washington DC, 2014; McKinsey & Company, Pathways to a Low-Carbon Economy, 2009; McKinsey & Company, Pathways to a Low‑Carbon Economy: Version 2 of the Global Greenhouse Gas Abatement Cost Curve, 2013.
(7) Baccini, A. et al., ‘Tropical forests are a net carbon source based on aboveground measurements of gain and loss’, Science, Vol. 358, Issue 6360, 2017, pp. 230-234.
(8) See https://www.iucn.org/theme/forests/our-work/forest-landscape-restoration/bonn-challenge
(9) Nellemann, C. (Editor in Chief); Henriksen, R., Kreilhuber, A., Stewart, D., Kotsovou, M., Raxter, P., Mrema, E., and Barrat, S. (Eds), The Rise of Environmental Crime – A Growing Threat to Natural Resources, Peace, Development And Security, A UNEP-INTERPOL Rapid Response Assessment, United Nations Environment Programme and RHIPTO Rapid Response, Norwegian Centre for Global Analyses, www.rhipto.org, 2016.
(10) OJ C 215, 19.6.2018, p. 125.
(11) http://ec.europa.eu/environment/forests/pdf/feasibility_study_deforestation_kh0418199enn_main_report.pdf
(12) The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) and the Indonesian Forest Monitoring Network’s (Jaringan Pemantau Independen Kehutanan/JPIK) 2014 Permitting Crime report found that some TLAS-licensed companies are involved in ‘timber laundering’, mixing illegally sourced woods with legal timber. Today, these woods could potentially be exported to the EU as FLEGT-licensed timber. Available at: http://www.wri.org/blog/2018/01/indonesia-has-carrot-end-illegal-logging-now-it-needs-stick; primary source: https://eia-international.org/wp-content/uploads/Permitting-Crime.pdf
(13) A case from Nepal presented by ClientEarth, available at https://www.clientearth.org/what-can-we-learn-from-community-forests-in-nepal/
(14) Forest Trends Report Series: Consumer Goods and Deforestation: An Analysis of the Extent and Nature of Illegality in Forest Conversion for Agriculture and Timber Plantations, 2014.
(15) OJ C 215, 19.6.2018, p. 125.
(16) Baccini, A. et al., ‘Tropical forests are a net carbon source based on aboveground measurements of gain and loss’, Science, Vol. 358, Issue 6360, 2017, pp. 230-234, http://science.sciencemag.org/content/early/2017/09/27/science.aam5962
(17) Baccini, A. et al., op. cit.
(18) OJ L 328, 6.12.2008, p. 28.

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