Index 
Texts adopted
Thursday, 24 October 2019 - StrasbourgProvisional edition
Situation of LGBTI persons in Uganda
 Egypt
 The proposed new Criminal Code of Indonesia
 Financial assistance to Member States to cover serious financial burden inflicted on them following a withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the EU without an agreement ***I
 A use of chromium trioxide
 Effects of the bankruptcy of Thomas Cook Group
 State of play of the disclosure of income tax information by certain undertakings and branches - public country-by-country reporting
 The Turkish military operation in northeast Syria and its consequences
 Opening accession negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania

Situation of LGBTI persons in Uganda
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European Parliament resolution of 24 October 2019 on the situation of LGBTI people in Uganda (2019/2879(RSP))
P9_TA-PROV(2019)0042RC-B9-0134/2019

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its previous resolutions on Uganda,

–  having regard to its previous resolutions on discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation, notably that of 4 February 2014 on the EU Roadmap against homophobia, discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity(1) and that of 14 February 2019 on the future of the LGBTI List of Actions (2019-2024)(2),

–  having regard to the Joint Declaration of 9 October 2019 by the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and the Secretary General of the Council of Europe on the European and World Day against the Death Penalty,

–  having regard to the Declaration by High Representative Federica Mogherini on behalf of the EU on the occasion of the International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, of 17 May 2019,

–  having regard to the EU Annual Report on Human Rights and Democracy in the World 2018 – Uganda, adopted by the European Council on 13 May 2019,

–  having regard to Articles 2, 3(5), 21, 24, 29 and 31 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU) and Articles 10 and 215 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), which commit the EU and its Member States, in their relations with the wider world, to upholding and promoting universal human rights and the protection of individuals, and adopting restrictive measures in case of grave human rights breaches,

–  having regard to international human rights obligations, including those contained in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and in the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms,

–  having regard to the Council of the European Union’s ‘Toolkit to promote and protect the enjoyment of all human rights by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people’ (the LGBTI Toolkit),

–  having regard to the EU Guidelines on the promotion and protection of the enjoyment of all human rights by LGBTI people,

–  having regard to the respective EU Guidelines on the death penalty, on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, and on human rights defenders,

–  having regard to the UN Human Rights Council’s latest Universal Periodic Review of Uganda,

–  having regard to the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, and in particular Article 21 thereof, which, prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation,

–  having regard to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of 1966 (ICCPR), to which Uganda has been a party since 1995,

–  having regard to the cross-party letter signed by 70 MEPs on 15 October 2019 on the persecution of the LGBTI community in Uganda,

–  having regard to its resolution of 13 March 2014 on launching consultations to suspend Uganda and Nigeria from the Cotonou Agreement in view of recent legislation further criminalising homosexuality(3),

–  having regard to the ACP-EU Partnership Agreement (the Cotonou Agreement), and in particular to Article 8(4) thereof on non-discrimination,

–  having regard to the Yogyakarta Principles (‘Principles and State Obligations on the Application of International Human Rights Law in Relation to Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, Gender Expression and Sex Characteristics’) adopted in November 2006, and the 10 complementary principles (‘plus 10’) adopted on 10 November 2017,

–  having regard to the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda,

–  having regard to Rules 144(5) and 132(4) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.  whereas in recent weeks, Uganda has experienced a rise in extremely homophobic rhetoric from the authorities, in particular from Simon Lokodo, Ugandan State Minister in charge of Ethics and Integrity, who on 10 October 2019 announced plans to reintroduce the anti-homosexuality bill, which would include the death penalty, for ‘aggravated homosexuality’; whereas various members of the Ugandan Parliament also support the proposed new law;

B.  whereas on 12 October, government spokesperson Ofwono Opondo affirmed that the government had no intention to introduce any new law with regard to LGBTI activities since ‘the current provisions in the penal code are sufficient’; whereas this was confirmed by President Museveni’s senior press secretary;

C.  whereas current provisions in the penal code violate human rights and criminalise homosexuality; whereas same-sex sexual acts remain illegal and punishable with up to life imprisonment under sections 145 and 146 of the Ugandan Penal Code which, among other things, criminalises ‘carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature’, and many existing laws allow discrimination against LGBTI people, limiting their access to employment, housing, social security, education or health services);

D.  whereas the Anti-Homosexuality Act banning the promotion of homosexuality and imposing the death penalty for homosexual acts was already introduced in 2014, at the initiative of President Museveni, but was eventually declared null and void by the Ugandan constitutional court; whereas the international community at large has strongly condemned the proposed law, and many donors, including EU Member States, the United States and the World Bank took a decision to withhold their development aid to the country;

E.  whereas this event sadly brings to light the appalling situation of LGBTI people in Uganda, where homophobic views are widespread; whereas societal discrimination, hate crimes and anti-homosexual campaigns are regularly reported by human rights organisations, including harassment, beatings, extortions, evictions, arbitrary arrests and detention, and killings;

F.  whereas according to human rights groups, Uganda has suffered an alarming rise in attacks against LGBTI people; whereas according to Sexual Minorities Uganda, an alliance of LGBTI organisations, three gay men and one transgender woman were killed this year, the latest being LGBTI activist Brian Wasswa, who was attacked in his home on 4 October 2019;

G.  whereas the Ugandan constitution bans discrimination on a number of grounds but does not extend this ban to discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation;

H.  whereas the European Union’s Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) aims to develop and consolidate democracy and the rule of law, and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms; whereas the EU’s development assistance to Uganda amounts to EUR 578 million under the 2014‑2020 National Indicative Programme; whereas it includes the promotion and safeguard of good governance and the respect for human rights as a key objective;

I.  whereas beneficiaries of the European Development Fund are subject to strict conditionality with regard to respecting human rights, the rule of law, freedom of religion and protection of minorities;

J.  whereas in May 2019, in accordance with Article 8 of the Cotonou Partnership Agreement, Uganda and the European Union reaffirmed their close partnership in a political dialogue;

K.  whereas EU international cooperation should support the efforts of ACP States in developing supportive legal and policy frameworks and in eliminating punitive laws, policies, practices, stigmatisation and discrimination that undermine human rights;

L.  whereas 32 of a total of 54 African countries criminalise same‑sex relations, and whereas Mauritania, Sudan, northern Nigeria and Somalia punish homosexuality by death;

1.  Expresses deep concern at the resurgence of the anti-homosexuality bill in the Ugandan political debate; strongly condemns Simon Lokodo’s rhetoric for fuelling homophobia and hate, and reiterates its fierce opposition to all forms of discrimination based on sexual orientation as well as any incitement to hatred and violence towards LGBTI people;

2.  Takes note of the statement made by President Museveni’s spokesperson denying any intention by the government to propose a new bill, and calls on the Ugandan government to stand by this statement;

3.  Stresses that discrimination against LGBTI people undermines the most basic of human rights principles as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; reiterates that sexual orientation and gender identity are matters that fall within the scope of an individual’s right to privacy, as guaranteed by international law and national constitutions;

4.  Rejects emphatically the use of the death penalty under any circumstances, including any legislation that would impose the death penalty for homosexuality; calls on the EU and its Member States to further engage the Government of Uganda to reconsider its position on the death penalty;

5.  Regrets that Ugandan law is still highly discriminatory against LGBTI people and urges the Ugandan authorities to review any law criminalising homosexuality and LGBTI activists, notably under sections 145 and 146 of the Penal Code;

6.  Reminds the Ugandan Government of its obligations under international law and under the Cotonou Agreement, which calls for universal human rights to be respected;

7.  Is deeply worried about the general deterioration of the human rights situation of LGBTI people in Uganda, including the increasing violations of their social rights, freedom of expression, gender equality rights and right to housing; condemns the recent killing of Brian Wasswa and deplores the alarming number of victims targeted on the basis of sexual orientation, including by national security forces; urges the Ugandan authorities to investigate thoroughly and impartially any violence or attacks against LGBTI people and to hold the perpetrators to account;

8.  Calls on the Ugandan Government to strengthen redress mechanisms within the police force for human rights violations, in order to ensure that police officers uphold their duty to protect the rights of all people, including members of the LGBTI community, and to guarantee that all human right defenders and NGOs working on behalf of the LGBTI community in Uganda are able to pursue their legitimate activities under any circumstances, including their right to freedom of association, without fear of reprisals and free from all restrictions;

9.  Recalls Uganda’s commitments under the Cotonou Agreement and international law to respect human rights and fundamental freedoms;

10.  Calls on the EU delegation in Uganda to continue to monitor the situation of LGBT people closely and to actively support civil society organisations and human rights defenders and LGBTI people on the ground; stresses the importance of raising awareness and understanding of the situation of LGBTI people and their families;

11.  Calls on the EU to effectively make full use of the political dialogue provided for under Article 8 of the Cotonou Agreement, as well as the LGBTI Toolkit and its accompanying guidelines, in their dialogue with the Ugandan authorities in order to help decriminalise homosexuality, reduce violence and discrimination and protect LGBTI human rights defenders;

12.  Reiterates its previous calls on the Commission and the Council to include the mention of non-discrimination based on sexual orientation in any future agreement that replaces the Cotonou Agreement;

13.  Calls on the EU to enhance the defence and promotion of human rights in Uganda, notably through targeted support to civil society organisations and full implementation of the EU Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders;

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

(1) OJ C 93, 24.3.2017, p. 21.
(2) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2019)0129.
(3) OJ C 378, 9.11.2017, p. 253


Egypt
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European Parliament resolution of 24 October 2019 on Egypt (2019/2880(RSP))
P9_TA-PROV(2019)0043RC-B9-0138/2019

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its previous resolutions on Egypt, in particular those of 17 July 2014 on freedom of expression and assembly in Egypt(1), of 15 January 2015 on the situation in Egypt(2), of 10 March 2016 on Egypt, notably the case of Giulio Regeni(3), of 8 February 2018 on executions in Egypt(4), and of 13 December 2018 on Egypt, notably the situation of human rights defenders(5),

–  having regard to the EU Foreign Affairs Council (FAC) conclusions on Egypt of August 2013 and February 2014,

–  having regard to the EU-Egypt Association Agreement of 2001, which entered into force in 2004 and was consolidated by the Action Plan of 2007; having regard to the EU-Egypt Partnership Priorities 2017-2020, formally adopted on 25 July 2017, to the joint statement issued following the 2017 EU-Egypt Association Council, and to the joint statement on the sixth meeting of the EU-Egypt Subcommittee on Political Matters, Human Rights and Democracy in June 2019,

–  having regard to the EU Item 4 Statement at the UN Human Rights Council of 19 September 2019 which mentions Egypt,

–  having regard to the new EU Strategic Framework and Action Plan on Human Rights, which aims to place the protection and surveillance of human rights at the heart of all EU policies,

–  having regard to the EU Guidelines on the Death Penalty, on Torture, on Freedom of Expression and on Human Rights Defenders,

–  having regard to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, all of which have been ratified by Egypt,

–  having regard to the statement of 27 September 2019 by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet on the protests in Egypt,

–  having regard to the Constitution of Egypt, notably its Articles 52 (on the prohibition of torture in all forms and types.), 73 (on freedom of assembly) and 93 (on the binding character of international human rights law),

–  having regard to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights of 1981, ratified by Egypt on 20 March 1984,

–  having regard to the Arab Charter on Human Rights, to which Egypt is a party,

–  having regard to UN Security Council resolution 2473 (2019) adopted in June 2019 which renewed measures designed to implement the arms embargo against Libya,

–  having regard to Rules 144(5) and 132(4) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.  whereas it is reported that in the past weeks the Egyptian authorities have arbitrarily arrested over 4 300 people (almost 3 000 of whom are still in pre-trial detention), including at least 114 women – and at least 111 minors according to Amnesty International and the Belady Foundation – in response to peaceful demonstrations that began on 20 September 2019; whereas excessive force was reportedly used by police and security services to disperse demonstrators;

B.  whereas the anti-government demonstrations were protesting against austerity measures, endemic government corruption and systematic repression, and were demanding the resignation of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi;

C.  whereas the recent actions by the Egyptian authorities undermine the fundamental freedoms of expression, association and assembly, which are all enshrined in the Egyptian Constitution, as well as international human rights law; whereas this forms part of a broader crackdown on civil society and fundamental rights in Egypt, notably the freedom of expression both online and offline, the freedom of association and assembly, political pluralism and the rule of law;

D.  whereas the Egyptian authorities have continued to crack down on peaceful democratic opposition parties in Egypt, in violation of the rights to participation in public affairs and to freedom of expression, including the arbitrary detention of dozens of citizens in the ‘Hope Case’ and the arrest of dozens of other members of peaceful political parties since September 2019;

E.  whereas human rights lawyers, journalists, activists and members of the opposition have been jailed on serious charges, including for terrorism-related offences; whereas peaceful dissenters, pro-democracy activists and human rights defenders are put in jeopardy by being labelled as terrorists; whereas these arrests are solely related to their peaceful and legitimate work in defence of human rights;

F.  whereas the enforced disappearance of human rights defenders is becoming a systematic practice of the Egyptian authorities, before most re-appear in the hands of the State Prosecution, this being the case of Alaa Abdel Fattah, Asmaa Daabes, Esraa Abdel Fattah, Eman Al-Helw, Mohamed Ibrahim, Abdelrahman Tarek, Ezzat Ghoneim, Haytham Mohamadeen and Ibrahim Metwally Hegazy; whereas others, including Ibrahim Ezz El-Din, have still not re-appeared;

G.  whereas excessive use is being made of pre-trial preventive detention and precautionary measures in order to prevent human rights defenders and their lawyers such as Mahienour El-Masry, Mohamed El-Baqer, Esraa Abdel Fattah and Mohamed Ramadan from carrying out their legitimate human rights work in Egypt;

H.  whereas the Egyptian authorities have hindered progress in investigating and revealing the truth around the kidnapping, torture and killing of the Italian research assistant Giulio Regeni; whereas the Italian Parliament has suspended its diplomatic relations with the Egyptian Parliament and has called on the Member State parliaments to follow suit in solidarity;

I.  whereas Reporters Without Borders has documented cases of at least 31 media workers currently being held in detention in Egypt for their work, on the basis of politically-based prosecution and multiple due process violations; whereas six of these journalists have been arrested in relation to the recent protests; whereas foreign media workers are also targeted, with several international media correspondents having been deported or denied entry into Egypt; whereas international organisations have documented the blocking of news media websites and the blocking or restriction of access to online messaging applications, in particular during the last weeks;

J.  whereas, while Egypt’s NGO Law of 2019 scraps jail sentences and does away with the security-heavy agency previously designated to approve and monitor foreign funding, it nonetheless threatens to restrict civil society significantly, places furthers problematic restrictions on the right to freedom of association and significantly constrains the activities of both domestic and foreign NGOs;

K.  whereas women human rights defenders in Egypt continue to face various forms of state-led harassment, notably in the form of defamatory campaigns and judicial prosecution; whereas activists defending the rights of LGBTQI people and women face continuous repression, including under the guise of the preservation of ‘public morals’;

L.  whereas grave violations of the right to life continue in Egypt through the judiciary, which has issued and implemented an unprecedentedly high number of death sentences against numerous individuals – even sentencing children – including in the aftermath of military and mass trials that lacked minimum guarantees of a fair trial; whereas criminal and military courts have issued over 3 000 death sentences since 2014 and 50 persons are at imminent risk of execution;

M.  whereas the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (UN OHCHR) has declared that several cases are pending in the courts concerning individuals convicted on the basis of evidence allegedly obtained under torture who are facing the death penalty; whereas these convictions appear to be in direct disregard of both Egyptian and international law and procedure;

N.  whereas accountability for serious human rights violations by the Egyptian security forces remains almost entirely non-existent, and there is no proper investigation of corruption allegations against the military;

O.  whereas at least 900 people were killed by the Egyptian security forces during the Rabaa Square protests in 2013; whereas, while numerous irregularities were condemned during the subsequent trial, and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights described it as a serious miscarriage of justice, none of those responsible for the massacre has yet been tried;

P.  whereas Egypt’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process before the UN Human Rights Council, which begins in November 2019, offers a unique opportunity for the international community to scrutinise Egypt’s human rights record and put forward recommendations for improvement;

Q.  whereas many human rights activists are subjected to repressive measures, some in reprisal for participating in Egypt’s 2014 UPR; whereas ten human rights defenders and seven NGOs named in Case 173/2011 (the ‘Foreign Funding Case’) have suffered crippling asset freezes; whereas travel bans remain on at least 31 defenders and staff of independent Egyptian human rights NGOs involved in Case 173/2011, although 43 staff of foreign civil society organisations convicted in 2013 in the same case have since been acquitted;

R.  whereas Egypt has experienced several difficult developments since the 2011 revolution and the international community is supporting the country in addressing its multiple challenges; whereas the security situation in Egypt is fragile, with a high risk of terrorist attacks in the Sinai peninsula and major cities across the country by various Islamist organisations, despite the government’s use of aggressive and at times abusive tactics to combat them; whereas terrorist attacks have taken the lives of a large number of innocent civilians, including Copts; whereas military operations have continued to escalate in North Sinai since late 2013, and the government has conducted mass demolitions and the forced eviction of tens of thousands of residents, while preventing independent reporting by imposing a near-absolute media blackout and restrictions on movements in and out of Sinai;

S.  whereas no official, strong and united public response has been forthcoming from the EU and its Member States to the September-October 2019 crackdown in Egypt; whereas the 2017-2020 EU-Egypt Partnership Priorities adopted in June 2017 are guided by a shared commitment to the universal values of democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights, and constitute a renewed framework for political engagement and enhanced cooperation, including on security, judicial reform and counter-terrorism, on the basis of due respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms; whereas European efforts to engage Egypt to address the severest aspects of human rights violations have not yielded appreciable results;

T.  whereas Egypt is an important partner for the European Union and its Member States in a wide range of areas, including trade, security and people-to-people contacts; whereas on 21 August 2013 the Foreign Affairs Council tasked the High Representative with reviewing EU assistance to Egypt; whereas the Council decided that the EU’s cooperation with Egypt would be readjusted in accordance with developments on the ground; whereas the EU and Egypt adopted Partnership Priorities in June 2017 that aim to enhance cooperation in a wide range of areas, including the fight against terrorism, with all due respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms;

U.  whereas the EU FAC conclusions of 21 August 2013 stated that ‘Member States also agreed to suspend export licenses to Egypt of any equipment which might be used for internal repression and to reassess export licenses of equipment covered by Common Position 2008/944/CFSP and review their security assistance with Egypt’; whereas companies based in several EU Member States have continued to export surveillance technology and other security equipment to Egypt, thus facilitating hacking and malware as well as other forms of attacks on human rights defenders and civil society activists both physically and online; whereas this activity has led to the repression of freedom of expression online;

1.  Strongly condemns the latest crackdown and the ongoing restrictions on fundamental rights in Egypt, notably freedom of expression both online and offline, freedom of association and assembly, political pluralism and the rule of law; condemns the excessive use of violence against protesters and reminds Egypt that any response by the security forces should be in line with international norms and standards and its own Constitution;

2.  Calls for an end to all acts of violence, incitement, hate speech, harassment, intimidation, enforced disappearances and censorship directed at human rights defenders, lawyers, protesters, journalists, bloggers, trade unionists, students, children, women’s rights activists, LGBTI people, civil society organisations, political opponents and minorities by state authorities, security forces and services and other groups in Egypt; calls for an independent and transparent investigation into all human rights violations and for those responsible to be held to account; underlines that respect for human rights is the only way to ensure Egypt’s long-term stability and security;

3.  Calls on the Egyptian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release all human rights defenders detained or sentenced merely for carrying out their legitimate and peaceful human rights work, including Eman Al-Helw, Mohamed Ibrahim, Mohamed Ramadan, Abdelrahman Tarek, Ezzat Ghoneim, Haytham Mohamadeen, Alaa Abdel Fattah, Ibrahim Metwally Hegazy, Mahienour El-Masry, Mohamed El-Baqer and Esraa Abdel Fattah, and to immediately ascertain the whereabouts of Ibrahim Ezz El-Din; further calls for the release of human rights defenders, academics and others in pre-trial detention under the ‘Coalition Hope’ case, including Zyad el-Elaimy, Hassan Barbary and Ramy Shaath, as well as members of the Bread and Freedom Party, the Al-Dostour party and the Egyptian Social Democratic Party recently detained without credible grounds for criminal charges; pending their release, calls on Egypt to disclose their location, to allow them full access to their families, lawyers of their choice and adequate medical care, and to conduct credible investigations into any allegations of ill-treatment or torture;

4.  Stresses the importance of guaranteeing the equality of all Egyptians, regardless of their faith or belief; calls on Egypt to review its blasphemy laws in order to ensure the protection of religious minorities; welcomes the statements calling for a renewal of Islamic discourse to challenge extremism and radicalisation; calls on the Egyptian authorities, including the military and security forces, to respect the rights of Christians, protect them against violence and discrimination and ensure that those responsible for such acts are prosecuted;

5.  Supports the aspirations of the majority of Egyptian people who want to establish a free, stable, prosperous, inclusive and democratic country which respects its national and international commitments on human rights and fundamental freedoms; reiterates that the right to peaceful expression of opinion and of criticism must be guaranteed;

6.  Urges the Egyptian authorities to stop blocking the websites of local and international news organisations and human rights organisations and to release all media workers detained for doing their journalistic work;

7.  Expresses grave concern at the reprisals against persons who cooperate or seek to cooperate with international human rights organisations or the United Nations human rights bodies; calls on the Egyptian authorities to close Case 173/2011 ( the ‘Foreign Funding Case’), to lift all travel bans imposed on at least 31 human rights defenders and staff of human rights NGOs under the case – as well as all other arbitrarily imposed travel bans – and to allow Egyptian human rights defenders based in Egypt to travel so that they can participate in person in Egypt’s Universal Periodic Review that begins on 13 November 2019;

8.  Calls for the repeal of the newly adopted NGO law and for its replacement by a new legislative framework, drafted in genuine consultation with civil society organisations, that conforms with the Egyptian Constitution and international standards;

9.  Regrets the lack of a credible investigation into, and accountability for, the kidnapping, torture and murder in 2016 of Italian research assistant Giulio Regeni; reiterates its call on the Egyptian authorities to shed light on the circumstances surrounding the deaths of Giulio Regeni and Eric Lang and to hold those responsible to account, in full cooperation with the authorities of the Member States concerned by these cases;

10.  Demands that the authorities amend, adopt and effectively implement legislation to eliminate all forms of discrimination and criminalise all forms of violence against women and girls, including by amending the Personal Status Law and by introducing legal provisions prohibiting gender-based violence, as well as sexual harassment, assaults and rape; further calls on the authorities to effectively carry out the National Strategy to Combat Violence Against Women in partnership with independent civil society organisations with recognised expertise in the field;

11.  Expresses concern that the use of the death penalty in Egypt has risen sharply since President Sisi came to power; urges the Egyptian authorities to decree a moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing the use of the death penalty in Egypt, and reiterates its call on Egypt to sign and ratify the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights aimed at the abolition of the death penalty;

12.  Sends its most sincere condolences to the families of victims of terrorism; stands in solidarity with the Egyptian people and reaffirms its commitment to fighting the spread of radical ideologies and terrorist groups; calls on the Egyptian authorities to ensure that their ongoing military operations in Sinai are conducted in line with international human rights standards, to thoroughly investigate all abuses and to immediately open North Sinai to independent relief organisations and to independent observers and journalists;

13.  Regrets the lack of an official response from the High Representative or the Member States to the latest wave of arrests; calls on the VP/HR and the Member States to respond in a unified and resolute manner to the current crackdown and human rights violations; expects the EEAS to prioritise the situation of human rights defenders in Egypt and to report back to Parliament on its engagement thereon with Cairo, including on the individual cases raised in this resolution; calls on the VP/HR and Member States to use all tools at their disposal, including bilateral and multilateral tools, trade negotiations, the European Neighbourhood Policy, aid and, where necessary, targeted restrictive measures, to halt the country’s crackdown and secure concrete progress in Egypt’s human rights record;

14.  Calls for a profound and comprehensive review of its relations with Egypt; considers that the human rights situation in Egypt requires a serious revision of the Commission’s budget support operations, which should be restricted to primarily supporting civil society;

15.  Strongly urges that the commitments made in the 2017-2020 EU-Egypt Partnership Priorities be respected and calls for their full and proper implementation; calls for the EU, with a view to negotiating new partnership priorities, to establish clear benchmarks that make further cooperation with Egypt conditional on progress in the reform of democratic institutions, the rule of law and human rights, and to mainstream human rights concerns in all talks with Egyptian authorities; reiterates that human rights should not be undermined by migration management or counter-terrorism actions;

16.  Reiterates its calls on the EU Member States to follow up on their 21 August 2013 conclusions announcing the suspension of export licences for any equipment which might be used for internal repression in line with Common Position 2008/944/CFSP, and condemns the persistent non-compliance of EU Member States with these commitments; calls on them therefore to halt exports to Egypt of surveillance technology and other security equipment that can facilitate attacks on human rights defenders and civil society activists, including on social media, as well as any other kind of internal repression; calls on the VP/HR to report on the current state of military and security cooperation by Member States with Egypt; calls for the EU to implement in full its export controls vis-à-vis Egypt with regard to goods that could be used for repression, torture or capital punishment;

17.  Stresses the importance of ensuring that any arrangement between the EU and Egypt on migration must strictly comply with international human rights standards, respect the fundamental rights of migrants and refugees, and ensure adequate levels of transparency and accountability;

18.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Vice-President / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the parliaments and governments of the Member States, the Egyptian government and parliament, and the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights.

(1) OJ C 224, 21.6.2016, p. 5.
(2) OJ C 300, 18.8.2016, p. 34.
(3) OJ C 50, 9.2.2018, p. 42.
(4) OJ C 463, 21.12.2018, p. 35.
(5) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2018)0526.


The proposed new Criminal Code of Indonesia
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European Parliament resolution of 24 October 2019 on the proposed new criminal code of Indonesia (2019/2881(RSP))
P9_TA-PROV(2019)0044RC-B9-0145/2019

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its previous resolutions on Indonesia,

–  having regard to the EU-Indonesia Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA), which entered into force on 1 May 2014,

–  having regard to the 7th Indonesia – EU Human Rights Dialogue of 1 February 2018,

–  having regard to the 8th round of negotiations on the EU Indonesia Free Trade Agreement which took place in June 2019,

–  having regard to the draft criminal code as presented on 15 September 2019,

–  having regard to the Yogyakarta Principles,

–  having regard to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 10 December 1948,

–  having regard to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of 1966 (ICCPR) which Indonesia ratified in 2006,

–  having regard to the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment of 1987,

–  having regard to the EU Guidelines on the Death Penalty,

–  having regard to Rule 144(5) and 132(4) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.  whereas Indonesia is the world’s fourth most populous nation, a stable democracy in the region, the largest Muslim majority country and a diverse society comprising 265 million citizens of different religions, ethnicities, languages and cultures;

B.  whereas the Government of Indonesia has proposed a draft criminal code to amend the current Criminal Code; whereas this draft criminal code was finalised on 15 September 2019;

C.  whereas the draft criminal code contains articles that will violate the rights of women, religious minorities and LGBTI persons as well as the freedom of speech and association;

D.  whereas in September, thousands of people, including students, gathered across Indonesia to protest against the draft criminal code and called for the suspension of its adoption;

E.  whereas on 20 September 2019 the President of Indonesia ordered the Indonesian Parliament to delay the adoption of the bill following large-scale protests; whereas the decision on adoption is now in the hands of the Indonesian House of Representatives;

F.  whereas Article 2 of the draft criminal code referring to ‘living laws’ is considered vague, since it does not list punishable crimes, which could be used to legitimise hundreds of existing and discriminatory sharia laws at local level;

G.  whereas the draft criminal code punishes extramarital sex with up to one year’s imprisonment; whereas this provision in effect criminalises all same-sex conduct; whereas this article will subject all people working in the sex industry to criminal prosecution;

H.  whereas the proposed criminal code states that unmarried persons living together could be sentenced to six months in prison;

I.  whereas same-sex relations are not officially recognised by the Indonesian authorities, and are therefore explicitly targeted; whereas Indonesia is experiencing unprecedented numbers of violent and discriminatory attacks, as well as numerous acts of harassment against LGBTI people, with vitriolic anti-LGBTI statements on the rise;

J.  whereas provisions in the draft criminal code expand on the current Blasphemy Law; whereas more than 150 individuals, most of them belonging to religious minorities, have been convicted under the current Blasphemy Law since its adoption in 1965; whereas the Blasphemy Law puts religious minorities at risk in a context of growing intolerance towards minorities in Indonesia;

K.  whereas the draft criminal code restricts the provision of information about contraception and the facilitation of contraception to anyone under 18; whereas restricted access to contraception has a particularly harsh impact on marginalised groups who already shoulder most of the burden of Indonesia’s HIV epidemic;

L.  whereas the proposed criminal code states that a woman who has undergone an abortion could be sentenced to up to four years in prison; whereas anyone who helps a pregnant woman have an abortion could be sentenced to up to five years in prison;

M.  whereas in September, Indonesia passed a controversial law that weakens the national Corruption Eradication Commission, also known as ‘KPK’, which has successfully prosecuted hundreds of politicians since its establishment in 2002; whereas provisions of the current Criminal Code, the Electronic Information and Transaction Law and anti-terrorist legislation have been used to arbitrarily restrict the work of human rights defenders;

N.  whereas human rights defenders have been targeted for their work denouncing human rights violations, especially in relation to the protests in West Papua; whereas since the start of the protests at least 40 people have been killed and at least 8 000 indigenous Papuan and other Indonesians have been displaced from their homes in West Papua; whereas journalists and independent UN bodies have repeatedly been denied access to the region;

O.  whereas on 2 May 2019, EU citizen Jakub Fabian Skrzypski from Poland was sentenced by the Wamena district court to five years in prison for his alleged involvement in the Papua separatist movement;

P.  whereas between 2015 and 2018 over 40 people were sentenced to death, and more than 300 inmates remain on death row in Indonesia; whereas the death penalty is a cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment, violating the right to life;

1.  Welcomes the fact that relations between the EU and Indonesia are based on shared values of democracy and good governance, respect for human rights, and the promotion of peace, stability and economic progress;

2.  Is deeply concerned about the provisions in the draft revised criminal code of Indonesia, which allows for discrimination on the basis of gender, religion and sexual orientation, as well as discrimination against minorities;

3.  Welcomes the order of President Widodo to delay its adoption; calls on the Indonesian Parliament to substantially revise the proposed criminal code to make it meet international human rights standards, and to remove all discriminatory provisions;

4.  Calls on the Indonesian authorities to repeal all legal provisions restricting fundamental rights and freedoms, and to bring all its laws into line with international human rights standards and Indonesia’s international obligations;

5.  Calls on the authorities of Indonesia to protect the rights of LGBTI people by prosecuting any persecution of LGTBI people and decriminalising homosexuality by amending its Criminal Code; calls on Indonesian officials to refrain from making inflammatory statements against LGTBI persons that will only further stigmatise them; encourages the Indonesian authorities to foster political dialogue with key stakeholders in civil society in order to promote and safeguard the universal application of human rights;

6.  Calls for the revision of provisions concerning the Blasphemy Law as it puts religious minorities and atheists at risk; supports the UN recommendations to repeal Articles 156 and 156(a) of the Criminal Code, the Prevention of Abuse and Defamation of Religion Act, the Electronic Transactions and Data Act, to modify the anti-terrorist legislation and to drop the charges against and the prosecution of those accused of blasphemy;

7.  Notes with concern the restriction on the free dissemination of vital sexual health information in the draft criminal code; encourages access to uncensored information on contraception and family planning for women and girls;

8.  Affirms that access to health, including sexual and reproductive health is a human right; stresses that proper and affordable sexual and reproductive healthcare should be guaranteed, including sexual education and information, family planning, contraceptive methods, as well as safe and legal abortions; notes that these services are important for saving women’s lives, reducing infant and child mortality, and preventing sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS;

9.  Reiterates its call on the authorities to re-establish a moratorium on all executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty; notes that this recommendation was accepted by Indonesia in the last cycle of the Universal Periodic Review in 2017; calls for the EU and the French Government to do their utmost to ensure that Olivier Jover will not be sentenced to death;

10.  Calls for continued and close monitoring of the human rights situation in Indonesia, particularly through regular reporting by the European Union Delegation to Indonesia and Brunei; calls on the European Union Delegation to Indonesia and Brunei, and the Member States to do all they can to provide emergency protection and support to people at risk;

11.  Regrets the adoption of the new anti-corruption legislation, under which the KPK will become a government agency rather than an independent body, and calls for a revision of this legislation;

12.  Expresses concern about violence in West Papua; calls on the Indonesian authorities to conduct an independent investigation into recent protests in West Papua; calls for restraint in the deployment of security forces in the region; urges the Indonesian Government to address the situation in West Papua through political dialogue; calls on the authorities to provide UN officials, NGOs and journalists with unimpeded access to West Papua;

13.  Expresses its concern at the case of Polish citizen Jakub Fabian Skrzypski, who has become a political prisoner in Indonesia; is worried that, in the light of the recent events in Papua, his continued imprisonment in Wamena would not only pose a risk to his human rights, but would also endanger his life; calls on the European External Action Service to raise Skrzypski’s case during the upcoming dialogues with Indonesia and demands that the Indonesian authorities allow for his transfer to Poland;

14.  Calls on Indonesia to extend a standing invitation to all Special Procedures of the UN Human Rights Council, which should include unfettered access to the whole country;

15.  Calls on the Indonesian Government to fulfil all its obligations and to respect, protect and uphold the rights and freedoms enshrined in the ICCPR;

16.  Highlights the importance of including binding and enforceable provisions on respect for human rights in the EU-Indonesia Free Trade Agreement that is currently being negotiated;

17.  Welcomes the continued annual EU-Indonesia Human Rights Dialogue and looks forward to the upcoming dialogue in November;

18.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, the Government and Parliament of Indonesia, the Secretary-General of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights and the UN Human Rights Council.


Financial assistance to Member States to cover serious financial burden inflicted on them following a withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the EU without an agreement ***I
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Amendments adopted by the European Parliament on 24 October 2019 on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Council Regulation (EC) No 2012/2002 in order to provide financial assistance to Member States to cover serious financial burden inflicted on them following a withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the Union without an agreement (COM(2019)0399 – C9-0111/2019 – 2019/0183(COD))(1)
P9_TA-PROV(2019)0045A9-0020/2019

(Ordinary legislative procedure: first reading)

Text proposed by the Commission   Amendment
Amendment 1
Proposal for a regulation
Recital 4
(4)  To mitigate the economic impact of the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the Union without an agreement and to show solidarity with the most affected Member States in such exceptional circumstances, Regulation (EC) No 2012/2002 should be amended to support related public expenditure.
(4)  To mitigate the economic and social impact of the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the Union without an agreement and to show solidarity with the most affected Member States in such exceptional circumstances, Regulation (EC) No 2012/2002 should be amended to support related public expenditure.
Amendment 2
Proposal for a regulation
Recital 5
(5)  As this is an exceptional use of the Fund, its assistance to mitigate serious financial burden, inflicted on the Member States as a direct consequence of the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the Union without an agreement, should be targeted and limited in time to safeguard the Fund’s original rationale and its capacity to respond to natural disasters.
(5)  As this is an exceptional use of the Fund, its assistance to mitigate serious financial burden, inflicted or to be inflicted on the Member States in preparation for, or as a consequence of, the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the Union without an agreement, should be targeted and limited in time to safeguard the Fund’s original rationale and its capacity to respond to natural disasters.
Amendment 3
Proposal for a regulation
Recital 8
(8)  To maintain the availability of the Fund for natural disasters, its original purpose, a budgetary ceiling for support related to the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the Union without an agreement should be established.
(8)  Considering that a reasonable budget needs to be provided in order to maintain the availability of the European Union Solidarity Fund for natural disasters, other additional means need to be made available to Member States and regions to help them limit the impact of a potential withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the Union without an agreement, for example by way of the EGF or other ad hoc financial instruments.
Amendment 4
Proposal for a regulation
Recital 9
(9)  Assistance from the Fund to mitigate serious financial burden inflicted on the Member States as a consequence of the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the Union without an agreement should be subject to the same rules for implementation, monitoring, reporting, control and audit as any other interventions of the Fund. In addition, given the broad scope of public expenditure potentially eligible for support, it is important to ensure that other provisions of EU law, in particular the State aid rules, are respected.
(9)  Assistance from the Fund to mitigate serious financial burden inflicted or which may be inflicted on the Member States in preparation for, or as a consequence of, the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the Union without an agreement should be subject to the same rules for implementation, monitoring, reporting, control and audit as any other interventions of the Fund. In addition, given the broad scope of public expenditure potentially eligible for support, it is important to ensure that other provisions of EU law, in particular the State aid rules, are respected.
Amendment 5
Proposal for a regulation
Article 1 – paragraph 1 – point 3
Regulation (EC) No 2012/2002
Article 3a – paragraph 2
(2)  The available appropriations for this goal shall be limited to half of the maximum available amount for the Fund intervention for the years 2019 and 2020.
(2)  The available appropriations for this goal shall be limited to 30 % of the maximum available amount for the Fund intervention for the years 2019 and 2020.
Amendment 6
Proposal for a regulation
Article 1 – paragraph 1 – point 3
Regulation (EC) No 2012/2002
Article 3a – paragraph 3
(3)  Such assistance shall cover a part of the additional public expenditure caused directly by the withdrawal without an agreement and incurred exclusively between the date of the withdrawal without an agreement and 31 December 2020 ("financial burden").
(3)  Such assistance shall cover a part of the additional public expenditure incurred exclusively between 1 January 2019 and 31 December 2020 in preparation for, or as a consequence of, a withdrawal without an agreement ("financial burden").
Amendment 7
Proposal for a regulation
Article 1 – paragraph 1 – point 3
Regulation (EC) No 2012/2002
Article 3a – paragraph 4
(4)  A Member State shall be eligible to apply for assistance under this Article, if the financial burden it has suffered is estimated to be either over EUR 1 500 000 000 in 2011 prices, or more than 0.3 % of its GNI.
(4)  A Member State shall be eligible to apply for assistance under this Article, if the financial burden it has suffered is estimated to be either over EUR 750 000 000 in 2011 prices, or more than 0,15 % of its GNI.
Amendment 8
Proposal for a regulation
Article 1 – paragraph 1 – point 3
Regulation (EC) No 2012/2002
Article 3 b - paragraph 1
(1)  Assistance provided under Article 3a shall cover only the financial burden borne by a Member State compared to the situation where an agreement between the Union and the United Kingdom would have been concluded. Such assistance may be used, for example, to provide support to businesses affected by the withdrawal without an agreement, including support to State aid measures for those businesses and related interventions; measures to preserve existing employment; and to ensure the functioning of border, customs, sanitary and phytosanitary controls, including additional personnel and infrastructure.
(1)  Assistance provided under Article 3a shall cover only the financial burden borne by a Member State compared to the situation where an agreement between the Union and the United Kingdom would have been concluded. Such assistance may be used, for example, to provide support to businesses and workers affected by the withdrawal without an agreement, including support to State aid measures for those businesses and related interventions; measures to preserve existing employment; and to ensure the functioning of border, customs, sanitary and phytosanitary controls, including additional personnel and infrastructure.
Amendment 9
Proposal for a regulation
Article 1 – paragraph 1 – point 3
Regulation (EC) No 2012/2002
Article 3 b – paragraph 6 a (new)
(6 a)   Expenditure eligible for financing under the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund shall not be financed under this Regulation.
Amendment 10
Proposal for a regulation
Article 1 – paragraph 1 – point 6
Regulation (EC) No 2012/2002
Article 4 a – paragraph 1
(1)  The responsible national authorities of a Member State may submit a single application to the Commission for a financial contribution from the Fund in accordance with Article 3a by 30 April 2020 at the latest. The application shall include, as a minimum, all relevant information on the financial burden inflicted on that Member State. It shall describe the public measures taken in response to the withdrawal without an agreement specifying their net cost until 31 December 2020 and the reasons why that net cost could not have been avoided through preparedness measures. It should also include the justification concerning direct effect of the withdrawal without an agreement.
(1)  The responsible national authorities of a Member State may submit a single application to the Commission for a financial contribution from the Fund in accordance with Article 3a by 30 June 2020 at the latest. The application shall include, as a minimum, all relevant information on the financial burden inflicted on that Member State. It shall describe the public measures taken in preparation for or in response to the withdrawal without an agreement specifying their net cost until 31 December 2020. It should also include the justification concerning direct effect of the withdrawal without an agreement.
Amendment 11
Proposal for a regulation
Article 1 – paragraph 1 – point 6
Regulation (EC) No 2012/2002
Article 4 a – paragraph 2
(2)  The Commission shall prepare guidance on how to access and implement the Fund effectively. The guidance shall provide detailed information on the preparation of the application, and the information to be submitted to the Commission, including on the evidence to be provided concerning the financial burden inflicted. The guidance shall be made public on the websites of the relevant Directorate Generals of the Commission and the Commission shall ensure its wider dissemination to the Member States.
(2)  The Commission shall prepare guidance by 31 December 2019 on how to access and implement the Fund effectively. The guidance shall provide detailed information on the preparation of the application, and the information to be submitted to the Commission, including on the evidence to be provided concerning the financial burden inflicted. The guidance shall be made public on the websites of the relevant Directorate Generals of the Commission and the Commission shall ensure its wider dissemination to the Member States.
Amendment 12
Proposal for a regulation
Article 1 – paragraph 1 – point 6
Regulation (EC) No 2012/2002
Article 4 a – paragraph 3
(3)  After 30 April 2020, the Commission shall assess on the basis of the information referred to in paragraphs 1 and 2, for all applications received, whether the conditions for mobilising the Fund are met in each case and shall determine the amounts of any possible financial contribution from the Fund within the limits of the financial resources available.
(3)  After 30 June 2020, the Commission shall assess on the basis of the information referred to in paragraphs 1 and 2, for all applications received, whether the conditions for mobilising the Fund are met in each case and shall determine the amounts of any possible financial contribution from the Fund within the limits of the financial resources available.
Amendment 13
Proposal for a regulation
Article 1 – paragraph 1 – point 6
Regulation (EC) No 2012/2002
Article 4a – paragraph 4
(4)  Assistance from the Fund shall be awarded to the Member States meeting the eligibility criteria, taking into account the thresholds specified in Article 3a(4), at a rate of up to 5% of the inflicted financial burden, and within the limits of the budget available. In the event that the budget available should prove insufficient, the aid rate shall be proportionately reduced.
(4)  Assistance from the Fund shall be awarded to the Member States meeting the eligibility criteria, taking into account the thresholds specified in Article 3a(4), at a rate of up to 10 % of the inflicted financial burden, and within the limits of the budget available. In the event that the budget available should prove insufficient, the aid rate shall be proportionately reduced.
Amendment 14
Proposal for a regulation
Article 1 – paragraph 1 – point 6
Regulation (EC) No 2012/2002
Article 4a - paragraph 6
(6)  The decision to mobilise the Fund shall be taken jointly by the European Parliament and the Council as soon as possible after the submission of the proposal by the Commission. The Commission, on the one hand, and the European Parliament and the Council, on the other hand, shall endeavour to minimise the time taken to mobilise the Fund.
(6)  The decision to mobilise the Fund shall be taken jointly by the European Parliament and the Council as soon as possible after the submission of the proposal by the Commission. The Commission, on the one hand, and the European Parliament and the Council, on the other hand, shall endeavour to minimise the time taken to mobilise the Fund and shall commit to proposing, in as short a time as possible, a purpose-made instrument to tackle such emergency.

(1) The matter was referred back for interinstitutional negotiations to the committee responsible, pursuant to Rule 59(4), fourth subparagraph (A9-0020/2019).


A use of chromium trioxide
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European Parliament resolution of 24 October 2019 on the draft Commission implementing decision partially granting an authorisation for a use of chromium trioxide under Regulation (EC) No 1907/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council (Cromomed S.A. and others) (D063690/01 – 2019/2844(RSP))
P9_TA-PROV(2019)0046B9-0151/2019

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the draft Commission implementing decision partially granting an authorisation for a use of chromium trioxide under Regulation (EC) No 1907/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council (Cromomed S.A. and others) (D063690/01),

–  having regard to Regulation (EC) No 1907/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 18 December 2006 concerning the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH), establishing a European Chemicals Agency, amending Directive 1999/45/EC and repealing Council Regulation (EEC) No 793/93 and Commission Regulation (EC) No 1488/94 as well as Council Directive 76/769/EEC and Commission Directives 91/155/EEC, 93/67/EEC, 93/105/EC and 2000/21/EC(1) (‘the REACH Regulation’), and in particular Article 64(8) thereof,

–  having regard to the opinions of the Committee for Risk Assessment (RAC) and the Committee for Socio-Economic Analysis (SEAC) of the European Chemicals Agency(2), pursuant to the third subparagraph of Article 64(5) of the REACH Regulation,

–  having regard to Articles 11 and 13 of Regulation (EU) No 182/2011 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 February 2011 laying down the rules and general principles concerning mechanisms for control by Member States of the Commission’s exercise of implementing powers(3),

–  having regard to the judgment of the General Court of 7 March 2019 in Case T-837/16(4),

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

–  having regard to Rule 112(2) and (3) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.  whereas chromium trioxide was added to the candidate list of substances of very high concern under the REACH Regulation in 2010(5) because of its classification as carcinogenic (category 1A) and mutagenic (category 1B);

B.  whereas chromium trioxide was included in Annex XIV to the REACH Regulation in 2013(6) on account of this classification, the high volumes that were in use, the high number of sites where it was used in the Union and the risk of significant exposure to workers(7);

C.  whereas Cromomed S.A. and four other companies (the ‘Applicants’) have jointly submitted an application for authorisation in accordance with Article 62 of the REACH Regulation for the use of chromium trioxide in functional chrome plating in a broad array of applications, including general engineering and steel production(8);

D.  whereas in December 2016 the Commission received the opinions of RAC and SEAC; whereas the draft Commission implementing decision was only submitted to the REACH Committee at the end of August 2019;

E.  whereas the primary objective of the REACH Regulation, in light of its recital 16, as interpreted by the Court of Justice of the European Union(9), is to ensure a high level of protection of human health and the environment;

F.  whereas according to Article 55 and in light of recital 12 of the REACH Regulation, a central aim of authorisation is the substitution of substances of very high concern with safer alternative substances or technologies;

G.  whereas RAC confirmed that it is not possible to determine a ‘derived no-effect level’ for the carcinogenic properties of chromium trioxide; whereas chromium trioxide qualifies therefore as a ‘non-threshold substance’, i.e. a substance for which it is not possible to estimate a ‘safe level of exposure’;

H.  whereas in the case of such ‘non-threshold substance’, the REACH Regulation considers that, by default, the risk cannot be considered ‘adequately controlled’ within the meaning of Article 60(2) of that Regulation, and in that case, an authorisation may only be granted if the conditions of Article 60(4) are fulfilled;

I.  whereas Article 60(4) of the REACH Regulation provides that an authorisation may only be granted if the applicant proves, inter alia, that, for each use applied for, there are no suitable alternative substances or technologies; whereas, according to Article 60(5) of that Regulation, when assessing whether suitable alternatives are available, the Commission is to take into account all relevant aspects, including the technical and economic feasibility of alternatives for the applicant;

J.  whereas the analysis of alternatives presented by the Applicants is based on the work carried out the by Chromium Trioxide Authorisation Consortium (CTAC)(10); whereas the uncertainties in the assessment by CTAC were a key reason for Parliament to object to the corresponding draft Commission implementing decision(11)

K.  whereas the Applicants’ analysis of alternatives is built on the premise that a technically feasible alternative can only be a ‘like-for-like’ substance(12), i.e. a single substance or technology able to replace the substance of very high concern in all the different sectors and different applications in which it is used(13);

L.  whereas such an approach, in an application for authorisation covering very different sectors and uses with very different performance requirements(14), makes it ‘impossible for a single alternative to comply with all of the requirements’, as explicitly recognised by SEAC(15);

M.  whereas following such an approach unduly discriminates against alternatives that are available either in certain sectors or for certain uses, and would give the Applicants an unlawful derogation to their obligation to prove that there is no alternative for each use applied for; whereas such an approach disregards the substitution objective enshrined in Article 55 of the REACH Regulation and does not encourage innovation;

N.  whereas SEAC stated that the analysis provided by the Applicants of whether technically suitable alternatives were available was not sufficiently thorough and lacked clear focus(16); whereas SEAC stated that the Applicants had failed to convincingly claim that no alternatives for chrome-coating applications would be available, and moreover was itself aware of existing alternatives that could be technically feasible for some of the uses applied for(17); whereas SEAC affirmed that it would have needed more information to conclude on the economic feasibility of alternatives(18);

O.  whereas this shows that the Applicants have not discharged the burden of proof, contrary to the requirements of the REACH Regulation, as confirmed by the General Court(19);

P.  whereas SEAC nevertheless went on to state, following its own assumptions, that ‘alternatives, if and when technically feasible, are unlikely to be economically feasible’(20) (own emphasis added); whereas first, it is not for SEAC to fill gaps in the application with its own assumptions, and second, the term ‘unlikely’ shows that there are still uncertainties;

Q.  whereas SEAC’s opinion that alternatives are not technically and economically feasible is not consistent with its own findings and cannot be drawn in light of the shortcomings of the application;

R.  whereas the General Court made clear that ‘it is for the Commission alone to verify whether the conditions provided for in [Article 60(4) of the REACH Regulation] are fulfilled’,(21) that it is not bound by the opinions of SEAC or RAC, and that it must not follow their opinions if the reasoning therein is not ‘full, consistent and relevant’(22);

S.  whereas the Commission, by endorsing SEAC’s inconsistent opinion in the draft Commission implementing decision(23), did not fulfil its duties as set out by the General Court;

T.  whereas the draft Commission implementing decision in its recital 8 explicitly refers to the fact that ‘SEAC could not exclude possible uncertainty with regard to the technical feasibility of alternatives for some specific utilisations falling under the scope of the intended use’;

U.  whereas the General Court found that where, despite the presentation of evidence by the various actors involved in the authorisation procedure, there were still uncertainties with regard to the condition of unavailability of alternatives, it must be concluded that the applicant had not met the burden of proof and therefore the authorisation could not be granted(24);

V.  whereas in light of the uncertainty referred to in recital 8, the draft Commission implementing decision is in breach of the judgment by the General Court;

W.  whereas the Commission attempts to justify its decision by affirming that the conditions – which it claims limit the scope of the uses authorised(25) – remedy the shortcomings of the application relating to the analysis of alternatives;

X.  whereas the adoption of conditions is legal and appropriate when they genuinely limit the scope of the authorisation by listing the specific uses that the Commission considered at the time of the authorisation as not having suitable alternatives;

Y.  whereas in this case, however, the Commission has left open the definition of the scope of the authorisation(26), which indicates that it did not adopt a final decision on which uses did not have suitable alternatives at the date of the decision; whereas, on the contrary, by adopting those conditions, the Commission has delegated to the Applicants its exclusive power to make, on a case-by-case basis, the final evaluation and decision on the scope of the authorisation;

Z.  whereas the General Court considered such an approach to be unlawful(27);

AA.  whereas, in addition, according to the General Court, if available information suggests that suitable alternatives are available in general, but these alternatives are not technically or economically feasible for the applicant, the applicant must provide a substitution plan if the authorisation is to be lawfully granted(28);

AB.  whereas, even though information on alternatives was available before the adoption of SEAC’s opinion(29), the Applicants, according to the opinion of SEAC, did not further investigate them, nor did they offer more detailed plans to follow up on advances in research and development (R&D)(30);

AC.  whereas, the Commission has proposed to grant the authorisation on the grounds that the alternatives available in general are not technically or economically feasible for the Applicants, despite the fact that they have provided neither enough information on the economic feasibility, as noted by SEAC, nor a substitution plan, in breach of point (f) of Article 62(4) of the REACH Regulation;

AD.  whereas, according to Article 60(7) of the REACH Regulation, an authorisation is only to be granted if the application is made in conformity with the requirements of Article 62 thereof;

AE.  whereas the draft Commission implementing decision is in breach of the judgment of the General Court and of Article 60(4) and (7) of the REACH Regulation;

1.  Considers that the draft Commission implementing decision exceeds the implementing powers provided for in Regulation (EC) No 1907/2006;

2.  Calls on the Commission to withdraw its draft implementing decision and to submit a new draft granting the authorisation only for the uses specifically defined for which no suitable alternatives are available;

3.  Calls on the Commission to take swift decisions with regard to this application and others relating to the same substance in full compliance with the REACH Regulation;

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

(1) OJ L 396, 30.12.2006, p. 1.
(2) Consolidated version of 9 December 2016 of the Opinion of the Committee for Risk Assessment (RAC) and Opinion of the Committee for Socio-economic Analysis (SEAC) on an Application for Authorisation for Chromium trioxide use: Functional Chrome Plating, ECHA/RAC/SEAC: Opinion N° AFA-O-0000006522-78-02/F. https://echa.europa.eu/documents/10162/50002b75-2f4c-5010-81de-bcc01a8174fc
(3) OJ L 55, 28.2.2011, p. 13.
(4) Judgment of the General Court of 7 March 2019, Sweden v Commission, T-837/16, ECLI:EU:T:2019:144 http://curia.europa.eu/juris/document/document_print.jsf?docid=211428&text=&dir=&doclang=EN&part=1&occ=first&mode=lst&pageIndex=0&cid=1573675
(5) https://echa.europa.eu/documents/10162/6b11ec66-9d90-400a-a61a-90de9a0fd8b1
(6) Commission Regulation (EU) No 348/2013 of 17 April 2013 amending Annex XIV to Regulation (EC) No 1907/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council on the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) (OJ L 108, 18.4.2013, p. 1).
(7) https://echa.europa.eu/documents/10162/13640/3rd_a_xiv_recommendation_20dec2011_en.pdf
(8) Information on the application available at: https://echa.europa.eu/applications-for-authorisation-previous-consultations/-/substance-rev/12473/term
(9) Judgment of the Court of 7 July 2009, S.P.C.M. SA and Others v Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, C-558/07, ECLI:EU:C:2009:430, paragraph 45.
(10) SEAC opinion, p. 30.
(11) European Parliament resolution of 27 March 2019 on the draft Commission implementing decision granting an authorisation for certain uses of chromium trioxide under Regulation (EC) No 1907/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council (Lanxess Deutschland GmbH and others) (Texts adopted, P8_TA-PROV(2019)0317).
(12) SEAC opinion, p. 32, table 13.
(13) See Analysis of Alternatives on Functional chrome plating provided by the Applicants available at: https://echa.europa.eu/documents/10162/ece8b65e-aec0-4da8-bf68-4962158a4952 p. 13-14: ‘Several alternatives are being tested to substitute chromium trioxide. The challenge is to find a substitute which meets the requirements for all different types of products, and for the different uses of each specific application that at the same time is technically and economically feasible. Many alternatives are now qualified for individual applications when some of the functional chrome plating requirements are sufficient but none has all the key properties of functional chrome plating with an aqueous solution of chromium trioxide […]’.
(14) Each sector (e.g. steel industry, general engineering industry) has different technical requirements: see SEAC opinion, p. 34, highlighting in yellow alternatives for which ‘the parameters/assessment criteria fulfil some requirements for some but not all applications/sectors’.
(15) SEAC opinion, p. 36: ‘Indeed, the applicants consider alternatives only to be promising when these satisfy cross-sectoral requirements of the aforementioned industry sectors (although the applicants’ turnovers in these sectors are very limited), making it impossible for a single alternative to comply with all of the requirements’ (own emphasis added).
(16) SEAC opinion, p. 35-36: ‘In SEAC’s view, the applicants have provided a generic assessment of the technical and economic feasibility of alternatives for different industry sectors … without analysing in sufficient detail the substitutability of chromium trioxide for the use applied for. …. SEAC agrees with the applicants’ conclusion that the alternatives assessed in the analysis of alternatives fail to provide some key functionalities. However, SEAC wishes to point out that the analysis of alternatives is not sufficiently thorough and lacks clear focus on the actual use of chromium trioxide by the applicants. The applicants presented some alternatives as promising and claimed that these be under investigation by the steel industry. However, the applicants neither presented further scrutiny of alternatives labelled as promising nor did they provide R&D plans in this regard. […] In this sense, SEAC expresses reservations about the adequateness of the analysis for the scope of this application.’ (own emphasis added).
(17) SEAC opinion, p. 50: ‘[T]he applicants fail to convincingly support the claim that no alternatives for chrome-coating applications (in the applicants’ business sectors) would be available or would become available over the normal review period. SEAC is aware of alternative coating technologies that could already be or become technically feasible for specific parts coated by two of the five applicants’.
(18) SEAC opinion, p. 37, see in particular the conclusion of section 7.2.: ‘Nonetheless, more information about the share of parts that could be coated with a technically feasible alternative would have had to be provided in order for SEAC to conclude on the economic feasibility of such an alternative’.
(19) Judgment in Case T-837/16, paragraph 79.
(20) SEAC opinion, response to Question 7.2, p. 36.
(21) Judgment in Case T-837/16, paragraph 64.
(22) Judgment in Case T-837/16, paragraphs 66 and 68.
(23) Draft Commission implementing decision, paragraph 8.
(24) Judgment in Case T-837/16, paragraph 79.
(25) Article 1 of the draft Commission implementing decision : ‘Authorised use’ covers ‘Use in functional chrome plating where any of the following key functionalities or properties is necessary for the intended use : wear resistance, hardness, layer thickness, corrosion resistance, coefficient of friction, and effect on surface morphology’. It specifies for the avoidance of doubt that ‘An authorisation for the use of chromium trioxide is not granted for functional chrome plating where none of the key functionalities listed in the first subparagraph is necessary’.
(26) i.e. leaving it to the Applicants to decide, and the enforcement authorities to assess, after the authorisation is adopted, whether any of the functionalities listed are ‘necessary’ for their use.
(27) Judgment in Case T-837/16, paragraph 83; see paragraph 97: ‘Indeed, the statement that use of the lead chromates at issue in the present case is limited solely to those cases in which the performance of the compositions of substances containing those chromates is really necessary amounts to a declaration that a downstream user, whenever he identifies an alternative, should refrain from using the lead chromates at issue in the present case. However, such a declaration is a strong indication that, at the time of the adoption of the contested decision, the Commission itself did not consider that the examination of the condition relating to the lack of availability of alternatives had been completed’; see also paragraphs 86 and 98.
(28) Judgment in Case T-837/16, paragraph 76; in accordance with point (f) of Article 62(4) and point (c) of Article 60(4) of the REACH Regulation.
(29) SEAC opinion, p. 37: ‘During the public consultation of other chromium trioxide applications SEAC has become aware of alternative coating technologies that could become feasible alternatives of some speciality parts’.
(30) SEAC opinion p. 37: ‘Whilst the applicants mention that some alternatives are promising, and currently under investigation by the steel industry, they do not further investigate them; nor do they offer more detailed plans to follow up on R&D developments in this field’.


Effects of the bankruptcy of Thomas Cook Group
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European Parliament resolution of 24 October 2019 on the negative impact of the bankruptcy of Thomas Cook on EU tourism (2019/2854(RSP))
P9_TA-PROV(2019)0047RC-B9-0118/2019

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to Article 6(d) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU),

–  having regard to Article 195 of the TFEU,

–  having regard to the statement by the Commission of 21 October 2019 on the effects of the bankruptcy of the Thomas Cook Group,

–  having regard to Regulation (EC) No 261/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 February 2004 establishing common rules on compensation and assistance to passengers in the event of denied boarding and of cancellation or long delay of flights, and repealing Regulation (EEC) No 295/91(1),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 19 October 2007 entitled ‘Agenda for a sustainable and competitive European tourism’ (COM(2007)0621),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 30 June 2010 entitled ‘Europe, the world’s No 1 tourist destination – a new political framework for tourism in Europe’ (COM(2010)0352),

–  having regard to Directive 2011/83/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 October 2011 on consumer rights, amending Council Directive 93/13/EEC and Directive 1999/44/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council and repealing Council Directive 85/577/EEC and Directive 97/7/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council(2),

–  having regard to Regulation (EC) No 1008/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 24 September 2008 on common rules for the operation of air services in the Community(3), in particular Article 8 on the validity of an operating licence and Article 9 on the suspension and revocation of an operating licence,

–  having regard to its resolution of 29 October 2015 on new challenges and concepts for the promotion of tourism in Europe(4),

–  having regard to its resolution of 29 March 2012 on the functioning and application of established rights of people travelling by air(5),

–  having regard to its resolution of 25 November 2009 on passenger compensation in the event of airline bankruptcy(6),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 18 March 2013 on passenger protection in the event of airline insolvency (COM(2013)0129), in which the Commission set out measures to improve the protection of travellers in the event of airline insolvency, including better enforcement of Regulation (EC) No 261/2004,

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 1309/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 December 2013 on the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (2014-2020) and repealing Regulation (EC) No 1927/2006 (‘EGF Regulation’)(7),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 20 February 2014 entitled ‘A European Strategy for more Growth and Jobs in Coastal and Maritime Tourism’ (COM(2014)0086),

–  having regard to its position adopted at first reading on 5 February 2014 on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Regulation (EC) No 261/2004 establishing common rules on compensation and assistance to passengers in the event of denied boarding and of cancellation or long delay of flights and Regulation (EC) No 2027/97 on air carrier liability in respect of the carriage of passengers and their baggage by air(8),

–  having regard to Directive (EU) 2015/2302 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 November 2015 on package travel and linked travel arrangements, amending Regulation (EC) No 2006/2004 and Directive 2011/83/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council and repealing Council Directive 90/314/EEC(9),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 1 March 2019 entitled ‘Aviation Strategy for Europe: Maintaining and promoting high social standards’ (COM(2019)0120),

–  having regard to its resolution of 14 November 2018 entitled ‘Multiannual Financial Framework 2021-2027 – Parliament’s position with a view to an agreement’(10),

–  having regard to the Council conclusions of 27 May 2019 on the competitiveness of the tourism sector as a driver for sustainable growth, jobs and social cohesion in the EU for the next decade,

–  having regard to Rule 132(2) and (4) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.  whereas the collapse of the British company Thomas Cook, the second-largest tour operator in the world and one of the longest established, is having a profoundly negative effect on the economy, the EU’s internal market, employment, consumer trust and the free movement of persons throughout the EU and beyond;

B.  whereas the liquidation of the Thomas Cook Group has put 22 000 jobs at risk worldwide, of which 9 000 are located in the UK, 2 500 in Spain, and more than 1 000 in Greece; whereas even if the fate of these jobs is still uncertain, it is likely to have a considerable multiple knock-on effect not only on the tourism industry and on the transport sector, but on the EU’s economy as a whole;

C.  whereas the bankruptcy of the Thomas Cook Group has been caused by multiple factors, one of them being the company’s failure to change its business model and to innovate in order to be able to compete in the digital economy; whereas the financial situation of the Thomas Cook Group was already well known by the British authorities;

D.  whereas the cessation of the operations of Thomas Cook, which ran hotels, resorts and airlines across 16 countries and served 19 million people a year, has required an enormous repatriation operation for more than 600 000 holidaymakers from different locations around the world to their places of origin;

E.  whereas this year alone, a number of airlines have declared insolvency, which has had serious repercussions on businesses, tourism and consumers; whereas in April 2019, the Thomas Cook Group was granted another 12-month operating licence by the UK Civil Aviation Authority;

F.  whereas several Member States have announced targeted measures to support their tourism sector in order to mitigate the negative effects of the collapse of the Thomas Cook Group; whereas no EU support mechanism has yet been activated;

G.  whereas tourism accounts for about 4 % of the EU’s GDP, employing an estimated 12,3 million workers and providing at least 5 % of all jobs (more than 27 million workers and almost 12 % of all jobs when considering its links to other sectors); whereas Europe is the number one destination in the world, with a market share of 50,8 % in 2018; whereas tourism generates, both directly and indirectly, 10,3 % of the total GDP of the EU-28 – a figure that is expected to rise to 11,2 % of GDP by 2027;

H.  whereas the tourism sector encompasses a great diversity of services and professions in which mobility plays a crucial part and, owing to the personal nature of activities in the sector, requires large numbers of employees; whereas tourism acts as a powerful stimulus to many other sectors of the economy; whereas the sector is dominated by small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), as well as self-employed individuals, whose activities generate employment and wealth in regions heavily dependent on tourism; whereas the tourism sector is particularly vulnerable to hazards of both natural and human origin which cannot be predicted;

I.  whereas, since the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon, the EU has competence to support or supplement the actions of Member States in the field of tourism; whereas, on the other hand, tourism does not have any specific line in the EU budget, as requested by Parliament in its resolution of 14 November 2018 on the multiannual financial framework 2021-2027, in which it calls for the introduction of a specific allocation for sustainable tourism;

J.  whereas there is strong demand from the tourism industry for increased coordination at EU level and a clear EU tourism policy with proper budgetary support;

K.  whereas tourism is a key sector for the economy and employment in the EU, and the priorities of the new Commission, in particular that of supporting ‘an economy that works for people’, should therefore reflect the sector’s importance and its needs;

L.  whereas the cessation of Thomas Cook’s operations has caused serious economic damage to the tourism sector, employment and local communities, and has resulted in the loss of air connectivity in some territories of the EU Member States; whereas this will require appropriate measures to be taken to improve the competitiveness of the sector and to ensure that Europe maintains its position as the world’s number one tourist destination, as a driver for the growth and sustainable development of its cities and regions;

M.  whereas passengers have the right to receive services as scheduled, especially since they have already paid the price of the ticket before the service is provided; whereas it is essential to provide passengers with comprehensible, accurate and timely information that is accessible to all; whereas for many consumers it was unclear what their entitlements to compensation were and which parts of their bookings were covered by their insurance;

N.  whereas, in its resolution of 15 January 2013 with recommendations to the Commission on information and consultation of workers, anticipation and restructuring(11), Parliament called on the Commission, after consulting social partners, to submit a proposal for a legal act on information and consultation of workers, anticipation and management of restructuring;

1.  Is deeply concerned by the 600 000 people stranded away from home, many of whom were left at their destination without any alternative return trip being offered, which proved to be an enormous legal uncertainty for the sector and entailed a considerable lack of protection for consumers; is equally concerned by the thousands of employees around Europe who have lost their jobs, by the thousands of local suppliers and subsidiaries, mostly SMEs, who have found themselves in serious financial difficulties caused by the collapse of Thomas Cook, and by its damaging impact on local economies and communities and on the image and reputation of Europe as the world’s top tourist destination;

2.  Points out that the Thomas Cook Group covered various activities such as accommodation, transport and leisure activities affecting different types of consumers and businesses and therefore that its collapse falls under different EU and national laws;

3.  Calls on the competent authorities in the affected Member States to ensure that wages already earned are paid in full to the Thomas Cook workers who have been made redundant;

4.  Congratulates the Member States for the urgency with which they executed contingency plans for the effective repatriation of the travellers concerned, and takes note of other measures to limit the effects of Thomas Cook’s bankruptcy for employees in the tourism sector; calls on the Commission to assess how existing EU legislation and the respective laws in the Member States have responded to this huge rescue operation and to examine how it could participate swiftly and effectively in a similar situation in the future;

5.  Calls on the competent authorities to carry out an analysis of the reasons for the bankruptcy of Thomas Cook, while taking into account the fact that the negative change in the company’s financial situation was already known by the British authorities, in order to determine whether preventive measures could have been taken to avoid its sudden collapse; believes that this should help to anticipate future crises and lay down policies to minimise risks in a sector that is so important for the EU;

6.  Underlines that better monitoring of the financial state of airlines by national supervisory authorities is necessary to prevent European passengers from becoming victims of such failures considering that since the beginning of 2017, 32 airlines have gone bankrupt; recalls that Regulation (EC) No 1008/2008 is currently subject to an impact assessment, which includes a section on the obligation of airlines to obtain an operating license; calls on the Commission to consider a revision of this regulation in order to empower authorities to better monitor and control the financial states of airlines and respond where it is critical;

7.  Calls on the Commission to identify, and to enable swift and effective access to, EU financial instruments that could compensate for the harm caused to the sector and help to improve its competitiveness, and to guarantee a high level of consumer protection; notes that the crisis borne out of the bankruptcy of Thomas Cook Group is not an isolated event and may well happen again in the future; calls, therefore, on the Commission to evaluate the feasibility of adopting specific actions and/or measures to prevent situations of this kind from happening again in order to further boost consumer protection and passenger rights;

8.  Calls on the Commission to include tourism in the priorities of its strategy and rename the transport portfolio ‘Transport and Tourism’;

9.  Points to the possibilities provided by the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) for workers made redundant as a result of major structural changes; calls on the Member States affected by the bankruptcy of Thomas Cook to make full use of the possibilities of the EGF, in particular with regard to collective applications from SMEs; calls on the Commission to process these applications as quickly as possible within the timeframe set out in the EGF Regulation and to provide the necessary support to Member States if requested;

10.  Stresses that the tourism services in tourism-based regions, and in particular hotels, had a scheduled provision of services with many reservations already in place for the next tourist season before the Thomas Cook Group collapsed, and therefore recognises the need for support from the Member States to deal with the negative impact that this has had on many businesses; encourages, moreover, the Member States and local and regional authorities to make use of the tools provided by the European Social Fund and other EU, national, regional and local instruments; calls on the Commission and the Member States to draw up, on a regular basis, specific calls for tender related to the tourism industry based on the priorities set out in the respective funds;

11.  Reiterates the importance of establishing an EU Strategy for Sustainable Tourism with coordinated and concrete measures, for example a crisis management mechanism and mechanisms for effective cooperation in the tourism sector; calls on the Commission to introduce a specific budget line for the tourism sector in its next draft budget, as requested by Parliament for the multiannual financial framework 2021-2027;

12.  Urges the Member States and the Commission to consider, as a last resort only, State aid measures that can mitigate the negative economic impact on businesses, cities, regions and destinations in addition to the serious consequences on employment;

13.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to ensure that workers affected by insolvency are guaranteed their earned wages and retirement benefits;

14.  Stresses the importance of securing a well-functioning internal market for transport services, maintaining a high level of consumer and employee protection and improving the competitiveness of businesses in the tourism sector;

15.  Believes that the European tourism sector must make much better use of the excellent opportunities afforded by digital technologies and the digital single market; calls on the Commission, in this regard, to provide the necessary support to help EU companies manage the transition to a digital economy and new business models both through the relevant funding and training and by encouraging a digital business mindset;

16.  Underlines the importance of sustained social dialogue at all levels, based on mutual trust and shared responsibilities, as one of the best instruments for finding consensual solutions and common approaches in predicting, preventing and managing restructuring processes; calls on the Member States to consult the social partners in the development of all relevant measures; asks the Commission to identify best practices on the basis of the measures applied by national, regional and local authorities, as well as those undertaken by SMEs in the sector, with a view to developing a common EU strategy for the tourism sector; reiterates its call for the Commission to submit, after consulting the relevant social partners, a proposal for a legal act on the right of workers to information and consultation and the anticipation and management of restructuring in line with the detailed recommendations set out in Parliament’s resolution of 15 January 2013 on information and consultation of workers, anticipation and management of restructuring(12);

17.  Calls on the Commission and the Council to assess and adopt all necessary measures to defend the EU’s interests and avoid similar situations in the future, and to draw lessons from this experience that can be applied in the negotiation of future air service agreements;

18.  Calls on the Commission to inform Parliament of any new relevant information about the bankruptcy of Thomas Cook; underlines, in this regard, the importance of knowing whether the relevant licensing authorities had assessed the financial situation of Thomas Cook, whether any financial problems were identified and whether any measures could have been taken to avoid leaving thousands of passengers stranded away from home;

19.  Calls on the Commission to consider further measures to maintain a high level of consumer and employee protection in the event of business failure; calls on the Council to adopt its position on the amendment of Regulation (EC) No 261/2004 on the enforcement of air passenger rights and air carrier liability limits as soon as possible and to endorse the position taken by Parliament in February 2014; regrets the fact that the Council has been unable to reach an agreement in the last five years;

20.  Reiterates the need, as regards the amendment of Regulation (EC) No 261/2004 on the enforcement of air passenger rights and air carrier liability, for mandatory mechanisms to maintain the current level of protection of passengers in the event of insolvency or bankruptcy, including through the creation of guarantee funds or insurance contracts by airlines guaranteeing assistance, reimbursement, compensation and re-routing; stresses that passengers who booked a standalone service such as a single flight should receive the same protection as passengers who booked a travel package, especially since consumers are increasingly booking seat-only flights; calls therefore for harmonisation of the highest standards in consumer rights in the transport, accommodation and tourism sector;

21.  Calls on the Commission to consider facilitating the exchange of best practices among Member States on how best to deal with the closure of companies, encouraging them to look into examples contained in legal provisions in order to try – as far as feasible – to organise the search for a buyer in order to keep enterprises going despite the decision by the original owners to cease operations;

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

(1) OJ L 46, 17.2.2004, p. 1.
(2) OJ L 304, 22.11.2011, p. 64.
(3) OJ L 293, 31.10.2008, p. 3.
(4) OJ C 355, 20.10.2017, p. 71.
(5) OJ C 257 E, 6.9.2013, p. 1.
(6) OJ C 285 E, 21.10.2010, p. 42.
(7) OJ L 347, 20.12.2013, p. 855.
(8) OJ C 93, 24.3.2017, p. 336.
(9) OJ L 326, 11.12.2015, p. 1.
(10) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2018)0449.
(11) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0005
(12) OJ C 440, 30.12.2015, p. 23.


State of play of the disclosure of income tax information by certain undertakings and branches - public country-by-country reporting
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European Parliament resolution of 24 October 2019 on the state of play on the proposal for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Directive 2013/34/EU as regards disclosure of income tax information by certain undertakings and branches (2016/0107(COD)), known as public country-by-country reporting (2019/2882(RSP))
P9_TA-PROV(2019)0048B9-0117/2019

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the proposal for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Directive 2013/34/EU as regards disclosure of income tax information by certain undertakings and branches (COM(2016)0198), as presented by the European Commission on 12 April 2016, known as public country-by-country reporting (public CBCR),

–  having regard to the amendments it adopted on 4 July 2017 on the proposal for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Directive 2013/34/EU as regards disclosure of income tax information by certain undertakings and branches(1),

–  having regard to its position of 27 March 2019 on the proposal for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Directive 2013/34/EU as regards disclosure of income tax information by certain undertakings and branches(2),

–  having regard to Article 294(2) and (3) as well as Article 50(1) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), pursuant to which the Commission submitted the proposal to Parliament (C8-0146/2016),

–  having regard to the opinion of the Committee on Legal Affairs on the proposed legal basis as issued in January 2017,

–  having regard to its question for oral answer to the Council of 6 February 2018(3),

–  having regard to the hearings of the Executive Vice-President-designates of the European Commission, Valdis Dombrovskis(4) and Margrethe Vestager(5),

–  having regard to Directive 2013/36/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 June 2013 on access to the activity of credit institutions and the prudential supervision of credit institutions and investment firms, amending Directive 2002/87/EC and repealing Directives 2006/48/EC and 2006/49/EC, known as the fourth Capital Requirements Directive (CRD IV)(6),

–  having regard to Rule 132(2) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.  whereas Article 50(1) TFEU is the legal basis for the proposal for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Directive 2013/34/EU as regards disclosure of income tax information by certain undertakings and branches , known as the public CBCR;

B.  whereas Parliament already adopted its mandate on 4 July 2017 for the rapporteurs to enter interinstitutional ‘trilogue’ negotiations on the basis of a joint report of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs and the Committee on Legal Affairs;

C.  whereas a technically mature compromise text has not reached the COREPER level yet, despite 18 Council Working Parties and Attachés meetings during the previous Council presidencies; whereas the Council, therefore, has not entered into trilogue negotiations so far;

D.  whereas Parliament finally adopted its position at first reading before the end of the previous legislative term on 27 March 2019;

E.  whereas Article 89 of the CRD IV Directive adopted by the European Parliament and the Council back in 2013 introduced the obligation on the Member States to require credit institutions and investment firms to disclose annually, specifying, by Member State and by third country in which they have an establishment, information such as the nature and geographical location of activities, turnover, number of employees, profit or loss before tax, tax on profit or loss as well as public subsidies received, on a consolidated basis for each financial year;

1.  Urgently calls on the Member States to break the deadlock within the Council and to conclude their first reading on the public CBCR proposal and to enter interinstitutional negotiations with Parliament in order to finalise the legislative process as soon as possible and to respect the principle of sincere cooperation as laid down in Article 4(3) of the Treaty on European Union (TEU);

2.  Urgently calls on the Finnish presidency to recommence and prioritise work on the public CBCR proposal on the basis of the Parliament’s first reading position so as to allow consideration of the proposal in COREPER;

3.  Welcomes the fact that the incoming Commission has reiterated its utmost support for a prompt adoption of the public CBCR proposal;

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

(1) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0284.
(2) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2019)0309.
(3) O-000015/2018 (B8-0013/2018).
(4) Verbatim report of the hearing available on https://www.europarl.europa.eu/resources/library/media/20191008RES63730/20191008RES63730.pdf.
(5) Verbatim report of the hearing available on https://www.europarl.europa.eu/resources/library/media/20191009RES63801/20191009RES63801.pdf.
(6) OJ L 176, 27.6.2013, p. 338.


The Turkish military operation in northeast Syria and its consequences
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European Parliament resolution of 24 October 2019 on the Turkish military operation in northeast Syria and its consequences (2019/2886(RSP))
P9_TA-PROV(2019)0049RC-B9-0123/2019

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the European Council conclusions on Turkey of 17 October 2019,

–  having regard to the conclusions of the Foreign Affairs Council on Syria of 14 October 2019,

–  having regard to the relevant statements by the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (VP/HR), and in particular her declaration of 9 October 2019 on recent developments in northeast Syria and her remarks upon arrival at and at the press conference following the Foreign Affairs Council meeting of 14 October 2019,

–  having regard to its previous resolutions on Syria and to its resolution of 14 March 2019 on a European human rights violations sanctions regime(1),

–  having regard to the joint statement by the Chairs of the Foreign Affairs Committees of Germany, France, the United Kingdom, the European Parliament and the House of Representatives of the United States of America of 18 October 2019,

–  having regard to the joint Turkish-US statement on northeast Syria of 17 October 2019,

–  having regard to the statements by the Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on Syria, Rupert Colville, of 11 and 15 October 2019,

–  having regard to the statement by the NATO Secretary General of 14 October 2019,

–  having regard to the communiqué of the Arab League of 12 October 2019 on Turkey’s military operation in northeast Syria,

–  having regard to the joint communication from the Commission and the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy of 14 March 2017 on elements for an EU strategy for Syria (JOIN(2017)0011) and to the Council conclusions of 3 April 2017 on an EU strategy for Syria,

–  having regard to the Charter of the United Nations and to all the UN conventions to which Turkey and Syria are States Parties,

–  having regard to the relevant UN Security Council (UNSC) resolutions, in particular 2254 (2015) of 18 December 2015, and the Geneva Communiqué of 2012,

–  having regard to UN General Assembly resolution 71/248 of 21 December 2016 establishing the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism to Assist in the Investigation and Prosecution of Persons Responsible for the Most Serious Crimes under International Law Committed in the Syrian Arab Republic since March 2011,

–  having regard to the Rome Statute and the founding documents of the International Court of Justice, and to the precedent set by the establishment of international tribunals such as the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and the Special Tribunal for Lebanon,

–  having regard to the memorandum on the creation of de-escalation areas in the Syrian Arab Republic, signed by Iran, Russia and Turkey on 6 May 2017,

–  having regard to the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and the additional protocols thereto,

–  having regard to the NATO Treaty of 1949,

–  having regard to the Chemical Weapons Convention of 1993,

–  having regard to the Council conclusions on the EU regional strategy for Syria and Iraq as well as the ISIL/Daesh threat adopted on 16 March 2015,

–  having regard to its resolution of 13 March 2019 on the 2018 Commission Report on Turkey(2), in which it recommended that the Commission and the Council, in accordance with the Negotiating Framework, formally suspend all accession negotiations with Turkey,

–  having regard to Rule 132(2) and (4) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.  whereas following the decision by US President Donald Trump to withdraw US troops from the northeast of Syria, on 9 October 2019 Turkey launched a military invasion (Operation Peace Spring), in breach of international law, into areas of Syria controlled by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF); whereas this has resulted in a grave number of civilian and military casualties on both sides of the border and, according to UN sources, the displacement of at least 300 000 citizens, including 70 000 children; whereas the UNSC has not yet taken any action on the crisis, despite the unity of the EU;

B.  whereas on 18 October 2019 the US and Turkey announced an immediate five-day ceasefire in the border region of Syria; whereas this agreement is temporary as Turkey has not agreed to withdraw its forces from north-eastern Syria; whereas the state of implementation of the ceasefire remains unclear; whereas a meeting between Presidents Erdoğan and Putin took place on 22 October 2019;

C.  whereas the Council condemned the Turkish operation and pledged to take initial steps regarding the arms sales to Turkey; whereas a number of EU Member States have already formally suspended arms sales to Turkey, in compliance with the provisions of Council Common Position 2008/944/CFSP of 8 December 2008 defining common rules governing control of exports of military technology and equipment(3);

D.  whereas the Council has put in place a series of restrictive measures in view of the situation in Syria targeting individuals responsible for the repression of the civilian population in Syria and individuals and entities associated with them; whereas the US has imposed sanctions on Turkish ministries and senior government officials in response to the country’s military offensive in northern Syria;

E.  whereas this unilateral Turkish military operation has no legal basis and is only aggravating the eight-year-long conflict in Syria; whereas the consequences of the operation are seriously harming the efforts made by the Global Coalition against Daesh, in which SDF forces currently still play a vital role by combating the ISIS fighters still active;

F.  whereas the official position of the EU is to remain committed to the unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Syrian state; whereas these objectives can only be guaranteed through a genuine political transition in line with UNSC resolution 2254 and the 2012 Geneva Communiqué, which was negotiated by the Syrian parties within the UN-led Geneva process; whereas an agreement was reached, under the auspices of the United Nations, by the government of the Syrian Arab Republic and the Syrian Negotiations Commission to establish a credible, balanced and inclusive Constitutional Committee that should facilitate a political solution to the Syrian war, which may now be prevented from meeting as a result of Turkey’s unilateral military action;

G.  whereas there are specific reports of killings, intimidation, ill-treatment, kidnapping, looting and seizure of civilians’ houses by Turkish-backed armed groups, with civilians accused of affiliation with specific Kurdish groups reportedly being forcibly removed from their homes or seized at checkpoints by members of these groups; whereas according to the UN there are reports of summary executions carried out by fighters belonging to the Ahrar al-Sharqiya armed group, which is allied with Turkey; whereas a well-known Kurdish female politician, Hevrin Khalaf, was reportedly tortured and executed by Ahrar al-Sharqiya fighters;

H.  whereas following the withdrawal of US troops, on 14 October 2019 Bashar al-Assad’s troops entered a number of cities in north-eastern Syria for the first time in seven years after the Kurdish forces agreed to a Russian-brokered deal to try to hold off a Turkish attack; whereas the exact details of the agreement between Damascus and the Kurds remain unclear; whereas according to as yet unverified reports, Russian troops are patrolling the front lines between the Turkish and Syrian army positions to keep them apart;

I.  whereas Turkish-backed forces allegedly used munitions loaded with white phosphorus; whereas photos and videos from the hospitals in Tal Tamr and al-Hasakah show children with severe chemical burns; whereas Turkey denied these accusations; whereas the SDF called on international organisations to send experts to investigate the issue; whereas UN chemical weapons inspectors have announced that they have started collecting information following these accusations;

J.  whereas the violations committed during the Syrian conflict, by the Assad regime and its allies, ISIS/Daesh and other terrorist groups, included attacks using chemical weapons, attacks on civilians, extrajudicial killings, torture and ill-treatment, enforced disappearances, mass and arbitrary arrests, collective punishment, attacks against medical personnel and the denial of food, water and medical aid; whereas these crimes amount to war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide and have so far gone unpunished;

K.  whereas hundreds of alleged Daesh members, some of them EU citizens, together with their families, are reported to have escaped from SDF custody amid the Turkish offensive; whereas they must be prevented from returning to battle and spreading terror, as a key priority for the security of the region and the EU; whereas the SDF claims to hold around 10 000 Islamic State fighters; whereas the vast majority of the thousands of European children born of Islamic State fighters are currently located in three different camps in northeast Syria, Al Hol Camp, Roj Camp and Ein Issa Camp, which are severely affected by the Turkish offensive;

L.  whereas the establishment of safe zones in Syria raises serious concerns about the safety of people displaced by the conflict and those that could be relocated from Turkey; whereas the forced displacement of people, including with the aim of demographic change, constitutes a clear breach of international humanitarian law, amounts to a crime against humanity, and may lead to demographic and ethnic changes; whereas safe zones in the context of military conflicts often become ‘war zones’ for civilians;

M.  whereas in various provinces there are credible reports of the Turkish authorities arbitrarily detaining and forcibly returning scores of Syrians into northern Syria since July 2019, in violation of Turkey’s international obligation not to return anyone to a place where they would face a real risk of persecution, torture or other ill-treatment, or a threat to their life;

N.  whereas since the start of the military intervention the Turkish authorities have mounted a severe crackdown on anyone criticising the military operation by using Turkish anti-terrorism laws; whereas the Turkish authorities have launched investigations into more than 500 social media accounts, accusing them of spreading ‘terrorist propaganda’; whereas according to Turkey’s Minister of the Interior, 121 people have already been detained for their posts on social media questioning the operation; whereas more than 150 members of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) have been arrested since the start of the operation;

O.  whereas most international aid organisations have been forced to suspend operations and evacuate international staff over security fears; whereas creating obstacles to the safe, unimpeded and sustained delivery of humanitarian assistance, evacuations and medical care also constitutes a breach of international humanitarian law and of several UNSC resolutions; whereas the UN and its partners are continuing to deliver humanitarian supplies to tens of thousands of people displaced by the violence;

P.  whereas it is the responsibility of the international community and individual states to hold to account those responsible for violations of international human rights and humanitarian law committed during the Syrian conflict, including through the application of the principle of universal jurisdiction and national law; whereas this can be done either before existing national and international courts and tribunals or before ad hoc international criminal tribunals yet to be established;

Q.  whereas the customs union between Turkey and the EU came into force in 1995 and has remained unchanged ever since; whereas as a result, the value of bilateral trade has seen a bigger than fourfold increase; whereas in 2018, Turkey remained the EU’s fifth largest trading partner overall, while the EU is Turkey’s most important trade partner by far and its main source of foreign direct investment (FDI); whereas in 2018 the initiative to modernise the customs union was suspended by the EU on account of the worrying political developments in Turkey;

R.  whereas Turkey remains a key partner of the EU, a member of NATO and an important actor in the Syrian crisis and the region; whereas Article 1 of the NATO Treaty provides that the parties thereto undertake to settle any international disputes in which they may be involved by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security and justice are not endangered, and to refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force in any manner inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations;

1.  Strongly condemns the unilateral Turkish military intervention in northeast Syria, which constitutes a grave violation of international law, is undermining the stability and security of the region as a whole, bringing further suffering to people already affected by war, causing the mass displacement of civilians, and could contribute to the re-emergence of Daesh, which remains a security threat to Syria, Turkey, the broader region, the EU and globally, and is obstructing access to humanitarian assistance;

2.  Urges Turkey to put an immediate and definitive end to its military operation in northeast Syria and withdraw all of its forces from Syrian territory; stresses that the military operation will not address the country’s underlying security concerns; demands full respect for humanitarian law, including the protection of civilians, and for local and international humanitarian organisations to be permitted unhindered access;

3.  Expresses its solidarity with Kurdish people and all other inhabitants of the region; underlines the important contribution made by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), and women in particular, as an ally in the fight against Daesh and in reaffirming the importance of freedom and civil rights in the development of the social, political and cultural life of the Kurdish-majority region of Syria;

4.  Calls on the VP/HR to take the EU’s position to the Turkish authorities and to lay the foundation for a strong and comprehensive EU response to this crisis; urges her to initiate a dialogue with the Turkish authorities aimed at providing for the rapid de‑escalation of the situation and finding a sustainable solution to the crisis; underlines that the EU should consider all available options in working with its international partners, within the framework of the UN;

5.  Takes note of the US-Turkish agreement of 17 October 2019 on a temporary ceasefire; expresses its concern, however, that its provisions legitimise the Turkish occupation of the ‘safe zone’ in northeast Syria; expresses deep concerns, furthermore, that the deal requires not only the displacement of local population groups such as Kurds, Yazidis and Assyrians, and Turkmen, Armenian, Arab and other minorities, but also their relocation to the Arab-majority areas, which would create new tensions and threats to the safety of the civilian populations;

6.  Insists that there should be a global political settlement to the Syrian conflict based on the recognition of the unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Syrian state, with full respect for the rights of all ethnic and religious components of Syrian society, within the framework of UNSC resolution 2254 and the 2012 Geneva Communiqué, which was negotiated by the Syrian parties within the UN-led Geneva process and lays the groundwork for a genuine political transition;

7.  Welcomes, in this regard, the launch of the Constitutional Committee and the efforts of Geir O. Pedersen, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Syria, which should provide a credible, balanced and inclusive basis for political process among Syrians that is free from external interference; calls for all the relevant actors from northeast Syria to be fully involved in this process; recalls that there can be no sustainable military solution to the conflict and calls on all parties thereto to comply in full with UNSC resolutions requiring the immediate cessation of hostilities, the lifting of all sieges, full and unhindered country-wide humanitarian access, and the protection of humanitarian aid workers by all parties; calls on the Member States to ask the UNSC once again to adopt a resolution which will allow the Council to act in a targeted manner, ultimately aiming at a UN-led security zone in northern Syria for the benefit of the people living there;

8.  Reiterates the gravity of the consequences that further escalation and destabilisation in the region present, both for the region itself and for the EU, with increasing security risks, humanitarian crises and migration flows; calls on the Commission to prepare the EU in all its aspects to best react to any situation that might arise and to inform the European Parliament of any consequences of further escalation and destabilisation in the region;

9.  Regrets the fact that the Foreign Affairs Council of 14 October 2019 was unable to agree on an EU-wide arms embargo on Turkey; welcomes, nonetheless, the decision by various EU Member States to halt arms exports licencing to Turkey, but urges them to ensure that the suspension also applies to transfers that have already been licensed and to undelivered transfers; reiterates, in particular, the need for the strict application by all Member States of the rules laid down in Council Common Position 2008/944/CFSP on arms exports, including the firm application of criterion four on regional stability; strongly calls on the VP/HR, for as long as the Turkish military operation and presence in Syria continues, to launch an initiative aimed at imposing a comprehensive EU-wide arms embargo on Turkey, including dual-use technology goods, in view of the serious allegations of breaches of international humanitarian law;

10.  Calls on the Council to introduce a series of targeted sanctions and visa bans to be imposed on Turkish officials responsible for human rights abuses during the current military intervention alongside a similar proposal for the Turkish officials responsible for the internal crackdown on fundamental rights; urges all Member States to ensure full compliance with Council Decision 2013/255/CFSP(4) on restrictive measures against Syria, and in particular the freezing of assets of individuals listed therein and restrictions on the admission of persons benefiting from or supporting the regime in Syria;

11.  Firmly rejects Turkey’s plans to establish a so-called safe zone along the border in northeast Syria; stresses that any forcible transfer of Syrian refugees or internally displaced persons (IDPs) to this area would constitute a grave violation of conventional international refugee law, international humanitarian law and the principle of non-refoulement; recalls that any return of refugees must be safe, voluntary and dignified and that the current circumstances are such as to categorically prevent such movements; insists that no EU stabilisation or development assistance be delivered to such areas; stresses that ethnic and religious groups in Syria have the right to continue to live in or return to their historical and traditional homelands in dignity and safety;

12.  Calls on the Council to consider adopting appropriate and targeted economic measures against Turkey, which must not affect civil society or people who have already been badly hit by the country’s economic crisis, the situation of Syrian refugees, or Turkish students’ continued participation in European exchange programmes such as Erasmus+; calls on the Council to consider, for the purposes of a deterrent to prevent a further escalation in north-eastern Syria, the suspension of the trade preferences under the agreement on agricultural products and, as a last resort, the suspension of the EU-Turkey customs union;

13.  Points out that Parliament has been proactive in reducing Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance (IPA) II funding over recent years over concerns about lack of respect for human rights; concludes that the recent steps taken by the Turkish authorities are in breach of European values; calls on the Commission to ensure that no EU funds are used to finance the ongoing military operation or to facilitate any forced returns of Syrian refugees to the so-called ‘safe zone’;

14.  Is extremely concerned about allegations of the use of white phosphorus by the Turkish forces and/or their proxies against civilians, which is prohibited by international law; fully supports the work of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which began the investigation into the possible use of white phosphorus; calls for those responsible to be held to account;

15.  Calls on Turkey to ensure accountability for atrocities committed by its proxy militias, including the murder of Hevrin Khalaf and other summary killings; urges the EU and its Member States to support the process of documenting all violations in northeast Syria and to insist that they be investigated in a thorough and impartial manner, and that the perpetrators be prosecuted;

16.  Is extremely concerned about reports that hundreds of ISIS prisoners, including many foreign fighters, are escaping from camps in northern Syria amid the Turkish offensive, which increases the risk of a resurgence of ISIS; calls on the EU Member States to prepare contingency plans on the security threats posed by the possible return of ISIS foreign fighters, and to pursue prosecution in line with international standards for the atrocities committed by such individuals; calls on national intelligence agencies and security services to increase vigilance as regards the possible return of foreign fighters and their families;

17.  Is concerned about the dramatic situation and fate of European children born of Islamic State fighters in northern Syria; calls on the Member States to give special attention to the situation and needs of these children so as to ensure that their basic rights are respected; calls on Member States to take the best interests of the child as the primary consideration in all decisions concerning children;

18.  Reaffirms its support for the efforts of the Global Coalition against Daesh, of which Turkey is a partner; underlines that the coalition and Syrian partner forces have made significant progress in the campaign to defeat Daesh in Syria, but expresses its concern that Turkey’s unilateral military action undermines this progress;

19.  Welcomes the EU’s commitment to ongoing humanitarian aid to Syria’s neighbours, notably Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt, which continue to host millions of refugees; deems it unacceptable that the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is weaponising refugees and using them to blackmail the EU; calls on the Member States to show much stronger commitment to responsibility-sharing, so as to enable refugees fleeing the Syrian war zones to find protection beyond the immediate neighbouring region through resettlement; underlines the need to fully respect the principle of non-refoulement; calls for the EU and the Member States to provide extra funding to the Kurdistan Regional Government of Iraq to enable it to cope with the influx of refugees from Syria;

20.  Recognises the fact that Turkey has legitimate security concerns, but insists that they be addressed by political and diplomatic means, and not military action, in accordance with international law, including humanitarian law;

21.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the Council, the Commission, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, the United Nations, Turkey, the members of the International Syria Support Group and all the parties involved in the conflict, ensuring translation of this text into Arabic and Turkish.

(1) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2019)0215.
(2) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2019)0200.
(3) OJ L 335, 13.12.2008, p. 99.
(4) Council Decision 2013/255/CFSP of 31 May 2013 concerning restrictive measures against Syria (OJ L 147, 1.6.2013, p. 14).


Opening accession negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania
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European Parliament resolution of 24 October 2019 on opening accession negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania (2019/2883(RSP))
P9_TA-PROV(2019)0050RC-B9-0156/2019

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the European Council conclusions of 28 June 2018, which endorsed the conclusions on enlargement and the stabilisation and association process adopted by the Council on 26 June 2018, laying a clear path towards the opening of accession negotiations in June 2019,

–  having regard to the Council conclusions of 18 June 2019, in which it decided to revert, no later than October 2019, to the issue of the Commission’s recommendations to open accession negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania,

–  having regard to the European Council conclusions of 17 and 18 October 2019, in which it decided to revert to the issue of enlargement before the EU-Western Balkans summit in Zagreb in May 2020,

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 29 May 2019 on EU enlargement policy (COM(2019)0260), accompanied by the Commission staff working documents entitled ‘Albania 2019 Report’ (SWD(2019)0215) and ‘North Macedonia 2019 Report’ (SWD(2019)0218),

–  having regard to its previous resolutions on Albania and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, in particular those of 15 February 2017(1) and 29 November 2018(2) on the 2016 and 2018 Commission Reports on Albania, and those of 14 June 2017(3) and 29 November 2018(4) on the 2016 and 2018 Commission Reports on the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia/North Macedonia,

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

–  having regard to Albania’s accession to NATO in 2009 and the fact that North Macedonia is currently on its way to becoming the 30th member of NATO,

–  having regard to the Sofia declaration of the EU-Western Balkans summit of 17 May 2018 and the Sofia Priority Agenda annexed thereto,

–  having regard to the joint letter of 3 October 2019 by Presidents Tusk, Sassoli and Juncker, and President-elect Von der Leyen on the opening of accession talks with North Macedonia and Albania,

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 16 October 2013 entitled ‘Enlargement Strategy and Main Challenges 2013-2014’ (COM(2013)0700),

–  having regard to the Presidency conclusions of the Thessaloniki European Council of 19 and 20 June 2003 concerning the prospect of the Western Balkan countries joining the European Union,

–  having regard to the Berlin Process, launched on 28 August 2014,

–  having regard to the Final Agreement for the settlement of the differences as described in the UN Security Council resolutions 817 (1993) and 845 (1993), the termination of the Interim Accord of 1995 and the establishment of a Strategic Partnership on 17 June 2018 between Greece and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, also known as the Prespa Agreement,

–  having regard to the European Council’s decision of 16 December 2005 to grant North Macedonia the status of candidate for EU membership and the European Council decision of 26-27 June 2014 to grant Albania candidate country status,

–  having regard to the Stabilisation and Association Agreements (SAAs) between the European Communities and their Member States and the two countries in question, Albania and North Macedonia,

–  having regard to the political agreement (the so-called ‘Pržino Agreement’) reached between the four main political parties in Skopje on 2 June and 15 July 2015, and the four-party agreement on its implementation of 20 July and 31 August 2016,

–  having regard to Rule 132(2) and (4) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.  whereas in 2003, the Thessaloniki European Council underlined its support for the future integration of the Western Balkan countries into European structures and stated that their ultimate membership of the Union is a high priority for the EU and that the Balkans will be an integral part of a unified Europe;

B.  whereas at the EU-Western Balkans Summit of 17 May 2017, the EU reaffirmed its unequivocal support for the prospect of EU membership for the Western Balkans;

C.  whereas the prospect of EU membership has been a fundamental incentive for reforms in the Western Balkan countries; whereas the enlargement process has played a decisive role in the stabilisation of the Western Balkans, which is considered a region of strategic importance to the EU;

D.  whereas political consensus and wide public support for the EU accession process exists in both North Macedonia and Albania;

E.  whereas regional cooperation and good neighbourly relations are essential for the countries’ progress on their path towards EU accession;

F.  whereas each candidate country is judged individually on its own merits, and it is the speed and quality of reforms that should determine the timetable for accession and the pace of negotiations;

G.  whereas Albania applied for EU membership in 2009 and was granted candidate country status in 2014; whereas in 2016 the Commission recommended that accession negotiations be opened with Albania; whereas North Macedonia applied for membership in 2004 and became a candidate country in 2005; whereas the Commission has, since 2009, repeatedly recommended that formal accession negotiations be opened with North Macedonia;

H.  whereas this represents the third time the European Council has shown its inability to reach a positive decision on enlargement after the June 2018 and 2019 European Councils; whereas the European Council concluded that it would revert to the issue of enlargement before the EU-Western Balkans summit in Zagreb in May 2020;

I.  whereas North Macedonia, under its former name in August 2017, signed the so-called ‘Friendship Treaty’ with Bulgaria, which put an end to bilateral controversies and brought the two countries closer through an EU-oriented partnership, followed by the Prespa Agreement with Greece;

J.  whereas good progress has been made in judicial reform in Albania aimed at increasing the independence, accountability, professionalism and efficiency of the country’s judicial institutions and aimed at improving people’s trust in judicial bodies; whereas the reforms are to be considered the most comprehensive efforts in this area also compared to what all other countries in the region will have to accomplish on their path towards EU membership;

K.  whereas snap elections were announced in North Macedonia in response to the postponement of the decision on opening negotiations with the country;

1.  Expresses its deep disappointment at the EU’s failure to agree on opening accession talks with North Macedonia and Albania due to the blocking of France, Denmark and the Netherlands, since both countries have made considerable efforts and meet the EU’s requirements for opening accession negotiations;

2.  Commends North Macedonia for its historic and satisfactory settlement of difficult, open bilateral issues and the promotion of good neighbourly relations, notably through the Prespa Agreement with Greece, and the Treaty on Friendship, Good Neighbourliness and Cooperation with Bulgaria; calls on the Council to take into consideration the positive messages of these agreements and the counter-effects of its decision on political stability, regional cooperation and peaceful co-existence, and furthermore compliments the Republic of North Macedonia for its contribution to peace in the Balkans and for setting a shining example of how to find peaceful solutions to longstanding disputes; calls for the continuation of the Jean Monnet Dialogues with the Assembly of North Macedonia as a key instrument of support;

3.  Welcomes the fact that Albania has demonstrated its determination to advance on the EU reform agenda and has delivered tangible and sustained results, and also welcomes the judiciary reforms carried out by Albania; fully endorses the Commission’s recommendation on Albania in recognition of these encouraging reform efforts; considers that a swift opening of the screening process and accession talks would sustain and increase the momentum of reform; considers that the opening of negotiations would constitute a powerful catalyst for implementing reforms and consolidating democratic institutions and would contribute to enhancing EU scrutiny, accountability and full respect for the rights of minorities in both Albania and North Macedonia;

4.  Stresses that such a non-decision is a strategic mistake and has a detrimental effect on the EU’s credibility given that the integration of eligible countries helps the EU to uphold its international role and protect its interests, while progressing on the path towards EU accession also has a transformative effect on the candidate countries themselves; furthermore states that the EU’s enlargement policy has been the most effective foreign policy instrument of the Union and that its further dismantlement might lead to an increasingly unstable situation in the EU’s immediate neighbourhood;

5.  Notes that a possible reform of the enlargement process should not hinder those countries which have already met the requirements for opening accession negotiations and furthermore notes that candidate countries need to be assessed on the basis of their own merit based on objective criteria, not considerations of domestic political agendas in individual Member States, and that it is the speed and quality of reforms that determine the timetable for accession;

6.  Recalls the renewed consensus on Enlargement approved by the European Council in December 2006 and subsequently endorsed in the European Council conclusions of June 2016;

7.  Highlights that the EU’s failure to open accession negotiations has resulted in snap elections being called in North Macedonia, resulting in a loss of credibility for those who have made compromises; considers that this sends a negative message for possible candidate countries regarding good neighbourly relations; notes with concern that this could allow other foreign actors, whose activity might not be in line with EU values and interests, to engage more closely with both North Macedonia and Albania;

8.  Commends the conclusions of the Leaders Meeting of North Macedonia on 20 October 2019, which reaffirm the country’s commitment to the European accession process and stress that there is no alternative for North Macedonia;

9.  Stresses that this decision sends a warning signal to other candidate countries and potential candidate countries in the Western Balkans and creates openings for other influences, and that it could slow down or even completely halt the implementation of pro-European reforms in other accession countries;

10.  Recalls that the youth in the region have high expectations as regards EU accession and believes that a future without a clear perspective could lead to migration from the region;

11.  Regrets that this decision undermines the efforts made by the European Parliament in the process of enlargement and the Strategy for the Western Balkans;

12.  Regrets that the Member States were not able to reach a unanimous decision on the opening of negotiations; calls on the Member States to show responsibility towards Albania and North Macedonia and to take a unanimous positive decision on the opening of negotiations at their next meeting, while bearing in mind the consequences of non-action;

13.  Considers that the incoming Commission should immediately take stock of the enlargement policy, taking into account the effects of the Council’s recent decision, while emphasising the advantages of enlargement both for candidate countries and for Member States; believes, furthermore, that the Commission should re-evaluate and amend its February 2018 Strategy for the Western Balkans accordingly;

14.  Reiterates that, pursuant to Article 49 TEU, any state in Europe may apply to become a member of the European Union provided that it adheres to the Copenhagen criteria and the principles of democracy, respects fundamental freedoms and human and minority rights, and upholds the rule of law;

15.  Calls for Parliament to further step up its democracy support activities (Jean Monnet Dialogues and capacity building) in the region in order to ensure that parliaments play their full role as engines for democratic reform and that they deliver on the European aspirations of the citizens of the region;

16.  Calls for Parliament, in this respect, and in response to the deadlock in the European Council, to convene a regional parliamentary dialogue with the leadership of the parliaments of the Western Balkans, in order to develop a strategy on the role of parliaments in driving forward the EU reform agenda and in delivering concrete measures that meet the European aspirations of the people of the region;

17.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the Council, the Commission, the governments and parliaments of the EU Member States, and the Governments and Parliaments of North Macedonia and Albania and all other accession countries.

(1) OJ C 252, 18.7.2018, p. 122.
(2) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2018)0481.
(3) OJ C 331, 18.9.2018, p. 88.
(4) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2018)0480.

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