• Petr   JEŽEK  

Petr JEŽEK : Written explanations of vote - 8th parliamentary term 

Members can submit a written explanation of their vote in plenary. Rule 194

Listing the third countries whose nationals must be in possession of visas when crossing the external borders and those whose nationals are exempt from that requirement, as regards the UK's withdrawal from the EU (A8-0047/2019 - Sergei Stanishev)  
 

I voted against this report, which sets out the visa exemptions rules for UK citizens travelling to the EU in the event of a disorderly departure of the UK from the European Union. The report was unanimously adopted by Parliament in the Civil Liberties Committee under its lead negotiator and rapporteur, Claude Moraes. As the ALDE shadow rapporteur on this subject, I therefore expected the interinstitutional negotiations to take place in a smooth and swift manner. Nevertheless, Parliament was regrettably faced with an obscure and inappropriate attitude from the Council, which inserted an entirely inappropriate reference to Gibraltar as a ‘colony’ in a footnote to Article 3 of the amending regulation. I was equally disappointed and baffled to see the Commission changing its position by ultimately supporting the Council’s position regarding the footnote referencing and singling out Gibraltar. Furthermore, I deeply regret the decision by some colleagues to remove the excellent rapporteur, Claude Moraes, based solely on his nationality. Therefore, despite holding a strong view that neither UK nor EU citizens should need to have visas for short-term travel to each other’s territory, I could not support the final text of the regulation, specifically the footnote regarding Gibraltar. Such language is unacceptable in EU regulation.

Strengthening the security of identity cards and of residence documents issued to Union citizens (A8-0436/2018 - Gérard Deprez)  
 

. ‒ I voted in favour of this regulation, which will help strengthen the security of identity cards and of residence documents issued to EU nationals. The regulation will establish common security standards for ID cards and residence documents, which will help tackle document fraud and identity theft, which are rampant, in part due to the multitude of formats of ID cards and residence permits currently in circulation in the EU. This regulation will overall facilitate the free movement of EU citizens, reduce administrative hassle and strengthen the internal security of the European Union, ultimately contributing to the European Union’s fight against terrorism and cross-border crime. While the new cards will have a standardised format with two biometric identifiers (the facial image and two fingerprints), I nevertheless voted against the provision to render the taking of fingerprints mandatory as I believe this should be optional and remain the Member States’ competence to decide on the latter.

Establishment of a framework to facilitate sustainable investment (A8-0175/2019 - Bas Eickhout, Sirpa Pietikäinen)  
 

I voted in favour of this report, which concerns the establishment of a framework to facilitate sustainable investment as it provides the basis towards climate friendly investments and sustainable projects across the EU. Nevertheless, I voted against the introduction of proposals to define when and how an economic activity is considered as unsustainable i.e. the ‘brown taxonomy’. Indeed, such an extension would heavily increase the bureaucratic burden on all industries as it takes the opposite approach of the Commission’s proposal, which sought to define when and how an economic activity is sustainable, not the other way round. In my view, the report’s suggestion to include unsustainable activities will not encourage transition strategies since those activities identified as ‘brown’ will not be able to benefit from sustainable finance to fund their transition and therefore will not be incentivised to get greener. I also voted against the suggestion to implement a ‘comply or explain mechanism’ as the latter would create a substantial and unnecessary burden for investors, as they will need to justify whether they consider the adverse impacts of the investment decisions on sustainability factors.

Estimates of revenue and expenditure for the financial year 2020 – Section I – European Parliament (A8-0182/2019 - Vladimír Maňka)  
 

I voted in favour of this report, which concerns the Parliament’s estimates of revenue and expenditure for the financial year 2020. I welcome this report as it will ensure more transparency and accountability of the Parliament’s budget by bringing several improvements as regards the disclosure of revenue and expenditures. I notably support the suggestion to call on Members to be fully accountable for their spending under the General Expenditures Allowance (GEA) as citizens deserve more transparency. I therefore welcome the adoption of the amendment calling for Members’ GEA accounts to be checked by an external accountant and for the expenditures to be made available to the public on the personal pages of the Members on the European Parliament’s website.

Situation of rule of law and fight against corruption in the EU, specifically in Malta and Slovakia (B8-0230/2019)  
 

. ‒ I voted in favour of this resolution concerning the situation of rule of law and the fight against corruption in the EU, and specifically regarding Malta and Slovakia. Indeed, this resolution rightly points to the serious shortcomings in the rule of law in Malta and Slovakia as well as to the rising threats for journalists throughout the EU. I strongly support this resolution, which follows up on the efforts undertaken by the Committee on Financial Crimes, Tax Evasion and Tax Avoidance (TAX3) by condemning and calling for the launch of an independent inquiry into the assassinations of Ms Caruana Galizia in Malta and of Mr Kuciak and Ms Kušnírová in Slovakia. As the motion recalls, a strong democracy based on the rule of law cannot function without strong and independent media. I also welcome the references made to the shortcomings regarding the fight against corruption, financial crimes, money laundering, tax evasion and organised crime in Malta and Slovakia and which contribute to undermining citizens’ trust in public institutions.

Recent developments on the Dieselgate scandal (B8-0222/2019, RC-B8-0223/2019, B8-0223/2019, B8-0224/2019)  
 

. ‒ I voted in favour of this cross-party resolution as it appropriately tackles the recent developments of the Dieselgate scandal. I regret the attempts of the PPE and ECR Groups to obstruct and water down this resolution, which tackles such a timely and crucial issue. As this resolution recalls, a number of Member States have failed to take up the necessary measures against car manufacturers violating car emissions legislation or to impose the appropriate sanctions on those manufacturers. This widespread issue should thus be better tackled at the EU level if we want to safeguard the functioning of the single market and better protect our environment as well as the health of our citizens.

European Regional Development Fund and Cohesion Fund (A8-0094/2019 - Andrea Cozzolino)  
 

I voted against this report, which concerns the European Regional Development Fund and Cohesion Fund. The main reason I oppose this report is based on the fact that it asks Member States to make a duly justified request for further flexibility within the current framework of the Stability and Growth Pact for the public or equivalent structural expenditure by way of co-financing of investments activated as part of ERDF and CF. I therefore voted against this text as it stipulates that the national co-financing of the investments funded by the ERDF shall be excluded from the assessment of Member States’ fiscal positions.

Reduction of the impact of certain plastic products on the environment (A8-0317/2018 - Frédérique Ries)  
 

I voted in favour of this report, which concerns the reduction of the impact of certain plastic products on the environment. This report marks a milestone in the global fight against pollutants such as marine litter. This report also gradually shifts the burden on producers of harmful products containing single-use plastics such as cigarette butts, plastic bottles or fishing gear. I therefore welcome the work of the rapporteur on this proposal, as it feeds into the objective of the Commission’s Circular Economy Action Plan, which seeks to lay the foundation for industries to innovate and become more competitive while reducing environmental damage which are currently costing consumers an estimated €6.5 billion.

Common provisions on the European Regional Development Fund, the European Social Fund Plus, the Cohesion Fund, and the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund and financial rules for those (A8-0043/2019 - Andrey Novakov, Constanze Krehl)  
 

I voted against this report on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council laying down common provisions on the European Regional Development Fund, the European Social Fund Plus, the Cohesion Fund, the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund, the Asylum and Migration Fund, the Internal Security Fund and the Border Management and Visa Instrument, as well as financial rules for those. While I support the compromise text reached at Council level, there are a number of amendments which were added after the negotiations I do not agree with. Notably, I oppose the references seeking to limit the conditionality and eligibility criteria of operations as well as the addition to limit the possibility of transferring part of the funds to InvestEU and to the Connect Europe Facility.

Discontinuing seasonal changes of time (A8-0169/2019 - Marita Ulvskog)  
 

I voted against this report, which concerns the EU directive harmonising the dates on which Member States apply Daylight Saving Time. The proposal aims to abolish seasonal time changes across the European Union. This goes a long way from the intention of the original directive and encroaches on Member Statesʼ sovereignty. The impact of such changes has been largely under-studied. Indeed, the Commission proposal is not accompanied by a full impact assessment. The consequences of this proposal might include a situation in which, for example, Ireland and Northern Ireland would adopt different time zones if the UK were to redraft its own laws following Brexit. Furthermore, numerous studies on the subject have thus far failed to provide any conclusive findings on the positive effects that the abolition of the biannual clock change might bring. I therefore do not consider this proposal to be based on sufficient scientific evidence to support the potential economic or health benefits of abolishing Daylight Saving Time.

Copyright in the Digital Single Market (A8-0245/2018 - Axel Voss)  
 

. ‒ I voted against this proposal on copyright in the Digital Single Market as the Directive risks undermining the rights of internet users for several reasons. First, the upload filter as envisaged in the proposal will not allow to differentiate between different types of creative content and thus will not be able to distinguish actual copyright infringements from legitimate content such as commentary, criticism or parody. This proposal thus drastically endangers citizens’ fundamental rights of access to information as well as freedom of expression at large. The Directive would also constitute a substantial burden for creators, as it is virtually impossible to obtain licenses for all content uploaded and shared online. The proposal as it stands will take away control from users and small businesses, and place it into the hands of internet giants. I therefore consider it shameful that a majority of MEPs rejected considering the amendments to the proposal, including the one to reject Article 13. Overall, this proposal will greatly endanger the creative industry and clearly undermines the rights of citizens to share and enjoy online content freely.

Report on financial crimes, tax evasion and tax avoidance (A8-0170/2019 - Jeppe Kofod, Luděk Niedermayer)  
 

I voted in favour of this report on financial crimes, tax evasion and tax avoidance. This report is the result of twelve months of work conducted by the TAX3 Committee, which I had the privilege of chairing. As highlighted in our report, there is a clear lack of political will from Member States to tackle financial crimes, tax evasion and tax avoidance. For this reason, our report emphasises the need to set up an EU—wide anti-money laundering watchdog and to establish a financial police force and financial intelligence unit to better coordinate the fight against financial crimes at EU level. I therefore welcome the overwhelming cross-party support as it sends a strong signal to the Council to finally take action and follow up on the tremendous legislative work that has been achieved by this Parliament, together with the Commission, over the last five years. It is now crucial that Member States enforce and implement the legislation that is on the table and show citizens that the Council cannot remain the weakest link in the fight against financial crimes, tax evasion and tax avoidance.

Annual report on the control of the financial activities of the European Investment Bank for 2017 (A8-0479/2018 - Georgi Pirinski)  
 

I voted in favour of the annual report on the financial activities of the European Investment Bank. The EIB has indeed taken the necessary steps to better measure the impact of its investments rather than only providing data on quantitative volumes of financing. Further, I also support the suggestion of the report to recall the need for the EIB to remain committed to enhance its activities in contributing to long-term and sustainable growth.

Establishing the Fiscalis programme for cooperation in the field of taxation (A8-0421/2018 - Sven Giegold)  
 

I voted in favour of this report, which concerns the establishment of the Fiscalis 2020 programme for cooperation in the field of taxation. I welcome the proposal as it constitutes a timely and necessary proposal that will help support tax authorities to better cooperate and incidentally protect the financial and economic interests of the Union by building a stronger administrative capacity with regard to tax cooperation. The Fiscalis programme will also allow national administrations to better communicate and exchange information securely, which is essential to bolster Member States’ capacity to combat VAT fraud, corruption, tax evasion and aggressive tax planning. I therefore voted whole-heartedly in favour of this report, as it constitutes an essential step to achieve fairer competition while supporting the Union’s potential to establish a long-term approach on fairer taxation.

Apportionment of tariff rate quotas included in the WTO schedule of the Union following the UK's withdrawal from the EU (A8-0361/2018 - Godelieve Quisthoudt-Rowohl)  
 

. ‒ This report concerns the apportionment of tariff rate quotas included in the WTO schedule of the European Union following the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the Union. I voted in favour of the latter as it is necessary to define the apportionment of the existing quantities between the UK and the EU to become effective on the date the UK is no longer covered by the EU’s WTO schedule. Once the UK leaves the customs union, it will set and apply its own tariffs to its imports and therefore, the EU must ensure that it does not continue to import the same amounts from the UK and that the UK creates its own schedule of commitments in the WTO. I therefore voted in favour of the proposed EU share of the apportioned quota, which was computed by subtracting the UK share of a given quota from the entire scheduled tariff rate quota in question.

Union’s authorisation procedure for pesticides (A8-0475/2018 - Norbert Lins, Bart Staes)  
 

I voted in favour of this own-initiative report on the Union’s authorisation procedure for pesticides which sets out a number of recommendations including improving transparency, no longer allowing the use of plant protection products in public spaces. This proposal is indeed very much needed to safeguard the health of European citizens. I also welcome the proposal to call on the Commission to submit a legislative proposal amending the regulation in order to enable a fast-track approval process for low-risk pesticides of biological origin, and to designate Member States carrying out the risk assessment for new applications.

Establishing, as part of the Integrated Border Management Fund, the instrument for financial support for customs control equipment (A8-0460/2018 - Jiří Pospíšil)  
 

I voted in favour of this report concerning the regulation on the instrument for financial support for customs control equipment. The customs control equipment instrument, alongside the border management and visas instrument, will provide funding for Member States to enhance their capacities to deal with migration challenges and potential future threats at external borders. The instrument will allow the maintenance and upgrading of eligible detection equipment for customs controls and cover equipment also used for wider control purposes (e.g. border control and security). I therefore support this proposal, which seeks to provide financial support for customs control equipment, as it will help strengthen cooperation between customs authorities, as well as overall administrative capacity. This instrument will also contribute to the functioning of the EU anti-fraud programme and therefore to protection of the financial and economic interests of the Union.

Establishing the 'Customs' programme for cooperation in the field of customs (A8-0464/2018 - Maria Grapini)  
 

I voted in favour of this report, which concerns the establishing of the ‘Customs’ programme for cooperation in the field of customs. The customs programme indeed plays an essential role in safeguarding the financial interests of the Union and of the Member States by ensuring the effective collection of customs duties. The customs programme also focuses on developing harmonised and standardised customs controls while increasing cooperation in the field of customs, both of which are essential for tracking and better combating illegal cross-border flows of goods and fraud. The programme will therefore enhance consumer protection in the long-term while exploiting the full potential of the internal market.

Establishing the space programme of the Union and the European Union Agency for the Space Programme (A8-0405/2018 - Massimiliano Salini) CS  
 

Tento návrh nově nastavuje uspořádání dosavadních kosmických programů a doplňuje je o nové iniciativy (GOVSATCOM a SSA), zřizuje Kosmický program EU jakožto jednotný a soudržný rámec. Návrh dále zřizuje Agenturu Evropské unie pro kosmický program (EUSPA), která nahradí Agenturu pro evropský GNSS (GSA) se sídlem v Praze. Zprávu k tomuto návrhu jsem podpořil, neboť návrh posiluje působnost a rozšiřuje kompetence nově vzniklé EUSPA, jediné agentury EU sídlící v České republice. Vítám také, že zpráva EP rozšiřuje kompetence této agentury ve srovnání s původním návrhem Evropské komise. Souhlasím rovněž s vhodným nastavením řídící struktury Kosmického programu EU. Důležité bude nyní zajistit dostatečné financování EUSPA, jež se bude projednávat až při jednání o víceletém finančním rámci.

Common system of a digital services tax on revenues resulting from the provision of certain digital services (A8-0428/2018 - Paul Tang)  
 

I voted in favour of this report, which concerns the setting up of a common system of a digital services tax (DST) on revenues resulting from the provisions of certain digital services. As the ALDE shadow rapporteur on this report, my goal was to ensure that this report would focus on several aspects that are crucial for preserving the integrity and competitiveness of the single market while ensuring that digital companies’ revenues generated by user activity are taxed in a fair, efficient and transparent way. To do so, I notably tabled amendments on the need to ensure that SMEs do not fall inadvertently into the scope of this interim measure as the primary objective is to restore the balance between tech giants and smaller enterprises who suffer from the unfair taxation system. I also stressed on the need for this temporary tax not to exceed 3% as to ensure it does not have unintended consequences on businesses and companies. I am therefore glad that my colleagues recognised the importance of advocating for the DST as an interim measure before a comprehensive solution can be achieved at international level. I remain hopeful that the Council will come to a compromise in the near future.