Alfred SANT : Written explanations of vote 

Members can submit a written explanation of their vote in plenary. Rule 183

Implementation and financing of the EU general budget for 2019 in relation to the UK's withdrawal from the Union (A8-0197/2019 - Jean Arthuis)  
 

It is obvious that the EU should be fully prepared for the different possible scenarios describing future relations between the United Kingdom and the EU. Not least from the budgetary side of things.
The contingency measures contemplated in this document are particularly important to minimise the damage that would ensue if a no deal scenario prevails.
Problems would go beyond those arising from a possible budget shortfall when and if the UK’s payments into the 2019 budget dry up.
Just as importantly, there would be problems for private individuals and corporate entities established in the UK and currently benefiting from EU funding. They need to maintain their eligibility for such funding the case of a no-deal.
The same applies for non-UK based persons who have entered into funding projects involving UK entities.
The text provides ways and means by which deleterious consequences are contained and compensated for.
It sends a strong signal that the EU is prepared to stand four square with commitments it has made to interested parties in terms of the relationship sustained over the years with the UK.
For the above reasons, I voted in favour of giving the Parliament’s consent to this Commission proposal.

Tackling the dissemination of terrorist content online (A8-0193/2019 - Daniel Dalton)  
 

I have voted in favour of this report, dealing with the dissemination of terrorist content online.
Europe has been facing an evolving terrorist threat over the past years.
According to a report by the High-Level Commission Expert Group on Radicalisation (May 2018), internet featured in almost every 2017 attack. It is being used to disseminate instructions before attacks and to spread propaganda before and after attacks. Terrorist groups recruit many members online.
This text aims at reducing extremist content online by providing for duties of care to be applied by any hosting service providers in the EU while taking action against such content. Member States will need to ensure that competent authorities have sufficient capability and resources to enforce the removal orders. The report endorses cooperation among the national authorities, to avoid duplicating work and interference with ongoing investigations.
I welcome these consultation and cooperation procedures between the competent national authorities that take into account special circumstances for a removal order affecting the fundamental interests of a Member State.
Finally, feasibility of the delay for the removal of objectionable content on small platforms has been questioned. However, at no moment, should any fine tuning of measures being undertaken give the impression that we are being soft on terrorism.

Capital Requirements (Directive) (A8-0243/2018 - Peter Simon)  
 

After more than two years of work on the banking reform, we have finally reached the final stage with the EP plenary session’s approval of the compromise agreements reached with the Council and the Commission on the Capital Requirements Regulation and Directive.
I voted in favour of the compromise agreements because I believe that the new rules strike the right balance between the enhancing of the prudential requirement framework without adding excessive burden for banks.
In particular, I welcome the inclusion of the Malta Development Bank in the list of banks excluded from the application of these capital requirements.
The Malta Development Bank was created after the adoption of the initial Commission proposal and therefore it was not included in the text.
The application of these capital requirements to the Malta Development Bank would have had a counterproductive effect on its activities, due to unnecessary administrative burden and additional cost.
The compromise text reached by the EU Institutions makes sure that the Malta Development Bank receives the same treatment as the other National Promotional Banks in Europe.
In this way it will be able to fulfil its primary socio-economic objectives of public interest by supporting investments in Malta.

Guidelines for the employment policies of the Member States (A8-0177/2019 - Miroslavs Mitrofanovs)  
 

In Europe, we have had the strongest economic growth in a decade and the highest employment rate.
Yet the number of EU workers in poverty has kept rising since the financial crisis.
One in six workers in part-time jobs was at risk of poverty in 2017. Too many have not benefited from the recent economic growth.
The dependence on structural reforms to introduce flexibility in labour markets has brought negative social consequences.
It has cut living standards and brought work insecurity, while failing to sufficiently reduce unemployment.
Labour rights have been seriously eroded while precarious employment flourished.
In 2018, the European Pillar of Social Rights was highlighted as the way for the EU to regain its social conscience.
The Pillar was meant to help drive socially-oriented reforms at a national level, thereby promoting convergence across Europe.
However, boosting socially meaningful reforms in labour markets will depend among others, on incentivising those who produce and enhancing opportunities brought by the digitalisation of our economy.
Such reforms should reinforce labour security, ensuring for example that the process of contracting out production processes does not worsen working conditions, and that self-employed workers enjoy the same social protection than other workers.
All these considerations defined my vote on the text.

European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (A8-0176/2019 - Gabriel Mato)  
 

. ‒ The European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) supports the livelihood and cultural heritage of coastal communities across the EU and should be continued.
In particular, one cannot but endorse all funding that is specifically dedicated to young fishermen wishing to achieve their first acquisition of a fishing vessel. I also agree with the position to amend the original Commission proposal on aquaculture investments, by adding the possibility of support for such investments through direct grants, and not only through financial leverage. Furthermore, Parliament’s stance favouring the small-scale fishing sector is commendable.
Yet, it is disappointing that preferential treatment granted to small-scale fishermen in the EU’s outermost regions is not fully extended to those coming from small island environments. Small-scale fishermen in peripheral islands suffer from disadvantages similar to those experienced in the outermost regions. Their needs should not be sidelined.
Therefore, my vote in favour is conditioned by this objection: still not enough is being proposed to enable fishing communities in peripheral island regions to benefit from the current structure of the EU’s common fisheries policy.

Pan-European Personal Pension Product (A8-0278/2018 - Sophia in 't Veld)  
 

. ‒ Whilst basic pension systems need first to be dealt with at a national level, before they can realistically be dealt with on a European basis, the idea of creating a complementary and voluntary pension pillar at European level is a good idea.
This would address demographic challenges and the fact that national security systems are not well adjusted to labour mobility and migration among Member States. It could also be seen as a more remunerative long-term savings tool. Quite likely too, it could constitute a platform on which to eventually ground further developments towards a pan-European personal insurance and pensions framework.
The compromise agreement on the pan-European personal pension product (PEPP) reached by Parliament and the Council further strengthens the original Commission proposal by including additional safeguards for consumers, a cap to costs and fees, as well as a reference to the environmental, social and governance factors for pension product providers.
It meshes well with the S&D agenda for the development of a capital markets union, sustainable finance and the social pillar without disrupting national pension systems. For all these reasons, I voted in favour of the final agreement reached by the Institutions.

Establishing the Creative Europe programme (2021 to 2027) (A8-0156/2019 - Silvia Costa)  
 

Cultural and creative sectors in Europe are a significant element of the EU’s economy: they represent around 4.5% of its GDP, with a significant share of the digital economy.
Further, European culture stands as one of the age-old bonds that has connected European communities throughout the centuries.
Yet, both public and private investment in the sector have been for decades falling back when compared to those in other economic blocks globally. On many levels, arts in the United Sates continue to take over the lead. Other economic powers are also investing heavily in these sectors.
The New European Agenda for Culture accompanied by a proposed increase in EU funding through this programme is welcomed.
Nevertheless, further investment needs to be mobilised. In our education systems, in our cities, and directly in the sector, so that first, culture and arts are accessible to all, and second, that they are in a more favourable position to compete globally.
For the above stated reasons, while I have voted in favour of this Report, I believe that the proposed funding is not enough to reverse the situation and create the needed drive for the cultural and the creative scenes in Europe.

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

It is true that there is a growing market in which investors prioritise environmental concerns; however, it is still relatively a small market. This is why public policy measures, at national or EU level are needed.
The Commission has given a good start to the process with this Regulation on a future European framework for determining environmentally sustainable investment.
I understand the spirit that has motivated this proposal, to create a unified classification system on what can be considered an environmentally sustainable economic activity in Europe.
However, the Parliament text seeks to widen the scope of the Commission proposal to cover all financial products, whether or not they carry investments with a targeted sustainable impact.
I disagree with this approach, which could penalise other investments. I believe the Commission intended to provide a tool for directing investors to select sustainable investments, which would increase the demand for these activities, without jeopardising the take up of other traditional assets.
I also have in mind the additional costs for investors and burdens this will imply for small and medium sized firms.
One must remember that a significant part of the EU’s financial services are intermediated by SMEs.
Therefore, I voted against the proposal of the Parliament to broaden the scope.

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

I voted in favour of this Report because the funds at issue will be essential to sustain the development of many regions in Europe. The Report puts as a priority the reduction of disparities between levels of development of EU regions. It states that the ERDF should address the specific difficulties encountered by certain islands.
However, the Report stops short of considering advantageous treatment to EU islands other than those classified as Outermost Regions. Unfortunately, the difficulties that small peripheral islands face are still being ignored. For them to achieve social cohesion, supplementary funding must be made available in order to:
- assist traditional businesses needing modernisation;
- provide special assistance to traditional economic players who are being squeezed by large-scale operators;
- improve transport connections.
The prevailing constraints punish hardest those islands suffering from dual geographical insularity such as the island of Gozo. Since Malta, of which Gozo forms part, became a member of EU territory, economic and social outcomes in Gozo have actually fallen behind those of the EU as a whole and those of other peripheral European islands. This is not acceptable.
Without appropriate investment funding, the EU’s periphery will continue to have problems in not falling further behind the rest of the EU.

Disclosure of income tax information by certain undertakings and branches (A8-0227/2017 - Hugues Bayet, Evelyn Regner)  
 

Tax transparency is key to allow for a healthy tax competition within the EU and to ensure that all tax authorities exchange the relevant information and cooperate. On this basis, Member States can develop robust and fraud-proof tax systems.
However, disclosure of tax-related information should not be done in a way that puts EU companies at a competitive disadvantage with their non-European counterparts. Giving the latter up-to-date information about the profit and loss outcomes of EU firms in the absence of reciprocity is less than a good idea, as deleterious effects on future investment and job creation in Europe would ensue.
To prevent this, the European Union should push for changes towards further disclosure within the remit of the OECD, as has been done with the EU Directive on the exchange of information among tax authorities.
Recent developments in the area of taxation policy have shown that the OECD is increasingly successful in swiftly putting in place collaborative mechanisms to combat tax abuse.
The EU should be at the forefront of high transparency standards on taxation, but should not let this stand serve to boost opportunities for outside competitors. The report does not give sufficient weight to this important consideration. I have therefore voted against it.

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