Go back to the Europarl portal

Choisissez la langue de votre document :

 Index 
 Previous 
 Next 
 Full text 
Debates
Tuesday, 24 October 2000 - Strasbourg OJ edition

VOTE
  

Report (A5-0295/2000) by Mr Cocilovo, on behalf of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs, on the proposal for a Council Decision on Guidelines for Member States’ employment policies for the year 2001 and on the Commission communication on the Joint Employment Report 2000 [COM(2000) 548 – C5-0491/2000 – 2000/0225(CNS)]

(The President declared the legislative resolution adopted)

*

* *

Proposal for a Council decision, on behalf of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Consumer Policy, on the conclusion on behalf of the European Community of the 1998 Protocol to the 1979 Convention on long range transboundary air pollution on heavy metals [COM(2000) 177 – C5-0358/2000 – 2000/0082(CNS)]

(Procedure without report)

(Parliament approved the Commission proposal)

*

* *

Recommendation for second reading (A5-0268/2000) by Mr Trakatellis, on behalf of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Consumer Policy, on the common position adopted by the Council with a view to adopting a European Parliament and Council directive amending Council Directive 93/42/EEC as regards medical devices incorporating stable derivatives of human blood or human plasma [13561/1/1999 – C5-0331/2000 – 1995/0013 B(COD)]

(The President declared the common position approved)

*

* *

Report (A5-0228/2000) by Mr Souchet, on behalf of the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development, on the proposal for a Council regulation amending Regulation No. 3448/93 laying down the trade arrangements applicable to certain goods resulting from the processing of agricultural products [COM(1999) 717 – C5-0095/2000 – 1999/0284(CNS)]

(Parliament adopted the legislative resolution)

*

* *

Report (A5-0304/2000) by Mr MacCormick, on behalf of the Committee on Legal Affairs and the Internal Market, on the request for waiver of the immunity of Mr Pacheco Pereira

(Parliament adopted the decision)

*

* *

Report (A5-0294/2000) by Mrs Eriksson, on behalf of the Committee on Women’s Rights and Equal Opportunities, on the proposal for a Council Decision on the Programme relating to the Community framework strategy on gender equality (2001-2005) [COM(2000) 335 – C5-0386/2000 – 2000/0143(CNS)]

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Eriksson (GUE/NGL), rapporteur.(SV) Mr President, in accordance with Rule 69(2), I want the discussion of this matter to be discontinued now and re-referred to the Committee. We have now obtained a clear position from Parliament but, after yesterday’s debate, it is unclear what the other institutions want. I therefore wish to insist upon re-referral to the Committee.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Theorin (PSE), draftsperson of the opinion of the Committee on Women’s Rights and Equal Opportunities.(SV) Mr President, it is probably in order for myself, as draftsperson of the opinion of the Committee, to say that we have done our best to fulfil both the Council’s and the Commission’s desire to get this proposal through quickly. We have worked a little too quickly. In the course of yesterday’s debate, we did not, unfortunately, obtain clarity on those issues which really need to be clarified by the Council and the Commission. We therefore want the matter re-referred to ourselves. We are ready to ensure that it can be put to the vote during the November part-session so that it may, in that way, also be possible for it to be adopted during the French Presidency. I therefore support Mrs Eriksson’s proposal on behalf of the Committee.

 
  
  

(Parliament decided to refer the matter back to the Committee responsible)

*

* *

Report (A5-0277/2000) by Mrs Sartori, on behalf of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs, on the Commission report to the Council and to the European Parliament on the review of the single facility providing medium-term financial assistance for Member States’ balances of payments (Council Regulation (EEC) No 1969/88) [COM(1999) 628 – C5-0307/2000 – 2000/0807(CNS)]

(Parliament adopted the resolution)

*

* *

Report (A5-0195/2000) by Mr Klaß, on behalf of the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development, on the proposal for a Council directive amending Directive 68/193/EEC on the marketing of material for the vegetative propagation of the vine [COM(2000) 59 – C5-0090/2000 – 2000/0036(CNS)]

(Parliament adopted the legislative resolution)

*

* *

Report (A5-0290/2000) by Mr Riis-Jørgensen, on behalf of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs, on the Commission’s XXIXth report on Competition Policy – 1999 [SEC(2000) 720 – C5-0302/2000 – 2000/2153(COS)]

(Parliament adopted the resolution)

*

* *

Report (A5-0281/2000) by Mr Jonathan Evans, on behalf of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs, on the Commission’s eighth survey on state aid in the European Union [COM(2000) 205 – C5-0430/2000 – 2000/2211(COS)]

Amendment No 3:

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Sterckx (ELDR).(NL) Mr President, with regard to Amendment No 3, the votes were 72 for and 56 against. Since the honourable Member said she would vote against, this amendment is repealed.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  President. That does not alter the outcome. I am quite clear about that in my mind.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Evans, Jonathan (PPE-DE). – Mr President, I was seeking your clarification of the Rules on the set of circumstances that were just raised. If a machine is not working, is it the case that a vote that is entirely disregarded? If so, it seems to me that is a matter that may require of an amendment in the Rules of this House. It clearly is the case that the intention of the House was, by a tied vote, not to carry that particular measure.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  President. Mr Evans, it is, pursuant to the Rules, for the President to decide whether the result was valid or not. Needless to say, the President always hopes that all voting machines are working. Should a machine not be in working order, this does not in any way affect the conclusion reached by the President that this vote was carried out in a lawfully valid manner, and I obviously have no intention of changing that conclusion. These are the rules. Neither do I intend to change the Rules of Procedure. That is how it is. I do not want a debate on this. The rules, ladies and gentlemen, are crystal clear.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Howitt (PSE). – Mr President, I know you hope all the voting machines were working. I am afraid mine did not, so that made the majority “two”, not “one”.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  President. That is making matters too complicated, Mr Howitt. I will not take this into consideration.

(Parliament adopted the resolution)

*

* *

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Atkins (PPE-DE). – Mr President, I am sorry to rise again on a point of order but I do so to challenge the ruling you made earlier, not in the context of the debate but in the context of the Rules of this House. If there is an equality of votes and if the honourable Member did vote, even though her machine did not work, then the procedure in any parliamentary assembly is that amendment falls. Therefore, in those circumstances I want you to tell me which part of our Rules suggests that your ruling is right, when clearly it is not.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  President. Mr Atkins, that is not how we are going to do things here. The rules are crystal clear. We held a small procedural debate on it a moment ago. Virtually all Members of the House are familiar with this rule. The President decides on the validity of the votes. I am interested to hear that other parliaments do things differently, but in this Parliament, our rules apply.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Staes (Verts/ALE).(NL) Mr President, I am able to dispel an illusion that certain MEPs have. During the vote, which is the subject of the dispute, I voted against by mistake; I actually wanted to vote in favour. I have already notified the Registry. There was therefore more than one surplus vote.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  McKenna (Verts/ALE). – Mr President, what is being asked for here is a recipe for chaos. As we have heard, some people voted the wrong way, some people’s machines did not work. The Rules as they stand are quite acceptable and ensure that you will not have a situation where some people have not voted, where some people’s machines did not work. We cannot change the Rules. Otherwise it would make things quite impossible: when we have a very tight vote with only a difference of one or two votes, there would be people jumping up all over the place saying their machine did not work, they did not vote, or whatever. It is better as it stands.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  President. Mrs McKenna, you are absolutely right. I believe we can now close the subject. The vote was clear. The result was established by the President. It is valid. There is nothing to add to or detract from this. I suggest, honourable Members, that we do not discuss the matter any further.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Berthu (UEN).(FR) Mr President, it is now almost 2 p.m. Could you ask the House if wishes to continue voting or if it wishes to stop?

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  President. That sounds reasonable. I now propose the sitting be suspended.

(The proposal to suspend the sitting was approved)

The remaining votes will be held over until tomorrow.

EXPLANATIONS OF VOTE

 
  
  

- Cocilovo report (A5-0295/2000)

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Bordes, Cauquil and Laguiller (GUE/NGL), in writing.(FR) Behind the convoluted wording of this text, there is an outline of a raft of measures, all harmful to workers.

What is the meaning of the expression “the deadline within which Member States are required to guarantee unemployed individuals a chance to access an active employment measure should not exceed two years”, if not a threat to unemployment benefits?

What is the meaning of “the introduction of the opportunity to move towards retirement gradually, via part-time work”, if not a threat to the age of retirement, which is already far too high in many countries?

There is no ambiguity about the repeated calls for making flexibility in employment more common. With regard to the passage on work experience in companies, apprenticeships, joint work/training contracts, it aims to make more widespread a practice already adopted by many States which consists, on the pretext on helping workers or unemployed young people, of making a partially or completely subsidised workforce available to employers.

The icing on the cake for the property-owning classes is the report’s recommendation of something already practised by many States, which is “the contributions in respect of fiscal and parafiscal charges” by the authorities on “domestic work”, which clearly means taxpayers’ subsidising the maids and chauffeurs that the rich are likely to hire.

Texts like these confirm the fact that the role allotted to the European institutions, including Parliament, is to be of service to the narrow band of the well-to-do.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (PT) It significant that the report reiterates that full employment is one of the Europe’s key objectives under its strategy for economic, employment and social policy. Nevertheless, we must also ensure that we move beyond vague statements and make genuine changes to our macroeconomic and social policies in order to make real progress towards full employment and good-quality jobs.

It is also significant that the report restates the need to discourage children from dropping out of school early, by giving appropriate support to those with educational problems and raising the age for compulsory education or training to 18. At the same time we must adopt those measures needed to guarantee access to high-quality education and to training geared towards all young people, paying particular attention to lower-income families and those from the most vulnerable parts of society. This also requires sufficient budgetary appropriations, which are still not forthcoming.

The report does well to state the need to reduce gender gaps with regard to employment, unemployment, pay and sectoral segregation by 50% in the Member States over the next five years. It is also crucial, however, for there to be a real improvement in good-quality jobs, in salaries and in professional development, which we have not yet seen.

 
  
  

- Recommendation for second reading – Trakatellis (A5-0268/2000)

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  De Rossa (PSE), in writing. – I welcome the EP’s adoption of the Trakatellis report as it provides for the setting of high standards of quality and safety of blood and blood derivatives.

EU citizens are entitled to expect the highest level of safety with blood products. It is imperative that we safeguard the health, safety and confidence of patients, users and third parties and set conditions on placing such products on the market.

We must at the same time seek to guarantee continuity of supply of safe products at affordable prices to both individual citizens and public health authorities.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Fatuzzo (PPE-DE), in writing. – (IT) There is an Italian proverb which says, literally: “laughter makes good blood”. Pensioners and the elderly – who, like everybody else, would like to have a healthy circulation – therefore approve of the fact that, every so often, I am able to introduce a lighter note into our proceedings, such as this preamble to my explanation of why I voted for the Trakatellis report. My reason for voting for the report is, of course, that pensioners and elderly people are greatly concerned with their health, for it is they who are most frequently hospitalised, and they therefore welcome not only the movement of goods but also the healthy circulation of the blood.

 
  
  

- Souchet report (A5-0228/2000)

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Fatuzzo (PPE-DE).(IT) Mr President, I voted for the Souchet report which is intended to further facilitate the process of turning agricultural products into packaged agricultural products. As you know, pensioners, like children, love eating jam. I am telling you this because it would be a good idea for the European Union to facilitate the processing of agricultural products further, in order to make it possible for surplus products such as oranges, citrus fruits and other produce to be made into packaged food products – and I stress the word packaged – which could then be used both for the people of the European Union and for other peoples, especially those who do not have enough food.

 
  
  

- MacCormick report (A5-0304/2000)

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Gollnisch (TDI), in writing. – (FR) We have voted in favour of Mr MacCormick’s report seeking to uphold Mr Pacheco Pereira’s parliamentary immunity. It is not that we think that the purpose of immunity is to place any Member of this House above the law, but because it is, in certain cases, necessary in order to protect the institution and the independence of its Members in the face of measures of persecution.

Many of us noted the very important development, in section II, paragraph D, on the “Independent nature of European parliamentary immunity compared with national parliamentary immunity.” It is because parliamentary immunity is independent that our institution has the power to review requests for waiver, particularly with regard to ‘fumus persecutionis’ i.e. the presumption that criminal proceedings have been brought with the intention of causing the Member political damage. If we have the power to review requests for waiver, then we have all the more the right to consider breaches of parliamentary immunity, when this is attacked without such a request even being presented!

If European parliamentary immunity is independent, the French authorities ought to have consulted us regarding the waiver of Mr Le Pen’s immunity. We ought to have studied the outrageous reversal of the concept of flagrante delicto which those authorities committed.

Before passing judgement, the French Court of Appeal and the Council of State ought to have notified the Court of Justice in Luxembourg that the question had been referred for a preliminary ruling. In the absence of these crucial formalities, the President of the European Parliament clearly ought not to have allowed a criminal trial instigated in completely invalid conditions to have any effect on Mr Le Pen’s mandate.

This is the legal course that our Parliament should follow in order to be consistent with its principles and its legal code, as well as with the letter and the spirit of the treaties. A great many of us here would like to hear this stated by the Court of Luxembourg, which is the guardian of the law.

 
  
  

- Klaß report (A5-0195/2000)

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Fatuzzo (PPE-DE).(IT) Mr President, I voted against the Klaß report. This is because it confirms the possibility of turning traditional vines into GMO vines and therefore the possibility that, in the future, we will be drinking genetically modified wine. I asked the pensioners who sent me here to the European Parliament to represent the Pensioners’ Party whether they would like to drink genetically modified wine. They replied: ‘If genetically modified wine were to cure me of my liver trouble or to prevent me getting liver trouble, then I would be quite happy to drink it. Otherwise, why should I agree to drink wine which is different to the wine our ancestors always drank?’

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Schierhuber (PPE-DE).(DE) Mr President, in the course of this discussion on the Klaß report, I have been unable to comprehend why some people have persistently confused the terms ‘genotype’ and ‘genetic modification’. This has actually hampered the discussion because ‘genotype’ is a prototype in wine, and wine growing is an extremely varied and dynamic sector characterised by long-established traditions and ancient cultures. Vine material provides the basis for optimum grape and wine production in terms of quality, class and quantity. Therefore we need these types of vine in order to preserve the variety of the wine, in terms of characteristic flavour, and to prevent cut-price enterprises from undermining this regional variety of vine propagating material and working against it.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Isler Béguin (Verts/ALE), in writing. – (FR) I am particularly disappointed at the European Parliament’s vote on the report on the reproduction of vine plants.

I am disappointed that Parliament has neither understood nor tried to understand the message of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Consumer Policy and of the Greens, who have tried to draw attention to the underhand way in which the executive committee acted in order to water down the issue of GMOs in its reports so that we will end up with vast amounts of them on our plates and in our glasses.

No, I have not got the wrong debate. The Greens are perfectly in tune with public opinion and consumers, who are concerned about future food products. The Greens are in tune with wine growers, producers and merchants who are worried about the introduction of GMOs into vine plants. By refusing, by 397 votes to 115, to back the amendments proposing to withdraw the references to GMOs, the European Parliament has failed in its role of guardian of the precautionary principle and is guilty of allowing GMOs to be infiltrated into vine plant reproduction through the back door, in contempt of European regulations.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Korakas (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (EL) In my country, Greece, vines are extremely important; they are an integral feature of the landscape and have been bound up with its culture and economy for centuries. And, Greece is the only Member State which produces and exports raisins.

Material for the vegetative propagation of the vine must meet high specifications both from the phytosanitary point of view and as regards certification of the variety or clone, since it is the initial material which a vine-grower wishing to produce high quality vine products and safeguard his income will use to start a vineyard.

We all know that the directive on material for the vegetative propagation of the vine needed amending, because huge changes have taken place in the 32 years since it was drawn up, both on the market and in the technical and scientific area. The changes dictated by the situation on the ground and the requirements of the sector need to be made, but they need to be made in a direction which serves producers and consumers and the report does not move in this direction.

To be precise, there is no scientific proof that genetically-modified vine varieties pose no risk to human health or the environment and the fact that authorisation may be granted only if all the appropriate steps have been taken to avoid endangering human health does not constitute a safety valve. At no point does the report clarify either who will grant the authorisation or what controls will be carried out. Given that research into genetically-modified products has been developed and is controlled by a number of large multinational companies which are only interested in increasing their profits and have no interest in protecting human health or the environment, the precarious nature of the supposed authorisation and controls, which are riddled with holes, gives even greater cause for concern.

It is proposed to allow material for the vegetative propagation of the vine which meets reduced specifications to be marketed when temporary difficulties arise without, however, specifying what these difficulties might be. Or even, by way of derogation, for standard material for vegetative propagation to be supplied when demand cannot be met from other categories. The main point here is that material for vegetative propagation which meets reduced specifications gives a poorer quality vineyard, thereby jeopardising the vine-grower’s income, while suppliers are in a win-win situation because they are able to sell poor quality products.

As far as the definition of the clone is concerned, it is inadequate because, basically, the clone is a sub-division of the variety with special characteristics which have to be made known and the definition given does not cover this. We note that a newer, more complete definition has been issued by the committee of vine experts.

As far as new scientific techniques such as in vitro propagation are concerned, reference should be made to the fact that meristem propagation is excluded from in vitro propagation of material because, as we all know from numerous years’ experience and experiments by institutes, mutations occur when these points of the plant are used.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Meijer (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (NL) In this proposal, economic interests have prevailed over other considerations. When that happens, this very often has unforeseen adverse implications. In a number of Member States, growing grapes constitutes an important economic sector, especially since they are used to produce alcohol. To some, alcohol, like tobacco and drugs, is a product which can cause a great deal of harm to the users and the people around them; to others, it is mainly a source of employment which can generate large sums of money. The proposal to amend the directive on the marketing of vegetative propagation material of the vine is being justified as a tool to reinforce the internal market and to bring a 30-year old regulation up-to-date. However, it also seems to be about widening the scope for genetic manipulation. Yesterday, the proposal of the Greens and Social Democrats to postpone the decision on the Klaß report until a broader decision-making process on the genetic manipulation of plants is in place, was turned down by a narrow majority of this Parliament. For me, this is a reason not to vote in favour of the Klaß report, certainly not at this stage.

 
  
  

- Riis-Jørgensen report (A5-0290/2000)

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Fatuzzo (PPE-DE).(IT) Mr President, I voted for the Riis-Jørgensen report, although it does have some shortcomings. Yesterday, I overheard Mr Smith, an Englishman talking to Mr Rossi, an Italian. They are old friends and work in the same profession: they both work for furniture factories. Mr Smith’s salary is ITL 2.5 million per month whereas Mr Rossi earns less: only ITL 2 million per month. The reason is that Mr Smith’s pension contributions are low whereas the amount paid by Mr Rossi is very high. But why? This situation is due to the fact that British pension laws make workers’ pension contributions bring more return than Italian laws. I therefore put it to you, Mr President: are not such discrepancies in contributions also a restriction upon free competition in the European Union?

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Bordes, Cauquil and Laguiller (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (FR) We must give credit to the explanatory statement of this report for stating, quite openly, that, “Competition policy is clearly one of the most important policies of the European Union.” This is really a polite euphemism for the true state of affairs.

The sole purpose of the European institutions is to try to set some rules for competition. Even if it is regulated, the law of the jungle still applies, which means that, whatever industrial or financial groups hold sway, working class consumers and workers are always the victims. It is significant that the only aspect of State aid to businesses that perturbs the rapporteur is “distortion to competition” and not the fact that this aid always means that the majority of the population is being robbed to help major companies generate private profit for their shareholders.

With regard to company mergers, which the rapporteur hopes that the Commission will assess, such an assessment should describe not only the competitive advantages and the additional benefits that companies gain from them. It would also be useful if the assessment showed how many redundancies they cause, because all the mergers that have been authorised by the Brussels Commission have led to restructuring or, in other words, redundancies. These mergers may have brought profits to the shareholders in the companies involved, but they have also cost their workers, their families and society as a whole very dear.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Crowley (UEN), in writing. – In April 1999, the Commission proposed a wide-ranging reform of the Community system of competition with regard to the application of Article 81 (prohibiting agreements between undertakings) and Article 82 (prohibiting the abuse of dominant position).

The rapporteur generally welcomes the proposals in the Commission White Paper on this subject but is apprehensive of the possible implications of the reform, which aims principally to decentralise the implementation of competition rules. She feels that abolishing the notification and authorisation systems and enhancing the role of national legal systems in disputes concerning Community competition law will lead to the renationalisation of this policy.

While we would not all agree with every aspect of EU competition policy, it has certainly been a successful policy over a period of 43 years and it has helped to prohibit the abuse of dominant positions by companies within the European Union. I would not like to see a situation where the primacy of Community law with regard to the implementation of EU competition rules and regulations was threatened in any shape or form. The uniform application of EU competition laws throughout the EU must be paramount.

Therefore, I welcome the call by the rapporteur to the European Commission to provide additional guarantees concerning the application of competition law within the Member States. This will include, in particular, involving the European Parliament more closely in drawing up and implementing competition policy and monitoring the quality of legislation on competition within the various Member States of the EU and the applicant countries to the EU.

There must be clear mechanisms set up for allocating cases between national authorities and the European Commission in order to prevent shopping around for the most advantageous legal system which might be available for various legal applicants.

In principle, the decentralised application of Community law can only be a success if there are strong commitments given that this will be uniformly applied across all the territories of the European Union.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (PT) This report reflects the European Commission’s policy of giving priority to competition policy, even when, in the name of this policy, workers’ fundamental rights are threatened, or privatisations go ahead. These privatisations turn public-sector companies that are accused of enjoying a monopoly into effective private monopolies and often undermine public services that are essential to improving people’s quality of life, which is what has happened in Portugal.

The social dimension is totally absent from the report and the rapporteur even goes so far as to state that “when examining whether a conduct restricts competition, focus should be on the harm caused to competition, not to the competitors.” Its view is that that “competition cases should be based on economic analysis”. The report also advocates mergers between companies, even between those on a large scale, on the pretext of international competitiveness, but it ignores any social consequences that may result from this situation. We therefore felt bound to vote against the report, which is what we did.

 
  
  

- Jonathan Evans report (A5-0281/2000)

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Fatuzzo (PPE-DE).(IT) Mr President, in order to explain the reasons for my declaration with reservations in favour of the Evans report, I would like, this time, to tell you about a conversation between Carlo and François. They are the same age, 50 years old, and they have been doing the same job for the same number of years. Carlo has invited François to dinner. ‘Why are you inviting me to dinner?’ asks François. And Carlo replies: ‘I am inviting you to dinner because, although I am still a young man – 50 years old – I have been given early retirement by my government. Tomorrow I am not going to work, I will become a pensioner, because my country, Italy, has a system of early retirement. However, I know that you will have to continue to work for another 10 years. That is why I am inviting you to dinner.’

I put it to you once again, Mr President: is this not also a State aid which should be included in the survey?

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  President. Mr Fatuzzo, I am unable to answer that question, for this is an explanation of vote. I am not the executive but rather the President of this House at this moment in time.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Caudron (PSE), in writing. – (FR) During the debate yesterday evening, I welcomed the work of Mr Evans, but I was immediately bound to express my deep disagreement with the rather too liberal, not to say ultraliberal, tenor of his report.

Not only did Mr Evans deny the fact that state aid was cut in the period 1994-1998, even though the Commission itself acknowledged this reduction, but, even more seriously, he continually and obsessively dwelt on the exceptional nature of state aid, even though the Treaty envisages the granting of such aid in order to achieve the objectives established in the Treaties, such as the environment and social cohesion, and even though the Commission itself acknowledges that certain policies cannot be supported by market forces alone.

Hence my recommendation last night not to endorse the report as it stands.

Whilst I could agree with the requests for increased transparency regarding state aid, and for the European Parliament to be informed about the follow-up to aid approved by the Commission, I called for state aid to be maintained in order to develop social cohesion, research and innovation or environmental protection, to offset gaps in the market, to promote European competitiveness in relation to other countries and to confront the fraudulent machinations of competitor countries, such as Korea in the field of shipbuilding.

I added that the supervision of state aid should be carried out within the strict framework of the Treaties’ provisions and not according to the prevailing liberal ideology.

I believe that, somewhere between the ‘all-powerful state’, which nobody wants anymore, and the ‘non-existent state’, which is simply the modern form of the survival of the fittest, this thing that many would call the ‘European social model’ requires us to look for the balance between what can be regulated by the market and what state authorities should regulate!

That is why I put forward and voted for the Socialist Group’s amendments. As the right forced them to fight, I did not vote for the report.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Gallagher (UEN), in writing. – State aids have been traditionally used by Member States as instruments of industrial and social policy. Notwithstanding the move towards greater deregulation within the European Union, state aids can still play a constructive role in achieving social and economic progress.

I am a member of the European Parliament for the constituency of Connaught/Ulster. This whole region has been classified as an Objective 1 area for the seven-year period 2000-2006. If a particular region is accorded such classification then the businesses which set up in that region are entitled to receive a higher percentage of state aid than within a non-Objective 1 region. In fact, one can recall that 40% grant aid is available for fixed investment costs for new businesses setting up within the Objective 1 region in Ireland.

There can also be a further top-up arrangement of 15% for fixed investment costs for small and medium sized enterprises. For the purposes of this grant aid, a small and medium-sized enterprise is a company that employs less then 250 people.

Permission to grant such grant aid to companies setting up in the Objective 1 region serves a very positive economic and social purpose. It ensures that the further drift from rural to urban areas may be arrested. It also ensures that greater inward investment can take place into this region in an effort to bolster job opportunities for young people growing up in such areas.

I welcome the recent statement that radical changes are now being implemented by IDA Ireland in terms of attracting more jobs to the Objective 1 region in Ireland. IDA Ireland has been reorganising that focus so as to win half of all new jobs from Greenfield Projects in the Objective 1 region over the coming three years. This re-focus is beginning to take effect and given time and the implementation of the Government’s Programmes on Infrastructure, as outlined in the National Development Plan for the period 2000-2006, the IDA is certainly confident that it can reach this target for new projects in the Objective 1 region.

There are too many regions presently at a disadvantage from an uncompetitive infrastructure and from the lack of the business support services which are needed if the required level of new and modern business investment is to be achieved. I believe the Regional State Aid Guidelines which have been put in place to help job creation in the Objective 1 region can be implemented in their entirety and will redress regional imbalances which exist in Ireland and elsewhere.

I would also point out that many Irish-speaking areas within the constituency of Connaught/Ulster and Udaras Na Gaeltachta will also be playing a pivotal role in creating new industries in the Objective 1 region over the coming years.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Meijer (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (NL) My opinion of paragraphs 4, 17 and 18 is positive, but is negative on paragraph 2, on the other hand. State aid should certainly not serve as an incentive for companies to relocate from one Member State to another. That would only encourage companies to use government funding to make labour more flexible by constantly moving to the areas with the lowest wages, worst working conditions, lowest prices for land and the most backward environmental requirements. I drew the attention of the European Commission to this issue in July 1999, and received a positive response. I therefore agree with the thrust of paragraph 4 which supports this viewpoint. I am less pleased with the idea expressed in paragraph 2 that state aid should not go up. That aid could well be indispensable to the protection of the environment and public services and to guaranteeing equal income levels for people living in economically disadvantaged regions. I back the criticism voiced with regard to tax exemptions, which fuels unfair competition in favour of aviation, as compared with other modes of transport, and I also support the incentives to save energy and look into renewable energy sources. My final verdict is therefore positive.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Theonas (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (EL) Unbridled competition has become the latest neo-liberal fad. The principle of market rules as the sole form of social regulation tends to do away with man and his creativity as individuals in the economy and the productive process and, more importantly, is indifferent to man’s prosperity and only interested in the welfare of enterprise.

Everyone knows that, even if the rules of competition are transparent and apply to everyone, not that this ever was or ever will be the case, not everyone has access to those rules on equal terms, with the result that the familiar law of the jungle applies, might is right and monopolies rule OK.

Sometimes, when the consequences of this policy cause an outcry, state intervention, aid and other economic and fiscal incentives come along and go some way to restoring the situation.

Intervention does not even break the surface of the capitalist system and often supports selected companies and businesses. However, it is not these “deviations” that are being targeted in the desperate attempt to abolish state aid; its purpose is to increase the profits of strong companies and consolidate their position on the market without any danger from new competitors.

The less developed regions of the EU, the less developed sectors and the poorer social classes know that, without state intervention, the development differential will increase steadily at their expense. They know that, without a strong, productive and efficient public sector, there is no light at the end of the tunnel. They also know that the economy is being restructured and the public sector sold off not for their benefit but in order to support big business and increase its profitability.

Selling off the nation’s silver is one of the quickest ways to weaken the grass roots factor and minimise the means at its disposal. In other words, apart from increasing profitability, it also hands big business an important political weapon to combat grass-roots demands.

We find the constant pressures and concomitant institutional measures, such as the proposed state aid register and scoreboard, unacceptable. There is a danger, once the EU is safely in control of large state aid, of its turning its attention to small-scale aid on the pretext of the competitiveness of small and medium-sized enterprises. Big business is showing, in the choices it is making, that it is seriously worried about the possibility of competitiveness controls by the Member States, not by the Commission of the EU.

The intolerable situation being forced on workers by the choices made by large companies and the EU is already causing widespread reaction. The number of demonstrations against “globalisation” and the rule of the uncontrolled laws of the market is increasing rapidly. Attempts to erode measures to protect workers still further, the attack from all fronts on the rights which they have fought for, in conjunction with attempts to minimise the specific weight of the public sector and the balancing function which state aid can exercise, do nothing except increase grass-roots dissatisfaction and leave workers no choice but to fight and resist.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  President. – That concludes the votes.

(The sitting was suspended at 2.06 p.m. and resumed at 3 p.m.)

 
  
  

IN THE CHAIR: MR ONESTA
Vice-President

 
Last updated: 5 August 2004Legal notice