Index 
Debates
Thursday, 18 January 2007 - Strasbourg OJ edition
1. Opening of the sitting
 2. Documents received: see Minutes
 3. Equality between men and women in the committees' work (debate)
 4. Law applicable to non-contractual obligations ("ROME II") (debate)
 5. Communication of Council common positions: see Minutes
 6. Approval of Minutes of previous sitting: see Minutes
 7. Committee of Inquiry into the crisis of the Equitable Life Assurance Society (extension of mandate): see Minutes
 8. Announcement by the President: see Minutes
 9. Voting time
  9.1. Membership of committees (vote)
  9.2. Amendment of the ACP-EC Partnership Agreement (vote)
  9.3. Development of the Community's railways (vote)
  9.4. Certification of train drivers operating locomotives and trains on the railway system in the Community (vote)
  9.5. International rail passengers' rights and obligations (vote)
  9.6. Law applicable to non-contractual obligations ("ROME II") (vote)
  9.7. Imposition of the death penalty on medical personnel in Libya (vote)
  9.8. Seventh and eighth annual reports on arms exports (vote)
  9.9. European Road Safety Action Programme – Mid-Term Review (vote)
  9.10. Equality between men and women in the committees' work (vote)
 10. Explanations of vote
 11. Corrections to votes and voting intentions: see Minutes
 12. Membership of committees and delegations: see Minutes
 13. Request for waiver of parliamentary immunity: see Minutes
 14. Decisions concerning certain documents: see Minutes
 15. Written statements for entry in the register (Rule 116): see Minutes
 16. Forwarding of texts adopted during the sitting: see Minutes
 17. Dates for next sittings: see Minutes
 18. Adjournment of the session


  

IN THE CHAIR: MRS MORGANTINI
Vice-President

 
1. Opening of the sitting
  

(The sitting was opened at 10 a.m.)

 
  
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  President. I declare the session open.

I am very pleased to have been elected: this is my first time as President of this House. I regard it as absolutely crucial and highly symbolic that I am opening this session with a debate on gender parity and equality. It must be said that our Parliament has made some significant progress, and I hope that it continues to do so.

 

2. Documents received: see Minutes

3. Equality between men and women in the committees' work (debate)
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  President. The next item is the report (A6-0478/2006 ) by Anna Záborská, on behalf of the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality, on gender mainstreaming in the work of the committees (2005/2149(INI) ).

 
  
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  Anna Záborská (PPE-DE ), rapporteur . – (SK ) Over the past few years, the issues of women’s dignity and their mission have taken on a new dimension. This is particularly evident within the framework of the European Union's horizontal policies that have been shaped by the Lisbon Strategy, such as those addressing the demographic challenge and the work–life balance, as well as those combating violence against women.

Recognising the differences between women and men, on the one hand, and nurturing complementarities between them, on the other, may contribute significantly towards enhancing democracy and parliamentarianism, to the benefit of EU citizens. Freedom means more than just the freedom to compete, as the Chancellor, my favourite politician, pointed out yesterday. Women have a special value in a broad and distinctive context inspired mainly by the protection of human rights. On the one hand, this is due to the value of women as human beings with a right to inviolable respect for their basic dignity. On the other hand, this is due to their femininity, irrespective of the cultural context or their spiritual, mental or physical characteristics, such as age, health, education, employment or marital status.

The report on gender mainstreaming within the work of the European Parliament’s committees is the fruit of cooperation in the Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality during the first half of the present term. The report was unanimously approved in the committee, for which I am extremely grateful. In parliamentary committees we do not often enjoy such shared triumphs or the benefits of such a well-targeted approach. At present, the Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality is the most important instrument for supporting the efforts that still need to be undertaken in other committees to ensure genuine equality between women and men.

My committee has come up with the first methodological model that can be applied to assess performance in all parliamentary committees. The model is described in the Explanatory Statement. The data from the questionnaires completed by the committees which responded to our survey were carefully processed by the secretariat of the Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality. If all committees had responded, the evaluation would have been far more comprehensive. All committees should heed our recommendations. Following debates in the Committee on Women’s Rights, a number of amendments were adopted which reinforce the content of the report. I would like, however, to dwell on the three amendments pertaining to paragraphs 8, 21 and 22. In my opinion, these amendments would undermine the powers vested with the Committee for Women's Rights and Gender Equality, and are not entirely consistent with the European Parliament’s Rules of Procedure.

I particularly value the fact that the drafting of the report has fuelled a pluralistic parliamentary debate, highlighting the importance of the underlying problem. I would like to thank all of my fellow MEPs, both women and men, who have been actively involved in this exercise and have helped me to prepare the report.

 
  
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  Lívia Járóka, on behalf of the PPE-DE Group. – (HU) Madam President, the report of the chairwoman, Mrs Záborská, urges us toward an ever greater fulfilment of the most fundamental European issue, our common goal of equality between men and women, here within the walls of the European Parliament, with regard to the division of responsibilities and tasks within the existing parliamentary committees. The question and the way the question is posed is far from unambiguous even within the walls of Parliament, as previous cycles and indeed the most recent one indicate; this is perhaps why the problem has not yet been resolved, even though in recent times the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality has made great efforts to assess the situation and to bring about change.

Integrating the principle of gender equality into the everyday life of society, communicating it to all people, the struggle against established stereotypes, the ever more fruitful use of women’s capacities and knowledge, and our true equality of opportunity remain very distant goals in Europe. This situation comes in for very sharp criticism by the rapporteur in the European Parliament.

In my experience, scepticism here in Parliament with regard to the question of gender equality is in many cases the consequence of the fact that equality of opportunity is still erroneously regarded by most people as a struggle in which one group – in this case men – surrender power and privileges in the interests of another group – in this case women.

The European Parliament is an institution that sets an example, and it can maintain and strengthen this status only if in the course of our daily parliamentary work we fully represent, in our professional committees as well, those principles and directives which we are struggling to realise on a European level, and which we set down as standards for the Member States.

We would like to see women in as many committee positions as possible. The European political parties must strive to promote the participation of women in public life, to put more women forward for election, and here in Parliament they should encourage and create fairer and more equal representation. The European Parliament must set an example. In each policy area, from planning through evaluation, and for all practical questions before Parliament, we must keep the promotion of equal opportunities for men and women at the centre of our attention. The struggle over committee positions and the Year of Equal Opportunities for All, in my view, provide an excellent framework right now for this purpose.

 
  
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  Britta Thomsen, on behalf of the PSE Group. (DA) Madam President, excuse my being late, but I had to speak somewhere else. I should like to start by thanking the rapporteur for this very important report, and I want to say how necessary it is for us to take this issue seriously. We have just witnessed our election of 14 deputy chairmen here in Parliament, only three of whom are women. We are in the process of electing chairmen and deputy chairmen for all of Parliament’s committees, and I think that we should have a policy on gentleman streaming where our own political appointments are concerned. Thank you very much for the work done on the report. I hope that it will be followed up.

 
  
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  Siiri Oviir, on behalf of the ALDE Group.(ET) Madam President, first of all I would like to wish you luck and success in your new and important position. This year is a year of equal opportunities in the European Union, and thus it is a year for us all: men and women.

Today we are discussing gender mainstreaming in the context of the work of our own commissions. And I would like to draw attention to the fact that this is the first document in the political work of the parliamentary commissions to be devoted to the concrete assessment of gender mainstreaming.

Here I would like to thank rapporteur Mrs Anna Záborská for her expert work.

In a few months we will be celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Rome. Pursuant to Article 2 of the Treaty Establishing the European Economic Community, equality between men and women is a fundamental principle of community law – I emphasise that this fundamental principle, and thus also its advancement, is the indisputable task of the community.

The Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms has been signed by all Member States of the European Union. I ask you: why do we not implement it? Why do we not have a functioning supervisory mechanism and effective measures to carry out and guarantee what has been decided upon?

These decisions were made half a century ago. Parliament still passes new documents on the same topic every year, in which it emphasises, undertakes and requires. In the document under discussion, however, we must recognise today, in the year 2007, that women are underrepresented in our own parliamentary administration in the bodies that make political decisions.

Finally, I would ask that all of us who have been elected to the highest level of European politics should be decisive and put an end to the wasting of already poor human resources and potential. In our actions, let us accept women as equals to men, whether in the making of political decisions or on pay day.

Equal rights must become the law not only on paper, but also in everyday life. This will also be the key to the successful implementation of the Lisbon Strategy.

 
  
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  President. You have congratulated me, and I congratulate those few men present in the House for this debate on gender equality because I believe that their presence is crucial when it comes to opposing the discrimination that still exists.

 
  
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  Roberta Angelilli, on behalf of the UEN Group.(IT) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, I truly wish you all the very best for your first day as President.

However, there is still a great deal left to do where women’s rights are concerned; we have a long history of parliamentary work behind us, and it is precisely for that reason that we recognise how increasingly important it is to ensure that gender-related aspects are genuinely integrated into the work of the committees, and integrated in an effective and operational manner. If we look at the reality of the situation, there are many problems to be resolved, and the figures are quite clear: it is still exceedingly difficult for women to enter and participate in political and institutional life, and that is without mentioning the endless unresolved problems they have in actually reconciling their working lives with their family lives. That is precisely why, if we are to attempt to do away with the inequalities, we need to intervene openly in every action and policy carried out by the Union.

Furthermore, the rapporteur − whom I thank for her excellent work – has done well to highlight the fact that there is still not a suitable culture encouraging women to participate in political life. I should like to give an example: in Italy there is no law on the so-called pink quotas, and, personally, I am not convinced that quotas are necessarily the best system. However, in Italy, parties that have freely decided to include more women on their lists of candidates, such as the party to which I belong, have actually seen an increase in the number of female politicians represented in parliament, and this is a positive development − it is an example of good practice that should be exported, nay, imposed at Community level. To conclude, I expect all the Community institutions and, in particular, the German Presidency, to put women back in the spotlight and to launch a genuine European family pact.

 
  
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  Satu Hassi, on behalf of the Verts/ALE Group . (FI) Madam President, I too wish to thank the rapporteur, Mrs Záborská, for the excellent work she has done. I would also like to congratulate the President on her election.

It is excellent that the European Parliament has made it compulsory for the committees to implement gender mainstreaming. This is a process that is bound to take a long time, and it is important that the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality is heading the project. I know that there are also those in Parliament that are doubtful about all this, and I feel that in most cases it is those very people who need to be educated in the matter of equality.

When I was made responsible for this issue in the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety, I asked the Committee on Women’s Rights to specify those tasks that had to be accomplished in gender mainstreaming, and the committee produced the questionnaire in a form that was instructive and very welcome. I drafted a preliminary proposal for the Committee on the Environment based on this questionnaire. There are still no decisions on it, but I will be proposing in my committee, for example, that every year the Committee on Women’s Rights should produce statistics on the gender distribution among coordinators and rapporteurs and in the secretariat. I will also propose that a pilot project should be set up to establish mainstreaming in particular and to identify areas where especially close cooperation should be engaged in with the Committee on Women’s Rights. In my view, the Committee on Women’s Rights could produce for the plenary sessions more concrete draft resolutions than these on what the committees should be doing. I believe that this issue should be taken forward in the most effective way possible, so that plenary can both make binding decisions and recommendations on what should be done on the committee.

Finally, I would like to say that the political groups should also be paying heed to gender equality. It is the political groups that will have the main role in deciding how equality is to be implemented when they elect their chairs and fill the posts of chair and deputy chair of committees in negotiations between groups.

 
  
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  Eva-Britt Svensson, on behalf of the GUE/NGL Group. (SV) Thank you, Madam President. Please accept my most sincere congratulations on your new appointment as Vice-President. I am very pleased indeed.

The current report rightly states that there is still an imbalance between women and men in all areas of society. The evaluation of the ways in which the committees have so far complied with Parliament’s decision that the gender equality perspective should always permeate our work shows, unsurprisingly, that there is still an incredible amount to be done before we can say that the equality perspective really has been integrated into our work. This is not news. There are many of us who, in the general run of our daily work, experience the inequality between men and women and the unequal conditions that apply to us. That is not something peculiar to the European Parliament. We are forced to observe that, whether we are talking about parliamentary work or about the way in which society operates in general, economic and political power is in practice still the province of the one gender, that is to say of men. Despite all our talk about the importance of gender equality, it is clearly easier to talk about it than to implement it in practical terms.

We need a variety of instruments in order to tackle issues of gender equality and take steps to bring such equality about. Such instruments include education and knowledge. If we are to change things, we need to clarify the power structures. We are therefore looking forward to the work of the Institute for Gender Equality. Among the tools with which it will be able to provide us are more widely shared knowledge, together with statistics broken down according to gender. Another important tool when it comes to gender equality is education. It is important for us to allow officials to continue with their further training on the integration of the gender equality perspective. What is just as important, however, is that Members of the European Parliament too should receive training in equality. It is not true to say that, as elected politicians, we automatically have a sufficient knowledge of gender equality and the integration of the gender equality perspective. This is, however, a situation that we can do something about. We can vote in favour of the proposal in the report that gender equality training should be arranged for all MEPs before the next term of office. I urge you to vote for this in the report. Thank you.

 
  
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  Derek Roland Clark, on behalf of the IND/DEM Group . Madam President, the previous speaker has just made reference, regretfully, apparently, to lots of jobs in politics going to the stronger people – the men. She obviously never met Mrs Thatcher!

Why cannot these reports be written in plain language? The term ‘gender mainstreaming’ occurs throughout the report; what is that? Is it some kind of political correctness? Paragraph 16, which is all about filling vacancies in EU institutions, says that gender mainstreaming is ‘to be taken into account’. Does that mean specific jobs for men and specific jobs for women?

Paragraph 1 calls for ‘gender equality […] which does not set women against men’. Does that mean men and women cannot apply for the same job in case it sets the one against the other?

Recital A states that some committees ‘never take an interest’ in gender mainstreaming. Goodness, what do we do about that? But, wait a bit, there are some facts and figures to go with the jargon. Recital F refers to the ‘continuous increase in the percentage of female Members of the European Parliament, from 17.5 % in 1979 to 30.33 % in 2004’. But, then, recital G notes that, in EU administration, ‘women are under-represented in positions of responsibility’ where political decisions are taken. Clearly, we are leading to reverse discrimination. Any kind of discrimination is not only thoroughly bad, but surely goes against all that the EU stands for.

Inevitably, you then move on to quotas, but the report also calls for the dignity of women. In Britain, other political parties have women-only candidate lists. What kind of dignity is that? Our party does not do it. In the situation under consideration here, what happens if not enough women apply to satisfy the quota? Do you leave the post unfilled?

I suppose, now, some people will think they have got some kind of raving chauvinist on their hands – not so. I am a teacher, I taught for 39 years and I did so happily with many women. I worked for women in teaching, very happily – no problem. I respected them all. I simply believe that women should have no bar to going for qualifications and should apply for posts on a totally equal basis. Anything else, like this report, is demeaning to women, and any self-respecting woman should find this report offensive. I ask Members to dismiss it with their vote.

 
  
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  Irena Belohorská (NI ).(SK) In 1993, the UN General Assembly in Vienna stated for the first time the principle that human rights include the rights of women, and that the protection of those rights was a priority objective.

The Beijing Platform for Action later recognised gender equality as a major objective and identified 12 critical areas of concern. Let me mention but a few of them: women and poverty; education; women and health; violence against women; armed conflicts; women and the mass media; the participation of women in decision-making processes and in political and social structures.

Notwithstanding the multitude of institutions active in the enforcement of these instruments, including the UN, Council of Europe, OSCE and the European Union, one can conclude that today gender equality is only implemented de jure, not de facto .

We often seek an excuse in the percentages of women in various organisations. What we fail to observe, however, is that those percentages primarily reflect a presence at the lower or lowest levels of an institution. The higher up we climb the management ladder, the fewer women we find there. I believe that the tried-and-tested principle applies in this case also: if we want to bring about change, let us begin with ourselves. This is perhaps why the report drawn up by my fellow MEP, Mrs Záborská, is so important.

In the European Parliament we can also say that, percentage-wise, the representation of women has improved in comparison with the past. We should realise, however, that women typically fill lower positions, be it in the European Parliament or the secretariats. Moreover, I daresay that within the secretariats we have implemented the gender equality principle fully, as women enjoy a majority there. But is it the case that in the European Parliament the old prejudices still prevail, according to which women make good wives, mothers, mistresses, secretaries, cooks or even cleaning ladies, but not senior executives ? It is regrettable that the only speech made so far by a male Member of this House has been of the sort we have all witnessed before.

 
  
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  Edit Bauer (PPE-DE ). – (SK ) Madam President, I too would like to congratulate you on your election to this position. Thefact that you are presiding over this very debate may well be indicative.

I would like to express my admiration for the rapporteur for the clarity she brings to her description in the report of how equal opportunities are being implemented in this Parliament. She does not claim that there is nothing left to be done in this Parliament regarding the promotion of equal opportunities. On the contrary, she says clearly that gender mainstreaming has been well formulated and reflected in resolutions passed by Parliament, as well as directives adopted by the European Community, and it has also been institutionalised in the working groups and committees. In terms of substance, however, interest in the topic has been confined to committees pledging to train their secretariats in gender mainstreaming. It seems that some of my fellow Members are also in need of such training.

I would like to draw your attention to the fact that, in this Parliament, we often tend to underestimate the implications of the problem that remain to be resolved. The ageing of Europe will be an impossible problem to solve unless we revise our approach to gender mainstreaming. There can be no doubt that overhauling and modernising pension schemes will not in itself suffice. At present the underlying problems appear to exist on two levels at the same time. Firstly, the philosophical approach taken by political elites leads to indirect discrimination as a result of the application of the so-called civic principle, which clearly results in discrimination and a lack of equal opportunities. Secondly, there are absolutely no practical initiatives aimed at reconciling the demands of work with those of family life, which creates dramatic differences in the opportunities that are available to men and women as a result of existing stereotypes which are difficult to overcome.

In view of the seriousness of the challenge that Europe is facing due to demographic changes, I strongly believe that the European Parliament should be working much more closely with national parliaments on matters of gender mainstreaming. In my opinion, the European Year of Equal Opportunities for All offers an appropriate framework for that.

 
  
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  Lissy Gröner (PSE ).(DE) Madam President, I, too, am glad to see you in the Chair today, and warmly congratulate you on your election. So far, this debate has been conducted in the absence of the Commission and the Council, and that was only right and proper. Its subject is the practical implementation of gender mainstreaming in the committees, and, more specifically, the first interim report following on from the report I produced and which was adopted in 2003.

This report highlights very well how we should implement gender mainstreaming in this House, and, while it was right that we should concern ourselves with this, I do now rather fear that we have missed an opportunity, since we are all talking about everything under the sun except what we can do in this Parliament of ours.

What has become of its Paragraph 1, with its action plan for a policy of gender mainstreaming, that is to say, equality in every evaluation and analysis and the new development of concepts for the equality of women and men in Parliament? There is still a very great deal left to be done, and no actual plan of action.

And what of the second, with its priorities for equality issues and a high-level working party? This working party has done its job very well, and the right procedure was followed, in that reports were produced by all the committees. As we have heard from the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety, some of the Vice-Chairmen of committees have done very good work, but what they did was sometimes exposed to ridicule.

What has become of our demand for women in decision-making positions within Parliament? No definite action has been taken to make that happen. The groups and the national delegations treated this demand with varying degrees of seriousness, but no proper strategy has been forthcoming.

What, then, of the analysis of the Budget procedure? Here, too, no definite action has been taken, although the policy of gender budgeting was meant to have been given tangible form. What progress has been made towards achieving an effective press and information strategy – something else that we called for in 2003 – which is another area where there are still considerable deficits?

Now that we are to conduct a proper analysis and evaluation, I very much hope that we will be helped, in the analysis of the committees, by the European Institute for Gender Equality, which we have recently voted to set up.

It is to be regretted, though, that the report has far from enough to say about the state of affairs in the groups, the delegations and the substance of policies, and so I should like to see us taking a more ambitious approach and managing, by 2009 – when elections are due – to achieve real agreements that make gender mainstreaming possible and put women in positions of leadership.

Grateful though I am for the work that has been done, we must still make very considerable effort to get anywhere near achieving the goal that we set ourselves in the 2003 report.

 
  
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  Danutė Budreikaitė (ALDE ). (LT) Gender equality in the EU is one of the most important democratic values, enabling freedom of self-expression and interpersonal relations on the basis of full equality. However, this value has not yet been fully implemented: women are discriminated against in recruitment for jobs, and they are paid significantly lower wages than men for the same work. The issues of gender equality and an integrated outlook on gender equality are widespread and topical, both at the member country level and at the European Union level. I congratulate the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality on having initiated this study and having prepared a report about an integrated outlook on gender equality in the work of the European Parliament’s committees. The committees were assessed on the basis of a completed questionnaire, which reflected each committee’s outlook and activities in forming gender equality strategy, implementing an integrated outlook on gender, and implementing gender consultation and cooperation activity. In the Development Cooperation Committee, where I am responsible for gender integration issues, there were no particular discussions. The committee works more on gender expertise and consultation issues with NGOs and developing countries.

It is my understanding that the gender integration issue mostly encounters difficulties in the committee because of the d’Hondt system used in the European Parliament. When this system is applied, even when 30% of parliamentarians are women, the women of the smaller parties realistically have very little chance of preparing a report or an opinion. This also deprives women of the opportunity to demonstrate their abilities and to express their viewpoints on issues vital to their nations, the European Union and the world. Even though the system itself is supposed to give small parties the opportunity to present legislative documents, in reality this is hard to put into practice. When monitoring the implementation of an integrated outlook on gender equality, this issue should be looked at in a broader context – the context of the European Parliament’s work rules, which need to be improved.

 
  
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  Jan Tadeusz Masiel (UEN ). – (PL) Madam President, nature determined that there should be two types of human being, the male and the female, though they are both of equal value and importance. Whether we like it or not, every culture fashioned mainly by religion, be it Islamic, Jewish or Christian culture, understands the relationship between men and women in its own particular way. These relationships are constantly evolving and improving as time goes by. The existence of a Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality in the European Parliament and the report before the House today mark a high point in that process of evolution.

This evolution must not, however, be allowed to become a revolution. We must not attempt to impose an artificial male-female relationship by force. It is obviously important to ensure that men and women can enjoy the same opportunities for development, but it is not appropriate to impose artificial quotas of any kind. I have in mind, for example, quotas for involvement in public life. I believe the training and awareness-raising referred to in the report will prove helpful, but the introduction of quotas would amount to discrimination against better candidates in favour of worse ones, and could prove detrimental to the cause of women in the future.

There is nothing finer than the diversity of nature and culture we see all around us, and no greater source of inspiration for humankind. I believe that the differences between men and women are the fount of life.

 
  
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  Sylvia-Yvonne Kaufmann (GUE/NGL ).(DE) Madam President, I warmly congratulate you on your election. I wish to express my support for this report, which I do not believe contains anything that goes against this House's Rules of Procedure, and my thanks to the rapporteur, Mrs Záborská, for the very good cooperation over the last two and a half years. I was a member of the previous Bureau with responsibility for equality issues, and we joined in the Bureau’s high-level working party with Mrs Roth-Behrendt, Mrs Lulling and Mrs Gröner, as well as with Mr Friedrich and Mr Daul, in promoting gender mainstreaming in the work of our committees. I should like to express my appreciation to you all, and it goes without saying that I would like also to thank the administration staff, in particular those in the department of DG Personnel responsible for equality of opportunity.

I am certain that the newly-elected Bureau will continue the work of the working party without interruption and with the same committed attitude, and it can do its work on a sound basis, for the former Bureau recently adopted, unanimously, my report on the development of equality of opportunity between 2002 and 2006, which formulated ambitious objectives to be achieved by 2009, including a marked increase in the proportion of women in leadership positions in this House, in particular in middle and top management. We will be taking further steps to better enable our staff to balance work and family life, and will be more careful in future to use gender-neutral language in the conduct of this House’s business.

It was the Bureau that first took action on gender budgeting, which is to be a task for all of us in this House in 2008. I hope we will be able to arrange the necessary training and retraining for all Members.

 
  
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  Sylwester Chruszcz (NI ). – (PL)  Madam President, I too would like to congratulate you as you take up such an important role.

Equality for women can never be guaranteed by legal provisions alone. It stands to reason that discrimination against women on the grounds of their gender must not be condoned in any circumstances. It cannot be allowed in the work of the committees or in any other context. Left-wing and liberal groupings tend to focus unduly on the fine detail of such matters. It must be borne in mind that respect for women is not achieved through legal provisions. It comes about solely as a result of family upbringing.

I belong to The League of Polish Families, and we are certainly aware of the problem of discrimination against women. At the level of national legislation, we are putting forward a range of legal provisions to benefit women and mothers. We support and promote the role of women in politics and society. Women have an important role to play in this House too. We also support the effort to eliminate all cases of violation of women’s dignity and freedom.

The debate on gender equality is an important one, but it cannot be allowed to lead to an ideological conflict in which men and women pit themselves against each other instead of working together, resulting in the emergence of a new kind of dogma. There is a fundamental question that arises from time to time. Is all this really about equality, equal rights and human dignity, or is it in fact about creating a new ideology? Is that what we are about in this House too? In my view and in the view of the League of Polish Families, special legal provisions are needed. Such provisions should, however, be designed not only to ensure equal treatment for men and women, but also to protect the latter.

 
  
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  Zita Pleštinská (PPE-DE ). – (SK ) Madam President, I would like to congratulate you on your election to this position, as well as on the fact that the first debate over which you are presiding happens to be about women. Ladies and gentlemen, I congratulate the rapporteur, Mrs Záborská, for her well-balanced report, and at the same time I would like to thank her for the excellent work she has been doing as chairman of the Committee for Women’s Rights and Gender Equality.

I agree that it is imperative for women to be represented in the executive bodies of the European Parliament which take political decisions. I also welcome the efforts to incorporate gender mainstreaming into the practical work of all of the committees of the European Parliament. It is important to encourage interest in the topic on the part of the committees, and to ensure that they pay adequate attention to gender mainstreaming.

Gender mainstreaming is not a strategy to be implemented in one fell swoop; it is like a thread which should be woven through the entire political process in order to incorporate a gender equality aspect into all community policies on all levels.

The gender equality requirement should express itself in a practical approach that does not pit men and women against each other. More emphasis on the importance of men’s engagement in gender mainstreaming will add to the significance of issues previously considered to be the exclusive domain of women. The political groups in the European Parliament could play a very important role in the process by promoting women’s participation in public life, for example, by encouraging women to stand as candidates in elections for the European Parliament and national parliaments.

I strongly believe that in 2007, which is the European Year of Equal Opportunities for All, the European Parliament should provide an example through its own organisational structures of how gender equality is part and parcel of the political routine pursued here for the benefit of society, based on non-discrimination, tolerance, equality and solidarity. I trust that the Member States will subscribe to this appeal and will echo it through the implementation of gender mainstreaming policies.

 
  
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  Zita Gurmai (PSE ).(HU) It is natural, is it not, that procreation, childrearing, caring for the sick and the elderly, keeping the family together, as well as health care, education and social services are unimaginable without the participation of women? This is true in almost every area of life. How, then, can we take decisions on any question or pass any law or regulation without taking into account their distinctive points of view?

It is an important goal for the policy of gender equality in the long term to be incorporated into all policy areas and to be present at all levels. Mrs Záborská’s report is the first one to address an integrated approach to equal opportunity – many thanks for this.

Although the committees pay greater attention in their work to the perspectives of gender equality, yet to this day not a single body has laid down among the fundamental principles of its work the demands of equal opportunity. The strategic basis is lacking: more women, but without more significant positions? In our parliamentary committees we need to take more seriously the need to fulfil the demands of equal opportunity for men and women, and for this to happen we need to ensure adequate training and information. This must not be allowed to set men against women; we must strive, instead, to make sure everyone recognises that the expression of women’s viewpoints is in the interests of men as well.

 
  
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  Piia-Noora Kauppi (PPE-DE ). – Madam President, I am very proud that we now have the first female first-Vice-President. I wish to congratulate you, as we now have some women in the main body of the European Parliament.

I welcome this report on gender mainstreaming in the committees. Is it unique? It is unique of its kind. I should like to thank the rapporteur in particular for her excellent work.

It is of the utmost importance that the European Parliament uses its influential position in the Community to support and promote gender equality through healthy self-examination of its own methods of working. The right to non-discrimination is protected by several European treaties, in particular the Charter of Fundamental Rights. Nevertheless, we need to continue developing the legal instruments in order to protect everyone – man or woman – from discrimination based on gender.

Coming from a country, Finland, with a long history of working for equal opportunities for men and women, I was very pleased with the findings of the report by the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality. It showed that most of the committees, at least, attach some importance to gender mainstreaming.

However, I would underline that we still have a long way to go. I support the ideas put forward by Ms Járóka, for example that all committees should have female members.

Even though the number of women in the European Parliament continues to increase, inequality continues to exist when it comes to the really important positions in the political bodies, such as committee chairs, etc. I therefore urge each and every committee to put gender mainstreaming into practice in its own work, since this is one way of enabling women to take part fully in the decision-making processes of the EU.

Finally, I should like to emphasise the need for specific data broken down by gender. After all, that is the only way really to evaluate how we are doing and what still needs to be done. Such gender-based statistics are very important for our future work.

 
  
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  Teresa Riera Madurell (PSE ). – (ES) Madam President, I would like to begin by congratulating you on your election, and also Mrs Záborská on the work she has done on her report, which unfortunately once again points out that also in the public institutions there continues to be inequalities between men and women in positions of responsibility.

If our objective is to achieve full equality in society, we must offer an example of our own political commitment in the European institutions, and in the European Parliament in particular. An integrated approach to gender equality in our work and more women in positions of responsibility are therefore two issues that should be taken very seriously by all of the bodies in our Parliament.

This report has the merit of being a document by our institution that takes one further step in this direction, but it should be followed up on, setting clear objectives to be achieved, the methods for achieving them, the people responsible for working towards achieving them, and carrying out periodic assessments that enable us to identify, on the one hand, any achievements, and on the other, the reasons why they may not have been achieved.

Only through constant and rigorous work by everybody in this institution will we be able create true equality between men and women.

 
  
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  Marie Panayotopoulos-Cassiotou (PPE-DE ).(EL) Madam President, I congratulate you and all your male and female colleagues on your new office.

According to the fundamental principle of Community law on equality set out in Article 2 of the Treaty and the ambition to wipe out inequalities between men and women on the basis of the principle of an integrated approach to equality laid down in Article 3(2), the European Parliament made a political commitment in its resolution to acquire an institutional framework for this purpose.

The momentum was created back in 2005 by the Committee on Women's Rights and Equality and with the work carried out by the High-Level Group on Gender Equality. Under the inspired guidance of President Záborská, and with substantial contributions from the representatives of all 21 parliamentary committees in charge of equality issues and their secretariats, today, in the Year of Equal Opportunities for All, the first document of the EP embodying its political commitment to self-criticism as regards the application of an integrated approach has been submitted for approval.

The findings were made using an unprecedented method for the European Parliament, an inventive method which was developed in order to map the current situation. It is positive that, even though several committees laid down their priorities without a strategy on our issue, they are in favour of incorporating equality issues.

The report stipulates how mainstreaming will be achieved, in accordance with the plan which we are voting today to instruct the Committee on Women's Rights to prepare by the end of this parliamentary session. Of course, we shall all need to go to crammer school before then, both employees and parliamentarians, so that we can develop suitable evaluation mechanisms to take account of the peculiarities of each parliamentary committee and ensure that policies are complementary and consistent and combine Members' responsibilities and interests.

Consolidating control of the integrated approach twice per legislative term will provide an opportunity for qualitative and quantitative appraisal. It is a question of justice and I welcome the fact that the Commissioner responsible for justice is with us. We must not criticise the failure to promote women to decision-taking positions; we must criticise the fact that worthy women are prevented from competing with worthy men. We are calling, Commissioner, for rights to be restored and for a meritocracy to be set up in which men and women are equal.

 
  
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  Lidia Joanna Geringer de Oedenberg (PSE ). – (PL)  Madam President, the European Parliament represents European society, which is made up of 492 million individuals and 27 countries. The House does not accurately reflect the social structure of the society it represents, however, as the percentage of female MEPs is barely 30%. This is far too low. Only 13% of Polish MEPs are women, and there is not a single female MEP representing Malta and Cyprus.

The situation regarding administrative positions of responsibility in the European Parliament’s political decision-making bodies is equally unsatisfactory. Most of the committees are favourably inclined towards gender equality issues, but in practice they fail to take them into account when setting their political priorities. Against this background, it is worth highlighting the significance of the creation of a High-Level Group on Gender Equality. This group is also charged with working beyond the European Parliament and encouraging Member States to implement gender equality policies effectively.

Political parties and groups have a vital role to play in enabling women to participate fully in political life. Certain groups and parties have already successfully applied a quota system to lists of candidates for public office. The remainder should follow their example, so as to ensure that gender equality will actually become a reality across the Union in the future and not remain merely wishful thinking.

In conclusion, I should like to congratulate Mrs Záborska on a very well prepared document. I would also like to congratulate you, Madam President, on the occasion of your assuming your important role. As a woman, I am delighted to see you in office.

 
  
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  Ljudmila Novak (PPE-DE ).(SL) A society where both sexes enjoy equality, develops more successfully than one controlled by the members of one sex. However, as a result of natural dispositions, certain occupations remain that are better and more easily done by men and others by women.

However, we have known for a long time that men and women can prove themselves equally capable of performing leading jobs or carrying out political duties. So why is it then necessary to adopt a report on gender equality when we live in the European Union, the most democratic society in the world and which has set itself the highest standards of democracy?

It has been confirmed through my own experience that this work is more than necessary, even in the European Union. In various documents we are imposing new duties on our citizens, but when it comes to the allocation of prestigious political positions in our Parliament, there is a ruthless struggle going on.

Gender equality and the equality of small and large States can easily be achieved with the d’Hondt method. I am happy to be a member of the PPE-DE Group, but I am not happy with the allocation of seats. If a woman finds the courage to put herself forward for a leading position, she has to withdraw her candidature if another female candidate puts herself forward for the same position, so that at least one woman can get herself elected amongst the crowds of men.

We should not put forward female candidates just because they are women but because we have among us many capable women who have already and on many occasions proved their merit in practice. I do not wish to lay all the blame on men. We women, too, must become more ambitious and not merely be the performers of the tasks entrusted to us. Before we impose legal obligations and recommendations on our citizens, let us examine how we are fulfilling them ourselves.

 
  
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  Inger Segelström (PSE ). – (SV) Madam President, I wish to thank the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality, together with Mrs Záborská, for an excellent initiative and an excellent report. Following this debate, I have to observe, however, that the men who participated put forward some antediluvian views. It really is very sad indeed.

A lot has already been said in this debate, and I want to spend the time I have on a number of issues of principle. Parliament will never obtain integrated committees, half of whose committee draftsmen or chairmen are women, until half the Members of the European Parliament are women. I speak from experience. In Sweden, it was only when, in 1994, we had a situation in which half of our politicians and Members of the Swedish Parliament were women that we were able to implement major reforms. Many women in the European Parliament’s committees have problems combining parliamentary and family responsibilities. As long as Parliament does not offer parents any opportunity of remaining at home, using parents’ insurance, and of obtaining benefits and people to replace them at work, we shall have a gender equality problem. One of the strengths of the report is that it both discusses and proposes measures affecting officials and ourselves as MEPs, but I should like to see more targets and more measures affecting employees in the next report. I should also like to see a debate on how and when we women are to comprise half the number of MEPs.

 
  
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  President. I should like to thank everyone for their congratulations. I regard it as highly symbolic that the first debate over which I have presided is on the report on equal opportunities.

The debate is closed.

The vote will take place on Thursday at 12 noon.

 

4. Law applicable to non-contractual obligations ("ROME II") (debate)
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  President. The next item is the debate on the recommendation for second reading (A6-0481/2006 ), on behalf of the Committee on Legal Affairs, on the Council common position (9751/7/2006 – C6-0317/2006 – 2003/0168(COD) ) for adopting a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the law applicable to non-contractual obligations ("ROME II") (Rapporteur: Diana Wallis).

 
  
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  Diana Wallis (ALDE ), rapporteur . Madam President, Commissioner, ROME II has been a long journey for us all and, whilst we might have hoped that this was the end, it seems likely that we are just at another staging post.

Let me start by saying that we appreciate that the common position took on board some of our ideas from the first reading. Commissioner, I also want to emphasise the importance that we attach to this regulation, providing, as it will, the ground plan, or roadmap, which will provide clarity and certainty for the basis of civil law claims across Europe. We need this, and we, here in Parliament, want to get it done, but it has to be done in the right way. This has to fit the aspirations and needs of those we represent. This is not just some theoretical academic exercise; we are making political choices about balancing the rights and expectations of parties before civil courts.

I am sorry that we have not reached an agreement at this stage. I still believe that it could have been possible, with more engagement and assistance. Perhaps it is because both the other institutions are not used to Parliament having codecision in this particular area – I am sorry, but you will have to get used to it!

I also want to thank all my colleagues in the political groups in the Committee on Legal Affairs, who have stuck together with me on this long journey and supported a common view, which, subject to sufficient presence in this Chamber today, will be clearly shown in our vote.

Now let me detail the points that still separate us. We have always made it clear that we prefer a general rule, with as few exceptions as possible. If we must have exceptions, they must be clearly defined. Thus, we have accepted the position on product liability. However, problems still remain in respect of unfair competition and the environment.

With unfair competition, we also face a simultaneous proposal from Commissioner Kroes. The two proposals must work together; currently they do not. We have tried to present a more acceptable formulation, which, sadly, I think is unlikely to succeed here at today’s vote, and I would therefore urge colleagues to support the deletion, to allow us to return to this at conciliation and do the work properly.

It is the same with the environment. I know and deeply respect the fact that many would like a separate rule, but it should not be a rule just for the sake of a headline. It should be a rule that is clear in terms of what facts it applies to. Given that we already have several possible formulations, the safest course, again, I would urge, is the general rule. This would also allow us to delete the separate rule today and return to the definition at conciliation.

Now I come to the two big issues for this Parliament. The first is defamation. Please understand that we know only too well how difficult an issue this is. However, we managed to get a huge majority at first reading across this House, and you will likely see a similar pattern repeated here today. That the Commission decided to exclude this issue before we could consider it again was disappointing, to say the least. That it did so on the basis of a clear two-year review clause, which has now been abandoned, is unacceptable. We know the issues surrounding this area of media and communication will only increase and continue to haunt us. Maybe we cannot deal with it now, but we will soon be looking at Brussels I again, and it is imperative that jurisdiction and applicable law remain in step. So, would we deprive ourselves of the opportunity to look at this again? Exclusion may truly be the only answer, but this Parliament wants to try a little bit more to see if we cannot resolve this.

I turn to the issue that my colleagues have been most tenacious in their support for (and I am very grateful for that): damages in road-traffic accidents. Commissioner, we have the support of insurers, the support of legal practitioners, the support of victims, the support of those we represent, but somehow we cannot transmit these concerns to the Commission or to the Council.

Even last week, I was confronted by a very senior justice ministry official who thought that what we were trying to do was the equivalent of applying German law to determine liability in respect of a road-traffic accident which had happened in the UK, where, of course, we drive on the ‘wrong’ side of the road. Do you really think we are that stupid? I wish people would have the courtesy to read and understand what we are suggesting: merely the accepted principle of restitutio in integrum – to put victims back in the position they were in before the incident. There should be nothing so fearful in this. Indeed, the illogical approach would be for a judge in the victim’s country to be able to deal with the case by virtue of the Motor Insurance Directives and Brussels I, and then have to apply a foreign, outside law in respect of damages. This, indeed, would be illogical – and that is the situation we are currently in. Please look at what we are saying and appreciate that, given the even the greater mobility of our citizens on Europe’s roads, this matter needs attention, sooner rather than later, and a four-year general review clause just will not do.

My last hope is that our debates will have brought the subject of private international law out of the dusty cupboards in justice ministries and expert committees into the glare of public, political, transparent debate. Therefore, all we ask is that you bear with us a little longer so that, together, the institutions of Europe can get this right.

 
  
  

IN THE CHAIR: MR ONESTA
Vice-President

 
  
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  Franco Frattini, Vice-President of the Commission . (FR) Mr President, I should first like to thank Mrs Wallis for her report. As you know, we have been discussing this proposal for three and a half years, and I feel that, following the improvements made by Parliament and the Council at the two reading stages, this project has now reached maturity, if I may put it that way. Firstly, it would appear that those working in the economic and legal fields are very much looking forward to this regulation that is essential for legal certainty, and secondly, it would appear that this text is of vital importance for the construction of the European area of justice and for the smooth running of the European internal market. This is why your vote, ladies and gentlemen, represents a crucial step for the future of this issue.

The best solution would, to my mind, be to proceed without the conciliation procedure, although were this procedure to prove inevitable, the Commission would deem it essential for all the conditions to be in place after your vote for it to adopt a satisfactory text. I remain confident that a favourable solution can be found with Parliament’s support.

Like you, Mrs Wallis, I regret the absence of special rules on defamation in the Council common position. We reluctantly accepted the removal of that rule. Why? Because it has not been possible to reach a compromise on a text. I should like to point out that over ten different options were on Council’s table in April 2006, not one of which has any chance of success, either now or, probably, in the future.

You will also know that the revision clause has no chance of success. I firmly believe that to accept a provision that cannot obtain even the slightest consensus between the institutions, as several members of the Committee on Legal Affairs have stated, would be to reopen a can of worms. Another important point is that the number of international lawsuits in this area is very limited. Perhaps you know that even associations representing the press ultimately accepted this exclusion in a message sent to me a few days ago.

You touched on other key issues, for example the removal of other special rules on competition and the environment. To be frank, I find it difficult to accept the removal of the special rules in these areas. Special rules are not always appropriate for every situation, but when it comes to competition, the special rule is, in my view, vitally important, because it clarifies the general rule for locating the market concerned. I therefore welcome the fact that the rapporteur from a major political group will now advocate retaining special rules of this kind and will support this drafting proposal. As regards the environment, the special rule is aimed at preventing environmental dumping, and, in the current political climate, the Commission is the guarantor of a very high level of environmental protection. I believe that Rome II can contribute to this.

As for the Council, you will be aware that most Member States that have codified private international law have special rules for these two issues, and the Council advocates not only retaining these two special rules but, like the Commission, its has in fact added further recitals. We are of the same opinion: special rules must reinforce legal certainty.

As regards traffic accidents, I share Parliament's concern to improve the situation of traffic accident victims. This, at least, is one of the objectives contained in its proposal. The Committee on Legal Affairs today proposed a new rule whereby the judge must ensure that compensation is provided for all prejudice sustained. This is a very interesting idea, but I believe that that comes under harmonising the Member States’ material civil law and is no longer a matter of private international law. Rome II is not, in my view, the right framework for such harmonisation, but I can confirm that I want to find a solution to the problem posed by the Committee on Legal Affairs and by Parliament, albeit in a different context of substantial harmonisation. As regards the issue of whether the general rule can lead to satisfactory solutions in this area or whether a new special rule is required, I remain open to the idea of studying this problem in detail, as provided for in Amendment 26 of the Implementation Report.

This quickly leads us on to the issue of implementing foreign law. This is covered by Amendments 12 and 21, and is a vital component of the Hague Programme. Let me reiterate that Rome II is not the right framework for such rules, which should apply to the entire commercial and civil field. More generally, I am happy to commit to carrying out a detailed study of measures aimed at facilitating the implementation of foreign law. The same indeed applies to the directive on the country of origin principle. The Services Directive already preserves the application of the Rome II and Rome I instruments. Accordingly, I do not feel that the rule proposed in Amendment 24 is necessary, not because this principle does not need to be clarified, but because there is already a guarantee.

 
  
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  Rainer Wieland, on behalf of the PPE-DE Group . – (DE) Mr President, I, too, wish to thank Mrs Wallis for having made some important points.

We have, this past week, heard much about the ‘citizens’ Europe’. When one looks at the title of this document, one is inclined to assume that many members of the public would, at the sight of it, ‘switch off’ on the grounds that they regard the law on non-contractual obligations as difficult, but it is the European issue par excellence , something to which most European motorists have given thought at least once, and along these lines: ‘I am from country A, am travelling through country B and meet with an accident involving a driver from country C, who may well have a person from country D travelling with him’. Situations such as that are a regular occurrence, and we are, by means of this dossier, doing more work on a citizens’ Europe. The need to regulate such matters is made even more pressing as people become more and more mobile and borders less and less important. There are still improvements to be made on this front. It follows that the ‘citizens’ Europe’ is at stake.

We have, today, already made reference to other aspects of the law that certainly come up less frequently than road accidents, namely liability for criminal acts, unfair competition and the complicated things to consider with reference to the environment.

My group will seek to keep this House’s options as regards this third reading and conciliation procedure as open as possible. We believe that there is still a lot of scope for making the regulations more suitable to their task. I want to underline what Mrs Wallis has already said. What this House is being asked to help decide on here is a new reality, one aspect of which will be that we will, once the outcome of the third reading is known, have to pay very close attention to those things that might well not have been legally approved, but did, at second reading in this House, gain the approval of a majority, and consider whether these things – which matter to this House – might perhaps be taken on board after all. We have every right to await with tense anticipation what will emerge from the third reading. We will try to get the options for a citizens’ Europe kept as open as possible.

 
  
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  Manuel Medina Ortega, on behalf of the PSE Group. (ES) Mr President, we are dealing with a rather complex text that has been subject to a series of amendments in the European Parliament's Committee on Legal Affairs and with regard to which the committee is drawing up our position on the points of view expressed by the Council.

I believe that the rapporteur has done a good job, but the positions in the Committee on Legal Affairs were adopted by one group, with a majority in that committee but not in plenary, and the Socialist Group in the European Parliament is therefore expressing its disagreement with several of the amendments approved by the Committee on Legal Affairs.

I am referring in particular to the removal of the reference to ‘special rules’, for example those relating to television without borders, e -commerce and other things. I am also referring to the issue of environmental damage. Environmental damage is now such an important issue that we cannot possibly have legislation that does not take account of that special aspect.

There is another aspect: the issue of unfair competition. Unfair competition also warrants some kind of detailed regulation. A statement of a general nature is not sufficient, since it affects many aspects of the internal market.

In summary, we agree with the majority of the amendments presented by the rapporteur, but we disagree with several of the amendments approved within the Committee on Legal Affairs, which reflect a majority that I would describe as circumstantial, and which is probably not going to be reflected in this Chamber. In any event, I have the feeling that we are going to have to examine this issue in detail in conciliation, depending on the result of the votes held here.

Given that different political groups have presented different amendments to several of the amendments approved by the Committee on Legal Affairs, until we have the results of the vote tomorrow, it is going to be rather difficult to know what Parliament’s final text will be.

 
  
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  Toomas Savi, on behalf of the ALDE Group . (ET) Mr President, Mrs Wallis, Commissioner.

While the draft legislation was in progress, my supporters and I planned to submit a motion to amend the Rome II report. Unfortunately this was not successful. For that reason I would like to present the content of the motion to you now.

Pursuant to the regulation’s general rule, the law of the country in which the damage arises is to be applied in the case of non-contractual obligations. Article 9, however, contains an exception, and requires the automatic application of the laws of the country in which the industrial action takes place. I would recommend that Article 9 be removed from the draft legislation.

The exception in Article 9 does not give equal consideration to all parties in employment relations, and may place small and medium-sized companies providing services abroad in a very unfavourable situation.

Due to possible industrial action, companies cannot fulfil their contractual obligations, and are forced to return their employees, compensate the damages that have arisen and pay a contractual penalty, and thus the anticipated revenue is not obtained. Thus the damages arising from the industrial action arise in the country in which the company is located, and not in the country in which the industrial action takes place.

In my opinion, an analysis of the effects of the introduction of Article 9 into Community legislation should have been performed before the article was introduced.

 
  
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  Eva Lichtenberger, on behalf of the Verts/ALE Group . – (DE) Mr President, Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen, ‘Rome II’ is an abstract title cloaking issues that have a very direct, and very considerable, impact on the public, and it was for that reason that the arguments in committee on the various issues were so hard-hitting. I propose to highlight three of them.

The first is the issue of the impact on the environment of damage from across borders. Where the protection of the environment is concerned, the fatal tendency generally manifests itself that people try to ignore the problems of their neighbours, even when they themselves, by means of irresponsible action, are the cause of them. We cannot but note with regret that it is turning out over and over again that people do not care and that installations emitting pollutants are being built very close to borders. We have tried to come up with rules enabling victims of such environmental problems to enjoy the maximum protection possible and preventing the sort of environmental dumping to which the Commissioner referred.

It is regrettable that both the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) and European Democrats and the Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe have decided not to agree to this, thereby opening the way to a retrograde step that I think would be fatal. I look to the Council and the Commission to help us find a better way.

We have managed, where protection against defamation in the press is concerned, to come up with a compromise that I see as protecting and supporting press freedom, one of the European Union’s fundamental values, which we must treat with respect and which must be central to what we do, and which is best protected if the legal consequences can be discussed in the country in which the newspaper or medium is based.

I regard road accidents as particularly important, in that anyone can, potentially, be affected by them; on this point we have arrived at a compromise, and I hope that it will be accepted in the course of negotiations with other bodies.

The public can expect us to take account of their day-to-day needs and to prioritise the interests of the victims; that is what the people of Europe expect of us.

 
  
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  Barbara Kudrycka (PPE-DE ). – (PL)  Mr President, I should like to begin by thanking the rapporteur. She has worked hard to ensure that this difficult and technical report reflects Parliament’s amendments after first reading as accurately as possible. This is most important, especially as regards the article on defamation, which is of particular interest to the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs.

I appreciate the political difficulties that make it exceptionally difficult to reach agreement in the Council on the issue of the article concerning defamation. We would do well to remember, however, that Parliament’s stance on this matter at first reading was very clear. In my view, the solution proposed at first reading really was the best attempt at a compromise reconciling the interests of injured parties and publishers. The Commission, in its amended opinion, and the Council, in its common position, rejected the idea of including in this regulation provisions concerning legislation to be applied in cases of defamation. As stated in its opinion at first reading, however, the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs believes that this issue should not be excluded. The stance adopted by Parliament at first reading is a sensible one and it is in line with the jurisprudence of the European Court of Justice.

Turning briefly to the remaining issues, it should be borne in mind that conflict-of-law rules tend to be governed by a logic of their own, and linking it with legislation concerning the common market may create problems through lack of consistency. Nonetheless, the exclusions concerning unfair competition and environmental protection which result in these areas being covered by special provisions actually introduce unnecessary complications into European private law and run counter to the general effort to deregulate and simplify our legislation.

In conclusion, I should like to state that our Community now has an opportunity to lay the foundations of a common system of civil law. Work on the Rome I and Rome III Regulations is under way. I trust we have almost completed the work on Rome II as well. Work on common reference frameworks is progressing too. I hope all these projects will make a positive contribution to the smooth running of the internal market within our great European venture.

 
  
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  Andrzej Jan Szejna (PSE ). – (PL)  Mr President, I should like to begin by warmly congratulating Mrs Wallis, the rapporteur, and thanking her for her work on such a key issue for the future of European integration. This represents an important step forward towards the development of a common area of freedom, security and justice for Europe.

As we consider the draft regulation before us today, we should pay particular attention to the need for consistency between provisions in force and subsequent regulations. It is important to ensure that the latter do not impose additional burdens and do not therefore hinder the efficient operation of the internal market. On the contrary, they should stimulate its development. Mr Medina Ortega has already referred to several specific issues, including those relating to environmental protection and competition.

I should like to state the importance of ensuring that issues pertaining to applicable law are considered appropriately, both by the parties and by the court, thus guaranteeing legal certainty. Standardisation of provisions is called for in certain cases. These include issues relating to defamation, violation of the right to privacy and personal rights, and establishing the amount of damages in cases of bodily injury.

We should support Parliament’s position at first reading with a view to ensuring that the regulation covers situations in which a manifestly closer connection may be considered to exist with the country which is the principal place of publication or dissemination of information, for instance information constituting defamation of character. This can be achieved by a single provision applicable to all publications including those on the Internet.

The position concerning the application of national victim law to determine damages in the case of accidents causing bodily injury should also be supported. Such an approach will make the free movement of people within the internal market more attractive. It will also avoid placing an unfair burden on the social security and assistance schemes of the country of habitual residence of an accident victim.

 
  
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  Piia-Noora Kauppi (PPE-DE ). – Mr President, I wish to begin by thanking Mrs Wallis for her pertinent work on this dossier and for her excellent cooperation as the ALDE Group’s coordinator in the Committee on Legal Affairs.

Together with the Rome II Regulation, the EU is establishing a coherent legal framework with regard to relationships between international private laws and other Community instruments. This regulation should promote rather than hamper the proper functioning of the internal market, in particular the free movement of goods and services. I was very unhappy to hear that the negotiations with the Council have been unsuccessful so far, but I am absolutely certain that Mrs Wallis will continue to raise the points of both our committee and Parliament.

I should like to raise two issues in particular. Firstly, the violation of privacy and rights related to the personality, including defamation, should be excluded completely from the scope of Rome II. In the absence of rules protecting editorial independence, exclusion would be the only viable solution that would not undermine press freedom. It is regrettable that the Council did not give its support for this amendment at first reading.

The second issue is an important question of principle – as was the previous issue – notably regarding Article 9 of the proposal regarding industrial action and applicable law that raises specific difficulties for the European maritime and shipping industry. The Swedish Government proposed this article in the spring of 2006, with reference to the European Court of Justice judgment in Case C-18/02. This case concerns questions regarding jurisdiction and choice of law when a ship flying the flag of one Member State is being boycotted in another Member State.

Ships moving around are typically serving harbours of different countries. If industrial action against ships were to be governed by the laws of the different harbours served during a voyage, the rules that would apply would vary all the time, i.e. different rules would form the basis of legality of industrial action taken against a ship. This would both be impractical and create great uncertainty. It is generally the case that all internal relations on a ship are governed by the law of the flag state. Therefore, let us not give these powers to the labour unions, which would certainly use these provisions to blackmail our shippers and hamper the competitiveness of the European seafaring industry.

 
  
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  Antolín Sánchez Presedo (PSE ). – (ES) Mr President, Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen, infringements of Community competition rules have, or may have, effects in several Member States. The possible application by legal authorities of the criterion of using as many legislations as countries affected may complicate actions for damages, hinder legal action and weaken competition.

As rapporteur for the report on private actions for damages deriving therefrom, I believe that they deserve their own treatment, and I would point out that the Commission has reserved the right to present proposals once the consultation under way has been completed.

The amendment that I presented, together with Mrs Berger, with which the rapporteur agrees – and I thank him for that – draws attention to this situation and proposes that the actor making the claim in the place of residence of the defendant should have the option of choosing the lex fori for their claim. The conciliation will enable us to go further into the issue and decide how to deal with it appropriately.

 
  
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  President. – The debate is closed.

The vote will take place shortly at 12 noon.

Written statement (Rule 142)

 
  
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  John Attard-Montalto (PSE ). – In view of the progressive cross-border movement of people, products and information it has become essential to achieve a common identification of the law applicable in non-contractual obligations. However, there appears to be a distinction with what is being proposed by the Commission and the opinion of the Committee on Legal Affairs.

The essence of this legislation is whether it can co-exist in harmony with existing national laws or it can supplant same. The Committee believes that national laws and what is being proposed will not hinder but enhance national laws.

A clear distinction has to be made and once there is general agreement of more uniformity then this legislation should be all-encompassing and it is important that the possibility of ambiguity of the applicable law is resolved.

It is apparent that there is a lacuna in the Rome Convention of 1980 and that subsequently entered into in Brussels, and whereas the applicable law arising from non-contractual obligations has been adequately tackled, the relevant disputes still need to be addressed in full.

The second important distinction relates to the content. There seems to be a different approach as to what non-contractual obligations should be included in the current legislation. Such issues as environmental ones are to be left to national legislation, whereas the original proposal had a wider scope.

 

5. Communication of Council common positions: see Minutes
  

(The sitting was suspended at 11.35 a.m. and resumed for voting time at noon)

 
  
  

IN THE CHAIR: MR POETTERING
President

 

6. Approval of Minutes of previous sitting: see Minutes

7. Committee of Inquiry into the crisis of the Equitable Life Assurance Society (extension of mandate): see Minutes

8. Announcement by the President: see Minutes

9. Voting time
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  President. The next item is voting time.

(For results and other details of the vote: see Minutes)

 

9.1. Membership of committees (vote)

9.2. Amendment of the ACP-EC Partnership Agreement (vote)

9.3. Development of the Community's railways (vote)
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  Georg Jarzembowski (PPE-DE ), rapporteur . – (DE) The third part is a free-standing question, and it is for that reason that it must be voted on separately. It has nothing whatever to do with the second part.

 
  
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  Eva Lichtenberger (Verts/ALE ).(DE) You have missed out one amendment – No 40.

 
  
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  Georg Jarzembowski (PPE-DE ), rapporteur . – (DE) Since the first part of Amendment 16 has been adopted, Amendment 40 lapses.

 

9.4. Certification of train drivers operating locomotives and trains on the railway system in the Community (vote)

9.5. International rail passengers' rights and obligations (vote)
  

- Before the vote on Amendment 22

 
  
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  Georg Jarzembowski (PPE-DE ).(DE) Mr President, over the last couple of hours there have been further discussions on two items, those being Amendments 22 and 47, as a result of which my group will be voting a different way. I would like to ask the rapporteur whether he is able to give us any further information on those two amendments.

 
  
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  Dirk Sterckx (ALDE ), rapporteur . (NL) Mr President, the original wording of Amendment 22 created problems for some railway companies in a number of EU Member States, because they work with very short notice periods for contracts. In order to counteract these problems without necessitating fundamental changes, we have split the amendment into three sections, keeping most of the text but taking out the word ‘existing’ after the second split vote, and removing the last sentence after the third split vote, as a result of which we have retained the essence but managed to do away with the practical problems.

 
  
  

(The oral amendment was accepted)

– Before the vote on Amendment 47

 
  
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  Dirk Sterckx (ALDE ), rapporteur . (NL) Mr Jarzembowski had also asked why we had requested a split vote on Amendment 47, the second part of which has to do with a second person travelling free of charge, and it is the huge number of objections to this system that have prompted me to ask for a split vote. I would also like to know – hence the split vote – how many Members are backing this proposal and who are not, since this is something with which some Member States experience major problems. Hence my request for a split vote.

 
  
  

(The oral amendment was accepted)

 

9.6. Law applicable to non-contractual obligations ("ROME II") (vote)

9.7. Imposition of the death penalty on medical personnel in Libya (vote)
  

– Before the vote

 
  
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  Marios Matsakis (ALDE ). – Mr President, I would like to suggest a couple of minor adjustments for the sake of greater clarity. In paragraph 2, line 4, I suggest replacing the words ‘for itself and’ by the words ‘of capital punishment in’, and in paragraph 8, line 3, inserting the word ‘affected’ in front of the word ‘children’.

 
  
  

(The oral amendments were accepted)

– Before the vote on paragraphs 6 and 12

 
  
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  Hélène Flautre (Verts/ALE ).(FR) Ladies and gentlemen, certain terms concerning the Libyan authorities need to be corrected. We have been somewhat European in our choice of words. We should therefore replace ‘President Gaddafi’ by ‘Colonel Gaddafi’.

I should also like to point out that in paragraph 12 ‘Popular Assembly’ should be replaced by ‘General People’s Congress’ because that is the right name, and ‘government’ by ‘General People’s Committee’. One needs to be precise when referring to the Libyan authorities.

 
  
  

(The oral amendments were accepted)

- following the vote

 
  
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  President. I will take this resolution as the occasion for once again calling on all those in positions of responsibility in Libya to spare these people’s lives and set them at liberty.

(Applause)

 

9.8. Seventh and eighth annual reports on arms exports (vote)

9.9. European Road Safety Action Programme – Mid-Term Review (vote)
  

- following the vote

 
  
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  Hannes Swoboda (PSE ).(DE) Mr President, it may be that we did not inform you in good time, but this report is the latest from Mrs Hedkvist Petersen, and its subject matter, road safety, something in which she has always taken a great interest. We would like to take this opportunity to thank Mrs Hedkvist Petersen for the work she has done in this House over recent years.

(Applause)

 
  
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  President. Mrs Hedkvist Petersen, such lively applause entitles the President to thank you, with quite especial warmth, for the work you have done and to wish you all the best in every way. I extend to you the warmest congratulations on this splendid report and wish you, personally, all the best.

 

9.10. Equality between men and women in the committees' work (vote)
  

- Before the vote on paragraph 6

 
  
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  Johannes Blokland (IND/DEM ). – (NL) Mr President, the rapporteur has asked me to withdraw the split vote, which we applied for in respect of paragraph 6, and instead, to opt for an oral amendment which amounts to replacing ‘gender perspectives’ by ‘equal treatment of men and women’. I am happy to grant Mrs Záborská this request.

 
  
  

(The oral amendment was accepted)

 
  
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  President. That concludes the vote.

 
  
  

IN THE CHAIR: MR COCILOVO
Vice-President

 

10. Explanations of vote
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  President. – The next item is the explanations of vote.

 
  
  

Report: Ribeiro e Castro (A6-0469/2006 )

 
  
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  Jean-Pierre Audy (PPE-DE ), in writing. (FR) I voted in favour of the excellent report by my Portuguese colleague Mr Ribeiro e Castro on the legislative resolution on the draft European Council decision amending the Cotonou Agreement between the African, Caribbean and Pacific States (ACP) and the European Union of March 2000, as part of the five-yearly revision.

The new procedure for political dialogue, the increased role for the parliaments, the reference to the International Criminal Court, regional cooperation, the reference to the Millennium Development Goals and, lastly, cooperation in the fight against weapons of mass destruction give this revision a better gloss than one might have hoped. Furthermore, thanks to the ACP-EU Joint Assembly compromise of June 2006, the agreement to provide EUR 26 billion for 2008-2013 means that this decision is good news for the EU’s place among the ACP partner countries.

 
  
  

Report: Jarzembowski (A6-0475/2006 )

 
  
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  Jean-Pierre Audy (PPE-DE ), in writing.(FR) I voted in favour of the thrust of the excellent report by my German colleague Mr Jarzembowski on the recommendation for second reading on amending the 1991 directive on the development of the Community’s railways and the 2001 directive on railway infrastructure (3rd rail package). It has become essential to introduce greater competition in passenger rail transport, building on what has rightly been done for freight. This is a vital prerequisite for increased services at a fair price.

Nevertheless, like my political group, the UMP [the French Union for a Popular Movement], I did not advocate liberalisation at too fast a pace for internal transport in the Member States, so as to allow the traditional operators time to prepare for competition. I trust that, in conciliation, Parliament will find an acceptable compromise that will quickly lead the sector from being an administered economy to being a social market economy. The development of passenger rail transport at a fair price, like goods rail transport, is one of the vital prerequisites to the smooth running, development and competitiveness of our internal European economic market, which is both a source of prosperity and a social necessity for the citizens.

 
  
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  Glyn Ford (PSE ), in writing . I will be voting for the Jarzembowski report on the development of the Community’s railways. The railway network in my own region is vital for communication with London and the rest of the country, particularly from Devon and Cornwall, where the roads are narrow and congested and a number of bottlenecks exist and the airports small and poorly served. Yet coastal erosion and rising sea levels threaten to disrupt and eventually cut the link at Dawlish in Devon.

I am grateful for Vice-President Barrot’s commitment to try to find ways for the Commission to assist here, which would, if it works, be a very practical demonstration of the principles embodied here.

 
  
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  Robert Goebbels (PSE ), in writing. (FR) The provisions on transport in the Treaty cover international transport, the conditions under which non-resident carriers may operate transport services, and, lastly, transport activities in the internal market. Why then should the Union become involved in local, regional or even national transport inside countries when the organisation of these networks does not affect trade in the internal market? The Jarzembowski report goes too far in its bid for all-out liberalisation.

 
  
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  Bruno Gollnisch (ITS ), in writing. (FR) Once again, the ultraliberal ideology trumpeted by Brussels is a feature of this report on the third rail package.

The proposal is to speed up the process of liberalising international passenger transport by 2010 and of national transport by 2017.

If the ends can justify the means, we must condemn the weakness of the means adopted, and the precautions taken, in this report to prevent companies and workers in the railways sector, who are currently protected by their public status, from being left to the mercy of unbridled competition in the global railways market.

The Commission, the Council and Parliament appear not to have heeded the lessons of the privatisation of the British railways in 1993, which has led to an increase in train accidents, delays, decaying infrastructure, price rises and redundancies among onboard staff amounting to half the total workforce. The situation is such that many people in the UK are now advocating the renationalisation of the railways.

A Europe of this kind should not exist. Europe should not be constructed at the expense of safety, jobs and professional qualifications. We are opposed to this anti-national philosophy, which destroys jobs and routinely favours the foreign option.

 
  
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  Pedro Guerreiro (GUE/NGL ), in writing . (PT) We are very disappointed that the majority in Parliament voted against our proposal to reject a directive that is aimed purely and simply at liberalising and privatising passenger rail transport between the EU Member States.

In spite of the fact that some of the more worrying amendments tabled by the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) and European Democrats did not achieve the majority needed to be adopted – for example the proposal to set, as of now, 2017 as the date for liberalising freight rail transport at national level – the majority in Parliament, enjoying the votes of the Portuguese Socialist, Social Democrat and People's parties, once again lent its backing to the process of liberalising rail transport at EU level, now on its third legislative package.

This process of liberalisation forms part of the neoliberal guidelines contained in the so-called ‘Lisbon Strategy’, and is aimed, ultimately, at privatising this public service and others. It is terrible that the Portuguese Government has reiterated its ‘support for liberalising rail transport’, which it did in a statement on 24 July 2006.

We shall continue to speak out in defence of public rail transport services, which is a key sector for Portugal’s socio--economic development, and on behalf of the rights of the workers and the people.

 
  
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  Carl Lang (ITS ), in writing. (FR) Following the adoption of the second rail package concerning freight, the Commission has proposed nothing less than the total liberalisation of all international rail passenger services by 2010 and national services by 2017.

This ultraliberal acceleration is happening at a time when the viability of the liberalisation of French rail freight is being called into question. The French national railway company, SNCF noted in December 2006 that, despite European-level measures aimed at reducing road transport, the volume of rail freight has been in freefall.

What impact will the third package have? We are heading straight towards all too predictable economic and social failure, to which our European leaders should be alert, if only by recalling the disastrous experience of the liberalisation of the British railways in 1993. Let us not make the same mistakes by favouring anti-national ideology at the expense of national jobs, and let us preserve unified French railways.

To liberalise the railways is to jeopardise safety. We will have too many private operators on the same rail network. Safety considerations should always prevail over simple return on investments. In view of their importance, the railways should remain a public service, which must of course be viable, but above all must be safe.

 
  
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  Marie-Noëlle Lienemann (PSE ), in writing . – (FR) I voted for the removal of this report, because the process of liberalising and deregulating public services, and in particular passenger transport, must be stopped as a matter of urgency. In refusing to conduct a public investigation into the situation, the EU must, furthermore, take stock of the negative impact of its policy and of the citizens’ growing opposition to it.

The slightest new step towards opening up to competition is unacceptable until a framework directive on public services is able to provide guarantees of equality between the regions and of proper spatial planning, as well as pricing policies ensuring much-needed redistribution, and the future investment needed to deliver modern, high-quality infrastructure.

All the indicators are that, in Europe, safety will be cut back and that rail services, especially where profitability is low, will suffer. This will run counter to the objectives of combating the greenhouse effect and will exacerbate inequality.

 
  
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  Bart Staes (Verts/ALE ), in writing . (NL) It is wrong for Europe to dictate to its Member States how they should organise their national railway networks. Whilst I welcome the fact that in Germany, competition within rail has resulted in better services, price cuts and good safety standards, this need not necessarily work in favour of the Belgian rail network.

In many countries, there is cause for dissatisfaction about the provision of rail services. This is why I would welcome a study into the advantages and disadvantages of competition within rail: good and bad experiences concerning the privatisation of railways must be put side by side to find out which forms of liberalisation work and which do not.

Nobody is asking for liberalisation of this kind today: not the trade unions, not the consumer organisations, not even the European railway companies’ association. I would have preferred it if, as was the plan, this report had been discussed together with Mr Meijer’s, so that sound procedures could be agreed on which would allow Member States and regions to offer sections of the network to one particular company in the framework of public service provision contracts. This would have meant that one concession could be given to one service provider for a certain period of time, but with the addition of a clearly defined package of requirements relating to the best possible provision of services, safety and environmental concern.

 
  
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  Marc Tarabella (PSE ), in writing. (FR) I decided to vote in favour of rejecting the Council’s common position, approved by the Jarzembowski report. The common position effectively supports the timetable for the international liberalisation of passenger transport by 2010.

I am firmly opposed to such liberalisation which, contrary to what is maintained by fervent champions of the unbridled free market, will not generate a better service at a lower cost. Rather, it will jeopardise public services provided in the Member States. The vast majority of passengers, now referred to as customers, will be faced with an increase in fares and a decline in the quality of service. Rural areas will, once again, be the main victims of this process.

What is more, liberalisation will endanger the railway companies of the small Member States and will have harmful effects on the conditions of work and employment of rail staff throughout the European Union.

It is therefore in order to defend public services, passengers and rail employees throughout Europe that I have voted in favour of rejecting the common position and against the amendments in favour of this liberalisation.

 
  
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  Lars Wohlin (PPE-DE ), in writing. (SV) Principles of reciprocity must be respected, and it is important to be able to convey passengers across national borders. However, the Member States must be allowed to decide for themselves whether national rail traffic should be privatised. Many a privatised railway that has not been integrated with the railway infrastructure of the country concerned has failed to operate properly and led to increased costs for taxpayers (as in the United Kingdom, for example).

I therefore choose to support the Council’s common position, which does not go as far, and am voting, then, against Parliament’s amendments.

 
  
  

Report: Savary (A6-0480/2006 )

 
  
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  Jean-Pierre Audy (PPE-DE ), in writing . – (FR) I voted in favour of the very constructive report by my fellow Member, Mr Savary, which concerns the recommendation at second reading for the adoption of the Directive on the certification of train drivers on the railway system in the Community.

I share the view that a distinction needs to be made between the arrangements governing drivers and those governing other on-board staff. Moreover, it is important that the process of certifying European train drivers be put in place quickly so that such certification is in operation at the same time as rail freight is developing, stimulated by the competition that will come with the economic liberalisation of this sector. These considerations are a guarantee of quality and, therefore, of security. I hope that the European Council will be wise enough to take account of them.

 
  
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  Pedro Guerreiro (GUE/NGL ), in writing . (PT) Although I acknowledge the importance of defining the certification of those working in this sector, in particular train drivers, this issue forms part of the process of liberalising the rail transport sector, a process championed by the EU institutions, by the Council (the national governments), the Commission and the majority in Parliament, with the latter being the most enthusiastic cheerleader.

Accordingly, although there are some positive proposals on workers’ rights and some technical aspects, one must be mindful that these measures form part of the ongoing wave of privatisations and not of improving the service.

Furthermore, a number of questions are raised. Firstly, the large transnational companies 'import' people to work in a particular country and, in the name of 'free access' and 'competitiveness', they place these people in direct competition with local workers; they also impose agreements that are unfavourable to the workers and that encourage social dumping. Secondly, the rights acquired by these workers are jeopardised. Thirdly, the Commission and the Agency are defining the model to be followed and the requirements to be met by the Member States, and not the other way round, that is to say, compliance with national laws and provisions, as recognised by the other Member States.

 
  
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  Carl Schlyter (Verts/ALE ), in writing. (SV) Passengers must have proper rights, but what we are getting here is too much detailed regulation at EU level. What is proposed is at a level far below that applicable under Swedish law governing compensation. Parliament’s attempt also to include strictly local or national transport – over and above international transport, where there is some rationale for the EU’s intervention – is unnecessary over-regulation. What is more, these rules are in danger of bringing about a decline in the conditions governing compensation in Sweden and could make it more difficult for passengers to take a taxi or bus when their train is delayed.

 
  
  

Report: Sterckx (A6-0479/2006 )

 
  
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  Proinsias De Rossa (PSE ), in writing . I supported Amendment 65 because the Council common position does not deal in a satisfactory way with the necessity to progressively adapt railway stations and rolling stock in order to ensure accessibility for disabled people and people with reduced mobility. The gradual improvement of existing infrastructure and rolling stock is absolutely necessary given the lifespan of rolling stock and infrastructure. There is also a great number of potential passengers that would be able to use rail transport if it was accessible.

 
  
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  Pedro Guerreiro (GUE/NGL ), in writing . (PT) This report should be analysed within the context of the objectives of the EU’s railways policy, to which the Commission has already submitted three legislative packages in recent years. The purpose of the report is purely and simply to complete the technical and legal framework for the phased implementation of the total liberalisation of rail transport, which effectively means handing it to large private interests, at the expense of dismantling the key national public companies.

This proposed regulation on the rights and obligations of rail transport passengers should be understood in this context. The report, among other things, seeks to broaden the scope of the directive to include national as well as international rail passengers, to set out the information to be passed on to passengers and the compensation to be paid in the event of delays, accidents or death, and to ensure that people with reduced mobility can use the railways.

In other words, the current process of defining passengers’ rights is taking place as part of a process that jeopardises their fundamental right to high-quality public transport.

 
  
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  Peter Skinner (PSE ), in writing . I voted for this report because of the increasing use of rail passenger transport across the EU. Furthermore, whilst establishing a clearly more sustainable transport structure, largely helped by the TENs process, railway operators need to be cojoined by simple rules and obligations. In particular, the rights of passengers often go ‘missing’ in the debate for more convenient transport operations. Moreover, the problem of monopolistic control over certain rail routes such as the Channel Tunnel Rail Link (CTRL) leaves passengers at the disposal of just one company. In the light of this increasing the rights of international rail passenger users, I am concerned that the current approach of certain companies/operators still needs greater efforts by regulatory bodies to ensure a consistent and fair approach.

 
  
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  Evangelia Tzampazi (PSE ), in writing . With regard to the recommendation for second reading on the Council common position for adopting a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on international rail passengers’ rights and obligations (Sterckx report) I would like to explain that the Members of the PSE Greek Delegation (Arnaoutakis Stavros, Beglitis Panagiotis, Matsouka Maria, Lambrinidis Stavros and Tzampazi Evangelia) abstained from the votes on Amendments 59 and 69 according to which: ‘all trains, including cross-border and high-speed trains, shall provide a specially designated area enabling passengers to bring on to the train baby carriages, wheelchairs, bicycles and sports equipment possibly against payment’.

Although we agree with the implementation of this parameter with regard to the other tools, as far as wheelchairs are concerned, however, it should be taken into consideration that these are not just a tool for people with disabilities but they are actually part of their body. In that sense, there should be no additional payment for their transport.

Therefore we abstained from the votes on Amendments 59 and 69, supporting in that way the right of people with disabilities to travel without any additional charge.

 
  
  

Reports: Jarzembowski (A6-0475/2006 ), Savary (A6-0480/2006 ) and Sterckx (A6-0479/2006 )

 
  
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  Gilles Savary (PSE ). – (FR) Mr President, I should like to say how very pleased I am about the considerable wisdom displayed by Parliament in rejecting the liberalisation of the railway system and of the national railway systems.

I personally am very much in favour of opening up the networks and I am a great believer in constructing railways without borders in Europe, something that would effectively spell the end of the national monopolies. That being said, I consider that the Commission’s proposed method of liberalisation, which will be characterised by conflict over deadlines and dates, is unacceptable and will inevitably lead to a situation in which the railway economy is focused on a few big companies, with many national companies disappearing and a big battle taking place over the most profitable market segments, that is to say the high-speed lines, and with great difficulty probably being encountered in financing budget headings relating to town and country planning.

Railway services also include regional trains and main line services, which are often in the red and which are financed by what are now the international main lines, and I am very concerned to see that this aspect of things has not really been taken into account. How are small railway lines, which are very useful, to be financed when the opening up to international competition is going to cause funding to dry up and the railway companies' margins to be reduced? That is a question that we must answer. We have until 2010, and I personally want the financing of public services and of budget headings relating to town and country planning to appear before long on the agenda of this House.

 
  
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  Erik Meijer (GUE/NGL ), in writing . (NL) While cuts continue to be made and both regional rail services and international rail connections continue to be thinned out as a result, there are now calls from right across the political spectrum for more passengers and more freight to be transported by rail by employing the same practices used in freight traffic by road and the cut-price airlines. By separating rail management from the provision of services, they hope that private companies will reduce prices and attract more patronage by means of their customer-friendly outlook. I think that this approach will end up not yielding the desired result. All attention will be focused on reducing costs by closing lines, thinning out services, increasing prices and disposing of the many loss-making customers.

The Savary and Sterckx reports do not do enough to compensate for Mr Jarzembowski’s liberalisation plans. The Savary report is vital in that it wishes to reduce the technical problems that have beset cross-border trains since electrification, while the Sterckx report has wasted the opportunity to force railway companies to make cross-border services better accessible and to maintain them. As the report now stands, only people with a disability stand to gain.

 
  
  

Report: Wallis (A6-0481/2006 )

 
  
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  Jean-Pierre Audy (PPE-DE ), in writing . (FR) I voted in favour of the constructive report by UK Member Mrs Wallis, which concerns the recommendation for second reading for adopting a regulation on non-contractual obligations.

Whereas, as a general rule, the law applicable to non-contractual obligations is the law of the country in which the damage took place, this report will, if it is complied with, enable the law of the victim’s country to be applied, for example in the case of bodily injury following a car accident. Given how complex situations can be, this position would enable people to be put back into the situations they were in before the accidents in question. A compromise still has to be found for compensating people for prejudice suffered due to defamation by the media, as Parliament wants the law applicable to be that of the country to which the published or broadcast material is principally directed or, if this criterion obviously cannot be applied, the country in which editorial control is exercised. The work on achieving a compromise will not be easy.

 
  
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  Christofer Fjellner, Gunnar Hökmark and Anna Ibrisagic (PPE-DE ), in writing. (SV) The Wallis report, A6-0481/06 , contains proposals concerning the choice of the law applicable to violations of privacy or rights relating to the personality - proposals that such cases should be settled in the country in which the damage occurred. We are voting against these proposals because they would lead to restrictions on Swedish legislation relating to freedom of expression and the freedom of the press. For example, a Swedish newspaper could be censored in other countries on the basis of laws other than those applicable in the country in which the newspaper is published.

 
  
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  Bruno Gollnisch (ITS ), in writing. (FR) It is to the credit of this regulation, known as Rome II, that it is designed to facilitate the handling of cross-border legal disputes by applying to a wide range of situations the general rule according to which the law applicable to non-contractual obligations is the law of the country in which the damage occurred.

We are, in fact, in favour of harmonising the rules where laws are in conflict with one another, a move that alone is capable of enhancing legal certainty. However, the rules would still have to be precise and clear, something that is far from always being the case.

Concerned not only with the specific issue of road accidents but also with those of defamation or violations of privacy by audiovisual or print media, the rules proposed are designed to protect the victim by, in particular, enabling him or her to obtain compensation more easily.

If freedom of the press and freedom of expression are to be guaranteed, the rules must not improperly restrict the rights of the persons involved.

This report provides for guarantees through the adoption of standard rules where laws are in conflict with one another. We shall vote in favour of it.

 
  
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  Olle Schmidt (ALDE ), in writing. (SV) The Rome II report, which the European Parliament voted in favour of today, contains two wordings that are in conflict with Swedish legislation on the freedom of the press. Unfortunately, it was impossible to vote against the amendments containing the wordings in question because they formed part of a larger block. I chose to vote in favour of the report but wish to put on record the reservations I have in respect of Amendment 9 and paragraph 7a of Amendment 19.

 
  
  

Sentencing to death of the health workers in Libya: B6-0024/2007

 
  
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  Димитър Стоянов (ITS ). – Аз гласувах "за" това предложение, но пред себе си имам един текст, който е изпълнен с тежък изказ. В него няма нищо, което реално да се казва. Тази резолюция трябваше да бъде приета преди осъждането на българските медицински сестри на смърт, а не сега постфактум. И защо, когато бяха осъдени, висшите представители на Съюза се правеха, че са паднали от небето и че за осем години те не са разбрали, че има такова нещо. Или може би им беше по-лесно да си затварят очите, защото европейските държави въртят една много хубава търговия с Либия.

Искам да Ви кажа, уважаеми колеги, че ние сме изправени съвсем очевидно пред един тежък диктаторски режим. И с такъв режим единственият начин, по който може да се справяш, е с решителност, твърдост и непоколебимост. Затова аз настоявам, всички европейски държави да прекратят незабавно търговските си отношения с Либия, което ще бъде оказване на истински натиск върху тази тоталитарна държава.

В заключение, бих искал да кажа, че ако това не стане, това ще означава, че в Европа се е открил нов вид програма - "петрол срещу човешки животи".

 
  
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  Jim Allister (NI ), in writing . I voted for this resolution in order to support those subject to the injustice being perpetrated upon them by the inhumane Libyan authorities. However, I disassociate myself from the demand in the motion for a blanket ban throughout the world on capital punishment. In my view, capital punishment can be appropriate and necessary where there are in place wholly reliable and proper judicial processes, proofed with a full range of appeal facilities. Clearly, such does not exist in Libya.

 
  
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  Jean-Pierre Audy (PPE-DE ), in writing. (FR) I voted in favour of the resolution by those political groups that condemn the verdict of the Libyan criminal court that convicted and sentenced to death five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor accused of having deliberately inoculated almost 500 children with the AIDS virus. This resolution is an opportunity to renew my complete opposition to the death penalty, the abolition of which helps increase respect for human dignity and helps champion human rights.

 
  
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  Ilda Figueiredo (GUE/NGL ), in writing . (PT) We voted in favour of this resolution because we are against the death penalty and therefore oppose the Libyan court’s decision to sentence five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor to death by firing squad, and the confirmation of those sentences on 19 December 2006.

We also wish to register our profound alarm at the case used to convict the defendants and at the treatment they received while in detention.

We reiterate our opposition to the death penalty and would point out that abolishing the death penalty would serve to reinforce human dignity and to foster the gradual development of human rights. We therefore call for the death penalty to be abolished throughout the world.

We also join in calling on the competent Libyan authorities to take the necessary measures to review and to overturn the death sentence, and to pave the way for the case to be resolved quickly on the basis of humanitarian considerations.

 
  
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  Joseph Muscat (PSE ), in writing (MT ). My vote in favour of this resolution reflects mainly my position against the death penalty whatever the circumstances.

I believe that the long years of effort undertaken by many countries, including Malta, aimed at drawing Libya closer to the international community cannot simply be thrown away. This case shows that more, rather than less, dialogue between the two sides is required.

 
  
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  Luís Queiró (PPE-DE ), in writing . (PT) The trial leading to the death sentence for five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor is proof that there are some countries that have no qualms about holding foreign citizens hostage.

Whatever way one examines it, the evidence clearly shows that those sentenced to death in this trial are not guilty of the crimes of which they are accused. Yet the trials went on. The only explanation is that these foreign citizens are being used for internal, or perhaps external, political ends.

In a country that is a long way from being a democracy, or at least a country that scarcely respects the rule of law, such events do not come as a surprise. Worse, since 1 January, among those sentenced to death are five EU citizens, which means that we must channel our efforts to promote justice and respect for the general principles of law in this case.

Libya today is the same country it has always been, albeit for reasons of political pragmatism it has had to modify its behaviour, and it must understand that we do not accept these people being used as hostages to Libyan politics.

 
  
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  Geoffrey Van Orden (PPE-DE ), in writing . The Libyan death sentence against the Bulgarian nurses and Palestinian doctor is atrocious and deepens the tragedy of their wrongful imprisonment these past eight years. We have been in the forefront of those demanding their release.

Unfortunately, and against my advice, the Greens and Communists insisted on including a paragraph in the resolution on the wider issue of opposition to the death penalty in principle. Although many of us voted against this paragraph, it remains part of a text which we have otherwise strongly supported. Many Conservatives, myself included, do not object in principle to the death penalty. On the contrary, we would wish to see its restoration in certain very special and rigorously controlled circumstances. We therefore wish to make it clear that our support for this excellent resolution in no way implies our agreement to paragraph 2.

 
  
  

Report: Romeva i Rueda (A6-0439/2006 )

 
  
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  Glyn Ford (PSE ), in writing . I would congratulate my colleague, Mr Romeva i Rueda, on this annual report. I was responsible a decade and more ago in the then Security and Disarmament Sub-committee of the Committee on Foreign Affairs for the first report on this subject.

One issue at that time was the failure to create a single European arms market leading to a situation where divided national markets created an imperative to export. This in itself meant that European arms ended up in very unsavoury hands and as we saw all too recently we faced our own weapons in hostile hands in Iraq.

Another issue involved was the lack of a legal basis to our Code of Conduct on arms sales, partly because certain Member States did not want their salesmen hampered in the world’s arms markets.

Mr Romeva i Rueda’s report shows the same problems are still with us today. The longer we delay finding solutions the more misery the free market in arms visits on the world and the more it costs us in inefficiency, refugees and asylum seekers from the unnatural disasters we are ultimately responsible for.

 
  
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  Patrick Gaubert (PPE-DE ), in writing. (FR) The own-initiative report on the Seventh and Eighth Annual Reports by the Council on the European Union Code of Conduct on Arms Exports has just been adopted by a large majority. I congratulate the rapporteur on the quality of his work and on the consensus obtained on this document.

This report is careful to point out the need to adopt the Code of Conduct as a common position with a view to enhancing its legal effects on the control of arms exports and to harmonising national legislation on the subject.

In the same way, it invites the European Union and its Member States to support the adoption of an International Treaty on Arms Exports under the aegis of the United Nations – something that I think would be useful.

It also offers some necessary clarifications of the content and scope of the Code of Conduct and rightly proposes that respect for human rights should become a general criterion governing arms exports.

Now more than ever, the European Union must do all it can to appear as a responsible global player, recognised for its efforts to combat the proliferation of arms, which is the source of many conflicts and of serious human rights violations.

 
  
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  Jean Lambert (Verts/ALE ), in writing . I voted for this report. I particularly welcome Parliament’s desire for the EU to push for an International Treaty on the Arms Trade. We recognise that spending on arms is a diversion from achieving the Millennium Goals. No company in any country should profit from the misery and human rights abuses that we see, for example, in Darfur. Countries which speak the language of diplomacy should not be profiting from fuelling the conflict. As the report says, we need to find better ways to ensure the end use of our licensing systems is the intended use, not a diversion to regimes or opposition movements which inflict inhumane treatment.

I also welcome the reference to export credit guarantees but wish the report had gone further. Member States should not be underwriting arms sales. At the very least this represents a distortion of competition and can lead to corruption. At its worst, it increases debt repayments and, as we have seen in Tanzania recently, makes it more difficult for poor countries to invest in health, education and true sustainable development.

 
  
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  Nils Lundgren (IND/DEM ), in writing. (SV) Arms exports should be supervised by each Member State through its national legislation and through cooperation within the framework of the UN. I am absolutely opposed to the plans possibly to set up an EU agency for arms exports control. The report is about creating a binding Code of Conduct for arms exports within the framework of the EU. It is proposed that a new EU body be set up for controlling the Member States’ exports. Irrespective of any principled stand on the issue, there are reasons for questioning whether this would lead, as intended, to a more restrictive policy. At the same time, the European Defence Agency is pushing for further coordination and liberalisation of the Member States’ export policies. I believe that, in view of its experience, knowledge and global scope, it is the UN that is best placed to press on with the global work on disarmament and to ensure that the best possible Code of Conduct is complied with.

 
  
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  Luís Queiró (PPE-DE ), in writing . (PT) The arms industry is not by definition the dirtiest and most corrupt business, but its everyday operations are capable of being that way.

For this reason, I feel that the behaviour of public and private actors must be subject to careful scrutiny so that the pressure, be it legal or otherwise, can have some effect.

I am a longstanding advocate of making this code of conduct binding.

Lastly, I turn to the issue of China. We have this debate every year. China offers no guarantees – quite the opposite, in fact – that it will use military material in accordance with our requirements. This on its own would be sufficient argument. Moreover, we should try to turn this increasingly important player on the world stage into a partner in the quest for a more peaceful, less violent world. This will not be achieved by repeatedly giving ground, in the name of the economy. In some circumstances, this may be the right way forward, but not in this case.

Lastly, I deplore the fact that the report conflates issues that are actually quite distinct, by lumping together China, Colombia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Indonesia, Nepal and Israel.

 
  
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  Geoffrey Van Orden (PPE-DE ), in writing . While much of the content of the Romeva report is uncontroversial, it maintains an insistence on a legally binding code of conduct for European arms exports and inevitably seeks to extend the authority of the EU. Our emphasis should instead be on an international treaty with focus on those countries that continue to supply terrorists and insurgents and which seem to escape the attentions of those that are always so critical of the Western democracies. We therefore abstained on this resolution.

 
  
  

Report: Hedkvist Petersen (A6-0449/2006 )

 
  
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  Philip Bradbourn (PPE-DE ), in writing . Conservatives believe that road safety is a very important issue but cannot support this report on the grounds that it calls for EU-wide measures through harmonisation processes rather than intergovernmental cooperation over a limited range of cross-border issues. Geographical considerations, tradition and culture also have an impact here and as the UK already has one of the safest records in Europe, we do not see the need for many of the measures to be given an EU dimension.

 
  
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  Robert Goebbels (PSE ), in writing. (FR) I voted against this report and against a number of amendments, because Parliament is going against the principle of subsidiarity by seeking to impose throughout Europe the same rules to be enforced by the police – rules whose effectiveness is far from proven.

 
  
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  Bruno Gollnisch (ITS ), in writing. (FR) My fellow Member’s report shows the progress made in road safety and in combating road accidents. Indeed, the number of deaths on European roads fell by 17.5% between 2001 and 2005, a development about which one can only be very pleased but which obviously does not go far enough, as more than 40 000 deaths are still recorded each year in the European Union.

Surprisingly, the many proposals on road safety put forward in this report are not exclusively about taking punitive measures, which has been the approach in France. Rather, there are proposals relating to driver training, the quality of the vehicle fleet and the state of highway infrastructure. We support these proposals.

In France, the number of road deaths is, admittedly, falling each year but, by the same token, the anger of those deprived of their licences continues to grow. Quite apart from ‘fear of the police’, automatic penalties for driving even as little as 1 km per hour above the speed limit have become commonplace.

Out of 36 million drivers, 3.5 million have incurred points on their licences, and almost 70 000 licences have been withdrawn. If the overarching objective of road safety is to be achieved, there is a need to stop hounding motorists.

 
  
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  Pedro Guerreiro (GUE/NGL ), in writing . (PT) The European Road Safety Action Programme adopted in 2003 sets the objective of halving the number of road accident victims by 2010, which means fewer than 25 000 victims per year. Although the figure went down between 2001 and 2005, it is predicted that the target will not be met.

The fight against road accidents must take place on various fronts: educating drivers, road conditions, the state of the vehicle fleet and deterrents, all integrated into a global strategy for the transport sector.

For this to happen, targeted measures must be put in place aimed at the following: civic education in schools and driving schools, using new teaching methods, to foster civic awareness among the citizens; monitoring both drivers and the state of their vehicles, which should take the form of prevention and education rather than simply raising revenue through fines; the quality of roads and appropriate, clear signposting; and addressing the issue of car traffic, which has increased dramatically at the expense of public transport. Hence the importance of integrating this issue into a strategy for the transport sector that properly promotes the use of public transport.

 
  
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  Nils Lundgren (IND/DEM ), in writing. (SV) I am voting against this report, as I think that it is based on faulty reasoning about the political level responsible for road safety issues. The June List believes that it is primarily the Member States that have political responsibility for deciding which legislative measures are to be taken in order to improve road safety. Better road safety can be achieved by the Member States copying those strategies that have proved successful in a variety of EU countries. The views of the European Parliament may be praiseworthy, but they add extremely little in this context.

The report contains a series of proposals that do not take sufficient account of the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality. These include the proposals that children between the ages of three and eighteen should receive continuous training in road safety through a special EU Action Programme, that the Commission should implement information campaigns to combat driver tiredness in the Member States and that the Commission should also investigate the impact of driver tiredness on road safety.

 
  
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  Carl Schlyter (Verts/ALE ), in writing. (SV) Speed limits are a matter for the individual Member States and, based as they are on a wide variety of factors, they should be determined on a national basis. However much I might, for environmental or safety reasons, want to lay down regulations preventing the Germans from having their autobahns, it would be counterproductive to force such regulations on them from outside and would weaken the political forces in Germany that are fighting for the same thing.

A 0.5 per mille alcohol limit is too high and is unacceptable anyhow.

Deciding sidelight requirements at EU level would be as stupid as forcing the United Kingdom to introduce driving on the right. If 5 000 lives would be saved, it should be easy to carry this measure through at national level. I am nonetheless voting in favour of calling on the Member States to prevent dangerous driving behaviour on the part of lorry drivers because respect is in that way being shown for the rights of the national parliaments. It is also beneficial to the environment not to allow lorries to compete with trains by compromising on safety.

 
  
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  Gary Titley (PSE ), in writing . The European Parliamentary Labour Party welcomes the principle of the report, which aims to halve the number of fatalities on EU roads by 2010. The report is positive in the fact that it highlights the growing disparity in road safety between certain Member States. It also pushes for increased cooperation amongst stakeholders and the sharing of best practice.

However, attempts to introduce road safety initiatives such as Daytime Running Lights (DRLs) and harmonised blood alcohol limits will do little to improve EU road safety. Evidence suggests that DRLs will place motorcyclists and pedestrians at greater risk. Rather than alter blood alcohol limits, Member States should focus on enforcing the laws already in place and effectively penalising offenders. As such we have decided to abstain on this report.

 
  
  

Report: Záborská (A6-0478/2006 )

 
  
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  Ilda Figueiredo (GUE/NGL ), in writing . (PT) I welcome the adoption of the idea that gender mainstreaming involves reorganising, strengthening, developing and monitoring the political processes, so that the issue of equality between men and women can be incorporated into all policies, at all levels and at all stages by those usually involved in defining such policies. This should be done without undermining gender mainstreaming in specific policies aimed at redressing situations arising from inequality between men and women.

Policies aimed at equality on the one hand and gender mainstreaming on the other form a double, complementary strategy. They have to work in tandem in order that we can meet the objective of equality between men and women, as proposed in the adopted resolution.

The conditions must be in place in every Member State for there to be effective equality in all areas and not just in political posts. We therefore welcome the rejection in this plenary session of the report’s proposal to introduce a compulsory quota system for political parties in their shortlists for any collective body.

 
  
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  Lissy Gröner (PSE ), in writing . (DE) This report is an evaluation of gender mainstreaming policy in the European Parliament, further to my report on that subject (A5-0060/2003 ).

The present report on ‘gender mainstreaming in the work of the committees’ takes up issues raised in the 2003 report, evaluates the efforts made to date, and seeks to highlight the future prospects for the practical implementation of gender mainstreaming. The Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) and European Democrats voted in such a way as to cause the deletion of essential passages from a report that the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality had adopted unanimously, such as, for example, those highlighting the roles of the high-level working party, gender budgeting and personnel policy. Being persuaded that the Záborská report, in significant respects, does not go as far as the Resolution of 2003, I have voted against it.

 
  
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  Lydia Schenardi (ITS ), in writing. (FR) Although an integrated approach to equality between men and women, particularly in the area of employment, is a necessity, its authoritarian and compulsory implementation and enforcement are not.

However, that is unfortunately what is proposed in the report by my esteemed fellow Member, Mrs Záborská who, in the name of dignity and equality for women, asks us to vote in favour of a compulsory system of quotas for political parties’ candidate lists. We must not, I believe, give in to the temptation to put the ideology of gender equality above all else. That would be a counterproductive move and one that would ultimately do harm to the image of women who, through that very ideology, would be confirming the notion that, whatever their qualities, they are lacking in both competence and legitimacy.

It is indeed necessary to give women easier access to certain jobs or areas of responsibility from which they have so far been excluded or in which they have hitherto been under-represented, but let us not go to extremes or be over-zealous in courting popular opinion, for we should in that way only be damaging the cause of women.

 
  
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  Anna Záborská (PPE-DE ), in writing. (FR) At a time when we are taking stock of the last two years’ parliamentary work done by the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality, I must thank President Borrell, Chairman of the High-Level Group, who has shown much perspicacity and diplomacy in supporting our work, as well as Mrs Kaufmann, the Deputy Chairman, who has given very close attention to the work of this group, which is a vital tool for cooperation that cuts across a variety of areas.

The competences of the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality, defined by Parliament’s Rules of Procedure, are such that elected representatives have responsibility for monitoring all matters relating to equality in the European Parliament, including the budget, information policy concerning women and legislation on equal opportunities policy, as well as responsibility for joining with the administration in implementing the equal opportunities dimension and continuing to integrate it into all sectors, including staffing policy.

I should also like to say how much I appreciate the vigilance of all my fellow Members and, in particular, of Mrs Gröner, who was the catalyst for this whole initiative and who emphasised in her report that the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality is the main body in the European Parliament responsible for issues relating to women’s rights, equal opportunities and an integrated approach. I hope that this powerful collaboration will continue to inspire our work.

 

11. Corrections to votes and voting intentions: see Minutes

12. Membership of committees and delegations: see Minutes

13. Request for waiver of parliamentary immunity: see Minutes

14. Decisions concerning certain documents: see Minutes

15. Written statements for entry in the register (Rule 116): see Minutes

16. Forwarding of texts adopted during the sitting: see Minutes

17. Dates for next sittings: see Minutes

18. Adjournment of the session
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  President. I declare the session of the European Parliament adjourned.

(The sitting was closed at 1 p.m.)

 
Last updated: 23 March 2007Legal notice