Index 
Debates
Thursday, 25 November 2010 - Strasbourg OJ edition
1. Opening of the sitting
 2. Decisions concerning certain documents: see Minutes
 3. UN Security Council resolution 1325 on women and peace and security (motions for resolutions tabled): see Minutes
 4. European Ombudsman's activity report for 2009 - Special Report from the European Ombudsman to the European Parliament following the draft recommendation to the European Commission in Complaint 676/2008/RT (According to Rule 205(2), 1st part) - 26th Annual Report on Monitoring the Application of European Union Law (2008) (debate)
 5. Competition horizontal cooperation rules (debate)
 6. Fighting colorectal cancer in the European Union (written declaration)
 7. Camp Achraf (written declaration)
 8. Voting time
  8.1. 2011 budget (B7-0683/2010 ) (vote)
  8.2. Human rights, social and environmental standards in International Trade agreements (A7-0312/2010 , Tokia Saïfi) (vote)
  8.3. European Ombudsman's activity report for 2009 (A7-0275/2010 , Mariya Nedelcheva) (vote)
  8.4. Special Report from the European Ombudsman to the European Parliament following the draft recommendation to the European Commission in Complaint 676/2008/RT (According to Rule 205(2), 1st part) (A7-0293/2010 , Chrysoula Paliadeli) (vote)
  8.5. 26th Annual Report on Monitoring the Application of European Union Law (2008) (A7-0291/2010 , Eva Lichtenberger) (vote)
  8.6. Public service broadcasting in the digital era: the future of the dual system (A7-0286/2010 , Ivo Belet) (vote)
  8.7. 10th anniversary of UN Security Council resolution 1325 on women and peace and security (B7-0624/2010 ) (vote)
  8.8. The situation in the beekeeping sector (vote)
  8.9. A new Energy Strategy for Europe 2011 - 2020 (A7-0313/2010 , Lena Kolarska-Bobińska) (vote)
  8.10. Preparations for Cancún Climate Change Conference (29 November-10 December) (B7-0616/2010 ) (vote)
  8.11. Situation in Western Sahara (B7-0675/2010 ) (vote)
  8.12. Ukraine (B7-0650/2010 ) (vote)
  8.13. International Trade Policy in the context of Climate Change imperatives (A7-0310/2010 , Yannick Jadot) (vote)
  8.14. Corporate social responsibility in international trade agreements (A7-0317/2010 , Harlem Désir) (vote)
  8.15. Competition horizontal cooperation rules (vote)
 9. Explanations of vote
 10. Corrections to votes and voting intentions: see Minutes
 11. Approval of the minutes of the previous sitting: see Minutes
 12. Debates on cases of breaches of human rights, democracy and the rule of law (debate)
  12.1. Iraq - in particular, the death penalty (including the case of Tariq Aziz) and attacks against Christian communities
  12.2. Tibet - plans to make Chinese the main language of instruction
  12.3. Burma - conduct of elections and the release of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi
 13. Voting time
  13.1. Iraq - in particular, the death penalty (including the case of Tariq Aziz) and attacks against Christian communities (B7-0629/2010 )
  13.2. Tibet - plans to make Chinese the main language of instruction (B7-0637/2010 )
  13.3. Burma - conduct of elections and the release of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi (B7-0635/2010 )
 14. Corrections to votes and voting intentions: see Minutes
 15. Documents received: see Minutes
 16. Written declarations included in the register (Rule 123): see Minutes
 17. Forwarding of texts adopted during the sitting: see Minutes
 18. Dates of forthcoming sittings: see Minutes
 19. Adjournment of the session


  

IN THE CHAIR: ALEJO VIDAL-QUADRAS
Vice-President

 
1. Opening of the sitting
Video of the speeches
  

(The sitting was opened at 09:00)

 

2. Decisions concerning certain documents: see Minutes

3. UN Security Council resolution 1325 on women and peace and security (motions for resolutions tabled): see Minutes

4. European Ombudsman's activity report for 2009 - Special Report from the European Ombudsman to the European Parliament following the draft recommendation to the European Commission in Complaint 676/2008/RT (According to Rule 205(2), 1st part) - 26th Annual Report on Monitoring the Application of European Union Law (2008) (debate)
Video of the speeches
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  President. – The next item is the joint debate on the reports on the European Ombudsman and the Application of European Union Law:

– the report by Mrs Nedelcheva, on behalf of the Committee on Petitions, on the annual report on the European Ombudsman’s activities in 2009 (2010/2059 (INI)) (A7-0275/2010 );

– the report by Mrs Paliadeli, on behalf of the Committee on Petitions, on the Special Report by the European Ombudsman following his draft recommendation to the European Commission in complaint 676/2008 RT (2010/2086(INI) ) (A7-0293/2010 ); and

– the report by Mrs Lichtenberger, on behalf of the Committee on Legal Affairs, on the 26th Annual Report on Monitoring the Application of European Union Law (2008) (COM(2009)06752010/2076(INI) ) (A7-0291/2010 ).

 
  
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  Mariya Nedelcheva, rapporteur.(FR) Mr President, Mr Diamandouros, Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen, I think that we can see the mission of the European Ombudsman as involving two objectives.

First of all, there is the legal objective, which entails ensuring that the European institutions show respect for the fundamental right of good administration. Ensuring respect for this right is the very essence of the Ombudsman’s function. We are now at a key moment in the sense that the Treaty of Lisbon, which now includes the European Charter of Fundamental Rights, makes this right legally binding in Article 41. The Ombudsman therefore now has a legal basis, and one which I would say has been strengthened, to carry out his activities properly.

To achieve this objective of full respect for good administration, the Ombudsman must be inflexible when it comes to the institutions. The special reports are a tool which comes into its own here. They allow the Ombudsman to point out cases of blatant bad administration when all means of resolving disputes have been exhausted. The Porsche affair is very significant in this regard. Here, I would like to praise the determination, if I may say so, of Mr Diamandouros, in his efforts to obtain the information that he is completely entitled to request.

The second objective is moral in nature. For the Ombudsman, it involves promoting a culture of service, which is not explicitly mentioned in the treaties, but which certainly forms part of the commitments that apply to the institutions. In order to ensure that such a culture of service is established, two things are necessary. First of all, the Ombudsman must continue to encourage amicable solutions, as he has already been doing for several years. I will say again that 56% of complaints received are resolved amicably.

He must then continue his efforts with respect to communication, so that European citizens are informed of their rights, as well as the existing procedures for ensuring that these rights are respected. With regard to this, the introduction of an interactive guide is an important step forward, and I believe that many of our citizens are grateful to you for that.

So, the summary of the Ombudsman’s activities in 2009 is an entirely positive one, and that is what I tried to reflect in my report. However, I also included a number of recommendations. First, I think it is essential to strengthen links with the national parliaments and national ombudsmen. Taking action in Brussels without making sure that there is a link at national level means that it is much less effective. That is why I am asking the European Ombudsman to give more encouragement to national ombudsmen to hold regular exchanges of views with their national parliaments, modelled on the exchanges held between the European Ombudsman and ourselves in the European Parliament.

The European Network of Ombudsmen is an important tool to this end. I think that sharing information and good practices is essential in this regard. I want to say again here how important it is to introduce a common intranet portal for ombudsmen to exchange all this information.

Mr President, the citizen must be at the heart of our concerns. Transparency, proximity, good administration, a culture of service – those are the watchwords. This proximity also relates to our institution, however. That is why I would like to praise Mr Diamandouros once again for devoting so much effort to maintaining a constant link with the European Parliament and, in particular, with the Committee on Petitions. As I underlined in my report, I believe that it would be very beneficial for our two institutions and, beyond that, for European citizens if we had more exchanges when the Ombudsman carries out an own-initiative inquiry.

Thus far, Mr Diamandouros has got down very well to his task of calling the institutions to order when they wander down the tortuous path of opacity and bad administration.

Mr Diamandouros, I wish you all the best, and I am very much looking forward to reading your annual report for 2010.

 
  
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  Chrysoula Paliadeli, rapporteur. (EL) Mr President, in March 2007, an environmental organisation asked for correspondence between the European Commission and the automobile industry to be disclosed during the course of consultations on the preparation of a legislative proposal on carbon dioxide emissions.

Eight months later, the Commission granted access to 16 of 19 letters, refusing – without legal justification – to disclose three letters from Porsche. The environmental organisation took recourse to the European Ombudsman, who prepared a draft recommendation addressed to the Commission a month later, asking it to reply within three months, in accordance with Article 288 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.

The Commission requested five extensions, only to state – in June 2009 – that it was not in a position, a year after the Ombudsman’s draft recommendation, to disclose the correspondence with this particular automobile manufacturer, due to continuing consultations with it. Up to October 2010, the Ombudsman had no information at his disposal.

This unwarranted delay resulted in a special report to the European Parliament, charging the Commission with refusing to cooperate honestly and in good faith and, at the same time, pointing out the danger in undermining the facility for the two institutions to supervise the Commission.

As a result of this special report from the Ombudsman which Parliament is being called upon to pass today, the first on the subject of maladministration, the letters from this particular automobile manufacturer were disclosed, fifteen months after the Ombudsman’s initial request. Between September 2008 and February 2010, the Commission arrived at a decision which had been suggested to it in the Ombudsman’s draft recommendation fifteen months earlier. At the same time, it was proven that that this specific automobile manufacturer had ultimately agreed to the – albeit partial – disclosure of its letters.

It is clear from the foregoing that the Commission was, of course, obliged to take account of the relative article of the European Parliament regulation requiring the institutions to refuse access to documents if their disclosure would undermine the protection of the commercial interests of private individuals or legal entities. However, given that the Ombudsman’s office checked the letters and found that they did not contain information that would damage the commercial interests of this particular automobile manufacturer, the Commission should have immediately disclosed at least some of them, in line with the Ombudsman’s suggestion. If, however, it had reservations in interpreting the draft recommendation, it was obliged, in order to justify its decisions, to submit equally strong legal assessments confirming the possibility that the automobile manufacturer in question might take recourse to the courts on the basis of Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001 of the European Parliament.

I have no wish to comment here on the total silence which the automobile manufacturer in question has maintained in response to the Commission’s request. However, I do consider it unacceptable for the supreme executive body of the European Union to use the refusal, a refusal which is almost dismissive of the European institutions on the part of a private company, to decline to respond to such a request as an argument, especially as its letters contain no information which might activate the application of the relevant article of Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001 of the European Parliament and give cause to take the Commission to court.

 
  
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  Eva Lichtenberger, rapporteur.(DE) Mr President, my report on the implementation of Community law is of the utmost importance here in the European Parliament. Here in the European Parliament, we have a process of legislation which, although highly complex, is one of the most transparent when compared to national parliaments. I would point out that I have been a member of a national assembly, so I know what I am talking about.

This lengthy process involving the governments of the Member States, as well as the European Parliament, produces results that are often only evident once implemented in national legislation. However, if implementation in the various national parliaments does not take place or is inefficient, then we, the Members of this House, Parliament itself, and the European Union as a whole, are faced with a major credibility problem. I consider this a very serious issue. As Members of the European Parliament, we are constantly being confronted by citizens who tell us about the shortcomings of the system. The Commission regularly receives complaints from citizens about how national law is implemented. I would just like to mention a couple of examples: Let us consider the refuse crisis in Naples. This is a recurring problem, which we are witnessing not for the first or second time, but for the third time. Yet we find that the European directives on waste disposal, for example, have not been implemented. The Commission has intervened here, but this intervention has not succeeded in having the principles of waste disposal we in Europe believe to be critically important implemented at national level. Let us consider my own country, Austria. Here, the Environmental Impact Assessment Directive has been poorly implemented. One case, involving the closure of a ski resort, clearly shows that there are enormous problems here. Another example can be found in the area of transport, where it is stipulated that Member States must respect rest time for drivers in traffic management and where controls are required to ensure compliance. The shocking lack of controls in this sector is resulting in an increasing number of accidents due to driver fatigue. In this context, it should be stated that we must avoid frustrating our citizens in their concern to see Community law implemented. They must be given timely information about legislation and they should be able to rely on the fact that the process will take place in a transparent manner.

We, as Members of the European Parliament, urgently need a procedure to enable us to receive this feedback from our citizens, while still respecting confidentiality requirements. I would like to ask you, Commissioner, whether you are prepared to endorse the procedure we propose in our report. This would constitute a significant step forward in the direction of transparency, openness and clarity in the European process.

Finally, I would like again to emphasise: if we lose our credibility because we fail to pay sufficient attention to the implementation of Community law in European Member States, this will lead to a credibility problem for the European Union as a whole.

 
  
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  Nikiforos Diamandouros, Ombudsman. – Mr President, honourable Members, thank you for this opportunity to address you. I wish to thank the Committee on Petitions, and especially the chair, Mrs Mazzoni. They continue to offer me valuable support and advice, as evidenced by the excellent reports submitted to this Chamber by Mrs Nedelcheva and Mrs Paliadeli, whom I thank warmly for their kind words.

Parliament and the Ombudsman both work to ensure that citizens and residents of the EU can enjoy their rights to the full, but we do so in different ways. The Ombudsman’s mandate is more limited. I only deal with complaints against EU institutions, whilst you can also examine what Member States are doing. Furthermore, Parliament as a sovereign political body can deal with petitions that request changes in the law, or new laws. In contrast, my role is to help uncover maladministration and to attempt to put it right.

Unlike court rulings, an Ombudsman’s decisions are not legally binding. I can only use the power of persuasion to convince the EU institutions to follow my recommendations, or to achieve friendly solutions which can satisfy both sides.

Where EU institutions refuse to follow my recommendations, it is of fundamental importance that the Ombudsman can turn to Parliament to seek its support, and I am naturally very grateful that Parliament continues to do so, as evidenced by the Nedelcheva and Paliadeli reports.

This is the first annual report presented to you since the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon. I will continue to work in close cooperation with Parliament in order to further our common goal of providing European citizens with the maximum possible benefits from their rights under the treaty, acting always in accordance with my mandate as an independent and impartial investigator of alleged maladministration – an independence and impartiality which applies equally to the complainant as well as to the institution complained against.

In 2009, my office closed 318 inquires, 70% of which were completed within one year. 55% were completed within three months. On average, inquiries took nine months to complete, which was well within my standard goal of completing inquiries within one year.

I am pleased to note that, in 2009, 56% of all investigations were either settled by the institution or resulted in a friendly solution. This represents a large improvement over 2008, when the percentage was 36%. In 35 cases, I issued a critical remark. This is a significant improvement compared to 2008, when I issued 44 critical remarks, or even 2007, when I issued 55. The sustained reduction is good news, but this is still too many.

Honourable Members, I make efforts to help every complainant who turns to the Ombudsman, even in cases where the complaint is not within my mandate. In 2009, I received a total of 2 392 such complaints, a 6% decline compared to 2008. This decline is encouraging news. Reducing the number of inadmissible complaints has been a long-standing request of Parliament. I attribute this result at least in part to the fact that more citizens are finding the right address to turn to the first time around.

In January 2009, I launched an interactive guide on my new website, which is accessible in all 23 EU languages. This guide aims to direct complainants to the body best placed to help them, whether it be my own services, the services of national or regional ombudsmen in the Member States, or problem-solving mechanisms such as the cross-border online network Solvit.

During 2009, the guide was used by more than 26 000 people. It is very important for citizens to be guided to the most appropriate complaint-handling body from the outset and to be spared the frustrations and delays associated with having to identify the right institution on their own.

This also means that complaints are resolved more promptly and effectively, thus ensuring that citizens can fully enjoy their rights under EU law and also that EU law is properly implemented.

Over the last three years, I have also made strenuous efforts to raise awareness about the services I can offer to businesses, associations, NGOs, regional authorities and other target groups, that is, anybody who is involved in EU projects or programmes and who has direct dealings with the EU administration.

To further ensure awareness of the Ombudsman’s work, I stepped up cooperation during 2009 with other information and problem-solving networks such as Europe Direct and Solvit. I also intensified my efforts to reach out to potential complainants by organising a range of public events; all these outreach activities, combined with the solid results obtained for complainants, resulted in median coverage of the Ombudsman’s work increasing by 85%.

The number of enquiries opened, based on complaints received in 2009, rose from 293 to 335. This increase must be at least partly attributed to outreach activities. I have also continued my efforts to improve the quality of information provided to citizens and potential complainants concerning their rights under EU law through the European network of Ombudsmen which greatly helps to facilitate the rapid transfer of complaints to the competent Ombudsman or similar body.

Furthermore, I continued to strive to make certain that EU institutions adopt a citizen-centred approach in all their activities. This is a task that must be tackled in tandem with the institutions. To promote this goal with respect to the Commission, I am in close contact with the Vice-President of the Commission responsible for relations with the Ombudsman, Commissioner Šefčovič, who I thank for his presence here today, and I am grateful for his close cooperation and support to date.

The most common allegation I examined in 2009 was lack of transparency. This arose in 36% of all enquiries. It is with a certain degree of concern that I note the continuing high percentage of such complaints. An accountable and transparent EU administration is surely key to building citizens’ trust. I also regret the lengthy delays by the Commission in responding to access to document cases. The most outrageous case is dealt with in Mrs Paliadeli’s report which makes clear that Parliament expects substantial improvement from the Commission in this regard.

The entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty was the key event of 2009. The treaty makes new promises to citizens concerning fundamental rights, enhanced transparency and greater opportunities for participation in the Union’s policy making. It also makes the Charter of Fundamental Rights, including the right to good administration, legally binding.

Reform of the Financial Regulation offers an additional excellent opportunity to put the fundamental right to good administration into practice. I believe that the relevant rules should provide guidance to officials as to how they should ensure both sound financial management and good administration. Honourable Members, I developed and recently adopted a strategy to cover the whole period of my mandate. The document containing it was circulated during this past week to your Bureau, the Conference of Presidents and the Committee on Petitions for information.

The strategy is designed to implement the mission statement for my institution which I adopted in 2009 and which reads as follows. ‘The European Ombudsman seeks fair outcomes to complaints against European Union institutions, encourages transparency and promotes an administrative culture of service. He aims to build trust through dialogue, between citizens and the European Union and to foster the highest standards of behaviour in the Union’s institutions’.

It is within this spirit, Mr President, honourable Members, this spirit of the Commission statement, that I will continue to work in carrying out the mandate which this august body has entrusted me with.

 
  
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  Maroš Šefčovič, Vice-President of the Commission. – Mr President, please bear with me because I will try to respond to our three rapporteurs and the Ombudsman. I would like to start by thanking Ms Nedelcheva, Ms Paliadeli and Ms Lichtenberger for their reports. It is very clear that we share the same goals: namely, that administration should be efficient and professional and that European law be respected. That is the basis on which we intend to discuss these matters and, I am sure, to seek a positive result.

Turning to Mr Diamandouros, I would also like to express my appreciation for his close cooperation with the Commission. I think this is a special day for him because he can see that his work is also very highly appreciated by the European Parliament. I can assure you that the communication between us and between our services is very intense. Hardly a week passes when I do not send a letter of explanation to the Ombudsman and get a response from him. This is how we try to find the right solutions in our work. Of course, there are some outstanding issues on which we are working, but I think that is simply proof of our fruitful communication.

I would like to emphasise that the Commission welcomes Ms Nedelcheva’s report, which offers a clear and exhaustive overview of the Ombudsman’s activities for the past year. In fact, in the Ombudsman’s report on his 2009 activities, the results of his various inquiries are clearly presented, illustrated with examples and classified into categories according to the nature of the cases of maladministration or the institution concerned.

As Mr Diamandouros has already said, in 2009, the Ombudsman recorded a total of 3 098 complaints, as against 3 406 in 2008. This represents a 9% decrease on the year, but we are fully aware that 56% of the inquiries were addressed to the Commission. We are also aware that the most frequent claims for maladministration concern a lack of transparency, including a refusal to provide information, and I am committed to tackling such cases further.

The Commission welcomes the efforts made by the Ombudsman to further reduce the average length of his inquiries to nine months. The Commission stresses, however, that its own deadlines for internal consultation and for the College of Commissioners to endorse its replies should be taken into consideration by the Ombudsman in his efforts to reduce the time for dealing with a complaint. Each response is confirmed and endorsed by the College, and it takes some time to reach the College.

It should be noted that the Ombudsman has conducted an intensive information campaign, which has resulted in greater awareness of citizens’ rights and better understanding of his spheres of competence. In this regard, the Ombudsman tends readily to issue press releases, and these are often published at a stage when the Ombudsman has just sent the Commission a draft recommendation, thus leaving no room for the Commission for defence, since its reply is still ongoing.

In some cases, a friendly solution may be found if the institution offers redress to the complainant. This solution is freely offered, without involving liability issues or setting a legal precedent. If a friendly solution cannot be found, the Ombudsman can make recommendations to resolve the case. If the institution does not accept his recommendations, he can make a special report to Parliament. In 2009, there were no special reports sent to Parliament by the Ombudsman. A special report was sent to Parliament in 2010 regarding a complaint on access to Commission documents.

Relations with the Ombudsman have occasionally given rise to differences of opinion. This has been the case with inquiries concerning infringement procedures. The Ombudsman often argues that the Commission has not provided a sufficient explanation of its position, which clearly requires a response from the Commission on the substantive content of its reasoning and comes close to a debate on the merits of the Commission’s line. However, the Commission has tended to respond at great length to the Ombudsman, setting out in detail, and backing up, the interpretations of the law that have been applied, while adding a disclaimer about differences in interpretation of the law and stressing that the final arbiter is the European Court of Justice.

Given the developments which have occurred in recent years on the registering and treatment of complaints (the ‘EU Pilot’ project), as confirmed in its annual report on monitoring the application of EU law in 2009, the Commission would like, in the near future, to update its Communication of 23 March 2002 on relations with the complainant in respect of infringements of Community law. I have personally met the Ombudsman and was able to inform him about these developments.

In the field of transparency and access to documents, the Commission thoroughly examines all the complaints addressed to it by the Ombudsman.

One of these cases led the Ombudsman to submit in 2010 a special report to Parliament and this is the subject of Ms Paliadeli’s report. I regret that this special report was sent shortly after the Commission had taken a final decision in the case. Nevertheless, I acknowledge that the time taken for reaching this decision was excessive, even if it was due to the failure of the third party to respond to the Commission’s proposal. I would like to stress that the Commission is fully committed to sincerely cooperating with the Ombudsman. There is no question of unwillingness to cooperate on the part of the Commission and certainly no intention to obstruct the Ombudsman’s work in any way. The Commission always strives to cooperate closely with the Ombudsman. However, some requests for access to documents are particularly complex or voluminous and cannot be handled within normal timeframes. The Commission handles around 5 000 access requests per year, of which only 15 to 20 lead to complaints to the Ombudsman.

The entry into force of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union has made it possible to start thinking about how to achieve a common approach in order to establish an open, effective and independent European administration. The Commission therefore considers that an interinstitutional dialogue is needed before presenting any legislative proposal. A positive outcome here seems possible, and cooperation between the two institutions on the matter should ensure it.

If you will allow me, Mr President, I will also respond to Ms Lichtenberger because she has made a great effort to be here this morning. I would like to assure her that the Commission attaches great importance to the correct application of EU law and, as you know, this was among the priorities of the Barroso Commission. Already in our communication ‘A Europe of results’, in 2007, the Commission committed itself to improving its working methods to ensure the more efficient pursuit of problems arising in the application of EU law, focusing on the issues which cause the most problems for citizens and businesses. I said in this communication that the annual report represents more of a strategic evaluation of the application of EU law, identifying the main challenges, setting priorities and programming work according to those priorities. The Commission welcomes Parliament’s response to this report. The following remarks pick up on some of the key issues.

Concerning the provision of information on infringements, the Commission is in the process of implementing the new framework agreement with Parliament. It is committed to providing Parliament with the information set out in that agreement. The Commission also looks forward to associating Parliament with its work on the ‘Your Europe’ portal to ensure that citizens know where to go to find the information that they seek.

We welcome Parliament’s recognition of the contribution of the EU Pilot project to a properly functioning, citizen-focused European Union, in accordance with the Lisbon Treaty. This project is designed to ensure that citizens’ concerns and complaints about the application of EU law are followed up, and that is, of course, a major consideration for us. In doing this work, the Commission has to respect the confidentiality to which the Court of Justice has confirmed that the Member States are entitled concerning the investigation of alleged application issues and potential infringement proceedings.

Therefore, while the Commission provided extensive information in its report adopted in March this year on the functioning of the EU Pilot project, it does not grant access to, or divulge information on, the particular cases being handled under EU Pilot. At the same time, the Commission recognises the importance of ensuring the timely provision to citizens of a full and clear evaluation of the outcome of work done with the Member States in EU Pilot, and it is committed to ensuring that complainants have an opportunity to comment on the outcome.

On the question of the adoption of the procedural code under Article 298, the Commission understands that a working group has been set up in Parliament to study the potential scope and content of such an initiative. The Commission also considers it appropriate to weigh the outcome of initial work on the overall issue before considering any more specific elements. For the moment, therefore, we reserve our position on all aspects.

The Commission is also preparing to provide up-to-date information on the resources devoted to the application of EU law. The draft resolution being discussed today covers a wide range of issues and, in its response to the resolution, the Commission will provide additional explanations which would be very difficult to provide today, mainly through lack of time.

Mr President, honourable Members, we are glad to share the common interest in the current application of EU law for the benefit of EU citizens and businesses. The effective application of EU law is one of the cornerstones of the EU, as a well as a key component of smart regulation.

I would like to apologise to the interpreters for speaking so quickly. Thank you very much for your patience, and thanks to all of you for your attention.

 
  
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  President. – Yes, I am afraid you did have a slight tendency to accelerate. Thank you.

 
  
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  Rainer Wieland, rapporteur for the opinion of the Committee on Petitions.(DE) Mr President, Mr Diamandouros, Commissioner, this is a joint debate we are holding here. I am speaking on behalf of the Chair of the Committee on Petitions, who unfortunately is ill, and I would like to limit my remarks to Mrs Paliadeli’s report.

This House has often debated and discussed the issue of access to documents and the benefits of transparency and the question of where the line should be drawn between the legitimate rights and interests of the public at large, on the one hand, and the legitimate interests of individuals and companies, on the other. By the way, Mrs Paliadeli, the shoe can also be on the other foot, namely that information is made available to an NGO and a company or individual then seeks to find out exactly what information has been shared. We are not considering the question of who is good or bad here, but simply the issue of timeframes and deadlines. These deadlines must be honoured insofar as they relate to individual citizens and, of course, to the Ombudsman. This is what you might call a fundamental principle of good administration. We would expect the Commission, which has shown such an interest in speeding business up, as the Vice-President has already mentioned, to take a closer look at this issue and to effect an improvement.

 
  
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  Elena Băsescu, on behalf of the PPE Group.(RO) Mr President, I would like to take the floor as shadow rapporteur for the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) for the special European Ombudsman’s report. I wish to begin by emphasising that achieving a consensus among all the political groups facilitated the drafting of the report. I must mention that not a single amendment was tabled and I would like, at the same time, to congratulate Mrs Paliadeli for this result.

It is worrying that the Commission’s uncooperative behaviour towards the Ombudsman may create a significant lack of trust among citizens in the EU’s institutions. The absence of good cooperation jeopardises the ability of the Ombudsman and the European Parliament to supervise the Commission effectively. I also wish to recall the principle of sincere cooperation stipulated in the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. It entails the consolidation of relations in good faith between the EU’s institutions. Unfortunately, the Ombudsman is very often faced with the Commission’s failure to meet deadlines for providing public access to documents.

Another worrying aspect is that the Ombudsman had to compile a special report as a last resort to persuade the Commission to be more cooperative. Such incidents should no longer be encountered in future. In this respect, I would like to ask the European Commission to make further efforts to cooperate more efficiently with the Ombudsman. It must not be overlooked that any time the Commission is not going to assume such a commitment, Parliament will be able to apply sanctions. The situation revealed in the report creates a systematic problem. It deprives citizens of one of the key benefits which they expect to gain as a result of the basic right to lodge complaints.

 
  
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  Monika Flašíková Beňová, on behalf of the S&D Group.(SK) Mr President, I would like to thank all three Members for the reports we are discussing here today in the joint debate, and I would particularly like to talk about Mrs Lichtenberger’s report, as it shows exceptional rigour in my opinion, and I agree with much that it says. I, too, would therefore like to be a little more critical today, Mr Vice-President.

It can generally be said that the Commission does not, on the whole, tell citizens or Parliament enough about how it monitors the implementation of Community law. At the same time, the Treaty on European Union clearly establishes an active role for EU citizens, for example, with the European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI). I am also delighted, Mr Vice-President, that you are here with us today in this debate, as I know that you personally are not only competent but you have an extremely close involvement in the ECI.

Despite this, however, the annual reports of the European Commission on monitoring the application of EU law in their current form do not provide Parliament or the people with enough information on the state of affairs. The Commission has so far focused too much on the transposition of European law into national law, while greatly neglecting its actual application. A terse reference to formal proceedings in the case of a Member State which has not yet transposed an EU law at the national level does not tell us or our citizens very much. We must and we want to learn more about cases where the Commission investigates imprecise or completely defective transpositions. Only when we are fully informed of such cases will we be able to talk about consistent monitoring of the application of EU law.

As we all surely know, ladies and gentlemen, the European Parliament has certain duties and powers in respect of the Commission. This includes monitoring and evaluation. We in the European Parliament have a sincere interest in sensibly evaluating the Commission’s progress in fulfilling your tasks, safeguarding agreements and complying with EU law. However, we do not have sufficient access to the information on the basis of which the Commission handles breaches of regulations. This is not a new request, Mr Vice-President.

Back in February, in the resolution on the revised framework agreement between the European Parliament and the Commission, we asked the Commission, and I quote: ‘to make available to the European Parliament summary details of all proceedings in matters of breaches of regulations on the basis of an official request, if the European Parliament so desires’, end quotation. I would like to make a strong appeal for the Commission to provide this information to us and, through us, to the citizens of the EU.

In conclusion, Mr Vice-President, I have said several times in my speeches that the European Parliament has a sincere interest in assisting the Commission, and even in supporting it against the Council. We are now making a request to you for the Commission to provide the European Parliament in return with the information we are requesting not only for ourselves, but also for the citizens of the Member States of the European Union.

 
  
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  Margrete Auken, on behalf of the Verts/ALE Group.(DA) Mr President, in the Committee on Petitions, in other words, the committee that deals with citizens’ complaints, respect for EU legislation is absolutely key. Citizens come to us because national or local authorities do not comply with EU legislation, for example, with regard to the protection of human health or the environment. We need only consider the many complaints we have received concerning the long-standing waste crisis in Campania, despite a clear ruling by the European Court of Justice, and concerning the freezing of funds. Nothing has really been done to solve this problem. Both the citizens and the protected environment are suffering. This is what we called ‘fortunate Campania’ – oh dear! The Commission must immediately utilise all means at its disposal in this regard.

The treaty assigns the Commission a key role. That is, to monitor the Member States’ compliance with EU legislation. In the committee, we therefore pay close attention to how the Commission deals with infringements of the rules. In light of this, I welcome Mrs Lichtenberger’s report. She makes it absolutely clear that it is not good enough simply to send complaints about the Member States’ infringements back to them for them to resolve themselves. They are the ones that the complaints are about. This leaves citizens utterly high and dry.

In this connection, I would like to compliment the European Ombudsman for having carried out a study on his own initiative precisely on the Commission’s new way of dealing with complaints and infringements, particularly the way the Commission records, or perhaps simply does not record, complaints against Member States for disregarding Community law. The Ombudsman also has the competence to give an opinion on the substance of the matter when the Commission is accused of not having followed up on the infringements, even if, in the final instance, it is, of course, the Court that is to decide the matter.

In any case, it will constitute progress if we now adopt the proposal in Mrs Nedelcheva’s report to have a proper law on EU administration procedures, which we finally have a basis for in Article 298 of the Treaty of Lisbon.

It is good that the Ombudsman’s annual report shows many signs of improvements, but it is still worrying that over a third of the complaints relate to a lack of transparency and access to documents and information. In this regard, it is disgraceful that both the Commission and several Member States are trying to protect large lobbyists from the citizens by means of something that clearly looks like abuse of the data protection rules.

One appalling example in this regard is provided by the Ombudsman’s Special Report on Porsche and the correspondence concerning protection of CO2 limits for cars. Does anyone here believe that a small or medium-sized enterprise was consulted by the Commission concerning access to letters, or that the Commission wanted to delay the case for 15 months for the sake of a small enterprise? Of course not! It was because it was Porsche and, of course, perhaps also because it was Mr Verheugen. The Ombudsman’s Special Report tells a longer story and I would like to recommend that everyone reads both Mrs Paliadeli’s excellent report and the Ombudsman’s report itself. It is great entertainment. It will open your eyes time and again. The most serious aspect of this case, however, is the Commission’s lack of loyal cooperation with the Ombudsman. This is an important report. Parliament needs to come up with a clear statement on this matter. I would like to thank the Ombudsman and Mrs Paliadeli.

 
  
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  Oldřich Vlasák, on behalf of the ECR Group. (CS) Mr President, the annual report of the Ombudsman is a good example of how we should present our activities to the public. The report is comprehensible, concise and to the point. I therefore highly applaud your efforts and the trouble you have gone to, and I would also like to congratulate you personally in this way. However, I would, at the same time, like to state at this point that I see one systemic problem in the activities of the office of the Ombudsman. That problem is public awareness. Let us concede, namely, that the European Union, as an international organisation, is, to a considerable extent, hard to understand, and not only in terms of its grants, but also in the area of its powers, institutions, decision-making processes and adopted policies and legislation. What I mean by this is that it is hard to understand for the ordinary citizen. The same applies logically to the office of the Ombudsman as well. I am quite sure that if we conducted a survey of European citizens regarding the role of the European Ombudsman and his powers and activities, we would unfortunately find that he is perceived as someone far away and, in many cases, people will not even know that he exists. The facts are relatively clear. A great majority of the complaints submitted by my fellow countrymen from the Czech Republic did not fall within the remit of the European Ombudsman. The situation is no different for other Member States.

When we debated the 2008 report in this place, everyone here called for greater public awareness. Extensive information campaigns were proposed, and website launches were considered. However, I myself made a trial attempt to post a complaint on your website yesterday. I have to say that the interactive guide was too complicated and, to tell the truth, incomprehensible to the ordinary citizen. The actual complaint form is similarly complicated. It reminds me a little of the tax return forms in the Czech Republic, which ordinary citizens cannot complete without a tax advisor. To tell the truth, your website discourages citizens from making complaints. I would therefore like to make an appeal for simplification.

Another thing I consider hugely important is to reduce the time needed for handling cases. Ultimately, we know that if someone makes a complaint, it is of the utmost importance from the perspective of trust that the complaint be handled as quickly as possible, and that the complainant receives a response as quickly as possible. Additionally, if a given issue is not within the competence of the body to which the complaint is addressed, the complaint should be referred directly to the national or regional ombudsman that has the relevant powers.

Ladies and gentlemen, too much communication kills off information. Too much information kills off European citizens. In my opinion, it should be a priority of the Ombudsman not only to resolve but also to prevent incorrect bureaucratic procedures. I therefore consider it key for this institution not to be taken advantage of for media campaigns, and for there to be no extension of its powers. After his election, Ombudsman Diamandouros said: ‘I will continue the effort to improve the quality of European Union administration’. I would therefore like to ask in conclusion what systemic problem have you specifically managed to improve, and what do you intend to turn your attention to in the coming year. I wish you every success in finding systemic solutions.

 
  
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  Willy Meyer, on behalf of the GUE/NGL Group.(ES) Mr President, my group would like to thank Mrs Nedelcheva for this report, which provides us with a wealth of information from the Committee on Petitions on the work of the European Ombudsman.

It is a very descriptive report covering all activities in 2009 and a large proportion of the complaints, which, incidentally, declined by 9% compared with the previous year. More than half of the complaints relate to the European Commission.

I believe that the complaints that have been made to the Ombudsman criticise poor administrative practices, such as a lack of transparency or denying access to documents. We can be satisfied that a large proportion of these complaints are resolved through the Ombudsman’s handling of them, and that we are therefore going in the right direction.

The objectives for 2010 were summed up in five objectives: openly listening to suggestions in order to identify best practices, working in order to find ways of achieving quicker results, persuading in order to have a better impact on the administrative culture of the institutions, providing timely, useful information that can be accessed quickly and adapting in order to ensure good resource management, efficiency and effectiveness. I believe that the objectives that were set for 2010 are extremely relevant.

We are faced with the need to update mechanisms that will enable us to resolve cases involving a lack of transparency and information, which are certainly arising. We have the example of the Paliadeli report, in relation to the case of Porsche, and as Porsche refused, or rather the Commission refused to publish some of the motor company’s letters, Parliament needs to support the Ombudsman and the Ombudsman also needs to rely on the European Parliament in order to acquire better information on these matters.

The recent decision of the Court of Justice of the European Union overturning the Commission’s decision to publish the list of recipients of common agricultural policy aid is very concerning. In other words, that decision goes against the basic principles of transparency, which should govern everything relating to the European budget, and is a direct attack on the right of Europeans to know who their taxes go to. I think that this is bad practice which we should seek to resolve through Parliament through the necessary legislative changes.

 
  
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  Nikolaos Salavrakos, on behalf of the EFD Group.(EL) Mr President, having read the European Ombudsman’s report for 2009, I feel obliged to praise Mr Diamandouros, because he represents and serves with honour the institution which unites European citizens and makes them feel safe.

It is, of course, the European Ombudsman’s job to ensure that any private individual or legal entity that encounters problems with the institutions of the European Union in terms of abuse of power or any other form of maladministration can take recourse to him.

Having read the report, I realise that the success of the institution and its officers is due to the fact that: firstly, most – the figure is already 70% – of investigations are completed within one year and over half – in fact 55% – are completed within three months. That illustrates how fast the European Ombudsman and his associates act and how smoothly this institution operates.

Secondly, in 80% of the cases dealt with, the Ombudsman was able to help the interested party resolve the issue one way or another, either by referring them to the competent body or by advising which body they needed to contact in order to resolve their problem quickly. This proves how efficient this institution is.

We should not overlook the fact that 84% of petitions were submitted by private individuals and just 16% were submitted by companies or associations. This, too, proves the high regard which European citizens who feel that they have been the victim of maladministration have for the institution and its representatives. I should like to point out that nine of the cases closed in 2009 are examples of best practice. I must say that I personally was especially pleased by the statement in the introduction to the report that the European Ombudsman intends to help ensure that the European Union can give its citizens the benefits promised to them in the Treaty of Lisbon. My congratulations therefore to Mr Diamandouros.

 
  
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  Martin Ehrenhauser (NI ).(DE) Mr President, I also once lodged a complaint with the Ombudsman, and, although things did not work out quite so well for me and I was not satisfied with the judgment, nonetheless I would like to compliment the Ombudsman on his work. I believe it is very important for us here in this House to support the work he does.

In his opening speech, the Ombudsman rightly pointed out that his success or failure largely depends on the actions of the institutions. If we consider the Porsche case, for example, then the limits of the Ombudsman’s powers and the lack of seriousness with which some institutions regard his recommendations become quite evident.

Of course, it is also necessary for us to put our own house in order, for example, in the case of the purchase of the Altero-Spinelli building, where there have been some enormous irregularities. The Ombudsman made some clear recommendations and amendments were issued. However, so far, very little progress has actually been made in Parliament. The amendments were rejected. This demonstrates yet again how the House views these recommendations. What I am getting at is that it is very important for us to put our own house in order and to take the recommendations of the Ombudsman seriously, thereby strengthening his position.

 
  
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  Tadeusz Zwiefka (PPE ).(PL) Mr President, as is the case every year, the Committee on Legal Affairs is presenting Parliament with its report regarding the European Commission’s report on the application of EU law and, as is the case every year, members of the Committee on Legal Affairs have many reservations as to the substance and the form in which the Commission prepared the report.

There is no doubt that the issue of transposing EU law into national systems is a very serious problem within the Union. The same regulations are being introduced by various countries at different times which, in certain respects, is, of course, understandable. However, this should not lead to delays that cause a lack of legal surety and, as a consequence, make it impossible for citizens to exercise their rights. As our rapporteur correctly points out, delays in transposition as well as the incorrect application of EU law bring with them real costs and lead to a lack of trust in EU institutions among citizens. For this reason as well, I welcome all of the Commission’s initiatives such as meetings of experts and bilateral dialogue between the Commission and Member States, the aim of which is to resolve these problems as quickly as possible. I am observing with great interest the EU pilot programme, which is supposed to be a tool enabling a rapid response to all cases of incorrect application or adaptation of EU law to national legislation.

We also emphasise once again the role that national courts play in the practical application and interpretation of EU law. This role will not be correctly performed, however, if appropriate training is not given, meetings are not held and an EU legal culture is not created. With regard to our Parliament – and I address my fellow Members – the law that we create, because we are legislators, must be clear and comprehensible, for only when it is understandable can it be transposed easily into national systems and will there be fewer problems associated with it.

 
  
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  Lidia Joanna Geringer de Oedenberg (S&D ).(PL) Mr President, when analysing the report on the European Ombudsman’s activities for 2009, I was glad to note the further development of cooperation between the Ombudsman and the Committee on Petitions. I rate very highly the work of Professor Diamandouros, who has been the Ombudsman since 2003, as well as his efforts in informing citizens of opportunities available to them to submit complaints about the incorrect functioning of EU administration and his encouragement of citizens to exercise their rights.

Taking into account the fact that that only 23% of the more than 3 000 complaints registered in 2009 came within the remit of the Ombudsman, he should absolutely continue his activities in the field of information. Due to his limited competences, he is only able to investigate complaints regarding European Union institutions and bodies. However, what is important is that everyone who submits to the Ombudsman a complaint that cannot be accepted on formal grounds receives information as to which authority they should turn to in each given case.

It is also important to stress that the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon significantly strengthens the democratic legitimacy of the Ombudsman and expands his remit into foreign policy. It should also be noted that the Ombudsman is increasingly undertaking action on his own initiative; for example, regarding delayed payments from the European Union, disability and discrimination. His actions have also led to the creation of the European Code of Good Administrative Behaviour. Further good news is the fact that the time required to conduct proceedings has been reduced to nine months.

The high percentage of cases completed in which the institution that a complaint referred to came to an agreement or the case was resolved to the benefit of the complainant also testifies to the effectiveness of the Ombudsman and his good cooperation with other bodies. This occurred in as many as 56% of cases in 2009. I hope that the Ombudsman, supported by us, Parliament and the other institutions, will continue his work with the same energy and even greater effectiveness than to date.

 
  
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  Anneli Jäätteenmäki (ALDE ). (FI) Mr President, my thanks go to the European Ombudsman and his Office for the admirable work that they have done for his Office in difficult circumstances. Openness, the right of access to information, and the right to good governance are all crucial if the public are to have confidence in the ability of the EU institutions to monitor their rights. It is worrying that year after year, the greatest administrative flaw in the system is the lack of transparency, and even a refusal to part with information and documents. In this respect, the Porsche case is very serious. When the Commission waited 15 months before handing over the documents it was asked for, it was seriously neglecting its duty to cooperate honestly with the Ombudsman. This attitude on the part of the Commission sapped the confidence of our citizens in the Commission and harmed the EU’s public image.

Now that a Commissioner and the Ombudsman are sitting there quietly next to each other, I think it would be a good idea if they began a confidential and thorough discussion about whether they respect one another’s work and whether they are prepared to cooperate and act in accordance with the EU’s very own basic principles. I do not want to blame any single Commissioner in connection with this, but the Commission should have a genuine debate on the matter, because the EU’s public image is certainly not so good that we can afford more cases like Porsche again in the future.

The rights of our citizens have to be respected by the Commission, the Council, and obviously Parliament too – by all the EU institutions.

 
  
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  Gerald Häfner (Verts/ALE ).(DE) Mr President, Mr Diamandouros has been a real asset for our citizens and for the European Union and I would like to thank him sincerely for his work. Of course, it also touches on a sore point, namely, the area where improvements are needed. The Porsche case has just been mentioned. As a German citizen, I must say that I am thoroughly ashamed of what has gone on here. Here we have a German Commissioner and a German car company and correspondence between them. All correspondence between the Commission and other car manufacturers in Italy, Spain and other countries is published, but not the German correspondence. The Ombudsman has issued not one, not two, but three reprimands and yet no action has been taken. Things urgently need to improve. I would like to emphasise this in the strongest possible terms.

The second thing I would like to say is that when we use the word ‘pilots’, we generally think of a group of professionals who spend their working lives high above the ground. I am not quite sure how the Commission hit upon the idea of referring to its new project on how to handle the complaints of European citizens as a ‘pilot project’ because in essence, it offers nothing new. Citizens first lodge well-justified complaints in their own country. No action gets taken there. Hence, they turn to the Commission. What does the Commission do? It sends the complaint on a return flight to its country of origin and, once again, nothing gets done. I do not believe that this is an adequate way of dealing with the concerns and complaints of our citizens and I would like to take this opportunity to ask Commissioner Šefčovič, who I hold in very high regard, to state that he either intends to abandon this project or to reconsider how we can ensure that the complaints of our citizens are sent to the place where they will actually be dealt with and that citizens will receive justice and redress.

 
  
  

IN THE CHAIR: ISABELLE DURANT
Vice-President

 
  
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  Marek Henryk Migalski (ECR ).(PL) Madam President, Commissioner, I do not wish to change this Chamber into a university classroom. However, as you know, the office of ombudsman was first established in Europe nearly 300 years ago. For this reason, it is no surprise that we are interested in such matters and devote so much attention to them.

I think that all three reports deserve attention, with only one reservation. In Mrs Nedelcheva’s report, there is one section that I find alarming. The worthy and good work carried out by the European Ombudsman notwithstanding, does the office of ombudsman have to cost almost EUR 9 million? Is it not possible to limit the almost Byzantine way in which this office functions? This is the reason why my group is abstaining from voting on this issue, on this report in particular, although we wish all the best to the Ombudsman, and more specifically to the citizens who submit their complaints to him.

 
  
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  Rui Tavares (GUE/NGL ).(PT) Madam President, in the first place, I would like to thank Mr Diamandouros for his work and the report that he has tabled. The work is certainly rigorous and of good quality, and I would like to thank him for that. I would like to talk about the issue of quantity, rather than quality, as it is interesting to find out how much the public calls upon these services.

Apparently there are a few thousand complaints, and of these some are not valid. It is, however, interesting to look at why there are not more complaints. In other words, this is a case of ‘glass half empty or glass half full’. I wonder about the extent to which the overly complex and opaque nature of the European institutions themselves and the legislation on which they are based are at the root of the difficult relationship between members of the public and the institutions. In other words, in order to make a complaint, you need to know your rights, and in order to know your rights you need to know the legislation and the mechanisms required to submit that complaint. Therefore, rather than making suggestions to you, Mr Diamandouros, I would like to ask you, as Ombudsman, to make suggestions to Parliament, as a legislative chamber, on simplifying the legislative processes and, as far as possible, the EU’s institutional mechanisms. There is much talk of transparency and clarity, yet simplicity is also a democratic value that we often forget, as it allows wide public access to the institutions.

Mr Diamandouros, at present, I am also part of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, which holds votes at the same time. I would like to assure you that I will pay attention to their responses on this matter.

 
  
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  John Stuart Agnew (EFD ). – Madam President, perhaps the most disgraceful aspect of the Commissioner’s conduct which this report discloses, over and above the appalling treatment meted out to the complainant in this case, is that it was not an isolated case of maladministration. Indeed, the facts disclosed in this trenchant report go beyond the realms of mere negligence and indolence. Rather, it is a reasonable conclusion to draw that this sort of behaviour on the part of the Commission is both quite deliberate and nothing less than a calculated course of conduct designed to thwart the hard work of the Ombudsman and to trash the rule of law.

His work is difficult enough without the added problem of a Commission that set out, as the facts here show, to impede at every turn the proper conduct of his office. There was a time when, if such shabby conduct on the part of public servants was revealed, both functionaries and the minister responsible would fall on their swords. Instead, I expect we shall see here an arrogant and overweening Commission doing what it does best, thumbing its nose at the public whilst the guilty ones go unpunished. No wonder the EU has never been so unpopular!

 
  
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  Csanád Szegedi (NI ). (HU) Madam President, the Ombudsman’s activity report clearly shows that the lack of transparency in European Union institutions is one of the biggest problems. Most of the complaints concern the Commission, which is regularly late with its response and thus shakes confidence in EU institutions. We need to increase transparency by optimising the work of the institutions and by means of more extensive communication, while at the same time ensuring that these measures do not increase expenses. The EU has already spent an enormous amount on propaganda and self-advertisement.

Moreover, the number of complaints will doubtless continue to grow with the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon and the incomplete or delayed implementation of European legislation by Member States. In order to prevent this, expanded and harmonised judicial training must be provided for national judges, practising jurists, public and administrative officials. In addition, we need to inform citizens that infringements of EU law can be challenged before the national courts concerned as well. In the first half of 2011, Hungary will hold the rotating Presidency of the European Union, and thus we, Hungarian MEPs, will be charged with a major task, namely, the transposition of legal harmonisation.

 
  
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  Peter Jahr (PPE ).(DE) Madam President, Mr Diamandouros, Commissioner, the institution of the Ombudsman has had a very impressive history in Europe. Taking a concept originally developed in Sweden, ombudsmen have been trying to resolve disputes and problems on an impartial basis for 200 years now. I believe that the idea of an ombudsman derives from a deep human need for the resolution of disputes by peaceful means.

This report is the fifteenth such report by the Ombudsman for Europe and the seventh by Mr Diamandouros. This is a record to be proud of and I would like to congratulate Mr Diamandouros. When he was elected last year, I expressed the hope that the Ombudsman would do his utmost to ensure that the decision-making process within the EU was more transparent and relevant to its citizens and that we would collaborate effectively with the Committee on Petitions. I think we can safely say that together, we have succeeded in this. I still see room for improvement in the coordination between the functions and tasks of the Ombudsman and those of the Committee on Petitions. We are increasingly in receipt of petitions that touch on aspects of the classic right of petition, as well as elements of the Ombudsman’s duties. I am talking about human rights, property rights and obstacles to economic activity. It is reasonable and appropriate that we should work together in these areas so that we can tackle the Commission together in a positive sense and get the relevant responses within the required timeframe.

I would also like to welcome the new website with the interactive guidelines that should help ensure that people are made aware of the opportunities available to them to have their voice heard in Europe. I hope that Mr Diamandouros continues to succeed in his good and important work and that he will manage to introduce improvements wherever possible. The Committee on Petitions will also continue to do all it can to promote close cooperation with the Ombudsman in the future in the interests of the citizens of the European Union.

 
  
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  Sylvana Rapti (S&D ).(EL) Madam President, we are debating two very important issues here today. One is the interests of European citizens; the second is reconciliation between European citizens and the European institutions.

The three reports by the three rapporteurs, which are truly exceptional, and the activities of the European Ombudsman, make me think of Mr Diamandouros, on behalf of the citizens of Europe, as D’Artagnan and the three rapporteurs as the three musketeers safeguarding the interests of the citizens of Europe.

It is a real pity that the European Commission is not as involved in this as it should be. For me, the only positive thing about the Commissioner’s position statement today was the speed of his speech. If the European Commission acted at the same speed, we would have had no need for this debate.

It is very important for the European citizens to have trust in the European institutions, to see them in a positive light, and to feel that they are working in their interests. Fifteen month’s delay, as Mrs Paliadeli said in her report – to see three letters from an automobile manufacturer which specialises in fast cars, what an oxymoron. If it were the interests of a single European citizen, rather than of an automobile manufacturer, that were at stake, would the delay have been so long? I wonder.

Be that as it may, I think that we should be honest. We all need to work together, we need to show confidence in what the Commissioner said, to believe that the Commission is prepared to cooperate with the European Ombudsman, and we all need to work for the interests of the citizens of Europe. Let us hope that the Commission acts as quickly as the Commissioner spoke. He certainly gave the interpreters a run for their money.

 
  
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  Oriol Junqueras Vies (Verts/ALE ).(ES) Bon dia , Madam President. I am sorry that Mr Vidal-Quadras is no longer chairing the sitting, as I am sure that he would have appreciated my speech.

Firstly, I would like to thank the European Ombudsman for his work and encourage him to continue courageously defending the rights of Europeans, which are often threatened by some public authorities.

In this respect, I would like to say that a Valencian cultural association has collected 650 000 signatures in favour of a legislative initiative to guarantee reception of radio and television channels in Catalan. This is simply a matter of fulfilling Article 12(2) of the Council of Europe’s European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages and the Audiovisual media services without frontiers Directive.

Well, the Spanish Government has refused to take these 650 000 signatures into consideration. We hope that the European Ombudsman will take them on board and protect the rights of those 650 000 Europeans who are protected by European legislation.

 
  
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  Jaroslav Paška (EFD ). (SK) Madam President, I would like to begin by expressing the opinion that the Commission’s annual reports on monitoring the application of EU law have certain shortcomings, since in their present form, they do not provide the citizen or the affected institutions with the necessary information on the actual situation regarding the application of EU law.

Particularly in cases where the Commission is acting in a matter of a breach caused by the incorrect transposition of EU law, it would be good in future to state at least basic information on the nature and extent of the breach. The European Parliament has already sought better information on proceedings involving breaches, through a formal request in the resolution of 4 February 2010.

I regard it as a positive signal from the speech of European Commission Vice-President Šefčovič that the Commission intends to review the possibility of introducing procedural rules for investigations, setting out various aspects of the procedure for breaches of the law, including time limits, the right to a hearing, the obligation to provide reasons and so on.

I firmly believe that close cooperation between the Commission and the European Parliament can lead to a better and more transparent mechanism for monitoring the application of EU law.

 
  
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  Csaba Sógor (PPE ). (HU) Madam President, the European Ombudsman is the European Union’s democratic conscience. Year after year, this institution contributes to strengthening the trust of complainants in European institutions. I am particularly pleased that with the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon, the EU now oversees compliance with the Charter of Fundamental Rights as well, primarily by ensuring compliance with the right to good administration. I find the European network of ombudsmen extremely useful, since citizen awareness and the quality of public service in certain Member States, including Romania where I come from, are below the European average. This is also reflected in the report on the Ombudsman’s activities. It is for this reason that I ask the Ombudsman to attempt, in future, to collect the complaints submitted to national ombudsmen on the implementation of European law by Member States, as well, since in most cases, citizens come into contact with European law through their own national authorities.

 
  
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  Kriton Arsenis (S&D ).(EL) Madam President, Commissioner, to start with, I should like to congratulate the European Ombudsman on the exceptional work he has done over this entire period. My congratulations also to the rapporteurs.

I should like to comment specifically on Mrs Paliadeli’s report. This really is a shocking affair: the refusal to disclose the full contents of the correspondence between the Commission and Porsche during the preparation of the directive on car emissions. The issues that this raises are the objectivity of the Commission’s legislative proposals and whether or not the Commission is truly independent of industrial interests.

The report quite rightly proposes that, if the Commission persists in such practices, part of its budget will be blocked. Parliament will do this, Commissioner, unless you change these practices.

 
  
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  Salvatore Iacolino (PPE ).(IT) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, it is natural to see a meeting such as this with the European Ombudsman and the Commissioner as having a particularly significant part to play in the current situation in Europe, which is developing dynamically and tangibly in the public interest.

However, since the instruments recently made available by the Treaty of Lisbon grant the citizens legislative initiative, it is now fair to say that Parliament closely identifies with citizens’ demands and expectations.

It is true that the effective application of the law depends primarily on how well the Commission performs, with the Ombudsman’s authoritative support. It is important to listen to the people’s demands and expectations and to demand that the instruments really are used in the public interest. We can only welcome the call made in the initiative for a code of procedure.

Information should be provided on the basis of accessibility, consistency and absolute transparency, because we believe that many regions expect the Commission to show greater energy in relation to the objective expressed here. We must not forget how important the contribution of other European ombudsmen may be in relation to interparliamentary cooperation.

If the national parliaments and the European Parliament must cooperate effectively in the public interest, as indeed they must, there is no doubt that this personal enrichment of professional history and diverse legal cultures must find time in this cooperation for mediation as an effective method of solving problems in the public interest.

 
  
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  Vilija Blinkevičiūtė (S&D ). (LT) Madam President, Ombudsman, thank you for your report. The role of the European Ombudsman is particularly important for helping citizens to clear up problems that have arisen, and for improving the transparency and accountability of the institutions’ work. The European Ombudsman wants the decisions of the European Union institutions to be accessible to citizens, because citizens must have an opportunity to obtain desired information, so that they can trust the institutions’ ability to defend their rights as regards discrimination, abuse of power by institutions, failure to reply promptly to enquiries and refusal of information. The Commission is receiving numerous complaints about maladministration. Therefore, it is important for the Commission to take action to ensure that requests to access documents receive swift responses, because the proper application of European Union legislation has a direct impact on the daily lives of citizens and the implementation of their rights. Furthermore, inappropriate application of legislation undermines confidence in European Union institutions and leads to additional costs.

 
  
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  Jarosław Leszek Wałęsa (PPE ).(PL) Madam President, at the outset, I would like to thank the rapporteur for her very good, comprehensive and balanced report, as well as the Ombudsman for his unceasing work in combating maladministration as well as raising administration standards in the European Union.

As the rapporteur correctly pointed out, the last year of the Ombudsman’s work has seen good management and progress in reducing the number of complaints and a shortening of the procedure for investigating complaints. I think this is also an effect of continuity in holding office. As can be seen, the selection of Mr Diamandouros was a very good decision. The Ombudsman, however, must react quicker to the needs of citizens. For this to be possible, he must cooperate more closely with national ombudsmen. The function of European Ombudsman is a role that changes with time, but it must present a set of constant and universal values. I believe that in his coming year of office he will listen more strenuously to the voices of the citizens.

 
  
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  Simon Busuttil (PPE ).(MT) Madam President, I would like to begin by congratulating the rapporteur, Mariya Nedelcheva, as well as Mr Diamandouros for all his hard work. I would particularly like to congratulate him on the fact that he has striven to reduce the waiting time for registered procedures because I believe this is the right step towards bringing the European Union institutions closer to the citizens.

The second point I wanted to make was to underline the great importance of interinstitutional cooperation, as my fellow Members also did. I believe that our experience with the Ombudsman, especially the current one, reflects the extent of the cooperation that exists between this Chamber, this Parliament and, in particular, the Committee on Petitions, and the Ombudsman’s bureau.

Moreover, I would like to appeal to the Commissioner present, Mr Šefčovič, to follow our lead, as I believe that in the area of citizens’ complaints, the European Commission is not cooperating with the Parliament as much as the Ombudsman is. We are aware that many citizens complain directly to the European Commission but we do not really have an idea of how many people are complaining to the European Commission, what they are complaining about, and what the ultimate outcome of those complaints is.

On the other hand, we are informed of all complaints that arrive before the Ombudsman, and those that arrive before the Committee on Petitions are known because they are public.

Finally, I would like to pass on a message to the citizens. Upon reading the report, it will emerge that, proportionately, the higher number of complaints, coincidentally, originate from Malta and Luxembourg. This is interesting, and I do not think it is simply because the people from Malta and Luxembourg complain rather a lot, but because these citizens are standing up for their rights, and I believe that it is important that they do so.

 
  
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  Pascale Gruny (PPE ). (FR) Madam President, Mr Diamandouros, Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen, let us give the People’s Europe a face. It is the responsibility of all the European institutions to do everything in their power so that citizens are informed of all their means of redress if there are violations of Community law or bad administration by European institutions.

First of all, I would like to praise the work of my colleague, Mrs Nedelcheva, for her report on the activities of the European Ombudsman in 2009. The European Commission has been the object of most of the Ombudsman’s criticism, often for a lack of information. The report by my fellow Member, Mrs Paliadeli, whom I would also like to congratulate, is a glaring example.

Next, I would like to thank our European Ombudsman for all the work that has been accomplished, together with his whole team, and for his accessibility and his excellent collaboration with the Committee on Petitions. This is very important. His role represents an important safeguard of respect for the principle of transparency and good administration, and it is there that we will obtain genuine protection for our fellow citizens.

Finally, it is time that our fellow citizens were better informed of the means of redress available to them with regard to the European Commission: namely, the European Ombudsman and the Committee on Petitions. In order to do that, we need an Internet portal, certainly, but we need a common one, as we have already requested from you. This would provide real help to our citizens.

 
  
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  Mairead McGuinness (PPE ). – Madam President, I would like to thank the Ombudsman for his work. He has a very specific job to do, namely maladministration, and therefore it is important that citizens understand what that term means.

Much of what I am about to say does not directly impact on the Ombudsman, but I think it needs to be placed on the record. Some of the biggest problems and complaints we get are about our own Member States. Citizens then complain – as Mr Busuttil said – directly to the Commission who, under this pilot scheme, go back to the Member State to try to have the matter resolved when the citizens themselves have failed. That mechanism is not transparent and needs to be looked at. We need a discussion on it in this House.

The second issue which arises relates to property purchases and transactions between citizens in different Member States. We have no remit in this area, but it is a growing concern and we need to address it in some way.

Lastly, the Irish Ombudsman has issued two reports, which our own government have rejected. It is of deep concern that an Ombudsman in any Member State would have their work literally torn up. You are aware of that, Mr Ombudsman. I am glad that you are nodding approvingly. This must be addressed. It cannot be allowed to continue.

 
  
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  Andrew Henry William Brons (NI ). – Madam President, I refer to the third item: Application of European Law. It could be argued that the only thing worse than clear and transparent European law is ambiguous and uncertain EU law.

The Commission’s ‘better regulation and simplification’ agenda seems to be as elusive as the Holy Grail. The standard of English in some proposed legislation led me at first to the conclusion that it had originated in a southern dialect of Albanian. However, I discovered at an early stage that most of the worst examples originated in English.

The legislative process does not improve poorly drafted legislation. Amendments are sent to MEPs at the last possible moment; votes are split and then reunited; we have gone into the Chamber confident that we have the latest, most final version of the voting list, only to find that it was superseded during the morning.

Those MEPs in large groups who are content to be lobby fodder for their party leaders do not have to worry. They simply follow the gesticulations of their party tic-tac men. However, for conscientious MEPs and those in the non-attached group, it is a nightmare.

 
  
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  Andreas Mölzer (NI ).(DE) Madam President, as we know, the European Union has been working for decades to reduce bureaucracy and increase transparency. However, there is not much sign of this in the European Parliament itself. On the contrary, one gets the feeling that bureaucratic paperwork seems to grow by the year.

Prior to the hearings for the most recent elections, the word transparency was on everyone’s lips. Thanks to the authority of their office and the associated rights, Members of Parliament can have their voices heard. The same cannot be said for the citizens of Europe. That is why they have the European Ombudsman. When more than one third of the investigations by the Ombudsman were cases where there was a lack of transparency and when 56% of all cases were resolved amicably, the importance of the office of the Ombudsman is clearly evident.

To quote the words of the Ombudsman himself: Citizens have a right to know what the EU and its administration are doing. Perhaps I might expand on this by saying that our citizens also have a right to know how the European Union spends their taxes and where resources are wasted. It is high time that budgetary control was whipped into shape, so that its reports might even be somewhere near as useful as those of the Ombudsman.

 
  
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  Maroš Šefčovič, Vice-President of the Commission. – Madam President, in my introductory remarks, I talked too fast, so I will try to correct this. I will not try to impress the Members of Parliament with the speed of my speech but with the commitment which I am very clearly making here that the Commission is very much interested in having the best possible close cooperation with the Ombudsman. I think Mr Diamandouros knows this.

He knows how closely we cooperate, and I think that the success rate in sorting out the problems of maladministration or other issues that he is investigating is so high because we are cooperating very closely and in a very positive spirit. Of course, sometimes you have cases with which there are additional problems which need more energy to tackle, and this was clearly true of the case to which most of you have referred.

This was very clearly a situation where the Commission was torn between, on the one hand, the commitment to transparency and the legal obligations stemming from European Court of Justice case-law and, on the other, our commitment to honour professional secrecy. If we wanted to divulge the information – which was very pertinent in this particular case – we needed the agreement of the third party, which we have spent several months trying unsuccessfully to get. Only after we made it very clear that we would publish the information anyway and informed the company that they had ten days to lodge a complaint with the European Court of Justice did we reach an agreement.

What would have happened if we had not proceeded according to our legal obligations? The complaint would probably have been filed with the European Court of Justice, and maybe we would not have had that information made public even today. So please bear with us sometimes. We are really very committed to transparency, but we must always look for a very fine line among the different commitments that we have to respect in these very complex cases.

Nevertheless, I acknowledge – as I said in my introductory remarks – that this delay was long, and that we should probably have pressed the company more. We should have got their response faster, and I can assure you that the Commission will do its utmost to ensure that we will not replicate this situation in any similar cases – we will not look for ways to drag the process out to 15 months, which was indeed unbearable. I fully agree with Mrs Paliadeli in this respect.

Regarding the access to information: again, let us just keep the numbers in proportion. We receive around 5 000 requests per year and we have 80 people working on them. Some of the files we have to make accessible are this thick. Many of them are citizens’ requests, but I can tell you that many of them are questions from very distinguished law firms trying to get additional information on very sensitive competition files. We have to be very careful with this process. I think we are doing a good job in this respect, because of these 5 000 files, only 15 to 20 end up on the Ombudsman’s desk. 85% of these requests are granted access at first request, so you can calculate how many thousand files become accessible every year. We are very serious about this commitment and we will continue to proceed in this way.

Concerning EU transposition and implementation: here, I can assure you that we are seeking very close cooperation with the European Parliament. We are fully aware that appropriate speedy transposition and correct implementation are things that glue the European Union together. They are absolutely essential for the good working of the single market. Therefore, we try to make absolutely sure that, in terms of the implementation and transposition of European law, we are very precise and very strict. If you will allow me to quote, we already agreed in the framework agreement that:

‘In order to ensure better monitoring of the transposition and application of Union law, the Commission and Parliament shall endeavour to include compulsory correlation tables and a binding time limit for transposition, which, in directives, should not normally exceed a period of 2 years.

‘In addition to specific reports and the annual report on the application of Union law, the Commission shall make available to Parliament summary information concerning all infringement procedures from the letter of formal notice, including, if so requested by Parliament, on a case-by-case basis and respecting the confidentiality rules, in particular, those acknowledged by the Court of Justice of the European Union, on the issues to which the infringement procedure relates’.

So there is an additional way in which we can communicate and keep the European Parliament better informed. If I may ask the assistance of the European Parliament in this particular area, I would like to ask you to insist a little bit more on correlation tables where directives are concerned. This is always the Commission’s proposal. We cannot always get it through in the final procedures when the legislator is finalising the negotiations on the Commission’s proposal, but this is possible in Parliament and the Council. The correlation tables make it much easier for the Commission to police the correct application of European law and to find errors and look for corrections.

In answer to Mr Hefner’s question concerning the EU pilot and why it is so named: this is because, when we started with this new project on creating additional possibilities for the Member States to correct their mistakes themselves more quickly, it was an accepted procedure which was started by a few Member States. Now, most of them apply it. We are still in the initial phase. So far, the results are very positive. Of course, when we reach the stage when all Member States are using this tool for better and faster application of European law, I am sure we will look for another name, because it will no longer be a pilot project.

To conclude, Madam President, I would like to thank the Members of the European Parliament and, of course, our Ombudsman, for the very satisfactory cooperation, and for a very good debate and the many new ideas which I heard this morning in the debate. I would just like to remind all of us that, thanks to the Lisbon Treaty, citizens have the right to good administration. The respect of European law is, of course, key to that – to the EU’s level playing field. I am sure that, together with the European Parliament and with the Ombudsman, we will achieve it.

Seeing Madam Durant presiding over our session this morning, I would like to highlight one additional element. This is the fact that we managed to finalise agreement on the joint EU transparency register, which will bring additional light and transparency to lobbying activities and the activities of interest representatives in Brussels. I think this is also a very important contribution to the increased transparency and higher quality of the EU legislative process.

 
  
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  Nikiforos Diamandouros, Ombudsman. – Madam President, first of all, I wish to thank very warmly all the Members who took the time to comment on my report. I want to thank them for their warm endorsement of the work of the Ombudsman. I derive a great deal of satisfaction, but also inspiration, from the kind of encouragement I receive from you, and I want to say to you openly that this kind of encouragement also increases the sense of responsibility that I feel is being put on my shoulders for carrying forward efforts to defend the rights of citizens.

I want to thank you very much for that – for your concerns in relation not only to the annual report, but also of course to the special report – and to thank the two rapporteurs who took the time to prepare excellent reports on my annual report and my special report.

(FR) Allow me, too, to thank Mrs Nedelcheva for her comments. I particularly want to say to you, Mrs Nedelcheva, that I have taken note of your comments, which have encouraged me to try to engage in dialogue with my national colleagues on the correct application of Community law.

I can assure you that next year, during the next meeting of national ombudsmen in Copenhagen, I will be able to give emphasis to exactly that point. You therefore have my assurance, and I thank you also for your comments concerning the importance of the interactive guide, which has also already been mentioned by your fellow Members from other parties.

Madam President, allow me now to focus on some of the remarks by Vice-President Šefčovič. Let me begin with a general remark. I wish to make it clear to this Chamber that Mr Šefčovič has gone out of his way to try and work very closely with the Ombudsman, and I am very grateful to him for what he has done so far.

I also wish to make it clear to this Chamber that Mr Šefčovič, upon assuming his duties, in effect – these are my words – reversed the position of his predecessor and publicly acknowledged that, when it came to the Porsche situation, the Commission’s response had been unsatisfactory and regrettable. Therefore, I wish to draw a distinction between the person of the Commissioner and the Commission’s institutional response to this issue, which resulted in my needing – for the first time in 15 years – to feel constrained to submit a report to this body concerning that behaviour. It behoves me to make this distinction concerning the handling of the situation, and again to thank Mr Šefčovič for his efforts in trying to move forward and to be constructive in this area.

Having said that, let me say a few more things. Commissioner, I consider the 2002 communication concerning citizens of fundamental importance for the application of good administration of the Union. If, therefore, the Commission is considering changing this communication, I should very much hope that the Commission will see to it that it consults both the Ombudsman and the Committee on Petitions of the European Parliament before actually changing what is an instrument of fundamental importance for the citizens.

We are very much in agreement – and I am glad that you in fact also mentioned this – that the courts are the highest and the only authority which can take decisions on an authoritative interpretation of the law. I am very glad that the Commission also acknowledges that. In terms of draft recommendations, let me just make a small clarification, Commissioner.

A draft recommendation constitutes a finding of maladministration by the Ombudsman. That does not prevent the institution involved from responding to this particular draft recommendation and rectifying the matter, and I will take that into consideration for closing the case. Therefore, a press release at the point of having found an instance of maladministration is in no way intended to pre-empt or to prevent an institution from being able to respond, and I want you to have my assurance personally on that.

Finally, as concerns the special report, again a clarification. The report was submitted because of the excessive delay. It was not – because I noted your regret – that it was released just after the Commission had released the documents. The two were unrelated. It was the great length of the response that prompted the report, and I was very happy to have had the response as I did. But again, you have adopted a position on that one.

Finally, I hope that there will be an effort to try and deal with the delays. What I will say about the delays, Commissioner, is that I expect the Commission to be able to abide by the rules concerning delays that it has itself adopted and is trying to abide by. I will abide by my deadlines in terms of dealing with this kind of situation. I think this will result in a better outcome.

I shall say two more things. I want to thank Mr Vlasák – I hope I am pronouncing the name correctly, because my Czech is non-existent – for his remarks, because it gives me the opportunity to say that I am actively looking forward to the possibility of making use of the facilities of the Eurobarometer in order to be able to find out more about what citizens think and feel about the Ombudsman and about the handling of complaints. I want to thank him for that.

I will do my best to see how the website can become user-friendly. Let me just assure him that we put it through very many pilot phases and very many target groups, and they all found it very user friendly. More than 46 000 people have used it so far, and they were guided to the right place the first time around. I want to assure him that this is what we are doing in order to be able to combat maladministration and that the interactive guide has very much helped reduce maladministration in the institutions as a response to his question.

Two more things. Ms Geringer de Oedenberg: it may not be easy to grasp that the vast majority of the complaints, whether to the European Ombudsman or the national ombudsman, do indeed deal with EU law. Therefore, we have the network of ombudsmen that I coordinate in order to be able to send the complaints to the right institution from the very beginning so as to avoid problems. Focusing only on what lies within the ombudsman’s mandate neglects the fact that the network ensures that the bulk of the complaints go to the right national regional ombudsman concerning EU law and that are dealt with there.

A comment on Mr Migalski’s question. I can assure him that the Ombudsman’s budget was approved by the Council without any change. We are very mindful of the constraints, but we are also encouraged by the fact that the major budgetary institution – not only Parliament – has approved it.

Regarding Mr Szegedi’s question, we agree emphatically that the courts of the Member States do not know EU law sufficiently well, and I make a special point in my visits to all the Member States, where I have been many times, of visiting the judiciary to be able to help them move in this particular direction.

Finally – and I will close with this – Mr Sógor also asked for the Ombudsman to be able to receive complaints concerning EU law submitted at national level. Regrettably, this is not in my mandate. I would be violating my mandate if I were to accept this task, and I would also be encroaching on the legal responsibilities and mandate of my colleagues in the Member States if I were to do it. I try to collaborate with them to do it, but I have no authority to receive complaints that concern the application of EU law in the Member States.

(FR) Madam President, I hope that I have responded to all the comments, and I would like once again to thank all Members for their words of encouragement, and also to congratulate you, Madam President, as the Commissioner has already done, for the important initiative aiming to approve a joint register for Parliament and the Commission. I am convinced that this will be a very important step forward.

 
  
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  Mariya Nedelcheva, rapporteur.(FR) Madam President, Mr Diamandouros, Mr Šefčovič, ladies and gentlemen, I thank you for your contributions, which, I strongly believe, have, on the one hand, clearly shown the importance of the activities of the European Ombudsman and, on the other, the interest that our institution accords to these activities within the European Parliament. I will make use of this opportunity to thank my colleagues from the Committee on Petitions, who, through their work, are creating a more tangible link between European citizens and the institutions of the Union.

Mr Diamandouros, the year 2009 marked the 15th anniversary of the institution of the European Ombudsman. It also marked the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon. As a result of your election by the European Parliament, an additional legitimacy has been added to your function. I say ‘added’ because, in fact, the legitimacy of your function originates from all those European citizens who have been able to turn to you and who have been able to find a solution thanks to your interventions.

On the other hand, what is more fascinating about the function of the European Ombudsman is that nothing can ever be taken for granted. The reduction in the number of complaints, the reduction in the time spent on finding a solution, the complaints that have been settled amicably – there are always as many advances as there are needs. Behind these facts, I think that there are two major challenges that we should not lose sight of: obtaining more transparency in the functioning of the institutions, and having a better dialogue between citizens and the institutions both at a European and at a national level.

I would like to thank you, Mr Diamandouros, and I will conclude by saying that, as a result of your everyday work, we have concrete evidence that it is possible not only to take up these challenges but, above all, to provide adequate and satisfactory answers for citizens. The task is certainly not an easy one, but with the 2009 annual report and with the commitment that you have just made for the Copenhagen meeting, I believe that we are on the right track.

 
  
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  Chrysoula Paliadeli, rapporteur.(EL) Madam President, Mr Diamandouros, Commissioner, I consider this specific report by Mr Diamandouros, which I had the honour of presenting to the European Parliament, to be a formal report that does not touch on the substance of the matter; it touches on the form of the matter. That is very important for me.

I consider that fifteen months’ delay to its reply and its final decision, successive extensions to the initial deadline and, more importantly, what I consider to be the Commission’s curious decision not to disclose the letter prepared for this particular automobile manufacturer, telling it that it would disclose some of its letters, are serious issues; the decision not to disclose the letter is a very serious issue.

If, after such a long time – and this is not your fault, Commissioner, you only took over this particular sector recently; if the Commission had decided to disclose the letter which it had prepared for this particular automobile manufacturer to Mr Diamandouros on 18 February, there would probably have been no special report. Mr Diamandouros decided to agree to the successive extensions requested by the Commission.

Nonetheless, I consider that, thanks to this delay, thanks to the Commission’s failure to advise Mr Diamandouros, we were able to have a report which records issues which have both form and substance. I only intend to discuss the substance. However, the Commission must take serious account of the fact – and I am glad that you said it before I did – that any difficulties which you cause the European Ombudsman in his work harms the unity of the European Union, undermines the trust of its citizens in its institutions and damages the public image of its function.

We want what you said earlier to be a commitment, because we are all jointly responsible. My thanks in particular to Mr Diamandouros because, thanks to this report, he gave us an opportunity to understand in the European Parliament our power to address issues which we consider to be paramount to European cohesion.

 
  
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  Eva Lichtenberger, rapporteur.(DE) Madam President, please allow me to preface my summary with a word of particular thanks to the Ombudsman. I believe his work is very valuable and I am aware how important it is to our citizens because his office has become a key point of contact for them.

I would like to come back to what Mr Šefčovič had to say, particularly in relation to the EU pilot project, which has been criticised sharply by a number of Members of Parliament because, as you stated clearly yourself, it offers ‘more possibilities for Member States’ but not for citizens.

I believe we need to take a closer look to see if this is really the case, because what we need is greater transparency. A letter to a complainant stating that we have received his complaint is not enough. We need greater clarity here, more relevance to our citizens, otherwise we are going to have a credibility problem in the long term.

In addition, of course we need some meaningful penalties when genuine infringements are encountered. The consequences for Member States, who fail to implement legislation, and who actually even boast about this in their national media, cannot simply be that they merely receive another letter. We need to take things a step further when it comes to the interests of the citizens of the European Union.

I believe it is of central importance that the 2002 communication should be revised, particularly in relation to the rights of the complainant. In this context, I would also like to see the rights of Parliament respected. We need a register of the complaints received in order to offer us some feedback for our legislative work. I do not need to know who complained to whom about what.

The subject matter of the complaint and the consequences of the complaint would provide important feedback for the entire legislature. That is what we need. It is for that reason that I ask you also to take this into account. We need a clear register that provides us with an insight into the main causes for complaint and what is being called for. I would like to see this proposal soon. I would be happy to work together with you on this. We will be glad to help you with the cross-referencing tables. I also believe that this is important. The important issue here is mutuality and this is something I am anxious to uphold.

 
  
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  President. – The joint debate is closed.

The vote will take place today, Thursday, 25 November 2010, at 12:00.

Written statements (Rule 149)

 
  
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  Cristian Silviu Buşoi (ALDE ), in writing. (RO) The application of European law is vital so that EU citizens can fully enjoy the benefits of the internal market as even the most effective legislation becomes redundant if it is not applied. With regard to internal market legislation, there is a great deal of progress which can be made, especially in relation to the Services Directive or the directive on the recognition of professional qualifications. This legislation is admittedly technical, which complicates the application process. For this reason, cooperation is vital between EU institutions and national administrations. The internal market information system used for services has proved to be particularly useful. I believe that we would stand to gain by extending its use to other sectors. However, I urge the need for Member States to take transposition seriously and avoid delays as far as possible, which results in the internal market operating with its parameters at suboptimal level. Finally, I urge the need for citizens to be able to resolve their problems relating to the application of European law quickly and at minimum cost. To achieve this, the SOLVIT resources need to be supplemented, along with active promotion of this instrument for solving problems informally. Last but not least, priority must be given to devising alternative methods for settling disputes.

 
  
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  Ágnes Hankiss (PPE ) , in writing. (HU) On the margins of the European Ombudsman’s annual activity report, allow me, as the author of Parliament’s opinion on public access to documents, to say a few words about institutional transparency. I was pleased that when examining citizens’ complaints registered with the Ombudsman, the author of the report, Mrs Nedelcheva, devoted special attention to the relation between transparency and good administration. The right to good administration has become legally binding under the terms of the Treaty of Lisbon, and along with that right, it is also important that personal rights are fully respected.

In a recent discussion with Mr Diamandouros, we debated the delicate balance between institutional transparency and data protection. We specifically addressed the judgment issued in June by the European Court of Justice in the Bavarian Lager case as well, which moved the debates on transparency out of its dead end. This is very significant because it provides guidelines for cases where a real or perceived common interest is in conflict with personal data protection rights. I was very pleased that Mr Diamandouros, too, emphasised the basic principle according to which personal data can only be disclosed with the permission of the persons concerned.

I therefore think it important to emphasise that I fully support the efforts aimed at rendering the work of the European Union’s institutions more transparent and establishing a basis for appropriate administrative techniques. According to the annual report, it is precisely the promotion of this aim that lies at the centre of the activities of the European Ombudsman

 
  
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  Alexander Mirsky (S&D ), in writing. (LV) I fully support the work of the European Ombudsman. His pertinacity and principled behaviour has yielded concrete results, because he carries out his task honourably and consistently. The completely opposite situation has developed in Latvia. The Latvian Saeima formally elected Romāns Apsītis as Ombudsman. In actual fact, however, since 1 January 2007, when Mr Apsītis took office as Ombudsman, he has, in point of fact, never got down to work. He has, sadly, not noticed that there are some 300 000 people in Latvia who have had their basic civil rights taken away from them. It appears that the Latvian Government and the Saeima have chosen an ombudsman – Mr Apsītis – who is convenient, silent and devoid of initiative; someone who is actually blind to serious infringements in Latvian legislation. I shall remind you that, in accordance with the office he occupies, Mr Apsītis is tasked with the following duties: 1. To promote compliance with the principle of equality and the prevention of discrimination. In Latvia, this exists in the field of education. 2. To promote the objective review of legal and other issues within reasonable timescales. Latvia has already lost around 10 cases in the European Court on this issue. 3. To ensure the prevention of deficiencies in questions concerning infringements of human rights. Around 300 000 people in Latvia, many of whom have lived in Latvia all their lives, have had their basic civil rights taken away from them. Today in Latvia, the word ‘ombudsman’ makes one smile. If the situation does not change, it could be likened to the word ‘clown’.

 

5. Competition horizontal cooperation rules (debate)
Video of the speeches
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  President. – The next item is the debate on the oral question to the Commission by Mrs Bowles, on behalf of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs, on the review of the competition horizontal cooperation rules (O-0131/2010 – B7-0565/2010 ).

 
  
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  José Manuel García-Margallo y Marfil, deputising for the author.(ES) Madam President, Commissioner, the two block exemption regulations, one of which refers to specialisation agreements and the other to research and development, will expire on 31 December of this year. The Commission has drawn up two legislative proposals: two proposals for regulations that are before this House to replace the regulations that are now coming to an end.

A lot of water has flowed under the bridge since the initial regulations were adopted. There have been significant changes in legislation, especially the 2003 modernisation package, crucial legal judgments have been passed in this area and the Commission has learnt quite a lot from practice, which is also an important aspect.

The Commission opened two rounds of consultations with those concerned, which is good practice in the spirit of legislating well and having public support. The big question now is as follows: what use is it going to make of the responses from those concerned during the consultation? Is it going to take notice of them or are these opinions simply going to be thrown in the bin? In this context, what Parliament and the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs want to know is essentially six things. What are the suggestions and specific ideas that the stakeholders have put forward that the Commission is going to take into account when it comes to designing and defining these regulations and taking them from ‘the muses to the theatre’?

Secondly, what does the Commission think about the horizontal agreements that are not covered by the exemption regulations on specialisation or research and development. What did the stakeholders say in this round of consultations? What would be the advantages from the point of view of industry, the real economy and protecting competition, of proposing new regulations to take into account horizontal agreements that are not covered by the two block exemption regulations that we are currently considering? Does the Commission intend to draw up new regulations to cover them? Yes or no? The question is relatively clear.

The third problem that was debated at length in the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs is the subject of what is known as ‘patent ambush’, which, as the Commissioner is aware, takes place when one of the stakeholder companies that is participating in establishing standards withholds information on the patents that it holds or the patents that it is planning to register in future. This causes serious damage and inconvenience to those companies that are unaware of that information and commit to acting according to the parameters established.

The question here is relatively specific as this is a case of distortion of competition and barriers in the internal market, which is the cardinal sin in our institution: does the Commission intend to tackle the problem of ‘patent ambush’ in the framework of the new draft regulations, or otherwise, does it consider that complementary sector-specific legislation would be necessary to avoid abuse of patent rights? Is the Commission committed to ensuring that there is an integrated, consistent legislative framework without internal contradictions between competition rules and sector-specific legislation in the area of intellectual property rights?

The fourth and fifth questions relate to economic governance or, if you prefer, governance of competition. We have learnt that we need to try to converge with other competition authorities and, in this respect, it is important to know to what extent the Commission, in drawing up these regulations, has made use of court decisions and the decisions of national and international authorities.

The last question refers to a subject that is a particularly sensitive one for my committee, and I am sure that Mr Schwab will have something to say about it. It refers to the marketing chain for food products. It seems obvious that there is inequality in conditions among producers, between farmers, on the one hand, and large chains, on the other. Does the Commission intend to do something to guarantee equal, fair treatment for the weaker party in this contract? These are the questions, Commissioner, that I would like to you to answer as fully, clearly and precisely as possible.

 
  
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  Maroš Šefčovič, Vice-President of the Commission. – Madam President, I wish to thank the honourable Member very much for the question, as this is indeed a very important area of responsibility for the European Union.

Competing companies often work together, for instance, in research and development, production, purchasing, product standardisation and information exchange. As you know, this can be beneficial to consumers and lead to lower prices, more choice and better products. These horizontal agreements – we call them horizontal because the cooperating companies are active at the same level in the supply chain – can allow companies to respond to increasing competitive pressures and a changing market place driven by globalisation.

But there is also a risk that this kind of agreement can lead to serious competition problems, for example, where the parties agree to fix prices, share markets or limit output. The Commission has spent the past two years reviewing the competition guidelines for horizontal agreements, with in-depth assessment and wide consultation. The new rules, which should be adopted by the end of this year, will be much more detailed, user-friendly and clear, providing better guidance on what kinds of cooperation are allowed.

As always, the Commission has had to strike a careful balance between the needs of different stakeholders. The two main elements of the new competition rules are on standard-setting and information exchange. In the responses to the public consultation, around two-thirds of stakeholders commented on standardisation.

A well-functioning system for standard-setting is vital for the European economy as a whole and, in particular, for the information and communication technology sector. The horizontal guidelines promote a standard-setting system that is transparent and that leads to predictable costs when licensing intellectual property rights. This requires attempting to find a balance between the sometimes contradictory interests of companies with different business models involved in the standard-setting process. At one end of the spectrum, you have the pure innovator and, at the other, the pure manufacturer, each with different priorities and needs.

The new rules will make sure both that there are sufficient incentives for further innovation and that the traditional benefits from standardisations are passed on to consumers. In order for standard-setting agreements to avoid having to be assessed under the competition rules and to fall within the so-called safe harbour – meaning where they are presumed to be in line with the competition rules – there are three general conditions that need to be met.

The first is that a standard-setting organisation needs to have a balanced IPR policy, requiring good-faith disclosure of the relevant IPRs, and a commitment to licensing these on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory terms. The second is that the process of standard-setting must be open and transparent so that participation is open to all relevant actors. The third is that the standard-setting process must also be transparent in a way that ensures that stakeholders are able to inform themselves of upcoming, ongoing and finalised work.

You also mentioned patent ambushes. Case experience, both in the EU and in the US, shows that patent ambush can be a real problem by preventing industry from making an informed choice on the potential costs of the technologies chosen in the standard. The Commission approach is to give standard-setting organisations incentives to have clear rules on disclosure of patents. Although this does not completely remove the risk, it does reduce it.

By contrast, for R&D agreements where there are a limited number of parties – often only two – the public consultation showed that stakeholders considered that there is, in practice, no real problem of patent ambush as the parties have an incentive to bring innovations to market and any potential problems can be solved upfront by contractual means between parties.

Turning to information exchange, this can be pro-competitive when it enables companies to gather general market data that allow them to serve customers better. However, there are also situations where the exchange of market information can be misused, for instance, when companies use sensitive information to coordinate behaviour. In response to strong stakeholder demand, the guidelines contain a new chapter setting out general principles for competition assessment of information exchange.

The last question that was raised by Parliament related to the question of purchasing cooperatives. The Commission has consistently believed that joint purchasing groups amongst small retailers can be beneficial for competition, especially vis-à-vis large suppliers. The horizontal guidelines have, since 2000, provided for a positive assessment for this type of cooperation up to certain limits of market share. Following its review process, the Commission is proposing that for purchasing agreements, as long as the market share of participants is 20% or less, it will be presumed to be in line with the competition rules. But the Commission is also aware that international buying alliances among large retailers may have a negative impact on competition, with issues being examined in the context of the Commission’s work on a better functioning food supply.

 
  
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  Arturs Krišjānis Kariņš , on behalf of the PPE Group.(LV) Madam President, Commissioner, none of us likes to pay over the odds for things whose true value we are even unaware of. Similarly, we do not like to pay too much as a result of a dishonourable deal between businesses. Competition policy in the European Union has, hitherto, targeted dishonest businesses. The regulation of horizontal cooperation between businesses is one of the ways in which, to my mind, the Commission is successfully solving the problem of competition where businesses cooperate on matters such as research and development, full exploitation of the volume of production, the distribution of common goods and standardisation. The attention to the question of standardisation in the new rules on business cooperation is welcome. It will allow businesses and sectors to make a clear choice with regard to patents that they wish to make use of. Every standard consists of patents registered by inventors and businesses. In order to introduce a standard, it is necessary to know what precise technological solution is being offered and what consideration the patent holder wishes to receive for the use of his patent. That is why we should support a mechanism in which all interested parties in the course of choosing a standard are clearly aware of the advantages and disadvantages of one invention or another and of the price they will pay for using the patent. We like to make informed choices in our day-to-day lives, and so it is only natural that businesses investing significant funds in the development and manufacture of new technologies with high added value should also wish to make such a choice. To my mind, these new rules on horizontal cooperation between businesses will at least partly help businesses not to pay excessively for making use of patents. Thank you for your attention.

 
  
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  Antolín Sánchez Presedo, on behalf of the S&D Group.(ES) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, competing is not the opposite of cooperating. There are cooperation agreements between companies competing at the same market level that are competitive and in line with the original source of European Union law.

For reasons of legal security, given the complexity of the subject and the balances that have to be achieved, businesses need to have tools to determine what horizontal agreements infringe the prohibitions laid down in the treaty and restrict competition.

This is a critical time, because the guidelines for horizontal agreements are a decade old and the block exemption regulations for specialisation agreements and innovation and development agreements expire at the end of this year. The Union must therefore update these instruments without delay, and cannot afford the luxury of a legislative loophole that generates doubts, uncertainties and paralysis in the activities of our businesses.

This would be an intolerable curb on our economy and hugely irresponsible in the context of a crisis that requires initiatives to help restart and boost business. Moreover, as the timescale for the review is extended to 31 December 2022, they must equip European industry with measures for dealing with the major changes that are going to take place on the international economic stage in the coming years.

A few months ago, the European Union adopted the Europe 2020 strategy, under the Spanish Presidency, which is a firm commitment to an integrative society based on knowledge and innovation. The new legislative framework must promote the development of an intelligent, connected economy that is capable of connecting business networks and taking advantage of the synergies between businesses through agreements promoting standardisation, specialisation, research and development to benefit European consumers, but also agreements that contribute towards joint production, purchase, marketing and promoting cooperatives and business groups, especially among small and medium-sized enterprises.

We support the Commission in using this package of initiatives to increase efficiency, promote scientific and technical progress, provide benefits to end consumers and, in short, improve the overall competitiveness and sustainable development of our businesses.

 
  
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  Sylvie Goulard, on behalf of the ALDE Group.(FR) Madam President, many things have been said, in particular by my colleagues Mr García-Margallo y Marfil and Mr Sánchez Presedo, about the liveliness of the discussions that we have had in the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs, and about the need to adopt reports quickly, as Mr Sánchez Presedo has just said, in order to clarify the scope of operations of our businesses. I will limit myself to two comments which are somewhat more general and political.

Firstly, in all our countries, the crisis has made people withdraw and has given rise to nationalist and protectionist temptations, and we in Parliament are therefore particularly vigilant when it comes to respect for the internal market and its non-fragmentation. There is a challenge here – I can see some colleagues from the relevant committee are nodding. This is very important, and we know that Commissioner Barnier is working towards this, in support of Mr Monti’s report. We in the Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe truly believe in emulation which stimulates innovation.

However, we must also realise that European businesses are in a global competition, and that, in particular for small and medium-sized enterprises and, above all, for research and development, it is particularly important to build bridges, and we need to ensure that competition does not turn into mutual destruction, to the advantage of businesses in other areas of the world which, in addition, do not always practise very fair competition with respect to their competitors. For us, it is therefore very important that we manage to find a means of avoiding abuses of the patent while allowing competition and, of course, while respecting property rights, as has been mentioned. As is often the case, this involves a very delicate balance.

Finally, to conclude, I want to emphasise very strongly that I agree with what Mr García-Margallo y Marfil said about competition in the area of food products. We have a very strange situation in Europe where we look very thoroughly at competition in certain sectors and much less thoroughly in others. It is clear that the lack of proportion between the number of producers and the number of purchasers poses problems of competition. I am therefore delighted, Commissioner, that you have supported what Mr García-Margallo y Marfil said.

 
  
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  Andreas Schwab (PPE ).(DE) Madam President, Commissioner, allow me to echo what my fellow Members have said and, above all, to welcome the fact that the European Commission is including the business community, the Member States and the European Parliament in the revision of the rules for horizontal cooperation agreements at an early stage; after all, the existing group exemption regulations are due to lapse at the end of the year. I believe that the draft from May 2010 contains some important changes, particularly in the areas of standards and the exchange of information, as already discussed. Both of these will bring greater legal certainty and clearer rules for businesses, something that is extremely important for compliance. We have already heard that compliance in the European internal market is a principle that must be followed by all businesses.

Competition and innovation are key elements for our economy, which is why it is important to adapt the 2009 rules to our present situation and to introduce effective mechanisms to promote compliance and the implementation of competition law for businesses and public bodies. It is for this reason that the parliamentary question was backed by such a large majority in the Committee, something I welcome very much. I would like to ask something about what you have just said. The fact is that the purchasing agreements of large, international chain stores can be categorised as horizontal cooperation agreements. In last year’s communication on the functioning of the food supply chain in Europe, you were highly critical of the power of demand, but now you seem to view this very positively. You have just said that cooperation among small retailers is something you welcome, provided the purchasing agreements are in the order of up to a 20% share of the market. My question to you is: what is the reason for this change in how you view these horizontal purchasing agreements? What has motivated this change of heart?

 
  
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  George Sabin Cutaş (S&D ).(RO) Madam President, first of all, I, too, would like to welcome the European Commission’s proposals on the review of the competition horizontal cooperation rules. Their aim is to clarify the terms for obtaining exemptions, readjusting restrictions and providing information about intellectual property rights.

The economic and financial crisis has highlighted the need for closer cooperation in these areas and for a common global economic regulatory framework.

We must also assess the possibility of exchanging information on a more frequent and global level about competition, as well as the possibility of establishing global governance in this area.

Streamlining cooperation agreements between competitors promotes innovation and helps boost European companies’ competitiveness.

As a result, I think that an analysis needs to be carried out on the possibilities of introducing, on occasion, block exemption regulations for other horizontal agreement types.

 
  
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  Paul Rübig (PPE ).(DE) Madam President, I believe that we can organise competition by introducing uniform rules, which is why I am interested to know what options are available to us in the telecommunications sector, specifically in the area of frequency licensing, to enable us to regulate auctions or so-called beauty contests in telecommunications processes. After all, the new technologies available with the fourth generation networks will open up a whole new world of possibilities.

When you travel to a different country in Europe, you will find that many of the prices that appear on your phone’s display are the same. Do you have any plans to further stimulate competition in the roaming sector? How do you envisage roaming can be the subject of proper internal market competition and how can you ensure that prices do not jump a thousand-fold when geographical borders are crossed?

 
  
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  Maroš Šefčovič, Vice-President of the Commission. – Madam President, I am very much obliged to the honourable Members for having this debate because it helps us prepare the ground for these very important changes in the legal framework in which our companies will operate in the future. I very much agree with all those who have been calling for fair competition because only fair competition can lead to fair practice and, of course, to real and not fixed prices. This is very important for Europe’s citizens: how to create a conducive environment so we can achieve positive results but prevent the possibility, on the market, of fixed prices.

I can assure you that we are looking at all possible ways of achieving a solution under which the prices for the patents would not be too high. You know very well from the debate on this issue how very difficult that is. I can tell you that we in the Commission are very unhappy with the delay – we have not been able to find an appropriate solution for the patent for such a long time – because it would definitely create the conditions for a leap forward on how to protect intellectual property rights and on how to improve and make Europe much more competitive when it comes to patent protection on an international level.

Legal certainty and a new legal framework have been two very important issues on which we have been focusing in preparing our proposals. We have had quite extensive public consultations on this matter. We had 190 submissions and there were stakeholders from industry, law firms, academies and governments, so we think that when it comes to the final outcome, we will have managed to achieve the appropriate balance.

I am very thankful for the underlining of the importance of EU 2020, because this is exactly why we need to improve and change the framework in which companies operate, looking into how to create positive, conducive environments so that research and development companies and companies involved in innovation can flourish, and into how these could bring additional added value to European economies, and into how to create the conditions for their staying in Europe and not looking for opportunities to manufacture the products somewhere else.

I can assure you this was one of the elements on which the Commission, and my colleagues, Commissioners Almunia and Barnier in particular, put particular attention in terms of the Single Market Act. Because with a single market, we now have new opportunities to unlock new potentials, to open new avenues and to create conditions which will be important for really good progress, especially in R&D sectors.

Turning to the concrete questions by Mr Schwab, who pointed out certain differences in the Commission approach to this particular issue of small chain suppliers against large chain companies, we came to the conclusion after a very serious review process and our very extensive consultations with the stakeholders, with the Member States, that the approach we are advocating right now corresponded more closely to the current situation, to the present data we had received, and this was the reason why we are suggesting this line forward.

 
  
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  President. – I have received one motion for a resolution(1) tabled in accordance with Rule 115(5) of the Rules of Procedure on behalf of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs.

The debate is closed.

The vote will take place today, Thursday, 25 November 2010, at 12:00.

(The sitting was suspended at 11:30 and resumed at 12:00)

 
  
  

IN THE CHAIR: GIANNI PITTELLA
Vice-President

 
  

(1)See Minutes


6. Fighting colorectal cancer in the European Union (written declaration)
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  President. – Written declaration No 0068/2010, presented by Pavel Poc, Frieda Brepoels, Cristian Silviu Buşoi, Jo Leinen and Alojz Peterle, on fighting colorectal cancer in the European Union, has been signed by more than a majority of Parliament’s component Members.

Therefore, pursuant to Rule 123 of the Rules of Procedure, it will be forwarded to its addressees and published, together with the names of its signatories, in the texts adopted for this part-session.

 
  
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  Pavel Poc (S&D ). – Mr President, I know everybody wants to vote, but I would just like, on behalf of all the co-signatories – Ms Brepoels, Mr Buşoi, Mr Lehne, Mr Peterle and myself – to thank all of you who have supported our written declaration on the fight against colorectal cancer.

We have reached a majority one month before the deadline. This shows the importance of this issue, and we can promise you that this was not a one-off but part of a larger move targeting the EU and Member States. Colleagues, thank you for your support.

 

7. Camp Achraf (written declaration)
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  President. – Written declaration No 0075/2010, presented by Alejo Vidal-Quadras, Stephen Hughes, Kristiina Ojuland, Søren Bo Søndergaard and Struan Stevenson, on Camp Ashraf, has been signed by more than a majority of Parliament’s component Members.

Therefore, pursuant to Rule 123 of the Rules of Procedure, it will be forwarded to its addressees and published, together with the names of its signatories, in the texts adopted for this part-session.

 
  
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  Struan Stevenson (ECR ). – Mr President, I, too, would like to thank all the Members who signed Written Declaration No 75 on Camp Ashraf. This sends a very powerful message to the Iraqi authorities to lift the inhuman siege that they have applied against the 3 400 innocent people in Camp Ashraf over recent months. I really am grateful that more than half of the Members of this House have signed this declaration. It was only opened a month ago and that is a very rapid victory. Thank you very much indeed.

(Applause)

 

8. Voting time
Video of the speeches
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  President. – The next item is the vote.

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

 

8.1. 2011 budget (B7-0683/2010 ) (vote)

8.2. Human rights, social and environmental standards in International Trade agreements (A7-0312/2010 , Tokia Saïfi) (vote)

8.3. European Ombudsman's activity report for 2009 (A7-0275/2010 , Mariya Nedelcheva) (vote)

8.4. Special Report from the European Ombudsman to the European Parliament following the draft recommendation to the European Commission in Complaint 676/2008/RT (According to Rule 205(2), 1st part) (A7-0293/2010 , Chrysoula Paliadeli) (vote)

8.5. 26th Annual Report on Monitoring the Application of European Union Law (2008) (A7-0291/2010 , Eva Lichtenberger) (vote)

8.6. Public service broadcasting in the digital era: the future of the dual system (A7-0286/2010 , Ivo Belet) (vote)
 

Before the vote:

 
  
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  Ivo Belet, rapporteur. – I would like just briefly to mention that I think that it is a very important signal that the Parliament is sending out today: the fact that we want to foster our dual media system with sufficient breathing space for commercial broadcasters and public broadcasters.

In addition, those who thought one year ago that this Parliament cannot agree on a text about guarantees for media pluralism are wrong. I want to thank especially my colleague, Petra Kammerevert, and, above all, Doris Pack, because she is the mother of this initiative.

 

8.7. 10th anniversary of UN Security Council resolution 1325 on women and peace and security (B7-0624/2010 ) (vote)

8.8. The situation in the beekeeping sector (vote)

8.9. A new Energy Strategy for Europe 2011 - 2020 (A7-0313/2010 , Lena Kolarska-Bobińska) (vote)
 

Before the vote on Amendment 1:

 
  
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  Hannes Swoboda (S&D ). – Mr President, on Tuesday of this week, we voted on the Rapkay report, with a compromise on coal mines. Like it or not, a decision has been made by this Parliament. If we were to vote now for something different, it would not be well regarded, especially by the Commission. So I suggest that, in Amendment 1 by the PPE Group, we include the word ‘uncompetitive’ to bring it into line with the Rapkay report. Whatever your individual opinion, the opinion of this Parliament this week should at least be consistent.

 
  
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  Konrad Szymański (ECR ).(PL) Mr President, I would like to inform the Chamber that the amendment tabled by the rapporteur, Mrs Kolarska-Bobińska, brings our text, and the sense of our text, sufficiently into line with yesterday’s voting on the Rapkay report. The next part of the oral amendment only weakens the expression and tone of the resolution as regards the use of coal as a source of primary energy in the energy mix in the European Union. I think there is no need to destroy the consensus that we achieved in the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy by adopting the oral amendment. For this reason, I ask that you vote against this amendment.

 
  
 

(The oral amendment was not accepted)

 

8.10. Preparations for Cancún Climate Change Conference (29 November-10 December) (B7-0616/2010 ) (vote)

8.11. Situation in Western Sahara (B7-0675/2010 ) (vote)

8.12. Ukraine (B7-0650/2010 ) (vote)
 

Before the vote on paragraph 8:

 
  
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  Michael Gahler (PPE ).(DE) Mr President, one fact has changed since the resolution was drafted. Ukraine had not been officially named as chair of the OSCE for 2013 at that time. This is now official and for that reason, I propose the following amendment. I shall read it out in English:

‘Calls on the Ukrainian Government to bring the legislation on media freedom into line with OSCE standards’. This part remains unchanged. The next part should read: ‘decisive action in this regard would strengthen Ukraine’s credibility as OSCE Chairmanship-in-Office for 2013’.

 
  
 

(The oral amendment was accepted)

 

8.13. International Trade Policy in the context of Climate Change imperatives (A7-0310/2010 , Yannick Jadot) (vote)
 

Before the vote on paragraph 22:

 
  
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  Yannick Jadot, rapporteur. (FR) Mr President, we propose changing the end of paragraph 22 by replacing ‘prevent’ with ‘inform’, so the final phrase becomes:

‘reiterates also Parliament’s request to the Commission and Member States to inform the European Parliament about loans granted by export credit agencies and the European Investment Bank to projects that have a negative impact on the climate’.

 
  
 

(The oral amendment was accepted)

 

8.14. Corporate social responsibility in international trade agreements (A7-0317/2010 , Harlem Désir) (vote)
 

Before the vote on paragraph 32:

 
  
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  Harlem Désir, rapporteur. (FR) Mr President, we are proposing a change to the beginning of paragraph 32 in agreement with the shadow rapporteurs. The first words of this paragraph would become – I will read it in English because we drew it up together in English:

‘Calls to explore, within the same forums, the elaboration of an international convention ..’.

(FR) , and the rest of the paragraph is unchanged.

 
  
 

(The oral amendment was accepted)

 

8.15. Competition horizontal cooperation rules (vote)
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  President. – That concludes the vote.

 

9. Explanations of vote
Video of the speeches
  

Oral explanations of vote

 
  
  

Motion for a resolution (B7-0683/2010 )

 
  
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  Laima Liucija Andrikienė (PPE ). (LT) Mr President, I voted for this resolution on the ongoing negotiations on the 2011 budget. The failure of last week’s Parliament-Council Conciliation Committee meeting has caused significant concern throughout the European Union. It is regrettable that some do not yet feel they need to adhere to the Treaty of Lisbon. If we are unable to agree on the budget and other related issues by the end of the year, there will be very grave consequences. The creation of the European External Action Service and the three new institutions to monitor European Union financial institutions would be very difficult if there is a lack of funding. A shortage of money would also mean that cohesion policy, one of the most important policies in the European Union, would not be implemented properly, not to mention what would happen to the Europe 2020 strategy and the GALILEO programme. I therefore feel that the constructive and flexible position of the European Parliament demonstrates once again that, faced with the conditions of the financial crisis, the European Parliament really is acting responsibly.

 
  
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  Peter Jahr (PPE ).(DE) Mr President, with regard to the disaster of the budget negotiations for 2011, I would like to say: firstly, the right to draw up a budget is a central right of any democratic parliament. Secondly, a parliament that takes itself seriously must exercise this right. Thirdly, I would like to call on the European Council to respect and accept this self-evident right of the European Parliament. Fourthly, a process must be found to ensure that the voice of the European Parliament is heard when it comes to budgetary decisions.

 
  
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  Hannu Takkula (ALDE ). (FI) Mr President, I voted in favour of this budget and it is, of course, clear that if we in Parliament have budgetary power, we should exercise it.

Now, however, we need to think about how we can act responsibly. I might say that, in many respects, the budget’s content does not reflect the ideals which we in the European Union share. I wish that we could go over many things in detail in a way that would highlight the presence of old debris that is no longer relevant and which would embolden us to use the budget to look at this debris again. Of course, it is also important to ensure that the European Union receives its own funding, thereby enabling it to also carry out the functions that we have together agreed upon and which came our way with the Treaty of Lisbon.

When I suggest that there are some issues on which we should adopt a new perspective, we have old debris, such as support for tobacco farming, and so on, which I do not think any longer count among the functions of the European Union today. We need to be in the here and now, constructing a budget that will give the European economy a real boost.

 
  
  

Report: Tokia Saïfi (A7-0312/2010 )

 
  
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  Antonello Antinoro (PPE ).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, I voted for Mrs Saïfi’s report because it has achieved the objective it set itself of specifying how human rights and social and environmental standards should be reinforced in international trade agreements.

That will enable the major international organisations to cooperate more closely to find room in multilateral agreements for social matters. It would be useful if the World Trade Organisation were reformed to make room for that kind of cooperation, although the ostracism of certain countries would make it difficult to put such a reform into practice.

The human rights clause, in fact, already appears in the most recent international agreements, and that will become standard in future trade agreements. What is needed, then, is to ensure effective implementation both of the 27 conventions for countries to benefit from the generalised system of preferences (GSP), and of the accompanying measures designed to improve implementation capacity.

Lastly, when the GSP is reformed, it should be focused on the countries most in need.

 
  
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  Laima Liucija Andrikienė (PPE ). – Mr President, I voted in favour of the resolution. As Parliament’s rapporteur on the annual report on human rights in the world this year, I can only reiterate the importance of human rights clauses and standards in international trade agreements.

Trade can play an important part in ensuring not only civil and political rights, but also economic and social ones. Just think about the role that trade-related assistance programmes can play in ensuring development in many poor countries around the world. We must bear in mind that human rights clauses are included in all the bilateral trade agreements the EU makes and also in its GSP and GSP+ regimes with developing countries.

We should make these clauses and conditionality more robust and closely monitor their implementation. We should consider conducting a human rights assessment of non-EU countries that engage in trade relations with the EU and granting trade preferences to countries that have ratified and effectively implemented key international conventions on sustainable development, social rights and good governance.

 
  
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  Daniel Hannan (ECR ). – Mr President, the purpose of trade is to maximise prosperity and advantage to both participants. Countries do not trade with one another: businesses and individuals do. Yet in this report, and in the EU’s trade policy more widely, we see the Commission’s determination to insert into its commercial agreements all sorts of non-commercial criteria: not only those dealing with human rights, environmental standards and so on, but also, and rather more damagingly, those which insist that other parts of the world form themselves into regional commercial blocs in mimicry of the EU.

The whole point of trade is to swap on the back of differences. There is no purpose in obliging, let us say, the countries of Central America to form a commercial union among themselves in which they are selling one another bananas and coffee and cut flowers. Nor, for that matter, is there much advantage in having in Europe a bloc of similar industrialised economies, where we have cut ourselves off from the growing markets of the rest of the world. It is deleterious to the developing nations and to the Anglosphere, and it is particularly disastrous for my country, which has trapped itself in a cramped and declining regional customs union.

 
  
  

Report: Ivo Belet (A7-0286/2010 )

 
  
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  Peter Jahr (PPE ).(DE) Mr President, the media play a very special and important role in our democratic society. They guarantee high quality information and thus make a significant contribution to the functioning of our democracy. I am convinced that a high quality, well-balanced public media environment also has a positive influence on the standard of the private media. Both public and private media need each other and have a positive influence on one another. If we want a well-balanced, informative media environment, we must support independent public broadcasters as the counterparts of private broadcasters. This is one of the keys to the freedom of the press and without it, there can be no meaningful freedom of expression in our community.

 
  
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  Hannu Takkula (ALDE ). (FI) Mr President, I voted in favour of this report by Mr Belet, contrary to our group’s recommendation, because I myself think that it is very important that we acknowledge the need to safeguard public broadcasting services, including those delivered by national broadcasting companies. This is a very important issue, and you might say that we have mainly had only good experiences of it in democracies.

It is quite true that we also need commercial channels. These two different types of service, the commercial and the public service channels, can complement one another. In my opinion, it is an absolute fundamental right and vital for freedom of expression that there is a public channel which is maintained publicly and which concentrates on producing topical and up­to­date information for citizens both in the nation states and across Europe.

I think that this report is excellent and worthy of support, and I hope that it will also be a future trend in all the EU Member States to safeguard public service broadcasting.

 
  
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  Sonia Alfano (ALDE ).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, I voted for the Belet report because it recognises and specifies the fundamental role played by public sector broadcasting in Europe. I see this as an important step for Parliament, which is clearly stating that public broadcasting needs to remain independent of political power.

This report seems to have been written specially for Italy, where the RAI is now at an advanced stage of decomposition because it has been taken over completely by party politics, to the detriment of the cultural and informational depth of public broadcasting and, hence, of the entire country. Just look at what happened last week on the programme called ‘Vieni via con me’ (‘Come away with me’).

The Minzolinis and Masis of broadcasting, professionals of public disinformation and their paymasters, are incompatible with the report that Parliament has adopted today. The European Union should take note and act accordingly. We want no more party politics on the RAI!

 
  
  

Motion for a resolution (RC-B7-0624/2010 )

 
  
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  Anneli Jäätteenmäki (ALDE ). (FI) Mr President, I voted in favour of the resolution. The European Parliament should celebrate the UN Security Council’s resolution concerning women, peace and security.

A total of 90% of the victims of war are civilians, most of them women and children. Rape and sexual slavery are the crude everyday realities of war. Under the Geneva Convention, rape and sexual slavery are recognised as war crimes and crimes against humanity. It also needs to be pointed out that rape is a form of genocide and recognised as such by the international community. It is vitally important that those who commit these crimes are made to answer for their actions.

Women must be involved in the measures taken to try to prevent conflicts and promote crisis management and peace negotiations. It is also important to make it possible for women to participate in the post­war reconstruction of their own countries.

 
  
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  Laima Liucija Andrikienė (PPE ). (LT) Mr President, I voted for this very important resolution because we cannot ignore the fact that levels of violence against women are increasing. This can be seen in war and conflict zones in particular. I agree that proper attention should be paid to the implementation of UNSC Resolution 1325, the first resolution to address the disproportionate and unique impact of armed conflict on women, at the highest level in the European Union. This should be an especially important subject in the ongoing review of the EU’s human rights policy when it comes to the elaboration of a comprehensive human rights country strategy and to the evaluation of the EU guidelines on violence against women and girls and those EU guidelines concerning children and armed conflict, as well as combating all forms of discrimination against them. I support the call to allocate the required funding to fight violence against women and support women's participation in peace, security and reconciliation-related processes.

 
  
  

Motion for a resolution (B7-0622/2010 )

 
  
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  Dimitar Stoyanov (NI ).(BG) Mr President, I voted for the resolution on beekeeping and for support for the beekeeping sector because this form of agricultural production is the most specialised agricultural activity carried out. When we usually think of insects, the associations they conjure up are not particularly pleasant. Insects are not pleasant creatures, but we have to cohabit with them. However, this fact merely highlights that bees are the only insects which have been tamed for the purposes of food and agricultural production. It shows how extremely important they are.

Let us not forget either that, without bees, we would not have a huge proportion of the other produce we have, as they are responsible for pollination. It is vitally important that the European Parliament ensures time and again that standards are aligned, especially in agriculture, and particularly in the case of beekeeping, between the EU and countries outside the EU. The Commission must take note of this.

 
  
  

Report: Lena Kolarska-Bobińska (A7-0313/2010 )

 
  
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  Jens Rohde (ALDE ).(DA) Mr President, please allow me to offer my thanks to Mrs Kolarska-Bobińska for her fine cooperation and an excellent report – a report that here in Parliament today has been made even better than it was before by the majority in Parliament taking a stand on the fact that we in Europe should increase our CO2 reduction target from 20% to 30%. That is the precondition for us to become pioneers and not only bring about progress in the area of the environment, but also ensure that we become competitive in the area of green environmental technology. In this way, we will protect jobs, the economy and the environment at the same time and find simultaneous answers to the major challenges we are facing in Europe. It has been a good day for Europe with this vote today.

 
  
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  Jan Březina (PPE ). (CS) Mr President, I voted in favour of the report on energy strategy, which outlines the directions that future European Union energy policy should take. I would like to emphasise the role of nuclear energy in the current and future energy mix of the EU, including an implicit recognition of the need to extend the lifetime of existing facilities. The strategy can be regarded as balanced from the perspective of individual sources, even though it does not once mention what is, in my view, the important role of coal when combusted in modernised power plants. It is difficult to see how we can increase EU energy security and independence without coal as a stable primary resource capable of responding flexibly to sudden increases in energy demand. The weak point is the excessively general nature of the report and the absence of accompanying legislation. The specific and practical form of the strategy will also be hugely influenced by the action plan being drawn up for achieving a low carbon economy by 2050, which is due to be published at the beginning of next year.

 
  
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  Laima Liucija Andrikienė (PPE ). – Mr President, I voted in favour of this important document. It contributes in a constructive way to the debate we are having in Europe on a credible common energy strategy.

Energy security is certainly one of the key aspects of that strategy. The EU must foster a common – if not single – energy policy. Europe-wide regulators and institutions should be given a greater role. The European Commission must play a stronger role in efforts to develop alternative energy routes, first of all, from Azerbaijan and Central Asia, and from North Africa and other countries as well. Europe must further invest in LNG terminals and help do the same for its newest members.

Other measures, such as improving energy efficiency, investing in nuclear energy and creating incentives for renewable energy technologies, are also required. An essential piece in the puzzle is the liberalisation of the internal EU energy market. That is why we should wholeheartedly support the initiative of President Buzek and the former President of the Commission, Jacques Delors, to establish a European energy community.

 
  
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  Hannu Takkula (ALDE ). (FI) Mr President, I also think that this report by Mrs Kolarska-Bobińska is an excellent one. It is important that it should pilot a European energy strategy for the next 10 years. It is also excellent that it focuses broad attention on the notion of what security of energy supply is, though also on energy efficiency, and not forgetting energy savings. They are important issues.

It is, moreover, very important that we invest in research and new applications for different environmental technologies. Innovations in this field will be greatly needed if we want to build a Europe that is cleaner and less dependent on others for energy. We therefore mainly have to look to alternative energy forms. It is true that we need nuclear power as a basic form of energy, but we require new investment in alternative energies. I hope that we can gradually stop using coal. I do not want to see a coal­black future for energy in Europe.

 
  
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  Radvilė Morkūnaitė-Mikulėnienė (PPE ). (LT) Mr President, I voted for this report on the European Union energy strategy which covers many important points and issues and in which there is talk of renewable energy, research, innovations, reducing pollution and, of course, increasing energy security. In particular, I support the European Parliament’s provision that energy networks, even those of a commercial nature, should be governed by transparent intergovernmental agreements which do not affect the interests of the Member States. The bilateral agreements and projects of some Member States, such as the ‘Nord Stream’ gas pipeline, cause distrust not just environmentally, but also in terms of the overall principle of solidarity. An agreement is reached by two countries, one of which is an EU Member State, but the principle of Member States’ solidarity as laid down in the EU treaties is basically cast aside. For this reason, I agree that external pipelines and other energy networks entering the territory of the European Union should be governed by transparent intergovernmental agreements, drawn up strictly in accordance with EU legislation. Such pipelines should be subject to internal market rules, including rules on third party access.

 
  
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  Seán Kelly (PPE ).(GA) Mr President, I was glad to vote for this report, and I wish to commend my colleague and friend Mrs Kolarska-Bobińska on her achievement.

I attended the debate in Parliament but failed to get the attention of the President under the ‘catch the eye’ procedure. I would therefore like to make two points: that the European Union should focus on research, development and innovation; and that a European network should be established for electricity storage and transmission across the Union. If we act accordingly, we will make great progress.

Lastly, I wish to say that I was delighted that a large majority of MEPs voted in favour of this report.

 
  
  

Motion for a resolution (B7-0616/2010 )

 
  
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  Jens Rohde (ALDE ).(DA) Mr President, I am, of course, pleased that Parliament has adopted a resolution that provides a negotiation proposal that will support our Climate Commissioner, who is going to Cancún to negotiate. However, I also think that, considering we had major problems getting the EU to speak with one voice at COP 15 in Copenhagen last year, it provides food for thought that we are so divided in Parliament, as was evident in the votes both on the amendments and on the overall resolution. In this connection, I believe that perhaps we could learn a little from the fact that it could perhaps be advantageous to hold back a little on demands for a Tobin tax and other taxes, because this is part of the cause of the divisions in Parliament. Other things being equal, it would have been better if we had cut down on our demands and thus sent our negotiators off with a more unambiguous and broad mandate than has been the case here today.

 
  
  

Motion for a resolution (RC-B7-0675/2010 )

 
  
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  Antonio Masip Hidalgo (S&D ).(ES) Mr President, some have said that the condemnation of Morocco is too mild given the magnitude of the repression of human rights in the Sahara, where Morocco is nothing more than an occupying country, with no sovereignty or legal entitlement whatsoever. What is important, however, is the message that Europe as a whole and Parliament will no longer stand for its violence.

Yesterday, I was talking about the Hague Court here in Parliament. I hope that the international community, which sadly failed in its attempts to prevent genocide in Rwanda, Yugoslavia and Darfur, will, in this case, prevent it in the Western Sahara and we will not have to see it before another court, also in the Hague, but this time a war crimes tribunal.

 
  
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  Anneli Jäätteenmäki (ALDE ). (FI) Mr President, it is regrettable that the foreign policy practised by several EU countries continues to be very colonial in character. That has been very evident in the case of Western Sahara. Spain and France, which support Morocco, are particularly responsible for prolonging the conflict. Western Sahara is Africa’s last colony and it was a UN resolution in 1966 that first proposed that the territory should be freed from colonial rule.

The situation in Western Sahara has worsened recently. The Moroccan authorities have been using excessive violence. There have been reports of numerous cases of deaths, injuries and disappearances. The crisis area has also been blockaded so that it cannot even receive international aid. The present crisis in the Western Sahara and the entire conflict should be resolved as soon as possible. This is a task for EU Foreign Minister, Lady Ashton, and for all the Member States of the EU too.

 
  
  

Motion for a resolution (RC-B7-0650/2010 )

 
  
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  Dimitar Stoyanov (NI ).(BG) Mr President, I naturally voted for the resolution on Ukraine. I largely presented my arguments for this during yesterday’s debate.

However, I want to use this procedure to make one very important clarification as something was said during yesterday’s debate which is incorrect. At the time, Mr Brok was more than likely misled by the use of wrong terms. However, he said that the head of the security services appoints and is involved in the appointment of constitutional judges in Ukraine.

I checked this fact this evening and established that this is not the case. The Constitutional Court is appointed by the President, the Ukrainian Parliament and the judiciary. In practice, the head of security services has no involvement in the appointment of judges to the Constitutional Court. I wanted to make this clarification.

 
  
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  Laima Liucija Andrikienė (PPE ). – Mr President, finally we have a resolution on Ukraine adopted by our Parliament. Certainly, we were concerned about the recent developments in the country. If Ukraine is our strategic partner, then my understanding is that it is our duty to express our concern about the shortcomings we see – for instance, the excessive powers granted to the Ukraine security services and the measures they have taken to intimidate NGOs operating in that country and to control the Ukrainian media.

We are also concerned at the political process as a whole, including the inability of the opposition parties to participate in the elections without restrictions and discrimination. On the other hand, we should continue to support Ukraine’s European integration prospects and to use more carrots than sticks in trying to draw Ukraine closer to Europe – and not further away from it – and to do everything in our power to achieve this strategic goal of ours.

 
  
  

Report: Yannick Jadot (A7-0310/2010 )

 
  
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  Jarosław Kalinowski (PPE ).(PL) Mr President, the European Union conducts a very extensive environmental protection policy, which also covers agriculture and industry. However, under current conditions of production and competition, it is not possible to stop using chemicals in agriculture, or to change the methods used to manufacture goods so that they do not require a huge expenditure of energy. Accusing the Union that it is not the leader in ecological policy and putting forward the United States and China as models is hugely inappropriate. These countries are, after all, leaders in CO2 emissions. The overriding significance of environmental protection is an undeniable fact, however, which is why we should make every effort to make the European economy sustainable – industry, agriculture and transport. Nature’s goods is our most precious commodity, and something that is very difficult to regain once it is lost. Everything should therefore be done to find the proverbial golden mean.

 
  
  

Report: Harlem Désir (A7-0317/2010 )

 
  
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  Jarosław Kalinowski (PPE ).(PL) Mr President, searching for a balance between economic and social interests is very important, but also very difficult. Economic cooperation which goes hand in hand with respect for the basic rules of democracy and the wellbeing of its citizens is the foundation of the European Union. This is why it is so important to introduce unified standards for human rights, as well as social and environmental standards in international trade agreements. Adopting this type of standard within European Union trade policy will lead to the latter being perceived positively by citizens and also to an improvement in the EU’s relations with its partners. International cooperation in this area is unusually important, and the European Parliament should support it to the greatest extent possible.

 
  
  

Motion for a resolution (B7-0623/2010 )

 
  
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  Jarosław Kalinowski (PPE ).(PL) Mr President, horizontal agreements cover a very wide range of regulations, and oversights in legislative provisions, whether intended or unintended, can lead to the elimination of competition. This is therefore a crucial issue and, at the same time, one which is sensitive to errors. Balance must be ensured by appropriate regulations standardising procedures and promoting agreement between interested parties. Intellectual property rights cannot be disregarded, and failure to observe them must entail serious consequences. I also support the author’s demands regarding an improvement in the quality of legislative texts created. The language used today in many documents is very often difficult to understand and inaccessible for the average citizen.

 
  
  

Written explanations of vote

 
  
  

Motion for a resolution (B7-0683/2010 )

 
  
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  Charalampos Angourakis (GUE/NGL ), in writing. (EL) Yet again, a farce is being played out between the political representatives of capital and the bourgeois governments in order to manipulate the people. The main point is not whether or not we shall have an increase in the budget, but where the money will go. That too has been decided. Agricultural subsidies for poor, medium-sized holdings under the CAP have been cut, while the money from the agricultural funds is going to ‘eligible’ projects, meaning projects awarded directly or via public private partnerships to large business groups. Thus, the EU budget is also used to channel money to the monopoly groups. On the other hand, any increase in the Community budget will be channelled towards funding the anti-grassroots policy and action of the EU, such as the newly adopted mechanism of the European External Action Service to facilitate the EU’s politico-military imperialist interventionist policy.

The EU budget is yet another instrument for slashing grassroots incomes and redistributing it to monopoly capital. The imperialist infighting within the EU does not concern the people; it concerns the fight between the bourgeois classes and parts of capital as to who will get the lion’s share of the booty plundered from grassroots incomes.

 
  
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  Sophie Auconie (PPE ), in writing. (FR) I am sure that you are aware of the problems that rocked the European Union again when it came to approving the 2011 budget. The European Commission and Parliament wanted an increase of around 5% in order to implement new European policies (financial market regulation, common foreign policy, etc.) which have been established in response to the challenges that we are facing. In view of the current budgetary constraints, Parliament ultimately decided to agree to scale back this increase to 2.91%, provided that certain political conditions were met (debate on the granting of own resources to the European Union with a view to ending the horse trading between Member States, budget flexibility and funding for key strategic priorities). As the European Council has rejected these terms, I voted in favour of the new resolution which clearly sets out Parliament’s eminently reasonable, constructive and yet ambitious stance. Whilst I and my fellow Members are willing to tighten our belts together with everyone else in Europe, we do also want to emphasise how important European contributions are in terms of coordinating and supporting the policies pursued by the Union.

 
  
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  Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D ), in writing. (LT) I supported this resolution. The Treaty of Lisbon has brought many important changes in various fields and has given the European Parliament new powers. The unsuccessful attempt to reach an agreement with the European Council on the 2011 budget was the European Parliament’s first serious effort to use the powers assigned to it. The European Parliament is ready to come to an agreement as soon as possible so that the EU can begin 2011 with the budget adopted and so that the funding of important areas and projects is not delayed. However, the European Parliament’s requirements must be mentioned in the agreement with the Council and there must be an agreement on certain flexibility mechanisms, allowing proper financing in 2011 and thereafter of the policies stemming from the new competences conferred on the EU by the Treaty of Lisbon and from the Europe 2020 strategy. There must be a commitment by the Commission to present proposals on new own resources for the EU, and there must be an agreement with the Council on the review of the financial structure. Furthermore, there must be an agreement between the three institutions on a method for working together which includes participation by Parliament in the process of negotiating the next multiannual financial framework. The European Parliament must comply with the requirements it has presented. Not only will the establishment of the EU budget in the future depend on them; they will also establish a precedent to expand the influence of the only directly elected institution in European Union governance.

 
  
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  Sebastian Valentin Bodu (PPE ), in writing. (RO) The European Parliament must not give into pressure from the European Commission to accept the 2011 budget. This would be tantamount to the amendments in the treaty, which form the basis of the functioning of the Union, being infringed by the most democratic forum in the European Community and the only one which is directly elected. The reactions from the European Commission’s leaders create the idea that the Union’s executive has the impression that Parliament does not agree with the budget that has been drafted precisely to show who holds the real power. However, Parliament, which voted in its entirety against the 2011 budget proposed by the Commission, clearly has more important things to do than engage in futile power struggles. In reality, the budget does not take into account the Union’s new powers and does not provide funding for the EU 2020 strategy, which enjoys unanimous agreement.

We cannot be inconsistent when making our own decisions. We cannot devise and approve well-meaning strategies without also providing the financial input for implementing them. Parliament has the right to set the path along which the Union will proceed next year, a right granted by the Treaty of Lisbon. The united action taken by all the parliamentary groups in the European legislative only serves to demonstrate that the budget needs to be reviewed on a much more flexible basis.

 
  
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  Françoise Castex (S&D ), in writing. (FR) I voted for this resolution because it reminds us, in technical terms, of the three requirements on which Parliament’s vote on the 2011 budget depends: namely, keeping the option of mobilising the flexibility instrument, which is a necessary budgetary tool for ensuring minimum financing for Community competences and priorities; the European Commission’s commitment to make specific proposals on new own resources between now and July 2011; and the strong involvement of Parliament in future debates on the European Union’s funding system, specifically on the question of own resources and the drafting of the next financial framework. This resolution reaffirms the changes made to the Council by the Treaty of Lisbon in order that the Council finally recognise the new legitimacy of Parliament in budgetary matters. Beyond the interinstitutional battle, we must realise that the issue of European integration and the very future of the Community project is at stake in this debate on the budget, where Parliament once again embodies the Community spirit and respect for the citizens of the Union. Finally, the Member States, which have ratified this treaty individually, must be fully aware of its requirements and take on the ambitions contained in it.

 
  
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  Marielle De Sarnez (ALDE ), in writing. (FR) Before the Commission proposes a new draft budget, the European Parliament wanted to reaffirm the role that it intends to play in the negotiations on the next multiannual financial framework. We have set down three conditions: firstly, maintaining a flexibility mechanism, not least so as to be able to mobilise millions of euro in emergency aid for developing countries; secondly, that the Commission should provide substantive proposals on new own resources; and thirdly, that the Council should undertake to examine those proposals in conjunction with Parliament during the negotiations on the next multiannual financial framework. The resolution has been adopted by a very large majority, which is indicative of Parliament’s determination only to support the adoption of the 2011 budget if these three conditions are met.

 
  
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  Göran Färm, Olle Ludvigsson and Marita Ulvskog (S&D ), in writing. (SV) We regret the fact that the negotiations have not, as yet, managed to achieve a result. Despite the fact that the European Parliament went a long way in the negotiations by accepting the Council’s budget proposal for 2011, offering a solution to large and difficult financing projects such as the ITER fusion research programme, and promising a swift approval of amending budget No 10, which involved Member States receiving back just over EUR 600 million, a minority of Member States, including Sweden, have blocked the continuation of the negotiations.

Parliament’s resolution stresses that the negotiations should continue, but also lays down requirements for the future.

In order for the EU to avoid further budget crises and to manage to finance major priorities such as climate policy and EU 2020, more flexibility within the EU budget will be needed for the years ahead. However, we do not believe that the overall level of the EU budget needs to be increased. In order to avoid the risk of a veto by Parliament if it is only permitted to adopt a position on a package between Member States when the negotiations are already complete, we also believe that the European Parliament should be permitted to take part in preparatory negotiations on the EU’s next long-term budget after 2013 and in the discussions on the future financing of this long-term budget, without, for that reason, essentially adopting a position on the question of own resources. Finally, we would like to emphasise that these requirements do not go beyond the competence bestowed on Parliament by the Treaty of Lisbon.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE ), in writing. (PT) We are currently experiencing an institutional stalemate as regards the 2011 budget, with some Member States blocking the Commission’s proposal in the Council. I hope that this stalemate will be overcome as swiftly as possible, as the budget has to respect the commitments and responsibilities of the European Union under the Treaty of Lisbon.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE ), in writing. (PT) Parliament wants the Treaty of Lisbon to be respected and institutional peace to prevail within the EU. In fact, according to the Treaty of Lisbon, Parliament has to be involved – by voting or giving opinions – in the new interinstitutional agreement, in the next multiannual financial framework, and in establishing new own resources. As regards the interinstitutional agreement, it is obvious that respect for the commitments made by European institutions, specifically the Council, is conditional on the existence of flexibility regarding the current multiannual financial framework.

The Europe 2020 strategy, the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor programme (ITER), the European External Action Service (EEAS) and financial supervisors are a few examples that need financing. The Council needs to take the Treaty of Lisbon on board, both from the point of view of the new areas which come under the jurisdiction of the European Union, as reflected in the budget, and from the point of view of the European Parliament’s strengthened powers, not least regarding the budget. These changes, in fact, strengthen the democratic legitimacy of the Union’s institutions. The use of the Community method rather than the intergovernmental route makes our governance more democratic. Parliament is calling for only the bare minimum of what would be desirable, taking the budget constraints of the Member States into account.

 
  
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  Ilda Figueiredo (GUE/NGL ), in writing. (PT) We disagree with the proposed 2011 budget. However, we also disagree with most of the justifications that the majority in Parliament are putting forward in order to prevent the 2011 budget from being adopted.

The debate which has begun on the post-2013 financial perspectives is already flawed for a number of reasons, among them, the inability of the European institutions – Parliament and the Council – to come to an agreement in the negotiations on the 2011 budget; the attempts by several Member States to force a reduction in funds for future budgets; the insistence of others on new own resources for the EU, suggesting the creation of European taxes on top of national taxes, paid by the public rather than the financial sector; insistence on the full implementation of the Treaty of Lisbon; and opposition by rich countries to considerably increasing their contributions to the EU budget.

In any case, although we agree that new responsibilities should mean new resources, we cannot give our support to a resolution that does not advocate distributing EU funds with a view to economic and social cohesion, facing up to the crisis and supporting employment with rights, without strengthening militarism or repression.

 
  
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  Sylvie Guillaume (S&D ), in writing. (FR) I voted in favour of the resolution on the current 2011 budget negotiations because it is essential that Parliament takes up its new and legitimate role in defining the European Union’s budget now that the Treaty of Lisbon has entered into force. As the Conciliation Committee has failed to reach agreement despite all Parliament’s efforts, we have restated a number of points on which the Council needs to be flexible. Firstly, the need for greater flexibility up to the end of the multiannual financial framework 2007-2013 in order to take into account the new competences conferred on the European Union and, secondly, for Parliament to be fully involved in the negotiations on the post-2013 financial framework. Lastly, when the Commission has agreed to present detailed proposals on the creation of own resources for the EU, we want the Council to undertake that Parliament will be fully included in the discussions on those proposals. This resolution will send a strong message to the European Council when it meets on 16 and 17 December 2010.

 
  
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  Anna Hedh (S&D ), in writing. (SV) I regret the fact that the negotiations have not as yet managed to achieve a result. Despite the fact that the European Parliament went a long way in the negotiations by accepting the Council’s budget proposal for 2011, offering a solution to large and difficult financing projects such as the ITER fusion research programme, and promising a swift approval of amending budget No 10, which involved Member States receiving back just over EUR 600 million, a minority of Member States, including Sweden, have blocked the continuation of the negotiations.

Parliament’s resolution stresses that the negotiations should continue, but also lays down requirements for the future.

In order for the EU to avoid further budget crises and to manage to finance major priorities such as climate policy and EU 2020, more flexibility within the EU budget will be needed for the years ahead. However, I do not believe that the overall level of the EU budget needs to be increased. In order to avoid the risk of a veto by Parliament if it is only permitted to adopt a position on a package between Member States when the negotiations are already complete, I also believe that the European Parliament should be permitted to take part in preparatory negotiations on the EU’s next long-term budget after 2013 and in the discussions on the future financing of this long-term budget, without, for that reason, adopting a position on the question of own resources. Finally, I would like to emphasise that these requirements do not go beyond the competence bestowed on Parliament by the Treaty of Lisbon, and even though I was against the introduction of this treaty, I believe that we now have no other choice than to accept the consequences of its ratification and work according to its provisions.

 
  
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  Elisabeth Köstinger (PPE ), in writing. (DE) The European Union’s budget forms the framework within which its Member States can act. Particularly during economically uncertain times, it is important to be able to rely on commitments made in this regard. It must be possible for people to have confidence that the funds will actually be made available to them. I am talking here to the farmers in particular. Unused funds in the area of agriculture does not mean that they were not needed. It just means that they have been managed very carefully. Farmers must not be punished for this by shifting the funds to other areas. In the interests of EU citizens, agriculture must be safeguarded financially. A compromise must be found as quickly as possible so that we can adopt the 2011 budget. Only once we have done that can the financing for agriculture be safeguarded and national bottlenecks avoided.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D ), in writing. – I voted for the budget resolution but abstained on Amendment 1b, which deals with new own resources. I certainly believe the EU should be looking for new sources of finance but do not believe this should done by seeking advance commitments from the Council. We should have an open discussion about all the options.

 
  
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  Barbara Matera (PPE ), in writing. (IT) If Parliament and the Council fail to reach agreement on the 2011 budget by the end of this year, it may have major consequences for the financing of Union programmes, cause serious delays in setting up the supervisory bodies, and render emergency instruments such as the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund and the Solidarity Fund inoperable.

Parliament needs to act firmly in future negotiations, however. What it has asked of the Council is, in fact, merely respect for the powers granted by the Treaty of Lisbon. Parliament has done nothing except defend the EU budget from ill-considered cuts, which would have hit employment and seen the people of Europe pay the penalty for the intransigence of a few Member States. I look forward to seeing a great sense of responsibility at the forthcoming negotiations, so as to avoid adding an institutional crisis on top of the current economic crisis.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE ), in writing. (PT) The Treaty of Lisbon has given Parliament new responsibilities, and these mean increased costs. These needs require a budget for 2011 that is slightly higher than that for 2010, so that Parliament is able to perform its role properly. No one is benefiting from the impasse that has been reached in the negotiations with the Council, and despite the crisis that Europe is undergoing, it is necessary to come to an understanding so that the EU can meet the objectives outlined in the EU 2020 strategy.

 
  
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  Andreas Mölzer (NI ), in writing. (DE) Particularly in times of financial crisis, when citizens are being asked to tighten their belts and accept massive cuts in the social and family-related spheres, rigorous savings must also be possible in the EU budget. Instead of this, an increase of a good 3% is planned. Some projects have simply been pushed back so that, in the foreseeable future, we then have the prospect of only the most immediate major expenditure. There would be numerous opportunities to make savings, for example, in connection with the two locations for plenary sittings, or by finally whipping the EU’s fight against fraud into shape and fully recovering the funds that have been incorrectly paid out. We also need to consider whether all of the prestige projects really should be continued. Some of these will certainly also be future-oriented, but the implementation of some projects raises doubts as to their rationale or approach. I cannot support this EU budget for 2011 under any circumstances.

 
  
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  Franz Obermayr (NI ), in writing. (DE) The budget talks have failed on account of the conflict between budget stability and adaptability. Thus, representatives of the European Parliament are calling for broad budgetary flexibility, but without considering the interests of the countries that are net contributors. It is the net contributors which finance the EU, are responsible for restarting the engine of the economy after the crisis and which are rescuing the countries with large budget deficits, as well as the euro itself. It is therefore justifiable for them to keep to the binding budgetary appropriations, so that the net balance cannot be changed retrospectively on a whim and money thereby wasted. Those who are investing and paying out money must be assured of the greatest possible level of stability. Equally, the critical attitude to EU taxation has nothing to do with an apparent ‘lack of solidarity’. It is simply due to the fact that the majority of Member States are clearly opposed to it and are retaining the ratification by the national parliaments for the sake of subsidiarity. The ‘emancipation of the European Parliament’ that is so often quoted in this context seems to me to be more like a very disturbing emancipation from EU citizens. I therefore voted against this motion for a resolution.

 
  
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  Alfredo Pallone (PPE ), in writing. (IT) Like the vast majority of Members, I voted for the draft budget because I believe Parliament has to be taken into account. That is not only from a symbolic viewpoint, due to the fact that Parliament represents 500 million Europeans, but above all, from a ‘constitutional’ viewpoint, inasmuch as the treaty requires Parliament itself to give its assent to the adoption of the future multiannual financial framework (MFF).

The increase that Parliament is requesting is not a whim but is designed to benefit the citizens of the European Union. The major benefits deriving from the funds and initiatives implemented across the Union bear witness to that. I certainly agree, however, with those who believe we should perhaps consider distributing them differently, so as to prevent some countries from being merely net contributors and obtaining far fewer benefits. I hope all these demands can be taken into consideration during the consultation and conciliation stage.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE ), in writing. (PT) Given that the Council’s position on the draft budget has limited payment appropriations to an amount that represents an increase of 2.91% over the 2010 budget, and that on 15 November 2010, the Parliament-Council Conciliation Committee failed to agree on a joint text for the 2011 budget, I am voting in favour of the resolution as I agree with the conditions that Parliament is imposing on the Council and the Commission in order to facilitate an agreement on the 2011 budget.

 
  
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  Miguel Portas (GUE/NGL ), in writing. (PT) I abstained from voting on the resolution on the 2011 budget and future funding for European policies, although I supported all the amendments aimed at improving the position of Parliament in the discussion and control over budgetary decisions. In fact, the compromise text represents a return to previous positions taken by Parliament, namely, those which were behind the breakdown of the first conciliation with the Council.

In its newly recast form, the Members’ position does not guarantee what is vital in this negotiation: that there is not a repeat of the restrictive framework currently imposed by the richer countries of the EU in 2012 and 2013. Neither does the position of Parliament ensure that a democratic conference will take place within the framework of a debate, involving national parliaments, on the new resources which are to fund the new financial perspectives. My abstention backs Parliament’s stance, which is critical of the position of governments that seek greater European powers with less money, but does not endorse poor agreements or a mediocre budget.

 
  
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  Paulo Rangel (PPE ), in writing. (PT) This resolution is a clear signal of Parliament’s commitment to overcoming the current impasse on the budget for 2011.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE ), in writing. – As to the 2011 budget proper, the Council indicated that the level of payment appropriations should not go beyond an increase of 2.91% compared to the 2010 budget. Especially for the Member States that had voted against the majority Council position budget in August, this was the absolute red line. Parliament in trialogues on the 2011 budget had taken a step towards being willing to accept this position on payments, after getting assurances concerning extra commitments over and above the ceiling via the flexibility instrument both in Heading 1A (competitiveness) and Heading 4 (external action) so as to be able to cover for reinforced policy priorities in Heading 1A (notably, lifelong learning) and extra needs in Heading 4 (notably Palestine). Also, as regards ITER (unanimity needed in Council), it seemed that a compromise would guarantee an extra 1.4 billion for the years 2012 and 2013 by using unused margins under the different headings from the year 2010 and – but that part was still under discussion, as it was linked to guaranteeing better flexibility mechanisms under the Multiannual Financial Framework Regulation – redeployments from the seventh framework programme for research and development.

 
  
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  Peter Skinner (S&D ), in writing. – I abstained on the original text of paragraph 1(6) because the idea of calling for new proposals on own resources through tax initiatives and other possible programmes such as ETs represents a potential for EU-style taxes. This vote is consistent with my attitude and earlier approach on any suggestions of a euro-style tax system.

 
  
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  Derek Vaughan (S&D ), in writing. – This resolution sends a clear signal to the other institutions that the European Parliament is willing to start serious negotiations in order to resolve the current budget deadlock and to decide upon a budget for 2011 as soon as possible. Reaching a deal will mean that single farm payments are not delayed, and funding for Structural Funds is not affected. I believe that MEPs, as the only directly elected representatives in the EU, should be involved in shaping the next financial perspective in order to achieve the best deal for UK citizens. Steps need to be taken to make the EU budget more flexible. This will enable the EU to react quickly to crises and will allow unforeseen needs to be financed. The resolution also calls for a much-needed discussion on new ways to finance the EU, which could reduce the cost of the EU for British taxpayers.

 
  
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  Angelika Werthmann (NI ), in writing. (DE) I have voted in favour of the resolution on the ongoing negotiations on the 2011 budget because to date, the budget negotiations have unfortunately shown that the Council has evidently not found time over the last 12 months to read and understand the Treaty of Lisbon. All we are looking for here are rights and procedures that are based strictly on what was agreed in Lisbon – nothing more, nothing less. It was the Council that insisted on the need for the new treaty. The Council must stick to the treaty and is duty-bound not to allow obvious differences within its own ranks to impact negatively on Europe’s citizens.

In this context, I welcome the broad determination of Parliament to agree the 2011 budget as quickly as possible before the end of the year. We need flexibility. What is more, we also urgently need the new financial supervisory authorities, as the dramatic situation in Ireland illustrates day-by-day.

 
  
  

Report: Tokia Saïfi (A7-0312/2010 )

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D ), in writing. (PT) The inclusion of the clause on human rights or the implementation of social and environmental standards in trade agreements is a principle that the EU should seek to ensure. I therefore agree with the EU’s aim of exerting pressure within international organisations, especially the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and the International Labour Organisation (ILO), and of promoting the creation of a new environmental organisation to promote fair trade.

On the one hand, Europe must respect rigorous social and environmental standards, but it must also demand the same level of diligence from its partners. It is worth pointing out that this is possible, as has been demonstrated by the progress made in free trade agreements. However, there needs to be a clear framework of standards within international organisations. This can come about through strengthened dialogue within these organisations, particularly with regard to the compulsory implementation of these standards in trade agreements and the necessary surveillance mechanisms and incentives, along with strengthened arbitration panels. The instruments of the generalised system of preferences (GSP) which enable the EU to grant trade preferences unilaterally may represent a chance to better identify which parties should benefit, taking into account their respective levels of development and monitoring of their commitments.

 
  
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  Sophie Auconie (PPE ), in writing. (FR) Every year, in accordance with the foreign affairs competences established in the treaties, the European Union signs a whole range of trade agreements. Now that the European Union’s competences have been expanded in the fields of human rights (the Charter of Fundamental Rights is now primary legislation) and sustainable development (one of the five key objectives for Europe 2020), I felt it was important to support the report produced by my colleague Tokia Saïfi, which seeks to ensure that these issues are better reflected in the Union’s trade agreements. Naturally, the report proposes improving cooperation within existing international organisations and the automatic inclusion of clauses on these subjects, but it also introduces new ideas, calling for the creation of a World Environmental Organisation to which cases of environmental dumping could be referred. This proposal is also linked to the notion of establishing a carbon inclusion mechanism to complement the EU’s emissions trading system. This two-pronged approach would enable us to prevent emissions being transferred to third countries.

 
  
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  Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D ), in writing. (LT) I support this report. Distortions of competition and the risks of environmental and social dumping are becoming more and more frequent in the area of international trade. This is to the detriment of undertakings and workers in the European Union who, unlike their trade partners in non-EU Member States, are required to comply with more stringent social, environmental and fiscal standards. Therefore, EU bilateral and multilateral agreements should provide for an obligation for all companies, not just those located in the EU, to comply with the aforementioned requirements. EU trade agreements must provide for transparency and stringent public procurement standards, with a view to combating illicit capital flight. In order to achieve these objectives, the EU should cooperate actively with international partners in the area of trade – the World Trade Organisation, the International Labour Organisation and the United Nations Organisation.

 
  
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  Vilija Blinkevičiūtė (S&D ), in writing. (LT) I voted for this report because it is nonetheless essential to ensure a balance between trade law and fundamental human rights and to step up the dialogue between the main international organisations, particularly between the International Labour Organisation and the World Trade Organisation. Furthermore, including human rights and social and environmental standards in trade agreements can add value to international trade agreements, allowing greater support for political and social stability, thus establishing a climate which is more conducive to trade. It should be pointed out that European industries and businesses are bound in Europe by strict social and environmental rules.

I agree with the position of the European Parliament that if the European Union complies with binding standards, it must also be able to require the same from its trading partners and particularly from emerging countries, and insist on quality and sustainability, particularly for food products coming into its territory, in order to preserve fair and equitable trade. I would like to stress that, in order to strengthen human rights and social policy in international trade, we must demand that all future trade agreements provide for a ban on the exploitation of child labour, in particular, in the extraction and processing of natural stone.

 
  
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  Maria Da Graça Carvalho (PPE ), in writing. (PT) I believe that social and environmental standards are not incompatible with the European Union’s trade interests and those of its partners. Cooperation between international organisations should be stepped up as part of a global agreement on climate, especially at the level of carbon inclusion mechanisms for the EU’s emissions trading scheme, while ensuring, however, that existing leakage is stopped. I also believe that the EU should lead efforts in the use of bilateral free trade so that this incorporates not only provisions on human rights, but also provisions on sustainable development issues.

 
  
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  Mário David (PPE ), in writing. (PT) I realise that the discussion on the inclusion of clauses on human rights and social and environmental standards in international agreements is a complex one, and I am aware that there is currently an imbalance between the rules of international trade and the rest of international law. I believe that the European Union plays a key role in this quest for a new world governance and, to this end, must encourage consistency in the policies adopted by international institutions.

I believe that the European Union must seek a balance between restrictive and liberal approaches to trade and a compromise between defending its commercial interests and requiring respect for the values that underpin it. It is therefore important to encourage dialogue and collaborative partnerships with international organisations, particularly the World Trade Organisation and the International Labour Organisation. I also recall that the Treaty of Lisbon has introduced changes to trade policy which touch upon some of the proposals presented in this report. I am therefore voting in favour of the bulk of the measures contained in this report.

 
  
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  Proinsias De Rossa (S&D ), in writing. – I support this report, which calls for trade not to be seen as a narrow end in itself. Rather, our future trade strategy should also see it as an additional means to promote European values and interests. Provisions on sustainable development are of benefit to all parties. Moreover, the inclusion of social and environmental standards in trade agreements contributes to regulate globalisation. Choosing to ignore them is a short-sighted and counterproductive approach which not only goes against the principles guiding our external action but will also undermine the European social model. EU bilateral trade relations with third parties are all the more crucial for human rights and social and environmental standards when there is scant prospect of progress within the WTO framework. Nevertheless, we need to keep pushing for the ILO to be granted observer status in, and the right to speak at, the WTO, and a committee on trade and decent work should be created within the WTO. While the inclusion of binding human rights clauses in the EU’s international agreements is an admirable practice, poor monitoring and implementation seems to render them virtually useless, and this has to be seriously addressed in all future agreements.

 
  
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  Marielle De Sarnez (ALDE ), in writing. (FR) International trade agreements should represent an opportunity for the EU to encourage its partners to adopt social and environmental standards. The report has been adopted by a large majority and contains proposals to require imported goods to comply with the same social and environmental standards as European products. It also suggests that it should be possible to refer cases of social or environmental dumping to either the ILO or a World Environmental Organisation, which needs to be created with all possible speed. Current free trade agreement negotiations should include clauses on human rights but also on economic, social and environmental standards. If this is not done, the unfair competitive advantage will mean that the EU is no longer able to compete with low cost and low quality imports. The future of both European agriculture and European industry are at stake here.

 
  
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  Edite Estrela (S&D ), in writing. (PT) I voted in favour of the report on ‘human rights, social and environmental standards in international trade agreements’ because trade policy should be consistent with the EU’s objective and should contribute to safeguarding its social and environmental policy models. It is therefore paramount that the EU ensures that specified social and environmental standards are implemented in international trade agreements.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE ), in writing. (PT) The issue of whether we should trade with those who do not have the same standards of respect for human rights is nothing new in international relations and is threatening to drag on forever. Being as realistic as possible, I believe that the EU should do its utmost to ensure greater acceptance of the standards deemed sufficient and seek to bind countries with which it trades into the global effort to respect those rights. At economic and diplomatic level, I realise that the EU must not neglect stressing the importance and centrality of this issue at a time of establishing lasting trade channels. At the same time, however, as is common knowledge, we are not in a position to impose these standards or to make such demands. Although these standards are often formally obeyed, the EU is also aware that it has partners that do not comply with them on a regular basis. The major energy suppliers to Europe come under that category. That being said, I would like to reiterate the importance of continuing to fight for human rights and making them a condition for establishing sound trade relationships.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE ), in writing. (PT) The inclusion of the human rights clause and the implementation of social and environmental standards in trade negotiations are complex issues that are dividing the international community. On the one hand, the North is denouncing the social and environmental dumping practised by emerging countries, which distorts trade competition; on the other hand, the South suspects the North of wanting to impede their economic development and, through the implementation of these standards, to exercise a form of disguised protectionism.

I voted in favour of this report as I believe that trade policy should act as an instrument in the service of the European Union’s overall objectives, and that it is therefore important that trade is seen not as an end in itself, but rather as a tool for the promotion of European commercial interests, and as an instrument for fair trade that can bring into general practice the effective inclusion and implementation of social and environmental standards with all EU trade partners.

 
  
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  Sylvie Guillaume (S&D ), in writing. (FR) I voted in favour of the report on human rights and social and environmental standards in international trade agreements because it is vital that the European Union’s trade policy be consistent with its political aims. The text, which has been improved considerably by the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament, makes it clear that trade can no longer be an end in its own right, but rather that all agreements should now contain certain social and environmental clauses. These clauses must be binding and include scope for referring cases of non-compliance, notably to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

 
  
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  Juozas Imbrasas (EFD ), in writing. (LT) I agreed with the report because we should not forget that European industries and businesses are bound by strict social and environmental rules in Europe. If the European Union complies with binding standards, it must also be able to require the same from its trading partners and particularly from emerging countries, and insist on quality and sustainability, particularly for food products coming into its territory, in order to preserve fair and equitable trade. It is important to improve access to green goods and technologies to achieve sustainable development objectives, and we must reach a rapid conclusion to the negotiations on reducing or removing tariff and non-tariff barriers for environmental goods and services so as to promote new forms of employment policies and create jobs which meet decent work standards as laid down by the International Labour Organisation and establish growth opportunities for European industries and small and medium-sized enterprises.

 
  
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  Jarosław Kalinowski (PPE ), in writing. (PL) Searching for a balance between economic and social interests is not only very important, but also very difficult. Economic cooperation which goes hand in hand with respect for the basic rules of democracy and the wellbeing of its citizens is the foundation of the European Union, which is why it is so important to introduce unified standards for human rights, as well as social and environmental standards, in international trade agreements.

Adopting this type of standard within European Union trade policy will lead to the latter being perceived positively by citizens and also to an improvement in the EU’s relations with its partners. International cooperation in this area is extremely important, and the European Parliament should support it to the greatest extent possible.

 
  
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  Elisabeth Köstinger (PPE ), in writing. (DE) I voted in favour of the report, as human rights, social standards and environmental standards should apply in all countries, not just in Europe. Within our sphere of influence are those states with which we trade. There is a responsibility associated with this which we ought to fulfil, and this report points us in the right direction. It is the direction towards fair trade and, in particular, fairness towards the people and the environment. If we are able to improve something in these areas, we should do so as far as we possibly can.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D ), in writing. – I warmly welcome this report, which makes clear that EU trade policy must be about more than trying to achieve maximum economic advantage. EU trade agreements must include strong human rights, social and environmental standards.

 
  
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  Jean-Luc Mélenchon (GUE/NGL ), in writing. (FR) This report highlights a number of pertinent points, such as the UN Human Rights Council’s periodic review of the application of the human rights clause in trade agreements, the ability of the ILO to refer cases to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, the involvement of national parliaments and citizens of third countries in the negotiations, and the fight against modern slavery.

This concern with human rights is welcome coming from a Parliament which endorsed the coup d’état in Honduras and the signing of a commercial agreement with the leaders of the putsch. However, quite apart from my doubts about the real impact of the statements regarding human rights, the desire expressed in the report to introduce free trade agreements everywhere, as well as the promotion of the pollution rights exchange that we call the ‘carbon market’, mean that I cannot vote for it.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE ), in writing. (PT) EU countries and all their economic operators are scrupulous in respecting human rights and complying with social and environmental standards, and it is perfectly natural to ask the same of their trade partners in the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in order to make world trade fairer and more equitable. We are aware that on occasions, those obligations are not easy to fulfil, especially for emerging countries. However, the EU must continue to make an effort to bring this about, and it therefore falls to the EU and Parliament to make every effort to uphold respect for human life and affirm that decent work is the same everywhere and for everyone, and that there is a universal aspect to the meaning of environmental and social rights, including trade union rights and combating child labour.

 
  
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  Willy Meyer (GUE/NGL ), in writing. (ES) I voted in favour of this resolution as it explicitly includes the need for the EU to make an effective contribution to the sustainable development of the world, solidarity between peoples, fair trade and the eradication of poverty. My support is also based on the importance and the need, which is reflected in the resolution, to make it legally binding that international trade agreements must respect human rights, which must be strictly and constantly monitored. On this point, I think that the proposal to grant the International Labour Organisation (ILO) the status of official observer in the World Trade Organisation is a valuable one, especially the creation of a committee on trade and decent work in the ILO to supervise trade agreements in coordination with the ILO and the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights. Another reason why I voted in favour of this resolution is the firm way in which it expresses the need to create a ‘genuine World Environmental Organisation’, and its unequivocal defence of human rights, sustainable development and respect for the environment, prioritising them above the current international trade models.

 
  
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  Andreas Mölzer (NI ), in writing. (DE) It should certainly be in the interests of the EU to conclude trade agreements primarily with equal partners. This means that more attention should be paid to human rights and environmental and social standards, because, as long as the EU complies with these standards, it can also require them of its trade partners. However, particularly in the area of human rights, as well as social and environmental standards, the EU repeatedly hits a brick wall when other countries with which it has concluded bilateral trade agreements have different opinions in this regard. I am abstaining from the vote, because I would question whether it would actually be possible to implement what the rapporteur has proposed.

 
  
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  Alfredo Pallone (PPE ), in writing. (IT) Human rights and the application of social and environmental standards in trade negotiations are quite complex and highly problematic issues. It is therefore essential for the social clause to appear more and more frequently in bilateral agreements. Despite the evident imbalance today between the rules of international trade and the other standards of international law, I believe it is fundamentally important to vote in favour of Mrs Saïfi’s report so that new ways of thinking can be developed to achieve genuine coordination between international organisations. The European Union has a key role in this quest for a new world governance, and to this end I feel it must encourage consistency in the policies adopted by international institutions. I voted for the report so that a new trade policy can be launched and conducted; one that is based on firmness and dialogue and that takes environmental standards into account so as to achieve ‘legitimate’ objectives.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE ), in writing. (PT) I voted in favour of the report on human rights and social and environmental standards in international trade agreements as I agree with the inclusion of clauses relating to human rights or to the implementation of social and environmental standards in trade negotiations.

There is real tension between the countries in the North, which are denouncing the social and environmental dumping practised by emerging countries, and the countries in the South, which suspect the North of wanting to impede their economic development and, through the implementation of these standards, to exercise a form of disguised protectionism. However, this conflict of interests must not prevent the EU from adopting a positive, yet also legally binding approach in its negotiations, with the inclusion of provisions on sustainable development, particularly in bilateral agreements.

 
  
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  Rovana Plumb (S&D ), in writing. (RO) The European Union, through its policies and particularly its trade policy, must uphold its commercial interests while complying with and ensuring that others comply with its standards and values. It is this thought which should help the various EU institutions launch and conduct a new ambitious trade policy based on firmness and dialogue. We must not forget that European industries and businesses are bound in Europe by strict social and environmental rules. If the European Union complies with binding standards, it must also be able to require the same from its trading partners, particularly from emerging countries, and insist on quality and sustainability, particularly for food products coming into its territory, in order to preserve fair and equitable trade.

In this sense, the European single market’s tough rules on health, safety, the environment and protection of workers and consumers are a specific European model which must serve as an inspiration at international level and in multilateral fora and which must be reflected in the current negotiations on bilateral trade agreements.

 
  
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  Paulo Rangel (PPE ), in writing. (PT) I voted in favour as I believe that as the European Union plays a crucial role in the quest for a new world economic governance, it must encourage consistency in the policies implemented by the various international institutions. Today, there is a growing imbalance between the specific standards for international trade and the other rules of international law. As frontline players, we have an obligation to find new ways of thinking, with the specific aim of establishing effective coordination between international bodies.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE ), in writing. (ES) The inclusion of the human rights clause, along with the application of social and environmental standards in trade negotiations, are complex problems that divide the international community. On the one hand, Northern countries are condemning the unfair competition from emerging countries when it comes to social and environmental matters, which results in a distortion of competition in trade. On the other hand, Southern countries suspect that Northern countries want to hinder their economic development and use the application of those standards as a concealed method of protectionism. All of this explains why it is extremely difficult to conduct a calm discussion within multilateral institutions on these standards, especially within the World Trade Organisation, as it is coinciding with the increasingly frequent appearance of the social clause in bilateral trade agreements.

 
  
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  Oreste Rossi (EFD ), in writing. (IT) We are in favour of the report on human rights and social and environmental standards in international trade agreements, because third countries that do not respect workers’ rights and refuse to play an active part in fighting climate change all too often compete unfairly with EU companies.

Our businesses have to comply with extremely demanding standards of worker protection, meet high wage and tax bills, abide by laws placing strict controls on emissions into the environment, and abide by conditions imposed by local planning regulations. Competing businesses in third countries, such as China and India, are obviously not subject to such controls and rules, and their end products are clearly competitive with regard to Europe’s.

When I spoke in the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety and at the interparliamentary meeting on energy, I called for the EU to use its influence in the World Trade Organisation to allow Europe to impose a carbon tax on countries that do not sign the climate change agreements. The same argument should apply to those countries that produce by methods that are very different from those found in Europe, such as the use of child labour, or countries that do not grant workers their rights.

 
  
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  Joanna Senyszyn (S&D ), in writing. (PL) I voted for the adoption of the resolution on human rights and social and environmental standards in international trade agreements. The European Union is based on principles that include respect for human rights. This is why it sets such great store by the observance of human rights throughout the world.

The Treaty of Lisbon confirms that the external activities of the European Union, of which foreign trade is an integral part, should be carried out according to the same principles as those which underlie the creation of the EU. This is why I fully support the practice of including legally binding clauses regarding human rights in the European Union’s international agreements. I would like to draw attention, however, to the need for them to be implemented and to the fact that countries that do not adhere to established rules will need to face possible economic consequences.

In accordance with point 15 of the resolution, I believe it is crucial that all free trade agreements contain negotiated social and environmental standards, including: a list of minimum standards that all the EU’s trade partners should observe, as well as a list of additional conventions that should be implemented gradually and flexibly, taking into account the economic situation and the social and environmental issues of a given partner.

In particular, I am in favour of placing in all future trade agreements a ban on child labour. I also support a strengthening of cooperation in human rights between the WTO and the main UN institutions.

 
  
  

Report: Mariya Nedelcheva (A7-0275/2010 )

 
  
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  Sophie Auconie (PPE ), in writing. (FR) In 2009, the European Ombudsman received 3 098 complaints, 727 of which fell under his competences. The post of European Ombudsman was established in the Treaty of Maastricht in 1992, creating an intermediary between European citizens and the authorities of the European Union. European citizens and businesses, but also institutions and any individual who lives or is legally resident in a Member State, are entitled to lodge complaints with the Ombudsman. The Ombudsman is elected by the European Parliament at the start of its term of office for that term and investigates administrative failures that are brought to his attention. The Ombudsman produces an annual activity report. In voting for this resolution, I am associating myself with the general approval expressed by the European Parliament for this vital link in the chain of democracy.

 
  
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  Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D ), in writing. (LT) The institution of the European Ombudsman safeguards the right, anchored in the Charter of Fundamental Rights, of every citizen ‘to have his or her affairs handled impartially, fairly and within a reasonable time by the institutions and bodies of the Union’. The entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon increased the democratic legitimacy of the Ombudsman thanks to his election by the European Parliament and extends his remit to include the common foreign and security policy and the activities of the European Council. I voted for this resolution because I welcome the results of activities in 2009. The average time taken to consider complaints fell by four months in 2009, and more than half of the procedures initiated were concluded by an amicable resolution. This bears witness to the effective cooperation which exists between the Ombudsman and the institutions and bodies of the Union. I feel that it is necessary to increase EU citizens’ confidence in the EU and its institutions and, above all, to ensure that citizens have every opportunity to obtain the information they require and have faith in the ability of EU institutions to defend their rights.

 
  
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  Vilija Blinkevičiūtė (S&D ), in writing. (LT) I voted for this report because through his work, the Ombudsman is helping European institutions to adopt transparent decisions which can be accessed by all citizens and legal persons. The entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon increased the democratic legitimacy of the Ombudsman thanks to his election by the European Parliament and extends his remit to include the common foreign and security policy and the activities of the European Council. Transparency, access to information and respect for the right to good administration are vital preconditions for maintaining citizens’ confidence in the institutions’ ability to assert their rights. The most common types of alleged maladministration were lack of transparency. Therefore, it is essential to ensure that citizens receive prompt and substantive responses to their enquiries, complaints and petitions. The European institutions and bodies must provide citizens with the information they require. I welcome the collaboration between the European Ombudsman and ombudsmen and similar bodies at national, regional and local levels in the Member States.

 
  
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  Maria Da Graça Carvalho (PPE ), in writing. (PT) The role of the European administration is vast and complex. I voted in favour of this report as I believe it is vital to ensure public confidence in the European institutions through efficient administration, with transparent procedures and easy access to infrastructure. I welcome the positive results in the reduction in complaints and the improvement in handling them at a European level.

 
  
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  Carlos Coelho (PPE ), in writing. (PT) The work of the Ombudsman is essential and contributes to greater transparency, bringing the EU closer to the public, while strengthening public confidence in the ability of the institutions to enforce their rights. Although, in 2009, there was a small reduction in the number of complaints (9%) in comparison with 2008, of the 335 cases opened, approximately 318 were concluded and closed. The fact that 56% of cases were closed having reached an amicable agreement or been solved is fairly positive. These results demonstrate that there is constructive cooperation between the Ombudsman and the EU’s institutions and bodies, which, for the most part, see these complaints as a perfect opportunity to remedy any mistakes made and cooperate with the Ombudsman on behalf of members of the public.

I would like to emphasise the importance of the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon, in which the right to good administration was inscribed among the fundamental rights inherent to EU citizenship. Two substantial amendments were also made: that the Ombudsman should be elected, strengthening his democratic legitimacy, and that his mandate should be extended to the common foreign and security policy.

 
  
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  Lara Comi (PPE ), in writing. (IT) The report on the European Ombudsman’s activities in 2009 is of great interest, since it allows us to assess whether and to what extent the relationship between the EU institutions and the people is transparent, quick and effective. There are many topics, in fact, on which Parliament and the Commission express their views without receiving any feedback from the public apart from the complaints made to the Ombudsman.

While I approve the report, however, I think the European Ombudsman himself and the work he does should be more widely publicised, especially in the Member States where he is not immediately recognisable. In fact, it should never be forgotten that a small number of complaints can mean either that people do not notice many irregularities or that they have little confidence in a possible legal solution to their problems. Providing greater publicity would be a way of expanding the survey, so that we would be able to state more confidently which of the two scenarios above applies in this case.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE ), in writing. (PT) In 2009, the Ombudsman recorded a total of 3 098 complaints, as opposed to 3 406 in 2008, which represents a drop of 9%. The complaints related to: the Commission (56%), the administration of Parliament (11%), the European Personnel Selection Office (9%), the Council (4%) and the European Court of Justice (3%). The main complaint was about poor administration and the lack of transparency, including refusal to disclose information, which is a key factor in ensuring public safety and confidence in the EU. This therefore demonstrated the need to continue working towards better administration and allowing greater transparency in the institutions, which can be achieved by a joint effort from the Ombudsman and the institutions, particularly through the constant exchange of good practice.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D ), in writing. – I voted for this report, which reviews and supports the Ombudsman’s activities in 2009. The Ombudsman provides an important link with the citizens and his work helps build trust in the EU institutions and makes them more accessible.

 
  
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  Clemente Mastella (PPE ), in writing. (IT) The aim of the European Ombudsman is to ensure that citizens’ rights under EU law are respected at every level in the Union and that EU institutions and bodies conform to the highest standards of administration.

Recently, the Ombudsman has continued his efforts to improve the quality of information provided to citizens and potential complainants concerning their rights, especially through the European Network of Ombudsmen. The Ombudsman must continue to strive to make certain that the EU institutions and bodies adopt a citizen-centred approach in all their activities, and he must therefore seek every opportunity to achieve friendly solutions to complaints and launch more inquiries on his own initiative in order to identify problems and encourage best practice.

I supported this report because it seeks to encourage the Ombudsman to continue to work with the institutions to promote good administration and a service culture and to increase communication efforts, so that citizens who might need to make use of his services are properly informed of how to do so, thus strengthening their trust in the European Union and its institutions and improving our own credibility.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE ), in writing. (PT) The role of the Ombudsman is very important as it helps to bring the public closer to the European institutions. The Ombudsman registered a total of 3 098 complaints in 2009, compared to 3 406 in 2008, which represents a reduction of 9% on 2008, with 335 inquiries opened on the basis of complaints and 230 complaints declared inadmissible.

Most inquiries opened by the Ombudsman in 2009 concerned the Commission (56%). Complaints also targeted the administration of Parliament (11%), the European Personnel Selection Office (EPSO) (9%), the Council (4%) and the European Court of Justice (3%). Twenty-three other EU institutions and bodies were the subject of a further 59 inquiries (17%). The figures presented in the report amply demonstrate this body’s efficiency and its importance for the transparency of relations between the European institutions and the public.

 
  
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  Willy Meyer (GUE/NGL ), in writing. (ES) I voted in favour of this resolution because I am in agreement with the need to achieve greater transparency regarding the Commission’s activities and to do the work necessary in order to bring the EU’s institutions closer to the European people. I have given my support to the report presented by the Ombudsman because it reflects the work that he does in condemning maladministration, and the positive work that he is doing towards greater transparency through his response to complaints from EU citizens regarding maladministration on the part of the institutions and European bodies. My vote supports the work done by the Ombudsman, who resolves numerous complaints through mutually agreed solutions, in cooperation with Parliament. I also think it is very positive that this resolution encourages the Ombudsman to initiate his own investigations in order to resolve systemic problems in the institutions.

 
  
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  Andreas Mölzer (NI ), in writing. (DE) The European Union has been working for decades to reduce bureaucracy and increase transparency. There is often not much sign of this in the European Parliament itself. On the contrary, I get the feeling that bureaucratic paperwork increases by the year. Prior to the hearings for the most recent elections, the word transparency was on everyone’s lips. Thanks to the authority of their office and the rights that come with it, Members of Parliament can have their voices heard. The same cannot be said for the citizens of Europe. That is why they have the European Ombudsman. When more than one third of the investigations carried out by the Ombudsman involved cases where there was a lack of transparency and when 56% of all cases were resolved amicably, it only serves to confirm how important the office of the Ombudsman is. However, I cannot fully support the rapporteur’s statements and for that reason, I am abstaining from the vote.

 
  
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  Alfredo Pallone (PPE ), in writing. (IT) Protection of and respect for human rights is a key element of the European Union, and so the European Ombudsman’s important role in this context cannot be overlooked. That is why I voted in favour of Mrs Nedelcheva’s report, because the role of the European Ombudsman as a promoter of respect for human rights cannot be ignored. This important figure at European level strives to make certain that the institutions adopt a citizen-centred approach in all their activities, by seeking every opportunity to achieve friendly solutions to complaints and by launching new inquiries in order to identify problems and encourage best practice. The existence of an ombudsman ready and willing to settle disputes and differences between citizens helps people with different ideas, experiences and plans to communicate and live together. This is the starting point for reinforcing and promoting this role in Europe and for ensuring that the service is properly promoted and fairly administered.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE ), in writing. (PT) The annual report on the European Ombudsman’s activities in 2009 show that he has been extremely active. The new legal framework which reflects the changes to the Ombudsman’s status and the entry into force of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), which adds the common foreign and security policy (CFSP) and the European Council’s activities to the Ombudsman’s mandate, have not been detrimental to the pace of work. The average time taken to consider complaints fell from 13 months to nine months. It is worth pointing out the obvious willingness of the EU institutions and bodies to see complaints to the Ombudsman as an opportunity to remedy any mistakes made and to cooperate with the Ombudsman on behalf of citizens.

I therefore voted in favour of this resolution, which approves the annual report for 2009 and presents guidelines for the future. Of these, I would like to highlight the following: the call for the Ombudsman to enforce the Charter of Fundamental Rights, which has become legally binding with the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon; the call for the Commission to draft a European administrative law common to all the bodies, institutions and agencies of the Union; and the call for the Ombudsman to monitor the new procedure concerning the selection of staff for the European Institutions by the European Personnel Selection Office (EPSO).

 
  
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  Paulo Rangel (PPE ), in writing. (PT) I voted in favour of this report as it highlights the crucial role of the Ombudsman in ensuring respect for the rights of EU citizens and in promoting a culture of public service within the institutions, based on best practice in good administration.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE ), in writing. (ES) The annual report on the European Ombudsman’s activities in 2009 was officially presented to the President of the European Parliament, Mr Buzek, on 19 April 2010, and the Ombudsman, Mr Diamandouros, presented his report to the Committee on Petitions on 4 May 2010. The report provides an overview of the Ombudsman’s activities during the past year. The results of the different investigations are divided into categories according to the nature of the cases of maladministration or the institution concerned. A six-page summary has also been published. The new publication contains the most significant results achieved by complainants, and highlights the main political issues examined during the past year.

 
  
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  Angelika Werthmann (NI ), in writing. (DE) Naturally, I voted to accept the annual report on the European Ombudsman’s activities because, as a member of the Committee on Petitions, I have had many opportunities to witness Mr Diamandouros’s dedicated and objective approach to his work. His achievements have been excellent: in 2009, 70% of his investigations were completed within a year, 55% of them within an impressive three months.

 
  
  

Report: Chrysoula Paliadeli (A7-0293/2010 )

 
  
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  Vilija Blinkevičiūtė (S&D ), in writing. (LT) I voted for this resolution on the special report by the European Ombudsman because it notes that the Ombudsman has completed an own-initiative inquiry into the rules which the Commission applies to applications by members of the public for access to documents concerning infringement proceedings. Complaints submitted by EU citizens are an important source of information on possible violations of EU law. The Commission receives a particularly high number of complaints from citizens concerning maladministration. It is therefore very important for the Commission to take action to ensure that requests for access to documents receive a prompt reply. Efforts should be made to increase cooperation with the European Parliament’s Committee on Petitions and to exchange information with the Ombudsman on a regular basis. The Ombudsman should keep the European Parliament informed about inquiries which he is conducting and the results thereof. The Commission should adopt a more open and proactive attitude towards information relating to infringement proceedings.

 
  
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  Lara Comi (PPE ), in writing. (IT) For the sake of correctness, I think Parliament should also have listened to Commissioner Verheugen’s arguments on the merits of the case. Therefore, I do not feel able to pass judgment on him.

Nonetheless, I support the Ombudsman’s position, since I believe that collaboration between the institutions is, and should continue to be, one of the strong points of their roles. To that effect, replying late and avoiding not legislative but moral obligations are signs of a censurable attitude. The building of social capital, in the sense intended by Putnam, in fact goes beyond the licitness of behaviours to look at their good faith, consistency and morality.

Therefore, whatever the Commissioner’s reasons may have been, I certainly stand behind the Ombudsman.

 
  
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  Vasilica Viorica Dăncilă (S&D ), in writing. (RO) I welcome the excellent institutional relations between the Ombudsman and Committee on Petitions in terms of mutual respect for each other’s remits and powers. I think that the practice already established by the Ombudsman of ensuring that a representative is present at all the meetings held by the Committee on Petitions bodes well.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE ), in writing. (PT) The special report by the European Ombudsman follows the Commission’s refusal to disclose to a non-governmental organisation for environmental protection three letters, from a set of 18, sent by Porsche AG to Commissioner Verheugen, concerning the exchange of information between the Commission and automobile manufacturers on a possible approach to carbon dioxide emissions from vehicles. Following the request by the Ombudsman for a reasoned opinion on the non-disclosure of these three letters from the Commission, it delayed its response six times, over 15 months, thus violating the principles of good faith and cooperation, and harming interinstitutional dialogue and the public image of the EU. It is Parliament’s responsibility, as the only elected body of the EU, to safeguard and protect the independence of the Ombudsman in fulfilling his duties to the European public, and to monitor the implementation of the recommendation that he has made to the Commission.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE ), in writing. (PT) Article 228 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union empowers the Ombudsman to receive complaints from any citizen of the Union concerning instances of maladministration in the activities of the Union’s institutions or bodies. These complaints submitted by EU citizens constitute an important source of information on possible infringements of EU law.

According to Article 41 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, ‘every person has the right to have his or her affairs handled impartially, fairly and within a reasonable time by the institutions, bodies, offices and agencies of the Union’. In the context of the consultations provided for in Article 4(4) of Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001, the Commission must establish a deadline for the third-party author of a document to reply, and it should exercise this power in a way that enables it to abide by its own deadlines. Furthermore, the Commission cannot delay or obstruct the Ombudsman's inquiries in cases involving issues of access to documents, and should respond to the Ombudsman without delay, so as to comply with its duty of sincere cooperation, as envisaged in the treaty.

 
  
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  Alan Kelly (S&D ), in writing. – The Ombudsman offers an important service to Irish citizens. If they feel that the EU or government does not seem to be working for them, they always have the office of the Ombudsman to turn to, to seek redress. From my dealings with the office, I have found that they aid the Irish citizens thoroughly and professionally and by voting in favour for the passing of this report, it shows the faith I have in the office.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D ), in writing. – I voted for this report. I take the view that the Commission’s uncooperative attitude in this and other cases risks eroding citizens’ trust in the Commission and undermining the ability of the European Ombudsman and the European Parliament to adequately and effectively supervise the Commission, and that as such, it runs counter to the very principle of the rule of law upon which the European Union is founded. I support demands that the Commission give an undertaking to Parliament that it will fulfil its duty of sincere cooperation with the European Ombudsman in future.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE ), in writing. (PT) The role of the European Ombudsman is clearly defined as being to investigate complaints against the EU institutions and bodies. Such powers mean greater transparency in the relations between the European institutions and the citizens, companies, associations and other bodies with a registered office in the EU.

The complaint submitted by the non-governmental organisation (NGO) in question in this report concerns access to documents in the Commission’s possession. The Ombudsman gave the Commission a deadline of three months to submit a detailed opinion, but this occurred only after 15 months. This behaviour means that the Commission breached its obligation to cooperate with the Ombudsman sincerely and in good faith during his inquiry, and was detrimental not only to interinstitutional dialogue, but also to the EU’s public image. I believe that it is Parliament’s responsibility, as the only elected body of the EU, to safeguard and protect the independence of the Ombudsman in fulfilling his duties towards the European public.

 
  
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  Willy Meyer (GUE/NGL ), in writing. (ES) I voted in favour of this resolution because I agree with its criticism of the Commission for having prioritised the interests of the multinational company Porsche over the public’s right to access Parliament, Council and Commission documents. This resolution criticises the Commission’s uncooperative attitude, which is detrimental to both interinstitutional dialogue and the EU’s public image. My support for this resolution is based on the fact that I agree with its criticism of the daily lack of transparency by the Commission, which constantly infringes the principle of loyal cooperation between the European institutions through ‘the general practice of delay and obstruction by the Commission in respect of the Ombudsman’s inquiries in cases involving access to documents’.

 
  
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  Andreas Mölzer (NI ), in writing. (DE) The EU institutions normally cooperate very well with the European Ombudsman. If everything is regulated in the EU, for example, the permissible payment deadlines for companies, it seems strange that the Commission, on the other hand, when consulting with a third party, is not in a position to set a deadline for this third party that enables it to meet its own deadlines. If we consider the fact that the Commission has only managed to meet the internal EU deadlines in less than a fifth of cases, this reflects a disregard for good manners. It is nothing short of regrettable when a special report by the Ombudsman is required in order to make public something as simple as access to documents to which EU citizens have a right. To quote the words of the Ombudsman: citizens have a right to know what the EU and its administration are doing. Perhaps I might expand on this by saying that our citizens also have a right to know how the European Union spends its taxes and where resources are wasted. Therefore, I can only vote in favour of the report.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE ), in writing. (PT) I voted in favour of the special report by the European Ombudsman to Parliament following his draft recommendation to the European Commission in complaint 676/2008/RT, which relates to the Commission’s excessive delay in providing a response to the Ombudsman’s services. I agree with the Ombudsman’s concerns and criticisms, because excessive delays in responding to the Ombudsman, no matter what the case may be, constitutes a violation of the duty of sincere cooperation, as envisaged in the Treaty of Lisbon.

This failure to respond is, in fact, an obstruction of the Ombudsman’s work, and for this reason I agree that deadlines must be set for the Commission to respond. These must be scrupulously met, so as not to jeopardise public confidence in the European institutions.

 
  
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  Paulo Rangel (PPE ), in writing. (PT) This special report by the Ombudsman follows a complaint submitted about the Commission’s refusal to disclose three letters sent by Porsche AG to the Commissioner, Mr Verheugen, and the Commission’s subsequent six extensions of the deadline for submitting its detailed opinion on the Ombudsman’s draft recommendation. It is crucial that there is not a repeat of situations like this. The EU institutions have a duty to cooperate with one another in good faith in their relations, and it is vital that this obligation is heeded in order to safeguard public confidence in the European institutional players.

 
  
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  Crescenzio Rivellini (PPE ), in writing. (IT) Today, we voted in plenary on the special report by the European Ombudsman following his draft recommendation to the European Commission on complaint 676/2008/RT.

In March 2007, a non-governmental organisation acting in the field of environmental protection asked for access to certain documents under Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001 regarding public access to European Parliament, Council and Commission documents.

The European Parliament, on behalf of the Committee on Petitions, endorses the European Ombudsman’s critical remarks and his recommendation to the Commission in relation to complaint 676/2008/RT, and recognises that the excessive delays in responding to the Ombudsman in this case constitute a breach of the Commission’s duty of sincere cooperation as envisaged in the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.

Furthermore, the Committee on Petitions is of the view that the Commission’s uncooperative attitude in this and other cases of access to documents risks undermining citizens’ trust in the Commission and eroding the ability of the European Ombudsman and the European Parliament to adequately and effectively supervise the Commission.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE ), in writing. (ES) Special reports are the last resort for the European Ombudsman. The European Ombudsman’s decisions are not legally binding, and are therefore based on persuasion and his ability to convince through a reasoned argument and, from time to time, on publicity and the weight of public opinion. The small number of special reports that the European Ombudsman has had to present to Parliament (17 since 1995) is proof of the cooperation that exists between the EU institutions in the vast majority of cases. Part of the context for that cooperation is, however, the power to present a special report to Parliament. Especially when a draft recommendation is being drawn up, the knowledge that the next step could be a special report often helps to encourage the institution or body concerned to change its position. Special reports should therefore only be presented for important issues, when Parliament can help to encourage the institution or body concerned to change its position. As a political body, Parliament has the power to deal with special reports by the European Ombudsman, both in terms of procedure and in terms of focus and actions.

 
  
  

Report: Eva Lichtenberger (A7-0291/2010 )

 
  
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  Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D ), in writing. (LT) I voted for this resolution. The Treaty on European Union lays down Member States’ responsibilities in connection with the application of EU law, while the Commission, as guardian of the treaties, is granted competence and responsibility for ensuring that the law is applied correctly. Given the scope of the EU acquis and the size of the EU, citizens, civil society interest groups and companies have many questions and doubts. The EU Pilot programme was launched in 2008 so that the law would be understood and applied correctly. According to it, a confidential on-line database was established for communication between Commission services and Member State authorities, to observe how EU law is being implemented and initiate proceedings. I agree with the opinion expressed in the resolution that this initiative is an appropriate response to the need for cooperation between all institutions of the European Union in the interests of a well functioning, citizen-focused system. I feel that as an institution representing the citizens of the EU, the European Parliament must be given access to this database to enable it to scrutinise the Commission’s discharge of its role as guardian of the treaties.

 
  
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  Vilija Blinkevičiūtė (S&D ), in writing. (LT) I voted for this resolution because in their present form, the Commission’s annual reports ‘on monitoring the application of European Union law’ do not give citizens or the other institutions sufficient information about the true state of application of EU law. In the Commission’s summary of the monitoring of application of Community law, more emphasis is placed on transposition than on actual application. The Commission only makes reference to formal proceedings being opened against Member States that have not transposed EU law into their national legal systems. Citizens and Parliament should therefore be informed when the Commission initiates infringement proceedings in connection with the incorrect or poor transposition of EU law, with details of those infringements also being supplied. Furthermore, the Treaty of Lisbon provides for the possibility for citizens to set the legislative agenda and to help ensure the correct application of, and compliance with, European Union law and the transparency and reliability of the related procedures.

 
  
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  Carlos Coelho (PPE ), in writing. (PT) It is regrettable that several Member States are underestimating the importance of the proper and timely implementation of EU legislation. The poor and delayed transposition and its inadequate implementation and application create legal uncertainty and prevent the public and companies from reaping the benefits of the internal market. In 2008, 55% of the necessary transpositions were delayed, in many cases by two years or more. Although the facts indicate an improvement of 15% this year, we have to bear in mind that there was also a 40% reduction in the number of transpositions to be carried out.

It is unacceptable that in May 2009, there were 22 directives with deadlines that had expired more than two years previously, and for which the transposition had still not been completed by one to five Member States. It is vital to strengthen cooperation between the EU institutions and national authorities, as well as between the Member States’ administrations, in order to ensure better, more effective and more timely implementation of EU legislation, along with detecting any problems with implementation at an early stage.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE ), in writing. (PT) Given that the European Union is a legal entity based on treaties and legislative acts, it is vital that these are properly implemented in a uniform way across the 27 Member States. However, we know that Member States frequently fail to promptly implement or transpose standards from EU law, or they implement or transpose them in a defective or incomplete way. As the Committee on Internal Market and Consumer Protection stresses, ‘poor and late transposition and inadequate implementation and enforcement of rules result in legal uncertainty and prevent citizens and businesses from enjoying the benefits of the internal market to the full’. It is therefore vital that the Member States do not underestimate the value of implementing EU law properly and promptly, and that the Commission keeps Parliament duly informed of the state of the application of EU law.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE ), in writing. (PT) Poor and late transposition and inadequate implementation and enforcement of rules result in legal uncertainty and prevent citizens and businesses from enjoying the benefits of the internal market to the full. It is therefore vital that there is closer and permanent cooperation between the EU institutions and national authorities, as well as between the Member States’ administrations, in order to ensure the correct, effective and timely implementation of EU legislation. To this end, it is crucial that Parliament and the national parliaments make use of the new framework for cooperation established by the Treaty of Lisbon and carry out annual reviews of the implementation process in a selected area of the single market.

I would like to highlight the paragraph in this report that calls upon the Commission to produce detailed data on all types of infringement and to make all these data freely available to Parliament to enable it to perform its role of scrutiny. The collation and categorisation of such data should be consistent with previous annual reports in order to assist Parliament in making meaningful assessments of the progress being made by the Commission.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D ), in writing. – I voted for this report. It evaluates the Commission’s monitoring of the application of European Union law in 2008. It focuses its analysis on the report from the Commission entitled ‘EU Pilot Evaluation Report’, in which the Commission proposes an evaluation of the performance of the ‘EU Pilot’ project after its 22 months of operation. The Committee raises some key questions on the functioning of the EU Pilot and on the role of citizens in ensuring compliance with Union law on the ground and asks the Commission to provide relevant data to enable an analysis of the value the EU Pilot adds to the existing infringement process. The Committee also suggests calling on the Commission to propose a ‘procedural code’ on the infringement procedure under the new legal basis of Article 298 TFEU, in order to enforce citizens’ rights and transparency.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE ), in writing. (PT) The annual reports on monitoring the application of European Union law are essential for assessing how EU law is being implemented by the Member States. In 2008, 55% of the necessary transpositions were delayed, in many cases by two years or more. Although the facts indicate an improvement of 15% this year, we have to bear in mind that there was also a 40% reduction in the number of transpositions to be carried out. We can therefore conclude that there is still a long way to go before the standards set out in EU law are properly and promptly transposed by the Member States. It will only be possible for citizens and businesses to enjoy the full benefits of the internal market once this aim is realised.

 
  
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  Andreas Mölzer (NI ), in writing. (DE) Evaluations are a means, where necessary, of making adjustments. The EU Pilot Evaluation Report raised a number of questions in the committee responsible, which is why the European Commission has been called on to make available the relevant data. We need to examine the question of what is more sensible in particular cases: the EU Pilot or the previous treaty infringement proceedings. In this connection, the possibility of a revision of the treaty infringement proceedings should not be disregarded either. What is important is that, irrespective of what form, revision or combination thereof is chosen for the future, it should not result in more bureaucracy and, in particular, it should meet the EU objective of greater transparency. Although this report contains some good proposals, it cannot fulfil the specified aims. For this reason, I have abstained from voting.

 
  
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  Georgios Papanikolaou (PPE ), in writing. (EL) I voted today in favour of the report on monitoring the application of European Union law. The report focuses on the efficacy of the EU Pilot project to foster cooperation between the Commission and the Member States with a view to guaranteeing the proper application of the treaties.

The report highlights the need to adopt a procedural code in the form of a regulation designed to improve transparency and the defence of citizens’ rights, which sets out the basic points of infringement proceedings, such as notification, deadlines, the right to a hearing and need for statements of reasons. As the guardian of the treaties, the Commission will be required henceforth to provide all information which illustrates any added value offered by the EU Pilot project in the procedure to handle infringement proceedings.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE ), in writing. (PT) The aim of the 26th Annual Report on Monitoring the Application of European Union Law (2008) is to shed light on problems in the application and transposition of EU law. This is a document which, if properly prepared based on a comprehensive, systematic approach, could act as a mechanism for monitoring and streamlining the evolution of EU law.

The annual report’s lack of new methods and incomplete information have provoked criticism from Parliament, which I am supporting by voting in favour of the Lichtenberger report.

I must, however, stress that, besides causing a lack of confidence in the European institutions, the delays in the proper application and transposition of EU law affect all of us Europeans and have the knock-on effects of not allowing us to enjoy the rights created by legislation, creating legal uncertainly and preventing the public from fully benefiting from the internal market. I therefore support the desire to ensure that the Commission continues to produce detailed data on all types of infringement and that all these data are made freely available to Parliament, so as to enable it to perform its role of scrutiny of the Commission’s discharge of its duties as guardian of the treaties.

 
  
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  Paulo Rangel (PPE ), in writing. (PT) I believe that an evaluation should be carried out of the value added by EU Pilot to the existing procedure for managing cases of infringement. The provision of relevant data depends on that, of course. I would also like to point out that, as is mentioned in the report, national courts play a vital role in applying European Union law. It is therefore necessary to support the EU’s efforts to enhance and coordinate judicial training for national judges and legal professionals in general.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE ), in writing. (ES) This report evaluates the Commission’s monitoring of the application of European Union law in 2008. It focuses its analysis on the ‘EU Pilot Evaluation Report’, in which the Commission proposes conducting an assessment of the achievements of the EU Pilot project 22 months after its implementation. The Committee raises a series of important questions regarding the functioning of the EU Pilot project and the role of citizens in guaranteeing respect for EU law on the ground, and asks the Commission to provide relevant information so that an analysis can be conducted of the added value of EU Pilot in relation to current infringement procedures. The Committee also suggests calling on the Commission to propose a ‘procedural code’ for the infringement procedure based on the new legal basis provided by Article 298 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union to strengthen citizens rights and transparency.

 
  
  

Report: Ivo Belet (A7-0286/2010 )

 
  
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  Sophie Auconie (PPE ), in writing. (FR) European audiovisual practices have resulted in a pluralist media model built around a dual system. This unique system allows public service broadcasters and commercial operators to function in a balanced and mutually complementary relationship. The digital revolution has created new challenges within this dual system. The emergence of new communication channels and alternative networks is threatening the old order. In order to maintain the complementary nature of the old system and make way for new modes of communication, we need to reform European broadcasting. This is the purpose of the resolution for which I have voted: it seeks to address the threefold challenge of modernisation, convergence and respect for pluralism.

 
  
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  Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D ), in writing. (LT) Broadcast media are among the most important sources of information available to citizens in EU Member States and, as such, are an important factor in shaping people’s values and opinions. The EU audiovisual landscape is unique. Based on a true balance between public service and commercial broadcasters, it ensures a diverse range of freely accessible programming and contributes to media pluralism, cultural and linguistic diversity, editorial competition and freedom of expression. I voted for this resolution because the European Parliament supports the aim to maintain strong and vibrant independent public service broadcasting, whilst adapting it to the requirements of the digital age and making it easier for consumers to switch from analogue to digital television. I feel that the Member States should better address the digital divide and ensure that, with digitisation, all individuals in all regions have equal access to public service broadcasting.

 
  
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  Maria Da Graça Carvalho (PPE ), in writing. (PT) Broadcast media are among the most important sources of information available to citizens in EU Member States. As such, they are an important factor in shaping people’s values and opinions. A balanced European system plays a fundamental role in promoting democracy, social cohesion and integration and freedom of expression, with an emphasis on preserving and promoting media pluralism, media literacy, cultural and linguistic diversity and compliance with European standards relating to press freedom.

The Commission should adapt copyright to the new digital era, allowing broadcasters to continue to provide a wide range of good quality European content, and to consider specific ways of facilitating the re-use of archive content and putting in place extended collective licensing systems and easy, one-stop-shop systems for the clearance of rights.

 
  
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  Carlos Coelho (PPE ), in writing. (PT) In a democratic European society, it is vital that citizens have access to information and are able to participate in public debate. The existence of an independent and competitive audiovisual and written press sector is fundamental. In the current situation facing the EU audiovisual sector, it is in the public interest to safeguard what has been described as the ‘dual system’ and ensure that there is a genuine balance between public service and private-sector broadcasters. That is the only way we can ensure that there is a sufficiently diverse range of programming, and thus contribute to media pluralism, cultural and linguistic diversity, editorial competitiveness within the media and freedom of expression.

Having a strong, viable public broadcasting system that is free from political pressure or loss of editorial independence, and which benefits from sufficient funding, is vital. However, care should always be taken to avoid jeopardising fair competition with other commercial players. The EU’s role is to try to bring the different stakeholders in the media sector together with the aim of maintaining a healthy, viable industry. I believe that the implementation of the mechanism for monitoring media pluralism can play a vital role in this.

 
  
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  Lara Comi (PPE ), in writing. (IT) I am not old enough to remember the time when broadcasting was a state monopoly and, to be perfectly sincere, I do not miss it.

Despite the fact that the huge barriers to entry end up restricting access to the market for new players, and although competition in that sector is therefore always limited for structural reasons, I personally have witnessed a marked change in competitiveness in television broadcasting.

Having said that, I do not believe a wholly public system is even conceivable, as it would end up further stifling the drive for efficiency caused by having competitors, to the consumers’ disadvantage. On the other hand, a purely commercial television system might not have any interest in pursuing objectives of general interest or broadcasting educational programmes, which are not always profitable in terms of audience figures, but which are, by their very nature, necessary. The dual system therefore needs to be kept, provided there are rules to allow free, healthy competition, and provided there are checks to prevent any collusion between the public and private broadcasting companies, while respecting editorial decisions but bearing in mind the social function that broadcasting services must perform.

 
  
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  Vasilica Viorica Dăncilă (S&D ), in writing. (RO) Public service broadcasting must retain its independence from politics and have sufficient financing to provide good quality information programmes, offering increased accessibility to all citizens in every area of the relevant country. At the same time, I think that implementation of new technologies will help produce good quality programmes aimed at every audience group. There should be an increased focus on young people, who are always at the forefront of new technologies, which is why programmes are required that are specifically targeted at them, including via the Internet.

 
  
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  Marielle De Sarnez (ALDE ), in writing. (FR) The European Union regularly calls for freedom of expression to be respected in various third counties, but also needs to practise what it preaches. The resolution adopted on 25 November by a large majority calls on Member States to put an end to political interference in public broadcast content and recalls that compliance with European standards on the freedom of expression, on media pluralism and independence, and on funding for public service media, should be a priority for all Member States. Parliament proposes that the European Audiovisual Observatory should assess how Member States have applied these standards and demands that the Member States be held accountable if they fail to ‘live up to’ their commitments. Parliament has also taken this vote as an opportunity to highlight the need for appropriate and stable funding in order for public service media to remain independent, and for transparent ownership of private broadcasters. Lastly, Member States are invited to adopt legislation on public service broadcasting online by amending copyright law to reflect the realities of the new digital era.

 
  
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  Edite Estrela (S&D ), in writing. (PT) I voted in favour of this report as it advocates the need for society’s public and private sector media to carry out their respective functions free of political and economic pressure. The dual European system could play a key role in promoting democracy and freedom of expression, and preserving and promoting media pluralism, as well as cultural and linguistic diversity.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE ), in writing. (PT) The importance of ensuring the pluralism of broadcast media is due to the pivotal role that such media play in our society in terms of information and pluralism, as well as the promotion of rights, freedoms and guarantees, which clearly contribute to a more informed and participatory society. It is therefore of paramount importance to ensure that these services have financial and editorial autonomy, and that they are prevented from becoming politicised or making concessions to economic interests. In Portugal, there have recently been reports of possible government interference in the field of news, including the replacement of the editor of a daily newspaper and the head of news at a radio station, along with the sudden cancellation of a commercial channel’s news programme and the replacing of its director-general. There have also been several incidents where columnists who were critical have been removed, and an alleged plan for a company in which the state holds a golden share to acquire a stake in a media company that owns a private channel. In view of this, it is vital to give precedence to a dual EU system that ensures independence at all levels and which safeguards freedom of expression in both public and private sector broadcasting services, given that the latter are not immune to political interference.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE ), in writing. (PT) The EU audiovisual landscape is characterised by what is described as a ‘dual system’. The coexistence of public service and commercial broadcasters has ensured a very diverse range of programming. This has contributed to media pluralism, cultural and linguistic diversity, editorial competition (in terms of content quality and diversity) within the media, and freedom of expression. I would like to highlight the need for the Member States to address the digital divide between urban and rural zones and to ensure that, with digitisation, all individuals in all regions have equal access to public service broadcasting, along with offering attractive, quality content to appeal to young people who access the media.

 
  
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  Cătălin Sorin Ivan (S&D ), in writing. (RO) The main message which we wanted to convey with this report is that we need to keep public service broadcasting independent. We insisted in the additions made to the draft report on the need to make appointments to management boards based only on competence and not on political bias.

In addition, we have endeavoured to make as clear as possible our wish not only for public stations with high quality, attractive content, but also for the integration of new platforms, taking into account the latest technologies. One point which we insisted on was investment in public service broadcasting, without which it is impossible to operate to high standards.

 
  
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  Timothy Kirkhope (ECR ), on behalf of the British Conservative delegation, in writing. – The British Conservative delegation supported this report because it recognised that under the ‘Amsterdam Protocol’, it is the exclusive competence of Member States to define the public service remit and to provide funding of public sector broadcasters. This is of importance to the UK because of the unique method of funding of the BBC and we welcome this confirmation that the European Parliament will not try to intrude into the funding methods used in the UK to fund the BBC.

There were two issues that the UK delegation could not support in this report: the call for search engines and Internet service providers to provide funding for the financing of content creation on the Internet and the call for a European Audiovisual Observatory to gather data on national public sector broadcasters. The UK delegation therefore requested separate votes on these paragraphs and voted against them. However, overall, the report is a balanced approach to this subject and for this reason, the British Conservative delegation supported this report.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D ), in writing. – I welcome this resolution, which reaffirms Parliament’s commitment to the dual broadcasting system, in which private and public service media play their respective roles, independent of political and economic pressure, and calls for access to broadcasting of the highest level to be ensured irrespective of consumers’ and users’ ability to pay.

 
  
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  Jean-Luc Mélenchon (GUE/NGL ), in writing. (FR) It is rare in this Chamber to see a public service being defended. While I have reservations about the idea that a dual system necessarily allows for media pluralism, and while I believe it is impossible to separate private media from financial concerns, I would like to praise a report which advocates the maintenance of public service broadcasting. Only public service broadcasting can be controlled by the sovereign population and can allow everyone access to pluralistic information of a high quality, something which is not true in France today, nor in several countries which are dominated by an oligarchy.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE ), in writing. (PT) We have all witnessed a certain amount of political interference throughout the EU in services offered by both public service and private sector broadcasters. Just recently in Portugal, there have been various curious situations where news programmes have been suspended, and news anchors and heads of television stations have been replaced without any apparent plausible reason, suggesting that this is taking place on political orders.

Although it is worth being aware that public service broadcasting is more prone to this kind of pressure, the private sector is not immune to it, as its revenues often depend on selling advertising space to the state sector. The public has a right to public service or private sector broadcasting which is independent and takes an objective approach to all content. In view of this, I am convinced that the dual European system will play a key role in promoting democracy and freedom of expression, and preserving and promoting media pluralism, as well as cultural and linguistic diversity.

 
  
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  Andreas Mölzer (NI ), in writing. (DE) Information is gold. In order to provide citizens with objective information and to fulfil the task of educating, we have public service broadcasters in the area of television and media. In return for broadcasting high quality programmes, these broadcasters have a right to funding from fees. Broadcasting represents the main source of information for citizens. Some public service broadcasters have rather successfully changed their programmes as a result of competition from private broadcasters. The best example of this is the British broadcaster, the BBC. Others, like the Austrian ORF, are not only suffering as a result of falling viewing figures; they also cannot genuinely fulfil the requirement for impartiality and objectivity due to their party political influences. In addition, private broadcasters have started a debate as to whether broadcasting fees are, in fact, legitimate at all, as public service broadcasters also, of course, profit from advertising income. As the organisation and the framework conditions are different from one Member State to the next, no standardising decision can be taken at EU level. I have therefore abstained from the vote.

 
  
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  Justas Vincas Paleckis (S&D ), in writing. (LT) Free and independent media are one of the main pillars of democracy. I voted for this report because I agree with the opinion that public service broadcasters unfettered by political pressure and commercial interests are a particularly important part of this system. However, current tendencies are not encouraging. In some countries, public service broadcasters face ever-increasing political pressure and broadcaster funding is becoming dependent on the goodwill of the political party that has come to power. Elsewhere, business structures are having an ever increasing impact on broadcasters. I agree with the view that culture and the media will always lie within the competence of the Member States. However, I feel that EU institutions could also play a significant role. They could help to exchange examples of good practice and, in certain cases, could also publicise and condemn malpractice. During the economic crisis, public service broadcasters should better exploit the opportunity to obtain soft loans from the European Investment Bank which would help to modernise infrastructure and would raise the level of public service broadcasters, thus helping them to adapt to the challenges of the 21st century.

 
  
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  Alfredo Pallone (PPE ), in writing. (IT) I voted in favour of Mr Belet’s report on public service broadcasting. Europe has now entered the digital age, and the institutions must guarantee balance in the dual system that has been established between private sector and public service broadcasters. The entire system should be based on listening figures for radio and television broadcasters, which are capable of influencing public opinion as a whole. Adjusting EU funding for the public service broadcasting system of Member States is essential because it is directly connected to the democratic, social and cultural needs of every society, as well as to the need to preserve the pluralism of the media and guarantee diversified information and free expression. Since this topic is the responsibility of the national authorities of the individual Member States, the EU hopes that greater incentives will be given to public service broadcasters with the aim of relaunching a service that, in many countries, suffers under the weight of politics and information control, and of preventing imbalance with private sector competition that is, at times, unfair.

 
  
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  Georgios Papanikolaou (PPE ), in writing. (EL) Pluralism in the media can only be safeguarded by ensuring that private and public media can coexist without obstruction or discrimination. However, in order to achieve this objective, two preconditions need to be met. Firstly, we need to ensure that both public and private media carriers catch up with the digital age, by modernising their services without – and this is important – increasing the cost to consumers and, secondly, that viable space is safeguarded in the new digital environment for the coexistence of radio and television with other sources of information, such as journals and newspapers, especially now that print media are in complete recession throughout Europe. In other words, we need adequate funding and national planning in the Member States.

The EU can and must demonstrate that it supports these parameters, both via funding, such as from the Investment Fund for the digitisation of the media, and by coordinating exchanges of best practices in the procedure to digitise radio and televisions between the Member States. I think that these points are well highlighted in this particular report, which is why I voted in favour of it.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE ), in writing. (PT) I voted in favour of the resolution on public service broadcasting in the digital era: the future of the dual system, as I believe that the role of public service television in a multimedia society has to take account of the concentration and pluralism of the media in the European Union, media literacy in a digital world, diversity of media content and the guarantee of independence for public service broadcasting in the information society.

In fact, the dual broadcasting system, in which private and public service media play their respective roles independent of political and economic pressure, is vital for ensuring access to information of the highest quality and for promoting democracy itself. Public service and private sector broadcasting have a crucial role to play with regard to European audiovisual production, cultural diversity and identity, information, pluralism, social cohesion, the promotion of fundamental freedoms and the functioning of democracy.

I support the recommendations made, with the emphasis on the incentive for the exchange of best practices between Member States and greater cooperation between national media regulators within the European Platform of Regulatory Authorities (EPRA).

 
  
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  Paulo Rangel (PPE ), in writing. (PT) I believe it is crucial for the EU to bring together the different players and stakeholders in the media sector with the aim of moving towards the creation of a healthy and economically viable industry. The rapid changes in the media, particularly the digital media, will make it necessary to find new solutions and will inevitably lead to the definition of a ‘new media ecology’.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE ), in writing. (ES) Broadcasting is a special sector. It influences people’s values and opinions and continues to be the main source of information for the majority of EU citizens. It therefore has special significance for the protection and promotion of fundamental values and democracy, including social cohesion. As the Audiovisual Media Services Directive points out, the EU’s audiovisual scene is characterised by what has been described as ‘the dual system’. The coexistence of public and commercial broadcasting bodies has ensured that we have a broad range of programming. It also contributes to pluralism in the media, cultural and linguistic diversity, editorial competition (in terms of quality and diversity of content) and freedom of expression. This is partly achieved through a strong, viable public broadcasting service with adequate funding. In a dual system that works well, public broadcasting bodies can raise the level of the market.

 
  
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  Marie-Thérèse Sanchez-Schmid (PPE ), in writing. (FR) Broadcasting is in the middle of a technological upheaval: the digitisation of media content and its accessibility, thanks to the Internet, have revolutionised the broadcasting paradigm. In the 1970s, commercial and private players struggled to obtain broadcasting frequencies in the face of state monopolies. Today, the large number of opportunities available to consumers for accessing multimedia content means that we need to define the necessary balance between public service and private media. What do we advocate in this report? Public service broadcasting needs particular attention, given the concentration of media ownership and commercial competition, if it is to contribute, without political interference, to maintaining a public space which provides high quality programmes and objective information. We ask the Member States to provide sufficient resources to support the digitisation of public service broadcasting and, above all, to combat a dangerous digital divide.

Whether they are in rural or in urban areas, and whether they are poor or well-off, everyone must have equal and high quality access to public service broadcasting. Finally, in view of the inequalities of revenue between giants such as Google and the sites they list, we must think about search engines making more of a contribution to financing content creation.

 
  
  

Motion for a resolution (B7-0624/2010 )

 
  
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  Sophie Auconie (PPE ), in writing. (FR) United Nations Security Council resolution 1325 on women, peace and security is not the first resolution on these issues that the Council has adopted in its time. Nevertheless, it should be viewed as a seminal moment for gender mainstreaming, as women are now taken into account in security and peacekeeping operations. To commemorate the 10th anniversary of the text’s adoption, which coincides with the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, my fellow Members and I have sought to express the European Parliament’s commitment to promoting the objectives set out in the resolution, primarily through actions taken by the European Union. Through the EU’s common security and defence policy, the new European External Action Service, and in partnership with other international strategic cooperation bodies, we want to improve the situation of women in serious conflict zones.

 
  
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  Vilija Blinkevičiūtė (S&D ), in writing. (LT) I voted for this resolution because great attention must be paid to women’s security when deploying peacekeeping missions and during armed conflicts. I would like to stress that there should be an ongoing review of the EU’s human rights policy when it comes to the elaboration of a comprehensive human rights country strategy and to the evaluation of the EU guidelines on violence against women and girls and those EU guidelines concerning children and armed conflict, as well as combating all forms of discrimination against them. It should be noted that when part of a widespread and systematic practice, rape and sexual slavery are recognised under the Geneva Convention as crimes against humanity and war crimes.

Furthermore, rape is also now recognised as an element of the crime of genocide when committed with the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a targeted group. Therefore, the EU should take concrete action to end impunity for perpetrators of sexual violence against women and children. Furthermore, there is a need to establish a code of conduct for the EU’s personnel serving in military and civil missions which illustrates sexual exploitation as unjustifiable and criminal behaviour.

 
  
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  Maria Da Graça Carvalho (PPE ), in writing. (PT) Women, peace and security are areas which should be given the utmost attention. The 10th anniversary of UN Security Council resolution 1325 is an opportunity to make progress in these areas, as are all the ongoing reviews of EU policies, particularly on human rights and combating violence against women, the use of children in armed conflicts and the fight against all forms of discrimination. In addition, another aspect that I see as relevant in this report is the fact that it calls for the promotion of women’s participation in reconciliation processes, peace building and conflict prevention, which is another reason for my vote in favour of its adoption.

 
  
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  David Casa (PPE ), in writing. – The treatment and safety of women and children in areas of armed conflict around the EU is a matter of growing concern. It is vital that everything possible is done in order to limit the consequences resulting from such a state of affairs in these regions. It is for this reason that I have decided to support the motion for resolution.

 
  
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  Nikolaos Chountis (GUE/NGL ), in writing. (EL) I voted against the joint motion on the 10th anniversary of UN Security Council resolution 1325 on women in peace and security because it has a distorted view of gender equality. In my opinion, equality is not achieved by having women in military organisations or international police forces. Likewise, the security of women, within the meaning of UN resolution 1325, is safeguarded by permanent jobs to prevent conflicts using civilian and peaceful means, not by military intervention. On the contrary, this particular resolution calls for more women to be employed in police and military missions and for the EU to deploy more women officers and soldiers in CSDP missions. Another reason why I voted against the resolution was because the amendments tabled by the Confederal Group of the European United Left – Nordic Green Left deleting these calls and asking for more women to be involved in EUPOL and EUSEC and for a stronger female presence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo were rejected.

 
  
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  Carlos Coelho (PPE ), in writing. (PT) We are currently celebrating the 10th anniversary of this first UN resolution on the unique and disproportionate impact of armed conflict on women. I hope that the EU makes the most of this occasion to send a strong political signal and strengthen efforts towards its implementation, whether through political guidelines or through an increase in financial resources. I also hope that the ongoing review of EU human rights policy will lead to the elaboration of a consistent strategy in terms of human rights, as well as an assessment of EU guidelines on violence against women and girls and on the situation of children in armed conflict, with the aim of combating all forms of violence and discrimination.

I believe that the establishment of the European External Action Service will contribute to better implementation of these resolutions, while it should also highlight the role of the EU in this field. I would like to congratulate the 10 Member States, including Portugal, which have already adopted a national action plan to implement this resolution, and I hope that the remaining Member States will follow this example as soon as possible.

 
  
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  Lara Comi (PPE ), in writing. (IT) I find it surprising that the United Nations Security Council first took an interest in the particular situation of women in war zones only 10 years ago. However, we now need to take stock of the results achieved and carry on in the same direction. The European Union is sensitive enough to take such topics into consideration. In particular, the time has come to go a step further and recognise that women suffer different traumas and also experience certain situations and suffer certain constraints rather more intensely than men do on average. I therefore give this resolution my full support, because anyone who intends to bring peace to conflict zones must first find serenity at a personal level. To that end, differentiating the target is the best way to make more efficient use of resources, a goal that we have to pursue, especially if the result is a woman’s sincere and gracious smile.

 
  
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  Corina Creţu (S&D ), in writing. (RO) Unfortunately, all the assertive efforts undertaken – the resolutions and national and international plans for improving the level of protection for women in conflict zones – have failed to eliminate this barbaric weapon which is frequently resorted to in modern warfare: sexual violence. On the contrary, impunity provides conditions conducive to the spread of this practice which is diametrically opposed to our values.

I have repeatedly spoken out, along with others, against the acts of mass rape perpetrated in the Congo, Liberia and other conflict zones, especially in Africa. The most serious problem is that incidents have been reported where atrocities have been committed a stone’s throw away from the bases of UN forces. The thousands of women falling victim to sexual abuse and violence are also being condemned to bear in the future the social stigma and burden of terrible diseases, such as HIV. The European Union must step up its actions to combat these serious human rights violations so that UN resolutions mean more than just a piece of paper.

The International Day against Violence against Women, which we mark on 25 November, must also remind us that women are victims of domestic violence, which is occurring with alarming frequency, marital rape, sexual harassment and human trafficking.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE ), in writing. (PT) When we think of armed conflict and most traditional war scenarios, we imagine men as the main victims. However, unfortunately, the fact is that everywhere in the world where there is armed conflict and threats to peace, women and children are often the first and most numerous, albeit silent, victims. Women face countless threats, whether from the practice of barbarous customs that violate their rights in the context of war and conflict, or in the context of poverty and social exclusion. It is therefore crucial that Europe does not forget about women who suffer daily violations of their most basic rights such as life and physical wellbeing, women who are sentenced to death by stoning, women who are denied access to education, women who are forced to flee and live as refugees in order to exercise the liberty that the Charter of Fundamental Rights confers upon us all, and women who are discriminated against purely because of their gender. In essence, it is vital that Europe does not forget or turn its back on all the women who are not already ensured a future of freedom and hope.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE ), in writing. (PT) Violence against women in conflict zones is often an extension of the gender-based discrimination that unfortunately still exists in peacetime. I voted in favour of this report as I agree with the need for financial and human resources to be allocated with a view to the participation of women and gender mainstreaming in the field of foreign and security policy. I would like to highlight the need for the establishment of adequate public complaint procedures in the context of common security and defence policy (CSDP) missions aimed at facilitating, in particular, the condemnation of sexual and gender-based violence, and the call for the High Representative/Vice-President of the Commission to include detailed reporting on women, peace and security in the six-monthly evaluation of CSDP missions.

 
  
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  Ilda Figueiredo (GUE/NGL ), in writing. (PT) We voted against this resolution as we believe that having a gender perspective in civilian and military missions is not enough. The problem of discrimination against women will not be solved or wars made more just by involving more women in military missions for intervention in wars and occupations such as in Iraq and Afghanistan. Reality shows us that this is not the case.

We believe that military interventions do not help to protect the rights of women, but rather increase violations of these rights. Only the prevention of conflicts and the implementation of civilian measures in conflict situations are capable of fulfilling the promise made in UN Security Council resolution 1325.

We are therefore disappointed that the proposed amendments that we tabled were not adopted.

 
  
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  Giovanni La Via (PPE ), in writing. (IT) Today is 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. With today’s vote on the joint motion for a resolution on the 10th anniversary of UN Security Council resolution 1325 (2000) on women, peace and security, we wish to give a tangible sign of our commitment as MEPs but, above all, as European citizens. It is only right that we remember this 10th anniversary, lest we forget that 80% of war victims are civilians, above all, women and children. The topic of fundamental human rights and the extension of their protection must always be central to European debate in order to enable us to develop common and effective strategies to protect women and children alike. We increasingly see acts of violence being committed against these categories of people, but as well as striving to ensure that the perpetrators of these crimes are personally held to account, after the judicial authorities have intervened, we must apply certain essential conditions to ensure that the phenomenon is minimised as far as possible, with the aim of preventing conflicts and contributing to the reconstruction of areas that have been affected by them.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D ), in writing. – I voted for this resolution which calls for the allocation of specific and significant financial, human and organisational resources regarding the participation of women and gender mainstreaming in the field of foreign and security policy; calls for more women to be deployed in police, military and justice and rule-of-law missions and in peacekeeping operations, as well as in diplomatic mission and democracy building efforts; calls on EU Members States to actively promote women participation in their bilateral and multilateral relations with states and organisations outside the EU;

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE ), in writing. (PT) Although we are commemorating the 10th anniversary of UN Security Council resolution 1325 on women, peace and security, much remains to be done in this area, especially with regard to violence against women, EU guidelines on the use of children in armed conflicts and combating all forms of discrimination against them. This is the time for us all to join forces to ensure that we achieve this purpose.

 
  
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  Willy Meyer (GUE/NGL ), in writing. (ES) While I agree with many of the points included in this resolution, especially the need to make progress on the gender focus in development cooperation, I voted against it as I oppose the increase in the number of police officers or soldiers, whether they be men or women, due to the advance that this represents in the EU wave of militarisation. The resolution ‘Stresses that it is important that the EU should appoint more female police officers and soldiers to CSDP missions’, which is contrary to my group’s support for demilitarising the common security and defence policy. Moreover, it makes constant reference to the European External Action Service, to which I have repeatedly expressed my opposition as it is a further step in the escalation of the militarisation of the European foreign policy.

 
  
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  Louis Michel (ALDE ), in writing. (FR) Although resolution no 1325 of 31 October 2000 shows that the UN Member States had become aware of the impact of armed conflicts on women, the violence that they endure during wars and the important role that they could play in preventing and resolving conflicts, the 10th anniversary of the resolution, which we are celebrating today, is also an opportunity to take stock. In this regard, we can cite resolution nos 1820 (2008) and 1888 (2009), which, for the first time, explicitly acknowledged the use of sexual violence as a war tactic, something which calls for specific political and security responses.

We can also cite Mrs Wallström’s nomination to the post of Special Representative on issues of ‘sexual violence affecting women and girls in armed conflicts’. This serious problem deserves all of our attention. This is why, as co-president of the JPA, I personally wanted her to be at the centre of our debates during the plenary session of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly that takes place in Kinshasa on 2 December.

 
  
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  Andreas Mölzer (NI ), in writing. (DE) Women continue to be discriminated against in many countries of the world. Violence against women is on the agenda, and this is particularly dramatic in conflict situations. Studies reveal that women in crisis regions where there are military conflicts are often raped and/or subjected to sexual slavery. It should be a prime objective to punish sexual violence towards women as crimes against humanity, including in war-torn regions of the world. After all – and the Western nations also have a responsibility here – sexual exploitation is unjustifiable and criminal behaviour at any time. The report addresses important issues and I therefore voted in favour of it.

 
  
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  Alfredo Pallone (PPE ), in writing. (IT) Violence against women in conflict zones is often an extension of gender discrimination; also considering that this year, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women coincides with the 10th anniversary of UN Security Council resolution 1325, this could and/or should mark the start of a reinvigorated agenda for the implementation of that resolution, which cannot be advanced without political leadership at the highest levels and increased resources. I believe that this issue should be duly addressed in the ongoing review of the EU’s human rights policy, through the allocation of specific financial, human and organisational resources for the participation of women and gender mainstreaming. I consider this occasion to be the starting point for targeted action to reinforce, strengthen and develop the integration of women. The issue of women, peace and security should become an integral part of the planning and programming of the external financial instruments for democracy and human rights, cooperation and development between peoples.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE ), in writing. (PT) It is 10 years since the adoption of UN Security Council (UNSC) resolutions 1325 (2000) and 1820 (2008) on women, peace and security, and UNSC resolution 1888 (2009) on sexual violence against women and children in situations of armed conflict. These resolutions emphasise the responsibility of all states to end impunity and prosecute those responsible for crimes against humanity and war crimes, including those involving acts of sexual violence and other crimes against women and girls.

Ten years have passed since the adoption of the aforementioned resolutions and, as outlined in the resolution that I voted for, there is still a long way to go. The International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, which was held on 25 November, the same day as the vote on this resolution, is not just another day, but a wake-up call about a situation that is still happening. These issues need to be handled at the highest level and remain on the political agenda until this scourge that knows no race, creed or age is eradicated.

 
  
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  Rovana Plumb (S&D ), in writing. (RO) UN Security Council resolution 1325, adopted on 31 October 2000, stipulates that, through the course of history, women have not been involved in the process of establishing peace and stability in any nation and calls for the equal involvement of women at every level, from conflict prevention to post-conflict reconstruction and the maintenance of peace and security. The 10th anniversary of the resolution’s adoption should mark the start of a new agenda which will be introduced and cannot be implemented without political support at the highest level and the necessary resources. The EU must actively promote the appointment of as many women as possible in management positions to coordinate and ensure consistency in the EU’s policies and actions and to monitor the fulfilment of its commitments.

The EU must appoint at least five women to management positions in the European External Action Service and comply with the gender balance in terms of specialists employed. At the same time, the EEAS requires an organisational unit which will be responsible for gender issues, with at least one full-time post in each geographical department and EU delegation devoted to gender aspects, with responsibility for women, peace and security.

 
  
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  Paulo Rangel (PPE ), in writing. (PT) I hope that the 10th anniversary of UN Security Council resolution 1325 will mark the beginning of a reinvigorated agenda for implementing its commitments on women, peace and security.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE ), in writing. (ES) I am pleased that this resolution has been adopted. It points out that the 10th anniversary of UN Security Council resolution 1325 (2000) should mark the start of an enhanced agenda for the application of the resolution, which will not move forward without high-level political leadership and an increase in available resources. It strongly recommends that this issue be duly tackled during the current review of EU human rights policy in order to draw up an overall strategy on human rights for each country and evaluate the EU guidelines on violence against women and children and on children and armed conflict and fighting all forms of discrimination against them; and it calls for the allocation of specific and significant financial, human and organisational resources for the participation of women and gender mainstreaming in the field of foreign and security policy.

 
  
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  Charles Tannock (ECR ), in writing. – The ECR is wholeheartedly supportive of equal rights and opportunities and gender non-discrimination for all women, as stated in UN resolution 1325, and strongly advocates the invaluable role of women in the area of peace and security and condemns the barbaric and horrific treatment of women and children in conflict zones.

However, the ECR has consistently been against setting quotas for women within national, regional and international institutions, as well as the establishment of the European External Action Service (EEAS).

 
  
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  Marc Tarabella (S&D ), in writing. (FR) I am very pleased about the adoption of this resolution on the 10th anniversary of UN resolution no 1325 on women, peace and security which, moreover, takes place on the symbolic date of 25 November, International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. I would like to underline the need to boost women’s participation in all fields of activity, particularly in reconciliation, negotiation, construction, enforcement and peacekeeping, as well as conflict prevention. It is essential for all parties present to take the specific needs of women into account, and it is only through an increased presence of women on the ground that we will manage to improve the situation.

Moreover, making women visible on the ground would enable us to make populations more aware of the inhumane nature of the use of rape as a weapon of war, and perhaps to put an end to the impunity enjoyed by perpetrators of such violence.

Finally, this presence will allow us to build mutual trust between civilian victims of conflicts, who are mostly women and children, and actors on the ground.

 
  
  

Motion for a resolution (B7-0622/2010 )

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D ), in writing. (PT) I voted in favour of this resolution because bee mortality is increasing and the number of beekeepers is decreasing. This is a problem for agriculture and biodiversity, as 76% of food production and 84% of plant species are dependent on pollination by bees. I would like to advocate more research in order to help ensure the implementation of better solutions and support for measures to enhance biodiversity and mitigate the effects of climate instability. The life of a worker bee is very short and very sensitive to changes in the environment. This has meant that the production of honey has also been affected, not only by the increasingly uncertain length and stability of the seasons, but also by increasing damage from outside sources, such as pesticide use and mites, amongst other things. The current programmes must therefore be strengthened within the framework of the new common agricultural policy so that we can also find more effective solutions at this level.

 
  
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  Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D ), in writing. (LT) 2010 was declared the European Year of Biodiversity in order to draw attention to the threat to biodiversity throughout the world. The beekeeping sector, which is an important source of employment and income in rural areas, is also at risk due to the recent increase in bee mortality and bee diseases. I voted for this resolution in which the European Parliament calls on the Commission to fund specific studies to improve the knowledge and understanding of factors that affect bee health. The resolution observes that genetically modified crops or the spread of toxins via pollen may affect bee diseases and bee mortality. Given that grain, fruit and vegetable crops in Europe are dependent on pollination by bees, these crops and agriculture in general face a huge risk of various diseases. I feel that faced with such uncertainty, the European Commission must urgently conduct independent research, which would assess the effects of genetically modified crops and the spread of toxins via pollen on the environment and specific species and ensure that such data are made public.

 
  
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  Maria Da Graça Carvalho (PPE ), in writing. (PT) Bees play an important role in the ecological balance, and their demise has serious effects on the food chain. This report advocates the need to promote and improve the beekeeping sector, especially at the level of statistical data for honey production forecasts, the improvement and harmonisation of monitoring and research programmes, clearer rules for the origin labelling of honey, the development of beekeeping programmes and related legislation, and the development of innovative and effective treatments against Varroa mites.

 
  
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  Lara Comi (PPE ), in writing. (IT) The multiplier effect of pollination, meaning the ratio between the economic value of pollination itself and the value of the honey produced as a result of it, leads to exceptional results in economic terms.

Therefore, at a time when all kinds of efficiency are being sought, it does not appear to make sense to give up the activity when the cost/benefit ratio shows how foolish such a decision is. Since the reasons are not to be found in economic factors, but rather in external conditions, I think the Commission’s report hits the mark when it sets out to compare all the factors that currently hamper beekeeping.

I also believe it is worth encouraging this activity through collateral measures, and that any scientific contribution in that respect should be welcomed.

 
  
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  Vasilica Viorica Dăncilă (S&D ), in writing. (RO) I think that the European Commission must adapt the scope and financing of European veterinary policy to take account of the specific nature of bees and beekeeping with a view to ensuring more effective disease control and availability of effective and standardised veterinary medicine throughout the European Union, in collaboration with beekeepers’ organisations.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE ), in writing. (PT) There is severe volatility of prices in the European honey market, because 40% of it currently depends on imports, putting beekeepers across the EU, including the Portuguese, at a competitive disadvantage vis-à-vis honey from third countries. According to official statistics, there are 17 291 beekeepers in Portugal, with 38 203 apiaries and 562 557 colonies. Production in 2009 amounted to 6 654 tonnes of honey and 235 tonnes of wax, which represents 1.9% of the honey produced in the EU, at 351 000 tonnes. The activities of bees and beekeeping are crucial to maintaining ecosystems, the ecological balance of flora and the preservation of biodiversity, as well as being, economically speaking, an activity that it makes sense for Europe to protect and encourage, so that it becomes less dependent on imports.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE ), in writing. (PT) Bees are essential for the pollination of crops, for maintaining the ecological balance, and as a way of preserving biodiversity. The decline in the number of colonies is therefore regrettable, and we need scientific data to enable us to understand the mechanisms that help the spread of this species and develop ways of ensuring its preservation. I believe that it is vital to focus on European honey, which is gradually being replaced by other varieties of poorer quality that do not fulfil the criteria for production in the EU.

 
  
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  Lorenzo Fontana (EFD ), in writing. (IT) Beekeeping is one of the farming models with the least environmental impact, and the activity is therefore particularly well suited to protected areas. Beekeeping is widespread in my region, and it constitutes an outstanding example of land management as well as a symbol of history, tradition and local identity. For very many years, beekeeping in Veneto has produced products of excellent quality and helped sustain the most deprived areas. The sector cannot, however, continue to produce such results if the European Union does not help to fund it, in conjunction with national, regional and local authorities. As indicated in the motion for a resolution, it is important to provide incentives for research against bee diseases and to support European producers in the competition they must face against third countries, following the opening-up of the EU market to imported honey. I will therefore vote in favour of this motion.

 
  
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  Juozas Imbrasas (EFD ), in writing. (LT) I agreed with this report because the beekeeping sector plays a strategic role in society, providing a public service of environmental value. Today, there is an alarming reduction in the numbers of pollinating insects, including honey bees. After all, 84% of the plant species and 76% of food production in Europe are dependent on pollination by bees, the economic importance of which is much greater than the value of the honey produced. Forty percent of the European honey market depends on imports and the previous opening up of the EU market for honey from third countries has placed beekeepers across the EU at a competitive disadvantage. Therefore, we must support the future development of European apiculture, contributing to the preservation of biodiversity. It is important to follow a comprehensive and sustainable approach including such aspects as rural development, climate change and biodiversity, especially by supporting measures to maintain and expand flower pastures. It is also important to support the European apiculture sector in an even wider and coherent manner by using additional instruments in the future CAP, including measures to enhance biodiversity, mitigate the effects of climate change, preserve the heritage of national traditions and cultures which provide employment for many European families, and to safeguard and improve the quality and effective functioning of the market for apiculture products.

 
  
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  Peter Jahr (PPE ), in writing. (DE) Bees are very important creatures, as without them we would have no pollination. That is why the growing number of reports on the decreasing number of bee colonies is very regrettable and requires urgent investigation. This is particularly the case for the agricultural sector, because it is extremely dependent on the useful work of bees. It is unfortunately evident that industrialism and modern life have made it harder for these beneficial bees to survive. Scenarios such as the mass extinction of bees as a result of the Varroa mite, the unexplained exodus of bee colonies in the US and the threat to bees from electro-smog and from incorrectly treated seed are unfortunately not just isolated incidents. It is for this reason that I welcome the fact that Parliament has today agreed to support the beekeeping sector in the future. I believe it is important that we concentrate on research into bee populations.

Without precise scientific data, we shall not be able to identify problems and deal with them effectively. I hope we will succeed in explaining and preventing the decline in bee colonies, so that we can continue to profit from the important, multi-faceted role of bees.

 
  
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  Elisabeth Köstinger (PPE ), in writing. (DE) Beekeeping is extremely important for agriculture, particularly for pollination, because income from arable crops and fruit depends on pollination by bees. The continuing bee mortality in many regions is even more disturbing and measures need to be taken to tackle this. I therefore support the resolution, which calls on the Commission to include bee diseases within the scope of European veterinary policy and to draw up an action plan to tackle bee mortality. The Commission is also called on to ensure that support for beekeeping is maintained and strengthened in the CAP after 2013, guaranteeing the continuation of this sector. Forty percent of the European honey market depends on imports, partly as a result of the opening up of the EU market to honey from third countries, and prices are close to the limits of profitability.

 
  
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  Giovanni La Via (PPE ), in writing. (IT) I voted in favour of the motion for a resolution on beekeeping because it is important to guarantee attention for a sector that protects biodiversity and produces a complete food such as honey. With this role in mind, provision has been made to increase annual aid to the sector in Europe from EUR 26 million for 2008-2010 to EUR 32 million for 2011-2013. This funding will be specifically aimed at supporting beekeeping, including through national research projects into new methods to combat the high mortality rate of bees, which has reached alarming levels recently. On the other hand, however, it is important to guarantee fair transparency in aid distribution and guarantee more resources to States that actually need them. I voted in favour of implementing the data survey system by 2012. This is a step in the direction of transparency, to ensure that aid is distributed on the basis of the results of a survey of hives present in the various Member States and not on the basis of estimated data. I considered this extremely important for the purposes of guaranteeing fairness in relation to public expenditure and protection for those who actually practise beekeeping activities.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D ), in writing. – In 2010, the European Year of Biodiversity, the beekeeping sector throughout the world is gravely threatened, registering losses 100 to 1 000 times worse than normal. This sector plays a strategic role in society, providing a public service of environmental value, and beekeeping is a valuable example of a ‘green occupation’ (improving and preserving biodiversity and the ecological balance and conserving plant life) and a model of sustainable production in a rural environment. I therefore welcome this resolution that makes proposals to improve the situation of the beekeeping sector.

 
  
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  Mario Mauro (PPE ), in writing. (IT) The worrying rise in bee mortality and the falling numbers of beekeepers could have very serious consequences on food production in Europe because, as we all know, most crops and plants depend on pollination.

Parliament should therefore call on the European Union to increase its support for the beekeeping sector, seeing that the common agricultural policy is to be renewed. Strong, specific action is needed to address this problem and to ward off its adverse effects on both the agricultural and trade sectors of our economy.

The action plan called for in the resolution to address bee mortality is just the first in a series of measures that must be adopted. I voted for the motion.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE ), in writing. (PT) The EU is highly dependent on imports in the apiculture sector, with 40% of the honey that we consume being imported. Given the importance of the beekeeping sector, which plays a strategic role in society, providing a public service of environmental value, and the fact that this activity is a valuable example of a ‘green occupation’, improving and preserving biodiversity and the ecological balance and conserving plant life, and a model of sustainable production in a rural environment, it is in everyone’s interest to support it in order to ensure its sustainable growth and to make us less dependent on third countries. In my country, too, this sector must be nurtured so that its benefits can be seen in both economic and environmental terms, and so that there is an increase in honey production, which, at present, amounts to only 1.9% of EU production.

 
  
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  Willy Meyer (GUE/NGL ), in writing. (ES) My support for the resolution on the situation in the beekeeping sector is due to my concern for the serious decline in the number of bees, which are essential and irreplaceable due to their important pollinating role, which, along with other pollinating insects, affects 84% of plant species. I therefore believe that helping to improve the sector’s situation is an obligation, given that, as the resolution states, it ‘plays a strategic role in society, providing a public service of environmental value’. I am also pleased that the resolution asks the Commission for it to be compulsory for European and national authorities to consult beekeepers during the development of programmes relating to beekeeping and related legislation, as I believe that it is a step forward in improving public participation, and a democratic step forward. I also voted in favour because I agree with the Commission guaranteeing that common agricultural policy aid to the beekeeping sector will be increased after 2013.

 
  
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  Andreas Mölzer (NI ), in writing. (DE) The loss of bee colonies is an EU-wide problem, the causes of which cannot yet be fully explained. Factors such as the use of plant protection products, unsustainable farming techniques, climate change, pathogens and parasites and a lack of food and foraging as a result of the increase in monocultures have altogether resulted in a significant decline in the number of honey bees. In addition to ecological consequences, this also has an economic impact, as increasing amounts of honey have to be imported. In order to be able to tackle this problem, European beekeeping should receive more support in future. The report takes a thoroughly balanced approach and that is why I have voted in favour of it.

 
  
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  Franz Obermayr (NI ), in writing. (DE) In 2010, the beekeeping sector suffered massive losses and bee stocks declined considerably. This has a negative impact on the whole environment and on agriculture, as bees are important pollinators. The situation is particularly bad when it comes to honey bees. I have therefore voted in favour of this report, which takes measures to tackle the massive bee mortality.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE ), in writing. (PT) I welcome the resolution adopted by a large majority in the plenary session in Strasbourg on 25 November, including important contributions from Azorean beekeepers which were communicated directly in a consultation that I carried out.

Nevertheless, the final text of the resolution falls short of my initial expectations, as some of the crucial aspects for producers, such as the issue of quality standards and labelling for imported honey, should have been more thorough. It is probable that this did not happen due to a lack of awareness of some of the key problems faced by the sector. This led, for example, to local labelling not being included in the final text of the resolution.

Yet this resolution does tackle important issues for both Azorean and national beekeeping in general, following work carried out in collaboration with the sector, on issues such as honey imported from third countries, which has serious quality problems and now has inadequate labelling; the need to continue to ensure diversified agriculture in order to guarantee pollination; and, lastly, the importance of joint quality standards and research within the EU.

 
  
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  Paulo Rangel (PPE ), in writing. (PT) The apiculture sector plays a strategic role in society, providing a valuable example of a ‘green occupation’, improving and preserving biodiversity and the ecological balance, as well as conserving plant life, and is a model of sustainable production in a rural environment. At a European level, this sector is facing countless challenges and problems, particularly marketing issues, price volatility, difficulties in recruiting young beekeepers to the sector, decreasing numbers of bee colonies and an increase in mortality. It therefore makes complete sense to step up support for this sector.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE ), in writing. (ES) I am pleased that this resolution has been adopted, in which the EP welcomes the Commission’s report of 28 May 2010. It notes, however, that the current programmes come to an end in 2013 and is concerned about the numerous challenges and problems still facing the European apiculture sector, including, inter alia, marketing issues, price volatility, recruiting young beekeepers to the sector, the ageing profile of beekeepers in the European Union, decreasing numbers of colonies and the general difficulties emerging from multifactoral bee mortality. Moreover, it calls on the Commission to respond positively to the requests from both Member States and operators, for example, by improving statistical data in relation to production forecasts, including the application of the same quality requirements for honey, and improving and harmonising monitoring and research programmes for apiculture.

 
  
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  Marc Tarabella (S&D ), in writing. (FR) I am very pleased about the adoption of the proposal by our excellent colleague and committee chair Mr de Castro. The consequences associated with a reduction in the number of bees in the world are relatively unknown by the general public, even though bees play a fundamental role in the sustainability of our food chain. We need an ambitious research policy so that we can gain a more detailed understanding of the mechanisms which contribute to the spread of the species, and so that we can obtain the necessary means to preserve them. We cannot accept Chinese honey which is of lower quality and which does not meet our rigorous production criteria as an inevitability, as the only alternative to the shortage of honey that is slowly taking hold in Europe. I regret the fact that my fellow Members in the European Parliament did not vote for all of the amendments that I tabled. I deplore the fact that the shameful and unrestrained use of neurotoxins has been hypocritically supported in agreement with the large industrial chemical giants. Einstein said: ‘If the bee disappeared from the surface of the earth, man would have no more than four years to live’. Let us ensure that we never have to find out whether what he said is true.

 
  
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  Artur Zasada (PPE ), in writing. (PL) By adopting the resolution on the situation in the beekeeping sector, we are taking a further step towards strengthening and improving the state of this sector. The problems of this important sector, which continues to be undervalued, have a global dimension. Bees are of crucial economic and environmental importance. The high mortality rate currently observed among bee families is having a negative effect on agricultural production. We therefore need new subsidy mechanisms in the next financial perspective after 2013 which will allow a greater amount of scientific research to be conducted into the reasons for the decline in bee numbers and which will also allow relevant steps to be taken to reverse this negative trend. We should also give our support to information campaigns and training that encourage young beekeepers to become active in the sector.

 
  
  

Report: Lena Kolarska-Bobińska (A7-0313/2010 )

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D ), in writing. (PT) I voted in favour of the report on a new Energy Strategy for Europe 2011-2020 as I believe that this new energy strategy is imperative in order to bring a competitive, sustainable and safe strategy into effect. At a time when Europe finds itself ever more dependent on energy imports, I consider it vital that it continues in its dominant leadership role in energy matters by focusing on innovation and technology.

Making our energy strategy more sustainable will require a continued focus on renewable energy, through the introduction of increased competition within the sector in order to achieve the effective implementation of the internal market for energy. That will lead to a reduction in costs and an increase in competitiveness for the economy, and will also create wealth and jobs, which are important in terms of a healthy trade balance.

I come from an outermost region which currently has a level of energy self-sufficiency of around 27%, and which aims to achieve a figure of 75% by 2012. The Azores have set more ambitious specific targets than the EU, with results that are already recognised at a European level, particularly with regard to geothermal energy, through an ambitious energy policy of partnerships between the region and the best national and international research centres.

 
  
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  Elena Oana Antonescu (PPE ), in writing. (RO) The aim of the new energy strategy for Europe is to implement the Treaty of Lisbon with regard to a single energy market, supply security, energy efficiency, reducing dependency on imports and increasing internal energy production. I support this resolution as the European Union needs to implement legislation in this area and global energy strategies quickly. We require a long-term vision for our energy policy which will ensure that this market operates properly, provides support to state-of-the-art integrated networks, better utilises the Union’s energy efficiency potential, promotes research and development, as well as innovation in this area, and which puts benefits for consumers at the heart of European energy policy. Consequently, I voted for this report, which marks a first step towards a comprehensive EU energy policy as part of the EU 2020 strategy.

 
  
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  Sophie Auconie (PPE ), in writing. (FR) Although Europe leads the field in alternative energy generation, we are still overly dependent on fossil fuels, especially oil. This dependency has international ramifications, as most sources of fossil fuel are found outside the EU. The Treaty of Lisbon has established new energy competences for the European Union, an extremely important area of competence. In response, Parliament has adopted an energy strategy for 2011-2020, which I have supported. The strategy involves encouraging investment in this field and promoting initiatives focused on renewable energies. The aim is, of course, to guarantee security of supply in the EU, which is why managing the gas and oil pipelines that currently supply the Union is considered a top priority. The strategy therefore combines short-term energy security needs and plans to provide for future European energy requirements.

 
  
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  Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D ), in writing. (LT) I supported this important document. The inclusion in the Treaty of Lisbon of a specific chapter on energy now means that there is a firm legal basis for developing energy initiatives based on sustainability, security of supply, the interconnection of networks and solidarity. The Union faces significant problems of delayed or incomplete implementation of energy legislation, which call for strong leadership from the Commission to bridge this gap. Within the next decade, major investments will be needed in the internal energy sector, notably in new power plants, interconnections and grids, given that these investments will shape the energy mix for an even longer period, contributing to the creation of a sustainable and clean energy market. It is very important to provide for clear multiannual funding for projects in the field of energy, ensuring that the Baltic Sea region is also integrated into a single EU energy market, and that we pay the same for energy sources as other EU Member States.

 
  
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  Jean-Luc Bennahmias (ALDE ), in writing. (FR) I voted in favour of the motion for a resolution by Mrs Kolarska-Bobińska, because I generally share her views on how the future energy strategy of the European Union should be oriented: towards greater autonomy in relation to third countries providing fossil fuels, towards an opening up of the Member States which are still ‘isolated’ in terms of energy and which are not yet properly linked up to the European energy system, towards encouraging the development of renewable energies, and towards an external energy provision within the framework of the new European External Action Service. We need a coherent European energy strategy that looks to the future.

 
  
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  Sebastian Valentin Bodu (PPE ), in writing. (RO) The European Union’s energy security policy should allow it to anticipate crisis situations, similar to the 2009 gas crisis, and not only to react to them. This must go hand in hand with meeting the targets assumed for cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 20% and reducing energy consumption by 20% by 2020. This task is going to be far from easy, especially because the financial contribution, for the environmental targets alone, will reach EUR 58 billion. There will be, in addition to this, the financial contribution for reducing the EU’s growing dependency on external energy resources. Internal and external aspects need to be combined so that the EU is no longer vulnerable in terms of its energy supply and its policies must be adapted accordingly. All the measures intended to ensure that the internal energy market operates properly should be accompanied by active diplomacy, aimed at strengthening cooperation with the main producing, transit and consumer countries. It is absolutely imperative to draw up national plans containing preventive and emergency measures. Coordinating these plans at EU level would ensure that they are effective.

 
  
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  Jan Březina (PPE ), in writing. (CS) I voted in favour of the report on energy strategy, which outlines the directions that future EU energy policy should take. I would like to emphasise the role of nuclear energy in the current and future energy mix of the EU, including an implicit recognition of the need to extend the lifetime of existing facilities. The strategy can be regarded as balanced from the perspective of individual sources, even though it does not once mention what is, in my view, the important role of coal when combusted in modernised power plants. It is difficult to see how we can increase EU energy security and independence without coal as a stable primary resource capable of responding flexibly to sudden increases in energy demand. The weak point is the excessively general nature of the report and the absence of accompanying legislation. The specific and practical form of the strategy will also be hugely influenced by the action plan being drawn up for achieving a low carbon economy by 2050, which is due to be published at the beginning of next year. In view of the continuing absence of regional markets and market coupling, I consider the aim of creating a unified internal market by 2015 to be highly ambitious, particularly if we take into account the fact that the European Commission does not, as I see it, sufficiently monitor the proper implementation of current European energy legislation in all Member States. The European Commission has also fittingly incorporated the so-called infrastructure package into the energy strategy, which should facilitate the construction of power networks throughout the EU.

 
  
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  Alain Cadec (PPE ), in writing. (FR) Developing a real European energy strategy has now become imperative. As Mrs Kolarska-Bobińska’s report explains, the European Union is labouring under a massive dependency on energy imports and serious shortfalls in its legislation. Like the rapporteur, I would stress that the European Union needs to furnish itself with the practical and financial resources needed to realise its objectives, not least by providing appropriate funding for research and development in the field of energy. I am also convinced that security of supply needs to go hand-in-hand with a strong partnership with Russia. It is becoming ever more apparent that we need to expand significantly the construction of gas pipelines that carry natural gas from around the world to Europe. We also need to improve the connections between networks in the Member States in order to improve energy solidarity.

 
  
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  Maria Da Graça Carvalho (PPE ), in writing. (PT) The energy sector is a driving force behind economic growth. Since 2008, Europe has had a strategy for energy and combating climate change. It is vital that this strategy is implemented.

However, the Treaty of Lisbon allows us to go further, opening the way to creating a true energy community within Europe. We need to develop the internal energy market, build and forge links between energy networks, ensure energy security and energy solidarity and put the consumer at the centre of our concerns. There is a need to increase public funding and develop more tools and programmes to encourage energy efficiency. Scientific research and technology play a key role in achieving these objectives. In view of this, I welcome the launch of the various European industrial initiatives under the European Strategic Energy Technology Plan (SET Plan), and I call upon the Commission to put the rest of the measures in this plan into practice. The eighth framework programme should also make research and the development of innovative technologies its priority in the field of energy. It is therefore vital that there is adequate funding to support clean and sustainable technologies. That is the only way in which it will be possible to maintain the competitiveness of our industry, and promote economic growth and job creation.

 
  
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  Nikolaos Chountis (GUE/NGL ), in writing. (EL) I voted against the report on the new Energy Strategy for Europe 2011-2020. The report is fully in line with the objectives of the EU 2020 strategy, which does away with the last vestiges of social Europe. Strengthening the competitiveness of the EU, which is so strongly promoted in the report, demonstrably leads to cutbacks in wages and workers’ rights in this specific sector. At the same time, in the midst of an economic crisis, with almost the entire European energy industry (power plants, grids) tending to be privatised, the report makes provision for more money for energy infrastructures, i.e. it indirectly subsidises big business. Finally, I believe that the report’s attempt to link EU energy policy with its objectives to reduce climate change is a purely ostensible link, as any references are vague and do not describe a strong political will.

 
  
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  Corina Creţu (S&D ), in writing. (RO) I voted for the resolution on the new Energy Strategy for Europe 2011-2020. The main aims featuring in this resolution are to move to a low carbon energy system and guarantee energy supply security for all Member States. Both these objectives must ensure that the EU is competitive and energy is distributed at affordable prices on the basis of a secure supply. I believe that the prerequisites for guaranteeing energy security are to extend the regulations applied in the EU’s internal energy market to neighbouring countries and to make efforts to diversify energy sources and transport routes for energy imports.

 
  
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  Vasilica Viorica Dăncilă (S&D ), in writing. (RO) The European Union has set itself a number of highly ambitious objectives for the next decade, one of them being to increase energy efficiency by 2020. This objective will help boost the volume of investment in this area and, by extension, create new jobs in both rural and urban areas. I believe that in this context, it is beneficial not only to grant financial incentives for projects of this kind, but also to launch public awareness campaigns about energy efficiency and the level of resources which can be used by consumer and energy-related products.

 
  
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  Edite Estrela (S&D ), in writing. (PT) I voted in favour of the report ‘Towards a new Energy Strategy for Europe 2011-2020’ as I believe that there needs to be new strategic guidance for the sector in order to achieve the objectives set out in Article 194 of the Treaty of Lisbon, the 20-20-20 targets set out in the EU Energy and Climate Change Package, and the long-term objective of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by between 80% and 95% by 2050.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE ), in writing. (PT) The Commission has established three objectives for European energy policy: (i) to move towards a low carbon energy system; (ii) to ensure security of energy supply; (iii) to ensure that the EU’s competitiveness and the supply of energy to all consumers at affordable prices are strengthened. I broadly agree with these three objectives, but I believe that a fourth, and perhaps more important, challenge is missing here: the reduction of energy dependence, particularly as regards fossil fuels. Moreover, the target of reducing carbon emissions has to be considered with great care, so as to minimise the risks of carbon leakage and loss of competitiveness for European industries.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE ), in writing. (PT) The Commission document entitled ‘Towards a new Energy Strategy for Europe 2011-2020’ makes an excellent contribution to a comprehensive EU policy for the energy sector in the context of the EU 2020 strategy. The Treaty of Lisbon provides a firm legal basis for developing energy initiatives based on sustainability, security of supply, the interconnection of networks and solidarity. We can have a new strategy for the energy sector in order to meet the objectives of Article 194 of the Treaty of Lisbon and the 20-20-20 climate package targets.

New initiatives in the energy sector should aim to move towards a low carbon energy system, where security of energy supply is guaranteed for everyone, while also ensuring the EU’s competitiveness and the supply of energy to all consumers at affordable prices. The Treaty of Lisbon’s objectives of a single energy market, security of supply, energy efficiency and savings, the development of new and renewable forms of energy and the promotion of energy networks must be fulfilled. This strategy must be carried out in a spirit of solidarity and responsibility, so that no Member State is left behind or isolated.

 
  
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  Ilda Figueiredo (GUE/NGL ), in writing. (PT) The EU energy strategy advocated in this report, and which is advocated by the Commission in its various communications on the subject, is closely linked to the definition of a Union policy described in the Treaty of Lisbon: ‘completion of the EU internal energy market’.

The rapporteur is calling for ‘plans to be drawn up for a European Energy Community’, insisting on the implementation and transposition by the Member States of the current directives on the internal market, and considering ‘as a final measure, the resubmission of key provisions of current internal market directives in the form of regulations, to ensure full direct application across the single market’. As we have repeated, we completely disagree with this proposal as an energy solution for Europe, and have therefore voted against the report.

This is a strategic sector for a state’s economy and functioning, and it should be sovereign in defining its energy policies.

Moreover, the increase in dependence on imports for primary resources and consumer energy prices, coupled with disinvestment in energy infrastructure, have already revealed the failure of this private market strategy. Only the public sector can guarantee universal access to energy, its effective management and efficiency, and reduced dependence on fossil fuels.

 
  
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  Elisabetta Gardini (PPE ), in writing. (IT) I agree with the aims of the motion for a resolution: creation of a single European energy market, security of supply, energy efficiency, development of new renewable energy sources, and support for energy grids.

I fully endorse the request for the Commission to adopt an ambitious energy efficiency action plan in order to reduce the EU’s dependency, combat climate change, increase job creation and counteract increases in energy tariffs.

It is also necessary to ensure that the integrated market is working properly by setting up an appropriate gas and electricity infrastructure system. It should be stressed, however, that particular emphasis has been placed on certain projects, without explicitly mentioning others, that are also in the European interest and contribute to the aim of achieving energy security. To achieve that aim, I believe we need not only to support certain infrastructure works, but also to have a neutral approach to all the various projects.

 
  
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  Nathalie Griesbeck (ALDE ), in writing. (FR) The European Union is currently a major player in the international energy market. However, the EU has very few raw materials and is therefore forced to import in bulk. This simple fact raises questions about security of supply and our continent’s dependency on the wider world. These issues have been a real source of concern within the European Union for many years. For this reason I, together with my fellow Members of Parliament, have voted to adopt a resolution which calls on the European Union to diversify its providers in order to avoid future supply problems and to create a more rigorous strategic approach within the sector. By voting in favour of the resolution, I also wanted to emphasise that energy efficiency should be a priority for the European Union. Indeed, this seems to me to be the best way of reducing the EU’s energy dependency, but also, and more importantly, of combating climate change – something which has now become an urgent necessity.

 
  
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  Juozas Imbrasas (EFD ), in writing. (LT) I agreed with this report and would firstly like to thank the rapporteur and the shadow rapporteurs for the first energy strategy since the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon. The strategy reflects the main challenges – solidarity in the field of energy and security of energy supply. Firstly, the Member States must implement legislation that has already been adopted in the field of energy. Secondly, a single internal energy market must be established, as well as a renewable energy market. Thirdly, trans-European energy infrastructure must be upgraded and modernised. Therefore, the EU must overcome any administrative and financial barriers and EU Member States must reconcile their interests and show solidarity. The same rules must apply to every project, whether it be the Yamal pipeline, or the Nord Stream pipeline. As we know, the EU’s dependence on countries supplying oil and gas is increasing. The Eastern European Member States pay a heavy price for the monopoly – there is no competition, consumer rights are not protected and it is impossible to create a single market. We are dependent on fossil fuels, sources of which are being exhausted, and therefore, it is especially urgent to develop not just renewable energy but to invest in increasing energy efficiency so that we can also mitigate the effects of climate change. A major omission in current EU energy policy is the failure to direct EU funds into an area that still ranks, despite the recession, as one of the top priorities for European governments and citizens. The focus in the field of energy should be on the consumer and the protection of his rights, and the EU must strive to ensure favourable energy prices for consumers and business.

 
  
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  Karin Kadenbach (S&D ), in writing. (DE) I welcome the fact that, according to this report, the Commission and Member States are to ensure that the highest international safety standards are applied in both new and old nuclear power stations. I also voted in favour of this clause. However, I would like to clarify the fact that the discontinuation of nuclear power remains my ultimate goal. Although we must move away from energy production using fossil fuels, nuclear energy is not the alternative. The potential risk is still too great and the issue of the final storage of nuclear waste is still unresolved. Promoting low carbon energy sources is a well-known argument used by the nuclear lobby to take the sting out of nuclear power. However, climate change should not be used to justify the expansion of our nuclear power.

 
  
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  Jarosław Kalinowski (PPE ), in writing. (PL) Energy policy is, at present, a particularly important area of the European Union’s activity. Preventing energy crises in neighbouring countries and ensuring energy security in Member States should be a priority for the European Union institutions. It is particularly important to ensure a balance between energy policy and environmental protection. For this reason, we must promote the increased use of renewable energy sources to the greatest extent possible. This will not only allow a reduction in emissions of harmful substances, but may also effectively limit the dependence of the EU market on foreign supplies of energy.

In order to ensure energy security, which is of great importance to all the citizens of Member States, it is essential to promote good relations between the European Union and third countries, particularly those that send supplies to Europe. Of equally great importance is the diversification of oil and gas supplies, so that the European Union becomes less susceptible to energy crises in neighbouring countries.

 
  
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  Elisabeth Köstinger (PPE ), in writing. (DE) A sustainable European energy strategy is the basic prerequisite for safeguarding energy supplies and must therefore cover all aspects of the provision of energy. An optimum energy supply is also important for a flourishing economy, as it provides and creates jobs. I welcome the fact that the report emphasises the potential of the biomass resources of the EU Member States for producing significant quantities of second generation biofuels. The use of fossil energy must be significantly reduced in the next few years. Biomass can play a considerable part in replacing oil and gas. For independence and security of supply, the necessary resources must also be available in the field of energy. Agriculture can make a significant contribution to achieving the EU 2020 goals. We need to recognise the signs of the future and invest in renewable energy sources and green technologies. I support the parts of the report which call for measures to develop a sustainable energy policy in Europe with international importance.

 
  
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  Giovanni La Via (PPE ), in writing. (IT) I voted in favour of the report on energy strategy since it makes a constructive contribution to the European debate on the subject and lays down guidelines for the future of European energy policy. We all know that the European Union is today confronted with a host of challenges, just as we know that it is increasingly dependent on foreign energy imports. The Treaty of Lisbon was the first step towards turning the tide, because it provides a strong legal framework and legal basis (Article 194) for action on energy policy. It lays down a set of clear objectives, including ensuring the functioning of the single energy market, security of supply and energy efficiency, and promoting energy networks and renewable forms of energy. I therefore consider this document to be an extremely useful contribution to the efforts to create and implement a common energy strategy that can strengthen Europe in decades to come.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D ), in writing. – I welcome this report on a new energy strategy for Europe which considers that any future strategy should seek to fulfil the Lisbon Treaty’s core objectives of a single energy market, security of supply, energy efficiency and savings and the development of new and renewable forms of energy and the promotion of energy networks; furthermore, it should contribute to affordable energy prices for the benefit of all consumers, the enhancement of renewables in the framework of sustainable energy production, and the development of interconnected, integrated, interoperable and smart energy networks and lead to a reduced reliance on energy imports and an increase in indigenous energy production, while maintaining competitiveness and industry growth and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

 
  
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  Marisa Matias (GUE/NGL ), in writing. (PT) The Energy Strategy for Europe 2011-2020 sets out general guidelines which seek to strengthen the recently defined internal energy market. This report strengthens competitiveness and market instruments, without, however, being ambitious with regard to renewable forms of energy or reduced energy consumption. It also fails to pay proper attention to microgeneration or equality in energy supply. Finally, it binds European energy security into close cooperation with NATO. I voted against it for these and other reasons.

 
  
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  Jean-Luc Mélenchon (GUE/NGL ), in writing. (FR) This report is an ode to nuclear energy, the carbon market and the Desertec project. On top of that, it advocates close collaboration with NATO. In accordance with the principles of ecology and peace that I stand for, I am voting against this report.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE ), in writing. (PT) The three objectives set out by the Commission on European energy policy are clear and ambitious: moving towards a low carbon energy system, ensuring security of energy supply, and ensuring that the EU’s competitiveness and the supply of energy to all consumers at affordable prices are strengthened. A very strong financial and human effort is necessary in order to achieve these objectives.

 
  
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  Louis Michel (ALDE ), in writing. (FR) The Treaty of Lisbon provides the European Union with a strong legal framework and a strong legal basis – Article 194 – with a view to taking action on energy policy. A long-term vision and a new energy strategy are necessary to attain the 20-20-20 objectives of the climate and energy package between now and 2020. The European Union must demonstrate that it has will and ambition. Today, the Union is increasingly dependent on energy imports. This is why it is important for the European Union to integrate energy considerations into its policies and external actions. In addition, we need to encourage long-term investments on Community territory. Energy efficiency and energy saving must be the first priorities, in particular, through the adoption of an action plan for energy efficiency and a programme of incentives favouring renewable energies at European level.

The Union must also expand research and development efforts as much as possible. Finally, we must pay very particular attention to the competitiveness of the European Union and to the economic accessibility of energy for European industry and private consumers.

 
  
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  Andreas Mölzer (NI ), in writing. (DE) In her report, the rapporteur deals with an improvement in Europe’s energy supply, something that is to be welcomed. However, it would seem that this goal is to be achieved by increasing the influence of the EU over the energy sector. Energy policy is something very specific from country to country. There is little agreement in Europe concerning the use of nuclear energy and ‘renewable’ forms of energy in particular.

For this reason, and because I believe that we should continue to decide for ourselves how we obtain our energy, I am convinced that energy policy is something that should be left up to the individual Member States. I have therefore voted against this amendment.

 
  
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  Alfredo Pallone (PPE ), in writing. (IT) I voted in favour of Mrs Kolarska-Bobińska’s report because I am aware that the road toward Europe’s energy future is currently strewn with obstacles and difficulties that must be overcome. The challenges that Europe intends to determinedly and resolutely face up to are many: the European energy system needs substantial investment at a very sensitive time when it is still dealing with the economic crisis, which has affected numerous sectors. In view of the EU’s current situation, I feel it is time to implement a new energy strategy with a view to achieving the goals laid down by the Climate Change Package (20-20-20). Better deployment of EU budgetary resources on EU energy and climate policies would be useful. The creation of instruments for providing incentives for the development and modernisation of energy networks would also be an interesting strategy, which I would support.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE ), in writing. (PT) I voted in favour of Parliament’s resolution on a new Energy Strategy for Europe 2011-2020 (2010/2108(INI) ) as I, like the rapporteur, believe that by including a specific chapter on energy, the Treaty of Lisbon now provides a firm legal basis for developing energy initiatives based on sustainability, security of supply, the interconnection of networks and solidarity.

To this end, it is vital to address the problem of the delayed or incomplete implementation of energy legislation and the lack of comprehensive energy strategies with strong leadership from the Commission, alongside a convincing demonstration of Member State determination and support. In view of this, the document entitled ‘Towards a new Energy Strategy for Europe 2011-2020’ is a first step towards a comprehensive EU energy policy in the context of the EU 2020 strategy.

I would like to highlight the following points, which are included in the proposed EU strategy: ensuring support for modern integrated networks, ensuring security of energy supply, promoting energy research, development and innovation, and putting consumers and the public at the centre of EU energy policy.

 
  
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  Paulo Rangel (PPE ), in writing. (PT) The Treaty of Lisbon defines a set of clear objectives for energy policy: ensuring the functioning of a single internal energy market, security of supply, energy efficiency and the promotion of energy networks and renewable sources of energy. The EU therefore needs to adopt a new strategy for the energy sector which allows these objectives to be met, along with the 20-20-20 climate package targets.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE ), in writing.(ES) In the end, our group abstained in the vote on this resolution due to the excessive emphasis placed on burning coal. Despite the fact that two key amendments fell (regarding paragraphs 32 and 52), the content remains difficult for our group to accept.

 
  
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  Czesław Adam Siekierski (PPE ), in writing.(PL) Mrs Kolarska-Bobińska’s report draws attention to a number of significant problems, such as the lack of a harmonised energy policy which takes account of the specific features of individual Member States as well as the need to import sources of energy from third countries. Forecasts show that dependence on crude oil will be even greater in the future, which is why the energy strategy must have many aspects as well as an international dimension, going beyond the framework of the European Union. In view of the close geographical proximity of Member States with Russia, the European Union should strive to achieve closer cooperation with our eastern neighbours under the right conditions. Our efforts should also be concentrated on achieving the objectives of the Treaty of Lisbon and, as a consequence, on creating a single energy market, while at the same time guaranteeing security of energy supply. To achieve these intentions, it is necessary to make investments in network infrastructure, because this would foster integration of regional energy markets, and also to modernise pan-European energy networks. As Mrs Kolarska-Bobińska rightly suggests, the construction of new terminals, able to bring gas from all over the world, would allow new sources of gas imports to be found, particularly from regions which are rich in this resource, such as Central Asia. The President of the European Parliament, Jerzy Buzek, and the former head of the European Commission, Jacques Delors, have also suggested making financial assistance available for development of infrastructure, because a modernised and extended energy network is a fundamental requirement for building a consistent energy policy.

 
  
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  Peter Skinner (S&D ), in writing. – Maintaining a strategic approach to energy within the EU is becoming more and more essential as resources become traded as ‘futures’ and regimes in other parts of the world continue to divert these scarce resources in their direction only. Whilst I can agree that an effective solution might be energy saving, it is only a part of the wider approach necessary. The development of energy technologies such as fusion and mixtures of sustainable energy resources are essential. However, this will only be achieved by supporting energy security as a policy with other western agencies such as NATO.

 
  
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  Nuno Teixeira (PPE ), in writing. (PT) An energy strategy for Europe is essential in order to implement new policies under the Treaty of Lisbon. There are now sound legal foundations for drawing up energy initiatives based on sustainability, security of energy supply, and the interconnection of networks and solidarity. The objectives of a structured plan, as submitted to Parliament, should include the implementation of a single energy market, and of security and efficiency of energy supply. It is a fact that the situation facing the energy sector in Europe has to address many challenges, now and in the future. The EU is increasingly dependent on energy imports, and energy production within the EU demands increased investment, at a time when the consequences of an economic crisis are still being faced. I would like to emphasise the importance of making better use of the potential of renewable forms of energy in the EU, along with putting EU consumers and the public at the heart of European energy policy. For the aforementioned reasons, I voted in favour of the document.

 
  
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  Derek Vaughan (S&D ), in writing. – With a projected 70% of the EU’s energy being imported by 2030, often from unstable regions, security of supply must be a priority for the EU, and this resolution sets out the EU’s strategy to deal with this dependence. Energy efficiency should be a priority for the EU, in particular, as it is the most effective way of cutting costs for consumers across the EU. The resolution also calls on the Commission to ensure that all current legislation is properly enforced, including a single energy market, and also reiterates the Parliament’s call for the roll-out of smart meters, all of which should improve the service that consumers receive, and allow them to better control the amount of energy they use.

 
  
  

Motion for a resolution (B7-0616/2010 )

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D ), in writing. (PT) I voted in favour of this resolution as I believe that the European Union should make an active contribution to making the conference on climate change in Cancún promising and transparent, especially as regards funding intended for adaptation, forestry, the efficient use of resources, technology transfer, surveillance, reporting and checks.

The EU should therefore likewise facilitate strong political engagement with third countries by developing policies to build effective mechanisms for international cooperation on climate change, both within and beyond the United Nations framework convention on climate change. It is also worth pointing out the historical responsibility borne by the developed countries for irreversible climate change and their obligation to assist the developing countries and the least-developed countries in adapting to these changes, including by providing financial support for national adaptation programmes of action (NAPAs) as important instruments for adaptation to climate change which promote ownership.

 
  
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  Sophie Auconie (PPE ), in writing. (FR) In the week preceding the climate change summit in Cancún, the European Parliament has adopted a resolution on the summit objectives. The failure of the Copenhagen Summit, for which we had such high hopes, is still very much in people’s minds, and we all hope that the next chance to advance international cooperation on climate change will not prove another missed opportunity. Unfortunately, I do not think that the resolution adopted in the last plenary session on Thursday is particularly helpful. My colleagues in the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) and I wanted to maintain the target of reducing greenhouse gases by 20% by 2020, which would have given us a good basis for negotiations with the US and China. However, the Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance and the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament succeeded in adopting the unrealistic target of 30%. I do not think that this kind of unilateral approach is good news for the impending negotiations in Cancún, and in my view, it is a pity that the resolution, which I opposed, has been adopted.

 
  
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  Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D ), in writing. (LT) I supported this resolution. Concrete commitments could not be reached at the Copenhagen conference on climate change. Subsequent talks in Germany and China also failed to deliver the expected outcome and therefore, much hope is being placed on the conference in Cancún, where substantive steps need to be agreed – the conclusion of a comprehensive international post-2012 agreement – which should be in line with the latest developments in science and consistent with our intentions of halting the warming of the atmosphere by 2020, and of limiting global warming to 2 degrees by 2050, compared to 1990 levels. I agree with the position set out in the resolution that the European Union should take a leading role in the climate negotiations and actively contribute to a more constructive climate conference in Cancún. Only the European Union has approved binding climate change reduction targets and intends to adopt even more ambitious targets. Therefore, it must be in the EU’s interest for other countries to make such commitments, because the EU’s economic growth and competitiveness depend on it.

 
  
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  Jean-Luc Bennahmias (ALDE ), in writing. (FR) A few days before the opening of the climate change conference in Cancún, the joint resolution voted on by Parliament calls on ‘Heads of State or Government worldwide to demonstrate real political leadership and willingness during the negotiations’. We need specific and rapid measures, because the assessment is a harsh one: as things stand, our commitments are not likely to minimise damage due to climate change. In short, our governments must do more, and they must do it more quickly. The European Union must play a driving role in the negotiations by speaking with a single voice so that it can carry some weight when dealing with China and the United States. As far as the objectives are concerned, we require more ambition. We must adopt the objective of a 30% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in the EU by 2020 compared with 1990 levels (paragraph 16). Although it is true that the fight against climate change has been set as one of the major political challenges for a number of years, we have not yet seen the results expected. For example, on the 2020 objectives concerning energy efficiency and the 20% renewable energy rate, the numbers do not add up. Cancún is an opportunity to do things better; let us not miss it yet again.

 
  
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  Vilija Blinkevičiūtė (S&D ), in writing. (LT) I voted for this resolution because the European Union must play a leading role in climate change negotiations, as trust in the international negotiations on climate change needs to be restored after the disappointing outcome of the climate conference in Copenhagen. I support the European Parliament’s call to take concrete measures to halt deforestation and its proposal to establish an effective global emissions trading market. I would like to stress that we must enhance natural removals of greenhouse gas emissions which promote the conservation of biodiversity. Hopefully, substantive steps will be agreed in Cancún which should be in line with the latest developments in science in order to safeguard the survival of all nations, peoples and ecosystems.

Furthermore, it is very important to take substantive decisions in Cancún as regards financing and especially the degree of additionality in financing for adaptation, forestry, resource efficiency, technology transfer, monitoring, reporting and verification. It is also very important to guarantee full transparency in connection with, and a strong political commitment to, the implementation of the fast-start financing.

 
  
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  Maria Da Graça Carvalho (PPE ), in writing. (PT) The success of the climate change conference in Cancún is vital to the credibility of the negotiating process under the auspices of the United Nations. It is therefore crucial that concrete commitments and realistic objectives are adopted. Reaching an agreement on aspects such as policies for forest protection, the transfer of technology to developing countries and funding is vital.

If there is a failure to reach a global agreement, Europe should still remain open to considering a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, but should impose conditions, especially with regard to the environmental integrity of the protocol, the redesigning of the clean development mechanism and the undertaking of commitments by the major emitters worldwide, such as China and the US.

 
  
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  Nikolaos Chountis (GUE/NGL ), in writing. (EL) The initial form of the resolution on the Cancún climate change conference has been changed quite a lot and its content has been watered down considerably by incorporating the amendments tabled by the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats). Nonetheless, I voted in favour of it, because I consider that there is an urgent need for fast and coordinated action at international level to combat climate change and that the resolution as a whole still contains numerous positive points and makes an important contribution on the part of the EU to the Cancún conference. The report criticises the lack of preparation for the conference, emphasises the need to reduce emissions by at least 40% and calls on the EU and the Member States to implement the principle of ‘climate justice’. It also highlights the historical responsibility borne by the developed countries and recalls their financial commitment and the objective of Official Development Assistance, with a baseline of 0.7% of GNI. The conservation of biodiversity and the ecosystem is the focal point and the right of access to drinking water and the need to preserve forests and develop a forestation policy are also recognised. Finally, it rightly points out that the potential for energy saving is not being exploited and underlines the need to increase the energy efficiency of buildings and transport.

 
  
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  Lara Comi (PPE ), in writing. (IT) Climate change is a problem of global relevance and therefore requires joint responses. A unilateral commitment is a positive sign, however, and is therefore desirable, but it is not enough.

Although the data confirm that it will not be the EU that suffers most from the rise in CO2 , that in itself does not mean we should have no sense of responsibility, including for what has been done in the past. We cannot therefore back out of our commitment to make a tangible contribution to reducing emissions, although it is worth stressing that our efforts are essentially diplomatic in nature.

In particular, we need to form a consensus on certain basic issues and then tackle them together with the other players. There may, in fact, be a very strong incentive to act as a free rider, but that should be discouraged in every possible way; otherwise, the costs that our production system is already beginning to pay – and paying willingly, provided it gets results – will be in vain.

 
  
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  Corina Creţu (S&D ), in writing. (RO) I voted for the European Parliament resolution of 25 November 2010 on the UN climate change conference in Cancún with a view to meeting the overall objective of limiting the annual mean surface temperature increase to 2 ºC (‘the 2 ºC objective’). The consequences of failing to meet the 2 °C target may be particularly serious. Up to 40% of species will face extinction, millions of people will be displaced owing to rising sea levels and more frequent extreme weather events, crop yields will decline, food prices will increase and global economic output will fall by at least 3%. The scientific arguments about climate change and its impact are glaringly obvious. This is why it is paramount that a legislative framework is created which will monitor the proper implementation of these measures.

 
  
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  Vasilica Viorica Dăncilă (S&D ), in writing. (RO) I think that the European Union and its Member States must define and implement a principle of ‘climate justice’ and, therefore, introduce an equity clause in future international climate negotiations. I believe that it would be the greatest injustice if the world were unable to curb climate change, because it is specifically poor people in poor countries who would suffer.

 
  
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  Mário David (PPE ), in writing. (PT) I am voting in favour of the bulk of the measures and proposals presented in this report. Following the disappointing outcome of the climate conference in Copenhagen, it is necessary to restore trust in the international negotiations on climate change. Once again, it is up to the European Union to take a leading role in the climate change negotiations and make an active contribution so that Cancún results in more constructive, transparent and bold commitments.

I also believe that the European Union should aim to step up its climate diplomacy activities, seeking strong political engagement with third countries by developing policies to build effective instruments and mechanisms for international cooperation on environmental protection and climate change. In this attempt to achieve bolder and more ambitious results, I also believe that in the final phase of the COP 16 negotiations, the European Union should give its chief negotiator some flexibility to react to developments thrown up by the negotiations.

 
  
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  Marielle De Sarnez (ALDE ), in writing. (FR) The European Union must speak with one voice and show that it is ambitious and persuasive during the climate change conference in Cancún. The failure in Copenhagen must not be repeated. We need specific and rapid measures, because the assessment is a harsh one: as things stand, our commitments are unlikely to minimise the damage caused by climate change. The European Union must play a pivotal role in the negotiations by speaking with one voice to make its presence felt in its dealings with China and the United States. The major target to be met is that of a 30% reduction in EU greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 compared with 1990 levels. We must also ensure that industrialised countries such as the United States make a commitment to developing countries in order to help them combat and adapt to climate change, by combating deforestation, desertification and so on. It is time for our governments to take stock of the climate challenges ahead of us and to reach a political consensus that allows for the implementation of a true global policy for combating climate change.

 
  
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  Christine De Veyrac (PPE ), in writing. (FR) The European Union has already adopted the ambitious objective of a 20% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2020 during the French Presidency in 2008. It is already very difficult to gain acceptance for this objective from the other countries involved in the international negotiations on climate change. Without international agreement, this European objective may also mean a loss of international competitiveness for European businesses in some sectors of the economy.

Proposing a new objective of a 30% reduction in CO2 emissions in the European Union is therefore completely disproportionate, and that is why I voted against this motion for a resolution. The position adopted by Parliament today does not put the European Union in a credible position when it comes to negotiating with its partners to reach an agreement during next week’s Cancún conference.

 
  
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  Edite Estrela (S&D ), in writing. (PT) I voted in favour of the resolution on the Cancún climate change conference as I believe that Parliament should send a clear message that world leaders need to demonstrate their political leadership during the negotiations in order to progress to the level of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE ), in writing. (PT) Regardless of the debate on the causes of climate change, and on verifying whether human action has caused and can reverse it, it is now clear that this issue has very serious implications in extremely diverse areas of human life, and that it is threatening to cause imbalances at global level. Therefore, we cannot fail to monitor it closely and with concern. In particular, climate change has caused the worrying rise in sea level, forced migrations, and the fight for access to waterways and more fertile land, as in Sudan, pitting nomadic herdsmen against settled farmers. The EU must actively participate in this global effort and do its best to monitor this problem and seek lasting solutions, which will ideally be able to reconcile scientific and technological progress, and the development of populations with environmental quality and respect for nature. The Cancún climate change conference is an excellent opportunity to pursue this objective in order to establish more ambitious targets and reach a more solid and comprehensive collective commitment to combating the problem.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE ), in writing. (PT) I support a binding agreement featuring an international system of sanctions for the climate summit in Cancún. It is clear that such an agreement will only make sense if it is binding on the major global emitters: the US, China and India. The EU has been a leader in combating climate change, and should be encouraged to build on this leadership, although without forgetting the tremendous efforts that our industries have already made to respond to the mandatory reductions in emissions within Europe. It should be noted that the EU is responsible for around 15% of global emissions, and it is estimated that this percentage will fall to 10% in 2030, while the US, China and India are responsible for half of global emissions, with this figure continuing to rise.

As a result, I cannot agree that the EU should unilaterally limit its CO2 emissions by 30%, rather than the target of 20%, if this is not going to be duly matched by other countries, notably the US. That does not mean that the EU’s ambition should be scaled back. On the contrary, I believe that, even if others do not go along with us, we should continue to focus our efforts on scientific research, technological innovation relating to non-carbon energy sources, energy efficiency and the creation of green jobs, in order to increase our competitiveness.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL ), in writing. (PT) This resolution repeats some of the gaps, weaknesses and errors of the position that Parliament adopted at the Copenhagen conference on climate change, not recognising the reasons behind its spectacular failure. The discussion is still overly focused on reduction targets, to the detriment of ways to achieve them, which discredits the whole debate. There is insistence on a market approach, although market instruments have already shown their ineffectiveness and perversity. It falls short of what is needed in the discussion on the distortions introduced by so-called flexibility mechanisms and the need for their abolition or recasting. There is an obvious misunderstanding of the meaning and serious importance of the principle of a ‘common but differentiated responsibility’ when placing the world’s major historical polluters, such as the US, the biggest global emitter per capita, which is resisting making serious commitments to reduce its emissions, on an equal footing with emerging economies such as China or India, with per capita emissions that are 10 and 4 times lower respectively than those of the US.

In terms of funding adaptation and mitigation in developing countries, the severe constraints that weigh on these countries continue to be ignored, such as the massive, unfair foreign debt carried by the least developed countries. Notwithstanding some positive points, the general content of the resolution does not merit our support.

 
  
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  Carlo Fidanza (PPE ), in writing. (IT) After the failure of the Copenhagen conference, we are at last hoping to move forwards. I welcome the resolution on the Cancún climate change conference, particularly the amendments by the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats), which state a sensible and pragmatic principle: no increase in the emissions reduction quota can be decided unilaterally by the EU in the absence of tangible commitments by the other major world players.

Europe must certainly continue to lead the fight against greenhouse gas emissions, but this cannot be done in the name of an environmentalist ideology that requires no joint acceptance of responsibility and ends up penalising hundreds of thousands of Europe’s small and medium-sized enterprises, particularly during a crisis period.

 
  
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  Karl-Heinz Florenz (PPE ), in writing. (DE) I have voted against today’s motion for a resolution on the climate conference in Cancún (COP 16) because I feel duty-bound to climate protection, by which I mean realistic climate protection that combines sustainability and economic development. It is a major step for me to vote against a report I played a significant role in drafting. However, the motion for a resolution is a ‘green pipe-dream’ that pursues excessive and unrealistic targets. We have succeeded in talking down some of the demands, such as limiting the rise in the average temperature to 1.5 °C. If we had pursued this demand, we would have had to reduce our emissions to zero in the next ten years and strive for negative emissions in the short or long term. We did not manage to prevail in respect of a unilateral rise in EU reduction commitments, despite the fact that this is not helpful to negotiations at present and that we lack investigations as to how specific reductions are to be achieved. We must avoid making such demands, as we risk losing credibility among our partners throughout the world, particularly those who are still unsure about joining with us. Credibility is our chief asset at present. I am convinced that in our efforts to secure this, Europe must speak with one voice. That is why I am supporting the Council and the Commission.

 
  
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  Nathalie Griesbeck (ALDE ), in writing. (FR) Hopes were dashed when the Copenhagen Summit failed to set ambitious targets to combat global warming. The European Union now needs to be unwavering in its commitment to achieving a convincing result at the Cancún Summit. To this end, Parliament has adopted a resolution which seeks to raise the European Union’s target for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from 20% to 30% by 2020. I voted in favour of this resolution because I feel that we have no more time to lose and that if we delay and prevaricate further, we will miss our chance. The European Union needs to be the driving force within the international community if we are to achieve real results.

 
  
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  Françoise Grossetête (PPE ), in writing. (FR) I voted against the final adoption of this resolution.

The unrealistic nature of the objectives that have been voted on is striking.

The EU’s unilateral adoption of an objective for reducing emissions by 30% by 2020 would have grave repercussions in France in terms of competitiveness and jobs.

There are too many uncertain factors weighing on the negotiations for the EU to set itself such restrictive objectives. Last year, Europe made the mistake of believing that it could impose its vision of things on its partners during Copenhagen. If the EU makes these mistakes again, there will not even be any question of it participating at the negotiating table.

We will only be able to talk of 30% when an international agreement on this figure is concluded.

 
  
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  Sylvie Guillaume (S&D ), in writing. (FR) I voted in favour of the resolution on the Cancún climate change conference because now more than ever, in the wake of the failure of the Copenhagen Summit, the European Union needs to be united in pushing for tough targets. In particular, the text sets out a target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the EU by 30% by 2020, with a view to limiting the global temperature rise to 2 °C. A realistic document, the resolution takes into account the fact that Member States have a ‘common but differentiated responsibility’ which reflects their development and growth. It also proposes the creation of a ‘green climate fund’ which could be used to provide funding where required, with priority given to vulnerable countries.

 
  
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  Romana Jordan Cizelj (PPE ), in writing. (SL) I have voted against the resolution. My explanation: was it even possible to count all the voices in the European Parliament that demanded that the EU speak with one voice in Cancún? Today’s vote has demonstrated that Parliament is still unable to do so. One of the key negotiating positions of the EU is that we should not accept any new commitments unilaterally. Parliament has rejected this by a slight majority. That is why I voted against the resolution. I hope that Commissioner Hedegaard will stick with the positions which have previously been agreed.

 
  
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  Dan Jørgensen (S&D ), in writing. (DA) The Danish Social Democrats have abstained from voting on the obligation for a 40% reduction. The Social Democrats support 40% in principle, but in this particular vote, they chose to support 30% as a result that is achievable in practice. This is also reflected in the final result.

 
  
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  Karin Kadenbach (S&D ), in writing. (DE) I regret the fact that, in the context of the resolution on the climate conference, the call for a global tax on financial transactions, the revenue from which could be used, among other things, to combat deforestation and desertification, did not receive the support of the majority in the European Parliament. Unfortunately, the conservative majority did not follow the recommendations of the social democrats on this issue. I am pleased that we have adopted the target of limiting global warming to a minimum of 2 °C, without ruling out from the negotiations the possibility of limiting the temperature rise to 1.5 °C, in order to be able to ensure the survival of all countries, peoples and ecosystems.

 
  
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  Alan Kelly (S&D ), in writing. – Climate change is a real and immediate challenge that the countries of Europe are facing. It is vital that there is a worldwide decision made quickly that may help stem the worst results of climate change. Therefore, I would like to see progress at the Cancún conference.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D ), in writing. – I voted for this resolution, which sets out Parliament’s position in advance of the Cancún climate change conference. It emphasises that substantive steps need to be agreed in Cancún to pave the way for the conclusion of a comprehensive international post-2012 agreement in South Africa in 2011, which should be in line with the latest developments in science and consistent with at least achieving the 2 ºC objective, without prejudice to moving to a 1.5 ºC temperature increase limit in order to safeguard the survival of all nations, peoples and ecosystems. It calls on the European Union once again to take a leading role in the climate negotiations and to actively contribute to a more constructive and transparent climate conference in Cancún.

 
  
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  Mario Mauro (PPE ), in writing. (IT) I voted in favour of the motion for a resolution on the run-up to the climate conference to be held in Cancún from 29 November to 11 December, essentially because we need to arrive in Mexico with a clear, well-defined common position. I welcome the European Union’s constructive attitude in agreeing to consider a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol. However, it should not budge one inch on the conditions put forward regarding emissions. None of the actors in the international community should ever think of leaving Europe to its own devices, in the hope that it will solve the whole world’s problems by itself.

 
  
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  Jean-Luc Mélenchon (GUE/NGL ), in writing. (FR) This resolution accepts some of the arguments made at the Cochabamba Summit. I am very pleased about that, and I am astonished that it is not cited at all in the resolution. It proposes to define and to apply the principle of climate justice and recognises, without citing it, the climate debt owed by the northern countries to the southern countries. The objectives that it proposes in relation to reducing greenhouse gas emissions are in accordance with those stated by the IPCC.

Moderation in energy, whatever the word used, is finally on the agenda. If the pollution rights exchange known as the ‘carbon market’ and the establishment of a ‘global carbon market’ were not one of the main pillars of this resolution, I would have been able to give it my vote.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE ), in writing. (PT) Once again, there are great hopes surrounding the climate change conference in Cancún. The countries with the greatest responsibility must continue to work towards reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. This problem, which is a matter of concern all over the world, needs a fast solution.

The EU must be capable of taking a leading role in the fight against climate change. Every country, from the US to the so-called emerging countries, including China, which are heavy polluters, must also accept its responsibilities in a fight that is leaving less and less room for new opportunities. The sustainable future of humanity is at stake. If nothing is done in time, we could reach the point of no return.

 
  
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  Andreas Mölzer (NI ), in writing. (DE) During the forthcoming climate conference in Cancún, globally binding limits are to be agreed for CO2 greenhouse gas emissions because the previous Kyoto protocol runs out in 2012. While the European Union is working to reduce CO2 emissions by 20% by the end of the decade, Parliament is actually looking for a 30% reduction. We have not succeeded in achieving our climate targets to date, a situation that will not improve by setting a higher percentage reduction. This is particularly the case when emissions trading simply allowed some of the emissions to be moved elsewhere.

Here in Europe, we have a high level of environmental awareness, something that is not the case in some of the so-called emerging economies. One only has to think of China or India, for example. I am quite sceptical in relation to the system used to date. My scepticism stems mainly from the fact that more nuclear power stations are to be built in order to reduce CO2 emissions. This would simply mean jumping out of the frying pan into the fire. I simply cannot support such a proposal.

 
  
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  Radvilė Morkūnaitė-Mikulėnienė (PPE ), in writing. (LT) Climate change is one of the greatest environmental problems of our time and, in turn, is also causing numerous natural disasters. Some time ago, we committed ourselves to reducing the emission of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. However, it seems that we may not achieve the targets set. On the other hand, no targets can be reached until the world’s major polluters join the EU. Therefore, it is irresponsible to set even greater targets until less ambitious targets have been achieved. Furthermore, if we begin to reach higher targets, we will ram ourselves into a corner – as it has to comply with more stringent requirements, EU industry will be unable to compete on a level playing field with industry in countries that do not set such stringent requirements. Therefore, although setting ambitious targets makes us leaders in the fight against climate change, it by no means contributes to the EU’s objective of becoming the world’s most competitive region. I voted against the final document because, while I have no doubt that the EU can lead the way in terms of reducing climate change and we all know our commitments to nature, we must set goals that are as realistic as possible and move towards them in a consistent manner.

 
  
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  Franz Obermayr (NI ), in writing. (DE) The fact that the European economy had to cut back on its production on account of the crisis, resulting in reduced levels of emissions, is not an argument for the 30% reduction in CO2 emissions being called for by the EU Climate Action Commissioner, Mrs Hedegaard, now that the 20% reduction can easily be achieved as a result of the economic crisis. However, climate protection can only succeed if it is carried out globally. There is little point in reducing CO2 emissions throughout the EU while, at the same time, shifting industries that are harmful to the climate and the hazardous waste from industrial nations to developing countries. On the other hand, restrictive EU measures hold our economy back and impede our companies in international competition. Therefore, we should say ‘yes’ to climate protection, but not at the expense of our companies and not if we are the only ones taking the measures. I therefore voted against this motion for a resolution.

 
  
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  Alfredo Pallone (PPE ), in writing. (IT) I voted in favour of the motion for a resolution on the climate change conference in Cancún so that Europe may express its support for the climate change agreements in a conference of international importance. The European Parliament hopes that the Heads of State or Government will give the greatest priority to the issue and agree on specific measures in which the EU itself can play a leading role by emphasising our commitment to the Kyoto Protocol. Global warming is now scientifically proven, and so the target must be to stabilise global greenhouse gas emissions no later than by 2015 in order to halve emissions by 2050. This will keep the temperature rise down to below 2 °C, thus saving countries, populations and ecosystems.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE ), in writing. (PT) The climate change conference in Cancún (COP 16) is crucial for all Europeans and for people all over the world. We need a responsible and ambitious policy at this level from all political players. The European Union has a key role and must lead ambitions on climate change.

In view of this, I voted against Parliament’s resolution as I believe that the targets it sets out are not ambitious enough. Indeed, I cannot accept a target above 1.5 °C in a future comprehensive international post-2012 agreement in South Africa, given the latest developments in science. Regarding the commitments on reducing emissions, the increase must also remain below 1.5 °C, which requires that global greenhouse gas emissions peak by 2015 at the latest and are reduced by at least 50% as compared with 1990 by 2050, and continue to decline thereafter.

These are not mere percentages, but targets that have been scientifically researched as possible and vital in order to create a decisive turning point in the path that we have gone down towards the destruction of significant parts of our planet’s biodiversity.

 
  
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  Rovana Plumb (S&D ), in writing. (RO) I voted for this resolution in the firm conviction that we are going to achieve a different result this year in Cancún. Learning from the positive outcome in Nagoya in October and the negative experience from Copenhagen in 2009, I think that the EU will speak with a single voice. Based on its mandate, the EU and its Member States must continue to play a constructive role globally in order to achieve a legally binding post-Kyoto agreement. NGOs and civil society must be fully involved in this agreement so that it is implemented properly and greater transparency achieved. This is why I welcome the fact that 5 000 representatives of civil society have registered to attend the COP 16 proceedings.

 
  
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  Paulo Rangel (PPE ), in writing. (PT) I voted in favour of this resolution as I believe that the European Union should demonstrate its strong commitment and determination in the context of the global effort to find solutions that can mitigate climate change and its effects.

 
  
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  Frédérique Ries (ALDE ), in writing. (FR) Let us say straight away that the Cancún climate change conference is not going to be a success. There is good reason for this pessimism, given the real lack of will displayed in these last few months by the main protagonists, the United States and China foremost among them, without whom a quantified and binding agreement cannot be envisaged. For all that, it is not necessarily the case that Cancún will be an exact copy of Copenhagen and will cause as much disappointment among citizens. In the resolution adopted at noon today, the European Parliament reminded us that we should aim for the objective of a 1.5 °C temperature rise limit in order to ensure the survival of all nations, all peoples and all ecosystems. This is a question of responsibility with regard to future generations. The resolution reminds us that in order to be credible, the European Union must not only honour its commitments to provide USD 30 billion of aid to the poorest countries for the period 2010-2012, but also show imagination in order to save the planet. It must also provide new sources of financing: a tax on financial transactions, international taxes on business, national taxes on emissions and contributions on air tickets, proposals that I and 292 other MEPs supported.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE ), in writing . − The ENVI resolution was fairly narrowly adopted (final vote 292/274/38) with the following changes/remarks: the reference to ‘without prejudice to moving to a 1.5 ºC limit’ was deleted with a narrow majority (RCV Amendment 14 and Amendment 18: 307/304/xx); the explicit mention that LULUCF and AAU loopholes could nullify all Annex I targets was deleted (Amendment 16: 316/301/xx), but other paragraphs requiring robust rules that are designed to deliver emissions reductions from Annex I remained. Without an electronic check a paragraph repeating the UNFCCC 4AR science and 40% was said to have been defeated (although in a separate vote on the same paragraph the part about 40% being required by science for +2 °C had been maintained). The paragraph reiterating ‘the need to adopt a domestic greenhouse gas emissions reduction target for the European Union of 30% by 2020 as compared with the 1990 level, in the interests of the future economic growth of the European Union’ was maintained (PPE Amendment 20 rejected by RCV: 298/316/xx). All in all it remains a good resolution, containing many good messages regarding the Kyoto Protocol, limits to offsets and criticism of LULUCF and AAU loopholes as well as strong language on the historical responsibility of industrialised countries and the need to finance developing country climate efforts.

 
  
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  Peter Skinner (S&D ), in writing. – As the move towards the conference gathers pace, it is clear that a real chance exists for the EU to make a positive contribution in Cancún. Having listened to the Chair of the Committee, Jo Leinen, I am convinced that at its heart, a multilateral agreement can only be reached if the suspicion of BRIC countries can be removed. Similarly, the commitments of many countries to meeting contributions towards helping developing nations has to be driven forward at the conference.

 
  
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  Alf Svensson (PPE ), in writing. (SV) During yesterday’s vote in the European Parliament, I voted in favour of the resolution on the climate change conference in Cancún (COP 16). The reason I did this is that the resolution deals with an extremely important subject – the fact that the EU must demonstrate shrewd political leadership in the climate negotiations. Developing countries are affected particularly badly and therefore, world leaders must do their utmost to ensure that the climate negotiations do not jeopardise the Millennium Development Goals. However, I would like to emphasise in particular that I voted against the wording in the resolution that urges the EU, in the negotiations, to propose a tax rate of 0.01% on financial transactions. This sort of tax is not the right way to go and it will not help the developing countries to combat and adapt to climate change.

 
  
  

Motion for a resolution (B7-0675/2010 )

 
  
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  Sophie Auconie (PPE ), in writing. (FR) There have been further serious incidents in Western Sahara recently. This territory, which was under Spanish administration until 1976, is still the subject of considerable tension between the Moroccan authorities and the independence movement. Located between the Atlantic, Mauritania and southern Morocco, Western Sahara has been divided between the latter two countries since Spain’s withdrawal. The resolution proposed by some of my fellow Members regarding the tragic events on 24 October 2010 was produced as a matter of urgency even though a degree of hindsight is essential in such cases. I have therefore chosen to abstain from the vote and will monitor the ongoing investigation closely.

 
  
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  Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D ), in writing. (LT) I support this resolution. After more than 30 years, the Western Sahara decolonisation process remains unfinished. The human rights situation, the acts of violence in the civilian camp, and the ongoing conflict and the consequences of this conflict on the whole region are cause for concern. I share the concern expressed in the resolution over the attacks on the freedom of the press and information that many European journalists also endured. There must therefore be an independent international investigation under the auspices of the UN to explain the deaths and disappearances of civilians. It is also important to establish a human rights monitoring mechanism, release human rights activists and grant the press, independent observers and humanitarian organisations free access to Western Sahara.

 
  
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  Maria Da Graça Carvalho (PPE ), in writing. (PT) I support the United Nations investigation into the issue of Western Sahara, and its position that Morocco should allow journalists, independent observers and humanitarian organisations free access to this particular region. I am aware that Morocco is a strategic partner and ally of the European Union in combating radical Islamic fundamentalism.

However, I do not accept the Moroccan authorities’ attitude towards the serious, violent incidents that took place in the Gdaim Izyk camp in Western Sahara on 8 November, which caused the death of an as yet unknown number of people. I am glad to be a member of an institution like Parliament, which has the protection and promotion of human rights as one of its basic principles. In view of this, I recognise the need to call upon UN agencies to propose the creation of a mechanism to monitor human rights in Western Sahara. I congratulate the UN Secretary-General and his personal envoy on their efforts to find a just, lasting and mutually acceptable political solution allowing for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE ), in writing. (PT) The situation of Western Sahara has been dragging on for more than 30 years without any apparent solution. Along with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the conflict in Cyprus, it is part of a group of cases that are proving difficult to resolve and are lasting a long time. Despite some individual initiatives for opening channels of dialogue, which are to be welcomed, today it seems clear that the opposing parties have not yet been able to take concrete steps towards a negotiated solution to the conflict. The recent news of incidents that have taken place at the Gdaim Izyk camp are causing major concerns regarding respect for the human rights of the people of Western Sahara by the Moroccan authorities, and hints at a disturbing upsurge in this conflict. I hope there will be a definitive end to this problem, and that a political and administrative solution can be found to the conflict, in order to reconcile the interests of the parties.

 
  
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  Ilda Figueiredo (GUE/NGL ), in writing. (PT) We are pleased that Parliament has strongly condemned the violent incidents that took place in the Gdaim Izyk camp in Western Sahara on 8 November, which caused the death of an unknown number of people.

We hope that the Commission and the Council will demand the measures that are proposed here, stressing the need for UN bodies to propose the creation of a monitoring mechanism for human rights in Western Sahara and demand compliance with the resolutions that have already been adopted, including self-determination for the people of Western Sahara.

As it says in the resolution, ‘the United Nations would be the most appropriate body to conduct an independent international inquiry in order to clarify the events, the deaths and the disappearances’.

The attacks on the freedom of the press and information that many European journalists have suffered are also regrettable, and the Kingdom of Morocco should be urged to permit free access and free movement in Western Sahara for the press, independent observers and humanitarian organisations.

Finally, we would like to stress the importance of increasing funding and supplying the humanitarian aid needed by the Sahrawi refugees who live in the Tindouf region, whose numbers are estimated at between 90 000 and 165 000, with a view to providing their basic necessities of food, water, shelter and medical care, as well as an improvement in their living conditions.

 
  
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  Lorenzo Fontana (EFD ), in writing. (IT) The self-determination of peoples has always been a priority for the Northern League. Today, we are voting on a motion for a resolution that aims to guarantee respect for human rights and acceptable socio-economic conditions for the people of Western Sahara. We condemn the violent and unjustified reaction of the Moroccan Government, which bloodily put down a peaceful and democratic protest demonstration. We therefore call on the Commission and the Council to suspend negotiations on the association agreement between the EU and Morocco. I give my full support to the resolution based on these premises.

 
  
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  Richard Howitt (S&D ), in writing. – I was delighted to be able to co-author, on behalf of the S&D Group, Parliament’s resolution on Western Sahara. I am dismayed that protests in Western Sahara have been met by a violent clampdown by the authorities and I share the fears expressed in this resolution for the safety of Sahrawi human rights defenders. The situation in Western Sahara remains one of the final vestiges of decolonisation and, after 30 years, needs to be resolved. I welcome the call in this resolution for a just, lasting and mutually acceptable political solution in full accordance with the UN Security Council resolutions, and I would once again echo the UN in urging that there must be a referendum of the people in the region.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D ), in writing. – I voted for this resolution on the unfortunate situation in Western Sahara. I am shocked by the violent incidents which took place in the Camp of Gdaim Izyk and in the town of Laâyoune, as well as by the use of force on the very same day on which the third cycle of informal talks on the status of Western Sahara opened in New York. I deplore the loss of human life and express my solidarity with the families of the dead, the injured and the disappeared and urge the setting up, under the aegis of the United Nations, of an independent and transparent committee of inquiry with a mandate to establish the responsibilities of the various parties for triggering the aforementioned events, and to indicate what casualties occurred. I am also astonished that European parliamentarians and journalists were refused access to Western Sahara and call on the Moroccan authorities to allow the press and non-governmental organisations access to the region.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE ), in writing. (PT) The situation in Western Sahara is very worrying, and Parliament should give a clear signal that it condemns what is happening there. Acts of violence on both sides need to stop in order to make way for transparent dialogue in good faith, putting an end to a conflict which has already caused too many deaths and is still resulting in large numbers of displaced people and refugees. The EU must continue to make an effort to provide humanitarian aid to these refugees so that they have the basic conditions for survival.

 
  
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  Willy Meyer (GUE/NGL ), in writing. (ES) I voted in favour of this resolution because it sends a loud, clear message reinforcing the right of the Sahrawi people to self-determination, and condemns the atrocities committed by the Moroccan Government. It is positive because it condemns Morocco’s violence in dismantling the Sahrawi Dignity Camp, the death of the young Nayem El-Garhi and the information blockade to which the occupying force is subjecting the Western Sahara, preventing journalists, NGOs and elected officers from gaining access to the area. Although my group had asked for the EU’s association agreement with Morocco to be frozen due to infringement of the second clause, I have given my support to this resolution because it demands an international investigation conducted by the United Nations, it calls on Morocco to ‘abide by international law regarding the exploitation of the natural resources of Western Sahara’ and ‘insists on the necessity to call on UN bodies to propose the setting up of a human rights monitoring mechanism in Western Sahara’. For all these reasons, even though I would have liked a firmer and clearer condemnation, I voted in favour.

 
  
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  Alfredo Pallone (PPE ), in writing. (IT) The reason why I voted in favour of this resolution on the current situation in Western Sahara is rooted in the commitment that has always been shown, with particular emphasis on the way the conflict between Morocco and the Polisario Front over Western Sahara has developed, above all, because of the obvious implications of that problem for stability in the region.

Clearly, Morocco has been invited on several occasions to maintain an open, flexible dialogue with no preconditions in order to obtain small but significant steps forward in the peace talks brokered by the United Nations. I personally have always supported the efforts made by the UN and its envoy, Mr Ross, aimed at holding bilateral political, negotiated and sustainable talks between the two parties.

In many EU countries, including Italy, there is widespread sensitivity and awareness regarding the conditions in which the Sahrawi people live, with particular understanding for Morocco’s positions and points of view. The Union, particularly the Mediterranean countries, has always been to the fore in terms of giving the Sahrawi people humanitarian aid, because the principle of solidarity towards people living in such problem circumstances is fundamental.

I voted as I did with a view to achieving a gradual improvement in the current situation through a reciprocal commitment to cooperation and dialogue.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE ), in writing. (PT) I supported this resolution as I believe that the fight for human rights is crucial. There have been reports from Western Sahara of instances of police violence against citizens who were holding a non-violent protest camp outside the city of Laâyoune against the social, political and economic situation and against their living conditions. The police forces used tear gas and batons against the demonstrators in order to evacuate the camp.

This is more than a political issue with a neighbouring state. We are looking at a violation of human rights that we must all condemn, without exception, and so I am voting in favour of this resolution and adding my voice to those of my fellow Members in urging all parties to remain calm and refrain from all acts of violence.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE ), in writing. (ES) Following the multiple attempts by the Moroccan regime to prevent Parliament from expressing its opinion on the human rights situation in the Western Sahara, we must welcome the fact that on this occasion, the Moroccan lobby has failed. I consider the constant interference by Morocco to be unacceptable. Likewise, the text of the resolution is just a compromise between positions that are based on very different analyses. I therefore wish to state our group’s position in favour of the Sahrawi people, and specifically our condemnation of the provocative and irresponsible way in which the Gdaim Izyk camp was dismantled. We cannot place those who attack, torture and massacre on the same level as those who seek to defend themselves. There needs to be an independent investigation, and freedom of access and movement needs to be given to those responsible for the media and information. The EU, and especially Spain and France, must assume their historical responsibility and demand that Morocco ceases its inhibiting and intransigent attitude, even by freezing the numerous trade agreements and special relationships that exist between the EU and the Kingdom of Morocco, and by doing everything possible to ensure that the referendum on self-determination included in numerous United Nations resolutions is held.

 
  
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  Marie-Thérèse Sanchez-Schmid (PPE ), in writing. (FR) The violent incidents that occurred in Western Sahara as the Gdaim Izyk camp was being dismantled and in the town of Laâyoune are very serious and must be roundly condemned. The European Parliament is quite right to express its concerns about how the situation in the region has deteriorated. As the United Nations has pointed out, the parties involved in the conflict need to agree to seek a realistic political solution that is fair, sustainable, acceptable to both sides and in line with the relevant UN Security Council resolutions. However, it is unfortunate that the text was produced before Parliament had access to all of the facts and detailed information about the circumstances that triggered this tragedy, including the exact number of victims. Journalists, independent investigators, observers and political decision makers need to be given time and access to the town of Laâyoune and the refugee camps in order to shed light on the events. The distress of the Sahrawi people should in no way be exploited to incite further acts of violence.

 
  
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  Søren Bo Søndergaard (GUE/NGL ), in writing. – I voted in favour of the joint resolution on Western Sahara (B7-0675/2010 ). However, I strongly regret that the resolution fails to mention and criticise the illegal fisheries agreement between EU and Morocco, which allows European fishing fleets to operate in waters within the occupied Western Sahara territory.

 
  
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  Bart Staes (Verts/ALE ), in writing. (NL) I have voted in favour of the resolution on the situation in Western Sahara. This joint resolution sends out a strong signal from the European Parliament condemning the recent resurgence of violence in Western Sahara. On 8 November, the Sahrawi protest camps were violently broken up, as a result of which there were many deaths on both sides and many of the inhabitants injured. The camps were a sign of the Sahrawi people’s peaceful protest against the repression, marginalisation and plundering of their natural resources (including fish) which they have experienced and the poor conditions in which they have been living under the Moroccan occupation. The resolution calls for an immediate end to the violence and the establishment of an independent inquiry into the events at Gdaim Izyk and Laâyoune. There are calls for the Moroccan authorities to allow journalists, humanitarian organisations, MEPs and independent observers free access to Western Sahara.

The increased repression of human rights activists and Sahrawi activists by the Moroccan authorities (arbitrary arrests, charges and detention) is very worrying. These events will put a strain on the informal talks between Morocco and the Polisario Front which are scheduled to resume in early November under the auspices of the UN. However, a just and lasting political solution is necessary to improve the situation of the Sahrawi people.

 
  
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  Eva-Britt Svensson (GUE/NGL ), in writing. – I voted in favour of the joint resolution on Western Sahara, B7-0675/2010 . However, I find it extremely regrettable that the resolution fails to mention and criticise the illegal fisheries agreement between the EU and Morocco, which allows European fishing fleets to operate in waters within the occupied Western Sahara territory.

 
  
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  Dominique Vlasto (PPE ), in writing . (FR) Like my fellow Members, I have to condemn the recent events in Western Sahara and would like to extend my support and sympathy to all the victims’ families. That said, I have chosen not to vote in favour of the resolution as it contains a number of factual errors, omits vital information and does not present an objective picture of the violence that occurred on 8 November 2010. The wording of the resolution should have been marked by diplomacy combined with practical and indisputable facts. Instead, this unbalanced text contains a hasty and ill-informed assessment of the situation and, without giving any reasons, dismisses out of hand the independent investigation being conducted by the Moroccan authorities. I am disappointed with this biased statement which was produced in haste – it will hamper the informal negotiations being held at the UN between the Kingdom of Morocco and the Polisario Front and has generated tension on the ground. We have lost sight of where our priorities should lie, namely seeking a balanced and mutually acceptable agreement between the two parties that will allow the civilian population to see stability and security restored. We must, at all costs, avoid the creation of a new front in the much-contested Sahel region and seek to preserve our strategic partnership with Morocco.

 
  
  

Motion for a resolution (B7-0650/2010 )

 
  
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  Sophie Auconie (PPE ), in writing. (FR) Ukraine has become a major geopolitical issue for Europe since the dissolution of the USSR. Having regained its independence, Russia still considers it part of the ‘near abroad’ region. In wishing to take full advantage of its autonomy and focus on its strong historic links with the European Union, Ukraine has, for some time, expressed its intention of joining the European Union. As a country with vast natural resources situated at the heart of a key strategic region, Ukraine should be seen as a potential lynchpin for the European Union. I voted in favour of the European Parliament resolution which welcomes Ukraine’s European outlook. The resolution refers to the progress that is still needed in this fragile democracy. It also highlights the efforts made and significant advances achieved in recent times. The resolution is measured in tone but confirms that Ukraine has a European future.

 
  
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  Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D ), in writing. (LT) I support this resolution. There is concern that democratic freedoms, such as freedom of assembly, freedom of expression and freedom of the media, have come under threat in Ukraine in recent months. The authorities should investigate reports of infringements of rights and freedoms and take measures to remedy them. Furthermore, it is important for the authorities to refrain from any attempts to control, directly or indirectly, the content of the reporting in the national media. Election rules remain an ongoing subject of discussion. Therefore, it is necessary to take active steps to improve the election system and legislation in this area prior to the forthcoming Parliamentary elections. Moreover, there is a need to strengthen the credibility, stability and independence of institutions and ensure that the governance of the state is based on the principles of democracy and the rule of law. The Ukrainian authorities must also make more efforts to combat corruption.

 
  
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  Vilija Blinkevičiūtė (S&D ), in writing. (LT) I agree with Parliament’s resolution on further action by Ukraine to achieve political stability both within the country and beyond its borders. Ukraine is an important partner of the European Union for the implementation of the European Neighbourhood Policy with Eastern Europe. Therefore, it is crucial to continue to seek close cooperation, especially in the area of visa requirements. Parliament calls on the Commission and the Council to draft an action plan on establishing visa-free travel for Ukraine. In order to ensure long-term political stability both within the country and with neighbouring countries, it is important to implement constitutional reforms, which would help establish an appropriate balance between the executive and the judicial system. Further reforms are also necessary in order to strengthen media freedom and pluralism. State institutions are urged to take measures to ensure freedom of the press. The European Union is firmly committed to helping Ukraine implement its reforms. The European Union therefore continues to seek close cooperation with Ukraine, strengthening democracy in this country and accelerating its integration into the European Union.

 
  
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  Maria Da Graça Carvalho (PPE ), in writing. (PT) I am critical of the local elections that took place on 31 October in Ukraine and would like the freedom of the press to be respected. I deplore the last-minute change to the election rules prior to 31 October, along with the fact that the opposition parties were not allowed to put up candidates in the constituencies. I agree with Parliament that restricting democratic standards should not be tolerated, and that freedom of expression should be upheld. I would like to join with Parliament in condemning the government in Kiev for its failure in this sensitive matter.

 
  
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  Lara Comi (PPE ), in writing. (IT) In Slavonic languages, ‘Ukraine’ means ‘border country’. For the Russians, it was always a remote province, and now Ukraine is a border country for the European Union as well, as a result of the last but one enlargement.

For once, however, we do not want the name of a place to hold the fate of its people. With the caution that respect for the democratic will of a people requires, the European Union is being consistent with its role as a global player by offering itself as a guarantor of freedom, democracy and pluralism in a situation in which respect for such values may enable the country to achieve the stability that it badly needs.

The enlargement process not only entails assessments of a strategic and commercial nature – although these aspects must also be seen as relevant – but, most of all, a constant, peaceful effort to expand the cultural sphere with reference to the universe of values that the EU represents.

For the last six years – ever since the Orange Revolution, which has its anniversary in a few weeks’ time – the country has been going through a period of democratic stabilisation. We hope that our presence as a physical neighbour will provide support for a genuine democratic conscience to form and to be respected.

 
  
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  Mário David (PPE ), in writing. (PT) I am voting in favour of this motion for a resolution. Relations between the European Union and Ukraine, one of the Union’s main partners among its neighbours to the east, are markedly important for stability, security and prosperity throughout Europe. Aware that they share responsibilities in promoting stability, the EU and Ukraine have been stepping up negotiations and looking to arrange new cooperation partnerships. These go beyond mere economic cooperation, as they also cover the areas of the rule of law and respect for human rights, where much remains to be done in Ukraine, as this recent setback to the electoral process has demonstrated.

I would also like to highlight the extreme importance of Ukraine’s European integration process for it to carry out the necessary economic, social and political reforms. In the light of this, I believe that the conclusion of the association agreement is particularly pertinent with a view to the effective implementation of the EU-Ukraine association agenda.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE ), in writing. (PT) Despite the initial actions of President Yanukovych and the subsequent statements by the Ukrainian authorities about Ukraine’s willingness to join the EU, to adopt European models for good governance, and to respect the human rights and civil liberties of its people, some caution is inevitably needed. In fact, there are increasing reports of setbacks in freedoms of expression and association, along with political influence in the media and judicial authorities, as well as the actions of the security services. I believe that if Ukraine is faithful to the promises of its political leaders, it would be able to begin along the path to membership, the first step of which should be to institutionalise freedom and the rule of law.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE ), in writing. (PT) I believe that Ukraine is one of the EU’s crucial strategic partners, so I have to express my concern at the excessive powers granted to the security services to intimidate non-governmental organisations operating in the country and to control the Ukrainian media. It is also worth pointing out the importance of allowing the Ukrainian opposition parties to take part in the elections without restrictions or discrimination. I believe that we can only maintain our support for the prospect of Ukraine’s European integration to ensure a strategic partnership with the country insofar as it takes on board the recommendations of this resolution.

 
  
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  Tunne Kelam (PPE ), in writing. – I voted for the resolution on Ukraine. However, I regret the fact that this House has postponed the vote already two times, which has resulted in a situation that the EU-Ukraine summit, for which the resolution was drafted, has taken place before our vote. The European Parliament has seen it as its duty and privilege to take its own position before regular summit meetings with third countries to be able to convey its position in time to both parties. The impact of a resolution adopted afterwards will be much weaker. If such a delay was meant by some colleagues as an attempt not to disturb too much the new Ukrainian administration, it is certainly a short-sighted policy.

The EU is, and will be, open to all fields of cooperation, but the price of that cooperation can never be looking aside from the alarming attempts to destroy the major achievements of the Orange revolution – free elections and freedom of media. I support the statement by Commissioner Gucht yesterday that there are common European principles on which we cannot compromise.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D ), in writing. – I voted for this resolution on Ukraine. I welcome the efforts made by the current governing coalition to re-establish political stability in Ukraine, which is an essential condition for the consolidation of democracy in the country. A lasting political stability can only be ensured through constitutional changes that establish a clear separation of powers, as well as a proper system of checks and balances between and within the executive, legislative and judicial branches of power.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE ), in writing. (PT) In view of the statements by the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe/Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (OSCE/ODIHR) Election Observation Mission, which considered that international standards had largely been met, the recent elections held in Ukraine are a sign that this country is continuing to develop positively by moving towards future integration into the EU. However, it is crucial that the Ukrainian politicians and authorities are committed to bringing about political and economic stabilisation soon. For this to be achieved, the necessary constitutional reforms must be implemented, with consolidation of the rule of law, the establishment of a social market economy and renewed efforts to combat corruption and improve the climate for business and investment.

 
  
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  Justas Vincas Paleckis (S&D ), in writing. (LT) The recent local elections in Ukraine extended the influence of President Viktor Yanukovych’s party to the regions. Unfortunately, changes to the electoral system several months prior to the elections, partly switching it back to a majority system, have driven an even bigger wedge between the government and the opposition and have formed the basis for accusations against the government of undemocratic intentions. The resolution also expresses concern at the recent increase in violations of freedom of expression and freedom of assembly and restrictions on freedom of the media. I voted for the adoption of the resolution because it calls on Ukraine, which, in the long-term, is aiming for EU Membership, to adopt legislation governing media activities that complies with international standards and underlines the need to strengthen the independence and effectiveness of state institutions. This is the only way to guarantee the functioning of democracy and the rule of law in the country. I support the calls made by the resolution’s authors for Kiev to continue to modernise energy supply infrastructure and to implement projects for the diversification of energy sources alongside EU Member States. I welcome the action plan on visa liberalisation which lays down practical guidelines for its swift implementation: improving the rule of law in Ukraine and implementing fundamental rights.

 
  
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  Alfredo Pallone (PPE ), in writing. (IT) I believe that improving relations with a neighbouring state – an Eastern Partnership state in this case – entering into trade agreements, increasing information exchange, and helping citizens to travel within the various countries, is a fundamental area that the EU must never give up on. I voted in favour of the motion for a resolution on Ukraine for this reason. I fully agree with the contents of the resolution which, with the implementation of the Action Plan, will establish conditions for liberalising short-stay visas in the EU and reinforce the Union’s position with regard to the country’s democratic development after the recent local elections. The resolution will also allow Ukraine to take part in Union programmes and will define the implementation of new laws on gas now that Kiev has joined the Energy Community.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE ), in writing. (PT) The new political context and institutional framework in Ukraine, as well as the readiness of newly elected President Viktor Yanukovych and the Ukrainian Parliament (Verkhovna Rada) to confirm Ukraine’s determination to join the European Union, are another step towards starting the accession process.

Under Article 49 of the Treaty on European Union, Ukraine may apply for membership of the EU, as can any European state that adheres to the principles of liberty, democracy, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms and the rule of law.

I voted in favour of this resolution, which identifies proposals to be communicated to the Ukrainian authorities. There is still some way to go towards institutional stability that recognises the full participation of all political players, leading to healthy transferrals of power. I hope that the strong historical, cultural and economic ties that the EU has with the Ukraine will be consolidated and will, in time, allow the entry of the Ukrainian people into the Union. In view of this, I would like to highlight the importance of strengthening cooperation as regards exchanges for young people and students and the development of scholarship programmes that will allow Ukrainians to become familiar with the EU and its Member States.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE ), in writing. (ES) This resolution is a relative consensus, stating that Ukraine, in accordance with Article 49 of the Treaty on European Union, may apply for accession to the EU like any other European country that supports the principles of freedom, democracy and respect for human rights, fundamental freedoms and the rule of law. It also stresses that Ukraine, which intends to join the European Union, has strong historical, cultural and economic links with the European Union and is one of its key partners among the neighbouring countries of the East, as it has a significant influence on the security, stability and prosperity of the whole continent.

 
  
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  Viktor Uspaskich (ALDE ), in writing. (LT) After the government elections in Kiev at the beginning of the year, most people thought that it was ‘the end’ of Ukraine. The point is that the new Ukrainian Government is more pragmatic and open to reforms than was expected. Close cooperation with Ukraine is important if there is at least the smallest chance of ensuring stability in the region. In recent years, Ukraine has turned into a political football pitch with a struggle between Russia and the West for influence during the Orange Revolution and the last elections. Whether Ukraine chooses Russia or the West is unimportant. Now, the EU has the opportunity to implement a new policy on Ukraine that would include Russia. My country, Lithuania, also has a role to play here.

Security and energy are two areas where there will need to be long-term cooperation to fix some of Kiev’s woes. However, as Ukraine makes efforts to modernise its economy and better integrate into Europe, it is important for democratic principles and human rights to be respected. Therefore, I sincerely hope that sustainable progress will be made at the EU-Ukraine summit in Brussels on 22 November.

 
  
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  Joachim Zeller (PPE ), in writing. (DE) The fall of the Soviet Union gave the people of Ukraine the first opportunity in their history to decide their future with freedom and national autonomy. The states and people of Europe owe a debt of solidarity and support to the great people of Ukraine, who paid an enormous price in the Stalinist period and in the Second World War, through the loss of many millions of lives. The Orange Revolution proved that the people of Ukraine wish to shape their future under democratic conditions where the rule of law is upheld. This is something that should never be forgotten by those in Ukraine who have political, economic and social responsibilities. The management of the recent regional elections and the events before and after the elections in Ukraine give one cause to wonder whether the actions of those with political responsibility in Ukraine really do reflect the principles of freedom, democracy and the rule of law. The present resolution amplifies the position of the European Parliament whereby Ukrainians can be sure of the solidarity of the people of Europe, while also calling on Ukraine’s politicians to respect the will of their people to live by democracy, freedom and the rule of law. As a signatory, I have voted in favour of this joint motion for a resolution.

 
  
  

Report: Yannick Jadot (A7-0310/2010 )

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D ), in writing. (PT) I voted in favour of this resolution as I believe that the European Union needs to take a leading role in combating climate change, thereby strengthening its economic competitiveness through energy saving and renewable energy, two sectors that can help improve its energy security and which have great potential in terms of industrial development, innovation, regional development and job creation.

Nevertheless, in order to carry out this role and reap the benefits of competitiveness, the EU will have to amend its trade policies, whether they are bilateral, regional or multilateral, as trade in goods and services is responsible for approximately 20% of global greenhouse gas emissions. It should encourage the paradigm shifts that are needed in methods of production and consumption and investment strategies. It should also be active with regard to emissions from international transport and to climate-friendly technologies. Despite the distance that the EU still has to go with this issue, important contributions have already been made, especially concerning illegal timber imports, biofuels and emissions in the aviation sector.

 
  
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  Elena Oana Antonescu (PPE ), in writing. (RO) The trade in goods and services generates around 20% of global greenhouse gas emissions. I am in favour of pursuing commercial policies aimed at differentiating between products and services based on their climate impact. I voted for this resolution as it identifies the next stages which will enable the European Union to continue along this path, strengthens the positive interaction between trade and climate protection and the tools ensuring consistency between trade and climate, and encourages fair international trade prices, thereby avoiding carbon leakage.

I want to emphasise that the European Union is unable to assume the leading role in the battle against climate change if it fails to strengthen the competitiveness of its economy through saving energy and developing renewable energy sources. These are two sectors which have massive potential in terms of industrial development, innovation, regional development and job creation, and which can increase Europe’s energy security.

 
  
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  Sophie Auconie (PPE ), in writing. (FR) At the UN summit on climate change in December 2009, the European Union was unfortunately unable to play the role it had hoped to. As a trailblazer on sustainable development issues, I feel it is important that the EU extend its commitments to include international trade policy. This is why, on the eve of the Cancún Summit, I and my fellow Members wanted to give a proactive mandate to the delegation that will be defending the European position. We call on the European Commission to distinguish between imported goods on the basis of their ecological footprint and to establish a carbon monitoring scheme for all trade policies. In view of the fact that combating climate change affects competitiveness, our resolution calls for all industrial sectors to be made aware of the danger of carbon leakage and for an end to subsidies on fossil fuels, particularly tax exemptions for the aviation industry.

 
  
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  Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D ), in writing. (LT) I voted for this resolution. In the fight against climate change, Europe’s priorities are energy savings and renewable energies. These help improve EU energy security and offer major potential in terms of industrial development, innovation, regional development and, with the development of green energy, job creation. However, this fight also has a negative impact on the competitiveness of the entire EU market. International trade rules are crucial in combating climate change, but the World Trade Organisation (WTO) agreement does not make direct reference to climate change, food security or the Millennium Development Goals. I feel that changes in WTO rules are needed to ensure coherence and consistency with the commitments under the Kyoto Protocol and multilateral environment agreements (MEAs). This would ensure that all countries adhere to the same standards, because currently, by subsidising energy prices and applying no restriction or no quota on CO2 emissions, certain countries have a greater competitive advantage and have no incentive to join the multilateral climate change agreements.

 
  
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  Vilija Blinkevičiūtė (S&D ), in writing. (LT) I voted for this report because it identifies strategic objectives and stages the European Union could continue to follow as it seeks a better agreement on climate change. I would like to underline that the European Union has already taken the first steps in the right direction: on imports of illegal timber, on agrifuels, and on aviation emissions. I would like to point out that combating climate change is a factor in competitiveness, with Europe's priorities being energy savings and renewable energies which help improve EU energy security and which offer major potential in terms of industrial development, innovation, regional development and job creation.

As the outcome of the UN climate summit in Copenhagen was a disappointing agreement, the European Union must now be more audible, united and effective. It should devote more attention to targets for reducing emissions and supporting developing countries that are up to the level of scientists’ recommendations and Parliament’s requests.

 
  
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  Alain Cadec (PPE ), in writing. (FR) Yannick Jadot’s report reminds us that trade in goods and services accounts for approximately 20% of global greenhouse emissions, a fact that should be taken into account in efforts to tackle climate change. Although the European Union has put ambitious climate policies in place, trade policies also need to reflect this political priority. I have to join the rapporteur in deploring the fact that countries which subsidise energy prices and fail to limit or apply quotas to CO2 emissions may enjoy a competitive advantage. It is a pity that these countries have no interest in subscribing to multilateral agreements on climate change and are therefore encouraging unfair competition. The European Union’s trade policy is not an end in itself – it must remain a political regulatory tool. We need to ensure fair competition and refuse to allow our efforts to address climate change to become a disadvantage in terms of world trade.

 
  
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  Lara Comi (PPE ), in writing. (IT) The European Union’s commitment to curb CO2 emissions cannot be advanced by statements of principle and ideological arguments. Whatever the consequences of the problem, and without considering the often radical solutions that come out of more or less well-founded studies, we have a responsibility not to cause the environment to change because we are not entirely sure what problems we will encounter.

Trade policies must play their part in this context. It is easy to ask the Member States to cut their emissions, but it is pointless if the most polluting production plants are relocated to countries outside our borders. It is politically convenient to promote campaigns about consuming local products, but it makes no sense if raw materials or intermediate products are sourced from the other side of the world in order to produce them. Acting responsibly also means fine-tuning trade policies on the basis of careful consideration of everything surrounding the issues. Shutting our eyes means deceiving ourselves most of all.

 
  
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  George Sabin Cutaş (S&D ), in writing. (RO) I voted for this resolution as I feel that the rapporteur’s text is veering towards the European Union assuming bold commitments in the battle against climate change. This resolution proposes an EU-level reduction of up to 30% in greenhouse gas emissions. I support this ambitious proposal, while believing that the EU’s efforts must be backed up globally by the efforts of the major industrialised countries. Indeed, we need to find a way to involve as well the international state actors which are more reluctant to follow our lead. In addition, as shadow rapporteur for the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament, I highlighted, by tabling amendments to the original text, the need to create a World Environmental Organisation and introduce environmental criteria in the reform of the GSP.

 
  
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  Marielle De Sarnez (ALDE ), in writing. (FR) The EU’s trade policies have an impact on the climate and the EU’s responsibilities cannot be limited to reducing greenhouse gas emissions produced within the Union. A large majority in the European Parliament voted in favour of this report, which seeks to improve the links between trade and climate action through proposals to discriminate against products in accordance with their environmental impact and to create a carbon monitoring scheme for all trade policies. It is a pity that the conservatives were unwilling to support some of the more ambitious proposals, but the adoption of this report nevertheless constitutes a clear call to make ecological considerations an integral part of our economy.

 
  
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  Edite Estrela (S&D ), in writing. (PT) I voted in favour of the report on ‘international trade policy in the context of climate change imperatives’ since, bearing in mind that trade in goods and services is responsible for approximately 20% of global greenhouse gas emissions, measures are required to curb global warming at the level of common trade policy.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE ), in writing. (PT) Following the stalemate of the Copenhagen climate change conference, it is important that the European Union continues along the route it has taken up to this point in terms of making a serious commitment to sustainable development and trying to reduce carbon emissions without jeopardising European industry. However, any European commitment to reduce emissions cannot lose sight of economic efficiency or jeopardise the economic sustainability of the Member States, which are currently undergoing an unprecedented economic crisis. We cannot allow increased technology transfer to developing countries to be a way of addressing carbon leakage, and we cannot let policies designed to reduce CO2 emissions condemn European industry.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE ), in writing. (PT) The outcome of the UN climate summit in Copenhagen was a disappointing agreement which will not be able to keep global warming below 2 °C. On top of that, it is neither global nor binding. The EU is far from being the main culprit for this failure. The EU has, instead, been a leader in combating climate change, and should be encouraged to build on this leadership, although without forgetting the tremendous efforts that our industries have already made in responding to the mandatory reductions in emissions within Europe.

It should be noted that the EU is responsible for around 15% of global emissions, and it is estimated that this percentage will fall to 10% in 2030, while the US, China and India are responsible for half of global emissions, with this figure continuing to rise. In terms of EU international trade policy in the context of climate change, even if others do not go along with us, our objective should be to focus our efforts on scientific research, technological innovation relating to non-carbon energy sources, energy efficiency and the creation of green jobs, in order to increase our competitiveness.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL ), in writing. (PT) Implementing most of the measures proposed in this report would not mean taking positive steps to combat climate change. On the contrary, supporting the Treaty of Lisbon and ‘free trade’, implementing palliative controls on the environmental degradation caused by the liberalisation of trade, will only exacerbate the environmental degradation that is increasingly threatening our planet and its people. What is at stake here is whether we accept the continuation of the unbridled exploitation of natural resources, workers and peoples in order to serve the dominant capitalist system, which is in permanent crisis. As far as we are concerned, we do not support it, and we are therefore against the following: continuing to insist on controlling emissions through the emissions trading scheme, which has shown that instead of reducing emissions, it increases them; greater opening up of the markets and the division of labour at global level, so that EU capital can get its hands on the resources of the countries of the developing world, thereby lowering costs and increasing profits; and green capitalism, which associates ‘climate protection and trade liberalisation’ and ‘trade in environmental goods and services’.

 
  
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  Elisabeth Köstinger (PPE ), in writing. (DE) The EU has a responsibility to incorporate aspects of environmental policy relating to trade into its international trade policy. I support the first steps in this direction already taken by the EU in its trade agreements. However, there is still more to be done. I was unable to give my support to Article 48, however. Agricultural subsidies are necessary for food security and independence for 500 million Europeans and, for me, this is of central importance. The subsidies also enable diversity in farming and contribute to landscape conservation.

 
  
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  Astrid Lulling (PPE ), in writing. (FR) I voted against the report on international trade policy in the context of climate change imperatives, as I do not agree at all with the rapporteur’s opinion and reasoning. Its demand to strengthen the objectives for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, regardless of the final results of the international negotiations, would put European businesses at a competitive disadvantage as a result. The rapporteur’s proposal to compensate for this disadvantage through protectionist measures such as a carbon tax at the Union’s borders and regulated minimum prices for CO2 would increase the competitive deficit compared with other sectors downstream from the industrial production chain. In addition, these measures would damage the Union’s external trade policy by making it more complicated to conclude future free trade agreements, whether bilateral or multilateral.

The Copenhagen conference a year ago showed that if the European Union moves forward unilaterally, its climate policy is doomed to failure. This is because its economic partners will not allow European objectives or methods to be dictated to them. The Union must support businesses in their efforts to reduce their energy consumption while maintaining their international competitiveness. A more pragmatic approach in international negotiations would be a start.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D ), in writing. – I welcome this report, which sets out how the EU’s trade policy might contribute to tackling climate change. Mr Jadot wants the EU to assume international leadership on this matter and examine the possibility of a financial transaction tax, reform of the WTO (particularly its anti-dumping rules), prevent the European Investment Bank from granting loans to projects that have a negative impact on the climate and end agricultural export subsidies – all of which I welcome.

 
  
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  Marisa Matias (GUE/NGL ), in writing. (PT) Trade in goods and services accounts for approximately 20% of global greenhouse gas emissions. In many Member States, consumption-related emissions are higher than levels of production-related emissions. The European Union has to fight these ‘traded’ emissions. This is the only way that we can effectively begin to combat climate change. The EU cannot, for example, fund efforts to combat deforestation while, at the same time, incentivising the importation of timber products and biofuels. The EU must transform its modes of production and consumption, and not restrict itself to outsourcing its emissions. The EU has to adjust its trade policies towards some form of discrimination of products on the basis of their climate impact, thus stimulating the paradigm shifts required in methods of production and consumption, and of investment strategies.

Our trade partners’ climate policies cannot be jeopardised in order to boost Europe’s market share. The EU must be active with regard to emissions from international transport and ensure access to climate-friendly technologies for developing countries. The report indicates this course of action, so I voted in favour.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE ), in writing. (PT) It is not easy to strike a balance between international trade policy and climate change imperatives, but an effort needs to be made to significantly reduce the levels of greenhouse gas emissions for which international trade bears responsibility. However, this cannot be done at the cost of the loss of competitiveness for European industry, especially at a time of severe economic crisis and rising unemployment. We need to establish policies that are environmentally friendly while also boosting the economy and reducing the alarming levels of unemployment.

 
  
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  Andreas Mölzer (NI ), in writing. (DE) This report is an attempt to find a solution to the problem of globalisation, a problem that the EU has itself created. Cheap products are produced in countries outside the European Union under completely different conditions and are then imported cheaply into Europe, putting pressure on European wage levels and weakening our economy.

This report deals with the much higher levels of CO2 produced as a result. However, it does not seek to impose an appropriate commercial disadvantage on the relevant products, but rather, on the contrary, favours giving away European technology and expertise to the world at large. This will do nothing to reduce the globalisation problem, but will instead make it much worse. It is for that reason that I have voted against this report.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE ), in writing. (PT) I voted in favour of Parliament’s resolution on international trade policy in the context of climate change imperatives, as I welcome the European Council’s ambitious goal of reducing Europe’s greenhouse gas emissions by between 80 and 95% by 2050 compared to their 1990 levels, this target being necessary for the EU to regain its leading role in climate-related matters, which should stimulate other countries to enter into more ambitious commitments.

I would like to underline the importance of reaching an internationally binding agreement on climate protection, and I strongly support the launching of a public debate on the establishment of a World Environmental Organisation. I also believe that it is vital to strengthen positive interaction between trade and climate protection, to make international trade prices fairer and avoid carbon leakage, to promote the differentiation of products according to their impact on the climate, to ensure that trade liberalisation does not jeopardise ambitious climate policies, to fully include transport in the trade and climate equation, and to strengthen tools to reconcile trade and climate and enhance EU consistency on climate and trade from the viewpoint of developing countries.

 
  
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  Rovana Plumb (S&D ), in writing. (RO) In order to play a leading role in the battle against climate change, the European Union must boost the competitiveness of its economy by saving energy and using renewable energy resources. These are two areas which can increase its energy security and offer a high level of potential in terms of industrial development, innovation, spatial development and job creation.

At the same time, the EU needs to modify all its trade policies, whether bilateral, regional or multilateral. This is necessary because trade in goods and services is responsible for around 20% of greenhouse gas emissions. This is a challenging project. However, the EU has already taken the first steps in the right direction with regard to illegal timber imports, biofuels and aviation emissions. The aim of this report, which is the product of numerous discussions held with businesses, associations, trade union representatives or with the Commission, is to identify the additional steps which would enable the EU to continue in this direction.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE ), in writing. (ES) The United Nations summit on climate change held in Copenhagen produced a disappointing agreement that is not capable of limiting global warming to below 2 °C. In the same way, the Copenhagen agreement is neither global nor binding. The EU is far from being mainly responsible for this failure, but its lack of unity, its inability to speak unanimously, its inability to bring the targets for reducing emissions and supporting developing countries in line with the scientific recommendations and Parliament’s requests often made it an inaudible and ineffective entity. Why are there so many problems? There is certainly not a single answer to that question, but a significant proportion of the problem is due to the fact that many countries have not yet experienced an environmental transformation of their economies on a large scale and continue to doubt the economic, social and democratic advantages. This is despite the large numbers of studies and successful experiences in terms of energy transition and more sustainable agriculture and transport systems.

 
  
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  Oreste Rossi (EFD ), in writing. (IT) We are strongly opposed to this report because we cannot accept its biased approach, which runs completely counter to the economic interests of our society and businesses. To think that Europe can solve the problem of CO2 emissions into the environment all by itself is a mere pipe dream. After calling for too much at the Copenhagen conference last year, we have not learnt the lesson and are again preparing a document that calls for too much, this time for the forthcoming climate change conference in Cancún. We are in no doubt as to the outcome if that text is adopted when it comes before this House: it will be thrown in the bin, just like the last one. This report seems to be trying to sketch out the main points of the next document to be prepared in connection with the climate change summit (COP 16).

 
  
  

Report: Yannick Jadot (A7-0310/2010 ) and motion for a resolution (RC-B7-0616/2010 )

 
  
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  Robert Goebbels (S&D ), in writing. (FR) I cannot follow the logic behind the work of the European Parliament on climate change. According to many MEPs, the Union should do more and more to reduce emissions – reductions of 30%, 40%, 50% – while in the meantime, we are failing to implement the famous 2020 strategy. All the more so as the rest of the world is failing to take note of the moves that Europe is making. At Copenhagen, ‘an agreement was reached between the Americans, the Chinese, the Indians, the Brazilians and the Africans’. The European Union was not even invited.

At Cancún, there will not be a ‘binding’ agreement on the famous CO2 certificates for the good reason that the legislators of the United States, Canada and Australia do not want one, and that China, India, Brazil and others will not allow themselves to be straitjacketed in such a way. The European Union should invest more in new technologies, and not in activities which only serve financial speculation.

 
  
  

Report: Harlem Désir (A7-0317/2010 )

 
  
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  Jean-Luc Bennahmias (ALDE ), in writing. (FR) Corporate social responsibility in international agreements takes us towards a better governance of the global economy, encourages a fairer, more social, more humane globalisation and aids sustainable development. At a time of globalisation, I support this proposal, which aims to make international business practices more moral.

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D ), in writing. (PT) Globalisation and the financial and social crisis have increased the need for more stringent rules for the world economy, as international trade policy is currently designed to serve only the interests of a few economic players, which have taken advantage of market liberalisation to externalise part of their production and to diversify their supply arrangements, drawing on countries where production costs are low and regulatory regimes are less stringent.

I therefore accept the principles proposed in this report, which are aimed at conducting trade in a manner consistent with the EU’s objectives, especially its foreign policy. This can be achieved through the implementation of corporate social and environmental responsibility in trade, so that they stop breaching the principles of social responsibility. This is a form of social dumping which must be regulated by agreeing the proposals in this report, especially those that relate to mechanisms for judicial cooperation between the EU and partner countries, in order to prosecute multinational corporations for serious infringements of environmental rules or fundamental rights, and through the adoption of a new initiative by the Commission.

 
  
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  Sophie Auconie (PPE ), in writing. (FR) Since the end of the Second World War, the European Union has benefited massively from the opening up of international markets. At the same time, the European social model that has been linked to globalisation in Europe has, unfortunately, had little impact on international trade negotiations. This is the purpose of the resolution that I voted for this week. With this resolution text, I wanted to urge the European Union to take a strong line on social dumping. The resolution calls for the notion of corporate social responsibility, a concept recognised by the OECD, ILO and United Nations, to be incorporated in the generalised system of preferences. It also invites the Commission to undertake new impact assessments to examine the effect that trade agreements have on European SMEs. Lastly, the resolution states that all new agreements should automatically include a corporate social responsibility clause. As in the field of sustainable development, the European Union needs to put its money where its mouth is, upholding its social model and using that to drive progress in tandem with globalisation.

 
  
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  Vilija Blinkevičiūtė (S&D ), in writing. (LT) I voted for this report because it sets out the European Parliament’s proposals which provide for concrete measures to promote corporate social responsibility in the context of the European Union’s commercial policy. I would like to point out that the international economic and financial crisis has engendered a social crisis throughout the world, and this has merely increased the need for stringent rules to ensure that the world economy is more effectively supervised and that it does not develop to the detriment of our societies. Thus, in Europe’s case, trade policy must be conducted in a manner consistent with all the Union’s objectives and, in particular, the objectives of its external policy. Furthermore, it is very important for Europe to ensure that its common commercial policy does not undermine, but rather helps to safeguard, its social model and its environmental policy.

I agree with the European Parliament’s call for the European Commission to improve its sustainability impact assessment model, in order to properly reflect the economic, social, human rights and environmental implications, including climate change mitigation goals, of trade negotiations. Moreover, the Commission should follow up on the trade agreements with the EU’s partner countries by carrying out, prior to and after the signing of a trade agreement, sustainability impact assessment studies, taking into account vulnerable sectors in particular.

 
  
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  Sebastian Valentin Bodu (PPE ), in writing. (RO) The EU plays a crucial role in the efforts to create a new governance. With this aim in mind, consistency must be promoted among the policies of international institutions. It is becoming clear that the EU must reflect on the trade policies which it wishes to adopt when reviewing its trade strategy. If it wants to send out a clear anti-protectionist message, it must ensure that international trade is fair.

The European Union must uphold its commercial interests while complying with and ensuring that others comply with its standards and values. We must not forget that businesses are bound in Europe by strict social and environmental rules. The EU must be able to require the same from its trading partners, particularly from emerging countries, and insist on quality and sustainability, particularly for food products coming into its territory, in order to preserve fair and equitable trade. The Union must establish a dialogue with its partners and find common ground for conveying its values. Based on this effort to be transparent and establish dialogue, in the light of the new powers it has been granted, the European Parliament has a key role to play, with its duty being to give the negotiations a political and moral mandate.

 
  
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  Maria Da Graça Carvalho (PPE ), in writing. (PT) Amidst economic globalisation and international trade, there has been an increase in competitive pressure between countries, which has sometimes led to serious abuses of human rights and the environment. I voted in favour of this report as I think it is particularly pertinent in ensuring that more sustainable policies are developed which take account of social and environmental issues, particularly by promoting corporate social responsibility (CSR).

It is crucial that European corporations which invest and operate in other areas act in line with European values and internationally agreed standards. In particular, this report proposes that future trade agreements negotiated by the European Union should contain a chapter on sustainable development which includes a CSR clause, which I consider to be crucial.

 
  
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  Lara Comi (PPE ), in writing. (IT) It emerges from the report under examination that the aim is to incorporate into business attitudes those values that have always marked out the European Union and its precursors.

The aim is highly commendable, provided it is implemented correctly and does not place burdens on our businesses that hinder their competitiveness, as this is already constrained by rules that are too inflexible in areas such as labour rights and environmental standards (although no one in the Member States questions the social benefits that come with the bloating of cost structures).

I therefore believe we have to act cautiously, as this is not the right time to add burdens unless everyone acknowledges the need for them and is w