Index 
Debates
Thursday, 15 December 2011 - Strasbourg OJ edition
1. Opening of the sitting
 2. Situation in Syria (motions for resolutions tabled): see Minutes
 3. Recent Council decisions and Commission revision of the EGF regulation - Mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (application EGF/2009/019 FR/Renault from France) (debate)
 4. Intelligent Energy Europe programme (debate)
 5. EU competition policy (debate)
 6. International Day of the Girl (written declaration)
 7. Voting time
  7.1. Budgetary control of EU financial assistance to Afghanistan (A7-0388/2011 - Jens Geier) (vote)
  7.2. EU competition policy (A7-0424/2011 - Andreas Schwab) (vote)
 8. Address by the President, Jerzy Buzek, on his term of office
 9. Voting time (continuation)
  9.1. Mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (application EGF/2009/019 FR/Renault from France) (A7-0396/2011 - Barbara Matera) (vote)
  9.2. Public access to European Parliament, Council and Commission documents (A7-0426/2011 - Michael Cashman) (vote)
  9.3. European Maritime Safety Agency (A7-0372/2011 - Knut Fleckenstein) (vote)
  9.4. Situation in Syria (B7-0721/2011 ) (vote)
  9.5. Draft scoreboard for the surveillance of macroeconomic imbalances (B7-0690/2011 ) (vote)
  9.6. Single European transport area (A7-0425/2011 - Mathieu Grosch) (vote)
  9.7. Detention conditions in the EU (B7-0687/2011 ) (vote)
  9.8. EC-Uzbekistan partnership and cooperation agreement and bilateral trade in textiles (A7-0427/2011 - George Sabin Cutaş) (vote)
  9.9. Freedom of movement for workers within the European Union (B7-0730/2011 ) (vote)
  9.10. EU strategy for Central Asia (A7-0338/2011 - Nicole Kiil-Nielsen) (vote)
  9.11. Health and safety at work (A7-0409/2011 - Karima Delli) (vote)
 10. Explanations of vote
 11. Corrections to votes and voting intentions: see Minutes
 12. Approval of the minutes of the previous sitting : see Minutes
 13. Debates on cases of breaches of human rights, democracy and the rule of law(debate)
  13.1. Azerbaijan, notably the case of Rafiq Tagi
  13.2. Situation of women in Afghanistan and Pakistan
  13.3. Tunisia: the case of Zakaria Bouguira
 14. Voting time
  14.1. Azerbaijan, notably the case of Rafiq Tagi (B7-0701/2011 ) (vote)
  14.2. Situation of women in Afghanistan and Pakistan (B7-0702/2011 ) (vote)
  14.3. Tunisia: the case of Zakaria Bouguira (B7-0712/2011 ) (vote)
 15. Corrections to votes and voting intentions: see Minutes
 16. Composition of committees and delegations : see Minutes
 17. Documents received: see Minutes
 18. Decisions concerning certain documents: see Minutes
 19. Written declarations (submission): see Minutes
 20. Forwarding of texts adopted during the sitting : see Minutes
 21. Dates of forthcoming sittings: see Minutes
 22. Closure of the sitting


  

IN THE CHAIR: ROBERTA ANGELILLI
Vice-President

 
1. Opening of the sitting
Video of the speeches
 

(The sitting opened at 08.35)

 

2. Situation in Syria (motions for resolutions tabled): see Minutes

3. Recent Council decisions and Commission revision of the EGF regulation - Mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (application EGF/2009/019 FR/Renault from France) (debate)
Video of the speeches
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  President. – The next item is the joint debate on:

- The Commission statements on the recent Council decisions and Commission revision of the European Global Adjustment Fund (EGF) regulation, and

- The report (A7-0396/11 ) by Barbara Matera, on behalf of the Committee on Budgets, on the proposal for a decision of the European Parliament and of the Council on mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund, in accordance with point 28 of the Interinstitutional Agreement of 17 May 2006 between the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission on budgetary discipline and sound financial management (application EGF/2009/019 FR/Renault from France) (COM(2011)0420 – C7-0193/2011 – 2011/2158(BUD) ).

 
  
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  Barbara Matera, rapporteur.(IT) Madam President, Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen, almost 23 million people in Europe are unemployed today, and more than 113 million people are living under the threat of poverty and exclusion.

Against this background, the European Union plays a crucial role in funding areas of social investment that are difficult for Member States to support at a time when their finances are under extreme pressure as a result of the financial crisis that is having such tremendous effect on us all.

Every year, instruments such as the European Social Fund, European Globalisation Adjustment Fund, and Progress Programme – to mention but a few – provide support for millions of European citizens, promoting self-entrepreneurship and job mobility.

The European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EFG) is a relatively new fund, which was established principally to provide support to workers made redundant as a result of changes in world trade patterns by cofinancing active labour market policies.

In the light of the rapid escalation of the economic and financial crisis in 2008, the European Commission proposed a temporary derogation to the EGF, which was due to finish at the end of this year, in order to extend its scope and be able to offer support to workers made redundant as a direct consequence of the economic crisis as well as increasing the EGF cofinancing rate from 50% to 65% for Member States.

My personal experience as standing rapporteur for the opinion of the Committee on Budgets for the EGF has allowed me to see that adopting this amendment has allowed a more extensive use of the fund.

In fact, in the 28 months of life of the EGF before this derogation was introduced, only – just think – 15 applications for funding were presented involving ‘only’ 18 000 redundant workers. However, since the derogation was approved this number has quadrupled.

Member States have also indicated that without the temporary derogation it would be impossible to support 45 000 workers made redundant by companies as a result of the economic and financial crisis.

Furthermore, with the increase in the cofinancing rate to 65%, the cost of funding to Member States has enabled them to provide immediate support for their workers and companies.

Ladies and gentlemen, the European Commission’s economic forecasts show that no substantial recovery in labour market conditions in Europe is expected before 2013. These assessments, together with the strain being put on Member State budgets by fiscal consolidation efforts, must therefore lead us to conclude that it is necessary to extend the current expiry date before the end of this month, which will be active from 1 January 2012.

Unfortunately, however, the debate on this proposal in the Council on 2 December resulted in several delegations – Netherlands, Germany, Sweden, Denmark, United Kingdom, Latvia, Czech Republic and Slovakia – opposing this proposal by the Commission, blocking the extension of this derogation.

I would like to sum up, Madam President, by saying that this action on the part of the Council is nothing short of irresponsible. Public opinion sees the fund as an important instrument of solidarity providing financial support to our citizens and redundant workers. We cannot allow the Council to block a further extension, and therefore I hope that all of my fellow members will decide to symbolically support the report that will help the 3 500 workers made redundant by Renault at today’s vote.

 
  
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  Janusz Lewandowski, Member of the Commission. Madam President, I would like to comment on two points: the crisis derogation and the specific Renault case.

As you know, the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund is a new creation, but it was set up before the impact of the financial crisis on the labour markets of Europe became clear. It became operational by 2007 but, at the end of 2008 (as was mentioned by the rapporteur), we changed the original substance of the fund, as a response to the redundancies among workers due to trade liberalisation and the impact of the globalisation of trade, and also to cover workers made redundant as a result of the financial crisis – and rightly so. This was part of a real anti-crisis response on behalf of the European institutions, increasing the cofinancing rate on our side and extending the application of the fund.

This was a key component of our anti-crisis response and also a political message of European solidarity. So far we have received 53 applications under the extended Globalisation Fund application, targeting more than 50 000 workers. But the crisis derogation was, by its nature, a temporary one and – as rightly explained by the rapporteur, Ms Matera – it will expire at the end of the month. As the crisis is not over, the Commission wanted to extend the mandate to extend these derogations until the end of the present financial perspective – that is, until the end of 2013 – and, with the great responsibility here in this room, Parliament adopted this proposal of extended derogation in September without any amendments.

The Council, on the other hand, has failed to extend the derogation, despite – I have to say, although it is not my role to praise the Polish Presidency – the efforts of the Polish Presidency. In practical terms this means the end of the derogation by the end of the year, although that is not the end of the crisis. All the data indicates that the unemployment rate in Europe over the next two years will be not less than 10%. By blocking this proposal, a minority of Member States – with the clear majority in favour of extending the crisis derogation – are putting an end to it. This means that the cofinancing rate will come down to 50% and the scope of the Globalisation Fund will be limited to redundancies caused by trade globalisation. We already have in the pipeline ten new applications for the crisis derogation, affecting many thousands of people in Europe. I am afraid that they may not be able to benefit from the scheme if it is not presented fully by the end of 2011.

I must say that I disagree with some of the arguments used on this occasion by the Member States creating a blocking minority in the Council. The major one was that the problems of unemployment are better targeted at local level. There is a clear misunderstanding here, as the European Globalisation Fund is run by shared management, and the response must be designed locally by the Member States and not in Brussels. So this is a misunderstanding and not a real argument for ending the crisis derogations.

There are also other arguments, which I think are not quite in touch with reality, for example that if we support redundant workers, this will relieve the Member States of a sense of responsibility. But it is cofinancing, and if we see clearly in the statistics that the rich states are better utilising the Globalisation Fund, that means a real problem of cofinancing and sharing responsibility – also financial responsibility – on the part of a Member State.

I also have to say – because this is a clear support of the Globalisation Fund – that so far more than 40% of the workers made redundant due to the crisis but covered by the Globalisation Fund have been able to find another job, so this is working. This is simply working to enhance the labour markets of Europe. But, in practical terms, we have no more crisis derogation in 2012, and I think this is a wrong political message to send to the labour markets: but what can we do? We can only encourage applications under the original trade globalisation criteria, and this is what the Commission can do under the present circumstances.

I have one further, short comment, as this is a joint debate on the specific Renault case. We are taking into consideration the issue, raised by several honourable Members of the European Parliament, of the ex-Renault workers who left the company to join the early retirement scheme and were subsequently negatively affected by the reform of the French pension system. Of course we take their fate into account and are in touch with Renault in order to address the issue. The Renault company has committed itself to taking the necessary measures to ensure that those concerned will not be disregarded and to keep the Commission informed of their actions, but legally the issue has nothing to do with the mobilisation of the European Globalisation Fund. This is a human issue but is not legally an issue of the mobilisation of the European Globalisation Fund, as the workers leaving for the early retirement scheme were not targeted for Globalisation Fund support.

France still has four months to prepare and submit a complete report on the implementation of its measures to handle the fate of the workers. The Commission, for our part, reserves the right to carry out an audit to check that the Globalisation Fund application – and this is in the scope of our responsibility – was properly spent. So here is the role of the Commission.

From the legal point of view, the question is whether the requirements for the Globalisation Fund are fulfilled by the Renault application. Ms Matera is saying yes, I know, but this is the legal case. The Commission shares the review with the Council. Renault has made more than 500 workers (this is one of the criteria) redundant as a direct consequence of the global financial crisis. Our contribution (within the nature of the Globalisation Fund) is to be used to co-finance active labour market policy measures. So the only reasonable conclusion today is that the Globalisation Fund should be mobilised and should contribute in full the amount requested by France. Thank you for listening to both the specific points on derogation and the specific Renault case.

 
  
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  Jean-Paul Gauzès, on behalf of the PPE Group.(FR) Madam President, Commissioner, Ms Matera, may I say, first of all, that we fully support Ms Matera’s line of argument concerning whether or not the decision to end the crisis derogation was justifiable, and I would like to thank her for all the work she has carried out in this area. I also share your view, Commissioner, on the disastrous impact it will have on the EU’s image if this measure is stopped despite its proven effectiveness.

I should like to return briefly to the Renault case – and I also speak on my behalf of my colleague Mr Riquet, who is unable to be here today for personal reasons – in order to say that I also share your assessment of this issue. This case has had its ups and downs, no doubt due to the fact that two aspects have been mixed up: the question of which measures are eligible under the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF), and the strictly French issue of voluntary early retirement. As you said, there has been a kind of overlapping between the initial agreement and pension reform in France, which extended the period during which workers have to contribute, leaving a number of workers – the number of these varies, as does the time frame – concerned about their future.

We share that concern, and it so happens that both Mr Riquet and I are deputies for the constituencies where the affected Renault factories are located. I can assure you that we have spared no effort in trying to encourage Renault to see reason. Just yesterday, I spoke on the phone to the head of the Ministry of Labour, Employment and Health, who read Renault’s commitments to me. I believe they are serious about those commitments, but I can guarantee that, at local level, we will make every effort to make sure that the workers affected by this pensions problem – which you said is not directly part of this issue – can see a proper solution to their situation. On the basis of these observations I would call on all my colleagues to grant this assistance to Renault.

(The speaker agreed to take a blue-card question under Rule 149(8))

 
  
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  Silvia-Adriana Ţicău (S&D ), Blue-card question.(RO) Madam President, I would like to ask Mr Gauzès what he thinks of the Commission’s proposal to limit the mobilisation of the EGF only to companies affected by global trade. I mention this because, unfortunately, there are a huge number of redundant workers in the public sector, and public budgets, regrettably, are also affected by the economic and financial crisis.

What does he think, therefore, of the Commissioner’s proposal about limiting the mobilisation of the EGF, in the future, only to redundancies caused by global trade?

 
  
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  Jean-Paul Gauzès (PPE ), Blue-card answer. (FR) I did not realise that this was what the Commission was proposing. My understanding is that the Commissioner said that he regretted this decision and was going to ensure that borderline cases could be studied in accordance with the criteria in force, but taking account of this crisis situation, which, he said – it seems to me – was going to continue and was going to continue to affect unemployment, unfortunately.

That is why I said just now that I was in full agreement with the analysis of the Commissioner and the rapporteur on these matters and that this decision by the Council conveyed entirely the wrong message and gave Europe a very bad image in a difficult period for workers.

(The speaker agreed to take a blue-card question under Rule 149(8))

 
  
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  Estelle Grelier (S&D ), Blue-card question. (FR) Could Mr Gauzès specify the nature of the commitments made by Renault to Mr Bertrand, the relevant minister, which appear to him to be serious?

 
  
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  Jean-Paul Gauzès (PPE ), Blue-card answer. (FR) Explanations were given to me just yesterday afternoon by the French Ministry of Labour, the Minister of which was taking steps to enable progress to be made on this issue under, it seems to me, less than pleasant conditions. The issue of pensions has in fact arisen in other French companies and has been resolved, notably at Michelin, for example, which does not come across as an allegedly left-leaning company. What is shocking – and I want to make this clear here and now – is that Renault, 17% of the capital of which is held by the government, has expressed some reservations. However, yesterday I wanted to make sure that these commitments had been made.

These commitments – which were read out to me over the telephone, but which I did not get in writing – aim to ensure that people who do not receive an income because of an increase in the necessary contribution periods as a result of pension reform in France can have their contribution shortfalls compensated for, in particular through offers of temporary work. However, on humane grounds, this solution does not seem to me to be very satisfactory.

That is why I said that, at local level – because I am in contact with the prefect of the region, and I am fully prepared to work with Ms Grelier to resolve this issue – I believe that, despite our political differences, we both have the same concern that workers who lose their jobs, who entered into an agreement contractually concluded when the situation was different, do not have their rights eroded because of subsequent changes to the legislation.

I am perfectly willing to fight this fight, along with Ms Grelier, but I hope it will not come to that.

 
  
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  Frédéric Daerden, on behalf of the S&D Group. (FR) Madam President, this fund fully deserves this debate, because this is an important moment for this instrument of European social policy, which is subject to dual review and the mobilisation of which is currently being debated.

As regards the mobilisation of this fund for the Renault workers laid off in France, this case is indicative of a lack of commitment on the part of social partners to become involved and of a lack of flexibility and concern for all workers. We are going to table an oral amendment in this regard.

As regards the review aimed at extending the ‘crisis’ criterion, the fact that some Member States decided to block it in Council is surprising, striking, indicative of a lack of solidarity, and worrying, when we consider that the review of the post-2013 fund is on the table. In this regard, I welcome the proposal by the Commission to continue to employ this tool and to make it more flexible. Nonetheless, we need to remain vigilant when it comes to extending it to agricultural workers. This must not undermine the fund and distort its basic objective.

 
  
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  Marian Harkin, on behalf of the ALDE Group. Madam President, first of all I want to express my real disappointment at the recent Council decision. I cannot say I am shocked, because this is not the first time we have heard such a message from the Council. Are they saying to us that the crisis is over, when the crisis is raging? Refusing to accept that and deal adequately with it is just plain unreasonable. It is also dangerous – but that is another story. Or are they really saying to us that they are giving up on social solidarity and that workers and countries are on their own?

I can understand that some Member States do not support the Globalisation Fund; they believe it is not a suitable instrument. However, four different compromises were presented and none were successful, so I believe some Member States have simply set their face against this fund, which offers European added value to redundant workers who have lost their jobs because of the financial crisis. They want to cut the fund, to minimise it. Yet the number of applications under the crisis derogation continues to rise and, significantly, more and more countries are accessing the fund.

Just as the fund is up and running, the brakes are being applied. We can improve the functioning of the fund – and hopefully we in Parliament will help to do that over the next few months – but the Council ignored the Commission and the strong views of Parliament, which adopted the Commission’s proposal without amendment. We have been sidelined, and what is incredible is that some of the countries in the blocking minority successfully accessed the EGF for their own citizens who were made redundant due to the crisis, but are now saying to other European citizens that they do not think they should access the fund under the same conditions as their citizens, and that they are going to make it more difficult for them to do this. As I said, I am not shocked, but I am genuinely saddened at the absence of solidarity – it is not a good omen.

(Applause)

 
  
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  Marije Cornelissen, on behalf of the Verts/ALE Group . (NL) Madam President, Commissioner, this is a debate about three very different questions, all relating to the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund. I am going to address the future of the fund after 2014.

We have all eagerly been looking forward to the Commission’s proposals aimed at improving the fund. There is plenty still to do if we are to really turn that Rapid Intervention Fund into what we envisioned, and we must also do something about the fact that it is being used mostly by richer, rather than poorer, Member States. However, the issue which has been totally overlooked is that of farming. I therefore read the proposal with total bewilderment.

What surprises me the most is that you actually want to divide this into two totally different instruments. A small social instrument for workers who have been made redundant and a larger instrument of EUR 2.5 billion for farmers. I believe you ought to make a choice: they should either be considered the same or different. If they are considered the same, farmers could then fall under the EGF, under the same rules. That, to my mind, would be a great solution. Or they could be treated equally, by making companies hit by crisis and globalisation subject to the same rules that you have now proposed for farmers. Should they come under threat because of EU policy or a free trade agreement, they will be able to restructure their company before it goes bankrupt.

The Flemish textile industry and the Spanish ceramics industry greatly benefited from that, after free trade with Asia forced their products off the market. However, in that case, you will be talking about a totally different instrument, one that will be an industrial instrument, which means you could throw in a few billion more.

In my view, the Commission wants to achieve something completely different with agriculture. So, take that decision and come up with an instrument that suits them , and one on which we can have an agriculture-related debate. Send Directorate-General Agriculture back to the drawing board, to its own drawing board, so they can thrash the debate out there, and do not allow the problems of one group, farmers, to be prioritised at the expense of the other group, workers who have been made redundant.

 
  
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  Ilda Figueiredo, on behalf of the GUE/NGL Group.(PT) Madam President, having heard from the Commissioner, the first words in this debate can only be of indignation at the information he has given us about the Council’s refusal to extend the derogation because of the continued crisis, so that there could be a more favourable clause on financing the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF). This means that the countries with the greatest economic and social difficulties – those where the most companies have gone bankrupt and where there is the most unemployment – are those least able to make use of the EGF.

As we know, the requirement of 35% national finance for projects supporting the unemployed submitted for EGF funding was already making it difficult for some Member States to apply, especially those in receipt of a so-called bailout package. However, obliging that provision of this funding be limited to a few cases where multinationals relocate leaves the majority of cases submitted and still not considered out in the cold. This situation alone demonstrates the European Union’s lack of solidarity. If, however, we add to all this other clauses from the EGF Regulation that lead to great disparities in aid because they are based on a calculation founded on wages paid in the Member State turning to its funding to support its unemployed workers, we can conclude that the EGF is useful, above all, for the countries that are more developed and have better economic and social conditions, like Germany, the Netherlands and others, which continue to block the extension of the EGF derogation. That is why we are protesting against this position.

Regarding the Renault issue, I should also like to express my solidarity with the around 5 000 workers who have been victims of redundancy, but we regret the confused situation that France has created surrounding this EGF application process, and the company’s lack of dialogue with the representatives of its workers. Nonetheless, we maintain our position of solidarity with the workers and our support for mobilising the EGF, despite the criticisms that we also continue to make of the EGF Regulation.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE ).(PT) Madam President, Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen, the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF), which has existed since 2007, makes EUR 500 million available per year. It is striking that the EGF’s total contribution to all the applications approved since that time – 2007 – is only EUR 370 million. In view of the crisis that has been devastating us since 2008, with the resultant increase in unemployment, we have to improve implementation of the EGF. This situation is explained, inter alia , by the complexity of the EGF and by the fact that Europe’s contribution is only 65%, constituting an obstacle to the Member States in the greatest financial difficulties.

In addition to retaining the derogation already mentioned here in plenary, I also propose approving an increase in European cofinancing for the EGF to 95% for Member States in receipt of a bailout package, similar to that recently approved by Parliament in relation to funding from cohesion policy and the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development.

As regards the report under discussion, concerning the more than 4 400 redundant French workers, I say only that the EGF cannot, at any time, be used as a political weapon, influenced by electoral timetables, since that – as is obvious – always primarily harms the interests of workers. I therefore hope this report will be adopted here today, during this sitting.

(The speaker agreed to take a blue-card question under Rule 149(8))

 
  
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  Ilda Figueiredo (GUE/NGL ), Blue-card question . – (PT) Madam President, I was pleased to hear Mr Fernandes mention that I proposed here an increase to 95% EU funding for projects submitted to the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund. I should like to ask him the following: I made that proposal in the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs; are you able to explain to me why the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) voted against?

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE ), Blue-card answer . – (PT) Madam President, I am grateful for the question. With regard to the European Regional Development Fund, to cohesion policy funding and to the European Social Fund, there were many people who were against a 10% increase in cohesion policy funding, whose opinions have developed and changed. As regards the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD), there were many people who did not agree with the increase in relation to cofinancing who have also changed their minds.

My proposal is not for all Member States, but for the Member States in receipt of a bailout package. I do not know if this proposal in the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs was generalised or was only for those Member States. Therefore, what I am advocating, and I was clear – and I hope this House will be able to back this one of these days, because it is almost a question of logic – that what has happened with cohesion policy, what has happened with the EAFRD, should, logically, even a fortiori , also be approved for workers.

We are well aware that the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund does not compete with the European Social Fund but rather complements it, so I believe it makes perfect sense for the contribution to go from 65% to 95% for countries in receipt of a bailout package.

(The speaker agreed to take a blue-card question under Rule 149(8))

 
  
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  Pervenche Berès (S&D ), Blue-card question. (FR) Madam President, I would like to ask Mr Fernandes if he regards being concerned about the consequences of pension reform which excludes workers from the entire compensation and income system as getting involved in politics – clearly, coming from his mouth, this seems to be a bad thing. Mr Gauzès, who, to my knowledge, belongs to the same group, took the view that it had to be taken into account and that the government as shareholder should perhaps be concerned about this situation.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE ), Blue-card answer . – (PT) Madam President, what I said is that the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund cannot be used as a political weapon and influenced by electoral timetables. I am certain that we are, or should be, all in agreement with that statement.

Today, we will have the opportunity to say, with our vote, with the vote here in plenary, whether this vote is influenced by electoral timetables or whether its first priority is the defence of workers. Specifically, I have seen that this Renault process has been slightly diverted, and I suspect – but it is a suspicion that could be disproved in the vote today – that political interests and the electoral timetable could be influencing the position of some Members. However, I hope that the vote – and a qualified majority is needed here today – will demonstrate that we are primarily defending the interests of workers.

 
  
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  Sergio Gutiérrez Prieto (S&D ).(ES) Madam President, we need, in this debate at least, a strong Commissioner with clear principles and the political courage necessary to prevent other members of the College of Commissioners from distorting the raison d'être of this fund and still more to prevent the fund from being used as a bargaining chip to square the circle of other Community policies.

Is it necessary to compensate our farmers for the trade agreements that we maintain with other States? Yes. However, this fund cannot become yet another instrument of the CAP and much less still can it become an instrument that, when its budget is increased, leaves the sectors for which it was created without funds and leaves them to carry on suffering, even today, not only the effects of globalisation but also the effects of the economic crisis.

What is more, Commissioner, EUR 500 million to help companies in difficulty could turn out to be insufficient but allocating the same money to help those same companies and hundreds of thousands of farmers as well is simply ridiculous and is to mislead everyone, companies and farmers alike.

Commissioner, this is an instrument for solidarity at a time when we need solidarity more than ever. Fight for a different fund to provide compensation for our trade agreements. Fight, at least, to increase this fund if it is necessary to compensate new sectors, but fight. You still have time or, if not, Mr Andor still has time, to be the Commissioner that we all, this Parliament as a whole and all the European institutions, need.

 
  
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  Alexander Alvaro (ALDE ).(DE) Madam President, Commissioner, good morning. It is good to see you in this last week of business in Strasbourg for this year. As Mr Fernandes has rightly said, 2007 was the year the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund was established, since which – it is unfortunate that my fellow Member from the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament is no longer listening – EUR 307 million has been distributed – out of a fund of EUR 2.5 billion. Money alone is not the solution when it comes to tackling economic crises and the consequences of globalisation. Structural reforms in the labour market, economic reforms, taxation reforms and social reforms are the elements that can be used to take control of globalisation.

Do not be fooled into thinking that money is the horn of plenty that can be used to solve all problems in the long term. If we see the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund as a way to reward the conduct of companies like Nokia, which has moved from Bochum in Germany to Romania and, ultimately, out of the European Union, receiving monetary support on two occasions, that is the wrong approach, and we will certainly not allow that to happen. Mr Fernandes is quite right and I share his views on the prospect of the European Parliament becoming the field where national election campaigns are fought.

I note what has happened in France. I also believe, however, that this is a matter for France and does not need to be discussed here. That is why my group will reject the oral amendment if tabled. There are still more than 40 Members of the Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe in this House. This means that we can also reject this oral amendment. I would much prefer it if we were to sit down together and work out how we can integrate the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund intelligently into European budgetary policy within the parameters of the Multiannual Financial Framework, ensuring more growth and more jobs, rather than perpetuating unemployment with the money we have.

(The speaker agreed to take a blue-card question under Rule 149(8))

 
  
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  Paul Rübig (PPE ), Blue-card question. (DE) Mr Alvaro, thank you for your suggestion that additional instruments need to be found. The point is also to find employers once again, young, well-trained employers who are capable of securing employment. Could you envisage the Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe tabling an initiative in this regard?

 
  
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  Alexander Alvaro (ALDE ), Blue-card answer. (DE) Mr Rübig, I believe that these are precisely the kinds of proposals that we can build on. If we work together – for example with the Group of the European People's Party (Christian Democrats), although I am also certain that it would be possible to collaborate with the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats and the Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance – to produce suggestions for how we can finance and support medium-sized enterprises, young entrepreneurs and start-ups, as well as encouraging quality in the existing business community, then I believe we will arrive at a common denominator, which is precisely the path we should take.

(The speaker agreed to take a blue-card question under Rule 149(8))

 
  
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  Silvia-Adriana Ţicău (S&D ), Blue-card question. Madam President, Mr Alvaro says that the behaviour of companies is very good. I would like to ask if he or maybe the Commissioner have statistics relating to the number of people who were successfully reintegrated into the labour market after being beneficiaries of this fund.

 
  
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  Alexander Alvaro (ALDE ), Blue-card answer. Madam President, actually this is the problem, and we in the Committee on Budgets have asked, in the reports dealing with EAGGF – especially through amendments – for evaluation mechanisms to be put in place, because we as a Parliament do not know exactly how many people have been reintegrated into work with the help of the European Globalisation Fund (maybe Commissioner Lewandowski knows).

We know how many workers we have helped and how many redundant workers have been receiving money out of the Globalisation Fund, but we do not know how many have actually been reintegrated into work.

Just to correct one thing: I did not say that companies are doing good; I said that the European Globalisation Fund is actually taking away the burden from enterprises to elaborate specific social plans. This is something which worries me probably as much as it does you.

 
  
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  Karima Delli (Verts/ALE ).(FR) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) needs this debate. This instrument has a positive role but, first of all, the procedures are too long to provide effective protection for workers who need support quickly so that they are not left to their own devices. Secondly, the brief history of this EGF has already been plagued by very controversial cases of payments from public authorities which served only to repair the damage caused by companies savagely outsourcing.

The European Union would do better than to beat its head against a brick wall. It needs, first of all, to think about how it authorises free trade which is both lawless and unscrupulous. When will social and environmental criteria be integrated in our commercial agreements to combat dumping? The famous EGF must be a tool supporting the immediate transition to high quality ‘green’ jobs, hence local jobs that cannot be outsourced.

In the specific case of Renault, the EGF does not authorise the cofinancing of passive measures. What is the current situation in the case of Renault? Neither the Renault Group, nor the French Government, nor the European Commission has been able to convince us that the training measures offered to workers at the time were active measures. What does that mean? It means real training programmes aimed at making people employable. That is the first thing.

Secondly, I think that the case, in particular, of all the workers threatened with insecurity because they joined the early retirement scheme is not a specifically French issue – as has been said – but a question of European solidarity. All workers must be treated in the same way: some have nothing to gain from measures, while others do.

I am pleased to hear my colleague, Mr Gauzès, for whom I have very high regard, tell us today, in this Chamber, that Renault has committed itself to take concrete measures. I am a little sad to hear this only today. I think he should have woken up long ago.

 
  
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  Marie-Christine Vergiat (GUE/NGL ).(FR) Madam President, thank you for agreeing to postpone my speaking time.

Renault is a clear textbook case, an example of what not to do. We are quite divided in my group and so I am going to speak on behalf of the French delegation.

Renault is an economically sound company. Every year, it makes billions in profits; three billion in 2009 alone. Renault is making what we call stock market redundancies. Each year, for several years now, thousands of workers have been laid off simply for the benefit of shareholders, including the French Government. It is not about the electoral calendar. This has happened again and again at Renault for several years now. As for me, my votes have not changed in this regard. I fail to see what benefit this has for the workers.

I very much hope that the ongoing debate on the fund will enable a thorough review of how it works to be carried out to avoid supporting the worst practices of major companies with regard to their workers, who are treated, in this case, like simple adjustment variables. We know that, in France, social support plans leave much to be desired, to say the least, and that the objective of social integration is not on the table, especially as regards Renault.

 
  
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  Damien Abad (PPE ).(FR) Madam President, there are actually two debates taking place today. One debate relates to the issue of the extension of the derogation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) for companies affected by the crisis. Of course, I too regret that a blocking minority in the Council – which we also had for the European food aid programme for the most deprived – is able to oppose the continuation of this fund. At the same time, we are having this debate on Renault.

These two debates are linked. We cannot, on the one hand, want the fund to be extended and, on the other hand, call into question the EUR 24.5 million that would be allocated to Renault. I understand that there are difficulties, that 180 workers are affected, in particular, by problems of application associated with pension reform. However, we must not mix everything up. Above all, we must not allow the European Parliament to become hostage to national matters. Nor can we allow the European Parliament to be held hostage for electoral purposes. We are in a Parliament where the political divide – thank God – can, very often, be overcome.

Today, we need, together, to vote for this mobilisation to enable not only companies but also workers to procure the best conditions for their redeployment. Faced with this serious crisis in Europe, we need to be responsible, we need to be courageous and we must defend the general interest, and only the general interest.

 
  
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  Pervenche Berès (S&D ).(FR) Madam President, the European Parliament, with a very large majority, pronounced itself in favour of extending the crisis mechanism within the framework of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF). It is something of a paradox that some Member States – whose representative and member of the Council is not present to hear this debate and our arguments – refuse to extend the derogation within the framework of the crisis mechanism at a time when the OECD notes that the European Union and, in particular, the euro area is in recession, and has corrected the growth forecasts for next year to 0.2%. Where is the end of the crisis? I put the question to the Council.

The reality is that there is a blocking minority in the Council which thinks that, since we are in a crisis, it is no longer necessary to apply the fundamental rule of the European Union, which is that of solidarity. I call on the Council to hear Parliament’s message. We demand solidarity within the European Union.

Madam President, I would like just one second to talk about Renault. There are some in this Chamber who say that this is all about electoral manoeuvring. I call on the Commission to assume its responsibilities and to ensure that its right hand knows what its left hand is doing. I ask that, tomorrow, when it looks at how pension reform has been implemented in France, it takes into account the damage caused by Mr Bertrand and his pension reform and that it tells France that the disastrous effects of this pension reform must be corrected.

 
  
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  Paul Murphy (GUE/NGL ). - Madam President, the decision by eight governments to block the extension of the derogation is a disgrace. It will make it significantly harder for laid-off workers to access the Globalisation Adjustment Fund. It adds insult to the injury of the already-existing inadequacies of that fund. Workers in Ireland have suffered from mismanagement and bureaucratic delay even as regards how the fund has been administered, with the result that a significant amount of the money allocated for Dell workers is due to be returned.

Any assistance for workers faced with the tragedy of unemployment is to be welcomed. However, the fund has simply proved to be a tiny sticking plaster on the massive gaping wound of unemployment created by capitalism across Europe. Instead of making it harder for workers to access the fund, it should be made easier, and workers should be put at the very heart of the administration of the fund. More fundamentally, if the EU and national governments are serious about tackling unemployment, they should introduce measures, including nationalisation, to stop multinational corporations from relocating and engaging in a race to the bottom in terms of workers’ wages and conditions.

 
  
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  Estelle Grelier (S&D ).(FR) Madam President, Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen, led by my conscience and my sense of responsibility, I will vote against the French Government’s application for aid on behalf of Renault, and I will do so as an individual.

Because, unlike other groups, Renault refused to take account of the situation of former, older, workers laid off in 2009 and soon left with nothing following the entry into force of the reform of the pension system. Because, with profits of more than EUR 3 billion in 2010, the Renault Group exploits the full potentialities of globalisation. Because I think that, at a time when everyone is being urged to tighten their belts, signing a blank cheque for EUR 24.5 million with no quid pro quo is outrageous. Because, finally, Commissioner, the training and support measures presented by the applicants as active back-to-work measures, the only ones eligible for funding under the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) are, in fact, disconnected from any resumption-of-activity logic.

This is not about salving our consciences by creating the illusion that we are supporting European industry. In the end, what counts is that we support the interests of the workers in the industry and the associated jobs. This is a case in which the EGF is being derailed, and we must draw the necessary conclusions in order to adapt it.

 
  
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  Mairead McGuinness (PPE ). - Madam President, I will allow others to deal with the French situation and will address my remarks in particular to the broader place we now find ourselves in. I join with others in expressing my huge concern and disappointment about the Council decision and the blocking minority. I think it does, if you like, build on other concerns which I have about how Europe is currently operating, the mindset of the Council and the impact of that on the wider European solidarity that others have spoken about.

We are in crisis, and it seems very wise that we should extend this mechanism and also improve the way it functions so that the money flows to assist those who are forced out of work to gain employment. But I see a trend emerging here in the Council; we have also had a block on the Aid for the Needy Programme, which will have its life cut short.

I am also concerned, Commissioner – as you will be – about how this will impact on the negotiations for the budget after 2013. I do not envy you in your task or us in ours in trying to have a sustainable budget. But could I address a part of that future? I see in the common agricultural policy reforms that there is a proposal that this fund will be extended to farmers. I rather see this as a blanket, a comfort blanket, which will not exist if we are in the current mindset and will do little to address some of the very damaging aspects of trade negotiations on agriculture, which are also damaging for food security. But I wish you well, Commissioner. I wish there was some Christmas spirit in the Council though.

 
  
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  Rareş-Lucian Niculescu (PPE ).(RO) Madam President, unlike other colleagues, I welcome that this fund will also be extended to the agricultural sector.

Free trade is a necessity, but we must avoid the danger of weakening European producers as they too are affected by globalisation. The fund is called the ‘European Globalisation Adjustment Fund’, which means that it must be used for all those affected by globalisation.

I also think that receiving assistance from this fund must be regarded as being fully compatible with beneficiaries obtaining funds from the second pillar of the common agricultural policy. Both sources of assistance must operate in tandem.

Last but not least, I share the concerns of other colleagues relating to the inequality of opportunities for accessing the fund between the various Member States.

 
  
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  Phil Prendergast (S&D ). - Madam President, the Council decision not to continue extending EGF assistance to workers made redundant as a result of the financial crisis is plainly indefensible. While EU leaders rush around the continent trying to prevent financial catastrophe on a global scale, these ministers seem to think the crisis is not impacting on jobs – when unemployment levels reach record highs across the eurozone, being over 14% in Ireland. Unbelievably, the signal the ministers are sending is that these unprecedented rates are not caused by the economic crisis. Ironically, this unfortunate decision was made on the same day the Commission announced an extension of a derogation granting Member States a licence to spend fortunes more bailing out the banks. To add insult to injury, the special arrangement for banks will start the day after the end of this meagre but important EGF provision to support people on the dole because of a crisis triggered by market speculators and reckless bankers.

As a consequence, I must now call on the Commission to prepare and put in place, as soon as possible, a new European crisis fund or a real economy fund in order to assist the many workers made redundant by the toxic fallout of our hyper-financialised economy, which has swept the EU into the woes we see today.

 
  
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  Silvia-Adriana Ţicău (S&D ).(RO) Madam President, unfortunately, my country, Romania, has not applied at all so far to mobilise the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund, even though there have been thousands of redundancies in companies in the rail transport sector, the iron and steel industry or shipbuilding.

I would like to commend the Commission not only for its efforts in extending the derogations for mobilising the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund, but also for its efforts on reforming this fund. I am in favour of extending it to agricultural workers and for increasing the cofinancing rate for countries in the process of fiscal consolidation.

Commissioner, in a letter I sent you, I asked you whether workers made redundant in the public sector from public institutions are eligible for the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund. You replied that they were. However, I would like to ask you for this provision to be specified more clearly in the future content of this regulation, so that we avoid creating a differentiation, discrepancy and inequalities between workers in the public sector and those in the private sector, since both groups are affected by the economic and financial crisis.

 
  
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  Barbara Matera, rapporteur. (IT) Madam President, first of all I am pleased with the enthusiasm shown by the honourable Members in today’s debate in the House, because this fund deserved it, but above all its objective and argument deserved it – we are talking about solidarity for European citizens. The end of 2011 is now upon us, and I would like to round up the year with a last speech in this House containing some positive hopes for next year.

My first hope is that the next Danish Council Presidency will once again make supporting the economic crisis derogation for this fund to 2013 a priority of its political agenda.

My second hope is that the European Commission will continue to support extension of the scope of this fund to include agriculture, which will undoubtedly suffer as a result of the economic crisis that is predicted to continue for the next few years, and provide support also for agriculture.

Finally, I appeal to my fellow Members – and I am sorry that some have already left – to support this report today, which will result in the payment of approximately EUR 24 million to Renault – and consequently to France, a Member State. This is a very important sign of the European Parliament’s solidarity, union and cohesion, because I am convinced – as I am sure you must also be absolutely convinced – that Parliament cannot and must not be a dumping-ground for all the inaccuracies, choices and reforms that take place inside Member States.

Therefore I trust in my fellow Members’ sense of responsibility I do not and cannot believe that some would abstain or vote against the Renault case just because they want and have to follow the election manifesto of their own Member State. I do not believe it, and I am sure that they will show their sense of responsibility, enabling us to inject new life and credibility into this fund, which would be seriously undermined should the honourable Members not vote together in favour of the payment of these funds.

 
  
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  Janusz Lewandowski, Member of the Commission. Madam President, I should like to thank the Members for their comments. I have three short remarks: the first on the crisis derogation. Fortunately the misunderstanding was clarified. Yes, the Commission wanted an extension until the end of 2013, but this was voted down by a blocking minority, including some states which benefited from the scheme. There were good reasons for extending the scheme due to the developments in the labour market, with a sudden recent acceleration of applications – two thirds of all the applications came in 2010 and 2011.

I can agree with Ms Ţicǎu that countries in Eastern Europe undergoing the so-called transformation from the old system to the new system know how painful this might be without globalisation, as our countries can neither be termed developed or under-developed parts of the world; this was rather a mis-developed part of the world, with a lot of industrial stock on the ground but completely useless in terms of a market economy.

My second remark concerns Renault. Thank you, Mr Gauzès, for explaining the action from the local point of view. I can only say that I know a special unit has been set up by Renault to deal with the issue. Our prerogative is to monitor and contact, but I can assure all of you that, from the legal point of view, this case fulfilled all the criteria of the European Globalisation Fund application. What matters is the future: as the Globalisation Fund is on the table in the proposal for 2014-2020, this means that we fully understand the added value of the fund in terms of making the reactions of the Member States more durable and of improved quality in terms of active labour market policy.

What is clear from the mid-term review is that exactly 42% of the workers covered by the scheme under this crisis derogation were able very quickly to find places on the job market. So this is working and is probably very conducive to the reintegration of redundant workers into the labour market.

I agree fully with those who ask for a much quicker response by the Globalisation Fund. This is as slow as the Solidarity Fund, which is also part of the proposal. What was very controversial – and here the remarks of Mr Daerden and Ms Cornelissen are relevant – is whether to extend it to farming. This was done in a very clear context, and the context, as I can reveal, was going into the Mercosur trade liberalisation talks with insecurity in the rural areas around the impact of trade liberalisation on the farming community. For my colleagues, and especially the one responsible for this major deal on trade liberalisation, this was a kind of insurance cover for entering into the trade liberalisation agreements with countries with more competitive pricing for agricultural products. This was the context of the decision to risk the extension of the Globalisation Fund to farming. But this is not at the cost of industrial workers, because we have our estimates in the pipeline, and I think the numbers proposed could be adequate as insurance for both areas: industry and farming.

But I can agree with Mr Alvaro and the others that this is keine Wunderwaffe : this is one of the tools in the toolbox for dealing with a crisis: valuable, therefore extended and should be defended, because this is also a tangible and visible sign in several corners of the European Union that the European institutions are useful, credible and could help.

 
  
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  President. - The debate is closed.

The vote will take place today at 11.30.

Written statements (Rule 149)

 
  
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  Evelyn Regner (S&D ), in writing . (DE) The European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) was introduced as a way of protecting employees affected by the far-reaching changes as a result of globalisation, in particular by the relocation of business to third countries. This European fund for the affected workers is essential in helping to cushion the blow of the global economic and financial crisis to at least some extent. It is also an important sign that the EU is there for people in Europe, helping them to find new employment. There is no way to justify the opening up of this fund to the agricultural sector, which is already the most funded sector in the EU, receiving up to 83% support. Industrial workers need support now more than ever. Two thirds of all requests for support from the EGF were submitted in 2010 and 2011, leading one to conclude that this is a growing trend and that employees recognise that there is something there to help them. The figures show that the fund is needed by industrial workers. I would argue that the resources of the EGF should be restricted exclusively to workers in the industrial sector.

 

4. Intelligent Energy Europe programme (debate)
Video of the speeches
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  President. - The next item is the debate on:

- the oral question to the Commission from Maria Da Graça Carvalho, Bendt Bendtsen, Paul Rübig, Krišjānis Kariņš, Pilar del Castillo Vera, Romana Jordan Cizelj, on behalf of the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats), Fiona Hall, Sir Graham Watson, on behalf of the Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe, Claude Turmes, on behalf of the Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance and Anni Podimata, Jo Leinen, Teresa Riera Madurell, Silvia-Adriana Ţicău, Britta Thomsen, on behalf of the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament, on the Intelligent Energy Europe programme (IEE) within the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) (O-000244/2011 – B7-0668/2011 ), and

- the oral question to the Commission from Rolandas Paksas and Juozas Imbrasas, on behalf of the Europe of Freedom and Democracy Group, on the ‘Intelligent Energy - Europe II’ programme and Multiannual Financial Framework (O-000322/2011 – B7-0672/2011 ).

 
  
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  Maria Da Graça Carvalho, author. (PT) Madam President, Commissioner, first of all I should like to thank you for the opportunity to ask the Commission this question on the continuation of the Intelligent Energy Europe (IEE) programme. The promotion of energy efficiency and the use of renewable energy sources is of crucial importance to economic growth and job creation in Europe. The European Union has been developing strategies and ambitious legislation on this issue. However, all policies require instruments that are robust and that make the connection with the regional and local levels. This programme and the agency for implementing it have been contributing considerably to the implementation of legislation relating to renewable energy and energy efficiency, specifically by supporting innovative projects. In particular, activities like the Covenant of Mayors and the Pact of Islands should be continued and stepped up. It is particularly at times of crisis that programmes like this are crucial for competitiveness and economic recovery. In this context, I should like to ask the Commission the following:

Firstly, what does the Commission intend to do to guarantee the IEE programme a leading role in the upcoming Multiannual Financial Framework for 2014-2020?

Secondly, how does the Commission intend to improve the successor to this programme?

Thirdly, what is the institutional framework for the successor to this IEE programme within the Horizon 2020 programme and what level of funding will be assigned to it?

 
  
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  Graham Watson, author. Madam President, the European Union works best when it takes relatively small amounts of money to work with local authorities and other agencies in exchanging best practice and in part-financing policy projects in its policy priority areas.

The Intelligent Energy Europe (IEE) programme and the European Agency for Competitiveness and Innovation are outstanding examples of this in the field of combating climate change, so the Commission will understand the concern of Members of this House when we learn of plans to discontinue a programme which encourages citizens to use energy more wisely and to help the Union to meet its Kyoto commitments.

The Commission has talked about continuing work in this area, about mainstreaming it, about strengthening it in future funding programmes. Commissioner Oettinger was suggesting yesterday that Intelligent Energy Europe might go into the Horizon 2020, but we want to know whether there will be a dedicated programme still. We want to know whether this will have the visibility that the IEE programme has had. We want to know whether it will activate civil society and foster commitment in the same way.

As Ms Carvalho said, the European Local Energy Assistance Facility has leveraged huge amounts of money from a very small investment to help businesses become energy efficient, to retrofit social housing, to improve public transport, to design smart energy buildings and to connect renewable energy production into electricity grids. If that programme were to disappear it would be a real loss to a huge variety of decentralised activities to promote renewable energy and energy saving.

I think at heart the question that Members are asking is this: has the Commission lost its way when it comes to renewable energy? Why is it planning to pump money into gas distribution networks for the benefit of companies that are already making billions in profits, rather than pumping money into the vision that it still professes of a renewable energy Europe, one where we can meet our commitment of cutting carbon by 80% by 2050?

 
  
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  Claude Turmes, author . – (DE) Madam President, Mr Lewandowski, I am not worried, I am angry. Not with you personally, but with the people in the Directorates-General for Research and Innovation and for Energy, who are in the process of doing away with one of the most sensible programmes we ever had within the European budget, namely the Intelligent Energy Europe Programme. Studies in relation to offshore wind energy in the North Sea, training workshops for government civil servants on the implementation of the EU’s Buildings Directive, training courses for architects and engineers on how to build near-zero energy buildings, networks between progressive mayors in Europe – the list goes on and on. Why is all this to be destroyed? Why?

If Ms Geoghegan-Quinn and Mr Oettinger fail to come up with a concrete project, then we, as parliamentarians, will be forced to resurrect the old Competition and Innovation Programme (CIP) and to restore the Horizon 2020 programme to what it should be: a separate research programme and a well-organised innovation programme. Those colleagues here present will be aware of the importance we attach to this programme.

We expect a swift and specific response in writing both from Ms Geoghegan-Quinn and from Mr Oettinger. The abolition of the Intelligent Energy Europe Programme is poison in a time in which we must garner support for Europe among its citizens. We are turning our backs on those people in Europe who are in favour of European policy. This is unacceptable.

 
  
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  Teresa Riera Madurell, author . (ES) Madam President, my group has been firmly defending an increase in the research budget for the development of sustainable energy technologies and will continue to do so in the next Framework Programme negotiations.

However, in order for the results of the research to be capable of contributing to our energy policy objectives regarding efficiency and renewable energy, they need to be accompanied by two types of measures that are also very important: first, measures supporting actions aimed at promoting market penetration of the resulting energy technologies and secondly, measures to eliminate non-technological barriers, which could be confused with market failures, by boosting capacitation, training and awareness-raising activities and mobilising both local investment and the parties involved, as in the case of the Pact of Islands.

To date, the ‘Intelligent Energy – Europe’ programme has met these objectives with remarkable success, as has been demonstrated by the various evaluations that have been carried out and the programme has, moreover, been distinguished by its support for small and medium-sized enterprises. Therefore, I wish to make my group’s support clear, here and now, for the continuity of the programme’s objectives and our commitment to providing it with clear and solid funding.

 
  
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  Rolandas Paksas, author. (LT) Madam President, the “Intelligent Energy – Europe” programme has genuinely created very favourable conditions for firms operating in the Community’s Member States and government institutions to prepare feasibility and market studies and business plans on reducing energy consumption and changing the way energy is used. This is a huge step forward in terms of reducing the causes of climate change, limiting and minimising pollution and achieving more efficient and rational energy use. However, when talking about truly intelligent energy, we should today discuss other principles, such as non-fossil-fuel-based energy in Europe. The options might include wind, solar and hydro energy. The search for new forms of energy should be the goal at which all programmes consolidating intelligent energy in Europe should be directed.

Member States’ investment in new and leading-edge technologies in the field of energy efficiency and in renewable energy sources should be promoted and funded. New and bold steps should in principle be taken today in order to ensure intelligent energy use. Let us plan for a future of new forms of energy, such as hydrogen power and new generations of nuclear technology. We are the generation on whose action it depends whether we will safeguard the earth for future generations or will condemn it to a slow but inevitable death in 100 or 200 years’ time. Let us choose those actions and let us follow those principles which do not provide the slightest incentive to destroy what we did not create in the first place.

 
  
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  Janusz Lewandowski, Member of the Commission. Madam President, all the questions asked and comments made expressed deep concern over the future of a programme which made a great contribution to energy efficiency and renewable energy across Europe. Therefore I can assure you that the commitment remains and should be reinforced – also in financial terms – in the future.

As many arguments concerning the use and contribution and value added of the Intelligent Energy Europe II programme had already been presented, I do not need to repeat them. But what I have to say is that this not just a subjective feeling. It is also reinforced and fully confirmed by the external evaluation of the programme. I can state with satisfaction that this is both relevant and useful, as it replies to the evolving needs, problems and periods relating to sustainable energy.

The programme was, as you know, supporting more than 500 projects, 50% of which went to small and medium-size enterprises, and this was a clear preoccupation of Mr Paksas.

Two success stories should be in the textbooks highlighting the utility of that kind of common European programme: Solar Keymark and the ELENA facility. These are two clear success stories.

But the major questions were not about the past and present but about the future. My answer is that we have to handle several targets: energy efficiency and renewable energy sources is one of them – a very serious one. However, at the same time we have to respond to the question of energy security and solidarity. This is the question that was so tangible in 2009, when there were cuts in the gas supply via Ukraine – tangible in the kitchens of some Member States.

So we also have to respond to these concerns. This is why we have to share out money in order to reinforce energy efficiency: renewable, yes, but also transborder networks that are really contributing to energy security and solidarity on the continent, which is so dependent on deliveries from third countries which from time to time clearly display their monopoly power.

As to the future, as I was informed – you well know that this is not quite my dossier, but I was studying it before coming to the House – my preoccupation is to achieve better coherence between research, innovation and market update. This is why the Commission placed the programme-related activities as a dedicated energy component of a new framework programme. This is the philosophy of mainstreaming actions, and we have been asked by many sources to mainstream our actions in this respect. This is called Horizon 2020.

I agree – and this is really what I have started as somebody responsible for the budget – that the clearly small amount of money (and I agree, this was a small amount of money: EUR 743 million) via leverage was giving a clear impact. Therefore, this is about clear impact with little money.

I can assure you that energy efficiency and energy-renewable sources activities should be reinforced with more resources within the non-growing budget. Implementation and details are coming in 2012. I know, already in advance, that it should be reinforced, and this is one of the very few chapters or parts of the 2014-2020 budget proposal to grow. The others are either nominally frozen or generally defended as a real constant.

This was the real proposal for the future: to defend the budget as a real constant and really nominally frozen major spending blocks – cohesion and agricultural policy. This is the essence of a programme called Horizon 2020 adopted on 30 November with details to be known at a later stage. Perhaps we should go into a detailed discussion on the basis of these implementing details.

There is, of course, also the place for the Executive Agency for Competitiveness and Innovation. Here again, the external evaluation clearly indicates that this is a useful body. Therefore, the role of this agency in all these related activities should be reinforced. We have an external evaluation (so this is not just our feeling) of both the Intelligent Energy Europe II programme and the Agency for Competitiveness and Innovation, so both would be better placed, in financial terms, in the 2014-2020 programme. Here is my budgetary story. So I can say that this is not just a slogan but a clear indication that in real (also in financial) terms, we fully share the assessment of Parliament as to the value added of these programmes.

 
  
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  Pilar del Castillo Vera, on behalf of the PPE Group.(ES) Madam President, Commissioner, I think that your explanation was a very logical one, full of common sense. The thing is that sometimes such explanations, which are really very sound, compete with reflections that are equally sound.

I think that what we do in Parliament at this point serves as a wake-up call to ensure that an instrument that has had a history of success does not disappear because of theoretical solutions which could in principle, theoretically, turn out to be more efficient but which would, in any event, put an end to the development of a tool that has made a very real contribution so that many programmes derive from it and have very important consequences for energy saving. I am not going to mention them all but there is no doubt that actions such as European Local ENergy Assistance (ELENA), Solar Keymark or GreenLight are success stories. All this has always been based upon a fundamental pillar, namely, innovation, even in these especially severe times of crisis in Europe.

It is impossible for societies that do not make innovation the driving force of their development to survive in such a competitive, global society and here we have before us a tool that has proved useful precisely for the purpose of developing innovation in the energy sector. Therefore, Commissioner, our modest contribution is to insist that a tool such as this must not be wasted because it has been tried and tested and, accordingly, we have to give extremely careful consideration to the fact that this intelligent energy tool for Europe could disappear.

 
  
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  Kathleen Van Brempt, on behalf of the S&D Group . (NL) Madam President, Commissioner, I hope you will pass on the message to your colleague, but we, here, are not entirely happy with your answer. If we want to achieve energy independence, we must be resolute in choosing to set up all our projects on renewable energy and energy efficiency by 2050. There are no objectives which are more important than those two.

Obviously, we should, therefore, ensure that we are able to make major investments, and the Commission must bear that responsibility; it then follows that we need programmes like the Intelligent Energy Europe programme. Why is that? So that we can ensure that really major initiatives can be taken at a local level and, indeed, at a lower cost.

The Commissioner keeps referring to ‘the low hanging fruit of energy efficiency’, because we need those budgets for that. Those budgets must be clearly defined and allocated specifically to this programme. That is what we would actually like to hear from you today: that those budgets are in place and that they have been ringfenced for those objectives.

 
  
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  Francisco Sosa Wagner (NI ).(ES) Madam President, ‘Light, more light!’ is what Goethe is said to have called for in his last moments. Today, the poet, who was also an effective ruler, would no doubt qualify these statements by calling for saving and efficiency. For, in a Europe poor in energy resources, it is essential that we can distinguish between necessary consumption that drives the economy and superfluous consumption. We need to control the latter and, to that end, it is imperative to encourage drastic change in the habits of many European citizens.

When we analyse the economic crisis, we call for austerity and also for stimuli for growth. Well, fine, few better spheres in which to turn those beautiful words into reality than the energy sphere, where a combination of saving and the necessary investment for large projects is required, including construction of an integrated infrastructure network, the report on which I had the honour of presenting to this Parliament.

The Commission must make more tangible efforts than those made to date because it would put a bit of backbone into Europe. Only a sound, well-thought out, efficient and economical European energy policy will enable Europe to walk upright and in the right direction. All clarifications from the Commission in this regard that I have indicated will be well-received.

 
  
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  Alajos Mészáros (PPE ).(HU) Madam President, first of all I would like to thank my colleagues for raising this question. European policy needs to represent an innovation direction that is capable of ensuring a long-term, sustainable energy supply for the European Union. The Russian gas crisis, the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe and the depletion of fossil fuels are forcing us to find an answer to the question of energy for the future as soon as possible. The ‘Intelligent Energy – Europe’ programme formulated by the Commission definitely represents such a direction. Its main objective is to ensure clean, secure and sustainable energy for future generations. It supports energy efficiency, the use of renewable energy sources and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

We are not only able to help small and medium-sized enterprises with this programme, we can encourage innovative solutions, create jobs and support the issue of education and research as well. In spite of all this, unfortunately, the programme did not receive a specific position in the upcoming support system. This is why I would like to ask the Commission to do everything in its power to allow this programme to continue operating. I believe that even in spite of the concerns caused by Fukushima, we can still list atomic energy as a form of intelligent energy. It has been proved that atomic energy is capable of producing unlimited, clean and safe energy that does not involve the production of carbon dioxide. The fusion reactor built as a result of the ITER project can become just such an energy source in the future. Therefore, nuclear energy should be given a stable position in the ‘Intelligent Energy’ programme.

 
  
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  Ioan Enciu (S&D ).(RO) Madam President, I think that the success enjoyed so far by the programme in question provides solid proof of its usefulness and functionality. Therefore, I am in favour of continuing and improving the programme by providing it with a higher profile in the Horizon 2020 framework programme. However, one extremely important aspect which must be highlighted is the need to promote the Intelligent Energy Europe programme better in the new Member States too. Improving access to this programme must be balanced in Member States which are not involved in such projects at the moment, which ought to be actively promoted and encouraged.

In addition, providing better information about existing projects and the ways to access the funds would create greater cohesion at European level, as well as avoid widening the current disparities in terms of sustainable development.

 
  
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  Béla Kovács (NI ) . – (HU) Madam President, the ‘Intelligent Energy – Europe’ programme is an excellent initiative, from a completely authentic source. So there can be no doubt about the fulfilment of the EU energy strategies, through which the competitiveness of the European Union will soar and soon put emerging countries behind it, and, perhaps later, the rest of the world as well. Naturally all this will be implemented in a completely sustainable way. The poor Chinese will be trembling at the knees when they look towards the unbelievable development in the European Union. Or wait a minute, if I take a better look, they are actually doubled over in laughter, and this is what makes their knees tremble. They do not understand how it is possible to bail water out of a sinking boat with a teaspoon, not even bothering to mend the hole first. Ladies and gentlemen, let us speak seriously for once.

As an initial step we need to mend the broken backbone of the energy industry immediately, as I have said in my earlier speeches on several occasions. Once our ailing energy industry, especially electricity production, has got back on its feet, we can talk about the details, such as the ‘Intelligent Energy – Europe’ programme. However, it is not worth spending a lot on this either. Unfortunately only 2% of citizens are able to buy so-called green energy at its real price, so perhaps we should think about the other 98% sometimes. Unfortunately, it seems I was talking about atomic power plant construction all in vain; China has already made plans for them 20 years in advance. In other words, if this is how we are going to continue, sooner or later Europe will become an open-air museum where we use candles for lighting.

 
  
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  Danuta Jazłowiecka (PPE ). (PL) Madam President, one of the fundamental objectives of the Europe 2020 strategy is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to make the Union a global leader in the field of green technologies. In view of the current economic crisis, this objective is extremely ambitious and difficult to achieve. Therefore we should appreciate that we have an effective tool which can help us in this regard, namely Intelligent Energy for Europe. During the decade it has been in operation, we have seen very clearly that the principles adopted within the framework of this programme, as well as its mechanisms of action, contribute to greater energy efficiency, promote renewable energy sources and, above all, enhance the exchange of experience between scientists and experts in the field. It is well worth our while to ensure that this experience is not wasted. It is important that the new version of the programme is open to new technological and fuel opportunities which have appeared recently and which make it possible for some Member States, in particular those where changes are urgently needed, to bring about a real reduction in CO2 emissions. An example of a new source of energy of this kind that will improve Europe’s energy independence and which is worthy of attention is the shale gas deposits recently discovered in Poland.

The success of the current version of the programme lies in the fact that each project that is funded and implemented can be verified and evaluated in terms of its quantifiable results. Credit for this success goes to the experts and professional teams working in the affiliated implementing agency. It might be worthwhile considering whether this experience could be transferred to other instruments and mechanisms in order to increase the effectiveness of the measures taken by the Union and its Member States with a view to smart and sustainable development.

 
  
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  Edit Herczog (S&D ). - Madam President, we have the EU 2020 Strategy, we have a programme called Intelligent Energy Europe, we have an institution called the Executive Agency for Competitiveness and Innovation and the ELENA Facility, and the Commissioner is saying to us that the best way ahead is to cut all these things.

In fact, such a cut would be the most expensive way to get right away from our target! Therefore, what we have to do is to improve efficiency throughout Europe in order to get more SMEs involved. That is the way forward, and this is what Parliament will stand for – debating Horizon 2020, COSME and the MFF in the coming months.

 
  
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  Mario Pirillo (S&D ).(IT) Madam President, Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen, of all the EU’s instruments, the ‘Intelligent Energy’ programme has been the most successful. It has funded over 500 projects, involving more than 3 000 partners – the majority of which are small and medium-sized enterprises – not to speak of the added value that the programme has given to the renewable energy and energy efficiency sector.

Like my fellow Members, I am concerned about the future of the programme, which has played a central role in awareness raising actions, the exchange of good practice, and energy policy implementation in the European Union.

I therefore ask the European Commission what it intends to do in order to continue the programme, as stopping it would put an end to so many hopes. To conclude, I would like to ask what the programme is for the Multiannual Financial Framework that will provide the necessary funding.

 
  
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  Seán Kelly (PPE ). - Madam President, I think we learned last weekend how difficult it is to get unanimity on anything at a European level.

Therefore in matters relating to energy savings and efficiency, it takes a long time to penetrate the public’s mind. But I think, largely because of the success of the Intelligent Energy Europe programme, that this is now beginning to happen. From my experience, I am amazed at the number of businesses, towns and villages who have come to me over the last number of months with projects designed to ensure that they can make energy savings and be more efficient through new schemes. So for that reason it is very important that this scheme would continue, either in its present form or integrated into the multiannual financial framework.

I would be confident that Commissioner Oettinger, whom I listened to yesterday at the meeting of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy, and Commissioner Geoghegan-Quinn, will be of one mind and will form a package whereby all this can happen so that we can reach our targets of 80% savings by 2050.

 
  
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  Mairead McGuinness (PPE ). - Madam President, I think the Commissioner got the message from the House that we like this programme. It is simple, it works and therefore, at the very least, we want its objectives to be maintained and enshrined in any future programme. The concern we have is that we are not reaching our energy efficiency targets, as it will take time for the mindset of the wider public to be engaged in this issue and therefore to change in an appropriate manner.

In relation to Horizon 2020, our concern would be that this concept of intelligent energy might be lost within that bigger programme. Therefore, he must reassure us that this will not be the case. I end by saying that if it is not broken, why are we trying to fix it? I really think the Commissioner should take that message back to his colleagues.

 
  
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  Iosif Matula (PPE ).(RO) Madam President, the Intelligent Energy Europe programme offers the basis for sustainable development and the smart deployment of resources in the areas of renewable energy, transport, energy efficiency in buildings and industrial consumption.

The action areas provide the pieces of the puzzle we need to define the EU’s sustainable landscape of the future. Reducing polluting emissions and meeting the ambitious objectives proposed by the EU may have a chance of success through initiatives launched at local and regional level. However, a framework is required which is focused on action, providing better information and participation from the authorities at these levels.

Portals for clean vehicles, energy solutions for sustainable buildings, measures aimed at urban mobility or ‘manage energy’ programmes are concrete actions promoting sustainability and urban energy efficiency. The financial energy instruments from the Commission and the EIB can make an effective contribution to implementing programmes which promote sustainability.

 
  
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  Judith A. Merkies (S&D ). - (NL) Madam President, Commissioner, I appreciate the Commission’s attempts at simplification, setting clear objectives and what you call mainstreaming, but there is no need for us to reinvent the wheel. If something works, then it just works and you do not need to approach it from a different angle or start calling it by a different name. In that case, we can just keep it exactly as it is.

The Intelligent Energy Europe programme did work, as you said, because it had a real impact on citizens and SMEs. Indeed, as previous speakers have already said, getting x much closer to having a true European Union is going to take x amount of time, and that applies when it comes to this issue, as well. Your fellow Commissioner, Oettinger, said that yesterday, too. He said that the programme had definitely already been planned and that he would let us know during the week under which line. However, it seems to me that we have actually been caused a small amount of unnecessary inconvenience. From now on, I would like to know these things in advance and I would like to know precisely what this and that means.

Could you perhaps tell us exactly under which facility this programme is going to be set up, the exact size of the budget that is going to be allocated to it and precisely what its objectives are going to be? Will it be expanded and how do you intend to measure its effectiveness in future? Above all, are we going to see it re-emerge, for example, under the next Multiannual Financial Framework or the next Horizon programme? Can we not just keep these kinds of programmes as they are?

Moreover, I would just like to add that a great deal of attention has also been devoted to research in the Horizon 2020 programme, as well; that is a good thing. This is the very kind of programme – the kind which is very practical and which benefits SMEs – of which we currently have far too few, so that is an area we need to pay more attention to.

 
  
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  Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D ).(LT) Madam President, the “Intelligent Energy – Europe” programme has, since the time it was introduced back in 2003, attracted great interest from EU citizens and businesses alike. So far more than 500 EU-wide projects have been implemented, and these have contributed significantly to the EU’s capacity for innovation, the development of the information society and greater energy efficiency, including the development of renewable sources of energy. I agree with all the concerns expressed about the future of this programme and its prospects and believe that it should be extended into the next financial period. It must be given adequate funding so that as many research institutes and SMEs as possible from all Member States can participate in projects, thus contributing to the creation of real added value throughout the European Union.

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D ).(PT) Madam President, if there is a way for the European Union to assert itself in the knowledge economy, it is by clearly supporting energy production from renewable sources. That will reduce dependence on oil. The European Union should be committed to this challenge, and should continue to improve incentives for these investments.

By way of example, the Azores archipelago, originally formed by a volcanic process, has exceptional geothermal potential. In this case, the possibility of creating a renewables cluster means there is a need to support geothermal prospecting. On the island of São Miguel, for example, around 50% of the electricity consumed is produced from geothermal sources. Another example is the case of the island of Flores, 100% of whose electricity is already hydroelectric at certain times of year. The island of Graciosa is about to become the first island in the world to get 100% of its energy from renewable sources. This is the path that Europe has to follow determinedly, by supporting these laudable projects in model regions.

 
  
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  Jaroslav Paška (EFD ). - (SK) Madam President, to achieve sustainable economic growth, the European Union needs to ensure the availability of sufficient energy resources. At present, the Union is to a large extent dependent on energy imports, predominantly from Africa and Asia. Europe’s oil and gas resources are not large enough that it can afford not to seek alternative energy solutions, and it was therefore natural to launch the Intelligent Energy programme, which aims to promote the use of renewable energy resources and state-of-the-art sustainable energy solutions. However, the Intelligent Energy programme is only scheduled to run until the end of 2013, and therefore we must ask ourselves right now how we will continue with initiatives in the field of innovative energy and solutions beyond 2013. I, like my colleagues, expect that the European Commission will respond shortly to this highly topical question.

 
  
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  Czesław Adam Siekierski (PPE ). - (PL) Madam President, the programme under discussion obliges us to improve energy efficiency. Europe still does not make rational use of the energy resources available to it. It is very important that the existing programmes aimed at improving efficiency should cover an ever-broader range of energy users. Public educating on matters such as energy efficiency and reducing energy consumption is the most effective way to achieve long-lasting solutions for the creation of energy security and sustainable development.

The changes made in the new policy must continue to go hand in hand with environmental protection measures. Reducing CO2 emissions and energy consumption is still a key measure in this regard. We have a duty to future generations to care about environmental protection, and the way to achieve success in this area is to take a modern approach to energy-related issues and to obtain energy from renewable sources.

 
  
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  Silvia-Adriana Ţicău (S&D ).(RO) Madam President, we call for the Intelligent Energy Europe programme also to continue in the future financial perspective. The Intelligent Energy Europe programme encourages smart energy solutions to be adopted. The programme has available for the 2007-2013 period funding of EUR 730 million and provides 75% of the funding for the winning projects from among the annual project applications.

This programme has funded so far more than 500 European projects lasting 2-3 years, with 8-9 countries participating in each project. This means more than 3 000 beneficiaries from 31 countries. As regards increasing energy efficiency alone, more than 250 projects have been carried out in sectors such as transport, industry, energy services, energy efficiency in buildings and equipment.

I rate particularly positively the EU for Energy initiative funded by the Intelligent Energy Europe programme, whose aim is to increase Europe’s competitiveness. This year 476 projects have entered for the competition, submitted by 328 schools from every European Union Member State, as well as from Norway and Croatia.

We support, Commissioner, the continuation of the Intelligent Energy Europe programme in the future financial framework as well.

 
  
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  Janusz Lewandowski, Member of the Commission. Madam President, you do not need to convince me or the Commission about the usefulness of a programme that is performing so well. This usefulness and cost-effectiveness can be seen in a programme with a not-so-big budget of EUR 743 million that still has a huge leverage effect and impact on energy efficiency and renewable energy in the European Union.

As regards the involvement of small and medium-size companies, only part of the 3 000 partners – that is 1 500 partners – can be classified as small and medium-sized companies. The position of Parliament was not only visible as regards the awards; Parliament was able to increase the budget for this programme for 2011 by EUR 10 million and for 2012 by EUR 7.5 million. This is a commitment which is expressed in budgetary lines as well.

The programme will not disappear. The commitment cannot disappear because this is so conducive to the goals of the 2020 Strategy, and energy efficiency is among the seven priority areas of the Strategy for the Future of Europe.

We also have to respond to the need for mainstreaming programmes. Mainstreaming is clearly indicated in all the evaluations of various programmes of the European Union. Given the constraints of not being able to spend more money, we need in future to look at better spending. This is about the mainstreaming of programmes, not the disappearance of a programme that is performing so well.

What is the future of this programme? It will be placed under a consistent framework which links research development and market update within the growing envelope for Horizon 2020 – growing from EUR 50 billion to EUR 80 billion. The energy component is classified as secure, clean and efficient energy.

We cannot give up on the issue of energy security on the continent, on which we will be so dependent in the coming years. Energy security is an important aspect of Horizon 2020. It is clearly the place for an energy component which is classified as clean and efficient energy; it is the place for intelligent energy and for a dedicated element of this energy component. So it is going to be a very visible commitment, in monetary terms as well.

Of course this is not the only place to find money for intelligent, renewable and efficient energy. As you probably know, this is high in the hierarchy of the goals of the structural funds, which attract a much larger amount of money in so-called interim regions, namely the regions with a per capita GDP of less than 90% of the European Union average. There is a very limited range of goals, and energy efficiency is the number one area of the structural funds to which funding is to be committed in this type of region of Europe.

So we are looking at the position of intelligent energy in the multiannual framework. This could be more than EUR 1 billion instead of EUR 700 million, for example; I cannot give exact figures today, but I know that this is a growing envelope. Therefore, visibility and financial commitment is to be guaranteed in the multiannual framework for 2014-2020. The role of the European Parliament is very clear in shaping the future by shaping the rules of the game in this component of the multiannual framework.

 
  
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  President. - (IT) The debate is closed.

Written statements (Rule 149)

 
  
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  Elena Oana Antonescu (PPE ), in writing.(RO) The Europe 2020 strategy is one of the political instruments used by the European authorities to take on responsibility for reforming the energy system and commit to boosting the amount of energy obtained from renewable sources. At the same time, the European authorities must take account of the differences between national economies and Europe’s regions because it is important that developing energy programmes (including diversification of supply sources) and boosting the production of energy from renewable sources also take into account the requirements of the local environment. Last but not least, the European authorities must bear in mind that, unlike other areas where the cost of investment or procurement which needs to be made is lower, the development of energy programmes requires considerable effort.

In these circumstances, it is of paramount importance to outline an institutional vision for cofinancing which will meet the interests of the Europe 2020 strategy, as well as build a European economy which is not only more efficient and competitive, but also more inclusive. It is just as important for the development of the European Union that the EU executive responds by its actions to the problem of funding the Intelligent Energy Europe (IEE) programme. Similarly, the completion of the programme must provide an opportunity for making the most of the results achieved and creating a successor to it, capable of overcoming the problems that the IEE faced.

 
  
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  Elena Băsescu (PPE ), in writing.(RO) The Intelligent Energy Europe programme has been a key element in the diversification of the European Union’s energy sources. The financial framework provided and the support from the Executive Agency for Competitiveness and Innovation have ensured the project’s consistency. It is vital to continue it for the future of Europe’s energy security.

Romania has participated in numerous projects funded by this programme, especially in the field of renewable energy. I will also mention here the ‘Energy management ambassadors’ partnership. After enjoying real success in France, this was implemented in my country too. The aim is to train a group of experts locally who will disseminate information among the general public. The consultancy offered in this framework is targeted at deprived social groups in particular, covering almost 160 000 households. The focus is on providing energy efficiency and reducing the daily consumption of electricity.

 
  
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  Elisabetta Gardini (PPE ), in writing. (IT) The European Union has developed a series of legislative measures and strategic decisions to make Europe a competitive and sustainable area. However, the entities involved need to be involved and active in all the policies. This is why the contribution of the Intelligent Energy Europe programme through the Executive Agency for Competitiveness and Innovation (EACI) in the realm of energy efficiency is crucial. We need to underline that the Intelligent Energy Europe programme plays a strategically important a role in EU economic recovery and the revival of fundamental issues such as energy security, the environment and health. However, I believe that it is crucial to simplify the rules for access to finance in order to allow greater participation by small and medium-sized enterprises and to open up research projects to young researchers. We must not forget our achievements thus far, but we must also face the new challenges created by a global market in which our closest competitors are China and the US. I especially hope that on the next Info Day on 24 January 2012 preference will be given to the participation of researchers in those parts of Europe that are at the bottom of the list when it comes to the awarding of grants, in order to promote the importance of equal opportunities for researchers and coordinators in the various regions of Europe.

 
  
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  Pavel Poc (S&D ), in writing . – (CS) The current crisis has shown clearly that rational and good solutions benefitting citizens cannot be achieved just through the operation of market forces. I welcome the results of the Intelligent Energy Europe (IEE) programme, which about more than just specific successful projects and sharing their results. It is about developing a broader awareness of the importance of the rational conduct of European civilisation. Through support for research and innovation with investments in projects for sustainable energy, despite some partial failures or problems, the actual question of sustainable energy has come onto the agenda. Without energy aware decision-making by public authorities, and without public pressure on such decision-making, it would be quite impossible to achieve the goals we are now discussing in relation to the energy efficiency directive. The Multiannual Financial Framework contains no mention of continuing the IEE programme. Horizon 2020, the framework programme for research and innovation as part of the Multiannual Financial Framework for 2014-2020, must therefore take on the role of the IEE, and above all secure sufficient funding for this programme. Without further support and facilitation of decision-making processes respecting energy efficiency, it will not be possible to ensure the internalisation of external costs in the area of transport, or to create a new impulse over intelligent networks. Without economical and innovative thinking, it will not be possible to begin implementing large-scale integrated projects in the field of energy, and without these the European energy sector will not become sustainable.

 

5. EU competition policy (debate)
Video of the speeches
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  President. The next item is the report (A7-0424/2011 ) by Andreas Schwab, on behalf of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs, on the Annual Report on EU Competition Policy (2011/2094(INI) ).

 
  
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  Andreas Schwab, rapporteur . – (DE) Madam President, Mr Vice-President, ladies and gentlemen, first of all, I would like to thank the European Commission for presenting the 40th Annual Report on EU Competition Policy, while at the same time expressing my gratitude to my colleagues in the relevant committees, namely Mr Ashley Fox for the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection and Mr Marinescu from the Group of the European People's Party (Christian Democrats), for their contributions to the drafting of this year's statement on competition policy by the European Parliament.

We have worked hard within a tight schedule to agree the report presented by the Commission this year so that there is a stronger link between the reply from Parliament and the Commission’s proposal. I am extremely grateful to my fellow Members, especially the shadow rapporteurs in the committee, for their commitment in ensuring that this was possible today. The reason for this sometimes somewhat more pressing haste was the fact that we have obviously included a point in paragraph 21 that is contentious on formal grounds. For this reason, I intend requesting that we should postpone the vote, but only the vote, until February, so that we can clarify this point for all our fellow Members in the interests of a tidy report.

This is the 40th  anniversary of the Commission’s Annual Report on EU Competition Policy and it is evident that European competition policy, the work of the European Commission in the area of competition law and state aid control is a unique success for the single market and its consumers. That is why I believe that the European Parliament should show more appreciation for this work by the European Commission from time to time, focusing more on the link between the control of dominant market structures, on the one hand, and direct gains for consumers on the other. We managed this very well at the event in Poznań hosted by the Polish Presidency a few weeks ago to mark the anniversary of competition policy and consumer protection, where it was plainly evident that consumer protection and competition policy are two sides of the same coin. Thus, we have three major focuses in the area of competition policy in the European Commission this year.

On the one hand, in this report, which was approved by a very broad majority of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs, the European Parliament is seeking even tighter controls on the state aid afforded to banks in the aftermath of the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008. Mr Almunia, we appreciate your efforts, but believe that some banks were rescued from bankruptcy at that time that experienced difficulties not just because of the Lehman Brothers collapse, which is why we would expressly request that you look very closely at this issue and examine critically the criteria used by the Member States in awarding state aid in the banking sector. Of course, this is still a little early and new problems are arising all the time. Nonetheless, we wanted to make a clear appeal to you in this regard.

The second focus is on the energy sector, where consumer protection plays a major role. We want to see the oligarchy-like structures found in the energy sector come more under the control of the European Commission because consumers often get the impression that they have very few rights in relation to the energy providers and the structure of energy supply in Europe is still not as competitive as we would like.

Thirdly, the report deals with legal issues in relation to the guiding principles and Council Regulation No 1/2003, which provide the basis for the European Commission’s decisions on fines. Our particular wish here is that this proposal in relation to what you call mono-product businesses, in other words small and medium-sized enterprises, should be implemented soon.

We welcome the excellent cooperation with the European Commission on the restructuring of these reports, which should make them somewhat easier to read and to explain to others. We hope that we can succeed in focusing on the value of competition policy for consumer protection and for Europe’s citizens.

 
  
  

IN THE CHAIR: ANNI PODIMATA
Vice-President

 
  
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  Joaquín Almunia, Vice-President of the Commission. (ES) Madam President, many thanks, Mr Schwab for your good work in producing this report on our Annual Report on EU Competition Policy 2010. I would also like to thank the rapporteurs of other committees of this House, such as the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection and the Committee on Transport and Tourism, who have also contributed to the report, for the work carried out by them.

In the Report on Competition Policy 2010, the Commission provides an account of its actions, as every year. As Mr Schwab says, there are already 40 reports on the development of a policy that is central to the realisation of the internal market and to the creation of conditions for economic growth, innovation and, generally, for the progress of our economies, thinking always – and I agree with what Mr Schwab has said – of citizens as consumers of goods or users of services, these being the ultimate beneficiaries of competition policy.

We are developing competition policy in times of crisis and I agree with Mr Schwab’s opinion, and we discussed this recently in the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs, when I presented the Commission’s Work Programme for 2012 in this area: competition policy must take into account the fact that we are in crisis, but must not be weakened by the fact that we are in crisis, whether in the fight against cartels, where, of course, we have to continue to be extremely rigorous, or in the policy and in actions against abuses of dominant market position. In difficult times, it has a much more negative effect on companies and on all citizens if those in a position of power in the market abuse their power in order to obtain particular advantages to the detriment of other competitors and to the detriment of consumers.

We must continue to be vigilant as regards the possible competition risks of mergers and acquisitions, which are beginning to pick up because there is a lot of liquidity in companies and funds both within and beyond EU boundaries and there are purchase prices for assets and purchase prices for companies which have reduced as a consequence of the crisis and that give rise to opportunities. Accordingly, we continue to be active in every aspect of the fight against cartels, the abuse of dominant position and merger and acquisition control policy, above all because we are in crisis.

Of course, as Mr Schwab has said, the control of state aid, of public aid, is fundamental. On the one hand, in times of crisis, public aid increases and at this point I will refer specifically to aid to the financial system although aid to non-financial sectors has also increased during the years of crisis, and we have had a specific timeframe for the control of state aid in times of crisis, which has prevented protectionist temptations from materialising and has prevented the creation of barriers in the internal market as a consequence of public aid being used defensively to protect the companies of one country against the rest of the countries of the EU.

At this moment in time, that public aid framework is subject to limits in the majority of Member States and since the Member States are subject to very strict fiscal consolidation programmes, they have to prioritise the use of their public funds much better and much more carefully. Accordingly, in regulating state aid we must not encourage Member States to spend more but rather we must be strict in controlling public aid so that they spend more wisely and fine-tune their priorities. Resources are scarcer in public coffers and the need to encourage those activities that have a future, those activities that must pull our economies along and move towards an inclusive model of sustainable growth that is compatible with our environmental objectives is key.

Finally, there is aid to the financial system. As Mr Schwab has said, right from the start of the crisis in 2007 but above all since Lehman went into liquidation in September 2008 we, the Member States and the European institutions, have faced a dilemma. Either we authorised exceptional aid for the financial system or the financial system collapsed, and the collapse of the financial system would have frozen our economic activities for we cannot maintain economic activity without a reasonable functioning of the financial system. However, that public aid, basically in the form of bank guarantees and other forms of security but also the injection of public capital into a series of financial entities, or liquidity support or measures for dealing with impaired assets, has reached a level that is beyond considerable.

The Commission, through me as Competition Commissioner, has sent this Parliament a document, a study not only of the scale of such aid but also of its impact through to the end of 2010, a study which can, I hope, be updated in the coming months to take account of what has happened in 2011. Such aid to the financial system has, in general terms, resulted in about 9-10 points of GDP being offered in the form of guarantees or other forms of security by Member States in support of the financial system.

It has to be said that so far those guarantees and other forms of security have only been called upon in one case; in the rest of the cases it is a risk but a risk that has not materialised and that in the meantime permits Member States to receive income in exchange for providing that protection, that guarantee. About 3% of European GDP has been channelled to financial entities by way of public capital. That public capital has begun to be returned but there are still very significant financial entities in several EU countries in the capital of which the State has had to take a holding and in those cases there is clearly an assumption of risk. One per cent of GDP is aimed at public resources for dealing with impaired assets.

I had hoped to bring this special system, which is an exceptional system for times of crisis, to an end at the end of this year. Unfortunately, this is impossible with the new tensions that have been noted in the market since the summer, since August. We need to continue with this exceptional framework, this exceptional system of public aid for the financial system in times of crisis. I hope that in a few months, before the end of 2012, I will be able to come to this House to tell you that that system is no longer necessary but in the meantime it will be necessary, with the adaptations that we have included.

One thing that I can say over and over again, which I have already said in this plenary session and on several occasions in the Committee for Economic and Monetary Affairs, is that the rigour that we apply to the control of such aid and the requirements imposed in exchange for such aid, in terms of restructuring of the entities that benefit, in terms of adequate burden-sharing between all the parties who benefit from such aid and the establishment of terms and conditions so that additional distortions are not created in our internal market as a consequence of such aid, those three principles still hold good and in fact hold good now more than ever to the extent that the need for that special treatment in times of crisis lasts longer than three years.

This is what I wanted to say. I express my thanks once again for the work carried out by Mr Schwab, by his colleagues on other committees and by the members of this Parliament in the form of this report.

Finally, I agree with Mr Schwab that from the next edition onwards, as discussed with him and his colleagues, the report will be more of a summary insofar as it relates to information that is available from other sources. We will not repeat information in the report that is available in real time on websites or that has been made available previously. In the report we will provide a better focus on questions that deserve special analysis and discussion because, as the honourable Members know, although many of the decisions in competition policy fall exclusively within the competence of the Commission, my intention from the outset has been and will remain until the end to keep Parliament involved on a permanent basis and in ongoing dialogue with the Commission so that EU competition policy meets all of its objectives.

 
  
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  Ashley Fox, rapporteur for the opinion of the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection. Madam President, can I start by thanking Andreas Schwab for delivering a sound report on competition policy.

Competition policy within the single market is a key area in which Europe can deliver for its citizens. It has brought many benefits for consumers: reducing costs, making the single market more efficient and removing unjustified obstacles to the free movement of goods, services and capital.

Although competition policy has made great progress in many areas, failures still remain with regard to price transparency, the food supply change and energy prices. Mr Almunia, I agree with you and with Mr Schwab’s comments about controlling state aid. I know we are living in exceptional times but we look forward to you making progress on this issue.

Increasing price transparency should be our key goal for 2012. It is essential for consumers so that they can assess the market and analyse pricing structures. This will help lower prices for all our constituents; something which is more necessary than ever at this difficult time.

 
  
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  Marian-Jean Marinescu, rapporteur for the opinion of the Committee on Transport and Tourism.(RO) Madam President, there are a few key points in the transport sector that need to be clarified. In the rail transport sector, implementing the Single European Railway Area, opening up the market, continuing to cancel the historic debts of companies in this sector and strengthening the regulatory bodies are key factors for ensuring fair competition.

The procedures for identifying failure to meet obligations, initiated by the Commission against Member States for not implementing the First Railway Package properly, must be continued. In the aviation sector, the most important aspect is to complete the Single European Sky because it will provide a performance scheme that will guarantee pricing transparency.

Passengers now enjoy rights in every transport sector. I believe that we proposed this and I believe that it is a good thing that there is also a charter for tourists, in the same spirit. I wish to thank Mr Schwab and Mr Fox for their cooperation.

 
  
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  Markus Ferber, on behalf of the PPE Group. (DE) Madam President, Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen, I would first like to join in thanking our rapporteur and all those who worked on the report because this is certainly not a routine task, even if this is the fortieth time we have dealt with competition policy on the basis of a report from the Commission.

I would like to thank the Commissioner for his very comprehensive presentation – 2010 was, of course, the first year in which you had full responsibility for competition policy. Turning to something you mentioned yourself, I would like to ask that some practices in the area of public aid in the banking sector should be eradicated because the new stress tests required by the European banking supervision system indicate a need for further recapitalisation for the banks. I do not believe that it will contribute anything to the stability of the banking system if we still have a large number of unresolved or outstanding old cases on the one hand, while new cases are being created on the other because pressure is increasing to raise the equity capital quota accordingly, particularly in the area of private banks. Hence my urgent plea to you, Commissioner, to find a swift solution that will help stabilise the banking sector so that it can withstand the challenges of the international environment.

The second major issue, the control of mergers, will continue to concern us increasingly in the years ahead. Here, too, I can only urge you to continue on the clear and transparent path taken by the Commission to date within the framework of merger control. It is in the interests of all involved, particularly the consumer, that we should ensure that competition is possible in the area of merger control, whether in larger or other structures, which is not for me to judge.

With this in mind, I would like to thank all those who have been involved. I hope, Commissioner, that we will find a solution soon, particularly in the banking sector.

 
  
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  Peter Skinner, on behalf of the S&D Group. Madam President, I would like to thank the rapporteur. There has been much cooperation and good work done between us, the shadows and the competition taskforce which was set up, to which we all belong.

It is a new year, Commissioner, for Parliament and Commission relations, which have been very positive and fruitful. We have made positive progress in key areas. We have looked at sector-specific issues, such as state aid, and sectors of general economic interest, for example. These are proving fruitful engagements with the Commission, but much more must still be done.

In this report – as the rapporteur has just indicated – we have targeted certain specific aspects of interest. I will outline two. First, fining policy, where we have called for greater transparency in the procedures in determining fines adopted for cartels. I agree with the Commissioner and the rapporteur on the need to balance the protection of the consumer with a fair, clear procedure proportionate to the effects. On state aid and the financial sector – much mentioned just now – Member States, either at municipal or federal level, have been forced to stabilise the financial situations in their countries. The Commission is right not to pull the carpet from under the feet of this stability. However, we do need to establish the correct controls to ensure that the level playing field is not ignored. We have to determine what the real need is instead of what is just for advantage and could be proved to be advantageous.

I would like to say that the S&D Group supports this report and supports the rapporteur’s work. He has done much to bring together many of the aspects that we have agreed – and perhaps even disagreed – on in the past. I think these issues are right to be discussed here and I wish him the very best in success on this report.

 
  
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  Sophia in 't Veld, on behalf of the ALDE Group. Madam President, first of all I would like to extend my thanks to the rapporteur, Mr Schwab, who I think is the real leader of the ‘C Team’ – the competition team – this year. He has done an excellent job.

As you know, Liberals attach great importance to competition policies, not only as a means of protecting consumer interests – as was rightly pointed out – but also to foster innovative, dynamic and competitive European markets. We need to realise that we are not just competing with each other, but that Europe should also be a strong economic actor in the global markets. We need strong competition policies and controls, in particular in times of economic crisis.

Mr Almunia is absolutely right when he says that in these times state aid rules should not be relaxed, but they should actually be much tighter and much stricter than normal, because we have to keep in mind that state aid distorts competition. It is also a question of taxpayers’ money in the end.

Regarding state aid for banks, there is a very good proposal in paragraph 14 of the report for a European system – European solutions – for failing banks. If we had had a European solution then maybe the whole problem of banks that were too big to fail would have had a completely different dimension, because banks are only too big to fail in relation to the authority that bails them out. In contrast, I am not very happy about an earlier report by this House that calls for relaxing the state aid rules for services of general interest.

On the competition dialogue, I am very pleased with the proposals. Our proposals in no way undermine or impinge upon the powers of the European Commission. Quite on the contrary; they reflect the reality of the development of a political union in which economic policies and economic coordination become ever more important.

Finally, I welcome the fact that the European Commission now seems to be moving in the direction of a sector inquiry into online and search advertising. This was long overdue.

 
  
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  Philippe Lamberts, on behalf of the Verts/ALE Group.(FR) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, today it is clearly the banks that pose the greatest threat to the operation of the internal market and, I would argue, to the future of the European economy.

Indeed, some banks have become too large and too important, thereby gaining intolerable market power. They are able to squeeze out smaller competitors and to absorb the activities hitherto carried out by others. I have in mind the activities of stock exchanges, in which they want to assert themselves as marketplaces in place of the established exchanges.

Not content with abusing their market power, the largest of these banks seek to gain political power, the most shocking example of which is, in my opinion, the welcome accorded to the head of Deutsche Bank at the Summit of Heads of State or Government held on 21 July, with all the regard to due to Heads of State.

How is this possible? Because, on the one hand, these large banks enjoy the implicit guarantee of the taxpayer – as Ms in ’t Veld has pointed out – but also, on the other hand, because the European Central Bank (ECB) grants them a guarantee of lender of last resort; in other words it guarantees them unlimited liquidity.

It is striking to note that this same bank, the ECB, which finds it intolerable to give a guarantee of lender of last resort to the Member States, has absolutely no problem giving this very same guarantee to private institutions. This is simply the result of an ideological choice, which consists in saying that, by their very nature, governments and states are not trustworthy, whereas banks – large or small – are. This ideological mould clearly has to be broken.

on behalf of the Verts/ALE Group. too big to fail,

(FR) the systemic banks should, quite simply, not exist.

Too big to fail is too dangerous to exist!

(FR) Mr Almunia, aside from the competition policy you are pursuing – successfully, I think – the texts we will adopt in 2012 – the Capital Requirements Directive (CRD IV), the directive on the resolution of banking crises – should, in my view, be an opportunity for us to reduce the market power of these banking institutions. This is where we will see if we can find, in this House, a majority to reduce the banking industry to a size, and to introduce practices, more compatible with the general interest.

 
  
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  Derk Jan Eppink, on behalf of the ECR Group. Madam President, the cornerstone of EU competition policy has always been the elimination of obstacles to the free movement of goods, services, persons and capital. I am pleased to know that the European Commission increasingly uses economic analyses when shaping competition policy, and I hope that it will continue to follow this course in the future; ultimately competition is about economics.

A balanced approach to competition policy combines elements of both public and private enforcement. Public enforcement is essential to fully achieve the goals of the single market and to ensure the enforcement of EU competition law by the Commission and by the national competition authorities. Private enforcement is compensatory in nature, in the sense that it promotes a personal interest in the private actor initiating it. However, private actions also help to pursue the public interest of deterrence.

I mentioned at a meeting of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs in October that, when it comes to collective redress, Mr Lehne behaves like a shadow Commissioner for competition policy. The ECR Group cannot support his approach of a horizontal instrument. We would like to see a system of access to national collective redress systems for those in other Member States, based on a non-binding framework and specific sectoral measures.

In the 2010 competition policy report I appreciate very much the emphasis on the need to discontinue as soon as possible the temporary state aid rules adopted in the context of the financial and economic crisis. Furthermore, I strongly support the suggestion to the Commission that it should take into account the impact, in terms of distortion of competition, of ECB liquidity support provided to banks during the rescue stage.

Finally, let me thank Mr Schwab, the rapporteur, for his good cooperation. I hope that we can continue to work together in the same constructive spirit.

 
  
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  Claudio Morganti, on behalf of the EFD Group.(IT) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, a serious competition policy should benefit everyone, in the first place the consumers, who are the market’s end users.

The report deals with some areas that are still problematic, such as telecommunications and banking. The latter especially so, given the major changes that have taken place over the last few months. However, there is one sector that has not been mentioned on which I tabled a question to the Commission, which replied to me this week.

I am referring to insurance, especially car and motorcycle insurance. The Commission claims that there are no problems because of the number of players on the market.

However, in my view, it is not just quantity that creates competition, but also and above all quality. It would appear that quality is something that is missing in Italy, if, as is the case, there has been a general, widespread and substantial rise in policy costs, which is clearly to the detriment of all citizens and consumers.

Banking is another sector that merits special attention, and in fact over the last few months several European countries have had to intervene to save a large number of banks from failing. I do not wish to see the banking giants again taking advantage to implement policies – often agreed amongst themselves – which do not take the slightest notice of the real needs of ordinary customers and citizens.

Even in basic banking services there seem to be agreements that lack transparency, which keep prices high across the board. This approach makes it impossible to have a real and effective alternative, and fails to comply with the basic and essential rules of competition.

 
  
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  Hans-Peter Martin (NI ).(DE) Madam President, I salute the rapporteur for his hard work. However, we must continue to deal with the core problems. Mr Ferber and Mr Lamberts have referred to these already. There has been a failure in the banking sector. The fact that we allowed so many institutions to be created within the framework of the internal market that have now become systemic risks is something that taxpayers are now being asked to take on the chin. You need to take action here and abandon the ideologically blinkered approach that allows you to justify your inaction.

That brings me to the question of antitrust law. Here, too, it is high time that we analysed the key figures used to evaluate market dominance on a pan-European basis and considered whether we do not need closer measurement here. It is evident in a large number of areas that this one-third principle also leads to concentrations that tend to disadvantage individual consumers, rather than bringing them benefits.

This report was produced at a time when we were still unaware of the decisions of the last EU summit. It will be very interesting to see what the consequences will be in the City of London of the British Government’s announced withdrawal and what conclusions the Commission will draw from this. I can only urge you to be vigilant and not to allow the City of London simply to thumb its nose at us.

 
  
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  Krišjānis Kariņš (PPE ). (LV) Madam President, Commissioner, in the European Union, we pay very close attention to budget austerity measures and this is certainly as it should be, because our governments can no longer spend money that they do not have. However, it is just as important, or perhaps even more important, to think and talk about how we will promote economic growth than it is to think about how to save money. The key issue and the opportunity for us to promote economic growth in Europe is to directly increase internal competition within the European Union. There are two areas I want to discuss in particular: the service sector and the energy sector. The service sector in the European Union accounts for 70% of all economic activity, but we know that unfortunately many businesses are actually still denied the opportunity to operate cross-border. This sector has to be opened up. The same applies to the energy sector. We know very well that in many European Union Member States no competition actually exists in the energy market. For example, in Latvia’s gas sector, there still exists a 100% monopoly; moreover, a monopoly that is a subsidiary of a third country. Thus, in order to promote economic growth in the European Union, serious attention should be devoted to increasing competition in both the service sector and the energy sector. All European citizens will benefit. Thank you for your attention.

 
  
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  Antolín Sánchez Presedo (S&D ).(ES) Madam President, Vice-President Almunia, the Annual Report on EU Competition Policy 2010 is the 40th in this series of Commission reports.

The various reports reflect the evolution of competition policy and its essential role in the sustainability of the European project. Competition policy has established a demanding framework for extraordinary responses to the crisis, responses which, in many cases, take the form of recapitalisation, guarantees and liquidity support. The responses must be proportional; they must establish a fair division of responsibility and not distort the markets to the detriment of competitors which in the end belong to customers, consumers, taxpayers and all citizens.

One key aspect of this report relates to the exercise of collective actions so that the victims of competition breaches can obtain compensation for damages. We have reached an important consensus in committee with the invaluable contribution of Mr Schwab. Sadly, however, the chosen method of incorporating it as an annex to this report was considered unacceptable.

This report, therefore, has been severely hacked about. What I propose is that voting be postponed so that we can incorporate the set of compromises reached on the Committee for Economic and Monetary Affairs and this can be supported by Parliament.

The Commission has announced the launch of an initiative during the next year on this subject and this initiative brooks no delay. Parliament can ensure its consistency with other initiatives that may be adopted and the Commission must present it ambitiously, taking into account the specifics of competition law and contemplating all necessary measures to ensure its effectiveness.

 
  
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  Olle Schmidt (ALDE ).(SV) Madam President, I would like to thank the rapporteur and the Commissioner. You are an important watchdog in a Europe that, in the wake of the economic crisis, has seen far too many state interventions in order to deal with acute situations. We know that the banking and automotive sectors have had a difficult time, but temporary measures must be exactly that – temporary – so that aid does not distort competition. In this regard, the Commission certainly has a delicate task weighing up the various interests in bleak times.

We need to develop more ways of strengthening consumers’ rights, and one such way is precisely by means of these group claims. Joining together in a group claim makes consumers’ position stronger and they can assert their rights more easily than if they were standing alone. Europe needs a modern legal system in order to safeguard the rights of ordinary consumers, but not an American system. I think that Mr Eppink ought to have a rethink. It is disappointing that the EU can never get down to action, and this unfortunately applies to the European Parliament, too.

 
  
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  Kay Swinburne (ECR ). - Madam President, good competition policy should ensure the right environment for an innovative business culture which, in turn, will yield sustainable economic growth. We need to ensure that the EU single market becomes a competitive and dynamic place to do business again.

One area where we must move cautiously is in the development of an increasingly complex regulatory environment, especially for global financial services, where reducing risk needs to be balanced with damaging our global competitiveness. We should only regulate where there has been a proven need and with proportionate measures.

An example would be the G20 agreement to better regulate the world’s derivative markets. However, when we mandate the use of post-trade activities, such as central clearing, we need to ensure that we are not now mandating a new EU monopoly of service. With increased competition comes natural fragmentation of the market, which is then often followed by a wave of consolidation. We are seeing this trend in the plethora of training venues which emerged post-MiFID (Markets in Financial Instruments Directive) and are now witnessing market consolidation amongst exchanges and Multilateral Trading Facilities.

Legislation needs to be able to withstand these market trends and, where it cannot adequately do so, DG Competition will need to protect Europe’s competitive landscape. We need to ensure effective competition policy at all times so we can encourage new entrants and innovation. This is the only way we will grow.

 
  
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  Jaroslav Paška (EFD ). - (SK) Madam President, the Annual Report on EU Competition Policy assesses the current state of European policy in this area.

Despite the Union’s extensive and numerous measures to support honest and fair competition in trade, our citizens are still indicating certain reservations to us about the fair behaviour of entities on the European market. In the area of food prices in particular, opacity of price setting is a very sensitive and closely monitored issue. A more precise analysis of costs, prices and margins in all areas of the food supply chain would certainly contribute to the objectification of price rises and to an increase in consumer confidence. Similarly, the sustained increases in energy prices result in, and are marked by, substantial consumer mistrust and the belief that energy suppliers are abusing their dominant position. Greater transparency in the setting of energy prices and improved supervision of regulatory authorities could help to restore consumer confidence in this area as well. The lack of real competition in the mobile operator roaming market is also a problem which is reflected in prices and worries most of our citizens daily.

It is therefore important to monitor continuously the level of competition and to react flexibly to the distortions created.

 
  
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  Thomas Mann (PPE ).(DE) Madam President, competition policy in the EU brings enormous benefits to business and consumers, as well as making a substantial contribution to completing the implementation of the free movement of people, capital, goods and services. As a result of the worldwide financial crisis, however, the environment has become a little tougher. Thus, aid to the banks in EU Member States may be questionable in terms of market economics, but it is nonetheless something that cannot be avoided. In the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs we insisted that these measures must be linked to strict regulations beyond 2011. Distortions of competition are to be avoided, all aid that leads to greater market clout for a few large banks is to be questioned. We are calling for sanctions, such as monetary fines, for example, whenever anticompetitive practices are uncovered. Violations of antitrust law should receive stiff penalties, transparent framework conditions should provide for greater competitiveness in implementing the single market for energy, as well as in the still underdeveloped area of cross-border transactions. The same should apply to rating agencies, which tend to abuse their dominant position. The EU must be ready to play an active role in international networks, taking on positions of leadership.

We are very much indebted to our colleague Mr Schwab for this ambitious report. He is sending a clear signal for how fully functional competition can be achieved.

 
  
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  George Sabin Cutaş (S&D ).(RO) Madam President, the European Union’s competition policy has clearly led over the years to eliminating the numerous obstacles preventing the free movement of goods, services and persons, and has enabled European consumers’ interests to be protected. However, I believe that the relevant regulation can be improved.

I am going to mention here a single topic among those dealt with in this report, which is the regulation of credit rating agencies. Typical features of this oligopoly sector include barriers preventing market access, lack of transparency and conflicts of interest.

Unfortunately, the assessments published by these agencies are not simple opinions. They affect the well-being of all European citizens by pushing up interest rates and increasing price volatility. However, we lack strict regulations on transparency and on making the agencies accountable for the errors they have made. The European executive must step up its efforts to increase competition in this sector. This is why I welcome its recent proposal on this matter, while emphasising that the option of setting up a public European credit rating agency needs to be considered. The aim of making such an institution independent from the private sector would be to increase competition and eliminate conflicts of interest.

 
  
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  Cristian Silviu Buşoi (ALDE ) . – (RO) Madam President, I too wish to congratulate Mr Schwab for this excellent report. There are three points I wish to raise for discussion. With regard to the temporary state aid regime, we must acknowledge that this regime has been useful and that it was basically a good idea to extend it. We cannot, of course, continue extending it indefinitely and, if we are going to need to make these extensions, we must add strict conditions, especially with regard to the banking system. I am referring here to the distribution of dividends and the size of the balance sheet, because a balance needs to be struck between the banking system’s stability and an adequate level of competition.

With regard to the energy package, I urge the Commission to be extremely vigilant at a time when most Member States are late in implementing the Third Energy Package. With regard to the amount of the antitrust fines, I agree on staggering the payments, as there is no need for us to make European businesses bankrupt. However, this must not be an excuse either for those who deliberately engaged in anticompetitive practices.

 
  
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  Adam Bielan (ECR ). - (PL) Madam President, first of all, I would like to offer my sincere thanks to the rapporteur, Mr Schwab, for drafting a very good report. However, I would like to draw attention to something that is rather odd: we are examining a report for the year 2010, almost 12 months after its completion. I believe that in future Parliament should do its utmost to speed up work, particularly since competition policy is a fundamental tool for improving the quality of goods and services, as well as increasing consumer well-being.

The free movement of goods, services and capital stimulates the development of the single market, at the same time as strengthening consumer protection. A sustainable pricing policy is crucial for boosting competition and increasing the value of product choice. A particularly conspicuous example is the lack of competition in the roaming market. Despite the introduction of the new framework legislation in this area, there is still an obvious need for yet greater price transparency. Further action is therefore necessary in order to achieve the aim of eliminating differences between the cost of roaming and domestic tariffs. Something else that should attract our attention is poor price transparency and the complexity of the supply chain in the food sector. Providing consumers with more choice and avoiding unfair discrimination will certainly help to improve the situation.

 
  
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  Tomasz Piotr Poręba (ECR ). - (PL) Madam President, at a time of crisis Europe needs to increase competitiveness, since this will make a significant contribution to its economic growth. The key here is the role of the common market, whose proper functioning and development is in fact determined by competition policy. The policy of strengthening competitiveness may become an effective tool in the fight against the crisis, but it must be properly targeted in order for this to happen.

We all remember the spectacular disaster of the Lisbon Strategy, which was meant to make the European Union the most competitive economy in the world. Attempts to make the EU the most competitive global economy have failed because the previous paradigm of economic integration has changed. All attempts to control the economy at European level, including the Lisbon Strategy itself, have met with disaster. Competition policy should therefore be used to uncover Europe’s hidden economic potential, instead of being a tool for complex economic engineering. We must not forget this, especially at a time of crisis, when competitiveness policy has a special role to play.

 
  
 

(End of the ‘catch the eye’ procedure)

 
  
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  Mairead McGuinness (PPE ). - Madam President, I would like to thank my colleague Andreas Schwab for this very readable and excellent competition report and in particular, on behalf of the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development, for paragraphs 41, 42 and 43, because they deal in particular with the food supply chain. The call for an investigation into the situation in the retail sector because of alleged abuse of market power by dominant retail chains is particularly welcome. But it is not just because it would have a negative effect on small retailers and producers, it also has a negative effect on consumers. If we have too few controlling this chain, we will have less choice as consumers, and that is really bad for us.

I gather that the high-level forum for the better functioning of the food supply chain is making some slow progress. It seems to me that we in this House need to know exactly what is happening in that discussion at Commission level with the stakeholders, and I hope there will be a report brought to Parliament in the middle of next year.

 
  
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  Czesław Adam Siekierski (PPE ). - (PL) Madam President, competition policy defines the rules for the functioning of the single European market, which is the cornerstone of the European Union and the source of its success. I would like to draw attention to the following problems. Firstly, concentration, mergers and fusions can improve cost-effectiveness and strengthen the market position of the newly formed business unit, but we must remember that market domination and monopolisation leads to restricted competition and a worse position for consumers. Secondly, in recent times we have allocated huge amounts to rescue banks. Ultimately, these sums were paid by the taxpayer. At the same time, the programme for the free distribution of food to the most deprived in the European Union has been blocked for over two years, its cost being only EUR 500 million per year. Finally, the energy market must be monitored very closely both at EU level and nationally, since the present increase in energy costs is a very pressing problem for consumers. A similar situation can be seen in the food market. I would like to congratulate the rapporteur on a good report.

 
  
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  Silvia-Adriana Ţicău (S&D ).(RO) Madam President, I would like to congratulate Mr Schwab for his report. I wish to welcome the adoption of the Third Railway Package, which will increase competition in the railway transport sector. I believe that this marks progress towards achieving a Single European Transport Area.

As a member of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy and Parliament’s rapporteur for the report on e -governance, I would like to stress how important it is to implement public e- procurement systems for increasing transparency and access to the public procurement market, which amounts to 16% of EU GDP. In addition, to allow a company in one Member State to participate in a public e -tender in another Member State, I call on the Commission to speed up the amendment to the Electronic Signature Directive so that we can ensure that it is mutually recognised throughout the European Union.

Lastly, Madam President, I wish to ask the Commission to revise the legislation so that we can give greater negotiating power to the end consumer. Unfortunately, people very often do not read a services contract and do not have any negotiating power either in amending its clauses.

 
  
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  Petru Constantin Luhan (PPE ).(RO) Madam President, I too wish to congratulate the rapporteur. Mr Schwab has put in a huge amount of effort and drafted an exceptional report. I would like to highlight the point about restructuring the banks, which has been one of the main challenges that the European Union has faced in the area of competition.

To avoid distorting competition, I think that the banks should be geared towards using private capital resources, including through restructuring and converting debts into their own capital instruments. Only if it is absolutely necessary and there is no other option, should national governments be allowed to intervene. If this does happen, national inspectors must ensure that the recapitalisation plans do not lead to excessive deleveraging. We must be extremely vigilant and do our utmost to keep the distortion of competition to a minimum in the internal market. We must strike a balance between granting aid to financial institutions and respecting competition.

 
  
 

(End of the ‘catch the eye’ procedure)

 
  
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  Joaquín Almunia, Vice-President of the Commission. (ES) Madam President, many thanks to all the honourable Members for the contributions made to this debate on Mr Schwab’s Annual Report on EU Competition Policy and on competition policy in general.

I would like to repeat a point that I mentioned in my initial intervention: aid for banks, which is very important, is not something that is decided by the European Commission. The European Commission is responsible for controlling the conditions according to which such aid may be compatible and the consequences for the financial entities that receive such aid, in terms of restructuring. It is not possible for a financial entity to receive a single euro of public money unless it puts forward a restructuring plan. In the same way, the Commission controls the conditions on which efforts are shared: it is not only taxpayers who have to make efforts to restructure entities through their governments and their treasuries; the shareholders and all the parties involved in the financial entity also have to contribute, and the Commission sees to this. All that public aid, all that enormous effort, must avoid creating distortions in competition.

It is true that not everything can be done by controlling state aid. In fact, through the control of state aid in the financial system, the Commission is compensating for the absence of a European authority for resolving crisis in financial entities and my colleague, Michel Barnier, is preparing proposals in this regard, which you will soon have the opportunity to discuss. It is imperative that that financial regulation should enable us to provide ourselves with tools that do not exist today on a European scale and that do not even exist in many European countries. It is only the existence of control over state aid that enables us to make up for that absence but it is not possible to carry on like this indefinitely. There are, of course, many other things to be done in order to prevent the financial crisis and its consequences on the banks and the real economy dragging on and that debate is very important but now is not the time.

I would make a final reference to other issues that you have raised in debate: the extraordinarily important issues relating to the private enforcement of competition policy. The Commission’s Work Programme for next year includes a proposed legislative initiative in this regard. The debate on collective actions in relation to such private enforcement of competition policy is very important. We await the conclusions of the debate in this House with interest before presenting our own ideas.

It is very important to improve the rights of the parties in any investigative process on competition matters and we have improved those rights recently. It is very important to have regard to competition problems in particular economic sectors and I agree fully with those who have mentioned energy, telecommunications, railways, air travel, the food sector, services and the financial markets. In all these areas we are working very hard, both from the point of view of the abuse of dominant positions – that is, to prevent abuses of dominant positions – and from the point of view of merger control and the fight against cartels. Of course, it is very important – and this is my final point, Madam President – that putting our principles and rules on free competition into practice in a rigorous fashion not only enables us to develop the internal market for the benefit of our citizens but also enables us to be competitive within and beyond our borders.

 
  
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  Andreas Schwab, rapporteur . – (DE) Madam President, first of all, I would like to express my thanks to all my fellow Members for their helpful and genuinely valuable contributions. In particular, the shadow rapporteurs also contributed worthwhile initiatives in this context. Mr Bielan has pointed out that the report we are dealing with is actually from last year. Nonetheless, this is the fastest report ever produced by the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs in terms of the speed of the reply to the Commission’s proposal. I concur with Mr Bielan that this needs to be placed on a permanent footing and that one or two errors have been made in our haste, which is why we intend to postpone the vote until February so that paragraph 21 can be recast to meet all the formalities.

Secondly, we have heard several references to the idea of collective legal protection. I would point out that I have been able to agree on a good compromise with the rapporteur of the competent committee – the Committee on Legal Affairs – in relation to the questions regarding competition policy – specifically the areas relating to key witness provision and follow-up action – so that we have been able to agree on a common line in terms of Parliament’s opinion. I hope that this will be possible to do this with my fellow shadow rapporteurs as soon as possible in the New Year.

When Ludwig Erhard introduced competition policy, or antitrust controls and merger controls, based on the Freiburg School in Germany in the 1950s, industry was extremely critical and sceptical in its attitude. At the time it was seen as an attack on industry. Today we find that industry, in particular smaller and medium-sized enterprises, recognise great benefits in competition policy, which is why it has become to some extent the centrepiece of European economic policy, so that we can only heartily support the Commission and the Competition Commissioner in his work.

 
  
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  President. – The debate is closed.

The vote will take place at 12.00 on Thursday, 15 December 2010.

Written statements (Rule 149)

 
  
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  Vladimír Maňka (S&D ), in writing. (SK) Competition policy is an essential tool to enable the EU to build a dynamic, efficient and innovative internal market and to be competitive on the global stage.

Protectionism and non-enforcement of competition rules, however, may deepen and prolong the crisis.

Cartels remain the most serious threat to competition, consumer welfare and the proper functioning of markets. We cannot accept them even during an economic crisis.

The temporary regime applicable to state aid has been positive as an initial reaction to the crisis, but it cannot be prolonged unduly. Temporary measures and exemptions must end as soon as possible and as soon as the economic situation allows it, otherwise the situation may not be sustainable.

A new, permanent regulatory system for the application of state aid rules is necessary in order to tackle the flaws found in the pre-crisis legal system, in particular as regards the financial sector, as well as to remedy distortions created during the financial and economic crisis.

 
  
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  Monika Smolková (S&D ), in writing. (SK) Competition policy is a beneficial policy for a healthy and competitive business environment. Therefore, state aid must only be allocated in a way that does not distort competition or favour established companies at the expense of new ones. It must also be allocated in a way that does not favour large companies over small and medium-sized enterprises, or foreign investors over domestic ones. Clear criteria must be set for the provision of state aid, which must be checked thoroughly. I support the call for an inquiry into the application of state aid rules with the aim of determining whether differences between the Member States lead to a distortion of competition. If a derogation from the rules is granted, it should be justified, and in accordance with the rules, so that competition is not unduly distorted.

 
  
  

(The sitting was suspended for a few minutes until voting time)

 
  
  

IN THE CHAIR: DIANA WALLIS
Vice-President

 

6. International Day of the Girl (written declaration)
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  President. - Colleagues, we have a pleasant announcement to start with concerning one of the written declarations submitted by Véronique Mathieu, Roberta Angelilli, Edite Estrela, Jean Lambert and Katarina Neveďalová in support of the International Day of the Girl. It has been signed by more than a majority of Parliament’s component Members and in accordance with Rule 123 of the Rules of Procedure. It will therefore be forwarded to its addressees and published in the Texts Adopted of today’s sitting. The names of the signatories will be published in the Minutes.

 
  
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  Edite Estrela, author. (PT) Madam President, I will be very brief: a word of thanks to all my fellow Members who have supported this declaration, and particularly my cosignatories. I would also thank the activists from the PLANE, the EPF and the World Organization of the Scout Movement. Allocating an international day is a way of drawing attention to the specific difficulties that young girls face from birth. Let us hope now that the General Assembly of the United Nations will adopt this resolution on 19 of this month; in other words, on Monday.

 
  
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  President. - Ms Estrela, many congratulations to you and your co-authors.

***

 
  
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  Lothar Bisky (GUE/NGL ).(DE) Madam President, on October 30, our colleague Mr Meyer, a member of my group, was forcibly prevented from leaving the airport in the city of El-Aaiún in Western Sahara, receiving injuries from Moroccan security forces. The doctor diagnosed various contusions, problems with the neck muscles and dangerously high blood pressure as a consequence of the violence. This attack on a Member of the European Parliament is completely unacceptable. The President, the offices of the European Parliament and the national authorities have made representations to the Moroccan Government. So far there has been no response from Morocco. We cannot simply accept this without a word. I would ask for your solidarity. This outrageous incident is an opportunity for me to remind us all, yet again, that the people of Western Sahara have been suffering for decades as a result of the inability of politicians to bring about a resolution to the Western Sahara conflict. I believe that we can no longer remain silent. We should focus more on this issue in the second half of this electoral term.

(Applause)

 
  
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  President. - Mr Bisky, from the response I think you certainly have the solidarity of the House, and my solidarity. The personal integrity and dignity of the office of each and every Member of this Parliament must be respected always. This has already been conveyed to the Moroccan authorities, as our President has written to you already, and will be pursued.

 
  
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  Nicole Sinclaire (NI ). - Madam President, it has come to my attention that there is an increasing trend with regard to written declarations in this Parliament for children to be used. Could the President investigate and inform me what the legal situation is, whether they are paid or unpaid, and, more importantly, the insurance situation as to their welfare?

 
  
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  President. - Ms Sinclaire, we will look into the matter.

 
  
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  Sonia Alfano (ALDE ).(IT) Madam President, I would like to ask Parliament to express its solidarity for the people of my region, Sicily, which in recent weeks has been hit by terrible floods. Thousands of people in the province of Messina have still been unable to return home, and three people have died, including a boy of 11. This is mainly the fault of the bad habit of failing to manage the land properly.

 

7. Voting time
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  President. - The next item is the vote.

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

 

7.1. Budgetary control of EU financial assistance to Afghanistan (A7-0388/2011 - Jens Geier) (vote)

7.2. EU competition policy (A7-0424/2011 - Andreas Schwab) (vote)
 

– Before the vote:

 
  
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  Andreas Schwab, rapporteur . – (DE) Madam President, under the terms of Rule 177(4) of the Rules of Procedure, with the agreement of the other groups, I request that we postpone the vote until February so that we can get the substance of paragraph 21 exactly right.

 
  
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  Udo Bullmann (S&D ).(DE) Madam President, as the coordinator for the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs, I can confirm that Mr Schwab has tabled an excellent proposal that can be supported by all sides of the House, and would encourage others to follow our lead in supporting it.

 
  
 

(The postponement of the vote on the Schwab report was approved)

(The vote was suspended for the address by the President)

 
  
  

IN THE CHAIR: JERZY BUZEK
President

 

8. Address by the President, Jerzy Buzek, on his term of office
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  President. - Dear Colleagues, ladies and gentlemen, Commissioners, honourable guests, ‘If Sparta and Rome perished,’ wrote Jean Jacques Rousseau, ‘what state can hope to last for ever?’ No human institutions are immortal. We Europeans must not be deluded into thinking that our Union is somehow an exception. To remain strong it requires an investment every day in our common future.

To understand where we are today, we need a historic context. In this recent period of prosperity, we fell into the illusion that the EU could simply sail on forever. We have not prepared our Community for difficult and more challenging times. We did not have enough political will and we did not convince our citizens of such a project. We even broke our own rules. Discipline was lost. Three years ago the financial crisis sailed across the Atlantic. We were not prepared for such a situation. Arguments about self-interest began to erode our belief in the common good. And now, our Union has moved into a deep crisis whose causes are as much political and psychological, as economic.

As President of the European Parliament I served you, and Europe’s citizens. I have been incredibly honoured by your choice of two-and-a-half years ago, given with such a great majority. I succeeded my dear friend Hans-Gert Pöttering in office, whom I thank once again for his excellent leadership. I was competing for this post with Ms Eva-Britt Svensson who is not present with us today, but to whom I send my warmest regards. I also pay tribute to our colleagues Mario Mauro and Graham Watson, who supported my candidature to ensure the unity of this Chamber.

I did everything in order not to disappoint your trust. I knew that I could count on you, no matter what our views were. Today I would like to give my report on the work of our Parliament: your work, as well as mine. This is not a detailed report. You will find such a document in your mailboxes in the new year. However, I would like to present what we have achieved together, and what still remains ahead of us.

You know as well as I do that my term as President coincided with an exceptionally difficult time for Europe. First, we introduced the Treaty of Lisbon. Second, we faced the crisis. Third, we observed globalisation at an incredible speed. Fourth, we faced the most important decisions for our future. I wish to outline these four points with you today.

First, let us remind ourselves that in the summer of 2009 we faced the threat that the Treaty of Lisbon might not be ratified by all Member States. I started from convincing the still unconvinced that we needed more Europe. My first official visit was to Ireland, just before the second referendum. Then I went to meet the Czech President. I will never forget that discussion. It started bluntly and ended very positively.

The entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon changed the way our European Union functions. For me, the most important was Parliament’s place in EU decision-making. We are now the Parliament we always wanted to be.

(Applause)

We are now the Parliament we always wanted to be: a full co-legislator in a two-chamber structure. We achieved a lot, but this is a fight we all need to continue.

To be strong is simply not enough; we need to use our power in everyday practice and to decide. I am proud that the European Parliament, in cooperation with the other EU institutions, is ready to prepare in a few weeks’ time a deep and comprehensive programme to help solve our current economic problems.

Jean Monnet once said ‘everybody is ambitious. The question is whether he or she is ambitious to be or ambitious to do’. We should be ambitious ‘to do’, of course.

You, the Members of the European Parliament, co-decide on nearly all the essential policies and give your consent on almost all international agreements. Who will ever forget our decision to block the SWIFT Agreement with the United States in order to protect the rights of our citizens? I remember the night before the vote, I received a phone call from the US Secretary of State. I told her that as a former Senator, she knows and understands about democratic oversight. She did, and she agreed later during her visit to the European Parliament, that today we have a better agreement than the first one.

Our citizens expect that we exercise power, proper parliamentary scrutiny. In the spirit of Lisbon we have pushed for greater accountability of the European Commission. We negotiated a better Framework Agreement between Parliament and the Commission. The candidate for the President of the Commission came for the first time to our political groups to discuss his five-year manifesto. We established the monthly Question Hour with the President of the European Commission and Commissioners. We used our powers to shape the new European External Action Service so that it was more accountable and representative for the Community as a whole. We insisted on hearings of EU Ambassadors to key posts and that the Vice-President/High Representative should report back to plenary on a regular basis. Equally, we shaped a new relationship with the European Council and its President.

But with new powers comes increased responsibility and increased demands for credibility and transparency. So as a Parliament we also had to respond to that. I am very proud today to say we introduced our own Code of Conduct for Members. It was adopted with a huge majority and was applauded for its clarity and strength.

I believe we should remain committed to the letter and the spirit of what the Treaty of Lisbon represents – using the European institutions and creating a common good and common solutions for the whole community.

Challenge number two was the need for action and overcoming the crisis. Over the last two and a half years we had to deal with a series of very difficult economic and international challenges. We had a crisis within the EU but we also had a critical situation at our borders.

When you elected me as President of the European Parliament, we all thought that the international banking crisis was coming to an end. Instead it came to our shores and took away wealth and jobs from millions of our citizens. Responding to that challenge became our highest priority as the crisis brought an enormous threat to our citizens. A broad package of laws – the ‘six-pack’ – entered into force just two days ago and our European Parliament can be proud of the role it played in shaping this legislation. It is a new economic anti-crisis shield making closer economic cooperation a reality. Thanks to our firmness, attempts to weaken this shield were not successful. Now it may even become a part of the new Treaty under discussion.

We passed legislation increasing the supervision of banks, insurers and the financial sector. For all three institutions responsible – Commission, Council and Parliament – and with their support I proposed a first fast-track procedure for a legislation aiming to combat the crisis; similar to what we used when we established a permanent stability mechanism.

On your behalf I have often stressed the need to complete the internal market and to boost growth and competitiveness. As part of the crisis reaction I was engaged in contacts with the rotating presidencies, the President of the Commission, President Rompuy of the European Council and with the Head of the Euro Group and the President of the ECB.

Our Parliament called for more investment and for bigger support of research, development and green technologies. In today’s Europe, just as it was in the 1950s, energy is at the heart of our economy. This is why I made a special appeal with Jacques Delors to create a genuine European Energy Community. I was proud that this plenary supported this idea.

Let us turn to the challenges we faced in our neighbourhood, both to the south and to the east. If you will permit me I would like to admit a difficult truth. For many years we looked for stability, while not being seriously engaged in defending human rights and building democracy in our neighbourhood. But long-term stability can only come from democracy. We learned this from our history but did not apply it to our closest neighbours. Our Arab neighbours have reminded us that freedom and democracy are for everybody.

On the other hand we, European parliamentarians, were always strong defenders and supporters of all people fighting for freedom, democracy and human dignity. Our annual Sakharov Prize is the most visible example of this. In Parliament we were the first politicians to call for Gaddafi to step down. When I spoke to protestors in Tahrir Square in Cairo and freedom fighters in Martyrs’ Square in Tripoli, they told me: ‘Thank you, Europe. Thank you for believing and being with us.’ I heard from the Prime Minister of Tunisia that ‘the only way for us is Europe’.

However we cannot support democracy only by words. Our external policies and our internal policies must be linked as we, together with the European Commission, proposed in our new neighbourhood policy. If we want to export our democratic model, we need to invest there and to open step-by-step our market for their goods and services. Long-term democracy and stability can only come from growing prosperity – step-by-step.

If I may add one additional remark: I visited the Choucha refugee camp in Tunisia. If we want to present ourselves as credible to our neighbours, we must respond to their expectations and help with their refugee crisis. Three thousand people not having the possibility to go back to their countries is something that the EU should be able to deal with.

The European Union is a lighthouse, a beacon for people across the Mediterranean, but also for those to the east of us: in Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine and many others. This is why I urged, together with many of you, for the creation of the EuroNest Parliamentary Assembly. It is one of our successes. When I travelled from Baku to Yerevan, from Tbilisi to Chisinau, I tried to explain that sitting and negotiating at the same table gives hope for lasting peace. Unfortunately, I regret the situation in Belarus today seems to be worse than it was some thirty months ago.

Talking about the EU’s activities in our neighbourhood, I would like to make a general remark. I am a strong believer in the power of our parliamentary diplomacy. We are trusted both by society and local leaders. This was a success for example in Moldova. One year ago I was actively involved in bringing the various parties to the negotiating table in the efforts to form a pro-European alliance and to move forward with their reforms. Our European ‘soft power’ seems to be as strong as ‘hard power’ when we promote our values and create democratic institutions and procedures. We can see this in the Western Balkans for example.

As I said, as a Parliament we have pushed the human rights agenda very strongly; we have created the Sakharov Prize network as a permanent dialogue on human rights. You and I have spoken hundreds of times on various official visits – to China, to Russia, to the South Caucasus, in defence of individual cases. For someone who was born in an occupied country and brought up in an oppressed country, it is natural to argue for human rights and human dignity. I was proud to see the support I received from you when I came to standing up for this issue.

We did not forget that in many countries in the world women are still oppressed and humiliated. I was a strong partisan of equal treatment of men and women –in politics, in business and in social and family life – in the world and in Europe. Women’s rights are simply human rights.

Point number three: today citizens’ ‘virtual participation’ is changing the world we live in.

Today, citizens are much better connected. They are as well-informed as politicians are. This brings quite a new challenge. How to ensure credibility in the decision-making process? How to ensure trust for the activities of our politicians? What can be the role of the European Parliament in this context?

Today, a particular responsibility lies with Parliament – it is not only a guarantor of the stability of the political scene, but also has the task of creating a courageous vision for Europe. The citizens expect that it will present such a vision and a new kind of European dream.

Reconnecting the citizens will help to give another non-economic meaning to the definition of deepening and widening of Europe. Governance, free markets, the single currency – these are absolutely insufficient as a basis for community. We need one more crucial factor. The most important one: European civic activity. As Jean Monnet said, ‘we are not uniting states, we are uniting human beings.’

Let me address the citizens of Europe directly. I understand that you may be disappointed, but Europe in many respects is the best place in the world. It is our European diversity, creativity and openness that can best satisfy your aspirations and passions. Log in to our common European space; it is your space.

And please do not let yourself be persuaded that there is a contradiction between being a good Pole and a good European, a good British citizen and a European citizen, a good Spaniard and at the same time a good European. This alternative is an absolutely false one. Europe allows you to discover the magic of the word ‘and’: being a good citizen of your town, region, country and your continent.

Paradoxically, through this crisis we are starting to see the emergence of a true demos. Europeans can see how interdependent we are. One country can undermine the whole economy, but many countries working together can solve the problem. This is why I have pushed for greater dialogue with people and promoted the idea of a European civic space and in all my visits within the EU. Democracy built in such a way could be stronger than financial markets which are so influential in our political decisions and everyday lives.

And the last point is about planning for our European Union, our common future. I believe that we need something like a New Deal for Europe. Our real problem is the lack of mutual trust and the loss of a sense of meaning. The historian Norman Davis wrote in Vanished Kingdoms, ‘it is precisely through such a loss of purpose that powers fall’.

We need a common project and not a mortgage on the next generation’s future. In the 1930s, while our continent was sliding towards tragedy, President Roosevelt saved democracy and the free market economy in the United States of America with his New Deal. Today our crisis demands a New Deal for Europe.

Let me repeat shortly what I already said, and share my own vision of the future in three points.

First, we need a new wave of political integration. For the long term, the Community interest benefits our individual interest. The idea of a common civilisation and cultural space has been strong in Europe for centuries. What we need today is to find the optimal political solution that will be fitting for our times. Let me be very clear, we do not want a superstate. So let us decide how in practice we can realise the idea of ‘unity in diversity’, while redesigning the necessary solutions.

While discussing possible treaty changes or new treaties, I want to recall that without a return to a genuine spirit of cooperation or – a ‘destiny shared in common’ as Robert Schuman put it – we will not succeed. Change is not about new rules. It is about a commitment to live by those rules. This is about a state of mind.

Second, we need a new wave of economic integration. We need to create a real fiscal and economic union. John Donne once said, ‘no man is an island’. I would say, no country is an island and I do not speak about geography. Member States that want to go forward need to respect the Treaty of Lisbon. No country has the right to stop others working closer together. Those who stay outside cannot expect to be main players.

(Applause)

My hope remains that the frictions that have appeared using this intergovernmental method will lead to more, not less, use of the Treaty of Lisbon and the Community method. For this reason I call for a greater involvement of the European Parliament in this discussion and the decision-making process.

Third and last point, we need to create a true European Civic Space. As I mentioned earlier, while creating a new vision for Europe we need to discuss issues which are close to each of us: security, the possibility to realise your own destiny, an active life in local communities, and the feeling of belonging.

Europe needs more solidarity, more responsibility, more respect for values, as well as enthusiasm. It was built on dreams and we have no right to throw those dreams away.

In order to better reconnect with Europeans, those who think of profit must also think of values. Those who gain wealth must be responsible. Those who are concerned about their prosperity – about which there is nothing wrong – must be concerned about equality, and those who believe in competition must come to believe in justice.

My last sentences: I would like to thank each and every Member of the European Parliament for your contribution and cooperation. Throughout my term in office I have played a part in resolving the tensions between the various EU institutions, leaders of Member States, and the states themselves. On many occasions I have been close to losing hope that a settlement would be found. But in general, we reached a compromise.

This is why I am optimistic today. I have never had doubts about a common Europe. Representing you in Europe, and around the world, I was able to perceive the full, distinctive borders of the European project, as well as its exceptional, human, moral, economic and cultural potential. The European Union is an incredible value, one worth working for and living in. But it is a value that can be created and used only if we are united.

It is this very Europe that I will always serve with energy and determination. It is not only as Hungarian, Czech, Swedish, French or German men and women that we sit in this House. We also sit here as Europeans, to solve European problems and come up with joint solutions. I dream of this European Parliament, uniting so many nations, being a body making real changes on behalf of our citizens.

(Applause)

I can say with great pride: I am a Pole and a European, and this is why I believe so strongly in our common European future. Let us never take our European integration for granted as something we have achieved once and for all; we must strive towards it every day. Thank you very much.

(The House rose and accorded the speaker a standing ovation)

 
  
  

IN THE CHAIR: DIANA WALLIS
Vice-President

 

9. Voting time (continuation)
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  President. - We shall now continue with the vote.

 

9.1. Mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (application EGF/2009/019 FR/Renault from France) (A7-0396/2011 - Barbara Matera) (vote)
 

– Before the vote on paragraph 7:

 
  
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  Estelle Grelier (S&D ).(FR) Madam President, we wish to table an oral amendment. After contact was made on numerous occasions, the management of Renault and the French Government have so far refused to take into account the situation of company workers who, in 2009, agreed to leave the company and are affected by the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) application and who, since then, have seen their rights eroded and their income reduced through the application of the reform of the French pension system.

The amendment is as follows:

Paragraph 2a: calls on Renault and the French Government to commit themselves formally to take the necessary legal and financial measures to restore all rights and pension benefits, while granting work exemption under equivalent conditions to workers whose pension benefits were affected by reforms having entered into force since their dismissal.

 
  
 

(The oral amendment was not accepted)

 

9.2. Public access to European Parliament, Council and Commission documents (A7-0426/2011 - Michael Cashman) (vote)
 

– Before the vote on the legislative resolution:

 
  
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  Michael Cashman, rapporteur. Madam President, just before this vote, and whatever the outcome of the vote, I would like Parliament to dedicate this report to Emilio De Capitani, who has served Parliament brilliantly and for a long time as Head of the Secretariat of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs.

(Applause)

 

9.3. European Maritime Safety Agency (A7-0372/2011 - Knut Fleckenstein) (vote)

9.4. Situation in Syria (B7-0721/2011 ) (vote)

9.5. Draft scoreboard for the surveillance of macroeconomic imbalances (B7-0690/2011 ) (vote)

9.6. Single European transport area (A7-0425/2011 - Mathieu Grosch) (vote)

9.7. Detention conditions in the EU (B7-0687/2011 ) (vote)
 

– Before the vote:

 
  
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  Birgit Sippel, (S&D ).(DE) Madam President, I would like to propose a minor addition on behalf of my group in order to ensure that the rights of children and mothers are respected after sentencing. We would like to make an insertion after paragraph 4. I will read our proposal in English:

Reaffirms the importance of granting specific protection to mother detainees and to their children including through the use of alternative measures to detention in the child’s best interest, and calls on Member States and the Commission to actively promote and support such initiatives’.

 
  
 

(The oral amendment was accepted)

– Before the vote on paragraph 6:

 
  
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  William (The Earl of) Dartmouth (EFD ). - Madam President, the oral amendment reads as follows: ‘Stresses that where detention conditions are perceived as poor, or conditions risk falling below the standards required by the Council of Europe’s European Prison Rules, the transfer of prisoners should be specifically prohibited following the issuing of a European arrest warrant’.

 
  
 

(The oral amendment was not accepted)

 

9.8. EC-Uzbekistan partnership and cooperation agreement and bilateral trade in textiles (A7-0427/2011 - George Sabin Cutaş) (vote)

9.9. Freedom of movement for workers within the European Union (B7-0730/2011 ) (vote)

9.10. EU strategy for Central Asia (A7-0338/2011 - Nicole Kiil-Nielsen) (vote)
 

– Before the vote on paragraph 20:

 
  
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  Nicole Kiil-Nielsen, rapporteur. (FR) The following is to be added:

‘ad hoc parliamentary forum in the framework of the existing Parliamentary Cooperation Committees and interparliamentary meetings with Central Asian countries’

(FR) and also

‘and multilateral parliamentary cooperation’.

 
  
 

(The oral amendment was accepted)

 

9.11. Health and safety at work (A7-0409/2011 - Karima Delli) (vote)
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  President. - That concludes the vote.

 

10. Explanations of vote
Video of the speeches
  

Oral explanations of vote

 
  
  

Report: Jens Geier (A7-0388/011 )

 
  
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  Iva Zanicchi (PPE ).(IT) Madam President, managing projects in war zones such as Afghanistan cannot be directly compared with managing projects in developed countries or countries not affected by war, because aid is obviously hindered also by the fact that the situation is unstable in terms of security.

That said, we need to understand the reasons for the gaps highlighted in the management of projects and identify risk factors, in order to improve the situation as much as possible.

I share the rapporteur’s position in inviting the Commission to take greater care when evaluating the risks of fraud, corruption and non-compliance and efficiency for specific projects. Therefore there needs to be greater transparency and responsibility in the use of EU funds, and Member States and other donors need to be helped in order to avoid making common mistakes.

 
  
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  Elena Băsescu (PPE ).(RO) Madam President, I voted for this report because the support granted to Afghanistan must be maintained if we want the progress made in this country to be permanent. At a time when the international military presence is decreasing, the importance of civilian aid will increase even more.

The assistance provided by the EU must be subject to sufficient budgetary control. This does not only mean accounting concerns, but also the means to ensure that the best possible use is being made of the funds. With the same aim in mind, better coordination is needed among donors, including on the reporting and auditing side. I wish to point out Article 22, which sets out extremely useful proposals on this subject. I should also stress Romania’s commitment to the security and stabilisation efforts in Afghanistan, as is demonstrated by the involvement of nearly 2 000 troops in operations.

 
  
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  Kay Swinburne (ECR ). - Madam President, the report on the budgetary control of EU financial assistance to Afghanistan makes many sound recommendations on how EU aid is managed.

One of the recommendations that has been made is to offer direct budgetary support, under rigorous conditions, to tackle current challenges in management, including corruption, poorly trained staff, unreliable data and a lack of full independence of local audit bodies. I support having a fully independent audit inspection body which would assist in giving oversight to the much-needed direct budgetary support in that country and the need for an annual report on aid to Afghanistan to be submitted to this Parliament.

In principle, this is a valuable initiative, which I can support.

 
  
  

Report: Barbara Matera (A7-0396/2011 )

 
  
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  Ashley Fox (ECR ). - Madam President, we have today voted to spend another EUR 500 million of taxpayers’ money by mobilising the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund. I just wonder: do we get good value for that money? Does anyone check to see how many jobs are created or do we in fact just vote for this expenditure to give ourselves a warm feeling that we can somehow resist the process of job losses in Europe?

Perhaps we should take more practical steps to preventing job losses in Europe by making our economy more competitive. This is at a time when the nation states’ finances are under enormous pressure. The EUR 500 million that we voted to spend could have been returned to the Member States. I would suggest that would have been a much better use of the money.

 
  
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  Kay Swinburne (ECR ). - Madam President, I voted against the report on the mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund as I do not believe that the EU funds should be used for this purpose.

This is a Member State responsibility. I am fundamentally opposed to the use of any of these funds in assisting as this is essentially a long-term problem being addressed by a short-term fix.

It is the EU’s Social Fund which should be used to assist these types of requests. I believe that some of the funds in the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund should therefore be returned at this time to national governments who could better utilise them in terms of supporting innovation in particular, as well as research programmes, in order to help create jobs and stimulate the economy locally across each and every Member State.

 
  
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  Daniel Hannan (ECR ). - Madam President, we have just voted through GBP 500 million to support a car firm in France. One might say that is a little glitch, a little twitch or knob in the single market – though at GBP 500 million it seems quite a big one – but the single market has always had these imbalances, these national peculiarities.

It has always operated on the basis that some states have essential national interests. You cannot easily reform the common fisheries policy without this receiving a Spanish veto, or the common agricultural policy without a French veto. Germany has particular interests in its heavy industries and, of course, my own country has an interest in the financial services sector.

The difference is, however, that our interest is in preserving the single market, and not in having some protectionist exemption. It was extraordinary to hear in the debate yesterday that the UK was somehow turning its back on the single market when all it was asking for was a guarantee that the single market would apply evenly to financial services and would not be applied asymmetrically, to the detriment of the main financial services sector in Europe.

It is not the UK that has abandoned the free market principles which the Treaty of Rome enshrined, but rather the Member States which are pursuing this new union. This makes the UK’s departure, I am afraid, more or less inevitable.

 
  
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  Nicole Sinclaire (NI ). - Madam President, I have grave concerns about the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) and I voted against this report.

I have looked at the history of this report and noticed that the French car firms in particular, both Renault and Peugeot, as well as Dutch companies and German companies are great recipients of this for people they have made redundant.

I am minded of my own constituents in Coventry, the Peugeot Ryton plant, where over 2 000 people were made redundant in 2007 without receiving any assistance or training whatsover. Indeed the Labour government or the current Conservative-led government in the UK has made no claims or put anything into retraining these people or other people whatsoever.

There was also this week an EGF in favour of the Südtirol region of Italy, where the Member here, Mr Dorfmann, says that unemployment is just 3%. Yet we gave EUR 3.9 million to that project. Why? Why are we not training people where we do have serious unemployment but just throwing money away to a region where unemployment is only 3%?

 
  
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  Syed Kamall (ECR ). - Madam President, it is wonderful to see you in the chair. Hopefully we will see much more of you in the next term.

Can I just say at this stage that that there are many opportunities afforded by globalisation. It allows companies to take advantage of global supply chains, many of which are in poorer and developing countries, and it allows us, using market conditions, to take many millions of people out of poverty.

Unfortunately, the downside of globalisation is that there are companies which refuse or fail to take advantage of these opportunities. What they do is seek to protect their positions even though market conditions have changed.

Unfortunately, all that the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund does is to encourage this inertia – not adapting to market conditions, not taking advantage of global supply chains and asking for more taxpayers’ money when that money would be better returned to Member States to be invested in sustainable jobs. It is time we ended the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund and returned the money to Member States.

 
  
  

Report: Michael Cashman (A7-0426/2011 )

 
  
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  Peter Jahr (PPE ).(DE) Madam President, encouraging and demanding transparency in the documents of the European institutions is a key way to involve our citizens in our policy-making. Transparency engenders trust and understanding. Both are vital to successful cooperation between our citizens and their politicians. That is why I am in favour of making it easier for our citizens to access documents.

I was unable to support Mr Cashman’s report, however, because certain restrictions need to be observed. For example, not every session of the European institutions can be made public, as this would hamper decision-making. There are situations in which discussions and deliberations take place before important decisions are made. Sometimes the matter for discussion itself is subject to confidentiality in the public interest.

Transparency and data protection are always in conflict. This report pays too much attention to transparency and not enough to data protection. For this reason I was, unfortunately, unable to vote in favour of this report.

 
  
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  Kay Swinburne (ECR ). - Madam President, the report on public access to European Parliament, Council and Commission documents fully appreciates the need for greater transparency and access to institutional documents.

I have therefore supported this report as it extends the definition of what a document is to cover written and electronic material, and to include all sound, visual and audiovisual recordings. It also acknowledges the necessity of having the appropriate safeguards to exempt documents such as those relating to public security and intellectual property rights, which gives the option for refusal in exceptional circumstances as long as this is justified.

I welcome a transparent EU and I hope that all EU institutions, including the European Central Bank, will now publish their minutes in a full and timely way.

 
  
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  Syed Kamall (ECR ). - Madam President, most politicians across the political spectrum on the whole understand that it is important that the citizens who vote for us have access to documents from the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission.

I would hope that we could extend that transparency, at times, to other elements of our decision-making process. While I understand there are times when we might be involved in delicate negotiations at which we might not want to reveal our negotiating positions, surely we should also be pushing for transparency at some of our meetings.

Can you imagine if the Council deliberations on the EU budget were in public? Then politicians could answer their electors as to why, at a time of austerity, when governments and councils are seeking to tighten their belts and control spending, they have asked for more taxpayers’ money to be spent at EU level. Let them justify their decisions to the public.

 
  
  

Report: Knut Fleckenstein (A7-0372/2011 )

 
  
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  Giommaria Uggias (ALDE ).(IT) Madam President, I voted for the report by Mr Fleckenstein because I am fully convinced that an Agency as important as the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) must have a regulation that specifies clear, precise duties, and highlights the effective division of tasks between EMSA, the European Commission and the Member States.

All too often we are witness to accidents that pollute our seas, which are under constant threat also from the rise in the transport of dangerous goods and materials by sea, often in maritime areas protected by special rules due to their naturalistic importance, such as the Bocche di Bonifacio.

In this regard, I particularly appreciated the rapporteur’s focus on development of the CleanSeaNet service and the SaveSeaNet network. The text was very balanced despite being multi-faceted, recognising the need to define EMSA’s tasks also by taking on more staff, without putting too much pressure on the budget, and underlining the importance of innovative tools such as the Global Monitoring for Environment and Security programme (GMES), while also launching a positive message on support in the sector for gender equality policies.

 
  
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  Elena Băsescu (PPE ).(RO) Madam President, I voted for this report because I welcome the amendment to Regulation (EC) No 1406/2012 as presented by my colleague. A new financial framework is required, as well as a clearer assignment of competences to ensure that the European Maritime Safety Agency operates as effectively as possible. I think that it must promote cooperation between specialist border police departments not only in Member States but in third countries too. I should mention at this point the series of naval exercises carried out by the Romanian border police jointly with the Turkish coastguard in September 2011. This helps strengthen cooperation between the countries located in the Black Sea basin and reduces the intervention time in the event of maritime incidents.

I support cooperation between specialist training institutions with the aim of exchanging experiences and good practices. For example, the ‘Mircea cel Bătrân’ Naval Academy is involved in the Erasmus programme.

 
  
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  Radvilė Morkūnaitė-Mikulėnienė (PPE ).(LT) Madam President, the regulation adopted today is not the first document of this part-session to deal with the protection of the EU’s water bodies. The European Maritime Safety Agency has already done a particularly important job in protecting the seas. However, the painful lessons of the Gulf of Mexico show that we must take stronger action in the European Union. The EMSA has so far carried out monitoring of maritime transport, but this regulation will require its monitoring function to be expanded.

I was the shadow rapporteur for this document from the Committee on the Environment and I am particularly pleased that, from now on, the EMSA will monitor not just pollution from ships but also from oil and gas installations and transport facilities.

It is also very important that the Agency should have a certain influence on and be able to cooperate with the European Commission when carrying out checks in third countries, i.e. those countries which share a sea with the European Union, and I hope that effective monitoring will enable effective prevention of and an effective response to potential disasters to be ensured.

It is also very important that the Agency should have a certain influence on and be able to cooperate with the European Commission when carrying out checks in third countries, that is, those countries which share a sea with the European Union, and I hope that effective monitoring will enable effective prevention of and an effective response to potential disasters to be ensured.

 
  
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  Kay Swinburne (ECR ). - Madam President, the European Maritime Safety Agency was set up in the wake of the spillage from the oil tanker Erika, and its primary role should be to focus on maintaining maritime safety. An additional role which I support is supporting Member State action to combat piracy. A system for reducing administrative barriers is also an acceptable use of that Agency.

However, I cannot support the widening focus of its role to inland navigation and recruitment of seafarers. Moreover, I believe the suggestion of it having an anti-pollution role is too controversial and thus cannot be supported. In particular, in my Member State, the UK, we have reservations regarding the extension of the Agency’s role in the analysis of the safety of mobile offshore oil and gas installations. I firmly believe that the Maritime Safety Agency should not have competence in this area and that this is completely unnecessary, given that the UK’s North Sea oil field already has high offshore exploration safety standards in place.

 
  
  

Situation in Syria: (B7-0721/2011 )

 
  
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  Mitro Repo (S&D ). - (FI) Madam President, 5 000 people have already died. How long does the international community intend to stand by while people are being killed in Syria by the government there?

For once, the European Union and its Member States deserve some credit. Europe has spoken and acted consistently, imposed and tightened sanctions, and made efforts to implement UN sanctions. The EU and the European Parliament have already said that President Bashar al-Assad must go. Syria is becoming a symbol of double standards and non-intervention in diplomacy and international politics. In the context of high-level politics, the ordinary person is ignored and left by the wayside.

Here in Parliament yesterday, the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought was awarded to five activists. They all had a decisive role to play in the wave of uprisings in the Arab Spring in North Africa. There is support for democracy, freedom and human rights on both sides of the Mediterranean Sea. Europe must be involved in supporting the Syrian people in their pursuit of freedom, democracy and a decent existence.

 
  
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  Elena Băsescu (PPE ).(RO) Madam President, I voted for this resolution because the brutal repression against ordinary citizens is continuing in Syria. In recent months, the regime has already created more than 5 000 victims, according to UN estimates. We cannot idly watch this situation. The international community needs to take a stance, and it is the European Union’s duty to step up the measures to make Syria’s leaders halt the violence.

I welcome the EU decisions on the new restrictions being imposed on Syria, and I hope that they will achieve the anticipated result. With this in mind, it is important for the specific details to be defined as soon as possible so that the new sanctions can be implemented. I should stress how important it is to assess continually which measures are more effective. I welcome the positive role played by Turkey in terms of its response to the Syrian crisis, including its efforts to respond to humanitarian emergencies.

 
  
  

Draft scoreboard for the surveillance of macroeconomic imbalances: (B7-0690/2011 )

 
  
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  Elena Băsescu (PPE ).(RO) Madam President, I voted for this resolution because the European Union needs a sound framework for preventing and adjusting macroeconomic imbalances. The scoreboard’s economic, financial and structural indicators will help identify the Member States which may be affected by such situations. Alert thresholds are set for each indicator. However, it is important that they are supplemented with a specific economic analysis for each country.

I should highlight the in-depth assessment. This should include a rigorous evaluation of the sources of the imbalances. However, the speed and transparency of the analysis are vital. When serious macroeconomic imbalances are identified, monitoring needs to be stepped up. I support the inclusion of the economic imbalance surveillance procedure in future European Semesters.

 
  
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  Kay Swinburne (ECR ). - Madam President, this draft scoreboard for surveillance of macroeconomic imbalances is unnecessary and a waste of this Parliament’s time.

We spent over a year in this Parliament working with the Council of Ministers to get an economic governance ‘six-pack’ of legislation through earlier this year and that ‘six-pack’ of legislation gave the Commission responsibility for devising a scoreboard to detail what were macroeconomic imbalances and what needed to be monitored. That was one year in the making. Therefore we do not need any more layers of complexity in this system.

Last Friday’s summit, if it taught us anything, taught us that we need solid measures to combat the eurozone debt crisis. We need to implement what we have already decided and not devise new procedures at this time of crisis. I cannot support any more interference by Parliament. Let us allow the Commission to get on with their job of devising that scoreboard.

 
  
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  Daniel Hannan (ECR ). - Madam President, just before the vote, a PPE friend of mine said there was nothing so annoying as people being wise after the event. I responded that we were in fact being wise during the event and had been wise before the event.

What is happening now in the eurozone was not just predictable, it was widely predicted. It had all the inevitability (to choose an apposite parallel) of a Greek tragedy.

We had the hubris of the early days when everybody pretended that Greek and German debt were interchangeable, when a productivity gap of 30% opened up and when the markets did not intervene to impose a correction of their own. Now we are having the nemesis, but we will not have the catharsis until Greece and the other stricken countries are able to print their own currencies, price their way back into the market and start exporting their way to growth again.

One is never popular saying, ‘I told you so’. Nonetheless it does seem a bit unreasonable, if the other Member States are prepared to pay all these extraordinary prices or at least inflict these prices on their peoples, to send us the bill. It is not our problem. We kept the pound.

 
  
  

Report: Mathieu Grosch (A7-0425/2011 )

 
  
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  Giommaria Uggias (ALDE ).(IT) Madam President, I voted in favour of the report by Mr Grosch on a Single European Transport Area, and would like to thank him for his work.

I would particularly like to thank him for the welcome references to the new guidelines on the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T), which will animate the future legal debate, and for recognising the value of innovative instruments such as Galileo, the European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service (EGNOS) and Global Monitoring for Environment and Safety (GMES.)

However, I am sorry that some aspects of fundamental importance in creation of a real Single European Transport Area were not adequately explored. More specifically, the insular nature of many European countries has not been investigated in sufficient detail, particularly with regard to the regulations that apply to them in terms of their obligations to provide public transport, which are currently muddled and difficult to describe as far as the various modes of transport are concerned.

Lastly, I found the text did not sufficiently cover the issue of transporting hazardous goods, which needs to be properly dealt with and regulated, both in order to avoid terrible accidents, and in order to manage accidents once they have happened, including in terms of the liability of the entities involved, institutions or otherwise.

 
  
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  Elena Băsescu (PPE ).(RO) Madam President, I voted for this report because the European Union needs a competitive, efficient and integrated transport system. I welcome the proposal from the Commission to create a unified transport network. It will help complete the internal market in this sector. I should point out that, at EU level, the transport sector provides roughly 10 million jobs, accounting for around 5% of GDP. The disparities need to be reduced between the EU’s eastern and western regions in terms of infrastructure development level. Stable funding must be provided for projects.

I should highlight the importance of developing the transport networks in the new Member States. In my country, the Transylvania motorway project, worth EUR 2.2 billion, will establish a link between the markets of Europe and Central Asia.

 
  
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  Peter Jahr (PPE ). (DE) Madam President, in comparison with 2005 levels, freight transport will rise by 40% by 2030, while passenger transport will increase by 34%. This explains the need to combine different modes of cross-border transport in an efficient way in order to meet the requirements for safe, sustainable and environmentally-friendly transport. It is particularly necessary to extend Trans-European Transport Networks. Seventy-five per cent of transport is by road. Measured against gross domestic product, the transport sector accounts for 10% of the prosperity of the European Union and creates over 10 million jobs.

Although a lot has improved, European infrastructure is still suffering from the after-effects of the Iron Curtain, and it is vital that the transport connections from East to West and from North to South should be significantly improved. Investment in infrastructure is crucial in order to generate economic growth into the future. That is why I have voted in favour of the motion and I am looking forward to the amendments that will now be produced. You have my thanks for this.

 
  
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  Kay Swinburne (ECR ). - Madam President, as a resolution on a Single European Transport Area, this report calls for the Commission to put forward proposals on social and working conditions to facilitate the creation of a fully-integrated European transport market for workers. This is something that I cannot support. The report is far too ambitious, and unrealistic targets have been set for reducing the number of road deaths and reducing CO2 emissions from road transport and shipping.

It suggests that the Commission should also develop safe infrastructure for pedestrians and cyclists in towns and work towards doubling the number of users of public transport. The resolution clearly does not respect the principle of subsidiarity, and I feel it would generate more unnecessary bureaucratic legislation for Member States. Even Wales has devolved transport systems. I cannot see how this could work in the UK, let alone across Europe.

 
  
  

Report: Georges Sabin Cutaş (A7-0427/2011 )

 
  
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  Mitro Repo (S&D ). - (FI) Madam President, I voted in favour of this resolution. There is every reason to be very worried about the situation in Uzbekistan with respect to human rights, democratisation and the rule of law. There is systematic use of forced labour in the textile industry there, involving children in particular. It has been completely impossible to monitor the health, working conditions and age of children and students, and the punishments they receive for disobedience, because Uzbekistan forbids foreign inspectors and human rights representatives to come into the country.

Uzbekistan’s actions violate international human rights obligations and the rules of the International Labour Organisation. Fortunately, retailers of textile products in Europe have now decided to stop buying cotton from Uzbekistan. That is an indication of the ethics and morals of European businesses.

However, on its own, this is still not enough. Parliament should not approve any trade agreement until the Uzbek authorities have allowed ILO observers into the country. It also needs to be confirmed that the country has implemented reforms and achieved notable results regarding the complete end to the use of forced labour and child labour, at national, regional and local level.

 
  
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  Kay Swinburne (ECR ). - Madam President, given that Uzbekistan is the fifth largest producer of cotton and the third biggest exporter of cotton worldwide, I welcome the report on establishing an EC-Uzbekistan Partnership and Cooperation Agreement taking in bilateral trade in textiles. Crucially the report takes into account the concerns of the EU Presidency, UNICEF and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) with respect to the alleged use of forced child labour in the Uzbek textile industry.

It also quite appropriately requests the Commission to conduct a feasibility study on an effective traceability mechanism for goods produced, which would go some way to address the issue of forced child labour. The proposed agreement would also give Uzbek cotton the most-favoured-nation status thus allowing trade with the EU which is free from quantitative restrictions, which can only be good for the long-term development of Uzbekistan.

Finally the report quite rightly calls for an ILO investigation into the alleged forced child labour breaches. Such an investigation should happen without delay. If we take action here and organise this, we should be able to make this trade much better and safer for all involved.

 
  
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  Daniel Hannan (ECR ). - Madam President, it is nice to see you in the chair and I hope, like other colleagues, to see a bit more of you.

It is difficult to think of a more textbook case of a repressive regime than that in Uzbekistan. That beautiful country with the ancient cities of the Silk Road is being treated more or less as the personal property of the president’s family and of some of their cronies. There is an almost Caligulan tyranny there, and a regime which is involved in drug running and repression – two opponents of the regime were boiled to death while in prison.

And yet the West has tended to hold back from criticism because in the uncertain days immediately after 9/11 the Karimov dictatorship had the wit to declare itself an ally in the war on terror and to make its bases available for use in the Afghan campaign.

This is the error we make again and again in Muslim countries. We made it with the Shah in Iran, we made it in Egypt and we are making it in Saudi Arabia. There is no, or very little, fundamentalism in Uzbekistan. A traveller there does not see beards, does not perceive headscarves and does not hear the call to prayer. However, if we define every opponent of the Karimov tyranny as a fundamentalist, we will eventually make that prediction come true and we will create the very thing we purport to fear.

 
  
  

Freedom of movement for workers within the European Union: (B7-0730/2011 )

 
  
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  Peter Jahr (PPE ).(DE) Madam President, I must admit that I have very ambivalent feelings about this report. On the one hand, I am, of course, in favour of free movement for people and workers within the European Union. On the other hand, we should always be watchful for the negative consequences of this process because nothing will be achieved by these people simply migrating from one social system to another. That is why there is just one thing I would like to see: namely that we should pay due attention to this process – which I would again emphasise we all support – so that we do not overlook its negative effects, but rather make simple adjustments as and when necessary. After all, there is no disputing the fact that the European Union can only develop successfully if its people enjoy free movement, if they can seek work in other regions and if they can contribute to economic prosperity.

 
  
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  Martin Kastler (PPE ).(DE) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, let me preface my remarks by saying that I am also greatly in favour of freedom of movement and I believe that it is a really important achievement for the European Union that we can move around this single market freely in the service sectors, indeed in all sectors. However, there is also a principle that applies not just within the European Union, but also under the rule of law, namely: pacta sunt servanda – treaties are to be honoured. According to the Treaty, a clause applies to the free movement of workers, setting down a period of three years, plus two years, plus two years. Accordingly, I was unable to support this resolution today, as it is just a symbol of a willingness to alter treaties while they are still in force. In my opinion, it should be up to the Member States themselves to decide. This is what it says in the Treaties. That was correct. Nonetheless, when the Treaties lapse and all restrictions run out, there will be no wave of mass migration to the old Member States from the other Member States. I am absolutely convinced that it is by working together that we will achieve progress in the European Union and that no more barriers should be imposed.

 
  
  

Report: Nicole Kiil-Nielsen (A7-0338/2011 )

 
  
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  Norica Nicolai, on behalf of the ALDE Group. – (RO) Madam President, I chose to explain how I voted because, as rapporteur for this report, I abstained from voting on it. I realise that there are people in this Parliament who avoid debates on a report that does not say anything or does not say a great deal, which is the case with this strategy on Central Asia. Although the European Union adopted a strategy in 2007 and this Parliament has two resolutions, the report does not actually assess the way in which this strategy has been applied. It is a litany of problems, expressed in terribly stilted language, which very clearly proves that no one is even familiar with the situation in the area. It mentions a security situation, ignoring that there are also neutral countries in the region. Nothing is known about these countries’ involvement in the situation of the conflict in Afghanistan.

However, in addition to this, this report sets out a certain type of thinking which, as I see it, is damaging to this Parliament. It gives guidelines and attempts to export economic and cultural models to a region which is totally different, thereby continuing to abandon this region to the sphere of influence and interest of Russia, which wants to recreate a former Soviet Union. I believe that there is no place for this superficial type of approach, characterised by a lack of information and preconceptions, at least in our relations with Central Asia.

I believe that Central Asia may become a priority and is a priority for many Member States. The fact that we are setting the human rights situation as a condition on signing a number of agreements in the region is a must, but setting this condition must go beyond just fine statements. It must be followed up by our involvement in this area, by an attempt to export our models and good European practice, and backed up by cooperation with these countries in the education sector.

 
  
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  Paul Murphy (GUE/NGL ). - Madam President, thousands of oil workers in the Mangystau region of West Kazakhstan have been on strike now for over six months. They are fighting for better working conditions; they are fighting for an increase in pay due to the very harsh conditions they experience – which I saw for myself; they are fighting for the right to have independent trade unions; and they are calling for nationalisation, under workers’ control, of all enterprises in the oil extraction sector.

The Kazakhstan Government and the oil giant Kazmunaigaz have completely ignored the just demands of these workers and have effectively refused to engage in meaningful negotiations. Instead, the workers have been met with very severe and brutal repression. One trade unionist has been murdered; another worker’s daughter has been killed and their lawyer has been jailed for six years. Violence continues against these workers. Another strike activist returned to his home on 30 November to find his whole house and his car had been smashed up, and the police refused even to take a statement from him.

I spoke to a group of workers last week who have launched an international appeal for the trade union movement to show solidarity with their struggle and have also called on the international leaders of the trade union movement to support the struggle of the workers to break the links with the leadership of the so-called Confederation of Free Trade Unions of Kazakhstan, which is completely pro-employer and pro-government. Tomorrow there will be major demonstrations in Kazakhstan and internationally in support of these workers. I will be standing alongside them in solidarity.

 
  
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  Elena Băsescu (PPE ).(RO) Madam President, I voted for this report because it attempts to highlight the importance of strategic relations with Central Asia. The potential they offer has not been fully tapped at EU level, including from an economic and commercial perspective. Cooperation with the European Union means for the countries in this region access to a huge outlet market, an alternative export destination and new opportunities for technological and industrial development.

From an EU perspective, economic relations offer opportunities for diversifying our supply sources for energy and raw materials. Efforts need to be stepped up to implement Nabucco. At the same time, I should mention the importance of launching other projects aimed at interconnecting energy and transport networks. For example, Romania has proposed for Kazakhstan to participate in the AGRI project for transporting gas, as well as getting involved in the Constanţa-Trieste pipeline project.

 
  
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  Kay Swinburne (ECR ). - Madam President, Central Asia is strategically important to Europe, and the development of an EU strategy for Central Asia back in 2007 cemented the EU’s acknowledgement of this. A lot of progress has been made since its implementation, with initiatives and programmes aimed at supporting good governance, the rule of law, economic development, trade and investment to name but a few.

However, we are currently operating in a starkly different economic climate compared to that of 2007 and so it is only appropriate that the EU strategy for Central Asia be reviewed and updated accordingly. The main focus of this report is for the EU to strengthen its engagement with Central Asia, particularly with respect to human security and better regional cooperation. It is for these reasons that I have voted for this report.

 
  
  

Report: Karima Delli (A7-0409/2011 )

 
  
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  Mitro Repo (S&D ). - (FI) Madam President, I have just voted in favour of the report on health and safety at work. The economic crisis has led Member States to seek new ways to increase labour productivity. One way to do this, and to prolong the working lives of employees, is to invest properly in health and safety at work. Increased labour productivity and longer working lives, however, will both be impossible to achieve unless we take into consideration the human needs of employees. Well-being at work and labour productivity always go hand in hand.

Fortunately, there is already a realisation in many organisations that people’s heightened state of good physical and mental well-being reduces costs. There are fewer absences through illness and pension costs are lowered. This is also a matter, therefore, of economic realities. Without healthy employees, we have no healthy companies nor any hope of succeeding in global markets. For that reason, I strongly support this report.

 
  
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  Elena Băsescu (PPE ).(RO) Madam President, I voted for this report because we need to adapt the acquis communautaire for occupational health and safety to the new risks in this area. For example, long-term solutions are required for reducing psycho-social risks. Austerity measures during the economic crisis must not affect the level of safety at the workplace. I must say that employees in SMEs are most often vulnerable to occupational risks. SMEs account for 82% of all work-related accidents and 90% of all fatal accidents.

A European programme must be developed to monitor occupational risks. I support the idea of devising unique methods for evaluating the impact in the area of occupational health and safety. At the same time, national strategies must be applied effectively, with the participation of workers and social agencies.

 
  
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  Kay Swinburne (ECR ). - Madam President, I have major reservations about this report on health and safety at work, which calls for a European strategy to be developed which will allow for new risks, such as psycho-social risks, and also to include all workers, no matter what their function, in prevention policies. It calls for more legislation in the area of health and safety and for something which is perfectly acceptable – more corporate social responsibility.

All Member States should have appropriate health and safety regimes but, just as in my own country, the UK, we are already buried under the often unnecessary red tape this involves. Common sense, not legislation, now needs to be applied. The proposals made in this report would inevitably increase the administrative burden on small and medium-sized enterprises, which is something that I cannot support. Many SMEs are fighting for survival in the current economically turbulent times. We should be proposing measures that would assist their businesses rather than hinder and bury them in red tape.

 
  
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  Martin Kastler (PPE ).(DE) Madam President, I was happy to vote in favour of the report on the mid-term review of the strategy of the European Union for occupational health and safety today. I would like to emphasise three points that I consider particularly important. The first is paragraph 82, which we approved today. I would have preferred it if we had given an even clearer signal in regard to work-life balance, everything relating to occupational health and how we regulate work, the rhythm we provide workers with, including, above all, the protection of Sundays as a day of rest. I myself have launched an initiative in this regard and I believe we can all play our part in supporting March 3 next year as a Europe-wide day for Sunday as a day of rest.

I also believe paragraph 16 is particularly important. After all, burnout is one of the illnesses that generates the highest costs in Europe. We urgently need a burnout strategy, and next year the European Commission is to publish a relevant study, as well as holding out the prospect of a Green Paper. This is something we urgently need to discuss in Europe.

Finally, as the rapporteur for the European Year for Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations 2012, I would like to make the following call: let us work together in Europe to ensure we respect everyone, both workers and employers alike, in health, vitality and dignity.

 
  
  

Written explanations of vote

 
  
  

Report: Jens Geier (A7-0388/2011 )

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D ), in writing. (PT) I am voting for this report because there is a need to maintain assistance to Afghanistan. However, more efficient control of its implementation should be ensured, although I am fully aware of the problems with carrying this out in a conflict zone. There is a need for such inspections, as well as for better allocation of funds, which should be sectoral, paying greater attention to the specific reasons justifying the use of all aid. Oversight of the use of funds is extremely important, especially when we consider that many Taliban movements are often financed using official channels.

 
  
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  Laima Liucija Andrikienė (PPE ), in writing. I voted in favour of the resolution on budgetary control of EU financial assistance to Afghanistan which points out that currently no direct budget support is granted to this country. I agree with the rapporteur that budget support remains the most appropriate channel to foster capacity building and, therefore, the Commission should be invited to consider sectoral budget support, where appropriate, with rigorous and well-defined conditions. We, Members of the European Parliament, call on the Commission to insist on the establishment of full financial and operational independence of the Control and Audit Office of Afghanistan. Moreover, the EP also urges the Commission to further strengthen coordination with Member States and the donor community in general. I want to stress that the own-initiative report of 15 January 2009 on the control of EU funds in Afghanistan had already asked the Commission to provide a comprehensive annual report including shortcomings identified and measures taken to remedy these shortcomings. Regrettably, until now the Commission has not prepared such a report, therefore, we, Members of the European Parliament, strongly urged the Commission – once more – to implement the recommendation.

 
  
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  Pino Arlacchi (S&D ), in writing. – I strongly support this text because, as my report on a new strategy for Afghanistan denounced one year ago, it clearly underlines that the current arrangements for managing EU funds in Afghanistan are inadequate. Afghanistan is amongst the recipient countries receiving the most civilian aid from the EU general budget. In the period 2002-2010 the combined EU (European Community and Member States) budget for aid to Afghanistan totalled around EUR 8 billion, but a significant proportion of the EU aid was lost along the distribution chain. The main reasons for this are: waste, excessive use of intermediaries, security costs, overbilling and corruption. I strongly believe that the EU must ensure transparency and accountability in relation to the financial assistance provided to the Afghan Government, international organisations and local NGOs, in order to ensure the coherence of aid and the success of Afghanistan’s reconstruction and development.

 
  
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  Corina Creţu (S&D ), in writing. (RO) I applaud the job done by the rapporteurs who have presented the benefits and drawbacks of the various channels used to provide aid to Afghanistan. I welcome the firm tone they use to request greater transparency from the European Commission about the agreements signed with the Afghans in order to check how effectively the funds are being used. There is discontent about the way in which the funds are used, relating to the high level of corruption within the Afghan administration. This is why the recommendations made in the report are important, and the European Commission will have to take them into account. It is a well-drafted, professional report, which I voted for.

 
  
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  Anne Delvaux (PPE ), in writing. (FR) I voted in favour of this report because it points out that, at present, no direct budget support is granted to Afghanistan. However, it states that budget support is the best instrument to foster capacity building and, therefore, the Commission should be invited to consider sectoral budget support, where appropriate, with rigorous and well-defined conditions. The report also calls on the Commission to remedy identified shortcomings and commits it to insist on the establishment of the full financial and operational independence of the Control and Audit Office of Afghanistan. The report also raises the issue of greater accountability for the EU funds channelled through UN Agencies in Afghanistan.

 
  
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  Tamás Deutsch (PPE ), in writing . – (HU) The European Union also provides financial support for countries outside the EU. The Committee on Budgetary Control has drawn up an own-initiative report on the financial review of the EU assistance provided to Afghanistan. It is also the task of the European Parliament to carry out financial reviews of the use of resources outside of the EU borders The report primarily calls on the European Commission to implement the recommendations made by the Court of Auditors of the European Union, and urges the quick and effective handling of the current problems. The measures formulated by the rapporteur should be supported, since monitoring the use of the EU budget – both within and outside the EU borders – is in the interest of every European citizen, and it is, therefore, the duty of the European Parliament.

 
  
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  Edite Estrela (S&D ), in writing. (PT) I voted for the report because its objective is to promote greater oversight and accountability in the use of EU funds in Afghanistan. Fraud and corruption have become established in the country and are affecting the local government, so it is important to ensure that assistance from the Member States will achieve the objectives for which it is intended.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE ), in writing. (PT) Historically, Afghanistan is a country in which violence and instability have been ever present. The fall of the pro-Soviet Najibullah regime at the hands of Islamist guerrillas and the brutality of the Taliban regime that followed mired the country in a conflict from which it seems incapable of freeing itself, despite the efforts of the international community – the United States in particular – to that end.

The news reaching us on the progress in the struggle against terrorism and on the capacity of the Karzai government to ensure security, freedom and the rule of law in Afghan territory is not the most encouraging. Abandoning Afghanistan to its fate jeopardises the security, not just of its neighbouring states, but also of a significant proportion of the international community. I believe that the European Union should seek to help Afghanistan in whatever ways it considers appropriate, should do so in such a way that assistance reaches those that need it most, and should have full access to the information of the international bodies through which it channels part of said assistance.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE ), in writing. – (PT) The civil war that has been slaughtering the Afghan people led the international community to intervene diplomatically and militarily in Afghanistan, so as to guarantee the security of the population. Indeed, there has been no letup in the terrorism of the Taliban rebels, as the attacks on, inter alia , NATO headquarters and the US embassy show. Despite the efforts of the Afghan Government to put a stop to terrorism, the reality is that offensives by the Taliban rebels continue. The objective is for Afghan troops to take control of the situation and be able to replace the foreign troops. Until then, the EU, which supports more than 50% of Afghanistan’s foreign aid, will need to continue to have a budgetary appropriation available, not just to cover personnel costs, but also to fund all the projects that it has underway in this country. As such, the EU should continue to help the Afghan Government overcome this tragic situation and establish a fully democratic state; in other words, one with respect for minorities, for gender equality and for the values enshrined in the International Bill of Human Rights. I am therefore voting for this report on budgetary control of EU financial assistance to Afghanistan.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL ), in writing. (PT) We would highlight the rapporteur’s criticisms of oversight and accountability relating to the management of funds allocated by the EU. The report proposes measures intended to improve this situation, such as diversifying aid ‘in order to address individual needs through the appropriate funding channel’ and ‘introducing direct budget support in Afghanistan’; also that ‘civil society and parliamentarians must be involved throughout every stage of implementation, monitoring and the evaluation of results’ and that measures should be taken to combat corruption.

The fundamental issue is that this report does not, as it should have done, condemn the occupation of Afghanistan. The rapporteur even mentions ‘that a withdrawal of troops could have a negative effect on the economy of Afghanistan’. We would reemphasise our opposition to the military occupation of Afghanistan. We argue that the only path to peace in that region will necessarily involve the immediate withdrawal of all occupying troops, and respect for Afghanistan’s independence and sovereignty.

 
  
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  Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D ), in writing . (SK) In Parliament’s resolution of 16 December 2010 on a new strategy for Afghanistan, a number of important issues were identified in relation to the budgetary control of EU financial aid for Afghanistan. This country is amongst the recipient countries receiving the most civilian aid from the EU general budget. It is of great concern that a large proportion of international aid goes astray in the distribution chain, in particular through waste, excessive intermediary and security costs, overbilling and corruption. It is therefore necessary for the Commission to supervise and monitor the cost and effectiveness of all EU aid to Afghanistan, with a view to ensuring that it is used more efficiently. The overall objective of EU development assistance to Afghanistan should be to assist in the long-term sustainable development of the country, including the improvement of socio-economic standards, facilitating job creation and the proliferation of small and medium-sized enterprises, strengthening the education sector and ensuring gender equality. Such aid should further facilitate capacity-building in public administration, strengthen the rule of law and reduce corruption, thus facilitating the transfer of responsibility for security to the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. I believe that there is an urgent need to increase the efficiency of aid, as many development indicators still show no significant improvement, and corruption and the long distribution chain of international aid remain the principal obstacles to the provision of essential services to the people.

 
  
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  Mikael Gustafsson (GUE/NGL ), in writing. – (SV) I voted in favour of the report. However, I would like to make the following important remarks:

1) I am opposed to the war in Afghanistan being waged by the United States and NATO. Peace can only be established if negotiations are held with the Taliban and other groups with a view to holding genuinely democratic elections and giving the Afghan people their full national right of self-determination.

2) I believe that the present government is extremely corrupt. Any EU assistance for the Afghan Government’s civilian development projects must therefore be limited and strictly controlled. The goal must be to develop successful measures to combat corruption so that a future, genuinely democratically elected and well-functioning government can be entrusted with a greater proportion of the assistance.

3) A number of effective and well-known international organisations and NGOs are carrying out successful development work in Afghanistan, often with the emphasis on health and education. In the current situation, they should be given priority when it comes to increasing the assistance available.

 
  
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  Juozas Imbrasas (EFD ), in writing. (LT) I welcomed this document because the European Commission has committed over EUR 2 billion and disbursed over EUR 1.8 billion in development and humanitarian aid to Afghanistan since 2002. Parliament has a supervisory role and therefore demands of the Commission that it introduce the following steps in a transparent way and make them publicly available: the agreements reached with the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan; the baseline, indicators, targets, calculation methods and verification sources to assess progress and to determine decisions to disburse performance-based and variable tranches of potential future budget support; clear and standardised reports which assess progress in an objective and transparent way on the basis of the criteria defined and, if necessary, the reasons why progress may not have been achieved as initially planned.

 
  
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  Philippe Juvin (PPE ), in writing. (FR) I voted in favour of the report on budgetary control of EU financial assistance to Afghanistan because it underlines the importance of budget support in fostering capacity building in the country. It also highlights the shortcomings identified by the audit reports of the European Court of Auditors and US auditors and calls on the European Commission to remedy them. It also calls for the introduction of common audit standards.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D ), in writing. I voted for this report in which the rapporteur examined the audit reports both of the European Court of Auditors (ECA) and of US audit entities. These revealed significant shortcomings in the management of funds for Afghanistan. It is evident that project management in conflict-affected areas such as the one in Afghanistan cannot be directly compared with project management in developed countries or even developing countries not affected by conflicts. There is no doubt that oversight efforts are also hampered by the unstable security situation. At the same time, reliable information on weaknesses in project management and relevant risk factors need to be identified, in order to make improvements as far as possible.

 
  
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  Iosif Matula (PPE ), in writing. (RO) The European Union must respect its status not only as a partner of countries outside the European Union, but also as a guarantor of respect for human rights, the rule of law and all the instruments of democracy throughout the world. The European Union has assumed the responsibility of supporting Afghanistan in strengthening the rule of law. However, this obligation which has been assumed does not mean that there should be no control over the EU funds earmarked for the Afghan people. In light of this, the process of stabilisation and reconstruction in Afghanistan must continue to be supported. This support is needed, but must be accompanied by additional measures for controlling and coordinating expenditure, as a result of the complaints from the Court of Auditors of the European Union, which identified certain irregularities in the management of EU funds.

We must be prepared to give assistance to Afghanistan to ensure that regional and national institutions operate in an efficient, transparent manner. In this respect, we must support the strengthening of the role of the Afghan Parliament, its judicial system and audit authorities. Elected bodies at national and subnational level must be assisted and encouraged to monitor closely the use of EU funds.

 
  
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  Mario Mauro (PPE ), in writing. (IT) The European Union must continue to strongly support Afghanistan. The weaknesses with regard to democracy and corruption identified over the last few years need to be addressed as a matter of urgency. It is crucial to have a supreme audit institution which is financially and operationally fully independent of the executive branch and which has sufficient capacity and funding to carry out the financial audit. I voted in favour.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE ), in writing. (PT) A transparent democracy needs a supreme audit institution which is financially and operationally fully independent of the executive branch. There is also a need to identify the risk factors involved with regard to corruption, fraud, project sustainability, cascades of sub-contractors and other sources of waste and misuse of funds. It is crucial to improve transparency and accountability in the use of EU funds.

 
  
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  Katarína Neveďalová (S&D ), in writing. (SK) Afghanistan is a country that was, and still is, mired in war and conflict. These conflicts continue to exact a high price on Afghanistan and its people. Wars on the territory of Afghanistan were a characteristic of this country almost throughout the whole of the twentieth century. The terrorist attacks in 2001 and the presence of terrorist organisations in Afghanistan have meant that, unfortunately, nothing much has changed even now. Therefore, I fully agree with my colleague, Mr Geier, who has proposed direct assistance to Afghanistan from the EU budget, which is currently lacking. I firmly believe that, with strict financial controls on such funding and with experience, whether it comes from EU Member States or from our US partners, we will be able to arrive at a solution that really will help Afghanistan. I think that the most important area, apart from the independence of the judiciary – as pinpointed by Mr Geier – is to improve the situation in the field of education. Only in this way will it be possible to achieve sustainable development and to resolve the situation in the long term.

 
  
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  Alfredo Pallone (PPE ), in writing. (IT) The report by Mr Geier for which I voted, aims to define the general parameters for budgetary control of EU funds for Afghanistan, their use, the positive and negative implications, and relations with other institutions such as the US agencies that manage the funds invested by the US and the UN. The continuous development of the Afghan political situation requires serious help from Europe in order to allow the country to be guided towards a true democracy of rights and duties and to grow. Controlling management of the funds is therefore crucial in order to put in place the specific projects necessary to achieve the target objectives.

 
  
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  Georgios Papanikolaou (PPE ), in writing. (EL) I voted in favour of the report, which sets out a comparative approach to practices applied in the EU and in the US to control EU financial assistance to Afghanistan. Funds are generally managed via NGOs, contractors working for profit and grants and direct financial assistance to the Afghan Government. However, as structures in Afghanistan cannot be compared with similar structures in developed countries, we must not overlook the fact that the Afghan audit office is not as yet independent of the executive in Afghanistan and, as a result, international auditing standards are not respected. At the same time, there is restricted freedom of access to internal audit reports, which calls the transparency of the procedures into question.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE ), in writing. (PT) I voted for this report because I agree with the premises therein, particularly remaining committed to the sustainable, long-term development of Afghanistan, and to continuing to make available appropriate resources beyond 2014, when responsibility for security will be fully in the hands of the Afghan authorities and other donors may start cutting funds.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE ), in writing. In favour. Following the observations made by the rapporteur of the own-initiative report on a new strategy for Afghanistan, the Committee on Budgetary Control decided to further look into the way EU funds are controlled in Afghanistan. The approach taken by the rapporteur was to try to identify best practices by comparing the way the European Commission is managing the funds with the way funds are being handled by various US agencies. To this end, the rapporteur went on a fact-finding mission to Washington DC and New York City to meet representatives of the Special Inspector for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), the Inspector-General of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), USAID’s office of Afghanistan and Pakistan Affairs, the United States Department of State, the Government Accountability Office, the Congressional Research Service, the World Bank and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The rapporteur also held a meeting with the Afghan Control and Audit Office as well as with various representatives of NGOs involved in Afghanistan.

 
  
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  Sergio Paolo Francesco Silvestris (PPE ), in writing. (IT) Ten years have passed since operations against the Taliban first began in Afghanistan, and the global economic and political situation has changed a great deal since then. The United States have decided to progressively withdraw their troops from the country by the end of 2014, and then the economic and budgetary crisis of the European Member States is leading to cuts in military spending. For these reasons we need to identify best practice in relation to expenditure. A cause for concern remains the issue of coordination of the aid. Many reports as well as oral testimonies give evidence that international donors do not effectively coordinate their work. This results in redundancies and projects not aligned with the Afghan needs. This vote will give a bigger boost to coordination operations and analysis of relative needs.

 
  
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  Charles Tannock (ECR ), in writing. I voted for the Geier report on the budgetary control of EU financial assistance to Afghanistan. With a plethora of international originations operating in theatre complementing the NATO ISAF mission, it is essential that partners coordinate their efforts to avoid duplication and therefore the needless squandering of resources. Of particular relevance here is the relationship between the EU and UN agencies and the direct EU budgetary support for Afghanistan, where there is a serious risk of duplication. The seemingly ubiquitous problems of government corruption, tribal nepotism, the hazardous security situation for EU officials as targets of the Taliban and poorly trained Afghan officials must be addressed with renewed vigour, and monitored closely. Audit bodies administering financial aid must be transparent and accountable. My hope is that EU financial assistance will assist in the creation of robust institutions and democratic mechanisms within Afghanistan in order that, following the 2014 withdrawal of foreign troops, Kabul can maintain internal security and adequate counter-insurgency capabilities.

 
  
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  Nuno Teixeira (PPE ), in writing. (PT) The purpose of this own-initiative report is to analyse how EU funds are controlled in Afghanistan in the context of the strategy for Afghanistan. As such, the rapporteur uses the method of comparing how EU funds and those of the various US agencies are managed, so as to understand the failures and shortcomings of EU funding management and, at the same time, identify best practices. As the report mentions, there is no single approach to which model of funding to use, as this depends in part on the objectives to be achieved. However, the report stresses that, in this case, the EU should directly fund Afghanistan’s budget at ministerial level, whilst increasing budgetary control so as to prevent fraud and corruption.

Finally, I would highlight the importance of increased cooperation between donor countries, so as to make funding more efficient and to coordinate information on problems with managing projects, with a view to improving assistance actions.

 
  
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  Angelika Werthmann (NI ), in writing . (DE) The EU Committee on Budgetary Control decided to investigate more closely the management of EU funds in Afghanistan. The result of this evaluation was that enormous discrepancies were uncovered. In a comparative analysis of the administration of financing by the EU and US, the rapporteur refers to the benefits of major leverage and effective coordination of aid under the ‘Common Administration with International Organisations’ financing form, while also pointing to the need for negotiations on accountability and transparency as disadvantages. This analysis concludes that “direct budgetary aid to the Afghan national budget” should be chosen as the future method of providing aid, something I cannot agree with. Although the rapporteur recognises the problem of susceptibility to fraud and corruption, he seems to believe that there are sufficient safeguards in the clause permitting the discontinuation of budgetary aid to poorly performing administrative institutions. Accountability requirements are not sufficiently met and the actual aid in individual cases can be described as mediocre at best. It is not easy to redress the disadvantages of ‘Common Administration with International Organisations’: it should be stated clearly that NGOs that receive EU funds to administer must produce regular accountability reports to indicate clearly and unambiguously how much they have spent and where and these reports must also be published on the institutions’ websites.

 
  
  

Report: Andreas Schwab (A7-0424/2011 )

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D ), in writing. (PT) I am voting for this report, which demonstrates that EU competition policy has brought benefits for European businesses and citizens. In any case, it is very important that greater price transparency to the benefit of consumers be encouraged. I would also stress the need for state subsidies to be allocated in the most judicious way possible, so as not to distort the level playing field or make it less transparent.

Finally, like the report, I believe there is a need for greater European coordination, so as to properly evaluate the extraordinary liquidity injections that the European Central Bank has made, since these will not have been coordinated as well as is possible with state subsidies pursuing the same objective.

 
  
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  Roberta Angelilli (PPE ), in writing. (IT) In the current crisis the EU’s priorities must focus on strengthening the internal market by means of a solid and effective competition policy capable of supporting economic growth in all areas. Competition policy must make the most of the instruments the EU has at its disposal, in order to safeguard the principles of competition and the free market, along with consumer protection. I think we need to find a solution to bank failures by introducing a European regulatory framework that will ensure common rules of intervention as well as monitoring by the Commission. Finally, I hope that we may come to an agreement with the Council to begin discussions with us about competition, so that Parliament may be duly recognised as an institution representing all European citizens.

 
  
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  Elena Oana Antonescu (PPE ), in writing. (RO) When discussing the EU competition policy again, it is paramount for the decision-making authorities not to forget, when doing so, that maintaining a balance between incentive policies and competition policies has been and still is the secret of the European economic and social model’s success. It is just as important that the lasting benchmark and objective when discussing the legislative framework again is the ultimate interest of consumers.

It is important that the procedures applied for sanctioning uncompetitive practices must be as transparent and as easy to understand as possible for European consumers. It is equally important that EU competition measures make the process for setting prices more transparent so that consumers can make a valid and informed decision.

Last but not least, the compensation or penalties applied due to the infringement of EU competition procedures must be returned as a matter of principle and on an institutional basis to consumers. On many occasions, fines imposed on producers or retailers are collected by the state, which means that the consumers affected by the lack of competition are deprived of this compensation which they are due. Setting up a European fund to cover the costs of cross-border competition actions may compensate for the lack of regulation or effectiveness of national legislation, while also contributing to the development of the European economic framework.

 
  
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  Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D ), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this resolution concerning the Commission’s 2010 Annual Report on EU Competition Policy. I agree that the Commission should take effective action to foster the global convergence of competition regulation. On energy policy, the Commission should actively monitor competition in energy markets and improve the integration of renewable sources of energy into energy networks. It is important that the Commission should step up efforts to open up competition in the credit rating agencies sector and ensure the quality of credit ratings. The Commission should determine whether differences in the application of public procurement rules in EU Member States lead to a distortion of competition. I also agree that if we wish to guarantee a competitive and effective internal market, the EU must have an interoperable and efficient cross-border transport infrastructure network.

 
  
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  Regina Bastos (PPE ), in writing. (PT) EU competition policy has brought many benefits in terms of consumer well-being, and it remains a key instrument in removing obstacles to the free movement of goods, services, people and capital. Competition policy remains crucial to preserving the single market and protecting consumer interests. Emerging from the crisis will require new commitment to policies of growth and to making the EU more competitive internally and globally.

This report, for which I voted, tables recommendations relating to the following aspects of competition policy: control of state aid, proposing a permanent regulation system and an end to temporary measures as soon as the economic situation allows it; control of mergers, even in times of crisis, since these could cause serious problems in the future; and encouragement of European Commission participation in the International Competition Network. Finally, it calls on the European Commission to publish the Competition Work Programme at the beginning of each year, including a detailed list of the binding and non-binding competition instruments expected to be adopted during the coming year and of the public consultations envisaged.

 
  
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  Sergio Berlato (PPE ), in writing. (IT) In my view, the competition policy put in place by the EU has brought numerous benefits in terms of consumer welfare and has been an essential tool to eliminate obstacles to the free movement of goods, services, persons and capital. In particular, I believe that the temporary regime applicable to state aid has been very positive as an initial reaction to the recent economic and financial crisis. With specific reference to state aid in the financial sector, I agree with the rapporteur in his invitation to the Commission to link the extension beyond 2011 with more stringent conditions related to the reduction of the balance sheet composition and size of certain financial institutions. While I appreciate the role the Commission has played thus far in minimising the distortions in the banking system thanks to a balanced interpretation of the European law on state aid, I believe that we need to introduce a new permanent regulatory system for in the application of state aid rules, in particular as regards the financial sector, and to quickly come forward with the relative legislative proposal to address at European level resolution of the problem of failing banks.

 
  
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  Mara Bizzotto (EFD ), in writing. (IT) The report tackles a delicate issue like competition policy at a difficult time like the present, when in some cases the crisis has led Member States to intervene in the private sector, with extraordinary assistance and financial support. The report rightly places the emphasis on the need to keep the European economic panorama as wide open as possible, not least because in times of crisis the economy can only recover though free enterprise, not protectionism or government interference. I agree that it is appropriate to promote the exchange between the Commission and consumer associations, and I wholeheartedly approve of the proposal to introduce new rules to regulate state aid in some key areas like that of finance. I therefore voted in favour of the report.

 
  
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  Vilija Blinkevičiūtė (S&D ), in writing. – (LT) I voted in favour of this report because competition policy is an essential tool to enable the EU to have a dynamic, efficient and innovative internal market and to be competitive on the global stage. The European Parliament welcomes the fact that the Commission responded to the outbreak of the crisis in a prompt and reasonable manner by approving special State aid rules and using competition policy as a crisis management tool. Sizable amounts of state aid granted during the crisis in the form of, for example, guarantee schemes, recapitalisation schemes and complementary forms of liquidity support on bank funding have contributed to severe imbalances in public finances. The Commission should continue to investigate the competition situation in the retail sector, in particular the consequences of alleged abuse of market power by dominant retail chains with negative consequences for small retailers and producers operating in the agricultural and food market. The European Parliament also takes the view that competition policy should contribute to the promotion and application of open standards and to ensuring interoperability in order to prevent the technological lock-in of consumers and clients by a minority of market players.

 
  
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  Lara Comi (PPE ), in writing. (IT) I voted in favour of this report because I believe that competition policy is a very important tool for the recovery of the global economy, which has been held back by the previous economic and budgetary crises. The policy has brought numerous benefits to the various Member States in terms of consumer welfare and the elimination of obstacles to the free movement of goods, services, persons and capital. In this regard, state aid has played a crucial role in improving the way the markets work, cushioning the effects of the crisis on the real economy. In my view,sState aid should be allocated in such a way that does not distort competition and that ensures resources are invested in research and innovation. In addition, in order to further stimulate competition, market transparency must be increased to benefit consumers and the economy in general.

 
  
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  George Sabin Cutaş (S&D ), in writing. (RO) I voted for the Annual Report on EU Competition Policy because I felt that tighter regulations are needed in this area, especially at this time of crisis. Competition must be encouraged, particularly in the energy, credit rating agency and banking sectors. The issue of the banks regarded as being ‘too big to fail’, which have received State aid during the crisis, needs to be resolved. I find it surprising that these institutions are eligible to have access to unlimited liquidity. However, the European Central Bank constantly expresses its reluctance to become the creditor of last resort for Member States.

 
  
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  Vasilica Viorica Dăncilă (S&D ), in writing . – (RO) The regulations which the European Union has been applying in the area of competition for several decades have proved to be effective, with the fall in the costs of international phone calls being one of the most typical examples of this. The EU and its Member States must continue to work together not only to remove any obstacle blocking the free movement of goods, services, persons and capital, but also to update existing regulations on a regular basis, precisely to enable the EU to tackle the challenges it is facing and the rapid global developments.

I also think that having flexible procedures allows the EU’s competition policy to remain a constructive, stabilising factor and offers the opportunity to adapt to real situations, especially in terms of giving all consumers the chance to be able to make a suitable choice.

 
  
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  Anne Delvaux (PPE ), in writing. (FR) The Commission’s Annual Report on EU Competition Policy 2010 clearly states that consolidation in the banking sector has actually enabled several financial institutions to increase their market share. I voted in favour of the report because it urges the Commission to maintain close watch on developments in the European banking sector. As regards fines and the settlement procedure for violations of antitrust rules and anti-competitive behaviour, I am also of the opinion that the policy on the imposition of fines remains an important deterrent while encouraging compliance.

 
  
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  Edite Estrela (S&D ), in writing. (PT) I voted for the report because I consider it balanced in the way that it approaches state aid to companies, as well as in the way it proposes to regulate mergers and acquisitions of companies in the various sectors of the economy.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE ), in writing. (PT) The text under consideration, drafted by Mr Schwab, analyses the Annual Report on EU Competition Policy for 2010, in the report’s 40th-anniversary year. As one of the EU’s aims is the operation of an effective and efficient single market, competition policy plays a key role both by stimulating competition between companies and by ensuring price stability, which is a situation that only benefits consumers.

Despite the changes to the way it operates, many aspects still need improvement, such as controlling state aid that distorts markets and is only acceptable initially as a response to the crisis, combating monopolies, transparency in how the banking sector operates, public procurement, the energy market, air transport, and so on. It is also essential to make progress with revising the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive and the Market Abuse Directive.

I welcome the adoption of this report, which demonstrates that EU competition policy should continue and develop, since it has improved Europeans’ quality of life, and facilitated the movement of people, goods and services.

 
  
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  Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D ), in writing. (SK) The rules and procedures of competition policy undergo a continuous process of adjustment in order to contribute to the main aims of the EU, which include, for example, the building of the single market, its functioning to the benefit of consumers, and the achievement of a competitive social market economy. It is noteworthy that, while the environment in which EU competition policy operates is undergoing profound changes such as rapid technological development, expansion or globalisation, time does not affect the various provisions of the 1957 Treaty that prohibit certain anti-competition agreements and abuse of a dominant position, and likewise does not affect the provisions on state aid, which testifies to their inherent ability to be applied in a variety of circumstances. Given the exclusive jurisdiction of the Commission in the area of competition policy, which was confirmed by the Treaty of Lisbon, the Commission is entitled to adopt detailed rules on how it intends to use its main instruments – the provisions of the Treaty relating to antitrust policy and provisions on mergers and state aid. Since implementation of the competition policy began, the EU has been characterised by two principal features in particular: its contribution to the building and maintenance of the internal market and its contribution to the interests of consumers. At the same time, the competition policy supports the main objectives of the European Union enshrined in the Treaties: a competitive market, economic, social and territorial cohesion and sustainable development.

 
  
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  Philippe Juvin (PPE ), in writing.(FR) I supported the postponement of the vote on the Schwab report on EU competition policy because one of the paragraphs in this report refers to the opinion of Mr Schwab of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs, on collective redress by incorporating it as an annex. However, the report by Mr Lehne of the Committee on Legal Affairs (the committee responsible) is to be adopted by the Committee on Legal Affairs in December 2011, then in plenary in February 2012. Therefore, the postponement of the vote on the Schwab report on EU competition policy is justified, so as to ensure that the opinion of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs on collective redress is not voted on before the basic report. This does not change my position in favour of the introduction of a European collective redress system providing for clear and effective safeguards. I defended this position as shadow rapporteur of the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) on the opinion of Ms Rapti on this matter in the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D ), in writing. I voted for this resolution in which Parliament urges the Commission to link the extension of the temporary state aid to the banking sector beyond 2011 with enhanced and more stringent conditions related to the reduction of the balance sheet composition and size, including a proper focus on retail lending as well as stronger restrictions on bonuses, distribution of dividends and other crucial factors; it deems that these conditions should be explicit and should be assessed and summarised on an ex post basis by the Commission.

 
  
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  Mario Mauro (PPE ), in writing. (IT) The temporary regime applicable to state aid has been a very positive factor against the crisis, but it cannot be prolonged unduly. A new permanent regulatory system for the application of state aid rules is necessary, in order to tackle the flaws found in the pre-crisis legal system. Specific attention needs to be paid to the financial sector. I voted in favour.

 
  
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  Jean-Luc Mélenchon (GUE/NGL ), in writing. (FR) This report is an ode to free and fair competition. No sector has been spared: transport, energy, telecommunications, ‘services of general economic interest’, banks. Anything goes. Not once is general interest mentioned, and for good reason. The only thing that counts here are market appetites. Liberal dogmatism pure and simple. Systematic preparation for disaster. A sham. I am voting against it.

 
  
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  Alajos Mészáros (PPE ), in writing . – (HU) The Commission’s 2010 Annual Report on EU Competition Policy is fundamentally defined by an attempt to limit and redress the processes of the recent economic crisis and its consequences. For four decades, from the very beginnings of the creation of the Community, competition policy has been the essential basis for economic cooperation. Today we must also find a solution to the market movements distorted by the crisis, by using fair regulation. The Commission has attempted to react effectively to the economic crisis; it has approved rules on state aid while remaining within the framework of competition policy. I agree with the opinion of the rapporteurs, that we also need a global approach to competition regulations. The report addresses a number of sectors, which is why the call for a prompt implementation of the internal energy market package is justified, in order to create an open and competitive single energy market. The introduction of effective cost analysis in all phases of the food supply chain is equally important for consumer interest protection. The Commission’s guidelines aimed at rescuing and restructuring the banking sector are also unavoidable, and the observance and application of these guidelines will have to be monitored. I agree with linking future temporary state aid for the banking sector to stricter conditions; furthermore, appropriate attention should be paid to a more ethical consumer credit provision. The market distortions created by the crisis can only be resolved through joint EU action. I voted for the report of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs, as in my opinion competition policy is a key factor in developing the EU into a dynamic, efficient and innovative internal market and in strengthening its competitiveness on the world market.

 
  
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  Miroslav Mikolášik (PPE ), in writing. (SK) The financial and economic crisis that erupted in autumn 2008 continues to exist, and Member States are exposed to the threat of long-term recession. I agree with the opinion that protectionism and the non-enforcement of competition rules will not contribute to solving the crisis in any way. On the contrary, a properly conceived competition policy should help to build a dynamic and innovative internal market that will successfully face global competition. Even in times of crisis, cartel agreements remain the most serious threat to competition, consumer welfare and the proper functioning of markets, and therefore it is justified to impose fines as a tool for enforcing the applicable laws. I believe, however, that the Commission should examine individual cases with special care and ensure that the amounts of fines imposed do not irreparably jeopardise the economic viability of the enterprise concerned, which would lead to its bankruptcy, liquidation and, consequently, large job losses. The crisis situation means that the responses to the challenges arising must take into account the complex economic and social context and must not penalise EU citizens even more.

 
  
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  Alfredo Pallone (PPE ), in writing. (IT) Competition policy and strengthening the internal market need to be a priority for the EU, especially at a time of crisis like the present, when it is crucial to make the most of the potential offered to us by the Union. I also hope that the new strategy will increase the protection of cross-border transactions — especially for online products and services — and support financial inclusion. Given the highly specific nature of the various sectors, such as the financial sector, it is important to make distinctions in order to best meet individual needs. However, in doing so, I hope that the principles of competition and the free market will equally be borne in mind, as a more protected and responsible consumer needs to be able to account on the efficiencies that an open and competitive market deliver.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE ), in writing. In favour. The European Parliament welcomes the Commission report on competition policy 2010; highlights, on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of this report, that EU competition policy has brought numerous benefits in terms of consumer welfare and has been an essential tool to eliminate obstacles to the free movement of goods, services, persons and capital; points out that competition policy continues to be an essential tool for preserving the single market and protecting the consumer interest; stresses that some rules need to be updated to deal with new challenges. The European Parliament also notes that the combined effect of robust principles and flexible procedures has enabled competition policy to be a constructive and stabilising factor in the EU’s financial system and in the real economy in general.

 
  
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  Czesław Adam Siekierski (PPE ), in writing . (PL) Today we adopted an important report on the Annual Report on EU Competition Policy. This is the 40th such report, because this policy is one of the most fundamental in the EU, and is extremely important for the functioning of the single European market which, as I mentioned during the debate, represents the foundation of economic success in the EU. I am pleased to note that the Commission, and particularly the Commission under Mr Barroso, is very active when it comes to regulating the conditions for competition in the financial markets. The activities of the newly created monitoring and supervisory agencies will likely contribute to financial market discipline. The actions taken by the European Commission in the telecommunications market have also brought positive results. However, we must be aware of the need for new regulations for the services market, as well as the energy and food markets.

 
  
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  Sergio Paolo Francesco Silvestris (PPE ), in writing. (IT) The financial and economic crisis which broke out in autumn 2008 has not yet been overcome, in fact financial turmoil and recessionary fears have become once again acute over the last months. In such a context competition policy may be an added value, and may become an instrument for managing the crisis. The climate is a favourable one and people are cooperative, as can be seen by the number of consumer associations involved in European competition law that have been springing up. This vote is a step in the direction of improved price transparency, which is essential in stimulating competition in the single market and offering real choice to consumers. The many measures to be adopted need to include the provision of a performance scheme to guarantee transparency of service pricing.

 
  
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  Nuno Teixeira (PPE ), in writing. (PT) In recent years, the European Union has been facing a serious economic, financial and social crisis, and the European institutions have adopted various policies with a view to solving existing problems. One of the most crucial measures adopted to combat the crisis is competition policy, whose purpose is to create an internal market that is more dynamic, effective and competitive at international level.

I am voting for this report, since I agree that there should be greater transparency in terms of the prices used by companies, that specific measures should be adopted to solve the banking crisis, that more research and innovation grants should be awarded to companies, and that there should be oversight of mergers. I would highlight as a positive the stress given in the report to fostering competition in all sectors and not just the service sector, which accounts for 70% of the European economy.

 
  
  

Report: Barbara Matera (A7-0396/2011 )

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D ), in writing. (PT) I am voting for this report, above all because of the need to support the thousands of workers made redundant as a result of Renault filing for bankruptcy, but I am bound to regret the excessive time this application has taken. I would take this opportunity to stress that is very important to retain this programme for the next Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF), 2014-2020. The EU will always be obliged to provide help in these situations, defending the European social model so as to protect companies and workers made weaker by various situations, pursuant to the criteria already laid down in the current MFF, as well as seeking to expand its scope for action.

 
  
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  Sophie Auconie (PPE ), in writing. (FR) I welcome the decision taken by the European Parliament to mobilise EUR 24.5 million to finance the retraining of 3 582 people laid off by Renault. As the automotive sector has not been spared by the crisis, it is important for the European Union to take action to limit its effects. While, in principle, this fund can only be mobilised to help workers affected by globalisation, the EU decided to broaden its scope to cover job losses resulting from the crisis. However, I regret that this decision was not carried over to 2012. What is more, I regret the negative vote of the French Socialists, who too often prefer ideology to real assistance to European workers.

 
  
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  Zoltán Bagó (PPE ), in writing . – (HU) I did not support the application for support France had submitted with respect to the 4 445 people made redundant (of whom 3 582 are entitled to support) at Renault s.a.s. and seven of its automotive industry suppliers. The report decides how the money of European tax paying citizens should be spent. I am not convinced that the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund should be used for such a purpose, which, in my opinion, is the responsibility of the Member State. The EU could use the amount awarded from the budget for this support application to assist in the creation of jobs in regions where there really is a high proportion of unemployment. From the story behind the report it turns out that Renault and Peugeot as well as Dutch and German companies will receive the support directly.

 
  
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  Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D ), in writing (LT) I voted in favour of this resolution on the mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) for France with a view to granting EUR 24.5 million in commitment and payment appropriations. The European Globalisation Adjustment Fund grants support to and helps reintegrate in the labour market workers made redundant as a result of major structural changes in world trade patterns due to globalisation and as a direct effect of the global financial and economic crisis. In October 2009, France submitted an application and requested assistance in respect of 4 445 redundancies (of which 3 582 are targeted for assistance) in the enterprise Renault s.a.s. and seven of its suppliers from the automotive industry. Since 2008, Renault has been severely affected by the increasing cost of credit and the hardening of credit conditions resulting from the global financial and economic crisis. As a result, demand for Renault cars dropped and the enterprise’s economic situation worsened. According to the Commission’s assessment, the application fulfils the eligibility criteria set out in the EGF Regulation. I agree to the EGF being mobilised to provide a financial contribution for the application submitted by France in order to support the reintegration into the labour market of workers made redundant due to the global financial and economic crisis.

 
  
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  Elena Băsescu (PPE ), in writing . – (RO) I voted for this report because I think that workers who have been made redundant need support in their efforts to find a new job. The EU must provide assistance more actively in this respect. Cofinancing active labour policies via the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) is especially important during the financial and economic crisis.

The workers made redundant by Renault in France should be given financial assistance. I should stress that the procedure for releasing the grants needs to be speeded up. The efficiency and transparency in awarding them are of paramount importance. I think that the cofinancing rate through the EGF of 65% must not be reduced. I should mention that in September Nokia decided to relocate its business from Romania to Asia. As a result, more than 2 200 workers are due to be made redundant from January 2012. Romania is preparing to apply for financial assistance through the EGF so as to provide them with financial support.

 
  
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  Regina Bastos (PPE ), in writing. (PT) The European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) was created in 2006 in order to provide additional assistance to workers affected by the consequences of significant changes in the structure of international trade and to assist in their reintegration into the labour market. Since 1 May 2009, the scope of the EGF has been expanded to include support for workers made redundant as a direct consequence of the economic, financial and social crisis. At this time of severe crisis, one of the principal consequences of which has been an increase in unemployment, the EU needs to use all the means at its disposal to respond, particularly with regard to providing support for those who find themselves without a job. I therefore voted for this report concerning the mobilisation of EUR 24 493 525 from the EGF for France, with the objective of supporting workers made redundant from the company Renault s.a.s. and seven of its suppliers.

 
  
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  Jean-Luc Bennahmias (ALDE ), in writing. (FR) Mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) for Renault, a purely French controversy, has caused several disagreements, which should not, however, lead us to forget about the real issue here. Today’s vote was, controversy aside, a vote for or against the EGF. As we work on extending this fund beyond 2013 – which, it should be pointed out, is one of the EU’s only concrete actions to tackle the social consequences of the crisis – it seemed important to me to express my support for the EGF. It certainly appears that, in Renault’s case, not all the rules have been fully respected (funding of so-called passive training rather than active training) and that the French company has shown a certain reluctance to provide the information it was asked for. It is therefore vital to find a solution for the workers who now find themselves in difficulty. In the long term, this French case shows us that we need to improve management of the EGF in the forthcoming budgetary period.

 
  
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  Nikolaos Chountis (GUE/NGL ), in writing. (EL) Despite the fact that I always vote in favour of the mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund, in this particular instance I voted against it. This application concerns the automotive manufacturer Renault, in which the French Government also has a stake. Despite the economic crisis, Renault is still making large profits; however, it has been using money from the national and European budgets for years for the purpose of mass redundancies. It hopes to do likewise in this particular instance, for 3 000 workers, without using its own funds or profits for the bonuses and ‘social plan’ which are compulsory under French law. As the French trade unions have complained, for years Renault has done nothing to defend the rights of workers or to maintain jobs.

Finally, this particular issue is being used in an attempt to have financial responsibility assumed for the adverse impact from the reform of the French pension system. However, we cannot support this; every Member State is obliged to provide and all workers are entitled to receive a decent pension, meaning that the solution lies in public support for viable insurance funds, not in passing ‘charity’.

 
  
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  Mário David (PPE ), in writing. (PT) Although I regret the events that led to Renault and seven of its suppliers undertaking this process, I welcome this mobilisation of EUR 24.5 million from the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) following two votes in the Committee on Budgets, during the first of which the application was rejected. It was rejected the first time because the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament, the European Conservatives and Reformists Group and non-attached Members voted against. Members from the S&D Group, above all, used this process as a political weapon against the French Government. It seems clear to me that there is absolutely no justification for using the redundancy of several thousand workers to score political points. Moreover, the precedent of using the EGF in other ways than for its specific purpose also seems worthy of censure to me. I hope that this sum can now be mobilised as quickly as possible, as requested by the rapporteur.

 
  
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  Christine De Veyrac (PPE ), in writing. (FR) I voted in favour of this report authorising mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund for 3 582 French workers made redundant by the car manufacturer Renault. This fund enables those of our fellow citizens most seriously affected by the crisis to receive additional support from the European Union, without the state having to put its hand in its pocket.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE ), in writing. (PT) Renault, an iconic company of the automotive sector, has made 4 445 workers redundant. The company’s problems have also affected seven of its suppliers, which are today experiencing serious problems. This fact throws into even sharper relief the worrying times the European economy is undergoing, and how this affects businesses and families.

I hope the European automotive industry will be able to recover the position it used to have at global level, and that its main brands will manage to survive the crisis affecting everyone. I hope that mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund will be approved so as to come swiftly to the aid of workers that could benefit from it, and that this additional help will be able to contribute to their reintegration into the labour market.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE ), in writing. (PT) In July 2011, the Commission adopted a new proposal for a decision on the mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF), created in 2006 with the aim of supporting workers made redundant as a result of globalisation, for France. This is the 13th application of 2011, and it provides for the mobilisation of EUR 24 493 525 to mitigate the social impact of the redundancy of 4 445 workers from seven enterprises in the automotive sector (application EGF/2009/019 FR/Renault-France). The complexity of applying to the EGF and its low level of maximum contribution (65%) has led to a low application rate, meaning that, in five years, only 14% (EUR 370 million) of the total sum available has been taken up.

I welcome the adoption of this proposal for a decision, for which I voted, and call on the Commission and Council to table before this House a proposal to increase the maximum EGF contribution from 65% to 95% for any Member State in receipt of a bailout package, for example Portugal and Greece, as has been recently adopted by Parliament in relation to cohesion funding and the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD).

 
  
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  Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D ), in writing . (SK) Point 28 of the Interinstitutional Agreement of 17 May 2006 between the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission on budgetary discipline and sound financial management allows for the mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) through the Flexibility Instrument, with an annual ceiling of EUR 500 million over and above the relevant headings of the financial framework. The rules applicable to the contributions from the EGF are laid down in Regulation (EC) No 1927/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 December 2006 on establishing the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund. On 9 October 2009, France submitted application EGF/2009/019 FR/Renault for a financial contribution from the EGF, following redundancies in Renault s.a.s. and seven of its subsidiaries in France. The application cites 1 384 redundancies in Renault s.a.s. and six suppliers and a further 3 061 redundancies in Renault s.a.s. and seven suppliers outside the reference period, but included in the same voluntary redundancy plan. After a thorough examination of this application, the Commission has concluded that the conditions for a financial contribution under this Regulation have been met.

 
  
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  João Ferreira and Ilda Figueiredo (GUE/NGL ), in writing. (PT) My vote, in this Renault case, was above all a protest vote at the actions of the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats), which blocked the vote on an amendment by the Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe demanding that the rights of Renault workers not be put at risk by the recent decisions of the French Government. It should also be recalled that Renault has made millions of euro in profit and that the French state is one of the company’s shareholders. However, as I stated in plenary on the Renault issue, it is important first and foremost to express complete solidarity with the around 5 000 workers who have been victims of redundancy. On the other hand, the confused situation that France has created surrounding this European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) application process is regrettable, as is the company’s lack of dialogue with the representatives of its workers and the lack of transparency about how the process has developed, which has been stressed by a number of French Members, particularly from our group.

We maintain our position of solidarity with the workers and our support for mobilising the EGF, provided that the process is transparent and despite the criticisms that we also continue to make of the EGF Regulation.

 
  
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  Lorenzo Fontana (EFD ), in writing. (IT) I voted in favour of the report, because although Renault’s conduct could be considered unfair, we are dealing with the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF), which supports the reintegration of workers affected by the crisis into the labour market. I voted in favour because otherwise large numbers of French workers would have been deprived of such assistance.

 
  
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  Marian Harkin (ALDE ), in writing. I support the application of the French Government to access the EGF on behalf of redundant workers of Renault. This application has taken a long time to progress through the system and has had its fair share of controversy. However, it is important that we always keep a clear perspective on EGF applications. This fund is intended to provide tailor-made packages for workers – that is the core issue.

 
  
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  Jacky Hénin (GUE/NGL ), in writing. (FR) The European Globalisation Adjustment Fund was created to help workers and companies who fall victim to globalisation and to enable workers to become employable again. However, in reality, all too often it is those who bring about unbridled competition between people, to swell profits, that apply.

Here, Renault and several subcontractors want to be supported, while the only aim of their job cuts is to increase their profits. More seriously, Renault – as the workers have told us – has used this mechanism to bring about early retirement. Accordingly, many workers approaching retirement have been busy learning how to hang wallpaper, do gardening or drive a motorbike or a boat.

Since the French Government has decided to increase the retirement age, a number of them are now faced with an unacceptable situation. They have given their health for their company and risk finding themselves with nothing, several months before being able to exercise their retirement rights.

While we are in favour of state aid being able to support industrial development and research, to boost jobs, we cannot support misuse of public funds.

 
  
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  Brice Hortefeux (PPE ), in writing. (FR) Parliament has finally approved mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund in favour of Renault and its 3 582 workers who have chosen voluntary redundancy. This measure will affect the Ile-de-France, Haute-Normandie and Nord-Pas-de-Calais factories. The European Union will thus grant EUR 24.5 million of aid, the highest amount ever paid to date. It is excellent news for French industry and its workers waiting for a decision to release the funds, which had been delayed by French socialists. I believe that exploiting, for political purposes, an affair that had nothing to do with purely national issues is an unacceptable manoeuvre that has no place in Parliament. That is why I am delighted that the French socialists, who have once again tried, in plenary, to get an amendment adopted that is designed to put pressure on the government, have failed.

 
  
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  Juozas Imbrasas (EFD ), in writing. (LT) On 9 October 2009, France submitted an application to mobilise the EGF in respect of redundancies in the enterprise Renault s.a.s. and seven of its suppliers. The application concerns 4 445 redundancies, of which 3 582 are targeted for assistance, in the French enterprise Renault and seven of its suppliers during the four-month reference period from 1 April 2009 to 31 July 2009. This application complies with the requirements for determining the financial contributions as laid down in Article 10 of Regulation (EC) No 1927/2006. I therefore support the Commission’s proposal to mobilise an amount of EUR 24 493 525.

 
  
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  Philippe Juvin (PPE ), in writing. (FR) I voted in favour of this report on mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) in favour of Renault workers to enable funding of the retraining of 3 582 workers who have chosen voluntary redundancy. The workers concerned come from factories that are based in the Ile-de-France, Haute-Normandie and Nord-Pas-de-Calais regions. The EGF is a vital instrument, a concrete manifestation of solidarity within the European Union.

 
  
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  Constance Le Grip (PPE ) , in writing. (FR) I voted in favour of mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) for Renault and its workers. The aid received – EUR 24.5 million, which is the highest amount that has ever been granted by the EGF – will go to fund the retraining of 3 582 workers who have chosen voluntary redundancy in factories located in the Ile-de-France, Haute-Normandie and Nord-Pas-de-Calais regions. I welcome the positive vote, which sends out a message of solidarity and very practical aid to a French car industry and workers who are struggling in a situation of very tough global competition. Once threatened by the opposition of French socialists, this aid has finally been approved thanks to the determination of MEPs belonging to the French UMP party. The Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament has managed to make their French members see reason, preventing electoral considerations from affecting the interests of the workers.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D ), in writing. I voted for this proposal for a decision on the mobilisation of the EGF in favour of France in order to support the reintegration in the labour market of workers made redundant due to the global financial and economic crisis.

 
  
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  Jean-Luc Mélenchon (GUE/NGL ), in writing. (FR) This report approves a payout that Renault does not deserve. This company, which posted a profit of EUR 1.2 billion in the first six months of this year, is stepping up its redundancy schemes. It is replacing its workers with temporary casual workers. Today, it is taking cynicism to extremes, leaving jobless hundreds of former workers, whom it had assured, in 2009, that their unemployment benefits would be paid until their planned retirement date. Retirement reform has been through that. Renault, of which the French state is the main shareholder, had never seen it! Even worse: Renault is offering its former workers temporary jobs as the only solution. Rewarding such a monstrous social act is obscene.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE ), in writing. (PT) The EU is an area of solidarity and the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) is a part of that. This support is essential for helping the unemployed and victims of company relocations that occur in the context of globalisation. An increasing number of companies are relocating, taking advantage of reduced labour costs in a number of countries, particularly China and India, with a damaging effect on countries that respect workers’ rights. The EGF aims to help workers who are victims of the relocation of companies, and it is essential for facilitating access to new employment. The EGF has been used by other EU Member States in the past, so now it is appropriate to grant this aid to France, which has applied for assistance relating to 4 445 redundancies, 3 582 of which are targeted for assistance, from the enterprise Renault s.a.s. and seven of its suppliers from the automotive industry

 
  
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  Andreas Mölzer (NI ), in writing. (DE) The expectations expressed in the report in relation to further improvements in the working of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) and the call for greater efficiency and transparency, as well as better availability of the fund are to be welcomed. In times of economic uncertainty, it is all the more important to offer more effective help to people who have lost their jobs due to the current financial and economic crisis. The improvements called for should enable the fund to intervene in a faster, more targeted way in the future. It is essential that areas of high unemployment should be able to access aid efficiently. After all, it would be disastrous if people who had lost their jobs were unable to receive the most immediate possible assistance because of a slow-moving EGAF process. For this reason, I support the calls and expectations contained in this report. I have therefore voted in favour of the report.

 
  
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  Siiri Oviir (ALDE ), in writing. (ET) I supported this report, as I consider it regrettable that the corresponding evaluation period has now lasted for over two years in the case of the application submitted by Renault France. Unfortunately, the satisfaction of the application was made more complicated by the fact that the employees who had been made redundant chose an early retirement plan, which resulted in a conflict with present European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) regulations. The pension rights of people who have been made redundant, however, changed during the pension reform, and it was bona fide employees who suffered. I do, however, recognise the efforts made by the French Government and all parties to solve the situation, and I nevertheless consider it appropriate for Renault’s application to be financed from EGF funds. I consider the existence of this fund to be very important, as it offers extensive support to those who have been made redundant as a result of the economic crisis in finding new jobs through retraining. Hopefully those Member States that have not yet received support from the fund due to high cost-sharing or insufficient administrative capacity, will also receive support from the EGF. One positive example, however, is Holland, which has set the objective of taking maximum advantage of European Union subsidies.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE ), in writing. (PT) The European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) was created to provide additional support for workers affected by the consequences of major structural changes in the patterns of world trade. On 11 July 2011, the Commission adopted a new draft decision on the mobilisation of the EGF for France, with the aim of supporting the reintegration into the labour market of workers made redundant as a result of the global economic and financial crisis. This is the 13th application to be examined within the framework of the 2011 budget, and relates to the mobilisation of the total sum of EUR 24 493 525 from the EGF for France, with regard to 4 445 redundancies, 3 582 of which are targeted for assistance, from the French enterprise Renault and seven of its suppliers during the four-month reference period between 1 April 2009 and 31 July 2009. Given that the application fulfils all the necessary requirements for mobilising this financial aid mechanism, I voted for this report.

 
  
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  Miguel Portas (GUE/NGL ), in writing. (PT) I abstained in the vote on mobilising the European Global Adjustment Fund (EGF) in the Renault case. Training for the workers has already been undertaken and funded by the French state and Renault itself. This is a case of reimbursing the French state and Renault, which should not happen.

Renault declared profits of EUR 1.2 billion in the first six months of 2011, continues to forge ahead with its plans for reducing its staff and is replacing permanent contracts with precarious ones. Even worse than that, it is doing all this with the complicity of the French State and at the expense of the European taxpayer. On the other hand, the EGF has been coming under attack from some of the Member States that have benefited most from it, including Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark and the United Kingdom. The EGF is one of the Union’s few instruments intended to aid the reintegration of workers in the context of the current social, economic and financial crisis, by guaranteeing training programmes adapted to each worker. Allowing the way the EGF is used to be twisted to enable Europe’s large multinationals to restructure without bearing the related costs is the other way of doing away with it.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE ), in writing. Abstained. The Group has serious doubts about this case and the quality of the training measures organised.

 
  
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  Nuno Teixeira (PPE ), in writing. (PT) Regulation (EC) No 1927/2006 of the European Parliament and the Council of 20 December 2006 established the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) with the aim of supporting workers who lose their jobs due to structural changes in the context of the global economy. Owing to the redundancy of 3 582 workers from the company Renault and seven of its suppliers located in the French regions of Île-de-France (53%), Haute-Normandie (29.5%) and Nord-Pas-de-Calais (12.5%), France has requested the mobilisation of the EGF so as to obtain European funding to support the labour situation of the workers in question. I am voting for the requested sum of EUR 24 493 525, which will be channelled into providing one-off, time-limited, individualised support for workers made redundant as a result of globalisation and the financial and economic crisis. Finally, I believe the European institutions should make every effort to improve the EGF’s procedural and budgetary arrangements, so as to make its mobilisation to the benefit of workers faster and more efficient.

 
  
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  Silvia-Adriana Ţicău (S&D ), in writing . – (RO) This application complies with the requirements for determining the financial contributions, as laid down in Article 10 of Regulation (EC) No 1927/2006. The application does not cover the Renault workers who opted for the early retirement scheme and were not eligible for aid from the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) under Regulation (EC) No 1927/2006, but saw their pension rights altered by the pension reform which came into force in the meantime. I support the mobilisation of EUR 24 493 525 from the EGF to support the workers referred to in the application.

The measures financed by the EGF should lead to long-term employment. We call on the Commission for strong, close monitoring and guidance, with the aim of ensuring that the training on offer matches local economic trends. However, the assistance provided by the EGF must not replace the actions which companies are responsible for taking, in accordance with national legislation or collective agreements, or measures restructuring companies or sectors.

 
  
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  Joachim Zeller (PPE ), in writing . (DE) I was unable to vote in favour of the Matera report today because I believe it promotes a misuse of the Globalisation Adjustment Fund. Redundancies at Renault in France, while very unfortunate for the workers, have nothing to do with “globalisation” and everything to do with corporate policy. The Renault Group is not in economic difficulties and, if business is slow in some markets, this is due to internal problems within the company relating to service and the delivery of new cars. In addition, Renault has also moved production capacity to ‘Dacia’ because it can produce more cheaply in Romania, and is planning significant foreign investment (for example in Brazil). If French workers lose their jobs as a result, I do not see this as a reason to reward this conglomerate with approximately EUR 25 million from the European budget, instead of being called to account by the French State for its share in providing social cover for its former workers.

 
  
  

Report: Michael Cashman (A7-0426/2011 )

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D ), in writing. (PT) I am voting for this report. This is first and foremost because the Treaty of Lisbon requires the Commission to do everything to make Union institutions, bodies, offices and agencies operate in the most transparent way possible. I also think we should take this opportunity to try to make this regulation the single legal framework for public access to all documents handled by Union institutions, offices, bodies and agencies, bearing in mind that the final users are the public. It is our duty and obligation to make access as easy and user-friendly as possible. Furthermore, we need to take this opportunity to try to order the various provisions in a more consistent and reasonable way, so the institutions can finally work together to set out common rules and guidelines for handling different kind of documents.

 
  
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  Laima Liucija Andrikienė (PPE ), in writing. – I voted against the resolution on public access to European Parliament, Council and Commission documents as it goes far beyond the goal to create more transparency by better access to documents for the citizens. Moreover, the report takes on issues that cannot be the subject of the regulation at all. I supported the position of the EPP Group, that the report does not only transgress the law and interinstitutional agreement in force but violates as well the safeguarding of competition proceedings, sensitive and personal data. The report defines as a ‘document’ all data and content which is somehow linked to the politics, the measures and the decisions of all institutions of the EU; this includes in a broad way also preparative, confidential and classified documents. Therefore this definition includes not only documents but also pieces of information. As a consequence the citizens would have access to procedures, which goes far beyond the normal access to documents and which would open the floodgates to public influence.

 
  
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  Liam Aylward and Pat the Cope Gallagher (ALDE ), in writing. – We fully support transparency in the decision-making and administrative workings of the European institutions and are in favour of several measures in this report seeking to increase transparency and access to information for European citizens. However, a number of points in the report go far beyond measures required for increased transparency and in the interests of the privacy of our constituents, who often contact us – as their public representatives – with matters and queries of a personal or sensitive nature, it was necessary to vote against this report.

 
  
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  Zoltán Bagó (PPE ), in writing.(HU) I did not vote for the report on the proposal for a European Parliament and Council regulation on public access to European Parliament, Council and Commission documents because its content is not in line with my political values and with those of the Group of the European People's Party (Christian Democrats). I find it unacceptable for everyone to have access to the documents of the institutions, bodies, bureaus and agencies of the EU. In addition, full publicity of the documents would be difficult to realise in practice, therefore I believe that the solution to the easier participation of citizens in decision making is not full publicity. It is not justified if the publication of these documents infringes upon other basic rights, such as personal rights. However, next time I would gladly support a less exaggerated or one-sided compromise solution that stands closer to the standpoint of the PPE Group, as the subject of the report is of outstanding importance.

 
  
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  Jean-Luc Bennahmias (ALDE ), in writing. (FR) Today, in addition to the difficult economic and monetary situation, we are faced with a deep crisis in European democracy. The EU is still suffering from its decisions not being understood by its citizens, who still feel detached from them. The challenge of bringing Europe and its citizens closer together is more relevant than ever: guaranteeing transparency of the decisions issued by the EU as well as free access to the documents of the three institutions is vital if we want to rise to the challenge. The European Parliament is already an open and transparent institution that widely publishes its meetings and reports. Indeed, it is thanks to more transparency that citizens can take part in the democratic process with full knowledge of the facts. I therefore voted in favour of this report, which seeks to strengthen public access to documents and democracy in the European Union. This opening up of access to documents in particular gives national political stakeholders the chance to check the acts of the European institutions, and it integrates all content whatever its medium concerning a matter falling within the sphere of responsibility of a Union institution. We can thus make progress towards transparency with the aim of clarifying the opacity of ‘Brussels’ decisions for all European citizens.

 
  
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  Adam Bielan (ECR ), in writing . (PL) I am in favour of the European institutions being open, and of citizens being provided with the widest possible access to documents. Transparency, which is an expression of the right to good administration, also represents an excellent tool for its control. Extending the definition of a document to include any electronic media may make it significantly easier to access them. The practice of broadcasting Parliament’s plenary sessions and committee meetings online is a good example of transparency and openness of activities. The Commission should also give a clear indication of its willingness to ensure greater transparency in the functioning of the EU’s institutions, bodies, offices and agencies. Various restrictions on access to documents, including while they are being drafted, may equate to a blocking of public information. The decision to refuse access to a document should therefore be made on the basis of clearly and precisely formulated rules, which also set out special exceptions. The citizen should be provided with comprehensive justification for such a decision. I support the resolution.

 
  
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  Vilija Blinkevičiūtė (S&D ), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this report because we MEPs, as representatives of the citizens, have the task of ensuring that the right granted to citizens under the Treaty of Lisbon to access documents of the EU institutions, bodies, offices and agencies, whatever their medium, is properly implemented. I thus support Parliament’s position and the amendments according to which, in particular, the proposals submitted by the Commission in 2008 and this year should be combined, for the purposes of their simplification, in one document. The European Parliament also supplemented the Commission’s proposal with provisions concerning additional applications to obtain information and the application of the principle of good and open administration during the transitional period, as well as provisions prohibiting any form of discrimination and the refusal to provide information to citizens on the grounds of possible technical difficulties or discrepancies.

 
  
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  Cristian Silviu Buşoi (ALDE ), in writing. (RO) As we are all well aware, public access to official EU documents is a very important issue for the transparency of European institutions and other EU agencies. I welcome the ideas from the rapporteur and especially the tenacity with which he supports them, as it is the second report on this topic due to the stalemate that occurred after the first report was adopted.

First of all, it must be highlighted that public access to EU documents increases the level of transparency of the EU institutions, with the upshot of a higher level of public confidence and a sense of closeness to the EU. I am pleased to see that the report contained a number of ambitious amendments to the Commission’s proposal. The suggestions made offer citizens wider access compared with the Commission’s text, which ignores some aspects of the jurisprudence of the CJEU (for example, in the Turco v. Council case). Secondly, the definition chosen for ‘documents’ is much more suitable than the Commission’s definition. Third-party documents held by institutions must be accessible under the current system which has worked fairly well. I also support the document classification system proposed by the rapporteur and I think that it is adequate for maintaining the level of protection required to ensure the smooth operation of EU institutions.

 
  
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  Carlos Coelho (PPE ), in writing. (PT) Advantage should be taken of the opening up provided by the Treaty of Lisbon to get the message to the public that the EU institutions, bodies and agencies are ready to increase Union transparency to the level required by the new Treaty. Only by making European legislation and decision-making mechanisms more transparent will we successfully bring the EU closer to the public, so increasing the democratic legitimacy of the political system.

Adoption of this regulation will facilitate public access to documents processed by Union institutions, bodies and agencies, providing the opportunity to organise the various existing provisions more coherently and reasonably, with a view to making the European decision-making process more comprehensible. Unfortunately, an agreement still has not been reached, with disagreements ranging from the definition of ‘document’, to the extension of exceptions to document access, to personal data protection, and to the handling of classified documents. Yet this institutional deadlock shows the EU and its institutions in a very negative light, so I call on both colegislators to show signs of greater openness and sense of compromise for the benefit of the public, and of safeguarding their fundamental right of access to documents and participation in the political process.

 
  
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  Corina Creţu (S&D ), in writing. (RO) I voted in favour of the proposal for a regulation regarding public access to European Parliament, Council and Commission documents. The impact on the officials’ duties of drafting, registering, negotiating, classifying and archiving EU documents should be balanced, thereby protecting the efficiency and transparency of the EU institutions. Now that the Treaty of Lisbon is in force, it is natural that the message should be about making more transparent the way in which the EU institutions, offices, bodies and agencies operate, also with the aim of bringing Europe’s forums closer to its citizens.

 
  
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  Edite Estrela (S&D ), in writing. (PT) I voted for this report because it promotes greater transparency in the institutions’ legislative and administrative processes.

 
  
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  Göran Färm, Anna Hedh, Olle Ludvigsson, Jens Nilsson, Marita Ulvskog and Åsa Westlund (S&D ), in writing. (SV) We are largely in favour of Mr Cashman’s report, which we believe to be a major step in the right direction when it comes to opening up the EU institutions and allowing public scrutiny of the EU’s work.

We are sceptical about the proposal put forward regarding the classification of documents. The classification that the institutions use does not directly affect the public’s access to documents.

Just because a document is classified in a particular way does not mean that it will automatically be exempt from the requirements of the regulation. We therefore believe that classification would be best regulated in another piece of legislation.

We also fear that there is a risk of the system resulting in over-classification (with more documents than necessary being classified) and therefore in less transparency.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE ), in writing. (PT) The openness of European institutions and the transparency of their procedures are guarantees that civil society and the public in the Member States are not only kept informed, but are also an integral and informed part of their decision-making processes. Although people feel somewhat divorced from Europe, not least because the procedure that led to the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon was troubled, not always clear and often open to criticism, the European institutions must persist in and commit themselves wholeheartedly to making the greatest possible number of documents available in good time, thus helping to close the gap.

Nevertheless, I am bound to lament the fact that the need to improve the legal framework regulating document access has been used to take the populist stance of dismissing the real need for confidentiality on some procedures, documents and information. As such, in an agreement between all the left-leaning groups in Parliament, leaving the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) out in the cold, a vision is being enshrined that goes far beyond normal public access to the institutions’ documents; I cannot vote for that.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE ), in writing. (PT) We can say that transparency is the essence of democracy and should be at its service. As an example of democracy in action, the European Union felt the need to demonstrate to its citizens that it has nothing to hide, so it adopted its first regulation on transparency 10 years ago. This report, drafted by Mr Cashman, concerns the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission regarding public access to the documents of the EU institutions. Access to information and the documents of public bodies – while it can be embarrassing at times – is a fundamental right of the public and should be treated as such. Nevertheless, there is a need to safeguard a level of confidentiality on certain subjects, both for personal and copyright reasons, and to prevent those with privileged access to certain information from making improper use of it.

I voted for this report, because I believe there should be transparency on all the decisions of public bodies, provided that exceptions remain – as they seem to be – safeguarded: classified and confidential documents, and those relating to private life under the terms of the Statute for Members and the Staff Regulations.

 
  
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  João Ferreira and Ilda Figueiredo (GUE/NGL ), in writing. (PT) The public should be guaranteed access that is as user-friendly as possible to all documents dealt with by Union institutions, bodies, offices and agencies. Information and knowledge about what these authorities deal with and decide could play a fairly important part in the public knowing who made decisions and what they decided on areas that will, invariably, have a direct impact on their lives.

Although there is much room for improvement, this report is an important step towards making the EU institutions more transparent. That is why we voted in favour.

 
  
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  Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D ), in writing. (SK) Article 255 of the Treaty establishing the European Community, as amended by the Treaty of Amsterdam, grants citizens of the European Union and natural or legal persons residing or having their registered office in a Member State, the right of access to European Parliament, Council and Commission documents. The principles and limits governing this right of access have been determined by Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001 regarding public access to European Parliament, Council and Commission documents, which became applicable on 3 December 2001. However, as a number of substantive changes have been made to the regulation, it should be recast in the interests of clarity and better comprehensibility. Transparency in the legislative process is of utmost importance for citizens. Therefore, institutions should actively disseminate documents that are part of the legislative process, and dissemination should also be encouraged in other areas. On account of the highly sensitive content of certain documents, it should be borne in mind under all circumstances that they should be treated in a special and responsible manner.

.

 
  
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  Louis Grech (S&D ), in writing. I welcome the Cashman report on public access to EU documents, as I believe the proposed measures will help make our EU institutions more transparent and accountable to citizens. Citizens have a right to know that not only the European Commission and Parliament but also the Council of Ministers are accountable to them. At times, there is an unfair perception that important decisions are simply taken in Brussels and then ‘imposed’ on national governments. Making clear how ministers and prime ministers vote in the Council will allow citizens to be better informed about how decisions are made on EU policies that affect them. The report should also be welcomed because it clarifies rules and imposes limits on which EU documents can be classified. Parliament inserted a rule stating that EU documents can only be classified where their disclosure would undermine the essential interests of the EU or one of its Member States, most notably on public security and defence matters. My hope is that we can now have constructive negotiations with the Council and Commission to reach an agreement and enhance the EU’s accountability and credibility with citizens.

 
  
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  Nathalie Griesbeck (ALDE ), in writing. (FR) Eight years on from the entry into force of the European regulation on the right of access to the documents of the European Union’s institutions, the Court of Justice of the European Union and even the European Union Ombudsman’s investigations regularly criticise certain limitations and resistances in the implementation of this regulation. I therefore voted in favour of this new regulation, which lays down access to ALL documents (namely any content whatever its medium concerning a matter falling within the sphere of responsibility of the EU) held by ALL Union institutions, offices, bodies or agencies for all citizens, since the restrictions have been minimised. This is a clear step forward for transparency and democracy in the European Union. Our European institutions are constantly being accused of opacity and incomprehensibility and I hope that this regulation will enable more open, more direct access to the documents of our institutions.

 
  
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  Sylvie Guillaume (S&D ), in writing. (FR) I voted in favour of my colleague Mr Cashman’s report on public access to the documents of the European institutions since it sanctions a fundamental right laid down in the Charter of Fundamental Rights. Furthermore, this report sends out a message of transparency, accountability and democracy to citizens, allowing them to have wider and easier access to EU documents whatever their content and with few exceptions. This access is crucial at a time when the economic governance of the European Union is going to be reinforced. That is why I voted against the provisions of the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) aiming to weaken the transparency requirement, because it is important that citizens can be aware of decisions and they can exercise their right to democratic oversight.

 
  
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  Monika Hohlmeier and Renate Sommer (PPE ), in writing . (DE) We voted against the report on the recasting of the regulation on public access to documents. The report goes far beyond the objective of achieving greater transparency by improving public access to documents. Existing legislation and interinstitutional agreements are ignored and the protection of intellectual property, sensitive and personal data is treated with contempt. Administrative processes and decisions, including those relating to personnel issues, should be published. The same applies to the protection of trade secrets and sensitive information within the framework of approval procedures, court proceedings and competition procedures. The report contains definitions that are vague, lack clarity and cast their net too widely. Any data or content connected in any way with the policies, measures and decisions of all bodies and institutions of the EU is defined as a document. This largely also includes preparatory, confidential and secret documents, as well as all associated information. Thus, the definition covers not only documents, but also information. The publication of information from ongoing interinstitutional processes, such as informal trialogue negotiations, enables public access to the procedure. This would open up the possibility of external influence. Lobbyists would have direct access to the legislative process. This report does not benefit our citizens. It would lead to a deluge of useless information, leading to a greater lack of transparency and rendering our work impossible.

 
  
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  Juozas Imbrasas (EFD ), in writing. (LT) I supported the proposal because now, with the Treaty of Lisbon in force, the Commission is called upon to show more clearly to the citizens that it is ready to provide information in a more transparent way on how the EU institutions, offices, bodies and agencies operate. Legislators must also take this opportunity to try to make this regulation a real and unique legal framework of public accessibility to all documents handled by institutions, offices, bodies and agencies, bearing in mind that the final users are the citizens. We have a duty to make access to European Parliament, Council and Commission documents as easy and user-friendly as possible.

 
  
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  Philippe Juvin (PPE ), in writing. (FR) I voted against Mr Cashman’s report on public access to European Parliament, Council and Commission documents because it goes well beyond the simple aim of improving the transparency of the work of the European institutions. The report sets existing legislation aside and does not take account of the protection of personal and sensitive data. The report does not seem to be an improvement in favour of European citizens. It confuses documents and information and leads to excessive publication of useless documents that do not give citizens better information.

 
  
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  Marian-Jean Marinescu (PPE ), in writing. (RO) I voted against the report on public access to European Parliament, Council and Commission documents because this report does not help meet the European objective of greater transparency. Furthermore, it ignores current legislation and interinstitutional agreements. The text being proposed does not take into account either the protection of parties in the case of competition and personal data. The need for transparency must be a basic principle for European legislation, and the public must have the right to access any relevant document concerning EU legislation. However, this transparency must not create confusion and identify accessing documents with accessing information preceding certain institutional decisions. This kind of identification would be detrimental to the institutions as publishing unofficial information about ongoing procedures could mean that interinstitutional decisions are influenced by lobby groups, for instance. I think that having access to documents must have legal support, contribute to transparency and get rid of red tape, and not create confusion.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D ), in writing. I voted for this proposal from my colleague Michael Cashman on public access to documents. It is a measured response to increasing demands from the European citizens but also from national institutions and regional authorities, primarily the national parliaments, for improved access to the documents held by the EU institutions.

 
  
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  Mario Mauro (PPE ), in writing. (IT) My group has always fought for maximum transparency in EU legislation and decision-making processes. I am therefore in favour of citizens having wide access to EU documents. The report in question goes far beyond these objectives and deals with issues that in my view absolutely cannot be subject to such a regulation. Secret and preparatory documents are an example of where it goes too far.

 
  
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  Mairead McGuinness (PPE ), in writing. The European Parliament is the most transparent of all EU institutions. Agendas and legislative documents, including amendments, are available online prior to any vote. Members of the public can follow committee and plenary proceedings in person or via live web-streaming. Voting results are published, including details of which MEPs voted and how they voted in the case of roll-call votes. Although this report prioritises transparency, it goes too far and actually poses a potential threat to the smooth working of Parliament. The text confuses ‘access to documents’ with ‘administrative procedures’ and goes beyond the remit of its legal base. This also puts into question the interinstitutional agreement on the use of classified material. Transparency is of the utmost importance, as is the ‘space to think’. Although I am in agreement with the main thrust of this report, I abstained in the final vote.

 
  
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  Jean-Luc Mélenchon (GUE/NGL ), in writing. (FR) Public disclosure of European Parliament, Council and Commission documents is a huge task. Even we MEPs have trouble getting hold of them and they often take weeks to be transcribed into EU languages. Only one amendment deals more specifically with the, nonetheless crucial, issue of languages. I am therefore voting against, to oppose the constant anti-French contempt of the European institutions, to which France gives very generously.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE ), in writing. (PT) I voted against this report because I believe it goes too far with regard to legislative transparency. I cannot agree that important confidential documents should be made available on the Internet without any controls. Public access to the documents of the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission is important, but it should not be generalised, as there should be a right for sensitive documents to be kept private, so it should be possible for completely unrestricted access to these to be evaluated.

 
  
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  Gay Mitchell (PPE ), in writing. I wish to explain why the Irish EPP delegation abstained from the vote on the Cashman report. The European Parliament is the most transparent of the EU institutions with agendas and legislative documents, including amendments, available online prior to any vote. The public has the right to follow committee and plenary proceedings in person. Plenary sessions and committees are also web-streamed, allowing all EU citizens and journalists to follow sessions live. Voting results are published, including details of which MEPs voted and how they voted in the case of roll-call votes. Decision-making in the European Parliament in the absence of a standing governing coalition (like most national parliamentary systems) requires a permanent search for possible compromises. This ‘space to think’ needs to be safeguarded to preserve the functioning of the EP’s system of compromise. The Cashman report confuses access to documents with administrative procedures and goes beyond the remit of its legal base. This also puts into question the interinstitutional agreement on the use of classified material. The Irish EPP delegation fully supports transparency but public access to documents must also meet legal requirements. In this regard, we do not feel the Cashman report is satisfactory.

 
  
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  Radvilė Morkūnaitė-Mikulėnienė (PPE ), in writing . (LT) We often complain about the lack of public interest in the work of EU institutions. However, one of the reasons is that citizens do not know what is happening in those institutions and how decisions are taken, and they are unable to access institutions’ working documents and only see the final document, sometimes without understanding at what point of the discussions a certain provision appeared. There are of course some areas in which it is not possible to disclose all information. For example, when cases relating to the infringement of competition law are being examined, I feel that ensuring fair competition is of greater concern to citizens than access to documents. Thus, although I support the document in principle, I do not agree with all the approved amendments, for which reason I abstained in the final vote.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE ), in writing. (PT) I voted for this report because I agree with the objectives of increasing transparency without making this instrument too specific and difficult to implement, and of improving the institutions’ practices by learning from past experience. Public access to European Parliament, Council and Commission documents could constitute a means of ensuring transparency in European decision making.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE ), in writing. In favour. The rapporteur, Mr Cashman, was also responsible for the proposal for revision of Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001. There he put forward some crucial modifications to the European Commission’s proposal presented on 30 April 2008. The European Parliament voted on and supported those on 11 March 2009. After the EP’s election in June 2009 Mr Cashman was reappointed as rapporteur on the dossier. On 1 December the Lisbon Treaty entered into force and to a large extent modified the legal framework for the revision of this regulation. Already in 2006 he drafted the resolution of the European Parliament approved overwhelmingly by MEPs, containing a list of recommendations for improvement of the current regulation. In this perspective, when the Commission presented its proposal for revision in 2008, expectations were very high as to how the standards on public access to EU documents could be improved. However, despite some positive modifications inserted in the proposal which are clearly justifiable, like the extension of the beneficiaries of this regulation, and conformity with the Aarhus Convention, others would, in my view, represent a step backwards for transparency, especially if we consider that most of the European Parliament’s requests of 2006 have not been taken into account.

 
  
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  Nuno Teixeira (PPE ), in writing. (PT) The purpose of this report is for there to be more transparency in public access to the documents of all Union institutions, bodies, offices and agencies, pursuant to Article 255 of the Treaty of Lisbon. However, this proposal goes beyond its initial objective and regulates matters that it should not. In addition to violating the interinstitutional agreements in force and competition procedures, it jeopardises information that is personal and considered sensitive. The general definition of the concept ‘document’ also includes confidential and classified preparatory documents, and the very initiatives from negotiations, specifically informal trialogues. What will start happening is that the public will have access to negotiations and procedures, whose final conclusions the influence of such access could jeopardise.

For these reasons, I voted against this report, since transparency and access to EU documents should not exceed the bounds of private life, of data protection, and of the protection of trade secrets and information sensitive in legal and competition terms.

 
  
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  Silvia-Adriana Ţicău (S&D ), in writing . – (RO) I voted for the legislative resolution on the proposal amending the regulation on public access to European Parliament, Council and Commission documents. Following the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon, the legal basis for public access to documents is Article 15(3) of the consolidated version of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU). This provision extends the right of public access to the documents of all EU institutions, bodies, offices and agencies. This regulation applies to all documents held by an EU institution, body, office or agency, which is understood to mean documents drawn up or received by the relevant entity and in its possession, in all areas of activity of the European Union. This provision applies to the Court of Justice of the European Union, the European Central Bank and the European Investment Bank only in the course of the performance of their administrative tasks.

Transparency should also strengthen the principles of good administration in EU institutions, bodies, offices and agencies, as provided for by Article 41 of the Charter and by Article 298 of TFEU. Internal administrative procedures should be defined accordingly and adequate financial and human resources should be made available to put the principle of openness into practice. The institutions take the measures necessary to establish a common interface for the institutional registers.

 
  
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  Derek Vaughan (S&D ), in writing. It is vitally important that EU institutions are made more transparent in order to encourage greater citizen participation. I voted in favour of this resolution, which takes a positive step towards a fully transparent and accountable EU. In addition to allowing citizens access to important information upon request this resolution also places importance on encouraging institutions to actively disseminate documents. This progressive resolution has my full support because it will bring the EU closer to its citizens and strengthen the democratic process.

 
  
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  Axel Voss (PPE ), in writing. I voted against the report on the revision of the regulation on public access to documents, because it goes far beyond the aim of more transparency. Existing legislation and interinstitutional agreements are ignored and the protection of competition cases, sensitive and personal data is disregarded. Bureaucratic procedures and decisions, which also comprise aspects regarding the staff, will be published. The same goes for intellectual property, business secrets and sensitive information in the context of admission procedures, trials and competition proceedings. The report provides woolly and vague definitions. Documents are taken to mean any data or content connected in any way with the EU’s policies, measures or decisions of the bodies and institutions. This also broadly includes preparatory, confidential and secret documents as well as all related information. Hence the definition comprises not only documents but also information. The publication of information about ongoing interinstitutional proceedings, e.g. informal trialogue negotiations, creates a public access to the procedure. This would open those negotiations to direct influence from outside, e.g. through lobbying. The report is not in the interests of our citizens. It would bring a flood of useless documents and information, thereby leading to less transparency and render our work impossible.

 
  
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  Angelika Werthmann (NI ), in writing . (DE) This regulation is in urgent need of review if it is to meet the provisions of the Treaty of Lisbon in relation to greater transparency. All documents must be made accessible to the public in order to enable the fastest possible response to the growing demands of our citizens and national institutions. At the same time, it is important to formulate the published documents clearly and to make access easier and more user-friendly for our citizens. Public access to documents strengthens trust in the EU among our citizens because it can make the decisions made at EU level easier to understand. Because the amended version of the proposed regulation ensures greater transparency without complicating the instrument, I have voted in favour.

 
  
  

Report: Knut Fleckenstein (A7-0372/2011 )

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D ), in writing. (PT) I am voting for this report, since I believe there is scope to expand the activities of the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA), so that its existing experience and technical services can be applied to a wider range of policies. In particular, its traffic-monitoring systems could contribute to the creation of a European maritime space without barriers, which would allow goods and passengers to be transported by sea between Member States with no more formalities than if they went by road. This would avoid distorting competition in favour of the less environmentally friendly mode of transport. Similarly the EMSA could advise the Commission on enhancing the mutual compatibility of SafeSeaNet and the River Information System, so as to reduce administrative costs.

 
  
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  Sophie Auconie (PPE ), in writing. (FR) Created in 1999, following the oil spill caused by the loss of the petrol tanker Erika , the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) promotes cooperation between Member States in relation to maritime safety and prevention of pollution caused by ships. It also offers assistance in cases of serious pollution. The Deepwater Horizon disaster, which occurred after the explosion of an oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico, showed that it was necessary to bolster the Agency’s powers. That is why I voted in favour of the Fleckenstein report.

 
  
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  Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D ), in writing (LT) I voted in favour of this legislative resolution on the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA). The Commission’s proposals sets out to amend Regulation No (EC) 1406/2002 on the European Maritime Safety Agency so as to specify the EMSA’s current tasks and role more clearly and extend those tasks to new areas being developed at international and EU level. I agree that, in the area of research, the EMSA should participate more actively in EU marine research activities. EMSA assistance to the Commission and Member States in various international and regional organisations should also be defined more clearly, the different systems for monitoring the EMSA’s operational services should be merged and linked up, and the legal basis of the EMSA’s activities should be simplified with a view to developing the possibility of technical cooperation between the EMSA and neighbouring third countries. The EMSA’s powers should be extended to cover not just ships but also offshore oil and gas installations.

 
  
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  Sergio Berlato (PPE ), in writing. (IT) European citizens expect to be provided with efficient public services in the field of health, education, transport and security. However, we note in many Member States the inability to satisfactorily deal with the problem of waste management. In recent years, waste management has become a social problem of the utmost importance. The difficulty of managing these issues has negative effects not only on human health and well-being, but also on the environment in the broader sense. Although the Union adopted draft legislation to guarantee a suitable legal framework to deal with the problem, analysis of waste management policies yields conflicting information. Some Member States, including Denmark, the Netherlands, Austria and Sweden, are very advanced, while other EU countries have been very slow to implement strategies on waste, which has led to serious breaches of European legislation. It is clear to me that we need urgently to implement a consistent policy on waste management in Europe. I therefore agree with the rapporteur that the Commission’s proposal to establish a more proactive waste management monitoring procedure together with an early warning system in the area of compliance is a good one.

 
  
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  Mara Bizzotto (EFD ), in writing. (IT) There is no doubt that the basic premise of this report is highly commendable. However, it contains sections with which I do not agree. The first critical issue regards the fact that the changes to the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) rules will open up the possibility of Europe offering technical and scientific assistance on maritime safety issues to accession and neighbouring countries. This means that Turkey could benefit from assistance from the EMSA, something I cannot approve of. The second issue I do not agree with is the transfer of power from the Member States to the Commission in the Agency steering committee. I therefore voted against the report.

 
  
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  Vilija Blinkevičiūtė (S&D ), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this report because long-lasting changes are proposed with regard to the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA). The European Maritime Safety Agency, which was founded in 2002 and began operating in March 2003, aims to ensure an effective and uniform application of maritime safety and to protect and support anti-pollution mechanisms. The EMSA also provides Member States and the European Commission with scientific and technical assistance so that they are able to apply Community legislation. The activities of this agency are important because it has, since its inception, conducted more than 100 investigations of various kinds relating to safety, security and the prevention of pollution from ships. The Agency has also organised many events in its area of activity and drawn up detailed technical reports. The EMSA is thus recognised to be a well-run and efficient organisation offering Member States significant savings.

 
  
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  Maria Da Graça Carvalho (PPE ), in writing. (PT) The European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA), which provides aid and technical assistance in the areas of safety, has been playing an increasingly important role in defending the marine environment. I welcome the fact that this report strengthens aspects for which I have fought, and which have already been adopted during this sitting through the Ford report. These are prevention and response mechanisms in the case of environmental disasters relating to oil and gas platforms.

In the period of economic and financial crisis that we are currently experiencing, and with a view to economies of scale, it makes perfect sense to use existing infrastructure to expand the competences of the EMSA. I would stress the need for coordination at EU level and with neighbouring countries, so as to ensure best practices and the harmonisation of the various approaches to both preventing and responding to accidents in the EU’s various regions. Only with a global approach will we achieve greater safety in oil- and gas-sector activities as regards the environmental, economic and social damage caused by potential offshore accidents.

 
  
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  Corina Creţu (S&D ), in writing. (RO) I voted in favour of the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Regulation (EC) No 1406/2002 establishing a European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA). The Commission’s proposal is based on a 2008 consultation with EMSA’s stakeholders, an external evaluation and a Commission impact assessment. It also reflects EMSA’s five-year strategy, adopted by its Administrative Board. The Commission has also published a report (COM(2011)0286 ) showing that an EU oil spill detection and monitoring system reduces costs by around 20% compared to national systems.

EMSA has already been given new tasks as a result of the implementation of the third maritime safety package. It has concluded a number of stand-by oil spill response vessel contracts with private operators which will switch from their regular activity into pollution response mode in the event of an emergency. The Commission proposal makes clear that these vessels could also be used to combat pollution from other sources, including oil rigs.

 
  
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  Vasilica Viorica Dăncilă (S&D ), in writing . – (RO) The European Union and its Member States are making considerable efforts to avert the impact of accidental pollution, especially in the case of maritime pollution caused by oil rigs or tankers. In fact, the proposal to set up a common European coastguard service is particularly welcome in situations like this, which require rapid intervention and efficient coordination of intervention actions.

 
  
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  Mário David (PPE ), in writing. (PT) The Lisbon-based European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) has been establishing itself as one of the main institutional players in the European and international maritime sector. Following the adoption of the third maritime package, the need has arisen to expand the EMSA’s scope of action, competences, tasks and mission. As such, I believe this Committee on Transport and Tourism report is in line with the already identified objectives of realising the future European maritime space without barriers: it puts in place better assistance for Member States in case of pollution from gas or oil platforms, it includes assistance for our neighbouring countries to reduce maritime pollution or in the case of disaster, and it introduces new procedures for improving the running of the EMSA. I would stress the important signal sent to our neighbouring countries, in the week in which we also voted on my report regarding the revision of the European Neighbourhood Policy. This report envisages more Europe: greater efficiency in the way it operates and a new role for our Union in the geographic area of which we are a part. Moreover, all of this is from the city of Lisbon. I voted for this report for all these reasons.

 
  
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  Christine De Veyrac (PPE ), in writing.(FR) I voted in favour of this report, which allows us to take another step towards an ambitious European maritime policy, suited to the maritime traffic off our coasts. It is vital that we arm ourselves with rapid reaction tools in order to contain the damage caused by accidents that could have disastrous environmental and economic consequences for Europe.

 
  
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  Edite Estrela (S&D ), in writing. (PT) I voted for this report, since I believe this agency has been making an important contribution to protecting the environment, limiting the number of maritime accidents and related damage. As such, I view increasing this institution’s mandate and resources positively.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE ), in writing. (PT) The European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) was created in 2003, in response to the wreck of the oil tanker Erika and the resulting environmental impact. Since then, its mission has been focused on preventing sea disasters and on maritime safety. The intention now is to expand its activities by ‘developing a European maritime space without barriers’, which would enable the maritime transportation of goods and passengers between Member States with no more formalities than are applied to transportation by road. This mission is essential in the economic situation Europe is currently experiencing, since the sea could create important opportunities for business and trade that can and must only be encouraged.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE ), in writing. (PT) The European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) was created by Regulation (EC) No 1406/2002 of the European Parliament and of the Council, with a view to responding to the problem created by the wreck of the oil tanker Erika on 12 December 1999, releasing 15 000 tonnes of fuel oil and polluting 450 km of the coast of Brittany. The EMSA’s mission is to provide assistance and technical support relating to maritime protection in pollution situations caused by ships, so it has a crucial role in defending the marine environment.

Both the protection of the oceans and the creation of mechanisms for controlling or combating pollution should be seen in global terms, so as to save resources and streamline procedures. In view of the experience of the EMSA, there is a need to expand its competences and provide it with funds so it can step up the fight against pollution and piracy, as well as supporting and monitoring fishing and transportation craft.

I welcome the adoption of this report, which will expand the competences of the EMSA, so contributing to our ability to enjoy a marine environment that is healthier, better protected and better able to ensure the survival of future generations.

 
  
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  João Ferreira and Ilda Figueiredo (GUE/NGL ), in writing. (PT) The European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) was created in 2003, as a supposed response to the oil tanker Erika ’s accident. On the basis of just environmental concerns, the EMSA has imposed itself on national authorities and jurisdictions on a large scale. Imbued with the federalist and centralising spirit of the EU; it tramples Member State sovereignty over their maritime strategies, those with large exclusive economic zones (EEZs) in particular, such as Portugal, the EU country with the largest maritime area.

We are very concerned about the insistence on creating a so-called European Coastguard, because it will have responsibility for security, checks and monitoring; these are aspects of the sovereignty of the Member States, which guarantee such checks and monitoring, as well as the exploitation of their EEZs, through their national authorities. The report believes there is a need to realise a ‘European maritime space without barriers’, a European ‘Integrated Maritime Policy’, a ‘European Coastguard’, European-level satellite monitoring and automatic identification systems.

In the end, the just initial environmental concerns dissolve in exaggerated instruments and supranational policies, usurping responsibilities and competences that belong solely to each Member State, including their strategies and policies for cooperating with other Member States and third countries.

 
  
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  Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D ), in writing. (SK) Following the accident involving the oil tanker Erika and the major oil pollution caused by this accident, the Commission proposed a Regulation in late 2000 setting up the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) as a technical body with the aim of ensuring a high, uniform and effective level of maritime safety and the prevention of pollution by ships in the EU. The European Parliament and the Council adopted Regulation 1406/2002 on 27 June 2002. The regulation came into effect in August of the same year, while EMSA started operating in March 2003. In accordance with Article 22 of that regulation, its Administrative Board commissioned an independent external evaluation on the implementation of the regulation in 2007. Based on this evaluation, it issued recommendations regarding changes to the regulation, to the Agency and its working practices in June 2008. Certain provisions need to be clarified and updated and, in addition, EMSA should be given a number of further roles reflecting the development of maritime safety policy at EU and international levels. The extraction of oil and gas and offshore production activities pose risks to maritime transport and the marine environment. For this reason, it is important that the Agency, within its capabilities, makes the necessary efforts to minimise similar risks.

 
  
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  Pat the Cope Gallagher (ALDE ), in writing. The European Maritime and Safety Agency is regarded as an effective organisation, which provides EU Member States with significant savings. The EMSA is playing an important role in terms of reducing the risk of maritime accidents, marine pollution from ships and the loss of human life at sea. I fully support the proposal to provide the EMSA with greater scope to assist neighbouring countries as search and rescue operations know no geographical or political boundaries. However, it is regrettable that the Commission has yet to undertake a study into the creation of a European coastguard despite the adoption of the directive on ship source pollution which mandates the Commission to do so. I also welcome the fact that both Norway and Iceland are active members of the European Maritime and Safety Agency in my capacity as the Chairman of the European Parliament delegation to the EEA and EFTA states.

 
  
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  Nathalie Griesbeck (ALDE ), in writing. (FR) In 1999, the Erika sank off the coast of Brittany, leading to a terrible environmental disaster. In the aftermath, the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) was created to tackle marine pollution. More than 10 years on, and while the TK Bremen running aground recently off the Brittany coast came to give us a brutal reminder that an environmental disaster is always possible, I voted in favour of this report, which aims to strengthen the Agency’s role by extending its tasks. In addition to the technical and scientific assistance it already provides, the Agency will, in particular, be able take action on pollution caused by offshore oil and gas exploration and production activities. Last year, we saw in the Gulf of Mexico that the damage caused by this kind of accident is considerable. By strengthening EMSA’s powers, the European Union is giving itself the means to protect itself against this kind of disaster.

 
  
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  Juozas Imbrasas (EFD ), in writing. (LT) Offshore oil and gas exploration and extraction pose a risk to maritime transport and the marine environment. An important role in this area is played by the European Maritime Safety Agency in ensuring a high, uniform and effective level of maritime safety and prevention of pollution by ships. I believe that this Agency should act in the interest of the European Union. This should include that the Agency may act outside the territory of the EU in its fields of competence, promoting the European Union’s maritime safety policy by means of scientific and technical cooperation with third countries. The Agency’s wider tasks should be described clearly and precisely so that there is no duplication and any confusion is avoided. I am convinced that it is necessary to ensure a high, uniform and efficient level of maritime safety and security, using existing capabilities for assistance, preventing and tackling marine pollution, including from offshore oil and gas installations, and developing a European maritime space without barriers. I therefore voted in favour of this document.

 
  
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  Philippe Juvin (PPE ), in writing. (FR) I voted in favour of this report on the revision of the Regulation establishing a European Maritime Safety Agency, which aims to strengthen the Agency’s mandate by refocusing it on its two main tasks (maritime safety and security) while considering the means at its disposal to exercise its powers.

 
  
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  Petru Constantin Luhan (PPE ), in writing . – (RO) EMSA was set up in 2003 as a result of the pollution caused by the loss of the oil tanker Erika . Its role is to ensure a high, uniform and effective level of maritime safety and prevent pollution caused by ships in the EU. The regulation proposed by the Commission refers to the fact that the Agency’s expertise in this area should be put to the best use, and its role in assisting and supporting the relevant bodies or entities (Commission and Member States) in respect of preventing pollution from oil installations should be strengthened.

We must expand EMSA’s activities so that its existing experience and technical services can be applied to a wider range of policies. The previous amendments which were applied to the Agency’s status are not adequate for tackling the new challenges that EMSA is going to face, as a large part of them are external challenges facing either just EMSA or EMSA and the EU in its entirety.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D ), in writing . – I voted for this report, which points out that an EU oil spill detection and monitoring system reduces costs by around 20% compared to national systems.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE ), in writing. (PT) The loss of the Erika (1999) and the Prestige (2002) led the European Union to take several legislative measures to increase maritime security. That is the context of the creation of the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA), whose objective is to help the Commission and the Member States with maritime safety, with protecting maritime transport and with preventing pollution caused by ships.

I voted for the text tabled to amend the EMSA Regulation. The amendments in question will enable higher efficiency savings and lower costs, and are an important step towards an ambitious European maritime policy. These amendments develop rapid-response tools to prevent damage caused by maritime disasters, which can have very environmentally and economically serious consequences.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE ), in writing. (PT) The European Maritime Safety Agency is generally recognised to be an effective, well-run organisation offering Member States significant savings by operating at European level with the economies of scale this generates. I voted for this report for these reasons.

 
  
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  Rovana Plumb (S&D ), in writing . – (RO) The proposed regulation amending Regulation (EC) No 1406/2002 establishing a European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) provides an opportunity for strengthening the existing functions of EMSA so as to encourage the achievement of the environmental protection objectives and boost the accident response capacity in EU waters. The Agency’s tasks relate to both accidental and illegal spills. They initially focused on pollution caused by oil and gas. However, since 2007 the Agency has also been actively involved with maritime pollution caused by hazardous and harmful substances (such as chemicals).

The Agency should carry out inspections in third countries in the Mediterranean, Black Sea and Baltic Sea regions in whose waters oil and gas exploration and production activities are taking place, and assist those third countries in strengthening their capacity to improve the safety of their offshore operations. Cooperation with third countries in carrying out tasks should be strengthened in order to enable swifter action. Setting up the oil and gas spill detection and monitoring system at EU level also costs the European taxpayer less (decrease of around 20%) and is more effective than doing it at national level.

 
  
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  Crescenzio Rivellini (PPE ), in writing. (IT) In today’s plenary session we voted on the report on the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA). EMSA was set up in response to the pollution called by the loss of the oil tanker ‘Erika’. It started operating in March 2003. The founding Regulation has been modified three times. This latest revision by the Commission should aim at long-lasting changes, even if it takes more time to negotiate.

The report maintains that increasing the workload of EMSA must realistically be reflected in budgetary and staff terms in order to be able to deal with the new tasks proposed by the Commission, which are to contribute to traffic monitoring systems in order to achieve the creation of a European maritime space without barriers; to assist the Commission and Member States in the prevention of pollution from oil spills and provide for an enhanced role for the existing system CleanSeaNet; and to assist neighbouring countries in reducing pollution risks.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE ), in writing. – In favour. The Commission’s proposal is based on a 2008 consultation with EMSA’s stakeholders, an external evaluation and a Commission impact assessment. It also reflects EMSA’s five-year strategy, adopted by its Administrative Board (where all Member States are represented). The Commission has also published a report (COM(2011)286) showing that an EU oil spill detection and monitoring system reduces costs by around 20% compared to national systems. EMSA has already been given new tasks as a result of the implementation of the third maritime safety package. It has concluded a number of ‘stand-by oil spill response vessel contracts’ with private operators who will switch from their regular activity into pollution response mode in case of emergency. The Commission proposal would make clear that such vessels could also be used to combat pollution from other sources, including oil rigs. Norway and Iceland are the only third countries who participate in EMSA. The Commission recommends extending the possibility of technical assistance to accession countries, European neighbourhood partners and countries taking part in the Paris Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).

 
  
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  Licia Ronzulli (PPE ), in writing. (IT) The European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) was set up in response to the pollution caused by the loss of the oil tanker ‘Erika’ and started operating in March 2003. The founding regulation has been modified three times. This latest revision should aim at long-lasting changes, even if it takes more time to negotiate. Parliament’s resolution of 7 October 2010 said EMSA’s mandate ‘should be extended from vessels to offshore installations’ and calls ‘for the conferral of any such new tasks to be reflected in the EMSA’s budget and staff numbers’. Additional tasks for EMSA need to be realistically reflected in its budget and staff. Otherwise there would be a threat to its core function of promoting maritime safety.

 
  
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  Vilja Savisaar-Toomast (ALDE ), in writing. (ET) In today’s vote, I supported the report that broadens the authority of the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA). During the eight years, it has operated, EMSA has done effective work in the area of both maritime safety and maritime pollution. It is an efficient and well-managed organisation. As mentioned above, the EMSA mandate will be broadened, offering an opportunity to shape the common maritime area and common market, using both a so-called blue zone pilot project and also satellite monitoring systems. The EMSA will also be assigned an important role in the training and raising of the qualifications of European Union seamen, and also in making the seaman’s profession more attractive. The third important additional role is the monitoring of gas and petroleum installations. I consider the EMSA’s coordinative role, which makes it possible to utilise member states’ maritime safety resources and skills more rationally, to be vital.

 
  
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  Sergio Paolo Francesco Silvestris (PPE ), in writing. (IT) This proposal amending Regulation (EC) No 1406/2002 establishing a European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) has my wholehearted support. We need greater cooperation between the Agency, Member States and the Commission, so that EMSA can provide us with technical, operational and scientific assistance in the field of action against pollution caused by ships and our response to marine pollution caused by oil from oil and gas installations, and in order to support Member States’ marine pollution response action mechanisms. Concerning EMSA’s competence with regard to satellite technology — GMES — I would like to underline that, given the considerable national resources invested and the satellite systems currently in orbit, governance of the European satellite systems is a sensitive issue. Therefore I do not believe that it is appropriate to extend the Agency’s competence to include the governance of space resources. In view of the significance in terms of international politics and the security of maritime governance (especially the southern maritime border of the EU), I think that the role of Member States with regard to EMSA’s governance should be safeguarded.

 
  
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  Nuno Teixeira (PPE ), in writing. (PT) The purpose of amending the regulation establishing the European Maritime Safety Agency is to expand the competences of this agency, which has proved its technical ability. As such, this recasting steps up prevention of, assistance from and struggle against marine pollution, specifically from oil and gas platforms. In order for this performance to continue, this adjustment should be accompanied, wherever necessary, by a redeployment of staff and funds.

This report is of the greatest importance at a time when the EU is investing in its maritime aspect, so as to tackle the economic crisis we are experiencing by strengthening what is known as the ‘blue economy’. The interminable riches of the ocean are global. A disaster in the north Atlantic will have harmful effects throughout the Atlantic. A response is therefore needed, as is cooperation with third countries. Cooperation between European agencies and European institutions is very important, since the former have technical skills essential to developing sectoral European policy.

 
  
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  Silvia-Adriana Ţicău (S&D ), in writing . – (RO) I voted for the resolution on the proposal amending Regulation (EC) No 1406/2002 establishing a European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) as the purpose of extending EMSA’s powers is to ensure a high, uniform and effective level of maritime safety and prevent pollution by ships.

Although EMSA must focus on its priority tasks in the area of maritime safety, the Agency should also receive a number of additional tasks reflecting the development of the maritime safety policy at EU and international level. The Agency has already demonstrated that certain tasks, such as satellite monitoring systems, can be carried out more efficiently at European level. Where these systems can be deployed to support other policy objectives, this offers Member States savings on their national budgets and represents genuine European added value. EMSA must act in the interest of the EU and follow Commission guidelines, promoting the EU’s maritime safety policy by means of scientific and technical cooperation with third countries.

Within one year of the date of the new regulation’s entry into force, the Commission will submit a study on a national coastguard coordination system, clarifying the costs and benefits of it.

 
  
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  Marie-Christine Vergiat (GUE/NGL ), in writing.(FR) I abstained on the amendment of this regulation. In 2006, this regulation established the European Maritime Safety Agency, the main objective of which was to prevent maritime disasters. Among the amendments, I supported those which reaffirm this objective by citing historical examples such as that of the Erika . It is more essential than ever for the Member States to work together to fight against those who pollute our seas and to limit as much as possible the consequences of disasters that occur. However, this objective could be undermined if this agency’s mandate is extended, thereby weakening its efforts to preserve the seas and coastlines, among many other objectives.

 
  
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  Oldřich Vlasák (ECR ), in writing. - (CS) I voted against draft Regulation (EC) No 1406/2002, setting up the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA). There are several reasons for this. First, the Regulation has now been modified three times, the last amendment going through in 2006. In my opinion, however, we should amend the legislation as little as possible. Secondly, the aim of the proposed amendments to the Regulation is to expand the tasks of EMSA. I, however, consider the proposed set of tasks for the Agency to be too wide, and it seems to me that the proposed Regulation lacks a clear specification of competences. Thirdly, I have concerns over setting the budget. I firmly believe, that is, that the additional tasks of EMSA should be addressed by redeploying the existing staff of the Agency, and not by taking on new staff.

 
  
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  Dominique Vlasto (PPE ), in writing. (FR) I endorsed this text, which forms a satisfactory basis for second reading. I regret that several of my colleagues have distorted the fundamental tasks of the European Maritime Safety Agency, by extending them to irrelevant areas. We need to be realistic and only ask the Agency to do what it is able, particularly at a time of budgetary cuts. It should remain the rightful organisation for guaranteeing security and safety in EU maritime areas. In my view, the Agency should be responsible for preventing any cause of pollution and have adequate means to do so, and to tackle its disastrous effects for the environment and human health, offshore and onshore. Originally created to prevent disasters like the loss of the Erika being repeated, the Agency is fundamental to the protection of our seas. I shall remain vigilant to ensure that its action is both useful and effective and that it can take action in coordination with the Member States. The seas are fragile ecosystems, overexploited spaces, where dangerous or illegal activities take place. It is up to us to protect them, by giving ourselves the means to preserve them. That is the scope of this Regulation and that is my ambition.

 
  
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  Angelika Werthmann (NI ), in writing . (DE) The European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA), which has been in existence since 2003, is in need of reorganisation, as well as a broadening of its remit. Of particular importance are effective measures and sanctions to combat ship-source pollution. It must also be a function of EMSA to make maritime employment more attractive and to advise the Member States in that connection. I have voted in favour.

 
  
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  Iva Zanicchi (PPE ), in writing. (IT) I voted in favour of the text presented by Mr Fleckenstein that amends the founding regulation of the European Maritime Security Agency (EMSA). By clarifying the Agency’s tasks in greater detail than in the past, the amendments introduced aim to improve efficiency and reduce costs. The EMSA’s various tasks will therefore include assistance in the prevention of pollution from offshore oil and gas mining installations, in combating piracy and traffic at sea, and in expanding traffic monitoring systems in order to achieve a European maritime space without barriers.

 
  
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  Artur Zasada (PPE ), in writing . (PL) In today's vote, I supported the document on the European Maritime Safety Agency. The EMSA has repeatedly proved that it represents an important link in the European security system. In view of the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, I agree with the proposal to extend the EMSA’s powers to include the supervision of platforms extracting gas and crude oil. I also agree with the new priorities regarding which we have reached an interinstitutional compromise: the implementation of the concept of a European maritime space without barriers, the promotion of maritime professions and improvements to the safety of offshore installations. At the same time, in the context of today’s debate I would like to remind the Commission of an idea that I brought up some time ago. I propose the establishment of a joint European Centre for Maritime Education. The purpose of such a centre would be to coordinate changes to the educational programmes of tertiary maritime institutions in the European Union and to adjust them to the changing needs of maritime transport in the Community.

 
  
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  Janusz Władysław Zemke (S&D ) in writing . (PL) I voted for the regulation extending the scope of the activities of the Maritime Safety Agency. During the eight years it has been active, the Agency has proved itself to be ever more efficient. However, I would like to draw attention to the fact that extending the scope of the Agency’s work must also involve additional financial resources. In the period 2007-2013, EUR 154 million were allocated to the Agency. Its financial future is currently entirely unclear. I am afraid, therefore, that extending the scope of the Agency’s activities, which is the right thing to do, will fall foul of a lack of additional funds.

 
  
  

Situation in Syria: (B7-0721/2011 )

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D ), in writing. (PT) I am voting for this report, since there is an urgent need for independent investigation of violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms by the Syrian Government. For this to happen, the country needs to allow in members of international organisations. In this area, the EU should play a leading role in a series of actions intended to put this country on a path to democracy and respect for human rights. Syria should be called on to immediately open its borders to the Syrian refugees that have been persecuted and intimidated by their government.

 
  
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  Adam Bielan (ECR ), in writing . (PL) According to the UN's latest estimates, President Assad’s bloody and unceasing crackdown on the people has already cost the lives of more than four thousand victims, mostly civilians. The European Parliament is debating the problem of Syria once again, as it has repeatedly in recent months, which is a clear indication of the need to intensify activities in order to stabilise the situation in the country. While supporting the resolution, I wish to express my regret at the Russian and Chinese veto of the Security Council’s resolution condemning the Syrian regime. At the same time, I demand the immediate cessation of violence against the citizens of Syria. The position of the Arab League, on the other hand, which is striving for a peaceful settlement of the conflict, is encouraging. I would also like to give particular recognition to Turkey, for granting asylum to a huge number of refugees. At the same time, I appeal for diplomatic action against Iran, which still actively supports the Syrian regime and its brutal repressions. Putting an end to the bloodshed must be the overriding aim of our policy towards Syria.

 
  
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  Sebastian Valentin Bodu (PPE ), in writing. (RO) The Syrian regime must be strongly condemned by a democratic region like the EU where human rights are a fundamental value. There is clear evidence of the brutal measures of repression being deployed by the Syrian regime against its own people, including children and women, with the latter actually making a sizeable contribution to the fight for democracy in Syria. The Syrian authorities must cease immediately the violent repression against peaceful demonstrators and the harassment of their families, and release all the protesters, political prisoners and journalists being held in detention.

The regime in Damascus must allow access without delay to international humanitarian, human rights and international mass media organisations. This is the only way for Syria’s leaders to demonstrate goodwill and their commitment to democratic values. This step must be taken while, at the same time, carrying out transparent independent inquiries investigating systematic, serious and large-scale violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms, perpetrated by the Syrian authorities and military security forces. All those responsible for this must be brought to account without delay in an international forum. The Syrian people have legitimate demands and national political dialogue must be promoted, involving all the democratic forces and civil society in Syria.

 
  
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  Corina Creţu (S&D ), in writing. (RO) Unfortunately, the ‘Arab Autumn’ has not provided us with the same grounds for hope as the Arab Spring. The hard stance adopted by the Syrian Government has made the government’s opponents adopt just as hard a stance, where a military solution seems to be the only way to resolve the crisis. I do not believe that it is in the EU’s interest to advocate in Syria a similar solution to that applied in Libya. I do not believe that diplomacy has exhausted all the solutions for Syria. Violence is never the solution in such situations, but only complicates matters, not to mention the suffering of the innocent.

One important aspect is getting all the members of the international community to abide by the sanctions. One possibility is that dialogue with the Russian Federation, China and other traditional allies of Syria, who do not look kindly on sanctions, could bring about a change of attitude. What is certain is that it is our duty to do everything that depends on us to halt the repression on the streets of Syria’s towns, and to make the democratisation process become a reality.

 
  
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  Proinsias De Rossa (S&D ), in writing. Bashar al-Assad must immediately resign as President of Syria. His dictatorial regime is facing increasing international isolation because of its continuing brutal repression of the Syrian people. The UN Security Council should refer the crimes against humanity committed by the al-Assad regime against the Syrian people to the International Criminal Court. I welcome the sanctions imposed by the EU on the Syrian regime on 14 November and 1 December and would encourage the EU and the UN to introduce further measures that target the Syrian regime but that minimise the negative impact on the Syrian people. I applaud the courage and determination of the Syrian people, particularly its women, in their struggle for freedom, dignity and democracy. The Syrian opposition should seek to establish a united platform committed to achieving freedom and democracy and respect for human rights for all in Syria. It should continue to engage with the international community. The EU must be ready to develop a new partnership with Syria once al-Assad goes and a transition to democracy begins.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE ), in writing. (PT) The regime of Bashar al-Assad’s Ba’ath Party is virtually isolated on the international stage, is showing the first signs of disintegration, and has already been condemned by, inter alia , the United Nations, the Arab League, the European Union and the United States.

The day on which we have awarded the Sakharov Prize 2011 to five leading players in the Arab Spring, two of whom are Syrian, is a time to remember the people who have been victims of the regime’s police and military forces – the UN is already talking about 5 000 deaths – and to hope the international community will be able to keep up the pressure on it, so as to contribute to real change in Syria. I am bound to regret that, despite the recent promises made by Mr Assad regarding a new constitution, free elections, and freedom of the individual and of association, the reality shows that these have not, to date, gone beyond empty declarations.

It falls to the European Union to support the efforts of the moderates taking centre stage in the desire for change in Syria, and to work towards making possible the realisation of the Arab Spring that this Chamber is celebrating today.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE ), in writing. (PT) The social and political upheavals for the establishment of democratic regimes that have taken place in some countries of the southern Mediterranean, known as the ‘Arab Spring’, have reached Syria too. However, President Bashar al-Assad and his regime, despite all the condemnations made by the EU and various international institutions, in particular the Arab League, insist on ‘riding out’ a totalitarian regime that does not respect a bare minimum of human rights. Indeed, there are reports of persecution of doctors simply for having treated victims of the regime, and of blocking access to detainees and the entry of humanitarian aid to a population whose situation is worsening because of the cuts in the electricity and water supplies. The brutal repression of thousands of civilians is unleashing an arms race. Civil war and the massacre of the population are feared. There is therefore an urgent need for the Syrian regime to stop the violence and accept the constitution of a single platform, with the participation of the regime’s opponents, so as to prepare the transition to democracy.

As such, I voted for this joint motion for a resolution. I would also express my solidarity with the Syrian people and my support for all measures decided on in the UN.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL ), in writing. (PT) This resolution is part of a repeat of the process that led to NATO intervention in Libya. The pressures and manipulations included in this report demonstrate that.

By openly supporting interference and the violation of international law, the majority in Parliament is seeking to shape reality in line with the ambitions of NATO and its major powers. By stating that ‘the Syrian Government has failed to meet its responsibility to protect its population’, they are seeking to create the conditions for imposing ‘humanitarian corridors’; this is a term well known from other incidences of military aggression – the Balkans and Libya – and means military intervention. It is no accident that they are hiding the demonstrations in Syria, defending the Syrian people’s sovereignty and the country’s territorial integrity, and rejecting any foreign intervention. A military escalation in Syria brings the danger of destabilising the whole region.

The situation is complex, so the road has more obstacles to realising the ambitions of imperialism. Russia and China do not seem disposed to adopt another resolution in the UN Security Council paving the way for military intervention, as they did with Libya. Obviously, we voted against this resolution.

 
  
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  Ilda Figueiredo (GUE/NGL ), in writing. (PT) What we have here is a repeat of the manipulation and pressure that led to NATO intervention in Libya. By openly supporting interference and the violation of international law, the majority in Parliament is seeking to reshape reality in line with the ambitions of NATO and regional countries that intend to intervene militarily in Syria, specifically Turkey.

By stating that ‘the Syrian Government has failed to meet its responsibility to protect its population’, they are seeking to create the conditions for imposing ‘humanitarian corridors’ at the Syrian-Turkish borders, which could only be done by means of military intervention. They explicitly support the Free Syrian Army and recourse to internal confrontation, so as to unleash a civil war. Moreover, they hide the fact that the common thread running through almost all the demonstrations that have taken place in Syria has been defending the Syrian people’s sovereignty and the country’s territorial integrity, and rejecting any foreign intervention, regardless of what changes it intends.

A military escalation in Syria brings the danger of destabilising the whole region. The situation is complex and the road is full of obstacles to the ambitions of imperialism. Russia and China do not seem disposed to repeat what they did with Libya in the UN Security Council.

 
  
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  Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D ), in writing. (SK) According to UN estimates, more than 4 000 people, including more than 300 children, have been killed, many more have been injured, more than 14 000 have allegedly been detained, and tens of thousands are seeking refuge in neighbouring countries or have been internally displaced since March 2011. This intolerable situation in Syria is due to the brutal repression of the people by the ruling regime, despite the fact that such conduct was unequivocally condemned at international level. Violent crackdowns and gross human rights violations by the Syrian authorities and military and security forces against civilians unfortunately continue and are intensifying. Reforms and amnesties declared and promised by President Bashar al-Assad have yet to materialise and the regime has lost all credibility as a result. An increasing number of Syrians are facing a deteriorating humanitarian situation that is leading to a humanitarian crisis, systematically increasing violence, and violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms. It is essential that the Syrian authorities and military and security forces immediately cease all acts of violence, torture, persecution and repression against the civilian population and immediately release all political prisoners held in arbitrary detention. Efforts must be made for a prompt, independent and transparent investigation to ensure that all those responsible for these crimes against humanity are arrested and answer for their actions.

 
  
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  Sylvie Guillaume (S&D ), in writing. (FR) I strongly support the European Parliament resolution on the situation in Syria since it is vital that the international community and the European Union continue to put strong and constant pressure on the Syrian regime to stop the violent and brutal repression of the population. The regime has already caused the unacceptable deaths of 5 000 men, women and children, including 15 killed on Monday 12 December, and it has done so with total impunity. We therefore urgently need to step up our joint efforts to demand the resignation of Bachar al-Assad and that investigations be set up into potential crimes against humanity.

 
  
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  Takis Hatzigeorgiou (GUE/NGL ), in writing. (EL) The Syrian authorities must immediately stop using violence, so as to put an end to the vicious circle of bloodshed that only serves outside interests. An urgent response is also needed to the fair demands of the Syrian people, who are calling for reforms to improve their quality of life. However, we must not forget that the Syrian people alone have the right to resolve their internal political problems and to determine the future of their country, without foreign interference and intervention. We abstained in the vote on Syria, because we cannot consent to policymaking which paves the way for military intervention in a sovereign state that will have the same tragic consequences as we saw in Yugoslavia, Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya. We cannot endorse the cover-up of the interventionist policy being developed inside Syria by the US and neighbouring countries, led by Turkey. The international community is not helping by imposing sanctions that will inevitably be paid for by the Syrian people. Most importantly, an internal dialogue needs to be started in Syria, in the aim of finding a peaceful, political solution to the current dangerous situation threatening the country and its people. The EU should support the institution of an internal dialogue in Syria.

 
  
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  Eija-Riitta Korhola (PPE ), in writing. (FI) I welcome the fact that the European Parliament is once again adopting a tough position on the situation in Syria, and that is why I voted in favour of this resolution.

The series of events known as the Arab Spring has shown that people in the Arab countries do not in fact support a situation in which the leaders have no democratic mandate. The way of thinking in the West during the Cold War, where dictators were tolerated, if not even favoured, if it only suited the political aims of one’s own camp, was so deeply rooted, that the speed of events came as a surprise to Western countries used to realpolitik. If Muammar Gaddafi had succeeded in quashing the revolution in Libya when it began, it would inevitably have been followed by large-scale and thorough acts of revenge against the civilian population. There is a real danger that something similar will happen in Syria, if foreign pressure eases off and those currently in power re-establish their position.

Unfortunately, from the historical point of view, economic sanctions alone have only worked in a handful of cases in modern times, and, on the whole, have mainly targeted that section of the population whose interests one is trying to promote. We therefore have to prepare for the possibility that military intervention is unavoidable. After all, Turkey has already unilaterally established a security zone close to its border, which the international community has, at least implicitly, approved.

United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973, which freed the people of Libya, was epoch-making. With it, Europe adopted a long-term, real initiative in global policy. If no peaceful solution is found for the crisis in Syria, we will have to prepare for a situation in which there will once again be a need for a similar initiative.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D ), in writing. I voted for this resolution, which calls on the Syrian regime to lift the siege of Homs and allow in international aid and relief efforts and to withdraw all Syrian forces from the towns and cities of Syria

 
  
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  Jean-Luc Mélenchon (GUE/NGL ), in writing. (FR) The resolution condemns the repression conducted by the Syrian regime. It advocates a peaceful transition and calls on opposition forces to avoid militarisation of the conflict. It condemns the active collaboration of European businesses with the Syrian regime. I support it for these reasons.

However, the text calls for humanitarian corridors to be created by the Security Council. That necessarily involves military deployment in Syria. The text also proposes that the European Union, the Arab League, Turkey and the opposition negotiate the conditions for this. Such negotiations should take place within the United Nations. The presence of the Arab League, which approved of the repression in Bahrain, is inappropriate.

Binding clauses preventing the risk of military escalation should be guaranteed. Using the resolution on Libya to get NATO to intervene should serve as a lesson. The text lays down nothing of the sort. I am voting against, out of distrust.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE ), in writing. (PT) Given that the violent crackdowns and serious human rights violations by the Syrian authorities and military and security forces against non-violent civilians continue to intensify, and that cities and towns are being kept under siege by government-led forces, without access to food, medical supplies or communications, I reiterate condemnation of the Syrian regime’s brutal crackdown and call for every effort to be made to make the country’s transition to democracy viable. The regime is losing all credibility, and the situation has been a threat to the security and stability of the entire Middle Eastern region.

 
  
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  Andreas Mölzer (NI ), in writing. (DE) The measures taken by the EU to date, such as the weapons embargo, the freezing of accounts and the bans on investment and on the import of oil, are certainly hitting the Syrian economy. It is important that not only the West, but also the Arab League and the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf, should call on President Assad to implement serious reforms and to end the bloodshed. When one considers developments such as the recent general strikes, it would also seem that resistance is growing among the population. Even though the opposition is now touring the major powers in an effort to drum up support, it must be clear that there can be no question of military intervention on the part of the European Union. For this reason I have voted in favour of the resolution.

 
  
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  Radvilė Morkūnaitė-Mikulėnienė (PPE ), in writing . (LT) So far, 5 000 have fallen victim to the regime and more and more people are dying in Syria every day, including hundreds of children. Against this background, the search for solutions by the Arab League and other international players is to be welcomed, but it is deplorable that it has so far not been possible for the UN Security Council to reach agreement because of the veto of some countries. Is the fact that these countries’ governments fail to distance themselves from the Assad regime, which has now lost legitimacy, an indication that they justify the brutal crackdown on peaceful protestors and would take similar action against their own citizens? This is a worrying signal to the citizens of the countries concerned. If the situation continues to evolve in the same direction, Syria could trigger a general armed conflict and humanitarian disaster. The international community must take action to avoid that.

 
  
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  Alfredo Pallone (PPE ), in writing. (IT) Unfortunately the situation in Syria is not a simple one. Debates on the issue have become increasingly heated due to the constant critical developments. Since last spring there has been a period of tough conflict and demonstrations throughout Syria, in an attempt to achieve something of which we are all exporters and custodians — democracy. In these areas of the world, the word democracy — people power — seems a utopia, something so distant and unattainable and seen as a threat. Those in power cannot conceive that there could be cooperation, equality and peaceful dialogue between the parties in order to build a better country, and for the sake of holding onto their power and their prestige they are prepared to risk destroying their people. The current situation is still dramatic, and there needs to be more respect and an immediate solution needs to be found.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE ), in writing. (PT) I voted for this resolution because I agree with the call for a peaceful and genuine transition to democracy that meets the legitimate demands of the Syrian people and is based on an inclusive process of political dialogue at national level, with the involvement of all the country’s democratic political forces and civil-society organisations.

 
  
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  Crescenzio Rivellini (PPE ), in writing. (IT) Today we voted on a compromise resolution between various political groups strongly condemning the Syrian Government’s repression of civilians. Personally I am following the unfolding of events in Syria with trepidation, in particular because I believe it is important to think carefully about the possible ways for resolving the crisis before considering potential solutions which could have long-term consequences that might be even more destabilising.

If, on the one hand, it is absolutely crucial and necessary to guarantee respect for freedom of expression, and above all the safety of citizens, it is however equally important to consider the viewpoint of the international community, and especially to ensure that if a change in government is possible, it does not involve people who would upset the already fragile political balance in the region.

 
  
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  Robert Rochefort (ALDE ), in writing. (FR) The situation in Syria is deeply worrying. Despite widespread international condemnation, the Syrian authorities continue their brutal repression against their population, and continue to commit grave human rights violations against non-violent civilians. The toll of this repression is tragic: according to United Nations estimates, since March 2011, more than 5 000 people, including over 300 children, have been killed, and many more have been injured, more than 14 000 people are reported to have been detained and tens of thousands of others have sought refuge in neighbouring countries or have been internally displaced in Syria. By voting for this resolution, I wanted to once again condemn, in the strongest terms, the Syrian regime’s brutal repression against its population, and to reaffirm my solidarity with the Syrian people in their non-violent struggle for freedom, dignity and democracy. We again call for President Bachar al-Assad and his regime to relinquish power immediately so that a political transition can take place in Syria.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE ), in writing. In favour. According to UN estimates, since the start of the violent crackdown on peaceful protesters in Syria in March 2011, more than 4 000 people have lost their lives, including 307 children, and thousands more have been injured, arrested or tortured or have disappeared as a result of the brutal repression by the Syrian regime against its population. The UNHRC resolution of 2 December highlights in particular the extensive violations of children’s rights and the sexual violence against civilians, including against male detainees and children, committed by the Syrian armed and security forces. The EP had to react.

 
  
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  Tokia Saïfi (PPE ), in writing. (FR) Yet another resolution on Syria. The brutal repression currently being conducted by the Syrian regime against its people is scandalous and has to stop. Bachar al-Assad no longer has any legitimacy, he must relinquish power immediately and put an end to the repression against Syrian men and women, who simply aspire to more freedoms. Every day that passes brings us closer to a major humanitarian crisis. Today already almost 7% of the population are affected, particularly women, children and the elderly. Recently, a tenth set of sanctions was adopted by the European Union, but we must continue to put pressure on the Syrian regime. Sanctions must be targeted, minimising the adverse repercussions for the population. I call for the immediate release of the protesters, political prisoners, human rights defenders and journalists who are currently being detained.

 
  
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  Sergio Paolo Francesco Silvestris (PPE ), in writing. (IT) In the light of the constant deterioration in the situation in Syria, the EU is continuing its efforts to increase pressure on the Syrian regime. Since last August, the EU has maintained that President Assad has lost all legitimacy and must stand down. Last November the list of entities subject to restrictive methods was extended, and at the same time the European Investment Bank suspended its loans to Syria. Sanctions were applied in the oil sector and on investments in September, and tightened on 1 December. Measures regarding equipment for telephone and Internet tapping were also added. Recently there have also been suggestions that there will be a proposal for creating a humanitarian corridor in Syria. To sum up, in the light of the above, I believe that the best solution could be to strengthen the connection between the EU and Turkey with regard to the possible outcome of the Syrian crisis, bearing in mind the crucial role played by Ankara.

 
  
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  Charles Tannock (ECR ), in writing. I voted, along with my group, the ECR, in favour of the joint text on Syria. In recent weeks and months, the situation in Syria has been extremely unsettled, with widespread protest against the Al-Assad regime since March of this year. The method used by the government to control the situation has been violent repression, and many protesters have lost their lives exercising their fundamental human right to freedom of expression, with the UN estimating that 4 000 people, mostly civilians, have lost their lives so far. We voted in favour of the proposed text as we feel that it highlights well both the plight of the Syrian people and the crimes committed by its government. It takes a strong line, as required, that urges the government not only to put a stop to the violent repression of its population and to launch independent investigations into the actions of its security forces, but also to instigate a system of democratic reform in order to widen political participation and to lift its censorship of newspapers and the Internet.

 
  
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  Nuno Teixeira (PPE ), in writing. (PT) Since March 2011, the disturbances in Syria, undertaken by the authorities led by the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, have led to numerous attacks on the Syrian people, including executions, unjustified imprisonments, and innumerable deaths and casualties. The sieges of countless towns have left the people without access to food, health care or communications. Despite the sanctions imposed by the EU and the international community’s demands for an end to the massacres, the Syrian authorities are ignoring these repeated calls. The refusal of China and Russia to apply sanctions as permanent members of the United Nations Security Council shows that the multilateralism of this international organisation is blocking measures crucial to global stability. However, I welcome the efforts of the Arab League to thwart the actions of the Syrian national authorities. These continued human rights violations must be stopped. The EU must speak with a single voice and encourage its international partners to cooperate, in order to bring an end to the atrocities being committed by the Syrian authorities.

 
  
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  Kyriacos Triantaphyllides (GUE/NGL ), in writing. (EL) The Syrian authorities must immediately stop using violence, so as to put an end to the vicious circle of bloodshed that only serves outside interests. An urgent response is also needed to the fair demands of the Syrian people, who are calling for reforms to improve their quality of life. However, we must not forget that the Syrian people alone have the right to resolve their internal political problems and to determine the future of their country, without foreign interference and intervention. We abstained in the vote on Syria, because we cannot consent to policymaking which paves the way for military intervention in a sovereign state that will have the same tragic consequences as we saw in Yugoslavia, Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya. We cannot endorse the cover-up of the interventionist policy being developed inside Syria by the US and neighbouring countries, led by Turkey. The international community is not helping by imposing sanctions that will inevitably be paid for by the Syrian people. Most importantly, an internal dialogue needs to be started in Syria, in the aim of finding a peaceful, political solution to the current dangerous situation threatening the country and its people. The EU should support the institution of an internal dialogue in Syria.

 
  
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  Marie-Christine Vergiat (GUE/NGL ), in writing. (FR) I abstained from voting on the European Parliament resolution on Syria. This resolution asserts its support of the Syrian people and strongly condemns Bachar al-Assad’s regime, but remains relatively vague with regard to measures that could be taken by the EU or the international community. In particular, the resolution calls for ‘the sending of international observers to deter attacks against civilians’ and ‘to find new ways of strengthening their non-military assistance to these opposition forces’. The vaguest paragraph concerns the UN Security Council and says that it has not been able to respond to the events in Syria (that is quite true but whose fault is it?) and that it now must assume its responsibility (let us suppose), but without specifying how. I therefore preferred to abstain from voting on this resolution. I welcome, however, the awarding of the Sakharov prize this week to Razan Zaitouneh (Syrian human rights lawyer) and to Ali Farzat (Syrian cartoonist), which is a powerful symbol of Parliament’s support of the Syrian people’s struggle.

 
  
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  Angelika Werthmann (NI ), in writing . (DE) According to United Nations estimates, over 5 000 people, including around 300 children, have lost their lives in Syria during the uprisings against the Assad regime. In its resolution, the European Parliament has renewed its call on the Syrian regime to relinquish power. Because President Assad continues to deny any joint culpability, preferring to shift the blame for violence onto bands of armed criminals, Parliament demands further sanctions. Parliament is directing its call for a peaceful transition to democratic order to the burgeoning opposition movement and warns that uncontrolled militarisation and the use of force are not appropriate ways to protect the civil population.

 
  
  

Draft scoreboard for the surveillance of macroeconomic imbalances: (B7-0690/2011 )

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D ), in writing. (PT) I am voting for this report because these times demand the immediate implementation of this scoreboard, which should prevent and correct excessive macroeconomic imbalances in the European Union, and particularly in the euro area. In addition, with the entry into force of Regulation (EU) No 1176/2011, the new mechanism also has aims that I consider to be very important, namely: sustained convergence of how the economies of the Member States perform and closer coordination of economic policies. However, I would stress my position that the EU as a whole has to have a plan for economic development, and intergovernmental cooperation alone will not be enough for us to overcome the current crisis.

 
  
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  Nikolaos Chountis (GUE/NGL ), in writing. (EL) The scoreboard of macroeconomic imbalances is a basic instrument for the application of the legislative package on economic governance. The Confederal Group of the European United Left – Nordic Green Left considers that this particular economic governance package is the wrong response to the crisis. Its objective is not economic coordination, as it maintains; it is to impose a permanent austerity memorandum throughout Europe, on all the workers. It is clear from the results of the scoreboard in question that convergence is being translated into an increase in competitiveness, by institutionalising austerity and making cutbacks to wages, pensions and rights. Indicators relating to income imbalances and the reduction in poverty are missing from the scoreboard and the unemployment indicator has very little weighting. The euro area is dealing with massive structural problems that are creating imbalances that are being shouldered mainly by the workers both in the countries in surplus and in the countries in deficit. As the economic governance package – and hence the scoreboard of macroeconomic imbalances – cannot provide fair and radical solutions in terms of getting the euro area out of the crisis and ensuring that it functions viably, I voted against this specific motion for a resolution.

 
  
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  George Sabin Cutaş (S&D ), in writing. (RO) I voted for the resolution on the scoreboard for the surveillance of macroeconomic imbalances as it emphasises the importance of coordinating Member States’ economic policies more closely. I also think that both current account deficits and surpluses need to be monitored as both contribute to the creation of macroeconomic imbalances.

 
  
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  Edite Estrela (S&D ), in writing. (PT) I voted in favour of the motions for resolutions, since I believe that, as part of the legislative package on economic governance, these can contribute towards the greater convergence and cooperation between the macroeconomic policies of the Member States. I believe these proposals are also positive because they address the need to undertake a more complete analysis of the economic reality of each Member State.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE ), in writing. (PT) The economic governance package includes the new mechanism for detecting and correcting possible macroeconomic imbalances in the European Union, particularly in the euro area. The economic governance package also includes a declaration by the Commission, in which it commits to controlling and monitoring countries with deficits and those with surpluses on an equal basis. Indeed, as Parliament argued when the package was adopted, it is important to monitor the situation of all the Member States on an equal basis, as they are so closely interlinked that potential deviations in certain Member States could originate with measures implemented in another Member State. Thus, in order to ensure the problems and the solutions to be implemented are correctly identified, a macroeconomic framework is essential for the whole Union. Finally, and owing to the extreme importance of this new mechanism, Parliament urges the Commission to further develop the scoreboard and to make some of the indicators more explicit, so as to ensure it is implemented in a transparent way.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE ), in writing. (PT) The current economic and financial crisis has forced the EU to examine national accounts in detail to trace the origin of the macroeconomic imbalances. On 16 November 2011, Regulation (EU) No 1176/2011 of the European Parliament and the Council on the prevention and correction of macroeconomic imbalances was adopted, as part of a series of regulations on economic governance. This motion for a resolution follows the question for oral answer, pursuant to Rule 115(5) of the Rules of Procedure, and is based on the Commission services working paper entitled ‘Scoreboard for the surveillance of macroeconomic imbalances: envisaged initial design’. In order to prevent certain Member States from experiencing further financial slippages which could lead to a new crisis, and in line with the proposals of the ‘six pack’, there will be ‘macroeconomic surveillance’, with a focus on countries with current account deficits and surpluses. I am therefore voting for this motion for a resolution, since I believe there should be greater rigour in the management of public money, so that the markets – particularly the financial markets – will regain the confidence that they have lost, and the EU will eventually be able to take up a position of leadership in terms of economic growth and job creation, thus working towards the goals outlined in the Europe 2020 strategy.

 
  
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  Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D ), in writing. (SK) The main objective of the newly established supervisory mechanism is the prevention and correction of macroeconomic imbalances in the European Union. According to Regulation (EU) No 1176/2011, other goals of the new mechanism include sustained convergence of the economic performance of the Member States and closer coordination of economic policies. In the current economic situation, it is essential for a framework for macroeconomic supervision to be created as soon as possible and for it to start functioning as soon as possible. Member State governments must be prepared to act with regard to any problems, since only in this way will it be possible to ensure that the supervisory framework has the desired effect. In connection with the creation of future macroeconomic tables (which may contain a wide range of indicators), these indicators must be based on independent and verifiable official statistics from the European Statistical System and the European System of Central Banks. I am of the opinion that the transparent implementation of this new policy instrument is of great importance, and for this reason it is necessary that the Commission ensures the delivery of all documents and working papers relating to the scoreboard to Parliament and the Council on an equal footing.

 
  
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  Ildikó Gáll-Pelcz (PPE ), in writing . – (HU) The selection of indicators in scoreboard- based assessments gives priority to areas that are most relevant as regards macroeconomic imbalances and the development of competitiveness, with special emphasis being placed on the smooth operation of the euro area. The declaration made by the Commission on the data sources and statistic transformations it wishes to use is to be welcomed, I believe this is the correct way to go, and I support it. Besides this, of course, it is also important for the Commission to take into account the most up-to-date data available and to ensure complete transparency with regard to what data is being used. It should also be emphasised that it is important for the new macroeconomic imbalance surveillance mechanism to be harmonised and integrated with the upcoming European semester. However, we should not forget either that the scoreboard plays an important role in relaying information, as the selection of indicators sends a clear attitude-forming message to political decision-makers and stakeholders about the types of macroeconomic developments that may give cause for concern and therefore need close supervision. To sum it up, it should be ensured that the economic analyses assess all information – obtained from the scoreboard or from other sources – jointly and comprehensively, and for this reason I am willing to support all motions that serve this objective.

 
  
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  Juozas Imbrasas (EFD ), in writing. (LT) I welcomed this document because the main objective of the newly established surveillance mechanism is the prevention and correction of excessive macroeconomic imbalances in the European Union and, in particular, in the euro area. Further objectives of the new mechanism include sustained convergence of economic performances of the Member States and closer coordination of economic policies. In light of the current economic situation, it is essential for the macroeconomic surveillance framework to be up and running as soon as possible.

 
  
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  Krišjānis Kariņš (PPE ), in writing. (LV) The Strasbourg plenary session of the European Parliament adopted a motion for a resolution on the scoreboard for the surveillance of macroeconomic imbalances. This proposal includes recommendations for the Commission working paper (SEC(2011)1361 ) on the scoreboard for the surveillance of macroeconomic imbalances in the Member States. The Commission working paper (SEC(2011)1361 ) is a logical continuation of the work under way in order to prevent and correct the macroeconomic imbalances in the European Union in the future, on which the European Parliament should also voice its recommendations. This motion for a resolution includes a call for all parties involved to act as soon as possible in order to establish the surveillance framework. It also emphasises the need to develop an action plan in the event of a domino effect and the need for independent and verifiable statistics. I supported this motion for a resolution because I believe that a surveillance framework is the foundation and guarantee of stability and a logical continuation of the package of six legislative proposals on economic governance, in the development of which I took part and which was adopted by the European Parliament in September this year.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D ), in writing. – I voted for this resolution, which takes note of the Commission’s intention to provide, by the end of 2012 and in time for the subsequent European Semester, a new set of indicators and related thresholds for the financial sector, and asks the Commission to make explicit the relationship between such financial sector indicators and the dashboard envisaged in the European Systemic Risk Board (ESRB) regulation.

 
  
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  Jean-Luc Mélenchon (GUE/NGL ), in writing. (FR) This report endorses the introduction of instruments for the Commission to control the budgetary policies of the Member States. The dashboards under discussion enable it to give out good and bad marks, and to launch semi-automatic sanctions envisaged by the ‘six pack’. The few proposed improvements to the indicators do not strictly change anything in terms of the limited sovereignty that economic governance brings about. Worse, the text calls for this to be implemented. I am voting against.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE ), in writing. (PT) The purpose of the surveillance mechanism that has recently been established is to prevent and correct excessive macroeconomic imbalances in the European Union, particularly in the euro area. In line with Regulation (EU) No 1176/2011, the new mechanism is also aimed at sustained convergence of how the Member States perform economically and closer coordination of economic policies.

In view of this and of the current economic situation, it is vital that the macroeconomic surveillance framework be up and running as soon as possible. I believe that the potential knock-on effects of Member State and Union policy should be identified and discussed at an early stage, for instance as part of the Annual Growth Survey, and in any case before as well as after the adoption of convergence/stability programmes.

 
  
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  Sławomir Witold Nitras (PPE ), in writing . – (PL) A few days ago, the ‘six-pack’ came into force. In order to ensure that this legislative package can function as effectively as possible, an appropriate set of macroeconomic indicators need to be identified, as well as associated alert levels which would trigger the application of preventive and corrective mechanisms. These mechanisms would guarantee the possibility of an early detection of external and internal imbalances in the economies of the Member States and enable the European Commission to respond appropriately. The European Parliament’s resolution is a response to the European Commission’s proposal for such indicators, and points to the areas where the Commission's proposal can be improved. Particular attention should be paid to the failure to take adequate account of spillover effects and the dynamics of the unemployment rate. It should also be noted that the European Parliament has not been consulted on this matter, so that the motion for a resolution drawn up by the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs is the only effective way for Parliament’s to be heard on this issue. I therefore voted in favour of adopting the motion for a resolution.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE ), in writing. (PT) I voted for this resolution on the draft scoreboard for the surveillance of macroeconomic imbalances. I agree with the statement that future macroeconomic scoreboards should include a wider range of indicators based on independent and verifiable official statistics produced by the European Statistical System and the European System of Central Banks.

 
  
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  Miguel Portas (GUE/NGL ), in writing. (PT) The scoreboard presented by the Commission is part of the economic governance package adopted by Parliament in September 2011 and confirmed at the last European Council. The regulation gave the Commission the power to present the scoreboard on macroeconomic imbalances in the Member States, which, in cases of deviation, incur an excessive imbalance procedure. This procedure is based on a punitive approach that is unacceptable. In this case, it is all the more unfair as it penalises trade deficits, but the same does not happen with surpluses, which can be just as harmful to the overall economic interests of the Union. Important issues such as poverty levels are also missing from the scoreboard. In fact, all this stems from the fact that the Commission has presented Parliament with a fait accompli , instead of seeking dialogue to achieve a more balanced framework of indicators. I voted against this resolution for these reasons.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE ), in writing. – In favour. The European Parliament recalls that the main objective of the newly established surveillance mechanism is the prevention and correction of excessive macroeconomic imbalances in the European Union and, in particular, in the eurozone; it recalls that, in accordance with Regulation (EU) No 1176/2011, further objectives of the new mechanism include sustained convergence of economic performances of the Member States and closer coordination of economic policies. The European Parliament also stresses that, in the light of the current economic situation, it is essential for the macroeconomic surveillance framework to be up and running as soon as possible.

 
  
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  Marc Tarabella (S&D ), in writing. (FR) The resolution on the draft scoreboard for the surveillance of macroeconomic imbalances, which was adopted by the majority of Parliament does not, in my view, take account of the most pertinent indicators for sustained convergence of economic performances of the Member States and closer coordination of economic policies.

Indicators on poverty and income inequalities would have been welcome, as would the unemployment indicator, which should be considered as an independent indicator, on an equal footing with the other indicators. Since all the amendments concerning these indicators were rejected by the conservative majority of Parliament, I decided to vote against this resolution.

 
  
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  Nuno Teixeira (PPE ), in writing. (PT) I would stress that this is a positive resolution, as it establishes that the new surveillance mechanism is responsible for preventing and correcting macroeconomic imbalances in the European Union, and the euro area in particular. As I have already mentioned with regard to the adoption of the reports on economic governance, I believe there should be greater coordination and economic convergence between the Member States, eliminating disparities in budgets and excessive deficits harmful to the EU. I also consider it vital that the Member States be prepared to face the real problems with their finances: public hearings should be held with a view to achieving a better institutional design for the new surveillance framework.

 
  
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  Silvia-Adriana Ţicău (S&D ), in writing . – (RO) With regard to the European Parliament resolution on the scoreboard for the surveillance of macroeconomic imbalances, I voted in favour of Amendments 5 and 6, in which we call on the Commission to table proposals for indicators on inequality of incomes and on reducing poverty, and which highlight that the unemployment indicator must be regarded as being independent, at the same level as the other indicators. I also voted for Amendment 1 which states that the thresholds advocated until now for current account imbalances (+6%, -4%) are inconsistent with the principle of symmetry and blatantly favour, on an ex-ante basis, Member States with current account surpluses.

I voted for Amendment 2 which emphasises that the approach adopted for unit labour costs hardly seems consistent with the provisions of Article 6 of the regulation on the prevention and correction of macroeconomic imbalances, which refers explicitly to full compliance with Article 152 of TFEU, as it sets, on an ex-ante basis, a level for nominal wage increases which would trigger the alert mechanism even in contexts where GDP and productivity growth rates would allow for an increase beyond the defined threshold.

 
  
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  Marie-Christine Vergiat (GUE/NGL ), in writing. (FR) I voted against the report on the scoreboard for the surveillance of macroeconomic imbalances. This text is a result of the governance package, which aims to place the budget of Member States under the authoritarian control of the European Union, applying a dogmatic approach far removed from any economic reality. It is yet one more text among several others. This scattergun approach tones down the true colours of European neoliberal politics and of our heads of government and thus imposes on us a seemingly natural austerity. The tool sought by this text is still unclear and a struggle lies ahead to construct it. We already know that the analysis variables of economies will not be neutral and that the social variable is always the adjustment variable. The surveillance scoreboard is a statistical tool that will have an impact on the policies of Member States and the social sphere, without being controlled by citizens.

 
  
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  Angelika Werthmann (NI ), in writing . (DE) The latest data shows signs of a divergence in the continued development of the national economies within the euro area. As part of the ‘economic governance’ package, a system has been agreed to monitor macroeconomic imbalances, including an early warning system. The latest statistics from Eurostat have led the European Parliament to demand that the work of the “scoreboard” should begin quickly. I have voted in favour.

 
  
  

Report: Mathieu Grosch (A7-0425/2011 )

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D ), in writing. (PT) I am voting for this report, as transport plays an important role in the cohesion of cities and regions. I would therefore stress the need to fully implement the principle of territorial cohesion established by the Treaty of Lisbon, so that the most remote and isolated regions are not treated as second-class regions.

In order for us to have a Single European Transport Area, it is important to ensure that those disadvantaged most by their remoteness are not forgotten, but are instead targeted by EU public policies that improve their connection with the rest of Europe and thus contribute to their European-level convergence. In this regard, I would highlight the need to pay particular attention to the outermost regions. The creation of a Single European Transport Area as a goal of the future European transport policy is thus intrinsically linked to regional, environmental, economic, social and employment policy. I have no doubt that this link means the transport sector can also make a significant contribution to the Europe 2020 strategy.

 
  
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  Sophie Auconie (PPE ), in writing. (FR) Vital for mobility, transport fully serves the completion of the internal market. The free movement of goods, people and workers depends on it. As a key factor in territorial cohesion and the competitiveness of the EU, transport requires special attention. I therefore voted in favour of the Grosch report, which endorses the creation of a Single European Transport Area. To achieve that, objectives to be reached by 2020 must be set. Similarly, European standards on safety, energy and the environment should be promoted. Lastly, the special attention paid to research and innovation and emphasised in the EU 2020 strategy also applies to the transport sector.

 
  
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  Liam Aylward (ALDE ), in writing. (GA) Since the European Common Transport Area employs 10 million people and creates 5% of the wealth of the Union, the coordination of an integrated strategy on the European Common Transport Area must in future be placed at the top of the agenda of the single market.

In Ireland, 38% of those who die on the country’s roads are under 25 years of age. Therefore I agree with the rapporteur that an integrated, focused approach should be developed in order to improve transport safety standards. I fully support the contents of the report in regard to further contemplating the working environment and the working and employment conditions of the people of the EU working in the transport sector.

I commend what it says concerning asking the Commission to analyse the level of infrastructure, the density of the transport network and the quality of transport services in Europe. Administration must be simplified to assist the free movement of people, services and goods in the EU.

 
  
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  Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D ), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this resolution on the Commission’s White Paper entitled “Roadmap to a Single European Transport Area – Towards a competitive and resource efficient transport system”. This White Paper, adopted by the European Commission in March 2011, sets out a detailed strategy for the development of a competitive transport system and key objectives to be achieved by 2050. I support Parliament’s opinion that the EU’s high degree of dependence on imported fossil fuels entails significant risks in terms of the Union’s economic security and in terms of the flexibility of its external policy options. I believe that it is necessary to ensure the successful development of the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T), effectively link the transport networks of all EU regions and eliminate disparities between the levels of infrastructure development in the EU Member States. I agree that Member States should commit themselves to eliminating the main known bottlenecks in every transport mode and to ensuring that, by 2025, the transport infrastructure of the new Member States reaches the level of the other Member States. The Commission should increase the stability of funding of TEN-T projects. EU cofunding should be based on the “use it or lose it” principle. We must take decisive action to clearly formulate, develop and implement the future goals of an effective and competitive EU transport policy. As the goals of the previous 2001 White Paper were implemented only partially or not at all, we must properly analyse and learn from previous mistakes.

 
  
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  Jean-Luc Bennahmias (ALDE ), in writing. (FR) The idea of a single and interconnected European area in which the various modes of transport are complementary is a good one. It is the approach that should be taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. However, a key point determined my final vote. At the vote on recasting the directives on the rail sector during the last plenary session, I was opposed to the idea of asking the European Commission to make proposals in 2012 to separate infrastructure management and transport operations as well as to open up the internal passenger rail transport market. This idea was restated in the Grosch report. I believe, however, that, despite the fact that it was adopted in November in the previous report, it is still a bad idea. I therefore voted against this own-initiative report, which also contained provisions aiming to promote the circulation of ‘gigaliners’ as they are called, the ecological benefit of which is debatable, to say the least!

 
  
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  Mara Bizzotto (EFD ), in writing. (IT) I voted against this report. Of course, I agree with many of the points it contains. I refer in particular to the paragraphs recommending liberalisation of the railways, which would especially benefit the Italian railway market. However, the report’s unquestioning support for the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) project is a problem. More and more critical issues are continuing to emerge with regard to this project, which involves the construction of trans-European rail, motorway and river networks. It is an immensely ambitious project, and there are concerns about its feasibility, from the point of view of both finance and planning, as the slow and uncertain progress thus far has shown. As Lega Nord has always maintained, our region does not need grandiose projects that are impossible to bring to fruition, but greater attention to its actual, immediate needs. At the moment the way the TEN-T project is being managed appears to be totally superficial and badly planned, and therefore I was unable to vote in its favour.

 
  
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  Vilija Blinkevičiūtė (S&D ), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this report because the transport sector is one of the main sectors in the EU and provides some ten million jobs and accounts for 5% of GDP. The transport sector is particularly important and has great potential to develop and deliver innovation in areas such as transport, logistics and mobility. EU transport can also play a role in other areas, such as innovation, research, the environment, sustainable economic growth and energy. This sector can also make a major contribution to achieving the goals of the EU’s “Europe 2020” economic growth strategy. Taking into account economic, employment, environmental, social and territorial aspects, the aim should be to complete the European internal transport market by further opening-up transport networks and markets. The European Commission should ensure that proposals on the opening-up of services in all transport markets do not lead to social dumping or poorer quality services, or create the conditions for the emergence of monopolies or oligopolies. In order to address properly the problems of transport and mobility, in particular those arising in urban areas, an integrated transport policy for the entire transport and logistics value chain is needed. Coordination of the work of policy-makers in the European institutions should be enhanced and there should also be permanent dialogue and consultation with representatives of the logistics industry, transport service providers and customers in a European logistics and mobility forum.

 
  
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  Lara Comi (PPE ), in writing.(IT) I voted in favour of this report because I believe that a Single European Transport Area is an important goal for the European Union and its citizens. I think the creation of such an area is essential in order to increase the economic efficiency of the sector and environmental protection, and guarantee better social and employment conditions for the citizens of our community. Transport is absolutely essential for people because it gives them the freedom to move around inside the EU. It is also a pillar for development of the EU and social cohesion between the various Member States, and helps to make the EU a strategic centre of research and innovation. The creation of a Single European Transport Area is therefore a link to regional, environmental, social, economic and employment policy. Therefore I hope that transport regulation may be harmonised in order to allow each country to make long-term transport investments, which will allow economic recovery, particularly in view of the economic and financial crisis that has hit us so hard.

 
  
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  Corina Creţu (S&D ), in writing. (RO) I welcome this report about a welcome measure which will provide greater consistency in projects involving infrastructure development at EU level, produce a more sensible allocation of resources and put an end to waste, and will encourage the use of relevant new technologies, also for reducing pollution. I note the emphasis that has been placed on continuing to develop railway transport in Member States. On this point, I should mention that the IMF and European Commission have granted loans to Romania on the condition that it gets rid of more than 1 500 kilometres of railway lines. This measure is, to say the least, unfortunate and is at odds with the strategies proposed by this road map. I voted to adopt the report because I strongly believe that the measures proposed will achieve better integration of the transport networks in Member States and help develop them in the countries which have recently been admitted.

 
  
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  Marielle De Sarnez (ALDE ), in writing. (FR) It is vital that the European Union has an ambitious plan for transport in order to reduce road deaths and its carbon footprint. By 2020, the number of people killed on European roads will have to have reduced by half in relation to 2010. Parliament is also demanding an overall 20% reduction in CO2 emissions from road, maritime and air transport in relation to 1990. Lastly, European towns are called on to develop safe infrastructures for pedestrians and cyclists. The quality of European transport structures must be a priority for the European Union since it is projected that the number of transport users will rise by 34% by 2030.

 
  
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  Christine De Veyrac (PPE ), in writing. (FR) I voted in favour of Mr Grosch’s report, which gives us a better understanding of the future of European transport. The targets set in this White Paper lay down new foundations for a European network enabling our fellow citizens to travel, while reducing the environmental impact.

 
  
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  Edite Estrela (S&D ), in writing. (PT) I voted for this report because I believe it contributes to improving the quality and safety of European transport, by promoting coherent and specific targets so that these objectives can be achieved. I would also highlight the importance given to environmental matters, through the decarbonisation of this sector as well as through a clear stake in the research and development of intelligent management systems for all modes of transport.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE ), in writing. (PT) The report in question, drafted by Mr Grosch, is based on the European Commission White Paper, adopted in March 2001 called ‘Roadmap to a Single European Transport Area – Towards a competitive and resource efficient transport system’. We are all aware that mobility is essential for societies to function, particularly for a competitive economy and for its citizens’ freedom. Over the course of the last few years, road transport has been prioritised, to the detriment of railways. Therefore, in view of the Europe 2020 strategy, we have to consider key issues such as road safety, so to reduce the numbers of fatalities and those injured, environmental protection, so as to halve CO2 emissions, green energy sources, and economic sustainability. We are talking about more than 10 million jobs and around 5% of gross domestic product.

Since I advocate the creation of a Single European Transport Area, I voted for this report and I hope that implementation of new instruments will improve all modes of transport, especially for the outermost regions of the EU, and that it gives a new impetus to the trans-European network and to railway proposals.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL ), in writing. (PT) The liberalisation of the transport sector and subsequent privatisation of everything that makes money, under – unproven – assumptions of improving the quality of the service, of better prices and of more jobs, has in fact meant the opposite, harming users, workers and national economies. This European transport policy will serve the interests of a few big companies and multinationals, which are looking for a transport network to suit them. Consider the enlightening example of German multinational Deutsche Bahn BA, which today controls more than 60% of Europe’s railway cargo sector. However, this certainly will not serve the interests of workers and the people, or of small and medium-sized enterprises, which are seeing transport costs rising and quality declining, as the liberalisation advocated here progresses.

The Roadmap to a Single European Transport Area is being developed around the creation of an internal European transport market by opening up networks and markets, via the so-called Single European Sky and the Union’s Emission Trading Scheme. Within this context, pious calls to the Commission to certify the non-existence of social dumping, of deteriorating quality of services, and of monopolies and oligopolies are worthless. Obviously, we voted against this report.

 
  
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  Ilda Figueiredo (GUE/NGL ), in writing. (PT) A proposal to liberalise the transport sector has been approved once more. The subsequent privatisation of everything that makes money, under – unproven – assumptions of improving the quality of the service, of better prices and of more jobs, has in fact meant the opposite, harming users, workers and national economies.

This European transport policy will serve the interests of a few big companies and multinationals, which are looking for a transport network to suit them. Consider the enlightening example of German multinational Deutsche Bahn BA, which today controls more than 60% of Europe’s railway cargo sector. However, this certainly will not serve the interests of workers and the people, or of small and medium-sized enterprises, which are seeing transport costs rising and quality declining, as the liberalisation advocated here progresses. The Roadmap to a Single European Transport Area is being developed around the creation of an internal European transport market by opening up networks and markets, via the so-called Single European Sky and the Union’s Emission Trading Scheme.

Within this context, pious calls to the Commission to certify the non-existence of social dumping, of deteriorating quality of services, and of monopolies and oligopolies are worthless.

We voted against this report.

 
  
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  Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D ), in writing. (SK) Transport is a key element of the European economy and society. It is of crucial importance for the internal market and the living standards of citizens, enabling them to travel freely, and it aids economic growth and job creation. However, it must be sustainable in the light of the new challenges facing society. Since it is global in nature, the effectiveness of individual actions requires strong international cooperation. The future prosperity of the European continent will depend on the ability of all of its regions to maintain full and competitive integration in the global economy. Efficient transport plays a very important role in meeting this objective. There are still obstacles to the smooth functioning of effective competition in the internal market. A goal of the coming decades should therefore be to create a genuine Single European Transport Area by removing all remaining barriers between the individual modes of transport and national systems. I believe that an appropriate way to achieve that objective is to simplify the integration process and support the emergence of transnational and intermodal operators.

 
  
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  Nathalie Griesbeck (ALDE ), in writing. (FR) Despite several reservations, I voted for this report, which sets ambitious and positive targets, in particularly aiming to cut CO2 emissions in the transport sector by 2020. That being the case, I regret that gigaliners (those gigantic trucks weighing up to 60 tonnes and measuring up to 25 metres in length) are covered in this report. These monsters of the road pose a real danger to road safety, since they are absolutely unsuited to infrastructure, which, moreover, is at risk of deteriorating very badly. For the rest, by adopting strong measures to cut CO2 emissions in all modes of transport and outlining what could be the mobility and transport of tomorrow, this report is a real step forward.

 
  
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  Filiz Hakaeva Hyusmenovа (ALDE ), in writing. (BG) I supported the proposed resolution because transport policy is of vital significance to the development of Europe’s regions, provides considerable employment and is a key factor in the EU retaining its competitive position globally. I believe that the transport sector offers significant potential for supporting the objectives of the Europe 2020 strategy in areas such as sustainable economic growth, innovation and energy. In this regard, I share the view that more robust support is required for the development of the infrastructure in the new Member States, which would help narrow the differences in the development of individual regions and achieve a Single European Transport Area. Intermodality is also important to increasing the sector’s efficiency, as the various forms of transport should complement each other. Another key aspect is the importance of coordination among the individual policies and the various stakeholders, as macro-regional strategies can also have a not insignificant role to play in this. Climate change, switching transport to alternative and renewable energy sources, safety and providing an infrastructure that is accessible to people with disabilities are just some of the challenges facing the sector for which comprehensive solutions should be proposed.

 
  
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  Juozas Imbrasas (EFD ), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour because the transport sector is of major importance for the development of the European Union, its regions and its towns, and also for European citizens in that it provides jobs for many Europeans and serves the completion of the European internal market. Transport can make a significant contribution to the Europe 2020 strategy, particularly with regard to employment, sustainable economic growth, research, energy, innovation and the environment. I agree with the rapporteur’s view that the Member States underestimate the European added value of transport policy and obstruct it by implementing directives and projects incorrectly or late. In times of economic and financial crisis, investment in TEN-T projects is not sufficiently promoted. The transport networks of the new and old Member States should be effectively linked up, and disparities between the levels of infrastructure development in the EU Member States should be eliminated in order to establish a Single European Transport Area. Europe needs to create a competitive and resource efficient transport system.

 
  
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  Philippe Juvin (PPE ), in writing. (FR) I supported the report on the roadmap to a Single European Transport Area because it includes several road safety and CO2 emission reduction targets, and stresses the importance of internalising external costs (such as noise).

 
  
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  Edvard Kožušník (ECR ), in writing. (CS) At the moment when Europe finds itself on the brink of another economic crisis, I consider it a massive gamble to set strict targets demanding a 20% reduction in CO2 emissions from road transport, and a 30% reduction in emissions from aviation and maritime transport. Such demands in the current uncertain period may deal a fatal blow to the European economy and its global competitiveness. The transport sector makes a significant contribution to competitiveness and growth in Europe, and we should therefore support and not hinder it. I therefore consider it important to complete the European internal transport market by opening further transport networks and markets. I therefore support the proposal to stabilise the funding of construction of a Trans-European Transport Network, and I particularly applaud the proposal to include EuroVelo, the European long-distance network of cycle paths, in the Trans-European Transport Network. I generally consider this a good report, but I am concerned about the Trojan Horse that was unfortunately smuggled into it in the form of unrealistic environmental targets for reducing CO2 emissions in transport, implementation of which would harm European competitiveness. As I do not consider it a good thing for the many good steps proposed in the report not to be implemented on account of the Trojan Horse, I have given the report only conditional support. I would therefore like to say that I do not support any legislative measures created on the basis of this report which would implement an unrealistic plan for reducing CO2 emissions.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D ), in writing. I voted for this report which points out that there is an acute need to take action in towns, as the population in conurbations is increasing, which will lead to increasing traffic, noise and air pollution. In order to address these problems, towns should establish sustainable mobility plans, and financial support for projects should be made dependent upon the submission of such plans. Under the principle of subsidiarity, towns will, of course, decide themselves what urban projects to plan, but these projects will have to comply with the standards of European transport policy, meaning that they will have to provide for efficient multi-modal passenger and goods logistics chains which reduce not only traffic in towns but also environmental impact. For this reason, mobility plans will also have to provide for increased infrastructure for pedestrians and cyclists and lead to the doubling of the number of public transport users. Bus and tram transport in particular can significantly contribute to efficient co-modality in urban, suburban and regional transport, provided that the requisite infrastructure is adapted or made available

 
  
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  Mario Mauro (PPE ), in writing. (IT) The creation of a Single European Transport Area eliminating all barriers between transport modes and national systems and free of distortions of competition and social dumping would benefit EU citizens considerably. The report by Mr Grosch is along these lines therefore I voted in favour.

 
  
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  Mairead McGuinness (PPE ), in writing. I voted in favour of this report, which will improve mobility for EU citizens across the Member States.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE ), in writing. (PT) Transport is extraordinarily important for EU citizens, who benefit from the European transport area by being able to move around for all areas of life, so enjoying European freedom of movement both personally and professionally. Furthermore, the transportation of passengers and goods ensures employment for many EU citizens and contributes to completing the European internal market. It is for this reason that calls for proposals enabling the creation of a fully integrated European market are of considerable importance.

 
  
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  Andreas Mölzer (NI ), in writing. – (DE) In essence, the current White Paper sets out the same objectives as those of ten years ago. The progress that has been achieved in isolated areas, such as the single European railway market, a trans-European core netw