Index 
Texts adopted
Thursday, 26 March 2009 - StrasbourgFinal edition
White Paper on damages actions for breach of the EC antitrust rules
 Food distribution to the most deprived persons in the Community (amendment of the Single CMO Regulation) *
 An EU-India Free Trade Agreement
 Social responsibility of subcontracting undertakings in production chains
 Food prices in Europe
 Impact of extensive urbanisation in Spain on individual rights of European citizens, on the environment and on the application of EU law
 The state of transatlantic relations in the aftermath of the US elections
 Strengthening security and fundamental freedoms on the Internet
 EU strategy for better ship dismantling

White Paper on damages actions for breach of the EC antitrust rules
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European Parliament resolution of 26 March 2009 on the White Paper on damages actions for breach of the EC antitrust rules (2008/2154(INI) )
P6_TA(2009)0187 A6-0123/2009

The European Parliament ,

–   having regard to the Commission White Paper of 2 April 2008 on Damages actions for breach of the EC antitrust rules (COM(2008)0165 ) (White Paper),

–   having regard to its resolution of 25 April 2007 on the Green Paper on Damages actions for breach of the EC antitrust rules(1) ,

–   having regard to the Commission Communication of 13 March 2007 on EU Consumer Policy strategy 2007-2013: empowering consumers, enhancing their welfare, effectively protecting them (COM(2007)0099 ),

–   having regard to Council Regulation (EC) No 1/2003 of 16 December 2002 on the implementation of the rules on competition laid down in Articles 81 and 82 of the Treaty(2) , Commission Regulation (EC) No 773/2004 of 7 April 2004 relating to the conduct of proceedings by the Commission pursuant to Articles 81 and 82 of the EC Treaty (3) and Council Regulation (EC) No 139/2004 of 20 January 2004 on the control of concentrations between undertakings (the EC Merger Regulation)(4) ,

–   having regard to the Commission Notice on immunity from fines and reduction of fines in cartel cases(5) and Commission Regulation (EC) No 622/2008 of 30 June 2008(6) on the conduct of settlement procedures in cartel cases,

–   having regard to Rule 45 of its Rules of Procedure,

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs and the opinions of the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection and the Committee on Legal Affairs (A6-0123/2009 ),

A.   whereas competition policy enhances the European Union's economic performance and makes a decisive contribution towards the achievement of the Lisbon Strategy goals,

B.   whereas the Court of Justice of the European Communities has ruled, with a view to guaranteeing the full effectiveness of Article 81 of the Treaty, that individuals and undertakings may bring proceedings for damages for a breach of the EC competition rules,

C.   whereas actions for damages are only one element of an effective system of private enforcement and whereas alternative dispute resolution mechanisms are, in appropriate circumstances, an efficient alternative to collective redress mechanisms, offer fair and quick out-of-court settlements, and should be encouraged,

D.   whereas the issues addressed in the White Paper concern all categories of victim, all types of breach of Articles 81 and 82 of the EC Treaty, and all sectors of the economy,

E.   whereas any proposal to introduce collective redress mechanisms for breaches of the EC competition rules should accompany, and not replace, the alternative forms of protection which already exist in some Member States (such as representative actions and test cases);

F.   whereas the aim of private-law actions for damages must be to compensate the victim fully for the harm suffered and whereas the principles of non-contractual liability that prohibit unjust enrichment and multiple recovery of compensation on the one hand, and that avoid punitive damages on the other must be respected,

G.   whereas the enforcement of competition law by the Commission and Member States' competition authorities falls within the scope of public law and whereas relatively few private actions for damages are brought before national courts although several Member States have taken, or will take, measures to facilitate the prosecution of actions for damages by private individuals in the event of a breach of the EC competition rules,

H.   whereas bringing private actions for damages should complement and support, but not replace, the enforcement of competition law by the competition authorities and whereas the staffing and funding of the competition authorities must be boosted, so that breaches of the EC competition rules can be prosecuted more effectively,

I.   whereas no matter how a dispute is resolved, it is essential that procedures and safeguards are put in place to ensure that all parties receive fair treatment and that, at the same time, there is no abuse of that system, such as has occurred in other legal systems, in particular in the United States;

J.   whereas with regard to any proposal that does not fall within the exclusive competence of the Community, the Commission must respect the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality,

1.   Welcomes the White Paper and stresses that the EC competition rules and, in particular, their effective enforcement, require that victims of breaches of the EC competition rules must be able to claim compensation for the damage suffered;

2.   Notes that the Commission has not so far specified a legal basis for its proposed measures, and that further consideration must be given to identifying a legal basis for the proposed interventions into national proceedings for non-contractual damages and national procedural law;

3.   Takes the view that several obstacles to effective redress for victims of breaches of the EC competition rules, such as mass and dispersed damage, information asymmetries and other problems encountered in prosecuting actions for damages, occur not only in proceedings relating to EC competition law, but also in areas such as product liability and other consumer-related actions;

4.   Recalls that individual consumers but also small businesses, especially those who have suffered dispersed and relatively low-value damage, are often deterred from bringing individual actions for damages by the costs, delays, uncertainties, risks and burdens involved; stresses, in this context, that collective redress, which allows the aggregation of individual actions for damages for breaches of the EC competition rules and enhances victims' ability to obtain access to justice, is an important deterrent; welcomes, in this respect, the Commission's proposals that mechanisms be set up to improve collective redress while avoiding excessive litigation;

5.   Points out that at the end of 2008 the Commission's Directorate General on Health and Consumers published the results of two studies on collective redress mechanisms in the Member States and possible barriers to the internal market resulting from Member States' differing legislation; points out also that the Commission published a green paper on the Community's possible options for action in the field of consumer protection law and has announced the publication of another policy paper in 2009; stresses that measures at Community level must not lead to arbitrary or unnecessary fragmentation of procedural national laws and that, therefore, careful consideration should be given to whether, and if so to what extent, a horizontal or integrated approach should be chosen to facilitate out-of-court settlements and the prosecution of actions for damages; calls on the Commission, therefore, to undertake an examination of the possible legal bases and how to proceed in a horizontal or integrated way though not necessarily with a single horizontal instrument, and to refrain, in the meantime, from presenting any collective redress mechanism for victims of breaches of the EC competition rules without allowing Parliament to participate in the adoption of such a mechanism in the course of the codecision procedure;

6.   Notes that actions for damages for breaches of the EC competition rules should be treated consistently with other non-contractual claims in so far as possible, is of the opinion that a horizontal or integrated approach could cover procedural rules that are common to collective redress mechanisms in different areas of law, and stresses that this approach must not delay or avoid the development of proposals and measures identified as necessary for the full enforcement of EC competition law; notes, furthermore, the more advanced analysis of civil competition law redress and the advanced framework for competition authorities, including the European Competition Network, and that, at least in regard to some issues, this justifies moving forward rapidly, taking into account that some of the measures envisaged could be extended to non-competition law sectors; takes the view that such sectoral measures could already be proposed with regard to the particular complexities and difficulties encountered by victims of breaches of the EC competition rules;

7.   Notes that achieving a once-and-for-all settlement for defendants is desirable to reduce uncertainty and exaggerated economic effects that are capable of impacting on employees, suppliers, subcontractors and other innocent parties; calls for an evaluation and a possible introduction of an out-of-court settlement procedure for mass claims that can either be initiated by the parties before taking legal action or that can be ordered by the court before which an action is brought; considers that such a settlement procedure should aim for an out-of-court settlement of the dispute, subject to seeking judicial approval of a settlement agreement, which can be declared binding upon all the victims who have participated in the settlement procedure; stresses that such a procedure must neither entail an undue prolongation of proceedings, nor promote the unfair settlement of claims; calls for the Commission to seek ways of achieving greater certainty including evaluating whether any subsequent claimants should, in principle, be expected to benefit from no more than the outcome of such a settlement procedure;

8.   Takes the view that direct and indirect purchasers should have available to them, for the prosecution of their stand-alone or follow-up claims, individual, collective or representative actions, which can also be brought in the form of a 'test' case, but that in order to avoid multiple actions by a single party for the same cause of action, the selection of one such action should preclude a party from participating in another, either simultaneously or subsequently; considers that in the event that different parties launch separate actions, attempts should be made for those actions to be joined or tried in sequence;

9.   Takes the view that in order to avoid abusive litigation the power to prosecute in representative actions should be made available in the Member States to state bodies such as the Ombudsman or to qualified entities such as consumer associations in accordance with Article 3 of Directive 98/27/EC of the European Parliament and the Council of 19 May 1998 on injunctions for the protection of consumer interests(7) , and that an ad-hoc authorisation to pursue such representative actions should primarily be considered for trade associations which arrange proceedings for actions for damages for companies;

10.   Asks that only a clearly delimited group of people be eligible to take part in collective redress actions, and that the identification of the members of that group in the case of a collective opt-in claim and the identification in the case of representative actions brought by qualified entities that where designated in advance or authorised on an ad hoc basis must take place within a clear period of time without unnecessary delay while complying with existing legislation that provides for a later date; stresses that only the damage actually suffered should be compensated; notes that in the case of a successful action the compensation sought must be paid to the identified group of people or their nominee and that qualified entities may be compensated only for the costs they have incurred in the course of pursuing the action and may not, either directly or indirectly, be a nominee to receive damages;

11.   Stresses that in the event of a successful stand-alone claim, subsequent proceedings by the authorities for a breach of the EC competition rules are not excluded; also reiterates that in order to encourage undertakings to compensate the victims of illicit behaviour as quickly and effectively as possible, the competition authorities are asked to take account of the compensation paid or to be paid when determining the fine that is to be imposed upon the defendant undertaking; notes that this should, however, not interfere either with the victim's right to full compensation of the damage suffered or with the need to maintain the deterrent objective of fines, and that it should not result in lengthy and uncertain settlement finality for companies; calls on the Council and the Commission explicitly to incorporate into Regulation (EC) No 1/2003 those fining principles and further improve and specify them in order to comply with the requirements of the general legal principles;

12.   Observes that some prima facie assessment of the merits of a collective action should form a preliminary stage and stresses that claimants in collective redress actions must not be in a better or worse position than individual claimants; calls for the application in the context of collective redress mechanisms of the principle that the party bringing the action must provide evidence for its claim, subject to the applicable national law providing for a lighter burden of proof or easier access to information and evidence held by the defendant;

13.   Calls for the Commission to be required, in the follow-up to an investigation, to allow victims of breaches of the EC competition rules access to the necessary information for prosecuting actions for damages and stresses that Article 255 of the EC Treaty and Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001 provide for a right of access to documents of the institutions, which may be refused only under the conditions set out in that Regulation, notably in Article 4 thereof; considers, therefore, that the Commission must interpret Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001 accordingly, or propose an amendment thereof; stresses that when the authorities grant access to documents, particular attention must be paid to protecting business and company secrecy of the defendant or third parties and notes that guidelines are needed regarding the treatment of leniency applications;

14.   Believes that a national court should not be bound by a decision of the national competition authority of another Member State without prejudice to rules that provide for the binding effect of decisions that were adopted by a member of the European Competition Network, applying Articles 81 or 82 of the Treaty and in relation to the same subject-matter; observes that training and exchange programmes should lead to the convergence of decisions so that acceptance of another national competition authority's decision should become the norm;

15.   Stresses that a culpable act must always be a prerequisite for an action for damages, and that a breach of the EC competition rules must, at the least, be negligent unless national law provides that there is an automatic implication or rebuttable presumption of fault in the case of a breach of the EC competition rules, ensuring the consistent and coherent enforcement of competition law;

16.   Welcomes the fact that compensation is designed to make good losses and lost profit, including overcharges and interest, and calls for this definition of damages to be established for collective redress mechanisms at Community level;

17.   Welcomes the Commission's work on a non-binding guidance framework for the calculation of damages which could usefully include guidance on the information required to establish the calculation and their application in alternative dispute resolution mechanisms whenever possible;

18.   Notes that developing a common Community approach to passing on has merit and approves the admissibility of passing on as a defence, that evidence for such a defence must always be provided by the defendant, and that the courts have the option of recourse to established national rules on the link between causality and liability in order to reach just decisions in individual cases; suggests that guidelines be proposed concerning the extent to which the indirect purchaser and, in particular, the last indirect purchaser may rely on the rebuttable presumption that an illegal overcharge was passed down in its entirety to the level of that indirect purchaser;

19.   Welcomes the fact that in the case of continuous or repeated infringements, limitation periods are to begin on the day when the infringement ceases or when the victim can reasonably be expected to have knowledge of the infringement, whichever the later; stresses that rules on limitation periods also serve to create legal certainty and that in the event of a failure to bring a public or private action, a limitation period of five years must apply; also welcomes the fact that the limitation period for stand-alone actions is to be based on national law, and calls for this to apply also to follow-up actions; notes that Member States' laws regulating the suspension or interruption of the limitation period are not to be affected;

20.   Welcomes the fact that the Member States are to determine their own rules on the allocation of costs; considers that it is for the Member States to evaluate whether or not to ensure that the asymmetry of resources between the complainant and the defendant in legal proceedings does not deter the bringing of well-founded actions for damages and observes that access to justice must also be balanced by strong measures to prevent abuse by, inter alia, frivolous, vexatious or 'blackmailing' actions;

21.   Points out that the application of the leniency programme makes a major contribution towards uncovering cartels, thus enabling private actions for damages to be brought in the first place and calls for ways of maintaining the attractiveness of the application for leniency programme to be examined; stresses that despite the importance of the application of the leniency programme, full exemption of cooperative witnesses from joint and several liability is contrary to the system and rejects such exemption categorically as prejudicial to many victims of breaches of the EC competition rules;

22.   Calls on the Commission, in order not to undermine but to facilitate the right of victims to bring actions for damages, as a priority, to avoid abandoning cartel and competition proceedings and to bring all those that are significant to a proper conclusion with a clear decision;

23.   Insists that Parliament must be involved, in the framework of the codecision procedure, in any legislative initiative in the area of collective redress;

24.   Calls for any legislative proposal to be preceded by an independent cost-benefit analysis.

25.   Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council and Commission, the governments and parliaments of the Member States and the social partners at Community level.

(1) OJ C 74 E, 20.3.2008, p. 653.
(2) OJ L 1, 4.1.2003, p. 1.
(3) OJ L 123, 27.4.2004, p. 18.
(4) OJ L 24, 29.1.2004, p. 1.
(5) OJ C 298, 8.12.2006, p. 17.
(6) OJ L 171, 1.7.2008, p. 3.
(7) OJ L 166, 11.6.1998, p. 51.


Food distribution to the most deprived persons in the Community (amendment of the Single CMO Regulation) *
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European Parliament legislative resolution of 26 March 2009 on the proposal for a Council regulation amending Regulation (EC) No 1290/2005 on the financing of the common agricultural policy and Regulation (EC) No 1234/2007 establishing a common organisation of agricultural markets and on specific provisions for certain agricultural products (Single CMO Regulation) as regards food distribution to the most deprived persons in the Community (COM(2008)0563 – C6-0353/2008 – 2008/0183(CNS) )
P6_TA(2009)0188 A6-0091/2009

(Consultation procedure)

The European Parliament ,

–   having regard to the Commission proposal to the Council (COM(2008)0563 ),

–   having regard to Article 37 of the EC Treaty, pursuant to which the Council consulted Parliament (C6-0353/2008 ),

–   having regard to Rule 51 of its Rules of Procedure,

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development and the opinion of the Committee on Regional Development (A6-0091/2009 ),

1.   Approves the Commission proposal as amended;

2.   Calls on the Commission to alter its proposal accordingly, pursuant to Article 250(2) of the EC Treaty;

3.   Calls on the Council to notify Parliament if it intends to depart from the text approved by Parliament;

4.   Asks the Council to consult Parliament again if it intends to amend the Commission proposal substantially;

5.   Instructs its President to forward its position to the Council and Commission.

Text proposed by the Commission   Amendment
Amendment 1
Proposal for a regulation – amending act
Recital 1
(1)   Council Regulation (EEC) No 3730/87 of 10 December 1987 laying down the general rules for the supply of food from intervention stocks to designated organisations for distribution to the most deprived persons in the Community, subsequently repealed and integrated into Council Regulation (EC) No 1234/2007, has provided a reliable source of food for distribution to the most deprived persons of the Community for more than two decades.
(1)   Council Regulation (EEC) No 3730/87 of 10 December 1987 laying down the general rules for the supply of food from intervention stocks to designated organisations for distribution to the most deprived persons in the Community, subsequently repealed and integrated into Council Regulation (EC) No 1234/ 2007, has provided a reliable source of food for distribution to the most deprived persons of the Community for more than two decades and has positively contributed to the cohesion of EU regions by reducing economic and social disparities between regions which have different levels of development .
Amendment 2
Proposal for a regulation – amending act
Recital 2
(2)   The objectives of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) as defined in Article 33(1) of the Treaty include stabilising the markets as well as ensuring that supplies reach consumers at reasonable prices. Over the years the food distribution plans implemented under the scheme have successfully underpinned the fulfilment of both objectives and, by reducing the food insecurity of the most deprived persons in the Community, have proven to be an essential tool contributing to guarantee broad availability of food within the Community while reducing the intervention stocks.
(2)   The objectives of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) as defined in Article 33(1) of the Treaty include stabilising the markets as well as ensuring that supplies reach consumers at reasonable prices. Over the years the food distribution plans implemented under the scheme have successfully underpinned the fulfilment of both objectives and, by reducing the food insecurity of the most deprived persons in the Community, have proven to be an essential tool contributing to guarantee broad availability of food within the Community while reducing the intervention stocks. The new Community food aid scheme for the most deprived persons should continue to guarantee the aims of the CAP and help achieve cohesion objectives by ensuring balanced, harmonious sustainable development for all regions .
Amendment 3
Proposal for a regulation – amending act
Recital 5
(5)   The current food distribution scheme relies on the distribution of products from Community intervention stocks supplemented, on a temporary basis, by purchases on the market. However, successive reforms of the CAP and favourable developments of producer prices have resulted in a progressive reduction in intervention stocks, as well as the range of products available. Consequently, market purchases should also be made a permanent source of supply for the scheme to complement intervention stocks, where suitable intervention stocks are not available.
(5)   The current food distribution scheme relies on the distribution of products from Community intervention stocks supplemented, on a temporary basis, by purchases on the market. However, increasing strains in the world market for primary agricultural products and the phasing out of tools for the orientation of production and stocks applied under successive reforms of the CAP, have reduced the EU's food self-sufficiency in terms of the quantity and range of products available and its capacity to respond to the food needs of its most deprived citizens or to any food crises or international speculation. Nevertheless, the EU cannot, from one day to the next, halt a programme which has already been launched . Consequently, market purchases should also be made a permanent source of supply for the scheme to complement intervention stocks, where suitable intervention stocks are not available. Purchases on the market should be effected in a competitive manner, while encouraging the purchase of products of Community origin.
Amendment 4
Proposal for a regulation – amending act
Recital 6
(6)   A Community scheme cannot constitute the sole response to the growing needs for food aid in the Community. National policies implemented by public administrations and the mobilisation of civil society are equally necessary to provide food security for the most deprived. A Community scheme with a strong cohesive element might, however, serve as a model for the distribution of food to the most deprived, help create synergies and encourage public and private initiatives aimed at increasing the food security of persons in need. Furthermore, given the geographical dispersion of the reduced available intervention stocks in the Member States, it can contribute to their best use. The Community scheme should therefore also be without prejudice to any such national policies.
(6)   A Community scheme cannot constitute the sole response to the growing needs for food aid in the Community. National policies implemented by public administrations and the mobilisation of civil society are equally necessary to provide food security for the most deprived. A Community scheme with a strong cohesive element might, however, serve as a model for the distribution of food to the most deprived, especially in the less developed regions, help create synergies and encourage public and private initiatives aimed at increasing the food security of persons in need. Furthermore, given the geographical dispersion of the reduced available intervention stocks in the Member States, it can contribute to their best use. The Community scheme should therefore also be without prejudice to any such national policies.
Amendment 5
Proposal for a regulation – amending act
Recital 7
(7)    In order to fully benefit from the cohesive dimension of the Community scheme and reinforce the synergies thereby created, and in order to ensure proper planning, provision should be made for Member States to co-finance the food distribution programme. Maximum Community co-financing rates should be provided for and the Community financial contribution should be added to the list of measures eligible for financing by the European Agricultural Guarantee Fund (EAGF) set out in Article 3(1) of Council Regulation (EC) No 1290/2005. Higher co-financing rates should apply in the first years of application of the revised scheme in order to ensure the continued high take-up of funds, the gradual phase in of co-financing, to allow for a smooth transition and to avoid the risk of discontinuation of the scheme due to a possible lack of resources.
deleted
Amendment 7
Proposal for a regulation – amending act
Recital 9
Experience has shown that certain improvements in the management of this scheme are desirable, in particular to provide Member States and designated organisations with a longer term perspective through multi-annual plans. The Commission should therefore establish three-year-plans for the implementation of the scheme, based on the Member States requests to be communicated to the Commission and other information considered relevant by the Commission. Member States should base their requests in terms of food products to be distributed within any three-year-plan on national food distribution programmes setting out their objectives and priorities for food distribution to the most deprived persons. The Commission should define an objective methodology for allocating available funds.
(9)   Experience has shown that certain improvements in the management of this scheme are desirable, in particular to provide Member States and designated organisations with a longer term perspective through multi-annual plans. The Commission should therefore establish three-year-plans for the implementation of the scheme, based on the Member States requests to be communicated to the Commission and other information considered relevant by the Commission. Member States should base their requests in terms of food products to be distributed within any three-year-plan on national food aid programmes setting out their objectives and priorities for food distribution to the most deprived persons. The Commission should define an objective methodology for allocating available funds. In exceptional circumstances, and where the numbers of those in need have increased beyond what was forecast, Member States may ask the Commission to revise the plans.
Amendment 8
Proposal for a regulation – amending act
Article 2 – point 1
Regulation (EC) No 1234/2007
Article 27 – paragraph 1
1.   Products in intervention stocks shall be made available or food products shall be purchased on the market so that food products may be distributed to the most deprived persons in the Community through organisations designated by Member States.
1.   Products in intervention stocks shall be made available or food products of Community origin shall be purchased on the market, with preference given to locally-produced fresh food products, so that food products may be distributed to the most deprived persons in the Community through organisations designated by Member States.
Food products shall be purchased in the market only where intervention stocks suitable for the food distribution scheme are not available.
Food products of Community origin shall be purchased in the market only where intervention stocks suitable for the food distribution scheme are not available.
Amendment 9
Proposal for a regulation – amending act
Article 2 – point 1
Regulation (EC) No 1234/2007
Article 27 – paragraph 2
2.   Member States wishing to participate in the scheme shall communicate to the Commission national food distribution programmes, containing requests for amounts of food products to be distributed during a three-year period and other relevant information.
2.   Member States wishing to participate in the scheme shall communicate to the Commission national food aid programmes, containing details of their main characteristics and objectives, the organisations concerned, the requests for amounts of food products to be distributed during a three-year period and other relevant information.
Amendment 10
Proposal for a regulation – amending act
Article 2 – point 1
Regulation (EC) No 1234/2007
Article 27 – paragraph 3 – subparagraph 2
The three-year plan shall set out annual financial allocations by the Community per Member State and minimum annual financial contributions of Member States, determined by the Commission in accordance with a methodology to be set out in the implementing rules adopted in accordance with Article 43(g). Allocations for the second and third year of the programme shall be indicative. Member States participating in the scheme shall confirm every year the requests referred to in paragraph 2. Following these confirmations, the Commission shall decide each subsequent year on the definitive allocations, within the limits of the appropriations available in the budget.
The three-year plan shall set out annual financial allocations by the Community per Member State, determined by the Commission in accordance with a methodology to be set out in the implementing rules adopted in accordance with Article 43(g). Allocations for the second and third year of the programme shall be indicative. Member States participating in the scheme shall confirm every year the requests referred to in paragraph 2. Following these confirmations, the Commission shall decide each subsequent year on the definitive allocations, within the limits of the appropriations available in the budget.
Amendment 11
Proposal for a regulation – amending act
Article 2 – point 1
Regulation (EC) No 1234/2007
Article 27 – paragraph 4 – subparagraph 3a (new)
Those organisations shall display an information panel at distribution points, or attach a sticker to mobile distribution units, indicating that they are recipients of the Community food aid programme. This shall be the means of informing beneficiaries that they are receiving Community support.
Amendment 12
Proposal for a regulation – amending act
Article 2 – point 1
Regulation (EC) No 1234/2007
Article 27 – paragraph 5 – point b
(b) keep the Commission informed in a timely manner on developments affecting the implementation of the food distribution programmes.
(b) keep the Commission informed on developments affecting the implementation of the food distribution programmes.
Amendment 13
Proposal for a regulation – amending act
Article 2 – point 1
Regulation (EC) No 1234/2007
Article 27 – paragraph 6 – subparagraph 1 – point b
(b) the cost of food products purchased on the market.
(b) the cost of food products purchased on the market on the basis of competitive procedures .
Amendment 14
Proposal for a regulation – amending act
Article 2 – point 1
Regulation (EC) No 1234/2007
Article 27 – paragraph 6 – subparagraph 2 – point b
(b) costs of transport of food products and administrative costs for the designated organisations directly linked with the implementation of the scheme.
(b) costs of transport and storage of food products and administrative costs for the designated organisations directly linked with the implementation of the scheme.
Amendment 15
Proposal for a regulation – amending act
Article 2 – point 1
Regulation (EC) No 1234/2007
Article 27 – paragraph 6 a (new)
6a.    The Member States shall set a ceiling, corresponding to the percentage of products purchased or bartered, for all transport, storage and administrative costs (including communication costs), taking account of local conditions where necessary. The financial provision shall be divided by the Member States between these three items of expenditure. All appropriations not used under this provision may be reallocated to the purchase of food.
Amendment 16
Proposal for a regulation – amending act
Article 2 – point 1
Regulation (EC) No 1234/2007
Article 27 – paragraph 7 – subparagraph 1
7.   The Community shall co-finance the eligible costs under the scheme.
7.   The Community shall finance the eligible costs under the scheme.
Amendment 17
Proposal for a regulation – amending act
Article 2 – point 1
Regulation (EC) No 1234/2007
Article 27 – paragraph 7 – subparagraph 2 − introductory part
The Community co-financing rate shall not exceed:
deleted
Amendment 18
Proposal for a regulation – amending act
Article 2 – point 1
Regulation (EC) No 1234/2007
Article 27 – paragraph 7 – subparagraph 2 − point a
(a) for the three-year plan starting on 1 January 2010, 75% of the eligible costs, or 85% of the eligible costs in the Member States eligible for funding from the Cohesion Fund for the period 2007-2013, as listed in Annex I to Commission Decision 2006/596/EC;
deleted
Amendment 19
Proposal for a regulation – amending act
Article 2 – point 1
Regulation (EC) No 1234/2007
Article 27 – paragraph 7 – subparagraph 2 − point b
(b) for subsequent three year plans, 50% of the eligible costs, or 75% of the eligible costs in the Member States eligible for funding from the Cohesion Fund in a given year, as listed in Annex I to Decision 2006/596/EC and in subsequent decisions.
deleted
Amendment 20
Proposal for a regulation – amending act
Article 2 – point 3
Regulation (EC) No 1234/2007
Article 184 – point 9
"(9) by 31 December 2012 , at the latest, to the European Parliament and the Council on the application of the scheme for food distribution to the most deprived persons in the Community provided for in Article 27, together with any appropriate proposals."
"(9) by 31 December 2011 , at the latest, to the European Parliament and the Council on the application of the scheme for food distribution to the most deprived persons in the Community provided for in Article 27, together with a proposal for a decision on continuation of the scheme after the current financing period and any other appropriate proposals necessary. "

An EU-India Free Trade Agreement
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European Parliament resolution of 26 March 2009 on an EU-India Free Trade Agreement (2008/2135(INI) )
P6_TA(2009)0189 A6-0131/2009

The European Parliament ,

–   having regard to the India-EU Strategic Partnership Joint Action Plan of 7 September 2005, in particular the section on developing trade and investment, and its revised version,

–   having regard to the joint statement of the 4th EU-India Business Summit on 29 November 2003 and especially the EU-India Joint Initiative for enhancing trade and investment,

–   having regard to the conclusions of the 9th meeting of the India-EU round table in Hyderabad on 18-20 September 2005,

–   having regard to the Report of the EU-India High Level Trade Group to the 7th EU-India Summit in Helsinki on 13 October 2006,

–   having regard to the joint statement of the 9th EU-India Summit in Marseille on 29 September 2008,

–   having regard to the joint statement of the 9th EU- India Business Summit in Paris on 30 September 2008,

–   having regard to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) decision on the Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) and Public Health adopted on 29 November 2005,

–   having regard to its position of 1 December 2005 on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on compulsory licensing of patents relating to the manufacture of pharmaceutical products for export to countries with public health problems(1) ,

–   having regard to the Memorandum of Understanding on Bilateral Co-operation between the Office of the Controller General of Patents, Designs and Trade Marks and the European Patent Office, signed on 29 November 2006,

–   having regards to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Guidelines on Multinational Enterprises and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Tripartite Declaration of Principles Concerning Multinational Enterprises and Social Policy,

–   having regard to the Commission communication of 22 March 2006 entitled "Implementing the Partnership for Growth and Jobs: Making Europe a pole of excellence on Corporate Social Responsibility" (COM (2006)0136),

–   having regard to the OECD Employment Statistics 2008/2007,

–   having regard to the Commission communication of 5 February 2008 entitled "A special place for Children in EU External Action" (COM(2008)0055 ),

–   having regard to the 2004 US-India Agreement: "The Next Step Towards a Strategic Partnership" and the Civil Nuclear Deal negotiated during President George W. Bush's State Visit to India on 2 March 2006,

–   having regard to its resolution of 4 April 2006 on the assessment of the Doha Round following the WTO Ministerial Conference in Hong Kong(2) ,

–   having regard to the Ministerial Declaration of the Fourth Session of the WTO Ministerial Conference, adopted on 14 November 2001 in Doha and in particular its paragraph 44 on Special and Differential Treatment (SDT),

–   having regard to the EU-India Energy Summit held in New Delhi on 6 April 2006,

–   having regard to the 3rd EU- India Energy Panel on 20 June 2007,

–   having regard to its resolution of 29 September 2005 on EU-India relations: A Strategic Partnership(3) ,

–   having regard to the study on Human Rights and Democracy Clauses in the EU's International Agreements commissioned by Parliament's Subcommittee on Human Rights(4) ,

–   having regard to the Commission communication of 4 October 2006 entitled "Global Europe" Competing in the World. A contribution to the EU's Growth and Jobs Strategy" (COM(2006)0567 ),

–   having regard to the Commission's report on the 2007 Customs seizures of counterfeit goods at the EU's external border published on 19 May 2008,

–   having regard the qualitative analysis of a potential Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the EU and India by the Centre for the Analysis of Regional Integration at Sussex,

–   having regard to the Economic Analysis on the economic impact of a potential free trade agreement between the EU and India commissioned by the Centre d'études prospectives et d'informations internationales (CEPII) and the Centre d'initiatives et de recherches européennes en Méditerrannée(CIREM) of 15 March 2007,

–   having regard to the Global Analysis report and Draft Interim report for the Trade Sustainability Impact Assessment of the FTA between the European Union and the Republic of India conducted by ECORYS,

–   having regard its resolution of 28 September 2006 on The European Union's economic and trade relations with India(5) ,

–   having regard to its resolution of 12 July 2007 on The TRIPS Agreement and access to medicines(6) ,

–   having regard to its resolution of 14 February 2006 on the human rights and democracy clause in European Union agreements(7) ,

–   having regard to its resolution of 1 February 2007 on the human rights situation of the Dalits in India(8) ,

–   having regard to its resolution of 22 May 2007 on Global Europe - external aspects of competitiveness(9) ,

–   having regard to its resolution of 4 September 2008 on Trade in services(10) ,

–   having regard to its resolution of 10 July 2008 on allegation of mass graves in Indian- administered Kashmir(11) ,

–   having regard to its resolution of 24 September on the preparation of the EU-India Summit (Marseille, 29 September 2008)(12) ,

–   having regard the India Country Strategy Paper (2007-2013),

–   having regard to the visit to New Delhi by the European Parliament Delegation (composed of members of Parliament's Committee on International Trade) in November 2008,

–   having regard to Rule 45 of its Rules of Procedure,

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on International Trade and the opinions of the Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Committee on Development (A6-0131/2009 ),

A.   whereas the European Union should continue to give priority to a rule-based multilateral trading system, established through the WTO, which offers the best prospects for fair and equitable international trade by establishing appropriate rules and ensuring compliance with them,

B.   whereas a successful and balanced conclusion of the Doha Development Agenda (DDA) is of crucial importance to both the European Union and India, and whereas such an agreement does not preclude bilateral WTO+ agreements which can be complementary to multilateral rules,

C.   whereas political relations with India are based on the 2004 Strategic Partnership, on the 2005 Joint Action Plan adopted at the EU-India Summit in September 2005 and revised at the 9th EU-India Summit in Marseille and on the 1994 Cooperation Agreement; whereas the FTA should build and expand upon the cooperation already foreseen in Article 24 of the Cooperation Agreement,

D.   whereas, the European Union is India's largest source of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), with EUR 10,9 billion (10 900 000 000) invested in 2007; the European Union accounted for 65% of all FDI flows into India in 2007; whereas India's FDI into the European Union increased from EUR 500 million in 2006 to EUR 9,5 billion in 2007,

E.   whereas India was the European Union's 17th most important trading partner in 2000 and ranked 9th in 2007; whereas between 2000 and 2006, EU trade in goods with India grew by around 80%,

F.   whereas India's trade and regulatory environment still remains comparatively restrictive; whereas in 2008 the World Bank ranked India 122 (out of 178 economies) in terms of "ease of doing business",

G.   whereas as stated in the 2007/2008 United Nations Development Programme's Human Development Report, India ranks 128 on the Human Development Index (out of 177 countries), 35% of the Indian population lives on less than USD 1 a day and 80% on less than USD 2 a day; whereas India ranks 62nd on the human poverty index for developing countries among 108 developing countries for which the index has been calculated; whereas India has one of the highest incidences of child labour,

H.   whereas economic imbalances between India's States, and therefore an unbalanced distribution of wealth and national income, require the adoption of sound complementary economic policies, including tax harmonisation and focusing capacity building efforts on the poorest States, enabling them to use funds,

I.   whereas India is the single largest beneficiary of the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) scheme; whereas the European Union's preferential imports from India increased in value to EUR 11,3 billion in 2007 compared to EUR 9,7 billion in 2006,

J.   whereas both parties reaffirm their commitment to tariff reductions, further liberalisation of establishment and trade in services,

K.   whereas market access needs to be accompanied by transparent and adequate rules and standards to ensure that trade liberalisation is beneficial,

L.   whereas market access is being hampered by non-tariff barriers to trade (NTBs) such as health and safety requirements or technical barriers, quantitative restrictions, conformity procedures, trade defence mechanisms, customs procedures, internal taxation, and a failure to adopt international norms and standards;

M.   whereas even more account should be duly taken of the elements on recognition, suitable and effective protection, implementation and enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs), including patents, trade or service marks, copyright and similar rights, geographical indications (including marks of origin), industrial design and integrated circuit topography,

N.   whereas India is one of the major sources of counterfeit medicines seized by the customs services of the Member States, accounting for 30% of the total; whereas substandard and counterfeit medicines promote drug resistance, and increase morbidity and mortality,

O.   whereas Article 1(1) of the Cooperation Agreement provides for respect for human rights and democratic principles; whereas it constitutes an essential element of the agreement,

P.   whereas according to the 2008 Global Hunger Index, India ranks 66 out of 88 nations (developing countries and countries in transition); whereas the India Hunger Index found that not a single State in India falls in the "low hunger" or "moderate hunger" categories; twelve States fall in the "alarming" category; and four States – Punjab, Kerala, Haryana and Assam – fall in the "serious" category,

Q.   whereas the FTA should include commitments on social and environmental standards and sustainable development and effective implementation of internationally agreed standards in the social and environmental domain as a necessary condition to support the promotion of decent work through effective domestic implementation of ILO core labour standards,

R.   whereas India has not signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT); whereas the Nuclear Suppliers Group lifted the embargo on India's nuclear trade and the US-India Nuclear Co-operation Agreement was approved by the US Congress,

S.   whereas a Horizontal Aviation Agreement was signed at the 9th EU-India Summit in Marseille and India was ranked 11th in terms of passenger traffic between the EU and non- EU countries; whereas the European Union and India adopted a revised Joint Action Plan extending the strategic partnership of 2005 to new areas, and whereas the European Business and Technology Centre in India has now been established,

General issues

1.   Believes that the FTA should be balanced and compatible with WTO rules and obligations; considers that a successful DDA remains the European Union's trade priority and that negotiations with India on the FTA be thus complementary to multilateral rules;

2.   Recalls that the EU-India Strategic Partnership is based on common principles and shared values, as reflected in the 1994 EC-India Cooperation Agreement and the 2005 Joint Action Plan; the new competitiveness-driven FTA should complement the 1994 Cooperation Agreement, to which it should be legally and institutionally linked;

3.   Welcomes the outcome of the 9th EU-India Summit and the revised Joint Action Plan; encourages the negotiating parties to keep consulting with key stakeholders; recalls the pledge of the European Union and India to accelerate FTA talks and to make substantive and efficient progress towards the early conclusion of an ambitious and balanced, broad-based trade and investment agreement; is disappointed with the slow pace of negotiations; calls for both parties to conclude a comprehensive, ambitious and balanced FTA by the end of 2010;

4.   Encourages Indian Federal and State Governments to synchronise policies and procedures to allow for potential gains to be maximised;

5.   Based on the complementarities of both economies, points to the future potential for an increase in EU-India trade and investment and business opportunities arising from the FTA; considers the EU-India FTA overall as a win-win scenario but recommends that an evaluation be carried out of the existing sector-specificities; furthermore, emphasises that the FTA should ensure that increasing bilateral trade brings benefits to the widest number of people and contributes to India's achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), including preventing environmental degradation;

6.   Encourages the parties also to address the potential disadvantages of the FTA and the ways in which human development and gender equality may be adversely affected by the rapid opening of markets;

7.   Asks the Commission to include an ambitious sustainable development chapter as an essential part of the FTA and subject to the standard dispute settlement mechanism;

Trade in goods

8.   Welcomes the results of many free trade simulations which show that the FTA would increase overall exports and imports for both the European Union and India; stresses that at the existing average growth rate, bilateral trade is expected to exceed EUR 70,7 billion by 2010 and EUR 160,6 billion by 2015;

9.   Notes that India's average applied tariffs have decreased to levels that are now comparable to those of other Asian countries, notably, India's average applied tariff which is now 14,5% compared to an EU average of 4,1%;

10.   Considers it important that the FTA confirms the provisions of the Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade and the Sanitary and Phytosanitary Agreement; calls on the Commission in this regard to address outstanding issues such as animal welfare;

11.   Notes that India is concerned about the lack of harmonisation of microbiological standards in the European Union, the implications of REACH, costly certificates for exporting fruit to the EU and costly conformity procedures for the CE mark, and stresses that these issues must be resolved in the FTA; calls on both parties to ensure that regulation and NTBs are managed in such a way that overall trade is not hampered; calls on both the European Union and India to work more closely in their different working groups towards a more transparent framework for technical regulations and standards; furthermore calls on the Commission to provide technical assistance to support Indian producers in their efforts to reach EU standards, in particular concerning the health, environmental and social dimensions of production, thus creating win-win situations;

12.   Acknowledges that India's standards regime is still evolving; calls on the Bureau of Indian Standards and the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation to raise their standards in line with international standards and to increase transparency in the formulation of standards by improving their testing and certification procedures is concerned about the implementation and monitoring of sanitary and phytosanitary measures and standards; calls on the Commission to provide adequate support to strengthen capacity and boost qualified human resources within Indian regulatory bodies;

13.   Stresses that the FTA includes a binding state-to-state dispute settlement mechanism, provisions on mediation on NTBs, on anti-dumping and countervailing duty measures and a general exception clause based on Article XX and XXI of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT);

Trade in services, establishment

14.   Recognises that services are the fastest growing sector of the Indian economy; notes that India has offensive interests in liberalisation of Mode 1 and Mode 4 in the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS); notes that the European Union would like to complete liberalisation in market access and national treatment in Mode 3 in most services;

15.   Points out that service liberalisation must in no way hinder the right to regulate services, including public services;

16.   Notes that according to the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry bilateral trade in services is expected to exceed EUR 246,8 billion by 2015, by the time the FTA in services will be implemented;

17.   Notes that trade in services between the European Union and India is relatively unbalanced; the EU exports 1.5% of its services to India, while India exports 9,2% of its total exports to the European Union;

18.   Encourages India to develop appropriate data protection legislationwhich would enable India to achieve the status of a country with an adequate level of protectionthereby allowing or enabling the transfer of personal data from the European Unionon the basis of and in compliance with EU legislation;

19.   Notes that India is the fifth largest telecom services market in the world and that the telecom market has grown at a rate of about 25% per year over the last 5 years; welcomes the relaxation of foreign ownership restrictions in telecoms, but regrets that domestic policy restraints still remain; calls therefore for a relaxation of the licensing restrictions on service providers and for the removal of uncertainty concerning the policy on tariff and interconnect regimes, and stresses the need to replace the old laws governing the sector with new forward-looking legislation that incorporates cyber laws and new licensing; considers that the telecom and IT sectors are major drivers of the Indian economy and that India is to be made a hub for telecom manufacturing by facilitating telecom specific Special Economic Zones; stresses that there are enormous opportunities in the manufacturing sector;

20.  Concerning the satellite sector, calls on India to engage in dialogue with, and open its market to, EU companies in order to:

   a) better support national development objectives and meet ever-increasing domestic demand for direct to home television and broadband services, and
   b) overcome security concerns about mobile satellite services with new technical solutions that provide national authorities with more than adequate control over mobile satellite communications;

21.   Welcomes the Indian pledge to allow foreign law firms to operate in India as this opening will bring significant benefits for the Indian economy and legal profession, as well as for European law firms, who have expertise in international law, and for their clients; calls on the Commission to explore with Indian authorities the opportunity and the scope of liberalisation of legal services in the FTA;

22.   Notes that the full ambition of the FTA cannot be fulfilled without commitments in Mode 4; stresses that there are huge benefits from nationwide and EU-wide accreditation of professional qualifications and agreements on mutual recognition and licensing requirements within professional services in both the EU and India, which could be easily covered by the FTA; nevertheless requests a thorough analysis in relation to the individual Member States;

23.   Encourages India to gradually liberalise the banking and insurance sectors;

24.   Encourages India to ensure that the upcoming revised draft postal bill will not reduce current market access opportunities for express service providers, and invites the Commission to seek full commitments from India on express services as well as on self-handling for express cargo carriers at airports, with a view to safeguarding market access opportunities also in the future;

25.   Requests from India a more open approach in granting visas to citizens and business professionals and politicians from Member States, with multiple entries and a minimum one-year duration;

Investment

26.   Calls on the Commission to incorporate a chapter on investment in the FTA which could make provision for a system of a single point of information for investors;

27.   Welcomes the establishment of the European Business and Technology Centre in New Delhi which aims to enhance business-to-business and technology cooperation between India and the Member States;

28.   Recalls that in order for investment to be beneficial it needs to be accompanied by well-designed rules and regulations; reaffirms in this context its resolution of 13 March 2007 on corporate social responsibility: a new partnership(13) ; therefore calls on the Commission to advocate rules for transnational companies in the FTA, designed to ensure that investors respect core ILO standards, social and environmental covenants and international agreements, so as to achieve a balance between economic growth and higher social and environmental standards;

29.   Recalls that, while FTA investment chapters are often accompanied by commitments to liberalise capital movements and renounce capital controls, such clauses should be approached with extreme caution, given the importance of capital controls – especially for developing countries – in mitigating the impact of the financial crisis; urges the EU to promote in international forums greater corporate responsibility among foreign undertakings established in India, and at the same time advocates that an agreement be reached with the Indian Government to set up an effective system for monitoring workers' rights within domestic and foreign companies based in India;

30.   Calls on the Commission to incorporate in the FTA a chapter on investment, being a significant part thereof, thereby enabling the process of investing in each other's markets to become much smoother by promoting and protecting investment deals while exploring immediate opportunities; proposes that such an investment agreement could provide for the setting-up of a system of single-point of information for investors in both economies, explaining to them the differences in investment rules and practices and providing information on all legal aspects;

Public procurement

31.   Regrets that India is not willing to include public procurement in the FTA; calls on the Commission to negotiate effective and transparent procurement systems; calls on India to apply transparent and fair procedures when awarding public contracts and to grant access to public procurement systems for European businesses;

Trade and competition

32.   Encourages the implementation of the new Indian competition law; believes that the European Union should incorporate Articles 81 and 82 of the EC Treaty in the FTA so as to secure commitments on competition policy;

Intellectual property rights, industrial and commercial policy

33.   Welcomes India's firm commitment to a strong IPR regime and to the use of TRIPS flexibilities to meet its public health obligations, particularly in relation to access to medicines; encourages its rigorous implementation and enforcement; calls on the Commission and the Indian authorities concerned to coordinate actions to address effectively the fight against counterfeiting and, in particular, against counterfeit medicines;

34.   Calls on the European Union and India to ensure that commitments under the FTA do not preclude access to essential medicines whilst India is developing its capacity from a generic to a research-based industry;

35.   Calls on the European Union and India to support measures and initiatives such as prize funds, patent pools and other alternative mechanisms in order to support access to and innovation in medicines, particularly for neglected diseases;

Trade and sustainable development

36.   Recognises that a substantial development chapter is an essential part of any FTA and subject to the standard dispute mechanism;

37.   Calls on the European Union and India to ensure that trade and FDI are not encouraged at the cost of lowering environmental, core labour or occupational health and safety legislation and standards, while allowing the adequate monitoring of observation of such standards;

38.   Asks for the ratification and effective application of the basic conventions of the ILO;

39.   Is concerned about the use of child labour in India, which is very often exploited in unsafe and unhealthy conditions; asks the Commission to address the issue during the negotiations on the FTA and asks the Indian Government to maximise its efforts to remove the underlying causes in order to end this phenomenon;

40.   Acknowledges the introduction of a new Indian child labour law, implemented in 2006, which bans children under 14 from working as domestic servants or on food stalls, and calls on the European Union to continue to encourage India to ratify the ILO Convention 182 on the Worst Forms of Child Labour and Conventions 138 concerning the Minimum Age for Admission to Employment and 98 on the Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining, which would signify a positive step towards the eventual abolition of child labour;

41.   Underscores that the European Union should press the Indian Government to tackle the issue of bonded labour, which affects millions of people – largely from the Dalit and Adivasi community (indigenous tribes and peoples) – in India; observes that it is believed that this issue is not being adequately addressed due to a lack of administrative and political will;

42.   Urges the EU to include a provision in its FTA with India which ensures that EU companies making use of Special Economic Zones cannot be exempted from respecting fundamental labour rights or other labour rights based on ILO Conventions that have been ratified by India;

43.   Stresses that human rights and democracy clauses constitute an essential element of the FTA; is concerned by the continuing persecution of religious minorities and human rights defenders in India and the current human rights and security situation in Indian-administered Kashmir;

44.   Calls on the Council, the Commission and India to ensure that the FTA is not harmful to disadvantaged groups such as Dalits and Adivasis, and that the potential benefits of the FTA reach all members of society;

45.   Welcomes the commitments made by the European Union and India to cooperate in civil nuclear research; notes that India is not a signatory to the NPT and was given a waiver by the Nuclear Suppliers Group; calls on India to sign the NPT;

The European Parliament's role

46.   Expects the Council and the Commission to present the FTA to Parliament for assent under the second subparagraph of Article 300(3) of the EC Treaty;

47.   Asks the Council and the Commission to confirm India's commitment to negotiating an EU-FTA with the incoming Indian Government after the forthcoming general election;

Other considerations

48.   Notes the rapid rise in inflation in India; recognises that, in order for India to remain competitive as a growing trading partner with the European Union, it will require substantial investment in infrastructure and a vast increase in power generation capacity; welcomes the government's plan to spend USD 500 billion in this area over the next five years, and calls on private and public bodies to cooperate fully in this huge project;

49.   Welcomes the opening by the Indian Prime Minister of the new Srinagar railway line between Baramulla and Qazigund, which provides many thousands of new jobs for local people; believes that economic initiatives such as this will enhance the prospects of a more prosperous and peaceful future for the Kashmiri people;

50.   Welcomes India's progress in becoming a donor as well as a beneficiary of development aid;

51.   Values progress in cooperation on research and development, including through the EU-funded Framework Programme; welcomes the large numbers of Indian students studying at European universities through the Erasmus Mundus programme;

52.   Points out that, if economic cooperation between the European Union and India is based on the Union's system of universal values, it may set a standard for cooperation with other countries;

53.   Welcomes the launching of the special action for EU-India cultural cooperation for the period 2007-2009, especially in the area of education, student exchange, training and inter-cultural dialogue;

54.   Expresses concern about rising global commodity prices and their effect on the poorest populations, including in India, which pose a challenge to stable growth and increase global inequalities; calls on the European Union and India to coordinate a comprehensive strategy to tackle this issue in an integrated manner;

55.   Welcomes the fact that India has made considerable progress towards achieving universal primary education, improving poverty eradication and increasing access to safe drinking water; notes, however, that India is still off target on most of the health-related MDGs concerning such matters as infant mortality, maternal health, child malnutrition and reducing malaria, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS; is concerned that Dalits and Adivasis (indigenous tribes and peoples) experience the least progress towards achieving the MDGs and continue to face discrimination in relation to access to housing, education, employment, health care and other services;

56.   Notes that, despite sustained economic growth, vast inequalities still persist, with more than 800 million people surviving on less than USD 2 a day; is particularly concerned about the situation of underprivileged sections of the population, in particular women, children, marginalised groups and victims of discrimination such as the Dalits and Adivasis, and the rural population; stresses the need to ensure that the FTA would not restrict powers needed by the Indian Government to address poverty and inequality; calls on the Council and the Commission to work together with the Indian Government to improve the situation of those groups and to examine future cooperation as to their contribution towards ending gender and caste discrimination with reference to its above-mentioned resolution on the human rights situation of the Dalits in India;

57.   Stresses that increasing environmental destruction in India is a constantly growing problem with unimaginable economic, social and environmental consequences, particularly for the large number of Indians living in poverty, and thus stresses the particular need for continued EU cooperation with India in this field;

58.   Is impressed by the development effects of economic growth in some regions of India, and calls on the Commission to support research into the main patterns and underlying national and sub-national policies responsible for such effects, in order to facilitate cross-regional learning and best practices;

59.   Welcomes India's commitment to increase the share of its public spending on health, and encourages this trend with a view to ensuring adequate access to effective healthcare, particularly in rural areas;

60.   Considers that the EU must pay special attention to the small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) sector in India, and therefore suggests that in all development cooperation programmes between the European Union and India, SMEs could be strengthened through measures to help finance market-driven local projects proposed by citizens;

61.   Welcomes the emergence of the spread of microcredit throughout India, which has gained recognition as an effective way of creating grassroots-led development;

o
o   o

62.   Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission and the governments and parliaments of the Member States and of India.

(1) OJ C 285 E, 22.11.2006, p. 79.
(2) OJ C 293 E, 2.12.2006, p. 155.
(3) OJ C 227 E, 21.9.2006, p. 589.
(4) DGExP/B/PolDep/Study/2005/06.
(5) OJ C 306 E, 15.12.2006, p. 400.
(6) OJ C 175 E, 10.7.2008, p. 591.
(7) OJ C 290 E, 29.11.2006, p. 107.
(8) OJ C 250 E, 25.10.2007, p. 87.
(9) OJ C 102 E, 24.4.2008, p. 128.
(10) Texts adopted, P6_TA(2008)0407 .
(11) Texts adopted, P6_TA(2008)0366 .
(12) Texts adopted, P6_TA(2008)0455 .
(13) OJ C 301 E, 13.12.2007, p. 45.


Social responsibility of subcontracting undertakings in production chains
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European Parliament resolution of 26 March 2009 on the social responsibility of subcontracting undertakings in production chains (2008/2249(INI) )
P6_TA(2009)0190 A6-0065/2009

The European Parliament ,

–   having regard to Article 31(1) of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union,

–   having regard to Articles 39, 49, 50 and 137 of the EC Treaty,

–   having regard to Council Directive 94/45/EC of 22 September 1994 on the establishment of a European Works Council or a procedure in Community-scale undertakings and Community-scale groups of undertakings for the purposes of informing and consulting employees(1) ,

–   having regard to Directive 2002/14/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 March 2002 establishing a general framework for informing and consulting employees in the European Community(2) ,

–   having regard to the proposal for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council providing for sanctions against employers of illegally staying third-country nationals (COM(2007)0249 ),

–   having regard to its resolution of 26 October 2006 on the application of Directive 96/71/EC on the posting of workers(3) and its resolution of 11 July 2007 on the posting of workers in the framework of the provision of services(4) ,

–   having regard to the OECD's Guidelines for multinational enterprises,

–   having regard to the ILO's tripartite declaration of principles concerning multinational enterprises and social policy,

–   having regard to its resolution of 15 November 2005 on the social dimension of globalisation(5) ,

–   having regard to its resolution of 13 March 2007 on corporate social responsibility: a new partnership(6) ,

–   having regard to its resolution of 23 May 2007 on promoting decent work for all(7) ,

–   having regard to its resolution of 9 October 2008 on stepping up the fight against undeclared work(8) ,

–   having regard to its resolution of 11 July 2007 on modernising labour law to meet the challenges of the 21st century(9) ,

–   having regard to the judgment of the Court of Justice of the European Communities of 12 October 2004 in Case C-60/03 Wolff & Müller (10) ,

–   having regard to the study conducted by the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions entitled "Liability in subcontracting processes in the European construction sector",

–   having regard to Rule 45 of its Rules of Procedure,

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs (A6-0065/2009 ),

A.   whereas subcontracting can be regarded as an integral part of economic activity,

B.   whereas the unprecedented rate of economic activity over the last quarter of a century has played a major role in raising employment levels across most economies of the European Union and whereas that development has benefited large and small undertakings and has also encouraged entrepreneurship,

C.   whereas globalisation and its corollary of increased competition are bringing about changes in the ways in which undertakings organise themselves, including as regards the outsourcing of non-strategic activities, the creation of networks and increased recourse to subcontracting,

D.   whereas, as a result, the complexity of the links between parent companies and their subsidiaries and between main contractors and their subcontractors makes it more difficult clearly to perceive the diverse structures, operations and policies as well as the responsibilities or liability of the various actors in the production chain,

E.   whereas those changes have had far-reaching consequences for labour relations and sometimes make it difficult clearly to determine the branch of law applying to the relationships between the various elements of a production chain, and whereas, as a consequence, the pricing and allocation of labour is no longer governed by the industry's regulatory framework,

F.   whereas the production process in several industries nowadays takes the form of a fragmented chain of production that has lengthened and broadened, a chain constituting a logistical chain (both horizontal and vertical), as well as a value-chain of an economic and productive nature with single specialities or tasks often "externalised" to small businesses or self-employed workers, and whereas the effect in company accounts is a substitution of direct labour costs by subcontracting, services or supplier costs based on invoices and "commercial contracts for services",

G.   whereas subcontractors are often played off against each other and whereas, therefore, the employees of both the issuer of the invitation to tender and of the subcontractors come under pressure as regards their working conditions,

H.   whereas Parliament has previously highlighted problems associated with the falsely self-employed and whereas that problem is also in evidence in the case of subcontractors,

I.   whereas subcontracting and outsourcing to legally independent firms does not lead to independence, and companies at a lower level in the value chain, with the exception of specialised subcontractors with high-tech or other sophisticated activity, are often not in a position to act on an equal footing with main contractors,

J.   whereas, although subcontracting has many positive aspects and has allowed for increased production capacity, it is also generating some economic and social imbalances among workers and might foster a race to the bottom in working conditions, which is a matter of concern,

K.   whereas subcontracting may also be carried out by pure intermediaries, manpower firms or temporary work agencies, for example, which sometimes operate as so-called letterbox companies, and whereas in many cases only a single contract is awarded or workers are hired only for that specific purpose; whereas such practices highlight the rapidly changing nature of the construction industry and other sectors in which employment relationships are often precarious,

L.   whereas, in a cross-border context, the problems linked to this precarious situation are compounded when, for example, workers are posted to a third Member State,

M.   whereas employment relations in the construction sector have been redefined and, at the same time, have reduced the direct social responsibility of the "principal contractor", as labour has been externalised by the use of subcontractors and employment agencies, making the supply of cheap, often unskilled labour an integral part of lower level subcontracting,

N.   whereas some sectors, in particular the construction sector, have been particularly vulnerable to abuses in their often complicated subcontracting chains,

O.   whereas the basic principle of equal pay for equal work in the same place must apply to all employees, regardless of their status and the nature of their contracts, and that principle must be enforced,

1.   Calls on public authorities and all stakeholders to do their utmost to increase the level of awareness among workers of their rights under the various instruments (such as labour law, collective agreements, codes of conduct) that regulate their employment relationship and working conditions in the undertakings for which they work and the contractual relationships in subcontracting chains;

2.   Calls on the Commission to raise awareness of good practices, existing guidelines and standards and social responsibility practices among undertakings, be they main contractors or subcontractors;

3.   Reiterates its invitation to the Commission to put forward a proposal on applying the decent work agenda to workers in subcontracting undertakings and, in particular, on compliance with core labour standards, social rights, employee training and equal treatment;

4.   Stresses the importance of subcontracting undertakings in production chains using new technologies in order to improve the quality of both production and jobs;

5.   Calls on national public authorities to adopt or further develop legal provisions which exclude undertakings from public procurement, where they are found to have infringed labour law, collective agreements or codes of conduct;

6.   Welcomes the adoption of a transnational legal framework, agreed between individual multinational enterprises and global union federations, designed to protect labour standards in multinational enterprises and their subcontractors and affiliates across different countries and which defines the status of the dependent worker and provides social protection irrespective of specific employment conditions;

7.   Takes note of the judgement in the case of Wolff & Müller , in which the Court of Justice held that the German national liability scheme did not infringe Community law but was, instead, intended to ensure the protection of workers posted abroad;

8.   Takes note of the outcome of the public consultation on the Commission's Green Paper "Modernising labour law to meet the challenges of the 21st century" (COM(2006)0708 ); encourages in this regard the Commission's intention to take the necessary steps to clarify the rights and obligations of the parties involved in subcontracting chains to avoid depriving workers of their ability to make effective use of their rights;

9.   Welcomes the fact that eight Member States (Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain) have responded to the problems connected with the duties of subcontractors as employers by establishing national liability schemes; encourages other Member States to consider introducing similar schemes; highlights the fact, however, that implementing the rules in cross-border subcontracting processes is particularly difficult when Member States have different systems in place;

10.   Stresses that the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions' study states that a narrow scope of liability, such as a limitation to only one element of the chain, is one of the reasons why arrangements are ineffective;

11.   Emphasises the particular challenges faced by small businesses; calls on policymakers to develop appropriate tools to raise awareness among small businesses;

12.   Reminds all stakeholders that, in its resolution of 26 October 2006 on the posting of workers, Parliament called on the Commission to regulate the joint and several liability of the general or principal undertakings, in order to deal with abuses in the subcontracting and outsourcing of cross-border workers, and to set up a transparent and competitive internal market for all companies;

13.   Reiterates its message by calling on the Commission to establish a clear-cut Community legal instrument introducing joint and several liability at Community level, while respecting the different legal systems in place in the Member States and the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality;

14.   Calls on the Commission to launch an impact assessment on the added value and feasibility of a Community instrument on chain liability as a way of increasing transparency in subcontracting processes and of securing better enforcement of Community and national law; emphasises that such a study should be cross-sectoral;

15.   Is convinced that a Community instrument on chain liability would benefit not only employees, but also Member State authorities, employers and, in particular, SMEs in their fight against the grey economy, as clear, transparent Community rules would drive dubious operators out of the market, thus improving the functioning of the internal market;

16.   Notes that all measures that inform employees about their rights and support them in the exercise thereof make a vital contribution to fostering corporate social responsibility; calls on the Member States to ensure, as a matter of principle, that employees are informed of their rights;, regards the social partners as having a particular responsibility in that connection;

17.   Calls on the Commission to intensify its efforts to promote more and better cooperation and coordination between national administrative bodies, inspectorates, government enforcement agencies, social security authorities and tax authorities; calls, furthermore, on Member States to introduce more stringent inspection procedures and to favour closer links between national labour inspectorates, thus allowing for increased cooperation and coordination among them; calls on the Commission to develop quality standards for labour inspectorates and to carry out a feasibility study of possible arrangements for establishing a Community network of labour inspectorates;

18.   Stresses the need to promote incentives for companies to make every reasonable effort in good faith to eliminate labour law infringements by subcontractors, such as systems of certification and codes of conduct, including reporting to the authorities and terminating a contract with a subcontractor which engages in illegal practice in order to avoid the possibility of being held jointly and severally liable for that infringement;

19.   Invites both sides of the industry to take the lead in the promotion of cooperative subcontracting for specific one-off tasks on the one hand, and for the restriction of the multiplication of subcontracting on the other, and welcomes the development of framework agreements that define social responsibility and liability in the chain as a complement to the necessary regulation;

20.   Warns against conflicts and overlapping between, and duplication of, provisions found in codes of conduct and in labour law, codes of conduct, standards and guidelines adopted by public authorities and collective agreements in force; for this reason, emphasises the need for undertakings to adhere, as a matter of priority, to codes of conduct, standards and guidelines drafted at the level of supranational organisations (OECD, ILO), or at national or sectoral levels;

21.   Reminds all stakeholders, and in particular employers, of their obligations with regard to information, consultation and participation of workers, notably those provided for in Community and national legal instruments;

22.   Proposes that the possibility of reconciling family life with work be safeguarded in law at national level for workers in subcontracting undertakings in production chains and that the directives on maternity and parental leave be effectively implemented;

23.   Calls on the Commission to ensure effective compliance with Directive 96/71/EC, including, if necessary, launching infringement procedures; furthermore, calls on both the Commission and the Member States to adopt measures aimed at improving access to information by posted workers, reinforcing coordination and administrative cooperation among Member States, including clarifying the role of Member States liaison offices, and solving cross-border enforcement problems that hamper the effective implementation of Directive 96/71/EC;

24.   Stresses that more effective measures can be taken to counter the potential negative social consequences of subcontracting by improving enhanced social dialogue between employers" organisations and trade unions;

25.   Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council and the Commission, and to the governments and the parliaments of the Member States.

(1) OJ L 254, 30.9.1994, p. 64.
(2) OJ L 80, 23.3.2002, p. 29.
(3) OJ C 313 E, 20.12.2006, p. 452.
(4) OJ C 175 E, 10.7.2008, p. 411.
(5) OJ C 280 E, 18.11.2006, p. 65.
(6) OJ C 301 E, 13.12.2007, p. 45.
(7) OJ C 102 E, 24.4.2008, p. 321.
(8) Texts adopted, P6_TA(2008)0466 .
(9) OJ C 175 E, 10.7.2008, p. 401.
(10) Case C-60/03 Wolff & Müller [2004] ECR I-9553.


Food prices in Europe
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European Parliament resolution of 26 March 2009 on food prices in Europe (2008/2175(INI) )
P6_TA(2009)0191 A6-0094/2009

The European Parliament ,

–   having regard to Article 33 of the EC Treaty,

–   having regard to the Commission Communication of 9 December 2008 entitled "Food prices in Europe" (COM(2008)0821 ),

–   having regard to its study of 20 October 2007 entitled "The gap between producer prices and the prices paid by the consumer",

–   having regard to the Commission study of 28 November 2006 entitled "Competitiveness of the European Food Industry. An economic and legal assessment",

–   having regard to the Commission Communication of 20 May 2008 entitled "Tackling the challenge of rising food prices – Directions for EU action" (COM(2008)0321 ),

–   having regard to its Declaration of 19 February 2008 on investigating and remedying the abuse of power by large supermarkets operating in the European Union(1) ,

–   having regard to the Opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee of 7 April 2005 entitled "The large retail sector – trends and impacts on farmers and consumers"(2) ,

–   having regard to the Commission Green Paper of 22 January 1997 entitled "Vertical Restraints in EC Competition Policy" (COM(1996)0721 ),

–   having regard to its resolution of 25 October 2007 on rising feed and food prices(3) ,

–   having regard to the ongoing "health check" of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP),

–   having regard to Rule 45 of its Rules of Procedure,

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development (A6-0094/2009 ),

A.   whereas the European Union and the world have recently experienced high food-price volatility with sometimes significant price rises and ambiguous effects on the agricultural sector, with some gaining from the rise in prices and others – mostly stockbreeding farms and companies on the food-processing side – incurring much greater costs,

B.   whereas there has also been a considerable rise in agricultural production costs, as a result of the increased cost of materials such as fertilisers and phytosanitary products, and whereas despite the fact that at present prices at source have fallen steeply, this decrease is not going hand in hand with a fall, at the same level and across the same period, in production costs,

C.   whereas the fall in the prices of agricultural products, which is not matched by a fall in production costs, is putting farmers in an unsustainable financial situation, and many of them are abandoning production because it is unprofitable,

D.   whereas it has been found in various Member States that large manufacturers have set widely differing prices for the same products,

E.   whereas considerable price differences have been identified across the European Union with regard to the spread between consumer and producer prices, which in some cases cannot be explained by the costs involved in the processing, distribution and selling of products,

F.   whereas the entire supply chain must be taken into account when analysing prices and their evolution; whereas the food sector is fragmented and the supply chain highly complex, comprising many intermediaries,

G.   whereas some major processors have increased their market share in recent years,

H.   whereas in recent years there have been significant changes in the competitive structure of the food supply chain and increases in the degree of concentration among both food producers and wholesalers and retailers,

I.   whereas evidence from across the European Union suggests that big supermarkets use their buying power to force down prices paid to suppliers to unsustainable levels and impose unfair conditions upon them; whereas large retailers across the European Union are fast becoming "gatekeepers", controlling farmers" and other suppliers" access to consumers,

J.   whereas consumer prices in the European Union are on average up to five times the farm gate price; whereas farmers in Europe received approximately half of the retail price of food fifty years ago and today that proportion - in conjunction with a marked rise in the degree to which food is processed - has dropped dramatically,

K.   whereas, although the funding of the CAP has contributed over the years to securing low consumer prices, it is noticeable that consumer prices remain high or are not falling despite the fall in prices in the agricultural sector,

L.   whereas a high degree of EU self-sufficiency is strategically desirable; whereas in this framework efforts must be made to achieve a strong position for EU primary producers as our food suppliers,

M.   whereas the imbalance in bargaining power between agricultural producers and the rest of the supply chain has resulted in strong pressure being maintained on producer margins in the agricultural sector,

1.   Considers that, in accordance with the EC Treaty, it is in the EU public interest to maintain an adequate level of producer and consumer prices and to ensure fair competition, especially with regard to strategic merchandise such as agricultural and food products;

2.   Believes that, while competition provides consumers with food at competitive prices, farmers must be provided with a stable income by prices which cover their production costs and fair remuneration for their work, not least to ensure a secure supply of good-quality food;

3.   Considers that a broad series of factors influence the price transmission mechanism and the gap between producer and consumer prices; names among these factors the marketing behaviour of operators along the supply chain, including manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers, the share of non-agricultural costs (such as energy and labour), legislative and regulatory frameworks, the perishable nature of the product, the degree of product processing, marketing and handling or consumer purchasing preferences;

4.   Considers that, among factors that most influence the price transmission mechanism and the gap between consumer and producer prices, increasing concentration along the whole of the food supply chain, the degree of product processing and price rises linked to other external cost factors, as well as speculation with agricultural commodities play a determining role; reaffirms, therefore, the importance of market regulation instruments, which are more necessary than ever in the current climate;

5.   Agrees with the Commission that trends in supply and demand and operational shortcomings in the food supply chain have played a significant role in increasing food prices; stresses, however, that a significant role has also been played by speculation on the financial markets, which has created distortions in the price formation mechanism;

6.   Calls on the Commission to launch as soon as possible an investigation, in the form of a study, into the margin share in the production and distribution chains, as provided for in the 2009 budget on the basis of an earlier proposal by its Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development during the budget procedure; considers that this would be a first step towards increased transparency within the chain;

7.   Deplores the ongoing dismantling of EU intervention measures in the agricultural market, which is making a decisive contribution to the extreme volatility of prices; believes that new market management measures need to be brought in to guarantee greater stability for producers" incomes and to offer consumers acceptable prices;

8.   Believes that, within the framework of the CAP, market management measures are called for to provide stability for the agricultural sector and the agri-food market, and to maintain sustainable EU agricultural production at reasonable prices, avoiding a "see-saw" effect on both sale prices and production factors;

9.   Considers that, although the Commission's comparison between the the European Union and USA in terms of productivity is appropriate, it cannot constitute the absolute basis for the ideal measure of productivity in the food sector (particularly agricultural production and processing) in the European Union; stresses that the agriculture and food industry in the European Union differs significantly from that in the USA both in terms of the commodities and sectors which it covers and the conditions and rules by which it is governed;

10.   Considers that strengthening the competitiveness and innovation capacity of the primary agricultural sector must be encouraged, as this would lead to greater diversification possibilities for primary producers in managing their holdings, and dependency on other players in the production and distribution chain would decrease;

11.   Believes that the concentration of agricultural production supply by means of producers" organisations, cooperatives or other similar bodies, would make it possible to shift the balance of power within the food chain, by increasing farmers" negotiating strength, giving greater added value to their products, and shortening marketing channels to consumers;

Food market imperfections

12.   Draws attention to the fact that large market power pays off in particular in the agri-food sector, given the price inelasticity of agricultural supply on the one hand and consumer demand on the other;

13.   Is concerned by marketing practices such as the selling below cost of goods in order to generate an increase in supermarket visits; supports a prohibition on the selling of food below cost and supports Member States that have already introduced such measures; wishes to see more EU action taken against such aggressive pricing measures, as well as other anti-competitive practices such as product tying or any other abuse of market dominance;

14.   Believes that pricing below cost, while not viable in itself for any enterprise, can only be applied by big (diversified) enterprises for a short period of time and only to drive their competitors out of the market; considers that, in the long term, such practice benefits neither consumers nor the market as a whole;

15.   Is further concerned by other instances where the trade sector makes use of its market power, including excessive payment deadlines, listing charges, slotting allowances, threats of delisting, retroactive discounts on goods already sold, unjustified contributions to retailer promotion expenses or insistence on exclusive supply;

16.   Stresses that, in some Member States, both the buying and the selling side of the market tend to be equally concentrated, thus aggravating the distorting effect on the market;

17.   Stresses that in light of the CAP reform and in particular decoupling, farmer decisions on what to produce will be influenced more by signals coming from the market, which must not be disrupted by overconcentration in the retail sector; believes that the increase of EU food imports is likely to reduce farm prices;

18.   Draws attention to the fact that it is possible for retailers to take advantage of labels such as "fair trade" in order to increase profit margins; calls, therefore, with a view to curbing such practices and controlling the use of such labels, for a strategy to support and develop fair trade throughout the European Union;

19.   Acknowledges that, in the short term, the effects of market concentration at the various levels of the food supply chain can lead to lower price levels for food but that, in the medium and long term, care must be taken to ensure that this does not damage free competition, drive small producers out of the market and limit consumer choice;

20.   Draws attention to the fact that many SMEs in the food sector are extremely vulnerable especially if they are dependent to a great extent on one large operator; notes that large operators in the food supply chain often employ "race to the bottom" price competitions between several suppliers and, in order to stay in business, small companies need to cut costs and margins, which translates into reduced payments to farmers, reduced market access and distribution channels for SMEs, fewer employees, and lower quality products for consumers;

21.   Is worried by the increased level of speculation with food, as observed on the financial markets; calls on the Commission to launch an investigation into this matter; awaits the conclusions of the High Level Group on the Competitiveness of the Agri-Food Industry and encourages this Group to propose effective measures to address the imbalances in the market;

22.   Maintains its reservations concerning the Commission's conclusions that speculation on the financial markets has not played a significant role in the process of price formation; considers that the Commission should take initiatives to strengthen monitoring of the futures markets in basic agricultural commodities;

23.  Considers that the Commission is restricted at present to a partial reading of the available data since it does not take account of the possible impact of speculative investment in futures, such as:

   the increase in price for end buyers (producers and consumers) resulting from the creation of false expectations of price trends,
   the creation of disincentives and additional uncertainty for early-stage and small producer enterprises reliant on agricultural products, resulting, possibly, in the creation of obstacles to market entry and impediments to the process of strengthening competition on certain markets,
   the inequitable (social and geographical) redistribution of the surplus from the sale of agricultural products to the detriment of farmers/producers and to the benefit of middlemen and speculators;

24.   Stresses that, in contrast to the Commission's estimation, there is a more urgent need to consider new regulatory provisions for the futures markets, as there are indications that speculation already creates problems in the pricing of basic foods and, therefore, for the markets and producer enterprises which are reliant thereon;

25.   Considers that the Commission has, during the last five years, improved its supervision of cartels, both through the introduction of better competition legislation and implementation of existing legislation; considers that measures such as leniency applications, the settlement procedure and forensic IT have made an important contribution; considers, however, that there are still improvements to be made with regard both to their content and their implementation by the Member States;

26.   Draws the attention of the Commissioner for Competition to Parliament's above-mentioned declaration on investigating and remedying the abuse of power by large supermarkets operating in the European Union; is disappointed that the Commission has not taken heed of this call; calls in this connection for an investigation into market concentration and cartels in the retail sector and for penalties in the event of irregularities;

27.   Calls on the Commission to analyse, in its annual reports, the gap between producer and consumer prices, differences between prices in the Member States and differences in prices between various agricultural products;

28.   Notes that large-scale enterprises generate clear and well-known economic benefits (economies of scale and scope), leading to lower costs and therefore lower prices; stresses, however, that a policy to improve the food supply chain should encourage the creation of operational schemes (for example clusters, networks, and inter-branch organisations) to enable the agricultural sector to benefit from these advantages so as to put undertakings at subsequent stages in a position to withstand pressure on their profit margins;

29.   Is deeply concerned that, in the survey of the main practices which cause competition problems in the food supply chain, the above-mentioned Commission Communication on food prices in Europe fails to include the abuse of the dominant position observed at the retail stage and also, to a certain extent, at the wholesale stage; considers that anti-competitive practices employed by undertakings with a large market share, such as exclusivity agreements, or a product tying obligation, constitute a serious setback in terms of fair competition in the food supply chain;

European Union role
Reacting to market imbalances

30.   Endorses the Commission's decision to propose an efficient EU market-monitoring system, which is able to register price trends and costs of inputs across the whole supply chain; believes that this system should ensure transparency and permit cross-border comparisons between similar products; considers that this system must be established in close cooperation with Eurostat and national statistical authorities and should work with the network of European Consumer Centres (ECC); refers to the principle that additional costs and burdens should be kept within reasonable limits;

31.   Calls on the Commission to establish a Community legal framework which will include, amongst other measures, the in-depth revision of Directive 2000/35/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 29 June 2000 on combating late payments in commercial transactions(4) and will encourage balanced relations between the various agents in the food chain, by preventing all abusive practices and encouraging a fairer distribution of profit margins;

32.   Calls on competition authorities at national and EU level to investigate and evaluate consumer prices throughout the European Union to ensure that competition rules are respected, and to ascertain the responsibility of the various operators who comprise the value chain; stresses that downward price movements must be passed on to the consumer in the short term, while upward movements must be passed on more quickly to the producer;

33.   States that greater transparency regarding cost structure can be achieved through the creation of an EU-wide database, which is easily accessible to citizens, and which contains reference prices of products and inputs, together with information on the costs of energy, pay, rents, duties and taxes from across the entire European Union; calls on the Commission to draw up plans for such an electronic system, based on existing national models, such as the French 'observatoires des prix'; considers, further, that it is also necessary to create, in cooperation with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), an international observatory for agricultural product, input and food prices in order to monitor this data better at international level;

34.   Calls on the various players in the production and distribution chain to work together to develop "best practices" or "scoreboards" to promote price transparency for agricultural products;

35.   Calls on Member State authorities and the Commission to provide detailed research and analysis into price transmission and the margins which apply between the farm gate and the final consumer price, together with an analysis of the location and number of supermarkets, their turnover, and also their specific costs in terms of logistics and energy expenditure; calls on Member State authorities and the Commission to examine whether the criteria for establishing a dominant position in a market are still adequate considering the developments in the retail market; calls for the reinstatement of a Commission task force on the food supply chain, working together with national competition authorities;

36.   Notes that one of the causes of the difference between prices at source and at destination is an imbalance in the food chain, and that, despite this, the European Union lacks adequate measures to encourage producers" organisations, through cooperatives or other organisations, to promote supply concentration; calls on the Commission to establish measures, both within the CAP and in other EU policies, to encourage such organisations, which will result in a better organisation of the market and increased negotiating strength for producers vis-à-vis the other links in the food chain;

37.   Proposes that national competition authorities, which have a broad role under Community legislation with regard to monitoring the operation of competition at all stages of the food supply chain, strengthen their cooperation under the coordination of the Commission, through the open method of coordination with regard to monitoring production costs and trade, in order to ensure the proper functioning of the internal market;

38.   Takes the view that, since the retail trade is influenced mainly by national legal, economic, political and cultural factors, it would be useful, within the framework of the European Competition Network (ECN) to conduct a greater exchange of information and, possibly, coordination among Member States to investigate anti-competitive practices by companies operating at intra-EU level;

39.   Calls, within the framework of the Lisbon Strategy, for support to be given to national schemes aimed at reducing or withdrawing unjustified regulatory interventions in the retail sector which would restrict competition and the smooth operation of the food supply chain at consumers' expense;

40.   Takes the view that the leniency programme should be employed both at national and at EU level, so that the competent competition authorities can learn about more anti-competitive practices in the food supply chain;

41.   Points out that, apart from Community competition rules, there are many other policies at EU level governing the operation of the retail trade, which include, inter alia, Community single market rules and Community consumer legislation; stresses that all these policies should converge and be centrally coordinated at EU level so as to achieve the best possible results at consumer price level;

42.   Stresses the fact that the responses to the current food crisis should also take place at international level; calls for the creation of an international network around the FAO to ensure sufficient world food stocks;

43.   Calls on the Commission to negotiate a World Trade Organization agreement that gives the agricultural sector sufficient scope to be able to compete with third countries; considers that inclusion of non-trade concerns is of critical importance here, in order to preserve and uphold EU production standards;

44.   Calls for crisis reserves and storage to be set up at EU level for certain basic foodstuffs, along the same lines as for oil products;

45.   Calls for the introduction of mechanisms to combat speculation in the financial markets with agricultural commodities and financial instruments based on those commodities; supports the Commission's intention to examine what measures could be taken to contribute to a reduction in price volatility in agricultural commodity markets;

46.   Calls for measures in support of cooperation between small agricultural producers so that they are able to compete with large producers, processors and retailers; considers that Member States and the European Union need to ensure the existence of various forms of commerce and avoid a total liberalisation of the food market that would lead to further concentration; calls on the Commission to launch a Green Paper on strengthening producer organisations, efficient chain approaches, and the market power of large retailers;

47.   Calls on the Commission to monitor food imports more closely for compliance with EU hygiene and environmental standards, in particular, so that imported products do not expose EU consumers to greater risks;

48.   Believes that it is necessary to encourage a greater concentration of agricultural supply by supporting the various legal types of association, with a view to adjusting the balance of power within the food chain, give farmers" production added value and increase their negotiating strength vis-à-vis other commercial agents;

49.   Calls for the reinstatement of a European Food Producer Consulting Service giving advice to farmers and producer organisations on product distribution, the retail market and opportunities for the production of specific products;

50.   Calls for the creation of a telephone hotline for consumers and agricultural producers, where they can report instances of abuse, and where information on comparable products and prices from across the European Union can be made available; considers that this should be established and function within national ECCs;

51.   Welcomes the introduction of the Consumer Market Scoreboard as a tool to better monitor the internal market and to provide more information to the consumer;

52.   Is concerned about the influence of intermediaries in the final consumer price; calls on the Commission to launch an analysis of the supply chain in order to gain a better understanding of the role of each operator involved in the price formation chain;

Bringing the producer closer to the consumer

53.   Calls for the introduction of policies that sponsor wider and more direct contact between producers and consumers, such as the recently adopted European School Fruit Programme, as this can provide producers with a more relevant role in the market, while at the same time offering consumers a better and wider choice of products; one such policy would be the creation and promotion of areas for the direct marketing of products by producers;

54.   Calls on the Commission to take action to facilitate mergers and cooperation between producers" organisations such as cooperatives, thus avoiding bureaucratic burdens and other restrictions, with a view to increasing the size of producers" organisations so that they can adapt to the supply conditions demanded by the globalised market;

55.   Considers that wider and better information to consumers is paramount, in order to encourage confidence in the system, and all efforts should be taken towards educating and correctly informing the consumer and providing them with neutral information;

56.   Requests that when information is being provided to consumers, particular stress be laid on the efforts made by EU producers to meet Community rules on the environment, food safety and animal wellbeing;

57.   Stresses that consumer protection policy covers not only prices but also food variety and quality; proposes, therefore, that the Commission investigate under which operating conditions in the food supply chain, in particular in the retail sector, a loss of quality and variety in products can be observed;

58.   Notes the added value of local retailer shops that provide an important contribution to bridge the gap between producers and consumers and also improve the quality of life in rural areas by creating work opportunities and reinforcing existing social links;

59.   Considers that the use of new technologies and the internet should be widely promoted; stresses that new technologies can be used to provide more information about the place, price and characteristics of the different product varieties; believes that this can better match niche demand and can offer a wider choice to the consumer; is in favour of using EU rural development, competitiveness and cohesion funds for facilitating producer access to the market through modern technology and the internet;

60.   Calls for measures to be put in place that give more impetus to the concept of "local foods", and especially actions to promote, and inform consumers on, the special characteristics of such products and their health benefits and financial advantages, as well as support for traditional markets and traditional types of commerce in which producers meet consumers directly;

61.   Calls for the European Union and the Member States to give greater encouragement to the organic sector; calls, furthermore, for an ambitious policy of financial incentives to encourage this type of agricultural production and enable consumers to obtain high-quality products at reasonable prices;

62.   Urges reinforcement of cooperation between producers either by following the traditional format of producer organisations or by introducing new forms of cooperation in marketing operations of farmers;

63.   Calls for greater promotion of the differentiation of agricultural products as a marketing concept, which leaves room for different prices, in accordance with quality;

64.   Is concerned at the fact that the negotiating strength of food producers at the expense of retailers, due to a strong brand name or product differentiation, acquires a disproportionately negative significance in the above-mentioned Commission Communication on food prices in Europe, compared to other very much more important factors such as imperfect competition or oligopolistic/monopolistic practices; takes the view that the creation of a strong brand name or product differentiation are legitimate practices and that it is only the abuse of the position which these practices may confer that constitutes unfair practice;

65.   Calls for the reinforcement and streamlining of EU policies for the protection of origin and geographical indications and other certifications, which differentiate among agricultural products; welcomes, in this regard, the debate launched by the release on 15 October 2008 of the Green Paper on Agricultural Product Quality: product standards, farming requirements and quality schemes (COM(2008)0641 );

66.   Takes the view that the option of a special label on EU agricultural products should be explored in greater depth, based on existing models; considers that this label should guarantee compliance with EU production standards, such as fair treatment of market participants throughout the entire production and distribution chain; considers, further, that such a label would act as a stimulus to consumers, encouraging their consumption of EU products, and hence supporting EU producers;

67.   Urges the Commission to evaluate the costs borne by producers in complying with Community rules on cross-compliance and the extent to which these differ between Member States, bearing in mind that those rules are more stringent than those applicable to imported products;

o
o   o

68.   Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council and the Commission.

(1) Texts adopted, P6_TA(2008)0054 .
(2) OJ C 255, 14.10.2005, p. 44.
(3) OJ C 263 E, 16.10.2008, p. 621.
(4) OJ L 200, 8.8.2000, p. 35.


Impact of extensive urbanisation in Spain on individual rights of European citizens, on the environment and on the application of EU law
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European Parliament resolution of 26 March 2009 on the impact of extensive urbanisation in Spain on individual rights of European citizens, on the environment and on the application of EU law, based upon petitions received (2008/2248(INI) )
P6_TA(2009)0192 A6-0082/2009

The European Parliament ,

–   having regard to the petitions received in connection with the subject-matter of this resolution, notably Petition 0609/03,

–   having regard to the right of petition enshrined in Article 194 of the EC Treaty,

–   having regard to Rule 192(1) of its Rules of Procedure,

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on Petitions and the opinion of the Committee on Legal Affairs (A6-0082/2009 ),

A.   whereas the petitions process provides European citizens and residents with a means of obtaining non-judicial redress for their grievances when these concern issues arising from the fields of activity of the European Union,

B.   whereas Article 6(1) of the Treaty on European Union states that "[t]he Union is founded on the principles of liberty, democracy, respect for human rights and the rule of law, principles which are common to the Member States",

C.   whereas in Article 6(2) of the EU Treaty the Union commits itself to respect fundamental rights as guaranteed by the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (the ECHR),

D.   whereas any citizen or resident of a state signatory to the ECHR who considers that his/her human rights have been violated should approach the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, bearing in mind that before bringing any proceedings before that Court he/she must exhaust all domestic remedies, as is laid down in Article 35 of the ECHR,

E.   whereas Article 7 of the EU Treaty provides for procedures whereby the Union can respond to breaches of the principles mentioned in Article 6(1) and seek solutions,

F.   whereas Article 7 of the EU Treaty also gives Parliament the right to make a reasoned proposal to the Council for determination of the question whether there is a clear risk of a serious breach by a Member State of the values on which the Union is founded,

G.   whereas Article 7 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union guarantees the protection of privacy and family life, including the private home of citizens, and whereas Article 8 of the ECHR confers the same rights and clarifies that "[t]here shall be no interference by a public authority with the exercise of this right except such as is in accordance with the law and is necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security, public safety or the economic well-being of the country, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others"; whereas Parliament, the Council and the Commission have committed themselves to respecting the Charter in all their activities,

H.   whereas the right to private property is recognised as a fundamental right of European citizens in Article 17 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights, which provides that "[e]veryone has the right to own, use, dispose of and bequeath his or her lawfully acquired possessions", that "[n]o one may be deprived of his or her possessions, except in the public interest and in the cases and under the conditions provided for by law, subject to fair compensation being paid in good time for their loss", and that "[t]he use of property may be regulated by law in so far as is necessary for the general interest",

I.   whereas Article 18 of the EC Treaty provides that "[e]very citizen of the Union shall have the right to move and reside freely within the territory of the Member States, subject to the limitations and conditions laid down in this Treaty and the measures adopted to give it effect",

J.   whereas according to Article 295, the EC Treaty "shall in no way prejudice the rules in Member States governing the system of property ownership"; whereas, according to the case-law of the Court of Justice, that provision merely recognises the power of Member States to define the rules governing the system of property ownership; and whereas the case-law of the Court of Justice has confirmed that the competence of Member States in this respect must always be applied in conjunction with the fundamental principles of Community law, such as the free movement of goods, persons, services and capital (see the judgment of 22 June 1976 in Case C-119/75 Terrapin v Terranova [1976] ECR 1039),

K.   whereas, however, the Court of Justice has consistently held that, whilst the right to property forms part of the general principles of Community law, it is not an absolute right and must be viewed in relation to its social function and whereas, consequently, its exercise may be restricted, provided that those restrictions in fact correspond to objectives of general interest pursued by the Community and do not constitute a disproportionate and intolerable interference, impairing the very substance of the rights guaranteed (see the judgment of 10 December 2002 in Case C-491/01 British American Tobacco (Investments) and Imperial Tobacco [2002] ECR I-11453),

L.   whereas, notwithstanding that case-law, the Court of Justice has consistently held that, where national provisions fall outside the scope of Community law, there is no Community jurisdiction to assess the compatibility of those provisions with the fundamental rights whose observance the Court ensures (see, for instance, the order of 6 October 2005 in Case C-328/04 Vajnai [2005] ECR I-8577, paragraphs 12 and 13),

M.   whereas the first paragraph of Article 1 of the first Additional Protocol to the ECHR declares that "[e]very natural or legal person is entitled to the peaceful enjoyment of his possessions" and that "[n]o one shall be deprived of his possessions except in the public interest and subject to the conditions provided for by law and by the general principles of international law"; whereas the second paragraph of that article states that "[t]he preceding provisions shall not, however, in any way impair the right of a State to enforce such laws as it deems necessary to control the use of property in accordance with the general interest or to secure the payment of taxes or other contributions or penalties"; and whereas, at the time of ratification of the said Protocol, Spain expressed a reservation in respect of Article 1 in the light of Article 33 of the Spanish Constitution, which provides as follows: "The right to private property and inheritance is recognised. 2. The social function of these rights shall determine the limits of their content in accordance with the law. 3. No one may be deprived of his or her property and rights, except on justified grounds of public utility or social interest and with a proper compensation in accordance with the law.",

N.   whereas Parliament considers that the obligation to cede legitimately acquired private property without due process and proper compensation and the obligation to pay arbitrary costs for unrequested and often unnecessary infrastructure development constitute a violation of an individual's fundamental rights under the ECHR and in the light of the case-law of the European Court of Human Rights (see, for instance, Aka v. Turkey (1) ),

O.   whereas in 2008 the Spanish authorities issued instructions regarding the application of the 1988 Coastal Law, which had been neglected for many years during which time extensive environmental damage was done to coastal areas in Spain; whereas even the current instructions do not provide for clear implementing measures to be followed by the local and regional authorities involved, and whereas many new petitions received bear witness to the retroactive contents of the instructions and the arbitrary destruction and demolition of individuals' legitimately acquired property, their rights to such property and their ability to transfer their rights by means of inheritance,

P.   whereas, in view of the actual course of the demarcation line, those affected have formed the strong impression that it has been defined arbitrarily at the expense of foreign owners, for example on the island of Formentera,

Q.   whereas the Coastal Law impacts disproportionately on individual property owners who should have their rights fully respected, and at the same time insufficiently on the real perpetrators of coastal destruction, who have in many instances been responsible for excessive urban developments along the coasts, including holiday resorts, and who had good grounds for knowing that they were invariably acting contrary to the provisions of the law in question,

R.   whereas in the course of the current parliamentary term the Committee on Petitions, acting in response to the very large number of petitions received, has conducted detailed investigations, has reported three times on the extent of the abuse of the legitimate rights of EU citizens to their legally acquired property in Spain, and has also detailed its concerns in relation to the undermining of sustainable development, environmental protection, water quality and provision, procedures concerning public procurement with regard to urbanisation contracts and insufficient control of urbanisation procedures by many local and regional authorities in Spain(2) ,which matters are currently the subject of legal proceedings both in Spain and before the Court of Justice,

S.   whereas there are many examples of cases where every level of authority, from central to autonomous and local, has been responsible for setting in motion a model for unsustainable development that has had extremely serious environmental consequences, as well as economic and social repercussions,

T.   whereas Parliament has received many petitions from private individuals and from various organisations representing EU citizens, complaining about different aspects of urbanisation, and whereas it has noted that many of the issues raised in the petitions submitted in relation to urban expansion do not constitute infringements of Community law, as is evidenced by the communications to the Member States, and should be settled by exhausting the legal remedies available in the Member States concerned,

U.   whereas there is growing evidence that the judicial authorities in Spain have begun to respond to the challenge resulting from excessive urbanisation in many coastal areas, in particular by investigating and bringing charges to bear against certain corrupt local officials who, by their actions, have facilitated unprecedented and unregulated urban developments to the detriment of the rights of EU citizens, thereby damaging irretrievably the biodiversity and environmental integrity of many regions of Spain; whereas Parliament has observed, however, in response to such charges, that procedures remain outrageously slow and that the sentences handed down in many of these cases are incapable of being enforced in a way which provides any satisfaction to the victims of such abuse, and whereas this has strengthened the impression shared by many non-Spanish EU citizens affected regarding the inactivity and/or partiality of Spanish justice; whereas it is noteworthy, however, that there is also an avenue of appeal to the European Court of Human Rights, once domestic remedies have been exhausted,

V.   whereas such widespread activity, supported by irresponsible local and regional authorities through inadequate and sometimes unjustified legislation which in many cases runs counter to the objectives of several European legislative acts, has been most damaging to the image of Spain and to its broader economic and political interests in Europe, as has the lax application of the urban planning and environmental laws in force in the Spanish autonomous communities to certain urban development operations, as well as the emergence of major cases of corruption stemming from such abuse,

W.   whereas regional ombudsmen have frequently acted, in very difficult circumstances, to defend the interests of EU citizens in cases related to urbanisation abuses, although in some autonomous communities regional governments have on occasion been able to pay no heed to their efforts,

X.   whereas Article 33 of the Spanish Constitution makes reference to the rights of individuals to their property, and whereas there have been different interpretations of that article, notably as regards the provision of property for social use as opposed to the rights of individuals to their legally acquired homes and dwellings; whereas no ruling on the application of the land laws in the Valencian region has been given,

Y.   whereas Article 47 of the Spanish Constitution provides that all Spaniards have the right to enjoy decent and adequate housing, and tasks the public authorities with promoting the requisite conditions and establishing the relevant rules to make that right effective, and with regulating land use in the general interest in order to prevent speculation,

Z.   whereas the national government in Spain has a duty to apply the EC Treaty and to defend and ensure the full application of European law on its territory, irrespective of the internal organisation of the political authorities as established by the Constitution of the Kingdom of Spain,

AA.   whereas the Commission, acting pursuant to the powers conferred on it by Article 226 of the EC Treaty, has brought proceedings against Spain before the Court of Justice in a case involving the excessive urbanisation abuses which have occurred in Spain which directly concerns the implementation by the Valencian authorities of the Directive on Public Procurement(3) ,

AB.   whereas the Commission, at the request of the Committee on Petitions, has launched an investigation into more than 250 urbanisation projects which have received a negative opinion from the competent water authorities and river basin authorities and which may therefore place the projects in contravention of the Water Framework Directive(4) , notably in Andalucía, Castilla-la-Mancha, Murcia and Valencia,

AC.   whereas many of those urbanisation projects are detached from consolidated urban areas and require substantial expenditure in respect of basic services such as electricity and water supplies and road infrastructure; whereas investment in those projects often includes an element of EU funding,

AD.   whereas in many documented cases of urbanisation problems in Spain the Commission has failed to act sufficiently forcefully, not only as regards enforcement of the precautionary principle underlying environmental law but also because of its lax interpretation of acts by competent local or regional authorities which have binding legal effect, such as the "provisional approval" of an integrated urban development plan by a local authority,

AE.   whereas the objective of the Strategic Environmental Impact Assessment Directive(5) , Article 3 of which explicitly covers tourism and urbanisation, is to provide for a high level of protection of the environment and to contribute to the integration of environmental considerations into the preparation and adoption of plans and programmes with a view to promoting sustainable development; and whereas the Water Framework Directive requires Member States to prevent the deterioration of their waters and to promote the sustainable use of their fresh water resources,

AF.   whereas successive fact-finding visits by the Committee on Petitions have shown that these objectives seem to be frequently misunderstood by some local and regional authorities (not just in the coastal regions) when proposing or agreeing to extensive urbanisation programmes; whereas most urbanisation plans contested by petitions involve the reclassification of rural land into land zoned for urbanisation – to the considerable economic benefit of the urbanisation agent and the developer; and whereas there are also many instances of protected land, or land which should be protected because of its sensitive biodiversity, being de-listed and reclassified, or not being listed at all, precisely to allow for urbanisation of the area concerned,

AG.   whereas such considerations compound the abuse which is felt by thousands of EU citizens who, as a result of the plans of the urbanisation agents, have not only lost their legitimately acquired property but have been forced to pay the arbitrary cost of unwanted, often unnecessary and unwarranted infrastructure projects directly affecting their property rights, the end result of which has been financial and emotional catastrophe for many families,

AH.   whereas many thousands of European citizens have, in different circumstances, bought property in Spain in good faith acting with local lawyers, town planners and architects, only to find later that they have become victims of urbanisation abuse by unscrupulous local authorities and that, as a result, their property faces demolition because their homes have been found to be illegally built and therefore worthless and unsaleable,

AI.   whereas real estate agents in Member States such as the UK, and other providers of services related to the real estate market in Spain, continue to market property in new urbanisations even when they are necessarily aware that there is a clear possibility that the project in question will not be completed or built,

AJ.   whereas the natural Mediterranean island and coastal areas of Spain have suffered extensive destruction in the last decade as cement and concrete have saturated these regions in a way which has affected not only the fragile coastal environment – much of which is nominally protected under the Habitats(6) /Natura 2000 and Birds(7) Directives, such as urbanisations in Cabo de Gata (Almería) and in Murcia – but also the social and cultural activity of many areas, which constitutes a tragic and irretrievable loss to their cultural identity and heritage as well as to their environmental integrity, and all this primarily because of the absence of supra-municipal planning or regional planning guidelines placing reasonable limits on urban growth and development, set on the basis of explicit criteria of environmental sustainability, and because of the greed and speculative behaviour of certain local and regional authorities and members of the construction industry who have succeeded in deriving massive benefits – most of which have been exported(8) – from their activities in this regard,

AK.   whereas this model of growth also has negative consequences for the tourism sector, since it has a devastating impact on quality tourism given that it destroys local values and encourages excessive urban expansion,

AL.   whereas this is a model that pillages cultural goods and ruins the values and distinct features of identity that are fundamental to Spain's cultural diversity, destroying archaeological sites, buildings and places of cultural interest, as well as the natural environment and landscape surrounding them,

AM.   whereas the building industry, having made considerable profits during the years of rapid economic expansion, has become a primary casualty of the current collapse of the financial markets, itself partly provoked by speculative ventures in the housing sector, and whereas this affects not only the companies themselves, who are now confronted with bankruptcy, but also the tens of thousands of workers in the building industry who now face unemployment because of the unsustainable urbanisation policies which were pursued and of which they now have also become victims,

1.   Calls on the Government of Spain and of the regions concerned to carry out a thorough review and to revise all legislation affecting the rights of individual property owners as a result of massive urbanisation, in order to bring an end to the abuse of rights and obligations enshrined in the EC Treaty, in the Charter of Fundamental Rights, in the ECHR and in the relevant EU Directives, as well as in other conventions to which the EU is a party;

2.   Calls on the Spanish authorities to abolish all legal forms that encourage speculation, such as urbanisation agents;

3.   Considers that the competent regional authorities should suspend and review all new urbanisation plans which do not respect the strict criteria of environmental sustainability and social responsibility and which do not guarantee respect for the rightful ownership of legitimately acquired property, and should halt and cancel all existing developments where criteria laid down in EU law, notably as regards the award of urbanisation contracts and compliance with provisions relating to water and the environment, have not been respected or applied;

4.   Requests the Spanish authorities to ensure that no administrative act that would oblige a citizen to cede legitimately acquired private property finds its legal base in a law which has been adopted after the date of construction of the property in question, since this would infringe the principle of non-retroactivity of administrative acts which is a general principle of Community law (see the judgment of the Court of Justice of 29 January 1985 in Case 234/83 Gesamthochschule Duisburg [1985] ECR 327) and would undermine guarantees affording citizens legal certainty, confidence and legitimate expectations of protection under EU law;

5.   Calls on the Spanish authorities to develop a culture of transparency geared to informing citizens about soil management and fostering effective mechanisms for public information and participation;

6.   Urges the Spanish Government to hold a public debate, with the participation of all administrative bodies, that would involve a rigorous study through the setting-up of a working committee on urban development in Spain and that would make it possible to take legislative measures against speculation and unsustainable development;

7.   Urges the competent national and regional authorities to establish functioning judicial and administrative mechanisms, involving the regional ombudsmen, which are given the authority to provide ways of speeding up redress and compensation for victims of urbanisation abuse who have suffered as a result of the application of the provisions of existing legislation;

8.   Requests the competent financial and commercial bodies concerned with the construction and urbanisation industry to work together with the political authorities in seeking solutions to the problems resulting from large-scale urbanisation, which has affected numerous EU citizens who have chosen to take advantage of the provisions of the EC Treaty and who have exercised their rights of establishment under Article 44 in a Member State which is not their country of origin;

9.   Urges the competent national, regional and local authorities to guarantee a fair settlement for the many ongoing cases of EU citizens affected by non-completion of their houses as a result of the poor planning and coordination between institutions and construction companies;

10.   Points out that, if aggrieved parties fail to obtain satisfaction in the Spanish courts, they will have to appeal to the European Court of Human Rights, given that the alleged violations of the fundamental right to property do not come within the jurisdiction of the Court of Justice;

11.   Calls on the EU institutions to provide advice and support, if requested so to do by the Spanish authorities, in order to provide them with the means to surmount effectively the disastrous impact of massive urbanisation on citizens' lives within a duly short yet reasonable time-frame;

12.   Calls on the Commission, at the same time, to ensure strict respect for the application of Community law and of the objectives laid down in the Directives covered by this resolution, so that compliance therewith can be assured;

13.   Expresses its deep concern and dismay that the legal and judicial authorities in Spain have encountered difficulties in dealing with the impact of massive urbanisation on peoples' lives, as evidenced by the thousands of representations received by Parliament and its responsible committee on this issue;

14.   Considers it alarming that there appears to be a widespread lack of confidence among the petitioners in the Spanish judicial system as an effective means of obtaining redress and justice;

15.   Expresses concern over the lack of correct transposition of the Directives on money laundering(9) , which is currently the subject of Treaty infringement proceedings and which has limited the transparency and legal pursuit of the illicit circulation of financial capital including investments in certain large-scale urbanisation projects;

16.   Takes the view that persons who have bought property in Spain in good faith, only to find that the transaction has been declared illegal, should have the right to appropriate compensation through the Spanish courts;

17.   Considers that if private individuals who have bought property in Spain in the knowledge of the likely illegality of the transaction concerned can be obliged to bear the costs of their risk-taking, this must apply by analogy a fortiori to professionals in the field; considers therefore that developers who have entered into contracts the unlawfulness of which they should have known about ought not to be entitled to compensation for plans that are abandoned due to non-compliance with national and European law, and should not have any automatic right of to recover payments already made to municipalities when these have been made in the knowledge of the likely illegality of the contract entered into;

18.   Believes, nevertheless, that the absence of clarity, precision and certainty with regard to individual property rights contained in existing legislation, and the lack of any proper and consistent application of environmental law, are the root cause of many problems related to urbanisation and that this, combined with a certain laxity in the judicial process, has not only compounded the problem but has also generated an endemic form of corruption of which, once again, the EU citizen is the primary victim, but which has also caused the Spanish State to suffer significant loss;

19.   Supports the conclusions reached by the Valencian Community's Ombudswoman (Síndica de Greuges) – an institution justly famed for its defence of citizens" fundamental rights – which state that owners" rights may have been affected, whether as a result of being undervalued by the developer, or by such owners having to shoulder sometimes excessive development charges unilaterally imposed by the developer;

20.   Considers that access to information and citizens" involvement in the development process need to be guaranteed from the outset of the process, and that environmental information should be made available to citizens in a clear, simple and comprehensible form;

21.   Believes that no properly delimited definition of "general interest" has been given either in existing development legislation or by the appropriate authorities, and that this term is used to approve projects which are environmentally unsustainable, and in certain cases to circumvent negative environmental impact assessments and reports by the respective Hydrographic Confederations;

22.   Recognises and supports the efforts of the Spanish authorities to protect the coastal environment and, where possible, to restore it in a way which allows bio-diversity and the regeneration of indigenous species of flora and fauna; in this specific context appeals to them to review the Coastal Law as a matter of urgency and if necessary to revise it in order to protect the rights of legitimate home-owners and those who own small plots of land in coastal areas which do not impact negatively on the coastal environment; emphasises that such protection should not be afforded to those developments which are planned as speculative ventures and do not respect the applicable EU environmental Directives; undertakes to review such petitions as have been received on this subject in the light of responses received from the competent Spanish authorities;

23.   Expresses concern over the urban planning situation of the municipality of Marbella in Andalucía, where tens of thousands of homes built illegally, probably in contravention of EU legislation on environmental protection and public participation, water policy and public procurement, are about to be legalised by a new general plan for the town, resulting in an absence of legal certainty and safeguards for home buyers, property owners and citizens in general;

24.   Pays tribute to, and fully supports the activities of, the regional ombudsmen ("síndics de greuges") and their staff, as well as the more assiduous public prosecutors ("fiscales") who have done a considerable amount to restore the application by the institutions affected of the correct procedures concerning these issues;

25.   Also praises the activity of the petitioners, their associations and the local community associations, involving tens of thousands of Spanish and non-Spanish citizens, who have brought these issues to Parliament's attention and who have been instrumental in safeguarding the fundamental rights of their neighbours and of all those affected by this complex problem;

26.   Recalls that the Environmental Impact Assessment Directive(10) and the Strategic Environmental Impact Assessment Directive(11) impose an obligation to consult the public concerned at a stage when plans are being established and drawn up, not – as so often has happened in cases brought to the attention of Parliament's Committee on Petitions – after the plans have been de facto agreed by the local authority; recalls, in the same context, that any substantial modification to existing plans must also respect this procedure and that plans must also be current and not statistically inaccurate or out of date;

27.   Recalls also that the Commission is empowered by Article 91 of Regulation (EC) No 1083/2006(12) to interrupt the payment of structural funding, and by Article 92 to suspend such funding to a Member State or region concerned, and to establish corrections in relation to projects in receipt of funding which are subsequently deemed not to have fully complied with the rules governing the application of relevant EU legislative acts;

28.   Recalls also that Parliament, as the budgetary authority, may also decide to place funding set aside for cohesion policies in the reserve if it considers this necessary in order to persuade a Member State to end serious breaches of the rules and principles which it is obliged to respect either under the Treaty or as a result of the application of EU law, until such time as the problem is resolved;

29.   Reiterates the conclusions contained in its previous resolutions by calling in question the methods of designation of urbanisation agents and the frequently excessive powers often given to town planners and property developers by certain local authorities at the expense of communities and the citizens who have their homes in the area;

30.   Calls once again on local authorities to consult their citizens and involve them in urban development projects in order to encourage fair, transparent and sustainable urban development where this is necessary, in the interest of local communities and not in the sole interest of property developers, estate agents and other vested interests;

31.   Calls on the authorities responsible for urban development to extend development consultation processes to property-owners, with acknowledgement of receipt, whenever there are changes to the classification of their properties, and to propose to local authorities that they issue direct, personal invitations during the zoning plan or reclassification appeal proceedings;

32.   Strongly condemns the illicit practice whereby certain property developers undermine by subterfuge the legitimate ownership of property by EU citizens by interfering with land registration and cadastral notifications, and calls on local authorities to establish proper legal safeguards to counter this practice;

33.   Reaffirms that, where compensation is payable for loss of property, it should be awarded at a suitable rate and in conformity with the law and the case-law of the Court of Justice and of the European Court of Human Rights;

34.   Recalls that the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive(13) obliges all Member States to provide appropriate means of obtaining legal redress and remedies for consumers who have been victims of such practices and to ensure that adequate sanctions are in place to counter such practices;

35.   Once again calls on the Commission to initiate an information campaign directed at EU citizens buying real estate in a Member State other than their own;

36.   Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Commission and the Council, to the Government and Parliament of the Kingdom of Spain and the Autonomous Regional Governments and Assemblies, to the national and regional ombudsmen of Spain and to the petitioners.

(1) Judgment of 23 September 1998; see also Parliament's resolution of 21 June 2007 on the results of the fact-finding mission to the regions of Andalucía, Valencia and Madrid conducted on behalf of the Committee on Petitions (OJ C 146 E, 12.6.2008, p. 340).
(2) See the above-mentioned resolution of 21 June 2007 and the resolution of 13 December 2005 on the alleged abuse of the Valencian Land Law or Ley Reguladora de la Actividad Urbanística (LRAU – law on development activities) and its effect on European citizens (Petitions 609/2003, 732/2003, 985/2002, 111272002. 107/2004 and others) (OJ C 286 E, 23.11.2006, p.225).
(3) Directive 2004/18/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 31 March 2004 on the coordination of procedures for the award of public works contracts, public supply contracts and public service contracts (OJ L 134, 30.4.2004, p. 114).
(4) Directive 2000/60/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 October 2000 establishing a framework for Community action in the field of water policy (OJ L 327, 22.12.2000, p. 1).
(5) Directive 2001/42/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 27 June 2001 on the assessment of the effects of certain plans and programmes on the environment (OJ L 197, 21.7.2001, p. 30.
(6) Council Directive 92/43/EEC of 21 May 1992 on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora (OJ L 206, 22.7.1992, p. 7).
(7) Council Directive 79/409/EEC of 2 April 1979 on the conservation of wild birds (OJ L 103, 25.4.1979, p. 1).
(8) Note the recent reports issued by the Bank of Spain, Greenpeace and Transparency International.
(9) Directive 2005/60/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 October 2005 on the prevention of the use of the financial system for the purpose of money laundering and terrorist financing (OJ L 309, 25.11.2005, p. 15); Commission Directive 2006/70/EC of 1 August 2006 laying down implementing measures for Directive 2005/60/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council as regards the definition of politically exposed person and the technical criteria for simplified customer due diligence procedures and for exemption on grounds of a financial activity conducted on an occasional or very limited basis (OJ L 214, 4.8.2006, p. 29).
(10) Council Directive 85/337/EEC of 27 June 1985 on the assessment of the effects of certain public and private projects on the environment (OJ L 175, 5.7.1985, p. 40).
(11) Directive 2001/42/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 27 June 2001 on the assessment of the effects of certain plans and programmes on the environment (OJ L 197, 21.7.2001, p. 30).
(12) Council Regulation (EC) No 1083/2006 of 11 July 2006 laying down general provisions on the European Regional Development Fund, the European Social Fund and the Cohesion Fund (OJ L 210, 31.7.2006, p. 25).
(13) Directive 2005/29/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 May 2005 concerning unfair business-to-consumer commercial practices in the internal market (OJ L 149, 11.6.2005, p. 22).


The state of transatlantic relations in the aftermath of the US elections
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European Parliament resolution of 26 March 2009 on the state of transatlantic relations in the aftermath of the US elections (2008/2199(INI) )
P6_TA(2009)0193 A6-0114/2009

The European Parliament ,

-   having regard to its previous resolutions on transatlantic relations, in particular its two resolutions of 1 June 2006 on improving EU-US relations in the framework of a Transatlantic Partnership Agreement(1) and on EU-US transatlantic economic relations(2) , and its resolution of 25 April 2007 on transatlantic relations(3) , as well as the most recent one of 5 June 2008 on the EU-US Summit(4) ,

-   having regard to the Transatlantic Declaration on EU-US Relations of 1990 and the New Transatlantic Agenda (NTA) of 1995,

-   having regard to the outcome of the EU-US Summit held on 10 June 2008 in Brdo,

–   having regard to the conclusions of the informal meeting of the General Affairs Council held on 8 January 2009 concerning the priority areas for transatlantic cooperation during the Czech Presidency (economic and financial cooperation, energy security, preparation of the UN Conference on climate change and reinforced dialogue on the Middle East, Afghanistan and Iran),

-   having regard to the joint declarations by the 64th Transatlantic Legislators' Dialogue (TLD) held in May 2008 in Ljubljana and the 65th TLD held in December 2008 in Miami,

-   having regard to the conclusions of the European Council of 11 and 12 December 2008,

-   having regard to the Summit Declaration of the North Atlantic Council held in Bucharest on 3 April 2008,

-   having regard to its resolutions on the EU´s approach towards, inter alia , the Middle East, Afghanistan, Iran and Iraq, on the UN and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and on energy security,

-   having regard to Rule 45 of its Rules of Procedure,

-   having regard to the report of the Committee on Foreign Affairs and the opinions of the Committee on International Trade and the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs (A6-0114/2009 ),

A.   whereas the inauguration of the new US President opens up a new era in the history of the United States, has been received with great expectations in the world and has the potential to give the transatlantic partnership a new impetus,

B.   whereas the European Union is an increasingly important player on the world stage and whereas, once the Lisbon Treaty with its foreign policy tools comes into effect, the EU will be able to play a stronger and more coherent role on the international scene,

C.   whereas according to surveys most Europeans support the idea that the EU should assume a more prominent role on the world stage; whereas the majority of Europeans and Americans feel that the EU and the US should address international threats in partnership,

D.   whereas many Europeans expect from the new US administration a cooperative attitude in the international field and a strengthening of the EU-US relationship, based on mutual respect and mutual understanding of the partners' constraints and priorities,

E.   whereas the transatlantic partnership must remain a cornerstone of the external action of the Union,

F.   whereas the transatlantic partnership is founded on shared core values such as democracy, human rights, the rule of law and multilateralism as well as common goals such as open and integrated economies and sustainable development; whereas this foundation remains solid in spite of some differences in the last years,

G.   whereas the EU and the US play key roles in the world's politics and economy, and share responsibility for promoting peace, respect for human rights and stability and for tackling various global dangers and challenges, such as the deep financial crisis, the eradication of poverty and fulfilment of other MDGs, climate change, energy security, terrorism and nuclear proliferation,

H.   whereas in an increasingly global, complex and changing world, it is in the interest of both partners, the EU and the US, to shape the international environment together and to confront in unison common threats and challenges on the basis of international law and multilateral institutions, in particular the UN system, and to invite other partners to cooperate in this effort,

I.   whereas it is necessary to involve emerging players in responsibility for the world order, because, as the then presidential candidate Barack Obama said in Berlin in July 2008, "no one nation, no matter how large or powerful", can defeat global challenges alone,

J.   whereas, given the importance of their relationship and their responsibility for the international order, and given the changes that both partners and the world are undergoing, it is necessary that the EU-US partnership be founded on a solid and updated basis such as a new partnership agreement,

K.   whereas the transatlantic partnership and NATO are indispensable for collective security,

L.   whereas the work of the Transatlantic Economic Council (TEC) needs to continue towards the goal of a genuine, integrated transatlantic market; whereas joint leadership is needed to conduct a decisive reform of the international economic institutions in the current crisis,

M.   whereas the gross domestic product (GDP) of the EU and the US represents more than half of the global GDP; whereas the two partners have the world's largest bilateral trade and investment partnership, with, according to the Commission, almost 14 million jobs in the EU and US dependent on transatlantic commercial and investment ties,

Bilateral institutional issues

1.   Congratulates Barack Obama on his election as President of the United States of America; recalls his emphatic commitment to the transatlantic partnership made in his Berlin speech in July 2008, in which he said that "America has no better partner than Europe" and added that now was the time to join together to meet the challenges of the 21st century; reiterates its invitation to President Obama to address the European Parliament in plenary during his first official visit to Europe;

2.   Calls on the Council, the EU Member States and the Commission to enhance the coordination and coherence of the EU's policy vis-à-vis the new US administration;

3.   Is convinced that the EU-US relationship is the most important strategic partnership for the EU; believes that EU-US coordinated action on tackling global challenges while respecting international law and strengthening multilateralism is of fundamental importance for the international community; urges the Czech Presidency of the Council and the Commission to establish with the new US administration a common agenda of short and long-term goals with regard to both bilateral matters and global and regional issues and conflicts;

4.   Warmly welcomes the upcoming summit to be held in Prague on 5 April 2009 between President Obama and the 27 EU Heads of State and Government, and hopes that that meeting will provide a strong impetus for the strengthening of the transatlantic relationship and the establishment of a common agenda;

5.   Underlines that the current momentum should also be used to improve and renew the framework of the transatlantic relationship; insists on the need to replace the existing NTA of 1995 with a new Transatlantic Partnership Agreement, providing a more stable and a more up-to-date basis for the relationship;

6.   Deems it appropriate for the negotiation of the new agreement to commence once the Lisbon Treaty comes into force, so that it may be completed before 2012;

7.   Is convinced that the TEC, as the body responsible for enhancing economic integration and regulatory cooperation, should be included in the new agreement; welcomes the fact that the TEC is advised by a range of stakeholders, including representatives of business, and asks that a comparable role be given to representatives of the trade union movement on each side of the Atlantic;

8.   Recommends that the EU-US summits take place twice a year, in order to provide the partnership with strategic direction and impetus, and that they proceed to exercise adequate oversight regarding implementation of the objectives previously identified;

9.   Is of the view that the new agreement should establish a body for systematic high-level consultation and coordination in respect of foreign and security policy; recommends that this body be chaired by the High Representative/Vice-President of the Commission on the EU side and by the Secretary of State on the US side, and that it meet at least every three months, without prejudice to informal contacts; suggests that this mechanism could be called the Transatlantic Political Council (TPC);

10.   Reaffirms that the new agreement should upgrade the current TLD into a transatlantic assembly, serving as a forum for parliamentary dialogue, identification of objectives and joint scrutiny of the implementation of the agreement, and for coordination of the work of both the European Parliament and the US Congress on issues of common concern, including close cooperation of committees and rapporteurs from both sides; considers that this assembly should meet in plenary twice a year and be comprised on an equal basis of both Members of the European Parliament and Members of both Houses of the US Congress; is of the view that the assembly could establish working groups to prepare the plenary meetings; reiterates that a reciprocal legislative early-warning system should be created within this assembly; believes that a steering committee should be responsible for enhancing cooperation between the legislative committees and rapporteurs of the European Parliament and the US Congress on legislation which is relevant with regard to further integration of the transatlantic market and in particular to the work of the TEC;

11.   Considers that the transatlantic assembly should be kept informed by the TEC and the TPC about their activities, including the right to conduct hearings with representatives of those Councils, and that it should be able to make proposals to both Councils and to the EU-US summits; requests that, besides strengthening the role of parliamentarians within the TEC, both co-chairs of the assembly be invited to participate in the opening session of meetings of both Councils and of the EU-US summits;

12.   Invites the US Congress, in full cooperation with the European Parliament, to reflect on the possibility of setting up a US Congress liaison office in Brussels;

13.   Invites Parliament's Secretary-General to proceed as a matter of the utmost urgency with the implementation of the Bureau's decision of 11 December 2006 on the deployment of an official to Washington as Liaison Officer;

14.   Insists on the advantages of a joint programme of staff exchanges and invites Parliament's Secretary-General to examine with the clerks of the US House of Representatives and the Senate the feasibility of a joint memorandum on staff exchanges similar to that agreed between Parliament and the UN Secretariat;

15.   Underlines that the transatlantic partnership must be backed up by a deep understanding and closer ties between the parties' civil societies; insists on the need to increase exchanges among students, academics and other civil society actors from both sides so as to ensure that present and future generations gain mutual understanding and remain committed to this partnership; considers that back-up support for this initiative should be provided from the 2010 EU budget and from the relevant US institutions' budgets so as to ensure its effective development;

16.   Warmly welcomes the growing presence of organisations of American parentage in Brussels and in particular their commitment to the European Union, its institutions and a strengthened EU-US partnership; stresses that European organisations need to give a similar commitment to operate in Washington DC in order to raise the profile of the EU and that of European perspectives on transatlantic and global issues in the US political community; is aware that European institutions are often unable to match the resources available to their American counterparts; therefore suggests that funding be made available and prioritised for projects organised by European organisations which are aimed at enhancing the awareness and understanding of European issues and perspectives in the United States;

17.   Calls on the EU and the US to strengthen their cooperation in the field of culture, and to continue to foster and promote the mutual benefits resulting from cultural exchanges;

18.   Stresses the importance of closer cooperation in space programmes, in particular between the ESA (European Space Agency) and NASA;

Global challenges

19.   Urges both partners to engage in effective multilateralism, involving emerging players in a spirit of shared responsibility for the global order, respect for international law and common problems; insists that the EU and the US increase their efforts to accomplish the UN Reform Agenda, including the reform of the UN Security Council and of other multilateral forums within the global architecture;

20.   Calls on both partners to promote respect for human rights in the world as a key element of their policy; underlines the need for intensive coordination in preventive and crisis diplomacy, as well as in responding in a coordinated and efficient way to pandemics and humanitarian emergencies; calls on the new US administration to ratify and accede to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court; repeats its appeal for the abolition of the death penalty;

21.   Calls on both partners to contribute decisively to the achievement of the MDGs, particularly in Africa, which must not be placed in jeopardy by the economic crisis, and to study possibilities for coordinated action in those areas; calls on both partners to honour their commitment to spend 0.7 % of their GDP on development cooperation;

22.   Calls on both partners to jointly lead the multilateral efforts, launched at the Washington Conference on 15 November 2008, to resolve the current financial and economic crisis and to reform the international financial system, the World Bank and the IMF, involving the emerging powers, while resisting protectionism and promoting a successful conclusion of the WTO Doha round;

23.   Welcomes the strong commitment of the new US President to tackling climate change; urges the EU and the US to take the lead and to reach an ambitious post-2012 agreement at the Copenhagen Conference to be held in 2009, engaging all relevant gas-emitting countries and committing them to binding mid- and long-term targets;

24.   Calls for closer cooperation between the EU and the US in the field of energy; urges that efficient coordination of their approaches towards the producing countries and strengthening diversity in supply, resources and transportation be regarded as a priority; advocates closer scientific and technological cooperation on energy and energy efficiency;

25.   Draws attention to the National Intelligence Council (NIC) report entitled "Global Trends 2025: A Transformed World", and, given the need for long-term strategic thinking on policy issues within the EU institutions, urges the Czech (from January to June 2009) and Swedish (from July to December 2009) Presidencies to strive to establish a system of analysis similar to that used by the NIC, in order to identify long-term trends from an EU perspective, working in close cooperation with the EU Institute for Security Studies; is convinced that this step will facilitate dialogue on the main strategic issues faced by the transatlantic partnership in the long term;

Regional issues

26.   Underlines that a peaceful and just settlement of the Middle East conflict is vital, and welcomes the fact that it will represent one of the most urgent priorities of the new US administration; asks the US administration to coordinate closely with the EU and engage in the Quartet; welcomes the early appointment of a US special envoy for the Middle East in the person of the former Senator George Mitchell; emphasises that both partners should strive for intensification of the negotiations based on the road map and the Annapolis Conference achievements, with the objective of a two-state solution; urges both partners to work closely together in order to help make the current fragile ceasefire in Gaza solid and durable, while involving the regional actors and contributing to the achievement of the goals of UN Security Council Resolution 1860 of 8 January 2009 (S/RES/1860(2009)), such as an immediate humanitarian relief for the population of Gaza and the assurance that illicit trafficking in arms and ammunition is prevented and the blockade of Gaza is lifted; calls on the transatlantic partners to support efforts for inter-Palestinian reconciliation, and points out the importance of improving the living conditions of Palestinians in both the West Bank and Gaza, including the reconstruction of Gaza;

27.   Urges the EU and the US to work together in renewing strategies to promote efforts to strengthen respect for human rights and democracy in the Middle East, based on their economic and soft power in the region;

28.   Underlines that the values, security and credibility of the transatlantic community are at stake in Afghanistan; urges the EU, the US, NATO and the UN to come up with a new joint strategic concept which comprehensively integrates the components of the international engagement, in order to increase security in all regions, strengthen the Afghan governmental and local institutions and aid nation-building and prosperity in close cooperation with neighbouring states; considers that the final goal must be a gradual handover of responsibility for security and stability into the hands of the Afghan authorities; recalls UN Security Council resolution 1833 of 22 September 2008 (S/RES/1833(2008)), which encourages all Afghan parties and groups to engage constructively in political dialogue and to avoid resorting to violence;

29.   Calls on the EU and the US to develop a joint strategy towards Pakistan, aimed at strengthening its democratic institutions, the rule of law and its ability to fight terrorism, while encouraging Pakistan's involvement in responsibility for stability in the region, including the security of the Afghan border, and full governmental control of Pakistan's border provinces and tribal areas; welcomes the nomination of Richard Holbrooke as a single special envoy for the Pakistan-Afghan region;

30.   Underlines that the Iranian nuclear programme endangers the non-proliferation system and stability in the region and the world; welcomes the announcement by President Obama that consideration will be given to direct contacts with the Iranian side and supports the objective, pursued jointly by both partners, of finding a negotiated solution with Iran, following the dual strategy of dialogue and sanctions, in coordination with other members of the Security Council and the International Atomic Energy Agency; considers that any initiatives that one of the partners may launch concerning Iran must be closely coordinated between them in a spirit of trust and transparency; calls on the transatlantic partners to define as soon as possible a common approach towards Iran, without waiting until the issue needs to be confronted as a matter of urgency;

31.   Welcomes the ratification of the US-Iraqi agreement on the presence in Iraq of US military forces; underlines the readiness of the EU to continue helping with the reconstruction of Iraq, in particular focusing on the rule of law, respect for human rights, consolidation of the state institutions and support for the economic development of Iraq and its reintegration into the world economy; calls on the partners to continue, by means of coordinated efforts, to work with the Iraqi government and the UN in order to improve stability and national reconciliation and to contribute to the unity and independence of Iraq;

32.   Urges both parties to closely coordinate their policies towards Russia; conscious of Russia's relevance as a neighbouring country, of its interdependence with the EU and of its role as a major player on the regional and global level, emphasises the importance of building up with Russia constructive cooperation on challenges, threats and opportunities of mutual concern, including security matters, disarmament and non-proliferation, while respecting democratic principles, human rights standards and international law; underlines in this regard the need to enhance mutual trust between the transatlantic partners and Russia and to intensify the cooperation within the NATO-Russia Council; calls on both transatlantic partners to closely coordinate their approach towards any reform of the European security architecture, while observing the OSCE principles and maintaining the coherence of NATO; considers that developments in this architecture, which also involves international arrangements such as the Treaty on Conventional Forces in Europe, need to be addressed in dialogue with Russia and also other non-EU OSCE member countries;

33.   Welcomes the recent statements by US Vice-President Joe Biden at the European Security Conference in Munich indicating that the US will continue the consultations with its NATO allies and Russia on the US missile defence system and adding that the new administration would consider the costs and efficiency of the system; notes some signals from Russia that it would suspend the plans to station short-range Iskander missiles in Kaliningrad;

34.   Calls on the EU and US to develop a common strategy concerning the six eastern European countries (Moldova, Ukraine, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Belarus), encompassed by the European Neighbourhood Policy, in order to achieve substantial and lasting results in the implementation of the new Eastern Partnership and Black Sea Synergy;

35.   Urges both partners to pay special attention to Latin America and its regional organisations in particular, coordinating efforts to promote the consolidation of democracy, respect for human rights, good governance, the fight against poverty, the strengthening of social cohesion, market economies, the rule of law including the fight against organised crime and drug trafficking, and supporting regional integration as well as cooperation in respect of climate change;

36.   Recommends also the promotion of a common approach to other major geopolitical players such as China, India or Japan, as well as to the various crises and problems in sub-Saharan Africa;

Defence, arms control and security matters

37.   Underlines the importance of NATO as the cornerstone of transatlantic security; welcomes the decision by the European Council in December 2008 to strengthen the strategic partnership between the EU and NATO, and calls on both partners to accelerate the creation of an EU-NATO high-level group in order to improve cooperation between the two organisations; suggests that discussions be held on the value of a Euro-Atlantic Security Strategy that could define common security concerns and interests;

38.   Emphasises the growing importance of the European Security and Defence Policy and the need to continue improving the civilian and military capabilities of Europe; welcomes the recognition by the Bucharest NATO summit held in April 2008 of the value of an enhanced European defence capability for the strengthening of transatlantic security;

39.   Invites the EU and the US to adopt a common strategy in all international forums, in particular the UN, on disarmament of weapons of mass destruction and conventional weaponry; urges the new US administration to re-engage with Russia in the area of arms control and disarmament, extending the two countries' current bilateral agreements; stresses the need for closer cooperation in order to ensure progress in the run-up to the NPT Review Conference in 2010, welcomes the commitment of the new US President to ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty;

40.   Underlines the importance of strengthening transatlantic cooperation in the fight against terrorism on the basis of full respect for international law and human rights, and of supporting the role of the UN in combating this threat; points out the need to cooperate closely when the lives of hostages are at risk;

41.   Welcomes the decision of US President Barack Obama to close the detention facility at Guantánamo Bay, as well as other related executive orders concerning lawful interrogations and CIA detention facilities, and encourages the US administration to close down any detention centres outside the United States which are not in accordance with international law, and to put an end explicitly to the policy of extraordinary rendition; calls on the Member States, should the US administration so request, to cooperate in finding, on a case-by case basis, solutions to the issue of accepting some of the Guantánamo inmates in the EU while respecting the duty of loyal cooperation to consult each other regarding possible effects on public security throughout the EU;

42.   Stresses the importance of the prompt entry into force of the EU-US Extradition and Legal Assistance Agreements, and urges those Member States that have not yet ratified them to do so as soon as possible; emphasises that the effective implementation of those agreements requires a high degree of mutual trust built on full respect by all parties of human rights obligations, defence and fair trial rights and the rule of domestic and international law;

43.   Underlines that the sharing of data and information is a valuable tool in the international fight against terrorism and transnational crime, but stresses that this must take place within a proper legal framework, ensuring adequate protection of civil liberties, including the right to privacy, and that it should be based on a binding international agreement, as agreed at the 2008 EU-US Summit;

44.   Welcomes the recent extension of the visa waiver programme to another seven EU Member States; however, urges the US to lift the visa regime for the remaining five Member States and to treat all EU citizens equally and on the basis of full reciprocity; asks the Commission to treat this as a priority matter with the new US administration;

45.   Is of the view that close EU-US cooperation in the area of justice and home affairs is also necessary in order to gradually build a transatlantic area of freedom, security and justice;

Economic and commercial issues

46.   Urges the partners to use the full potential of the TEC in order to overcome the existing obstacles to economic integration and to achieve a unified transatlantic market by 2015; requests the Commission, on the basis of the study authorised and financed by the European Parliament in its 2007 Budget, to draw up a detailed road map of existing obstacles which need to be removed with the aim of meeting that target date;

47.   Underlines the importance of using the TEC also as a framework for macro-economic cooperation between both partners, and encourages the competent monetary institutions to strengthen their coordination;

48.   Welcomes the progress that has been made over recent months in promoting transatlantic economic integration; considers, in particular, that in areas such as investment, accounting standards, regulatory issues, the safety of imported products and the enforcement of intellectual property rights, improved cooperation has already resulted in significant progress and must be continued;

49.   Believes, at the same time, that transatlantic economic cooperation must be made more accountable, transparent and predictable; considers that schedules of meetings, agendas, roadmaps and progress reports must be agreed upon between the core stakeholders as early as possible and should then be published on a website;

50.   Takes the view that there is great potential for the United States and the European Union to adopt joint positions and initiatives in international forums, in view of the many trade interests that they have in common, for example non-discriminatory access to raw materials on the global market, the implementation of intellectual property rights and global patent harmonisation; suggests that it is in both parties' interests to better exploit this potential;

51.   Was concerned about the new trade-inhibiting US stimulus Bill, notes, however, that it has been amended to comply with WTO rules and insists on the absolute need for a mutual response to the current crisis rather than the adoption of measures to seal the EU and the US off from one another;

52.   Advocates gradually integrating the financial markets through mutual recognition combined with a degree of convergence of the current regulatory frameworks and through the establishment of occasional exemptions whenever possible; recalls that the basic principles for successful integration are free access to markets, regulations that conform to international standards, uniform application of those regulations and an ongoing dialogue with market stakeholders; calls on the EU and the US authorities to avoid setting up barriers to inward investment and enacting legislation having an extra-territorial impact without prior consultation and agreement;

53.   Supports the removal of barriers that hinder investment and transatlantic financial services, and favours improving the integration of EU and US markets so that they compete better with emerging markets, subject to the establishment of a satisfactory framework of prudential rules to prevent a crisis on one side of the Atlantic affecting the other;

54.   Points out that the integration of financial services markets without a parallel review of the regulatory framework and supervisory standards would make it harder for the authorities to exercise effective supervision; therefore advocates the adoption of regulations that guarantee competition, ensure increased transparency and effective supervision of products, financial institutions and markets, and create common risk management models, in line with agreements reached at the G20 Summit in November 2008;

55.   Acknowledges that the US supervisory authorities have made progress in implementing the Basel II agreements with regard to large banks, but criticises the discrepancies that remain to be corrected as they impose additional burdens on American subsidiaries of European banks, thereby reducing their competitiveness, and notes that there are still some issues (financial holdings and small banks) that need to be cleared up as soon as possible; encourages the US Congress, therefore, to consider a more coherent supervisory structure in the banking and insurance sectors so as to facilitate EU-US coordination;

56.   Calls for greater cooperation between the supervisory bodies in supervising the activities of cross-border financial institutions and preventing action by financial institutions domiciled in jurisdictions that are uncooperative and less than transparent, and calls for the abolition of tax havens;

57.   Urges the EU and US authorities to regulate credit rating agencies in accordance with jointly held principles and methods so as to restore confidence in ratings and place them on a sound footing; points out however that the EU needs to develop its own regulatory framework as the extra-territorial application of US Securities and Exchange Commission standards to US agencies operating in the European market would not be acceptable;

58.   Agrees with the Commission that credit originator institutions should be obliged to retain a fraction of the credit issued in order to force them to accept their share of the risks transferred; calls for this issue to be raised in the transatlantic dialogue in order to preserve equal conditions at international level and limit systemic risks on the world financial markets; considers that a code of conduct should be agreed upon for sovereign wealth funds;

59.   Calls on the new Congress to modify the US regulation which provides for the scanning of 100 % of inbound cargo and urges it to work closely with the EU to ensure the implementation of a multi-layered approach based on actual risk; notes that secure trade is particularly important in an ever more integrated global economy, but considers that this blunt measure represents a potential new trade barrier, imposing significant costs on economic operators, which will not bring any benefit in terms of supply chain security;

60.   Believes that the TEC could usefully organise seminars on the 100 % scanning issue in Brussels and Washington in order to foster a deeper understanding between EU and US legislators and to promote an early and mutually acceptable resolution of this problem;

61.   Recommends that the next TEC meeting should discuss whether it would be helpful to integrate more technical topics into the scope of the TEC and whether greater cooperation between the EU and the US is essential in order to achieve a workable cap-and-trade-emission system; recommends that existing common international benchmarks for energy-intensive industries should be developed or integrated into the TEC process;

o
o   o

62.   Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the governments and parliaments of the Member States and the President and Congress of the United States of America.

(1) OJ C 298 E, 8.12.2006, p. 226
(2) OJ C 298 E, 8.12.2006, p. 235.
(3) OJ C 74 E, 20.3.2008, p. 670.
(4) Texts adopted, P6_TA(2008)0256 .


Strengthening security and fundamental freedoms on the Internet
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European Parliament recommendation of 26 March 2009 to the Council on strengthening security and fundamental freedoms on the Internet (2008/2160(INI) )
P6_TA(2009)0194 A6-0103/2009

The European Parliament ,

–   having regard to the proposal for a recommendation to the Council by Stavros Lambrinidis on behalf of the PSE Group on strengthening security and fundamental freedoms on the Internet (B6-0302/2008 ),

–   having regard to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECHR) and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, and in particular the provisions thereof relating to the protection of personal data, freedom of expression, respect for private and family life, as well as the right to liberty and security,

–   having regard to Directive 95/46/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 24 October 1995 on the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data,(1) to Council Framework Decision 2008/977/JHA of 27 November 2008 on the protection of personal data processed in the framework of police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters,(2) to Directive 2003/98/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 November 2003 on the re-use of public sector information,(3) to the Commission's proposal of 13 November 2007 for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Directive 2002/22/EC on universal service and users" rights relating to electronic communications networks, Directive 2002/58/EC concerning the processing of personal data and the protection of privacy in the electronic communications sector and Regulation (EC) No 2006/2004 on consumer protection cooperation (COM(2007)0698 ), to Directive 2006/24/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 March 2006 on the retention of data generated or processed in connection with the provision of publicly available electronic communications services or of public communications networks(4) and to the judgment of the Court of Justice of the European Communities of 10 February 2009 in Case C-301/06 Ireland v Parliament and Council ,

–   having regard to Council Framework Decision 2005/222/JHA of 24 February 2005 on attacks against information systems,(5) to Council Framework Decision 2001/413/JHA of 28 May 2001 on combating fraud and counterfeiting of non-cash means of payment,(6) to Council Framework Decision 2008/919/JHA of 28 November 2008 amending Framework Decision 2002/475/JHA on combating terrorism,(7) to the Commission's Communication of 22 May 2007 entitled "Towards a general policy and the fight against cyber crime" (COM(2007)0267 ), as well as to the recent initiatives for the detection of serious crime and terrorism (such as the "Check the Web" project),

−   having regard to the work undertaken within the framework of the Council of Europe, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the United Nations (UN), both as concerns the combating of crime and cybercrime and as concerns the protection of fundamental rights and freedoms, including on the Internet(8) ,

   having regard to the most recent judgments of the European courts and national constitutional courts in this field, and in particular the Judgment of the German Federal Constitutional Court recognising a distinct right to the protection of confidentiality and the integrity of information technology systems,(9)

−   having regard to Rule 114(3) and Rule 94 of its Rules of Procedure,

−   having regard to the report of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs and the opinion of the Committee on Culture and Education (A6-0103/2009 ),

A.   whereas the evolution of the Internet proves that it is becoming an indispensable tool for promoting democratic initiatives, a new arena for political debate (for instance e-campaigning and e-voting), a key instrument at world level for exercising freedom of expression (for instance blogging) and for developing business activities, and a mechanism for promoting digital literacy and the dissemination of knowledge (e-learning); whereas the Internet has also brought with it an increasing number of opportunities for people of all ages to communicate with people from different parts of the world, for example, and has thereby expanded the scope for people to familiarise themselves with other cultures and thus enhance their understanding of other people and cultures; whereas the Internet has also extended the diversity of news sources for individuals as they are now able to tap into the flow of news from different parts of the world,

B.   whereas governments and public interest organisations and institutions should provide a suitable regulatory framework and appropriate technical means to allow citizens actively and efficiently to take part in administrative processes through e-government applications,

C.   whereas the Internet gives full meaning to the definition of freedom of expression enshrined in Article 11 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, especially in terms of its 'regardless of frontiers' dimension,

D.   whereas transparency, respect for privacy and an environment of trust amongst I-stakeholders should be considered indispensable elements in order to build a sustainable security vision for the Internet,

E.   whereas on the Internet, freedom of expression and privacy can at the same time be both better enhanced and more exposed to intrusions and limitations by both private and public actors,

F.   whereas, through the freedom that it provides, the Internet has also been used as a platform for violent messages such as the ones intentionally inciting terrorist attacks, as well as for websites which can specifically incite hate-based criminal acts, and whereas cybercrime threats more broadly have increased worldwide and are endangering individuals (including children) and networks,

G.   whereas these crimes must be countered effectively and decisively, without altering the fundamental free and open nature of the Internet,

H.   whereas, in a democratic society, it is the citizens who are entitled to observe and to judge daily the actions and beliefs of their governments and of private companies that provide them with services; whereas technologically advanced surveillance techniques, sometimes coupled with the absence of adequate legal safeguards regarding the limits of their application, increasingly threaten this principle,

I.   whereas individuals have the right to express themselves freely on the Internet (for instance user-generated content, blogs and social networking) and whereas Internet search engines and service providers have made it considerably easier for people to obtain information about, for example, other individuals; whereas, however, there are situations in which individuals wish to delete information held in such databases; whereas, therefore, companies must be able to ensure that individuals can have person-related data deleted from databases;

J.   whereas technological leaps increasingly allow for the secret surveillance, virtually undetectable to the individual, of citizens" activities on the Internet; whereas the mere existence of surveillance technologies does not automatically justify their uses, but whereas the overriding interest of protecting citizens" fundamental rights should determine the limits and precise circumstances under which such technologies may be used by public authorities or companies; whereas combating Internet crime and the threats to an open democratic society which certain persons and organisations constitute when they use the Internet to damage citizens' rights must not mean that Member States assume the right to intercept and monitor all data traffic on the Internet which occurs on their territory, whether that applies to their own citizens or data traffic from abroad; whereas the combating of crime must be proportionate to the nature of the crime;

K.   whereas identity theft and fraud are an increasing problem that the authorities, individual citizens and companies are only beginning to recognise, leaving major security concerns in relation to the intensified use of the Internet for a wide range of purposes, including commerce and the exchange of confidential information,

L.   whereas it should be recalled that, when dealing with rights such as freedom of expression or respect for private life, limitations to the exercise of such rights may be imposed by public authorities if they are in accordance with the law, necessary, proportionate, and appropriate in a democratic society,

M.   whereas, on the Internet, there is a major power and knowledge divide between corporate and government entities on the one hand, and individual users on the other; whereas, therefore, a debate must be launched on necessary limitations to "consent," both in terms of what companies and governments may ask a user to disclose and to what extent individuals should be required to cede their privacy and other fundamental rights in order to receive certain Internet services or other privileges,

N.   whereas due to its global, open, and participatory nature, the Internet enjoys freedom as a rule, but this does not preclude the need to reflect (at national and international levels, as well as in public and in private settings) upon how the fundamental freedoms of Internet users as well as their security are respected and protected,

O.   whereas the host of fundamental rights that are affected in the Internet world include, but are not limited to, respect for private life (including the right to permanently delete a personal digital footprint), data protection, freedom of expression, speech and association, freedom of the press, political expression and participation, non-discrimination, and education; whereas the content of such rights, including their field of application and their scope, the level of protection provided by such rights and the prohibitions on abuse of such rights should be governed by the rules on the protection of human and fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitutions of the Member States, international human rights treaties, including the ECHR, general principles of Community law and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, and/or by other relevant rules of national, international and Community law, in their respective fields of application,

P.   whereas all the actors involved and active on the Internet should assume their respective responsibilities and engage in fora where pressing and important issues relating to Internet activity are discussed in order to seek and promote common solutions,

Q.   whereas e-illiteracy will be the new illiteracy of the 21st Century; whereas ensuring that all citizens have access to the Internet is therefore equivalent to ensuring that all citizens have access to schooling, and whereas such access should not be punitively denied by governments or private companies; whereas such access should not be abused in pursuit of illegal activities; whereas it is important to deal with emerging issues such as network neutrality, interoperability, global reachability of all Internet nodes, and the use of open formats and standards,

R.   whereas the international, multicultural and especially multi-lingual character of the Internet is not yet fully supported by the technical infrastructure and protocols of the World Wide Web,

S.   whereas in the on-going process of the "Internet Bill of Rights," it is important to take into account all relevant research and undertakings in the field, including recent EU studies on the topic(10) ,

T.   whereas economic activity is important for the further dynamic development of the Internet, while the safeguarding of its economic efficiency should be ensured through fair competition and the protection of intellectual property rights, as necessary, proportionate and appropriate,

U.   whereas the right balance should be maintained between the re-use of public sector information which opens unprecedented opportunities for creative and cultural experimentation and exchange, and the protection of intellectual property rights,

V.   whereas throughout the world, companies in the information and communications technology (ICT) sector face increasing government pressure to comply with domestic laws and policies in ways that may conflict with the internationally recognised human rights of freedom of expression and privacy; whereas positive steps have been taken, among which that taken by a multi-stakeholder group of companies, civil society organisations (including human rights and press freedom groups), investors and academics who have created a collaborative approach with the aim of protecting and advancing freedom of expression and privacy in the ICT sector, and have formed the Global Network Initiative (GNI)(11) ,

W.   whereas strong data protection rules are a major concern for the EU and its citizens, and Recital 2 of Directive 95/46/EC on data protection clearly states that technology (i.e. data-processing systems) is "designed to serve man" and must respect "fundamental rights and freedoms, notably the right to privacy, and contribute to economic and social progress, trade expansion and the well-being of individuals",

1.  Addresses the following recommendations to the Council:

   Full and safe access to the Internet for all
   a) participate in efforts to make the Internet an important tool for the empowerment of users, an environment which allows the evolution of "bottom up" approaches and of e-democracy, while at the same time ensuring that significant safeguards are established as new forms of control and censorship can develop in this sphere; the freedom and protection of private life that users enjoy on the Internet should be real and not illusory;
   b) recognise that the Internet can be an extraordinary opportunity to enhance active citizenship and that, in this respect, access to networks and contents is one of the key elements; recommend that this issue be further developed on the basis of the assumption that everyone has a right to participate in the information society and that institutions and stakeholders at all levels have a general responsibility to assist in this development, thus attacking the twin new challenges of e-illiteracy and democratic exclusion in the electronic age(12) ;
   c) urge Member States to respond to a growing information-aware society and to find ways of providing greater transparency in decision-making through increased access by their citizens to information stored by governments in order to allow citizens to take advantage of that information; apply the same principle to its own information;
   d) ensure together with other relevant actors that security, freedom of expression and the protection of privacy, as well as openness on the Internet, are approached not as competing goals, but instead are delivered simultaneously within a comprehensive vision that responds adequately to all these imperatives;
   e) ensure that the legal rights of minors to protection from harm, as prescribed by the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and as reflected in EU law, are fully reflected in and across all relevant actions, instruments or decisions relating to strengthening security and freedom on the Internet;
   Strong commitment to combating cybercrime
   f) invite the Presidency of the Council and the Commission to reflect on and develop a comprehensive strategy to combat cybercrime, pursuant, inter alia, to the Council of Europe Convention on Cybercrime, including ways in which to address the issue of "identity theft" and fraud at EU level in cooperation with both Internet providers and user organisations, as well as the police authorities dealing with IT-related crime and to put forward a proposal on how to create awareness campaigns and prevent such crime, while at the same time ensuring that the use of the Internet is safe and free for all; call for the creation of an EU desk for assistance to victims of identity theft and identity fraud;
   g) encourage reflection on the necessary cooperation between private-public players in this field and on the enhancement of law enforcement cooperation, along with appropriate training for law enforcement and judicial authorities, including training on issues of fundamental rights protection; recognise the need for shared responsibility and the benefits of co-regulation and self-regulation as efficient alternatives or complementary instruments to traditional legislation;
   h) ensure that the work undertaken in the framework of the "Check the Web" project and the recent initiatives aimed at improving the circulation of information on cybercrime, including by the setting-up of national alert platforms and a European alert platform for reporting offences committed on the Internet (creation of a European platform for cybercrime by Europol) are necessary, proportionate and appropriate and accompanied by all the necessary safeguards;
   i) urge Member States to update legislation to protect children using the Internet, in particular in order to criminalise grooming (online solicitation of children for sexual purposes), as defined in the Council of Europe Convention of 25 October 2007 on the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse;
   j) encourage programmes to protect children and educate their parents as set out in EU law with respect to the new e-dangers and provide an impact assessment of the effectiveness of existing programmes to date; in doing so, take particular account of the online games which primarily target children and young people;
   k) encourage all EU computer manufacturers to pre-install child protection software that can be easily activated;
   l) proceed to the adoption of the directive on criminal measures aimed at the enforcement of intellectual property rights, following an assessment, in the light of contemporary innovation research, of the extent to which it is necessary and proportionate, and while simultaneously prohibiting, in pursuit of that purpose, the systematic monitoring and surveillance of all users" activities on the Internet, and ensuring that the penalties are proportionate to the infringements committed; within this context, also respect the freedom of expression and association of individual users and combat the incentives for cyber-violations of intellectual property rights, including certain excessive access restrictions placed by intellectual property holders themselves;
   m) ensure that the expression of controversial political beliefs through the Internet is not subject to criminal prosecution;
   n) ensure that there are no laws or practices restricting or criminalising the right of journalists and the media to gather and distribute information for reporting purposes;
   Constant attention to the absolute protection and enhanced promotion of fundamental freedoms on the Internet
   o) consider that "digital identity" is increasingly becoming an integral part of our "self" and in this respect deserves to be protected adequately and effectively from intrusions by both private and public actors – thus, the particular set of data that is organically linked to the "digital identity" of an individual should be defined and protected, and all its elements should be considered inalienable personal, non-economic and non-tradable rights; take due account of the importance of anonymity, pseudonymity and control of information flows for privacy and the fact that users should be provided with, and educated about, the means to protect it efficiently, for instance through various available Privacy-Enhancing Technologies (PETs);
   p) ensure that Member States that intercept and monitor data traffic, regardless of whether that applies to their own citizens or to data traffic from abroad, do so under the strict conditions and safeguards provided for by law; call on Member States to ensure that remote searches, if provided for by national law, are conducted on the basis of a valid search warrant issued by the competent judicial authorities; note that simplified procedures for conducting remote searches in comparison with direct searches are unacceptable, as they infringe the rule of law and the right to privacy;
   q) recognise the danger of certain forms of Internet surveillance and control aimed also at tracking every "digital" step of an individual, with the aim of providing a profile of the user and of assigning 'scores'; make clear the fact that such techniques should always be assessed in terms of their necessity and their proportionality in the light of the objectives they aim to achieve; emphasise also the need for an enhanced awareness and informed consent of users with respect to their e-activities involving the sharing of personal data (for instance in the case of social networks);
   r) urge the Member States to identify all entities which use Net Surveillance and to draw up publicly accessible annual reports on Net Surveillance ensuring legality, proportionality and transparency;
   s) examine and prescribe limits to the "consent" that can be requested of and extracted from users, whether by governments or by private companies, to relinquish part of their privacy, as there is a clear imbalance of negotiating power and of knowledge between individual users and such institutions;
   t) strictly limit, define and regulate the cases in which a private Internet company may be required to disclose data to government authorities, and further ensure that the use of that data by governments is subject to the strictest data protection standards; establish effective control and evaluation of that process;
   u) stress the importance of Internet users being able to enhance their right to obtain the permanent deletion of their personal data located on Internet websites or on any third party data storage medium; ensure that such a decision by users is respected by Internet service providers, e-commerce providers and information society services; ensure that Member States provide for the effective enforcement of citizens' right of access to their personal data, including, as appropriate, the erasure of such data or its removal from web sites;
   v) condemn government-imposed censorship of the content that may be searched on Internet sites, especially when such restrictions can have a 'chilling effect' on political speech;
   w) call on the Member States to ensure that freedom of expression is not subject to arbitrary restrictions from the public and/or private sphere and to avoid all legislative or administrative measures that could have a "chilling effect" on all aspects of freedom of speech;
   x) recall that transfer of personal data to third countries must take place in accordance with the provisions laid down in, inter alia, Directive 95/46/EC and in Framework Decision 2008/977/JHA;
   y) draw attention to the fact that the development of the 'Internet of things' and the use of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) systems should not sidestep the protection of data and of citizens' rights;
   z) call on the Member States to apply Directive 95/46/EC on personal data in relation to the Internet correctly; remind the Member States that this Directive, especially Article 8, applies regardless of the technology used for the processing of personal data and that its provisions call for Member States to provide the right to a judicial remedy and compensation for their infringement (Articles 22, 23, and 24);
   aa) encourage the incorporation of fundamental principles of the "Internet Bill of Rights" into the research and development process of Internet-related instruments and applications and the promotion of the "privacy by design" principle according to which privacy and data protection requirements should be introduced as soon as possible in the life cycle of new technological developments, assuring citizens a user-friendly environment;
   ab) support and request the active involvement of the European Data Protection Supervisor and of the Article 29 Working Party in the development of European legislation dealing with Internet activities with a potential impact on data protection;
   International undertakings
   ac) exhort all Internet players to engage in the on-going process of the "Internet Bill of Rights," which builds on existing fundamental rights, promotes their enforcement, and fosters the recognition of emerging principles; in this respect the dynamic coalition on the Internet Bill of Rights has a leading role to play;
   ad) ensure that, in this context, a multi-stakeholder, multi-level, process-oriented initiative and a mix between global and local initiatives are considered in order to specify and protect the rights of Internet users and thereby ensure the legitimacy, accountability and acceptance of the process;
   ae) recognise that the global and open nature of the Internet requires global standards for data protection, security and freedom of speech; in this context call on Member States and the Commission to take the initiative for the drawing up of such standards; welcome the resolution on the urgent need for protecting privacy in a borderless world, and for reaching a Joint Proposal for setting International Standards on Privacy and Personal Data Protection of the 30th International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners held in Strasbourg, on 15–17 October 2008; urge all EU stakeholders (public as well as private) to engage in this reflection;
   af) stress the importance of developing a real Web E-agora where Union citizens can have a more interactive discussion with policy makers and other institutional stakeholders;
   ag) encourage the active participation of the EU in different international fora dealing with global and localised aspects of the Internet, such as the Internet Governance Forum (IGF);
   ah) take part together with all the relevant EU actors in the establishment of a European IGF that would take stock of the experience gained by national IGFs, function as a regional pole, and relay more efficiently Europe-wide issues, positions and concerns in the upcoming international IGFs;

o
o   o

2.   Instructs its President to forward this recommendation to the Council and, for information, to the Commission.

(1) OJ L 281, 23.11.1995, p. 31.
(2) OJ L 350, 30.12.2008, p. 60.
(3) OJ L 345, 31.12.2003, p. 90.
(4) OJ L 105, 13.4.2006, p. 54.
(5) OJ L 69, 16.3.2005, p. 67.
(6) OJ L 149, 2.6.2001, p. 1.
(7) OJ L 330, 9.12.2008, p. 21.
(8) E.g. Council of Europe Convention on Cybercrime of 23 November 2001; Council of Europe Convention for the Protection of Individuals with regard to Automatic Processing of Personal Data of 28 January 1981.
(9) BVerfG, 1 BvR 370/07, 27.2.2008.
(10)1 A recent study on 'Strengthening Security and Fundamental Freedoms on the Internet – an EU Policy on the Fight Against Cyber Crime' puts forward among other ideas the adoption of a non-binding Internet Bill of Rights.
(11) http://www.globalnetworkinitiative.org/index.php.
(12) In the document entitled "Internet – a critical resource for all' of the Council of Europe of 17 September 2008 it is also stressed that 'ensuring and promoting equity and participation with respect to Internet is an essential step for the progress of equity and participation in the society at large".


EU strategy for better ship dismantling
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European Parliament resolution of 26 March 2009 on an EU strategy for better ship dismantling
P6_TA(2009)0195 B6-0161/2009

The European Parliament,

-   having regard to the Commission Green Paper of 22 May 2007 on Better Ship Dismantling (COM(2007)0269 ),

-   having regard to its resolution of 21 May 2008 on the Green Paper on better ship dismantling(1) ,

-   having regard to the Commission Communication of 19 November 2008 on an EU strategy for better ship dismantling (COM(2008)0767 ),

-   having regard to Articles 2 and 6 of the EC Treaty, which provide that environmental protection requirements must be integrated into the various sectors of Community policy in order to promote environmentally sustainable development of economic activity,

-   having regard to Article 175 of the EC Treaty,

-   having regard to the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal (Basel Convention), which the United Nations approved on 22 March 1989 as a framework for the regulation of international shipments of hazardous wastes,

-   having regard to Regulation (EC) No 1013/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 14 June 2006 on shipments of waste(2) (Waste Shipments Regulation),

-   having regard to the Diplomatic Conference, which will be held by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) in May 2009, on the Convention on the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships (Ship Recycling Convention),

-   having regard to Rule 108(5) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.   whereas there is serious concern that without urgent regulatory action at EU level the conditions in which the dismantling of ships in South Asia is taking place, which are both environmentally destructive and degrading to humankind, will further deteriorate,

B.   whereas the Basel Convention (following the endorsement of the European Council) recognises that a ship may become waste; whereas, however, it can at the same time be defined as a ship under other international rules, in that a majority of shipowners are currently not informing the authorities of their intention to dispose of their vessels; whereas, therefore, shipowners should contribute to ensuring that information is made available with regard to their intent to dispose of their vessels and with regard to any hazardous materials on board their ships;

C.   whereas the Waste Shipments Regulation continues to be systematically disregarded and whereas the responsibility and role of flag-of-convenience states as a major barrier to combating illegal exports of toxic wastes is recognised,

D.   whereas the number of ships going out of service following the global phase-out of single-hull oil tankers and a backlog of old vessels now being withdrawn from the market, in part due to the recession, will lead to an uncontrolled expansion of sub-standard facilities in South Asia, and will spread even further to countries in the African region, if no immediate and concrete action is taken by the EU,

E.   whereas the breaking of ships through a method known as 'beaching', whereby ships are run aground on tidal flats, has been globally condemned as being incapable of delivering safety for workers and of providing adequate protection of the marine environment from ship-borne pollutants,

1.   Points out that Parliament's above-mentioned resolution, and its views expressed therein, are still valid, and stresses that these views should be reflected as far as possible in the Ship Recycling Convention which is due to be adopted in May 2009;

2.   Points to the need for ship recycling to be treated as an integral part of a ship's life cycle, with recycling requirements being taken into account at the planning stage for the construction and fitting-out of the ship;

3.   Points out that end-of-life ships should be regarded as hazardous waste, as a result of the many hazardous substances contained in such ships, and should therefore fall within the scope of the Basel Convention;

4.   Welcomes the EU strategy for better ship dismantling; stresses, however, that the Commission must rapidly move beyond feasibility studies and fully commit to action which will safeguard the effective implementation of the Waste Shipments Regulation; calls, in this respect, for tighter controls and monitoring by national port authorities and invites the Commission to present guidelines in this area;

5.   Stresses that there is no time to waste, and calls for concrete regulatory action at EU level that moves beyond the regrettably weak remedies of the IMO;

6.   Calls for an explicit prohibition on 'beaching' of end-of-life ships, and considers that any technical assistance to South Asian countries within an EU framework should further aim at the phasing out of this grossly unsustainable and seriously flawed breaking method;

7.   Urges the Commission and the Member States to negotiate entry-into-force conditions which will ensure that the Ship Recycling Convention will indeed be applicable very rapidly;

8.   Calls upon the Member States to sign the Ship Recycling Convention and to ratify it as soon as possible after an agreement is reached at IMO level;

9.   Calls upon the Commission, the Member States and ship-owners to apply without delay the main elements of the Ship Recycling Convention in order to ensure that the ships which will be sent for dismantling in the coming months and years will indeed be dealt with in a safe and environmentally sound manner;

10.   Stresses that the Ship Recycling Convention, once adopted in Hong Kong in May 2009, will have to be evaluated with regard to a level of control equivalent to the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal, which is incorporated into the European Waste Shipments Regulation;

11.   Supports the suggestions by the Commission for measures to establish independent certification and auditing of ship dismantling facilities; considers that such measures are urgently needed and stresses that any Community funding of the shipping industry should be made conditional upon the beneficiary's use of such certified facilities; welcomes in this regard the standards developed by the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) as moving in the right direction, but expects further improvements to be undertaken in the near future;

12.   Calls on the Commission to propose concrete measures, such as labelling schemes for safe and clean recycling facilities, to promote the transfer of know-how and technology in order to help dismantling sites in South Asia comply with international safety and environmental standards, and in particular with the standards which will be set by the Ship Recycling Convention; believes that this objective should also be taken into account in the wider framework of the EU's development aid policy towards the countries involved in ship dismantling;

13.   Strongly encourages dialogue between the EU and the governments of South Asian countries involved in ship dismantling on the issue of labour conditions at shipbreaking yards, including the question of child labour;

14.   Calls for a funding mechanism that is based on mandatory contributions from the shipping industry and is in line with the producer responsibility principle;

15.   Calls upon the Commission to clearly establish that the state with jurisdiction over owners of waste is the responsible state;

16.   Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, the governments of Turkey, Bangladesh, China, Pakistan and India, and the IMO.

(1) Texts adopted, P6_TA(2008)0222 .
(2) OJ L 190, 12.7.2006, p. 1.

Last updated: 9 December 2009Legal notice