Index 
Texts adopted
Tuesday, 15 November 2011 - StrasbourgFinal edition
Coordination of safeguards required of companies (Article 54 TFEU) ***I
  Resolution
  Consolidated text
 Athens Convention on carriage of passengers and their luggage by sea – excluding Articles 10 and 11 ***
 Athens Convention on the carriage of passengers and their luggage by sea, as regards Articles 10 and 11 ***
 EU-Jordan Euro-Mediterranean aviation agreement ***
 EU-Georgia common aviation area agreement ***
 Temporary suspension of autonomous Common Customs Tariff duties on imports of certain industrial products into the Canary Islands *
 Framework programme of the European Atomic Energy Community for nuclear research and training activities (indirect actions) *
 Insolvency proceedings in the context of EU company law
  Resolution
  Annex
 Demographic change and its consequences for the cohesion policy
 Short selling and certain aspects of credit default swaps ***I
  Resolution
  Consolidated text
 European statistics on permanent crops ***I
  Resolution
  Consolidated text
 Framework programme of the European Atomic Energy Community for nuclear research and training activities (direct actions) *
 Participation of undertakings, research centres and universities in indirect actions under the framework programme of the European Atomic Energy Community *
 Implementation of Professional Qualifications Directive
 Consumer policy
 Online gambling
 Honeybee health and beekeeping
 State aid rules on services of general economic interest
 European platform against poverty and social exclusion

Coordination of safeguards required of companies (Article 54 TFEU) ***I
PDF 78k   DOC 25k
Resolution
Consolidated text
European Parliament legislative resolution of 15 November 2011 on the proposal for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on coordination of safeguards which, for the protection of the interests of members and others, are required by Member States of companies within the meaning of the second paragraph of Article 54 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, in respect of the formation of public limited liability companies and the maintenance and alteration of their capital, with a view to making such safeguards equivalent (recast) (COM(2011)0029 – C7-0037/2011 – 2011/0011(COD) )
P7_TA(2011)0477 A7-0348/2011

(Ordinary legislative procedure – recast)

The European Parliament ,

–   having regard to the Commission proposal to Parliament and the Council (COM(2011)0029 ),

–   having regard to Article 294(2) and Article 50(2)(g) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, pursuant to which the Commission submitted the proposal to Parliament (C7-0037/2011 ),

–   having regard to Article 294(3) and Article 50(1) and (2)(g) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

–   having regard to the opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee of 15 March 2011(1) ,

–   having regard to the Interinstitutional Agreement of 28 November 2001 on a more structured use of the recasting technique for legal acts(2) ,

–   having regard to Rules 87 and 55 of its Rules of Procedure,

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on Legal Affairs (A7-0348/2011 ),

A.   whereas, according to the Consultative Working Party of the legal services of the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission, the proposal in question does not include any substantive amendments other than those identified as such in the proposal and whereas, as regards the codification of the unchanged provisions of the earlier acts together with those amendments, the proposal contains a straightforward codification of the existing texts, without any change in their substance,

1.   Adopts its position at first reading hereinafter set out, taking into account the recommendations of the Consultative Working Party of the legal services of the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission;

2.   Calls on the Commission to refer the matter to Parliament again if it intends to amend the proposal substantially or replace it with another text;

3.   Instructs its President to forward its position to the Council, the Commission and the national parliaments.

Position of the European Parliament adopted at first reading on 15 November 2011 with a view to the adoption of Directive 2012/.../EU of the European Parliament and of the Council on coordination of safeguards which, for the protection of the interests of members and others, are required by Member States of companies within the meaning of the second paragraph of Article 54 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, in respect of the formation of public limited liability companies and the maintenance and alteration of their capital, with a view to making such safeguards equivalent (Recast)

P7_TC1-COD(2011)0011


(As an agreement was reached between Parliament and Council, Parliament's position corresponds to the final legislative act, Directive 2012/30/EU.)

(1) OJ C 132, 3.5.2011, p. 113.
(2) OJ C 77, 28.3.2002, p. 1.


Athens Convention on carriage of passengers and their luggage by sea – excluding Articles 10 and 11 ***
PDF 64k   DOC 30k
European Parliament legislative resolution of 15 November 2011 on the draft Council decision concerning the accession of the European Union to the Protocol of 2002 to the Athens Convention relating to the Carriage of Passengers and their Luggage by Sea, 1974, with the exception of Articles 10 and 11 thereof (08663/2011 – C7-0142/2011 – 2003/0132A(NLE))
P7_TA(2011)0478 A7-0356/2011

(Consent)

The European Parliament ,

–   having regard to the draft Council decision (08663/2011),

–   having regard to the Protocol of 2002 to the Athens Convention Relating to the Carriage of Passengers and their Luggage by Sea, 1974 (08663/2011),

–   having regard to the request for consent submitted by the Council in accordance with Article 100(2), Article 218(6) second subparagraph, point (a), and Article 218(8) first subparagraph, of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (C7-0142/2011 ),

–   having regard to Rules 81 and 90(7) of its Rules of Procedure,

–   having regard to the recommendation of the Committee on Transport and Tourism and the opinion of the Committee on Legal Affairs (A7-0356/2011 ),

1.   Consents to accession to the Protocol;

2.   Instructs its President to forward its position to the Council, the Commission, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, and the International Maritime Organization.


Athens Convention on the carriage of passengers and their luggage by sea, as regards Articles 10 and 11 ***
PDF 63k   DOC 30k
European Parliament legislative resolution of 15 November 2011 on the draft Council decision concerning the accession of the European Union to the Protocol of 2002 to the Athens Convention relating to the Carriage of Passengers and their Luggage by Sea, 1974, as regards Articles 10 and 11 thereof (08663/2011 – C7-0143/2011 – 2003/0132B(NLE))
P7_TA(2011)0479 A7-0341/2011

(Consent)

The European Parliament ,

–   having regard to the draft Council decision (08663/2011),

–   having regard to the Protocol of 2002 to the Athens Convention relating to the Carriage of Passengers and their Luggage by Sea, 1974 (08663/2011),

–   having regard to the request for consent submitted by the Council in accordance with Article 81(1) and Article 81(2), points (a) and (c), in conjunction with Article 218(6), second subparagraph, point (a), and Article 218(8), first subparagraph, of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (C7-0143/2011 ),

–   having regard to Rules 81 and 90(7) of its Rules of Procedure,

–   having regard to the recommendation of the Committee on Legal Affairs (A7-0341/2011 ),

1.   Consents to accession to the Protocol;

2.   Instructs its President to forward its position to the Council, the Commission, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, and the International Maritime Organization.


EU-Jordan Euro-Mediterranean aviation agreement ***
PDF 64k   DOC 30k
European Parliament legislative resolution of 15 November 2011 on the draft decision of the Council and the representatives of the governments of the Member States, meeting within the Council, on the conclusion of the Euro Mediterranean Aviation Agreement between the European Union and its Member States, of the one part, and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, of the other part (09189/2011 – C7-0122/2011 – 2010/0180(NLE))
P7_TA(2011)0480 A7-0347/2011

(Consent)

The European Parliament ,

–   having regard to the draft decision of the Council and the representatives of the governments of the Member States, meeting within the Council (09189/2011),

–   having regard to the Euro Mediterranean Aviation Agreement between the European Union and its Member States, of the one part, and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, of the other part (14366/2010),

–   having regard to the request for consent submitted by the Council in accordance with Article 100(2), Article 218(6), second subparagraph, point (a)(v) and Article 218(8), first subparagraph, of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (C7-0122/2011 ),

–   having regard to Rule 81 and 90(7) of its Rules of Procedure,

–   having regard to the recommendation of the Committee on Transport and Tourism (A7-0347/2011 ),

1.   Consents to the conclusion of the Agreement;

2.   Instructs its President to forward its position to the Council, the Commission and the governments and parliaments of the Member States and of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.


EU-Georgia common aviation area agreement ***
PDF 63k   DOC 31k
European Parliament legislative resolution of 15 November 2011 on the draft decision of the Council and the representatives of the governments of the Member States, meeting within the Council, on the conclusion of the Common Aviation Area Agreement between the European Union and its Member States and Georgia (09185/2011 – C7-0124/2011 – 2010/0186(NLE))
P7_TA(2011)0481 A7-0344/2011

(Consent)

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to the draft decision of the Council and the representatives of the governments of the Member States, meeting within the Council (09185/2011),

–   having regard to the draft Common Aviation Area Agreement between the European Union and its Member States, of the one part, and Georgia, of the other part (14370/2010),

–   having regard to the request for consent submitted by the Council in accordance with Article 100(2), Article 218(6), second subparagraph, point (a)(v), and Article 218(8), first subparagraph, of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (C7-0124/2011 ),

–   having regard to Rules 81 and 90(7) of its Rules of Procedure,

–   having regard to the recommendation of the Committee on Transport and Tourism (A7-0344/2011 ),

1.   Consents to conclusion of the Agreement;

2.   Instructs its President to forward its position to the Council and the Commission and to the governments and parliaments of the Member States and of the Republic of Georgia.


Temporary suspension of autonomous Common Customs Tariff duties on imports of certain industrial products into the Canary Islands *
PDF 62k   DOC 29k
European Parliament legislative resolution of 15 November 2011 on the proposal for a Council regulation temporarily suspending autonomous Common Customs Tariff duties on imports of certain industrial products into the Canary Islands (COM(2011)0259 – C7-0146/2011 – 2011/0111(CNS) )
P7_TA(2011)0482 A7-0357/2011

(Special legislative procedure – consultation)

The European Parliament ,

–   having regard to the Commission proposal to the Council (COM(2011)0259 ),

–   having regard to Article 349 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, pursuant to which the Council consulted Parliament (C7-0146/2011 ),

–   having regard to Rules 55 and 46(1) of its Rules of Procedure,

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on Regional Development (A7-0357/2011 ),

1.   Approves the Commission proposal;

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

3.   Asks the Council to consult Parliament again if it intends to substantially amend the text approved by Parliament;

4.   Instructs its President to forward its position to the Council, the Commission and the national parliaments.


Framework programme of the European Atomic Energy Community for nuclear research and training activities (indirect actions) *
PDF 128k   DOC 80k
European Parliament legislative resolution of 15 November 2011 on the proposal for a Council decision concerning the specific programme, to be carried out by means of indirect actions, implementing the Framework Programme of the European Atomic Energy Community for nuclear research and training activities (2012 - 2013) (COM(2011)0073 – C7-0075/2011 – 2011/0043(NLE))
P7_TA(2011)0483 A7-0358/2011

(Consultation)

The European Parliament ,

–   having regard to the Commission proposal to the Council (COM(2011)0073 ),

–   having regard to Article 7 of the Euratom Treaty, pursuant to which the Council consulted Parliament (C7-0075/2011 ),

–   having regard to Rule 55 of its Rules of Procedure,

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (A7-0358/2011 ),

1.   Approves the Commission proposal as amended;

2.   Calls on the Commission to alter its proposal accordingly, in accordance with Article 293(2) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union and Article 106a of the Euratom 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 substantially amend the Commission proposal;

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

Text proposed by the Commission   Amendment
Amendment 1
Proposal for a decision
Recital 3 a (new)
(3a)    The design and implementation of the Framework Programme (2012 - 2013) should be based on the principles of simplicity, stability, transparency, legal certainty, consistency, excellence and trust following the recommendations of the European Parliament in its resolution of 11 November 2010 on simplifying the implementation of the Research Framework Programmes 1 .
1 Texts adopted, P7_TA (2010)0401.
Amendment 2
Proposal for a decision
Recital 8
(8)   Appropriate measures – proportionate to the Union's financial interests – should be taken to monitor both the effectiveness of the financial support granted and the effectiveness of the utilisation of these funds in order to prevent irregularities and fraud. The necessary steps should also be taken to recover funds lost, wrongly paid or incorrectly used, in accordance with Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 1605/2002, Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 2342/2002, Council Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 2988/95 of 18 December 1995 on the protection of the European Communities' financial interests, Council Regulation (Euratom, EC) No 2185/96 of 11 November 1996 concerning on-the-spot checks and inspections carried out by the Commission in order to protect the European Communities' financial interests against fraud and other irregularities and Regulation (EC) No 1073/1999 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 May 1999 concerning investigations conducted by the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF).
(8)   Appropriate measures – proportionate to the Union's financial interests – should be taken to monitor both the effectiveness of the financial support granted and the effectiveness of the utilisation of these funds in order to prevent irregularities and fraud. Special attention should be paid to the development of contractual arrangements that reduce the risk of failure to perform as well as the reallocation of risks and costs over time. The necessary steps should also be taken to recover funds lost, wrongly paid or incorrectly used, in accordance with Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 1605/2002, Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 2342/2002, Council Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 2988/95 of 18 December 1995 on the protection of the European Communities' financial interests, Council Regulation (Euratom, EC) No 2185/96 of 11 November 1996 concerning on-the-spot checks and inspections carried out by the Commission in order to protect the European Communities' financial interests against fraud and other irregularities and Regulation (EC) No 1073/1999 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 May 1999 concerning investigations conducted by the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF).
Amendment 3
Proposal for a decision
Article 2 – paragraph 1 – point a
a) fusion energy research (including ITER);
a) fusion energy research (including mainly ITER);
Amendment 4
Proposal for a decision
Article 6 – paragraph 2
2.   The work programme shall take account of relevant research activities carried out by the Member States, associated states and European and international organisations. It shall be updated where appropriate.
2.   The work programme shall take account of relevant research activities carried out by the Member States, associated states and European and international organisations as well as industry . It shall be updated where appropriate.
Amendment 5
Proposal for a decision
Article 6 – paragraph 3
3.   The work programme shall specify the criteria on which proposals for indirect actions under the funding schemes are to be evaluated and projects selected. The criteria shall be those of excellence, impact and implementation. Additional requirements, weightings and thresholds may be further specified or complemented in the work programme.
3.   The work programme shall specify the criteria on which proposals for indirect actions under the funding schemes are to be evaluated and projects selected. The criteria shall be those of excellence, impact and implementation. Additional requirements, weightings and thresholds that are clearly justified may be further specified or complemented in the work programme.
Amendment 6
Proposal for a decision
Article 7 – paragraph 2 a (new)
2a.    The composition of the committee referred to in paragraph 2 shall in each case be such as to ensure a reasonable balance between men and women and between Member States undertaking research and training activities in the nuclear field.
Amendment 7
Proposal for a decision
Annex – part I – section I.A – point 1 – paragraph 3
The R&D activities in support of ITER construction will be carried out in the Fusion Associations and European industries. They will include the development and testing of components and systems.

The R&D activities in support of ITER construction will be carried out in the Fusion Associations and European industries. They will include the development, testing, validation and reliability verification of components and dependable systems.

Amendment 8
Proposal for a decision
Annex – part I – section I.A – point 2 – indent 2 a (new)
– planning of a new satellite experiment under the 8th Framework Programme which can complement ITER experimentation, with a view to ensuring the facilities required while limiting risks and operational costs, and can also cover the study of key aspects of the DEMO technologies;
Amendment 9
Proposal for a decision
Annex – part I – section I.A – point 4 – indent 3
– studies of the sociological aspects and economics of fusion power generation, and actions to promote public awareness and understanding of fusion.
– studies of the sociological aspects and economics of fusion power generation, and actions to promote public awareness and understanding of fusion. Particular attention will be given to ensuring that the right information is communicated to the public, and specific actions will be used for communication and outreach programme efficiency.
Amendment 10
Proposal for a decision
Annex – part I – section I.A – point 6
The realisation of ITER in Europe, within the international framework provided by the ITER Organisation, will add to the new research infrastructures with a strong European dimension.

The realisation of ITER in Europe, within the international framework provided by the ITER Organisation, will add to the new research infrastructures with a strong European dimension, and will entail, in the context of the complementary European programme, the creation of a new research infrastructure in support of the ITER experiment.

Amendment 11
Proposal for a decision
Annex – part I – section I.B – introduction
The overall objective is to enhance in particular the safety, performance, resource efficiency and cost-effectiveness of nuclear fission and uses of radiation in industry and medicine. Indirect actions in nuclear fission and radiation protection will be undertaken in five principal areas of activity detailed below. There are important links with research in the Seventh Framework Programme of the Union adopted by Decision No 1982/2006/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council, in particular in the areas of energy, European standards, education and training, environmental protection, health, material science, governance, common infrastructures, security and safety culture. International collaboration will be a key feature of the activities in many of the activity areas, in particular advanced nuclear systems that are being investigated in the Generation IV International Forum.

The overall objective is to enhance in particular the safety, performance, resource efficiency and cost-effectiveness of nuclear fission and uses of radiation in industry and medicine. Indirect actions in nuclear fission and radiation protection will be undertaken in five principal areas of activity detailed below. There are important links with research in the Seventh Framework Programme of the Union adopted by Decision No 1982/2006/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council, in particular in the areas of energy, European standards, education and training, environmental protection, health, material science, governance, common infrastructures, security and safety culture, as well as with the nuclear fission proposals of the Strategic Energy Technology Plan endorsed by the Council in March 2008 . International collaboration will be a key feature of the activities in many of the activity areas, in particular advanced nuclear systems that are being investigated in the Generation IV International Forum. The typical design lifetime of the current generation of nuclear plants in operation in Europe is 40 years, and possible additional life extensions are envisaged. Gen III and future-safe Gen IV aim for 60 years or a longer lifetime while minimising operation and maintenance costs due to ageing.

Amendment 12
Proposal for a decision
Annex – part I – section I.B – introduction – paragraph 1 a (new)
There is a clear need to enhance the collaboration with IAEA on Safety Standards applicable to all nuclear facilities and activities. These standards should be broadly applied by designers, manufacturers, operators in power generation, medicine, industry, research and education.

Amendment 13
Proposal for a decision
Annex – part I – section I.B – point 1 – title
1.   Geological disposal
1.   All storage including geological disposal
Amendment 14
Proposal for a decision
Annex – part I– section I.B – point 1 – paragraph 1
Through implementation-oriented research, to establish a sound scientific and technical basis for demonstrating the technologies and safety of disposal of spent fuel and long-lived radioactive wastes in geological formations, and to underpin the development of a common European view on the main issues related to the management and disposal of waste.

Through implementation-oriented research, to establish a sound scientific and technical basis for demonstrating the technologies and safety of disposal of spent fuel and long-lived radioactive wastes, including long-lived waste from decommissioning of civil nuclear power and radioisotope applications in medicine, industry, agriculture, research and education activities, in geological formations, and to underpin the development of a common European view on the main issues related to the management and disposal of waste.

Amendment 15
Proposal for a decision
Annex – part I – section I.B – point 1 – paragraph 2
Geological disposal: Engineering studies and demonstration of repository designs, in situ characterisation of repository host rocks (in both generic and site-specific underground research laboratories), understanding of the repository environment, studies on relevant processes in the near field (waste form and engineered barriers) and far-field (bedrock and pathways to the biosphere), development of robust methodologies for performance and safety assessment and investigation of governance and societal issues related to public acceptance.

Geological disposal: Engineering studies and demonstration of repository designs, in situ characterisation of repository host rocks (in both generic and site-specific underground research laboratories), understanding of the repository environment, studies on relevant processes in the near field (waste form and engineered barriers) and far-field (bedrock and pathways to the biosphere), development of robust methodologies for performance and safety assessment and investigation of governance and societal issues related to public acceptance. To secure more effective confinement of radioactive substances in case of unanticipated events, it is necessary to implement robust systems maintaining the service with downgraded modes of operation.

Amendment 16
Proposal for a decision
Annex – part I – section I.B – point 2 – paragraph 2
Nuclear installation safety: Operational safety of current and future nuclear installations, especially plant life assessment and management, safety culture (minimising the risk of human and organisational error), advanced safety assessment methodologies, numerical simulation tools, instrumentation and control, and prevention and mitigation of severe accidents, with associated activities to optimise knowledge management and maintain competences.

Nuclear installation safety: Operational safety of current and future nuclear installations, taking into account particularly the research implications of the Fukushima accident, especially plant life assessment and management, safety culture (minimising the risk of human and organisational error), advanced safety assessment methodologies, numerical simulation tools, instrumentation and control, and prevention and mitigation of severe accidents, with associated activities to optimise knowledge management and maintain competences. Additional work to be undertaken as a consequence of the Fukushima accident should include: improved seismic resistance, redefinition of ‘beyond design basis’ accidents, analysis of common failure modes, better emergency management, avoidance of hydrogen accumulation from hot metal/steam reactions, hydrogen recombination, design of filter/scrubber systems able to withstand gas overpressure.

Amendment 17
Proposal for a decision
Annex – part I – section I.B – point 2 – paragraph 3
Advanced nuclear systems: Improved efficiency of present systems and fuels and the study of advanced reactor systems in order to assess their potential, proliferation resistance and impacts on long-term sustainability, including basic and key cross-cutting research activities (such as material science) and the study of the fuel cycle, innovative fuels and waste management aspects, including partitioning and transmutation the more efficient use of fissile material in existing reactors.

Advanced nuclear systems: Improved efficiency of present systems and fuels and the study of advanced reactor systems in order to assess their potential, proliferation resistance and impacts on long-term sustainability, including basic and key cross-cutting research activities (such as material science) and the study of the fuel cycle, innovative fuels and waste management aspects, including partitioning and transmutation the more efficient use of fissile material in existing reactors. The above activities should be geared to supporting the European Sustainable Nuclear Industrial Initiative (ESNII), launched at the Strategic Energy Technology Plan conference of the Belgian Presidency in November 2010, including the design of the key research demonstrators ASTRID, ALLEGRO, ALFRED and MYRRHA.


Insolvency proceedings in the context of EU company law
PDF 148k   DOC 73k
Resolution
Annex
European Parliament resolution of 15 November 2011 with recommendations to the Commission on insolvency proceedings in the context of EU company law (2011/2006(INI) )
P7_TA(2011)0484 A7-0355/2011

The European Parliament ,

–   having regard to Article 225 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

–   having regard to Council Regulation (EC) No 1346/2000 of 29 May 2000 on insolvency proceedings(1) (the Insolvency Regulation),

–   having regard to the judgments of the Court of Justice of the European Union of 2 May 2006(2) , 10 September 2009(3) and 21 January 2010(4) ,

–   having regard to Rules 42 and 48 of its Rules of Procedure,

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on Legal Affairs and the opinions of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs and the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs (A7-0355/2011 ),

A.   whereas disparities between national insolvency laws create competitive advantages or disadvantages and difficulties for companies with cross-border activities which could become obstacles to a successful restructuring of insolvent companies; whereas those disparities favour forum-shopping; whereas the internal market would benefit from a level playing field;

B.   whereas steps must be taken to prevent abuse, and any spread, of the phenomenon of forum shopping, and whereas competing main proceedings should be avoided;

C.   whereas even if the creation of a body of substantive insolvency law at EU level is not possible, there are certain areas of insolvency law where harmonisation is worthwhile and achievable;

D.   whereas there is a progressive convergence in the national insolvency laws of the Member States;

E.   whereas the Insolvency Regulation was adopted in 2000 and has been now in force for more than nine years; whereas the Commission should present a report on its application no later than 1 June 2012;

F.   whereas the Insolvency Regulation was the outcome of a very lengthy negotiation process, the result of which is that many sensitive issues were left out and that its approach on a number of questions was already outdated at the moment of its adoption;

G.   whereas since the entry into force of the Insolvency Regulation many changes have taken place, 12 new Member States have joined the Union and the phenomenon of groups of companies has increased enormously;

H.   whereas insolvency has an adverse impact not only on the businesses concerned but also on the economies of the Member States, and whereas the aim should therefore be to safeguard all economic stakeholders, taxpayers and employers against the repercussions of insolvency;

I.   whereas the approach in relation to insolvency proceedings is now centred more on corporate rescue as an alternative to liquidation;

J.   whereas insolvency law should be a tool for the rescue of companies at Union level; whereas such rescue, whenever it is possible, is to the benefit of the debtor, the creditors and the employees;

K.   whereas insolvency proceedings should not be used abusively by a creditor to avoid joint action for the recovery of debts, and whereas it is therefore necessary to introduce appropriate procedural safeguards;

L.   whereas a legal framework should be established that better suits cases of companies which are temporarily insolvent;

M.   whereas in its Communication of 3 March 2010 entitled ‘Europe 2020: A strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth’ (COM (2010) 2020), the Commission, referring to the missing links and bottlenecks obstructing the achievement of a single market for the 21st century, stated as follows: ‘Access for SMEs to the single market must be improved. Entrepreneurship must be developed by concrete policy initiatives, including a simplification of company law (bankruptcy procedures, private company statute, etc.), and initiatives allowing entrepreneurs to restart after failed businesses’;

N.   whereas insolvency law should also lay down rules for the winding-up of a company in a way which is the least harmful and the most beneficial for all participants once it is established that the corporate rescue is likely to fail or has failed;

O.   whereas in each specific case the reasons for the insolvency of a business must be investigated, i.e. it must be ascertained whether the business's financial difficulties are merely transient or whether the business is completely insolvent; whereas what is fundamentally required is to establish all the assets of a debtor and his liabilities in order to be able to assess his solvency or insolvency;

P.   whereas groups of companies are a common phenomenon but their insolvency has not yet been addressed at Union level; whereas the insolvency of a group of companies is likely to result in the commencement of multiple separate insolvency proceedings in different jurisdictions with respect to each of the insolvent group members; whereas unless those proceedings can be coordinated, it is unlikely that the group can be reorganised as a whole and it may have to be broken up into its constituent parts, with consequent losses for the creditors, shareholders and employees;

Q.   whereas where groups of companies become insolvent, a recovery is currently difficult to achieve in the EU, due to the differences in Member States' rules, thus endangering thousands of jobs;

R.   whereas the interlinking of national insolvency registers leading to the creation of a generally accessible and comprehensive EU database of insolvency proceedings would allow creditors, shareholders, employees and courts to determine whether insolvency proceedings have been opened in another Member State and to ascertain the deadlines and details for the presentation of claims; whereas this would promote cost-effective administration and increase transparency while respecting data protection;

S.   whereas cross-border ‘living wills’ should be legally enforceable in the case of financial institutions and should be considered for all systemically relevant corporations, even if they are not financial institutions, as an important step in the process of achieving an appropriate cross-border insolvency framework;

T.   whereas provisions for insolvency proceedings must allow special arrangements for separation of viable units that provide essential services, such as payment systems and other mechanisms defined in ‘living wills’ and whereas, in this respect, Member States should also ensure that their insolvency laws include adequate provisions allowing special arrangements at EU level for separation of insolvent cross-border conglomerates into viable units;

U.   whereas insolvency proceedings should take account of intra-group transfers, with the aim of ensuring that, where appropriate, assets are recoverable across borders, in order to achieve an equitable result;

V.   whereas some investment companies, particularly insurers, cannot be dissolved on a ‘snapshot’ basis and require an outcome that achieves an equitable distribution of assets over time; whereas transfer of business, run-off, or continuity of operation should not be prevented and may need to be prioritised;

W.   whereas the decision to involve whole groups rather than single legal entities in insolvency proceedings should be outcome-oriented and should take account of any knock-on effects such as the triggering of other resolution tools or the effect on guarantee schemes that cover multiple brands within a group;

X.   whereas it would be appropriate to explore the definition of harmonised bail-in procedures and standards for cross-border conglomerates, including in particular debt-to-equity swaps;

Y.   whereas although employment law is the responsibility of the Member States, insolvency law can have an impact on employment law, and whereas in the context of increasing globalisation – and, indeed, of the economic crisis – the issue of insolvency needs to be considered from an employment-law perspective, as differing definitions of ‘employment’ and ‘employee’ in Member States should not undermine the rights of employees in the event of insolvency; whereas, however, any debate on the specific issue of insolvency should not automatically be a pretext for regulating employment law at EU level;

Z.   whereas the objective of Directive 2008/94/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 October 2008 on the protection of employees in the event of the insolvency of their employer(5) is to ensure a minimum degree of protection for employees in the event of insolvency, whilst maintaining adequate flexibility for Member States; whereas differences between Member States in terms of implementation do exist and those differences should be considered;

AA.   whereas Directive 2008/94/EC explicitly includes in its scope part-time employees, employees with a fixed-term contract and employees with a temporary employment relationship; whereas greater protection in the event of insolvency should also be afforded to employees on non-standard contracts;

AB.   whereas the current lack of harmonisation with regard to the ranking of creditors reduces predictability of outcomes of judicial proceedings; whereas it is necessary to increase the priority of employees' claims relative to other creditors' claims;

AC.   whereas the scope of Directive 2008/94/EC, in particular the understanding of ‘outstanding claim’, is too wide, as a number of Member States apply a narrow definition of remuneration (e.g. excluding severance pay, bonuses, reimbursement arrangements, etc.) that can result in substantial claims not being met;

AD.   whereas Member States are competent to define ‘remuneration’ and ‘pay’, provided that they adhere to the general principles of equality and non-discrimination between workers, with the result that any insolvency situation which is potentially prejudicial to the latter should be taken into account for the purposes of compensating them in accordance with the social objective of Directive 2008/94/EC and with threshold levels of compensation to be determined;

AE.   whereas, due to employment contracts across the EU and the diversity of such contracts within Member States, it is currently impossible to seek to define ‘employee’ at European level;

AF.   whereas exemptions from the scope of Directive 2008/94/EC should be avoided as far as possible;

AG.   whereas the legislative action requested in this resolution should be based on detailed impact assessments, as requested by Parliament;

1.   Requests the Commission to submit, on the basis of Article 50, Article 81(2) or Article 114 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, one or more proposals relating to an EU corporate insolvency framework, following the detailed recommendations set out in the Annex hereto, in order to ensure a level playing field, based on a profound analysis of all viable alternatives;

2.   Confirms that the recommendations respect fundamental rights and the principle of subsidiarity;

3.   Considers that the financial implications of the requested proposal should be covered by appropriate budgetary allocations;

4.   Instructs its President to forward this resolution and the accompanying detailed recommendations to the Commission and the Council.

ANNEX TO THE RESOLUTION:

DETAILED RECOMMENDATIONS AS TO THE CONTENT OF THE PROPOSAL REQUESTED

Part 1: Recommendations regarding the harmonisation of specific aspects of insolvency and company law

1.1.    Recommendation on the harmonisation of certain aspects of the opening of insolvency proceedings

The European Parliament proposes harmonisation of the conditions under which insolvency proceedings may be opened. The European Parliament considers that a directive should harmonise aspects of the opening of proceedings in such a way that:

   insolvency proceedings can be brought against debtors who are natural persons, legal entities or associations;
   insolvency proceedings are initiated in a timely manner in order to allow a rescue of the troubled enterprise;
   insolvency proceedings can be opened concerning the assets of the above-mentioned debtors, the assets of entities without legal personality (e.g. a European Economic Interest Grouping), a descendant's estate and the assets of a community of property;
   all companies can start insolvency proceedings in cases where the insolvency is temporary, in order to protect themselves;
   insolvency proceedings can also be opened after the dissolution of a legal entity or of an entity without legal personality, as long as the distribution of the assets has not yet taken place, or in cases where assets are still available;
   insolvency proceedings can be opened by a court or other competent authority upon a written request of a creditor or the debtor; the request for the opening of the proceedings can be withdrawn as long as the proceedings have not been opened or the request has not been refused by a court;
   a creditor may request the opening of proceedings if he/she has a legal interest therein and shows credibly that he/she has got a claim;
   proceedings can be opened if the debtor is insolvent, i.e. unable to satisfy the payment obligations; if the request is made by the debtor, the proceedings can also be opened if the debtor's insolvency is imminent, i.e. if the debtor is likely not to be able to satisfy the payment obligations;
   as far as mandatory filing for bankruptcy by the debtor is concerned, the proceedings must be opened within a period of between one and two months after the cessation of payments if the court has not already initiated preliminary proceedings or other appropriate measures in order to protect the assets and provided that adequate assets are available to cover the costs of the insolvency proceedings;
   Member States are required to lay down rules rendering the debtor liable in the event of non-filing or improper filing, and to provide for effective, proportionate and dissuasive sanctions.

1.2.    Recommendation on the harmonisation of certain aspects of the filing of claims

The European Parliament proposes harmonisation of the conditions under which claims in insolvency proceedings are to be filed. The European Parliament considers that a directive should harmonise aspects of the filing of claims in such a way that:

   the date for determining outstanding claims is the date on which the employer becomes insolvent, i.e. the date of the decision on the application to open insolvency proceedings or the date when the opening of proceedings was refused on grounds that the costs were not covered;
   creditors file their claim with the liquidator in written form within a certain period of time;
   Member States are required to fix the above-mentioned period of time within one to three months from the date of publication of the bankruptcy decision;
   the creditor is required to submit documentation in support of the claim;
   the liquidator establishes a table of all claims filed and that table is displayed at the competent court within the meaning of point (d) of Article 2 of the Insolvency Regulation;
   late filings, i.e. filings by a creditor who has missed the deadline for filing the claim, are to be verified but may entail additional costs for the creditor in question.

1.3.    Recommendation on the harmonisation of aspects of avoidance actions

The European Parliament proposes harmonisation of aspects of avoidance actions in such a way that:

   the laws of the Member States provide for the possibility of challenging acts done before the opening of the proceedings which are detrimental to the creditors;
   acts that can be the object of an avoidance action are transactions in a situation of imminent insolvency, the creation of security rights, transactions with connected parties and transactions carried out with the intention of defrauding creditors;
   the periods during which an act can be challenged by an avoidance action vary according to the nature of the act at issue; the periods start with the date of the request for the opening of proceedings; the periods could be between three and nine months for transactions carried out in a situation of imminent insolvency, between six and twelve months for the creation of security rights, between one and two years for transactions with connected parties, and between three and five years for transactions carried out with the intention of defrauding creditors;
   the onus of proof to show whether or not an act can be challenged lies in principle with the party who claims that the act can be challenged; for transactions with connected parties, the onus of proof lies with the connected person.

1.4.    Recommendation on the harmonisation of general aspects of the requirements for the qualification and work of liquidators

   the liquidator must be approved by a competent authority of a Member State or appointed by a court of competent jurisdiction of a Member State, must be of good repute and must have the educational background needed for the performance of his/her duties;
   the liquidator must be competent and qualified to assess the situation of the debtor's entity and to take over management duties for the company;
   when main insolvency proceedings are opened, the liquidator should be empowered for a period of six months to decide on the protection of assets with retroactive effect in cases where companies have moved capital;
   the liquidator must be empowered to use appropriate priority procedures to recover monies owing to companies, in advance of settlement with creditors and as an alternative to transfers of claims;
   the liquidator must be independent of the creditors and other stakeholders in the insolvency proceedings;
   in the event of a conflict of interest, the liquidator must resign from his/her office.

1.5.    Recommendation on the harmonisation of aspects of restructuring plans

The European Parliament proposes harmonisation of aspects of the establishment, effects and content of restructuring plans in such a way that:

   as an alternative to complying with statutory rules, debtors or liquidators may present a restructuring plan;
   the plan must contain rules for the satisfaction of the creditors and for the debtor's liability after the insolvency proceeding have been concluded;
   the plan must contain all relevant information enabling the creditors to decide whether they can accept the plan;
   the plan must be approved or disapproved in a specific procedure before the relevant court;
   unimpaired creditors, or parties that are not affected by the plan, should not be entitled to vote on the plan or, at least, should not be able to impede it.

Part 2: Recommendations regarding the revision of Council Regulation (EC) No 1346/2000 of 29 May 2000 on insolvency proceedings

2.1.    Recommendation on the scope of the Insolvency Regulation

The European Parliament considers that the scope of the Insolvency Regulation should be broadened to include insolvency proceedings in which the debtor remains in possession or where a preliminary liquidator has been appointed. Annex A to the Insolvency Regulation should be revised accordingly.

2.2.    Recommendation on the definition of ‘centre of main interests’

The European Parliament considers that the Insolvency Regulation should include a definition of the term ‘centre of main interest’ formulated in such a way as to prevent fraudulent forum-shopping. The European Parliament suggests that a formal definition should be inserted, based on the wording of Recital 13, which is concerned with the objective possibility for third parties to ascertain it.

The European Parliament considers that the definition should take account of such features as the externally ascertainable principal transaction of business operations, the location of assets, the centre of the operational or production activities, the workplace of employees, etc.

2.3.    Recommendation on the definition of ‘establishment’ in the context of secondary proceedings

The European Parliament considers that the Insolvency Regulation should include a definition of ‘establishment’ as any place of operations where the debtor carries on a non-transitory economic activity with human means and goods and services.

2.4.    Recommendation on cooperation between courts

The European Parliament considers that Article 32 of the Insolvency Regulation should provide for an unequivocal duty of communication and cooperation not only between liquidators but also between courts.

In the event of main and secondary insolvency proceedings being opened, the timeframes for these procedures should be harmonised and shortened.

2.5.    Recommendation on certain aspects of avoidance actions

The European Parliament considers that Article 13 of the Insolvency Regulation should be reviewed so that it does not encourage cross-border avoidance actions but helps to prevent avoidance actions from succeeding by means of choice-of-law clauses.

In any event, the review of the avoidance action rules should take into account the consideration that healthy subsidiaries of an insolvent holding company should not be driven into insolvency due to avoidance actions rather than being sold in the interests of the creditors as a going concern.

Part 3: Recommendations on the insolvency of groups of companies

Due to the different levels of integration which may exist within a group of companies, the European Parliament considers that the Commission should present a flexible proposal for the regulation of the insolvency of groups of companies, taking into account the following:

1.  Whenever the functional/ownership structure allows it, the following approach should apply:

   A. Proceedings should be opened in the Member State where the operational headquarters of the group are located. Recognition of the opening of the proceedings should be automatic.
   B. The opening of the main proceedings should result in a stay of the proceedings opened in another Member State against other group members.
   C. A single insolvency practitioner should be appointed.
   D. In every Member State in which ancillary proceedings are opened, a committee should be set up to defend and represent the interests of local creditors and employees.
   E. If it is impossible to determine which assets belong to which debtor, or to assess inter-company claims, recourse should exceptionally be had to the aggregation of estates.

2.  For insolvency proceedings in respect of decentralised groups, the instrument should provide for the following:

   A. Rules for mandatory coordination and cooperation between courts, between courts and insolvency representatives and between insolvency representatives.
   B. Rules on immediate recognition of judgments concerning the opening, conduct and closure of insolvency proceedings and judgments handed down in connection with such proceedings.
   C. Rules on access to courts by liquidators and creditors.
  D. Rules to facilitate and promote the use of various forms of cooperation between courts to coordinate the insolvency proceedings and establish the conditions and safeguards that should apply to those forms of cooperation. These would affect the exchange of information, the coordination of operations and the drafting of common solutions:
   communication of information between courts by any means,
   coordination of the administration and supervision of the debtor's assets and affairs,
   the negotiation, approval and implementation of insolvency agreements concerning the coordination of proceedings,
   the coordination of hearings.
   E. Rules allowing and promoting the appointment of a common liquidator for all proceedings, to be nominated by the courts involved and assisted by local representatives forming a steering committee; and rules laying down the procedure governing cooperation between members of the steering committee.
  F. Rules allowing and promoting cross-border insolvency agreements which would address the allocation of responsibility for various aspects of the conduct and administration of the proceedings between the different courts involved and between insolvency representatives, including:
   allocation of responsibilities between the parties to the agreement;
   availability and coordination of relief;
   coordination of recovery of assets for the benefit of creditors generally;
   submission and processing of claims;
   methods of communication, including language, frequency and means,
   use and disposal of assets;
   coordination and harmonisation of the reorganisation plans;
   issues related specifically to the agreement, including amendment and termination, interpretation, effectiveness and dispute resolution;
   administration of proceedings, in particular with respect to stays of proceedings or agreements between parties not to have recourse to certain legal actions;
   safeguards;
   costs and fees.

Part 4: Recommendation on the creation of an EU insolvency register

The European Parliament proposes the creation of an EU insolvency register in the context of the European e-Justice Portal, which should contain, for every cross-border insolvency opened, at least:

   the relevant court orders and judgments,
   the appointment of the liquidator and that person's contact details,
   the deadlines for filing claims.

Transmission of these data to the EU registry by the courts should be compulsory.

The information should be expressed in the official language of the Member State in which the proceedings are opened and in English.

(1) OJ L 160, 30.6.2000, p. 1.
(2) Case C-341/04 Eurofood IFSC Ltd [2006] ECR I-3813.
(3) Case C-97/08 P Akzo Nobel and others v Commission [2009] ECR I-8237.
(4) Case C-444/07 MG Probud Gdynia sp. z o.o . [2010] ECR I-417.
(5) OJ L 283, 28.10.2008, p. 36.


Demographic change and its consequences for the cohesion policy
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European Parliament resolution of 15 November 2011 on demographic change and its consequences for the future cohesion policy of the EU (2010/2157(INI) )
P7_TA(2011)0485 A7-0350/2011

The European Parliament ,

–   having regard to DG REGIO's Fifth Report on Economic, Social and Territorial Cohesion, in particular pages 230 to 234,

–   having regard to the conclusions of the Fifth Cohesion Report: the future of cohesion policy (COM(2010)0642 ) and the accompanying document (SEC(2010)1348 ),

–   having regard to the DG REGIO working document entitled ‘Regions 2020: an Assessment of Future Challenges for EU Regions’ of November 2008 (background document to Commission staff working document SEC(2008)2868 ),

–   having regard to its resolution of 11 November 2010 on demographic challenges and solidarity between the generations(1) ,

–   having regard to its resolution of 21 February 2008 on the demographic future of Europe(2) ,

–   having regard to the Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 10 May 2007 entitled ‘Promoting solidarity between the generations’ (COM(2007)0244 ),

–   having regard to its resolution of 23 March 2006 on demographic challenges and solidarity between the generations(3) ,

–   having regard to the Commission Communication of 12 October 2006 entitled ‘The demographic future of Europe – from challenge to opportunity’ (COM(2006)0571 ),

–   having regard to the Green Paper of 16 March 2005 entitled ‘Confronting demographic change: a new solidarity between the generations’ (COM(2005)0094 ),

–   having regard to Rule 48 of its Rules of Procedure,

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on Regional Development and the opinions of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs and the Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality (A7-0350/2011 ),

A.   whereas demographic change in the EU and worldwide is a fact and dealing with it constitutes one of the core tasks for the future, and whereas the EU population is the oldest in the world;

B.   whereas demographic change is characterised by population ageing and substantial migration flows both from third countries into the EU and within the EU from east to west and from rural to urban areas;

C.   whereas demographic change is creating new tasks for some regions in particular, but, instead of being viewed purely as a threat, it should also be seen as an opportunity;

D.   whereas the study entitled ‘Regions 2020’ by the Commission's DG Regio has identified demographic change as a central challenge;

E.   whereas demographic change affects rural and urban areas in equal measure, with implications, inter alia, for the provision of good infrastructure and services,

F.   whereas, although meeting the full range of demographic challenges is principally the task of the Member States, the regions must be proactive, for which they need European-level support,

G.   whereas, under the 2007-2013 operational programmes, the Member States have earmarked EUR 30 billion in Structural Fund resources for measures linked to demographic change, and whereas regional and local authorities are central to the process of addressing this change, so that regional policy will be a key instrument among the EU's means of action,

General

1.   Considers that the rising life expectancy in Europe is to be welcomed; believes that the public is often aware only of the dangers and not of the opportunities inherent in demographic change;

2.   Considers that all opportunities should be carefully examined and exploited in an appropriate manner, including with the support provided by the cohesion policy instruments;

3.   Believes that the impact of demographic change varies substantially from region to region, depending on whether it is rapid or slow and whether the region concerned is a region of net immigration or of shrinking population and therefore requires a different adjustment strategy, and must be tackled in a coordinated way by all European, national and regional authorities; notes that in regions of shrinking population, particularly rural regions, quality of life is defined differently from the way it is in regions with a growing population, and therefore considers that different support strategies are needed; takes the view that workforce migration accentuates the effects of demographic change and that population ageing is only part of the picture;

4.   Considers that the ERDF and ESF can contribute to the task of addressing the challenges stemming from demographic change in the EU, namely the increase in the number of older people and the decline in the young population; advocates the use of ERDF funds to support the adaptation of housing to the needs of the elderly in order to guarantee a high quality of life for an ageing society; calls on the Member States and the regions to use the funding available under the ERDF and ESF to support young families;

5.   Considers that a political framework for gender equality can help us to face demographic challenges; requests, therefore, that the issue of gender equality should be considered in all debates on demographic issues;

6.   Considers that the current worsening demographic situation in at least some Member States will stimulate discussions regarding pension-systems reform in the near future;

Structural policy reforms

7.   Calls on the Member States and regions to consider the divergent development levels of the regions and also demographic indicators, for example the dependency ratio, when allocating and distributing EU structural funds and when defining impact indicators; points out that globally the EU has the highest proportion of elderly people among its population; believes that the Commission should also propose ways of addressing demographic change on a Europe-wide basis; considers it essential in terms of both access to infrastructure and services and environmental protection to assess not only workforce migration, but also the need to guarantee the conditions that keep people in their own regions, in order to avoid population concentration in certain urban areas;

8.   Believes that joint solutions and synergies can be found by implementing EU policies, including where demographic change is concerned; calls on the Commission to include demographic change as a horizontal objective in the future cohesion policy; calls, further, on the Commission to insist that this issue is taken into account when concluding investment partnerships with Member States;

9.   Encourages the Member States and regions to pay greater heed than in the past to demographic change and its effects, making measures to tackle it a horizontal objective in the shaping of the national strategic framework programmes (or any corresponding document) and in their operational programmes; considers, in that connection, that the flagship measures in the EU2020 strategy, including the active and healthy ageing partnership, could be directly linked to the preferences of the partners in these programmes;

10.   Calls for proactive measures to prevent the negative consequences of demographic change and increase technical assistance to the regions suffering the most from depopulation and ageing, in order to ensure that they retain their absorption capacity and the ability to benefit from the Structural Funds;

11.   Believes that public and private actors in Europe will have the opportunity to play a pioneering role in responding to the challenges posed by demographic change and ageing, employing social innovations and other means; points out that the costs generated by ageing will in future account for an ever increasing proportion of public and private investment alike; realises that the field is one offering growing potential to the business world and for innovations;

12.   Highlights the fact that demographic change, especially population ageing, has a clear impact on the provision of social infrastructure, such as pension systems, nursing care and healthcare, with regional authorities having to meet changing demand from various population groups;

13.   Calls for future ESF rules that are simpler to manage and therefore enable small organisations to benefit more from funding and develop and manage innovative social projects; calls on the Commission, under the future ESF, to increase funding for transnational pilot projects at EU level which address social and employment issues, in order to facilitate innovative regional, cross-border and macro-regional cooperation and so meet common challenges arising from demographic change;

Urban development/infrastructure

14.   Encourages the regions to use the Structural Funds to help address demographic challenges and to improve access to social and administrative services, including in small and remote towns and villages, by promoting the specific potential of each region and strengthening the factors that make people want to stay;

15.   Calls on the Commission to create more flexible conditions in order to promote cross-financing between ERDF and ESF when devising and implementing integrated urban development plans/strategies;

16.   Believes that, if depopulation is to be prevented, then child- and family-friendly towns and cities need to be developed and adapted to the needs of people with disabilities and with restricted mobility; considers that one feature of this design is that wherever possible distances between workplaces, housing and recreational areas should not be excessive; calls on the regions to ensure, in the field of urban planning, that residential, commercial and green areas alternate and are developed in a balanced and harmonious way and that connections with suburban areas earmarked as new residential areas are improved; urges, in addition, that teleworking opportunities should be developed further;

17.   Notes that small towns in regions of net emigration have a particularly important role to play as service centres; calls for this anchor function to be taken into account in the future Structural Funds, in particular by improving the coordination of the EAFRD with the ERDF and the ESF; notes that rural depopulation has negative knock-on effects on urban areas and that economically and socially vibrant rural areas constitute a public good, which should be recognised in the form of an adequately resourced rural development programme; calls on the Member States, regions and municipalities to provide a comprehensive and functioning service network for their citizens of all ages in order to prevent rural exodus and depopulation;

18.   Points out that ERDF funds can also be used to prevent the social exclusion of the elderly, for example by establishing dedicated infrastructure and services for the elderly and ensuring accessibility for all;

19.   Considers that, in areas with a dwindling population, financial support should be provided for adaptation strategies; believes that urban and regional planning must take greater account of changing infrastructure uses, including by revitalising and restructuring inner cities, an area where cooperation with private partners is also important; notes that one of the priorities for urban policy should be to develop elderly-friendly towns and cities; calls for urban tourism potential and heritage objectives to be acknowledged and developed, as these present opportunities to attract new residents into areas at risk of depopulation;

20.   Calls on the regions to develop innovative concepts for local public transport in order to address, among other things, the challenge of dwindling passenger numbers, particularly in rural areas; calls on the Commission to provide financial support for these types of project;

The elderly, children and families

21.   Advocates that loans with low interest rates which could support the adaptation of housing to the needs of the elderly could be given priority under the ERDF; proposes offering the opportunity for financial resources to be provided under certain conditions for sheltered housing complexes and multi-generational housing, with a view to preventing the isolation of the elderly and harnessing their creative potential, in order to guarantee a better quality of life for an ageing society;

22.   Encourages the Member States to bring welfare and healthcare benefits into line with the needs of everyone, especially families and children, and provide funding to ensure the availability of care at home and universal healthcare for elderly people, irrespective of their income, age and social status, so as to prevent the depopulation of rural areas and peripheral regions;

23.   Considers that public investment in health and care systems is important for social cohesion in Europe; calls on the Member States to ensure good healthcare provision in rural areas as well, for example through the provision of regional medical care gateway clinics and health services which make it possible to combat ‘medical desertification’, and, in border regions, through closer cross-border cooperation between clinics and between stakeholders, and by considering the possibility of using the Structural Funds to promote additional measures in the field of telemedicine and care and to support active ageing; calls on the Commission to find innovative ways of providing financial support for these actions;

24.   Warns of the danger of specific regional problems affecting the provision of services of general interest, in particular a lack of skilled workers in care-related professions in certain regions; believes that these regions should develop specific regional responses to the needs and difficulties of service provision, and use ESF funds to train care workers in order to ensure that a high quality of care is guaranteed and that new jobs are created, including through retraining programmes for the unemployed; points out that this makes a direct contribution to the EU2020 objective of creating more jobs;

25.   Stresses the importance of creating conditions which enable people to achieve a work/family/private life balance and, for example, of providing, where feasible, universally available, reliable, all-day childcare facilities of high quality for children of all ages, including facilities and opportunities for pre-school-learning, in order to prevent depopulation; recognises, at the same time, the valuable role played by extended families in taking care of children;

26.   Regards it as important that enough affordable housing space should be available for families, so that family and working life can be reconciled more effectively, because support for young families can help to increase the birth rate in Member States;

Migration/integration

27.   Emphasises that the migration might give rise to certain integration problems;

28.   Points out that the migration of qualified workforce from the new to the old Member States is one of the biggest demographic problems facing the new Memeber States and is having a negative impact on the age structure of their population; emphasises, further, that migration also concerns healthcare professionals and hence endangers the sustainability of the healthcare system in regions which are less developed;

29.   Recognises, however, that migration offers, in particular to regions experiencing net outflows, the opportunity to stem the negative impact of demographic change, and calls, therefore, on the Member States to recognise the integration of migrants as a strategically important policy measure;

30.   Calls on the Member States to agree on a common strategy on legal migration, not least since Europe is, especially in certain given sectors, reliant upon the migration of skilled workers (both between the Member States and from outside the EU, particularly those bordering the Union) for demographic reasons; considers that the Member States must seek to ensure that skilled workers are retained, in order to contribute to the balanced development of the regions and to alleviate the effects of demographic change;

31.   Proposes that more funding should be provided for the integration of immigrants in order to dispel prejudices, and that training and communal events to encourage exchanges could be promoted;

Employment

32.   Calls on the Commission to gear the ESF in such a way that account is taken of people at all stages of life and to ensure that more use is made of professional and voluntary potential in meeting the challenges of demographic change; notes that the experience and know-how of older people should be utilised, for example for coaching projects, to facilitate generational changeover, and that appropriate solutions are required for this purpose; takes the view that intergenerational communication offers an opportunity that should be seized;

33.   Believes that the regions should use ESF funds in a decisive manner to combat youth unemployment in order to ensure the social integration of young people and give them the opportunity to take up a suitable profession; points out that this could be achieved, for example, by supporting training measures for and entrepreneurship among young people;

34.   Believes that support should continue to be given with a view to raising the female employment rate; calls, therefore, for more women to be given access to skilled jobs and lifelong learning programmes, provided that the qualifications obtained correspond to the needs of the labour market; recommends that the Member States develop systems for encouraging employees to participate in special projects to help them reconcile work and family life;

35.   Stresses that, for European regions facing demographic challenges, establishing an environment conducive to a competitive and innovative private sector is central to creating new employment opportunities across all generations;

Analysis/best practice

36.   Considers that demographic developments in the regions should be statistically measured; calls on the Commission to submit proposals to make local, regional and national databases on demographic development comparable, so that data can be evaluated at European level and that the exchanges of best practices between States, regions and localities can be fostered;

37.   Calls on the Commission to improve the Demographic Vulnerability Index and calculate it every five years in order to show which regions in Europe are particularly vulnerable to demographic change; urges the Commission to devise pilot procedures with a view to charting the practices applied in the regions with the most exacting requirements;

38.   Calls on the Member States and regional and local authorities to enhance cooperation with local and regional stakeholders on issues connected with demographic change; considers that in border regions this cooperation must also tie in with the wishes and scope for cross-border initiatives; suggests that training programmes be developed in this field in order to create a better understanding and awareness of the issues involved; urges the regions to exchange best practices relating to the challenges linked to ageing;

39.   Proposes to the Commission that it should promote, as part of territorial cooperation, EU-wide networks in which regional and local authorities and civil society actors can learn from one another about tackling the problems resulting from demographic change;

40.   Asks the Commission to find ways of reshaping the idea of an Erasmus programme for local and regional elected representatives in an appropriate form and to explain its idea for a summer or winter school in greater detail, so that representatives from the European regions can exchange good experience and approaches to solutions on demographic matters;

41.   Calls on the Commission to produce a compilation of best practices, analyse them and share them with Member States and the regions so that they can be used as an example in devising policy to meet demographic challenges;

42.   Calls on Member States and regions to exchange experience, best practices and new approaches to preventing the negative consequences of demographic change;

o
o   o

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

(1) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2010)0400 .
(2) OJ C 184 E, 6.8.2009, p. 75.
(3) OJ C 292 E, 1.12.2006, p. 131.


Short selling and certain aspects of credit default swaps ***I
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Resolution
Consolidated text
European Parliament legislative resolution of 15 November 2011 on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on Short Selling and certain aspects of Credit Default Swaps (COM(2010)0482 – C7-0264/2010 – 2010/0251(COD) )
P7_TA(2011)0486 A7-0055/2011

(Ordinary legislative procedure: first reading)

The European Parliament ,

–   having regard to the Commission proposal to Parliament and the Council (COM(2010)0482 ),

–   having regard to Article 294(2) and Article 114 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, pursuant to which the Commission submitted the proposal to Parliament (C7-0264/2010 ),

–   having regard to Article 294(3) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

–   having regard to opinion of the European Central Bank(1) ,

–   having regard to the opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee(2) ,

–   having regard to the undertaking given by the Council representative by letter of 10 November 2011 to approve Parliament's position, in accordance with Article 294(4) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

–   having regard to Rule 55 of its Rules of Procedure,

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs and the opinion of the Committee on Legal Affairs (A7-0055/2011 ),

1.   Adopts its position at first reading hereinafter set out(3) ;

2.   Calls on the Commission to refer the matter to Parliament again if it intends to amend its proposal substantially or replace it with another text;

3.   Instructs its President to forward its position to the Council, the Commission and the national parliaments.

Position of the European Parliament adopted at first reading on 15 November 2011 with a view to the adoption of Regulation (EU) No .../2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council on short selling and certain aspects of credit default swaps

P7_TC1-COD(2010)0251


(As an agreement was reached between Parliament and Council, Parliament's position corresponds to the final legislative act, Regulation (EU) No 236/2012.)

(1) OJ C 91, 23.3.2011, p. 1.
(2) OJ C 84, 17.3.2011, p. 34.
(3) This position replaces the amendments adopted on 5 July 2011 (Texts adopted P7_TA(2011)0312 ).


European statistics on permanent crops ***I
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Resolution
Consolidated text
European Parliament legislative resolution of 15 November 2011 on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council concerning European statistics on permanent crops (COM(2010)0249 – C7-0129/2010 – 2010/0133(COD) )
P7_TA(2011)0487 A7-0188/2011

(Ordinary legislative procedure: first reading)

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to the Commission proposal to the Parliament and the Council (COM(2010)0249 ),

–   having regard to Article 294(2) and Article 338(1) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, pursuant to which the Commission submitted the proposal to Parliament (C7-0129/2010 ),

–   having regard to Article 294(3) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

–   having regard to the undertaking given by the Council representative by letter of 3 October 2011 to approve Parliament's position, in accordance with Article 294(4) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

–   having regard to Rule 55 of its Rules of Procedure,

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development (A7-0188/2011 ),

1.   Adopts its position at first reading hereinafter set out;

2.   Calls on the Commission to refer the matter to Parliament again if it intends to amend the proposal substantially or replace it with another text;

3.   Instructs its President to forward its position to the Council, the Commission and the national parliaments.

Position of the European Parliament adopted at first reading on 15 November 2011 with a view to the adoption of Regulation (EU) No .../2011 of the European Parliament and of the Council concerning European statistics on permanent crops and repealing Council Regulation (EEC) No 357/79 and Directive 2001/109/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council

P7_TC1-COD(2010)0133


(As an agreement was reached between Parliament and Council, Parliament's position corresponds to the final legislative act, Regulation (EU) No 1337/2011.)


Framework programme of the European Atomic Energy Community for nuclear research and training activities (direct actions) *
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European Parliament legislative resolution of 15 November 2011 on the proposal for a Council decision concerning the specific programme, to be carried out by means of direct actions by the Joint Research Centre, implementing the Framework Programme of the European Atomic Energy Community for nuclear research and training activities (2012 to 2013) (COM(2011)0074 – C7-0078/2011 – 2011/0044(NLE))
P7_TA(2011)0488 A7-0340/2011

(Consultation)

The European Parliament ,

–   having regard to the Commission proposal to the Council (COM(2011)0074 ),

–   having regard to Article 7 of the Euratom Treaty, pursuant to which the Council consulted Parliament (C7-0078/2011 ),

–   having regard to Rule 55 of its Rules of Procedure,

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (A7-0340/2011 ),

1.   Approves the Commission proposal as amended;

2.   Calls on the Commission to alter its proposal accordingly, in accordance with Article 293(2) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union and Article 106a of the Euratom 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 substantially amend the Commission proposal;

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

Text proposed by the Commission   Amendment
Amendment 1
Proposal for a decision
Recital 5
(5)   In implementing this specific programme, emphasis should be given to promoting the mobility and training of researchers and promoting innovation, in the European Union. In particular, the JRC should provide appropriate training in nuclear safety and security.
(5)   In implementing this specific programme, emphasis should be given to promoting the mobility and training of researchers and promoting innovation, in the European Union. In particular, the JRC should provide appropriate training in nuclear safety and security. Furthermore, the JRC should aid in the supervision of the quality and efficiency of training, as well as the coordination of existing educational programmes in the field of nuclear energy within the Union, and within candidate and neighbouring countries.
Amendment 2
Proposal for a decision
Recital 5 a (new)
(5a)    Increased attention and budget spending are needed for initiatives ancillary to core nuclear research, in particular as regards investment in human capital and actions aimed at addressing the risk of skills shortages in the coming years (e.g. grants to researchers in the nuclear field) and the consequent loss of leadership for the Union.
Amendment 3
Proposal for a decision
Recital 6 a (new)
(6a)    The implementation of the Framework Programme (2012 - 2013) should be based on the principles of simplicity, stability, transparency, legal certainty, consistency, excellence and trust following the recommendations of the European Parliament in its resolution of 11 November 2010 on simplifying the implementation of the Research Framework Programmes 1 .
1 Texts adopted, P7_TA(2010)0401 .
Amendment 4
Proposal for a decision
Recital 10 a (new)
(10a)    The management of Union research funding should be more trust-based and risk-tolerant at all stages of the projects, while ensuring accountability, with flexible Union rules.
Amendment 5
Proposal for a decision
Recital 11
(11)   Appropriate measures - proportionate to the European Union's financial interests - should be taken to monitor both the effectiveness of the financial support granted and the effectiveness of the utilisation of these funds in order to prevent irregularities and fraud. The necessary steps should be taken to recover funds lost, wrongly paid or incorrectly used in accordance with Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 1605/2002, Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 2342/2002, Council Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 2988/95 of 18 December 1995 on the protection of the European Communities' financial interests , Council Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 2185/96 of 11 November 1996 concerning on-the-spot checks and inspections carried out by the Commission in order to protect the European Communities' financial interests against fraud and other irregularities and Regulation (EC) No 1073/1999 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 May 1999 concerning investigations conducted by the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) .
(11)   Appropriate measures - proportionate to the European Union's financial interests - should be taken to monitor both the effectiveness of the financial support granted and the effectiveness of the utilisation of these funds in order to prevent irregularities and fraud. Special attention should be paid to the development of contractual arrangements that reduce the risk of failure to perform as well as the reallocation of risks and costs over time. The necessary steps should be taken to recover funds lost, wrongly paid or incorrectly used in accordance with Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 1605/2002, Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 2342/2002, Council Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 2988/95 of 18 December 1995 on the protection of the European Communities' financial interests , Council Regulation (Euratom, EC) No 2185/96 of 11 November 1996 concerning on-the-spot checks and inspections carried out by the Commission in order to protect the European Communities' financial interests against fraud and other irregularities and Regulation (EC) No 1073/1999 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 May 1999 concerning investigations conducted by the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) .
Amendment 6
Proposal for a decision
Article 2 – paragraph 1 – point c a (new)
(ca) decommissioning
Amendment 7
Proposal for a decision
Article 6 – paragraph 1
1.   The Commission shall draw up a multi-annual work programme for the implementation of the specific programme, setting out in greater detail the objectives and scientific and technological priorities set out in the Annex, and the timetable for implementation.
1.   The Commission shall draw up a multi-annual work programme for the implementation of the specific programme, setting out in greater detail the objectives and scientific and technological priorities set out in the Annex, together with the necessary funds, and the timetable for implementation.
Amendment 8
Proposal for a decision
Annex – section 3 – point 3.1 – point 3.1.1
The management of spent fuel and nuclear high-level waste involves their processing, conditioning, transport, interim storage and geological disposal. The ultimate goal is to prevent the release of radio-nuclides into the biosphere during all these stages over their very long decay time scale. The design, assessment and functioning of engineered and natural containment barrier systems over the relevant time scales are key to achieving these objectives and depend among other things on fuel and/or waste behaviour in the geological environment. Such studies are covered by this specific programme.

The management of spent fuel and nuclear high-level waste involves their processing, conditioning, transport, interim storage and geological disposal. The ultimate goal is to prevent the release of radio-nuclides into the biosphere during all these stages over their very long decay time scale. The design, assessment, monitoring and functioning of engineered and natural containment barrier systems over the relevant time scales are key to achieving these objectives and depend among other things on fuel and/or waste behaviour in the geological environment. Such studies are covered by this specific programme.

Amendment 9
Proposal for a decision
Annex – section 3 – point 3.1 – point 3.1.3
3.1.3.    Basic actinide research
deleted
To maintain competence and a leading position in the field of civil nuclear technology, it is essential to foster interdisciplinary basic research on nuclear materials as a resource from which new technological innovations can emerge. In turn, this requires knowledge of the response of the so-called ‘5f electronic layer elements’ (i.e. the actinides) and compounds to (usually extreme) thermodynamic parameters. Because of the small experimental data base and the intrinsic complexity of modelling, our current knowledge of these mechanisms is limited. Basic research addressing these issues is crucial for understanding the behaviour of these elements and to remain at the forefront of contemporary condensed matter physics. Developments in advanced modelling and simulation will be leveraged to boost the impact of the experimental programmes.

The JRC's basic actinide research programme will remain at the forefront of actinide physics and chemistry, the main goal being to provide world-class experimental facilities to scientists from universities and research centres. These will allow them to investigate the properties of actinide materials, in order to complete their education and to contribute to advances in nuclear sciences.

Amendment 10
Proposal for a decision
Annex – section 3 – point 3.1 – point 3.1.6 – paragraph 1
Title II, Chapter 3, of the Treaty provides for the establishment of basic safety standards for the health protection of workers and the general public against the dangers arising from ionising radiation. Articles 31 to 38 of the Treaty provides rules on the role of the Member States and the Commission with regard to the protection of human health, the control of levels of radioactivity in the environment, release into the environment, and nuclear waste management . Under Article 39 of the Treaty, the JRC provides assistance to the Commission in carrying out this task.

Title II, Chapter 3, of the Treaty provides for the establishment of basic safety standards for the health protection of workers and the general public against the dangers arising from ionising radiation. Articles 31 to 38 of the Treaty provides rules on the role of the Member States and the Commission with regard to the protection of human health, the control of levels of radioactivity in the environment and release into the environment. The JRC will continue, in collaboration with its international partners, to develop networks for measuring radioactivity in the environment while making all findings immediately available to the public . Under Article 39 of the Treaty, the JRC provides assistance to the Commission in carrying out this task.

Amendment 11
Proposal for a decision
Annex – section 3 – point 3.1 – point 3.1.6 – paragraph 2
In view of the new limits for radio-nuclides in drinking water and food ingredients, the JRC will develop analytical techniques and produce corresponding reference materials. Inter-laboratory comparisons will be organised with the monitoring laboratories of the Member States to assess the comparability of the reported monitoring data under Articles 35 and 36 of the Treaty, and to support the harmonisation of the radioactivity monitoring systems with reference test materials.

In view of the new limits for radio-nuclides in drinking water and food ingredients, the JRC will develop analytical techniques and produce corresponding reference materials. Inter-laboratory comparisons will be organised with the monitoring laboratories of the Member States to assess the comparability of the reported monitoring data under Articles 35 and 36 of the Treaty, and to support the harmonisation of the radioactivity monitoring systems with reference test materials. This activity will take into account the Council directive, to be adopted pursuant to Article 31 of the Euratom Treaty, laying down requirements for the protection of the health of the general public with regard to radioactive substances in water intended for human consumption.

Amendment 12
Proposal for a decision
Annex – section 3 – point 3.2 – point 3.2.1
Nuclear safety and the reliability of operating installations is permanently subject to optimisation in order to meet the new challenges posed by market liberalisation, extended plant operation, and the so-called nuclear industry ‘renaissance’. In order to maintain and improve the safety level of both Western and Russian-type nuclear power plants, advanced and refined safety assessment methodologies and corresponding analytical tools have to be extended and validated. Targeted experimental investigations are carried out at the JRC to improve the understanding of the underlying physical phenomena and processes in order to enable validation and verification of deterministic and probabilistic safety assessments, based on advanced modelling of plant processes (reactivity and thermal-hydraulic), of components under operational loads/ageing, and of human and organisational factors. The JRC will also continue to play a central role in the establishment and operation of the European Clearinghouse for Operational Experience Feedback for the benefit of all Member States. It will provide topical reports on specific plant issues and facilitate the efficient sharing and implementation of operational experience feedback to improve the safety of nuclear power plants, for the benefit of all European regulators.

Nuclear safety and the reliability of operating installations is permanently subject to optimisation in order to meet the new challenges posed by market liberalisation, extended plant operation, and the so-called nuclear industry ‘renaissance’. In order to maintain and improve the safety level of both Western and Russian-type nuclear power plants, advanced and refined safety assessment methodologies and corresponding analytical tools have to be extended and validated. Targeted experimental investigations are carried out at the JRC to improve the understanding of the underlying physical phenomena and processes in order to enable validation and verification of deterministic and probabilistic safety assessments, based on advanced modelling of plant processes (reactivity and thermal-hydraulic), of components under operational loads/ageing, and of human and organisational factors. The JRC will also continue to play a central role in the establishment and operation of the European Clearinghouse for Operational Experience Feedback for the benefit of all Member States. It will provide topical reports on specific plant issues and facilitate the efficient sharing and implementation of operational experience feedback to improve the safety of nuclear power plants, for the benefit of all European regulators. In view of the growing importance of the decommissioning of nuclear reactors and the associated expanding market and engineering aspects, the JRC will also enhance its scientific expertise in the field. It will include in its programme key aspects on research and training of experts on decommissioning of reactors (methodologies, on-the-job training, and scientific background).


Participation of undertakings, research centres and universities in indirect actions under the framework programme of the European Atomic Energy Community *
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European Parliament legislative resolution of 15 November 2011 on the proposal for a Council regulation (Euratom) laying down the rules for the participation of undertakings, research centres and universities in indirect actions under the Framework Programme of the European Atomic Energy Community and for the dissemination of research results (2012-2013) (COM(2011)0071 – C7-0076/2011 – 2011/0045(NLE))
P7_TA(2011)0489 A7-0345/2011

(Consultation)

The European Parliament ,

–   having regard to the Commission proposal to the Council (COM(2011)0071 ),

–   having regard to Articles 7 and 10 of the Euratom Treaty, pursuant to which the Council consulted Parliament (C7-0076/2011 ),

–   having regard to Rule 55 of its Rules of Procedure,

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (A7-0345/2011 ),

1.   Approves the Commission proposal as amended;

2.   Calls on the Commission to alter its proposal accordingly, in accordance with Article 293(2) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union and Article 106a of the Euratom 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 substantially amend the Commission proposal;

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

Text proposed by the Commission   Amendment
Amendment 1
Proposal for a regulation
Recital 1
(1)   The Framework Programme of the European Atomic Energy Community for nuclear research and training activities for 2012-2013, hereinafter ‘the Framework Programme (2012-2013)’, was adopted by Council Decision No …/…/Euratom of … concerning the Framework Programme of the European Atomic Energy Community for nuclear research and training activities (2012-2013). It is the responsibility of the Commission to ensure the implementation of the Framework Programme (2012-2013) and its specific programmes, including the related financial aspects.
(1)   The Framework Programme of the European Atomic Energy Community for nuclear research and training activities for 2012-2013, hereinafter ‘the Framework Programme (2012-2013)’, which was adopted by Council Decision No …/…/Euratom of … concerning the Framework Programme of the European Atomic Energy Community for nuclear research and training activities (2012-2013, is intended to complement the other actions of the Union in the area of research policy that are necessary for the implementation of the Europe 2020 strategy, in particular those relating to education and training, competitiveness and innovation, industry, employment and the environment. It is the responsibility of the Commission to ensure the implementation of the Framework Programme (2012-2013) and its specific programmes, including the related financial aspects.
Amendment 2
Proposal for a regulation
Recital 4 a (new)
(4a)    The Framework Programme (2012-2013) should contribute to achieving the Innovation Union that is one of the flagship initiatives of the Europe 2020 strategy, by reinforcing competition with a view to scientific excellence and accelerating the implementation of key innovations in the field of nuclear energy, especially as regards nuclear fusion and safety, while also playing a part in meeting the challenges of the energy sector and climate change.
Amendment 3
Proposal for a regulation
Recital 4 b (new)
(4b)    The design and implementation of the Framework Programme (2012-2013) should be based on the principles of simplicity, stability, transparency, legal certainty, consistency, excellence and trust following the recommendations of the European Parliament in its resolution of 11 November 2010 on simplifying the implementation of the Research Framework Programmes 1 .
1 Texts adopted, P7_TA(2010)0401 .
Amendment 4
Proposal for a regulation
Recital 5 a (new)
(5a)    Increased attention and budget spending are needed for initiatives ancillary to core nuclear research, in particular as regards investment in human capital and actions aimed at addressing the risk of skills shortages in the coming years (e.g. grants to researchers in the nuclear field) and the consequent loss of leadership for the Union.
Amendment 5
Proposal for a regulation
Recital 6 a (new)
(6a)    Special attention should be paid to the development of contractual arrangements that reduce the risk of failure to perform as well as the reallocation of risks and costs over time.
Amendment 6
Proposal for a regulation
Recital 8
(8)   The Framework Programme (2012-2013) should promote participation from the outermost regions of the Community, as well as from a wide range of undertakings, research centres and universities.
(8)   The Framework Programme (2012-2013) should promote participation from the outermost regions of the Community, as well as from a wide range of undertakings, research centres and universities, whose research activities should be based on respect for fundamental ethical principles, especially those laid down in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union .
Amendment 7
Proposal for a regulation
Recital 23 a (new)
(23a)    The implementation of ITER in Europe, pursuant to the agreement of 21 November 2006 on the establishment of the ITER International Fusion Energy Organisation in the context of the joint implementation of the ITER project, should constitute the central element of research activity in the area of fusion under the Framework Programme (2012-2013).
Amendment 8
Proposal for a regulation
Article 11 – paragraph 2
They may also lay down, according to the nature and objectives of the indirect action, additional conditions to be met as regards type of participant and, where appropriate, place of establishment.

They may also lay down, according to the nature and objectives of the indirect action, additional justified conditions to be met as regards type of participant and, where appropriate, place of establishment.

Amendment 9
Proposal for a regulation
Article 12 – paragraph 3
3.   Calls for proposals shall have clear objectives so as to ensure that applicants do not respond needlessly.
3.   Calls for proposals shall have clear quantitative and qualitative objectives so as to ensure that applicants do not respond needlessly.
Amendment 10
Proposal for a regulation
Article 14 – paragraph 1 – subparagraph 2
The criteria shall be those of excellence, impact and implementation. Within these conditions, the work programme shall further specify the evaluation and selection criteria and may add additional requirements, weightings and thresholds, or set out further details on the application of the criteria.

The criteria shall be those of excellence, impact and implementation. Within these conditions, the work programme shall further specify the evaluation and selection criteria and may add clearly justified additional requirements, weightings and thresholds, or set out further details on the application of the criteria.

Amendment 11
Proposal for a regulation
Article 14 – paragraph 3 a (new)
3a.    All stages of the process should be optimised in order to avoid delay and encourage cost-effectiveness. That involves access to draft work programmes, publication of calls for proposals, drafting of proposals, the selection procedures and the time taken to approve and to pay grants.
Amendment 12
Proposal for a regulation
Article 16 – paragraph 2 – subparagraph 4
Appropriate measures shall be taken to ensure a reasonable gender balance when appointing groups of independent experts .

Appropriate measures shall be taken when appointing groups of independent experts to ensure a reasonable gender balance and a balance between Member States undertaking research and training in the nuclear field .

Amendment 13
Proposal for a regulation
Article 16 – paragraph 2 – subparagraph 4 a (new)
Appropriate measures shall be taken to ensure an adequate balance between industry (including SMEs) and academia when appointing groups of independent experts.

Amendment 14
Proposal for a regulation
Article 30 – paragraph 3 – subparagraph 1 – point e
(e) they must be exclusive of non-eligible costs, in particular identifiable indirect taxes including value added tax, duties, interest owed, provisions for possible future losses or charges, exchange losses, cost related to return on capital, costs declared or incurred, or reimbursed in respect of another Union project, debt and debt service charges, excessive or reckless expenditure, and any other cost that does not meet the conditions referred to in points (a) to (d).
(e) they must be exclusive of non-eligible costs, in particular identifiable indirect taxes including non-recoverable value added tax, duties, interest owed, exchange losses, cost related to return on capital, costs declared or incurred, or reimbursed in respect of another Union project, debt and debt service charges, excessive or reckless expenditure, and any other cost that does not meet the conditions referred to in points (a) to (d).
Amendment 15
Proposal for a regulation
Article 52 – paragraph 2 – point a
(a) under the Contracts of Association at a rate not exceeding 40 %: expenditure of specific cooperative projects between the Associates which have been recommended for priority support by the consultative committee and approved by the Commission; priority support will concentrate on actions of relevance to the ITER/DEMO, except in the case of projects already awarded priority status in earlier framework programmes ;
(a) under the Contracts of Association at a rate not exceeding 40 %: expenditure of specific cooperative projects between the Associates which have been recommended for priority support by the consultative committee and approved by the Commission; priority support will concentrate on experiments aimed at optimising the performance of ITER and contributing to the definition of the DEMO programme ;

Implementation of Professional Qualifications Directive
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European Parliament resolution of 15 November 2011 on the implementation of the Professional Qualifications Directive (2005/36/EC) (2011/2024(INI) )
P7_TA(2011)0490 A7-0373/2011

The European Parliament ,

–   having regard to Directive 2005/36/EC of the European Parliament and the Council of 7 September 2005 on the recognition of professional qualifications(1) ,

–   having regard to its resolution of 19 February 2009 on the creation of a European professional card for service providers(2) ,

–   having regard to the judgment of the Court of Justice of 19 January 2006 in Case C-330/03, Colegio de Ingenieros de Caminos, Canales y Puertos (ECR 2006),

–   having regard to the EU Citizenship Report 2010 – Dismantling the obstacles to EU citizens' rights (COM(2010)0603 ),

–   having regard to the public consultation on Directive 2005/36/EC, launched by the Commission in March 2011,

–   having regard to the Commission Communication of 3 March 2010 entitled ‘Europe 2020, A strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth’ (COM(2010)2020 ),

–   having regard to Mario Monti's report to the Commission of 9 May 2010 entitled ‘A new strategy for the Single Market’,

–   having regard to the hearing it held with national parliaments on 26 October 2010 on the transposition and application of Directive 2005/36/EC,

–   having regard to the study it commissioned on the recognition of professional qualifications (PE 447.514),

–   having regard to the Commission Communication of 27 October 2010 entitled ‘Towards a Single Market Act, For a highly competitive social market economy’ (COM(2010)0608 ),

–   having regard to SOLVIT's 2010 annual report on the development and performance of the SOLVIT network in 2010,

–   having regard to its resolution of 6 April 2011 on a Single Market for Europeans(3) ,

–   having regard to the Commission Communication of 13 April 2011 entitled ‘Single Market Act, Twelve levers to boost growth and strengthen confidence’ (COM(2011)0206 ),

–   having regard to the Commission Green Paper of 22 June 2011 on Modernising the Professional Qualifications Directive (COM(2011)0367 ),

–   having regard to the Commission working document of 5 July 2011 on the summary of the responses to the public consultation on the modernisation of the Professional Qualifications Directive(4) ,

–   having regard to the Commission working document of 5 July 2011 on the evaluation of the Professional Qualifications Directive(5) ,

–   having regard to Rules 48 and 119(2) of its Rules of Procedure,

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection and to the opinions of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs and the Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (A7-0373/2011 ),

A.   whereas changing demographics will make the mobility of professionals across the European Union increasingly important;

B.   whereas changing labour markets call for greater transparency, simplification and flexibility in the rules on the recognition of professional qualifications;

C.   whereas professional mobility is a key factor for economic development and sustainable economic recovery;

D.   whereas, according to the findings of the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (Cedefop), demand for highly skilled workers is expected to rise by over 16 million jobs in the European Union between now and 2020;

E.   whereas the right to obtain employment or provide services in another Member State is a fundamental right under the Treaties and constitutes a concrete example of how citizens can benefit from the Single Market;

F.   whereas free movement of persons within the EU and the right to recognition of merit and professional skills will only exist when the invisible barriers that now exist have been reduced to a minimum and certain national rules that currently disproportionately hinder use of the right to skilled jobs have disappeared;

G.   whereas ensuring that the system for recognition of professional qualifications is designed in the best possible way is a prerequisite for enabling everyone to fully enjoy the benefits of freedom of movement;

H.   whereas the Single Market Act highlighted the fact that modernising the system for recognising professional qualifications is key to enhancing economic growth and boosting the confidence of members of the professions and of the public;

I.   whereas one of the main reasons for difficulties in recognising academic titles and professional qualifications is a lack of confidence in the criteria used for accreditation and granting academic qualifications in the country of origin, so that there is an urgent need to establish automatic recognition measures by removing prejudice and formal national obstacles to recognition;

J.   whereas some 100 000 decisions on recognition have been taken under the Directive since 2007, making mobility possible for 85 000 professionals(6) ;

K.   whereas health professionals are the most mobile of the regulated professions in the EU, with some 57 200 doctors, nurses, dentists, pharmacists, midwives and veterinary surgeons being granted recognition between 2007 and 2010;

L.   whereas there is still a gap between citizens' expectations and reality, with more than 16 % of SOLVIT cases in 2010 relating to recognition of professional qualifications(7) ;

M.   whereas it is difficult to identify the authority responsible for recognition of professional qualifications, the procedures relating to which are complex;

N.   whereas the Directive on the application of patients' rights in cross-border health care requires that Member States of treatment ensure that information on the right to practise of health professionals listed in national or local registers established on their territory is made available to the authorities of other Member States, with an exchange of information taking place via the Internal Market Information system;

O.   whereas SOLVIT cases relating to professional qualifications numbered 220 in 2010, with over two thirds of these cases emerging from just four Member States;

P.   whereas Directive 2005/36/EC consolidated rules set out in 15 previous directives adopted from the 1960s onwards;

Q.   whereas Directive 2005/36/EC was not transposed on time by all the Member States, only being fully implemented three years after the original deadline;

R.   whereas the proper application of this Directive would reinforce the human dimension of the Single Market;

S.   whereas the introduction of a European professional card could simplify and speed up the process of recognising professional qualifications;

Simplification for citizens

1.   Believes that the free movement of a growing number of highly skilled persons and of workers is one of the key benefits of European cooperation and of a competitive internal market, an important factor in the development of economies across the EU and a right enjoyed by every EU citizen; firmly believes that workers' mobility should be enhanced for citizens of the EU and that indirect barriers should be eliminated, provided that a balance is struck between mobility and the quality of professional qualifications;

2.   Encourages all initiatives that aim to facilitate cross-border mobility as a means to the efficient functioning of labour markets and a way of enhancing economic growth and competitiveness within the EU; recognises the need for modernisation of Directive 2005/36/EC in order to guarantee a clear, robust legal framework;

3.   Calls on the Commission and the Member States to further encourage mobility among professionals; argues that the relatively low numbers of mobile professionals is cause for concern and suggests that strategies be devised to tackle this problem; underlines the result of the recent Eurobarometer survey according to which more than 50 per cent of young people in Europe are willing or keen to work abroad(8) ;

4.   Calls on Member States to promote the benefits of the directive among their citizens and professionals;

5.   Considers that dialogue between stakeholders with a view to regularly updating the requirements for initial training, recognition of experience and continuous professional development has an essential role to play in harmonising training; considers, moreover, that superimposing a ‘28th regime’ on national systems is not the way to resolve the issue of differences in training in a clear and satisfactory manner;

6.   Points out that the principle of partial access is seen as undesirable by the majority of respondents to the Commission's public consultation, is difficult to monitor in practice and must be clarified; stresses, however, that partial access could have benefits, but only for those professions where tasks can be clearly demarcated; calls for a thorough evaluation of the principle, and for it to be applied on a case-by-case basis, but excluding regulated professions with health and safety implications;

7.   Welcomes the overall success of the automatic recognition procedure; stresses, however, that the recognition process under the general system based on professional experience is excessively cumbersome and time-consuming for both the competent authorities and those engaged in certain professions;

8.   Notes, while underlining the importance of the prior declaration system, that numerous concerns were raised in the Commission's public consultation of 2011, and that measures to improve temporary mobility for professionals should therefore form a key aspect of the forthcoming revision of the Professional Qualifications Directive; calls for further clarification of the concept of temporary and occasional provision of services, bearing in mind that one definition covering all professions would be impossible to develop and would undermine subsidiarity;

9.   Argues that the competent authorities face difficulties in applying the prior declaration regime as there is no consistent approach to assessing the temporary and occasional nature of a service, and that it is extremely difficult to monitor the service providers' activities on the ground; calls on the Commission to evaluate the current provisions set out in Article 7 of the directive and to explain further the question of existing case-law, with regard specifically to professions with public health and safety implications; calls on the Commission to present its conclusions to Parliament;

10.   Stresses that Article 7(4) of the Directive, which allows Member States to carry out prior checks on qualifications for those professions related to health and safety and not already covered under automatic recognition, is considered essential by a vast majority of stakeholders; argues, however, that in order to enhance transparency, Member States should clarify which professions they consider to have health and safety implications;

11.   Agrees with the Commission that the definition of ‘regulated education and training’ is too restrictive and may have an undue impact on temporary mobility for professionals; considers that the definition should encompass any training that allows a profession to be pursued in the Member State of origin;

12.   Calls on the Commission to make it clear that a declaration for the purposes of temporary mobility should in principle be valid throughout the territory of a Member State, and to assess whether a yearly declaration is needed;

13.   Calls for service providers who provide their services exclusively to consumers escorted by them to other Member States, and who therefore have no contact with local consumers in the host Member State (e.g. tour guides, trainers, medical personnel accompanying sportsmen or -women), to be exempted from the prior declaration requirement pursuant to Article 7; advocates this in the case of all services that do not concern public health and safety;

14.   Calls on the Commission to coordinate and consolidate the various sources of information currently available on issues relating to the recognition of professional qualifications – including National Contact Points (NCPs) and professional bodies – with the Your Europe portal, which signposts the single points of contact currently available under the Services Directive; argues that this will provide professionals, in their own language, with a public interface where they can upload documents, access and print their professional card, and obtain up-to-date information on the recognition process, and administrative information on competent authorities, professional bodies and the documents to be submitted;

15.   Argues that dialogue and exchanges of information within each individual profession must be enhanced, and that cooperation between the competent authorities and NCPs must be improved, at both national and intra-Member State level; calls on the Commission to facilitate networks of competent authorities and professional bodies for the most mobile professions, to exchange general information about national processes and education requirements, and to share best practice and investigate possibilities for deeper cooperation, such as common platforms; considers that public authorities and the social partners must engage in a structured dialogue on how to enhance the professional integration of young people;

16.   Calls on the Member States to improve the efficiency of public authorities in providing information both about workers' rights and about procedures for the recognition of professional qualifications, thereby reducing the deterrent effect of bureaucracy, as part of measures to boost mobility;

17.   Calls on the Member States, therefore, to use modern communication technologies, including databases and online registration procedures, to ensure that the deadlines set under the general recognition system are met and that significant improvements are made in terms of access to information and knowledge of procedures;

18.   Calls for a mandatory obligation for competent authorities to provide up-to-date contact information to all other competent authorities in their given profession;

19.   Calls on the Commission to set guidelines regarding the time period within which an individual who has submitted a complete dossier should expect a decision from the competent authority; reducing this time period through greater use of IMI and optimising procedures would also facilitate mobility; calls on the Member States to provide sufficient resources to ensure professional recognition within a reasonable time period;

20.   Calls on the Member States, the competent authorities and the Commission to provide for greater transparency, so that applicants or persons affected can be given a full explanation as to the reasons for the non-recognition of their diploma or professional qualification;

21.   Argues that the current procedure for notification of new diplomas is too complex; calls on the Commission to facilitate notification of new diplomas and to update Annex V of the Directive in a more timely manner;

22.   Urges the Member States, the competent authorities and the Commission to ensure that recognition of diplomas and certificates is on a par with recognition of professional qualifications, so as to create a genuine single market at European and international level and thereby avoid regulating what has already been regulated;

23.   Stresses that compensation measures, which allow competent authorities to impose an aptitude test or an adaptation period of up to three years and which play an invaluable role in ensuring consumer and patient safety, must be reviewed in order to assess their suitability for resolving existing problems; calls for better explanations and for an evaluation of the Code of Conduct in order to assist competent authorities;

24.   Calls for non-binding EU guidelines on the application of compensation measures to be devised in consultation with competent authorities, professional bodies, Member States and the European Parliament;

25.   Stresses that it is particularly complicated and costly for the authorities to examine qualification levels pursuant to Article 11, and very difficult for citizens to understand; suggests that the five levels of qualification pursuant to Article 11 often lead to confusion with the eight levels of the European Qualifications Framework; agrees with the Commission that deleting Article 11 and Annexes II and III would mean that the competent authorities would no longer be required to determine the eligibility of an applicant according to pre-defined levels of qualifications but could focus on identifying whether there are substantial differences in training in order to decide whether compensation measures are necessary; notes, therefore, that deleting levels of qualification, including Annexes II and III, would considerably simplify the recognition process;

26.   Points out that education and training systems still differ substantially from one Member State to another; takes the view, therefore, that periods usually spent at vocational schools as part of sandwich training should count towards the minimum periods of schooling required for certain professions;

27.   Calls on the Member States and the competent authorities, with the support of the Commission, to institute studies with a view to establishing a European Competences, Qualifications and Occupations taxonomy in order to ascertain whether formal qualifications and occupations correspond to the same skills and qualifications in the various Member States and in order to develop a European analytical tool;

28.   Takes the view that the Code of Conduct should be circulated more widely in order to ensure that the directive is implemented more effectively since this will promote uniformity in the way its provisions are interpreted;

Updating existing provisions

29.   Calls on the Commission to reintroduce the mechanisms for dialogue among Member States, competent authorities and professional bodies with a view to updating, as regularly as possible and in line with scientific and technical developments, the minimum training requirements for the sectoral professions in order to reflect current professional practice, to update the current classification of economic activities based on professional experience, and to establish a simple mechanism for continually updating minimum training requirements; taking into account the future developments of the Bologna and Copenhagen Processes, urges the Commission to evaluate the introduction of a competence-based approach by defining minimum training requirements in terms not only of duration of training, but also of learning outcomes;

30.   Urges the Commission not to fragment the process of modernising automatic recognition, as is suggested in the Green Paper, and to ensure that Parliament is given proper oversight when substantial changes are made to the directive;

31.   Welcomes recent reforms undertaken as part of the Bologna process and the benefits this process provides for European students in terms of mobility and employability; encourages the European Commission to assist Member States in making the European Credit Transfer Scheme (ECTS) more transparent and comparable in order for ECTS to become an essential tool for facilitating the mutual recognition of qualifications and, ultimately, mobility;

32.   Calls on the Commission to consider the importance of standardised learning outcomes and clinical competencies when setting out minimum training requirements;

33.   Calls on the Commission to look into the possibility of further extending the scope for automatic recognition in future;

34.   Asks for further clarification of the proposed lengthening of the duration of general education as an admission requirement for nurse and midwife training;

35.   Asks for further clarification of the proposed deletion of Article 21(4) of the Professional Qualifications Directive;

36.   Calls on the Member States to carry out a comparison of minimum training requirements and to organise more regular exchanges among themselves, and also among the competent authorities, with a view to bringing minimum training requirements more closely into line;

37.   Points out that the assessment of the implementation of Directive 2005/36/EC requires a list to be drawn up of certificates or any other evidence of formal qualification recognised in one or more Member States but not recognised in other Member States; the list should also include cases where citizens who have obtained a degree in a Member State other than their state of origin are refused recognition in their own Member State when they return;

38.   Highlights the high number of regulated professions in the European Union and calls on the Member States to reconsider the justification for the classification of certain professions, in order to ascertain whether formal qualifications and occupations correspond to the same skills and qualifications in all the Member States; considers that reducing the total number of regulated professions in the EU would enhance mobility; notes, however, that classification may be justified by consumer protection considerations, particularly in the case of the medical, legal and technical professions;

39.   Argues that the most effective way of making free movement of professionals possible would be to reduce the number of regulated professions in the EU; calls on the Commission to include in a revised directive a mechanism whereby Member States can check their regulatory provisions, with the exception of those related to healthcare professions, and remove them if they are not proportionate;

Upgrading public health and safety

40.   Argues that protection of consumer and patient safety is a vital objective in the context of the revision of the directive and that the success of this directive depends greatly on ensuring mobility while guaranteeing safety; draws attention to the special status of healthcare professionals;

41.   Stresses that there have been serious problems associated with professionals continuing to practise in the EU despite being suspended or struck off;

42.   Calls for the establishment, within the framework of the Internal Market Information System (IMI), for those professions not already covered under the Services Directive, of a proactive alert mechanism which would make it compulsory to issue an alert to all Member States when a regulatory action is taken against a professional's registration or their right to provide services, on condition that the alert system contains no other information, respects the presumption of innocence and complies with existing data protection rules;

43.   Points out that the public and patients need better assurances that healthcare professionals benefiting from recognition have kept their skills and knowledge up to date;

44.   Highlights the call from stakeholders to place greater emphasis on continuous professional development (CPD), including (life-long) formal, non-formal and informal learning, and on the need to assess it; points out that global competition and the orientation towards a knowledge-based economy are creating new challenges for skills development and education; calls on the Commission, therefore, to explore methods of documenting all education, perhaps via European Skill Passports and the European Qualifications Framework, as well as IMI, and to devise a comparability table of the various CPD systems existing in the Member States; calls further on the Commission to evaluate whether an appropriate solution to the varying levels of CPD for healthcare workers might be compensation measures; encourages the competent authorities to provide information on CPD during the recognition process, to exchange best practices in this area and to exchange information on CPD, especially in respect of those sectors and Member States in which it is mandatory;

45.   Stresses the importance of ongoing training being specifically tailored to the needs of the employment market in each of the Member States so as to ensure better use of training resources for those in employment;

46.   Stresses that an extension of the recognition procedure to cover third-country qualifications may give rise to abuses of the system in the form of forum shopping, and would be extremely dangerous for the competent authorities in the host Member State;

47.   Insists that, for healthcare professionals, the ability to communicate with colleagues and patients is fundamental in terms of avoiding dangerous or potentially life-threatening situations;

48.   Takes the view that Article 53 of Directive 2005/36/EC, on language requirements, must be clarified, as there is ongoing controversy over the interpretation of this provision among the Commission, the ECJ and the Member States; calls, therefore, on the Commission and the Member States to revise the language requirement regime for the healthcare professions by providing the competent authorities with the necessary flexibility to ascertain and, only if necessary, test the technical and conversational language skills of professionals as part of the recognition process; considers that, without prejudicing the ability of employers to satisfy themselves regarding the language competence of professionals when recruiting to a particular post, the principle of proportionality should be scrupulously applied in this regard, so that such tests do not become an additional barrier;

49.   Argues that language competence is crucial in facilitating a professional's integration in another country, ensuring the quality of the services provided and protecting consumer and patient safety;

50.   Stresses that, in order to protect patients, practitioners providing e-health services should offer the same quality and safety standards as in the provision of non-electronic healthcare services; it should therefore be clarified that the requirements of this directive and, if necessary, additional ones should apply to e-health service providers;

51.   Points out that the development of e-health and of a remote healthcare system requires that, after their training, nurses and doctors are able to take care of patients of different nationalities, and that it will therefore be necessary to promote collaboration among training centres, hospitals and universities in different countries in the case of the professionals and graduates who have to take care of patients using these tools;

Integrating professionals and injecting confidence into the system

52.   Welcomes the results of the professional card pilot projects announced at the Single Market Forum in Krakow; insists that any professional card must be voluntary, should certify the academic and professional experience acquired and must be linked to the IMI system; believes that a professional card could be a useful tool to aid mobility for some professions, simplify administrative procedures and enhance safety; calls on the Commission, prior to the introduction of any card, to provide evidence of the possible added value for the recognition process; stresses that the introduction of any card must meet specific safety and data protection conditions, and insists that the necessary safeguards against abuse and fraud must be established;

53.   Reiterates that if the EU is to reduce the uneven implementation and enforcement of Directive 2005/36/EC on the recognition of professional qualifications throughout the EU-27, all Member States need to have more confidence and faith in each other's systems;

54.   Supports the extension of the IMI to professions not yet covered by this information system, as set out in the proposal for a Regulation on administrative cooperation through the Internal Market Information System(9) (the ‘IMI Regulation’), and to the professions which are not covered by Directive 2005/36/EC;

55.   Calls for mandatory introduction of the IMI for competent authorities in order to facilitate proactive administrative cooperation and simplify recognition procedures; considers that the IMI could be further enhanced, for instance by expanding the features available in order to facilitate the work of national authorities; asks the Commission to put in place accompanying training and technical support measures in order to ensure that full use is made of the potential efficiency gains the system offers;

56.   Calls for enhanced mobility of graduates and for compliance with the judgment in the Morgenbesser case(10) ; argues that Member States should encourage remunerated supervised practice for graduates from other Member States if they offer such a possibility to their own nationals; stresses, moreover, that the professional experience acquired during the supervised practice should be recognised in the home Member State;

57.   Highlights the fact that the concept of common platforms, as outlined in Article 15 of the directive, has not been successful in that no such platforms currently exist; argues that they have the potential to be useful tools in facilitating mobility and that they should be defined and controlled by the professionals themselves; welcomes the Commission's wish to improve this concept in a revised article; calls on the Commission to allow Member States the necessary flexibility to chose whether or not to take part in any common platform and to lower the threshold for Member State participation;

58.   Argues that the introduction of any common platform should be made contingent on an internal market test and subject to parliamentary oversight;

59.   Highlights the fact that this Directive should integrate data protection, in line with Directive 95/46/EC, and that revisions of this directive should also include developments in data protection provisions; notes that there should be up-to-date contact information for the part of the competent authority responsible for data management, and clear policies regarding the storage and use of a professional's data, as well as guidelines for the correction of erroneous information

60.   Notes that the negotiations between the EU and Switzerland have led to an agreement regarding the amending of Annex III of the Agreement between the European Community and its Member States, of the one part, and the Swiss Confederation, of the other, on the free movement of persons so as to include Directive 2005/36/EC; notes that the agreement foresees a provisional application of most of the Directive, with the exception of Title II, which requires adaptations in Switzerland, and that the Council Decision regarding the abovementioned agreement will lapse if the Swiss fail to notify the completion of their internal procedures for the implementation of the Decision within 24 months of the adoption of the decision; is committed to following developments on this issue closely;

61.   Calls on the Commission to ensure that any revised directive is properly transposed by the deadline set; urges the Member States to give the directive due priority;

o
o   o

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

(1) OJ L 255, 30.9.2005, p. 22.
(2) OJ C 76 E, 25.3.2010, p. 42.
(3) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2011)0145 .
(4) http://ec.europa.eu/internal_market/qualifications/docs/news/20110706-summary-replies-public-consultation-pdq_en.pdf.
(5) http://ec.europa.eu/internal_market/qualifications/docs/news/20110706-evaluation-directive-200536ec_en.pdf.
(6) European Commission, ‘Evaluation of the Professional Qualifications Directive’, Brussels, 5 July 2011.
(7) European Commission, DG MARKT, SOLVIT 2010 Report: Development and performance of the SOLVIT network in 2010, (2011).
(8) European Commission - Flash Eurobarometer, ‘Youth on the Move: Analytical Report’, May 2011.
(9) Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on administrative cooperation through the Internal Market Information System (‘the IMI Regulation’), (COM(2011)0522 ).
(10) Court of Justice judgment of 13 November 2003, Case C-313/01, Morgenbesser, ECR I–13467.


Consumer policy
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European Parliament resolution of 15 November 2011 on a new strategy for consumer policy (2011/2149(INI) )
P7_TA(2011)0491 A7-0369/2011

The European Parliament ,

–   having regard to the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, as incorporated into the Treaties by Article 6 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU),

–   having regard to Article 26 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), which stipulates that ‘the internal market shall comprise an area without internal frontiers in which the free movement of goods, persons, services and capital is ensured in accordance with the provisions of the Treaties’,

–   having regard to Article 3(3) of the TEU, which commits the Union to working for ‘a highly competitive social market economy, aiming at full employment and social progress, and a high level of protection and improvement of the quality of the environment’,

–   having regard to Article 9 of the TFEU, which stipulates that ‘in defining and implementing its policies and activities, the Union shall take into account requirements linked to the promotion of a high level of employment, the guarantee of adequate social protection, the fight against social exclusion, and a high level of education, training and protection of human health’,

–   having regard to Article 11 of the TFEU, which stipulates that ‘environmental protection requirements must be integrated into the definition and implementation of the Union policies and activities, in particular with a view to promoting sustainable development’,

–   having regard to Article 12 of the TFEU, which stipulates that ‘consumer protection requirements shall be taken into account in defining and implementing other Union policies and activities’,

–   having regard to Article 14 of the TFEU and Protocol 26 thereto on services of general (economic) interest,

–   having regard to the Commission communication to the European Council on Europe 2020, a strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth (COM(2010)2020 ),

–   having regard to its legislative resolution of 6 July 2011 on the Council position at first reading with a view to the adoption of a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the provision of food information to consumers, amending Regulations (EC) No 1924/2006 and (EC) No 1925/2006 and repealing Directives 87/250/EEC, 90/496/EEC, 1999/10/EC, 2000/13/EC, 2002/67/EC, 2008/5/EC and Regulation (EC) No 608/2004(1) ,

–   having regard to its legislative resolution of 23 June 2011 on the proposal for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on consumer rights(2) ,

–   having regard to the European Consumer Centres' Network 2010 Annual Report, Office for Official Publications of the European Union, 2011,

–   having regard to the Commission Staff Working Paper of 7 April 2011 entitled ‘Consumer Empowerment in the EU’ (SEC(2011)0469 ),

–   having regard to the Commission communication of 11 March 2011 entitled ‘Consumers at home in the single market’, 5th Edition of the Consumer Conditions Scoreboard (SEC(2011)0299 ),

–   having regard to the Commission communication of 22 October 2010 entitled ‘Making Markets Work For Consumers’, 4th Edition of the Consumer Markets Scoreboard (SEC(2010)1257 ),

–   having regard to its resolution of 20 October 2010 on the financial, economic and social crisis: Recommendations concerning the measures and initiatives to be taken (mid-term report)(3) ,

–   having regard to its resolution of 21 September 2010 on completing the internal market for e-commerce(4) ,

–   having regard to its resolution of 5 July 2011 on a more efficient and fairer retail market(5) ,

–   having regard to Professor Mario Monti's report of 9 May 2010 to the Commission on revitalising the Single Market, entitled ‘A New Strategy For The Single Market’,

–   having regard to its resolution of 20 May 2010 on delivering a Single Market to consumers and citizens(6) ,

–   having regard to its resolution of 9 March 2010 on consumer protection(7) ,

–   having regard to the report from the Commission to the European Parliament and to the Council of 2 July 2009 on the application of Regulation (EC) No 2006/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 27 October 2004 on cooperation between national authorities responsible for the enforcement of consumer protection laws (the Regulation on consumer protection cooperation) (COM(2009)0336 ),

–   having regard to the Commission communication to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions on cross-border business-to-consumer e-commerce in the EU (COM(2009)0557 ),

–   having regard to the Commission communication of 7 July 2009 to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions on a harmonised methodology for classifying and reporting consumer complaints and enquiries (COM(2009)0346 ) and to the accompanying Draft Commission Recommendation (SEC(2009)0949 ),

–   having regard to the Commission communication of 2 July 2009 on the enforcement of the consumer acquis (COM(2009)0330 ),

–   having regard to the Commission recommendation of 29 June 2009 on measures to improve the functioning of the Single Market(8) and to the Commission recommendation of 12 July 2004 on the transposition into national law of directives affecting the internal market(9) ,

–   having regard to Directive 2009/48/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 18 June 2009 on the safety of toys (Toy Safety Directive)(10) ,

–   having regard to Regulation (EC) No 765/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 9 July 2008 setting out the requirements for accreditation and market surveillance relating to the marketing of products, which aims to create an overall framework of rules and principles in relation to accreditation and market surveillance(11) ,

–   having regard to the communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament and the European Economic and Social Committee entitled ‘EU Consumer Policy strategy 2007-2013 – Empowering consumers, enhancing their welfare, effectively protecting them’ (COM(2007)0099 ) and to Parliament's resolution of 20 May 2008 on the EU consumer policy strategy 2007-2013(12) ,

–   having regard to the report of the European Economic and Social Committee, Section for the Single Market, Production and Consumption, on ‘Obstacles to the European Single Market 2008’(13) ,

–   having regard to Regulation (EC) No 2006/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 27 October 2004 on cooperation between national authorities responsible for the enforcement of consumer protection laws (the ‘Regulation on consumer protection cooperation’)(14) ,

–   having regard to its resolution of 12 December 2006 on the Council common position for adopting a decision of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing a programme of Community action in the field of consumer policy (2007-2013)(15) ,

–   having regard to 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 and amending Council Directive 84/450/EEC, Directives 97/7/EC, 98/27/EC and 2002/65/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council and Regulation (EC) No 2006/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council (‘Unfair Commercial Practices Directive’)(16) ,

–   having regard to Directive 2004/113/EC of the Council of 13 December 2004 implementing the principle of equal treatment between men and women in the access to and supply of goods and services(17) ,

–   having regard to Rule 48 of its Rules of Procedure,

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection and the opinion of the Committee on Economic and Monetary affairs (A7-0369/2011 ),

A.   whereas EU citizens have a crucial role to play as consumers in achieving the Europe 2020 goals of smart, inclusive and sustainable growth, since consumer expenditure generates more than half of EU GDP;

B.   whereas, according to the Material Deprivation Rate index, 16,3% of the EU's population is at risk of poverty, and whereas this percentage rises to 17,1% for women;

C.   whereas, as shown in the Special Eurobarometer 342 on Consumer empowerment from April 2011, a substantial majority of consumers feels confident and knowledgeable, but, at the same time, a considerable proportion lack knowledge about basic consumer legislation;

D.   whereas consumers do not form one single homogenous group, as there are considerable differences among consumers in terms of consumer skills, awareness of legislation, assertiveness and willingness to seek redress;

E.   whereas, according to the Special Eurobarometer 342 on Consumer empowerment from April 2011, women spend more time shopping (3,7 hours in a typical week) than men (2,8 hours);

F.   whereas, according to the 5th edition of the Consumer Conditions Scoreboard of March 2011, consumers still face very different conditions across the EU;

G.   whereas consumers' dissatisfaction with the functioning of financial services stems in part from the bad advice they receive and the fact that, according to the Consumer Markets Scoreboard, the majority of consumers do not know their rights in relation to financial services and 98 % fail to choose the most appropriate investment option, at an estimated cost of 0,4 % of EU GDP;

H.   whereas disclosure of information is both necessary and important in all sectors of financial services for consumers; whereas the strategy must recognise that it is not sufficient merely to provide competitive markets in which consumers can make decisions in their best interests; whereas if this disclosure is to be more efficient, it is important that information should be provided in EU and regional official languages;

I.   whereas groups of people who are particularly vulnerable because of their mental, physical or psychological infirmity, age or credulity - for example children, teenagers and the elderly - or are made vulnerable by their social and financial situation (such as those with excessive debts) need special protection;

J.   whereas the EU has set targets for the reduction of CO2 emissions, calling for more sustainable patterns of consumption;

K.   whereas a properly functioning internal market should offer consumers a wider choice of high-quality products and services at competitive prices and, at the same time, a high level of consumer and environmental protection;

L.   whereas the internal market must grow without undermining consumer protection and whilst guaranteeing the free movement of services and ensuring that due attention is paid to the protection of workers;

M.   whereas empowered consumers are better able to identify the best prices, selling conditions and quality, therefore driving competition and innovation;

N.   whereas a fully integrated internal market would create multiple benefits for European consumers, such as lower prices and a wider selection of products and services;

O.   whereas, as shown in the Consumer Conditions Scoreboard from March 2011, retailers show a lack of knowledge of basic EU consumer rights, which can both work to the detriment of consumers and also affect retailers' own willingness to trade cross-border;

P.   whereas all stakeholders (including the Commission, national enforcement authorities, consumer organisations and the private sector) need to step up their efforts to achieve the objective of a high level of consumer protection and empowerment, as the effectiveness of public market surveillance and enforcement are vital to ensuring that illegal and unsafe products do not reach or are removed from the European market;

Q.   whereas, given the current economic downturn, strong and consistent enforcement is all the more important, as the crisis is affecting consumers' choices;

R.   whereas the European Parliament and national parliaments must contribute to the more effective transposition and enforcement of consumer protection legislation by continuing to work closely with each other;

S.   whereas the European Parliament and national parliaments should protect the health and well-being of EU citizens;

Core objectives

1.   Welcomes the Commission's initiative to launch a Consumer Agenda, and emphasises the need for the Commission to propose a proactive policy for defining smart regulation, with the objective of achieving a coherent legal framework; calls, further, for all future consumer policy measures to be based on a holistic approach which places consumers at the heart of the Single Market;

2.   Stresses that policy priorities should be linked and be supported by statistics from the Consumer Scoreboard; calls on the Commission to take account in its consumer policy strategy of the recently published top 20 main concerns of citizens and businesses regarding the Single Market;

3.   Welcomes the Commission's proposals in its 2012 Work Programme to review consumer policy and its legislative strategy, integrating initiatives across all its responsible services; notes, in particular, the need to ensure that consumers throughout the EU receive the full protection offered by key items of legislation, such as the Unfair Commercial Practices and Consumer Credit Directives;

4.   Welcomes the strategic approach to consumer protection, drawing on lessons from the 2007-2013 strategy; emphasises the need for better coordination between consumer policy and social and environmental goals, as part of the Europe 2020 strategy;

5.   Emphasises the need for the proper implementation and enforcement of existing legislation (in particular the latest consumer rights directive) accompanied by dissemination of appropriate information concerning the rights and obligations of each party; emphasises, further, the need to examine the existing acquis following the adoption of the consumer rights directive and in the light of planned new initiatives;

6.   Stresses the need for coherence in the way that policies on consumer protection are implemented and, in that connection, proposes that discussions be re-opened on how this portfolio is divided up within the Commission;

7.   Calls on the Commission to ensure better coordination between its policies which affect consumers;

8.   Calls on the Commission and the Member States to strengthen international cooperation and the exchange of information with non-EU countries in the field of consumer protection;

9.   Highlights the numerous challenges facing the Consumer Agenda, including empowering consumers and reducing levels of inequality, encouraging sustainable consumption, reducing consumer exposure to unsafe products and protecting consumers, especially children, against misleading advertising; calls for an in-depth review among policy-makers of ways of designing smarter policies which provide consumers with information they need and can actually use, without creating additional burdens for companies;

10.   Calls on the Commission to guarantee special protection for groups of consumers who are particularly vulnerable because of their mental, physical or psychological infirmity, age or credulity, or made vulnerable by their social and financial situation; supports the Commission's work on behavioural economics, seeing this as essential to ensuring that consumer protection measures are effective in practice;

11.   Urges the Commission to improve the criteria and arrangements for carrying out more impact assessments, and to review, where appropriate, EU legislation which has an impact on consumer policy and establish best practices by means of which Member States can implement existing legislation correctly;

Consumer empowerment

12.   Notes the significant increase in e-commerce, which is now very important to consumers, with 40% of EU citizens purchasing online; points out that consumers' and retailers' confidence needs to be increased, particularly as regards cross-border online purchasing and trading, by guaranteeing their respective rights and obligations on the internet;

13.   Deplores the large gap between the levels of domestic and cross-border online retail purchasing; notes that according to the Consumer Scoreboard 44% of consumers say that uncertainty about their rights discourages them from buying goods from other Member States and that late or non-delivery and fraud are the major factors preventing take-up in cross-border purchasing; calls, therefore, for the EU's consumer policy strategy to support growth and innovation in the retail sector and, in particular, the completion of the digital single market, in order to help EU consumers shop cross-border;

14.   Points out that consumer confidence is a driving force in the economy with regard to both domestic and cross-border trade, online and offline;

15.   Stresses the need to inform consumers about their rights and obligations and ensure that consumers' rights are fully respected when it comes to internet use and protection of intellectual property rights, at the same time protecting personal data and privacy;

16.   Stresses that consumers' personal data have substantial economic value, for example databases containing consumer profiles used in connection with targeted advertising; points out that users are mostly unaware of the value of the data they voluntarily make available to companies; asks the Commission to ensure that there is a sufficient degree of competition in the market for on-line advertising and search engines and monitor the way data is used by the companies concerned, in accordance with the existing data protection framework;

17.   Emphasises the need to provide consumers and traders with more transparent and comparable information, for example through the use of unit price indications and accurate and transparent internet price-comparison websites, as well as meaningful and effective product labelling;

18.   Emphasises the importance of labelling and, in this context, calls on the Commission to take account of consumers' growing calls concerning, for example, fair trade, carbon footprints, the scope for and types of recycling and origin marking;

19.   Underlines the need to ensure universal access to fast broadband and telecommunications networks and broad access to goods and services online, including by removing distribution restrictions, tackling geographic segmentation and developing electronic payment services;

20.   Emphasises that the Consumer Agenda needs to highlight the market in content for digital products, e.g. e-books;

21.   Emphasises the need to empower consumers by providing them with useful, targeted and understandable information; insists that the EU and national authorities, and consumer organisations and companies, need to step up their efforts to improve consumer education; calls on the Commission to propose ‘consumer-friendly’ Single Market legislation, so as to ensure that consumer interests are fully taken into account in the functioning of the Single Market;

22.   Calls on the Commission and Member States to provide adequate support and capacity building to consumer organisations in each Member State, with a view to strengthening their role and resources, thereby enhancing consumer empowerment;

23.   Stresses the need to educate consumers, from as early an age as possible, so that they understand and make use of the information appearing on products; calls on the Commission to make European logos for which the recognition rate still appears unsatisfactory (in particular the CE conformity marking logo, the European Ecolabel, the Möbius strip for recycling or risk marking) more identifiable and more intuitive;

24.   Calls on the Commission to launch information campaigns in all the Member States concerning the European ‘CE’ designation and the significance thereof, making it clear to consumers what it does (or does not) represent and providing them with more comprehensive information, while seeking to raise awareness of product safety in professional circles;

25.   Believes that civil society, together with consumer organisations and businesses, should further channel innovative solutions for the dissemination of single market information, thereby enabling people to take full advantage of existing opportunities; emphasises the important role played by civil society in helping SMEs and consumers, particularly those in the most vulnerable positions, such as young people or those without internet access, to overcome existing linguistic, technological and administrative barriers and restrictions in Member States;

26.   Deplores the fact that switching provider or tariff is still difficult in certain sectors, hampering consumers' freedom of choice and damaging competition; calls on the Commission to look more closely into this issue to ensure that consumers reap the full benefits of the Single Market;

27.   Calls on the Commission to look into the remaining obstacles to bank switching by consumers and to consider ways of eliminating them, such as setting up an EU-wide bank account number portability system;

28.   Notes the importance to consumers with access to bank accounts of transparent bank charges, faster transaction times and easier procedures for moving bank accounts;

29.   Notes that some 30 million EU citizens do not have access to basic banking services and calls on the Commission to put forward a proposal, as it announced it would do in the Single Market Act and in its 2011 work programme;

Consumer protection and product safety

30.   Emphasises the need to design consumer policies that take the specific characteristics of vulnerable consumer groups into account;

31.   Calls for explicit links to be established between the strategy and the competition policy programme, and joined-up action to achieve this, so consumers can benefit from services which are better adapted to their needs and supplied on better terms;

32.   Stresses the urgent need to increase the general level of safety of consumer products in the EU, especially in the framework of the forthcoming revision of the General Product Safety Directive; calls on the Commission, in cooperation with the responsible EU agencies, to look more closely into the issues of the impact of chemicals on consumers' health, antibiotic resistance and nanotechnologies, on the basis of existing EU legislation in those fields;

33.   Stresses, further, the need to increase the safety standards for toys, and urges Member States quickly to transpose and fully implement the new Toy Safety Directive;

34.   Calls on the Commission to develop a common assessment and labelling system, as indicated in its resolution on a single market for enterprises and growth, based on the product's whole life cycle, particularly in order to simplify and harmonise systems, overcome the cost of fragmentation for business and consumers and prevent misleading advertising;

35.   Calls for better product safety guarantees, particularly in e-commerce on the internal market;

36.   Calls for the RAPEX notification system to be strengthened and made more effective and transparent for consumers, in order to improve overall awareness of the risks posed by specific consumer products and enable companies and customs authorities to take swift and appropriate action;

37.   Notes, in that connection, the importance of transparent and reliable markets, of improving professional standards and avoiding conflicts of interest in the provision of financial services to consumers, and the crucial role of financial education;

38.   Stresses the importance of access to financial education and financial advice, and calls for better regulation of financial advisory services;

39.   Points out that the new European Supervisory Authorities (ESAs) have explicit powers and responsibilities relating to consumer protection in the area of financial services and expects the strategy to reflect these and enhance the consumer-protection capabilities of the ESAs, drawing on national authorities' existing best practices and ensuring adequate participation by interested parties, notably consumer representatives;

40.   Calls for a high level of consumer protection to be established throughout the EU, so that the internal market in the field of financial services can be further strengthened and protectionist practices combated;

41.   Calls for targeted funding to be allocated to consumer research projects, especially in the field of consumer behaviour and data collection, to help design policies that meet the needs of consumers;

42.   Proposes expanding European support for research in emerging sectors, such as green and ethical consumption, and for the pooling of everyday consumer goods (cars, bicycles, household appliances, etc.);

43.   Calls on the Commission to continue its work on the sale of goods and unfair contract terms, a review of the rules on unfair commercial practices (UCP), the Consumer Credit Directive, the Misleading Advertising Directive and the broader issue of whether the rules on UCP need to apply to business-to-business relations; urges Member States to fully and correctly implement internal market rules and legislation, in particular the consumer rights directive, the E-commerce directive and the regulation on the provision of food information to consumers;

44.   Calls on the Commission to highlight the importance of standardisation in the Consumer Agenda, with a view to simplifying complex processes and complex consumer information on services, for example, and to ensure that both consumer organisations and national authorities are involved in this important task;

Towards a more social and sustainable consumer policy in Europe

45.   Calls on the Commission to include a consumer accessibility element in the Consumer Agenda in order to make sure that vulnerable groups have access to the essential products and services they need; points out that this will clearly demonstrate the social dimension of consumer policies;

46.   Points out that older people and people with disabilities are still faced by safety and access problems in connection with mainstream products and services; points out, in that connection, that standards can be successfully used to make products and services accessible to as many consumers as possible, irrespective of their age or physical abilities;

47.   Calls on the Commission to take the gender perspective into account in the Consumer Agenda, in keeping with its commitment to implementing gender mainstreaming as an integral part of its policymaking; calls on the Commission to ensure that the Consumer Agenda rules out all discrimination on grounds of sex in connection with access to and the supply of goods and services;

48.   Calls on the Commission to address the issue of how private consumption can become more sustainable in order to promote innovation, economic growth and a low-carbon economy, in keeping with the objective set in the Europe 2020 strategy; takes the view that special attention should be paid to smart energy systems: the use of new technologies should enable all network users to participate in the internal energy market, in order to save energy and reduce or mitigate the costs of energy, while safeguarding the supply of energy to vulnerable consumers;

49.   Calls on the Commission, Member States and stakeholders to coordinate their efforts to inform consumers better about more efficient ways to buy and consume food, in order to prevent and combat food waste;

50.   Stresses the importance of evaluating the impact of liberalisation on consumer satisfaction, and calls, in that connection, for an assessment of the functioning of the energy market;

Enforcement of consumer rights and redress

51.   Encourages the Commission to further support and spotlight the work of the European Consumer Centres network (ECC-Net), which should play a central role in informing consumers of their rights and in supporting them if they make a complaint; emphasises the key role played by the Cross-border Enforcement and Cooperation Network (CPC Network) in ensuring that consumer protection laws are correctly enforced and fostering cooperation among competent national authorities;

52.   Calls on the Commission to use all its powers under the Treaties to improve the transposition, application and enforcement of all consumer-related EU legislation; calls on the Member States to step up their efforts to fully and correctly implement this legislation;

53.   Calls for more accessible and more effective redress mechanisms, such as alternative dispute resolution, collective redress or online dispute resolution, in order to empower consumers throughout the EU; notes with concern that the current lack of compensation is a major loophole in the legal system as it allows for illegal profits to be retained by traders;

54.   Calls for accessible and effective redress mechanisms for European consumers, as these are essential if barriers in the internal market, particularly as regards e-commerce, are to be eliminated, and calls on the Commission to come forward with one or more proposals through the ordinary legislative procedure, thereby ensuring the proper involvement of Parliament;

55.   Welcomes the ongoing work to develop a European alternative dispute resolution (ADR) system, using existing national and business systems to combine a high level of consumer protection with fair conditions of trade for entrepreneurs;

56.   Calls on the Commission to draw on best practices from Member States, such as the Nordic ombudsman model, and to consider giving ECC-Net legal authority in the area of consumer dispute resolution;

57.   Believes that such a system will enhance the Single Market and deliver a fair system of redress for consumers in cross-border disputes, thereby building confidence between consumers and industry and avoiding costly litigation for both the industry and consumers;

58.   Calls on the Commission to launch an interinstitutional debate on the appropriate way forward in order to improve the legal protection of consumers in their market transactions, with due regard to the approach set out in the Consumer Rights Directive;

59.   Stresses the need for the forthcoming Multiannual Financial Framework for the post-2013 period to include adequate funding for measures to achieve the goals set out in this report and in the forthcoming Consumer Agenda; points out that adequate and guaranteed funding from the EU is required if consumer organisations are to be able to represent consumers in all Member States;

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

(1) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2011)0324 .
(2) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2011)0293 .
(3) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2010)0376 .
(4) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2010)0320 .
(5) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2011)0307 .
(6) OJ C 161 E, 31.5.2011, p. 84.
(7) OJ C 349 E, 22.12.2010, p. 1.
(8) OJ L 176, 7.7.2009, p. 17.
(9) OJ L 98, 16.4.2005, p. 47.
(10) OJ L 170, 30.6.2009, p. 1.
(11) OJ L 218, 13.8.2008, p. 30.
(12) OJ C 279 E, 19.11.2009, p. 17.
(13) http://www.eesc.europa.eu/smo/news/Obstacles_December-2008.pdf.
(14) OJ L 364, 9.12.2004, p. 1.
(15) OJ C 317 E, 23.12.2006, p. 61.
(16) OJ L 149, 11.6.2005, p. 22.
(17) OJ L 373, 21.12.2004, p. 37.


Online gambling
PDF 145k   DOC 73k
European Parliament resolution of 15 November 2011 on online gambling in the Internal Market (2011/2084(INI) )
P7_TA(2011)0492 A7-0342/2011

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to the Commission communication of 24 March 2011 entitled ‘Green Paper on online gambling in the Internal Market’ (COM(2011)0128 ),

–   having regard to Articles 51, 52 and 56 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

–   having regard to the Protocol on the application of the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality annexed to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

–   having regard to the relevant case law of the Court of Justice of the European Union(1) ,

–   having regard to the Council conclusions of 10 December 2010 and the progress reports of the French, Swedish, Spanish and Hungarian Council Presidencies on the framework for gambling and betting in the EU Member States,

–   having regard to its resolution of 10 March 2009 on the integrity of online gambling(2) ,

–   having regard to its resolution of 8 May 2008 on the White Paper on Sport(3) ,

–   having regard to Directive 2010/13/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 10 March 2010 on the coordination of certain provisions laid down by law, regulation or administrative action in Member States concerning the provision of audiovisual media services(4) ,

–   having regard to 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 and amending Council Directive 84/450/EEC, Directives 97/7/EC, 98/27/EC and 2002/65/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council and Regulation (EC) No 2006/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council(5) ,

–   having regard to Directive 97/7/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 May 1997 on the protection of consumers in respect of distance contracts(6) ,

–   having regard to 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(7) ,

–   having regard to the Commission communication of 6 June 2011 entitled ‘Fighting corruption in the EU’(COM(2011)0308 ),

–   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(8) ,

–   having regard to Directive 2002/58/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 July 2002 concerning the processing of personal data and the protection of privacy in the electronic communications sector(9) ,

–   having regard to the Commission communication of 18 January 2011 entitled ‘Developing the European Dimension in Sport’(COM(2011)0012 ),

–   having regard to Council Directive 2006/112/EC of 28 November 2006 on the common system of value added tax(10) ,

–   having regard to Directive 2006/123/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 December 2006 on services in the internal market(11) ,

–   having regard to Directive 2000/31/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 8 June 2000 on certain legal aspects of information society services, in particular electronic commerce in the Internal Market(12) ,

–   having regard to Rule 48 of its Rules of Procedure,

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection and the opinions of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs and the Committee on Legal Affairs (A7-0342/2011 ),

A.   whereas the online gambling sector is growing constantly, to some extent outside the control of the national governments of the citizens to whom such gambling services are provided, and whereas this sector is unlike other markets on account of the risks involved in terms of consumer protection and the fight against organised crime,

B.   whereas, in application of the principle of subsidiarity, there is no specific European legislative act regulating online gambling,

C.   whereas gambling services are subject to a number of EU acts such as the Audiovisual Media Services Directive, the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive, the Distance Selling Directive, the Anti-Money Laundering Directive, the Data Protection Directive, the Directive on privacy and electronic communication, and the Directive on the common system of value added tax,

D.   whereas the gambling sector is regulated differently in different Member States and this not only makes it difficult for regulated providers to provide lawful gaming services on a cross-border basis, but also for regulators to protect consumers and combat illegal online gambling and potential crime associated with it at EU level,

E.   whereas the value added by a pan-European approach to combating crime and fraud, in particular when it comes to preserving the integrity of sport and protecting gamblers and consumers, is considerable,

F.   whereas Article 56 TFEU guarantees the freedom to provide services but whereas, as a consequence of its particular nature, online gambling was exempted from the E-Commerce, Services and Consumer Rights Directives,

G.   whereas, while the Court of Justice has clarified a number of important legal questions concerning online gambling in the EU, legal uncertainty remains with regard to a number of other questions, which can only be solved at the political level; whereas this legal uncertainty has led to a significant increase in the availability of illegal gambling offers and the high risks associated with them;

H.   whereas online gambling, if not properly regulated, may involve a greater risk of addiction than traditional physical, location-based gambling, owing inter alia to increased ease of access and the absence of social control,

I.   whereas consumers must be educated about the potential harm of online gambling and protected against dangers in this area, especially addiction, fraud, scams and underage gambling,

J.   whereas gambling represents a considerable source of revenue, which most Member States channel to publicly beneficial and charitable purposes such as sport,

K.   whereas it is essential to ensure the integrity of sport by stepping up the fight against corruption and match fixing,

L.   whereas, in order to achieve these objectives, it is essential to introduce mechanisms for scrutinising sports competitions and financial flows, along with common supervisory mechanisms at the EU level,

M.   whereas international-level cooperation among all stakeholders (institutions, sports federations and betting operators) is also crucial with a view to pooling good practices,

1.   Welcomes the fact that the Commission has taken the initiative of launching public consultation in connection with its Green Paper on online betting and gambling, which will facilitate pragmatic and realistic consideration of the future of this sector in Europe;

2.   Welcomes the Commission's clarification of the fact that the political process initiated by means of the Green Paper is in no way aimed at deregulating/liberalising online gambling;

3.   Recalls the growing economic importance of the online gambling industry, the take from which was over EUR 6 billion, or 45% of the world market, in 2008; agrees with the Court of Justice of the European Union that this is an economic activity with specific characteristics; recalls that this growth also entails an increased social cost from compulsive gambling and illegal practices;

4.  Takes the view that efficient regulation of the online gambling sector should in particular:

   (a) channel the natural gaming instinct of the population,
   (b) combat the illegal gambling sector,
   (c) guarantee effective protection for gamblers, with specific attention to vulnerable groups, in particular young people,
   (d) preclude risks of gambling addiction, and
   (e) ensure that gambling is proper, fair, responsible and transparent,
   (f) ensure that specific measures are promoted to guarantee the integrity of sporting competition,
   (g) ensure that a considerable proportion of government revenue from gambling is used for publicly beneficial and charitable purposes, and
   (h) ensure that gaming is kept free from crime, fraud and any form of money laundering;

5.   Sees such regulation as having the potential to ensure that sports competitions are attractive to consumers and to the public, that sports results remain credible and that the competitions retain their prestige;

6.   Underscores the standpoint of the European Court of Justice(13) whereby the Internet is simply a channel for offering games of chance with sophisticated technologies that can be used to protect consumers and to maintain public order, although Member States' discretion in determining their own approach to the regulation of online gambling is unaffected thereby and they can still restrict or prohibit the provision of certain services to consumers;

Subsidiarity principle and European added value

7.   Emphasises that any regulation of the gambling sector is subject to, and must be underpinned by, the subsidiarity principle, given the different traditions and cultures in the Member States, which must be understood as ‘active subsidiarity’, entailing cooperation among the national administrations; considers, however, that this principle implies compliance with the rules of the internal market in so far as applicable in accordance with the ruling by the ECJ concerning gambling;

8.   Is of the opinion that an attractive, well regulated provision of gambling services, both on the Internet and via traditional physical gambling channels, is necessary to ensure that consumers do not use operators which do not fulfil national licensing requirements;

9.   Rejects, accordingly, any European legislative act uniformly regulating the entire gambling sector, but nonetheless takes the view that, in some areas there would be clear added value from a coordinated European approach, in addition to national regulation, given the cross-border nature of online gambling services;

10.   Recognises the Member States' discretion in determining how gambling is organised, while observing the basic EU Treaty principles of non-discrimination and proportionality; respects in this context the decision by a number of Member States to ban all or certain types of online gambling or to maintain government monopolies on that sector, in accordance with the jurisprudence of the Court of Justice, as long as they adopt a coherent approach;

11.   Points out that the European Court of Justice has accepted in a number of rulings that granting exclusive rights to a single operator subject to tight public-authority control may be a means of improving protection of consumers against fraud and combating crime in the online gambling sector more effectively;

12.   Points out that online gambling is a special kind of economic activity, to which internal market rules, namely freedom of establishment and freedom to provide services, cannot fully apply; recognises, however, the consistent jurisprudence of the Court of Justice of the European Union which emphasises that national controls should be enacted and applied in a consistent, proportionate and non-discriminatory manner;

13.   Stresses, on the one hand, that providers of online gambling should in all cases respect the national laws of the countries in which those games operate and, on the other hand, that Member States should retain the right to impose measures to address illegal online gambling in order to implement national legislation and exclude illegal providers from market access;

14.   Is of the opinion that the principle of mutual recognition of licences in the gambling sector does not apply, but nevertheless, in keeping with internal market principles, insists, that Member States which open up the online gambling sector to competition for all or certain types of online gambling must ensure transparency and make non-discriminatory competition possible; suggests, in this instance, that Member States introduce a licensing model which makes it possible for European gambling providers meeting the conditions imposed by the host Member State to apply for a licence; licence application procedures, which reduce administrative burdens by avoiding the unnecessary duplication of requirements and controls carried out in other Member States, could be set up in those Member States that have implemented a licensing system, while ensuring the pre-eminent role of the regulator in the Member State in which the application has been submitted; takes the view, therefore, that mutual confidence among national regulators needs to be enhanced through closer administrative cooperation; respects, furthermore, the decision of some Member States to determine the number of operators, types and quantities of games on offer, in order to protect consumers and prevent crime, on condition that those restrictions are proportionate and reflect a concern to limit activities in that sector in a consistent and systematic manner;

15.   Calls on the Commission to explore – in keeping with the principle of ‘active subsidiarity’ – all possible tools or measures at the EU level designed to protect vulnerable consumers, prevent addiction and combat illegal operators in the field of gambling, including formalised cooperation between national regulators, common standards for operators or a framework directive; is of the opinion that a pan-European code of conduct for online gambling agreed between regulators and operators could be a first step;

16.   Takes the view that a pan-European code of conduct for online gambling should address the rights and obligations of both the service provider and the consumer; considers that this code of conduct should help to ensure responsible gaming, a high level of protection for players, particularly in the case of minors and other vulnerable persons, support mechanisms both at EU and national level that fight cyber crime, fraud and misleading advertisement and ultimately provide a framework of principles and rules which ensures that consumers are protected evenly across the EU;

17.   Stresses that more action should be taken by Member States to prevent illegal gambling providers from offering their services online, for example by blacklisting illegal gambling providers; calls on the Commission to examine the possibility of proposing a legally binding instruments obliging banks, credit card issuers and other payment system participants in the EU to block, on the basis of national black lists, transactions between their clients and gambling providers that are not licensed in their jurisdiction, without hindering legitimate transactions;

18.   Respects the right of the Member States to draw on a wide variety of repressive measures against illegal online gambling offers; supports, in order to increase the efficiency of the fight against illegal online gambling offers, the introduction of a regulatory principle whereby a gambling company can only operate (or bid for the required national licence) in one Member State if it does not operate in contravention of the law in any other EU Member State;

19.   Calls on the Commission, as guardian of the Treaties, and the Member States to continue to carry out effective checks on compliance with EU law;

20.   Notes the fact that more progress could have been made on pending infringement cases since 2008 and that no Member State has ever been referred to the European Court of Justice; urges the Commission to continue its investigation of the possible inconsistencies of Member States gambling legislation (offline and online) with the TFEU and – if necessary – to pursue those infringement proceedings that have been pending since 2008 in order to ensure such consistency; reminds the Commission, as ‘guardian of the Treaties’, of its duty to act swiftly upon receipt of complaints about violations of the freedoms enshrined in the Treaties;

Cooperation among regulatory bodies

21.   Calls for cooperation among national regulatory bodies to be considerably expanded, giving them a sufficient remit, with the Commission as coordinator, to develop common standards and take joint action against online gambling operators which operate without the required national licence; states that, in particular as a means of identifying blacklisted gamblers and combating money laundering, betting fraud and other organised crime, national standalone solutions are not successful; in this context; considers the establishment of a regulator with suitable powers in each Member State to be a necessary step towards more effective regulatory cooperation; states that the Internal Market Information System could serve as the basis for more effective cooperation among national regulatory bodies; takes note of initiatives by national regulators to work together more closely, such as the Gaming Regulators European Forum (GREF) network and the European Regulatory Platform; calls for closer cooperation and better coordination among EU Member States, Europol and Eurojust in the fight against illegal gambling, fraud, money laundering and other financial crimes in the area of online gambling;

22.   Takes the view that the various forms of online gambling – such as rapid interactive games of chance which have to be played at a frequency of seconds, betting, and lotteries involving a weekly draw – differ from one another and require different solutions insofar as some forms of gambling afford greater opportunities for abuse than others; notes in particular that the opportunity for money laundering depends on the strength of identification, the type of game and the methods of payment used, which makes it necessary, in respect of some forms of game, to monitor play in real time and exercise stricter control than is the case with other forms of game;

23.   Emphasises the need to address the protection of customer accounts opened in connection with online gambling in the event of the service provider becoming insolvent; suggests, therefore, that any future legislation aim to protect deposits in the event that fines are imposed on the websites in question, or legal proceedings brought against them;

24.   Asks the Commission to support consumers if they have been affected by illegal practices and to offer them legal support;

25.   Recommends the introduction of pan-European uniform minimum standards of electronic identification; considers that registration should be performed in such a way that the player's identity is established and at the same time it is ensured that the player has at his disposal a maximum of one gambling account per gambling company; emphasises that robust registration and verification systems are key tools in preventing any misuse of online gambling, such as money laundering;

26.   Is of the opinion that in order to effectively protect consumers, especially vulnerable and young players, from the negative aspects of gambling online, the EU needs to adopt common standards for consumer protection; emphasises, in this context, that control and protection processes need to be in place before any gaming activity begins and could include, inter alia, age verification, restrictions for electronic payment and transfers of funds between gambling accounts and a requirement for operators to place notices about legal age, high-risk behaviour, compulsive gambling and national contact points on online gambling sites;

27.   Calls for effective methods to be used to tackle problem gambling, inter alia by means of gambling bans and compulsory limits on expenditure over a particular period, albeit set by the customer himself; stresses that, in addition, if an expenditure limit can be raised, a time lag should apply before this takes effect;

28.   Stresses that compulsive gambling is in fact a behavioural disorder which may affect up to 2% of the population in some countries; calls, therefore, for a survey of the extent of the problem in each EU Member State as a basis for an integrated strategy designed to protect consumers from this form of addiction; takes the view that as soon as a gambling account is created, comprehensive and accurate information must be made available with regard to gambling games, responsible gambling and opportunities for treatment of dependence on gambling;

29.   Calls on the Commission and the Member States to take note of studies already conducted in this field, to focus on research examining the incidence, formation and treatment of gambling addiction and to collect and publish statistics on all channels (online and offline) of gambling sectors and gambling addiction in order to produce comprehensive data on the entire gambling sector of the EU; underlines the need for statistics from independent sources, particularly concerning gambling addiction;

30.   Calls on the Commission to prompt the formation of a network of national organisations taking care of gambling addicts, so that experience and best practices can be exchanged;

31.   Observes that, according to a recently published study(14) , the gambling sector was identified as the sector where the lack of an alternative dispute resolution system most frequently makes itself felt; suggests, therefore, that national regulatory agencies could establish alternative dispute resolution systems for the online gambling sector;

Gambling and sport: the need to ensure integrity

32.   Notes that the risk of fraud in sports competitions – although present since the outset – has been exacerbated since the emergence of the online sports betting sector and represents a risk to the integrity of sport; is therefore of the opinion that a common definition of sport fraud and cheating should be developed and that betting fraud should be penalised as a criminal offence throughout Europe;

33.   Calls for instruments to increase cross-border police and judicial cooperation, involving all Member States' competent authorities for the prevention, detection and investigation of match-fixing in connection with sport betting; in this respect, invites Member States to consider dedicated prosecution services with primary responsibility for investigating match-fixing cases; calls for a framework for cooperation with organisers of sports competitions to be considered with a view to facilitating the exchange of information between sports disciplinary bodies and state investigation and prosecution agencies, by setting up, for example, dedicated national networks and contact points to deal with cases of match-fixing; this should happen, where appropriate, in cooperation with the gambling operators;

34.   Considers, therefore, that a uniform definition of sports fraud should be set at European level and included in the criminal law of all Member States;

35.   Expresses its concerns over the links between criminal organisations and the development of match-fixing in relation to online betting, the profits from which feed other criminal activities;

36.   Notes that several European countries have already adopted strict legislation against money laundering through sport betting, sport fraud (classifying it as a specific and criminal offence) and conflicts of interests between betting operators and sport clubs, teams or active athletes;

37.   Notes that online operators licensed in the EU already play a role in identifying potential instances of corruption in sport;

38.   Stresses the importance of education for protecting the integrity of sport; calls, therefore, on the Member States and sports federations to adequately inform and educate sportspeople and consumers starting from a young age and at all levels (both amateur and professional);

39.   Is aware of the particular importance of the contribution from gambling revenue towards the funding of all levels of professional and amateur sport in the Member States, including measures to safeguard the integrity of sporting competitions from betting manipulations; calls on the Commission to look at alternative financing arrangements, while respecting practices in the Member States, in which revenues from sports betting might be routinely used to safeguard the integrity of sporting competitions from betting manipulations, while considering that no funding mechanism should lead to a situation from which only very few professional, widely televised sports would benefit while other sports, especially grassroots sport, would see the funding generated by sport betting diminished;

40.   Reaffirms its position that sports bets are a form of commercial use of sporting competitions; recommends that sporting competitions should be protected from any unauthorised commercial use, notably by recognising the property rights of sports event organisers, not only in order to secure a fair financial return for the benefit of all levels of professional and amateur sport, but also as a means of strengthening the fight against sports fraud, particularly match-fixing;

41.   Stresses that the conclusion of legally binding agreements between organisers of sports competitions and online gambling operators would ensure a more balanced relationship between them.

42.   Notes the importance of transparency in the online gambling sector; envisages, in this connection, annual reporting obligations, which should demonstrate, inter alia, what activities of general interest and/or sports events are financed and/or sponsored by means of the proceeds from gambling; calls on the Commission to investigate the possibility of compulsory annual reporting.

43.   Points to the need to provide a reliable alternative to illegal gambling services; emphasises the need for pragmatic solutions with regard to advertising for, and sponsoring of, sports events by online gambling operators; is of the opinion that common advertising standards should be adopted which provide sufficient protection for vulnerable consumers, but at the same time make sponsorship of international events possible;

44.   Calls on the Commission and Member States to work with all sports stakeholders with a view to identifying the appropriate mechanisms necessary to preserve the integrity of sport and the funding of grassroots sport;

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

(1) In particular the judgments in the following cases: Schindler 1994 (C-275/92), Gebhard 1995 (C-55/94), Läärä 1999 (C-124/97), Zenatti 1999 (C-67/98), Anomar 2003 (C-6/01), Gambelli 2003 (C-243/01), Lindman 2003 (C-42/02), Fixtures Marketing Ltd v OPAP 2004 (C-444/02), Fixtures Marketing Ltd v Svenska Spel AB 2004 (C-338/02), Fixtures Marketing Ltd v Oy Veikkaus Ab 2005 (C-46/02), Stauffer 2006 (C-386/04), Unibet 2007 (C-432/05), Placanica and others 2007 (C-338/04, C-359/04 and C-360/04), Kommission v Italien 2007 (C-206/04), Liga Portuguesa de Futebol Profissional 2009 (C-42/07), Ladbrokes 2010 (C-258/08), Sporting Exchange 2010 (C-203/08), Sjöberg and Gerdin 2010 (C-447/08 and C-448/08), Markus Stoß and others 2010 (C-316/07, C-358/07, C-359/07, C-360/07, C-409/07 and C-410/07), Carmen Media 2010 (C-46/08) and Engelmann 2010 (C-64/08).
(2) OJ C 87 E, 1.4.2010, p.30.
(3) OJ C 271 E, 12.11.2009, p.51.
(4) OJ L 95, 15.4.2010, p. 1.
(5) OJ L 149, 11.6.2005, p. 22.
(6) OJ L 144, 4.6.1997, p. 19.
(7) OJ L 309, 25.11.2005, p. 15.
(8) OJ L 281, 23.11.1995, p. 31.
(9) OJ L 201, 31.7.2002, p. 37.
(10) OJ L 347, 11.12.2006, p. 1.
(11) OJ L 376, 27.12.2006, p. 36.
(12) OJ L 178, 17.7.2000, p. 1.
(13) Carmen Media 2010 (C-46/08).
(14) Study on ‘Cross-Border Alternative Dispute Resolution in the European Union’, 2011, http://www.europarl.europa.eu/activities/committees/studies/download.do?language=en&file=41671.


Honeybee health and beekeeping
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European Parliament resolution of 15 November 2011 on honeybee health and the challenges of the beekeeping sector (2011/2108(INI) )
P7_TA(2011)0493 A7-0359/2011

The European Parliament ,

–   having regard to its resolution of 25 November 2010 on the situation in the beekeeping sector(1) ,

–   having regard to the Communication of the Commission of 6 December 2010 on honeybee health (COM(2010)0714 ),

–   having regard to the Conclusions of the Council of 17 May 2011 on honeybee health,

–   having regard to the Communication of the Commission of 3 May 2011 ‘Our life insurance, our natural capital: an EU biodiversity strategy to 2020’ (COM(2011)0244 ),

–   having regard to Council Regulation (EC) No 1234/2007 of 22 October 2007 establishing a common organisation of agricultural markets and on specific provisions for certain agricultural products (Single CMO Regulation)(2) , which lays out special provisions for the apiculture sector in the European Union,

–   having regard to the EFSA scientific report of 11 August 2008 and the scientific report commissioned and adopted by EFSA on 3 December 2009 on Bee Mortality and Bee Surveillance in Europe,

–   having regard to the ruling of the European Court of Justice on case C-442/09(3) , concerning the labelling of honey containing genetically modified material,

–   having regard to Regulation (EC) No 1107/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 October 2009 concerning the placing of plant protection products on the market and repealing Council Directives 79/117/EEC and 91/414/EEC(4) ,

–   having regard to Directive 2009/128/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 October 2009 establishing a framework for Community action to achieve the sustainable use of pesticides(5) ,

–   having regard to its resolution of 8 March 2011 on the ‘EU protein deficit: what solution for a long standing problem?’(6) ,

–   having regard to Rule 48 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 the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (A7-0359/2011 ),

A.   whereas beekeeping as an economic and social activity plays a crucial role in the sustainable development of rural areas, creates jobs and provides an important ecosystem service via pollination, which contributes to the improvement of biodiversity by maintaining the genetic diversity of plants,

B.   whereas beekeeping and biodiversity are mutually dependent; whereas, via pollination, bee colonies provide important environmental, economic and social public goods, thus ensuring food security and maintaining biodiversity, and whereas, by managing their bee colonies, beekeepers perform an environmental service of paramount importance, as well as safeguarding a sustainable production model in rural areas; whereas ‘bee pastures’, diverse foraging grounds and certain crops (rape, sunflowers, etc.) provide bees with the rich nutrition necessary in order to maintain their immune defences and stay healthy,

C.   whereas concerns have been raised that owing to the high cost of establishing a beekeeping enterprise, there are fewer people entering the sector, resulting in a shortfall in the hives needed to pollinate vital agricultural crops,

D.   whereas a decrease in the number of bee colonies has been reported in both the EU and other parts of the world; whereas pollinator species, which contribute to agricultural productivity, are in decline; whereas, in the event of a marked intensification of this trend, farmers in the EU, as well as those in other parts of the world, may have to resort to human-assisted pollination, which would entail a twofold increase in expenditure on pollination; whereas science and veterinary practice currently provide little in the way of effective prevention or disease control against certain pests and diseases, owing to insufficient research and development of new bee-health medicines in the past decades, which is the result of the limited size of the market and the consequent low interest of big pharmaceutical companies; whereas the limited number of medicines available to fight the Varroa destructor mite are in many cases no longer effective,

E.   whereas the health of individual bees and colonies is affected by numerous lethal and sub-lethal factors, many of them interconnected; whereas the limited number of marketed medicines to fight the Varroa destructor mite are in many cases no longer sufficiently efficient, owing to the emergence of resistance; whereas the use of pesticides, changing climatic and environmental conditions, loss of plant biodiversity, land use change, mismanaged beekeeping practices and the presence of invasive species may weaken colonies' immune systems and favour opportunistic pathologies; whereas honeybees can be exposed to plant protection products via direct and indirect pathways such as wind drifting, surface water, droplet guttation, nectar and pollen,

F.   whereas beekeepers can contribute to, and help maintain, the health and well-being of their bees, although the quality of their environment plays a large role in determining how successful they are.

G.   whereas minimal use of veterinary products and active substances is advocated, as is maintaining a healthy colony immune system, but whereas resistance problems exist; whereas active substances and medicines are not metabolised by bees, and European producers rely on clean, residue-free, high-quality honey,

H.   whereas a large number of European beekeepers are amateur and not professional apiarists,

Research and dissemination of scientific knowledge

1.   Calls on the Commission to increase the level of support for honeybee-health-related research under the next financial framework (FP8) and to focus the research on technological developments and disease prevention and control, particularly on the impact of environmental factors on the bee colony immune system and their interactions with pathologies, on defining sustainable agricultural practices, on promoting non-chemical alternatives (i.e. preventative agronomic practices such as crop rotation and use of biological control) and on generally further encouraging Integrated Pest Management techniques and the development of veterinary medical products for current EU honeybee-disease-causing agents, especially the Varroa destructor mite, as it is the main pathogenic agent and requires a greater variety of active substances to combat it, given its great ability to develop resistance and to combat endoparasites and other opportunistic diseases;

2.   Considers it important to take urgent measures to protect bee health, taking into account the specificities of beekeeping, the diversity of actors involved and the principles of proportionality and subsidiarity;

3.   Reiterates concerns that increased mortality among honeybees and wild pollinators in Europe would, if left unchecked, have a profound negative impact on agriculture, food production and security, biodiversity, environmental sustainability and ecosystems;

4.   Calls on the Commission to promote the setting up of appropriate national surveillance systems in close cooperation with beekeepers' associations and to develop harmonised standards at EU level to allow comparison; stresses the need for uniform identification and registration of bee hives at national level, with annual revision and updating; insists that the funding for identification and registration should not come from the existing programmes for the improvement of production and marketing of honey in the European Union (Council Regulation (EC) No 1221/97(7) );

5.   Calls on the European Commission to support a European Network of ‘reference hives’ to monitor the effect of environmental conditions, beekeeping practices and agricultural practices on bee health;

6.   Calls on the Commission to draw up three-year programmes based on a declaration by all Member States of the number of hives actually registered rather than on estimated figures;

7.   Welcomes the establishment of the EU reference laboratory for bee health, which should focus on activities not covered by existing expert networks or national laboratories, and synthesise the integrated knowledge stemming from their research;

8.   Stresses the need to support diagnostic laboratories and field tests at a national level and points out that overlaps in funding should be avoided;

9.   Calls on the Commission to set up a steering committee, together with representatives of the beekeeping sector, which will assist the Commission in establishing the annual work programme of the EU reference laboratory; deplores the fact that the first annual work programme of the EU's reference laboratory was presented without prior consultation of stakeholders;

10.   Calls on the Commission to continue supporting scientific research on honeybee health, building on the good examples of COST Action COLOSS and the BeeDoc and STEP initiatives, and to encourage Member States to support scientific research in this area; stresses nevertheless that relations with beekeepers and beekeeper organisations should be enhanced;

11.   Calls on the Commission to rule out overlaps in the use of funds in order to increase their effectiveness in guaranteeing economic and ecological added value for both bee-keepers and farmers; calls on the Commission to encourage Member States to raise their level of funding for research;

12.   Calls on the Member States to encourage and oversee the setting up of national melliferous plant phenology monitoring networks;

13.   Calls on the Commission actively to encourage a greater degree of information-sharing among Member States, laboratories, beekeepers, farmers, industry and scientists, on ecotoxicological studies affecting honeybee health so as to make possible informed, independent scientific scrutiny; calls on the Commission to help this process by making available its relevant webpage in all official languages of the Member States concerned;

14.   Welcomes the Commission's ‘Better Training for Safer Food’ initiative, but calls for the exercise to be extended beyond 2011 and the number of participants from national authorities to be increased;

15.   Calls for support for training programmes for beekeepers on disease prevention and control, as well as for farmers and foresters on botanical knowledge, bee-friendly use of plant protection products, the impact of pesticides and non-chemical agronomic practices to prevent weeds; calls on the Commission, in cooperation with beekeeping organisations, to submit guidelines for the veterinary treatment of hives;

16.   Calls on the authorities and representative organisations in the Member States to support the dissemination of appropriate scientific and technical knowledge about bee health among beekeepers; underlines the fact that a permanent dialogue is needed between beekeepers, farmers and the relevant authorities;

17.   Stresses the need to ensure adequate training for veterinarians, as well as the possibility for beekeepers to consult veterinarians and the involvement of apiculture specialists in national veterinary authorities;

Veterinary products

18.   Recognises that the development of innovative and effective treatments against Varroa mites, which are implicated in some 10 % of annual losses, is of high importance; considers that there is a need to increase support for authorised veterinary treatments in order to reduce the negative effects of diseases and pests; asks the Commission to introduce common guidelines regarding veterinary treatment in the sector, stressing the need for it to be properly used; calls for guidelines to be introduced for the use of molecules and/or formulations with a base of organic acids and essential oils and other substances authorised for biological pest control;

19.   Calls on the Member States to provide financial support for the research, development and field-testing of new bee-health medicinal products, especially for SMEs, in light of the beekeeping sector's contribution to biodiversity and the public good in the form of pollination, taking into consideration the high cost of veterinary treatment currently borne by beekeepers by comparison with health costs in other livestock sectors;

20.   Highlights the need to offer the pharmaceutical industry incentives for the development of new medicinal products designed to combat bee diseases;

21.   Calls on the Commission to work out more flexible rules for the authorisation and availability of veterinary products for honeybees, including medicines of natural origin and others that do not have health effects on insects; welcomes the Commission's proposal on the revision of the veterinary medicinal product directive, but notes that the current limited availability of such products should not be used as a basis for the registration/marketing of antibiotics to treat other opportunistic pathologies in honeybee colonies, given their impacts on the quality of bee products and resistance;

22.   Welcomes the Commission's intention to introduce maximum residue levels for the use of medicinal products through the ‘cascade’ procedure in order to eliminate the current legal uncertainty, which hinders the treatment of sick bees;

23.   Calls for a change in the regulatory environment so that the European Medicines Agency, in a spirit of protecting intellectual rights, can ensure exclusivity for the manufacturing and marketing of novel active substances in innovative bee-health veterinary products during a certain transitional period;

24.   Calls on the Commission to look into the possibility of extending cover under the European Union Veterinary Fund to bee diseases when the fund is next revised;

25.   Welcomes the Commission's intention to propose a comprehensive Animal Health Law; calls on the Commission to adjust the scope and financing of European veterinary policy to take account of the specific characteristics of bees and beekeeping so that bee diseases can be combated more effectively via adequate availability of effective, standardised medicines in all Member States and financing of bee health in the framework of the European veterinary policy; calls on the Commission to ensure greater harmonisation among the Member States, focusing its efforts on combating and controlling varroasis in the EU;

26.   Supports breeding programmes which concentrate on disease and pest tolerance, especially with reference to varroasis;

Effects of modern agriculture on bees

27.   Emphasises that the European Union has only recently, with the committed involvement of the European Parliament, adopted new, stricter rules on the authorisation of plant protection products and their sustainable use, in order to ensure that they are safe for human beings and the environment; notes that these rules include additional, strict criteria relating to bee safety; calls on the Commission to keep Parliament informed about the successful implementation of the new rules;

28.   Invites the Commission to improve risk assessment methodology for pesticides in order to protect colony health and population development and to ensure appropriate access to the findings and methodology of ecotoxicological studies included in the authorisation dossiers;

29.   Stresses the importance of sustainable farming and calls on the Member States to transpose and fully implement, as soon as possible, Directive 2009/128/EC on the sustainable use of pesticides, and particularly Article 14 thereof, which highlights the fact that it will be mandatory for all farmers in the EU to apply integrated pest management as of 2014, and to pay particular attention to the use of those pesticides that may have an adverse effect on bees and colony health;

30.   Calls on the Commission, on the basis of reliable and effective tests under real conditions, with harmonised protocols, to consider chronic larval and sub-lethal toxicity in the risk assessment of pesticides, as laid down in Regulation (EC) No 1107/2009 on the placing on the market of plant protection products, which has been in application since 14 June 2011; calls further on the Commission to pay special attention to the use of specific pesticides that have had an adverse effect on bee and colony health under certain circumstances; calls on the Commission also to strengthen research on potential substance-pathogen and substance-substance interactions; notes that all application methods should also be considered;

31.   Welcomes the fact that experts from the European Food Safety Authority are carrying out an independent assessment of the requirements placed on the industry as regards supplying data on the various pesticides;

32.   Calls, in a spirit of dialogue between beekeepers, agricultural stakeholders and public authorities, for the setting up of a system to encourage preliminary notification of beekeepers in all Member States in advance of pesticide applications, especially aerial insecticidal treatment operations (e.g. mosquito controls), and a system to provide on request information about the position of hives when these operations take place; calls, further, for improved information transfer via an internet-based database between beekeepers and farmers as regards the setting up of hives in the vicinity of fields, for example;

33.   Calls on the Member States to consider the advisability of making beekeeping and bee health part of agricultural training;

34.   With special regard to the 2009 EFSA project entitled ‘Bee Mortality and Bee Surveillance in Europe’, calls on the Commission to conduct objective research on the possible negative effects of GMO crops and monocultures on honeybee health;

Production and food safety aspects, protection of origin

35.   Calls on the Commission constantly to monitor the animal health situation in source countries, to apply the strictest animal health requirements and to put in place an appropriate monitoring system for the propagation material coming from third countries, in order to avoid introducing exotic bee diseases/parasites such as Aethina tumida beetles and Tropilaelaps mites into the EU; calls on the Commission and Member States, in cooperation with beekeeping organisations, to increase transparency regarding the frequency, percentage, characteristics and, above all, the results of the security checks performed at border control posts;

36.   Calls for a provisional threshold limit (Reference Point for Action) of 10 ppb to be set for veterinary products authorised in the European Union, in view of the different analytical methods that are applied in the various Member States;

37.   Calls on the Commission to include No Action Levels (NALs) or Reference Points for Action (RPAs) or Maximum Residue Limits (MRLs) in honey and other apicultural products for substances that cannot be authorised for the European beekeeping sector, as well as to harmonise veterinary border controls and controls on the internal market since, in the case of honey, low-quality imports, adulteration and substitutes distort the market and exert constant pressure on prices and the final quality of the product on the EU's internal market, and there must be a level playing field for products/producers from the EU and from third countries; notes that the MRLs must take into account residues from good veterinary practice;

38.   Calls on the Commission to put in place or modify the annexes to Council Directive 2001/110/EC(8) (Honey Directive) in order to improve the standards of EU production by establishing clear legal definitions for all apicultural products, including honey varieties, and defining the important parameters of the quality of honey, such as proline and saccharase content, low level of HMF or humidity, and adulteration (such as the glycerine content, sugar isotope ratio (C13/C14), pollen spectrum and aroma and sugar content of honey); calls for support for research into effective methods of detecting adulteration of honey; calls on the Commission to ensure that monitoring of the natural properties of honey which applies to European products also applies to products from third countries;

39.   Calls on the Commission to harmonise rules on labelling with the provisions of the Regulation on Agricultural Quality Schemes and to introduce obligatory labelling with the country of origin for imported and EU-produced apicultural products or, in the case of mixtures of products with different origins, obligatory labelling with every country of origin;

40.   In the spirit of the EU's new quality policy, calls on beekeepers, their representative organisations and commercial companies to make better use of the EU origin labelling schemes (PDO and PGI) for hive products, which could contribute to the affordability of apicultural activity, and calls on the Commission, in close cooperation with beekeeping associations, to propose quality denominations and promote the direct sale of beekeeping products on local markets;

41.   Calls for action to boost consumption of European honey and apiculture products, including by promoting honeys with characteristics specific to certain varieties and geographical areas;

Measures in connection with the conservation of biodiversity and the forthcoming reform of the Common Agricultural Policy

42.   Stresses the need for consultation with beekeepers by European and national authorities during the drawing up of apiculture programmes and of related legislation, in order to ensure the effectiveness of these programmes and their timely implementation; calls on the Commission to provide significantly more financial resources, by stepping up the current support for apiculture in the CAP after 2013 and guaranteeing the continued existence and improvement of the existing support programmes(Regulation (EC) No 1221/97) for the beekeeping sector, and to encourage the development of joint projects, and on the Member States to provide technical assistance for the beekeeping sector; calls on the Commission to ensure that the system of co-financing is compatible with the establishment of direct aid under the first pillar of the CAP (optional implementation of the current Article 68 of the CAP) by those states that consider it necessary; stresses also the need to encourage young beekeepers to enter the sector; calls on the Commission to provide a safety net or a common insurance system for apiculture in order to mitigate the impact of crisis situations on beekeepers;

43.   Urges the Commission, within the framework of the EU's new biodiversity strategy, to make financial resources available for apiculture as a priority and/or at a higher rate in all projects and actions submitted under the CAP dealing exclusively with subspecies and eco-types of Apis mellifera native to each region;

44.   Calls on the Commission to clarify, in the forthcoming reform of the CAP, the support measures and aid to be assigned to the European beekeeping sector, taking account of the environmental and social public goods that honeybee colonies provide via pollination and of the environmental service performed by beekeepers in managing their bee colonies;

45.   Notes that, according to the Commission report of 28 May 2010, the overall number of beekeepers in the EU has risen slightly in comparison with 2004; points out that, according to the report, this increase is solely attributable to the accession of Bulgaria and Romania to the EU, and that, without the beekeepers from those countries, there would have been a significant decrease in the number of beekeepers in the EU; views this as indicative of the gravity of the situation in the beekeeping sector in the EU and of the need to grant it assistance and to implement concrete measures to keep beekeepers in beekeeping;

46.   Calls on the Commission to consider the possibility of creating a special scheme for assistance to beekeepers within the framework of the direct aid scheme, for example through bee colony payments, which will help safeguard the beekeeping sector in the EU, keep beekeepers in beekeeping, encourage young people to become beekeepers and ensure bees continue to act as pollinators;

47.   Calls on the Commission to promote sustainable agricultural practices in the CAP, to encourage all farmers to employ simple agronomic practices in line with Directive 2009/128/EC and to strengthen agri-environmental measures specific to the beekeeping sector, in the spirit of the new EU Biodiversity Strategy; calls on the Member States to lay down agri-environmental measures geared to apiculture in their rural development programmes and to encourage farmers to engage in agri-environmental measures supporting ‘bee-friendly’ grasslands on field margins and to employ an advanced level of integrated production, taking a holistic approach to farming and using biological control where possible;

48.   Reaffirms that the Commission considers honeybees to be a domesticated species, and therefore a livestock sector, which facilitates better health, welfare and protection measures(9) and makes for better information on conserving wild pollinators; calls, therefore, for a bee health protection strategy to be established and for the beekeeping sector to be incorporated into agricultural legislation and veterinary legislation taking account of its specific character, particularly with regard to compensation for beekeepers' losses in their bee population;

49.   Calls on all stakeholders in the beekeeping sector to take advantage of the opportunities offered by the current common agricultural policy and the upcoming reform thereof, which take proper account of producer organisations throughout the agricultural sector;

Conservation of bee biodiversity

50.   Urges the Commission, within the framework of Council Directive 92/43/EEC(10) (Habitats Directive) to define the conservation status of the species Apis mellifera and, where appropriate, to include it in the Annexes to the Directive; calls on the Commission, given the urgent need to conserve the species Apis mellifera and the various subspecies that occur in the European Union, to look into the possibility of creating a specific programme or regulation within the Life+ financial instrument that will make it possible to establish a pan-European project to restore wild populations of this species;

51.   Urges the Commission, within the framework of Council Directive 92/65/EEC(11) , to ban, at least temporarily, the import from third countries of live bees and species of the genus Bombus sp. in order to prevent the introduction of exotic diseases, particularly given that there is no shortage of genetic resources for apiculture in the European Union, bearing in mind the main subspecies from which the breeds and varieties currently used in apiculture originated;

52.   Recalls that measures to promote biodiversity are also vital in the non-farm sector; notes that green spaces along roads, verges of railway lines, forest cuttings for energy transmission networks and public and private gardens cover substantial areas where rational management methods can considerably increase pollen and nectar resources for bees and pollinating insects; considers that this development should be pursued in the context of harmonious land management, which in particular maintains road safety;

o
o   o

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

(1) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2010)0440 .
(2) OJ L 299, 16.11.2007, p. 1.
(3) OJ C 24, 30.1.2010, p. 28.
(4) OJ L 309, 24.11.2009, p. 1.
(5) OJ L 309, 24.11.2009, p. 71.
(6) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2011)0084 .
(7) OJ L 173, 1.7.1997, p. 1.
(8) OJ L 10, 12.1.2002, p. 47.
(9) Through initiatives such as the Animal Health Strategy for the EU (2007-2013), which helps provide a single and clear regulatory framework for animal health, improves coordination and the efficient use of resources by relevant European agencies, and emphasises the importance of maintaining and improving diagnostic capability.
(10) OJ L 206, 22.7.1992, p. 7.
(11) OJ L 268, 14.9.1992, p. 54.


State aid rules on services of general economic interest
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European Parliament resolution of 15 November 2011 on reform of the EU state aid rules on Services of General Economic Interest (2011/2146(INI) )
P7_TA(2011)0494 A7-0371/2011

The European Parliament ,

–   having regard to Articles 14 and 106 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union and to Protocol No 26 thereto,

–   having regard to the Communication from the Commission of 23 March 2011 on reform of the EU state aid rules on Services of General Economic Interest (COM(2011)0146 ),

–   having regard to the Commission staff working document of 23 March 2011 on the application of EU state aid rules on Services of General Economic Interest since 2005 and the outcome of the public consultation (SEC(2011)0397 ),

–   having regard to the public consultation organised by the Commission in 2010 on ‘state aid rules on services of general economic interest’,

–   having regard to the ‘Guide to the application of the European Union rules on state aid, public procurement and the internal market to services of general economic interest, and in particular to social services of general interest’ of 7 December 2010 (SEC(2010)1545 ),

–   having regard to Commission Directive 2006/111/EC of 16 November 2006 on the transparency of financial relations between Member States and public undertakings as well as on financial transparency within certain undertakings(1) ,

–   having regard to Commission Decision 2005/842/EC of 28 November 2005 on the application of Article 86(2) of the EC Treaty to state aid in the form of public service compensation granted to certain undertakings entrusted with the operation of services of general economic interest(2) ,

–   having regard to the Community framework for state aid in the form of public service compensation(3) ,

–   having regard to the Communication from the Commission of 19 January 2001 on European services of general interest(4) ,

–   having regard to the Communication from the Commission of 26 September 1996 on European services of general interest(5) ,

–   having regard to the opinion of the Committee of the Regions of 1 July 2011 on reform of the EU state aid rules on Services of General Economic Interest (6) ,

–   having regard to the opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee of 15 June 2011 on the Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions on reform of the EU state aid rules on Services of General Economic Interest(7) ,

–   having regard to the judgment of the European Court of Justice of 24 July 2003 in the case of Altmark Trans GmbH and Regierungspräsidium Magdeburg v Nahverkehrsgesellschaft Altmark GmbH(8) ,

–   having regard to its resolutions of 5 July 2011 on the future of social services of general interest(9) , of 14 March 2007 on social services of general interest in the European Union(10) , of 27 September 2006 on the Commission white paper on services of general interest(11) , of 14 January 2004 on the green paper on services of general interest(12) , of 13 November 2001 on the Commission communication entitled ‘Services of general interest in Europe’(13) and of 17 December 1997 on the Commission communication entitled ‘Services of general interest in Europe’(14) ,

–   having regard to Rule 48 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 Industry, Research and Energy and the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection (A7-0371/2011 ),

A.   whereas services of general economic interest (SGEI) have an important place in the shared values of the Union, and promote fundamental rights and social, economic and territorial cohesion, and are thus crucial to the fight against societal inequalities and, increasingly, also to sustainable development;

B.   whereas SGEI make a significant contribution to the Member States' economic performance and competitiveness and thus not only help to prevent and overcome economic crises but also serve the cause of general economic well-being;

C.   whereas the successful implementation of the Europe 2020 strategy is bolstered by the provision of SGEI, and whereas these services can help with reaching growth targets in the areas of employment, education and social integration in particular, so that in the end the high level of productivity, employment and social cohesion that has been set can be achieved;

D.   whereas cost-effective solutions by competing private undertakings are necessary in the interest of the citizen and essential against the background of the budgetary situation;

E.   whereas SGEI are services that cannot always be provided, or cannot be provided adequately, without public intervention;

F.   whereas social services of general interest (SSGI) play an important role in underpinning basic rights and make a major contribution to equality of opportunity;

G.   whereas the current EU legislation provides for exemption from notification for hospitals and social housing, i.e. SGEI meeting basic social needs;

H.   whereas Articles 106 and 107 TFEU provide the legal basis for the reform of state aid rules for SGEI, and Article 14 TFEU allows the European Parliament and the Council, acting by means of regulations in accordance with the ordinary legislative procedure, to establish the principles and conditions for the operation of SGEI, particularly economic and financial conditions, without prejudice to the competences of the Member States;

I.   whereas Protocol No 26 TFEU establishes that SGEI should be characterised by a high level of quality, safety and affordability, equal treatment and the promotion of universal access and user rights, and explicitly recognises their essential role;

J.   whereas the Member States and their public authorities are in the best position to properly serve their citizens and thus are responsible for determining the precise extent and the way in which SGEI are provided, and whereas Article 1 of Protocol No 26 to the Lisbon Treaty explicitly recognises the wide discretionary powers of national, regional and local authorities to manage, commission and organise them;

K.   whereas compensatory payments encompass all advantages granted by the state or through state resources in any form whatsoever;

1.   Notes the aims of the reform proposed by the Commission in seeking to clarify the application of the rules on aid for SGEI, taking into account their diversity;

2.   Demands that the Commission provide clarification of the relationship between the rules of the internal market, and the provision of public services and that it ensure that the principle of subsidiarity is applied in the definition, organisation and financing of public services;

3.   Highlights the improvements in terms of application and comprehensibility that have been possible thanks to the measures taken in 2005, known as the Altmark package; points out that the public consultations have nevertheless shown that the legal instruments need to be even clearer and more straightforward, proportionate and effective;

4.   Stresses that the outcome of the public consultation also indicates that, apart from the administrative burden, other factors possibly militating against the application of the rules on state aid to SGEI have been uncertainties and misinterpretations, especially of key concepts in the rules such as ‘act of entrustment’, ‘reasonable profit’, ‘undertaking’, ‘economic and non-economic services’ and ‘internal market relevance’;

5.   Welcomes the Commission's move to provide further clarifications on the distinction between non-economic and economic activities in the context of SGEI, in order to create greater overall legal certainty, and to avoid cases being brought before the European Court of Justice and infringement proceedings opened by the Commission; calls on the Commission to provide further clarification regarding the fourth criterion which the European Court of Justice stated in the Altmark judgment and to ensure that the method of calculation of reasonable profit is clear enough and appropriate to the diversity of SGEI; calls on the Commission, therefore, to avoid a closed list; suggests that, in doing so, the Commission should not confine itself to reiterating the case law of the European Court of Justice but should provide determining criteria to help understand and apply the concepts used; asks the Commission to elaborate its understanding of a genuine SGEI;

6.   Is concerned about the additional requirements that the Commission wants to introduce in order to ensure that the development of trade is not affected to an extent contrary to the interests of the Union, and believes that these will result in legal uncertainty;

7.   Stresses that the ‘act of entrustment’ is a guarantee of transparency which must be retained in order to give more visibility for citizens but that the scope for mandating (act of entrustment) should be enhanced, in particular by means of the more flexible application of the rules; calls for a project accompanied by a ‘contract of objectives’ to be considered as an eligible act of entrustment;

8.   Stresses that any reform of the EU state aid rules must take into account the special function of SGEI and must adhere strictly to the principle of subsidiarity, as the primary responsibility for commissioning, providing, financing and organising SGEI, in accordance with Protocol No 26 TFEU, rests with the Member States and their national, regional and local authorities, which have wide discretion in that regard and freedom of choice;

9.   Stresses that particular attention must be paid, when reviewing the rules, to ensuring that the Community concepts and terms used are clearly tailored to the nature of public services and the diversity of forms of organisation and stakeholders involved, and that they take proper account of the actual risk of an impact on trade between Member States;

10.   Highlights the specific nature of SGEI at regional and local level, which does not affect competition in the internal market and where a simplified and transparent procedure should be possible that encourages innovation and the participation of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs);

11.   Supports the concept of thresholds for exemption from the requirement of notification of state compensatory payments for SGEI, with the associated lessening of the administrative burden; suggests, on the basis of the consultations carried out, that the thresholds which determine the application of the SGEI Decision should be raised;

12.   Stresses that the specific nature of SGEIs is recognised in Article 14 TFEU and Protocol 26 annexed to the Treaty of Lisbon, and recognises the special role of national, regional and local authorities in this connection; stresses that reform of the EU rules on state aid for SGEI is only part of the necessary clarification of the legal provisions which apply to SGEI through a European consistent legal framework; notes that any legal instrument will have to ensure satisfactory legal certainty; calls on the Commission to bring forward by the end of 2011 a communication with measures designed to ensure that SGEI and SSGI have a framework enabling them to perform their tasks, as it undertook to do in the Single Market Act;

13.   Emphasises that, under Article 106(2) TFEU, undertakings entrusted with the operation of services of general interest are subject to the rules prohibiting and controlling state aid only in so far as the application of such rules does not obstruct the performance, in law or in fact, of the particular tasks assigned to them by national, regional or local authorities; highlights, in this regard, the clear stipulation in Article 14 TFEU that the Union and the Member States, each within their respective powers and within the scope of application of the Treaty, shall take care that such services operate on the basis of principles and conditions to enable them to fulfil their mission; calls therefore for the reform of the EU state aid rules to take account of both these articles and to ensure that compensation granted to SGEI does not come with an excessive burden for public finances or low quality of the services provided;

14.   Deems that the forthcoming Commission proposal on EU 2020 Project Bonds could and should be a major vector for the development of services of general interest in the Member States as well as at EU level; underlines that procedures established with that purpose should be explicitly laid down in a project eligibility framework to be defined following the ordinary legislative procedure;

15.   Considers it extremely important that compensation payments to SGEI do not distort competition or harm other non-compensated companies operating in the same sectors or markets;

16.   Points out that access to compensation for the net cost of delivering public services is among the economic and financial conditions necessary for undertakings entrusted with the operation of public services to perform properly the particular tasks assigned to them by public authorities, especially in these times of crisis, in which public services are playing a vital role as an automatic stabiliser, protecting the most vulnerable sections of the public and thus helping to mitigate the social impact of the crisis;

17.   Would emphasise here that the development of public-public cooperation, by pooling resources, offers great potential for increasing efficiency in the use of public resources and modernising public services to meet the new needs of people in their local areas; also emphasises the importance of cross-border cooperation;

18.   Asserts emphatically that public services must be of high quality and accessible to all sections of the population; views with concern, in this regard, the restrictive stance taken by the Commission, which, in relation to state aid for social housing associations, classifies the services provided by such associations as SSGI only if they are reserved for socially disadvantaged persons or groups, this restrictive interpretation being at odds with the higher goal of fostering an appropriate social mix and universal access;

19.   Is of the opinion that good-quality services are based on the human rights of European citizens; and that this rights-based approach should be strengthened;

20.   Recalls the substantial investment needed to upgrade infrastructure, especially in the regions where it is most lacking and in particular in the areas of energy, telecommunications and public transport, in order to enable the provision of future smart energy or broadband services;

21.   Calls on the Commission to include investment costs for infrastructure necessary to the functioning of SGEI within the costs that compensatory payments may cover; reminds the Commission that the provision of SGEI is sometimes based on long-term public investment aid rather than on annual compensation payments;

22.   Calls on the Commission, when negotiating bilateral trade agreements, to accept the public-sector provisions of SGEI and SSGI in partner countries;

Simplification/proportionality

23.   Welcomes the Commission's intention to ensure, through a more diverse approach to the application of state aid rules, that the administrative burden placed on the public authorities and on service providers is proportionate to the potential impact of the measure concerned on competition in the internal market;

24.   Calls therefore for the provisions to be framed in such a way as to ensure that they can be applied correctly and that they place no unnecessary burden on the public authorities and the undertakings entrusted with the operation of services of general interest, enabling them to perform in full the specific tasks assigned to them; asks the Commission in that context to make it easier to understand the rules and foresee the obligations regarding public compensation payments for SGEI and thus attain greater legal certainty for public authorities and service providers;

25.   Calls on the Commission, as part of the intended simplification of the state aid rules, to introduce greater flexibility and transparency in the monitoring of over-compensation and in particular to improve measures to prevent over-compensation; suggests, to this end, that, in the case of multiannual contracts, checks for over-compensation should be carried out only at the end of the contractual period and in any event at intervals of no more than three years and that transparent criteria should be set for the calculation of compensation payments for SGEI, as this would result in significant time and cost savings for both service providers and the public authorities;

26.   Calls on the Commission to ascertain from the public authorities and operators whether the ‘Guide to the application of the European Union rules on state aid, public procurement and the internal market to services of general economic interest, and in particular to social services of general interest’ of 7 December 2010 effectively fulfils its purpose; asks the Commission, should it prove necessary, to provide the public authorities and operators with a learning tool to guide them towards the proper application of these rules;

27.   Calls on the Commission to simplify the rules for mandating; asks that a call for proposals accompanied by a target-based contract be deemed to constitute a mandate;

Social services

28.   Calls on the Commission to come up with special de minimis arrangements for SSGI that can be assumed to entail no substantial detriment to trade between Member States; suggests, to this end, that appropriate higher thresholds be proposed for social services of this type;

29.   Supports the retention of the existing exemption without thresholds for hospitals and social housing; welcomes the Commission's assertion that it wishes to exempt further categories of SSGI from the requirement that aid to them be the subject of notification; calls on the Commission to ensure that compensation payments for all SGEI meeting essential social needs as defined by Member States, such as care of the elderly and of people with disabilities, the care and social inclusion of vulnerable groups, child and youth welfare, healthcare and access to the labour market are exempted from the requirement of notification;

30.   Considers that the special remit and character of SSGI should be protected and clearly defined; calls on the Commission, therefore, to assess what would be the most effective way of attaining this objective, taking into account the possibility of sector-specific rules;

Local services

31.   Welcomes the Commission's intention to introduce a ‘de minimis’ rule in respect of state aid to undertakings entrusted with the operation of SGEI where the locally limited scale of the activity means that only a negligible impact on trade between Member States is likely and where it is ensured that the compensation is used exclusively for the operation of the SGEI in question; asks the Commission to assess whether SGEI in the field of culture and education should also be the subject of a special arrangement;

32.   Calls on the Commission to propose appropriate thresholds for the ‘de minimis’ rule for compensation payments to undertakings entrusted with the operation of SGEI, so that these services can be dealt with by a simplified procedure and the considerable administrative burden on service providers be significantly reduced without negative effects on the Single Market; suggests as a possible reference in this respect the combined indices of amount of compensation payment and level of turnover of the undertaking entrusted with the operation of the service by the local authority; considers furthermore that a threshold for a period of three financial years might be more appropriate in order to ensure the necessary flexibility;

33.   Recalls that SGEI providers have a variety of different statuses, such as associations, foundations, voluntary and community organisations, non-profit organisations and social enterprises; recalls that some of those operate exclusively at local level, do not engage in commercial activities and reinvest locally any profits from services of general interest;

Quality and efficiency aspects

34.   Emphasises how important it is for SGEI to be of high quality and the need for them to be universally accessible; points out in this regard that the Commission's responsibility, under the TFEU competition rules, is confined to monitoring state aid for the provision of SGEI, and that these do not provide a legal basis for setting quality and efficiency criteria at European level; considers that the definition of quality and efficiency for SGEI should be established with due regard for the subsidiarity principle;

o
o   o

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

(1) OJ L 318, 17.11.2006, p. 17.
(2) OJ L 312, 29.11.2005, p. 67.
(3) OJ C 297, 29.11.2005, p. 4.
(4) OJ C 17, 19.1.2001, p. 4.
(5) OJ C 281, 26.9.1996, p. 3.
(6) OJ C 259, 2.9.2011, p. 40.
(7) OJ C 248, 25.8.2011, p. 149.
(8) Case C-280/00, [2004] ECR I-07747.
(9) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2011)0319 .
(10) OJ C 301 E, 13.12.2007, p. 140.
(11) OJ C 306 E, 15.12.2006, p. 277.
(12) OJ C 92 E, 16.4.2004, p. 294.
(13) OJ C 140 E, 13.6.2002, p. 153.
(14) OJ C 14, 19.1.1998, p. 74.


European platform against poverty and social exclusion
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European Parliament resolution of 15 November 2011 on the European Platform against poverty and social exclusion (2011/2052(INI) )
P7_TA(2011)0495 A7-0370/2011

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to the Treaty on European Union, in particular Article 3(3) thereof, and the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, in particular Articles 9, 148, 160 and 168 thereof,

–   having regard to the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, in particular Articles 1, 16, 21, 23, 24, 25, 30, 31 and 34 thereof,

–   having regard to the revised European Social Charter, in particular Articles 30 (on the right to protection against poverty and social exclusion), 31 (on the right to housing) and 16 (on the right of the family to social, legal and economic protection) thereof,

–   having regard to Council Directive 2000/43/EC of 29 June 2000 on implementing the principle of equal treatment between persons irrespective of racial or ethnic origin(1) ,

–   having regard to the Directive 2000/78/EC of 27 November 2000, establishing a general framework for equal treatment in employment and occupation(2) ,

–   having regard to Decision No 1098/2008/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 October 2008 on the European Year for Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion (2010)(3) ,

–   having regard to the conclusions of the Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council meeting of 8 June 2010 on the theme ‘Equity and Health in All Policies: Solidarity in Health’(4) ,

–   having regard to the Council declaration of 6 December 2010 on ‘The European Year for Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion: Working together to fight poverty in 2010 and beyond’(5) ,

–   having regard to the conclusions of the Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council (EPSCO) meeting of 7 March 2011(6) ,

–   having regard to the opinion of the Social Protection Committee of 15 February 2011 entitled ‘The European Platform against Poverty and Social Exclusion: Flagship Initiative of the Europe 2020 Strategy’(7) ,

–   having regard to the report of the Social Protection Committee of 10 February 2011 entitled ‘SPC Assessment of the social dimension of the Europe 2020 Strategy’(8) ,

–   having regard to the opinion of the Social Protection Committee entitled ‘Solidarity in health: on reducing health inequalities in the European Union’(9) ,

–   having regard to the opinion of the Committee of the Regions on the European Platform against Poverty and Social Exclusion(10) ,

–   having regard to the opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee on the European Platform against Poverty and Social Exclusion(11) ,

–   having regard to the Commission recommendation of 3 October 2008 on the active inclusion of people excluded from the labour market(12) ,

–   having regard to the Commission communication entitled ‘Solidarity in health: reducing health inequalities in the EU’ (COM(2009)0567 ),

–   having regard to the Commission communication entitled ‘Strategy for the effective implementation of the Charter of Fundamental Rights by the European Union’ (COM(2010)0573 ),

–   having regard to the Commission communication entitled ‘European Disability Strategy 2010-2020: A Renewed Commitment to a Barrier-Free Europe’ (COM(2010)0636 ),

–   having regard to the Commission communication to Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions entitled ‘An EU Framework for National Roma Integration Strategies up to 2020’ (COM(2011)0173 ),

–   having regard to the Commission communication entitled ‘Europe 2020: A strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth’ (COM(2010)2020 ),

–   having regard to its resolution of 4 October 2001 on the United Nations World Day to overcome extreme poverty(13) ,

–   having regard to its resolution of 9 October 2008 on promoting social inclusion and combating poverty, including child poverty, in the EU(14) ,

–   having regard to its resolution of 6 May 2009 on the active inclusion of people excluded from the labour market(15) ,

–   having regard to its resolution of 19 February 2009 on Social Economy(16) ,

–   having regard to its resolution of 16 June 2010 on EU 2020(17) ,

–   having regard to its resolution of 20 May 2010 on the contribution of the Cohesion policy to the achievement of Lisbon and the EU 2020 objectives(18) ,

–   having regard to its resolution of 6 July 2010 on promoting youth access to the labour market, strengthening trainee, internship and apprenticeship status(19) ,

–   having regard to its position of 8 September 2010 on the proposal for a Council decision on guidelines for the employment policies of the Member States: Part II of the Europe 2020 Integrated Guidelines(20) ,

–   having regard to its resolution of 20 October 2010 on the financial, economic and social crisis: recommendations concerning measures and initiatives to be taken (mid-term report)(21) ,

–   having regard to its resolution of 20 October 2010 on the role of minimum income in combating poverty and promoting an inclusive society in Europe(22) ,

–   having regard to its resolution of 16 February 2011 concerning the Commission Green Paper entitled ‘Towards adequate, sustainable and safe European pension systems’(23) ,

–   having regard to its resolution of 8 March 2011 on the face of female poverty in the European Union(24) ,

–   having regard to its resolution of 7 September 2010 on the role of women in an ageing society(25) ,

–   having regard to its resolution of 7 July 2011 on the Scheme for food distribution to the most deprived persons in the Union,(26)

–   having regard to its resolution of 9 March 2011 on the EU strategy on Roma inclusion,

–   having regard to its declarations of 22 April 2008 on ending street homelessness(27) and of 16 December 2010 on an EU homelessness strategy(28) ,

–   having regard to the final recommendations of the European Consensus Conference on Homelessness of 9 and 10 December 2010,

–   having regard to its resolution of 14 September 2011 on an EU Homelessness Strategy(29) ,

–   having regard to its resolution of 25 October 2011 on mobility and inclusion of people with disabilities and the European Disability Strategy 2010-2020(30) ,

–   having regard to the Council conclusions on the European Pact for Gender Equality for the period 2011-2020(31) ,

–   having regard to the Strategy for Equality between Women and Men 2010-2015 (COM(2010)0491 ),

–   having regard to its resolution of 17 June 2010 on gender aspects of the economic downturn and financial crisis(32) ,

–   having regard to its resolution of 5 July 2011 on the future of Social Services of General Interest(33) ,

–   having regard to its resolution of 19 October 2010 on precarious women workers(34) ,

–   having regard to the Eurostat 2010 publication ‘Combating poverty and social exclusion – A statistical portrait of the European Union 2010’,

–   having regard to the Commission communication to Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions entitled ‘The European Platform against Poverty and Social Exclusion: A European framework for social and territorial cohesion’ (COM(2010)0758 ),

–   having regard to Rule 48 of its Rules of Procedure,

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs and the opinions of the Committee on Budgets, the Committee on Culture and Education and the Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality (A7-0370/2011 ),

Figures

A.   whereas 116 million people in the EU are at risk of poverty and 42 million (8%) live ‘in conditions of severe material deprivation and can not afford a number of necessities considered essential in order to live a decent life in Europe’(35) ; whereas poverty is the unacceptable reflection of an uneven distribution of wealth, income and resources in a prosperous European economy; whereas the most vulnerable groups, such as the elderly and people with disabilities, have been those most severely affected by the financial, economic and social crisis; whereas the austerity measures currently being taken in the EU, and those to be taken in the future, must not undermine employment and social protection, worsen the situation for the most disadvantaged or put at risk of unemployment, economic insecurity or poverty millions of people who were previously still managing to live on, and meet their basic needs from, their wages or retirement pensions, notably as a result of cuts in public service and social assistance budgets; whereas the application of tougher conditions and penalties as part of social activation policies designed to address the crisis is exacerbating the difficulties faced by the most vulnerable people at a time when few decent jobs are on offer; whereas the gap between rich and poor is continuing to widen as a result of the crisis;

Violations of fundamental rights

B.   whereas the Commission's new strategy for implementing the Charter of Fundamental Rights aims, inter alia, to improve access to fundamental rights for the most disadvantaged; whereas the Charter must be respected in its entirety, and whereas severe poverty represents a violation of human rights and a serious erosion of human dignity and encourages stigmatisation and injustice; whereas the key objective of income support schemes must be to lift people out of poverty and enable them to live in dignity;

Commitments not honoured

C.   whereas poverty and social exclusion increased and involved new social categories between 2000 and 2008 despite the undertakings given by the Union in relation to the target, set at the Lisbon summit of 23 and 24 March 2000, of eradicating poverty in the EU by 2010, and the progress which the Nice European Council of 7 and 9 December 2000 agreed should be made; whereas it is impossible to reduce poverty and social exclusion, or to boost inclusive growth, if nothing is done to combat inequality and discrimination, or if countries' economies do not develop and there is no solidarity with the weakest groups in society, that is, if national wealth is not shared fairly;

D.   whereas the risk of poverty directly affects rural communities and especially small farms and young farmers threatened by the effects of the economic crisis and by excessive fluctuations in commodity prices;

20 million people

E.   whereas one of the five major objectives of the Europe 2020 strategy is the soft target – i.e. not coupled with sanctions – of reducing the number of people at risk of poverty by 20 million, on the basis of three indicators agreed upon by the Member States (the at-risk-of-poverty rate after social transfers, the severe material deprivation index and the percentage of people living in jobless households or households with very low work intensity); whereas, although this target acknowledges the importance of combating poverty and social exclusion, the figures of 116 million people at risk of poverty and 42 million living in conditions of severe material deprivation mean that, from the outset, it reflects the abandonment of millions of people in Europe, with the associated risk of generating threshold effects which exclude the most vulnerable people from the scope of policies geared to measurable results; whereas, if the most intractable situations are not addressed from the outset, the policies implemented will have no impact on them; whereas the European Platform against Poverty is one of the seven flagship initiatives of the Europe 2020 strategy;

F.   whereas social inequality is increasing in some Member States, in particular as a result of economic inequality in terms of income and wealth distribution, labour market inequalities, social insecurity and unequal access to the social functions of the state, such as welfare, health, education and the legal system;

Relationship between the economy and poverty

G.   whereas poverty – which has been running at a high level in the EU Member States for many years – is having a steadily increasing impact on the economy, is detrimental to growth, increases public budget deficits and undermines the EU's competitiveness, and whereas these factors in themselves create poverty and unemployment, particularly long-term unemployment, which affects one-third of the jobless, and whereas this situation that is worse in the more economically vulnerable countries; whereas the preservation of social rights in the European Union is crucial to any attempt to address poverty;

H.   whereas poverty can be classed as a human rights violation and is thus proof of the effort still needed to achieve the aims set out in Article 3(3) of the Treaty on European Union;

I.   whereas any stringent budgetary policy needs to be intelligent, with scope for counter-cyclical investment in major policy priorities;

J.   whereas structural reforms must be adopted in order to keep Europe competitive, create jobs and fight poverty;

Multidimensional poverty

K.   whereas poverty is a multi-faceted problem requiring an integrated response which is tailored to different stages of life and to people's multidimensional needs, and which is also based on guaranteeing access to rights, resources and services, as reflected in the common objectives of the Open Method of Coordination for social protection and social inclusion (2006), in order to meet basic needs and prevent social exclusion;

L.   whereas the 2010 European Year against Poverty and Social Exclusion was successful in raising public awareness and encouraging political commitment;

Decent work/the working poor

M.   whereas growth and employment – even in a decent job – alone are not sufficient to lift people out of poverty, and whereas the labour market has become increasingly fragmented, working and living conditions have deteriorated considerably, particularly in the wake of the financial crisis, and work has become much less secure – a trend which must be combated; whereas the problem of the working poor has gained increasing recognition in recent years, but does not yet appear to be being addressed to an extent commensurate with the challenges it represents for our societies; whereas the number of working poor has grown considerably in recent years, with 8% of the working population living in poverty and 22% of those at risk of poverty holding jobs(36) ; whereas the availability of decent, egalitarian working conditions is a step towards reducing poverty and social exclusion among families and people living alone;

N.   whereas, nevertheless, people with few or no qualifications are more exposed to labour market hazards, insecure and poorly paid employment, and poverty;

Homelessness

O.   whereas homelessness is one of the most extreme forms of poverty and deprivation, and a problem which remains unresolved in all the Member States; whereas, for various reasons, most of the Member States now have large numbers of homeless people, necessitating specific measures with a view to integrating them into society; whereas, according to Eurobarometer, almost one European in four regards the excessive cost of decent housing as one of the main causes of poverty, and almost nine Europeans in ten believe poverty makes it harder to gain access to decent housing; whereas public authorities may lose contact with their citizens if the latter lose their housing, and whereas this not only makes it much harder to help them, but is also indicative of an advanced stage in the process whereby an individual becomes excluded from society;

P.   whereas the accessibility and quality of social services such as health care, cultural services, housing and education are additional factors that have an impact on poverty;

Q.   whereas homelessness – or not having a decent home – severely erodes human dignity and has major consequences in relation to all other rights;

Basket of basic goods and services

R.   whereas the poverty threshold of 60% of median national income is a compelling, helpful and necessary indicator of relative poverty, but should be complemented by other indicators such as the concept and calculation of a ‘basket of basic goods and services’ at national level (which is merely a short-term response to the specific situation of people suffering from poverty) and those agreed by the Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council (EPSCO) in June 2010 (risk of poverty, material deprivation and households with very low work intensity) in response to public policy needs;

Social protection

S.   whereas social protection, including minimum income systems, is a basic element of modern democracies that substantially guarantees the human right to social, economic, political and cultural participation in society and plays a key role in stabilising the economy by limiting the impact of crises, and in redistributing resources at every stage of life, while also affording protection against social risks and preventing and alleviating poverty and social exclusion, throughout the life cycle;

T.   whereas, according to the OECD, the proportion of social benefits unclaimed ranges from 20% to 40%;

Health

U.   whereas poverty and social exclusion remain a key social determinant of health(37) and living conditions, including life expectancy, particularly in view of the impact of child poverty on child health and well-being, and whereas there is still a significant gap between rich and poor when it comes to affordable access to health services and to income and wealth, which is continuing to widen in some respects;

V.   whereas certain sectors of society, such as one-parent families, elderly women, minorities, people with disabilities and the homeless, are among the most vulnerable groups at risk of poverty;

W.   whereas the principle of non-discrimination, including the rejection of social discrimination, is a cornerstone of the system of fundamental rights;

Elderly people

X.   whereas, because our society is ageing, the number of dependent people will increase considerably in the near future; whereas, in a number of countries, elderly people – in particular women – are at greater risk of poverty than the general population as a result of their loss of income on retirement and other factors such as physical dependence, solitude and social exclusion; whereas the breakdown of intergenerational social bonds is a major problem facing our societies;

Y.   whereas pension policies are crucial to any attempt to address poverty;

Gender

Z.   whereas women are in general more vulnerable to poverty than men, owing to various factors such as gender discrimination at work (which results in a persistent gender pay gap and subsequent pension disparities), career breaks to care for dependants, and labour market discrimination; whereas only 63% of women work in Europe, compared with 76% of men, and whereas there is a lack of support networks and concrete measures to help working people achieve a work/life balance, such as affordable care services;

AA.   whereas poverty impacts differently on poor women and men, boys and girls, as poor women and girls often find it more difficult to access suitable social services and income;

AB.   whereas the Platform does not take into consideration the specific gender-related factors that affect women and men, and insufficient attention is paid to the feminisation of poverty;

AC.   whereas the effect of the gender pay gap on lifetime earning indicates that women will have lower pensions and whereas, as a result, women are more affected than men by persistent and extreme poverty: 22% of women aged 65 and over are at risk of poverty as compared to 16 % of men;

AD.   whereas 20% of children are at risk of poverty, compared with 17% of the EU's overall population, and whereas low-income families are one of the groups at greatest risk of poverty;

AE.   whereas family policies are an essential part of policies to address poverty and social exclusion;

AF.   whereas the first indications that a young person is likely to drop out of school are an early warning sign of a recurring cycle of poverty;

Young people

AG.   whereas unemployment among young people, which is already higher than for other age groups, has exploded in the EU since the crisis and is now running at over 20%, and whereas it has now reached a critical level in all the Member States, putting young people at risk of falling into poverty from a very early age; whereas this alarming situation calls for urgent political, economic and social responses and will, in combination with demographic changes, exacerbate skills shortages; whereas vocational training can play a vital role in helping young people and low-skilled workers to join the labour market; whereas, at the same time, getting a job does not always mean escaping poverty, and whereas young people are especially susceptible to finding themselves among the working poor;

Migrants

AH.   whereas migrants and ethnic minorities are especially vulnerable workers, who are being hit hard by the economic crisis – and consequently by increased poverty and social exclusion – because of the insecure jobs they are likely to hold on account of their place of origin or level of skills; whereas migrant workers should enjoy the same working and pay conditions and the same level of access to training and social protection as nationals of the countries in which they are working;

AI.   whereas people with disabilities, whose poverty rate is 70% higher than average, should be the central focus of a strategy aimed at highlighting the added value they provide once they have joined the labour market;

Roma

AJ.   whereas a significant proportion of European Roma are marginalised and live in deplorable socio-economic conditions, and whereas they are often subjected to serious discrimination and segregation in all aspects of life, as are other marginalised communities;

AK.   whereas the increasing poverty in the EU is currently being exacerbated by the economic and financial crisis and by soaring food prices in the context of almost inexistent food surpluses in the EU, and whereas 43 million people are currently at risk of food poverty; whereas the scheme for food distribution to the most deprived persons in the Union, set up in 1987, currently provides food aid for 13 million people suffering from poverty in 19 Member States, and whereas its distribution chains involve some 240 food banks and charities; whereas the recent Judgment T-576/08 of the European Court of Justice, which deems it illegal to purchase food for the scheme on the market, jeopardises EU food aid for the most deprived, given the scheme's increased dependency on market purchases, and whereas it appears that the ECJ's annulment of Article 2 of Regulation (EC) No 983/2008 will have an immediate negative impact on the scheme in 2012 and the years to come, leading to an abrupt end to food aid for the most deprived citizens of 19 Member States;

AL.   whereas housing and domestic energy costs are substantial household budget items which have increased over the last decade and must be taken into account as major factors contributing to the risk of poverty;

AM.   whereas family carers provide the greatest proportion of care in the EU;

AN.   whereas the inability of people living in poverty to make use of basic banking services, such as withdrawals, transfers and standing orders, is a considerable obstacle to their re-entry into the labour market and reintegration into society,

Participation

1.   Calls on the Commission to boost the involvement of organised civil society, of all stakeholders (such as NGOs, social economy organisations, service providers, experts in social innovation and the social partners) and of people living in poverty themselves – in partnership with the associations within which they freely express their opinions, and which have acquired experience and knowledge, particularly through the development of national platforms against poverty and social exclusion in each Member State – in the development of a European strategy at all levels of governance (European, national, regional and local); calls on the Commission to enhance cooperation between local, regional and national authorities and the EU institutions, including Parliament; believes that synergies should involve all stakeholders, including SMEs and businesspeople; calls for discussions with people living in poverty and social exclusion to be extended at national level, and for their participation and their contribution to the annual convention on poverty and social exclusion to be made a formal and central part of that convention, and calls for appropriate and regular follow-up of the recommendations thereby developed;

2.   Calls on the Commission to play a coordinating role and to guide the Member States in order to meet the current challenges and combat poverty and social exclusion, being mindful that combating poverty is primarily the responsibility of national policies, while also showing the necessary solidarity and providing relevant technical assistance;

3.   Calls for the Platform against Poverty also to serve to bring together, at European level, those national organisations representing the groups at greatest risk of poverty which are not yet federated;

Joint training

4.   Calls for poverty awareness seminars to be provided within the EU institutions and Member State governments by organisations with practical experience of combating poverty, and for joint training on social and exclusion issues to be run on a trial basis, bringing together EU officials and people with hands-on experience of combating poverty;

5.   Calls on the Member States to make the enjoyment of the cultural heritage accessible to all sections of society and to avoid cutting resources in this sector, which guarantees social inclusion and provides quality jobs;

6.   Reiterates the crucial role played by volunteering and active citizenship as an instrument of cohesion and action to combat economic, social and environmental disparities, encouraging citizens to get involved in public life through sport, culture, the arts, and social and political activism;

7.   Calls for disadvantaged people to be guaranteed access to mobility programmes for education and work, and for the share of the budget set aside for such programmes to be increased; draws attention to the fact that ‘Youth on the move’ should promote mobility for all apprentices, trainees and students and the recognition of non-formally and informally acquired vocational skills;

8.   Encourages initiatives that are also intergenerational, to reduce the digital divide of disadvantaged people, by providing them with access to information and communication technologies, in keeping with the European Digital Agenda;

9.   Calls on the Member States to encourage the teaching of new technologies from the outset as part of the educational curriculum;

Evaluation mechanism

10.   Calls for the establishment of a regular, critical evaluation mechanism involving Parliament, the Committee of the Regions and the European Economic and Social Committee, based on precise indicators at national and European level, which will make it possible to evaluate the multiple dimensions of poverty and measure the Member States' progress – bearing in mind the gender and age distribution of poverty – towards achieving the poverty reduction target and breaking it down into sub-targets, insofar as the lack of a detailed definition of poverty leaves the Member States too much leeway, giving rise to a risk of aberrant interpretations; calls on the Commission to improve national and European indicators as regards the comparability of national statistics on poverty among vulnerable groups, and to promote, in conjunction with Eurostat, the compilation of more detailed statistics as part of a comprehensive scoreboard on poverty and social exclusion which will make it possible, inter alia, to track the number of people receiving less than 50% or 40%, respectively, of the median income, and to use this as a basis for conducting an annual evaluation of poverty situations in the EU, supplementing the statistical approach with a qualitative and participatory approach; calls on the Commission to ensure that the policies implemented are beneficial to all and not just to those close to the poverty threshold;

11.   Calls on the Commission/Eurostat to carry out a comprehensive analysis of poverty and social exclusion and to compile the statistics through a qualitative and participative approach broken down by gender and age, in order to highlight the problem of poverty among older women; hopes that the Institute for Gender Equality will, as soon as it is fully operational, contribute to resolving the problem of inadequate systematic and comparative data broken down by gender;

12.   Calls for the national statistics on poverty to be improved and made more comparable by developing indicators at the European level;

13.   Calls, in the light of the current crisis, for a detailed, up-to-date study of the number of people living in poverty and the number at risk of falling into poverty, to be carried out as a matter of urgency in the coming months;

  14 Calls on the Commission to draw up and present an annual report to Parliament on the Member States' progress in reducing poverty and social exclusion;

Horizontal social clause

15.   Calls on the Commission to take full account of the correct horizontal social clause as specified in Article 9 TFEU, under which the EU has to take into account requirements linked to the promotion of a high level of employment, the guarantee of adequate social protection, the fight against social exclusion, and a high level of education, training and protection of human health, and calls on the Commission to specify how the Platform will affect assessments of the implementation of that clause; calls for more in-depth social impact assessments of EU policies, even where those policies are initiated by the European Council rather than the Commission, as in the case of the Euro Plus pact; takes the view that such in-depth analysis of the application of this clause will make it possible to avoid a levelling-down of social standards in Europe and facilitate the development of a common social basis in Europe; calls for this social impact assessment to be carried out in conjunction with associations active in combating poverty, and for it to take the situation of the poorest people in Europe as a benchmark; takes the view that such assessments should involve Parliament, the Committee of the Regions, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Commission departments responsible for social affairs, under the supervision of a director-general reporting to the Commission Secretariat;

Budget

16.   Calls on the Commission to identify more precisely the budget lines relevant to the Platform and the level of appropriations allocated to them, particularly as regards the ESF and its contribution to this flagship initiative through the funding of political priorities such as preventing early school leaving and addressing poverty among children, women, the elderly and migrant workers; calls on the Commission to set out its proposals for combating poverty and social exclusion in the 2014-2020 multiannual financial framework, so as to ensure adequate funding of the initiatives launched to combat poverty and social exclusion; calls on the Commission to identify the financial support needed for agreed thematic priorities, and to ask the Member States to provide financial support for the civil society actors involved, at national level, in the national reform programmes, the Flagship Platform and the national strategies for social protection and social inclusion; recommends pressing ahead with, and providing increased funding for, European programmes which can contribute to various aspects of the fight against social exclusion, poverty and social and economic inequality, including health inequality (such as the research Framework Programme and the Progress programme);

17.   Takes note that, in the draft budget 2012, the European Commission has estimated the increase for the European Platform against Poverty flagship initiative at 3,3 %, as compared to last year; asks the Commission to provide further explanation on the contribution of the European Social Fund (ESF) to this flagship initiative and on specific measures addressing priorities such as the fight against poverty among children, women, elderly people and migrant workers, and the prevention of early school leaving; in this context, regrets the lack of clarity and the overlapping of the different instruments and budgetary lines via which the Europe 2020 targets are to be achieved through the EU budget;

Food distribution scheme for the most deprived people in the EU

18.   Contests the Commission's decision to review downwards, from EUR 500 million to EUR 113.5 million, the budget for the 2012 food distribution scheme for the most deprived people in the EU (the MDP scheme); deeply deplores this situation, coming as it does at a time of serious economic and social crisis; calls, therefore, on the Commission and the Council to find a way to continue the MDP scheme for the last two years of the current funding period (2012 and 2013) and for the next funding period (2014-2020), giving it a legal basis that cannot be contested by the CJEU and maintaining the annual financial ceiling at EUR 500 million so as to ensure that people dependent on food aid do not suffer food poverty;

Social Open Method of Coordination (OMC)

19.   Calls for the social open method of coordination to be strengthened and applied correctly in the field of poverty, inter alia through the common development, implementation and evaluation of national strategies for social inclusion and protection, on the basis of commonly defined objectives, via national platforms against poverty, exchanges of good practice concerning policies on effective access to fundamental rights, and implementation of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and the revised Social Charter (which not all the Member States have ratified), in particular Articles 30 and 31 thereof; stresses that the work of the Council's Social Protection Committee should continue to be taken into account in this connection; calls for the Platform to promote and monitor the involvement of local authorities, social economy enterprises and other local stakeholders in drawing up and implementing the national strategy reports;

Basket of basic goods and services

20.   Calls on the Commission, in consultation with the European Central Bank, to propose common principles to define the ‘basket of basic goods and services’ required to enable everyone to live in dignity, and points out that these immediate needs are inseparable from respect for human dignity and effective access to all fundamental rights – whether civil, political, economic, social or cultural – without exception; calls for the target of price stability to be clarified so that specific national situations which do not necessarily have a significant impact on the euro-system indicators can be taken into account;

21.   Calls for the Parliament's Employment Committee to be granted an explicit role in the Platform, particularly in monitoring the effectiveness of the Platform and of EU and Member State policies designed to reduce poverty and social exclusion, in the context of the Europe 2020 strategy;

22.   Calls for the Platform to make it possible to map, as accurately as possible, the degree of access to these basic requirements (which vary according to the place and group concerned) under the various systems in place for the provision of assistance to the poor;

23.   Calls on the Commission to specify the objectives and scope of the annual convention of the European Platform against Poverty, which might include exchanging best practice and directly involving people living in poverty; suggests that this meeting should last at least the whole week in which the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty (17 October) falls;

24.   Takes the view that improving the quality and comparability of national statistics under the Platform, so as to measure trends in respect of inequality and improvements in well-being, is essential in order to improve the Union's policies in this area;

25.   Calls on the Commission to ensure that the Platform takes account of the outcomes of the 2010 European Year for Combating Poverty and the 2012 European Year of Active Ageing and Intergenerational Solidarity;

2008 recommendation

26.   Welcomes the Commission's announcement of a communication on the implementation of its 2008 recommendation concerning the active inclusion strategy, and calls for that communication to include, in particular, a timetable for implementing the strategy's three component strands, specifying a multiannual work programme for delivery at national and EU level; expresses its concern at the postponement of the communication on active inclusion to 2012, and asks the Commission to bring forward the publication of that communication to 2011; calls for an explicit commitment by the Council, the Commission and Parliament to mobilise all poverty reduction policies and ensure that economic, employment and social inclusion policies help to eradicate poverty rather than increasing it;

27.  Draws attention to the three component strands of the European strategy for the active inclusion of people excluded from the labour market, as set out in the Commission's 2008 recommendation, namely:

   sufficient income support: the Member States should recognise the individual's basic right to adequate resources and social assistance as part of a comprehensive and consistent drive to combat social exclusion;
   inclusive labour markets: the Member States should provide persons whose condition renders them fit for work with effective help to enter or re-enter, and stay in, employment that corresponds to their work capacity;
   access to quality services: the Member States should ensure that those concerned receive appropriate social support to facilitate their economic and social inclusion;

Exercise of fundamental rights

28.   Calls for the Platform to be geared towards the exercise of the rights that enable everyone to live in dignity, particularly in the fields of employment, housing, health care, social security and an adequate standard of living, justice, education, training, culture and the protection of families and children; calls for the Fundamental Rights Agency to produce a study on effective access by the poorest people to the whole range of fundamental rights and the other rights enshrined in the international agreements to which the Member States are signatories, and on the discrimination those people face, with the participation of NGOs within which socially excluded people can freely express their opinions, and bearing in mind that securing the right to housing is a necessary prerequisite for the full exercise of other fundamental rights, including political and social rights;

29.   Calls on the Council to include a section on ‘Extreme poverty and fundamental rights’ in the thematic areas in the next multiannual framework of the Fundamental Rights Agency;

Homelessness

30.   Believes that the situation of the homeless calls for particular attention and the introduction of additional measures on the part of both the Member States and the Commission, with a view to ensuring their full integration by 2015, which will necessitate the collection and annual publication of comparable data and reliable statistics at EU level, together with an account of the progress achieved and the objectives set in the respective national and EU strategies for fighting poverty and social exclusion; calls on the Commission to develop, as a matter of urgency, an EU homelessness strategy in accordance with the 2010 Joint Report of the Commission and the Council on Social Protection and Social Inclusion, the final recommendations of the 2010 European Consensus Conference on Homelessness and Parliament's resolution on an EU homelessness strategy; calls on the Commission to draw up a detailed roadmap for the implementation of this strategy in the 2011-2020 period; calls on the Platform to promote the exchange of best practice in order to prevent public institutions from losing contact with people who are homeless;

31.   Calls on the Social Protection Committee to undertake annual monitoring of the progress made by the Member States with regard to homelessness, on the basis of the 2009 ‘light year’ national thematic reports on homelessness and in accordance with the 2010 Joint Report of the Commission and the Council on Social Protection and Social Inclusion;

Education/training

32.   Takes the view that a comprehensive and effective way out of poverty can be found only if the necessary strengthening of social protection instruments is accompanied by significant reinforcement of education and training paths at every level; supports the development of more inclusive education systems to tackle the problem of early school leaving and enable young people from disadvantaged social groups to reach a higher level of education, with a view to countering the intergenerational transmission of poverty; supports access to validation of acquired experience and to life-long training, as a means of reducing poverty by securing access to employment, in particular for disadvantaged groups, so as to help them gain access to decent, quality jobs; takes the view, therefore, that it is essential to implement life-long learning programmes properly and to develop them further, and for Member States to cooperate in relation to education, vocational training and personalised job-seeking assistance, and stresses that more measures of this kind must be taken to assist the most vulnerable sectors of the population; recommends developing an EU strategy with a view to tackling in-work poverty, creating quality jobs and agreeing principles for quality work;

Decent work/the working poor

33.   Points out that the increasing number of insecure employment contracts in most Member States is having the effect of exacerbating the segmentation of the labour market and reducing the protection afforded to the most vulnerable; stresses, therefore, that, in addition to vocational and in-service training, the creation of new jobs must proceed in accordance with the basic principles laid down by the ILO, putting into practice the concept of decent work and quality jobs (including decent working conditions, the right to work, health and safety at work, social protection, and arrangements for worker representation and dialogue with employees) and applying the principles of equal pay for men and women and equal treatment for EU workers and third-country nationals legally resident in the EU; urges the Member States to step up their efforts to combat substantially and effectively the problem of undeclared employment, which, as well as having a hugely adverse impact on the viability of social security schemes, is incompatible with the principles of decent work and denies access to such schemes, thereby engendering a risk of greater poverty; calls on the Commission to tackle the problem of the working poor, support the creation of secure jobs and ensure the correct application of flexible contract arrangements so that they cannot be abused;

34.   Emphasises that young people's main concern is to be autonomous, having access to health care and to decent accommodation for a reasonable price, while being able to undergo training, work and find self-fulfilment; calls, therefore, on the Member States to abolish age-related discrimination in respect of access to minimum income schemes, such as the exclusion of young people from these schemes because of their lack of social security contributions;

35.   Stresses the need for specific additional provisions for the most disadvantaged groups (people with disabilities or chronic illnesses, single-parent families and families with large numbers of children) to cover the additional costs they incur, in particular in relation to personal assistance, the use of special facilities, medical care and social support;

36.   Urges the Member States to make public employment offices more effective, inter alia by identifying the needs of the labour market more accurately, since employment is the first step in preventing and combating poverty and social exclusion;

37.   Emphasises that the transition from school, vocational training or higher education to employment must be better prepared and must follow on directly from education or training; emphasises, therefore, that it is extremely important to implement the European Youth Guarantee initiative effectively and to make it an instrument for active integration into the labour market; believes that the social partners, local and regional authorities and youth organisations should be involved in the development of a sustainable strategy to reduce youth unemployment, which must include formal recognition of the qualifications obtained;

38.   Recommends that the Member States, in implementing the principles of flexicurity in the labour market, ensure, after consulting the social partners, that in practice equal weight is given to both flexibility and workers' security, and that incentives are provided to increase the participation of those workers in vocational training;

39.   Recalls that women are at greater risk of falling into extreme poverty than men, given the shortcomings of welfare systems and the fact that discrimination persists, especially in the labour market, necessitating a whole range of specific policies which should be tailored to both the gender dimension and the specific circumstances;

40.   Calls on the Member States to provide increased resources in order to enable public employment services to operate effectively;

41.   Calls on the Commission to relax the rules and supervisory procedures relating to the granting of compensation for the discharge of public service obligations, which place a heavy burden on local authorities that set up local public services to help the most deprived members of society;

42.   Calls for the knowledge, experience, and informal competences and skills of disadvantaged people in situations of poverty and social exclusion and/or traditional communities to be valued and for systems validating experience acquired in non-formal and informal training to be promoted, and furthermore for it to be identified how these could contribute to their integration into the labour market;

Migrants

43.   Calls, with due regard to differing practices, to collective labour agreements and legislation in the various Member States and to the subsidiarity principle, for respect for equal rights and equal social protection for all in each Member State, irrespective of whether people are EU citizens or third-country nationals; calls on the Member States to combat illegal and undeclared work;

44.   Calls, in particular, for measures aimed at cultural and linguistic integration in the host country in order to overcome social exclusion;

45.   Calls on the Commission and the Member States to step up their cooperation with third countries in the field of education and culture, with a view to reducing poverty and social exclusion in such countries, supporting development and also prevent immigration driven solely by economic factors;

46.   Believes that in-work poverty reflects inequitable working conditions, and calls for efforts to change this state of affairs, through pay levels in general and minimum wage levels in particular, which – whether regulated by legislation or by collective bargaining – must ensure a decent standard of living;

47.   Notes that being employed does not suffice to guarantee a way out of poverty, as further action is needed to combat the problem of the working poor and ensure access to decent and lasting employment;

48.   Calls on the Member States to promote the full participation of women in the job market and the introduction of legislation on equal pay, and to give greater consideration to the issue of adequate pensions for women;

49.   Recommends introducing appropriate taxation of very high salaries in order to help fund social protection systems and the minimum wage and reduce income disparities;

People with disabilities

50.   Recommends that the Member States develop new measures to help vulnerable and socially excluded groups, especially people with disabilities, find jobs with enterprises (including social economy enterprises) or public bodies, so as to promote inclusion, not least in those regions that are economically weaker and socially more vulnerable, or that they further develop existing legislation, such as the 2000 Employment Directive, which deals with the employment of people with disabilities; recommends that the Member States ensure that people with disabilities participate in education from early childhood, by removing the current barriers and providing them with assistance; recommends that the Member States promote accessible environments for people with disabilities and pay particular attention to the situation of early childhood education and care so as to prevent the irreversible exclusion, without any hope of reintegration, of children born with disabilities; calls on the Commission and the Member States to step up exchanges of best practice and introduce multifaceted measures for the integration of the people with disabilities into the job market; recommends that the Member States ensure that the elderly and people with disabilities have access to social and health care services;

Gender

51.   Strongly criticises the fact that the gender aspect of poverty and social exclusion is completely ignored in the Commission's European Platform against Poverty and Social Exclusion;

52.   Stresses that women in rural areas are often not seen as part of the workforce although their contribution to daily agricultural work is as important as the contribution made by men, with the result that they are excluded socially from their rights as employees and are vulnerable to poverty;

53.   Invites the Commission and the Member States to take the gender-specific perspective as a key component in all common policies and national programmes in order to eradicate poverty and combat social exclusion; takes the view, furthermore, that Member States should take the gender dimension into account in their plans for recovery from the recession;

54.   Notes, in view of the importance of welfare policies in combating poverty and social exclusion, the need for effective and adequate social security benefits to support vulnerable groups (such as people with disabilities, single-parent families and the unemployed) as well as specific segments of the population (such as families with large numbers of children);

55.   Calls on the Member States to improve the protection provided for employees who are unfit to carry on working as a result of illness, an accident at work or an industrial disease, to prevent their being reduced to financial insecurity; would like to see national legislation strengthened, therefore, to make it mandatory for redeployment to be offered before employment can be terminated;

56.   Calls for the Platform to work towards defining a special status for workers with disabilities which would guarantee their long-term employment;

57.   Urges the Member States, as part of measures to support employment – especially among women – through the reconciliation of work and family life, to facilitate access to quality and affordable care facilities, since a significant proportion of EU citizens remain outside the labour market because they are taking care of a family member, which increases the risk that they will fall into poverty;

Use of funding

58.   Acknowledges the need to assess, where possible, the effectiveness, impact, coordination and value for money of the use of EU funds – especially the European Social Fund (ESF) – in terms of achieving the poverty reduction target, even where this is not their primary objective, by reducing economic disparities, prosperity imbalances and differences in living standards between EU Member States and regions, and thereby promoting economic and social cohesion; maintains that priority must be given to projects that combine employment targets and strategies with integrated active inclusion approaches, such as projects designed to strengthen intergenerational solidarity at regional and local level or which specifically contribute to gender equality and the active inclusion of vulnerable groups; stresses the importance of effective action for solidarity, including reinforcement, anticipated transfers, and reductions in the Member States' share of cofinancing in respect of budgetary funding, so as to create decent jobs, support production sectors, fight poverty and social exclusion and avoid creating new forms of dependence; stresses the importance of supporting efforts to combat poverty and social exclusion, facilitate access to quality jobs, promote non-discrimination, guarantee an adequate income and promote access to high-quality services;

59.   Highlights the crucial role played by the cohesion policy and the structural funds in promoting employment and social inclusion and in tackling poverty in urban areas, where the majority of disadvantaged people live, as well as in rural areas; underlines the relevant contribution of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) in preventing poverty among workers hit by the crisis, and of the European Progress Microfinance Facility in supporting entrepreneurship; calls for the specific function of each fund to be preserved within the next multiannual financial framework (MFF);

60.   Emphasises that the European Social Fund is still the main instrument specifically intended to promote social inclusion, and believes it must be strengthened in order to meet effectively the ambitious targets set as part of the Europe 2020 strategy and the Platform against Poverty;

61.   Takes the view that instruments such as the European Progress Microfinance Facility and the Grundtvig programme have an important role to play in preventing poverty and social exclusion, and believes they should be developed on the basis of in-depth analyses;

62.   Calls on the Commission to identify priority areas for EU spending so that funding may be directed more effectively toward micro-regions and/or those neighbourhoods whose inhabitants suffer most from poverty and social exclusion;

63.   Takes the view that the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund, under which specific customised assistance can be provided for workers made redundant as a result of the current crisis or of globalisation, should be allowed to continue operating beyond 2013, and that it should be fully funded by the EU budget as regards both commitments and payments;

Economic governance/European Semester

64.   Calls on the Member States to submit national reform programmes consistent with the aim of the Platform and with the Union's objectives of social and sustainable development, and, supporting the Commission's recognition that poverty ‘is unacceptable in 21st-century Europe’, calls on them to refrain from calling into question wage indexation systems and collective labour agreements or restricting, in an unreasonable and unjustified way, their capacity for investment and social spending in the context of economic governance, whilst ensuring the sustainability of public finances and the creation of well-paid jobs, bearing in mind that poverty reduction is an essential corollary of smart, sustainable and inclusive growth; calls for clarification of the status of national action plans for social inclusion and, in particular, the question of their integration into national reform programmes under the Europe 2020 strategy; calls on the Commission to develop country-specific recommendations with a view to meeting the poverty reduction target, especially in the event that those programmes are not successful, bearing in mind that poverty reduction requires us to step up our efforts and mobilise all parties and all our resources to reduce poverty and extreme poverty significantly in the medium term, and to reduce greatly or eradicate poverty by 2020 at the latest; proposes that the Commission draw up guidelines at European level for the Member States so as to ensure that local authorities and other stakeholders participate effectively in the drafting of national reform programmes; notes that ‘territorial pacts’ potentially offer the most comprehensive and consistent means of involving local authorities in this process, as proposed in the Fifth Cohesion Report; believes that the Europe 2020 target of reducing the number of people at risk of poverty by 20 million can be achieved only if the austerity measures currently being taken in the EU, and those to be taken in the future, do not undermine employment and social protection, especially for the most disadvantaged people;

65.   Takes the view that the Member States should aim to translate the targets relating to the reduction of social exclusion/poverty into ambitious national and regional targets, and should include a specific target relating to child poverty and specific strategies involving a multidimensional approach to child and family poverty;

66.   Calls for all NGOs and small associations to be given support in their efforts to promote fundamental rights, so as to strengthen the necessary human investment, allow people living in poverty to participate and ensure that they are better informed about access to rights and justice;

67.   Welcomes the proposal on global grants, which could help a number of smaller NGOs and associations in their work to combat poverty;

68.   Urges the Member States to agree to, and adopt as soon as possible, the proposal for a Council directive on implementing the principle of equal treatment between persons irrespective of religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation (COM(2008)0426 ); calls on the Commission to continue to support efforts to overcome technical difficulties within the Council in order to ensure a swift agreement is reached, and to close gaps in the existing anti-discrimination legislation, which does not currently cover all relevant aspects, with a view to further eradicating discrimination, including social discrimination;

69.   Suggests that the actions proposed in the Platform should acknowledge the consequences of multiple discrimination and introduce policy-oriented measures as presently provided for, for example, in Spanish and Romanian legislation, and in particular that the concept of gender mainstreaming should be developed in order to respond to multiple discrimination;

70.   Calls for the establishment of wage equality between men and women and for equal treatment of EU workers and third-country nationals;

71.   Urges the Commission to consult as to how best to combat negative discrimination based on social origin;

Social economy

72.   Welcomes the Commission's desire to take greater account, through various initiatives, of the role of social economy actors (as defined in Parliament's resolution of 19 February 2009 on the social economy), in particular by clarifying the legal framework applicable to social economy enterprises (for mutual societies, foundations and cooperatives) so that there are no more obstacles hindering them from making a full contribution, with legal certainty, to reducing poverty and social exclusion by proposing innovative and sustainable responses to citizens' needs; stresses at the same time that the social economy is not limited to this area of activity; is concerned, however, that no reference is made to the statute for a European association, given that the not-for-profit sector is a major actor in the fight against poverty; stresses, however, that the measures currently being proposed to promote the social economy, in particular associations and mutual societies, do not adequately reflect its potential contribution to the policy on combating poverty and social exclusion, to the economy and to the European social model, and, more generally, do not match its role in responding to the consequences of the economic and social crisis; stresses, in particular, its demands and expectations in relation to the recognition of SSGIs, as reaffirmed in Parliament's resolution of 5 July 2011 on the future of social services of general interest; notes the proposals for a revision of the EU provisions on public procurement procedures and state aid, and reiterates its call for them to be adapted to the specific nature of the tasks of SSGIs and the way in which they are organised; supports the creation of decent jobs and the provision of personalised job-seeking assistance via specialised training and placement agencies and social economy enterprises, in view of their expertise in helping disadvantaged people find jobs; reiterates its call for sectoral legislative initiatives in relation to the quality and accessibility of social services of general interest, in particular in the areas of health, education, public transport, energy, water and communication;

73.   Highlights the importance of social, health, care and education services in bridging skills gaps, promoting social integration and combating poverty and social exclusion; recalls their potential to create new jobs and calls for strong and sustainable investment in these key services and infrastructures and for their further development; looks forward to the Commission's action plan to address the shortage of health workers;

74.   Calls for strong support to ensure the quality and accessibility of social services, especially in the areas of health, long-term care, education, transport, energy, water and communication;

Housing

75.   Recommends that the Member States adopt a proactive policy on decent housing in order to ensure universal access to quality housing at affordable prices or on preferential terms of purchase, and to prevent the loss of such housing, with guaranteed access to services essential to health and safety (bearing in mind that lack of housing represents a serious erosion of human dignity), along with a proactive energy policy that steps up the use of renewable energies and boosts energy efficiency in order to combat energy poverty; calls, in the context of housing, for more attention to be paid to migrants, who are often exploited and forced to live in sub-standard housing; recalls Protocol 26 annexed to the Treaty of Lisbon, which concerns social housing, and calls for its provisions to be respected, in particular as regards the Member States' freedom to organise social housing, including the question of financing; encourages the Member States to implement special housing programmes and opportunities for homeless people, with a view to guaranteeing the most basic living standards for the most vulnerable members of society;

76.   Recommends that the Member States expand the supply of quality social housing and emergency housing in order to guarantee access for all, and in particular for the most disadvantaged, to decent, affordable housing; considers that it costs society and the community more to rehouse people who have been evicted from their accommodation than it does to keep them there; recommends, therefore, the implementation of policies to prevent evictions, in particular by the public authorities taking responsibility for payment of rents and rent arrears of persons threatened with eviction;

77.   Recalls the link between living in deprived neighbourhoods, which increases poverty and social exclusion, and increased health problems; sees, therefore, EU action in deprived neighbourhoods as a cost-efficient way to combat exclusion and reduce health expenditure, and calls on the Commission to step up such action under the next cohesion policy and other EU programmes;

78.   Calls for an increase in the ERDF budget for measures to improve energy efficiency in social housing in order to tackle energy poverty;

79.   Draws attention to the major effort required of the EU and the Member States to reduce energy costs in household budgets, in the case of the EU by ensuring security of supply so as to protect against significant price fluctuations in the energy market, and in the case of the Member States by strengthening their policies in support of household energy efficiency;

Roma

80.   Calls for Roma people, and the organisations that represent and work with them, to be actively involved in the drafting and implementation of the national Roma integration strategies up to 2020, so as to contribute to achieving the EU poverty target; calls on the EU and the Member States to implement the European strategy to promote Roma inclusion as soon as possible, and calls on the Member States to propose, by the end of this year, measures to promote the inclusion of Roma in accordance with the European framework for coordinating national Roma inclusion strategies presented by the Commission in April 2011; stresses that, as with the fight against poverty and social exclusion, the inclusion and integration of Roma will require greater efforts in order to achieve their full inclusion – and put an end to the numerous forms of discrimination to which they are subject – by 2020; calls for other marginalised communities, such as immigrants, to be involved in all EU or Member State policies relating to their social inclusion;

81.   Highlights the importance of social, health, care and education services in bridging gaps, promoting social integration and combating poverty and social exclusion; recalls their potential to create new jobs, and calls for significant and sustainable investment in these key services and infrastructures and for their further development; looks forward to the Commission's action plan to address the shortage of health workers;

82.   Calls for the interests of people with disabilities to be taken into account in the planning, use and monitoring of EU funding, with particular regard to support for education, training, employment and independent living (transport and communication);

Children

83.   Calls for the fight against child poverty to focus on prevention through the provision of equal access to high-quality early childhood education and childcare services, in order to prevent children from starting school life with multiple disadvantages, and to other facilities for children (such as activity centres available during term-time and holiday periods, and extracurricular cultural and sports activities), ensuring that the network of such services and centres covers all areas adequately; calls for financial support for services having proven their worth and for the systematic integration of policies designed to support poor families into all relevant areas of activity, combining a universal approach with targeted measures for the most vulnerable families, in particular the families of children with disabilities, single-parent families and families with large numbers of children; calls for the parent-child relationship to be given particular attention in programmes to combat poverty and social exclusion, so as to prevent children being placed in care as a consequence of severe poverty;

84.   Emphasises that all children and young people have a right to education under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, including children and young people who do not have a residence permit in the countries in which they reside;

85.   Points out that thousands of children are separated from their parents as a result of their living conditions (lack of housing) or because their parents are living in severe poverty (material, social and cultural) and have not received the necessary support to help them fulfil their parental responsibilities;

86.   Calls for special attention to be given to the future of young people, and for a clear strategy to help young people find a decent first job commensurate with their level of training;

87.   Emphasises that the fight against poverty requires a holistic and consistent approach, embracing all policy areas; also points out that it is particularly important to step up action at both European and national level with a view to preventing and combating this problem;

88.   Points to the need to adopt a more comprehensive approach to the issue of child poverty, and emphasises the results obtained so far in terms of establishing ‘common principles’, as reflected in the conclusions of the Employment Council of 6 December 2010, which call for combating child poverty to be a priority;

89.   Welcomes the Commission's desire to present a recommendation on child poverty in 2012;

90.   Endorses the conclusions of the June EPSCO Council, which support an integrated strategy to prevent child poverty and promote child well-being, focusing on adequate family income, access to services, including early learning and childcare, and children's participation; calls for a detailed roadmap for implementation of the proposed communication in 2012;

91.   Emphasises the importance of structural funding, in particular the European Social Fund, as a key tool for helping the Member States to combat poverty and social exclusion; calls on the Member States for more co-funded projects to support services such as care facilities for children, the elderly and dependent persons;

92.   Calls on the Commission to ensure that the austerity policies agreed with the Member States do not hinder or call into question the attainment of the Europe 2020 target of lifting 20 million people out of poverty;

93.   Calls for efforts to tackle the vicious circle of poverty in order to combat the perpetuation of poverty in subsequent generations;

94.   Calls on the Member States to recognise the true value of the role of artists in social integration and the fight against poverty, in particular by promoting their working environment and status;

Minimum income

95.   Wishes the Commission to launch, in full compliance with the principle of subsidiarity, a consultation on the possibility of a legislative initiative concerning a sensible minimum income which will allow economic growth, prevent poverty and serve as a basis for people to live in dignity, play a full part in society and make headway with finding employment or identifying training opportunities, and which will play an automatic stabilising role for the economy, with due regard for differing practices, and for collective labour agreements and legislation in the various Member States, bearing in mind that the definition of a minimum income remains the prerogative of each Member State; wishes the Commission to help the Member States share best practice in relation to minimum income levels, and encourages the Member States to develop minimum income schemes based on at least 60% of the median income in each Member State;

Unclaimed benefits

96.   Points out that, according to the OECD, 20% to 40% of benefits are not taken up; calls on the Member States to evaluate their income support and social security benefit systems in order to avoid the creation of hidden poverty, by increasing transparency, informing benefit recipients more effectively of their rights, establishing more effective advisory services, simplifying procedures and putting in place measures and policies to fight the stigma and discrimination associated with minimum income recipients;

97.   Calls on the Member States to provide adequate support, training and respite services to family carers so that elderly people and those who need care can remain in their own homes and communities for as long as they wish to;

98.   Calls on the Commission to assess the role of high indebtedness in poverty and to promote the exchange of best practice within the Platform concerning ways to tackle high indebtedness;

Elderly people – carer's leave

99.   Maintains that elderly care programmes, including home care, must be developed and reviewed in all the Member States so as to prevent elderly people falling into exclusion or poverty, and adds that families caring for the elderly should also be provided with support (financial if possible), in line with the objective of promoting a sustainable society and in particular with a view to improving support for active ageing and solidarity between generations, encouraging accessibility and solidarity and improving the quality of long-term care; calls on the Commission to assess whether a directive on carer's leave could help achieve this;

100.   Calls on the Commission to pay proper attention to developing social innovation and fact-based support for social policy, and to making more considered use of impact assessments with a view to providing genuine added value and proposing sustainable and innovative solutions consistent with demographic trends;

101.   Stresses the importance of developing policy proposals at Member State level to tackle problems associated with poverty and exclusion, such as homelessness and drug and alcohol addiction; calls for more effective exchanges between Member States of best practice in these areas;

102.   Emphasises that it is important to propose measures that simplify access to EU funding for organisations active in the voluntary sector;

103.   Calls on the Commission to take account of Parliament's report on the Green Paper on the future of pensions in Europe;

104.   Recommends that the Member States establish an adequate minimum pension which allows the elderly to live in dignity;

105.   Calls on the Commission to envisage a set of framework guidelines and principles with a view to ensuring adequate and sustainable pension arrangements, so as to combat effectively the risk of poverty faced by women as a result of precarious and sporadic employment and low remuneration; notes that it is necessary to ensure that welfare provisions can be brought more closely into line with individual and family circumstances while enhancing the value attached to maternity and the provision of care;

o
o   o

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

(1) OJ L 180, 19.7.2000, p. 22.
(2) OJ L 303, 2.12.2000, p. 16.
(3) OJ L 298, 7.11.2008, p. 20.
(4) Council of the EU, Press Release 10560/10 (Press 156), 3019th Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council meeting, Luxembourg, 7 and 8 June 2010.
(5) Council of the EU, 3053rd Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council meeting, Brussels, 6 December 2010.
(6) Council of the EU, Press Release 7360/11 (Press 52), 3073rd Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council meeting, Brussels, 7 March 2011.
(7) Opinion of the Social Protection Committee (SPC) addressed to the Council, Council of the European Union, 6491/11, SOC 124, 15 February 2011.
(8) Report of the Social Protection Committee to the Council, Council of the EU, 6624/11 ADD 1 SOC 135 ECOFIN 76 SAN 30, 18 February 2011.
(9) Opinion of the Social Protection Committee (SPC) addressed to the Council, Council of the European Union, 9960/10, SOC 357 SAN 122, 20 May 2010.
(10) OJ C 166, 7.6.2011, p. 18.
(11) OJ C 248, 25.8.2011, p. 130.
(12) OJ L 307, 18.11.08, p. 11.
(13) OJ C 87 E, 11.4.2002, p. 253.
(14) OJ C 9 E, 15.1.10, p. 11.
(15) OJ C 212 E, 5.8.10, p. 23.
(16) OJ C 76 E, 25.3.10, p. 16.
(17) OJ C 236 E, 12.8.2011, p. 57.
(18) OJ C 161 E, 31.5.2011, p. 120.
(19) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2010)0262 .
(20) OJ C 308 E, 20.10.2011, p. 116.
(21) Texts adopted P7_TA(2010)0376 .
(22) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2010)0375 .
(23) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2011)0058 .
(24) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2011)0086 .
(25) OJ C 308 E, 20.10.2011, p. 49.
(26) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2011)0338 .
(27) OJ C 259 E, 29.10.2009, p. 19.
(28) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2010)0499 .
(29) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2011)0383 .
(30) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2011)0453 .
(31) Council conclusions of 7 March 2011, Brussels.
(32) OJ C 236 E, 12.8.2011, p. 79.
(33) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2011)0319 .
(34) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2010)0365 .
(35) Commission communication entitled ‘European Platform against Poverty and Social Exclusion’, (COM(2010)0758 ).
(36) Eurostat (2009), ‘SPC Assessment of the social dimension of the Europe 2020 Strategy’, 10 February 2011.
(37) Commission on Social Determinants of Health (2008), ‘Closing the gap in a generation: health equity through action on the social determinants of health’, final report of the Commission on Social Determinants of Health, Geneva, World Health Organisation.

Last updated: 10 April 2013Legal notice