Index 
Texts adopted
Thursday, 23 May 2013 - StrasbourgFinal edition
Non-objection to an implementing measure: transit of certain animal by-products from Bosnia and Herzegovina
 Community Customs Code as regards the date of its application ***I
  Resolution
  Consolidated text
 Reinstatement of Myanmar/Burma's access to generalized tariff preferences ***I
  Resolution
  Consolidated text
 Establishing a framework for managing financial responsibility linked to investor-state dispute settlement tribunals established by international agreements to which the EU is party ***I
 Non-commercial movement of pet animals ***I
  Resolution
  Consolidated text
  Annex
 Animal health requirements governing trade in dogs, cats and ferrets ***I
  Resolution
  Consolidated text
 Future legislative proposals on EMU
 Situation of Syrian refugees in neighbouring countries
 Asset recovery to Arab Spring countries in transition
 2012 progress report on Bosnia and Herzegovina
 2012 progress report on the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
 EU trade and investment agreement negotiations with the US
 Myanmar/Burma's access to generalised tariff preferences
 A macro-regional strategy for the Alps
 Labour conditions and health and safety standards following the recent factory fires and building collapse in Bangladesh
 Guantánamo: hunger strike by prisoners
 India: execution of Mohammad Afzal Guru and its implications
 Rwanda: case of Victoire Ingabire

Non-objection to an implementing measure: transit of certain animal by-products from Bosnia and Herzegovina
PDF 196k   DOC 20k
European Parliament decision to raise no objections to the draft Commission regulation amending Regulation (EU) No 142/2011 as regards the transit of certain animal by-products from Bosnia and Herzegovina (D025828/03 – 2013/2598(RPS))
P7_TA(2013)0216 B7-0251/2013

The European Parliament ,

–   having regard to the draft Commission regulation (D025828/03),

–   having regard to Regulation (EC) No 1069/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 October 2009 laying down health rules as regards animal by-products and derived products not intended for human consumption(1) , and in particular Article 41(3) and Article 42(2) thereof,

–   having regard to the opinion delivered on 5 March 2013 by the committee referred to in Article 52 of Regulation (EC) No 1069/2009,

–   having regard to the Commission’s letter of 16 May 2013 asking Parliament to declare that it will raise no objections to the draft regulation,

–   having regard to the letter of 21 May 2013 from the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety to the Chair of the Conference of Committee Chairs,

–   having regard to Article 5a of Council Decision 1999/468/EC of 28 June 1999 laying down the procedures for the exercise of implementing powers conferred on the Commission(2) ,

–   having regard to Rules 88(4)(d) and 87a(6) of its Rules of Procedure,

–   having regard to the fact that no objections have been raised within the period laid down in the third and fourth indents of Rule 87a(6) of its Rules of Procedure, which expired on 22 May 2013,

1.   Declares that it has no objections to the draft Commission regulation;

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

(1) OJ L 300, 14.11.2009, p. 1.
(2) OJ L 184, 17.7.1999, p. 23.


Community Customs Code as regards the date of its application ***I
PDF 197k   DOC 21k
Resolution
Consolidated text
European Parliament legislative resolution of 23 May 2013 on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Regulation (EC) No 450/2008 laying down the Community Customs Code (Modernised Customs Code) as regards the date of its application (COM(2013)0193 – C7-0096/2013 – 2013/0104(COD) ) (Ordinary legislative procedure: first reading)
P7_TA(2013)0217 A7-0170/2013

The European Parliament ,

–   having regard to the Commission proposal to Parliament and the Council (COM(2013)0193 ),

–   having regard to Article 294(2) and Articles 33, 114 and 207 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, pursuant to which the Commission submitted the proposal to Parliament (C7-0096/2013 ),

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

–   having regard to the opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee of 22 May 2013(1) ,

–   having regard to the undertaking given by the Council representative by letter of 26 April 2013 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 the Internal Market and Consumer Protection (A7-0170/2013 ),

A.   Whereas for reasons of urgency it is justified to proceed to the vote before the expiry of the deadline of eight weeks laid down in Article 6 of Protocol No 2 on the application of the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality;

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 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 23 May 2013 with a view to the adoption of Regulation (EU) No .../2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Regulation (EC) No 450/2008 laying down the Community Customs Code (Modernised Customs Code) as regards the date of its application

P7_TC1-COD(2013)0104


(As an agreement was reached between Parliament and Council, Parliament's position corresponds to the final legislative act, Regulation (EU) No 528/2013)

(1) Not yet published in the Official Journal.


Reinstatement of Myanmar/Burma's access to generalized tariff preferences ***I
PDF 194k   DOC 20k
Resolution
Consolidated text
European Parliament legislative resolution of 23 May 2013 on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council repealing Council Regulation (EC) No 552/97 temporarily withdrawing access to generalised tariff preferences from Myanmar/Burma (COM(2012)0524 – C7-0297/2012 – 2012/0251(COD) ) (Ordinary legislative procedure: first reading)
P7_TA(2013)0218 A7-0122/2013

The European Parliament ,

–   having regard to the Commission proposal to Parliament and the Council (COM(2012)0524 ),

–   having regard to Article 294(2) and Article 207 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, pursuant to which the Commission submitted the proposal to Parliament (C7-0297/2012 ),

–   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 27 March 2013 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 International Trade (A7-0122/2013 ),

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 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 23 May 2013 with a view to the adoption of Regulation (EU) No .../2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council repealing Council Regulation (EC) No 552/97 temporarily withdrawing access to generalised tariff preferences from Myanmar/Burma

P7_TC1-COD(2012)0251


(As an agreement was reached between Parliament and Council, Parliament's position corresponds to the final legislative act, Regulation (EU) No 607/2013)


Establishing a framework for managing financial responsibility linked to investor-state dispute settlement tribunals established by international agreements to which the EU is party ***I
PDF 379k   DOC 41k
Amendments adopted by the European Parliament on 23 May 2013 on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing a framework for managing financial responsibility linked to investor-state dispute settlement tribunals established by international agreements to which the European Union is party (COM(2012)0335 – C7-0155/2012 – 2012/0163(COD) ) (1)
P7_TA(2013)0219 A7-0124/2013
(Ordinary legislative procedure: first reading)
Text proposed by the Commission   Amendment
Amendment 1
Proposal for a regulation
Title
Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing a framework for managing financial responsibility linked to investor-state dispute settlement tribunals established by international agreements to which the European Union is party

Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing a framework for managing financial responsibility linked to investor-to-state dispute settlement tribunals established by international agreements to which the European Union is party

Amendment 2
Proposal for a regulation
Recital 1
(1)   With the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty, the Union has acquired exclusive competence for the conclusion of international agreements on investment protection. The Union is already party to the Energy Charter Treaty which provides for investment protection.
(1)   With the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty, the Union has acquired exclusive competence for the conclusion of international agreements on investment protection. The Union, like the Member States, is already party to the Energy Charter Treaty which provides for investment protection.
Amendment 3
Proposal for a regulation
Recital 2
(2)   Agreements providing for investment protection typically include an investor-to-state dispute settlement mechanism, which allows an investor from a third country to bring a claim against a state in which it has made an investment. Investor-to-state dispute settlement can result in awards for monetary compensation. Furthermore, significant costs for administering the arbitration as well as costs relating to the defence of a case will inevitably be incurred in any such case.
(2)   In the cases where it is justifiable, future investment protection agreements concluded by the Union can include an investor-to-state dispute settlement mechanism, which allows an investor from a third country to bring a claim against a state in which it has made an investment. Investor-to-state dispute settlement can result in awards for monetary compensation. Furthermore, significant costs for administering the arbitration as well as costs relating to the defence of a case will inevitably be incurred in any such case.
Amendment 4
Proposal for a regulation
Recital 3 a (new)
(3a)    Financial responsibility cannot be properly managed if the standards of protection afforded in investment agreements were to exceed significantly the limits of liability recognised in the Union and the majority of the Member States. Accordingly, future Union agreements should afford foreign investors the same high level of protection as, but no higher level of protection than, Union law and the general principles common to the laws of the Member States grant to investors from within the Union.
Amendment 5
Proposal for a regulation
Recital 3 b (new)
(3b)    Delineation of the outer limits of financial responsibilities under this Regulation is also linked to the safeguarding of the Union's legislative powers exercised within the competences defined by the Treaties, and controlled for their legality by the Court of Justice, which cannot be unduly restrained by potential liability defined outside the balanced system established by the Treaties. Accordingly, the Court of Justice has clearly confirmed that the Union's liability for legislative acts, especially in the interaction with international law, must be framed narrowly and cannot be engaged without the clear establishment of fault 1 . Future investment agreements to be concluded by the Union should respect those safeguards to the Union's legislative powers and should not establish stricter standards of liability allowing a circumvention of the standards defined by the Court of Justice.
1 Judgment of the Court of Justice of 9 September 2008 in Joined Cases C-120/06 P and C-121/06 P, FIAMM and Fedon v Council and Commission ([2008] ECR I-6513)
Amendment 6
Proposal for a regulation
Recital 4
(4)   Where the Union has international responsibility for the treatment afforded, it will be expected, as a matter of international law, to pay any adverse award and bear the costs of any dispute. However, an adverse award may potentially flow either from treatment afforded by the Union itself or from treatment afforded by a Member State. It would as a consequence be inequitable if awards and the costs of arbitration were to be paid from the Union budget where the treatment was afforded by a Member State. It is therefore necessary that financial responsibility be allocated, as a matter of Union law, and without prejudice to the international responsibility of the Union, between the Union and the Member State responsible for the treatment afforded on the basis of criteria established by this Regulation.
(4)   Where the Union, as an entity having legal personality, has international responsibility for the treatment afforded, it will be expected, as a matter of international law, to pay any adverse award and bear the costs of any dispute. However, an adverse award may potentially flow either from treatment afforded by the Union itself or from treatment afforded by a Member State. It would as a consequence be inequitable if awards and the costs of arbitration were to be paid from the budget of the European Union ( Union budget) where the treatment was afforded by a Member State. It is therefore necessary that financial responsibility be allocated, as a matter of Union law, and without prejudice to the international responsibility of the Union, between the Union itself and the Member State responsible for the treatment afforded on the basis of criteria established by this Regulation.
Amendment 7
Proposal for a regulation
Recital 6
(6)   Financial responsibility should be allocated to the entity responsible for the treatment found to be inconsistent with the relevant provisions of the agreement. This means that the Union should bear the financial responsibility where the treatment concerned is afforded by an institution, body or agency of the Union. The Member State concerned should bear the financial responsibility where the treatment concerned is afforded by a Member State. However, where the Member State acts in a manner required by the law of the Union, for example in transposing a directive adopted by the Union, the Union should bear financial responsibility in so far as the treatment concerned is required by Union law. The regulation also needs to foresee the possibility that an individual case could concern both treatment afforded by a Member State and treatment required by Union law. It will cover all actions taken by Member States and by the European Union.
(6)   Financial responsibility should be allocated to the entity responsible for the treatment found to be inconsistent with the relevant provisions of the agreement. This means that the Union itself should bear the financial responsibility where the treatment concerned is afforded by any institution, body, agency or other legal entity of the Union. The Member State concerned should bear the financial responsibility where the treatment concerned is afforded by that Member State. However, where the Member State acts in a manner required by the Union law , for example in transposing a directive adopted by the Union, the Union itself should bear financial responsibility in so far as the treatment concerned is required by Union law. The regulation also needs to foresee the possibility that an individual case could concern both treatment afforded by a Member State and treatment required by Union law. It will cover all actions taken by Member States and by the Union. In such a case, the Member States and the Union should bear financial responsibility for the specific treatment afforded by either of them.
Amendment 8
Proposal for a regulation
Recital 6 a (new)
(6a)    When the Member State acts in a manner inconsistent with that required by Union law, for example when it fails to transpose a directive adopted by the Union or exceeds the terms of a directive adopted by the Union when implementing it into national law, that Member State should consequently bear financial responsibility for the treatment concerned.
Amendment 9
Proposal for a regulation
Recital 8
(8)   On the other hand, where a Member State would bear the potential financial responsibility arising from a dispute, it is appropriate, as a matter of principle, to permit such Member State to act as respondent in order to defend the treatment which it has afforded to the investor. The arrangements set down in this Regulation provide for that. This has the significant advantage that the Union budget and Union resources would not be burdened, even temporarily, by either the costs of litigation or any eventual award made against the Member State concerned.
(8)   On the other hand, where a Member State would bear the potential financial responsibility arising from a dispute, it is equitable and appropriate, as a matter of principle, to permit such Member State to act as respondent in order to defend the treatment which it has afforded to the investor. The arrangements set down in this Regulation provide for that. This has the significant advantage that the Union budget and Union non-financial resources would not be burdened, even temporarily, by either the costs of litigation or any eventual award made against the Member State concerned.
Amendment 10
Proposal for a regulation
Recital 10
(10)   In certain circumstances, it is essential, in order to ensure that the interests of the Union can be appropriately safeguarded, that the Union itself act as a respondent in disputes involving treatment afforded by a Member State. This may be so in particular where the dispute also involves treatment afforded by the Union, where it appears that the treatment afforded by a Member State is required by Union law, where it is likely that similar claims may be brought against other Member States or where the case involves unsettled issues of law, the resolution of which may have an impact on possible future cases against other Member States or the Union. Where a dispute concerns partially treatment afforded by the Union, or required by Union law, the Union should act as a respondent, unless the claims concerning such treatment are of minor importance, having regard to the potential financial responsibility involved and the legal issues raised, in relation to the claims concerning treatment afforded by the Member State.
(10)   In certain circumstances, it is essential, in order to ensure that the interests of the Union can be appropriately safeguarded, that the Union itself may act as a respondent in disputes involving treatment afforded by a Member State. This may be so in particular where the dispute also involves treatment afforded by the Union, where it appears that the treatment afforded by a Member State is required by Union law, where similar claims have been lodged against other Member States or where the case involves issues of law, the resolution of which may have an impact on current or possible future cases against other Member States or the Union. Where a dispute concerns partially treatment afforded by the Union, or required by Union law, the Union should act as a respondent, unless the claims concerning such treatment are of minor importance, having regard to the potential financial responsibility involved and the legal issues raised, in relation to the claims concerning treatment afforded by the Member State.
Amendment 11
Proposal for a regulation
Recital 12
(12)   It is appropriate that the Commission decide, within the framework set down in this regulation, whether the Union should be the respondent or whether a Member State should act as respondent.
(12)   In order to create a workable system, the Commission should decide, within the framework set down in this regulation, whether the Union should be the respondent or whether a Member State should act as respondent and inform the European Parliament and the Council of any such decision as part of its annual reporting on the implementation of this Regulation .
Amendment 12
Proposal for a regulation
Recital 14
(14)   Equally, when a Member State acts as respondent it is appropriate that it keep the Commission informed of developments in the case and that the Commission can, where appropriate, require that the Member State acting as respondent takes a specific position on matters having a Union interest .
(14)   Equally, when a Member State acts as respondent it is appropriate that it keeps the Commission informed of developments in the case and that the Commission can, where appropriate, require that the Member State acting as respondent takes a specific position on matters having an impact on the overriding interests of the Union .
Amendment 13
Proposal for a regulation
Recital 15
(15)   A Member State may at any time accept that it would be financially responsible in the event that compensation is to be paid. In such a case the Member State and the Commission may enter into arrangements for the periodic payment of costs and for the payment of any compensation. Such acceptance does not imply that the Member State accepts that the claim under dispute is well founded. The Commission should be able to adopt a decision requiring the Member State to make provision for such costs. In the event that the tribunal awards costs to the Union, the Commission should ensure that any advance payment of costs is immediately reimbursed to the Member State concerned.
(15)   Without prejudice to the outcome of the arbitration proceedings, a Member State may at any time accept that it would be financially responsible in the event that compensation is to be paid. In such a case the Member State and the Commission may enter into arrangements for the periodic payment of costs and for the payment of any compensation. Such acceptance does not imply in any legal manner that the Member State accepts that the claim under dispute is well founded. The Commission may in such a case adopt a decision requiring the Member State to make provision for such costs. In the event that the tribunal awards costs to the Union, the Commission should ensure that any advance payment of costs is immediately reimbursed to the Member State concerned.
Amendment 14
Proposal for a regulation
Recital 16
(16)   In some cases, it may be appropriate to reach a settlement in order to avoid costly and unnecessary arbitration. It is necessary to lay down a procedure for making such settlements. Such a procedure should permit the Commission, acting in accordance with the examination procedure, to settle a case where this would be in the interests of the Union. Where the case concerns treatment afforded by a Member State, it is appropriate that there should be close co-operation and consultations between the Commission and the Member State concerned. The Member State should remain free to settle the case at all times, provided that it accepts full financial responsibility and that any such settlement is consistent with Union law and not against the interests of the Union.
(16)   In some cases, it may be appropriate to reach a settlement in order to avoid costly and unnecessary arbitration. It is necessary to lay down an effective and swift procedure for making such settlements. Such a procedure should permit the Commission, acting in accordance with the examination procedure, to settle a case where this would be in the interests of the Union. Where the case concerns treatment afforded by a Member State, it is appropriate that there should be close co-operation and consultations between the Commission and the Member State concerned, including on the proceedings of the settlement procedure and on the amount of monetary compensation. The Member State should remain free to settle the case at all times, provided that it accepts full financial responsibility and that any such settlement is consistent with Union law and not against the interests of the Union as a whole .
Amendment 15
Proposal for a regulation
Recital 18
(18)   The Commission should consult closely with the Member State concerned in order to reach agreement on the apportionment of financial responsibility. Where the Commission determines that a Member State is responsible, and the Member State does not accept that determination, the Commission should pay the award, but should address a decision to the Member State requesting it to provide the amounts concerned to the budget of the European Union , together with applicable interest. The interest payable should be that set down pursuant to [Article 71(4) of Council Regulation (EC , Euratom) No 1605/2002 of 25 June 2002 on the Financial Regulation applicable to the general budget of the European Communities as amended] . Article 263 of the Treaty is avalable in cases where a Member State considers that the decision falls short of the criteria set out in this Regulation.
(18)   The Commission should consult closely with the Member State concerned in order to reach agreement on the apportionment of financial responsibility. Where the Commission determines that a Member State is responsible, and the Member State does not accept that determination, the Commission should pay the award, but should address a decision to the Member State requesting it to provide the amounts concerned to the Union budget, together with applicable interest. The interest payable should be that set down pursuant to Article 78(4) of Regulation (EU , Euratom) No 966/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 October 2012 on the financial rules applicable to the general budget of the Union 1 . Article 263 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union is available in cases where a Member State considers that the decision falls short of the criteria set out in this Regulation.
–––––––––––––––––
1 OJ L 298, 26.10.2012, p. 1.
Amendment 16
Proposal for a regulation
Recital 19
(19)   The Union budget should provide coverage of the expenditure resulting from agreements concluded pursuant to Article 218 of the Treaty providing for investor-state dispute settlement. Where Member States have financial responsibility pursuant to this Regulation, the Union should be able to either accumulate the contributions of the Member State concerned first before implementing the relevant expenditure or implement the relevant expenditure first and be reimbursed by the Member States concerned after. Use of both of these mechanisms of budgetary treatment should be possible, depending on what is feasible, in particular in terms of timing. For both mechanisms, the contributions or reimbursements paid by the Member States should be treated as internal assigned revenue of the Union budget. The appropriations arising from this internal assigned revenue should not only cover the relevant expenditure but they should also be eligible for replenishment of other parts of the Union budget which provided the initial appropriations to implement the relevant expenditure under the second mechanism.
(19)   The Union budget should provide coverage of the expenditure resulting from agreements concluded pursuant to Article 218 of the Treaty providing for investor-to-state dispute settlement. Where Member States have financial responsibility pursuant to this Regulation, the Union should be able to either accumulate the contributions of the Member State concerned first before implementing the relevant expenditure or implement the relevant expenditure first and be reimbursed by the Member States concerned after. Use of both of these mechanisms of budgetary treatment should be possible, depending on what is feasible, in particular in terms of timing. For both mechanisms, the contributions or reimbursements paid by the Member States should be treated as internal assigned revenue of the Union budget. The appropriations arising from this internal assigned revenue should not only cover the relevant expenditure but they should also be eligible for replenishment of other parts of the Union budget which provided the initial appropriations to implement the relevant expenditure under the second mechanism.
Amendment 17
Proposal for a regulation
Article 2 – point b
(b) ‘costs arising from the arbitration’ means the fees and costs of the arbitration tribunal and the costs of representation and expenses awarded to the claimant by the arbitration tribunal;
(b) ‘costs arising from the arbitration’ means the fees and costs of the arbitration tribunal, arbitration institution and the costs of representation and expenses awarded to the claimant by the arbitration tribunal;
Amendment 18
Proposal for a regulation
Article 2 – point c
(c) ‘dispute’ means a claim brought by a claimant against the Union pursuant to an agreement and on which an arbitration tribunal will rule;
(c) ‘dispute’ means a claim brought by a claimant against the Union or a Member State pursuant to an agreement and on which an arbitration tribunal will rule;
Amendment 19
Proposal for a regulation
Article 2 – point j a (new)
(ja) ‘overriding interests of the Union’ means any of the following:
(i) there is a serious threat to the consistent or uniform application or implementation of investment provisions of the agreement subject to the investor-to-state dispute to which the Union is a party,
(ii) a Member State measure may conflict with the development of the Union's future investment policy,
(iii) the dispute implies a possible significant financial impact on the Union budget in a given year or as part of the multiannual financial framework.
Amendment 20
Proposal for a regulation
Article 3 – paragraph 2
2.   Where provided for in this Regulation, the Commission shall adopt a decision determining the financial responsibility of the Member State concerned in accordance with the criteria laid down in paragraph 1.
2.   Where provided for in this Regulation, the Commission shall adopt a decision determining the financial responsibility of the Member State concerned in accordance with the criteria laid down in paragraph 1. The European Parliament and the Council shall be informed of such a decision.
Amendment 21
Proposal for a regulation
Article 7 – paragraph 1
As soon as the Commission receives notice by which a claimant states its intention to initiate arbitration proceedings, in accordance with the provisions of an agreement, it shall notify the Member State concerned.

As soon as the Commission receives notice by which a claimant states its intention to initiate arbitration proceedings, or as soon as the Commission is informed about a request for consultations or a claim against a Member State, it shall notify the Member State concerned and inform the European Parliament and the Council on any prior request from a claimant for consultations, on the notice by which a claimant states its intention to initiate arbitration proceedings against the Union or a Member State within 15 working days of receiving the notice, including the name of the claimant, the provisions of the agreement alleged to have been breached, the economic sector involved, the treatment alleged to be in breach of the agreement and the amount of damages claimed.

Amendment 22
Proposal for a regulation
Article 8 – paragraph 2 – point c
(c) it is likely that similar claims will be brought under the same agreement against treatment afforded by other Member States and the Commission is best placed to ensure an effective and consistent defence; or,
(c) similar claims or requests for consultations concerning similar claims have been lodged under the same agreement against treatment afforded by other Member States and the Commission is best placed to ensure an effective and consistent defence; or,
Amendment 23
Proposal for a regulation
Article 8 – paragraph 2 – point d
(d) the dispute raises unsettled issues of law which may recur in other disputes under the same or other Union agreements concerning treatment afforded by the Union or other Member States .
(d) the dispute raises sensitive issues of law the resolution of which may affect the future interpretation of the agreement in question or of other agreements.
Amendment 24
Proposal for a regulation
Article 8 – paragraph 2 a (new)
2a.    Where the Union assumes to act as respondent pursuant to a decision of the Commission in accordance with paragraph 2 or the default rule set out in paragraph 1, such determination of the respondent status shall be binding on the claimant and the arbitration tribunal.
Amendment 25
Proposal for a regulation
Article 8 – paragraph 4
4.   The Commission shall inform the other Member States and the European Parliament of any dispute in which this Article is applied and the manner in which it has been applied.
4.   The Commission shall inform the European Parliament and the Council of any dispute in which this Article is applied and the manner in which it has been applied.
Amendment 26
Proposal for a regulation
Article 9 – paragraph 1 – point b
(b) inform the Commission of all significant procedural steps, and enter into consultations regularly and, in any event, when requested by the Commission; and,
(b) inform the Commission of all significant procedural steps without delay , and enter into consultations regularly and, in any event, when requested by the Commission; and,
Amendment 27
Proposal for a regulation
Article 9 – paragraph 2
2.   The Commission may, at any time, require the Member State concerned to take a particular position as regards any point of law raised by the dispute or any other element having a Union interest .
2.   Where overriding interests of the Union so require, the Commission may, at any time after consultations with the Member State concerned, require that Member State to take a particular position as regards any point of law raised by the dispute or any other issue of law, the resolution of which may affect the future interpretation of the agreement in question or of other agreements .
Amendment 28
Proposal for a regulation
Article 9 – paragraph 2 a (new)
2a.    If the Member State concerned considers the request of the Commission as unduly compromising its effective defence, it shall enter into consultations with a view to finding an acceptable solution. Where an acceptable solution cannot be found, the Commission may take a decision requiring the Member State concerned to take a particular legal position.
Amendment 29
Proposal for a regulation
Article 9 – paragraph 3
3.   When an agreement, or the rules referred to therein, provide for the possibility of annulment, appeal or review of a point of law included in an arbitration award, the Commission may where it considers that the consistency or correctness of the interpretation of the agreement so warrant, require the Member State to lodge an application for such annulment, appeal or review. In such circumstances, representatives of the Commission shall form part of the delegation and may express the views of the Union as regards the point of law in question.
3.   When an agreement, or the rules referred to therein, provide for the possibility of annulment, appeal or review of a point of law included in an arbitration award, the Commission may where it considers that the consistency or correctness of the interpretation of the agreement so warrant, after consultations with the Member State concerned, require that Member State to lodge an application for such annulment, appeal or review. In such circumstances, representatives of the Commission shall form part of the delegation and may express the views of the Union as regards the point of law in question.
Amendment 30
Proposal for a regulation
Article 9 – paragraph 3 a (new)
3a.    If the Member State concerned refuses to lodge an application for annulment, appeal or review, it shall inform the Commission within 30 days. In that case the Commission may take a decision requiring the Member State concerned to lodge an application for annulment, appeal or review.
Amendment 31
Proposal for a regulation
Article 10 – point c
(c) the Commission shall provide the Member State with all documents relating to the proceeding, so as to ensure as effective defence as possible; and,
(c) the Commission shall provide the Member State with all documents relating to the proceeding, keep the Member State informed of all significant procedural steps and enter into consultations with the Member State in any event when requested by the Member State concerned, so as to ensure as effective defence as possible; and,
Amendment 32
Proposal for a regulation
Article 10 – paragraph 1 a (new)
The Commission shall regularly inform the European Parliament and the Council of developments in the arbitration proceedings referred to in the first paragraph.

Amendment 33
Proposal for a regulation
Article 13 – paragraph 1
1.   Where the Union is respondent in a dispute concerning treatment afforded, whether fully or in part, by a Member State, and the Commission considers that the settlement of the dispute would be in the interests of the Union, it shall first consult with the Member State concerned. The Member State may also initiate such consultations with the Commission.
1.   Where the Union is respondent in a dispute concerning treatment afforded, whether fully or in part, by a Member State, and the Commission considers that the settlement of the dispute would be in the interests of the Union, it shall first consult with the Member State concerned. The Member State may also initiate such consultations with the Commission. The Member State and the Commission shall ensure mutual understanding of the legal situation and possible consequences and avoid any disagreement with a view to the settlement of the case.
Amendment 34
Proposal for a regulation
Article 13 – paragraph 3
3.   In the event that the Member State does not consent to settle the dispute, the Commission may settle the dispute where overriding interests of the Union so require.
3.   In the event that the Member State does not consent to settle the dispute, the Commission may settle the dispute where overriding interests of the Union so require. The Commission shall provide the European Parliament and the Council with all relevant information about the Commission's decision to settle the dispute, in particular its justification.
Amendment 35
Proposal for a regulation
Article 14 – paragraph 3 a (new)
3a.    Where a Member State is respondent in a dispute exclusively concerning treatment afforded by its authorities and decides to settle the dispute, it shall notify the Commission of the draft settlement arrangement and shall inform the Commission of the negotiation and the implementation of the settlement.
Amendment 36
Proposal for a regulation
Article 17 – paragraph 1
1.   Where the Union acts as respondent pursuant to Article 8, and the Commission considers that the award or settlement in question should be paid, in part or in full, by the Member State concerned on the basis of the criteria laid down in Article 3(1), the procedure set out in paragraphs 2 to 5 shall apply.
1.   Where the Union acts as respondent pursuant to Article 8, and the Commission considers that the award or settlement in question should be paid, in part or in full, by the Member State concerned on the basis of the criteria laid down in Article 3(1), the procedure set out in paragraphs 2 to 5 of this Article shall apply. That procedure shall also apply where the Union, acting as respondent pursuant to Article 8, is successful in the arbitration but has to bear any costs arising from the arbitration.
Amendment 37
Proposal for a regulation
Article 17 – paragraph 3
3.   Within three months of receipt of the request for payment of the final award or settlement, the Commission shall adopt a decision addressed to the Member State concerned, determining the amount to be paid by that Member State.
3.   Within three months of receipt of the request for payment of the final award or settlement, the Commission shall adopt a decision addressed to the Member State concerned, determining the amount to be paid by that Member State. The Commission shall inform the European Parliament and Council of such decision and its financial reasoning.
Amendment 38
Proposal for a regulation
Article 17 – paragraph 4
4.   Unless the Member State concerned objects to the Commission's determination within one month, the Member State concerned shall compensate the budget of the Union for the payment of the award or the settlement no later than three months after the Commission's decision. The Member State concerned shall be liable for any interest due at the rate applying to other monies owed to the budget of the Union.
4.   Unless the Member State concerned objects to the Commission's determination within one month, the Member State concerned shall compensate with the equivalent amount the Union budget for the payment of the award or the settlement no later than three months after the Commission's decision. The Member State concerned shall be liable for any interest due at the rate applying to other monies owed to the Union budget .
Amendment 39
Proposal for a regulation
Article 18 – paragraph 1
1.   The Commission may adopt a decision requiring the Member State concerned to make financial contributions to the budget of the Union in respect of any costs arising from the arbitration where it considers that the Member State will be liable to pay any award pursuant to the criteria set down in Article 3.
1.   Where the Union acts as respondent pursuant to Article 8, and unless an arrangement has been entered into pursuant to Article 11, the Commission may adopt a decision requiring the Member State concerned to make advance financial contributions to the Union budget in respect of foreseeable or incurred costs arising from the arbitration. Such a decision on financial contributions shall be proportionate, taking into account the criteria set down in Article 3.
Amendment 40
Proposal for a regulation
Article 19
A Member State's reimbursement or payment to the budget of the Union, for the payment of an award or a settlement or any costs, shall be considered as internal assigned revenue in the sense of [Article 18 of Council Regulation (EC , Euratom) No 1605/2002 of 25 June 2002 on the Financial Regulation applicable to the General Budget of the European Communities] . It may be used to cover expenditure resulting from agreements concluded pursuant to Article 218 of the Treaty providing for investor-state dispute settlement or to replenish appropriations initially provided to cover the payment of an award or a settlement or any costs.

A Member State's reimbursement or payment to the Union budget , for the payment of an award or a settlement or any costs, including those referred to in Article 18(1) of this Regulation, shall be considered as internal assigned revenue in the sense of Article 21(4) of Regulation (EU , Euratom) No 966/2012 . It may be used to cover expenditure resulting from agreements concluded pursuant to Article 218 of the Treaty providing for investor-to-state dispute settlement or to replenish appropriations initially provided to cover the payment of an award or a settlement or any costs.

Amendment 41
Proposal for a regulation
Article 20 – paragraph 1
1.   The Commission shall be assisted by [ the Committee for Investment Agreements established by Regulation [2010/197 COD]] . That committee shall be a committee within the meaning of Regulation (EU) No 182/2011.
1.   The Commission shall be assisted by the Committee for Investment Agreements established by Regulation (EU) No 1219/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 December 2012 establishing transitional arrangements for bilateral investment agreements between Member States and third countries 1 . That committee shall be a committee within the meaning of Regulation (EU) No 182/2011.
–––––––––––––––––
1 OJ L 351 20.12.2012, p. 40.
Amendment 42
Proposal for a regulation
Article 21 – paragraph 1
1.   The Commission shall submit a report on the operation of this Regulation to the European Parliament and the Council at regular intervals. The first report shall be submitted no later than three years after the entry into force of this Regulation. Subsequent reports shall be submitted every three years thereafter.
1.   The Commission shall submit a detailed report on the operation of this Regulation to the European Parliament and the Council at regular intervals. That report shall contain all relevant information including the listing of the claims made against the Union or the Member States, related proceedings, rulings and the financial impact on the respective budgets. The first report shall be submitted no later than five years after the entry into force of this Regulation. Subsequent reports shall be submitted every three years thereafter unless the budgetary authority, comprised of the European Parliament and the Council, decides otherwise.
Amendment 43
Proposal for a regulation
Article 21 – paragraph 1 a (new)
1a.    The Commission shall annually submit to the European Parliament and to the Council a list of requests for consultations from claimants, claims and arbitration rulings.

(1) The matter was referred back to the committee responsible for reconsideration pursuant to Rule 57(2), second subparagraph (A7-0124/2013 ).


Non-commercial movement of pet animals ***I
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Resolution
Consolidated text
Annex
European Parliament legislative resolution of 23 May 2013 on the proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the non-commercial movement of pet animals (COM(2012)0089 – C7-0060/2012 – 2012/0039(COD) ) (Ordinary legislative procedure: first reading)
P7_TA(2013)0220 A7-0371/2012

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to the Commission proposal to Parliament and the Council (COM(2012)0089 ),

–   having regard to Article 294(2) and Articles 43(2) and 168(4)(b) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, pursuant to which the Commission submitted the proposal to Parliament (C7-0060/2012 ),

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

–   having regard to the opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee of 23 May 2012(1) ,

–   after consulting the Committee of the Regions,

–   having regard to the undertaking given by the Council representative by letter of 13 March 2013 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 the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (A7-0371/2012 ),

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

2.   Takes note of the Commission statement annexed to this resolution;

3.   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;

4.   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 23 May 2013 with a view to the adoption of Regulation (EU) No .../2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council on the non-commercial movement of pet animals and repealing Regulation (EC) No 998/2003

P7_TC1-COD(2012)0039


(As an agreement was reached between Parliament and Council, Parliament's position corresponds to the final legislative act, Regulation (EU) No 576/2013)

ANNEX TO THE LEGISLATIVE RESOLUTION

Commission Statement

Within the framework of the European Union Strategy for the Protection and Welfare of Animals(2) , the Commission will study the welfare of dogs and cats involved in commercial practices.

If the outcome of that study indicates health risks arising from those commercial practices, the Commission will consider appropriate options for the protection of human and animal health, including proposing to the European Parliament and to the Council appropriate adaptations to current Union legislation on trade in dogs and cats, including the introduction of compatible systems for their registration accessible across Member States.

In light of the above, the Commission will assess the feasibility and appropriateness of an extension of such registration systems to dogs and cats marked and identified in accordance with Union legislation on non-commercial movements of pet animals.

(1) OJ C 229, 31.7.2012, p. 119.
(2) COM(2012)0006 - Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council and the European Economic and Social Committee on the European Union Strategy for the Protection and Welfare of Animals 2012-2015.


Animal health requirements governing trade in dogs, cats and ferrets ***I
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Resolution
Consolidated text
European Parliament legislative resolution of 23 May 2013 on the proposal for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Council Directive 92/65/EEC as regards the animal health requirements governing intra-Union trade in and imports into the Union of dogs, cats and ferrets (COM(2012)0090 – C7-0061/2012 – 2012/0040(COD) ) (Ordinary legislative procedure: first reading)
P7_TA(2013)0221 A7-0366/2012

The European Parliament ,

–   having regard to the Commission proposal to Parliament and the Council (COM(2012)0090 ),

–   having regard to Article 294(2) and Article 43(2) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, pursuant to which the Commission submitted the proposal to Parliament (C7-0061/2012 ),

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

–   having regard to the opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee of 23 May 2012(1) ,

–   having regard to the undertaking given by the Council representative by letter of 13 March 2013 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 the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (A7-0366/2012 ),

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 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 23 May 2013 with a view to the adoption of Directive 2013/…/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Council Directive 92/65/EEC as regards the animal health requirements governing intra-Union trade in and imports into the Union of dogs, cats and ferrets

P7_TC1-COD(2012)0040


(As an agreement was reached between Parliament and Council, Parliament's position corresponds to the final legislative act, Directive 2013/31/EU)

(1) OJ C 229, 31.7.2012, p. 119.


Future legislative proposals on EMU
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European Parliament resolution of 23 May 2013 on future legislative proposals on EMU: response to the Commission communications (2013/2609(RSP) )
P7_TA(2013)0222 B7-0250/2013

The European Parliament ,

–   having regard to the Commission communications entitled ‘Ex ante coordination of plans for major economic policy reforms’ (COM(2013)0166 ) and ’The introduction of a Convergence and Competitiveness Instrument’ (COM(2013)0165 ),

–   having regard to the question to the Commission on future legislative proposals on EMU (O-000060/2013 – B7-0204/2013 ),

–   having regard to the Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance in the Economic and Monetary Union of 2 March 2012, hereinafter referred as the ‘Fiscal Compact’,

–   having regard to the conclusions of the European Council of 13 and 14 December 2012,

–   having regard to the Commission Blueprint for a Deep and Genuine Economic and Monetary Union of 28 November 2012,

–   having regard to the report by the President of the European Council entitled ‘Towards a Genuine Economic and Monetary Union’ of 5 December 2012,

–   having regard to its resolution of 20 November 2012 with recommendations to the Commission on the report of the Presidents of the European Council, the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the Eurogroup ‘Towards a genuine Economic and Monetary Union’(1) , hereinafter referred to as the ’Thyssen report’,

–   having regard to its resolution of 20 October 2010 with recommendations to the Commission on improving the economic governance and stability framework of the Union, in particular in the euro area(2) , hereinafter referred to as the ‘Feio report’,

–   having regard to Regulations (EU) No 1176/2011 and (EU) No 1175/2011 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 November 2011, hereinafter referred to as the ‘six-pack’,

–   having regard to its resolution of 1 December 2011 on the European Semester for Economic Policy Coordination(3) ,

–   having regard to Regulation (EU) No .../2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council on common provisions for monitoring and assessing draft budgetary plans and ensuring the correction of excessive deficit of the Member States in the euro area and having regard to Regulation (EU) No .../2013 on the strengthening of economic and budgetary surveillance of Member States in the euro area experiencing or threatened with serious difficulties with respect to their financial stability, hereinafter referred to as the ‘two-pack’,

–   having regard to the joint statement by President Barroso and Vice-President Rehn on the occasion of the trilogue agreement on the two-pack legislation on economic governance in the euro area of 20 February 2013 (reference MEMO/13/126),

–   having regard to Rules 115(5) and 110(2) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.   whereas in Article 11 of the Fiscal Compact the signatory Member States agreed to ‘ensure that all major economic policy reforms that they plan to undertake will be discussed ex-ante and, where appropriate, coordinated among themselves’, and agreed, moreover, that such ’coordination shall involve the institutions of the European Union as required by European Union law’;

B.   whereas, according to Article 15 of the Fiscal Compact, the treaty should be incorporated into EU law within five years at most ‘on the basis of an assessment of the experience of its implementation’, and whereas Commission communications COM(2013)0165 and COM(2013)0166 and the legislative proposals expected as follow-up can be seen as steps in that direction;

C.   whereas in the Feio report of 2010, Parliament already set out a recommendation to ‘establish specific procedures and a requirement for Member States, particularly those in the euro area, to inform each other and the Commission before taking economic policy decisions with expected significant spillover effects, which may jeopardise the smooth functioning of the internal market and of the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU)’;

D.   whereas the declaration accompanying the two-pack called for the creation of a substantially reinforced economic and budgetary surveillance and control framework and for the further development of European fiscal capacity for the timely implementation of sustainable growth-enhancing structural reforms supporting the principle that steps towards more responsibility and economic discipline should be combined with more solidarity as well as more thoroughgoing integration of decision-making in policy areas such as taxation and labour markets as an important solidarity instrument; whereas this declaration emphasised the principle that steps towards enhanced economic policy coordination must go hand in hand with more solidarity;

E.   whereas paragraph 11 of the Thyssen report stressed that a ‘genuine EMU’ cannot be limited to a system of rules, but requires an increased budgetary capacity based on specific own-resources;

F.   whereas the Thyssen report noted that high-quality and reliable European statistics play an essential role at the heart of the new economic governance and of its major decision-making exercises, that the effective independence of the European statistical system at both national and European levels must be safeguarded as a prerequisite and that moving towards public accounting standards in all Member States in a standardised manner will be an essential complement to the Commission’s greater enforcement powers in verifying the quality of national sources used to establish debt and deficit figures in a fully-fledged fiscal union;

General assessment of the Commission’s communications

1.   Acknowledges the Commission’s effort to make further progress on macroeconomic governance in the Union, building on the six-pack and the two-pack; stresses, however, that full implementation of the new framework must take precedence over any new proposal;

2.   Points out that the creation of an incentive-based enforcement mechanism aiming at increasing solidarity, cohesion and competitiveness must go hand in hand with additional layers on economic policy coordination, as stated in the Commission declaration accompanying the ‘two pack’, so as to comply with the principle that ’steps towards more responsibility and economic discipline are combined with more solidarity’;

3.   Stresses that any further proposal must offer clear added value in relation to existing instruments, such as those under the cohesion policy;

4.   Stresses that coordination efforts must not blur the respective responsibilities of different levels of decision-making;

5.   Reaffirms that governance in the EU must not infringe on the prerogatives of the European Parliament and the national parliaments, especially whenever any transfer of sovereignty is envisaged; stresses that proper legitimacy and accountability require democratic decisions and must be ensured at national and EU levels by national parliaments and the European Parliament respectively; recalls the principle set out in the conclusions of the December 2012 European Council that ‘throughout the process, the general objective remains to ensure democratic legitimacy and accountability at the level at which decisions are taken and implemented’; stresses that the mechanisms for ex-ante coordination, and convergence and competitiveness instruments (CCIs), should apply to all Member States which have adopted the euro as their currency, with the possibility for other Member States to join on a permanent basis; calls on the Commission to provide for such compulsory validation by national parliaments in forthcoming legislative proposals, as well as to ensure greater involvement of the two sides of industry in economic coordination;

6.   Is of the opinion that the timing of the communications is not optimal; calls on the Commission to bring forward a proposal to adopt a convergence code under the EU Semester, based on EU 2020 and including a strong social pillar;

7.   Reiterates that the Commission needs to take full account of Parliament’s role as a co-legislator; is disappointed that the recent communications on EMU do not reflect the position taken by the European Parliament at the Deepening EMU negotiations and only provide for very limited parliamentary scrutiny by proposing a dialogue structure; stresses that Parliament is a legislative and budgetary authority on an equal footing with the Council;

8.   Is disappointed that the policy areas covered in the communications focus mainly on price competitiveness and do not include tax avoidance or the social and employment dimensions;

9.   Stresses that the legislative proposals relating to both communications should follow the ordinary legislative procedure;

Ex-ante coordination of plans for major economic policy reforms

10.   Is of the opinion that formal ex-ante coordination of economic policy reforms at EU level is important and should be strengthened on the basis of the Community method, and that it should concern the key national economic reforms provided for in national reform programmes with demonstrable potential spillover effects; believes that any such ex-ante coordination should be aligned with the instruments of the EU Semester for economic policy coordination referred to in Article 2a of Regulation (EU) No 1175/2011 and, where necessary, should be designed in conjunction with new solidarity and incentive-based instruments;

11.   Is of the view that more thoroughgoing integration of ex-ante coordination and decision-making in policy areas at Union level must build upon a solid foundation of official statistics and, in particular, that further budgetary coordination within the Union requires consolidated data on the public accounts of the Union, the Member States and local and regional authorities; believes, therefore, that the Commission should include the establishment of such consolidated data in upcoming legislative proposals;

12.   Deplores the vague drafting and excessively loose definitions of some of the proposed filters for major economic policy reforms, such as ‘political economy considerations’; asks for new and specific filters to be added, based on the EU Semester and EU 2020 instruments, in order to identify key reforms, taking into account national specificities and respecting subsidiarity;

13.   Stresses that the mechanisms to be put in place for ex-ante coordination should apply to all euro area Member States and be open to all Member States of the Union, while taking into account the stronger interdependence of euro area Member States; is of the opinion that the Member States in the programme should be allowed to participate on a voluntary basis;

14.   Calls for the reform plans to be transparent and inclusive and for them to be made public; calls, furthermore, for a social dialogue involving stakeholders in society to play a central and explicit role in discussions on ex-ante coordination;

15.   Calls for diligent design to be applied to the process by which the Commission is informed and for it to be able to comment on the planned reforms in advance of their final adoption;

16.   Asks for this new coordination instrument to be included in the European Semester process, and for the European Parliament to be given a role in ensuring democratic accountability;

17.   Stresses that ex-ante coordination should strive not to suffocate national reform efforts but to ensure that reforms are not delayed, unless the spillover effects they would bring about are sufficiently significant to warrant a reassessment of the reforms;

Introduction of a convergence and competitiveness instrument (CCI)

18.   Is of the opinion that any proposed new CCI should be based on conditionality, solidarity and convergence; believes that such an instrument should only be launched after social imbalances and the need for major long-term and sustainable growth-enhancing structural reforms have been identified on the basis of an assessment of the coherence between the convergence code and national implementation plans, with the proper formal involvement of the European Parliament, the Council and national parliaments;

19.   Stresses that the new CCI to be put in place should apply to all euro area Member States and be open to all Member States of the Union, while taking into account the stronger interdependence of euro area Member States; is of the opinion that the Member States in the programme should be allowed to participate on a voluntary basis;

20.   Is of the opinion that it is of the utmost importance to ensure that this new instrument is adopted in accordance with the ordinary legislative procedure, is based on the Community method and provides for proper scrutiny by the European Parliament by allowing for case-by-case adoption of the relevant budgetary appropriations;

21.   Stresses that annual reporting on, and monitoring of, the implementation of the national plan should be based on a reinforced European Semester, without prejudice to EU budgetary scrutiny;

22.   Is of the opinion that the CCI should be a vehicle for increased budgetary capacity and be geared towards conditional support for structural reforms, with the aim of enhancing competitiveness, growth and social cohesion, ensuring closer coordination of economic policies and sustained convergence of the economic performance of the Member States, and addressing imbalances and structural divergences; considers such instruments to be building blocks towards a genuine fiscal capacity;

23.   Stresses that such a budgetary capacity could naturally only benefit the Member States contributing to it;

24.   Is disappointed that the communications, by providing for contracts between the EU and the Member States, do not respect the single European legal order; is of the opinion that the expression ‘contractual arrangements’ is inappropriate as the mechanism foreseen in the communications is not, properly speaking, a ’contract’ governed by public or private law, but rather an incentive-based enforcement mechanism for economic policy coordination;

25.   Stresses that reform plans must be designed by the Member States, with proper involvement of their national parliaments in accordance with their internal constitutional arrangements and in collaboration with the Commission, while fully respecting the principle of subsidiarity and the need to preserve appropriate policy space for national implementation and the democratic processes within each Member State;

26.   Points out that the possible short-term negative effects of the implementation of structural reforms, and in particular social and political difficulties, could be alleviated and more easily accepted by citizens if a reform-supporting incentive mechanism were put in place; further states that this mechanism should be funded by means of a new facility triggered and governed under the Community method as an integral part of the EU budget, but outside the MFF ceilings, so as to ensure that the European Parliament is fully involved as a legislative and budgetary authority;

27.   States that measures taken should not have a negative impact on social inclusion, workers’ rights, health care and other social issues, even in the short term;

28.   Stresses that the instrument should avoid problems of moral hazard; takes the view that, to that end, the Commission should ensure that reforms are not delayed until they become eligible for financial support and that the instrument does not provide incentives for reforms that would have been implemented even without Union support;

29.   Stresses that the instrument should avoid overlapping with cohesion policy;

o
o   o

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

(1) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2012)0430 .
(2) OJ C 70 E, 8.3.2012, p. 41.
(3) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2011)0542 .


Situation of Syrian refugees in neighbouring countries
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European Parliament resolution of 23 May 2013 on the situation of Syrian refugees in neighbouring countries (2013/2611(RSP) )
P7_TA(2013)0223 B7-0199 , 0222 , 0226 , 0227 and 0228/2013

The European Parliament ,

–   having regard to its previous resolutions on Syria, in particular those of 16 February 2012(1) and 13 September 2012(2) , and on refugees fleeing armed conflict,

–   having regard to the Foreign Affairs Council conclusions on Syria of 23 March, 23 April, 14 May, 25 June, 23 July, 15 October, 19 November and 10 December 2012, and of 23 January, 18 February, 11 March, and 22 April 2013; having regard to the Justice and Home Affairs Council of October 2012, which endorsed the establishment of a regional protection programme by the Commission; having regard to the European Council conclusions on Syria of 2 March, 29 June and 14 December 2012, and of 8 February 2013,

–   having regard to the statements by the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (VP/HR), Catherine Ashton, on Syrian refugees, in particular her remarks during the plenary debate in Strasbourg on 13 March 2013 and her statement of 8 May 2013; having regard to the statements made by the Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response, Kristalina Georgieva, on Syrian refugees and the EU’s response, in particular her statement of 12 May 2013, and to the ECHO (Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection) situation reports and factsheets on Syria,

–   having regard to United Nations Security Council resolutions 2059 of 20 July 2012, 2043 of 21 April 2012 and 2042 of 14 April 2012, and to the updated report of the UN Independent International Commission of Inquiry of 11 March 2013; having regard to the Security Council briefings on Syria issued by the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Valerie Amos, in particular that of 18 April 2013,

–   having regard to the statements of the Secretary-General of the UN and the remarks made by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres, to the Security Council, in particular those of 18 April 2013; having regard to the UN Human Rights Council resolutions on the Syrian Arab Republic of 2 December 2011 and 22 March 2013,

–   having regard to the Marrakesh meeting of the Group of Friends of the Syrian People and to the international conference held in Paris on 28 January 2013,

–   having regard to the latest Syria Regional Response Plan (RRP) for the period from January to June 2013, and to all the RRPs issued by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees since the first one in March 2012,

–   having regard to the 2013 Syria Humanitarian Assistance Response Plan (SHARP) of 19 December 2012, prepared by the Government of the Syrian Arab Republic in coordination with the UN System,

–   having regard to the Syrian Humanitarian Forum (SHF), which was set up in spring 2012, and to its most recent meeting on 19 February 2013,

–   having regard to the Syrian Humanitarian Bulletins issued by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA),

–   having regard to the UN General Assembly resolutions on Syria, in particular Resolution 46/182 on ‘Strengthening of the coordination of humanitarian emergency assistance of the United Nations’ and the Guiding Principles annexed thereto, and Resolution 67/183 on the situation of human rights in Syria,

–   having regard to the summary report of the high-level International Humanitarian Pledging Conference for Syria, held in Kuwait on 30 January 2013,

–   having regard to the Final Communiqué of the Action Group for Syria (the ‘Geneva Communiqué’) of 30 June 2012,

–   having regard to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948,

–   having regard to the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and the additional protocols thereto,

–   having regard to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Optional Protocol thereto on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, and the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, to all of which Syria is a party,

–   having regard to Rule 110(2) and (4) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.   whereas up to 16 May 2013 the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) had registered a total of 1 523 626 Syrian refugees in neighbouring countries and in North Africa; whereas the total number of refugees, including those unregistered, is assessed as being much higher; whereas according to the UNHCR 7 million Syrians rely on aid, including 3,1 million children, and the number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) was 4,25 million as at 6 May 2013; whereas according to the same sources the number of refugees (including those awaiting registration) present in receiving countries as at 16 May 2013 was as follows: Turkey, 347 815; Lebanon, 474 461; Jordan, 474 405; Iraq, 148 028; Egypt, 68 865; Morocco, Algeria and Libya, 10 052 (registered); whereas thousands of Syrians are fleeing on a daily basis to neighbouring countries and the UNHCR is projecting a total of 3,5 million refugees from Syria by the end of 2013;

B.   whereas the number of Syrian refugees and people in need is rising dramatically as the political and humanitarian situation deteriorates each day that the armed conflict continues; whereas not only civilians, but also several former political and military leaders of the regime, as well as ambassadors, have defected to neighbouring countries and beyond; whereas the armed conflict in Syria is a major threat to the fragile security and stability of the region as a whole; whereas the risk of spill-over effects from the armed conflict is in danger of transitioning from being incidental to structural; whereas the EU and the international community cannot afford an additional catastrophe; whereas a pan-regional political, security and humanitarian disaster would overwhelm international response capacity;

C.   whereas thousands of those of who have fled Syria have deserted from the armed forces to escape having to commit war crimes or crimes against humanity, or are evading military service for similar reasons;

D.   whereas in May 2013 the UN estimated that at least 80 000 people, mostly civilians, had died because of the violence in Syria;

E.   whereas the destruction of essential infrastructure including schools and hospitals, the devaluation of the currency, rising food prices, fuel and electricity shortages and the lack of water, food and medicine have had an impact on the majority of Syrians; whereas physical access to people in need of humanitarian assistance in Syria remains severely constrained and depends on the Assad government’s cooperation;

F.   whereas UN agencies have reported progress in organising inter-agency aid convoys across conflict lines to government- or opposition-controlled and contested areas; whereas bureaucratic obstacles and checkpoints throughout the country (both government- and opposition-controlled) are hindering an effective humanitarian response in all areas of Syria;

G.   whereas registration remains the key mechanism through which people of concern are identified, protected and assisted, particularly new arrivals who have specific needs, including the disabled, the elderly, unaccompanied minors and separated children, in order to provide prioritised assistance;

H.   whereas the host countries have maintained an open-border policy throughout the armed conflict, but have opted for different hosting methods; whereas their ability and capacity to absorb and shelter the increasing stream of refugees is being stretched to the limit as ‘incidents’ tend to happen regularly along the border lines; whereas Lebanon has gone for a ’no camp’ policy and has largely absorbed the refugees into local communities; whereas approximately three quarters of the Syrian refugees in neighbouring countries are living outside camps in urban settings; whereas approximately 350 000 Syrians are staying in 23 refugee camps in Turkey, Jordan and Iraq;

I.   whereas aid organisations are currently responding to the Syrian refugee situation in Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq, focusing primarily on women and children, who have special needs but are often under-served in urban refugee communities; whereas the rural spread of the refugee population demands a complex urban registration programme;

J.   whereas the refugee-receiving countries are facing tremendous domestic challenges of their own, including economic instability, inflation and unemployment, with Lebanon and Jordan being particularly vulnerable;

K.   whereas affording to pay rent is becoming a growing concern for many Syrian refugees as overcrowding and competition for shelter increase and prices rise; whereas refugees are facing significant income-expenditure gaps, limited work opportunities, the exhaustion of their savings and rising debt levels; whereas competition for jobs and rising food prices are factors that are exacerbating tensions between local and refugee populations, particularly in Lebanon and Jordan, which together are hosting more than 1 million refugees;

L.   whereas continuing efforts to increase support for host communities are necessary in order to enable them to continue to keep their borders open, assist refugees and provide the requisite infrastructure, and in order to ease tensions and lift the burden on those communities;

M.   whereas funding constraints continue to impede the timely and efficient delivery of basic humanitarian assistance; whereas SHARP requires a total of USD 563 million in funding to address the needs of people in Syria; whereas, as at 6 May 2013, the response plan was only 61 % funded;

N.   whereas the current UN Regional Response Plan (RRP 4) is being revised for the period up to December 2013; whereas the UN will launch a new appeal for funding on 7 June 2013, which will reflect the rising number of refugees fleeing Syria and their continuing needs, as well as including greater support for host governments and communities, and is likely to amount to USD 3 billion;

O.   whereas reports by aid organisations state that only 30 % to 40 % of the total funds pledged so far by the international community have actually been provided;

P.   whereas the level of humanitarian assistance is in danger of becoming unsustainable; whereas all the humanitarian actors involved need levels of financial support that are out of proportion with the established humanitarian aid budgets of traditional donors; whereas extraordinary funding mechanisms have to be established in order to meet basic needs arising from the Syrian crisis;

Q.   whereas the EU is the largest donor; whereas on 22 April 2013 the total humanitarian assistance committed by the EU in response to the Syrian crisis amounted to almost EUR 473 million, including EUR 200 million from the EU itself and nearly EUR 273 million from Member States; whereas on 12 May 2013 the Commission announced additional funding of EUR 65 million;

R.   whereas some 400 000 Palestinian refugees have been affected inside Syria; whereas the Palestinians have largely remained neutral in the conflict; whereas almost 50 000 Palestinians have been registered by the UN Relief and Works Agency in Lebanon, and almost 5 000 in Jordan; whereas Jordan has closed its border to Palestinians fleeing the conflict in Syria, and whereas they are to a great extent prevented from working in Lebanon; whereas Iraqi, Afghan, Somali and Sudanese refugees in Syria are also facing renewed displacement;

S.   whereas safety and security in Jordan’s Zaatari Camp have degenerated, with theft and fires taking place; whereas Zaatari has become Jordan’s fourth-largest city, housing more than 170 000 people; whereas riots and violent protests in the refugee camps are motivated by poor living conditions and delays in receiving assistance; whereas the overall lack of security continues to endanger lives in the camps, affecting humanitarian workers; whereas aid workers have been attacked, hospitalised and even killed while distributing aid, and whereas journalists have been beaten;

T.   whereas according to international organisations, women and girls in refugee camps are the victims of increasing sexual violence, with rape being used as a weapon of war; whereas there are no viable medical options for Syrian refugees who are survivors of sexual violence; whereas a disproportionate number of young girls and women in the refugee camps are getting married; whereas, according to several sources, temporary Mutah ‘marriages of pleasure’ with Syrian refugees are taking place in refugee camps;

U.   whereas in March 2013 the UN launched an independent investigation into allegations concerning the possible use of chemical weapons in Syria; whereas these allegations may have contributed to the mass displacement of people; whereas the Syrian regime has refused to allow the UN investigation team into the country;

1.   Expresses grave concern at the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Syria and the implications for its neighbouring countries; expresses concern that the exodus of refugees from Syria is continuing to accelerate; recalls that the Assad government bears primary responsibility for taking care of the well-being of its people;

2.   Condemns again, in the strongest terms, the brutality and atrocities perpetrated by the Syrian regime against the country’s population; expresses its deepest concern at the gravity of the widespread and systematic human rights violations and possible crimes against humanity authorised and/or perpetrated by the Syrian authorities, the Syrian army, security forces and affiliated militias; condemns the summary extrajudicial executions and all other forms of human rights violations committed by groups and forces opposing the regime of President Assad; reiterates its call for President Bashar al-Assad and his regime to step aside immediately, so as to allow a peaceful, inclusive and democratic Syrian-led transition to take place in the country;

3.   Calls on all armed actors to put an immediate end to violence in Syria; stresses again that international humanitarian law, the main aim of which is to protect civilians, must be fully upheld by all actors in the crisis; stresses that those responsible for the widespread, systemic and gross human rights violations committed in Syria over the past 24 months must be held accountable and brought to justice; strongly supports, in this connection, the calls made by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to refer the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court;

4.   Extends its condolences to the victims’ families; applauds the courage of the Syrian people and reiterates its solidarity with their struggle for freedom, dignity and democracy;

5.   Believes that the key to solving the conflict lies in political mechanisms facilitating a Syrian-led political process that will promote a swift, credible and effective political solution in conjunction with those genuinely committed to transition, while ensuring full respect for the universal values of democracy, the rule of law, human rights and fundamental freedoms, with special regard to the rights of ethnic, cultural and religious minorities and of women; reaffirms that it is a priority to keep the humanitarian and political tracks separate in order to facilitate access to those in need; calls for the EU and the European External Action Service to develop a roadmap for political governance in the liberated areas, including the possibility of lifting the economic sanctions;

6.   Notes that all deserters from Syria are entitled to further protection, being at risk on other grounds than those set out in paragraph 26 of the UNHCR guidelines, namely ‘excessive or disproportionately severe’ punishment, possibly amounting to torture, inhuman or degrading treatment or even arbitrary execution;

7.   Calls on the UN Security Council (UNSC) members, in particular Russia and China, to fulfil their responsibility to put an end to the violence and repression against the Syrian people, inter alia by adopting a UNSC resolution based on the UNSC press statement of 18 April 2013, and to mandate humanitarian aid deliveries in all areas of Syria; calls on the VP/HR to do her utmost to secure the adoption of a UNSC resolution by exerting effective diplomatic pressure on both Russia and China; calls for the EU to continue to explore, within the UNSC, all the options under the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) framework, in close cooperation with the US, Turkey and the League of Arab States, in order to assist the Syrian people and halt the bloodshed; strongly supports the work of the Independent Commission of Inquiry on the situation in Syria and welcomes its updated report;

8.   Supports the joint call by US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to convene an international peace conference on Syria as soon as possible as a follow-up to the Geneva Conference of June 2012;

9.   Expresses its concern about further militarisation of the conflict and sectarian violence; notes the role of different regional actors, including in the delivery of arms, and is concerned about the spill-over effects of the Syrian conflict in neighbouring countries in terms of the humanitarian crisis, security and stability; strongly condemns the car bomb attacks of 11 May 2013 which killed and injured dozens of people near a Syrian refugee base in the town of Reyhanli, in the Hatay province of south-eastern Turkey, as well as instances of shelling and shooting by Syrian armed forces into neighbouring countries; supports the VP/HR’s condemnation of terrorist attacks of any kind;

10.   Stresses that the EU has a particular responsibility for stability and security in its neighbourhood and calls on the VP/HR and the Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy to ensure that the EU plays a leading role in preventing the armed conflict in Syria from spilling over into neighbouring countries;

11.   Pays tribute to host communities and to Syria’s neighbouring countries, in particular Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq, for their resourcefulness in providing shelter and humanitarian aid to families fleeing the armed conflict in Syria, but is seriously concerned about the dangerous saturation point that those countries are approaching on account of the influx of Syrian refugees, which could set off unprecedented regional instability;

12.   Supports and welcomes the considerable contribution made by the Commission and the Member States to international humanitarian assistance programmes, and the political leadership shown by the Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response; welcomes the Commission’s diversification of humanitarian partners in Syria in order to provide more efficient and widespread aid, particularly in regions outside government control; calls on EU actors and the Member States to better coordinate their actions and assistance inside and outside Syria;

13.   Urges the Commission to present a comprehensive aid package – serving as an example to other major donors – to address the humanitarian crisis in Syria and its neighbouring countries, based on three pillars: (i) increased humanitarian assistance (via ECHO), (ii) support to help host countries strengthen local communities and increase capacity and infrastructure (via DEVCO) and (iii) the swift introduction of macro-financial assistance packages for Lebanon and Jordan;

14.   Underlines the importance of keeping international borders open and urges the international community to support Lebanon and Jordan generously in managing the growing refugee influx; urges all regional host governments and other actors to uphold the principles of non-refoulement and equal treatment of refugees;

15.   Calls for the EU to take appropriate, responsible measures regarding the possible influx of refugees into its Member States;

16.   Calls for the Member States immediately to cease their reported use of prolonged detention periods and the practice of refoulement, which are in direct violation of international and EU law;

17.   Calls for immediate humanitarian assistance for all those in need in Syria, with special regard to the wounded, refugees, internally displaced persons, women and children; commends the efforts of the International Committee of the Red Cross and the UNRWA in this regard; demands that the Assad government allow humanitarian organisations full access to the country; stresses the need to increase cooperation among the various actors operating on the ground, such as local authorities, international organisations and NGOs, including cooperation at the border; considers that assistance protocols and monitoring at the border would bring added value;

18.   Calls on the EU to support the establishment of safe havens along the Turkish-Syrian border, and possibly within Syria, as well as the creation of humanitarian corridors by the international community;

19.   Welcomes the immense humanitarian aid operation to which international and local organisations are contributing under the auspices of the OCHA and the UNHCR and pays tribute to all humanitarian aid and health workers, international and local, for their courage and perseverance; calls on the EU and the international community to enhance the protection of civilians, including humanitarian workers and medical personnel; urges the international community to find a solution to the ongoing lack of security and problems with law and order in refugee camps, inter alia by setting up a new security initiative within the camps; urges all parties to the conflict to respect international humanitarian law and to facilitate humanitarian access to allow aid workers inside and outside the country to cope with the growing needs;

20.   Calls on all countries, and in particular the EU Member States, swiftly to fulfil the pledges they made at the Kuwait donor conference of 30 January 2013; calls for the EU and the international community to set up accountability mechanisms in order to ensure that all pledged funds reach their designated beneficiaries;

21.   Denounces the practice of sexual violence in Syria’s armed conflict, which is also used as a weapon of war and hence constitutes a war crime, urges the EU and the international community to allocate specific resources to ending sexual violence and calls on host communities to provide proper medical treatment to those who have been victims of sexual violence;

22.   Calls on donors, in the light of the growing needs of the Palestinian refugee population in Syria and its neighbouring countries, to fund the UNRWA appropriately, and calls on the UNRWA to generously support ongoing efforts to shore up the resilience of those refugees and minimise their suffering and displacement;

23.   Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the parliaments and governments of the Member States, the Secretary-General of the United Nations and all the parties involved in the conflict in Syria.

(1) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2012)0057 .
(2) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2012)0351 .


Asset recovery to Arab Spring countries in transition
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European Parliament resolution of 23 May 2013 on asset recovery by Arab Spring countries in transition (2013/2612(RSP) )
P7_TA(2013)0224 B7-0188 , 0189 , 0192 , 0193 and 0194/2013

The European Parliament ,

–   having regard to its previous resolutions on Arab Spring countries and on the Union for the Mediterranean, in particular its resolution of 14 March 2013 on the situation in Egypt(1) and its resolution of 10 May 2012 on ‘Trade for change: The EU Trade and Investment Strategy for the Southern Mediterranean following the Arab Spring revolutions’(2) ,

–   having regard to the recommendations of the Committee on Political Affairs, Security and Human Rights of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Union for the Mediterranean of 12 April 2013,

–   having regard to the new Council regulation of 26 November 2012 concerning the adoption of a new legislative framework to facilitate asset recovery in Egypt and Tunisia,

–   having regard to the EU-Tunisia and EU-Egypt Task Forces Co-Chairs’ Conclusions of 28-29 September 2011 and 14 November 2012 respectively, and in particular the sections thereof concerning asset recovery,

–   having regard to Council Regulation (EU) No 101/2011 of 4 February 2011 concerning restrictive measures directed against certain persons, entities and bodies in view of the situation in Tunisia and Council Regulation (EU) No 1100/2012 amending it,

–   having regard to Council Regulation (EU) No 270/2011 of 21 March 2011 concerning restrictive measures directed against certain persons, entities and bodies in view of the situation in Egypt and Council Regulation (EU) No 1099/2012 amending it,

–   having regard to Council Decision 2011/137/CFSP of 28 February 2011 concerning restrictive measures in view of the situation in Libya and Council Decisions 2011/625/CFSP and 2011/178/CFSP amending it, to Council Regulation (EU) No 204/2011 of 2 March 2011 concerning restrictive measures in view of the situation in Libya and Council Regulation (EU) No 965/2011 amending it, and to Council Implementing Regulations (EU) No 364/2013 and (EU) No 50/2013 implementing Article 16(2) of Regulation (EU) No 204/2011 concerning restrictive measures in view of the situation in Libya,

–   having regard to the existing EU legal instruments aimed at improving confiscation and asset recovery under Council Decisions 2001/500/JHA, 2003/577/JHA, 2005/212/JHA, 2006/783/JHA and 2007/845/JHA, and the proposal for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 March 2012 on the freezing and confiscation of proceeds of crime in the European Union (COM(2012)0085 ),

–   having regard to the UN Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) of 2005, in particular Article 43 thereof on international cooperation and Chapter V thereof on asset recovery, to which Egypt, Libya and Tunisia are parties and which was approved on behalf of the European Union by Council Decision 2008/801/EC of 25 September 2008,

–   having regard to the United Nations Convention on Transnational Organised Crime (Palermo Convention) of 2000,

–   having regard to UN Human Rights Council Resolution 19/38 of 19 April 2012 on the negative impact of the non-repatriation of funds of illicit origin to the countries of origin on the enjoyment of human rights, and the importance of improving international cooperation,

–   having regard to the UN Secretary-General’s initiative of 17 September 2007 on stolen asset recovery,

–   having regard to the Stolen Asset Recovery Initiative (StAR), a joint programme of the World Bank and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime,

–   having regard to the Action Plan on Asset Recovery of the G8 Deauville Partnership with Arab Countries in Transition of 21 May 2012, to which the EU is a party,

–   having regard to the Final Report of the Arab Forum on Asset Recovery of 13 September 2012,

–   having regard to Rule 110(2) and (4) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.   whereas, while the freezing of assets is an EU competence, the recovery and repatriation of assets is a competence of the Member States and must be carried out in accordance with national legal provisions; whereas the EU institutions have a vital role to play in stimulating and facilitating this process;

B.   whereas asset recovery by Arab Spring countries in transition is a moral and legal imperative and a highly political issue in the EU’s relations with its southern neighbourhood; whereas it is also an important economic issue for the southern neighbours concerned, given the potential for these assets, when returned and used in a transparent and effective manner, to contribute to their economic recovery; whereas asset recovery sends a strong message against the impunity of those involved in corruption and money laundering;

C.   whereas there exists a comprehensive international legal framework governing this area, with special regard to the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) of 2003, which confers clear obligations on States Parties; whereas Article 51 of the UNCAC declares that the return of assets ‘is a fundamental principle of this Convention, and States Parties shall afford one another the widest measure of cooperation and assistance in this regard’;

D.   whereas the judicial process for recovering assets is complex and lengthy; whereas the applicable legal requirements of requested states cannot be circumvented and legitimate third parties cannot be deprived of their legal rights in this process; whereas the lack of adequate legal expertise and limited institutional capacity in requesting states are additional obstacles to successful initiatives in this field; whereas there is a lack of efficient cooperation between requesting and requested states;

E.   whereas following the Arab Spring revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia, the EU promptly froze the assets of former dictators, their families and several other persons associated with their regimes; whereas a similar EU decision was adopted, in accordance with UN Security Council resolution 1970 (2011), in the case of Libya;

F.   whereas the new legislative framework adopted by the Council on 26 November 2012 allows EU Members States to release frozen assets to the Egyptian and Tunisian authorities on the basis of judicial decisions recognised in EU Member States and facilitates the exchange of information between EU Member States and the relevant authorities;

G.   whereas the EU-Egypt and EU-Tunisia Task Forces have underlined the importance of the return of illicitly acquired assets which are still currently frozen in a number of third countries; whereas the Task Forces agreed to finalise a roadmap, which could include the establishment of an asset recovery group coordinated by the European External Action Service (EEAS) for each country;

H.   whereas the G8 is supporting countries in the Arab world engaged in transitions towards ‘free, democratic and tolerant societies’ through the Deauville Partnership of May 2011; whereas its Action Plan issued on 21 May 2012 recognises that, in the wake of the Arab Spring, asset recovery has become a more urgent area of focus in the region and in the international community;

I.   whereas Egypt, Libya and Tunisia have made considerable efforts to ensure that misappropriated assets stolen by former dictators and their regimes are repatriated to those countries, including setting up dedicated national investigative commissions tasked with tracing, identifying and recovering such assets, and initiating legal cases in the courts of EU Member States; whereas several key international actors – including the EU, G8 members, and Switzerland – responded positively to these efforts; whereas, however, few concrete results have been achieved in this context so far; whereas this has caused growing frustration among the governments and civil societies of the requesting countries;

J.   whereas communication is key in asset recovery efforts in order to disseminate best practice and create incentives by publicising success stories; whereas this would avoid misleading statements about the quantity of assets to be recovered;

K.   whereas asset recovery can be achieved by bilateral judicial mechanisms and multilateral cooperation; whereas asset recovery operations should be launched at both national and international levels;

L.   whereas in April 2013 the Lebanese authorities returned to their Tunisian counterparts close to USD 30 million illicitly deposited in the former Tunisian ruler’s bank accounts;

1.   Stresses that the return of misappropriated assets stolen by former dictators and their regimes to Arab Spring countries in transition is, beyond its economic significance, a moral and legal imperative and a highly political issue owing to its implications in terms of justice and accountability being restored in the spirit of democracy and the rule of law, as well as of the EU’s political commitment and credibility, and therefore constitute a key dimension of the Union’s partnership with its southern neighbourhood, with special regard to Egypt, Libya and Tunisia;

2.   Acknowledges that for the Arab Spring countries the recovery of stolen assets is also of economic and social importance, as funds are needed to help stabilise economies and create jobs and growth across those countries, which face serious economic challenges;

3.   Notes that, despite the considerable efforts made by the Egyptian, Libyan and Tunisian authorities and the strong political will on all sides, practitioners engaged in the recovery of misappropriated assets have experienced very limited success, owing mainly to the diversity and complexity of the relevant provisions and procedures in the various national legal systems, legal rigidity, the lack of expertise on the part of the Arab Spring countries concerned regarding legal, financial and administrative procedures in European and other jurisdictions and the lack of resources available to them;

4.   Urges the EU and its Member States to make further significant efforts aimed at facilitating the return of misappropriated assets stolen by the former regimes to the people of Arab Spring countries within a reasonable timeframe; encourages national asset recovery offices in all the Member States to work closely together and to develop their relations with the relevant authorities of Arab Spring countries with a view to assisting them with the complex legal procedures involved; calls on the European External Action Service to take a proactive leadership role, notably in coordinating Member States’ efforts, providing capacity-building, and encouraging cooperation among all the states concerned;

5.   Stresses that asset recovery is an essential part of the Union’s support for democratic transition and economic recovery in those countries and can strengthen mutual confidence on both sides in the spirit of partnership with societies, which is a cornerstone of the revised European Neighbourhood Policy;

6.   Welcomes, in this connection, the initiative of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the UK, Japan, Switzerland and the United States to issue a guide containing a comprehensive description of their national legal systems in relation to asset recovery, so as to give the requesting countries a better understanding of what is legally possible, the kind of information available, the types of investigation that can be conducted, and how to proceed in order to obtain effective asset recovery through the provision of mutual legal assistance; encourages all the Member States to do likewise and to establish a common EU set of principles;

7.   Welcomes the G8 initiative of the Deauville Partnership’s Action Plan on Asset Recovery, which identifies concrete measures to promote cooperation, case assistance, capacity-building efforts and technical assistance, and suggests a collaborative regional initiative, the Arab Asset Recovery Forum, for discussion and cooperation on continued efforts;

8.   Welcomes the new legislative framework adopted by the Council on 26 November 2012, which facilitates the return of misappropriated funds to Egypt and Tunisia by authorising Member States to release frozen assets on the basis of recognised judicial decisions and by encouraging the exchange of information between the relevant authorities of Member States, on the one hand, and of Egypt and Tunisia, on the other; stresses, however, the need to achieve concrete results and to fully include Libya in this process;

9.   Welcomes the close cooperation between EU institutions and other key international actors in asset recovery by Egypt, Libya and Tunisia, with special regard to the Stolen Asset Recovery Initiative (StAR) of the World Bank and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime; stresses the importance of making full use of existing mechanisms, at both national and international level, in parallel with adopting the necessary new legislation and adjusting existing legislation within national legal systems in this area;

10.   Calls on the Parliamentary Assembly of the Union for the Mediterranean to raise the issue of asset recovery with national parliaments, so that parliamentarians from both shores can be persuaded to actively promote legal measures to ensure closer cooperation between the police and judicial authorities involved;

11.   Calls for the establishment without delay of an EU mechanism composed of a team of national and international investigators, prosecutors, lawyers and other experts, with the aim of providing legal and technical advice and assistance to Arab Spring countries in the process of asset recovery; requests that this mechanism be duly financed by the relevant financial instrument within the field of the Union’s external relations; underlines, in the context of complex, sensitive and lengthy judicial procedures, the importance of this EU mechanism being sustainable; calls on the EU institutions to draw lessons from, and build on, this experience; notes also the possibility of additional funding for this mechanism, at a later stage, through co-financing agreements with requesting states;

12.   Urges the Arab League to define, adopt and quickly implement mechanisms of cooperation on asset recovery, and calls on the Gulf countries in particular to enhance their cooperation and to offer their legal assistance to Arab Spring countries in addressing the process of asset recovery;

13.   Acknowledges and fully supports the contribution of civil society organisations, in both requesting and requested countries, to the process of asset recovery, in particular by providing information to the relevant authorities, encouraging cooperation among key national and international actors, monitoring the return of assets and ensuring that returned assets are used in a transparent and effective way in the requesting states;

14.   Reaffirms its commitment to supporting democratic transition in the Arab Spring countries and pledges to support and assist Arab Spring countries in creating strong and stable democracies in which the rule of law is upheld, human rights and fundamental freedoms, including women’s rights and freedom of expression, are respected, and elections are conducted in line with international standards; stresses that it is of the utmost importance for the EU to show its concrete and genuine commitment to this process;

15.   Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy / Vice-President of the Commission, the parliaments and governments of the Member States, the Parliament and Government of Switzerland, the Congress and President of the United States, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Union for the Mediterranean and the parliaments and governments of Egypt, Libya and Tunisia.

(1) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0095 .
(2) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2012)0201 .


2012 progress report on Bosnia and Herzegovina
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European Parliament resolution of 23 May 2013 on the 2012 Progress Report on Bosnia and Herzegovina (2012/2865(RSP) )
P7_TA(2013)0225

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2012 progress report on the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
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European Parliament resolution of 23 May 2013 on the 2012 Progress Report on the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (2013/2866(RSP) )
P7_TA(2013)0226 B7-0186/2013

The European Parliament ,

–   having regard to the European Council decision of 16 December 2005 to grant the status of candidate country for EU membership and to the Presidency Conclusions issued following the European Council meetings of 15 and 16 June 2006 and 14 and 15 December 2006,

–   having regard to the European Council conclusions of 13 December 2012,

–   having regard to the Joint Statement by the Heads of Mission of the EU and the US of 11 January 2013,

–   having regard to the Commission’s 2012 Progress Report (SWD(2012)0332 ) and the Commission Communication of 10 October 2012 entitled ‘Enlargement Strategy and Main Challenges 2012-2013’ (COM(2012)0600 ),

–   having regard to UN Security Council resolutions 845 (1993) and 817 (1993), as well as to UN General Assembly resolution 47/225 (1993) and to the 1995 Interim Accord,

–   having regard to the judgment of the International Court of Justice on the Application of the Interim Accord of 13 September 1995,

–   having regard to Recommendation 329 (2012) of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe on local democracy in the country,

–   having regard to its previous resolutions, including its resolution of 22 November 2012 on Enlargement: policies, criteria and the EU’s strategic interests(1) ,

–   having regard to the 10th meeting of the Joint Parliamentary Committee of 7 June 2012,

–   having regard to Rule 110(2) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.   whereas all candidate and potential candidate countries should be treated according to their own merits in the integration process;

B.   whereas the High Level Accession Dialogue (HLAD) has brought new dynamism to reform processes in the country;

C.   whereas EU accession is fundamental to the long-term stability of the country and good inter-ethnic relations;

D.   whereas the European Council decided for the fourth consecutive year not to open the accession negotiations with the country in spite of the positive recommendation of the Commission in this respect; whereas this further postponement is adding to the growing frustration of the country’s public opinion about the stalemate of the EU integration process and risks exacerbating domestic problems and internal tension; whereas bilateral issues should not represent an obstacle to the official opening of accession negotiations, although they should be solved before the end of the accession process;

E.   whereas the country is prepared to launch accession negotiations with the EU;

F.   whereas regional cooperation and good neighbourly relations remain essential parts of the enlargement process;

G.   whereas bilateral issues should be addressed in a constructive spirit, taking into account overall EU interests and values;

General considerations

1.   Reiterates its call to the Council to set a date for the start of accession negotiations without further delay;

2.   Regrets that, for the fourth consecutive year, the Council decided not to follow the recommendation of the Commission during its last meeting on 11 December 2012 and has not yet opened accession negotiations; nevertheless believes that the European Council conclusions, unanimously endorsed for a time-bound decision based on a further report by the Commission, represent a genuine step forward, recognising the importance of sufficient progress on key areas as drafted in the European Council’s December 2012 conclusions; congratulates the Enlargement Commissioner on his initiatives and calls on him to include an assessment of the cost of non-enlargement, including the major risks for the country in case of prolongation of the status quo, in his forthcoming report; welcomes the Spring report of 16 April 2013 from the European Commission and calls on the Irish Presidency to conduct intense diplomacy to achieve a satisfactory outcome aimed at a Council decision to open the negotiations before the end of June 2013;

3.   Underlines the fact that good neighbourly relations are an essential pillar of the EU accession process; welcomes the country’s overall constructive role as regards relations with other enlargement countries; encourages the continuing diplomatic exchanges which have taken place between Athens, Sofia and Skopje and stresses the importance of all sides demonstrating proper commitment to ‘good neighbourly relations’ based especially on friendship, mutual respect, constructive dialogue and a genuine desire to resolve misunderstandings and overcome hostilities; calls for the avoidance of gestures, statements and actions which could negatively impact on good neighbourly relations; welcomes in this respect the first meeting held recently between the representatives of the governments in Skopje and Sofia aimed at the possibility of signing an agreement between the two countries; urges the Enlargement Commissioner to pay special attention in his report to the issue of good neighbourly relations; also calls for greater socio-cultural collaboration in view of strengthening the ties between the peoples of the region;

4.   Reiterates its position that bilateral issues should be addressed as early as possible in the accession process in a constructive and neighbourly spirit and preferably before the opening of accession negotiations; reiterates its view that bilateral issues should not be resorted to in order to hinder the EU accession process;

5.   Insists that all candidate and potential candidate countries should be treated on their own merits in the integration process;

6.   Strongly believes that the start of negotiations can itself be a ‘game-changer’, providing a positive impulse and an effective instrument to further reforms, improve the domestic situation, facilitate inter-ethnic dialogue and promote favourable relations with neighbours;

7.   Considers the High Level Accession Dialogue (HLAD) to have been an important instrument in breaking the existing log jam and instilling renewed dynamism into the EU accession process; welcomes the progress made in over 75 % of the policy areas identified; reiterates the importance of full and irreversible implementation; stresses that HLAD is not a substitute for accession negotiations; calls on the Council to ask the Commission to start the screening process as soon as possible in order to allow further progress;

8.   Welcomes and fully supports the recent agreement leading to the unblocking of the deadlock in the domestic political developments in the country and considers that the present accord will allow further progress towards EU accession in advance of the European Council discussions; calls on all parties to continue with political dialogue and stresses the need for broad cross-party support and engagement in the EU agenda; underlines the fact that the national parliament is a key democratic institution for the discussion and resolution of political differences and asks all the political forces in the country to act in this spirit, respecting its procedures and the democratic values on which it was founded; supports initiatives leading to an improvement of the functioning of the parliament, including the proposal for a Commission of Inquiry in order to establish accountability for the events of 24 December 2012, make further recommendations for a comprehensive reform of the parliament’s procedures on a genuine cross-party basis, improve the authority, independence and legitimacy of the parliament and prevent any repeat of such incidents; calls on the authorities to set up the Commission of Inquiry immediately so that it can commence its important work with a view to the restoration of a normal political process in the country; regrets that the journalists were also expelled from the parliament and calls for a resumption of the dialogue between the government and the Association of Journalists under conditions in which journalists themselves can have trust and confidence;

9.   Expresses deep concern at the tensions in inter-ethnic relations which have arisen during the year; believes that strengthened political dialogue is essential in continuing progress towards a peaceful multi-ethnic, multi-cultural and multi-religious society and eliminating the risk of the polarisation of society along ethnic lines; firmly condemns all incidents and signs of intolerance based on ethnic grounds;

10.   Welcomes the government’s report on the implementation of the Ohrid Framework Agreement (OFA) and expects the report to be presented publicly in order to generate broad social and political support for the multi-ethnic future of the country; encourages the government to move swiftly to the next stage of the review;

11.   Welcomes the 2011-14 Decentralisation Programme and calls for full implementation of the Law on Regional Development; encourages the government to continue fiscal decentralisation, with a medium-term aim of 9 % of GDP to be spent by local and regional authorities; commends the work of the UNDP and the wider donor community working in partnership with the government to build the capacity of local government to ensure good governance and equal access for all citizens;

12.   Welcomes the efforts by the authorities to break with the Communist past, the public disclosure of the names of agents affiliated with the former Yugoslav secret services, and the extension of the time frame of applicability of the Lustration Law until the adoption of the Law on Free Access to Public Information; at the same time, encourages the authorities to retrieve the Yugoslav secret service archives from Serbia and to include in the lustration process the personnel of the intelligence and counter-intelligence services; encourages strengthening the mandate of the Data Verification Commission by transferring all necessary documents from the intelligence and counter-intelligence services to the Commission’s premises on a permanent basis; stresses the need for a reform of the security sector and strengthening the parliamentary oversight of the intelligence and counter-intelligence services;

13.   Believes that the best way of achieving a multi-ethnic society is through a strengthened political dialogue, an example-based leadership which shows acceptance and tolerance towards other ethnicities, and an educational system that teaches the values of a multi-ethnic society; therefore, welcomes the government’s multi-ethnic education project and calls on all schools to follow the lead of pioneers such as those in Kumanovo who are seeking to end the separate education of different ethnic communities;

14.   Strongly encourages the authorities and civil society to take appropriate measures for historical reconciliation in order to overcome the divide between and within different ethnic and national groups, including citizens of Bulgarian identity; restates its call for positive progress to be made in joint celebrations of common events and figures with neighbouring EU Member States; encourages the attempts to establish joint expert committees on history and education, with the aim of contributing to an objective, fact-based interpretation of history, strengthening academic cooperation and promoting positive attitudes of young people towards their neighbours; urges the authorities to introduce educational materials free of ideological interpretations of history and aimed at improving mutual understanding; notes with concern the phenomenon of ‘antiquisation’; is convinced that culture and art should be used to bring people closer together rather than divide them; urges the government to send clear signals to the public and media that discrimination on the basis of national identity is not tolerated in the country, including in relation to the justice system, media, employment and social opportunities; underlines the importance of these actions for the integration of the various ethnic communities and the stability and European integration of the country;

15.   Welcomes progress in strengthening the normative framework in the field of justice for children, including amendments to the juvenile justice law, the establishment of a monitoring system and the development of a national strategy on the prevention of juvenile delinquency; notes with concern the remaining gaps in the protection of child victims of crimes, in particular victims of abuse, due to insufficient resources, the limited capacity of professional staff and the absence of an effective response system for child victims; calls for improved financial and human resources for centres for social work and the creation of multi-disciplinary teams able to provide recovery, rehabilitation and reintegration services for child victims;

Good neighbourly relations and the name issue

16.   Continues to regret that the inability to solve the name dispute has blocked the country’s road to EU membership; agrees with the European Council that the name issue needs to be brought to a definitive conclusion with no delay on either side and that the Hague Decision, which is part of international law, needs to come into force; strongly supports the efforts of the UN special envoy to reach a commonly acceptable solution; welcomes the proposal made by the Enlargement Commissioner regarding a trilateral meeting between Skopje, Athens and Brussels; takes the view that this initiative could help boost the UN-led negotiations; welcomes the momentum generated for a Memorandum of Understanding and the recent contacts with the UN mediator; calls on all parties to seize every opportunity in order to make this action successful, to enter into constructive dialogue towards finding a solution and to unblock the situation; takes the view that the country’s leadership and the European Union should explain to the public the benefits of a solution if one is agreed ahead of the referendum on the issue;

17.   Reiterates its call to the Commission and the Council to start developing, in accordance with the EU Treaties, a generally applicable arbitration mechanism aimed at solving bilateral issues between enlargement countries and Member States;

18.   Welcomes the use of the term ‘Macedonian’ in the 2012 Progress Report, whilst respecting the different languages, identities and cultures within the country and the neighbouring EU Member States;

Political criteria

19.   Shares the Commission’s assessment that the country continues to fulfil the political criteria;

20.   Calls for reinforcement of Parliament’s oversight role vis-à-vis the government and improving the Electoral Code and increasing the transparency of political party financing; stresses, in this respect, that the OSCE/ODIHR recommendations issued after the 2011 parliamentary elections have been only partly implemented and calls, in this regard, on the government to amend the laws to fully implement the recommendations, including as regards the revision and update of the electoral roll;

21.   Welcomes the continued efforts in advancing the legislative framework for civil and public service and general administrative procedures, notably with regard to the Law on Administrative Servants and the Law on General Administrative Procedures; calls for additional efforts to guarantee the transparency, impartiality and professionalism of public administration, to ensure merit-based recruitment and to strengthen financial control, strategic planning and human resources management;

22.   Calls for further efforts to guarantee the independence and impartiality of the judiciary ; considers it important to define clear requirements for the dismissal of judges in order to eliminate risks to judicial independence; welcomes the progress in reducing the overall backlog of court cases but urges measures to address backlogs at the Supreme Court and the Administrative Court; urges the gradual rationalisation of the court network and continued support to the Academy for Judges and Prosecutors, in light of its key role in ensuring continuing training, career development and merit-based recruitment;

23.   Welcomes the efforts to increase the efficiency and transparency of the court system and in particular the publication of judgments by courts at all levels on their respective websites; stresses the need to build up an enforcement record of cases of prosecutions and convictions against which progress can be measured; calls for the unification of jurisprudence in order to ensure a predictable judicial system and public trust;

24.   Supports the EULEX Special Investigative Task Force (SITF) and encourages the country to cooperate fully with the SITF and assist it in its work;

25.   Welcomes the strengthening of the anti-corruption legal framework, including changes to the Law on Conflicts of Interest, but is concerned that corruption remains widespread both inside the country and in the region as a whole; calls for greater efforts regarding the implementation of laws currently in force and urges continued efforts to establish a track record for convictions in high-level cases; welcomes the OSCE-backed programme against corruption, the PrijaviKorupcija.org project allowing corruption to be reported by SMS message and the declaration by ten mayors of zero tolerance of corruption in their municipalities;

26.   Notes that, while sentences for corruption-related offences are stricter, orders for the seizure and confiscation of assets remain exceptional; is of the opinion that the seizure and confiscation of assets is a crucial instrument in the fight against corruption and organised crime; calls on the country’s authorities to fully enforce its Criminal Code provisions on extended confiscation, illicit enrichment and the criminal liability of legal persons;

27.   Commends the amendments made to the Law on the Financing of Political Parties; notes in particular the leading role vested in the State Audit Office (SAO) in the supervision of political financing; calls on the country’s authorities to provide the SAO with sufficient means to allow for a proactive and thorough control over party and campaign funding as well as to improve significantly the transparency of public expenditure and of the funding of political parties;

28.   Notes that the activities to establish the National Intelligence Database are ongoing; encourages the authorities to complete the tender procedure and decide who will establish the National Intelligence Database as soon as possible in order to provide full support to the fight against organised crime, corruption, fraud, money laundering and other serious offences, including cross-border ones;

29.   Welcomes the legal decriminalisation of defamation and the deepening dialogue between the government and journalists on issues relating to freedom of expression; calls on the authorities to continue to strengthen and promote freedom of information and pluralism of the media, which must be free of any form of political or financial influence and must be consistently applied; however, expresses concern that the country has fallen significantly in the ‘Reporters Without Borders’ Freedom Index and calls for further efforts towards strengthening professional standards in journalism, investigative journalism, promoting media pluralism, the independence of the public service broadcaster, the enforcement of employment rights of media workers, transparency of media ownership, sustainability and compliance with European standards; notes with concern the widespread self-censorship among journalists and the absence of any self-regulating media organisation; expresses concern that most government-funded advertising is channelled towards the pro-government media; supports social media activists who lobbied against censorship of the internet;

30.   Is concerned about the lack of analytical and objective media reporting in the run-up to the local elections in March 2013, in particular as regards the activities of the opposition, reporting on which was virtually absent in both state and private media during the campaign; emphasises that vigilant and professional media is a sine qua non for the further development of democratic culture and institutions in the country and for the fulfilment of the political criteria;

31.   Notes the El-Masri judgment of the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights of 13 December 2012 which found multiple violations of the European Convention in the abduction, extraordinary rendition and torture of German citizen Khaled El-Masri on 31 December 2003 and his detention for 23 days in a hotel in Skopje before being transferred via Skopje Airport to Afghanistan; calls on the government to comply without delay with all aspects of the ECHR judgment, including the provision of a formal apology to Mr El-Masri, the payment of the compensation ordered by the court, and committing to the creation of an international commission of inquiry;

32.   Welcomes the new Law on Equal Opportunities, the first five-year strategy on gender-based budgeting developed in partnership with UN Women, the funding allocated to the action plan on Roma inclusion and the project to help Roma legalise their homes; welcomes the opening of the new support office for the LGBT community but expresses concern at the act of vandalism committed against it; encourages the government to continue its efforts to strengthen anti-discrimination policies, especially those related to discrimination based on ethnicity as well as on national identity;

33.   Calls on ministers and officials to publically condemn discrimination against LGBT people, to ensure that the planned Gay Pride or other activities of the LGBT community can be conducted safely and successfully and to commit to non-discrimination on all grounds named in the EU Treaty; calls on the media to refrain from anti-LGBT rhetoric, including hate speech and incitement to hatred;

34.   Is concerned about cases of ill-treatment by the police; calls for continued training, professionalisation and depoliticisation of police personnel; believes that an independent oversight mechanism for law-enforcement agencies is needed to combat impunity and ensure democratic and accountable police services;

35.   Stresses that the visa-free regime granted to citizens of the country and to all the Western Balkan countries is a highly important benefit in the process of integration into the EU and a very strong incentive for accelerating reforms in the area of justice and home affairs;

36.   Calls on the authorities to take measures and cooperate with EU Member States to prevent undue asylum claims from the country’s citizens in the EU, while guaranteeing the right to visa-free travel for all citizens and preventing any discrimination or stigmatisation of Roma people and persons from ethnic-minority groups; calls on the governments of the Member States not to challenge or hamper the visa-free travel of its citizens but to urge the authorities to implement policies that will offer all citizens a decent future within their country;

37.   Whilst welcoming the high number of women parliamentarians compared to some Member States, remains concerned about the low participation of women in the labour market; calls on the authorities to strengthen childcare services for children with disabilities, street children, children using drugs and children who are victims of domestic violence, sexual abuse or trafficking;

38.   Welcomes the continuing progress made by the Commission for Protection against Discrimination; calls for it to be fully staffed and believes its acceptance by the European Network of Equality Bodies provides an example to other agencies and organisations to promote EU accession by themselves integrating in relevant European networks;

Civil Society

39.   Believes that developing a political culture benefiting from an independent, pluralistic, inter-ethnic, inter-cultural and non-partisan civil society is essential to furthering democratic progress in the country and that the findings of civil society can enrich the possibilities for evidence-based policy making; stresses that civil society organisations (CSOs) need to be strengthened, become independent of political interests and intensify joint projects for mutual benefit with CSOs from neighbouring countries and more generally from across the EU;

40.   Welcomes the consultation which took place with CSOs in relation to changes to the laws on legal aid and on foundations; calls for full and timely consultation with civil society on all relevant policy initiatives, including the High Level Accession Dialogue, and the inclusion of transparently-selected civil society observer members in all relevant government working groups;

41.   Stresses the crucial role CSOs can play in making the EU integration process more transparent, accountable and inclusive;

42.   Believes the parliamentary study on the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA) shows a need for the government to commit to the objective of partnership with civil society and to establish a national fund to provide co-financing to enable CSOs to fully participate in EU-funded programmes; calls for CSOs to be fully involved in programming decisions of the next IPA;

Economic issues

43.   Commends the country for maintaining macroeconomic stability; notes, however, that public sector debt has increased, the quality of fiscal governance has deteriorated and the global economic downturn has had a negative effect on foreign direct investment to the country;

44.   Welcomes the legislative measures for strengthening the business environment and the continuous action aimed at developing sound medium-term macro-fiscal strategies; encourages the political forces to enter into a transparent political dialogue on the fiscal situation and the country’s credit obligations;

45.   Notes with concern that unemployment continues to be very high, with youth unemployment one of the highest worldwide, and that female employment remains very low; welcomes the action plan on youth employment developed in conjunction with the ILO Decent Work programme; calls on the government to improve coordination between bodies enforcing labour rules and build on the joint training organised by the European TUC to strengthen the capacities of social partners to engage in effective social dialogue; is of the view that further investment in the strengthening of research, technological development and innovation capacity is needed in order to facilitate the building of a knowledge-based economy;

46.   Welcomes the progress made in modernising transport, energy and telecommunications networks and, in particular, the efforts to complete Corridor X(2) ; in view of the importance of the railway links in the framework of a sustainable system of transport, welcomes the government’s intention to upgrade or construct railway links from Skopje to the capitals of the neighbouring countries and calls for greater progress, including finalisation of the financing of the railway connections within Corridor VIII(3) ;

47.   Underlines the importance of creating a consulting mechanism between the government and private companies when decisions regarding the fight against the economic crisis are being taken; also states that such a mechanism could be a solution towards adjusting the educational system to market needs, which could reduce unemployment among young people;

48.   Takes note of the government’s efforts to rebuild the local road infrastructure in the country, aimed at improving alternative tourism and the life of the citizens; in that regard, encourages the country to take a more dynamic approach in regional development projects under the IPA that will increase cross-border cooperation and the links among the countries in the region;

49.   Points out that significant efforts are needed in the field of the environment and in particular in the areas of water quality, nature protection and industrial pollution control and risk management; underlines the fact that no substantial progress can be achieved without strengthening adequately the administrative capacity; calls on the country’s government to take the necessary measures in this respect;

50.   Restates the potential of renewable energy for the country and welcomes the fact that progress is being made, with 21 new concessions for small hydro-power plants already granted, a hydro-power plant already in operation and the construction of a wind park underway; calls on the government to raise the level of public debate on the impact of climate change and for more efforts to align national legislation with the EU acquis in this area, and to implement the national legislation, especially on water management, industrial pollution control, nature protection and climate change; stresses the need to strengthen administrative capacity at both central and local level;

51.   Encourages the authorities to increase their efforts to introduce e-government as part of the public administration reforms aimed at delivering efficient, accessible and transparent services to citizens and businesses;

Regional and international cooperation

52.   Welcomes the fact that the country is currently chairing and contributing to the South-East European Cooperation Process, with the hope that this will reinforce a strong European agenda, good-neighbourliness and inclusiveness; underlines the importance of regional cooperation in line with the European agenda and European values and calls for further progress in this regard; reaffirms that it is important for the EU to pursue the accession of all countries in the region without exception;

53.   Believes that a change in mindset from ‘Western Balkans’ to ’South-East Europe’ could assist in this endeavour;

54.   Welcomes the country’s participation in the EUFOR Althea Mission and the agreement for the country to take part in CSDP crisis management operations; invites the country to align with the EU position on the International Criminal Court;

55.   Calls on the government and all competent organisations to endeavour to meet the necessary criteria and conditions for visa waiver arrangements in the Schengen Area; stresses the need to ensure that the public is fully informed regarding visa waiver restrictions and that no abuse of the visa waiver or visa liberalisation policy occurs; stresses that the suspension of visa waiver arrangements would not be without unfavourable economic and social consequences;

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56.   Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the governments and parliaments of the Member States and the government and parliament of the country.

(1) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2012)0453 .
(2) Corridor X is one of the ten pan-European transport corridors and runs from Salzburg (Austria) to Thessaloniki (Greece). Its Branch D follows the route Veles - Prilep - Bitola - Florina - Igoumenitsa (Via Egnatia).
(3) Corridor VIII is one of the ten pan-European transport corridors and runs from Durrës (Albania) to Varna (Bulgaria). It also passes through Skopje.


EU trade and investment agreement negotiations with the US
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European Parliament resolution of 23 May 2013 on EU trade and investment negotiations with the United States of America (2013/2558(RSP) )
P7_TA(2013)0227 B7-0187/2013

The European Parliament ,

–   having regard to the Joint Statement of the EU-US Summit issued on 28 November 2011 and the Joint Statement of the EU-US Transatlantic Economic Council (TEC) issued on 29 November 2011,

–   having regard to the Final Report of the High Level Working Group on Jobs and Growth (HLWG) of 11 February 2013(1) ,

–   having regard to the Joint Statement of 13 February 2013 by US President Barack Obama, European Commission President José Manuel Barroso and European Council President Herman Van Rompuy(2) ,

–   having regard to the conclusions of the European Council of 7-8 February 2013(3) ,

–   having regard to its earlier resolutions, in particular the resolution of 23 October 2012 on trade and economic relations with the United States(4) ,

–   having regard to the Joint Statement of the 73rd Interparliamentary Meeting of the Transatlantic Legislators’ Dialogue (TLD), held in Washington on 30 November and 1 December 2012,

–   having regard to the Final Project Report of March 2013 by the Centre for Economic Policy Research (London) entitled ‘Reducing Transatlantic Barriers to Trade and Investment: An Economic Assessment’(5) ,

–   having regard to Rule 110(2) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.   whereas the EU and the US are the world’s two major global traders and investors, accounting together for nearly half of world GDP and one-third of world trade;

B.   whereas the EU and US markets are deeply integrated, with on average close to EUR 2 billion in goods and services being traded bilaterally each day, thus supporting millions of jobs in both economies, and whereas EU and US investments are the real driver of the transatlantic relationship, with bilateral investments totalling over EUR 2,394 trillion in 2011;

C.   whereas, according to the Impact Assessment Report prepared by the Commission on the basis of a report by the Centre for Economic Policy Research, an ambitious and comprehensive transatlantic trade and investment partnership, once fully implemented, could bring significant economic gains as a whole for both the EU (EUR 119,2 billion a year) and the US (EUR 94,9 billion a year); whereas EU exports to the US could thus increase by 28 % and total EU exports by 6 %, hence benefiting EU exporters of goods and services as well as EU consumers;

D.   whereas the EU and US share common values, comparable legal systems and high, even if different, standards of labour, consumer and environmental protection;

E.   whereas the global economy faces challenges and the emergence of new actors, and both the EU and the US must exploit the full potential of closer economic cooperation in order to leverage the benefits of international trade in terms of overcoming the economic crisis and achieving a sustained global economic recovery;

F.   whereas, following the EU-US Summit held in November 2011, the HLWG was tasked to identify options for increasing trade and investment in order to support mutually beneficial job creation, economic growth and competitiveness;

G.   whereas the HLWG has jointly analysed a wide range of potential options for expanding transatlantic trade and investment, reaching the conclusion in its Final Report that a comprehensive trade and investment agreement would provide the most significant level of benefit for both economies;

H.   whereas the EU is convinced that developing and strengthening the multilateral system is the crucial objective; whereas, however, that does not preclude bilateral agreements going beyond WTO commitments and being complementary to multilateral rules, since both regional agreements and free trade agreements lead to increasing harmonisation of standards and broader liberalisation favourable to the multilateral trading system;

I.   whereas on 12 March 2013 the Commission proposed authorising the opening of negotiations and draft negotiating directives for the consideration of the Council;

The strategic, political and economic context

1.   Believes that the strategic importance of the EU-US economic relationship should be reaffirmed and deepened, and that the EU and the US should design common approaches to global trade, investment and trade-related issues such as standards, norms and regulations, in order to develop a broader transatlantic vision and a common set of strategic goals;

2.   Considers that it is crucial for the EU and the US to realise the untapped potential of a truly integrated transatlantic market, in order to maximise the creation of decent jobs and stimulate a smart, strong, sustainable and balanced growth potential; considers this to be particularly timely in the light of the ongoing economic crisis, the state of the financial markets and financing conditions, the high level of public debt, high unemployment rates and modest growth projections on both sides of the Atlantic, and of the benefits offered by a truly coordinated response to these shared problems;

3.   Believes that the EU should draw on its vast experience of negotiating deep and comprehensive bilateral trade agreements in order to achieve even more ambitious results with the US;

The HLWG Final Report

4.   Welcomes the release of the HLWG Final Report and fully endorses the recommendation to launch negotiations for a comprehensive trade and investment agreement;

5.   Welcomes the emphasis in the Final Report on: (i) ambitiously improving reciprocal market access for goods, services, investment and public procurement at all levels of government; (ii) reducing non-tariff barriers (NTBs) and enhancing the compatibility of regulatory regimes; and (iii) developing common rules to address shared global trade challenges and opportunities;

6.   Supports the view that, given already-existent low average tariffs, the key to unlocking the potential of the transatlantic relationship lies in the tackling of NTBs, which consist mainly of customs procedures, technical standards, and behind-the-border regulatory restrictions; supports the objective proposed by the HLWG of moving progressively towards an even more integrated transatlantic marketplace;

7.   Welcomes the recommendation to explore new means of reducing unnecessary costs and administrative delays stemming from regulation, while achieving the levels of health, safety and environmental protection that each side deems appropriate, or while otherwise meeting legitimate regulatory objectives;

Negotiating mandate

8.   Reiterates its support for a deep and comprehensive trade and investment agreement with the US that would support the creation of high-quality jobs for European workers, directly benefit European consumers, open up new opportunities for EU companies, in particular small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), to sell goods and provide services in the US, ensure full access to public procurement markets in the US, and improve opportunities for EU investments in the US;

9.   Calls on the Council to follow up on the recommendations contained in the HLWG Final Report and to authorise the Commission to start negotiations for a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) agreement with the US;

10.   Stresses that the TTIP should be ambitious and binding on all levels of government on both sides of the Atlantic, including all regulators and other competent authorities; stresses that the agreement should lead to lasting genuine market openness on a reciprocal basis and trade facilitation on the ground, and should pay particular attention to structural ways of achieving greater transatlantic regulatory convergence; considers that the agreement should not risk prejudicing the Union’s cultural and linguistic diversity, including in the audiovisual and cultural services sector;

11.   Considers it essential for the EU and its Member States to maintain the possibility of preserving and developing their cultural and audiovisual policies, and to do so in the context of their existing laws, standards and agreements; calls, therefore, for the exclusion of cultural and audiovisual services, including those provided online, to be clearly stated in the negotiating mandate;

12.   Stresses that intellectual property is one of the driving forces of innovation and creation and a pillar of the knowledge-based economy, and that the agreement should include strong protection of precisely and clearly defined areas of intellectual property rights (IPRs), including geographical indications, and should be consistent with existing international agreements; believes that other areas of divergence relating to IPRs should be resolved in line with international standards of protection;

13.   Considers that the agreement should guarantee full respect for EU fundamental rights standards; reiterates its support for a high level of protection of personal data, which should benefit consumers on both sides of the Atlantic; considers that the agreement should take account of the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) provisions on the protection of personal data;

14.   Recalls the importance of the transport sector for growth and jobs, and especially in aviation, where the EU and US markets account for 60 % of world air traffic; stresses that the negotiations should meaningfully address the current restrictions on maritime and air transport services owned by European businesses, including in relation to foreign ownership of airlines and reciprocity on cabotage, as well as maritime cargo screening;

15.   Highlights the value of risk-based assessment and information sharing between both parties regarding market surveillance and the identification of counterfeit products;

16.   Welcomes, in particular, the HLWG’s recommendation that the EU and the US address the environment and labour aspects of trade and sustainable development; considers that the experience of previous EU trade agreements and the long-lasting EU-US commitments should be taken into account in order to strengthen the development and enforcement of labour and environmental laws and policies and promote the core standards and benchmarks laid down by the International Labour Organisation (ILO), as well as decent jobs and sustainable development; encourages the harmonisation of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) standards; recognises that achieving common standards is likely to present both technical and political challenges, and emphasises that the common goal should be to ensure that there is no diminution of environmental ambitions;

17.   Emphasises the sensitivity of certain fields of negotiation, such as the agricultural sector, where perceptions of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs), cloning and consumer health tend to diverge between the US and the EU; sees an opportunity in enhanced cooperation in agriculture trade, and stresses the importance of an ambitious and balanced outcome in this field; stresses that the agreement must not undermine the fundamental values of either side, for example the precautionary principle in the EU; calls on the US to lift its import ban on EU beef products, as a trust-building measure;

18.   Stresses that financial services must be included in the TTIP negotiations, and calls in this context for particular attention to be paid to equivalence, mutual recognition, convergence and extraterritoriality, since these are central considerations for both sides; emphasises that convergence towards a common financial regulatory framework between the EU and US would be beneficial; highlights that whilst market access must be regarded as a positive step, prudential supervisory processes are vital for obtaining proper convergence; stresses that the negative impact of extraterritoriality should be minimised and should not be allowed to detract from a consistent approach to regulating financial services;

19.   Reaffirms its support for the dismantling of unnecessary regulatory barriers, and encourages the Commission and the US Administration to include in the agreement mechanisms (including early upstream regulatory cooperation) aimed at preventing future barriers; considers that better regulation and the reduction of regulatory and administrative burdens are issues which must be at the forefront when negotiating the TTIP, and that greater transatlantic regulatory convergence should lead to more streamlined regulation which is easy to understand and apply, in particular for SMEs;

20.   Reiterates its conviction that an EU-US comprehensive trade and investment agreement has the potential to lead to a win-win situation, beneficial for both economies, and that a deeper degree of integration would considerably multiply the gains for both economies; is convinced that aligning EU and US regulatory technical standards where possible, would ensure that the EU and the US will continue to set global standards, and would pave the way for international standards; takes the firm view that the benefits of this agreement in terms of international trade and standardisation must be carefully considered and formulated;

21.   Recalls the need for proactive outreach and continuous and transparent engagement by the Commission with a wide range of stakeholders, including business, environmental, agricultural, consumer, labour and other representatives, throughout the negotiation process, in order to ensure fact-based discussions, build trust in the negotiations, obtain proportionate input from various sides, and foster public support by taking stakeholders’ concerns into consideration; encourages all stakeholders to actively participate and to put forward initiatives and information relevant to the negotiations;

22.   Cautions that quality should prevail over time, and trusts that the negotiators will not rush into a deal that does not deliver tangible and substantive benefits to our businesses, workers and citizens;

The role of Parliament

23.   Looks forward to the launch of negotiations with the US, and to following them closely and contributing to their successful outcome; reminds the Commission of its obligation to keep Parliament immediately and fully informed at all stages of the negotiations (before and after the negotiating rounds); is committed to addressing the legislative and regulatory issues that may arise in the context of the negotiations and the future agreement; reiterates its basic responsibility to represent the citizens of the EU, and looks forward to facilitating inclusive and open discussions during the negotiating process; is committed to taking a proactive role in collaborating with its US counterparts when introducing new regulations;

24.   Is committed to working closely with the Council, the Commission, the US Congress, the US Administration and the stakeholders to achieve the full economic, social and environmental potential of the transatlantic economic relationship and strengthen EU and US leadership in the liberalisation and regulation of trade and foreign investment; is committed to encouraging a deeper bilateral EU-US cooperation in order to assert the leadership of both in international trade and investment;

25.   Recalls that Parliament will be asked to give its consent to the future TTIP agreement, as stipulated by the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, and that its positions should therefore be duly taken into account at all stages;

26.   Recalls that Parliament will endeavour to monitor the implementation of the future agreement;

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27.   Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, and the US Administration and Congress.

(1) http://trade.ec.europa.eu/doclib/docs/2013/february/tradoc_150519.pdf
(2) http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_MEMO-13-94_en.htm
(3) http://www.consilium.europa.eu/uedocs/cms_data/docs/pressdata/en/ec/135324.pdf
(4) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2012)0388 .
(5) http://trade.ec.europa.eu/doclib/docs/2013/march/tradoc_150737.pdf


Myanmar/Burma's access to generalised tariff preferences
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European Parliament resolution of 23 May 2013 on reinstatement of Myanmar/Burma’s access to generalised tariff preferences (2012/2929(RSP) )
P7_TA(2013)0228 B7-0198/2013

The European Parliament ,

–   having regard to its previous resolutions on Burma/Myanmar, in particular those of 20 April 2012(1) and 22 November 2012(2) , and to its resolution of 13 September 2012 on the persecution of Rohingya Muslims in Burma/Myanmar(3) ,

–   having regard to the EU Foreign Affairs Council conclusions of 23 April 2012 on Burma/Myanmar,

–   having regard to the joint statement of 15 June 2012 by High Representative Catherine Ashton and Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht, calling for the reinstatement of trade preferences for Burma/Myanmar, and to the statement of 6 February 2013 by the High Representative’s spokesperson, announcing the possible organisation of a Myanmar-EU task force in order to strengthen economic cooperation,

–   having regard to the Commission’s proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council repealing Council Regulation (EC) No 552/97 temporarily withdrawing access to generalised tariff preferences from Myanmar/Burma (COM(2012)0524 ),

–   having regard to Council Regulation (EC) No 732/2008 of 22 July 2008(4) , applying the current Generalised Scheme of Tariff Preferences (GSP),

–   having regard to the ‘Resolution concerning the measures on the subject of Myanmar adopted under article 33 of the ILO Constitution’, adopted by the International Labour Conference on 13 June 2012,

   having regard to the Joint Myanmar/ILO Strategy for the elimination of forced labour by 31 December 2015, as approved by the authorities of Myanmar/Burma on 5 July 2012,

–   having regard to the US Government document of 11 July 2012 entitled ‘Reporting Requirements on Responsible Investment in Burma’(5) ,

–   having regard to the report of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Burma/Myanmar of 6 March 2013,

–   having regard to the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, adopted in 1998, and to the ILO conventions establishing universal core labour standards with regard to: the abolition of forced labour (Nos 29 (1930) and 105 (1957)); freedom of association and the right to bargain collectively (Nos 87 (1948) and 98 (1949)); the abolition of child labour (Nos 138 (1973) and 182 (1999)); and non-discrimination in employment (Nos 100 (1951) and 111 (1958)),

–   having regard to the action plan to prevent the recruitment and use of children by the Myanmar armed forces, signed by the Government of Burma/Myanmar and the UN on 27 June 2012,

–   having regard to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and in particular Article 38 thereof,

–   having regard to the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights(6) and to the Foreign Affairs Council conclusions of 8 December 2009(7) ,

–   having regard to the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, updated in May 2011,

–   having regard to the Global Reporting Initiative and its Sustainability Reporting Guidelines(8) ,

–   having regard to the UN Principles for Responsible Investment (UNPRI),

–   having regard to the Commission communication entitled ‘’Responsible Businesses‘ package’ (COM(2011)0685 ),

–   having regard to the ongoing negotiations on the Commission proposal for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Directive 2004/109/EC (the ‘Transparency Directive’) (COM(2011)0683 ) and to the Commission proposal for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on the annual financial statements, consolidated financial statements and related reports of certain types of undertakings (COM(2011)0684 ), which amends Directive 2003/51/EC (the ’Accounting Directive’),

–   having regard to its resolution of 25 November 2010 on corporate social responsibility in international trade agreements(9) ,

–   having regard to its resolutions of 6 February 2013 on ‘Corporate Social Responsibility: promoting society’s interests and a route to sustainable and inclusive recovery’(10) and on ’corporate social responsibility: accountable, transparent and responsible business behaviour and sustainable growth’(11) ,

–   having regard to the First EP-Myanmar Interparliamentary Meeting held from 26 February to 2 March 2012, and the report thereof(12) ,

–   having regard to Rule 110(2) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.   whereas the human rights situation in Myanmar/Burma remains fragile despite the steps being taken by the government of President Thein Sein;

B.   whereas Myanmar/Burma is geographically situated in a region that is of great strategic and geopolitical interest to the EU, the United States, China, India and Australia, in particular;

C.   whereas these ongoing changes are creating important opportunities for developing a much improved relationship between the EU and Myanmar/Burma , assisting the reform process and contributing to economic, political and social development;

D.   whereas the Commission has proposed to reinstate access to generalised tariff preferences for Myanmar/Burma on account of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) judging that violations of the ILO Convention on Forced Labour are no longer considered serious and systematic;

E.   whereas, according to ILO estimates, there are still some 5 000 child soldiers in Myanmar/Burma ;

F.   whereas there is a need for caution, given that, according to the report of the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, serious human rights concerns remain, including arbitrary detention, forced displacement, land confiscations, the use of child soldiers, aggressive acts against ethnic minorities and a weak judiciary;

G.   whereas in the past many sectors of economic activity in Myanmar/Burma , such as mining, timber, oil, gas and dam construction, have been directly linked to serious human rights abuses and environmental destruction, while at the same time being the military government’s main source of revenue;

H.   whereas companies operating in fragile states and weak governance zones, such as Myanmar/Burma, face an increased risk of causing or contributing to human rights violations; whereas special measures are consequently necessary in order to avoid this risk, as recognised in the US Government reporting requirements for responsible investment in Myanmar/Burma ;

I.   whereas European companies and their subsidiaries and subcontractors can play a key role in the promotion and dissemination of social and labour standards worldwide;

J.  whereas any enterprise operating in Myanmar/Burma should be required to meet its obligation to uphold international human rights standards and therefore to:

   (a) comply with its national and international legal obligations in the areas of human rights, social and labour standards and environmental rules,
   (b) show a genuine commitment to the rights, protection and well-being of its workforce and of citizens generally,
   (c) uphold freedom of association and collective bargaining rights,
   (d) refrain from land grabbing and forced displacement of local populations,
   (e) deal with any infringements swiftly and effectively;

1.   Recognises the significant steps taken by President Thein Sein and other reformers in Myanmar/Burma in introducing democratic reforms over the past year which have led the Commission to propose the reinstatement of Myanmar/Burma's access to the Generalised Scheme of Tariff Preferences (GSP); encourages them to continue this process as a matter of urgency so that full democratisation, consolidation of the rule of law and respect for all human rights and fundamental freedoms are made both permanent and irreversible;

2.   Calls for continuing peace talks with ethnic groups, in particular the Kachin, and urges the authorities of Myanmar/Burma to set out an action plan to end the repression against the Rohingyas and other repressed minorities, including granting citizenship rights, addressing deep-rooted prejudices and discriminatory attitudes based on ethnicity and religion, and developing a policy of integration and long-term reconciliation for displaced communities;

3.   Calls on the Government of Myanmar/Burma to adhere to the principles of good governance and to release all remaining political prisoners without delay or conditions; calls further on the Government of Myanmar/Burma to ensure respect for freedom of opinion, expression, assembly and association, and to continue its close cooperation with organisations such as the ILO in order to eradicate forced labour and make sure that the implementation of laws on labour organisations and peaceful demonstrations and gatherings is consistent with international human rights standards;

4.   Urges the Government of Myanmar/Burma to ratify the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and the Optional Protocol thereto, allow the International Committee of the Red Cross and national monitoring groups full access to prisons and take immediate and effective measures to prevent torture and ill-treatment;

5.   Urges the Government of Myanmar/Burma to accelerate efforts to review and reform legislation and legal provisions that contravene international human rights standards, with clear target dates for the conclusion of each review; notes that these reforms must include unfettered participation of civil society groups and assistance of international human rights bodies, such as the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR); calls on the government to ensure effective implementation of new and revised laws, including by training and building the capacity of implementing institutions, members of the legal profession, law enforcement officers and the judiciary;

6.   Regrets that, despite several promises by President Thein Sein, the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights has not yet been able to establish a permanent presence in the country;

7.   Underlines the importance of addressing in an independent manner all allegations of human rights violations in conflict-affected areas and granting the United Nations and other aid and humanitarian workers access to all those in need of humanitarian assistance, in both government-controlled and non-government controlled areas;

8.   Calls on the Government of Myanmar/Burma to fully implement its Joint Action Plan with the ILO on the eradication of forced labour by 31 December 2015 and to continue its close cooperation with organisations such as the ILO in order to eradicate this practice and make sure that the implementation of laws on labour organisations and peaceful demonstrations and gatherings is consistent with international human rights standards;

9.   Notes the implementation of the foreign investment law of November 2012, which is overseeing unprecedented liberalisation of the economy; stresses the importance of ratifying the ILO Memorandum of Understanding, signed by the Burmese Ministry of Labour, with a view to ending forced labour by 2015, and of implementing the plan to adopt anti-corruption and taxation legislation;

10.   Recognises that, owing to the long period of military rule, which has permeated and structured all layers of Burmese society, and despite the important initiatives aimed at democratisation, changes are slow and require international aid and support;

11.   Expresses its deep concern about reports that the forced recruitment of children into the ranks of the Tatmadaw Kyi (Myanmar army) and the Border Guard Forces has not ceased and therefore calls on the Government of Myanmar/Burma swiftly to implement all aspects of the action plan on child soldiers, which it signed with the UN, and for the protection of children to become a high priority of the reform agenda;

12.   Calls on the Government of Myanmar/Burma to ensure that farmers and communities are protected from land confiscation and forced evictions, in line with international standards; notes concerns about the Constitution, the Farmland Law and the Vacant, Fallow and Virgin Land Management Law, which allows the government to confiscate land for any project that it claims to be of ‘national interest’ and permits it to use all ’vacant’ lands, some of which are occupied and provide a livelihood for communities; further notes that well-connected business people are pursuing legal action to register such land in their own names;

13.   Underlines the importance of the Commission’s short-term trade-related assistance programme to start in 2013; invites the Government of Myanmar/Burma to strengthen its trade institutions and policies in view of their positive effects on the country’s economy, and to take all necessary steps to maximise the benefit derived from EU trade-related assistance and the reinstatement of Everything But Arms preferences;

14.   Calls for an increase in the level of EU bilateral development aid to Myanmar/Burma under the 2014-2020 multiannual financial framework and for the Government of Myanmar/Burma to promote and support action in the main areas covered by the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR): consolidation of democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms; notes, in this connection, the work of the EU-funded Myanmar Peace Centre; expects the Government of Myanmar/Burma to accept and facilitate the opening of a UN regional Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights with a full mandate, as the country needs not only technical assistance but also a mechanism for close monitoring of human rights;

15.   Takes note of the decision of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to accept Burma/Myanmar’s bid to chair the organisation in 2014 as a sign of renewed confidence in the country;

16.   Stresses the need for the Government of Myanmar/Burma to strengthen its trade institutions and policies, to compose a plan for strengthening anti-corruption and taxation laws, and to establish a framework for companies in line with international standards of corporate social and environmental responsibility;

17.   Welcomes the Myanmar/Burma Government’s commitment to join the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), which will require it to disclose the revenues it receives from extractive industries and economic activities; invites, furthermore, the Myanmar/Burma Government to move as quickly as possible towards full EITI compliance by meeting the relevant requirements, while fully involving civil society in that process;

18.   Acknowledges that responsible and sustainable trade and investment – including with and from the Union – can support Myanmar/Burma ’s efforts to fight poverty and to ensure that measures benefit broader sections of the population; notes, however, that this has to be done by promoting implementation of the highest standards of integrity and corporate social responsibility, as laid out in the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and the EU’s own ‘strategy 2011-14 for Corporate Social Responsibility’ (COM(2011)0681 );

19.   Considers that disclosure to investors and consumers is a key driver of corporate social responsibility (CSR) and must be based on readily applicable and measurable social and environmental principles; emphasises that it is also important in order to protect the long-term value of European investments; calls for such disclosure to be firmly based on support for the UN Principles for Responsible Investment and the principle of integrated reporting (IR);

20.   Notes the positive steps taken in the current reforms of the Transparency Directive and the Accounting Directive, respectively, in addressing the issue of CSR while balancing the legitimate quest for transparency and responsibility with the burden of reporting by companies; strongly supports the legislative proposal for country-by-country reporting based on the EITI standards and for reporting on sales and profits, as well as taxes and revenues, in order to discourage corruption and prevent tax avoidance; stresses that such country-by-country-reporting should cover those sectors which, in Myanmar/Burma, have been directly linked to serious and systematic human rights abuses and environmental destruction, such as mining, timber, oil and gas;

21.   Calls on large European companies doing business with Myanmar/Burma to report on their due diligence policies and procedures relating to human rights, workers’ rights and the environment, along with the application of those policies and procedures;

22.   Asks the Commission to monitor the commitments made by EU enterprises in light of internationally recognised CSR principles and guidelines, in line with its communication on the EU’s CSR strategy, as well as any voluntary requirements which may be adopted unilaterally by EU enterprises, and to define human rights guidance for the oil and gas sectors;

23.   Calls on the Commission to continue to monitor developments in Myanmar/Burma with respect to forced labour and any other serious and systematic violations of human rights, and to respond to such developments in accordance with the procedures and mechanisms in place, including, if necessary, through renewed proposals for the withdrawal of trade preferences;

24.   Expects the EEAS to consult Parliament and keep it informed about the process of establishing a human rights dialogue with Myanmar/Burma;

25.   Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the parliaments and governments of the Member States and the Parliament and Government of Myanmar/Burma.

(1) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2012)0142 .
(2) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2012)0464 .
(3) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2012)0355 .
(4) OJ L 211, 6.8.2008, p. 1.
(5) http://www.humanrights.gov/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/Burma-Responsible-Investment-Reporting-Reqs.pdf
(6) ‘Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights: Implementing the United Nations ’Protect, Respect and Remedy‘ Framework’ of 16 June 2011, endorsed by the UN Human Rights Council: http://www.business-humanrights.org/media/documents/ruggie/ruggie-guiding-principles-21-mar-2011.pdf
(7) http://www.business-humanrights.org/SpecialRepPortal/Home/Protect Respect-Remedy-Framework and http://www.consilium.europa.eu/uedocs/cms_data/docs/pressdata/EN/foraff/111819.pdf
(8) Version 3.1, March 2011: https://www.globalreporting.org/resourcelibrary/G3.1-Sustainability-Reporting-Guidelines.pdf
(9) OJ C 99 E, 3.4.2012, p. 101.
(10) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0050 .
(11) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0049 .
(12) http://www.europarl.europa.eu/meetdocs/2009_2014/documents/dase/cr/897/897838/897838en.pdf


A macro-regional strategy for the Alps
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European Parliament resolution of 23 May 2013 on a macro-regional strategy for the Alps (2013/2549(RSP) )
P7_TA(2013)0229 B7-0190 , 0196 , 0197 and 0229/2013

The European Parliament ,

–   having regard to Articles 192, 265(5) and 174 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU),

–   having regard to the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region (COM(2009)0248 ),

–   having regard to the Alpine Convention of 7 November 1991,

–   having regard to the Commission communication of 8 December 2010 entitled ‘European Union Strategy for Danube Region’ (COM(2010)0715 ) and the indicative action plan accompanying that strategy (SEC(2009)0712 ),

–   having regard to its resolution of 17 February 2011 on the implementation of the EU Strategy for the Danube Region(1) ,

–   having regard to the European Council conclusions of 24 June 2011, in which the European Council invited the Member States to ‘continue work in cooperation with the Commission on possible future macro-regional strategies’,

–   having regard to the Commission proposal of 6 October 2011 for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on specific provisions for the support from the European Regional Development Fund to the European territorial cooperation goal (COM(2011)0611 ),

–   having regard to Rules 115(5) and 110(4) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.   whereas macro-regional strategies are aimed at making better use of existing resources to tackle territorial development issues, identifying joint responses to common challenges, enhancing spatial integration and boosting the effectiveness of several forms of EU-supported policies and partnerships between public administrations and local and regional authorities, as well as other institutions and civil society organisations;

B.   whereas the Commission is proposing that the transnational strand of territorial cooperation policy should be enhanced and that any new macro-regional strategies should be initiated on a voluntary basis but draw on previous experience and best practice;

C.   whereas the territories that make up the Alpine region share many common features, such as the geographical uniqueness of their high mountain areas and their close interactions with the larger cities in the peri-Alpine belt;

D.   whereas the macro-regional strategy for the Alps, which should be comparable to the strategies adopted by the EU for the Baltic Sea and Danube regions, will afford an opportunity to give the Alps a new dimension and greater significance in the EU context, in terms of better access to funding;

E.   whereas the Alpine region belongs to several EU Member States and non-EU countries, and constitutes an interconnected macro-region with heterogeneous economic capacities and growing concerns over environmental issues, demographic change, transport infrastructure, tourism and energy-related issues, and whereas coordination of the internal and external policies of all stakeholders could produce better results and added value;

F.   whereas the Alps are mountains of European and international interest, with fragile ecosystems and a large number of glaciers that are seriously affected by climate change, as well as a high number of protected natural areas and various protected endemic species of flora and fauna;

G.   whereas cohesion policy aims to achieve economic, social and territorial cohesion across the EU;

1.   Believes that the development of large-scale strategies, such as macro-regional strategies, should contribute to enhancing the role of the local and regional level in the implementation of EU policy, and that the multi-level governance principle should be put at the heart of the planning and implementation of the Alps strategy;

2.   Recalls the results of the learning experience afforded by the Baltic Sea Strategy and the Danube Strategy as regards transparency in the decision-making process and the allocation of EU funding; calls on the Commission to submit without delay a specific action plan for this area with a view to overcoming the structural handicaps faced by mountain regions and creating the right conditions for economic growth and effective social and territorial cohesion in the region;

3.   Highlights the positive role played by EU legislative tools such as the European Groupings of Territorial Cooperation (EGTCs) in relation to macro-regions, since they provide structural support for concrete aspects of cooperation and the exchange of good practice as well as for the design and implementation of territorial development strategies allowing authorities at different levels to cooperate;

4.   Welcomes the current developments in, and the strong bottom-up approach adopted by, the regions of the Alpine area, which have repeatedly expressed their desire for an Alpine strategy to address effectively challenges common to the entire Alpine arc, to exploit its considerable potential more consistently and to address the need to improve mobility, energy security, environmental protection, social and economic development, cultural exchange, and civil protection in the Alpine region;

5.   Regards sustainable development of the Alps as one of the main goals within the macro-regional strategy, taking into account the high number of glaciers affected by climate change;

6.   Believes that this strategy should also encourage, and try to facilitate cooperation on, the designation of European protected natural areas, as exemplified by the recent joint initiative of the Parc National du Mercantour (France) and the Parco Naturale delle Alpi Marittime (Italy);

7.   Points out the importance of aligning the content of the strategy for the Alps with the Alpine Convention and the subsequent protocols thereto, as well as taking into account existing transnational cooperation and networking in this field;

8.   Emphasises that a macro-regional strategy for the Alps should take into account the preservation of forms of traditional – primarily agricultural – land use, so as to foster biodiversity, as well as the preservation of existing protected areas;

9.   Calls for a macro-regional strategy for the Alps to be the subject of a comprehensive evaluation by the Commission, based on objective criteria and measurable indicators;

10.   Calls on the Commission genuinely to implement Article 174 TFEU through a strategic plan, with a view to overcoming the structural handicaps of mountain regions and creating the right conditions for economic growth and effective social and territorial cohesion in the Alpine region;

11.   Believes that the strategy’s territorial dimension will lead to the concrete development of the idea of territorial cohesion;

12.   Stresses that a macro-regional strategy for the Alps is an effective tool for enhancing European territorial cooperation within the region concerned by applying a bottom-up approach and expanding cooperation through better use of available resources, thereby facilitating cross-sector policy coordination;

13.   Emphasises that a macro-regional strategy for the Alps would ensure that the EU’s different initiatives relating to the Alpine region and mountain areas complement each other, and would bring real added value to concrete projects;

14.   Considers that a macro-regional strategy for the Alps must coordinate existing EU funds, in particular under the cohesion policy, in order to implement projects aimed at addressing common challenges such as protection of the environment, investment in competitiveness and innovation, agriculture and forestry, water, energy, environmental and climate issues and transport;

15.   Stresses that a possible macro-regional strategy for the Alps would be in line with the Europe 2020 objectives, thereby ensuring conformity with the EU’s commitment to smart, sustainable and inclusive growth;

16.   Underlines the importance of increasing, by means of such a strategy, the innovative capacity of the Alps region by making use of the skills offered by its labour force, creating partnerships and cooperation among key stakeholders (labour market, education, training and research, and employers), keeping active young people in the area, supporting creativity and enhancing the capacity of the different regions in the areas of education, science and research;

17.   Stresses that the new ‘macro-regional’ cooperation framework must ensure that the natural handicaps of peripheral regions, such as high mountain areas, are converted into assets and opportunities, and that the sustainable development of these regions is stimulated;

18.   Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Committee of the Regions and the other relevant institutions.

(1) OJ C 188 E, 28.6.2012, p. 30.


Labour conditions and health and safety standards following the recent factory fires and building collapse in Bangladesh
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European Parliament resolution of 23 May 2013 on labour conditions and health and safety standards following the recent factory fires and building collapse in Bangladesh (2013/2638(RSP) )
P7_TA(2013)0230 B7-0223 , 0224 , 0225 , 0230 , 0231 and 0232/2013

The European Parliament ,

–   having regard to its previous resolutions on Bangladesh, in particular those of 17 January 2013 on recent casualties in textile factory fires, notably in Bangladesh(1) , and of 14 March 2013 on the situation in Bangladesh(2) and on sustainability in the global cotton value chain(3) ,

–   having regard to the joint statement of 30 April 2013 by Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton and Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht following the recent building collapse in Bangladesh,

–   having regard to the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh,

–   having regard to the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, the United Nations Global Compact and the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises,

–   having regard to its resolutions of 25 November 2010 on human rights and social and environmental standards in international trade agreements(4) and on corporate social responsibility in international trade agreements(5) ,

–   having regard to the Cooperation Agreement between the European Community and the People’s Republic of Bangladesh on Partnership and Development(6) ,

–   having regard to the ILO Promotional Framework for Occupational Safety and Health (2006, C-187) and the Occupational Safety and Health Convention (1981, C-155), which have not been ratified by Bangladesh, as well as to their respective recommendations (R-197); having regard also to the Labour Inspection Convention (1947, C-081), to which Bangladesh is a signatory, and to its recommendations (R-164),

–   having regard to the Commission communication entitled ‘A renewed EU strategy 2011-2014 for Corporate Social Responsibility’ (COM(2011)0681 ),

–   having regard to its resolutions of 6 February 2013 on ‘corporate social responsibility: accountable, transparent and responsible business behaviour and sustainable growth’(7) and on ’Corporate Social Responsibility: promoting society’s interests and a route to sustainable and inclusive recovery’(8) ,

–   having regard to the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, which set a framework for both governments and companies to protect and respect human rights, as endorsed by the Human Rights Council in June 2011,

–   having regard to the Clean Clothes Campaign,

–   having regard to the conclusions of the ILO’s high-level mission to Bangladesh of 1 to 4 May 2013,

–   having regard to Rule 110(2) and (4) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.   whereas on 24 April 2013, more than 1 100 people died and some 2 500 were injured in the garment factory collapse at the Rana Plaza building in Dhaka, Bangladesh, making it the worst tragedy in the history of the global garment industry;

B.   whereas at least 112 people died in the Tazreen factory fire, in the Ashulia district of Dhaka on 24 November 2012; whereas eight people died in a factory fire in Dhaka on 8 May 2013; and whereas an estimated 600 garment workers had died in factory fires in Bangladesh alone since 2005, before the tragedy of Rana Plaza;

C.   whereas the owner of the Rana Plaza and eight other people were arrested and had criminal charges filed against them, on the grounds that the building had been constructed illegally and had developed massive structural problems, yet workers were forced to continue working despite their fears over safety;

D.   whereas conditions in such textile factories are often poor, with little regard for labour rights such as those recognised under the main ILO conventions and often with little or no regard for safety; whereas the owners of such factories have in many cases gone unpunished and have therefore done little to improve working conditions;

E.   whereas, in the case of the Tazreen factory, although a government enquiry committee formed by the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Parliamentary Standing Committee on the Labour Ministry came to the conclusion that criminal charges for unpardonable negligence should be brought against the owner, he has still not been arrested;

F.   whereas the European market is the largest export destination for Bangladeshi apparel and textile products, with prominent Western companies admitting that they had contracts with Rana Plaza factories for the supply of garments;

G.   whereas Bangladesh has become the world’s second-largest exporter of ready-made garments, next only to China, whereas it now has more than 5 000 textile factories, employing approximately 4 million people, and whereas clothing now accounts for 75 % of its exports;

H.   whereas the textile industry is considered to be one of the most polluting industrial sectors; whereas spinning, weaving and production of industrial fibres can undermine air quality and release numerous volatile agents into the atmosphere that are particularly harmful to workers, consumers and the environment;

I.   whereas those working in the Rana Plaza are reported to have been paid as little as EUR 29 per month; whereas, according to the Clean Clothes Campaign, labour costs in this sector account for a mere 1 % to 3 % of a product’s final price, and whereas pressure on pricing is increasing;

J.   whereas several major Western firms have now signed up to a legally binding accord agreed by local labour organisations which aims to ensure basic standards of workplace safety in garment factories in Bangladesh, following widespread criticism of international firms working with local garment producers;

1.   Expresses its sorrow at the tragic and preventable loss of more than 1 100 lives and the injuries sustained by thousands more as a result of the collapse of the Rana Plaza; extends its condolences to the victims’ families and to those who were injured, and condemns those responsible for failing once again to prevent such heavy loss of life;

2.   Stresses that such accidents tragically highlight the lack of safety standards at production sites and prove that urgent action is needed to improve the implementation of ILO core labour standards and enhance respect for the principles of corporate social responsibility (CSR) on the part of multinational textile retailers;

3.   Defends the right of workers in Bangladesh to form, register and join independent trade unions without fear of harassment; considers the existence of democratic trade union structures to be a vital instrument in the struggle for better health and safety standards and working conditions, including higher wages; calls on the Government of Bangladesh to guarantee these fundamental rights;

4.   Welcomes the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh between the trade unions, NGOs and about 40 multinational textile retailers, finalised on 15 May 2013, which aims to improve safety standards at production sites (and which covers the arrangements for paying for such measures), in particular by establishing an independent inspection system, including public reports and mandatory repairs and renovations, and by actively supporting the creation of ‘health and safety committees’ involving worker representation bodies in each factory; calls on all other relevant textile brands to support this effort, including textile retailers Walmart, Gap, Metro, NKD and Ernstings, which continue to reject any binding agreement;

5.   Welcomes the Action Plan adopted by the government, employers, workers and the ILO on 4 May 2013, which commits the parties notably to reforming the labour laws so as to allow workers to form trade unions without prior permission from factory owners and to engage in collective bargaining, to assessing the safety of all active export-oriented ready-made-garment factories in Bangladesh by the end of 2013, to relocating unsafe factories and to recruiting hundreds of additional inspectors;

6.   Hopes that the Accord and the Action Plan will be implemented in a timely manner and in full; welcomes, in this connection, the approval by the Bangladesh Cabinet on 13 May 2013 of the Bangladesh Labour (Amendment) Act 2013, which includes provisions on group insurance and factory health services; urges the Bangladesh parliament to adopt this amendment without delay at its forthcoming session; also welcomes the Bangladeshi Government’s decision to raise the minimum wage in the coming weeks, and urges the Bangladeshi Government to prosecute companies that are illegally undercutting this wage;

7.   Recalls that Bangladesh benefits from duty- and quota-free access to the EU market under the ‘Everything But Arms’ (EBA) scheme of the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP), and that these preferences can be withdrawn pursuant to Article 15(1) of the GSP Regulation in the event of serious and systematic violations of principles laid down in conventions listed in Part A, Annex III on the basis of the conclusions of the relevant monitoring bodies;

8.   Calls on the Commission to investigate Bangladesh’s compliance with these conventions and expects an investigation to be considered pursuant to Article 18 of the GSP Regulation should Bangladesh be found to be in serious and systematic violation of the principles laid down in them;

9.   Considers deeply regrettable the failure of the Bangladeshi Government to enforce national building regulations; calls on the Government and the relevant judicial authorities to investigate allegations that the failure to implement those regulations was due to collusion between corrupt officials and landlords seeking to reduce their costs;

10.   Expects those responsible for criminal negligence or otherwise criminally responsible in relation to the collapse of the Rana Plaza, the Tazreen factory fire or any other fire to be brought to justice; expects local authorities and factory management to cooperate in order to guarantee full access to the justice system for all victims, so as to enable them to claim compensation; expects multinational textile retailers that were producing at these factories to be involved in the establishment of a financial compensation plan; welcomes the steps which have already been taken by the Bangladeshi Government to support the victims and their families;

11.   Calls on all businesses, notably garment brands, that contract or subcontract to factories in Bangladesh and other countries to adhere fully to internationally recognised CSR practices, in particular the recently updated OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, the ten principles of the UN Global Compact, the ISO 26000 Guidance Standard on Social Responsibility, the ILO Tripartite Declaration of Principles Concerning Multinational Enterprises and Social Policy, and the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, and to critically investigate their supply chains in order to ensure that their goods are produced exclusively in factories that fully respect safety standards and labour rights;

12.   Calls on the Commission actively to promote responsible business conduct among EU companies operating abroad, with a special focus on ensuring strict compliance with all their legal obligations, in particular international standards and rules in the areas of human rights, labour and the environment;

13.   Calls on retailers, NGOs and all the other actors involved, including where appropriate the Commission, to work together to develop a voluntary social labelling standard certifying that a product has been manufactured in accordance with ILO core labour standards throughout the entire supply chain; calls on companies using CSR as a marketing tool to take steps to ensure that any claims made are accurate;

14.   Welcomes the support being given by the Commission to the Bangladesh Ministry of Labour and Employment and the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association; calls for such cooperation to be strengthened and extended to other countries in the region, as appropriate;

15.   Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the European External Action Service, the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the EU Special Representative for Human Rights, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, the UN Human Rights Council, the Government and Parliament of Bangladesh and the Director-General of the ILO.

(1) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0027 .
(2) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0100 .
(3) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0099 .
(4) OJ C 99 E, 3.4.2012, p. 31.
(5) OJ C 99 E, 3.4.2012, p. 101.
(6) OJ L 118, 27.4.2001, p. 48.
(7) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0049
(8) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0050 .


Guantánamo: hunger strike by prisoners
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European Parliament resolution of 23 May 2013 on Guantánamo: hunger strike by prisoners (2013/2654(RSP) )
P7_TA(2013)0231 B7-0221/2013

The European Parliament ,

–   having regard to its previous resolutions on Guantánamo,

–   having regard to its resolution of 18 April 2012 on the Annual Report on Human Rights in the World and the European Union’s policy on the matter, including implications for the EU’s strategic human rights policy(1) ,

–   having regard to the international, European and national instruments on human rights and fundamental freedoms and on the prohibition of arbitrary detention, enforced disappearance and torture, such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) of 16 December 1966 and the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment of 10 December 1984 and the relevant protocols thereto,

–   having regard to the Joint Statement of the European Union and its Member States and the United States of America, of 15 June 2009, on the closure of the Guantánamo Bay detention facility and future counterterrorism cooperation, based on shared values, international law, and respect for the rule of law and human rights,

–   having regard to the statement of 5 April 2013 by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, on the Guantánamo detention regime, in which she said that ‘the continuing indefinite incarceration of many of the detainees amounts to arbitrary detention and is in clear breach of international law’,

–   having regard to the principles of the United Nations Charter and to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,

–   having regard to Rule 122 of its Rules of Procedure,

A.   whereas many of the 166 remaining prisoners at Guantánamo Bay have engaged in hunger strikes to protest about current conditions at the detention facility;

B.   whereas 86 of the remaining prisoners have been cleared for release but are still being held indefinitely;

C.   whereas the European Union and the United States share fundamental values of freedom, democracy and respect for international law, the rule of law and human rights;

D.   whereas at least 10 detainees participating in the hunger strike have been force-fed in order to keep them alive; whereas international agreements among doctors require that respect be shown for an individual’s informed and voluntary decision to participate in a hunger strike;

E.   whereas the European Union and the United States of America share the common value of freedom of religion; whereas there have been numerous reports of Korans belonging to the detainees being mishandled by American military personnel during cell searches;

F.   whereas the EU-US Joint Statement of 15 June 2009 noted the commitment by President Obama to order the closure of the Guantánamo Bay detention facility by 22 January 2010 and welcomed the ‘other steps to be taken, including the intensive review of its detention, transfer trial and interrogation policies in the fight against terrorism and increased transparency about past practices in regard to these policies’;

G.   whereas the US is closing its only civilian flight into Guantánamo, which means that the only flight available is a military flight requiring individuals to obtain permission from the Pentagon to board, thus limiting access for the press, lawyers and human rights workers;

1.   Notes the close transatlantic relationship based on shared core values and respect for basic, universal and non-negotiable human rights, such as the right to a fair trial and the ban on arbitrary detention; welcomes the close transatlantic cooperation on a wide range of international human rights issues;

2.   Calls on the US authorities to treat detainees with due respect for their inherent dignity and to uphold their human rights and fundamental freedoms;

3.   Expresses concern for the well-being of the detainees on hunger strike and those being force-fed, and calls on the US to be respectful of their rights and decisions;

4.   Urges the US to reconsider the closing of its only civilian flight into Guantánamo Bay, which would limit access for the press and civil society members;

5.   Urges the US to oversee proper care of, and respect for, religious material while still following mandatory search procedures;

6.   Stresses that prisoners still in detention should be entitled to a regular review of the lawfulness of their detention in line with Article 9 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which states that ‘anyone who is deprived of his liberty by arrest or detention shall be entitled to take proceedings before a court, in order that that court may decide without delay on the lawfulness of his detention and order his release if the detention is not lawful’;

7.   Reiterates its indignation and outrage at all mass terrorist attacks, its solidarity with the victims of such attacks and its sympathy for the pain and suffering of their families, friends and relatives; reiterates, however, that the fight against terrorism cannot be waged at the expense of established basic shared values, such as respect for human rights and the rule of law;

8.   Expresses its regret at the fact that the US President’s commitment to close Guantánamo by January 2010 has not yet been implemented; reiterates its call on the US authorities to review the military commissions system with a view to ensuring fair trials, to close Guantánamo, and to prohibit in all circumstances the use of torture, ill-treatment and indefinite detention without trial;

9.   Views with regret the US President’s decision of 7 March 2011 to sign the executive order on detention and the revocation of the ban on military tribunals; is convinced that normal criminal trials under civilian jurisdiction are the best way to resolve the status of Guantánamo detainees; insists that detainees in US custody should be charged promptly and tried in accordance with international standards of the rule of law or else released; emphasises, in this context, that the same standards concerning fair trials should apply to all, without discrimination;

10.   Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Convening Authority for Military Commissions, the US Secretary of State, the US President, the US Congress and Senate, the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the Council, the Commission, the governments and parliaments of the EU Member States, the UN Secretary-General, the President of the UN General Assembly and the governments of the UN member states.

(1) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2012)0126 .


India: execution of Mohammad Afzal Guru and its implications
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European Parliament resolution of 23 May 2013 on India: execution of Mohammad Afzal Guru and its implications (2013/2640(RSP) )
P7_TA(2013)0232 B7-0237 , 0238 , 0241 , 0242 and 0245/2013

The European Parliament ,

–   having regard to UN General Assembly Resolution 62/149 of 18 December 2007 calling for a moratorium on the use of the death penalty, and UN General Assembly Resolution 63/168 calling for the implementation of General Assembly Resolution 62/149, adopted by the UN General Assembly on 18 December 2008,

–   having regard to the final declaration adopted by the 4th World Congress Against the Death Penalty, held in Geneva from 24 to 26 February 2010, which calls for universal abolition of the death penalty,

–   having regard to the UN Secretary-General’s report of 11 August 2010 on moratoriums on the use of the death penalty,

–   having regard to its previous resolutions on the abolition of the death penalty, and in particular that of 26 April 2007 on the initiative for a universal moratorium on the death penalty(1) ,

–   having regard to the submission made in July 2012 by 14 retired Indian Supreme Court and High Court judges to the President of India calling on him to commute the death sentences of 13 prisoners on the grounds that those sentences had been erroneously upheld by the Supreme Court over the previous nine years,

–   having regard to the World Day against the Death Penalty and to the European Day against the Death Penalty held on 10 October every year,

–   having regard to Rules 122(5) and 110(4) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.   whereas Mohammad Afzal Guru was sentenced to death in 2002 after being convicted of conspiracy in relation to the December 2001 attack on the Parliament of India, and was executed by the Indian authorities on 9 February 2013;

B.   whereas the death penalty is the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment, violating the right to life as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights;

C.   whereas 154 countries in the world have abolished the death penalty de jure or de facto; whereas India, when presenting its candidacy for a seat on the UN Human Rights Council ahead of the elections of 20 May 2011, pledged to uphold the highest standards of promotion and protection of human rights;

D.   whereas India ended its eight-year unofficial moratorium on executions in November 2012, when it executed Ajmal Kasab, convicted for his role in the 2008 Mumbai attacks;

E.   whereas national and international human rights organisations have raised serious questions about the fairness of Afzal Guru’s trial;

F.   whereas over 1 455 prisoners in India are currently on death row;

G.   whereas, despite a curfew imposed in large parts of Indian-administered Kashmir, Afzal Guru’s death was followed by protests;

1.   Reiterates its long-standing opposition to the death penalty under all circumstances, and calls once again for an immediate moratorium on executions in those countries where the death penalty is still applied;

2.   Condemns the Government of India’s execution in secret of Afzal Guru at New Delhi’s Tihar Jail on 9 February 2013, in opposition to the worldwide trend towards the abolition of capital punishment, and expresses its regret that Afzal Guru’s wife and other family members were not informed of his imminent execution and burial;

3.   Calls on the Government of India to return Afzal Guru’s body to his family;

4.   Urges the Indian authorities to maintain adherence to the highest national and international judicial standards in all trials and judicial proceedings, and to provide the necessary legal assistance to all prisoners and persons facing trial;

5.   Regrets the deaths of three young Kashmiris following the protests against Afzal Guru’s execution; calls on the security forces to exercise restraint in the use of force against peaceful protesters; expresses its concern over the possible negative effects on the Kashmir peace process;

6.   Calls on the Government of India, as a matter of urgency, not to approve any execution order in the future;

7.   Calls on the Government and Parliament of India to adopt legislation introducing a permanent moratorium on executions, with the objective of abolishing the death penalty in the near future;

8.   Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Vice-President / High Representative, the Council, the Commission, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, the Commonwealth Secretary-General, the UN Secretary-General, the President of the UN General Assembly, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and the President, Government and Parliament of India.

(1) OJ C 74 E, 20.3.2008, p. 775.


Rwanda: case of Victoire Ingabire
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European Parliament resolution of 23 May 2013 on Rwanda: case of Victoire Ingabire (2013/2641(RSP) )
P7_TA(2013)0233 B7-0243 , 0244 , 0246 , 0247 and 0249/2013

The European Parliament ,

–   having regard to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which was ratified by Rwanda in 1975,

–   having regard to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR),

–   having regard to the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance,

–   having regard to the instruments of the United Nations and the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights, in particular the Principles and Guidelines on the Right to a Fair Trial and Legal Assistance in Africa,

–   having regard to the answer by VP/HR Ashton of 4 February 2013 to Written Question E-010366/2012 regarding Victoire Ingabire,

–   having regard to the Partnership Agreement between the members of the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States, of the one part, and the European Community and its Member States, of the other part, signed in Cotonou on 23 June 2000, and particularly to Annex VII thereto, which calls for the promotion of human rights, democracy based on the rule of law and transparent and accountable governance,

–   having regard to the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment,

–   having regard to the Amnesty International report ‘Justice in jeopardy: The first instance trial of Victoire Ingabire’ of 2013,

–   having regard to Rules 122(5) and 110(4) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.   whereas in 2010, after 16 years in exile in the Netherlands, Victoire Ingabire, President of the Unified Democratic Forces (UDF(1) ), a coalition of Rwandan opposition parties, returned to Rwanda to run in the presidential election;

B.   whereas Victoire Ingabire, who was ultimately barred from standing in the election, was arrested on 14 October 2010; whereas the election was won, with 93 % of the vote, by the outgoing President, Paul Kagame, leader of the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF); whereas the UDF had not been able to register as a political party before the 2010 election; whereas other opposition parties were subject to similar treatment;

C.   whereas Ms Ingabire’s political activities have focused on, among others issues, the rule of law, freedom of political associations and the empowerment of women in Rwanda;

D.   whereas the RPF continues to be the dominant political party in Rwanda under President Kagame, controlling public life along the lines of a one-party system, with critics of the Rwandan authorities being harassed, intimidated and imprisoned;

E.   whereas on 30 October 2012 Victoire Ingabire was sentenced to eight years in prison; whereas she was convicted of two updated charges and acquitted of four others; whereas she was found guilty of conspiracy to harm the authorities using terrorism, and of minimising the 1994 genocide, on the basis of her presumed relations with the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), a Hutu rebel group; whereas the Public Prosecutor sought a sentence of life imprisonment;

F.   whereas on 25 March 2013 Victoire Ingabire took the stand in her appeal trial and called for a re-examination of the evidence;

G.   whereas the prosecution of Victoire Ingabire for ‘genocide ideology’ and ’divisionism’ illustrates the Rwandan Government’s lack of tolerance of political pluralism;

H.   whereas in April 2013, in the course of her appeal before the Supreme Court, while she was cleared of the six charges lodged by the prosecution, she was sentenced on new charges that were not based on legal documents and that, according to her defence counsel, had not been presented during the trial; whereas the two new charges include negationism/revisionism and high treason;

I.   whereas in May 2013, after having testified against Victoire Ingabire before the Rwandan High Court in 2012, four prosecution witnesses and a co-accused told the Supreme Court that their testimonies had been falsified; whereas a prominent human rights organisation expressed concerns about their ‘prolonged incommunicado detention’ and ’the use of torture to coerce confessions’;

J.   whereas the trial, which started in 2011, is considered by many observers to be politically motivated; whereas the Rwandan national law and judiciary contravenes international conventions to which Rwanda is a party, in particular the International Conventions on Civil and Political Rights, which the Rwandan Government signed on the 16 July 1997, specifically its provisions on freedom of expression and freedom of thought;

K.   whereas since 16 April 2012 Ms Ingabire had been boycotting her trial in protest at the intimidation and illegal interrogation procedures used against some of her co-accused, namely former FLDR members Lieutenant-Colonel Tharcisse Nditurende, Lt Colonel Noël Habiyaremye, Captain Jean Marie Vianney Karuta and Major Vital Uwumuremyi, as well as against the Court’s decision to shorten the hearing of a defence witness Michel Habimana, who accuses the Rwandan authorities of fabricating evidence; whereas these circumstances have not been confirmed by the Rwandan authorities;

L.   whereas Bernard Ntaganda, founder of the PS-Imberakuri party, was sentenced to four years in prison on charges of endangering national security, ‘divisionism’ and attempting to organise demonstrations without authorisation;

M.   whereas on 13 September 2012 Victoire Ingabire – together with two other Rwandan political figures, Bernard Ntaganda and Deogratias Mushyayidi, all currently imprisoned in Kigali – was nominated for the European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought;

N.   whereas Rwanda is signatory to the Cotonou Agreement, which stipulates that respect for human rights is an essential element of EU-ACP cooperation;

O.   whereas respect for fundamental human rights, including political pluralism and freedom of expression and association, are severely restricted in Rwanda, making it difficult for opposition parties to operate and for journalists to express critical views;

P.   whereas the consolidation of democracy – including ensuring the independence of the judiciary and the participation of opposition parties – is crucial, particularly in view of the 2013 parliamentary elections and the presidential election to be held in 2017;

Q.   whereas the Rwandan genocide and civil war of 1994 continue to have a negative impact on the stability of the region;

1.   Expresses its deep concern at the initial trial of Victoire Ingabire, which did not meet international standards, not least as regards her right to the presumption of innocence, and which was based on fabricated evidence and confessions from co-accused who had been held in military detention at Camp Kami, where torture is alleged to have been used to coerce their confessions;

2.   Strongly condemns the politically motivated nature of the trial, the prosecution of political opponents and the prejudging of the trial outcome; calls on the Rwandan judiciary to ensure a prompt and fair appeal for Ms Victoire Ingabire that meets the standards set by Rwandan and international law;

3.   Calls for the principle of equality to be upheld through measures to ensure that each party – prosecution and defence – is given the same procedural means of and opportunity for discovery of material evidence available during the trial, and is given equal opportunity to make its case; encourages better testing of evidence, including means to ensure that it was not obtained by torture;

4.   Calls on the EU to send observers to monitor the Victoire Ingabire appeal trial;

5.   Stresses its respect for the independence of the judicial system of Rwanda, but reminds the Rwandan authorities that the EU, in the context of the official political dialogue with Rwanda under Article 8 of the Cotonou Agreement, has raised its concerns with regard to the respect due to human rights and the right to a fair trial;

6.   Recalls that freedoms of assembly, association and expression are essential components in any democracy, and considers these principles to be subject to serious restrictions in Rwanda;

7.   Condemns all forms of repression, intimidation and detention of political activists, journalists and human rights activists; urges the Rwandan authorities immediately to release all individuals and other activists detained or convicted solely for exercising their rights of freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly; urges, in this respect, the Rwandan authorities to adjust national law in order to guarantee freedom of expression;

8.   Urges the Rwandan Government to comply with international law and to respect the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of 1966 and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights;

9.   Recalls that statements obtained by the use of torture or other forms of ill-treatment are inadmissible in any proceedings;

10.   Calls on the Rwandan judicial authorities to investigate allegations of torture and other abuses of human rights effectively and to bring those guilty of such offences to justice, as impunity cannot be tolerated;

11.   Expresses its concern that 19 years after the RPF came to power, and two years after the re-election of President Kagame, Rwanda still does not have any functioning opposition political parties;

12.   Calls on the Rwandan authorities to ensure the separation of administrative, legislative and judicial powers, and in particular the independence of the judiciary, and to promote the participation of opposition parties, in a context of mutual respect and inclusive dialogue as part of a democratic process;

13.   Takes the view that the 2008 genocide-ideology law used to accuse Victoire Ingabire has served as a political instrument to silence criticism of the government;

14.   Calls on the Government of Rwanda to review the law on ‘genocide ideology’ in order to bring it into line with Rwanda’s obligations under international law, and to change the law instituting punishment for offences of discrimination and sectarianism to bring it into line with Rwanda’s obligations under international human rights law;

15.   Stresses that the criminal trial of Victoire Ingabire, one of the longest in Rwandan history, is important, both politically and legally, as a test of the Rwandan judiciary’s capacity to deal with high-profile political cases in a fair and independent manner;

16.   Reminds the Rwandan authorities that democracy is based on pluralistic government, a functioning opposition, independent media and judiciary, respect for human rights, and respect for the rights of expression and assembly; calls, in this regard, on Rwanda to live up to these standards and to improve its human rights record;

17.   Stresses that in the context of international development work in Rwanda, much greater priority should be given to human rights, the rule of law, and transparent and responsive governance; calls on the EU, in collaboration with other international donors, to exert continued pressure to encourage human rights reform in Rwanda;

18.   Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the UN Security Council, the UN Secretary General, the institutions of the African Union, the East African Community, the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, the defenders of Victoire Ingabire and the President of Rwanda.

(1) French: Forces Démocratiques Unifiées (FDU-Inkingi).

Last updated: 6 June 2017Legal notice