Index 
Texts adopted
Thursday, 4 July 2013 - StrasbourgFinal edition
Further macro-financial assistance for Georgia ***III
  Resolution
  Annex
 Attacks against information systems ***I
  Resolution
  Consolidated text
 US NSA surveillance programme, surveillance bodies in various Member States and impact on EU citizens' privacy
 Practical arrangements for the holding of the European elections in 2014
 Arms exports: implementation of Council Common Position 2008/944/CFSP
 Opening of negotiations on a plurilateral agreement on services
 Increase in Norwegian duties on agricultural products
 Completing the digital single market
 Impact of the crisis on access to care for vulnerable groups
 Connected TV
 Draft amending budget No 1/2013 - Expenditure related to the accession of Croatia to the EU
 Proposal for a decision of the European Parliament and of the Council amending the Interinstitutional Agreement of 17 May 2006 on budgetary discipline and sound financial management as regards the multiannual financial framework, to take account of the expenditure requirements resulting from the accession of Croatia to the European Union
  Resolution
  Annex
 Preparation of the Commission Work Programme 2014
 Situation in Egypt
 Situation in Djibouti
 Situation in Nigeria

Further macro-financial assistance for Georgia ***III
PDF 259k   DOC 62k
Resolution
Annex
European Parliament legislative resolution of 4 July 2013 on the joint text approved by the Conciliation Committee for a decision of the European Parliament and of the Council providing further macro-financial assistance for Georgia (PE-CONS 00038/2013 – C7-0168/20132010/0390(COD) ) (Ordinary legislative procedure: third reading)
P7_TA(2013)0320 A7-0244/2013

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to the joint text approved by the Conciliation Committee and the relevant statement by Parliament and the Council (PE-CONS 00038/2013 – C7-0168/2013 ),

–   having regard to its position at first reading(1) on the Commission proposal to Parliament and the Council (COM(2010)0804 ),

–   having regard to its position at second reading(2) on the Council position at first reading(3) ,

–   having regard to the Commission's opinion on Parliament's amendments to the Council position at first reading (COM(2013)0067 ),

–   having regard to the Council position at second reading,

–   having regard to Article 294(13) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

–   having regard to Rule 69 of its Rules of Procedure,

–   having regard to the report of its delegation to the Conciliation Committee (A7-0244/2013 ),

1.   Approves the joint text;

2.   Confirms the joint statement by Parliament and the Council annexed to this resolution;

3.   Instructs its President to sign the act with the President of the Council, in accordance with Article 297(1) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union;

4.   Instructs its Secretary-General to sign the act, once it has been verified that all the procedures have been duly completed, and, in agreement with the Secretary-General of the Council, to arrange for its publication, together with the statement by Parliament and the Council thereon, in the Official Journal of the European Union ;

5.   Instructs its President to forward this legislative resolution to the Council, the Commission and the national parliaments.

ANNEX TO THE LEGISLATIVE RESOLUTION

Joint Declaration by the European Parliament and the Council adopted together with the decision providing further macro-financial assistance to Georgia

The European Parliament and the Council:

—   agree that the adoption of the decision on providing further macro-financial assistance to Georgia should be seen in the wider context of the need for a framework that should secure sound and effective decisions on providing macro-financial assistance to third countries;

—   agree that the adoption of decisions on macro-financial assistance operations should be based on the considerations and the principles set out below for the granting of Union macro-financial assistance to eligible third countries and territories, without prejudice to the right of legislative initiative and the legal form that a future instrument formalising these considerations and principles might take;

—   commit to fully reflect these considerations and principles in the future individual decisions on granting Unions's macro-financial assistance.

PART A - CONSIDERATIONS

(1)   The Union is a major provider of economic, financial and technical assistance to third countries. Union macro-financial assistance ("macro-financial assistance") has proved an efficient instrument for economic stabilisation and a driver for structural reforms in countries and territories benefitting from such assistance ("beneficiaries"). In accordance with its overall policy in respect of candidate, potential candidate, and neighbourhood countries, the Union should be in a position to provide macro-financial assistance to those countries with the aim of developing a zone of shared stability, security, and prosperity.

(2)   Macro-financial assistance should be based on ad-hoc, country-specific decisions of the European Parliament and of the Council. These principles aim to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of the decision-making process leading to such decisions and their implementation, and to strengthen the application by the beneficiary of the political pre-conditions for granting macro-financial assistance and to improve the transparency and democratic scrutiny of that assistance.

(3)   In its resolution on the implementation of macro-financial assistance to third countries of 3 June 2003, the European Parliament called for a framework regulation for macro-financial assistance in order to expedite the decision-making process and provide this financial instrument with a formal and transparent basis.

(4)   In its conclusions of 8 October 2002, the Council established criteria (the so-called Genval criteria) to guide macro-financial assistance operations. It would be appropriate to update and clarify these criteria, inter alia the criteria for determining the appropriate form of assistance (a loan, a grant or a combination thereof).

(5)   These principles should enable the Union to make macro-financial assistance available expeditiously, in particular when circumstances call for immediate action, and to increase the clarity and transparency of the criteria applicable to the implementation of macro-financial assistance.

(6)   The Commission should ensure that macro-financial assistance is in line with the key principles, objectives and measures taken within the different areas of external action and other relevant Union policies.

(7)   Macro-financial assistance should support the Union's external policy. The Commission services and the European External Action Service (EEAS) should work closely together throughout the macro-financial assistance operation in order to coordinate, and to ensure the consistency of, Union external policy.

(8)   Macro-financial assistance should support the beneficiaries' commitment to common values shared with the Union, including democracy, the rule of law, good governance, respect for human rights, sustainable development and poverty reduction, and to the principles of open, rules-based and fair trade.

(9)   A pre-condition for granting macro-financial assistance should be that the eligible country respects effective democratic mechanisms, including a multi-party parliamentary system and the rule of law, and guarantees respect for human rights. Those pre-conditions should be regularly monitored by the Commission.

(10)   The specific objectives of individual macro-financial assistance decisions should include the strengthening of the efficiency, transparency and accountability of public finance management in the beneficiaries. The achievement of these objectives should be regularly monitored by the Commission.

(11)   Macro-financial assistance should aim to support the restoration of a sustainable external finance situation for third countries and territories that are facing a shortage of foreign currency and related external financing difficulties. Macro-financial assistance should neither provide regular financial support, nor have as its primary aim the support of the economic and social development of the beneficiaries.

(12)   Macro-financial assistance should be complementary to the resources provided by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and other multilateral financial institutions, and there should be fair burden-sharing between the Union and other donors. Macro-financial assistance should ensure the added value of the involvement of the Union.

(13)   In order to ensure that the Union's financial interests linked to macro-financial assistance are protected efficiently, the beneficiaries should take appropriate measures relating to the prevention of, and the fight against, fraud, corruption and any other irregularities linked to this assistance, and provision should be made for checks by the Commission and for audits by the Court of Auditors.

(14)   The choice of the procedure for the adoption of the memoranda of understanding should be decided in accordance with the criteria set out in Regulation (EU) No 182/2011. In this context, the advisory procedure should apply as a general rule, but considering the potentially important impact of the operations superior to the threshold set out in part B, it is appropriate that the examination procedure is used for the latter operations.

PART B - PRINCIPLES

1.   Aim of the assistance

(a)   Macro-financial assistance should be an exceptional financial instrument of untied and undesignated balance-of-payments support to eligible third countries and territories. It should aim to restore a sustainable external finance situation for eligible countries and territories facing external financing difficulties. It should underpin the implementation of a policy programme that contains strong adjustment and structural reform measures designed to improve the balance of payment position, in particular over the programme period, and reinforce the implementation of relevant agreements and programmes with the Union.

(b)   Macro-financial assistance should be conditional on a significant and residual external financing gap having been determined by the Commission in cooperation with the multilateral financial institutions over and above the resources provided by the IMF and other multilateral institutions, despite the implementation of strong economic stabilisation and reform programmes by the relevant country or territory.

(c)   Macro-financial assistance should be of a short-term nature and should be discontinued as soon as the external financial situation has been brought back to a sustainable situation.

2.   Eligible countries and territories

The third countries and territories eligible to become beneficiaries of macro-financial assistance should be:

—   candidate and potential candidate countries,

—   countries and territories covered by the European Neighbourhood Policy,

—   in exceptional and duly justified circumstances, other third countries that play a determining role in regional stability, are of strategic importance for the Union, and are politically, economically and geographically close to the Union.

3.   Form of the assistance

(a)   Macro-financial assistance should generally take the form of a loan. In exceptional cases, however, the assistance may be provided in the form of a grant or a combination of a loan and a grant. When determining the appropriate share of a possible grant element, the Commission, when preparing its proposal, should take into consideration the level of economic development of the beneficiary, as measured by per capita income and poverty ratios, as well as its ability to repay, drawing on debt sustainability analysis while ensuring that the principle of fair burden-sharing between the Union and other donors is respected. For this purpose, the Commission should also take into account the extent to which international financial institutions and other donors apply concessional terms to the country in question.

(b)   Where macro-financial assistance takes the form of a loan, the Commission should be empowered on behalf of the Union to borrow the necessary funds on the capital markets or from financial institutions and on-lend them to the beneficiary.

(c)   Borrowing and lending operations should be carried out in euro using the same value date and should not involve the Union in the transformation of maturities, or in any exchange or interest rate risk.

(d)   All costs incurred by the Union which relate to borrowing or lending operations should be borne by the beneficiary.

(e)   At the request of the beneficiary, and where circumstances permit an improvement of the interest rate of the loan, the Commission may decide to refinance all or part of its initial borrowings or restructure the corresponding financial conditions. Refinancing and restructuring operations should be carried out in accordance with the conditions laid down in point 3(d) and should not have the effect of extending the average maturity of the borrowing concerned or of increasing the amount of capital outstanding at the date of the refinancing or restructuring.

4.   Financial provisions

(a)   The amounts of macro-financial assistance provided in the form of grants should be consistent with the budget appropriations provided for in the multi-annual financial framework.

(b)   The amounts of macro-financial assistance provided in the form of loans should be provisioned in accordance with the Regulation establishing a Guarantee Fund for external actions. The amounts of the provisions should be consistent with the budget appropriations provided for in the multi-annual financial framework.

(c)   Annual appropriations should be authorised by the budgetary authority within the limits of the multi-annual financial framework.

5.   Amount of the assistance

(a)   The determination of the amount of the assistance should be based on the residual external financing needs of the eligible country or territory, and should take into account its capacity to finance itself with its own resources, and in particular the international reserves at its disposal. Those financing needs should be determined by the Commission in cooperation with international financial institutions, based on a complete quantitative assessment and transparent supporting documentation. In particular, the Commission should draw on the latest balance of payments projections of the IMF for the relevant country or territory and take into account the expected financial contributions from multilateral donors, as well as the pre-existing deployment of the Union's other external financing instruments in that eligible country or territory.

(b)   The Commission documentation should contain information on the projected stock of foreign exchange reserves in the absence of macro-financial assistance compared to levels considered to be adequate, as measured by relevant indicators such as the ratio of reserves to short-term external debt and the ratio of reserves to imports of the beneficiary country.

(c)   The determination of the amount of macro-financial assistance provided should also take into account the need to ensure fair burden sharing between the Union and the other donors and the added value of the overall Union involvement.

(d)   Where the financing needs of the beneficiary decrease fundamentally during the period of disbursement of the macro-financial assistance compared to the initial projections, the Commission should, in accordance with the advisory procedure where the assistance is equal to or below EUR 90 million, and in accordance with the examination procedure where the assistance is above EUR 90 million, reduce the amount of such assistance or suspend or cancel it.

6.   Conditionality

(a)   A pre-condition for granting macro-financial assistance should be that the eligible country or territory respects effective democratic mechanisms, including a multi-party parliamentary system and the rule of law and guarantees respect for human rights. The Commission should provide a publicly available assessment(4) on the fulfilment of this pre-condition and should monitor it throughout the life-cycle of the macro-financial assistance. This point should be applied in accordance with the Decision establishing the organisation and functioning of the EEAS.

(b)   Macro-financial assistance should be conditional on the existence of a non-precautionary credit arrangement between the eligible country or territory and the IMF, which fulfils the following conditions:

—   the objective of the arrangement is consistent with the purpose of the macro-financial assistance, namely to alleviate short-term balance of payment difficulties;

—   the implementation of strong adjustment measures consistent with the aim of macro-financial assistance, as defined in point 1(a).

(c)   The disbursement of the assistance should be conditional on a continuous satisfactory track record in respect of an IMF-supported policy programme and on the fulfilment of the pre-condition referred to in letter (a) of this point. It should also be conditional on the implementation, within a specific time frame, of a series of clearly defined economic policy measures focusing on structural reforms and sound public finances, to be agreed between the Commission and the beneficiary and to be laid down in a Memorandum of Understanding.

(d)   With a view to protecting the Union’s financial interests and reinforcing the beneficiaries' governance, the Memorandum of Understanding should include measures that aim to enhance the efficiency, transparency and accountability of public finance management systems.

(e)   Progress in mutual market opening, the development of rules-based and fair trade and other priorities in the context of the Union's external policy should also be duly taken into account in designing the policy measures.

(f)   The policy measures should be consistent with the existing partnership agreements, cooperation agreements or association agreements concluded between the Union and the beneficiary and with the macroeconomic adjustment and structural reform programmes implemented by the beneficiary with the support of the IMF.

7.   Procedure

(a)   A country or territory seeking macro-financial assistance should make a request in writing to the Commission. The Commission should check whether the conditions referred to in points 1, 2, 4 and 6 are met and, if appropriate, could submit a proposal for a decision to the European Parliament and to the Council.

(b)   The decision to provide a loan should specify the amount, the maximum average maturity and the maximum number of instalments of the macro-financial assistance. If the decision includes a grant element, it should also specify the amount, and the maximum number of instalments. The decision to provide a grant should be accompanied by a justification for the grant (or grant element) of assistance. In both cases, the period during which the macro-financial assistance is available should be defined. As a rule, that availability period should not exceed three years. When submitting a proposal for a new decision to grant macro-financial assistance, the Commission should provide the information referred to in point 12(c).

(c)   Following the adoption of the decision granting macro-financial assistance, the Commission, acting in accordance with the advisory procedure where the assistance is equal to or below EUR 90 million, and in accordance with the examination procedure where the assistance is above EUR 90 million, should agree with the beneficiary, in the Memorandum of Understanding, on the policy measures referred to in points 6(c), (d), (e) and (f).

(d)   Following the adoption of the decision granting macro-financial assistance, the Commission should agree with the beneficiary on the detailed financial terms of the assistance. Those detailed financial terms should be laid down in a Grant or Loan Agreement.

(e)   The Commission should inform the European Parliament and the Council of developments in country-specific assistance, including disbursements thereof, and provide those institutions with the relevant documents in due time.

8.   Implementation and financial management

(a)   The Commission should implement macro-financial assistance in accordance with Union financial rules.

(b)   The implementation of macro-financial assistance should be under direct centralised management.

(c)   Budget commitments should be made on the basis of decisions taken by the Commission in accordance with this point. Where macro-financial assistance extends over a number of financial years, budget commitments for that assistance may be split into annual instalments.

9.   Disbursement of the assistance

(a)   Macro-financial assistance should be disbursed to the central bank of the beneficiary.

(b)   The macro-financial assistance should be disbursed in successive instalments, subject to the fulfilment of the pre-condition referred to in point 6(a) and the conditions referred to in point 6(b) and (c).

(c)   The Commission should verify at regular intervals that the conditions referred to in point 6(b) and (c) continue to be met.

(d)   Where the pre-condition referred to in point 6(a) and the conditions referred to in point 6(b) and (c) are not met, the Commission should temporarily suspend or cancel the disbursement of the macro-financial assistance. In such cases, it should inform the European Parliament and the Council of the reasons for suspension or cancellation.

10.   Support measures

Budgetary funds of the Union may be used to cover expenditure necessary for the implementation of macro-financial assistance.

11.   Protection of the Union’s financial interests

(a)   Any agreements under each country-specific decision should contain provisions ensuring that beneficiaries should regularly check that financing provided from the budget of the Union has been properly used, take appropriate measures to prevent irregularities and fraud, and, if necessary, take legal action to recover any funds provided under each country-specific decision that have been misappropriated.

(b)   Any agreement under a country-specific decision should contain provisions ensuring the protection of the Union’s financial interests, in particular with respect to fraud, corruption and any other irregularities, in accordance with relevant Union law.

(c)   The Memorandum of Understanding referred to in point 6(c) should expressly entitle the Commission and the Court of Auditors to perform audits during and after the availability period of the macro-financial assistance, including document audits and on-the-spot audits such as operational assessments. The Memorandum should also expressly authorise the Commission or its representatives to carry out on-the-spot checks and inspections.

(d)   During the implementation of the macro-financial assistance, the Commission should monitor, by means of operational assessments, the soundness of the beneficiary's financial arrangements, the administrative procedures and the internal and external control mechanisms which are relevant to such assistance.

(e)   Any agreement under a country-specific decision should contain provisions ensuring that the Union is entitled to the full repayment of the grant and/or the early repayment of the loan where it has been established that, in relation to the management of macro-financial assistance, a beneficiary has engaged in an act of fraud or corruption or any other illegal activity detrimental to the financial interests of the Union.

12.   Annual report

(a)   The Commission should examine the progress made in implementing macro-financial assistance and should submit an annual report to the European Parliament and the Council by 30 June of each year.

(b)   The annual report should assess the economic situation and prospects of the beneficiaries, as well as the progress made in implementing the policy measures referred to in point 6(c).

(c)   It should also provide updated information on the available budgetary resources in the form of loans and grants, taking into account operations that are being envisaged.

13.   Evaluation

(a)   The Commission should send ex-post evaluation reports to the European Parliament and the Council, assessing the results and efficiency of recently-completed macro-financial assistance operations and the extent to which they have contributed to the aims of the assistance.

(b)   The Commission should regularly, and at least every four years, evaluate the provision of the macro-financial assistance, providing the European Parliament and the Council with a detailed overview of macro-financial assistance. The purpose of such evaluations should be to ascertain whether the objectives of the macro-financial assistance have been met and whether the conditions of the macro-financial assistance, including the threshold set out in point 7(c), continue to be met, as well as to enable the Commission to make recommendations for the improvement of future operations. In its evaluation, the Commission should also assess the cooperation with European or multilateral financial institutions when providing macro-financial assistance.

(1) OJ C 377 E, 7.12.2012, p. 211.
(2) Texts adopted of 11.12.2012, P7_TA (2012)0472.
(3) OJ C 291 E, 10.5.2012, p. 1.
(4) This assessment will be based on the annual report on human rights and democracy in the world foreseen in the EU Strategic Framework and Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy (Council Conclusions on Human Rights and Democracy, 25 June 2012).


Attacks against information systems ***I
PDF 195k   DOC 55k
Resolution
Consolidated text
European Parliament legislative resolution of 4 July 2013 on the proposal for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on attacks against information systems and repealing Council Framework Decision 2005/222/JHA (COM(2010)0517 – C7-0293/2010 – 2010/0273(COD) ) (Ordinary legislative procedure: first reading)
P7_TA(2013)0321 A7-0224/2013

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to the Commission proposal to Parliament and the Council (COM(2010)0517 ),

–   having regard to Article 294(2) and Article 83(1) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, pursuant to which the Commission submitted the proposal to Parliament (C7‑0293/2010 ),

–   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 4 May 2011(1) ,

–   having regard to the undertaking given by the Council representative by letter of 21 June 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 Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs and the opinions of the Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (A7-0224/2013 ),

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 4 July 2013 with a view to the adoption of Directive 2013/.../EU of the European Parliament and of the Council on attacks against information systems and replacing Council Framework Decision 2005/222/JHA

P7_TC1-COD(2010)0273


(As an agreement was reached between Parliament and Council, Parliament's position corresponds to the final legislative act, Directive 2013/40/EU.)

(1) OJ C 218, 23.7.2011, p. 130.


US NSA surveillance programme, surveillance bodies in various Member States and impact on EU citizens' privacy
PDF 219k   DOC 51k
European Parliament resolution of 4 July 2013 on the US National Security Agency surveillance programme, surveillance bodies in various Member States and their impact on EU citizens’ privacy (2013/2682(RSP) )
P7_TA(2013)0322 B7-0336 , 0337 , 0342 and 0343/2013

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to Articles 2, 3, 6 and 7 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU) and to Article 16 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU),

–   having regard to the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union and to the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECHR),

–   having regard to Council of Europe Convention 108 of 28 January 1981 for the Protection of Individuals with regard to Automatic Processing of Personal Data and the additional protocol thereto of 8 November 2001,

–   having regard to EU law on the right to privacy and data protection, in particular Directive 95/46/EC on the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data and to the free movement of such data, Framework Decision 2008/977/JHA on the protection of personal data processed in the framework of police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters, Directive 2002/58/EC on privacy and electronic communications, and Regulation (EC) No 45/2001 on the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data by the Community institutions and bodies and on the free movement of such data,

–   having regard to the Commission proposals for a regulation and for a directive on the reform of the data protection regime in the EU,

–   having regard to the EU-US Mutual Legal Assistance Agreement allowing exchange of data for the prevention and investigation of criminal activities, to the Convention on Cybercrime (CETS No 185), to the EU-US Safe Harbour Agreement (2000/520/EC) and to the current revision of the Safe Harbour scheme,

–   having regard to the US Patriot Act and to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), including Section 702 of the 2008 FIS Amendment Act (FISAAA),

–   having regard to the ongoing negotiations on an EU-US framework agreement on the protection of personal data when transferred and processed for police and judicial cooperation purposes,

–   having regard to its previous resolutions on the right to privacy and data protection, in particular that of 5 September 2001 on the existence of a global system for the interception of private and commercial communications (Echelon interception system)(1) ,

–   having regard to the statements by the President of the European Council, Herman van Rompuy, the President of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, the Vice‑President of the Commission / Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship, Viviane Reding, and the Vice‑President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Catherine Ashton,

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

A.   whereas the transatlantic partnership between the EU and the US must be based on mutual trust and respect, loyal and mutual cooperation, respect for fundamental rights and the rule of law;

B.   whereas the Member States are obliged to respect the fundamental rights and values enshrined in Article 2 TEU and in the Charter of Fundamental Rights;

C.   whereas adherence to these principles is currently in doubt after reports in the international press in June 2013 revealed evidence that, through programmes such as PRISM, the US authorities are accessing and processing on a large scale the personal data of EU citizens using US online service providers;

D.   whereas this doubt concerns not only the actions of US authorities, but also those of several EU Member States, which according to the international press have cooperated with PRISM and other such programmes or obtained access to the databases created;

E.   whereas, furthermore, several Member States have surveillance programmes of a similar nature to PRISM or are discussing the setting-up of such programmes;

F.   whereas particular questions have been raised regarding the compatibility with EU law of the practice of the UK intelligence agency Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) directly tapping into undersea transatlantic cables carrying electronic communications, under a programme codenamed Tempora; whereas other Member States reportedly access transnational electronic communications without a regular warrant but on the basis of special courts, share data with other countries (Sweden), and may enhance their surveillance capabilities (the Netherlands, Germany); whereas concerns have been expressed in other Member States in relation to the interception powers of secret services (Poland);

G.   whereas there are indications that EU institutions and EU and Member State embassies and representations have been subjected to US surveillance and spying activities;

H.   whereas Commissioner Reding has written a letter to the US Attorney General, Eric Holder, raising European concerns and asking for clarification and explanations regarding PRISM and other such programmes involving data collection and searching, and the laws under which such programmes may be authorised; whereas a full response from the US authorities is still pending, despite the discussions which took place at the EU-US Justice Ministerial meeting in Dublin on 14 June 2013;

I.   whereas, under the Safe Harbour Agreement, the Member States and the Commission are entrusted with the duty of guaranteeing the security and integrity of personal data; whereas the companies involved in the PRISM case, as reported in the international press, are all parties to the Safe Harbour Agreement; whereas, under Article 3 of that agreement, the Commission has a duty, should the provisions of the agreement not be complied with, to reverse or suspend it;

J.   whereas the EU-US Mutual Legal Assistance Agreement, as ratified by the Union and the US Congress, stipulates modalities for gathering and exchanging information, and for requesting and providing assistance in obtaining evidence located in one country to assist in criminal investigations or proceedings in another;

K.   whereas it would be unfortunate if the efforts to conclude a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), which demonstrates the commitment to further strengthen the partnership between the EU and the US, were to be affected by the recent allegations;

L.   whereas on 14 June 2013 Commissioner Malmström announced the setting-up of a transatlantic group of experts;

M.   whereas Commissioner Reding has written to the UK authorities to express concern about media reports on the Tempora programme and asking for clarification of its scope and operation; whereas the UK authorities have defended the GCHQ’s surveillance activities and affirmed that they operate under strict and lawful guidelines;

N.   whereas data protection reform is under way at EU level, through the revision of Directive 95/46/EC and its replacement with the proposed general Data Protection Regulation and the Data Protection Directive on the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data by competent authorities for the purposes of prevention, investigation, detection or prosecution of criminal offences or the execution of criminal penalties, and the free movement of such data;

1.   Expresses, while confirming its ongoing support for transatlantic efforts in the fight against terrorism and organised crime, serious concern over PRISM and other such programmes, since, should the information available up to now be confirmed, they may entail a serious violation of the fundamental right of EU citizens and residents to privacy and data protection, as well as of the right to private and family life, the confidentiality of communications, the presumption of innocence, freedom of expression, freedom of information, and the freedom to conduct business;

2.   Strongly condemns the spying on EU representations as, should the information available up to now be confirmed, it would imply a serious violation of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, in addition to its potential impact on transatlantic relations; calls for immediate clarification from the US authorities on the matter;

3.   Calls on the US authorities to provide the EU, without undue delay, with full information on PRISM and other such programmes involving data collection, in particular as regards their legal basis, necessity and proportionality and the safeguards implemented to protect the fundamental rights of EU citizens, such as limitation of scope and duration, conditions for access, and independent supervision, as provided for under the Convention on Cybercrime and as requested by Commissioner Reding in her letter of 10 June 2013 to Attorney General Eric Holder; calls on the US authorities to suspend and review any laws and surveillance programmes that violate the fundamental right of EU citizens to privacy and data protection, the sovereignty and jurisdiction of the EU and its Member States, and the Convention on Cybercrime;

4.   Calls on the Commission, the Council and the Member States to give consideration to all the instruments at their disposal in discussions and negotiations with the US, at both political and expert level, in order to achieve the above-mentioned objectives, including the possible suspension of the passenger name record (PNR) and terrorist finance tracking programme (TFTP) agreements;

5.   Demands that the transatlantic expert group, as announced by Commissioner Malmström and in which Parliament will participate, be granted an appropriate level of security clearance and access to all relevant documents in order to be able to conduct its work properly and within a set deadline; further demands that Parliament be adequately represented in this expert group;

6.  Calls on the Commission and the US authorities to resume, without delay, the negotiations on the framework agreement on the protection of personal data when transferred and processed for police and judicial cooperation purposes; calls on the Commission, during these negotiations, to make sure that the agreement meets at least the following criteria:

   (a) granting EU citizens the right to information when their data is processed in the US;
   (b) ensuring that EU citizens’ access to the US judicial system is equal to that enjoyed by US citizens;
   (c) granting the right to redress, in particular;

7.   Calls on the Commission to ensure that EU data protection standards, and the negotiations on the current EU data protection package, are not undermined as a result of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) with the US;

8.   Calls on the Commission to conduct a full review of the Safe Harbour Agreement in the light of the recent revelations, under Article 3 of that agreement;

9.   Expresses serious concern at the revelations relating to the alleged surveillance programmes run by Member States, either with the help of the US National Security Agency or unilaterally; calls on all the Member States to examine the compatibility of such programmes with EU primary and secondary law, in particular Article 16 TFEU on data protection, and with the EU’s fundamental rights obligations deriving from the ECHR and the constitutional traditions common to the Member States;

10.   Stresses that all companies providing services in the EU must comply with EU law without exception and are liable for any breaches;

11.   Stresses that companies falling under third-country jurisdiction should provide users located in the EU with a clear and distinguishable warning concerning the possibility of personal data being processed by law enforcement and intelligence agencies following secret orders or injunctions;

12.   Regrets the fact that the Commission has dropped the former Article 42 of the leaked version of the Data Protection Regulation; calls on the Commission to clarify why it decided to do so; calls on the Council to follow Parliament’s approach and reinsert such a provision;

13.   Stresses that in democratic and open states based on the rule of law, citizens have a right to know about serious violations of their fundamental rights and to denounce them, including those involving their own government; stresses the need for procedures allowing whistleblowers to unveil serious violations of fundamental rights and the need to provide such people with the necessary protection, including at international level; expresses its continued support for investigative journalism and media freedom;

14.   Calls on the Council, as a matter of urgency, to accelerate its work on the whole of the Data Protection Package, and specifically on the proposed Data Protection Directive;

15.   Stresses the need to set up a European equivalent of the mixed parliamentary-judicial control and inquiry committees on intelligence services that currently exist in some Member States;

16.  Instructs its Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs to conduct an in‑depth inquiry into the matter in collaboration with national parliaments and the EU-US expert group set up by the Commission and to report back by the end of the year, by:

   (a) gathering all relevant information and evidence from both US and EU sources (fact‑finding);
   (b) investigating the alleged surveillance activities of US authorities as well as any carried out by certain Member States (mapping of responsibilities);
   (c) assessing the impact of surveillance programmes as regards: the fundamental rights of EU citizens (in particular the right to respect for private life and communications, freedom of expression, the presumption of innocence and the right to an effective remedy); actual data protection both within the EU and for EU citizens outside the EU, focusing in particular on the effectiveness of EU law in respect of extraterritoriality mechanisms; the safety of the EU in the era of cloud computing; the added value and proportionality of such programmes with regard to the fight against terrorism; the external dimension of the area of freedom, security and justice (assessing the validity of adequacy decisions for EU transfers to third countries, such as those carried out under the Safe Harbour Agreement, international agreements and other legal instruments providing for legal assistance and cooperation) (damage and risk analysis);
   (d) exploring the most appropriate mechanisms for redress in the event of confirmed violations (administrative and judicial redress and compensation schemes);
   (e) putting forward recommendations aimed at preventing further violations, and ensuring credible, high-level protection of EU citizens’ personal data via adequate means, in particular the adoption of a fully-fledged data protection package (policy recommendations and law‑making);
   (f) issuing recommendations aimed at strengthening IT security in the EU’s institutions, bodies and agencies by means of proper internal security rules for communication systems, in order to prevent and remedy unauthorised access and the disclosure or loss of information and personal data (remedying of security breaches);

17.   Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Commission, the Council, the Council of Europe, the parliaments of the Member States, the US President, the US Senate and House of Representatives and the US Secretaries for Homeland Security and Justice.

(1) OJ C 72 E, 21.3.2002, p. 221.


Practical arrangements for the holding of the European elections in 2014
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European Parliament resolution of 4 July 2013 on improving the practical arrangements for the holding of the European elections in 2014 (2013/2102(INI) )
P7_TA(2013)0323 A7-0219/2013

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to Articles 10 and 17(7) of the Treaty on European Union,

–   having regard to Article 22(2) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

–   having regard to Articles 11, 12(2) and 39 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights,

–   having regard to the Act concerning the election of the members of the European Parliament by direct universal suffrage annexed to the Council decision of 20 September 1976, as amended(1) ,

–   having regard to Declaration 11 annexed to the Lisbon Treaty on Article 17(6) and (7) of the Treaty on European Union,

–   having regard to Directive 93/109/EC and its amending Directive 2013/1/EU, which lay down detailed arrangements for the exercise of the right to vote and stand as a candidate in elections to the European Parliament for citizens of the Union residing in a Member State of which they are not nationals,

–   having regard to the Commission communication of 12 March 2013 entitled ‘Preparing for the 2014 European elections: further enhancing their democratic and efficient conduct’ (COM(2013)0126 ),

–   having regard to the Commission recommendation of 12 March 2013 on enhancing the democratic and efficient conduct of the elections to the European Parliament, addressed to the Member States and the European and national political parties (C(2013)1303),

–   having regard to its resolution of 22 November 2012 on the elections to the European Parliament in 2014(2) ,

–   having regard to its resolution of 13 March 2013 on the composition of the Parliament with a view to the elections in 2014(3) ,

–   having regard to Rules 41, 48 and 105 of its Rules of Procedure,

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on Constitutional Affairs (A7-0219/2013 ),

A.   whereas it has been agreed that the polling days of the election are to be brought forward to 22-25 May 2014 and, therefore, that the constitutive session of the new Parliament will take place on 1 July 2014;

B.   whereas citizens are directly represented at Union level in the European Parliament;

C.   whereas every citizen has the right to participate in the democratic life of the Union;

D.   whereas political parties at European level are actors in the European political sphere; whereas they contribute to forming European political awareness and to expressing the will of the citizens of the Union;

E.   whereas the 2014 elections will be the first to take place after the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty – which widens significantly the powers of the European Parliament, including its role in the election of the President of the Commission – and, accordingly, will provide a key opportunity to increase the transparency of the elections and strengthen their European dimension;

F.   whereas the major European political parties appear ready to nominate their own candidates for the Presidency of the Commission, in the expectation that those candidates will play a leading role in the parliamentary electoral campaign, in particular by personally presenting their political programme in all the EU Member States;

G.   whereas internal party democracy and high standards of openness and integrity on the part of political parties are an essential basis for increasing public trust in the political system;

H.   whereas the resolution of the current crisis of governance in the EU requires a fuller democratic legitimation of the integration process;

I.   whereas Union citizens have the right to stand and vote in the European Parliamentary elections even when residing in a Member State other than their own;

J.   whereas electoral campaigns continue to focus primarily on national issues, pushing debate on specifically European issues into the background, which has a negative impact on the level of participation in elections to the European Parliament;

K.   whereas turnout at the elections is likely to be enhanced by a lively political campaign in which political parties and their candidates compete for votes and seats on the basis of alternative programmes which address the European dimension of politics;

L.   whereas repeated opinion polls suggest that a large majority would be inclined to vote if they were better informed about the European Parliament, the political parties, their programmes and candidates; whereas all media outlets are therefore encouraged to bring maximum attention to the elections;

M.   whereas the President of the European Commission is elected by Parliament on the proposal of the European Council, which must take into account the results of the elections and must consult the new Parliament before making its nomination(s);

N.   whereas the detailed arrangements for the consultations between Parliament and the European Council on the election of the Commission President may, according to Declaration 11 annexed to the Lisbon Treaty, be determined ‘by common accord’;

1.   Calls on the political parties to ensure that the names of the candidates selected to stand for election to the European Parliament are made public at least six weeks before the start of polling;

2.   Expects the candidates to commit themselves, if elected, to taking up their mandates to serve as Members of the European Parliament, unless appointed to a post which renders them ineligible pursuant to Article 7 of the Act on the direct election of the European Parliament (1976);

3.   Calls on the Member States and the political parties to press for a higher proportion of women on the lists of candidates and, as far as possible, to encourage the drafting of lists that ensure equal representation;

4.   Urges the Member States and political parties to see to it that the names – and, where appropriate, the emblems – of the European political parties appear on the ballot paper;

5.   Asks the European political parties to nominate their candidates for the Commission presidency sufficiently well in advance of the election for them to be able to mount a significant, European-wide campaign that concentrates on European issues that are based on the party platform and on the programme of their candidate for the Commission presidency;

6.   Insists that political parties at all levels adopt democratic and transparent procedures for the selection of candidates for election to the European Parliament and for the Presidency of the Commission;

7.   Calls on the national political parties to inform citizens, before and during the electoral campaign, about their affiliation with a European political party and their support for its candidate for the Commission presidency and for his or her political programme;

8.   Encourages the Member States to permit political broadcasts by the European political parties;

9.   Urges the European political parties to hold a series of public debates between the candidates nominated for the Commission presidency;

10.   Recommends that the Member States take all necessary steps to give effective implementation to the measures agreed on to assist citizens who wish to vote or stand as candidates in states other than their own;

11.   Calls on the Member States to organise a public campaign to encourage citizens to turn out to vote, with the aim of halting falling participation rates;

12.   Encourages national political parties to include on their lists of candidates EU citizens residing in Member States other than their own;

13.   Insists that, pursuant to Article 10(2) of the Act on the direct election of the European Parliament, no official result shall be published in any Member State until after the close of poll in the Member State whose electors are the last to vote on Sunday 25 May 2014;

14.   Proposes that detailed arrangements for the consultations between Parliament and the European Council on the election of the new Commission President should be agreed by common accord in good time before the elections;

15.   Expects that, in this process, the candidate for Commission President put forward by the European political party that wins the most seats in the Parliament will be the first to be considered, with a view to ascertaining his or her ability to secure the support of the necessary absolute majority in Parliament;

16.   Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the European Council, the Council, the Commission, the parliaments of the Member States and the European political parties.

(1) Council Decision 76/787/ECSC, EEC, Euratom (OJ L 278, 8.10.1976, p. 1) as amended by Council Decision 93/81/Euratom, ECSC, EEC (OJ L 33, 9.2.1993, p. 15) and by Council Decision 2002/772/EC, Euratom (OJ L 283, 21.10.2002, p. 1).
(2) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2012)0462 .
(3) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0082 .


Arms exports: implementation of Council Common Position 2008/944/CFSP
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European Parliament resolution of 4 July 2013 on arms exports: implementation of Council Common Position 2008/944/CFSP (2013/2657(RSP) )
P7_TA(2013)0324 B7-0260 , 0262 and 0267/2013

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to Council Common Position 2008/944/CFSP of 8 December 2008 defining common rules governing control of exports of military technology and equipment(1) ,

–   having regard to the ongoing process, within the Council Working Party on Conventional Arms Exports (COARM), of reviewing the Common Position, which, pursuant to Article 15 thereof, must be reviewed three years after its adoption,

–   having regard to Directive 2009/43/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 6 May 2009 simplifying terms and conditions of transfers of defence-related products within the Community(2) ,

–   having regard to Council Joint Action 2002/589/CFSP of 12 July 2002 on the European Union’s contribution to combating the destabilising accumulation and spread of small arms and light weapons and repealing Joint Action 1999/34/CFSP(3) , and to the EU Strategy to combat illicit accumulation and trafficking of small arms and light weapons and their ammunition, adopted by the European Council on 15-16 December 2005(4) ,

–   having regard to COARM’s Thirteenth(5) and Fourteenth(6) Annual Reports,

–   having regard to the United Nations international Arms Trade Treaty establishing common binding standards for the global trade in conventional arms,

–   having regard to its resolution of 13 June 2012 on the negotiations on the UN Arms Trade Treaty(7) ,

–   having regard to Article 42 of the Treaty on European Union and to Article 346 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

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

A.   whereas arms exports can have an impact not only on security but also on development, making it important to strengthen the European Union’s export control policy for military technology and equipment;

B.   whereas Common Position 2008/944/CFSP is a legally binding framework laying down eight criteria, and whereas, if they are not met, an export licence should be denied (criteria 1-4) or consideration should at least be given to doing so (criteria 5-8);

C.   whereas, under Article 3 of the Common Position, the eight criteria set minimum standards only and are without prejudice to more restrictive arms control measures by Member States; whereas decisions on whether or not to issue arms export licences in accordance with the criteria are, in every case, a matter for individual Member States;

D.   whereas Article 10 of the Common Position clearly states that the Member States, where appropriate, may also take into account the effect of proposed exports on their economic, social, commercial and industrial interests, and whereas these factors must not affect the application of the eight criteria;

E.   whereas according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), the EU Member States, taken as a whole, are the world’s second-largest arms exporter, only slightly behind the United States, and whereas a growing proportion of arms are being delivered to countries outside the EU;

F.   whereas the main extra-EU destinations of arms transfers by the Member States are the Middle East, North America and Asia; whereas the main country recipients are Saudi Arabia, the United States and the United Arab Emirates;

G.   whereas the European industry tries to compensate for the decreasing European defence demand by seeking access to third country markets, and whereas that is being backed by many politicians and political parties as a contribution towards strengthening European defence industries, technological know-how, security of supply, and preparedness; whereas research and development in the defence industries have an important spill-over effect contributing to numerous civilian applications;

H.   whereas significant progress has been made on reaching agreement between the Member States with regard to applying and interpreting the Common Position’s eight criteria, principally thanks to the Common Position User’s Guide, drawn up by COARM, which gives detailed definitions of best practices with regard to the application of the criteria;

1.   Applauds the fact that the EU has a legally binding framework, unique in the world, through which arms export control is being improved, including in crisis regions and countries with questionable human rights records, and welcomes the fact, in this connection, that European and non-European third countries have joined the arms exports control system on the basis of the Common Position; notes, however, that the eight criteria are applied and interpreted with varying degrees of rigour in the EU Member States; calls, therefore, for more uniform interpretation and implementation of the Common Position with all its obligations and regrets that the EU still does not have a common policy on arms transfers to third countries;

2.   Maintains that the EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy and the Common Position should not be at variance; considers that it is up to the Member States and the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy to ensure the coherence of the Common Position and foreign policy;

3.   Emphasises the right of Member States to proceed in accordance with their national policies, while complying fully with international law and agreements, and commonly agreed rules and criteria, such compliance being controlled in accordance with national regulations;

4.   Is of the opinion that the European Parliament, national parliaments or specific parliamentary bodies must ensure effective control of the application and enforcement of the Common Position’s agreed standards at national and EU level and of the establishment of a transparent, accountable control system;

5.   Is of the opinion that the language of the User’s Guide should be more accurate and less subject to interpretation and that it should continue to be updated when needed;

6.   Calls for the criteria of the Common Position to be better applied before new ones are suggested;

7.   Recognises the coherent and consistent role played by EU Member States in support of the international process to establish binding rules governing the international arms trade; urges the EU and its Member States to focus their efforts on those countries which remain outside of international agreements;

8.   Notes that COARM’s annual reports have made Member States’ arms exports more transparent; considers it regrettable, however, that data sets are incomplete and vary on account of individual Member States’ differing data collection and submission procedures; reminds the Member States to make a full, annual submission of information on their arms transfers to COARM as agreed and laid down in the Common Position;

9.   Calls for an analysis of how the Common Position is implemented in national systems; is of the opinion that COARM’s capacity to analyse arms export control should be strengthened;

10.   Takes the view that the Common Position should be complemented by a regularly updated, publicly accessible list providing information on the extent to which exports to particular recipient countries are, or are not, in line with the eight criteria;

11.   Is of the opinion that an improved system allowing for regular, up-to-date exchanges of information between Member States on arms transfers to ex-embargo states should be set up;

12.   Calls for an annual debate in Parliament, together with an annual report, on the implementation of the Common Position, so as to ensure the appropriate degree of parliamentary oversight and transparency at European level;

13.   Welcomes the conclusion, under the auspices of the United Nations, of a legally binding Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) on international trade in conventional arms, creating an effective international arms control system through greater transparency and accountability, and establishing the highest international standards, thus making the irresponsible and illicit use of conventional arms ever more difficult; recognises the coherent and consistent role played by the EU and its Member States in support of the international process to establish binding rules governing the international arms trade;

14.   Stresses the importance of effective, credible implementation of the ATT, and encourages the Member States to focus their international effort on moves towards universal sign-up and early entry into force;

15.   Instructs its President to forward this resolution to 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 Member States and the Secretary-General of the United Nations.

(1) OJ L 335, 13.12.2008, p. 99.
(2) OJ L 146, 10.6.2009, p. 1.
(3) OJ L 191, 19.7.2002, p. 1.
(4) Council of the European Union, 05319/2006, 13.1.2006.
(5) OJ C 382, 30.12.2011, p. 1.
(6) OJ C 386, 14.12.2012, p. 1.
(7) P7_TA(2012)0251 .


Opening of negotiations on a plurilateral agreement on services
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European Parliament resolution of 4 July 2013 on the opening of negotiations on a plurilateral agreement on services (2013/2583(RSP) )
P7_TA(2013)0325 B7-0314/2013

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to its previous report on services, in particular its resolution of 4 September 2008 on trade in services(1) ,

–   having regard to its previous resolutions on the state of the Doha Development Agenda (DDA) and on the future of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), in particular its resolutions of 16 December 2009 on the prospects for the Doha Development Agenda following the Seventh WTO Ministerial Conference(2) and of 14 September 2011 on the state of play of the negotiations on the Doha Development Agenda(3) ,

–   having regard to its resolution of 13 December 2011 on trade and investment barriers(4) ,

–   having regard to Protocol No 26 to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union on services of general interest and to the Charter of Fundamental Rights,

–   having regard to the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) that entered into force on 1 January 1995; having regard to its resolution of 12 March 2003 on the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) within the WTO, including cultural diversity(5) ,

–   having regard to the draft negotiating directives for a plurilateral agreement on trade in services, submitted by the Commission on 15 February 2013,

–   having regard to the Commission Communication entitled ‘Trade, Growth and World Affairs – Trade Policy as a core component of the EU’s 2020 strategy’(6) ,

–   having regard to the Commission report to the European Council entitled ‘Trade and Investment Barriers Report 2012’(7) ,

–   having regard to the report of 21 April 2011 by the Chairman of the WTO’s Council for Trade in Services, Ambassador Fernando de Mateo, to its Trade Negotiations Committee concerning the special session of negotiations on trade in services(8) ,

–   having regard to the statement issued by the ‘Really Good Friends of Services’ (RGF) group on 5 July 2012,

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

A.   whereas services account for almost three quarters of the EU’s GDP and employment and are crucial to maintaining and enhancing its competitiveness;

B.   whereas services accounted for 28 % of the EU’s exports in 2011 and more than half of its foreign direct investment in third countries as of 2011;

C.   whereas the EU plays an important role in trade in services as the biggest exporter of services worldwide, accounting for 25,65 % of total world services exports as of 2011;

D.   whereas all countries should be in a position to develop, maintain and regulate public services in the general interest;

E.   whereas 129 WTO members have made commitments under the GATS, but whereas most of these countries have not made commitments in all sectors;

F.   whereas the current economic and financial situation has highlighted more than ever the fundamental role of public services in the European Union; whereas in areas such as healthcare, childcare, care for the elderly, assistance to disabled persons and social housing, these services provide an essential safety net for citizens and help promote social cohesion; whereas public services in the field of education, training and employment services play a key role in the growth and jobs agenda;

G.   whereas, at the time of the 6th WTO Ministerial Conference held in Hong Kong in 2005, barely 30 countries had tabled new services offers, and whereas multilateral negotiations on services have barely moved forward since July 2008;

H.   whereas, in the wake of the economic crisis of 2008 and 2009, new protectionist measures have been introduced to restrict trade in services;

I.   whereas preliminary talks over the format and architecture of a Trade In Services Agreement (TISA) took place in 2012 among the members of the RGF group;

J.   whereas the 21 WTO members(9) negotiating with the EU are mostly OECD countries and represent 70 % of global cross-border trade in services (excluding intra-EU trade in services) and 58 % of EU trade in commercial services; whereas the parties to these negotiations do not so far include any BRICS countries, any Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) members or any African, Caribbean or Pacific countries;

K.   whereas the Commission submitted draft negotiating directives to the Council on 15 February 2013 and received a mandate on 18 March 2013 to take part in the TISA negotiations;

1.   Considers that the multilateral trading system, embodied by the WTO, remains the most effective framework for achieving open and fair trade worldwide; agrees, however, that, on account of the stalemate acknowledged during the 8th WTO Ministerial Conference in December 2011, new bilateral and plurilateral initiatives to give impetus to trade negotiations in Geneva were necessary; stresses, however, the necessity of all new initiatives remaining anchored in the framework of the WTO;

2.   Regrets the fact that limited attention has been paid to trade in services since the beginning of the Doha Round; stresses that services represent the backbone of economies and trade in the 21st century, since the emergence of global value chains relies on the supply of services; emphasises the importance of services of general interest in providing essential safety nets for citizens and promoting social cohesion at the municipal, regional, state and EU level;

3.   Deplores the fact that the GATS schedules of the WTO’s membership have become outdated and do not reflect the actual level of barriers to trade in services in these countries, especially those which have undertaken substantial autonomous liberalisation, and the fact that the WTO’s membership still shows very disparate and unclear levels of liberalisation and of disciplines in their commitments regarding trade in services;

4.   Welcomes the opening of negotiations on a TISA and the EU’s participation in these talks from the start in order to promote its interests and defend its views on the agreement’s format and architecture; believes that the EU’s participation can foster coherence between the TISA and the multilateral system and contribute to safeguarding appropriate parliamentary scrutiny of the negotiation process;

5.   Regrets the fact that the Council granted a mandate without having taken Parliament’s view into consideration;

6.   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);

7.   Calls on the Commission to ensure that the TISA negotiations are conducted in accordance with the WTO rules on transparency and communicated to the entire WTO membership in a timely and fully informative manner;

8.   Believes that a critical mass has not been reached which would allow the benefits of this future TISA to be extended to the whole of the WTO’s membership, and consequently that the most-favoured nation clause of the GATS(10) should not apply to the TISA;

9.   Notes with concern, however, that the negotiating parties do not include emerging markets (except Turkey), notably the BRICS, where the growth in trading and investment in services lies and where the barriers, in particular to foreign investment, are the most substantial; invites, therefore, China and other emerging economies to join in the negotiations;

10.   Takes the view that keeping open the possibility for other countries, including emerging economies, to be part of these negotiations should not cause the level of ambition of this agreement to be lowered, since only a high degree of liberalisation and of convergence of disciplines could convince those countries to join in the negotiations;

11.   Recommends that, in order to keep open the possibility of ‘multilateralising’ the future TISA, its design should follow the GATS format and architecture, including the concept of positive listing of commitments, and take up the fundamental definitions and principles set out in the GATS, along with its rules on national treatment, market access and disciplines;

12.  Urges the Commission to formulate a starting offer close to its last GATS scheduling offer and to aim at the following goals when negotiating market access commitments:

   ensuring a more level playing field by reducing imbalances in GATS commitments across parties, sectors and modes;
   promoting an ambitious agenda for the EU’s offensive interests, in particular as regards business services, ICT services, financial and legal services, e-commerce, maritime and air transport services, environmental services, tourism and construction; defending the EU’s interests in third country markets while including in the TISA the GATS’ prudential carve-out allowing participating countries to undertake domestic regulation of financial markets and products for prudential purposes; calling for the GATS’ prudential carve-out for financial services to be included in the TISA so as to allow the parties to the agreement to take measures for prudential reasons, notwithstanding any other provisions of the TISA;
   defending European sensitivities regarding public services and services of general interest (as defined in the EU Treaties), in the areas of public education, public health, water supply and waste management and by continuing, as is the case under the GATS and bilateral FTAs, not to make any commitments in relation to audiovisual services or cultural services;
   preventing commitments and rules regarding financial services that would contradict recent measures to regulate financial markets and products;
   taking a cautious approach to the offers exchanged in ‘Mode 4’, bearing in mind that the EU has offensive interests in high-skilled labour and that the EU should, above all, reassert under the TISA that the temporary movement of natural persons to supply a service under Mode 4 must comply with national labour and social rights and collective agreements, and that, as under the GATS, no Party shall be prevented from applying measures to regulate the entry of natural persons within its territory, provided that such measures do not nullify the benefits accruing from the commitments of the Parties;
   retaining neutrality as to the public or private nature of the ownership of the economic operators covered by commitments;
   ensuring that any liberalisation of data flows is wholly consistent with the acquis communautaire in relation to privacy and data protection;

13.   Notes that the EU has already concluded, or is in the process of negotiating, bilateral trade agreements with some of the partners in the TISA negotiations (including Japan and soon the US), containing strong services chapters in which country-specific bilateral issues are better addressed; believes that, in terms of market access, the stakes for the EU in these negotiations lie with the other partners (e.g. Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, Taiwan and Turkey);

14.   Stresses that the inclusion of the standstill and ratchet principles in the schedules should allow the parties’ commitments to be bound to current levels and to lead to further progressive opening;

15.   Believes that the TISA should feature stronger regulatory disciplines for transparency, competition, licensing requirements and sector-specific regulations, notwithstanding the right for countries to adopt regulations which are duly justified on public policy grounds(11) ;

16.   Considers it essential for the EU and its Member States to retain 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; welcomes, therefore, the exclusion by the Council of cultural and audiovisual services from the negotiating mandate;

17.   Stresses that this negotiation represents an opportunity to improve the rules on public procurement(12) and subsidies(13) in services, on which the GATS negotiations have stalled;

18.   Takes the view that the TISA should include an accession clause, provisions defining the conditions and procedures for ‘multilateralising’ the agreement to the whole of the WTO’s membership, and a specific dispute settlement mechanism, without prejudice to the possibility of recourse to the general WTO dispute settlement mechanism;

19.   Notes that the EU’s negotiating mandate was proposed by the Commission and adopted by the Council without any impact assessment; insists that the Commission follow up on its intention to prepare a sustainability impact assessment and that it must do so in consultation with the relevant stakeholders as regards social, environmental and other concerns; demands that the Commission publish the sustainability impact assessment with a view to taking its conclusions into account in the negotiations;

20.   Sees a two-year timeline for concluding such negotiations as very ambitious; emphasises that quality should prevail over time, and insists that the negotiations must be transparent and must provide the necessary room and time for informed public and parliamentary debate;

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

(1) OJ C 295 E, 4.12.2009, p. 67.
(2) OJ C 286 E, 22.10.2010, p. 1.
(3) OJ C 51 E, 22.2.2013, p. 84.
(4) OJ C 168 E, 14.6.2013, p. 1.
(5) OJ C 61 E, 10.3.2004, p. 289.
(6) COM(2010)0612 .
(7) COM(2012)0070 .
(8) TN/S/36.
(9) Australia, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Hong Kong, Israel, Japan, Korea, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Switzerland, Taiwan, Turkey and the United States.
(10) Article II of the GATS.
(11) Articles XIV and XIV bis of the GATS.
(12) Article XIII of the GATS.
(13) Article XV of the GATS.


Increase in Norwegian duties on agricultural products
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European Parliament resolution of 4 July 2013 on the increase in Norwegian duties on agricultural products (2013/2547(RSP) )
P7_TA(2013)0326 B7-0327/2013

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to Article 19 of the Agreement on the European Economic Area (EEA Agreement),

–   having regard to the Agreement in the form of an Exchange of Letters between the European Union and the Kingdom of Norway concerning additional trade preferences in agricultural products reached on the basis of Article 19 of the Agreement on the European Economic Area (the Bilateral Agreement)(1) ,

–   having regard to its position of 13 September 2011 on the draft Council decision on the conclusion of the Agreement in the form of an Exchange of Letters between the European Union and the Kingdom of Norway concerning additional trade preferences in agricultural products reached on the basis of Article 19 of the Agreement on the European Economic Area(2) ,

–   having regard to the letter of 9 March 2011 from the Minister of Trade and Industry of Norway to the Commissioner for Internal Market and Services, concerning the Single Market Act,

–   having regard to the conclusions of the 38th meeting of the EEA Council of 26 November 2012,

–   having regard to the question to the Commission on the ‘Significant increase in Norwegian duties on agricultural products’ (O-000048/2013 – B7‑0210/2013 ),

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

A.   whereas according to Article 19 of the EEA Agreement, ‘The Contracting Parties undertake to continue their efforts with a view to achieving progressive liberalisation of agricultural trade’;

B.   whereas the EEA Agreement provides the basis for Norway to enjoy equal access to the internal market and whereas the parties to the Agreement have found it to be mutually beneficial;

C.   whereas, in general, economic and political relations between the EU and Norway are in an excellent state; whereas emerging differences between the partners should be addressed in the form of a dialogue;

D.   whereas the Bilateral Agreement in force since January 2012 has renewed the preferential, reciprocal and mutually beneficial legal framework for trade preferences in agricultural products, including meat and dairy products;

E.   whereas through that agreement the EU and the Kingdom of Norway have extended mutual liberalisation of trade in agricultural products by granting duty-free access, establishing tariff quotas and reducing import duties for a wide range of agricultural products;

F.   whereas since 1 January 2013 European exporters of certain cheeses and of lamb and beef meat have faced ad valorem duties of 277 %, 429 % and 344 %, respectively, in the Norwegian market; whereas this measure was preceded by the imposition of a new 72 % import duty on hydrangea (hortensia) flowers;

G.   whereas these measures, although permitted under the Norwegian World Trade Organisation schedule, go against the letter and the spirit of the Bilateral Agreement, in particular Article 10 thereof, which states that ‘The Parties will take steps to ensure that the benefits which they grant each other will not be jeopardised by other restrictive import measures’;

H.   whereas economic growth, employment and inflation indicators show no sign of any negative impact of the global economic or financial crisis on the Norwegian economy;

1.   Deplores the recent measures imposed by the Norwegian Government, which it regards as protectionist and prohibitive to trade, and as clearly breaching the letter and the spirit of the Bilateral Agreement;

2.   Stresses that these measures were proposed by the Norwegian Government without any prior consultation with its EU counterparts, as would have been appropriate in the context of the strong bilateral relations existing between the EU and Norway;

3.   Questions the economic logic behind these measures, which could have trade-reducing effects, harming all the parties involved and especially Norwegian consumers, and in the long run Norwegian farmers as well; calls on the Commission to assess the potential negative effects of the increased tariffs on EU exporters and farmers;

4.   Urges the Norwegian Government and Parliament to withdraw the measures;

5.   Calls on the Norwegian Government and on the Commission to take note of Iceland’s recent ambitious steps to liberalise its agricultural trade with the Union; urges the Norwegian Government to follow its example;

6.   Calls on the Norwegian Government to accept a review of Protocol 3 to the EEA Agreement, concerning trade in processed agricultural products, in order to assess whether the duties on the aforementioned products are deemed to be fair and justified;

7.   Calls on the Commission to continue negotiations with the Norwegian authorities in order to work for a mutually satisfactory solution in relation to imports/exports of agricultural products;

8.   Asks the Commission to specify the measures it intends to take in the eventuality that Norway refuses to reverse its decision, in particular with a view to protecting jobs and output in the Union’s agricultural sector, should the need arise;

9.   Calls on the Commission to take into consideration the possibility of proposing further action in the event of a lack of cooperation, with the aim of having the measures withdrawn;

10.   Recalls the express commitment made by Norway to the internal market, in particular in the context of recent initiatives such as the Single Market Act I and II; points out that the Norwegian Government has itself recognised that an efficient single market is a foundation for future growth and job creation and that the current crisis should not be used as an excuse for turning to protectionist and trade-distorting measures;

11.   Expresses its hope that Norway will remain an integral part of the internal market and not resort to further disintegrative unilateral measures;

12.   Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Commission, the Council, the Norwegian Government and Parliament and the institutions of the European Economic Area.

(1) OJ L 327, 9.12.2011, p. 2.
(2) OJ C 51 E, 22.2.2013, p. 168.


Completing the digital single market
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European Parliament resolution of 4 July 2013 on completing the digital single market (2013/2655(RSP) )
P7_TA(2013)0327 B7-0331/2013

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to Articles 3(3) and 6 of the Treaty on European Union,

–   having regard to Articles 9, 12, 14, 26, 114(3) and 169(1) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

–   having regard to the report of the Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee entitled ‘A New Agenda for European Consumer Policy’, adopted on 25 April 2013 (A7‑0163/2013 ),

–   having regard to the Commission staff working document of 23 April 2013 entitled ‘E‑commerce Action plan 2012-2015 – State of play 2013’ (SWD(2013)0153 ),

–   having regard to the Commission’s Internal Market Scoreboard 26 of 18 February 2013,

–   having regard to the Commission staff working document of 7 December 2012 entitled ‘The Consumer Markets Scoreboard: Making markets work for consumers – Eighth edition Part 2 – November 2012’ (SWD(2012)0432 ),

–   having regard to the Commission communication of 18 December 2012 ‘On Content in the Digital Single Market’ (COM(2012)0789 ),

–   having regard to the Commission report of 18 April 2013 to the European Parliament and the Council on the functioning of the Memorandum of Understanding on the Sale of Counterfeit Goods via the Internet (COM(2013)0209 ),

–   having regard to its resolution of 11 December 2012 on completing the Digital Single Market(1) ,

–   having regard to its resolutions of 6 April 2011 on a Single Market for Europeans(2) , on a Single Market for Enterprises and Growth(3) and on Governance and Partnership in the Single Market(4) ,

–   having regard to the Commission communication of 27 October 2010 to the European Parliament, the Council, the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions entitled ‘Towards a Single Market Act: For a highly competitive social market economy – 50 proposals for improving our work, business and exchanges with one another’ (COM(2010)0608 ),

–   having regard to the Commission communication of 3 October 2012 to the European Parliament, the Council, the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions entitled ‘Single Market Act II’ (COM(2012)0573 ),

–   having regard to the Commission communication of 13 April 2011 to the European Parliament, the Council, the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions entitled ‘Single Market Act: Twelve levers to boost growth and strengthen confidence’ (COM(2011)0206 ),

–   having regard to the Commission proposal of 4 June 2012 for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on electronic identification and trust services for electronic transactions in the internal market (COM(2012)0238 ),

–   having regard to its resolution of 22 May 2012 on a strategy for strengthening the rights of vulnerable consumers(5) ,

–   having regard to the Commission communication of 22 May 2012 to the European Parliament, the Council, the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions entitled ‘A European Consumer Agenda: Boosting confidence and growth’ (COM(2012)0225 ),

–   having regard to the Commission communication of 2 May 2012 entitled ‘European Strategy for a Better Internet for Children’ (COM(2012)0196 ),

–   having regard to the Commission communication of 20 April 2012 entitled ‘A strategy for e-procurement’ (COM(2012)0179 ),

–   having regard to the Commission proposal of 25 January 2012 for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data (General Data Protection Regulation) (COM(2012)0011 ),

–   having regard to the Commission Green Paper of 29 November 2012 entitled ‘An integrated parcel delivery market for the growth of e-commerce in the EU’ (COM(2012)0698 ),

–   having regard to the Commission communication of 11 January 2012 entitled ‘A coherent framework for building trust in the Digital Single Market for e-commerce and online services’ (COM(2011)0942 ),

–   having regard to its resolution of 15 November 2011 on a new strategy for consumer policy(6) ,

–   having regard to Directive 2011/83/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 October 2011 on consumer rights, amending Council Directive 93/13/EEC and Directive 1999/44/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council and repealing Council Directive 85/577/EEC and Directive 97/7/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council(7) ,

–   having regard to the Commission proposal of 9 November 2011 for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on a consumer programme 2014-2020 (COM(2011)0707 ) and to the documents related thereto (SEC(2011)1320 and SEC(2011)1321 ),

–   having regard to the Commission proposal of 3 December 2012 for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on the accessibility of public sector bodies’ websites (COM(2012)0721 ),

–   having regard to its resolution of 25 October 2011 on mobility and inclusion of people with disabilities and the European Disability Strategy 2010-2020(8) ,

–   having regard to the Commission proposal of 7 February 2013 for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council concerning measures to ensure a high common level of network and information security across the Union (COM(2013)0048 ),

–   having regard to the joint communication of 7 February 2013 from the Commission and the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy entitled ‘Cybersecurity Strategy of the European Union: An Open, Safe and Secure Cyberspace’ (JOIN(2013)0001 ),

–   having regard to the Commission communication of 27 September 2012 entitled ‘Unleashing the Potential of Cloud Computing in Europe’ (COM(2012)0529 ),

–   having regard to the Commission proposal of 14 November 2011 for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing the Connecting Europe Facility (COM(2011)0665 ),

–   having regard to its resolution of 15 December 2010 on the impact of advertising on consumer behaviour(9) ,

–   having regard to its resolution of 21 September 2010 on completing the internal market for e-commerce(10) ,

–   having regard to Council Directive 2010/45/EU of 13 July 2010 amending Directive 2006/112/EC on the common system of value added tax as regards the rules on invoicing(11) ,

–   having regard to the European Court of Justice judgments on Google (Joined Cases C‑236/08 to C-238/08, judgment of 23 March 2010) and BergSpechte (Case C-278/08, judgment of 25 March 2010), which define the notion of the ‘normally informed and reasonably attentive internet user’ as being the standard internet consumer,

–   having regard to Directive 2010/13/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 10 March 2010 on the coordination of certain provisions laid down by law, regulation or administrative action in Member States concerning the provision of audiovisual media services (Audiovisual Media Services Directive)(12) ,

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

–   having regard to the Monti report of 9 May 2010 on a new strategy for the single market,

–   having regard to the analytical report entitled ‘Attitudes towards cross-border sales and consumer protection’, published by the Commission in March 2010 (Flash Eurobarometer No 282),

–   having regard to the ‘Mystery Shopping Evaluation of Cross-Border E-Commerce in the EU’, a study conducted on behalf of the Commission’s DG SANCO by YouGovPsychonomics and published on 20 October 2009,

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

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

–   having regard to its resolution of 13 January 2009 on the transposition, implementation and enforcement of Directive 2005/29/EC concerning unfair business-to-consumer commercial practices in the internal market and Directive 2006/114/EC concerning misleading and comparative advertising(13) ,

–   having regard to Directive 95/46/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 24 October 1995 on the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data(14) ,

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

A.   whereas unlocking the full potential of the digital single market is crucial to making the EU a more competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy, to the benefit of both its citizens and its businesses; whereas the EU must act now to retain its global competitive edge, in particular in relation to high-growth sectors such as the internet platform and software application industry;

B.   whereas ubiquitous connectivity, relying on unhindered access to high-speed broadband internet networks, universal and equal access to internet services for all citizens and the availability of spectrum for wireless broadband services, is a vital prerequisite for the development of the digital single market; whereas new technological developments, such as mobile devices and applications and new generations of mobile standards, require reliable and fast infrastructure networks in order to deliver their benefits to citizens and businesses;

C.   whereas ‘big data’ applications are of increasing importance to the competitiveness of the Union’s economy, with expected global revenues of EUR 16 billion and the expected creation of an additional 4,4 million jobs globally by 2016;

D.   whereas cloud computing has major economic, social and cultural potential in terms of cost saving, content-and information-sharing, enhanced competitiveness, access to information, innovation and job creation; whereas in this context the creation of seamless e-government services, accessible through multiple devices, is of particular importance;

E.   whereas the EU economy is undergoing significant structural change, impacting its global competitiveness and its labour markets; whereas the Annual Growth Survey 2013 calls for resolute action to step up job creation; whereas dynamic and inclusive labour markets are essential for the recovery and competitiveness of the EU economy;

F.   whereas social media, user-generated content, the remix culture and user collaboration are playing an increasingly important role in the digital economy; whereas consumers are increasingly willing to pay for high-quality professional digital content, provided that it is affordable, accessible through multiple devices and portable across borders;

G.   whereas access to content at affordable prices, through secured and reliable payment facilities, should increase consumer confidence when accessing cross-border services;

H.   whereas 99 % of all EU businesses are small or medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), which account for 85 % of EU employment; whereas SMEs are therefore the driving force in the EU economy, with prime responsibility for wealth creation, employment and growth, as well as innovation and R&D;

I.   whereas EU citizens have a crucial role to play as consumers in achieving the Europe 2020 goals of smart, inclusive and sustainable growth, and whereas the role of consumers should therefore be recognised as part of the EU’s economic policy; whereas it is necessary to strike the right balance, boosting the competitiveness of the Union’s businesses while at the same time protecting consumers’ interests;

J.   whereas fragmentation of the digital single market jeopardises consumer choice; whereas it is necessary to boost consumers’ confidence, trust in the market and knowledge of their rights, with a special focus on other consumers in situations of vulnerability; whereas it is essential to offer consumers in the Union better protection vis-à-vis products and services which may endanger their health or safety;

K.   whereas the Commission’s EU-wide screening of websites selling digital content such as games, videos or music downloads shows that over 75 % of these websites do not appear to comply with consumer protection rules; whereas the Consumer Rights Directive (2011/83/EU) lays down, for the first time, specific rules for digital content; whereas the Commission should be encouraged to continue integrating such rules when revising existing EU consumer legislation or proposing new legislation in this area;

L.   whereas 15 % of the EU’s working-age population (80 million people) have functional limitations or disabilities; whereas the number of websites providing e-government services and the number of public-sector websites are growing rapidly; whereas the EU market for web‑accessibility‑related products and services is estimated at EUR 2 billion; whereas this market still remains largely fragmented and undeveloped, to the detriment not only of potential consumers, but also of the overall economy;

M.   whereas consumers are not a homogeneous group, as they display considerable differences in terms of digital literacy, awareness of consumer rights, assertiveness and willingness to seek redress; whereas non-discrimination and accessibility also need to be taken into consideration in order to overcome the digital divide;

Tapping the full potential of the digital single market

1.   Stresses that unleashing the single market through the Services Directive and a digital single market could add EUR 800 billion(15) to the EU economy, which is the equivalent of almost EUR 4 200 per household(16) ; calls on the Member States and the Commission to commit to the development of the digital single market as an overarching political priority and to come forward with a holistic approach and an ambitious strategy encompassing both legislative and political initiatives in order to take into account new and upcoming developments, making the digital single market a reality on the ground; stresses that this will require political leadership, decisiveness, priority-setting and public funding at EU, national and regional level; emphasises in particular that strong leadership on the part of all Union institutions and clear political ownership on the part of the Member States is required in order fully and effectively to implement and enforce directives and regulations relating to the single market;

2.   Calls on the Commission to address existing barriers to the digital single market as a matter of urgency, including by simplifying the legal framework for VAT, ensuring access to secure pan-European e-payment, e-invoicing and delivery services, and reviewing intellectual property rights in order to foster access to legal digital content across the EU; stresses the importance of establishing equal rules for the free movement of goods and services, both physically and digitally;

3.   Calls on the Commission and the Member States to strengthen the governance of the digital single market, ensuring net neutrality and the efficient and smart use of ICT with a view to reducing the administrative burden on citizens and businesses; calls on the Commission to strengthen existing governance tools and to come forward with a coherent approach to promoting their use, including the Internal Market Information System (IMI), Solvit, Your Europe and the Points of Single Contact (PSCs) set up under the Services Directive;

4.   Emphasises the importance of the European cloud computing strategy, given its potential for EU competitiveness, growth and job creation; stresses that cloud computing, since it involves minimal entry costs and low infrastructure requirements, represents an opportunity for the EU’s IT industry, and especially for SMEs, to take the lead in areas such as outsourcing, new digital services and data centres;

5.   Recognises that ‘big data’ and knowledge are the fuel of the EU’s future economy; welcomes the proposed data protection package as a way to increase trust and transparency; stresses the need to bear in mind the challenges resulting from globalisation and the use of new technologies, and the importance of ensuring that a modernised EU data protection regime strengthens citizens’ rights, making the EU the forerunner and trend-setter in the field of data protection, enhancing the internal market and creating a level playing field for all businesses active in the EU;

6.   Stresses the need to encourage new, high-quality e-government services by adopting innovative technological solutions such as e-procurement, thereby facilitating the seamless delivery of information and services; emphasises the importance of the draft regulation proposed by the Commission on electronic identification and electronic trust services, given its contribution to the digital single market through the creation of appropriate conditions for the mutual recognition of, and a high level of security for, key enablers across borders, for example through electronic identification, electronic documents, electronic signatures and electronic delivery services, and for interoperable e-government services across the Union;

7.   Considers that additional efforts are needed as regards the reuse of public-sector information and the promotion of e-government;

8.   Stresses the importance of fostering innovation and investing in e‑skills; highlights the vital role of SMEs in overcoming unemployment, in particular youth unemployment; calls for better access to finance through funding programmes such as Horizon 2020 and COSME and for the development of new investment vehicles and guarantees; notes, in particular, that the EU needs to regain its global leadership role in the fields of mobile technology and smart devices;

9.   Stresses the need to encourage large-scale investments in fixed and mobile networks in order to put the EU at the forefront of global technological development, allowing its citizens and businesses to benefit fully from the opportunities offered by the digital revolution;

10.   Deeply regrets the fact that many Member States have failed to meet the deadline of 1 January 2013 for allocating the ‘digital dividend’ spectrum in the 800 MHz band to mobile broadband services, as stipulated by the Radio Spectrum Policy Programme; stresses that this delay has hampered the rollout of 4G networks in the EU; calls, therefore, on the Member States to take the necessary steps to ensure that the 800 MHz band becomes available for mobile broadband services, and on the Commission to use its full powers to ensure swift implementation;

11.   Welcomes the Commission’s intention to come forward with a new telecoms package in order to address market fragmentation in the telecoms market, including measures to eliminate roaming tariffs in the near future; stresses the need to take a proactive approach to roaming charges in order to create a true digital single market that also encompasses the use of mobile devices;

Investing in human capital – addressing the skills gap

12.   Notes with concern that the employment rate in the EU is falling; calls for a renewed focus on job creation policies in areas with high growth potential, such as the green economy, health services and the ICT sector; believes that the creation of a digital single market can help overcome any discrepancies between Member States and regions in terms of employment, social inclusion and combating poverty;

13.   Stresses that the digital single market should help people to remain active and healthy at work as they age, while improving work-life balance; emphasises that ICT tools can also ensure sustainable, successful healthcare systems;

14.   Acknowledges that the European labour market is radically changing and that new skills will be needed for tomorrow’s jobs; calls on the Member States to make the necessary investments in human capital and sustainable job creation, inter alia by making good use of EU funds, such as the European Social Fund; calls on the Commission and the Member States to prioritise digital literacy and e-skills in the ‘New Skills for New Jobs’ flagship initiative;

15.   Stresses the need to improve media and digital literacy skills, in particular among children and minors, in order to achieve a true digital single market and to realise the growth potential of this dynamic sector; notes in particular the importance of addressing the expected gap in the supply of ICT professionals; welcomes the ‘Grand Coalition for Digital Jobs’ and highlights the importance of matching ICT training to business requirements;

16.   Stresses the need to further activate the use of the European Job Mobility Portal (EURES); supports the use of EURES by the Member States, both as a means of giving advice to workers and job-seekers on their right to free movement and as an employment instrument with a special focus on placement and the needs of employers, in order to contribute effectively to recovery and long-term growth;

Trust, security and consumer confidence

17.   Welcomes the adoption of the Code of EU Online Rights; calls on the Commission and the Member States to disseminate this code widely so that it achieves the desired effect;

18.   Stresses that the increasingly rapid development of e-commerce is of major importance as far as consumers are concerned, offering a wider choice, especially to those living in less accessible, remote areas and to those with reduced mobility, who would otherwise not have access to a wide range of goods and services;

19.   Stresses the importance of ensuring full access to the digital single market for consumers, irrespective of their place of residence or nationality; calls on the Commission to take measures to combat the unequal treatment of consumers in the single market arising from current cross-border restrictions applied by companies involved in distance selling;

20.   Points out that consumer confidence is essential for both domestic and cross‑border e‑commerce; emphasises the need to ensure the quality, safety, traceability and authenticity of products, to avert criminal or unfair practices, and to comply with the rules on personal data protection;

21.   Stresses the role of the digital single market in creating a safe and well-functioning single market for goods and services; highlights, in this connection, the importance of promoting effective and coordinated risk management systems in the context of the General Product Safety and Market Surveillance proposals;

22.   Emphasises the importance of early implementation of the provisions of the Online Dispute Resolution Directive, so that consumers have easy access to effective problem resolution online; calls on the Commission to ensure that adequate financing of the Online Dispute Resolution platform is guaranteed;

23.   Highlights the importance of trustmarks for the effective functioning of the digital single market, for both businesses and consumers; calls for the adoption of a European services standard for trustmarks – based on high‑level quality standards – to help consolidate the EU market for them;

24.   Calls on the Commission to adopt EU guidelines on minimum standards for comparison websites, structured around the core principles of transparency, impartiality, quality information, effective redress, comprehensiveness and user-friendliness; suggests accompanying such guidelines with an EU-wide accreditation scheme as well as effective supervision and enforcement measures;

25.   Expects the Commission, in its revision of the Package Travel Directive, fully to examine the impact of e-commerce and digital markets on consumer behaviour within the EU tourism industry, and to step up its efforts to improve the quality, content and reliability of information provided to tourists;

26.   Stresses that passengers must be able to differentiate clearly, in the context of computerised reservation systems, between non-optional operational costs included in fares and bookable optional items, with a view to making prices more transparent when passengers are booking tickets on the internet;

27.   Calls on the Commission to monitor closely, and use all its powers to guarantee, the correct implementation and application of key provisions of the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive as regards modernised rules for combating unfair commercial practices, including online, in particular the potential abuse of market power in areas such as behavioural advertising, personalised pricing policies and internet search services; welcomes the Commission communication entitled ‘Protecting businesses against misleading marketing practices and ensuring effective enforcement: Review of Directive 2006/114/EC concerning misleading and comparative advertising’ (COM(2012)0702 );

28.   Urges the Commission to address unfair terms in air transport contracts, to ensure closer monitoring of websites and to notify national enforcement bodies of instances of misapplication of the existing rules;

29.   Calls on the Commission to develop standardised electronic forms for the submission of passenger complaints relating to all transport modes and to promote guidelines for the prompt settlement of such complaints through simplified procedures;

30.   Stresses the need to work towards trustworthy cloud services; calls for the adoption of clear and transparent model contracts covering issues such as data preservation following termination of contract, data disclosure and integrity, data location and transfer, ownership of data and direct/indirect liability;

31.   Points to the multitude of legal issues and challenges raised by the use of cloud computing, such as difficulties in determining the applicable law, compliance and liability issues, data protection safeguards (including the right to privacy), data portability and the enforcement of copyright and other intellectual property rights; considers it essential that the consequences of cloud computing are clear and foreseeable in all relevant areas of the law;

32.   Stresses the crucial importance of enforcing consumer rights in online transactions; notes that EU sweeps coordinated by the Commission and executed simultaneously by the relevant national authorities have proved to be a useful tool for monitoring the application of existing single market legislation in the Member States through joint action, and encourages the Commission to offer more extensive use of EU sweeps and to consider coordinating such action in other, offline areas as well; calls on the Commission to strengthen the Consumer Protection Cooperation Network;

33.   Points out that accessible, affordable and high-quality delivery services are an essential element in the online purchasing of goods and are best promoted by means of free and fair competition; notes, however, that many consumers are reluctant to buy online, especially cross-border, because of uncertainties relating to final delivery, costs or reliability; welcomes, therefore, the public consultation launched by the Commission with a view to identifying possible shortcomings and taking appropriate action to address them in a way that will allow both businesses and consumers to benefit fully from the digital single market;

34.   Calls on the Commission to come forward with a revised proposal for the Payment Services Directive and a legislative proposal on multilateral interchange fees in order to work towards standardisation and interoperability in the provision of card, internet and mobile payments in the EU and to address the problem of non-transparent and excessive payment-related charges;

35.   Stresses that a high level of network and information security is essential in order to guarantee the functioning of the single market and consumer confidence in the digital single market; notes the uneven development of cyber skills and capacity to respond to threats and attacks, as well as the lack of a harmonised approach to cyber security within the Union; calls for concerted efforts and closer cooperation, given the global nature of the internet and the high level of interconnection of network and information systems across the Union;

36.   Stresses that the accessibility of public sector bodies’ websites is an important part of the Digital Agenda, which both serves non-discrimination and creates business opportunities; calls on the Commission to adopt a more ambitious approach in the ongoing negotiations on the subject and finally to come forward with an outstanding legislative initiative in the form of a European Accessibility Act that would go beyond the public sector;

Creating a favourable business environment

37.   Stresses the importance of creating a favourable overall digital business environment; notes the need to simplify the legal framework for VAT and avoid double taxation; calls on the Member States to implement swiftly the mini one-stop shops for telecommunications, television broadcasting and electronic services by 2015; asks the Commission to broaden the scope of the one-stop shops to other goods and services as soon as possible;

38.   Calls on the Commission to clarify the application of Article 20(2) of the Services Directive, which deals with discrimination against EU consumers on the grounds of place of residence or nationality, and in particular the types of business practice that would be considered to constitute unjustified discrimination under the directive; stresses the need to address the underlying barriers – including continued legal fragmentation and the resultant legal uncertainty in the context of the applicability of consumer rights legislation – preventing businesses from expanding within the digital single market;

39.   Considers the proposed Common European Sales Law to be an innovative initiative of key importance to consumers and businesses in the internal market; believes that a single optional set of EU-wide rules would be of particular benefit to the rapidly growing internet sector; takes the view that the proposal also has interesting potential as regards cloud computing and digital content;

40.   Invites the Commission to continue working towards adapting the contract-law framework to the new challenges presented by the digital single market; considers in particular that accompanying work on EU-wide standard contract terms, available off-the-shelf to businesses and consumers, is crucial in this area;

41.   Calls on the Commission carefully to monitor the state of competition in the digital single market and to address any abuses of dominant position swiftly; highlights, in particular, the need to monitor the correct application of the guidelines on selective distribution agreements and to ensure that they continue to be fit for purpose in the digital context;

42.   Calls on the Commission to promote access to risk capital and to ICT clusters in order to push forward innovative pre-commercial projects and to nurture early-stage innovation in ICT markets; stresses the potential of public-private partnerships and of the forthcoming new public procurement rules on establishing innovation partnerships; encourages the early adoption of online public procurement tools as a means of taking advantage of the forthcoming public procurement reforms;

43.   Stresses the importance of net neutrality and of the unhindered market entrance of EU SMEs in the ICT sector; calls on the Commission to take all the necessary steps to improve this situation; calls on the Commission to come forward with a legislative proposal as soon as possible in order further to reduce mobile roaming charges within the EU;

Attractive legal offers of digital content

44.   Encourages the Commission to continue its efforts in the area of intellectual property law, with a view to creating a modern copyright framework for the digital single market; calls on the Commission to take the necessary measures to encourage the development of legal content which is accessible across the digital single market; stresses that a revised intellectual property rights (IPR) regime should be based on encouraging innovation, new service models and user-generated and collaborative content in order to foster the development of a competitive EU ICT market, while ensuring that rights-holders are protected and properly compensated;

45.   Notes that the Union has already made some progress in reducing the impact of copyright territoriality, in particular through the Commission’s proposal for a directive on collective rights management and multi-territorial licensing in the online music sector, which is currently under consideration by the legislator; believes that more transparency, better governance and greater accountability of collective rights management societies is needed; considers that the proposed directive would encourage multi-territorial licensing of rights and facilitate the licensing of rights for online use;

46.   Stresses that all relevant segments of society should be included in the Commission’s ongoing ‘Licences for Europe’ dialogue and the review of the IPR legal framework; calls on the Commission to take all the necessary steps to ensure that civil society and consumer rights organisations are adequately represented; calls on the Commission to come forward with an ambitious strategic response in 2014, encompassing both practical market solutions and political and, where required, legislative responses; asks the Commission to keep Parliament informed of the outcome of this process;

47.   Calls on the Commission to come forward with measures to boost the cross-border circulation and portability of audiovisual content, including on ‘video on demand’ platforms; calls on the Commission and the Member States to come forward with measures in support of the EU audiovisual industry in order to overcome current obstacles to the digital single market in that sector; believes that such measures should aim to create more consumer demand for non-national European films, facilitate cross-border distribution, including through support for the subtitling and dubbing of audiovisual works, and reduce related transaction costs linked to rights management;

48.   Considers it necessary to make cultural and creative content services, in particular audiovisual works and new cross-border content delivery platforms, more accessible across the Union, particularly to the elderly and people with disabilities, in order to foster participation in the social and cultural life of the Union;

49.   Highlights the importance of EU and other services or platforms in fostering the digitisation of, and online access to, the Union’s cultural heritage and content;

50.   Welcomes the growth of the e-book market in Europe and believes that it can bring important benefits to consumers and businesses alike; stresses that it is important to ensure that consumers do not come up against any barriers when wishing to acquire e-books across territorial borders, platforms and devices; stresses that it is important to ensure interoperability between different e-book devices and systems;

51.   Calls on the Commission to come forward with a proposal to align VAT rates applicable to goods and services of a similar nature; calls, in the light of the shift in 2015 to the principle of ‘the country of residence of the consumer’, for an EU-level dynamic definition of ‘e-books’ in order to ensure legal certainty;

52.   Calls on the Commission to come forward with a proposal to ensure that VAT rates are applied equitably to creative, cultural, scientific and educational content, regardless of the means of user access; believes that the reduced VAT rates which exist for content distributed in physical form should also apply to the digital equivalent, thus boosting the attractiveness of digital platforms and stimulating innovative content services and new ways for users to access content online;

53.   Welcomes the Commission’s intention to come forward with a concrete proposal to clarify, provide a clear interpretation of, and offer guidance on, the functioning of notice and action procedures;

Towards smart and interoperable mobility services in the EU

54.   Calls for the further deployment of smart mobility systems developed through EU-funded research, such as the air traffic management system of the future (SESAR), the European rail traffic management system (ERTMS) and rail information systems, maritime surveillance systems (SafeSeaNet), River Information Services (RIS), intelligent transport systems (ITS) and interoperable interconnected solutions for the next generation of multimodal traffic management systems;

55.   Stresses that information technology tools should be widely deployed within the TEN-T network to simplify administrative procedures, provide for cargo tracking and tracing, and optimise schedules and traffic flows;

The international dimension of the digital single market

56.   Considers that greater global cooperation is needed in order to uphold and modernise intellectual property rights in the future, this being vital to innovation, employment and open world trade;

57.   Welcomes the Commission’s recent initiatives, but underlines the need to complete the regulatory framework for the enforcement of copyright in the digital environment, which must be tailored to present requirements, so that agreements can be reached with our trading partners on the basis of modern European legislation;

58.   Notes that e-commerce has developed outside of traditional and standard trade regulatory frameworks; stresses the importance of increased international cooperation within the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) in order to protect and ensure the development of the global digital market; calls for the revision and updating of the current Information Technology Agreement (ITA) within the WTO, and for the EU to explore the possibility of an International Digital Economy Agreement (IDEA);

59.   Considers that the restriction of EU businesses’ access to digital markets and online consumers through, among other things, mass state censorship or restricted market access for European online service providers in third countries constitutes a trade barrier; calls on the Commission and the Council to include a safeguard mechanism in all future trade agreements, especially those which contain provisions affecting online services and online communities of users who share information, in order to ensure that EU ICT companies are not required by third parties to restrict website access, remove user-generated content or provide personal information, such as personal IP addresses, in ways that contravene fundamental rights and freedoms; calls, additionally, on the Council and the Commission to develop a strategy for challenging measures by third countries which restrict EU companies’ access to global online markets;

o
o   o

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

(1) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2012)0468 .
(2) OJ C 296 E, 2.10.2012, p. 59.
(3) OJ C 296 E, 2.10.2012, p. 70.
(4) OJ C 296 E, 2.10.2012, p. 51.
(5) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2012)0209 .
(6) OJ C 153 E, 31.5.2013, p. 25.
(7) OJ L 304, 22.11.2011, p. 64.
(8) OJ C 131 E, 8.5.2013, p. 9.
(9) OJ C 169 E, 15.6.2012, p. 58.
(10) OJ C 50 E, 21.2.2012, p. 1.
(11) OJ L 189, 22.7.2010, p. 1.
(12) OJ L 95, 15.4.2010, p. 1.
(13) OJ C 46 E, 24.2.2010, p. 26.
(14) OJ L 281, 23.11.1995, p. 31.
(15) UK Department for Business Innovation and Skills, Economics Paper No 11: ‘The economic consequences for the UK and the EU of completing the Single Market’, February 2011.
(16) UK Department for Business Innovation and Skills, Economics Paper No 11: ‘The economic consequences for the UK and the EU of completing the Single Market’, February 2011, and Eurostat data on EU GDP for 2010 and the number of households in the EU.


Impact of the crisis on access to care for vulnerable groups
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European Parliament resolution of 4 July 2013 Impact of the crisis on access to care for vulnerable groups (2013/2044(INI) )
P7_TA(2013)0328 A7-0221/2013

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to the Treaty on European Union, in particular Article 3(3) thereof, and the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, in particular Articles 9, 151, 153 and 168 thereof,

–   having regard to the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, in particular Articles 1, 21, 23, 24, 25, 34 and 35 thereof,

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

–   having regard to the European Convention on Human Rights,

–   having regard to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities,

–   having regard to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child,

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

–   having regard to Regulation (EC) No 1081/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 5 July 2006 on the European Social Fund and repealing Regulation (EC) No 1784/1999(2) ,

–   having regard to the Commission proposal of 6 October 2011 for a regulation on the European Social Fund and repealing Regulation (EC) No 1081/2006 (COM(2011)0607 ),

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

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

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

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

–   having regard to the Commission communication entitled ‘An EU Framework for National Roma Integration Strategies up to 2020’ (COM(2011)0173 ),

–   having regard to the Commission communication entitled ‘Taking forward the Strategic Implementation Plan of the European Innovation Partnership on Active and Healthy Ageing’ (COM (2012)0083),

–   having regard to the Commission report entitled ‘Employment and Social Developments in Europe 2012’,

–   having regard to its resolution of 9 October 2008 on promoting social inclusion and combating poverty, including child poverty, in the EU(3) ,

–   having regard to its resolution of 6 May 2009 on the active inclusion of people excluded from the labour market(4) ,

–   having regard to its resolution of 19 February 2009 on Social Economy(5) ,

–   having regard to its resolution of 16 June 2010 on EU 2020(6) ,

–   having regard to its resolution of 17 June 2010 on gender aspects of the economic downturn and financial crisis(7) ,

–   having regard to its resolution of 6 July 2010 on promoting youth access to the labour market, strengthening trainee, internship and apprenticeship status(8) ,

–   having regard to its resolution of 20 October 2010 on the financial, economic and social crisis: recommendations concerning measures and initiatives to be taken (mid-term report)(9) ,

–   having regard to its resolution of 7 July 2011 on the Scheme for food distribution to the most deprived persons in the Union(10) ,

–   having regard to its resolution of 9 March 2011 on the EU strategy on Roma inclusion(11) ,

–   having regard to its resolution of 8 March 2011 on reducing health inequalities in the EU(12) ,

–   having regard to its resolution of 14 September 2011 on an EU Homelessness Strategy(13) ,

–   having regard to its resolution of 25 October 2011 on mobility and inclusion of people with disabilities and the European Disability Strategy 2010-2020(14) ,

–   having regard to its resolution of 7 February 2013 on the European Semester for economic policy coordination: employment and social aspects in the Annual Growth Survey 2013(15) ,

–   having regard to its declarations of 22 April 2008 on ending street homelessness(16) and of 16 December 2010 on an EU homelessness strategy(17) ,

–   having regard to the reports of 2011 of the European Union Fundamental Rights Agency, ‘Migrants in an irregular situation: access to healthcare in 10 European Union Member States(18) ’ and ‘Fundamental rights of migrants in an irregular situation in the European Union’,

–   having regard to the third report of the Social Protection Committee of March 2012 entitled ‘The social impact of the economic crisis and ongoing fiscal consolidation’,

–   having regard to the report of Doctors of the World entitled ‘Access to health care for vulnerable groups in the European Union in 2012’,

–   having regard to the Eurofound report ‘Third European Quality of Life Survey - Quality of life in Europe: Impacts of the crisis’(19) ,

–   having regard to the Eurofound report ‘Household debt advisory services in the European Union’(20) ,

–   having regard to the Eurofound report ‘Living conditions of the Roma: Substandard housing and health’(21) ,

–   having regard to the Eurofound report ‘Active inclusion of young people with disabilities or health problems’(22) ,

–   having regard to the OECD report entitled ‘Health at a glance - Europe 2012’,

–   having regard to the ILO publication ‘Social security for all – Addressing inequities in access to health care for vulnerable groups in countries of Europe and Central Asia’,

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

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs and the opinion of the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality (A7-0221/2013 ),

A.   whereas all human beings are born free, with equal dignity and rights, and it is the responsibility of the Member States to promote and guarantee these rights through their constitutions and public health systems; whereas gender inequalities in access to health care and in health outcomes exist throughout the EU;

B.   whereas the fundamental values of the EU should be respected even in a crisis situation and access to care, healthcare and social assistance should be seen as a basic right for all in the EU; whereas on the contrary, health, care and social services have been cut in the majority of Member States as a consequence of the implementation of austerity policies, thus undermining universal access and the quality of services;

C.   whereas healthcare systems across the EU face significant challenges, including persisting eurozone sovereign debt crises resulting in pressure on public finances, an ageing population, the changing nature of health services and rising health costs, all of which clearly indicates the urgent need for reform;

D.   whereas the EU has the world’s most advanced social protection system, with the highest contributions for social benefits for citizens; stresses that maintaining and further developing the European social model must be a political priority;

E.   whereas the World Health Organisation has stated in the Tallinn Charter that health is a key factor contributing to economic development and wealth;

F.   whereas the inequality gap is growing in a number of Member States as the poorest and most deprived in those states become even poorer; whereas in 2011 some 24,2 % of the EU’s population were at risk of poverty or exclusion; whereas, furthermore, self-reported health among low-income earners has worsened, with an increasingly large health gap as compared to the 25 % of the population with the highest income;

G.   whereas long-term unemployment rates are rising, leaving many citizens without insurance cover and thereby restricting their access to health services;

H.   whereas the most vulnerable groups are being hit disproportionately in the current crisis as they suffer the double impact of income loss and reduced care services;

I.   whereas the ‘chronic poor’, often long-term unemployed or employed on low salaries, single people living alone with children who are not in employment or who are working few hours, and older people in central and eastern Europe are consistently identified as among the most vulnerable groups;

J.   whereas the most recent studies confirm the emergence of a new group of vulnerable people, who were previously relatively well-off, but are now in need because of levels of personal debt: people in ‘new to need’ group may not be able to make ends meet, and start to default on bills and payments related to debts or are no longer able to pay for necessary care services, and fear having to leave their accommodation;

K.   whereas an important role is played by public services – publicly owned and managed, with democratic involvement of their users – in areas essential to welfare, including health, education, justice, water, housing, transport, and care of children and the elderly;

L.   whereas the fragmentation of healthcare systems may lead to the situation where many patients do not receive medically necessary care while others receive care that may be unnecessary or even harmful;

M.   whereas the crisis has increased the risk of long-term exclusion from the labour market, particularly for young people, who are the most vulnerable to its consequences regarding future labour participation and earnings;

N.   whereas more and more people in the EU are working beyond the statutory retirement age, partly because of financial need, with other sources of post-retirement household income having come under pressure;

O.   whereas the costs of services to service users are rising in some Member States, which means that many people are no longer able to afford an adequate level of service to meet their defined needs, resulting in a loss of independence, additional stress in their domestic or employment circumstances, or potentially damaging effects on their health leading to their social exclusion;

P.   whereas healthcare systems may (unintentionally) create barriers in access to healthcare or provide healthcare of different quality to people who share more than one protected trait, such as sex, age or membership of a minority group;

Q.   whereas some social security systems being altered in order to remove or limit access to healthcare for certain groups and to reimbursements for certain treatments and medications(23) , creating additional risks for personal and public health, as well as for the long-term sustainability of those systems;

R.   whereas it is estimated that most care in the EU is currently being provided by informal, unpaid carers; whereas this enormous resource is under threat, owing to a number of demographic developments and the increasing care burden;

S.   whereas the right to a range of in-home, residential and other community support services, including personal assistance, is enshrined in Articles 19 and 26 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities;

T.   whereas the reasons for placing children in alternative care arrangements are complex and multidimensional, but often appear as directly or indirectly related to poverty and social exclusion;

U.   whereas a lack of accurate and accessible information can contribute to vulnerable groups being unable to access the necessary care to which they are entitled;

V.   whereas reports point to increasing difficulties being encountered by some EU nationals and others with legal entitlement in accessing their right to care in a crossborder situation;

W.   whereas problems of medical demography (low levels of care provision in certain geographical areas) in a number of Member States make it harder for vulnerable groups to access care;

X.   whereas reports of growing social division and aggression resulting in verbal and physical attacks against minorities and vulnerable people are increasing; whereas such incidents should be reported in detail;

Y.   whereas in some Member States regression in policy with regard to people with disabilities, learning difficulties or psychiatric illness is leading to a move away from an inclusion rights-based approach aiming at full inclusion in the community towards the more institutional and segregating approach of the past;

Z.   stresses the high employment potential of the health and social care sector across the EU;

AA.   whereas many jobs in the healthcare and care sector in some Member States are still poorly paid, often not offering formal contracts and other basic labour rights and have low attractiveness because of the high risk of physical and emotional stress, the threat of burnout, and a lack of career development opportunities; whereas the sector offers little training and, moreover, its employees are predominantly ageing people, women and migrant workers; whereas care in the EU is often provided by informal unpaid carers, who themselves can be considered a vulnerable group due to increasing pressures to provide more sophisticated and technical levels of care; whereas a number of Member States lack a quality care service that is available to all regardless of income;

AB.   whereas the transition from institutional to community-based forms of care requires increased housing-related support to enable vulnerable people to live independently;

AC.   whereas young people leaving care settings for an independent life are particularly exposed to poverty and social exclusion;

AD.   whereas growing numbers of elderly people must be classed as vulnerable;

AE.   whereas poor EU citizens who are nationals of other Member States and third-country nationals covered by the social security system of another Member State can also experience major difficulties in accessing care;

AF.   whereas all people are entitled to a standard of living enabling them and their families to enjoy health and wellbeing;

AG.   whereas it is important to stress the significance of civil society and its organisations, which play a vital role in reaching out to excluded groups;

AH.   whereas health protection has important effects on the quality, length and dignity of human life;

AI.   whereas approximately 10 % of births in a given year in the EU are premature (gestational age under 37 weeks), and whereas mothers of pre-term babies often lack access to health services of the requisite standard, a fact which makes itself felt even more strongly in terms of work-life balance;

AJ.   whereas poverty, inadequate education and a lower level of social integration result in poor health outcomes; whereas the main barriers to healthcare for vulnerable groups are lack of knowledge and understanding of the health system, administrative problems, lack of knowledge regarding disease prevention, and lack of physical access to services;

1.   Calls on the Commission to require Member States to provide information on the austerity measures being implemented and to carry out social impact assessments of austerity measures and include recommendations tackling the medium-term and long-term social and economic impact of such measures in their country-specific recommendations; calls on the Commission to produce regular summary reports of such assessments and forward them to Parliament; requests that the European Semester process should not only focus on the financial sustainability of social security systems but also take into account possible impacts on the accessibility and quality dimension of care services;

2.   Calls on the Commission and the Member States to encourage and promote social investment in social services such as the health, care and social sectors, sectors which are essential in view of demographic changes and of the social consequences of the crisis, and have great potential for job creation;

3.   Is convinced that the necessary reforms should address the quality and efficiency of healthcare, should improve access to the right care at the right time in the right setting, and should keep people healthy and ensure that the common and avoidable complications of illnesses are prevented to the greatest extent possible;

4.   Recalls that the Member States have agreed to adopt an approach marking a shift away from ‘curative’ measures addressing the symptoms of exclusion and ill health and towards ‘preventive’ measures, ‘as a strategy to improve quality of life and reduce the burden of chronic diseases, frailty and disability’(24) ; stresses, in this respect, the long-term costs of non-action;

5.   Considers that leaving vulnerable individuals without access to healthcare or care services is a false economy as this may have a long-term negative impact on both healthcare costs and individual and public health;

6.   Considers that many of the short-term cost-reduction measures currently being implemented, such as the introduction of up-front access to healthcare fees, higher out-of- pocket expenditure or exclusion from access to care of vulnerable groups, have not been fully assessed for their wider social and economic consequences or potentially discriminatory effects and long-term implications, including dangers to public health and possible consequences for life expectancy; underlines the fact that such measures have disproportionate negative impacts on vulnerable groups;

7.   Considers it regrettable that the social stigma attached to certain medical conditions deters individuals from seeking necessary care, which may also leave communicable diseases, for example, untreated, with a subsequent risk to public health;

8.   Regrets the disproportionate impact that countries’ apprehension practices and reporting obligations linked to immigration law enforcement have on undocumented migrants’ ability to receive medical attention(25) ;

9.   Recognises that there are close relationships between a range of vulnerabilities, experience of institutional care, lack of access to quality community-based care and resulting homelessness; recalls that health and care services can play an important role in preventing and tackling poverty and social exclusion, including extreme forms such as homelessness; stresses that groups presenting several vulnerability factors, such as Roma, persons without a valid residence permit or homeless people, are at an even higher risk of being left out of risk prevention campaigns, screening and treatment;

10.   Points to the long-term negative effects of cuts to preventive care measures in times of crisis; considers that preventive measures, if they need to be reduced, should at least be raised back to the previous level, so as to preserve continuity and not destroy infrastructure; emphasises that the economic and financial crisis and the so-called austerity policies imposed on some Member States should not be cause for disinvestment in national health services but that, given their importance and essential nature, efforts should, on the contrary, be made to consolidate these services to meet the needs of society, particularly its most vulnerable groups;

11.   Considers that austerity measures should not under any circumstances deprive citizens of their access to basic social and health services or innovation and quality in social service provision and should not reverse positive trends in policy development;

12.   Calls on the Member States to promote recruitment in social care services and to work on increasing the attractiveness of the sector as a viable career option for young people;

13.   Stresses that the number of EU citizens living in another EU country than their own and having no health insurance, for reasons such as unemployment or no longer having a residence permit, is on the rise; underlines the fact that EU citizens covered by health insurance in another EU country often have difficulty in accessing care as they have to pay beforehand;

14.   Is concerned that persons with disabilities across the EU are being disproportionately affected by cuts in public spending, as a result of which they are losing the support services which allow them to live independently in the community;

15.   Considers that this is leading to an increase in the number of people living in long-term institutional care and the further social exclusion of persons with disabilities in the EU, which is in direct violation of the EU’s commitments under the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the European Disability Strategy 2010-2020;

16.   Stresses that the care to be received by people with disabilities should be provided in an accessible way, in terms not only of infrastructure but also of communication, which is especially important in the case of persons with intellectual disabilities (learning difficulties); stresses the need to encourage the training of care providers and general practitioners to deliver care in an accessible way;

17.   Considers that any cuts to care and support services for young people or other vulnerable groups are liable to undermine existing EU policies on active inclusion; stresses that high youth unemployment rates put additional pressure on all kinds of social services and that targeted action could help;

18.   Notes that, because of rising unemployment and long-term unemployment due to the crisis, a large proportion of our fellow citizens – the long-term unemployed and their dependents – are being denied access to the public health system, social security and healthcare; calls on the Member States, and especially those with the highest unemployment rates, effectively and rapidly to address this major issue through the adoption of the necessary measures;

19.   Welcomes the Commission recommendation of 20 February 2013 on ‘Investing in Children: breaking the cycle of disadvantage’; recognises the importance and cost-effectiveness of early-years investment in children, in terms of developing their full potential; recognises that investing in high-quality social services is essential for the development of appropriate and effective child protection services and for the establishment of comprehensive prevention strategies; recalls the importance of adopting a life-course perspective and of health promotion, prevention and early diagnosis; stresses that the recent measles pandemic has shown how important free vaccinations for children are for public health;

20.   Recognises the huge social and economic contribution made by family members acting as carers and volunteers (informal care), and the increasing responsibilities placed upon them by reductions in service provision or the rising costs thereof; considers that austerity measures should not lead to overburdening informal carers even further; stresses the importance of recognising the expertise of carers and guaranteeing high-quality work; calls for appropriate support and assistance for family members acting as carers in terms of combining care and career, and considers that time spent as a carer must be calculated into pension eligibility; stresses that most care provision in the EU is provided on an informal basis, i.e. by family members and volunteers, and calls on the Commission, the Member States and the social partners to enhance the appreciation of and financial rewards for this contribution;

21.   Recognises that more and more women are involved in paid work (although earning 18 % less than men), while at the same time women are still relatively often carers (78 % of all caregivers are women), and that this challenges the goal of a satisfactory work-life balance; believes that, in general, flexible work options are important in helping people to combine work and care; is concerned at the negative impact of reductions in service provision or the rising costs thereof on employment levels amongst women, work-life balance, gender equality and healthy ageing;

22.   Recalls that the care sector has been identified by the EU as an area of potential growth in employment, and that Parliament has identified the need for better pay and training in order to make this an attractive career choice and improve the quality of service; points to the noticeable lack of workers in parts of the health and care provision sector, and calls on the Member States to promote care training among young people, as well as training measures which can help caregivers and providers better understand the needs of care recipients;

23.   Stresses the increasing importance of mobile service provision in order to bring services to those who require them, in urban as well as in rural areas;

24.   Underlines the valuable contribution of the volunteer sector to the care of elderly people in need of care and, where necessary, of isolated individuals living on their own;

25.  Appreciates the fact that the European Innovation Partnership on Active and Healthy Ageing (EIP) has been chosen to meet the challenges resulting from demographic ageing; this includes the objective of increasing the healthy lifespan of EU citizens by two years by 2020; it also pursues a triple-win situation for Europe by:

   i) enhancing the health and quality of life of older people,
   ii) improving the sustainability and efficiency of care systems, and
   iii) creating growth and market opportunities for businesses;

26.   Recognises the work done by third-sector and voluntary organisations, but considers that this should not be a substitute for the state’s responsibility to provide high-quality, effective, reliable and affordable services that are accessible to all as a public good, with financial support from public resources;

27.   Highlights the European Quality Framework for Long-Term Care, which provides principles and guidelines for the dignity and wellbeing of elderly people in need of care and was published as part of the Commission’s WeDO project(26) ;

28.   Calls on the Member States to improve health literacy and provide suitable information on available services to vulnerable groups who often have difficulty accessing the services they need; of equal importance is the involvement of care recipients and carers in the decision-making processes which affect them;

Recommendations

29.   Calls on the Commission to obtain comparable and current data in the form of a fundamental analysis relating to access to care;

30.   Calls on the Commission and the Member States, in cooperation with all relevant stakeholders, to monitor and address in the national reform plans which national policies run counter to the 2020 poverty reduction target; calls on the Member States to place a special focus on the most vulnerable groups, to remove access barriers, improve and strengthen take-up and preventive measures at an early stage in order to return to a rights-based approach, and prevent to long-term damage and costs stemming from non-action;

31.   Calls on the Commission, the social partners and the Member States to act on the findings of an analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the 2012 European Year for Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations;

32.   Urges the Member States to cooperate in seeking to implement a maximum number of programmes to improve health standards among the most vulnerable groups, in particular children and young people, in the context of mobility, this being recognised as a fundamental right within the EU;

33.   Calls on the Commission to examine the tensions that may arise between social security rights under Regulation (EC) No 883/2004(27) and the operation of Directive 2004/38/EC(28) , with a view to recommending any changes that may be required to close gaps in coverage;

34.   Urges the Commission and all Member States to set priorities, to close gaps between men and women, and to ensure effective access for women to health services and family planning, as well as paying special attention to other vulnerable and disadvantaged groups needing social health protection;

35.   Calls on the Commission to include social safeguards protecting care and social services and social protection systems in agreements with countries in receipt of financial assistance; calls on the Commission and the Member States to develop the use of new technologies such as telemedicine in order to facilitate access to care;

36.   Calls on the Commission to promote equal access to early childhood education and care, and provide adequate financial support for these services;

37.   Urges the Member States to provide community-based services to children with disabilities;

38.   Calls on the Member States to identify and eliminate obstacles and barriers regarding disabled people’s access to public transport, services and information;

39.   Calls on the Commission and the Member States to set up priorities to close gaps and provide effective access to health services for vulnerable groups including poor women, migrants and Roma in the area of social health protection, by ensuring the affordability, availability and quality of healthcare, as well as efficient and effective organisation and adequate financing in all geographical areas;

40.   Urges the Member States to adopt policies that promote health and the prevention of disease by guaranteeing free, universal and quality healthcare for the most disadvantaged groups, with particular attention to guaranteeing primary healthcare, preventive medicine, and access to diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation; calls for provision of the means required to combat the main public health problems facing women and guarantee the right to sexual and reproductive health, health services for women who are victims of violence, and healthcare for infants;

41.   Calls on the Member States, in cooperation with the Commission, to consider more fully the link between physical and mental health on the one hand and unemployment and job insecurity on the other – which have been revealed by the crisis as major phenomena – in order to have proper planning in place to prevent and address harmful consequences of this kind;

42.   Strongly recommends that Member States reinforce their health services regarding prevention and primary care, focusing on improving women’s health and access to care, particularly for women living in areas remote from urban centres, as well as on measures for the most disadvantaged groups – children and young people, the elderly, persons with disabilities, the unemployed and the homeless – that guarantee the right to regular medical monitoring for all;

43.   Urges the Commission and the Member States to treat maternity and neonatal care, especially in cases of premature birth, as a public health priority and to incorporate it in European and national public health strategies;

44.   Calls on the Commission and the Member States to organise the necessary education and continuing training courses for all health professionals working in pre-conception, maternity and neonatal care units, with the aim of preventing premature births and reducing the incidence of chronic diseases affecting those born pre-term;

45.   Urges the Member States to ensure appropriate assistance to women during and after pregnancy and lactation, by offering free caring/consultation services when needed and adequate nutrition, especially to those running the risk of poverty and social exclusion because of the recent economic crisis;

46.   Urges Member States to develop suitable structures for offering people medico-social appointments so as to take greater account of the living conditions of the poorest;

47.   Calls on Member States to provide accessible and clear information on the rights of migrants in all relevant languages, including Romani;

48.   Urges the Member States to take action against hate crime and to promote anti-discrimination policies, if necessary by strengthening their national anti-discrimination bodies and promoting training within public authorities;

49.   Urges the Member States to implement Article 19 TFEU and adopt the directive on implementing the principle of equal treatment between persons irrespective of religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation in order to prohibit discrimination based on religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation(29) and to put into effect the principle of equal treatment in the areas of social protection, including social security and healthcare, education, and access to and supply of goods and services which are commercially available to the public, including housing;

50.   Calls on the Member States to carry out impact assessments to ensure that measures taken that might impact the most vulnerable are in compliance with the principles laid down in the EU Charter for Fundamental Rights and in conformity with Directive 2000/43/EC implementing the principle of equal treatment between persons irrespective of racial or ethnic origin(30) ;

51.   Urges the Member States to prevent homelessness, to provide the necessary care for homeless people, and not to criminalise homelessness in their national legislation;

52.   Urges the Commission and the Member States to ensure that any policy or funding programmes designed to support social innovation and/or care-related services target those services that best meet social needs and improve people’s quality of life, and that they are developed in close cooperation and consultation with the organisations that defend and represent vulnerable groups;

53.   Points to the scope of Parliament’s Social Business Initiative and stresses the importance of the social economy, which can, together with social businesses, effectively reinforce the fast-growing area of health and social care;

54.   Urges the Commission and the Council to work with Parliament to reinforce funding to programmes that target vulnerable groups; urges the Commission to take all the measures available to it to ensure full take-up and maximum disbursement under the European Social Fund, the Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived and other relevant instruments which address the needs of people who are vulnerable or at risk of exclusion, and to support Member States’ efforts to meet the Europe 2020 poverty target and to promote innovation and quality in the health and care sectors; stresses the importance of related funding instruments such as the EU Programme for Social Change and Innovation and the European Social Entrepreneurship Fund;

55.   Calls on the Commission to develop a package of objective and subjective indicators with a view to measuring and regularly publishing on the material and non-material components of wellbeing, including social indicators, in order to complement European and national GDP and unemployment indica­tors and thus measure soci­etal progress and not just economic development;

56.   Calls on the Commission and the Member States to explicitly recognise the invaluable contribution made by informal carers; urges the Member States to put in place and maintain targeted support measures for carers and the voluntary sector, in the interests of providing more personal, quality and cost-effective measures, e.g. measures enabling reconciliation of work and family life, facilitating better cooperation and coordination between informal and formal care providers, and ensuring appropriate social security policies and training for carers; calls on the Commission and the Member States to develop a coherent framework for all types of care leave; calls on the Commission to propose a directive on carers’ leave, in line with the subsidiarity principle as set out in the Treaties;

57.   Calls on the Member States to provide accurate and easily understandable information in the relevant languages and formats on entitlement to care, and to make it widely accessible;

58.   Calls on the Commission, the Member States and the social partners to draw up clear definitions of professional profiles in the care sector which enable rights and obligations to be precisely delimited;

59.   Calls on the Member States to integrate all potential actors at local, regional and national level, including the social partners, into initiatives concerning prevention, health and social services;

60.   Urges Member States to promote the training programmes required by the care and support sectors, and to offer grants to those undertaking relevant studies;

61.   Urges the Commission to promote a campaign with the aim of recruiting young people and improving the public image of the care sector as employer;

62.   Calls for the employment rights of those working in the care sector to be respected, including the right to a decent income and decent conditions and the right to join and form trade unions with collective bargaining rights;

63.   Urges the Member States to support national, regional and local authorities in setting up sustainable funding schemes for care services and in developing training and retraining schemes for the workforce with the help of ESF funding;

64.   Urges the social partners to develop a formal social dialogue relating to the care sector;

o
o   o

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

(1) OJ L 180, 19.7.2000, p. 22.
(2) OJ L 210, 31.7.2006, p. 12.
(3) OJ C 9 E, 15.1.2010, p. 11.
(4) OJ C 212 E, 5.8.2010, p. 23.
(5) OJ C 76 E, 25.3.2013, p. 16.
(6) OJ C 236 E, 12.8.2011, p. 57.
(7) OJ C236 E, 12.8.2011, p. 79.
(8) OJ C 351 E, 2.12.2011, p. 29.
(9) OJ C70 E, 8.3.2012, p. 19.
(10) OJ C33 E, 5.2.2013, p.188.
(11) OJ C199 E, 7.7.2012, p.112.
(12) OJ C199 E, 7.7.2012, p. 25.
(13) OJ C51 E, 22.2.2013, p.101.
(14) OJ C131 E, 8.5.2013, p. 9.
(15) Texts adopted P7_TA (2013)0053.
(16) OJ C 259 E, 29.10.2009, p. 19.
(17) OJ C 169 E, 15.6.2012, p. 139.
(18) FRA: ‘Migrants in an irregular situation: access to healthcare in 10 European Union Member States’, October 2011 - http://fra.europa.eu/en/publication/2012/migrants-irregular-situation-access-healthcare-10-european-union-member-states
(19) Eurofound (2012), Third European Quality of Life Survey - Quality of life in Europe: Impacts of the crisis, Publications Office of the European Union, Luxembourg - http://www.eurofound.europa.eu/publications/htmlfiles/ef1264.htm
(20) Eurofound (2012), Household debt advisory services in the European Union, Publications Office of the European Union, Luxembourg - http://www.eurofound.europa.eu/publications/htmlfiles/ef1189.htm
(21) Eurofound (2012), Living conditions of the Roma: Substandard housing and health, Publications Office of the European Union, Luxembourg - http://www.eurofound.europa.eu/pubdocs/2012/02/en/1/EF1202EN.pdf
(22) Eurofound (2012), Active inclusion of young people with disabilities or health problems, Publications Office of the European Union, Luxembourg -http://www.eurofound.europa.eu/areas/socialcohesion/illnessdisabilityyoung.htm
(23) See, for example, Article 5 of Spanish Royal Decree No 16/2012 of 20 April 2012, which entered into force on 28 December 2012. Available at: http://noticias.juridicas.com/base_datos/Admin/rdl16-2012.html#a5.
(24) Council Conclusions on healthy and dignified ageing, 2980th Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council meeting, November 2009.
(25) The FRA guidelines’ Apprehension of migrants in an irregular situation – fundamental rights considerations’ propose key principles to Member States on detection and reporting practices in and near medical facilities: http://fra.europa.eu/sites/default/files/document-on-apprehensions_1.pdf
(26) WeDO, a project supported by the European Commission (2010-2012), was run by a steering group comprising 18 partner organisations in 12 Member States. The common interest of all the partner organisations was and remains to improve the quality of life of elderly people in need of care.
(27) OJ L 166, 30.4.2004, p. 1.
(28) OJ L 158, 30.4.2004, p. 77.
(29) COM(2008)0426 .
(30) OJ L 180, 19.7.2000, p. 22.


Connected TV
PDF 155k   DOC 82k
European Parliament resolution of 4 July 2013 on connected TV (2012/2300(INI) )
P7_TA(2013)0329 A7-0212/2013

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to Article 167 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

–   having regard to Article 10(1) of the European Convention on Human Rights,

–   having regard to Articles 11 and 8 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union,

–   having regard to the Protocol on the system of public broadcasting in the Member States annexed to the Amsterdam Treaty amending the Treaty on European Union, the Treaties establishing the European Communities and certain related acts,

–   having regard to the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions adopted by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) on 20 October 2005,

–   having regard to Directive 2010/13/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 10 March 2010 on the coordination of certain provisions laid down by law, regulation or administrative action in Member States concerning the provision of audiovisual media services (Audiovisual Media Services Directive)(1) ,

–   having regard to Directive 2002/21/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 7 March 2002 on a common regulatory framework for electronic communications networks and services (Framework Directive)(2) amended by Directive 2009/140/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 November 2009(3) ,

–   having regard to Directive 2002/22/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 7 March 2002 on universal service and users’ rights relating to electronic communications networks and services (Universal Service Directive)(4) amended by Directive 2009/136/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 November 2009(5) ,

–   having regard to Directive 2002/19/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 7 March 2002 on access to, and interconnection of, electronic communications networks and associated facilities (Access Directive)(6) amended by Directive 2009/140/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 November 2009,

–   having regard to Directive 2002/20/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 7 March 2002 on the authorisation of electronic communications networks and services (Authorisation Directive)(7) amended by Directive 2009/140/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 November 2009,

–   having regard to Directive 98/34/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 June 1998 laying down a procedure for the provision of information in the field of technical standards and regulations(8) ,

–   having regard to Directive 2000/31/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 8 June 2000 on certain legal aspects of information society services, in particular electronic commerce, in the Internal Market (Directive on Electronic Commerce)(9) ,

–   having regard to Directive 2002/58/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 July 2002 concerning the processing of personal data and the protection of privacy in the electronic communications sector(10) , as last amended by Directive 2009/136/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 November 2009,

–   having regard to the Communication from the Commission on the application of State aid rules to public service broadcasting(11) ,

–   having regard to Council Recommendation 98/560/EC of 24 September 1998 on the development of the competitiveness of the European audiovisual and information services industry by promoting national frameworks aimed at achieving a comparable and effective level of protection of minors and human dignity(12) ,

–   having regard to its resolution of 15 June 2010 on the Internet of Things(13) ,

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

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on Culture and Education (A7-0212/2013 ),

A.   whereas TV sets were originally developed to receive linear broadcast signals; whereas in the digital environment, too, audiovisual content still meets with very great interest on the part of the public, owing to its suggestive power, by comparison with other electronic media services; and whereas consequently its outstanding importance for individual and public opinion-forming persists;

B.   whereas audiovisual media services, which are as much cultural services as they are economic services, are of outstanding importance for society and democracy as vectors of identities, values and opinions, and therefore still require specific regulation in an increasingly convergent world;

C.   whereas the long-awaited technical media convergence has now become a reality, particularly for broadcasting and the internet, and European media, culture and network policy must adapt the regulatory framework to the new conditions and ensure that a uniform level of regulation can be established and enforced, also with a view to new entrants to the market from the European Union and third countries;

D.   whereas the internet has developed rapidly over the past 25 years, and whereas the smart devices which have emerged are changing habits and the way of watching television;

E.   whereas, while the take-up of internet-connected devices is increasing, traditional services nevertheless remain mainstream-popular;

F.   whereas linear and non-linear audiovisual services and numerous other communications services can already be used on one and the same screen, combined seamlessly and consumed simultaneously;

G.   whereas the particular social significance of linear television and media services means that an independent regulatory framework for the media will still be necessary in the future, since this is the only way of taking proper account of this important role and of ensuring diversity of opinion and the media in the Member States;

H.   whereas the advent of connected TV has shaken up the traditional value chain and makes it necessary to draw up a new strategy;

I.   whereas the advancement of technological developments leads inevitably to what is to some extent only an apparent increase in user autonomy, and there is therefore a growing need to ensure protection of exclusive rights and integrity of content;

J.   whereas opportunities are increasing for dissemination of (interactive) on-line services benefiting from the range of television offerings, and 100% broadband coverage is crucial for increasing consumer interest in hybrid receiving systems;

K.   whereas in the light of growing media convergence, the concept of ‘connected TV’ is being interpreted in a dynamic, technologically neutral and broad way to cover all devices, including mobile devices, which enable access to linear and non-linear media content, over-the-top services and other applications on one and the same device or screen, thereby bringing together the world of broadcasting and the world of the internet;

L.   whereas competition in the convergent media world is increasingly centring less on transmission capacities and more on the attention of users; whereas, as the number of services on offer rises, it becomes more and more difficult to reach users; and whereas access to and the rapid findability, listing and recommendation of services will most likely determine their success;

M.   whereas the current provisions of Directive 2010/13/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 10 March 2010 on the coordination of certain provisions laid down by law, regulation or administrative action in Member States concerning the provision of audiovisual media services (Audiovisual Media Services Directive) are based on the principle of technological neutrality; whereas those provisions do not yet reflect ongoing technological convergence; and whereas in particular graduated regulation, which differentiates between television programmes (including webcasting and live streaming) and audiovisual media services on demand, will become less important in its existing form, although differently regulated information and communications services are available on one and the same device, including services which do not fall within the scope of the Audiovisual Media Services Directive but of the e-Commerce Directive or, in the case of non-European services, are not covered by any EU media regulations, which both may result in unequal competitive conditions and unacceptable discrepancies in the protection of users and raises fresh questions - regardless of media type - of content access, dissemination method and findability;

N.   whereas these new service providers will compete head-on with the traditional players in the sector, both by acquiring exclusive content, including on the European market, and by offering new services;

O.   whereas the regulatory objectives of the Audiovisual Media Services Directive – particularly those of ensuring and promoting diversity of opinion and of the media, protecting human dignity and protecting children, encouraging media service providers to guarantee accessibility to the visually and hearing impaired, and safeguarding fair competition, as well as quality-and content-based regulation of advertising – retain their importance to society and their regulatory justification as a matter of principle, but whereas at the same time the limits of the effectiveness and enforceability of these protective provisions are becoming increasingly apparent because of the methods of use made possible by hybrid receiving systems;

P.   whereas high-quality connected TV services can only be provided if telecommunications operators offer sufficiently high-speed links between the broadcasting servers and subscribers;

Q.   whereas the range of possible uses offered by hybrid devices calls into question core principles of the Audiovisual Media Services Directive, such as the mandatory separation of advertising and programmes, and rules on the insertion of advertising;

R.   whereas the mere chance fact of the existence of numerous services does not automatically result in the aforementioned regulatory objectives being attained, and it is therefore appropriate to evaluate whether there will remain a need for a specific regulatory framework in order to realise the objectives and whether that framework could preclude possible adverse developments from the outset;

S.   whereas as connected TV becomes gradually more established, conventional TV and the internet may come to coalesce, just as mobile telephony and the internet melded together a few years ago;

T.   whereas any means of adapting the market to favour creation and innovation in Europe should be encouraged;

U.   whereas the development of hybrid systems combining TV and the internet will allow users to browse indiscriminately between TV channels and the internet, including websites illegally offering audiovisual content;

V.   whereas net neutrality is proven to be insufficiently safeguarded by transparency and competition;

W.   whereas the country-of-broadcast principle in the original Television Without Frontiers Directive represents a milestone for freedom of information and the development of a common market in services, since the Member States committed themselves to quality‑based minimum standards and, in return, introduced the country-of-origin principle in the form of the country-of-broadcast principle;

1.   Calls on the Commission to evaluate the extent to which it is necessary to revise the Audiovisual Media Services Directive and other current requirements laid down in network and media regulations (e.g. the telecommunications package) with respect to the rules on findability and non-discriminatory access to platforms, for content providers and content developers as well as for users, expanding the concept of platforms, and to adapt the existing instruments to new constellations; whereas it should be ensured in so doing that consumers can benefit from increased choice and access to audiovisual media services and that content providers can benefit from more choices in how to distribute their content while maintaining contact with their audience;

2.   Takes the view that, in the case of regulatory measures for platform operators, care must be taken to ensure non-discriminatory access to platforms so that broadcasters and other providers, including small-scale providers in many cases, can participate in the market on an equal basis;

3.   Calls on the Commission and Member States to apply the concept of media services defined in Article 1 of the Audiovisual Media Services Directive in such a way that the need for regulation by the Member States is determined more on the basis of the potential socio-political impact of services and specific features of that impact, particularly their relevance to opinion-forming and to diversity of opinion, as well as on the basis of editorial responsibility;

4.   Calls on the Commission to consider, bearing in mind the difference in remit between media services for which editorial responsibility is taken and other content, whether stricter regulation of TV platforms is still appropriate and necessary, or whether a general ban on discrimination is sufficient;

5.   Calls on the Commission, in the context of a possible revision of Directive 2010/13/EU, or in any future legislation, to continue its efforts to safeguard press freedom;

6.   Calls on the Commission to provide a breakdown, on the basis of its consultation process entitled ‘Preparing for a Fully Converged Audiovisual World: Growth, Creation and Values’, of which regulatory mechanisms are still necessary and useful against the background of convergence and which should perhaps be established in order to create a level playing field for all content and service providers, taking account of the following minimum requirements and maintaining the existing overarching regulatory objectives, so as to ensure fair competition among content providers and guarantee users the chance to choose, in a fully transparent manner, from among a wide range of high-quality services on a footing of equal opportunity and without discrimination, with a focus on maintaining free and public services;

7.   Calls on the Commission, in the event of a review of the Audiovisual Media Services Directive, to ensure fair competition among all content providers;

8.   Stresses that the development strategy of these new market players will lead to an increased range of content by combining long-established TV channels with the content offering available on the internet;

9.   Emphasises in this connection the risk that the economic power and the international presence of these new market players may distort this new competitive environment to the detriment of long-established European players;

10.   Emphasises that consideration should be given to retaining a graduated regulatory framework for media services, in which connection the graduation should be based not on a distinction between non-linear and linear services, but rather, primarily, on the potential impact of a given media service and the editorial responsibility for the service in question, and that, at the same time, the Member States should be granted appropriate leeway to take such decisions themselves;

11.   Wonders whether, against the background of increasing technological convergence, the provisions laid down by the Commission in its communication on the application of State aid rules to public service broadcasting, setting out complex procedures for assessing and analysing audiovisual services offered by public providers, which go beyond the scope of normal broadcasting activities and are made available on new platforms, are still appropriate, in particular given that it is increasingly difficult for users to tell whether the service concerned is a conventional linear broadcasting service, an on-demand service or another type of audiovisual service;

12.   Calls on the Commission to have an eye to the future challenges of Connected TV, in terms of competitiveness in the industry, by allowing greater flexibility for quantitative rules on advertising, and to outline the relevant advantages and drawbacks;

13.   Emphasises that, in the interests of the uniform, Europe-wide protection of consumers, children and young people and minorities, qualitative restrictions on audiovisual media services should be reviewed and tailored at a high level to all modes of dissemination;

14.   Calls, in that connection, for the ban on the violation of human dignity, the ban on incitement to hatred, protection against discrimination and the principle of barrier-free access to apply in the same way to all forms of media content;

15.   Wonders, in that connection, whether the principle of the division between advertising and programme content can be maintained across all types of media or whether the aim of providing protection could be better achieved by making advertising and programme content clearly recognisable and clearly distinguishable across all types of media;

16.   Takes the view that the introduction of new, or the extension of existing, advertising bans or other measures which have an impact on advertising as a source of funding should be prevented so that new business models can also be employed in the digital TV sector;

17.   Emphasises that it is vital for the public sector not to be dependent solely on advertising funding in order for it to retain its independence, and calls on the Member States to support efforts to provide funding for that sector;

18.   Emphasises that new advertising strategies that use new technologies to increase their effectiveness (screenshots, consumer profiling, multi-screen strategies) raise the issue of protecting consumers, their private lives and their personal data; with this in mind, emphasises that there is a need to come up with a set of consistent rules to apply to these strategies;

19.   Encourages Europe’s audiovisual industry to continue to develop consistent, attractive services, especially on line, so as to enrich the range of European audiovisual content on offer;

20.   Calls on the Commission to examine whether and how those content providers can be granted an appropriately privileged status with regard to findability on first-screen devices, such as TV sets with a connection to the internet, to which the Member States assign a public broadcasting remit or which help to promote objectives in the public interest, such as ensuring media pluralism and cultural diversity, or which undertake to carry out duties which maintain the quality and independence of reporting and promote diversity of opinion;

21.   Calls on the Commission and Member States, in addition to such ‘must be found’ rules, to consider to what extent a reform of media regulation so as to move towards incentive and certification schemes and strengthen co- and self-regulatory approaches can enable the aforesaid regulatory objectives of the Audiovisual Media Services Directive, in particular as regards the protection of young people and human dignity, to be attained in a lasting fashion, while at the same time maintaining the necessary flexibility for fair competition among media service providers; emphasises that any co- and self-regulation measures can supplement legal provisions and that compliance with them must be monitored and the assessment of their effectiveness must be carried out by an independent regulator;

22.   Recommends, therefore, in order to avoid any distortion of competition, that the same rules should apply to the same services, irrespective of the medium of transmission;

23.   Is furthermore concerned, in this context, by the increased level of competition resulting from the presence of international players that are not subject to European rules and obligations;

24.   Calls on the Commission to ensure that these platforms are operated on the basis of open interoperable standards in a way which accords with market conditions and the general interest, entailing fair competition, accords with consumer demand and prevents the abuse by one or more providers of their prime position;

25.   In this context, emphasises the need for consideration to be given to the development of the regulatory framework, to the ways of regulating connected TV and to the content‑referencing systems;

26.   Calls for connected TV platform regulation which guarantees access to, and integrity of, broadcasters’ content, transparency for consumers and the application of a basic code of ethics (e.g. protection of minors and of private life);

27.   Calls on the Commission and the Member States to advance the media literacy of all EU citizens, in particular, through initiatives and coordinated actions aimed at increasing understanding of linear and non-linear media services;

28.   Calls on the Commission and the Member States to ensure that measures are taken, in particular, by device manufacturers and service providers to improve accessibility to linear and non-linear media services for elderly people and people with a disability such as the hard of hearing and the visually impaired;

29.   Takes the view that platform services and portal services should be interoperable, in order to give third parties the opportunity, without discrimination, to produce and market their own applications, irrespective of the medium of transmission;

30.   Calls on the Commission to ensure in a legally binding manner that all content is as a matter of principle made available to the same quality standard on networks and platforms;

31.   Calls on the Commission to take legally binding measures to ensure that network operators systematically treat all data packets in the same way when forwarding them from dispatchers to receivers, i.e. that they do not give certain packets priority on the basis, for example, of origin, content, use or the fee charged to users, as this would run counter to the aim of guaranteeing fair universal access to services, data protection rules, the ban on data manipulation, the principle of the integrity of content and the aim of establishing fair conditions of competition;

32.   Draws attention to the effects of the disparities between VAT systems at European level, which will be further accentuated with the arrival of connected TV;

33.   Calls on the Commission to propose Union legislation guaranteeing net neutrality;

34.   Calls on the Commission to safeguard by law the integrity of linear and non-linear services on hybrid platforms and, in particular, to prohibit the overlay or scaling of these services by platform providers or third parties with content or other services, unless the latter have been explicitly initiated by the user and, in the case of content which is not covered by the definition of individual communication, have been authorised by the content provider; points out that unauthorised interference by third parties with the content or broadcast signals of a provider and their unauthorised decryption, use or dissemination must likewise be prevented;

35.   Calls on the Commission to consider measures to take account of the risk of unauthorised sites being referenced on portals and search engines;

36.   Calls on the Commission to ensure that the level of protection in respect of audiovisual media services established by means of the special regulatory requirements of the Audiovisual Media Services Directive is not undermined by unauthorised provision of access on other platforms;

37.   Calls on the Commission to ensure that applications never start up automatically merely because a portal has been accessed, but that start-up must always be initiated by the user, that the return to the previously used service must always be straightforward and entail only the pressing of a button (e.g. red button function), which must be made clear to users, and that when an application is shut down the previously used service must reappear in full audiovisual quality;

38.   Calls on the Commission to ensure that a content provider can take legal action against such applications on hybrid platforms which make possible or encourage the unauthorised dissemination of content made available by the content provider;

39.   Calls on the Commission, where appropriate on copyright grounds, to work towards the establishment of straightforward rights clearance systems which make it possible for non‑linear services made available by media service providers to be mirrored unchanged and in full on third platforms;

40.   Calls on the Commission to ensure that the anonymous use of TV and on-line services by means of hybrid receiving devices that are sold in or imported into the EU is guaranteed in principle and that it is in full compliance with EU rules on privacy and data protection;

41.   Calls on the Commission to exclude audiovisual media services from liberalisation measures negotiated as part of international trade agreements, in view of their dual nature and their significance for society, and, at the same time, to ensure that the concept of ‘audiovisual media service’ is developed to reflect the ongoing process of digitalisation and media convergence;

42.   Calls on the Commission to ensure that future hybrid TV services also comply with existing legislation on child protection, on the ban on certain kinds of advertising for health reasons, on the ban on incitement to racial hatred, on the separation between news and advertising messages, on ownership transparency, privacy, etc., since these are rules which have become part of the acquis communautaire and which cannot be circumvented on the pretext of technological developments; in particular, calls for service providers and providers of hybrid TV equipment from outside the EU to be informed that the applicable law is that of the country where the service is provided and not the one where the providers have their registered office;

43.   Calls on the Member States, in the negotiations on the multiannual financial framework, to reconsider the cut in funding, from the figure of EUR 9,2 billion originally proposed to EUR 1 billion, for the Directorate-General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology (DG Connect, CNECT), in order to cover the further development of telecommunications infrastructure;

44.   Calls on the Commission to pay due attention to important audience protection issues such as the protection of minors, and believes that Electronic Programme Guides may be a possible platform on which to address these issues;

45.   Regrets the fact that there are still vast areas of Europe with limited internet infrastructure, and reminds the Commission that in order to unlock the potential of Connected TV it is vital for consumers to have access to high-speed internet;

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

(1) OJ L 95, 15.4.2010, p. 1.
(2) OJ L 108, 24.4.2002, p. 33.
(3) OJ L 337, 18.12.2009, p. 37.
(4) OJ L 108, 24.4.2002, p. 51.
(5) OJ L 337, 18.12.2009, p. 11.
(6) OJ L 108, 24.4.2002, p. 7.
(7) OJ L 108, 24.4.2002, p. 21.
(8) OJ L 204, 21.7.1998, p. 37
(9) OJ L 178, 17.7.2000, p. 1.
(10) OJ L 201, 31.7.2002, p. 37.
(11) OJ C 257, 27.10.2009, p. 1.
(12) OJ L 270, 7.10.1998, p. 48.
(13) OJ C 236 E, 12.8.2011, p. 24.


Draft amending budget No 1/2013 - Expenditure related to the accession of Croatia to the EU
PDF 204k   DOC 40k
European Parliament resolution of 4 July 2013 on the Council position on Draft amending budget No 1/2013 of the European Union for the financial year 2013, Section III – Commission (11607/2013 – C7-0199/2013 – 2013/2054(BUD) )
P7_TA(2013)0330 A7-0246/2013

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to Article 314 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union and Article 106a of the Euratom Treaty,

–   having regard to 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 and repealing Council Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 1605/2002 (1) ,

–   having regard to the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2013, as definitively adopted on 12 December 2012(2) ,

–   having regard to the Interinstitutional Agreement of 17 May 2006 between the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission on budgetary discipline and sound financial management(3) (hereinafter referred to as "IIA of 17 May 2006"), and in particular to point 29 thereof,

–   having regard to the proposal for a Decision of the European Parliament and of the Council amending the Interinstitutional Agreement of 17 May 2006 on budgetary discipline and sound financial management as regards the multiannual financial framework, to take account of the expenditure requirements resulting from the accession of Croatia to the European Union (COM(2013)0157 ),

–   having regard to Draft amending budget No 1/2013 of the European Union for the financial year 2013, which the Commission adopted on 18 March 2013 (COM(2013)0156 ),

–   having regard to the position adopted by the Council on 26 June 2013 on Draft amending budget No 1/2013 (11607/2013 – C7‑0199/2013 ),

–   having regard to Rules 75b and 75e of its Rules of Procedure,

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgets (A7-0246/2013 ),

A.   whereas Draft amending budget No 1/2013 aims to incorporate into the 2013 budget the commitment and payment appropriations needed to cover expenditure related to the accession of Croatia to the Union as from 1 July 2013;

B.   whereas in parallel, the Commission, pursuant to point 29 of the IIA of 17 May 2006, submitted a proposal for the adjustment of the multiannual financial framework to accommodate these changes;

C.   whereas the proposed increase of EUR 655,1 million in commitments and EUR 374 million in payments reflects the financial package agreed at the Accession Conference of 30 June 2011, excluding heading 5 since the administrative expenditure linked to the accession of Croatia is already included in the 2013 budget;

1.   Takes note of Draft amending budget No 1/2013, as submitted by the Commission, and of the Council's position thereon;

2.   Emphasises the purely technical nature of this Amending budget which is simply the consequence of the unanimous agreement on the Treaty concerning the accession of the Republic of Croatia to the European Union as the 28th Member State of the Union; stresses that for that reason this Amending budget has been kept separate from the ongoing political interinstitutional debate on how to settle the issue of outstanding payments from 2012 and from the negotiations on Draft amending budget No 2/2013;

3.   Recalls that, according to point 29 of the IIA of 17 May 2006, the resources to finance this Amending budget are to be covered through an adjustment of the financial framework, namely a revision of the ceilings for 2013 in commitments and payments;

4.   Reiterates its position that the eight-week period provided for by the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union to inform the national parliaments of any draft legislative act does not apply to budgetary issues; regrets therefore that despite the very tight timeframe for the entry into force of this Amending budget, the Council has nevertheless let this period elapse before adopting its position, thus squeezing the time for adoption by Parliament as provided for by the Treaty;

5.   Regrets furthermore the difficulty with which, even after the eight-week deadline had elapsed, the Council reached an agreement on this revision, which has led to a delay in the availability of the funding for Croatia due as from 1 July 2013; warns that this must not become a precedent for further enlargements;

6.   Welcomes the fact that the Council was eventually able to agree on a revision without any offsetting of the 2013 ceilings for payments by the required EUR 374 million; considers that, given the limited amount concerned and the current shortage of payment appropriations in the 2013 budget, this is the proper way to fulfil the obligation that the Member States took out when signing the Accession Treaty and to respect the provisions of point 29 of the IIA of 17 May 2006;

7.   Deplores the fact, however, that as regards the revision in commitments the Council decided to neglect the political importance of adopting the Commission's proposal as such, opting instead to offset the appropriations required; considers that that position contradicts the spirit of the unanimous decision taken when signing the Treaty of Accession as well as of the IIA of 17 May 2006; highlights that that decision sends a wrong political signal not only to Croatia but to the other candidate countries as well; stresses that that decision is accepted only because it concerns the last 6 months of the current MFF (2007-2013); points out that this should not constitute a precedent for future enlargements that might occur under the next MFF (2014-2020);

8.   Regrets that heading 5 has been identified as the main source for the offsetting in commitments, since this could lead to the lack of the necessary resources to cover the challenged salary adjustments in the event that the ruling of the Court of Justice is still delivered in 2013;

9.   Nevertheless, considering the political importance and the legal urgency of ensuring the necessary funding to Croatia, decides to approve, without amendment, Council's position on Draft amending budget No 1/2013;

10.   Instructs its President to declare that Amending budget No 1/2013 has been definitively adopted and arrange for its publication in the Official Journal of the European Union;

11.   Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission and the national parliaments.

(1) OJ L 298, 26.10.2012, p. 1.
(2) OJ L 66, 8.3.2013.
(3) OJ C 139, 14.6.2006, p. 1.


Proposal for a decision of the European Parliament and of the Council amending the Interinstitutional Agreement of 17 May 2006 on budgetary discipline and sound financial management as regards the multiannual financial framework, to take account of the expenditure requirements resulting from the accession of Croatia to the European Union
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Resolution
Annex
European Parliament resolution of 4 July 2013 on the proposal for a decision of the European Parliament and of the Council amending the Interinstitutional Agreement of 17 May 2006 on budgetary discipline and sound financial management as regards the multiannual financial framework, to take account of the expenditure requirements resulting from the accession of Croatia to the European Union (COM(2013)0157 – C7-0074/2013 – 2013/2055(ACI) )
P7_TA(2013)0331 A7-0247/2013

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to the Commission proposal to the European Parliament and the Council (COM(2013)0157 ),

–   having regard to the Interinstitutional Agreement of 17 May 2006 between the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission on budgetary discipline and sound financial management(1) (IIA of 17 May 2006), and in particular to point 29 thereof,

–   having regard to the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2013, as adopted on 12 December 2012(2) ,

–   having regard to Draft amending budget No 1/2013 of the European Union for the financial year 2013, which the Commission adopted on 18 March 2013 (COM(2013)0156 ),

–   having regard to the position on the draft amending budget No 1/2013, which the Council adopted on 26 June 2013 (11607/2013 – C7‑0199/2013 ),

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgets (A7-0247/2013 ),

A.   whereas the Commission, in conformity with point 29 of the IIA of 17 May 2006, has, in parallel to Amending budget No 1/2013, submitted to the budgetary authority a proposal aimed at adjusting the multiannual financial framework to incorporate into the 2013 budget the commitment and payment appropriations needed to cover expenditure related to the accession of Croatia to the Union as from 1 July 2013,

B.   whereas the proposed increase of EUR 666 million in commitments and EUR 374 million in payments reflects the financial package agreed at the Accession Conference of 30 June 2011, excluding heading 5 since the administrative expenditure linked to the accession of Croatia is already included in the 2013 budget,

1.   Takes note of the proposal for a decision amending the IIA of 17 May 2006, as submitted by the Commission, and of the Council's position thereon;

2.   Emphasises the purely technical nature of this revision, which is simply the consequence of the unanimous agreement on the Treaty concerning the Accession of the Republic of Croatia to the European Union (the Accession Treaty) as the 28th Member State of the Union; stresses that for that reason the revision of the IIA of 17 May 2006 accompanying Amending budget No 1/2013 has been kept separate from the ongoing political inter-institutional debate on how to settle the issue of outstanding payments from 2012 and from the negotiations on Amending budget No 2/2013;

3.   Recalls that, according to point 29 of the IIA of 17 May 2006, the resources to finance the accession of a new Member State to the Union are to be covered through an adjustment of the financial framework that is a revision of the ceilings for 2013 in commitments and payments;

4.   Reiterates its position that the eight-week period laid down in Article 4 of Protocol (No 1) on the Role of National Parliaments in the European Union to inform national parliaments of any draft legislative act does not apply to budgetary issues; regrets therefore that despite the very tight timeframe for the entry into force of this adjustment and of Amending Budget No 1/2013, the Council has nevertheless let this period elapse before adopting its position, thus squeezing the time for adoption by Parliament provided for by the Treaty;

5.   Regrets furthermore the difficulty with which, even after the eight-week deadline had elapsed, the Council reached an agreement on this revision, which has led to a delay in the availability of the funding for Croatia due as from 1 July 2013; warns that this must not become a precedent for further enlargements;

6.   Welcomes the fact that the Council was eventually able to agree on a revision without any offsetting of the 2013 ceilings for payments by the required EUR 374 million; considers that, given the limited amount concerned and the current shortage of payment appropriations in the 2013 budget, this is the proper way to fulfil the obligation that the Member States took out when signing the Accession Treaty and to respect the provisions of point 29 of the IIA of 17 May 2006;

7.   Deplores the fact, however, that as regards the revision in commitments the Council decided to neglect the political importance of adopting the Commission's proposal as such, opting instead to offset the appropriations required; considers that that position contradicts the spirit of the unanimous decision taken when signing the Treaty of Accession as well as of the IIA of 17 May 2006; highlights that such decision sends a wrong political signal not only to Croatia but to the other candidate countries as well; stresses that that decision is accepted only because it concerns the last 6 months of the current MFF (2007-2013); points out that this should not constitute a precedent for future enlargements that might occur under the next MFF (2014-2020);

8.   Regrets that heading 5 has been identified as the main source for the offsetting in commitments, since this could lead to the lack of the necessary resources to cover the challenged salary adjustments in the event that the ruling of the Court of Justice is still delivered in 2013;

9.   Nevertheless, considering the political importance and the legal urgency of ensuring the necessary funding to Croatia, decides to approve the decision annexed to this resolution, as amended by the Council;

10.   Instructs its President to sign the decision with the President of the Council and to arrange for its publication in the Official Journal of the European Union;

11.   Instructs its President to forward this resolution, including its annexes, to the Council and the Commission.

ANNEX

DECISION OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL

amending the Interinstitutional Agreement of 17 May 2006 on budgetary discipline and sound financial management as regards the multiannual financial framework, to take account of the expenditure requirements resulting from the accession of Croatia to the European Union

(The text of this annex is not reproduced here since it corresponds to the final act, Decision 2013/419/EU.)

(1) OJ C 139, 14.6.2006, p. 1.
(2) OJ L 66, 8.3.2013.


Preparation of the Commission Work Programme 2014
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European Parliament resolution of 4 July 2013 on the European Parliament’s priorities for the Commission Work Programme 2014 (2013/2679(RSP) )
P7_TA(2013)0332 B7-0315 , 0316 and 0325/2013

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to the Commission Communication on the Commission Work Programme for 2013 (COM(2012)0629 ),

–   having regard to the Europe 2020 Strategy,

–   having regard to the Conclusions of the European Council of 27-28 June 2013,

–   having regard to the last Framework Agreement on relations between the European Parliament and the Commission(1) , in particular Annex IV thereto,

–   having regard to Rule 35(3) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.   whereas the long crisis will not be overcome without a significant further deepening of European integration, and the financial, economic and debt crises have emphasised the need for reinforced democratic control and accountability;

B.   whereas the Commission should bring forward measures to preserve and strengthen the European social market economy models, with a view to repairing the damage done by the long recession and restoring full employment and sustainable growth;

C.   whereas the fragility of the banking system, the continuing debt and deficit problems faced by Member States, the loss of European competitiveness in the global economy, high youth unemployment and the social hardship which results from economic decline present the EU with unprecedented challenges;

D.   whereas budgetary choices at Union level must meet the EU’s political priorities, not only in terms of amount but also in terms of flexibility and equilibrium;

E.   whereas the role of the Commission is to promote the general interest of the EU, to take appropriate initiatives to that end, to ensure the application of the Treaties, to oversee the implementation of EU law, to exercise coordinating, executive and management functions, and to initiate legislation;

F.   whereas at the end of the current electoral mandate, all unfinished business lapses unless Parliament, the Council or the Commission make a reasoned request that specific items which have made significant progress in the ordinary legislative procedure be resumed by the newly elected Parliament;

PART 1

1.   Calls for a deeper democratic process in the field of economic governance, with closer involvement of Parliament, that will contribute to improving citizens’ confidence in EU management of the crisis; considers, in this connection, that the Commission should fulfil its Treaty role, which is incompatible with delegating a decision-making role in EU economic governance to unaccountable bodies; is concerned, in particular, to improve the accountability of the Commission when it acts in its capacity as a member of the Troika;

2.   Considers that, following the conclusion of the political negotiations on the MFF 2014-20, the Commission should ensure as a matter of priority the smooth functioning of the new financial framework, including the new rules on flexibility agreed in the framework of these negotiations; expects that the new Commission will, at the moment of its investiture, make a formal commitment to conduct the MFF revision by the end of 2016, which will also allow the new Parliament to reassess EU priorities;

3.   Is particularly concerned about the payments situation in 2014 and urges the Commission to come forward with amending budgets in the course of the year, whenever the need arises;

4.   Stresses the importance it attaches to the issue of reforming the system of EU own resources; calls on the Commission to ensure that the High-Level Group on own resources is convened and starts working as soon as possible, in order to ensure that a first set of findings is available by the end of 2014, as provided for in the Joint Declaration on Own Resources agreed as part of the MFF agreement;

5.   Recalls that the EU budget needs to reflect the EU’s policy priorities; stresses that the EU budget is an investment budget with a strong leverage effect; urges the Commission to defend the EU budget in order to boost strategic investment through European added value and put the European economy back on track;

6.   Believes that jobs are the top priority and that all available levies at European level must be used to preserve existing jobs and to create new ones for young people, especially in the fields of services, industry and the digital economy; believes, therefore, that investments to strengthen the EU’s competitiveness will play a key role in the next year and in the years to follow;

7.   Welcomes the commitment of the European Council of 27-28 June 2013 to complete the building of a genuine Economic and Monetary Union, involving all the elements of the Banking Union, more effective coordination of economic policies, the development of financial solidarity mechanisms and the strengthening of the social dimension, but regrets the failure to make more rapid progress; calls on the Commission to come forward with a communication on the social dimension of the EMU;

8.   Insists on the early completion of all the legislation necessary to put in place a single supervisory mechanism based on the European Central Bank;

9.   Supports the Europe 2020 growth strategy, the objective of which is to put in place the right policy framework for encouraging enterprise, creating jobs, raising living standards and developing a sustainable economy;

10.   Highlights the need to improve the macroeconomic environment for industry, improving access to capital, providing better infrastructure, protecting property rights and supporting SMEs in particular, in order to increase their competitiveness and access to new markets;

11.   Calls for action to complete the Commission’s current work programme before the end of its mandate, in particular with respect to the single market in services, the digital agenda, the internal market in energy, and the extension of deep, free and fair trade agreements;

12.   Urges the Commission to intensify and reinforce its efforts to protect the financial interests of the EU, to make a proposal on the establishment of a European Public Prosecutor’s Office and to complete delayed reform of the European Anti-Fraud Office;

13.   Proposes to engage in intensive negotiation with the Council and Commission before the end of its mandate to complete as many dossiers as possible, fully respecting the legislative procedures as laid down in the Lisbon Treaty; reiterates that it cannot accept any further intergovernmental elements relating to the EMU;

14.   Calls on the Commission to take due note of the sector-specific positions of Parliament as set out in Part 2 of this resolution;

PART 2

Implementation

15.   Urges the Commission to improve the coherence of its legislative programme, to raise the quality of its legislative drafting, to strengthen its impact assessment of draft laws, to propose wherever appropriate the use of correlation tables with a view to better transposition of EU law, and to back Parliament in its negotiations with the Council on the use of delegated and implementing acts, which risk causing significant blockages in the legislative process;

16.   Urges the Commission to propose the introduction of proper national management declarations signed at the appropriate political level covering EU funds under shared management; stresses the need to keep strict and credible scrutiny through close controls on funding and to monitor the cost-effectiveness of EU financing and administration, thus ensuring high value for money of EU action, but also ensuring that revenues are collected in accordance with the applicable rules;

17.   Believes that cooperation between the EU institutions must be improved and modernised in order to become more efficient and allow for deeper democratic scrutiny of the executive powers at EU level; notes that the 2010 Interinstitutional Agreement needs to be revised; calls for closer coordination with the Council, in accordance with the Lisbon Treaty; stresses that the Community method, which allows public debates through the democratic involvement of Parliament must always be favoured; believes, moreover, that complex legislation, especially in the field of financial services, warrants sufficiently large public and parliamentary debate;

18.   Regrets, despite successive promises made by the Commission, the failure to transpose several announced goals into reality, both in quantitative and qualitative terms; urges the Commission to engage with the two co-legislators in an intensive dialogue on delivery and on adoption of the remaining announced legislative proposals;

19.   Urges the Commission to facilitate the rapid completion of the trilogue on the European political party statute in time for the elections to the European Parliament;

Single market

20.   Recalls the key role played by the single market as an engine for EU integration, economic growth and employment and as a pillar of the EU real economy; calls, therefore, on the Commission to focus on Single Market Governance in order to streamline the adoption and enforcement of legislative and policy priorities and to develop a regular assessment of single market integration – based on the single market integration report accompanying the annual growth surveys (AGSs) and on country-specific recommendations – within the European Semester framework;

21.   Calls on the Commission to continue to focus on improving the governance of the single market, to renew its drive to administrative simplification, to give due weight to the consideration of the proportionality of proposed measures, and to monitor progress with a view to the full implementation of the single market acquis, especially in the services sector;

22.   Welcomes the Commission’s Single Market Act II proposals for priority actions to boost growth, employment and confidence in the single market;

23.   Urges the full application of the Services Directive; calls on the Commission to assist Member States in promoting access to the single market for services; asks the Commission to review restrictive practices in place, such as the ‘economic needs test’;

24.   Calls on the Commission to monitor carefully and rigorously the implementation and enforcement of the Consumer Agenda, consumer protection and confidence in the single market; asks the Commission, given that consumer trust and confidence is the foundation of a well-functioning single market, actively to pursue, with the Member States, the speedy implementation of the Consumer Rights Directive, Alternative Dispute Resolution Directive and Online Dispute Resolution Regulation, and to review the operation of the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive;

25.   Welcomes the new Consumer Product Safety Regulation, which guarantees consumer health and safety but also facilitates trade in goods, especially for SMEs;

26.   Urges the Commission to implement the Modernised Customs Code by fully developing harmonised e-customs practices;

27.   Calls on the Commission to be more systematic in assessing the impact of its proposals on SMEs on which Europe relies for many new jobs; in this regard, urges the Commission actively to discourage ‘gold-plating’ of EU law at national level, something which distorts the level playing field in the single market;

28.   Underlines the importance of taking measures to improve access to finance for SMEs; calls on the Commission to strengthen and implement the measures foreseen in the Entrepreneurship Action Plan and to accelerate the adoption of an entrepreneurship initiative; calls for an SME Window financing facility under the future COSME and Horizon 2020 Programmes, involving the EIF and the EIB, to be swiftly launched to facilitate public and private funds investments in innovative and sustainable new businesses, including growth-oriented SMEs;

29.   Requests that the Commission enforce the agreement between the three institutions to make good on their better lawmaking commitments, including Member States, which should all be encouraged by the Commission to carry out their own SME and single market tests; in this regard, notes that the Council should set up its own impact assessment unit to produce impact assessments on its own amendments; stresses the importance of fitness checks in the Better Regulation agenda;

30.   Calls on the Commission to promote the interests of SMEs and microenterprises by ensuring easier access to Europe’s single market; welcomes the steps already taken by the Commission to reduce regulatory burdens on SMEs and microenterprises arising from EU legislation;

31.   Calls on the Commission to table a legislative proposal on better governance of the single market, based on the legislative initiative report thereon, in view of the key contribution that the single market can make to growth in the European Union;

32.   Welcomes political agreement on the public procurement and concessions package; urges the Commission and the Member States to begin a speedy and comprehensive implementation of its new provisions; calls, in particular, for the development of a communication and training strategy to promote new skills and capabilities in innovative and outcome-based procurement;

33.   Notes the agreement now confirmed with the Council on reforms of the Mutual Recognition of Professional Qualifications Directive; calls for the early implementation of the new provisions and new professions to be encouraged to establish European qualifications frameworks;

34.   Welcomes the Commission proposal on disclosure of non-financial information and calls on the Commission to work closely with Parliament and the Council to reach a conclusion by early 2014;

35.   Reiterates its request for a proposal on a 14th Company Law Directive on the cross-border transfer of company seats;

36.   Calls for a revitalisation of Europe’s industry, with the aim of creating jobs, supporting sustainable growth and ensuring good working conditions for all Europeans;

37.   Requests that the Commission promote a further single market initiative by putting forward proposals to develop, complete and implement the digital single market, such as a new strategic framework encompassing availability and the EU cross-border portability of digital content, and, in particular, initiatives to generate more consumer trust, including measures to facilitate online payments and improve digital delivery and infrastructures;

38.   Urges the Commission to pursue its copyright reform, to ensure that it is fit for the internet environment; reiterates the need to complete industrial property rights reform to boost Europe’s growth and job creation;

39.   Considers it essential for the stability the EU economy, and for a return to sustainable economic growth, to successfully establish a Banking Union through the setting-up of the single supervisory mechanism together with a single resolution mechanism for banks and an EU framework for the national deposit guarantee schemes; asks the Commission, in this connection, to present without delay all necessary proposals, along with the regulatory technical standards needed for the proper implementation of the CRD 4 package;

40.   Stresses that in the interest of further enhancing the efficiency and robustness of the Union’s financial markets as quickly as possible, the pending Commission proposals on financial services must be adopted swiftly, thus avoiding delays in the entry into force of the relevant legislation;

41.   Calls on the Commission to adopt as quickly as possible its proposals on a draft regulation establishing a Single Resolution Mechanism and on the follow-up to the recommendations on bank structural reform; underlines the importance of the co-legislators dealing swiftly with these proposals, to allow their speedy entry into force;

42.   Points out that research and innovation are vital to EU competitiveness, through the establishment of research and innovation programmes, the simplification of procedures, the pooling and coordination of financing at all relevant levels (EU/Member State/region) and the establishment of synergies between European programmes, and calls on the Commission to implement these principles;

43.   Notes the agreement on Horizon 2020 to enable a seamless transition from FP7 and to ensure the continuity of the EU’s core research and innovation policy, which has suffered in past programmes as a result of last-minute agreements being concluded between the Council and Parliament;

44.   Calls on the Commission to come up with an appropriate proposal for a common EU definition of tax havens and to introduce a black list of non-cooperative third countries and jurisdictions; urges Member States to follow up on their commitments to implement the Commission’s recommendations on measures intended to encourage third countries to apply minimum standards of good governance in tax matters and aggressive tax planning, and to take the necessary measures to strengthen the fight against tax fraud and tax evasion;

Climate, environment, energy and transport

45.   Insists on the need to implement the roadmap to a resource-efficient Europe in order to create incentives for the development of the green economy, the fostering of biodiversity and the fight against climate change, including the integration of resource efficiency measures in the European Semester, as foreseen in Europe 2020;

46.   Calls on the Commission to bring forward without delay proposals to address the structural weaknesses of the current Emissions Trading System;

47.   Expects the Commission to submit without further delay legislative proposals to revise the air quality legislation, in order to deliver enhanced protection from the negative impacts of air pollution on human health;

48.   Stresses that achieving a comprehensive UN climate agreement in 2015 in line with the EU 2°C objective is of the highest priority, and recognises that decisions on the EU climate and energy policy framework in 2014 will be necessary in order to spur momentum in international negotiations to achieve that goal;

49.   Urges the Commission to speed up work on the revision of the hygiene package, given recent events surrounding fraudulent practices related to meat products in the EU;

50.   Asks the Commission to come up with an overall review of the EU’s waste policy and legislation, including the targets of the waste acquis and the diversion targets of the Landfill Directive;

51.   Calls on the Commission to present a detailed action plan of measures designed to achieve a fully integrated and interconnected single market in energy; highlights the need to provide consumers with transparent and comparable energy prices;

52.   Stresses once more that energy efficiency and savings are the cheapest way to reduce energy costs and lower fossil fuel imports, and should therefore be at the core of any energy policy measure proposed;

53.   Emphasises the need to complete the single market for all modes of transport, including the further liberalisation of the road haulage market, so that free movement of goods and services is guaranteed with clear and easily enforceable rules for free and fair competition and reduced administrative burdens on SMEs; urges the Commission, nevertheless, to draw up a report on the state of the EU road transport market by the end of 2013 and complete all necessary analyses before coming up with legislative proposals;

54.   Regards the Single European Sky (SES), designed more than 10 years ago, as a very important project; fears that if the European Union does not act in the coming years the central airspace of Europe will become so saturated that growth will no longer be possible; calls, therefore, for a reform of the airspace, an idea that has already been adopted by Member States through the reform of existing systems of air traffic control and the introduction of functional airspace blocks (FABs); welcomes the fact that SESAR, the SES technology element, is developing well; stresses that the new system will be beneficial for all, in particular for the European airlines; urges the Commission to make all FABs operational; calls for encouragement for greater use of regional airports;

55.   Calls on the Commission to honour its commitment to guarantee the full completion of the single European rail area, and to extend the competences of the European Railway Agency in the field of certification and safety, as well as homologation of rolling stocks;

56.   Calls for proposals to accomplish the single European telecommunications market, including measures to abolish roaming charges, no later than 2015;

Cohesive and inclusive societies – Citizens’ Europe

57.   Stresses that the European Union’s cohesion policy is providing investment for sustainable growth and jobs as well as for improved competitiveness in Europe, in line with the objectives of economic, social and territorial cohesion in the EU; recalls that the cohesion policy is the main investment tool for the achievement of the Europe 2020 objectives; calls, therefore, on the Commission to take appropriate action in a prompt manner, so as to guarantee a timely start, as well as to set clear conditions to allow implementation of the 2014-2020 operational programmes in the Member States; urges the Commission to table immediately a revised draft of Regulation (EC) No 2012/2002 on the European Solidarity Fund;

58.   Stresses that the comprehensive legislative package of the regulations on cohesion policy in the next Multiannual Financial Framework 2014-2020 is necessary for the appropriate implementation of the multiannual budget; notes that these regulations must be supplemented by the adoption of implementing and delegated acts;

59.   Calls on the Commission to promote measures such as reform of labour markets where structural problems are hindering the entrance of young people, and to support Member States in implementing a Youth Guarantee with a view to helping young people into jobs or education;

60.   Notes that there is a large unfulfilled demand for skilled personnel in information technology and system development; suggests that this sector should be one of the priorities for training and development support in the European Youth Employment Initiative;

61.   Asks the Commission to present a proposal for a directive on work-related musculoskeletal disorders and a revision of Directive 2004/37/EC on the protection of workers from the risks related to carcinogens and mutagens at work;

62.   Calls on the Commission to ensure through the revised employment guidelines in 2014 that employment and social policies must play an active role in the response to the crisis; urges the Commission, in this regard, to help the Member States to develop strategies for building new skills and helping unemployed persons find their way into the labour market as soon as possible; highlights, nevertheless, the fact that a major effort should be made through the Youth Employment Initiative to provide support in the Union’s most seriously affected regions to vulnerable groups, and to young people not in employment, education or training (NEETs), who are unemployed or inactive, by accelerating the delivery of activities supported by ESF funding;

63.   Calls on the Commission to produce an annual report on the reform of vocational training systems in the Member States, thereby making a long-term structural contribution to improving young people’s employability;

64.   Supports initiatives at EU level to complement national efforts in increasing micro-credit and boosting social entrepreneurship providing services that are not sufficiently provided by the public or private sector;

65.   Reiterates its demand for a review of the Directive on ‘The Application of the principle of equal pay for male and female workers for equal work of equal value’; calls for renewed efforts by the Commission to unblock the Maternity Leave Directive and for a follow-up to the preparation of the cost benefit study regarding paternity leave;

66.   Insists that the Commission should come forward with a strategy on the eradication of violence against women, as requested by Parliament in several resolutions, and that the EU should become a party to the Council of Europe’s Convention on ‘Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence’, which would give a strong impetus to the 26 Member States that have still not signed and ratified the Convention;

67.   Recalls that anti-discrimination policy plays a key role in promoting social inclusion and calls on the Commission to propose an EU roadmap against homophobia and discrimination; urges the Commission to ensure that national strategies for the integration of Roma in Member states are developed and effectively implemented and that discrimination is condemned and raised in dialogues with third countries, as well as incorporating the fight against discrimination into cooperation programmes;

68.   Stresses the importance to be given to the sectors of education, culture, audiovisual, youth, sport and citizenship, and to ensuring that they have adequate and efficient budgets;

69.   Calls on the Commission to investigate the underlying problems of incomplete recognition of courses passed and accumulated European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS) points at home universities for students who complete study period at other universities under the Erasmus programme;

70.   Urges a comprehensive agreement on the data protection package which ensures a uniform and high level of protection for data subjects and a level playing field for business;

71.   Considers that, in the interest of safeguarding the security of European citizens, the continued fight against terrorism is of paramount concern to the European Union, and calls strongly for a revision of the European legislation on data retention;

72.   Calls on the Commission to continue as a matter of urgency its work on the EU-US agreement on the protection of personal data and reiterates the urgency of its rapid conclusion;

73.   Suggests that proposals for mutual recognition of the effects of certain civil status documents, together with minimum standards for civil procedures, would be indicative of an important step forward in the creation of an area of justice, with simpler, clearer and more accessible procedures for citizens, and greater trust in the mutual recognition of civil justice measures;

74.   Urges the Commission to make optimum use of the EU Strategy towards the Eradication of Trafficking in Human Beings 2012-2016 in tackling the problem of human trafficking;

75.   Calls on the Commission to propose the enlargement of the scoreboard on justice to cover also the rule of law, democracy and fundamental rights;

76.   Stresses the importance of tackling organised crime, money laundering, and fraud and corruption against the EU’s financial interests at cross border level;

77.   Calls on the Commission to complete the roadmap on procedural rights and to monitor the transposition of the adopted directives, ensuring that the basic rights of suspects and accused persons are protected sufficiently through common minimum standards of procedural rights in criminal proceedings and rendering effective the principle of mutual recognition;

78.   Supports the Commission in its work on victims’ rights and asks the Commission to assist Member States in ensuring full and proper implementation by all Member States of the directive establishing minimum standards on the rights, support and protection of victims of crime by 16 November 2015;

79.   Welcomes the Commission proposal on conditions of entry and residence for researchers, students, pupil exchanges, trainees and volunteers; calls for further substantive proposals on legal migration;

80.   Calls on the Commission to issue guidelines to ensure that the Schengen rules are correctly implemented by the Member States so that freedom of movement of persons is fully respected and any misuse or abuse of the possibility of reintroducing controls at the internal borders is avoided;

81.   Calls on Commission to ensure that the Common European Asylum System is properly implemented throughout the EU, respecting the commitment called for in the Treaty;

82.   Expects the Commission to come up with new proposals or further examine the revision of existing legislation in the field of substantive and procedural law, in particular Rome II and Brussels II;

83.   Calls on the Commission to assess the implementation of the regulation on the European Citizens’ Initiative and to amend it, where appropriate;

Agriculture and fisheries

84.   Calls on the Commission to guarantee a swift and correct implementation of the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) that will result in a strong, sustainable and fair CAP that serves European farmers and consumers, promotes rural development and protects the environment;

85.   Recognises that the implementation will be the main focus of activities in 2014; calls on the Commission therefore to ensure effective implementation of the final agreements of the CAP reform that minimise the burden on farmers and on the administrative bodies of the Member States whilst ensuring that the new rules are effectively, rigorously and transparently implemented;

86.   Notes the Commission’s intention to bring forward legislation on the use of animal cloning techniques for food production; urges the Commission, in drawing up the proposal, to consider recent concerns over labelling and the consistent application of legislation related to the EU food chain, while applying the latest scientific and technological developments in this field;

87.   Welcomes the Commission’s proposal for a new animal health strategy, as well as its commitment to ensuring consistency amongst the horizontal principles of the legislation in the fields of animal health, animal welfare and food safety; calls for a close alignment of the animal health strategy with the Europe 2020 strategy in order to ensure the smooth functioning of the internal market in animals and animal products while, at the same time, enhancing the sustainability and competitiveness of European agriculture;

88.   Calls on the Commission to take the necessary steps to help Member States implement the newly adopted Common Fisheries Policy in compliance with the future European Maritime and Fisheries Fund; expects the Commission to ensure that Article 43(2) TFEU forms the legal basis of its proposals and to limit the use of Article 43(3) to proposals strictly connected to the setting and allocation of fishing opportunities; to this end, expects the Commission to help establish an interinstitutional taskforce composed of representatives from all three institutions to identify the most appropriate ways forward;

89.   Stresses that the new European Maritime and Fisheries Fund must improve the measures aimed at reducing fleet capacity; insists that the new Common Fisheries Policy must be underpinned by reinforced control measures;

90.   Calls on the Commission to continue to strengthen its fight illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing;

Foreign and development policies

91.   Expects the Commission to continue to support the EU’s traditional enlargement policy; believes that the Union would lose political credibility worldwide were it to close its doors to its neighbours;

92.   Recalls that the Eastern and Southern Neighbourhood continues to be a priority, and stresses that the new EU strategy and the More for More principle still need to be clearly defined and implemented;

93.   Stresses the importance of reaffirming with greater determination the enlargement perspective for the Western Balkan countries and shares the Commission’s recommendation to start EU accession talks with Serbia and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM); calls on the Commission to engage with Turkey as a candidate country and welcomes, especially, the opening of accession chapter 22 on regional policy;

94.   Calls on the Commission to increase activities aimed at the development of the Eastern Partnership, especially in the field of mobility and educational cooperation;

95.   Calls for the Commission to contribute constructively to the review of the European External Action Service (EEAS) with a view to working together with the Council and Parliament to support well-coordinated initiatives in the field of common foreign and security policy; calls for more flexibility in disbursing financial assistance in crisis situations;

96.   Reminds the Commission of the need to improve its evaluation of the implementation of the consensus on humanitarian aid, its complementarity with Member States and donors and the need to review Council Regulation (EC) No 1257/1996;

97.   Calls on the EEAS to further the promotion and implementation of the concept of the ‘responsibility to protect’(R2P), in line with Parliament’s recommendation of 18 April 2013(2) to the Council of the UN principle with the aim of establishing a ‘European consensus on R2P’;

98.   Calls on the Commission to increase the quantity and efficiency of EU humanitarian aid and assistance delivery to people in need of basic goods and services in Syria and among refugees from Syria in neighbouring countries;

99.   Calls on the Commission to put forward a proposal setting up a mechanism, financed by the relevant EU external action financial instrument and composed of a team of national and international investigators, prosecutors, lawyers and other experts from EU Member States, as well as other countries concerned (Switzerland, Canada and the United States), aiming to provide legal and technical advice and assistance to the authorities of the Arab Spring countries on the recovery of misappropriated assets stolen by former dictators, their families and regimes;

100.   Calls on the Commission to shift its focus away from a prevailing input-orientated development policy to a results-orientated development policy, with precise annual figures on development achievements and to ensure the EU’s development efforts have a lasting impact on eradicating poverty;

101.   Calls on the Commission to pragmatically address the issue of property rights in developing countries and to devise a coherent approach in conjunction with the other international development partners in order to kick-start a process of empowering local communities and individuals in developing countries; points out that this is a process that constitutes one of the cornerstones of development and one that could lift entire nations out of poverty and intensify economic activities in developing countries;

102.   Points out that in order to increase aid efficiency it is also crucial to guarantee greater policy coherence, whereby all EU policy areas, especially those with a significant impact in developing countries, contribute to wealth creation in developing countries; points out that it is also necessary to increase coordination among the Member States;

103.   Points out that addressing child malnutrition and food security, combating gendercide – the persistent selection, practised on an enormous scale, of males over females – and promoting the provision of health insurance and pensions in developing countries remain high priorities;

104.   Underlines the fact that disaster risk reduction is also an important strategy that needs to be improved;

105.   Calls for the effectiveness of development aid to be improved by enhancing coordination and complementarities, and by regularly assessing the outputs, outcomes and impact of such aid;

Trade

106.   Remains committed to a multilateral approach to international trade and calls on the Commission to support current WTO initiatives; urges the facilitation of the accession of China to the Agreement on Government Procurement; recognises the need for continuing progress in reaching bilateral free trade agreements with significant partners, and in particular the USA; asks the Commission, therefore, to concentrate human resources and political efforts on the ongoing trade negotiations with third countries and, in particular, with strategic partners, with a view to making substantial progress towards a balanced final agreement; asks the Commission fully to involve Parliament in this process, in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union;

107.   Calls on the Commission to launch a process of deep reflection, with the involvement of Parliament, on the future international trade strategy, including a possible reform of the functioning of the WTO; stresses that this assessment must take full account of the outcomes for the EU economy of the recent international trade strategy;

o
o   o

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

(1) OJ L 304, 20.11.2010, p. 47.
(2) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0180 .


Situation in Egypt
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European Parliament resolution of 4 July 2013 on the crisis in Egypt (2013/2697(RSP) )
P7_TA(2013)0333 B7-0362 , 0364 , 0365 , 0366 and 0367/2013

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to the statements of General Abdul Fatah Khalil Al-Sisi, Chairman of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces of Egypt, of 4 July 2013,

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

A.   whereas, in its statement of 4 July 2013, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces announced the suspension of the constitution, the transfer of power to the head of the High Constitutional Court until early presidential elections are held, to be followed by parliamentary elections, and the forming of a national coalition government and a committee to look into amendments to the constitution; whereas Mr Adly Mansour has been sworn in as interim President;

1.   Expresses its deep concern at the situation in Egypt following the military intervention; underlines that power should be transferred to democratically-elected civilian authorities as soon as possible; expresses its fundamental solidarity with all those Egyptians who cherish democratic aspirations for their country and calls for a rapid return to the democratic process, including the holding of free and fair presidential and parliamentary elections in a fully inclusive process with the participation of all democratic actors;

2.   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 Egypt.


Situation in Djibouti
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European Parliament resolution of 4 July 2013 on the situation in Djibouti (2013/2690(RSP) )
P7_TA(2013)0334 B7-0347 , 0348 , 0349 , 0351 and 0355/2013

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to its earlier resolutions of 15 January 2009(1) on the situation in the Horn of Africa and 18 December 1997 on the human rights situation in Djibouti(2) ,

–   having regard to the joint declaration made in Djibouti on 24 February 2013 by the international observation missions (from the African Union (AU), the Arab League, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD)) which monitored the parliamentary elections held in the Republic of Djibouti on 22 February 2013,

–   having regard to the African Charter of Human and Peoples’ Rights, which Djibouti has ratified,

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

–   having regard to the Cotonou Agreement signed on 23 June 2000 and revised on 22 June 2010,

–   having regard to the statement of 12 March 2013 by the spokesperson of Catherine Ashton, High Representative of the EU, on the situation following the parliamentary elections in Djibouti,

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

A.   whereas, by virtue of its position at the tip of the Horn of Africa and the entrance to the Red Sea, Djibouti and its strategic infrastructure (ports and free zones) is important for the whole region;

B.   whereas Djibouti has played a key role in combating piracy and terrorism in the region;

C.   whereas Djibouti had a single-party system from the time of its independence in 1977 until 2003;

D.   whereas the country has been in the grip of a serious political crisis since the parliamentary elections of 22 February 2013;

E.   whereas Ismail Omar Guelleh, who came to power in 1999, was re-elected in 2005 with 100 % of the votes and announced that he would not stand again for election in 2016; whereas President Guelleh was re-elected in April 2011 with close to 80 % of the votes in elections that were boycotted by a large section of the opposition after the Djibouti Parliament had amended the constitution to allow President Guelleh to seek a new term;

F.   whereas, for the first time since President Guelleh came to power, the opposition parties, in the hope that democratic pluralism would prevail, decided to take part in the parliamentary elections of 22 February 2013, following the introduction of a new, partly proportional voting system enabling minority parties to win seats in parliament;

G.   whereas those elections were monitored by AU, Arab League, OIC and IGAD observers, who oversaw operations at 154 polling stations and 12 counting centres and reported that the elections had been transparent and that no instances of fraud or ballot box stuffing had been detected;

H.   whereas, according to the results announced by the Constitutional Council, the Union for the Presidential Majority (UMP) gained 68 % of the votes;

I.   whereas the opposition, which for the first time since the country’s independence won seats in parliament, said that there had been massive fraud and claimed that it had won the elections; whereas the Constitutional Council rejected the appeal lodged by the opposition against the results of the elections;

J.   whereas the opposition is boycotting the parliament formed following the elections; whereas the authorities have condemned the setting up by a section of the opposition of a ‘Legitimate National Assembly’ (ANL) in parallel to the national parliament following the disputed elections of February 2013; whereas the ANL is presided over by the head of the Union for National Salvation (USN) list of candidates for the Djibouti City constituency, Ismail Guedi Hared;

K.   whereas the results of the parliamentary elections of 22 February 2013 have still not been published for each polling station, in spite of the calls made by the EU, giving rise to suspicions of fraud;

L.   whereas the number of voters registered in the Djibouti City constituency changed every time official figures were announced;

M.   whereas the suppression, by the disproportionate use of force, of demonstrations by opposition parties contesting the regularity of the parliamentary elections is reported to have resulted in at least 10 deaths caused by shooting by the forces of law and order;

N.   having regard to the mass arrests of opposition demonstrators; whereas NGOs are raising the alarm about suspect deaths, torture and disappearances;

O.   whereas, since the elections of 22 February 2013, more than a thousand members of the opposition are said to have been imprisoned for longer or shorter periods;

P.   whereas some 60 political prisoners are currently said to be in detention; having regard to the constant repression by the authorities of opposition political militants;

Q.   having regard to the prosecutions brought against most opposition leaders and many journalists;

R.   whereas the journalist Mydaneh Abdallah Okieh, who is also responsible for communication by the opposition coalition USN, is accused of ‘slandering the police’ for having posted on the social network Facebook pictures of demonstrators who were victims of repression; whereas on 26 June 2013 the Court of Appeal increased his sentence from 45 days to five months;

S.   having regard to the sentencing, in April 2013, to two years’ imprisonment and to deprivation of their civic and civil rights of the three leaders of the opposition coalition USN; whereas the hearing of their appeal has been held over until 25 November 2013;

T.   having regard in this context to the arrest of the spokesperson of the USN opposition, Daher Ahmed Farah, on 4 March 2013; whereas he was found guilty of having called for a rebellion after the parliamentary elections of February 2013; whereas two other people were charged in the same case, one of whom received a suspended sentence of imprisonment while the other was acquitted; whereas on 26 June 2013 the Court of Appeal again sentenced Daher Ahmed Farah to two months’ unconditional imprisonment;

U.   having regard to the extremely worrying detention conditions in Djibouti’s prisons;

V.   whereas the 1992 Constitution recognises fundamental liberties and basic principles of good governance;

W.   whereas Article 10 of the Constitution stipulates that ‘the right of defence, including the right to enlist the assistance of the lawyer of one’s choice, shall be guaranteed at all stages of the procedure’;

X.   whereas Djibouti is a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights as well as the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights;

Y.   whereas Djiboutian women are confronted with diverse forms of violence – including rape, female genital mutilation, domestic violence, sexual harassment and early marriage – which have far-reaching negative consequences for the physical and psychological well-being of women;

Z.   whereas Djibouti is ranked 167th (out of 179 countries), in the worldwide index of press freedoms 2013 compiled by Reporters Without Borders; having regard to the ban on travel to Djibouti by foreign journalists and the difficulties which it is causing in obtaining reliable information about what is happening in the country;

AA.   whereas in March 2012, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) estimated that 180 000 people in Djibouti were in need of food aid;

AB.   whereas, in the past 20 years, the European Union and its Member States have been the main providers of financial support to Djibouti; whereas the payments made by the USA, Japan and France for the occupation of their military bases represent a source of revenue ensuring continuous growth for Djibouti;

AC.   whereas respect for human rights, democratic principles and the rule of law are the very foundation of the ACP-EU partnership and constitute essential elements of the Cotonou Agreement;

1.   Expresses its strong concern about the situation in Djibouti since the parliamentary elections of 22 February 2013 and the tense political climate in the country; is particularly concerned about reports of mass arrests of members of the opposition, suppression of demonstrations held to protest about irregularities in the elections, and assaults on the freedom of the media;

2.   Calls on the Djibouti authorities to put an end to repression of political adversaries and to release everybody who is being detained on political grounds;

3.   Calls on the Djiboutian authorities to guarantee respect for the human rights recognised in the national and international agreements which Djibouti has signed and to safeguard civil and political rights and freedoms, including the right to demonstrate peacefully and freedom of the press;

4.   Strongly condemns the acts of sexual violence against women, and points out that the Government of Djibouti has a responsibility to put an end to impunity by bringing those responsible for sexual violence against women to justice;

5.   Calls for the rights of the defence to be respected, in particular the right of accused persons to have access to a lawyer of their choice at all stages of the proceedings against them; calls on the authorities to allow the families of persons in detention to bring them material aid, in particular medical supplies;

6.   Calls on the Government of Djibouti, with the aid of the institutions which validated the results of the election, in particular the African Union, to embark on a process of political dialogue with the opposition, in accordance with the announcement made by the Head of State on 27 June 2013 on the occasion of the anniversary of Djibouti’s independence; calls on the European Union to support the work of regional organisations and contribute to the efforts to find a political solution to the current crisis;

7.   Calls for a judicial investigation to be opened immediately with the aim of shedding light on the actions of the police and army during demonstrations and punishing the perpetrators of human rights violations;

8.   Welcomes the fact that the 22 February 2013 election passed off peacefully, as emphasised by various representatives of the international community, including the Vice-President/High Representative and the heads of the four election observation missions sent to Djibouti; welcomes the commitment to the future of their country shown by the people of Djibouti and all the political parties through their participation in the election;

9.   Welcomes the fact that the 22 February 2013 election saw opposition forces, i.e. the Union for National Salvation (USN), take part for the first time since Djibouti became independent in 1977;

10.   Reiterates the European Union’s call for the results from each polling station used in the 22 February 2013 election to be published;

11.   Calls on all political forces in Djibouti to respect the rule of law, including the right to demonstrate peacefully, and not to engage in violence and repressive measures;

12.   States its willingness to monitor the situation in Djibouti closely and to propose restrictive measures in the event of a breach of the Cotonou Agreement (2000), and in particular Articles 8 and 9 thereof; calls on the Commission likewise to monitor the situation closely;

13.   Urges the EEAS, the Commission and their partners to work with the Djiboutians on long-term political reform, which should be particularly facilitated by the strong relationship that already exists considering that Djibouti has been a key component of the fight against terrorism and the region as well as hosting a military bases;

14.   Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Government of Djibouti, the institutions of the African Union, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, the Arab League, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and the Co-Presidents of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly.

(1) OJ C 46 E, 24.2.2010, p. 102.
(2) OJ C 14, 19.1.1998, p. 207.


Situation in Nigeria
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European Parliament resolution of 4 July 2013 on the situation in Nigeria (2013/2691(RSP) )
P7_TA(2013)0335 B7-0344 , 0345 , 0346 , 0350 and 0353/2013

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to its resolutions of 13 June 2013 on the freedom of the press and media in the world(1) , of 11 December 2012 on a digital freedom strategy in EU foreign policy(2) , of 5 July 2012 on violence against lesbians and LGBT rights in Africa(3) , and of 15 March 2012 on the situation in Nigeria(4) ,

–   having regard to the statements by the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security, Catherine Ashton, on 22 January 2012 on the bombings in Kano, on 11 March 2013 on the killings of hostages, on 2 June 2013 on the bill in Nigeria criminalising same-sex marriage and relationships, and on 25 June 2013 on executions in Nigeria,

–   having regard to the EU-Nigeria human rights dialogue held in Abuja in March 2013 and to the Nigeria-EU Ministerial Meeting of 16 May 2013 in Brussels, which established the need to balance counterterrorism measures with the loss of civilian lives and destruction of public infrastructure,

–   having regard to the resolution of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly, meeting in May 2013 in Horsens (Denmark), on the situation in Nigeria,

–   having regard to the Council of the European Union’s Guidelines to Promote and Protect the Enjoyment of all Human Rights by Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) People,

–   having regard to the Cotonou Agreement of 2000 and its 2005 and 2010 revisions (the latter ratified by Nigeria on 27 September 2010), and in particular Articles 8 and 9 thereof concerning political dialogue and human rights, democracy and the rule of law,

–   having regard to the statements made by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on 16 May 2013 on the continued violence and deteriorating security situation in north-east Nigeria, and on 22 April 2013 on the high number of civilians killed and homes destroyed in Nigeria due to clashes between military forces and the Boko Haram rebel group,

–   having regard to the statements made by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, on 3 May 2013 in response to the violent clashes of April 2013, reminding security agents in Nigeria to respect human rights and to avoid excessive use of force in their operations, and on 17 May 2013 on the possibility that Boko Haram members may face war crimes charges,

–   having regard to the statement by the UN Security Council of 27 December 2011 on attacks by the Boko Haram terrorist sect in Nigeria,

–   having regard to the UN Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination based on Religion and Belief of 1981,

–   having regard to the statement of 12 April 2012 by the G8 Foreign Ministers on the continuing violence in Nigeria,

–   having regard to the African Union Convention on the Prevention and Combating of Terrorism, ratified by Nigeria on 16 May 2003, and to the additional Protocol thereto, ratified by Nigeria on 22 December 2008,

–   having regard to the statement made by the African Union’s Commissioner for Peace and Security, Lamamra Ramtane, on 14 July 2012, condemning the activities and human rights violations of Boko Haram, urging the international community to assist Nigeria in resisting the terrorist sect, and emphasising the threat it poses to regional and international security,

–   having regard to the summit of the Gulf of Guinea heads of state and government on maritime security and safety, held in Yaoundé (Cameroon) on 24 June 2013,

–   having regard to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria adopted on 29 May 1999, and in particular the provisions of Chapter IV on the protection of fundamental rights, including the right to life, the right to a fair hearing, the right to the dignity of human persons, and the protection of freedom of expression, freedom of the press, freedom of thought, freedom of conscience and freedom of religion,

–   having regard to Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions, ratified by Nigeria on 20 June 1961, and to Protocol II thereto, ratified by Nigeria on 10 October 1988, both of which establish international law in respect of non-international armed conflicts,

–   having regard to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights of 1981, ratified by Nigeria on 22 June 1983,

–   having regard to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of 1966, ratified by Nigeria on 29 October 1993,

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

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

A.   whereas the Nigerian President, Goodluck Jonathan, declared a state of emergency in the states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa on 14 and 15 May 2013 in response to Boko Haram’s activities, mobilising additional military forces;

B.   whereas in April 2013 the town of Baga was destroyed by fighting between Nigerian military forces and Boko Haram militants, resulting in the destruction of thousands of homes and the deaths of hundreds of civilians, according to community leaders; whereas an independent investigation by Nigeria’s Human Rights Commission will conclude on the Baga killings by the end of July;

C.   whereas the federal government has categorised Boko Haram under the Terrorism Prevention Act of 2011, in order to permit the prosecution of any individual associated with or supporting the group;

D.   whereas Boko Haram has been responsible for 4 000 deaths since 2009; whereas more than 700 Nigerians have been killed so far this year in more than 80 attacks associated with Boko Haram, which a recent United States report ranked as the second most deadly terrorist group in the world; whereas the connection between Boko Haram and AQIM (Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb) poses a serious threat to peace and security in the greater Sahel region and West Africa in general; whereas Boko Haram continues to target state and security officials, as in its raid of 7 May 2013 on a prison compound in Bama, in which some 55 people were killed and some 105 inmates released;

E.   whereas Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Freedom House and other human rights organisations have documented the involvement of Boko Haram in attacks on police stations, military facilities, churches, schools, farms and banks; whereas Boko Haram has expanded its targeting of civilians, including attacks on two secondary schools in Borno and Yobe states on 16 and 17 June 2013, in which 16 pupils and 2 teachers were killed; whereas these attacks have forced several thousand schoolchildren out of formal education; whereas threats to civilians have prompted 19 000 farmers to flee their farms and abandon their crops, leading to loss of agricultural productivity and contributing to food shortages;

F.   stressing its increasing concern over Boko Haram’s decision to kidnap women and children as part of its violent guerrilla campaign; whereas foreign workers in Nigeria have also been kidnapped, attacked and killed by insurgents;

G.   whereas the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees has warned of a refugee crisis; whereas in the past weeks some 6 000 Nigerians arrived in Niger and between 11 and 13 June 2013 some 3 000 Nigerians crossed into Cameroon; whereas refugees are also crossing the border with Chad; whereas such displacements have put strain on the meagre local food and water resources, especially in Niger, which is itself struggling with food insecurity due to years of drought; whereas none of Nigeria’s neighbours have the capacity to absorb the numbers of people who could be displaced in the event of a full-scale humanitarian disaster following mass violence;

H.   whereas Boko Haram continues to target Christians, moderate Muslims and other religious groups, whom it is driving out of the country’s majority-Muslim north;

I.   whereas in response to Boko Haram’s violence the Nigerian police and military have seized and carried out extrajudicial executions of numerous suspected members of the group, in particular by seizing young men from northern villages; whereas many of those detained have been held incommunicado without charge or trial, in some cases in inhuman conditions, and whereas some have been physically abused, while others have disappeared or died in detention; whereas the Nigerian Government and army officers have provided unreliable estimates of civilian casualties and damage to homes; whereas Human Rights Watch, Freedom House and other human rights organisations have described the response of the Nigerian forces in recent months as increasingly brutal and indiscriminate, leaving civilians to bear the brunt of the violence between the two groups in disproportionate fashion;

J.   whereas freedom of expression and freedom of the press are being jeopardised by threats of arrest, intimidation, violence and even death against those reporting on issues in such a way as to criticise the Nigerian authorities; whereas Boko Haram has repeatedly threatened to attack media outlets that have reported negatively on it;

K.   whereas owing to the declaration of the state of emergency, large parts of the north-eastern states have become inaccessible to aid agencies, journalists and reporters; whereas the government has shut down mobile phone services in several areas to stop militants communicating;

L.   whereas the Nigerian Government has recently broken its seven-year moratorium on the death penalty by executing four prisoners in Edo state who were sentenced when Nigeria was still ruled by a military dictatorship; whereas on 26 June 2013 the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Christof Heyns, called on the Nigerian authorities to put on hold the imminent execution of a fifth prisoner; whereas according to reports by human rights organisations, in 2012 Nigeria sentenced 56 people to death, and whereas approximately 1 000 people are reportedly on death row in the country;

M.   whereas the Nigerian House of Representatives adopted the Same-Gender Marriage (Prohibition) Bill on 30 May 2013, introducing a 14-year prison sentence for anyone who marries, or is married to, a person of the same sex, applying not only to Nigerians but also to tourists, foreign workers and diplomats, as well as a 10-year sentence for the registration or operation of social outlets or NGOs that support the human rights of LGBTI people;

N.   whereas the problems in Nigeria stem from a lack of economic development and the tensions are rooted in decades of resentment between indigenous groups, mostly Christians or animist, vying for control of fertile farmlands with migrants and settlers from the Hausa-speaking Muslim north; whereas the conflicts are being exacerbated by climate change and desert encroachment; whereas escalating armed conflict and persisting social and economic challenges are likely to fuel radicalisation, including manipulation and recruitment by fundamentalist Islamic groups such as Boko Haram;

O.   whereas the EU is Nigeria’s largest financial donor; whereas on 12 November 2009 the Commission and the Federal Government of Nigeria signed the European Community-Nigeria Country Strategy Paper and National Indicative Programme for 2008-2013, under which the EU funds projects whose aims include peace, security and human rights; whereas EU assistance to Nigeria over this period totals EUR 700 million, some of which has been diverted to dealing with the increasingly problematic security situation in northern Nigeria;

P.   whereas, under Articles 8 and 9 of the revised Cotonou Agreement, the EU engages in regular political dialogue with Nigeria on human rights and democratic principles, including ethnic, religious and racial discrimination;

Q.   whereas the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, has warned that Boko Haram’s attacks may constitute crimes against humanity; whereas the International Criminal Court prosecutor Fatou Bensouda visited Abuja in July 2012 and whereas her office published a report in November 2012 stating that reasonable grounds exist for believing that Boko Haram has committed acts constituting crimes against humanity;

R.   whereas although Nigeria is one of the world’s largest oil producers, nearly 60 % of the population live on less than a dollar a day; whereas the peaceful resolution of conflicts also implies fair access to resources and fair redistribution of revenues through the state budget;

1.   Strongly condemns the escalation of violence on the part of Boko Haram and the tragic loss of innocent lives in the stricken regions of Nigeria, and extends its sympathies to the bereaved and the injured; expresses its concern at the ongoing tensions in which communities have been actors and victims;

2.   Urges the Government of Nigeria to guarantee the security and protection of its population against the violence of Boko Haram and to abstain from further attacks or reprisal killings, while upholding its obligations under internationally recognised human rights standards and acting in line with the rule of law;

3.   Condemns the Nigerian military for using disproportionate force in its clashes with Boko Haram, particularly in its raids on Baga on 16 and 17 April 2013,

4.   Urges both government and sub-state actors to exercise restraint and seek peaceful means to resolve differences between religious and ethnic groups in Nigeria; emphasises, in this regard, the importance of a functioning, independent, impartial and accessible judicial system, especially during armed conflicts, in order to end impunity, enhance respect for the rule of law and protect the fundamental rights of the population;

5.   Calls on the Nigerian Government to prevent further escalation of the conflict, with special consideration for the safety and wellbeing of civilians, recalling that the destruction and damage caused during the conflict to housing, public infrastructure and farmland are having a detrimental impact on the population;

6.   Urges both the Nigerian Government and Boko Haram to recognise and respect freedom of the press and media and to allow journalists and reporters access to the front lines, as the press and media can play an important role in strengthening accountability and documenting human rights abuses;

7.   Condemns the execution of Daniel Nsofor by the Nigerian authorities for crimes committed when he was under 18 years of age; recommends that the authorities take the necessary steps to implement the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the 2010 concluding observations on Nigeria, in particular by ensuring that the definition of the child in domestic legislation and at state level is in full compliance with that set out in the Convention on the Rights of the Child, to review the files of all prisoners on death row for crimes committed before the age of 18, and to outlaw the death penalty for all persons under the age of 18 in domestic legislation;

8.   Strongly condemns the execution of four prisoners in Nigeria in June 2013; calls on the Nigerian authorities to uphold their recent commitments, as expressed in the framework of the EU-Nigeria human rights dialogue, to maintain the de facto moratorium on executions, and urges the country to abolish the death penalty by amending its legislation;

9.   Invites the Nigerian authorities, with the support of the European Commission and Unicef, to accelerate their reform efforts in line with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, in particular as regards justice for children and birth registration systems; recommends that Nigeria continue and strengthen its efforts to ensure free and compulsory birth registration for all children and raise public awareness of the importance of birth registration and of the existing legislation;

10.   Recognises that mobile phones represent an important form of communication for militants, but urges the Nigerian Government not to resort to blocking the entire network, as this also makes it impossible for citizens to communicate;

11.   Underlines the importance of regional cooperation in addressing the threat posed by the connection between Boko Haram and AQIM; encourages the countries of the region to deepen their cooperation, including with the Sahel countries, in order to prevent further synergies between Boko Haram, AQIM and the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MOJWA); calls on the EU institutions and Member States, as well as the UN, the African Union and the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas), to lend their support to such regional efforts and to address the threats posed by terrorism, the proliferation of light weapons and transborder crime;

12.   Notes with concern the growing threat of piracy off the Gulf of Guinea and the need for more coordinated action; welcomes, in this regard, the regional efforts agreed on to tackle the challenges of piracy at the summit of the Gulf of Guinea heads of state and government on maritime security and safety held in Yaoundé (Cameroon) on 24 June 2013,

13.   Calls for a fuller examination of the root causes of the conflict, including social, economic and ethnic tensions, avoiding over-general and simplistic explanations based on religion alone, which cannot provide the basis for a long-term, lasting solution to the problems of the region; urges the Nigerian Government to work for a peaceful solution by addressing the root causes of the conflict and to ensure fair access to resources, sustainable development at regional level and redistribution of revenues through the state budget;

14.   Calls for an independent investigation into the human rights violations, and for those responsible to be brought to justice in accordance with international standards of fair trial;

15.   Expresses its concern that an escalation of conflict in Nigeria will further intensify the refugee crisis in neighbouring Niger and Cameroon; encourages Nigerian Government officials to engage with leaders of neighbouring countries in order to coordinate responses to the influx of refugees;

16.   Calls upon the Vice-President / High Representative, Catherine Ashton, to urge the Nigerian Government to exercise respect for human rights in its counterterrorism operations; expresses its readiness to follow closely the evolution of the situation in Nigeria, and proposes restrictive measures in the event of non-compliance with the Cotonou Agreement, in particular Articles 8 and 9 thereof; asks the Commission also to monitor the situation;

17.   Considers deeply regrettable the adoption of the Same-Gender Marriage (Prohibition) Bill, which makes it a crime to be in a same-sex relationship, support the rights of LGBT people, operate a gay-friendly venue or display affection between two people of the same sex; calls on the President of Nigeria, therefore, not to sign the law passed by the House of Representatives, which would put LGBT people – both Nigerian nationals and foreigners – at serious risk of violence and arrest;

18.   Encourages the Nigerian authorities to decriminalise homosexuality and to protect LGBTI people and the defenders of their human rights;

19.   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 governments and parliaments of the Member States, the Federal Government of Nigeria, the institutions of the African Union and ECOWAS, the UN Secretary-General, the UN General Assembly, the Co-Presidents of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly, and the PAN-African Parliament (PAP).

(1) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0274 .
(2) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2012)0470 .
(3) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2012)0299 .
(4) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2012)0090 .

Last updated: 4 January 2016Legal notice