Index 
Texts adopted
Thursday, 15 June 2017 - StrasbourgProvisional edition
Request for waiver of the immunity of Marine Le Pen
 The case of Afgan Mukhtarli and situation of media in Azerbaijan
 Pakistan, notably the situation of human rights defenders and the death penalty
 Human rights situation in Indonesia
 Implementation of the European Fund for Strategic Investments
 European Agenda for the collaborative economy
 Online platforms and the Digital Single Market
 Humanitarian situation in Yemen
 Statute and funding of European political parties and foundations

Request for waiver of the immunity of Marine Le Pen
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European Parliament decision of 15 June 2017 on the request for waiver of the immunity of Marine Le Pen (2017/2021(IMM) )
P8_TA-PROV(2017)0266 A8-0223/2017

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to the request for waiver of the immunity of Marine Le Pen, forwarded on 9 December 2016 by Pascal Guinot, the Prosecutor-General at the Court of Appeal of Aix-en-Provence, and announced in plenary on 19 January 2017,

–   having invited Ms Le Pen to be heard on 29 May and 12 June 2017, in accordance with Rule 9(6) of its Rules of Procedure,

–   having regard to Articles 8 and 9 of Protocol No 7 on the Privileges and Immunities of the European Union, and Article 6(2) of the Act of 20 September 1976 concerning the election of the Members of the European Parliament by direct universal suffrage,

–   having regard to the judgments of the Court of Justice of the European Union of 12 May 1964, 10 July 1986, 15 and 21 October 2008, 19 March 2010, 6 September 2011 and 17 January 2013(1) ,

–   having regard to the first paragraph of Article 23, the first paragraph of Article 29, Article 30 and the first paragraph of Article 31 of the Act of 29 July 1881 and Articles 93-2 and 93-3 of the Act of 29 July 1982,

–   having regard to Rule 5(2), Rule 6(1) and Rule 9 of its Rules of Procedure,

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on Legal Affairs (A8-0223/2017 ),

A.   whereas the Prosecutor-General at the Court of Appeal of Aix-en-Provence has requested the waiver of immunity of a Member of the European Parliament, Marine Le Pen, in connection with a legal action concerning an alleged offence;

B.   whereas, pursuant to Article 8 of Protocol No 7 on the Privileges and Immunities of the European Union, Members of the European Parliament shall not be subject to any form of inquiry, detention or legal proceedings in respect of opinions expressed or votes cast by them in the performance of their duties;

C.   whereas, pursuant to Article 9 of Protocol No 7, during the sessions of the European Parliament, its Members shall enjoy, in the territory of their own state, the immunities accorded to members of their parliament;

D.   whereas the second paragraph of Article 26 of the French Constitution provides that no Member of Parliament shall be arrested for a serious crime or other major offence, nor shall he be subjected to any other custodial or semi-custodial measure, without the authorisation of the Bureau of the House of which he is a member, and that such authorisation shall not be required in the case of a serious crime or other major offence committed flagrante delicto or when a conviction has become final;

E.   whereas Marine Le Pen is accused of public defamation of a publicly elected official, an offence provided for in French law, namely in the first paragraph of Article 23, the first paragraph of Article 29, Article 30 and the first paragraph of Article 31 of the Act of 29 July 1881 and Articles 93-2 and 93-3 of the Act of 29 July 1982;

F.   whereas on 28 July 2015 Christian Estrosi filed with the senior examining magistrate in Nice an application to join a civil action to legal proceedings against Marine Le Pen on the grounds of public defamation of a publicly elected official with a temporary mandate; whereas he asserts that on 3 May 2015, during the programme Le Grand Rendez-vous , which was broadcast simultaneously on iTÉLÉ and Europe 1, Marine Le Pen made the following remarks constituting allegations or imputations against him which were a slur on his honour or slight to his reputation:

‘Listen, what I know is this: Mr Estrosi has financed the UOIF (Union of Islamic Organisations in France); he has been found guilty by the administrative justice system of having accorded such a low rent for a UOIF mosque that even the administrative court rapped him over the knuckles, which is a reflection, in fact, of the way in which these mayors are illegally funding mosques, in violation of the 1905 law; when you are caught with your fingers in the clientelist, religious‑community honeypot, of course you have to give out and say shocking things, but I attach little importance to words and more to actions...’; in response to a question from the interviewer, ‘So, Estrosi – an accomplice of jihadis?’, Ms Le Pen allegedly stated: ‘Help, providing resources, assistance; when you help Islamic fundamentalism to establish itself, to spread, to recruit, well, somewhere in all that, morally, yes, you are a little bit complicit’;

G.   whereas Marine Le Pen has been invited twice for a hearing, in accordance with Rule 9(6) of the Rules of Procedure; whereas, however, she has not taken the opportunity to submit her observations to the committee responsible;

H.   whereas the alleged action does not have a direct or obvious connection with Marine Le Pen’s performance of her duties as a Member of the European Parliament, nor do the words uttered by her constitute opinions expressed or votes cast in the performance of her duties as a Member of the European Parliament for the purposes of Article 8 of Protocol No 7 on the Privileges and Immunities of the European Union;

I.   whereas, having regard to Article 8 of Protocol No 7 on the Privileges and Immunities of the European Union, the accusations are manifestly unrelated to the position of Marine Le Pen as a Member of the European Parliament and relate instead to activities of a solely national or regional nature, and whereas Article 8 is therefore not applicable;

J.   whereas only the immunity covered by Article 9 of Protocol No 7 on the Privileges and Immunities of the European Union is capable of being waived;

K.   whereas, having regard to Article 9 of Protocol No 7 on the Privileges and Immunities of the European Union, there is no reason to suspect that the request for waiver was made in order to attempt to obstruct the parliamentary work of Marine Le Pen or with the intention of causing her political damage (fumus persecutionis) ;

1.   Decides to waive the immunity of Marine Le Pen;

2.   Instructs its President to forward this decision and the report of its committee responsible immediately to the competent authority of the French Republic and to Marine Le Pen.

(1) Judgment of the Court of Justice of 12 May 1964, Wagner v Fohrmann and Krier , 101/63, ECLI:EU:C:1964:28; judgment of the Court of Justice of 10 July 1986, Wybot v Faure and others , 149/85, ECLI:EU:C:1986:310; judgment of the General Court of 15 October 2008, Mote v Parliament , T-345/05, ECLI:EU:T:2008:440; judgment of the Court of Justice of 21 October 2008, Marra v De Gregorio and Clemente , C‑200/07 and C-201/07, ECLI:EU:C:2008:579; judgment of the General Court of 19 March 2010, Gollnisch v Parliament , T-42/06, ECLI:EU:T:2010:102; judgment of the Court of Justice of 6 September 2011, Patriciello , C‑163/10, ECLI:EU:C:2011:543; judgment of the General Court of 17 January 2013, Gollnisch v Parliament , T-346/11 and T-347/11, ECLI:EU:T:2013:23.


The case of Afgan Mukhtarli and situation of media in Azerbaijan
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European Parliament resolution of 15 June 2017 on the case of Azerbaijani journalist Afgan Mukhtarli (2017/2722(RSP) )
P8_TA-PROV(2017)0267 B8-0414 , 0415 , 0416 , 0417 , 0418 and 0420/2017

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to its previous resolutions on Azerbaijan, in particular those concerning the human rights situation and the rule of law,

–   having regard to the established relationship between the EU and Azerbaijan, which took effect in 1999 in the form of a Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA), the creation of the Eastern Partnership (EaP) and Azerbaijan’s participation in the Euronest Parliamentary Assembly (PA),

–   having regard to the decision adopted by the Milli Majlis of the Republic of Azerbaijan on 30 September 2016 repealing their previous decision of 14 September 2015 to terminate their membership and participation in the Euronest PA, and therefore electing to remain and participate,

–   having regard to the mandate adopted on 14 November 2016 for the European Commission and the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (VP/HR) to negotiate, on behalf of the EU and its Member States, a comprehensive agreement with the Republic of Azerbaijan and to the launch of the negotiations on the abovementioned agreement on 7 February 2017,

–   having regard to the visit of the President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, to Brussels on 6 February 2017,

–   having regard to the recent visit of the delegation of the Committee on Foreign Affairs to Azerbaijan on 22 May 2017,

–   having regard to the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance,

–   having regard to the Freedom House report entitled ‘Freedom in the World 2017’, which considers the press in Azerbaijan ‘not free’ and its internet ‘partially free’,

–   having regard to the statement of the VP/HR on the sentencing of Mehman Huseynov in Azerbaijan of 7 March 2017,

–   having regard to the EU-Georgia Association Agreement / Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (AA/DCFTA) which entered into force on 1 July 2016,

–   having regard to past statements by the Human Rights Commissioner of the Council of Europe, Nils Muiznieks, on the persecution of journalists, civil society / human rights activists and members of the opposition in Azerbaijan,

–   having regard to the statement of the Director of the OSCE ODIHR, Michael Georg Link, on the alleged abduction and ill-treatment in custody of Azerbaijani journalist and human rights defender Afgan Mukhtarli of 8 June 2017,

–   having regard to the statement by the Spokesperson of the VP/HR on ‘illegal detention of Azerbaijani nationals residing in Georgia’,

–   having regard to Rules 135(5) and 123(4) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.   whereas Afgan Mukhtarli, an exiled Azerbaijani investigative journalist who moved to Tbilisi in 2015, disappeared from Tbilisi on 29 May 2017 and resurfaced a few hours later in Baku;

B.   whereas according to his lawyer, Afgan Mukhtarli was apprehended by unidentified men who were reportedly wearing Georgian criminal police uniforms, pushed into a car, beaten and driven to the Azerbaijani border, where the sum of EUR 10 000 was allegedly planted on his person;

C.   whereas Afgan Mukhtarli is now facing prosecution for illegally crossing the border, smuggling and violence against police authority; whereas the abovementioned charges could amount to a prison sentence of several years and whereas on 31 May 2017 he was sentenced by a court to three months of pre-trial detention;

D.   whereas Afgan Mukhtarli has worked for several independent media outlets, including Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty, and is known for his critical journalistic coverage of the Azerbaijani authorities; whereas he went into exile in Georgia to escape reprisals for his work by the Azerbaijani authorities;

E.   whereas Georgia is a state party to the European Convention on Human Rights and it is therefore Georgia’s responsibility to guarantee the safety of Azerbaijanis living on its territory and to prevent any forced return to their home country; whereas Azerbaijani citizens have, however, increasingly encountered refusals to prolong their residence permits in Georgia;

F.   whereas the President of Georgia, Giorgi Margvelashvili, has stated that the abduction of Afgan Mukhtarli constituted ‘a serious challenge for [Georgian] statehood and sovereignty’;

G.   whereas the Georgian Ministry of the Interior has launched an investigation under Article 143 of the Criminal Code – unlawful imprisonment – into the case of Afgan Mukhtarli and started communication with its Azerbaijani counterparts on this matter;

H.   whereas the overall human rights situation in Azerbaijan over the last few years remains a matter of serious concern, with continued intimidation and repression, the practice of persecution, reported torture, travel bans and restrictions on freedom of movement of NGO leaders, human rights defenders, members of the opposition, journalists and other civil society representatives;

I.   whereas on 17 May 2017 the Baku Court of Appeals ordered that Leyla and Arif Yunus, who have been granted political asylum in the Netherlands, be returned to Azerbaijan for renewed court hearings;

J.   whereas on 12 May 2017, following a request from the Ministry of Transport, Communications and High Technologies, the Sabail district court upheld the decision to block five online media outlets, including the Azerbaijani Service of Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), Azadliq.info, Meydan TV and the satellite TV channels Turan TV and Azerbaijani Saadi;

K.   whereas the re-launch of relations between the Milli Majlis of the Republic of Azerbaijan and the European Parliament and Azerbaijan’s renewed membership of and participation in the Euronest PA and its activities have proven to be valuable;

L.   whereas on 7 February 2017 the EU and Azerbaijan launched the negotiations of a new agreement that will follow the principles endorsed in the 2015 review of the European Neighbourhood Policy and offer a renewed basis for political dialogue and cooperation between the EU and Azerbaijan;

1.   Strongly condemns the abduction of Afgan Mukhtarli in Tbilisi and his subsequent arbitrary detention in Baku; considers this a serious violation of human rights and condemns this grave act of breach of law;

2.   Urges the Georgian authorities to ensure a prompt, thorough, transparent and effective investigation into Afgan Mukhtarli’s forced disappearance in Georgia and illegal transfer to Azerbaijan and to bring the perpetrators to justice;

3.   Considers it of utmost importance that the Georgian authorities make every effort possible to clarify beyond any doubt all suspicion regarding the involvement of Georgian state agents in the forced disappearance;

4.   Recalls that it is the responsibility of the Georgian authorities to provide protection to all those third-country nationals living in Georgia or requesting political asylum, who face possible severe judicial consequences in their country of origin for human rights or political activities; in this regard, recalls Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights, to which Georgia is a party;

5.   Strongly condemns the prosecution of Afgan Mukhtarli following bogus charges and reiterates that he is trailed for his work as an independent journalist;

6.   Calls on the Azerbaijani authorities to immediately and unconditionally drop all charges against and release Afgan Mukhtarli, as well as all those incarcerated as a result of the exercise of their fundamental rights, including freedom of expression; calls, in the case of Afgan Mukhtarli, on the Georgian authorities to take all the necessary steps vis-à-vis the Azerbaijani authorities in order for him to be able to be reunited with his family;

7.   Expresses strong concern that the case of Afgan Mukhtarli is another example of the Azerbaijani authorities targeting and persecuting critics living in exile and their relatives at home; recalls the previous cases of international arrest warrants requested for Azerbaijani citizens living in exile who are critical of the authorities;

8.   Calls for an immediate, full, transparent, credible and impartial investigation into the death of Azerbaijani blogger and activist Mehman Galandarov on 28 April 2017 while in the custody of the Azerbaijani authorities;

9.   Calls for the immediate and unconditional release from jail of all political prisoners, including journalists, human rights defenders and other civil society activists, namely Afgan Mukhtarli, Ilkin Rustamzadeh, Rashad Ramazanov, Seymur Hazi, Giyas Ibrahimov, Mehman Huseynov, Bayram Mammadov, Ilgar Mammadov, Araz Guliyev, Tofig Hasanli, Ilgiz Qahramanov, Afgan Sadygov and others, including, but not limited to, those covered by the relevant judgments of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), and calls for all charges against them to be dropped, and for the full restoration of their political and civil rights, also extended to previously imprisoned and since released political prisoners such as Intigam Aliyev, Khadija Ismayilova and others;

10.   Calls on the Azerbaijani authorities to discontinue the ongoing persecution of Leyla and Arif Yunus and draws the attention of Interpol to this case as being motivated on political grounds;

11.   Reiterates its urgent call on the Azerbaijani authorities to end the practices of selective criminal prosecution and imprisonment of journalists, human rights defenders and others who criticise the government, and to ensure that all persons detained, including journalists and political and civil society activists, enjoy full due process rights and are covered by fair trial norms;

12.   Urges the Azerbaijani authorities to ensure that independent civil society groups and activists can operate without undue hindrance or fear of persecution, including by repealing the laws severely restricting civil society, unfreezing the bank accounts of non-governmental groups and their leaders, and allowing access to foreign funding;

13.   Urges the Government of Azerbaijan to fully comply with all rulings of the ECHR, and to cooperate with and implement the recommendations of the Council of Europe’s Venice Commission and Commissioner for Human Rights and the UN special procedures in regard to human rights defenders, the rights of freedom of association and peaceful assembly, freedom of expression and arbitrary detention, with the aim of amending its legislation and adapting its practices in full conformity with the conclusions of the experts;

14.   Welcomes the release in Azerbaijan of several high-profile human rights defenders, journalists and activists in 2015 and 2016;

15.   Underlines the importance of a good political climate between the government, opposition forces and civil society at large;

16.   Underlines the importance of the new partnership agreement between the European Union and Azerbaijan; stresses that democratic reforms, the rule of law, good governance, and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms must be at the core of the new agreement; recalls that it will be monitoring the situation closely throughout the negotiations on a new agreement prior to deciding on whether to give its consent;

17.   Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the European External Action Service, the European Council, the Commission, the Presidents, Governments and Parliaments of Azerbaijan and Georgia, the Council of Europe, the OSCE and the UN Human Rights Council.


Pakistan, notably the situation of human rights defenders and the death penalty
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European Parliament resolution of 15 June 2017 on Pakistan, notably the situation of human rights defenders and the death penalty (2017/2723(RSP) )
P8_TA-PROV(2017)0268 B8-0419 , 0421 , 0422 , 0423 and 0429/2017

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to its previous resolutions on Pakistan,

–   having regard to the Council conclusions of 18 July 2016 on Pakistan,

–   having regard to the EU-Pakistan Five-Year Engagement Plan,

–   having regard to the Human Rights Action Plan of Pakistan,

–   having regard to the EU-Pakistan Multiannual Indicative Programme (MIP) 2014-2020,

–   having regard to the recommendations of the reports of the EU Election Observation Mission to Pakistan,

–   having regard to the statements by the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and her spokesperson on Pakistan,

–   having regard to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948, in particular Article 18 thereof,

–   having regard to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Pakistan is a signatory,

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

–   having regard to the Constitution of Pakistan,

–   having regard to the EU Guidelines on the promotion and protection of freedom of religion or belief, on Human Rights Defenders and on the Death Penalty, and the 2012 Strategic Framework on Human Rights and Democracy,

–   having regard to Rules 135(5) and 123(4) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.   whereas Pakistan had a moratorium on the death penalty in place until 2015, but reinstated it in the wake of the massacre at the Army Public School in Peshawar in December 2014; whereas the moratorium was lifted initially only for terrorist activities, but was subsequently extended to all capital offences;

B.   whereas Pakistan now has one of the largest death row populations in the world; whereas cases have been reported of executions carried out while appeal mechanisms were still under way;

C.   whereas Pakistan’s ‘blasphemy law’ (Section 295-C of the Penal Code) carries a mandatory death sentence; whereas currently hundreds of people are awaiting trial and a number of individuals are on death row on charges of ‘blasphemy’; whereas the law is considered to contain vague definitions which are open to abuse to target political dissidents or silence legitimate criticism of state institutions and other bodies;

D.   whereas in March 2017 the Prime Minister ordered a ban on all ‘blasphemous’ material online, and Pakistani authorities have asked social media companies to help identify Pakistanis suspected of ‘blasphemy’; whereas on 14 April 2017 Mashal Khan, a student at Abdul Wali Khan University, was lynched by a mob of fellow students after having been accused of publishing ‘blasphemous’ material online; whereas on 10 June 2017 a Pakistani counter-terrorism court sentenced Taimoor Raza to death for allegedly committing ‘blasphemy’ on Facebook; whereas the activist Baba Jan and 12 other demonstrators have been sentenced to life imprisonment, the most severe sentence ever to have been handed down for demonstrating;

E.   whereas Pakistan’s National Assembly passed a resolution on 18 April 2017 condemning the lynching of Mashal Khan by a violent mob over alleged ‘blasphemy’; whereas the Senate has debated reforms in order to rein in abuse;

F.   whereas military courts were authorised for two years while the civilian judiciary was supposed to be strengthened; whereas there has been little progress in developing the judiciary, and on 22 March 2017 the military courts were controversially reinstated for a further two-year period;

G.   whereas multiple instances have been noted in Pakistan of human rights defenders, political dissidents and members of religious minorities or groups such as the Ahmadiyya experiencing intimidation, assault, imprisonment, torture and harassment and being killed; whereas information collected by the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances and by NGOs reveals that enforced disappearances are being perpetrated by security and law enforcement authorities including the police and intelligence agencies; whereas not a single perpetrator has been successfully brought to justice;

H.   whereas Indian national Kulbhushan Jadhav was convicted by a military court in April 2017 and sentenced to death; whereas the case is currently before the International Court of Justice on the grounds that he was denied consular access rights; whereas on 4 May 2017 a 10-year-old boy was murdered and five other people wounded in a mob attack on a police station in Balochistan, believed to have been motivated by ‘blasphemy’ allegations; whereas on 30 May 2017 the alleged rape of a teenager (only named ‘Shumaila’ in local media) by a family member in Rajanpur led to the victim being sentenced to death by a tribal court; whereas these cases are not isolated events;

I.   whereas the case of Aasiya Noreen, better known as Asia Bibi, continues to be a matter of grave importance for human rights concerns in Pakistan; whereas Asia Bibi, a Pakistani Christian woman, was convicted of blasphemy by a Pakistani court and sentenced to death by hanging in 2010; whereas should the sentence be carried out Asia Bibi would be the first woman to be lawfully executed in Pakistan for blasphemy; whereas various international petitions have called for her release on the grounds that she was being persecuted for her religion; whereas Christian minority minister Shahbaz Bhatti and Muslim politician Salmaan Taseer were murdered by vigilantes for advocating on her behalf and speaking out against the ‘blasphemy laws’; whereas, despite the temporary suspension of Asia Bibi’s death sentence, she remains incarcerated to the present day and her family remains in hiding;

J.   whereas the crackdown on NGOs is continuing unabated; whereas, on the pretext of implementation of the national plan against terrorism, numerous NGOs have been intimidated and harassed and some have had their offices sealed;

K.   whereas 12 million women do not have national identity cards and are therefore denied the right to register to vote in elections; whereas several EU election observation missions have made recommendations for improving the electoral process for the next elections, which are scheduled for 2018;

L.   whereas Pakistan entered the GSP+ scheme on 1 January 2014; whereas this scheme should provide a strong incentive to respect core human and labour rights, the environment and good governance principles;

M.   whereas the EU remains fully committed to continuing its dialogue and engagement with Pakistan under the Five-Year Engagement Plan and its replacement;

1.   Reiterates the EU’s strong opposition to the death penalty, in all cases and without exception; calls for the universal abolition of capital punishment; expresses deep concern at the decision by Pakistan to lift the moratorium, with executions now continuing at an alarming rate; calls on Pakistan to reinstate the moratorium, with the longer-term objective of full abolition of the death penalty;

2.   Is deeply concerned at the reports of the use of the death penalty in Pakistan following flawed trials, the execution of minors and persons with mental disorders, and allegations of torture; calls on the government to bring the provisions on the death penalty in national legislation into line with international law and standards, including a halt on executions for any offence other than intentional killing, a ban on the execution of juvenile offenders and persons with mental disorders, and a moratorium on carrying out executions while appeals are pending;

3.   Deplores the roll-back in Pakistan over respect for human rights and the rule of law, and in particular the increase in extrajudicial killings and the intimidation of and use of force against journalists, human rights defenders, NGOs and critics of the government; recalls the obligations of the Pakistani government to ensure respect for fundamental rights; welcomes Pakistan’s adoption of a Human Rights Action Plan, and calls for it to be translated into tangible progress; warns in this regard that the EU will be extremely concerned if activists continue to fall victim to such practices and progress is not observed;

4.   Expresses its concern over the broad freedom of operation granted to the security forces, and calls on the Pakistani Government to ensure better oversight of their actions; urges the competent authorities to undertake a prompt and impartial investigation into deaths in custody and killings by the security forces, as well as allegations of torture, and to prosecute the perpetrators of extrajudicial killings and torture;

5.   Deplores the use in Pakistan of military courts that hold hearings in secret and have civilian jurisdiction; insists that the Pakistani authorities grant access to international observers and human rights organisations for purposes of monitoring the use of military courts; calls also for an immediate and transparent transition to independent civilian courts, in line with international standards on judicial proceedings; underscores that third-country nationals brought to trial must be allowed access to consular services and protection;

6.   Is deeply concerned at the continued use of the ‘blasphemy law’, and believes this is heightening the climate of religious intolerance; notes the findings of the Supreme Court of Pakistan that individuals accused of ‘blasphemy’ ‘suffer beyond proportion or repair’ in the absence of adequate safeguards against misapplication or misuse of such laws; calls, therefore, on the Pakistani Government to repeal Sections 295-A, 295-B and 295-C of the Penal Code, and to put in place effective procedural and institutional safeguards to prevent the misuse of ‘blasphemy’ charges; calls also on the government to take a stronger position in condemning vigilantism towards alleged ‘blasphemers’, and urges it not to use the ‘blasphemy’ rhetoric itself;

7.   Calls on the Pakistani Government to take urgent action to protect the lives and rights of journalists and bloggers; expresses its concern at the request made by the Pakistani authorities to Twitter and Facebook to disclose information about their users in order to identify individuals suspected of ‘blasphemy’; calls on the Government and Parliament of Pakistan to amend the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act 2016 and to remove the overly wide-ranging provisions for monitoring and retaining data and shutting down websites on the basis of vague criteria; calls also for all death sentences handed down on charges of ‘blasphemy’ or political dissent to be commuted, including the sentence against Taimoor Raza; calls in this context on the President of Pakistan to make use of his power of clemency;

8.   Notes the progress made in the implementation of the EU-Pakistan Five-Year Engagement Plan, but expresses the hope that the new Strategic Engagement Plan to be finalised in 2017 will be ambitious and will help strengthen the ties between the EU and Pakistan;

9.   Urges the Government of Pakistan to resolve, in as positive and swift a manner as possible, the ongoing case of Asia Bibi; recommends that steps be taken to ensure the safety of Ms Bibi and her family in the light of the historic treatment of victims of blasphemy allegations by vigilantes and non-judicial actors;

10.   Recalls that the granting of GSP+ status is conditional and that the effective implementation of international conventions is an essential requirement under the scheme; urges the Pakistani Government to make strong efforts to implement the 27 core conventions and demonstrate progress;

11.   Calls on the Commission and the EEAS to raise these issues with the Pakistani authorities during the regular Human Rights Dialogue;

12.   Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Vice-President of the European Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the EU Special Representative for Human Rights, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, and the Government and Parliament of Pakistan.


Human rights situation in Indonesia
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European Parliament resolution of 15 June 2017 on the human rights situation in Indonesia (2017/2724(RSP) )
P8_TA-PROV(2017)0269 B8-0424 , 0425 , 0426 , 0428 , 0430 and 0431/2017

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to its previous resolutions on Indonesia, in particular that of 19 January 2017(1) ,

–   having regard to the EU-Indonesia Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA), which entered into force on 1 May 2014, and to the joint press release of 29 November 2016 following the first EU-Indonesia Joint Committee meeting under the PCA,

–   having regard to the EU local statement of 9 May 2017 on freedom of religion or belief and freedom of expression,

–   having regard to the Report of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights – Compilation on Indonesia, of 17 February 2017, and to the Universal Periodic Review (Third Cycle) and the Summary of stakeholders’ submissions on Indonesia, of 20 February 2017,

–   having regard to the statement of 27 July 2016 by the European External Action Service (EEAS) spokesperson on the planned executions in Indonesia,

–   having regard to the 6th European Union-Indonesia Human Rights Dialogue of 28 June 2016,

–   having regard to the Bangkok Declaration on Promoting an ASEAN-EU Global Partnership for Shared Strategic Goals of 14 October 2016,

–   having regard to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 10 December 1948,

–   having regard to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which Indonesia ratified in 2006,

–   having regard to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment of 1987,

–   having regard to Rules 135(5) and 123(4) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.   whereas Indonesia is the world’s fourth most populous nation, the third largest democracy, the largest Muslim-majority country, and a diverse society comprising 255 million citizens of various ethnicities, languages and cultures;

B.   whereas Indonesia is an important partner of the EU; whereas relations between the EU and Indonesia, a G20 member, are strong; whereas the EU and Indonesia share the same values as regards human rights, governance and democracy;

C.   whereas 2016 saw an unprecedented number of violent, discriminatory, harassing verbal attacks and vitriolic statements against LGBTI people in Indonesia; whereas such attacks have reportedly been stoked, directly or indirectly by government officials, state institutions and extremists; whereas furthermore the nature of such attacks has worsened in 2017;

D.   whereas in the special autonomous province of Aceh, governed by Sharia law, consensual same-sex sexual acts and sexual relations outside of marriage are criminalised and carry a penalty of up to 100 lashes and 100 months in prison; whereas, in May 2017, two young men convicted of same-sex sexual relations were sentenced to 85 lashes with a cane; whereas the right not to be tortured is a fundamental and inalienable right;

E.   whereas in the rest of Indonesia homosexuality is not illegal; whereas the LGBTI community has, nonetheless, been under siege in recent years;

F.   whereas 141 men were arrested for ‘violating pornography laws’ in a police raid on a gay club in Jakarta on 21 May 2017;

G.   whereas, since January 2016, the Constitutional Court in Indonesia has been reviewing a petition aimed at criminalising gay and non-marital sex;

H.   whereas there is a growing intolerance towards religious minorities in Indonesia, made possible by discriminatory laws and regulations, including a blasphemy law that officially recognises only six religions; whereas, as of June 2017, several people have been convicted and imprisoned under the blasphemy laws;

I.   whereas in January 2017 the National Commission on Human Rights (Komisi Nasional Hak Asaki Manusia) found that some provinces, such as West Java, experience far more religious intolerance than others, and that regional government officials are often responsible for either tolerating or directly perpetrating abuses;

J.   whereas there are serious concerns about intimidation and violence against journalists; whereas journalists should have access to the entire country;

K.   whereas, according to Human Rights Watch, between 2010 and 2015, 49 % of girls aged 14 years or below were victims of female genital mutilation;

L.   whereas the authorities executed four convicted drug traffickers in July 2016 and indicated that 10 other death row prisoners will be executed in 2017;

1.   Appreciates the strong relationship between the EU and Indonesia, and reiterates the importance of the strong and long-standing political, economic and cultural ties between the two parties; stresses the importance of the EU-Indonesia Human Rights Dialogue, allowing for an open exchange on human rights and democracy, which are also the basis of the PCA;

2.   Calls for stronger EU-Indonesia parliamentary contacts through which different issues of mutual interest, including human rights, can be constructively discussed; invites the Indonesian parliament to strengthen such inter-parliamentary relations;

3.   Welcomes Indonesia’s active engagement at regional and multilateral levels; stresses that Indonesia was recently examined in the context of a Universal Periodic Review (UPR) during the UN Human Rights Council meeting in May 2017; underlines that, as in previous cycles, Indonesia submitted to this review on a voluntary basis;

4.   Calls on the authorities of the special autonomous province of Aceh to prevent further persecution of homosexuals and to decriminalise homosexuality by amending its Islamic Criminal Code; strongly condemns the caning of two homosexual men of 20 and 23 years of age in Aceh on 22 May 2017, it being the first time authorities in Aceh caned people for homosexual practices; strongly condemns the fact that homosexuality is illegal under Aceh’s Islamic Criminal Code, which is based on Sharia law; stresses that the punishment of the two men is cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment which may amount to torture under international law; calls, furthermore, on the authorities to immediately terminate publicly flogging;

5.   Is also concerned about the growing intolerance towards the Indonesian LGBTI community outside the special autonomous province of Aceh; strongly condemns the fact that, despite homosexuality not being a crime under Indonesia’s Criminal Code, 141 men were arrested in a police raid on a gay club in Jakarta on 21 May 2017; urges the authorities and government officials to refrain from making public statements that are discriminatory towards LGBTI persons or other minorities in the country; stresses that the police have a duty to enforce the law and to protect vulnerable minorities and not to persecute them;

6.   Rejects the assertion of the Indonesian Psychiatric Association that homosexuality and ‘transgenderism’ are mental health conditions; calls on the authorities to end the forcible detention of LGBTI individuals and also to put an end to all forms of ‘treatment’ purporting to ‘cure’ them of homosexuality, bisexuality, or transgender identity, and to rigorously enforce the prohibition;

7.   Welcomes the statement by President Widodo of 19 October 2016 condemning LGBTI discrimination; calls on President Widodo to use his key position to publicly condemn intolerance and crimes against LGBTI persons, minorities, women and organisations or gatherings in the country;

8.   Calls for the revision of the blasphemy law as it puts religious minorities at risk; supports the UN recommendations to repeal Articles 156 and 156(a) of the Criminal Code, the Prevention of Abuse and Defamation of Religion Act, the Electronic Transactions and Data Act and to abandon charges against and the prosecution of those accused of blasphemy;

9.   Is concerned about the growing intolerance towards ethnic, religious and sexual minorities in Indonesia; urges the authorities of Indonesia to continue as well to strengthen their efforts to enhance religious tolerance and social diversity; strongly condemns all acts of violence, harassment and intimidation against minorities; calls for all those committing such violations to be held accountable;

10.   Expresses its concern about serious violations of freedom of the media; urges the Indonesian Government to insist that state agencies adopt a zero-tolerance policy toward physical abuse of journalists and give foreign media open access to the country;

11.   Calls on Indonesia’s authorities to repeal all legal provisions unduly restricting fundamental freedoms and human rights; calls on Indonesia’s authorities to review all its laws and to ensure their conformity with the country’s international obligations, specifically those on freedom of expression, thought, conscience and religion, equality before the law, freedom from discrimination, and the right to expression and public assembly;

12.   Is concerned about reports of persisting violence against women and practices harmful to women, such as female genital mutilation; calls on Indonesia’s authorities to enforce its legislation on violence against women, to penalise all forms of sexual violence, to legislate towards eliminating gender inequality and empowering women;

13.   Welcomes the suspension of executions of people on death row convicted of drug trafficking pending a review of their case; urges the Government of Indonesia to continue to halt all such executions and to retry them in accordance with international standards; calls for an immediate reinstatement of the moratorium on the use of the death penalty with a view to abolishing the death penalty;

14.   Calls on the Indonesian Government to fulfil all its obligations and to respect, protect and uphold the rights and freedoms enshrined in the ICCPR;

15.   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 Government and Parliament of Indonesia, the Secretary-General of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights and the UN Human Rights Council.

(1) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0002 .


Implementation of the European Fund for Strategic Investments
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European Parliament resolution of 15 June 2017 on the implementation of the European Fund for Strategic Investments (2016/2064(INI) )
P8_TA-PROV(2017)0270 A8-0200/2017

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to Articles 165 and 166 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

–   having regard to the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, in particular Article 14 thereof,

–   having regard to Regulation (EU) 2015/1017 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 June 2015 on the European Fund for Strategic Investments, the European Investment Advisory Hub and the European Investment Project Portal and amending Regulations (EU) No 1291/2013 and (EU) No 1316/2013 — the European Fund for Strategic Investments (1) (the EFSI Regulation),

–   having regard to the report from the Commission of 31 May 2016 to the European Parliament, the Council and the European Court of Auditors on the management of the Guarantee Fund of the European Fund for Strategic Investment in 2015 (COM(2016)0353 ),

–   having regard to the Commission communication of 1 June 2016 to the European Parliament, the European Council, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions entitled ‘Europe investing again – Taking stock of the Investment Plan for Europe and next steps’ (COM(2016)0359 ,

–   having regard to the annual report from the European Investment Bank to the European Parliament and the Council on 2015 EIB Group Financing and Investment Operations under EFSI(2) ,

–   having regard to the Commission staff working document ‘Evaluation’ (SWD(2016)0297 ), to the Evaluation of the functioning of the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) by the European Investment Bank(3) , to the Ad-hoc audit of the application of Regulation (EU) 2015/1017 by Ernst and Young(4) and to the opinion of the European Court of Auditors(5) ,

–   having regard to the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Regulations (EU) No 1316/2016 and (EU) 2015/1017 as regards the extension of the duration of the European Fund for Strategic Investments as well as the introduction of technical enhancements for that Fund and the European Investment Advisory Hub (COM(2016)0597 ),

–   having regard to the Paris Agreement adopted at the twenty-first session of the Conference of the Parties (COP21) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), held in Paris, France in December 2015,

–   having regard to the opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee(6) ,

–   having regard to the opinion of the Committee of the Regions(7) ,

–   having regard to the joint deliberations of the Committee on Budgets and the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs under Rule 55 of the Rules of Procedure,

–   having regard to Rule 52 of its Rules of Procedure, as well as Article 1(1)(e) of, and Annex 3 to, the decision of the Conference of Presidents of 12 December 2002 on the procedure for granting authorisation to draw up own-initiative reports,

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgets and the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs and the opinions of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy, the Committee on Transport and Tourism, the Committee on International Trade, the Committee on Budgetary Control, the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs, the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection, the Committee on Regional Development and the Committee on Culture and Education (A8-0200/2017 ),

1.   Takes note of the large investment gap in Europe, which the Commission estimates at a minimum of EUR 200-300 billion a year; highlights in particular, against this backdrop, the needs in Europe for high-risk financing, particularly in the fields of SME financing, R&D, ICT and transport, communications and energy infrastructure, which are necessary to sustain inclusive economic development; is concerned by the fact that the most recent data on national accounts do not indicate any surge in investment since the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) was launched, leading to concerns that, without a change, there will be continued subdued growth and continuing high unemployment rates, particularly among young people and the new generations; stresses that closing this investment gap by creating an environment conducive to investment in certain strategic areas is key to reviving growth, fighting unemployment, promoting the development of a strong, sustainable and competitive industry and attaining long-term EU policy objectives;

2.   Emphasises the role played by EFSI in helping to resolve difficulties and remove obstacles to financing as well as to implement strategic, transformative and productive investments that provide a high level of added value to the economy, the environment and society, to reform and modernise Member States’ economies, to create growth and jobs for which market funding is not obtained despite economic feasibility, and to encourage private investment in all regions of the EU;

3.   Recalls the role of Parliament as provided for in the regulation, in particular in relation to the monitoring of EFSI implementation; acknowledges, however, that it is too early to finalise a comprehensive evidence-based assessment of the functioning of EFSI and its impact on the EU economy, but is of the opinion that a preliminary evaluation based on comprehensive data on the projects selected and rejected and the related decisions is crucial in order to identify possible areas of improvement for EFSI 2.0 and thereafter; calls on the Commission to come forward with a comprehensive assessment as soon as the information becomes available;

Additionality

4.   Recalls that the purpose of EFSI is to ensure additionality by helping to address market failures or suboptimal investment situations, by supporting operations which could not have been carried out, or not to the same extent, under existing Union financial instruments or through private sources without the involvement of EFSI; notes, however, that there is a need for further clarification of the concept of additionality;

5.   Recalls that the projects supported by EFSI, while striving to create employment, sustainable growth, economic, territorial and social cohesion in line with the general objectives laid down in Article 9 of the EFSI Regulation, are considered to provide additionality if they carry a risk corresponding to EIB special activities, as defined in Article 16 of the EIB Statute and by the credit risk policy guidelines of the EIB; recalls that projects supported by EFSI shall typically have a higher risk profile than projects supported by EIB normal operations; underlines that EIB projects carrying a risk lower than the minimum risk under EIB special activities may also be supported by EFSI only if use of the EU guarantee is required to ensure additionality;

6.   Notes that, while all projects approved under EFSI are presented as ‘special activities’, an independent evaluation has found that some projects could have been financed without the use of the EU guarantee;

7.   Calls on the Commission, in cooperation with the EIB and the EFSI governance structures, to draw up an inventory of all EU-backed EIB financing falling under the additionality criteria and to provide clear and comprehensive explanations of the evidence that the projects could not have been realised through other means;

8.   Notes that a contradiction between the qualitative and quantitative goals of EFSI might occur in the sense that, to achieve the target for attracted private investment, the EIB might fund less risky projects where investors’ interest already exists; urges the EIB and the EFSI governance structures to implement real additionality as defined in Article 5 of the EFSI Regulation and to ensure that market failures and sub-optimal situations are fully addressed;

9.   Calls on the EIB to ensure transparency in funds management and in relation to the origin of any public, private and third-party contributions, and to provide concrete data, including on specific projects and on foreign investors, and highlights the reporting requirements to Parliament in the EFSI Regulation; reiterates the fact that all potential future third-country contributors have to comply with all EU rules on public procurement, labour law and environmental regulations, and expects that the social and environmental criteria applicable to EIB projects are fully upheld in EFSI project financing decisions;

Scoreboard and project selection

10.   Notes that, as provided for in the regulation, prior to a project being selected for EFSI support, it has to undergo due-diligence and decision-making processes both in the EIB and the EFSI governance structures; observes that project promoters have expressed a wish for swift feedback and enhanced transparency in relation to both the selection criteria and the amount and type/tranche of possible EFSI support; calls for greater clarity in order to further encourage project promoters to apply for EFSI support, including by making the scoreboard available to applicants for EFSI financing; calls for the decision‑making process to be made more transparent in respect of the selection criteria and financial support and to be speeded up, while continuing to ensure robust due‑diligence in order to protect EU resources; underlines that, in order to simplify the evaluation process, in particular for investment platforms, joint due-diligence on the part of the EIB and National Promotional Banks (NPBs), or a delegation by the EIB to NPBs, should be encouraged;

11.   Considers that the criteria according to which projects and eligible counterparts are assessed should be further clarified; requests further information from the EFSI governing bodies on the evaluations carried out on all projects approved under EFSI accordingly, in particular as regards their additionality, their contribution to sustainable growth and their job creation capacity, as defined in the regulation; calls, in relation to eligible counterparts, for strict rules on corporate governance for these types of entity to become acceptable EFSI partners in respect of EU principles and International Labour Organisation (ILO) standards;

12.   Recalls that the scoreboard is a tool for the Investment Committee (IC) to prioritise the use of the EU guarantee for operations that display higher scores and added value, and that it must be used by the Investment Committee accordingly; intends to assess whether the scoreboard and its indicators are being properly consulted, applied and used; requests that the project selection criteria be properly applied and this process be made more transparent; recalls that, according to the annex to the current regulation, the IC must assign equal importance to each pillar of the scoreboard when prioritising projects, irrespective of whether the individual pillar yields a numerical score, or whether it is composed of unscored qualitative and quantitative indicators; regrets that Pillar 3, relevant to the technical aspects of the projects, is in the current scoreboards given the same importance as Pillars 1 and 2, which relate to the more important desired outcomes; criticises the fact that the EIB itself admits that the IC’s experts only make use of the 4th pillar for information purposes, not for decision-making; requests that scoreboards, with the exclusion of commercially sensitive information, be made public after the final decision on a project has been taken;

13.   Acknowledges that it may take some years to prepare new innovative projects, that the EIB is under pressure to achieve the EUR 315 billion goal and therefore had no option but to launch EFSI activities immediately; is concerned, however, that the EIB, when implementing EFSI, has thus far drawn on its existing project pipeline with lower risk projects to a large extent, thereby reducing its own conventional financing; fears that EFSI does not provide complementary financing for high-risk innovative projects; underlines that even though a project qualifies as a special activity, this does not necessarily imply that it is risky; however, the classification as a special activity might also stem from the fact that its financing has been structured in an artificially risky fashion, implying that very low-risk projects can also easily end up as high-risk projects; stresses that the project criteria should not be watered down for the sake of achieving the political target of EUR 315 billion in mobilised investments;

14.   Requests that the EIB provide an estimate of its potential annual lending capacity in the medium term, taking into account EFSI and possible regulatory developments and to continue its own lending at rates of EUR 70‑75 billion a year, using profits, repayments from the programmes etc., and that it use EFSI as complementary tool; notes that this would mean the business volume of the EIB would reach at least EUR 90 billion, not EUR 75 billion in total;

15.   Considers it important to discuss whether the envisaged leverage of 15 is appropriate to enable EFSI to support high quality projects bearing a higher risk, and calls on the Commission to provide an assessment to that effect; recalls that this leverage of 15 is portfolio-based and reflects the EIB’s financing experience with a view to addressing market failures; calls for weighing up the public goals to be achieved by EFSI as a complement to the volume requirement; suggests that account also be taken of the Union’s targets set at the Paris Climate Conference (COP21); calls on the EIB to disclose the leverage achieved to date, together with the underlying calculation method;

16.   Points out that small-scale projects often encounter difficulties in obtaining the funding they need; notes with concern that small projects are deterred from applying for EFSI financing, or are even declared ineligible for that funding, based on their size; points to the significant impact that a small project might nevertheless have on a national or regional scale; stresses the need to step up the technical assistance available from the European Investment Advisory Hub (EIAH), which is instrumental in advising and accompanying promoters of small-scale projects in the structuring and bundling of projects via investment platforms or framework agreements; calls on the Steering Board to look into this issue and put forward proposals to correct this situation;

Sectorial diversification

17.   Emphasises that EFSI is a demand-driven instrument, which should, however, be guided by the political objectives set out in the regulation and defined by the Steering Board; calls for more outreach and provision of information to sectors which have an unmet demand for investment, but have not been able to make full use of EFSI; notes, in this regard, that, on an EU macro-economic level, more measures should be taken to boost demand for investment;

18.   Welcomes that all sectors defined in the EFSI Regulation have been covered by EFSI financing; points out, however, that certain sectors are under-represented, notably the social infrastructure, health and education sectors, to which only 4 % of EFSI‑approved financing has been dedicated; notes that this might be due to a variety of reasons, for example that some sectors might have suffered from a lack of experience and technical knowledge of how to get access to EFSI, or that they already offered better investment opportunities in terms of shovel-ready, bankable projects when EFSI started up; invites the EIB against this backdrop to discuss how to improve sectoral diversification, linking it to the goals set out in the regulation as well as the issue of whether EFSI support should be extended to other sectors;

19.   Recalls that the COP21 climate agreement endorsed by the EU requires a major shift towards sustainable investment that EFSI should fully support; stresses that EFSI investments should be compatible with this commitment; underlines the need to strengthen reporting on climate change;

20.   Points to the need to increase the percentage of resources allocated to long-term projects such as telecommunications networks, or to projects involving a relatively high degree of risk typically associated with more advanced emerging new technologies; notes that investment in broadband infrastructure and 5G, cybersecurity, the digitalisation of the traditional economy, micro-electronics and high-performance computing (HPC) could further reduce the digital divide;

21.   Regrets the lack of concentration limits in the initial ramp-up phase; recalls that the transport sector has made the largest contribution to the EFSI fund, EUR 2,2 billion out of EUR 8 billion, representing more than 25 % of the total guarantee fund; notes with concern that the transport sector has received only around 13 % of all the investment mobilised and made available to date under the EFSI’s infrastructure and innovation window, which is far from the 30 % limit established for each specific sector; calls on the Investment Committee to pay particular attention to transport sector projects, since these are still very poorly represented in the investment portfolio, and transport plays a significant role in economic growth and consumer safety;

Governance

22.   Observes that the EFSI governance structures have been implemented in full within the EIB; considers that, with a view to improving the efficiency and accountability of EFSI, options for making the EFSI governance structure completely separate from that of the EIB should be discussed;

23.   Recalls that the Managing Director (MD) is responsible for the day-to-day management of EFSI, the preparation and chairing of meetings of the IC and for external representation; recalls that the MD is assisted by the Deputy Managing Director (DMD); regrets that, in practice, the respective roles, especially that of the DMD, have not been clearly identified; invites the EIB to reflect on spelling out the tasks of the MD and the DMD more clearly in order to ensure transparency and accountability; considers it important that the MD, assisted by the DMD, continue to set the agenda of the IC meetings; suggests, furthermore, that the MD should devise procedures for tackling potential conflicts of interest within the IC, report to the Steering Board (SB) and propose sanctions for breaches as well as the means to implement them; believes that the authority of the MD and the DMD in carrying out these tasks would be enhanced by enjoying greater autonomy vis-à-vis the EIB; invites the EIB accordingly to explore options for increasing the independence of the MD and the DMD;

24.   Recalls that the IC experts are responsible for EFSI project selection, granting the EU guarantee and for approving operations with investment platforms and NPBs or institutions; recalls further that they are independent; is concerned, therefore, about documented conflicts of interest on the part of IC members, which must in all circumstances be avoided in the future;

25.   Considers that project selection is not transparent enough; stresses that the EIB should make improvements in relation to the disclosure of information about the projects it approves under EFSI, with a proper justification of additionality and the scoreboard as well as the projects’ contribution in achieving the EFSI objectives, with particular emphasis on the expected impact of EFSI operations on the investment gap in the Union;

26.   Invites the EIB to reflect on the ways in which cooperation between IC, through the MD and the SB, could be enhanced; considers it important that the MD participate in SB meetings which would allow the MD to inform the SB about future activities;

27.   Proposes discussing means of enhancing the transparency of EFSI governance structures for Parliament and the addition of a further full member to the SB appointed by Parliament; urges the EFSI governance bodies to share information with Parliament on a proactive basis;

National Promotional Banks

28.   Recalls that as a result of their know‑how, NPBs are essential for the success of EFSI, as they are close to, and familiar with, the local markets; finds that synergies have so far not been exploited to the requisite extent; observes a risk of local institutions being crowded out by the EIB and invites the EIB to improve its ability to crowd in national and sub-national partners; calls for the EIB to support the enhancement of existing public banking structures, with a view to actively facilitating the exchange of good practices and market knowledge among these institutions; considers, to that end, that NPBs should aim at entering into collaboration agreements with the European Investment Fund (EIF); recognises that EFSI and the EIB are increasingly willing to take more junior/subordinated tranches with the NPBs and urges them to continue to do so; invites the Commission and the EIB to discuss whether it would be useful to incorporate NPB expertise into the SB;

Investment platforms

29.   Recalls that diversified investments with a geographical or thematic focus should be made possible by helping to finance and bundle projects and funds from different sources; notes with concern that the first investment platform was only set up in the third quarter of 2016 and that the delay in doing so is hampering the opportunity for small-scale projects to benefit from EFSI and the development of cross-border projects; highlights the need to simplify the rules for establishing investment platforms; requests that the EIB and the European Investment Advisory Hub (EIAH) promote the use of investment platforms as a way of achieving the geographical and thematic diversification of investments;

30.   Urges the EFSI governing bodies to pay greater attention to investment platforms with a view to maximising the benefits that the latter can bring in overcoming investment barriers, especially in Member States with less developed financial markets; invites the EIB to provide stakeholders, including national, local and regional bodies, with more information on the platforms and the conditions and criteria governing their establishment; recognises the role of local and regional authorities in identifying strategic projects and encouraging participation;

31.   Proposes a discussion of additional means of promoting investment platforms, such as by prioritising the approval of projects presented via a platform, the pooling of smaller projects and group contracts and establishing mechanisms to finance groupings of contracts; believes that transnational platforms should be promoted in particular, as many energy and digital projects have a transnational dimension;

Financial instruments

32.   Recalls that the EIB has developed new financial instruments for the purposes of EFSI in order to provide tailor-made products for high-risk financing; urges the EIB to further increase its added value by focusing on riskier financial products such as subordinated finance and capital market instruments; expresses concerns about project promoters’ criticisms that the financing instruments provided are not compatible with their projects’ needs (high‑risk projects often need money upfront to kick-start investments, and not in smaller amounts on a year‑by‑year basis) and investors stressing that they are currently not in a position to participate in EFSI financing due to a lack of appropriate private equity instruments; invites the EIB to examine this in cooperation with project promoters and investors; invites the EIB, furthermore, to explore how the development of green bonds can maximise the potential of EFSI in the financing of projects which have positive environmental and/or climate benefits;

Geographical diversification

33.   Welcomes that by the end of 2016 all 28 countries had received EFSI funding; notes with concern, however, that as of 30 June 2016, the EU‑15 had received 91 % whereas the EU‑13 had only received 9 % of EFSI support; regrets that EFSI support has mainly benefited a limited number of countries where the investment gaps are already below the EU average; notes that within beneficiary countries, there is often an unequal geographical distribution of EFSI-funded projects; considers there is a risk of territorial concentration and underlines the need for greater attention to be paid to less developed regions across all 28 Member States; calls on the EIB to provide further technical assistance to those countries and regions which have benefited less from EFSI;

34.   Acknowledges that GDP and the number of projects approved are linked; recognises that larger Member States are able to take advantage of more developed capital markets and are therefore more likely to benefit from a market-driven instrument such as EFSI; underlines that lower EFSI support in the EU‑13 may be attributable to other factors, such as the small size of projects, the peripheral geographical position of a given region and competition from the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESI Funds); observes with concern, however, the disproportionate benefit to certain countries and underlines the need to diversify geographical distribution further, especially in crucial sectors such as modernising and improving the productivity and sustainability of economies, with a key focus on technological development; asks the Commission to further investigate and map out the reasons for the current geographical distribution;

European Investment Advisory Hub (EIAH)

35.   Attaches the utmost importance to the operation of the EIAH; considers that its mission to act as a single point of entry to comprehensive advisory and technical assistance throughout all stages of the project cycle largely responds to the growing need for technical assistance support among authorities and project promoters;

36.   Is pleased that the EIAH has been up and running since September 2015, moving through a quick implementation phase; acknowledges that, due to the limited period of its existence and a shortage of staff at the initial stage, not all EIAH services have been fully developed and that activity has predominantly focused on providing support for project development and structuring, policy advice, and project screening; underlines the need for the EIAH to recruit experts from various areas in an effort to better target its advice, communication and support towards the sectors which do not use EFSI to the fullest extent;

37.   Is convinced that the EIAH has the potential to play an instrumental role in addressing many of the shortcomings of EFSI implementation; believes strongly that, in order to do so, it needs to adopt a more proactive stance in providing assistance in fields such as setting up investment platforms, also in view of the latter’s importance in the financing of smaller projects; stresses also the role of the EIAH in providing advice combining other sources of Union funding with EFSI;

38.   Considers, similarly, that the EIAH can actively contribute towards geographical and sectoral diversification, not only by covering all regions and more sectors in the provision of its services, but also by assisting the EIB in launching operations; believes that the EIAH can play an important role in contributing to the objective of economic, social and territorial cohesion;

39.   Recalls that the EFSI Regulation confers a mandate on the EIAH to leverage local knowledge with a view to facilitating EFSI support across the Union; believes that significant improvements are needed in this area, notably more cooperation with the appropriate national institutions; attaches great importance to the provision of services at local level, also in order to take account of specific situations and local needs, especially in countries that do not have experienced National Promotional Institutions (NPIs) or NPBs; considers that links with other local providers should be enhanced to take this into account;

40.   Expects the EIAH to conclude its recruitment processes and reach its full staffing levels without further delay; expresses doubts, however, that the staff capacity provided for will be sufficient for the EIAH to provide the required advisory services and to cope with an increased workload, as well as a broader mandate;

41.   Stresses that the EIAH needs to enhance the profile of its services, improve communication and raise awareness and understanding of its activities amongst EIAH stakeholders; considers that all relevant communication channels should be deployed to achieve this purpose, including at national and local level;

European Investment Project Portal (EIPP)

42.   Regrets that the European Investment Project Portal (EIPP) was only launched by the Commission on 1 June 2016, almost a year after the adoption of the EFSI Regulation; notes that the portal is now operational, with 139 projects currently displayed, but considers that this is still very far from the potential expected when the EFSI Regulation was adopted;

43.   Considers that the EIPP provides a user-friendly platform for project promoters to boost the visibility of their investment projects in a transparent manner; believes, however, that the key to the success of the portal is to increase its own visibility significantly, in order to achieve common acknowledgement as a useful, reliable and efficient tool both among investors and project promoters; urges the Commission to work actively in this direction through solid communication activities;

44.   Notes that the costs related to the set-up and development, management, support and maintenance, and hosting of the EIPP are currently covered by the EU budget, within the annual allocation of EUR 20 million provided for for the EIAH; recalls, however, that the fees charged to private project promoters registering their project on the portal shall constitute external assigned revenue for the EIPP and in the future will be its main source of financing;

Guarantee

45.   Recalls that the Union provides an irrevocable and unconditional guarantee to the EIB for financing and investment operations under EFSI; is convinced that the EU Guarantee has enabled the EIB to take on higher risk for the Infrastructure and Investment Window (IIW) and has permitted the financing of SMEs, mid-caps under COSME and InnovFin supported by the SME Window (SMEW) to be enhanced and frontloaded; believes that the threshold of EUR 25 million, that seems to be used by the EIB for its normal lending operations, should not be applicable to EFSI, in order to increase the financing of smaller projects and facilitate access for SMEs and other potential beneficiaries;

46.   Stresses that, due to a very strong uptake reflecting the high market demand, the SME Window was further reinforced by EUR 500 million from the IIW Debt Portfolio under the existing legislative framework; welcomes that, due to the flexibility of the EFSI Regulation, the additional financing was granted to benefit SMEs and small mid-caps; intends to monitor closely the allocation of the guarantee under the two windows; notes further that, as of 30 June 2016, signed operations under the IIW reached only 9 % of the total targeted volume;

47.   Recalls that the EU Guarantee Fund is predominantly funded from the EU budget; takes account of all relevant evaluations suggesting that the current provisioning rate of the Guarantee Fund of 50 % appears to be cautious and prudent in terms of covering potential losses and that the Union budget would already be shielded by an adjusted target rate of 35 %; intends to examine whether proposals for a lower target rate would have repercussions on the quality and nature of the projects selected; stresses that, so far, there have been no calls as a result of defaults of EIB or EIF operations;

Future financing, fund capacity

48.   Notes that the Commission has proposed an extension of EFSI, both in terms of duration and financial capacity, and that this would have an impact on the EU budget; expresses its intention to put forward alternative financing proposals;

49.   Recalls that Member States were invited to contribute to EFSI in order to broaden its capacity, thereby enabling it to support more higher-risk investments; regrets that despite such investment being considered as a one-off measure within the meaning of Article 5 of Council Regulation (EC) No 1466/97 of 7 July 1997 on the strengthening of the surveillance of budgetary provisions and the surveillance and coordination of economic policies(8) and Article 3 of Council Regulation (EC) No 1467/97 of 7 July 1997 on speeding up and clarifying the implementation of the excessive deficit procedure(9) , Member States did not take this initiative; requests information from the EIB and the Commission as to whether they have undertaken efforts in the meantime to convince Member States to contribute to EFSI, and whether they might be able to attract other investors; invites the Commission and the EIB to step up their efforts in this direction;

Complementarities with other EU financing sources

50.   Notes that awareness of overlaps and competition between EFSI and financial instruments of the EU budget on the part of the Commission and the EIB has led to the adoption of guidelines recommending the combination of EFSI and ESI Fund financing; underlines that any combination of EFSI and ESI Fund financing should in no way prove detrimental to the level and orientation of ESI Fund grant financing; points, however, to persistent differences in the eligibility criteria, regulations, timeframe for reporting and the application of state aid rules, which hinder combined usage; welcomes the fact that the Commission has begun to address these in its proposal for a revision of the Financial Regulation and hopes this revision will be performed in a timely manner so as to simplify the combination of financing and avoid competition and overlaps; believes that further efforts are required and that the second and third pillars of the investment plan are key to this end;

51.   Suggests that the Commission should, in its regular reports, list the projects that benefit from blending Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) grants with EFSI;

52.   Notes that public-private partnership (PPP) transport infrastructure projects should normally be based on the user-pays principle in order to reduce the burden imposed on public budgets and taxpayers for the construction and maintenance of infrastructure; notes that it is important to coordinate various types of EU funding in order to ensure that EU transport policy objectives are met across the entire EU, and not to promote PPP-type funds at the expense of Structural Funds;

Taxation

53.   Is deeply concerned that, in some cases, the EIB has been pushing via EFSI to support projects that have been structured using firms in tax havens; urges the EIB and the EIF to refrain from making use of or engaging in tax avoidance structures, in particular aggressive tax planning schemes, or practices which do not comply with EU good governance principles on taxation, as set out in the relevant Union legislation, including Commission recommendations and communications; insists that no project or promoter can be dependent on a person or company operating in a country included on the prospective common EU list of non-cooperative tax jurisdictions;

Communication and visibility

54.   Observes that many project promoters are not aware of the existence of EFSI, or have an insufficiently clear picture of what EFSI can offer them, the specific eligibility criteria and the concrete steps to take when applying for financing; underlines that further efforts, including targeted technical support, in their respective EU language, in Member States that have benefited less from EFSI, , have to be made to raise awareness of what EFSI is, which specific products and services it has to offer and of the roles of investment platforms and NPBs;

55.   Calls for all information material and all material pertaining to the financing procedure to be translated into all the languages of the Member States, in order to facilitate information and access at local level;

56.   Expresses concern that the direct support given to financial intermediaries, which are then responsible for the allocation of EU financing, might lead to situations in which the end beneficiary is not aware of benefiting from EFSI financing and calls for solutions to be found to improve EFSI’s visibility; calls, therefore, on the EIB to include in EFSI contracts a specific clause making it clear to the project promoter that the financing received has been made possible by the EFSI/EU budget;

Extension

57.   Acknowledges that EFSI alone – and on a limited scale – will probably not be able to close the investment gap in Europe, but that it nevertheless constitutes a central pillar of the EU’s investment plan and signals the EU’s determination to tackle this issue; calls for further proposals to be made on how to permanently boost investment in Europe;

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58.   Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the European Investment Bank and the parliaments and governments of the Member States.

(1) OJ L 169, 1.7.2015, p. 1.
(2) http://www.eib.org/attachments/strategies/efsi_2015_report_ep_council_en.pdf
(3) http://www.eib.org/attachments/ev/ev_evaluation_efsi_en.pdf , September 2016
(4) Report of 14 November 2016, https://ec.europa.eu/commission/sites/beta-political/files/ey-report-on-efsi_en.pdf
(5) OJ C 465, 13.12.2016, p. 1.
(6) OJ C 268, 14.8.2015, p. 27.
(7) OJ C 195, 12.6.2015, p. 41.
(8) OJ L 209, 2.8.1997, p. 1.
(9) OJ L 209, 2.8.1997, p. 6.


European Agenda for the collaborative economy
PDF 374k
European Parliament resolution of 15 June 2017 on a European Agenda for the collaborative economy (2017/2003(INI) )
P8_TA-PROV(2017)0271 A8-0195/2017

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to its resolution of 19 January 2016 on Towards a Digital Single Market Act(1) ,

–   having regard to its resolution of 26 May 2016 on the Single Market Strategy(2) ,

–   having regard to its resolution of 24 November 2016 on new opportunities for small transport businesses, including collaborative business models(3) ,

–   having regard to the meeting of the Council High Level Working Group on Competitiveness and Growth of 12 September 2016 and the Presidency's discussion paper on the subject(4) ,

–   having regard to the Commission communication of 2 June 2016 on a European agenda for the collaborative economy (COM(2016)0356 ),

–   having regard to the Commission communication of 25 May 2016 on online platforms and the Digital Single Market opportunities and challenges for Europe (COM(2016)0288 ),

–   having regard to the Commission communication of 28 October 2015 entitled ‘Upgrading the Single Market: more opportunities for people and business’ (COM(2015)0550 ),

–   having regard to the Commission communication of 6 May 2015 on a Digital Single Market Strategy for Europe 2015 (COM(2015)0192 ),

–   having regard to the Competitiveness Council of 29 September 2016 and its outcome,

–   having regard to Directive 2006/123/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 December 2006 on services in the internal market(5) (‘Services Directive’),

–   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)(6) ,

–   having regard to Directive 2005/29/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 May 2005 concerning unfair business-to-consumer commercial practices in the internal market and amending Council Directive 84/450/EEC, Directives 97/7/EC, 98/27/EC and 2002/65/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council, and Regulation (EC) No 2006/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council (Unfair Commercial Practices Directive)(7) ,

–   having regard to Directive 2009/136/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 November 2009 amending Directive 2002/22/EC on universal service and users’ rights relating to electronic communications networks and services, Directive 2002/58/EC concerning the processing of personal data and the protection of privacy in the electronic communications sector and Regulation (EC) No 2006/2004 on cooperation between national authorities responsible for the enforcement of consumer protection laws(8) ,

–   having regard to the Commission staff working document of 25 May 2016 on guidance on the implementation of the of Directive 2005/29/EC on Unfair Commercial Practices (SWD(2016)0163 ),

–   having regard to Regulation (EU) 2016/679 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 27 April 2016 on the protection of natural persons with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data, and repealing Directive 95/46/EC (General Data Protection Regulation)(9) ,

–   having regard to the opinion of the Committee of the Regions of 7 December 2016 entitled ‘The collaborative economy and online platforms: a shared view of cities and regions’(10) ,

–   having regard to the opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee of 15 December 2016 on the collaborative economy(11) ,

–   having regard to Rule 52 of its Rules of Procedure,

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection and the opinions of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs, the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy and the Committee on Transport and Tourism (A8-0195/2017 ),

A.   whereas the collaborative economy has experienced rapid growth in recent years, in terms of users, transactions and revenues, reshaping how products and services are provided and challenging well-established business models in many areas;

B.   whereas the collaborative economy has social benefits for EU citizens,

C.   whereas small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are the main engine of the European economy, representing, according to 2014 figures, 99,8 % of all undertakings outside the financial sector and accounting for two out of three of all jobs;

D.   whereas only 1,7 % of enterprises in the EU make full use of advanced digital technologies, while 41 % do not use them at all; whereas the digitalisation of all sectors is crucial if the EU’s competitiveness is to be maintained and improved;

E.   whereas a recent study by the Commission shows that 17 % of European consumers have used services provided by the collaborative economy, and 52 % are aware of the services offered(12) ;

F.   whereas there are no official statistics on the volume of employment in the collaborative economy;

G.   whereas the collaborative economy offers possibilities for young people, migrants, part-time workers and senior citizens to access the labour market;

H.   whereas collaborative economy models can help to boost the participation of women in the labour market and the economy, by providing opportunities for flexible forms of entrepreneurship and employment;

I.   whereas, while the recent Commission communication on a European agenda for the collaborative economy presents a good starting point for promoting and regulating this sector effectively, there is a need to incorporate the gender equality perspective and to reflect the provisions of the relevant anti-discrimination legislation in the context of further analysis and recommendations in this field;

J.   whereas promoting social justice and protection, as defined in Article 3 of the Treaty on European Union and Article 9 on the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, is also an objective of the EU’s internal market;

General considerations

1.   Welcomes the communication on a European agenda for the collaborative economy, and underlines that it should represent a first step towards a well-balanced, more comprehensive and ambitious EU strategy on the collaborative economy;

2.   Believes that, if developed in a responsible manner, the collaborative economy creates significant opportunities for citizens and consumers, who benefit from enhanced competition, tailored services, increased choice and lower prices; underlines that the growth in this sector is consumer driven and allows consumers to take a more active role;

3.   Stresses the need to enable businesses to grow by removing hurdles, duplication and fragmentation that hinders cross-border development;

4.   Encourages Member States to provide legal clarity and not to view the collaborative economy as a threat to the traditional economy; stresses the importance of regulating the collaborative economy in a way that is facilitating and enabling rather than restrictive;

5.   Agrees that the collaborative economy generates new and interesting entrepreneurial opportunities, jobs and growth, and frequently plays an important role in making the economic system not only more efficient, but also socially and environmentally sustainable, allowing for a better allocation of resources and assets that are otherwise under-used, and thus contributing to the transition towards a circular economy;

6.   Acknowledges, at the same time, that the collaborative economy can have a significant impact on long-established regulated business models in many strategic sectors such as transportation, accommodation, the restaurant industry, services, retail and finance; understands the challenges linked to having different legal standards for similar economic actors; believes that the collaborative economy empowers consumers, offers new job opportunities and has the potential to facilitate tax compliance, but stresses nevertheless the importance of ensuring a high level of consumer protection, of fully upholding workers’ rights and of ensuring tax compliance; recognises that the collaborative economy affects both urban and rural environments;

7.   Points to the lack of clarity among entrepreneurs, consumers and authorities as to how to apply current regulations in some areas and thus the need to address regulatory grey areas, and is concerned about the risk of fragmentation of the single market; is aware that, if not properly governed, these changes could result in legal uncertainty about applicable rules and constraints in exercising individual rights and protecting consumers; believes that regulation needs to be fit for purpose for the digital age and is deeply concerned about the negative impact of legal uncertainty and the complexity of rules on European start-ups and non-profit organisations involved in the collaborative economy;

8.   Considers that the development of a dynamic, clear and, where appropriate, harmonised legal environment and the establishment of a level playing field is an essential precondition for a flourishing collaborative economy in the EU;

Collaborative economy in the EU

9.   Emphasises the need to consider the collaborative economy not only as a collection of new business models offering goods and services but also as a new form of integration between the economy and society where the services offered are based on a wide variety of relations embedding economic relations within social ones and creating new forms of community and new business models;

10.   Notes the fact that the collaborative economy in Europe has some specific traits, also reflecting the European business structure, which consists mainly of SMEs and micro-enterprises; stresses the need to ensure a business environment where collaborative platforms are able to scale-up and be highly competitive on the global market;

11.   Notes that European entrepreneurs show a strong propensity for creating collaborative platforms for social purposes, and acknowledges a growing interest in the collaborative economy based on cooperative business models;

12.   Underlines the importance of preventing any form of discrimination, so as to grant effective and equal access to collaborative services;

13.   Considers that those services offered within the collaborative economy which are publicly advertised and offered for profit fall within the remit of Council Directive 2004/113/EC of 13 December 2004 implementing the principle of equal treatment between men and women in the access to and supply of goods and services(13) and should, therefore, be consistent with the principle of equal treatment of women and men;

EU regulatory framework: peers, consumers, collaborative platforms

14.   Recognises that while certain parts of the collaborative economy are covered by regulation, including at local and national level, other parts may fall into regulatory grey areas as it is not always clear which EU regulations apply, thus causing significant differences among the Member States due to national, regional and local regulations as well as case-law, thereby fragmenting the Single Market;

15.   Welcomes the Commission's intention to tackle the current fragmentation, but regrets that its communication did not bring sufficient clarity about the applicability of existing EU legislation to different collaborative economy models; emphasises the need for the Member States to step up enforcement of existing legislation, and calls on the Commission to aim for an enforcement framework supporting the Member States in their efforts, most importantly regarding the Services Directive and the consumer acquis; calls on the Commission to make full use of all tools available in this context, including infringement procedures, whenever incorrect or insufficient implementation of the legislation is identified;

16.   Stresses that market access requirements for collaborative platforms and service providers must be necessary, justified and proportionate as provided for in the Treaties and secondary legislation, as well as simple and clear; underlines that this assessment should take into consideration whether services are provided by professionals or private individuals, making peer providers subject to lighter legal requirements, while ensuring quality standards and a high level of consumer protection as well as taking into account sectoral differences;

17.   Recognises the need for incumbents, new operators and services linked to digital platforms and the collaborative economy to develop in a business friendly environment, with healthy competition and transparency with regard to legislative changes; agrees that when assessing market access requirements in the context of the Services Directive, Member States should take into account the specific features of collaborative economy businesses;

18.   Urges the Commission to work together with Member States to provide further guidelines on laying down effective criteria for distinguishing between peers and professionals, which is crucial for the fair development of the collaborative economy; points out that these guidelines should provide clarity and legal certainty and take into account, inter alia, the differing legislation in Member States and their economic realities, such as income level, the characteristics of the sectors, the situation of micro and small businesses and the profit making purpose of the activity; is of the opinion that a set of general principles and criteria at EU level and a set of thresholds at national level could be a way forward, and calls on the Commission to conduct a study in this respect;

19.   Draws attention to the fact that while establishing thresholds can provide appropriate dividing lines between peers and businesses, it may, at the same time, create a disparity between micro and small businesses on the one side, and peers on the other; believes that a level playing field among comparable categories of service providers is highly recommended; calls for the removal of unnecessary regulatory burdens and unjustified market access requirements for all business operators, in particular for micro and small businesses, as this also stifles innovation;

20.   Welcomes the Commission's initiative to ensure the adequacy of consumer law and preventing abuse of the collaborative economy to circumvent legislation; believes that consumers should enjoy a high and effective level of protection, regardless of whether services are provided by professionals or peers and highlights, in particular, the importance of protecting consumers in peer-to-peer transactions, while recognising that some form of protection can be delivered by self-regulation;

21.   Calls for action to be taken to guarantee full use of, and constant compliance with, consumer protection rules by occasional service providers, on the same or on a comparable basis as professional service providers;

22.   Notes that consumers should have access to information on whether reviews by other users of a service might not be subject to influence from the provider, for example in the form of paid advertising;

23.   Points to the need for greater clarity regarding safeguards for consumers in the event of disputes, and calls on the collaborative platforms to ensure that effective systems are in place for complaint procedures and settling disputes, thus facilitating the way consumers can exercise their rights;

24.   Stresses that collaborative economy business models are largely based on reputation, and highlights that transparency is essential in this respect; believes that in many cases collaborative economy business models empower consumers and allow them to take an active role, supported by technology; emphasises that, rules for protecting consumers are still needed in the collaborative economy, especially where there are market dominated players, asymmetric information, a lack of choice or competition; underlines the importance of guaranteeing adequate information for consumers about the applicable legal regime of each transaction and consequent rights and legal obligations;

25.   Calls on the Commission to further clarify the liability regimes of collaborative platforms as quickly as possible, in order to promote responsible behaviour, transparency, legal certainty and thereby increase user confidence; acknowledges, in particular, the lack of certainty especially on whether a platform provides an underlying service or is merely offering an information society service, according to the e-Commerce Directive; calls, therefore, on the Commission to provide further guidance on these aspects and to consider whether further actions are needed to make the regulatory framework more effective; encourages collaborative platforms, at the same time, to take voluntary measures in this respect;

26.   Calls on the Commission to further scrutinise EU legislation in order to reduce uncertainties and guarantee greater legal certainty concerning the rules applicable to collaborative business models and to assess whether new or amended rules are appropriate, in particular concerning active intermediaries and their information and transparency requirements, non-performance and liability;

27.   Believes that any new regulatory framework should leverage platforms’ self-governing capacities and peer-review mechanisms, since both have proved to work effectively and take into account consumer satisfaction with collaborative services; is convinced that collaborative platforms themselves can take an active role in creating such a new regulatory environment by correcting asymmetric information, especially by means of digital reputation mechanisms to increase user trust; notes, at the same time, that the collaborative platform’s self-regulating capacity does not replace the need for the existing rules such as the Service and e-Commerce Directives, EU consumer law and other possible rules;

28.   Believes, therefore, that digital trust building mechanisms are an essential part of the collaborative economy; welcomes all efforts and initiatives put in place by collaborative platforms to avert distortions as well as those aimed at enhancing trust and transparency in rating and reviews mechanisms, establishing reliable reputation criteria, introducing guarantees or insurance, the identity verification of peers and prosumers, and developing secure and transparent payment systems; considers these new technological developments, such as two-way rating mechanisms, independent checks of reviews and voluntary adoption of certification schemes as good examples of how to prevent abuses, manipulations, fraud and fake feedback; encourages collaborative platforms to learn from best practices and raise awareness about their users’ legal obligations;

29.   Points out the crucial importance of clarifying methods by which automated decision-making systems based on algorithms operate, in order to guarantee algorithm fairness and transparency; asks the Commission to also examine this issue from the EU competition law perspective; calls on the Commission to engage with Member States, the private sector and the relevant regulators with a view to laying down effective criteria for developing algorithm accountability principles for information-based collaborative platforms;

30.   Emphasises the need to assess the use of data where it may have different impacts on different segments of society, to prevent discrimination and to verify the potential harm to privacy caused by big data; recalls that the EU has already developed a comprehensive framework for data protection in the General Data Protection Regulation, and therefore calls on collaborative economy platforms not to neglect the issue of data protection, by supplying transparent information to service providers and users about the personal data collected and the way in which those data are processed;

31.   Recognises that many rules from EU acquis are already applicable to the collaborative economy; calls on the Commission to assess the need to further develop an EU legal framework in order to prevent further fragmentation of the Single Market in line with better regulation principles and Member States’ experiences; believes that this framework should be harmonised, where appropriate, as well as flexible, technologically neutral and future proof and should consist of a combination of general principles and specific rules, in addition to any sector-specific regulation that might be needed;

32.   Emphasises the importance of coherent legislation in order to guarantee the proper functioning of the internal market for all, and calls on the Commission to safeguard current rules and legislation on workers’ and consumer rights before introducing new legislation which could fragmentise the internal market;

Competition and tax compliance

33.   Welcomes the fact that the rise of the collaborative economy has brought greater competition and has challenged existing operators to focus on consumers’ real demands; encourages the Commission to foster a level playing field for competition in comparable services among collaborative platforms and between them and traditional enterprises; stresses the importance of identifying and addressing barriers to the emergence and scaling-up of collaborative businesses, especially start-ups; underlines in this context the need for the free flow of data, data portability and interoperability, which facilitate switching between platforms and prevent lock-in, which are all key factors for open and fair competition and for empowering users of collaborative platforms while taking into account legitimate interests of all market players and protecting user information and personal data;

34.   Welcomes the increased traceability of economic transactions enabled by online platforms in order to ensure tax compliance and enforcement, but is concerned about the difficulties that have emerged so far in some sectors; stresses that the collaborative economy should never be used as a way of avoiding tax obligations; stresses, further, the urgent need for collaboration between the competent authorities and collaborative platforms on tax compliance and collection; recognises that these issues have been addressed in certain Member States and takes note of successful public-private cooperation in this field; calls on the Commission to facilitate exchange of best practices among Member States, involving competent authorities and stakeholders, to develop effective and innovative solutions enhancing tax compliance and enforcement, in order to also eliminate the risk of cross-border tax fraud; invites the collaborative platforms to play an active role in this regard; encourages the Member States to clarify and to cooperate on the information that different economic actors involved in the collaborative economy must disclose to tax authorities in the framework of their tax information duties, as provided for by national legislation;

35.   Agrees that functionally similar tax obligations should be applied to businesses providing comparable services, whether in the traditional economy or in the collaborative economy, and believes that taxes should be paid where profits are generated and where more is involved than simply contributions to costs, while respecting the principle of subsidiarity, and also in accordance with national and local tax laws;

Impact on labour market and workers’ rights

36.   Emphasises that the digital revolution is having a significant impact on the labour market and that emerging trends in the collaborative economy are part of a current trend within the digitalisation of society;

37.   Notes, at the same time, that the collaborative economy is opening new opportunities and new, flexible routes into work for all users, especially for the self-employed, for those who are unemployed, currently far from the labour market or would otherwise be unable to participate in it and could thus serve as a point of entry to the labour market, especially for young people and marginalised groups; points out, however, that, in some circumstances, this development can also lead to precarious situations; stresses the need for labour market flexibility, on the one hand, and for economic and social security for workers on the other, in line with customs and traditions in Member States;

38.   Calls on the Commission to examine how far existing Union rules are applicable to the digital labour market and ensure adequate implementation and enforcement; calls on the Member States, in collaboration with social partners and other relevant stakeholders, to assess, in a proactive way and based on the logic of anticipation, the need to modernise existing legislation, including social security systems, so as to stay abreast of technological developments while ensuring workers’ protection; calls on the Commission and the Member States to coordinate social security systems with a view to ensuring the exportability of benefits and aggregation of periods in accordance with Union and national legislation; encourages social partners to update collective agreements where necessary so that existing protection standards can also be maintained in the digital work world;

39.   Underlines the paramount importance of safeguarding workers' rights in the collaborative services – first and foremost the right of workers to organise, the right of collective bargaining and action, in line with national law and practice; recalls that all workers in the collaborative economy are either employed or self-employed based on the primacy of facts and must be classified accordingly; calls on the Member States and the Commission, in their respective areas of competence, to ensure fair working conditions and adequate legal and social protection for all workers in the collaborative economy, regardless of their status;

40.   Calls on the Commission to publish guidelines on how Union law applies to the various types of platform business models in order, where necessary, to fill regulatory gaps in the area of employment and social security; believes that the high transparency potential of the platform economy permits good traceability, in line with the aim of enforcing existing legislation; calls on the Member States to carry out sufficient labour inspections with regard to online platforms and to impose sanctions where rules have been breached, especially in terms of working and employment conditions and specific requirements regarding qualifications; calls on the Commission and the Member States to pay special attention to undeclared work and bogus self-employment in this sector, and to put the platform economy on the agenda of the European Platform Tackling Undeclared Work; calls on the Member States to provide sufficient resources for inspections;

41.   Underlines the importance of ensuring the fundamental rights and adequate social security protection of the rising number of self-employed workers, who are key players in the collaborative economy, including the right of collective bargaining and action, also with regard to their compensation;

42.   Encourages the Member States to recognise that the collaborative economy will also bring disruption, and therefore to prepare absorption measures for certain sectors and to support training and outplacement;

43.   Underlines the importance of collaborative platform workers being able to benefit from the portability of ratings and reviews, which constitute their digital market value, and the importance of facilitating the transferability and accumulation of ratings and reviews across different platforms while respecting rules on data protection and the privacy of all parties involved; notes the possibility for unfair and arbitrary practices regarding online ratings, which may affect the working conditions and entitlements of collaborative platform workers and their ability to obtain jobs; believes that rating and review mechanisms should be developed in a transparent way and that workers should be informed and consulted at the appropriate levels, and in accordance with Member State law and practices, on the general criteria used to develop such mechanisms;

44.   Stresses the importance of up-to-date skills in the changing employment world and of ensuring that all workers have adequate skills as required in the digital society and economy; encourages the Commission, the Member States and collaborative economy businesses to make lifelong training and digital skills development accessible; believes that public and private investments and funding opportunities for lifelong learning and training are needed, especially for micro and small enterprises;

45.   Stresses the importance of teleworking and smartworking in connection with the collaborative economy, and advocates, in this regard, the need to place these ways of working on an equal footing with traditional ones;

46.   Calls on the Commission to examine how far the Directive on Temporary Agency Work (2008/104/EC(14) ) is applicable to specific online platforms; considers that many intermediating online platforms are structurally similar to temporary work agencies (triangular contractual relationship between: temporary agency worker/platform worker; temporary work agency/online platform; user undertaking/client);

47.   Calls on the national public employment services and the EURES network to communicate better on the opportunities offered by the collaborative economy;

48.   Calls on the Commission, the Member States and social partners to provide adequate information to platform workers on working and employment conditions and workers’ rights, and on their working relationships with both platforms and users; considers that platforms should play a proactive role in providing information to users and workers regarding the applicable regulatory framework with a view to fulfilling legal requirements;

49.   Draws attention to the lack of data relating to changes in the employment world brought about by the collaborative economy; calls on the Member States and the Commission, also in cooperation with social partners, to gather more reliable and comprehensive data in this respect and encourages the Member States to appoint an already existing national competent entity to monitor and evaluate emerging trends in the collaborative labour market; stresses the importance of information and best practice exchanges between Member States in this context; underlines the importance of monitoring the labour market and the working conditions in the collaborative economy in order to combat illegal practices;

Local dimension of the collaborative economy

50.   Observes that an increasing number of local authorities and governments are already active in regulating and developing the collaborative economy, focusing on collaborative practices both as the subject of their policies and as an organising principle of new forms of collaborative governance and participatory democracy;

51.   Notes that there is ample room for manoeuvre for national, regional and local authorities to adopt context-specific measures in order to address clearly identified public interest objectives with proportionate measures fully in line with EU legislation; calls on the Commission therefore to support the Member States in their policy-making and in adopting rules consistent with EU law;

52.   Notes that the first movers have been cities, where urban conditions such as population density and physical proximity favour the adoption of collaborative practices, extending the focus from smart cities to sharing cities and easing the transition to more citizen-friendly infrastructures; is also convinced that the collaborative economy can offer significant opportunities to inner peripheries, rural areas and disadvantaged territories, can bring new and inclusive forms of development, can have a positive socio-economic impact, and help marginalised communities with indirect benefits for the tourism sector;

Promotion of the collaborative economy

53.   Points out the importance of adequate competencies skills and training with a view to enabling as many individuals as possible to play an active role in the collaborative economy and to unleash its potential;

54.   Emphasises that ICTs allow innovative ideas within the collaborative economy to evolve quickly and efficiently, while connecting and empowering participants, whether users or service-providers, facilitating their access to the market and their engagement within it, making remote and rural areas more accessible;

55.   Calls on the Commission to be proactive in encouraging public-private cooperation in particular with regard to the take-up of e-IDs, to increase consumer and service providers’ trust in online transactions, building on the EU framework for mutual recognition of e-IDs, and to address other existing barriers to the growth of the collaborative economy, such as obstacles to providing cross-border insurance schemes;

56.   Points to how the introduction of 5G will fundamentally transform the logic of our economies, making services more diverse and accessible; stresses, in this regard, the importance of creating a competitive market for innovative businesses, the success of which will ultimately define the strength of our economies;

57.   Points out that the collaborative economy is increasingly important in the energy sector, allowing consumers, producers, individuals and communities to engage efficiently in several decentralised phases of the renewable energy cycle, including self-production and self-consumption, storage and distribution, in line with the climate and energy objectives of the Union;

58.   Points out that the collaborative economy thrives, in particular, in those communities, in which knowledge- and education-sharing models are strong, thereby catalysing and consolidating a culture of open innovation; stresses the importance of coherent policies and the deployment of broadband and ultra-broadband as a precondition to develop the full potential of the collaborative economy and to reap the benefits offered by the collaborative model; recalls, therefore, the need to enable an adequate network access for all citizens in the EU, especially in less populated, remote or rural areas, where sufficient connectivity is not yet available;

59.   Underlines that the collaborative economy needs support for its development and scaling-up and needs to remain open to research, innovations and new technologies in order to attract investments; calls on the Commission and Member States to ensure that EU legislation and policies are future proof, with particular regard to opening non- exclusive, experimentation-oriented spaces fostering digital connectivity and literacy, supporting European entrepreneurs and start-ups, incentivising Industry 4.0, innovation hubs, clusters, and incubators while at the same time developing cohabitation synergies with traditional business models;

60.   Stresses the complex nature of the transport sector within and outside the collaborative economy; notes that this sector is subject to heavy regulation; notes the potential of collaborative economy models to significantly improve the efficiency and sustainable development of the transport system (including by means of seamless multimodal ticketing and travel in a single journey for transport users with collaborative economy apps), its safety and security, and make remote areas more accessible and reduce undesired externalities of traffic congestion;

61.   Calls on the relevant authorities to promote the beneficial coexistence of collaborative transport services and conventional transport system; invites the Commission to integrate the collaborative economy into its work on new technologies in transport (connected vehicles, autonomous vehicles, integrated digital ticketing, and intelligent transport systems) because of their strong interactions and natural synergies;

62.   Stresses the need for legal certainty for platforms and their users in order to ensure the development of the collaborative economy in the transport sector in the EU; notes that in the mobility sector, it is important to clearly differentiate between, on the one hand, (i) carpooling and sharing of costs in the context of an existing trip the driver planned for his own purpose, and on the other hand, (ii) regulated passenger transport services;

63.   Recalls that, according to Commission estimates, peer-to-peer accommodation is the largest collaborative economy sector on the basis of generated commerce, while peer-to-peer transportation is the largest measured by platform revenue;

64.   Highlights that in the tourism sector home-sharing represents an excellent use of resources and under-used space, especially in areas that do not traditionally benefit from tourism;

65.   Condemns, in this regard, the regulations being imposed by some public authorities, which seek to restrict the supply of tourist accommodation via the collaborative economy;

66.   Draws attention to the difficulties faced by European collaborative platforms in gaining access to risk capital as well as in their scaling-up strategies, accentuated by the small size and fragmentation of domestic markets and by a critical shortage of cross-border investments; calls on the Commission and the Member States to make full use of existing financing instruments to invest in collaborative businesses and to promote initiatives to ease access to financing, especially for start-ups, small and medium-sized enterprises and businesses;

67.   Emphasises that collaborative financing systems, such as crowd-funding, is an important complement to traditional funding channels as part of an effective financing ecosystem;

68.   Notes that services provided by SMEs in the collaborative economy sector are not always sufficiently tailored to the needs of persons with disabilities and the elderly; calls for tools and programmes aimed at supporting these operators to take into account the needs of persons with disabilities;

69.   Calls on the Commission to facilitate and promote access to appropriate funding lines for European entrepreneurs who operate in the collaborative economy sector, and also in the framework of the EU Research and Innovation Programme –Horizon 2020;

70.   Notes the rapid development and the increasing diffusion of innovative technologies and digital tools, such as the blockchains and distributed ledger technologies, in the financial sector too; underlines that the use of these decentralised technologies might enable effective peer-to-peer transactions and connections in the collaborative economy, leading to the creation of independent markets or networks and replacing, in the future, the role of intermediaries filled today by the collaborative platforms;

o
o   o

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

(1) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0009 .
(2) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0237 .
(3) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0455
(4) http://data.consilium.europa.eu/doc/document/ST-11834-2016-INIT/en/pdf
(5) OJ L 376, 27.12.2006, p. 36.
(6) OJ L 178, 17.7.2000, p. 1.
(7) OJ L 149, 11.6.2005, p. 22.
(8) OJ L 337, 18.12.2009, p. 11.
(9) OJ L 119, 4.5.2016, p. 1.
(10) ECON-VI/016.
(11) OJ C 75, 10.3.2017, p. 33.
(12) Flash Eurobarometer 438 (March 2016) on ‘The use of collaborative platforms’.
(13) OJ L 373, 21.12.2004, p. 37.
(14) OJ L 327, 5.12.2008, p. 9.


Online platforms and the Digital Single Market
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European Parliament resolution of 15 June 2017 on online platforms and the digital single market (2016/2276(INI) )
P8_TA-PROV(2017)0272 A8-0204/2017

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to the Commission communication of 25 May 2016 on ‘Online Platforms and the Digital Single Market – Opportunities and Challenges for Europe’ (COM(2016)0288 ) and the accompanying Commission staff working document (SWD(2016)0172 ),

–   having regard to the Commission communication of 2 June 2016 on ‘A European agenda for the collaborative economy’ (COM(2016)0356 ) and the accompanying Commission staff working document (SWD(2016)0184 ),

–   having regard to the Commission communication of 19 April 2016 on ‘EU eGovernment Action Plan 2016-2020 – Accelerating the digital transformation of government’ (COM(2016)0179 ) and the accompanying Commission staff working documents (SWD(2016)0108 and SWD(2016)0109 ),

–   having regard to the Commission communication of 19 April 2016 on ‘Digitising European Industry – Reaping the full benefits of a Digital Single Market’ (COM(2016)0180 ) and the accompanying Commission staff working document (SWD(2016)0110 ),

–   having regard to the Commission communication of 6 May 2015 on ‘A Digital Single Market Strategy for Europe’ (COM(2015)0192 ) and the accompanying Commission staff working document (SWD(2015)0100 ),

–   having regard to the Commission communication of 19 April 2016 on ‘European Cloud Initiative – Building a competitive data and knowledge economy in Europe’ (COM(2016)0178 ) and the accompanying Commission staff working document (SWD(2016)0106 ),

–   having regard to the Commission communication of 10 January 2017 on ‘Building a European Data Economy’ (COM(2017)0009 ) and the accompanying Commission staff working document (SWD(2017)0002 ),

–   having regard to its resolution of 16 February 2017 on the European Cloud Initiative(1) ,

–   having regard to its resolution of 19 January 2016 on Towards a Digital Single Market Act(2) ,

–   having regard to its resolution of 19 January 2017 on a European Pillar of Social Rights(3) ,

–   having regard to Regulation (EU) 2015/2120 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 November 2015 laying down measures concerning open internet access and amending Directive 2002/22/EC on universal service and users' rights relating to electronic communications networks and services and Regulation (EU) No 531/2012 on roaming on public mobile communications networks within the Union(4) ,

–   having regard to the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Regulation (EU) No 531/2012 as regards rules for wholesale roaming markets (COM(2016)0399 ),

–   having regard to the proposal for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing the European Electronic Communications Code (COM(2016)0590 ),

–   having regard to the proposal for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on copyright in the Digital Single Market (COM(2016)0593 ),

–   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)(5) (‘e-Commerce Directive’),

–   having regard to Regulation (EU) 2016/679 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 27 April 2016 on the protection of natural persons with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data, and repealing Directive 95/46/EC (General Data Protection Regulation)(6) ,

–   having regard to Directive (EU) 2016/1148 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 6 July 2016 concerning measures for a high common level of security of network and information systems across the Union (7) (Network and Information Security Directive),

–   having regard to the proposal for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Directive 2010/13/EU on the coordination of certain provisions laid down by law, regulation or administrative action in Member States concerning the provision of audiovisual media services in view of changing market realities (COM(2016)0287 ) (AVMS Directive),

–   having regard to the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on cooperation between national authorities responsible for the enforcement of consumer protection laws (COM(2016)0283 ),

–   having regard to the proposal for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on certain aspects concerning contracts for the supply of digital content (COM(2015)0634 ),

–   having regard to the Commission staff working document of 25 May 2016 on ‘Guidance on the implementation/application of Directive 2005/29/EC on unfair commercial practices (SWD(2016)0163 ),

–   having regard to the 'ICT Sector Guide on Implementing the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights' published by the Commission in June 2013,

–   having regard to the Commission staff working document of 15 September 2016 entitled ‘Preliminary Report on the E-commerce Sector Inquiry’ (SWD(2016)0312 ),

–   having regard to the opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee on the communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions entitled ‘Online Platforms and the Digital Single Market - Opportunities and Challenges for Europe’(8) ,

–   having regard to Rule 52 of its Rules of Procedure,

–   having regard to the joint deliberations of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy and the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection under Rule 55 of the Rules of Procedure,

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy and the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection and the opinion of the Committee on Legal Affairs (A8-0204/2017 ),

A.   whereas the raison d'être of the digital single market is to avoid fragmentation between national legislations and to abolish technical, legal and tax barriers so as to allow businesses, citizens and consumers to fully benefit from digital tools and services;

B.   whereas digitisation and new technologies continue to change forms of communication, access to information and the behaviour of citizens, consumers and companies, and whereas the fourth industrial revolution will lead to digitisation of all facets of the economy and society;

C.   whereas the evolving use of the internet and mobile devices offers new business opportunities for businesses of all sizes and generates new and alternative business models taking advantage of new technologies and access to the global market, but also creates new challenges;

D.   whereas the evolving development and use of internet platforms for a wide set of activities, including commercial activities and sharing goods and services, have changed the ways in which users and companies interact with content providers, traders and other individuals offering goods and services;

E.   whereas the e-Commerce Directive exempts intermediaries from liability for content only if they have neither knowledge nor control in relation to the information transmitted and/or hosted, but where intermediaries have actual knowledge of infringement or illegal activity or information it requires expeditious action to remove or disable access to illegal information or activity upon obtaining such knowledge;

F.   whereas numerous online platforms and information society services offer easier access to goods, services and digital content, and have extended their activities in relation to consumers and other actors;

G.   whereas the Commission is carrying out a number of assessments of consumer protection rules and B2B practices engaged in by online platforms towards their business users;

H.   whereas creativity and innovation are the drivers of the digital economy, and whereas it is therefore essential to ensure a high level of protection of intellectual property rights;

General introduction

1.   Welcomes the communication on ‘Online Platforms and the Digital Single Market - Opportunities and Challenges for Europe’;

2.   Welcomes the different initiatives already proposed under the Digital Single Market Strategy for Europe; stresses the importance of coordination and consistency between these initiatives; considers that achieving a digital single market is essential for fostering the EU's competitiveness, creating high-quality jobs and highly skilled jobs, and promoting the growth of the digital economy in Europe;

3.   Acknowledges that online platforms benefit today’s digital economy and society by increasing the choices available to consumers and creating and shaping new markets; points out, however, that online platforms present new policy and regulatory challenges;

4.   Recalls that many EU policies also apply to online platforms, but notes that in some cases the legislation is not enforced properly or is interpreted in a different manner in the Member States; stresses the importance of proper implementation and enforcement of EU legislation prior to considering whether there is a need to complement the current legal framework in order to remedy this situation;

5.   Welcomes the ongoing work being done to update and complement the current legal framework so as to make it fit for purpose in the digital age; believes that an effective and attractive regulatory environment is vital for the development of online and digital business in Europe;

Definition of platforms

6.   Acknowledges that it would be very difficult to arrive at a single, legally relevant and future-proof definition of online platforms at EU level, owing to factors such as the great variety of types of existing online platforms and their areas of activity, as well as the fast-changing environment of the digital world; believes that in any case one single EU definition or ‘one size fits all’ approach would not help the EU succeed in the platform economy;

7.   Is aware, at the same time, of the importance of avoiding the fragmentation of the EU internal market which could occur through a proliferation of regional or national rules and definitions, as well as of the need to provide certainty and a level playing field for both businesses and consumers;

8.   Believes, therefore, that online platforms should be distinguished and defined in relevant sector-specific legislation at EU level according to their characteristics, classifications and principles and following a problem-driven approach;

9.   Welcomes the Commission's ongoing work on online platforms, including consultations of stakeholders and carrying out an impact assessment; believes that this kind of evidence-based approach is essential for generating a comprehensive understanding in this field; calls on the Commission, to propose, if necessary, regulatory or other measures based on this in-depth analysis;

10.   Notes that online B2C and C2C platforms operate within a highly diverse range of activities, such as e-commerce, the media, search engines, communications, payment systems, labour provision, operating systems, transport, advertising, distribution of cultural content, the collaborative economy and social networks; further notes that although certain common features permit identification of these entities, online platforms can take many forms, and many different approaches can be taken to identify one;

11.   Notes that online B2C and C2C platforms are, to a greater or lesser extent, characterised by certain common features, such as but not limited to: operating in multi-sided markets; enabling parties belonging to two or more distinct user groups to enter into direct contact by electronic means; connecting different types of users; offering online services tailored to user preferences and based on data provided by users; classifying or referencing content, e.g. by using algorithms, goods or services proposed or put on-line by third parties; bringing together several parties with a view to the sale of a good, the provision of a service or the exchange or sharing of content, information, goods or services;

12.   Points out the crucial importance of clarifying the methods by which decisions based on algorithms are taken and promoting transparency in the use of those algorithms; calls on the Commission and the Member States, therefore, to examine the potential for error and bias in the use of algorithms in order to prevent any kind of discrimination, unfair practice or breach of privacy;

13.   Considers, however, that a clear difference should be made between B2C and B2B platforms, in light of the emerging B2B online platforms which are key to the development of the industrial internet, such as cloud-based services or data-sharing platforms enabling communication between internet of things (IoT) products; calls on the Commission to address the barriers in the single market that are hindering the growth of such platforms;

Facilitating the sustainable growth of European online platforms

14.   Notes that online platforms use the internet as a means of interaction and act as facilitators between parties, thus providing benefits to users, consumers and businesses by facilitating access to the global market; notes that online platforms may contribute to the adjustment of the supply and demand of goods and services, on a basis of community sentiment, shared access, reputation and trust;

15.   Notes that online platforms and applications, many of them conceived by European application developers, benefit from the enormous and ever-increasing numbers of connected mobile devices, PCs, laptops and other computing devices, and are increasingly available on those devices;

16.   Points out that top priority needs to be given to ensuring sufficient investment for the deployment of high-speed broadband networks and other digital infrastructure in order to meet the connectivity targets of the gigabit society, since such deployment is crucial to enable citizens and businesses to reap the benefits of the development of 5G technology, and generally to ensure connectivity across the Member States;

17.   Underlines that the increasingly widespread use of smart devices, including smartphones and tablets, has further extended and improved access to new services, including online platforms, thereby enhancing their role in the economy and society, particularly among young people but increasingly among all age groups; notes that digitisation will further increase with the fast-paced development of the IoT, which is expected to connect 25 billion objects by 2020;

18.   Considers that access to online platforms through high-quality technology is important for all citizens and businesses, not just those who are already active online; stresses the importance of preventing the emergence of gaps that can potentially arise from lack of digital skills or unequal access to technology; stresses that a committed approach towards digital skills development is required at national and European level;

19.   Draws attention to the rapidly developing online platform markets, which offer a new outlet for products and services; recognises the global and cross-border nature of such markets; points out that global online platform markets offer consumers a wide variety of choices and effective price competition; notes that the ‘roam like at home’ agreement supports the cross-border dimension of online platforms by making the use of online services more affordable;

20.   Notes the growing role of online platforms in the sharing and provision of access to news and other information that is of value to citizens as well as for the functioning of democracy; believes that online platforms can also act as enablers of e-governance;

21.   Urges the Commission to continue to promote the growth of European online platforms and start-ups and strengthen their ability to scale up and compete globally; calls on the Commission to maintain an innovation-friendly policy towards online platforms in order to facilitate market entry; regrets the EU's low share of market capitalisation in online platforms; stresses the importance of removing the obstacles that hamper the smooth operation of online platforms across borders and disrupt the functioning of the European digital single market; highlights the importance of non-discrimination and the need to facilitate switching between platforms offering compatible services;

22.   Emphasises that crucial factors include an open environment, homogeneous rules, availability of sufficient connectivity, interoperability of existing applications and availability of open standards;

23.   Recognises the significant benefits that online platforms can offer for SMEs and start-ups; notes that online platforms are often the easiest and most suitable first step for small businesses which want to go online and benefit from online distribution channels; notes that online platforms allow SMEs and start-ups to access global markets without having to excessively invest in building up costly digital infrastructure; underlines the importance of transparency and fair access to platforms, and recalls that the increasing dominance of some online platforms should not diminish entrepreneurial freedom;

24.   Urges the Commission to prioritise actions that allow European start-ups and online platforms to emerge and scale up; stresses that facilitating funding and investment in start-ups, using all existing financing instruments, is vital to the development of online platforms originating in Europe, specifically through access to risk capital and different channels such as banking or public funds, or through alternative funding options such as crowdfunding and crowd-investment;

25.   Notes that some online platforms enable the collaborative economy and contribute to its growth in Europe; welcomes the Commission communication on the collaborative economy, and emphasises that this should represent a first step towards a more comprehensive EU strategy in this area which supports the development of new business models; stresses that those new business models create jobs, foster entrepreneurship and offer new services, greater choice and better prices for citizens and consumers, as well as generating flexibility and new opportunities, but can also give rise to challenges and risks for workers;

26.   Points out that Member States have improved in the field of labour and social standards and social protection systems over the past decades, and stresses that the development of the social dimension has to be secured also in the digital era; notes that increasing digitisation impacts on labour markets, on the redefining of jobs and on the contractual relations between workers and businesses; notes the importance of ensuring respect for labour and social rights and the adequate enforcement of existing legislation in order to further foster social security schemes and the quality of employment; also calls on the Member States, in collaboration with social partners and other relevant stakeholders, to assess the need for the modernisation of existing legislation, including social security systems, in order to stay abreast of technological development while ensuring the protection of workers, as well as guaranteeing decent working conditions and producing general benefits for society as a whole;

27.   Calls on the Member States to ensure adequate social security for self-employed workers, who are key players in the digital labour market; also calls on the Member States to develop new protection mechanisms where necessary so as to ensure adequate coverage for online platform workers, as well as non-discrimination and gender equality, and to share best practices at European level;

28.   Notes that online health platforms can support innovative activities by creating and transferring relevant knowledge from engaged healthcare consumers to an innovating healthcare environment; stresses that new innovation platforms will co-design and co-create the next generation of innovative healthcare products so that they precisely match current unmet needs;

Clarifying the liability of intermediaries

29.   Notes that the current EU intermediary limited liability regime is one of the issues raised by certain stakeholders in the ongoing debate on online platforms; notes that the consultation on the regulatory environment for platforms has shown relative support for the current framework contained in the e-Commerce Directive, but also the need to eliminate certain flaws in its enforcement; believes, therefore, that the liability regime should be further clarified, since it is a crucial pillar for the EU's digital economy; believes that guidance is needed from the Commission on the implementation of the intermediary liability framework in order to allow online platforms to comply with their responsibilities and the rules on liability, enhance legal certainty, and increase user confidence; calls on the Commission to develop further steps to that effect, recalling that platforms not playing a neutral role as defined in the e-commerce Directive cannot claim liability exemption;

30.   Stresses that, despite the fact that more creative content is being consumed today than ever before on services such as user-uploaded content platforms and content aggregation services, the creative sectors have not seen a comparable increase in revenue from this increase in consumption; stresses that one of the main reasons for this is considered to be a transfer of value that has emerged thanks to the lack of clarity regarding the status of these online services under copyright and e-commerce law; stress that an unfair market has been created, threatening the development of the digital single market and its main players, namely the cultural and creative industries;

31.   Welcomes the Commission's undertaking to publish guidance on intermediary liability since there is a certain lack of clarity as regards the current rules and their implementation in some Member States; believes that the guidance will reinforce user trust in online services; urges the Commission to submit its proposals; calls on the Commission to draw attention to the regulatory differences between the online and offline worlds and to create a level playing field for comparable services online and offline, where necessary and possible and taking account of the specificities of each domain, the evolution of society, the need for more transparency and legal certainty, and the need not to impede innovation;

32.   Considers that digital platforms are means of providing wider access to cultural and creative works and offer great opportunities for the cultural and creative industries to develop new business models; highlights the need to consider how this process can function with greater legal certainty and respect for rightholders; underlines the importance of transparency and of ensuring a level playing field; considers in this regard that protection of rightholders within the copyright and intellectual property framework is necessary in order to ensure recognition of values and stimulation of innovation, creativity, investment and the production of content;

33.   Urges online platforms to strengthen measures to tackle illegal and harmful content online; welcomes the ongoing work on the AVMS Directive and the Commission's intention to propose measures for video-sharing platforms in order to protect minors and for taking down content related to hate speech; notes the absence of references to content relating to incitement to terrorism; calls for special attention to avoid bullying and violence against vulnerable people;

34.   Considers that the liability rules for online platforms should allow the tackling of issues related to illegal content and goods in an efficient manner, for instance by applying due diligence while maintaining a balanced and innovation-friendly approach; urges the Commission to define and further clarify the notice and takedown procedures and to provide guidance on voluntary measures aimed at addressing such content;

35.   Stresses the importance of taking action against the dissemination of fake news; calls on the online platforms to provide users with tools to denounce fake news in such a way that other users can be informed that the veracity of the content has been contested; points out, at the same time, that the free exchange of opinions is fundamental to democracy and that the right to privacy also applies in the social media sphere; highlights the value of the free press with regard to providing citizens with reliable information;

36.   Calls on the Commission to analyse in depth the current situation and legal framework with regard to fake news, and to verify the possibility of legislative intervention to limit the dissemination and spreading of fake content;

37.   Stresses the need for online platforms to combat illegal goods and content and unfair practices (e.g. the reselling of entertainment tickets at extortionate prices), through regulatory measures complemented by effective self-regulatory measures (e.g. through clear terms of use and appropriate mechanisms to identify repeat offenders, or by setting up specialised content moderation teams and tracing dangerous products) or hybrid measures;

38.   Welcomes the Code of Conduct on Countering Illegal Hate Speech for the industry, agreed in 2016 and supported by the Commission, and asks the Commission to develop adequate and reasonable means for online platforms to identify and remove illegal goods and content;

39.   Believes that compliance with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the Network and Information Security (NIS) Directive is essential as regards data ownership; notes that users often have incentives to share their personal data with online platforms; stresses the need to inform users of the exact nature of the data collected and the ways it will be used; underlines that it is imperative for users to have control over the collection and the use of their personal data; stresses that there should also be an option not to share personal data; notes that the ‘right to be forgotten’ rule also applies to online platforms; calls on online platforms to ensure that anonymity is secured when personal data is handled by third parties;

40.   Invites the Commission to rapidly conclude its review of the need for formal notice and action procedures as a promising means of strengthening the liability regime in a harmonised way across the EU;

41.   Encourages the Commission to submit as soon as possible its practical guidance on the market surveillance of products sold online;

Creating a level playing field

42.   Urges the Commission to ensure a level playing field between online platform service providers and other services with which they compete, including B2B and C2C; stresses that regulatory certainty is essential to creating a thriving digital economy; notes that competitive pressure varies between different sectors and different actors within sectors; recalls therefore that 'one size fits all' solutions are rarely appropriate; considers that any tailor-made solutions or regulatory measures proposed have to take account of the specific characteristics of platforms in order to ensure fair competition on an equal footing;

43.   Draws attention to the fact that the size of online platforms varies from multinationals to micro-enterprises; stresses the importance of fair and effective competition between online platforms in order to promote consumer choice and avoid the creation of monopolies or dominant positions that distort the markets through abuse of market power; stresses that facilitating switching between online platforms or online services is an essential measure for preventing market failures and avoiding lock-in situations;

44.   Notes that online platforms are altering the highly regulated traditional business model; underlines that possible reforms of the existing regulatory framework should concentrate on the harmonisation of rules and reducing regulatory fragmentation, in order to secure an open and competitive market for online platforms while guaranteeing high standards of consumer protection; emphasises the need to avoid over-regulation and to continue the REFIT process and the implementation of the better regulation principle; stresses the importance of technology neutrality and of coherence between rules that apply online and offline in equivalent situations to the extent necessary and possible; stresses that regulatory certainty fosters competition, investment and innovation;

45.   Underlines the importance of investment in infrastructure in both urban and rural areas; stresses that fair competition ensures investment in quality high-speed broadband services; stresses that affordable access to and full deployment of reliable high-speed infrastructure, such as ultrafast connections and telecommunications, fosters the supply and use of online platform services; stresses the need for net neutrality and fair and non-discriminatory access to online platforms as a prerequisite for innovation and a truly competitive market; urges the Commission to streamline the funding schemes for related initiatives facilitating the digitisation process, in order to use the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) and Horizon 2020 (H2020) and the contributions from Member States' national budgets; calls on the Commission to assess the potential of public-private partnerships (PPPs) and Joint Technology Initiatives (JTIs);

46.   Calls on the Commission to consider establishing a harmonised approach to the right of rectification, the right to counterstatement and the right to forbearance for users of platforms;

47.   Calls on the Commission to create a level playing field with regard to claims for damages against platforms arising from the circulation of disparaging facts which create persistent harm for the user;

Informing and empowering citizens and consumers

48.   Underlines that the internet of the future cannot succeed without users' trust in online platforms, greater transparency, a level playing field, protection of personal data, better control of advertising and other automated systems, and online platforms that respect all applicable legislation and the legitimate interests of users;

49.   Stresses the importance of transparency in relation to data collection and usage, and considers that online platforms must adequately respond to users' concerns by duly requesting their consent in accordance with the GDPR and by informing them more effectively and clearly about what personal data is collected and how it is shared and used in line with the EU data protection framework, while retaining the option of withdrawal of consent to individual provisions without forfeiting complete access to a service;

50.   Calls on the Commission and the Member States to take the necessary measures to ensure full respect of citizens’ rights to privacy and to protection of their personal data in the digital environment; emphasises the importance of correct implementation of the GDPR, ensuring the full application of the principle of ‘privacy by design and by default’;

51.   Notes the importance of clarifying the issues of data access, data ownership and liability related to data, and calls on the Commission to further assess the current regulatory framework with regard to these issues;

52.   Underlines that the cross-border nature of online platforms represents a huge advantage in developing the digital single market, but also requires better cooperation between national public authorities; asks existing consumer protection services and mechanisms to collaborate and provide efficient consumer protection in relation to online platforms’ activities; further notes the importance of the Cross-border Enforcement and Cooperation Regulation in this regard; welcomes the Commission's intention to further assess any additional need to update existing consumer protection rules in relation to platforms, as part of the REFIT check of EU consumer and marketing law in 2017;

53.   Encourages online platforms to offer customers clear, comprehensive and fair terms and conditions and ensure user-friendly ways of presenting their terms and conditions, processing of data, legal and commercial guarantees and possible costs, while avoiding complex terminology, in order to enhance consumer protection and bolster trust and understanding of consumer rights, since this is vital for online platforms to succeed;

54.   Points out that high standards of consumer protection on online platforms are not only needed in B2B practices but also in C2C relationships;

55.   Calls for an assessment of current legislation and self-regulation mechanisms in order to determine whether they provide adequate protection to users, consumers and businesses, against the backdrop of an increasing number of complaints and the investigations opened by the Commission into several platforms;

56.   Stresses the importance of providing users with clear, impartial and transparent information on the criteria used to filter, rank, sponsor, personalise or review information presented to them; underlines the need for clear differentiation between sponsored content and any other content;

57.   Calls on the Commission to address certain issues of platforms' review systems, such as fake reviews or deletion of negative reviews, with the aim of gaining competitive advantage; stresses the need to make reviews more reliable and useful for consumers and to ensure that platforms respect existing obligations and take measures in this respect against practices such as voluntary schemes; welcomes the guidance on the implementation of the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive;

58.   Calls on the Commission to assess the need for criteria and thresholds setting the conditions under which online platforms may be made subject to further market surveillance, and to provide guidance for online platforms with a view to facilitating their compliance with existing obligations and guidelines in a timely manner, in particular in the realm of consumer protection and competition rules;

59.   Stresses that the rights of authors and creators must be protected also in the digital era, and recalls the importance of creative industry for employment and the economy in the EU; calls on the Commission to assess the current Intellectual Property Rights Enforcement Directive (IPRED)(9) , in order to prevent the intentional misuse of reporting processes and ensure that all actors in the value chain, including intermediaries such as internet service providers, can fight more effectively against counterfeiting, by taking active, proportionate and effective measures to ensure traceability and prevent the promotion and distribution of counterfeit goods, given that counterfeiting represents a risk for consumers;

60.   Emphasises the need to restore a balance in the sharing of value for intellectual property, in particular on platforms distributing protected audiovisual content;

61.   Calls for closer cooperation between platforms and rightholders in order to ensure proper clearance of rights and fight the infringement of IPRs online; recalls that such infringements can constitute a real issue, not only for companies but also for the health and safety of consumers, who must be made aware of the reality of the illicit trade in fake products; reiterates, therefore, its call for the application of the ‘follow the money’ approach with relevant payment services, in order to deprive counterfeiters of means of pursuing their economic activity; underlines that a revision of IPRED could be an appropriate means of ensuring a high level of cooperation between platforms, users and all other economic actors, together with the correct application of the e-commerce Directive;

62.   Calls on the Commission to further promote the platform that has been launched for settling disputes involving purchases made online among consumers, to improve its user-friendliness, and to monitor compliance by traders with their obligation to place a link to that platform on their website, in order to further address the increasing number of complaints against several online platforms;

Increasing online trust and fostering innovation

63.   Underlines that the effective enforcement of data protection and consumer rights in online markets in line with the provisions of the GDPR and the NIS Directive are priority actions, for both public policy and businesses, when it comes to increasing trust; stresses that consumer and data protection require a variety of measures and technical means in the fields of online privacy, internet security and cybersecurity; underlines the importance of transparency in relation to data collection and the security of payments;

64.   Notes that online payments offer a high level of transparency that helps to protect the rights of consumers and entrepreneurs and minimise fraud risks; welcomes also the new innovative alternative payment methods, such as virtual currencies and e-wallets; notes that transparency facilitates comparison of prices and transaction costs and increases the traceability of economic transactions;

65.   Stresses that a fair, predictable and innovation-friendly environment, as well as investment in research and development and upskilling of the workforce, are vital for generating new ideas and innovations; underlines the importance of open data and open standards for the development of new online platforms and innovation; recalls that the review of the implementation of the Re-Use of Public Service Information Directive(10) is due in 2018; notes that open, advanced and shared test beds and open application programming interfaces can be an asset for Europe;

66.   Highlights the importance of a committed approach, from the Commission and in particular from the Member States, towards digital skills development, in order to form a highly skilled workforce, since this is a condition for ensuring a high level of employment under fair conditions throughout the EU while terminating the digital illiteracy which foments the digital divide and digital exclusion; underlines, therefore, that the development and improvement of digital skills is imperative and requires major investments in education and lifelong learning;

67.   Considers that platforms on which a significant volume of protected works are stored and made available to the public should conclude licence agreements with relevant rightholders, unless they are not active and are thus covered by the exemption foreseen in Article 14 of the e-commerce Directive, with a view to fair profit-sharing with authors, creators and relevant rightholders; underlines that such license agreements and their implementation must respect users’ exercise of their fundamental rights;

Respecting B2B relations and EU competition law

68.   Welcomes the actions of the Commission to better enforce competition law in the digital world, and stresses the need to take timely decisions in competition cases in light of the fast-moving pace of the digital sector; notes, however, that in some regards EU competition law has to be adjusted to the digital world in order to be fit for purpose;

69.   Is concerned about problematic unfair B2B trading practices by some online platforms, such as lack of transparency (e.g. in search results, data usage or pricing), unilateral changes in terms and conditions, promotion of advertising or sponsored results while diminishing the visibility of non-paid results, possible unfair terms and conditions, e.g. in payment solutions, and possible abuses of the dual role of platforms as intermediaries and competitors; notes that this dual role may create economic incentives for online platforms to discriminate in favour of their own products and services and impose discriminating B2B terms; calls on the Commission to take appropriate measures in this regard;

70.   Calls on the Commission to propose a pro-growth, pro-consumer, targeted legislative framework for B2B relations based on the principles of preventing abuse of market power and ensuring that platforms that serve as a gateway to a downstream market do not become gatekeepers; considers that such a framework should serve to avoid detrimental effects on consumer welfare and promote competition and innovation; further recommends that this framework be technology-neutral and capable of addressing existing risks, for example in relation to the market for mobile operating system but also to future risks with new internet-driven technologies such as IoT or artificial intelligence, which will further consolidate the position of platforms set even more squarely between online businesses and consumers;

71.   Welcomes the targeted fact-finding exercise on B2B practices to be conducted by Commission by spring 2017, and urges that effective steps be taken to ensure fair competition;

72.   Underlines that EU competition law and authorities need to guarantee a level playing field where appropriate, including in respect of consumer protection and tax issues;

73.   Notes the recent revelations involving, among other elements, big digital companies and their tax planning practices in the EU; welcomes in this connection the efforts made by the Commission to fight tax avoidance, and calls on the Member States and the Commission to propose further reforms to prevent tax avoidance practices in the EU; calls for action to ensure that all companies, including digital companies, pay their taxes in the Member States where their economic activities take place;

74.   Points out the differences in the legal landscape in the 28 Member States and the specificities of the digital sector, in which the physical presence of a company in the country of the market is often not needed; calls on the Member States to adjust their VAT systems in line with the country of destination principle(11) ;

The EU’s place in the world

75.   Points out that the EU's presence in the world market is regrettably low, in particular owing to the current fragmentation of the digital market, legal uncertainty and the lack of financing and capacity to market technological innovations, which make it difficult for European companies to become world leaders and to compete with players in the rest of the world in this new, globally competitive economy; encourages development of an environment for start-ups and scale-ups that fosters development and local job creation;

76.   Calls for the European institutions to ensure a level playing field between EU and non-EU operators, for instance in respect of taxation and similar matters;

77.   Believes that the EU has the potential to become a major player in the digital world, and considers that it should pave the way for an innovation-friendly climate in Europe by ensuring a watertight legal framework that protects all stakeholders;

o
o   o

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

(1) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0052 .
(2) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0009 .
(3) Texts adopted, P8_TA (2017)0010.
(4) OJ L 310, 26.11.2015, p.1.
(5) OJ L 178, 17.7.2000, p. 1.
(6) OJ L 119, 4.5.2016, p. 1.
(7) OJ L 194, 19.7.2016, p. 1.
(8) OJ C 75, 10.3.2017, p. 119.
(9) Directive 2004/48/EC (OJ L 157, 30.4.2004, p. 45) .
(10) Directive 2003/98/EC (OJ L 345, 31.12.2003, p. 90).
(11) See Parliament’s resolution of 24 November 2016 on ‘Towards a definitive VAT system and fighting VAT fraud’ (Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0453 ).


Humanitarian situation in Yemen
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European Parliament resolution of 15 June 2017 on the humanitarian situation in Yemen (2017/2727(RSP) )
P8_TA-PROV(2017)0273 B8-0407 , 0408 , 0409 , 0410 , 0411 , 0412 and 0413/2017

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to its previous resolutions on Yemen, in particular those of 25 February 2016(1) on the humanitarian situation in Yemen and of 9 July 2015(2) on the situation in Yemen,

–   ‎having regard to the Council conclusions of 3 April 2017 on Yemen,

–   having regard to the statements by the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy of 8 October 2016 on the attack in Yemen and of 19 October 2016 on the ceasefire in Yemen,

–   having regard to the UN Security Council resolutions on Yemen, in particular Resolutions 2216 (2015), 2201 (2015) and 2140 (2014),

–   having regard to the High-Level Pledging Event for the Humanitarian Crisis in Yemen held on 25 April 2017 in Geneva,

–   having regard to the call made by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on human rights and international sanctions, Idriss Jazairy, on 12 April 2017 for the lifting of the naval blockade on Yemen,

–   having regard to the statements by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, of 10 October 2016 on the outrageous attack on a funeral in Yemen, of 10 February 2017 on civilians in Yemen caught between warring parties, and of 24 March 2017 on over 100 civilians killed in a month, including fishermen and refugees, as the Yemen conflict reaches its two-year mark,

–   having regard to the statements by the UN Special Envoy for Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, of 21 October and 19 November 2016 and of 30 January 2017,

–   having regard to Rule 123(2) and (4) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.   whereas the humanitarian situation in Yemen is catastrophic; whereas in February 2017 the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) declared the situation in Yemen the ‘largest food security emergency in the world’; whereas, as of May 2017, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) stated that 17 million people in Yemen required food assistance, with 7 million of that number facing a ‘food security emergency’; whereas there are 2,2 million children suffering severe acute malnourishment, with one child dying every ten minutes of preventable causes; whereas there are 2 million internally displaced persons and 1 million returnees;

B.   whereas the consequences of the ongoing conflict are devastating for the country and its population; whereas, in spite of the international calls for a political solution to the crisis, the parties to the conflict have failed to reach a settlement and the fighting continues; whereas neither side has achieved a military victory and is unlikely to do so in the future;

C.   whereas since March 2015 some 10 000 people have been killed and more than 40 000 injured by the violence according to the UN; whereas the fighting, both on the ground and in the air, has made it impossible for UN Human Rights Office (OHCHR) field monitors to access the area to verify the number of civilian casualties, meaning that these figures only reflect the deaths and injuries that the OHCHR has managed to corroborate and confirm; whereas Yemen’s civilian infrastructure and institutions have been heavily affected by the war and are increasingly unable to deliver basic services; whereas the health system is on the verge of collapse and key frontline medical workers have not been paid in months;

D.   whereas Yemen is experiencing a second outbreak of cholera and acute watery diarrhoea (AWD), which has led to over 100 000 suspected cholera cases and has killed almost 800 people between 27 April and 8 June 2017 across the country;

E.   whereas vulnerable groups, women and children are particularly affected by the ongoing hostilities and the humanitarian crisis, and whereas the safety and well-being of women and girls is of particular concern; whereas children in particular are vulnerable to the rise in violence in Yemen, with 1 540 children killed and 2 450 injured as documented by the UN;

F.   whereas, due to violence, more than 350 000 children were unable to resume their education in the past school year, bringing the total number of out-of-school children in Yemen to over 2 million, according to UNICEF; whereas out-of-school children are at risk of being recruited to fight;

G.   whereas imports account for almost 90 % of the country’s staple foods; whereas the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and international sanctions has stressed that the aerial and naval blockade imposed on Yemen by the coalition forces since March 2015 was one of the main causes of the humanitarian catastrophe, while violence within the country and widespread fuel shortages have disrupted internal food distribution networks;

H.   whereas a stable, secure Yemen with a properly functioning government is critical to international efforts to combat extremism and violence in the region and beyond, as well as to peace and stability within Yemen itself;

I.   whereas the situation in Yemen carries grave risks for the stability of the region, in particular that of the Horn of Africa, the Red Sea and the wider Middle East; whereas Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has been able to benefit from the deterioration of the political and security situation in Yemen, expanding its presence and increasing the number and scale of its terrorist attacks; whereas AQAP and the so-called Islamic State ISIS/Daesh has established its presence in Yemen and has carried out terrorist attacks, killing hundreds of people;

J.   whereas, in its resolution of 25 February 2016, Parliament called for an initiative aimed at imposing an EU arms embargo against Saudi Arabia, in line with Council Common Position 2008/944/CFSP of 8 December 2008;

K.   whereas Houthi and allied forces have both been accused of committing serious laws-of-war violations by laying banned anti-personnel landmines, mistreating detainees and launching indiscriminate rockets into populated areas in Yemen and southern Saudi Arabia;

L.   whereas the total amount of EU humanitarian funding to Yemen for 2015 and 2016 came to EUR 120 million; whereas the allocated amount of aid in 2017 is EUR 46 million; whereas despite the High-Level Pledging Event for the Humanitarian Crisis in Yemen held in Geneva in April 2017 – during which various countries and organisations made pledges amounting to USD 1,1 billion – as of 9 May 2017 donors had delivered funds amounting to only 28 % of the UN’s USD 2,1 billion humanitarian appeal for Yemen for 2017; whereas an additional EUR 70 million is expected to be mobilised in development aid in 2017;

1.   Expresses grave concern at the alarming deterioration in the humanitarian situation in Yemen, which is characterised by widespread food insecurity and severe malnutrition, indiscriminate attacks against civilians and medical and aid workers, the destruction of civilian and medical infrastructure, the continuation of airstrikes, ground-level fighting and shelling, despite repeated calls for a renewed cessation of hostilities;

2.   Deeply regrets the loss of life caused by the conflict and the suffering of those caught up in the fighting, and expresses its condolences to the families of the victims; reaffirms its commitment to continuing to support Yemen and the Yemeni people; urges all parties to seek an immediate ceasefire and to return to the negotiating table; reiterates its support for the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Yemen;

3.   Expresses grave concern that the continuing airstrikes and ground-level fighting have led to thousands of civilian deaths, displacement and a loss of livelihoods putting more lives at risk, have further destabilised Yemen, are destroying the country’s physical infrastructure, have created instability which has been exploited by terrorist and extremist organisations such as ISIS/Daesh and AQAP, and have exacerbated an already critical humanitarian situation;

4.   Condemns all terror attacks and violence against civilians in the strongest terms, including bombardments, the use of cluster munitions, rocket, shelling, sniper fire and missile attacks and the reported use of anti-personnel mines as well as attacks causing the destruction of civilian infrastructure, including schools, medical facilities, residential areas, markets, water systems, ports and airports;

5.   Urges the Government of Yemen to assume its responsibilities in the fight against ISIS/Daesh and AQAP, which are taking advantage of the current instability; recalls that all acts of terrorism are criminal and unjustifiable, regardless of their motivation, and regardless of when, where and by whom they are committed; emphasises the need for all parties to the conflict to take resolute action against such groups, whose activities represent a grave threat to a negotiated settlement and the security of the region and beyond;

6.   Reiterates its call on all sides and their regional and international backers to comply with international humanitarian law and international human rights law, to ensure the protection of civilians and to refrain from directly targeting civilian infrastructure, in particular medical facilities and water systems; recalls that the deliberate targeting of civilians and civilian infrastructure, including hospitals and medical personnel, amounts to a grave violation of international humanitarian law; urges the international community to make provisions for the international criminal prosecution of those responsible for violations of international law committed in Yemen; supports, in this regard, the call by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al-Hussein, for the establishment of an independent international body to carry out a comprehensive investigation into the crimes committed in the conflict in Yemen; stresses that ensuring accountability for violations is indispensable to achieving a lasting settlement of the conflict;

7.   Recalls that there can be no military solution to the conflict in Yemen and that the crisis can only be solved through an inclusive, Yemeni-led negotiation process, involving all the parties concerned, with the full and meaningful participation of women, leading to an inclusive political solution; restates its support for the efforts of the UN Secretary-General, the UN Special Envoy for Yemen and the European External Action Service to facilitate a resumption of negotiations, and urges all parties to the conflict to react in a constructive manner and without attaching preconditions to these efforts; emphasises that the implementation of confidence-building measures such as immediate steps towards a sustainable ceasefire, a mechanism for a UN-monitored withdrawal of forces, facilitation of humanitarian and commercial access and the release of political prisoners is essential to facilitating a return to the political track;

8.   Urges Saudi Arabia and Iran to work to improve bilateral relations, and to seek to work together to end the fighting in Yemen;

9.   Supports the EU’s call on all parties to the conflict to take all necessary steps to prevent and respond to all forms of violence, including sexual and gender-based violence, in situations of armed conflict; strongly condemns the violations of the rights of the child and is concerned at children’s limited access to even basic healthcare and education; condemns the recruitment and use of child soldiers in hostilities; calls for the EU and the international community to support the rehabilitation and reintegration of demobilised children into the community;

10.   Calls on all parties to the conflict to work to remove all logistical and financial obstacles affecting the import and distribution of food and medical supplies to civilians in need; urges, in particular, the parties to ensure the full and effective functioning of major commercial entry points, such as the ports of Hodeida and Aden; stresses their importance as a lifeline for humanitarian support and essential supplies; calls for a reopening of Sana’a airport for commercial flights so that urgently needed medicine and commodities can be flown in and Yemenis in need of medical treatment can be flown out;

11.   Calls on the Council to effectively promote compliance with international humanitarian law, as provided for in the relevant EU guidelines; reiterates, in particular, the need for the strict application by all EU Member States of the rules laid down in Council Common Position 2008/944/CFSP on arms exports; recalls, in this regard, its resolution of 25 February 2016;

12.   Stresses the importance of empowering local authorities and building their capacity in service delivery, as well as engaging the Yemeni diaspora and international NGOs in supporting critical service sectors; underlines, in particular, the urgent need for the EU and other international actors to address the cholera outbreak and support the health system in order to prevent its collapse, including facilitating supplies and salary payments for frontline medical workers who are critical to the humanitarian response;

13.   Welcomes the fact that the EU and its Member States are ready to step up humanitarian assistance to the population across the country to respond to the rising needs and to mobilise their development assistance to fund projects in crucial sectors; welcomes the commitments made at the High-Level Pledging Event for the Humanitarian Crisis in Yemen and stresses the need for coordinated humanitarian action under UN leadership to ease the suffering of the people of Yemen; further urges all countries to fulfil the commitments made at the pledging event in order to contribute to addressing humanitarian needs;

14.   Calls on the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy to urgently propose an integrated EU strategy for Yemen and to make a renewed push for a Yemeni peace initiative under the auspices of the UN; calls in this regard for the appointment of an EU special representative for Yemen;

15.   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 Secretary-General of the United Nations, the Secretary-General of the Gulf Cooperation Council, the Secretary-General of the League of Arab States, and the Government of Yemen.

(1) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0066 .
(2) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0270 .


Statute and funding of European political parties and foundations
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European Parliament resolution of 15 June 2017 on the funding of political parties and political foundations at European level (2017/2733(RSP) )
P8_TA-PROV(2017)0274 B8-0405/2017

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 1141/2014 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 October 2014 on the statute and funding of European political parties and European political foundations(1) ,

–   having regard to Rule 123(2) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.   whereas transnational political parties and foundations help to form a wider European political awareness and express the will of the citizens of the Union;

B.   whereas the funding of European political parties and foundations should support political activities in line with the principles of the Union and be transparent and not open to abuse;

C.   whereas Article 6 of Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 1141/2014 establishes an Authority for European political parties and European political foundations, to be set up by 1 September 2016 with the function of deciding whether the registration and de-registration of European political parties and political foundations are in compliance with the procedures and conditions laid down in the regulation;

1.   Regrets the numerous shortcomings of Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 1141/2014, especially in respect of the level of co-financing (own resources), and of the possibility of multi-party membership of Members of the European Parliament;

2.   Encourages the Commission to take a closer look at all the shortcomings and to propose a revision of the regulation as soon as possible;

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

(1) OJ L 317, 4.11.2014, p. 1.

Last updated: 28 June 2017Legal notice