Jan Andersson, Anna Hedh, Ewa Hedkvist Petersen and Inger Segelström (PSE), in writing. (SV) We seek a settlement with the Council on a new interinstitutional agreement on budget discipline and improvement of the budget procedure. As our point of departure in the negotiations, we have the European Parliament’s resolution of 8 June 2005 on political challenges and budgetary resources of the enlarged European Union for 2007-2013. We therefore support the European Parliament’s resolution on the European Council’s common position from 15 to 16 December 2005. We cannot, however, support the wording on an improved European dimension to the EU’s agricultural policy. We look forward to the overhaul of the EU’s income and expenditure in 2008 and hope that it will lead to a more modern structure for the EU budget and reduced expenditure on the common agricultural policy.
Richard James Ashworth (PPE-DE), in writing. The British Conservative delegation supports the Böge report in its call for the rejection of the European Council's common position on the Financial Perspective 2007-2013 in its current form. We support the report in its call for a firm commitment to undertake a review of the financial perspective with a clear role for the European Parliament, and we very strongly support the call for sufficient accompanying measures to ensure better implementation and control of expenditure of funds in the Member States.
We note with concern, however, the call for the Committee on Budgets to negotiate on the basis of the European Parliament's position of 8 June 2005 which, if agreed, would increase the commitment appropriations by EUR 112 474 billion over the period. For this reason we have abstained on the final vote.
Francisco Assis, Luis Manuel Capoulas Santos and Edite Estrela (PSE), in writing. (PT) We abstained from the final vote on the resolution on the financial perspective for 2007-2013, because we do not accept Recital No 4 of the resolution.
We believe that the minimum agreement was ultimately a good one for Europe, as it headed off a serious political crisis in the Union, albeit temporarily.
The use of the word ‘rejects’ in Recital No 4 conveys the idea to the European public that Parliament is seeking to re-open the financial debate, which as things stand is not feasible, let alone appropriate.
Accordingly, we consider the word ‘rejects’ to mean the same as ‘disagreement’, which obviously does not undermine the agreement that was reached.
Gerard Batten, Graham Booth, Derek Roland Clark, Nigel Farage, Roger Knapman, Michael Henry Nattrass, Jeffrey Titford and Thomas Wise (IND/DEM), in writing. It may surprise people that UKIP has, for the first time ever, voted for a report that is overtly federalist in tone. We do so because the adoption of this report kills the deal brokered by Tony Blair in December. To us, a 63% increase in the UK's contribution to the EU is unacceptable. The surrender of £7 billion of our rebate is unacceptable. The current financial perspectives are a bad deal for Britain.
If this report is accepted, we fall back on Article 272 of the Treaty and annual negotiations of the budget. Though we disagree strongly with the reasons behind this report, we are happy to play our part in re-opening a debate about how UK taxpayers' money is spent. The more people are exposed to the workings of the EU, the less they like it.
Bastiaan Belder (IND/DEM), in writing. – (NL) By consigning the Council’s common position on the financial perspectives 2007-2013 to the waste paper basket, the majority of the European Parliament is putting the functioning of the European Union on the line, and this is something with which we are not in agreement.
First of all, it is the Member States that collect the contributions for the European Union. Parliament is punching above its weight if it wants to force the Member States to make more money available for the EU.
Secondly, given the principle of subsidiarity, there are items in the European budget that should receive far less funding, if any at all: external policy, education, social affairs, employment, culture and health care. Furthermore, paying out for EU propaganda and subsidies for ‘pro-European’ think tanks does not serve any useful purpose.
Thirdly, the cohesion and structural fund policy must focus its efforts on the disadvantaged regions in the Member States where the GDP is less than 80% of the EU average. Logically, this results in a shift of the structural support policy from the southern to the eastern Member States.
In the interest of the citizens, this House should adopt a more resourceful attitude and reduce the EU to its core tasks, in short, do more with less money.
Charlotte Cederschiöld, Christofer Fjellner, Gunnar Hökmark and Anna Ibrisagic (PPE-DE), in writing. (SV) We are not satisfied with the settlement reached in the Council on 16 December. We wish to reduce expenditure on agricultural policy and the Structural Funds and allocate more resources to research and development and to the common foreign and security policy. Parliament has the right of codecision on the financial perspective and has announced that it will push its own budget policy very hard. We do not support the expansive budget policy advocated by Parliament but do support other proposals such as that to increase the appropriations to research and development.
In the light of this, we did not vote against the resolution in the final vote but abstained, given that we are able to support parts of Parliament’s proposal.
Lena Ek (ALDE), in writing. (SV) I chose today to abstain when the European Parliament voted on its resolution on the financial perspective. In its resolution, the European Parliament rejects the Council’s agreement. I am certainly very disappointed in the Council’s agreement whereby my priority areas will obtain resources fewer than those proposed by the Commission. These are areas such as research, innovation, measures to combat cross-border crime, environmental measures and the Structural Funds set aside to help small and medium-sized businesses.
The Council has, however, taken a reprehensibly long time, and I do not wish to delay this process any further. It is important for us to secure the funding for projects and programmes for the years 2007-2013 so that these do not have to be discontinued because of uncertainty and the absence of cofinanciers. It is especially important for the ten new Member States. I have therefore chosen not to derail the financial perspective that has now been agreed on.
Neena Gill (PSE), in writing. The UK PSE Group will abstain on the final vote on the Böge report of 18.01.2006 for the following reasons:
1. We are concerned about the reference to enhancing agricultural policy in paragraph 7 which is something we have been fighting against for a long time.
2. The UK PSE Group is against the first sentence of paragraph 4 which states that the EP 'rejects the European Council's common position'. First, we believe the UK Presidency had a difficult task on its hands trying to reach agreement on this sensitive and divisive issue. Few believed the UK would be able to achieve the final compromise given the sometimes diametrically opposed positions taken by the 25 EU Member States on this issue. In the second place, we think it is not the EP's role to reject the position of the Council: all we can do is take note of their position and decide upon our own position which may disagree with the Council's position but does not reject it.
3. The UK PSE Group supports what the EP is trying to do in terms of improving accountability and the flexibility of the budget to respond to future challenges facing the EU given its role as a major global actor.
Ana Maria Gomes (PSE), in writing. (PT) In December, the Council ignored Parliament’s codecision powers/obligation and omitted to fund the central policies of the Lisbon Strategy and policies relating to Europe’s place on the world stage.
Consequently, the Commission is devoid of resources for funding citizenship policies – for example youth, education, research and culture – the Globalisation Adjustment Fund and the Union’s external commitments, such as peace missions and measures to combat the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
I therefore voted to reject the agreement in its current form, and would call for negotiations to begin with a view to bridging the shortfall in resources.
The Presidency should be mandated to negotiate with Parliament on reserves for flexibility that would guarantee all necessary resources and to agree on a revision clause that would make it possible to re-examine spending in 2008 – including diverting funding from the CAP into competitiveness and innovation policies – and to reconsider the Union’s budgetary resources.
This is not a matter of reopening what was agreed upon in Brussels in December, but rather of reinforcing it with the means necessary to finance policies and measures essential for a more cohesive, competitive and responsible Europe that has greater credibility on the world stage.
Pedro Guerreiro (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) The agreement on the Community budget for 2007-2013 adopted at the December European Council is woefully inadequate in terms of financial resources and unsuitable in terms of the priorities and instruments required to address the economic, social and environmental needs and problems of a Union enlarged to 27 countries.
The much-trumpeted concept of ‘solidarity’ has been pushed down the order of priorities, and funding for cohesion policy has been cut back from 0.41% to 0.37% of Community GNI; this in spite of the fact that economic and social disparities arising from the enlargement have increased. There have also been cuts to areas such as the social, environmental, agricultural, cooperation, research and culture. At the same time, areas such as ‘competitiveness’, migration control, border control, security and the common foreign and security policy have seen their funding increase, at the expense of development aid.
This seals victory for the interests of the most economically developed countries and the large economic and financial groups in those countries, to the detriment of the interests of what are referred to as the ‘cohesion’ countries, such as Portugal, and of those of the workers.
The entire ‘negotiating’ process has been characterised by proposal after proposal, each worse than the preceding one. In this context, although the proposal before us rejects the Council’s agreement, it reaffirms Parliament’s negotiating position, itself inadequate in terms of funding and priorities.
Joel Hasse Ferreira (PSE), in writing. (PT) In the text adopted on the financial perspective, there are two points that should have been dealt with differently.
The first of these is the sentence which ‘rejects’ the agreement reached at the Council. There would have been more appropriate ways of expressing non-acceptance of the agreement. The second is the manner in which agricultural policy is referred to. The way in which some Member States have received more significant funds from the Union budget via the CAP has hampered the progress of the European project, blocking more appropriate criteria for granting funds.
The agreement reached in the Council is a positive one for Portugal. Parliament has every right, however, to seek to start the process of fine-tuning that agreement.
In this process, there has not been any significant about-turn in budgetary methodology, the criteria for the global distribution of funds not having undergone any changes. There must be continued solidarity with the cohesion countries of the south and east. Support for greater competitiveness in Europe must not place currently less competitive economies at a disadvantage.
Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert (ALDE), in writing. To be very clear: I do not reject the European Council's common position. However, the European Parliament, as one arm of the legislative and budgetary authority, should be able to play its full parliamentary role in the definition of policies, their reform and their budget. I therefore support the willingness of this House to enter into constructive negotiations with the Council.
Kartika Tamara Liotard (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (NL) Although the Socialist Group in the European Parliament is satisfied with the reduction of the EU budget, particularly with the improvement of the Dutch payment position, we are still very critical of the way in which the remaining funds are being spent. To this day, the imbalance in the distribution of agricultural subsidies exists, funds are still being pumped around without any purpose and prestigious projects are still being promoted. That the budget agreement should be reached at the expense of the really poor Member States is indefensible.
Cecilia Malmström (ALDE), in writing. (SV) The resolution rejects the Council’s agreement on the financial perspective. I believe, however, that it is unwise of the European Parliament to reject the proposal, and I have therefore chosen to abstain from voting. The road leading to the Council’s agreement has been long and difficult, and it would have been problematic if the Council had not in the end succeeded in agreeing on the issue. Certainly, Parliament has the right of codecision on the issue and is entitled to reject the Council’s proposal, but it would be unfortunate if the long-term budget were not to materialise because of power games between the institutions. Parliament must now assume its responsibility and, together with the Council, do its best to arrive at a long-term budget.
I think it good that the Council agreed on the financial perspective and that the level of expenditure was not too high, but I am also critical of large parts of the budget. For example, the budget has the wrong profile, with too much money being spent on agriculture and regional aid.
Parliament wishes to allocate more money to important areas, but advocates an unduly high total level of expenditure and, like the Council, wishes to allocate too much money to agricultural expenditure and regional aid. I do not therefore support Parliament's position. Tough prioritising of the way in which EU resources are allocated is of crucial importance to bringing about the changes needed by Europe.
Toine Manders (ALDE), in writing. – (NL) Today, the European Parliament adopted a resolution on Europe’s multi-annual budget. I welcome the compromise which the Council achieved in December 2005 and consider this to be a good basis for further negotiations between the European Parliament and the Council.
As far as I am concerned, this does nothing to detract from the successful efforts of the Dutch Cabinet, in the person of Finance Minister Zalm. The Council’s decision to cut the Dutch contributions to the EU by one billion does not fall within Parliament’s remit, and will therefore not form part of the negotiations. Believing as I do that Europe should invest more in knowledge, innovation and entrepreneurship, I do not think that the present compromise adequately reflects them.
Furthermore, I take the view that the European Parliament, like any national parliament, should shoulder its responsibility when it comes to determining the budget. The negotiations which the European Parliament will open with the Council are similar to the debate which the Dutch Lower Chamber holds with the Cabinet in response to the Queen’s speech.
Diamanto Manolakou (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (EL) The European Council arrived at an agreement on the financial perspectives for 2007-2013, after hard bargaining as to who would give less and who would get more of the peoples' money, so that European monopolies would be able to benefit from it and improve their profitability and privileges. At the same time, it laid the foundations for the new review of the CAP and for reducing agricultural spending, which will wipe out even more small and medium-sized holdings.
The peoples' money under the financial package is being used, enhanced by 110%, to reinforce the repressive policies and the strategy of the anti-grass roots Lisbon agenda, while resources for farmers are gradually being reduced.
We MEPs of the Communist Party of Greece reject the decisions on the financial perspectives for 2007-2013, because they are to the detriment of the peoples and their rights. Nor, however, do we agree with the reasons for rejection expressed in the resolution by the European Parliament, because it comes under the philosophy of not contesting the anti-grass roots policy and militarisation of the ΕU, in that it calls for the 'competitiveness and security' of the EU to be strengthened, together with controls of spending in the Member States. This philosophy favours capitalist restructurings, harsher exploitation of the workers and the strengthening of repressive and anti-democratic mechanisms.
Luís Queiró (PPE-DE), in writing. (PT) The prime concern of all joint decision-makers is to act responsibly. The public are only too aware that the process leading to the adoption of the financial perspective in December was a complex one, which was indicative of just how difficult these negotiations can be, in particular in the circumstances in which they take place today.
As I have previously stated, the final outcome of the December summit, although it fell short of what was required and of what I had been seeking, is broadly positive and favourable to European and Portuguese interests. I therefore feel it is legitimate to seek to improve upon this agreement, whilst making sure that there is no danger that we will lose the consensus that we reached. The stakes are too high for the main concern to be in the context of the institutional balance.
José Albino Silva Peneda (PPE-DE), in writing. (PT) I voted against the Council agreement on the financial perspective, because I feel that it is symptomatic of the crisis facing Europe: it is meagre, lacking in ambition and uninspiring.
It is meagre in financial terms compared with other partner institutions, and also because the Council’s proposal is more a summary of the claims made by the different Member States than an expression of political will of any kind.
The lack of ambition can be seen in the glaring signs of inconsistency with previously adopted policies. The citizens of Europe have become increasingly frustrated with the perceived lack of efficiency of Europe’s institutions; one day, decisions are taken that are presented to the public as clear signs of progress in certain areas of interest to Europeans, and on the very next day the same Council fails to provide the financial perspective with the resources needed for these measures to be pursued.
Lastly, this agreement is wholly uninspiring, as it fails to honour commitments entered into with candidate countries Bulgaria and Romania.
This kind of attitude is what is known as hypocrisy.
Alyn Smith (Verts/ALE), in writing. The outcome of the Council meeting at dead of night in Brussels last December fails Scotland and fails Europe. It is unacceptable to the Parliament and I am pleased to support this motion to reject the deal as agreed and to start negotiations on making it better. Parliament has been instrumental in forcing the Member States, the UK being chief among them, to act reasonably, but we can still do better than the deal before us today. I think Parliament is right to hold out for a better compromise and am glad that we have passed this motion today and look forward to the negotiations.
Proinsias De Rossa (PSE), in writing. I welcome the decision of the European Parliament's Conference of Presidents to appoint 22 MEPs to a Committee of Inquiry charged with investigating the case of citizens, as many as 6 500 of whom are Irish, who were robbed of their savings due to the crisis at insurance company Equitable Life.
I support the petition which Equitable Life investors have submitted to the European Parliament's Petitions Committee. It is entirely right that their case will now be investigated fully by a European Parliament Committee of Inquiry.
The Irish Government should now appoint an investigator who will represent Irish citizens' interests in this matter and work with the European Parliament's Committee of Inquiry.
Alyn Smith (Verts/ALE), in writing. Constituents across Scotland have contacted me seeking action on Equitable Life, not just words. Today we have answered their pleas, and I am glad that Parliament has taken this decisive step when the London government has not. People had their savings and pensions plans thrown into chaos when Equitable Life collapsed, and it is right that they continue to seek answers. I look forward to working with the committee to get to the bottom of this issue.
- Resolution: RC-B6-0051/2006
Carlos Coelho (PPE-DE), in writing. (PT) In the Europe of freedom and values, it must be made perfectly clear that citizens’ rights and the primacy of the rule of law deserve complete protection.
Combating terrorism should fall into this category. Accordingly, we must not abandon our heritage and the broad international support we enjoy. What separates us from the terrorists is our profound respect for people and for all of their rights.
This temporary committee must carry out its mandate to collect and analyse any information that may prove relevant in discovering the truth behind reports, backed up by Human Rights Watch, that appeared in the Washington Post.
We must get to the truth, not only because lingering doubts feed suspicion and foment speculation, but also because under no circumstances can we allow European territory to be used for the purpose of secret detention. That would be shameful and would fly in the face of international rules on human rights, and of European rules and values.
Proinsias De Rossa (PSE), in writing. As regards the decision to establish a European Parliament Committee of Inquiry to investigate claims of secret CIA prisons and the torture of prisoners on EU soil or in countries seeking EU membership, if EU Member States or candidate countries had been involved, actively or passively, in running 'extra-judicial prisons', there would have been violations of the Charter of Fundamental Rights.
It is important that we get to the root of the matter. We must investigate without prejudice but without being blind to the possibilities. We want to know the truth, nothing more than the truth. If we do this, then we are genuinely battling against terrorism but also against torture.
Claude Moraes (PSE), in writing. I voted for the setting up of a European Parliament inquiry into allegations of CIA activity in relation to alleged abductions, 'extraordinary rendition', 'detention at secret sites', 'detention incommunicado', torture, cruelty, inhuman or degrading treatment of prisoners on the territory of the EU, including acceding and candidate countries.
It is important, in light of widespread concerns, including those in my London constituency, that the EP inquiry makes a serious effort to assess the veracity of the allegations.
Athanasios Pafilis (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (EL) In the face of the disclosures and commotion caused by the action of the CIA, with citizens being abducted, suspects moved, investigations carried out and jails in European countries, the European Parliament is trying, in setting up the Committee of Inquiry, to pull the wool over the eyes of the peoples of Europe.
It is displaying hypocritical concern about the infringement of human rights on European soil and trying to save the 'lost honour' of the ΕU. However, it is a fact that the EU itself and the governments of the Member States have concluded secret agreements with the USA, have fallen in fully with the so-called anti-terrorist strategy and are now trying to play at being surprised and innocent doves.
It insults and underestimates the peoples when the political groups in the European Parliament, whose parties are in government and have signed the agreements, make a show of protesting about their results.
The ΕU and the USA are jointly responsible for the unaccountable action by the secret services which, apart from anything else, are preparing to apply the terrorist laws to strike the grass-roots movement and unleash wars against countries and peoples.
Luís Queiró (PPE-DE), in writing. (PT) During conflict situations, especially the one in which the United States and the Allies are currently engaged, it is even more essential that our fundamental, civilised values be upheld; we need to be all the more vigilant in extreme circumstances. I therefore share the view of all those who, in Europe and the United States, have raised their voices against any abuse or violation of these values. That is my unequivocal position, and one that I have expressed on previous occasions.
That being said, with regard to the so-called ‘CIA flights’, I must express my disappointment at the way in which this debate has been conducted. It has been based largely on a conjecture, suspicion and accusation, and the word of our allies and our most esteemed political leaders of EU Member States appears to be the one that holds the least value.
Against this backdrop, I feel that the Conference of Presidents managed to reach a solution that was appropriate and, above all, balanced and suited to the role that Parliament could play on this issue. I therefore voted in favour.
Alyn Smith (Verts/ALE), in writing. The allegations that our friends and colleagues the Americans have used European airports as staging posts in flights which would be illegal under our laws are worrying in the extreme. It is right that we in the European Parliament should seek to shed light on this murky business, as this issue is of importance to all our citizens. I for my part do not believe that the Americans are guilty of half the things they stand accused of, but we will only be able to answer these allegations by getting to the truth of the matter, and I look forward to working with the Inquiry to do just that.
Luís Queiró (PPE-DE), in writing. (PT) The EU must maintain a clear and consistent position in defence of democracy, the rule of law and human rights, in relation to what ought to be, in the broadest sense, the Middle East peace process. In this particular case, the steps that have been taken in Lebanon require our effective support both in word and in deed. In practice, we need to work together on any leads that may uncover the truth behind the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri. I therefore voted in favour of the report before us. I should also like to mention the procedural issues raised by the rapporteur, which I feel are worthy of further attention.
Ilda Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) We welcome the adoption of the final report, approved by the Conciliation Committee, on the management of waste from the extractive industries, which is very much of interest to Portugal.
This new legislation will strengthen the environmental rules in a number of Member States, and impose more stringent obligations on companies to tidy sites after completing their industrial activities, and in so doing honour their responsibility to protect the environment and public health.
The inventories that must be carried out on existing situations, in order that appropriate measures can be taken, are of similar importance.
We trust that these proposals will be put into practice across the board.
Luís Queiró (PPE-DE), in writing. (PT) This directive is an important legislative text on the environment.
Following the laudable work done by both the rapporteur and Parliament’s delegation in the Conciliation Committee, I must express my backing for this report, which contains important measures that will pave the way to reducing the detrimental effects on the environment, and the risks to human health resulting from waste from the extractive industries.
I therefore voted in favour of the Sjöstedt report.
Andreas Mölzer (NI). – (DE) There are some 20 000 bathing sites in the European Union, and people have no idea of what dangerous bacteria lurk in their waters. Swimmers swallow on average some 50 millilitres of water, and children sometimes swallow ten times that amount while splashing around, so the absence of any risk of contracting an illness must be guaranteed. There are various agents that can cause illnesses ranging from nausea to skin eruptions, but also others that are potentially fatal. It is all the more encouraging, then, that the European directive has been able to improve the quality of bathing water over recent years, but it has made drastic incursions into the capacity of smaller lakes, such as those in the Austrian Alps, to regulate themselves. It follows that we can no longer rely solely on the provisions of the law, on prohibitions and investments, but must instead try to demand of the public that they cooperate actively and be aware of environmental issues.
Charlotte Cederschiöld, Christofer Fjellner, Gunnar Hökmark and Anna Ibrisagic (PPE-DE), in writing. (SV) The EU should not, of course, have a common directive governing bathing water quality. We have voted in favour of the report, since Parliament listened to our criticisms and is cutting back on the regulations we have at present. The report also vigorously rejects the proposals for further regulation that existed when Parliament debated the issue last time.
It should be pointed out that the previous proposal clearly showed how difficult it is having detailed rules that are to apply under quite different conditions. In countries with long coasts, large stretches of water, short bathing seasons, low water temperatures and sparse populations, the requirements should be different from those in countries with heavily populated beaches to which many people travel in order to bathe in warm water during long seasons. We Swedish Conservatives are pleased that we have obtained a hearing for our criticisms.
Carlos Coelho (PPE-DE), in writing. (PT) I naturally support this proposal. It is of particular importance to my country, Portugal, whose coastline covers half of national territory, which boasts a number of rivers and other waterways, and where a population of bathers enjoys water sports in increasing numbers.
This proposal represents a significant step in terms of protecting the population’s health and the environment, as the amendments on the table will bring clear improvements in terms of the understanding, monitoring and quality control of bathing water.
The text that emerged from the Conciliation Committee will plug gaps and bring up to date the regulation on bathing water currently in force.
There are now stricter requirements, such as new bacteria limit values for water to be considered of ‘sufficient’ quality, the fact that public information and participation is now mandatory and the EU-wide standardisation of signs, which will help to reduce health risks and to prevent disease and infection.
Lena Ek (ALDE), in writing. (SV) I have today chosen to vote in favour of the Conciliation Committee’s joint text for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council concerning the management of bathing water quality. I do so on the basis that this is an issue to which subsidiarity applies, by which I mean that it should be dealt with at local or regional level in this case. Bathing water is an issue that affects many Swedish municipalities that have a huge number of bathing beaches. It is therefore important for the directive not to place a burden of increased bureaucracy on the municipalities. My having, in spite of everything, voted in favour of this draft has to do with the fact that it is in many ways an improvement on the 1976 bathing water quality directive that applies today. Firstly, it is simpler and, secondly, it contains improved health and environmental requirements. A slimmer but more efficient EU needs to look at whether issues such as this should not be passed back to the Member States to be dealt with at national or local/regional level.
Ilda Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) The most important aspect of the solution that has been reached is that the 1976 directive on bathing water quality, which had been rendered out of date by developments in scientific knowledge and increased health demands, has in some aspects been brought up to date. According to the rapporteur, these amendments will result in a reduction in health risk to bathers from 12% to 7.5%.
The conciliation process was a difficult one, given the highly divergent positions involved, and the outcome was satisfactory but inadequate, particularly as regards the parameters that have now become mandatory.
The greatest gains have been made in the area of informing the public. It is hoped that up-to-date information will be made public and will be visible at the bathing sites themselves.
Duarte Freitas (PPE-DE), in writing. (PT) The text obtained in the Conciliation Committee and brought before us for the vote today contains very welcome amendments to the proposal tabled for second reading on 21 April 2005.
The fact that the proposal to remove the distinction between coastal and inland waters was not incorporated and that the category of ‘sufficient’ quality was not removed from the final text safeguards Portugal’s overriding interests in this matter, and meets the most recent WHO recommendations.
I welcome the proposed parameters for assessing bathing water quality, along with the methodology adopted for evaluating and classifying it. I am therefore in favour of the adoption of those parameters.
I feel that it will thus be possible not only to improve the environment but also to protect and better inform the citizens on the quality of the bathing water that they use.
Hélène Goudin, Nils Lundgren and Lars Wohlin (IND/DEM), in writing. (SV) This report deals with an issue that should not be on the EU’s agenda. It does not, of course, make sense to compare the status and requirements of bathing water in the Mediterranean with those of thousands of lakes in countries such as Sweden and Finland. The Bathing Water Directive is an example of how, in practice, the EU rarely applies either the principle of subsidiarity or the principle of proportionality. That is regrettable.
The proposal in which the conciliation procedure has resulted has certain advantages compared with the directive that currently applies. For example, there are fewer criteria that the Member States will have to apply. At the same time, absurd new requirements have been introduced, such as the requirement that signs identical across the EU should be introduced at bathing sites.
We are confident that the Member States are able independently to deal with issues concerning water quality at bathing sites. We are thus opposed in principle to the Bathing Water Directive and have voted against the Conciliation Committee’s compromise.
Cecilia Malmström (ALDE), in writing. (SV) I have chosen to vote in favour of the Conciliation Committee’s joint text for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council concerning the management of bathing water quality. In principle, I do not believe that bathing water quality is an issue that should be dealt with at EU level. It should be dealt with by the Member States at national or local level. I voted in favour of the draft because the proposal significantly simplifies an earlier, 1976 directive on bathing water quality. Voting in favour of this proposal is part of the fight to simplify EU legislation. It also, of course, involves changes for the better where health and the environment are concerned.
In order for the EU to be more effective and show more dynamism on the major cross-border issues, policy-making in certain areas needs to be handed over to the Member States. This is one such area, and it should be dealt with in places closer to the people.
David Martin (PSE), in writing. I voted for this report because the new fourth water quality category as introduced by the Council is maintained, and the four categories are now combined with better figures for the level of toxicology defining them. These new figures should help decrease the risks to bathers' health by improving the category levels.
Luís Queiró (PPE-DE), in writing. (PT) The agreement reached in the Conciliation Committee on the directive on the management of bathing water is based on new criteria for assessing water quality and informing the public.
Stricter rules and better information for the public are extremely important for Portugal, given the extent of the Portuguese coastline, and given the social, cultural and economic value that that coastline and its innumerable waterways bring to the country, in terms not only of tourist activities, but also of socio-cultural activities.
Every effort must be made to prevent and reduce health risks. I therefore feel that this proposal is a highly significant step towards protecting the people’s health and the environment. These amendments will lead to clear improvement in terms of the understanding, monitoring and quality control of bathing water, and will help to strike the required balance as regards the cost of introducing new quality criteria.
I therefore voted in favour of the Maaten report.
Margrietus van den Berg (PSE), in writing. The subject of this resolution, the quality of bathing water, is important, but should in my opinion, from the viewpoint of subsidiarity, be dealt with at the national level. There is no added value in regulating this subject at the European level. For this reason I vote against this resolution.
Eija-Riitta Korhola (PPE-DE), rapporteur. – (FI) Mr President, annoyingly, my speech had to end as time ran out, and I would like to remedy that. I will read what I meant to say, so that environmental organisations will not misunderstand what I said:
An example of this is the letter that came this week from the biggest environmental organisations, which gives a misleading picture of the right to access to justice that is now possibly opening up to them. They mention that industrial countries are able to institute proceedings in the Court of Justice of the European Communities, and now this legislation would only bring them to the same level. The letter fails to mention that at present the environmental organisations do by no means aspire to the same level as companies, regarding which there is a call for this decision to affect them ‘directly and individually’, in other words, as an interested party. Instead, the environmental organisations should now be able to choose, within the entire Union and ignoring criteria relating to interested parties, which area they are interested in. It was misleading that this essential detail was left unsaid.
Proinsias De Rossa (PSE), in writing. I very much welcome the draft regulation to apply the provisions of the Århus Convention to EC institutions and bodies. Citizens have a legitimate right to information and environmental justice, including from the EC.
In particular, I believe the definition of 'environmental information' set out in the proposed regulation should include information about the state of progress of proceedings against Member States for infringing EC law. All too often, the only way EU citizens can find out about the failure of their Member States to respect the commitments they have freely entered into is by monitoring Commission press releases. This is not sufficient and has to be put on a firmer footing.
Lastly, I regret the failure of the Council to reach agreement on the related draft Directive on Access to Justice, as endorsed by the EP with amendments on 31 March 2004, and I urge the Council and the Commission to redouble their efforts on this particular initiative.
Ilda Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) In our view, the amendments adopted today to the report on application of the provisions of the Aarhus Convention in the European institutions are highly significant. In the report, priority is given, firstly, to the public’s right to information on procedures for participating in the decision-making process, namely how to use those procedures, secondly, to the right of access to information; and, lastly, to access to justice in environmental matters.
Amendments have been brought in, for example, on defining priorities regarding environmental policy and public involvement in defining environmental policy. It is now compulsory to indicate clearly how information can be obtained, such as information on the state of progress of proceedings for infringement of Community law and to make information available by assessing the outcome of various consultations.
In some areas, however, it falls short of the requirements of the Convention, in particular with regard to access to justice, insofar as there are no established support mechanisms for reducing or eliminating recurring financial obstacles; indeed, access to justice is often restricted precisely because those seeking justice do not have the necessary financial resources.
Broadly speaking, however, this is an important step towards ensuring, on the one hand, effective participation, via procedures developed within a reasonable timescale, and, on the other, access to information, which will enable sound, democratic participation.
Robert Goebbels (PSE), in writing. – (FR) I voted against some of Parliament’s amendments on the application of the Århus Convention. I am obviously in favour of the public being as fully informed as possible. Yet, I do not believe that this information should lead certain NGOs repeatedly to initiate legal proceedings, when the former are still not recognised as representative. If the general interest is proven, then it must take precedence over often selfish considerations.
Hélène Goudin, Nils Lundgren and Lars Wohlin (IND/DEM), in writing. (SV) We believe that the Århus Convention constitutes a valuable legal tool for guaranteeing public access to environmental information and public participation in decision-making processes. The Convention has a constructive purpose, then. We have voted against Amendment 25. Purely as a matter of principle, we believe that lawsuits should be brought before national courts that apply current law.
Toine Manders (ALDE), in writing. – (NL) In a society that is based on democratic values, I believe that each party should be accorded the same rights. These also include equal, non-discriminatory access opportunities to justice for citizens, companies and NGOs. Article 230(4) of the Treaty already provides for this and is therefore sufficient. That is why I considered it appropriate to vote against Amendments 19, 22, 24 and 25.
Frank Vanhecke (NI). – (NL) Mr President, it was, in fact, already evident after yesterday’s debate on the liberalisation of port services, that a large majority of Members of this House were, and are, sensitive to the justified arguments put to them by the European dockworkers, which is, of course, a good thing.
We can only hope that the somewhat other-worldly European Commission does not persist in its anger and in that respect, we should not hold out too many hopes because we will, I believe, again be presented with the Bolkestein directive as early as next month.
Having said this, I take a great deal of pleasure in pointing out that, by rejecting Mr Jarzembowski’s report today, we have clearly opted for the principle of ‘jobs for our own people first’. We have protected our own national dockworkers against unfair competition from countries that apply entirely different working conditions. I am delighted that the left and the right in this House have for once put their own people first. They have for once put the fundamental interests of our own citizens above ideology. It is to be hoped that this is an example that will be followed.
Dirk Sterckx (ALDE). – (NL) Mr President, I did not reject the proposal for the port directive. In my view, we should have amended it and improved on it, for a balanced package of amendments was before us.
We could have done as the trade unions requested, and removed the self-handling clause from the directive. We could have prepared a framework for licences and contracts, for the selection of port service providers by the port authorities. We could have drafted a clear legal framework for the pilotage services. We could have drawn up clear transitional arrangements for existing licences.
A majority in this House regarded that as unnecessary, even though European port policy has been the subject of discussion for ten years now and even though we are probably familiar with all arguments by now. I am not prepared to indulge in short-term thinking and bury my head in the sand. We, politicians, have a duty to carry out our legislative work, which was not the case today. We are now passing on policy to the judges at the European Court of Justice, who will decide what the free movement of services in our ports means. Our Parliament was short-sighted today. I was of a different opinion.
Christopher Heaton-Harris (PPE-DE). – Mr President, I was the EPP rapporteur for the Internal Market Committee for the Port Services Directive, and obviously I voted to reject it - but for completely different reasons from almost everyone else in this House. This directive was a step back from the liberalisation that we have already undertaken in the United Kingdom. Whilst many in this House were burying their heads in the sand to the fact that we are now operating in a global economy and our competitors are better and quicker at doing things than us, I was concerned that this pretty pathetic proposal for a directive emanating from the last Commission, which should never have been resubmitted by the current Commission, did not go far enough.
There are many reasons why we should be aware of and concerned about our global competitors. Sticking our heads, necks and everything else into the sand, and forgetting that we are in a global market, is no way to deal with that situation.
James Hugh Allister (NI), in writing. I voted against the proposed Port Services Directive as I believe it would have serious implications for the main port in my constituency: Belfast Port. By imposing the usual 'one-size-fits-all' solution on all EU ports, the directive would subject Belfast Port, which handles 66% of Northern Ireland's seaborne trade, to unnecessary and commercially restrictive practices which would damage its economic viability.
In particular, Belfast's on-going investment programmes, crucial to the docks' future and currently being rolled out, would be adversely affected because of the need to constantly re-tender, which is not practical in securing long term infrastructure.
While it is quite right that certain markets should be open to competition, I consider it unnecessary to apply such requirements in this form to markets which are already the product of open contractual competition, such as that of cargo handling in Belfast Port.
Northern Ireland relies greatly on the maintenance of a competitive and efficient port infrastructure. In my opinion, this unnecessary directive would only stymie the development of Belfast and other ports. I therefore totally reject this proposal, whose effect would be stultifying and regressive.
Kader Arif (PSE), in writing. – (FR) With our European ports featuring among the most modern and most competitive in the world, I fail to understand the need for a directive aimed at liberalising port services in Europe.
I also fail to understand the Commission’s obstinacy in wanting to impose a law that the shipowners, the managers of European ports and, above all, the dockworkers find unsatisfactory. This is stubbornness verging on a denial of democracy, when it becomes clear that the Commission is daring to trot out the same proposal already rejected by Members of this Parliament.
By introducing self-handling, this text threatens not only the jobs of thousands of workers in European ports but also the safety and security of goods and persons, because these workers are made to compete against crews who are employed on a casual basis and who often have no professional qualifications.
By voting against this iniquitous text, I therefore wanted to assure those who champion the survival of their profession that they have my support. I call on the Commission finally to get down to work in order to ensure a high employment rate and upwards social harmonisation, instead of engaging in the systematic and shameless dismantling of our fellow citizens’ social benefits, coupled with unrestrained social dumping.
Marie-Arlette Carlotti (PSE), in writing. – (FR) The Commission wants to bring into force a directive that was already rejected three times by the European Parliament during the last legislative term. This is a denial of democracy.
There is, however, no reason to adopt this text today. It is a text that seriously threatens people’s safety and jobs.
By means of self-handling, which allows ‘novices’ to do dock work and to handle cargo, this text introduces social dumping and calls safety arrangements into question.
Out of all those groups working in the ports, not one is satisfied with this text: not the shipowners, not the pilots and not the boatmen.
Why, then, if not in the name of free enterprise, do we want to turn our ports into supermarkets by selling off the port structures to the private sector?
European ports are competitive, and if we were to make laws, they would relate to maritime safety, the safety of the straits, spatial planning and the very high concentration of crews in the North Sea to the detriment of the Mediterranean Sea.
The Commission proposal does not meet the current requirement of our ports. It must be rejected.
This month, it is the port services directive and, next month, it will be the ‘Bolkestein’ Directive. When are we going to listen to what Europeans have to say?
Richard Corbett (PSE), in writing. I voted against this proposed directive and I welcome its rejection by Parliament. This rejection shows that the system of checks and balances in the EU’s institutional system actually works. Without the existence of the elected European Parliament, there would have been a real danger that, if left to their own devices, the Commission and national ministers in the Council would have adopted this undesirable piece of legislation.
Paolo Costa (ALDE), in writing. The ALDE Group believes that port services must be covered by a Community legislative framework which takes account of their particular conditions. Such a framework should allow fair access between the suppliers of services to port activities and would represent an essential asset for the development of the ports. It would also be an opportune moment to consider the role of the port authority or the operating methods of the port.
In addition, a very clear clarification of the conditions of attribution of State aid must be carried out in order to guarantee transparent and fair competition between ports.
In the absence of such a framework, the Treaty would be applied on a case-by-case basis, which would lead to a situation where the disputes would be resolved in the courts – a de facto government by judges – and where the two legislative arms of the European Union would be left aside.
The European Commission proposal was not sufficiently complete or clear to gain the support of the European Parliament without substantial amendment.
Following the rejection of this proposal, and for all these reasons, ALDE urges the European Commission to conduct a comprehensive consultation process with ...
(Abbreviated in accordance with Rule 163(1) of the Rules of Procedure)
Manuel António dos Santos (PSE), in writing. (PT) The EU can only develop and establish itself if it is based on values such as solidarity, non-violence, law and order and the resolute promotion of public non-violence.
Parliament’s discussion on the directive on market access to port services took place in an atmosphere loaded with undue pressure and violence, leading to material damage and injuries to people which can never be justified.
Those responsible for breaking the law and disturbing the peace must not derive any benefit from their actions.
Consequently, regardless of the intrinsic value of the issues addressed in this directive and the balance of social interests that was reached, I opted to abstain.
Edite Estrela and Emanuel Jardim Fernandes (PSE) , in writing. (PT) We voted to reject the proposal for a directive because we believe that the unbridled liberalisation of access to the public services market will create serious public health and safety problems, and will hinder the guaranteed provision and sustainability of the service – a public service, let us not forget – thereby leading to a reduction in the efficiency of that service.
Three years after the Commission’s first proposal in this area, which was rejected at the time, we find ourselves once again debating a proposal for a resolution that was voted down in the Committee concerned, a vote that sends a clear message to Parliament: any text capable of creating a series of legal inconsistencies with the existing international legal framework and with current Community law – for example Regulation (EEC) No 1191/69 concerning the obligations inherent in the concept of a public service – and of leading to the complete deregulation of auto-handling services cannot be deemed positive.
This message actually goes further, and clearly demonstrates that a proposal applicable to substantially different ports, in which forced liberalisation is liable to lead to economically damaging monopolies and, lastly, a proposal with terrible social consequences cannot realistically be accepted by representatives of the people of Europe.
Bruno Gollnisch (NI), in writing. – (FR) The European Commission’s directive on the liberalisation of port services is nothing more and nothing less that a Bolkestein directive applied to the ports. It has come back to this Assembly, even though it had been rejected in its previous - almost identical - form a few months ago. Like the Bolkestein Directive, this text engineers social dumping on the very territory of the Union, threatens jobs and provides no guarantees whatsoever: not in terms of competitiveness, of growth, of efficiency or of safety. This is nothing more than a ‘liberalisation’ exercise in the name of a form of competition that is viewed as sacrosanct, with no regard for the actual consequences.
There is no doubt that European ports are not as competitive as we would like them to be. There is no doubt that we need to relieve the congestion on land routes. There is no doubt that a great deal could be said about certain trade union monopolies and their corrupt practices. Yet, it is not by destroying jobs, by proposing ideological texts devoid of impact studies or by opening up our economies to unfair international competition that you will resolve these problems.
Our main aim has to be one of defending the European jobs of European workers and, for us in the Front National, one of defending the French jobs of French workers. Our decision to reject the text is final.
Hélène Goudin, Nils Lundgren and Lars Wohlin (IND/DEM), in writing. (SV) The Port Services Directive constitutes an example of superfluous EU legislation. We voted against the report and recommend that the Commission’s proposal be rejected. We chose to support those amendments aimed at limiting the scope of the directive. We thus voted in favour of proposals whereby pilotage services and self-handling are to be excluded from the scope of the directive. We are critical of the Port Services Directive for a number of reasons.
– The Port Services Directive takes no account of the principles either of subsidiarity or of proportionality. Political decisions on pilotage, unloading and self-handling must be taken at national level.
– Under the proposal for a directive, employees doing the same jobs can belong to different union organisations. This paves the way for stoppages and militates against peaceful and orderly relations within the industry.
– The Port Services Directive will scarcely promote competition. Ports are companies that compete with one another. The Port Services Directive is an attempt to force them to accept a situation in which other companies are able to take over parts of their business against their will. That is absurd. No one would come up with the idea of forcing Volvo to accept subcontractors they do not want.
Competition between port companies is a good thing and leads to more efficient solutions. If a large-scale enterprise in another industry is not efficient and customer-friendly, it is driven out of business. That is also the way things work in the companies constituted by European ports.
Louis Grech (PSE), in writing. – (MT) This is a directive which imposes regulations and controls which are neither necessary nor wanted.
The directive, as proposed, endangers the livelihood of port workers in many countries among them Malta. This is fundamental for us. As drafted, this directive brings with it a lower quality of services, lower levels of safety and more threats to investments which have been made or which are still to be made aimed at improving the infrastructure in a number of ports.
Contrary to what is being said by members of the Commission, this directive will neither create new markets, nor make competition more just and much less will it create new opportunities for workers. On the contrary this will affect negatively not only those who work in ports but also other sectors of the economy.
We have to understand that with the enlargement of the European Union, diversity of Member States has increased and so one must be careful that when we legislate we do not put all countries in the same boat and assume that what counts for one country, counts for all.
Therefore in solidarity with workers in Malta as well as in many other countries, I am voting against this directive which creates disadvantages for workers and which ultimately creates more problems than it solves.
Françoise Grossetête (PPE-DE), in writing. – (FR) I voted against rejecting the text. In fact, I should have liked the opportunity to give my verdict on the amended text.
The proposed amendments would have enabled us to help European ports meet the needs of international competition.
The emotion of the moment has prevailed over the future of our ports.
I should like to highlight the unacceptable attitude of the dockworkers. We would never have seen a national parliament attacked like the European Parliament was attacked yesterday. By throwing paving stones, steel bars and the like, the dockworkers laid the blame on Parliament, when Parliament is the institution in Europe that does the most to defend workers.
I therefore condemn their ploys. While I share their concerns on some points, I will never give in to violence used as a pressure tactic. It is a question here of an attack on democracy.
Yes, it is inconceivable that unqualified personnel should work in our ports. However, we cannot constantly go on about economic development, competitiveness and social progress if we do not provide ourselves with the resources to take action in these areas. It is imperative that we offer the ports in Hamburg, Marseille and Antwerp services that are at least as attractive as those offered in Asian ports. Their survival depends on our doing so.
Pedro Guerreiro (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) Our proposal to reject the directive on port services has, I am pleased to say, been adopted.
For the second time, attempts to liberalise port services have been defeated, following a significant mobilisation of the workers in the sector, who, from the very outset, have fought against this new onslaught on jobs with rights. This had also been an attempt to put this sector, which is so important to national development, in the hands of the major shipowners, thereby driving the two sides even further apart.
We must remain alive, however, to any fresh attempts at EU level to table again a proposal that has now been rejected twice. Any attempts at privatising port services, via the inclusion of the sector in the unacceptable proposal for a directive on the internal services market, or by stealth via the re-submission of the proposals on intra-Community shipping, must be resolutely combated.
As the workers have emphasised, there is no justification for a Community directive on the sector.
At this time, the victory for the port services workers must be saluted. This is a victory that forms part of the workers’ struggle in different countries against the EU’s neoliberal policies, which pander to the interests of the major economic and financial groups, attack workers’ rights, and undermine the national public sector and services.
Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert (ALDE), in writing. Port services must be covered by a legislative framework taking into account their specificity. A Community framework would allow equitable access to port activities. Furthermore an integrated policy is necessary to facilitate the development of European ports. It would also be the opportune moment for due consideration of the role of the managing body of the port as well as the operating methods of the port.
In addition, very clear clarification on State aid rules is essential in order to guarantee transparent and fair competition between European ports. Decisions on a case-by-case basis, which would lead to a 'Gouvernement des juges', where the two legislative bodies of the European Union are left aside, are not acceptable.
The European Commission's proposal was not sufficiently complete to gain support. Following the rejection of this proposal, and for all reasons mentioned, I urge the European Commission to enter into a vast consultation process with all parties concerned, also giving voice to those parties neglected until now and representing the demand side, and to propose an ambitious white paper on European seaports policy in its entirety, and this at the earliest possible opportunity.
Ian Hudghton (Verts/ALE), in writing. I voted against the report and against the directive just as I had done the first time this proposal came before us. Port owners and managers did not want the Directive. Employees and trade unions did not want it.
I am pleased that MEPs have once again rejected the proposal and I hope that this time the Commission will listen to our democratic voice, not attempt to reintroduce their unwelcome plans.
Anne E. Jensen (ALDE), in writing. (DA) The Danish Liberal Party’s Members of the European Parliament voted in favour of the first amendment, recommending rejection of the Commission’s proposal, as it is impossible to bring about a satisfactory outcome in the light of that proposal. There is a need for a port services directive, but not in the form proposed by the Commission. The process of obtaining legislation in this area must be started afresh.
Carl Lang (NI), in writing. – (FR) Job cuts, wage dumping and social dumping and the lowering of safety standards and professional qualifications: this is what the European Commission is proposing to us in its third version of the directive on the liberalisation of port services.
The thousands of dockworkers throughout Europe who demonstrated in November 2003 to denounce these wrongdoings will not have been enough to make people see sense. The anti-national and anti-social ultraliberalism sanctified by the Commission admits of no exceptions: on the model of the approach to the draft European Constitution, rejected by France and the Netherlands in referenda, there is a still an omnipresent desire in Brussels to put this port services directive back on the European agenda.
A true ‘little sister’ of the Bolkestein Directive, the directive on the liberalisation of port services has the sole aim of allowing employees to be pitted against one another through the use of foreign, under-qualified labour on board ships that all too often sail under a flag of convenience, and this to the detriment of national workers.
Having attacked our public services and our textile, coal and iron and steel industries, these Taliban of free trade are now, therefore, attacking port workers by seeking to impose their anti-national philosophy, which consists of giving preference to foreign workers in the job market. As always, the Front National, for its part, is in favour of defending French jobs.
Marine Le Pen (NI), in writing. – (FR) What the Commission is proposing to us with this directive on the liberalisation of port services are nothing more or less than ports of convenience. We want nothing to do with these, any more than we do with flags of convenience whereby unscrupulous shipowners take on poorly trained and underpaid labour.
The liberalisation at any price desired by Brussels in this area is synonymous with unemployment and social destitution. In the name of its ultraliberal and anti-national ideology, the Commission is notifying us of a reduction in costs to the detriment of security, employment and the quality of services. Demolishing the monopoly enjoyed by dockworkers will lead not only to yet another graveyard of society but will lead to insecurity in European ports and will ultimately make them less competitive.
In November 2003, thanks to the terrific mobilisation of dockworkers and port agents from the whole of Europe, this ‘Bolkestein Mark Two’ directive was derailed, and an unjustly stigmatised profession thereby prevented from being opened up for the benefit of under-qualified workers from the developing countries.
Once again, it is the preference for employing foreigners that is endorsed and, with it, the end of professionalism, skills, traditions and social benefits.
Fernand Le Rachinel (NI), in writing. – (FR) If there is one subject that awakens passions within the European institutions and provokes reactions in the Member States, it is the liberalisation of port services. In 2003, the European Commission achieved the feat of getting thousands of basically French, British, German, Belgian and Dutch dockworkers onto the streets in order to demonstrate, sometimes violently, against a draft directive that would jeopardise their status and lead inevitably to large job losses in their profession.
Indeed, the most controversial aspect was that of self-handling, that is to say the opportunity for a shipowner, using his own staff and equipment, to take care himself of certain port services that, until now, had been the preserve only of dockworkers.
The document proposed to us today has not abandoned the principle of self-handling, thereby leaving the door wide open for anyone to engage in the activities of dock work, pilotage, towage and mooring and for unscrupulous shipowners operating coffin ships to use under-qualified and underpaid staff.
Whatever the objective pursued, Europe must not be constructed in a way that is to the detriment of safety standards and standards of professional qualification. From the comfort of their ivory tower, our European leaders are, once again, going to have to try and come up with something better, or else shelve their proposal.
Jörg Leichtfried (PSE), in writing. (DE) I find it utterly incomprehensible how the European Commission, scarcely a year after the failure of its first proposal for a directive on market access for port services just before the end of its term of office on 13 October 2004, can put forward a new proposal for a directive that not only contains drastically more stringent provisions but also retains the same core rules that were the downfall of its predecessor. I believe that the proposed directive represents a departure from the hitherto accepted model for European competition policy, which was about ensuring workable competition, and according to which regulatory interventions in a market or in individual market segments can be justified only if structural market conditions or attempts by participants in the market to restrict competition are interfering with economic efficiency.
I am relieved at the outcome that has resulted from this debate, as also at the evident effect of the extensive protests (although I do of course condemn most forcefully the outrages perpetrated in Strasbourg), for the proposed directive constitutes an intervention in competition for loading services in ports, although no action is required on the basis of the market’s structure, the way it operates or the results obtained from it.
David Martin (PSE), in writing. I voted to reject the Port Services Directive as I believe that Member States should regulate the internal workings of their own ports, provided that they are in line with European competition and state aid laws.
Jean-Claude Martinez (NI), in writing. – (FR) The tidal wave of ultraliberalism and unbridled free trade had, for 20 years, been breaking destructively over our coalmines and steelworks and over those industries of ours whose products included textiles, leather, machine tools, electrical goods and motor vehicles. It laid waste our fishing ports, our farms - including our sheep, cattle and poultry farms - our vineyards in the Languedoc-Roussillon region, our banana plantations in the West Indies and our plantations in Réunion, leaving women and men, including our countries’ workers of both sexes, suddenly without social protection. When the wave finally came to grief, it was in its encounter with the will of the French people, expressed in the referendum of 29 May 2005.
The people do not want to see our forms of social protection dismantled any further. Nor do they want any longer to see preference given to the base exploitation of foreign ‘workers’ by the Bolkestein directive and its younger sister, the Directive on Port Services.
This Wednesday, 18 January 2006, the Front National’s MEPs have secured a parliamentary majority for refusing, for the second time, to allow European dockworkers, port pilots or any of our personnel responsible for stowage and other dock work to be sacrificed in Europe for the sole benefit of the multinationals that hold sway over maritime freight.
Seán Ó Neachtain (UEN), in writing. With regard to the Commission text on the table, I share the concerns of many Irish stakeholders who made submissions to the Irish government, and which are also shared by many fellow Member States. The principal concern is that the Commission is proposing legal requirements which could adversely impact on the essential commercial and trading remit of the major ports covered by the proposed directive. Therefore, the workability of the Commission proposal for mandatory licensing of all internal port activities is questionable.
As regards Irish seaports, governmental research (Sea Ports High Level Review) has shown there to be strong competition in the market for services internal to ports. Indeed, the landlord model is working to great effect in major ports where it is the common standard that internal services are provided on a competitive basis, with no single dominant operator. This has been important in facilitating private sector involvement in port service provision.
The research also highlighted high levels of competition on and between Irish Sea routes. As an island, enhanced competition between ports is also vital, but future attempts at achieving European port policy must have the support of the port sector.
Dimitrios Papadimoulis (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (EL) I voted against the report on the liberalisation of port services because, instead of strengthening the transparency of investments and state aid, it focuses on strengthening competition between European ports. Through a system of invitations to tender, private companies will be able to use their own crews in ports, while permanent dockworkers will lose their jobs. The ‘self-handling’ proposal is absolutely unacceptable.
There is already sufficient competition in our ports which, it should be noted, are also among the cheapest in the world. Further price reductions and increased competition will have negative consequences both on safety measures and on environmental protection.
Peter Skinner (PSE), in writing. I voted against the report because there are provisions which affect the commercial activities of ports in a detrimental fashion and which also affect the health and safety issues of workers at ports.
I am not satisfied that these issues have been dealt with.
Alyn Smith (Verts/ALE), in writing. This package has been roundly rejected by ports, unions and other bodies across Scotland. As a maritime nation we already have efficient port services and the competition model the Commission seeks to create in this package is not suitable to Scotland's needs nor, I believe, to those of Europe as a whole. The protests we saw at the beginning of this week were marred by the disgraceful violence of a minority, but the irony is that they were protesting in front of the one EU institution which supports their cause. I am glad that we have today sent the Commission home to think again, and hope that the Commission will now accept our view on this matter.
Dominique Vlasto (PPE-DE), in writing. – (FR) I voted in favour of referring the document back to Parliament’s Committee on Transport and Tourism. This would have enabled more thought to be given to the document, with new amendments being added, have permitted a variety of professionals (shipowners, pilots, boatmen, towage workers and dockworkers) to be consulted again and have allowed the European Commission to be asked to withdraw the text, and all this in an atmosphere of calm.
I voted against rejecting the proposal for a directive, firstly because the proposal, with its proposed amendments, would have constituted a sound basis for Parliament’s work, this being only the first reading. Many professionals want to see a regulatory framework, and we need European rules in the interests of fair competition and in order to favour investment in ports and establish legal certainty in this sector.
Nor did I want to echo the position of the Left which, in rejecting the text, has caused amendments to be rejected which would have provided guarantees in terms of maritime safety, training and social standards.
Finally, I refuse to yield to the pressure exercised by the dockworkers, whose demonstration on Monday was unacceptable, involving, as it did, injuries to at least 12 people and damage to the tune of EUR 300 000 in Strasbourg. I genuinely regret that it can today be said that MEPs gave in, faced with the dockworkers.
Corien Wortmann-Kool (PPE-DE) , in writing. (NL) I have voted in favour of rejecting the directive because we had only been given the option of voting for or against the original Commission proposal. This proposal for a new Port Directive leaves a great deal to be desired in many areas. Although Mr Jarzembowski had produced a substantial and sound package of amendment proposals, there was insufficient support for them. As we have no choice but to carry on with the discussion on a European port policy in the broad sense of the word, I have urged the Commissioner to come up with a discussion document that we can – it is to be hoped – get our teeth into.
Karin Scheele (PSE). – (DE) Mr President, I was with the delegation that went to the Afghan elections in September, and even then we were saying that the large amounts of money that the European Union, among others, was investing in development cooperation in Afghanistan meant that a special parliamentary delegation would be necessary, and I think it extremely important that we have, by our resolution today, provided for one. One of the tasks that I believe this group of Members will have will be to monitor the European Union’s political objectives in Afghanistan, above all else developments in the field of human rights and women’s rights.
Hélène Goudin, Nils Lundgren and Lars Wohlin (IND/DEM), in writing. (SV) We support Afghanistan’s development towards peace, stability and democracy following the fall of the Taliban regime. However, we view the EU’s ever more prominent military role in the country with concern.
Afghanistan is not in the immediate vicinity of the EU. Nor, therefore, is it the EU’s task to station troops there. Rather, that is the task of individual countries or defence organisations acting on a mandate from the United Nations, which should be given a better basis for taking military action in trouble spots around the world.
In view of the above, we are abstaining from voting in the final vote on the resolution, but we support the proposals concerning the protection of human rights.
Tobias Pflüger (GUE/NGL), in writing. (DE) The most shocking thing about this House’s Joint Resolution on Afghanistan is that it contains not one word of criticism of the West’s military operations. Instead, it endorses the NATO ‘International Security Assistance Force’ (ISAF) operation and the so-called ‘war on terror’ in the shape of ‘Operation Enduring Freedom’ (OEF). It is far from enough that the Greens should call merely for the separation of ISAF and OEF’s command structures, for, in their operations on the ground, ISAF and OEF are inseparable.
The extension of ISAF’s mission into southern Afghanistan, into what is more evidently a war zone, with the consequent deeper involvement in the war, will make matters worse. The substantial European troop presence in Afghanistan will have the effect of relieving the pressure on the US troops and hence on the occupying forces in Iraq.
It is also necessary to close down the military bases that make an armed presence in Afghanistan possible in the first place, especially the German military base at Termez in Uzbekistan, through which pass all the troops sent to be stationed in Afghanistan. What makes the collaboration with Uzbekistan such a scandal is the fact that the country is under the rule of an authoritarian regime, one that, in particular, bears responsibility for the Andijan massacre. The closure of the forces bases in Afghanistan is also long overdue by reason of the latest offence against international law, the bombing of a village in Pakistan by CIA units.
Luís Queiró (PPE-DE), in writing. (PT) The purpose of this explanation of vote is to say that I share Parliament’s satisfaction, in broad terms, with the process of democratisation in recent years. Long gone are the days of the Taliban regime, with its horrific abuses and its breaches of the most basic rules and principles of human rights. Much remains to be done, but today’s Afghanistan is, most assuredly, a better place than it has been for a number of decades.
This expression of satisfaction must not cover over two points. On the one hand, as previous speakers have mentioned, there is a great deal still to be done at various levels in Afghanistan. On the other hand, the international community, and not least the EU and its Member States, must continue to provide practical support, both material and human, aware as we are that this is a time-consuming, yet, as we have seen, encouraging process.
Esko Seppänen and Jonas Sjöstedt (GUE/NGL), in writing. We have abstained in the final vote on the Afghanistan resolution.
We were against the United States-led invasion of Afghanistan and we demand the withdrawal of the United States-led coalition forces.
We believe that the ISAF forces should be formed by countries which have not been involved in the United States coalition forces, and mainly formed by Muslim countries, in order to facilitate communication with and understanding of the Afghan people.
The ISAF peacekeeping forces should be under the direct command of the United Nations, independent of NATO.
But in the resolution we also note several important points on the need to develop democracy, the living standards of the people and gender equality, as well as the need for a stronger regime of development aid to Afghanistan.
The conclusion for us is therefore to abstain in the final vote.
Eija-Riitta Korhola (PPE-DE). – (FI) Mr President, I am absolutely opposed to discrimination against homosexuals. I nevertheless regret that the report’s title was so completely unsatisfactory and that on some points it was necessary to abstain.
If we are to speak here about a real problem, that of discrimination, why on earth use a word like homophobia, which is a totally inappropriate word used in psychology? Phobias are different kinds of anxieties. They are fears which are considered to be neurotic disorders. Therapy is needed to help them: they cannot be treated through political control, no more than claustrophobia or arachnophobia can. Real phobias often develop as a result of something that happened in childhood, and there may be a very good reason for them. I am worried that if we start putting people on trial here for their feelings or phobias, it will only result in one new form of discrimination and manipulation.
Romano Maria La Russa (UEN). – (IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, I deplore the methods used to arrive at the drafting of the joint resolution. I consider it unacceptable that the talks were shamefully held in private, without the involvement of the group that I represent. I am well aware, of course, that all the political groups are equal, but evidently some are more ‘equal’ than others.
My group firmly believes that there should be no room in a democracy for injustices or discrimination on the grounds of gender, race or religion. I have, however, felt it necessary to reject a resolution that is not mine and which, above all, contains paragraphs that in my view are inconsistent with the purpose of the document itself.
I read that homosexuals should be fully recognised as victims of the Nazi regime: of course they were! Does that mean, however, that other persecutions were perhaps less serious? Are we forgetting the cruelty they suffered under Communist regimes, and under others too? Given that the freedom to express one’s own sexuality has to be guaranteed, I believe that it should always be exercised with respect for the values and principles that set our society apart.
The family has always meant a father and a mother, a man and a woman, and I do not believe that the European Union, by promoting campaigns against hypothetical discrimination, can give itself the right to ride roughshod over national governments just to endorse the wishes of certain not exactly worthy lobbying groups. The European Union cannot act on matters of values, culture and the family as if it were dealing with the single market, asking the Member States to legalise homosexual unions for the sake of uniformity and a misplaced duty to protect people’s rights; instead, it would be running the risk of undermining the system of values that lies at the heart of our age-old society.
Francesco Enrico Speroni (IND/DEM). – (IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, I voted against the resolution, and on this subject I have to agree with Minister Tremaglia, who once said that ‘poofs’, or at least those who support them, are in the majority in Europe.
Nevertheless, all lovers of political correctness – and I am proud not to be one of them – should also think about linguistic correctness: ‘homophobia’ is the opposite of ‘xenophobia’. The European Parliament does not accept xenophobes and it does not accept homophobes: what, then, should a person be?
Jean-Pierre Audy (PPE-DE), in writing. – (FR) I voted against the motion for a resolution on homophobia in Europe because I think it reductionist to treat the fight against homophobia as being, principally, a fight against forms of discrimination based on sexual orientation. This confusion between homophobia, the definition of which is ‘fear of what is the same’, and an aversion to homosexuality is a source of misunderstandings. Setting aside issues relating to marriage and children, in relation to which political reflection and the demands of society deserve parallel periods in which to come to fruition, I am naturally in favour of combating all forms of discrimination based on sexual orientation, but I consider that, on the one hand, the issue of human beings being treated unequally and, on the other, fear of people similar to ourselves deserve better than this resolution.
Johannes Blokland (IND/DEM), in writing. – (NL) Whilst the Dutch delegation within the Independence and Democracy Group will support the resolution on homophobia tabled by the Union for Europe of the Nations Group, it will not support those tabled by the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) and European Democrats, the Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe, the Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance and the Confederal Group of the European United Left/Nordic Green Left, or, indeed, the common draft resolution on homophobia in the European Union.
The Dutch delegation is able to endorse the resolution by the UEN Group, because only in that resolution is it clearly stated that policy measures in the area of discrimination fall within the remit of the Member States. The principle of subsidiarity must be applied here.
Furthermore, we would like to say that we condemn the incitement of hatred against homosexuals and violence inflicted on people on the basis of their sexual orientation.
We believe that the enactment of policies intended to prevent discrimination on the grounds of religion, race or sexual orientation is a matter for the Member States. The resolutions of the different groups overlook this principle by directing their attention to the political situation in a number of Member States.
Marie-Arlette Carlotti (PSE), in writing. – (FR) European countries seem to be victims of an infectious homophobia that is cause for concern.
It is a homophobia all the more shocking because people no longer appear to have any hang-ups about it and because it is everywhere rife, expressed in verbal or physical violence, the persistence of discrimination and the introduction of new legislation (for example, the Latvian Parliament has tabled an amendment to the Latvian Constitution to prohibit marriages between persons of the same sex).
Whether in disguise or taken for granted, homophobia has no place in the European Union.
Non-discrimination is guaranteed in the texts (the Treaties, the European Convention on Human Rights and the Charter of Fundamental Rights).
It ought to be so in actual practice.
Moreover, it is very much to the credit of this European Parliament always to have been in the vanguard of this fight. It has committed itself to promoting people’s rights and lessening discrimination (February 1994, September 1996, July 2001 and June 2005).
It must do so again today.
That is the ambition behind this resolution, which is unambiguous in condemning discrimination in all its forms. It relies on the will to bring about change, demanding that the arsenal of anti-discrimination measures be supplemented on the basis of Article 13 of the Treaty and that a communication be issued on the obstacles to the freedom of movement of homosexual couples whose partnerships are legally recognised in the EU.
It is a clear and necessary political signal. I shall vote in favour of it with determination and conviction.
Jean Lambert (Verts/ALE), in writing. I welcome today's vote on this issue, and especially Parliament's overwhelming commitment to treating same-sex partners with equality of respect.
I very much regret Parliament's unwillingness to say what is going on within our own Member States. We know that what Parliament says and does affects public perceptions.
Recent events and statements in Poland and parliamentary debates in Latvia and Lithuania have been shameful in my view. Some of the debates have amounted to hate speak. This sort of behaviour runs counter to Council of Europe Conventions and EU Treaties, so the European Parliament should be brave enough to speak out and confront this.
Luís Queiró (PPE-DE), in writing. (PT) I share the concern expressed in this motion for a resolution, in common with others previously discussed here in Parliament, with specific regard to a number of principles with which I identify and which I advocate. All forms of hate should be rejected; all forms of discrimination by the law should be combated.
In this resolution, however, there is a range of proposals which I believe go beyond what I feel should be Parliament’s scope and which, to my mind, impinge upon what should be the scope of individual countries. There is a trend among certain political groups, with which I have no truck whatsoever, to try to adopt what has been rejected in their home Member States in the EU’s institutions. I object to this.
Lastly, I should like to point out that phobias, as the manifestation of behavioural problems, cannot be combated in legislation nor at parliamentary level.
José Ribeiro e Castro (PPE-DE), in writing. (PT) We are all opposed to all forms of discrimination and violence. Unequivocally, there can be no exception to respect that is due.
That being said, the free and democratic debate taking place in Member States on their own civil legislation, on laws relating to the family or regarding personal status, must not be confused with ‘homophobia’. This would be tantamount to creating an atmosphere of undue intellectual pressure and restriction, totally at variance with an open democratic society. Opposing views must not be confused with ‘homophobia’. It is wrong to foster or invent feelings of hate and intolerance. To classify differences as ‘phobias’ is in itself an example of extremism.
Much of this resolution does not in fact tally with the definition of ‘homophobia’ as it appears in Recital A, which means that it loses all relevance and meaning.
Furthermore, there are several parts that run counter to the principle of subsidiarity, a guiding principle and cornerstone of the entire Union, which would only serve to undermine the European project.
This is why I voted against.
Anna Záborská (PPE-DE), in writing. – (FR) Homophobia means ‘fear of those who resemble us’. There is nothing pejorative or malicious about the term. A phobia is a neurosis characterised by extreme anxiety in the presence of the source of distress, and it requires suitable treatment in the form of deconditioning, analysis and the use of drugs. I voted against this resolution, which does not deal with homophobia.
Any form of violence against anyone is to be condemned. There are no different categories of citizens. The right to life, liberty and security, together with respect for human dignity, apply to all human beings. These rights are guaranteed under law.
The right to respect for private and family life and to freedom of thought, conscience and religion are fundamental rights protected by the international treaties. The Member States must respect the right to marriage, which stipulates that, as from marriageable age, a man and a woman are entitled to marry and to start a family in accordance with the national laws governing the exercise of this right.
The European Union has no competence in these areas and cannot judge the constitutions and national laws of its Member States which, having all signed the European Convention on Human Rights, are accountable in the matter of such rights to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.
Eija-Riitta Korhola (PPE-DE). – (FI) Mr President, I was one of those involved in drafting the resolution on climate and who attended the Montreal Summit. I cannot consider the result achieved at the Montreal Summit to be anywhere near as favourable as we, in the name of political correctness, now feel obliged to say it was here. Only one quarter of all emissions will be covered by the obligations to cut them, and I therefore think it is somewhat intellectually dishonest to speak of achievements. Sooner or later the EU will have to end all this sweet talk and face facts. If three quarters of the world’s producers of greenhouse gases are allowed to continue to increase their emissions, it will be time for us to say that this solution has failed and to start to take some other form of political action on climate. Will it be a matter of political pride, however, if we are unable to admit such a thing?
Ilda Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) We broadly welcome the resolution tabled as a follow-up to the 11th Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change held in Montreal, as it underlines the desire of the parties to honour the Kyoto Protocol and regrets the continued reluctance of the US administration to join any significant partnership on climate change.
We are opposed to some points in the final resolution and regret that our proposals were not adopted. We were especially disappointed at the rejection of the proposal to which we put our name calling for an urgent review of the relevant flexible mechanisms before the Community emission trading scheme can be extended to other areas, such as aviation. We believe that this extension must undergo an analysis demonstrating that it will help to combat climate change and that there will not be any bias in favour of wealthier countries and regions over developing countries and industries.
We also object to the emphasis on the trade in rights to pollute, even in respect of an assessment.
Hélène Goudin, Nils Lundgren and Lars Wohlin (IND/DEM), in writing. (SV) Global climate change constitutes a significant problem that there are good reasons for dealing with at international level. The June List would, however, reiterate the position it put forward earlier, namely that the European Parliament should not take over the Member States’ foreign policies by calling on third countries that have not yet ratified the Kyoto Protocol to do so. Individual national governments can make appeals of this type independently. We also believe that the Member States should be able to adopt their own positions in connection with negotiations on international climate issues. We presume, however, that agreements entered into will be observed by all the parties.
We are critical of the proposal to set up a communication strategy at EU level to inform people about climate issues. EU cooperation is based on the Member States having confidence in one another. We are convinced that individual Member States can successfully take the measures required for giving the general public access to appropriate information on climate issues. The position we are expressing through this explanation of vote constitutes the attitude we adopt on principle regarding this issue. The explanation of vote thus applies to future matters of a similar kind.
Andreas Mölzer (NI), in writing. (DE) The Cree Indians have a saying to the effect that it is only when the last tree has been uprooted, the last river poisoned, and the last fish caught, that man will discover that he cannot eat money. It could well soon come true.
For all too long have we heedlessly tampered with nature’s delicate framework. Only now have we started to give more attention to the protection of the environment and set in motion the first and vital joint projects aimed at saving it. We will, though, have to redouble our efforts.
The fact is that we are slowly but surely turning our backs on the Gulf Stream, our natural source of heating, and, every day, as we do so, ocean currents altered by global warming are robbing us of some 86 million tonnes of arable soil, some 225 000 more human beings are being born, and desertification proceeds at a headlong and ever-faster rate. Europe is threatened by the most devastating change in its climate for a good 5 000 years. With ice melting to the north of it, and deserts spreading out to the south, with, at the same time, enormous ‘reserves’ of carbon dioxide accumulating in the permafrost and the tundra, things will become pretty uncongenial in the foreseeable future.
Various experts have worked out an immense range of possible solutions, which languish in their desk drawers; the time has come for us to give our closer attention to them and to their implementation, and, at long last, to work together towards a common goal.
Jens-Peter Bonde (IND/DEM), in writing. (DA) The June Movement has voted in favour of paragraph 45 of the report on the environmental aspects of sustainable development, but wants minimal directives to be used in introducing ecotaxes at Community level so that more far-reaching requirements might be laid down in the individual Member States.
‘Supports the introduction of ecotaxes at Community level; stresses that, like the other market instruments, they are an essential tool for an effective pollution reduction policy; calls on the Commission to make proposals and the Member States to adopt the first European ecotax by 2009 at the latest;’
Ilda Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) We voted in favour of the report before us, which seeks to assess the environmental aspects of sustainable development and offers some criticisms of the Commission’s position, with regard to the inadequacy of certain directives and the scarcity of financial resources.
Although it does not specifically tackle the policies that lie at the root of environmental problems, such as the emphasis on competitiveness at the expense of people and the environment, with the profit motive always to the fore, there are positive points, such as the promotion of less polluting forms of transport, the role of territorial and forestry planning and the need to ensure food supplies.
We also welcome the connection that it makes between poverty and the environment, although it is appalling that the most important aspects in this field, namely that liberalisation is not the answer to poverty and social exclusion, were rejected in plenary. The criticisms of the inadequacy of the proposals in the fight against poverty, social exclusion and increasing inequality were similarly rejected.
Hélène Goudin, Nils Lundgren and Lars Wohlin (IND/DEM), in writing. (SV) This report deals with a list of significant issues within the area of sustainable development. The June List believes that there are good reasons for EU cooperation on cross-border environmental issues. However, the report addresses a number of crucial political areas that should lie outside the EU’s competence. The following are examples:
– the investment to be made in public transport or, as the case may be, the development of road networks in the Member States;
– debt cancellation for developing countries;
– environmental taxes at EU level;
– the inclusion or otherwise of environmental education as a subject on the curricula of primary schools in the Member States;
– tax on labour in the Member States;
– employment and social integration.
We are very critical of the fact that the EU institutions have a voracious appetite for increased influence. We have thus chosen to vote against the report as a whole but are well disposed towards individual paragraphs, mainly those dealing with genuinely cross-border environmental problems.
Luís Queiró (PPE-DE), in writing. (PT) Sustainable development is unquestionably one of the EU’s key objectives and a global challenge. Accordingly, sustainable development strategies require a long term political vision at the highest level.
We must address social, environmental and democratic challenges responsibly, not only at public authority level, but also at the level of the citizens. We ensure, however, that all of the measures to be taken tally with our objectives of social and economic growth and development, which are crucial to the future of our societies.
This report examines the progress made since 2001 and sets out fresh measures. As part of the process, we must reiterate the need to ensure that sustainable development is a priority for the future of Europe, and retain our objective of meeting the aims of the Lisbon Strategy.
I therefore voted in favour of the Ferreira report.
Alyn Smith (Verts/ALE), in writing. Sustainable development must take higher prominence across all of our policy areas, and I am glad that this report provides a starting point on how to achieve this and am glad to support it. In my own country, Scotland, we have a unique contribution to make in terms of renewable energy, with our vast natural potential offering us the opportunity to become Europe's green powerhouse. But this potential will not be developed without strong encouragement from government at all levels, and we must redouble our efforts to take the ideas in this report and build upon them.
María Sornosa Martínez (PSE), in writing. (ES) The Spanish Socialist Delegation is pleased with the approval of this own-initiative report, which is intended to improve the prospects for achieving genuine sustainable development.
Nevertheless, I would like to point out that, in the second part of Amendment 2 (paragraph 15), we have decided to vote against because we believe that the water protection and management policy must be based on criteria of rationality, efficacy and efficiency and not solely on the adoption of measures to reduce water abstraction, since that could have negative consequences of a different nature.