Avril Doyle (PPE-DE), in writing. In view of the importance of the report, I voted for it, but I do not subscribe to the reference to tax harmonisation contained in an otherwise excellent report. As there was only a single vote available to us, I could not register my concern on the ‘harmonisation’ proposal separate to the final vote.
Sérgio Marques (PPE-DE), in writing. (PT) I wish to congratulate Mr Chatzimarkakis on his important and timely report on the proposal for a decision of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing a Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme (CIP) (2007-2013), to which I lend my full support. I particularly welcome the idea of gearing the CIP towards potential applicants, in other words its direct beneficiaries.
The potential applicant must have the opportunity, prior to making an application, to obtain sufficient information about the types of support offered under the CIP.
I also agree with the rapporteur that there needs to be a one-stop shop for the CIP to facilitate contact with the stakeholders.
The rapporteur is also right when he says that the application procedure needs to be simplified.
Lastly, I should like to highlight the importance of this Framework Programme for the SMEs of various regions of the EU and in particular those of the EU's outermost regions. They stand to benefit from this important Framework Programme, which is aimed at helping them to overcome the serious obstacles that hinder them, under Article 299(2) of the EC Treaty.
Mairead McGuinness (PPE-DE), in writing. I support the content of this report, however I do not feel that Amendment 21 proposed by the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs, which calls on the European Commission to identify measures to coordinate Member States' fiscal policy and taxation, has any place in a report which purports to encourage innovation and competitiveness; on the contrary it is only by fostering a greater sense of competitiveness between SMEs and other businesses across the EU in terms of their differing fiscal obligations and other variable market conditions that a truly competitive and innovative market will become a reality for all European businesses.
Lydia Schenardi (NI), in writing. – (FR) Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are at the economic heart of our countries, the real creators of jobs and of wealth. That is why we can only commend the rapporteur’s concern to place the emphasis on them in this Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme. In the face of today’s fierce global economic competition, very often what enables SMEs to survive is technological progress, small as it may be, which is always costly and continuously needing to be worked towards.
That is why we should like access to this programme for small organisations to become more than just a pious hope. Information on the support they can claim must target small enterprises effectively, and not only those that have the resources to finance specialised services in the quest for grants. The rules for participation in these programmes must be really simple and transparent, and must not give rise to the prohibitive costs of compiling reports for SMEs. Consistency and complementarity with other European programmes and, in particular, with the Seventh Framework Programme for research and development, must be guaranteed. The demand for better Community regulation that is simpler and more in accordance with the subsidiarity principle must cease to be, as it has been for the last 20 years, the slogan repeated over and over again but never applied. We shall see how it is when we use it.
Derek Roland Clark (IND/DEM), in writing. I fully support all initiatives to foster the development and growth of the SME sector in developing countries. However, this report could not be supported because the implementation of EU practices and policies has in many cases resulted in the impoverishment of developing countries. UKIP strongly believes developing countries would be better served by agreements with individual nation states.
Hélène Goudin (IND/DEM), in writing. (SV) There is no doubt that small and medium-sized enterprises play a very large role in countries’ economies. In developing countries in which there are no large companies, it is of course more important to ensure that there is an institutional framework that makes it possible for small and medium-sized enterprises to operate. It is not, however, the task of the European Parliament to dictate what conditions should apply in the developing countries. Every state, both in the EU and in the rest of the world, has the right to own and shape its own development. I have therefore voted against this report today.
Carl Lang (NI), in writing. – (FR) Constant economic problems in developing countries, particularly in Africa, prevent growth and, at worst, give rise to war and famine. Besides globalisation, the prime cause of the problem stems from corruption which is widespread at national as well as at local level. This curse is linked with lack of supervision and misappropriation of actually quite substantial international aid.
Just like us, their families must be able to live by their work. Agriculture, craft industry, and industry must continue to hold their own, while at the same time employment in the tertiary sector must grow within a healthy community framework, making possible a virtuous economic and social circle. This hope must not be a pretext for a falsely naive discussion. Yes, we want to and must support Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SME) in developing countries but as long as ‘cooperation’ goes with ‘corruption’, it will be impossible to help these countries to take responsibility for the welfare of their people.
Redefinition of controlled and conditional cooperation must not be a pretext for mollycoddling but for settling down and developing a sense of responsibility. This new cooperation will restore hope to young people in these countries so that they do not end up as illegal immigrants washed up on the shores of a Europe that is already overwhelmed by unemployment.
Vittorio Agnoletto (GUE/NGL). – (IT) Mr President, regarding the vote on the issue of paediatric medicines, I should just like to point out that, after the six-month patent extension granted to the multinational drug companies at first reading, I feel that extending the transition period during which that additional protection certificate can be applied for from two years to five years is really going too far.
That is why I voted against Amendment 18, and also because the benefits to the paediatric population cannot be scientifically documented. In addition, accepting that amendment might encourage research into paediatric indications for medicines produced for adult use, precisely going against one of the aims of the regulation.
Carlos Coelho (PPE-DE), in writing. (PT) The Commission’s proposal will plug a gap in public health, which has long existed in the EU and which has, in some cases, led to dependence on the US or Asian pharmaceutical industry.
The creation of specific medicines for children, rather than the usual reduced dose, will be better suited to their metabolism and will provide faster and more effective treatment.
Along with the obligation to offer a ‘risk management system’ for such medicines prior to their introduction on the market, an extremely important measure has been created that will eliminate, or at least reduce, the risks and deliver effective treatment for a group as vulnerable as the paediatric population.
The rapporteur has attached due importance to carrying out research into ensuring that such medicines can be used by children without hindering the development of those medicines for adults. It will also, in some cases, facilitate a deferral request regarding the submission of the ‘paediatric investigation plan’, without delaying the placing on the market of the adult version.
I endorse the Commission’s proposal and the Grossetête report.
Gérard Deprez (ALDE), in writing. – (FR) Thanks to the adoption of this recommendation concerning paediatric medicines and the agreement between Parliament and the Council, henceforth children will be able to benefit from medicines appropriate for their specific metabolism rather than having to be prescribed weak doses of medicines intended for adults.
I believe that here we have tried to combine all the conditions necessary for the intelligent introduction, in Europe, of pharmaceutical forms specifically for children: provisions concerning support for innovation and research incentives for laboratories (notably with six months’ additional protection for the protection certificate), the establishment of an inventory of therapeutic needs specifically in paediatrics, the requirement to develop a paediatric form for new medicines, measures intended to ensure that medicinal products, once developed, are distributed throughout the Member States, or else special derogations to ensure that the development of paediatric products nonetheless does not hamper the development of medicinal products intended for adults.
We have here a concrete example of the added value of a Community regulation: a single Member State would never have had the means on its own to promote such a policy in relation to specific medicinal products.
Edite Estrela (PSE), in writing. (PT) I voted in favour of the Grossetête report on medicinal products for paediatric use, at second reading, because I feel that, in light of the specific nature of the child’s metabolism, medicines developed specifically for children should be promoted.
The setting up of a paediatric committee as part of the European Medicines Agency will help monitor scientific research in this area. It will seek to limit the number of scientific tests carried out to the minimum required.
Hélène Goudin (IND/DEM), in writing. (SV) In keeping with its response to this matter at first reading, the June List is voting against the report for reasons of principle. We are completely in favour of women and men being treated equally in employment. This is a crucial area, which international organisations such as the ILO are good at dealing with. We do not believe that the EU should regulate issues of this type in far-reaching reports resembling political programmes. The EU should not have control over working time regulations, parental leave and other significant national issues. These are matters that the Member States are better dealing with independently and in accordance with international agreements already adopted.
Lydia Schenardi (NI), in writing. – (FR) When we know that in comparable employment a woman earns 11% less than a man, there can be no doubt that we have still to increase awareness of the effort that each of us needs to make in order not to establish parity and egalitarianism between men and women by force, which would be ridiculous, but to reach a state of justice and social balance.
Advances in this area will not be achieved by means of a frenzy of feminism or by means of coercive measures which seek to forcibly impose the presence of women, whether it be in representative bodies or in management, far too often, as we very well know, without regard for their competence or quality.
Let us show some intelligence by ensuring the promotion of women in society, particularly by allowing them to have a real choice between professional life and family life and allowing them also to be able to reconcile the demands of work and children. Nowadays, unfortunately, far too many women have no chance of this.
José Albino Silva Peneda (PPE-DE), in writing. (PT) On issues relating to the labour market, I strongly condemn the glaring inequalities between men and women in a number of areas such as pay, access to employment, vocational training, working conditions and career development.
I voted in favour of this report because it represents a step forward in implementing the principle of equal opportunities and equal treatment of men and women in matters of employment and occupation.
A further reason for my support for the report is that more initiatives need to be adopted to help people achieve a better balance between work and private life.
The act of bringing together in one sole document the various initiatives on equal treatment will serve to simplify the existing legal framework. Furthermore, the level of protection will be stepped up in that the development of the case-law of the European Court of Justice will become incorporated.
I regret, however, that in spite of the fact that equal treatment is enshrined in the EU Treaty and in various directives, it remains an unfulfilled dream, no more than a vague political principle with a level of implementation that leaves a great deal to be desired.
Gyula Hegyi (PSE). – Mr President, I voted in favour of the report on the European Year of Intercultural Dialogue and I am happy with its contents.
However, one aspect of intercultural dialogue should be underlined: in many cases we refer to ourselves as ‘Europe’ and ‘Europeans’, forgetting the fact that a huge part of eastern Europe, including the largest European nation – Russia – is not a Member State of the European Union. We share the same European culture and heritage, but we hardly know each other’s contemporary art and culture. There are mass media broadcasts, false images and bad clichés about the everyday life of those countries. We should use the possibility of the European Year of Intercultural Dialogue to get a true picture of the rich culture of Russia and Ukraine, as well as that of the former Yugoslav Republics. Inviting young artists, students and journalists and encouraging cultural exchange between Member States and the eastern European nations will strengthen our common European identity.
Tomáš Zatloukal (PPE-DE). – (CS) Mr President, in the same way as most of you, I too have been deeply shocked by the number of racially motivated murders that have taken place in some European countries recently. These were examples of the most blatant and horrific manifestation of racism and xenophobia. There are, however, other forms which are not so visible and yet which harm greater numbers of people. I would like to believe that the actions planned in support of the European Year of Intercultural Dialogue, and above all intercultural dialogue itself, will manage to subdue the nationalistic mood right across the Union. I consider 2008 to be the right time for this, in view of the fact that by then the European Union will have increased to 27 Member States. It is, however, necessary to create initiatives based on the sort of practical and sustainable projects that will continue even after 2008. For these reasons I regard the report we have just adopted as a step in the right direction.
Philip Claeys (NI). – (NL) Mr President, my group colleague Mr Dillen will shortly be drawing your attention to a German study in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung which shows a lack of willingness to adapt among many immigrants, a trend that is also reflected in many other polls; according to an Austrian study, for example, no fewer than 45% of Muslims are hostile towards the idea of integration. Would it not be better, therefore, if official Europe were to send out a different message, which it could do by making 2008 the year of respect for European standards and values? With the past European capitulation to intimidation following the publication of the Danish cartoons still fresh in people’s minds, I hold out little hope, particularly if I remind myself of the opinion poll that was carried out in the United Kingdom for the Sunday Times, which shows that 40% of Muslims in Great Britain are in favour of introducing sharia law
Koenraad Dillen (NI). – (NL) Mr President, my colleagues and I have voted against this Hennicot-Schoepges report, because the so-called European Year of Intercultural Dialogue, an initiative that, by the way, is going to set us back EUR 10 million, is yet another example of how official Europe is blind to the reality actually experienced by the public. This reality is that Europe accommodates an ever growing number of Muslims who not only refuse to adapt to common European values, but who also want to impose their own world view and their way of life on us.
For example, German public opinion no longer believes in a dialogue with a religion that refuses to accept basic values such as gender equality. Germans have had enough of honour killings, large-scale violence in schools and burkas on the streets. A recent opinion poll conducted by the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung showed that more than 71% of Germans think that Islam is intolerant; 91% of Germans equate Islam with violence against women. Official Europe would do well to take those signals a little more seriously.
Charlotte Cederschiöld, Christofer Fjellner, Gunnar Hökmark and Anna Ibrisagic (PPE-DE), in writing. (SV) We have today voted in favour of the report on the European Year of Intercultural Dialogue. Cultural exchange is naturally enriching and is important in increasing understanding between people.
There are, however, details of the report about which we are sceptical. We believe that the designation of a day, week or year for some particular purpose or other is of no practical significance to people. What such initiatives can perhaps do, however, is in some way to crystallise the objectives towards which our institutions’ efforts are directed. As always, we are sceptical about centrally devised campaigns and opinion-forming and note that the report tightens up the Commission’s proposals in this regard. A ‘no’ vote would mean more money for the EU’s institutions and for PR campaigns.
Hélène Goudin (IND/DEM), in writing. (SV) The June List believes that the whole idea of a European Year of this or that is unnecessary and not something that EU taxpayers should fund.
To invest EUR 10 million in a European Year of Intercultural Dialogue would be quite reprehensible, and it is difficult and perhaps downright impossible to see what would be the point of doing so.
Incredible though it may seem, the European Parliament’s Committee on Culture and Education wishes to increase the EU’s share of the subsidies for national events and initiatives of this type from 50% to 80% (Amendment 33).
I am voting against the report as a whole.
Marine Le Pen (NI), in writing. – (FR) How can one have a cultural exchange with another if one does not know who one is? You recognise that ‘religious identity is an essential part of the identity for all of us, even those who are not religious’, but you refused to recognise our Christian roots in your Constitution which is, happily for us, dead and buried. What are we talking about then? Amendment 9 speaks of ‘intercultural civility’, but that is a contradiction in terms, otherwise civility no longer means anything! The addition of fine, high-flown words often just ends up meaning nothing.
The result of your approach is relativism and betrayal: you want to promote the European Year of Intercultural Dialogue at the Olympic Games in Beijing and thus serve as a spare wheel for a Communist dictatorship (Amendment 38)! What a disgrace! You are going to talk about intercultural dialogue with Tibet, no doubt? This initiative on its own disqualifies your proposal.
Carl Schlyter (Verts/ALE), in writing. (SV) I am voting in favour of the report because its main purpose – that of combating discrimination - is very positive and necessary. I am, however, voting against an increase in the budget, as well as against Amendment 18, which is particularly unfortunate in its neo-colonial desire to export views and values.
Carlos Coelho (PPE-DE), in writing. (PT) It is always appropriate to highlight the responsibility that falls to the law, to the Member States and to the Union to attach priority to promoting children’s rights, and especially so today, which is World Children’s Day. Children are our future and make up around one fifth of the population of the EU.
I support the creation of this Framework Decision on the recognition and enforcement in the EU of prohibitions arising from convictions for sexual offences committed against children, and the amendments tabled by the rapporteur.
This is a crucial step towards improving cooperation between the Member States in protecting children. Furthermore it has a twofold purpose:
- to improve access to information on prohibitions, through compulsory registration of prohibition in the criminal record; and
- to make it compulsory to enforce them.
It will accordingly be possible to stop a person who has been convicted of paedophilia in one Member State, and has been banned from any activity involving contact with children, from sidestepping that ban by moving to another Member State.
A disqualification of this nature handed down in one Member State will have a legal effect in the other Member States, thereby broadening the implementation of the principle of mutual recognition of disqualifications and prohibitions.
Gérard Deprez (ALDE), in writing. – (FR) I strongly support the initiative of the Kingdom of Belgium as an indispensable factor for effective cooperation between Member States with regard to the protection of children from sexual abuse.
The least one can say is that this initiative fills a lacuna, a vacuum – what am I saying! – the gulf there is at present.
Let us consider – and Belgium fully realised the gravity of the matter at the time of the horrifying revelation of the Fourniret affair – at the moment, when a person is convicted in one Member State for paedophile acts and is subject, in that State, to a prohibition on pursuing activities likely to bring that person into contact with children, he needs only to move to another State in order to evade this prohibition!
For the time being, therefore, there is no guarantee that a disqualification handed down in one Member State has any legal effect in the other Member States. In the face of an appalling situation, it was time to establish a system which requires the State of residence of the person convicted of sexual offences against children to recognise the prohibitions handed down abroad and to apply them within its own territory.
I am convinced that this text will save children from the worst kind of horror.
Glyn Ford (PSE), in writing. I support this resolution and the commitment by the Commission and Council to deal with Palestine’s duly elected government, even if its politics are other than we might wish. No good can come from driving Palestine into financial chaos and ruin. Europe's policy should serve as an example to the US and others as to how to proceed in future.
I did not support the inclusion of paragraph 9 in the resolution, however. While I have and will continue to support demands for an immediate halt to further extension of the settlements - or rather their dismantling - and no further building of the wall, I feel it does not fit well here, where we are essentially dealing with a very different issue.
Luís Queiró (PPE-DE), in writing. (PT) Whilst the most recent developments in Israel have been welcome, not least the results achieved by a party that is clearly seeking dialogue and agreement, the same cannot be said of the election results in the Palestinian Authority, where the outcome, although regular from the point of view of electoral legality, is doubly worrying. First and foremost, a political group that does not acknowledge Israel’s right to exist, and as such fails to meet one of the prerequisites for the peace process, was able to gain power. It also showed that, in the election, the people under the jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority did not prioritise a negotiated settlement to this age-old conflict.
Against this backdrop, the EU and all of the Quartet must agree on the next steps. We need to be firm with the PA government, but open to President Mahmood Abbas and his initiatives in search of a general agreement on the only acceptable solution, which is the peaceful coexistence of two States.
In view of the importance of the role of EU donor, let us hope that on this external front, 'Europe’ proves itself equal to the task of exerting a positive influence on the situation.
Charles Tannock (PPE-DE), in writing. British Conservatives voted against paragraph 9 as the use of the word "condemnation" did not appear in any other part of the text dealing with, for instance, Hamas' support for recent terrorist attacks. Furthermore, the issue of the settlements and the controversial status of East Jerusalem are not directly related to the humanitarian crisis in the Palestinian territories.
Lastly, the security fence which has considerably reduced the number of terrorist suicide bombing missions into Israel proper is not necessarily the final border of the two states. It has already been moved by orders of Israel's Supreme Court to accommodate local Palestinians' needs. The final course it takes will depend upon the successful negotiated outcome to the peace process.
Carlos Coelho (PPE-DE), in writing. (PT) We are in no doubt that terrorism must be combated with firmness and steadfast determination. Yet the values and principles on which our civilisation is built must not under any circumstances be undermined.
I share the concerns regarding the Guantánamo situation and endorse the request made in this House to put an end to this type of situation and to close these detention centres.
The capture of the detainees and the circumstances of their subsequent detention run counter to the Geneva Convention and to other international humanitarian instruments.
Whatever measures may be taken in relation to these detainees, they must comply fully with the principle of human rights and the rule of law. All prisoners must be formally charged with the crimes they have been accused of and have a fair trial before a competent, impartial court. Convictions must of course be followed by a sentence that reflects the seriousness and inhumanity of the terrible acts that have been perpetrated.
I hope that the opportunity is taken at the next transatlantic summit in Vienna to exert pressure on the USA to close down Guantánamo and to find a fairer and quicker solution to the question of the 500 or so detainees.
José Ribeiro e Castro (PPE-DE), in writing. (PT) I should like to restate what I said in October 2004 on this matter. We are vehemently opposed to terrorism, and with total solidarity, sympathise with the terrible suffering of its victims and their families. There is no doubt whatsoever that this appalling, barbaric attack on fundamental rights is the biggest struggle currently facing democracies. The tragedies of 11 September and 11 March are a major example of this and still uppermost in our thoughts.
Yet in the course of this struggle, the west also needs to maintain the highest moral standards, and must set an impeccable example in terms of the values that it holds dear. In this respect, we would like clarifications of the cases in which there have been violations of human rights, of fundamental guarantees and of the universal conventions to which we have signed up. We feel that the civilisation values in which we believe must be upheld.
I therefore supported the postponement of the vote in order to ensure that a more mature and better-informed decision be taken in two weeks’ time in Strasbourg.
Bruno Gollnisch (NI), in writing. – (FR) The friendly relationship, quite naturally, that we have with the United States does not imply that we are trailing behind them for the sake of defending interests that are not our own. That is what they would like. We do not.
Our interest is to have a European currency, if indeed there has to be one in that form, which stands out as the currency of reference in relation to the dollar and not the reverse; it is that developing countries should experience balanced development, albeit in the shelter of cautious protectionism; it was to have NATO in opposition to the Warsaw Pact, but since the Warsaw Pact has disappeared, NATO’s legitimacy as a tool of American dominance is no longer justified; it is not taking part in all the wars in which we do not have to intervene; it is that Latin America, by virtue of its links with Portugal and Spain, does not constitute a backyard of the United States.
Saying all this is not to say one is an enemy of the United States, but it is being patriotic and concerned for one’s own country.
Tobias Pflüger (GUE/NGL), in writing. (DE) New partnership? The EU is promising the USA rearmament and close military cooperation.
By a large majority, the European Parliament has today voted for a new trans-Atlantic partnership, at the same time expressing its particular support for close military cooperation between the EU and the USA, but there has been no real criticism of the ongoing occupation of Iraq or of the escalating war in Afghanistan. The CIA’s torture flights and the use of American military bases in Europe for the wars in the Middle East are not to be allowed to interfere with the new partnership, nor is the fact that American nuclear weapons continue to be stationed in EU Member States to be a topic for discussion at the forthcoming EU/USA summit in Vienna.
The affirmation of Europeans and Americans as brothers in arms culminates in the undertaking that ‘Europe’s military capabilities are to be increased’ ‘with a view to establishing better partnership relations between the European Union and the United States in political and military terms’. This undertaking is an unambiguous commitment to continuing, in future, to wage war side by side with the USA, and to ongoing support for those wars that are already being fought. Nevertheless, the real aim of those responsible for EU military policy is to be able, quite independently of NATO and without help from the USA, to conduct military interventions anywhere in the world – as is now happening in Congo. The concept of a civilian Europe is one that the Members of this House abandoned long ago.
Luís Queiró (PPE-DE), in writing. (PT) The United States of America is Europe’s biggest and best ally. Any discussion on relations between the two sides of the Atlantic should be based on this premise, and on two other key ideas. The fact that we are potential competitors in various areas does not dilute our alliance; nor does the fact that we are such good allies blind us to reality. We are different entities with projects, proposals and interests that do not always coincide, but we are partners with the same view of society and the same concept of human community.
In recent years, difficulties have come to light that, in many cases, can be resolved. The idea that the United States engendered an internal split in Europe is false. The truth of the matter is that the EU is not itself a single whole with a single vision of the realities of external politics. Let us therefore focus on the factors that make our relationship strong, and leave aside the ideological prejudices that are so evident in some of the disputes that will always occur when the two sides of the Atlantic come together.
Charles Tannock (PPE-DE), in writing. I and my British Conservative colleagues support strong transatlantic relations, both politically and economically. However, the issue of an absolute ban on the death sentence remains a conscience-based issue for individual MEPs. Nevertheless, we all condemn the inappropriate and excessive use of the death penalty in countries such as China and Iran.
We believe that issues of crimes against international humanitarian law should not be dealt with by the International Criminal Court but should be dealt with by UN ad hoc Tribunals.
Furthermore, we do not believe that an immediate closure of Guantanamo Bay is desirable or feasible while the war on terrorism remains a priority for both the United States and the European Union. However, in the longer term it would be in the US's interest to do so.
Glyn Ford (PSE), in writing. I would congratulate my colleague, Erika Mann, on her report on EU-US economic relations. Yet while doing so I would enter a reservation. I have always taken the line that the deepening of the Union is as important, if not more important, than its widening. Here there is the call for the creation of a free-trade area with the US by 2015. I am not against it in principle. It really depends on other developments. I have not been fighting to protect a social dimension to the Union, vital for ordinary Europeans, to allow it to be sold out via the back door by the creation of a gigantic free trade area. I have always told progressive and trade union opponents in the OG of NAFTA that they are missing the point. They should not be opposing close economic integration with Mexico, Canada, which will inevitably accompany globalisation, but rather demand its democratisation through the creation of a NAFTA parliamentary assembly to promote a social dimension.
Bruno Gollnisch (NI), in writing. – (FR) Mrs Mann’s report is very critical of United States’ policy which, for her taste, is too concerned with national interests. I respect, although I do not share this opinion, but I would like to see a similar degree of demands and indignation when this Parliament debates Europe’s relations with countries where concentration and forced labour camps are still in existence.
Coming back to the core of the matter, I would have no objection to strengthening economic cooperation between the United States and the countries of Europe, if that were mutually beneficial for both parties. On the other hand, it is no use, for the sake of this, creating a ‘barrier-free transatlantic marketplace’, a real internal market on the European model, with its share of legislative and regulatory harmonisations, and with the potential of extension throughout the whole of the American continent. We are no longer talking about a free trade area, but, well and truly, total economic integration. Before political integration?
This report is symptomatic of a Europe that refuses to impose respect for the interests of Member States while seeking to integrate them, merge them and make them disappear into a vast global mass.
We can only reject it.
Jean-Claude Martinez (NI), in writing. – (FR) A free trade area is an area without barriers, customs barriers in particular. It is a common market, almost like that of Europe. The transatlantic free trade area, therefore, is a common market from Warsaw to San Francisco, from Helsinki to Patagonia and from Malta to the Canadian Great North. While European public opinion imagines that the political debate is about the future of the European Constitution, the reality is quite simply, from 2010 to 2015, that is to say in five years, the building of a political and economic body made up of 45 nations out of the 193 that there are in the world.
On the quiet, Mrs Mann’s report signals a transition from European integration to a political integration comprising one quarter of the world. This would mean a Parliament of 45 nations, a common trade tribunal and the beginnings of a common legislation.
After 90 years Paul Valéry’s prediction that ‘Europe aspires to be run by an American committee’ is coming true.
Farewell Europe, hello World! Mrs Mann has made a double announcement: the death of the European idea and the birth of a world organisation.
Luís Queiró (PPE-DE), in writing. (PT) Transatlantic relations covers a broader spectrum than just economic relations, which must be taken into account when we address this issue. The EU and the United States of America play a unique role in world trade. There are therefore three aspects that I consider to be fundamental in any debate on the matter.
The first of these is loyalty. Trade relations between the two sides should be based on good faith, effective compliance with agreements and effective protection of the rights of US and European economic operators, including the various producers and consumers concerned.
The second is international-level cooperation. Although the factors involved in disagreement and competition are clear for all to see, the only way forward is to reach a workable understanding on how best to promote fairer, more transparent and more development-friendly world trade.
The last of these aspects is the idea of sharing the main challenges facing both sides on the world stage, in terms of both concerns and solutions. This is true of the economy itself (take, for example, the energy question, the growth of economic powerhouses such as China and India, and world poverty) and of security.
Marc Tarabella (PSE), in writing. – (FR) I wish to explain to you here why I voted against Mrs Mann’s report on transatlantic economic relations between the United States and the European Union.
In a general context, the report covers too many completely different sectors, sectors which, in my opinion, should be the subject of specific reports. I think, therefore, that the content of the report ought to have been better targeted.
This report could, moreover, have dramatic consequences for Europe. Indeed it opens the door to a free trade area between the United States and the European Union, which would increase the penetration into Europe of the United States’ agricultural processing model.
This goes against a principle that, as a Socialist, I feel duty bound to defend: a social Europe based on principles of solidarity!
Zsolt László Becsey (PPE-DE). – (HU) Mr President, I eventually voted in favour of the Langen report, but only because we have also accepted the verbal amendment of Mrs Starkevičiūtė. With regard to Amendments 2 and 16, I voted differently from the majority of my group. One is an inflation criterion, and the other is the decision of the Commission regarding Lithuania.
I would like to say that my reason for this is that even the manner in which Parliament is handling this issue, without a serious debate, is absolutely revolting. It is revolting that the Commission makes a strategic decision, and for the first time it sanctions somebody in the interest of the enlargement of the euro zone.
The Commission made a strategic decision, because it did not even submit this to us for debate. This is unacceptable, especially when the Commission has done so on the basis of dubious inflation-related and other criteria, and it calls to account a country that has made many sacrifices, for criteria that are continuously breached by four or five Member States.
I believe that this whole procedure damages not only the credibility of the European Parliament, but also that of the European Union and of the euro zone in the states that joined in 2004 or will join in the future. Therefore, both the Commission and that part of Parliament that did not wish to conduct a longer debate on the unilateral decision of the Commission, have a very serious responsibility.
Vytautas Landsbergis (PPE-DE). – Mr President, the Commission’s decision to leave Lithuania out of the eurozone and the related opportunities for rapid integration with those better advanced was based on a formal notification concerning a breach by Lithuania’s economy of the inflation rate limit, indeed with a minimal and disputed drop margin.
The Government in Vilnius fell yesterday, burdened as it was by greater mistakes and failures than a lack of special concern and cautiousness over keeping the inflation programme on a positive margin, avoiding the risk of getting negative zero-comma-commas. It should not just toe the line on the European stage, especially while being new and not big.
Here I have to state, unfortunately, that unequal treatment of Member States is evident at high levels of EU management, including the Commission. When two larger Member States did not comply with the Stability Pact – and it was not a drop margin, as in Lithuania’s case – those larger states were not blamed or punished, but on the contrary blessed. The financial misbehaviour was not changed – the law was changed so that it complied with misbehaviour. In our case, the Commission did not punish our former Government; rather, the entire nation was pushed aside.
Moreover, something bad happened with the eastern border of the EU after Russia broke the obligatory signature of President Putin under the 2003 Summit commitment to the EU to finalise agreements with Estonia and Latvia very soon. Russia even denounced a document already ratified by the Estonian Parliament. The position of the EU appeared rather shameful: instead of standing by its Member State, the EU instead appeased Russia, leaving Estonia to cope alone with Big Brother again.
I would like to see my country, Lithuania, acceding not only to the eurozone, but also to the common European area of energy security. In the case of the eurozone, the European Parliament adopted some positive opinions in amendments critical of the Commission and therefore I changed my mind and voted in favour of Mr Langen’s report.
Andreas Mölzer (NI). – (DE) Mr President, the single European currency may well be helpful as a means of fostering a common European identity, and so one ought, no doubt, to welcome the admission of the Republic of Slovenia to the euro zone.
Under no circumstances, though, must the euro be used to play politics with historical emblems. For example, when Slovenia insists that its euro coins should bear such Austrian symbols as the coronation stone of the Princes of Carinthia, then that amounts to a provocation capable of being interpreted as a claim on historic territory by Laibach, otherwise known as Ljubljana.
As there have already been problems with Turkish coins, I believe that we should, where the design of euro coins is concerned, be more rigorous in imposing our own conditions. It is for this reason that I have voted against the Langen report.
Jan Andersson, Ewa Hedkvist Petersen, Inger Segelström and Åsa Westlund (PSE), in writing. (SV) With regard to Amendment 9, Sweden rejected introducing the euro as its currency in a referendum in 2003. The issue is thus settled for the foreseeable future as far as Sweden is concerned.
Our view is that the EU should not revise the Swedish people’s opinion by adopting a position for or against a possible opt-out clause.
David Casa (PPE-DE), in writing. (MT) The adoption of the euro currency should be based on determined criteria. The time for a country to satisfy the accession criteria and the convergence period should be set. The length of time that a country spends in the ERM II mechanism needs to be determined. A convergence rate also needs to be established.
The adoption of the euro should facilitate the convergence of countries' economies. The majority of these economies are linked to the economies of the other countries of the European Union.
The advantages of accession are: transparency in cross-border prices; an increase in competitivity for the benefit of the consumer; the abolition of transaction costs; and no risk in exchange.
The European Union must make sure that the criteria used in order for a country to join the euro zone are the same for all, and that the assessment of the criteria is transparent.
We must be wary of falling into the trap of using the issue of entry in the euro zone as a means to fight other battles which are completely irrelevant. Entry in the euro zone should be based on the Maastricht criteria, and should have no other implications. We need to ensure that the decisions we take here regarding certain countries do not contribute to strengthening those eurosceptics who are using the decisions of the European Union as a means to undermine its achievements.
Lena Ek (ALDE), in writing. (SV) In the vote on the euro, I abstained from voting on whether, following its referendum, Sweden should be regarded as qualifying for a derogation. The motion is based on the incorrect assumption that Sweden will be forced to accept the common currency in spite of the outcome of the referendum. That is obviously not the case. The motion also goes too far, since it is based on the absurd idea that, through referendums, individual countries will be able to opt out of parts of the common treaties. Consistent application of such a principle is, of course, unthinkable.
Glyn Ford (PSE), in writing. I welcome the Langen Report, yet from a British perspective it fills me with dread. Already, our failure to join the Single Currency area is costing us billions in inward investment and tens of thousands of jobs. The 10 new Member States are already eager to join, as they voted for in the separate and unanimously positive referenda before accession. It will be a sad day for Britain, its people and its economy when the likes of Slovenia and Lithuania, Estonia and Malta adopt the Euro, while Britain languishes on the sidelines adrift from the world's most successful currency, tossed to and fro by a Eurogroup making decisions vital to our economy, but independent of our input and indifferent to our interests.
Bruno Gollnisch (NI), in writing. – (FR) Here is a new stage in the European Union’s headlong rush forward: new Member States’ membership of the single currency. The Langen report attempts to find a balance between dogmatic adherence to the Maastricht criteria and the Stability Pact, praise for the euro and considerations of good sense about the state of preparedness of the countries or even the euro zone’s capacity to cope with an enlargement which will increase its heterogeneity and, consequently, its difficulties.
The single currency has a significant responsibility for poor growth in those States that have adopted it (inappropriate interest rates, disadvantageous exchange rates). It is not necessary to drag new victims into this situation. I wonder, also, whether the citizens of these countries, who only yesterday shook off the yoke of Communism, are aware of the irreparable loss of sovereignty involved in the adoption of the euro? Above all, are they aware that the loss of their national currency was laid down in their accession treaty? Informing them about the practicalities of the transition to the euro in their country is not what we should concentrate on, but rather on consulting them again, by means of a referendum, about the loss of their currency.
Anna Hedh (PSE), in writing. (SV) I voted in favour of Amendment 9 because I believe that Sweden should demand a derogation following Sweden’s referendum on the euro in 2003. I believe, however, that it is up to Sweden to request the derogation. The EU should not automatically regard Sweden’s ‘no’ vote as equivalent to an opt-out clause.
Jules Maaten (ALDE), in writing. – (NL) I have voted in favour of the Langen report on the enlargement of the euro zone, because I happen to believe that the Commission must hold firm to the criteria for membership in it. Only in that way can the euro region continue to justify the trust placed in it.
My group regards Slovenia and Lithuania as being, in principle, ready for the euro. The accession of those countries to the euro region should benefit the entire European economy. The drive with which they have carried out economic reform in recent years should serve as an incentive to all euro countries.
Luís Queiró (PPE-DE), in writing. (PT) Nobody questions the idea that any Member State wishing to enter the euro zone must meet the Maastricht convergence criteria established in the EC Treaty. Parliament has always said it is in favour of strict compliance with these criteria, without exceptions.
Although the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs decided not to focus on recommendations regarding the level of preparation of specific countries in its report, the truth is that the main issue in this vote was the negative verdict on Lithuania, which meets all the convergence criteria, except for the inflation criteria. In the last 12 months, the inflation rate in Lithuania has been slightly above the threshold value. This has led me to vote for Amendment 2, which calls for a clear and exhaustive explanation regarding the calculation of the inflation criteria and calls on the Commission to update its report on Lithuania with a view to enabling it to join the euro zone at the earliest opportunity.
Carl Schlyter (Verts/ALE), in writing. (SV) I am abstaining in the votes on the technical ways in which countries are to implement the changeover to the euro. However, I am voting against the proposals aimed at putting maximum effort into the fight against inflation and at setting aside other objectives. I am voting in favour of the report because of the huge criticism of the way in which Lithuania has been treated.
Sahra Wagenknecht (GUE/NGL), in writing. (DE) I abstained from voting on the grounds that I believe that the same criteria must apply to all EU Member States and that the enlargement of the euro zone must not involve more stringent criteria being applied to new ones. My abstaining from voting alters nothing, however, as regards my fundamental criticisms of the Stability Pact, which is an instrument completely unsuited to the task of resolving the EU’s economic and social problems and benefits nobody except big business and the property owning classes. There is no need for a pact that one-sidedly favours price stability, but there is a need for a social and employment pact that meets the population’s needs. Joining the euro zone under present conditions will do the people in the new Member States no good at all, any more than it benefited the old ones; on the contrary, they will be damaged by it.
Jan Andersson, Anna Hedh, Ewa Hedkvist Petersen, Inger Segelström and Åsa Westlund (PSE), in writing. (SV) We Swedish Social Democrats are opposed to Parliament’s part-sessions taking place in Strasbourg and question why Parliament has set aside a significant budget item for purchasing buildings there. This issue is particularly controversial because an investigation is still under way as to whether irregularities took place in connection with the transactions surrounding Parliament’s buildings in Strasbourg.
Charlotte Cederschiöld, Christofer Fjellner, Gunnar Hökmark and Anna Ibrisagic (PPE-DE), in writing. (SV) We have voted in favour of the report on the estimates of revenue and expenditure of the European Parliament for the financial year 2007. We set great store by the strict approach it aims to adopt to the administration’s proposals.
Our approval in this regard does not mean that we support every trend in the budget. For example, we are, as previously, sceptical about the European Parliament’s information-providing activities, which tend to take over the roles of the MEPs and political groups. Nor do we think that the construction of a Europe House in Brussels or the European Parliament’s purchase of buildings in Strasbourg are justified.
Hélène Goudin (IND/DEM), in writing. (SV) This report might have contained much more of general interest regarding the European Parliament’s budget. The report should make it clear that in no circumstances should the European Parliament’s budget cover deficits in the MEPs’ pension fund. The report should also have contained a statement to the effect that the MEPs’ generous system of travel expenses should be reformed and that only actual travel costs, and nothing else, should be paid out to MEPs in connection with the journeys they make.
One of the things the report comes out in favour of is a EUR 4 million increase in appropriations to the political groups and the European parties. This is not something that I can support, which is one of the reasons that I am choosing to vote against the report as a whole.
Mairead McGuinness (PPE-DE), in writing. I believe that the thrust of paragraph 46 is misplaced given that the EU's institutions and its Member States have entered into agreements regarding the status of additional languages and their agreed use as working languages in these institutions, notably the Irish language. Financial measures were put in place to finance these initiatives and they should be honoured accordingly.
Carl Schlyter (Verts/ALE), in writing. (SV) Those who vote against paragraph 4 (EUR 50 million for purchase of the buildings in Strasbourg and EUR 25 million for propaganda) are not affecting the budget, but are merely trying to conceal waste from the electorate. I am, however, voting against the report because I do not want the money concerned to be wasted.
Zbigniew Zaleski (PPE-DE). – Mr President, as a shadow rapporteur I would like to say that the original premise of Mr Markov’s report was that trade has caused poverty. This is a position that we, as a political group, could never accept. For us, trade is one of the important tools for the fight against poverty.
We have a social responsibility towards the poorest countries. We feel that in order to attain the Millennium Development Goals, we have to create a trade environment in which developing countries have real access to the markets of developed countries. We believe there is a link between a country’s wealth and its economic freedom. We support aid programmes, but they must be effective. We must link them to the economic and social climate in recipient countries and they must be aimed at improving democratic governance.
(PL) The aim of linking trade and development is to benefit people, and particularly those living in poverty. Instead of spending large sums of money on direct aid, it may be better to invigorate poor countries through economic cooperation, including trade and the exchange of goods, services and skills, so that they can build their own prosperity. Gradual liberalisation at the current stage of economic differentiation is a sensible idea. Sudden liberalisation has not materialised in the case of China, for example. Although the report is excessively socially-oriented in tone, it does contain many proposals that will constructively foster development through free and fair international trade. Despite the reservations of members of the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) and European Democrats, as shadow rapporteur I have proposed that the report should be approved, for if used responsibly and sensibly by the players in this field, it can help to level out the differences in living standards, and raise standards in the poorest societies.
Frank Vanhecke (NI). – (NL) Mr President, I am happy to concur with the previous speaker, who has already made some very valid points about the Markov report. I should like to add that I too happen to take the view that the plea for the large-scale debt cancellation of developing world countries will bear little fruit, will offer little in the way of a solution and could even have the opposite effect, because the already restricted control on those developing countries, on the management of those developing countries by organisations such as the IMF and other international institutions would then become much more difficult, if not impossible. I think that it is only the very corrupt, incapable and money-wasting African and other leaders who would benefit and who would become even richer. I know that I risk setting myself up for finger wagging by the likes of Louis Michel, Bob Geldof and Bono, but I maintain – and that is the honest truth – that the huge tragedy in many developing countries, particularly in black Africa, is that they are being plundered and robbed by their own leaders; I think that that is the first conclusion we have to draw before we can start giving poor people real aid.
David Martin (PSE), in writing. I welcome this report which discusses the role that trade policy has played and could potentially play towards development and alleviating poverty while taking into account the complexity of the relation between the two.
The salient issues of the report focus on the fact that whilst there has been a general rise of GDP per capita on a global scale, there has also been an increase in the number of people living beneath the poverty line. The report therefore considers that a radical change of policy is needed both in developed and developing countries in order to alleviate the problems behind this perpetual increase in poverty.
The message is therefore very clear: when we are considering the merits of liberalisation we should not lose sight of the concrete reality of the gaps in wealth in the world today.
Luís Queiró (PPE-DE), in writing. (PT) Whilst trade is an important tool for development and a means of reducing poverty, it is clearly impossible to attain real progress towards these objectives unless fair rules are established at international level. Finding ways of ensuring that trade policy helps to resolve the poverty issue, however, is no easy task.
Accordingly, opening up borders to international trade brings highly significant benefits for the development of societies. Poorer countries are clearly not always prepared to protect themselves against any adverse effects or to take advantage of any opportunities that may arise.
I therefore feel that the minor changes to the WTO trade negotiations as regards the environment, farming, raw materials, public services, health and industrialisation could help people enjoy more of the benefits of trade.
Lastly, our role should continue to be that of promoting support for development and democracy in developing countries with a view to delivering decent working conditions and opportunities for growth for the people of those countries.
Anders Wijkman (PPE-DE), in writing. (SV) Globalisation offers a number of opportunities, especially for reducing poverty. Trade and technical cooperation both help strengthen poor countries’ economies. At the same time, there are risks and problems. The poorest countries are often in no position to participate in economic cooperation because of a lack of capacity and so forth and are in danger of getting left even further behind.
What is more, environmental legislation at international level, as well as in many poor countries, leaves a lot to be desired, leading to a rapid increase in waste products, as well as in over-exploitation and in the unsustainable use of a variety of natural resources such as forests and fish, and all these developments are intensified through swiftly growing trade. These problems must be got to grips with as soon as possible if the advantages of globalisation are not to be turned into disadvantages.
Andreas Mölzer (NI). – (DE) Mr President, I would like to take this opportunity to state why I have felt unable to vote in favour of the Vidal-Quadras report. As long ago as 1997, the EU took the decision that it would increase the proportion of its energy drawn from renewable sources to 12% by 2010. It would appear, though, that the best we are likely to manage is an increase to 8%. These figures make the likelihood of successfully achieving the goal we have set ourselves – a saving of one-fifth of current energy consumption by 2020 – rather doubtful.
Instead of constantly topping up the funds for the EU’s nuclear research programme, we would, I believe, do better to put this money into the renewable energy and energy efficiency sectors, which promise much for the future.
Duarte Freitas (PPE-DE), in writing. (PT) The Green Paper on energy efficiency forms the basis of the Commission’s Energy Efficiency Action Plan, a highly important document that plays a key role in combating climate change, environmental pollution and the abuse of natural resources, and in safeguarding energy supplies.
The rapporteur mentions some highly important ways of reaching the objective of 20% reduction in energy consumption in the EU by 2020, as proposed by the Commission.
Simple measures that could bring major energy savings include awareness raising and educating and encouraging people to change their consumption habits, favouring the use of co-generation technologies, the fact that the public sector sets an excellent example in using cleaner transport and efficient lighting, and the use of energy saving contracts.
The rapporteur also highlights the unstable nature of the energy market and the recent oil price rises that make the current state of affairs different from the time when the Commission was drawing up the Green Paper.
I therefore support the Vidal-Quadras report.
Bairbre de Brún, Ole Krarup, Jonas Sjöstedt and Eva-Britt Svensson (GUE/NGL), in writing. We are opposed to the liberalisation of energy markets. We do not believe it is essential to enhancing competitiveness, tackling energy prices and enhancing of security of supply and energy efficiency. However, we have decided to vote in favour of the report as it contains positive proposals relating to energy efficiency, conservation and access to energy by disadvantaged members of society.
Hélène Goudin (IND/DEM), in writing. (SV) The report concerns the situation of Roma women in the European Union and the complex, multiple discrimination to which these women are exposed in the EU Member States. The June List champions Roma women having access to better protection of their reproductive and sexual health.
The June List’s basic attitude is that high priority should be given both to equality issues and to issues of ethnic discrimination, because both areas are in need of serious attention. That does not, however, mean that it is for the EU to do this. The June List is convinced that this work is best done at national level.
The Member States are very diverse in terms of culture and traditions. We therefore believe that, in working to achieve the goal of equal opportunities for women and men, it is possible to have a more flexible and pluralistic approach at national level.
I have thus chosen to vote against the report as a whole.
Timothy Kirkhope (PPE-DE), in writing. I and my British Conservative colleagues are strong supporters of equality of opportunity for all women, including Romani women across Europe.
However, we have abstained on this report today as we do not support the proliferation of new EU agencies and institutes (as outlined in paragraph 1) that will add to the burden of the taxpayer and increase bureaucracy without any proven benefit to the people they are supposed to serve.
Charlotte Cederschiöld, Christofer Fjellner, Gunnar Hökmark and Anna Ibrisagic (PPE-DE), in writing. (SV) We have abstained from voting on the report on the situation of women in armed conflicts. We are, of course, just as troubled as the rapporteur by the horrors of war and by the human suffering caused by war and terrorism.
However, the basis of the report is such as to give rise to some peculiar lines of argument in which the suffering of men as one group and women as another, as well as levels of blame and responsibility, are graded so as to fit in with demands that quotas be allocated to women in various contexts. Efforts to prevent conflicts and to put a stop to terrorism must be aimed precisely at doing just that, and the best methods for achieving those aims need to be used. The many proposals in the report, legitimate though they may be, are in danger of shifting the focus from the aims of peace work to the forms it should take. The allocation of quotas for women in peace-keeping and peace-making bodies and in peace negotiations is in danger of getting in the way of the goal of preventing suffering.
Edite Estrela (PSE), in writing. (PT) I am voting in favour of the De Keyser report because it provides a useful assessment of the situation, based on the triple axis of women as victims, women as peacemakers and women and war.
The report also states that, in spite of all the resolutions laid down by all the European and international institutions, women do not take part in areas such as conflict prevention and resolution, and peace keeping operations. The recommendation to draw up a programme of practical action that would help identify existing obstacles is therefore fully justified.
Timothy Kirkhope (PPE-DE), in writing. I and my British Conservative colleagues are strong supporters of providing support to victims of sexual abuse and other crimes during and after conflict. We support measures outlined in this report including prosecuting those responsible for genocide and war crimes and other crimes mentioned in this report.
However, we have abstained on this report today because we do not support the principle of arbitrary quotas of men or women in any sphere, including what is suggested in this report. This principle of quotas, we believe, is demeaning to women.
Ole Krarup (GUE/NGL), in writing. Even though the report as a whole is progressive concerning the situation of women in armed conflicts and their role in the reconstruction and democratic process in post-conflict countries, we have decided to abstain due to the paragraphs which state support for the European Security and Defence Policy.
Tobias Pflüger (GUE/NGL), in writing. (DE) The militarisation of the EU is being driven forward under cover of the deployment of women in armed conflicts.
The core elements of Mrs De Keyser’s report, which really do have to do with women in armed conflicts, are generally good in themselves, but the rapporteur has proved unable to draw a line between the actual subject of the report and general positions on the EU’s military policy. There are no fewer than seven positive references to the current ESDP, which devalue the report and make it impossible for me to vote in favour of it. At one point, the report goes so far as to encourage the EU to ‘give greater attention to the presence, preparation, training and equipment of police forces forming part of its military missions, since police units constitute the most important means whereby the security of the civilian population, particularly women and children, may be guaranteed.’ Precisely what the ideology of what is alleged to be ‘humanitarian intervention’ is doing in this report remains a secret known only to the grand coalition in the European Parliament that advocates, with neither ifs nor buts, the militarisation of the EU. The intention is that the deployment of women in armed conflicts should be used as a pretext for manufacturing consent to the militarisation of the EU, and it is for that reason that I voted NO to the De Keyser report. Constantly spending more and more money on armaments research and arming the EU to the teeth in order to be capable of waging war is the wrong approach. All attempts at using allegedly humanitarian motivations to legitimise the militarisation of the EU must be rejected.
José Ribeiro e Castro (PPE-DE), in writing. (PT) As rapporteur on this issue in the context of the ACP-EN Parliamentary Assembly, I addressed issues of post-conflict rehabilitation.
At the time, we felt it was of pressing importance that the issue of equality between the sexes in conflict prevention and resolution should be incorporated, and that women should take part in the political decision-making process and in defining conflict resolution strategies.
I wish to reiterate the need to offer resolute support for women combatants, refugees, victims of physical violence and victims of sexual abuse. We must remain permanently vigilant and must show greater resoluteness and solidarity when it comes to these shocking acts.
I regret that the rapporteur emphasises the suffering of women in conflict situations in order to impose and export her notion of ‘sexual and reproductive health’, including the promotion of abortion, which is certainly not accepted by all Member States. As I have said before, I will not vote for a text that fails to clarify this concept and that extends its remit beyond the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases, such as HIV/AIDS, and beyond the provision for women of the decent conditions they need for pregnancy, childbirth and post-childbirth.
Jonas Sjöstedt and Eva-Britt Svensson (GUE/NGL), in writing. Even though the report as a whole is progressive concerning the situation of women in armed conflicts and their role in the reconstruction and democratic process in post-conflict countries, we have decided to abstain due to the paragraphs which state support for the European Security and Defence Policy.