Andreas Mölzer (NI). – (DE) Mr President, in view of the real floods of migrants, illegal immigration into Europe and associated crime are increasingly becoming a burning problem. The only way we will be able to save these illegal immigrants from perishing most miserably on the journey or eking out their existence in the EU under slave conditions is to carry out educational work in their countries of origin and be strict about sending illegals back home. That is what is called for now, as we should conclude from the Cavada report.
Hubert Pirker (PPE-DE). – (DE) Mr President, decisive action needs to be taken against smuggling. Smugglers now earn similar amounts to drug dealers. The European Union has deployed a large number of measures to combat smuggling, but those measures are not enough. I am therefore glad that the European Union is now negotiating with the United Nations and has signed a supplementary protocol guaranteeing that in future joint measures will also be taken with other countries beyond the European Union to combat smuggling.
I therefore backed the European Union’s signing of the supplementary protocol because it creates a further weapon in the fight against smuggling and thus also against organised crime.
Hubert Pirker (PPE-DE). – (DE) Mr President, my declaration relates to the second subject area, namely traffic in human beings. As in the case of the smuggling of migrants, the European Union also signed an additional protocol on trafficking of persons. Human trafficking is another of the major crimes of the present age and generates millions in profits at the expense of individual people.
The European Union adopts appropriate measures but is not able to deal with the problem on its own, hence the need to seek cooperation with countries outside the Union. The United Nations protocol gives us a new instrument of international law, enabling all states affected by the problem to adopt more appropriate measures than hitherto in their efforts to combat human trafficking. In this way we are adopting a humanitarian act on the one hand while fighting internationally organised crime with a very efficient additional instrument on the other.
Carlos Coelho (PPE-DE), in writing. (PT) Trafficking in human beings has reached alarming proportions. It is estimated that some 700 000 people around the world fall victim to this crime every year.
This is a transnational phenomenon that requires a joint response from the international community, coordinated between the various stakeholders involved. There needs to be effective cooperation in the fight against organised crime, by means of, for example, harmonising definitions of individual offences in the different national legal systems, mutual legal assistance and joint investigations.
The international community took a major step forward with the adoption of the United Nations Convention Against Organised Crime, ratified by 121 countries, plus the European Community, which is the first legally binding global instrument designed to combat criminal networks.
I welcome the fact that Portugal is one of these countries and hope that the other seven Member States that have yet to ratify it will do so at the earliest opportunity.
I welcome the conclusion of this protocol, which provides for stringent measures to combat trafficking in human beings, especially women and children, by protecting such persons against slavery, sexual exploitation and illegal employment. It also offers victims legal and material assistance, and provides for their physical and psychological recovery.
Véronique Mathieu (PPE-DE), in writing. – (FR) Human trafficking affects more than 800 000 people a year. This 'trade', which is linked to organised crime, is as profitable as the international arms and drugs trades. The aim of human trafficking is sexual or economic exploitation, and it thus constitutes a modern form of slavery, showing complete disregard for the basic right to human dignity. It will be difficult and expensive to combat this scourge, because the traffickers' networks are often international, and they benefit from the disparities between national laws and from loopholes in the coordination system.
I voted in favour of the Council's proposal on the conclusion of two additional protocols to the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organised Crime, because they strengthen the coordination and harmonisation of procedures.
However, even though some progress has been made with regard to stopping and prosecuting traffickers, it is still absolutely vital to give the victims better protection. The fact that these people are victims, and the rights related to that fact, need to be better recognised and applied; we need to systematically put forward measures to provide legal, material and psychological aid, and grant temporary residence permits or provide repatriation assistance. Those victims who have the courage to denounce their traffickers deserve particular protection, because they often live in constant fear of reprisals.
Gérard Deprez (ALDE), in writing. – (FR) Each year, almost 800 000 tonnes of car batteries, 190 000 tonnes of industrial batteries and accumulators and 160 000 tonnes of portable batteries are placed on the market in the European Union. These batteries contain heavy metals (mercury, lead and cadmium) that are harmful to the environment and to human health.
Despite this, only six Member States have so far implemented a national collection system with a view to recycling used batteries. Of those six, Belgium is the star pupil: it collects getting on for 60% of batteries.
I am in favour of the directive on which we are going to vote, which aims precisely to set up a system of this kind throughout the EU by 2008.
Some of the proposed measures particularly deserve our support: the general ban on marketing batteries and accumulators containing excessive quantities of heavy metals; the setting of quantified collection and recycling objectives; the requirement to state the true lifespan on the label, in order to inform consumers; and support for research aimed at developing more environmentally friendly batteries and new recycling techniques.
David Martin (PSE), in writing. Given that in 2002 almost half of all portable batteries sold in the EU-15 Member States were eventually incinerated or disposed of in landfills, this report is an important piece of environmental legislation.
The main points raised in this report cover the most important measures of reducing the harmful effects of battery waste.
The report requires Member States to ensure that manufacturers design appliances in such a way that spent batteries and accumulators can be readily removed, and that appliances be accompanied by instructions containing consumer information. Producers will now be required to finance any net costs arising from the collection, treatment and recycling of waste batteries and accumulators, regardless of when these were placed on the market. The capacity labelling of all portable and automotive batteries and accumulators will be introduced no later than 12 months after the date of transposition of the directive.
I agree that the report should promote research to make batteries less environmentally harmful and to encourage the development of new recycling technologies and that a 50% recycling target should be set for non-hazardous batteries.
Jeffrey Titford (IND/DEM), in writing. In the depths of darkest East Anglia, are the good burghers crying out for a directive making it compulsory for batteries to be recycled? No. I suspect that most people haven’t even thought of it and even if they become aware of this latest over-zealous piece of EU legislation, they will place the dud batteries from their transistor radios in the dustbin.
In the preamble to this directive it states: 'It is desirable to harmonise national measures concerning batteries and accumulators'. Who decided it was ‘desirable’? It is certainly an odd expression to use in this context. A woman may be desirable but another dopey set of rules for harmonising the way we deal with batteries and accumulators – I think not.
However, this legislation places the entire financial burden of introducing these new recycling and disposal facilities on the producer. Surely, in a sane world, i.e. one without the EU, when someone buys a product, he becomes responsible for its safe disposal. The 'producer must pay for disposal principle' is a part of the EU mindset.
Stop dreaming up new ways to increase the cost of producing anything. Businesses will not be able to afford to pay these extra costs.
Ilda Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) The report before us today adopts the Council common position of 12 June 2006 on the European Social Fund for 2007-2013. I wish to state that there are some, albeit not enough, positive aspects in this position and others to which we object.
Among the positive points, we wish to highlight social inclusion and gender equality. The common position falls short, however, on areas such as the promotion of the quality of work, and a more proactive contribution towards reducing income disparities and social inequality with the objective of genuine economic and social cohesion.
It is a position that continues to reduce the scope of application to policies closely related to the guidelines and recommendations in the context of the European Employment Strategy and the Lisbon Strategy, which we know has served to exacerbate inequalities and to promote the deregulation of the labour market.
It is up to the Member States to define their priorities and the areas to be funded; in other words, there is some leeway for the Member States to implement it correctly.
Hence our abstention.
Thomas Mann (PPE-DE), in writing. – (DE) I voted for Mr Silva Peneda's report. Three quarters of the amendments tabled by our Committee on Employment and Social Affairs were accepted by the Council, acting by a qualified majority, and then by the European Commission. The Austrian presidency of the Council played a vital role in securing the compromise; once again, its good work has borne fruit. It has breathed life into the concept of 'flexicurity', working for flexible labour markets while defending social security and winning the approval of people in employment as well as those affected by unemployment.
The European Social Fund contributes to economic and social cohesion and is compatible with the new Lisbon Strategy. It fosters employability through the creation of local partnerships and job-creation companies, especially in structurally weak areas. It helps to combat youth unemployment and long-term unemployment, to overcome the shortage of skilled labour and to reduce social exclusion and discrimination.
I welcome the signs of willingness to involve the representative bodies of management and labour more fully in the design and implementation of projects. The ESF is to develop into a guarantor of quality that supplements national programmes effectively rather than replacing them. It makes important contributions to efforts to meet the challenges posed by globalisation and demographic change and to kick-start urgent reform of Member States' economic and social policies.
David Martin (PSE), in writing. Over the last programming period and now within the enlarged Union, there has been a sense of the growing importance of protecting the environment whilst ensuring economic growth, improving access for the disabled to publicly financed facilities ensuring equality of treatment and eliminating discrimination in all its forms.
This report has paid particular attention to enabling a greater number of disadvantaged and underdeveloped regions to catch up with those which are more developed. The regional competitiveness and employment objective also remains a central element of regional policy and a high level of available resources will be concentrated on those priorities.
Parliament has cooperated in negotiations with both the Presidency and the European Commission and one of Parliament's main achievements was obtaining a substantial increase in the financial resources dedicated to territorial cohesion, an important objective in the context of enlargement.
Parliament has not only been successful in the above-mentioned points, but its voice has also been heard in the areas of partnership. Under the General Regulation, greater involvement of civil society and NGOs is desirable. The Commission will make a statement on the abuse of Structural Funds by organised crime.
Brigitte Douay (PSE), in writing. – (FR) I voted in favour of Mr Hatzidakis's recommendation laying down general provisions on the Structural Funds, and I was pleased to see that the new generation of programmes will be able to start in early 2007, which is vital for the continuity of activities in the Member States.
I nevertheless find it regrettable that, following the agreement on the financial perspective, the funds allocated to the structural policy for 2007-2013 are below the initial demands of Parliament and the European Commission.
With regard more specifically to the regulations, Parliament can take pride in the fact that a number of its demands have been taken up by the Council, in particular greater consideration for disabled people and sustainable development.
The new regulations will allow us to pursue the European Union's cohesion policy, which aims to develop the poorest areas and to improve the competitiveness of the EU as a whole.
Emanuel Jardim Fernandes (PSE), in writing. (PT) The adoption today of the legislative package on cohesion, namely the proposal for a regulation on the general provisions of the Structural Funds, is a vitally important factor in the EU Member States and regions being able to finalise the national frames of reference and operational programmes, and begin to use the European funds from January 2007.
As a result of fruitful negotiations with the Council, the text of the proposed regulation welcomes almost all of the main points that Parliament had raised in its provisional report adopted in 2005.
It is regrettable that the amount originally proposed by the Commission, which had Parliament’s full support, for specific funding for integrating the outermost regions into the internal market, compensating for their particular difficulties, has not been enshrined.
In addition to additional funding for the outermost regions, a maximum cofinancing rate of 85% of eligible expenditure has been provided for.
Most importantly, special transitional – and more beneficial – arrangements have been laid down during the phasing-in stage of the new Regional Competitiveness and Employment objective for the autonomous region of Madeira.
I shall therefore be voting in favour of this recommendation.
Jean-Claude Fruteau (PSE), in writing. – (FR) Although I regret the fact that, on 17 May 2006, the European Parliament validated the next Financial Perspective for 2007-2013, we now have to come to terms with the meagre sums that emerge from it if we are to define the role and determine the size of the Structural Funds for the next few years.
With this in view, I am delighted with the clarity of the way in which European regional policy has now been constructed, focused as it is on three new objectives that are more coherent and more easily identifiable.
I am also pleased that the significant reductions in the level of funds now available to the EU will not have disastrous consequences for the outermost regions whose specific handicaps, as well as their underdevelopment, make it crucial for them to receive the aid supplied by Community instruments designed to promote solidarity.
In this way, the outermost regions will remain eligible for such aid in terms of the ‘Convergence, competitiveness and territorial cooperation’ objective (formerly Objective 1). The additional specific allocation of EUR 35 per inhabitant will also enable us in part to meet their needs. Finally, the objective of ‘European territorial cooperation’ will enable the outermost regions to extend the work already done on developing synergies with neighbouring states in the Indian Ocean and the Caribbean.
For all these reasons, I have voted in favour of the report by Mr Hatzidakis.
Pedro Guerreiro (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) The common position adopted today sets out the interinstitutional agreement giving tangible form to the financial framework for 2007-2013, in which the Structural Fund is EUR 28 billion down on the Commission’s proposal, a reduction from 0.41% of Community GNI in the current financial framework to 0.37%. This will undermine effective economic and social cohesion, real convergence and the redistribution effect of the Community’s budget.
There has been a significant shift in the objectives of the Structural Funds, whereby the accent is placed on competitiveness and on business interests, in line with the neoliberal Lisbon agenda, at the expense of cohesion. The key objectives of the Funds are therefore public-private partnerships, the commercialisation of knowledge and research and the adaptability and mobility of the workers.
The N+2 rule has been kept and there is no guarantee, at least on the Council’s part, that the money from the Structural Funds that has been cut and not implemented will continue to be used solely in this area.
I also wish to point out that the concessions granted at the December 2005 European Council on the eligibility criteria for cohesion countries in exchange for a cut in funds can now be extended to the remaining Member States.
We therefore voted against.
Carl Lang (NI), in writing. – (FR) There are three reasons why the increase in the Structural Funds which, between 2007 and 2013, will represent 35.7% of the European Union’s budget, that is to say EUR 307.9 billion, is a sham as far as France is concerned.
Although more than 16% of Brussels’s budgetary revenue comes from French taxpayers, the proportion of European regional expenditure allocated to France keeps on falling and has been reduced from 10% in 1994 to less than 8% today. Thus, the cantons of France’s Hainaut region, despite being affected by massive unemployment, are no longer entitled to Structural Funds under Objective 1.
Moreover, the increase in the share allocated to the regional budget is at the expense of the common agricultural policy, of which France is still the main beneficiary.
European regional policy is, above all, an economic sham. In France, the Structural Funds are mainly intended for industrial regions in decline and for the redevelopment of rural areas, in other words for the victims of policy made in Brussels. Such policy is heavily responsible for ruining our agriculture and destroying whole swathes of our industry.
Dimitrios Papadimoulis (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (EL) I did not vote (abstained) on the amended Hatzidakis report, because in it Parliament basically departs from its initial positions on all the major issues and countersigns the Council's common position, which weakens regional and social cohesion policies.
In other words:
- the resources available have been reduced from 0.41% for the period 2000-2006 to 0.37% for the period 2007-2013. Resources have been reduced by EUR 28 billion compared to the Commission's initial proposal, which for Parliament was the minimum financing needed in order to support cohesion and the environment;
- it abandons Parliament's position on the recycling of appropriations lost due to the strict application of the n+2 rule for regional policy. Thus, the lost appropriations, which are expected to be high, will return to the national budgets of the richest Member States, at the expense of the poorer states and regions;
- it accepts clearly weakened financial support, both for the 16 regions which will fall victim to so-called 'statistical convergence', which include three Greek regions (Attica, Central Macedonia and Western Macedonia) and for the 12 'natural convergence' regions, which include two Greek regions (Sterea Ellada and the Southern Aegean);
- it agrees to the extension of the n+2 rule to Cohesion Fund projects, which will cause additional difficulties and losses.
(Brief reasoned vote in accordance with Rule 163 of the Rules of Procedure)
Carl Schlyter (Verts/ALE), in writing. (SV) These funds should only go to the very poorest parts of Europe. As things stand, the money is going to regions that are relatively well off. This is unacceptable.
Georgios Toussas (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (EL) The framework decision on the Structural Funds is being used by the ΕU and centre-right and centre-left governments in order to speed up the objectives included in the anti-grassroots Lisbon Strategy, strengthen competitiveness and increase the profitability of capital, which is being promoted through capitalist restructurings and by striking at the wage and social rights of the workers.
The resources of the Structural Funds are being channelled to sectors which are of interest to the profitability of capital and, at the same time, 'crumbs' are being given in order to 'defuse' grassroots indignation and bring the working and grassroots class movement under control.
While social and regional inequalities are worsening in the EU, the weight of the Structural Funds in its budget for the period 2007- 2013 is being reduced from 0.41% to 0.37%. At the same time, use is being made of the enlargement of the ΕU and urban statistics to exempt from financing areas which have major economic problems and huge infrastructure deficits.
The group of the Greek Communist Party in the European Parliament will be voting against the framework decision.
Pedro Guerreiro (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) Under the Council common position on the new Cohesion Fund regulation, in common with the previous financial framework the Funds remain contingent on compliance with the Stability and Growth Pact and the Maastricht nominal convergence criteria. That is to say, a cohesion country with a lower level of economic development is penalised twice over. Being in a state of crisis it will fail to meet the Stability and Growth Pact criteria, and it will also run the risk of having its money from the Cohesion Fund taken back. This is tantamount to blackmail, which is unacceptable.
We are also very much opposed to the extension of the N+2 (N+3) rule to the Cohesion Fund, taking account of the specific nature and the objectives of this fund. It should be borne in mind that this rule, imposed by Germany in the previous Financial Framework 2000-2006 on the remaining Structural Funds, involves a cut in the funds not already implemented within two years (three years). This clearly runs counter to the objective of the Structural Funds. This new condition could have an even greater impact than the Cohesion Fund, taking account of the funding of major projects, giving rise to bigger difficulties in implementation and financing.
James Nicholson (PPE-DE), in writing. Today we have had the debate on Structural and Cohesion Funds and cross-border cooperation. As far as the latter is concerned we have had this experience in Northern Ireland for many years and it has worked. However, recently this has not occurred. ICBAN – one of the longest established funding bodies has through its make-up become unbalanced. On the ICBAN board there are twenty members, only three of whom are now from the unionist community. The body is no longer balanced and is now discriminating against the unionist community. It no longer has the support of unionists in the area. This body has responsibility to spend EUR 25 million in the coming years. This is an unacceptable situation which must be brought to an end. If this discrimination continues then ICBAN funds must be frozen until there is total fairness.
Charlotte Cederschiöld, Christofer Fjellner, Gunnar Hökmark and Anna Ibrisagic (PPE-DE), in writing. (SV) We have voted in favour of two reports that are aimed at reforming the EU’s Structural Policy. The work that is now under way on the reform of this policy area is an important step in the right direction.
Generally, however, we advocate a more restrictive stance on EU regional aid. We do not support regional contributions being used to finance housing or tourist activities. Nor do we support the proposed approach to research, which would extend a single research area to various seats of learning, rather than concentrating it on a smaller number of sites.
Ian Hudghton (Verts/ALE), in writing. I supported amendments in the name of the Verts/ALE Group which sought to adopt guidelines on fair competition, social standards and environmental protection for tramp vessel services. These amendments also called for special account to be taken of the specific situation of small and medium-sized ship owners.
Unfortunately these amendments were defeated. The resulting report overall goes against proposals by the Commission aimed at breaking down cartels in maritime transport. Therefore I voted against the final report because I believe that in many respects the Commission’s original proposal was better suited to lowering maritime transport costs, without endangering the reliability of services.
Fernand Le Rachinel (NI), in writing. – (FR) Maritime transport represents approximately 45% of the European Union’s external trade in terms of value and almost 75% in terms of volume. Applying the general rules of competition law to international tramp services and cabotage does not in reality present any problem as these activities are already deregulated and operate on the basis of fair competition.
It is abolishing the exemption, granted in 1986, of liner conferences from the competition rules that, alone, has been the subject of genuinely bitter discussions between all the players in this sector. I think that the solutions produced by Mrs Wortmann-Kool’s and my own reports in this regard are perfectly balanced and respect the interests at stake.
Indeed, there is not at present any evidence that the liner conference sector needs to be protected from competition in order to provide its services.
In order to preserve the legal certainty of the maritime sector, it seemed necessary, moreover, to lay down guidelines enabling operators to adapt to the new regulatory framework and to facilitate a smooth transition to a competitive regime. If all the precautions taken by Parliament in this matter are respected, there is no doubt that maritime transport will benefit.
Hynek Fajmon (PPE-DE). – (CS) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, I should like to explain why I voted against the Lamassoure report on the EU’s system of own resources. I voted this way along with the other MEPs from the Czech Civil Democratic Party (ODS). I strongly believe that the reform of the EU’s system of own resources agreed between the Council and the Commission is a decent compromise, which Parliament should not have torpedoed. On the contrary, Parliament would have been well advised to show its support for such progress. Above all, we welcome the fact that no European tax will be introduced in the foreseeable future. Broadly speaking, the current system works and guarantees proper funding of the Union. There is therefore no real reason to jettison it and replace it with a new system. Accordingly, I cannot accept the critical stance of the Lamassoure report.
James Hugh Allister (NI), in writing. Even after the British rebate is taken into account the EU is scheduled to cost the UK £4 298 million in 2006. Considering that the net cost has been of this order every year, it is staggering just how much of our national resources we have poured into the black hole of Europe. And for what? Think of the real infrastructural change this vast volume of money could have made if spent internally on the real needs of the UK since 1973.
Though there are now 25 Member States, the UK this year will contribute one eighth (12.4%) of the total budget revenue of £83 billion required to fund the EU in 2006. Little wonder the tide of Euro-scepticism continues to rise. At a time of acute pressure on our health service and vital education sector, it is appalling that we are wasting so much taxpayers' money on a failing political union. With Blair having agreed to surrender the British rebate by stages and as the real cost of enlargement builds, the situation will only get worse.
Jean-Pierre Audy (PPE-DE), in writing. – (FR) I voted in favour of the excellent report by my colleague, Mr Lamassoure, on the proposal for a decision of the European Council on the system of European Communities’ own resources. In order to move ahead with the construction of a political European Union, we urgently need to reform its budgetary framework. The difficult achievement of an agreement on the financial perspective 2007-2013 by the European Council in December 2006 and the Commission’s proposals do not make the Union’s funding transparent, since it appears that we are getting further away from the principle of budgetary equity which currently underpins the Member States’ contributions to the Union’s operations. The debate on own resources, against the backdrop of the prospect of a federal Europe, will probably be one of the thorniest political issues to be faced in the future. Nevertheless, in the immediate future and in view of the current deficiencies in European finances and those of the main net contributing Member States, I wonder whether the time has come to set up a great European investment loan in order to fund all of the major infrastructures (space, motorways, high-speed railways, communication technologies, ports, airports, and so on) which are necessary for economic development and social progress.
Charlotte Cederschiöld, Christofer Fjellner, Gunnar Hökmark and Anna Ibrisagic (PPE-DE), in writing. (SV) We have today voted against Mr Lamassoure’s report on a Council decision on the European Communities’ own resources. While it is important that a budget process that is more efficient and transparent be created for the EU, we reject any notion of future tax-levying by the EU on the likes of energy, VAT or corporate income.
Lena Ek (ALDE), in writing. (SV) I have chosen to abstain in the vote on the report on the proposal for a Council decision on the system of the European Communities’ own resources.
As problems and opportunities become more and more cross-border in nature, the European Union is becoming an ever more important forum for solving such problems and best exploiting such opportunities. While I hope that the process of better legislating can clear up a whole raft of issues that I believe should be handled at the national level – and indeed why not even the regional level – I see that the majority of areas that are so important for European citizens need a common approach.
The issues in question are, amongst others, the environment, research and development and energy, these being areas where we can create healthier surroundings with more jobs and long-term growth. In principle, I am therefore in favour of a new system of financing for the Community. On the other hand, I do not believe that the current contributions from the Member States, which are more a reflection of the ability to negotiate rebates than of what the Member States see as the needs within the EU, should be replaced by a new form of own resources based on energy, VAT or corporate income, as proposed by the Commission. That would not be a more equitable system. I am, nevertheless, in favour of large parts of the report on which we are voting. Clearly, simplification and greater transparency are things that I welcome.
Jean-Claude Fruteau (PSE), in writing. – (FR) Over and above the political agreement on the Financial Perspective for 2007-2013, the negotiations that took place at the meetings of the Council on 15 and 16 December 2005 confirmed the need to change the own resources system.
At a time when European integration appears to have stalled – due in particular to the tendency to take refuge in national self-interest and to the disjunction between the people and the Community institutions – the non-transparent nature of this bargaining and the fact that each Member State wishes to view the budgetary issue solely in terms of its own particular interests have highlighted the urgency of providing ourselves with a clear and unambiguous own resources system that, as far as possible, extricates the EU from current contingencies in relation to national budgets.
It is vital that the European Parliament, as the representative of the nations, take part in this process. Mr Lamassoure’s report, which is being put to the vote today, is part and parcel of this process, and its conclusions – which tie up with a large proportion of the concerns expressed above – are along the right lines, designed as they are to bring about a Europe that is in control of its financial resources and closer to the people.
Even though I should have liked the possibility already to have been mentioned of a European corporate tax as a new own resource for the EU, I have therefore voted in favour of this document.
Bruno Gollnisch (NI), in writing. – (FR) The Lamassoure report is basically about the EU bringing about a situation in which it has comprehensible own resources that match its aspirations and that do not depend on contributions by the Member States and its doing so, of course, between now and 2008 and without waiting for the multiannual programming of the budget to come to an end. It has to be deduced from all this that Parliament wants to see a European tax, and quickly.
What is it playing at? This is a veritable assault on democracy in which the ground rules that have only just been established for the next six years are to be changed in barely two years’ time and to be so just after the expected changes in government in several Member States, notably in those whose populations rejected the Constitution. An unspoken attempt is manifestly being made to create a state, because an organisation with tax-raising powers is effectively a state. It may not have a constitution and it may lack legitimacy, but it is a state all the same, empowered, like the Member States, to put pressure on the taxpayer.
With its powers in the commercial sphere, the European Union has had properly coherent resources that have genuinely been its own, namely customs duties. Ever since it was founded, the EU has been contriving to destroy those resources. What it should, therefore, be doing is reinstating them. This would be a sensible thing to do, increasing its resources and protecting the European economies against unfair competition.
Pedro Guerreiro (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) As regards the system of own resources for 2007-2103, the Council opted to maintain the British cheque (except for enlargement expenditure) and to extend similar privileges to the other net contributors, namely Germany, Austria, the Netherlands and Sweden, by reducing VAT rates and direct GNI contributions and the increased rate of retention of traditional own resources, as well as ‘cheques’ under the Structural and Rural Development Funds.
These reductions will be paid for by the other Member States including cohesion countries, which will be penalised twice over. They will be paying bigger contributions to the Community budget and the Structural and Cohesion Funds will be reduced.
This situation is unfair and unacceptable and on its own justifies our vote against.
That being said, there are those who advocate a new system for own resources based on European taxes, which we oppose.
We feel that a fair system of own resources must be based on GNI and on relative wealth of each Member State, whereby the budgetary contribution effort should be the same for all citizens right across the EU. This would deliver solidarity and redistribution, alongside spending, bearing in mind the objective of genuine convergence and economic and social cohesion.
David Martin (PSE), in writing. I abstained on the Lamassoure report on own resources even though it included several good ideas for improving the present system. I could not agree with the rapporteur's view about the UK abatement. I remain convinced that this is justified under the present system and that wider reforms need to be undertaken before any further changes are made to the UK rebate.
Jean-Claude Martinez (NI), in writing. – (FR) Bearing in mind that the US budget, for one year alone, amounts to USD 2 500 billion, it is obviously untenable for the EU to have, for everyone, a budget of less than EUR 1 000 billion for 2007 to 2013.
Initially, and in order to give itself some room for manoeuvre without increasing its budget, the European Commission is gradually eliminating the common agricultural policy and Europe’s small farmers in order to recover most of the EUR 45 billion spent each year on the agricultural budget. Hence, the unlikely position taken by the European negotiators who, at the meeting of the World Trade Organisation on 30 June 2006, accepted, behind the scenes, a 50% reduction in our customs duties, thereby leaving Brazil with a monopoly on food. The basic problem remains intact, however. Everyone knows that, as from 2014, Brussels-centred Europe will be doomed to increase its budget and to create a European tax.
Behind the smoke and mirrors, the Lamassoure report’s talk of own resources raises the political issue that has been dragging on since 1951 and that concerns the actual emergence, by way of a single market and then a single currency, of a political state. What the euro did not do and what the Constitution failed to do, because the nations woke up to what was happening, taxation is set to do between 2014 and 2019. Taxpayers have been warned.
Andreas Mölzer (NI), in writing. – (DE) The discussion about the EU budget has hitherto focused exclusively on constantly increasing the size of the budget and seeking new sources of revenue. Instead of clamouring automatically for a European tax, we should be subjecting the expenditure structure to close examination. Billions of euros from our common budget continue to seep out into dubious channels or are cast aimlessly to the four winds.
For this reason, the first thing we need is a top-class anti-fraud system; secondly, we need to curb administrative expenditure through measures such as the abandonment of one of the seats of Parliament and the assessment of expenses on the basis of actual costs incurred; thirdly, there are billions to be saved by not foisting enlargements on our unwilling citizens.
Frédérique Ries (ALDE), in writing. – (FR) In the light of the very technical report by my fellow Member, Mr Lamassoure, concerning the EU’s own resources, I think it vital to draw attention to the idea put forward by Belgium and by Guy Verhofstadt a few years ago: that of giving the EU genuine financial autonomy via the introduction of what has been called a European tax.
An additional tax? Surely not. The idea is simply that, rather than pay what is due to Europe to their own nations, Europeans should be allowed to fund the EU directly, in the way that Americans fund the federal state. For the individual European, it is a plan that would, therefore, have no great significance at all from a financial point of view but that would be pregnant with symbolism, since everyone would thus be made aware of the portion of his or her tax devoted to European integration. I would point out, incidentally, that Europe costs each European 26 cents per day.
Although the plan is warmly welcomed by certain Member States (notably Austria and Luxembourg), others remain nervous about an instrument intended, nonetheless, to bring Europe closer to its citizens. The plan would also enable us to leave behind the sterile debate between states that are net contributors and those that are net beneficiaries. Europe would then, most certainly, have resources in keeping with its ambitions.
José Albino Silva Peneda (PPE-DE), in writing. (PT) The current method of funding the Community budget has become obsolete, and in recent years the shortcomings have come to the fore.
Recent budgetary debates have turned into a humiliating exercise in which we end up discussing, one by one, who is and is not a net contributor. The current system, with so many exceptions and derogations, has become complex and opaque.
In this context, the EU urgently needs to reform its funding system.
I therefore welcome the fact that Parliament has managed to introduce an interim review timetabled for 2008/2009 into the negotiations on the latest financial perspective 2007-2013. This will provide a unique opportunity for a root and branch assessment of the system of own resources.
As Mr Lamassoure said in his report, I am in favour of a Community budget funding system that is transparent, fair and equitable, one that provides the EU with a financial framework that matches its current priorities and its legitimate ambitions.
The guiding principle behind any reform should be the financial independence of the EU in relation to the Member States’ current transfers, and the strengthening of the European character of the budget. This will ensure that future debate will not once again descend into a battleground of Member States’ national interests.
Ilda Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) The five biggest non-financial multinationals in the Top 7 since 1990 had assets of around USD 1 280 billion in 2003, in other words over 3% of the world’s GNI. The biggest financial multinational, Citibank, alone had that amount in assets, which demonstrates the power that the financial sector wields in the real economy.
The real aim of what is referred to as consolidating the financial services sector is to consolidate the internal market for financial services and to integrate the financial markets, with a view to scrapping the barriers to the free movement of capital that still exist, and to encourage company mergers and acquisitions, in sectors such as banking, to enable them to compete in the globalised market.
We are opposed to this trend, as expressed in the resolution before us, of which the euro is an instrument and the objectives of which are laid down in the financial services action plan.
The gradual financialisation of the real economy has not only led to significant job losses, it has also helped to turn the real economy into a parasite economy by diverting manufacturing investment, and to encourage financial, and subsequently economic, crises due to the extremely volatile nature of the financial markets and the speculative bubbles that they create. This casino economy has only increased the profits of the major brokerage firms, especially in the banking sector.
Malcolm Harbour (PPE-DE), in writing. The UK Conservative Delegation abstained on the final vote of this report. We endorse many of the proposals in the Szejna report on developments in and prospects for company law, in particular, the need to apply better regulation principles, the necessity to take account of the needs of SMEs and the importance of developing best practice which respects the different traditions and systems of Member States. We also support many of the detailed proposals for improving transparency and the rights of stakeholders.
However, there are a number of proposals that we cannot support, as they would introduce additional EU regulations in areas where there would be no demonstrated benefits to the evolution of an effective internal market for financial services. We also endorse the benefits for companies of involving their employees in workplace decision-making, but reject the imposition of any ‘one size all’ statutory model of participation. We therefore voted against Paragraph 3 and Recital F.
Ivo Strejček (PPE-DE). – (CS) Mr President, I wish to explain my vote on the Lucas report, which in common with the other MEPs from the Czech Civil Democratic Party (ODS) was a vote against. Air transport has undergone rapid development over the past 40 years, which has led to a 40%-plus fall in emissions and noise. There is no scientific evidence that we need the kind of excessive regulation proposed in the Lucas report. Raising fuel taxes will reduce the competitiveness of Europe’s air carriers and raise prices for the end user. Weakening the competitiveness of air transport will hamper the EU still further on the world stage. This is simply further evidence of the current fashion for environmental concerns, which is why we voted against.
Robert Evans (PSE). – Mr President, I voted on the Lucas report in support of measures to lessen the impact on climate change. It is vital that all industries play their part, including the aviation industry.
However, we need to ensure that measures we propose are both sensible and practical. Merely increasing taxes will not by itself reduce emissions. Neither can the aviation industry trade emissions with itself: it needs to do so in cooperation with other industries.
Of course, air travel has increased over the years, as it is no longer restricted to just the middle classes and the rich. For example, in the UK alone, 30 million people – i.e. half the population – travel by air at least once a year. These people all welcomed the European initiatives that encouraged low-cost airlines and forced the major carriers to reduce their fares. Thus the European public do not support the aim of some colleagues in the House to outlaw low-cost budget airlines or force them out of business.
This same public, though, is concerned about climate change. They want a fair and sensible taxation system and measures that must be taken in cooperation between government and industry. All these measures must be considered in relation to the needs and wishes of these consumers in a way that ensures that environmental concern is at the very top of the agenda.
Liam Aylward (UEN), in writing. I welcome the Commission Communication of September 2005, which begins to address the most effective ways of tackling the international increase of greenhouse emissions' increase of 73% from 1990 to 2003.
The extension of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) to the aviation sector may be the best way forward to limiting these emissions and to ensuring that aviation, like all other sectors, contributes to reducing harmful greenhouse gases.
The most important issue moving forward is to examine the effectiveness of the technical design elements for the policy to deliver its full potential for environmental and economic efficiency, while also giving special attention to the situation of Ireland and other isolated territories, which are so particularly dependent on air transport services, both capital and regional areas.
In addition, the impact on prices and the allocation of emission rights need further examination. Given Ireland’s geographical circumstances, aviation is a critical element of our infrastructure, with air services being of vital importance for economic and social reasons. Consequently, a competitive market between air transport operators is necessary for Ireland’s economic competitiveness.
Charlotte Cederschiöld, Christofer Fjellner, Gunnar Hökmark and Anna Ibrisagic (PPE-DE), in writing. (SV) We Swedish Conservatives would like aviation to be included in the European Emissions Trading Scheme. That would be an effective and fair way of internalising the environmental costs that aviation causes, in accordance with the ‘polluter pays’ principle.
We regret the fact that the Swedish Government has chosen to implement a special arrangement for flight taxes in Sweden. To do so distorts competition and weakens Sweden’s competitiveness whilst providing only small benefits to the environment, or none at all, in comparison with the introduction of emissions trading for aviation.
The fact that the report advocates the introduction of a separate emissions trading scheme means that we Swedish Conservatives are unable to support it. A separate system means that we risk achieving a lower total reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, and, what is more, at a significantly higher cost than is necessary. We Swedish Conservatives do believe that emissions trading should be introduced, but this must be done in the right way.
The dramatic reduction in the price of flying in Europe is a basically positive development that has brought prosperity, freedom of movement and interaction between people. We regret the fact that the rapporteur and the majority in this House seem to be of the opposite opinion, and we do not, therefore, back the calls in the report for further tax rises of various kinds on aviation.
Robert Evans, Mary Honeyball and Linda McAvan (PSE), in writing. Labour MEPs fully support action to combat the climate change impact of aviation. We support the principle of inclusion of aviation emissions in the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) and ask the Commission to come forward with workable proposals. We abstained on some paragraphs in this report which were contradictory or whose implications have not been fully costed or worked out.
Glyn Ford (PSE), in writing. I will be voting for this report on reducing the climate change impact of aviation. Aviation is one of the most rapidly growing sources of greenhouse gases.
In terms of raising this important issue, I agree with the rapporteur almost entirely. Nevertheless some of her proposals, for example the immediate introduction of kerosene tax on VAT or all intra-EU flights or the establishment of a separate emissions trading scheme for aviation, have neither been costed nor impact-assessed.
Equally, the problems of peripherality in my own region of South-West England mean that special attention must be paid to the most isolated areas, such as, in my region, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. In the case of Gibraltar, a particular complex of geographical and political isolation has been caused by the attitude of the Spanish authorities. Therefore I look forward to the Commission using this report as the basis for bringing forward costed and workable proposals for action.
Françoise Grossetête (PPE-DE), in writing. – (FR) Yes, aviation is a factor in climate change. Although aviation fuel has become increasingly efficient in the course of the last 40 years, total fuel consumption has at the same time increased because of the large growth in air traffic. A situation must be prevented in which aviation emissions become a long-term major contributor to climate change.
There is no quick technical solution. That is why it is vital to bank simultaneously on integrating the impact of aviation into the Community emissions rights exchange system and on pursuing research, improving the management of air traffic and introducing energy taxation.
This new sally against climate change should not, however, be engaged in at any price.
The system to be put in place must not penalise our European airlines in the world market, and any unfair competition with other forms of transport should also be prevented.
The choices shortly to be made by the Commission in its legislative proposal are therefore of vital importance, and the various options will have to be assessed very carefully.
I urge the Commission to propose solutions that are rational in both economic and environmental terms. It must avoid at any price creating a pernicious system in which the weight of bureaucracy puts European aviation out of the running in the international market.
Caroline Jackson and Timothy Kirkhope (PPE-DE), in writing. British Conservatives have voted in favour of this report because we recognise the impact aviation emissions have on climate change. They account for some 4% of carbon emissions in the EU and air traffic movements are set to double by 2020 compared to 2003.
We are in favour of including aviation emissions in an emissions trading scheme, either by addition to the present scheme or possibly within a more limited scheme. This would allow the airlines to cooperate with the national and EU authorities to apply rules that meet their aims of achieving the highest possible environmental standards without unduly penalising EU travellers and, if they are operated on flights into and out of the EU, operators would pay no more than their non-EU competitors. Any EU scheme would best be operated eventually as part of a global approach.
We are not in favour of a kerosene tax or including air travel within the VAT system. We do not want to damage the EU air transport industry and the public’s reasonable expectation of cheaper air travel.
We look to the Commission to learn from its early mistakes in the emissions trading system and to pilot an ETS for the aviation industry.
Caroline Lucas (Verts/ALE), in writing. (PT) Air transport is the most commonly used method of long distance travel, and this has had a serious environmental impact in terms of greenhouse gas emissions.
I feel that emission charging and emission trading licenses is an appropriate way of addressing the problem. I also welcome the inclusion in this proposal of internal flights and flights starting or finishing in the EU, and the creation of a single European airspace, which will make it possible to cut down on air routes.
Nevertheless, I believe that the attention must be paid to the special case of remote, outlying regions that are difficult to access, and therefore highly dependent on air transport.
I am therefore only supporting the report because the amendment providing for special attention to be paid to the outermost regions and remote regions has been adopted. Such regions would have been seriously harmed had the new aviation charges been applied uniformly across the European area.
Sérgio Marques (PPE-DE), in writing. (PT) Air transport is the most commonly used method of long distance travel, yet the emissions from aviation run counter to the global objective of reducing emissions.
The measures proposed in this report, especially emission charging and emission trading licenses, strike me as an appropriate way of addressing the problem of the influence of aviation.
Another important proposal in the report is the inclusion of internal flights and all flights that start or finish in the EU, with a view to preventing market imbalances. The report also proposes that a single European airspace be set up, which will make it possible to cut down on air routes, given that more direct flights will involve less gas emission.
There is one detail, however, to take into account, which is the unique context of the remote and outermost regions. I am therefore supporting the report because the amendment providing for special attention to be paid to the outermost regions and remote regions has been adopted. Such regions would have been seriously harmed had the new aviation charges been applied uniformly across the European area. Given that access to these regions is difficult and time-consuming, air transport is extremely important to them.
David Martin (PSE), in writing. I voted for the Lucas report on the impact of aviation on climate change. I fully support action to combat the climate change impact of aviation. I also support the principle of the inclusion of aviation emissions in the Emissions Trading Scheme and hope the Commission will come forward with a workable proposal. I abstained on a number of paragraphs simply because I do not believe the impact of the proposals has yet been fully evaluated. For example, I abstained on the call for an end to VAT exemption for air transport because it is not clear if this will help tackle climate change or merely hurt the less well-off traveller.
Claude Moraes (PSE), in writing. I fully support action to combat the climate change impact of aviation. I support the principle of inclusion of aviation emissions in the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) and support the call for the Commission to come forward with workable proposals. I abstained on some paragraphs in this report which were contradictory or whose implications have not been fully worked out.
Frédérique Ries (ALDE), in writing. – (FR) More than a year ago, together with 13 of my Belgian fellow Members in the European Parliament, I signed a petition in La Libre Belgique, asking the 25 Heads of State or Government to go beyond the objectives of the Kyoto Protocol.
Of the proposals put forward, the one to be given priority was about including emissions from the aviation and maritime transport sectors in the forthcoming climate protection plans.
That is why I am delighted today with your ambitious vote on the Lucas report, which anticipates a whole battery of measures to combat the environmental impact of aviation including, in particular, the end of the exemption of aviation fuel from VAT.
The current situation is worrying. Aviation emissions cancel out a quarter of the modest results obtained in the fight against greenhouse gases. Let me be clear. It is not a question of imposing taxes indiscriminately but of bringing to an end an imbalance that does not sufficiently encourage the aviation sector to invest in the new technologies, with the environment being the first to suffer. Global warming is the major challenge of the 21st century, and Europe must, emphatically, continue to set an example.
Peter Skinner (PSE), in writing. I agree with the general thrust of this report, but believe that there are still considerable problems with the result of today’s vote: firstly, that the impact of the suggestions is largely uncosted and has a disproportionate impact; secondly, that the Emissions Trading Scheme should include air transport but that there should not be a separate scheme which runs by its side. This would undermine the current ETS.
Some of this report contradicted the very workable proposals of the Commission and as such made little sense.
Margie Sudre (PPE-DE), in writing. – (FR) Although the objective of reducing the climate change impact of aviation, notably by reducing CO2 emissions, is much to be commended, I think it vital for our Parliament to take account of the situation of the most remote regions of the EU.
If removing the aviation industry’s exemption from VAT and introducing a tax on kerosene were to become real options, the effect on the economies of the most isolated regions, as well as on the mobility of their populations, would be disastrous.
That would be true, in particular, for island regions, which have neither road nor rail links with the rest of the EU, and even more so for the outermost regions, in which people depend exclusively on air transport in order to get about.
I would thank Members of the European Parliament for having adopted my amendment asking that Community legislation give particular attention to the most isolated territories that are heavily dependent on air transport and, in particular, the islands and outermost regions, where the alternatives to air transport are either extremely limited or, indeed, totally non-existent.
Glenis Willmott (PSE), in writing. I fully support action to combat the climate change impact of aviation emissions in the Emissions Trading Scheme and ask the Commission to come forward with workable proposals.
I abstained on some paragraphs in this report that were contradictory or whose implications have not been fully costed or worked out.
Jean-Pierre Audy (PPE-DE), in writing. – (FR) I voted in favour of the excellent report by my colleague, Mrs Korhola, on the compromise reached with the European Council on the draft regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council in the field of information, public participation and access to justice in environmental matters. I am pleased that wisdom has been applied to this difficult issue, the legal complexity of which has greatly delayed its political adoption. The transparency achieved for programmes funded by the European Investment Bank is excellent. The role of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) has quite rightly been defined in this measure by referring to ‘responsible’ NGOs. The compromise achieved by Parliament’s delegation led by Mr Vidal-Quadras is fundamentally satisfactory and well balanced. Adoption at third reading is, in the end, a success for the European Parliament.