Andreas Mölzer (NI). – (DE) Mr President, I voted in favour of the Roure report on the grounds that the war on terror is, for the USA, a welcome pretext for compelling others to hand over personal information. European data protection provisions, however, categorise the USA as a third country with poor data protection security, something irreconcilable with the agreement on passenger data, which is itself worthy of criticism. It would also appear that the banks, too, are being blackmailed into disclosing the movements of funds. While one would hope that all these things are being done only for good purposes, the EU must stop lending legitimacy to the concept of the transparent person, and should instead get back to taking data protection seriously.
Hélène Goudin and Nils Lundgren (IND/DEM), in writing. (SV) The report is clearly a further step towards total harmonisation of the Member States’ criminal justice systems. As always, proposals of this kind involve a protracted and very complicated compromise between the countries. The June List is always a devoted adherent of the Member States’ right to self-determination in criminal law, and we are very concerned about legal certainty. Among other things, the report would, under certain conditions, entitle private actors to acquaint themselves with very sensitive personal data, a development that, in the opinion of the June List, cannot be regarded as offering sufficient legal certainty. It is true that Parliament’s amendments contain certain guarantees of legal certainty for individuals, but the proposal as a whole entails a major step towards supranational control of what is at the heart of the right to self-determination of a state governed by the rule of law, namely criminal law.
Athanasios Pafilis (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (EL) The Greek Communist Party voted against the report because, despite the individual improvements which it proposes to the proposal for a directive of the European Commission, it basically accepts its entire underlying philosophy, which is no less than the unlimited and, from a practical point of view, uncontrollable facility for the prosecuting authorities and repressive mechanisms not only of the Member States of the EU, but also of third countries (aka the USA) and even of private individuals, to collect, process and exchange all the personal data of each citizen of the EU, including data relating to their political and trade union activities and their ideological, philosophical and religious convictions.
The sights of the gigantic data-recording mechanism being promoted by the ΕU are now set on every EU citizen, in that the personal data of every person can be collected and transmitted without their even being suspected of an offence, purely and simply for reasons of public order and security.
The right to privacy and the protection of personal data is basically being abolished in that, with the proposed directive on the so-called protection of personal data, the exceptions to this protection are institutionalised as the rule, though a simple and uncontrolled reference to reasons of public security, while the protection of data is the exception, which it is almost impossible for anyone to impose.
Jean-Pierre Audy (PPE-DE), in writing. – (FR) I voted in favour of the report by Mr Diaz de Mera Garcia Consuegra on the proposal for a decision of the European Council on the PERICLES programme for the protection of the euro against counterfeiting. This issue is essential to the proper functioning of our single currency, and I am delighted that the decision is being extended to Member States that are not part of the euro zone. It is important to note that, while the number of counterfeit euro notes appears to have stabilised at 50 000 per month, we are seeing a worrying explosion in counterfeit coins. We should therefore consider whether it may be in our interest to look into the introduction of a one euro note, following the example of the one dollar note in the United States of America, in order to prevent counterfeiting and also because it would be of some practical use to commerce and to the citizens.
Fernand Le Rachinel (NI), in writing. – (FR) Since the euro was introduced and the Member States’ national currencies correspondingly withdrawn, there is just one encouraging development to be noted: the reduction in counterfeiting.
In 2005, the total number of counterfeit euro coins withdrawn from circulation was substantially lower than the total number of counterfeit coins in the former national currencies before the introduction of the euro.
This is due, in particular, to the constructive cooperation between the anti-fraud office, or OLAF, the European Central Bank, Europol, Interpol and the competent national authorities.
Beyond straightforward counterfeiting, there has also, however, been the recent emergence of new coins confusingly similar to two–euro coins. Since 1 January 2005, Turkey does, in fact, have a new coin, known as the ‘new Turkish lire’. Looking at the new one-lire coin, you can see that it is of exactly the same size and appearance as the two-euro coin. Is this a coincidence or a clever piece of counterfeiting? Wait and see ...
The problem is that these Turkish coins are already circulating in Europe, no doubt in anticipation of Turkish accession to Europe, as announced by our leaders and eurocrats, regardless of the will of the nations themselves.
Let us be vigilant. Turkey is closer than ever to our gates.
Carl Schlyter (Verts/ALE), in writing. (SV) I am abstaining in the vote on this report because I believe that the EU should invest as many resources in protecting the Swedish krona and other EU currencies as in protecting the euro. The fight against counterfeiting is, of course, a good thing in itself, especially when it is based on cooperation and conferences and not on increased police supervision.
Bruno Gollnisch (NI). – (FR) Mr President, we did not vote for Mr Demetriou's report, even though it is a substantial improvement on the proposal for a framework decision tabled by the Council. Why did we not vote for it? Because, in spite of everything, this whole instrument is still remarkably ambiguous. What exactly does it mean that criminal decisions taken in a Member State will be taken into account? Will they be taken into account to avoid the application of the double jeopardy rule, in order to avoid unfair double convictions? That would be perfectly natural.
On the flip side, however, does it mean taking them into account in order to suggest that someone is guilty on the basis of actions that are not regarded as criminal in their country of origin? For example, will the historian David Irving, who is currently unjustly imprisoned in Austria for a thought crime, be regarded, when he returns to his country, which we hope will happen soon, as a criminal and persistent offender, when he is doubtless the greatest British Second World War historian?
Those are some of the ambiguities contained in this text, which, in our view, justify our reticence, all the more so because there is a convention on this matter, the convention of 1970. As the report quite rightly states, a framework decision cannot unilaterally amend an international convention. This also raises the problem of the States that are not Members of the European Union but that nevertheless ratified that convention. This reservation, which we have developed since ratification, presents a new problem in international law, which we would prefer to regulate under the terms of the international conventions.
Jean-Pierre Audy (PPE-DE), in writing. – (FR) I voted in favour of the excellent report by Mr Demetriou on the proposal for a Framework Council Decision on taking account of convictions in the Member States of the European Union in the course of new criminal proceedings. The functioning of the single market and the mobility of Europeans within the Union makes it essential to define the conditions under which convictions in the Member States must be taken into account in the course of new legal proceedings involving different cases in another Member State. It has become essential to establish the principle of mutual recognition of convictions, together with the gathering and exchange of appropriate information that would naturally accompany that. This is a necessary, though not sufficient, condition if we are to move towards a European judicial area in the belief that European democracy must be based on law and, conversely, that the law must stem from democracy.
Hélène Goudin and Nils Lundgren (IND/DEM), in writing. (SV) The June List believes that legal certainty for individuals is a very important issue that should not be compromised on. Criminal law goes to the heart of a country’s sovereignty and right to self-determination. There is no doubt that widely different legal cultures exist at present within the EU, just as there are widely different attitudes to legal certainty and the impartiality of the courts. The proposal is in danger of undermining the Hague convention governing the international scope of criminal courts, which was signed back in 1972 and has operated successfully since then.
True, the June List believes that Parliament’s amendment is better thought-out, but it also believes that the proposal as a whole is a further step towards a supranational union. We are therefore voting against the proposal on grounds of principle.
Sylvia-Yvonne Kaufmann (GUE/NGL), in writing. (DE) One absolute principle in all modern codes of criminal law is that of nulla poena sine lege, according to which criminal penalties may only be applied to something that was punishable as a crime at the time the deed was done.
What this means is terms of this framework decision is that a sentence previously handed down in state A may not be taken into account in a new criminal trial in state B if the relevant act was not a punishable offence in B under that state’s own laws. Since this can, ultimately, be determined only by, for example, a judge in state B repeating the whole proceedings from state A complete with the collection of evidence – which would involve such things as re-interviewing witnesses and would be neither desirable nor workable – it must be sufficient that he should have good reason to doubt that the act was punishable. If a judge has such doubts, he should no longer be allowed to take such a previous conviction into account.
It is regrettable that this is not expressly stated in this framework decision. I would have tabled an amendment to it, had it not been for the fact that the time available for discussion of amendments in committee ran out, since the deadline for handing them in fell in the summer recess and the vote took place immediately following it without further debate in committee. I find this highly regrettable, since a bit more time would have made it possible for the problem I have described to be avoided.
Timothy Kirkhope (PPE-DE), in writing. We need to stress that cooperation rather than harmonisation must underlie any measure in this area. This report is no doubt worthy, however we need strongly to reiterate the prime importance of respecting different national legal traditions rather than following too prescriptive a path. Therefore, my British Conservative colleagues and I have abstained on this report.
Athanasios Pafilis (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (EL) The report moves in the direction of homogenising the rules of criminal procedure and the 'communitisation' of criminal law at EU level, within the framework of the implementation of the Hague Programme on the creation of a single area of security, freedom and justice.
It proposes the amendment in an even more reactionary direction of the proposal for a Commission decision, in that it provides the facility to take account in a Member State of sentences handed down in another Member State of the ΕU against a person, even if the deed for which they were sentenced is not a criminal offence under the law of the state in which it is taken into account.
In this way, Euro-unifying legislation is adding yet another tool to the effort to impose on national criminal legislation the supranational arrangements of the ΕU, which will determine the acts which it judges should be classified as criminal.
It is yet another step which tightens the noose around personal freedoms, targets action by the mass grassroots movement and creates the preconditions for the movement's fighting activities to be classified as criminal.
The Greek Communist Party voted against the report and calls on the workers to step up their action through the workers' and grassroots movement to defend democratic rights and grassroots freedoms.
Christopher Heaton-Harris (PPE-DE). – Mr President, I voted against my party's whip with regard to the Capoulas Santos report on the fisheries agreement with Guinea-Bissau. Over the last seven years I have become increasingly concerned about the nature of the various fisheries agreements the European Union has with many and various countries. This has been reflected in my voting up until this point.
A few years ago I read the Court of Auditors’ report on a number of these fisheries agreements which raise particular questions and doubts as to whether there are benefits to the countries concerned. Certainly there is little benefit to the local fishing communities, and certainly no benefits to the ecology of the local fisheries. I especially dislike the fact that the EU is hoovering up fishing rights on the cheap for rich and mainly Spanish fishing fleets to abuse, and thus I voted against this particular report.
Duarte Freitas (PPE-DE), in writing. (PT) The extension of this Fisheries Agreement will allow for better preparation for the new Partnership Agreement between the EU and Guinea-Bissau.
The main difficulty currently facing the Community fleet concerns the manifest lack of resources for the inspection and surveillance of the country’s exclusive economic zone, that is to say, outside the 12-mile zone. The result of this lack of resources is illegal practices that are jeopardising the sustainability of the fishing activities of the Community fleet.
This extension will also maintain the fishing opportunities for the European fleet and will enable the Guinea-Bissau Government to guarantee best fishing practice for the EU on the basis of the sustainability of the resources concerned.
I shall be voting in favour of this report.
Alyn Smith (Verts/ALE), in writing. Mr President, today we are asked to approve yet another fisheries agreement exporting our disastrous policies to a third country. These agreements do not serve development, conservation or the credibility of the EU and I shall continue to vote against them.
Christopher Heaton-Harris (PPE-DE). – Mr President, I did not vote on draft amending budget No 4, the Pittella report. This is not because I have no respect for the rapporteur – in fact I have a huge amount of respect for Mr Pittella and I am quite sure that this particular adjustment in the budget is fine. But I do have a definite problem with the process: a qualified majority vote without an indication of votes, no check of votes on the floor and absolutely no scrutiny of the process behind this.
I would like to reflect many of my constituents’ worries about the European budget. I was recently at meetings in both Daventry and Brixworth in my region, where concern was expressed that the budget is not spent or implemented properly. Transferring huge amounts of money between budget lines, which does not reflect Parliament’s considered political view at the time of the budget process, is a worrying development that is happening more and more. Thus I did not vote on the Pittella report.
Lena Ek, Cecilia Malmström and Anders Wijkman (PPE-DE), in writing. (SV) Today, we have voted on an amending budget affecting the income side of the EU budget. The amending budget includes, for example, the recalculation of the contributions necessary for funding the British rebate. We find it unfair and antiquated that a Member State should have been placed in this kind of unique position and we wish, in this connection, to emphasise the importance of reviewing the EU budget planned for 2008/2009. It is crucially important that this review should cover the British rebate as well as the common agricultural policy.
Hélène Goudin and Nils Lundgren (IND/DEM), in writing. (SV) We have voted against this report because it rejects the Council of Ministers’ draft amending budget no. 3. Unlike the majority in the Committee on Budgets, we believe that the Council of Ministers is perfectly entitled to redistribute expenditure between the EU’s different institutions during the budget procedure if it thinks this the right thing to do.
Ilda Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) With the adoption of the Progress programme, all of the Community actions that were previously spread across different programmes have been brought together, for example the fight against discrimination, the Community strategy for equality between men and women, incentives in the area of employment, activities relating to working conditions and actions in the fight against social exclusion.
During the debate and negotiation stage we were able to improve upon various aspects of the Commission’s original proposal on Progress, which now includes a number of proposals put forward by our group on the opinion of which I was draftsman on behalf of the Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality. Unfortunately, however, the important aspect of the cofinancing contribution was not amended. This represents a backward step for associations working in the area of poverty and social exclusion, given that the contribution has dropped from the 90% negotiated in 2001 to the current figure of 80%, a flat figure for all associations. There may be exceptions but it would be very difficult to gain approval for them.
This is the main reason behind our abstention on this report adopting the Progress programme.
Roger Helmer (NI), in writing. Like so much that we see in this Chamber, the objectives of this programme are well-meant.
Yet I doubt that it will achieve much practical effect. The proposed budget of EUR 650 million is both too much and too little: too much because such a sum, wisely used, could potentially achieve some good; too little because at about EUR 1.50 for each EU citizen, it cannot make the broad-scale changes that are envisaged. Most of the money will go into administration, allocation and assessment, and precious little to getting results.
When will we ever learn? Over and over again we see well-meaning programmes like this that fail to deliver. Yet we keep trying again. It is a triumph of hope over experience.
Yet here we are, with yet another centralised attempt to set the world to rights. Let’s be brutally honest. The main effect of this measure will be to make us in this House feel that we have ‘done Something’. It will give us a glow of self-righteousness. But it will pass unnoticed amongst those it is intended to help.
We are fiddling while Rome burns. Or perhaps I should say fiddling while the Treaty of Rome burns.
Carl Lang (NI), in writing. – (FR) For 2007-2013, the Progress programme wants to absorb the Community programmes on social protection, working conditions and so on into a single text. This mish-mash is just yet another socially useless instrument along the same lines as the ineffective 'Lisbon Strategy' for European economic growth.
This programme also quite clearly has an ideological slant. Whilst gender equality and consideration for the needs of disabled people are very laudable objectives, the defence of 'people potentially exposed to discrimination on grounds of racial or ethnic origin, religion or beliefs, disability, age and sexual orientation' may be a way of silencing opposition to the immigration policy currently being pursued by the Member States, which has been threatening our social protection systems for 30 years.
Quite apart from its costs, this draft strengthens the powers of the European bureaucracy in Brussels, which bears a large part of the responsibility for the ruin of many of our industries, for the destruction of our countryside and therefore for the social regression from which the peoples of Europe are suffering.
Only a new Europe of nations, based on national solidarity, will enable true social progress in our countries.
Sérgio Marques (PPE-DE), in writing. (PT) The overall objective of the Community Programme for Employment and Social Solidarity, or Progress, is to provide financial support for implementing the objectives of the EU in the area of employment and social affairs and to help achieve the targets of the social agenda in the context of the Lisbon Strategy.
The partial political agreement on a common position already incorporates most of Parliament’s amendments to the text of the proposal. Broadly speaking, Parliament, the Council and the Commission have taken the same line on this programme.
I therefore lend my full backing to the text of the common position, which creates the conditions in which the proposal for a decision establishing the programme can be quickly adopted. This text does not change the substance of the Commission’s original proposal, but it does bring greater clarity and transparency to the implementation of the programme and above all to budgetary questions.
José Albino Silva Peneda (PPE-DE), in writing. (PT) As Europe grows older and the economy becomes ever more globalised, it has become increasingly necessary to attach special importance to social policy, with a view to strengthening regional and social cohesion in Europe.
The Progress programme is more than an important instrument of social policy. It is indicative of the fact that Parliament recognises that public policy continues to play a central role in promoting employment, social protection, social inclusion, favourable working conditions, the fight against discrimination, diversity and equality between men and women.
Naturally Europe must look at the economic growth indicators that it needs to improve.
Yet for this to happen the Member States need to realise that progress must be made on certain key aspects, such as making more concrete progress in the construction of the internal market.
The view that what is required is more Europe and less self-interest is a further vital factor in the success of regional and social cohesion policy.
I welcome the simplification that PROGRESS will bring, by continuing to develop activities launched by four previous programmes, in line with the Commission’s intention to consolidate and streamline the EU's financial instruments.
Bernadette Bourzai (PSE), in writing. – (FR) I voted in favour of the assent for the strategic guidelines on cohesion, but I should like to emphasise that the regional policy reform took place not only in the difficult context of the renewal of the financial perspective, but also in the context of the revival of the Lisbon Strategy, which clearly reoriented its objectives.
The fact is that reorienting them exclusively towards innovation, the knowledge-based economy and competitiveness in the old Member States is not enough to guarantee the objectives of territorial cohesion and sustainable development, which seem to me to take priority.
I deplore in particular the fact that the earmarking of appropriations in relation to the Lisbon objectives, together with the classification of expenditure, should not have been made subject to the agreement of Parliament.
I also find it regrettable that the territorial dimension of cohesion was not explicitly taken into account as a strategic guideline in its own right. Nevertheless, this is not enough for the development of isolated rural areas. I am worried about the fate that awaits them in the programme, because there is still no clear dividing line between intervention from the ERDF and that from the EAFRD, which is part of the CAP and has very limited funds.
Brigitte Douay (PSE), in writing. – (FR) The Community strategic guidelines for 2007-2013 have finally been adopted by the European Parliament. I voted in favour of the rapporteur's recommendations approving these guidelines.
Nevertheless, during the debate I drew the Commission's attention to the challenge of cross-border cooperation, which should enable us to reduce the disparities between the Union's border regions, provided the unequal amounts being allocated from the Structural Funds as a result of the statistical nomenclature do not hinder the objective of cohesion and do not increase inequalities.
It is vital that we create the conditions for balanced economic, social and territorial development on both sides of borders and pay special attention to programmes aimed at achieving cross-border cooperation.
Emanuel Jardim Fernandes (PSE), in writing. (PT) The quick adoption of Community strategic guidelines on cohesion is a vitally important factor in the ongoing process of programming assistance from the European Funds in the Member States in the field of the reform of the cohesion policy for 2007-2013, with a view to the new financial programmes being operational as of 1 January 2007.
Parliament had its say on the guidelines in its sitting of 18 May in a resolution that it adopted based on the Krehl report on preparing for the assent procedure for the Community’s strategic guidelines for the period 2007-2013 (Cohesion Policy in Support of Growth and Jobs), which I supported and on which I voted accordingly.
The recommendation on the proposal for a Council decision on Community strategic guidelines on cohesion by Mrs Krehl is based on that parliamentary resolution of 18 May.
I therefore voted in favour again.
Pedro Guerreiro (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) Now that the majority in Parliament has given its assent to the Community strategic guidelines on cohesion for 2007-2013, the Member States will submit their national reference frameworks.
We do not accept the change implied by these strategic guidelines, insofar as they make cohesion play second fiddle to competitiveness; in other words, the objective of economic and social cohesion becomes secondary to the 'Lisbon Strategy' objectives and their neoliberal agenda of liberalising the markets and public services, encouraging deregulation and reducing job security, privatising social security and selling off teaching and research to the highest bidder.
It is an agenda, in other words, that undermines economic and social cohesion and promotes territorial disparities and social inequalities.
The establishment of a minimum quota of funds for these purposes – at least 60% for convergence regions – is therefore unacceptable, as it pits contradictory objectives against one another, especially in a context in which the amount of funds has been cut to 0.37% of Community GNI from 0.41% in the previous framework.
Furthermore, we are opposed – especially in this context – to extending the use of private-public partnerships.
We therefore voted against.
Alyn Smith (Verts/ALE), in writing. Mr President, I congratulate our rapporteur Mrs Krehl on a well balanced report on this crucial issue. In Scotland we have long experience of using structural funds effectively and well, and it is vital that the funds continue to evolve to meet Europe’s needs. This report takes proper cognisance of developments and suggests a number of helpful steps forward and I welcome it wholeheartedly.
Gilles Savary (PSE). – (FR) Mr President, I should like to explain why, after yesterday's very interesting debates and today's votes, I voted against Mr Rapkay's report: it is quite simply because I cannot help but observe that it is a resounding victory for the liberals.
We voted for the deregulation of public services, against a framework directive, against the distinction between services of general economic interest and services of general interest, for the application of competition law to all services of general interest and their precise definition, against the definition of 'in-house', in other words state control, and against the specifics of the Altmark criteria. Under these circumstances, we are taking a considerable step backwards in comparison with the previous resolutions by Mr Herzog and Mr Langen in 2001, and the Commission is now proposing a new communication at the end of the year.
In other words, we are currently leaving whole swathes of Community law and local public services exposed to the uncertainties of the Court. What is meant by State control? What is meant by inter-communal structure? What is meant by mixed-economy society? What concessions need to be made to market and competition law? We still do not know, and that is why I shall continue to advocate over-arching texts that enable us to put subsidiarity on a firmer footing. Unfortunately, I think that we are far from achieving that, and that it is now a losing battle. I hope that it is not a final defeat.
Jean-Louis Bourlanges (ALDE). – (FR) Mr President, we did not vote in favour of the Rapkay report for one very specific reason: it constitutes a completely unjustified backward step in comparison with the text of the Constitution.
The text of the draft Constitution provided for a European law laying down the principles and conditions that enable us to provide, implement and fund services of general economic interest. This would therefore be what is currently called a framework directive. Not only does the report move away from this principle, but, by rejecting Amendment 10, it formally rejects and publicly expresses opposition to the Constitutional Treaty.
I am consequently most concerned about the wayward path being taken by Parliament, which claims en masse to support the Constitutional Treaty but which, when it comes to something important, and even crucial, to public opinion in some countries, pulls back with no justification.
Jean-Pierre Audy (PPE-DE), in writing. – (FR) I voted in favour of the report by Mr Rapkay on the Commission White Paper on services of general interest (SGI) because it is a balanced report. In particular, he has had the courage to point out that it is impossible to provide a uniform definition of SGIs in such a heterogeneous social and economic environment as the European Union and that, in this field, the principle of subsidiarity must be reaffirmed, leaving it to the Member States to define what should or should not be classed as coming under the general interest and directly to act in accordance with their decisions. Following the difficulties in reaching a political compromise at first reading on the ‘services’ directive, the debate on SGIs is far from concluded. It is urgent that we legislate at European level on particular sectors, namely social services and health services of general interest, in order to provide them with legal certainty. Finally, this matter will be important in terms of the competitiveness of the European area, to which we must pay close attention.
Bernadette Bourzai (PSE), in writing. – (FR) I voted against Mr Rapkay's report on the Commission White Paper on services of general interest because several amendments that were very important to me were rejected, in particular the amendment calling for a framework directive on services of general interest and those calling for clarification of the criteria distinguishing between services of general interest (SGIs) and services of general economic interest (SGEIs) and the criteria for granting compensation for the provision of public services and in-house provision.
We must not give way on these vital issues for the future of public services in our countries, and we must not take a backward step in comparison to what Parliament adopted in the Herzog resolution in 2004 and the Langen resolution in 2001, especially at a time when the Socialist Group in the European Parliament has drafted a proposal for a framework directive on general interest services that goes still further.
Emanuel Jardim Fernandes (PSE), in writing. (PT) As draftsman of the opinion of the Committee on Transport and Tourism on the Commission White Paper on Services of General Interest (SGIs), I fought for the following:
- the complete exclusion of SGIs – both non-economic (SNEGIs) and economic (SGEIs) – from the scope of the directive on services in the internal market (the ‘Services Directive’).
- the adoption, by contrast, of a framework directive, a framework legislation or a general legal framework, call it what you will, for SGIs (including SGEIs, although this does not prevent the latter from being subject to a specific sectoral regulation); and
- the definition and description of SGIs, along with a clarification of the distinction between SNEGIs and SGEIs, for the purpose of legal certainty.
Broadly speaking, I feel that these ideas have been covered in this report. I therefore supported and voted in favour of this report.
I am disappointed, however, that the report did not incorporate another of the main ideas that I put forward in the opinion of which I was the draftsman, namely a recognition, in the context of SGIs, of the unique situation of the outermost regions, in view of the particular structural and permanent obstacles that they face.
Anne Ferreira (PSE), in writing. – (FR) I voted against Mr Rapkay's report for the following reasons. First of all, the Commission is not requested to propose a framework directive on services of general interest. There is now a threat hanging over administrations, mixed-economy societies and inter-communal structures, due to the risk of disputes in the name of competition law. Mr Barroso made no mistake when, during the debate in plenary, he observed that there was no consensus on a proposal for a framework directive.
By refusing to define services of general interest and the specific law applicable to them, the Commission is leaving public services subject to the rules of the market, and hence to competition law.
Now is no longer the time to publish yet another communication, or to put forward new sectoral proposals. We expect the Commission to respect Parliament's decisions and to proceed as soon as possible to an evaluation of the liberalisation policies being pursued. We know that the results are a long way off the published objectives.
This resolution does not look at services of general interest as a fundamental pillar of the European social model, or as a means of achieving the EU's objectives in terms of society, the economy, the environment and territorial cohesion.
Ilda Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) We voted against this report because its broad premise is to submit public services to competition and to a future internal market for services, in light of the compromise reached by the Council over the notorious Bolkestein Directive.
At the same time, it covers up the effects of the sectoral liberalisations that have already taken place in areas such as transport, energy and communications. Contrary to what is claimed, and as many user groups and consumer protection organisations have proved, liberalisation has led to more difficult access to services, lower service quality, higher prices and the loss of thousands of jobs, on the pretext of sectoral restructuring.
The idea of dividing services of general interest into economic and non-economic, from a commercial perspective, is actually part of an attempt to put almost all public services at the mercy of the market.
Our position is to defend the exclusive competence and sovereignty of the Member States in defining how public services are to be funded and how that funding is to be organised. After all, public ownership is a fundamental element in protecting high-quality public services, so as to guarantee universal access throughout EU territory, supply at socially fair prices and the democratic involvement of end users in defining, managing and determining the quality of these services.
Bruno Gollnisch (NI), in writing. – (FR) Mr Rapkay’s report on services of general interest, whether economic or otherwise, promises us yet more convoluted European legislation and further interference on the part of the Commission in the budgetary and fiscal systems of the Member States and their local authorities, all of which is in flagrant breach of the principle of subsidiarity, which is nonetheless mentioned time and again by the rapporteur.
The people of Europe must be constantly reminded that the liberalisation of public services, with its all too familiar consequences, is the Commission of Brussels’ way of holding the Treaties to legal ransom.
The fact is that the market, on its own, cannot guarantee either the quality or the completion of all of the tasks relating to these services, regardless of whether they are connected to society, territorial planning or strategic and national interests.
Public services, whether profitable or not, must come under the exclusive power of the Member States, in terms both of their definition and of their organisation, the appointment procedures, the number and nature of the bodies to which they are entrusted and even the funding methods.
Jean Lambert (Verts/ALE), in writing. I voted against the Rapkay report because I consider that the final text did not provide adequate support for services of general interest (public services). Directives on a sectoral basis alone will only result in ‘salami slicing’ of the overall public interest and carve out sectors for business benefit. There are aspects of social services which support the educational sector, forms of housing which serve a general public interest even if not expressly dealing with a deprived social sector etc. – a sectoral approach is not enough. As we have so often done in the environmental domain, we need an overarching framework directive first, setting out the general interest before we embark on specific sectors. We can find a legal basis. It is not enough for people to say this lies within the competence of Member States when those same Member State governments are using market rules, the Services Directive and other means to achieve liberalisation by the back door. I hope those who supported the amendment on liberalisation, who voted against a horizontal directive and voted for the final report will be able to explain to their colleagues in local and regional government why they are not defending more strongly the public services their colleagues have to deliver.
Carl Lang (NI), in writing. – (FR) Mr Rapkay’s report on services of general interest (SGIs) is initially appealing. It talks about more being done to protect public services and the principle of subsidiarity, about democratic respect being shown for national traditions and about the definitions relating to SGIs being clarified by means of the specific introduction of the concept of services of ‘non economic’ interest.
These good intentions may fool people, especially when the draft framework directive now seems to have been abandoned. However, a good many binding rules are going to compete with the Member States’ prerogatives, such as their control over funding methods. The door therefore remains open for a wayward pro-European path to be taken in future.
Finally, it is clearly impossible for me to vote in favour of this text, as it refers to the Constitutional Treaty – the Constitution – which the report maintains would provide better guarantees for SGIs faced with the current mess that European legislation is in. I would point out that the European Constitution was democratically rejected by the people of the Netherlands and of France.
This text, which, in the end, takes neither side in the debate, only warrants a vote of abstention.
Marie-Noëlle Lienemann (PSE), in writing. – (FR) I voted against the Rapkay report. It does not acknowledge the need for a framework directive for SGIs and SGEIs and thus leaves the door open for a continuation of the current process of deregulation, which jeopardises our public services, as well as the opportunity for everybody, no matter where they live, to access these vital services.
A framework directive should guarantee standardisation among users, equality among the citizens and the regions, territorial planning and the long-term continuity of the services provided, as well as a quality standard level.
We must, as a matter of urgency, stop this across-the-board liberalisation, which satisfies neither the employees engaged in these activities nor the citizens.
Athanasios Pafilis (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (EL) Services of general economic interest, with the distinction between their economic and non-economic aspects, are in the sights of big business, with a view to commercialising the satisfaction of basic grassroots needs and increasing their profits.
The ΕU is intensifying the ban on state aid on the pretext of protecting competition and promoting the full liberalisation and privatisation of services with a view to permitting the penetration of big business. Within the frameworks of the single market and the stability pact, the Member States are selling off the grassroots wealth, thereby strengthening the plutocracy. According to the ΕU, services profitable to capital must be sold off.
The results of this policy will be particularly painful for the workers: the loss of thousands of jobs, worse industrial relations and a fall in the standard of living. The consequences, which we have already seen in services which have fallen victim to capitalist restructurings and the privatisation policy, will be particularly adverse for all the users of these services, especially the grassroots classes.
The Greek Communist Party voted against the European Parliament resolution which accepts the division of services of general interest into economic and non-economic services and promotes the selling off and commercialisation of these services. It supports the workers fighting for better and cheaper public services for the benefit of the standard of living of the people and not of the profits of the monopolies.
Luís Queiró (PPE-DE), in writing. (PT) Regardless of the capitalist and market economy model that we advocate, there will always be a need for public services to be provided by public bodies, either directly or indirectly. Accordingly, and given that this issue comes up in various Community measures – if only for the purpose of excluding it from their scope – it is understandable that the Commission should submit its opinion on this issue.
That said, I wish to make three reservations, mindful of future developments. Firstly, the EU is not in a position to provide services of general economic interest, and this is increasingly true of services of general interest as well (any exceptions should ideally be based on cooperation between the Member States); legislation on these services should increasingly be at national level, although it should also comply with the rules of the internal market and the principles of freedom of establishment and freedom to provide services.
Lastly, I am dismayed that the resolution on this issue calls on the Commission to submit a comprehensive analysis ‘of the effects of liberalisation to date, in particular on the situation of consumers and the employees affected’. The term ‘affected’ introduces an ideological angle in a context that should be impartial.
José Albino Silva Peneda (PPE-DE), in writing. (PT) The EU’s internal market has already proved successful in liberalising a large number of sectors of its services, which has ultimately benefited European consumers and employees.
In order to give the European economy fresh impetus, however, the EU must make another qualitative leap ahead to complete its internal market and thus to derive maximum benefit from it.
This leap ahead could be made by means of initiatives in the area of services of general interest (SGIs), public services that are not of a commercial nature and that are financed mainly by public funds.
I believe that the precise definition, formulation, organisation and funding of SGIs should rest exclusively with the Member States, reflecting the reality in the Member States and respect for regional and local autonomy.
The provision of SGIs at local, regional and national level has been at variance with Community legislation. These services occupy a legal grey area at European level, given that it is unclear what rules apply to SGIs – as regards, for example, competition, public competitions and the internal market. The case law of the European Court of Justice has done little to clear the fog.
I support the report insofar as it promotes a clear distinction between, on the one hand, the implementation of Community law and, on the other, the pursuit of objectives in the public interest in the provision of SGIs.
Othmar Karas (PPE-DE). – (DE) Mr President, the Austrian People’s Party delegation voted ‘yes’ to the first part of paragraph 69, on the grounds that we see this as a process with an open outcome, whilst rejecting the second part on the grounds that it contradicts the first. In the final vote, though, despite the majority support for the second part, we voted in favour, taking the view that this report does not pass judgment on the ultimate objective, but rather on the progress of negotiations to date, and that it constitutes a critical and objective discussion of the European Union’s shared laws and resolutions rather than a final vote and statement. I wanted to make this statement for the avoidance of inconsistencies and misinterpretations.
Michl Ebner (PPE-DE). – (DE) Mr President, I have voted, deliberately and with conviction, in favour of the first part of paragraph 69 and against the second, taking as I do the view that the good work done by Mr Eurlings and many other Members does in fact amount to an enumeration of issues and situations that militate against Turkish accession, and that is a reason why the negotiations should not have accession as their final objective.
It is for that reason that I have voted against the report as a whole. We should focus on paragraph 71 by trying to find a way of tying Turkey into the European structures, and we should do the same for other neighbouring countries to which the prospect of Member State status should not be held out and that we do not in any case believe capable of achieving it.
Andreas Mölzer (NI). – (DE) Mr President, even though there is no doubt that it has a number of good or interesting points – not least the way it makes clear that Turkey is not ready for Europe and also that it probably never will be – I voted against the Eurlings report, and I did so on the grounds that the Turkish Government is doing nothing more than indulging in window-dressing, in that it has agreed on a few reforms, albeit without implementing them, not to mention the fact that we are not getting any closer to solving certain problems with considerable potential for doing damage, such as the conflict over Cyprus, the Kurdish problem or the acknowledgement of the Armenian genocide. All these matters should have been resolved long before negotiations started, all the more so in view of the EUR 1.3 billion that the Turks have been given over recent years in pre-accession aid. I believe it is now time that we did what Europe’s citizens have been doing for some time, and said an honest ‘no’ to the accession negotiations.
Jacques Toubon (PPE-DE). – (FR) Mr President, many of us abstained from voting on the Eurlings report, and we did so for the following reasons.
We would have voted in favour of this report because, as I said yesterday, it is the most critical report ever adopted in this Parliament on the subject of Turkey’s behaviour towards the European Union. Unfortunately, Parliament, by means of its vote, has rejected the recognition of the Armenian genocide as a prerequisite for accession and, in spite of our vote and that of a number of our fellow Members, has also adopted a provision that implicitly provides for accession as the only outcome of the negotiations.
We disagree on these two points. Nevertheless, that does not mean that we wanted to oppose the efforts made by Mr Eurlings and the Committee on Foreign Affairs. They have sent out a very strong signal on behalf of this Parliament, and that is why we abstained from voting.
Koenraad Dillen (NI). – (NL) Mr President, I had originally intended to vote in favour of the Eurlings report today, even though I, as a staunch opponent to Turkey’s accession, believe that this report overlooks the essence of the matter, but a number of amendments, particularly those on Armenia, prompted me to change my mind during the voting procedure, and so I ended up voting against this report.
What the Eurlings report did do, though, was to prove that the mood in this Parliament and in Europe has shifted in the right direction in the past two years and that we have become more aware of the many points on which Ankara is failing to fulfil the Copenhagen accession criteria. It was therefore a good thing that the rapporteur reminded us of the Armenian genocide, but today’s vote is making the Liberals, Greens and Socialists in this Parliament look like fools. They are so full of human rights and grand principles, but when the chips are down and they are faced with the realities of politics, they fail to deliver. One can hardly imagine a more selfish attitude. It appears that not every genocide is entitled to our remembrance.
The same applies to the Cyprus issue, in respect of which many in this House appear to forget that the northern half of that country, with its terrorist regime, has, for over thirty years, been kept under the thumb of Turkey, a country that can never, and indeed should never, become a Member State of the European Union.
Philip Claeys (NI). – (NL) Mr President, I too voted against the Eurlings report, because it still works on the premise that Turkey’s accession remains desirable. If, though, we were to examine the impressive catalogue of serious problems, we would know better. Taking out the key clause on the Armenian genocide is a disgrace; the actual effect of it is that we in this House are distancing ourselves from the two resolutions we have adopted on this subject in the past. It also encourages the Turkish Government to continue to pursue its policy of state-sponsored denial.
In that connection, I should also condemn the lack of stamina shown by the groups on the Left. The Walloon Parti Socialiste, for example, withdrew its support for recognition of the Armenian genocide for fear of losing votes among the ever increasing Turkish electorate in Brussels, where elections are to be held in two weeks’ time. So much for people claiming to uphold grand principles. Talk about hypocrisy!
Albert Deß (PPE-DE). – (DE) Mr President, I, too, should like to make a statement of vote in relation to the Eurlings report. Although the report contains many statements that I can endorse, I eventually voted against its adoption on the grounds that I am fundamentally opposed to Turkish membership of the European Union, whilst the report – although it does impose many conditions – does not exclude full Member States status as an objective. Another reason why I rejected it was that the report does not call for the accession negotiations with Turkey to be suspended with immediate effect.
It is intolerable that we should still be negotiating with a Turkish Government, members of which have recently compared Pope Benedict with Hitler and Mussolini. It was politicians of Turkish origin who made the most odious statements in response to Pope Benedict’s speech in my own country. On this issue, though, I shall put my trust in the people of France, assuming as I do that the majority of them will vote against Turkish accession, so that it will not come to pass.
Jean-Louis Bourlanges (ALDE). – (FR) Mr President, we, in the UDF, very strongly support Mr Eurlings’s report, because it contains some very powerful truths that must be made known. Even so, we were obliged to abstain from voting. Why? Firstly, precisely because this report seems to rule out the idea of an enhanced partnership acting as an alternative to pure and simple accession. Well, that is unrealistic, especially because, by rejecting the paragraph on Armenia, this Parliament is sending out an extraordinarily negative signal.
I would point out that, in 2004, we voted in favour of a resolution stating that we were calling for the recognition of the Armenian genocide; and that, in 2005, we voted in favour of a resolution stating that we were calling for the recognition of this genocide as a prerequisite for accession.
We have forgotten about all of that today. What message is being sent out? The message that this is a Parliament that changes its mind and that forgets about its resolutions. The message is simple – it consists in saying to the people of Turkey: you need not be in any hurry to change regarding this matter; you may continue to make the very mention of the genocide a crime of opinion; and, when all is said and done, you will not be asked to recognise this genocide. This is an extremely negative and extremely serious message. I regret that it has been sent out and that it has prevented us from voting in favour of what is, I might add, an excellent report by Mr Eurlings.
Mario Borghezio (NI). – (IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, during the debate evaluating Turkey’s supposed progress towards joining the European Union, and since we approved an important resolution on the Armenian genocide, I have been wondering what we can demand from Turkey other than a clear commitment in this area at last: specifically a commitment to respect human rights and to accept the values on which the European Union is founded.
Instead, today’s vote has yet again shown the hypocrisy of political correctness, in that it seeks to leave out the need for a clear position statement from the demands that Europe has a duty to put to Turkey's leaders and institutions – the same people who welcomed the Pope's words and forthcoming visit with vulgar, violent language and Mafia-like threats.
Europe just looks on, while their school books still teach Turkish children that the Armenian genocide is a fabrication of history. People were right to say that we should listen carefully to the criticisms levelled against those who want to rewrite history. It is disgraceful! Turkey still refuses to recognise the rights of peoples – not just the Armenians, but the Kurds as well – while Europe remains hypocritically and shamefully silent. We no longer have a Europe of human rights, but a Europe that could not care less about human rights!
Renate Sommer (PPE-DE). – (DE) Mr President, I voted for the adoption of the Eurlings report in the belief that it was good, critical, and the best report of this kind to have been put before us to date. I voted for it even though I do not like everything about it. I do not, for example, like the way this report approaches the Armenian issue. Let us imagine for a moment that the Holocaust that occurred under Hitler’s regime were, in Germany, to be always referred to only in inverted commas or described only as the ‘so-called holocaust’; that is the way in which the Armenian issue is handled in Turkey. I voted in favour of the Eurlings report even though a majority backed the inclusion of a clause stating that the objective to be aimed for had to be Turkey’s full membership of the European Union, an objective of which I am of course not in favour on the grounds that Turkey is neither ready for accession nor willing to comply with our requirements, and because I know – as does everyone else in this House – that the EU cannot afford to have Turkey as a Member State. I found it easy to vote in favour of this report, for the statements that I did not want to see incorporated, yet which nonetheless have been, and which I have just enumerated, are quite obviously so nonsensical that the report, taken as a whole, nevertheless represents a good reflection of this House’s position.
James Hugh Allister (NI), in writing. I voted against the Eurlings Report because I remain resolutely opposed to non-European Turkey obtaining membership of the EU. Those who claim that movement towards membership will induce Turkey into full democratic and human rights compliance are shown, even by the lack of appreciable progress conceded by this report, to be lamentably wrong. On reform, human rights, religious freedom, Cyprus, Armenia we have obtained nothing, but in return we have wasted, and will continue to waste, millions on pre-accession aid. Not for the first time, the EU is being taken for a ride.
The EU's lust for endless enlargement is driven by a craving for ego-building world status, which goes hand in hand with the drive for super-statehood through the rejected Constitution. Turkey's membership, even wider enlargement and the Constitution are all part of the same grand design.
Bernadette Bourzai (PSE), in writing. – (FR) One year on from the start of accession negotiations with Turkey, the Eurlings report reviews the progress that has been made and the problems that have been encountered.
With the tabling of certain amendments, it has been possible to balance this report so as to take account of the efforts made by Turkey and, at the same time, to highlight areas that remain problematic, such as Turkey’s failure to sign the Ankara Protocol and the treatment of minorities.
As regards the Armenian genocide, it absolutely must be recognised by Turkey. This recognition cannot, however, be presented as a prerequisite for accession, in view of the Copenhagen criteria.
As regards the paragraph on the possibility of enhanced cooperation between the EU and Turkey in the event of a breakdown in negotiations, such a move is not appropriate at the moment. We are in the midst of an ongoing process, and we cannot be pessimistic right from this stage about the conclusion of the negotiations.
With this vote, I want to show the considerable progress that Turkey must make in order to join the European Union, but, in doing so, I do not want to create any further obstacles to its possible accession.
In my opinion, Turkey’s entry into the EU represents both an opportunity for Turkey and an opportunity for Europe.
Marco Cappato (ALDE), in writing. – (IT) Mr President, on behalf of the Transnational Radical Party, I voted against the Eurlings report on Turkey, because Parliament is thereby authorising the European Union to shut itself off from the Mediterranean and the Middle East yet again. Instead of showing its willingness to speed up the process of integrating Turkey into Europe, Parliament is proposing alternative ways to bring Ankara closer to Brussels that have nothing to do with serious accession negotiations.
The European Union must not just shut itself off and focus solely on its Constitution, as President Barroso explained to us a few days ago. Nor should it pin its hopes on the Pope’s good offices to establish a dialogue with the Islamic world and the Middle East, as the Eurlings report suggests. Josef Ratzinger is not Javier Solana.
Instead, starting with Mr Pannella’s appeal for peace in the Middle East, we have to revive our federalist and democratic aspirations, so as to create a Europe that can include the largest possible number of people in a political project of freedom, democratic reform and peace.
Richard Corbett (PSE), in writing. I voted in favour of this report and I support the principle of Turkish accession to the European Union upon completion of the accession negotiations and provided that Turkey meets the necessary standards in terms of human rights, the functioning of the democratic system, respect for minorities and coming to terms with its past.
Lena Ek, Cecilia Malmström and Anders Wijkman (PPE-DE), in writing. (SV) Developments in Turkey are very worrying in a number of areas. A number of cases in which journalists and authors have been arrested and accused of committing crimes against ‘Turkishness’ have been observed. While these developments are naturally very worrying, Turkey’s democratic forces and forces sympathetic to reform must not be forgotten. That is now our task as the EU: to continue to help and support these forces as they set Turkey back on the right road again.
Mr Eurlings includes justified criticism of Turkey in his report, but other criticisms of his suggest that Turkey should be handled differently from other candidate countries. That is unacceptable. It is important for Turkey to come to terms with its history, including in relation to Armenia. The issue must not, however, be allowed to determine whether or not the negotiations with Turkey are to continue.
It is important for the EU to feel a sense of responsibility now and not to play into the hands of fundamentalists and reactionaries. Instead, we need to vote a balanced report through. We have therefore chosen to vote in favour of paragraph 50 and the amendments that promote a constructive approach to Turkey.
Glyn Ford (PSE), in writing. I voted against Amendment 51 from my own group to paragraph 50 of Mr Eurlings' report on Turkey's progress towards accession. I did that with some regret, but the consequence of the amendment passing would have been to delete the reference to the Assyrian community, amongst others. As someone who has consistently complained that the plight and even existence of the Assyrian community is being ignored in Iraq, it would be hypocritical of me to collude in exactly the same way for the case of Turkey. I did the same for the other amendments to this paragraph.
Robert Goebbels (PSE), in writing. – (FR) I voted against the Eurlings report because it reflects Europe’s growing hypocrisy regarding Turkey. In my opinion, Turkey is destined to become a member of the European Union: it has always been part of Europe’s political, economic and cultural past. Even though it is clear that Turkey still has more work to do in many areas, certain political forces within the Council and Parliament are multiplying the obstacles that Turkey has to overcome. I, for my part, intend to dissociate myself from these shameful tactics which, at the end of the day, are merely designed to preserve a ‘Christian Europe’!
Bruno Gollnisch (NI), in writing. – (FR) If you had not incorrectly described Turkey as a European country – which it is not – then you would not be in the position today of having to acknowledge a number of truths.
You tell us today that religious minorities, and Christian minorities in particular, are oppressed in Turkey and that respect for human rights in general, and women’s rights in particular, is not guaranteed there. You have discovered that Turkey is still refusing to recognise Cyprus - even though it is a member of this Union that Turkey wants to join – and that it frequently provokes border incidents with another Member State, Greece. You declare that Turkey is breaching one of the basic principles of the European Union, freedom of movement; and there are many more that could be mentioned.
All that you have to say on the matter is: ‘let us continue with the negotiations, but be aware that, at the last minute, we will still be able to say “No”’. Who can believe such a tale?
On 3 December 2005, you had a duty to listen to the people of Europe, the majority of whom were opposed to Turkey’s joining Europe. Your duty was to propose to Turkey a privileged partnership that respected our differences, and not this political and diplomatic farce, which is humiliating for both parties and especially for the people of Turkey.
Hélène Goudin and Nils Lundgren (IND/DEM), in writing. (SV) The report is a survey of the progress made so far by Turkey regarding its future accession to the EU. Only one chapter, ‘Science and Research’, has been opened and provisionally closed. Consequently, there is a long way still to go.
The June List does not see Turkey’s geographical position or its religion as an obstacle to possible membership of the EU. We believe that the same accession requirements should be laid down as were laid down in the case of earlier enlargements – neither more nor fewer. Turkey does not fulfil the Copenhagen criteria, so EU membership is not appropriate as matters stand.
However, it is not only Turkey that has to adapt. The EU’s agricultural policy and structural funds must be reformed. A possible future Treaty is another issue that must be discussed before further enlargements of the EU can be carried out, with particular attention being given to the voting strength of each Member State so as to prevent a situation in which a small number of large Member States become able to dominate the whole of the EU.
Both Turkey and the EU have a very long road to travel, politically and economically, before Turkish membership can be an imminent possibility. If and when that day comes, the June List would, however, welcome Turkey.
We have therefore voted in favour of this report.
Françoise Grossetête (PPE-DE), in writing. – (FR) I abstained from voting on this report.
The report presented in plenary has the virtue of finally seeing things as they are. For a very long time, Parliament demonstrated naïve optimism on this issue. This report is more solid than previous reports, but I regret the lack of courage shown by Parliament on the issue of the recognition of the Armenian genocide. That is why I decided to abstain from the final vote.
For years now, I have been opposed to Turkey’s joining the European Union, but I would ask for a privileged partnership to be set up with that country. More MEPs have now adopted this position, which was still very much a minority position a few years ago.
Turkey does not recognise one of the Member States of the European Union – the Republic of Cyprus – and has been occupying it for 30 years! Turkey does not recognise the Armenian genocide. Turkey does not approve of freedom of association, and 97% of its territory is situated outside Europe.
Europe has a duty to help this country on the road to democracy, but because of its geography, history and culture, Turkey cannot claim to be part of the European Union’s political project.
Pedro Guerreiro (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) A year on from the opening of negotiations over Turkey’s accession to the EU, the Turkish authorities have not taken any steps towards recognising Cyprus, an EU Member State. Turkey also continues its military occupation of the north of that Mediterranean island, in breach of UN resolutions that have been in place for dozens of years.
After a year of negotiations, reports have come to light of a downturn in the economic situation of the Kurdish people and of breaches of the Kurds’ legitimate political and cultural rights. News has also come of increased repression by the Turkish police and military in the region.
These two issues alone are indicative of the many questions raised by Turkey’s accession negotiations. Its accession is being promoted by the major powers in the EU, since the large economic and financial groups in those countries want to be able to exploit Turkey's economy and resources and to use its geostrategic position for their plans to influence and dominate the Middle East, the Caucasus and Central Asia. The accession process has also brought to the surface contradictions in the way the major powers share control over the EU’s decision-making process, and has served to deepen the divisions between the ambitions of the major European powers and the USA, in terms of their subordination to, or participation in, North American imperialism.
Jaromír Kohlíček (GUE/NGL), in writing. (CS) Ever since the Middle Ages Turkey has been a large entity that is beset with problems. Today the most complicated issue in relation to Turkey is that of the criteria for measuring the country’s progress. One chapter of the accession negotiations has been closed, and it has undeniably been a success. A further 28 chapters remain open, however, without even mentioning the Copenhagen criteria.
There are problems everywhere, including an electoral law that tramples on the freedoms of the citizens, women and national and religious minorities; inadequate infrastructure in the east of the country; tense relations with its neighbours; the employment structure; the manner in which the police and army investigate crime; and the occupation of part of an EU Member State. The process of implementing new laws will undoubtedly be a long and complicated one. On the other hand, I personally know a number of well-educated Turks and I know how enthusiastically they welcomed the opening of negotiations with the EU.
Following the adoption of a number of amendments which remove the most urgent problems from the report on Turkey’s progress towards accession, it is unfortunately not acceptable to the Confederal Group of the European United Left/Nordic Green Left. We therefore felt obliged to vote against the adopted wording.
Carl Lang (NI), in writing. – (FR) Mr Eurlings’s report contained some excellent passages, particularly those concerning the Armenian genocide - which the Turkish authorities refuse to acknowledge - the economic blockade imposed on Armenia and the refusal to recognise Cyprus, a Member State of the European Union.
Just one of those elements ought to lead us to the conclusion that the negotiations concerning Turkey’s accession to the European Union must be stopped. Not only does the rapporteur not come to this conclusion, but, more importantly, he does not mention the following obvious fact: Turkey is not a European country. 95% of its territory is in Asia; its capital, Ankara, is in the heart of Asia Minor; and, with the Christian communities having been wiped out during the 20th century, 99% of its population belongs to the Muslim world.
Turkey therefore has no reason to join the European Union. This obvious fact, which is acknowledged by the people of Europe, particularly in France and Austria, is not acknowledged by those who govern us. This morning’s vote illustrates this divide: not only did the majority of our Parliament vote in favour of Turkey’s accession, but they also rejected paragraph 49 calling for the recognition of the Armenian genocide, thus bowing to Turkey’s wishes.
Jean-Marie Le Pen (NI), in writing. – (FR) Despite the fact that the Eurlings report is critical regarding Turkey’s accession to the European Union, in particular by calling for the recognition of the Armenian genocide, it does not go so far as to call into question this accession.
It is true that the European Commission, Mr Chirac and the British, as the main champions of the Ottoman regime, are there to prevent any wayward paths or measures being taken that are likely to delay or prevent accession.
We, for our part, have not changed according to the circumstances and to the fluctuations in the Turkish Government, which blows hot and cold with the negotiators from the European Commission and the main Member States.
We are against Turkey’s joining the EU as a matter of principle. Turkey is not a European country and does not meet any of the Copenhagen criteria, which are meant to define a country’s accession to the European Union.
The negotiations should move in the direction of privileged partner status by maintaining the visa requirement for Turkish nationals, as is the case at present.
Turkey will not join the EU without the people of Europe’s approval. As defenders of the people of France, we will protect their interests, which hinge, among other things, on the rejection of Turkey’s accession to Europe.
Marie-Noëlle Lienemann (PSE), in writing. – (FR) I have always felt that Turkey’s entry into the EU could not be considered within the present context of European integration.
I advocate a Europe that is comprised of three circles. The first circle consists of a federal nucleus, with countries that share ambitious social objectives and the desire for a ‘powerful Europe’, a player on the international stage. The second circle groups together the existing 27 countries of the EU. In view of the difficulties and of the crucial need to consolidate this circle, any further enlargement must be ruled out.
The third circle must set up a close, global partnership with neighbouring countries in the Balkans, the Mediterranean and elsewhere. I would emphasise the importance of close partnerships with the Mediterranean region that treat Turkey and the Maghreb - as areas of the world with which our Europe has forged long-standing and important links – equally.
I therefore abstained from all of the votes except for the one on the recognition of the Armenian genocide, which Parliament has always defended, and I did so to prevent anyone from thinking that I had any reason, in principle, to be prejudiced against Turkey. This is a different view of Europe.
Patrick Louis and Philippe de Villiers (IND/DEM), in writing. – (FR) We voted against this text. It levels a criticism at Turkey, which, when all is said and done, is very unfair: that of being Turkey, that is to say of not being European.
What is the use of plying this country with recommendations and demands? The people of Europe do not want Turkey to join, because the evidence is right there in front of them: Turkey – and this is not intended as an insult to the country – is not part of the European family. It has its own culture, its own values and its own sphere of influence. That is the meaning behind the amendment that we have tabled on behalf of the Independence and Democracy Group. We must now put a stop to the hypocritical and devastating game of accession negotiations, which can only end in a major crisis, since the potential accession treaty has no chance of being ratified by the people, and particularly by the people of France, where the referendum procedure will be obligatory.
Let us spare a thought today for our French fellow Members, who are suffering from a bout of full-blown schizophrenia. Even though they claim to be against Turkey’s accession, they vote, each year, in this House and in the French Parliament, in favour of Turkey’s receiving pre-accession appropriations, and they have welcomed within their own European party – the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) and European Democrats – observers from the AKP, the Islamic party led by Mr Erdogan.
David Martin (PSE), in writing. I welcome this report on the accession of Turkey. The report commends the opening of the active phase of negotiations and the completion of the first chapter of science and technology as well as the resumption of legislative change in Turkey through the ninth package of legislative reform. Despite welcoming all of these advancements, I regret the fact that Turkey has not fully addressed the Cyprus issue. The Cyprus issue needs to be settled conclusively before Turkish accession; it is essential that Turkey recognises all Member States of the European Union.
Bairbre de Brún and Mary Lou McDonald (GUE/NGL), in writing. Sinn Féin looks forward to Turkey joining the EU, if it decides to do so, on the same basis as other countries did including the respect for human rights, civil government, acceptance of the political rights of the Kurdish population and the recognition of the Republic of Cyprus. We welcome today’s decision by the European Parliament to recognise that the resolution of the problem caused by Turkey’s occupation of part of Cyprus is a major issue which must be dealt with before Turkey can join the EU. While believing Parliament’s position fell short of what it should have done on the question of the rights of the Kurdish population in Turkey, we are also glad to see the plight of the Kurdish population in Turkey being raised as a key issue in the accession negotiations between Turkey and the EU.
Erik Meijer (GUE/NGL), in writing. (NL) Negotiations with Turkey are in the interest of the Kurds, Armenians, religious minorities and political prisoners. They are also important to the millions of Europeans of Turkish origin, who will feel confirmed as equal EU citizens as a result. I hope that those negotiations will eventually lead to a democratic, multi-ethnic and multi-religious Turkey that lives in peace with all its neighbours. This seems unlikely for the foreseeable future.
Chances are that the negotiations will soon run aground as a result of the delay in Cyprus’ federalisation and the ongoing tensions between Turkey and Cyprus that result from that. Moreover, there are forces at work within Turkey that persistently refuse to accept equal rights for differing cultures or opinions, and consider any accommodation with the Kurds and Armenians as an attack on Turkey’s honour.
If Turkey is eventually to accede, it will probably take thirty years of negotiations interspersed with many interruptions. Anyone who wishes to accelerate this process in order to equip Europe with a larger army or more cheap labour will leave Turkey’s democratic forces and its disadvantaged people in the lurch. Accepting an unchanged Turkey will lower the standard of democracy and human rights in Europe and will make the EU even more a cause of public contention.
Hartmut Nassauer (PPE-DE), in writing. (DE) I voted in favour of the report despite the endorsement contained therein of full Member States status as the ultimate objective, and, in a roll-call vote, together with the other CDU/CSU MEPs, expressed our repudiation of the idea that Turkey should be a full Member State.
The realistic and critical view taken by the report of the situation in Turkey makes it appropriate that it should be adopted. It notes that, from the very outset of accession negotiations, Turkey has not by a long way met the Copenhagen criteria in such core areas as human rights and freedom of religion. It also speaks in plain terms of the failure to come to terms with what happened to the Armenians in Turkey. It is inconceivable that Turkey should become a Member State of the EU without facing up to the facts of history. The report also calls for a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus issue; if Turkey continues to deny Cyprus recognition, the EU must suspend the accession talks.
Turkish accession would overstretch, and therefore weaken, the EU. European unification has been a success story so far, and can continue to be one only if the EU remains strong. A Europe without political or geographical contours is a Europe that the public reject. Enlargement must not be seen as an automatic process. We want Turkey to be an important partner alongside the EU, and it is for that reason that we advocate a privileged partnership as an alternative to full membership.
Dimitrios Papadimoulis (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (EL) I voted in favour of the Eurlings report on Turkey's progress towards accession to the European Union because I am in favour of Turkey's European prospects. However, Turkey's leadership should put into practice – and quickly – the undertakings which it made in accordance with the Copenhagen criteria.
The European Parliament is rightly insisting on real compliance by Turkey with European standards and rejects pressure from the Washington/London axis for à la carte concessions, especially for Turkey.
I am especially satisfied because amendments seeking to play down the Cyprus question were rejected and the amendments by the Confederal Group of the European United Left/Nordic Green Left highlighting the need for a policy to resolve the Kurd question were approved.
The Turkish leadership needs to implement the undertakings it has made under a specific roadmap. It is absurd for a country wishing to join the Union not to respect European principles in practice.
Luís Queiró (PPE-DE), in writing. (PT) The debate on Turkey’s possible accession to the EU should take place transparently and clearly and without any blackmail on either side. Accordingly, it must be made abundantly clear that this needs to be an open process in which the final outcome has not been pre-decided. Furthermore, it must be acknowledged from the outset that this is not only about Turkey honouring a series of criteria without which accession would be impossible, but also about the EU being in a position to receive and absorb Turkey.
On the other hand, as I noted at the beginning of this negotiation stage, I feel that a negotiation in which one of the parties does not recognise the other in its entirety, as in the case of Turkey towards Cyprus and, by extension, the EU, is a negotiation that has got off on the wrong foot and that suffers from severe shortcomings.
Lastly, this process has a great deal of potential in terms of promoting economic openness, development, democracy and respect for human rights in Turkey and this should not go to waste. The worst outcome of this process would be a chasm developing between Turkey and the EU.
Frédérique Ries (ALDE), in writing. – (FR) Yes, I ended up voting in favour of this report on the accession of Turkey.
I did so with a heavy heart, or something approaching it. We have confirmed the vote that took place within the Committee on Foreign Affairs on many points: we regret the slowing down of the reforms and highlight the persistent violations in relation to freedom of expression, religious freedom, minority rights, women’s rights and even cultural rights. We are very clear as regards the Cyprus question.
We maintain above all that, if accession is the aim of the negotiations, then it will in no circumstances be automatic. That is why I voted in favour of the amendments to the rapporteur’s text.
Why, then, do I have this huge regret? Because of the issue of the Armenian genocide, whereby Parliament has blatantly gone back on what it voted for previously. By yielding to the pressure of the Socialist Group in the European Parliament and others, plenary has just taken a step backwards: we are no longer calling on Turkey to recognise the Armenian genocide as a prerequisite for accession. This is an unacceptable U-turn that sends out what is, in my view, a disastrous signal to the negotiators: Parliament is eating its words, losing its memory and, even more seriously, losing sight of its duty to remember.
Alyn Smith (Verts/ALE), in writing. Mr President, I welcome this realistic report, though do think it could have been stronger. I in principle support Turkey’s eventual accession provided they have taken reform seriously and faced up to their past. I do not believe that they have, and it is up to us to keep the pressure up. On the recognition of the Armenian genocide and on treatment of the Kurds in particular I believe this report could have been more uncompromising, though on balance I support the findings and congratulate our rapporteur on a major piece of work.
Marc Tarabella (PSE), in writing. – (FR) I have decided to abstain from the final vote on the own-initiative report by Mr Eurlings on Turkey's progress towards accession.
This is because I do not feel that such a report is appropriate or relevant given that the European Commission, which is responsible for following Turkey’s progress towards accession, has not yet published its report. The European Commission alone has the competence to judge the progress made by Turkey.
What is more, the Eurlings report struck me as imbalanced. The efforts that this report requires of Turkey on a number of subjects, including freedom of expression, the rights of minorities and women’s rights, are of course essential. However, the report gives very little recognition to the advances made by Turkey in the area of the rule of law and respect for human rights. Since submitting its application, Turkey has been making substantial efforts to comply with the accession criteria; admittedly, there is still much progress to be made, but it is on the right track.
The amendments adopted during the plenary session, in particular those from the Socialist Group in the European Parliament removing the recognition of the Armenian genocide as a prior condition to accession, have gone some way to redressing the imbalance of the Eurlings report. However, I was not completely satisfied by this.
Geoffrey Van Orden (PPE-DE), in writing. Recognising that Turkey’s accession negotiations will take many years and that substantial reform is needed, there are many elements of the Eurlings report that I can support. Nevertheless, the report is excessively negative and very unbalanced, particularly in relation to the Cyprus issue, where there is no recognition of Turkish Cypriot support for the Annan Plan or of the EU’s unfulfilled promise to end the isolation of Northern Cyprus. There is also no call for any constructive movement on the part of the Republic of Cyprus, which is left to determine the pace of Turkey’s accession negotiations (according to recital B) and whose interests even intrude into NATO, where Turkey is then blamed for making difficulties (paragraph 54). Furthermore, future enlargement of the EU is specifically linked to the revival of the EU constitutional process, to which I fundamentally object. On this basis I abstained.
Dominique Vlasto (PPE-DE), in writing. – (FR) I decided to abstain from voting on the Eurlings report, even though it is a harsh report.
Admittedly, it marks a turning point in terms of our becoming aware of the reality of the relations between the EU and Turkey, but by implying and confirming, after the rejection of certain amendments, that accession is an end in itself, it remains too unilateral. The undeniable slowing down of the reforms in Turkey, despite the Commission’s opening accession negotiations, should, on the contrary, give added weight to the option of a privileged partnership. The fact that the opening of these negotiations has not speeded up the reforms is worrying, and our response must consist of a demand for results and not of the idea that accession will take place no matter what.
That is why it was necessary to point out that the normalisation of relations with Cyprus must be a prerequisite for any accession. The fact that Turkey has still not ratified and implemented the Ankara Protocol, which is a minimum - only just acceptable - legal form of recognition, is inadmissible. Finally, I endorsed the amendment on the recognition of the Armenian genocide as a prerequisite for this possible accession, because we are not talking here about a symbolic point but about a moral obligation and a historic demand that are incumbent on the Turkish authorities.
Lars Wohlin (IND/DEM), in writing. (SV) Turkey has a very long way to go before EU membership can be an imminent possibility. I have previously voted against beginning membership negotiations with Turkey because it will be a very long time before it meets the requirements for EU membership. It is not possible to maintain a negotiating process over a 20-year period. The pressure to relax the membership requirements would be in danger of becoming irresistible.
It is important to make clear demands of Turkey. The Copenhagen human rights criteria must be fulfilled. The sovereignty of Cyprus must be respected, and the 1915 genocide of Armenians and Syrians/Assyrians must be acknowledged.
Before Turkish membership of the EU can become an imminent possibility, the voting strength of each Member State must be changed so that a small number of densely populated Member States will not dominate the EU’s decision-making.
The financial consequences of possible Turkish membership of the EU must be investigated carefully. The EU’s common agricultural policy and regional policy must be reformed before Turkey can become a member of the EU. The EU’s budget should be limited to one per cent of the Member States’ total GNI, and possible Turkish membership should not lead to that ceiling being exceeded.
It is important to note that the fact that negotiations with Turkey have been embarked on does not automatically mean that Turkey will become a member of the EU.