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Procedure : 2006/2676(RSP)
Document stages in plenary
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Texts tabled :

B6-0024/2007

Debates :

PV 17/01/2007 - 7
CRE 17/01/2007 - 7

Votes :

PV 18/01/2007 - 9.7
CRE 18/01/2007 - 9.7
Explanations of votes

Texts adopted :

P6_TA(2007)0007

Debates
Thursday, 18 January 2007 - Strasbourg OJ edition

10. Explanations of vote
PV
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  President. – The next item is the explanations of vote.

 
  
  

Report: Ribeiro e Castro (A6-0469/2006)

 
  
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  Jean-Pierre Audy (PPE-DE), in writing. (FR) I voted in favour of the excellent report by my Portuguese colleague Mr Ribeiro e Castro on the legislative resolution on the draft European Council decision amending the Cotonou Agreement between the African, Caribbean and Pacific States (ACP) and the European Union of March 2000, as part of the five-yearly revision.

The new procedure for political dialogue, the increased role for the parliaments, the reference to the International Criminal Court, regional cooperation, the reference to the Millennium Development Goals and, lastly, cooperation in the fight against weapons of mass destruction give this revision a better gloss than one might have hoped. Furthermore, thanks to the ACP-EU Joint Assembly compromise of June 2006, the agreement to provide EUR 26 billion for 2008-2013 means that this decision is good news for the EU’s place among the ACP partner countries.

 
  
  

Report: Jarzembowski (A6-0475/2006)

 
  
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  Jean-Pierre Audy (PPE-DE), in writing.(FR) I voted in favour of the thrust of the excellent report by my German colleague Mr Jarzembowski on the recommendation for second reading on amending the 1991 directive on the development of the Community’s railways and the 2001 directive on railway infrastructure (3rd rail package). It has become essential to introduce greater competition in passenger rail transport, building on what has rightly been done for freight. This is a vital prerequisite for increased services at a fair price.

Nevertheless, like my political group, the UMP [the French Union for a Popular Movement], I did not advocate liberalisation at too fast a pace for internal transport in the Member States, so as to allow the traditional operators time to prepare for competition. I trust that, in conciliation, Parliament will find an acceptable compromise that will quickly lead the sector from being an administered economy to being a social market economy. The development of passenger rail transport at a fair price, like goods rail transport, is one of the vital prerequisites to the smooth running, development and competitiveness of our internal European economic market, which is both a source of prosperity and a social necessity for the citizens.

 
  
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  Glyn Ford (PSE), in writing. I will be voting for the Jarzembowski report on the development of the Community’s railways. The railway network in my own region is vital for communication with London and the rest of the country, particularly from Devon and Cornwall, where the roads are narrow and congested and a number of bottlenecks exist and the airports small and poorly served. Yet coastal erosion and rising sea levels threaten to disrupt and eventually cut the link at Dawlish in Devon.

I am grateful for Vice-President Barrot’s commitment to try to find ways for the Commission to assist here, which would, if it works, be a very practical demonstration of the principles embodied here.

 
  
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  Robert Goebbels (PSE), in writing. (FR) The provisions on transport in the Treaty cover international transport, the conditions under which non-resident carriers may operate transport services, and, lastly, transport activities in the internal market. Why then should the Union become involved in local, regional or even national transport inside countries when the organisation of these networks does not affect trade in the internal market? The Jarzembowski report goes too far in its bid for all-out liberalisation.

 
  
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  Bruno Gollnisch (ITS), in writing. (FR) Once again, the ultraliberal ideology trumpeted by Brussels is a feature of this report on the third rail package.

The proposal is to speed up the process of liberalising international passenger transport by 2010 and of national transport by 2017.

If the ends can justify the means, we must condemn the weakness of the means adopted, and the precautions taken, in this report to prevent companies and workers in the railways sector, who are currently protected by their public status, from being left to the mercy of unbridled competition in the global railways market.

The Commission, the Council and Parliament appear not to have heeded the lessons of the privatisation of the British railways in 1993, which has led to an increase in train accidents, delays, decaying infrastructure, price rises and redundancies among onboard staff amounting to half the total workforce. The situation is such that many people in the UK are now advocating the renationalisation of the railways.

A Europe of this kind should not exist. Europe should not be constructed at the expense of safety, jobs and professional qualifications. We are opposed to this anti-national philosophy, which destroys jobs and routinely favours the foreign option.

 
  
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  Pedro Guerreiro (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) We are very disappointed that the majority in Parliament voted against our proposal to reject a directive that is aimed purely and simply at liberalising and privatising passenger rail transport between the EU Member States.

In spite of the fact that some of the more worrying amendments tabled by the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) and European Democrats did not achieve the majority needed to be adopted – for example the proposal to set, as of now, 2017 as the date for liberalising freight rail transport at national level – the majority in Parliament, enjoying the votes of the Portuguese Socialist, Social Democrat and People's parties, once again lent its backing to the process of liberalising rail transport at EU level, now on its third legislative package.

This process of liberalisation forms part of the neoliberal guidelines contained in the so-called ‘Lisbon Strategy’, and is aimed, ultimately, at privatising this public service and others. It is terrible that the Portuguese Government has reiterated its ‘support for liberalising rail transport’, which it did in a statement on 24 July 2006.

We shall continue to speak out in defence of public rail transport services, which is a key sector for Portugal’s socio--economic development, and on behalf of the rights of the workers and the people.

 
  
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  Carl Lang (ITS), in writing. (FR) Following the adoption of the second rail package concerning freight, the Commission has proposed nothing less than the total liberalisation of all international rail passenger services by 2010 and national services by 2017.

This ultraliberal acceleration is happening at a time when the viability of the liberalisation of French rail freight is being called into question. The French national railway company, SNCF noted in December 2006 that, despite European-level measures aimed at reducing road transport, the volume of rail freight has been in freefall.

What impact will the third package have? We are heading straight towards all too predictable economic and social failure, to which our European leaders should be alert, if only by recalling the disastrous experience of the liberalisation of the British railways in 1993. Let us not make the same mistakes by favouring anti-national ideology at the expense of national jobs, and let us preserve unified French railways.

To liberalise the railways is to jeopardise safety. We will have too many private operators on the same rail network. Safety considerations should always prevail over simple return on investments. In view of their importance, the railways should remain a public service, which must of course be viable, but above all must be safe.

 
  
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  Marie-Noëlle Lienemann (PSE), in writing. – (FR) I voted for the removal of this report, because the process of liberalising and deregulating public services, and in particular passenger transport, must be stopped as a matter of urgency. In refusing to conduct a public investigation into the situation, the EU must, furthermore, take stock of the negative impact of its policy and of the citizens’ growing opposition to it.

The slightest new step towards opening up to competition is unacceptable until a framework directive on public services is able to provide guarantees of equality between the regions and of proper spatial planning, as well as pricing policies ensuring much-needed redistribution, and the future investment needed to deliver modern, high-quality infrastructure.

All the indicators are that, in Europe, safety will be cut back and that rail services, especially where profitability is low, will suffer. This will run counter to the objectives of combating the greenhouse effect and will exacerbate inequality.

 
  
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  Bart Staes (Verts/ALE), in writing. (NL) It is wrong for Europe to dictate to its Member States how they should organise their national railway networks. Whilst I welcome the fact that in Germany, competition within rail has resulted in better services, price cuts and good safety standards, this need not necessarily work in favour of the Belgian rail network.

In many countries, there is cause for dissatisfaction about the provision of rail services. This is why I would welcome a study into the advantages and disadvantages of competition within rail: good and bad experiences concerning the privatisation of railways must be put side by side to find out which forms of liberalisation work and which do not.

Nobody is asking for liberalisation of this kind today: not the trade unions, not the consumer organisations, not even the European railway companies’ association. I would have preferred it if, as was the plan, this report had been discussed together with Mr Meijer’s, so that sound procedures could be agreed on which would allow Member States and regions to offer sections of the network to one particular company in the framework of public service provision contracts. This would have meant that one concession could be given to one service provider for a certain period of time, but with the addition of a clearly defined package of requirements relating to the best possible provision of services, safety and environmental concern.

 
  
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  Marc Tarabella (PSE), in writing.(FR) I decided to vote in favour of rejecting the Council’s common position, approved by the Jarzembowski report. The common position effectively supports the timetable for the international liberalisation of passenger transport by 2010.

I am firmly opposed to such liberalisation which, contrary to what is maintained by fervent champions of the unbridled free market, will not generate a better service at a lower cost. Rather, it will jeopardise public services provided in the Member States. The vast majority of passengers, now referred to as customers, will be faced with an increase in fares and a decline in the quality of service. Rural areas will, once again, be the main victims of this process.

What is more, liberalisation will endanger the railway companies of the small Member States and will have harmful effects on the conditions of work and employment of rail staff throughout the European Union.

It is therefore in order to defend public services, passengers and rail employees throughout Europe that I have voted in favour of rejecting the common position and against the amendments in favour of this liberalisation.

 
  
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  Lars Wohlin (PPE-DE), in writing. (SV) Principles of reciprocity must be respected, and it is important to be able to convey passengers across national borders. However, the Member States must be allowed to decide for themselves whether national rail traffic should be privatised. Many a privatised railway that has not been integrated with the railway infrastructure of the country concerned has failed to operate properly and led to increased costs for taxpayers (as in the United Kingdom, for example).

I therefore choose to support the Council’s common position, which does not go as far, and am voting, then, against Parliament’s amendments.

 
  
  

Report: Savary (A6-0480/2006)

 
  
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  Jean-Pierre Audy (PPE-DE), in writing. – (FR) I voted in favour of the very constructive report by my fellow Member, Mr Savary, which concerns the recommendation at second reading for the adoption of the Directive on the certification of train drivers on the railway system in the Community.

I share the view that a distinction needs to be made between the arrangements governing drivers and those governing other on-board staff. Moreover, it is important that the process of certifying European train drivers be put in place quickly so that such certification is in operation at the same time as rail freight is developing, stimulated by the competition that will come with the economic liberalisation of this sector. These considerations are a guarantee of quality and, therefore, of security. I hope that the European Council will be wise enough to take account of them.

 
  
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  Pedro Guerreiro (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) Although I acknowledge the importance of defining the certification of those working in this sector, in particular train drivers, this issue forms part of the process of liberalising the rail transport sector, a process championed by the EU institutions, by the Council (the national governments), the Commission and the majority in Parliament, with the latter being the most enthusiastic cheerleader.

Accordingly, although there are some positive proposals on workers’ rights and some technical aspects, one must be mindful that these measures form part of the ongoing wave of privatisations and not of improving the service.

Furthermore, a number of questions are raised. Firstly, the large transnational companies 'import' people to work in a particular country and, in the name of 'free access' and 'competitiveness', they place these people in direct competition with local workers; they also impose agreements that are unfavourable to the workers and that encourage social dumping. Secondly, the rights acquired by these workers are jeopardised. Thirdly, the Commission and the Agency are defining the model to be followed and the requirements to be met by the Member States, and not the other way round, that is to say, compliance with national laws and provisions, as recognised by the other Member States.

 
  
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  Carl Schlyter (Verts/ALE), in writing. (SV) Passengers must have proper rights, but what we are getting here is too much detailed regulation at EU level. What is proposed is at a level far below that applicable under Swedish law governing compensation. Parliament’s attempt also to include strictly local or national transport – over and above international transport, where there is some rationale for the EU’s intervention – is unnecessary over-regulation. What is more, these rules are in danger of bringing about a decline in the conditions governing compensation in Sweden and could make it more difficult for passengers to take a taxi or bus when their train is delayed.

 
  
  

Report: Sterckx (A6-0479/2006)

 
  
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  Proinsias De Rossa (PSE), in writing. I supported Amendment 65 because the Council common position does not deal in a satisfactory way with the necessity to progressively adapt railway stations and rolling stock in order to ensure accessibility for disabled people and people with reduced mobility. The gradual improvement of existing infrastructure and rolling stock is absolutely necessary given the lifespan of rolling stock and infrastructure. There is also a great number of potential passengers that would be able to use rail transport if it was accessible.

 
  
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  Pedro Guerreiro (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) This report should be analysed within the context of the objectives of the EU’s railways policy, to which the Commission has already submitted three legislative packages in recent years. The purpose of the report is purely and simply to complete the technical and legal framework for the phased implementation of the total liberalisation of rail transport, which effectively means handing it to large private interests, at the expense of dismantling the key national public companies.

This proposed regulation on the rights and obligations of rail transport passengers should be understood in this context. The report, among other things, seeks to broaden the scope of the directive to include national as well as international rail passengers, to set out the information to be passed on to passengers and the compensation to be paid in the event of delays, accidents or death, and to ensure that people with reduced mobility can use the railways.

In other words, the current process of defining passengers’ rights is taking place as part of a process that jeopardises their fundamental right to high-quality public transport.

 
  
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  Peter Skinner (PSE), in writing. I voted for this report because of the increasing use of rail passenger transport across the EU. Furthermore, whilst establishing a clearly more sustainable transport structure, largely helped by the TENs process, railway operators need to be cojoined by simple rules and obligations. In particular, the rights of passengers often go ‘missing’ in the debate for more convenient transport operations. Moreover, the problem of monopolistic control over certain rail routes such as the Channel Tunnel Rail Link (CTRL) leaves passengers at the disposal of just one company. In the light of this increasing the rights of international rail passenger users, I am concerned that the current approach of certain companies/operators still needs greater efforts by regulatory bodies to ensure a consistent and fair approach.

 
  
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  Evangelia Tzampazi (PSE), in writing. With regard to the recommendation for second reading on the Council common position for adopting a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on international rail passengers’ rights and obligations (Sterckx report) I would like to explain that the Members of the PSE Greek Delegation (Arnaoutakis Stavros, Beglitis Panagiotis, Matsouka Maria, Lambrinidis Stavros and Tzampazi Evangelia) abstained from the votes on Amendments 59 and 69 according to which: ‘all trains, including cross-border and high-speed trains, shall provide a specially designated area enabling passengers to bring on to the train baby carriages, wheelchairs, bicycles and sports equipment possibly against payment’.

Although we agree with the implementation of this parameter with regard to the other tools, as far as wheelchairs are concerned, however, it should be taken into consideration that these are not just a tool for people with disabilities but they are actually part of their body. In that sense, there should be no additional payment for their transport.

Therefore we abstained from the votes on Amendments 59 and 69, supporting in that way the right of people with disabilities to travel without any additional charge.

 
  
  

Reports: Jarzembowski (A6-0475/2006), Savary (A6-0480/2006) and Sterckx (A6-0479/2006)

 
  
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  Gilles Savary (PSE). – (FR) Mr President, I should like to say how very pleased I am about the considerable wisdom displayed by Parliament in rejecting the liberalisation of the railway system and of the national railway systems.

I personally am very much in favour of opening up the networks and I am a great believer in constructing railways without borders in Europe, something that would effectively spell the end of the national monopolies. That being said, I consider that the Commission’s proposed method of liberalisation, which will be characterised by conflict over deadlines and dates, is unacceptable and will inevitably lead to a situation in which the railway economy is focused on a few big companies, with many national companies disappearing and a big battle taking place over the most profitable market segments, that is to say the high-speed lines, and with great difficulty probably being encountered in financing budget headings relating to town and country planning.

Railway services also include regional trains and main line services, which are often in the red and which are financed by what are now the international main lines, and I am very concerned to see that this aspect of things has not really been taken into account. How are small railway lines, which are very useful, to be financed when the opening up to international competition is going to cause funding to dry up and the railway companies' margins to be reduced? That is a question that we must answer. We have until 2010, and I personally want the financing of public services and of budget headings relating to town and country planning to appear before long on the agenda of this House.

 
  
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  Erik Meijer (GUE/NGL), in writing. (NL) While cuts continue to be made and both regional rail services and international rail connections continue to be thinned out as a result, there are now calls from right across the political spectrum for more passengers and more freight to be transported by rail by employing the same practices used in freight traffic by road and the cut-price airlines. By separating rail management from the provision of services, they hope that private companies will reduce prices and attract more patronage by means of their customer-friendly outlook. I think that this approach will end up not yielding the desired result. All attention will be focused on reducing costs by closing lines, thinning out services, increasing prices and disposing of the many loss-making customers.

The Savary and Sterckx reports do not do enough to compensate for Mr Jarzembowski’s liberalisation plans. The Savary report is vital in that it wishes to reduce the technical problems that have beset cross-border trains since electrification, while the Sterckx report has wasted the opportunity to force railway companies to make cross-border services better accessible and to maintain them. As the report now stands, only people with a disability stand to gain.

 
  
  

Report: Wallis (A6-0481/2006)

 
  
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  Jean-Pierre Audy (PPE-DE), in writing.(FR) I voted in favour of the constructive report by UK Member Mrs Wallis, which concerns the recommendation for second reading for adopting a regulation on non-contractual obligations.

Whereas, as a general rule, the law applicable to non-contractual obligations is the law of the country in which the damage took place, this report will, if it is complied with, enable the law of the victim’s country to be applied, for example in the case of bodily injury following a car accident. Given how complex situations can be, this position would enable people to be put back into the situations they were in before the accidents in question. A compromise still has to be found for compensating people for prejudice suffered due to defamation by the media, as Parliament wants the law applicable to be that of the country to which the published or broadcast material is principally directed or, if this criterion obviously cannot be applied, the country in which editorial control is exercised. The work on achieving a compromise will not be easy.

 
  
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  Christofer Fjellner, Gunnar Hökmark and Anna Ibrisagic (PPE-DE), in writing. (SV) The Wallis report, A6-0481/06, contains proposals concerning the choice of the law applicable to violations of privacy or rights relating to the personality - proposals that such cases should be settled in the country in which the damage occurred. We are voting against these proposals because they would lead to restrictions on Swedish legislation relating to freedom of expression and the freedom of the press. For example, a Swedish newspaper could be censored in other countries on the basis of laws other than those applicable in the country in which the newspaper is published.

 
  
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  Bruno Gollnisch (ITS), in writing.(FR) It is to the credit of this regulation, known as Rome II, that it is designed to facilitate the handling of cross-border legal disputes by applying to a wide range of situations the general rule according to which the law applicable to non-contractual obligations is the law of the country in which the damage occurred.

We are, in fact, in favour of harmonising the rules where laws are in conflict with one another, a move that alone is capable of enhancing legal certainty. However, the rules would still have to be precise and clear, something that is far from always being the case.

Concerned not only with the specific issue of road accidents but also with those of defamation or violations of privacy by audiovisual or print media, the rules proposed are designed to protect the victim by, in particular, enabling him or her to obtain compensation more easily.

If freedom of the press and freedom of expression are to be guaranteed, the rules must not improperly restrict the rights of the persons involved.

This report provides for guarantees through the adoption of standard rules where laws are in conflict with one another. We shall vote in favour of it.

 
  
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  Olle Schmidt (ALDE), in writing. (SV) The Rome II report, which the European Parliament voted in favour of today, contains two wordings that are in conflict with Swedish legislation on the freedom of the press. Unfortunately, it was impossible to vote against the amendments containing the wordings in question because they formed part of a larger block. I chose to vote in favour of the report but wish to put on record the reservations I have in respect of Amendment 9 and paragraph 7a of Amendment 19.

 
  
  

Sentencing to death of the health workers in Libya: B6-0024/2007

 
  
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  Димитър Стоянов (ITS). – Аз гласувах "за" това предложение, но пред себе си имам един текст, който е изпълнен с тежък изказ. В него няма нищо, което реално да се казва. Тази резолюция трябваше да бъде приета преди осъждането на българските медицински сестри на смърт, а не сега постфактум. И защо, когато бяха осъдени, висшите представители на Съюза се правеха, че са паднали от небето и че за осем години те не са разбрали, че има такова нещо. Или може би им беше по-лесно да си затварят очите, защото европейските държави въртят една много хубава търговия с Либия.

Искам да Ви кажа, уважаеми колеги, че ние сме изправени съвсем очевидно пред един тежък диктаторски режим. И с такъв режим единственият начин, по който може да се справяш, е с решителност, твърдост и непоколебимост. Затова аз настоявам, всички европейски държави да прекратят незабавно търговските си отношения с Либия, което ще бъде оказване на истински натиск върху тази тоталитарна държава.

В заключение, бих искал да кажа, че ако това не стане, това ще означава, че в Европа се е открил нов вид програма - "петрол срещу човешки животи".

 
  
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  Jim Allister (NI), in writing. I voted for this resolution in order to support those subject to the injustice being perpetrated upon them by the inhumane Libyan authorities. However, I disassociate myself from the demand in the motion for a blanket ban throughout the world on capital punishment. In my view, capital punishment can be appropriate and necessary where there are in place wholly reliable and proper judicial processes, proofed with a full range of appeal facilities. Clearly, such does not exist in Libya.

 
  
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  Jean-Pierre Audy (PPE-DE), in writing.(FR) I voted in favour of the resolution by those political groups that condemn the verdict of the Libyan criminal court that convicted and sentenced to death five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor accused of having deliberately inoculated almost 500 children with the AIDS virus. This resolution is an opportunity to renew my complete opposition to the death penalty, the abolition of which helps increase respect for human dignity and helps champion human rights.

 
  
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  Ilda Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) We voted in favour of this resolution because we are against the death penalty and therefore oppose the Libyan court’s decision to sentence five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor to death by firing squad, and the confirmation of those sentences on 19 December 2006.

We also wish to register our profound alarm at the case used to convict the defendants and at the treatment they received while in detention.

We reiterate our opposition to the death penalty and would point out that abolishing the death penalty would serve to reinforce human dignity and to foster the gradual development of human rights. We therefore call for the death penalty to be abolished throughout the world.

We also join in calling on the competent Libyan authorities to take the necessary measures to review and to overturn the death sentence, and to pave the way for the case to be resolved quickly on the basis of humanitarian considerations.

 
  
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  Joseph Muscat (PSE), in writing (MT). My vote in favour of this resolution reflects mainly my position against the death penalty whatever the circumstances.

I believe that the long years of effort undertaken by many countries, including Malta, aimed at drawing Libya closer to the international community cannot simply be thrown away. This case shows that more, rather than less, dialogue between the two sides is required.

 
  
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  Luís Queiró (PPE-DE), in writing. (PT) The trial leading to the death sentence for five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor is proof that there are some countries that have no qualms about holding foreign citizens hostage.

Whatever way one examines it, the evidence clearly shows that those sentenced to death in this trial are not guilty of the crimes of which they are accused. Yet the trials went on. The only explanation is that these foreign citizens are being used for internal, or perhaps external, political ends.

In a country that is a long way from being a democracy, or at least a country that scarcely respects the rule of law, such events do not come as a surprise. Worse, since 1 January, among those sentenced to death are five EU citizens, which means that we must channel our efforts to promote justice and respect for the general principles of law in this case.

Libya today is the same country it has always been, albeit for reasons of political pragmatism it has had to modify its behaviour, and it must understand that we do not accept these people being used as hostages to Libyan politics.

 
  
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  Geoffrey Van Orden (PPE-DE), in writing. The Libyan death sentence against the Bulgarian nurses and Palestinian doctor is atrocious and deepens the tragedy of their wrongful imprisonment these past eight years. We have been in the forefront of those demanding their release.

Unfortunately, and against my advice, the Greens and Communists insisted on including a paragraph in the resolution on the wider issue of opposition to the death penalty in principle. Although many of us voted against this paragraph, it remains part of a text which we have otherwise strongly supported. Many Conservatives, myself included, do not object in principle to the death penalty. On the contrary, we would wish to see its restoration in certain very special and rigorously controlled circumstances. We therefore wish to make it clear that our support for this excellent resolution in no way implies our agreement to paragraph 2.

 
  
  

Report: Romeva i Rueda (A6-0439/2006)

 
  
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  Glyn Ford (PSE), in writing. I would congratulate my colleague, Mr Romeva i Rueda, on this annual report. I was responsible a decade and more ago in the then Security and Disarmament Sub-committee of the Committee on Foreign Affairs for the first report on this subject.

One issue at that time was the failure to create a single European arms market leading to a situation where divided national markets created an imperative to export. This in itself meant that European arms ended up in very unsavoury hands and as we saw all too recently we faced our own weapons in hostile hands in Iraq.

Another issue involved was the lack of a legal basis to our Code of Conduct on arms sales, partly because certain Member States did not want their salesmen hampered in the world’s arms markets.

Mr Romeva i Rueda’s report shows the same problems are still with us today. The longer we delay finding solutions the more misery the free market in arms visits on the world and the more it costs us in inefficiency, refugees and asylum seekers from the unnatural disasters we are ultimately responsible for.

 
  
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  Patrick Gaubert (PPE-DE), in writing.(FR) The own-initiative report on the Seventh and Eighth Annual Reports by the Council on the European Union Code of Conduct on Arms Exports has just been adopted by a large majority. I congratulate the rapporteur on the quality of his work and on the consensus obtained on this document.

This report is careful to point out the need to adopt the Code of Conduct as a common position with a view to enhancing its legal effects on the control of arms exports and to harmonising national legislation on the subject.

In the same way, it invites the European Union and its Member States to support the adoption of an International Treaty on Arms Exports under the aegis of the United Nations – something that I think would be useful.

It also offers some necessary clarifications of the content and scope of the Code of Conduct and rightly proposes that respect for human rights should become a general criterion governing arms exports.

Now more than ever, the European Union must do all it can to appear as a responsible global player, recognised for its efforts to combat the proliferation of arms, which is the source of many conflicts and of serious human rights violations.

 
  
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  Jean Lambert (Verts/ALE), in writing. I voted for this report. I particularly welcome Parliament’s desire for the EU to push for an International Treaty on the Arms Trade. We recognise that spending on arms is a diversion from achieving the Millennium Goals. No company in any country should profit from the misery and human rights abuses that we see, for example, in Darfur. Countries which speak the language of diplomacy should not be profiting from fuelling the conflict. As the report says, we need to find better ways to ensure the end use of our licensing systems is the intended use, not a diversion to regimes or opposition movements which inflict inhumane treatment.

I also welcome the reference to export credit guarantees but wish the report had gone further. Member States should not be underwriting arms sales. At the very least this represents a distortion of competition and can lead to corruption. At its worst, it increases debt repayments and, as we have seen in Tanzania recently, makes it more difficult for poor countries to invest in health, education and true sustainable development.

 
  
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  Nils Lundgren (IND/DEM), in writing. (SV) Arms exports should be supervised by each Member State through its national legislation and through cooperation within the framework of the UN. I am absolutely opposed to the plans possibly to set up an EU agency for arms exports control. The report is about creating a binding Code of Conduct for arms exports within the framework of the EU. It is proposed that a new EU body be set up for controlling the Member States’ exports. Irrespective of any principled stand on the issue, there are reasons for questioning whether this would lead, as intended, to a more restrictive policy. At the same time, the European Defence Agency is pushing for further coordination and liberalisation of the Member States’ export policies. I believe that, in view of its experience, knowledge and global scope, it is the UN that is best placed to press on with the global work on disarmament and to ensure that the best possible Code of Conduct is complied with.

 
  
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  Luís Queiró (PPE-DE), in writing. (PT) The arms industry is not by definition the dirtiest and most corrupt business, but its everyday operations are capable of being that way.

For this reason, I feel that the behaviour of public and private actors must be subject to careful scrutiny so that the pressure, be it legal or otherwise, can have some effect.

I am a longstanding advocate of making this code of conduct binding.

Lastly, I turn to the issue of China. We have this debate every year. China offers no guarantees – quite the opposite, in fact – that it will use military material in accordance with our requirements. This on its own would be sufficient argument. Moreover, we should try to turn this increasingly important player on the world stage into a partner in the quest for a more peaceful, less violent world. This will not be achieved by repeatedly giving ground, in the name of the economy. In some circumstances, this may be the right way forward, but not in this case.

Lastly, I deplore the fact that the report conflates issues that are actually quite distinct, by lumping together China, Colombia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Indonesia, Nepal and Israel.

 
  
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  Geoffrey Van Orden (PPE-DE), in writing. While much of the content of the Romeva report is uncontroversial, it maintains an insistence on a legally binding code of conduct for European arms exports and inevitably seeks to extend the authority of the EU. Our emphasis should instead be on an international treaty with focus on those countries that continue to supply terrorists and insurgents and which seem to escape the attentions of those that are always so critical of the Western democracies. We therefore abstained on this resolution.

 
  
  

Report: Hedkvist Petersen (A6-0449/2006)

 
  
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  Philip Bradbourn (PPE-DE), in writing. Conservatives believe that road safety is a very important issue but cannot support this report on the grounds that it calls for EU-wide measures through harmonisation processes rather than intergovernmental cooperation over a limited range of cross-border issues. Geographical considerations, tradition and culture also have an impact here and as the UK already has one of the safest records in Europe, we do not see the need for many of the measures to be given an EU dimension.

 
  
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  Robert Goebbels (PSE), in writing.(FR) I voted against this report and against a number of amendments, because Parliament is going against the principle of subsidiarity by seeking to impose throughout Europe the same rules to be enforced by the police – rules whose effectiveness is far from proven.

 
  
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  Bruno Gollnisch (ITS), in writing.(FR) My fellow Member’s report shows the progress made in road safety and in combating road accidents. Indeed, the number of deaths on European roads fell by 17.5% between 2001 and 2005, a development about which one can only be very pleased but which obviously does not go far enough, as more than 40 000 deaths are still recorded each year in the European Union.

Surprisingly, the many proposals on road safety put forward in this report are not exclusively about taking punitive measures, which has been the approach in France. Rather, there are proposals relating to driver training, the quality of the vehicle fleet and the state of highway infrastructure. We support these proposals.

In France, the number of road deaths is, admittedly, falling each year but, by the same token, the anger of those deprived of their licences continues to grow. Quite apart from ‘fear of the police’, automatic penalties for driving even as little as 1 km per hour above the speed limit have become commonplace.

Out of 36 million drivers, 3.5 million have incurred points on their licences, and almost 70 000 licences have been withdrawn. If the overarching objective of road safety is to be achieved, there is a need to stop hounding motorists.

 
  
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  Pedro Guerreiro (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) The European Road Safety Action Programme adopted in 2003 sets the objective of halving the number of road accident victims by 2010, which means fewer than 25 000 victims per year. Although the figure went down between 2001 and 2005, it is predicted that the target will not be met.

The fight against road accidents must take place on various fronts: educating drivers, road conditions, the state of the vehicle fleet and deterrents, all integrated into a global strategy for the transport sector.

For this to happen, targeted measures must be put in place aimed at the following: civic education in schools and driving schools, using new teaching methods, to foster civic awareness among the citizens; monitoring both drivers and the state of their vehicles, which should take the form of prevention and education rather than simply raising revenue through fines; the quality of roads and appropriate, clear signposting; and addressing the issue of car traffic, which has increased dramatically at the expense of public transport. Hence the importance of integrating this issue into a strategy for the transport sector that properly promotes the use of public transport.

 
  
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  Nils Lundgren (IND/DEM), in writing. (SV) I am voting against this report, as I think that it is based on faulty reasoning about the political level responsible for road safety issues. The June List believes that it is primarily the Member States that have political responsibility for deciding which legislative measures are to be taken in order to improve road safety. Better road safety can be achieved by the Member States copying those strategies that have proved successful in a variety of EU countries. The views of the European Parliament may be praiseworthy, but they add extremely little in this context.

The report contains a series of proposals that do not take sufficient account of the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality. These include the proposals that children between the ages of three and eighteen should receive continuous training in road safety through a special EU Action Programme, that the Commission should implement information campaigns to combat driver tiredness in the Member States and that the Commission should also investigate the impact of driver tiredness on road safety.

 
  
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  Carl Schlyter (Verts/ALE), in writing. (SV) Speed limits are a matter for the individual Member States and, based as they are on a wide variety of factors, they should be determined on a national basis. However much I might, for environmental or safety reasons, want to lay down regulations preventing the Germans from having their autobahns, it would be counterproductive to force such regulations on them from outside and would weaken the political forces in Germany that are fighting for the same thing.

A 0.5 per mille alcohol limit is too high and is unacceptable anyhow.

Deciding sidelight requirements at EU level would be as stupid as forcing the United Kingdom to introduce driving on the right. If 5 000 lives would be saved, it should be easy to carry this measure through at national level. I am nonetheless voting in favour of calling on the Member States to prevent dangerous driving behaviour on the part of lorry drivers because respect is in that way being shown for the rights of the national parliaments. It is also beneficial to the environment not to allow lorries to compete with trains by compromising on safety.

 
  
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  Gary Titley (PSE), in writing. The European Parliamentary Labour Party welcomes the principle of the report, which aims to halve the number of fatalities on EU roads by 2010. The report is positive in the fact that it highlights the growing disparity in road safety between certain Member States. It also pushes for increased cooperation amongst stakeholders and the sharing of best practice.

However, attempts to introduce road safety initiatives such as Daytime Running Lights (DRLs) and harmonised blood alcohol limits will do little to improve EU road safety. Evidence suggests that DRLs will place motorcyclists and pedestrians at greater risk. Rather than alter blood alcohol limits, Member States should focus on enforcing the laws already in place and effectively penalising offenders. As such we have decided to abstain on this report.

 
  
  

Report: Záborská (A6-0478/2006)

 
  
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  Ilda Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) I welcome the adoption of the idea that gender mainstreaming involves reorganising, strengthening, developing and monitoring the political processes, so that the issue of equality between men and women can be incorporated into all policies, at all levels and at all stages by those usually involved in defining such policies. This should be done without undermining gender mainstreaming in specific policies aimed at redressing situations arising from inequality between men and women.

Policies aimed at equality on the one hand and gender mainstreaming on the other form a double, complementary strategy. They have to work in tandem in order that we can meet the objective of equality between men and women, as proposed in the adopted resolution.

The conditions must be in place in every Member State for there to be effective equality in all areas and not just in political posts. We therefore welcome the rejection in this plenary session of the report’s proposal to introduce a compulsory quota system for political parties in their shortlists for any collective body.

 
  
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  Lissy Gröner (PSE), in writing. (DE) This report is an evaluation of gender mainstreaming policy in the European Parliament, further to my report on that subject (A5-0060/2003).

The present report on ‘gender mainstreaming in the work of the committees’ takes up issues raised in the 2003 report, evaluates the efforts made to date, and seeks to highlight the future prospects for the practical implementation of gender mainstreaming. The Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) and European Democrats voted in such a way as to cause the deletion of essential passages from a report that the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality had adopted unanimously, such as, for example, those highlighting the roles of the high-level working party, gender budgeting and personnel policy. Being persuaded that the Záborská report, in significant respects, does not go as far as the Resolution of 2003, I have voted against it.

 
  
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  Lydia Schenardi (ITS), in writing.(FR) Although an integrated approach to equality between men and women, particularly in the area of employment, is a necessity, its authoritarian and compulsory implementation and enforcement are not.

However, that is unfortunately what is proposed in the report by my esteemed fellow Member, Mrs Záborská who, in the name of dignity and equality for women, asks us to vote in favour of a compulsory system of quotas for political parties’ candidate lists. We must not, I believe, give in to the temptation to put the ideology of gender equality above all else. That would be a counterproductive move and one that would ultimately do harm to the image of women who, through that very ideology, would be confirming the notion that, whatever their qualities, they are lacking in both competence and legitimacy.

It is indeed necessary to give women easier access to certain jobs or areas of responsibility from which they have so far been excluded or in which they have hitherto been under-represented, but let us not go to extremes or be over-zealous in courting popular opinion, for we should in that way only be damaging the cause of women.

 
  
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  Anna Záborská (PPE-DE), in writing.(FR) At a time when we are taking stock of the last two years’ parliamentary work done by the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality, I must thank President Borrell, Chairman of the High-Level Group, who has shown much perspicacity and diplomacy in supporting our work, as well as Mrs Kaufmann, the Deputy Chairman, who has given very close attention to the work of this group, which is a vital tool for cooperation that cuts across a variety of areas.

The competences of the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality, defined by Parliament’s Rules of Procedure, are such that elected representatives have responsibility for monitoring all matters relating to equality in the European Parliament, including the budget, information policy concerning women and legislation on equal opportunities policy, as well as responsibility for joining with the administration in implementing the equal opportunities dimension and continuing to integrate it into all sectors, including staffing policy.

I should also like to say how much I appreciate the vigilance of all my fellow Members and, in particular, of Mrs Gröner, who was the catalyst for this whole initiative and who emphasised in her report that the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality is the main body in the European Parliament responsible for issues relating to women’s rights, equal opportunities and an integrated approach. I hope that this powerful collaboration will continue to inspire our work.

 
Last updated: 23 March 2007Legal notice