- Calendar of part-sessions of the European Parliament - 2008
Jan Andersson, Göran Färm, Anna Hedh, Inger Segelström and Åsa Westlund (PSE), in writing. (SV) Even though we are opposed to Parliament having part-sessions in Strasbourg, we have chosen to vote against the proposal to remove the Thursday sittings from the Strasbourg part-sessions. We want Parliament’s activities to be moved to Brussels, but a change limited to removing the Thursday sittings would have the effect only of making Parliament’s work less effective. The savings to be made from such a change would be marginal and the environmental benefits non-existent, since the same loads would be transported and the same premises needed in the future too.
We wish to see a genuine change, involving a single seat and workplace for Parliament in Brussels - something we also proposed in the Leinen report on the Intergovernmental Conference.
Glyn Ford (PSE), in writing. I voted for all the amendments to the calendar that reduced the amount of time that the European Parliament spends in Strasbourg. The City is a lovely one and its people wonderful. But we have to end this travelling circus that costs up to GBP 400 million a year for the people of Europe and which simultaneously impedes the efficiency of the work of the Union. This Parliament needs a single working place on grounds of politics and economy. We must do whatever is necessary to achieve this.
Timothy Kirkhope (PPE-DE), in writing. I and my British Conservative colleagues believe that the European Parliament must have one permanent seat – in Brussels. We have campaigned for many years to end the existence of two seats and the EUR 200 million per year this costs the taxpayer and the millions of pounds it costs the British taxpayer. In addition, we are seriously concerned at the environmental impact the existence of two seats has in terms of carbon emissions.
We have supported an amendment to the calendar for 2008 which sought to delete Thursday sittings in Strasbourg. This is not in any way an alternative to the principled position we hold which is to end Strasbourg sessions, but recognition of the fact that the Treaties currently demand that 12 sessions must be held in Strasbourg. We call on the European Council to include this issue in the mandate for the IGC, the only forum where this matter can be resolved.
Hannu Takkula (ALDE). – (FI) Mr President, it is obvious that decision-making in the Union needs to be clarified. That does not have to mean, however, that the Union should move towards becoming a federation with concentrated power. I voted in favour of power remaining primarily with the Member States and the Union only being able to exercise that power which the independent Member States are ready and willing to hand over to it.
As regards this vote on whether the Intergovernmental Conference should address the issue of Parliament’s seat, I do not think that it is appropriate to put it on the IGC’s agenda. If, however, it does address the matter, and if we decide to have just one seat, which would be a reasonable solution, I think that Strasbourg is the best place, because Strasbourg is the real European capital. I do not believe, however, that it would be realistic.
Jan Andersson, Göran Färm, Inger Segelström and Åsa Westlund (PSE), in writing. (SV) We have voted in favour of the report, although we do not share the view that it is regrettable that symbols such as the flag and the anthem have been removed from the new draft Treaty. Nor do we believe that the draft Treaty gives an impression of distrust vis-à-vis the Union and sends the wrong signals to the public.
It is good that the primary content of the original draft Constitution is being retained. It is particularly important that enlargement is being made easier, that collective agreements and the right to take industrial action in accordance with national practice are being bolstered and that transparency in the EU is to increase.
Johannes Blokland (IND/DEM), in writing. (NL) A moment ago, I voted against Mr Leinen’s resolution on the convening of the Intergovernmental Conference (IGC) for the reason that I am opposed to this IGC being convened, since I support the introduction of a fresh treaty.
The reason for my ‘no’ vote lies in the fact that, in too many instances, the resolution continues to refer to certain elements of the Constitutional Treaty, such as the use of the word ‘constitution’ and the Union’s symbols. I am, on the other hand, relieved, if nothing else, that a new treaty has been stripped of this constitutional symbolism – a position, in fact, that is also shared by the Dutch Government. As a result, the EU is partly stripped of its stately aspirations.
Neither can I identify with the harsh words that have been addressed to those Member States that have managed to secure an opt-out for the Charter. Even without explicit mention in a new treaty, the Charter remains legally binding. As such, this is mainly a case of symbolism.
I have voted against this resolution precisely because it treasures these constitutional aspirations of the Union. The European Parliament would do well to follow the Council in adopting a certain level of common sense and realism surrounding the coming into being of a new treaty.
Jens-Peter Bonde (IND/DEM), in writing. (DA) The report is quick to approve the convening of an Intergovernmental Conference, which will work in secret during the summer recess in order to avoid publicity and debate with the electorate.
Instead, the June Movement proposes an open and democratically elected convention with the task of drawing up a new document to be put to referendums in all the EU countries.
On 23 June 2007, the Brussels summit adopted a form of wording in which the legal obligations for citizens and Member States are identical to the obligations under the rejected Constitution.
The word ‘Constitution’ goes out of the window, only then to be legally reintroduced through an express acknowledgement of the European Court of Justice’s interpretation of the EU’s legal system as being, specifically, a constitutional system.
There is no longer any mention of a flag, anthem or national day, but they are still there, unchanged.
The foreign minister gets a new title, but one that is so lengthy that the press will call him a foreign minister. His powers remain unchanged. The only real change is the seven to ten-year postponement of double majority voting, which gives much more power to the largest countries, especially Germany and – perhaps – Turkey.
The legal obligations are unchanged, and referendums should, as a minimum, be held in those countries that had decided to hold them.
What would be easiest is for a referendum to be held on the same day in all the EU countries. In that way we should have the judgment of the people, and it is the people that we are in this House to serve. Seventy-seven per cent of EU citizens want a referendum, with only 20% opposed to one.
The June Movement therefore supports the signature campaign.
Edite Estrela (PSE), in writing. (PT) I voted in favour of the Leinen report on the convening of the Intergovernmental Conference, because I am convinced that the combined work of the European Parliament, the European Commission and the European Council, under the Portuguese Presidency, will enable us to find a solution to the deadlocks and obstacles that remain present in the European project and to build ‘a stronger Europe for a better world’.
Ilda Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) In voting in favour of the report and point 8 thereof, the majority in Parliament has just recognised and welcomed the mandate from the European Council to the IGC and the fact that it ‘safeguards much of the substance of the Constitutional Treaty’.
Despite a massive campaign to conceal the true scope and objectives of the mandate, it is becoming increasingly clear that in ‘this big change’ everything has remained the same, that is to say, the aim is to circumvent the legitimate rejection of the so-called Constitutional Treaty by the people of France and the Netherlands, and to prevent the people of every Member State from freely expressing their views on a ‘new’ Treaty.
The majority in Parliament would like to go even further. It regrets the loss of certain important points that had been agreed during the 2004 IGC, and states its ‘firm resolve to put forward, after the 2009 elections, new proposals on a further constitutional settlement for the Union’.
We wish to state once again that it is time to listen to the demands of the people, to strengthen democracy, to commit ourselves to a fairer Europe, to social progress and to a better distribution of income. It is time to respect the principle of sovereign States with equal rights, to strengthen cooperation and solidarity at international level and to make a firm commitment to peace.
Glyn Ford (PSE), in writing. I am disappointed that this House rejected Amendment 1 by Mr Alvaro and others that would have added to the mandate of the later Governmental Conference on the Treaty revision the issue of a single seat in Brussels for the European Parliament. It is quite beyond me that 380 of my colleagues support the continuation of this ongoing farce we all endure.
There are other issues with this report that would make it difficult for me to vote in favour. Nevertheless, this failure alone to deal with the single seat makes it impossible for me to even consider voting in favour.
Robert Goebbels (PSE), in writing. – (FR) I abstained from voting on the resolution on the forthcoming Intergovernmental Conference because I believe that the last European summit failed in its objective to revive Europe. At best, we will have a minimalist treaty, which will, of course, enable some progress to be made, but which will leave the United Kingdom new opportunities to opt-out. That is particularly true where the Charter of Fundamental Rights is concerned. How can the Court of Justice of the European Communities apply this Charter when it will not be valid in the United Kingdom?
Hélène Goudin (IND/DEM), in writing. (SV) I have voted against this report because I believe it is completely divorced from reality. The fact is that the populations of France and the Netherlands rejected the draft EU Constitution in referendums. If referendums had also taken place in, for example, Sweden, Denmark and the United Kingdom, a majority of the voters in these countries too would certainly have rejected it. Now, the summit has removed the symbols and rejected the proposals for an EU anthem and an EU flag. When it comes, however, to the EU’s future legislative powers over the Member States, there is no distinction between the rejected draft Constitution and what is now being proposed.
It is also interesting to note how, in the draft report, the European Parliament’s federalist majority is now trying to get round the rejection of the anthem and flag.
I have voted in favour of extending the mandate of the Intergovernmental Conference so that it is possible to move the seat of the European Parliament from Strasbourg to Brussels.
When it comes to the issue of referendums on the new Treaty, I believe that each country must decide for itself whether or not to organise a referendum. I believe that they should do so, but the European Parliament as an institution must not interfere in the matter.
Pedro Guerreiro (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) The real scope of the ongoing machinations surrounding the so-called ‘new’ Treaty is mirrored in the resolution adopted by the majority in Parliament today.
Two aspects should be emphasised:
- It confirms that the contemptible (and false) ‘period of reflection’ has merely been used to reach the conclusion that the content of the rejected Treaty must be preserved. That confirmation is now enshrined in the mandate for the ‘new’ reform of the treaties;
- The incredible display of cynicism and hypocrisy by the majority in Parliament, which, it should be emphasised, includes the political forces that dominate the various governments of the EU countries, and which, having rejected the proposals for amendment calling referendums to be held on the so-called ‘new’ Treaty, ‘calls on the IGC and the Commission to put forward specific proposals to involve European citizens once again (…) in a dialogue in the continuation of the constitutional process’.
It is vital to condemn an operation aimed at imposing the essential thrust of a Treaty that has already been rejected, by dressing it up in order to try to prevent binding national referendums from being held. That is why we voted to reject the mandate to the IGC and this decision by Parliament.
Marian Harkin (ALDE), in writing. I disagree with this amendment in that it insists on the need to hold referenda in all Member States where that is possible. This is a direct interference with the principle of subsidiarity and it is within the competence of Member States only to make the decision as to whether or not they should hold a referendum.
Anna Hedh (PSE), in writing. (SV) I do not believe that the new draft Treaty is very much different to the previous one and I cannot therefore support the report. Amendments requiring that referendums be held before any change to the treaties was implemented were presented for voting on. Even though I personally am in favour of a referendum in Sweden on the new Treaty, I think that it would be a mistake for such a referendum to be demanded at EU level. It is not the European Parliament’s job to decide whether or not the Member States should hold referendums.
Timothy Kirkhope (PPE-DE), in writing. I and my British Conservative colleagues have voted against this report as we fundamentally disagree with the draft mandate for the proposed Intergovernmental Conference. We believe that the text of the draft mandate for the IGC as agreed at the European Council in June 2007 is, in all but name, the European Constitution which was rejected by the people of France and the Netherlands in their referendums in 2005.
Further, we wish to make clear that since the United Kingdom government firmly promised the British people a referendum on that European Constitution, it has both a moral obligation and a democratic duty to submit any new treaty arising from the IGC that transfers powers from Britain to the European Union.
Marie-Noëlle Lienemann (PSE), in writing. – (FR) I consider it unacceptable that the European Parliament should have rejected the request for a referendum on the new institutional treaty.
Indeed, the ‘No’ vote cast by the people of France and of the Netherlands on the old draft Constitution highlighted a huge gap between the expression of the people and that of the leaders and elected representatives, whether national or European. It is therefore only by consulting the citizens once again that we can legitimise this new treaty. It would be best if this referendum were European.
The European Parliament should not be surprised that it has discredited itself in the eyes of the citizens with these kinds of reports!
David Martin (PSE), in writing. I very much support the convening of the IGC, however there were many elements contained within this report that go beyond the mandate agreed by the council and I could therefore not support it. I sincerely hope however the IGC succeeds in agreeing a reform treaty.
Andreas Mölzer (ITS), in writing. (DE) In order to give EU citizens as few opportunities as possible to criticise or even object to the new version of the EU Constitution, it is being pushed through with a fast-track procedure. The citizens, though, will rumble us straight away if we try to convince them that this is a new document, even though most of the substance remains the same and only the packaging has changed. At the same time as we talk about a new Treaty, we are also assured that no new referenda will be needed. Quite the opposite is true.
This approach will not bring the EU of the citizens any closer, nor will the fact that more competences have been handed over to Brussels, that we have wasted another chance to define our borders and that we have failed to apply the brakes in our negotiations with Turkey. We need a federal Europe, in which the sovereign population can again exercise more of its participation rights. Only then will we really be on a viable route forward; everything else is just the pipe dreams of an isolated EU elite. This is why I voted against the report.
Cristiana Muscardini (UEN), in writing. (IT) I would like to state my agreement with the convening of the Conference, which, within the framework of the conclusions of the European Council of 21-22 June this year, is due to draft amendments to the treaties in force. This will mark an end to the long transition phase during which the Union has experienced, in addition to lost illusions, ideals reaffirmed and hopes renewed. One thing is certain: the attempt to break the monopoly on political legitimacy possessed by the nation states – a legacy of the 17th-century Treaty of Westphalia – has failed. The Europe that can be glimpsed – that of the Euro-realists – must be able to prove that a Union of sovereign states is capable of acting effectively through the expression of a common will. If this is not the case, Europe will have to give up for a long time its hopes of playing an important role in international relations and in the balance between the major powers.
I welcome the strengthening of the ways in which our Assembly participates in the work of the Conference and I hope that, for transparency’s sake, the results of that work are published, including in the form of a provisional consolidated version of the treaties. The Europe of the peoples and nations is taking shape. My firm wish is that, with this future in prospect, the conference does not disappoint us.
Athanasios Pafilis (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (EL) The report on the opinion of the European Parliament on convergence and the content of the Intergovernmental Conference exceeds even the reactionary agreement of the EU Council on the ‘reform treaty’, as the resuscitated but worse version of the ‘European Constitution’ has been christened. The conservatives and social democrats – including the entire body of MEPs from PASOK and New Democracy – and the liberals and Greens have enthusiastically welcomed the agreement to codify and amend for the worse the reactionary EU Treaty. Surpassing even the Council, they are calling for even more advanced reactionary changes, such as the introduction of a Community constitutional order which will establish the precedence of Community law over the national laws of the Member States and further reinforce the sovereignty of the supranational construct of the EU, to which almost all the sovereign rights of the Member States will be ceded.
At the same time, these forces rejected en masse the proposal for the new Treaty to be put to the peoples of Europe for approval in referenda in the Member States. Thus they are demonstrating their complete disregard for the will of the European peoples, especially those that rejected the ‘European Constitution’ in their referenda, their real fear of the people and the use of the European Parliament as a body for the pseudo-democratic legitimisation of all the anti-working class and reactionary policies of the ΕU.
Marco Pannella (ALDE), in writing. (IT) Mr President, members of the Council and of the Commission, unfortunately and prophetically, as far back in 1942, the Ventotene Manifesto denounced your Europe of the nations as the main danger opposing the United States of Europe, or the European motherland. On 14 February 1984 the European Parliament overcame this lethal policy. Now, in revenge, the European Council has launched a real blitzkrieg, in the style of General Erwin Rommel, to impose obedience on us – obedience that has suddenly now shamefully been given – as ‘parliaments’ from the 1930s, fascists or communists or as continental cowards.
You are afraid of words; of our hymn, our symbol, our name, of ‘laws’ – but this is a forbidden term, you prefer to call them ‘directives’. Those days are past: now, suddenly, it is the time of Great France, Strong Germany, the clerical and authoritarian, if not racist, party in Poland, an Italy that is good for nothing, that is, for everything. You are afraid just as the powerful and the over-bearing are afraid. We will fight against this disgrace: as European federalists, in the names of those whom you are betraying: Spinelli, Adenauer, Schuman, De Gasperi, Monnet. As radical federalists, of the Transnational and Transparty Non-violent Radical Party, and as members of the Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe, which we fear is today making a mistake. I hope that the error is ours, but I am unfortunately convinced that it is not. Long live the European motherland! I vote ‘No’!
Tobias Pflüger (GUE/NGL), in writing. (DE) Why am I voting against the EU Reform Treaty and the Intergovernmental Conference mandate?
Ireland's Prime Minister, Mr Ahern, has said that round 90% of the core European Constitution package remains unchanged. Mathematically that is true, but the people of France and the Netherlands have been cheated.
'The second Chapter contains the provisions of Title V of the existing TEU, as amended in the 2004 IGC (including the European External Action Service and the permanent structured cooperation in the field of defence).' (IGC mandate)
Thus all the rules in the Constitution relating to defence will be included in the new EU Reform Treaty. In practice, that means the Treaty will contain the following:
1. EU commitment to increasing military capacities;
2. EU Armaments Agency (now in the Treaty);
3. New military intervention options such as 'disarmament measures', for which read disarmament by force;
4. Military support for third countries 'in combating terrorism in their territory';
5. Close cooperation between the EU and NATO;
6. No European Parliament powers of scrutiny for common foreign and security policy;
7. The ECJ has no power to rule on matters of foreign and security policy;
8. Military solidarity clause on combating terrorism;
9. EU battle groups for EU rapid military inventions around the world (now included in the Treaty);
10. Structured military cooperation. Individual Member States can press ahead with defence policy;
11. Provision for an independent EU defence budget in addition to individual national defence budgets.
EU armament and EU militarisation have been speeded up. The defence sector was the backbone of the Constitution. The planned Reform Treaty is also a military treaty.
Konrad Szymański (UEN), in writing. – (PL) Contrary to what the report says, a new onomatology, the symbols of Europe in the treaty would only result in incomprehension, and would suggest that the European Union is entering a phase of pseudo-statehood.
The mandate's flexibility as regards the opt-out is an expression of wisdom, and not of weakness. The same applies to the Charter of Fundamental Rights. The strong reaction to the charter only confirms the suspicion that its supporters merely view it as a means of extending the legal competence of the European Union through the back door.
The criticism of the mandate in the Leinen report is excessive, and makes compromise on the reform difficult. That is why I will vote against the report.
Jean-Pierre Audy (PPE-DE), in writing. – (FR) I voted in favour of the report by Mrs Kauppi on the proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Council Directive 78/855/EEC concerning mergers of public limited liability companies and Council Directive 82/891/EEC concerning the division of public limited companies as regards the requirement for an independent expert's report on the occasion of a merger or a division.
It is usual to examine regularly the usefulness of obligations to be met by corporate bodies, particularly with regard to administrative fees arising from these obligations. It is, nevertheless, advisable to examine carefully, in addition to the interests of the legal entity, the interests of third parties, whether they be share-holders, employees, suppliers, bankers, tax and social authorities, etc. Moreover, it would have been worth supplementing the items put forward by the Commission with an analysis of international practices in this area.
Zuzana Roithová (PPE-DE). – (CS) I too have voted today in favour of giving the Commission the power to make flexible amendments to annexes in order to set out a number of technical requirements and rules for vehicle checks in the European Union. These involve measures which are not related to the fundamental elements of the directive, but I would nevertheless like to say that the removal of older vehicles should be speeded up, not only in view of the safety issues but also because of the amount of air pollution they cause. On the one hand, we are making the production of new vehicles increasingly costly through ever more stringent emission standards, so that vehicles become harder to buy for the less well-off among our fellow citizens, and, on the other hand, this results in increasing numbers of older vehicles on the roads emitting harmful waste products. I call on the Commission to adopt a plan that will support the more rapid replacement of vehicles in the European Union.
Carlos Coelho (PPE-DE), in writing. (PT) This initiative forms part of the new financial instruments in the area of justice, freedom and security for the period 2007-2013, on which we have already reached agreement on the majority of our programmes. As regards the specific programmes ‘Civil Justice’ and ‘Drug prevention and information’, however, there is still some disagreement between Parliament, on the one hand, and the Council and the Commission, on the other hand, in terms of the comitology procedure that should apply.
I am pleased that we have finally succeeded in reaching an agreement between the three institutions, thereby providing a response to the need for continuous implementation of the new financial programmes, which are intended to cofinance projects and undertake actions of general interest in those areas.
Any further delays would undoubtedly have a highly detrimental impact in this area, and for its beneficiaries; delays would jeopardise the preparation of a reference framework on areas such as European contract law and would affect the continued work of the European judicial network.
Certain of those activities ought already to have had the benefit of financial support since the beginning of 2007, but have not obtained it because this programme has not been adopted, as in the case of the civil and commercial judicial network.
Jean-Pierre Audy (PPE-DE), in writing. – (FR) I voted in favour of the report by Mrs Lienemann on the proposal for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Directive 2000/60/CE establishing a framework for Community action in the field of water policy, as regards the implementing powers conferred on the Commission. I also voted in favour of the series of technical amendments by six political groups, including the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) and European Democrats, with the aim of specifying that the amendment of this Directive lies within the framework of the Joint Declaration of the European Parliament, Commission and Council relating to Decision 2006/512/CE on the introduction of regulatory procedure with scrutiny for a series of basic legal instruments, of which this proposal for a directive is one. It is nevertheless regrettable that the Commission does not make more strenuous efforts when editing its texts to take into account the comitology agreement, forcing Parliament to be vigilant as regards the division of powers. The Commission should be careful of the image it projects of wanting to regularly increase its powers. This behaviour by the Commission exasperates the citizens.
Jean-Pierre Audy (PPE-DE), in writing. – (FR) I voted in favour of the report by Mr Florenz on the proposal for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Directive 2000/53/CE on end-of-life vehicles, as regards the implementing powers conferred to the Commission. I also voted in favour of the series of technical amendments by six political groups, including the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) and European Democrats (PPE-DE), with the aim of specifying that the amendment of this Directive lies within the framework of the Joint Declaration of the European Parliament, Commission and Council relating to Decision 2006/512/CE on the introduction of regulatory procedure with scrutiny for a series of basic legal instruments, of which this proposal for a directive is one. It is nevertheless regrettable that the Commission, which has the monopoly on legislative initiative, does not make more strenuous efforts when editing its texts to take into account the comitology agreement (implementation of texts by the Commission), forcing Parliament to be vigilant as regards the division of powers. The Commission should be careful of the image it projects of wanting to regularly increase its powers. This behaviour by the Commission exasperates the citizens.
Richard Seeber (PPE-DE). – (DE) Mr President, I consider liberalisation of the postal services vital. However, it is also important that we have postponed the whole process by two years and market liberalisation will only take place in 2011.
It is right to introduce more competition in postal services. It will benefit the economy and consumers, but only if the underlying conditions are right. There has to be a guarantee that postal deliveries will maintain quality at a reasonable price. This needs to be feasible even in remote areas such as mountain regions and islands. Nor should the full burden of the liberalisation package be borne by postal services workers. This is why I have voted for the package.
Sylwester Chruszcz (NI). – (PL) Mr President, as a Polish MEP I support all the solutions for a free market and the free provision of services. But I would like to point out that the rapid liberalisation of the postal sector that has been forced through today may do more harm than good, as in the long term it will lead to the liquidation of national postal corporations, such as the Polish Post Office, and deliver them up to European fat cats like DHL, aka Deutsche Post. That is why I voted against the Ferber report.
Consumers have the right to free competition, but opening up the postal market must not be carried out hastily, at the cost of weaker enterprises that are not necessarily prepared for radical competition, and at the cost of thousands of jobs in Poland and other European Union countries.
Zsolt László Becsey (PPE-DE). – (HU) I myself support the direction of the compromise reached in the matter of liberalisation of postal services. In one section, though, I abstained, and I will tell you why. Point 7/a mentions those states that have received a transitional period until 2013. I abstained because I find it unacceptable to state about certain groups of states, en bloc, without case-by-case scrutiny, why they are receiving this transitional period. Among them are the new Member States, and this is what I find offensive, as it relegates my country and the other new Member States to the status of the Third World. We did not, after all, individually examine who would receive this and on what grounds.
I find it similarly unacceptable to say, in a slapdash fashion, that small states should receive transitional periods in certain matters, for which are these small states? We should therefore proceed with more precision, define more precisely who are we talking about. I hope that this will indeed be done at the second reading.
Zuzana Roithová (PPE-DE). – (CS) Mr President, this compromise is a total contradiction in terms. We are liberalising postal services so that competition will bring a wider range of services to consumers, as well as better quality and lower prices, but at the same time we are afraid that universal services may collapse in a market environment and therefore the liberalisation will be regulated. As an advocate of fair competition, I have voted for Amendment 2, so that the same obligations that apply to universal services will be binding on all players in the single market. This is of course disliked by the cherry-pickers, who have lobbied so vehemently against the proposal. Amendment 6 was essential for transparent accounting, so that the costs of the profitable products of companies are not bundled up into the costs of universal services. New technologies are competing against postal services but are not forcing them out of the market. Even if letter deliveries are in decline, parcel deliveries are essential to the development of Internet shopping. It is therefore not in the interests of consumers or businesses to leave postal services to their fate with nothing to fall back on.
Miroslav Mikolášik (PPE-DE). – (SK) We have just approved a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Directive 97/67/EC concerning the full establishment of an internal market for postal services in the Community.
The new directive sends many positive signals about the quality of services within the European Union, such as availability and, not least, the loss of the monopoly enjoyed by national operators on postal items weighing less than 50 g. I was in favour of a solution which would not terminate the monopoly until December 2010, that is, two years later than the date proposed by the Commission. The idea is, and here I agree with some of the Members of the lead Parliamentary Committee on Transport and Tourism, that some parts of the European Union which need more time to deliver postal items to destinations across the entire EU should have affordable prices.
For the new Member States, including Slovakia, the date of liberalisation should be 31 December 2012, in order to ensure that the most appropriate method of providing universal postal services can be found. I believe that we have resolved the disputes regarding dates and financing in a balanced manner and to the benefit of citizens in all Member States.
Zita Pleštinská (PPE-DE). – (SK) The liberalisation of postal services which is currently under way means that this sector is opening up to many interested parties.
I am convinced that the positive changes will also be enjoyed by ordinary citizens, as stronger competition brings better services, and the development of innovative products for consumers, who will be able to pick and choose from a variety of products and prices according to their own needs. For these reasons, I have voted in favour of Mr Markus Ferber's report, through which the European Parliament took the final step in dismantling the monopoly on the delivery of postal items weighing less than 50 g. Admittedly, change in the postal sector cannot be implemented overnight. For this reason, the European Parliament has drafted the directive on the liberalisation of postal services in an insightful and responsible manner, so as not to jeopardise these services in any part of the EU.
Thanks to amendments put forward by MEPs from the new Member States, it will be possible, subject to specific conditions, for the new EU-12 and states with a large number of islands to continue exempting these services and their providers up until 31 December 2012, to the extent that is necessary for preserving a universal service. The European Parliament did not leave out handicapped persons in its report. Amendment 47 instructs the Member States to ensure the provision of free-of-charge postal services to blind and visually impaired persons.
Czesław Adam Siekierski (PPE-DE). – (PL) Mr President, we have adopted Mr Ferber’s report on the full implementation of the internal Postal Services market. I believe that every citizen of the European Union must have the freedom to choose whose services he or she will use to send a letter, postcard or parcel.
Opening up the market will bring benefits to consumers and postal services users, and for the postal sector, particularly in the new Member States, it will mean further restructuring, cost cutting, innovation, the introduction of new services, including electronic services, and the ability to compete and stay afloat on the postal market.
Let us hope that opening up the postal services market will lead to an increase in the level of services offered, and greater customer care. More operators on the postal market means greater competition, lower prices and a greater choice of services.
Saïd El Khadraoui (PSE). – (NL) Mr President, along with the Flemish Socialists, we voted in favour of all amendments, including the compromise amendments, which represent progress compared to the original Commission proposal.
Eventually, however, we decided to reject the proposal with a view to sending out a strong message of continuing concern. Actually, a great deal of homework was given to the Member States to ensure that liberalisation would be accomplished successfully. They will need to ensure that their social laws apply to all operators and that, by 2010, they can demonstrate how they will finance the universal provision of service in a competitive market. As we see it, it would have been preferable to wait and see before taking a final decision.
Kader Arif (PSE), in writing. – (FR) The new Postal Directive against which I voted is a textbook case when it comes to studying the ideological stubbornness of the Commission. Abolishing the reserved area for mail weighing less than 50 grams is as good as signing the death warrant of the public postal service.
The Commission and certain Members of this Parliament would have us believe that the ‘universal postal service’ is safeguarded by this Directive. By rejecting the reserved area as a funding method, we are faced with an impossible equation: the Member States – which already have limited budgets – should fund the universal service. There is no economic or rational reason why the ‘reserved area’ should be excluded from the possible funding methods, except to undermine the universal postal service.
Job insecurity, a reduction in the number of post offices, an increase in tariffs for private individuals, the end of standardised tariffs and thus of equality of access to the postal service – that is what has just been voted for. I remain convinced that public services can function in an EU-wide network. This is possible and desirable if we want to create a real European Community.
This Directive makes us renounce the very function of politics: that of regulating and managing economic activity and the market, in order to achieve objectives relating to land management, solidarity, development and so on.
Jean-Pierre Audy (PPE-DE), in writing. – (FR) I voted in favour of the excellent report by Mr Ferber concerning the full accomplishment of the internal market in postal services. First, I am delighted that the gradual and controlled market opening is being carried out in accordance with the 1994 European Council Resolution, whilst assuring the lasting provision of the universal postal service. There is a good, balanced political compromise between the Group of the European People's Party (Christian Democrats) and European Democrats, the Socialist Group in the European Parliament and the Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe. The date of 31 December 2010 put forward by Parliament is more realistic than 1 January 2009, as put forward by the Commission.
I voted in favour of various amendments, aimed at ensuring that the financing of the universal service is monitored at all times in a completely liberalised postal market, and with regard to the definition of this universal service, which must ensure collection and delivery to homes or to the premises of any natural or legal person every working day, including in isolated or sparsely populated areas. Moreover, the Member States should ensure that an adequate number of points of access are established in rural and sparsely populated areas.
Bernadette Bourzai (PSE), in writing. – (FR) I voted against the draft Postal Directive because the amendments tabled by Parliament, on the proposal of the Commission, in favour of the total liberalisation of the postal sector on 1 January 2009, and in particular the two-year postponement, are unsatisfactory to me.
Paradoxically, this new stage of liberalisation is going to result in additional public spending because, at the same time, the Commission is forcing the Member States to choose a method of funding universal service obligations.
The fact is, the three proposed funding options have already been tested out in some Member States and have caused major disputes. Furthermore, the idea of maintaining the reserved area (or residual monopoly for mail weighing less than 50 grams) has not been taken up even though the reserved area is one of the most effective and transparent funding options. Maintaining the reserved area is a political choice that I support but that the Commission and, today, most MEPs, reject.
I do not believe that the Commission’s objectives to improve service – quality, price and choice – and to release the sector's growth potential can be achieved in this way. On the contrary, I fear the worst when it comes to the future of the rural areas, mountain regions and islands.
Françoise Castex (PSE), in writing. – (FR) I voted against the liberalisation of postal services. Furthermore, I supported the request to reject this directive on the grounds that the motivations for this proposal are contradictory and unachievable in terms of guaranteeing the universality of the service, the funding methods of which do not safeguard the right for all European citizens to have their post collected and dispatched on a daily basis.
What is more, I believe that setting, in principle, a deadline for the expiry of Directive 97/67 does not fit in with the results of the consultation of the social actors concerned and of the Member States. They have indicated the need to maintain the guarantees of the universal service in a uniform, proportional and fair way.
As far as I am concerned, this proposal offers no guarantees when it comes to dealing seriously with the social aspects of this liberalisation in order to prevent competition on the job market and social dumping.
Charlotte Cederschiöld, Christofer Fjellner, Gunnar Hökmark and Anna Ibrisagic (PPE-DE), in writing. (SV) In the final vote on the Ferber report on the liberalisation of postal services, we have chosen to support the compromise adopted.
We are thus supporting the quickest possible way of achieving the full liberalisation of postal services in Europe. At the same time, we regret that that there is strong opposition to fulfilling earlier objectives of accomplishing the liberalisation by no later than 2009. Today’s decision is a step in the right direction, even though we had hoped to have managed completely to deregulate postal services within the ten-year period set aside for using the Lisbon process to make the EU into the world’s most competitive economy.
Robert Goebbels (PSE), in writing. – (FR) The abolition of the final postal monopoly was by no means necessary to safeguard an internal market benefiting consumers. The Commission drew up such proposals on purely ideological grounds, urged on by countries such as the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and the Scandinavian countries, that is, by the champions of the unbridled free market. It is no coincidence that these same countries are opposed to a more political integration of Europe. Even in the United States, the US Postal Service, for obvious reasons of protecting jobs, maintains final distribution in the public system. Although the European Parliament has given a bit of breathing space to some countries, including mine, this liberalisation will not benefit the common citizen.
Bruno Gollnisch (ITS), in writing. – (FR) The report by Mr Ferber on the liberalisation of the postal sector does not solve any of the problems posed by the Commission text: the funding of universal service obligations – not least those that are not mentioned in the Directive and that exist in France in particular, such as low-cost newspaper distribution, land management, deliveries six days out of seven, banking for all – the implicit calling into question of the single tariff and of standardised tariffs by the obligation to reflect costs, the involvement (practical or financial involvement) of private operators in terms of meeting public service obligations, and so on.
Based as it is on an incomplete study, which is mistaken on certain points and which neglects to mention the real results of 10 years of partially liberalised postal services, this text could only be bad and the compromise shaky. It is a source of legal uncertainty and social threat. As a result, the Commission’s real objective appears clear as day. As is usually the case in these kinds of matters, this is much less about making the services provided to the public and to the authorities more effective and less costly than about breaking public monopolies and permitting private operators – multinationals, preferably – to cream off profitable markets.
Hélène Goudin (IND/DEM), in writing. (SV) I am generally sceptical about the consequences that the deregulation of postal services has had for the average consumer, particularly in sparsely populated districts.
I have voted in favour of all of the European Parliament’s draft amendments. However, I have also supported important amendments stating, for example, that post must be collected from, and distributed to, every physical or legal person’s residence or premises every weekday and that, in a deregulated market exposed to competition, there must be an obligation to make cost-free services available to blind and visually impaired people. I have also voted in favour of a number of proposals giving the Member States greater freedom to choose how to strike a balance between deregulation of the postal market and services benefiting the whole of society.
Pedro Guerreiro (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) Once again the majority in Parliament is encouraging the total liberalisation of a public service, in this case postal services, thereby endangering the rights and interests of the people and of the workers in that sector.
We much regret the non-adoption of our proposal to reject this Commission initiative, which is intended to complete the liberalisation of postal services throughout the EU and to promote competition in this supranational internal market.
We also regret the rejection of the amendments in which we argued that the Member States should retain the exclusive rights in a reserved area, and safeguard the social and employment rights of the sector, including adherence to terms and conditions of employment and the social security systems established by law or collective agreement.
Although certain aspects have been improved in relation to the Commission’s original proposal, the report confirms the total liberalisation of the postal service, only deferring it until 31 December 2010, thus achieving the objective originally laid down by the first directive of 1997, namely the dismantling of a profitable public sector – the postal sector – and its subsequent hand-over to private interests.
This, in stark relief, is EU policy, to which the workers and the people of the various EU Member States must respond appropriately.
Marian Harkin (ALDE), in writing. I fully support amendment 63 which ensures that sufficient access and contact points are established to take account of the needs of users of rural and sparsely populated areas. It is appropriate that Member States should determine the minimum number of access and contact points so that the universal service can be guaranteed. Economic and social cohesion is one of the objectives of EU policy and this amendment will help to ensure this particular objective. It is crucial that, when we open up the market in postal services, we maintain an adequate service for all users.
Stanisław Jałowiecki (PPE-DE), in writing. – (PL) Unfortunately, I cannot support Mr Ferber’s report. It sometimes happens that in an entirely decent proposal of the European Commission, following work in the Parliamentary Committee, there is something that one cannot come to terms with. That is the case here.
In the first place, the amendments voted in the Committee on Transport and Tourism are essentially not a compromise at all. This is a decisive victory for the state monopolies fighting change. You can be certain that the extra years that they are allowed will not result in the necessary reforms, and that in a few years we will again have demonstrations outside Parliament.
Secondly, I am concerned by the fact that the arguments of representatives of the ‘old’ Member States keep on inferring that the ‘new’ Member States are not ready for liberalisation. Those ‘defenders’ of the Polish, Hungarian or Czech post offices are in reality defending the industry interests of the French, Belgian or Luxembourg monopolies. This is not fair play.
And finally the dates, giving the 31st of December of the previous year, rather than the 1st of January of the following year. This is a marketing ploy, in the same way it is easier to sell something that costs EUR 9.99, rather than 10. Is this what we have been reduced to for gaining public confidence in our policy?
Thank you for your attention.
Fernand Le Rachinel (ITS), in writing. – (FR) In France, La Poste is not an ordinary company; it is a State enterprise, run by revolutionary trade unionists. It is a public service that is totally under the thumb of corporatist, private-sector, interests.
Why strive to protect the public service provided by La Poste when, in reality, it is not one? The customer has nothing to say and the trade unions claim to act in his interests. The boss (the State) and the shareholders (every person in France) are petrified at the idea of seeing the system held up by certain workers who are represented by omnipotent and totalitarian trade unions.
No opposition force is taking action to balance the rights and powers that these workers have granted themselves, and it is the general interest that is being scorned.
Must La Poste be liberalised? Must damage be done to this totally corrupted system, which is aimed not at satisfying customers, but simply at becoming part of the private sector, demonstrating so-called 'acquired' benefits and demanding the preservation of those benefits?
The answer is categorically: yes, and quickly. La Poste must now make huge efforts to make up for its major handicaps, which are: its huge wage bill, its pension burden and its complex, cumbersome, costly and failing organisation.
Jörg Leichtfried (PSE), in writing. (DE) I am voting in favour of the joint compromise on full competition in EU postal services on 1 January 2011.
However, I should say that I am only doing so because otherwise misguided legislation would have resulted in full liberalisation in 2009 in line with the Commission's wishes.
It is vital that the directive guarantees and ensures full service coverage. This means that all users should have access to a minimum of high-quality services at affordable prices. This so-called universal service also has to ensure one collection or delivery every working day even in remote or sparsely-populated areas. The Member States must establish and apply appropriate penalties for service providers who fail to comply with this requirement.
It is also worth stressing that the provisions of the directives on working conditions and working time, annual leave for young workers, minimum wages, and health, safety and hygiene at work still all apply. Nor does the directive affect relationships between the social partners (such as the right to collective bargaining, the right to strike and take industrial action).
Last of all, I would like to explain that I am voting against extending the deadline for the so-called new EU Member States by two years because I believe that we live in a single Europe, not a divided Europe.
Marie-Noëlle Lienemann (PSE), in writing. – (FR) I cannot accept this total deregulation or the abolition of the Member States’ ‘reserved area’ for postal missions.
This across-the-board opening up to competition harms the single piece tariff, equality of treatment for the regions and the presence of postal services in disadvantaged sectors. Even in the United States, competition is not obligatory for standard mail – weighing less than 50 g – and it is distributed by a federal agency.
Clearly, the methods of funding compensation for the universal service, reduced as it is to a minimum, will in no way safeguard the public service, and extending the deadline for the implementation of this liberalisation does not really solve a thing.
The Council of European Ministers has just decided to create a ‘protocol on public services in support of the Treaty’.
It would be quite normal to suspend any new opening up to competition of these services.
Dimitrios Papadimoulis (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (EL) I voted against the Ferber report because it strengthens the dogmatic neo-liberal approach to the crucial sector of public interest of postal services. The European Commission has insisted intransigently on its initial proposals, despite the acute reactions of ten traditional universal service providers, including the Hellenic Post Offices, petitions by thousands of citizens and the warnings of the European Trade Union Confederation and the Federation of Postal Workers. At the same time, the necessary studies on the impact of the liberalisation of the market on the 27 Member States have not yet been completed.
With the hasty opening up of the market and, to all intents and purposes, the abolition of the ‘principle of universal service’, it is a foregone conclusion that thousands of jobs will be lost and, at the same time, citizens’ access to cheap, high-quality postal services will be restricted. The consequences will be even more serious for residents of remote and inaccessible mountain or island areas, which will not be profitable to the undertakings.
The postponement of the entry into force of the new directive is only of minor importance, because it simply postpones the negative consequences for two years.
Furthermore, experience to date in the countries in which the market has already been fully liberalised has been anything but positive.
The demand for the liberalisation of postal services ‘because we want to’ is probably creating problems rather than solutions.
Luís Queiró (PPE-DE), in writing. (PT) A Europe that can provide solutions to its citizens’ everyday problems must be armed with only the best documents and examples. Thus, with regard to the legislation on the completion of the postal services market we see no reason to destroy systems that have worked efficiently, on a sound economic basis, along with the beneficial development of the market and safeguards for the maintenance of the universal service.
While I do not oppose the liberalisation of postal services in principle, I consider this the appropriate place to reiterate my view that there is no economic or rational argument for setting aside the ‘reserved area’ of possible ways of financing the general postal service. Financing via the reserved area is transparent and neutral, does not entail state aid, involves low transaction costs and few disputes and is validated by economic theory.
Proof of this can be found in Portugal, where all services are liberalised or ready for liberalisation, but that does not conflict with the financing of the universal public service out of resources from the reserved area. We cannot ignore the importance of the reserved area for territorial and social cohesion and for the prevention of desertification in more remote and inaccessible areas.
Frédérique Ries (ALDE), in writing. – (FR) Like the great majority of my fellow Members, I voted in favour of the Ferber report, that is, in favour of the total, controlled, liberalisation of postal services on 1 January 2011.
Indeed, the compromise adopted today responds to two dynamics that are dear to me as a liberal: that of an open market economy that is incompatible with de facto and de jure built monopolies, and that of the specific interests of consumers, who must benefit from genuine and fair competition, chiefly in terms of price, but not just price!
For there is another major element: the human dimension. I welcome the fact that the vote, this lunchtime, has taken account of the human dimension through the introduction of a social regulation clause, the reaffirmation of the crucial role played by postal services in terms of social and territorial cohesion and the last word being given to the Member States where the funding of the universal service is concerned.
These are so many positive signals that should reassure European post office workers, and also make it possible to dispel the confusion skilfully maintained by certain Members on the left: liberalising a sector does not mean privatising it; this European directive does not mean closing post offices!
Martine Roure (PSE), in writing. – (FR) The aim of this Commission proposal is to totally open up to competition the EU’s postal services markets by 2009, in accordance with the deadline set in the current Postal Directive. In this context, the European Commission has submitted a text that is aimed at guaranteeing funding for the universal service by putting an end to the ‘reserved area’ and replacing it with new funding tools.
I am against the total liberalisation of postal services. Indeed, the post office fulfils a public service mission that we must preserve. That is why I co-tabled and voted for an amendment calling for the reintroduction of the ‘reserved area’ as one of the methods of funding the universal service. Indeed, at the present time, no economic reason justifies the abolition of the ‘reserved area’. This funding method, which works very well at the moment, should be one of the options offered to the Member States.
In view of the fact that this option has not been taken up by the plenary of the European Parliament, I voted against the final text in order to indicate my opposition to this unjustifiable liberalisation.
Peter Skinner (PSE), in writing. I can support the general approach born out of compromises brought about by PES colleagues and others in the House. In particular, I am concerned that there are guarantees about universal service provision and its financing. In measuring the way that this will have impact in our communities it is vital that two things are addressed directly. Firstly, that working conditions are maintained and, secondly, that rural and peripheral areas are successfully provided for as they are now. These are some of the challenging issues that must be taken into account for the report to be taken seriously as something that benefits all European citizens.
Bart Staes (Verts/ALE), in writing. (NL) The Ferber report is yet another report on the liberalisation of universal services which is missing out on the huge opportunity to guarantee, in addition to the freedom ideal, the principle of equality in a social Europe.
Postal services are welcome to compete with each other, but whether the quality will improve as a result and prices will fall remains to be seen. It is irresponsible, as I see it, for the new Directive not to offer any clear guarantees in respect of the quality of the so-called ‘reserved area’, that the funding of such service remains ambiguous and that the social arrangements that have been included in collective labour agreements do not have to be respected as a compulsory measure. When the market opens up fully in 2009, it is uncertain whether more remote areas will receive the same level of service at the same price compared to densely populated areas. The ability to send and receive letters at a reasonable price is a fundamental right.
Moreover, postal service providers will do their utmost to keep the costs to a minimum in order to compete with each other. Permanent jobs will be replaced by uncertain, part-time jobs. Postmen will be underpaid, many will be dismissed, even more post offices will be at risk of closing down and soon we will have blue, yellow and green post boxes in addition to the red ones. I do not support the report.
Konrad Szymański (UEN), in writing. – (PL) The red tape facing firms posting workers within the European market is nothing more than a modern form of protectionism, aimed mainly at the new Member States, as shown by the examples of the Vaxholm and Viking Line cases.
This resolution only reinforces this trend, which threatens the principles of a common market, competition and equal rights. That is why I voted against this opinion.
Marc Tarabella (PSE), in writing. – (FR) The vote on the liberalisation of postal services that was held today is the fruit of a compromise between the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) and European Democrats and the Socialist Group in the European Parliament. However, this compromise clearly implies the definitive liberalisation of the last sector of postal activities that is managed by the public authorities, and this without any guarantees regarding the funding of the universal service and the continued employment of Europe’s 1.6 million post office workers. As a member of the PSE Group, and as shadow rapporteur of the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection, I can only vote against this green light given to liberalisation, despite the improvement that has been made with regard to the Commission’s initial proposal.
Georgios Toussas (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (EL) Today’s decision by the European Parliament on the liberalisation of postal services by the MEPs of the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) and European Democrats, the social democrats, the liberals and other political forces is a heavy blow for workers in the sector and more generally.
The proposal paves the way for transferring the infrastructures and the public postal services sector as a whole to business groups in order to increase their profits.
The argument about falling prices due to competition is a myth because, with the proposed arrangements for abolishing uniform pricing and the terms on which the universal postal service is to be maintained, we shall have increases in prices and a deterioration in the postal services provided.
The labour and social rights of the workers will be put to a Procrustean bed, with the extension of flexible forms of employment, the blow to collective agreements and so forth.
There is doubt as to the confidentiality of communications, which is safeguarded constitutionally, as correspondence will be moved by private individuals, without any guarantee and with minimum facilities for checking if the confidentiality of correspondence and the protection of personal data are being safeguarded.
Postal services are a social commodity.
The Greek Communist Party voted against the proposal on the liberalisation of postal services.
Bernadette Vergnaud (PSE), in writing. – (FR) By abolishing the reserved area, which made it possible to fund the universal service – that guarantee of a quality public service for all – and by creating disharmony with funding methods that each Member State is left to decide on, the total liberalisation of postal services will result in the loss of solidarity between urban and rural regions, the enrichment of shareholders and an increase in local authorities’ public debt. I therefore voted in favour of the amendment aimed at reintroducing the reserved area, which satisfies more than 70% of Europeans. As a member of the Socialist Group in the European Union, I am in favour of a ‘postal’ Europe that consists of modern public services, but not at the cost of the loss of jobs and of human and regional solidarity.
The paradox of this proposal is that, without a new directive, liberalisation will take effect on 1 January 2009. An amendment rejecting the text proposed by the Confederal Group of the European United Left/Nordic Green Left makes this liberalisation effective on 1 January 2009, because, at this point in time, it is the 2002 directive that applies, and that alone, and that is why I did not endorse this amendment. I did, however, vote in favour of the amendment rejecting the text that, moreover, abolished the date of 1 January 2009. I did, of course, vote against the final text.
Dominique Vlasto (PPE-DE), in writing. – (FR) I wished to vote in favour of the compromise drawn up by Mr Ferber because it improves on certain points of the European Commission’s initial proposal.
It gives Europe’s post offices extra time in which to prepare to open up to competition, an event that has been pushed back to 1 January 2011 instead of 2009, as the Commission initially planned.
I also supported the compromise because it will protect the terms and conditions under which post office employees work. Market liberalisation cannot take place at the expense of workers, even if liberalisation benefits consumers.
Our vote also provides guarantees in relation to territorial cohesion. All users are in fact guaranteed to be able to have their post collected and distributed throughout the European Union at least five days a week.
Nevertheless, there remains a major difficulty, which will be the issue at stake at second reading. I am referring to the funding of the universal service. We need to have funding mechanisms that are legally secure and permanent. That is an essential precondition for the economic operators of the sector, a precondition without which I will be unable to commit myself to the total liberalisation of the sector.
Colm Burke, Avril Doyle, Jim Higgins, Mairead McGuinness and Gay Mitchell (PPE-DE), in writing. We voted against amendments 58 (Article 14a (new)), 59 (Article 15 (new)) and 61 (Paragraph 2a (new)).
We believe the social aspects of air transport employment deserve examination but that this should be carried out following the principles of ‘Better Regulation’, including proper research and appropriate consultation. The European Commission has embarked on such a study. It is, therefore, appropriate to wait for the conclusions of said study to see what actions, if any, the Commission says are required at Community level.
Christine De Veyrac (PPE-DE), in writing. – (FR) This report is important because it updates the law of the single market in air transport, and does so in particular with the aim of guaranteeing the uniform application of Community law in all of the Member States and of creating equal conditions for all airlines.
I am particularly pleased that Amendments 35 and 61, of which I voted in favour, have been endorsed by a large majority. The first amendment requests that the provisions concerning the law applicable to workers who are employed in a country other than that of the airline for which they work be made clearer.
The second amendment requests that the Commission present clear legislation in this area.
I think it important, in fact, that, in the current context, in which air transport is continually developing and airlines are opening establishments in various EU countries, the law applicable to the employees of these establishments be laid down in a clear manner.
Pedro Guerreiro (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) We regret the rejection of our amendments, which:
- emphasised ‘that deregulation has had a negative impact on the quality of employment and working conditions, and that its true effects on matters of security and the maintenance of a high-quality fleet should be assessed’;
- safeguard respect for workers' rights and collective bargaining:
‘Contracts and conditions of employment of air crews shall be governed by the legislation, collective agreements and all correlated rights of the country in which the worker normally carries out his duties and to which he returns on the conclusion of his activity, even if the worker in question is temporarily posted in another country’;
‘Member States shall ensure the correct implementation of Community and national social law and collective agreements as regards employees of a Community airline that carries out air transport services from an operational base situated outside the territory of the Member State in which the said Community airline has its principal establishment’;
Another of our amendments guaranteed the involvement of workers' representative organisations in decisions relating to the air transport sector.
Jörg Leichtfried (PSE), in writing. (DE) I am voting in favour of greater transparency for air tickets.
Up to now, flight prices have mostly been published without any information about the various cost factors. In future, passengers should now be given information about the actual ticket price and all additional costs such as taxes, airport taxes and booking fees when they make their booking, whether online or in a travel agency. This is an important measure to prevent consumers being tempted by misleading advertising and confusing price information to purchase ostensibly cheap tickets that subsequently turn out to cost much more than the figure quoted.
Consumers must be informed of the exact level and intended use of security information. Security taxes and fees must be transparent and may only be used to cover costs incurred by airports and during the flight.
David Martin (PSE), in writing. I voted in favour of this report which addresses misleading advertising and information of passengers. In particular, I welcome the fact that all air fares must now be published including all taxes, fees and charges added to the ticket price and known at the time of publication of the air fare. I believe that this report will greatly increase consumer rights.
Marianne Thyssen (PPE-DE), in writing. (NL) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, from the advertising campaigns for airline tickets, one gains the impression that it is possible to fly around Europe for just a handful of euros. The moment of disillusionment arrives when the time has come to settle up. All of a sudden, all kinds of additional costs are added to the price of the ticket in the form of levies, surcharges and taxes. Today, Parliament is putting a check on these evil practices. This is a welcome development, and this is why the report by the Committee on Transport and Tourism receives my unqualified support. The aviation consumer is entitled to a fair and transparent price without any nasty surprises. Following the introduction of additional protective rights for passengers in the case of overbooking, cancellation or delay of their flights, the European Parliament is once again taking the lead in protecting airline passengers. What is important is that Member States provide for effective sanctions quickly if these new provisions are not applied. Trust is good, but control is better.
Silvia-Adriana Ţicău (PSE), în scris. Am votat pentru raportul DeGutis privind „Regulile comune în domeniul aviaţiei civile” deoarece textul asigură reprezentarea tuturor punctelor de vedere exprimate. Consider pozitiv faptul că va fi asigurată nediscriminarea bazată pe locul de rezidenţă a operatorului de turism sau a pasagerului, deşi regret că nu s-a aprobat nediscriminarea pe baza canalelor de distribuţie. Astăzi, este posibil ca un bilet de avion Bucureşti-Bruxelles pentru acelaşi zbor operat de aceeaşi companie aeriană să coste diferit dacă biletul este cumpărat la Bucureşti, faţă de preţul biletului cumpărat la Bruxelles.
De asemenea, un pas important este protecţia ce va fi asigurată pasagerilor, prin noul text, în caz de faliment al operatorului aerian, situaţie care devine din ce în ce mai posibilă într-o epocă a operatorilor mici.
În altă ordine de idei, din păcate, chiar dacă există reguli privind protecţia pasagerilor în situaţii de întârzieri sau chiar anulări de zboruri, aceştia nu îşi cunosc drepturile şi implicit nu şi le pot apăra. Noi, deputaţii europeni, reprezentăm cetăţenii Europei şi iată că prin acest regulament se asigură condiţii mai bune pentru pasagerii ce utilizează transportul aerian. Avem datoria să ne asigurăm că pasagerii îşi cunosc drepturile şi implicit şi le pot apăra.
Jean-Pierre Audy (PPE-DE), in writing. – (FR) I voted in favour of the own-initiative report by Mrs van den Burg, in response to the Commission's White Paper on Financial Services Policy 2005-2010. I am pleased that this report congratulates the Commission on its priorities of consolidating the European financial market, removing obstacles to the free movement of capital and improving control of financial services. Concentration risks, attention to new alternative financial instruments, access to finance, particularly to microcredit, analysis of the systemic risk of serious financial crisis, etc. are all areas where European citizens expect improved security, through the regulation and control of these activities. The citizens’ inadequate financial culture is also a concern.
I would like to congratulate my colleague, Mr Gauzès, draftsman of the opinion of the Committee on Legal Affairs, on his work. He is right to highlight the importance of impact analyses for completely new European legislation or significant legislative amendment, which are carried out in a highly unsatisfactory manner by the Commission.
Ilda Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) The two main trends in the financial markets have been the concentration of the biggest financial operators and the exponential growth of so-called ‘alternative investment activities’, or in other words the derivative and hedge fund markets.
Nearly thirty major international players currently control all business and dominate the market throughout the world. The concentration of financial operations at national level continues apace, with the dominance of the peripheral and small-scale markets by big foreign operators, in the new Member States and the southern countries such as Portugal.
The use of financial instruments that are geared towards mere speculative gambling and that concentrate large sums of money, of which tax havens are an example, the deregulation of the main markets and the utter lawlessness of the world’s capital transactions, involve systemic and operational risks that lead to economic and financial crises.
The only beneficiaries of this process are the big multinational corporations, with the assistance, in Europe, of the financial services action plan.
We still have not been told why tax havens are not abolished and why movements of capital are not taxed.
Marian Harkin (ALDE), in writing. I support the deletion of the word, 'taxation', from paragraph 22 as I do not believe the Commission should undertake the preparation of an appropriate and feasible framework of regulation and supervision in terms of taxation.
Eoin Ryan (UEN), in writing. I broadly support the Commission's White Paper on Financial Services.
I support measures which seek to tackle obstacles to the development of the EU's financial services market. However, I find it difficult to support the notion that a legislative framework for pensions needs to be supported by a harmonised tax base. It would be unwise of the Parliament to support such an assertion without the findings of the detailed technical analysis, as agreed at the last Ecofin Council. There is no evidence to suggest that linking pensions to a harmonised tax base would be good for the pensions sector.
It is not within the competence of the Commission to consider the feasibility of a legislative framework for taxation. Taxation is a matter for individual Member States.
Finally, the EU's financial stability is not under threat from alternative investment vehicles - hedge funds and private equity. I do not believe that legislation is needed in this sector. I do believe attention needs to be given to the enforcement of existing rules, market discipline and the continuous monitoring by banking regulators of this sector. I welcome the move by industry to introduce a voluntary code of conduct at the recent G8 meeting.
Andrzej Jan Szejna (PSE), in writing. – (PL) I am voting in favour of Ieke van den Burg’s report on Financial Services Policy (2005 – 2010) – White Paper.
The rapporteur addresses important issues relating to the proper provision of financial services on the European capital market. She points out the lack of integration of the retail financial services markets, the need to emphasise the cross-border requirements of mobile users, and pilot projects for Europe-wide financial services such as pensions, mortgages or particular insurance products.
As the rapporteur so rightly says, it is important to make basic services accessible to all citizens. We should also not forget about increasing financial education and involving users in the policy-making process, and promoting financial knowledge and education for consumers.
The report dedicates a great deal of attention to regulatory and supervisory structures, stressing that current oversight of some new complex products and their interactions and effects at macro level may prove inadequate.
Hubert Pirker (PPE-DE). – (DE) Mr President, in his report, the rapporteur has made proposals that combine greater flexibility and the maximum degree of safety, and which are in the interests of workers and employers. His proposal is designed to provide job security for workers and guarantee a future for business and competitiveness in Europe.
However, I should point out that job security no longer means a job for life, but rather always being able to find work. That entails creating the right conditions, from life-long learning to creating positive working conditions that allow a healthy work-life balance.
The social partnership is vital to the effective implementation of these strategies. Although nationally that is fine and works well, there is a certain amount of catching up to be done at European level.
I think the report as a whole is excellent, and have therefore voted in favour.
Lena Ek (ALDE). – (SV) I support the report, but I wish to address three points of principle that it was not possible to vote on in plenary.
The first is the view of small companies. It is quite clear that we can move towards both increased security for workers and increased flexibility and still have simpler rules for small companies. The report has taken no account of this fact, and that is something I deeply regret.
The second point I wish to address is the Scandinavian approach or, as it is formulated in the report, the Scandinavian situation. There are, however, very big differences between the Scandinavian countries. The former Swedish Social Democratic Government did not do enough work on either flexibility or security, which has led to our situation in Sweden being radically different from that in Denmark. That particularly applies to youth unemployment, which is more than three times higher in Sweden than it is in Denmark.
The last point I wish to address is the view of women’s position in life and in working life, with the report expressing an incredibly old-fashioned view of gender equality.
Avril Doyle (PPE-DE). – Mr President, sustainable growth with more and better jobs is at the heart of the Lisbon Strategy. The modernisation of labour law constitutes a key element for the success and adaptability of workers and enterprises, and underlines the need to promote labour market flexibility while respecting job security.
While I supported this report, I did so with the caveat that modernising labour law does not lend itself to a ‘one size fits all’ approach, and particular attention must be given to reviewing the impact of regulation on SMEs, including unnecessary administrative burdens. I also feel that the Green Paper places undue focus on ‘normal’ contracts of employment and underestimates both the variety of atypical working arrangements agreed between workers and employers and their consequent values to the parties concerned. The paper also fails to suggest how this flexibility has not already been provided by the Fixed Term Directive, the Part-Time Work Directive and the Posted Workers Directive, in which there is a base of EU protection provided across all Member States who have fully transposed these directives.
Above all, any labour law reform must focus on the impact both on employment and productivity.
Koenraad Dillen (ITS). – (NL) Mr President, whilst my group shares the view that flexibility should not be at the expense of the best possible protection of employees in a labour-law context, wherever they are employed, it is totally opposed to the idea that this social protection should be developed at European level. References in the report to the principle of subsidiarity and the method of open coordination are mere pretence. This is why we state quite clearly on this platform that any onset of social protection at European level is at odds with the subsidiarity principle, and that this will push the European Union further on the wrong track towards a centralistic superstate. The subsidiarity principle means that the European Union can only act to promote cross-border labour mobility.
Interference by this House is further illustrated by its appeal to the Member States no longer to protect their labour markets but rather to open them up fully to employees from the new Member States. We therefore say ‘yes’ to flexibility and ‘yes’ to social protection, but ‘no’ to a European superstate which is once again trying to muscle in on the act.
Carlo Fatuzzo (PPE-DE). – (IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, did you see how all our colleagues fled at lunchtime? Rather, they asked for a suspension, they demanded it and they all hurried off to lunch. Why do not we do without lunch? One meal a day is enough … If we did do without it, the MEPs who hurried off would know how pensioners live in Europe. They cannot eat more than once a day since pensions, which are also derived from the work of which Mr Protasiewicz spoke, are so low that they do not permit more than one meal a day.
In Italy, now, all the newspapers are talking about increases in pensions, increases that are just crumbs. I therefore hope that, in the future, one meal will be abolished for MEPs and pensions will increase throughout Europe, even though it is not Europe’s job to increase pensions.
Jean-Pierre Audy (PPE-DE), in writing. – (FR) I voted in favour of the excellent report by Mr Protasiewicz on the Commission’s Green Paper on the modernisation of labour law, which is essential to meeting the objective of the Lisbon Strategy, namely that of achieving sustainable growth with more and better jobs. It is imperative that we reconcile flexibility – which is a vital prerequisite to adapting to the volatility of the markets, the latter a mere consequence of the consumers’ volatility – with security, which is a core value of the European social model.
It is surprising that the Commission can consider the open-ended employment contract to be outmoded. I am pleased that Parliament has reaffirmed that the full-time, open-ended contract constitutes the usual type of employment relationship and is considered the reference point.
Finally, it is necessary continually to highlight the role played by social partner organisations in reforming the labour markets and the indisputable usefulness of collective agreements in reforming labour law. From this perspective, social partner organisations must make more use of the legal possibilities offered by the current treaty.
Ilda Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) In this vote, as we expected, the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) and European Democrats has managed to push through some of its proposals aimed at greater flexibility and fewer rights for workers. For that reason, and in accordance with our position in the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs, we voted against this report.
We are extremely concerned that Parliament is once again taking a neo-liberal approach and, in response to the demands of big business, recommending further deregulation of labour law.
The premises set out in the Commission's Green Paper, as this report does not deny, represent a serious attack on the rights won by workers after centuries of struggle. Despite a few contradictions, it encourages the use and extension of flexible contracts of employment, with reduced pay and social rights, longer working hours, and a deterioration in social security and workers' pension conditions.
We are also extremely concerned at the clear attempt to mislead workers by using everything that is not currently enforced presenting labour law as justification for this attack. This is an attempt to legalise something that is unlawful at present.
The people and the workers know all about this situation, as evidenced by the various demonstrations against these policies that have been held, such as the recent one by thousands of workers in Guimarães.
Hélène Goudin (IND/DEM), in writing. (SV) The draft report contains quite a few interesting points of view. Firstly, recital N states that: ‘hundreds of thousands of women have no choice but to accept irregular conditions of employment, because they are domestic workers outside their own household or have caring responsibilities for elderly family members’.
The Scandinavian countries are twice held up as models, demonstrating how a high level of dismissal protection and employment standards is fully compatible with high employment growth (paragraph 13) and how the right, exercised by certain Nordic countries, to take collective action is compatible with the EC Treaty – a right that needs to be respected by the Commission (paragraph 18).
I just want to point out that the situation in the labour market for women is very different in each of the different Member States. The ways in which child care and care for the elderly are to be organised in the various Member States is something to be determined on the basis of the debates and of the results of general elections in each and every one of the Member States. I personally believe that Sweden has made good progress on the road towards an equal society and to devising a model for giving women the opportunity to enter the labour market. It is up to the voters in each Member State, however, to decide which model they wish to support in their own countries.
Marie-Noëlle Lienemann (PSE), in writing. – (FR) I did not endorse the report which, in the name of modernity, aims to embark on a new stage of flexibility in the workplace, painting in glowing colours a form of flexicurity of which the security dimension, I am afraid to say, is virtually non-existent.
It is across-the-board flexibility that is immediate and definite, and security that is rare, indefinite and postponed until a later date. Nothing escapes the report – working time, pay, guarantees, working conditions. We are light years away from protecting a European social model. If we are to move in the direction of flexicurity, let us begin with more security, because too much flexibility is imposed on workers!
David Martin (PSE), in writing. I voted in favour of this report which focusses on employment security throughout a worker's life rather than protecting particular jobs. I believe it is important that, within the EU, it is easier to find a job and to move from one job to another.
Dimitrios Papadimoulis (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (EL) I refused to vote in favour of the Protasiewicz report on flexicurity, as did the entire body of the European left, because the protection of stable employment and the security of the workers are being watered down in the name of flexibility in employment relations. The neologism of flexicurity is being used to try and hide a neo-liberal ambition. In the name of competitiveness and the profit of undertakings, redundancies will now be easier and ‘free’ for undertakings and the cost of protecting young unemployed persons will be passed on in full to society as a whole.
The responsibility of undertakings towards workers is being refashioned as the responsibility of society towards the unemployed. Collective negotiations and the role of the trades union are being drastically watered down within the framework of the new model. Individual contracts are tending to become the norm, giving employers the power to dismiss more easily, without giving their reasons, and the facility to organise in trades union is being radically watered down. The European left, in collaboration with the trades union, with its proposals both in the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs and in plenary, is seeking cover for all workers, regardless of the contract under which they are employed.
It maintains that the right to take collective action forms an important part of labour law. The Member States are called on to promote stable, regular employment and to safeguard and improve the workers’ rights, the standard of employment and a high level of social protection.
Carl Schlyter (Verts/ALE), in writing. (SV) The political content of the report is, in general, constructive, but unfortunately too much of labour law is taken up to EU level. In the long term, this is in danger of undermining national labour law and the Swedish model, because the focus is on the market and because the Right dominates. I cannot, therefore, vote in favour of the report and am instead abstaining from voting.
Olle Schmidt (ALDE), in writing. – (SV) I support the report, but I wish to address three points of principle that it was not possible to vote on.
The first is the view of small companies. It is quite obvious that we can move towards both increased security for workers and increased flexibility and still have simpler rules for small companies. The report has taken no account of this fact, and that is something I deeply regret.
The second point I wish to address is the Scandinavian approach or, as it is formulated in the report, the Scandinavian situation. There are, however, very big differences between the Scandinavian countries. The former Swedish Social Democratic Government did not do enough work on either flexibility or security, which has led to our having a situation in Sweden that is radically different from that in Denmark. That particularly applies to youth unemployment, which is more than three times higher in Sweden than it is in Denmark.
The last point I wish to address is the view of women’s position in life and in working life, with the report expressing an incredibly old-fashioned view of gender equality.
Bart Staes (Verts/ALE), in writing. (NL) Europe is not a social Europe unless it manages to lay down a system of minimum social standards that applies to every type of employee in a unified market with free movement. This is, in fact, also the gist of the Commission Green Paper on modernising labour law. The Protasiewicz report states that every reform of labour law should take due account of principles such as gender equality and non-discrimination, decent work, the protection of all employees (irrespective of their type of contract) and the necessary role of the social partners and other representative organisations from civil society when labour legislation is laid down.
Improved labour law is able to adapt to change, protect employees and limit uncertainty. If labour law wants to face up to the challenges of the 21st century, then we will also need strong instruments that are able to curb the growing informal economy and exploitation. The report also presses for more convergence between the Member States, so that legal certainty increases, for example with regard to cross-border employment.
I will support the report, even though I regret the absence of any reference to equal pay for equal work, and some paragraphs lack the necessary punch, for example in terms of working hours, training (access to, instead of entitlement to) and the relationship between labour law and lifelong learning and education.
Konrad Szymański (UEN), in writing. – (PL) The report on implementing the changes by the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs which were not rejected by the European Parliament aim to extend excessively rigid labour law solutions. These will make it difficult to create new work places and will condemn a large section of people to unemployment.
It also transposes this negative experience to countries with a more competitive labour market.
That is why I was unable to support it in the plenary voting.
Georgios Toussas (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (EL) The report is the product of yet another political compromise of the now familiar coalition of the political representatives of the European plutocracy: the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) and European Democrats, the social democrats and the liberals, and moves in a totally reactionary, anti-labour direction. The report:
Considers the reactionary reforms in labour law to be necessary, in order to help achieve the objectives of the Lisbon Strategy.
Announces that it is more important to the workers to have security during their working life than job protection.
Accepts and acknowledges the need for flexible working time arrangements, in order to meet the ‘needs of employers and employees’.
Promotes the perception of class cooperation between the ‘social partners’ in the name of improving the competitiveness of undertakings.
Seeks to convert collective agreements from a tool for defending the interests of the working class into a ‘tool for promoting social partnership’.
The report supports the core philosophy of ‘flexicurity’, the basic logic and the ambitions of the Green Paper.
The Greek Communist Party voted against the report and condemns the dangerous endeavour by the political spokesmen of the monopolies, which is being promoted to the detriment of the working class and workers in general.
Hubert Pirker (PPE-DE). – (DE) Mr President, European integration means creating economic cooperation, which in turn leads to increasing and genuine free movement of workers. The Posted Workers Directive under discussion is the right instrument to prevent wage dumping on the one hand and distortions of competition on the other. Unfortunately, the Commission review of the Directive's implementation has revealed problems with controls in the Member States. Yet the directive is only good and effective if the requisite control mechanisms really work at Member State level and penalties exist.
If, in the wake of its review, the Commission decides to reduce or simplify the controls, that would definitely be wrong, and we should reject any such proposal. Instead, I urge the Commission to ensure that the controls verify that collective bargaining agreements and national wage rules are really respected.
Françoise Castex (PSE), in writing. – (FR) I voted in favour of the motion for a resolution on the posting of workers in the framework of the provision of services.
I am convinced that the full implementation of Directive 96/71/EC is crucial in order to achieve a fair balance between the free provision of services and the protection of workers, not least against social dumping.
I believe that it would be a good idea if, in the Member States in which the Directive is implemented by means of collective agreements, the social partners could directly access information on companies posting workers so as to be able to monitor the situation effectively.
Finally, I call on the Member States to think about a future review of their legislation on definitions and instruments, so that they can combat ‘PO Box’ companies and bogus self-employment.
Ilda Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) As the number increases of cases in which workers, especially temporary workers, are being exploited in various EU countries, it is disappointing that Parliament has not sent a clear signal to the Commission, which is currently not demanding an end to this phenomenon, nor is it clearly demanding compliance with basic minimum standards for worker protection and with the conditions of employment of posted workers.
On some points, the adopted text does not go as far as the text we recently managed to adopt – the Schröder report – on the posting of workers. We are therefore voting against it.
We are extremely disappointed that our proposals have been rejected, particularly the following proposals: that the contracting company should have a legal representative in the host country; that the necessary documentation should be kept at the place of work; that in the event of unlawful acts an investigation should be carried out to determine liability; and that the recruitment of workers under false pretences should be combated.
We vehemently condemn the fact that the Commission Communication is not even-handed inasmuch as it considers measures for worker protection disproportionate, but does not consider disproportionate, or even examine, the insufficient implementation of the directive as a result of inadequate monitoring in certain Member States.
Marian Harkin (ALDE), in writing. The posting of Workers Directive when properly implemented has provided a level of protection for posted workers, however, reports from the Commission have indicated that in many cases there have been poor compliance with the Directive and workers do not receive the protection of the Directive to which they are entitled. This has lead to social dumping and a race to the bottom. In this context Member States should be able to require a prior declaration by the Service provider to enable it to verify compliance with the employment conditions.
José Albino Silva Peneda (PPE-DE), in writing. (PT) I support the motion because I agree that there is a need to promote worker mobility in the European Union. Greater mobility will help to boost the single market, which in turn will lead to greater economic growth and more jobs.
The EU internal market still has great potential for development in a number of areas, particularly that of freedom of movement for workers. Bearing in mind the very different social and economic situations of the various Member States, I strongly believe that it is neither possible nor desirable to harmonise employment legislation.
I nevertheless consider that efforts should be made throughout the Union to reach agreement on the definition of the status of ‘worker’ and ‘self-employed’. It is also necessary to ensure the proper implementation of the various European directives already in force, particularly as regards the posting of workers.
It is important in particular to improve coordination and information-sharing between Member States on the basis of transparent criteria.
Georgios Toussas (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (EL) Directive 96/71/ΕC concerning the posting of workers in the framework of the provision of services and the communications by the European Commission (COM(2006)0159 of 4 April 2006 and COM(2007)0304 of 13 June 2007) are being used by the monopolies within the framework of the anti-labour policy of the EU and the governments of the Member States in order to undermine collective agreements and the wage and social rights of workers in general, in a bid to maximum the profits of capital.
We consider that the proposals contained in the motion for a resolution in question on the posting of workers not only fails to stop this anti-grassroots policy, but is being used by the monopolies to extend ‘unequal pay for equal work’ by posting workers. That is why the group of the Greek Communist Party in the European Parliament voted against the motion for a resolution on the posting of workers.
President. That concludes the explanations of vote.