Eija-Riitta Korhola (PPE-DE). – (FI) Madam President, I appreciated the fact that the notion of ‘responsibility to protect’ was raised in the resolution we voted on. This is not always about military intervention, but, obviously, the United Nations has this duty. Without it, the organisation would be reduced to a club of those who abuse the system and those who nod their approval.
Unfortunately, there are signs that the UN is incapable. The human tragedy that is the crisis in Darfur is a new blot in the copybook for the international community. Why is the UN more ready to address the problems of the Middle East than those of Africa? One reason for the crisis is ethnic marginalisation. and the key to a political solution lies in our ability to get all the parties concerned committed to peace talks. The background is also one of underdevelopment and environmental disaster. The crisis is the first climate change war. A humanitarian solution is also essential, therefore.
It is of value that the EU should wish to take responsibility for resolving the problems of Darfur and other problems in Africa. I would hope that one day we will be able to say the same of the United States of America. Some might say that Europe suffers from a bad conscience on account of our history. That may be true, but it does not kill people. Silence and apathy kill.
David Martin (PSE), in writing. I voted for this resolution on the situation in Darfur. In particular, I support the focus on closer monitoring of the arms embargo against Khartoum and enforcement of a no-fly zone over the region. I support the call for an in-depth investigation into unpaid African Union mission soldiers.
John Attard-Montalto (PSE). – Madam President, I would like to register that the pattern of voting with regard to maritime integration takes into account the fact that the Frontex issue has become almost a farcical one.
As is known, the level of solidarity granted to the Frontex, which is part of this integrated policy, has become almost a joke. Only one helicopter – the German helicopter – has been pledged, and perhaps it has not been noted that two neighbouring countries of Malta have, to all intents and purposes, closed their airspace. One has periodically refused entry of the German helicopter into its airspace; another has even threatened to bring it down. That is why I voted in this manner.
Philip Claeys (ITS). – (NL) Madam President, it is, of course, the case that maritime Europe is facing all kinds of economic, social and ecological challenges that require a shared approach, but that is not what is at issue here. The question is whether a comprehensive European integrated maritime policy, with all the further rules and regulations that this will eventually entail, is necessary to address this issue.
As I see it, maritime policy and management in Europe would benefit far more from practice-based campaigns among Member States and other players aimed at far-reaching cooperation than from all kinds of new rules and regulations. What matters is coordination, exchange of information among the Member States, reducing the administrative burden and promoting maritime research. Under no circumstances, however, can the European Union interfere in matters that fall within the subsidiarity principle or market forces, such as coastal defence, physical planning or market regulation of sea ports.
Christine De Veyrac (PPE-DE), in writing. – (FR) I fully support the report by my fellow Member, Mr Piecyk.
This text, which is the European Parliament’s response to the Commission Green Paper on EU maritime policy, addresses many important points.
It deals, in particular, with the challenge of climate change for maritime policy. European maritime policy must play an important role in this area by relying on a reduction in the CO2 emissions of ships, the possible integration of ships into the system of trading in emissions quotas and the promotion of renewable energy sources.
It is crucial that a lasting balance be found between the protection of the environment and the commercial exploitation of Europe’s oceans. Furthermore, I believe, as we have voted for it, that the Commission must reinforce all measures relating to civil and criminal liability in the event of an accident or incident and tighten vigilance with regard to the application of the rules on the mandatory use of double hulls.
Edite Estrela (PSE), in writing. (PT) I voted in favour of this report based on the Commission’s Green Paper towards a future maritime policy for the Union: a European vision for the oceans and seas, because I consider the promotion of a prosperous and sustainable maritime economy to be fundamental.
This report presents an integrated political approach to the subject, putting forward concrete proposals with respect to navigation, naval and maritime security, tourism, fishing, ports policy, the marine environment, research, industry and land use, namely the proposal for the reduction of emissions of greenhouse gases emanating from ships, and the creation of a European coastguard.
Hélène Goudin (IND/DEM), in writing. (SV) Political measures designed to combat climate change are obviously important. When it comes to some of the measures proposed in this resolution, other than the legislative procedures, the majority in the European Parliament is, however, as usual going a bit over the top. The proposals increase bureaucracy and confirm the picture of the European Parliament as an institution with a pathological tendency to expand out of all proportion.
A number of the proposals in this report go too far, and I have therefore chosen to vote against this ‘opinion-soliciting report’ because I believe that it could have been drawn up in a pithier and more succinct way. As it stands, its view of a future maritime policy for the EU is characterised by an inability to leave things alone.
Pedro Guerreiro (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) We believe that a maritime policy based on cooperation between the different Member States and which, at community level, would mean a coordination of synergies to boost and give added value to the sea-related policies and measures defined by each country (such as fishing, transport, the environment and energy, among others) could have a positive impact.
However, this is not the option of Parliament’s own-initiative report, which chooses to promote the creation of a future ‘common maritime policy’, seeking to transfer central competencies of the Member States to the supranational level of the EU, an approach that, clearly, we reject.
To this end, we firmly reject amendment proposals affecting matters of principle on which we stand firm, such as:
- Full respect for the sovereignty and competence of each Member State with regard to the management of its territorial waters and economic exclusion zones, specifically with respect to marine resources – namely biological resources – and questions of security, rescue and the inspection and control of shipping in their waters;
- Increased worth for the fishing sector, given its strategic importance for different countries, such as Portugal, guaranteeing the socio-economic sustainability of the sector through adequate political and financial means;
This is why we have voted against.
Timothy Kirkhope (PPE-DE), in writing. While I can applaud the environmental aspects and proposals for practical forms of cooperation in the Piecyk Report 'Towards a Future Maritime Policy', I however cannot support the calls for many proposals that this report contains, such as the setting up of an 'EU Coastguard Service'. I fear the excessive regulation that would result from the report would fall foul of the subsidiarity principle and I have decided to reserve our position at this time.
Marie-Noëlle Lienemann (PSE), in writing. – (FR) I voted in favour of all the amendments that emphasised the environmental dimension of this maritime policy.
It is imperative that the environmental pillar of the maritime strategy not be a mere add-on for spiritual enrichment purposes, but that the restoration of the good ecological status of the seas and oceans be an essential objective on which the judgments in the other policies of the EU and the Member States depend.
The deterioration of the oceans’ ecosystem has serious consequences for the planet and human activities: fishery stocks are disappearing and the role of the climate and the oceans as regulators is diminishing. This is primarily due to the pollution created by human activities. Therefore, the priority of the environment must be forcefully affirmed, and the future framework directive on marine waters must be binding on the Member States and on EU policies.
Carl Schlyter (Verts/ALE), in writing. (SV) I am voting against Amendment 34 because the biological diversity of the sea is not a strictly national issue. Marine resources are constantly on the move, and overfishing in one area affects the whole sea and can destroy areas and ecosystems on a much more than national scale. Restrictive international regulations governing the exploitation of marine resources must therefore be accepted.
Catherine Stihler (PSE), in writing. I warmly support the Piecyk report on maritime policy and congratulate the rapporteur on his inclusive approach.
The report is vitally important in trying to highlight a new approach to protecting our marine environment. This approach is urgently required to protect environmentally sensitive areas against ship-to-ship oil transfer. Currently the Firth of Forth, in my home country of Scotland, faces a threat from a ship-to-ship oil transfer proposal. I hope that the Habitats Directive will be properly implemented in order to protect sea birds, sea mammals and other species. However, the need for a comprehensive approach to our marine environment with clear and transparent lines of accountability is essential to protecting our marine environment for future generations.
Silvia-Adriana Ţicău (PSE), în scris. Am votat pentru raportul Piecyk privind o viitoare politică maritimă a Uniunii şi felicit raportorul pentru calitatea activităţii desfăşurate. Integrarea politicilor, acţiunilor şi deciziilor legate de politica maritimă va asigura o mai strânsă cooperare între toţi actorii ale căror acţiuni au un impact asupra oceanelor şi mărilor europene. Consider, de asemenea, că sectoarele maritime ale fluviilor europene trebuie şi ele incluse în politica maritimă a Uniunii Europene.
Autostrăzile maritime se numără încă din 2004 printre cele 30 de proiecte prioritare ale reţelei transeuropene de transport.
Aderarea României şi a Bulgariei asigură Uniunii Europene vecinătatea cu Marea Neagra şi aproape întreg cursul Dunării se află în interiorul sau. Pentru Uniunea Europeană dezvoltarea cooperării la Marea Neagră va fi extrem de importantă. Regiunea Mării Negre joacă un rol important pentru securitatea energetică a Uniunii Europene şi pentru extinderea pieţei interne de transport către statele vecine Uniunii Europene.
Sper ca Uniunea Europeană să includă prevederi ale politicii maritime comunitare, de exemplu protejarea mediului şi a biodiversităţii zonelor de coastă şi de delte sau estuare, în politica sa de vecinătate şi în acordurile bilaterale pe care le semnează cu terţe ţări. În acest context menţionez ca deosebit de importantă protejarea biodiversităţii Deltei Dunării.
Geoffrey Van Orden (PPE-DE), in writing. While there are many useful observations in the report, I reject any idea that the EU should claim authority over what should properly be British territorial waters or that military activities should be incorporated into an EU maritime policy. Furthermore, the common fisheries policy has been a disaster for our fishing industry and for marine life, and its powers should be repatriated to the nations.
Hélène Goudin (IND/DEM), in writing. (SV) I generally adopt a positive attitude towards the development of the railways. Such development is important in terms of the environment. I cannot, however, support the proposal in paragraph 4 of the report to the effect that the European Parliament should oppose ultra-long lorries (known as gigaliners). In accordance with the principle of subsidiarity, Member States must themselves be allowed to adopt a position on whether or not such lorries can properly be part of the overall road traffic scene. I hope that the Commission and the Council will allow the Member States to decide about this issue for themselves.
Pedro Guerreiro (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) The first railway package was launched with the announced objective of ‘launching the bases of modal shift’. In other words, it promoted a shift from road transport to railway transport. But what it actually sought to do, in the manner of a Trojan horse, was to hide the opening up of railway transport, namely goods transport, to competition and private interests as a first step towards the total liberalisation of the railway sector at EU level.
We have denounced and rejected the intentions of this process right from the word ‘go’.
As with other EU-promoted liberalisations, whatever is going badly at any given moment is used as a starting point (concealing the true causes of such situations, namely the systematic policies to dismantle and weaken the public transport sector) to justify liberalising methods and point to the said ‘competition’ – with no clear explanation as to how or why – as the solution for all ills, some kind of miracle worker, but which, in the end, bears the consequences that we have already pointed out.
Public investment in the railway sector in accordance with the needs and options defined by each country is undoubtedly of vital importance, but not for the purpose of handing it over to the profit logic of the large public interests, which seek to dominate this public sector, fundamental in every country, by means of its liberalisation at EU internal market level.
Jens Holm, Kartika Tamara Liotard, Erik Meijer, Esko Seppänen, Søren Bo Søndergaard and Eva-Britt Svensson (GUE/NGL), in writing. The Cramer report states correctly that, in the transport of goods, environmental issues have been neglected. That is the consequence of the expansion of freight transport on the highways and by air, and at the same time the continuing reduction of transport by rail. The report recalls the promotion of road and air transport by means of financial instruments, which are also used to reduce rail transport. We would point out that many railway links to factories and harbours have recently been closed. However, we differ with the rapporteur on the capacities of the free market to solve this problem. The rapporteur, together with the rightist groups in this Parliament, is of the opinion that free competition in trans-border transport is the best solution. The advocates of this view refer to the situation on the road and in the air, and expect that competition automatically attracts a new wave of companies interested. In practice we have seen that, until now, there have been no such positive results. Despite this lack of reality, the rest of the report deserves our full support.
Jörg Leichtfried (PSE), in writing. (DE) I am voting for a revitalisation of rail transport as the core element of EU transport policy.
The report on the implementation of the first railway package showed that the package had resulted in neither a sustained reinvigoration of rail transport nor a perceptible shift of freight transport from road to rail.
It is, however, essential that rail transport should become the core element of EU transport policy for the following reasons: a growing traffic problem, rising emission levels, limited energy resources and an increase in the death toll from transport accidents.
I therefore call for the presentation of the second directive on transport infrastructure costs by 2008, prescribing a uniform system of tolls on all roads in the EU for goods vehicles weighing 3.5 tonnes or more. In addition, the so-called external costs, in other words the environmental costs arising from transport operations, must be factored into infrastructure charges. In this context I must also refer to the extremely beneficial Swiss system of the emission-linked HGV levy, through which Switzerland has achieved remarkable success in shifting transport from road to rail, while the improved efficiency of road haulage has restricted the increase in consumer costs to half a percentage point.
Luís Queiró (PPE-DE), in writing. (PT) The first railway package, which was intended to open up the market to international goods transport by rail by 15 March 2003 has had some degree of success. However, shortcomings and delays in transposition by the Member States can still be observed. Well, the consequences of these delays have repercussions on the restructuring of the railway enterprises and on the creation of a truly competitive market.
As a number of aspects are still lacking for us to be able to reap the positive effects of the first railway package, we believe that resources must be created to correct the failings with regard to the execution of the legislation by the Member States. To achieve this, is it going to be necessary for us to have an independent and transparent national monitoring body with sufficient resources at its disposal to take an active stance against the existing distortions of the competition? We also need measures related to the creation of true interoperability – the lack of which in the railway networks is still the main obstacle to the realisation of an integrated European railway area – such as the rapid installation of the European Rail Traffic Management system, especially in the priority rail transport corridors.
Silvia-Adriana Ţicău (PSE), în scris. Am votat pentru raportul Cramer şi consider acest document ca fiind deosebit de important. Având în vedere că transportul contribuie la 15%-30% din emisiile de CO2, dezvoltarea modalităţilor mai puţin poluante de transport trebuie să constituie o prioritate la nivel european. De altfel, 70% din proiectele prioritare de transport transeuropean sunt destinate transportului feroviar şi transportului naval, mai puţin generatoare de gaze cu efect de seră.
Dezvoltarea transportului feroviar de mare viteză pentru pasageri trebuie să se realizeze cu prioritate în toate statele Uniunii Europene. Investiţiile în infrastructura de transport şi pentru modernizarea sistemului rulant sunt foarte mari, dar şi beneficiile aduse vor fi pe măsură.
De asemenea, pentru dezvoltarea transportului feroviar, va fi esenţială asigurarea interoperabilităţii, dezvoltarea şi implementarea sistemului ERTMS.
Felicit raportorul şi doresc să îl asigur că avem aşteptari foarte mari de la transportul feroviar.
Kathy Sinnott (IND/DEM). – Madam President, the report on sustainable mobility for our continent, which we have just voted on, not only stresses the need to build up a better infrastructure, but implies that this must be done responsibly and respectfully. It points out that Member States must keep an eye on the environmental impact of improved infrastructure as well as examining transport, while taking into account socio-economic factors vis-à-vis safety.
This is particularly relevant to my own country, Ireland, where we are currently badly in need of making the preservation of natural, historic landmarks a priority. The Irish authorities are in the process of destroying one of the most important archaeological sites in Europe in a bid to improve transport systems in Ireland. Forty-one sites which comprise European heritage, including the national monument at Lismullen, will be demolished due to a motorway that is unnecessarily routed through it. Once these monuments are destroyed, there is no way to replace the cultural heritage that will be lost with them.
According to the sustainable mobility report, future transport policy will have to optimise each country’s own potential to meet the objectives of clean and efficient transport systems. Ireland can achieve this, but a motorway through Tara is not the answer.
The Irish authorities have not considered alternative routes and, instead, by road construction are destroying significant historical locations like the site at Baronstown which was destroyed six days ago at 4 a.m. in the morning. Nor have they considered reviving an old rail line in the area to carry commuters to Dublin, thus reducing road traffic and fuel consumption. We should return to the old methods of transport like the train that used to be operated near Tara.
While I agree with this sustainable Europe and better transport infrastructure, I firmly believe that we cannot and should not sacrifice one of our most precious archaeological sites for a misplaced motorway.
Jörg Leichtfried (PSE), in writing. (DE) Following the production of a detailed review by the Committee on Transport and Tourism, six years after the publication of the White Paper on Transport, I wish to express my support for the realisation of the trans-European networks and for the use of intelligent transport systems and technological innovations.
I deplore the lack of financial activity in the development of infrastructure, which poses a great risk to economic growth in Europe. EU funds for the trans-European networks remain limited, and yet the real benefit of the TEN-T programme can only be achieved if the entire network is built. I therefore call on the Commission to present proposals for a possible extension of new options and of innovative funding mechanisms.
With regard to the adverse environmental effects of transport, it has been demonstrated that even a modest shift in the modal balance would considerably reduce congestion on the roads. For this reason I eagerly await the assessment of external environmental costs which the Commission is to present by 2008.
Andreas Mölzer (ITS), in writing. (DE) The Barsi-Pataky report does not really bring us any further forward, which is why I have abstained from voting. It is all well and good to renew our commitment to the trans-European transport network and to proclaim that even a small shift in the modal balance would considerably reduce congestion on the roads. It must be remembered, however, that many routes, particularly within cities, are congested because the state of local public transport makes it an unappealing alternative. Apart from paying mere lip service to the principle, the EU has scarcely come up with any intelligent solutions in this domain.
As regards the highly controversial gigaliners, there is no reason why the general public should pay the price in terms of higher road-maintenance costs and increased safety risks for the sake of possible savings for hauliers. If we want environmental protection to be writ large – and indeed environmental arguments are being advanced for these gigantic HGVs – intensified efforts are needed to forge ahead with environment-friendly propulsion systems. The European Parliament could set a good example in this respect with its own pool of chauffeur-driven vehicles.
Luís Queiró (PPE-DE), in writing. (PT) Dissatisfaction with the application and results of the European transport policy is not a denial of improvements that have been made, from safety of the transport to the quality of the service or in terms of the environment.
However, much remains to be done.
Restrictions in community funding are among the main causes of the shortcomings of this policy. The only way to avoid delays and the reorientation of priorities would be by adopting innovative forms of funding, such as public-private partnerships and the subsidising of the projects by the Member States.
Community funds for the financing of trans-European transport projects are limited. This is why they should be focused on trans-border stretches whose added value will enable the realisation of an interlinked and interoperable trans-European transport network.
It is, however, fundamental to avoid creating a patchwork of national networks, so the Commission must, in cooperation with the Member States, ensure the application and execution of the European transport legislation.
Finally, reinforced cooperation at European, national, regional and local levels is necessary for links between good practices and between the transport policy and other national or community policies on matters such as energy, the environment, tourism and innovation.
Silvia-Adriana Ţicău (PSE), în scris. Domeniul transporturilor este esenţial pentru dezvoltarea economică a tuturor regiunilor Uniunii Europene, prin crearea de locuri de muncă, asigurarea liberei circulaţii a persoanelor şi a mărfurilor şi dezvoltarea întreprinderilor.
Calea navigabilă interioară Uniunii Europene formată din Rhin, canalul Main şi Dunăre scurtează distanţa dintre partea de nord-vest si partea de sud-est a Uniunii Europene cu aproape 4000 de kilometri, asigurând în acelaşi timp dezvoltarea unui mod de transport mai puţin poluant. Sper ca programele NAIADES şi Marco Polo II să sprijine mai mult statele membre să îşi dezvolte transportul naval.
Interoperabilitatea, interconectarea reţelelor europene de infrastructură şi dezvoltarea de terminale multi-modale vor contribui la o dezvoltare echilibrată a tuturor modalităţilor de transport.
Nu trebuie însa să uităm că una din cauzele schimbărilor climatice este poluarea datorată mijloacelor de transport. Este important că 70% din cele 30 de proiecte prioritare sunt dedicate transportului feroviar şi celui naval. Sper însa ca lista celor 30 de proiecte prioritare să fie extinsă în curând pentru a include mai multe proiecte ale noilor state membre şi pentru a fructifica ieşirea Uniunii Europene la Marea Neagra.
Ilda Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) We voted in favour of this Resolution because we know that the reality of cardiovascular disease is a concern. It is important to increase knowledge about the prevention of the risk factors for these diseases. Thus, it is important that the actions contained in this Resolution be taken into consideration.
We know that health is complete physical, mental and social well-being. Major contradictions are to be found, however, in today’s stress-ridden society, where there is little time to rest, to spend with our families, to take care of our physical health and psychological equilibrium, further added to poor nutrition and a lack of time for physical exercise, as well as a loss of rights in the workplace, namely overloaded working hours and a reduction in holiday entitlement, not to mention unemployment or the permanent threat thereof. All this has serious repercussions on peoples’ lives, on their equilibrium and, consequently, on the proliferation of cardiovascular disease.
However, this awareness and prevention campaign for cardiovascular disease should not be transformed into a banner for communitising health. What we want is the defence of the public health service and the responsibility of each Member State in its upkeep and management in order to guarantee the right to health for all and not merely for those who have money to pay for it.
David Martin (PSE), in writing. I voted for this resolution which aims to tackle today's biggest killer in Europe: cardiovascular disease. Prevention strategies, public awareness campaigns and the promotion of healthy lifestyles were all recommended in the resolution, and I give my support to this.
James Nicholson (PPE-DE), in writing. With cardiovascular disease accounting for more than 40% of all deaths in the EU, it is necessary that we address the issue urgently at both national and EU level. Member States themselves can do much in terms of improving risk surveillance, producing prevention guidelines, etc. However, this is clearly an area where the EU can add value by promoting the exchange of information between Member States. I welcome the call in the resolution for the establishment of an EU-wide database to monitor cardiovascular disease prevalence, mortality, morbidity and risk factors. Such a database has the potential to do much to facilitate better prevention at Member State level.
Pedro Guerreiro (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) Unacceptable is the least that one can say about the recent agreement between the EU and the USA with regard to airlines transferring data contained in the Passenger Name Records (PNR) to the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The following stand out amongst many deplorable aspects:
The transfer of data is based upon non-binding guarantees that may be unilaterally amended by the DHS at any time.
The data may be used for non-specified purposes and the period for which it will be kept will be increased from three and a half years to fifteen years. Further, there are no guarantees whatsoever that following the storage period of fifteen years – seven ‘active’ years and eight ‘latent’ years – the data will effectively be destroyed.
Sensitive data (for example, personal details concerning racial or ethnic origins, political opinions, religious or philosophical beliefs and union membership, as well as other information relating to a people’s health and sex life) will be placed at the disposal of the DHS.
The agreement also refers to a possible future PNR system at EU level in one or more Member States, stating that this data could also be placed at the disposal of the DHS.
In a word, intolerable.
Martine Roure (PSE), in writing. – (FR) I am pleased that the European Union has reached an agreement with the United States on the transfer of passenger data. I recognise that a European agreement was necessary before the interim agreement came to an end. I regret, however, that this agreement presents significant shortcomings in areas of crucial importance to Parliament.
The reduction in the amount of data transferred is only a minor detail. The switch over from the pull system to the push system is a 2004 achievement - this should have taken place a long time ago.
I am pleased that the US data protection law has been extended to Europeans, because we requested this. It is, however, threatened by the fact that these are non-binding assurances, not a legally binding agreement. Furthermore, the Department of Homeland Security reserves the right to introduce derogations, without any precise criteria, for data protection.
Lastly, I condemn the lack of democratic control, the significant increase in the time in which personal data are held, up to a period of 15 years, and the absence of an evaluation in due form of this agreement. We asked for these points to form the basis of the new PNR agreement; I regret that the Council did not hear these requests from Parliament.
Zita Pleštinská (PPE-DE). – (SK) I voted for the Dariusz Rosati report on the eurozone in 2007, which has come up for debate in European Parliament at a time when it is imperative to encourage other Member States to keep up their efforts in preparation for joining the eurozone.
Following Malta and Cyprus, Slovakia’s bid to join the eurozone will be reviewed next year. Under the previous government of Mikuláš Dzurinda, Slovakia was rated as one of the ten new Member States best prepared for the introduction of the euro. Drawing on the experience of Lithuania, whose bid faltered only because of a failure to match the inflation benchmark, and encouraged by Slovenia’s accession to the eurozone on 1 January 2007, I believe that Slovakia take a responsible position and ensure sustainable compliance with the Maastricht criteria.
With regard to the introduction of the single European currency in the new Member States, I would like again to draw your attention to the written statement on the need to launch one euro and two-euro banknotes, which was adopted by the European Parliament in October 2005. The absence of such banknotes undermines the ability of European citizens, whose monthly pay in Slovakia, for instance, amounts to just several hundred euros, to fully appreciate the higher value of eurocents.
Jean-Pierre Audy (PPE-DE), in writing. – (FR) I voted in favour of the own-initiative report by Mr Rosati in reponse to the Commission’s 2007 annual declaration on the euro area. I shall start by saluting the technical and financial success of the euro and the smooth running of the eurozone. I congratulate Slovenia – which I hope will soon have my friend, Mr Peterle, as its President, making him the next President-in-Office of the European Union – on qualifying for the euro area on 1 January 2007, and I wish Cyprus and Malta the same success on 1 January 2008.
It is becoming imperative, as French President, Nicolas Sarkozy, regulary highlights, that the running of the euro area be strengthened, both in its structures and in practical economic governance. Equally, certain Member States, including France, must take advantage of the positive economic climate to put their public finances in order. Finally, the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) must urgently consult with the European Central Bank (ECB) in order to introduce more consistency between monetary policy, growth and employment, as provided for in the treaties.
Jonathan Evans (PPE-DE), in writing. The British Conservative Party is firmly against the entry of the UK into the eurozone, and in common with normal practice we have abstained on the final vote of the Rosati report. We are, nevertheless, vigilant of the need for sound monetary policy in the EU trading bloc and we are opposed, in particular, to efforts to subject the application of monetary policy to political ends.
Ilda Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) The report ‘welcomes the favourable economic developments achieved in 2006’ in the euro zone but fails to disguise certain concerns and risks relating to the future development of the euro zone. The truth is that the profits, as a percentage of GDP, are at one of the highest ever levels, whilst salaries continue to slow down and grow below the rate of labour productivity; in other words, the gains in productivity are still going to the employers.
The report ignores social tensions and says little about the increase in inequality and poverty in the EU, about increasingly precarious employment and about high unemployment rates. It is increasingly difficult to justify new salary freezes and ask for further tightening of the belt when the fruits of wealth continue, as ever, to go to the financial and economic groups.
In truth, what they seek to ignore is that the main issue to consolidate this moment in the economic cycle is to make salaries rise and public investment increase in order to stimulate demand. This is precisely what the report fails to do, insisting on the argument of budgetary consolidation and price stability; in other words, less public investment and more salary moderation.
We reject this strategy, which is why we are voting against the report.
Hélène Goudin (IND/DEM), in writing. - (SV) The report provides a clear picture of how EMU goes hand in hand with the creation of an EU state. The report seeks closer coordination of the economic policies of the Member States. The euro area’s external representation is viewed as needing to be strengthened, and internal coordination in the external scene as needing to be improved.
At the same time, it is noted that, for example, competitiveness is developing in different directions within the euro area and that the euro’s increase in value against, for example, the US dollar has had different effects in different Member States depending on the latter’s economic structures and the elasticity of their manufacturing industries. The report also points out that the ECB’s monetary policy can never be completely in tune with the situation in any particular Member State.
It was precisely these factors that were put forward as arguments by the ‘no’ side in the referendum on EMU in Sweden in 2003 and that met with sympathy among a large majority of Swedish voters.
I can only state that the ‘no’ side in the referendum argued quite correctly in pointing out that EMU was a large step along the road towards a United States of Europe.
Andrzej Jan Szejna (PSE), in writing. (PL) I would like to vote in favour of Mr Rosati's report on the review of the situation in the eurozone in 2007.
Professor Rosati presented an excellently drafted report. It will certainly provide a good basis for discussing the general economic situation in the eurozone, as well as further actions and the challenges that lie before us.
In 2006, the eurozone experienced dynamic growth in terms of exports. There was a revival in internal demand, faster GDP growth and a fall in the unemployment rate. Two million new jobs were created and the inflation rate remained steady. Meanwhile, the budget deficit decreased.
At the same time, and this was taken into account in the report, the largest economies still have high budget deficits. A failure to maintain budgetary discipline could lead to stricter monetary policy and increasing disparity in the levels of economic growth, productivity and competitiveness between the Member States.
The rapporteur rightly noted that structural reforms are necessary, as are activities aimed at developing competitiveness and opening up the services market, which could have a beneficial impact on growth and the creation of new jobs.
Silvia-Adriana Ţicău (PSE), în scris. Am votat pentru raportul Rosati privind "zona Euro" şi felicit raportorul.
Consider că introducerea euro a determinat o mai mare coeziune între cele 318 milioane de cetăţeni ai Uniunii Europene care utilizează această monedă în viaţa de zi cu zi. Creşterea economică realizată precum şi creşterea gradului de angajare (aproape 2 milioane de noi locuri de muncă) din această zonă sunt dovezi clare că Uniunea Economică şi Monetară a contribuit la stabilitatea macroeconomică a statelor aderente.
Felicit Slovenia pentru aderarea la zona euro începând cu 1 ianuarie 2007. Raportorul propune reanalizarea criteriilor de convergenţă în cazul noilor state membre, având în vedere că inflaţia ar putea face o parte din procesul de relansare economică, dar subliniază că acestea trebuie aplicate conform Tratatului. De asemenea, este nevoie de o mai buna coordonare în domeniul politicii de schimb valutar.
În ciuda performanţelor zonei euro, totalul cheltuielilor pentru cercetare şi dezvoltare ale statelor din zona euro nu depăşeşte 2% din PIB, ceea ce este sub ţinta de 3% stabilita de Strategia de la Lisabona.
Statele din zona euro trebuie să reprezinte un model de dezvoltare economică şi socială pentru celelalte state membre ale Uniunii Europene.
Jean-Pierre Audy (PPE-DE), in writing. – (FR) I abstained on the own-initiative report by Mr Mitchell on the 2006 annual report of the European Central Bank (ECB). I am very keen on the independence of the ECB since our economic and monetary history teaches us that we must never again entrust monetary control to the politicians. I am, however, of the opinion that this report does not satisfactorily tackle the extent to which the European System of Central Banks (ESCB) does not attach sufficient emphasis to economic growth. We must not forget that Article 105 of the Treaty Establishing the European Community makes provision for the ESCB to support the general economic policies in the Community, without prejudice to the objective of price stability, with a view to contributing to the achievement of the objectives laid down in Article 2. That is, in particular, to promote balanced and sustainable development of economic activities, a high level of employment and social protection and a high degree of competitiveness and convergence of economic performance. Although we need a solid euro in order to preserve our assets, we must not have a euro that is too strong for lasting economic growth to develop, particularly in the field of exports.
Jonathan Evans (PPE-DE), in writing. The British Conservative Party is firmly against the entry of the UK into the eurozone, and, in common with normal practice, we have abstained on the final vote of the Mitchell report. We are nevertheless vigilant as regards the need for sound monetary policy in the EU trading bloc and we are opposed in particular to efforts to subject the application of monetary policy to political ends.
Bruno Gollnisch (ITS), in writing. – (FR) I have two remarks to make about the two reports on which we have voted today, on the work of the European Central Bank and the euro zone.
The first is that one has the impression that nothing is being controlled where the single currency is concerned. True, it exists, but then what? It does not lead to growth – the budgetary and structural reforms linked to it are supposed to do that – any more than it leads to a convergence of economic cycles, of results, of the interest rates set by the banks. As for European monetary policy, one can only continue to deplore its failure to meet the needs of the Member States of the euro zone, the eight increases in the European Central Bank’s reference rate in 18 months, their dubious motives and the continued absence of any exchange-rate policy.
It may be noted above all, and this is my second remark, that, despite the process – which I consider unwarranted – of reforming the Treaties, there is no question whatsoever of calling into question the stated objective of this policy in order to finally force the Frankfurt-based Bank to support growth and employment over the ideological creation of a European monetary area. Mr Sarkozy, who is playing the part of finance minister on this occasion, does not seem able to move this situation forward.
Françoise Castex (PSE), in writing. – (FR) I voted in favour of the resolution on the situation in the Middle East.
I remain very concerned about the humanitarian situation of the entire Palestinian civilian population. Practical measures – in the form of paying back all taxes, partially lifting the 500 barriers in the West Bank and opening up the crossings in the Gaza Strip to international aid – must be taken in order to improve the living conditions of all Palestinians.
As a French member of the Socialist Group in the European Parliament, I would urge the European Parliament and the international community to do all they can to ensure that humanitarian aid and emergency aid reach the people of Gaza.
Finally, I would like to call for the resumption of internal political dialogue among the Palestinians, dialogue that must aim at the formation of a new government in a spirit of reconciliation and national unity in order to prevent the geographical and political division of the West Bank and Gaza.
David Martin (PSE), in writing. I voted for this resolution, which expressed condemnation for the Hamas takeover of Gaza. In particular I support the emphasis on the fact that the current crisis should not be used as an excuse to halt efforts to reach a lasting peace.
Luís Queiró (PPE-DE), in writing. – (PT) The situation in Palestine is a cause for great concern. Apart from proving that the nub of the issue is not Israel – something that a great many people have said many times – it also demonstrates two unfortunate truths. On the one hand, there are groups ready and willing to do anything to get power by force and to use it violently; on the other, since the Authority’s very survival is threatened, it is a partner that is unable to make agreements or to set its own house in order.
What we all need – the Middle East, Israel and Europe – is to have a partner across the table that is reliable enough to negotiate with and strong enough to implement what is agreed. Without that, we cannot have successful peace negotiations. Yet it is also impossible to agree on peace and security without determination. Our unequivocal aim should be nothing less than to guarantee the peaceful and secure coexistence of two States. To achieve that, we have to acknowledge what the real obstacles to peace and security are, instead of handing out blame, as often happens, as if all actions were equivalent.
Georgios Toussas (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (EL) We are voting against the motion for a resolution on the situation in the Middle East.
The resolution by the European Parliament on the situation in the Middle East endeavours through hypocritical crowing to conceal the imperialist policy of the EU in the area. It hides the huge responsibility of the ΕU, the policy of equating perpetrators with victims and the imperialist interventions by the EU/USA and ΝΑΤΟ which are perpetuating the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories and the crimes by the Israeli Government against the Palestinian people.
The imperialist interventions by the USA/ΝΑΤΟ and the EU for a ‘New Middle East’ and the adventurous policy of Israel in the area as a whole are responsible for the dangerous situation in the Palestinian territories, in Lebanon and in the area as a whole. The immediate withdrawal of the Israeli occupying army from the Palestinian territories, the foundation of an independent Palestinian state with its capital in East Jerusalem and an end to imperialist interventions in the countries of the Middle East are basic demands of the fight of the people in the area.
Pedro Guerreiro (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) This explanation of vote serves only to emphasise that, despite reference in the resolution of some of the most important aspects of the current situation in Pakistan, its content effectively conceals the participation by the Pakistani Government in the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan by the USA and its allies, and in their subsequent ‘replacement’ by NATO. There is no mention of the pressure that the Pakistani authorities have already admitted to having suffered at the hands of the USA and its European allies to aid in the attack on Afghanistan. Likewise, there is no mention of the bombardments carried out by NATO on the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan, which have resulted in the deaths of many innocent civilians on both sides of the border.
A case of double standards ...
Luís Queiró (PPE-DE), in writing. (PT) Just because Europe, the United States and the world in general need Pakistan’s collaboration in the important fight against terrorism, and Al-Qaeda in particular, this does not mean that the Pakistani Government, today an actual presidential regime, has our unconditional support. Quite the contrary. The fundamental values and the non-renounceable nature of democracy are worthy of our defence and it is in this spirit that the European Union will handle its relations with Pakistan, especially on the eve of elections. That said, it is nevertheless necessary to underline the fact that recent events at the Red Mosque prove – as if any proof were still needed – that radical Islamism is a very real, very dangerous and very active threat.
Erik Meijer (GUE/NGL), in writing. (NL) The Macedonia that I got to know for the first time in 1962 boasted many features dating back to previous centuries, with traditional cottages, dirt tracks, transport by horse and cart, traditional dress and different ethnic groups living juxtaposed to one another. The Macedonia 45 years on is the result of far-reaching developments since.
In the 1990s, the European Union, as I see it, made serious mistakes when Yugoslavia inevitably fell apart. This break-up was denied for too long and, when it was recognised, we chose to ignore the remaining ethnic diversity. In some cases, the wrong borders were recognised, military means were deployed unnecessarily and a decision was made in favour of inappropriate interference. This damage was proportionately limited in Macedonia. As rapporteur, I hope I can contribute to peace, democracy, reconciliation and progress in that country. The 558 votes with which this House supported my report are a step in the right direction of Macedonia’s accession to the European Union, which was previously pledged but has so far been unsuccessful. I hope that in the next annual report we will be able to read that major obstacles to accession have been removed and that the Council has opened the accession negotiations.
Athanasios Pafilis (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (EL) We voted against the report, not only because we are against the ΕU and the integration of the FYROM in it, but also because we consider that the intervention of the ΕU dangerously complicates the situation in the area and undermines the procedures for finding a mutual and jointly acceptable solution within the framework of the UN.
We are not focusing our attention on the name, insofar as it is a geographical designation and any references to minorities and irredentist views are removed.
The source of the problems lies in the imperialist plans, the interventions by the ΕU, the USA and ΝΑΤΟ in the Balkans and the changes to the borders. The integration of the FYROM and other Balkan countries into the ΕU and ΝΑΤΟ will create new problems at the expense of the peoples. The history of relations between our country and the FYROM, developments on the issues of the Aegean and Cyprus prove that the ΕU, ΝΑΤΟ and the USA are no guarantee for peace and security; on the contrary, they are undermining national independence and involving our country and other countries in the area in dangerous situations.
The New Democracy, PASOK, Synaspismos and Laos parties are misleading the people with cheap patriotism on the question of the name, while at the same time applying a policy of going along with the imperialists responsible for the situation in the Balkans.
Our people and the people in the area can ...
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Dimitrios Papadimoulis (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (EL) I did not vote in favour of the Meijer report in its final form, because I wanted greater account to be taken of the positions and sensibilities of the Greek side and the bilateral negotiations on the name of our neighbouring country currently under way under the aegis of the UN.
I greatly fear that the historic opportunity for a satisfactory compromise with the FYROM, with a composite name acceptable to both sides, was lost once and for all in 1992. My party continues to support a solution in the form of a composite name acceptable to both sides and any relevant constructive initiatives. Nonetheless, we do not consider the name of the neighbouring country to be a central priority of our foreign policy.
Tobias Pflüger (GUE/NGL), in writing. (DE) I voted against the report from my fellow group member, Erik Meijer, on the ‘Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia’ because, contrary to the opinion of the rapporteur, the Committee on Foreign Affairs inserted the following wording in point 3 of the report: the European Parliament, it says, ‘commends the Macedonian Government for its cooperation in the field of the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) and the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP), notably its participation in the EU mission Althea and its willingness to contribute to the development of the ESDP capabilities and future EU-led civilian and military crisis-management missions’.
This is a catastrophic position to adopt. This point welcomes the ‘CFSP’, which in reality is a militarisation of the EU. The adopted formula obliges a potential applicant country to take part already in the military component of the EU and to arm itself in order to contribute to the development of ‘ESDP capabilities’. It welcomes the Althea mission. Among other things, the Althea mission symbolises the financial fiddling that takes place in connection with military missions of the EU through mechanisms, such as Athena, which are not subject to parliamentary control. The European Parliament should not be a party to measures designed to perpetuate the militarisation of the EU. The rest of the report is better than the usual European Parliament reports on Balkan countries.
Françoise Castex (PSE), in writing. – (FR) I voted in favour of the resolution on the TRIPS Agreement and access to medicines.
I believe that access to pharmaceutical products at affordable prices in poor developing countries and in the least developed countries is an essential condition when it comes to formalising the development objectives proposed by the European Union. In my view, the provision of these medicines would help to reduce poverty, to increase human security and to promote human rights and sustainable development. Accordingly, European Union policy should aim at making the maximum amount of affordable pharmaceutical products available within developing countries.
Finally, I would like to call on the Council to support developing countries that resort to the flexibilities integrated into the TRIPS Agreement and recognised by the Doha Declaration, so that they are able to provide essential medicines at affordable prices as part of their national public health programmes.
Pedro Guerreiro (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) After the Doha Declaration, the application of the mechanism intended to give access to drugs was a failure, having served above all as an alibi for including the less-developed countries, especially in Africa, in a business agenda for the liberalisation of world trade.
The large pharmaceutical monopolies have no inclination to lose out on the fabulous profits arising from patents and the sizeable health ‘business’.
Thus, millions of human beings are being deprived of their right to health. Research into finding a cure is orientated towards the ‘palliative’, since ongoing disease is more lucrative. Capitalism commercialises life.
The World Bank and the IMF make loans and aid conditional on the privatisation and liberalisation of national health sectors, increasingly in the hands of the major multinational operators.
Health cannot come under the jurisdiction of the WTO, the leading body in competition and commerce.
The right of each country to guarantee the right to health must be ensured.
The public sector plays an irreplaceable role in guaranteeing this right, namely in the provision of preventative and primary health care, and in the encouragement of research for the benefit of all but, equally, in the manufacture of drugs and vaccines free from the restrictions of patents and other forms of licensing that limit people’s access to essential goods and services.
David Martin (PSE), in writing. I voted for this Resolution which asked that more be done to allow developing countries and LDCs to access medicines. In particular I believe the Council should support the developing countries which use the flexibilities enshrined in the TRIPS Agreement. Further, I support the request in the resolution that the Commission and the Member States should provide financial support for local production of pharmaceuticals in developing countries.
Jean-Claude Martinez (ITS), in writing. – (FR) The pairing of ‘Medicines and poor countries of the South’ poses a problem in terms of the reconciling of ‘Intellectual property law of pharmaceutical laboratories and human rights to health care’.
In Hong Kong, the WTO summit reached an agreement, the results of which have yet to be felt in the areas of tuberculosis, malaria and AIDS. Medicines, whether generic or not, are not accessible to the people.
However, the substance of this audacious solution presupposes that the ‘common heritage of mankind’ concept, dating back to the 1960s, has been taken up here.
Major diseases are spread worldwide by people migrating and travelling. These diseases can strike down mankind. We saw this with SARS and avian influenza. Therefore, for worldwide diseases, we need worldwide medicines.
Medicines that are used to treat worldwide diseases must have a ‘common heritage of mankind patent’.
The legal status of these 21st century patents would be open, as would the tax to be paid from intergovernmental contributions. Thought may be given to ‘public-private partnerships’ involving ‘multinational pharmaceutical companies and the WHO’ or governments. Thought may be also given to a ‘Company’ with international status, of the type stipulated for sea bed exploitation.
The important thing is the innovative principle of the worldwide management of the risks of worldwide pandemics.
- Democratic scrutiny of the implementation of the Financing Instrument for Development Cooperation (B6-0310/2007)
Karin Scheele (PSE), in writing. (DE) Today’s resolution is already the fourth within a few months and demonstrates the importance of parliamentary scrutiny of expenditure on development cooperation. In its development cooperation, the European Union must prioritise the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. It is regrettable that many of the country strategy papers do not focus sharply enough on combating poverty. The Commission should provide Parliament with information indicating the effects of planned activities on efforts to combat poverty.
Zuzana Roithová (PPE-DE). – (CS) I was grateful that the proposals made by the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) and European Democrats were not blocked, as they have placed the political gesture contained in the report on a sounder footing. We all know that accession talks with Ukraine cannot start right away, but rather over the next ten years or more, despite the fact that everyone here, except for the extremist politicians, wants Ukraine to join. I refuse to make cheap gestures and therefore welcome the sensible amendments to the report. This will become an important signal for democratic activity prior to the elections in Ukraine, and it will, in particular, promote the conclusion of the treaty on strengthening economic cooperation, and that is a very real step towards integration with Europe. I would like to thank Mr Kamińsky and Mr Brok for their readiness to make this compromise.
Zita Pleštinská (PPE-DE). – (SK) The report by fellow Member Mr Kamiñski is the result of reflections on the future shape of Europe, and on whether we will manage to build a Europe based on Christian principles.
What does Ukraine mean to the European Union? In my opinion, Ukraine is one of the European Union’s most important strategic partners, and it is therefore gratifying that through this report the European Parliament is extending a helping hand to Kiev. Only the prospect of a European future can assist Ukraine in continuing with the process of reform. The report is the first official document to send a positive, constructive signal to Ukraine, and in particular to the pro-European and pro-democratic forces there, encouraging the country, three years after the Orange Revolution, to complete the task of European integration.
I was delighted to vote for this report, and as a member of the delegation to the EU-Ukraine Parliamentary Cooperation Committee I will be working to implement it. The post-communist countries, having experienced a totalitarian past and knowing how challenging and difficult it is to meet all of the criteria required to join the European family, are showing particular solidarity with Ukraine and offer a guarantee that the door to the European home will forever remain wide open to Ukraine.
Elmar Brok (PPE-DE). – (DE) Madam President, I should like to deliver an oral explanation of vote on behalf of my group.
Ukraine is an important European country, the democratic, constitutional, economic and social development of which must be supported, not least in the interests of the EU itself.
An enhanced agreement between Ukraine and the EU is an important means to that end.
We now need many practical steps such as accession to the WTO, a free-trade area, an enhanced neighbourhood policy and a kind of European Economic Area. People in Ukraine must be aware that democracy works to their advantage.
The extent to which the EU can hold out the prospect of a European future depends not only on the capacity of Ukraine to reform itself but also on that of the EU.
The people of Ukraine have no need of promises that may be unrealistic or that may deliver nothing in the way of practical progress in the foreseeable future.
This is why no binding pledge of EU membership can be made today, but the possibility must not be ruled out either.
Czesław Adam Siekierski (PPE-DE). – (PL) Madam President, we have adopted an incredibly important report on the negotiating mandate concerning the new, enhanced agreement between the European Community, its Member States and Ukraine.
I am convinced that this large and beautiful country will become a member of the European Union in the future. This will take place as long as it continues to press ahead with its social, economic and political reforms and continues to strengthen democracy and respect for human rights.
We should deepen our relations with our eastern neighbour, especially in connection with economic and cultural matters. We should foster youth projects, as well as student and academic exchanges. It is incredibly important for us to support the integration of Ukraine's energy sector into the European Union’s energy market. It is high time that the European Union became more open towards Ukraine. The adopted report is a good example of this sort of attitude.
Bogusław Rogalski (UEN). – (PL) Madam President, Mr Kamiński’s report on the negotiating mandate for the new, enhanced agreement between the European Union, its Member States and Ukraine is a good step towards bringing the Union and Ukraine closer. However, it is a shame that this report has been drawn up so late in the day. Fear of Russia and its designs, including those which involve Ukraine, has meant that a new iron curtain has appeared, this time on Ukraine's western borders. It is time that this changed.
It seems to me that Ukraine, rather than Turkey, should have priority in terms of European Union membership. Ukraine, rather than Turkey, is a European country. It is part of European culture and its state is based on the rule of law. Moreover, Ukraine recognises all the Member States of the European Union. Turkey, for example, does not recognise the independence of Cyprus. Therefore, in terms of future accession negotiations, Ukraine should have priority, and not Turkey, whose culture is alien to us.
Ryszard Czarnecki (UEN). – (PL) Madam President, I wanted to stress that Mr Kamiński’s report is the most important statement that the European Parliament has made during this session. It comes at a particularly appropriate time, although there is currently a lack of political stability in Ukraine. We, the European Union, are sending out a clear and comprehensible signal. ‘Yes, we are united, we invite you to closely cooperate with us in the future and, in time, we will probably invite you to join us.’
This sends a signal to all pro-European, pro-Western politicians in Ukraine that it is worth investing in reforms, developing democracy and changing the country’s image. I would also like to stress that the voice of the European Parliament is particularly important from a moral point of view. This is because we are turning to one more country that was within the Soviet zone, within the USSR.
Pedro Guerreiro (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) This report on Ukraine contains aspects that recur whenever the question arises of relations between the EU and the Eastern European countries. An example is the recommendation to deepen internal reform with a view to these countries adapting completely to the EU’s neoliberal doctrine.
In this instance, ‘the gradual economic integration of the Ukraine into the EU’s internal market’, ensuring ‘the creation of a competitive market economy’ (with emphasis on the energy sector) and ‘Ukraine’s close involvement the EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy’, is indicated as the primary objective. To which we would add the elimination of the reality (and, if possible, memory) of any trace that might act as a reminder of the advances made in civilisation resulting from the world’s first experience of socialist construction.
Despite the ambitions of the USA/NATO/main EU powers with regard to this country – whose strategic importance in Europe is particularly significant – they will always have to face those in the Ukraine who resist them. Hence the importance of expressing solidarity with the Ukrainian people and the recent demonstrations in Odessa, in protest against the USA/NATO Sea Breeze 2007 military exercise in Ukraine.
David Martin (PSE), in writing. I voted for this report on looking at Ukrainian EU membership. I support the call for a resolution to the current crisis, for the government to tackle problems of corruption and to further integrate the country's energy markets with the Union.
Pedro Guerreiro (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) We regret the rejection of our proposals which:
- Recommended that, besides attention being given to the specific situation of the regions affected by the so-called ‘statistical effect’, which have suffered cuts in funding under the current Financial Framework, the need for review should be put forward so that these regions may receive the same level of support that they would have received had the eligibility criteria been based on the EU-15;
- Requested that the Commission rapidly specify the content of the ‘reinforced partnership’ which it announced with regard to the outermost regions, including the introduction of permanent, flexible and adequately-financed policies and measures capable of adapting to the needs of each of these regions and helping to counteract the permanent restraints on development which they face;
- Urged the Commission to study new means of evaluating the different aspects of regional development, based not only on GDP per capita but also on other indicators such as unemployment rates and quantitative and qualitative indicators of a social nature (such as the poverty rate, education levels and income inequality), simultaneously perfecting the methodology used in calculating purchasing power parities through the development of better regional and national indicators.
Miloš Koterec (PSE), in writing. (SK) I have fully supported the report as drafted by the rapporteur. In particular, I subscribe to the demand for serious measures to be taken to eliminate the major shortcomings in the development of the EU’s poorest regions, to which many areas in Slovakia belong. I would like to emphasise that such regions require special support in view of their persistent institutional, administrative and economic difficulties.
I would like to reiterate that it is extremely important to avoid the mistakes made in the old Member States, and repeated in the new Member States in 2004–2006 as well, and I call on the Commission to come up with a compendium of best and worst practice and a broad list of concise case studies, which should inter alia minimise the risk of Community assistance being poorly targeted in some regions. It is also important for Member States to take the best course of action and tap the natural and cultural riches of the poorest regions in an effort to transform them into areas attractive to investors. This is a field where innovative approaches may play an important role.
Luís Queiró (PPE-DE), in writing. (PT) Despite the oft-asserted ‘European crisis’, one of the policies defining principles, values and strategies has happily not been called into question. In general, both citizens and political leaders remain firm in their conviction that efforts towards cohesion respond to a need for solidarity between partners in the same community whilst also representing an investment in spreading the conditions of economic growth in the whole of which we are a part.
There are, however, two points which must be put forward. Firstly, it is necessary to emphasise the issue of statistical discrepancy. There are several regions that have become statistically richer than they really are purely as a result of enlargement. To withdraw them from the support framework would not only be unfair but also an error with regard to the political objectives adhered to thus far. Secondly, it is important that the cohesion policies be adapted to the new economic reality. The causes of underdevelopment and poverty, or, to put it another way, the factors contributing to such a situation, are different today, hence the need to tailor and adapt these policies, so that current funding does not only respond to old imbalances.
Margie Sudre (PPE-DE), in writing. – (FR) I am grateful to Mrs Geringer de Oedenberg for having agreed to support my amendments aimed at pointing out, once again, that most of the outermost regions are still among the poorest regions of the European Union.
In this regard, Article 299(2) of the Treaty states that the Community must adapt its policies and decide on specific measures designed to benefit the outermost regions, in view of their permanent and combined structural and geographical handicaps.
I support the strategy deployed by the Union to help its outermost regions, but I call on the Commission to clarify quickly the content of the ‘strengthened partnership’ that it has adopted – not least in terms of improving the regions’ competitiveness – and the action plan for the wider neighbourhood.
The structural policies conducted in the outermost regions would have an even greater impact if the Commission demonstrated greater flexibility by agreeing to rid itself, as and when necessary, of certain ‘Community dogmas’ and by taking greater account of the particular characteristics of these regions.
I look forward to the new communication on the outermost regions, which the Commission has promised for this year, and hope that it will breathe new life into the regions suffering from handicaps caused by their outlying location.
Georgios Toussas (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (EL) The Greek Communist Party is radically opposed to and voted against the report on the effectiveness of the EU’s cohesion policy. The EU data used in the report prove precisely the opposite. The contrasts and inequalities between the Member States and the various regions of the EU are increasing and deepening. One revealing example when it comes to the myth of the alleged convergence and cohesion between the Member States of the EU is Greece, where the per capita gross domestic product was 44.78% of the Community average in 1960, 71.79% in 1980 before it joined what was then the EEC and just 66.59% twenty-plus years later in 2002.
EU policy not only fails to reduce inequalities and poverty; on the contrary, it increases them to the utmost degree. It paves the way for the plundering by monopoly capital of the wealth-producing resources of the Member States of the EU and for stepping up the exploitation of their people. The objective of the so-called ‘cohesion policy’ is not the alleged cohesion; it is to formulate the terms of survival of the workers at the lowest possible level, just one step before poverty, in order to contain social outcry, which is, however, inevitable.
President. – I have no other explanations of vote.