Traian Ungureanu, on behalf of the PPE Group. – (RO) I would particularly like to thank the rapporteur. On behalf of the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats), I welcome the final vote on the Progress programme. The PPE Group, which I represented during the drafting of the report, has always expressed its support for any initiative and measures aimed at tackling the economic and social disparities between Member States.
The report we have voted on today meets one of the PPE Group’s main objectives: to provide support to micro-enterprises, backed up by concern for social inclusion. Today’s vote also guarantees that the programmes which come under the Progress framework structure will not be restricted, thereby achieving another objective set by the PPE Group. I believe that the key element of today’s vote is contained in Article 1 of the report. It actually reflects the balanced approach which the PPE Group has always supported with regard to the issue of sources for funding the projects.
In fact, the budget line for the European Microfinance Facility is made up of EUR 60 million from the Progress programme funds and EUR 40 million from other sources. This proportion concurs with the PPE Group’s approach which favours, on the one hand, the rapid launch of the programme and, on the other hand, the prudence required by the budget constraints we are facing at the moment. I wish to thank you again for today’s vote and for the constant support during the drafting of the report.
Alajos Mészáros (PPE). – (HU) I would like to say how pleased I am that we have accepted this programme, and I am happy I was able to vote in favour of it, especially at a time when our countries are struggling with the economic crisis and unemployment has reached ten percent or more in many of our countries. This package will be of great assistance to all of us. I would like to express my gratitude to the rapporteur, and would also like to add how happy I am that agreement could be reached and that this EUR 100 million will not be allocated entirely at the expense of the Progress package. This is a very good agreement, thank you very much, and hopefully it will be to everyone’s benefit.
Marian Harkin (ALDE). – Mr President, I too am very pleased to have supported this initiative. It is a tangible expression of an example of one of the measures that have been undertaken by the EU in response to the current economic crisis. This particular initiative targets those who would not normally have access to the credit market; those to whom the banks and other financial institutions would say, no thank you, we do not want your business. People for example who have lost their jobs, who are at risk of social exclusion, people who have difficulty re-entering the job market now have an opportunity to set up their own business because they can access loans, with guaranteed equity of up to EUR 25 000. I think this initiative will make a difference to many people, and I thank the Spanish Presidency for their efforts in concluding an agreement and also the rapporteur for her hard work.
I think we have a good deal here today especially for those, as I said, who are excluded from the credit market, and on a personal level I am also very pleased to see the credit unions are among those institutions which can pass on this funding to their members.
Siiri Oviir (ALDE). – (ET) Mr President, the economic crisis has created a social crisis – there is no other way of describing a situation in which unemployment has grown by three, four or five times, as compared with the period before the crisis. In the past year we have in this very Chamber made a European economic recovery plan, a plan which envisaged the fulfilment and financing of the decisions, within the context of the Progress programme.
Of course, the situation is complex. Reducing unemployment cannot be done all at once. I supported the Commission’s additional measures regarding micro-credit financing. It is, however, unacceptable that they wanted to take the easy way out and take money for credit financing from the funds for the Progress programme. I could not support such an approach, and therefore I voted for the compromises put forward in Mrs Gönczi’s report.
Daniel Hannan (ECR). – Mr President, the share of world GDP occupied by old Europe is in serious decline. If we exclude the countries that joined in the last enlargement round, the GDP of the world which was occupied by the 15 old states 40 years ago was 35%; today is 25%; in 15 years’ time, will be 15%. Europe is becoming sclerotic, arthritic, because of the economic and social model which we used to pride ourselves on.
There was a time immediately after the war when it looked as if it was working: paid holidays, maternity leave – what is not to like? – limited working hours and so on. But there comes a moment when reality imposes itself, and we have reached that moment now. It now takes four German workers to put in the same amount of hours over the year as three American workers; as a result, US share of world GDP over the last 40 years has remained roughly stable. We are like an elderly couple in a once grand house which is beginning to crumble around us, taking our eyes off the developments beyond our doorstep. Our continent as a whole is becoming sterile, sclerotic and old.
Bogusław Liberadzki (S&D). – (PL) Mr President, it was with great pleasure that I endorsed the resolution, and I also endorsed all of the amendments. What were the reasons for my decision? Firstly, in spite of the crisis, we managed to concentrate on matters of employment and social solidarity. Secondly, we managed to concentrate in spite of our differences, because they were joint amendments, supported by the Socialists, Democrats, Christian Democrats and Liberals. Thirdly and finally, I would like this to give a clear signal to all Member States, that in connection with this resolution they should follow the example of the European Parliament.
Peter van Dalen (ECR). – (NL) The European Parliament has been handed more power, but this power has not been put to constructive use today. In the run-up to the debate on SWIFT, a great deal went wrong. The Commission and the Council gave Parliament too little information too late. This must not happen again.
Yet this is not a good enough reason to suddenly discontinue a programme that has been functioning reasonably for a number of years, a programme that has demonstrably protected both European and US citizens on several occasions. I have voted against the report, therefore, and am in favour of a nine-month extension of the SWIFT Agreement. When a new agreement is negotiated, clear arrangements must be made for better protection of personal data. We must prevent unnecessary data exchange and must not allow data to be stored indefinitely.
Peter Jahr (PPE). – (DE) Mr President, the need to decisively combat terrorism in the European Union and, alongside that, the need to forge close and constructive cooperation with the United States is something that no one contests. Nonetheless, I have voted against the SWIFT agreement, because fundamental data protection issues have still not been clarified. In addition, the contempt shown to Parliament while the agreement was being negotiated was quite simply unacceptable. I very much hope that Parliament will now be fully involved and that we will not have any repeat of this situation.
An international agreement to regulate data exchange is certainly necessary, but it must not be allowed to flout civil liberties and fundamental rights. Whenever European data is transferred to third parties, we must also ensure that we safeguard the data protection interests of EU citizens. I will continue to strive for this.
Georgios Papanikolaou (PPE). – (EL) Mr President, a very brief debate was held yesterday on the SWIFT question here in Parliament and both the Council and the Commission made very important assumptions in terms of the problems which existed in the procedure, especially in terms of informing Parliament about all the parameters of the question.
That is precisely why I voted today in favour of the proposed postponement, so that we can obtain the right information in the immediate future, resolve any misinterpretations and arrive at a final decision.
The question of protecting the data of European citizens is crucial and we all defend it absolutely. No one questions that all provisions must be made. However, at the same time, we need to take the measures needed in order to combat illegal funding of terrorist organisations and, in that way, deal preventively with a phenomenon which is the scourge of both the United States of America and Europe in terms of terrorist attacks.
That is precisely why our responsibility in the immediate future is crucial so that, in agreement, we can resolve the misunderstandings and get on with finding a solution to this question.
Gerard Batten (EFD). – Mr President, I would like to give an explanation of the vote on the Hennis-Plasschaert report – the so-called ‘SWIFT report’ – dealing with terrorist finance tracking.
I think the vote was confusing, even by the standards of this place. We voted, I believe, not to vote, and then voted to send the report back to committee. I wanted to vote to withhold my consent to the conclusion of the agreement. However, I certainly did not want to vote in favour of paragraph 2 of the report, which was to submit recommendations for a long-term agreement under the legal framework of the Lisbon Treaty.
I do not want any agreement or any agreements under the Lisbon Treaty. The Lisbon Treaty is in contravention of the Bill of Rights of 1689 and England’s other constitutional acts, which have not been expressly repealed and which remain in force. Because of this, England – and, indeed, the United Kingdom – is now living under an illegally constituted government.
Charalampos Angourakis (GUE/NGL) . – (EL) Mr President, may I say that I voted in favour of the report by Mr Hennis-Plasschaert, but I should like to give an explanation of vote, which is this: the Greek Communist Party rejects the ‘terror agreement’ between the European Union and the United States of America concluded in the name of fighting terrorist funding.
We denounce the efforts by the centre left and centre right forces, the forces of the European one-way street, to clear their conscience with the people on the ‘terror agreements’ with the United States. Although the resolution by the European Parliament does not approve the interim agreement already signed by the European Union and the USA, it calls on the Council to conclude a permanent agreement with the United States which will allegedly respect personal data protection.
We consider this to be blatant deception. In our opinion, there can be no protection of personal data while it is in the hands of the CIA and other secret services. Terrorism is being used by the European Union and the USA and other imperialist forces as a pretext to violate grassroots freedoms and rights, to strike at the grassroots movement and to justify their imperialist wars.
There is no such thing as ‘terrorist laws’ that respect grassroots freedoms, which is why the people need to reject them, along with all the associated ‘terror agreements’.
Daniel Hannan (ECR). – Mr President, this was a finely balanced issue, and I envy some of the moral certainty expressed by people on both sides of it. There were legitimate civil liberty issues; concerns that would be shared by people in the United States as well as in the European Union. Nonetheless, I feel on balance that the American Administration went out of its way to meet the concerns which were expressed on this side of the Atlantic and has come out with a proportionate proposal which takes account of the balance between security and freedom.
I have spoken out against many of the measures that were introduced in this place over the past 10 years under the cover of security measures which were in fact simply about aggrandising the powers of the state. But, in this case, I do not think it comes in that category; we are looking at a measure where you can point to specific successes that it has had in terms of foiling terrorist atrocities. I am afraid I do not think that some of the critics in this House were really interested in civil liberties. They had two other agendas: first to assert the power of the federal parliament against the nation states, and, secondly, their reflexive belief that America is always and everywhere in the wrong. It is a pity. After the election of Barack Obama many on the Left of this House were talking warmly about a new partnership across the Atlantic. Today we can see what faith to put in their words.
Jaroslav Paška (EFD). – (SK) The European Commission has concluded an agreement with the United States on the transfer of personal data of EU citizens to US news services. The agreement is very disadvantageous and unequal for the EU. We think that this agreement, in the version that has been presented to the European Parliament, could not be accepted because we are responsible for protecting the rights of EU citizens and we cannot allow their data to be handled in the US by news services for a period of 99 years.
The structure of this agreement was absurd and unequal and in my opinion it allowed the personal data of EU citizens to be misused. It is therefore a good thing that the European Parliament has decided to reject this agreement and has obliged the European Commission to start work on a new agreement which will be balanced and which will treat the rights of US and EU citizens equally.
Zuzana Roithová (PPE). – (CS) I voted for the postponement of the vote on the agreement and also against the proposal to reject its ratification. The fact that pride has triumphed over responsibility in this House is not a good sign, even though the Council made a bad job of communicating with the European Parliament. The analysis of this data, however, has made it possible for terrorist attacks directed against European citizens to be detected in time. Those who scuttled the provisional agreement with the idea that it gave better protection to the financial data of European citizens have perhaps not read this agreement, because it provides a better framework than existed in practice under the old agreement from 2003, even though there is no known case of this data being misused. On the contrary, in the provisional agreement there were even more new safeguards, such as, for example, that requests for data could be made only by the US Justice Secretary in the same way as for Europol, and only on the basis of a clear description of the investigation that it would be used for. I cannot therefore understand what has happened here. In my opinion, the European Parliament has adopted an unprecedented and arrogant position.
Seán Kelly (PPE). – Mr President, firstly I would just like to say that I fully accept the democratic decision taken by the House but, in relation to this matter, I was pleased to vote in accordance with our group and the position outlined by our leader, Mr Daul. However, I think there were two contributory factors which contributed to the defeat by 15 votes – one the failure to answer the question put by Mr Schulz, and, secondly, I think there was an element of confusion about what we were voting on.
For future reference, I think that, when there are proposals from the floor, it has to be spelt out quite clearly for everybody that this is what we are voting on right now. I may not be right or wrong on that situation, but that is my opinion.
Miroslav Mikolášik (PPE). – (SK) I would like to talk about the vote we have just held on sharp objects and injuries in hospitals and in doctors’ surgeries. It must be said that this problem has long been underestimated. Many injuries happen, whether during operations, in GP surgeries or in the surgeries of medical specialists, with either a nurse or a doctor injuring themselves with a needle or a scalpel that is contaminated with samples from a patient infected with a contagious disease.
We increasingly see how nurses in particular may be infected with hepatitis but it is not uncommon in such work for them to be infected with the HIV virus as well and to fall ill with AIDS. I would like to support the efforts of the European Parliament and our efforts to protect doctors and nurses through preventative measures and also, where they are seeking compensation, for this right to be acknowledged.
Marian Harkin (ALDE). – Mr President, I am pleased with the outcome of the vote here today because, back in 2006, the Employment and Social Affairs Committee adopted a report on protecting European healthcare workers from blood-borne infections due to needle-stick and sharp injuries. Of course we had the framework agreement last July between the social partners and today we have this resolution. This resolution will be warmly welcomed by healthcare workers across the EU because needle-stick injuries and sharp injuries represent one of the most common and serious risks for health workers. Indeed, it is estimated that there are about one million such injuries each year.
It is now crucial that the measures defined in the proposed directive be urgently implemented and adopted first, and then implemented. Healthcare workers have waited too long already; it is not reasonable that they should be asked to wait any longer. Their job is difficult enough and stressful enough as it is, and anything we can do to improve the situation will, I know, be very welcome.
Andreas Mölzer (NI), in writing. − (DE) Iceland, which submitted its application for accession to the European Union to the Council on 16 July 2009, should not, of course, be put at a disadvantage in relation to other accession candidates or potential accession countries. In the light of this, I have voted in favour of adapting and amending the existing regulation on pre-accession assistance. As we know, Iceland is already a member of the EEA and is a very well developed nation, which is why payments granted from such assistance should be limited. In general, however, this pre-accession instrument should be reviewed again. For example, it is far from clear why non-European countries, such as Turkey, receive hundreds of millions of euros of European taxpayers’ money, money that is urgently needed in Europe.
Vilija Blinkevičiūtė (S&D), in writing. − (LT) I voted in favour of this report as the 2003 Hague Convention on the International Recovery of Child Support and other Forms of Family Maintenance is first and foremost a measure to protect children, since the vast majority of such claims involve child support. This Convention aims to make it easier for people to recover payments and ensure that claims submitted for maintenance abroad are recognised and pursued effectively. I am pleased that the Council consulted the European Parliament and is about to take a decision on this Convention, since due to opportunities to move freely in EU Member States and other countries and due to an increased number of divorces, there has also been an increase in the number of international cases involving maintenance recovery.
I would like to stress that once this proposal by the Commission on the recovery of maintenance has been approved, it will be easier and simpler for a person living in the territory of one of the contracting states to recover maintenance (alimony) from a person who falls under the jurisdiction of another contracting state. Thus, once this decision has been adopted, relations between countries of the Convention and the European Union Member States in this matter will be strengthened legally and regulated harmoniously.
Carlos Coelho (PPE), in writing. − (PT) The 2007 Convention on the International Recovery of Child Support and Other Forms of Family Maintenance is extremely important whether from a political or practical point of view, since it ensures a more effective recovery of child support, helping to resolve situations that are often quite complicated. Since the vast majority of such claims involve children and child support, the Convention is first and foremost a measure to protect children, laying down detailed rules on the recognition and enforcements in matters of maintenance obligations. This proposal aims to approve the Convention on behalf of the Union, which would have exclusive competence over the entire Convention. Given the importance of this Convention, I can only support this proposal, yet I believe that, though it falls to the Union to communicate any declarations and reservations to the Convention, the Member States should nonetheless be able to decide on an internal basis the meaning to give to these reservations and declarations, so that they can adjust them to their national situation.
Proinsias De Rossa (S&D), in writing. − I support this report which approves the conclusion of the Convention on the International Recovery of Child Support and Other forms of Family Maintenance. The purpose of this convention is to guarantee the recovery of family maintenance claims across national borders through precise norms on recognition and enforcement of maintenance obligations and thanks to standardised administrative procedures. While there is already a Regulation in place to deal with maintenance claims involving two EU Member States, claims involving a non-EU state did not enjoy such guarantees. This Convention will extend the protection of our children's right to family support whenever a claim involves a non-EU signatory state.
Robert Dušek (S&D), in writing. – (CS) The draft decision of the Council on the signing of the Convention on the International Recovery of Child Support and Other Forms of Family Maintenance by the European Community is first and foremost a measure for protecting children within the framework of the EU as a whole and for establishing a method of applying international claims as well as rules for recognising and enforcing them in cases of maintenance obligations between Member States and a third country. Since the Community has the authority to propose conventions with full validity for the Member States in this area, the procedure is rapid and certainly more efficient than it would be if similar conventions were signed with third countries by each Member State individually and I fully back the draft report with my vote.
Edite Estrela (S&D), in writing. − (PT) I voted in favour of the report on the proposal for a Council decision on the conclusion by the European Community of the Convention on the International Recovery of Child Support and Other Forms of Family Maintenance. Approval of this Convention will allow the creation of a harmonised set of rules within the Community in respect of third countries which will become Contracting Parties to the Convention. With these measures, children become better protected, since the vast majority of maintenance claims involve children.
Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. − (PT) The European Commission intends to adopt the Hague Convention on the International Recovery of Child Support and other Forms of Family Maintenance, making the Member States bound by this Convention by virtue of the Community having concluded it. The Commission has external competence for approval of the Convention.
Given that the practical matters posed by the international recovery of child support lack specific responses, approval of the present Convention will ensure greater effectiveness in the international recovery of family maintenance, thus protecting children who benefit from such claims. For this reason, and also because of the legal certainty which will result, I consider approval of the present Convention to be important.
José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. − (PT) In a modern, just and culturally evolved society, it is certainly unquestionable that the proper and healthy nourishment of all people must be guaranteed, but especially for those who are in the process of growing and learning, and in particular children. For these and for younger people, society must provide all the necessary support and action with the aim of securing the best development of their faculties. Food – a basic and inalienable principle of humanity – is a key factor for their physical development and development of their mental and cognitive capacities. Given that citizens must be the primary recipients of EU action, I would emphasise the European institutions’ capacity for initiative and implementation under this Convention, which ignores borders in order to ensure effective recovery of family maintenance. It should also be emphasised that the possibility of developing efforts towards a common legal area has been created, based on the principle of mutual recognition of legal decisions.
Ilda Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing. − (PT) We have no doubts regarding the importance of concluding this Convention, which is what the Maštálka report proposes, and, for this reason, we voted in favour. The aforesaid Convention covers the matters of recognition of foreign decisions, transfers of funds and administrative cooperation, including many practical matters which can affect the way international claims are pursued.
However, we do not agree that the European Union should assume exclusive external competence in this area. We accept still less any setting of a precedent that might justify the extension of any restrictions on the capacity of the Member States to conclude, in particular, bilateral agreements, not only in this field but also in others.
Lidia Joanna Geringer de Oedenberg (S&D), in writing. – (PL) Increasing numbers of marriages are being contracted between people from different countries and cultures. Problems connected with disputes arising from the breakdown of what are known as international marriages have been a frequent subject of petitions to the European Parliament for years. Conscious of the serious nature of the problems which affect children caught up in family disputes which have arisen in international marriages, in 1987 the European Parliament established the position of Mediator for International Parental Child Abduction. Signing the Convention on the International Recovery of Child Support and Other Forms of Family Maintenance is the Community’s next step towards ensuring adequate protection of its citizens, and particularly children. The convention is intended to strengthen Community legislation on the recognition and enforcement of judgments on matters of maintenance obligations, and to strengthen administrative cooperation between Central Authorities by establishing a harmonised set of rules in the Community in relation to third countries which become parties to the convention. Entry into force of the convention will, therefore, ensure maintenance creditors comprehensive assistance from a central authority in their country of residence when seeking recovery of maintenance from abroad. The convention also raises many practical issues which may affect the way a claim is pursued: for example language requirements, standard forms, exchange of information about national law and the use of new IT technologies to cut costs and delays.
Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. − (PT) Harmonising and improving the effectiveness of the international recovery of child support and other forms of family maintenance is very important because it safeguards the rights and protection of children, insofar as they form the vast majority of beneficiaries of maintenance to which they are entitled where there is a separation of parents.
Andreas Mölzer (NI), in writing. − (DE) Collecting child support is a growing problem, even within the territory of individual countries. Often, the State is forced to step in and make up the shortfall of any unpaid maintenance. Estonia even goes as far as posting the names of child support defaulters on the Internet, in order to force negligent fathers to pay up. Understandably, cross-border enforcement of maintenance claims awarded by a judicial decision is much more difficult. Now, recovery is to be made easier through an agreement, but the EU is under the impression that its powers are more far-reaching than they are. For this reason, I have rejected the report.
Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. − (PT) I voted in favour of the report on the proposed decision regarding the Progress Community Programme. This report changed the proposal of the Commission which previously supported the complete financing of a new microfinance initiative to create employment – a EUR 100 million programme created as an anti-crisis measure and which aims to give assistance to the unemployed by stimulating their entrepreneurship – from the existing budget of the ‘Progress’ programme. This programme was created to support the achievement of the objectives of the European Union in the area of employment, social matters and equality of opportunities, as defined in the Social Agenda, as well as to contribute to the realisation of the Lisbon Growth and Employment Strategy, having an extremely positive average rate of implementation (80%). In a period in which the financial and economic crisis is becoming a social and employment crisis, we would, by adopting the proposal of the Commission, be sending the wrong signal as ‘Progress’ has the most vulnerable groups as its target. The proposal of Parliament, thanks to a commitment with the Council, forecasts that EUR 60 million will come from the Progress programme and EUR 40 million from parts of the budget which have not been utilised. Next year, both programmes must be fully applied with adequate financing.
Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D), in writing. − (LT) The consequences of the economic and financial downturn are felt most painfully by ordinary EU citizens, therefore the greatest task of today’s EU policy is to halt the rise in unemployment, create more jobs and favourable conditions for economic recovery. The crisis has fundamentally changed Europe’s labour markets, therefore it is imperative to ensure we have the necessary measures so that both workers and companies can adapt more easily to the changing environment. I support this report, since I believe that it is necessary to allocate additional funding to the Progress programme in order to support people in the labour market and to assist small business and its development.
Vilija Blinkevičiūtė (S&D), in writing. − (LT) I voted for this report, as it is a splendid initiative, which will help socially disadvantaged people in Europe, including women and young people who have lost their jobs or do not have opportunities to enter the labour market, to obtain financial assistance and foster entrepreneurship. The Community Programme for Employment and Social Solidarity ‘Progress’ is targeted at the most vulnerable groups of people and will help them to create alternative jobs and ensure their employment, as unemployment above all affects the most vulnerable people in society.
I am delighted that the European Parliament managed to come to an agreement with the Council and the Commission during the trialogue on targeted funding and the implementation of this programme. I would like to underline the importance of this initiative, because right now as the level of unemployment is growing, so too is the social isolation of the most vulnerable people. Therefore, I would like to stress that by implementing the ‘Progress’ programme successfully and effectively, we will achieve the social priorities laid down by the EU – to create new jobs and increase the level of employment, to provide more opportunities to enter the labour market and satisfy the needs of the labour market.
Marielle De Sarnez (ALDE), in writing. – (FR) Given the slowdown in economic activity and the worsening employment situation, especially among young people, the European Parliament and the Commission are putting in place a new microfinance instrument named Progress. Action by the Democratic Movement MEPs focussed on granting access to the instrument to micro-enterprises in the social economy, so that they can develop flanking social services for vulnerable persons who wish to create or develop their own micro-enterprise. As regards funding for the instrument, the Democratic Movement MEPs defended the idea of a new budget heading which would not make cuts to the Progress programme, which finances numerous initiatives to promote employment.
In the end, a balanced compromise was struck between the Commission, the parliamentary groups and the Council, which makes provision for mixed funding (EUR 60 million from the budget for the Progress programme and EUR 040 million from new European budget headings). The entry into force of this new instrument is a step forward that bears witness to the Union’s wish to take specific action in the face of the legitimate social concerns of its fellow citizens and proves that there is an interest in greater involvement on the part of the European Parliament in Europe’s decision-making process. The Democratic Movement MEPs welcome this.
Edite Estrela (S&D), in writing. − (PT) I voted in favour of Mrs Göncz’s report which rejects the Commission proposal to reallocate EUR 100 million from the Progress programme for the European microfinance facility. In a context in which the economic and financial crisis is already leading the EU into a social and employment crisis, taking money away from the Progress programme, which targets the most vulnerable groups, would send a very negative signal to the European people. From this point of view, new consultations must be undertaken to find a more suitable solution to guarantee that the European microfinance facility achieves its objectives.
Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. – (PT) As Europe is experiencing a serious financial and economic crisis, which has brought about a serious social crisis with growing unemployment in all Member States, it is important for the EU to create effective mechanisms to combat the crisis and also to help those who are most affected, such as the unemployed.
The European microfinance facility was created for this reason, specifically to confront the challenges in terms of jobs. This facility would be funded with EUR 100 million, under its own heading in the 2010 Budget.
Consequently, the Commission proposal to reallocate money from the Progress programme, which targets vulnerable groups and application of the social agenda in the fight against discrimination, social exclusion, unemployment and gender inequality, appears to give the wrong signal, given the current outlook.
José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. – (PT) The Progress Programme was established to support the objectives of the European Union in employment, social affairs and equal opportunities, as set out in the Social Agenda, as well as to contribute to the achievement of the Lisbon Growth and Jobs Strategy. I agree with the Microfinance Facility for Employment and Social Inclusion, which has already been approved by Parliament. However, it is not possible to agree with the reduction in the financial envelope of the Progress programme. For a start, new programmes should not be funded at the expense of programmes that have already been put into place. It should be noted that, from a budgetary point of view, the qualitative and quantitative assessment of the Progress programme in its third year of implementation has been very positive. The average implementation rate over the last two and a half years goes beyond 80% in commitments and payments. The current situation has led the Committee on Budgets, parting the context of the budget procedure 2010, to declare itself clearly in favour of financing the new financial facility by creating two new related budget lines to this effect. For these reasons, I voted in favour of the motion for a resolution, which means a rejection of the Commission proposal to transfer EUR 100 million from Progress to microfinance.
Ilda Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing. − (PT) We voted against this report because, as in the case of the previous Göncz report on the establishment of a European Microfinance Facility for Employment and Social Inclusion, which was voted upon last December, the majority in Parliament goes back on its word and approves a proposal that takes away money from the Community Progress programme.
We recall that the two reports adopted in the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs, in accordance with a previous resolution of the European Parliament, rejected the funding of this new facility at the cost of another that already existed and was functioning.
By way of an alternative, the creation of a new budget line with its own funds was proposed, which is to say one with ‘new’ money. The amendments tabled by our political group were along the same lines although they were, unfortunately, rejected.
Since social conditions in the various Member States are deteriorating, it is unacceptable for funds to be channelled away from employment and social inclusion towards other priorities that have been defined in the meantime, even if it is to microfinance.
Sylvie Guillaume (S&D), in writing. – (FR) I voted in favour of the report by my colleague Kinga Göncz on the creation of an essential microfinance instrument to promote jobs in enterprises with fewer than 10 employees and social inclusion. As regards funding, the stumbling block in negotiations with the Council, we can be pleased with an envelope of EUR 100 million over four years. In times of economic crisis it is all the more important to support action by all those involved in the social economy, who find it difficult to access the traditional credit market. Let us renew citizens’ confidence in a Europe that can come to their aid in entrepreneurial projects, despite their fragility.
Iosif Matula (PPE), in writing. – (RO) Europe has targeted through the Progress programme the major problems faced by its citizens, helping achieve the employment, social inclusion and equal opportunity objectives. The introduction of a new microfinance facility is a beneficial initiative in the context of the economic and financial crisis we are going through and for addressing the need to put the European economies on the road to recovery.
It is precisely for these reasons that the new programmes should not be financed by reducing the current priorities. The solution approved today partially resolves a large part of the funding issue. Even though this does not provide the best possible solution, I voted for it because it is extremely important for us to have a European microfinance facility. The EUR 100 million, plus a possible further EUR 20 million for the 2011-2013 period, will be a separate credit line. This facility must provide useful assistance to the unemployed and vulnerable people who would like to set up or run micro-enterprises.
I believe that the European microfinance facility should have an even larger budget to make it really effective in achieving its employment and social inclusion objectives.
Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. − (PT) The Progress programme is of great importance for the implementation of the social agenda, providing support to the fight against discrimination, social integration, employment and gender equality. This programme has been an important instrument and has had an implementation rate of around 80% in commitments and payments. However, it does not make sense to allocate funds intended for this programme to combat the new unemployment issues caused by the economic crisis which the EU and the world are currently experiencing. Creating a microfinance facility for employment and social inclusion is a positive step but it must be done with its own funding and without cannibalising funds intended for the Progress programme.
Elisabeth Morin-Chartier (PPE), in writing. – (FR) After several exchanges between the European Parliament and the European Council, the informal trilogue over the past few days has enabled agreement to be reached on funding for the European microfinance facility. I should like in particular to congratulate all sides in these negotiations because the quicker a decision is taken, the quicker citizens will be able to use this European microfinance facility. I supported the vote today on mixed funding for this European microfinance facility, which totals EUR 100 million: EUR 60 million diverted from Progress and EUR 40 million from margins below thresholds. This agreement will, for example, allow European citizens to obtain a loan, via microcredit, to buy glasses for their children who have reading problems at school, if their traditional bank refuses them a loan.
Elisabeth Schroedter (Verts/ALE), in writing. − (DE) In some situations, microfinance can help people establish enterprises and so find a way out of a crisis. Nevertheless, my group and I have today voted against EUR 60 million being diverted into microfinance from the Progress programme. In its regulation, the European Social Fund (ESF) offers the option of paying out microfinance. Its total appropriations for the 2007-2013 period are EUR 76 billion, and one significant share of that amount has been allocated to microfinance. ESF funding also makes it possible for microfinance to be offered in combination with other measures. Instead of these options being made full use of, however, a new microfinance instrument is now being set up, one with a high level of red-tape expenditure and a vanishingly small budget. To make things worse, the plan is that this new instrument will be funded from the smallest EU programme, the European poverty programme Progress (with total appropriations of EUR 743 million). The impression that new funds would be provided for this programme, as suggested by its advocates, is false: in reality, funds are being diverted from support programmes for socially disadvantaged groups.
We Greens will not accept such sleight of hand, because money is being siphoned off from the poorest in order to set up a new loan instrument. What we need is not a headline-grabbing new instrument funded from the poverty programme, but the courage to provide a specific EU budget for this purpose.
Anna Záborská (PPE), in writing. – (FR) The Commission has proposed the creation of a new European microfinance instrument to promote jobs. The instrument is designed to help unemployed people get back on their feet and to make entrepreneurship accessible to some of the most disadvantaged groups in Europe, including young people, within the broader context of the economic recovery plan. All the institutions should pay greater attention to the poorest workers. Does being in work necessarily mean that one is not poor? Do jobs or social benefits provide sufficient protection against the solitude or frailty that lead to indifference? Work does indeed integrate the individual into a community. But that does not suffice in order to become a citizen, as experience has demonstrated. Families living in poverty tell us that work means much more than a source of income. It is easy to put programmes in place for the unemployed, but it is more important to help the poorest people and those who are furthest removed from the labour market. That is why I welcome the important role that the Fourth World European Committee played in facilitating exchanges of views between colleagues and with representatives of organised civil society.
Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D), in writing. − (LT) EU institutions must operate jointly in order to ensure the consistency and integrity of EU policy and to ensure the protection of our citizens’ rights. The debate on the EU-USA Agreement on the Transfer of Financial Messaging Data has been going on for a sufficiently long time and the institutions know well that the European Parliament will not agree with such conditions of the agreement that infringe the privacy of personal data and do not ensure effective data protection. The Council’s step to consent to the agreement with the USA just one day before the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon demonstrated that, for the time being, trust between Community institutions is nothing more than a declaration. The European Parliament, as an institution directly representing citizens, must participate in talks and in taking decisions that directly affect our citizens’ rights and freedoms. The Council itself admits that the basic questions of the agreement on data transfer have not been properly resolved, therefore, I believe that open and detailed talks with all of the countries concerned must commence. An agreement with the USA is necessary, but it must not infringe European legal requirements on personal data protection.
Regina Bastos, Maria Da Graça Carvalho, Carlos Coelho, Mário David and Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. − (PT) We are voting against the interim agreement because its terms are not in line with European laws. It is not acceptable that the police in Portugal can only access the bank details of a person on the basis of a warrant but that millions of pieces of data can be sent to be interpreted and analysed by the US police without any judicial control.
We recognise the need for transatlantic cooperation in the fight against international crime and, particularly, against terrorism.
We would emphasise that this cooperation should be established on the basis of mutual trustworthiness and respect for the principles of reciprocity, proportionality and respect for citizens’ rights.
We condemn the way in which the Council has behaved with respect to the European Parliament, failing to mention information and presenting matters as a fait accompli. It is essential that this is not repeated in the future and that there is rigorous compliance with the Treaty of Lisbon.
Approving a poorly negotiated agreement does not just mean having a bad agreement in place for nine months. It means having an inadequate basis for negotiating the long-term agreement and allowing the transfer of millions of pieces of data, to be stored for many years. We urge the Council and the Commission to negotiate a better agreement that respects the European Parliament resolutions.
Sebastian Valentin Bodu (PPE), in writing. – (RO) The rejection of the SWIFT agreement must send out an important signal to the entire international community and the other European Union bodies that the EU legislative must be consulted from now on about major decisions which now come under the remit provided by the Treaty of Lisbon.
It is evident after today’s vote in Strasbourg that MEPs are not fundamentally opposed to an understanding between the European Union and the United States of America regarding the monitoring of suspicious funds transfers via the SWIFT system. The press on the other side of the Atlantic is quick to talk about the MEPs’ vote as being a vote against the agreement. MEPs have voted to protect the personal data of EU citizens and companies. The battle against terrorism and the rapid detection of suspicious bank transfers remain as much as ever at the top of the EU’s list of priorities.
The European Commission must quickly renegotiate the terms of the SWIFT agreement so that it complies with the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union and can be enforced as quickly as possible. The Romanian government, along with all the other national governments, supported the adoption of the agreement signed with the USA. The European Parliament has fulfilled its duty as an institution directly elected by citizens of the European Union, whom it has undertaken to protect.
Michael Cashman (S&D), in writing. − I voted for the postponement, as I think we have much to gain by continuing to seek a better agreement, undertaking negotiations with the USA on behalf of the 27 Member States of the EU. For the same reasons, I voted in favour of the agreement, imperfect and unsatisfactory as it may be, as I think it offers the opportunity to negotiate until the end of 2010 for a new agreement. Any negotiating failure would mean that we could lose any possibility for a full agreement.
Françoise Castex (S&D), in writing. – (FR) I welcome the outcome of this vote, because the guarantees in the Council’s proposal to protect the privacy of citizens were unsatisfactory. Defence of civil liberties is a fundamental requirement and the fight against terrorism needs to be conducted in a manner that respects them. In voting for Parliament’s motion for a resolution, I wanted to reaffirm that the interim agreement should comply with the criteria of the Treaty of Lisbon, especially the Charter of Fundamental Rights. I also demand that data should only be collected for the purpose of the fight against terrorism and that European citizens should have the same ‘judicial redress mechanisms as would apply to data held within the EU, including compensation in the event of unlawful processing of personal data’. I welcome this vote, in which the European Parliament shows that it is fully assuming the responsibilities granted to it under the Treaty of Lisbon and that it is able to withstand pressure from the Member States and from the United States of America. It is a sign which bears witness to the new political balance which is being put in place within the European Union.
Νικόλαος Χουντής (GUE/NGL), γραπτώς. – Ψήφισα, όπως και η υπόλοιπη ευρωομάδα μου, υπέρ της Έκθεσης ώστε να μην συναινέσει το Ευρωπαϊκό Κοινοβούλιο στην καταπάτηση βασικών νομικά κατοχυρωμένων δικαιωμάτων σχετικά με τον σεβασμό των προσωπικών δεδομένων των Ευρωπαίων πολιτών. Η συμφωνία SWIFT σε καμία περίπτωση δεν βοηθάει στην πρόληψη ενάντια στην τρομοκρατία. Πρόκειται για μια συμφωνία που, σε θολό και μη ελέγξιμο πλαίσιο, θα παρέδιδε προσωπικά δεδομένα των Ευρωπαίων πολιτών στις Αρχές και τις μυστικές Υπηρεσίες των ΗΠΑ και σε όποιους άλλους αυτές επιθυμούν να τα δώσουν. Το δικαίωμα στην ασφάλεια δεν είναι σε καμία περίπτωση αντιπαραθετικό με το δικαίωμα στην ιδιωτικότητα και της προστασίας των προσωπικών δεδομένων. Η καταπολέμηση της Τρομοκρατίας δεν περνάει μέσα από τον Μεγάλο Αδελφό, την παραβίαση ατομικών και κοινωνικών δικαιωμάτων και ελευθεριών αλλά από την προώθηση της αλληλεγγύης, της ισότητας και του σεβασμού του διεθνούς δικαίου σε παγκόσμιο επίπεδο. Ως μέλος του Ευρωπαϊκού Κοινοβουλίου είχα την ευθύνη να διαφυλάξω τα συνταγματικά καθιερωμένα δικαιώματα των πολιτών της Ένωσης, που κάποιοι αφήνουν βορρά στις απαιτήσεις της Αμερικανικής Κυβέρνησης και της CIA στον υποτιθέμενο πόλεμό τους ενάντια στην τρομοκρατία.
Proinsias De Rossa (S&D), in writing. − I wholeheartedly welcome the defeat today of the Council and Commission proposed agreement with the USA on data transfer. The current text of the EU-USA agreement does not protect the rights of EU citizens and enterprises and effectively provides for the transfer en masse of all personal and commercial information held on the SWIFT system to the USA contrary to EU law. The European Parliament has, since 2006, regularly made our concerns plain to both the Council and Commission who negotiated this disgraceful agreement. However they chose to dismiss our concerns believing they could conclude the agreement before the new European Parliament powers under the Lisbon Treaty came into force. Indeed the Council rushed to a signature of the agreement one day before the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty. The Lisbon Treaty gives the EP a binding veto power on such international agreements. Until now no national or EU parliamentary scrutiny has been provided for in this sensitive process. I welcome the decision too by the Irish Parliamentary Joint Committee on European Affairs to look more closely at this proposal. This signals a much more effective monitoring of European legislative proposals which will be to the benefit of citizens.
Robert Dušek (S&D), in writing. – (CS) The Terrorist Finance Tracking Programme (TFTP) should be an effective aid in the fight against global terrorism and it has the particular aim of monitoring the financing of terrorism. The transfer of data concerning European citizens to the USA is certainly controversial and incongruous. We are concerned about the possible misuse of private data for example by organised criminals. Following the review by MEPs, however, the handover and storage of data should be sufficiently protected. In view of the fact that the agreement is concluded provisionally with validity up to 31 October 2010 and it will be possible to withdraw from other agreements if discrepancies are found, I have decided that I will vote in favour of the draft agreement between the EU and the USA on the processing and transfer of data on financial transactions from the EU to the USA.
Edite Estrela (S&D), in writing. − (PT) I voted in favour of the Hennis-Plasschaert report because, despite the importance of an agreement with the United States of America on the prevention of terrorism financing, I feel that this falls under the new legal framework established in the Treaty of Lisbon and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. This is a serious matter that warrants intensive debate in the European Parliament, which should have access to all necessary documentation, with the aim of rapidly concluding a long-term agreement which is more valuable in terms of security but which cannot jeopardise respect for citizens' rights.
Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. − (PT) The SWIFT agreement allows the US Treasury Department to access data regarding financial payments, with the aim of preventing and combating terrorism and its financing. Owing, however, to technical aspects of the SWIFT system, this cannot be limited to the searching of specific data relating to individuals suspected of being involved in criminal activities. Consequently, the system has to transfer, in full, information about all the transactions within a particular country on a particular date. This situation does not jeopardise the protection of European citizens’ and companies’ data as it respects the principles of proportionality and necessity.
As a matter of course, the fight against terrorism involves international legal cooperation and, in many cases, the transfer of personal data, such as bank details.
José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. − (PT) I recognise the need, in the terms of the interim agreement, for transatlantic cooperation in the fight against international crime and, particularly, against terrorism. I would emphasise that this cooperation should be established on the basis of mutual trustworthiness and respect for the principles of reciprocity, proportionality and respect for the rights of citizens. Security, however, should not override but rather be compatible with other rights, freedoms and guarantees. It is not acceptable that the police in Portugal can only access the bank details of a person on the basis of a warrant but that millions of pieces of data can be sent to be interpreted and analysed by the US police without any judicial control. I condemn the way in which the Council has behaved with respect to the European Parliament, failing to mention information and presenting matters as a fait accompli. It is essential that this is not repeated in the future and that there is rigorous compliance with the Treaty of Lisbon. Given the above, I am voting in favour of the resolution which opposes the Agreement.
Ilda Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing. − (PT) We welcome the fact that the majority in Parliament, which includes us, has rejected the so-called SWIFT agreement between the EU and the United States of America.
The existence of these databases and the exchange of or access to this data, whether by the US authorities, EU agencies or the authorities of the Member States, creates a great deal of uncertainty, leading to dangers that cannot be controlled as a result of the effective control over citizens by the authorities. Criminals and the innocent, suspects and those not under suspicion alike will all be caught up in a process that does not provide any assurances, as is being demonstrated, of its effectiveness.
The implementation of this agreement would mean maintaining flawed measures that are being taken as part of the so-called fight against terrorism and the intentional placing of this issue into the media with a view to the suppression of rights. We support the need to fight all forms of criminality, but this must be done above all by focusing on the origin and prevention of these phenomena and not by placing the emphasis on vague security measures that infringe public freedoms and citizens’ fundamental rights and guarantees, further weakening the democracy which we have.
We do not accept any exchange of liberty for more security because, in the end, we will lose both. Rather, we support a more secure society with broad democratic rights and freedoms.
Christofer Fjellner and Alf Svensson (PPE), in writing. – (SV) We voted in favour of the agreement between the EU and the USA on the transfer of data from SWIFT. However, we proposed that Parliament defer the decision in order to further strengthen the protection of privacy. Unfortunately, Parliament did not approve this. The provisional agreement that we voted for is a balancing act between two aims: the effective control of terrorism and the safeguarding of the personal privacy of our citizens. Effective instruments are needed in the fight against terrorism, but we must ensure above all that democratic rights are safeguarded. We feel that this has now been done, but we would have liked to have seen even stronger protection. Since SWIFT has now moved parts of its operations from the USA, there has been a significant strengthening of personal privacy where European standards on personal data protection are applied. Further negotiations between the EU and the USA on a long-term agreement that combines a powerful guarantee of data protection for our citizens with effective opportunities to track economic preparations for terrorist acts are to be concluded in October. Although there is more to do to strengthen protection of the individual, we feel that the improvements compared with the situation before the turn of the year when there was no agreement are sufficiently secure to allow us to vote in favour of the provisional agreement, in order to avoid substantially weakening the fight against terrorism in the nine months ahead. Before a final agreement is reached we will demand a further strengthening of the protection of individuals as a condition of approval.
Robert Goebbels (S&D), in writing. – (FR) I voted to reject the so-called SWIFT agreement between the EU and the United States of America on the transfer of financial messaging data for the purpose of fighting terrorism. The SWIFT agreement, in its current form, is very far from being both the right balance between the need to fight international terrorism and the need to protect fundamental rights. It is unacceptable for millions of items of unfiltered personal data on innocent people to be sent to the US authorities. It is unacceptable that these data can, under US law and contrary to EU law, be stored for up to 90 years. Adequate protection of personal data and privacy, which I already supported during the two votes on the exchange of fiscal data, should also apply to the SWIFT agreement.
Sylvie Guillaume (S&D), in writing. – (FR) I firmly supported this report, so that the European Parliament can express its clear rejection of the SWIFT agreement, which was negotiated on the sly, without taking account of the concerns of the European Parliament, which the Council and the European Commission took care to leave out of the negotiations. It is essential, with regard to both the principle of the protection of privacy and the efficacy of these data transfers in the fight against terrorism, that discussions take place in such a way that a clear agreement is renegotiated. The message from this vote is also to reaffirm the role of the European Parliament as being at the service of the European citizens and, as such, its will to defend their rights and fundamental freedoms in a solid and effective manner, both in the protection of their privacy and in the fight against terrorism.
Monika Hohlmeier (PPE), in writing. − (DE) My decision to vote against the interim SWIFT agreement is not a decision against cooperation with the USA on combating terrorism. I emphatically advocated that a new, compatible agreement that would allow European and US security authorities to work closely together and enable them to detect money transfers with suspected links to terrorism should be created as swiftly as possible. However, there are major flaws in the interim agreement, including inadequate provisions as regards data deletion, rights of complaint and access to information and onward transmission to third parties. Moreover, what I expect from a genuine partnership between the European Union and the USA is one which does not merely leave the responsibility for ensuring security of citizens within the framework of the Terrorist Finance Tracking Programme (TFTP) in US hands, but which also provides a clearly defined time-frame for the development of a European TFTP, in partnership with the USA, within the European Union, as well.
For this reason, I hope that an agreement will be negotiated, in the nearest future, which still provides a long-term basis for jointly combating terrorism worldwide, in terms of detecting terrorist networks and their financial transactions, but which respects citizens’ data privacy, as well.
Cătălin Sorin Ivan (S&D), in writing. – (RO) The rejection of the temporary agreement on the transfer of bank data to the United States via the SWIFT network due to factors relating to the protection of personal data, proportionality and reciprocity must not be regarded as an exercise by Parliament in using the new powers introduced by the Treaty of Lisbon, but as a political message from Europe. By rejecting this agreement and voting in favour of the European Parliament’s recommendation, we have shown that a major political decision cannot be taken when it violates the provisions of the Treaty of Lisbon and, in particular, the Charter of Fundamental Rights. When a new agreement has been signed, this time on a long-term basis, and when it ensures protection for the data of European citizens, the European Parliament will give its positive assent. The fight against terrorism remains one of the major challenges currently facing us. In this situation a new agreement is necessary, but it must be negotiated better to guarantee proper protection for European citizens. This is why, when drafting a new agreement, Parliament must play a key role in a procedure which respects the letter of the Treaty.
Eija-Riitta Korhola (PPE), in writing. − Today I voted against the SWIFT Agreement to share banking data with the USA for counter-terrorism purposes. This agreement did not go far enough in protecting the people of Europe; it needs improved safeguards for data protection. For example with this agreement there is no prior judicial ruling needed to obtain data. Data protection is one of our basic fundamental rights. Respect for human rights is of paramount importance, and defending them is an integral part of my work in Parliament. At the same time I believe we must have measures in place to help in the fight against terrorism working in tandem with the USA; this, however, must not be achieved at the expense of our Charter of Fundamental Rights. This rejection of the Swift Agreement is a momentous occasion in the European Parliament’s history. It sends a clear message: that the European Parliament will use its newly bestowed powers from the Lisbon Treaty in the interests of democracy, by standing up and protecting the rights of its citizens. The Commission must show in any future data-sharing agreement with the USA that the correct balance is struck between fighting terrorism and respecting our citizens’ privacy.
Elisabeth Köstinger (PPE), in writing. − (DE) For me, there is no question that a close and constructive partnership between the European Union and the United States of America is necessary, in particular when it comes to combating terrorism. Nonetheless, I have voted against the interim SWIFT agreement, because it does not clarify fundamental data protection issues. The side-stepping of the European Parliament in the negotiations for the agreement was also unacceptable and highly problematic. Although I believe an international agreement regulating data exchange to be necessary, civil liberties and fundamental rights must still be protected.
Véronique Mathieu (PPE), in writing. – (FR) I voted in favour of the SWIFT agreement, because I think that exchanges of data are useful. Our respective secret services have cited various cases which prove this usefulness. The terrorist threat does exist, that cannot be denied, and the attempted attack in Detroit last month confirms that. We must therefore demonstrate that we are responsible. It is a question of mutual assistance. This agreement must not be interpreted as a unilateral commitment on the part of the EU. The Union will grant access to its information but, in exchange, the US authorities will analyse those data, which we cannot do in Europe at present, as there is no European programme to fight terrorist financing equivalent to the TFTP. This agreement safeguards our security, not just security on US territory. Finally, this is a real international agreement, unlike the previous unilateral commitments. The guarantees will be binding, the application of the agreement will be subject to evaluation and, if the EU considers that these guarantees are not being respected, the agreement contains clear provision for the parties to be able to terminate it.
Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. − (PT) The matter at issue in the vote was the renewal of an agreement which, by means of detecting bank transactions, has been extremely important in the fight against terrorism which, in recent years, has chosen Western societies as its target. If the resolution were approved and the agreement rejected, terrorist organisations could operate free of any effective control, with the serious consequences that would bring. Curiously, many of those from the extreme left who reject the agreement, on the grounds that it violates the confidentiality of personal data, are the same people who, in their countries of origin, argue for the end of bank secrecy and the release of all bank details. For these people, what is at issue is not the transfer of data but the fact that the transfer is made to the USA, a country towards which they are unable to hide their blatant hostility. Consequently, my vote against the resolution and in favour of the agreement took account only of the very specific circumstances of the need to combat terrorism by all means and the recognition of the fundamental role of the USA in this fight.
Willy Meyer (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (ES) I have voted in favour of the Hennis-Plasschaert report to show my rejection of the SWIFT Agreement which was signed by the 27 Member States for the transfer of financial transaction data to the United States of America under the pretext of combating terrorism. I think that the United States’ request is unacceptable and is a threat to the freedoms and rights of European citizens. With this proposal the most conservative forces have tried to hand us over bound hand and foot for US interests without giving a thought to the security or privacy of citizens. The European Parliament cannot allow the civil rights and freedoms of Europeans to be violated for counter-terrorism purposes.
Andreas Mölzer (NI), in writing. − (DE) The EU has allowed the USA to give it the run-around for far too long. It is high time we put an end to the USA’s constant incursion on our civil rights and liberties and data protection in the name of combating terrorism. The transmission of financial payment messaging data to foreign powers constitutes a serious encroachment on the fundamental rights of our citizens, particularly when the recipient of the data is the United States of America. The transfer of millions of items of bank data is absolutely not in Europe’s interest.
Nobody knows what US secret services will do with the data collected and that leaves the door wide open to all kinds of abuse, even economic espionage. Washington using bank data in the fight against terrorism is nothing but a cheap smoke-screen. Apart from anything else, by saying ‘no’ to the SWIFT agreement, the EU could prove its independence from the USA. I can only wholeheartedly support a ‘no’ to the SWIFT agreement from the European Parliament.
Mariya Nedelcheva (PPE), in writing. – (FR) I voted against the SWIFT agreement between the Council of the European Union and the United States of America, because I consider that the guarantees in terms of data protection are inadequate. Without questioning the fact that the fight against terrorism is indispensable, as the threat is more than real today, I am convinced that we cannot guarantee the security of European citizens without, at the same time, guaranteeing full respect for their personal data.
As things stand, the provisions in the SWIFT agreement for cases in which the United States could transmit European data to third countries are too vague. There needs to be clear provision regulating these exchanges of data. As for the possible remedies open to citizens or undertakings which consider that their data may not have been processed correctly, Article 11 of the agreement is far from adequate.
While it guarantees data protection where data are processed in the territory of the European Union, what happens to European data processed in the United States? Negotiations will need to be conducted in a transparent and democratic manner, with the full and complete support of the European Parliament, as provided for under the Treaty of Lisbon for this type of international agreement.
Franz Obermayr (NI), in writing. − (DE) 11 February 2010 is a red-letter day for the European Parliament: Members representing the widest possible array of political persuasions and a wide range of Member States voted in favour of rejecting European citizens’ financial data being transferred to the USA. It is not clear how such a transfer of data could serve the purpose of fighting terrorism, nor does the SWIFT Agreement guarantee European data protection standards. With this decision, Parliament, as a body representing European citizens, has gained greater influence and self-confidence and has not succumbed to pressure from the USA. Its answer constituted a clear ‘no’ to the curtailment of European civil rights under the guise of combating terrorism. It goes without saying that I, too, supported the rejecting report for this reason.
Daciana Octavia Sârbu (S&D), in writing. – (RO) I voted in favour of rejecting the SWIFT agreement with the United States of America because it poses more of a threat to the privacy of European citizens rather than providing an instrument for combating terrorism. The agreement recently signed between the European Union and the USA is an act of defiance to the European Parliament, given that it was signed only a day before the Treaty of Lisbon came into force. Parliament was not consulted in time on this agreement, and now it is too late. I rejected the agreement and we hope that both the United States and the Council will realise how important the European Parliament’s involvement is in the decision-making process at EU level. I strongly believe that a better agreement can be achieved under the Spanish Presidency.
Renate Sommer (PPE), in writing. − (DE) I voted in favour of a postponement of the vote on the SWIFT agreement. A four-week adjournment would have opened the way for further negotiations. With this decision, we have shown the Commission we know better; we could have used the opportunity to address the justified concerns of our citizens and companies concerning the protection of their data in the interim agreement, which is already in force. It is ultimately our responsibility to protect civil liberties and fundamental rights. However, by rejecting the postponement, this House has passed up the opportunity to use its new powers responsibly and to increase its own sway over the negotiations. On the other hand, though, there was no way I could have voted in favour of the SWIFT agreement. The breach of confidence committed by the USA in an incredibly arrogant show of self-serving mentality is too flagrant, and it was matched by the contempt which the Council showed Parliament.
Now, however, what we have to do is negotiate a new, long-term agreement, quickly and self-confidently, with the involvement of the European Parliament, no matter how strong the transatlantic friendship might be. Such an agreement must reflect EU standards, because controlled data exchange in the fight against international terrorism is in the European interest, too.
Bart Staes (Verts/ALE), in writing. – (NL) I voted with conviction in favour of the report, and am pleased that the majority has refused to yield to the strong political pressure and is making its voice heard with regard to justice and security policies. By preventing information on millions of European transfers and banking transactions being passed on to the United States via SWIFT for even longer, Parliament is showing that it takes seriously the fundamental rights laid down in the Treaty of Lisbon.
The EU Presidency and the European Commission must now call off the interim agreement with the United States of America and go back to the negotiating table, equipped with the requirements laid down in the resolution adopted by the European Parliament in September 2009. First, however, an open debate must be held on the substance of the relationship between, on the one hand, security policy and the fight against terrorism and, on the other hand, minimum guarantees of fundamental civil rights and respect for the privacy of hundreds of millions of citizens. I am pleased that the blackmail and political pressure did not work. After all, it is nonsense to claim that respect for civil rights and privacy is an obstacle to the fight against terrorism. We in the Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance are prepared to cooperate on an efficient, strict security policy, but one that respects constitutional rights and also pays attention to the causes of crime and terrorism.
Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. − (PT) The fight against international crime, particularly by means of transatlantic cooperation in the fight against terrorism, is one of the main priorities of the European Union. However, this cooperation should be established on the basis of reciprocity and mutual trustworthiness. The interim agreement between the European Union and United States of America on the processing and transfer of financial messaging data does not guarantee European citizens and companies the same rights and guarantees under US law as they would enjoy in the territory of the EU. The data transfer system does not respect the fundamental principles of European legislation on data protection, particularly the principles of proportionality and necessity. The agreement does not expressly provide that requests be subject to judicial authorisation or be limited in time, nor does it define sufficiently the conditions for sharing data with third countries. I also regret the fact that during the negotiations the Council shared practically no information with Parliament and that the vote on the agreement took place after it had already entered into force. For these reasons, and because the rights and guarantees of European citizens deserve to be respected, I am voting in favour of the motion for a resolution that rejects the conclusion of the SWIFT agreement.
Róża, Gräfin von Thun Und Hohenstein (PPE), in writing. – (PL) According to many fellow Members, the Council has made a mistake in ignoring the European Parliament during the current negotiations on the agreement with the USA. The speech made by the Chair of my group, Joseph Daul, did not help. After an in-depth debate, he asked fellow Members to postpone the vote. Mrs Malmström insisted on allowing more time for the new Commission to find out about the subject and for further negotiations, and for Parliament to discuss the matter more thoroughly. I do understand the huge importance of protecting personal data, but we must also remember that the United States of America is our biggest partner. We must build on mutual trust, and the fight against terrorism and the security of our citizens is our common responsibility. I voted, in accordance with my group’s line, for a postponement. Unfortunately, we lost by 15 votes. As far as I know, 35 Members of my group were not present during the vote. This is yet another proof that every vote is important. Next, in accordance with my group’s line, I voted in favour of the agreement. Parliament finally rejected the agreement by 378 votes to 196, with 31 abstentions. I am not pleased with this result, but doubtless we will soon come back to this so very important matter.
Ioannis A. Tsoukalas (PPE), in writing. − Although it is clear that the proposed rules aim at facilitating the fight against cybercrime as well as cyberterrosrism, the explicit reference to Article 8 of the ‘European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms’ (ECHR), taking also into account the Decision C317/04 of the European Court of Justice, makes illegal any positive vote on this subject, because every European citizen is obliged to obey the general rules governing the European Union as well as the ECJ rulings.
Thomas Ulmer (PPE), in writing. − (DE) I voted for the rejection of the SWIFT agreement. This event has been a milestone in the further democratisation of Europe and in Parliament’s exercise of its democratic rights under the Treaty of Lisbon concerning data protection and the individual rights of our citizens. I would like to see many more magic moments like this.
Proinsias De Rossa (S&D), in writing. − I support this motion for resolution which calls for the urgent adoption of a directive implementing the framework agreement on prevention of sharp injuries in the hospital and healthcare sector, concluded by the European social partners in the healthcare sector. Every year, more than one million needle-stick injuries are recorded in the European Union, which may lead to the transmission of life-threatening viruses. The recent agreement's clause on minimum standards does not preclude future national and Community provisions that are more favourable to workers. My Political Group in the European Parliament has been insisting upon stricter European safety standards in the health sector for years and, further to the framework agreement, a directive must be adopted and implemented as a matter of urgency.
Edite Estrela (S&D), in writing. − (PT) I voted in favour of this motion for a resolution because it is necessary to strengthen legislation in the area of the protection of healthcare workers. Unfortunately, there are more than one million needle-stick injuries in the European Union every year, leading to the transmission of viruses such as Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C or HIV/AIDS. There is therefore an urgent need to adopt and implement in the Member States the framework agreement on prevention from sharp injuries in the hospital and healthcare sector.
Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. − (PT) A framework agreement has been concluded between HOSPEEM (European Hospital and Healthcare Employers’ Association) and EPSU (European Federation of Public Service Unions) on prevention from sharp injuries in the hospital and healthcare sector.
This agreement aims to create standards and rules to protect healthcare professionals from sharp injuries, which can lead to the transmission of more than 20 fatal viruses and thus create an extremely serious public health problem.
Bearing in mind the importance of this framework agreement for the protection of the health of professionals in the healthcare sector, the Commission must keep its implementation in view and urgently adopt the directive that implements it.
Ilda Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing. − (PT) Needle-stick injuries and other injuries caused by sharp medical instruments represent one of the most common and serious risks for health workers throughout Europe; considering that hospital staff and health professionals often risk infections caused by injuries as a result of the use of needles or other sharp instruments, as referred to in the adopted resolution. It is therefore necessary to guarantee the highest possible level of safety in the working environment in hospitals and wherever healthcare activities are undertaken.
For these reasons, we approved the resolution which refers to the framework agreement, which in turn contains a clause on minimum safety standards without prejudice to existing and future Community and national provisions that are more favourable to workers. The Member States and/or their social partners should be free and encouraged to adopt additional measures which are more favourable to workers in the area concerned.
David Martin (S&D), in writing. − I strongly support the framework agreement which has been reached between the Commission and European social partners representing the healthcare sector. Protecting healthcare workers from injury and the potential transmission of viruses is of vital importance, and I am pleased that this proposal passed with so much support, particularly after such hard work from Stephen Hughes.
Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. − (PT) The health of workers in the workplace is, as well as a labour matter, a subject which demands social responsibility, which in turn means that it involves all the entities which are responsible in this area, including the European Parliament. The framework agreement concluded today between European social partners within the hospital and healthcare system is an important contribution to the protection of the health and safety of workers in hospital sectors.
Elisabeth Morin-Chartier (PPE), in writing. – (FR) I voted in favour of this motion for a resolution in order to protect staff working in clinics and hospitals. In fact, too many hospital staff members and health workers are still falling victim to infection caused by injury due to the use of syringes and sharp instruments. As an MEP, I need to fight to prevent that. This motion for a resolution also calls for training and working conditions of health workers who face this danger to be improved: safer medical instruments with integrated protective devices are needed throughout the European Union. With my social beliefs and my knowledge of the hospital environment, I call for the fast adoption and urgent application of the measures defined in the proposal for a directive.
Evelyn Regner (S&D), in writing. − (DE) I have voted in favour of the motion for a European Parliament resolution, because I am an advocate of social partnership agreements. Established European social partners have reached an agreement on the present case and I call for this framework agreement to be immediately incorporated into applicable European law, by the Council enacting a directive without any further delay.
Derek Vaughan (S&D), in writing. − This was an important vote calling for a European directive to improve protection for workers suffering from ‘needle-stick’ injuries. Action needs to be taken as soon as possible to protect those working in the healthcare sector from contracting potentially fatal diseases such as HIV/AIDS and hepatitis through injuries from used needles. Needle-stick injuries represent one of the most common and serious risks for health workers throughout Europe, with an estimated one million injuries of this type across Europe each year. I hope swift action will be taken to improve training and safety for those working with needles and sharp instruments so that the number of injures caused are drastically cut and the emotional distress caused to those involved limited. In addition, I hope the use of safer medical instruments will help prevent avoidable injuries for those working with needles on a daily basis.