Draft general budget of the European Union - 2012 financial year
Ashley Fox (ECR). - Mr President, today’s vote on the budget represents another lost opportunity for this Parliament to show it is in tune with the electorate. All over Europe Member States are making painful but necessary cuts to their budgets; they are aiming to end waste and make their finances sustainable. The Council position went some way to reflect this reality but as usual this Parliament disregarded our taxpayers.
I fear that Members in this Chamber are not yet fully aware of the serious and precarious position that Europe finds itself in. More Europe is not the cure. We should lower the burden on taxations and, where Europe does spend money, it should do so to increase competitiveness. I fear that we have failed our citizens again.
Guido Milana (S&D). – (IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, the budget sets out a few clear and important objectives within the scope of the Europe 2020 strategy; for this I should like to thank the rapporteurs, Ms Balzani and Mr Fernandes. It is essential to focus on investments and not merely on the careful management of the budget. The only alternative is to look on passively at the speculative way of thinking that dominates at present.
We can no longer allow ourselves to follow individual interests and instead must finally act as a single, united structure, ready to face up to confrontation. I welcome the commitments adopted on the pilot projects and the preparatory actions in Heading 2, just as I welcome the fact that funding for the Integrated Maritime Policy is not to the detriment of other initiatives and programmes in the fisheries sector.
This will allow us to implement policies for better marine resource management, through research and thoroughgoing exchange of data on fish stocks, bringing in new planning methods in the Adriatic area that can be used as best practices in other marine areas.
I will conclude with a quick aside: with regard to future debates on the common fisheries policy (CFP) and in particular on the European Fisheries Fund (EFF), I hope that a greater effort will be made on fisheries control, which is at the heart of the fight against illegal fishing and is also a key issue in restoring stocks. Fish should be seen as a shared asset.
Sergio Paolo Francesco Silvestris (PPE). – (IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, since I did not see what we were supposed to be discussing, I just wanted to ask to find out, as it did not show up on the boards or on our displays. I see that the information has just appeared so the problem is solved. Please accept my apologies, thank you.
Salvatore Iacolino (PPE). – (IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, this text on the budget certainly brings together some highly significant issues, including without doubt the central role of the Mediterranean. Further resources for neighbourhood relations with the areas that border southern Europe can serve to assist and promote this push for freedom, which is still being fully expressed, including through free elections, like those that took place in Tunisia last Sunday.
All this must be done through priorities that provide a further chance for development and competiveness for the benefit of many young migrants in those very areas, better border protection, more resources for Frontex, and a more decisive European strategy to combat organised crime. Just yesterday, the first report on mafias and organised crime was adopted. By seizing this additional opportunity, Parliament is sending out an important message that it will rightly and vigorously combat these very serious problems.
Peter Jahr (PPE). – (DE) Mr President, my office probably forgot to put me on the list. I wanted to make a one minute statement. I voted in favour of the 2012 budget for three reasons. Firstly, I consider it to be appropriate and proportionate given the difficult economic situation throughout the European Union. Secondly, we have made savings, particularly in our own budget in this House. Thirdly, I expressly support the proposal by my group, which wants the House of European History, but of course also wants an overall financing plan, a project, to be submitted in order to then decide what form this House of European History is to take. Many thanks to the rapporteur.
Report: Francesca Balzani, José Manuel Fernandes (A7-0354/2011)
George Lyon (ALDE). - Mr President, today I voted against the budget for 2012. Member States around Europe are having to cut their budgets and reduce their deficit. Our voters are having to accept real austerity measures, as my colleague Ashley Fox pointed out.
Today, Parliament could have shown more willingness to share the burden with our citizens by cutting further. We could have first looked at our own budget and administration, and we should have considered supporting a freeze on MEPs’ allowances, including our daily allowance. I am pleased that Parliament voted to look at travel costs and cuts and reductions in business flights. These are examples of things that do not impact on the quality of MEPs’ work. We could have shown some leadership and solidarity with our citizens.
Parliament should have supported the Council cuts as well those proposed under certain areas of the cohesion policy, given that there are major underspends in these budget headings. I had hoped that my colleagues could today have sent a clearer and stronger signal to EU citizens telling them that we are in the same boat and committed to shouldering the burden of the crisis with them. It was a missed opportunity.
Paul Murphy (GUE/NGL). - Mr President, I am against the report on the EU budget because it does not deal with the urgent tasks that are posed by the economic crisis, the consequences of which are devastating for working class people and young people across Europe.
Once more we have a budget for a big-business and militarised Europe, with more money being spent on security than on education, and, incredibly, a proposal to increase the amount of funding for the nuclear research programme, despite the increased opposition to nuclear power across Europe.
The proposed cuts to translation and interpretation services represent an attack on the rights of speakers of minority languages and the principles of multilingualism. The right of the public to access documents in their own language must be defended.
At the same time there are no cuts to the obscenely large expenses which are granted to MEPs. I signed an amendment proposing to cut the general expenditure allowance, which is EUR 4 299 per month. As MEPs know – but perhaps many members of the public do not – that is only one of a whole series of large expenses that go on top of an already very fat salary. The same overpaid MEPs that are calling on underpaid working-class people to tighten their belts further, to accept more vicious austerity, show no indication of being willing to tighten their own belts.
Alfredo Antoniozzi (PPE). – (IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, Parliament’s motion is a bold step in the right direction. Despite the austerity required by the Member States and by the domestic budget deficits, the European Union is duty bound to do everything it can to ensure growth and employment in Europe.
I completely agree with Ms Balzani and Mr Fernandes and therefore voted in favour of the resolution. The crisis must not be tackled solely through austerity measures, but also through investment in research and in the cohesion policy. Administrative costs must be kept in check and Parliament has sent out a clear and firm message on this. I hope, however, that good sense will prevail in the next meeting of the Conciliation Committee. The Council must open its eyes and realise that cutting competitiveness and cohesion will only sink our economy even deeper into the mire.
Miroslav Mikolášik (PPE). – (SK) Mr President, the 2012 EU budget amounting to EUR 147.766 billion in commitment appropriations and EUR 133.143 billion in payment appropriations is sensibly balanced and takes account of the need to achieve the agreed EU objectives set out, among other places, in the Europe 2020 strategy. This will support an intelligent, sustainable and inclusive economy, contributing to job creation. I firmly believe that Europe now needs an investment budget, particularly for economic recovery and the development of individual Member State regions and towns, emphasising that not even 5.6% is earmarked for the actual running of EU institutions, and I am pleased that the contribution for the general expenditure of the European Parliament is frozen at the 2011 level, and that the budget update of Parliament for 2012 is just 1.44 times that of 2011, which is the lowest update for the past 12 years. I therefore support the proposal to take exact account of actual needs, in order to achieve the agreed objectives and political commitments of the Union, and to ensure the smooth running of the priority programmes, which clearly includes cohesion policy.
Sergio Paolo Francesco Silvestris (PPE). - (IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, I too should like to join in the chorus of thanks for the work carried out by Ms Balzani and Mr Fernandes, not just as a formality but because I really mean it. This was a complex task, but I think we can all be pleased with the outcome.
The motion we adopted today, with a definite vote in favour on our part, is without doubt effective and well suited to the pursuit of two things: rigour and development. We also need to see rigour from Parliament and on the costs of running the institutions. Development should be achieved through actions that go beyond our intimations and aim to improve employment levels and above all to solicit investments that will contribute to growth, stimulating private investors to take action.
That is the new challenge that Europe is setting out through this budget. I think it is a challenge that is well suited to the times we live in and in line with the needs of European citizens today.
Hannu Takkula (ALDE). - (FI) Mr President, it is clear, in such economically tough times as those we are living through at present in the European Union, and in which, in many Member States, there are budget deficits and deficit spending, that we also need a strict and accountable economic policy here. In that respect, it is good that there is to be some pruning in this budget, and that is the way we must proceed. It will boost confidence. We have to take account of the existing situation and establish our own responsible approach. It is also important to remember that a responsible policy also entails the search for new growth areas.
Now is the time to invest in sources of growth, which include innovation, research, product development and education and training. It is worth noting that, in this budget, more resources are being put into these areas than before, because we need new innovations and new activity in that area, so that we can get through the economic recession.
Finally, I have two small observations to make. In my opinion, cutting interpreting services is extremely worrying as far as the small languages are concerned. However, personally, I have to say that on Amendment 21 in paragraph 29 of the third section of the report by Ms Balzani and Mr Fernandes, I unfortunately followed my group’s line and voted yes, although I should have voted no. I therefore want to put this right. I am against the proposal put forward by the Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance.
Ashley Fox (ECR). - Mr President, whilst I can agree with our rapporteur and those parts of his report that say we should fight tax evasion, I must fundamentally disagree with his whole approach to the common system of taxation. This report was meant to be a simple recast of the original directive but, as ever, in the spirit of ever-closer political union that so many in this Chamber seem to want, the left of this Parliament have seen fit to add all sorts of substantive amendments which actually mean that this legislation goes much further than originally intended.
These amendments pave the way for a common consolidated corporate tax rate in the European Union, and in my view this is completely unacceptable. Member States must retain tax sovereignty when defining their corporate tax rate, because tax competitiveness is vital for the growth of our single market. That is why I voted against this report and why I will continue to vote against any report that puts tax sovereignty at risk.
Sergio Paolo Francesco Silvestris (PPE). – (IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, the current pressure to comply with the European Stability and Growth Pact, by cutting Member States’ budgets in order to stay within the permitted sovereign debt and government deficit percentages, means that the recast we are debating in Parliament today takes on particular significance.
The debate over this issue has often seen heated discussions, including in the Council. Since this is a proposal for a recast, no major changes are being made to the current directive except for the amendments to Article 4. Despite being made in what is probably the irrelevant context of a recast proposal, these amendments pose a major query with regard to the ongoing discussion on strengthening the internal market and consolidating public finances.
We also voted in favour of this measure, Mr President, because the amendments proposed by Mr Giegold risked putting the founding principles of the directive itself under debate, through a de facto reintroduction of a dividend tax while also tackling the issue of the need for greater coordination – if not harmonisation – on corporate tax, to avoid the benefits of the internal market turning out to be used for fiscal planning, with negative consequences for public finances.
Peter Jahr (PPE). – (DE) Mr President, I was very pleased to vote in favour of this report by Ms Gräßle for two reasons. Firstly, this report states that, in principle, we want to pay out the funds for approved eligible projects within one month. That will make things considerably easier, particularly for small authorities. They will be pleased about that.
Secondly, I am also very pleased that with this report we have now managed to ensure – and I hope that we can also implement this – that in future, too, the Commission will report the details of the personnel costs of individual support programmes, as that will reveal the proportion of the support programmes that goes on administration. Only once we have the data and can analyse the figures can we actually make the appropriate improvements.
Once again, my sincere thanks to the rapporteurs, although I have heard today that we will be debating this report further in the European Parliament.
Sergio Paolo Francesco Silvestris (PPE). – (IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, I should like to thank the rapporteurs, especially Mr Rivellini, for their work on this plan to recast the Financial Regulation of the European Union in light of the Treaty of Lisbon. We voted in favour, and it is not by chance that the measure was passed with an ample majority.
Among the reasons for this broad support, I feel I must underline the core points of this measure, which look at investment quality, at the ability to stimulate competitiveness and above all at bringing in and bolstering common policies that will contribute to ensuring a leading role for Europe.
This new regulation gives Europe a greater role in the existing development projects in our territory, partly by simplifying rules and regulations, which is something we have been begged for, particularly by local agencies which often have a great deal of trouble accessing the opportunities made available by the European Union.
Carlo Fidanza (PPE). – (IT) Mr President, this historic period and the economic problems that Europe is currently negotiating require greater planning to support employment, in line with the Europe 2020 objectives. We must remember that among the shocking statistics being reported by the Member State economies – including unemployment rates nearing 10% and double that in youth unemployment – the tourism sector is one of the few to have withstood the global crisis.
For this reason, as we also reiterated in our own-initiative report, we need to work with the social partners and the tourism industry to develop a proper outline of tourism sector skills, which will help us to work out new workers’ skills and prospects for targeted professional training.
We must focus on training and professional qualifications through major investment in new professional roles that are more inclined towards enterprise and management, so as to attract the new flows of tourists from emerging nations. To this end, we should integrate national measures with European Social Fund resources for professional training.
On top of all this, there needs to be an even greater effort to ensure employment quality in a sector that survives on seasonal work and, unfortunately, on too much undeclared work as well. I voted in favour of the report partly for these reasons.
Guido Milana (S&D). – (IT) Mr President, I too welcome the vote on this report, even though a few points might well have been developed a little further.
Reflecting on all the regionalisation and localisation of employment contracts cannot, however, fail to take heed of the important task of unifying workers’ rights. In other words, the greater the opportunity to develop territorial, business and sectoral autonomy to stimulate productivity and create the conditions for competitiveness, the greater the need to create the conditions for some fundamental rights to be applied on a supranational, or European, basis.
That is why I am still puzzled as to whether this initiative could lead us to tackle the important issue of whether there can be a European policy on fundamental rights. Otherwise the alternative is that we will enter what I think will be a bad period in which there will be rich and poor workers, even though they are doing the same job.
Francesco De Angelis (S&D). – (IT) Mr President, the economic crisis that has affected labour markets since 2008 has caused the loss of 5.6 million jobs. That is why we need to reinforce human capital by updating skills and linking education and training more closely with work, just as we need to focus on small and medium-sized enterprises and on young people joining the world of work. There is, however, one point that baffles me, on which my group tabled two amendments that were rejected by this House. For this reason, my concerns remain and I did not support the report.
This point in question relates to the way the single contract was presented by the Commission. The contract does not offer adequate legal guarantees or rights on working conditions, social security and the protection of workers under all types of contract. I maintain that the issue of the right to work and the right to social security is a very important point.
Gianluca Susta (S&D). – (IT) Mr President, as well as seeking to remedy its mistakes, Europe must also start investing in its future again. We have set ourselves an ambitious target: 75% employment for the 20-64 age group by 2020. However, just as it is inconceivable that only public expenditure will drive new investment for growth, there will be no new jobs if we do not stimulate private investment in innovative sectors and youth hiring; if more training - better training - is not carried out; if budget, fiscal, pensions and welfare policies are not harmonised across the EU; and if the labour market is not made to be more flexible, making contract negotiations more in tune with and proximate to the needs of businesses, particularly small and medium-sized enterprises, while also respecting fundamental rights.
My vote in favour of the report by Ms Bastos is an act of faith in the EU institutions and in their ability – albeit late in the day – to pull the leading world economy out of the crisis without distorting the European social model. At the same time, however, the institutions must succeed in releasing the hidden energy reserves in Europe’s economy, which are hindered from reaching their potential and contributing to the much-needed growth of the European economy and the resolution of the sovereign debt crisis by bureaucratic inflexibility, the labour market and dumping within Europe.
Elena Băsescu (PPE). – (RO) Mr President, I voted for the report drafted by Ms Bastos because it deals with a topic which is crucial to the implementation of the Europe 2020 strategy.
I think that the adoption of this text is especially timely as we also voted on the Ungureanu report yesterday. Workers’ mobility is an important factor for the single market and for the success of the Agenda for new skills and jobs. At the same time, it is the best solution for ensuring that positions requiring high qualifications are occupied. For example, more than 8 000 doctors have left Romania alone in the last four years, which has an adverse effect on us, but meets the needs in other European Member States.
I welcome the emphasis placed on simplifying the procedures for recognising professional qualifications. I should stress the need to reduce administrative, bureaucratic and tax-related burdens imposed on SMEs. Excessive taxation affects their ability to operate, generate new jobs and contribute to the economic recovery.
Robert Dušek (S&D) . - (CS) Mr President, the main consequence of the economic, financial and social crisis is the fall in job numbers. Europe has lost 5.6 million jobs since 2008. The fact that a significant proportion of the unemployed are young people under the age of 30 is very alarming. If a young person does not start work after completing an apprenticeship or university, his knowledge and skills disappear and he starts to be gradually excluded from society. This situation makes it impossible to start a family properly and encourage his children to work, and to take on financial responsibility for his parents or grandparents later on. I would like to emphasise that it is essential to review the system of secondary education. In many EU countries, education produces hundreds of thousands of universally educated secondary school pupils for whom there is no work, while demand continues for traditional crafts and the European market faces a long-term shortage of craftsmen. The submitted report includes largely appropriate measures aimed at increasing employment in Europe, and I have therefore voted in favour of its adoption.
Licia Ronzulli (PPE). – (IT) Mr President, as underlined in the excellent report by Ms Bastos, Europe needs to take some incisive decisions to modernise the labour market, improving above all its flexibility and security. We must ensure dignified working conditions for all, improve current legislation and provide workers and businesses with the right incentives to adapt to the new requirements of the market.
Yet in order to adopt effective policies, the ability to forecast and anticipate future needs must be improved. Today more than ever, high-quality education and training are essential requirements for providing the new skills that the market demands. If we want to get back on our feet after this serious economic crisis, become more competitive and achieve higher levels of growth and employment, we must make better use of all our potential and focus on young people. They are our future and we cannot allow ourselves to neglect or hold back their professional advancement.
Peter Jahr (PPE). – (DE) Mr President, I, too, have voted in favour of this agenda. It is part of the Europe 2020 strategy, the aim of which is to achieve an employment level of 75% for everyone between the ages of 20 and 64 by 2020. In August 2011, the level of unemployment in the EU 27 was 9.5%, with the level of youth unemployment being 20.4% and in some Member States even 40%. That is simply too high. Unemployment means not only missed opportunities, but also wasted intellectual skills and resources for our society. In view of the fact that 85% of jobs in the European Union are provided by small and medium-sized enterprises, I expressly support the Commission’s proposal to promote entrepreneurship and innovation and to promote the setting up of new businesses and development in order in this way to be able to shape the economy in a more dynamic and innovative way.
Iva Zanicchi (PPE). – (IT) Mr President, the economic, financial and social crisis we are going through has pointed up the weaknesses of the European economic and social model. I think that one of the alarming statistics that is most representative of the current situation is that 6 million jobs have been lost in the last three years; a number that is destined to grow as this situation continues if we are unable to react quickly and effectively.
The text by Ms Bastos emphasises that to make genuine progress we need to link education and training more closely with the labour market, together with policies designed to ensure a better supply-demand fit on the labour market. I voted in favour for these reasons, Mr President.
Sergio Paolo Francesco Silvestris (PPE). – (IT) Mr President, across Europe the rate of unemployment has remained static at extremely high percentages. This demonstrates that Europe as a whole has not yet escaped the crisis that has tormented it since 2008. In October, unemployment in the euro area reached 9.7%. Meanwhile in Italy, according to the Italian statistics bureau ISTAT, the unemployment rate remained at 8.7%, as youth unemployment – our future – increased, rising as high as 27.6%, an increase of 2.4% since November 2009, and peaking at 40% in some regions, like southern Italy.
The final shocking statistic is that the minimal employment growth we are seeing is only among men. Once again, women lag far behind. The policies that each Member State is trying to put in place to overcome this prolonged period of crisis result in a slowdown in the labour market. This alarming situation requires strong answers, which the agenda presented to us by the Commission does offer, with effective solutions that can be rapidly put into action. That is why I voted in favour.
Radvilė Morkūnaitė-Mikulėnienė (PPE). - (LT) Mr President, unemployment in the European Union is a severe problem and one which is causing much concern. Several good measures have been put forward in this report for reducing unemployment, above all unemployment among young people. Nevertheless, I would like to draw attention to the fact that, during the current parliamentary term, we have on more than one occasion considered various strategies and proposals for reducing unemployment, such as creating ‘green’ jobs, promoting youth employment and tackling employment issues faced by individual social groups. If all the proposals mentioned were implemented, instead of being put on the back burner, I believe that by 2015 the European Union would achieve the goals set in 2010. While congratulating the rapporteur on the proposals made, I would therefore also draw attention to the fact that we above all need better coordination of the implementation of measures that have already been approved which would both help to reduce unemployment and save funds for other priorities.
Written explanations of vote
Draft general budget of the European Union - 2012 financial year
Ole Christensen, Dan Jørgensen, Christel Schaldemose and Britta Thomsen (S&D), in writing. − (DA) We, the four Danish Social Democrats in the European Parliament, voted in favour of the subsidiary proposal (Amendment 26) from our own political group, which calls on the European Parliament’s Bureau to investigate the possibilities of making general savings, including in respect of Parliament’s expenditure in connection with travel. The Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament has tabled several proposals concerning possible savings, this proposal being one of them. We believe that there is a need for clear common rules, which should apply to all MEPs as well as staff. Until such a time as new rules are adopted, we four MEPs will travel in accordance with the rules currently in force.
Philippe de Villiers (EFD), in writing. – (FR) The European Parliament is voting on the Union’s annual budget for 2012 and, like every year, is siding with the European Commission against the Member States, which have the common sense to want to limit expenditure.
While the issue of own resources (a European tax) has been temporarily put on the back burner in this period of economic and budgetary crisis, the EU is still asking Europeans for EUR 147 billion, a large proportion of which is simply wasted on unnecessary projects and handouts.
Thus, EUR 500 million are going to the External Action Service, and almost EUR 5 billion to the more than 30 000 civil servants of the European Commission alone, hundreds of millions of euros of pre-accession assistance are being given to various countries and a similar amount is being spent on institutional communication, for which read ‘propaganda’.
We firmly reject this disproportionate budget and call on France, a large net contributor, to defend French interests effectively.
Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D), in writing. - (SK) Support for investment and economic growth will be a guiding motto for the activities of the EU in 2012 as well. In supporting investment and actions aimed at boosting growth and employment in 2012, the EU will rely on the principles set out in the new framework created for economic recovery and stronger economic governance. Besides this, it will also be necessary to respond to the major challenges facing both the Union itself and the Member States. The EU budget will play a key role, as it will have a stimulating effect on Member State strategies aimed at economic recovery, and this will ultimately have an effect on the final beneficiaries. I firmly believe that the key aim should still be to support the European economy and Member State citizens, while the stimulating impact of the EU budget should be used to boost growth and create job opportunities.
The draft budget for 2012 is clearly aimed at achieving the aim of intelligent, sustainable and inclusive growth, setting out, among other things, priorities such as investment for supporting growth in a period of fiscal consolidation, strengthening the budgetary aspect of the Europe 2020 strategy and strengthening the priority areas of the Treaty of Lisbon.
Catherine Grèze (Verts/ALE), in writing. – (FR) In spite of the progress that has been made in this draft budget and its support for numerous green pilot projects, I voted against block one of the European Union general budget for the financial year 2012. It covers the administrative costs of the ITER nuclear project and EUR 200 000 for a ‘Shale gas’ pilot project that I do not wish to support.
The proposal to remove subsidies to the tobacco sector, for obvious health reasons, is a worthy one. However, given the absence of a satisfactory redeployment plan for small producers in this sector, I abstained on Amendment 498 of the draft budget.
I abstained on Amendment 1 242/2 of the draft budget that provides for an increase in the budget for the European Parliament’s security services. I find Parliament’s security system perfectly satisfactory. Public money could be invested in other areas.
David Martin (S&D), in writing. − I voted for a budget that delivers jobs and growth, and against wasteful and excessive expenditure.
Marit Paulsen, Olle Schmidt and Cecilia Wikström (ALDE), in writing. − (SV) We chose to abstain in the final vote on the 2012 budget. We would have preferred Parliament to agree on a smaller final amount as per the proposal tabled by the Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe.
We would emphasise the importance of ensuring quality in the budget and not simply looking at the figures. The funds should be used in a positive way – to create added value for Europe and, in particular, establish common solutions to the major challenges we are facing. We are pleased that the budget is slowly being reformed from a contribution mechanism to smart investments, and we intend to continue to drive this process in the right direction. We therefore chose not to vote against the major sections of the draft budget, as this would have been a mark against the positive investments in research and innovation that these contain.
However, at the same time it is important to create a focused and realistic budget at a time when Europe is dealing with a debt crisis that is having enormous social and economic consequences. At a time when Europe is making savings, we in the European Parliament should not strive to attain an expanded budget. That is why we abstained in the final vote. We hope that the conciliation procedure with the Council will result in a good compromise that retains the European added value, but with a total expenditure ceiling that is somewhat lower.
Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. − Given the ever increasing competences of the EU, it is only natural that its budget should reflect this. If the EU is serious about achieving the goals it has set itself under the Europe 2020 strategy, notably for sustainable development, as well as meeting the new demands that will be posed by the accession of Croatia, it requires a budget to ensure this is possible. The Council's position of limiting the increase to the inflation rate would clearly fail to ensure this.
The budget proposals adopted by the EP today strike a good balance to this end for the most part, including greater support for green technologies and for greening the CAP, but the Greens abstained in today’s vote because the proposals set out the wrong direction in a number of key areas. The disproportionate amount of funding that continues to be allocated to nuclear power, in spite of the clear need to finally shift away from nuclear in the aftermath of Fukushima, is wrongheaded. The Greens are also opposed to funding cuts in development aid.
Keith Taylor (Verts/ALE), in writing. − I did not support the vote to approve the EU Budget 2012 resolution in the EP this week. Within the budget there were measures I supported, such as increased funding for the EU 2020 work, the greening of the CAP, and for Palestine, as well as reducing business flights and freezing MEPs’ daily allowances. However, the overall budget net increase of 5.3% over 2011 levels, at a time when States all over the EU are imposing austerity measures, is something I cannot condone. I voted in June 2011 to limit increases in Member State contributions in line with inflation, and suggested specific budget lines should be revised, and unspent money reallocated. I remain of this view.
Silvia-Adriana Ţicău (S&D), in writing. – (RO) I voted for a 2012 budget which promotes a sustainable European economy and implements the Europe 2020 strategy. I voted for block 1 of amendments, aimed at funding the Competition and Innovation Framework Programme, the completion of the eTen network, the SESAR Joint Undertaking and energy projects devoted to the EU’s economic recovery, to name but a few. I voted therefore to allocate additional funds for developing smart energy networks, for better integration of the EU energy market and for promoting energy efficiency and energy from renewable sources. I requested the Commission, through the amendments I tabled, to continue the Erasmus programme for young entrepreneurs, with the allocation of a suitable level of funding in 2012 and provision of broadband access to all European citizens by 2013. I voted for block 2 of amendments which also includes the preparatory action that I proposed for defining the governance model for the Danube region and the Erasmus preparatory action for local and regional elected representatives. I voted for block 3 of amendments which ensures the funding of the rural development programmes, the programmes for supporting winegrowers and includes Amendments 73 and 91, which envisage the allocation of additional sums for schemes for providing fruit and milk in schools.
Report: Francesca Balzani, José Manuel Fernandes (A7-0354/2011)
Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. − (PT) I am voting for this position, and I welcome the increase in commitment appropriations for the ‘Youth on the Move’ and ‘European Platform against Poverty and Social Exclusion’ flagship initiatives. I would point out that the crisis is far from over yet, and I oppose the real reduction of the ‘Employment and Social Affairs’ chapter and the ‘New Skills for New Jobs’ flagship initiative. I also agree with the rapporteur that there is a need for more efficient management of the European Social Fund (ESF). It is extremely important that the Member States use the resources available in the ESF to support projects targeting young people and their access to the labour market and education, as part of the response to the alarming level of youth unemployment and the incidents of social unrest in many countries.
Sophie Auconie (PPE), in writing. – (FR) Since the Treaty of Lisbon came into force in December 2009, the European Parliament has enjoyed increased powers. Parliament and the Council of the European Union now fully share budgetary powers. With the European Union’s 2012 budget, we have concentrated on the need to help Europe weather the current crisis. Thus my fellow Members and I have decided to raise the share of the budget allocated to implementing the Europe 2020 strategy, for sustainable, intelligent and inclusive growth. Parliament is also learning lessons from past crises, such as the E-coli crisis. We also voted for exceptional financial assistance of EUR 250 million for farmers affected by this crisis in the summer. We also spoke in favour of maintaining the European Food Aid Scheme at its 2011 level. It is currently blocked in the Council of Ministers. In the face of all these challenges and at a time of budgetary austerity, we have also shown ourselves to be responsible: we are allocating 93% of the draft budget to future spending and investment, and only 7% to running costs. It is now up to the Council to give its view on this matter.
Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D), in writing. − (LT) I voted in favour of this resolution on Parliament’s position on the draft general budget of the EU for 2012. I agree that the Europe 2020 strategy should be at the heart of the EU budgetary strategy for 2012 because these policies are essential and necessary parts of the EU strategy for economic recovery, and therefore we must ensure as a matter of urgency that they have adequate investment at both EU and national level. I also believe that the EU budget must be an instrument helping Member States to pursue economic recovery policies, promoting and supporting national investment which would boost growth and employment. The Council has cut the Commission’s draft budget by 1.08% in commitments and by 2.75% in payments. I hope that in its negotiations with the Council in November Parliament will be able to reach an agreement on the 2012 budget which would guarantee the development of the EU economy.
Bastiaan Belder (EFD), in writing. − (NL) We are, rightly, deeply concerned about the stability of Europe. What investors are ardently hoping for should hold true here, as well: a politically consistent course of reform and cuts. Unfortunately, the European Parliament is not showing any sign of that. Parliament wants the European Union to spend 5.23% more next year. That amounts to more than EUR 6.5 billion. This increase cannot be justified.
The EU’s budget is raised by Member States. At a time of painful cuts and national debt levels which are putting public finances at risk and deepening the crisis, this constitutes unacceptable budgetary policy. What will the European Union spend the requested EUR 133 billion on? As far as the European Parliament is concerned, the EU 2020 strategy should form the focal point. This primarily concerns our social, education and labour market policies, which are ideal policy areas where the Member States can exercise competence and take measures most effectively.
However, these days the debate is not about the long-term strategy, because the stability of the euro and Europe itself is under increasing pressure. The consequence of a mistake in budgetary policy: several years of overspending. Might we, at this very time of crisis, be making the same mistake in determining the annual EU budget?
Jean-Luc Bennahmias (ALDE), in writing. – (FR) In the 2012 budget, I support the EUR 250 million envelope for fruit and vegetable producers, continued support for the European food distribution programme, and also the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund. However, I voted against the amendments aimed at allocating more funds to ITER, as I believe that this research project should not involve further funding. Its budget has grown exponentially since it was launched, and ITER should be rolled out from now on with available funds. More generally, I support the overall draft budget for 2012: Parliament’s position on the budget as put forward in plenary aims to enable the EU to fund its priorities, to give real substance to the 2020 strategy. This is a time when the EU must prove how useful it is and it must therefore be strengthened so that it can fund innovative projects that can generate growth.
Sebastian Valentin Bodu (PPE), in writing. – (RO) The European Parliament has highlighted that it wants next year’s budget to be focused on growth, job creation, innovation and research. At the same time, the European legislative is showing that it wants to continue to export democracy to its neighbours.
The European Parliament is proposing a 2012 budget of EUR 133 billion, marking a 5.2% increase on this year. We are now entering the 21-day conciliation period and, if everything goes according to plan, we could have the final vote on the budget in December.
The thinking behind the EU budget is to increase the finances available for those areas providing growth: research and development. The Cohesion Fund and the Structural Funds are categories of expenditure which have seen the biggest rises. Parliament is pushing for an increase in the budgets allocated to competitiveness, growth and employment. All the areas with budget increases are ‘responsible’ for cranking up the engines of the European economy.
Parliament has been given a say in the EU budget by the Treaty of Lisbon and will naturally use this opportunity. We have a say on European finances and hope that the views expressed will be listened to during the trialogue with the Commission and Council.
Jan Březina (PPE), in writing. - (CS) I would like to express my disappointment that neither the Commission nor the Council are submitting proposals to increase support – above the level of the original plans – for investments that are urgently needed for implementing the seven key initiatives in the area of competitiveness and enterprise, research and innovation, and education and lifelong learning. I am opposed to any form of transfer of resources from the 7th Framework Programme, as proposed by the Commission in its group of proposals for financing ITER, as this would threaten the successful implementation of the 7th Framework Programme. Apart from this, I support an increase in the funding for commitments relating to selected items from the 7th Framework Programme (building up capacity – research benefitting small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), cooperation - energy sector, ideas, people, research in the field of energy), because in my opinion these items are an instrument ensuring growth and investment in key areas that are of central importance to the Europe 2020 strategy. I agree that the overall funding for commitments relating to the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme (CIP) should be increased (CIP – Intelligent Energy and CIP – Enterprise and Innovation) from the initial allocation, and I would like to express the conviction that the increase will help to improve access to this programme for SMEs, and to the development of specific programmes and innovative mechanisms. SMEs play an important role in improving the economic efficiency of the EU, and in this sense the CIP programme is an indispensable instrument for recovery after the crisis.
Cristian Silviu Buşoi (ALDE), in writing. – (RO) During this period of crisis and decline in economic growth and at a time when austerity is the main feature of national budgets, I think that the European budget must contribute to economic recovery. We must not lose sight that the European budget offers real added value in some sectors, which is why the relevant budget lines must be used to offset the reduction in public expenditure domestically. The EU has also set for itself a number of ambitious objectives for 2020. Section 1a is particularly important to achieving these objectives and restoring economic growth. Unfortunately, the Council did not take a reasonable approach, applying major cuts to the budget lines for this section that is so important to the EU 2020 strategy. This is why I fully support returning to the Commission’s proposals and topping up the allocation, especially for innovation and research (CIP and FP7), providing lifelong professional training or for the Erasmus Mundus programme.
Last but not least, I am pleased that we successfully obtained the allocation of funds for organising the European Youth Olympic Festival in Braşov for 2013, an event conceived according to the model for similar events funded in other EU Member States, and which will benefit Romanian sport and young people.
Alain Cadec (PPE), in writing. – (FR) I am delighted that Parliament has adopted a balanced and responsible 2012 budget. I especially welcome the decision to allocate an additional EUR 250 million to assist producers of fruit and vegetables, as well as Parliament’s commitment to maintaining the European Food Aid Scheme for the Most Deprived Persons at its 2011 level. Parliament has also shown responsibility by reducing its operating costs: it has frozen allowances; reduced travel expenses by 5% and reduced interpreting costs by EUR 10 million.
Maria Da Graça Carvalho (PPE), in writing. − (PT) I welcome the 2012 budget voted on today, as it is a budget for growth, employment and innovation in the European Union, and because it supports development and democracy in neighbouring countries. The most significant increases proposed by the European Parliament are in research and development (+10.35%), and in the Cohesion Fund and Structural Funds (+8.8%). Research and innovation are the two key pillars of economic development and job creation in Europe. It is therefore crucial to increase the share of funding assigned to research and innovation within the overall EU budget, by substantially increasing the budget of the Framework Programme and the proportion of the Structural Funds dedicated to this sector.
Nikolaos Chountis (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (EL) The EU’s economic obligations have increased over recent years; at the same time, its budget has remained constant at a paltry 1.08% of GDP. Furthermore, the draft budget being passed today was decided in 2006. That means that no account has been taken of the global and European crisis or of the impact of it on the lives of European citizens. Unfortunately, yet again, the draft Union budget is being held ransom to the major interests promoted by overriding EU policies. Spending on defence policies exceeds spending on education and more money has been earmarked for large enterprises than for small and medium-sized enterprises. Also, this specific budget channels more resources to international pharmaceutical companies than to research in that sector. The draft Union budget, together with the austerity programmes applied in the Member States, is slowing down growth and exacerbating the recession. In light of this, I voted against this particular report.
Carlos Coelho (PPE), in writing. – (PT) I would congratulate Mr Fernandes on his excellent work as rapporteur for the 2012 budget of the European Parliament. With this budget, Parliament can modernise and live up to its responsibilities in a context of economic and financial crisis, and of need to set an example in cost cutting. With the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon, it has more responsibility and an increased workload, particularly in legislative processes, with the increase in the number of trialogues and conciliations. In view of this, I welcome: 1.- the overall EUR 74 million cut concerning the draft budget tabled by the Secretary-General, 2.- the reduced real value of the 2012 budget compared with 2011; the last reduction in Parliament’s budgets on this scale was 15 years ago, 3.- the freezing of the Members’ general expenditure allowance at 2011 levels, 4.- the recommendation not to increase Members’ allowances in line with inflation, 5.- the 5% cut in travel allowances. I deplore the use of the budget process for petty politics. It is easy to make Parliament’s spending controversial by looking at a given sum out of context. However, that strengthens neither Parliament nor democracy.
Corina Creţu (S&D), in writing. – (RO) In order to mobilise the potential offered by the EU’s economies with the aim of bringing about economic recovery in the wake of the crisis, measures need to be taken to stimulate recovery in the short term, strengthen sustainable economic growth, promote the stability of the financial market and reinforce economic governance structures. At the same time, support must be given to the projects dealing with vulnerable groups, especially young people, and aimed at providing them with access to the labour market and education. This must be one of the measures to address the high youth unemployment rate and the social tensions in an ever-increasing number of countries. In addition, a financial transaction tax must be established globally, with the aim of financing the eradication of poverty. On the subject of EU development policy, I would like to point out that, if Member States fail to come up with new sources of funding, they will not be able to fulfil their Millennium Development Goal commitments for 2015. In this regard, I find unacceptable the Council’s proposal to reduce the credits for development cooperation instruments by EUR 70 million and the attempt to reallocate the existing funds earmarked for development to resolve some new political challenges, such as climate change and the Arab Spring, which must be funded from additional resources.
Marielle De Sarnez (ALDE), in writing. – (FR) While the European agriculture ministers have, yet again, failed to find a solution to maintaining the European Food Aid Programme, an amendment calling for the maintenance of the budgetary envelope allocated to this programme has been adopted with broad support by the European Parliament. If any programme deserves support, it is quite clearly the Food Aid Programme. Unfortunately, despite the support of the European Parliament, the European Commission, the great majority of Member States and the mobilisation of associations on the ground, six Member States (Germany, Denmark, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, the United Kingdom and Sweden) continue to oppose this and to stand in the way of any solution. This is unacceptable. At the current time, the very least we can do is to guarantee annual funding of EUR 480 million. There are ways out of the deadlock: the European Commission has proposed that we use the food surpluses of the CAP and we purchase supplementary food from the market as a temporary measure, on the legal basis of social cohesion. We expect Europe’s leaders to assume their duty of solidarity. The Food Aid Programme’s future must be assured. Any other solution would be unacceptable.
Christine De Veyrac (PPE), in writing. – (FR) I abstained on the resolution concerning the European Union’s 2012 draft budget because the proposed increase in spending is too great. At a time of austerity, when Member States are imposing sacrifices on their people, the European Union must also make a contribution to the general effort. However, I shall support a modest increase to the budget so that the European Union’s major industrial projects (GALILEO, GMES, ITER) can be funded, and also to ensure that our food self-sufficiency can be maintained (common agricultural policy (CAP) appropriations).
Edite Estrela (S&D), in writing. – (PT) I voted for the resolution on the draft 2012 budget. I believe that, in the current context of crisis and resulting austerity measures, the European Parliament should join Europeans with the efforts demanded of them, specifically by freezing all allowances for Members and cutting Members’ spending on travel. However, I regret the decision to make cuts to translation and interpretation, since the principle of multilingualism in the European Parliament and within the framework of inter-institutional dialogue must not be called into question. That is why I voted for Amendments 43 and 44. Although I believe we should have gone further with reducing and rationalising spending, I should like to stress that administrative costs account for only 5.6% of the total EU budget and that the European Parliament budget represents only one fifth of that total. On the other hand, the 2012 budget for the European Parliament will be below inflation, so it is making significant spending cuts despite the new Members and the new responsibilities resulting from the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon.
Göran Färm, Anna Hedh, Olle Ludvigsson, Marita Ulvskog and Åsa Westlund (S&D), in writing. − (SV) It is important that the EU takes the same responsibility for making savings and improving efficiency that the Member States are having to do during this time of economic crisis. Even EU politicians need to make savings. We have therefore been working to get the MEPs’ mission allowances and other allowances frozen. We have also been campaigning for savings within the area of MEPs’ travel costs, and we welcome the large saving that is now being made within the European Parliament. However, we believe that more could have been done to reduce Parliament’s costs. In particular, we regret the fact that we cannot put an end to travelling to Strasbourg.
At the same time, it is also important for a reasonable investment rate to be maintained, so that Europe remains competitive in the future, too. Now more than ever we need to invest for jobs and growth – research, development, climate and training. We are also keen for the payments from the EU’s budget to be maintained at an adequate level. Reducing these payments would put an end to several Structural Fund and research projects that have already been decided on. The EU must be able to pay its accounts. We would, however, have welcomed further savings by means of a reduction in EU agricultural aid. We voted against additional aid for the EU’s vegetable producers and believe, in particular, that the EU’s export, tobacco and alcohol subsidies should be abolished.
We also believe that the EU has an important role to play in the democratisation process in North Africa following the Arab Spring. We support the increased appropriation for Palestine and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which has had problems with a reduction in bilateral aid, as well as higher costs as a result of the Arab Spring.
Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. – (PT) The crisis in which the European Union is mired and which is jeopardising its stability makes it advisable that the EU budget take into account the difficulties being experienced and resist expansionist tendencies, which would be misunderstood by public opinion in the Member States. I believe the EU general budget for the financial year 2012 has sought to take this concern into account without succumbing to easy populism. It should be noted, for example, that the budget set out for Parliament has been reduced by EUR 74 million, in spite of the additional costs that the institution has been facing. I hope the Union will be able to exercise its competences and will be able to do more, and do it better, with less, despite the budget cuts demanded by the severity of the current situation. If it does this, and I hope it will, it will set a good example to the Member States, in particular those currently experiencing the greatest difficulties. I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate my colleague, Mr Fernandes, on his good work.
José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. − (PT) The total cost of all the administrative and operating costs of all the European institutions represents only 5.59% of the grand total of the European Union budget. It should also be stressed that we have surpassed expectations for the Council, the Commission and Parliament, as shown by the margin of EUR 500 million in Heading 5. This was managed in spite of new responsibilities, new Members of this House and the establishment of new institutions, such as the European External Action Service. The overall increase in the 2012 budget for all of the institutions is about 1%, far below inflation, meaning there is negative growth in their budgets in real terms. With regard to Parliament’s budget, we have cut more than EUR 74 million between the start of negotiations with the Bureau of the European Parliament and now. If we are to be thorough and make a comparison with 2011, we have to remove expenditure arising from Croatia’s accession and the entry of the 18 new Members, which results in one of the lowest increases in the history of this Parliament: only 0.8%. It should be noted that we have saved EUR 21 million on interpretation and translation alone. We have also approved a 5% cut in all types of travel.
João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. − (PT) As the rapporteurs say, the cuts proposed by the Council and Commission – around EUR 1.59 billion (-1.08%) in commitments and EUR 3.65 billion (-2.75%) in payments – from an overall budget, which was already extremely meagre in itself, are regrettable. However, this accusing rhetoric directed at the Council by a Parliament that then ends up backing a budget not much different – in total and in choices – from the one presented to it is, unfortunately, becoming a habit. This is a budget that is lower than previous years in real and percentage terms, which is regrettable and, in the current context of profound crisis, illustrates the true meaning of Europe’s much-vaunted solidarity. This, moreover, in a year in which – in budgetary terms too – the EU is facing enlargement to a new Member State.
This is clearly being imposed by the interests of the EU’s most powerful countries at the expense of the countries with weaker economies, passing on to these last the economic and social costs of the policies they have promoted. It is alarming that funding in areas like repression of immigration and foreign intervention has increased, whilst available funding for the subcategory ‘Cohesion for growth and employment’ has been slashed.
Ilda Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (PT) We voted against this report, which sets out Parliament’s position on the 2011 EU budget, as it does not take into account the current economic and social crisis, instead setting a figure more than EUR 8 billion lower than the one provided for in the Multiannual Financial Framework agreed in 2006.
Regrettably, all the proposals that we tabled were rejected in plenary too. These were as follows:
- rejects the Stability and Growth Pact, the Euro Plus Pact, the austerity programmes and, in particular, the programmes being imposed on the ‘bailout’ countries, and calls for new policies and funds promoting economic and social cohesion;
- calls for the creation of an employment and social Progress Programme based on production, the development of public services, the creation of jobs with rights and the eradication of poverty;
- stresses the need to significantly increase the EU budget and to change its priorities with a view to effective economic and social cohesion, which also means ensuring the financially weakest countries are able to absorb EU funds effectively;
- rejects the idea that the Union budget should be used to finance a more militaristic and neoliberal EU and its increasing militarisation.
Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D), in writing. - (SK) Support for investment and economic growth will be one of the priority activities of the EU in 2012 as well, and will be based on more favourable economic forecasts. In supporting investment and actions aimed at boosting growth and employment in 2012, the EU will build on the principles set out in the new framework created in an effort to revive the economy and strengthen economic governance. Besides this, it will also be necessary to respond to the major challenges facing both the Union itself and the Member States. The EU budget will play a key role, as it will have a stimulating effect on Member State strategies aimed at economic recovery, and this will ultimately have an effect on the final beneficiaries. I believe that the key aim should still be to support the European economy and EU citizens, while the stimulating impact of the EU budget should be used to boost growth and create job opportunities.
The draft budget for 2012 is also aimed at achieving the aim of intelligent, sustainable and inclusive growth, setting out, among other things, priorities such as investment for supporting growth in a period of fiscal consolidation, strengthening the budgetary aspect of the Europe 2020 strategy and strengthening the priority areas of the Treaty of Lisbon.
Hélène Flautre (Verts/ALE), in writing. – (FR) The Members of the Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance abstained from voting on the 2012 budget at first reading on 26 October 2011. We deeply regret the creation of an envelope of EUR 200 000 ‘to fund pilot projects or other support activities aiming to analyse the public acceptance of the exploration for and exploitation of shale gas and introducing a dialogue on this matter’. We cannot accept that a single European cent be used to fund propaganda in favour of shale gas. Furthermore, this first post-Fukushima budget still grants a substantial allocation to the ITER nuclear reactor, which is an extravagant and pointless project, and a dead end in terms of energy and ecology.
For these two reasons at least, we were not able to vote in favour of this draft budget, despite the fact that green pilot projects, an increase in financial assistance for Palestine and substantial savings in administrative costs have been adopted. We have therefore decided to abstain, particularly so as not to weaken Parliament’s position in the difficult negotiations now due to begin with the Council.
Lidia Joanna Geringer de Oedenberg (S&D), in writing. − In times of financial instability and increasing austerity policies, like my S&D colleagues, I support the need to show solidarity to our citizens by decreasing our expenditure. However, I also support the need to identify more areas where structural changes can be introduced for making our organisation more efficient, less costly and more responsive to our needs as elected Members of Parliament.
One illustrating example is the interpretation services in Strasbourg. Our meetings in Strasbourg last until midnight and require ongoing interpretation services. Since very few local interpreters can be used during these sessions, costs of interpretation for one full working day are 30% higher than in Brussels. If we were to reduce these sessions by only one hour, to end at 23.00, we would be able to cut down expenditure on additional personnel and working hours. This small adjustment would allow a better organisation of our work and an annual saving of approximately EUR 3 million.
While this is merely one example for alternative ways to meeting our financial goals, many similar examples exists. Still, as the current budget proposal strikes a balance between our institutional needs and needs of our citizen, I voted in favour of the report.
Bruno Gollnisch (NI), in writing. – (FR) Who are they trying to kid with this budget? The people, clearly. All week, in the different debates, we would appear to have been dealing with necessary budgetary austerity, the reduction of sovereign debt, the contribution to be made by Member States, or rather their people, as they will pay increased taxes to benefit from reduced public services. Savings, and yet more savings. Except for the European Union, which wants a budget increase of 4.9%, and the European Parliament, which wants one of 5.2%. What do they want it for? Are they thinking of slashing the staffing of national civil services and then employing European civil servants? Or sprinkling some funds here and there to pretend to support employment, while pursuing policies that systematically destroy it? Or spending increasing amounts of money on communication to let it be known what a good idea Europe is, without ever advancing any serious explanation why? Why should they bother? The Member States are the ones who have to put their hands in their pockets. If this budget were to be adopted, the French contribution to the European budget would increase by EUR 1.3 billion. Where is this money going to come from? From the markets? You must be joking.
Catherine Grèze (Verts/ALE), in writing. – (FR) The proposal to remove subsidies to the tobacco sector, for obvious health reasons, is a worthy one. However, given the absence of a satisfactory redeployment plan for small producers in this sector, I abstained on Amendment 37 of the report.
Nathalie Griesbeck (ALDE), in writing. – (FR) Parliament voted in favour of the draft European Union budget for 2012, and I voted in favour of this text. I am especially delighted that the European Parliament has once again voted massively in favour of maintaining the European Food Aid Programme, which the Council continues to block. We must find a political solution to this issue which is of the utmost urgency for the most vulnerable amongst us. I also voted in favour of granting an additional EUR 250 million to fund specific measures to provide assistance to fruit and vegetable producers affected by the health crisis in the summer. I also voted in favour of the amendments to the budget that aimed to increase the sums allocated to the European Refugee Fund, the European Asylum Support Office and to Frontex, so as to support the common immigration and asylum policy that the European Union has introduced and is currently building up and strengthening. Finally, in the current circumstances of budgetary difficulties, the European Parliament has also advocated a reduction in its operating budget, by voting for budgetary amendments, and we also supported them.
Sylvie Guillaume (S&D), in writing. – (FR) I supported Parliament’s position on the 2012 draft budget. The aim is to carry forward into negotiations with the Council a draft budget in line with the Commission’s initial proposal, based on our political priorities such as employment and growth. Today more than ever before, in the context of a continuing crisis, the European Union’s budget must be increased in order to kick-start the economy and provide protection to those in need of it. Furthermore, the increase in Parliament’s budget is strictly limited to any increase involved in covering the costs of 18 new Members, and EUR 25 million will be saved on transport and translation costs and by freezing Members’ salaries.
Jiří Havel (S&D), in writing. - (CS) The EU 2020 growth strategy must not fall victim to the current cost-cutting atmosphere. In relation to this, of course, I also oppose the Council’s cuts in cohesion policy spending. I therefore agree with the rapporteur, Ms Balzani, that there is a real need for investments in growth to help Europe out of the crisis. The budget from the European Parliament for next year is cost-conscious, and the increases mainly relate to additional activities agreed on by a European Council composed of the relevant ministers from the 27 Member States. The great surprise of European leaders over their decision for an increase is just the usual performance put on for voters.
Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. − (LT) I welcomed this document because it will form the basis of the negotiations with the Council that will take place in November. Compared with this year, more money is being sought for the Structural Funds and innovations, as well as for the management of migration and foreign policy. The key objective of the EU budget 2012 should be to fully support the European economy and EU citizens by exploring the leverage effect of the EU budget to reinforce growth and employment opportunities, while sustaining the actions implemented within Member States’ budgets. I believe that we should also address the objectives of smart, sustainable and inclusive growth, as identified by the Europe 2020 strategy. Agricultural expenditure in the Union budget is rather rigid, given its predictability and the fact that, where direct payments are concerned, full correspondence is mandatory between commitments and payments and that such payments account for at least 70 % of the common agricultural policy (CAP) budget, so that any variations are mainly linked to market distortion. The promotion of a smart, sustainable and inclusive economy which creates jobs and high-quality employment by delivering on the Europe 2020 strategy's seven flagship initiatives is a jointly endorsed goal of the 27 Member States and the EU institutions. In order to help Europe recover from the crisis and come out stronger, the Europe 2020 strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth must be at the centre of the EU budgetary strategy for 2012.
Giovanni La Via (PPE), in writing. − (IT) I am extremely pleased with today’s vote which sets out the European Parliament’s position on the 2012 draft budget. In my capacity as shadow rapporteur for the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats), I should like to thank all my colleagues, particularly the rapporteurs, for the excellent work they have put in over recent months. I think that today we have shown a deep sense of responsibility by adopting a budget that is at once intelligent and realistic, that takes into due account this time of serious crisis, but that is, at the same time, conscious of its potential to boost growth in Europe and help it emerge from the crisis. It is a budget that finances research and innovation and supports young people and SMEs by focusing on certain selective, but important, increases in expenditure, including in other strategic sectors such as the neighbourhood policy and the management of migratory flows. In other words, we have adopted a European budget for European citizens.
Petru Constantin Luhan (PPE), in writing. – (RO) The European Union budget is the financial instrument which sets out and authorises every year the total amount of revenue and expenditure deemed necessary for the entire European Community. The year 2012 will be especially important as the impact of the current crisis has led to a reduction in public investment in some key areas of the European economy, and Member States have made adjustments to their national budgets to accommodate this. The EU budget’s role is to complement national budgets and it is particularly important for promoting economic growth and creating jobs.
I think that the EU budget should not be limited and restricted. On the contrary, it should be increased in some key areas. The Europe 2020 strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth must be at the heart of the budget strategy for 2012. A consistent budget for this year will enable us to help Europe emerge from the crisis in a stronger state.
Elżbieta Katarzyna Łukacijewska (PPE), in writing. − (PL) Today we voted on the draft EU budget for 2012. Personally, I voted in favour of adopting this document, for I fully support the position taken by my political group. I believe that in next year’s budget we should make the Europe 2020 strategy a key priority, and I am pleased that the European Parliament has increased allocations to cohesion policy by 8.38 %.
This is a very good decision for Poland because it will stimulate the further economic development of our country and be a driving force for the regions. I am also happy that the European Parliament has put a stake on the innovation and competitiveness of the European businesses, which may apply for grants from the Structural Funds as well as from proposed programmes such as the Seventh Framework Programme or the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme.
Monica Luisa Macovei (PPE), in writing. – (RO) I voted for Amendment 26 of the report on the draft general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2012. Therefore, I voted to reduce the number of business class journeys that Members of the European Parliament make because we too need to cut costs during this difficult period. In addition, I think that the European Parliament should not pay for business class tickets (at least) for journeys shorter than four hours.
It is possible to read and work too in economy class where we are also alongside those whom we represent, and we can talk to them. I travel economy class so that there is no discrepancy between how I have voted and what I do.
I also voted for Amendment 27 requesting that none of the MEPs’ allowances are indexed. I think that we need to show solidarity with Europe’s citizens during this time of financial crisis.
These measures are neither populist nor communist, but a sign of common sense and solidarity with those whom we represent.
David Martin (S&D), in writing. − I voted against the budget resolution because in the present climate I could not vote for a 5.2% increase.
Mairead McGuinness (PPE), in writing. − Amendment 26 in this report brings forward additional proposals for making savings in all kinds of travel expenditure. I supported this amendment. Amendment 27 notes that the general expenditure allowance is frozen at the 2011 level and calls on the Bureau not to index any of the Members' allowances, including the 'daily' allowance. I also supported this amendment.
Jean-Luc Mélenchon (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (FR) A majority in this House, in favour of the European Semester and the legislative package on economic governance, is concerned that its budget is restricted by a framework it did not choose. It should learn the necessary lessons from this. As far as everything else is concerned, this report and the draft budget that goes with it are in keeping with the euro-liberal and security policies that I oppose. However, I do endorse the fact that they are calling for the budget allowance allocated to the food distribution scheme for the most deprived persons to be ring-fenced, and for aid to Palestine to be increased.
Andreas Mölzer (NI), in writing. − (DE) The 2012 budget may include the lowest budget for the European Parliament’s own expenditure for 15 years, but there would still be sufficient potential for more savings here, particularly with regard to the travel circus between Brussels and Strasbourg. It is also high time that a selective thinning out was performed on the proliferation of EU agencies in order to make more potential savings. It is disgraceful that even the combating of fraud and the recovery of European funds erroneously paid out does not actually work properly. The report calls for an increase of 5.2%, which would increase the EU budget next year to EUR 133.1 billion. Particularly during a time of financial, economic and debt crisis, that sends out a disturbing signal. The Member States are tightening their belts and have also had austerity reforms imposed on them from EU level, but the EU budget is nevertheless to increase. I voted against this report, which is once again an example of us not practising what we preach.
Claudio Morganti (EFD), in writing. − (IT) The text on the 2012 budget which we voted for today undoubtedly represents a solid basis for the conciliation with the Council which will need to take place shortly. In this regard, it would be advisable for the Council not merely to propose linear cuts, as it has done so far, but instead to indicate negative priorities on which we can take decisive action.
There are various budget lines for non-core actions on which we could intervene right now; it is true, for example, that Europe’s administrative and bureaucratic apparatus is certainly a great deal less complex and cumbersome compared with national central government apparatus, but this is by no means a valid reason to increase its expenditure, something which has happened today for some of Parliament’s lines. I am, however, pleased that adequate funds have been reintroduced for SMEs and for Frontex, and, moreover, a substantial appropriation has rightly been approved for farmers who were seriously affected by the summer crisis caused by the proliferation of the lethal E. coli bacterium.
Antigoni Papadopoulou (S&D), in writing. – (EL) The budget we are voting on today and which is expected to be adopted in December, if agreed with the Council, is designed to boost growth, employment and innovation in the EU. It invests in research and increases appropriations to the Structural Funds and the Cohesion Fund and to programmes in connection with the EU 2020 growth strategy. At the same time, it increases spending to manage influxes of refugees and immigrants and to strengthen maritime border controls in the Mediterranean.
However, spending on the EU external borders agency, Frontex, is inadequate, especially as this agency is currently performing a very important role in protecting the external and maritime borders in the Mediterranean and in patrolling the Greek-Turkish border, given the increase in the number of immigrants arriving via Turkey from North Africa and other third countries. In addition, greater priority and more money should, in my opinion, be given to the new European financial supervisory authorities in times of financial crisis.
Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. − (PT) I voted for this report on the draft European Union general budget for the financial year 2012, amended by the Council. I consider it a balanced report that opts for containment, without compromising the conditions for undertaking the work required of it. I would congratulate my party colleague, Mr Fernandes, on his hard work in pursuit of a fairer, more balanced budget.
Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. − (PT) The draft general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2012 is, generally, viewed positively in the European Parliament, and I voted in favour. As this is a particularly difficult time for the European Union, there is justification for an instrument that makes it possible for the Union to be equipped with means and strategies that attempt to satisfy the objectives provided for in the Treaties. As such, the opening of dialogue between the main political groups is laudable, since it ensures a solid basis for the development of the European project in the period approaching.
Teresa Riera Madurell (S&D), in writing. − (ES) I voted in favour because of the commitment that Parliament continues to show to an ambitious budget that will enable the targets set by the Europe 2020 strategy to be reached. The result of today’s vote lays down the blueprint for negotiations with the Council. Once again, we have shown our belief that it is crucial to increase investments in strategic sectors for Europe to emerge stronger from the crisis. Key investments in fields such as innovation or research, which can provide high added value to the European economy, are needed to successfully reach the goals set out in the Europe 2020 strategy. Where the climate of austerity affects these fields, the way out of the crisis will be slow and counterproductive.
We must fund the Europe 2020 strategy to promote growth and employment in Europe. We Socialists are therefore asking Member States to push for an ambitious agreement. The European budget is a means of supporting all countries and should increase investment in public policies that guarantee growth and social cohesion. Without an ambitious budget, Europe will fail to meet its responsibilities and it will continue to lose all credibility with its citizens.
Frédérique Ries (ALDE), in writing. – (FR) I abstained from voting on the political resolution relating to the 2012 budget. At a time of unprecedented crisis for the European Union and its Member States, I cannot accept the ‘lax’ signal sent by the two main political groups, the Christian Democrats and the Socialists, who backed by 431 votes the Commission’s proposal to increase the European budget by 4% compared with 2011, that is to say by EUR 147.8 billion.
Clearly, this is a political mistake and a message that our fellow citizens cannot and do not want to hear, since in their daily lives, they are bearing the full brunt of the austerity plans implemented here and there. Admittedly, the European budget accounts for only 2% of total public expenditure within the Union, and the European Parliament has been able to save EUR 25 million by freezing the automatic indexing on the cost of living of MEP allowances and by placing 15% of the funds earmarked for travel in reserve, but evidently we need to come back to this vote at second reading.
Now more than ever, the European Union must show responsibility and restraint in its budget, at a time when the Member States are continuing their efforts towards budget consolidation.
Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – (FR) We, the Greens, abstained. Admittedly, following a proposal by the Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance, Parliament has managed to incorporate green criteria in the area of research and technology as well as in the common agricultural policy, which is tantamount to making the CAP ‘greener’. We are also delighted that Parliament has adopted an amendment by the Greens on controlling the influence of lobbies. Finally, the European Parliament also voted to limit its business class flights, something that the Greens supported, since this represents a substantial saving for the European Parliament’s budget.
Licia Ronzulli (PPE), in writing. – (IT) Today, once again, Parliament has shown that it is striving to achieve an EU budget for 2012 that is capable of stimulating growth, innovation and employment within the European Union. This must also take place via support for the development of democracy in countries close to the EU.
Among the various decisions that have been taken, I would like to mention the decision to add EUR 250 million to the emergency funds for the European food and agriculture sector. These additional funds will be used to prevent possible future crises, like last year’s killer bacteria episode. Lastly, some of these funds will be used to compensate farmers for the negative financial effects of the crisis.
Marie-Thérèse Sanchez-Schmid (PPE), in writing. – (FR) The destiny of the euro is currently being played out in Brussels, and with it the destiny of Europe as we know it, such is the seriousness of the crisis that we are going through. Member States must, at all cost, be ready to lift three gauntlets: they must show solidarity and come to the assistance of Member States on the verge of bankruptcy, they must stabilise their public finances and they must invest in growth. They cannot achieve this on their own: the only realistic solution to this crisis is a strengthened European Union. As we prepare to vote on this budget for 2012, we face a complex situation.
At a time when public money is scarce and when some Member States are literally in desperate straits, how can Europe, which depends on national contributions, carry out its mission effectively? Today we are voting on a realistic and courageous budget, and making savings where we can. Parliament proposes to make savings of EUR 74 million in its 2012 budget over what were its estimated needs at the beginning of the year. This budget will allow the European Union to focus on its key missions: support for competitiveness, investment in the future and growth in Europe.
Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. − (PT) Adoption of the annual EU budget is always a moment of great importance, since this document confirms the institutions’ priorities and determines their activities. The draft 2012 budget concerns, not just the European Parliament, but also the other European institutions and the objectives written into the budget headings. As regards Parliament, I support the rapporteur’s proposals of an increase of around 0.8%, if we exclude spending on the 18 new Members resulting from the requirements of the Treaty of Lisbon and expenditure relating to the EU’s expansion to include Croatia. We can only talk about an increase of around 1.44% compared to 2011 if everything is added together, which, even so, represents the lowest figure since 1999. As regards the various headings for different areas, the major problem results from Heading 1a, on competitiveness for growth and employment, owing to its low margins and because it funds important priorities. However, a compromise has successfully been reached on increasing its ceiling and ensuring that priorities such as the capacity of small and medium-sized enterprises, entrepreneurship and innovation, lifelong learning and Erasmus Mundus had an allocation higher than that proposed by the Commission.
Silvia-Adriana Ţicău (S&D), in writing. – (RO) I voted in favour of the report on the draft general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2012 as modified by the Council. I did not vote for Amendments 43 and 44 as I think that the Bureau’s decision to make cuts to the budget lines for translation and interpretation jeopardises the principle of multilingualism in Parliament and during dialogues with other institutions. All EU citizens should have access to all EU documents in all the official languages, and MEPs must be guaranteed the right to speak in their mother tongue during part-sessions, in committees, coordination meetings and trialogues. I agree with promoting innovation, structural reorganisation and new working methods to improve translation services and to make savings, only when no cuts are made to translation services. I voted for Amendment 26 calling for the Secretary General of the European Parliament to present a report by 31 March, examining the feasibility of introducing measures to ensure the utmost efficiency with regard to MEPs’ travel, with a view to making recommendations for potential budget savings.
Thomas Ulmer (PPE), in writing. − (DE) I was very pleased to see that the proposal for cuts of 25% in the general expenditure allowance did not receive majority support. The small-change conjurers on the left have hit an obstacle here, which ultimately has to do with the individual MEPs’ perception of themselves. It is already degrading enough to be on a basic salary that is 38.5% of that of a European Court of Justice judge, on the principle that we are not worth any more than that. Politics is, in any case, not something you get into in order to become rich, but rather as an emotional and fascinating activity. The basic financial provision for this ought to be sound. For years I have been calling for a fee-based system without social security. We can all arrange this protection for ourselves.
Marie-Christine Vergiat (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (FR) I deplore the position that Parliament adopted this morning on the 2012 draft budget. I therefore voted against this resolution.
The budget, which is supposedly focused on growth, employment and innovation, proposes higher spending on security and controls at the EU's external borders (a policy that has already proven disastrous), on support for research projects with potentially harmful consequences for the environment and public health, and on support for large companies (with no social quid pro quo), rather than on education, young people, citizenship and third-country development through equitable partnerships.
I also deeply regret the fact that MEPs, in seeking to streamline the resources allocated to administration, are willing to accept cuts in the budget for translation and interpreting, thereby imperilling the survival of the Union’s cultural and linguistic diversity, and also democracy, in which citizens must be able to understand the work of Parliament.
Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. − (PT) I am voting to conclude this agreement with Norway, as it is a country demonstrating significant technological advances.
Vilija Blinkevičiūtė (S&D), in writing. − (LT) I voted in favour of this recommendation on the conclusion of the Cooperation Agreement on Satellite Navigation between the European Union and its Member States and the Kingdom of Norway because this issue is important for both contracting parties. This decision will allow better relations to be forged and maintained with the Kingdom of Norway on the western side of the Scandinavian Peninsula which is seen as an example of one of the most successful and prosperous capitalist countries. The country is considered the third largest exporter of oil after Saudi Arabia and Russia, and although it makes a significant contribution to the EU budget, it has refused to become a full member of the European Union. Cooperation is thus having a positive impact on the European Union economy and therefore one of the main objectives is to further enhance cooperation between both parties by supplementing the provisions of the agreement applicable to satellite navigation.
Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. – (PT) Although not a Member State of the European Union, Norway is a stable political partner that is financially involved in many of the EU’s initiatives, projects and programmes. That is the case with the European Space Agency, in which Norway participates, and to whose European satellite navigation system the country is committed. In view of Norway’s participation in this joint project, the conclusion of a cooperation agreement between the EU and its Member States and Norway clearly merits Parliament’s full backing: I am voting in favour.
José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. − (PT) This recommendation, drafted by Mr Reul, concerns the draft Council decision on the conclusion of the Cooperation Agreement on Satellite Navigation between the European Union and its Member States and the Kingdom of Norway. Despite not being one of the 27 Member States of the European Union, Norway is a country that maintains close ties with the EU, not least by participating in various cooperation projects. The satellite navigation system developed by the European Agency for Navigation is an example of Norwegian cooperation with the European Union. As such, and in view of the recommendation of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy, I am voting for the Council’s request for Parliament to approve the Cooperation Agreement on Satellite Navigation between the European Union and its Member States and the Kingdom of Norway.
José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. − (PT) This recommendation, drafted by Mr Reul, concerns the draft Council decision on the conclusion of the Cooperation Agreement on Satellite Navigation between the European Union and its Member States and the Kingdom of Norway. Despite not being one of the 27 Member States of the European Union, Norway is a country that maintains close ties with the EU, not least by participating in various cooperation projects. The satellite navigation system developed by the European Agency for Navigation is an example of Norwegian cooperation with the European Union. As such, and in view of the recommendation of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy, I am voting for the Council’s request for Parliament to approve the Cooperation Agreement on Satellite Navigation between the European Union and its Member States and the Kingdom of Norway.
João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. − (PT) The multiple uses of satellite navigation systems are well known. This is an important scientific and technological acquisition with huge potential, which underpins various areas of human activity today. Like other technologies, it can be used for peaceful and strictly civilian purposes, which help improve the well-being and living conditions of the majority of people, or for military purposes, so contributing to destruction and war. This recommendation on concluding the Cooperation Agreement on Satellite Navigation between the European Union and its Member States and the Kingdom of Norway is in response to the request for approval that the Council submitted to obtain the European Parliament’s opinion on the matter.
Given the clarifications made in the Committee on Industry, Energy and Research, we believe it merits agreement, taking into account the guarantees that the data will not be used for military purposes. However, there is a need for this issue to be monitored and scrutinised because the line separating the two types of use can be tenuous and imprecise at times.
Ilda Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing. − (PT) This recommendation on a proposal for a Council decision follows the conclusion of the cooperation agreement on satellite navigation between the European Union and its Member States and Norway. It is a response to the request for adoption submitted by the Council in order to obtain Parliament’s opinion. As it takes into account the clarifications made in the Committee on Industry, Energy and Research, we believe it deserves our support, provided that Norway wishes this, as they have confirmed. It therefore does not seem negative to us, although it is an issue that should be monitored in future, taking into account the stakeholders’ interests and the need to ensure that shared information is not used for military ends.
Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D), in writing. - (SK) Norway is our closest partner out of the non-EU Member States in terms of cooperation on Europe’s GALILEO and European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service (EGNOS) global navigation satellite systems (GNSS). Norway has long contributed from a political, technological and financial perspective to all phases of the GALILEO project through its membership of the European Space Agency (ESA) and its informal participation going back several years in EC management structures related to the GALILEO programme. The agreement formalising cooperation between Norway and EU over satellite navigation also sets out general principles of cooperation, as well as the rights and obligations of Norway in these areas (in particular, security), to which the existing acquis relating to the GALILEO system does not apply. The agreement is necessary because two important ground stations that will contribute to the proper functioning of the system will be installed in Norway. In this context, Norway is adopting a political commitment that it will contribute to the future EU policy on the protection of European GNSS systems.
The Commission negotiated the agreement with Norway, and it was signed on 22 September 2010. Ratification by all of the Member States is, however, essential. It is right for the agreement between the EU and Norway to be applied provisionally, until such time as it enters into force.
Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. − (LT) I welcomed this document because Norway is our closest non-EU cooperation partner in the European GNSS systems GALILEO and EGNOS. Norway has contributed politically, technically and financially to all phases of GALILEO through its membership in the European Space Agency and its informal participation in the GALILEO-specific EC governance structures over the years. This Agreement formalises the cooperation between Norway and the European Union in the field of satellite navigation. The Agreement establishes the general cooperation principles and the rights and obligations of Norway in the areas mentioned. The Agreement is necessary because Norway will host two important ground installations that will contribute to the proper functioning of the system. In this context Norway gives a political commitment to subscribe to future Union policy regarding the protection of European GNSS systems.
David Martin (S&D), in writing. − I voted to give my consent to the conclusion of the Cooperation Agreement on Satellite Navigation between the European Union and its Member States and the Kingdom of Norway.
Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. − The report contains a recommendation on the draft Council decision on the conclusion of the Cooperation Agreement on Satellite Navigation between the European Union and its Member States and the Kingdom of Norway. I voted in favour.
Franz Obermayr (NI), in writing. − (DE) Outside the EU, Norway is our closest and most important cooperation partner in connection with the European satellite navigation systems (GNSS) GALILEO and EGNOS. This agreement governs the cooperation of the EU with Norway and Norway’s general rights and obligations, particularly with regard to security. As Norway has provided the GALILEO project with technical, political and financial support and is therefore closely involved in the structure of European satellite navigation, this agreement is intended to promote cooperation in the future, too.
Norway is home to two important earth stations, which are used to ensure the smooth operating of the system. That is why this agreement is essential. The European satellite system must remain part of Europe’s economic and research sphere in future, too, and Norway is contributing to this. I therefore voted in favour of this motion.
Rolandas Paksas (EFD), in writing. − (LT) I believe that it is particularly appropriate and beneficial to conclude an agreement with the Kingdom of Norway on cooperation in the field of satellite navigation.
Above all, Norway has contributed politically, technically and financially to all phases of GALILEO through its membership in the European Space Agency and its informal participation in the GALILEO-specific EC governance structures over the years. Furthermore, Norway intends to host two important ground installations that will contribute to the proper functioning of the system. In this context Norway gives a political commitment to subscribe to future Union policy regarding the protection of European GNSS systems. It should be noted that the EU should formally establish close collaboration in all aspects of European GNSS programmes in order to guarantee an adequate level of protection of the services provided.
Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. − (PT) I voted for this recommendation, which gives the green light to the draft Council decision on the conclusion of the Cooperation Agreement on Satellite Navigation between the European Union and its Member States and the Kingdom of Norway, because I believe this agreement is generally of benefit to both parties.
Aldo Patriciello (PPE), in writing. − (IT) Having taken into account the substantial investments and having weighed up the importance of collaboration, in Europe and beyond, in order to achieve synergy thanks to the diversity of know-how in the field of satellite navigation, I voted in favour of the draft resolution on the cooperation agreement with the Kingdom of Norway.
Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. − (PT) The GALILEO programme is one of Europe’s most oft-cited research projects. Given its scope, which requires a great capacity for investment, there is a justification for public involvement and subsidies, on the one hand, and for opening up the results of this project to major commercial partners, on the other, in order to make the enormous financial effort required profitable. For these reasons, the adoption of the agreement concluded between the European Union and the Kingdom of Norway is justified, with a view to cooperation in the field of satellite navigation.
Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. − In favour: The European Parliament, – having regard to the draft Council decision (11114/2011), – having regard to the Cooperation Agreement on Satellite Navigation between the European Union and its Member States and the Kingdom of Norway (06647/2010), – having regard to the request for consent submitted by the Council in accordance with Articles 171 and 172 and point (a) of the second subparagraph of Article 218(6), and Article 218(8) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (C7-0184/2011), – having regard to Rules 81, 90(7) and 46(1) of its Rules of Procedure, – having regard to the recommendation of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (A7-0316/2011), 1. Consents to the conclusion of the Agreement; 2. Instructs its President to forward its position to the Council, the Commission and the governments and parliaments of the Member States and of the Kingdom of Norway.
Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. − (PT) Following the launch of the first two satellites of the GALILEO project on 21 October, Europe is increasingly close to having a European satellite navigation system, which will bring countless benefits, not just for European industry, but also for the daily lives of the European public. This agreement with Norway will make all the benefits and possible applications of the GALILEO programme and the European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service available to that country, which is a partner in strategic cooperation, since it participated politically, technically and financially in setting out and implementing both programmes. On the other hand, Norway will also house two important earth stations. As such, this agreement concludes Norway’s political commitment to the EU’s political future as regards the protection of satellite navigation systems. Finally, it expresses the general principles of cooperation, and Norway’s rights and obligations, particularly as regards security. The GALILEO programme, as well as being a system that will bring economic and social benefits, and will contribute to meeting the Europe 2020 strategy’s targets, is the proof that Europe is taking its first steps in the area of space, which is representative of European integration.
Silvia-Adriana Ţicău (S&D), in writing. – (RO) I voted for the conclusion of the Cooperation Agreement on Satellite Navigation between the European Union and the Kingdom of Norway as this agreement helps implement the EU’s space policy.
Norway is the closest partner outside the EU involved in the European GNSS systems GALILEO and EGNOS and has made a political, technical and financial contribution at every stage of the GALILEO programme as a member of the European Space Agency. Norway will host two important ground installations which will contribute to the GNSS system’s smooth operation. In this context, Norway is making a political commitment to subscribe to the future EU policy on the protection of European GNSS systems.
The agreement establishes the general cooperation principles, as well as Norway’s rights and obligations in relevant areas, such as security. Norway intends to adopt and enforce in the territories under its jurisdiction measures providing an equivalent level of security and safety as that afforded by the measures applicable to GNSS in the EU.
The agreement stipulates cooperation on providing satellite navigation services in the parties’ territories and on using all GALILEO and EGNOS services, including the public regulated service (PRS), subject to fulfilling the conditions governing their use.
Angelika Werthmann (NI), in writing. − (DE) Norway is a participant in the GNSS system as a non-EU cooperation partner and has contributed politically, technically and financially to all phases of GALILEO over the years. This agreement formalises the cooperation between Norway and the EU in the area of satellite navigation. The Commission recommends the provisional application of the agreement and I voted in favour of this.
Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. − (PT) I am voting for this protocol, and would stress the benefits that could result from mutually advantageous cooperation on applying satellite systems to services.
Sophie Auconie (PPE), in writing. – (FR) I voted in favour of the agreement between the United States and the European Union, which advocates two-way cooperation between their satellite navigation systems: GPS and GALILEO.
Elena Băsescu (PPE), in writing. – (RO) I voted for the report drafted by Mr Reul because I think that the GALILEO programme is one of the successes of European integration. As part of the efforts and initiatives included in the EU 2020 strategy, the development of the GPS system and its associated applications plays a key role in strengthening innovation at EU level. This agreement is the culmination of 12 years of discussions between Europe and the US, reaching a consensus on the civil and military use of systems of this kind.
In this instance, compliance with the principle of proportionality is vital. This means that the necessary data must be supplied to the general public, while also providing suitable protection for military installations. At the same time, the geographical coverage achieved by these systems is important, as is the compatibility of the various networks and reception methods. Once all these aspects have been harmonised, this will make the balance between information available to the general public and confidential information clearer.
Vilija Blinkevičiūtė (S&D), in writing. − (LT) I voted in favour of this report, in which the European Parliament recommends that the Council should conclude an agreement between the European Community and its Member States and the United States of America on the promotion, provision and use of GALILEO and GPS satellite-based navigation systems and related applications. One of the main objectives of this agreement is to provide a framework for cooperation between the parties in the promotion, provision and use of civil GPS and GALILEO navigation and timing signals. GPS signals are a public positioning system for specific objects. This system is operated by the US Department of Defence, which allows our countries to use it free of charge. On the other hand, GALILEO signals, which are run by the EU, compete with GPS signals and are expected to improve the quality of service of this navigation system and strengthen the economic stability of the European Union. The other main objectives of the GALILEO programme are to facilitate the use of these signals, services and equipment for commercial, peaceful civil and scientific purposes.
Maria Da Graça Carvalho (PPE), in writing. − (PT) I welcome the conclusion of an EU-US agreement on the promotion, provision and use of the GALILEO and Global Positioning System satellite-based navigation systems. European industry will be the main beneficiary of this agreement, since it contributes to the operations of many sectors of the European economy, and provides companies and the public with direct access to a satellite navigation system produced by Europe. The GALILEO programme creates a more advanced global satellite navigation system that guarantees an extremely precise and reliable global positioning service.
Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. – (PT) It is a cause for pride that the first two European satellites have been put into orbit this month, which will comprise part of the GALILEO constellation by the end of the decade, with a total of 30 satellites, more than 23 000 km from the Earth. The GALILEO satellites, which are of entirely civilian origin, will provide an alternative satellite positioning system, enabling Europe to become independent of the United States’ Global Positioning System. I am therefore in favour of the conclusion of an agreement with the US on the promotion, provision and use of both satellite-based navigation systems.
José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. − (PT) This recommendation, drafted by Mr Reul, concerns the draft Council decision on the conclusion of the Agreement on the promotion, provision and use of GALILEO and Global Positioning System (GPS) satellite-based navigation systems and related applications between the European Community and its Member States, of the one part, and the United States of America, of the other part. This sector has been growing exponentially since 2000, which saw the first provision of GPS services: it is forecast that it will represent a EUR 230 billion market by 2025. Aware of this new technology, the EU developed its European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service, the forerunner of the GALILEO system, which it is hoped will become operational in 2013 and will be 10 times more accurate than GPS. Given the opinion of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy, I am voting for the Council’s request that Parliament approve the Agreement on the promotion, provision and use of GALILEO and GPS satellite-based navigation systems and related applications between the European Community and its Member States, of the one part, and the United States of America, of the other part.
Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D), in writing. - (SK) The Agreement on the Promotion, Provision of use of GALILEO and GPS Satellite-based Navigation Systems and related Applications between the US on the one part and the EU and its Member States on the other part was signed in Dromoland Castle in Ireland on 26 June 2004, and provisionally applied from 1 November 2008 until such time as it enters into force. The US is currently providing the GPS Standard Positioning Service for peaceful civil, commercial, and scientific use on a continuous, worldwide basis, free of direct user fees, and the European Community is developing and plans to operate the GALILEO civil global satellite navigation, timing and positioning system.
If the two systems were radio frequency compatible and interoperable at the user level, the number of satellites visible from any location on the Earth could be increased, aiding accessibility to navigation signals for civil users worldwide. The objective of this agreement is to provide a framework for cooperation between the parties in the promotion, provision and use of civil navigation and timing signals and services. Taking into account the Commission proposal and the consent of the European Parliament, I believe we must conclude this agreement.
Jim Higgins (PPE), in writing. − The agreement allows for better promotion of the two systems and allows people to develop applications for the services. It is important that the EU have its own system, in order to remove dependency on systems from outside the Union, but, at the same time, we must ensure that we work together so that there are some common standards developed for this technology. Today's European Parliament approval will allow for this.
Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. − (LT) I welcomed this document because an agreement is concluded on behalf of the European Union between the United States of America and the European Community and its Member States on the promotion, provision and use of GALILEO and GPS satellite-based navigation systems and related applications. GPS and GALILEO, if their radio frequencies are compatible and interoperable at the user level, could increase the number of satellites visible from any location on the earth and aid accessibility to navigation signals for civil users worldwide. I am convinced that we need to cooperate so that we can fully reap the benefits of this important technology in all relevant areas of application.
Petru Constantin Luhan (PPE), in writing. – (RO) I welcome this agreement as it provides a cooperation framework for promoting, supplying and using civil GPS and GALILEO navigation and timing signals and services.
I am pleased that Romania too will become party to this agreement by signing a protocol, in accordance with Article 6(2) of the Act concerning the conditions of Romania’s accession.
In terms of future prospects, I believe that it would be beneficial for the signatories to this agreement to meet once or twice a year, as part of an interface council, to discuss policy issues and future planning systems. It would also be useful to set up a GPS-GALILEO secretariat to exchange interface data and provide day-to-day coordination, and also appoint liaison officers.
David Martin (S&D), in writing. − I voted to give my consent to the draft Council decision on the conclusion of the Agreement on the promotion, provision and use of GALILEO and GPS satellite-based navigation systems and related applications between the European Community and its Member States, of the one part, and the United States of America, of the other part.
Louis Michel (ALDE), in writing. – (FR) With the launching into orbit on 21 October of the first two operational satellites of the GALILEO global navigation satellite system, a historic milestone in the development of this project has been passed. GALILEO is vital for the future of high technology in Europe. It will generate vast markets and will provide Europe with the technological progress that will enable it to be competitive worldwide. It is essential for Europe and for the whole world to have its own solution, in order to avoid having to rely on the monopoly that the United States currently has with GPS (Global Positioning System). Furthermore, future navigation needs and the requirement for global cover cannot be met by a single system. The agreement signed with the United States will ensure that GALILEO and GPS are mutually compatible. Thus it should increase the number of satellites visible from anywhere on Earth and help civilian users around the world to access navigation signals. Indeed, effective cooperation is needed so that the advantages of this important technology fully benefit the various applications.
Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. − GALILEO is a global navigation satellite system currently being built by the European Union and European Space Agency. One of the political aims of GALILEO is to provide a high-precision positioning system upon which European nations can rely, independently from the Russian GLONASS and US GPS systems, which can be disabled for commercial users in times of war or conflict. The report contains a recommendation on the draft Council decision on the conclusion of the Agreement on the promotion, provision and use of GALILEO and GPS satellite-based navigation systems and related applications between the European Community and its Member States, of the one part, and the United States of America, of the other part. I voted in favour.
Katarína Neveďalová (S&D), in writing. - (SK) The GALILEO navigation system is a satellite system which should become an alternative to the GPS system of the US or Russia’s GLONASS system. In contrast to GALILEO, both of the competing systems are funded by the military of these countries. GALILEO should be operational from 2014. It has many advantages, including full civilian funding, for example, and full compatibility with the US and Russian systems. The first two satellites were launched last week, and we were able to follow this opening event live at an exhibition in the European Parliament building in Brussels. Unfortunately, this event was not free of complications either, and had to be postponed. The EU first began talks on the introduction of this system in 1999. There are now voices doubting that we will be able to make the planned date in 2014 for having the system operational (though only in trial operation).
I personally live in the firm hope that the European Space Agency will be capable of launching the planned 18 satellites needed to bring the system into trial operation. We all know that the EU lags behind its US partners in areas such as research and development, and the successful introduction of a system such as GALILEO may reduce the lead enjoyed by the competition.
Rolandas Paksas (EFD), in writing. − (LT) I welcome this agreement between the EU and United States of America on the promotion, provision and use of GALILEO and GPS satellite-based navigation systems and related applications. I believe that close cooperation in this area is needed to facilitate access to the benefits of these important technologies in all relevant areas of application.
It should be noted that the agreement will ensure complete compatibility and interoperability between existing global satellite radio navigation and positioning systems. Furthermore, it will open up markets, promote increased trade and enable satellite navigation system users and equipment providers to develop the scope of the services, while assuring radio frequency compatibility with systems and equipment already in use.
Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. − (PT) This recommendation gives the green light to the draft Council decision on the conclusion of the Agreement on the promotion, provision and use of GALILEO and Global Positioning System satellite-based navigation systems and related applications between the European Community and its Member States and the United States of America. Numerous services, including more efficient management of road transportation, better search and rescue services, more secure financial transactions, and a more reliable electricity supply are closely tied to satellite navigation technologies. Studies show that there will be significant economic benefits for all stakeholders. I voted for this recommendation for these reasons.
Aldo Patriciello (PPE), in writing. − (IT) Having taken into account the substantial investments and having weighed up the importance of collaboration, in Europe and beyond, in order to achieve synergy thanks to the diversity of know-how in the field of satellite navigation, I voted in favour of the draft resolution.
Markus Pieper (PPE), in writing. − (DE) I was pleased to vote in favour of the report. GALILEO is a symbol of the competitive strength of the European Union. It is also a symbol of the added value that the Member States receive through the Union. GALILEO stands for the Europe that the people at home expect from us.
We will not be able to conquer global competitive positions on the basis of modest ambitions and patronage, but on the basis of our combined strength. GALILEO provides very practical advantages for the users of navigation devices. We have made a start. Now we must continue in a consistent manner. Only when all 30 satellites are ready for use can we utilise the advantages to the full. We now have the responsibility for the funding for the next few years. In this regard, we must neither allow cutbacks nor cause delays.
Tomasz Piotr Poręba (ECR), in writing. − (PL) The European Parliament’s consent to enter into an agreement on the promotion, use and provision of the GALILEO and GPS satellite-based navigation systems signifies an important step in strengthening cooperation between the EU and the United States. It coincides with the recent launch into orbit, on Friday 21 October, of the first pair of satellites for Europe’s global navigation satellite system. The entire system is planned to become fully operational in 2014.
Taking into account the fact that the GPS and GALILEO systems are fully compatible with each other, cooperation in this sphere will bring about an increase in the number of satellites visible from any position on the Earth’s surface, which in turn, will improve access to navigation signals for users all over the world. Moreover, when the agreement comes into force it will enable satellite navigation users to access a wide range of higher-level services, which will be of huge importance not only for persons using navigation systems in their cars, but it will also ensure more efficient management of road transport and the operation of rescue services, as well as guaranteeing safer banking transactions and more reliable electricity supplies. For these reasons, too, I supported this report.
Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. − (PT) The GALILEO programme is one of Europe’s most oft-cited research projects. Given its scope, which requires a great capacity for investment, there is a justification for public involvement and subsidies, on the one hand, and for opening up its results to major trading partners, on the other, in order to make the enormous financial effort required profitable. For these reasons, the adoption of the agreement concluded between the European Union and the United States is justified, with a view to cooperation in the field of satellite navigation.
Robert Rochefort (ALDE), in writing. – (FR) Technology sharing is vital if we are to disseminate innovations effectively and maximise usage. This will be possible under the agreement between the European Union and the United States on the promotion, provision and use of the European GALILEO and US GPS satellite navigation systems. That is the thrust of the recommendation put forward by Mr Reul, which I welcome. The recommendation endorses the development of a global navigation system for civilian, commercial and scientific use, based on permanent and reciprocal use of the US and European systems. I am also delighted that the parties have set up working groups. This is certainly crucial to promoting system interoperability, which is the key to successful technology sharing.
Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. − In favour. The European Parliament, having regard to the draft Council decision (11117/2011), having regard to the draft Agreement on the promotion, provision and use of GALILEO and GPS satellite-based navigation systems and related applications between the European Community and its Member States, of the one part, and the United States of America, of the other part (11575/2011), having regard to the request for consent submitted by the Council in accordance with Articles 171 and 172 and Article 218(6), second subparagraph, point (a) and Article 218(8), of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (C7-0185/2011), having regard to Rules 81, 90(7) and 46(1) of its Rules of Procedure, having regard to the recommendation of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (A7-0332/2011),
1. Consents to the conclusion of the agreement;
2. Instructs its President to forward its position to the Council, the Commission and the governments and parliaments of the Member States and of the United States of America.
Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. − (PT) Europe’s GALILEO project has a 100% European base, so it is viewed by many as another benchmark for a European identity. The launch of the first two satellites on 21 October is only the start of a constellation of 30 satellites. This intelligent satellite navigation system will develop and improve countless applications and services, not least for a smart transport system, for search and rescue services, for secure financial transactions and for the supply of electricity. European independence from the US’s Global Positioning System (GPS) was one of the GALILEO project’s initial objectives. However, interoperability and compatibility work between the two has enabled the signing of this cooperation agreement. Following four years of negotiations, users of both navigation systems – GALILEO and GPS – will be able to make use of both with the same equipment. Even in its embryonic stage, the scale of this project demonstrates that GALILEO has a potential market of 3 billion users, and that its success will benefit the European market, particularly small and medium-sized enterprises. It is estimated that it will generate EUR 90 billion over 20 years, and bring countless benefits to the public and society.
Silvia-Adriana Ţicău (S&D), in writing. – (RO) I voted in favour of the conclusion of the Agreement on the promotion, provision and use of GALILEO and GPS satellite-based navigation systems and related applications between the EU and US. This agreement provides the framework for cooperation between the parties in promoting, supplying and using civil GPS and GALILEO navigation and timing signals and services, value-added services, supplementary devices and global navigation and timing equipment.
The US manages the Global Positioning System (GPS), a dual use system that provides precision timing, navigation services and position location signals for civil and military purposes. The US provides the civil GPS system free of direct user charges and intends to continue providing this service under the same conditions in the future too.
The EU is developing and plans to operate the GALILEO system, a civil global satellite navigation, timing and positioning system which is radio frequency-compatible with GPS and interoperable with civil GPS services at user level. Civil GPS and GALILEO services could increase the accuracy and accessibility of navigation signals for civil users worldwide.
We call on the Commission and Council to increase the research budget for GNSS services and applications so that GALILEO can be used to its planned capacity, after completion.
Thomas Ulmer (PPE), in writing. − (DE) This agreement opens up further combined positive effects in satellite navigation and technology that go well beyond the previous GPS, thus having a positive impact on the infrastructure throughout the world. The contractual rules mutually agreed with the United States have been properly defined. I took pleasure in voting in favour.
Janusz Władysław Zemke (S&D), in writing. – (PL) I welcome the fact that negotiations between the European Union and the US on the promotion, provision and use of GALILEO and GPS satellite-based navigation systems have ended. This process has taken a very long time, because the origins of the talks go back to 1999. It should be stressed that at the moment only temporary agreements are in force. It is time to replace these with a permanent agreement, because after some years of trials, the GALILEO system is beginning to develop.
An agreement on the reciprocal use of GPS and GALILEO systems will clearly be beneficial to millions of users of these navigation systems. By ensuring the compatibility of radio frequencies and increasing the number of available navigation signals, the quality and precision of navigation with both GALILEO and GPS will improve. This will give added value to these services. This agreement is a success for the whole of the Union and for all of its Member States.
Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. − (PT) I am voting for this report, since it was the subject of proposals submitted by the Committee on Regional Development to the Committee on Budgets. Given the great pressure on public budgets, parliaments need to be creative when attempting to rebalance their budgets. In addition to the unsustainably high level of sovereign debt and budget deficits, growing social inequalities in all European societies call for far-reaching initiatives. The establishment of the common internal market for the benefit of business and consumers was the core argument in favour of almost all European directives in the area of corporate taxation. Unfortunately, in combination with the persisting ideology of absolute independence for national legislators in the area of taxation, very detrimental effects became more and more significant. As such, a thorough revision of the Council directive on the common system of taxation applicable in the case of parent companies and subsidiaries of different Member States is indispensable at the moment.
Sophie Auconie (PPE), in writing. –(FR) The European Parliament is only consulted on certain issues. Parliament then produces an opinion that is not legally binding. In this case, the European Parliament has been consulted on the proposed amendments to the tax system applicable to parent companies with subsidiaries in different Member States. I voted in favour of the opinion produced by Mr Giegold, which proposes minor changes that are intended to avoid extreme forms of under-taxation and non-taxation.
Liam Aylward and Pat the Cope Gallagher (ALDE), in writing. − We voted against this report due to several references to minimum rates of taxation. The setting of tax rates – including corporation tax – is the responsibility of each Member State. This right is enshrined in the protocols attached to the Treaty of Lisbon.
Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D), in writing. − (LT) I welcomed this report. On 1 April 1987, the Commission decided that all acts should be codified after no more than ten amendments to ensure that their provisions are clear and readily understandable (merging all the legislative acts regulating a certain area into one document). The purpose of this proposal is to undertake a codification of Council Directive 90/435/CEE on the common system of taxation applicable in the case of parent companies and subsidiaries of different Member States, which will supersede the various acts incorporated into it and will provide stakeholders with more clarity.
Vilija Blinkevičiūtė (S&D), in writing. − (LT) I voted in favour of this report because social inequality is increasing ever more in Europe and it is necessary to take specific initiatives to contain this phenomenon. In each European Union Member State, individuals and undertakings are subject to different systems of taxation. National tax bases are almost always illegal. In order to stop this we should supplement the existing directive as a matter of urgency and integrate more stringent anti-abuse provisions. One of the main objectives of the amendment of this directive is thus to facilitate multinational mergers and also to limit tax base erosion by European Union corporations, making the inflow of dividends from third country subsidiaries subject to minimum requirements. Another issue that will have to be addressed in the future is that of double-non-taxation. The Commission has already presented a proposal for a Common Consolidated Corporate Tax Base, and this addresses part of the problem. However, this measure can only be effective if the possibilities for corporate tax evasion in the EU are limited in future.
Jan Březina (PPE), in writing. - (CS) The case of Switzerland, which is covered by the European directive under a bilateral agreement between Switzerland and the EU, shows how many holes there are in the EU’s current tax system. The dividends received from Swiss subsidiaries by EU parent companies are not subject to taxation or can be deducted anywhere within the EU. The state thus loses out to the multinational companies that avoid their tax responsibilities and contributions to public coffers in this way. I therefore agree with the implementation of a requirement that when no taxation to outbound flows is allowed, a 25% minimum tax rate has to be applicable in the inbound state. I therefore support the integration of stronger anti abuse provisions into the directive. The inflow of dividends from third country subsidiaries must, within the scope of the directive, be subject to minimum requirements, in order to limit tax base erosion by EU corporations. In contrast to this, I do not agree with the implementation of a common consolidated corporate tax base as a measure to tackle double-non-taxation. This measure will not help to limit the possibilities for corporate tax evasion in the EU, or to ease the compliance burden of businesses, but it will limit tax competition on the single market, undermining its competitiveness.
Nikolaos Chountis (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (EL) The European Parliament report on a common system of taxation in the case of parent companies and subsidiaries of different Member States is based on a previous Council directive and basically recasts and simply codifies it. I abstained, because the report in question rightly notes that there is a race to the bottom of corporation rates in the EU and non-taxation or double non-taxation. Also, the report itself recognises that simple codification is not a solution to all these problems. However, within the framework being laid down and its intentions perhaps notwithstanding, it is unable to provide a convincing response and to distinguish itself from EU policies applied to date. As a result, in essence it simply codifies – and hence maintains – the prevailing EU tax policy, which is a far cry from a socially fair, acceptable and common European tax policy, a growth-oriented and distributive tax policy which is able to address the serious problem of tax shopping, of effective control and taxation of offshore companies and of the notorious tax havens springing up in the EU.
Lara Comi (PPE), in writing. − (IT) I am in favour of the revision of the Council directive on the common system of taxation. The unsustainably high level of sovereign debt in the EU calls for a common European approach in order to alleviate the effects of the current financial crisis. In recent years, we have seen a fall in the average EU corporate tax rate (from 44% to 23.2%), together with the introduction of EU legislation which tackles double taxation for European corporations.
This is resulting in an inevitable ‘race to the bottom’ of tax rates, in long-term non-taxation, and even in double non-taxation. I would also emphasise the problems that arise when multinational companies make profit in subsidiaries in tax havens outside the EU which attract capital flows by applying zero or limited taxation. The state loses out against multinational corporations which no longer pay their fair share towards financing public needs.
I therefore endorse the imposition of a 25% minimum tax rate applicable in the inbound State and the introduction of measures to tackle double non-taxation. This directive will undoubtedly manage to reduce Member States’ sovereign debt and mitigate the economic differences caused by the different tax systems of countries inside and outside the EU.
Corina Creţu (S&D), in writing. – (RO) The average EU corporate tax rate decreased from 44% in 1980 to 35% in 1995 and finally to 23.2% in 2010. However, there are different tax systems operating, and double taxation of companies is dealt with using bilateral agreements and EU legislation.
I support the proposal for a common European approach so as to stop and reverse the trend to set the standard corporate tax rate at a lower level. I also believe that stronger anti-abuse provisions are required, along with measures to limit tax base erosion by EU corporations.
Cornelis de Jong (GUE/NGL), in writing. − (NL) Today I voted in favour of the recast of the common tax system applicable to parent companies with subsidiaries in different Member States (Giegold), because that is a step in the right direction. Nevertheless, this does not alter the fact that we are going to need a more fundamental change if we are to entirely resolve the problems of tax avoidance and evasion effected through, for example, letterbox companies.
Christine De Veyrac (PPE), in writing. – (FR) I supported the adoption of this report on further changes to the tax system applied to parent companies and subsidiaries in the Union. I support the position adopted by the relevant committee, which advocates restricting the scope of this in order to prevent companies being under-taxed or not taxed at all.
Edite Estrela (S&D), in writing. − (PT) I voted for this report because I consider it essential to review the directive on the common system of taxation applicable in the case of parent companies and subsidiaries of different Member States, so as to facilitate multinational mergers and, therefore, eliminate double taxation of income in the form of dividends.
Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. – (PT) Although I will continue to argue that fiscal sovereignty should be sacrosanct and that fiscal competition generates profits for the internal market, I must also agree that it is vital that there be common rules in a common economic area, in which many countries share the same currency, in order to avoid double taxation or non-taxation. The fiscal independence of the Member States cannot be a cover for tax evasion or unequal tax treatment, so I am voting for the amendments being introduced to the Parents-Subsidiary Directive.
José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. − (PT) This report, by Mr Giegold, analyses a proposal for a Council directive on the common system of taxation applicable in the case of parent companies and subsidiaries of different Member States. The current financial and economic crisis has been making it difficult to draft the budgets for 2012. The Member States will have to make an additional effort in order to reduce expenditure and rebalance their budgets. This makes it essential to review the current tax system. The single market, as an integral part of the European project, still demonstrates many discrepancies between the Member States, which have been corrected using directives. One of the sources of many injustices within the EU is the tax system, which is to the detriment of businesses and consumers. There is, therefore, an urgent need for fiscal harmonisation that brings an end to tax havens, to double taxation and to capital flight from one Member State to another. I welcome the adoption of this report, which recommends a thorough review of the Council directive, so as to put a stop to existing shortcomings, not least double non-taxation, tax evasion and non-payment towards financing social needs. Finally, I hope this will contribute to strengthening small and medium-sized enterprises.
Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D), in writing. - (SK) Parliaments must be creative when it comes to restoring equilibrium, and not only in relation to the financial crisis. In addition to unsustainably high levels of government debt and budget deficits, social inequalities are also on the increase in all European countries. The single market is an integral part of the European project, but it also limits Member State sovereignty, particularly in the area of taxation. The creation of a common internal market to the benefit of businesses and consumers was the main reason behind the adoption of almost all of the European directives in the area of income tax on private individuals. The idea of absolute independence for national lawmakers in the area of taxation, however, does not look favourable. Competition in the area of taxation is stagnating in the EU, policy-making in the public sector is delayed, and it is also more difficult to ensure a more sustainable and socially integrated society, since movement of capital and profits is very easy and lucrative for some people, and at the same time unavailable to others.
A thorough revision of the Council directive on the common system of taxation applicable in the case of parent companies and subsidiaries of different Member States, and aimed at facilitating multinational mergers, is therefore necessary now. Various individual Member State tax systems apply to people and businesses in the EU, and state protection of the tax base is almost always unlawful. I therefore believe that a common European approach is needed in order to correct this situation.
Bruno Gollnisch (NI), in writing. – (FR) This is the very first time that I have abstained on a report on tax. The explanatory statement is the main reason for my decision. In it, the rapporteur specifically states that the legislation currently in force, combined with the freedom of movement of capital, allows large multinational groups to fiddle around with the location of different subsidiaries in order to avoid paying corporation tax in full. Some call that tax optimisation. I call it fraud. In France, the average tax paid by the large companies in the CAC 40 is 10%, while SMEs are taxed at the full rate. Both the practice of locating subsidiaries in tax havens for the sole purpose of harbouring part of the profits generated elsewhere and the use of transfer prices are scandalous and must be halted. In legitimately seeking to minimise dual taxation, the legislation has actually created myriad opportunities for non-taxation, under-taxation, tax avoidance and even fraud. In fact, I now have a very different take on the common consolidated corporate tax base championed by Parliament, which would prevent multinationals from engaging in this unhealthy and loathsome charade within the European Union.
Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. − (LT) I welcomed this document because, according to the Consultative Working Party of the legal services of the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission, the proposal in question does not include any substantive amendments other than those identified as such in the proposal and, as regards the codification of the unchanged provisions of the earlier acts together with those amendments, the proposal contains a straightforward codification of the existing texts, without any change to their substance.
Krišjānis Kariņš (PPE), in writing. – (LV) I voted for the report on a proposal for a Council directive on the common system of taxation applicable in the case of parent companies and subsidiaries of different Member States, because I believe that we must achieve a more transparent and simpler method of tax collection, one which would help lighten the administrative burden on businesses. Similarly, we should not tolerate a situation where enterprises are obliged to pay tax both in their home country and in the country in which their subsidiary or permanent establishment carries on business. Since many Latvian enterprises have the potential to earn profits abroad, we must lay down beneficial and clear rules of the game as to where profits derived from outside Latvia are to be taxed. These changes in the directive are among many that will create a more favourable tax environment for business.
Petru Constantin Luhan (PPE), in writing. – (RO) Due to the fiscal competition between EU Member States, the average EU tax rate on profits fell from 44% in 1980 to 23.2% in 2010. At the same time, some economic operators have increased access to capital and profit transfers, while others are deprived of this opportunity. This means that it is difficult to promote a sustainable society that is socially and economically integrated. People and economic operators doing their business across the European Union benefit from tax systems that vary between Member States. Double taxation of companies is dealt with by bilateral agreements and EU legislation.
I think that we need a joint European approach, while we have to prevent this trend of excessively reducing the rates of tax on profits. Furthermore, additional measures are required for dealing with double taxation to prevent misunderstandings or attempts to defraud Member States.
This is why an in-depth review of the EU directives on a common system of taxation is required now.
David Martin (S&D), in writing. − I voted for this resolution as I believe a thorough revision of the Council directive on the common system of taxation applicable in the case of parent companies and subsidiaries of different Member States is needed.
Mario Mauro (PPE), in writing. − (IT) The room for manoeuvre to decide autonomously decreases continuously as the movement of capital in the EU becomes easier. The problem, however, remains the different tax systems in the Member States. I support Mr Giegold’s report since it encourages the harmonisation and approximation of tax laws.
Mairead McGuinness (PPE), in writing. − I do not support the amendments to the recast in this text that refer to minimum rates of taxation. Taxation is, and should remain, a Member State competence. For this reason, I voted against this report.
Jean-Luc Mélenchon (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (FR) This report claims to tackle fiscal dumping by minimum harmonisation of the corporation tax that subsidiaries pay to parent companies. Seventy per cent of the average legal corporate tax rate applicable in the Member States barely equates to 16.24% tax. This is much less than the VAT rates that the Member States unfairly impose on their entire population, under pressure from the Troika. This is a limited proposal. It may also be used as a fiscal loophole. However, it does send out the right signal since it goes against the ban on fiscal harmonisation contained in the Treaty of Lisbon. I voted in favour of it.
Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. − The change introduced by the S&D Group is aimed at avoiding extreme forms of non-taxation and under-taxation by asking a Member State to refrain from taxing distributed profits of a parent company received from a subsidiary in another Member State only if those profits have been taxed in the country of the subsidiary at a statutory corporate tax rate not lower than 70% of the average statutory corporate tax applicable in the Member States. I support the report with our change and I voted in favour.
Rolandas Paksas (EFD), in writing. − (LT) I welcome this resolution because the common system of taxation applicable in the case of parent companies and subsidiaries of different Member States will facilitate multinational mergers. The tax disadvantages suffered by companies from different Member States, compared to companies of the same Member State, will also be eliminated.
Such legal rules will therefore protect national tax revenues and, moreover, the particularly strict measures provided for in the directive will end abuse and double taxation.
Georgios Papanikolaou (PPE), in writing. – (EL) I voted in favour of this report. The current directive on taxation needs to be reviewed. Despite the fact that the basic objective of the single internal market is to benefit consumers and undertakings, the imposition of different tax rates by the Member States is seriously distorting competition, even today.
Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. − (PT) I agree with the rapporteur when he says that national protection of the tax base is almost always illegal and that a common European approach is needed to prevent it. The great pressure on public budgets requires parliaments to be creative when attempting to rebalance their budgets. It is important to be aware of the phenomenon and introduce stronger anti-abuse provisions into the directive. I voted for this report for these reasons.
Aldo Patriciello (PPE), in writing. − (IT) The unsustainably high level of sovereign debt and budget deficits requires the nations to rebalance their budgets. The persisting ideology of absolute independence for national legislators in the area of taxation is reducing the room for manoeuvre available to alleviate the problem. Against this general background, the existence of tax advantages for some businesses at European level, reflecting the growing social inequalities in all European societies, is enabling easy and lucrative capital and profit shifting. Therefore, a thorough revision of the Council directive on the system of taxation is necessary in order to reduce the differences in national tax systems and to resolve the double taxation and double non-taxation issues, by means of stronger anti-abuse provisions.
Miguel Portas (GUE/NGL), in writing. − (PT) Tax competition between the countries of the European Union has been restricting public policy’s room for manoeuvre. This competition has meant that average rates of corporate tax have decreased from 44% in 1980, to 35% in 1995 and, finally, to 23.2% in 2010. The need to reverse this downward spiral in corporate tax rates, to prevent tax evasion when transferring dividends, to prevent tax evasion, and to solve the double taxation problem constitute the objectives of the directive that is the subject of this report. I voted for this report because it proposes combating tax evasion and putting a stop to the double taxation of companies that meet their obligations.
Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. − (PT) Europe’s integration process has almost entirely passed by the taxation systems of the Member States, where a strict notion of sovereignty still predominates; fiscal sovereignty, in this case. However, this posture of inertia has led to veritable ‘lex shopping’ – since the Court of Justice clearly considers this acceptable when companies are being set up – which creates additional problems for the Member States. As regards the tax system to apply to parent companies and subsidiaries, for example, in a small number of cases, the double taxation principle means that value added is not taxed where the subsidiary is located but left to the country housing the parent company. This ends up being problematic, in that the location for the head office is chosen for reasons of ‘tax competition’. The figures are problematic: corporation tax in the EU decreased from 44% in 1980 to 35% in 1995. The current figure is 23.2%. There is therefore a need to adopt a common policy enabling this specific problem to be tackled, as the intervention of any Member State in isolation would be condemned to have little practical effect. I voted in favour for these reasons.
Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. − In favour. Under current EU legislation, multinationals can play the different national tax systems against each other to effectively avoid their tax responsibility. Double non-taxation is one of the various loopholes which deprive national exchequers of legitimate revenue and urgently need toughening up. Today’s vote to strengthen the parent-subsidiary directive would be an important step forward in tackling this problem.
Crucially, MEPs have called for the introduction of a minimum effective tax rate on profits under the parent-subsidiary directive. EU member states and EU Taxation Commissioner Šemeta must now take this seriously. This means coming up with a revised legislative proposal that will properly prevent the shunting of profits around Europe by parent companies to avoid being corporate tax at the legitimate level. The Council should abstain from adopting the recasted directive, which serves as the legal basis for large scale tax avoidance schemes in the EU. In times of public austerity, the EU cannot afford to be soft on tax avoidance.
Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. − (PT) The Council directive, of 23 July 1990, on the common system of taxation applicable in the case of parent companies and subsidiaries of different Member States has been amended a number of times. As changes to this system are envisaged in the future, the recasting of the entire text is crucial for reasons of clarity and legal certainty. The European Parliament has decided, however, to table a number of amendments to the proposal, specifically to limit extreme forms of under-taxation or non-taxation, which were unanimously adopted in committee, and which I backed in the vote on the report in plenary.
Angelika Werthmann (NI), in writing. − (DE) As tax competition in the EU has become a deadlock for Member States’ room of manoeuvre in public sector policies, the average corporate tax rate has decreased from 44% in 1980 to 23.2% in 2010. Where permanent establishments are concerned, the Member States need to establish legal instruments in order to protect the national tax revenue and to avoid under-taxation or non-taxation. We absolutely must take measures to counter the competition for low corporate tax rates (tax shopping) by applying a 25% minimum tax rate in the inbound state where taxation of outbound capital flows is not permitted.
Sophie Auconie (PPE), in writing. – (FR) The new prerogatives accorded to the European Parliament under the Treaty of Lisbon include approving the financial rules for the Union’s annual budget. In view of the current crisis, we need to prove that we are responsible. Consequently, it is important to ensure that the budget is applied effectively and transparently. I therefore voted in favour of the report by Mr Rivellini and Ms Gräßle.
Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D), in writing. − (LT) I voted in favour of this report on the review of the EU Financial Regulation. The regulation laid down the budgetary principles and financial rules governing the establishment and implementation of the general budget, ensuring sound and effective management, control and protection of the financial interests of the Union, as well as increasing transparency, to be respected in all legislative acts and by all institutions. I believe that the draft regulation proposed by Parliament simplifies EU financial rules and makes them more precise, taking into account the EU’s current circumstances and future challenges, and also ensures that there is greater transparency in the EU budget and improves its efficiency and effectiveness.
Jan Březina (PPE), in writing. - (CS) I welcome the attempt to simplify the budget policy rules from an administrative and financing perspective during the individual programme and project phases (submission of applications, evaluation and management), which the participants should benefit from as a matter of priority. Science and research are uncertain processes incorporating a specific risk, and funding based on results can restrict the aims of research projects to less risky projects and market-oriented research, which would frustrate top-level, cutting-edge research in the EU. Excessively strict interpretation of the financial regulation in recent years has unfortunately led to a general attempt to avoid risks and to a complete absence of trust in the participants in research programmes, reducing the effectiveness of implementation. The funding of European research should be based more on mutual trust and responsible partnership, tolerating risk in relation to participants in all phases, and with flexible EU rules applied in accordance with national rules and procedures. The evaluation of funding in the field of research should be based on the nature of the research and focused on top quality, importance and impact. Simplification is not a separate aim, but a means to ensuring the attractiveness and availability of EU funding intended for research. The simplification measures should also make it easier to limit errors.
Alain Cadec (PPE), in writing. – (FR) I welcome the progress contained in the new financial rules adopted by Parliament. In particular, management of the Structural Funds will be made simpler through clearer procedures. However, the process of simplification is not yet complete. A lot remains to be done in order to reduce the workload for the Funds’ beneficiaries and public administrations. We will make sure that the new rules on the Structural Funds work towards that end.
Cornelis de Jong (GUE/NGL), in writing. − (NL) The Belgian Socialist Party has fundamental objections to risky innovative EU funding instruments.
Edite Estrela (S&D), in writing. − (PT) I voted for the report on ‘financial rules applicable to the annual budget of the Union’, because it tables important proposals, with a view to the goal of revising budgetary implementation mechanisms, which should be efficient, simple and transparent, and their harmonisation with the Treaty of Lisbon. The budget is a crucial tool for implementing European Union policy, so it is important that its mechanisms be adapted to the current economic context and to the future political challenges of the EU.
Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. – (PT) In the current economic climate, it is vital that the financial mechanisms available to the European Union and its Member States be able operate as efficiently as possible, so as to enable the implementation of European policies and ensure the greatest possible transparency in how the taxpayer’s money is used. In order for this to happen, it is vital that these mechanisms be simple and transparent, and that the administrative and bureaucratic burden falling on the beneficiaries of European funding be reduced. The amendments to the Commission’s proposal, for which the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) voted, have improved the original text and are moving in the direction favoured by everyone who wants a more agile, dynamic and, at the same time, clearer EU as regards the procedures that it uses and the way in which it implements and makes available its funds.
José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. − (PT) This report, drafted by my colleagues, Ms Gräßle and Mr Rivellini, concerns the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and the Council on the financial rules applicable to the annual budget of the Union. The budgetary principles and rules governing the drafting and implementation of the general EU budget are laid down in Council Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 1605/2002, while the rules for its implementation are laid down in Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 2342/2002, of 23 December 2002, which instituted the Financial Regulation applicable to the general budget of the European Communities. All these regulations now have to be adapted to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. As such, and taking account of the report by the Committee on Budgets and the Committee on Budgetary Control, as well as of the opinions of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy and the Committee on Regional Development, I am voting for this proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and the Council on the financial rules applicable to the annual budget of the Union.
Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D), in writing. - (SK) The general objectives of the new regulation on budgetary rules are essentially in accordance with overall objectives relating to the implementation of EU policies, while at the same guaranteeing compliance with the principle of sound financial management. The regulation on budgetary rules and its implementing regulation, as well as the Multiannual Financial Framework and its annual budgets have a direct impact on European policy in the area of research, development and innovation. One of the main objectives of the regulation on budgetary rules should be to achieve a proper balance between the principle of financial responsibility and the principle of flexibility for beneficiaries.
It is pleasing to see greater efforts being made towards simplifying the administrative and financial rules for framework programmes over the entire lifecycle of programmes and projects (submission of application, assessment and management), which should particularly benefit the participants. Funding must be changed in Europe in such a way as to ensure mutual trust and partnership based on responsibility. In my opinion, it is also right to tolerate a certain level of risk in relation to the participants in all stages, and last but not least, it is important to apply flexible EU rules in accordance with national rules and procedures.
Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. − (LT) I welcomed this document because the 2002 Council regulation on the Financial Regulation applicable to the general budget of the European Communities has been substantially amended several times, and now further amendments are needed, including changes to take account of amendments introduced by the Treaty of Lisbon. This regulation laid down the budgetary principles and financial rules governing the establishment and implementation of the general budget, ensuring sound and effective management, control and protection of the financial interests of the Union, as well as increasing transparency, to be respected in all legislative acts and by all institutions.
Giovanni La Via (PPE), in writing. − (IT) First of all, I should like to congratulate Ms Gräßle and Mr Rivellini for their valuable work which has led to the adoption of the financial rules applicable to the annual budget of the Union. In fact, I believe that Europe’s current set-up is efficient, precisely because it has good rules for monitoring the implementation, management and financial reporting of EU resources. These are highly technical rules which – thanks in part to the recent innovations concerning the Union’s structure and functioning introduced by the Treaty of Lisbon – have proved over the years to be in need of amending and updating. In conclusion, I believe that the text adopted today is an excellent result in this respect.
David Martin (S&D), in writing. − I welcome the objectives of this report: to bring greater simplification, transparency and accountability in the use of EU funds as well as ensuring that these funds are used more effectively in the future. However, I am not convinced that we have yet been successful in the goal of simplification.
Jean-Luc Mélenchon (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (FR) This report endorses the principle of public-private partnerships, which are a source of waste and plundering promoted by the Commission. I voted against.
Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. − The report suggests changing the financial rules so as to simplify procedures and initiate the new governance of the EU budget in crisis situations. I voted in favour.
Andreas Mölzer (NI), in writing. − (DE) It is highly problematic when, during the budgetary procedure – and this includes the discharge procedure – the dialogue with the individual institutions does not run smoothly, as was the case with the Council’s discharge. The Treaty of Lisbon strengthened the role of the European Parliament. However, as long as the EU fails to get to grips with the combating of fraud and billions continue to be senselessly squandered in this regard, not to mention other areas where money is wasted, such as the European travel circus with the two or three locations for Parliament and, in particular, the proliferation of EU agencies, ‘sound and effective management’ will be out of the question, as will transparency. I therefore rejected the report on the financial rules.
Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. − (PT) I voted for the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and the Council on the financial rules applicable to the annual budget of the Union. This should contribute to the better implementation of the Union budget, which I hope will be channelled into growth, employment and innovation in the European Union, and into support for development and democracy in neighbouring countries, as I advocated during the debate.
Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. − (PT) The regulation on the financial rules applicable to the annual budget of the Union is revised every three years, and this is the first time Parliament has been involved in the codecision procedure, as a result of the rules introduced by the Treaty of Lisbon. This regulation is intended to be simple and efficient, optimising the results of political action. It also introduces accountability mechanisms, essential to the European Parliament’s activities as a control body. I therefore voted in favour.
Crescenzio Rivellini (PPE), in writing. - (IT) The report on the proposal for a regulation on the financial rules applicable to the annual budget of the Union, on which I served as rapporteur alongside Ms Gräßle, lays an economic and legal foundation for the Financial Regulation, which today is made firmer with the prospect of financial changes designed to bring about innovation in Europe through the promotion and improvement of infrastructural investments, guarantees and financial methods.
We must spend the resources available to us in the most constructive way possible, investing in the sectors most likely to bring about growth and progress for Europe – a more integrated, competitive Europe equipped with enough resources to move ahead with shared policies and to take the lead on the international stage. Today, the first task must be to stimulate public investors, private investors and the governments of individual Member States to take more courageous action in the financial and economic sphere and, within this framework of mutual cooperation, to tackle any opposition arising from democratic confrontation. In this sense, issuing new financial instruments represents a key aspect of the regulation and supports the market and the financial system of the Union and the Member States.
Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. − It was finally agreed to refer this report back to committee.
Bogusław Sonik (PPE), in writing. – (PL) The European Parliament adopted its draft EU budget for 2012 today at a level of EUR 147 766 billion in commitment appropriations. Most Members considered that the Europe 2020 strategy is a key priority for next year’s budget, so we guaranteed appropriate funding for the measures and policies which are part of this strategy. In relation to this, we decided amongst other things on an increase in payments for research and innovation, cohesion policy and education. More money was also given to management of migration and refugee flows, among other things.
The European Parliament has always given financial support to policies related to youth, education and mobility, so we increased funds for such programmes as the Lifelong Learning Programme, which finances among other things the Erasmus grants which are so popular with young people, and the Youth in Action Programme. Attention should also be drawn to Parliament’s proposal to increase funding for the Seventh Framework Programme and programmes related to promoting competitiveness and innovation in small and medium-sized enterprises, because after all the competitiveness of European firms is going to have a crucial influence on the EU’s level of economic growth.
Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. − (PT) The European Commission has drafted a proposal for a regulation on the financial rules applicable to the annual budget of the Union, which provides for the mobilisation of approximately EUR 126 billion. In this regulation, the Commission argues that the mechanisms for implementing the budget should function more efficiently and facilitate the implementation of EU policy, whilst simultaneously guaranteeing simpler and more transparent usage. I agree with the detailed contents of the Commission proposal, above all because it advocates increased simplification of procedures relating to subsidies, a more results-oriented approach and increased Member State responsibility for spending funds. I believe that the Commission and the competent authorities in the Member States should ensure that actions financed by the budget are actually carried out, undertake checks, and institute a rigorous, effective and consistent system of controls. I would also argue that the EU budget should act as a catalyst for investments made by the private sector, in particular small and medium-sized enterprises, so supporting the reinvigoration of the economy, the creation of jobs and the generation of wealth.
Silvia-Adriana Ţicău (S&D), in writing. – (RO) The report on the proposal for a regulation on the financial rules applicable to the annual budget of the Union underlines the importance of preserving and strengthening the key aspects of the financial reform: the role of the financial actors and internal auditors, the integration of controls in operational services, activity-based budgeting and the modernisation of the basic principles on grants.
I voted for Amendment 273, which stipulates that financial operations benefiting from an EU financial instrument cannot give rise to tax evasion activities. In practical terms, the financial operators managing the relevant financial instruments will be jointly liable with any perpetrators for financial losses arising from the infringement of this provision. I voted for Amendment 302, which sets out the conditions which EU financial instruments need to comply with. I also voted for Amendment 304, which obliges the Commission to submit annual reports to the budgetary authority on the activities supported by financial instruments, on the financial institutions involved in their implementation, on the performance of financial instruments, including reinvestments made, revenues and repayments, the multiplier effect achieved and the value of participations. I voted for Amendment 278, which calls on the Commission to publish in the annual report a list of the final beneficiaries of the financial instruments and the amounts of financing they received. I also voted for Amendment 305, which calls on the Commission to present precise, consistent and transparent rules of procedure for audits.
Derek Vaughan (S&D), in writing. − I supported many of the measures contained in this report as they are key to cutting down on bureaucracy and simplifying the rules laid out for all financial transactions taken by the European institutions. I believe that an overly prescriptive approach would not work and, as such, supported the position of my group that would allow for vital flexibility within the parameters set out in the regulation. I think that Parliament now has a strong position to take forward into negotiations to reach a sustainable and satisfactory conclusion to this report, which will allow for greater transparency, accountability and sound management of funds.
Laima Liucija Andrikienė (PPE), in writing. − I voted in favour of the resolution on the Agenda for New Skills and Jobs. The economic, financial and social crisis now affecting Europe highlights the weaknesses of the European economic and social model. The draft adopted by the Commission in November 2010 entitled ‘An agenda for new skills and jobs: a European contribution towards full employment’ is part of the Europe 2020 strategy, representing the Commission’s contribution towards achieving the Member States’ ambitious goal of 75% employment for the 20-64 age group by 2020. In attaining this goal, the Commission proposed action in four main areas: furthering labour market reform, updating people’s skills in line with labour market requirements through training programmes, improving the quality of labour legislation and action to ensure labour market conditions. I support this proposal, which suggests several improvements; the reduction of administrative burdens and red tape for SMEs, measures to improve the work-life balance, the need to improve the directive on the temporary posting of workers, the need for further progress on the mutual recognition of qualifications as between the EU and third countries and closer cooperation between educational institutions and the world of business.
Roberta Angelilli (PPE), in writing. − (IT) The economic crisis which we have been experiencing since 2008 has caused the loss of 5.6 million jobs, and currently 9.5% of the active population in Europe is unemployed, with undoubted negative repercussions on growth and welfare in the Member States.
The Agenda for New Skills and Jobs forms part of the Europe 2020 strategy in order to help achieve a 75% employment rate for the 20-64 age group. The difficulties still faced by workers and SMEs are worrying. However, the Union has the capacity to meet this challenge and increase the employment rate, but we need practical measures and a coordinated response by the Member States in order to stimulate sustainable growth.
We need to promote market flexibility and security, as well as invest in closer integration between education, training and work, by, on the one hand, preventing early school leaving and encouraging vocational training, and, on the other, creating measures targeted at young people with a view to their integration on the labour market even before they have finished formal education.
Elena Oana Antonescu (PPE), in writing. – (RO) Recent economic and labour market trends combined with future challenges, such as demographic change and the transition to a sustainable economy, require improvements in terms of employment, education and work organisation strategies in order to make the European Union more competitive, provide better working and living conditions and create new jobs, thereby promoting smart growth combining employment, social protection, as well as sustainable production and lifestyles. The challenges to be tackled as a matter of priority also include the insufficient skill levels that many workers currently have, as well as the low rankings some European countries have in terms of education levels, compared with the international situation.
I should also point out the economic arguments for upskilling, labour market integration, social inclusion, combating discrimination effectively and better use of all workers’ skills. I also feel obliged to mention that work-life balance, education and improving human capital have non-economic benefits for the individual as well.
Sophie Auconie (PPE), in writing. – (FR) The EU must grant itself the resources needed to overcome the current economic and financial crisis. As I am convinced that the EU needs to redouble its efforts to stimulate growth and promote job creation, I voted in favour of the report by Ms Bastos. The ‘Agenda for New Skills and Jobs’ ties in with the Europe 2020 strategy, which aims to achieve 75% employment among European citizens aged 20 to 64 by 2020. Other aims include increasing workers’ qualifications, new training options and improving the way that the labour market operates – by reducing red tape for SMEs, for example – all of which will make the EU more competitive.
Liam Aylward (ALDE), in writing. − (GA) I voted in favour of this important report and in favour of the rapporteur’s recommendations in relation to the mutual recognition of qualifications between the Member States of the EU, and especially between Member States and third countries.
The biggest difficulty faced by the youth of the EU is gaining recognition for qualifications conferred on them in other Member States, this happening despite the European Qualifications Framework. It is the uncertainty that exists in relation to questions such as probationary periods for teachers that is mostly a cause for those difficulties. It should be easier for graduates to move from one Member State to another for the purposes of employment and training and there should be mutual recognition of graduates’ qualifications and probationary periods between Member States, and it is up to the EU to ensure this.
Beyond that, I support the emphasis of the rapporteur on the importance of developing the relationship between the business sector and the universities and to strengthening the ‘Business-University’ relationship so that European graduates have the relevant skills and training to achieve the aims of the Europe 2020 strategy.
Jean-Luc Bennahmias (ALDE), in writing. – (FR) Part of the structural unemployment that our societies are experiencing at present is the result of the gap between qualifications, training and recruitment needs. Ms Bastos’s report stresses the importance of anticipating future skills needs so as to ensure that training and education opportunities reflect the realities of the labour market. It seems to me that a better balance between supply and demand is a key factor in employment policy, particularly when it comes to young people. We need to link this strategy on new skills and jobs to the initiative being developed for young people (Youth on the Move). Lastly, I am sad to see that the amendment rejecting the European Commission’s proposal for considering the creation of a single permanent employment contract in the EU with progressive social entitlements has been rejected. This type of contract would only introduce further discrimination and create a new group of workers who would also be more vulnerable because of the absence of full social protection.
Sergio Berlato (PPE), in writing. − (IT) The recent economic and financial crisis has highlighted the weak spots of the European economic and social model: since the first effects of the crisis made themselves felt on the labour markets in 2008, Europe has lost 5.6 million jobs. There are currently around 23 million unemployed in the EU, accounting for 9.5% of the active population, with grave implications for both growth and welfare in Europe. Equally disturbing are the difficulties encountered by some employers in recruiting staff, especially for highly skilled posts. Therefore, in view of the continuing negative effects of the crisis in Europe, it is now a priority to reinforce human capital by updating skills. The Member States have set the ambitious objective of a 75% employment rate by 2020.
In order to achieve this ambitious objective, I believe that the following are essential: the reduction of administrative burdens and red tape for SMEs in order to create jobs; further progress on the mutual recognition of qualifications as between the EU and third countries; closer cooperation between educational institutions and the world of business.
Vilija Blinkevičiūtė (S&D), in writing. – (LT) I voted in favour of this report because it is a really comprehensive and well balanced document, presenting to the European Commission the European Parliament’s opinion on the Agenda for New Skills and Jobs proposed by the Commission. I am especially pleased that the document devotes equal attention to employment issues affecting all age groups, in other words, that we are finally discussing not only the issue of youth unemployment, but also paying attention to unemployment among older people. We really cannot ignore issues faced by any group of people of working age, particularly when many Member States are raising the retirement age of their workers. As far as unemployment among young and older people is concerned, we must find means of promoting solidarity between these generations, rather than confrontation. I am also pleased that in many places the report stresses that employers must cooperate more closely with educational and professional training establishments so that in future we prepare precisely those specialists that the labour market needs most, and to that end also carry out more detailed research of the labour market. The measures proposed by the report to help workers balance work and personal life are equally important.
Sebastian Valentin Bodu (PPE), in writing. – (RO) The economic, financial and social crisis has led to more than 5 million jobs being lost in the three years since it started. Europe sees itself faced with a reality which highlights the weaknesses in its social model. There are more than 23 million unemployed across the EU, accounting for 10% of the working population. This is an alarming figure which puts an immense strain on social protection systems in Europe. At the same time, we have the irony of a labour shortage for posts requiring high qualifications.
Europe is at a crossroads. It is imperative that we move into the black economically and in terms of growth. We must find the path to normality again. Europe must reach a situation where it can help its citizens to update their skills, establish a clearer relationship between education, vocational training and work, develop a suitable skill mix and anticipate better which skills will be sought after in the future so that a balance can be ensured between supply and demand on the labour market. Work must be encouraged and not social assistance. I welcome the Agenda for New Skills and Jobs put forward by the European Commission, a subject on which Parliament is also going to express its views.
Vito Bonsignore (PPE), in writing. – (IT) I voted in favour of the aforementioned report because I think that bolstering professional skills and participation in the labour market is an essential tool for a Europe intending to continue its journey to economic, financial and social recovery. Under the Europe 2020 strategy, the European Commission has set an EU-wide goal of achieving 75% employment in the 20-64 age group, thereby guaranteeing the sustainability of welfare systems and not insignificant improvement in the public finances of the EU Member States.
I therefore think that, in tandem with the approach set out by the Commission and very much in support of Ms Bastos’s position, there are further margins for improvement. I am therefore voting in favour of a report that aims to provide further support for the implementation of specific measures designed to ensure the availability of qualified labour, reduce structural unemployment, improve labour market functioning – making it inclusive – and improving job quality and working conditions.
Jan Březina (PPE), in writing. - (CS) I consider the Agenda for New Skills and Jobs to be an important component of the EU 2020 strategy, as a qualified workforce is the only essential precondition for developing a competitive, sustainable and innovative economy. I support the promotion of integrated approaches bringing together the main players at national, regional and local levels, and I would like to draw attention to the importance of the regional dimension in implementing the Agenda for New Skills and Jobs. It is also necessary to improve the standard and expand the range of employment services provided both to jobseekers and employers, and to make a particular effort in this area to develop individualised public services for the unemployed, young people and vulnerable groups. I consider it essential to ensure the more effective use of funding for the development of new skills, and for Member State governments to participate more in supporting job creation. It is also possible to use the social economy as a means for job creation for less advantaged social groups, which mainly means using the relevant funds and programmes: the European Social Fund, the European Regional Development Fund, the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development, the Lifelong Learning Programme, the Progress Programme and INTERREG. In this context, I would like to emphasise the importance of synergies between the different European funds and the importance of a decentralised approach in the current use of these funds, in order to respond to the requirements of the labour market.
Antonio Cancian (PPE), in writing. – (IT) I voted in favour of the report by Ms Bastos as it deals pragmatically and proactively with the issue of unemployment, a problem that we cannot allow ourselves to neglect. Indeed, the economic crisis has had a significant effect on the labour market, reducing the employment rate in the 20-64 age group to 69% and increasing the rate of unemployment to 10%. In the Europe 2020 strategy, the European Union set itself a target of achieving 75% employment in the 20-64 age group within the next eight years, which translates to an employment growth rate of slightly higher than 1%.
To reach this objective, the report that we have just voted on emphasises four points that I too acknowledge as essential for employment growth and growth of the whole economy: a better functioning labour market; a highly qualified workforce; better working conditions; and muscular policies designed to promote job creation. The proposed agenda is ambitious and that is precisely why we must strive, both in Europe and at the national level, for its implementation.
Maria Da Graça Carvalho (PPE), in writing. − (PT) I welcome the recommendations adopted for creating new jobs. It is important to invest more in job creation, so as to create job opportunities and reduce social exclusion. Small and medium-sized enterprises, in particular, play a key role in economic development and job creation, so the importance ascribed to them in this report should be stressed.
Nikolaos Chountis (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (EL) The report accepts that ‘austerity measures being pursued in a number of Member States have coincided with, and are partly responsible for, very significant increases in unemployment’, ‘regrets the fact that at a time of crisis Member States have reduced their education and training budgets’ and refers at certain points to the need for stable and permanent employment. However, the report’s overall approach is governed by the philosophy of asking the Member States to adapt their policies to market requirements and, leaving the pretexts aside, basically shifts responsibility for lifelong learning on to the workers. Furthermore, remaining within the framework of the EU 2020 strategy, it sees competitiveness and the promotion of ‘employability’ as the basic priority and objective and maintains, inter alia, a flexicurity-type approach. Finally, putting the market and its needs first for the purpose of developing skills and defining new types of jobs, it supports links between undertakings and education establishments and ‘stresses the need to involve employers in the management of education institutions and in the development of courses, teaching methods, apprenticeships and qualification’. As such, although there are a number of positive individual points in it, I voted against the report.
Carlos Coelho (PPE), in writing. − (PT) I am voting for this excellent report by Ms Bastos, through which she lays great stress on the fact that greater balance and linkage between supply and demand in the labour market will only be possible if human capital and employability are strengthened by updating skills. Of the actions proposed by the Commission, I should like to lay particular emphasis on the issue of ‘flexicurity’; in other words, a more flexible labour market, linked to the guarantee of a level of job security. Furthermore, the Commission is attempting to make a significant effort to award people and businesses the necessary and appropriate incentives. This is important if there is to be investment in training and continuous updating of skills in response to changes in labour markets. As Ms Bastos says, there is room for improvement. Of the many suggestions she proposes, I should like to stress the need to ensure a high level of quality in the monitoring and anticipation of what will be the most sought-after and necessary skills for the future of students, as well as to reduce the bureaucratic and administrative burden on small and medium-sized enterprises, so as to stimulate job creation.
Lara Comi (PPE), in writing. − (IT) I support this important report because, as the text shows, the assessments and respective estimates are considered reliable. The points have been drawn up with care and precision, never departing from the key objectives which we set ourselves: better functioning of the labour market, an increasingly skilled workforce, improved quality of working conditions and more robust policies capable of effectively stimulating the creation of new jobs. The reference to female entrepreneurship, for example, shows that we need to use this time where women are underrepresented and unemployed in order to reform our current legislation by drawing on our past and present experience.
This is why I hope that the European Parliament will continue to play a key role in the coordination of the Member States’ social policies. While this report is an important result, determination and constant commitment shown by our national laws are, in fact, an even more important result in order to complement the Europe 2020 strategy in the best way possible.
Corina Creţu (S&D), in writing. – (RO) The economic crisis has left almost 6 million European citizens without a job, raising the unemployed figure to 23 million, while the forecasts indicate that another 2.5 million jobs will disappear by 2020 as a result of the crisis.
In spite of this availability, employers in the EU are finding it difficult to recruit staff for highly skilled positions. According to estimates, in three years’ time there will be a shortfall of half a million posts in the IT sector and of a million health-care specialists. The causes of this are as follows: failure to identify promptly the requirements of the labour market, failure to adapt the education system, the school dropout rate and the gender imbalance in science and information technology at a time when women make up 60% of university graduates.
I think that effective joint measures need to be taken to utilise the huge potential of staff resources so that the demands of the European labour market are met, with this resolution providing useful impetus in this respect.
Mário David (PPE), in writing. − (PT) I should like to begin by congratulating my colleague, Ms Bastos, on the measures proposed in this report on the ‘Europe 2020 strategy’ for the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs. I welcome the report’s relevance and, in particular, its scope and the concrete measures tabled. The difficult world situation, and the constant and unpredictable economic, financial, budgetary, political and social crises pose us new questions and oblige us to think of new legislative solutions for the future educational and training development of our society, focused, obviously, on sustained increases in employability indices, so as to optimise the future benefits for our citizens. As such, I would stress the measures provided for in this own-initiative report as a whole. I would also stress the importance of the Europe 2020 strategy and, in particular, the Commission communication entitled ‘Agenda for new skills and jobs: a European contribution towards full employment’. I hope now that these objectives will be vigorously implemented in practical terms, without hesitations or doubts from the Member States and/or EU institutions, since that is the only way to translate goodwill into logical and positive measures for the Union’s future development.
Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. – (PT) Europe’s ambition of becoming a leading region in terms of employment and innovation is already a thing of the past, and has, unfortunately, been shown to be unrealistic. The recent strength shown by other parts of the world has made Europe’s limitations clear and shown how the EU and its Member States have not been able to find solutions that come close to the periodically issued statements of intent. The current situation is serious, and demands courage and creativity on the part of our leaders, as well as of our societies, which have long been used to a social model that has increasingly been showing itself to be unsustainable. Future generations will not forgive us if we do nothing about this and if we persist in refusing to acknowledge the radical changes that have been taking place in the markets. This compels us to discuss the model of the state, the sustainability of social security, demographics, labour relations, and education and research policy, along with many other issues. The Commission’s proposal to create an Agenda for New Skills and Jobs, which I welcome, may be a useful step in the right direction, but in and of itself will not be enough to reverse the depressive cycle in which we find ourselves.
João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. − (PT) This report is part of the ‘Europe 2020’ strategy, and deals with aspects of its target of 75% employment for the 20-64 age group by 2020. It focuses, essentially, on stepping up labour market reforms so as to implement flexicurity, and on adapting training and educational curricula to the needs of businesses and the labour market. It also advocates an increased retirement age, and mentions the need to promote ‘entrepreneurship’ as a means of reducing unemployment.
In other words, it is a restatement of the dogmas of neoliberalism’s tired rhetoric about the labour market. The goals and priorities are the same as always: satisfying the needs of employers; using workers as cheap, disposable labour at the service of employers; increasing exploitation; and, in this way, feeding a capitalist system in the throes of crisis and decadence.
Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D), in writing. - (SK) The economic, financial and social crisis afflicting Europe has brought out the weak points of the European economic and social model, and wiped out some aspects of the progress achieved in the past. According to the available data, there are currently 23.051 million people unemployed in the EU, which is 9.5% of the active population, and this has serious consequences for growth and prosperity in Europe. Equally alarming are the difficulties that some employers face over the recruitment of employees, particularly for highly-qualified positions. Even during the crisis it was difficult for some of them to fill posts with properly qualified people. I firmly believe that boosting human capital and employability through modernising skills would be a step in the right direction for European recovery.
It is essential to give people the right incentives that will assist them in the effort to modernise their skills, help them to make a closer link between education and vocational training and work, and predict more effectively what skills will be needed in the future, in order to ensure a better balance between supply and demand on the labour market. In order to create effective policies on employment, education and vocational training, it is essential to improve the ability of Member States and the Union to make forecasts, predict the nature of future qualifications and ensure that they meet the needs of the labour market.
Brice Hortefeux (PPE), in writing. – (FR) The European Union has set itself the target of achieving 75% employment by 2020 for those aged 20 to 64. This figure may be seen as excessive, given the particularly turbulent times that we are living in.
The reality is that we are currently facing a series of challenges: the economic and financial crisis, demographic change, migratory movements that are influencing our companies’ competitiveness, particularly SMEs, in a market that is under extreme competitive pressure.
For all that, we must not fall prey to the prevailing pessimism. If we assume that employment levels will rise by just over 1% a year between now and 2020, then that target is achievable.
For this reason, I welcome the adoption of Ms Bastos’s report, which sets forth priority actions for rising to this challenge: improving how the labour market operates, increasing workforce qualifications, improving job quality and working conditions, and beefing up policies designed to promote job creation and sustain demand for work. It also proposes practical measures to achieve all of this: improving cooperation between educational institutions and businesses, simplifying administrative procedures in order to encourage worker mobility, and so on.
Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. − (LT) I welcomed this document because in the Europe 2020 strategy Member States agreed on an employment target of 75% for people aged 20-64 by 2020, a goal closely linked to economic growth and sustainability of social security and public finances. I believe that national flexicurity arrangements must be reviewed in light of the new socio-economic conditions. Currently we need to promote demand for labour and job creation. I also believe that there is room for improvement, especially as regards the following: the reduction of administrative burdens and red tape for SMEs in order to create jobs; improved monitoring and anticipation of necessary skills for the future, thus permitting a closer match with supply and orienting the development of skills in terms of enhanced prospects of employment over a lifetime; the need to strengthen the rules on flexicurity and adapt them to the socio-economic context of each Member State, in order to ensure a flexible labour market, proactive policies in relation to that market, lifelong learning and modern welfare systems; closer cooperation between educational institutions and the world of business and similar measures.
Giovanni La Via (PPE), in writing. − (IT) The goal set by the Europe 2020 strategy of achieving a 75% employment rate for the 20-64 age group can only be attained by reformulating vocational skills, which inevitably entails a thorough adaptation of the education and training systems. Ms Bastos’s report, for which I voted in favour, highlights these aspects and, above all, it attempts to focus on the issue of job candidates often lacking specific vocational skills, even at a time of crisis such as the one we are experiencing. Moreover, we need to invest comprehensively in the labour market, by increasing the number of women in the field of information technology and better preparing students about to face the new employment challenges.
We can therefore meet the objective set by the Europe 2020 strategy by carrying out reforms and implementing an education and training system which is of a higher quality and which integrates workers into a global and specialised market. Therefore, a reduction in the unemployment rate also depends on closer coordination between the education, training and employment systems.
Petru Constantin Luhan (PPE), in writing. – (RO) There is one aspect that I would like to dwell on: SMEs and their importance to this subject. SMEs provide 85% of jobs in the EU. SMEs generate 58% of the added value created in the EU. We must therefore promote schemes for encouraging SMEs which are going to generate new jobs, whether they are in areas such as new technologies, research or innovation, or in the creative industries. Reducing the level of red tape to a minimum and improving their access to funding are matters which the Commission must deal with and ensure that they are also achieved at Member State level. There needs to be a link between the measures that are going to be adopted so that new companies can be created and staff employed to meet the employment objectives.
Elżbieta Katarzyna Łukacijewska (PPE), in writing. – (PL) I think the EU’s Member States should follow the guidelines for employment policies and broad economic policy guidelines to ensure the success of the Europe 2020 strategy. Despite the fact that the effects of the crisis are being felt in the labour market, human capital should be continuously strengthened, because strong human capital spells Europe’s return to the road of economic recovery. It is important to raise the level of employment, reduce administrative and bureaucratic burdens and provide businesses with the right tools to build the skills of their employees in line with the needs of the labour market. I therefore endorsed the Bastos report on the Agenda for New Skills and Jobs.
David Martin (S&D), in writing. − I welcome the call in this report for measures targeted at young people with a view to their integration on the labour market even before they have finished formal education, in particular by means of traineeships leading to new job opportunities.
Clemente Mastella (PPE), in writing. – (IT) The current economic and financial crisis has shown up the weaknesses of the European economic and social model. Currently, almost 9.5% of the active population of the European Union are unemployed, with grave implications for growth and welfare in Europe. We therefore need to reinforce human capital and employability by updating skills. That is the only way to enter a period of genuine recovery.
Indeed, the Member States have set the ambitious target of a 75% employment rate for the 20-64 age group by 2020. In order to reach these objectives, labour market reforms must be stepped up and suitable incentives must be provided for individuals and companies to help them invest in training. We must help create favourable conditions for job creation, inter alia by cutting administrative burdens and taxes related to labour and mobility.
If we are to devise effective policies for employment, education and training, we will need to improve the capacity of the Member States and the Union to forecast and anticipate the nature of future skills and ensure that they are in line with labour market needs.
Marisa Matias (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (PT) Although it tackles some positive points such as universal access to lifelong learning, social inclusion and the combating of discrimination, this report on the Agenda for New Skills and Jobs includes issues with which we cannot agree. We believe investment in promoting entrepreneurship and freelance work are measures aimed at absolving the Member States of responsibility for creating jobs, so placing all the responsibility on the public. Neither do we agree with the strengthening of rules on flexicurity, as this means greater precariousness, less security and more flexibility. We advocate concrete measures for creating jobs in times of crisis and austerity. I therefore voted against.
Iosif Matula (PPE), in writing. – (RO) Increasing the European Union’s global competitiveness requires major changes to be made to the labour market, especially as demographic changes are affecting the availability of labour resources. I find it worrying that, at a time of economic crisis, employers are finding it difficult to find a highly skilled workforce. After all, it is precisely these skills which can add value to the European economy. There are numerous solutions available for us to achieve our labour market objectives: from anticipating skill requirements better to establishing closer ties between universities and the business sector; from raising the profile of non-formal education to encouraging cross-border mobility among as many citizens as possible and mutual recognition of qualifications; from creating more green jobs to making vocational training more attractive and also instilling a culture of lifelong learning. Unfortunately, education and training are the very areas which have suffered huge cuts in expenditure in a number of EU countries due to the economic and financial crisis.
Mario Mauro (PPE), in writing. − (IT) The unemployment rate reached in the EU is an extremely negative factor for growth. As the rapporteur rightly points out, we must firmly focus on improving synergies between education, training and work in order to boost employment today, but also to avoid being unprepared for the employment challenges that the future may bring. I voted in favour.
Mairead McGuinness (PPE), in writing. − I voted in favour of this report and welcome, in particular, the calls for a reduction in the administrative burden placed on SMEs.
Jean-Luc Mélenchon (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (FR) This text calls on the Member States to officially recognise the contribution of the social economy and the essential role it plays in terms of economic, social and territorial cohesion. It advocates strengthening European workers’ social protection and promotes the role of the social partners. However, what it gives with one hand it takes away with the other. It advocates flexicurity, teleworking, entrepreneurship, even employee volunteering, as well as a later retirement age. It supports university-business partnerships and suggests work placements as the solution to youth unemployment. This makes no sense. I voted against.
Louis Michel (ALDE), in writing. – (FR) According to forecasts from the International Labour Organisation and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, no fewer than 110 million jobs need to be created by 2015 in order for the G20 countries to return to pre-crisis levels. That means creating 22 million jobs each year. The Europe 2020 strategy aims to increase employment rates in the Member States from the current level to between 69% and 75% by 2020. This is one of the levers that Europe needs to use to avoid economic decline. Recovery is dependent on job creation and solidarity. In this context, in order to promote sustainable, green growth, the EU needs to focus particularly on SMEs, which are real growth drivers and generate 58% of added-value in the EU; on bringing more women into the labour market (only 30% of business owners are women); on integrating people with disabilities; on guaranteeing a flexible, inclusive and active labour market, and on improving research and innovation. We need to create sustainable growth for future generations, growth anchored in a competitive economy with international clout.
Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. − The Agenda for New Skills and Jobs is one of the seven flagship initiatives to boost growth and jobs contained in the Europe 2020 strategy. The priorities of this strategy are: flexicurity - reducing segmentation and supporting transitions in the labour market; equipping people with the right skills for employment; improving the quality of work and working conditions; supporting job creation. By increasing jobs and equipping people with the right skills, we will overcome the crisis; I therefore voted in favour.
Andreas Mölzer (NI), in writing. − (DE) When this report states that the current economic, financial and social crisis has invalidated some of the progress made in the past, then it needs to be made clear that the crisis has merely further intensified a trend that has been developing for a long time. In the past, there was constant praise for the fact that more jobs were continually being created. However, the fact that most of the new jobs were part-time posts, filled by workers in limited part-time employment, and many people were forced into poverty as a result of ‘mac-jobs’ was quietly ignored.
If the EU constantly preaches that a good education is the guarantee of a job and believes that lifelong learning can put a stop to this trend, then it is taking action that is completely divorced from reality. One indication of this is the number of unemployed academics, who have been displaced by the cheap competition pushing its way in from abroad. To now impose even more flexibility on workers and increase the precarious situation is the wrong way to go and something that I reject in the strongest possible terms.
Claudio Morganti (EFD), in writing. − (IT) In recent years, various economic, social and cultural factors have led to a radical change in the labour markets; this report clearly identifies certain key points and challenges for the future. Firstly, we need to close the current gap, which is too large, between the world of education and training and the world of work. This is why we should welcome continuous exchanges between the two worlds, with greater involvement of employers and production facilities in the training of young people. Once they have received suitable training, these young people must have full access to employment with appropriate recognition.
Moreover, the report places the right emphasis on the need to safeguard the manufacturing and handicraft sector, since it is in danger of meeting a slow, painful demise. Apart from frequently representing a region’s excellence and traditions, it can be a genuine, powerful driver for development. Lastly, I would like to stress an important aspect regarding senior citizens: I think that it makes a great deal of sense to establish serious, coordinated volunteer programmes to make the most of a wealth of experience and knowledge which otherwise would inevitably be lost.
Katarína Neveďalová (S&D), in writing. - (SK) I am delighted that the European Parliament today approved its position on one of the seven flagship strategies of the Europe 2020 strategy, the Agenda for New Skills and Jobs. Today, as the EU grapples with the problem of very high unemployment, particularly among young people, I believe that the Agenda for New Skills and Jobs can provide some solutions. We must above all focus on much higher quality and more inclusive education, not only education in primary and secondary schools and universities, but also lifelong learning. We must define the profile of graduates, so that we do not needlessly produce and educate graduates who have no chance of applying their skills. We now know very well that some fields of study are completely worthless. I am, of course, in favour of retaining programmes for the training of traditional skills, as this is part of the EU’s cultural heritage which we must preserve for future generations. I do not agree, however, with the constant rise in numbers of politics graduates, for example, as it is clear we will not need so many of them. We should focus more on training in practical skills, such as languages and IT, and particularly on teaching our students how to learn.
Rolandas Paksas (EFD), in writing. – (LT) I voted in favour of this resolution because the Agenda for New Skills and Jobs is one of the main factors promoting smart, sustainable and inclusive growth which ensures full employment and welfare.
It should be noted that more effective strategies on employment, education and work organisation need to be drawn up at EU level in order to improve competitiveness, working and living conditions. This will ensure the creation of decent jobs, and all age groups will have access to lifelong learning and opportunities to acquire qualifications and improve skills.
Attention should be drawn to the fact that employers throughout the EU must be more actively involved in the work of education institutions, and a more intensive social dialogue should be promoted.
In order to react swiftly to the challenges in the European labour market, I welcome the establishment of the European Employment Observatory and the planned EU Skills Panorama.
In order to achieve the objectives set, the components of flexicurity should be reviewed and reinforced.
Justas Vincas Paleckis (S&D), in writing. − I voted in favour of this report because it calls on EU Member States to better coordinate their economic policies in order to create jobs and facilitate effective competition. Throughout Europe, there are various inequalities within employment policies. While maintaining budgetary discipline is crucial to avoid debt, spending cuts in areas such as education and the labour market would increase the shortage of skilled workers in Europe. Competitiveness and employment must be promoted to move towards a sustainable, stronger and greener economy. To improve competitiveness in the EU, as well as create new jobs, there must be better education and employment strategies. I support the rapporteur, who urges the EU to combat discrimination of any kind, whether based on gender, age or nationality, more effectively. The flexicurity arrangements that exist must be strengthened and adapted to each Member State. Member States must improve workers' rights. Even at a time of economic problems, social and unemployment protection can not be sacrificed. Additionally, Member States should help workers integrate their jobs and their family life. Innovation is necessary to further boost employment. Pursuing full employment must go hand-in-hand with improving working conditions.
Georgios Papanikolaou (PPE), in writing. – (EL) I voted in favour of the report in its entirety. There are currently 21 million people out of work in the EU, approximately 10% of its active population. If you look at unemployment among young people, especially in countries that have been hit by the crisis, the figures are terrifying: 42.9% of people aged 25 or under in Greece and 46.2% in Spain. One in two young people are unemployed. These figures certainly do not reflect the dreams and visions of united Europe, let alone the dreams, visions and ambitions of the young Europeans that are the future of this continent. We all understand that, in this sort of strategy, in this sort of agenda on new skills and jobs, quantified targets need to be set for 2020. However, it is contradictory to adopt this agenda and set ambitious targets for it, on the one hand, and for numerous Member States, of which there were five in 2011, to cut spending on education when growth rates in Europe are stagnant. There is no alternative. The Member States need to put money into research, education and innovation. We need to create the opportunities that the young generation deserves.
Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. − (PT) I would like to congratulate the rapporteur on drafting this report. I agree with the statement in the report that, if we are to devise effective policies for employment, education and training and facilitate individuals’ career choices, we will need to improve the ability of the Member States and the Union to forecast and anticipate the nature of future skills and ensure that they are in line with labour market needs. In fact, that should be the touchstone of Union policy; in other words, seeking to adapt supply and demand to best serve the public. I voted in favour of the report for these reasons.
Rovana Plumb (S&D), in writing. − The Agenda for New Skills and Jobs is one of the seven flagship initiatives to boost growth and jobs contained in the EU 2020 strategy. Achieving sustainable growth has to be based on an inclusive labour market to maximise the full potential of Europe’s labour force, to increase employment rates and to improve job quality, equal opportunities and labour and social protection. I strongly support the negotiated labour market reforms; negotiated flexicurity combined with strong social protection systems; strengthening pension systems; investments in public education systems; respect for labour and social rights in the European legislation; labour law to cover all types of workers and labour contracts with rights. We should do more to guarantee that mobile and migrant workers in Europe enjoy equal treatment with residents, in the workplace and beyond. The gender gaps are a major obstacle to the functioning of EU labour market.
I believe that more needs to be done to tackle discrimination against women, young people, elderly workers and people with disabilities, minorities, with regard to access to employment, pay gaps, career progression, training, or working conditions. Moreover, the Commission should put in place a set of rules and policies to create a framework for socially decent restructurings.
Phil Prendergast (S&D), in writing. − I welcome this report by Ms Bastos on the Agenda for New Skills and Jobs. We must not neglect investment in social, health, care and educational services and infrastructure. Such an investment would not only lead to an increase in the standard of care for service-users but, due to changes in the demographic structure of the European Union, it would also promote sustainable employment. Secondly, we need to enquire into the working conditions for carers and workers in the care sector. In Ireland, over 160 000 people identified themselves as carers at the last census. However, only 56% of these carers were in paid employment. This is despite their contributing an estimated EUR 2.5 billion to the economy. More needs to be done to ensure greater recognition and working conditions for carers. Thirdly, a more inclusive labour market is needed, particularly where young people are concerned. Across the 27 Member States, youth unemployment is at a record-high with 20.5% of European youth unemployed. There is undoubtedly a need to promote traineeships and apprenticeships for school-leavers, but also to ensure that these programmes are accessible and lead to sustainable jobs and long-term employment.
Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. − (PT) Structurally, the employment problem is one of the key issues in macroeconomic analysis of the social reality. While from one point of view it is the principal factor of production, from another perspective it is a singular route to personal achievement and well-being. An agenda for jobs cannot fail to take both of these aspects into account: firstly, the very economic development of the EU involves making available resources fit for the job; secondly, and above all, this is probably the most delicate problem that the authorities have to face, because of its deep immersion in the social reality. An agenda for jobs, then, must be founded on high levels of professional training of workers, and on a regulatory framework that transforms innovation and business development into incentives for people. In turn, job security must, rather than appearing to be an end in itself in the labour relationship, be reduced to the condition of the worker’s guarantee against the profound asymmetry of labour ties. This is one of the great challenges for Europe’s future. I voted in favour because I can see this belief explained.
Crescenzio Rivellini (PPE), in writing. – (IT) Today this House voted on the report by Ms Bastos, which highlights the fact that, if we are to devise effective policies for employment, education and training and facilitate individuals’ career choices, we will need to improve the capacity of the Member States and the Union to forecast and anticipate the nature of future skills and ensure that they are in line with labour market needs. The Agenda for New Skills and Jobs is part of the Europe 2020 strategy, representing the Commission’s contribution towards achieving the Member States’ ambitious goal of 75% employment for the 20-64 age group by 2020.
Robert Rochefort (ALDE), in writing. – (FR) Almost 10% of Europeans are unemployed at present. The economic and financial crisis that began in 2008 has only exacerbated the situation. Although the Europe 2020 strategy includes a target employment rate of 75% for the 20-64 age group by 2020, we must acknowledge that we are facing a growing number of challenges as we seek to maintain our social model. Training for workers and the labour market need to adapt to this tough new economic reality. I am pleased to see that is the thrust of the measures proposed in Ms Bastos’s report. We now need to make real headway with support for education and further training, on protecting workers’ social rights throughout their working life, investing massively in research and innovation in order to create jobs for the future, and on improving working conditions. Ambitious policies are needed to reconcile workers’ expectations and the needs of the labour market, not least through the creation of European Sector Councils on employment and skills, as proposed in this perceptive report.
Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. − In favour. The economic, financial and social crisis now affecting Europe has pointed up the weaknesses of the European economic and social model, and has invalidated certain aspects of the progress achieved earlier. Since the first effects of the crisis made themselves felt on the labour markets in 2008, Europe has lost 5.6 million jobs. There are currently 23 051 million unemployed in the EU, accounting for 9.5% of the active population, with grave implications for growth and welfare in Europe. Equally disturbing are the difficulties encountered by some employers in recruiting staff, especially for highly skilled posts. Even during the crisis, certain employers were finding it hard to find people with suitable skills for the vacancies to be filled. Reinforcing human capital and employability by means of updating skills will mean placing Europe on the path of recovery.
Oreste Rossi (EFD), in writing. – (IT) The report sets itself the task of finding ways to increase employment in the EU, by bringing in suitable employment and social policies, promoting labour supply and demand in an inclusive, sustainably growing economy, and facilitating the work-life balance for women in work. We need to implement education and employment strategies that are capable of forging synergies for the spread of new technologies, promoting lifelong learning and continual updating of skills.
Particular attention should be paid to people with disabilities, who must be provided with access to work and employment services in order to allow them to enjoy the desire for autonomy and independence. The importance of the craft sector and its cultural and traditional identity should be acknowledged. In Italy, the craft sector is very widespread and includes top-quality products that have taken ‘Made in Italy’ around the world.
Nikolaos Salavrakos (EFD), in writing. – (EL) Ms Bastos’s report touches on a very sensitive and important issue. I voted in favour of it, because I consider it to be a detailed report that suggests ideas for new instruments and policies in the employment sector. The points of the report touching both on education and on promoting the workforce and creating jobs are a step in the right direction. I personally am most anxious about the future of our young people, because we are clearly in recession in Europe and, as a result, unemployment has risen to over 9.5% of the population of Europe.
Joanna Senyszyn (S&D), in writing. – (PL) I endorsed Parliament’s resolution on the Agenda for New Skills and Jobs. It is a very important report which will enable improvement of the ambitious Union programme for new skills and jobs, and will thus strengthen human capital, improve employability and help social integration.
One of the objectives of the Europe 2020 strategy is to raise the level of employment of women and men in the EU to 75%. The current level of employment of women in the EU is 58.2%, and huge differences exist between the Member States in this regard. In my opinion on European cooperation in vocational education and training to support the Europe 2020 strategy I pointed out that changing this situation requires urgent improvement of links between vocational training and labour market needs. To this end it is essential, among other things, to improve academic and careers guidance services and encourage traineeships and apprenticeships for women. It is also important to create new opportunities for training, including in scientific, mathematical and technological fields, in order to increase women’s employability in technical and scientific positions, non-traditional jobs and the low-carbon and high-tech sectors of the economy.
For the new programme to be a success, it is also crucial to take steps to eliminate gender-based wage differentials, to improve the mobility of employees in the EU and to include solidarity and cooperation between generations in the mainstream of employment policy.
Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. − (PT) The economic, financial and social crisis has demonstrated the weakness of the European economic and social model, and has contributed to wiping out a number of achievements. Since the first effects of the crisis on the labour market in 2008, Europe has already lost 5.6 million jobs, and there are currently 23 million unemployed in the European Union, which represents 9.5% of the active population. In November 2010, in the context of the Europe 2020 strategy, the Commission adopted the draft communication entitled ‘Agenda for new skills and jobs: a European contribution towards full employment’, which represented its contribution to the target of 75% employment for the 20-64 age group by 2020. As I agree with the Commission, I am voting for Parliament’s document. I believe there is room for improvement, not least with regard to reducing the administrative and bureaucratic burden on small and medium-sized enterprises; to school drop-out rates; to work/life balance; to monitoring and anticipating skills needed in the future; to measures for young people’s integration into the labour market; to the flexicurity rules; to refinement of the rules governing the posting of workers; and to mutual recognition of qualifications.
Silvia-Adriana Ţicău (S&D), in writing. – (RO) I voted for the report on the Agenda for New Skills and Jobs because exiting the current crisis depends on providing jobs throughout Member States. The EU’s competitiveness depends on guaranteeing the availability of a skilled workforce, promoting the demand for labour and creating jobs, improving the operation of the labour market, promoting labour markets that support inclusion and improving the quality of jobs and working conditions.
In order to boost competitiveness and generate new jobs, the EU must invest in developing and modernising the transport, energy and communication infrastructures, and in agriculture, research and education. The EU’s new industrial policy needs to promote education in technical fields. Furthermore, in view of the estimated shortage of health-care and IT professionals, we call on the Commission and Member States to adopt measures aimed at providing well-qualified human resources and the skills required for these areas.
I voted for Amendment 1, which calls on the Commission to take into account that in labour markets with a high prevalence of SMEs and where workers very often lack proper representation at company level, decentralised collective bargaining might lead to a deterioration in working conditions.
Viktor Uspaskich (ALDE), in writing. − (LT) The unemployment rate in Lithuania (34%) is one of the highest in the EU. The rate of unemployment is only higher in Greece and Spain. One of the reasons for such an unreasonably high rate is the incompatibility of young people’s qualifications with the requirements of the labour market. Last year, 52% of all young unemployed people registered with the Lithuanian Labour Exchange had not acquired any vocational training. Acquiring vocational qualifications and education remains the best means of combating unemployment. According to this report, the improvement of workers’ knowledge and skills, taking into account the requirements of the labour market, will increase employment opportunities and will help Europe to recover in the long term. It is also necessary to further reorganise the labour market so that it offers greater flexibility and security. EU governments, including my own, should offer companies more suitable incentives to invest in training. In my opinion, long-term unemployment is an area that requires greater attention. According to data from the second quarter of 2011, 52% of people registered as unemployed in Lithuania have been looking for work for one year or more. The objectives of the Agenda for New Skills and Jobs should be oriented towards this group of people.
Derek Vaughan (S&D), in writing. − I supported this resolution, which calls for a focus on matching skills to labour market needs. This is a main objective of the EU2020 strategy and will help to bridge the gap between education and employment. I believe that the focus on increasing participation in lifelong learning is becoming increasingly important; ensuring that people of all ages and at all stages of their careers have the opportunity to develop their skills is essential to an inclusive working society. Encouragement should be given to promote workplace-based training to introduce young people to the labour market from an early stage.
There should also be minimum standards in terms of pay and social rights to set decent working conditions and protect trainees in all Member States. With an ambitious goal of reaching a 75% employment rate for 20-64 year olds in the EU by 2020, this initiative places emphasis on human capital and employability through an updating of skills. In voting for the resolution, the European Parliament demonstrates its commitment to the important issue of tackling unemployment in today’s society.
Marie-Christine Vergiat (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (FR) I voted against this report, which is not bad in itself, and indeed makes a number of points that I can only endorse. However, it is a report paved with good intentions, which fails to call into question the European Union’s policies and the much-vaunted Europe 2020 strategy.
There are constant references to facilitating ‘effective competition’, promoting ‘smart growth’, improving ‘human capital’ (sic), promoting ‘European centres of excellence’, reinforcing the four pillars of ‘flexicurity’ and even ensuring that ‘older workers’ can stay on the labour market for longer.
These are phrases plucked at random from the report, which clearly show that there is no desire to change the underlying focus of European Union policy, nor to finally learn from the crisis.
Angelika Werthmann (NI), in writing. − (DE) On account of the financial and economic crisis, EU-wide unemployment has risen to 9.5% In the context of the Europe 2020 strategy, the Member States have undertaken to aim for and achieve an employment level of 75%. As a result of the changing requirement profiles of undertakings, we need to optimise capacity in the Union in order to adapt future skills and labour market requirements to the labour market. We need to reduce bureaucracy for SMEs in order to support the creation of jobs. Moreover, for early school-leavers and those who do not finish their traineeships, alternatives in the field of training and apprenticeship should be developed and offered. I have voted in favour of this report.