Sergio Paolo Francesco Silvestris (PPE). – (IT) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, the EU Ombudsman has a central role in making the European institutions more open and transparent and should defend citizens’ right to have access to documents, as also affirmed in the report that we have voted on. However, the reality – according to a recent survey commissioned by Parliament and the European Ombudsman on citizens’ rights – is that they know rather little about what their rights are.
The results of the Eurobarometer survey show that the right to move and reside freely within the Union is one of the best-known rights and the most important according to the majority of survey participants. Meanwhile, the right to submit a complaint to the European Ombudsman is only third among the rights known by EU citizens. Moreover, 85% of participants said that they do not feel informed about the Charter of Fundamental Rights.
Therefore, in congratulating Mr Diamandouros on his re-election in January 2010 to the post of European Ombudsman, as well as for the 36 000 complaints dealt with and the completion of more than 3 800 inquiries in the 15 years that this institution has existed, we have voted in favour of this measure. However, we did wonder whether providing citizens with more information on their rights – which is what they want and what they are asking for – would not, perhaps, in hindsight, be just as efficient a way to resolve their complaints.
Adam Bielan (ECR). – (PL) Madam President, the investigation of examples of maladministration on the part of the EU institutions constitutes an important aspect of the Ombudsman’s activities, because openness and transparency in the area of administration are among values inherent in the open societies of the Member States. This is why the European Parliament appoints the Ombudsman and supervises his work through the Committee on Petitions.
As is clear from the report for the previous year the highest number of complaints, and as many as 33% of enquiries which have been closed, still relate to the problem of public access to EU documents. Thus the activities of the Ombudsman’s office, their actions and advice do not translate, as would be expected, into a better quality of operation in the institutions against whom the complaints have been lodged. Certain parts of the report may actually serve to allay the concerns of the personnel in administrations responsible for poor performance, which prompts the question as to whether the allocation of huge sums to the work of the Ombudsman’s office is justified. Proceeding from these considerations I have abstained from the vote.
Oldřich Vlasák (ECR). - (CS) Madam President, I abstained from voting on the report on the European Ombudsman’s activities in 2010 because, among other things, I cannot support the point where the European Parliament congratulates the Ombudsman for reducing the average time needed for completing investigations of individual cases. I personally consider the time taken, which is still nine months, to be extremely long. The investigation of one case still, incidentally, costs four times more than at the European Court of Human Rights.
Anja Weisgerber (PPE). – (DE) Madam President, today’s vote in the European Parliament aimed at combating Internet pornography is pioneering the protection of our children. We will have more protection for the victims and better prevention. The measures adopted will enable better prevention of all abuse of children, in particular the growing phenomenon of child pornography on the Internet. National laws are not enough to combat child Internet pornography. Here the European Union offers us an opportunity to stamp out these grievous activities on a Europe-wide basis. As a young mother, it is a particular concern and very important for me that pornographic material involving children should be taken down off the Internet immediately. I therefore welcome the decision to prescribe the deletion of such material as the ideal solution.
The new regulations also provide a greater level of protection for the victims throughout Europe through higher, more stringent penalties for the perpetrators. I fully support the comprehensive approach taken by the directive. The legal framework is every bit as important as information and prevention measures. This law puts us on the right path for protecting the youngest members of our society.
Sergio Paolo Francesco Silvestris (PPE). – (IT) Madam President, I fully support and am delighted by the results of the vote on this Directive for a variety of reasons. According to recent studies, between 10% and 20% of European children are at risk of suffering sexual abuse during childhood. The size of the problem and its cross-border nature require the European Union to take swift action.
I am pleased that the agreement was approved in this House and therefore immediately adopted by the Council. It will replace the current legislation, which is obsolete since it dates back to 2004, and this will happen in double-quick time since there is already an agreement at first reading with the Council. I welcome the fact that this Directive contains new concepts and offences that are being introduced into EU legislation for the first time. Online grooming will become a fully-fledged crime in Europe, as will sexual tourism, whether or not it is committed on the territory of a Member State or outside the European Union, as long as it is committed by a European citizen.
The various databases of the Member States that collect the requisite information for monitoring sexual abuse and exploitation of children are of major importance. They must be able to interact with ever-increasing speed and accuracy so that these crimes, which are increasingly thoroughly organised, cannot find any loopholes or happen across bureaucratic delays that could result in recidivism. Zero tolerance: that is the watchword of this measure, which I am proud to have voted for.
Iva Zanicchi (PPE). – (IT) Madam President, I voted in favour of Ms Angelilli’s report because it tackles a problem that, as a mother and grandmother, affects me deeply. Protecting children from sexual exploitation, abuse and the disgusting world of child pornography means defending our children and our grandchildren, and hence the most vulnerable.
Greater prevention, harsher criminal punishments for offenders and more careful child protection are the core points of the document voted on today. The road is, without doubt, a long one. I am thinking in particular about the dissemination of child pornography over the Internet, which can only be fought through close cooperation between Member States, police forces and Internet providers.
Csaba Sógor (PPE). – (HU) Madam President, it is not enough to vote on a motion for a resolution; we must take action on a daily basis to ensure that Christians around the world do not suffer persecution. Not only because Europe has Christian roots – or should I say Christianity is our religion – but because this is first and foremost a human rights and minority rights issue.
If we think about the decline of the Christian population in Syria from 10% to 8%, and the fact that in Egypt several thousand Christians have been forced to convert to Islam, or that Christian minorities in Iraq, who have survived centuries of dictatorships, are now dying out, the responsibility facing the European Union is enormous. This is, on the one hand, because we should not be ashamed of our Christian past, and on the other, because within the EU we should not tolerate discrimination of any sort against ethnic or religious minorities. We still have a great deal to do, especially in terms of setting an example and leading by example.
Mitro Repo (S&D). – (FI) Madam President, the position of religious minorities has been a cause of concern to the European Parliament on many occasions. Following the democratic revolution, and after Mubarak’s administration withdrew, in Egypt it was believed and hoped that a new age would dawn. The attacks on religious minorities, however, have only continued.
Although Egypt is at a critical and difficult stage in its transition to democracy, outrages committed against human beings are never acceptable. All citizens must have the right to express their opinion freely. A total of 25 Egyptian citizens died and more than 300 were injured quite needlessly during a peaceful march. Coptic Christians were marching to protest against an attack on a church. They were marching against discrimination and calling for a law to be enacted in the country to criminalise religious discrimination. Furthermore, they have every right to do so.
The Egyptian state needs to rebuild the church that came under attack immediately, and initiate genuine national dialogue, for Egypt also to have a future.
Bernd Posselt (PPE). – (DE) Madam President, I am pleased to see that the refusal of certain sections in this House to deal with the plight of Christians in the Middle East and beyond has after many years come to an end and that we are now taking a more systematic approach. The Christian minorities in the Middle East and North Africa are under particular threat even in those countries where, happily, democratisation is taking place. If Europe does not stand up for these minorities, then who will? As Europeans, we are the natural champions of these minorities.
However, this commitment also applies to the majority groups in such societies. It has always been to the credit of Islam that Christians who have lived for centuries under its rule have not just survived, but actually played a leading role in society. Now, in the 21st century, these minorities are under threat of extinction. Democracy means rule by the majority, however, the acid test is how minorities are treated.
Sergio Paolo Francesco Silvestris (PPE). – (IT) Madam President, first of all a statistic that explains the gravity of the situation: three quarters of the people around the world persecuted and discriminated against due to their faith are Christians. The Pope recently reminded us of this during the 12 September summit in Rome, where among others representatives of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe met to discuss hate crimes against Christians.
In the resolution we talk about Egypt, where the risks are currently high since there is a strong Christian community accounting for 10% of the population, and Syria, where genuine crimes against humanity may be taking place, according to the United Nations Commissioner. However I must point out that these crimes also take place in various parts of Asia, as well as in Africa, I refer to the recent episodes of persecution in the Philippines, India and Pakistan.
Crimes against Christians are increasing worryingly: we are seeing violence and aggressive behaviour against priests, worshippers and Protestant street preachers, and above all attacks on churches and cemeteries in an atmosphere of total lack of religious freedom, which should include the right to preach, educate, convert, contribute to political discourse and participate fully in public life. Many Christians in the world are not allowed to do these things.
Miroslav Mikolášik (PPE). – (SK) Madam President, the persisting religious intolerance and discrimination against citizens of the Coptic faith in Egypt is, unfortunately, gaining in intensity and proportion. The military intervention on the Coptic Christians in Cairo in early October following the protest against the attack on a church in the province of Aswan caused almost thirty deaths and dealt severe injuries to more than 350 Egyptian citizens. The exodus of more than 100 000 Coptic Christians who, in fear of their lives, are seeking refuge for themselves and their families abroad, provides testimony to the persecution and fear of continued violent attacks, including the complete destruction of churches. The weakened state and social establishment is being abused by Islamic extremists. The Egyptian authorities must – whilst respecting basic human rights – adopt more robust measures for the prevention and repression of religiously motivated criminal acts and religious violence, and ensure freedom of religion for all citizens, including the Coptic Christians.
Hannu Takkula (ALDE). – (FI) Madam President, it is very important that the European Union, which is a community of values, intervenes in such matters as these, and at the same time sends a very clear message to Egypt and Syria that religious minorities, Christian minorities, must be treated properly. It is difficult for us to export to those countries the notions of democracy, human rights, freedom of opinion and the rule of law. They are still distant dreams, although some believed that the Arab Spring would lead to this. Still it seems, however, that they are very distant dreams.
Freedom of religion does not mean that people are freed from all religion, but that they have the right to practise their own faith. As far as the Copts are concerned, they have had to suffer very greatly in Egypt, and pay a high price for their religious convictions. Similarly, the Christians in Syria have gone underground, because of the tyranny that reigns there at present.
Regarding this, the European Parliament and European Union have real potential for speaking up for these Christians, and sending a clear message to both Syria and Egypt that these people have a right to human dignity, integrity and a decent life in their own country and, above all, to freedom of religion.
Paul Murphy (GUE/NGL). – Madam President, the sectarian violence in Egypt stands in stark contrast to the united movement which characterised the first phase of the revolution in Egypt. Then we saw working-class people, young people, older people, unemployed people and poor farmers fighting together across the religious divide to overthrow the hated dictatorship of Mubarak and to fight for real social change. It is the strength of that united movement that strikes fear into the heart of the military regime and the ruling class that they represent. That fear has returned to haunt them in recent times when they face significant strike movements of textile workers and teachers, to give two examples: people fighting for wage rises and to continue the revolutionary process.
The increase in sectarianism plays into the hands of the elite in Egypt who want to divide and rule working-class people. To move forward, what is needed is a united movement of workers across the divide to continue and deepen the revolution, fighting on the basis of a socialist programme to transform Egyptian society, to sweep away the remnants of the old regime and to obtain real social change.
Mitro Repo (S&D). – (FI) Madam President, the European Union must support a stable and democratic Ukraine, one that respects the principles of a social market economy and the rule of law, protects minorities and guarantees human rights. Such a Ukraine does not exist today, as the Tymoshenko case clearly shows us.
In Ukraine at present, there is more talk than action, but I believe that the country will still meet the conditions of EU membership. I nevertheless wish to point out that the Association Agreement is such an important step for Ukraine on its journey towards Europe that it is justifiable to sign it in December.
The European Commission should carefully monitor developments in Ukraine and the progress of change and reform. Ukraine is not in any special position: it needs to conform to European standards, just like the other Balkan countries that want to join the EU. Ukraine needs the will and the courage to reform. It needs a genuine national dialogue with all of society participating.
Kristiina Ojuland (ALDE). – (ET) Madam President, I too would like to explain why I supported this resolution and why I voted against certain parts of it. Firstly, I am also a co-author of this resolution, which is far from perfect, especially the part stated in clause two, which asserts that the legal proceedings against Tymoshenko constitute a violation of human rights. I do not think so and as a result I voted against that. I do, however, support the resolution as a compromise here in parliament, and I do so because this resolution offers to Ukraine, the government of Ukraine and the people of Ukraine a very clear European prospect. I strongly approve of clause one, in which it is stated that any European country that fulfils the criteria will one day be entitled to become a member of the European Union.
Of course I presume that Ukraine will continue its reforms and perform all of the obligations it has assumed, but another reason for which I support this resolution is that it states precisely that before the summit to be held at the end of this year, possibilities to continue negotiations will be reviewed.
Bernd Posselt (PPE). – (DE) Madam President, I believe that this is a very important decision because, unlike some drafts, it refers clearly to a rapprochement between the EU and Ukraine, rather than Ukraine’s rapprochement to Europe. Ukraine is Europe and always has been Europe!
It is a scandal that a leading representative of the EU yesterday told a select circle that the governments of the Member States were unable to agree whether or not Ukraine is a European country. It is unmistakably a European country, in contrast to Turkey. However, of course, it is unable to accede in any form at present. It is also, unfortunately, a country in decline. It is the task of the European Parliament to speak out about this clearly. Ms Tymoshenko is not the only one being persecuted in an unacceptable way – the entire opposition is suffering discrimination and persecution. This is unacceptable.
We are engaging in a clear and critical manner with the mistakes being made in this important country precisely because we consider Ukraine a European country at heart.
Adam Bielan (ECR). – (PL) Madam President, the conviction of the former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko has caused disappointment to general public opinion. The sentence was handed down in a trial that raised huge concerns as to its compliance with international standards of fair, transparent and, above all, independent court proceedings. In my view, it is justice with a strong political colouring, a regrettable fact.
With a view to promoting the broadest cooperation between the EU’s Member States, including Poland, and Ukraine, and being an indefatigable supporter of Ukraine’s aspirations for integration, I call upon the authorities in Kiev to ensure that the accused and convicted former members of the government have access to a fair appeal procedure. I hope that President Viktor Yanukovych will do his best to prevent the deterioration of current relations with Brussels. At the same time I appeal to the Polish Presidency, active in the field of the Eastern Partnership, to get involved, so that the present situation can have a positive outcome. This is especially important in view of the fact that negotiations on the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement are about to be concluded.
Elmar Brok (PPE). – (DE) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, in recent weeks and months there have been many attempts by the Heads of State or Government and by Mr Barroso and Mr Van Rompuy, among others, to uphold the rule of law in Ukraine. Ms Tymoshenko and others are in prison, persecuted on legal principles that no longer apply under any rule of law, on the basis of legislation introduced by Stalin in 1927, probably targeting Leo Trotsky. We must see this as a systematic attempt to discourage the opposition from fielding candidates and taking part in the democratic process. This is a further step, following last year’s falsified elections and the obvious present moves to change the electoral system, contrary to the wishes of the Venice Commission.
Ukraine is a European country with a European perspective. We want to see association agreements with Ukraine, but this requires that Ukraine should move in the right direction and should not systematically persecute the opposition and flout the rule of law. It is for this reason that the fate of Ukraine and its citizens lies in the hands of President Yanukovych.
Anna Záborská (PPE). − (SK) Madam President, as many as 53% of Europeans believe that antibiotics kill viruses. Almost half of them believe that antibiotics can treat influenza and the common cold. They are also widely used in stockfarming. The result is the excessive use of antibiotics and the increasing resistance of bacterial strains. This problem transcends the boundaries of individual Member States and, therefore, joint European action is appropriate.
Public health is truly under threat and it was with some satisfaction that I supported this resolution, which speaks not only of a system for the monitoring of resistance and associated infections, but also of the joint development of new drugs against resistant micro-organisms. As a general practitioner I would have also welcomed better communication with an association of doctors and patients. Antibiotics should in fact only be used in cases where the doctor is sure of the diagnosis. In this very period, in which there tends to be an increase in cases of influenza, it is necessary to devote more time and financial resources to an information campaign.
Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. – (PT) I am voting for this report because it followed standard procedures, respecting submission deadlines, and also because it presents a clear description of the work of the Ombudsman. I would like to take this opportunity to highlight this body’s importance in receiving complaints concerning cases of maladministration in the activities of the Union institutions. The right to lodge a complaint with the European Ombudsman is provided for in Article 24 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union and in Article 43 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union.
Laima Liucija Andrikienė (PPE), in writing. − I voted in favour of the resolution on the Ombudsman's annual report 2010. The European Ombudsman is empowered to receive complaints concerning instances of maladministration in the activities of European Union institutions. I support the position of the rapporteur, which endorses the Ombudsman in his role of external control mechanism and welcomes the Ombudsman’s initiative to regularly publish studies examining the EU institutions’ follow-up to his critical remarks while urging the institutions to work together with the Ombudsman to improve their follow-up rate. It is important that, when the Ombudsman presents his annual report at a meeting of the Committee on Petitions, not only representatives of the European Commission but also of the respective administrations of the European Parliament, the Council and other EU institutions, agencies, services and bodies that have been the subject of an investigation, a special report, or critical remarks should be present to comment on the report and take part in the discussion. We, Members of the European Parliament, also call on the Ombudsman to keep Parliament informed of developments in his relations with the new European External Action Service and the Council.
Sophie Auconie (PPE), in writing. – (FR) The European Ombudsman plays a central role in the European institutional set-up. Elected by the European Parliament, he is responsible for examining complaints from citizens, companies and associations against the European institutions. Since I am convinced that the Ombudsman helps increase democratic transparency, I voted in favour of the Iotova report. The majority of the complaints relate to the lack of transparency in the EU administration. The Ombudsman has made some recommendations, which the European Parliament has approved, with a view to processing complaints more quickly. He recommends, for example, that there should be more coordination with the European institutions and that procedures should be simplified.
Vilija Blinkevičiūtė (S&D), in writing. − (LT) I voted in favour of this report, in which the European Parliament welcomes the activities of the European Ombudsman in 2010. The European Ombudsman performs the very important function of informing European Union citizens of the opportunities available to them to lodge complaints concerning maladministration by EU institutions. For example, last year most complaints were about a lack of transparency, public procurement and grants and the staff of EU institutions. I am pleased that many complaints were resolved amicably in 2010, which again reveals the effectiveness of the Ombudsman and his proper cooperation with other institutions. I appreciate the fact that the European Ombudsman strives to maintain an ongoing dialogue with complainants. This is very important given that the Lisbon Treaty has strengthened the role of dialogue with citizens. For the Ombudsman institution, which examines complaints, constant contact with people is essential. It is also crucial that the Ombudsman each year publishes on his website a study on the institutions’ follow-up to his remarks and criticism.
José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. – (PT) This report, drafted by Ms Iotova, concerns the Annual Report on the European Ombudsman’s activities in 2010. It is the first report drafted by the European Ombudsman, Nikiforos Diamandouros, since being sworn into office before the Court of Justice on 25 October 2010, following his re-election. The institution of the European Ombudsman, chaired by Mr Diamandouros, celebrated its 15th anniversary in September 2010. In these 15 years the institution has dealt with more than 36 000 complaints and completed more than 3 800 inquiries into possible maladministration in the activities of EU institutions, concerning instances ‘when a public body fails to act in accordance with a rule or principle which is binding upon it’. One of the main complaints is the difficulty that citizens experience accessing EU documents. Even though it is understood that confidential documentation exists, the institutions cannot make things more difficult for the public in this respect. I welcome the adoption of this report, and hope that the Ombudsman will be able to achieve the objectives set out in the new strategy for his 2009-2014 mandate, and that the European public will be better informed of his role.
João Ferreira and Ilda Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (PT) The Annual Report on the European Ombudsman’s activities enables us to check the work done on carrying out his roles and objectives. Given that the Ombudsman has the right to analyse the substance of the actions and conclusions of the Commission when investigating complaints about breaches, it is important to check what happens with complaints and follow the development of the process. It can be seen, for example, whether the Ombudsman’s opinions are reasonable, well-argued, complete and clearly explained to the complainants. The report notes that the Ombudsman was able to help the complainants in 70% of all of the cases handled in 2010, whether by opening an inquiry himself, transferring the complaint to a competent body at EU or national level, or even giving the complainant advice on where to take his complaint. In the annual report on 2010, particular attention is given to the new strategy that the Ombudsman and his staff put together for their 2009-2014 mandate.
The objectives are as follows: listening to stakeholders by obtaining feedback from complainants, whilst broadening and deepening contacts with the EU institutions; identifying best practices in order to deliver results faster by reducing the time needed to conclude inquiries; and developing simplified procedures to promote the rapid resolution of complaints.
Monika Flašíková Benová (S&D), in writing. – (SK) The European Ombudsman, Nikiforos Diamandouros, was re-elected by Parliament in its plenary session in Strasbourg on 20 January 2010 and took his oath before the Court of Justice in Luxembourg on 25 October 2010. In May of that year, he submitted his Annual Report for 2010 to Jerzy Buzek, the President of the European Parliament. Where possible, the Ombudsman tries to achieve a positive outcome by working towards an amicable solution that is satisfactory to both the complainant and the institution concerned. In 2010 amicable solutions were found in 179 cases. If, however, an amicable solution cannot be reached, the case is either closed with a critical remark or a draft recommendation is made. In the Annual Report for 2010 special attention is drawn to the new strategy that the Ombudsman and his staff have formulated for his 2009-2014 mandate. The main objectives are to broaden and deepen contacts with EU institutions and civil society, to endeavour to provide a more rapid resolution of complaints and to provide useful information to stakeholders and the public. The institution of the Ombudsman will use this new strategy to underpin and guide its actions, which are aimed at ensuring that EU citizens enjoy their rights fully, and thereby also ensuring that the quality of the EU administration is enhanced.
Lorenzo Fontana (EFD), in writing. – (IT) The report analyses the work of the European Ombudsman using figures and statistics. In addition, the report sets out future targets and goals for the further improvement of the office in question. I shall therefore be voting in favour.
Nathalie Griesbeck (ALDE), in writing. – (FR) At a time when Europe is being criticised more and more for its remoteness from the citizens and for the lack of transparency with which it manages its affairs, I voted in favour of this text, which encourages the Ombudsman to improve access to the documents of the European institutions. The Ombudsman, in his role of providing every citizen with free and transparent access to European institutional documents, is a key contributor to European democracy. A genuine link between the citizens and the institutions, his work helps to make the European Union more open and transparent. There is still much progress to be made in this area, as the resolution emphasises, but above all as the number of complaints registered by the Ombudsman proves. The European Union is making progress on the road to transparency. It is up to the institutions and the Ombudsman to continue their efforts to make the European Union a truly modern democracy.
Jim Higgins (PPE), in writing. − I would like to echo the report in congratulating Mr Diamandouros on his re-election. It can often be challenging to communicate the message of the EU to our constituents, and the Ombudsman plays an important part in communicating that message and ensuring that the EU institutions are as transparent as possible. I remain concerned over the disproportionately high number of transparency cases brought to the Ombudsman; this is clearly an area which requires further attention. We must continue to analyse the most frequent transparency complaints and take steps to increase transparency. We must also highlight the improvements in transparency that have already occurred. Every question asked, speech made, report amended and written declaration signed by an MEP is freely available and, in many ways, the European Parliament is far more transparent than any national parliament. However we will continue to dialogue with the citizen to strive for increased transparency.
Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. − (LT) The Annual Report on the European Ombudsman’s activities in 2010 was formally submitted to the President of Parliament on 10 May 2011. I believe that attention should be drawn to the new strategy the Ombudsman has developed for his current mandate and which forms the basis for his initiatives and activities. This strategy includes, inter alia, the ongoing dialogue with complainants, civil society and other stakeholders, identifying best practices in cooperation and consultation with colleagues in the European Network of Ombudsmen, making EU procedures fairer and more transparent, and promoting a culture of service in the administrations of the EU institutions. I share the Ombudsman’s view that there is still major work to be done in persuading officials that a defensive approach to the Ombudsman represents a missed opportunity for their institutions and risks damaging the image of the Union as a whole. The answering process must be radically improved, the time taken in generating responses (especially in time-sensitive cases) must be reduced, and solution-oriented rather than defensive answers should be prepared. I note that European citizens have the right to good administration under the Charter of Fundamental Rights.
Cătălin Sorin Ivan (S&D), in writing. − The report emphasizes the positive work of the Ombudsman and points to a remarkable change from one year to the next. The Ombudsman has the duty to insist on important matters such as fundamental rights of access to documents, on proper implementation of the principle of transparency in the decision-making process, a citizen-friendly culture of service and a pro-active attitude by the EU’s institutions. I endorse this report, but there are still more things to be done. Moreover, I want to emphasize the fact that in the Eastern Partnership countries the Ombudsman has to be an important tool for democratisation and the EU has to be a positive example. There is Ombudsman cooperation, which has as its main objective to reinforce the powers of Ombudsman’s Offices in Eastern Partnership countries to participate in the building of democratic states that respect individuals’ rights.
Peter Jahr (PPE), in writing. − (DE) The institution of the European Ombudsman was 15 years old this September. Over 36 000 complaints have been dealt with since its establishment. Both of these figures are proof enough for me that the institution of the Ombudsman is playing a significant part in making Europe more accessible and understandable to its citizens. I would like to congratulate Mr Diamandouros for his achievements. In dealing with the complaints of individuals, businesses, associations and others, the Ombudsman can determine exactly where the problems lie and where improvements could be achieved. I hope that the Ombudsman continues in his good work and that he will even manage to introduce improvements wherever possible. For example, communication with our citizens should be further improved. Likewise, there should be an attempt to further reduce the time required to bring investigations to a close. I wish Mr Diamandouros every success and look forward to continued positive collaboration in the Committee on Petitions.
Giovanni La Via (PPE), in writing. – (IT) The European Ombudsman’s 2010 Annual Report reminds us of one of the most important responsibilities of this role, which is ensuring that EU citizens are aware of their rights and how to exercise them. All too often, our citizens see the EU and its activities as remote and difficult to engage with. The fact is that we must focus all our efforts on changing this perception and, instead, build genuine awareness of the EU’s relevance for its citizens. The European Ombudsman has a crucial role in this process. Indeed, the office of the Ombudsman was conceived as a link between European citizens and the EU administration, with the aim of ensuring, among other things, continuous dialogue with complainants and civil society, promoting a culture of service in the administration of EU institutions and of making decision-making procedures fairer and more transparent.
David Martin (S&D), in writing. − I voted for this report and am happy that the Office of the Ombudsman, which currently has an establishment plan of 64 posts (20 officials and 44 temporary agents) and a budget of around EUR 9 million, uses these resources to ensure that EU citizens enjoy their rights fully and to work to enhance the quality of the EU administration.
Clemente Mastella (PPE), in writing. – (IT) We welcomed the suggestions in the European Ombudsman’s 2010 annual report on a new working strategy for 2009-2014. In particular, we liked the objective – underlined several times – of listening to the interested parties to get feedback from complainants, thereby broadening and deepening contacts with EU institutions and civil society while also identifying best practices. The goal, therefore, is to improve the quality and efficiency of assisting European citizens in the event of so-called ‘maladministration’. This is all geared to achieving faster results, cutting the time needed to close investigations and developing simplified procedures to facilitate faster complaint resolution.
We think this new strategy can have a positive effect on the administrative culture of the institutions of the European Union, helping to optimise administrative procedures and concentrating on systemic problems. Improving communication with the public will play a fundamental role and it will be necessary to provide regular, timely and useful information to all parties concerned.
Mario Mauro (PPE), in writing. – (IT) I agree with the rapporteur, Ms Iotova, that despite the significant progress made in recent times, more effort is needed to further reduce the time required for inquiries so as to be able to respond better to citizens’ needs. I am voting in favour.
Mairead McGuinness (PPE), in writing. − The most common allegation examined by the Ombudsman in 2010 related to the lack of transparency in the EU administration. I support this report and its calls for the delivery of faster results by reducing the time needed to close inquiries and by developing simplified procedures for rapid resolutions of complaints.
Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. − The rapporteur approves the work of the Ombudsman and I agree with the rapporteur.
Andreas Mölzer (NI), in writing. − (DE) The office of the European Ombudsman in Strasbourg is responsible for the whole of the European Union and investigates allegations of maladministration in connection with the activities of the Union’s bodies, institutions and other offices. The Ombudsman’s activities are based on Article 8d and Article 138e of the Treaty establishing the European Community and the Decision of the European Parliament (‘Statute of the European Ombudsman’) of 9 March 1994 on the regulations and general conditions governing the performance of the Ombudsman’s duties. In 2010 alone, the office received 2 267 complaints, 326 of which were conclusively investigated. Twelve investigations were carried out on the Ombudsman’s own initiative. The most frequent complaints concern a lack of transparency, with Germany filing the most complaints, followed by Spain. Sixty-four temporary posts and a budget of around EUR 9 million were agreed for the period 2009-2014 in order to improve the work of the Ombudsman. I abstained from voting because I believe that the general population, above all, is not adequately informed of the activities of the Ombudsman.
Rolandas Paksas (EFD), in writing. − (LT) I welcome the European Ombudsman’s Annual Report on his activities in 2010, which is an excellent basis on which to learn about the Ombudsman’s work in investigating complaints by citizens, businesses and organisations and in promoting the highest administrative standards within EU institutions and bodies.
I believe that the Ombudsman’s new strategy will be an effective and appropriate framework for establishing an ongoing dialogue with complainants, civil society and other stakeholders and further encouraging harmonious relations between citizens and civil servants.
I support his initiative to regularly publish studies in which he examines the EU institutions’ follow-up to his critical remarks.
Moreover, it is very important that the Ombudsman should in future continue to operate as openly and transparently as possible and make the best possible use of available resources.
Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. – (PT) I voted for this report on the Annual Report on the European Ombudsman’s Activities in 2010. In the annual report for 2010, submitted to Parliament, particular attention is given to the new strategy that the Ombudsman and his staff have formulated for his 2009-2014 mandate. The aims of this are not only to listen to stakeholders by obtaining feedback from complainants, broadening and deepening contacts with the EU institutions and civil society, and identifying best practices, but also to deliver results faster by reducing the time needed to conclude inquiries, and to develop simplified procedures, so as to promote the rapid resolution of complaints. I believe these are worthy and necessary objectives for an institution which is very often the public’s last resort in resolving their problems with the administration.
Aldo Patriciello (PPE), in writing. – (IT) Considering the fundamental importance of the role played by the European Ombudsman, as demonstrated by the significant achievements of the 15 years since the office was established, I am voting in favour of the new strategy for the European Ombudsman in order to ensure that EU citizens can benefit fully from their rights.
Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. – (PT) The Ombudsman, whose status is founded on Article 228 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, functions as a safeguard for the EU public in its interactions with the EU institutions, as set out in Article 43 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. It is a public office with two essential functions: firstly, it is a way to settle conflicts without resorting to official control bodies like the courts; secondly, it makes their status activus libertatis a reality, which is desirable for the EU public. The time of the Ombudsman’s submission of his annual report is always an ideal time to draw out lessons for the future. As such, EU policy must continue in the direction of supporting this office and seeking to disseminate information on its activities and functions. This is especially important since, in countries like Portugal, which do not have a tradition of an Ombudsman, the public are all too often not aware of this resource. On the other hand, it is also important to create a climate of cooperation between the EU institutions, so as to maximise the Ombudsman’s contribution. As these points have been vetted by Parliament, I voted for this report.
Robert Rochefort (ALDE), in writing. – (FR) The existence of an Ombudsman is crucial to any democratic and effective relationship between administrations and citizens. According to the Ombudsman’s 2010 annual report, 2 667 complaints were received in 2010, by such an assorted group as citizens, non-governmental organisations, associations and regional offices. It is extremely encouraging to see that the Ombudsman has succeeded in helping the complainant in 70% of cases, more often than not by striving to find an amicable solution. I am also pleased to note that almost 58% of the complaints were made via the Internet. Online forms make it easier for citizens to exercise this right, and I hope that they will help to facilitate and speed up the procedures. Ms Iotova’s report, which I support, highlights these advances while proposing specific measures to improve the Ombudsman’s work: establishing an ongoing dialogue with complainants and stakeholders, increasing transparency by promoting full access to documents, strengthening the dialogue between the European Ombudsman and national ombudsmen, and disseminating best practices. These advances are necessary, and I am delighted that they have been included in the report.
Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. − In favour. On 10 May 2011, the European Ombudsman presented his Annual Report 2010 to Jerzy Buzek, the President of the European Parliament. On 23 May 2011 he presented his report at the meeting of Parliament’s Committee on Petitions, which is the committee responsible for relations with his institution. Mr Nikiforos Diamandouros, the European Ombudsman, was re-elected by the European Parliament in its plenary Strasbourg session on 20 January 2010 and he took the solemn oath of office before the Court of Justice of the European Union in Luxembourg on 25 October 2010. The legal basis for the European Ombudsman’s mandate is Article 228 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) and he is empowered to receive complaints concerning instances of maladministration in the activities of European Union institutions(1).
The right to complain to the European Ombudsman is provided for in Article 24 TFEU and in Article 43 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. With the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty, the Ombudsman’s mandate was broadened to include possible maladministration in the framework of the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP), including the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP).
Licia Ronzulli (PPE), in writing. – (IT) One year ago, the institution of the European Ombudsman’s office celebrated its 15th anniversary. Over the years, the Ombudsman has dealt with more than 36 000 complaints and completed more than 3 800 inquiries into possible maladministration. The result of processing so many complaints is that the institution has accumulated a considerable body of experience, which gives the Ombudsman a clear insight into trends in maladministration, systemic problems and structural weaknesses in the administrations of EU institutions. This enables it to provide redress, help raise the quality of EU administrations and help ensure that good practices are being spread and applied. When possible, the Ombudsman seeks to achieve a positive outcome by working towards a friendly solution that is satisfactory to both parties. The Ombudsman’s work must, lastly, be given every opportunity to improve in the exclusive interest of European citizens.
Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. – (PT) The EU Charter of Fundamental Rights recognises a range of personal, civil, political, economic and social rights of EU citizens and residents, enshrining them in EU law. While Article 41 sets out the way in which the affairs of members of the public should be dealt with, Article 43 highlights the right for petitions to be submitted to the Ombudsman in cases of maladministration in the activities of the EU institutions. I am voting for this report, as it demonstrates that the EU has made an effort to reduce the average time required for completing inquiries, and because it continues to insist on the fundamental right of access to documents and to promote the public’s trust in the EU civil service and institutions. I would also like to congratulate the Ombudsman on his clear strategy of prioritising ongoing dialogue with complainants, civil society and other stakeholders, as well as making every effort to identify the best practices adopted by his colleagues in the European Network of Ombudsmen and to make EU procedures fairer and, above all, more transparent.
Marie-Christine Vergiat (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (FR) I voted in favour of this text, which presents and evaluates the European Ombudsman’s annual report.
Having an intermediary between the citizens and the European institutions allows the people to flag up shortcomings and cases of maladministration. It turns out to be a useful asset when trying to strengthen links between citizens and institutions and to promote democracy.
This annual report, laid down in the texts, demonstrates the importance that the European Parliament accords to matters of citizenship and good administration. It is the role of the European Parliament to evaluate this work, to make suggestions for improvements and to identify new goals.
Amongst its objectives, the report mentions two that are of interest to me: the improvement of citizen access to documents so that they can understand the work of their elected representatives, and the drafting of a document on public services with the aim of introducing a public service culture into the European Union.
It remains to be seen what practical follow-up there will be to this report. Nevertheless, I remain more sceptical about this.
Oldřich Vlasák (ECR), in writing. - (CS) I abstained from the vote on the report presented by Iliana Malinova Iotova on the annual report of the European Ombudsman for 2010 because, among other things, I cannot agree with the assertion that ‘the role of the Ombudsman in enhancing openness and accountability in the decision-making processes and administration of the European Union is an essential contribution towards a Union in which decisions are taken as openly as possible and as closely as possible to the citizen.’ The vast majority of Member State citizens know nothing about the activities of the European Ombudsman and have never heard of this institution.
Angelika Werthmann (NI), in writing. − (DE) The mandate of the European Ombudsman is to investigate complaints about the way in which the EU’s institutions are administered. There were 2 667 new complaints registered in 2010, with the Ombudsman succeeding in bringing 326 investigations to a conclusion, more than half of them with an amicable resolution. In its 15 years of existence, the office of the European Ombudsman has succeeded in gathering broad expertise in relation to the structural administrative weaknesses of the EU, enabling the Ombudsman to offer frequent support to the European Parliament and its work. I have voted in favour of this report.
Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. – (PT) In this proposal for a directive, the Commission is intending to make progress on combating sexual abuse, sexual exploitation and the depiction of sexual acts involving persons under the age of 18 years. The proposal assumes that criminal offences in this area are on the increase, and that the development of modern means of communication is exacerbating this problem, while criminal and administrative legislation, and regulations in the EU Member States are neither tough enough nor coherent enough. The proposal contains provisions setting out criminal offences and penalties. Nonetheless, it should be stressed that electronic media content depicting sexual acts involving persons under the age of 18 must be removed as rapidly as possible. Blocking mechanisms are of limited effect, imprecise and easily bypassed. What we need is a multidimensional strategy that will strengthen and enhance the cooperation between police forces, Internet operators, existing Internet complaints bodies and the International Association of Internet Hotlines network of Internet service providers.
Laima Liucija Andrikienė (PPE), in writing. − I voted in favour of this important resolution on the Sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children and child pornography. Sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children are particularly serious forms of crime as they are directed against children, the most vulnerable members of our society. These crimes cause long-term physical, psychological and social harm to victims and undermine the core values of a modern society relating to the special protection of children and trust in the relevant State institutions. Therefore, I strongly support the introduction of stricter and higher penalties for the crimes mentioned. I fully support this document, which aims to establish minimum rules concerning the definition of criminal offences and sanctions in the area of sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children, child pornography and solicitation of children for sexual purposes, while also aiming to introduce provisions to strengthen the prevention of the crime and the protection of its victims. It is of great importance that we Members of the European Parliament have voted in favour of introducing the concept of ‘child sex tourism’ for the first time in EU legislation and have also taken strict measures against websites containing or disseminating child pornography.
Pino Arlacchi (S&D), in writing. − I voted for this report in view of the importance of the Directive on combating the sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children and child pornography. This document aims to establish minimum rules concerning the definition of criminal offences and sanctions in the area of sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children, child pornography and solicitation of children for sexual purposes. As the European Parliament report underlines, this directive should be fully complementary with the directive on preventing and combating trafficking in human beings, and protecting victims. In addition to that, this report asks for reinforced protection for victims and prevention measures, both at EU level and at Member States level. The text stresses also that Member States must ensure the prompt removal of web-pages containing or disseminating child pornography hosted in their territory and endeavour to obtain the removal of such pages hosted outside of their territory, measures that I consider to be of primary importance.
Sophie Auconie (PPE), in writing. – (FR) Firmly committed as I am to respect for fundamental rights and to combating the sexual abuse of children, I voted in favour of the report by my colleague Ms Angelilli. The report introduces measures relating to the prevention of such abuse, the prosecution of offenders and the protection of victims.
Liam Aylward (ALDE), in writing. − (GA) More than 200 new pornographic photographs of children are posted on the Internet every day, therefore the EU must introduce legislation that would empower the EU and Member States to adopt strong coordinated measures to protect children and to prosecute appropriately those who take advantage of them.
It is not good enough that effective coordination is not taking place in the EU to combat the sexual abuse of children. A comprehensive approach must be implemented, including the prosecution of offenders, the protection of children and the prevention of such offences. People could be prevented from accessing this content online and the EU could be empowered to prohibit certain sites from outside the EU. Coordinated penalties and minimum sentences for 20 offences would provide a strong foundation for a coordinated European approach. It is also a strong point that Member States can impose stronger penalties when deemed necessary.
I also support the recommendation in relation to implementing legal measures in all Member States to ensure protection for victims during legal proceedings.
Regina Bastos (PPE), in writing. – (PT) The sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children, including child pornography, constitute serious violations of fundamental rights, in particular children’s right to the protection and care necessary for their well-being, as laid down in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. This report provides for tougher criminal penalties against those sexually abusing children or accessing child pornography on the Internet. It also forces Member States to remove websites with child pornography content. Where this is not possible, access to these sites must be blocked. It criminalises the soliciting of children through the Internet for sexual purposes or child sex tourism, whether the crime is committed in the territory of a Member State or by a European citizen outside Europe. It also provides for banning, temporarily or permanently, people convicted of sexual crimes from professional activities involving direct or regular contact with children. I therefore voted for this report.
Vilija Blinkevičiūtė (S&D), in writing. − (LT) I voted in favour of this European Parliament report because this Directive is a huge step forward in ensuring as far as possible that there is broader and more effective cooperation between EU Member States and between the EU and third countries in combating the sexual exploitation of children and child pornography. Studies show that about 10-20% of minors in Europe may have experienced sexual abuse in childhood. The sexual exploitation of children is the most serious and cruellest of crimes committed against children. The European Parliament thus proposes that stiffer penalties should be imposed for such crimes throughout the EU because then the EU Member States would not be able to apply more lenient sentences to child abusers. The new Directive calls for the criminal prosecution of activities such as child grooming. It is proposed that sex tourists who go abroad to abuse children should be prosecuted on their return home. Much attention is given to the protection and support of victims and subsequent crime prevention. It has been agreed in this Directive that children and parents must be educated about online dangers, and that psychological and other types of help should be given to victims and their families. One of the most important achievements of this Directive is the prevention of such crimes through, for example, education, the training of officials working in the area, and cooperation with relevant civil society organisations.
John Bufton (EFD), in writing. − UKIP is firmly against all forms of sexual offences against children and in favour of tough, comprehensive criminal law to criminalise all forms of sexual offences against young people. The UK already has a considerable body of criminal law dealing with these crimes and remains at the forefront of developing new laws and techniques to combat perpetrators' activities as they develop in the internet age. UKIP supports the thrust of this report but cannot, as a matter of principle, concede to the EU the right to determine UK criminal law. For that reason we have abstained.
Alain Cadec (PPE), in writing. – (FR) I voted in favour of the report on combating the sexual abuse, sexual exploitation of children and child pornography. This report is a genuine step forward in the fight against child pornography. It provides, in particular, for the possibility for employers, when recruiting a person for activities involving contact with children, to request information on that person with regard to the existence of convictions for child sexual abuse.
Maria Da Graça Carvalho (PPE), in writing. – (PT) I voted for this directive, which provides for tougher criminal penalties against people who sexually abuse children or access child pornography on the Internet. Studies reveal that between 10 and 20% of children in Europe suffer some form of sexual abuse. I agree with the rules proposed in the directive, which also force Member States to remove websites with child pornography content or, where this is not possible, enable them to block access to these sites.
Lara Comi (PPE), in writing. – (IT) I voted in favour of this report because I think it is extremely important to take robust measures to protect children from things like child abuse, exploitation and child pornography. Such acts of violence cause permanent damage to children, not only in physical terms but also psychologically and socially. Hence we need to adopt more draconian measures to discourage the abuse of children in this way. In an era that is now completely dominated by information technology (IT), we have seen a terrifying increase in the dissemination of child pornography, which can be easily found through websites.
I therefore support preventative measures that can restrict access to sites that disseminate videos and photos containing children. I also think a global joining of forces would be worthwhile and necessary in order to build international cooperation on fighting such despicable abuse. Action to prevent these phenomena is just as important: a society that protects children would make such behaviour inacceptable in short order.
Corina Creţu (S&D), in writing. − (RO) In the current political, economic and financial context, children are the most exposed and most vulnerable category. Poverty, inadequate social security systems, conflicts and military interventions are the main causes leading to an increase in the number of abuses, rights violations and abandoned children. Serious offences such as the sexual exploitation of children, child pornography, abuse and detention call for strict and immediate measures, including the prosecution of offenders, their punishment, protection against unlawful recruitment and use by armed forces and armed groups, and prevention of the phenomenon. Regrettably, more and more children are being exploited and used for begging, theft and prostitution in EU countries.
Vasilica Viorica Dăncilă (S&D), in writing. − (RO) Some studies in this area have found that sexual abuse of children is underreported and underestimated most of the time, and children who are victims of sexual abuse suffer lifelong consequences. We all know that sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children are particularly serious forms of crime which have negative effects on their victims and require them to receive special care and protection. This abuse leaves serious long-term physical, psychological and social scars on its victims.
I believe that differences between national laws and procedures at the level of EU Member States might give rise to differences as regards investigation and prosecution, and convicted offenders may continue to present a danger after serving their sentences. This is why these differences should be eliminated and aligned with a European standard. I believe that a harmonisation of definitions relating to sexual abuse of children and the creation of legal certainty regarding the sexual exploitation of children should be a key objective for all Member States.
Marielle De Sarnez (ALDE), in writing. – (FR) The Internet is a wonderful information, communication and exchange tool. Unfortunately, however, it has also become an instrument for disseminating child pornography material, because of the anonymity it provides, its speed, its availability and the low cost to access it. Child pornography is the fastest growing criminal activity on the Internet, generating as much as USD 20 billion, according to a UN study. There is an urgent need, therefore, to combat more effectively the perpetrators of this abuse and the people who disseminate it. This type of crime takes full advantage of the ‘borderless’ nature of the new ways of distributing content on the Internet, which encourages the creation of supremely organised criminal groups. Action must therefore be taken at European level. From now on the Member States must remove at their source or, if that is not possible from a technical point of view, block, webpages containing or disseminating child pornography. To do so, they will be able to act on the basis of legislative, judicial or other measures. The European Union will also have to cooperate more effectively with third countries to secure the removal of such content when the offending sites are hosted outside the EU.
Cornelia Ernst (GUE/NGL), in writing. − Sexual crimes against children constitute one of the most abhorrent crimes, and we must do our utmost to prevent them from taking place. This report provides tools to do just that, and I welcome many of the new provisions. The main reason why I could not support this report is because it also introduces provisions which allow for access to certain Internet web sites to be blocked. I wholeheartedly agree that the mass dissemination of images of abuse through the Internet must be stopped; however, this can only be achieved through the removal at source of such material. However, if we want to allow blocking as a complementary measure, we must ensure that the conditions and safeguards for blocking are stringent and in conformity with our fundamental rights. This is particularly important as such provisions are being introduced in EU legislation for the very first time, and therefore set a precedent. However, the current provisions fall short of these standards because they are not stringent enough and may, therefore, pave the way for restricting internet users on a broader scale, thus leading to the censorship of the Internet on the basis of intellectual property rights breaches or other minor offences.
Edite Estrela (S&D), in writing. – (PT) I voted for this report, as it advocates tougher penalties for crimes involving child abuse, exploitation and pornography. I would stress the importance of new rules, which have already been agreed on with the EU Council of Ministers, forcing Member States to remove websites with child pornography content and reinforcing measures to prevent these crimes and protect victims.
Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. – (PT) I believe the sexual exploitation and abuse of children and child pornography are particularly serious crimes because they are perpetrated against people who, owing to their age, are weaker than and often dependent on their aggressors, and are therefore more heavily subjected to all kinds of violence and abuse. There is an urgent need for legislation setting out common measures to combat crimes related to child pornography and the sexual exploitation of children, many of them committed online. There is also a need for European rules enabling the effective combating of websites with paedophilic content or promoting paedophilia, along with child pornography websites, and for laws punishing those who use them. Stricter measures are also needed for those committing crimes of sexual exploitation and abuse of children. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child mentions children’s right to full and harmonious development. It also lays down the right to protection against ‘all forms of physical or mental violence, injury and abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation, including sexual abuse’. We should not allow these rights to remain mere words on the page.
José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. – (PT) The abuse and exploitation of children and child pornography are unacceptable activities in a free and responsible society. Unfortunately, situations of poverty and underdevelopment in some countries encourage these practices, which are able to proliferate because of new ‘information highways’. This report, drafted by Ms Angelilli, deals with the proposal for a directive of Parliament and the Council on combating the sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children and child pornography, repealing Framework Decision 2004/68/JHA. Between 10 and 20% of minors are at risk of being victims of sexual violence. A child victim of sexual violence is scarred for life. The current legislation is obsolete, so it is of crucial importance to adopt a directive which ensures a higher degree of protection for children, both in the EU and elsewhere. I welcome the approval of this report and I hope this directive will be adopted by all the Member States as soon as possible, since any sexual abuse of children is unacceptable and there is an urgent need to put an end to child sex tourism, as well as to impede the abusive exhibition of images of children on the Internet.
João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (PT) Sexual abuse and exploitation of children are horrendous crimes that need to be combated and prevented. This report proposes certain instruments for doing this, some of which are appropriate and positive. However, provisions have been introduced alongside these about which we have major reservations and concerns, such as those enabling access to certain websites to be blocked. Of course, we agree that the circulation of images of child abuse and pornography on the Internet should be rigorously fought and halted, but this can only be done effectively by removing this material at source. The provisions included in this report do not offer full or sufficient assurances that blocking websites – the possibility of which is appearing for the first time in EU legislation, thus setting a precedent – will not open the way for forms of censorship of the Internet and other areas. It is also important to mention that the issue of the sexual exploitation of children cannot be dissociated from these children’s social conditions, as it is known that children from families in poverty face a greater risk of being targeted by this kind of crime. These causes should also be rigorously combated.
Carlo Fidanza (PPE), in writing. – (IT) All too often, the crimes of child pornography and sexual abuse of children go unmentioned and are difficult to track down because of the technology that is used. These crimes violate all basic rights and require greater, more focused attention. By implementing thoroughgoing legislation we can set up a robust system to prevent these crimes, including particularly close attention to the Internet, which is often used by unsupervised children of an increasingly young age and represents a dangerous way to exploit and groom children through social networks and unmonitored websites. Much also remains to be done to combat sex tourism, as set out in the declarations of the World Tourism Organisation, by bringing in the best possible regulations on punishing EU citizens who travel to countries where it is easy to have sexual relations with children. In order to facilitate the prosecution of those who commit these crimes, we need to find ways of cooperating with the governments of these countries, which too often deny the serious situation they are tangled up in due to the revenues brought in by such criminal tourism. I voted in favour because I want to see the introduction of a policy which, if it is to be truly effective, must provide a comprehensive approach to prevent and combat these crimes and, not least, to protect victims.
Ilda Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (PT) This report tackles an important issue: combating the sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children, as well as fighting paedophilia. We would highlight the need to prioritise the strengthening and creation of more conditions for prosecuting these crimes. Nonetheless, we believe it is crucial to focus this debate on the victims themselves, in this case children, who have suffered terrible physical and psychological violence, thus making it crucial to monitor the victims and their families throughout their lives. We also have a number of reservations in relation to the standardisation of legislation in this area, which could be a problem for solving these crimes. We would also say that one cannot be permissive or ignore the reality of the sexual exploitation of minors, namely children in disadvantaged socioeconomic situations. As we know, these matters are never random, and questions of class certainly enter into the debate.
Monika Flašíková Benová (S&D) , in writing. – (SK) Sexual abuse, sexual exploitation of children and child pornography constitute serious violations of fundamental rights, in particular the rights of the child to protection and care as is necessary for his or her well-being, as stipulated by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. Such violations bring child victims long-term physical, mental and social harm, and the mere existence of these reprehensible crimes often undermines confidence in the fundamental values of modern society, in particular those concerning the special protection of children. Although reliable and accurate statistics are not available, studies indicate that a small, yet by no means negligible, number of children in Europe may be victims of sexual attack. The occurrence of certain forms of sexual violence has, moreover, an upward trend, and is disseminated mainly by the use of new technology and the Internet. I am of the opinion that such serious criminal offences require a holistic approach that involves the prosecution of offenders and the protection of child victims, but above all it is necessary to employ all the available means to effectively prevent this serious crime. In the implementation of repressive measures in the fight against such abominations it is absolutely necessary to always and under all circumstances primarily take into account the best interests of the child, which is in accordance with the aforementioned Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Lorenzo Fontana (EFD), in writing. – (IT) This is a delicate and very important subject. The report provides for new crimes that relate in particular to the threats posed by the development of information technology. The directive thus establishes 22 types of crime, while leaving Member States the option to impose harsher punishments. Ensuring that Member States have clear legal obligations on punishing crimes against children is an essential step in creating a Europe that takes more care on this subject. I will therefore be voting in favour.
Louis Grech (S&D), in writing. − The Union must fully realise the dangers that come with new technological developments, particularly ICT and the internet, when talking about sexual abuse, sexual exploitation of children and child pornography. The sexual exploitation of children and child pornography has long existed, but a significant increase of cases of sexual exploitation of children, particularly across borders, over the years should point to the gravity of the problem. New, evolutionary developments in communication and information technology facilitate sexual offenders to reach their victims and easily abuse their rights. Sexual predators are also constantly provided with different instruments to buy, produce, distribute, transmit, and supply child pornography pictures and videos across Europe. Child abuse and pornography span the Europe Union and are not limited to individual Member States; therefore, we need a comprehensive pan-European approach that centres around the best interests of the child. I believe that this Directive, if implemented accordingly, will be a valuable legal instrument which will establish minimum rules and criminalise the most serious forms of child sexual abuse. It will make a real difference in covering the prosecution of offenders, strengthening the protection of child victims, and preventing an increase of the phenomenon as well as future crimes against children.
Sylvie Guillaume (S&D), in writing. – (FR) I supported the report on the sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children, including child pornography. It is the second European criminal law legislation to harmonise sanctions and prison sentences for these crimes. After lengthy debates, the final text includes the principle of removing images and material relating to child pornography from the Internet, which is a much more effective method than that of blocking sites showing child abuse, as had previously been envisaged. The Union is arming itself with a veritable arsenal of judicial and penal weapons to combat this form of criminal activity, as well as subsequent offences.
Mikael Gustafsson (GUE/NGL), in writing. − (SV) I voted in favour of the report on the basis of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the fact that the welfare of the child must come first. Child pornography is a cross-border problem that harms children and therefore I support measures to combat it. The technique of blocking websites is certainly not very effective and the websites just reappear somewhere else. However, it is a usable tool. Removing or blocking material on the Internet is, however, a restriction of the freedom of expression and must be done in a legally certain manner. Internet users must be informed of the reason why a site is blocked and how they can appeal against it. It is also important that the EU rules that are introduced do not interfere with Sweden’s work to prevent child pornography. Member States that already have a good system in place for combating child pornography must be allowed to retain it.
Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. − (LT) I welcomed this document because the European Commission is seeking by means of this proposal to make progress in combating sexual abuse and sexual exploitation and the depiction of sexual acts involving persons under the age of 18 years. The proposal assumes that criminal offences in this area will increase, that the development of modern communications will exacerbate this problem and that the regulations in the EU Member States are neither tough enough nor coherent enough. This Directive establishes minimum rules concerning the definition of criminal offences and sanctions in the area of sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children, child pornography and solicitation of children for sexual purposes. It also introduces provisions to strengthen the prevention of such crimes and the protection of victims. It is therefore necessary to improve the situation in this area. I also support the provisions under which legal persons would also be punishable.
Kent Johansson (ALDE), in writing. − (SV) Crimes involving child pornography must be combated forcefully, and I am in favour of the EU taking steps to further strengthen the protection of children. However, the solution is not to be found in blocking Internet sites that may contain criminal material, as such measures involve turning a blind eye to the problem rather than preventing the attacks from taking place. Blocking the websites of private actors can also give rise to huge problems from the point of view of legal certainty. It is therefore good that this report does not focus on blocking as a method, but prescribes other methods instead. I voted in favour of the report.
Giovanni La Via (PPE), in writing. – (IT) Firstly, I should like to thank Ms Angelilli for her admirable work on this report. The abuse and exploitation of children is a very delicate matter that requires the utmost institutional and legislative rigour. I think that prosecuting and punishing those who commit this type of crime, which is extremely serious, because it is committed against those who are less able than others to defend themselves, must be among the main objectives of a Europe-wide piece of legislation, particularly now, after the ratification of the Treaty of Lisbon. Today’s report moves towards a complete analysis of the issue, which encounters problems when it touches on some less tangible but more dangerous areas, such as the use of the Internet in child-pornography crimes. Protecting children from this kind of crime must, as the report states, also include education and training for the child after any trauma that the child may have suffered. Bringing together the various aspects of the issue, while managing to involve non-profit organisations working around the world and in Europe, is an excellent way to defeat a crime that we all think of as the epithet of awfulness, since it involves the most vulnerable of people: children.
Sabine Lösing and Kyriacos Triantaphyllides (GUE/NGL), in writing. − Sexual crimes against children constitute one of the most abhorrent crimes, and we must do our utmost to prevent them from taking place. This report provides tools to do just that, and I welcome many of the new provisions. The main reason why I could not support this report is because it also introduces provisions which allow for access to certain Internet web sites to be blocked. I wholeheartedly agree that the mass dissemination of images of abuse through the Internet must be stopped; however, this can only be achieved through the removal at source of such material. However, if we want to allow blocking as a complementary measure, we must ensure that the conditions and safeguards for blocking are stringent and in conformity with our fundamental rights. This is particularly important as such provisions are being introduced in EU legislation for the very first time, and therefore set a precedent. However, the current provisions fall short of these standards because they are not stringent enough and may, therefore, pave the way for restricting internet users on a wider scale, thus leading to the censorship of the Internet on the basis of intellectual property rights breaches or other minor offences.
Petru Constantin Luhan (PPE), in writing. − (RO) This proposal for a directive comes at the right time given that the number of paedophilia cases has risen alarmingly in recent years. In view of the fact that approximately 20% of perpetrators of sexual offences repeat the offence after conviction, I believe that more severe punishment is required than a few years’ imprisonment, depending on the seriousness of the situation.
For repeat child sex offenders, I believe that we should apply penalties such as chemical castration or a life sentence. Let us not forget that chemical castration is already prescribed in countries such as Denmark, Sweden, the Czech Republic and the United States, and was also introduced in Poland last year. It is our duty to examine and apply harsher penalties to repeat paedophiles at European level too.
David Martin (S&D), in writing. − I voted for this resolution, which says that serious forms of child sexual abuse and sexual exploitation should be subject to effective, proportionate and dissuasive sanctions. This includes, in particular, various forms of sexual abuse and sexual exploitation facilitated by the use of information and communication technologies, such as the online solicitation of children for sexual purposes via social networking websites and chat rooms. The definition of child pornography should also be clarified and brought closer to that contained in international instruments.
Clemente Mastella (PPE), in writing. – (IT) Sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children are particularly serious forms of crime and can cause long-term physical, psychological and social harm. It is clear that it is right to take an approach which seeks to address the root causes of the problem with a view to eliminating this crime, the nature of which is changing rapidly, especially with the ongoing progress of technology and its application. In the past, child pornography was limited to physical applications such as the post or photographs. Now, the images can be sent around the world using the Internet, quickly and without cost. The criminal nature of these acts requires strong and robust action. We had a lengthy debate on the issue of blocking and deleting website content.
We need to strike a careful balance between freedom of expression and protecting children. It is incumbent upon the Member States to work with Internet service providers to ensure that children are protected from illegal activity by a system of checks. Member States must firstly delete websites containing or disseminating child pornography or, if this cannot be achieved, block access to these web pages.
Mario Mauro (PPE), in writing. - (IT) It is absolutely essential that serious crimes such as the sexual exploitation of children and child pornography are tackled on a global level, through an initiative that provides for criminal action against the perpetrators, protection for victims and combating this phenomenon. I am voting in favour.
Mairead McGuinness (PPE), in writing. − The protection of children from sexual abuse and exploitation should be a priority in all Member States. I voted in favour of this report, which seeks to combat the sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children by criminalising any such abuse and exploitation not currently covered by EU legislation.
Louis Michel (ALDE), in writing. – (FR) Child sexual abuse is a heinous crime that demands a strong response. It seriously jeopardises the health and psychosocial development of children and very often has irreversible effects, ruining their lives. People who force a child to take part in sexual acts or to enter prostitution must receive exemplary sentences. The directive that we have just adopted will introduce harsh penalties at EU level for the perpetrators of abuse and people who look at images of child sex abuse on the Internet, which has, moreover, allowed for the development of new types of sexual abuse, such as online grooming for sexual purposes. Those who produce child pornography, but equally those who consume it, will be prosecuted and liable to receive harsh sentences. I also welcome the obligation to remove all child pornographic content on the Internet at its source throughout the Member States. Prevention measures aimed at raising awareness of this scourge and reducing the risk of children becoming victims of sexual exploitation are also necessary, as is the care and protection of children before, during and after a criminal procedure.
Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. − This Directive aims to establish minimum rules concerning the definition of criminal offences and sanctions in the area of sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children, child pornography and solicitation of children for sexual purposes. It defines offences concerning sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, and solicitation of children for sexual purposes and aggravating circumstances thereto, as well as the minimum maximum levels of penalties for the offences. The Directive also defines the rules on seizure and confiscation of instrumentalities and proceeds of such crimes as well as assistance and support for the victims, and preventive intervention programmes and measures. The Directive also defines the measures against websites. This Directive is extremely important and |I voted in favour.
Andreas Mölzer (NI), in writing. − (DE) Tougher sanctions against these crimes will only work if we also abolish limitation and prescription periods at the same time. This is doubly important when one realises that sexual abuse can often have a destructive impact on the next generation. Breaking the perpetrator-victim-perpetrator cycles, which can extend over many generations, not only requires comprehensive legal investigation with harsh punishment for the perpetrators, but also more treatment by psychotherapists. We should not overlook the recent rise in so-called virtual child pornography, in other words the depiction of sexual acts on children using computer animations. We must also take significant steps against child prostitution on European soil, for example in regions near the EU’s borders in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Ukraine, the Baltic and Poland. These improved measures at EU level to combat the sexual abuse of children are to be welcomed.
Claudio Morganti (EFD), in writing. – (IT) I decided to vote in favour of this report since it helps clarify and better regulate the issue of child sexual abuse and child pornography. Indeed, the report brings in the first ever regulations to protect children from the dangers of the Internet, including the heinous act of online grooming, while also setting out tough regulations on those that sell and disseminate child pornography.
The Internet has become the final frontier of paedophilia and is, unfortunately, used increasingly by these loathsome criminals; it was therefore right to provide better regulation on this subject. People who exploit children outside the European Union – by which I mean sex tourism, of course – will also be subject to greater attention and harsher rules. Europe could not stand by and silently watch these crimes, which are often committed by EU citizens in Asian or South American countries. These individuals will find it increasingly difficult to take such trips and will know that they could be prosecuted at any time. We therefore hope that all these measures will help eliminate all kinds of child abuse.
Siiri Oviir (ALDE), in writing. − (ET) It is regrettable that the struggle against child sexual abuse and child pornography has not received sufficient attention due to various global problems. Child pornography runs rampant on the anonymous Internet, and unfortunately European law-enforcement bodies have had great difficulty in identifying its distributors, as a result of which they have developed a sense of impunity. Those who sexually abuse children must take into consideration that their actions have extremely serious consequences for the victim and also for themselves, through the administration of justice. I approve of the fact that this report improves the Europe-wide legal framework and also devotes more attention to preventive activities. The creation of a corresponding information service and the training of officials to ensure that they are better able to identify victims or potential victims of sexual abuse are certainly of great importance.
Rolandas Paksas (EFD), in writing. − (LT) I voted in favour of this resolution because sexual abuse is a particularly serious form of child abuse.
In order to prevent such crimes and create a safer environment for children in society, it is necessary to create a mechanism for combating sexual abuse against children, the sexual exploitation of children and child pornography and take decisive and effective action at EU level.
It should be noted that EU Member States’ regulations in this area are not tough enough and, moreover, that the incidence of such crimes is constantly growing as a result of the development of modern communications. Consequently, protection for victims and prevention at EU level must be reinforced. The penalties imposed must be effective, proportional to the seriousness of the offence and provide a deterrent. I believe that it is right to provide for criminal liability of legal persons for these crimes.
Georgios Papanikolaou (PPE), in writing. – (EL) Minors rarely find the courage to speak about the crimes committed against them. This silence, firstly, encourages criminals to keep offending, secondly, prevents the authorities from acting to eliminate it and, thirdly and most importantly, children continue to be abused, with incalculable consequences on their life, health and personality; at the same time, the consequences of this particular crime clearly affect the child in later life and hence the future of society. Studies into the problem estimate that between 10% and 20% of children have been sexually abused. These figures are terrifying. An approach needs to be chosen and applied that aims to address the underlying causes of the problem in a bid to combat this crime. A society that encourages respect for vulnerable people, such as children, should make a consistent effort to foster a culture in which the sexual abuse and exploitation of children are considered intolerable. This is the spirit of the report and I voted in favour of it.
Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. – (PT) I voted for this proposal for a directive, which provides for tougher criminal penalties against people who sexually abuse children or access child pornography on the Internet. This is one of the most despicable crimes in today’s societies and a determined effort is needed to combat it from various converging angles. The rules voted on have been agreed with the EU Council of Ministers, forcing Member States to remove websites with child pornography content, and reinforcing measures to prevent these crimes and protect victims.
Aldo Patriciello (PPE), in writing. - (IT) The sexual abuse and exploitation of children is a social plague that is not only a serious violation of fundamental rights, but is also characterised by the scant protection and care required for children’s well-being. Technology and breaking down the barriers of distance by using the Internet mean that this phenomenon can creep into daily life more easily, thus allowing this awful phenomenon to grow. In this light, harmonising Member States’ legislation on the sexual abuse and exploitation of children by treating the most serious forms of abuse as crimes is a key way to avoid its spreading further, I am voting in favour to ensure that measures are brought in to protect young victims.
Rovana Plumb (S&D), in writing. − (RO) The EU recognises the rights, freedoms and principles of the Charter of Fundamental Rights, which stipulates that, in all actions relating to children, the child's best interests must be the primary consideration. Likewise, the multiannual Stockholm Programme gives a clear priority to combating sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children and child pornography.
This Directive aims to establish minimum rules concerning the definition of criminal offences and sanctions in the area of sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children, child pornography and solicitation of children for sexual purposes. It also aims to introduce provisions to strengthen the prevention of the crime and the protection of its victims. Member States should take appropriate measures, such as education and professional training, to discourage and reduce all forms of sexual exploitation related to the exploitation of children, and to conduct information and awareness-raising campaigns, as well as research and education programmes aimed at raising public awareness and reducing the risk of children becoming victims of sexual exploitation.
Member States should also promote regular training for officials who come into contact with child victims of sexual exploitation, including police officers, aimed at enabling them to identify and deal with victims and potential victims of sexual exploitation.
Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. – (PT) Sexual exploitation of children and child pornography has, in recent years, come to the forefront of public debate. It is, in fact, a practice which completely stifles the self-determination of abused children and often has a lifelong impact on the individual. Yet demand for these products increases the incidence of abuse, fuelling the illegal trafficking of children and related practices, and contributing to the continuation of a practice which should be entirely eliminated from modern society. Nonetheless, today’s media society makes available a whole range of means, which facilitate international trafficking networks in unprecedented ways. Furthermore, if we understand the EU as an area of freedom, we see that an effective response can only come from a common approach. That is the laudable purpose of this directive, which is at its first reading, and which deserves to be applauded.
Frédérique Ries (ALDE), in writing. – (FR) The adoption of the Angelilli report today represents significant progress in the fight against sexual offences and child pornography. Henceforth, Member States will be able to remove child pornography sites or block access to them in their countries should it prove impossible to remove them. Furthermore, the European Parliament has called, amongst other things, for more severe sentences for paedophiles and those who access child pornography on the Internet. The size of the child pornography market is under-estimated, and this report finally provides a response to the growth in this traffic. We must monitor its future development and therefore this directive will have to be supplemented, so that it adapts to changing circumstances and keeps up with the speed of technological change.
The incredible popularity of social networking websites is proof of this, where children are still victims who can all too easily be reached. I can only welcome this new legislation, but we still need to make considerable progress before we achieve the zero tolerance we need when dealing with sexual offenders. We must make even further progress in our attempts to eradicate these offences and tackle the root of the problem.
Robert Rochefort (ALDE), in writing. – (FR) The large-scale development of virtual communication media has enabled sex offenders to exchange criminal images and videos more quickly and more anonymously, which I find truly regrettable. Today, it is estimated that between 10% and 20% of children are exposed to the risk of sexual assault, either within their family or during encounters with strangers. The deepening of the internal market and the free movement of persons and goods call for coordinated action on the part of the European Union. Hence I fully support the proposals made in Ms Angelilli’s report, namely: the introduction of minimum measures to protect children throughout the Member States, the cross-border exchange of information on persons convicted of sex offences, the strengthening of penalties, and the creation of support structures for victims. We are facing a large-scale threat, and we had a duty to act. I therefore welcome the adoption of Ms Angelilli’s report.
Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. − In favour. This Directive should be fully complementary with Directive 2011/36/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 5 April 2011 on preventing and combating trafficking in human beings, and protecting victims, and replacing Framework Decision 2002/629/JHA(9), as some victims of human trafficking have also been child victims of sexual abuse and sexual exploitation. Child pornography frequently includes images recording the sexual abuse of children by adults. It may also include images of children involved in sexually explicit conduct, or of their sexual organs, where such images are produced or used for primarily sexual purposes and exploited with or without the child’s knowledge.
Furthermore, the concept of child pornography also covers realistic images of a child, where a child is engaged or depicted as being engaged in sexually explicit conduct, for primarily sexual purposes. In adopting legislation on substantive criminal law, the Union should ensure consistency of this overall legislation in particular with regard to the level of penalties.
Licia Ronzulli (PPE), in writing. – (IT) By adopting this text, the European Union has decided to equip itself with a package of clear, effective rules on all crimes against children, combating them, preventing them and protecting against them. Making sex tourism a crime and the new rules that forbid the perpetrators of these offences from working with children are just some of the most important new measures. Bolstering the tools for fighting online child pornography by making online child grooming a crime provides greater certainty of being able to punish these abhorrent crimes.
Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. – (PT) According to figures from the United Nations Children’s Fund, 1 million children are used in the child pornography industry, generating around EUR 20 billion. In view of the vulnerability of children, concrete measures need to be taken against abuse and sexual exploitation, and the protection of children needs to be ensured by national institutions. The effects of ill treatment are often ongoing, and the physical, psychological and social effects are permanent for the victims and their families. As such, I am voting for this report, which extends the legal concept of a child and an adolescent, so that anybody under 18 years of age has the right to be protected from sexual exploitation, as well as the specific use of terms relating to child pornography, child sex tourism and grooming, in order to criminalise such acts. I also wish to mention removal and blocking measures, preferably to extend outside the jurisdiction of the EU, of Internet sites containing abusive images or child pornography, which the Member States must implement. Criminalisation and prevention are just as important as support and assistance for the victim. As such, all taboos and stigmas attached to suffering abuse and ill treatment need to be removed, so that victims are not afraid to report crimes.
Silvia-Adriana Ţicău (S&D), in writing. − (RO) I voted in favour of the Parliament resolution on the proposal for a directive on combating the sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children and child pornography. The EU recognises the rights, freedoms and principles set out in the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights. Knowingly obtaining access to child pornography by means of information and communication technology should be criminalised. To be liable, the person should both intend to enter a webpage where child pornography is available and know that such images can be found there. The intentional nature of the offence may be deduced from the fact that it is recurrent or was committed in return for payment.
Enticement of children for sexual purposes is a threat with specific characteristics in the context of the Internet, as the latter provides unprecedented anonymity to users, thus an opportunity to conceal one’s real identity and personal characteristics, such as age. Member States should consider giving short and long term assistance to child victims. Member States could implement a register of persons convicted of sexual offences, access to which would be subject to limitation in accordance with national constitutional principles and applicable data protection standards.
Marie-Christine Vergiat (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (FR) I abstained from voting on this report, with whose approach to combating child sexual abuse I broadly agree.
However, the text that was put to the vote this morning, which is a compromise negotiated with the Council, is not as satisfactory as the initial position of Parliament concerning the definition of criminal offences, preventive measures and guarantees concerning the protection of freedoms on the Internet.
There is one provision, however, which is of particular concern to me: the scope for Member States to block Internet sites and censor images or sites.
In the very sensitive context of attempts by some Member States to control the Internet, this provision sets a dangerous precedent. I cannot vote in favour of it, as I am well aware of the risks of extension and generalisation that may result.
Laima Liucija Andrikienė (PPE), in writing. − I voted in favour of the resolution on the qualification and status of third country nationals or stateless persons as beneficiaries of international protection. The proposal from the Commission for the recast of the original Directive forms part of the move towards a Common European Asylum Policy by 2012. After the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty, the Parliament is now in a position of co-decision. The existing Directive has two key elements: the grounds on which someone qualifies for refugee status or subsidiary protection, and the content of that protection. It is clear that there are considerable variations in practice between Member States in their implementation of the current Directive. I agree with the rapporteur that there is a need for clarification in the legislative framework - the Directive itself - to provide a clearer framework for the implementation process. I support this proposal, which aims to approximate the two categories of protection more closely and thus to generally refer to beneficiaries of international protection. The proposal also aims to ‘approximate the entitlements of the content of protection more closely’: access to the labour market is perhaps the most significant.
Roberta Angelilli (PPE), in writing. – (IT) More than ever before, the EU is now facing the huge challenge of being the destination for massive flows of migrants, to whom it must provide help and refuge.
In order to bring about a Common European Asylum System by 2012, we need to harmonise the rules in place in the Member States as soon as possible. The directive on minimum standards for providing third-country nationals or stateless persons with international protection therefore provides a necessary starting point: it will make it possible to establish common criteria and ensure a uniform and fair minimum standard of treatment for all people who turn to one of the Member States for protection after fleeing their country of origin or provenance, in order to escape persecution on grounds of race, religion, politics, nationality or gender.
We need to harmonise international protection measures and ensure that those seeking protection have access to instruments like ‘frontloading’ – a rapid analysis of the relevant factors involved in getting protection and information, in a language that they seem to understand reasonably well.
Particular care must be taken over children, whose best interests must be protected. In particular, unaccompanied children must be sure that family reunification searches will be begun and, where possible, brought to fruition.
Sophie Auconie (PPE), in writing. – (FR) The definition of common criteria for the identification of persons in need of international protection is consistent with the introduction of a European asylum policy by 2012. I voted in favour of the Lambert report to ensure that these eligibility criteria and the content of the protection granted are made clear.
Vilija Blinkevičiūtė (S&D), in writing. − (LT) I voted in favour of this report because I agree that the directive on the beneficiaries of international protection must continue to be improved, and this is the key objective of this report. Through observing the application of the directive in the Member States, it has become clear that its application varies significantly, and although some of the deficiencies identified can be overcome by promoting closer cooperation between the Member States, there is still a need for more clarity in the legal framework. The most important amendment tabled by the European Parliament is to better harmonise the two different categories of protection recipients which have different entitlements relating to the type of protection. In the areas of social welfare, integration measures and residence permits, Member States will in future still be able to apply different regimes to people in these two protection categories. The amendments to the directive are also aimed at defining more clearly the concept of the best interests of the child, by providing a set of basic principles. Another important issue addressed by the amendments which arose when the document was being debated related to the actors of protection. There was a strongly held view in the European Parliament that only states can be viewed as actors of protection because international bodies do not have the attributes of a state.
Jan Březina (PPE), in writing. - (CS) I support the greater approximation of the two categories of protection – refugee status and subsidiary protection – and thus the general designation of ‘beneficiaries of international protection’. This will act to remind implementing authorities that the two categories of protection are complementary. Subsidiary protection is not of less importance for individuals at risk of serious harm if they return to their country of origin. There will also be greater approximation of the entitlements forming the content of protection, of which access to the labour market is clearly the most important. Most Member States already make little distinction between these two groups.
However, a difference in treatment will still remain possible in three areas: social welfare, integration measures and residence permits. Some progress was made on the latter, where a renewal after one year for those with subsidiary protection must be of at least two years duration. Few Member States currently differentiate. The European Parliament took the view that this was important for integration and to give a sense of greater stability to the individual.
Carlos Coelho (PPE), in writing. – (PT) The Stockholm Programme has reiterated its commitment to the objective of establishing by 2012 a common area of protection and solidarity, based on a common asylum procedure and a uniform status for those granted international protection. As such, it is important to confirm the principles underlying this directive, which is one of the five key EU legislative instruments for creating a Common European Asylum System, as well as to seek a higher level of approximation of rules on the recognition and content of international protection, namely by applying clearer and more effective rules. I am therefore voting for this report which, while not including any substantive amendments to this directive, is limited to a straightforward codification of the provisions of the existing texts, and makes small modifications aiming to respond to the shortcomings detected in the implementation of this directive. I would stress the need for this directive’s implementation to be evaluated at regular intervals by the Member States, taking particular account of changes to their international obligations regarding non-refoulement, of changes to the labour markets in the Member States and of developing common basic principles for integration.
Lara Comi (PPE), in writing. – (IT) I support the proposal for a directive on the international protection of third-country nationals or stateless persons. There are currently considerable disparities between one Member State and another concerning the grant of international protection. We must therefore take further measures, consisting of a serious of substantial amendments to Directive 2004/83/EC, in order to clarify the minimum standards on qualification for refugee status or status as a person requiring international protection. The objective of this Directive is to lay down common criteria for the identification of persons genuinely in need of protection and to ensure a minimum level of benefits to help such persons.
I should personally like to stress the importance of assessing the best interests of the child, and therefore of taking due account of the principle of family unity and the minor’s well-being and social development. I believe, moreover, that it is necessary to ensure that asylum seekers have access to health care, including both physical and mental health care. I therefore consider it essential to introduce common definitions and criteria in order to guide Member States’ competent national bodies in the application of the Geneva Convention.
Corina Creţu (S&D), in writing. − (RO) We have wasted two years because of the inability or disinterest of the European Council in cooperating towards the implementation of a sustainable European programme for refugees. I note with regret that this is not the only debate of this session addressing the lack of cooperation and action on the part of the Council. In this case, there is a risk that if we do not find a solution by the end of the year, the use of the European Refugee Fund, which is due to expire in 2013, will be under threat.
I wish to draw the Council’s attention to the fact that its failure to apply the emergency mechanism provided for in the codecision procedure, as proposed by Parliament, has already had a major negative impact, given that the EU is facing, particularly this year, wave after wave of refugees following the regime changes in Arab countries. Of the estimated 200 000 refugees to be resettled in third countries each year, half are received by countries on the American continent, while in the EU only 10 states are involved, taking only 4 500 refugees each year.
Cornelis de Jong (GUE/NGL), in writing. − The GUE group abstained from voting on the Qualification Directive because we strongly protest against the splitting up of the Asylum Package. We do not want to vote on single directives before substantial progress is made on all files, and do not support the pick-and-choose behaviour of the Council towards the Package. We do, however, want to highlight the major improvements which the rapporteur, Ms Lambert, was able to ensure in the final version, including gender identity as grounds for asylum, respect for family unity and better protection of the interests of the child.
Ioan Enciu (S&D), in writing. − (RO) I voted in favour of this report because I believe that the reform and improvement of the European Asylum System is a priority for the EU, particularly in the context of the problems caused by recent events in the southern Mediterranean. The recast of the Directive on the qualification for international protection is very important and necessary, but it should be borne in mind that the whole asylum package must be adopted by the end of 2012. The most important aspect of the reform of the asylum system will be the improvement of solidarity between Member States in dealing with people who seek protection from the EU. European countries must prove that they are capable of reviving this spirit of solidarity both for the benefit of their own citizens and of those who need their protection.
Edite Estrela (S&D), in writing. – (PT) I voted for this resolution, as it argues that all legal proceedings against senior officials of the current or previous Ukrainian Government must be carried out in accordance with European rules on equity, impartiality, transparency and independence. I believe that strengthening the rule of law and carrying out internal reforms involving credible efforts to combat corruption are essential for strengthening EU-Ukrainian relations and for consolidating democracy in Ukraine.
Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. – (PT) A European Union that does not seek to be Fortress Europe but rather a community of values cannot but be sensitive to the conditions and circumstances of those seeking protection within its borders, as they are the victims of conflicts and political persecution every day. Today the EU is a region in which human rights, individual freedoms and democracy are guaranteed to all those living here by the authorities of the Member States of which it is comprised. Ever since the issue of refugees has begun to be raised, the extent and definition of the concept have been the subject of controversy. That situation continues today. I agree with European efforts to identify the minimum conditions to be met by those seeking refuge in the Union, but I would like to point out the risks of them being too broad, which could give rise to fraud and abuse. Likewise, I do not believe that Member States facing major tensions in their social security systems are in a position to provide generous social benefits to all those that apply, as these run the risk of being or becoming unaffordable.
José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. – (PT) This report, drafted by Ms Lambert, tables a proposal for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on minimum standards for the qualification and status of third country nationals or stateless persons as beneficiaries of international protection and the content of the protection granted, based on a Commission proposal which is a recast version of the original Directive 2004/83/EC. The European Union, aware of the political problems of many non-democratic countries where many people are fighting for the right to freedom, aims to implement a common asylum policy since, in spite of all the support provided by the European Asylum Support Office, practices for receiving refugees vary from Member State to Member State. I welcome the adoption of this report, which enables the establishment of a more concrete legislative framework, so that all refugees can enjoy the same treatment in all Member States, especially as regards social security, integration measures, and protection measures when necessary, as well as residence permits. The EU must continue to serve as an example of freedom, tolerance and respect for human rights.
João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (PT) This report on the conditions to be met by third country nationals or stateless persons in order to be able to benefit from international protection focuses on the important and, unfortunately, very topical issue of refugees. This is an area that should be treated with the utmost care and should promote full respect for human dignity, especially when we are talking about refugees who have already been beset by extremely harsh situations in their countries of origin. They often come from warzones, as in the recent example of Libya, a country now experiencing a tragic situation in this regard, exacerbated by North Atlantic Treaty Organisation aggression and the bombing of the country by this warlike organisation, with the support of the EU. However, we do not agree with the policies and proposals set out in this report. We believe that this issue of protection and asylum should fully respect the sovereignty of the Member States, and that it should be they that set the conditions of their own asylum policies, without prejudice to any agreements that they may decide to make in the exercise of that sovereignty.
Ilda Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (PT) This report on international protection focuses on the subject of refugees, who must be dealt with the highest degree of care and respect for human dignity, especially refugees who have suffered difficult circumstances, in many cases coming from warzones, such as the recent example of Libya. Nonetheless, we would stress the importance of the Member States themselves addressing these issues of protection and asylum. Given that this issue is inextricably linked to the sovereignty of the Member States, the individual countries should be able to set their own conditions relating to asylum policy.
Monika Flašíková Benová (S&D) , in writing. – (SK) The proposal from the Commission for the recast of the original Directive 2004/83/EC forms part of the move towards a Common European Asylum Policy by 2012. For the original Directive the European Parliament had only consultative powers. Now, following the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty, the Parliament is in a position of codecision. The existing Directive has two key elements: the grounds on which someone qualifies for refugee status or subsidiary protection and the content of that protection in terms of residence, employment and social rights within the Member State responsible for protection. A fundamental change proposed here is to approximate these two categories of protection more closely. The main objective is, on the one hand, to ensure that Member States apply common criteria for the identification of persons genuinely in need of international protection, and, on the other hand, to ensure that a minimum level of benefits is available for these persons in all Member States. In order to enhance the effective exercise of the rights and benefits that have been laid down, it is necessary to take into account at all costs their specific needs and the particular integration challenges with which they are confronted. Efforts should also be made, I believe, to address the problem that relates to the financial constraints that in their own way prevent these persons from gaining access to employment-related educational opportunities and vocational training.
Bruno Gollnisch (NI), in writing. – (FR) This directive on the qualification and status of third country nationals as beneficiaries of international protection constitutes a further worsening of immigration policy in Europe. The cases that may trigger entitlement to such protection, which include alleged cases of persecution based on ‘gender identity’ or sexual orientation, are increasing in number. A few years ago, Mr Sarkozy proposed that all the world’s abused women should seek refuge in France. He dreamt about it – Europe is doing it! Because of the way in which women are treated in the majority of countries that have based their laws on Sharia, that is a lot of people. The text also broadens the definition of the family entitled to join applicants for international protection as well as the rights – to a social life, to housing, to work, etc. – to which these people are entitled.
In short, this is a fantastic invitation to use the asylum application as a means to migrate to Europe. I am not saying that all applications will be accepted. On the contrary, an influx of unfounded or opportunistic applications will have the immediate effect of swamping genuine applications for refuge against political persecution and delaying their successful outcome. Of one thing you can be sure – refused applicants will stay here illegally!
Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. − (LT) I welcomed this document because an important change proposed here is to approximate the two categories of protection more closely and thus to generally refer to beneficiaries of international protection. This will act to remind implementing authorities that the two categories of protection are complementary: subsidiary protection is no less important for individuals at risk of serious harm if they return to their country of origin. The proposal also aims to approximate the entitlements of the content of protection more closely, of which access to the labour market is perhaps the most significant. The majority of Member States already make little difference between the two groups. However, a difference in treatment will still remain possible in three areas: social welfare, integration measures and residence permits − although some progress was made on the latter (where a renewal after one year for those with subsidiary protection must be of at least two years duration, few Member States currently differentiate). The European Parliament took the view that this was important for integration and to give a sense of greater stability to the individual.
Giovanni La Via (PPE), in writing. – (IT) I cast my vote in favour of the report by Ms Lambert because I think we need to see convergence on the rules safeguarding refugees and persons requiring international protection. These two categories are currently still separate, which causes problems in identifying the criteria for establishing who is in genuine need of protection. It is therefore crucial, I think, to build on Directive 2004/83/EC and ensure that aid for third-country nationals or stateless persons is prompt and even better coordinated between Member States. This must be achieved through a balanced reconciliation of interests which guarantees the protection of fundamental human rights, along with the inevitable safety and public-order requirements. In particular, I think special attention should be paid to the issues regarding children. In essence, the already complex problems faced by stateless persons in need of refugee status are intensified when it comes to children, meaning that greater care needs to be taken in the preparation and implementation of legislation.
David Martin (S&D), in writing. − I voted for this resolution on the proposal from the Commission for a recasting of Directive 2004/83/EC which forms part of the move towards a Common European Asylum Policy by 2012. The existing Directive has two key elements: the grounds on which someone qualifies for refugee status or subsidiary protection and the content of that protection in terms of residence, employment and social rights within the Member State responsible for protection. An important change proposed here is to approximate the two categories of protection more closely and thus to refer generally to beneficiaries of international protection.
Clemente Mastella (PPE), in writing. – (IT) The proposal we are voting on forms part of the move towards a Common European Asylum Policy by 2012. We welcome the key elements of the new Directive, namely the grounds on which someone qualifies for refugee status or subsidiary protection and the content of that protection in terms of residence, employment and social rights within the Member State responsible for protection. Unfortunately, to this day we continue to record considerable discrepancies between Member States in their application of the existing rules, which has often resulted in wide variation in recognition rates, and has encouraged secondary movements of applicants. Some of the disparities can be dealt with only through improved cooperation with the new European Asylum Support Office.
An important change, finally, is that aimed at approximating the two categories of protection more closely, thus generally to refer to beneficiaries of international protection. This will act to remind implementing authorities that the two categories of protection are complementary: subsidiary protection is not of less importance for individuals at risk of serious harm if they return to their country of origin.
Marisa Matias (GUE/NGL), in writing. − Although we didn’t agree to the splitting of the vote on this directive from the vote on the five other remaining instruments (Dublin II, Eurodac, Reception conditions, Procedures and Resettlement) because the new wave of instruments on asylum were basically treated together up to now in order to have a stronger position in the negotiation with the other EU institutions, we have voted in favour of this directive because it implies an increase in the protection afforded to asylum seekers and a step in the right direction for many vulnerable people. We consider it particularly important that the text in question aims to approximate the protection given to refugees, on one hand, and to beneficiaries of subsidiary protection, on the other hand. This will act to remind implementing authorities in the Member States that the two categories of protection are complementary: subsidiary protection is not of less importance for those at risk of serious harm if they return to their country of origin.
Mario Mauro (PPE), in writing. – (IT) I voted in favour of the report by Ms Lambert. I agree with her point on the importance of subsidiary protection for individuals at risk of serious harm if they return to their country of origin.
Jean-Luc Mélenchon (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (FR) This report expands on some of the improvements proposed by the Commission regarding the conditions under which a victim can obtain international protection within the European Union. I welcome this. However, the fact remains that this report reintroduces unacceptable discrimination between refugees and beneficiaries of subsidiary protection in the area of social assistance and the granting of residence permits. I abstained, on account of the improvements made, but I condemn these setbacks.
Louis Michel (ALDE), in writing. – (FR) The directive that we have just adopted is a first step towards a common asylum policy by 2012. It should offer more certainty to beneficiaries of international protection and make matters clearer for Member States. The alignment of the rights of refugees with those of beneficiaries of subsidiary protection with regard to access to employment, vocational training and health care is an important step towards a fairer, more human approach to individuals who are at risk of serious harm if they return to their country of origin. Progress has also been made with regard to issues arising from an applicant’s gender, including gender identity and sexual orientation, which may be related to certain legal traditions and customs, resulting in, for example, genital mutilation, forced sterilisation or forced abortion. The best interests of the child, the principle of family unity, and the minor’s well-being, social development, safety and views should be key considerations for the Member States when they implement the directive. I hope that today’s vote will give a positive boost to the negotiations on the other issues in the asylum package.
Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. − This Directive forms part of the so-called Asylum Package and is the first Directive of the package to be put to the vote. The Directive recast defines and modifies the minimum standards for the qualification and status of third country nationals or stateless persons as beneficiaries of international protection and the content of the protection granted. The main issues to be recast were the definition of family members, the best interest of the child, acceptable actors of protection (internal and international), grounds of persecution (including gender identity and sexual orientation), residence permits and social assistance. I voted in favour.
Andreas Mölzer (NI), in writing. − (DE) We should not broaden the interpretation of the term ‘family’ when we come to revise the status of third country nationals. We have seen all too clearly in the past how handling this term too loosely can result in a tidal wave of family members seeking asylum. There are already large numbers of people who have crossed our borders illegally, although they have no entitlement to asylum under the Geneva Convention. If someone is brazen enough and remains in hiding for long enough, their status will be legalised at some stage. That is why countless lawyers from ‘asylum aid organisations’ fight even the most hopeless cases, dragging them out as long as possible and wasting years of asylum seekers’ lives with false hopes. The aim should not be to have a European asylum policy in which people are persuaded of good prospects of gaining asylum, while the legal profession mines a rich seam of work at the expense of the asylum seekers. Instead, the interests of Europe must be the primary focus when it comes to the asylum question. The directive should follow the Danish model by applying stringent principles, instead of opening the door even further to unbridled mass immigration from all over the world. I therefore voted against this proposal.
Radvilė Morkūnaitė-Mikulėnienė (PPE), in writing. − (LT) I voted in favour. I believe that a suitable compromise on the amendments to the directive was reached in the trialogues. It was necessary to clarify certain elements of the directive in order to eliminate the ambiguity of the directive’s provisions which led to their being applied differently across the Member States. The rapporteur has successfully realised many of the adaptations planned and I would like to congratulate her on this.
The EU has set itself the goal of establishing a common area of protection and solidarity by 2012 based on a common asylum procedure and a uniform status for those granted international protection. The so-called Qualifications Directive is one of five basic legal acts which determine the first stage of the establishment of a common European asylum system (CEAS). Clearly, this area can only be made more effective by acting at European Union level, but I believe that it is necessary to leave the Member States with measures they can use to deter, detect and defend themselves from possible cases of abuse of the European asylum system.
Rolandas Paksas (EFD), in writing. − (LT) I welcome this resolution because the provisions of this directive will ensure a common procedure for granting asylum and will create a uniform system of protection.
A high and consistent level of assistance will be guaranteed for third-country nationals or stateless persons. These persons will also be offered more opportunities in the areas of vocational training, employment, integration measures and housing. Implementation of the measures provided for in the directive will create favourable conditions to enable people to be integrated into society and ensure that they have a greater sense of stability.
Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. – (PT) This report concerns a proposal for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing minimum standards for conditions to be met by third country nationals or stateless persons as beneficiaries of international protection, and relates to the content of the protection granted. The revision of this directive has already been discussed in the light of the Treaty of Lisbon, under the ordinary legislative procedure – previously the codecision procedure – and is an important aspect of moving towards a Common European Asylum Policy by 2012. The disparities currently existing between Member States’ implementation of EU standards mean there is a need for clarification of the legislative framework – the directive itself – in order to establish a clearer and more rigorous framework for the implementation process. I therefore voted for the report.
Aldo Patriciello (PPE), in writing. – (IT) Following the Commission’s recast of the original Directive 2004/83/EC, the European framework on asylum and international protection is shown to contain significant differences between Member States. This leads on the whole to wide variation in recognition rates, given the considerable variations in practice in their implementation of the current Directive. I voted in favour so that some of the disparities can be dealt with through better cooperation.
Phil Prendergast (S&D), in writing. − This Directive is essential to ensure a high standard of protection for people who suffer violence in their countries of origin. There are large differences between the Member States in terms of the number of people who are granted refugee status. Indeed, Ireland is among the Member States with the lowest levels of recognition rates in Europe, with 1 575 out of 1 600 applications rejected at first instance in 2010. We must do all we can to ensure that people have the same access to protection wherever they are in Europe; that, wherever people are at risk of indiscriminate violence, where they cannot return home because of a legitimate fear of persecution, our Member States will offer them protection.
Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. – (PT) The directive currently being debated, on minimum standards for conditions to be met by third country nationals or stateless persons as beneficiaries of international protection, and the content of the protection granted, is emerging as the recasting of Directive 2004/83/EC. Parliament’s different levels of intervention in the two situations should be stressed, however. While its competence was merely advisory to begin with, since the Treaty of Lisbon it has been able to act in codecision on these matters. On highly sensitive political issues, there is a need to guarantee greater harmony between the activities of the different Member States when granting international protection. There is also justification for adopting measures enabling the integration of those granted protection in the EU, encouraging the conditions for their access to the labour market right from the outset. It is also important to highlight the role of the Member States as the principal donors of aid. Since these points are dealt with in the proposal, I voted in favour.
Robert Rochefort (ALDE), in writing. – (FR) The European Union, as the cradle of human rights and a land of asylum, had a duty to establish a coordinated policy on the reception of third-country nationals and stateless persons. It was therefore necessary to review Directive 2004/83/EC on minimum standards for the qualification and status of third-country nationals or stateless persons as beneficiaries of international protection. The report drafted by Jean Lambert, which I welcome, refers to the compromise reached following lengthy interinstitutional negotiations. It contains some crucial advances with regard to the grounds on which an individual is eligible to be granted refugee status or subsidiary protection and to the content of that protection within the territory of the Member State responsible in terms of residence permits, employment and access to social security. In this regard, I particularly welcome the inclusion of gender identity and legal traditions and customs among the reasons for which an individual may be persecuted. I therefore welcome the vote on this first text, which has been adopted as part of the asylum package.
Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. − In favour. The proposal from the Commission for the recasting of the original Directive 2004/83/EC forms part of the move towards a Common European Asylum Policy by 2012. In the case of the original Directive, the European Parliament was only consulted. Now, following the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty, the Parliament is in a position of co-decision. The proposal now being put to plenary is the result of six informal trilogues, hopefully resulting in a first reading agreement. The existing Directive has two key elements: the grounds on which someone qualifies for refugee status or subsidiary protection and the content of that protection in terms of residence, employment and social rights within the Member State responsible for protection. The Commission brought forward the recasting proposal (Directive COM(2009) 551 final 2) as a result of the required review of the earlier Directive and developing jurisprudence. It is clear that there are considerable variations in practice between Member States in their implementation of the current Directive. This leads to wide variation in recognition rates overall and risks the continuation of secondary movements of applicants.
Licia Ronzulli (PPE), in writing. – (IT) This text is part of the European framework for the establishment of a common asylum policy by 2012. We need to move beyond the current distinction between refugee status and subsidiary-protection status, re-examining the previous Directive and the jurisprudence deriving from it. There are, in fact, too many differences between the Member States in terms of the practical implementation of the current Directive, which leads to wide variation in so-called ‘recognition rates’.
Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. – (PT) The recast directive aims to set out a uniform basis for dealing with cases of third country nationals or stateless persons as refugees or as persons who otherwise need international protection, in relation to the conditions that have to be met for them to benefit from international protection. This amendment is part of the EU’s legislative work towards a Common European Asylum Policy. As such, the purpose of the recast directive is to adopt a common definition of the criteria to be fulfilled in order to benefit from international protection, and to ensure common minimum levels of social benefits in the Member States, especially in terms of social security, access to jobs and health care, integration measures, and residence permits. In addition, reasons for persecution have been broadened to include issues of gender, gender identity and the care of unaccompanied minors. With regard to actors of protection in which the state functions as the main actor, Parliament is imposing more stringent requirements for non-state actors, should they wish to be recognised as agents of protection. Solidarity, which is an integral value of the EU, should not only be practised within the borders of the Member States. I therefore believe that the adoption of this report is an important step towards creating a true European area of asylum and protection.
Kyriacos Triantaphyllides (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (EL) Ms Lambert’s report on the recognition of third country nationals and stateless persons as beneficiaries of international protection status is a huge improvement over the situation faced by asylum seekers today, because it aims to harmonise practices in the Member States by setting common criteria for their recognition. It also defines the content of such protection and, not a moment too soon, recognises a minimum level of benefits and rights. Some elements in the report which are particularly encouraging concern respect for the principle of family unity, the best interests of the child and gender identity as factors when evaluating grounds for deportation. It was on account of these elements that I voted in favour of the report; however, I cannot but express my serious opposition to the fact that it has been divorced from the asylum package. This very important endeavour comprises six legislative proposals that must be addressed and voted on as a package. Let us hope that the outstanding proposals will also progress in the same proper direction, because otherwise the effective asylum package that we have been working on for years will be in jeopardy.
Geoffrey Van Orden (ECR), in writing. − I, together with my Conservative colleagues, abstained from voting on the Lambert Report. The report amends a 2004 EU Directive on asylum policy. The UK Government has rightly chosen to opt out of the revised Directive, so that it will not apply to the UK. The Directive will make it more difficult for Member States to refuse asylum claims and could lead to further abuse of the asylum system through a broadening of the definition of the family, with respect to family reunions. I have always said that immigration and asylum policy must remain a UK Government competency, and I strongly oppose any move towards a one-size-fits-all EU immigration and asylum policy. I am happy that the UK has opted-out of the revised Directive and therefore I abstained.
Angelika Werthmann (NI), in writing. − (DE) Directive 2004/83/EC for a joint European asylum policy by 2012 has been implemented in different ways and, above all, with varying degrees of flexibility, so that we now need clear remedial action in order to clear up irreconcilable differences. I have voted in favour.
Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. – (PT) I am voting for this report, as I believe the European legal framework already allows many airlines to transfer passenger name record data.
Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. – (PT) Issues relating to the handling and transfer of personal data are always particularly complex due to the many human rights and security issues that they raise. The attacks that took place on 11 September 2001 laid bare the weaknesses in airport security systems and have led to an understanding, shared by most democratic countries and governments, that there are, in fact, limits to privacy and to the inviolability of personal data, and that this is justified solely in situations in which the safety and lives of others may be at risk. Australia upholds the rule of law, merits the respect of all the EU Member States, and has inherited our shared tradition of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. Like all legal instruments, the agreement could be improved in the future, but I do not believe that the way in which it is formulated at present justifies submitting it to the Court of Justice. I would, however, recommend caution and restraint in the use of this kind of procedure, which cannot and must not be trivialised nor misappropriated by extreme agendas.
Monika Flašíková Benová (S&D), in writing. – (SK) A European legal framework allowing airlines to transfer passengers’ passenger name record (PNR) data was established by Council Decision 2008/651/CFSP/JHA of 30 June 2008 on the signing, on behalf of the European Union, of an Agreement between the European Union and Australia on the processing and transfer of European Union-sourced passenger name record (PNR) data by air carriers to the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service. The agreement was applied provisionally as of 30 June 2008 and only in 17 EU Member States, as the requisite unanimity could not be secured in the Council on the conclusion of the Agreement. On 15 February 2010 the Council requested the European Parliament's consent to a new PNR agreement with Australia. The European Parliament adopted a resolution to postpone the vote on this request for consent, which delayed the conclusion of the Agreement and led to the Commission and Australia opening new negotiations in January 2011. The clear purpose of the Agreement is to lay down conditions in accordance with which PNR data may be transferred and used and the method for the protection of this data. There is however legal uncertainty as to whether the draft Agreement complies with EU data protection legislation and thus as to whether it is compatible with the Treaties in this respect. The European Parliament therefore seeks an opinion from the Court of Justice on the compatibility of the Agreement in question with the Treaties.
David Martin (S&D), in writing. − I voted against this request for an opinion of the Court of Justice on the compatibility of the EU-Australia PNR Agreement with the Treaties as I believe the legal position is clear.
Mario Mauro (PPE), in writing. – (IT) I support the initiative of seeking an opinion from the Court of Justice on the compatibility with the Treaties of the Passenger Name Record (PNR) Agreement between the European Union and Australia. Legal uncertainty remains as to the conditions under which PNR data may be transferred and used, and how data will be protected.
Jean-Luc Mélenchon (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (FR) The Confederal Group of the European United Left – Nordic Green Left was the only group with enough of a democratic conscience to seek an opinion from the European Union Court of Justice on the compatibility with the Treaties of the Agreement between the European Union and Australia on the processing and transfer of EU-sourced Passenger Name Record (PNR) data. If the Court happens to deliver a favourable opinion on this agreement, we will have an idea of what is left of our fundamental freedoms in the European Union. I voted in favour of this positive report.
Rolandas Paksas (EFD), in writing. − (LT) I welcome this resolution because it is right to seek an opinion of the Court of Justice on this matter given that there is legal uncertainty concerning the Agreement between the European Union and Australia on the processing and transfer of Passenger Name Record (PNR) data by air carriers to the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service.
Above all, in order for it to be possible for the agreement to be properly implemented in both the EU and Australia, it must be ensured that its provisions, particularly those relating to passenger data, meet the requirements of EU data protection legislation and are compatible with the provisions of the EU Treaties.
It is vital that the agreement should lay down and apply strict conditions as to when PNR data may be transferred and used, including conditions regulating data protection. It must also be ensured that there is legal certainty for air carriers, passengers and data protection bodies and, at the same time, that the protection of citizens’ privacy and physical safety is guaranteed.
Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. − (PT) I voted for this resolution, as I believe it is necessary and useful to seek an opinion from the Court of Justice on the compatibility with the Treaties of the Agreement between the European Union and Australia on the processing and transfer of EU-sourced Passenger Name Record data by air carriers to the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service.
Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. – (PT) The agreement between the EU and Australia – compare with the explanation of vote – raises some extremely delicate issues. Indeed, data protection constitutes one of the biggest challenges to the law today. The possibility of storing information and, using computer software, of data being processed in unprecedented ways suggests the beginning of new ways of violating individuals’ privacy. However, it does not seem sufficient in this context to necessitate the intervention of the Court of Justice to assess the agreement’s compatibility with the Treaties. In fact, its involvement would not appear to be opportune in this case, given, on the one hand, protection efforts already made by Parliament and, on the other, the inevitable delays that would result from the Court of Justice’s intervention. I voted against for these reasons.
Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. − In favour. Although we lost (motion was not adopted) we felt the following was necessary: 1. Takes the view that there is legal uncertainty as to whether the draft Agreement complies with EU data protection legislation and thus as to whether it is compatible with the Treaties in this respect; questions, further, the choice of legal basis, i.e. Articles 82(1)(d) and 87(2)(a) TFEU (police and judicial cooperation), and not Article 16 TFEU (data protection); and thus, 2. Decides to seek an opinion from the Court of Justice on the compatibility of the Agreement with the Treaties.
Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. − (PT) The purpose of the motion for a resolution tabled by the Confederal Group of the European United Left – Nordic Green Left is to seek the opinion of the Court of Justice on the compatibility with the Treaties of the Agreement between the European Union and Australia on the processing and transfer of EU-sourced Passenger Name Record data by air carriers to the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service. The basis for such a request is the alleged legal uncertainty as to whether the draft agreement complies with EU data protection legislation, as well as supposed doubts concerning the choice of its legal basis. However, I do not believe that such reasons actually remain, so I voted against the motion for a resolution, along with the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats), to which I belong.
Angelika Werthmann (NI), in writing. − (DE) In view of the continued misgivings in relation to the passing on and processing of PNR (Passenger Name Record) data, the present draft agreement with Australia should be submitted to the European Court of Justice, so that it can verify its compatibility with EU law, in particular with EU data protection standards.
Jean-Luc Bennahmias (ALDE), in writing. – (FR) Despite the improvements and lengthy negotiations, this agreement is still unsatisfactory. Not all the criteria allowing for the protection of data have been met, and one is entitled to have some concerns. The European Commission has failed to show why the mass collection of data is necessary and to request the opinion of the Fundamental Rights Agency on this agreement. I also regret the fact that the legal basis is not that of data protection, when this is the purpose of the agreement. For these reasons I voted against during the vote in plenary.
Vilija Blinkevičiūtė (S&D), in writing. – (LT) I voted in favour of this report because it is very important to reach an agreement between the European Union and Australia on the processing and transfer of Passenger Name Record (PNR) data by air carriers. PNR is a system for the collection, processing and transfer of data, operational with regard to travel by plane or other means of public transport, whereby passenger data is registered when a carrier’s tickets are sold, reservations are made and passengers are checked-in. The agreement currently in force is based on Australian border protection legislation, and one of the main objectives of this agreement between the EU and Australia would therefore be to adapt the transfer of passenger data to laws on the protection of personal data in force in Europe. The conclusion of this agreement would not only facilitate the transfer of passenger data for carriers, but would also centralise the analysis of PNR data and guarantee the protection of passengers’ data.
Carlos Coelho (PPE), in writing. – (PT) This agreement should replace the 2008 provisional one, which was only applied in 17 Member States, and which established a European legal framework on the conditions for the transfer of data contained in the Passenger Name Record (PNR) by airlines to the Australian customs services. I am in favour of this agreement as it follows the EU’s general approach to the transfer of PNR data to third countries. The criteria set out by Parliament have been satisfactorily met: the purpose has been clearly and strictly limited; the method of data transfer is ‘push’ only; the use of sensitive data has been explicitly ruled out; and the public has the right to administrative and judicial redress in Australia, and safeguards concerning access, rectification, erasure and data security. I agree with the rapporteur when she says that the agreement could have gone further and that there are still some concerns, but the main objective has been achieved: seeking to ensure that any transfer of data from the EU can only take place if it fully respects EU data protection standards. This agreement therefore seems to be a success, and I hope that it can serve as an inspiration for the next agreement, to be concluded with the US.
Lara Comi (PPE), in writing. – (IT) I voted in favour of this important report by Ms in’t Veld, which not only covers the question of Passenger Name Record (PNR) data, but also constitutes a step towards an integrated and coherent strategy on aviation safety generally. Nowadays, the prevention of possible terrorist attacks is still a priority for air transport, and in this area there is still a great deal that we must do. That is why it is important that the transfer of sensitive data between Europe and Australia is effective in preventing transnational crime without placing an excessive burden on passengers.
To this end, I particularly welcome the calls for the use of regulations appropriate for their protection and guarantees on the protection of health and passengers’ rights in general. In future, due to our daily commitment, these agreements must not be recognised solely through law, but must be of irrevocable worth for the safety of society around the world.
Corina Creţu (S&D), in writing. − (RO) The agreement is necessary to strengthen cooperation between the EU and Australia against terrorism, provided that citizens’ rights and the rule of law are respected. This common framework reflects Parliament’s requirements as expressed in its resolution of 5 May 2010 and the request that the agreement be re-negotiated with a view to protecting fundamental rights and ensuring respect for the privacy of European citizens in compliance with relevant EU norms.
I appreciate the fact that the re-negotiated agreement contains several new safeguards on the transfer and processing of PNR data.
Ioan Enciu (S&D), in writing. − (RO) I voted in favour of this agreement with Australia on the Passenger Name Record data of air carriers because I believe that it is satisfactory and is streets ahead of previous agreements of this type. Positive and fundamental elements are the fact that it is in principle prohibited to automatically process data and that it is ensured that administrative and judicial remedies against possible abuse exist. Some aspects remain problematic, in particular the retention period for PNR data of 5.5 years and the fact that the transfer of data to third countries will be possible without explicit EU agreement.
These shortcomings should be considered in future PNR agreements with third countries, in particular those currently being negotiated with the United States and Canada.
Edite Estrela (S&D), in writing. − (PT) I voted for the recommendation on the agreement between the EU and Australia on the processing and transfer of Passenger Name Record (PNR) data, as I believe it includes provisions necessary to protect fundamental rights and ensure respect for the privacy of EU citizens. However, some of the criteria have not been met in full, so some concerns remain. In view of this, I welcome the commitment made by the Commission to table proposals for the suspension or termination of the agreement on Parliament’s request.
Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. – (PT) Issues relating to the handling and transfer of personal data are always especially complex due to the many human rights and security issues that they raise. The attacks that took place on 11 September 2001 laid bare the weaknesses in airport security systems and have led to an understanding, shared by most democratic countries and governments, that there are, in fact, limits to privacy and to the inviolability of personal data, and that this is justified solely in situations in which the safety and lives of others may be at risk. The criticisms of the majority’s understanding of this by some sectors seeking to assert the primacy of individual privacy over collective security are well known. However, their arguments are not enough to convince people boarding aeroplanes, who, for the most part, do not mind sharing their personal data, since they know that they are limiting the terrorists’ impunity and ability to act by doing so. The agreement between the EU and Australia seeks to achieve a reasonable balance between the rights and interests in question.
José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. – (PT) The transfer of Passenger Name Record (PNR) data to third countries has been the subject of increasing attention from airport authorities, especially since the air attacks of 11 September 2001. What is at stake is information such as names, addresses, passport numbers, credit card details and travel itineraries. This recommendation focuses on the proposal for a Council decision on the conclusion of the agreement between the European Union and Australia on the processing and transfer of EU-sourced PNR data by air carriers to the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service. This agreement stems from the need to adapt European legislation to Australian legislation and must come under the codecision procedure laid down in the Treaty of Lisbon. Following negotiations that began in January 2011 between the Commission and Australia, on 18 May 2011 the latter sent a recommendation to the Council to conclude and sign the agreement, which took place on 29 September 2011. In view of this, I welcome this further step forward in EU-Australia relations, which will protect the European public.
João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (PT) This EU-Australia agreement on processing and sharing Passenger Name Record (PNR) data by airlines is taking on dangerous and disturbing dimensions. It slots straight into a security policy based on the claim to be fighting terrorism. As we know, many paths have been trodden in the name of this ‘crusade’, which threatens fundamental rights, freedoms and safeguards, as well as core democratic values. This report follows this path on the grounds of trying to regulate the exchange and sharing of data, instead of sending a clear signal that it rejects this wave of security and valuing the protection of the public’s data. Reference is made to the sovereignty of third countries as a way of justifying data sharing, but this is nothing more than demagoguery on the part of an EU that is jeopardising that very sovereignty through its various sectoral policies, particularly in economic terms. It is significant and revealing that a majority in Parliament has rejected a proposal by our group that the legality of the agreement be considered by the Court of Justice. This confirms the pertinence of the doubts emerging about its very legality. We do not accept exchanging freedom for security because, in the end, we will lose both. We advocate a more secure society with broad democratic rights and freedoms.
Ilda Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (PT) There is a dangerous edge to the report on the EU-Australia agreement on airlines handling and sharing passenger name record data, as it forms part of a security policy centred on the so-called war against terror and, as we are aware, freedoms, guarantees and democratic values are under threat. The report uses the measures set out and the assessment of the agreement between the EU and Australia as justification, on the basis of the assumption that the countries will be able to and will continue to demand any data that they deem necessary, so there should ideally be an attempt to regulate this exchanging and sharing of information. We would also stress the reference to the sovereignty of third countries as a way of justifying information sharing. This demagogical line of argument by the EU once again reveals its true nature. We regret that the issue of sovereignty is not dealt with robustly when we are talking about countries’ economic sovereignty. Sharing information constitutes a key means of opening the doors to the aforementioned abuses. We advocate the need to combat all forms of crime, but this must be done, first and foremost, at source and through prevention. We do not accept any exchange of freedom for more security because, in the end, we will lose both.
Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D), in writing. − (SK) Australian law allows the Australian customs authority to demand that every airline flying to and from Australia give them electronic access to passenger name record (PNR) data prior to flights into or out of Australia. The aim of this procedure is to provide PNR data before arrival to allow the Australian customs authorities to carry out effective passenger risk assessments and facilitate travel. These measures enhance Australian security in accordance with its anti-terror policy and its efforts to combat other major crimes and serve to strengthen international police and judicial cooperation between Australia and Europe. Initially, in May 2010, the European Parliament decided to postpone the vote to give its consent to the agreement, but recently decided to renegotiate the agreement and set out its criteria for giving its consent to agreements with third countries on the transfer of PNR data. It has assessed the new draft PNR agreement between the EU and Australia and concluded that many of the requested criteria have been fulfilled to a satisfactory level, and therefore gives its consent to the agreement.
Sylvie Guillaume (S&D), in writing. – (FR) I voted in favour of this agreement, which includes some of the priority issues that the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament have defended continuously throughout the negotiations. Admittedly, there is still some concern over the choice of legal base (Article 16 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union regarding data protection, which should have been given priority over the article on police cooperation), and also on the storage period (five and a half years, which is still excessive given that there is no justification as regards proportionality or the need to store data long term). However, the terms of this agreement are truly a step in the right direction for avoiding the abusive use of the passenger name record (PNR) data of European nationals. It will only be possible to use this data for the sole purposes of combating terrorism and preventing serious international crime. Individuals will have the right to access, modify and delete the data, and to seek an administrative or legal review. In short, this agreement includes a number of guarantees that ensure a good level of protection for European citizens, and I hope it will serve as a model for ongoing negotiations over the agreement with the United States, for which the terms agreed on so far are still highly questionable.
Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. − (LT) The European Union is negotiating three international agreements, with Australia, Canada and the US, on the processing and transfer of Passenger Name Record (PNR) data. PNR data is provided by passengers, collected by air carriers and used for their ticketing, reservation, and check-in systems. Given its commercial nature, such data contains several types of information, ranging from names, addresses, passport numbers, and credit card information to information on other passengers, travel routes, and travel agents. Compliance with these Australian requirements by the airlines is creating problems with European data protection legislation. To solve these problems, the Commission entered into negotiations with Australia in order to establish the conditions that would allow access to the PNR data. I abstained from voting on this document because we must in principle decide whether we agree to personal data being collected, i.e. names, flights, passport and credit card data, because there is no absolute guarantee as to the purpose for which they will be used. I believe that the necessity for mass collection and storage of PNR data must be demonstrated and supported by factual evidence for each of the stated purposes. The proportionality (i.e. that the same end cannot be achieved with less intrusive means) must be demonstrated. The purpose must be limited clearly and strictly on the basis of clear legal and well-founded definitions.
Kent Johansson (ALDE), in writing. − (SV) I think it is important to protect the privacy of individuals and I am against detailed information on air passengers routinely being stored without there being any suspicion of a crime having been committed. This recommendation by the European Parliament is a major improvement on the original text and I therefore appreciate the rapporteur’s efforts. However, I am somewhat sceptical about approving this agreement, as it could be construed as a green light for the PNR system as a whole. I have therefore chosen to abstain.
David Martin (S&D), in writing. − The European Union is negotiating three international agreements, with Australia, Canada and the US, on the processing and transfer of Passenger Name Record (PNR) data. PNR data is provided by passengers, collected by air carriers and used for their ticketing, reservation, and checking-in systems. Given its commercial nature, PNR data contains several kinds of information, ranging from names, addresses, passport numbers, and credit card information to information on other passengers, travel routes, and travel agents. On 5 May 2010 and 11 November 2010, the European Parliament set out its criteria for giving its consent to agreements with third countries on the transfer of PNR data. These appear to have be met, in the case of Australia, so I voted in favour.
Clemente Mastella (PPE), in writing. – (IT) The European Union is negotiating three international agreements with Australia, Canada and the United States on the processing and transfer of Passenger Name Record (PNR) data. The European Parliament has established that the necessity for the mass collection and storage of PNR data must be demonstrated and supported by factual evidence for each of the stated purposes. We consider that it is necessary to demonstrate the proportionality and the purpose, which must be limited clearly and strictly on the basis of clear legal definitions. The onward transfer of data by the recipient country to third countries must be in line with EU standards of data protection, to be established by a specific adequacy finding.
We consider it necessary, moreover, to point out that a number of criteria have not been met in full and that a number of concerns remain, especially as regards PNR agreements with other third countries. We had asked for further procedural safeguards regarding cooperation between the EU institutions. In particular, we have finally secured a public commitment on the part of the European Commission to submit proposals for the suspension or termination of the agreement upon a request of the European Parliament so as to ensure democratic oversight.
Véronique Mathieu (PPE), in writing. – (FR) I voted in favour of Parliament’s recommendation on the Agreement between the European Union and Australia on the processing and transfer of EU Passenger Name Record (PNR) data by air carriers to the Australian Customs Service. PNR data collected by air carriers specifically include the name, address, passport number and credit card details of the passenger concerned. This new agreement will bring the transfer of these data to the Australian Customs Service into line with EU data protection rules. Therefore, one of the main points of the agreement is that PNR data from the EU may be used only for counter-terrorism and crime prevention purposes.
Marisa Matias (GUE/NGL), in writing. − The EU-Australia Agreement on the Transfer of PNR (passenger name record data) data does not meet the guarantees requested by the EP in its previous resolutions. The Commission has neither presented factual evidence supporting the claim that storage and processing of PNR for law enforcement purposes is necessary and proportionate, nor has it seriously explored less-intrusive alternatives. In particular, the agreement foresees an unjustified storage period of five and a half years, does not contain adequate safeguards to prevent discriminatory profiling and raises serious concerns regarding compatibility of the Agreement with the Charter of Fundamental Rights, as well as with the case law of the ECHR. Furthermore, the Commission has ignored Parliament’s request to ask the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights for an opinion on the fundamental rights dimension of the Agreement. We stress our commitment to cooperating with Australia and other third countries, but believe the blanket retention and processing of the PNR data of all passengers is incompatible with our vision of an open society. For this reason we voted against the report and supported the GUE/NGL resolution seeking an opinion from the European Court of Justice on the legality of the Agreement.
Mario Mauro (PPE), in writing. – (IT) I am in favour of adopting Ms in ’t Veld’s recommendation. I would add my voice to the satisfaction expressed over the inclusion of most of the criteria set out by Parliament in the negotiating mandate adopted by the Council. It is right, however, to point out the aspects that have not received a satisfactory response, such as the fact that the Commission has failed to request an opinion of the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights on the specific agreement with Australia.
Mairead McGuinness (PPE), in writing. − I voted in favour of this report. Under this legislation, European air carriers operating flights to and from Australia will continue to transmit the PNR (Passenger Name Record) data they collect to the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service. A provision is also outlined for a regular, joint review of its operation.
Jean-Luc Mélenchon (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (FR) It should only be possible to hand over citizens’ advance passenger information (API) to foreign authorities. That kind of transfer should be managed by European authorities alone. The agreement we are being asked to adopt between the EU and Australia enables Australian Customs to receive and store not only our API data but also our passenger name record (PNR) data, under circumstances for which they, and the airlines, will have sole responsibility. It also allows the Australian authorities to transfer that data to repressive regimes of third countries. Under the pretext of combating terrorism, freedom of movement is being disregarded for profiling purposes. I voted against this agreement, which I condemn.
Andreas Mölzer (NI), in writing. − (DE) The retention of PNR (Passenger Name Record) data has nothing to do with the identification of suspects at border checkpoints. On the contrary, what will happen is that the data belonging to all passengers will be stored willy-nilly, where no grounds for suspicion exist, in order subsequently to identify ‘risky travellers’. It is particularly problematic that this huge infringement of fundamental rights is to be carried out in the name of combating terrorism, even though there is no evidence proving that PNR data is of any benefit in the fight against terrorists. Thus, we should not regard it as progress that the ‘push procedure’ is to be used to forward data to Australia, after all this is the only regulation that is even half-way compatible with EU data protection law. In view of economic pressures, serious doubts must exist regarding whether the airlines really have any interest in practice in passing on passenger data to the authorities at the flight destination on an automatic and selective basis. Thus, data protection will remain illusory, even in relation to the agreement with Australia. I cannot vote in favour of the practice of passing on data when no grounds for suspicion exist.
Rolandas Paksas (EFD), in writing. − (LT) Personal data is processed using PNR data, and this raises sensitive questions relating to fundamental rights to privacy and the protection of personal data.
Thus, it must be ensured that the blanket retention and processing of passenger name record data of all passengers comes with strong data protection guarantees and respect for the privacy of EU citizens in compliance with relevant EU norms. Consequently, legal certainty and objective evidence supporting the claim that it is necessary and proportionate to store and process PNR data are needed in both existing and future EU agreements. Moreover, appropriate mechanisms for judicial oversight must be included, arrangements must be set out on the use of PNR data only for law enforcement and security purposes, and the use of data for mining and profiling must be avoided.
Georgios Papanikolaou (PPE), in writing. – (EL) The EU-Australia agreement on the processing and transfer of PNR (passenger name record) data by airlines, which I voted in favour of, takes satisfactory account of many of the initial concerns raised by the European Parliament in May 2010. The European Union understands that it cannot prohibit the collection, storage and use of PNR data by third countries, each of which is able to stipulate its entry requirements. Therefore, the EU can only decide if the terms of transfer of such data are in keeping with EU data protection standards. The new agreement is in keeping with EU data protection standards, the main purpose of which is to combat terrorism. The agreement will increase citizens’ security and will provide security of law to airlines and privacy guarantees. Now the Council has the last word on the execution of the agreement.
Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. – (PT) The European Union is in the process of negotiating three international agreements – with Australia, Canada and the US – on the transfer and processing of passenger name record data. This data is provided by passengers, collected by air carriers and used for their ticketing, reservation and check-in systems. I share the rapporteur’s concern about the proportionality of the mass collection and storage of data. For this reason, and in view of other observations made in the report of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, I voted for this report.
Aldo Patriciello (PPE), in writing. – (IT) The present need for an agreement with Australia on Passenger Name Record (PNR) data follows from the Australian border-protection legislation, which empowers Australian Customs to use PNR codes, which contain several kinds of information, including names, addresses, passport numbers and credit card information. This legislation is partially in conflict with the system in Europe where, for data and privacy protection reasons, the PNR code cannot be passed on to other authorities or organisations.
Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. – (PT) Australian legislation stipulates that airlines must provide the local customs office with data on passengers before they arrive in the country. This is a practice that jeopardises data protection safeguards and which, therefore, has caused the EU institutions to intervene. In this context, it appears impossible to avoid negotiation between the two areas: in fact, in the absence of an agreement, Australian legislation will remain applicable. Reaching a balanced solution is therefore desirable, assuming that any access to passenger data must be understood as exceptional, and that its use and storage must be strictly guided by principles of necessity, appropriateness and proportionality. In this context, Parliament must adopt a leading position in defence of the EU public’s fundamental rights. I voted to adopt this agreement, since these concerns are included in the recommendation on the proposal for a Council decision on the conclusion of the agreement between the European Union and Australia on the processing and transfer of passenger name record data.
Evelyn Regner (S&D), in writing. − (DE) I have voted against the Passenger Name Record (PNR) agreement with the US and Australia because I believe that data protection now plays an increasingly important and fundamental role, which is why it needs to be respected. Despite a number of positive changes, the PNR agreement allows the US to transfer a great deal of personal data about passengers and to retain it for five-and-a-half years. As a citizen of the European Union, which upholds freedom to travel and respect for privacy as fundamental civil rights, I cannot support this agreement. I believe that, although civil liberties should not be sacrificed to an excessive campaign against terror and crime, nonetheless it is possible to find the right balance between preventing crime and protecting the personal data of our citizens. Because this balance is not in evidence here, however, I have decided to vote against the agreement.
Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. − Against. According to us, the Greens/EFA, the Australian Privacy Act, on which the agreement relies for subject access and independent oversight and enforcement, has serious weaknesses. Because of this, the European Commission has never awarded Australia an adequacy rating. The Australian Law Reform Commission’s report ‘For Your Information: Australian Privacy Law and Practice’ recommended 295 changes to Australian privacy laws and practices in 2008. While the government has proposed some changes in response, progress is extremely slow and no improvements have been made to date.
Furthermore, there is serious doubt about the compatibility of the new PNR Agreement with the EU Treaties and the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, as can explicitly or implicitly be read in the statements by the legal services of the Council and the Commission, studies commissioned by the EP, EDPS and FRA opinions, and several rulings by the European Court on Human Rights, the European Court of Justice and national constitutional courts.
Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. – (PT) The Australian Customs Service is seeking to assess the risk presented by European passengers on international air carriers, based on passenger name record (PNR) data, having encountered a problem due to European legislation on data protection. At the Council of 30 June 2008, the Member States signed a cooperation agreement with Australia, with a view to allowing airlines to transfer data to the Australian Customs Service. However, with the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon, the ordinary legislative procedure started to apply to negotiating international agreements, requiring Parliament’s approval. In an increasingly globalised world, where the security of the public must be constantly ensured by the competent authorities, and in view of the successful implementation of most of the criteria, I am voting for this EU-Australia agreement. I would also stress that the EU cannot ban the collection, storage and use of PNR data by third countries, but only gets to decide whether the conditions for the transfer of those data are in line with EU data protection standards.
Silvia-Adriana Ţicău (S&D), in writing. − (RO) I voted in favour of the Agreement between the European Union and Australia on the processing and transfer of Passenger Name Record (PNR) data by air carriers to the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service. PNR data is provided by passengers, collected by air carriers and used for their ticketing, reservation, and check-in systems. The scope of the agreement has been restricted to preventing, detecting, investigating and prosecuting terrorist offences or serious transnational crime, and PNR data may not be used for any other purposes.
Unfortunately, the data retention period of 5.5 years is too long and is in conflict with legal requirements regarding necessity and proportionality, and with relevant jurisprudence, notably rulings by national constitutional courts on the proportionality of long term mass storage of personal data, in the absence of any suspicion or charge. If the directive on the use of PNR data is adopted at EU level, it is extremely important that all agreements concluded with third countries in this area be revised to ensure compliance with that directive and to harmonise the conditions applicable to the agreements.
Angelika Werthmann (NI), in writing. − (DE) At present the EU is negotiating with Australia, Canada and the US in relation to three international agreements on the processing of PNR (Passenger Name Record) data. According to Australian legislation in relation to border security, airlines must permit the Australian customs authorities access to their passengers’ data. Negotiations in relation to a uniform EU legal framework for the processing of PNR data from the EU were concluded in January 2011 and signed by the Council on 29 September. The responsible Committee of the European Parliament examined the agreement thoroughly.
Critical comments were made in relation to the appropriateness of data forwarding provisions, proportionality in terms of data gathering and retention, and the creation of personal profiles, which are not expressly mentioned while also not being genuinely excluded. The draft agreement contains weaknesses in the fundamental criteria for EU data protection, which is why I have voted against the conclusion of the agreement.
Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. – (PT) I am voting for this resolution, as I believe that freedoms of religion, belief, conscience and thought are fundamental and universal rights, and are values essential to democracy. The European Union has a duty to guarantee these freedoms and values all over the world, particularly in countries weakened by recent internal conflicts.
Laima Liucija Andrikienė (PPE), in writing. − I voted in favour of this important resolution, which encourages the EU to continue to support the efforts aimed at accelerating democratic, economic and social reforms in Egypt. We, Members of the European Parliament, strongly condemn the killing of protestors in Egypt and welcome efforts by Egyptian authorities to identify the perpetrators of the attacks on Christian communities, while stressing the importance of an independent investigation by an independent civil judiciary. We call on the Egyptian authorities to ensure full respect for all fundamental rights, including freedom of association, peaceful assembly, freedom of expression and freedom of religion, conscience and thought for all citizens in Egypt. We believe that a new Constitution should explicitly provide for the protection of all fundamental rights. In regards to Syria we express our deepest concern regarding the human rights violations perpetrated by the Syrian authorities and reiterate our call on President Bashar al-Assad and his regime to relinquish power immediately and allow a democratic transition to take place in Syria. Respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in Syria is of great importance and we welcome the commitment of the EU to continue to press for strong UN action to increase international pressure.
Elena Oana Antonescu (PPE), in writing. − (RO) I support this resolution and express the hope that acts of intimidation and violent repression against Christian minorities will cease. The European Union should vehemently condemn any form of discrimination and intolerance based on religion or belief and on grounds on gender, ethnicity or language. When hundreds of Christians are being persecuted and cruelly killed for religious reasons, the situation must be condemned in unison by all those who believe in the values of religious freedom, in freedom of conscience and thought and in democratic values.
I wish to encourage Egyptian and Syrian civil society to move quickly towards an open dialogue with all political forces, not forgetting about respect for democratic values and faiths, or the existence of the principle of separation between church and state.
Pino Arlacchi (S&D), in writing. − I voted for this resolution because, as freedom of religion and thought are universal values and essential elements of democracy, I believe it is important to take a clear position on what is happening in Egypt and Syria. Egypt is a key partner of the EU in the Arab world, and this text expresses our deep concern about the violent incidents of 9 October 2011, during a peaceful march organised by Coptic Christians in Cairo, which resulted in the death of 25 persons and 300 people being injured. I consider the setting up by the Egyptian government of a fact-finding committee to investigate these incidents to be of primary importance. With regard to Syria, we strongly condemn the Syrian regime’s brutal repression of its population and ask again for President Bashar al-Assad to step aside in order to open the way to the legitimate democratic aspirations of the Syrian people. It is also important to note that the ongoing events in Syria are accompanied by actions aimed at inciting inter-ethnic and inter-confessional conflict and increasing sectarian tensions. Consequently we encourage the Syrian opposition forces to reconfirm their commitment to human rights and fundamental freedoms and, notably, freedom of conscience and thought.
Sophie Auconie (PPE), in writing. – (FR) Mindful of the need to respect fundamental freedoms, I voted in favour of a resolution condemning the attacks on Christian communities in Egypt and the Syrian population. This resolution demonstrates the European Parliament’s support for the drive towards democracy currently sweeping through Arab countries and condemns the use of force.
Marielle De Sarnez (ALDE), in writing. – (FR) By vetoing the UN Security Council draft resolution condemning the attacks by the Syrian regime on its own people, China and Russia have taken on a heavy moral and political responsibility. From a moral point of view, the Russian and Chinese Governments have become complicit in the massive repression which, in six months, has resulted in thousands of people being killed and dozens imprisoned arbitrarily. From a political point of view, even though the Arab League and neighbouring countries have called for the cessation of the violence, Russia and China have clearly rejected the legitimate demand for freedom, democracy and change from the people of the region. In the absence of a UN Security Council resolution, Europe must impose tougher sanctions on the regime of President al-Assad and give its full support to the newly established Syrian National Council.
Edite Estrela (S&D), in writing. – (PT) I voted for the resolution on the situation in Egypt and Syria, in particular as regards the Christian communities, because freedom of religion, belief, conscience, and thought are fundamental and universal values, and are essential elements of democracy which should be guaranteed by the governments of countries all over the world.
Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. – (PT) The industrious and peaceful Christian communities of Syria and Egypt should be granted the utmost respect and protection by all those who value the dignity of human life and the religious beliefs of minorities. The participation of everyone in the reconstruction of their own societies is crucial in order for them to live up to the hopes, dreams and ambitions of their peoples. They have been repeatedly advocating the establishment of full democracy and the rule of law in their countries so that their culture and traditions might be respected. These also make up part of the Christian legacy of their people. The Arab Spring is a symbol for all those yearning for dignity, democracy and human rights in the Arab world. Peaceful demonstrations involving people of greatly diverse origins were severely repressed by the security forces in those countries. Parliament should support the efforts of those struggling for freedom and for an end to violence against the people.
José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. – (PT) We have recently seen the terrible news about the persecution of a religious Christian minority in Egypt, which has resulted in the deaths of 30 Christians and around 350 wounded, as well as in the destruction of a church in Cairo. Given that the European Union, as a bulwark of values and an uncompromising defender of rights, supported the revolt of the peoples of certain Arab countries during what is being called the ‘Arab Spring’, it cannot remain indifferent to abuses of freedoms and the safeguarding of the public. I therefore strongly support this joint motion for a resolution condemning the actions of an extremist Islamic group against the Christians who make up a 10% minority in Egypt. The fate of minorities is always problematic. First and foremost, we cannot tolerate any kind of discrimination. Egypt should rebuild the church and prevent these attacks on religious freedom. As a community of values, the EU and Egypt must jointly reaffirm the fundamental importance of respect for minorities and the need to set an example by punishing such criminals, as the ‘Arab Spring’ must be synonymous with freedom, and not merely a utopia.
João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (PT) This resolution, like the events it concerns, is part of an attempt to distract attention from the crux of what is happening in Egypt: a democratic process of national liberation, after decades of dictatorship, from a regime with which the EU was complicit and complacent. In various ways, including by fomenting religious differences in order to safeguard the military junta and its discretionary power, it is thus seeking to stoke confusion, to the detriment of the powerful democratic demands of the masses, and of their fight for an independent legal system and the conviction of the dictatorship’s senior figures; for the actual transfer of power from the military to civilians; and for profound political change, aimed at improving the living conditions of the workers and the majority of the people.
Attempts at foreign interference are persisting in the case of Syria, encouraged and supported with weapons, so threatening the territorial integrity and sovereignty of this country by means of a process very similar to the one leading to military intervention in Libya by the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. It also seeks to conceal the essential nature of the popular demonstrations, which are calling for better living conditions for the people, whilst rejecting any foreign interference in the country.
Ilda Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (PT) This resolution seeks to divert attention from what is happening in Egypt, adding to the confusion and seeking to stir up religious differences in order to safeguard the military junta against the powerful democratic demands of the masses, who are fighting for an independent legal system and the conviction of the leaders of the dictatorship, for the swift transition of power from the military to civilians, and for policies aimed at improving the living conditions of the majority of the people.
In the case of Syria, there is an insistence on exacerbating the current situation in an attempt to hide foreign interference, encouraged and supported by weapons, which is threatening the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Syria by means of a process very similar to the one which led to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation’s military intervention in Libya. It also seeks to conceal the essential nature of the popular demonstrations calling for the improvement of their living conditions, while rejecting any foreign intervention in the country.
Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D), in writing. − (SK) We have recently made various pronouncements in response to the dramatic situation in the Arab countries. The Arab world has been shaken by unrest which in some countries has led to governments being overthrown and completely paralysed other countries. Their people are rising against dictatorial regimes and rule by radical groups and calling for democracy to be established. After several months of demonstrations the situation has not stabilised, but is deteriorating. The situation in Libya, Algeria, Bahrain, Yemen, Egypt and Syria is particularly intolerable. A humanitarian crisis, refugees, displaced persons and food shortages are undoubtedly the most urgent problems requiring intervention by the appropriate European institutions. However, the situation has also been exacerbated by a lack of respect for religious freedom. An extensive attempt at Islamisation through the massacre of the Egyptian Copts is a serious crime which the European Union should not take lightly. Attempting to bring about religious dialogue and reconciliation between Muslims and Christians is the only way to achieve freedom and to defuse the situation, not just in Egypt but in the other Arab states. Simply expressing our condemnation of the precarious situation in the Arab world is not enough. The Union must take more decisive steps to try and bring about moderate political change in the region.
Nathalie Griesbeck (ALDE), in writing. – (FR) Almost nine months after the fall of Hosni Moubarak, and with President al-Assad of Syria clinging on to power at the price of a bloody repression, I voted in favour of this resolution, which condemns the murders of peaceful militants in Egypt and Syria and calls on the authorities of both countries to protect Christian communities. In Egypt, although the revolution had raised tremendous hope of freedom, the repression of the Coptic Christians is a reminder that the situation of the minorities in the Middle East remains extremely worrying. More worrying still is the situation in Syria, where President al-Assad, in a murderous surge forward, continues to persecute protesters and to eliminate those who oppose the regime. Here too, Christians are under threat, and it behoves the Syrian authorities to guarantee their safety. However, as we are dealing with a regime that has lost its footing and which retains power through weapons, repression and torture, it is an illusion to expect anything. President al-Assad must step down as quickly as possible in the interests of the Syrian people and the stability of the entire region.
Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. − (LT) I welcomed this document because there is concern about the situation of Christians in Syria, in particular their safety. Actions aimed at inciting inter-confessional conflict are to be condemned. The current and future Syrian authorities must ensure reliable and efficient protection for the Christian communities. An independent, transparent and effective investigation should be carried out into the killings, arrests, arbitrary detention and alleged forced disappearances and instances of torture by the Syrian security forces in order to ensure that the perpetrators of such acts are held to account by the international community. I also agree and believe that the new Constitution in Egypt should explicitly provide for the protection of all fundamental rights, including freedom of association, freedom of peaceful assembly, freedom of expression and freedom of religion, conscience and thought, and the protection of minorities. The Egyptian authorities must make sure that any constitutional provision is inclusive and leaves no possibility for discrimination against anyone in Egyptian society.
Tunne Kelam (PPE), in writing. − I voted in favour of this resolution. The growing violence towards Christians in North Africa and the Middle East is an extremely worrying trend. The EU must strengthen its call for religious tolerance and equal opportunities. I remind the EU that the European Parliament has called for mainstreaming the freedom of religion in EU human rights policy. The revolution in Egypt has brought down a dictator, but has not ended the violence. Recent extreme violence against the Coptic Christians cannot be tolerated by the international community. The EU should strongly demand the removal of references to religion in all official documents, guaranteed equal access to all public and political posts, access to unconditional, free medical treatment for the wounded and the release of the 28 Christians held in custody in Maspero. Action is needed now, especially in view of the fact that Egyptian public media have called for violence and the possible threat of radical Islamisation until and during the upcoming elections, as indicated by statements of high officials such as Major General Rouini, who has claimed that the entire army and population of Egypt is Salafist.
David Martin (S&D), in writing. − I voted for this resolution, which calls on the Egyptian authorities to ensure full respect for all fundamental rights, including freedom of association, freedom of peaceful assembly, freedom of expression and freedom of religion, conscience and thought for all citizens in Egypt, including Coptic Christians, and that Coptic Christian communities do not fall victim to violent attacks and can live in peace and freely express their beliefs throughout the country. It calls for the adequate protection of churches in order to put an end to the continuous aggression and destruction of churches by Islamic extremists and welcomes continued efforts to adopt a ‘Common Code for building places of worship’, stressing that the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion is a fundamental right guaranteed by legal instruments.
Mario Mauro (PPE), in writing. – (IT) Religious freedom is an essential part of all democracies. Condemning and preventing attacks and massacres of Christian communities must be a priority for the European institutions and for the whole international community, because defending these minorities forms the basis for our understanding of civil coexistence and democracy. I am voting in favour.
Louis Michel (ALDE), in writing. – (FR) As humanists and universalists we should fight for universal ethics based on the sacred obligation to protect every human being. We should take action every day to guarantee the protection of human rights for all, including minorities. The EU, as the foundation of democratic values, should remain vigilant in order to establish a world of greater freedom, fairness, solidarity and respect for all. It must work to build a society that respects man and his different identities, a society that rejects discrimination and asserts that man does not just carry one identity within him, but several.
Did John F. Kennedy not state before the Protestant Council of New York in 1963 that ‘the Family of Man is not limited to a single race or religion’? Reducing a human being’s identity to a single characteristic is an entirely false conception of the individual. Some make this incorrect assessment through a lack of reflection. Others exploit this shortcut out of opportunism and malice. Each man is defined by a multitude of different identities.
Radvilė Morkūnaitė-Mikulėnienė (PPE), in writing. − (LT) The sustained violence against government critics in Syria and growing tensions in Egypt are a major concern. The goal of democracy and freedom from tyranny comes before everything else – it must not perish in the battle for power. I believe that the elections in Egypt beginning on 28 November will become one of the turning points that will determine the future course of the Egyptian state – be it towards polarisation and radicalisation or democracy and respect for human rights. However, it is hard to imagine free and democratic elections because they will take place in a state of emergency in which freedom of the press and freedom of assembly are restricted, civilians are subject to mass arrests and trial in military courts, women’s rights are being undermined, and polarisation and radicalisation are deepening. One can only welcome the decision to investigate the events which led to the killing of peaceful Coptic protesters. The perpetrators must be found and held to account – this is an obligation of the rule of law. This is not enough, however. The interim Egyptian Government must create the conditions for political and civil society to prepare for a peaceful and calm election campaign, and itself be ready to transfer power to representatives elected in democratic and free elections recognised by the international community.
Rolandas Paksas (EFD), in writing. − (LT) I welcome this resolution because Christians have found themselves in a particularly difficult situation in Egypt and Syria, two countries with a Muslim majority which are currently undergoing major political and social change. It is thus very important to ensure that Christian communities receive credible and effective protection.
It should be noted that Syria urgently needs to begin implementing a process of serious democratic reforms because major human rights violations committed by the ruling regime in suppressing civil riots continue to cause concern. The use of violence against peaceful protestors should also be prevented.
Urgent democratic, economic and social reforms are also necessary in Egypt so that security forces do not use disproportionate force against peaceful residents, in particular against Coptic Christians, and the protection of all fundamental human rights is guaranteed.
Georgios Papanikolaou (PPE), in writing. – (EL) I voted in favour of the joint motion for a resolution. Egypt and Syria are going through a critical period of democratisation which involves important problems and challenges. The victims of the peaceful march organised on 9 October by the Coptic Christians in protest against the attack on a Coptic church in Aswan are the worst possible proof that the path to democracy, to dealing with religious discrimination, to adopting effect penal sanctions against religious discrimination and to restoring normality in society is not easy. In this resolution, the European Parliament sends a message of solidarity to the Egyptian people at this difficult time in the country’s move towards democracy, strongly condemns the killing of protesters in Egypt and calls on the authorities to guarantee full respect for all fundamental rights, including freedom of association, freedom of peaceful assembly, freedom of expression and freedom of religion, conscience and thought for all citizens in Egypt.
Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. – (PT) I voted for this motion for a resolution on the situation in Egypt and Syria, in particular of the Christian communities, as I agree with Parliament’s recommendations to the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.
Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. – (PT) It is not without regret that we are hearing the news currently reaching us of the persecution of Christian communities in Egypt and Syria. From Egypt, the reports are mainly about the persecution of members of the Coptic Church. Apart from the high number of believers who have already left the country, there are reports of summary judgments being handed down by military tribunals, which offer no guarantees of a defence or an independent trial. In addition, at least 25 Egyptians were killed and more than 300 injured in a peaceful religious demonstration which took place in the north of Cairo.
In Syria, for its part, religious persecution has formed part of the severe repression that has been making itself felt, and which has led to a veritable policy of massacring opponents of the regime over the past few months. In view of this, Parliament unreservedly condemns religious persecution, and expresses its solidarity with all the current victims of such acts. I therefore voted in favour.
Robert Rochefort (ALDE), in writing. – (FR) The acts of violence that have taken place in recent months in Egypt and Syria, including those that directly undermine freedom of thought and conscience, cannot be ignored within the European Union. Both these countries have experienced major sectarian tensions, particularly with regard to Christian communities, which have resulted in killings and intolerable situations of displacement. The resolution adopted by the European Parliament today calls for these acts to be condemned and for their perpetrators to be identified and brought to justice. I hope that we will be heard. The European Parliament also expresses its solidarity with the Egyptian and Syrian people and supports their democratic aspirations, insisting, in the case of Egypt, on the importance of the new constitution. It is crucial that Europe supports these countries during this period of transition, and I welcome this vote.
Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. − In favour. The EP: 1. Expresses again its solidarity with the Egyptian people in this critical and difficult period of democratic transition in the country and continues to support their democratic aspirations; encourages the EU and its Member States to continue to support the efforts aimed at accelerating democratic, economic and social reforms in Egypt; and 2. Strongly condemns the killing of protestors in Egypt; expresses its sincere condolences to the families of all victims; calls on the authorities to ensure that security forces do not use disproportionate force; emphasises the right of all citizens to demonstrate freely and peacefully, under due protection from law enforcement authorities; and calls on the Egyptian authorities to release the 28 arrested Christians at Maspero as well all others arrested.
Oreste Rossi (EFD), in writing. – (IT) I have already tabled several questions to the European Union and Baroness Ashton on how they intend to intervene to protect religious minorities and civil rights in the Arab countries. In particular, they must focus on the Christian minorities in Egypt, Syria and Iraq. I believe that the transition must take place with respect for those countries’ obligations as regards civil and religious rights. The European Union must have the courage to break off diplomatic relations with those countries that do not respect these rights.
As far as the situation in Syria and Iran is concerned, the EU must intervene to ensure respect for the right of those countries’ citizens to demonstrate freely. I condemn any attempt to restrict the free flow of information, attacks on and intimidation of journalists and defenders of human rights. I should like to stress that the citizens’ democratic aspirations must be respected through dialogue and political reforms, with full protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms, and through free and fair elections.
Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. – (PT) Over recent months, Syria and Egypt have been undergoing a critical period in the transition to democracy, facing serious difficulties and considerable challenges in this process of social stability and economic development. I would like to voice my complete solidarity with the Egyptian and Syrian peoples, and I hope that the authorities will succeed in identifying the perpetrators of and those responsible for the attacks against Christian communities. I also believe that it is crucial that the authorities respect the public’s fundamental rights, especially freedom of association, freedom of peaceful assembly, freedom of expression, and freedom of religion, conscience and thought for all citizens. I am voting for this resolution of the European Parliament on the situation in Egypt and Syria, on which it is essential that the EU take a clear and unequivocal position by strongly condemning the murder of protestors. I also believe that the EU should adopt measures in cases of serious human rights violations, and it should also make way for the adoption of new aid measures aimed at supporting both peoples in their progress towards a peaceful democratic transition.
Silvia-Adriana Ţicău (S&D), in writing. − (RO) I voted in favour of the Parliament resolution on the situation in Egypt and Syria, in particular of Christian communities, because the freedoms of religion, belief, conscience and thought are fundamental and universal values and are essential elements of democracy. The European Union has repeatedly expressed its commitment to the freedoms of religion, belief, conscience and thought, and has stressed that governments have a duty to guarantee these freedoms all over the world.
We welcome the efforts by the Egyptian authorities to identify those responsible for and the perpetrators of attacks against the Christian community. We ask the Egyptian authorities to ensure full respect for all fundamental rights, including freedom of association, freedom of peaceful assembly, freedom of expression and freedom of religion, conscience and belief for all citizens of Egypt, including Coptic Christians, and to ensure that the Coptic Christian community is not victim to violent attack and is able to live in peace and express its beliefs freely throughout the country. We call on the Egyptian authorities to end discrimination against Coptic Christians, for example by removing references to religion from all official documents, and to ensure that constitutional provisions are inclusive and do not leave loopholes for discrimination against anybody in Egyptian society.
Patrizia Toia (S&D), in writing. – (IT) The favourable outcome of the vote concerning the resolution on the situation in Egypt and Syria, with particular regard for Christian communities, is confirmation of the fact that Europe continues to look after ethnic and religious minorities. Unfortunately, the situation has now become even more worrying due to a trail of blood and death, in Egypt above all, but also elsewhere in the world, which the European institutions cannot ignore. Parliament is alive to this and intends to take action to ensure that such episodes are not repeated. There is no use in denying that tension exists between Muslims and Christians, but stopping there would only afford a partial view of the situation. History teaches us that religions can coexist, as long as the climate is right. The current difficulties are worsened by hidden troublemakers, who fan the flames to deepen the conflict and impede the transition to democracy. We need to clarify the role of the armed forces in this phase, as they have all too frequently turned into the agents of repression, rather than guarantors of transition. We appeal to the representatives of all religions, philosophies and schools of thought to contribute to civil and peaceful coexistence. Europe – the home of fundamental rights and freedoms – will do its part to ensure that these principles are respected.
Marie-Christine Vergiat (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (FR) I abstained from voting on this resolution, which expresses deep concern over the situation of Christian communities. On this matter, the Confederal Group of the European United Left – Nordic Green Left has tabled a resolution with a very different message.
I take no issue with defending the right of Coptic Christians to freely practise their religion without being subjected to the slightest aggression and without running the risk of being imprisoned or, worse still, killed.
However, human rights cannot be defended if we have double standards. Murders and human rights violations are a daily reality in Syria, and the situation in Egypt is far from stable.
The EU should not defend any particular community. It should not discriminate but, rather, defend freedom of thought, conscience, religion and, more broadly, public freedoms and democracy without making any distinctions. It is this truly universal conception of human rights that I support.
Zbigniew Ziobro (ECR), in writing. − (PL) The European Parliament in its resolution of 20 January 2011 stated that it wants Egypt to be free and to become an exemplary state in the area of ensuring civil liberties and rights as well as religious rights and freedoms. Recently I called Baroness Ashton’s attention to the fact that violence against the Copts is on the rise and that there has been a considerable increase in the number of extreme Islamist political groups. I warned that without a firm stand on the issue of religious freedoms the provision of assistance to Egypt should be out of the question. As I feared, we have witnessed constant attacks on Christians in the last five months. Furthermore, in the course of bloody clashes the army that at present rules the country has killed 36 and wounded more than 200 Copts. The reality of the situation is that the new authorities are not responding either to the shameful acts of religious violence or to the increasing lack of restraint of extreme Islamic militants, who are attacking places of worship such as the church in Aswan.
This hard-line approach towards Christians is also reflected in the draft of the new constitution of Egypt, which contains direct reference to sharia law. It is worth reminding ourselves that according to the version of the constitution that has been in force since 1956, Christians cannot renovate their church buildings without presidential consent. How many similar ideas do we still have to accept? Under such circumstances, the European Union should not sign any trade agreements with Egypt and should suspend all aid, until a new constitution is announced that offers full protection to Christians who are resident there and that gives them equal rights with the Islamic majority.
Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. – (PT) I am voting for this motion for a resolution, as I believe that the law should be unequivocally reaffirmed in all Member States of the EU, and that, despite the apparent stability of Ukraine in the face of court cases involving senior state officials and even the Prime Minister, a clear signal needs to be given that the country’s legal system is effective and transparent. Democratic stability should be ensured so that we can consider whether Ukraine can become a full Member State of the EU.
Laima Liucija Andrikienė (PPE), in writing. − I fully support this resolution, which looks forward to a deepening of relations between the EU and Ukraine, provided that all criteria, including respect for the principles of democracy, human rights, fundamental freedoms and the rule of law, are met by Ukraine. However we, as Members of the European Parliament, express deep concern that the Tymoshenko trial is at odds with the Ukraine Government's proclaimed commitment to democracy and European values, and are concerned at the continued detention of the former Minister of the Interior, Yuri Lutsenko. We insist that all judicial proceedings against former and current senior government officials should be conducted in accordance with European standards of fairness, impartiality, transparency and independence; we believe that failure to review Yulia Tymoshenko’s conviction will jeopardise the conclusion of the Association Agreement and its ratification, while pushing the country further away from the realisation of its European perspective, and we stress that the strengthening of the rule of law and internal reform, including a credible fight against corruption, are essential for the conclusion and ratification of the Association Agreement and the deepening of EU-Ukraine relations.
Pino Arlacchi (S&D), in writing. − I voted against this resolution because its text could generate confusion about the European Parliament’s commitment to the issue of human rights and the rule of law.
The resolution gives the impression that Yulia Tymoshenko, the famous Ukrainian tycoon and politician now in jail, deserves to be supported as if she where a champion of freedom and justice in her country. Ms Tymoshenko came to international attention after the end of the Soviet Union as a member of the new oligarchy who accumulated huge fortunes through the fraudulent privatisation of public goods and through shady practices in business and politics in Ukraine and Russia. She had already been arrested a decade ago on economic crime charges. Ms Tymoshenko’s opponents and current competitors for power in Ukraine are no better than she. I do not therefore understand why the EU should meddle in a fight between two factions of foreign oligarchs, nether of which is either credible as a victim or committed to the values of democracy, the rule of law and human rights. Nor do I understand why our relationship with Ukraine as a country should be affected by the Tymoshenko case.
Sophie Auconie (PPE), in writing. – (FR) The Orange Revolution in Ukraine represented a historic turning point. However, the imprisonment of one of the actors of this revolution, the former leader of the opposition, Yulia Tymoshenko, is a setback in the democratic progress recorded since 2004 and undermines relations between Ukraine and Europe. For these reasons, I voted in favour of the resolution of the European Parliament condemning her imprisonment.
Edite Estrela (S&D), in writing. – (PT) I voted for this resolution, as it argues that all legal proceedings against senior officials of the current or previous Ukrainian Government must be carried out in accordance with European rules on equity, impartiality, transparency and independence. I believe that strengthening the rule of law and carrying out internal reforms involving credible efforts to combat corruption are essential for strengthening EU-Ukrainian relations and for consolidating democracy in Ukraine.
José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. – (PT) This joint motion for a resolution on the current situation in Ukraine was tabled following a declaration by the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy pursuant to Rule 110(2) of the Rules of Procedure. The violation of human rights in this country has been condemned in previous resolutions by this House. Although Ukraine has applied for EU membership, there have been allegations of serious violations of the Charter of Fundamental Rights, especially in terms of a lack of respect for minorities, the curtailing of freedom and persecution of opponents of the current regime, as in the case of Yulia Tymoshenko, who has been sentenced in a politicised trial lacking all transparency, which has sparked much international criticism. While I believe the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement between the European Union and Ukraine should be signed in December 2011, I voted for this joint motion for a resolution, as I believe the EU’s increasing closeness to Ukraine will help the country’s government to realise that it has to respect democratic life and stop persecuting its opponents.
Ilda Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (PT) In this resolution, the majority in Parliament once again shows its complete lack of respect for the fundamental principles of international law, especially non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries. It also violates principles that it claims to follow, such as the separation of powers, impartiality, transparency and the independence of the judiciary from political power, when it seeks to influence the trial of Yulia Tymoshenko that is underway in the Ukrainian courts. They go even further, using blackmail and threats, saying that if Ms Tymoshenko’s conviction is not overturned, it ‘will jeopardise the conclusion of the association agreement and its ratification, while pushing the country further away from the realisation of its European perspective’. The majority in Parliament have difficulty in hiding the hypocrisy of this policy, the fundamental aim of which is to interfere in Ukraine’s internal affairs in order to create better conditions for defending the interests of big business and the financial sectors in their own countries. In view of all this, we voted against this resolution.
Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D), in writing. − (SK) The current political situation in Ukraine relating to the conviction of the former premier and opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko clearly illustrates the urgent need for judicial reform in Ukraine. The European Union should be ready to provide assistance and take steps that would help to modernise the legal system and to strengthen the rule of law in Ukraine. There are also doubts with regard to the transparency and impartiality of the trial. Independent bodies have clearly stated that the trial did not meet international democratic standards. The critical situation in that country should be viewed seriously and not relativised. While it is important to try to prevent similar situations arising in future, it is equally important to secure a fair and impartial legal process to replace politically-biased judicial processes by putting in place a modern, impartial judiciary. I hope that we will be witnesses to an appeal process in which the Ukrainian judiciary will not ignore the European institutions’ condemnation of the tendentious and undemocratic nature of the trial. We need to work together to create conditions which will strengthen the European integration process in Ukraine on the basis of common values, respect for individual rights and the application of democratic standards.
Nathalie Griesbeck (ALDE), in writing. – (FR) I voted in favour of this resolution, which condemns current developments in Ukraine following the sentencing of Yulia Tymoshenko, the main political opponent of President Yanukovych. This condemnation marks the distancing of Ukraine from fundamental European values and standards. Ukraine is a young country, which has been independent for just 20 years. It must completely overhaul its legislation and administration, which were profoundly influenced by the Soviet era. However, if this country now wishes to move closer to the European Union and conclude important agreements with it, such as the Association Agreement, it must stop imprisoning former policy makers, here, there and everywhere. More broadly, it must respect fundamental European values of democracy, rule of law, basic human freedoms and human rights. Ukraine is still, essentially, the theatre of serious violations of the freedom of the press, association, and assembly, of corruption in its judicial system, and of cases of torture and ill-treatment in its detention centres.
Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. − (LT) I welcomed this document because it is considered that a deepening of relations between the EU and Ukraine and offering Ukraine the prospect of EU accession are of great significance and in the interests of both parties. It recognises Ukraine’s European aspirations with the condition that all criteria, including respect for the principles of democracy, human rights, fundamental freedoms and the rule of law, are met. I believe that the Ukrainian Government must consistently adhere to its proclaimed commitment to democracy and European values. All judicial proceedings against former and current senior government officials should be conducted in accordance with European standards of fairness, impartiality, transparency and independence. There is concern about some signs of a decline in democratic freedoms and over the possible use of state institutions for partisan purposes and to exact political revenge. Strengthening the rule of law and effectively combating corruption are essential not only for the conclusion and ratification of the Association Agreement and the deepening of EU-Ukraine relations in general, but also for the consolidation of democracy in Ukraine. The authorities should take all necessary measures to protect these essential aspects of a democratic society and to refrain from any attempt to control, directly or indirectly, the content of national media reporting. I am pleased that agreement has been reached on the conclusion of a deep and comprehensive Free Trade Agreement. I believe that this agreement is a solid basis for finalising the negotiations on an Association Agreement between the European Union and Ukraine.
Cătălin Sorin Ivan (S&D), in writing. − (RO) I voted in favour of the motion for a resolution, to which all political groups have contributed, which expresses disappointment at the imprisonment of Ms Yulia Tymoshenko, former Prime Minister and leader of the opposition in Ukraine. In this way, the European Parliament has decided to adopt a stance against serious violations of democratic principles in a state that wishes to become a full EU member. I have asked and will continue to ask the EU to condemn just as strongly the oppressive regimes in the EU and beyond.
Tunne Kelam (PPE), in writing. − I voted in favour of this resolution because Ukraine has high importance for the EU and we therefore have especially to remind Ukraine of its obligations to fulfil the criteria of the rule of law and an independent judiciary. Nevertheless, I would like to underline the importance of the EFTA. Ukraine is at the crossroads and the EU has to demonstrate its political commitment to engage in deeper and far-reaching relations with this country. I support conditionality and reciprocity. All the same, I call on the EU to be careful in its assessment of whether to delay the signing of the EFTA. We should not forget that Ukrainians are Europeans and that their future is associated with the EU. Various civil society organisations are vocally calling for EFTA without delay and I believe we have to listen to them. The EU should not give in on its demands for an independent judiciary, but it should also think twice before putting EFTA in the balance during the political bargaining, considering that the people who will suffer most from the delay are the ordinary Ukrainian citizens.
David Martin (S&D), in writing. − I voted for this resolution, which deplores the sentencing of former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko as a violation of human rights and an abuse of the judiciary for the purpose of the political suppression of Ukraine’s leading opposition politician. It emphasises that the law selectively applied against Tymoshenko dates back to Soviet times and makes provision for criminal prosecution for political decisions, and Articles 364 and 365 of that law, which are currently under review by the Verhovna Rada, do not conform to European and UN standards.
Jiří Maštálka (GUE/NGL), in writing. - (CS) We have been talking for years about the danger of corruption in developing countries, particularly to the east of the EU’s borders, including corruption in the highest places. Reports on the topic of corruption are often true, of course, while also being full of rumour. There is now a split between Ukrainian society and the media regarding the trial of former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko. Was she or was she not involved in corruption? The proposers of the resolution are convinced that she was not. They are entitled to their opinion. In civilised countries, however, it is the courts that decide on these issues. I do not doubt that courts can make mistakes. Against such an eventuality, the rule of law includes the institution of appeal to a court of higher instance, perhaps all the way to Strasbourg.
I have not heard that the former Prime Minister was denied this right. I acknowledge that this process is lengthy, disagreeable and imperfect. No better one has been devised, however. The resolution suggests that the court was politicised. I do not know. The Commission and the European Parliament, however, have both interfered with it politically. Is the fact that we dislike someone’s opponent really enough to make us stand up for a politician or oligarch suspected of corruption? Or are you also afraid of judgments against corruption in the highest places in the EU?
Mario Mauro (PPE), in writing. – (IT) Implementing reforms that significantly increase its citizens’ freedoms is not only important for former-Soviet Ukraine’s relations with the European Union, but also for the consolidation of democracy. The European Union has an extremely important role to play, given the worrying signs of recent months. I am voting in favour.
Louis Michel (ALDE), in writing. – (FR) Ukraine has been a partner of choice for the European Union for several years. However, recent events mean that Ukraine is no longer a ‘just state’ governed by the rule of law, which we find very worrying. Indeed, Yulia Tymoshenko, former Prime Minister of Ukraine, was unjustly sentenced under her country’s legal system. Similarly, Yuri Lutsenko, former Minister of the Interior, was also detained without good reason. Could that not be seen as the desire to stifle opposition? The European Union, defender of human rights, democracy and basic freedoms, cannot remain insensitive to such a situation on its doorstep, because Ukraine is well and truly a European country. Relations between Ukraine and the European Union must be based on the promotion of common values. In the interests of maintaining regular, open contact with our Ukrainian counterparts, this report rightly highlights the urgent efforts that need to be made before the December summit.
Radvilė Morkūnaitė-Mikulėnienė (PPE), in writing. − (LT) I wholeheartedly support the process of Ukraine’s rapprochement with the European Union and the European reforms in the country. The agreement reached on a deep and comprehensive Free Trade Agreement is to be welcomed, but it is disappointing that the Ukrainian Government seriously failed to appreciate the concern signalled by the EU and, through its recent actions, has made further progress even more difficult. The Ukrainian Government must understand that the European Union is not just an economic union but also one of values, and its goal of moving closer to it, and particularly the realisation of its European perspective, solely through economic ties will not produce the desired results. I therefore call on Ukraine to strengthen the rule of law and carry out reforms to the legal framework in accordance with the recommendations of the Venice Commission.
Siiri Oviir (ALDE), in writing. − (ET) I did not support the points that were emphasised in the resolution dealing with the events in Ukraine. The European Parliament does not have the authority to be an ‘attorney’ for Yulia Tymoshenko. That is precisely the tendency of the main argument of the resolution. The conviction of the former prime minister is an assessment of her activities, of an action that exceeded her authority and of her fraudulent positive portrayal of a controversial government decision that made it possible for Ukraine to conclude an economically unfavourable agreement with the Russian Federation. Thus it is not correct to refer to the judgment as a violation of human rights and to the trial as politically motivated. It is nevertheless true that every trial of a politician is to a certain extent political. We in this parliament have also participated in giving a political veneer to this trial.
Rolandas Paksas (EFD), in writing. − (LT) I welcome this resolution because, in order to strengthen and develop EU-Ukraine relations, whereby the latter is being given the prospect of accession to the EU, we must be sure that respect for the principles of democracy, human rights, fundamental freedoms and the rule of law are guaranteed in Ukraine. It is also very important that all judicial proceedings should be conducted in accordance with the principles of fairness, transparency, impartiality and independence. Ukraine should unconditionally comply with democratic rules.
It is to be welcomed that agreement has finally been reached on a deep and comprehensive Free Trade Agreement. It should be noted that this agreement is a solid basis for finalising the negotiations on an Association Agreement between the EU and Ukraine. However, to ensure that the process of Ukraine’s rapprochement with the EU proceeds quickly, Ukraine should make every effort to ensure that processes within the country take place in strict compliance with the requirements of the rule of law and that corruption is tackled more effectively.
Justas Vincas Paleckis (S&D), in writing. − (LT) The decision by a Ukrainian court to sentence former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko to seven years’ imprisonment has disappointed the European Union. Such steps are reminiscent of how the authoritarian President of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, deals with political opponents. I agree with the EU’s assessment that the Ukrainian court dealing with Yulia Tymoshenko’s case failed to meet the international standards of fairness, transparency and independence applied to judicial proceedings. This trial has dealt a severe blow to EU-Ukraine relations, which are particularly sensitive now that negotiations on an Association Agreement have been concluded. Any improvement in relations will also depend on how events relating to the former Prime Minster unfold. Reform of the criminal code and the judicial system in Ukraine should be accelerated. I also voted in favour of this resolution because I support the rapporteur’s call for the Tymoshenko case not to place any fundamental obstacles in the way of Ukraine’s integration into Europe. We call for the signing of the EU-Ukraine Association and Free Trade Agreement in December not to be postponed.
Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. – (PT) I voted for this motion for a resolution on the current situation in Ukraine, as I share its concerns in relation to the political persecution that has been taking place in that country.
Tomasz Piotr Poręba (ECR), in writing. − (PL) At the present time Ukraine finds itself on the brink of a decision that will have a bearing on the destiny of this country for decades to come: whether it will associate its future with the European Union or turn from Europe towards Russia. An EU-Ukraine Association Agreement was supposed to be signed at the December summit this year, the first agreement of its type with a large country neighbouring the EU. Unfortunately, recent events in Ukraine, including the trial and conviction of the former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, have raised a big question mark as to the possibility of a rapid conclusion to the negotiations and initialling of the agreement. The authorities of the EU and of the Member States have made it clear to President Yanukovych that politically-motivated trials are not compatible with the standards that are held within the European Union.
The resolution adopted today gives an additional emphasis to this message. I do believe, however, that such signals should not block the road towards a quick signing of the Association Agreement, which would serve the best interests of both Ukraine and the European Union, since it will provide for a better monitoring of Ukraine’s responsibilities, especially in the sphere of strengthening democracy and introducing the required reforms.
Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. – (PT) Recent events in Ukraine have attracted the concern of international analysts. According to the information available at present, the former Prime Minister, Yulia Tymoshenko, has been sentenced to seven years in prison, to a three-year ban on political activity, to a USD 200 million fine and to the confiscation of all her property, on the basis of an old Soviet law whose purpose was launching politically motivated criminal proceedings. Whatever the basis of the decision made, its break with the fundamental principles of the rule of law should be strongly condemned, along with the severely disproportionate punishments. It is feared, moreover, that the basis of this decision was the proximity of the next election. In view of this, I would like to reiterate the points made in the resolution, for which I voted, calling on Ukraine to reform its justice system in the near future, bringing it in line with the fundamental principles that should govern the democratic rule of law.
Robert Rochefort (ALDE), in writing. – (FR) The European Union, in its commercial relations with third countries, must not ignore the basic principles of respect for the rule of law, the independence of the judiciary, and human rights. These principles must be taken into consideration, particularly during negotiations leading to a free trade agreement between the European Union and Ukraine. However, recent events in that country, especially the sentencing of Yulia Tymoshenko, are very worrying. I welcome the adoption by the European Parliament of this resolution, and am pleased that the text emphasises the need to resume the dialogue with President Yanukovych, to support the implementation of a balanced and transparent political debate, and to accelerate ongoing reforms in the Ukrainian State.
Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. − In favour. The EP: 1. Takes the view that a deepening of relations between the EU and Ukraine and the fact of offering Ukraine a European perspective are of great significance and in the interests of both parties; recognises Ukraine’s aspirations pursuant to Article 49 of the Treaty on European Union, provided that all criteria, including respect for the principles of democracy, human rights, fundamental freedoms and the rule of law, are met; 2. Deplores the sentencing of former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko as a violation of human rights and an abuse of the judiciary for the purpose of the political suppression of Ukraine’s leading opposition politician; emphasises that the law selectively applied against Tymoshenko dates back to Soviet times and makes provision for criminal prosecution for political decisions, while Articles 364 and 365 of that law, which are currently under review by the Verhovna Rada, do not conform to European and UN standards; 3. Urges the Ukrainian authorities to ensure a fair, transparent and impartial legal process should Yulia Tymoshenko appeal against her conviction, and in the other trials against members of the former government.
Tokia Saïfi (PPE), in writing. – (FR) The recent sentencing of Yulia Tymoshenko and the continued imprisonment of Yuri Lutsenko, despite all the rules governing the principle of fair judicial proceedings, go against the statements issued by the Ukrainian authorities, who claim to be committed to fundamental rights and democracy. I supported this resolution during the plenary vote because Ukraine needs to be sent a clear message: it cannot persist with its desire to tighten links with the EU while, at the same time, disregarding the fundamental principles it defends. On 20 October, the EU and Ukraine announced that the technical negotiations on their association agreement had finished, and that they were looking to sign the agreement before the end of 2011. The previous week, in the Committee on International Trade, we refused to give an opinion on that agreement, precisely on account of recent developments in the area of human rights in Ukraine. We call on Ukraine to assume its responsibilities and to begin a transparent debate on the political decision-making process and respect for fundamental values such as democracy and media pluralism. The EU is ready to provide technical support, but the impetus has to come from Ukraine.
Indrek Tarand (Verts/ALE), in writing. − The motion for a resolution on Ukraine touches some very fundamental issues for the people of both the EU and Ukraine. Although we need to focus more sharply on Ukraine, we have to be stricter as regards the EU's actions as well. If biased political trials against the opposition are against freedom, democracy and human rights in Ukraine, so is neglecting the security of our own Member States. Namely, the decision of the French President to sell a Mistral-class warship to Russia calls into question peace and security in the Baltic Sea and Black Sea area. Furthermore (ceterum censeo), I am convinced France will sincerely regret its decision to sell a Mistral-class warship to Russia.
Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. – (PT) The EU’s foreign policy is based on the founding principles of the European Community itself, one being the rule of law, and the impartiality, independence and fairness of legal proceedings. The sentencing of the former Prime Minister, Yulia Tymoshenko, to seven years’ imprisonment is seen as an act of revenge, in order to prevent her from standing in the next parliamentary elections and the 2015 presidential election. These acts have been carried out against several members of the Ukrainian opposition, with the aim of eliminating all possible opponents. I believe that in order to deepen EU-Ukraine relations, the competent Ukrainian authorities need to re-establish the principle of the rule of law and transparency, fairness and impartiality in the trials against former members of the government. This is the only way in which it is possible to conclude the association agreement and move towards the integration of Ukraine into the EU. I am against the use of national institutions for partisan or political ends, which goes against fundamental rights and guarantees.
Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. – (PT) I am voting for this motion for a resolution, as I believe that antimicrobial resistance is an important issue which is still largely unresolved, and has become a threat to public health in Europe and the rest of the world, resulting in longer and more complicated treatment, in lower quality of life, in greater risk of death – 25 000 patients die every year in the EU due to infections caused by resistant micro-organisms – and in increased health-care costs and productivity losses of at least EUR 1.5 billion per year. It is no coincidence that the World Health Organisation made it the theme of this year’s World Health Day. I note with concern that antimicrobial resistance is a growing threat to public health in Europe and the rest of the world, despite the measures adopted at EU and international level, so I would call for an intensification in the fight against resistance to antimicrobial agents in human medicine.
Elena Oana Antonescu (PPE), in writing. − (RO) Antimicrobial resistance poses a serious threat to public health worldwide, involving more complicated treatment protocols, higher risks of death and additional costs to health-care systems. This phenomenon clearly has cross-border implications, and the occurrence of exceptional situations which would most probably not be manageable with the current resources and knowledge cannot be ruled out.
I therefore call on Member States to strengthen the global commitment to protecting the effectiveness of antimicrobial agents for the benefit of future generations. I also note with concern that the level of access to information on antimicrobial resistance and the impact on the consumption behaviour of citizens remain uneven across the EU, in particular with regard to the enforcement of the legislation on prescription-only use for antibiotics. I consider it necessary for there to be more research on new antimicrobials and possible alternatives under the EU’s Research Framework Programmes.
Sophie Auconie (PPE), in writing. – (FR) As a member of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety, I supported a European Parliament resolution which draws attention to a public health fact: each year more than 25 000 deaths in the EU are linked to increasing antimicrobial resistance! We therefore call on the Member States to introduce new antibiotics, to improve vaccination coverage and to use antibiotics in livestock farming judiciously so as to limit antimicrobial resistance and therefore the risks of diseases being transmitted from animals to humans.
Elena Băsescu (PPE), in writing. − (RO) I voted in favour of this resolution because I think that we need concerted action and a holistic approach to combat the threat posed to public health by antimicrobial resistance. The increase in the number of resistant micro-organisms is an alarming phenomenon which might lead to a serious crisis if appropriate measures are not taken in time to prevent and control it. This is an area in which everybody can make a contribution through responsible use of antibiotics only when recommended by a doctor and in strict compliance with prescribed doses and lengths of treatment. I would stress in this context the importance of public information campaigns on the use of antibiotics in order to limit the phenomenon of increasing antimicrobial resistance. At the same time, I wish to draw attention to the need to continue research and development with a view to finding solutions to these new challenges. In view of the cross-border implications of the crises caused by antimicrobial resistance, it is necessary to coordinate efforts at international level. In this context, I welcome the establishment of the EU-US Transatlantic task force on urgent antimicrobial resistance.
Vilija Blinkevičiūtė (S&D), in writing. − (LT) I voted in favour of this resolution because I believe that it is necessary to create new and better antimicrobial agents and at the same time improve conservation of existing antibiotic resources. Each year in the European Union some 25 000 patients die of diseases caused by drug-resistant micro-organisms, and at least an additional EUR 1.5 billion is spent annually on health care as a result. People use antimicrobial medicines (substances that inhibit micro-organism growth and reproduction) because they are able to destroy bacteria, viruses and other micro-organisms, but their inappropriate and irrational use kills vital cells and suppresses the resistance of the immune system. Indeed, the use of antimicrobial medicines in food-producing animals and their feed is a major factor in the spread of these agents through food products, resulting in a weakening of the antibacterial effect of medicines used in the future. The resistance of antimicrobial agents is an ever-increasing threat to public health not only in Europe but also globally.
Alain Cadec (PPE), in writing. – (FR) I voted for the resolution on the phenomena of resistance to antibiotics. The resolution calls for support for innovation to facilitate the marketing of new, more effective antibiotics. It also calls for better vaccination coverage in both human and veterinary medicine. Finally, the resolution considers it necessary to encourage responsible use of antibiotics in livestock farming in order to reduce the risks of transmission from animals to humans.
Carlos Coelho (PPE), in writing. – (PT) Antimicrobial resistance refers to the inability of some antimicrobial agents, such as antibiotics, to work effectively on organisms, including bacteria, viruses and other micro-organisms, which had previously been sensitive to them, as these micro-organisms have developed a resistance. Antimicrobial resistance has become a threat to public health in Europe and globally, resulting in longer, more complicated treatments, and in the growing risk that the organisms will not respond, with potentially fatal consequences: 25 000 people die each year in the EU from infections caused by resistant micro-organisms. This means action needs to be taken at global level as a matter of urgency, in terms of the more prudent prescription and use of antimicrobial agents, ensuring that these treatments are only followed when they are in fact necessary, and in terms of promoting the research and development of new antimicrobial agents, in conjunction with the pharmaceutical industry, as a way of treating patients infected with resistant micro-organisms.
Corina Creţu (S&D), in writing. − (RO) Each year, 25 000 patients die in the EU from an infection caused by resistant micro-organisms. Given that antimicrobial resistance is an ever increasing threat to public health, I consider that, alongside the monitoring and surveillance of antimicrobial resistance, there should also be increased cooperation and funding to encourage research and development with regard to new antimicrobial agents.
Bearing in mind the inappropriate use of antimicrobial medicines, which creates favourable conditions for resistant micro-organisms, I support the request for action to significantly reduce the use of antibiotics.
Vasilica Viorica Dăncilă (S&D), in writing. − (RO) Antimicrobial resistance is an important and highly sensitive issue at EU level and has become a threat to public health in Europe, resulting in extra health care costs and enormous productivity losses. I believe that it is the duty of the European Commission to study the issue of inappropriate use and sales of antimicrobial agents with or without prescription throughout the chain, and implement a comprehensive long-term strategy to raise the awareness of all actors involved.
Marielle De Sarnez (ALDE), in writing. – (FR) ‘Ultra-resistant’ bacteria claim the lives of approximately 25 000 people in the European Union each year. To combat increasing resistance to these bacteria, stricter controls on the use of antimicrobial agents, such as antibiotics, are necessary. Half of Europeans incorrectly think that antibiotics can treat viral infections and colds. The European Union and the Member States must therefore improve the quality of information and organise prevention campaigns. Similarly, the risk of resistance to antibiotics being transmitted from animals to humans must be reduced by separating, to the extent possible, the active ingredients used in veterinary medicine and those used in human medicine. Finally, the use in agriculture of ‘last resource’ antibiotics targeting problematic human pathogens should be permitted ‘only within the framework of an authorisation, accompanied by resistance surveillance, preferably on a case-by-case basis’.
Edite Estrela (S&D), in writing. – (PT) I voted for the resolution on antimicrobial resistance, which threatens public health in Europe and worldwide, as I believe the Commission should table a legislative framework for action against antimicrobial resistance without delay. Prudent use needs to be made of antimicrobial agents, both for humans and animals, ensuring that they are only used when really needed, and new antimicrobial agents and alternatives need to be researched and developed.
José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. – (PT) Further to questions for oral answer pursuant to Rule 115(5) of the Rules of Procedure, a motion for a resolution of the European Parliament was tabled on the issue of the public health threat of antimicrobial resistance. Most of the EU public are not aware of the harmful impact that the indiscriminate use of antibiotics could have on public health, for both humans and animals. Several scientific studies warn of the risk to public health of certain bacterial strains found in food and food-producing animals. The EU institutions have drawn the attention of all those in positions of responsibility to the ‘prudent use of antimicrobial agents in human medicine’, as these are able to destroy or prevent the growth of bacteria, viruses and other micro-organisms. Given the importance and relevance of this matter, and in view of the fact that the issue of antimicrobial resistance is still largely unresolved, I welcome the tabling of this motion for a resolution, and I hope that it will contribute to improving the quality of life of the EU public.
João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (PT) Widespread use of antibiotics and increasing resistance to antimicrobial agents is certainly worrying. I voted for this resolution because it warns that this represents a major public health problem, and calls for greater prudence and vigilance, highlighting the need for more research into developing new antimicrobial agents and alternatives. However, even more than developing new agents, it is important to understand and attack the causes – also addressed in the resolution – of the development of such resistance, and to respond to the lack of widespread information about this issue. We believe it is important to inform the public and raise awareness of the effects of antibiotics and their use, as mentioned in the resolution. However, there is also a need for real investment in prevention and primary health care, which is today under fierce attack and is rapidly being devalued, with policies that have been leading to divestment in and state disengagement with public health. Profound change in modes of agricultural and livestock production is also crucial, combating intensive production that use large amounts of agrochemicals, including antimicrobial agents. Practical responses are also needed to tackle the raft of problems associated with resistance to antibiotics. We regret the adoption of the amendments proposed by the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats), which have weakened the resolution in this area.
Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D), in writing − (SK) Antimicrobial agents are substances which are able to destroy or prevent the growth of bacteria, viruses and other micro-organisms. Thereby they have played a significant role in improving public health by helping to reduce the number of deaths from diseases and infections which were previously incurable or fatal. Their use has resulted in certain micro-organisms previously sensitive to these antimicrobial agents developing so-called ‘antimicrobial resistance’. In humans, this is often the result of incorrect treatment or the use of excessive doses of drugs containing antibiotics. This constitutes a major threat to public health in Europe and throughout the world, and, as a result, treatment is becoming more prolonged and more complex. It significantly reduces quality of life while the risk of fatal outcomes increases and the health-care costs rise. That is why I believe that we must take urgent steps to prevent or even reverse further growth in the number of resistant micro-organisms. This means that patients themselves should exercise caution when using the available antibiotics and carefully keep to the dosage, the length of treatment and try to use them in combination with other medication. The Member States must increase awareness of the threat to public health posed by antimicrobial resistance and take appropriate measures to encourage the more responsible use of antibiotics.
Elisabetta Gardini (PPE), in writing. – (IT) Around 25 000 people die each year in the EU from infections caused by drug-resistant bacteria. Increasing resistance to antibiotics is not only a medical problem, but also a socio-economic one: the price we pay in Europe for the inappropriate use of these drugs can actually be quantified in productivity losses of at least EUR 1.5 billion per year.
In the light of this growing public-health threat, we urgently need to take cognisance of this on a global level.
I think it is essential to increase understanding of antibiotics among EU citizens and make sure that they are used more responsibly. Along these lines, the European Antibiotic Awareness Day held on 18 November is a laudable initiative that reminds us each year of the importance of using antibiotics only when necessary and above all with a prescription from a doctor who will check their effectiveness.
We must also promote careful use of antimicrobial agents in both human and veterinary medicine. However, I think it is rash to ask for the prophylactic use of antibiotics in farming to be completely eliminated, since these drugs are crucial for controlling infectious illness and have also made a significant contribution to improving livestock.
Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. − (LT) I welcomed this document because it notes with concern that antimicrobial resistance is an ever-increasing threat to public health in Europe and worldwide, despite the actions taken at European and international level. I believe that a further intensification of the fight against resistance to antimicrobial agents in human medicines is needed, focusing on, in the following order of priority: the prudent use of antimicrobial agents both for humans and for animals, ensuring that they are only used when effectively needed for actual treatment of disease, with the correct dosage, dose intervals and duration; the monitoring and surveillance of antimicrobial resistance; the need for research into, and the development of, new antimicrobial agents and alternatives; and links with measures to combat resistance to antimicrobial agents in veterinary medicines, animal feeding stuffs and crop-growing. The Commission is called on to propose without delay a legislative framework for action against antimicrobial resistance, by promoting ‘responsible use’ initiatives and supporting dissemination of, and information about, such initiatives.
Christa Klaß (PPE), in writing. − (DE) Antibiotics are very special drugs. We are very dependent on their efficacy. They must be handled sparingly and responsibly if they are to be effective. Antibiotics are needed in both human and veterinary medicine. For this reason, our most important objective must be to maintain the effectiveness of antimicrobial agents in fighting illnesses in humans and animals. Sustainability can only be achieved by closer examination of the inherent dangers and risks. Innovation and development must result in a continuous supply of new agents. In May, we passed the resolution in relation to resistance to antibiotics in animals. Today’s decision is a supplementary point and is intended to focus on the danger posed to public health by antimicrobial resistance. An information campaign and greater international cooperation are essential.
The situation in relation to resistance, even after approval, must be continuously evaluated on a uniform basis throughout the EU. When animals fall ill, they have a right to be treated. For this reason, it must be possible, under strict regulation and in special cases, also to treat sick animals with antibiotics.
David Martin (S&D), in writing. − I voted for this resolution and particularly welcome paragraph 20 which states ‘Considers the decline in research and development to be the result of a market failure and calls on the Commission to make proposals, via regulatory pathways and other types of measures, to create or improve incentives for the pharmaceutical industry to intensify investment in research into, and development of, new antimicrobial agents and possible alternatives’. I also voted for amendment 7, which would have strengthened this paragraph further but was unfortunately defeated.
Jiří Maštálka (GUE/NGL), in writing. - (CS) One of the main tasks that the Community should fulfil is protecting the health of citizens. In this context, the amendments tightening up the definition and the conditions for using antibiotics, particularly in agriculture, constitute substantial progress, in my opinion. I welcome the emphasis on prevention, including prevention in the area of human health care. The amendments also focus on ensuring the responsible development of new medicines, while at the same time allowing antibiotics to be used in justifiable cases. It is right that the combined resolution emphasises a gradual reduction in the use of antibiotics in agriculture, and their gradual replacement with good hygiene practices and measures in the area of bio-security.
Mario Mauro (PPE), in writing. – (IT) I am voting in favour of the resolution. Antimicrobial resistance is an important and largely unresolved issue that now represents a public-health threat in Europe. It is good news that the Commission will guarantee the availability of adequate financial and human resources.
Mairead McGuinness (PPE), in writing. − Whilst this report has very many good aspects, I did not support Paragraph 28, which calls on the Commission to make legislative proposals to phase out the prophylactic use of antibiotics in livestock farming. I believe at this moment it is a step too far to call for the phasing out of prophylactics without a clear understanding of the implication or alternatives in place. Because Paragraph 28 was adopted, I could not support the text of the final report, and voted against.
Andreas Mölzer (NI), in writing. − (DE) Antibiotics are antimicrobial agents that are only effective against bacteria, which is why they have played an important role in improving public health, because it was possible to use these agents to reduce the number of deaths due to previously incurable or fatal diseases and infections. The increased consumption of antibiotics means that resistance is also on the rise, which has led to a threat to public health worldwide. Another problem is to be found in livestock husbandry, where antibiotics are frequently used, despite their prohibition as growth promoters, which can lead to resistance in human beings.
I abstained from the vote on the resolution because I believe that the public generally needs more information about the consumption of medication. Pharmaceuticals companies in particular should be required to think not just of their own profits, but also of the health of the public at large.
Rolandas Paksas (EFD), in writing. − (LT) I voted in favour of this resolution because resistance to antimicrobial agents is growing in the world, affecting not just humans but also animals. This is a consequence of frequent or inappropriate use of antibiotics, and is a particularly sensitive problem requiring a coordinated decision at EU level. Only through joint efforts will we prevent infection from spreading and reduce the need for antibiotics.
At present innovation in the pharmaceutical industry is dominated by the patent-oriented scientific research and technological development model, which has resulted in market failures and a reduction in scientific research and development. Consequently, EU-wide innovation prizes or other measures to intensify investment in research are needed.
We must also ensure that antimicrobials are used in accordance with strict requirements and only when necessary. Given the increasing resistance of antimicrobial agents, the effectiveness of treatment with antimicrobials is falling, morbidity and mortality are growing, and health-care costs are rising.
To ensure that the said objectives are achieved effectively and as quickly as possible, an integrated monitoring system for antimicrobial resistance and antimicrobial use in Europe should be established to prevent risks to human health.
Justas Vincas Paleckis (S&D), in writing. − (LT) I voted in favour of this resolution because I share the concern about the growing resistance of pathogens to antimicrobial agents. Incorrect, unnecessary and often excessive use of antimicrobials and the use of antibiotics to treat humans or in animal husbandry allow bacteria to develop resistance to these agents. We are thus creating a time bomb which could send us back to the time before antibiotics had been discovered. In those days a simple cold could lead to a person’s death. I support the call to increase funding for the development of new antibiotics. However, the most important thing is to educate the public on the problems of using antimicrobial agents at the wrong time and not as they were intended to be used. In particular, I would urge for practices to be changed in animal husbandry, where antibiotics are currently used as a preventive rather than a curative measure. Disease prevention comes from improving the conditions in which animals are kept and not from feeding them drugs. Certain types of antimicrobial agents for which no possible replacement has yet been found should be completely banned from being used in animal husbandry.
Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. – (PT) I voted for this motion for a resolution on the public health threat of antimicrobial resistance, as it is important to act on this serious public health problem. However, I regret the position taken by the rapporteur in paragraph 28, which is excessive; too broad and exhaustive. It makes no distinction between the antibiotics currently being used in the sector, it does not present alternative to phasing them out, and it seeks the complete elimination of prophylactic antibiotics in livestock farming, without regard to the negative impact that this would have on livestock farming in Europe. I voted against this paragraph.
Rovana Plumb (S&D), in writing. − (RO) Antimicrobial resistance is an important, largely unresolved issue which has become a threat to public health in Europe and globally, resulting in longer, more complicated treatments, a decrease in the quality of life, a greater risk of deaths (25 000 patients die each year in the EU from infections caused by resistant micro-organisms), extra health-care costs and productivity losses of at least EUR 1.5 billion per year.
The Special Eurobarometer of April 2010 reveals that many misconceptions exist about antibiotics and their effects, with 53% of Europeans still believing that antibiotics kill viruses and 47% believing that they are effective against colds and flu.
It is therefore important to have a well-functioning monitoring and surveillance system in place in order to gather reliable and comparable data on the susceptibility of pathogens to antimicrobial agents and the infections caused by them, and the Commission should propose without delay a harmonised monitoring system for antimicrobial resistance. There is a need for more research on new antimicrobials and possible alternatives under the EU’s Research Framework Programmes and for cooperation with the WHO to be strengthened.
Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. – (PT) The purpose of antimicrobial agents is to destroy or prevent the growth of bacteria, viruses and other micro-organisms. In the history of science, this has been one of the major triumphs in reducing diseases and infections, which were deadly until the emergence of these techniques. Today, however, the problem of antimicrobial resistance is emerging, caused by, inter alia, the excessive or uncontrolled use of medicines on both humans and animals. On the other hand, while the pharmaceutical industry has been constantly developing antibiotics, it has been developing fewer antimicrobial agents. A holistic approach is therefore needed, involving not only public awareness policies, but also the development of new techniques enabling the risks resulting from this to public health to be combated, as well as the adoption by the supervisory authorities of a policy of active surveillance. I voted for the motion for a resolution because it addresses these issues.
Frédérique Ries (ALDE), in writing. – (FR) On 8 June 1999, the Council adopted a resolution on antimicrobial resistance. This is a major public health issue, which causes 25 000 deaths a year. Twelve years later, the problem remains unresolved and is still a concern for the European institutions; today this has led Parliament to adopt a resolution stressing the need to be vigilant in the face of the proliferation of bacteria resistant to antibiotics, which can spread among humans through the consumption of contaminated food. I welcome the fact that the Members of the European Parliament have highlighted the link between the use of antibiotics in veterinary medicine and increased resistance in humans, which would naturally justify gradually phasing out the prophylactic use of antibiotics in the livestock farming sector. Obviously, therapeutic purposes should be given priority over prophylactic use during animal transportation, vaccination or stress.
That is the message delivered by the major microbiologists who held a conference in Chicago last September and who, faced with an explosion of resistant cases, for example in chickens sold for retail, have recommended restricting the use of antibiotics considered vital to human health, such as flouroquinolone and the latest generations of cephalosporins.
Robert Rochefort (ALDE), in writing. – (FR) Antimicrobial resistance in humans is increasing. This is due, on the one hand, to the excessive and/or inappropriate absorption of antibiotics during medical treatment and, on the other, the indirect absorption of such products through those ingested by livestock. This antimicrobial resistance is a major challenge for our health, since these antibiotics have less and less of a curative effect. This resolution calls for the intensification of research into new antimicrobial agents, the adoption of a legislative framework for action against antimicrobial resistance, and large-scale prevention policies in all the Member States to raise people’s awareness of the sensible and effective use of these agents by European citizens. These are points I support. I therefore welcome the adoption of this text in the plenary session of the European Parliament in Strasbourg.
Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. − In favour. The EP: 1. Notes with concern that antimicrobial resistance is an ever increasing threat to public health in Europe and worldwide, despite the actions taken at European and international level; 2. Calls for a further intensification of the fight against resistance to antimicrobial agents in human medicines, focusing on, in the following order of priority: – the prudent use of antimicrobial agents both for humans and for animals, ensuring that they are only used when effectively needed for actual treatment of disease, with the correct dosage, dose intervals and duration, – the monitoring and surveillance of antimicrobial resistance, – the need for research into, and the development of, new antimicrobial agents and alternatives, – links with measures to combat resistance to antimicrobial agents in veterinary medicines, animal feeding stuffs and crop-growing.
Oreste Rossi (EFD), in writing. – (IT) This report deals with a particularly sensitive topic, and that is the need to pay particular attention to the use of antibiotics. A medical prescription is needed to obtain antibiotics, but once a product, which normally contains more tablets than the user needs, has been obtained, the rest remain available.
Often, people use antibiotics inappropriately, and this kind of common usage is building up microbial resistance to them, rendering them useless in some cases and requiring a greater quantity to be used in others. We must therefore educate patients to use these drugs sensibly. They must be administered only where there is a genuine need; only the correct number of tablets must be sold and use must be as indicated on the prescription.
Claudiu Ciprian Tănăsescu (S&D), in writing. − (RO) I supported this proposal for a resolution because there is an urgent need in the EU for a legislative framework for action against antimicrobial resistance. In recent years, the misuse of antimicrobial medicines has increased the number and variety of resistant micro-organisms. We face the risk of some diseases becoming uncontrollable, and we must therefore act as quickly as possible to promote ‘responsible use’ initiatives and invest in the research and development of new antimicrobial agents and alternatives, but also give the necessary attention to livestock farming methods – another source of the development of human resistance to medicines.
Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. – (PT) Antimicrobial resistance is a growing public health threat in Europe and the rest of the world, in spite of the measures adopted at EU and international level. The fight against resistance to microbial agents in human medicine therefore needs to be intensified. Microbial agents can destroy or prevent the growth of bacteria, viruses and other micro-organisms, so they play a major role in improving public health and helping to reduce the number of deaths from previously incurable or fatal diseases and infections. However, their use has resulted in certain micro-organisms previously sensitive to these antimicrobial agents developing so-called ‘antimicrobial resistance’. The Commission should propose a legislative framework for this issue, promoting ‘responsible use’ initiatives and supporting the dissemination of, and information about, such initiatives. Only the prudent use of microbial agents, with greater monitoring and surveillance of antimicrobial resistance and encouragement of research into the development of alternatives can promote an approach that is able to address this problem.
Silvia-Adriana Ţicău (S&D), in writing. − (RO) I voted in favour of the resolution on antimicrobial resistance, a threat to public health, because this issue affects a growing number of people and involves high costs for public health-care systems. According to the 2009 report of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), over 25 000 patients die each year in the EU from an infection caused by bacteria resistant to many drugs.
I voted in favour of Amendment 1 because, although there are no clear links between the use of antibiotics for veterinary purposes and the development of resistance in humans, antimicrobial resistance affects both humans and animals and potentially can be transmitted in both directions. Additional efforts are therefore needed to improve agricultural practices so as to minimise the risks associated with the use of antibiotics for veterinary purposes and the development of resistance in humans.
I voted in favour of Amendments 2 and 3 because I do not consider that existing effective treatment options should be restricted, and I think that the use of so-called ‘last resort’ antibiotics targeting problematic human pathogens should be permitted in agriculture only under authorised circumstances and in combination with the monitoring of resistance, preferably on a case-by-case basis.
Oldřich Vlasák (ECR), in writing. - (CS) I supported the motion for a resolution on the public health threat of antimicrobial resistance. I did this because I firmly believe that we must end the regular prophylactic use of antibiotics in the husbandry and treatment of livestock. Instead of this it is desirable to use preventive measures such as proper hygiene, and the suitable housing and handling of animals. This is also the view of the World Health Organisation, which this year showed that the massive use of antibiotics in agriculture is contributing to greater antibiotic resistance.
Angelika Werthmann (NI), in writing. − (DE) Public health is increasingly threatened by resistance to antimicrobial agents. This motion for a resolution calls on the Commission immediately to establish a legal framework that will require a responsible attitude to the use of these agents and contribute to greater public awareness through information initiatives.
Furthermore, it demands a fully functional system of data input controls, so as to obtain reliable data in relation to the sensitivity to antimicrobial agents of pathogens that cause infection from which trend analyses can be obtained, allowing an early warning system to be established. After all, in recent years, there is evidence of a declining trend in research into new antimicrobial agents, despite the fact that the need to discover alternatives is particularly acute in the light of current developments.