Iva Zanicchi (PPE). – (IT) Madam President, managing projects in war zones such as Afghanistan cannot be directly compared with managing projects in developed countries or countries not affected by war, because aid is obviously hindered also by the fact that the situation is unstable in terms of security.
That said, we need to understand the reasons for the gaps highlighted in the management of projects and identify risk factors, in order to improve the situation as much as possible.
I share the rapporteur’s position in inviting the Commission to take greater care when evaluating the risks of fraud, corruption and non-compliance and efficiency for specific projects. Therefore there needs to be greater transparency and responsibility in the use of EU funds, and Member States and other donors need to be helped in order to avoid making common mistakes.
Elena Băsescu (PPE). – (RO) Madam President, I voted for this report because the support granted to Afghanistan must be maintained if we want the progress made in this country to be permanent. At a time when the international military presence is decreasing, the importance of civilian aid will increase even more.
The assistance provided by the EU must be subject to sufficient budgetary control. This does not only mean accounting concerns, but also the means to ensure that the best possible use is being made of the funds. With the same aim in mind, better coordination is needed among donors, including on the reporting and auditing side. I wish to point out Article 22, which sets out extremely useful proposals on this subject. I should also stress Romania’s commitment to the security and stabilisation efforts in Afghanistan, as is demonstrated by the involvement of nearly 2 000 troops in operations.
Kay Swinburne (ECR). - Madam President, the report on the budgetary control of EU financial assistance to Afghanistan makes many sound recommendations on how EU aid is managed.
One of the recommendations that has been made is to offer direct budgetary support, under rigorous conditions, to tackle current challenges in management, including corruption, poorly trained staff, unreliable data and a lack of full independence of local audit bodies. I support having a fully independent audit inspection body which would assist in giving oversight to the much-needed direct budgetary support in that country and the need for an annual report on aid to Afghanistan to be submitted to this Parliament.
In principle, this is a valuable initiative, which I can support.
Ashley Fox (ECR). - Madam President, we have today voted to spend another EUR 500 million of taxpayers’ money by mobilising the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund. I just wonder: do we get good value for that money? Does anyone check to see how many jobs are created or do we in fact just vote for this expenditure to give ourselves a warm feeling that we can somehow resist the process of job losses in Europe?
Perhaps we should take more practical steps to preventing job losses in Europe by making our economy more competitive. This is at a time when the nation states’ finances are under enormous pressure. The EUR 500 million that we voted to spend could have been returned to the Member States. I would suggest that would have been a much better use of the money.
Kay Swinburne (ECR). - Madam President, I voted against the report on the mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund as I do not believe that the EU funds should be used for this purpose.
This is a Member State responsibility. I am fundamentally opposed to the use of any of these funds in assisting as this is essentially a long-term problem being addressed by a short-term fix.
It is the EU’s Social Fund which should be used to assist these types of requests. I believe that some of the funds in the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund should therefore be returned at this time to national governments who could better utilise them in terms of supporting innovation in particular, as well as research programmes, in order to help create jobs and stimulate the economy locally across each and every Member State.
Daniel Hannan (ECR). - Madam President, we have just voted through GBP 500 million to support a car firm in France. One might say that is a little glitch, a little twitch or knob in the single market – though at GBP 500 million it seems quite a big one – but the single market has always had these imbalances, these national peculiarities.
It has always operated on the basis that some states have essential national interests. You cannot easily reform the common fisheries policy without this receiving a Spanish veto, or the common agricultural policy without a French veto. Germany has particular interests in its heavy industries and, of course, my own country has an interest in the financial services sector.
The difference is, however, that our interest is in preserving the single market, and not in having some protectionist exemption. It was extraordinary to hear in the debate yesterday that the UK was somehow turning its back on the single market when all it was asking for was a guarantee that the single market would apply evenly to financial services and would not be applied asymmetrically, to the detriment of the main financial services sector in Europe.
It is not the UK that has abandoned the free market principles which the Treaty of Rome enshrined, but rather the Member States which are pursuing this new union. This makes the UK’s departure, I am afraid, more or less inevitable.
Nicole Sinclaire (NI). - Madam President, I have grave concerns about the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) and I voted against this report.
I have looked at the history of this report and noticed that the French car firms in particular, both Renault and Peugeot, as well as Dutch companies and German companies are great recipients of this for people they have made redundant.
I am minded of my own constituents in Coventry, the Peugeot Ryton plant, where over 2 000 people were made redundant in 2007 without receiving any assistance or training whatsover. Indeed the Labour government or the current Conservative-led government in the UK has made no claims or put anything into retraining these people or other people whatsoever.
There was also this week an EGF in favour of the Südtirol region of Italy, where the Member here, Mr Dorfmann, says that unemployment is just 3%. Yet we gave EUR 3.9 million to that project. Why? Why are we not training people where we do have serious unemployment but just throwing money away to a region where unemployment is only 3%?
Syed Kamall (ECR). - Madam President, it is wonderful to see you in the chair. Hopefully we will see much more of you in the next term.
Can I just say at this stage that that there are many opportunities afforded by globalisation. It allows companies to take advantage of global supply chains, many of which are in poorer and developing countries, and it allows us, using market conditions, to take many millions of people out of poverty.
Unfortunately, the downside of globalisation is that there are companies which refuse or fail to take advantage of these opportunities. What they do is seek to protect their positions even though market conditions have changed.
Unfortunately, all that the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund does is to encourage this inertia – not adapting to market conditions, not taking advantage of global supply chains and asking for more taxpayers’ money when that money would be better returned to Member States to be invested in sustainable jobs. It is time we ended the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund and returned the money to Member States.
Peter Jahr (PPE). – (DE) Madam President, encouraging and demanding transparency in the documents of the European institutions is a key way to involve our citizens in our policy-making. Transparency engenders trust and understanding. Both are vital to successful cooperation between our citizens and their politicians. That is why I am in favour of making it easier for our citizens to access documents.
I was unable to support Mr Cashman’s report, however, because certain restrictions need to be observed. For example, not every session of the European institutions can be made public, as this would hamper decision-making. There are situations in which discussions and deliberations take place before important decisions are made. Sometimes the matter for discussion itself is subject to confidentiality in the public interest.
Transparency and data protection are always in conflict. This report pays too much attention to transparency and not enough to data protection. For this reason I was, unfortunately, unable to vote in favour of this report.
Kay Swinburne (ECR). - Madam President, the report on public access to European Parliament, Council and Commission documents fully appreciates the need for greater transparency and access to institutional documents.
I have therefore supported this report as it extends the definition of what a document is to cover written and electronic material, and to include all sound, visual and audiovisual recordings. It also acknowledges the necessity of having the appropriate safeguards to exempt documents such as those relating to public security and intellectual property rights, which gives the option for refusal in exceptional circumstances as long as this is justified.
I welcome a transparent EU and I hope that all EU institutions, including the European Central Bank, will now publish their minutes in a full and timely way.
Syed Kamall (ECR). - Madam President, most politicians across the political spectrum on the whole understand that it is important that the citizens who vote for us have access to documents from the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission.
I would hope that we could extend that transparency, at times, to other elements of our decision-making process. While I understand there are times when we might be involved in delicate negotiations at which we might not want to reveal our negotiating positions, surely we should also be pushing for transparency at some of our meetings.
Can you imagine if the Council deliberations on the EU budget were in public? Then politicians could answer their electors as to why, at a time of austerity, when governments and councils are seeking to tighten their belts and control spending, they have asked for more taxpayers’ money to be spent at EU level. Let them justify their decisions to the public.
Giommaria Uggias (ALDE). – (IT) Madam President, I voted for the report by Mr Fleckenstein because I am fully convinced that an Agency as important as the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) must have a regulation that specifies clear, precise duties, and highlights the effective division of tasks between EMSA, the European Commission and the Member States.
All too often we are witness to accidents that pollute our seas, which are under constant threat also from the rise in the transport of dangerous goods and materials by sea, often in maritime areas protected by special rules due to their naturalistic importance, such as the Bocche di Bonifacio.
In this regard, I particularly appreciated the rapporteur’s focus on development of the CleanSeaNet service and the SaveSeaNet network. The text was very balanced despite being multi-faceted, recognising the need to define EMSA’s tasks also by taking on more staff, without putting too much pressure on the budget, and underlining the importance of innovative tools such as the Global Monitoring for Environment and Security programme (GMES), while also launching a positive message on support in the sector for gender equality policies.
Elena Băsescu (PPE). – (RO) Madam President, I voted for this report because I welcome the amendment to Regulation (EC) No 1406/2012 as presented by my colleague. A new financial framework is required, as well as a clearer assignment of competences to ensure that the European Maritime Safety Agency operates as effectively as possible. I think that it must promote cooperation between specialist border police departments not only in Member States but in third countries too. I should mention at this point the series of naval exercises carried out by the Romanian border police jointly with the Turkish coastguard in September 2011. This helps strengthen cooperation between the countries located in the Black Sea basin and reduces the intervention time in the event of maritime incidents.
I support cooperation between specialist training institutions with the aim of exchanging experiences and good practices. For example, the ‘Mircea cel Bătrân’ Naval Academy is involved in the Erasmus programme.
Radvilė Morkūnaitė-Mikulėnienė (PPE). – (LT) Madam President, the regulation adopted today is not the first document of this part-session to deal with the protection of the EU’s water bodies. The European Maritime Safety Agency has already done a particularly important job in protecting the seas. However, the painful lessons of the Gulf of Mexico show that we must take stronger action in the European Union. The EMSA has so far carried out monitoring of maritime transport, but this regulation will require its monitoring function to be expanded.
I was the shadow rapporteur for this document from the Committee on the Environment and I am particularly pleased that, from now on, the EMSA will monitor not just pollution from ships but also from oil and gas installations and transport facilities.
It is also very important that the Agency should have a certain influence on and be able to cooperate with the European Commission when carrying out checks in third countries, i.e. those countries which share a sea with the European Union, and I hope that effective monitoring will enable effective prevention of and an effective response to potential disasters to be ensured.
It is also very important that the Agency should have a certain influence on and be able to cooperate with the European Commission when carrying out checks in third countries, that is, those countries which share a sea with the European Union, and I hope that effective monitoring will enable effective prevention of and an effective response to potential disasters to be ensured.
Kay Swinburne (ECR). - Madam President, the European Maritime Safety Agency was set up in the wake of the spillage from the oil tanker Erika, and its primary role should be to focus on maintaining maritime safety. An additional role which I support is supporting Member State action to combat piracy. A system for reducing administrative barriers is also an acceptable use of that Agency.
However, I cannot support the widening focus of its role to inland navigation and recruitment of seafarers. Moreover, I believe the suggestion of it having an anti-pollution role is too controversial and thus cannot be supported. In particular, in my Member State, the UK, we have reservations regarding the extension of the Agency’s role in the analysis of the safety of mobile offshore oil and gas installations. I firmly believe that the Maritime Safety Agency should not have competence in this area and that this is completely unnecessary, given that the UK’s North Sea oil field already has high offshore exploration safety standards in place.
Mitro Repo (S&D). - (FI) Madam President, 5 000 people have already died. How long does the international community intend to stand by while people are being killed in Syria by the government there?
For once, the European Union and its Member States deserve some credit. Europe has spoken and acted consistently, imposed and tightened sanctions, and made efforts to implement UN sanctions. The EU and the European Parliament have already said that President Bashar al-Assad must go. Syria is becoming a symbol of double standards and non-intervention in diplomacy and international politics. In the context of high-level politics, the ordinary person is ignored and left by the wayside.
Here in Parliament yesterday, the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought was awarded to five activists. They all had a decisive role to play in the wave of uprisings in the Arab Spring in North Africa. There is support for democracy, freedom and human rights on both sides of the Mediterranean Sea. Europe must be involved in supporting the Syrian people in their pursuit of freedom, democracy and a decent existence.
Elena Băsescu (PPE). – (RO) Madam President, I voted for this resolution because the brutal repression against ordinary citizens is continuing in Syria. In recent months, the regime has already created more than 5 000 victims, according to UN estimates. We cannot idly watch this situation. The international community needs to take a stance, and it is the European Union’s duty to step up the measures to make Syria’s leaders halt the violence.
I welcome the EU decisions on the new restrictions being imposed on Syria, and I hope that they will achieve the anticipated result. With this in mind, it is important for the specific details to be defined as soon as possible so that the new sanctions can be implemented. I should stress how important it is to assess continually which measures are more effective. I welcome the positive role played by Turkey in terms of its response to the Syrian crisis, including its efforts to respond to humanitarian emergencies.
Draft scoreboard for the surveillance of macroeconomic imbalances: (B7-0690/2011)
Elena Băsescu (PPE). – (RO) Madam President, I voted for this resolution because the European Union needs a sound framework for preventing and adjusting macroeconomic imbalances. The scoreboard’s economic, financial and structural indicators will help identify the Member States which may be affected by such situations. Alert thresholds are set for each indicator. However, it is important that they are supplemented with a specific economic analysis for each country.
I should highlight the in-depth assessment. This should include a rigorous evaluation of the sources of the imbalances. However, the speed and transparency of the analysis are vital. When serious macroeconomic imbalances are identified, monitoring needs to be stepped up. I support the inclusion of the economic imbalance surveillance procedure in future European Semesters.
Kay Swinburne (ECR). - Madam President, this draft scoreboard for surveillance of macroeconomic imbalances is unnecessary and a waste of this Parliament’s time.
We spent over a year in this Parliament working with the Council of Ministers to get an economic governance ‘six-pack’ of legislation through earlier this year and that ‘six-pack’ of legislation gave the Commission responsibility for devising a scoreboard to detail what were macroeconomic imbalances and what needed to be monitored. That was one year in the making. Therefore we do not need any more layers of complexity in this system.
Last Friday’s summit, if it taught us anything, taught us that we need solid measures to combat the eurozone debt crisis. We need to implement what we have already decided and not devise new procedures at this time of crisis. I cannot support any more interference by Parliament. Let us allow the Commission to get on with their job of devising that scoreboard.
Daniel Hannan (ECR). - Madam President, just before the vote, a PPE friend of mine said there was nothing so annoying as people being wise after the event. I responded that we were in fact being wise during the event and had been wise before the event.
What is happening now in the eurozone was not just predictable, it was widely predicted. It had all the inevitability (to choose an apposite parallel) of a Greek tragedy.
We had the hubris of the early days when everybody pretended that Greek and German debt were interchangeable, when a productivity gap of 30% opened up and when the markets did not intervene to impose a correction of their own. Now we are having the nemesis, but we will not have the catharsis until Greece and the other stricken countries are able to print their own currencies, price their way back into the market and start exporting their way to growth again.
One is never popular saying, ‘I told you so’. Nonetheless it does seem a bit unreasonable, if the other Member States are prepared to pay all these extraordinary prices or at least inflict these prices on their peoples, to send us the bill. It is not our problem. We kept the pound.
Giommaria Uggias (ALDE). – (IT) Madam President, I voted in favour of the report by Mr Grosch on a Single European Transport Area, and would like to thank him for his work.
I would particularly like to thank him for the welcome references to the new guidelines on the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T), which will animate the future legal debate, and for recognising the value of innovative instruments such as Galileo, the European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service (EGNOS) and Global Monitoring for Environment and Safety (GMES.)
However, I am sorry that some aspects of fundamental importance in creation of a real Single European Transport Area were not adequately explored. More specifically, the insular nature of many European countries has not been investigated in sufficient detail, particularly with regard to the regulations that apply to them in terms of their obligations to provide public transport, which are currently muddled and difficult to describe as far as the various modes of transport are concerned.
Lastly, I found the text did not sufficiently cover the issue of transporting hazardous goods, which needs to be properly dealt with and regulated, both in order to avoid terrible accidents, and in order to manage accidents once they have happened, including in terms of the liability of the entities involved, institutions or otherwise.
Elena Băsescu (PPE). – (RO) Madam President, I voted for this report because the European Union needs a competitive, efficient and integrated transport system. I welcome the proposal from the Commission to create a unified transport network. It will help complete the internal market in this sector. I should point out that, at EU level, the transport sector provides roughly 10 million jobs, accounting for around 5% of GDP. The disparities need to be reduced between the EU’s eastern and western regions in terms of infrastructure development level. Stable funding must be provided for projects.
I should highlight the importance of developing the transport networks in the new Member States. In my country, the Transylvania motorway project, worth EUR 2.2 billion, will establish a link between the markets of Europe and Central Asia.
Peter Jahr (PPE). – (DE) Madam President, in comparison with 2005 levels, freight transport will rise by 40% by 2030, while passenger transport will increase by 34%. This explains the need to combine different modes of cross-border transport in an efficient way in order to meet the requirements for safe, sustainable and environmentally-friendly transport. It is particularly necessary to extend Trans-European Transport Networks. Seventy-five per cent of transport is by road. Measured against gross domestic product, the transport sector accounts for 10% of the prosperity of the European Union and creates over 10 million jobs.
Although a lot has improved, European infrastructure is still suffering from the after-effects of the Iron Curtain, and it is vital that the transport connections from East to West and from North to South should be significantly improved. Investment in infrastructure is crucial in order to generate economic growth into the future. That is why I have voted in favour of the motion and I am looking forward to the amendments that will now be produced. You have my thanks for this.
Kay Swinburne (ECR). - Madam President, as a resolution on a Single European Transport Area, this report calls for the Commission to put forward proposals on social and working conditions to facilitate the creation of a fully-integrated European transport market for workers. This is something that I cannot support. The report is far too ambitious, and unrealistic targets have been set for reducing the number of road deaths and reducing CO2 emissions from road transport and shipping.
It suggests that the Commission should also develop safe infrastructure for pedestrians and cyclists in towns and work towards doubling the number of users of public transport. The resolution clearly does not respect the principle of subsidiarity, and I feel it would generate more unnecessary bureaucratic legislation for Member States. Even Wales has devolved transport systems. I cannot see how this could work in the UK, let alone across Europe.
Mitro Repo (S&D). - (FI) Madam President, I voted in favour of this resolution. There is every reason to be very worried about the situation in Uzbekistan with respect to human rights, democratisation and the rule of law. There is systematic use of forced labour in the textile industry there, involving children in particular. It has been completely impossible to monitor the health, working conditions and age of children and students, and the punishments they receive for disobedience, because Uzbekistan forbids foreign inspectors and human rights representatives to come into the country.
Uzbekistan’s actions violate international human rights obligations and the rules of the International Labour Organisation. Fortunately, retailers of textile products in Europe have now decided to stop buying cotton from Uzbekistan. That is an indication of the ethics and morals of European businesses.
However, on its own, this is still not enough. Parliament should not approve any trade agreement until the Uzbek authorities have allowed ILO observers into the country. It also needs to be confirmed that the country has implemented reforms and achieved notable results regarding the complete end to the use of forced labour and child labour, at national, regional and local level.
Kay Swinburne (ECR). - Madam President, given that Uzbekistan is the fifth largest producer of cotton and the third biggest exporter of cotton worldwide, I welcome the report on establishing an EC-Uzbekistan Partnership and Cooperation Agreement taking in bilateral trade in textiles. Crucially the report takes into account the concerns of the EU Presidency, UNICEF and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) with respect to the alleged use of forced child labour in the Uzbek textile industry.
It also quite appropriately requests the Commission to conduct a feasibility study on an effective traceability mechanism for goods produced, which would go some way to address the issue of forced child labour. The proposed agreement would also give Uzbek cotton the most-favoured-nation status thus allowing trade with the EU which is free from quantitative restrictions, which can only be good for the long-term development of Uzbekistan.
Finally the report quite rightly calls for an ILO investigation into the alleged forced child labour breaches. Such an investigation should happen without delay. If we take action here and organise this, we should be able to make this trade much better and safer for all involved.
Daniel Hannan (ECR). - Madam President, it is nice to see you in the chair and I hope, like other colleagues, to see a bit more of you.
It is difficult to think of a more textbook case of a repressive regime than that in Uzbekistan. That beautiful country with the ancient cities of the Silk Road is being treated more or less as the personal property of the president’s family and of some of their cronies. There is an almost Caligulan tyranny there, and a regime which is involved in drug running and repression – two opponents of the regime were boiled to death while in prison.
And yet the West has tended to hold back from criticism because in the uncertain days immediately after 9/11 the Karimov dictatorship had the wit to declare itself an ally in the war on terror and to make its bases available for use in the Afghan campaign.
This is the error we make again and again in Muslim countries. We made it with the Shah in Iran, we made it in Egypt and we are making it in Saudi Arabia. There is no, or very little, fundamentalism in Uzbekistan. A traveller there does not see beards, does not perceive headscarves and does not hear the call to prayer. However, if we define every opponent of the Karimov tyranny as a fundamentalist, we will eventually make that prediction come true and we will create the very thing we purport to fear.
Freedom of movement for workers within the European Union: (B7-0730/2011)
Peter Jahr (PPE). – (DE) Madam President, I must admit that I have very ambivalent feelings about this report. On the one hand, I am, of course, in favour of free movement for people and workers within the European Union. On the other hand, we should always be watchful for the negative consequences of this process because nothing will be achieved by these people simply migrating from one social system to another. That is why there is just one thing I would like to see: namely that we should pay due attention to this process – which I would again emphasise we all support – so that we do not overlook its negative effects, but rather make simple adjustments as and when necessary. After all, there is no disputing the fact that the European Union can only develop successfully if its people enjoy free movement, if they can seek work in other regions and if they can contribute to economic prosperity.
Martin Kastler (PPE). – (DE) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, let me preface my remarks by saying that I am also greatly in favour of freedom of movement and I believe that it is a really important achievement for the European Union that we can move around this single market freely in the service sectors, indeed in all sectors. However, there is also a principle that applies not just within the European Union, but also under the rule of law, namely: pacta sunt servanda – treaties are to be honoured. According to the Treaty, a clause applies to the free movement of workers, setting down a period of three years, plus two years, plus two years. Accordingly, I was unable to support this resolution today, as it is just a symbol of a willingness to alter treaties while they are still in force. In my opinion, it should be up to the Member States themselves to decide. This is what it says in the Treaties. That was correct. Nonetheless, when the Treaties lapse and all restrictions run out, there will be no wave of mass migration to the old Member States from the other Member States. I am absolutely convinced that it is by working together that we will achieve progress in the European Union and that no more barriers should be imposed.
Norica Nicolai, on behalf of the ALDE Group. – (RO) Madam President, I chose to explain how I voted because, as rapporteur for this report, I abstained from voting on it. I realise that there are people in this Parliament who avoid debates on a report that does not say anything or does not say a great deal, which is the case with this strategy on Central Asia. Although the European Union adopted a strategy in 2007 and this Parliament has two resolutions, the report does not actually assess the way in which this strategy has been applied. It is a litany of problems, expressed in terribly stilted language, which very clearly proves that no one is even familiar with the situation in the area. It mentions a security situation, ignoring that there are also neutral countries in the region. Nothing is known about these countries’ involvement in the situation of the conflict in Afghanistan.
However, in addition to this, this report sets out a certain type of thinking which, as I see it, is damaging to this Parliament. It gives guidelines and attempts to export economic and cultural models to a region which is totally different, thereby continuing to abandon this region to the sphere of influence and interest of Russia, which wants to recreate a former Soviet Union. I believe that there is no place for this superficial type of approach, characterised by a lack of information and preconceptions, at least in our relations with Central Asia.
I believe that Central Asia may become a priority and is a priority for many Member States. The fact that we are setting the human rights situation as a condition on signing a number of agreements in the region is a must, but setting this condition must go beyond just fine statements. It must be followed up by our involvement in this area, by an attempt to export our models and good European practice, and backed up by cooperation with these countries in the education sector.
Paul Murphy (GUE/NGL). - Madam President, thousands of oil workers in the Mangystau region of West Kazakhstan have been on strike now for over six months. They are fighting for better working conditions; they are fighting for an increase in pay due to the very harsh conditions they experience – which I saw for myself; they are fighting for the right to have independent trade unions; and they are calling for nationalisation, under workers’ control, of all enterprises in the oil extraction sector.
The Kazakhstan Government and the oil giant Kazmunaigaz have completely ignored the just demands of these workers and have effectively refused to engage in meaningful negotiations. Instead, the workers have been met with very severe and brutal repression. One trade unionist has been murdered; another worker’s daughter has been killed and their lawyer has been jailed for six years. Violence continues against these workers. Another strike activist returned to his home on 30 November to find his whole house and his car had been smashed up, and the police refused even to take a statement from him.
I spoke to a group of workers last week who have launched an international appeal for the trade union movement to show solidarity with their struggle and have also called on the international leaders of the trade union movement to support the struggle of the workers to break the links with the leadership of the so-called Confederation of Free Trade Unions of Kazakhstan, which is completely pro-employer and pro-government. Tomorrow there will be major demonstrations in Kazakhstan and internationally in support of these workers. I will be standing alongside them in solidarity.
Elena Băsescu (PPE). – (RO) Madam President, I voted for this report because it attempts to highlight the importance of strategic relations with Central Asia. The potential they offer has not been fully tapped at EU level, including from an economic and commercial perspective. Cooperation with the European Union means for the countries in this region access to a huge outlet market, an alternative export destination and new opportunities for technological and industrial development.
From an EU perspective, economic relations offer opportunities for diversifying our supply sources for energy and raw materials. Efforts need to be stepped up to implement Nabucco. At the same time, I should mention the importance of launching other projects aimed at interconnecting energy and transport networks. For example, Romania has proposed for Kazakhstan to participate in the AGRI project for transporting gas, as well as getting involved in the Constanţa-Trieste pipeline project.
Kay Swinburne (ECR). - Madam President, Central Asia is strategically important to Europe, and the development of an EU strategy for Central Asia back in 2007 cemented the EU’s acknowledgement of this. A lot of progress has been made since its implementation, with initiatives and programmes aimed at supporting good governance, the rule of law, economic development, trade and investment to name but a few.
However, we are currently operating in a starkly different economic climate compared to that of 2007 and so it is only appropriate that the EU strategy for Central Asia be reviewed and updated accordingly. The main focus of this report is for the EU to strengthen its engagement with Central Asia, particularly with respect to human security and better regional cooperation. It is for these reasons that I have voted for this report.
Mitro Repo (S&D). - (FI) Madam President, I have just voted in favour of the report on health and safety at work. The economic crisis has led Member States to seek new ways to increase labour productivity. One way to do this, and to prolong the working lives of employees, is to invest properly in health and safety at work. Increased labour productivity and longer working lives, however, will both be impossible to achieve unless we take into consideration the human needs of employees. Well-being at work and labour productivity always go hand in hand.
Fortunately, there is already a realisation in many organisations that people’s heightened state of good physical and mental well-being reduces costs. There are fewer absences through illness and pension costs are lowered. This is also a matter, therefore, of economic realities. Without healthy employees, we have no healthy companies nor any hope of succeeding in global markets. For that reason, I strongly support this report.
Elena Băsescu (PPE). – (RO) Madam President, I voted for this report because we need to adapt the acquis communautaire for occupational health and safety to the new risks in this area. For example, long-term solutions are required for reducing psycho-social risks. Austerity measures during the economic crisis must not affect the level of safety at the workplace. I must say that employees in SMEs are most often vulnerable to occupational risks. SMEs account for 82% of all work-related accidents and 90% of all fatal accidents.
A European programme must be developed to monitor occupational risks. I support the idea of devising unique methods for evaluating the impact in the area of occupational health and safety. At the same time, national strategies must be applied effectively, with the participation of workers and social agencies.
Kay Swinburne (ECR). - Madam President, I have major reservations about this report on health and safety at work, which calls for a European strategy to be developed which will allow for new risks, such as psycho-social risks, and also to include all workers, no matter what their function, in prevention policies. It calls for more legislation in the area of health and safety and for something which is perfectly acceptable – more corporate social responsibility.
All Member States should have appropriate health and safety regimes but, just as in my own country, the UK, we are already buried under the often unnecessary red tape this involves. Common sense, not legislation, now needs to be applied. The proposals made in this report would inevitably increase the administrative burden on small and medium-sized enterprises, which is something that I cannot support. Many SMEs are fighting for survival in the current economically turbulent times. We should be proposing measures that would assist their businesses rather than hinder and bury them in red tape.
Martin Kastler (PPE). – (DE) Madam President, I was happy to vote in favour of the report on the mid-term review of the strategy of the European Union for occupational health and safety today. I would like to emphasise three points that I consider particularly important. The first is paragraph 82, which we approved today. I would have preferred it if we had given an even clearer signal in regard to work-life balance, everything relating to occupational health and how we regulate work, the rhythm we provide workers with, including, above all, the protection of Sundays as a day of rest. I myself have launched an initiative in this regard and I believe we can all play our part in supporting March 3 next year as a Europe-wide day for Sunday as a day of rest.
I also believe paragraph 16 is particularly important. After all, burnout is one of the illnesses that generates the highest costs in Europe. We urgently need a burnout strategy, and next year the European Commission is to publish a relevant study, as well as holding out the prospect of a Green Paper. This is something we urgently need to discuss in Europe.
Finally, as the rapporteur for the European Year for Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations 2012, I would like to make the following call: let us work together in Europe to ensure we respect everyone, both workers and employers alike, in health, vitality and dignity.
Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. – (PT) I am voting for this report because there is a need to maintain assistance to Afghanistan. However, more efficient control of its implementation should be ensured, although I am fully aware of the problems with carrying this out in a conflict zone. There is a need for such inspections, as well as for better allocation of funds, which should be sectoral, paying greater attention to the specific reasons justifying the use of all aid. Oversight of the use of funds is extremely important, especially when we consider that many Taliban movements are often financed using official channels.
Laima Liucija Andrikienė (PPE), in writing. – I voted in favour of the resolution on budgetary control of EU financial assistance to Afghanistan which points out that currently no direct budget support is granted to this country. I agree with the rapporteur that budget support remains the most appropriate channel to foster capacity building and, therefore, the Commission should be invited to consider sectoral budget support, where appropriate, with rigorous and well-defined conditions. We, Members of the European Parliament, call on the Commission to insist on the establishment of full financial and operational independence of the Control and Audit Office of Afghanistan. Moreover, the EP also urges the Commission to further strengthen coordination with Member States and the donor community in general. I want to stress that the own-initiative report of 15 January 2009 on the control of EU funds in Afghanistan had already asked the Commission to provide a comprehensive annual report including shortcomings identified and measures taken to remedy these shortcomings. Regrettably, until now the Commission has not prepared such a report, therefore, we, Members of the European Parliament, strongly urged the Commission – once more – to implement the recommendation.
Pino Arlacchi (S&D), in writing. – I strongly support this text because, as my report on a new strategy for Afghanistan denounced one year ago, it clearly underlines that the current arrangements for managing EU funds in Afghanistan are inadequate. Afghanistan is amongst the recipient countries receiving the most civilian aid from the EU general budget. In the period 2002-2010 the combined EU (European Community and Member States) budget for aid to Afghanistan totalled around EUR 8 billion, but a significant proportion of the EU aid was lost along the distribution chain. The main reasons for this are: waste, excessive use of intermediaries, security costs, overbilling and corruption. I strongly believe that the EU must ensure transparency and accountability in relation to the financial assistance provided to the Afghan Government, international organisations and local NGOs, in order to ensure the coherence of aid and the success of Afghanistan’s reconstruction and development.
Corina Creţu (S&D), in writing. – (RO) I applaud the job done by the rapporteurs who have presented the benefits and drawbacks of the various channels used to provide aid to Afghanistan. I welcome the firm tone they use to request greater transparency from the European Commission about the agreements signed with the Afghans in order to check how effectively the funds are being used. There is discontent about the way in which the funds are used, relating to the high level of corruption within the Afghan administration. This is why the recommendations made in the report are important, and the European Commission will have to take them into account. It is a well-drafted, professional report, which I voted for.
Anne Delvaux (PPE), in writing. – (FR) I voted in favour of this report because it points out that, at present, no direct budget support is granted to Afghanistan. However, it states that budget support is the best instrument to foster capacity building and, therefore, the Commission should be invited to consider sectoral budget support, where appropriate, with rigorous and well-defined conditions. The report also calls on the Commission to remedy identified shortcomings and commits it to insist on the establishment of the full financial and operational independence of the Control and Audit Office of Afghanistan. The report also raises the issue of greater accountability for the EU funds channelled through UN Agencies in Afghanistan.
Tamás Deutsch (PPE), in writing. – (HU) The European Union also provides financial support for countries outside the EU. The Committee on Budgetary Control has drawn up an own-initiative report on the financial review of the EU assistance provided to Afghanistan. It is also the task of the European Parliament to carry out financial reviews of the use of resources outside of the EU borders The report primarily calls on the European Commission to implement the recommendations made by the Court of Auditors of the European Union, and urges the quick and effective handling of the current problems. The measures formulated by the rapporteur should be supported, since monitoring the use of the EU budget – both within and outside the EU borders – is in the interest of every European citizen, and it is, therefore, the duty of the European Parliament.
Edite Estrela (S&D), in writing. – (PT) I voted for the report because its objective is to promote greater oversight and accountability in the use of EU funds in Afghanistan. Fraud and corruption have become established in the country and are affecting the local government, so it is important to ensure that assistance from the Member States will achieve the objectives for which it is intended.
Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. – (PT) Historically, Afghanistan is a country in which violence and instability have been ever present. The fall of the pro-Soviet Najibullah regime at the hands of Islamist guerrillas and the brutality of the Taliban regime that followed mired the country in a conflict from which it seems incapable of freeing itself, despite the efforts of the international community – the United States in particular – to that end.
The news reaching us on the progress in the struggle against terrorism and on the capacity of the Karzai government to ensure security, freedom and the rule of law in Afghan territory is not the most encouraging. Abandoning Afghanistan to its fate jeopardises the security, not just of its neighbouring states, but also of a significant proportion of the international community. I believe that the European Union should seek to help Afghanistan in whatever ways it considers appropriate, should do so in such a way that assistance reaches those that need it most, and should have full access to the information of the international bodies through which it channels part of said assistance.
José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. – (PT) The civil war that has been slaughtering the Afghan people led the international community to intervene diplomatically and militarily in Afghanistan, so as to guarantee the security of the population. Indeed, there has been no letup in the terrorism of the Taliban rebels, as the attacks on, inter alia, NATO headquarters and the US embassy show. Despite the efforts of the Afghan Government to put a stop to terrorism, the reality is that offensives by the Taliban rebels continue. The objective is for Afghan troops to take control of the situation and be able to replace the foreign troops. Until then, the EU, which supports more than 50% of Afghanistan’s foreign aid, will need to continue to have a budgetary appropriation available, not just to cover personnel costs, but also to fund all the projects that it has underway in this country. As such, the EU should continue to help the Afghan Government overcome this tragic situation and establish a fully democratic state; in other words, one with respect for minorities, for gender equality and for the values enshrined in the International Bill of Human Rights. I am therefore voting for this report on budgetary control of EU financial assistance to Afghanistan.
João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (PT) We would highlight the rapporteur’s criticisms of oversight and accountability relating to the management of funds allocated by the EU. The report proposes measures intended to improve this situation, such as diversifying aid ‘in order to address individual needs through the appropriate funding channel’ and ‘introducing direct budget support in Afghanistan’; also that ‘civil society and parliamentarians must be involved throughout every stage of implementation, monitoring and the evaluation of results’ and that measures should be taken to combat corruption.
The fundamental issue is that this report does not, as it should have done, condemn the occupation of Afghanistan. The rapporteur even mentions ‘that a withdrawal of troops could have a negative effect on the economy of Afghanistan’. We would reemphasise our opposition to the military occupation of Afghanistan. We argue that the only path to peace in that region will necessarily involve the immediate withdrawal of all occupying troops, and respect for Afghanistan’s independence and sovereignty.
Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D), in writing. – (SK) In Parliament’s resolution of 16 December 2010 on a new strategy for Afghanistan, a number of important issues were identified in relation to the budgetary control of EU financial aid for Afghanistan. This country is amongst the recipient countries receiving the most civilian aid from the EU general budget. It is of great concern that a large proportion of international aid goes astray in the distribution chain, in particular through waste, excessive intermediary and security costs, overbilling and corruption. It is therefore necessary for the Commission to supervise and monitor the cost and effectiveness of all EU aid to Afghanistan, with a view to ensuring that it is used more efficiently. The overall objective of EU development assistance to Afghanistan should be to assist in the long-term sustainable development of the country, including the improvement of socio-economic standards, facilitating job creation and the proliferation of small and medium-sized enterprises, strengthening the education sector and ensuring gender equality. Such aid should further facilitate capacity-building in public administration, strengthen the rule of law and reduce corruption, thus facilitating the transfer of responsibility for security to the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. I believe that there is an urgent need to increase the efficiency of aid, as many development indicators still show no significant improvement, and corruption and the long distribution chain of international aid remain the principal obstacles to the provision of essential services to the people.
Mikael Gustafsson (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (SV) I voted in favour of the report. However, I would like to make the following important remarks:
1) I am opposed to the war in Afghanistan being waged by the United States and NATO. Peace can only be established if negotiations are held with the Taliban and other groups with a view to holding genuinely democratic elections and giving the Afghan people their full national right of self-determination.
2) I believe that the present government is extremely corrupt. Any EU assistance for the Afghan Government’s civilian development projects must therefore be limited and strictly controlled. The goal must be to develop successful measures to combat corruption so that a future, genuinely democratically elected and well-functioning government can be entrusted with a greater proportion of the assistance.
3) A number of effective and well-known international organisations and NGOs are carrying out successful development work in Afghanistan, often with the emphasis on health and education. In the current situation, they should be given priority when it comes to increasing the assistance available.
Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. – (LT) I welcomed this document because the European Commission has committed over EUR 2 billion and disbursed over EUR 1.8 billion in development and humanitarian aid to Afghanistan since 2002. Parliament has a supervisory role and therefore demands of the Commission that it introduce the following steps in a transparent way and make them publicly available: the agreements reached with the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan; the baseline, indicators, targets, calculation methods and verification sources to assess progress and to determine decisions to disburse performance-based and variable tranches of potential future budget support; clear and standardised reports which assess progress in an objective and transparent way on the basis of the criteria defined and, if necessary, the reasons why progress may not have been achieved as initially planned.
Philippe Juvin (PPE), in writing. – (FR) I voted in favour of the report on budgetary control of EU financial assistance to Afghanistan because it underlines the importance of budget support in fostering capacity building in the country. It also highlights the shortcomings identified by the audit reports of the European Court of Auditors and US auditors and calls on the European Commission to remedy them. It also calls for the introduction of common audit standards.
David Martin (S&D), in writing. – I voted for this report in which the rapporteur examined the audit reports both of the European Court of Auditors (ECA) and of US audit entities. These revealed significant shortcomings in the management of funds for Afghanistan. It is evident that project management in conflict-affected areas such as the one in Afghanistan cannot be directly compared with project management in developed countries or even developing countries not affected by conflicts. There is no doubt that oversight efforts are also hampered by the unstable security situation. At the same time, reliable information on weaknesses in project management and relevant risk factors need to be identified, in order to make improvements as far as possible.
Iosif Matula (PPE), in writing. – (RO) The European Union must respect its status not only as a partner of countries outside the European Union, but also as a guarantor of respect for human rights, the rule of law and all the instruments of democracy throughout the world. The European Union has assumed the responsibility of supporting Afghanistan in strengthening the rule of law. However, this obligation which has been assumed does not mean that there should be no control over the EU funds earmarked for the Afghan people. In light of this, the process of stabilisation and reconstruction in Afghanistan must continue to be supported. This support is needed, but must be accompanied by additional measures for controlling and coordinating expenditure, as a result of the complaints from the Court of Auditors of the European Union, which identified certain irregularities in the management of EU funds.
We must be prepared to give assistance to Afghanistan to ensure that regional and national institutions operate in an efficient, transparent manner. In this respect, we must support the strengthening of the role of the Afghan Parliament, its judicial system and audit authorities. Elected bodies at national and subnational level must be assisted and encouraged to monitor closely the use of EU funds.
Mario Mauro (PPE), in writing. – (IT) The European Union must continue to strongly support Afghanistan. The weaknesses with regard to democracy and corruption identified over the last few years need to be addressed as a matter of urgency. It is crucial to have a supreme audit institution which is financially and operationally fully independent of the executive branch and which has sufficient capacity and funding to carry out the financial audit. I voted in favour.
Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. – (PT) A transparent democracy needs a supreme audit institution which is financially and operationally fully independent of the executive branch. There is also a need to identify the risk factors involved with regard to corruption, fraud, project sustainability, cascades of sub-contractors and other sources of waste and misuse of funds. It is crucial to improve transparency and accountability in the use of EU funds.
Katarína Neveďalová (S&D), in writing. – (SK) Afghanistan is a country that was, and still is, mired in war and conflict. These conflicts continue to exact a high price on Afghanistan and its people. Wars on the territory of Afghanistan were a characteristic of this country almost throughout the whole of the twentieth century. The terrorist attacks in 2001 and the presence of terrorist organisations in Afghanistan have meant that, unfortunately, nothing much has changed even now. Therefore, I fully agree with my colleague, Mr Geier, who has proposed direct assistance to Afghanistan from the EU budget, which is currently lacking. I firmly believe that, with strict financial controls on such funding and with experience, whether it comes from EU Member States or from our US partners, we will be able to arrive at a solution that really will help Afghanistan. I think that the most important area, apart from the independence of the judiciary – as pinpointed by Mr Geier – is to improve the situation in the field of education. Only in this way will it be possible to achieve sustainable development and to resolve the situation in the long term.
Alfredo Pallone (PPE), in writing. – (IT) The report by Mr Geier for which I voted, aims to define the general parameters for budgetary control of EU funds for Afghanistan, their use, the positive and negative implications, and relations with other institutions such as the US agencies that manage the funds invested by the US and the UN. The continuous development of the Afghan political situation requires serious help from Europe in order to allow the country to be guided towards a true democracy of rights and duties and to grow. Controlling management of the funds is therefore crucial in order to put in place the specific projects necessary to achieve the target objectives.
Georgios Papanikolaou (PPE), in writing. – (EL) I voted in favour of the report, which sets out a comparative approach to practices applied in the EU and in the US to control EU financial assistance to Afghanistan. Funds are generally managed via NGOs, contractors working for profit and grants and direct financial assistance to the Afghan Government. However, as structures in Afghanistan cannot be compared with similar structures in developed countries, we must not overlook the fact that the Afghan audit office is not as yet independent of the executive in Afghanistan and, as a result, international auditing standards are not respected. At the same time, there is restricted freedom of access to internal audit reports, which calls the transparency of the procedures into question.
Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. – (PT) I voted for this report because I agree with the premises therein, particularly remaining committed to the sustainable, long-term development of Afghanistan, and to continuing to make available appropriate resources beyond 2014, when responsibility for security will be fully in the hands of the Afghan authorities and other donors may start cutting funds.
Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – In favour. Following the observations made by the rapporteur of the own-initiative report on a new strategy for Afghanistan, the Committee on Budgetary Control decided to further look into the way EU funds are controlled in Afghanistan. The approach taken by the rapporteur was to try to identify best practices by comparing the way the European Commission is managing the funds with the way funds are being handled by various US agencies. To this end, the rapporteur went on a fact-finding mission to Washington DC and New York City to meet representatives of the Special Inspector for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), the Inspector-General of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), USAID’s office of Afghanistan and Pakistan Affairs, the United States Department of State, the Government Accountability Office, the Congressional Research Service, the World Bank and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The rapporteur also held a meeting with the Afghan Control and Audit Office as well as with various representatives of NGOs involved in Afghanistan.
Sergio Paolo Francesco Silvestris (PPE), in writing. – (IT) Ten years have passed since operations against the Taliban first began in Afghanistan, and the global economic and political situation has changed a great deal since then. The United States have decided to progressively withdraw their troops from the country by the end of 2014, and then the economic and budgetary crisis of the European Member States is leading to cuts in military spending. For these reasons we need to identify best practice in relation to expenditure. A cause for concern remains the issue of coordination of the aid. Many reports as well as oral testimonies give evidence that international donors do not effectively coordinate their work. This results in redundancies and projects not aligned with the Afghan needs. This vote will give a bigger boost to coordination operations and analysis of relative needs.
Charles Tannock (ECR), in writing. – I voted for the Geier report on the budgetary control of EU financial assistance to Afghanistan. With a plethora of international originations operating in theatre complementing the NATO ISAF mission, it is essential that partners coordinate their efforts to avoid duplication and therefore the needless squandering of resources. Of particular relevance here is the relationship between the EU and UN agencies and the direct EU budgetary support for Afghanistan, where there is a serious risk of duplication. The seemingly ubiquitous problems of government corruption, tribal nepotism, the hazardous security situation for EU officials as targets of the Taliban and poorly trained Afghan officials must be addressed with renewed vigour, and monitored closely. Audit bodies administering financial aid must be transparent and accountable. My hope is that EU financial assistance will assist in the creation of robust institutions and democratic mechanisms within Afghanistan in order that, following the 2014 withdrawal of foreign troops, Kabul can maintain internal security and adequate counter-insurgency capabilities.
Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. – (PT) The purpose of this own-initiative report is to analyse how EU funds are controlled in Afghanistan in the context of the strategy for Afghanistan. As such, the rapporteur uses the method of comparing how EU funds and those of the various US agencies are managed, so as to understand the failures and shortcomings of EU funding management and, at the same time, identify best practices. As the report mentions, there is no single approach to which model of funding to use, as this depends in part on the objectives to be achieved. However, the report stresses that, in this case, the EU should directly fund Afghanistan’s budget at ministerial level, whilst increasing budgetary control so as to prevent fraud and corruption.
Finally, I would highlight the importance of increased cooperation between donor countries, so as to make funding more efficient and to coordinate information on problems with managing projects, with a view to improving assistance actions.
Angelika Werthmann (NI), in writing. – (DE) The EU Committee on Budgetary Control decided to investigate more closely the management of EU funds in Afghanistan. The result of this evaluation was that enormous discrepancies were uncovered. In a comparative analysis of the administration of financing by the EU and US, the rapporteur refers to the benefits of major leverage and effective coordination of aid under the ‘Common Administration with International Organisations’ financing form, while also pointing to the need for negotiations on accountability and transparency as disadvantages. This analysis concludes that “direct budgetary aid to the Afghan national budget” should be chosen as the future method of providing aid, something I cannot agree with. Although the rapporteur recognises the problem of susceptibility to fraud and corruption, he seems to believe that there are sufficient safeguards in the clause permitting the discontinuation of budgetary aid to poorly performing administrative institutions. Accountability requirements are not sufficiently met and the actual aid in individual cases can be described as mediocre at best. It is not easy to redress the disadvantages of ‘Common Administration with International Organisations’: it should be stated clearly that NGOs that receive EU funds to administer must produce regular accountability reports to indicate clearly and unambiguously how much they have spent and where and these reports must also be published on the institutions’ websites.
Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. – (PT) I am voting for this report, which demonstrates that EU competition policy has brought benefits for European businesses and citizens. In any case, it is very important that greater price transparency to the benefit of consumers be encouraged. I would also stress the need for state subsidies to be allocated in the most judicious way possible, so as not to distort the level playing field or make it less transparent.
Finally, like the report, I believe there is a need for greater European coordination, so as to properly evaluate the extraordinary liquidity injections that the European Central Bank has made, since these will not have been coordinated as well as is possible with state subsidies pursuing the same objective.
Roberta Angelilli (PPE), in writing. – (IT) In the current crisis the EU’s priorities must focus on strengthening the internal market by means of a solid and effective competition policy capable of supporting economic growth in all areas. Competition policy must make the most of the instruments the EU has at its disposal, in order to safeguard the principles of competition and the free market, along with consumer protection. I think we need to find a solution to bank failures by introducing a European regulatory framework that will ensure common rules of intervention as well as monitoring by the Commission. Finally, I hope that we may come to an agreement with the Council to begin discussions with us about competition, so that Parliament may be duly recognised as an institution representing all European citizens.
Elena Oana Antonescu (PPE), in writing. – (RO) When discussing the EU competition policy again, it is paramount for the decision-making authorities not to forget, when doing so, that maintaining a balance between incentive policies and competition policies has been and still is the secret of the European economic and social model’s success. It is just as important that the lasting benchmark and objective when discussing the legislative framework again is the ultimate interest of consumers.
It is important that the procedures applied for sanctioning uncompetitive practices must be as transparent and as easy to understand as possible for European consumers. It is equally important that EU competition measures make the process for setting prices more transparent so that consumers can make a valid and informed decision.
Last but not least, the compensation or penalties applied due to the infringement of EU competition procedures must be returned as a matter of principle and on an institutional basis to consumers. On many occasions, fines imposed on producers or retailers are collected by the state, which means that the consumers affected by the lack of competition are deprived of this compensation which they are due. Setting up a European fund to cover the costs of cross-border competition actions may compensate for the lack of regulation or effectiveness of national legislation, while also contributing to the development of the European economic framework.
Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D), in writing. – (LT) I voted in favour of this resolution concerning the Commission’s 2010 Annual Report on EU Competition Policy. I agree that the Commission should take effective action to foster the global convergence of competition regulation. On energy policy, the Commission should actively monitor competition in energy markets and improve the integration of renewable sources of energy into energy networks. It is important that the Commission should step up efforts to open up competition in the credit rating agencies sector and ensure the quality of credit ratings. The Commission should determine whether differences in the application of public procurement rules in EU Member States lead to a distortion of competition. I also agree that if we wish to guarantee a competitive and effective internal market, the EU must have an interoperable and efficient cross-border transport infrastructure network.
Regina Bastos (PPE), in writing. – (PT) EU competition policy has brought many benefits in terms of consumer well-being, and it remains a key instrument in removing obstacles to the free movement of goods, services, people and capital. Competition policy remains crucial to preserving the single market and protecting consumer interests. Emerging from the crisis will require new commitment to policies of growth and to making the EU more competitive internally and globally.
This report, for which I voted, tables recommendations relating to the following aspects of competition policy: control of state aid, proposing a permanent regulation system and an end to temporary measures as soon as the economic situation allows it; control of mergers, even in times of crisis, since these could cause serious problems in the future; and encouragement of European Commission participation in the International Competition Network. Finally, it calls on the European Commission to publish the Competition Work Programme at the beginning of each year, including a detailed list of the binding and non-binding competition instruments expected to be adopted during the coming year and of the public consultations envisaged.
Sergio Berlato (PPE), in writing. – (IT) In my view, the competition policy put in place by the EU has brought numerous benefits in terms of consumer welfare and has been an essential tool to eliminate obstacles to the free movement of goods, services, persons and capital. In particular, I believe that the temporary regime applicable to state aid has been very positive as an initial reaction to the recent economic and financial crisis. With specific reference to state aid in the financial sector, I agree with the rapporteur in his invitation to the Commission to link the extension beyond 2011 with more stringent conditions related to the reduction of the balance sheet composition and size of certain financial institutions. While I appreciate the role the Commission has played thus far in minimising the distortions in the banking system thanks to a balanced interpretation of the European law on state aid, I believe that we need to introduce a new permanent regulatory system for in the application of state aid rules, in particular as regards the financial sector, and to quickly come forward with the relative legislative proposal to address at European level resolution of the problem of failing banks.
Mara Bizzotto (EFD ), in writing. – (IT) The report tackles a delicate issue like competition policy at a difficult time like the present, when in some cases the crisis has led Member States to intervene in the private sector, with extraordinary assistance and financial support. The report rightly places the emphasis on the need to keep the European economic panorama as wide open as possible, not least because in times of crisis the economy can only recover though free enterprise, not protectionism or government interference. I agree that it is appropriate to promote the exchange between the Commission and consumer associations, and I wholeheartedly approve of the proposal to introduce new rules to regulate state aid in some key areas like that of finance. I therefore voted in favour of the report.
Vilija Blinkevičiūtė (S&D), in writing. – (LT) I voted in favour of this report because competition policy is an essential tool to enable the EU to have a dynamic, efficient and innovative internal market and to be competitive on the global stage. The European Parliament welcomes the fact that the Commission responded to the outbreak of the crisis in a prompt and reasonable manner by approving special State aid rules and using competition policy as a crisis management tool. Sizable amounts of state aid granted during the crisis in the form of, for example, guarantee schemes, recapitalisation schemes and complementary forms of liquidity support on bank funding have contributed to severe imbalances in public finances. The Commission should continue to investigate the competition situation in the retail sector, in particular the consequences of alleged abuse of market power by dominant retail chains with negative consequences for small retailers and producers operating in the agricultural and food market. The European Parliament also takes the view that competition policy should contribute to the promotion and application of open standards and to ensuring interoperability in order to prevent the technological lock-in of consumers and clients by a minority of market players.
Lara Comi (PPE), in writing. – (IT) I voted in favour of this report because I believe that competition policy is a very important tool for the recovery of the global economy, which has been held back by the previous economic and budgetary crises. The policy has brought numerous benefits to the various Member States in terms of consumer welfare and the elimination of obstacles to the free movement of goods, services, persons and capital. In this regard, state aid has played a crucial role in improving the way the markets work, cushioning the effects of the crisis on the real economy. In my view,sState aid should be allocated in such a way that does not distort competition and that ensures resources are invested in research and innovation. In addition, in order to further stimulate competition, market transparency must be increased to benefit consumers and the economy in general.
George Sabin Cutaş (S&D), in writing. – (RO) I voted for the Annual Report on EU Competition Policy because I felt that tighter regulations are needed in this area, especially at this time of crisis. Competition must be encouraged, particularly in the energy, credit rating agency and banking sectors. The issue of the banks regarded as being ‘too big to fail’, which have received State aid during the crisis, needs to be resolved. I find it surprising that these institutions are eligible to have access to unlimited liquidity. However, the European Central Bank constantly expresses its reluctance to become the creditor of last resort for Member States.
Vasilica Viorica Dăncilă (S&D), in writing. – (RO) The regulations which the European Union has been applying in the area of competition for several decades have proved to be effective, with the fall in the costs of international phone calls being one of the most typical examples of this. The EU and its Member States must continue to work together not only to remove any obstacle blocking the free movement of goods, services, persons and capital, but also to update existing regulations on a regular basis, precisely to enable the EU to tackle the challenges it is facing and the rapid global developments.
I also think that having flexible procedures allows the EU’s competition policy to remain a constructive, stabilising factor and offers the opportunity to adapt to real situations, especially in terms of giving all consumers the chance to be able to make a suitable choice.
Anne Delvaux (PPE), in writing. – (FR) The Commission’s Annual Report on EU Competition Policy 2010 clearly states that consolidation in the banking sector has actually enabled several financial institutions to increase their market share. I voted in favour of the report because it urges the Commission to maintain close watch on developments in the European banking sector. As regards fines and the settlement procedure for violations of antitrust rules and anti-competitive behaviour, I am also of the opinion that the policy on the imposition of fines remains an important deterrent while encouraging compliance.
Edite Estrela (S&D), in writing. – (PT) I voted for the report because I consider it balanced in the way that it approaches state aid to companies, as well as in the way it proposes to regulate mergers and acquisitions of companies in the various sectors of the economy.
José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. – (PT) The text under consideration, drafted by Mr Schwab, analyses the Annual Report on EU Competition Policy for 2010, in the report’s 40th-anniversary year. As one of the EU’s aims is the operation of an effective and efficient single market, competition policy plays a key role both by stimulating competition between companies and by ensuring price stability, which is a situation that only benefits consumers.
Despite the changes to the way it operates, many aspects still need improvement, such as controlling state aid that distorts markets and is only acceptable initially as a response to the crisis, combating monopolies, transparency in how the banking sector operates, public procurement, the energy market, air transport, and so on. It is also essential to make progress with revising the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive and the Market Abuse Directive.
I welcome the adoption of this report, which demonstrates that EU competition policy should continue and develop, since it has improved Europeans’ quality of life, and facilitated the movement of people, goods and services.
Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D), in writing. – (SK) The rules and procedures of competition policy undergo a continuous process of adjustment in order to contribute to the main aims of the EU, which include, for example, the building of the single market, its functioning to the benefit of consumers, and the achievement of a competitive social market economy. It is noteworthy that, while the environment in which EU competition policy operates is undergoing profound changes such as rapid technological development, expansion or globalisation, time does not affect the various provisions of the 1957 Treaty that prohibit certain anti-competition agreements and abuse of a dominant position, and likewise does not affect the provisions on state aid, which testifies to their inherent ability to be applied in a variety of circumstances. Given the exclusive jurisdiction of the Commission in the area of competition policy, which was confirmed by the Treaty of Lisbon, the Commission is entitled to adopt detailed rules on how it intends to use its main instruments – the provisions of the Treaty relating to antitrust policy and provisions on mergers and state aid. Since implementation of the competition policy began, the EU has been characterised by two principal features in particular: its contribution to the building and maintenance of the internal market and its contribution to the interests of consumers. At the same time, the competition policy supports the main objectives of the European Union enshrined in the Treaties: a competitive market, economic, social and territorial cohesion and sustainable development.
Philippe Juvin (PPE), in writing. – (FR) I supported the postponement of the vote on the Schwab report on EU competition policy because one of the paragraphs in this report refers to the opinion of Mr Schwab of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs, on collective redress by incorporating it as an annex. However, the report by Mr Lehne of the Committee on Legal Affairs (the committee responsible) is to be adopted by the Committee on Legal Affairs in December 2011, then in plenary in February 2012. Therefore, the postponement of the vote on the Schwab report on EU competition policy is justified, so as to ensure that the opinion of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs on collective redress is not voted on before the basic report. This does not change my position in favour of the introduction of a European collective redress system providing for clear and effective safeguards. I defended this position as shadow rapporteur of the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) on the opinion of Ms Rapti on this matter in the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection.
David Martin (S&D), in writing. – I voted for this resolution in which Parliament urges the Commission to link the extension of the temporary state aid to the banking sector beyond 2011 with enhanced and more stringent conditions related to the reduction of the balance sheet composition and size, including a proper focus on retail lending as well as stronger restrictions on bonuses, distribution of dividends and other crucial factors; it deems that these conditions should be explicit and should be assessed and summarised on an ex post basis by the Commission.
Mario Mauro (PPE), in writing. – (IT) The temporary regime applicable to state aid has been a very positive factor against the crisis, but it cannot be prolonged unduly. A new permanent regulatory system for the application of state aid rules is necessary, in order to tackle the flaws found in the pre-crisis legal system. Specific attention needs to be paid to the financial sector. I voted in favour.
Jean-Luc Mélenchon (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (FR) This report is an ode to free and fair competition. No sector has been spared: transport, energy, telecommunications, ‘services of general economic interest’, banks. Anything goes. Not once is general interest mentioned, and for good reason. The only thing that counts here are market appetites. Liberal dogmatism pure and simple. Systematic preparation for disaster. A sham. I am voting against it.
Alajos Mészáros (PPE), in writing. – (HU) The Commission’s 2010 Annual Report on EU Competition Policy is fundamentally defined by an attempt to limit and redress the processes of the recent economic crisis and its consequences. For four decades, from the very beginnings of the creation of the Community, competition policy has been the essential basis for economic cooperation. Today we must also find a solution to the market movements distorted by the crisis, by using fair regulation. The Commission has attempted to react effectively to the economic crisis; it has approved rules on state aid while remaining within the framework of competition policy. I agree with the opinion of the rapporteurs, that we also need a global approach to competition regulations. The report addresses a number of sectors, which is why the call for a prompt implementation of the internal energy market package is justified, in order to create an open and competitive single energy market. The introduction of effective cost analysis in all phases of the food supply chain is equally important for consumer interest protection. The Commission’s guidelines aimed at rescuing and restructuring the banking sector are also unavoidable, and the observance and application of these guidelines will have to be monitored. I agree with linking future temporary state aid for the banking sector to stricter conditions; furthermore, appropriate attention should be paid to a more ethical consumer credit provision. The market distortions created by the crisis can only be resolved through joint EU action. I voted for the report of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs, as in my opinion competition policy is a key factor in developing the EU into a dynamic, efficient and innovative internal market and in strengthening its competitiveness on the world market.
Miroslav Mikolášik (PPE), in writing. – (SK) The financial and economic crisis that erupted in autumn 2008 continues to exist, and Member States are exposed to the threat of long-term recession. I agree with the opinion that protectionism and the non-enforcement of competition rules will not contribute to solving the crisis in any way. On the contrary, a properly conceived competition policy should help to build a dynamic and innovative internal market that will successfully face global competition. Even in times of crisis, cartel agreements remain the most serious threat to competition, consumer welfare and the proper functioning of markets, and therefore it is justified to impose fines as a tool for enforcing the applicable laws. I believe, however, that the Commission should examine individual cases with special care and ensure that the amounts of fines imposed do not irreparably jeopardise the economic viability of the enterprise concerned, which would lead to its bankruptcy, liquidation and, consequently, large job losses. The crisis situation means that the responses to the challenges arising must take into account the complex economic and social context and must not penalise EU citizens even more.
Alfredo Pallone (PPE), in writing. – (IT) Competition policy and strengthening the internal market need to be a priority for the EU, especially at a time of crisis like the present, when it is crucial to make the most of the potential offered to us by the Union. I also hope that the new strategy will increase the protection of cross-border transactions — especially for online products and services — and support financial inclusion. Given the highly specific nature of the various sectors, such as the financial sector, it is important to make distinctions in order to best meet individual needs. However, in doing so, I hope that the principles of competition and the free market will equally be borne in mind, as a more protected and responsible consumer needs to be able to account on the efficiencies that an open and competitive market deliver.
Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – In favour. The European Parliament welcomes the Commission report on competition policy 2010; highlights, on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of this report, that EU competition policy has brought numerous benefits in terms of consumer welfare and has been an essential tool to eliminate obstacles to the free movement of goods, services, persons and capital; points out that competition policy continues to be an essential tool for preserving the single market and protecting the consumer interest; stresses that some rules need to be updated to deal with new challenges. The European Parliament also notes that the combined effect of robust principles and flexible procedures has enabled competition policy to be a constructive and stabilising factor in the EU’s financial system and in the real economy in general.
Czesław Adam Siekierski (PPE), in writing. – (PL) Today we adopted an important report on the Annual Report on EU Competition Policy. This is the 40th such report, because this policy is one of the most fundamental in the EU, and is extremely important for the functioning of the single European market which, as I mentioned during the debate, represents the foundation of economic success in the EU. I am pleased to note that the Commission, and particularly the Commission under Mr Barroso, is very active when it comes to regulating the conditions for competition in the financial markets. The activities of the newly created monitoring and supervisory agencies will likely contribute to financial market discipline. The actions taken by the European Commission in the telecommunications market have also brought positive results. However, we must be aware of the need for new regulations for the services market, as well as the energy and food markets.
Sergio Paolo Francesco Silvestris (PPE), in writing. – (IT) The financial and economic crisis which broke out in autumn 2008 has not yet been overcome, in fact financial turmoil and recessionary fears have become once again acute over the last months. In such a context competition policy may be an added value, and may become an instrument for managing the crisis. The climate is a favourable one and people are cooperative, as can be seen by the number of consumer associations involved in European competition law that have been springing up. This vote is a step in the direction of improved price transparency, which is essential in stimulating competition in the single market and offering real choice to consumers. The many measures to be adopted need to include the provision of a performance scheme to guarantee transparency of service pricing.
Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. – (PT) In recent years, the European Union has been facing a serious economic, financial and social crisis, and the European institutions have adopted various policies with a view to solving existing problems. One of the most crucial measures adopted to combat the crisis is competition policy, whose purpose is to create an internal market that is more dynamic, effective and competitive at international level.
I am voting for this report, since I agree that there should be greater transparency in terms of the prices used by companies, that specific measures should be adopted to solve the banking crisis, that more research and innovation grants should be awarded to companies, and that there should be oversight of mergers. I would highlight as a positive the stress given in the report to fostering competition in all sectors and not just the service sector, which accounts for 70% of the European economy.
Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. – (PT) I am voting for this report, above all because of the need to support the thousands of workers made redundant as a result of Renault filing for bankruptcy, but I am bound to regret the excessive time this application has taken. I would take this opportunity to stress that is very important to retain this programme for the next Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF), 2014-2020. The EU will always be obliged to provide help in these situations, defending the European social model so as to protect companies and workers made weaker by various situations, pursuant to the criteria already laid down in the current MFF, as well as seeking to expand its scope for action.
Sophie Auconie (PPE), in writing. – (FR) I welcome the decision taken by the European Parliament to mobilise EUR 24.5 million to finance the retraining of 3 582 people laid off by Renault. As the automotive sector has not been spared by the crisis, it is important for the European Union to take action to limit its effects. While, in principle, this fund can only be mobilised to help workers affected by globalisation, the EU decided to broaden its scope to cover job losses resulting from the crisis. However, I regret that this decision was not carried over to 2012. What is more, I regret the negative vote of the French Socialists, who too often prefer ideology to real assistance to European workers.
Zoltán Bagó (PPE), in writing. – (HU) I did not support the application for support France had submitted with respect to the 4 445 people made redundant (of whom 3 582 are entitled to support) at Renault s.a.s. and seven of its automotive industry suppliers. The report decides how the money of European tax paying citizens should be spent. I am not convinced that the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund should be used for such a purpose, which, in my opinion, is the responsibility of the Member State. The EU could use the amount awarded from the budget for this support application to assist in the creation of jobs in regions where there really is a high proportion of unemployment. From the story behind the report it turns out that Renault and Peugeot as well as Dutch and German companies will receive the support directly.
Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D), in writing – (LT) I voted in favour of this resolution on the mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) for France with a view to granting EUR 24.5 million in commitment and payment appropriations. The European Globalisation Adjustment Fund grants support to and helps reintegrate in the labour market workers made redundant as a result of major structural changes in world trade patterns due to globalisation and as a direct effect of the global financial and economic crisis. In October 2009, France submitted an application and requested assistance in respect of 4 445 redundancies (of which 3 582 are targeted for assistance) in the enterprise Renault s.a.s. and seven of its suppliers from the automotive industry. Since 2008, Renault has been severely affected by the increasing cost of credit and the hardening of credit conditions resulting from the global financial and economic crisis. As a result, demand for Renault cars dropped and the enterprise’s economic situation worsened. According to the Commission’s assessment, the application fulfils the eligibility criteria set out in the EGF Regulation. I agree to the EGF being mobilised to provide a financial contribution for the application submitted by France in order to support the reintegration into the labour market of workers made redundant due to the global financial and economic crisis.
Elena Băsescu (PPE), in writing. – (RO) I voted for this report because I think that workers who have been made redundant need support in their efforts to find a new job. The EU must provide assistance more actively in this respect. Cofinancing active labour policies via the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) is especially important during the financial and economic crisis.
The workers made redundant by Renault in France should be given financial assistance. I should stress that the procedure for releasing the grants needs to be speeded up. The efficiency and transparency in awarding them are of paramount importance. I think that the cofinancing rate through the EGF of 65% must not be reduced. I should mention that in September Nokia decided to relocate its business from Romania to Asia. As a result, more than 2 200 workers are due to be made redundant from January 2012. Romania is preparing to apply for financial assistance through the EGF so as to provide them with financial support.
Regina Bastos (PPE), in writing. – (PT) The European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) was created in 2006 in order to provide additional assistance to workers affected by the consequences of significant changes in the structure of international trade and to assist in their reintegration into the labour market. Since 1 May 2009, the scope of the EGF has been expanded to include support for workers made redundant as a direct consequence of the economic, financial and social crisis. At this time of severe crisis, one of the principal consequences of which has been an increase in unemployment, the EU needs to use all the means at its disposal to respond, particularly with regard to providing support for those who find themselves without a job. I therefore voted for this report concerning the mobilisation of EUR 24 493 525 from the EGF for France, with the objective of supporting workers made redundant from the company Renault s.a.s. and seven of its suppliers.
Jean-Luc Bennahmias (ALDE), in writing. – (FR) Mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) for Renault, a purely French controversy, has caused several disagreements, which should not, however, lead us to forget about the real issue here. Today’s vote was, controversy aside, a vote for or against the EGF. As we work on extending this fund beyond 2013 – which, it should be pointed out, is one of the EU’s only concrete actions to tackle the social consequences of the crisis – it seemed important to me to express my support for the EGF. It certainly appears that, in Renault’s case, not all the rules have been fully respected (funding of so-called passive training rather than active training) and that the French company has shown a certain reluctance to provide the information it was asked for. It is therefore vital to find a solution for the workers who now find themselves in difficulty. In the long term, this French case shows us that we need to improve management of the EGF in the forthcoming budgetary period.
Nikolaos Chountis (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (EL) Despite the fact that I always vote in favour of the mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund, in this particular instance I voted against it. This application concerns the automotive manufacturer Renault, in which the French Government also has a stake. Despite the economic crisis, Renault is still making large profits; however, it has been using money from the national and European budgets for years for the purpose of mass redundancies. It hopes to do likewise in this particular instance, for 3 000 workers, without using its own funds or profits for the bonuses and ‘social plan’ which are compulsory under French law. As the French trade unions have complained, for years Renault has done nothing to defend the rights of workers or to maintain jobs.
Finally, this particular issue is being used in an attempt to have financial responsibility assumed for the adverse impact from the reform of the French pension system. However, we cannot support this; every Member State is obliged to provide and all workers are entitled to receive a decent pension, meaning that the solution lies in public support for viable insurance funds, not in passing ‘charity’.
Mário David (PPE), in writing. – (PT) Although I regret the events that led to Renault and seven of its suppliers undertaking this process, I welcome this mobilisation of EUR 24.5 million from the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) following two votes in the Committee on Budgets, during the first of which the application was rejected. It was rejected the first time because the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament, the European Conservatives and Reformists Group and non-attached Members voted against. Members from the S&D Group, above all, used this process as a political weapon against the French Government. It seems clear to me that there is absolutely no justification for using the redundancy of several thousand workers to score political points. Moreover, the precedent of using the EGF in other ways than for its specific purpose also seems worthy of censure to me. I hope that this sum can now be mobilised as quickly as possible, as requested by the rapporteur.
Christine De Veyrac (PPE), in writing. – (FR) I voted in favour of this report authorising mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund for 3 582 French workers made redundant by the car manufacturer Renault. This fund enables those of our fellow citizens most seriously affected by the crisis to receive additional support from the European Union, without the state having to put its hand in its pocket.
Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. – (PT) Renault, an iconic company of the automotive sector, has made 4 445 workers redundant. The company’s problems have also affected seven of its suppliers, which are today experiencing serious problems. This fact throws into even sharper relief the worrying times the European economy is undergoing, and how this affects businesses and families.
I hope the European automotive industry will be able to recover the position it used to have at global level, and that its main brands will manage to survive the crisis affecting everyone. I hope that mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund will be approved so as to come swiftly to the aid of workers that could benefit from it, and that this additional help will be able to contribute to their reintegration into the labour market.
José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. – (PT) In July 2011, the Commission adopted a new proposal for a decision on the mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF), created in 2006 with the aim of supporting workers made redundant as a result of globalisation, for France. This is the 13th application of 2011, and it provides for the mobilisation of EUR 24 493 525 to mitigate the social impact of the redundancy of 4 445 workers from seven enterprises in the automotive sector (application EGF/2009/019 FR/Renault-France). The complexity of applying to the EGF and its low level of maximum contribution (65%) has led to a low application rate, meaning that, in five years, only 14% (EUR 370 million) of the total sum available has been taken up.
I welcome the adoption of this proposal for a decision, for which I voted, and call on the Commission and Council to table before this House a proposal to increase the maximum EGF contribution from 65% to 95% for any Member State in receipt of a bailout package, for example Portugal and Greece, as has been recently adopted by Parliament in relation to cohesion funding and the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD).
Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D), in writing. – (SK) Point 28 of the Interinstitutional Agreement of 17 May 2006 between the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission on budgetary discipline and sound financial management allows for the mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) through the Flexibility Instrument, with an annual ceiling of EUR 500 million over and above the relevant headings of the financial framework. The rules applicable to the contributions from the EGF are laid down in Regulation (EC) No 1927/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 December 2006 on establishing the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund. On 9 October 2009, France submitted application EGF/2009/019 FR/Renault for a financial contribution from the EGF, following redundancies in Renault s.a.s. and seven of its subsidiaries in France. The application cites 1 384 redundancies in Renault s.a.s. and six suppliers and a further 3 061 redundancies in Renault s.a.s. and seven suppliers outside the reference period, but included in the same voluntary redundancy plan. After a thorough examination of this application, the Commission has concluded that the conditions for a financial contribution under this Regulation have been met.
João Ferreira and Ilda Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (PT) My vote, in this Renault case, was above all a protest vote at the actions of the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats), which blocked the vote on an amendment by the Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe demanding that the rights of Renault workers not be put at risk by the recent decisions of the French Government. It should also be recalled that Renault has made millions of euro in profit and that the French state is one of the company’s shareholders. However, as I stated in plenary on the Renault issue, it is important first and foremost to express complete solidarity with the around 5 000 workers who have been victims of redundancy. On the other hand, the confused situation that France has created surrounding this European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) application process is regrettable, as is the company’s lack of dialogue with the representatives of its workers and the lack of transparency about how the process has developed, which has been stressed by a number of French Members, particularly from our group.
We maintain our position of solidarity with the workers and our support for mobilising the EGF, provided that the process is transparent and despite the criticisms that we also continue to make of the EGF Regulation.
Lorenzo Fontana (EFD), in writing. – (IT) I voted in favour of the report, because although Renault’s conduct could be considered unfair, we are dealing with the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF), which supports the reintegration of workers affected by the crisis into the labour market. I voted in favour because otherwise large numbers of French workers would have been deprived of such assistance.
Marian Harkin (ALDE), in writing. – I support the application of the French Government to access the EGF on behalf of redundant workers of Renault. This application has taken a long time to progress through the system and has had its fair share of controversy. However, it is important that we always keep a clear perspective on EGF applications. This fund is intended to provide tailor-made packages for workers – that is the core issue.
Jacky Hénin (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (FR) The European Globalisation Adjustment Fund was created to help workers and companies who fall victim to globalisation and to enable workers to become employable again. However, in reality, all too often it is those who bring about unbridled competition between people, to swell profits, that apply.
Here, Renault and several subcontractors want to be supported, while the only aim of their job cuts is to increase their profits. More seriously, Renault – as the workers have told us – has used this mechanism to bring about early retirement. Accordingly, many workers approaching retirement have been busy learning how to hang wallpaper, do gardening or drive a motorbike or a boat.
Since the French Government has decided to increase the retirement age, a number of them are now faced with an unacceptable situation. They have given their health for their company and risk finding themselves with nothing, several months before being able to exercise their retirement rights.
While we are in favour of state aid being able to support industrial development and research, to boost jobs, we cannot support misuse of public funds.
Brice Hortefeux (PPE), in writing. – (FR) Parliament has finally approved mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund in favour of Renault and its 3 582 workers who have chosen voluntary redundancy. This measure will affect the Ile-de-France, Haute-Normandie and Nord-Pas-de-Calais factories. The European Union will thus grant EUR 24.5 million of aid, the highest amount ever paid to date. It is excellent news for French industry and its workers waiting for a decision to release the funds, which had been delayed by French socialists. I believe that exploiting, for political purposes, an affair that had nothing to do with purely national issues is an unacceptable manoeuvre that has no place in Parliament. That is why I am delighted that the French socialists, who have once again tried, in plenary, to get an amendment adopted that is designed to put pressure on the government, have failed.
Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. – (LT) On 9 October 2009, France submitted an application to mobilise the EGF in respect of redundancies in the enterprise Renault s.a.s. and seven of its suppliers. The application concerns 4 445 redundancies, of which 3 582 are targeted for assistance, in the French enterprise Renault and seven of its suppliers during the four-month reference period from 1 April 2009 to 31 July 2009. This application complies with the requirements for determining the financial contributions as laid down in Article 10 of Regulation (EC) No 1927/2006. I therefore support the Commission’s proposal to mobilise an amount of EUR 24 493 525.
Philippe Juvin (PPE), in writing. – (FR) I voted in favour of this report on mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) in favour of Renault workers to enable funding of the retraining of 3 582 workers who have chosen voluntary redundancy. The workers concerned come from factories that are based in the Ile-de-France, Haute-Normandie and Nord-Pas-de-Calais regions. The EGF is a vital instrument, a concrete manifestation of solidarity within the European Union.
Constance Le Grip (PPE) , in writing. – (FR) I voted in favour of mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) for Renault and its workers. The aid received – EUR 24.5 million, which is the highest amount that has ever been granted by the EGF – will go to fund the retraining of 3 582 workers who have chosen voluntary redundancy in factories located in the Ile-de-France, Haute-Normandie and Nord-Pas-de-Calais regions. I welcome the positive vote, which sends out a message of solidarity and very practical aid to a French car industry and workers who are struggling in a situation of very tough global competition. Once threatened by the opposition of French socialists, this aid has finally been approved thanks to the determination of MEPs belonging to the French UMP party. The Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament has managed to make their French members see reason, preventing electoral considerations from affecting the interests of the workers.
David Martin (S&D), in writing. – I voted for this proposal for a decision on the mobilisation of the EGF in favour of France in order to support the reintegration in the labour market of workers made redundant due to the global financial and economic crisis.
Jean-Luc Mélenchon (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (FR) This report approves a payout that Renault does not deserve. This company, which posted a profit of EUR 1.2 billion in the first six months of this year, is stepping up its redundancy schemes. It is replacing its workers with temporary casual workers. Today, it is taking cynicism to extremes, leaving jobless hundreds of former workers, whom it had assured, in 2009, that their unemployment benefits would be paid until their planned retirement date. Retirement reform has been through that. Renault, of which the French state is the main shareholder, had never seen it! Even worse: Renault is offering its former workers temporary jobs as the only solution. Rewarding such a monstrous social act is obscene.
Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. – (PT) The EU is an area of solidarity and the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) is a part of that. This support is essential for helping the unemployed and victims of company relocations that occur in the context of globalisation. An increasing number of companies are relocating, taking advantage of reduced labour costs in a number of countries, particularly China and India, with a damaging effect on countries that respect workers’ rights. The EGF aims to help workers who are victims of the relocation of companies, and it is essential for facilitating access to new employment. The EGF has been used by other EU Member States in the past, so now it is appropriate to grant this aid to France, which has applied for assistance relating to 4 445 redundancies, 3 582 of which are targeted for assistance, from the enterprise Renault s.a.s. and seven of its suppliers from the automotive industry
Andreas Mölzer (NI), in writing. – (DE) The expectations expressed in the report in relation to further improvements in the working of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) and the call for greater efficiency and transparency, as well as better availability of the fund are to be welcomed. In times of economic uncertainty, it is all the more important to offer more effective help to people who have lost their jobs due to the current financial and economic crisis. The improvements called for should enable the fund to intervene in a faster, more targeted way in the future. It is essential that areas of high unemployment should be able to access aid efficiently. After all, it would be disastrous if people who had lost their jobs were unable to receive the most immediate possible assistance because of a slow-moving EGAF process. For this reason, I support the calls and expectations contained in this report. I have therefore voted in favour of the report.
Siiri Oviir (ALDE), in writing. – (ET) I supported this report, as I consider it regrettable that the corresponding evaluation period has now lasted for over two years in the case of the application submitted by Renault France. Unfortunately, the satisfaction of the application was made more complicated by the fact that the employees who had been made redundant chose an early retirement plan, which resulted in a conflict with present European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) regulations. The pension rights of people who have been made redundant, however, changed during the pension reform, and it was bona fide employees who suffered. I do, however, recognise the efforts made by the French Government and all parties to solve the situation, and I nevertheless consider it appropriate for Renault’s application to be financed from EGF funds. I consider the existence of this fund to be very important, as it offers extensive support to those who have been made redundant as a result of the economic crisis in finding new jobs through retraining. Hopefully those Member States that have not yet received support from the fund due to high cost-sharing or insufficient administrative capacity, will also receive support from the EGF. One positive example, however, is Holland, which has set the objective of taking maximum advantage of European Union subsidies.
Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. – (PT) The European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) was created to provide additional support for workers affected by the consequences of major structural changes in the patterns of world trade. On 11 July 2011, the Commission adopted a new draft decision on the mobilisation of the EGF for France, with the aim of supporting the reintegration into the labour market of workers made redundant as a result of the global economic and financial crisis. This is the 13th application to be examined within the framework of the 2011 budget, and relates to the mobilisation of the total sum of EUR 24 493 525 from the EGF for France, with regard to 4 445 redundancies, 3 582 of which are targeted for assistance, from the French enterprise Renault and seven of its suppliers during the four-month reference period between 1 April 2009 and 31 July 2009. Given that the application fulfils all the necessary requirements for mobilising this financial aid mechanism, I voted for this report.
Miguel Portas (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (PT) I abstained in the vote on mobilising the European Global Adjustment Fund (EGF) in the Renault case. Training for the workers has already been undertaken and funded by the French state and Renault itself. This is a case of reimbursing the French state and Renault, which should not happen.
Renault declared profits of EUR 1.2 billion in the first six months of 2011, continues to forge ahead with its plans for reducing its staff and is replacing permanent contracts with precarious ones. Even worse than that, it is doing all this with the complicity of the French State and at the expense of the European taxpayer. On the other hand, the EGF has been coming under attack from some of the Member States that have benefited most from it, including Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark and the United Kingdom. The EGF is one of the Union’s few instruments intended to aid the reintegration of workers in the context of the current social, economic and financial crisis, by guaranteeing training programmes adapted to each worker. Allowing the way the EGF is used to be twisted to enable Europe’s large multinationals to restructure without bearing the related costs is the other way of doing away with it.
Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – Abstained. The Group has serious doubts about this case and the quality of the training measures organised.
Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. – (PT) Regulation (EC) No 1927/2006 of the European Parliament and the Council of 20 December 2006 established the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) with the aim of supporting workers who lose their jobs due to structural changes in the context of the global economy. Owing to the redundancy of 3 582 workers from the company Renault and seven of its suppliers located in the French regions of Île-de-France (53%), Haute-Normandie (29.5%) and Nord-Pas-de-Calais (12.5%), France has requested the mobilisation of the EGF so as to obtain European funding to support the labour situation of the workers in question. I am voting for the requested sum of EUR 24 493 525, which will be channelled into providing one-off, time-limited, individualised support for workers made redundant as a result of globalisation and the financial and economic crisis. Finally, I believe the European institutions should make every effort to improve the EGF’s procedural and budgetary arrangements, so as to make its mobilisation to the benefit of workers faster and more efficient.
Silvia-Adriana Ţicău (S&D), in writing. – (RO) This application complies with the requirements for determining the financial contributions, as laid down in Article 10 of Regulation (EC) No 1927/2006. The application does not cover the Renault workers who opted for the early retirement scheme and were not eligible for aid from the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) under Regulation (EC) No 1927/2006, but saw their pension rights altered by the pension reform which came into force in the meantime. I support the mobilisation of EUR 24 493 525 from the EGF to support the workers referred to in the application.
The measures financed by the EGF should lead to long-term employment. We call on the Commission for strong, close monitoring and guidance, with the aim of ensuring that the training on offer matches local economic trends. However, the assistance provided by the EGF must not replace the actions which companies are responsible for taking, in accordance with national legislation or collective agreements, or measures restructuring companies or sectors.
Joachim Zeller (PPE), in writing. – (DE) I was unable to vote in favour of the Matera report today because I believe it promotes a misuse of the Globalisation Adjustment Fund. Redundancies at Renault in France, while very unfortunate for the workers, have nothing to do with “globalisation” and everything to do with corporate policy. The Renault Group is not in economic difficulties and, if business is slow in some markets, this is due to internal problems within the company relating to service and the delivery of new cars. In addition, Renault has also moved production capacity to ‘Dacia’ because it can produce more cheaply in Romania, and is planning significant foreign investment (for example in Brazil). If French workers lose their jobs as a result, I do not see this as a reason to reward this conglomerate with approximately EUR 25 million from the European budget, instead of being called to account by the French State for its share in providing social cover for its former workers.
Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. – (PT) I am voting for this report. This is first and foremost because the Treaty of Lisbon requires the Commission to do everything to make Union institutions, bodies, offices and agencies operate in the most transparent way possible. I also think we should take this opportunity to try to make this regulation the single legal framework for public access to all documents handled by Union institutions, offices, bodies and agencies, bearing in mind that the final users are the public. It is our duty and obligation to make access as easy and user-friendly as possible. Furthermore, we need to take this opportunity to try to order the various provisions in a more consistent and reasonable way, so the institutions can finally work together to set out common rules and guidelines for handling different kind of documents.
Laima Liucija Andrikienė (PPE), in writing. – I voted against the resolution on public access to European Parliament, Council and Commission documents as it goes far beyond the goal to create more transparency by better access to documents for the citizens. Moreover, the report takes on issues that cannot be the subject of the regulation at all. I supported the position of the EPP Group, that the report does not only transgress the law and interinstitutional agreement in force but violates as well the safeguarding of competition proceedings, sensitive and personal data. The report defines as a ‘document’ all data and content which is somehow linked to the politics, the measures and the decisions of all institutions of the EU; this includes in a broad way also preparative, confidential and classified documents. Therefore this definition includes not only documents but also pieces of information. As a consequence the citizens would have access to procedures, which goes far beyond the normal access to documents and which would open the floodgates to public influence.
Liam Aylward and Pat the Cope Gallagher (ALDE), in writing. – We fully support transparency in the decision-making and administrative workings of the European institutions and are in favour of several measures in this report seeking to increase transparency and access to information for European citizens. However, a number of points in the report go far beyond measures required for increased transparency and in the interests of the privacy of our constituents, who often contact us – as their public representatives – with matters and queries of a personal or sensitive nature, it was necessary to vote against this report.
Zoltán Bagó (PPE), in writing. – (HU) I did not vote for the report on the proposal for a European Parliament and Council regulation on public access to European Parliament, Council and Commission documents because its content is not in line with my political values and with those of the Group of the European People's Party (Christian Democrats). I find it unacceptable for everyone to have access to the documents of the institutions, bodies, bureaus and agencies of the EU. In addition, full publicity of the documents would be difficult to realise in practice, therefore I believe that the solution to the easier participation of citizens in decision making is not full publicity. It is not justified if the publication of these documents infringes upon other basic rights, such as personal rights. However, next time I would gladly support a less exaggerated or one-sided compromise solution that stands closer to the standpoint of the PPE Group, as the subject of the report is of outstanding importance.
Jean-Luc Bennahmias (ALDE), in writing. – (FR) Today, in addition to the difficult economic and monetary situation, we are faced with a deep crisis in European democracy. The EU is still suffering from its decisions not being understood by its citizens, who still feel detached from them. The challenge of bringing Europe and its citizens closer together is more relevant than ever: guaranteeing transparency of the decisions issued by the EU as well as free access to the documents of the three institutions is vital if we want to rise to the challenge. The European Parliament is already an open and transparent institution that widely publishes its meetings and reports. Indeed, it is thanks to more transparency that citizens can take part in the democratic process with full knowledge of the facts. I therefore voted in favour of this report, which seeks to strengthen public access to documents and democracy in the European Union. This opening up of access to documents in particular gives national political stakeholders the chance to check the acts of the European institutions, and it integrates all content whatever its medium concerning a matter falling within the sphere of responsibility of a Union institution. We can thus make progress towards transparency with the aim of clarifying the opacity of ‘Brussels’ decisions for all European citizens.
Adam Bielan (ECR), in writing. – (PL) I am in favour of the European institutions being open, and of citizens being provided with the widest possible access to documents. Transparency, which is an expression of the right to good administration, also represents an excellent tool for its control. Extending the definition of a document to include any electronic media may make it significantly easier to access them. The practice of broadcasting Parliament’s plenary sessions and committee meetings online is a good example of transparency and openness of activities. The Commission should also give a clear indication of its willingness to ensure greater transparency in the functioning of the EU’s institutions, bodies, offices and agencies. Various restrictions on access to documents, including while they are being drafted, may equate to a blocking of public information. The decision to refuse access to a document should therefore be made on the basis of clearly and precisely formulated rules, which also set out special exceptions. The citizen should be provided with comprehensive justification for such a decision. I support the resolution.
Vilija Blinkevičiūtė (S&D), in writing. – (LT) I voted in favour of this report because we MEPs, as representatives of the citizens, have the task of ensuring that the right granted to citizens under the Treaty of Lisbon to access documents of the EU institutions, bodies, offices and agencies, whatever their medium, is properly implemented. I thus support Parliament’s position and the amendments according to which, in particular, the proposals submitted by the Commission in 2008 and this year should be combined, for the purposes of their simplification, in one document. The European Parliament also supplemented the Commission’s proposal with provisions concerning additional applications to obtain information and the application of the principle of good and open administration during the transitional period, as well as provisions prohibiting any form of discrimination and the refusal to provide information to citizens on the grounds of possible technical difficulties or discrepancies.
Cristian Silviu Buşoi (ALDE), in writing. – (RO) As we are all well aware, public access to official EU documents is a very important issue for the transparency of European institutions and other EU agencies. I welcome the ideas from the rapporteur and especially the tenacity with which he supports them, as it is the second report on this topic due to the stalemate that occurred after the first report was adopted.
First of all, it must be highlighted that public access to EU documents increases the level of transparency of the EU institutions, with the upshot of a higher level of public confidence and a sense of closeness to the EU. I am pleased to see that the report contained a number of ambitious amendments to the Commission’s proposal. The suggestions made offer citizens wider access compared with the Commission’s text, which ignores some aspects of the jurisprudence of the CJEU (for example, in the Turco v. Council case). Secondly, the definition chosen for ‘documents’ is much more suitable than the Commission’s definition. Third-party documents held by institutions must be accessible under the current system which has worked fairly well. I also support the document classification system proposed by the rapporteur and I think that it is adequate for maintaining the level of protection required to ensure the smooth operation of EU institutions.
Carlos Coelho (PPE), in writing. – (PT) Advantage should be taken of the opening up provided by the Treaty of Lisbon to get the message to the public that the EU institutions, bodies and agencies are ready to increase Union transparency to the level required by the new Treaty. Only by making European legislation and decision-making mechanisms more transparent will we successfully bring the EU closer to the public, so increasing the democratic legitimacy of the political system.
Adoption of this regulation will facilitate public access to documents processed by Union institutions, bodies and agencies, providing the opportunity to organise the various existing provisions more coherently and reasonably, with a view to making the European decision-making process more comprehensible. Unfortunately, an agreement still has not been reached, with disagreements ranging from the definition of ‘document’, to the extension of exceptions to document access, to personal data protection, and to the handling of classified documents. Yet this institutional deadlock shows the EU and its institutions in a very negative light, so I call on both colegislators to show signs of greater openness and sense of compromise for the benefit of the public, and of safeguarding their fundamental right of access to documents and participation in the political process.
Corina Creţu (S&D), in writing. – (RO) I voted in favour of the proposal for a regulation regarding public access to European Parliament, Council and Commission documents. The impact on the officials’ duties of drafting, registering, negotiating, classifying and archiving EU documents should be balanced, thereby protecting the efficiency and transparency of the EU institutions. Now that the Treaty of Lisbon is in force, it is natural that the message should be about making more transparent the way in which the EU institutions, offices, bodies and agencies operate, also with the aim of bringing Europe’s forums closer to its citizens.
Edite Estrela (S&D), in writing. – (PT) I voted for this report because it promotes greater transparency in the institutions’ legislative and administrative processes.
Göran Färm, Anna Hedh, Olle Ludvigsson, Jens Nilsson, Marita Ulvskog and Åsa Westlund (S&D), in writing. – (SV) We are largely in favour of Mr Cashman’s report, which we believe to be a major step in the right direction when it comes to opening up the EU institutions and allowing public scrutiny of the EU’s work.
We are sceptical about the proposal put forward regarding the classification of documents. The classification that the institutions use does not directly affect the public’s access to documents.
Just because a document is classified in a particular way does not mean that it will automatically be exempt from the requirements of the regulation. We therefore believe that classification would be best regulated in another piece of legislation.
We also fear that there is a risk of the system resulting in over-classification (with more documents than necessary being classified) and therefore in less transparency.
Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. – (PT) The openness of European institutions and the transparency of their procedures are guarantees that civil society and the public in the Member States are not only kept informed, but are also an integral and informed part of their decision-making processes. Although people feel somewhat divorced from Europe, not least because the procedure that led to the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon was troubled, not always clear and often open to criticism, the European institutions must persist in and commit themselves wholeheartedly to making the greatest possible number of documents available in good time, thus helping to close the gap.
Nevertheless, I am bound to lament the fact that the need to improve the legal framework regulating document access has been used to take the populist stance of dismissing the real need for confidentiality on some procedures, documents and information. As such, in an agreement between all the left-leaning groups in Parliament, leaving the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) out in the cold, a vision is being enshrined that goes far beyond normal public access to the institutions’ documents; I cannot vote for that.
José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. – (PT) We can say that transparency is the essence of democracy and should be at its service. As an example of democracy in action, the European Union felt the need to demonstrate to its citizens that it has nothing to hide, so it adopted its first regulation on transparency 10 years ago. This report, drafted by Mr Cashman, concerns the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission regarding public access to the documents of the EU institutions. Access to information and the documents of public bodies – while it can be embarrassing at times – is a fundamental right of the public and should be treated as such. Nevertheless, there is a need to safeguard a level of confidentiality on certain subjects, both for personal and copyright reasons, and to prevent those with privileged access to certain information from making improper use of it.
I voted for this report, because I believe there should be transparency on all the decisions of public bodies, provided that exceptions remain – as they seem to be – safeguarded: classified and confidential documents, and those relating to private life under the terms of the Statute for Members and the Staff Regulations.
João Ferreira and Ilda Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (PT) The public should be guaranteed access that is as user-friendly as possible to all documents dealt with by Union institutions, bodies, offices and agencies. Information and knowledge about what these authorities deal with and decide could play a fairly important part in the public knowing who made decisions and what they decided on areas that will, invariably, have a direct impact on their lives.
Although there is much room for improvement, this report is an important step towards making the EU institutions more transparent. That is why we voted in favour.
Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D), in writing. – (SK) Article 255 of the Treaty establishing the European Community, as amended by the Treaty of Amsterdam, grants citizens of the European Union and natural or legal persons residing or having their registered office in a Member State, the right of access to European Parliament, Council and Commission documents. The principles and limits governing this right of access have been determined by Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001 regarding public access to European Parliament, Council and Commission documents, which became applicable on 3 December 2001. However, as a number of substantive changes have been made to the regulation, it should be recast in the interests of clarity and better comprehensibility. Transparency in the legislative process is of utmost importance for citizens. Therefore, institutions should actively disseminate documents that are part of the legislative process, and dissemination should also be encouraged in other areas. On account of the highly sensitive content of certain documents, it should be borne in mind under all circumstances that they should be treated in a special and responsible manner.
Louis Grech (S&D), in writing. – I welcome the Cashman report on public access to EU documents, as I believe the proposed measures will help make our EU institutions more transparent and accountable to citizens. Citizens have a right to know that not only the European Commission and Parliament but also the Council of Ministers are accountable to them. At times, there is an unfair perception that important decisions are simply taken in Brussels and then ‘imposed’ on national governments. Making clear how ministers and prime ministers vote in the Council will allow citizens to be better informed about how decisions are made on EU policies that affect them. The report should also be welcomed because it clarifies rules and imposes limits on which EU documents can be classified. Parliament inserted a rule stating that EU documents can only be classified where their disclosure would undermine the essential interests of the EU or one of its Member States, most notably on public security and defence matters. My hope is that we can now have constructive negotiations with the Council and Commission to reach an agreement and enhance the EU’s accountability and credibility with citizens.
Nathalie Griesbeck (ALDE), in writing. – (FR) Eight years on from the entry into force of the European regulation on the right of access to the documents of the European Union’s institutions, the Court of Justice of the European Union and even the European Union Ombudsman’s investigations regularly criticise certain limitations and resistances in the implementation of this regulation. I therefore voted in favour of this new regulation, which lays down access to ALL documents (namely any content whatever its medium concerning a matter falling within the sphere of responsibility of the EU) held by ALL Union institutions, offices, bodies or agencies for all citizens, since the restrictions have been minimised. This is a clear step forward for transparency and democracy in the European Union. Our European institutions are constantly being accused of opacity and incomprehensibility and I hope that this regulation will enable more open, more direct access to the documents of our institutions.
Sylvie Guillaume (S&D), in writing. – (FR) I voted in favour of my colleague Mr Cashman’s report on public access to the documents of the European institutions since it sanctions a fundamental right laid down in the Charter of Fundamental Rights. Furthermore, this report sends out a message of transparency, accountability and democracy to citizens, allowing them to have wider and easier access to EU documents whatever their content and with few exceptions. This access is crucial at a time when the economic governance of the European Union is going to be reinforced. That is why I voted against the provisions of the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) aiming to weaken the transparency requirement, because it is important that citizens can be aware of decisions and they can exercise their right to democratic oversight.
Monika Hohlmeier and Renate Sommer (PPE), in writing. – (DE) We voted against the report on the recasting of the regulation on public access to documents. The report goes far beyond the objective of achieving greater transparency by improving public access to documents. Existing legislation and interinstitutional agreements are ignored and the protection of intellectual property, sensitive and personal data is treated with contempt. Administrative processes and decisions, including those relating to personnel issues, should be published. The same applies to the protection of trade secrets and sensitive information within the framework of approval procedures, court proceedings and competition procedures. The report contains definitions that are vague, lack clarity and cast their net too widely. Any data or content connected in any way with the policies, measures and decisions of all bodies and institutions of the EU is defined as a document. This largely also includes preparatory, confidential and secret documents, as well as all associated information. Thus, the definition covers not only documents, but also information. The publication of information from ongoing interinstitutional processes, such as informal trialogue negotiations, enables public access to the procedure. This would open up the possibility of external influence. Lobbyists would have direct access to the legislative process. This report does not benefit our citizens. It would lead to a deluge of useless information, leading to a greater lack of transparency and rendering our work impossible.
Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. – (LT) I supported the proposal because now, with the Treaty of Lisbon in force, the Commission is called upon to show more clearly to the citizens that it is ready to provide information in a more transparent way on how the EU institutions, offices, bodies and agencies operate. Legislators must also take this opportunity to try to make this regulation a real and unique legal framework of public accessibility to all documents handled by institutions, offices, bodies and agencies, bearing in mind that the final users are the citizens. We have a duty to make access to European Parliament, Council and Commission documents as easy and user-friendly as possible.
Philippe Juvin (PPE), in writing. – (FR) I voted against Mr Cashman’s report on public access to European Parliament, Council and Commission documents because it goes well beyond the simple aim of improving the transparency of the work of the European institutions. The report sets existing legislation aside and does not take account of the protection of personal and sensitive data. The report does not seem to be an improvement in favour of European citizens. It confuses documents and information and leads to excessive publication of useless documents that do not give citizens better information.
Marian-Jean Marinescu (PPE), in writing. – (RO) I voted against the report on public access to European Parliament, Council and Commission documents because this report does not help meet the European objective of greater transparency. Furthermore, it ignores current legislation and interinstitutional agreements. The text being proposed does not take into account either the protection of parties in the case of competition and personal data. The need for transparency must be a basic principle for European legislation, and the public must have the right to access any relevant document concerning EU legislation. However, this transparency must not create confusion and identify accessing documents with accessing information preceding certain institutional decisions. This kind of identification would be detrimental to the institutions as publishing unofficial information about ongoing procedures could mean that interinstitutional decisions are influenced by lobby groups, for instance. I think that having access to documents must have legal support, contribute to transparency and get rid of red tape, and not create confusion.
David Martin (S&D), in writing. – I voted for this proposal from my colleague Michael Cashman on public access to documents. It is a measured response to increasing demands from the European citizens but also from national institutions and regional authorities, primarily the national parliaments, for improved access to the documents held by the EU institutions.
Mario Mauro (PPE), in writing. – (IT) My group has always fought for maximum transparency in EU legislation and decision-making processes. I am therefore in favour of citizens having wide access to EU documents. The report in question goes far beyond these objectives and deals with issues that in my view absolutely cannot be subject to such a regulation. Secret and preparatory documents are an example of where it goes too far.
Mairead McGuinness (PPE), in writing. – The European Parliament is the most transparent of all EU institutions. Agendas and legislative documents, including amendments, are available online prior to any vote. Members of the public can follow committee and plenary proceedings in person or via live web-streaming. Voting results are published, including details of which MEPs voted and how they voted in the case of roll-call votes. Although this report prioritises transparency, it goes too far and actually poses a potential threat to the smooth working of Parliament. The text confuses ‘access to documents’ with ‘administrative procedures’ and goes beyond the remit of its legal base. This also puts into question the interinstitutional agreement on the use of classified material. Transparency is of the utmost importance, as is the ‘space to think’. Although I am in agreement with the main thrust of this report, I abstained in the final vote.
Jean-Luc Mélenchon (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (FR) Public disclosure of European Parliament, Council and Commission documents is a huge task. Even we MEPs have trouble getting hold of them and they often take weeks to be transcribed into EU languages. Only one amendment deals more specifically with the, nonetheless crucial, issue of languages. I am therefore voting against, to oppose the constant anti-French contempt of the European institutions, to which France gives very generously.
Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. – (PT) I voted against this report because I believe it goes too far with regard to legislative transparency. I cannot agree that important confidential documents should be made available on the Internet without any controls. Public access to the documents of the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission is important, but it should not be generalised, as there should be a right for sensitive documents to be kept private, so it should be possible for completely unrestricted access to these to be evaluated.
Gay Mitchell (PPE), in writing. – I wish to explain why the Irish EPP delegation abstained from the vote on the Cashman report. The European Parliament is the most transparent of the EU institutions with agendas and legislative documents, including amendments, available online prior to any vote. The public has the right to follow committee and plenary proceedings in person. Plenary sessions and committees are also web-streamed, allowing all EU citizens and journalists to follow sessions live. Voting results are published, including details of which MEPs voted and how they voted in the case of roll-call votes. Decision-making in the European Parliament in the absence of a standing governing coalition (like most national parliamentary systems) requires a permanent search for possible compromises. This ‘space to think’ needs to be safeguarded to preserve the functioning of the EP’s system of compromise. The Cashman report confuses access to documents with administrative procedures and goes beyond the remit of its legal base. This also puts into question the interinstitutional agreement on the use of classified material. The Irish EPP delegation fully supports transparency but public access to documents must also meet legal requirements. In this regard, we do not feel the Cashman report is satisfactory.
Radvilė Morkūnaitė-Mikulėnienė (PPE), in writing. – (LT) We often complain about the lack of public interest in the work of EU institutions. However, one of the reasons is that citizens do not know what is happening in those institutions and how decisions are taken, and they are unable to access institutions’ working documents and only see the final document, sometimes without understanding at what point of the discussions a certain provision appeared. There are of course some areas in which it is not possible to disclose all information. For example, when cases relating to the infringement of competition law are being examined, I feel that ensuring fair competition is of greater concern to citizens than access to documents. Thus, although I support the document in principle, I do not agree with all the approved amendments, for which reason I abstained in the final vote.
Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. – (PT) I voted for this report because I agree with the objectives of increasing transparency without making this instrument too specific and difficult to implement, and of improving the institutions’ practices by learning from past experience. Public access to European Parliament, Council and Commission documents could constitute a means of ensuring transparency in European decision making.
Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – In favour. The rapporteur, Mr Cashman, was also responsible for the proposal for revision of Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001. There he put forward some crucial modifications to the European Commission’s proposal presented on 30 April 2008. The European Parliament voted on and supported those on 11 March 2009. After the EP’s election in June 2009 Mr Cashman was reappointed as rapporteur on the dossier. On 1 December the Lisbon Treaty entered into force and to a large extent modified the legal framework for the revision of this regulation. Already in 2006 he drafted the resolution of the European Parliament approved overwhelmingly by MEPs, containing a list of recommendations for improvement of the current regulation. In this perspective, when the Commission presented its proposal for revision in 2008, expectations were very high as to how the standards on public access to EU documents could be improved. However, despite some positive modifications inserted in the proposal which are clearly justifiable, like the extension of the beneficiaries of this regulation, and conformity with the Aarhus Convention, others would, in my view, represent a step backwards for transparency, especially if we consider that most of the European Parliament’s requests of 2006 have not been taken into account.
Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. – (PT) The purpose of this report is for there to be more transparency in public access to the documents of all Union institutions, bodies, offices and agencies, pursuant to Article 255 of the Treaty of Lisbon. However, this proposal goes beyond its initial objective and regulates matters that it should not. In addition to violating the interinstitutional agreements in force and competition procedures, it jeopardises information that is personal and considered sensitive. The general definition of the concept ‘document’ also includes confidential and classified preparatory documents, and the very initiatives from negotiations, specifically informal trialogues. What will start happening is that the public will have access to negotiations and procedures, whose final conclusions the influence of such access could jeopardise.
For these reasons, I voted against this report, since transparency and access to EU documents should not exceed the bounds of private life, of data protection, and of the protection of trade secrets and information sensitive in legal and competition terms.
Silvia-Adriana Ţicău (S&D), in writing. – (RO) I voted for the legislative resolution on the proposal amending the regulation on public access to European Parliament, Council and Commission documents. Following the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon, the legal basis for public access to documents is Article 15(3) of the consolidated version of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU). This provision extends the right of public access to the documents of all EU institutions, bodies, offices and agencies. This regulation applies to all documents held by an EU institution, body, office or agency, which is understood to mean documents drawn up or received by the relevant entity and in its possession, in all areas of activity of the European Union. This provision applies to the Court of Justice of the European Union, the European Central Bank and the European Investment Bank only in the course of the performance of their administrative tasks.
Transparency should also strengthen the principles of good administration in EU institutions, bodies, offices and agencies, as provided for by Article 41 of the Charter and by Article 298 of TFEU. Internal administrative procedures should be defined accordingly and adequate financial and human resources should be made available to put the principle of openness into practice. The institutions take the measures necessary to establish a common interface for the institutional registers.
Derek Vaughan (S&D), in writing. – It is vitally important that EU institutions are made more transparent in order to encourage greater citizen participation. I voted in favour of this resolution, which takes a positive step towards a fully transparent and accountable EU. In addition to allowing citizens access to important information upon request this resolution also places importance on encouraging institutions to actively disseminate documents. This progressive resolution has my full support because it will bring the EU closer to its citizens and strengthen the democratic process.
Axel Voss (PPE), in writing. – I voted against the report on the revision of the regulation on public access to documents, because it goes far beyond the aim of more transparency. Existing legislation and interinstitutional agreements are ignored and the protection of competition cases, sensitive and personal data is disregarded. Bureaucratic procedures and decisions, which also comprise aspects regarding the staff, will be published. The same goes for intellectual property, business secrets and sensitive information in the context of admission procedures, trials and competition proceedings. The report provides woolly and vague definitions. Documents are taken to mean any data or content connected in any way with the EU’s policies, measures or decisions of the bodies and institutions. This also broadly includes preparatory, confidential and secret documents as well as all related information. Hence the definition comprises not only documents but also information. The publication of information about ongoing interinstitutional proceedings, e.g. informal trialogue negotiations, creates a public access to the procedure. This would open those negotiations to direct influence from outside, e.g. through lobbying. The report is not in the interests of our citizens. It would bring a flood of useless documents and information, thereby leading to less transparency and render our work impossible.
Angelika Werthmann (NI), in writing. – (DE) This regulation is in urgent need of review if it is to meet the provisions of the Treaty of Lisbon in relation to greater transparency. All documents must be made accessible to the public in order to enable the fastest possible response to the growing demands of our citizens and national institutions. At the same time, it is important to formulate the published documents clearly and to make access easier and more user-friendly for our citizens. Public access to documents strengthens trust in the EU among our citizens because it can make the decisions made at EU level easier to understand. Because the amended version of the proposed regulation ensures greater transparency without complicating the instrument, I have voted in favour.
Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. – (PT) I am voting for this report, since I believe there is scope to expand the activities of the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA), so that its existing experience and technical services can be applied to a wider range of policies. In particular, its traffic-monitoring systems could contribute to the creation of a European maritime space without barriers, which would allow goods and passengers to be transported by sea between Member States with no more formalities than if they went by road. This would avoid distorting competition in favour of the less environmentally friendly mode of transport. Similarly the EMSA could advise the Commission on enhancing the mutual compatibility of SafeSeaNet and the River Information System, so as to reduce administrative costs.
Sophie Auconie (PPE), in writing. – (FR) Created in 1999, following the oil spill caused by the loss of the petrol tanker Erika, the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) promotes cooperation between Member States in relation to maritime safety and prevention of pollution caused by ships. It also offers assistance in cases of serious pollution. The Deepwater Horizon disaster, which occurred after the explosion of an oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico, showed that it was necessary to bolster the Agency’s powers. That is why I voted in favour of the Fleckenstein report.
Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D), in writing – (LT) I voted in favour of this legislative resolution on the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA). The Commission’s proposals sets out to amend Regulation No (EC) 1406/2002 on the European Maritime Safety Agency so as to specify the EMSA’s current tasks and role more clearly and extend those tasks to new areas being developed at international and EU level. I agree that, in the area of research, the EMSA should participate more actively in EU marine research activities. EMSA assistance to the Commission and Member States in various international and regional organisations should also be defined more clearly, the different systems for monitoring the EMSA’s operational services should be merged and linked up, and the legal basis of the EMSA’s activities should be simplified with a view to developing the possibility of technical cooperation between the EMSA and neighbouring third countries. The EMSA’s powers should be extended to cover not just ships but also offshore oil and gas installations.
Sergio Berlato (PPE), in writing. – (IT) European citizens expect to be provided with efficient public services in the field of health, education, transport and security. However, we note in many Member States the inability to satisfactorily deal with the problem of waste management. In recent years, waste management has become a social problem of the utmost importance. The difficulty of managing these issues has negative effects not only on human health and well-being, but also on the environment in the broader sense. Although the Union adopted draft legislation to guarantee a suitable legal framework to deal with the problem, analysis of waste management policies yields conflicting information. Some Member States, including Denmark, the Netherlands, Austria and Sweden, are very advanced, while other EU countries have been very slow to implement strategies on waste, which has led to serious breaches of European legislation. It is clear to me that we need urgently to implement a consistent policy on waste management in Europe. I therefore agree with the rapporteur that the Commission’s proposal to establish a more proactive waste management monitoring procedure together with an early warning system in the area of compliance is a good one.
Mara Bizzotto (EFD), in writing. – (IT) There is no doubt that the basic premise of this report is highly commendable. However, it contains sections with which I do not agree. The first critical issue regards the fact that the changes to the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) rules will open up the possibility of Europe offering technical and scientific assistance on maritime safety issues to accession and neighbouring countries. This means that Turkey could benefit from assistance from the EMSA, something I cannot approve of. The second issue I do not agree with is the transfer of power from the Member States to the Commission in the Agency steering committee. I therefore voted against the report.
Vilija Blinkevičiūtė (S&D), in writing. – (LT) I voted in favour of this report because long-lasting changes are proposed with regard to the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA). The European Maritime Safety Agency, which was founded in 2002 and began operating in March 2003, aims to ensure an effective and uniform application of maritime safety and to protect and support anti-pollution mechanisms. The EMSA also provides Member States and the European Commission with scientific and technical assistance so that they are able to apply Community legislation. The activities of this agency are important because it has, since its inception, conducted more than 100 investigations of various kinds relating to safety, security and the prevention of pollution from ships. The Agency has also organised many events in its area of activity and drawn up detailed technical reports. The EMSA is thus recognised to be a well-run and efficient organisation offering Member States significant savings.
Maria Da Graça Carvalho (PPE), in writing. – (PT) The European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA), which provides aid and technical assistance in the areas of safety, has been playing an increasingly important role in defending the marine environment. I welcome the fact that this report strengthens aspects for which I have fought, and which have already been adopted during this sitting through the Ford report. These are prevention and response mechanisms in the case of environmental disasters relating to oil and gas platforms.
In the period of economic and financial crisis that we are currently experiencing, and with a view to economies of scale, it makes perfect sense to use existing infrastructure to expand the competences of the EMSA. I would stress the need for coordination at EU level and with neighbouring countries, so as to ensure best practices and the harmonisation of the various approaches to both preventing and responding to accidents in the EU’s various regions. Only with a global approach will we achieve greater safety in oil- and gas-sector activities as regards the environmental, economic and social damage caused by potential offshore accidents.
Corina Creţu (S&D), in writing. – (RO) I voted in favour of the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Regulation (EC) No 1406/2002 establishing a European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA). The Commission’s proposal is based on a 2008 consultation with EMSA’s stakeholders, an external evaluation and a Commission impact assessment. It also reflects EMSA’s five-year strategy, adopted by its Administrative Board. The Commission has also published a report (COM(2011)0286) showing that an EU oil spill detection and monitoring system reduces costs by around 20% compared to national systems.
EMSA has already been given new tasks as a result of the implementation of the third maritime safety package. It has concluded a number of stand-by oil spill response vessel contracts with private operators which will switch from their regular activity into pollution response mode in the event of an emergency. The Commission proposal makes clear that these vessels could also be used to combat pollution from other sources, including oil rigs.
Vasilica Viorica Dăncilă (S&D), in writing. – (RO) The European Union and its Member States are making considerable efforts to avert the impact of accidental pollution, especially in the case of maritime pollution caused by oil rigs or tankers. In fact, the proposal to set up a common European coastguard service is particularly welcome in situations like this, which require rapid intervention and efficient coordination of intervention actions.
Mário David (PPE), in writing. – (PT) The Lisbon-based European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) has been establishing itself as one of the main institutional players in the European and international maritime sector. Following the adoption of the third maritime package, the need has arisen to expand the EMSA’s scope of action, competences, tasks and mission. As such, I believe this Committee on Transport and Tourism report is in line with the already identified objectives of realising the future European maritime space without barriers: it puts in place better assistance for Member States in case of pollution from gas or oil platforms, it includes assistance for our neighbouring countries to reduce maritime pollution or in the case of disaster, and it introduces new procedures for improving the running of the EMSA. I would stress the important signal sent to our neighbouring countries, in the week in which we also voted on my report regarding the revision of the European Neighbourhood Policy. This report envisages more Europe: greater efficiency in the way it operates and a new role for our Union in the geographic area of which we are a part. Moreover, all of this is from the city of Lisbon. I voted for this report for all these reasons.
Christine De Veyrac (PPE), in writing. – (FR) I voted in favour of this report, which allows us to take another step towards an ambitious European maritime policy, suited to the maritime traffic off our coasts. It is vital that we arm ourselves with rapid reaction tools in order to contain the damage caused by accidents that could have disastrous environmental and economic consequences for Europe.
Edite Estrela (S&D), in writing. – (PT) I voted for this report, since I believe this agency has been making an important contribution to protecting the environment, limiting the number of maritime accidents and related damage. As such, I view increasing this institution’s mandate and resources positively.
Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. – (PT) The European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) was created in 2003, in response to the wreck of the oil tanker Erika and the resulting environmental impact. Since then, its mission has been focused on preventing sea disasters and on maritime safety. The intention now is to expand its activities by ‘developing a European maritime space without barriers’, which would enable the maritime transportation of goods and passengers between Member States with no more formalities than are applied to transportation by road. This mission is essential in the economic situation Europe is currently experiencing, since the sea could create important opportunities for business and trade that can and must only be encouraged.
José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. – (PT) The European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) was created by Regulation (EC) No 1406/2002 of the European Parliament and of the Council, with a view to responding to the problem created by the wreck of the oil tanker Erika on 12 December 1999, releasing 15 000 tonnes of fuel oil and polluting 450 km of the coast of Brittany. The EMSA’s mission is to provide assistance and technical support relating to maritime protection in pollution situations caused by ships, so it has a crucial role in defending the marine environment.
Both the protection of the oceans and the creation of mechanisms for controlling or combating pollution should be seen in global terms, so as to save resources and streamline procedures. In view of the experience of the EMSA, there is a need to expand its competences and provide it with funds so it can step up the fight against pollution and piracy, as well as supporting and monitoring fishing and transportation craft.
I welcome the adoption of this report, which will expand the competences of the EMSA, so contributing to our ability to enjoy a marine environment that is healthier, better protected and better able to ensure the survival of future generations.
João Ferreira and Ilda Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (PT) The European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) was created in 2003, as a supposed response to the oil tanker Erika’s accident. On the basis of just environmental concerns, the EMSA has imposed itself on national authorities and jurisdictions on a large scale. Imbued with the federalist and centralising spirit of the EU; it tramples Member State sovereignty over their maritime strategies, those with large exclusive economic zones (EEZs) in particular, such as Portugal, the EU country with the largest maritime area.
We are very concerned about the insistence on creating a so-called European Coastguard, because it will have responsibility for security, checks and monitoring; these are aspects of the sovereignty of the Member States, which guarantee such checks and monitoring, as well as the exploitation of their EEZs, through their national authorities. The report believes there is a need to realise a ‘European maritime space without barriers’, a European ‘Integrated Maritime Policy’, a ‘European Coastguard’, European-level satellite monitoring and automatic identification systems.
In the end, the just initial environmental concerns dissolve in exaggerated instruments and supranational policies, usurping responsibilities and competences that belong solely to each Member State, including their strategies and policies for cooperating with other Member States and third countries.
Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D), in writing. – (SK) Following the accident involving the oil tanker Erika and the major oil pollution caused by this accident, the Commission proposed a Regulation in late 2000 setting up the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) as a technical body with the aim of ensuring a high, uniform and effective level of maritime safety and the prevention of pollution by ships in the EU. The European Parliament and the Council adopted Regulation 1406/2002 on 27 June 2002. The regulation came into effect in August of the same year, while EMSA started operating in March 2003. In accordance with Article 22 of that regulation, its Administrative Board commissioned an independent external evaluation on the implementation of the regulation in 2007. Based on this evaluation, it issued recommendations regarding changes to the regulation, to the Agency and its working practices in June 2008. Certain provisions need to be clarified and updated and, in addition, EMSA should be given a number of further roles reflecting the development of maritime safety policy at EU and international levels. The extraction of oil and gas and offshore production activities pose risks to maritime transport and the marine environment. For this reason, it is important that the Agency, within its capabilities, makes the necessary efforts to minimise similar risks.
Pat the Cope Gallagher (ALDE), in writing. – The European Maritime and Safety Agency is regarded as an effective organisation, which provides EU Member States with significant savings. The EMSA is playing an important role in terms of reducing the risk of maritime accidents, marine pollution from ships and the loss of human life at sea. I fully support the proposal to provide the EMSA with greater scope to assist neighbouring countries as search and rescue operations know no geographical or political boundaries. However, it is regrettable that the Commission has yet to undertake a study into the creation of a European coastguard despite the adoption of the directive on ship source pollution which mandates the Commission to do so. I also welcome the fact that both Norway and Iceland are active members of the European Maritime and Safety Agency in my capacity as the Chairman of the European Parliament delegation to the EEA and EFTA states.
Nathalie Griesbeck (ALDE), in writing. – (FR) In 1999, the Erika sank off the coast of Brittany, leading to a terrible environmental disaster. In the aftermath, the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) was created to tackle marine pollution. More than 10 years on, and while the TK Bremen running aground recently off the Brittany coast came to give us a brutal reminder that an environmental disaster is always possible, I voted in favour of this report, which aims to strengthen the Agency’s role by extending its tasks. In addition to the technical and scientific assistance it already provides, the Agency will, in particular, be able take action on pollution caused by offshore oil and gas exploration and production activities. Last year, we saw in the Gulf of Mexico that the damage caused by this kind of accident is considerable. By strengthening EMSA’s powers, the European Union is giving itself the means to protect itself against this kind of disaster.
Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. – (LT) Offshore oil and gas exploration and extraction pose a risk to maritime transport and the marine environment. An important role in this area is played by the European Maritime Safety Agency in ensuring a high, uniform and effective level of maritime safety and prevention of pollution by ships. I believe that this Agency should act in the interest of the European Union. This should include that the Agency may act outside the territory of the EU in its fields of competence, promoting the European Union’s maritime safety policy by means of scientific and technical cooperation with third countries. The Agency’s wider tasks should be described clearly and precisely so that there is no duplication and any confusion is avoided. I am convinced that it is necessary to ensure a high, uniform and efficient level of maritime safety and security, using existing capabilities for assistance, preventing and tackling marine pollution, including from offshore oil and gas installations, and developing a European maritime space without barriers. I therefore voted in favour of this document.
Philippe Juvin (PPE), in writing. – (FR) I voted in favour of this report on the revision of the Regulation establishing a European Maritime Safety Agency, which aims to strengthen the Agency’s mandate by refocusing it on its two main tasks (maritime safety and security) while considering the means at its disposal to exercise its powers.
Petru Constantin Luhan (PPE), in writing. – (RO) EMSA was set up in 2003 as a result of the pollution caused by the loss of the oil tanker Erika. Its role is to ensure a high, uniform and effective level of maritime safety and prevent pollution caused by ships in the EU. The regulation proposed by the Commission refers to the fact that the Agency’s expertise in this area should be put to the best use, and its role in assisting and supporting the relevant bodies or entities (Commission and Member States) in respect of preventing pollution from oil installations should be strengthened.
We must expand EMSA’s activities so that its existing experience and technical services can be applied to a wider range of policies. The previous amendments which were applied to the Agency’s status are not adequate for tackling the new challenges that EMSA is going to face, as a large part of them are external challenges facing either just EMSA or EMSA and the EU in its entirety.
David Martin (S&D), in writing. – I voted for this report, which points out that an EU oil spill detection and monitoring system reduces costs by around 20% compared to national systems.
Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. – (PT) The loss of the Erika (1999) and the Prestige (2002) led the European Union to take several legislative measures to increase maritime security. That is the context of the creation of the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA), whose objective is to help the Commission and the Member States with maritime safety, with protecting maritime transport and with preventing pollution caused by ships.
I voted for the text tabled to amend the EMSA Regulation. The amendments in question will enable higher efficiency savings and lower costs, and are an important step towards an ambitious European maritime policy. These amendments develop rapid-response tools to prevent damage caused by maritime disasters, which can have very environmentally and economically serious consequences.
Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. – (PT) The European Maritime Safety Agency is generally recognised to be an effective, well-run organisation offering Member States significant savings by operating at European level with the economies of scale this generates. I voted for this report for these reasons.
Rovana Plumb (S&D), in writing. – (RO) The proposed regulation amending Regulation (EC) No 1406/2002 establishing a European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) provides an opportunity for strengthening the existing functions of EMSA so as to encourage the achievement of the environmental protection objectives and boost the accident response capacity in EU waters. The Agency’s tasks relate to both accidental and illegal spills. They initially focused on pollution caused by oil and gas. However, since 2007 the Agency has also been actively involved with maritime pollution caused by hazardous and harmful substances (such as chemicals).
The Agency should carry out inspections in third countries in the Mediterranean, Black Sea and Baltic Sea regions in whose waters oil and gas exploration and production activities are taking place, and assist those third countries in strengthening their capacity to improve the safety of their offshore operations. Cooperation with third countries in carrying out tasks should be strengthened in order to enable swifter action. Setting up the oil and gas spill detection and monitoring system at EU level also costs the European taxpayer less (decrease of around 20%) and is more effective than doing it at national level.
Crescenzio Rivellini (PPE), in writing. – (IT) In today’s plenary session we voted on the report on the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA). EMSA was set up in response to the pollution called by the loss of the oil tanker ‘Erika’. It started operating in March 2003. The founding Regulation has been modified three times. This latest revision by the Commission should aim at long-lasting changes, even if it takes more time to negotiate.
The report maintains that increasing the workload of EMSA must realistically be reflected in budgetary and staff terms in order to be able to deal with the new tasks proposed by the Commission, which are to contribute to traffic monitoring systems in order to achieve the creation of a European maritime space without barriers; to assist the Commission and Member States in the prevention of pollution from oil spills and provide for an enhanced role for the existing system CleanSeaNet; and to assist neighbouring countries in reducing pollution risks.
Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – In favour. The Commission’s proposal is based on a 2008 consultation with EMSA’s stakeholders, an external evaluation and a Commission impact assessment. It also reflects EMSA’s five-year strategy, adopted by its Administrative Board (where all Member States are represented). The Commission has also published a report (COM(2011)286) showing that an EU oil spill detection and monitoring system reduces costs by around 20% compared to national systems. EMSA has already been given new tasks as a result of the implementation of the third maritime safety package. It has concluded a number of ‘stand-by oil spill response vessel contracts’ with private operators who will switch from their regular activity into pollution response mode in case of emergency. The Commission proposal would make clear that such vessels could also be used to combat pollution from other sources, including oil rigs. Norway and Iceland are the only third countries who participate in EMSA. The Commission recommends extending the possibility of technical assistance to accession countries, European neighbourhood partners and countries taking part in the Paris Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).
Licia Ronzulli (PPE), in writing. – (IT) The European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) was set up in response to the pollution caused by the loss of the oil tanker ‘Erika’ and started operating in March 2003. The founding regulation has been modified three times. This latest revision should aim at long-lasting changes, even if it takes more time to negotiate. Parliament’s resolution of 7 October 2010 said EMSA’s mandate ‘should be extended from vessels to offshore installations’ and calls ‘for the conferral of any such new tasks to be reflected in the EMSA’s budget and staff numbers’. Additional tasks for EMSA need to be realistically reflected in its budget and staff. Otherwise there would be a threat to its core function of promoting maritime safety.
Vilja Savisaar-Toomast (ALDE), in writing. – (ET) In today’s vote, I supported the report that broadens the authority of the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA). During the eight years, it has operated, EMSA has done effective work in the area of both maritime safety and maritime pollution. It is an efficient and well-managed organisation. As mentioned above, the EMSA mandate will be broadened, offering an opportunity to shape the common maritime area and common market, using both a so-called blue zone pilot project and also satellite monitoring systems. The EMSA will also be assigned an important role in the training and raising of the qualifications of European Union seamen, and also in making the seaman’s profession more attractive. The third important additional role is the monitoring of gas and petroleum installations. I consider the EMSA’s coordinative role, which makes it possible to utilise member states’ maritime safety resources and skills more rationally, to be vital.
Sergio Paolo Francesco Silvestris (PPE), in writing. – (IT) This proposal amending Regulation (EC) No 1406/2002 establishing a European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) has my wholehearted support. We need greater cooperation between the Agency, Member States and the Commission, so that EMSA can provide us with technical, operational and scientific assistance in the field of action against pollution caused by ships and our response to marine pollution caused by oil from oil and gas installations, and in order to support Member States’ marine pollution response action mechanisms. Concerning EMSA’s competence with regard to satellite technology — GMES — I would like to underline that, given the considerable national resources invested and the satellite systems currently in orbit, governance of the European satellite systems is a sensitive issue. Therefore I do not believe that it is appropriate to extend the Agency’s competence to include the governance of space resources. In view of the significance in terms of international politics and the security of maritime governance (especially the southern maritime border of the EU), I think that the role of Member States with regard to EMSA’s governance should be safeguarded.
Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. – (PT) The purpose of amending the regulation establishing the European Maritime Safety Agency is to expand the competences of this agency, which has proved its technical ability. As such, this recasting steps up prevention of, assistance from and struggle against marine pollution, specifically from oil and gas platforms. In order for this performance to continue, this adjustment should be accompanied, wherever necessary, by a redeployment of staff and funds.
This report is of the greatest importance at a time when the EU is investing in its maritime aspect, so as to tackle the economic crisis we are experiencing by strengthening what is known as the ‘blue economy’. The interminable riches of the ocean are global. A disaster in the north Atlantic will have harmful effects throughout the Atlantic. A response is therefore needed, as is cooperation with third countries. Cooperation between European agencies and European institutions is very important, since the former have technical skills essential to developing sectoral European policy.
Silvia-Adriana Ţicău (S&D), in writing. – (RO) I voted for the resolution on the proposal amending Regulation (EC) No 1406/2002 establishing a European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) as the purpose of extending EMSA’s powers is to ensure a high, uniform and effective level of maritime safety and prevent pollution by ships.
Although EMSA must focus on its priority tasks in the area of maritime safety, the Agency should also receive a number of additional tasks reflecting the development of the maritime safety policy at EU and international level. The Agency has already demonstrated that certain tasks, such as satellite monitoring systems, can be carried out more efficiently at European level. Where these systems can be deployed to support other policy objectives, this offers Member States savings on their national budgets and represents genuine European added value. EMSA must act in the interest of the EU and follow Commission guidelines, promoting the EU’s maritime safety policy by means of scientific and technical cooperation with third countries.
Within one year of the date of the new regulation’s entry into force, the Commission will submit a study on a national coastguard coordination system, clarifying the costs and benefits of it.
Marie-Christine Vergiat (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (FR) I abstained on the amendment of this regulation. In 2006, this regulation established the European Maritime Safety Agency, the main objective of which was to prevent maritime disasters. Among the amendments, I supported those which reaffirm this objective by citing historical examples such as that of the Erika. It is more essential than ever for the Member States to work together to fight against those who pollute our seas and to limit as much as possible the consequences of disasters that occur. However, this objective could be undermined if this agency’s mandate is extended, thereby weakening its efforts to preserve the seas and coastlines, among many other objectives.
Oldřich Vlasák (ECR), in writing. - (CS) I voted against draft Regulation (EC) No 1406/2002, setting up the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA). There are several reasons for this. First, the Regulation has now been modified three times, the last amendment going through in 2006. In my opinion, however, we should amend the legislation as little as possible. Secondly, the aim of the proposed amendments to the Regulation is to expand the tasks of EMSA. I, however, consider the proposed set of tasks for the Agency to be too wide, and it seems to me that the proposed Regulation lacks a clear specification of competences. Thirdly, I have concerns over setting the budget. I firmly believe, that is, that the additional tasks of EMSA should be addressed by redeploying the existing staff of the Agency, and not by taking on new staff.
Dominique Vlasto (PPE), in writing. – (FR) I endorsed this text, which forms a satisfactory basis for second reading. I regret that several of my colleagues have distorted the fundamental tasks of the European Maritime Safety Agency, by extending them to irrelevant areas. We need to be realistic and only ask the Agency to do what it is able, particularly at a time of budgetary cuts. It should remain the rightful organisation for guaranteeing security and safety in EU maritime areas. In my view, the Agency should be responsible for preventing any cause of pollution and have adequate means to do so, and to tackle its disastrous effects for the environment and human health, offshore and onshore. Originally created to prevent disasters like the loss of the Erika being repeated, the Agency is fundamental to the protection of our seas. I shall remain vigilant to ensure that its action is both useful and effective and that it can take action in coordination with the Member States. The seas are fragile ecosystems, overexploited spaces, where dangerous or illegal activities take place. It is up to us to protect them, by giving ourselves the means to preserve them. That is the scope of this Regulation and that is my ambition.
Angelika Werthmann (NI), in writing. – (DE) The European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA), which has been in existence since 2003, is in need of reorganisation, as well as a broadening of its remit. Of particular importance are effective measures and sanctions to combat ship-source pollution. It must also be a function of EMSA to make maritime employment more attractive and to advise the Member States in that connection. I have voted in favour.
Iva Zanicchi (PPE), in writing. – (IT) I voted in favour of the text presented by Mr Fleckenstein that amends the founding regulation of the European Maritime Security Agency (EMSA). By clarifying the Agency’s tasks in greater detail than in the past, the amendments introduced aim to improve efficiency and reduce costs. The EMSA’s various tasks will therefore include assistance in the prevention of pollution from offshore oil and gas mining installations, in combating piracy and traffic at sea, and in expanding traffic monitoring systems in order to achieve a European maritime space without barriers.
Artur Zasada (PPE), in writing. – (PL) In today's vote, I supported the document on the European Maritime Safety Agency. The EMSA has repeatedly proved that it represents an important link in the European security system. In view of the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, I agree with the proposal to extend the EMSA’s powers to include the supervision of platforms extracting gas and crude oil. I also agree with the new priorities regarding which we have reached an interinstitutional compromise: the implementation of the concept of a European maritime space without barriers, the promotion of maritime professions and improvements to the safety of offshore installations. At the same time, in the context of today’s debate I would like to remind the Commission of an idea that I brought up some time ago. I propose the establishment of a joint European Centre for Maritime Education. The purpose of such a centre would be to coordinate changes to the educational programmes of tertiary maritime institutions in the European Union and to adjust them to the changing needs of maritime transport in the Community.
Janusz Władysław Zemke (S&D) in writing. – (PL) I voted for the regulation extending the scope of the activities of the Maritime Safety Agency. During the eight years it has been active, the Agency has proved itself to be ever more efficient. However, I would like to draw attention to the fact that extending the scope of the Agency’s work must also involve additional financial resources. In the period 2007-2013, EUR 154 million were allocated to the Agency. Its financial future is currently entirely unclear. I am afraid, therefore, that extending the scope of the Agency’s activities, which is the right thing to do, will fall foul of a lack of additional funds.
Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. – (PT) I am voting for this report, since there is an urgent need for independent investigation of violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms by the Syrian Government. For this to happen, the country needs to allow in members of international organisations. In this area, the EU should play a leading role in a series of actions intended to put this country on a path to democracy and respect for human rights. Syria should be called on to immediately open its borders to the Syrian refugees that have been persecuted and intimidated by their government.
Adam Bielan (ECR), in writing. – (PL) According to the UN's latest estimates, President Assad’s bloody and unceasing crackdown on the people has already cost the lives of more than four thousand victims, mostly civilians. The European Parliament is debating the problem of Syria once again, as it has repeatedly in recent months, which is a clear indication of the need to intensify activities in order to stabilise the situation in the country. While supporting the resolution, I wish to express my regret at the Russian and Chinese veto of the Security Council’s resolution condemning the Syrian regime. At the same time, I demand the immediate cessation of violence against the citizens of Syria. The position of the Arab League, on the other hand, which is striving for a peaceful settlement of the conflict, is encouraging. I would also like to give particular recognition to Turkey, for granting asylum to a huge number of refugees. At the same time, I appeal for diplomatic action against Iran, which still actively supports the Syrian regime and its brutal repressions. Putting an end to the bloodshed must be the overriding aim of our policy towards Syria.
Sebastian Valentin Bodu (PPE), in writing. – (RO) The Syrian regime must be strongly condemned by a democratic region like the EU where human rights are a fundamental value. There is clear evidence of the brutal measures of repression being deployed by the Syrian regime against its own people, including children and women, with the latter actually making a sizeable contribution to the fight for democracy in Syria. The Syrian authorities must cease immediately the violent repression against peaceful demonstrators and the harassment of their families, and release all the protesters, political prisoners and journalists being held in detention.
The regime in Damascus must allow access without delay to international humanitarian, human rights and international mass media organisations. This is the only way for Syria’s leaders to demonstrate goodwill and their commitment to democratic values. This step must be taken while, at the same time, carrying out transparent independent inquiries investigating systematic, serious and large-scale violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms, perpetrated by the Syrian authorities and military security forces. All those responsible for this must be brought to account without delay in an international forum. The Syrian people have legitimate demands and national political dialogue must be promoted, involving all the democratic forces and civil society in Syria.
Corina Creţu (S&D), in writing. – (RO) Unfortunately, the ‘Arab Autumn’ has not provided us with the same grounds for hope as the Arab Spring. The hard stance adopted by the Syrian Government has made the government’s opponents adopt just as hard a stance, where a military solution seems to be the only way to resolve the crisis. I do not believe that it is in the EU’s interest to advocate in Syria a similar solution to that applied in Libya. I do not believe that diplomacy has exhausted all the solutions for Syria. Violence is never the solution in such situations, but only complicates matters, not to mention the suffering of the innocent.
One important aspect is getting all the members of the international community to abide by the sanctions. One possibility is that dialogue with the Russian Federation, China and other traditional allies of Syria, who do not look kindly on sanctions, could bring about a change of attitude. What is certain is that it is our duty to do everything that depends on us to halt the repression on the streets of Syria’s towns, and to make the democratisation process become a reality.
Proinsias De Rossa (S&D), in writing. – Bashar al-Assad must immediately resign as President of Syria. His dictatorial regime is facing increasing international isolation because of its continuing brutal repression of the Syrian people. The UN Security Council should refer the crimes against humanity committed by the al-Assad regime against the Syrian people to the International Criminal Court. I welcome the sanctions imposed by the EU on the Syrian regime on 14 November and 1 December and would encourage the EU and the UN to introduce further measures that target the Syrian regime but that minimise the negative impact on the Syrian people. I applaud the courage and determination of the Syrian people, particularly its women, in their struggle for freedom, dignity and democracy. The Syrian opposition should seek to establish a united platform committed to achieving freedom and democracy and respect for human rights for all in Syria. It should continue to engage with the international community. The EU must be ready to develop a new partnership with Syria once al-Assad goes and a transition to democracy begins.
Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. – (PT) The regime of Bashar al-Assad’s Ba’ath Party is virtually isolated on the international stage, is showing the first signs of disintegration, and has already been condemned by, inter alia, the United Nations, the Arab League, the European Union and the United States.
The day on which we have awarded the Sakharov Prize 2011 to five leading players in the Arab Spring, two of whom are Syrian, is a time to remember the people who have been victims of the regime’s police and military forces – the UN is already talking about 5 000 deaths – and to hope the international community will be able to keep up the pressure on it, so as to contribute to real change in Syria. I am bound to regret that, despite the recent promises made by Mr Assad regarding a new constitution, free elections, and freedom of the individual and of association, the reality shows that these have not, to date, gone beyond empty declarations.
It falls to the European Union to support the efforts of the moderates taking centre stage in the desire for change in Syria, and to work towards making possible the realisation of the Arab Spring that this Chamber is celebrating today.
José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. – (PT) The social and political upheavals for the establishment of democratic regimes that have taken place in some countries of the southern Mediterranean, known as the ‘Arab Spring’, have reached Syria too. However, President Bashar al-Assad and his regime, despite all the condemnations made by the EU and various international institutions, in particular the Arab League, insist on ‘riding out’ a totalitarian regime that does not respect a bare minimum of human rights. Indeed, there are reports of persecution of doctors simply for having treated victims of the regime, and of blocking access to detainees and the entry of humanitarian aid to a population whose situation is worsening because of the cuts in the electricity and water supplies. The brutal repression of thousands of civilians is unleashing an arms race. Civil war and the massacre of the population are feared. There is therefore an urgent need for the Syrian regime to stop the violence and accept the constitution of a single platform, with the participation of the regime’s opponents, so as to prepare the transition to democracy.
As such, I voted for this joint motion for a resolution. I would also express my solidarity with the Syrian people and my support for all measures decided on in the UN.
João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (PT) This resolution is part of a repeat of the process that led to NATO intervention in Libya. The pressures and manipulations included in this report demonstrate that.
By openly supporting interference and the violation of international law, the majority in Parliament is seeking to shape reality in line with the ambitions of NATO and its major powers. By stating that ‘the Syrian Government has failed to meet its responsibility to protect its population’, they are seeking to create the conditions for imposing ‘humanitarian corridors’; this is a term well known from other incidences of military aggression – the Balkans and Libya – and means military intervention. It is no accident that they are hiding the demonstrations in Syria, defending the Syrian people’s sovereignty and the country’s territorial integrity, and rejecting any foreign intervention. A military escalation in Syria brings the danger of destabilising the whole region.
The situation is complex, so the road has more obstacles to realising the ambitions of imperialism. Russia and China do not seem disposed to adopt another resolution in the UN Security Council paving the way for military intervention, as they did with Libya. Obviously, we voted against this resolution.
Ilda Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (PT) What we have here is a repeat of the manipulation and pressure that led to NATO intervention in Libya. By openly supporting interference and the violation of international law, the majority in Parliament is seeking to reshape reality in line with the ambitions of NATO and regional countries that intend to intervene militarily in Syria, specifically Turkey.
By stating that ‘the Syrian Government has failed to meet its responsibility to protect its population’, they are seeking to create the conditions for imposing ‘humanitarian corridors’ at the Syrian-Turkish borders, which could only be done by means of military intervention. They explicitly support the Free Syrian Army and recourse to internal confrontation, so as to unleash a civil war. Moreover, they hide the fact that the common thread running through almost all the demonstrations that have taken place in Syria has been defending the Syrian people’s sovereignty and the country’s territorial integrity, and rejecting any foreign intervention, regardless of what changes it intends.
A military escalation in Syria brings the danger of destabilising the whole region. The situation is complex and the road is full of obstacles to the ambitions of imperialism. Russia and China do not seem disposed to repeat what they did with Libya in the UN Security Council.
Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D), in writing. – (SK) According to UN estimates, more than 4 000 people, including more than 300 children, have been killed, many more have been injured, more than 14 000 have allegedly been detained, and tens of thousands are seeking refuge in neighbouring countries or have been internally displaced since March 2011. This intolerable situation in Syria is due to the brutal repression of the people by the ruling regime, despite the fact that such conduct was unequivocally condemned at international level. Violent crackdowns and gross human rights violations by the Syrian authorities and military and security forces against civilians unfortunately continue and are intensifying. Reforms and amnesties declared and promised by President Bashar al-Assad have yet to materialise and the regime has lost all credibility as a result. An increasing number of Syrians are facing a deteriorating humanitarian situation that is leading to a humanitarian crisis, systematically increasing violence, and violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms. It is essential that the Syrian authorities and military and security forces immediately cease all acts of violence, torture, persecution and repression against the civilian population and immediately release all political prisoners held in arbitrary detention. Efforts must be made for a prompt, independent and transparent investigation to ensure that all those responsible for these crimes against humanity are arrested and answer for their actions.
Sylvie Guillaume (S&D), in writing. – (FR) I strongly support the European Parliament resolution on the situation in Syria since it is vital that the international community and the European Union continue to put strong and constant pressure on the Syrian regime to stop the violent and brutal repression of the population. The regime has already caused the unacceptable deaths of 5 000 men, women and children, including 15 killed on Monday 12 December, and it has done so with total impunity. We therefore urgently need to step up our joint efforts to demand the resignation of Bachar al-Assad and that investigations be set up into potential crimes against humanity.
Takis Hatzigeorgiou (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (EL) The Syrian authorities must immediately stop using violence, so as to put an end to the vicious circle of bloodshed that only serves outside interests. An urgent response is also needed to the fair demands of the Syrian people, who are calling for reforms to improve their quality of life. However, we must not forget that the Syrian people alone have the right to resolve their internal political problems and to determine the future of their country, without foreign interference and intervention. We abstained in the vote on Syria, because we cannot consent to policymaking which paves the way for military intervention in a sovereign state that will have the same tragic consequences as we saw in Yugoslavia, Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya. We cannot endorse the cover-up of the interventionist policy being developed inside Syria by the US and neighbouring countries, led by Turkey. The international community is not helping by imposing sanctions that will inevitably be paid for by the Syrian people. Most importantly, an internal dialogue needs to be started in Syria, in the aim of finding a peaceful, political solution to the current dangerous situation threatening the country and its people. The EU should support the institution of an internal dialogue in Syria.
Eija-Riitta Korhola (PPE), in writing. – (FI) I welcome the fact that the European Parliament is once again adopting a tough position on the situation in Syria, and that is why I voted in favour of this resolution.
The series of events known as the Arab Spring has shown that people in the Arab countries do not in fact support a situation in which the leaders have no democratic mandate. The way of thinking in the West during the Cold War, where dictators were tolerated, if not even favoured, if it only suited the political aims of one’s own camp, was so deeply rooted, that the speed of events came as a surprise to Western countries used to realpolitik. If Muammar Gaddafi had succeeded in quashing the revolution in Libya when it began, it would inevitably have been followed by large-scale and thorough acts of revenge against the civilian population. There is a real danger that something similar will happen in Syria, if foreign pressure eases off and those currently in power re-establish their position.
Unfortunately, from the historical point of view, economic sanctions alone have only worked in a handful of cases in modern times, and, on the whole, have mainly targeted that section of the population whose interests one is trying to promote. We therefore have to prepare for the possibility that military intervention is unavoidable. After all, Turkey has already unilaterally established a security zone close to its border, which the international community has, at least implicitly, approved.
United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973, which freed the people of Libya, was epoch-making. With it, Europe adopted a long-term, real initiative in global policy. If no peaceful solution is found for the crisis in Syria, we will have to prepare for a situation in which there will once again be a need for a similar initiative.
David Martin (S&D), in writing. – I voted for this resolution, which calls on the Syrian regime to lift the siege of Homs and allow in international aid and relief efforts and to withdraw all Syrian forces from the towns and cities of Syria
Jean-Luc Mélenchon (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (FR) The resolution condemns the repression conducted by the Syrian regime. It advocates a peaceful transition and calls on opposition forces to avoid militarisation of the conflict. It condemns the active collaboration of European businesses with the Syrian regime. I support it for these reasons.
However, the text calls for humanitarian corridors to be created by the Security Council. That necessarily involves military deployment in Syria. The text also proposes that the European Union, the Arab League, Turkey and the opposition negotiate the conditions for this. Such negotiations should take place within the United Nations. The presence of the Arab League, which approved of the repression in Bahrain, is inappropriate.
Binding clauses preventing the risk of military escalation should be guaranteed. Using the resolution on Libya to get NATO to intervene should serve as a lesson. The text lays down nothing of the sort. I am voting against, out of distrust.
Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. – (PT) Given that the violent crackdowns and serious human rights violations by the Syrian authorities and military and security forces against non-violent civilians continue to intensify, and that cities and towns are being kept under siege by government-led forces, without access to food, medical supplies or communications, I reiterate condemnation of the Syrian regime’s brutal crackdown and call for every effort to be made to make the country’s transition to democracy viable. The regime is losing all credibility, and the situation has been a threat to the security and stability of the entire Middle Eastern region.
Andreas Mölzer (NI), in writing. – (DE) The measures taken by the EU to date, such as the weapons embargo, the freezing of accounts and the bans on investment and on the import of oil, are certainly hitting the Syrian economy. It is important that not only the West, but also the Arab League and the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf, should call on President Assad to implement serious reforms and to end the bloodshed. When one considers developments such as the recent general strikes, it would also seem that resistance is growing among the population. Even though the opposition is now touring the major powers in an effort to drum up support, it must be clear that there can be no question of military intervention on the part of the European Union. For this reason I have voted in favour of the resolution.
Radvilė Morkūnaitė-Mikulėnienė (PPE), in writing. – (LT) So far, 5 000 have fallen victim to the regime and more and more people are dying in Syria every day, including hundreds of children. Against this background, the search for solutions by the Arab League and other international players is to be welcomed, but it is deplorable that it has so far not been possible for the UN Security Council to reach agreement because of the veto of some countries. Is the fact that these countries’ governments fail to distance themselves from the Assad regime, which has now lost legitimacy, an indication that they justify the brutal crackdown on peaceful protestors and would take similar action against their own citizens? This is a worrying signal to the citizens of the countries concerned. If the situation continues to evolve in the same direction, Syria could trigger a general armed conflict and humanitarian disaster. The international community must take action to avoid that.
Alfredo Pallone (PPE), in writing. – (IT) Unfortunately the situation in Syria is not a simple one. Debates on the issue have become increasingly heated due to the constant critical developments. Since last spring there has been a period of tough conflict and demonstrations throughout Syria, in an attempt to achieve something of which we are all exporters and custodians — democracy. In these areas of the world, the word democracy — people power — seems a utopia, something so distant and unattainable and seen as a threat. Those in power cannot conceive that there could be cooperation, equality and peaceful dialogue between the parties in order to build a better country, and for the sake of holding onto their power and their prestige they are prepared to risk destroying their people. The current situation is still dramatic, and there needs to be more respect and an immediate solution needs to be found.
Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. – (PT) I voted for this resolution because I agree with the call for a peaceful and genuine transition to democracy that meets the legitimate demands of the Syrian people and is based on an inclusive process of political dialogue at national level, with the involvement of all the country’s democratic political forces and civil-society organisations.
Crescenzio Rivellini (PPE), in writing. – (IT) Today we voted on a compromise resolution between various political groups strongly condemning the Syrian Government’s repression of civilians. Personally I am following the unfolding of events in Syria with trepidation, in particular because I believe it is important to think carefully about the possible ways for resolving the crisis before considering potential solutions which could have long-term consequences that might be even more destabilising.
If, on the one hand, it is absolutely crucial and necessary to guarantee respect for freedom of expression, and above all the safety of citizens, it is however equally important to consider the viewpoint of the international community, and especially to ensure that if a change in government is possible, it does not involve people who would upset the already fragile political balance in the region.
Robert Rochefort (ALDE), in writing. – (FR) The situation in Syria is deeply worrying. Despite widespread international condemnation, the Syrian authorities continue their brutal repression against their population, and continue to commit grave human rights violations against non-violent civilians. The toll of this repression is tragic: according to United Nations estimates, since March 2011, more than 5 000 people, including over 300 children, have been killed, and many more have been injured, more than 14 000 people are reported to have been detained and tens of thousands of others have sought refuge in neighbouring countries or have been internally displaced in Syria. By voting for this resolution, I wanted to once again condemn, in the strongest terms, the Syrian regime’s brutal repression against its population, and to reaffirm my solidarity with the Syrian people in their non-violent struggle for freedom, dignity and democracy. We again call for President Bachar al-Assad and his regime to relinquish power immediately so that a political transition can take place in Syria.
Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – In favour. According to UN estimates, since the start of the violent crackdown on peaceful protesters in Syria in March 2011, more than 4 000 people have lost their lives, including 307 children, and thousands more have been injured, arrested or tortured or have disappeared as a result of the brutal repression by the Syrian regime against its population. The UNHRC resolution of 2 December highlights in particular the extensive violations of children’s rights and the sexual violence against civilians, including against male detainees and children, committed by the Syrian armed and security forces. The EP had to react.
Tokia Saïfi (PPE), in writing. – (FR) Yet another resolution on Syria. The brutal repression currently being conducted by the Syrian regime against its people is scandalous and has to stop. Bachar al-Assad no longer has any legitimacy, he must relinquish power immediately and put an end to the repression against Syrian men and women, who simply aspire to more freedoms. Every day that passes brings us closer to a major humanitarian crisis. Today already almost 7% of the population are affected, particularly women, children and the elderly. Recently, a tenth set of sanctions was adopted by the European Union, but we must continue to put pressure on the Syrian regime. Sanctions must be targeted, minimising the adverse repercussions for the population. I call for the immediate release of the protesters, political prisoners, human rights defenders and journalists who are currently being detained.
Sergio Paolo Francesco Silvestris (PPE), in writing. – (IT) In the light of the constant deterioration in the situation in Syria, the EU is continuing its efforts to increase pressure on the Syrian regime. Since last August, the EU has maintained that President Assad has lost all legitimacy and must stand down. Last November the list of entities subject to restrictive methods was extended, and at the same time the European Investment Bank suspended its loans to Syria. Sanctions were applied in the oil sector and on investments in September, and tightened on 1 December. Measures regarding equipment for telephone and Internet tapping were also added. Recently there have also been suggestions that there will be a proposal for creating a humanitarian corridor in Syria. To sum up, in the light of the above, I believe that the best solution could be to strengthen the connection between the EU and Turkey with regard to the possible outcome of the Syrian crisis, bearing in mind the crucial role played by Ankara.
Charles Tannock (ECR), in writing. – I voted, along with my group, the ECR, in favour of the joint text on Syria. In recent weeks and months, the situation in Syria has been extremely unsettled, with widespread protest against the Al-Assad regime since March of this year. The method used by the government to control the situation has been violent repression, and many protesters have lost their lives exercising their fundamental human right to freedom of expression, with the UN estimating that 4 000 people, mostly civilians, have lost their lives so far. We voted in favour of the proposed text as we feel that it highlights well both the plight of the Syrian people and the crimes committed by its government. It takes a strong line, as required, that urges the government not only to put a stop to the violent repression of its population and to launch independent investigations into the actions of its security forces, but also to instigate a system of democratic reform in order to widen political participation and to lift its censorship of newspapers and the Internet.
Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. – (PT) Since March 2011, the disturbances in Syria, undertaken by the authorities led by the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, have led to numerous attacks on the Syrian people, including executions, unjustified imprisonments, and innumerable deaths and casualties. The sieges of countless towns have left the people without access to food, health care or communications. Despite the sanctions imposed by the EU and the international community’s demands for an end to the massacres, the Syrian authorities are ignoring these repeated calls. The refusal of China and Russia to apply sanctions as permanent members of the United Nations Security Council shows that the multilateralism of this international organisation is blocking measures crucial to global stability. However, I welcome the efforts of the Arab League to thwart the actions of the Syrian national authorities. These continued human rights violations must be stopped. The EU must speak with a single voice and encourage its international partners to cooperate, in order to bring an end to the atrocities being committed by the Syrian authorities.
Kyriacos Triantaphyllides (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (EL) The Syrian authorities must immediately stop using violence, so as to put an end to the vicious circle of bloodshed that only serves outside interests. An urgent response is also needed to the fair demands of the Syrian people, who are calling for reforms to improve their quality of life. However, we must not forget that the Syrian people alone have the right to resolve their internal political problems and to determine the future of their country, without foreign interference and intervention. We abstained in the vote on Syria, because we cannot consent to policymaking which paves the way for military intervention in a sovereign state that will have the same tragic consequences as we saw in Yugoslavia, Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya. We cannot endorse the cover-up of the interventionist policy being developed inside Syria by the US and neighbouring countries, led by Turkey. The international community is not helping by imposing sanctions that will inevitably be paid for by the Syrian people. Most importantly, an internal dialogue needs to be started in Syria, in the aim of finding a peaceful, political solution to the current dangerous situation threatening the country and its people. The EU should support the institution of an internal dialogue in Syria.
Marie-Christine Vergiat (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (FR) I abstained from voting on the European Parliament resolution on Syria. This resolution asserts its support of the Syrian people and strongly condemns Bachar al-Assad’s regime, but remains relatively vague with regard to measures that could be taken by the EU or the international community. In particular, the resolution calls for ‘the sending of international observers to deter attacks against civilians’ and ‘to find new ways of strengthening their non-military assistance to these opposition forces’. The vaguest paragraph concerns the UN Security Council and says that it has not been able to respond to the events in Syria (that is quite true but whose fault is it?) and that it now must assume its responsibility (let us suppose), but without specifying how. I therefore preferred to abstain from voting on this resolution. I welcome, however, the awarding of the Sakharov prize this week to Razan Zaitouneh (Syrian human rights lawyer) and to Ali Farzat (Syrian cartoonist), which is a powerful symbol of Parliament’s support of the Syrian people’s struggle.
Angelika Werthmann (NI), in writing. – (DE) According to United Nations estimates, over 5 000 people, including around 300 children, have lost their lives in Syria during the uprisings against the Assad regime. In its resolution, the European Parliament has renewed its call on the Syrian regime to relinquish power. Because President Assad continues to deny any joint culpability, preferring to shift the blame for violence onto bands of armed criminals, Parliament demands further sanctions. Parliament is directing its call for a peaceful transition to democratic order to the burgeoning opposition movement and warns that uncontrolled militarisation and the use of force are not appropriate ways to protect the civil population.
Draft scoreboard for the surveillance of macroeconomic imbalances: (B7-0690/2011)
Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. – (PT) I am voting for this report because these times demand the immediate implementation of this scoreboard, which should prevent and correct excessive macroeconomic imbalances in the European Union, and particularly in the euro area. In addition, with the entry into force of Regulation (EU) No 1176/2011, the new mechanism also has aims that I consider to be very important, namely: sustained convergence of how the economies of the Member States perform and closer coordination of economic policies. However, I would stress my position that the EU as a whole has to have a plan for economic development, and intergovernmental cooperation alone will not be enough for us to overcome the current crisis.
Nikolaos Chountis (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (EL) The scoreboard of macroeconomic imbalances is a basic instrument for the application of the legislative package on economic governance. The Confederal Group of the European United Left – Nordic Green Left considers that this particular economic governance package is the wrong response to the crisis. Its objective is not economic coordination, as it maintains; it is to impose a permanent austerity memorandum throughout Europe, on all the workers. It is clear from the results of the scoreboard in question that convergence is being translated into an increase in competitiveness, by institutionalising austerity and making cutbacks to wages, pensions and rights. Indicators relating to income imbalances and the reduction in poverty are missing from the scoreboard and the unemployment indicator has very little weighting. The euro area is dealing with massive structural problems that are creating imbalances that are being shouldered mainly by the workers both in the countries in surplus and in the countries in deficit. As the economic governance package – and hence the scoreboard of macroeconomic imbalances – cannot provide fair and radical solutions in terms of getting the euro area out of the crisis and ensuring that it functions viably, I voted against this specific motion for a resolution.
George Sabin Cutaş (S&D), in writing. – (RO) I voted for the resolution on the scoreboard for the surveillance of macroeconomic imbalances as it emphasises the importance of coordinating Member States’ economic policies more closely. I also think that both current account deficits and surpluses need to be monitored as both contribute to the creation of macroeconomic imbalances.
Edite Estrela (S&D), in writing. – (PT) I voted in favour of the motions for resolutions, since I believe that, as part of the legislative package on economic governance, these can contribute towards the greater convergence and cooperation between the macroeconomic policies of the Member States. I believe these proposals are also positive because they address the need to undertake a more complete analysis of the economic reality of each Member State.
Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. – (PT) The economic governance package includes the new mechanism for detecting and correcting possible macroeconomic imbalances in the European Union, particularly in the euro area. The economic governance package also includes a declaration by the Commission, in which it commits to controlling and monitoring countries with deficits and those with surpluses on an equal basis. Indeed, as Parliament argued when the package was adopted, it is important to monitor the situation of all the Member States on an equal basis, as they are so closely interlinked that potential deviations in certain Member States could originate with measures implemented in another Member State. Thus, in order to ensure the problems and the solutions to be implemented are correctly identified, a macroeconomic framework is essential for the whole Union. Finally, and owing to the extreme importance of this new mechanism, Parliament urges the Commission to further develop the scoreboard and to make some of the indicators more explicit, so as to ensure it is implemented in a transparent way.
José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. – (PT) The current economic and financial crisis has forced the EU to examine national accounts in detail to trace the origin of the macroeconomic imbalances. On 16 November 2011, Regulation (EU) No 1176/2011 of the European Parliament and the Council on the prevention and correction of macroeconomic imbalances was adopted, as part of a series of regulations on economic governance. This motion for a resolution follows the question for oral answer, pursuant to Rule 115(5) of the Rules of Procedure, and is based on the Commission services working paper entitled ‘Scoreboard for the surveillance of macroeconomic imbalances: envisaged initial design’. In order to prevent certain Member States from experiencing further financial slippages which could lead to a new crisis, and in line with the proposals of the ‘six pack’, there will be ‘macroeconomic surveillance’, with a focus on countries with current account deficits and surpluses. I am therefore voting for this motion for a resolution, since I believe there should be greater rigour in the management of public money, so that the markets – particularly the financial markets – will regain the confidence that they have lost, and the EU will eventually be able to take up a position of leadership in terms of economic growth and job creation, thus working towards the goals outlined in the Europe 2020 strategy.
Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D), in writing. – (SK) The main objective of the newly established supervisory mechanism is the prevention and correction of macroeconomic imbalances in the European Union. According to Regulation (EU) No 1176/2011, other goals of the new mechanism include sustained convergence of the economic performance of the Member States and closer coordination of economic policies. In the current economic situation, it is essential for a framework for macroeconomic supervision to be created as soon as possible and for it to start functioning as soon as possible. Member State governments must be prepared to act with regard to any problems, since only in this way will it be possible to ensure that the supervisory framework has the desired effect. In connection with the creation of future macroeconomic tables (which may contain a wide range of indicators), these indicators must be based on independent and verifiable official statistics from the European Statistical System and the European System of Central Banks. I am of the opinion that the transparent implementation of this new policy instrument is of great importance, and for this reason it is necessary that the Commission ensures the delivery of all documents and working papers relating to the scoreboard to Parliament and the Council on an equal footing.
Ildikó Gáll-Pelcz (PPE), in writing. – (HU) The selection of indicators in scoreboard- based assessments gives priority to areas that are most relevant as regards macroeconomic imbalances and the development of competitiveness, with special emphasis being placed on the smooth operation of the euro area. The declaration made by the Commission on the data sources and statistic transformations it wishes to use is to be welcomed, I believe this is the correct way to go, and I support it. Besides this, of course, it is also important for the Commission to take into account the most up-to-date data available and to ensure complete transparency with regard to what data is being used. It should also be emphasised that it is important for the new macroeconomic imbalance surveillance mechanism to be harmonised and integrated with the upcoming European semester. However, we should not forget either that the scoreboard plays an important role in relaying information, as the selection of indicators sends a clear attitude-forming message to political decision-makers and stakeholders about the types of macroeconomic developments that may give cause for concern and therefore need close supervision. To sum it up, it should be ensured that the economic analyses assess all information – obtained from the scoreboard or from other sources – jointly and comprehensively, and for this reason I am willing to support all motions that serve this objective.
Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. – (LT) I welcomed this document because the main objective of the newly established surveillance mechanism is the prevention and correction of excessive macroeconomic imbalances in the European Union and, in particular, in the euro area. Further objectives of the new mechanism include sustained convergence of economic performances of the Member States and closer coordination of economic policies. In light of the current economic situation, it is essential for the macroeconomic surveillance framework to be up and running as soon as possible.
Krišjānis Kariņš (PPE), in writing. – (LV) The Strasbourg plenary session of the European Parliament adopted a motion for a resolution on the scoreboard for the surveillance of macroeconomic imbalances. This proposal includes recommendations for the Commission working paper (SEC(2011)1361) on the scoreboard for the surveillance of macroeconomic imbalances in the Member States. The Commission working paper (SEC(2011)1361) is a logical continuation of the work under way in order to prevent and correct the macroeconomic imbalances in the European Union in the future, on which the European Parliament should also voice its recommendations. This motion for a resolution includes a call for all parties involved to act as soon as possible in order to establish the surveillance framework. It also emphasises the need to develop an action plan in the event of a domino effect and the need for independent and verifiable statistics. I supported this motion for a resolution because I believe that a surveillance framework is the foundation and guarantee of stability and a logical continuation of the package of six legislative proposals on economic governance, in the development of which I took part and which was adopted by the European Parliament in September this year.
David Martin (S&D), in writing. – I voted for this resolution, which takes note of the Commission’s intention to provide, by the end of 2012 and in time for the subsequent European Semester, a new set of indicators and related thresholds for the financial sector, and asks the Commission to make explicit the relationship between such financial sector indicators and the dashboard envisaged in the European Systemic Risk Board (ESRB) regulation.
Jean-Luc Mélenchon (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (FR) This report endorses the introduction of instruments for the Commission to control the budgetary policies of the Member States. The dashboards under discussion enable it to give out good and bad marks, and to launch semi-automatic sanctions envisaged by the ‘six pack’. The few proposed improvements to the indicators do not strictly change anything in terms of the limited sovereignty that economic governance brings about. Worse, the text calls for this to be implemented. I am voting against.
Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. – (PT) The purpose of the surveillance mechanism that has recently been established is to prevent and correct excessive macroeconomic imbalances in the European Union, particularly in the euro area. In line with Regulation (EU) No 1176/2011, the new mechanism is also aimed at sustained convergence of how the Member States perform economically and closer coordination of economic policies.
In view of this and of the current economic situation, it is vital that the macroeconomic surveillance framework be up and running as soon as possible. I believe that the potential knock-on effects of Member State and Union policy should be identified and discussed at an early stage, for instance as part of the Annual Growth Survey, and in any case before as well as after the adoption of convergence/stability programmes.
Sławomir Witold Nitras (PPE), in writing. – (PL) A few days ago, the ‘six-pack’ came into force. In order to ensure that this legislative package can function as effectively as possible, an appropriate set of macroeconomic indicators need to be identified, as well as associated alert levels which would trigger the application of preventive and corrective mechanisms. These mechanisms would guarantee the possibility of an early detection of external and internal imbalances in the economies of the Member States and enable the European Commission to respond appropriately. The European Parliament’s resolution is a response to the European Commission’s proposal for such indicators, and points to the areas where the Commission's proposal can be improved. Particular attention should be paid to the failure to take adequate account of spillover effects and the dynamics of the unemployment rate. It should also be noted that the European Parliament has not been consulted on this matter, so that the motion for a resolution drawn up by the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs is the only effective way for Parliament’s to be heard on this issue. I therefore voted in favour of adopting the motion for a resolution.
Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. – (PT) I voted for this resolution on the draft scoreboard for the surveillance of macroeconomic imbalances. I agree with the statement that future macroeconomic scoreboards should include a wider range of indicators based on independent and verifiable official statistics produced by the European Statistical System and the European System of Central Banks.
Miguel Portas (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (PT) The scoreboard presented by the Commission is part of the economic governance package adopted by Parliament in September 2011 and confirmed at the last European Council. The regulation gave the Commission the power to present the scoreboard on macroeconomic imbalances in the Member States, which, in cases of deviation, incur an excessive imbalance procedure. This procedure is based on a punitive approach that is unacceptable. In this case, it is all the more unfair as it penalises trade deficits, but the same does not happen with surpluses, which can be just as harmful to the overall economic interests of the Union. Important issues such as poverty levels are also missing from the scoreboard. In fact, all this stems from the fact that the Commission has presented Parliament with a fait accompli, instead of seeking dialogue to achieve a more balanced framework of indicators. I voted against this resolution for these reasons.
Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – In favour. The European Parliament recalls that the main objective of the newly established surveillance mechanism is the prevention and correction of excessive macroeconomic imbalances in the European Union and, in particular, in the eurozone; it recalls that, in accordance with Regulation (EU) No 1176/2011, further objectives of the new mechanism include sustained convergence of economic performances of the Member States and closer coordination of economic policies. The European Parliament also stresses that, in the light of the current economic situation, it is essential for the macroeconomic surveillance framework to be up and running as soon as possible.
Marc Tarabella (S&D), in writing. – (FR) The resolution on the draft scoreboard for the surveillance of macroeconomic imbalances, which was adopted by the majority of Parliament does not, in my view, take account of the most pertinent indicators for sustained convergence of economic performances of the Member States and closer coordination of economic policies.
Indicators on poverty and income inequalities would have been welcome, as would the unemployment indicator, which should be considered as an independent indicator, on an equal footing with the other indicators. Since all the amendments concerning these indicators were rejected by the conservative majority of Parliament, I decided to vote against this resolution.
Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. – (PT) I would stress that this is a positive resolution, as it establishes that the new surveillance mechanism is responsible for preventing and correcting macroeconomic imbalances in the European Union, and the euro area in particular. As I have already mentioned with regard to the adoption of the reports on economic governance, I believe there should be greater coordination and economic convergence between the Member States, eliminating disparities in budgets and excessive deficits harmful to the EU. I also consider it vital that the Member States be prepared to face the real problems with their finances: public hearings should be held with a view to achieving a better institutional design for the new surveillance framework.
Silvia-Adriana Ţicău (S&D), in writing. – (RO) With regard to the European Parliament resolution on the scoreboard for the surveillance of macroeconomic imbalances, I voted in favour of Amendments 5 and 6, in which we call on the Commission to table proposals for indicators on inequality of incomes and on reducing poverty, and which highlight that the unemployment indicator must be regarded as being independent, at the same level as the other indicators. I also voted for Amendment 1 which states that the thresholds advocated until now for current account imbalances (+6%, -4%) are inconsistent with the principle of symmetry and blatantly favour, on an ex-ante basis, Member States with current account surpluses.
I voted for Amendment 2 which emphasises that the approach adopted for unit labour costs hardly seems consistent with the provisions of Article 6 of the regulation on the prevention and correction of macroeconomic imbalances, which refers explicitly to full compliance with Article 152 of TFEU, as it sets, on an ex-ante basis, a level for nominal wage increases which would trigger the alert mechanism even in contexts where GDP and productivity growth rates would allow for an increase beyond the defined threshold.
Marie-Christine Vergiat (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (FR) I voted against the report on the scoreboard for the surveillance of macroeconomic imbalances. This text is a result of the governance package, which aims to place the budget of Member States under the authoritarian control of the European Union, applying a dogmatic approach far removed from any economic reality. It is yet one more text among several others. This scattergun approach tones down the true colours of European neoliberal politics and of our heads of government and thus imposes on us a seemingly natural austerity. The tool sought by this text is still unclear and a struggle lies ahead to construct it. We already know that the analysis variables of economies will not be neutral and that the social variable is always the adjustment variable. The surveillance scoreboard is a statistical tool that will have an impact on the policies of Member States and the social sphere, without being controlled by citizens.
Angelika Werthmann (NI), in writing. – (DE) The latest data shows signs of a divergence in the continued development of the national economies within the euro area. As part of the ‘economic governance’ package, a system has been agreed to monitor macroeconomic imbalances, including an early warning system. The latest statistics from Eurostat have led the European Parliament to demand that the work of the “scoreboard” should begin quickly. I have voted in favour.
Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. – (PT) I am voting for this report, as transport plays an important role in the cohesion of cities and regions. I would therefore stress the need to fully implement the principle of territorial cohesion established by the Treaty of Lisbon, so that the most remote and isolated regions are not treated as second-class regions.
In order for us to have a Single European Transport Area, it is important to ensure that those disadvantaged most by their remoteness are not forgotten, but are instead targeted by EU public policies that improve their connection with the rest of Europe and thus contribute to their European-level convergence. In this regard, I would highlight the need to pay particular attention to the outermost regions. The creation of a Single European Transport Area as a goal of the future European transport policy is thus intrinsically linked to regional, environmental, economic, social and employment policy. I have no doubt that this link means the transport sector can also make a significant contribution to the Europe 2020 strategy.
Sophie Auconie (PPE), in writing. – (FR) Vital for mobility, transport fully serves the completion of the internal market. The free movement of goods, people and workers depends on it. As a key factor in territorial cohesion and the competitiveness of the EU, transport requires special attention. I therefore voted in favour of the Grosch report, which endorses the creation of a Single European Transport Area. To achieve that, objectives to be reached by 2020 must be set. Similarly, European standards on safety, energy and the environment should be promoted. Lastly, the special attention paid to research and innovation and emphasised in the EU 2020 strategy also applies to the transport sector.
Liam Aylward (ALDE), in writing. – (GA) Since the European Common Transport Area employs 10 million people and creates 5% of the wealth of the Union, the coordination of an integrated strategy on the European Common Transport Area must in future be placed at the top of the agenda of the single market.
In Ireland, 38% of those who die on the country’s roads are under 25 years of age. Therefore I agree with the rapporteur that an integrated, focused approach should be developed in order to improve transport safety standards. I fully support the contents of the report in regard to further contemplating the working environment and the working and employment conditions of the people of the EU working in the transport sector.
I commend what it says concerning asking the Commission to analyse the level of infrastructure, the density of the transport network and the quality of transport services in Europe. Administration must be simplified to assist the free movement of people, services and goods in the EU.
Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D), in writing. – (LT) I voted in favour of this resolution on the Commission’s White Paper entitled “Roadmap to a Single European Transport Area – Towards a competitive and resource efficient transport system”. This White Paper, adopted by the European Commission in March 2011, sets out a detailed strategy for the development of a competitive transport system and key objectives to be achieved by 2050. I support Parliament’s opinion that the EU’s high degree of dependence on imported fossil fuels entails significant risks in terms of the Union’s economic security and in terms of the flexibility of its external policy options. I believe that it is necessary to ensure the successful development of the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T), effectively link the transport networks of all EU regions and eliminate disparities between the levels of infrastructure development in the EU Member States. I agree that Member States should commit themselves to eliminating the main known bottlenecks in every transport mode and to ensuring that, by 2025, the transport infrastructure of the new Member States reaches the level of the other Member States. The Commission should increase the stability of funding of TEN-T projects. EU cofunding should be based on the “use it or lose it” principle. We must take decisive action to clearly formulate, develop and implement the future goals of an effective and competitive EU transport policy. As the goals of the previous 2001 White Paper were implemented only partially or not at all, we must properly analyse and learn from previous mistakes.
Jean-Luc Bennahmias (ALDE), in writing. – (FR) The idea of a single and interconnected European area in which the various modes of transport are complementary is a good one. It is the approach that should be taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. However, a key point determined my final vote. At the vote on recasting the directives on the rail sector during the last plenary session, I was opposed to the idea of asking the European Commission to make proposals in 2012 to separate infrastructure management and transport operations as well as to open up the internal passenger rail transport market. This idea was restated in the Grosch report. I believe, however, that, despite the fact that it was adopted in November in the previous report, it is still a bad idea. I therefore voted against this own-initiative report, which also contained provisions aiming to promote the circulation of ‘gigaliners’ as they are called, the ecological benefit of which is debatable, to say the least!
Mara Bizzotto (EFD), in writing. – (IT) I voted against this report. Of course, I agree with many of the points it contains. I refer in particular to the paragraphs recommending liberalisation of the railways, which would especially benefit the Italian railway market. However, the report’s unquestioning support for the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) project is a problem. More and more critical issues are continuing to emerge with regard to this project, which involves the construction of trans-European rail, motorway and river networks. It is an immensely ambitious project, and there are concerns about its feasibility, from the point of view of both finance and planning, as the slow and uncertain progress thus far has shown. As Lega Nord has always maintained, our region does not need grandiose projects that are impossible to bring to fruition, but greater attention to its actual, immediate needs. At the moment the way the TEN-T project is being managed appears to be totally superficial and badly planned, and therefore I was unable to vote in its favour.
Vilija Blinkevičiūtė (S&D), in writing. – (LT) I voted in favour of this report because the transport sector is one of the main sectors in the EU and provides some ten million jobs and accounts for 5% of GDP. The transport sector is particularly important and has great potential to develop and deliver innovation in areas such as transport, logistics and mobility. EU transport can also play a role in other areas, such as innovation, research, the environment, sustainable economic growth and energy. This sector can also make a major contribution to achieving the goals of the EU’s “Europe 2020” economic growth strategy. Taking into account economic, employment, environmental, social and territorial aspects, the aim should be to complete the European internal transport market by further opening-up transport networks and markets. The European Commission should ensure that proposals on the opening-up of services in all transport markets do not lead to social dumping or poorer quality services, or create the conditions for the emergence of monopolies or oligopolies. In order to address properly the problems of transport and mobility, in particular those arising in urban areas, an integrated transport policy for the entire transport and logistics value chain is needed. Coordination of the work of policy-makers in the European institutions should be enhanced and there should also be permanent dialogue and consultation with representatives of the logistics industry, transport service providers and customers in a European logistics and mobility forum.
Lara Comi (PPE), in writing. – (IT) I voted in favour of this report because I believe that a Single European Transport Area is an important goal for the European Union and its citizens. I think the creation of such an area is essential in order to increase the economic efficiency of the sector and environmental protection, and guarantee better social and employment conditions for the citizens of our community. Transport is absolutely essential for people because it gives them the freedom to move around inside the EU. It is also a pillar for development of the EU and social cohesion between the various Member States, and helps to make the EU a strategic centre of research and innovation. The creation of a Single European Transport Area is therefore a link to regional, environmental, social, economic and employment policy. Therefore I hope that transport regulation may be harmonised in order to allow each country to make long-term transport investments, which will allow economic recovery, particularly in view of the economic and financial crisis that has hit us so hard.
Corina Creţu (S&D), in writing. – (RO) I welcome this report about a welcome measure which will provide greater consistency in projects involving infrastructure development at EU level, produce a more sensible allocation of resources and put an end to waste, and will encourage the use of relevant new technologies, also for reducing pollution. I note the emphasis that has been placed on continuing to develop railway transport in Member States. On this point, I should mention that the IMF and European Commission have granted loans to Romania on the condition that it gets rid of more than 1 500 kilometres of railway lines. This measure is, to say the least, unfortunate and is at odds with the strategies proposed by this road map. I voted to adopt the report because I strongly believe that the measures proposed will achieve better integration of the transport networks in Member States and help develop them in the countries which have recently been admitted.
Marielle De Sarnez (ALDE), in writing. – (FR) It is vital that the European Union has an ambitious plan for transport in order to reduce road deaths and its carbon footprint. By 2020, the number of people killed on European roads will have to have reduced by half in relation to 2010. Parliament is also demanding an overall 20% reduction in CO2 emissions from road, maritime and air transport in relation to 1990. Lastly, European towns are called on to develop safe infrastructures for pedestrians and cyclists. The quality of European transport structures must be a priority for the European Union since it is projected that the number of transport users will rise by 34% by 2030.
Christine De Veyrac (PPE), in writing. – (FR) I voted in favour of Mr Grosch’s report, which gives us a better understanding of the future of European transport. The targets set in this White Paper lay down new foundations for a European network enabling our fellow citizens to travel, while reducing the environmental impact.
Edite Estrela (S&D), in writing. – (PT) I voted for this report because I believe it contributes to improving the quality and safety of European transport, by promoting coherent and specific targets so that these objectives can be achieved. I would also highlight the importance given to environmental matters, through the decarbonisation of this sector as well as through a clear stake in the research and development of intelligent management systems for all modes of transport.
José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. – (PT) The report in question, drafted by Mr Grosch, is based on the European Commission White Paper, adopted in March 2001 called ‘Roadmap to a Single European Transport Area – Towards a competitive and resource efficient transport system’. We are all aware that mobility is essential for societies to function, particularly for a competitive economy and for its citizens’ freedom. Over the course of the last few years, road transport has been prioritised, to the detriment of railways. Therefore, in view of the Europe 2020 strategy, we have to consider key issues such as road safety, so to reduce the numbers of fatalities and those injured, environmental protection, so as to halve CO2 emissions, green energy sources, and economic sustainability. We are talking about more than 10 million jobs and around 5% of gross domestic product.
Since I advocate the creation of a Single European Transport Area, I voted for this report and I hope that implementation of new instruments will improve all modes of transport, especially for the outermost regions of the EU, and that it gives a new impetus to the trans-European network and to railway proposals.
João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (PT) The liberalisation of the transport sector and subsequent privatisation of everything that makes money, under – unproven – assumptions of improving the quality of the service, of better prices and of more jobs, has in fact meant the opposite, harming users, workers and national economies. This European transport policy will serve the interests of a few big companies and multinationals, which are looking for a transport network to suit them. Consider the enlightening example of German multinational Deutsche Bahn BA, which today controls more than 60% of Europe’s railway cargo sector. However, this certainly will not serve the interests of workers and the people, or of small and medium-sized enterprises, which are seeing transport costs rising and quality declining, as the liberalisation advocated here progresses.
The Roadmap to a Single European Transport Area is being developed around the creation of an internal European transport market by opening up networks and markets, via the so-called Single European Sky and the Union’s Emission Trading Scheme. Within this context, pious calls to the Commission to certify the non-existence of social dumping, of deteriorating quality of services, and of monopolies and oligopolies are worthless. Obviously, we voted against this report.
Ilda Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (PT) A proposal to liberalise the transport sector has been approved once more. The subsequent privatisation of everything that makes money, under – unproven – assumptions of improving the quality of the service, of better prices and of more jobs, has in fact meant the opposite, harming users, workers and national economies.
This European transport policy will serve the interests of a few big companies and multinationals, which are looking for a transport network to suit them. Consider the enlightening example of German multinational Deutsche Bahn BA, which today controls more than 60% of Europe’s railway cargo sector. However, this certainly will not serve the interests of workers and the people, or of small and medium-sized enterprises, which are seeing transport costs rising and quality declining, as the liberalisation advocated here progresses. The Roadmap to a Single European Transport Area is being developed around the creation of an internal European transport market by opening up networks and markets, via the so-called Single European Sky and the Union’s Emission Trading Scheme.
Within this context, pious calls to the Commission to certify the non-existence of social dumping, of deteriorating quality of services, and of monopolies and oligopolies are worthless.
We voted against this report.
Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D), in writing. – (SK) Transport is a key element of the European economy and society. It is of crucial importance for the internal market and the living standards of citizens, enabling them to travel freely, and it aids economic growth and job creation. However, it must be sustainable in the light of the new challenges facing society. Since it is global in nature, the effectiveness of individual actions requires strong international cooperation. The future prosperity of the European continent will depend on the ability of all of its regions to maintain full and competitive integration in the global economy. Efficient transport plays a very important role in meeting this objective. There are still obstacles to the smooth functioning of effective competition in the internal market. A goal of the coming decades should therefore be to create a genuine Single European Transport Area by removing all remaining barriers between the individual modes of transport and national systems. I believe that an appropriate way to achieve that objective is to simplify the integration process and support the emergence of transnational and intermodal operators.
Nathalie Griesbeck (ALDE), in writing. – (FR) Despite several reservations, I voted for this report, which sets ambitious and positive targets, in particularly aiming to cut CO2 emissions in the transport sector by 2020. That being the case, I regret that gigaliners (those gigantic trucks weighing up to 60 tonnes and measuring up to 25 metres in length) are covered in this report. These monsters of the road pose a real danger to road safety, since they are absolutely unsuited to infrastructure, which, moreover, is at risk of deteriorating very badly. For the rest, by adopting strong measures to cut CO2 emissions in all modes of transport and outlining what could be the mobility and transport of tomorrow, this report is a real step forward.
Filiz Hakaeva Hyusmenovа (ALDE), in writing. – (BG) I supported the proposed resolution because transport policy is of vital significance to the development of Europe’s regions, provides considerable employment and is a key factor in the EU retaining its competitive position globally. I believe that the transport sector offers significant potential for supporting the objectives of the Europe 2020 strategy in areas such as sustainable economic growth, innovation and energy. In this regard, I share the view that more robust support is required for the development of the infrastructure in the new Member States, which would help narrow the differences in the development of individual regions and achieve a Single European Transport Area. Intermodality is also important to increasing the sector’s efficiency, as the various forms of transport should complement each other. Another key aspect is the importance of coordination among the individual policies and the various stakeholders, as macro-regional strategies can also have a not insignificant role to play in this. Climate change, switching transport to alternative and renewable energy sources, safety and providing an infrastructure that is accessible to people with disabilities are just some of the challenges facing the sector for which comprehensive solutions should be proposed.
Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. – (LT) I voted in favour because the transport sector is of major importance for the development of the European Union, its regions and its towns, and also for European citizens in that it provides jobs for many Europeans and serves the completion of the European internal market. Transport can make a significant contribution to the Europe 2020 strategy, particularly with regard to employment, sustainable economic growth, research, energy, innovation and the environment. I agree with the rapporteur’s view that the Member States underestimate the European added value of transport policy and obstruct it by implementing directives and projects incorrectly or late. In times of economic and financial crisis, investment in TEN-T projects is not sufficiently promoted. The transport networks of the new and old Member States should be effectively linked up, and disparities between the levels of infrastructure development in the EU Member States should be eliminated in order to establish a Single European Transport Area. Europe needs to create a competitive and resource efficient transport system.
Philippe Juvin (PPE), in writing. – (FR) I supported the report on the roadmap to a Single European Transport Area because it includes several road safety and CO2 emission reduction targets, and stresses the importance of internalising external costs (such as noise).
Edvard Kožušník (ECR), in writing. – (CS) At the moment when Europe finds itself on the brink of another economic crisis, I consider it a massive gamble to set strict targets demanding a 20% reduction in CO2 emissions from road transport, and a 30% reduction in emissions from aviation and maritime transport. Such demands in the current uncertain period may deal a fatal blow to the European economy and its global competitiveness. The transport sector makes a significant contribution to competitiveness and growth in Europe, and we should therefore support and not hinder it. I therefore consider it important to complete the European internal transport market by opening further transport networks and markets. I therefore support the proposal to stabilise the funding of construction of a Trans-European Transport Network, and I particularly applaud the proposal to include EuroVelo, the European long-distance network of cycle paths, in the Trans-European Transport Network. I generally consider this a good report, but I am concerned about the Trojan Horse that was unfortunately smuggled into it in the form of unrealistic environmental targets for reducing CO2 emissions in transport, implementation of which would harm European competitiveness. As I do not consider it a good thing for the many good steps proposed in the report not to be implemented on account of the Trojan Horse, I have given the report only conditional support. I would therefore like to say that I do not support any legislative measures created on the basis of this report which would implement an unrealistic plan for reducing CO2 emissions.
David Martin (S&D), in writing. – I voted for this report which points out that there is an acute need to take action in towns, as the population in conurbations is increasing, which will lead to increasing traffic, noise and air pollution. In order to address these problems, towns should establish sustainable mobility plans, and financial support for projects should be made dependent upon the submission of such plans. Under the principle of subsidiarity, towns will, of course, decide themselves what urban projects to plan, but these projects will have to comply with the standards of European transport policy, meaning that they will have to provide for efficient multi-modal passenger and goods logistics chains which reduce not only traffic in towns but also environmental impact. For this reason, mobility plans will also have to provide for increased infrastructure for pedestrians and cyclists and lead to the doubling of the number of public transport users. Bus and tram transport in particular can significantly contribute to efficient co-modality in urban, suburban and regional transport, provided that the requisite infrastructure is adapted or made available
Mario Mauro (PPE), in writing. – (IT) The creation of a Single European Transport Area eliminating all barriers between transport modes and national systems and free of distortions of competition and social dumping would benefit EU citizens considerably. The report by Mr Grosch is along these lines therefore I voted in favour.
Mairead McGuinness (PPE), in writing. – I voted in favour of this report, which will improve mobility for EU citizens across the Member States.
Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. – (PT) Transport is extraordinarily important for EU citizens, who benefit from the European transport area by being able to move around for all areas of life, so enjoying European freedom of movement both personally and professionally. Furthermore, the transportation of passengers and goods ensures employment for many EU citizens and contributes to completing the European internal market. It is for this reason that calls for proposals enabling the creation of a fully integrated European market are of considerable importance.
Andreas Mölzer (NI), in writing. – (DE) In essence, the current White Paper sets out the same objectives as those of ten years ago. The progress that has been achieved in isolated areas, such as the single European railway market, a trans-European core network, a single European airspace and the increased use of alternative drive technology and fuels has been slow at best. The targets set, namely the achievement of CO2-free urban logistics in large urban centres by 2030 and the complete abolition of vehicles using conventional fuels by 2050 should under no circumstances lead to the “banning” of conventional fuels. Sustainable transport can lead to sustainable business. However, this is only the case as long as climate targets are not our sole focus, but we also succeed in meeting the mobility needs of our citizens and stimulating economic growth. I voted with this in mind.
Radvilė Morkūnaitė-Mikulėnienė (PPE), in writing. – (LT) I entirely welcome the provisions contained in the report on the single transport area because the proper operation of the transport sector is also a prerequisite for the proper functioning of the single market. I would also like to draw attention to two provisions relating to the more rapid development of infrastructure. Firstly, transport between some EU Member States, particularly rail transport, still needs to be improved. It is therefore essential that attention should continue to be paid to projects included on the list of TEN-T priority projects. Secondly, in order to promote environmentally friendly transport, it is also necessary to improve the relevant infrastructure, in particular energy distribution points (petrol stations, charging stations for electric vehicles, and so on). Action is therefore also needed in other areas, above all town planning.
Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. – (PT) Transport is an important issue for cities and regions, because, not only does it ensure a link between them, but it also contributes to consolidating the position of the EU as a place for research and innovation; as such, it is a key element in the development of the EU and its regions, directly influencing their social cohesion.
The creation of a Single European Transport Area as a goal of the future European transport policy is thus directly linked to regional, environmental, economic, social and employment policy. Owing to this link, the transport sector can make a significant contribution to the Europe 2020 strategy. I voted for this report for these reasons.
Rovana Plumb (S&D), in writing. – The creation of a Single European Transport Area as a goal of the future European transport policy is directly linked to regional, environmental, economic, social, and employment policy. It serves the completion of the internal market, and accounts for some 5% of EU GDP and over 10 million jobs. It stimulates research and innovation, and helps the EU keep its lead and ‘excellence’ in the world. I strongly support increased wise (using the criterion of European-value-added) investment in transport as a precondition for sustainable growth and jobs for the whole of the EU, while helping to fight our way out of the crisis. We need clear and ambitious imperative targets, to be realised by the Member States / the Commission in both the medium and long run, for example: the Commission has to draw up legal rules to reduce CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions by 20% compared to the 1990 reference figures and to set targets for the different modes of transport and to specify deadlines for Commission proposals on issues including: the European Railway Agency (to be expected by 2012), social and working conditions and the ‘Blue Belt’ (both 2013), the internalisation of external costs for all transport modes (2014) and urban mobility (2015).
Franck Proust (PPE), in writing. – (FR) Although it is an own-initiative report, this text reminds the Commission and the Member States of our concerns about the delay in implementing a real European transport area. Above all, we are all regional elected representatives and we know the realities faced by our fellow citizens in their daily lives. That is why I am voting in favour of this text. Great progress has been made since 20 years ago. However, there is still some way to go. I should like to point out one of the vital roles of transport networks: proper and sustainable spatial planning. Europe is sometimes too removed from these issues, while territorial cohesion is now one of its prerogatives. Also, I would like this report to mark a new start for EU action in our regions. Supporting Trans-European Transport Networks is not all there is to it. Today Europe needs to promote regional projects around the installation of this major infrastructure. In particular I am thinking of the arrival of high-speed railways, which make such a good contribution to opening up regions and are also an important tool for local development.
Frédérique Ries (ALDE), in writing. – (FR) Encouragement for the creation of a single transport area across the whole of the European Union: an aspiration or a reality? The European Parliament seems to be in favour of the latter option as, today, it adopted the Grosch report which outlines future European transport policy between now and 2050.
I share the ambitious vision set out in this non-legislative resolution. It is right to ask the Commission to work on a ‘Charter of Passengers’ Rights’ which would lay down the basic rules to improve safety for those who are most at risk: pedestrians and cyclists.
However, I have some reservations about the proposed quantified targets: a reduction in CO2 emissions and other pollutants in all forms of transport, so why have 20% for road transport and 30% for shipping? What is the scientific basis for this difference, unless we are to believe that it is easy to offer figures that only commit those who produce them.
More than ever before, the public are calling for practical measures . I am convinced, for example, that many of them would support a clear commitment from Europe in favour of rail freight, so that, put simply, the roads and motorways of tomorrow are less dangerous.
Robert Rochefort (ALDE), in writing. – (FR) The single market cannot work without the creation of a European Transport Area which is essential for ensuring that trade can take place between the various Member States, without technical obstacles or additional costs and in a sustainable manner. This is why I welcome Mathieu Grosch’s report, entitled ‘Roadmap to a Single European Transport Area', which supports the interoperability targets for Europe’s transport systems and the reduction of their environmental impact. On the basis of the proposals set out in the Commission’s White Paper published in March, it adopts perfectly valid, indispensable ideas for improving Europe’s transport systems, such as the principle of co-modality, increased development of rail, river and maritime transport and the promotion of environmentally-friendly urban transport. This must, of course, be carried out whilst respecting the workers, service quality, safety standards and the environment, and whilst maintaining prices that are affordable for all and development must be technologically neutral. I am delighted that these elements are included in the report.
Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – In favour. Transport is very important for EU citizens because it defines mobility. EU citizens are the beneficiaries of the European transport area, as it helps them to be mobile in all situations in daily life, allowing them to benefit from their right to free movement across Europe for professional and private purposes. On average, 13.2% of the budget of private households is spent on transport goods and services. Furthermore, passenger and goods transport provides jobs for many Europeans and serves the completion of the European internal market, as it accounts for some 5% of EU wealth (in terms of GDP) and employs over 10 million Europeans. Transport is an important factor for towns and regions, as it not only connects towns and regions but also contributes to the EU’s status as a research and innovation centre and is therefore an important factor for the development of the EU and its regions, with immediate influence on the social cohesion of the regions. The creation of a Single European Transport Area as a goal of the future European transport policy is thus directly linked to regional, environmental, economic, social, and employment policy. Owing to this link, the transport sector can make a significant contribution to the EU 2020 strategy.
Oreste Rossi (EFD), in writing. – (IT) I abstained in the vote because, while I share its objective, the report does not take into account problems that in the long term could compromise the construction of sections of railway that are considered to be important. As far as Italy is concerned, the main problem relates to the national railway company Ferrovie dello Stato, which is showing little interest, probably because it holds an almost complete monopoly over the railways. It has been proposed to increase the authority of the private coordinators and the European Commission, in order to force public bodies not in favour, like RFI, to consent to the requirements of the TEN-T projects and their coordinators. Such a choice would means interfering with Member States’ national sovereignty. The very positive part of the text is the choice to definitively liberalise the railways, which would end the effective monopoly Ferrovie dello Stato holds in Italy. As the railway network operator RFI and train service provider Trenitalia are both owned by Ferrovie dello Stato, they effectively have a monopoly over the Italian railway network, to the detriment of other operators, and consequently of free competition.
Amalia Sartori, (PPE), in writing. – (IT) I voted in favour of the own-initiative report by Mr Grosch that regulates a crucial area of our lives that is necessary and fundamental in order for our society to function. I share and support the objectives that have been set in order to achieve more competitive and efficient transport by 2050, with two intermediate stages in 2020 and 2030, putting an end to the obstacles existing between Member States. I support the text of the report, which appears to be consistent and uniform, and very exhaustive, embracing all the various forms of transport (road, rail, air and water) and guaranteeing sustainability in each of these areas as well as a comprehensively consistent and efficient network. The fact that it tackles the various issues affected by transport, ranging from the repercussions for the internal market to innovation, and of course road safety, is a good thing in my view. A key point in the report that I particularly appreciated is environmental sustainability, which puts the focus on using more environmentally friendly, energy-saving means of transport.
Vilja Savisaar-Toomast (ALDE), in writing. – (ET) I voted today for the Single European Transport Area or the so-called white book. The European transport sector has reached a crossroads. Old problems are still unresolved, and new problems have already arisen. The internal market for transport is not yet completely developed, and solutions must be found to the questions of how to better fulfil residents’ travel desires and satisfy the economy’s freight transport needs while resource and environmental requirements are becoming more stringent. The transport systems of Eastern and Western Europe must be integrated in such a manner that they reflect the transport needs of our entire continent and its 500 million inhabitants. Although transport has become more energy-efficient, in the EU 96% of its energy needs still depend on petroleum and petroleum products. Transport has indeed become more environmentally sustainable, but due to increased volumes it is still the main source of noise and local air pollution. Environmental restrictions are often portrayed in the transport sector as a constraining issue that create expenses, but one must look farther into the future – these restrictions serve as an engine of innovation and improvement, and are also accompanied by a better living environment for our citizens. And of course efficient transport is also a precondition for fuller and more competitive participation in the global economy, upon which Europe’s future prosperity depends. At the same time, member states underestimate the added value of transport policy for Europe, and often inhibit it by implementing directives imprecisely or belatedly. I supported this report, as I sincerely hope that this report will help us move in the desired direction and guarantee the functioning of the transport system that is so essential to us.
Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. – (PT) The Commission White Paper on transport that looks forward to 2050 sets out a strategic policy for all types of transport, following two premises: sustainability and efficiency. Progress made towards achieving the submitted aims should be assessed annually, so as to have an understanding of possible failings in advance and to tailor measures to the situation of each Member State. The transport sector is an area that interacts with all European policy. Implementation of the single market and free movement of goods and people will only be fully realised once there is a network of infrastructure and transport services. However, the strategy must take into account the different situations of the Member States and the European regions themselves. As such, investment in modes of transport should take into account the specificities of each region.
The outermost regions, given their geographical and morphological characteristics, are far removed from the European internal market. Investment in maritime transport and regional airports is key to their full integration. There is also a need to coordinate the instruments of trans-European networks with regional policy funds, to enable the development of the infrastructure central to making the European regions more competitive and to reducing existing differences.
Silvia-Adriana Ţicău (S&D), in writing. – (RO) I voted for the European Parliament Resolution on the ‘Roadmap to a Single European Transport Area – Towards a competitive and resource efficient transport system’, because a Single European Transport Area which removes all the barriers between modes of transport and national systems, without unfair competition and social dumping, is beneficial to Europe’s citizens. The transport sector is vital to the development of the European Union, its regions and towns, as it accounts for some 5% of GDP and provides roughly 10 million jobs.
I should emphasise the importance of developing the transport infrastructure in new Member States, including the road infrastructure, and of connecting their transport networks with those of neighbouring states. We urge the Commission to take into account the transport infrastructure development needs in the new Member States for the future multiannual financial framework so that the transport infrastructure in the new Member States can achieve the same level of infrastructure as in the other Member States by 2025. We call on Member States to eliminate the main bottlenecks in the European transport area by establishing an intermodal infrastructure and prioritising cross-border projects between Member States, without neglecting connections to neighbouring countries, and to submit an approved funding plan by 2015.
Marie-Christine Vergiat (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (FR) I voted against the report on the Single European Transport Area. This text proposes a European area intended to improve transport conditions merely using ultraliberal dogma which, as always, consists of relying, first and foremost, on the market. The declared objectives, however admirable they might appear, are swept away by this deadly argument. On the other hand, state aid is welcome, both to finance infrastructures and technology programmes such as Galileo. This financial support is, of course, not subject to any strategic assessment of the need for and effectiveness of the introduction of such corridors. Here again, public money could be put to better use.
Oldřich Vlasák (ECR), in writing. – (CS) I voted against this report, because I consider the specified quantitative targets, for example in the area of emissions reduction, to be too ambitious, with no specific steps outlined for achieving them. Moreover, I firmly believe that reducing emissions in transport may be important, but it should not be the absolute priority of transport policy, but only one of the main targets, alongside improvements to mobility and overall transport connections in the EU, which contribute to boosting the EU’s competitiveness. We also need to realise that most of the targets depend to a great extent on the development of modern technologies, and their practical implementation, which is a very difficult process to predict. For these and other reasons, I voted against the report.
Angelika Werthmann (NI), in writing. – (DE) The aim of European transport policy is to create a Single European Transport Area, as this would represent the completion of the single European market. The safety aspect deserves particular attention here, the target being to reduce the number of fatalities and serious injuries by 50% by 2020. For this reason, there is an urgent need for continuously reviewed, uniform safety standards throughout the EU. Furthermore, those working in the transport sector must receive appropriate training to ensure the greatest possible safety standards are applied. In addition, environmental and climate protection targets must be given top priority when establishing a Single European Transport Area I have voted in favour.
Marina Yannakoudakis (ECR), in writing. – I voted against this report, not because of the proposals it makes to keep pedestrians and cyclists safe nor because of the targets it recommends to reduce road deaths, but because of proposals to ‘enhance the attractiveness of the transport sector for workers’. In my home constituency of London, the sector is so attractive that Bob Crow, the leader of the Rail Maritime and Transport Union, earns nearly GBP 150 000 in pay and perks. As millions of Londoners face pay freezes, unions regularly hold my constituents hostage over salaries and conditions, although train drivers already earn more than nurses, teachers, policemen and soldiers. One union has just voted to hold a series of strikes because Transport for London refused to offer their drivers triple pay on a public holiday. Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, sees no alternative other than to introduce driverless trains to the London Underground, something which may have been put in jeopardy had this report been legislative. I’m sure Mr Crow will be over to Brussels soon to lobby the EU for such legislation. Why? Because his union recently won the right to travel free on Eurostar in the last round of negotiations!
Iva Zanicchi (PPE), in writing. – (IT) I voted in favour of the text tabled by Mr Grosch based on the European Commission White Paper setting ten goals for making the European transport system safer, more competitive and more efficient by 2050, with interim targets set for 2020 and 2030.
Janusz Władysław Zemke (S&D), in writing. – (PL) The European Parliament’s resolution on a Single European Transport Area is a move in the right direction. It reflects the line taken by the most important politicians in the European Union. However, I would like to draw attention to the fact that there are still considerable differences in terms of transport infrastructure between the East and West of the European Union.
We should therefore promote sustainable regional development, which entails in particular an increase in funding for less developed areas. Only this funding will result in a single transport area being created in years to come. We must remember that freight transport in Europe will increase by around 40% by 2013. Passenger transport is expected to increase by about 34%. The various forms of transport should therefore not compete with each other, but complement each another effectively. This requires more funding for rail transport in particular.
Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. – (PT) I am voting for this report, while emphasising that poor detention conditions, or the risk that they will not conform to minimum standards required by the prison rules adopted by the Council of Europe, could be an obstacle to prisoner transfers. This cannot be allowed to happen in a developed Europe that respects human rights. In order to prevent it, the Member States should restructure, modernise and improve the quality of their prisons, as well as the conditions of prison guards, specifically through training.
Pino Arlacchi (S&D), in writing. – I support this text because the European Parliament has the duty to take action on the treatment of detainees in Europe. The European Court of Human Rights has repeatedly condemned EU Member States with regard to detention conditions, duration of pre-trial detention and administration of justice. For this reason we ask the EU and the Member States to take urgent measures to ensure that the fundamental rights of prisoners are respected. It is of fundamental importance to implement minimum standards of detention in all Member States. Appropriate resources should be granted by the Member States to the restructuration of prisons, to ensure respect for the fundamental rights of prisoners and to prepare detainees for their release and social integration. I also agree with the necessity to point out that pre-trial detention remains an exceptional measure to be used under strict conditions and for a limited period of time, in compliance with the fundamental principle of presumption of innocence and of the right not to be deprived of liberty.
Vilija Blinkevičiūtė (S&D), in writing. – (LT) I voted in favour of this resolution because detention conditions are an issue of central importance for the application of the principle of mutual recognition of judicial decisions in the area of freedom, security and justice. It is particularly important to ensure a common basis of trust between judicial authorities, as well as a better knowledge of national criminal justice systems. The European Parliament expresses concern over detention conditions in the EU and calls on Member States to take urgent measures to ensure respect for the fundamental rights of prisoners, particularly vulnerable persons. In order to avoid violations of detention conditions, all Member States should apply minimum common standards of detention. The European Commission and the Agency for Fundamental Rights should therefore monitor the situation as regards detention conditions in the EU and support the Member States in their efforts to ensure that their laws and policies are consistent with the highest standards in the field. It is also vital to ensure respect for fundamental human rights, in particular the rights of the defence and of access to a lawyer, and that the rights of suspects or accused persons are guaranteed, including the right not to be subjected to inhuman or degrading treatment.
Philippe Boulland (PPE), in writing. – (FR) The Green Paper on the application of EU criminal justice legislation in the field of detention reveals an alarming picture of prison overcrowding, a growing number of pre-trial detainees suffering physical and mental disorders and numerous cases of death and suicide. Detention conditions must be compatible with human dignity. The rights of suspects and of the accused must be guaranteed, including the right not to be subject to inhuman or degrading treatment. Moreover, pre-trial detention must remain an exceptional measure that can only be used for a limited period. The European Union must remain a model for the protection of fundamental rights. This is why we are calling on the Commission to present a legislative proposal on the rights of persons deprived of their liberty that includes minimum standards for prison and detention conditions, as well as uniform standards for compensation for persons unjustly detained or convicted.
Carlos Coelho (PPE), in writing. – (PT) Judicial cooperation on criminal matters should be based on mutual trust between Member States, based on the principle of mutual recognition of sentences and court judgments. While detention conditions and prison management remain essentially the responsibility of the Member States, mutual trust can only be maintained if there is respect for standards relating to rules on fundamental rights, and if there is an effort towards approximation of the rights of suspected and accused persons and of procedural rights in criminal proceedings.
There are huge differences in detention conditions between Member States: prison overcrowding, large numbers of pre-trial detainees, inhuman and degrading treatment, number of deaths and suicides, etc. In some cases they are even below the acceptable threshold, not only jeopardising judicial cooperation on EU criminal matters, but also raising concerns in terms of protection of fundamental rights. This has a negative impact on mutual trust between Member States, leading a judicial authority in one Member State to show reluctance, or even refuse, to implement a decision made in another Member State. I hope the Commission will quickly table an initiative on establishing common minimum standards and I call on the Member States to take the measures urgently needed in order to ensure respect for detainees’ fundamental rights.
Corina Creţu (S&D), in writing. – (RO) The situation in Europe’s prisons has steadily grown worse as they have become overcrowded due to the deterioration in the social situation of many European citizens. In addition, a systematic violation of prisoners’ rights is being observed, with abuses being committed against them. The fact that they have broken the law does not justify maltreatment in prisons. On the other hand, the situation of prison staff has deteriorated as well, for exactly the same reasons. The report puts the problems correctly in context and makes relevant recommendations. I particularly welcome the recommendation made to Member States and the European Commission to establish and apply minimum detention and prison conditions, as well as equal standards for awarding compensation to those who have been wrongfully imprisoned or convicted. I voted to adopt the report, which is realistic and suggests sensible and feasible solutions.
Marielle De Sarnez (ALDE), in writing. – (FR) Decent prison conditions are essential in a union of States governed by the rule of law, as is the European Union. Detained persons must enjoy the same fundamental rights as those citizens who are not detained. Unfortunately, prison living conditions in many Member States are deplorable. Overcrowding and suicide are too often the case in Europe’s prison facilities. To improve prison living conditions, the Commission must propose new legislation guaranteeing protection of the fundamental rights of European detainees and restricting the use of pre-trial detention. The Member States are also called on to increase funding for prisons. It is vital to improve living conditions for detainees, as the social integration of offenders starts in prison.
Edite Estrela (S&D), in writing. – (PT) I voted for the motions for the resolutions, since the substandard detention conditions in many Member States make the need pressing for the EU to set out the fundamental rights of detainees, as well as common criteria limiting the abuse of pre-trial detention and giving alternatives.
Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. – (PT) A political community that makes democracy, freedom and human rights its core values cannot stop seeking to investigate the conditions in which those who have potentially committed crimes are detained and evaluating whether these meet the humane standards that they set up.
The rapporteurs listed various causes for concern: prison overcrowding, an increase in the prison population, a rise in the number of foreign nationals being held, large numbers of pre-trial detainees, detainees with mental and psychological disorders, and numerous case of death and suicide in prison. I share their concern and I hope the Member States will be able to respond with concrete measures that will genuinely minimise them. Despite these circumstances, it should be mentioned that EU Member States have the best legal and prison systems in the world. Dissatisfaction with what is there already and public expressions thereof is proof of this very fact, and of the transparency with which this issue is handled. The serious problems that affect us and the isolated abuses that are regretted and renounced should not stop us from saying that, regarding detention conditions, the EU is a model for most other countries to follow.
José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. – (PT) Detention conditions vary between EU Member States, and in some cases these conditions violate the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, specifically Article 1: ‘Human dignity is inviolable. It must be respected and protected’. These violations manifest themselves in overcrowded prisons, abuse of pre-trial detention, increased numbers of foreign nationals being held, detainees with mental and psychological disorders, and numbers of deaths and suicides discovered in prison.
This motion for a resolution follows a number of questions for oral answer made by Members from various groups, pursuant to Rule 115(5) of the Rules of Procedure, with the Commission Green Paper entitled ‘Strengthening mutual trust in the European judicial area A Green Paper on the application of EU criminal justice legislation in the field of detention’. There is clearly a lack of a European dimension for prisons, as detention conditions, family visits, prisons and rehabilitation of minors, and so on, all need to be improved.
As such, I voted for this motion for a resolution, because I hope it will help to improve detention conditions in the Member States, with full respect for prisoners’ fundamental rights.
João Ferreira and Ilda Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (PT) We are aware that the rehabilitation of prisoners into society is an essential task of the state, and that the better guarantees of these prisoners’ dignity were, the more effective such rehabilitation would be, whether these guarantees relate to training, or to their very hygiene, health and safety conditions.
We believe that guaranteeing these conditions is essential to people’s reintegration with society, and we would draw attention to the fact, not mentioned in the report, that only public administration of the prison network can guarantee this, as opposed to private management which, as is clearly shown in the cases of, for example, the United States and Israel, puts profit, and even politics, above the interests of the people.
The Green Paper on the application of EU criminal justice legislation in the field of detention, drafted by the Commission in June, paints an alarming picture of prison overcrowding, increased numbers of foreign nationals being held, large numbers of pre-trial detainees, detainees with mental and psychological disorders, and numbers of deaths and suicides. However, prison conditions should be consistent with human dignity, and the rights of suspected or accused persons must be guaranteed as well as the right not to be subjected to inhumane or degrading treatment.
Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D), in writing. – (SK) The European Union has set itself the task of building an area of freedom, security and justice, and since it respects human rights and fundamental freedoms under Article 6 of the Treaty on European Union, it undertakes the obligations that must be met in order to comply with this commitment. Conditions of detention and the administration of prison facilities are primarily the responsibility of the Member States. Shortcomings such as prison overcrowding and the alleged mistreatment of detainees may jeopardise the trust that must underpin judicial cooperation in criminal matters based on the principle of mutual recognition of judgments and other judicial rulings of the EU Member States. Compliance with standards in the area of fundamental rights and the necessary convergence of the rights of suspects and accused persons and procedural rights in criminal proceedings is crucial for ensuring mutual trust between Member States in the area of freedom, security and justice. Conditions of detention are of particular importance to the application of the principle of mutual recognition of judicial rulings in the area of freedom, security and justice. On the other hand, however, I consider it equally important for Member States to allocate adequate funds for the restructuring and modernisation of prison facilities and for the protection of the rights of detainees, their successful rehabilitation, and preparation for their release and integration into society.
Nathalie Griesbeck (ALDE), in writing. – (FR) I was a co-signatory of this joint resolution by the European Parliament and I welcome its adoption: in it we call on the Member States of the European Union to take urgent measures to guarantee respect for the fundamental rights of detainees, especially vulnerable persons, and ask the European Commission for a legislative proposal on persons deprived of their liberty and minimum standards for detention conditions. Indeed, detention conditions in the European Union are regularly condemned by the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) in Strasbourg. The latest condemnation came in a ruling on 20 January 2011, in which the ECtHR once again pointed the finger at French prison conditions for violation of Article 3 (the prohibition of the use of inhuman or degrading treatment). Europe’s prisons therefore suffer from many problems. Human rights are abused, there is a denial of dignity for detained persons and so on. Respect for human rights must not stop at the prison gates and we must remedy this shameful situation quickly.
Sylvie Guillaume (S&D), in writing. – (FR) Detention conditions in Europe vary widely, whether it be in relation to pre-trial detention, prison overcrowding or the detention of minors and third-country nationals.
That being the case, we have a duty to ensure that the rights of European citizens who are deprived of their liberty are respected, wherever they are in Europe. This is why I voted in favour of this resolution which calls on the European Commission to present a legislative proposal that defines and implements minimum standards for prison conditions, as well as uniform standards for compensation for persons unjustly detained or convicted.
The Member States must earmark appropriate resources to upgrade certain prisons where living conditions are alarming and ensure that pre-trial detention is only used as a last resort. It is also essential to protect the best interests of children in detention and to ensure that the Member States arrange effective, independent national mechanisms for inspecting prisons and detention centres in order to prevent torture or any other inhuman or degrading treatment.
Lívia Járóka (PPE), in writing. – There are disturbing signs of the deterioration of European detention conditions, such as prison overcrowding, high proportion of pre-trial detainees or alarming occurrences of death and suicide, although appropriate conditions increase the detainees’ chances to return to society and decrease the probability of re-offending. Special emphasis must be placed on the review of the detention conditions of children, as the most vulnerable of the prison population and the most in need of development and reintegration. Depriving children of their freedom must be viewed as the last resort, for the shortest possible period and, when detained, they must be kept separated from adults and provided the possibility of regularly contacting their families. Member States that fail to reach the level required by international obligations in terms of prison conditions and related legal guarantees must take specific steps to improve the fulfilment of fundamental rights of the detained and dedicate proper resources for restructuring and modernising their prisons. Most importantly, the right to defence and the right not to be subject to degrading or inhuman treatment must be enforced and, to this end, ratifying the Protocol to the Convention Against Torture and Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment would be beneficial.
David Martin (S&D), in writing. – I voted for this resolution which calls on the Member States and the accession countries to sign and ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment Punishment, which establishes a system of regular visits by international and national bodies to places of detention and confers on those bodies the task of visiting and inspecting prisons and hearing appeals by prisoners, as well as drawing up a public annual report for the relevant parliaments. The resolution encourages the European Union to make a call to sign and ratify the Optional Protocol part of its policy vis-à-vis third countries and calls on the EU and its Member States to fully collaborate with and support these bodies, including with appropriate resources and funds
Mario Mauro (PPE ), in writing. – (IT) The European model of civil and democratic co-existence has to include detention conditions that fully respect people’s rights. It is therefore right to urge Member States to adopt urgent measures to guarantee that prisoners’ fundamental rights are respected and safeguarded, particularly the rights of vulnerable people. I also agree with the fact that minimum detention standards should be applied in all Member States.
Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. – (PT) Pursuant to Article 6 of the Treaty on European Union, one of the EU’s principle goals is the creation of a common area of freedom, security and justice, respecting human rights and fundamental freedoms. Therefore, the necessary approximation of the rights of suspects and accused persons and of procedural rights in criminal proceedings, which is crucial to ensuring mutual trust between Member States in the area of freedom, security and justice, does not exhaust the Union’s goal. Decent detention conditions and access to structures for preparing rehabilitation must be created, ensuring respect and protection for the fundamental rights of prisoners, particularly the rights of vulnerable people.
Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. – (PT) I voted for this resolution of the European Parliament on detention conditions in the EU, which raises concerns and highlights the importance of ensuring respect for fundamental rights, particularly the right to a defence and access to a lawyer, and of guaranteeing that the rights of suspects or accused persons are upheld, including the right not to be subjected to inhumane or degrading treatment. In this context, I would stress the importance of the Commission proposal regarding the right of access to a lawyer in criminal proceedings and the right to communication upon arrest.
Robert Rochefort (ALDE), in writing. – (FR) Europe is currently holding over 630 000 people in prison. Faced with the alarming picture painted by the European Commission’s Green Paper on Europe’s prisons - prison overcrowding, extensive use of pre-trial detention, large numbers of detainees suffering physical and mental disorders and numerous cases of death and suicide and so on, - the European Parliament must respond. This is why we call on the Member States to take urgent measures to guarantee respect for and protection of the fundamental rights of detainees, especially vulnerable persons. The Commission must also present a legislative proposal on the rights of persons deprived of their liberty. Europe must define and implement minimum standards for conditions of imprisonment and detention, as well as uniform standards for compensation for persons unfairly detained or convicted. I gave my support to this resolution and I now hope that measures will be taken quickly, both at a national and European level.
Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – In favour. The European Parliament welcomes the Commission Green Paper; is concerned by the alarming situation as regards detention conditions in the EU and calls on Member States to take urgent measures to ensure that the fundamental rights of prisoners, in particular the rights of vulnerable persons, are respected and protected, and considers that minimum common standards of detention should be applied in all Member States; and reaffirms that detention conditions are of central importance for the application of the principle of mutual recognition of judicial decisions in the area of freedom, security and justice, and considers a common basis of trust between judicial authorities, as well as a better knowledge of national criminal justice systems, to be of critical importance in this respect.
Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. – (PT) This motion for a resolution reveals Parliament’s concern with the alarming situation of detention conditions in the EU, calling on Member States to guarantee the respect and protection of detainees’ fundamental rights, especially those of the most vulnerable. The view of the document is that there should be a common minimum standard of EU detention conditions to be applied in all Member States. Parliament also welcomes the 14 June 2011 communication entitled ‘Strengthening mutual trust in the European judicial area A Green Paper on the application of EU criminal justice legislation in the field of detention’.
Marie-Christine Vergiat (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (FR) I voted in favour of this resolution which is the result of the joint work of all of the political groups. Almost 700 000 people are currently imprisoned in Europe and these citizens have rights that must be respected. The aim of this resolution is to highlight current failings and to propose ways to improve this disastrous situation. The text points the finger at the failure of many Member States of the European Union to comply with European regulations on detention, resulting in prison overcrowding, a high number of suicides and much physical and mental suffering. The resolution also requires the Commission and the Council to recognise certain categories of detainees as being particularly vulnerable, including children and illegal immigrants, and to transform this recognition into rights. The European Union, as the champion of respect for human rights, can only gain if it ensures that its own fundamental rights are respected, even in our prisons. Let us hope that this is not just another pious wish and that our ‘good’ intention is not once again thrown away like a scrap of paper.
Angelika Werthmann (NI), in writing. – (DE) Prison conditions in the various Member States vary considerably, particularly in terms of prison facilities and the duration of custody. Although criminal law falls within the competence of the Member States, prison conditions often relate to human rights, such as the right to liberty, human dignity and legal assistance. The European Arrest Warrant, which prevents suspects from evading justice by fleeing to another Member State, only works effectively if prison conditions in all Member States reflect similar standards. In the same way, it is only possible to ensure mutual recognition of court rulings if mutual trust exists between the judicial authorities of the Member States. For this reason, there is an urgent need for a common approach at EU level. I have voted in favour.
Report: George Sabin Cutaş (B7-0427/2011)
Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. – (PT) I voted for this report as we cannot turn a blind eye to this country’s widespread use of child labour. Indeed, the disrespect for human rights that this country continues to practice is recognised by international organisations. If the EU aims to be a bulwark in defence of free trade and human rights, that should obviously render any kind of partnership agreement with Uzbekistan unviable.
Sophie Auconie (PPE), in writing. – (FR) Relations between the European Union and Uzbekistan are governed by a partnership agreement concluded in 1996. The partnership and cooperation agreements (PCA) between the European Union and third countries outside the EU aim to promote and consolidate democracy and participate in the economic development of the countries involved. In the present case, it is a question of broadening the agreement to the textile sector. Now, several cases of forced child labour in the cotton production sector have been recorded. Before approving such a protocol, the rapporteur, George Sabin Cutaş, has proposed that the International Labour Organisation (ILO) study the issue. As I support such a procedure, I voted in favour of the report.
Liam Aylward (ALDE), in writing. – (GA) Non-governmental organisations and UNICEF have been making regular efforts to direct the public’s attention to the issue of child labour and forced labour in Uzbekistan’s cotton industry.
Children are led to believe that they will be in danger of being expelled from school if they do not take part in the harvesting of cotton. Those who do not fulfil their quota, and those whose cotton is not of a high enough standard, are condemned to beatings, detention or threatened with a downgrading of their marks.
I fully support the rapporteur, who says that the European Parliament should not approve the amendment to the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement with Uzbekistan as long as there is no improvement in the situation with regards to the widespread use of child labour and the human rights situation in the country.
Parliament will not be able to consider this agreement until the authorities in Uzbekistan allow representatives from the International Labour Organisation to conduct intensive independent monitoring in the country to ensure that genuine reforms are implemented and that they result in the abolition of forced labour and child labour.
Mara Bizzotto (EFD), in writing. – (IT) I voted in favour of the interim report on the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement with Uzbekistan. Parliament has every reason to make any amendments to the agreement conditional on compliance with minimum standards with regard to child labour, in view of the situation in the former Soviet Republic in which hundreds of thousands of school-aged children are taken out of school and sent to work in the cotton fields on the cotton harvest for months at a time. We must insist that the European Union only give the go-ahead to the agreement if Uzbekistan accepts the International Labour Organisation (ILO) monitoring missions. The agreement in itself would favour the economic interests of our businesses, which would get raw materials on favourable terms. However it is unacceptable that children should be exploited for intensive work on the cotton harvest, and we will only be able to give our consent to the agreement when Uzbekistan shows that it is willing to put an end to this grievous situation.
Vilija Blinkevičiūtė (S&D), in writing. – (LT) I voted in favour of this report because I believe that with it the European Parliament can achieve tangible improvements in Uzbekistan towards strengthening democracy and improving human rights protection. The European Parliament has received a request from the European Union Council of Ministers to approve the conclusion of the protocol amending the EU-Uzbekistan Partnership and Cooperation Agreement. In this case Parliament indicated that it would only consider the issue of its consent once the Uzbek authorities have allowed International Labour Organisation observers to carry out detailed and unhindered monitoring and have confirmed that concrete reforms have been implemented and have achieved tangible results in effectively prohibiting forced and child labour at national, provincial and local levels. The European Parliament did consider that the conclusion of this protocol might be beneficial for EU textile exporters; however, it has withheld its signature believing that the economic aspect of the agreement should not be overstated when there are reports of severe violations of democratic principles and human rights.
Christine De Veyrac (PPE), in writing. – (FR) I voted in favour of this report, which will ensure legal certainty in commercial exchanges between the Union and the Republic of Uzbekistan. The implementation of these measures will still, of course, depend on compliance, by all of the signatories, with the rules set out by the International Labour Organisation.
Anne Delvaux (PPE), in writing. – (FR) Parliament was consulted today on the proposal aimed at including the commercial provisions for textiles products in the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) between the European Union and Uzbekistan. This bilateral agreement expired on 31 December 2004. Whilst in practice the trade in textiles between the Union and Uzbekistan has continued smoothly since 1 January 2005, this issue has become more politically sensitive than the strictly technical nature of the proposal would lead one to believe. In fact many accusations of forced labour have been made, in particular accusations of child labour in Uzbekistan's cotton production sector. I therefore voted for a suspension of the approval procedure so that the International Labour Organisation (ILO) can carry out new investigations into the real situation regarding forced child labour in this country. Above all, I have therefore demanded that the ILO observers be authorised to monitor the child labour situation and that concrete reforms be completed so that the practice of forced child labour may finally be brought to an end.
Edite Estrela (S&D), in writing. – (PT) I voted for the report because I believe that the EU should not ignore the continued use of child labour in Uzbekistan within the scope of its trade relations, in particular within the cotton sector. As such, I believe the EU can and should take advantage of its commercial relations and cooperation protocols to advocate human rights genuinely and universally.
Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. – (PT) The reports of widespread child labour in Uzbekistan, especially for cotton picking, are worrying. This fact, still to be verified, constitutes a violation of the rights of the children involved, as well as of the international labour rules to which that this country is signed up. European industries, including textiles, cannot compete with those that flout these most basic rules in this way.
I am voting for Parliament’s decision to only consider giving its approval if the Uzbek authorities allow International Labour Organisation (ILO) observers access, so that they can closely monitor the situation without hindrance and can confirm that palpable reforms have been implemented. I agree with the suspension of privileged relations with Uzbekistan if the ILO proves the widespread use of these practices, and that the Union should evaluate the possibility of creating a traceability mechanism for goods produced using forced child labour.
José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. – (PT) This report concerns the EU-Uzbekistan Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) regarding bilateral trade in textile products. The PCA in force between the EU and its Member States, on the one hand, and the Republic of Uzbekistan, on the other, does not include the trade of textile products, which were covered by a bilateral agreement that expired in 2005. A protocol to the PCA intended to include the bilateral trade of textile products is currently in its final stages. When establishing agreements and partnerships, the EU includes binding clauses – Article 2 of the EU-Uzbekistan PCA – on ‘respect for democracy, principles of international law and human rights’. As the EU imports up to 23% of Uzbekistan’s cotton and is the country’s main customer, it is essential that we use all the means at our disposal to help it on its way to democracy and to abandoning inhumane practices such as using child labour. I voted for this resolution for this reason, and I hope that the children of Uzbekistan will soon be able to devote themselves exclusively to study and will no longer be forced to go and work in the cotton fields.
João Ferreira and Ilda Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (PT) The purpose of this report is adoption of the protocol amending the partnership and cooperation agreement on textile products. However, the rapporteur puts restrictions on the conclusion of this agreement, owing to issues of human rights, democratisation and the rule of law. We consider the EU’s demand that the Government of Uzbekistan make ‘market-oriented reforms of Uzbekistan's agricultural sector’ and the offer of ‘assistance from the Union for the transition, ultimately, to a privatised and liberalised farming sector in Uzbekistan, in line with developments in neighbouring countries’ unacceptable, as they seek to interfere in a country’s internal affairs, openly siding with forces that support the interests of big business in the EU. On the other hand, we agree with concerns over the question of forced labour and forced child labour. We believe that the International Labour Organisation should, with the authorisation of the Uzbekistan Government, be responsible for checking this situation and helping with the aim of eradicating forced and child labour. The central issue here is defending this country’s independence and sovereignty, and the will expressed by its people.
Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D), in writing. – (SK) Partnership and cooperation agreements were concluded with the countries of the former Soviet Union at the end of the 1990s. Since the EU had a bilateral agreement with Uzbekistan, it decided to include Article 16 in the partnership and cooperation agreement, explicitly excluding textiles from the agreement. For other sectors, the partnership and cooperation agreement provided for mutual most favoured nation status. In economic terms, however, this agreement should not be overestimated. Uzbekistan is the world’s fifth-largest producer of cotton and its third-biggest cotton exporter. In Uzbekistan, the political and economic systems are under state control. Although cotton is produced on private farms, the harvested cotton must be handed over to state-owned firms for a price dictated by the state. Moreover, government employees mobilise children as a cheap source of labour during the cotton harvest and send them out into the cotton fields. Schools are closed during the harvest period. Over the years, many international organisations have expressed concerns regarding the use of forced child labour in Uzbekistan.
I think it is necessary to insist that the Uzbek Government comprehensively implements the formal prohibition of this practice in Uzbek legislation and the international conventions. Reforms must be carried out to modernise and motorise the agricultural sector, which would contribute to the abolition of forced child labour.
Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. – (LT) I welcomed this document because textiles are not included in the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement and this area is regulated by bilateral agreements which expired in 2005, giving rise to legal uncertainty for Union exporters since Uzbekistan (which is not a member of the WTO) may at any time increase import tariffs, while the Union’s most-favoured-nation treatment (in the area of customs tariffs) applies to the entire world. This protocol sets out to include textiles in the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement, whereby the two parties grant each other most-favoured-nation status, thus putting an end to the legal uncertainty for exporters. On the basis of the principles and goals of the Union’s external actions, the Union, as one of the main trading partners and largest importer of cotton from Uzbekistan, has, I believe, a moral obligation to use its leverage to stop forced child labour in this country. For this reason, the protocol cannot therefore be regarded solely as a technical agreement while human rights issues still exist.
Elisabeth Jeggle (PPE), in writing. – (DE) In relation to today’s plenary vote on the interim report on trade in Uzbek textiles, I wish to emphasise the importance of extending the existing agreement to include Uzbekistan's textile production sector. I am convinced that we shall achieve more through European involvement than through isolation and that we shall gain benefits from the agreement in the final analysis. Uzbekistan is also set to profit in both economic and social terms from the expansion of the agreement. Some other groups have sought to make their agreement subject to numerous conditions. I support the result of today’s vote because we have succeeded in ensuring that agreement only depends on one single main precondition (the admission of an observer mission from the International Labour Organization). I expect the protocol to be approved quickly after this condition has been met.
Philippe Juvin (PPE), in writing. – (FR) I supported this report on establishing an EC-Uzbekistan Partnership and Cooperation Agreement taking in bilateral trade in textiles, as it highlights the European Parliament’s commitment to protecting children and combating forced labour. Indeed, in this report, the European Parliament calls for the Council to obtain satisfaction on all of the items regarding child labour before signing the agreement. I thus particularly supported Recital L, which condemns the punishment that children, teachers and parents risk if they do not submit to labour obligations, namely during the cotton harvest.
Jarosław Kalinowski (PPE), in writing. – (PL) Like the rapporteur, I would like to draw your attention to a key argument we ignore while blindly chasing money. Even though, as the European Union, we lead the fight for human rights and sometimes even support the victims in their fight by sending troops, we forget about the tools that we have at hand, and that we can use without bloodshed. I am therefore in favour of abstaining from signing the protocol amending the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement with Uzbekistan, in particular regarding the textile industry. We must not allow the suffering of thousands of children, who are exploited to harvest cotton. We cannot afford such hypocrisy. At the same time, we should strive to engage in dialogue with the authorities of Uzbekistan with the aim of changing the situation, which would make a trade agreement possible too.
Elisabeth Köstinger (PPE), in writing. – (DE) I have voted in favour of the interim report on the changing of the partnership agreement between the EU and Uzbekistan. The fact that Uzbekistan has long been confronted with accusations of child slave labour is not something to be taken lightly. The EU has a clear responsibility here and must ensure that the values espoused in Europe are also upheld in trade agreements. The interim report links Parliament’s approval to improvements in Uzbekistan in the area of child slave labour and to the allowing of international observers to enter the country. I have voted in favour.
David Martin (S&D), in writing. – I voted for this resolution on Uzbekistan and believe that, as long as the Uzbek Government continues to refuse ILO full access, the EU should initiate an investigation into the temporary withdrawal of the GSP rights for Uzbek cotton.
Mario Mauro (PPE), in writing. – (IT) It is absolutely out of the question, given the current human rights situation, that Parliament should give its approval without changes being made in the policies of Uzbekistan. I am in full agreement with the speaker and therefore voted in favour.
Jean-Luc Mélenchon (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (FR) I am in favour of pressuring Uzbekistan to end forced child labour as proposed in this report. Ending such practices should be a precondition of any partnership agreement, for which it seems the negotiators showed little concern. However, I am not in favour of the desire that is expressed in this report to privatise and liberalise the agricultural sector. I therefore abstained.
Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. – (PT) There is every interest in pursuing the implementation of this agreement. However, we cannot forget that there are still serious cases of human rights violations and of the use of child labour in Uzbekistan. As such, I agree with Parliament’s position that will only consider giving approval to this agreement if the Uzbek authorities allow in observers from the International Labour Organisation, so that they may closely monitor the situation unimpeded, and may confirm that palpable reforms have been implemented, showing substantial results able to demonstrate that the practice of forced and child labour is in fact in the process of being eradicated at national, regional and local level.
Paul Murphy (GUE/NGL), in writing. – I voted in favour of the interim report as it stresses the need for an ILO mission to Uzbekistan to monitor the situation of child labour during the cotton harvest. Numerous NGOs have reported that up to 2 million children, some as young as seven years old, are forced to pick cotton, threatened with expulsion from school or physical punishment if they fail to pick a certain quota. On behalf of my political group, I put down amendments to this report in order to strengthen it and to avoid any ambiguity. My position is that no consent can be given to the Protocol until after the ILO had been granted access to Uzbekistan and child labour has effectively been eradicated. Another amendment that I tabled concerned the reforms in the agricultural sector which need to be done in the interest of the Uzbek population and the need to introduce high-level labour, social and ecological standards. Unfortunately, this amendment was defeated and a position adopted in favour of privatisation and market orientation which I strongly reject as they will not lead to an improvement in the living conditions of farmers and children in Uzbekistan.
Katarína Neveďalová (S&D), in writing. – (SK) The Partnership and Cooperation Agreement between the EC and Uzbekistan has been the basis of bilateral relations since its entry into force in 1999. At present, the main issue on the table is that of deepening cooperation, particularly with regard to trade in textiles. Uzbekistan is the third-largest exporter of cotton in the world. It is in the harvesting of cotton that we encounter the biggest obstacle. The issue of forced child labour in cotton harvesting is a topic that has still not been resolved. Uzbekistan has made significant progress in combating this problem in recent years, and UNICEF observers have noted and appreciated these changes and reforms, but unfortunately this is still not enough. One of the last measures that Uzbekistan must carry out is to permit monitoring by observers of the International Labour Organisation (ILO). I have personally visited Uzbekistan several times and have seen that the country is willing to cooperate in this area and is interested in ensuring the complete cessation of forced child labour. I therefore call upon our Uzbek partners to allow access to ILO personnel, so that we can finally move forward. I firmly believe that together we will find the path to agreement.
Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. – (PT) I voted in favour, because I agree with the rapporteurs when they state that, in view of the current human rights situation, it is not appropriate for Parliament to give its approval, without first seeing changes in Uzbekistan and EU policy. We are approving this interim report and the promotion of dialogue with the Council and Commission to secure these changes, so that Parliament can reconsider adoption of the protocol amending the partnership and cooperation agreement at a later date.
Fiorello Provera (EFD), in writing. – (IT) I support the balanced report by Mr Cutaş. Strengthening relations between Europe and Uzbekistan is a pivotal element of our partnership with the countries of Central Asia. Furthermore, the European textiles industry, which has considerable expertise in processing raw materials, can only benefit from free trade with the world’s third biggest cotton exporter and fifth-largest producer of cotton.
However, especially in the textiles industry, closer cooperation must not fail to take into account respect for human rights and for children. As the EU Presidency acknowledged in June, during the cotton harvest the Uzbekistan government uses between 200 000 and 2 million children as a source of labour, closing the schools and dismissing teachers who refuse to send their pupils to work in the plantations. This fact is a serious cause for concern.
Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – In favour. The amendments asking for higher labour-social-ecological standards are crucial. The European Parliament should not allow, for instance, economic interests to prevail on the worrying issue of forced child labour in Uzbekistan.
Tokia Saïfi (PPE), in writing. – (FR) This interim report confirms our concerns with regard to the overall situation of human rights, democracy and the rule of law in Uzbekistan. I am particularly concerned about the repeated allegations of forced labour, especially involving children. Several sources have informed us that during the cotton harvest, schools are closed and children and teachers are obliged to go to work in the fields, in return for inadequate wages, or even no wages at all. We have questioned the Trade Commissioner, Karel De Gucht, several times on this, but have never received a satisfactory explanation or commitment. I voted in favour of this report as it dictates that a future trade agreement with Uzbekistan will only be approved if International Labour Organisation (ILO) observers have confirmed that concrete reforms have been implemented and yielded substantial results in such a way that the practices of forced labour and forced child labour are effectively in the process of being eradicated at national, viloyat and local level.
Matteo Salvini (EFD), in writing. – (IT) As I already mentioned in yesterday’s debate, I voted in favour of the report by Mr Cutaș. However, I demand that the European Commission should act on this important vote and quickly exert all necessary pressure on the government of Uzbekistan to put paid to the use of children in the cotton harvest. Europe cannot enter into agreements with countries that act in such a way. Cotton is a very important raw material for the textiles industry in my Padania. However, we have to insist that it be harvested in accordance with human rights. Children should be in school, not working in fields.
Sergio Paolo Francesco Silvestris (PPE), in writing. – (IT) With this vote we approved a protocol amending a partnership and cooperation agreement with Uzbekistan on trade in textiles. The agreement will be beneficial to EU exporters since it will create legal certainty for them. The value of EU textile exports to Uzbekistan is EUR 16.4 million. Uzbekistan is the world’s fifth-largest producer of cotton and its third biggest cotton exporter, but the victory of human rights there is unfortunately still a utopia. Often the government itself, which controls cotton and the textile industry, uses children as cheap labour. The European Union must therefore put in place a coherent policy towards Uzbekistan, which continues to cause concern with regard to its human rights situation. Valid tools for change do exist, but they need to be implemented.
Charles Tannock (ECR), in writing. – I voted with the ECR in favour of the Cutaş report concerning the draft Council decision to extend the partnership with the Republic of Uzbekistan to cover trade in textiles. If the new protocol came into force, Uzbek cotton would receive MFN status, and there would be no quantitative restrictions on trade with the EU. The allegations against Uzbekistan that it uses forced child labour are serious, and an investigation into the situation by the International Labour Organisation would be beneficial, but long standing traditions that see a school-aged voluntary work-force put to work each year to collect cotton during the harvest, must also be taken into account. Following this we could then consider the potential advantages and disadvantages that could be brought to the situation by the temporary withdrawal of GSP status for Uzbek cotton imported to the EU.
Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. – (PT) The purpose of this report is to include a protocol on textiles in the EU-Uzbekistan Partnership and Cooperation Agreement, thereby inserting a most favoured nation clause, as established by the World Trade Organisation (WTO), and the abolition of quantitative restrictions. However, owing to many allegations from NGOs and international organisations about forced child labour in cotton production, Parliament should only give its consent if the Uzbekistan authorities allow these allegations to be evaluated by the WTO. As such, I am voting for this draft interim report on textiles protocol, and I await the Commission opening dialogue with the authorities, taking human rights into account in the common commercial policy.
Angelika Werthmann (NI), in writing. – (DE) Uzbekistan, a country whose political and economic system is entirely State-run, is the fifth-largest producer of cotton and the third-largest exporter of the same product. More and more children are being deployed in the harvest in order to meet State cotton quotas. The Uzbek Government denies this practice but has refused access to an investigative committee from the International Labour Organization (ILO). In order to guarantee human rights and children’s rights, the EU should instigate measures to withdraw the country’s General System of Preference (GSP) rights for cotton. Products produced through child labour should not be given preferential treatment in future. I have voted in favour of this report.
Freedom of movement for workers within the European Union: (B7-0730/2011)
Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. – (PT) While it is clear that increasing numbers of citizens travel and live in a Member State other than their home state, there are still barriers to the free movement of people, particularly with regard to transitional restrictions on Member State borders. If we intend to be a Union characterised by solidarity and respect for freedom of movement, we should not accept this state of affairs.
Vilija Blinkevičiūtė (S&D), in writing. – (LT) I voted in favour of this resolution because freedom of movement of workers is one of the fundamental values of the European Union and one of its greatest achievements guaranteed by EU law, according to which citizens of an EU Member States may work in another EU Member State on the same terms as the citizens of that Member State. This is probably the most important right granted to persons and it is an essential component of both the single market and European citizenship. Although according to the European Commission’s Communication of 11 November 2011, workers from Romania and Bulgaria have had and continue to have a positive impact on the economies of all the Member States in which they work, some EU Member States still apply employment restrictions to citizens of Romania and Bulgaria. Thus, Member States which wish to extend the restrictions on citizens of those countries to entering the labour market must provide specific, detailed and appropriately justified reasons for any such extension. They must also clearly indicate what risks and labour market disruptions have arisen in their country because, if the reports of other Member States and the Commission are anything to go by, Bulgarian and Romanian workers have only a positive impact on the economy and have not caused any harm to the labour market. Moreover, the Commission must also take measures to end any remaining restriction to fundamental freedoms and to remove any obstacles to the free movement of workers throughout the European Union.
Corina Creţu (S&D), in writing. – (RO) This is an important document addressing an issue which has caused and still causes discriminatory treatment on the labour market towards European citizens from the countries which have recently joined, especially from Romania and Bulgaria. I have highlighted on several occasions this unacceptable practice and its consequences. In spite of the efforts made by MEPs, there are still governments extending the measures blocking access to the labour market for workers from certain countries. Although the proposals and demands featured in the resolution are not worded as strongly as required to bring about a radical change, they mark a step forward in the right direction. If we manage to target what is going on with the recommendations in the resolution, I hope that we will stop talking about this discrimination. With this hope, I voted in favour of adopting the resolution.
Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. – (PT) In the current economic situation, simplifying all the rules that enable increased worker mobility and making them more flexible constitutes an essential requirement for a sustainable economic recovery. Furthermore, the free movement of workers within the EU is one of the fundamental freedoms recognised by our founding Treaties. Without it, the EU would not be what we want it to be: a single market where there is genuine freedom of movement.
José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. – (PT) This joint motion for a resolution, tabled by a number of parliamentary groups, has arisen because, owing to political pressures, some Member States have been placing labour-market restrictions on nationals of Romania and Bulgaria, contradicting the maxim that the EU is an area of free movement of goods and people. The right to live and work in any Member State is one of the fundamental freedoms of the EU, which also recognises the right to freedom from discrimination on the basis of nationality and to equality of treatment. Member States should abolish all barriers by the end of this year, as nothing justifies them economically. On the contrary, the Member States with the greatest number of Romanians and Bulgarians have seen increases in gross domestic product. Their economies have grown and there is no evidence that they have been a burden on the social security system or health services. As such, they have contributed to recovery from the crisis. I voted for this resolution, as we are all European citizens with the same rights and obligations. There is no sense in putting control mechanisms in place and/or restricting the free movement of workers, specifically Romanians or Bulgarians, without a clear and transparent socioeconomic justification for serious disturbance of the labour market.
João Ferreira and Ilda Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (PT) It is not enough to say that freedom of movement for workers is a fundamental principle of the EU. It is important to ensure that everyone is guaranteed equal rights, that EU initiatives and economic policy provide the right jobs for all, and that the socioeconomic mechanisms necessary for preventing any form of social dumping are secured.
It is therefore time to end the restrictions on access to labour markets for Romanian and Bulgarian citizens, given that, in many cases, these restrictions can help to hide bogus self-employment, and undeclared and unregulated work, so jeopardising the rights of all the workers of the host countries, as well as those of these Bulgarian and Romanian citizens.
We know that promotion of neoliberal policies is worsening the situation of unemployment, precarious and badly paid jobs, and illegal work, in which social dumping is proliferating, the exploitation of workers is intensifying and a breeding ground for xenophobia and racism is being created. We demand policies for social and economic progress, that robustly combat all types of discrimination, that defend equal rights and opportunities, and that respect the dignity of the workers.
Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D), in writing. – (SK) The right to live and work in another EU country is one of the fundamental freedoms of the EU, which guarantees equal treatment and protection against discrimination based on nationality, which is an essential component of EU citizenship recognised in the Treaties. Yet two Member States face obstacles regarding the right to work in another Member State. The free movement of workers is a positive socioeconomic example for the EU and the Member States, a milestone in the process of EU integration and economic development and a counterweight to the negative effects of economic crisis, and contributes to the creation of a stronger economic power that is prepared to face the challenges associated with global changes. Member States that did not implement transitional arrangements regarding the free movement of workers from Member States that acceded to the EU in 2004 and 2007 do not report any negative consequences. Many Member States have, however, decided to continue to apply restrictions in their labour markets (with regard to Romanian and Bulgarian nationals), which stem more from political pressures than well-founded negative impacts on their economy and labour market. I think it is necessary to repeal the restrictive transitional periods to allow Bulgarian and Romanian citizens to enjoy the right of equal treatment enshrined in the Treaties, thus ensuring fair competition between businesses and avoiding social and economic dumping.
Ildikó Gáll-Pelcz (PPE), in writing. – (HU) The EU standards relating to the free movement of labour have undergone extensive development since their codification. Encouraging the free movement of labour is of outstanding importance for the whole of Europe, because it both increases competitiveness and promotes economic growth. This is another reason why the result of today’s vote is to be welcomed. Coordination at EU level is in the interest of every European worker, and, at the same time, it is also the key to the implementation of real workforce mobility. It should be stressed that the expected immigration wave did not take place, the actual data do not even come close to the forecasts. The number of workers appearing on the Western European labour market since May this year, when the restrictions imposed on the citizens of Central and Eastern European countries that acceded to the European Union in 2004 were completely lifted, was significantly lower than expected. This also shows that we must do everything we can for EU citizens to be able to undertake work freely over the entire territory of the European Union as soon as possible, thereby ensuring the creation of a unified EU labour market.
Philippe Juvin (PPE), in writing. – (FR) I voted against several of the paragraphs in this resolution on workers’ mobility within the EU, and against the text as a whole as I consider that this resolution, which was added to the plenary agenda at the last minute, has not been sufficiently debated within the relevant European Parliament committees. Moreover, while I feel deeply European and strongly defend the freedom of movement for workers within the EU on a daily basis, I think that the current economic climate forces us to target all of our efforts at national level, in order to tackle youth unemployment in particular.
Constance Le Grip (PPE) , in writing. – (FR) I voted against this resolution on freedom of movement for workers within the EU. This text aimed to open EU Member States’ labour markets completely to Romanian and Bulgarian workers. This resolution, which was added to the plenary agenda, was not examined at all beforehand within the relevant committee. Member States have until 31 December of this year to take the opportunity provided by the Treaties to postpone the full opening of their labour market by two years. With this resolution, though, the European Parliament is expressing its desire to see the barriers to the full free movement of Romanian and Bulgarian workers lifted by the end of this year. That is why I voted against it. I am, of course, in favour of the free movement of workers within the EU area, but the unprecedented crisis that we are currently experiencing and the significantly high unemployment levels, affecting young people in particular, force us to target all of our efforts at national level to get our citizens back on the path to employment.
Petru Constantin Luhan (PPE), in writing. – (RO) I believe that the countries imposing labour market restrictions are making a huge mistake by ignoring the economic benefit for their own society and forcing their people to restrict themselves to making political judgements. Following this logic, the states which are imposing restrictions will attempt to extend them, thereby turning them into electoral instruments. The European Union should take bolder action, especially in the current economic situation. We are in economic deadlock because the European perception of many Member States is in a state of deadlock, and many European governments have abandoned their pro-European statements under the pressure of elections.
I am pleased that we have been having such a lively debate on this subject in the European Parliament. I hope that the upshot of the two resolutions adopted this year will be the lifting of the labour market restrictions on Romanians and Bulgarians. I would like to end by mentioning that the decline in economic activity does not exclude the need for growth. Romanian workers are excluded by austerity, but are in demand where any serious growth plan is involved. For example, a Romanian bricklayer can lay around 5 000 bricks a day in London. British construction companies have noticed the difference and prefer Romanians as it is more difficult to find British bricklayers, and they do not have the same output.
David Martin (S&D), in writing. – I voted against this resolution which calls for the abolition of transnational measures for the free movement of workers.
Jean-Luc Mélenchon (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (FR) This resolution invites Member States to lift the transitional barriers imposed on Bulgarian and Romanian citizens and points out that the right to live and work in another EU Member State is a fundamental aspect of EU citizenship. In this regard, it sends out a positive political signal. However, the resolution supports the Commission proposal aiming to allow Member States to justify that barriers be maintained whereas the resolution that my group and I have proposed calls for these barriers to be lifted by the end of 2011, in accordance with the accession timetable. We cannot, in today’s European Union, let the free circulation of capital come before workers’ right to freedom of movement and freedom of establishment. The regression in citizens’ rights that is occurring in Europe is shameful.
Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. – (PT) Freedom of movement for workers represents a positive socioeconomic example, for both the EU and the Member States. It constitutes a milestone for EU integration, economic development, social cohesion, individual upgrading at professional level, counteracting the negative effects of economic crisis and creating a stronger economic power that is prepared to face the challenges of global change. Moreover, globalisation, new work patterns, demographic change and the development of modes of transport call for a higher degree of mobility among workers. However, the serious disturbances in certain labour markets should be assessed, following the criteria and methodology set out by the Commission, so as to not create significant distortions and impacts.
Elisabeth Morin-Chartier (PPE), in writing. – (FR) In its sitting today, the European Parliament adopted a resolution on the full free movement of workers within the European Union. This resolution, which was added to the sitting agenda at the last minute, was not examined at all beforehand within the relevant committee. This resolution aimed to open Member States’ labour markets completely to Romanian and Bulgarian workers. I decided to vote against it, based on the clause enshrined in the Treaties that enables this full opening of labour markets to be postponed by two years. Every day, I support the free movement of workers in accordance with the EU Treaties as a member of the European Parliament’s Committee on Employment and Social Affairs. However, the unprecedented crisis that we are currently experiencing and the significantly high unemployment levels, affecting young people in particular, force us to target all of our efforts at national level to get our citizens back on the path to employment. As permanent rapporteur on the European Social Fund (ESF) in the 27 Member States, I am firmly committed to supporting European citizens’ integration into the labour market to help them achieve social integration. However, we must not lose sight of the fact that in this difficult economic period, we cannot accept everything.
Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. – (PT) This resolution calls on the Member States that intend to maintain the restrictions on the labour market for Romanian and Bulgarian workers to present in a clear and transparent way an exhaustive justification, following the criteria and methodology set out by the Commission and backed up by convincing arguments and data, including all the socio-economic indicators which led to the conclusion that geographical mobility generates a severe disturbance on their national labour market. As it is certain that the restrictions should be extraordinary and properly founded, I voted for this resolution.
Rovana Plumb (S&D), in writing. – At a time when social conflict is increasing, it is of the utmost importance to guarantee social cohesion in Europe through effective integration policies promoting equal treatment, decent working conditions and social protection, and not to use derogations from fundamental freedom as a political weapon. Mobile workers from Romania and Bulgaria have had a positive impact on the economies of Member States which host mobile workers, being a milestone for EU integration, economic development, social cohesion, individual upgrading at professional level. The transitional measures imposed are counterproductive for combating false self-employment, undeclared work and irregular employment since workers without the right to enter the regular labour market freely sometimes have to work as a false self-employed or irregular worker, resulting in abuses of their labour rights. I have voted today for all transitional measures to be eliminated, given that there are no real economic justifications to restrict the right to work and reside on the territory of another Member State for Romanians and Bulgarians. Bulgarian and Romanian citizens have the right to enjoy equal treatment with the rest of European citizens and this is also a way of ensuring fair competition between businesses and preventing any social and economic dumping.
Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – In favour. This is important because the EP needs to call on the Member States to abolish all transitional measures in force, given that there are no real economic justifications to restrict the right to work and reside on the territory of another Member State for Romanians and Bulgarians. Parliament takes the view that these barriers are counterproductive and represent discriminatory measures against European citizens, creating an EU with unequal rights; As well, it should call on the Council to fully take into account the communication from the European Commission and to follow the proposed line when assessing if the transitional barriers are a favourable and necessary measure.
Birgit Schnieber-Jastram (PPE), in writing. – (DE) The situation in relation to the free movement of workers has been completely reversed in recent years. After joining the European Union in 2004, the Eastern European governments were disgruntled to find their citizens denied the fundamental right of free movement for workers by some of the older Member States by means of exception clauses in the accession treaties. Now our eastern neighbours are doing all they can to encourage well-trained workers to stay at home. It no longer makes sense to continue to exclude even workers with lower qualifications, particularly in Germany, where unemployment is still in decline. The figures show that people from the ‘new’ Member States only account for about 0.7% of the workforce of the ‘older’ Member States. In contrast, people from non-EU states make up around 5% of the EU population of working age – a much higher proportion. Naturally, the situation varies from Member State to Member State. In Germany, the figures are 1% from the ‘new’ Member States and 7% from non-EU states. Experience elsewhere shows that the economy will benefit from free movement for workers.
According to new calculations, economic growth in Ireland in recent years would have been about 0.4% lower without such movement. I intend to vote in favour of the resolution because I am convinced that the European Union and Germany would benefit from free movement for workers. The concerns – which seemed perfectly reasonable at the outset – have not proven justified.
Silvia-Adriana Ţicău (S&D), in writing. – (RO) I voted for the resolution on the freedom of movement for workers within the EU as it is a fundamental right guaranteed to EU citizens. I think that the current barriers preventing the free movement of Romanian and Bulgarian workers are counterproductive for EU citizens, and we call on Member States to repeal any transitional measures in force, given that there is no real economic justification for restricting the right of Romanian and Bulgarian citizens to work and live in another Member State.
We call on the Commission to define clearly ‘serious disturbances of labour markets or the risk of causing such disturbances’ and to produce clear indicators and an improved methodology based on economic and social indicators, which can be used to assess whether there are definite grounds for extending the partial or total restrictions imposed by certain Member States, aimed at tackling the adverse disturbances to their domestic markets which could be caused by Romanian and Bulgarian workers. We call on the Commission and Member States to lift the transitional restriction periods so that Bulgarian and Romanian citizens can enjoy equal treatment, as provided for by the Treaties, thereby guaranteeing fair competition among companies and preventing social and economic dumping.
Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. – (PT) I am voting for this report, because satisfactory results have been obtained over the four years that the EU Strategy for Central Asia has been implemented. The EU has put into action initiatives and programmes that play an important role in supporting the priorities contained in its initial document: good governance, the rule of law, human rights and democratisation; education and training; economic development, trade and investment; transport and energy; environmental sustainability and water management; facing shared threats and challenges; intercultural dialogue. There has been a great deal of activity: the Member States are directly involved in implementing the EU strategy and the European banks (European Investment Bank, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development) now cover the region. However, I should like to draw attention to the fact that since 2007 major changes have taken place in the world: against the background of the global economic and social crisis, a series of Arab revolutions has taken place, and the international coalition is beginning to withdraw from Afghanistan without any clear idea of what the outcome of the war will be after ten years of military engagement. As such, the European Union should remain alert and increase its ties with Asia.
Pino Arlacchi (S&D), in writing. – I voted for this report because, considering that EU assistance funds are too limited to allow the EU to have an impact in all policy areas in Central Asia, I agree with the view that the cornerstones of the EU new approach in the region must be human security and regional cooperation. These issues are among the main sources of instability in Central Asia and can be targeted by EU efforts. In addition to that, I believe an enhanced cooperation between the EU and the five countries of Central Asia is of mutual strategic interest in order to deepen political and economic relations. Furthermore I would like to stress the importance of the implementation of the Central Asian Nuclear Weapons Free Zone by the five Central Asian Republics. The Treaty, with its binding commitment to nuclear disarmament by countries that previously hosted nuclear weapons on their territory and that have neighbours with nuclear weapons, is a significant contribution to the efforts to achieve a world free from nuclear weapons and a powerful example of non-proliferation cooperation.
Adam Bielan (ECR), in writing. – (PL) The development of relations with Central Asian countries is of strategic significance for Europe, because these are dynamically developing countries which are hugely important for the global economy. Now is a good time to summarise what has been achieved by the EU’s strategy for this region, since it has been in operation for four years. It is particularly encouraging to see the regularity of meetings and the strengthening of relationships between high-level representatives, particularly in the face of major events such as the global crisis. At the same time, there are only three EU representations in these countries, which is concerning, and I am therefore pinning great hopes on the proposal to create a regional interparliamentary forum. Another important consideration is the need to increase the EU funds available to implement programmes in this region. This also entails the development of an appropriate strategy for their absorption. I agree that the pillars of our policy towards these countries must be security, the rule of law and respect for human rights, as well as genuine regional cooperation. I support the resolution.
Vilija Blinkevičiūtė (S&D), in writing. – (LT) I voted in favour of this report because the European Union stresses its strong political and economic interest in strengthening its bilateral and multilateral relations with the Central Asian countries in all areas of cooperation, such as stability, security and the sustainable development of the region, trade and economic ties, energy and transport links, reinforcement of dialogue on universal values such as democracy, respect for human rights and the rule of law, and common challenges and threats, including border management and combating drug and human trafficking. The European Parliament considers that the revision of the Strategy for Central Asia needs to take into account the need to back its objectives with sufficient financial resources and to establish appropriate distribution patterns that reflect the realities of every country in the region. Given the financial constraints, the focus should be on those medium- and long-term programmes that may have the biggest impact on the development of the region, notably youth and education, technical assistance to support economic development and the promotion of small and medium-sized enterprises, as well as ensuring water security and combating drug trafficking. Moreover, the European Parliament urges the Commission to integrate visibly, or at least reconcile, its normative, technical and interest-based agendas for Central Asia.
Corina Creţu (S&D), in writing. – (RO) I voted to adopt the report, based on the observation that the EU strategy on the countries in the Central Asia region has proved to be correct and, in spite of the problems which persist, we can see many changes for the good in relation to the objectives that have been pursued. The report quite rightly stresses the importance of supporting the efforts in establishing democracy and the strict respect for civil rights and liberties. The EU can make a more effective contribution to organising and consolidating civil society in the five countries targeted by the report. I positively note the interest shown in the report in supporting measures targeting the sustainable development of the economies in these countries which have suffered terribly in the aftermath of the collapse of the former USSR. I notice the attention focused on the actions for actively tackling poverty in the region, a scourge providing the basis for the development of social violence, religious fanaticism and even terrorist actions. The EU’s determination to fulfil its obligations is noticeable, even in the current crisis conditions.
Anne Delvaux (PPE), in writing. – (FR) The EU strategy for a new partnership with Central Asia was adopted in June 2007 in order to give greater recognition to the increasing importance of the EU’s relations with Central Asia. Following an initial progress report in 2008, the European Commission and Council adopted a joint progress report in June 2010. The aim of this was to assess the strategy’s implementation and provide the initial details on the future direction of priority action areas, taking account of developments in the region and in neighbouring countries.
To that end, I believe that it is important to stress the need to re-assess the strategy and to focus it on the main challenges, which are respect for human rights, the rule of law, water scarcity, energy supply and regional security.
Edite Estrela (S&D), in writing. – (PT) I voted for this report because its purpose is to increase cooperation between the EU and Central Asia, encouraging better management of the region’s water and energy resources, as well as advocating human rights, the rule of law and regional security.
Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. – (PT) Historically, the region of Central Asia has lain within the geostrategic sphere of Russia/the Soviet Union; traces of this coexistence and its influence remain visible to this day. As well as Russia, the strategic interests of China and the US converge in Central Asia, seeking to secure control of energy sources and raw materials. The EU is also seeking to assert itself; however, it is important to acknowledge that it is not as attractive to the local authorities as the other powers mentioned, nor has it been able to provide a completely coherent policy for the region thanks to its internal diversity.
The EU has tried to reverse this state of affairs through using partnership and cooperation agreements, but, despite making significant progress, it is safe to assume that there is a lot of ignorance and little contact between the EU and Central Asia. As we now have our own European External Action Service, the EU should seek to use its soft power to encourage change in these countries, particularly regarding democracy, human rights, the rule of law, free and healthy competition, and opening up markets.
José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. – (PT) This report, drafted by Ms Kiil-Nielsen, concerns the state of implementation of the EU Strategy for Central Asia. This is a very important region for EU foreign policy that, if driven away, could hand geostrategic dominance to Russia and China. Despite problems such as the high level of poverty and drug production, which is often linked to human rights violations, it is a region rich in natural resources and could diversify supply routes, so playing a key role in increasing trade. The EU should therefore review its strategy for the countries of Central Asia, taking into account the conclusions drawn by the report, particularly through supporting projects and initiatives promoting the defence of universal values and human rights. The experience the EU has in terms of inter-regional cooperation gives it the facilitative role of mediator between the five countries in question, and could help stimulate economic development and combat unemployment. I welcome the adoption of this report, which takes particular care to choose which institutions to support, so that EU funds will not be channelled into governmental organisations or those that do not respect human rights.
Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D), in writing. – (SK) Central Asia is of strategic importance to Europe, which is well known but often underestimated. When the strategy was implemented four years ago, the EU launched important initiatives and programmes to support priorities such as good governance, the rule of law, human rights and democratisation, education and training, economic development, trade and investment, transport and energy, environmental sustainability and water management, and the fight against common threats and challenges. Since 2007, however, substantial changes have taken place in the world. Central Asia has seen important, and unfortunately tragic, events, and new political influences have emerged in the region. All of this has prompted the European institutions to look again at their policy towards Central Asia, to take stock of what has been accomplished and to suggest new approaches tailored to the needs of a region that is facing many threats that could have repercussions for Europe. In this respect, the EU should use the appropriate means to reassess its approach to Central Asia as it did in the case of its immediate neighbourhood. It cannot promote ethical considerations in one part of the world while failing to react to violations of its values in another. This would jeopardise its credibility. In all European activities and initiatives, however, human rights and the rule of law in particular must be supported under all circumstances.
Lidia Joanna Geringer de Oedenberg (S&D), in writing. – Central Asia is a significant regional player for many economic, political and strategic reasons. Thus in 2007 the EU introduced a strategy towards the five Central Asian countries, aiming to strengthen and improve the structure and relations between the two regions. This strategy included high-level periodic meetings, cooperation with civil society, resources management and more. Due to changing regional dynamics in Central Asia, caused by inter-ethnic riots, new geostrategic configurations as well as the NATO operation in Afghanistan, the EU has asked to review its 2007 strategy and evaluate its success. The results of this review indicated shortcomings in the 2007 strategy, as standards of good governance and respect to human rights have only slightly improved. In the current state of affairs I welcome the EU’s review and desire to reshape its approach towards Central Asia. Yet I remain hopeful the new strategy will prioritise democracy, respect for human rights and the rule of law above any economic, energy or security interests. This is vital for yielding positive results and for maintaining the EU’s credibility. The new strategy for Central Asia genuinely demonstrates EU’s dedication to the region, for enforced and better cooperation can lead to significant social, economic and political achievements.
Elisabeth Jeggle (PPE), in writing. – (DE) As the shadow rapporteur of the Group of the European People's Party (Christian Democrats) for the report on the state of implementation of the EU Strategy for Central Asia voted upon today, I expressly supported the tackling of strategic political areas such as environmental protection, water and energy on a joint and multilateral basis. My many years of experience as a member of the Central Asia Delegation of the European Parliament tell me that it is of key importance that agreements concluded at summit meetings must also be passed on to the national parliaments of the Central Asian states. I very much welcome the fact that decisions are taken at joint summits and at the highest political level. However, breaking these down on all levels and implementing them on a comprehensive basis poses a major challenge. I would call for opportunities to be developed for dialogue with Members of Parliament from all Central Asian states around a single table within the framework of the Central Asia Delegation. I must emphasise that I am not looking to establish new institutionalised parliamentary assemblies, but rather ad hoc meetings that would be useful in relation to specific topics.
Tunne Kelam (PPE), in writing. – I voted in favour of this report as I believe that the EU has to tighten and deepen its relations with Central Asia. Nevertheless these relations can only be deepened if the countries in the region commit themselves to respecting fully human rights and the rule of law and to heading towards democracy. I call upon the EU to pay greater attention to this matter and use regional cooperation forums to advance human rights dialogues with the states. Special attention needs to be paid to an increasing amount of religiously motivated violence in the region. I wish to point out that the European Parliament has asked the EU to mainstream religious aspects in their human rights policy. The partner countries in Central Asia should also be made aware that resources are a strategic asset that first and foremost should be used to develop their own national economies, invest in local business and education and reduce poverty.
David Martin (S&D), in writing. – I voted for this resolution, which underlines the strong political and economic interest of the EU in strengthening its bi- and multilateral relations with Central Asian countries in all areas of cooperation, such as stability, security and sustainable development of the region, trade and economic relations, energy and transport links, reinforcement of dialogue on universal values such as democracy, respect for human rights and the rule of law, and common challenges and threats, including border management and combating drug and human trafficking.
Jean-Luc Mélenchon (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (FR) This report highlights several points that I agree with regarding respect for human rights and the environment. Unfortunately, these points are only an attempt to cover up imperialist views. The text sees Central Asia above all as a ‘potential source of energy security for the EU’. Moreover, it calls for Central Asian countries to join the WTO and to introduce ‘structural reforms aimed at a market economy’. I voted against.
Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. – (PT) Since Central Asia has a well known, but frequently underestimated, strategic importance for Europe, the EU should reflect on policy for Central Asia, assess the results achieved to date, and suggest new approaches to suit actions for a region faced with many threats that could have repercussions for Europe. I believe, however, that the EU should thoroughly reassess its strategy and step up its participation, concentrating on the objectives and actions most likely to help face the most pressing challenges: human rights and rule of law, water and power supplies, and regional security.
Andreas Mölzer (NI), in writing. – (DE) The report on the status of the implementation of EU strategy for Central Asia is unfortunately not very successful. Although there is no question but that the European Union should pursue a strategy in relation to Asia, this should mainly be restricted to economic aspects. On the other hand, it is open to question whether the European Union should form an opinion in relation to topics such as climate policy and cultural issues in Asian countries. I believe that the report contains some good elements, particularly in terms of the aforementioned economic analyses, but it does not succeed on an overall level as a result of some rather patronising evaluations. Consequently, I abstained from voting.
Katarína Neveďalová (S&D), in writing. – (SK) I consider relations between the European Union and Central Asia to be particularly important. The countries in that region have undergone a truly turbulent history; during the Cold War they were part of the Soviet Union, and after independence they underwent and, indeed, are still undergoing a difficult test in sustainable democracy. Strong authoritarian regimes, such as the government of President Niyazov in Turkmenistan, or the recent violent unrest in Kyrgyzstan, which led to a coup, are just some examples of the complicated situation in Central Asia. Ms Kiil-Nielsen says in her report that discussions and negotiations with the Central Asian countries must be approached with the same emphasis and firmness as we approach our immediate neighbours. Now, I do not wish to assert that, in the case of Central Asia, we should be more lenient on human rights or that we should forgive them something that we would not forgive our other partners. I would, however, like to say that, in our approach to these countries, we should take into account their different culture, the political behaviour of their citizens, and their varying degrees of transition to democracy.
Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. – (PT) The development, in 2007, of an EU strategy for Central Asia marked a new awareness and the desire for a comprehensive, structured approach, which has had positive results. The EU rapporteur’s view is that there should be a thorough reassessment of the EU’s strategy and that steps should be taken to strengthen its engagement, concentrating on those objectives and measures which will contribute most to meeting the most pressing challenges, which she considers to be human rights and the rule of law, water and energy, and regional security. I voted for the report because I consider the expounded strategy balanced.
Fiorello Provera (EFD), in writing. – (IT) With the end of the Cold War Central Asia became increasingly important on the international stage, and its importance is destined to become even greater if, as seems probable, relations between East and West continue to intensify in the next few decades. The success of our strategy therefore has a key role in maintaining stable and fruitful relations with countries in Central Asia.
Unfortunately, the conclusions of the report by Ms Kiil-Nielsen appear to suggest that Europe is not moving in the right direction. Progress has certainly been made, but not enough for those who wish to establish a long-lasting partnership: we provide limited economic support to these countries; corruption is rife in their political regimes; and there is insufficient respect for fundamental rights, with systematic cases of torture, repression of political opposition and child labour.
Finally, as the report points out, dangerous movements with links to Islamic fundamentalism are spreading in the area. For these reasons I voted against the report.
Crescenzio Rivellini (PPE), in writing. – (IT) Today during the sitting in Strasbourg we voted on the report by Ms Nielsen on the state of implementation of the EU Strategy for Central Asia. The rapporteur reminds us that since 2007 the EU has strengthened its relations with the countries of Central Asia, which are of strategic importance to Europe, and has introduced regular bilateral dialogues on human rights and national water policies.
However, the EU has not succeeded in incorporating its various objectives into programmes that are effective and suited to the realities of the region and the — often tragic — events in Central Asia which could have repercussions for Europe. The rapporteur takes the view that the EU must take steps to strengthen its engagement in Central Asia, avoiding an operational mode that gives the highest priority to maintaining the stability of existing regimes in the name of a variety of considerations such as the remote possibility of a diversification of our gas supply or the establishment of military bases to supply the European forces in Afghanistan.
In its new approach the EU must act as a mediator in order to ensure that fundamental human rights are respected by Central Asian governments and that there is real regional cooperation between the countries of Central Asia. Equally important in monitoring these objectives will be the establishment of an ad hoc EU-Central Asia parliamentary forum.
Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – (FR) I am in favour. As the rapporteur Nicole Kiil-Nielsen stated in her press release: ‘In light of the Arab revolutions that are currently shaking the world, the European Parliament is putting conditionality at the heart of its new approach towards this region whilst recommending that the EU enhance its support for civil society, media freedom and social movements. From now on, human rights must form the cornerstone of all our external actions. In order to promote regional cooperation and dialogue between these countries, we recommend that an ad hoc interparliamentary forum be set up. This is something that the EU could propose to the parliaments of the five Central Asian countries via the European Parliament delegation. MEPs would thus be able to share their experience with their counterparts’.
Sergio Paolo Francesco Silvestris (PPE), in writing. – (IT) Central Asia is strategically important in political and economic terms to the European Union. Since 2007, the EU has strengthened its diplomatic relations, as shown by the bilateral discussions on human rights and national water policies. In the countries of Central Asia there are however serious deficits regarding democracy, human rights, the rule of law and fundamental freedoms. Although tangible progress has been made, the limitations of the European strategy vis-à-vis Central Europe are now obvious. Furthermore, the EU has not succeeded in incorporating its various objectives, values and interest into programmes that are effective and suited to the realities of the region. It is hoped that this vote will lead to a series of initiatives to strengthen the EU’s engagement, concentrating on those objectives and measures which will contribute most to meeting the most pressing challenges: human rights and the rule of law, water, energy and regional safety.
Charles Tannock (ECR), in writing. – The strategic importance of Central Asia cannot be underestimated. These vast but comparatively underdeveloped moderate Muslim countries have crucial energy and mineral (including uranium) reserves that remain central to the EU’s energy security: Turkmenistan provides an outlet for gas flow across the Caspian Sea and into the European continent. Geopolitically, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan provide land transport corridors for troop transit to support the ISAF mission in Afghanistan. I strongly agree with the Kiil-Nielsen focus on environmental policy – in Uzbekistan, for example, decades of Soviet environmental mismanagement for purposes of cotton growing have damaged the Aral Sea, and in mountainous Tajikistan, soil erosion through deforestation for agricultural development has led to desertification. A good and sustainable water management policy is indispensible for development in the region. The report also suggests measures to strengthen civil society and the rule of law and human rights, which acts as complementary to the socio-economic development strategy advocated by the report. I was pleased to vote in favour.
Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. – (PT) The EU Strategy for a new Partnership with Central Asia was set out in 2007, demonstrating the importance of this geographical area in a global context. The principles of cooperation that form the basis of this partnership are not a significant departure from those established with other third countries, particularly in the areas of human rights, the rule of law, good governance and democracy, education, economic development, business and investment, energy and transport, environment, intercultural dialogue, and common threats and challenges. This report aims, once more, to mark the importance of the main challenges of this partnership, by strengthening the participation of NGOs and civil society, so that new funding channels can be set up. Help given should be conditional on the progress shown in the annual reports. I am voting for the adoption of this document and the oral amendment tabled on creating an inter-parliamentary forum for the EU with national parliaments of Central Asia.
Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. – (PT) The EU Strategy for a new Partnership with Central Asia was set out in 2007, demonstrating the importance of this geographical area in a global context. The principles of cooperation that form the basis of this partnership are not a significant departure from those established with other third countries, particularly in the areas of human rights, the rule of law, good governance and democracy, education, economic development, business and investment, energy and transport, environment, intercultural dialogue and common threats and challenges. This report aims, once more, to mark the importance of the main challenges of this partnership, by strengthening the participation of NGOs and civil society, so that new funding channels can be set up. Help given should be conditional on the progress shown in the annual reports. I am voting for the adoption of this document and the oral amendment tabled on creating an inter-parliamentary forum for the EU with national parliaments of Central Asia.
Silvia-Adriana Ţicău (S&D), in writing. – (RO) I voted for the resolution on the state of implementation of the EU Strategy for Central Asia because this region is of paramount importance to the EU in terms of its commercial potential and energy security, and it has been affected by the recent global financial and economic crisis. I should stress the importance of energy in the relations with the countries in Central Asia, given that it is a major source of revenue for these states, as well as being a potential source of energy security for the EU.
The EU and the countries of Central Asia share a common interest in diversifying export routes and cooperating on energy and environmental sustainability. I should emphasise that energy shortages (for example, for heating and electricity) exacerbate the situation of poor people in the countries of Central Asia, and the EU, in keeping with its climate change commitments, should step up its assistance in this region, with a view to devising a sustainable energy policy, also based on energy efficiency and renewable sources of energy. I think that the review of the EU Strategy for Central Asia must take into account the need to support its objectives with adequate financial resources and define suitable distribution models reflecting the actual situation in each country in the region.
Angelika Werthmann (NI), in writing. – (DE) Even though the Central Asia Strategy introduced by the EU in 2007 has produced significant successes, it must be reconsidered and adapted to current conditions. In particular, the EU must oppose the repressive methods with which some Central Asian governments are seeking to secure the stability of their regimes, which are based on personal power. The EU should on no account support these regimes any longer out of self-interest, such as concern for the supply of natural gas, but instead must actively uphold the safety of citizens and compliance with human rights. Furthermore, problems such as organised crime, drug trafficking, people trafficking and climate change must be tackled. I have voted in favour.
Iva Zanicchi (PPE), in writing. – (IT) I voted in favour of the text presented by Ms Kiil-Nielsen which examines the results (and future implementation prospects) of the strategy the European Union has put in place in Central Asia. The report underlines the increased multilateral cooperation and positive changes brought about by European aid, but also calls once again for more commitment in promoting respect for human rights and economic development in the countries in question, and hopes that the EU will increase its presence in such areas.
Joachim Zeller (PPE), in writing. – (DE) The EU’s Central Asia Strategy was established in 2007. No one would deny the increasing role played by the Central Asian states in their region in the geopolitical context. They deserve our full attention as economic partners but also as states which still have a long way to go in terms of democratisation, modernisation and the rule of law as they enter their third decade of independence from the former Soviet Union. Unfortunately, Parliament has once again missed out on an opportunity to deal with this issue, allowing the report from Ms Kiil-Nielsen to pass without debate. This draws attention to deficiencies in the EU’s pursuit of a uniform strategy in relation to Central Asia, but offers no new impetus and seeks to ‘censure’ individual states on the basis of a narrow set of criteria. Because of these weaknesses in the report, I had no alternative but to abstain from voting.
Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. – (PT) I am voting for this report, which makes a full analysis of the implementation of the European 2007-2012 strategy on health and safety at work. It is essential to ensure a higher level of health and safety at work, to prevent risks, to reduce rates of occupational accidents and diseases, and to take into consideration the positive impact of good workplace health and safety management at national and European level, as well as at company level. I do not doubt that adequate prevention for workers fosters well-being, quality of work and productivity. I would highlight a growing phenomenon that also has an impact in this area: subcontracting and temporary work, which often involve tense and sometimes illegal labour relations, making identification of responsibility for workplace health and safety provisions difficult. Finally, I would like to emphasise the need to pay more attention to the growing impact of chronic, work-related health problems, such as musculoskeletal disorders and psycho-social risks.
Elena Oana Antonescu (PPE), in writing. – (RO) As indicated in several studies carried out on international and European organisations, one of the key elements in making health policies more effective in terms of reducing costs and improving the general standard of health is to encourage disease prevention. The way in which work or production activities are organised must not breach this absolute requirement of European policies. It is important that the actions of European institutions are aimed at monitoring occupational risks and diseases, by attempting to integrate the definitions and instruments of the health policy applied by Member States.
At the same time, the objective of the policies must be, in line with the provisions of the Europe 2020 strategy, to avoid discriminatory treatment or any differentiation between categories of European workers in terms of access to health-care services. Likewise, these policies must also consider the position of more vulnerable professional groups exposed to additional health risks.
The policies must therefore meet the interests of young or elderly employees, foreign workers or those employed on a temporary contract basis. Another priority is the importance of establishing a single European legislative framework regulating subcontractors’ obligations to their employees in terms of insurance and health-care services.
Sophie Auconie (PPE), in writing. – (FR) Today, between 168 000 and 7 million European citizens are affected by work-related accidents and diseases. Given that there is EU legislation on health and safety at work, these figures are still too high. I therefore voted in favour of the Delli report, which advocates an impact assessment on new technologies and that nanomaterials, whose use entails some risks, be included in the current legislation.
Jean-Luc Bennahmias (ALDE), in writing. – (FR) Every year, 168 000 European citizens die every year from work-related accidents or diseases, and 7 million are injured in accidents in the workplace. The increasing number of employees on sick leave for physical or psychological reasons highlights a serious problem in Europe’s current world of work. Ensuring health and safety at work is therefore one of the major challenges with regard to employees’ daily lives. Good working conditions are needed to enable there to be trust in the employer-employee relationship. I fully support the values promoted by Ms Delli’s own-initiative report, which was adopted by a very large majority on Thursday 15 December. The recognition and assessment of the possible risks of using and having new technologies – such as nanomaterials – in the workplace is a significant step forward. Above all, the increased awareness of the challenge that stress at work represents is crucial. Stress is a major barrier to productivity in Europe and is characteristic of the genuine sense of unease felt by many workers. In order to combat this phenomenon, awareness and understanding of the issue must be strengthened among employers, workers and their representatives.
Sergio Berlato (PPE), in writing. – (IT) A consistent body of legislation exists on occupational health and safety (OHS) which makes it possible to implement the European Treaties and the Charter of Fundamental Rights in the field of occupational health and guarantees respect for citizens’ fundamental right to health. However, the Community Strategy 2007-2012 makes clear that this is not sufficient, but that the legislation needs to be developed to adapt it to new risks, such as psycho-social risks. In my view the implementation of policies and practices promoting health at work has beneficial results in all areas, economic, social and personal. I believe that labour inspectorates verify that OSH legislation is properly applied and therefore they have a crucial role in preventing and monitoring risks. In my view inspectors also play a positive role in improving the provision of information and the level of expertise in an enterprise. The Member States should therefore strengthen the staff and resources of their labour inspection services. In this context, it is important to identify the categories of workers at risk so as to determine the appropriate responses so they enjoy effective respect for their fundamental right to health.
Mara Bizzotto (EFD ), in writing. – (IT) The report focuses in some parts on the condition of ethnic minorities and immigrants as particularly vulnerable categories. In this regard, the text proposes the introduction of targeted incentives that Member States should implement in order to improve the conditions of the above categories of people in the labour market. Furthermore, the report repeatedly refers to the need to increase the employment of immigrants, reminding us that this objective is included in the Europe 2020 Strategy. I do not agree with these parts of the report, which pays attention to classes of people no more vulnerable than millions of European citizens who, in the current crisis, are in serious difficulties from an employment, social and economic point of view. Today more than ever, the Member States should concentrate all their efforts on these people before thinking about other vulnerable social groups. I therefore voted against the report.
Vilija Blinkevičiūtė (S&D), in writing. – (LT) I voted in favour of this report because the right to health is a fundamental right and all workers must enjoy the same legal guarantees and working conditions which protect their health, safety and dignity at work. We should be aware that technological development and evolving economic and social conditions are constantly changing work places and practices, and rapid political, administrative and technical responses are therefore essential in order to guarantee a high level of health and safety at work. In addition, greater attention should be paid to risk prevention, which is necessary in order to reduce the number of occupational accidents and illnesses. Good management of workers’ health and safety systems has a positive impact at both national and European levels and for specific companies. Thus, the branches of occupational health and safety policies must be harmonised at European and national levels and be comprehensively reflected in other public policies, such as health, employment, industry, the environment, transport, education, energy, regional development, public procurement and the internal market. Gender-mainstreaming should also be implemented in all policy areas in order to better reflect the specific risks faced by female workers. The adoption, planning and implementation of national strategies should take into consideration the specific situation of each Member State, targeting the sectors and companies most affected by occupational accidents.
Sebastian Valentin Bodu (PPE), in writing. – (RO) The EU has substantial legislation on occupational health and safety, which makes it possible to implement the European Treaties and the Charter of Fundamental Rights in the field of occupational health. However, this fact is far from adequate to guarantee occupational health and safety as reality is forcing us to take increasingly into account psycho-social risks. These risks are not covered well enough by EU or national legislation. At European level, companies address these risks by providing occupational training programmes. However, workers suffer most often due to the organisation of work and an unsuitable management style.
This makes it necessary to examine the connection between the drawbacks of the workplace and the organisation of work. I must mention the positive role played by staff who legitimately warn about unrecognised risks within a company. Whistle-blowing should be protected, as it is in some countries in Europe and elsewhere in the world. In the United Kingdom whistle-blowers have been protected against dismissal and any form of pressure since 1998. In the United States the protection of whistle-blowers depends in particular on the subject of the whistle-blowing and the status of the whistle-blower.
Philippe Boulland (PPE), in writing. – (FR) Technological development and changes in economic and social conditions are constantly changing work places and practices. Given the fact that 168 000 European citizens die every year from work-related accidents or diseases and 7 million are injured in accidents, the European Parliament wishes to see the introduction of rapid political, administrative and technical responses in order to guarantee a high level of health and safety at work. In this context, people responsible for warning the authorities of possible risks in their workplace should be able to benefit from some form of protection in order to prevent any pressure being exerted on them (threats of dismissal etc.). Here in the European Parliament we are calling for the European Commission to propose a directive along these lines. Moreover, stress at work is still given insufficient consideration by employers, workers or their representatives, which is why we also hope that the Commission will take the necessary measures to ensure that the Framework Agreement on Work-related Stress in the EU is properly implemented in every Member State.
Lara Comi (PPE ), in writing. – (IT) I am in favour of the European strategy on health and safety at work. We believe that technological developments and changes in economic and social conditions are also changing workplaces and practices. Rapid political. administrative and technical responses are therefore essential in order to guarantee a high level of health and safety at work. The economic effects of the crisis and the severe economic downturn in some Member States should not serve as a pretext for the defective application of legislation on health and safety at work. It is therefore important that the EU and the Member States develop a European programme for the monitoring of occupational hazards based on health indicators, definitions and epidemiological tools common to the 27 Member States. Furthermore, I underline the need for an integrated approach to monitoring, taking into account both the career paths of current employees and the state of health of those who have retired. It is important to support the Europe 2020 Strategy, which aims to attain an employment rate of 75% by the end of 2020, with priority for the employment of women, young people, older workers, the low-skilled and legal immigrants.
Corina Creţu (S&D), in writing. – (RO) This is an extremely valuable report concerning an important area: occupational health and safety. This is an area where we have seen a steady deterioration in the situation of workers, no matter what their profession. One example of this would be the rise in the number of suicides in the workplace or the death of some workers through burn-out. In addition, a number of legislative amendments have been introduced, under pressure from employers, which exacerbate the situation of workers and their state of physical and mental health. The observations made in the report are alarming and highlight the need for immediate action to change the situation.
I regard as vital the recommendation made by the European Commission, which is to facilitate the development of European health and safety standards in companies, emphasising the need for cooperation from Member States in not only researching the causes of occupational accidents, but also in sharing best practices. I also regard as being just as important the call made to the European Commission and Member States to propose measures for adapting working conditions better for people with cancer or other occupational and chronic diseases. I voted to adopt this report as I firmly believe in the need for it and for the measures proposed by its authors.
Vasilica Viorica Dăncilă (S&D), in writing. – (RO) Demographic change across Europe requires suitable measures to be taken by Member States for providing the services required by the elderly and ensuring the availability of staff trained in areas such as cleaning, care services and retirement homes. However, this also requires efforts from Member States to ensure compliance with accident prevention policies, especially in the case of part-time work programmes for which women are preferred.
I think that particular attention must be paid in the case of outsourcing activities, such as subcontracting chains, secondment of workers abroad or agency contracts for young people and students.
Proinsias De Rossa (S&D), in writing. – Each year 168 000 people die and over seven million are injured from work-related accidents in Europe. In addition to these individual personal tragedies, the economic costs of these accidents represent a huge burden on our societies, up to 5.9% of GDP according to the rapporteur. I am disappointed that neither the Commission’s mid-term revision of the current strategy nor the 2009 Scoreboard provided any clear information on the state of play at Member State level of the only quantified aim set in the current strategy, namely a 25% reduction in workplace accidents by 2012. The economic crisis cannot be used to undermine health and safety, particularly among SMEs or self-employed workers; all workers are entitled to the protection of their health and safety in their workplace. We need to develop a better culture of prevention. As recommended by the ILO, Member States must meet the target of one inspector for every 10 000 workers. I would encourage the Commission to come forward with an ambitious strategy for the EU after 2012, particularly in the areas of new risks, work-related stress and the protection of whistleblowers.
Anne Delvaux (PPE), in writing. – (FR) I welcome the vote on this report, which, in paragraph 71, addresses a very current issue: that of stress at work. I particularly pressed for the adoption of this paragraph. I also share the view that, to effectively combat stress in the workplace, specialised training on the topic of stress at work should be introduced and developed, as well as workshops on teamwork and improving the integration of a given group of workers.
Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. – (PT) Naturally, I agree with the need to protect workers from all risks to their health and safety at work. There is already broad agreement on this Europe and other developed countries and an appropriate body of legislation.
Happily, we are far removed from the black picture of working conditions in the United Kingdom that Charles Dickens described in the 19th century. Without jeopardising this already established protection, it is important to think whether this is the time to ask for more protection for workers. The truth is that we are going through a most difficult economic crisis and unemployment is on the rise throughout Europe.
This may be the time for us to create more jobs to boost the European economy and not to create more rules and more obligations for employers. Otherwise, ultimately, we risk hurting the workers we want to protect.
José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. – (PT) The economic and financial crisis cannot be an excuse for neglecting workplace health and safety. Thousands of people die, at huge cost to people, businesses and social security. We have to guard against occupational diseases, both physical and mental. The text under consideration concerns the mid-term review of the European strategy 2007-2014 on health and safety at work. According to this report, 168 000 EU citizens every year die victims of accidents at work or of occupational diseases and 7 million are injured. It is a subject that requires a new approach, so as to reduce the risk of occupational accidents and diseases, which would bring considerable savings, and would improve productivity and quality of life. The potential risks of new diseases due to new technologies and new substances, like nanomaterials, should be taken into account in the legislation in force, as should work-related stress. Furthermore, it is crucial that workers feel at liberty to blow the whistle on any situations liable to cause an accident and do not feel constrained to keep quiet. That is why I voted in favour.
João Ferreira and Ilda Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (PT) The report adopted today criticises the mid-term review of the Community strategy on health and safety at work. It also states that the review did not supply any substantive information about the situation of the Member States in relation to EU strategy. It also stresses that the large majority of Member States have, to date, still not set targets for occupational diseases, health problems and illnesses related to work and professional risk factors, or in high-risk sectors, as provided for in this EU strategy.
The report centres on positive aspects that we support, such as advocating preventative action, health and safety at work preparation, and also full protection for temporary workers, those in part-time jobs and more vulnerable workers. It also seeks to put a greater focus on stress and on psychosocial risk factors. It stresses statistics broken down according to gender and risk assessment reflecting gender differences. It aims to improve worker participation in the conception, support and implementation of prevention policy and calls for stronger links with the Regulation on Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals, advocating a ban on asbestos, and reemphasises the International Labour Organisation recommendation about risk prevention inspectors and work inspectors.
We voted for this report for these reasons.
Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D), in writing. – (SK) Health and safety at work is now one of the most important and most highly developed aspects of EU employment and social affairs policy. Thanks to the adoption and application, in recent decades, of a large body of EU laws, it has been possible to improve working conditions in the EU Member States and to make considerable progress in reducing the incidence of work-related accidents and illnesses. For both economic and human reasons, health and safety at work deserves considerable attention in the EU’s policy agenda, since it plays an important role in increasing the competitiveness and productivity of enterprises and contributing to the sustainability of social security systems. It results in reduced costs for injuries, accidents and diseases and enhances worker motivation. Occupational accidents and diseases represent an enormous burden for public and private social security systems and require an integrated, coordinated and strategic response, as well as cooperation between the main parties involved in the EU. I think that it will be desirable to focus in future health and safety legislation on the promotion and use of technologies that reduce the risks posed by dangerous substances, in the case of occupational injuries. It would also be advisable to consider whether these technologies could replace the use of chemical and radioactive substances.
Pat the Cope Gallagher (ALDE), in writing. – I welcome the adoption of this report on health and safety at work. The number of occupational accidents in Europe remains too high, especially in the construction, agricultural and fisheries sectors.
Ildikó Gáll-Pelcz (PPE), in writing. – (HU) It is an increasingly widespread view that ensuring compliance with the law in itself is not sufficient for the EU to achieve its target relating to the reduction of accidents at the workplace, as defined in the Community strategy on health and safety at work. Further steps must be taken in the interest of ensuring that prevention policies extend to all employees, and there is also a need for more respect for health-related fundamental rights. In the interest of taking the appropriate steps, this report – which I too support – identifies the categories of employees at risk and those who are not covered by the prevention policies. Of course, in addition to this we also need Member States to observe both the letter and the spirit of the framework directive. It is important for those directly affected, namely employees and all persons with access to workplaces, to have the opportunity to participate in the risk identification and prevention process.
Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. – (LT) A consistent acquis communautaire exists on occupational health and safety in the form of the 1989 framework directive and other directives on specific risks or sectors, and not forgetting REACH. This body of legislation makes it possible to implement the European Treaties and the Charter of Fundamental Rights in the field of occupational health and guarantees respect for the fundamental right to health. However, the Strategy makes clear that this is not sufficient. This legislation needs to be developed to adapt it to new risks. The implementation of policies and practices promoting health at work has beneficial results in four areas (economic benefits, social benefits, staff benefits and benefits to do with the image of the enterprise), and I therefore voted in favour of this document.
Philippe Juvin (PPE), in writing. – (FR) The Delli report proposes a mid-term review of the Community strategy 2007-2012 on health and safety at work. I am very committed to this issue and I was the shadow rapporteur for the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) on the Kadenbach opinion in the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety. I supported this report in plenary because it is a good report, which seeks to take into consideration the new psychosocial, environmental and physical challenges (notably musculoskeletal disorders).
Petru Constantin Luhan (PPE), in writing. – (RO) The subject of this report is topical as we all know that jobs tend to be more productive, the better they are for the worker’s health. Against the backdrop of the current financial crisis, there is a risk of companies considering a reduction in investment in occupational health and safety. Young people are a vulnerable group as they are more concerned about immediate job security, failing to consider the long-term consequences of an illness or injuries sustained when young. I think that for the very purpose of protecting this group, we must develop:
a European programme to monitor occupational risks among young people, based on health indicators;
professional training programmes providing specific information about the relevant sector to young people in their first months at work.
David Martin (S&D), in writing. – I voted for this report which calls on the Commission to submit a proposal to Parliament and the Council in 2012 seeking to ban smoking everywhere at the workplace, including indoor catering establishments, on all public transport and in all enclosed public buildings within the EU.
Mairead McGuinness (PPE), in writing. – It is important that a harmonised European approach is adopted in order to improve health and safety at work in the EU. This report aims to outline a review of the European Union’s strategy towards an ongoing, sustainable and uniform reduction in accidents at work and occupational illnesses. I am particularly concerned about the increasing number of accidents on farms in Ireland and welcome efforts made by the Commission to address this. I voted in favour of this report.
Jean-Luc Mélenchon (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (FR) This text is a good start. Unfortunately, it is not declaratory. It gives a comprehensive overview of the risks of work-related accidents and occupational diseases. It emphasises, in particular, job insecurity and its impact on workers’ health. It expresses concern about the fact that workers are increasingly subjected to non-standard forms of employment such as part-time work, teleworking, disjointed hours, Sunday work and night work. It also advocates sanctions against enterprises that do not respect workers’ rights and recommends enhanced work inspections. Because of these positive aspects, I voted in favour of this text, despite its desire to ‘prolong older workers’ active working lives’, which could result in an increase in the age at which our fellow citizens can retire, which I strongly oppose. I nevertheless voted in favour.
Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. – (PT) I welcome the adoption of the mid-term review of the Community strategy for health and safety at work. Besides the right to health being a basic one, all workers benefit from the legal guarantee of working conditions that respect their health, safety and dignity. I would also draw attention to the positive impact of good management of health and safety at work at national and European level, as well as at company level.
Alajos Mészáros (PPE), in writing. – (HU) In the interest of protecting the rights of our workers and solving their current problems, the Community strategy on health and safety at work must be adjusted to the technological and demographic changes of recent years. One of the important aims of the strategy should be the reduction of the proportion of accidents and illnesses occurring at the workplace. I find the protection of workers in high-risk categories to be especially important. These include people working in hazardous sectors, such as construction industry and chemical industry workers, people with disabilities, young workers and women. Nowadays, the psychological pressure caused by work-related stress and deadlines is a negative factor of exceedingly great significance. This is primarily caused by poor work organisation and management style. I completely agree with the view that we must be careful not to allow the austerity measures caused by the economic crisis to be implemented at the expense of safety at work under any circumstances. It is important to use uniform standards in all EU Member States. Unfortunately, this has not been the case in recent years, but I trust that the harmonisation taking place in this respect will be successful.
Andreas Mölzer (NI), in writing. – (DE) It is a well known fact that employees are the ones who suffer when labour organisation and management are poor. Investigations into links between health problems in the workplace and labour organisation will change nothing in this regard. Many psychosocial risks are also linked to the increasing stress of a globalised working environment and developments in modern society. As the rapporteur rightly points out, not all problems can be resolved through legal provisions. There is reason to suspect that Brussels has not grasped this fact, however. After all, the protection of workers has been used as the pretext for an attempt to regulate the consumption of cigarettes in restaurants, instead of openly admitting the underlying concern for the health of non-smokers and seeking solutions acceptable to our citizens and workable in everyday situations. I took these considerations into account when deciding how to vote.
Radvilė Morkūnaitė-Mikulėnienė (PPE), in writing. – (LT) While welcoming this document, I wish to draw attention to one aspect: in order to ensure adequate occupational health and safety, somewhat more attention needs to be paid to training workers. Often training does not take place at all or is very superficial, particularly in places like building sites, where the majority of workers are unskilled and this later leads to many tragic accidents. Company representatives responsible for worker safety should therefore take active steps to train workers, and work safety supervisory bodies should pay greater attention to explaining the importance of proper and timely training of workers.
Georgios Papanikolaou (PPE), in writing. – (EL) I voted in favour of the report, which is extremely important, given the insecurity prevailing among workers in numerous EU Member States as a result of the economic crisis and high unemployment rates. The report makes the vital point that the Member States should increase workplace inspection staff and funds and achieve a target of one inspector per 10 000 workers, in keeping with the recommendations of the International Labour Organisation, which are currently being flouted. At the same time, greater emphasis needs to be placed on workers’ mental health problems, so that they are in keeping with procedures to identify and prevent risks in the workplace.
Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. – (PT) I voted in favour, as I agree with the strategy of linking all workers to prevention policies. In order to give a proper response, I believe it is important to identify the categories of workers at risk, as well as uninsured workers, adopting measures so that all workers will be covered by prevention policies and properly benefit from respect for their fundamental right to health.
Rovana Plumb (S&D), in writing. – (RO) At the moment, the EU is facing an ageing population, with the trend towards longer working lives and the need to raise healthy life expectancy. Inequalities have been observed in life expectancy between different socioprofessional categories and in the level of hardship at work. Every year 168 000 European citizens die as a result of work-related accidents or diseases, while 7 million are injured in work-related accidents. Labour inspections play a vital role through education, persuasion and encouragement in terms of verifying the enforcement of the current legislation and the level of prevention, in particular by ascertaining compliance with decent working conditions for vulnerable categories of workers or in occupations in which undeclared work may occur.
Member States must guarantee high standards in the instruction and ongoing training of labour inspectors, monitor regular medical examinations, evaluate their results with a view to ensuring that workers’ state of health meets the requirements of the workplace, and tighten the sanctions against companies not complying with their obligations concerning workers’ fundamental rights. I call on the European Commission to draw up good practice guides in this area, stressing the need for Member States to organise exchanges of good practice with a view to improving workers’ efficiency in the workplace.
Frédérique Ries (ALDE), in writing. – (FR) Workers’ rights to health, to security and to dignity in the EU are fundamental principles that are often infringed in daily life. That is what the European Parliament is emphasising in the Delli report adopted at noon today.
The assessment of the Community strategy 2007-2012 on health and safety at work is mixed at best: 168 000 European citizens die every year from work-related accidents or diseases and 7 million citizens are injured in accidents. The current situation is clearly difficult and European workers are among those worst affected by the economic crisis and the ensuing repercussions: fear of losing one’s job, increased stress and so on.
It is also important to take into account the increased health risks posed by technological developments and the widespread presence in the working environment of harmful substances. It is now time to reverse that trend, starting next year with the new strategy. That is why Members of the European Parliament are calling for better risk-prevention measures for workers.
It is time to shift the focus back to welfare, to high-quality, secure, decent work and to productivity, and these aspects must thus become the fundamental, urgent objectives of a more ambitious, more reactive European policy.
Robert Rochefort (ALDE), in writing. – (FR) We have implemented a great deal of legislation on health and safety at work: the OHS Framework Directive, several specific Directives, the REACH Regulation etc. However, more than 160 000 European citizens die every year from work-related accidents or diseases. An important element is thus to ensure that the spirit of the texts is respected when they are implemented in the Member States. We must also ensure that the vital role of on-site labour inspections is strengthened. This report, which I supported, also proposes adapting and developing the body of European legislation in order to take account of a number of current challenges that we are facing, notably: preventing psycho-social risks in the workplace; maintaining physical and psychosocial health, given the trend towards longer working lives; and even taking into account potential risks linked to the new technologies, harmful substances and nanomaterials. Finally, the prevention and protection policies we implement must be adapted to include all categories of high-risk workers (chemical risks, radioactive risks, substances toxic for reproduction) and workers involved in atypical forms of employment (temporary workers, transferred workers, seasonal workers, people working on a part-time basis or undertaking a great deal of teleworking and so on).
Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – (FR) In favour. I am very happy with this report led by my colleague Karima Delli and, like her, I welcome the fact that it was approved by a very large majority, which is a strong signal from Parliament.
Under no circumstances can we allow this crisis to be a pretext for neglecting health and safety at work. Workers’ suffering cannot be sacrificed on the altar of austerity. How could we be anything but shocked at the following statistics?
According to the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work, 168 000 people die every year in Europe as a result of work-related accidents and diseases. More than half of these are cancers and a quarter are cardiovascular diseases. In addition, 7 million people are injured in work-related accidents.
Licia Ronzulli (PPE), in writing. – (IT) Current legislation on occupational health and safety (OHS) is based on Framework Directive 89/39/EEC and other directives on specific risks or sectors. The Community strategy 2007-2012 however points out that the legislative framework is not sufficient. The legislation needs to be developed in order to adapt it to new risks, such as psycho-social risks. By adopting this resolution today, the House has emphasised that employers must guarantee workers’ health and safety in all work-related areas, even when using people or services external to the company. The Member States are invited to strengthen the staff and resources of their labour inspection services and seek to achieve the objective of one inspector per 10 000 workers, in accordance with International Labour Organisation recommendations.
Oreste Rossi (EFD), in writing. — (IT) The implementation of policies and practices promoting health at work has beneficial results in four areas: economic benefits, social benefits, staff benefits and benefits to do with the image of the enterprise. Labour inspectorates verify that occupational safety and health (OSH) legislation is properly applied and therefore they have a crucial role in preventing and monitoring risks. Inspectors also play a positive role in improving the provision of information and the level of expertise in an enterprise.
The Member States should therefore strengthen the staff and resources of their respective labour inspection services and achieve the objective of one inspector per 10 000 workers, in accordance with International Labour Organization recommendations. I agree with the text of the report, but the clauses indicating immigrants and ethnic minorities as vulnerable categories that should receive special treatment are unacceptable.
Sergio Paolo Francesco Silvestris (PPE), in writing. – (IT) Europe is currently facing a period of major changes in occupational health and safety. If, on the one hand, it is important to focus strategies on three key points — stress, burn-out at work and repetitive strain injury (RSI) — on the other, national strategies should devote greater efforts and resources to prevention. One of the objectives of this vote is in fact to develop statistical means to evaluate prevention, not solely in terms of accidents, but also in terms of pathologies and the percentage of workers exposed to chemical, physical or biological agents and to dangerous situations from the point of view of organisation of work. Harmonisation at European level should also be developed and all workers should be included in prevention policies.
Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. – (PT) European legislation on health and safety at work is already fairly comprehensive, in line with the Treaty and Charter of Fundamental Rights. However, according to this report, there are measures still to be taken, particularly with regard to psychological and social conditions. At the same time, there is a call for the Member States to apply the directives already adopted, so that harmonisation can be increasingly broad. In addition, as preventative measures, Parliament is asking the Member States to increase staff and resources for workplace inspections and strengthen a worker/employer partnership, in view of the shortcomings that may exist in an organisation and in the workplace. Health and safety at work cannot be seen as just one more burden for businesses, but rather as a way of increasing well-being in the workplace, leading to greater productivity.
Silvia-Adriana Ţicău (S&D), in writing. – (RO) I voted for the European Parliament resolution on the mid-term review of the Community strategy 2007-2012 on health and safety at work because the right to health is a fundamental right and all workers enjoy a legal guarantee of working conditions which respect their health, safety and dignity.
Studies show that young workers aged between 15 and 24 are exposed to particularly high risks of injury, and the long-term consequences of an illness or injuries sustained when young may be considerable. This is why I continue to support the need to include an occupational health and security aspect in existing EU programmes, such as the ‘Youth on the Move’ programme.
I voted against paragraph F which considers that extending elderly workers’ working life offers a solution to the labour shortage. I also voted against paragraph 71 because I consider that, in order to reduce stress at work, introducing specialised training on how to work under stressful conditions, as well as workshops on teamwork and improving the integration of a given group of workers is not sufficient. What is needed is for working conditions to be improved in practical terms.
Derek Vaughan (S&D), in writing. – I support calls to reinforce legislation on health and safety for people in the workplace. As many as 168 000 workers across Europe die each year as a result of work-related accidents or diseases – we need to look specifically at the risks associated with new technologies and harmful substances to make sure that appropriate legislation is put in place. I also welcome calls to ensure the protection of whistleblowers in the workplace – people should be able to warn of risks at work without fear of reprisal and the practice of ‘blacklisting’ those who speak out must be brought to an end. I am however disappointed that UK Conservatives refused to support an end to this unfair behaviour. The report also deals with work-related stress, which is a major problem for many people, especially with the increasing number of people being made redundant as a result of the economic crisis. Awareness of this issue needs to be raised with employees, employers and trade unions in order to help increase productivity in the workplace and ensure the wellbeing of workers.
Angelika Werthmann (NI), in writing. – (DE) The EU has an extensive aquis communautaire in the area of occupational health and safety in the form of the 1989 framework directive, the Directive on Risks and REACH. This needs to be adapted to encompass new risks, however, such as psychosocial illnesses. Furthermore, high-risk groups, such as construction workers or those in dangerous jobs, must be afforded particular protection. This is why there is a need for more information for employees in relation to preventive measures, as well as regular training for employees in hazardous professions. Better protection for workers will also have positive consequences for work productivity and the competitiveness of businesses, as well as reducing costs for social security systems. I have voted in favour.
Iva Zanicchi (PPE), in writing. – (IT) I voted in favour of the text presented by Ms Delli on the importance of safeguarding the health and safety of European citizens in the workplace. Investing in preventive policies would not only reduce social security costs, it would also improve the quality of work and at the same time ensure greater efficiency and competitiveness.