Kay Swinburne (ECR). – Madam President, the report on the EU’s foreign policy towards Brazil, Russia, India and China (the BRICS), and other emerging powers including Turkey, Indonesia and Mexico, rightly acknowledges the increasing role these countries play in our foreign policy and the increasing contribution they are making to the global economy. We have also seen an increased participation in cooperation in the policies of the BRICS and the emerging powers on an international level, and this is to be encouraged at all times.
We can now see the development of a multipolar system where economic and political power is distributed between a number of blocs. It is for this reason that I support the report’s proposal for the development of a coherent EU approach, to treat the BRICS as a single bloc, and to also seek to establish partnerships with each of the countries within the bloc, which will prove to be invaluable when responding to global challenges such as climate change, terrorism and, of course, the financial crisis.
Daniel Hannan (ECR). – Madam President, I took part in a debate in the United Kingdom last month against our former Europe Minister about these BRICs. He said: ‘What you have to understand, Hannan, people like you, is that we sell more to the Netherlands than we sell to the whole of Brazil. We sell more to Belgium than we sell to the whole of China’. I replied, ‘That is precisely the problem’. Which is the better long-term prospect?
When we joined the European Union in 1973, we had the impression that we were hitching our wagons to a powerful locomotive. Western Europe had indeed grown spectacularly in the years following 1945. It had far outperformed the United Kingdom, burdened as it was with the enormous debt-to-GDP ratio that it had at the end of the Second World War.
But we can now see in retrospect that our timing could hardly have been worse. In relative terms, Western Europe stopped growing in the oil crisis of 1974 and never really got going again. We foolishly stood aside from the parts of the world which are still developing, where the growth still is, not least the Anglosphere and Commonwealth markets to which we are tied by habit, blood and speech. We are cabined, cribbed, confined in a dwindling customs union. We should raise our eyes to the broader, brighter and more distant horizons that our fathers took for granted.
Charles Tannock (ECR). – Madam President, I was opposed to a report in the Committee on Foreign Affairs on BRICS on the basis that there was little politically in common between these rising powers other than their self-evident vast and growing economic and military strengths.
I support good relations with the countries individually but I am under no illusion that China remains a one-party dictatorship, Russia has an authoritarian government which openly tolerates high-level corruption, whereas India and Brazil are liberal democracies with the same fundamental values, legal checks and balances and freedoms as EU Member States. My group is particularly keen on advocating stronger trade links through deep and comprehensive free trade agreements with both India and Brazil – the latter ideally through Mercosur, as Latin America enjoys the same growth rate of about 8% as China, and has a collective economy roughly the same size as China’s, but is totally different by sharing our common democratic values.
Eduard Kukan (PPE). – Madam President, by voting in favour, I wanted to express my support for the need to reformulate EU foreign policy towards BRICS. They should definitely have stronger relevance in our foreign policy.
There is a space for closer cooperation between the EU and the BRICS countries. This is especially relevant at a time when BRICS countries are showing their clear ambitions in foreign policy terms. From this point of view, it will be important to bring the emerging economic powers to take a different role in international development policy. In my opinion, this role should better reflect their share in the global GDP.
Changes in the world economic landscape and in the new role played by countries like China, India and Brazil give the opportunity for strengthening global development policies. The rising economic strength of these countries means taking up more responsibilities in opening up their markets to the least developed countries, for example, through preferential schemes, but also on a non-discriminatory basis towards the rest of the WTO membership.
Zoltán Bagó (PPE). – (HU) Madam President, I gave my vote to this report because I believe that in today’s socially and economically accelerating world order, the strengthening of our positive relations with the BRIC countries is a fundamental interest of the European Union, and therefore also of Hungary.
The need to reinforce these relations is well supported by the fact that the growth potential of these countries is becoming more and more influential on a global scale and, as a result, they are claiming an increasingly great role in shaping world politics. This rapid development influences the economic and political interests of the European Union and its Member States in every respect. The situation, naturally, has a direct impact on the economic and foreign and security policy of the EU, and in this regard, I am thinking primarily of Chinese investments.
I therefore believe that the European Union should assume a proactive role in its contact with the BRIC countries, thereby strengthening its global position.
Julie Girling (ECR). – Madam President, of course we in Europe have a duty to ensure that we develop a coherent approach towards BRICS. However, I do want to stress the point that, in foreign policy terms, each BRICS country demands a different approach and a different treatment. Of course they have all kinds of things in common economically. Having lived in a BRICS country and worked in a situation where you can get things done quickly without the chains and encumbrances of red tape, I can only say that economically, they are going to go places quickly.
However, politically, we have not shown here in the European Union that we have the sophistication in foreign policy terms to develop and deal with these very varying political states in a sensible and sophisticated way. That is what we should be concentrating on and, if we cannot do that, we should leave it to Member States who can.
Syed Kamall (ECR). – Madam President, as previous speakers have said, I think it is very important that we recognise that the BRIC countries are different and that when looking at the global outlook, we do not treat them as one large monolith. As Pink Floyd might have said, we should not treat them as another BRIC in the wall.
What we should be looking at is the granularity, and the differences between individual countries. So, for example, Brazil offers great prospects for many companies across the EU. The same goes for Russia, but the problem is, as Kasparov said, when it comes to elections, you already know the result, but you do not know what the outcome might be. India is the world’s largest democracy, with over a billion people and the rule of law, but not actually enough economic liberalisation. And when we look at China, there has been the economic liberalisation but not enough freedom and human rights.
All these things can only be enhanced with greater trade from the EU, but it is time that we started to try to match the growth of the BRICS countries rather than bring in policies such as the financial transaction tax, which would actually reduce growth in the EU in these difficult times.
Kay Swinburne (ECR). – Madam President, I welcome the report on a consistent policy towards regimes against which the EU applies restrictive measures. If the EU and not national governments are deemed best placed to lead on a particular issue, then consistency should be paramount.
This report puts forward what seem to be balanced recommendations to the Council for when the EU needs to place sanctions on these regimes. It is important, however, that the EU should develop clearer definitions of what sanctions criteria are, which should also be in line with the EU’s strategy on human rights. It is equally necessary to gain support for the EU sanctions policy from all of our international partners when they have been applied to third countries, which would only strengthen the impact of the policy globally. Clearly, the use of sanctions needs to be coupled with diplomacy, which is often the preferred method of responding to authoritarian regimes by the majority of our Member States and should be respected as the preferred collective tool.
Daniel Hannan (ECR). – Madam President, people often do not realise the extent to which the European Union aggressively exports its ideology. Just as the US did after the Second World War, and just as the Soviet Union did during the revolutionary period, so the European Union attempts to encourage other parts of the world to form regional blocs in mimicry of its own structures. It does not just make its aid dependent on reproductive rights and so on, but it very often – and far more damagingly – requires countries to be part of whatever regional bloc is nearby. It makes clear that it will not sign trade or aid deals with individual sovereign states but will only deal bloc to bloc.
People often do not realise the extent to which organisations like Mercosur, the Central American Union and the African, Caribbean and Pacific Union, are not just bodies encouraged by the European Union, but were really creatures of the EU, sponsored by the Commission and largely dependent on it for their financing. This creates a beautifully circular argument for European federalists who say, ‘We have to be part of this big bloc because that is what the rest of the world is doing’, when, of course, they are obliging the rest of the world to do so. In reality, it is the little countries that are doing well. The wealthiest countries of the world are the Monacos and the UAEs. In the top ten, only one state has a population of 7 million. It is by being this large, elephantine presence that we have made ourselves poorer and less relevant.
Charles Tannock (ECR). – Madam President, targeted sanctions are an essential soft power economic mechanism against misbehaving states that the EU can deploy to enforce the combined political will of its Member States. Most recently, the measures agreed by the EU in denying Iran some of its oil revenues are making it harder for the leadership to move money around the world, as a result of its non-cooperation with mandates and orders from the IAEA and the UN to conform with its international obligations over its nuclear programme, and this will now put much more pressure on Tehran to come back to the negotiating table.
I therefore welcome the Watson report and especially its recommendations for developing a consistent and coherent sanctions policy in the Council of Ministers, and its emphasis on the importance of acquiring wider international support such as the UN for EU sanctions to give them even further punch and effect in future.
Peter Jahr (PPE). – (DE) Madam President, I, too, voted in favour of the Watson report. In his report, the rapporteur describes the general way in which the European Union behaves towards regimes. He states that all EU activities and economic and political relations are based on our values and standards and that human rights should be considered in every dialogue.
In addition, the European Union should speak with one voice in order to achieve even greater efficiency in restrictive measures, something I believe to be particularly important.
So far, so good – I might say. What constantly disturbs me, however, is the fact that when specific changes occur in such regimes, when revolution breaks out, when people try to take their human rights into their own hands, then it seems to me that the European Union is never sufficiently prepared. I would therefore simply ask that we should work together – together with the Commission – in a strategic way, so that we have a better idea what is going on in these countries, enabling us to apply sanctions exactly where they will have an effect.
Kay Swinburne (ECR). – Madam President, I welcome the report on cross-border transfer of company seats as this has clear economic benefits for businesses. As a consequence, businesses are able to relocate, or will be able to relocate, with much more ease, thus saving them much-needed time and, in many instances, money in determining where their company seat is located.
I strongly believe that cross-border company migration is a fundamental part of ensuring the completion of the internal market and will enable us to adapt to a more coherent EU-wide policy on these procedures. It is going to be welcomed by businesses across the EU and it is particularly pertinent when one of the main complaints I hear from businesses is that they are prevented from migrating to other parts of the EU, given the existence of high administrative burdens in some areas that they would prefer to avoid. It is for these reasons that I am happy to support this report.
Zoltán Bagó (PPE). – (HU) Madam President, as a lawyer, I voted in favour of the report on the directive on the cross-border transfer of company seats. I did so because the freedom of establishment set out in Articles 49 and 54 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union clearly serves the EU’s efforts to abolish national barriers and implement a single market on all levels.
The reinforcement of the single market is in our common interest, as all Member States have a stake in the European Union’s truly becoming a free area without restrictions. By extending the interpretation of the freedom of establishment to enterprises, the investments and economic establishments of the Hungarian economy will, as part of the internal market, also benefit from full protection and security. It is the so far very successful dismantling of barriers that is the source of the global competitiveness of the EU and its individual Member States. We must support this endeavour, which is also backed by the relevant practice of the European Court of Justice.
Julie Girling (ECR). – Madam President, I was the rapporteur for the opinion of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs on this report and I would like to make a couple of points to support my vote in that regard. In that opinion, we try to emphasise that Articles 49 and 54 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union guarantee freedom of establishment for all companies and firms, ensuring that there are no barriers. Cross-border company migration is one of the crucial elements in the completion of the internal market.
However, there is a real lack of consistency in legislation on transfers and on procedures for transferring registered offices, real head offices, existing companies or firms incorporated under national law from one Member State to another. We need to eliminate these problems. But in doing so, we must ensure that any legislation prevents abuses such as the setting up of mailbox companies and protects the interests and guarantees the existing rights of creditors and employees.
Kay Swinburne (ECR). – Madam President, the report on the budgetary control of EU humanitarian aid takes on board the criticisms of the European Court of Auditors in that it recognises the instances in which accountability and transparency of the monitoring systems and internal audit procedures could be significantly improved. It also looks at how EU funds are used and managed by partner organisations such as the NGOs and UN agencies, and places greater emphasis on measuring results against initial indicators when the evaluations are taking place.
The report also proposes various improvements that could be made to the framework partnership agreements, notably with the process of selecting partners to try to ensure that we achieve best value for money in addition to gaining the experience and expertise that they can offer. For me, this is an important justification as my constituents back home in Wales are continuously questioning the value gained by UK contributions to the EU budget.
Daniel Hannan (ECR). – Madam President, in the European Parliament in Strasbourg recently, I met a very clever man from Nigeria called Thompson Ayodele. He talked me through a number of statistics on foreign aid, and the figures were pitilessly clear. He showed that international assistance was not useless; it was actively harmful. If you compared countries in receipt of it with countries not in receipt of it over the same periods, the countries not in receipt grew faster, were more democratic, developed more impressively, and for the obvious reason: foreign aid breaks the link between taxation, representation and expenditure. It allows governments to remain in office without the support of their populations.
There are lots of things we could be doing to help developing countries. We could open our markets; we could abolish the common agricultural policy; we could encourage their exporters to sell. But the one thing that is absolutely not going to help is giving this kind of assistance, especially when we do not have the money. This is the crazy thing! We are borrowing money we do not have in order to give it to countries whose situation would thereby be worsened, all in order to make ourselves feel virtuous.
Charles Tannock (ECR). – (microphone off at start of speech) ... ECR Group are in favour of the report on the budgetary control of EU humanitarian aid. As a group, we welcome the aims of the Working Group on Accountability for and Audit of Disaster-related Aid, namely, to set out common standards of guidance and good practice and thus address the challenges of transparency and accountability in this area.
We are also keen to see more involvement of the beneficiaries of the aid in the process of aid planning and management, in an attempt to prevent the negative effects of humanitarian aid that can occur without careful monitoring by all the parties, for example, the discouragement of local food production by the supply of surplus food aid coming from an unreformed CAP of the European Union.
I believe that there must be more conditionality, as well as accountability, with regard to the results, and that more careful monitoring must be put in place to measure the output of humanitarian aid against pre-set indicators. For example, there should be no aid whatsoever for a BRIC country like India or China.
Peter Jahr (PPE). – (DE) Madam President, I am well aware that providing humanitarian aid can sometimes mean treading a very fine line and we cannot always pick and choose the regimes with which we work. I can understand this. It is the duty of the European Union to help people in need. Nonetheless, we must be equally clear on the other side: when assistance is given, we need to know what it is being given for and it must be easy to check whether the aid reaches its intended destination, rather than ending up in the coffers of some corrupt governments, never to be heard of again. Although this is self-evident, we nonetheless need to demand this on a daily basis. Naturally, this also means looking to ensure that the aid is genuinely efficient. We need to check that the aid really gets to where it is needed and that it is efficient. If we can manage these two things, then we shall make a lot more progress. Transparency is a minimum requirement in all of this. For this reason, I have voted in favour of this report.
James Nicholson (ECR). – Madam President, I have to ask the question whether this is really working, and working in a way in which it was supposed to be in the first instance. One of the greatest problems I have found in talking to people on the ground is the lack of continuity. By the time they get a programme into existence, the European Union changes its mind and goes on and creates another programme which they have to go through all the bureaucracy and red tape to qualify for again.
I think we have got to get it right. I think it has the chance and it can deliver and do good. But there is too much bureaucracy, there is too much red tape, there is too much control, and people are not allowed to get on with doing the work themselves on the ground. I personally had a recent experience in Uganda where I went out with a local faith-based organisation who are drilling one new well every week, bringing water to miles around and doing a fantastic job. Those are the type of things we should be doing, when you see the disease and the way in which disease is being reduced in children, allowing them to live and giving them life.
Lucas Hartong (NI). – (NL) Madam President, today we are debating a report concerning the budgetary control of humanitarian aid. It is a very disturbing report.
First of all, we have the role of the United Nations. The report contends that the control of EU funds awarded to the UN is absolutely terrible. Reports to the EU are vague and late. The Court of Auditors is obstructed when it comes to accessing information about projects carried out and there is a lack of transparency, efficiency and effectiveness when it comes to the management of resources. Reforms that had been required in the past have simply not been implemented.
Next, we have cost efficiency when it comes to aid in general. From my own investigations, I know that fraud does take place in EU development projects. Thanks to OLAF and the Court of Auditors, cases are brought to light. I am focused on the fact that much more needs to be done and I will fight hard, on behalf of the Dutch Party for Freedom (PVV), to ensure that that happens.
It is unconscionable that, despite all these serious cases, it is still being proposed that the development budget should be increased. We will therefore definitely be voting against this report.
Zoltán Bagó (PPE). – (HU) Madam President, I for one agree with the endeavour to improve the effectiveness, speed and coordination of instruments at the EU’s disposal for responding to disasters. Being the world’s largest donor, the EU has an immense responsibility as a global actor in humanitarian aid throughout the world.
Since the use of these funds is managed and directed by the Commission’s Directorate General for Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection (ECHO), I also welcome the rapporteur’s proposals for the improvement of the efficiency of the ECHO control, monitoring and supervision system. I find rapid response to natural disasters to be indispensable, as was demonstrated in the case of the 2010 disasters in Haiti and Pakistan. Both the European Union and Hungary performed well in this respect, and I therefore gave my support to this submission.
Hannu Takkula (ALDE). – (FI) Madam President, it is very important that we should be having this debate on humanitarian aid. Obviously, as welfare societies, we Europeans want to support undeveloped countries, so that people there can lead a happy and full life. It is very important, however, to ensure that, when, as Europeans, we act, we implement projects which reflect European Union values and which are, in that way, ethically sustainable. Above all, we need to export democracy, human rights and freedom of expression, and make sure that Europe’s heritage of values and intellectual input are strongly present. That is why it is good to be having this debate.
I voted in favour of this report, but we still have more to do in this area, because there are several examples of these ethical principles not having been implemented in all respects everywhere as far as our EU projects are concerned.
Julie Girling (ECR). – Madam President, I was interested to read this report and pleased to see that it did pick up, albeit in a rather desultory way in the end, the issue of whether humanitarian aid and assistance has negative effects. I think that is the discussion that we should have in much more depth here in the Parliament because we tend to think it is a good thing per se. I happen to agree with overseas aid. I think that properly targeted and carefully monitored, it can achieve great things.
However, I was particularly struck when listening to the rapporteur this morning talking about his misgivings about our working with the UN. This really was a disturbing part of the report and, if we cannot get that right, then we should seriously consider suspending some of those programmes until we are clear that they are acting in the best interest of the people that we are trying to help.
Daniel Hannan (ECR). – (microphone off at start of speech) …will no doubt be familiar with Descartes’ famous thought experiment of the little malicious demon which could control our reality by limiting our senses. Not for the first time, I felt that the European Union is that Cartesian thought experiment come to life.
At the recent summit, we had declaration after declaration about the need to create jobs, to reduce unemployment. And yet almost every measure that comes out of the European Union, on maternity and paternity leave, on limited working times, on the 48-hour week, on all the health and safety stuff, has precisely the opposite effect. There is this extraordinary gap between our proclaimed intention and everything that we are doing in reality.
The truth is we MEPs do not have the capacity to create jobs. We are, if you like, recipients of the largesse of the private sector which does create the jobs. But we do have the capacity to destroy jobs and we have been doing that by these intrusive regulations. The one thing we could do is to get out of the way so that entrepreneurs can make things, buy things, sell things and create employment for other people. In a variation of Hippocrates’ wisdom, we should first do no harm.
James Nicholson (ECR). – Madam President, I forget now how many Council meetings we have had since the crisis began, but there have been an awful lot of them, that is the one thing for sure. The other thing for certain is that we are still waiting on some real results actually coming from any of these Council meetings. All the time these results are not coming forward, the uncertainty continues to grow in countries within the eurozone, and that is affecting everybody else, both within and without the eurozone.
To be very honest, I can see no clear certainty how they are going to be able in any way to amend or bring things around as far as the constitution is concerned. It is by no means certain, even if they agree on a constitution, that it will ever be approved. I think this is a great weakness.
So what we need in the future is real decisions and we must not go back to the nationalistic tendencies that we witnessed in this Chamber yesterday. I hope I never see that again because that is the one thing that should not happen. We should be acting in a positive way to resolve the problem, not in a negative way.
Anneli Jäätteenmäki (ALDE). – (FI) Madam President, Parliament stated that the economic agreement endorsed at the summit meeting was virtually pointless and that it would not help us to cope in the crisis. In my view, Parliament could have also said that, in fact, the entire summit was pointless, in the same way as many other recent summits. These meetings should be prepared for adequately and should not be a sideshow put on by some of the big Member States and their leaders. Instead, they should be prepared for so that they produce results that countries commit to and press ahead with. Now France has said that they will only attend to this after the elections. This cannot be acceptable.
I would also like there to have been greater focus on growth and employment in Parliament’s statement, and especially at the summit. Furthermore, it should have contained a quite definite proposal to ban tax havens. I hope that the EU would be more active in this area and that the matter of Eurobonds would be set to one side.
Diane Dodds (NI). – Madam President, last December, my party in the British House of Commons put forward a motion which commended David Cameron, our Prime Minister, on his veto and his strength in opposition at the December summit. Therefore, we viewed this latest summit as a test of that resolve. We were sadly disappointed. The question now being asked across the United Kingdom is what happened to the veto, what happened to the stand of principle to not allow EU institutions to police the fiscal compact?
This agreement represents a new precedent within the EU. One where, if 10, 15, 20 or 25 Member States cannot find agreement across all Member States, they simply go ahead and are allowed to use the mechanisms of the EU. This was what was vetoed in December, yet this was accepted in January. The people of the UK deserve an explanation, but most of all they deserve a say in our relationship with the EU, which is like a juggernaut which rolls on, while a UK Prime Minister refuses to man the roadblock.
Syed Kamall (ECR). – Madam President, we have European Council after European Council and each time we are told it is decision time, we have to get serious about solving the eurozone crisis. But actually, we never look at the two potential results. There are two potential outcomes, yet we remain in the impasse.
The first is that some of the weaker countries leave the eurozone and you have a stronger eurozone left behind, a sort of tougher euro which the markets recognise is too tough for them to break.
The alternative is that you accept that you have to have a fiscal union – the FU – with transfers from the richer countries to the poorer countries, led by Germany and those who want to see the eurozone not as an economic project but as a building block towards a political project, as a building block towards a United States of Europe or a federal Europe. If that is what they want, they have to be prepared to pay. It is time for Germany to put up or shut up. Do they want to keep the eurozone together with 17 countries or do they want to leave it to the markets?
Michał Tomasz Kamiński (ECR). – (PL) Madam President, Iran’s nuclear programme is a real threat not just to Iran’s neighbours, but also to the whole world. Iran is a country in which no democratic standards of any kind are upheld, a country where all the values in which we in the European Union believe are persecuted or where such values are simply not found. It is a regime which is very oppressive towards its own people. We all remember the events of not long ago on the streets of Tehran. In the hands of such people, a nuclear weapon, and the Iranian nuclear programme, which will, without doubt, lead to the construction of a nuclear weapon, are extremely dangerous things.
I think the European Union has done the right thing in imposing sanctions on Iran. These sanctions are justified and we are acting here in a good cause. I am very pleased that the European Union has taken such action. I also want to appeal yet again in this Chamber for the European Union to show solidarity with our greatest ally in the Middle East, and to do so, too, as part of this discussion about the Iranian nuclear programme. By this I mean Israel, a country which holds the same values in which we also believe.
Kay Swinburne (ECR). – Madam President, I support the motion for a resolution concerning Iran and its nuclear programme since Iran has failed to prove that its nuclear programme is a peaceful development. With a lack of cooperation with international bodies, I have a number of concerns about this nuclear programme and its possible intentions. It is therefore, sadly, a necessary step to prohibit the importation of crude oil from Iran, twinned with imposing a number of other financial measures against the Central Bank of Iran. The sanctions proposed are therefore, in my opinion, a proportionate and reasonable response by the EU at the request of its Member States.
Daniel Hannan (ECR). – Madam President, I was unusual among British Conservatives in opposing the Iraq war and indeed in opposing the prolongation and permanence of the mission in Afghanistan, although I had supported limited action against the Taliban regime.
One of the reasons I was worried about the Western mission was that it seemed to me strategically erroneous to remove from both of Iran’s flanks what had, up until then, been powers which had been anti-Tehran and anti-Ayatollah and had contained a regime which has given ample evidence of its readiness to strike anywhere in the world. It sponsors militias and terrorist organisations in Central Asia, in the Balkans; it struck even as far afield as London and Buenos Aires.
There is an argument that we got the whole thing wrong, that we should have had nothing to do with Iran, that we should have just stayed out of the way. But we are now in a situation where we have embarked on action and, as Polonius says, ‘Beware of entrance to a quarrel, but being in, bear’t that the opposed may beware of thee’. This is, I think, the most important foreign policy issue of our age and it will take extraordinary resolve to see it through safely.
Elena Băsescu (PPE). – (RO) Madam President, I voted for this resolution because I share the concerns about Iran’s nuclear programme. Its military aspect may have significant security implications, with not just a regional, but also a global impact. This is why efforts must be stepped up to find a solution which combines tough measures with proposals for dialogue. At the same time, the impact of the sanctions must be constantly assessed to ascertain their effectiveness. In light of this, I should mention how important it is to coordinate our actions with those of the other global actors in order to achieve tangible results. Turkey can play a positive role in the efforts to resolve the Iran dossier. I hope that cooperation will be enhanced in this area with Ankara. I appeal to the authorities in Tehran to respond to the calls for negotiations and to avoid escalating the situation by blocking the Strait of Hormuz.
Anneli Jäätteenmäki (ALDE). – (FI) Madam President, in its resolution, Parliament has expressed its concern over Iran’s nuclear weapons programme, and we have given our support for sanctions. My group, including myself, views these sanctions with caution, because we fear that they will strengthen Iran’s administration and therefore defeat their own purpose. After all, Iran’s leaders need some sort of enemy to be, and to look, strong, and I am afraid that now, as a consequence, we have fallen into this trap. However, now we still have to negotiate and discuss matters, although we know that Iran is not an easy negotiating partner, nor can it be trusted.
Sometimes, it is also worth putting yourself in the position of the opposite party. Iran is the former Persia, a country proud of its history, and one that regards itself as a civilised nation, which, in the light of history, it is. My fear is that sanctions will make the Iranians feel that their pride has been injured and that things will go against what we are all hoping for: negotiations, peace and the renunciation of nuclear weapons.
Hannu Takkula (ALDE). – (FI) Madam President, I voted in favour of this resolution. It is perfectly obvious that both the European Union and the international community must send a clearer message to Iran that we will not accept their nuclear weapons programme.
It is the case that the speeches that Ahmadinejad has made both at the UN and to the world at large are so provocative that we need to respond to them. We Europeans have to stand up to this and be frank and clear. We also have to support the sole democracy in the Middle East, Israel, which is especially under threat from Iran now, as we know from what Ahmadinejad has said about threatening to wipe Israel off the map of the world.
However, it is not just Israel, as a bastion of democracy in the Middle East, that is under threat: it is also all of Europe and the Western world, the free world, the democratic world. That is why we have to act robustly and firmly to ensure that Iran is prepared to abandon its programme. Unfortunately, sanctions seem to be the way we have to go, though, of course, discussions should also be continued.
Seán Kelly (PPE). – Madam President, firstly, we must say that these new sanctions are not aimed at the Iranian people who have been suffering long and hard under an authoritarian regime. Secondly, it is not our remit to prohibit any country from developing nuclear energy if it so wishes.
But, of course, in Iran, all the evidence suggests that the intent goes far beyond nuclear energy and has a military dimension. This has been borne out by six resolutions of the Security Council of the United Nations, of which Iran is a member; all have been ignored. So, like Mr Kamall said a minute ago in relation to another topic, it is time for us to put up or shut up, and putting-up means imposing sanctions with the hope that Iran will desist from its present course and return to the negotiating table.
Csaba Sógor (PPE). – (HU) Madam President, I welcome my fellow Member’s report on the European dimension in sport. I would specifically like to highlight the role of sport in fostering European unity and an atmosphere free from intolerance.
Let me bring to your attention a curious incident in connection with this report: recently, the national ice hockey teams of Romania and Hungary played each other in Miercurea Ciuc, a Romanian city with a Hungarian majority. Since all but two players on the Romanian national ice hockey team belong to the Hungarian minority community of Romania, these players, too, sang the Hungarian national anthem at the customary singing of anthems before the game. The incident received special attention from the Romanian central press, and many accused the ice hockey players of Hungarian nationality who make up almost the entire Romanian national team of treason.
It would be high time for mutual respect and tolerance to permeate not only the atmosphere of sports events but also public statements, as in this case it was not the gestures of the fans but the malicious and manipulative activities of Romanian politicians and the Romanian press that incited intolerance. Romania won the game
4-1, by the way.
Kay Swinburne (ECR). – Madam President, Parliament now has codecision on sporting matters and I am disappointed with the recommendations made in this first report.
This weekend sees the start of the Six Nations Championship, where Wales will proudly play their national sport. As an avid rugby supporter, I cannot help but see this as a missed opportunity for the Parliament. The report should have focused on the positive contribution that sports can have on both participants and supporters in terms of instilling values of respect, fair play and social inclusion, and should have focused on how the EU could help the development of grassroot sports. It instead concentrates on how the EU can take advantage of the increasing popularity of professional sport, including how to develop a database to share information on hooligans, which effectively duplicates the work already being conducted by Europol. The report proposes that all agents representing European sportsmen have their fiscal residence in the EU. This clearly does not serve to promote sport across the EU and certainly not globally.
Today’s vote was undemocratic, however, when smaller groups requested roll-call votes. It is because they need to register disappointment on certain parts of reports. Today, sadly, that was denied by the President.
Daniel Hannan (ECR). – Madam President, we had some procedural problems with this vote today, as you will have seen, and I hope that they were nothing more than a mistake. I can understand that sitting where you do is a complicated and difficult job; there is an awful lot going on in the Chamber and the Rules of Procedure are not easy to follow.
But there was an issue of a lot of sensitivity for people in my party to do with the displaying of EU colours on sports vests. In what looked like a flagrant disregard for what the Rules of Procedure specify, our request for separate votes was set to one side. What alarmed me was that the President used the argument that, as long as the Chamber had decided by majority, this was all right. It was OK to set aside what the Rules say.
That is, of course, arbitrary government. We are all bound by our rule book, including the person who sits where you sit. As I say, I hope this was simply an error but I would urge all the people who occupy the President’s chair, please to pay strict regard to the Rules of Procedure, which are there and which are designed to protect individual Members in smaller groups in this Chamber.
Charles Tannock (ECR). – Madam President, I voted along with the rest of the ECR Group – where we were allowed to, that is – against the report on the European dimension in sport. In my opinion, the report focuses far too much on the commercial side of sport. Instead, the development of grassroots in sport is overlooked in favour of developing means to take further advantage of the popularity of professional sport.
Instead of, for instance, creating a new EU database of football hooligans, which is already a Europol competence, we should focus on national authorities developing sports facilities at the more local level, with the aim that hooliganism can be diminished thanks to greater Community involvement and the ability to get along with others or work as part of team. We should focus on skills; participation in sport has been proven to be a way of teaching these skills. We should be giving more people the chance to learn a sense of discipline and self-worth rather than focusing exclusively on introducing new EU legal rules on fiscal residence for sports agents, as the report seems to suggest.
Claudio Morganti (EFD). – (IT) Madam President, sport is probably the greatest vehicle that Europe has for bringing people together, and accessibility to participation in sport must be guaranteed for everyone, especially people with learning difficulties or physical disabilities.
Similarly, it is unacceptable that young girls are prohibited, for example, from being able to take up some disciplines, as we know, due to religious strictures imposed by their parents. The rapporteur has done well to highlight this point, since sport must be free to affirm universal values and Europe cannot tolerate these practices out of false religious do-goodism.
Moreover, I believe it is right to preserve and rediscover local, traditional and indigenous sports. In Tuscany, we in Lega Nord are fighting in this regard to protect a historic form of football played in Florentine costume and to rediscover the ancient game of football (palla grossa) in Prato. These also represent genuine manifestations of history and culture which we should develop and encourage, especially among the young.
Izaskun Bilbao Barandica (ALDE). – (ES) Madam President, I wish to express my support for the values embodied in the report that was approved today. After the recent events in Egypt, it is particularly fitting to set the principle of fair play, both on and off the sporting field, as the cornerstone of European philosophy on sport.
I also agree with a more open model for image right management for large sporting events. It is for that reason that I think the situation regarding radio stations and professional football in Spain is terrible.
I regret the lost opportunity to play down the debate about national teams in Europe with this report. I come from a stateless nation, like Scotland or Wales. These constituent nations of the United Kingdom compete in international competitions with their own teams. We Basques would like to have our own Basque teams too, and we would have no issue with placing our ikurriña, our national colours, alongside the European flag on our shirts. This is not currently possible. An opportunity was lost today.
James Nicholson (ECR). – Madam President, I have several reservations relating to the proposals in this report. One such proposal sought to politicise sport by having the EU flag flown at all major sports events in the EU. Another proposal sought to politicise our sporting athletes by making them have an EU logo on their clothing. I cannot support those proposals, because I do not believe you should politicise sport.
I certainly do believe we should encourage sports participation in schools, increase the awareness of social responsibilities in sports stadiums, highlight the importance of volunteers in sport, increase the attention to the needs of disabled sports people. I call for sport to benefit from EU Structural Funds.
But in my 22 and a half years here, I have never witnessed such a spectacle as I did today, when the President of this Parliament shamefully took his actions. I do not agree with Mr Hannan, because the President of this Parliament is well advised by the people to his left and to his right. He made that decision and he made the wrong decision and that needs to be retracted in the interest of the minority groups in this Parliament.
Hannu Takkula (ALDE). – (FI) Madam President, I would like to say that I voted in favour of this report by Mr Fisas Ayxela. We must remember that it is the first more extensive report on sport, and sport, of course, is the biggest popular movement in the whole of the European Union.
This is a first step, and I am therefore slightly disappointed that the friends of the European Conservatives and Reformists Group there on the right see only a threat and not opportunities. Perhaps you might reconsider this for a moment: this will provide great opportunities for taking sport forward, improving public health, increasing well-being at European Union level, and more.
Trivial matters like the flag, whether or not it is on the inside or outside of the team shirt (which is completely optional), or whether the EU flag should or should not be raised at a particular sporting event, are neither here nor there. Moreover, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland can play under their own flags, and no one will say anything about it. On the contrary, the aim is for civic commitment on the part of Europeans at grassroots level: for people for whom sport is important. We are also trying get people involved in building their own nation, as a priority, but it is also seen as a common benefit in the European internal market if we have healthy employees.
Syed Kamall (ECR). – Madam President, as the Chairman of the European Parliament’s Friends of Sport group, I took a particular interest in this report, as did many other members of that group and the relevant committees. It is interesting that we wanted in our group to vote against the display of the EU flag on national sports jerseys. Surely it is important that we allow supporters to decide that they can support their own country?
But I think what is more important than anything else is actually what sport teaches us. Sport is all about fair play. Sport is all about adhering to the rules. As my old school song used to say, it is all about tasting the sweet of victory and the salt of defeat. At the European level, there have been moves towards more fair play. UEFA, the football organisation, has a UEFA fair play award.
But when it came to democracy in this Chamber today, the rules were thrown out. The spirit of fair play was completely ignored by the President of the Parliament. Had there been a fair-play award for democracy, Schulz would not have got it.
Seán Kelly (PPE). – (GA) Madam President, I voted in favour of this report and, like other speakers, I also had a hand in its creation. I was delighted that the report was accepted by a large majority: In favour, 550; against, 73; abstentions, 7. That is, without doubt, a large majority.
I also agree with the speakers about the importance of sport at a local level, the local voluntary clubs, or so-called grassroots sports. But the most important thing now is that the next MFF (multiannual financial framework) has a good budget, because without money, we cannot implement the recommendations and the programmes mentioned in this report. Therefore, I hope that that will happen for the sake of sport throughout Europe.
Andrea Zanoni (ALDE). – (IT) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, one thing is clear from the numerous waste-related petitions received by Parliament from citizens: EU management of waste in Europe is not going well.
There are too many citizens who even now, in 2012, are paying for the consequences of poor waste management in terms of their daily lives and their health, incinerators and landfills being cases in point. All the same, virtuous examples of ecologically sustainable waste management in the EU do exist. We must therefore do all we can to reach a point of total recycling, where waste actually becomes a genuine resource.
This is already a reality today. There are treatment plants that recycle nearly 100% of urban waste, as in the case of the Vedelago waste centre in the province of Treviso, whose technology is exported throughout Europe. Nevertheless, we need more controls, prevention and, above all, responsible choices. We should recycle, recover and reduce waste and say ‘no’ to huge incinerators and landfills that are often the cause of air and aquifer pollution.
Adina-Ioana Vălean (ALDE). – Madam President, I welcomed the positive vote on the Iturgaiz report. Through it, the Parliament is adding its voice to the numerous petitions sent by citizens from all over Europe to call on Member States to properly transpose the Waste Framework Directive.
It has become clear that the management of waste disposal is posing a political and social problem in many Member States and the European Commission has a fundamental role in controlling and guiding them to ensure the proper enforcement of the EU waste acquis at national level and raise greater environmental awareness among citizens. This is the right time to stop saying waste is an issue and turn it into an opportunity for job and business creation, because efficient waste management strategies can provide enormous opportunities for both employment creation and revenue enhancement while ensuring environmental sustainability.
Kay Swinburne (ECR). – Madam President, it is a report that highlights the fact that, despite the directive being adopted, many times we have actually seen huge numbers of breaches across different Member States. It is certainly true that it has not been uniformly implemented across the 27 Member States.
This is reinforced by the sheer number of petitions and letters received by the Parliament, where EU citizens, including a number of my Welsh constituents, have also directly expressed their concern about potential breaches of a number of such EU directives. It is time that we use all technology available to us and see this as a huge way of being able to embrace technology and deal with our waste effectively.
I voted in favour of this report today in order that we can move things on. Implementation of existing rules is all well and good, but we also need to embrace that technology to move things forward.
Charles Tannock (ECR). – Madam President, I voted with the ECR Group in favour of the report on the application of the Waste Management Directive. The European Parliament receives many petitions, including from the United Kingdom, concerning issues of waste management and the infringement of the EU directives that govern it. It is evident from this fact that in many Member States, directives are not being transposed or enforced in a satisfactory way.
We agree with the conclusions of the report that all illegal landfills should be closed, secured and rehabilitated. We also agree that guidance should be given as to the location of the landfill sites with relation to local housing, schools and health facilities and that there should be better inspections and more consultation when waste facilities are in their planning stages.
Furthermore, I agree, particularly now that there is clean, high-temperature incineration technology available, that it is preferable to burn waste rather than placing it in landfill sites, especially given the increasing proportion of our waste that is now being recycled and, as I said, the technological improvements which are now being developed in this area.
Elena Băsescu (PPE). – (RO) Madam President, I voted in favour of the report drafted by Mr Iturgaiz Angulo in the context of stepping up the discussions on waste recycling. As a member of the Committee on Petitions, I have often participated in debates on this topic. I should point out that the new Member States are at the bottom of the league when it comes to recycling, even though the volume of waste they produce is below the European average. Romania is among the countries targeted by petitions about waste management. In order to meet EU standards, my country is currently implementing the integrated waste management system. It will result in the closure of landfills that are not environmentally friendly and in the development of sorting stations for recyclable waste by 2015. Current landfills pose an increased risk both to the environment and to the communities living in their vicinity.
James Nicholson (ECR). – Madam President, as others have said, this is an extremely important subject and has got to be dealt with in a way that everyone can be happy with. It is a very difficult subject as well. Illegal landfill sites cannot be tolerated anywhere and I think we have had some experience of that. I will not get involved in the detail, but there are very few people who have not had some experience of it.
We should also make it clear that we cannot allow local and public authorities to get away with not stipulating standards and not bringing sites to the same standards as others. I have seen some of these sites where a lot of leaching was taking place and I believe better solutions can, should and must be found where necessary. This must end. By dragging our feet, we are allowing it to continue. We certainly do not need any more EU agencies for waste management; I think it is time to move forward.
Seán Kelly (PPE). – Madam President, I think this is a lost opportunity. The Commissioner here at the debate this morning pointed out that there could be EUR 72 billion made available to the economy, 242 million fewer tonnes of emissions and lots of jobs created if waste was properly managed across the European Union. Instead, we have had too many countries that would not even apply the directive leading, as Kay Swinburne said, to many petitions coming here.
I led one myself and I am pleased to say that, as a result of the decision here and the direction given by the Committee on Petitions, EUR 40 million has now been committed to closing a toxic site in my constituency, Haulbowline, which was leading to an increase in cancer 37% higher than the national average. That is the kind of action that is needed. Every Member State should take this on board: to eliminate waste firstly – restaurants and households could have far less waste – and then to utilise it properly.
Kay Swinburne (ECR). – Madam President, I supported the report today on the Daphne programme, which it is hoped will make a contribution to assisting women who have been victims of domestic violence. It is only right that the Commission focuses on strengthening programmes in Member States which have so far limited participation in this programme, to ensure that victims are not being overlooked wherever they may be in residence.
I agree that more support is needed in developing programmes to eradicate honour killings, particularly as there have been a number of high-profile cases in the UK, which indicates that more work needs to be done urgently on this emotive matter. Whilst I have reservations about some of the recommendations made in this report, such as the proposal to allocate funding to candidate countries, I believe that on balance, it was something that I could support.
Charles Tannock (ECR). – Madam President, I too voted with my group, the ECR Group, in favour of the report on the Daphne programme. The work that the Daphne programme seeks to carry out is extremely valuable and the making available of some funding to NGOs in all EU Member States who require it in order to help combat violence against women and children – the most vulnerable members of our society, which is a truly shocking phenomenon – is one we should strongly support. The call on the Commission to work with those Member States whose participation in the programme so far has been weak, in the hope that all Member States will be at a similarly reasonably high level in terms of their involvement, is also one we support.
We should also support the move for the programme to focus more of its attention on the eradication of so-called – and rather shocking – honour killings and female genital mutilation, which sadly still goes on in some Member States and should have absolutely no place whatsoever in a European society.
Diane Dodds (NI). – Madam President, I welcome this report into the Daphne programme, which can be a key tool in combating violence against women, children and young people across the EU. In my own constituency of Northern Ireland, figures show that domestic violence accounts for approximately one third of all crime, with the police service attending an average of 60 domestic-related incidents per day, with a large amount still going unreported. The Daphne programme and others like it can play a pivotal role in the fight against domestic violence and abuse.
In Northern Ireland, there are many excellent programmes carried out at local level with outstanding work being done by local community groups across my constituency. I believe that such organisations are the key to combating issues of violence and abuse, as they are best placed to cater for the individual needs of citizens in their region. Simpler and easier access to funding is essential and should be a feature of any new provision.
Zoltán Bagó (PPE). – (HU) Madam President, I voted in favour of the report because I disapprove of all forms of violence, especially if directed against children, young people and women. I agree that the increasingly widespread use of online social networking sites has led to the emergence of new forms of violence.
As a member of the Committee on Culture and Education, I believe that the report is correct in stating that children should already be informed about the dangers of online content while at school. On the other hand, education could also facilitate the reduction of gender inequality at a young age.
The attention of young people should be drawn to the prevention of deviant behaviour through anti-violence campaigns, and I would therefore like to stress the issue highlighted by the report, namely, that the Commission’s rights and citizenship programme for 2014-2020 does not mention combating violence against children, young people and women among its specific objectives. This needs to be changed.
Charles Tannock (ECR). – Madam President, I voted with the ECR Group in favour of the report on women’s situation in war. War crimes against women in conflict zones are atrocious and truly shocking and often subject to almost total impunity, as they are seen themselves as a means of warfare. As a result, women are not only the victims of regular military action but also the victims of sexual violence, mainly taking the form of rapes and even gang rapes in some cases.
We agree that there is a need for more support for women’s organisations that operate locally in Member States in order to raise awareness of women’s rights at a grassroot level, particularly in areas of conflict. We should also welcome the setting up of a special EU representative on women, peace and security within the European External Action Service, again to help to deal with this very serious problem on the ground.
Diane Dodds (NI). – Madam President, although this report was about women in war, I want to put on record in this House my gratitude to those women in Northern Ireland who have shown remarkable courage during a vicious terrorist campaign.
For many years, I have represented parts of Belfast which have suffered the murderous effects of terrorist violence, sectarian division and economic and social deprivation. In the midst of this, women’s groups like Shankill Women’s Centre and many others have shown tremendous leadership and done hugely important work in areas of education, training and employment, and community reconciliation. In rural Northern Ireland as well, women’s groups have been to the fore. Although, in rural areas, isolation and distance are natural barriers, the same social, economic, sectarian barriers remain. We owe these groups a huge amount of our gratitude; I would like this House to have that on the record.
Marek Józef Gróbarczyk (ECR). – (PL) Madam President, I voted in favour of the report due to the enormous need for diversification of energy sources in Europe. Until recently, the construction of the Northern Gas Pipeline – from Russia to Germany – was intended to be the panacea for all energy shortages. The pipeline was supposed to secure a steady delivery of natural gas to the European Union. As recently as yesterday, the Russian company, Gazprom, reduced gas delivery to a number of European Union states. According to the company, the decision resulted from the increase in demand for natural gas in Russia, which occurred as a consequence of the freezing conditions. A few years ago, political point scoring in Russia led to other countries suffering from a shortage of natural gas. This illustrates the importance of the pursuit of new energy sources within the European Union, both in the context of the European Union’s security as well as in terms of the protection of all types of EU activity. It is, of course, not possible for the EU to attain self-sufficiency in this area, but it is necessary to use all possible means to achieve security. Thank you very much.
Alfredo Antoniozzi (PPE). – (IT) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, the International Energy Agency (IEA) has estimated that currently, 1.5 billion people in the world are unable to access energy sources.
Globally, forecasts indicate that over the next two decades, the funds allocated to energy will amount to USD 26 trillion – just 3% of that sum would ensure universal access to energy by 2030.
The proposal put forward by Mr Neuser concerning the possibility of developing and extending access to modern energy services should be a starting point for the EU to begin to address the problem of poverty and sustainable development through targeted, effective action. I agree with Mr Neuser’s proposals: we Europeans must also make our contribution towards improving energy access for the poor in developing countries.
Charles Tannock (ECR). – Madam President, the Millennium Development Goals set out a laudable collection of aims that the international community has pledged itself to achieve by 2015. For these to be realised, however, an essential prerequisite has to be fulfilled first, and that is universal access to modern and sustainable domestic power sources for the developing world’s population. Such access would have obvious benefits in the fields of health, the environment and economic development. Nevertheless, on this occasion, I did not participate in the final vote of the Neuser report.
Julie Girling (ECR). – Madam President, I did vote for this report but only after very careful consideration, not because I do not believe that the poorest people in developing countries should have access to affordable energy – I very firmly do believe that – but because I do not believe that it is appropriate for the EU to seek to control how this comes about. The Millennium Development Goals, which I largely support, are very clear. They have been agreed; we have road maps established towards their achievement by 2015. Let us get on with that, rather than confusing the picture by what is effectively an attempt to add another. Let us not set out prescribed routes to energy development.
The report mentions a number of market intervention measures and, although just short of recommending that we carry those through, I do believe we need to put a line down to say that market intervention should be avoided. Energy is a market and the best way to supply and develop it is through market forces.
Alfredo Antoniozzi (PPE). – (IT) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, the report presented by Mr Schmidt, which is the Commission’s first initiative in the area of tax, makes a positive contribution to outlining future legislative initiatives on this issue.
Nevertheless, I believe that targeted interventions on national taxation policies are needed. In this regard, the Commission’s intention to strengthen the legal framework on savings taxation and the review of taxation on energy products is a positive step. Although Member States have expressed diverging opinions on the validity and efficacy of this initiative, overall, I welcome Mr Schmidt’s report and this is why I decided to support it.
Charles Tannock (ECR). – Madam President, I voted against the report on the annual tax report. In my group, the ECR, we fully supported the report in its initial aims – preventing double taxation, tax fraud and policing tax havens, etc., as these are clearly of concern.
However, we could not agree with the report’s conclusions. We are, as a group, strongly in favour of the protection of national fiscal sovereignty in order to promote a low tax competitive business environment throughout the European Union. We do not believe that fiscal federalism will do anything to promote responsibility in tax management at a regional level, nor do we believe that greater economic efficiency will be achieved as a result.
We agree with the sections of the report that address issues of transparency and believe that the number of loopholes in the system and the many uncertainties in the way it functions must be significantly reduced or reformed. We believe that better access to information on tax rules within the European Union Member States would go some way to address this matter.
Claudio Morganti (EFD). – (IT) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, I am firmly opposed to giving the European Union greater powers of intervention and control, including on tax matters.
Already, having a common policy on currency matters has not brought any great benefits but, instead, has thrown up many widespread problems. I therefore fail to see what advantages might be gained from a more integrated tax policy, especially during a period as difficult as the one we are currently going through.
I would not like the Commission, or worse still, a Member State, to impose a tax policy on another country; that would be truly unacceptable. Some of the statements made in recent days– look at Germany with Greece – could lead precisely in this direction.
That said, measures that avoid problems such as double taxation and tax fraud are to be welcomed. In this area, the EU can and must play an important role in facilitating and ensuring this as far as we can for our citizens.
Alfredo Antoniozzi (PPE). – (IT) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, Mr Schwab’s report shows how EU competition policy has brought numerous benefits for consumers.
The use of flexible, dynamic procedures has enabled competition policy to act as a driver and not as an obstacle to the European financial and economic system. I voted in favour of the report as I fully agree with the objectives contained in it. In particular, I support the aim of improving price transparency in order to stimulate competition in the market and protect consumer rights. At a time of recession, we absolutely have to try and incentivise consumers.
Finally, I would like to add that the information exchange between the Commission and consumer associations should continue and be stepped up and extended to stakeholders.
Andreas Schwab (PPE). – (DE) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, firstly, let me say that I am, of course, very pleased at Mr Antoniozzi’s positive summary of the report, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, and in which we identified three points of focus. Firstly, the State aid policy following the banking crisis, secondly the reform of the Fining Guidelines in anti-trust law, and, thirdly, competition in the energy sector.
I would like mainly to deal with the second issue, namely, the reform of the Fining Guidelines. It is crucial that we should accept that the European Commission’s anti-trust policy is an important instrument for introducing deterrents and for implementing anti-trust law in the European Union as a whole.
Nonetheless, we, the European Parliament, believe that there is an urgent need to clarify the 1/2003 Guidelines so that it will be easier to predict in future the penalties a business can expect if it does not adequately comply with these legal regulations.
Secondly, we wish urgently to call on the Commission finally to introduce a special regime for small and medium-sized enterprises, so-called mono-product undertakings, as otherwise, difficulties will arise here and comparisons with other undertakings will not be possible.
This is a very positive report overall and I am very pleased that it has been approved.
Charles Tannock (ECR). – Madam President, I voted with the ECR Group in favour of the annual report on EU competition policy. It is clear on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of this important report that the EU’s policy on competition has indeed brought many benefits for the welfare of European consumers. It has aided the free movement of goods and services, as well as capital, and has become a vital part of ensuring the prosperity of the single market. We support what the report has to say on the main areas it addresses, particularly State aid, collective redress, fines and settlement procedures, and strongly believe that with the suggested measures in place, it will continue to be a very useful tool in preserving the economic level playing field within the single market.
Can I also pay a special tribute to Italian Prime Minister, Mario Monti, who, as Competition Commissioner 10 years ago when I knew him in this Parliament, really put this essential EU competence on the political map as far as the countries like the United States were concerned. So well done, Prime Minister Monti, and now you have to do the same in Italy.
Julie Girling (ECR). – Madam President, I have often been asked by my constituents what the European Union has ever done for them. Sometimes, it is a bit of a struggle to give any coherent answer, depending on what the news of the day happens to be. It is particularly difficult in the context of representing a Member State which is high up on the list of net contributors to the European budget.
So I was delighted to be able to support this report, which really deals with a subject where I am always consistently able to point at something that the European Union has done for us. EU competition policy is one area where I can be truly enthusiastic. It has provided that essential tool, eliminating the obstacles that Mr Tannock spoke about. I am particularly keen to see that the rapporteur has recognised the need to update rules. Constant update to processes is vitally important to maintain consumer confidence in what we are doing.
President. – That concludes the oral explanations of vote.
Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. – (PT) I am voting for this report. It is in the EU’s interest to promote coordination with the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) and other emerging powers, owing to the growing global importance of these countries in various areas. Just as there is already continuous coordination between them, the EU should, for example, promote harmonious positions for meetings such as the United Nations General Assembly or strategic partnerships in other areas, provided that this does not jeopardise the interests of the EU Member States and their citizens. As such, it is appropriate to build these diplomatic efforts through an institutional mechanism, perhaps through the European External Action Service, which can deal with these countries in a consistent and even way.
Laima Liucija Andrikienė (PPE), in writing. – I voted in favour of the resolution on the EU foreign policy towards BRICS which makes recommendations, identifying key areas of reform, where the EU could seek to streamline its action and institutional architecture and thereby increase its potential and effectiveness as a global actor. I agree with the rapporteur that the overall coordination of EU foreign policy towards the BRICS and other emerging powers should be ensured by the Commission, that better linking of foreign and security policy with EU sectoral policies should be implemented by the following actions: increasing the participation of the EP in bilateral summits between the EU and its strategic partners, increasing the role of the BRICS in international development policy that better reflects their share in global GDP, strengthening the strategic dialogue between EU and USA on global governance and reform of international organisations. We, Members of European Parliament, conclude that the EU should take into account the new weight in political and economic terms of the BRICS and other emerging powers and use its political leverage to continue promoting universal values in the looming new multipolar system of global governance and be at the forefront of the process of reform of the international governance system.
Elena Oana Antonescu (PPE), in writing. – (RO) At a time when the European Union is one of the main actors interested in strengthening international institutions and in creating new international structures for tackling areas such as climate change or trade, it is important that the EU takes the first step towards building a new global system of governance by adopting a constructive and pragmatic approach to relations with the emerging powers. Strategic partnerships established by the European Union with these states must be the starting point for this new foreign policy.
Pino Arlacchi (S&D), in writing. – I voted for this resolution because I believe it is of fundamental importance for the EU to consider, in foreign policy terms, the growing political and economic relevance of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. In this renewed world asset, the EU must be at the forefront of the reform of the international system and must use its political leverage to continue to promote universal values. To lead this process, the EU needs to act as a single and robust political and economic entity. Without an inclusive new global governance system, based on full participation by the BRICS and other emerging economies, there will be limited international cooperation on major global issues. In addition to that, there will be also the potential risk of political and economic fragmentation, and of competing world agendas. With this report indeed, we ask for a strategic partnership with each BRICS country as a means of advancing peace and global security, the promotion of human rights, democracy, sustainable development and global financial regulation.
Sophie Auconie (PPE), in writing. – (FR) The BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) and other emerging economies are gaining increasing and, now, undeniable importance in international relations. I voted in favour of this text because it will allow us to go beyond cooperation in purely economic terms and to strive for the creation of a common foreign policy platform. These countries want us, the western powers, to include them more with a view to strengthening global governance and multilateral diplomacy. Let us not forget that the BRICS countries are already showing clear ambitions in foreign policy terms, as they have held regular meetings since 2009 and are seeking to establish common positions. For the time being, they are doing this without us. It is therefore imperative that we take into account the new economic and political weight of the BRICS countries. As the rapporteur emphasises, ‘this proves all the more necessary, considering that transnational challenges – such as climate change, global regulatory issues, access to raw materials and rare earths, terrorism, sustainable development,’ etc. – will require an inclusive approach based on common values. Thanks to this report, the European Union is taking the initiative and declaring that it wants to play a key role.
Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D), in writing. – (LT) I voted in favour of this report. Ever increasing demographic imbalances between Western countries and the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) and other emerging powers in the near future threaten to change the hitherto established relationship of influence in the international arena and the system of global governance itself. In 2050, seven emerging economies (Brazil, Russia, India, China, Indonesia, Mexico and Turkey) are projected to have larger economies than all the Group of Seven (G7) countries (USA, Japan, Canada, United Kingdom, Germany, France and Italy) put together. China is projected to become the world’s largest economy by 2020, while India could become the fastest growing economy in the world by 2050. These countries will become increasingly important internationally, particularly for tackling global issues such as combating climate change, international terrorism, the distribution of resources and rare minerals, political stability worldwide, etc. Therefore, the EU must enhance cooperation with the BRICS and other emerging powers in the system of global governance and in international organisations. I agree that we need to consider at EU level how to maximise the role, voice and voting power of the EU in international fora and achieve more streamlined coordination and a more cohesive stance among EU Member States in such fora.
Adam Bielan (ECR), in writing. – (PL) The ever increasing role of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (the BRICS countries) in the field of foreign relations and in international cooperation is having an effect on the situation within the European Union. Faced, for example, with the prediction that China will soon become the world’s largest economy, Brussels must increase its efforts to influence the emerging multipolar system of global governance effectively. One of the objectives of the Union’s foreign policy is the adoption of a coherent approach towards these countries when viewed as a potential bloc, and the widening of cooperation and strategic partnerships with each of these countries individually, especially with those that are democratic, for such a partnership will constitute an ideal tool with real potential for introducing change. In an increasingly coherent manner, the BRICS countries are also deciding the political direction of prominent international organisations, such as the United Nations. Moreover, taking into account the economic as well as the demographic potential of these countries, only a coordinated European policy can contribute to the increased role and effectiveness of the Union on the international arena. I support the resolution.
Vilija Blinkevičiūtė (S&D), in writing. – (LT) I voted in favour of this report because I agree that the European Union must outline the objectives and strategy of its common foreign policy as regards regions that are developing rapidly in economic terms, such as the so-called BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China, Indonesia, Mexico and Turkey). According to current data, it is projected that the economic growth of the BRICS will only increase in future, and that by 2050, their economic growth will exceed that of all the G7 countries (USA, Japan, Canada, United Kingdom, Germany, France and Italy) put together. In future, through its foreign policy, the European Union must therefore carefully take into account the new economic and political power of these emerging economies and act as a single and robust political and economic entity. This is particularly important if, as a global region, we wish to remain at the forefront of the reform of the international governance system and play a major role in seeking global remedies to issues such as climate change, access to raw materials and rare earths, terrorism, and political stability and security worldwide.
Vito Bonsignore (PPE), in writing. – (IT) I voted in favour of Mr Saryusz-Wolski’s report. In a global economic perspective, in terms of gross domestic product, China is projected to become the world’s largest economy before 2020 and India could become the country with the fastest growing economy before 2050, whereas the so-called BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China), together with Indonesia, Mexico and Turkey, will have larger economies than, collectively, the G7 countries. Should the economic growth of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) and the emerging economies be further consolidated, these countries will acquire strong relevance in foreign policy terms on the global scene. However, considering the interdependence between the world’s economies, the consolidation of the economic leadership of the emerging economies will be conditional on the welfare of the emerged economies. All this provides a big opportunity for the EU: taking into account the new weight, in political terms, of the BRICS, it will be able to use its political leverage to continue to promote universal values in the looming new multipolar system of global governance and be at the forefront of the process of reform of the international governance system. The EU will therefore need to act as a single and robust political and economic entity, treating the emerging countries as valuable partners of the West.
Philippe Boulland (PPE), in writing. – (FR) Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) have become undeniable global actors with which the EU must establish a constructive partnership, based on common values, in order to be able to face up to transnational challenges such as climate change, access to raw materials and rare earths, terrorism and sustainable development. Considering that seven emerging countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China, Indonesia, Mexico and Turkey) are projected to have larger economies than the G7 countries, collectively, by 2050, Parliament insists that regular political dialogue be established in order to improve the observance of human rights and social and environmental standards within these emerging powers. The BRICS countries, in terms of their percentage of global GDP, have a role to play within international development policy, particularly with a view to improving the observance of core labour standards and to raising the skill levels of the workforce in accordance with ILO regulations. The Millennium Development Goals can only be achieved through strict and constructive cooperation between the EU and the BRICS countries.
Jan Březina (PPE), in writing. – (CS) In view of the increasing relevance of the BRICS countries and other emerging powers and the multipolar system of global governance that is taking shape, we should pay more attention to cooperation based on the G20. In the interests of reconciling positions with Russia, the existence of the G8 should also be harnessed, so that common challenges can be addressed in a coordinated and effective manner. I support the G20 parliamentary dimension and I believe that it should be further consolidated and involved in decision-making processes, in order to ensure reinforced democratic dialogue and greater scrutiny. I firmly believe that the current sovereign debt crisis will be an important test for the G20 as an effective forum for strategic political dialogue, creating foundations for the elimination of systemic unbalances which can be particularly damaging both for developed economies and, in a longer-term perspective, emerging ones, and promoting solidarity in international financial fora such as the International Monetary Fund. The EU must enhance political dialogue and cooperation with the BRIC countries in order to push further forward the reform of global financial and economic governance institutions, that is to say, the Bretton Woods institutions, with the aim of ensuring the broader representation of all member countries while reflecting changes in economic weight.
Corina Creţu (S&D), in writing. – (RO) The BRICS countries have enjoyed significant economic growth in recent years, which, against the backdrop of the crisis, has brought about changes in terms of the global balance of influence. However, these countries, apart from Russia, are still developing countries which have the biggest concentration of poverty in the world.
There is the risk that this accelerated economic growth will deepen the inequalities in spite of the considerable progress made, particularly in the case of Brazil. According to estimates, China will become the biggest economy in the world before 2020, while the economies of the main seven emerging countries will be more powerful than those of the G7 countries in 2050.
With their political role increasing commensurately with their economic clout, the main BRICS countries are also assuming ever growing responsibility for driving global social progress and for international development policy. I hope that common concerns about complementing ‘aid effectiveness’ with ‘development effectiveness’ will provide a common platform for increasing the involvement of the emerging countries in development policies.
Mário David (PPE), in writing. – (PT) First of all, I would like to congratulate my group colleague, the rapporteur Mr Saryusz-Wolski, on the conciliation work that he has done in the Committee on Foreign Affairs, resulting in an own-initiative report that is quite wide-ranging in terms of the topics covered, and quite inclusive in relation to the participation of the various groups in Parliament. I prefer the distinction between the CIVETS countries (Colombia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Turkey and South Africa) and the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) to designate the main emerging global economies because I believe that this ‘separation’ between the two emerging economic groups brings greater precision to the strategic analysis of their relations with the EU. However, I believe that this report proposes a set of rather important measures for the future of our relations with the BRICS, to use the name that includes South Africa, which should obviously be considered by the EU. Multilateralism should be given the greatest importance in international relations, but the BRICS should also be more involved in economic development policy at global level, and the role of Parliament should be strengthened in relations with these countries. I believe this to be vital in establishing lasting ties at international level.
Christine De Veyrac (PPE), in writing. – (FR) I voted in favour of this text, which reorganises the partnership between the European Union and emerging countries. It is essential that the EU takes its rightful place in the negotiations which will change the international balances of power if it wants to be able to defend its values and maintain its influence in the new global governance system.
José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. – (PT) This report, drafted by Mr Saryusz-Wolski, concerns EU foreign policy, namely, its aims and strategies, in relation to the so-called BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) and to other powers with emerging economies. The BRICS do not constitute a homogeneous bloc since they are situated in different geographic areas, have different histories and have not adopted EU values to the same extent. However, they make up 40% of the world’s population, represent 17% of the global gross domestic product and often take positions that are harmonised with one another. Without giving up its principles and values, the EU cannot distance itself from the increasingly important role of these emerging economies, and should work together with them towards addressing the issues affecting our planet, including climate change, terrorism, sustainable development, access to raw materials, political stability and global security. I voted for this report and I support the proposal by my colleague, Mr Rangel, that a dedicated European Parliament delegation to Brazil be created, as has already been done for other BRIC countries, since Brazil is the only one that speaks an official EU language.
João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (PT) Recognising the growing importance of the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) in the global economy, this report states that the EU needs to strengthen relations with each of these countries. The concern being expressed is, however, that they should be considered separately. There are a number of reasons for this. The growth and diversification of the BRIC countries’ economic activity jeopardises the traditional division of global labour, which is unfavourable to these countries. Their role is not limited to producing items low in value added and exporting raw materials and agricultural produce for countries at the heart of the capitalist system. Today, they are increasingly becoming world powers to rival the triad: the US, Japan and the EU. Some of them are even pursuing the opposite path to the EU in the fight against hunger and poverty. We should not forget that in a few years, millions of people have been pulled out of extreme poverty in China, India and Brazil, in a process that has not been without major contradictions. It is a fact that, internationally, the BRIC countries have been coming together on a number of important issues. The positions taken up by the BRIC countries in the international arena and their working together are increasingly being seen as a threat to the influence and dominance of the aforementioned triad, especially in the institutions of international capitalism: the World Bank, the IMF and the G20.
Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D), in writing. – (SK) The growing political and economic importance of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (the BRICS group) increases the importance of these countries in terms of foreign policy. In terms of the global economy, it is also expected that the economies of seven rapidly developing countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China, Indonesia, Mexico and Turkey) will be bigger in 2050 than the economies of the G7 countries (USA, Japan, Canada, UK, Germany, France and Italy) put together. With regard to gross domestic product, it is assumed that China will become the largest economy in the world before 2020 and that India could become the fastest growing economy in the world before 2050.
I firmly believe that it would be appropriate to try to achieve something more than mutual trust, recognition and cooperation, and to make efforts to create a common platform on foreign policy issues based on the assumption that a new system of global governance is being established that will be sufficiently accessible to the BRICS group and other emerging powers and founded on common values. The current trade agreements between the EU and the BRICS group of countries are not only mutually beneficial in economic terms, but are also politically beneficial for both parties. It is important to build relations with the BRICS group on the basis of bilateral dialogues aimed at promoting further democratisation and strengthening of relations with the EU.
Ashley Fox (ECR), in writing. – This week, the Parliament has been discussing the EU's relations towards the BRICS and other emerging powers. Good relations with countries like Brazil are vital, especially in terms of encouraging trade. One key area of interest to me is the trade of agricultural products. We import large amounts of meat from Brazil; meat that comes from animals that do not have to comply with the same rigorous standards and regulation that our farmers are subjected to. One example is the introduction of yet another pointless and costly regulation to electronically identify all sheep within the EU. These new rules to monitor the movement of sheep are flawed. They require a 100% accuracy rate of recording to be achieved by farmers, a task which is impossible because the available technology is not 100% reliable. If our farmers fail to achieve a 100% accuracy rate, they face heavy financial penalties. This is completely unacceptable. I therefore urge the Commission to review this regulation to allow some discretion to reflect the reality of the unreliable EID technology.
Bruno Gollnisch (NI), in writing. – (FR) The rapporteur’s proposals on our relations with emerging powers are symptomatic of the spirit of renunciation and submission that reigns over this Parliament. According to the report, the ultimate aim of these relations should be to organise, and I quote, ‘an inclusive system of global governance’; to try to play a role in this multipolar world – still in perfect harmony (submission?) with the United States – the aim of this cooperation being to preserve and support a global political, economic and financial system which has largely shown itself to be harmful and doomed to failure. With this in mind, we are proposing to give a few more powers to these emerging countries in the UN and the IMF, since we are begging them for a bail-out in the euro crisis. It would also mean exclusively entrusting relations with the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) to the European Union, so, for the moment, to Baroness Ashton, while national diplomacies would be mere relays with no autonomy from the decisions taken in Brussels. This is all unacceptable. I am taking this opportunity to condemn the fate of white farmers in South Africa, who are being brutally murdered with the complicity of the authorities while Parliament remains completely silent on the matter.
Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. – (LT) In 2050, seven emerging economies (Brazil, Russia, India, China, Indonesia, Mexico and Turkey) will have larger economies than all the Group of Seven (G7) countries (USA, Japan, Canada, United Kingdom, Germany, France and Italy) put together. China is projected to become the world’s largest economy by 2020, while India could become the fastest growing economy in the world by 2050. I welcomed this document because addressing international issues, such as climate change, global governance issues, access to raw materials and rare earths, terrorism, combating non-state radical movements, sustainable development, global political stability and security, will require a rules-based, inclusive approach based on partnership, common values, consensus, full consultation and cooperation with the new emerging powers, and effective solutions to international problems will have to be found through joint efforts. I also agree with the provision that the EU can, and should, take the initiative in this area.
Philippe Juvin (PPE), in writing. – (FR) This is a good report, aimed at discussing the foundations of a new inclusive global governance system and making recommendations, whilst identifying key areas for reform. I voted in favour of this report.
Jarosław Kalinowski (PPE), in writing. – (PL) The crisis that is raging in Europe does not instil optimism. Instead of abating, the recession is deepening, unemployment is growing, and the lack of innovation and new investment in Europe do not suggest that the situation will improve. As it falls into a state of apathy, Europe is no longer a model to emulate, in contrast to the accelerating economies of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (the BRICS group of countries), which are relatively unaffected by the global recession. According to economic forecasts, the economies of these countries are predicted to accelerate even further. In addition, these countries are strengthening politically and developing common positions – which are often controversial for Europe – in relation to global conflicts and problems.
Therefore, I agree with the rapporteur that the Union should cooperate closely with these countries, but that this cooperation should not come at any price. We should bear in mind the unquestionable potential of these countries, but we should not undervalue our own economy and its capabilities. This is a difficult challenge, since taking into account the unequal conditions of competition, manifested by cheap labour achieved at the cost of human rights, as well as lower production standards, or quite simply, superior natural conditions and access to natural resources, Europe will face a difficult task. We cannot, however, succumb entirely to economic pressures and forget about fundamental European values.
David Martin (S&D), in writing. – I supported this report, in which Parliament states that it ‘Believes that the EU should formulate its position regarding a closer relationship with the BRICS, even taking into account the fact that the EU’s vision and the BRICS countries’ vision with regard to binding commitments and institutionalised regimes may not necessarily always be the same; believes also that support from the BRICS countries for effective multilateralism might be gained in exchange for stronger representation in relevant international institutions; insists that the challenges posed by the rise of the BRICS should be seen as an opportunity rather than a problem;’.
Clemente Mastella (PPE), in writing. – (IT) As the current economic crisis demonstrates, there is a strong degree of interdependence between emerged powers and emerging powers. We support this report, since its aim is to discuss the foundations of a new, inclusive system of global governance and since it attempts to make recommendations, whilst identifying key areas of reform, where the EU could seek to streamline its action and institutional architecture and thereby increase its potential and effectiveness as a global actor.
What is really needed is to go beyond cooperation in economic terms, and strive rather for the creation of a common platform in foreign policy terms, provided a new system of global governance, inclusive enough and based on shared values, is devised. The EU will have to duly take into account the new weight, in political and economic terms, of these countries and other emerging powers and use its political leverage to continue to promote universal values in the looming new multipolar system of global governance and be at the forefront of the process of reform of the international governance system.
Mario Mauro (PPE), in writing. – (IT) I agree with the rapporteur on the need to build the foundations of a new, inclusive system of global governance. The EU must not ignore the growing weight, in political and economic terms, of the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) and other emerging powers. We must use our political leverage to promote those universal values that have enabled us to grow in peace for 60 years. I voted in favour.
Mairead McGuinness (PPE), in writing. – EU policy towards the BRICS and other emerging powers is important, but it is also important to understand the implications of furthering trading relationships and the consequences of same. In paragraph 12, the report supports a balanced and fair conclusion of the EU-Mercosur agreement. However, the Commission has indicated that such an agreement will damage the interests of EU agriculture. Indeed, the Commission is prepared to accept that damage will be done by attempting to extend the scope of the EU Globalisation Adjustment Fund to farmers. I am totally opposed to such a proposal, which threatens the future of EU family farming at a time when we are concerned about food security and are reforming the common agriculture policy. For this reason, I cannot support this report and abstained in the final vote.
Jean-Luc Mélenchon (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (FR) This report is symptomatic of transatlantic imperialism. It refuses to respect the sovereign will of the states to establish cooperation that does not conform to its interests. It ignores the cooperation established by the so-called BRICS, gives priority to the relations with those BRICS that aspire to a social market economy and discourages the formation of new regional blocs. It also proposes global economic governance organised by the G20 and prepared under the auspices of the G7 and the transatlantic partnership. I denounce all of these illegal bodies. The only legitimate framework for dealing with global issues is the UN. This text merely seeks to encourage it to cooperate with the G7 and the G20. I voted against.
Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. – (PT) The BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) and other emerging economies have been assuming major foreign policy importance on the world stage as their growth has strengthened. Looking to the future of the global economy, seven emerging countries – Brazil, Russia, India, China, Indonesia, Mexico and Turkey – are projected to have larger economies than, collectively, the G7 countries (the United States, Japan, Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, France and Italy) by 2050. There is, therefore, a need to create a common foreign policy platform that benefits from a new system of global governance, is inclusive enough to incorporate the BRICS and other emerging powers, and is based on shared values. The foundations of a new, inclusive system of global governance therefore need to be discussed and recommendations made as a matter of urgency, identifying key areas of reform where the EU could make its action and institutional architecture more efficient, and thereby increase its potential and effectiveness as a global player.
Louis Michel (ALDE), in writing. – (FR) We are living in a time of globalisation. The challenges we face are no longer continental, but global. Huge ethical, intelligence and organisational progress is essential in all areas, including the environment, development cooperation, etc. Tomorrow’s global universalism will be based on a dialogue developed among all civilisations. We need to be open to the changes in the world. There are many challenges: demographic growth is accelerating, while the environment and the climate are deteriorating. We urgently need to build more solid global governance based on greater solidarity. We urgently need to build a ‘global state’, as Jacques Attali says. We need to learn from China, from Brazil, from South Africa, from India, from Turkey, and from others. We need to give them, and others too, their rightful place in the reform of the international institutions. Tackling the major global challenges will require multipolar, global cooperation. Europe will not be able to convince the rest of the world unless it has a project that is supported across the political spectrum, from left to right. Europe can set the tone if it leaves behind its sovereignists, if it speaks with one voice.
Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. – It is known that there is the increasing and quasi-permanent coordination among the BRICS countries in various policy areas in the international arena, including at the United Nations, with special regard to the recent cases of the UNSC resolution on Libya, the UN positions on the Côte d’Ivoire or Sudan, as well as concerning the EU’s status at the UNGA. I am confident in significant political, economic and social divergences among the BRICS countries and believe that the EU had no interest in dealing with the BRICS countries as a bloc by overestimating the significance of their foreign policy coordination.
Andreas Mölzer (NI), in writing. – (DE) it is important to point out that the BRIC countries, in other words, China, India, Russia and Brazil, as well as other developing countries, such as Mexico, Turkey and Indonesia, are already playing an important role in world trade. The EU States are not isolated in economic terms. The recent economic crisis illustrated just how much countries depend on one another. It is therefore very important that we should improve and develop economic relations with the aforementioned countries in particular. Nonetheless, the EU should not be influenced too much by the ideas and initiatives of the United States. I fear that this proposal will strengthen the dominant position of the US, which could, in turn, lead to stagnation in the development of trade with the BRIC countries. The EU must develop its own initiatives and must not allow itself to be intimidated too much by its big neighbour on the other side of the Atlantic. I am in favour of improving trade relations with the BRIC countries. However, this must primarily be in the interests of the EU. This is not sufficiently covered in the report, and I therefore chose to abstain.
Vital Moreira (S&D), in writing. – (PT) Although I voted for the report on ‘The EU foreign policy towards the BRICS and other emerging powers: objectives and strategies’, as it is broadly positive, I cannot support the passage that proposes allocating the coordination of foreign and security policy with other EU sectoral policies, such as foreign trade policy or security policy, to the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of Commission. I believe that this proposal does not make sense in light of the Treaty of Lisbon. Firstly, it concerns two quite different policies, subject to very different systems under the EU Treaties. Secondly, under the Treaty, the High Representative only has the jurisdiction to steer foreign and security policy, and not to ‘coordinate’ the various EU external action policies, in particular, foreign trade policy. Thirdly, where there is a need for such ‘coordination’, this falls to the High Representative and the Commissioner for External Trade together, without this meaning that one has any authority over the other, or that there is any hierarchy. This proposal will therefore mean an unacceptable change to the balance and distribution of powers between the institutions and bodies of the EU.
Radvilė Morkūnaitė-Mikulėnienė (PPE), in writing. – (LT) Universal values such as human rights and freedoms must be, and must remain, a major dimension of international relations and global structures. In the context of changing global economic and political realities, the European Union must take the lead and promote the strengthening of universal values in the newly emerging multipolar system of international relations, developing bilateral and multilateral relations with the BRICS countries based on democracy, mutual respect and shared values. Growing economic power is allowing additional power poles to be established in the global system, but increasing political and economic weight at the same time also means increasing global responsibility. It is important for these countries to choose the road of cooperation, not confrontation, to address the issues of global security, stability and wealth creation. The EU can and must contribute to the creation of a world of tomorrow in which there would be no doubt about who to support – a tyrant or people being killed.
Cristiana Muscardini (PPE), in writing. – (IT) I am in favour of a comprehensive approach by the EU towards the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), but it must be stressed that these are more emerged than emerging countries and that Europe must consider them increasingly as competitive partners in its trade, as well as in strategic and political, relations.
These days, international trade has become an instrument of foreign policy and if we want to create a new system of global governance, we will need to very much keep in mind the economic issues and the current position of these countries that, like China, implement an expansionist, and not always transparent, policy from the financial, commercial and economic perspective vis-à-vis industrialised and developing countries.
Europe must not let slip the opportunity to take on the major transnational challenges, from climate change to food security, by cooperating with powers projected to have larger economies than, collectively, the G7 countries. At the same time, however, it must be vigilant that market rules, free competition and mutual political recognition do not remain simply on the paper of international agreements but are also respected in those countries, such as the BRICS, where the system of values and freedoms sometimes assumes forms different from our own. The market must not fail to observe the most basic of human rights.
Rolandas Paksas (EFD), in writing. – (LT) I welcome this resolution setting out the objectives and future strategies of EU foreign policy as regards the BRICS and other rapidly developing countries. Addressing current and particularly sensitive global problems calls for a rules-based inclusive approach and constant and permanent cooperation with the new emerging economies. It should be noted that through its foreign policy, the EU must take into account and assess the interests and role of each individual BRICS state, and not just the interests of the states taken as a whole group. Furthermore, in order to reform global financial and economic governance institutions and contribute to the consolidation of a multipolar order, the EU must enhance political dialogue with the BRICS countries and increase the coordination of its policies with the USA.
Alfredo Pallone (PPE), in writing. – (IT) The BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) are proving increasingly strong on the international political scene. Due to their potential for economic development, these countries will be the main competitors and/or partners of the West, both with reference to foreign policies and with regard to trade agreements. The report in question puts forward the possibility of the EU opening its foreign policy to the positions of the BRICS countries which, aware of the growing weight of their GDP and of their economies, are creating a common platform in foreign policy terms. The aim is to seek a new system of global governance, inclusive enough for the BRICS.
Georgios Papanikolaou (PPE), in writing. – (EL) The economic surge in the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) and other emerging economies is expected to shift the balance in foreign policy. The economic crisis, moreover, proves that the EU needs to take account of the new specific weight of these countries, both for economic reasons (to facilitate trade, investment and so forth) and for humanitarian reasons (to pass on European values, experience and democracy). This own-initiative report, which I voted in favour of, aims to identify the areas in which the EU can act and to put certain thoughts into words in terms of the institutional influence that Europe can have on the new global political and economic scene. Greece can, and must, be pro-actively involved in this process, despite the difficulties it faces. It has comparative advantages, such as its civilisation, geographical position and culture, which it must exploit in its efforts to draw closer to emerging economies. It is important to state at every opportunity that the crisis must not detach and isolate the country from what is happening at global level.
Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. – (PT) I voted for this report as I agree with its main aim, which is to discuss the foundations of a new, inclusive system of global governance and make recommendations, whilst identifying key areas of reform where the EU could seek to streamline its action and institutional architecture, thereby increasing its potential and effectiveness as a global player in the face of the so-called emerging economies, which include the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa).
Fiorello Provera (EFD), in writing. – (IT) I am in favour of many of the ideas proposed by Mr Saryusz-Wolski on the issue of relations with the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa): the idea that the EU should have its own global, comprehensive approach on the issue; the idea that the growing role of emerging countries, in particular, the BRICS, should be fully acknowledged within the framework of rules and values, above all, those enshrined in the United Nations Charter; the idea that parliamentary diplomacy can contribute decisively to the development of amicable relations, especially in those countries in which parliamentarianism is becoming established; lastly, the idea that developing full political relations with the emerging world must not disregard crucial issues such as the environment, human rights and labour conditions. By contrast, I have great doubts about the request for visa liberalisation with Brazil. Migratory dynamics are too complicated to be addressed by immediately opening up our borders, particularly at a time of economic crisis such as we are currently experiencing. It is for this reason that I decided to abstain from the vote on this report.
Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. – (PT) The BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) and other emerging economies could become very important in terms of foreign policy on the world stage. Indeed, these countries, as well as Indonesia, Mexico and Turkey, are projected to have larger economies than, collectively, the G7 countries by 2050. The new political and economic importance of the BRICS and other emerging powers should be given due consideration by the EU when drafting its foreign policy, as the economic rise of these countries will necessarily lead to a redefinition of the global model of economic and political governance. It is therefore imperative to start devising an EU strategy for the coming period, seeking to incorporate these countries into the scope of EU foreign policy and preserve the position of the EU as an engaged and influential player in the multipolar system of global governance that is taking shape. I therefore voted for this report, and I am particularly pleased that it opens the door to the creation of a European Parliament delegation for relations with Brazil. We have long championed this objective, and I hope that now it can finally be realised.
Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – Abstention. The BRICS and current emerging economies do not constitute or comprise a formal grouping of countries designed to play a specific role in international affairs, and the EU should therefore develop a relationship with each one of those countries, taking note of their singularity and specific foreign policy objectives and aims. The EU should invest in strategic partnerships with each BRICS country and other emerging economies, as they increasingly play a role in the international arena, particularly in international organisations, such as the UN, as a means of advancing common goals, namely peace and global security, the rule of law domestically or internationally, the promotion of human rights, democracy, sustainable development and global financial regulation. However, the resolution was a bit unclear on how to proceed in that regard.
Nikolaos Salavrakos (EFD), in writing. – (EL) I voted in favour of Parliament’s motion for a resolution because it will serve the long-term interests of EU foreign policy. These interests dictate that the BRICS countries need to be integrated into the current multipolar system of global governance so that they do not compete with the EU. These countries and other emerging economies, which are expected by 2050 to have bigger economies than all the G7 countries together, will acquire massive potential to influence foreign policy at global level. Any such development will have direct and unfortunate repercussions on the corresponding influence of the EU, which will then face huge difficulties in its efforts to support and promote the ecumenical values which it espouses.
Czesław Adam Siekierski (PPE), in writing. – (PL) The high rate of economic growth in Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (the BRICS), as well as in other emerging world powers, is altering the balance of global forces before our very eyes. As pointed out by the rapporteur, it is estimated that in 2050, the combined relevance of the seven largest emerging economies (Brazil, Russia, India, China, Indonesia, Turkey and Mexico) will be greater than the economic relevance of the G7 countries. The aforementioned growing economic powers have already proven that they foster high ambitions in terms of foreign policy, and it is likely that they will gradually take over leadership in the shaping of global governance and strategies of global significance. This shows how important it is to increase internal cohesion within the EU and to strengthen our common foreign policy. Only by acting as a single robust entity will we be able to compete with the growing economic and political powers and maintain relevance in the new, multipolar system of global governance and leadership. The emerging new global balance of forces creates an opportunity for the European Union to take initiative and assume leadership in the process of changing and reforming the system of global governance, which will include the new powers. We have an opportunity to create a new platform for international foreign policy based on mutual trust and common values, which will support cooperation in trade and economic terms, as well as cooperation to find more effective solutions to global issues such as climate change, global peace and security and sustainable development.
Sergio Paolo Francesco Silvestris (PPE), in writing. – (IT) European companies are looking for new outlets in the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) as a way of overcoming the economic crisis in their national markets. Among other things, this is shown by business travel to Brazil, which is up by 30% compared with last year. It is a similar matter as far as the East is concerned: there is considerable growth with regard to China (up by 27%), including to lesser destinations as well as the traditional ones of Beijing, Hong Kong and Shanghai. All this confirms that investments by European companies are being increasingly directed at the new emerging economies. The strong degree of interdependence between emerged powers and emerging powers requires that the EU’s respective bilateral policies with the BRIC countries should also be reviewed. Latest statistics on movements to India and South Africa also show an increase of 19% and 18% respectively in this case.
Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. – (PT) The international relations that we are witnessing today reflect a loss of dominance by Europe and the US, which are supposedly supreme in economic, cultural, political and humanitarian terms. The dynamic that has been created and developed in terms of multilateralism, in particular, the composition of the United Nations, the UN Security Council and other international organisations, has been implemented for and adapted to the current international system. Today, there are a number of countries that have developed an area of common ground on foreign policy: namely, the so-called BRICS – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – and other emerging economies such as Indonesia, Mexico and Turkey, which are seeking a multipolar system of global governance. In terms of international action, the BRICS are already taking up common positions on several topical issues. There is certain to be reform of the international institutional framework. The current problems are of a cross-border nature, so they require global, not national, solutions. The BRICS are emerging as essential partners in ensuring global stability and security, so it is imperative that there be close cooperation, consultation, dialogue and consensus.
Silvia-Adriana Ţicău (S&D), in writing. – (RO) I voted in favour of the EU foreign policy resolution regarding the BRICS and other emerging powers because the EU needs to make efforts to establish a better link between foreign and security policy and the EU’s sectoral policies for areas such as development, energy security, trade, access to raw materials and rare earths, climate change and migration.
The resolution highlights the following: the importance of Brazil as a leading power in the Mercosur regional integration process and of the EU-Brazil strategic partnership; the vital role of the EU-Russia strategic partnership in maintaining peace and security in Europe, enhancing trade and economic development and preserving energy security; the importance of the EU-India strategic partnership; the importance of China as a major economic power and its vital role in global economic recovery.
Relations with the BRICS countries should be built upon bilateral dialogues focusing on and fostering democratisation and the consolidation of the rule of law, good governance, regulatory convergence, coordination of common positions within international forums and enhanced relations with the EU. Overall coordination of EU foreign policy in relation to the BRICS and other emerging powers should be handled by the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.
Dominique Vlasto (PPE), in writing. – (FR) I supported this report, which highlights the fact that our world has well and truly changed: the emerging powers have confirmed their predominant economic strength, which is now accompanied by growing diplomatic strength. In this rapidly changing context, Europe cannot remain silent. It must propose strong initiatives to reorganise the system of global governance in order to ensure that it is more inclusive and based on relevant instruments and representative bodies. In my view, we must not look at the BRICS countries with trepidation, but with realism: the economic, social, financial and confidence crisis has demonstrated the extent to which our economies are interdependent, if any such demonstration were necessary. We can no longer allow ourselves to adopt unilateral approaches when the challenges we face (energy, sustainable development, food, security, etc.) affect all of humanity. The EU must, however, take care not to lose its influence or neglect its historical allies, especially the Arab world. I firmly believe that any pulling back or weakening on our part would result in the BRICS countries consolidating their ties with our strategic partners. Cooperation between the EU and the BRICS countries is, in my opinion, the key to safeguarding our leadership.
Angelika Werthmann (NI), in writing. – (DE) Relations with the BRICS countries need to be expanded from a purely economic level to a political dimension. This is particularly important in the face of transnational challenges such as climate change, terrorism, commodity shortages and the guarantee of international stability. It is important that the EU should act as a coherent economic and political force in its relations with the BRICS countries.
Inês Zuber (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (PT) The report recognises the growing importance of the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) in the global economy and the need for the EU to strengthen relations with them. The fact that the crisis of capitalism is not even more severe is solely due to the contribution that these countries are making to world output. In the power-rebalancing process under way at global level, the majority in this House now supports closer ties with these countries on an individual basis, as they fear their unity and that it could mean a weakening of the influence and dominance of the capitalist triad – the USA, Japan and the EU – in the institutions of international capitalism. They want to restrain their growth and the diversification of their economic activity, which jeopardise the international distribution of labour and the role these countries were supposed to play; namely, that of producers of products low in value added. Today, the BRICS countries are increasingly becoming world powers, rivalling the triad, and some of them are even taking the opposite course to that of the EU in terms of combating hunger and poverty, which will increase for us as a result of the course and the misguided policies of the EU and the Member States. We advocate the establishment of relations with all countries, refusing to pigeonhole them and safeguarding mutual interests, regardless of differences and of political, economic, social and cultural perceptions.
Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. – (PT) I am voting for this report since it is balanced. Consistency in the application of restrictive measures to certain countries, and thus their leaders, is fundamental to the credibility of EU foreign policy. We must continue to set an example to the world in this area, applying non-violent coercive measures to those who do not respect human rights and undermine democratic values.
Laima Liucija Andrikienė (PPE), in writing. – I voted in favour of this resolution where the EP recommends to the Council a consistent policy towards regimes against whom the EU applies restrictive measures when their leaders exercise their personal and commercial interests for their personal wealth within EU borders. I agree with the rapporteur on the proposed clearer criteria for EU sanctions in order to enhance the consistency, transparency and credibility of their application. I also agree that an annual report should be made on the implementation of sanctions, the European Parliament should be fully and regularly associated in the review process and the evaluation of sanctions should be done in dialogue with the people and civil society organisations of the targeted countries, with the aim of developing and strengthening the respect for democracy and human rights. The EU Member States would have to declare when persons on sanctions lists have physical or financial assets within their borders, to apply financial sanctions or restrictive measures in case of any financial intervention. We, Members of European Parliament, believe that measures clearly targeted to the accountable regimes and EU coordinated action will strive to minimise the adverse impact on the civil population, in particular, the most vulnerable.
Pino Arlacchi (S&D), in writing. – I voted for this resolution because the European Parliament must reiterate once again that sanctions are not an end in themselves and that decisions on sanctions by the EU should be taken only after thorough evaluation of the most efficient way to support democratic change. The EU has often applied its sanctions policy inconsistently by treating third countries with similar human rights and democratic records differently. Such behaviour has often encouraged criticism for applying double standards. With this resolution, we want to stress that sanctions should be applied regardless of political, economic and security interests. All restrictive measures must comply with international humanitarian law and with the principle of proportionality and must not penalise the most vulnerable population groups in countries affected by these measures. For these reasons, I consider the ‘targeted sanctions’ overall a better instrument. Sanctioned leaders will be affected only if they are personally subject to pressure in the form of restrictions on their ability to move money, invest and access their financial assets, restrictions for travel or for diplomatic representation.
Sophie Auconie (PPE), in writing. – (FR) The recent trouble in the Middle East has shown that it is absolutely essential for the European Union to draw up a common strategy for dealing with authoritarian regimes against which the EU already applies restrictive measures. If we speak with one voice, we will undoubtedly be more convincing. I supported this recommendation because it recommends depriving authoritarian leaders of their trade with members of the European Union, targeting their personal wealth, preventing them from travelling in our countries, and sending back members of their families.
Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D), in writing. – (LT) I voted in favour of the report. It is estimated that within the last two decades, USD 150 billion has left the countries in North Africa (Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia). Sanctions or restrictive measures, such as arms embargoes, trade sanctions, financial and economic sanctions, the freezing of assets, flight bans, restrictions on admission, diplomatic sanctions, boycotts of sporting and cultural events and the suspension of cooperation with third countries, can only be effective if imposed by the whole of the EU. Disagreement among Member States often leads to inconsistent application of restrictive measures, which damages the EU’s credibility and has a detrimental impact on the effectiveness of those measures. I welcome the European Parliament’s recommendations that an effective sanctions policy needs to be established throughout the EU, developing clear criteria for when sanctions are to be applied, determining clear objectives, the form of sanctions to be applied and guidelines for their evaluation, which would help improve collaboration and synergy among Member States and ensure that there are no double standards when deciding on restrictive measures or sanctions.
Adam Bielan (ECR), in writing. – (PL) Promoting democracy and combating the world’s authoritarian and totalitarian regimes are important objectives for which we should all take responsibility. Against this backdrop, financial transactions and investment by non-democratic leaders within EU Member States are becoming particularly significant. Quite often, these leaders are benefiting from the advantages of Western civilisation. Taking note of the fact that these leaders use their assets, which are quite often illegal, to bolster their power and oppress their own citizens, I support the recommendations included in the resolution. Strengthening the array of restrictive measures, through denying sanctioned leaders the right to perform monetary transactions within the Member States, to travel and obtain education, to provide funding to research centres and operate businesses, are just some of the instruments that we can employ. I expect intensified collaboration and synergy amongst all EU Member States, so that we can present a coherent stance on the matter of condemning authoritarian regimes based on uniform and integrated action.
Mara Bizzotto (EFD), in writing. – (IT) EU policy towards regimes that violate the principles of democracy and freedom and the human rights of their peoples has often been strongly criticised. Indeed, there has often been, and culpably continues to be, a basic ambiguity by which the EU, while acknowledging the anti-democratic nature of many governments, has preferred to keep silent on the matter and continue to enter into political and economic ties with these countries, confining itself to inserting into various cooperation agreements clauses on the respect of human rights which many regimes clearly fail to observe. With this own-initiative report, Parliament calls on the EU to adopt stricter measures and policies towards politicians and key figures in non-democratic regimes of third countries when they exercise their personal or commercial interests within the borders of the 27 Member States. We also call attention to the need to make violations of religious freedom and freedom of expression in third countries sufficient reason for Member States and the EU as a whole to implement more than political sanctions and responses. It is further proposed that forms, means and procedures for enforcing sanctions be codified more precisely than thus far. I voted in favour of the report.
Vito Bonsignore (PPE), in writing. – (IT) I voted in favour of this report as I agree with the need expressed in it to make the EU directives providing for restrictive measures against authoritarian leaders more binding and applicable. In other words, people who, by getting round the measures imposed by Europe, manage to exercise, influence and exploit personal, economic and political interests on EU territory. Better coordination is therefore desirable among Member States in applying those measures imposed at EU level; in addition, EU Member States should actively investigate and prosecute persons or legal entities in Europe that have assisted sanctioned leaders and persons associated with them in evading or avoiding the sanctions imposed against them. Lastly, clear criteria must be developed for when restrictive measures are to be applied and, at the same time, the objectives for such measures must be identified: by establishing precise rules, it is possible to enhance the consistency and credibility of EU sanctions.
Christine De Veyrac (PPE), in writing. – (FR) I voted in favour of this report, which rationalises the EU’s policy of sanctions against authoritarian states. Incoherent or inconsistent application by the Member States of the restrictive measures adopted by Brussels actually damages Europe’s credibility on the international stage and weakens the impact of these sanctions.
Edite Estrela (S&D), in writing. – (PT) I voted for the report on a ‘consistent policy towards regimes against which the EU applies restrictive measures’, as I believe that a more coherent and effective strategy is needed in relation to authoritarian regimes; in particular, making provision for measures to prevent authoritarian leaders from benefiting from the rewards of corruption and the possibility of transferring funds.
Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. – (PT) It is well known that many authoritarian leaders in other regions of the world, as well as their families and associates, have embezzled funds from their own countries and made investments in Europe. This is often seen as a potential refuge and safe place to invest and locate savings. In the face of this disturbing situation, there have been various measures aimed at punishing such practices and restricting the movement of the people and assets involved, which are clearly not consistent and have not had the desired effect, in particular, with regard to the hoped-for political change in their countries of origin. Parliament’s stance, which I welcome, may not have the desired success if the Member States do not grasp the importance of joining up their responses to this type of problem in an effective way, and if they do not involve the peoples and civil society organisations of the countries subject to sanctions, so that they can contribute to raising public awareness of these problems and achieving the long-desired paradigm shift in governance and in the management of public assets.
José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. – (PT) The European Union and its banking institutions are often chosen by leaders of developing countries, where democracy is taking a long time to gain a foothold, for depositing large sums of money. For instance, Hosni Mubarak of Egypt has between USD 50 million and USD 70 million invested in the EU and the US, the Gaddafi regime of Libya holds billions of US dollars in assets in the EU, and Omar al-Bashir of Sudan has USD 4 billion invested in the EU. The report drafted by Mr Watson concerns the proposal for a European Parliament recommendation to the Council on how to implement a consistent policy on regimes against which the EU applies restrictive measures when their leaders exercise their personal and commercial interests within EU borders. I voted for this report, as those who lead authoritarian regimes and enrich themselves through corruption and by exploiting the people and resources of their countries must be forced to respect human dignity. They cannot act with complete freedom and impunity in the face of the impotence and, often, the complacency of international institutions. The EU should set an example by confiscating these assets and returning them to the democratically elected governments.
João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (PT) Implementing the principles contained in this report conflicts with international law and the UN Charter of Human Rights. The latter advocates, inter alia, the development of ‘friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples’ and ‘international cooperation in solving international problems of an economic, social, cultural or humanitarian character’. These are the principles which should govern international relations. This report sets out an approach based on intervention in the internal affairs of countries. Sanctions are one of the instruments of this approach. Moreover, the explicit encouragement of support for parties that are in conflict, with a view to regime change or to shifts in political power in certain countries, constitutes unacceptable interference, which invariably includes undisguised ambitions to satisfy economic and/or political interests. As we have already stated on several occasions, changes in the political power of a country should result from its people exercising their sovereign will, not from foreign impositions.
Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D), in writing. – (SK) Sanctions or restrictive measures are regarded as coercive measures short of force, such as arms embargoes, trade sanctions, financial and economic sanctions, freezing of assets, flight bans, restrictions on admission, diplomatic sanctions, boycotts of sports and cultural events and suspension of cooperation with a third country. The application of sanctions and restrictive measures is effective only if it forms part of a cohesive overarching EU and Member State strategy on human rights.
However, the EU has often applied its sanctions policy inconsistently by treating third countries with similar human rights and democratic records differently, and such actions have prompted criticism for applying double standards. I therefore firmly believe that it is necessary to develop clear criteria for when restrictive measures are to be applied, the objectives for such measures, the form of sanctions to be applied, guidelines for their periodic evaluation and the review procedure to be followed in consultation with the European Parliament. We should establish the criteria in a way that enhances the consistency and credibility of EU sanctions, but leaves sufficient flexibility at the operational level, enabling the Union to leverage the instrument as an effective tool in its external action.
Nathalie Griesbeck (ALDE), in writing. – (FR) I voted in favour of this proposal for a recommendation on a consistent policy towards authoritarian regimes against which the EU applies restrictive measures, when their leaders exercise their personal and commercial interests within EU borders. Following the Arab revolutions and the revelations concerning a series of investments by Europe in these totalitarian regimes and investments by these regimes in Europe, it is now essential for the EU to condemn these practices, in accordance with its fundamental principles of democracy and the rule of law. That is the aim of this proposal for a recommendation, which underlines the importance of an effective, coherent, unanimous and unequivocal sanctions policy against totalitarian regimes. Another key element of this proposal is that it underlines the importance of ensuring that foreign aid for development does not end up being an incentive for the enrichment of authoritarian leaders and their inner circles.
Ian Hudghton (Verts/ALE), in writing. – I voted in favour of Mr Watson’s report. The EU sets high standards amongst its own membership in terms of justice and human rights. It is only right that we are consistent in our approach when dealing with third countries and this report addresses many of the key issues.
Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. – (LT) For many authoritarian leaders, and persons associated with them, the European Union represents an attractive source of investment, property, banking and health care services, as well as an area in which they enjoy the freedom to travel and to spend their often dubiously acquired wealth. I welcomed this document because decisions on sanctions by the EU should only be taken following a thorough evaluation of the most effective way of achieving democratic change in the country concerned, and each decision should be duly substantiated. Sanctions themselves should only be deployed to influence the accountable elites of repressive or criminal regimes and the responsible non-state actors of failed states, and should ensure that restrictive measures and sanctions are targeted and proportionate to the objective pursued, limiting as far as possible any adverse impact on civil populations, especially the most vulnerable. Collaboration and synergy amongst the 27 EU Member States therefore needs to be improved in this area, and we must speak with a single and coherent voice.
Philippe Juvin (PPE), in writing. – (FR) The European Union is used by several authoritarian leaders as a source of property and banking services, a safe haven for their personal wealth. It is important to note that the EU does not apply any consistent restrictive measures in this area. This draft report underlines the need to establish transparent European sanctions.
Jarosław Kalinowski (PPE), in writing. – (PL) Democracy, the rule of law, freedom and human rights are just some of the fundamental values of the European Union. Therefore, it must be one of our core obligations to respect and promote these values both within as well as outside EU borders. This, however, is not an easy task, especially when dealing with countries that marginalise or violate these values which are so precious to us.
The EU cannot remain a passive observer when these basic rights are being breached by authoritarian regimes. Therefore, we have to develop a strong common foreign policy that is capable of providing rational political analysis, engaging in skilled negotiation and, when needed, using coercive measures short of force. The EU must not remain indifferent when human rights are being violated brutally, when human life or peace is put at risk. If our values are to be properly safeguarded and if we are to be active defendants of victimised nations and national minorities, then, in some cases, it is necessary to apply restrictive measures. These measures, however, will only be effective as part of a coherent EU policy, in which all the Member States participate unfailingly.
Tunne Kelam (PPE), in writing. – I voted in favour of this report. It has been long due to bring out the main weakness of the EU’s foreign policy and especially the human rights policy. It is absolutely regrettable that the EU is giving in on main values and principles, such as democracy, human rights and the rule of law with excuses of being interdependent with certain authoritarian countries. Consistent sanctioning of authoritarian regimes and their main actors is one of the most efficient ways to provoke a change. I very much welcome this report, which calls for clear indicators and measures in defining the situation and dealing with authoritarian regimes. I call upon the Council and the Commission to implement and mainstream these suggestions without delay to the EU’s foreign policy, especially to trade policy with third countries. How can the EU be interdependent with a country like Russia which is delivering weapons to Syria that will be used to kill civilians and which is supplying materials to Iran for its nuclear plans that the EU is now sanctioning? We need consistency and clear rules and we need them now!
Petru Constantin Luhan (PPE), in writing. – (RO) We read articles in the press about fabulous amounts of assets belonging to certain political leaders. For example, the personal assets belonging to Hosni Mubarak and his family are estimated to vary between USD 50 and 70 billion, with the majority of these sums being invested in the EU and US. Similarly, Kim Jong-il has roughly USD 4 billion in European banks. The last example is Omar al-Bashir, President of Sudan, who is suspected of siphoning off USD 9 billion from the oil boom his country has enjoyed and depositing much of it in British banks. This is precisely why EU Member States need to strictly enforce the travel bans imposed on sanctioned persons, preventing them from travelling within the EU for any purpose other than humanitarian. It is equally important that EU Member States investigate and, where appropriate, prosecute persons or legal entities in Europe that have assisted sanctioned leaders and persons associated with them to evade or avoid the sanctions legally imposed on them.
David Martin (S&D), in writing. – It is estimated that within the last two decades, USD 150 billion has left the countries of North Africa (Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia) and that, in Egypt, Hosni Mubarak and his family were estimated to have a personal fortune of between USD 50 billion and USD 70 billion, predominantly invested in the EU and US. This report (which I welcome) calls for the EU to deepen and strengthen its array of restrictive measures against recognised authoritarian regimes by targeting their personal and commercial actions within the EU in order to deny authoritarian leaders and their prime associates the right to own property or hold money in EU countries, to prevent authoritarian leaders and their prime associates from educating their families in EU countries, to prevent authoritarian leaders and their prime associates from travelling within the EU, and to prohibit authoritarian leaders and their prime associates from operating business interests within the EU.
Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. – I am confident that the EU should restrict totalitarian regimes not only with sanctions, but limit also the application and use of the financial means of these regimes! It is known that in Egypt, Hosni Mubarak and his family were estimated to have a personal fortune of between USD 50 billion and USD 70 billion, predominantly invested in the EU and US; the Director of the London School of Economics resigned over revelations that the LSE has been involved in a deal worth GBP 2.2 million to train Libyan civil servants; that a further GBP 20 000 was paid to the LSE for tuition for the Prime Minister of Libya, Mr Al-Mahmudi, who was named in the UNSC Resolution 1970 for, amongst other things, the gross and systematic violation of human rights, including the repression of peaceful demonstrators; it is estimated that the Gaddafi regime holds billions in assets across the EU, especially in the UK (private property); Kim Jong-il keeps approximately USD 4 billion in European banks; Omar al-Bashir, the Sudanese President, is suspected of siphoning off USD 9 billion from his country’s oil boom and depositing much of it in British banks. I voted in favour.
Mario Mauro (PPE), in writing. – (IT) As rightly recalled in the report, ‘the Union’s actions shall be guided by ‘democracy, the rule of law, the universality and indivisibility of human rights and fundamental freedoms, respect for human dignity, the principles of equality and solidarity and respect for the principles of the United Nations Charter and international law’.’ The EU institutions have an obligation to be consistent with our Treaty and we must not close our eyes any longer to the violations perpetrated by the world’s authoritarian regimes; this is why the sanctions policy must be a tool capable of tangibly influencing the governments of these countries. I voted in favour.
Jean-Luc Mélenchon (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (FR) This report asks for the assets of tyrants and their accomplices to be frozen and distributed among the populations. It calls for a clear definition of the sanctions and the conditions under which they can be lifted. It reminds the Member States of their duty to apply the principle of universal jurisdiction. I support all of these proposals.
I am sorry, however, that it does not mention anywhere that sanctions that could affect the populations must be avoided at all costs. Above all, I denounce the hypocrisy of this report. It states that it wants to combat ‘double standards’ in European sanctions. However, no sanctions have ever been announced against the Porfirio Lobo regime in Honduras. As highlighted in the report, most of the people in this House are more worried about ensuring that the sanctions do not harm the commercial interests of European businesses. This is hypocritical. I cannot put my name to such a text.
Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. – (PT) The new Article 21 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU), as introduced by Article 1(24) of the Treaty of Lisbon, recognises that the Union’s actions are guided by ‘democracy, the rule of law, the universality and indivisibility of human rights and fundamental freedoms, respect for human dignity, the principles of equality and solidarity and respect for the principles of the United Nations Charter and international law’. Sanctions are applied pursuant to the Common Foreign and Security Policy objectives, as set out in Article 21 of the TEU, which include promoting international peace and security, fostering respect for human rights, fundamental freedoms and the rule of law, and consolidating democracy and good governance. However, the application of sanctions or restrictive measures is only effective if it forms part of a consistent and comprehensive human rights strategy for the EU and its Member States. It is therefore necessary that the interests of individual Member States have no bearing on the imposition of sanctions on countries not promoting peace and security, fostering respect for human rights, fundamental freedoms and the rule of law, or consolidating democracy and good governance.
Radvilė Morkūnaitė-Mikulėnienė (PPE), in writing. – (LT) The EU must strengthen the effectiveness and consistency of restrictive measures and sanctions towards authoritarian regimes, while maintaining flexibility. We must ensure that the impact of such measures on ordinary citizens is minimised. To that end, we need to have common criteria and standards for the introduction and abolition of sanctions. A full contribution by both the countries of the European Economic Area and those countries seeking EU membership will increase the effectiveness of restrictive measures. The imposition of sanctions should also be mandatory for all, both third-country persons and entities operating in the EU market, and citizens and economic entities of EU Member States operating outside the EU. I believe that the immediate publication of all these cases would have a massive preventative effect, deterring the representatives of authoritarian and criminal regimes from accessing the European Union market, financial institutions and structures.
Rolandas Paksas (EFD), in writing. – (LT) I voted in favour of this resolution because the EU must pursue a consistent policy towards regimes against which it imposes restrictive measures. Above all, it is very important to ensure that every decision taken by the EU is duly substantiated. We also need to set out clear and precise criteria for the application of restrictive measures and establish an effective sanctions policy. Each restrictive measure and sanction must be imposed in a targeted and proportionate manner, following a thorough analysis of the structural, social and economic situation of the country concerned. It should be noted that a consistent policy towards authoritarian regimes must be pursued not just outside the EU, but also on the territory of the EU itself. The Member States have a special role to play in this respect and must ensure that restrictive measures are implemented effectively against the leaders of authoritarian regimes when they exercise their personal and commercial interests within the EU.
Alfredo Pallone (PPE), in writing. – (IT) It is crucial for the protection of the human rights for which we speak up, to have a consistent European policy towards representatives of non-European totalitarian regimes. Equally, it must cover the assets and interests held by those political leaders within the EU. From the freezing of the assets of the former Libyan leader, Muammar Gaddafi, to those of the former presidents of Tunisia and Egypt, the EU must adopt proportional and equivalent restrictive measures in respect of every dictatorial regime. This is why I believe it is important to urge the Council to apply such restrictive measures whenever the need arises.
Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. – (PT) On the basis of an own-initiative report, on 2 February 2012, Parliament voted for a proposal for a European Parliament recommendation to the Council on a consistent policy towards regimes against which the EU applies restrictive measures when their leaders exercise their personal and commercial interests within EU borders. The purpose of these measures is to prevent capital flight from such countries. It is estimated that in the last two decades, approximately USD 150 billion has left certain countries in North Africa, namely Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia, as a result of the actions of authoritarian leaders and their circles of associates, while restrictive measures were already in place on the part of the European institutions. In order to achieve the desired consistency, financial sanctions or restrictive measures need to be rigorously applied to these countries by all of the Member States.
Fiorello Provera (EFD), in writing. – (IT) I agree with and support the conclusions in Mr Watson’s report. The EU is now the world’s biggest market and the largest donor of development aid. It represents a unique opportunity for promoting human rights and respect for the rules of peaceful coexistence of the community of Member States. Unfortunately, thus far, the cumbersome red tape surrounding the EU’s restrictive measures against regimes that do not respect international law, and the failure of such measures to feed into one another, have meant that they have not always had the desired effect as deterrents and sanctions. It is unjust that sometimes, peoples that are already oppressed or European companies and citizens should have suffered the consequences of sanctions, while the corrupt, violent local elites have managed to evade them. In the same way, it is equally unjust that third countries take and have taken advantage of European respect for the rule of law and fundamental rights. I therefore join Mr Watson in calling for the Council to adopt, as soon as possible, clear rules – to be applied uniformly and subject to periodic review – that will enable the restrictive measures to be more effective.
Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. – (PT) The European Union is founded on the principle of human dignity, and its action includes support for political regimes based on citizen representation and respect for fundamental human rights. A natural corollary of this is the need to reject authoritarian regimes which, instead of pursuing the common good of the people that they represent, are predisposed to satisfy the personal interests of the holders of posts in public bodies. In this context, it is appropriate that any measures adopted by the EU clearly identify which individuals are subject to sanctions, on the one hand, and when sanctions should be applied, on the other, so that measures adopted will be targeted at the subjects to be sanctioned, in order to prevent the people of the country from being affected, wherever possible. Any guidelines established should also be adopted by all of the Member States, in order to ensure an effective foreign policy. Moreover, and this is a key point in the report, they should take advantage of the possibility that a large proportion of the personal assets of leaders subjected to the sanctions will be within EU borders, opening the door to more effective action by the EU. Since that is the argument of this recommendation, I voted in favour.
Crescenzio Rivellini (PPE), in writing. – (IT) I congratulate Mr Watson on his work. Having regard to the United Nations human rights conventions and Article 21 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU), the text we have approved is intended to be an explicit request by Parliament to the Council to abide by a consistent line of conduct towards all regimes to which the EU applies restrictive measures. The requests to develop clearer criteria for when restrictive measures are to be applied and to build a unified and consistent sanctions policy are absolute priorities, especially during this tricky international period. It will also be essential to strengthen restrictive measures against recognised authoritarian regimes by seeking to minimise their relations with the European Union.
Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – In favour. Some examples of authoritarian leaders, and their circles, with assets within the EU: (1) it is estimated that within the last 2 decades, USD 150 billion has left the countries in North Africa (Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia); (2) in Egypt, Hosni Mubarak and his family were estimated to have a personal fortune of between USD 50 billion and USD 70 billion, invested mainly in the EU and the US; (3) the Director of the London School of Economics resigned over revelations that the LSE had been involved in a deal worth GBP 2.2 million to train Libyan civil servants; (4) and that a further GBP 20 000 was paid to the LSE for tuition for the Prime Minister of Libya, Mr Al-Mahmudi, who was named in UNSC Resolution 1970 for, amongst other things, gross and systematic violation of human rights, including the repression of peaceful demonstrators; (5) the Gaddafi regime is estimated to hold billions in assets across the EU, especially in the UK (private property); (6) Kim Jong-il keeps approximately USD 4 billion in European banks; (7) Omar al-Bashir, the Sudanese President, is suspected of siphoning off USD 9 billion from his country’s oil boom and depositing much of it in British banks.
Nikolaos Salavrakos (EFD), in writing. – (EL) I voted in favour of Parliament’s motion for a resolution because I believe that the EU should apply a strict policy towards demonstrably autocratic regimes and should not allow their leaders to make use of the facility which they have to put the wealth of their country in their own name. This will not only protect democracy and human rights in countries with autocratic leaders; it will also serve the interests of the EU, in the sense that autocratic leaders and their relatives and associates will not be permitted to develop business activities within the EU and thus be able to affect its policy.
Sergio Paolo Francesco Silvestris (PPE), in writing. – (IT) By means of this vote, we will help to develop clearer definitions in terms of the policies towards regimes against which the EU has applied restrictive measures. In the first place, we need to acknowledge that sanctions are not an end in themselves and when they are applied, they must be accompanied by clear and achievable benchmarks for the lifting of sanctions. Then it takes unity as regards decisions: we need to commit to maximising collaboration and synergy amongst the 27 EU Member States, urging them to speak with a unified and consistent voice on the matter of condemning authoritarian regimes through a single integrated approach. Sanctions which are not internationally coordinated can prove ineffective and counterproductive to their stated aims, can undermine the transparency, credibility and coherence of the European sanctions policy, and can reinforce the targeted regime or reduce the relative negotiation leeway and credibility of the EU and its Member States with the state in question.
Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. – (PT) EU external action should be based on its fundamental principles, as set out in Article 2 of the Treaty on European Union, and on a consistent, comprehensive and transparent political strategy when any form of sanctions are imposed, avoiding the duplication of criteria. The imposition of general or selective sanctions should be aimed at those responsible and should safeguard the vulnerable as far as possible. I therefore support the contents of this report, as it states that economic and financial sanctions applied to those in power and/or the natural and legal persons and/or entities concerned should also include all financial assets and property within EU borders. To this end, there is a need to set out clear criteria for applying sanctions and coordinating them among the Member States, in order to evaluate the assets of individuals who appear on the sanctions list, so that these assets may be confiscated. Moreover, I believe that it is vital that Parliament be kept informed from the beginning and throughout the process of imposing sanctions.
Silvia-Adriana Ţicău (S&D), in writing. – (RO) I voted for the recommendation to the Council on a consistent policy towards regimes against which the EU applies restrictive measures, when their leaders exercise their personal and commercial interests within EU borders.
According to Article 21 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU), ‘The Union’s action on the international scene shall be guided by the principles which have inspired its own creation, development and enlargement, and which it seeks to advance in the wider world: democracy, the rule of law, the universality and indivisibility of human rights and fundamental freedoms, respect for human dignity, the principles of equality and solidarity, and respect for the principles of the United Nations Charter and international law’. The regimes against which the EU applies restrictive measures, when their leaders exercise their personal and commercial interests within EU borders, are regimes that violate human rights, fundamental freedoms, the rule of law and principles of good governance. The purpose of these restrictive measures is to promote peace and security globally and the principles of Article 21 of the TEU. Furthermore, the measures implemented must not have an adverse impact on the general public, especially on the most vulnerable groups among them. I think that it is important that the EU acts in a united, coherent manner in order to make these measures more effective and enhance the EU’s credibility globally.
Viktor Uspaskich (ALDE), in writing. – (LT) The EU must learn from its mistakes. There have been many examples – some of which are mentioned in this report – where the leaders of ruthless dictatorships have increased their wealth with the help of other EU Member States. Even more shocking is the fact that all of this went on very openly and for a long time. Gaddafi’s regime, for instance, was estimated to have assets worth billions throughout the EU, particularly private property in the United Kingdom. The fortune of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and his family amounted to almost USD 70 million, mostly invested in the EU and USA. As a minimum, we urgently need to tighten restrictive measures against recognised authoritarian regimes, directing such measures against their personal and commercial activities within the EU. I welcome the basic idea behind the report that we need to have a consistent policy towards authoritarian regimes. However, we must seek more. We also need a consistent policy towards those Member States that violate the rules. Last week, Human Rights Watch published a report which condemned the EU and its Member States for demonstrating an unwillingness to combat human rights violations within the EU, despite the fact that the EU itself spoke of the importance of human rights and freedoms during the Arab Spring.
Geoffrey Van Orden (ECR), in writing. – I have long been at the forefront of ensuring that the EU maintains restrictive measures in place against key members of the Mugabe regime in Zimbabwe and am happy that the Parliament has recognised the important role that restrictive measures can play in bringing about democratic change in repressive regimes.
It is important that the EU and its Member States work together with the other democracies in order to ensure maximum effectiveness of these measures. Equally, the EU must become better at explaining that restrictive measures are not sanctions against the population of countries with autocratic rulers, but specific measures which only target those individuals and businesses that have directly benefited from their association with these autocratic regimes. I voted in favour of this report.
Dominique Vlasto (PPE), in writing. – (FR) I voted in favour of this report as it clarifies the EU’s position on the sanctions applied against authoritarian regimes. Europe defends the universal values that it promotes and for which it must ensure respect. In that regard, it must set an example and impose sanctions on those who violate human rights and fundamental freedoms. Any EU sanctions regime must respect the principles of legality and proportionality and avoid penalising the populations of the countries concerned. Otherwise, the cure would be worse than the disease. We must not lose sight of the fact that the aim of these sanctions is to force authoritarian leaders to initiate democratic change, stop oppressing their people and restore the rule of law. I am also in favour of strengthening coordination on an international level. Indeed, the high number of parties involved requires exemplary cooperation in order to implement the relevant instruments. An absence of coordinated multilateral action would result in less effective sanctions. Finally, I believe that it is essential, for the credibility of our foreign policy, to find a balance between coercive diplomacy and permanent dialogue with the regimes in question.
Angelika Werthmann (NI), in writing. – (DE) The EU’s policy of sanctions against authoritarian regimes is only credible if the Member States speak with one voice and if clear criteria exist, indicating when restrictive measures, such as the freezing of assets, are necessary. Authoritarian leaders and their partners should not be allowed to own property within the EU, to invest money or to receive training from European educational establishments. For this reason, I voted in favour.
Inês Zuber (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (PT) The imposition of sanctions is a unilateral decision, and thus contravenes the principle of resolving conflict through dialogue. Imposing sanctions means getting rid of a space that could and should be used for dialogue, negotiation and diplomatic mediation. We do not accept acts of direct intervention and intrusion in the internal affairs of countries by supporting one of the sides in a conflict, which often goes hand-in-hand with sanctions. Recently, there have been several unfortunate cases in which foreign powers have directly interfered in political change in a country through various forms of support for one of the sides in a conflict, and it is obvious that this was not done in a ‘disinterested’ way. It is sovereign peoples that should decide their own destinies and futures, without being subjected to pressure and interference from foreign powers. The unilateral decision to apply sanctions takes this approach by failing to respect the sovereignty of peoples. Instead, what is needed is total compliance with international law, the United Nations Charter and the principles contained therein.
Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. – (PT) I am voting in favour. There is obviously a key issue for consideration in these processes of transferring head offices of companies from one Member State to another: the need to involve employees in decisions on this matter and, to that end, to seek to improve their participation in the governing bodies of the companies. Consideration also needs to be given to the use of fiscal dumping as a way of attracting companies to other Member States. We would argue that this is one of the crucial aspects which must be changed, as it is distorting the workings of the single market. As such, firm action is required and expected of the Commission, as soon as possible.
Laima Liucija Andrikienė (PPE), in writing. – I voted in favour of this resolution requesting the Commission to submit swiftly a proposal for a directive on the cross-border transfer of company seats. Currently, there is a lack of consistency in legislation on procedures for transferring the registered office or real head office of an existing company from one Member State to another within the single market. The transfer of company seats is often accompanied by administrative difficulties, high costs, social implications and the lack of legal certainty. We, Members of the European Parliament, agree that the process within the EU should be harmonised, the directive should apply to limited liability companies and allow companies to exercise their right of establishment by migrating to a host Member State without losing their legal personality. The transfer should not circumvent legal, social and fiscal conditions. Any company against which proceedings for winding-up, liquidation, insolvency or suspension of payments or other similar proceedings have been brought should not be allowed to undertake a cross-border transfer of seat. This legal harmonisation will strengthen competitiveness at EU level.
Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D), in writing. – (LT) Articles 49 and 54 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union guarantee freedom of establishment for all companies and firms. Cross-border company migration and the opportunity to transfer company seats to other Member States is one of the crucial elements in the completion of a properly functioning internal market. Transferring companies to other Member States has hitherto involved administrative difficulties and a lack of legal certainty because legislation on the transfer of firms or companies is implemented inconsistently in the Member States. The majority of the participants in the public consultation published back in 2004 believed that the adoption of a company law directive on the cross-border transfer of company seats would be useful and would guarantee a harmonised regime throughout the Member States. I therefore welcome the European Parliament recommendation that the Commission should submit a proposal for a directive on the cross-border transfer of company seats.
Elena Băsescu (PPE), in writing. – (RO) I voted for this report because the European Union needs a harmonised regime governing the cross-border transfer of companies. A company’s freedom to transfer its seat is one of the key elements in achieving the internal market. It is important that the transfer does not affect the rights enjoyed by the parties involved in the process prior to the transfer. Respect for workers’ rights and protection against them being made redundant are vital. At the same time, appropriate protection should be given to minority shareholders who oppose the transfer. The transfer procedure must be transparent and take place in tax-neutral conditions. It is important to maintain the continuity of the company’s legal personality.
However, I should point out that the transfer should not circumvent the company’s legal, social and fiscal conditions.
Vilija Blinkevičiūtė (S&D), in writing. – (LT) I voted in favour of this report because with it, the European Parliament, exercising its newly acquired right of legislative initiative, which previously only belonged to the European Commission, requests that the latter submit a proposal for a directive on the cross-border transfer of company seats. The European Parliament has exercised this right because, in its opinion, the Commission’s inaction on this issue is a mistake as it is failing to remedy obstacles preventing companies from exercising one of the fundamental rights granted to them by the EU – freedom of establishment throughout the European Union. This opinion of the European Parliament is based on the results of several public consultations, as well as the conclusions of the European Court of Justice, that too many disparities still remain in the national legislation of the Member States applicable to company establishment, preventing the exercising of the freedom of establishment, and a harmonised regime should therefore be established throughout the EU. The harmonisation of such a legal regime applicable to company establishment throughout the EU would facilitate the removal of many administrative obstacles and a reduction in the social and tax costs of establishing a company in another Member State.
Sebastian Valentin Bodu (PPE), in writing. – (RO) At the moment, companies can only transfer their registered office either by winding up and creating a new legal entity in the host Member State, or by creating a new legal entity in the host Member State and subsequently merging both companies. The administrative difficulties must not be forgotten either, which incur costs and have a social impact by failing to offer legal certainty. For these reasons, I think that the recommendations included in this report are relevant, and I support them.
With regard to the interdependence between the registered office and place of business, this is not justified as the place of business cannot be transferred by transferring the registered office. Ultimately, companies are free to establish a separate place of business and registered office, depending on the level of taxation, labour-related costs, legislative predictability, the amount of red tape, the labour force’s qualifications and so on.
Philippe Boulland (PPE), in writing. – (FR) Parliament has set out its specific recommendations to the Commission in relation to a 14th company law directive on the cross-border transfer of company seats. On the one hand, we want to prevent the transfer of company seats from resulting in the liquidation of a company in its home country and, on the other, we want to ensure that the employees are not the victims of this transfer and do not lose any of their social rights. As rapporteur for the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs, my aim was to ensure that the transfer does not affect the rights of creditors, employees or shareholders. In my opinion, the social aspects of the transfer are crucial. We must ensure that the employees are involved in the company seat transfer process: they must be consulted, informed and, if necessary, have access to legal remedies, with suspensive effect. Employees should no longer be the victims of company seat transfers but should instead be able to benefit from them, regardless of whether the companies involved are large or small. That is the only way in which we will be able to encourage our companies to be more mobile, in order to respond to competition, while combating social dumping.
Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. – (PT) The legislative proposal tabled by the Commission on this issue is crucial. European legislation on transfers and procedures for transferring registered or real head offices from one Member State to another should be harmonised. Within the single market, it is important to ensure the mobility of firms, and reduce high administrative, social and fiscal costs, always seeking to apply tax neutrality to cross-border transfers of a head office. In view of this, and given that it is based on full respect for the principle of subsidiarity, I am voting for the rapporteur’s conclusions.
José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. – (PT) Despite the rights enshrined in the EU Treaties and regulations, the full functioning of the single market – one of the main purposes of the EU – still has many obstacles to overcome. This report, drafted by Ms Regner, concerns Parliament’s recommendations to the Commission to proceed with the 14th Company Law Directive, which has already been enshrined in EU regulations, regarding companies transferring their registered office from one Member State to another. Provided that workers’ rights are safeguarded, it is vital that companies be able to transfer their registered office, as this will save time and money. However, legal uncertainties and bureaucracy, which differs from one Member State to the next, have been preventing its implementation. Moreover, legislation should prevent situations of abuse and opportunism, such as the establishment of companies reduced to a mere e-mail inbox. This is not the first time that Parliament has pressured the Commission to table a proposal in this area. I voted for this report because I consider this a measure which will benefit the European economy, in particular, small and medium-sized enterprises, making them more globally competitive.
João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (PT) This report states that ‘cross-border company migration is one of the crucial elements in the completion of the internal market’ and that, at the level of jobs, transfers of registered offices should be guided by the principle of flexicurity, with a view to a more flexible market. This is further proof that the majority in this House are seeking to deepen the neoliberalism that has led to the current financial, economic and social crisis in the EU. The majority in this House are keen to leave the free movement of capital and tax and offshore havens untouched, although they have directly caused the exacerbation of the grave situation that we are experiencing at present. Those from Portugal will easily recall the case of Jerónimo Martins SGPS, SA, which relocated its personal and family holdings to the Netherlands in order to pay less tax. The solutions put forward by the majority in this House will only bring about more unemployment, injustice and social disaster for workers and citizens. We therefore voted against.
Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D), in writing. – (SK) Articles 49 and 54 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union guarantee freedom of establishment for all companies and firms. Cross-border company migration is one of the crucial elements in the completion of the internal market. The lack of consistency in legislation concerning transfers and procedures for transferring the registered office or actual seat of an existing company or firm incorporated under national law from one Member State to another, within the single market, and the associated risks in terms of employment, as well as the administrative difficulties, the costs generated, the social implications and the lack of legal certainty, should be noted.
Company mobility still encounters high administrative burdens as well as social and tax costs. Transfers of seats should maintain the continuity of the legal personality of the company or firm concerned, in order to ensure its proper functioning. The transfer should not affect the rights of stakeholders. The transfer procedure should be governed by strict rules as regards transparency and the provision of information to stakeholders prior to the transfer being carried out. I also believe that when the seat of a company is being transferred, it is important to ensure the coherence of the employee involvement procedures between the different legislative provisions contained in the company law directives.
Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. – (LT) On 2 February 2012, I welcomed this document because company mobility still encounters high administrative burdens as well as social and tax costs. There is therefore a need to establish relevant measures to implement the freedom of a company to transfer its seat. The Commission must submit a proposal for a directive on the cross-border transfer of company seats, bearing in mind that all companies and firms must be guaranteed freedom of establishment. Transfers of seat should maintain the continuity of the legal personality of the company or firm concerned and thus ensure its proper functioning. The transfer should not affect the rights of stakeholders (minority shareholders, employees and creditors) originating before the transfer. There is a need for legal certainty and compliance with all legal, social and fiscal conditions. It should also be noted that cross-border company migration is one of the crucial elements in the creation of the internal market.
Philippe Juvin (PPE), in writing. – (FR) I voted in favour of this own-initiative report concerning company law on the cross-border transfer of company seats because there is a real lack of legislative coherence in this area at present. A number of obstacles remain, including administrative difficulties, high financial costs and a lack of legal certainty. This report draws the European Commission’s attention to this issue and asks it to present a legislative proposal aimed at solving the problems highlighted.
David Martin (S&D), in writing. – The management or board of a company planning a transfer should be required to draw up a report and a transfer plan. Before the management decides on the report and the transfer plan, the representatives of the employees or, if there are no representatives, the employees themselves, should be informed and consulted on the proposed transfer within the meaning of Article 4 of Directive 2002/14/EC(2). The report should be submitted to the shareholders and to the representatives of the employees or, if there are no representatives, to the employees themselves. The report should describe and justify the economic, legal and social aspects of the transfer and explain its consequences for the shareholders, creditors and employees, who may examine the report during a specified period which may be not less than one month or more than three months prior to the date of the meeting of shareholders approving the transfer.
Iosif Matula (PPE), in writing. – (RO) The cross-border transfer of company seats to states outside the European Union poses a problem which has an impact on the labour market, especially as the EU’s concern during this period is to increase the workforce’s level of employment. There are 23 million unemployed at the moment across the European Union, including 5 139 000 young people under the age of 24, which is a cause for concern for all European states. To counter the impact of this problem on the labour market, I think that the public and private sectors need to be administered efficiently, with a dynamic partnership between both sectors, thereby providing an environment that is conducive to investment and ensures better use of the Structural and Cohesion Funds.
The freedom of cross-border company migration enshrined in the EU Treaty is a basic feature of the functioning of the internal market. In light of this, I think that the free movement of workers within the EU has a key role to play, making a significant contribution to narrowing the current disparities between regions.
The ambitious objectives for reducing youth unemployment and supporting economic growth, presented by the Commission as part of the informal Council meeting at the start of the month, may be achieved by increasing company and worker mobility within the EU.
Mario Mauro (PPE), in writing. – (IT) I voted in favour of Ms Regner’s report. I find the request appropriate to submit, on the basis of Article 50(1) and (2)(g) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, a proposal for a directive on the cross-border transfer of company seats. First and foremost, the directive needs to clarify the question of separation between the registered office and the administrative seat of a company.
Jean-Luc Mélenchon (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (FR) This report aims primarily to promote fiscal competition among the Member States. It even seeks to prevent the Member States from taxing companies that relocate. What is worse, it does not spare a thought for the employees left high and dry by these relocations. I voted against.
Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. – (PT) Articles 49 and 54 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union guarantee freedom of establishment for all companies and firms. We are all aware that cross-border company migration is one of the crucial elements of completing the internal market. In the same way, the lack of consistency in legislation on transfers and on procedures for transferring the registered or real head office of an existing company or firm incorporated under national law from one Member State to another, within the single market, and the associated risks in terms of employment, as well as the administrative difficulties, the costs generated, the social implications and the lack of legal certainty, set back the complete realisation of an internal market that can become increasingly effective. It is therefore very important that the Member States harmonise their legislation on this matter.
Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. – It is not clear why it is necessary to make it easy for companies to change their seats, to include workers in decision making. I abstained.
Andreas Mölzer (NI), in writing. – (DE) Transferring a company’s seat from one Member State to another involves bureaucratic red tape, a lack of clarity on legal issues and considerable costs. Naturally, there are also social implications for the employees. Although the European Court of Justice has concluded that the regulations need better coordination, this is still a matter for the legislator. The prime aim here is to prevent the misuse of post-box offices and shell companies in bypassing legal, social and tax-related conditions. The Court of Justice itself has not always come down on the side of the employees in the past, most recently in its judgment on successive employment contracts. With this in mind, I was not able to vote in favour of the proposed amendments.
Rolandas Paksas (EFD), in writing. – (LT) I welcome this resolution because it will create more favourable conditions for limited liability companies to exercise their right to establishment and to migrate to a host Member State without losing their legal personality. Companies will therefore be able to be converted according to the law of the host Member State without being wound up, and proper conditions for their functioning will also be guaranteed. Furthermore, when transferring companies from one Member State to another, due regard will be given to the interests of workers, the rights of workers will be respected and workers themselves will be protected against dismissal. Given the benefits of this directive, I believe that it is appropriate to require the Commission to submit a proposal for a directive on the cross-border transfer of company seats as a matter of urgency, because cross-border company migration is one of the crucial elements in the completion of an effectively functioning internal market.
Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. – (PT) This report tables proposals for the Commission on the 14th Company Law Directive, on the cross-border transfer of head offices. Parliament has made seven recommendations, of which I would highlight the one relating to the employees’ rights, which states, in particular, that employees’ participation rights should be preserved through the transfer and that their participation should be governed by the legislation of the host Member State. In our view, it is positive that this will prevent transfers motivated by reducing labour costs.
Miguel Portas (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (PT) The purpose of this own-initiative report is to lay the foundations for greater harmonisation of tax laws within the EU in future, as this is a way of combating the attempted tax fraud that we have seen in recent times. This document is intended to ensure that the cross-border transfer of registered offices will not affect the rights of stakeholders, such as minority shareholders, employees and creditors, dating from before the transfer. This means that companies cannot escape their obligations in cases of insolvency or similar processes. That is why I voted in favour.
Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. – (PT) Economic activity, all the way from the producer to the final consumer, is based on a system of exchanges between trading companies. As the EU area is based on recognition of the freedom to establish companies, company law must constitute a priority subject for regulation, since a number of barriers to the smooth workings of the internal market could be raised in this area. In view of this, Parliament is recommending that the Commission table a 14th Company Law Directive, on the cross-border transfer of registered offices. Within this framework, it will have to consider the interests of shareholders, who should not see their pre-transfer rights set back by the relocation of the registered office, the interests of the company itself, and finally the interests of the employees and all those involved with the company. Moreover, the need for this step was confirmed by the Court of Justice in the Cartesio case. I therefore voted in favour.
Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – In favour. This calls on the Commission to submit, on the basis of Article 50(1) and (2)(g) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, a proposal for a directive on the cross-border transfer of company seats, following the recommendation set out in the Annex.
Sergio Paolo Francesco Silvestris (PPE), in writing. – (IT) The transfer abroad of a company seat, from the viewpoint of professional practice, is something that has recently been attracting more and more interest including, but not only, because it coincides with the growing phenomenon of the relocation of firms as a strategic lever for managing the current economic crisis. Locating production in markets that offer very competitive supplies, in terms of raw materials but, above all, of labour, or that have less onerous tax systems, is nowadays one of the main solutions implemented by firms to deal with globalised markets where competition with emerging economies is increasingly strong. The continuity of the legal personality of the transferred company, its recognition in the destination Member State and in the home Member State, as well as the legislation applicable to the company undergoing transfer, are, however, all issues that come under the legal systems of the countries involved in the transfer and, in particular, the type of connection with and recognition of the companies that Member States choose to adopt. My vote in favour of the text this morning is therefore aimed at seeking a measure capable of bringing the different laws of our Member States closer together.
József Szájer (PPE), in writing. – (HU) The pressing need within the EU for a harmonised system applicable to the cross-border transfer of company seats is also confirmed by a 2008 judgment of the European Court of Justice, which was, in fact, delivered in a case concerning Hungary. By adopting the report, we are sending a clear message to the Commission, calling on it to set to work and submit a legislative proposal on the subject.
Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. – (PT) In this document, Parliament calls on the Commission to promptly table a draft directive on the cross-border transfer of the registered offices of companies, taking its recommendations into account, on the basis of Article 50(1) and (2)(g) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. Cross-border company migration is one of the crucial elements of completing the internal market. Moreover, the lack of consistency in legislation on transfers and on procedures for transferring the registered or real head office of an existing company or firm incorporated under national law from one Member State within the single market to another brings with it risks in terms of employment, as well as administrative difficulties, costs, social implications and a lack of legal certainty.
Silvia-Adriana Ţicău (S&D), in writing. – (RO) I voted for the European Parliament resolution with recommendations to the Commission on a new company law directive on the cross-border transfer of company seats because I think that it is important to remove the barriers encountered by companies when they would like to transfer their seats to another Member State.
The Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) guarantees freedom of establishment for all European companies. Parliament calls on the Commission to table, as a matter of urgency, based on Article 50(1) and (2)(g) of the TFEU, a proposal for a directive on the cross-border transfer of company seats. The directive should allow companies to exercise their right of establishment by migrating to a host Member State without losing their legal personality, but by being converted into a company governed by the host Member State’s legislation, without having to be wound up. The transfer should take effect on the date of registration in the host Member State. In order to protect third parties, registration in the host Member State and removal from the register in the home Member State should be publicised in an appropriate manner. Any company against which proceedings for winding-up, liquidation, insolvency, suspension of payments or other similar proceedings have been brought should not be allowed to undertake a cross-border transfer of seat.
Angelika Werthmann (NI), in writing. – (DE) A directive on the cross-border transfer of company seats is vital if freedom of establishment, one of the key principles of the internal market, is to have full effect. European businesses should be able to transfer their registered offices to another Member State without first needing to liquidate their assets. At the same time, we need guarantees that the standards and principles of employee participation enshrined in labour law will be upheld when a company transfers its seat.
Inês Zuber (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (PT) The much vaunted free movement of capital and tax and offshore havens – which remain untouchable – have contributed heavily to the financial, economic and social crisis that the world is experiencing. This report is further proof that the majority in this House wants these policies to remain untouchable, maintaining and seeking to strengthen the neoliberal line that has brought this situation upon us. This report is a further demonstration of this choice, and concerns a topic that is of particular relevance to the Portuguese people, who recently saw a major company, Jerónimo Martins SGPS, SA, relocate its personal and family holdings to the Netherlands, in order to avoid paying tax. It is unacceptable for Parliament to continue pointing to paths that will only bring about more unemployment, injustice and social disaster for workers and citizens. We therefore voted against the report.
Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. – (PT) I am voting for this report because it mentions relevant areas where the implementation of EU funds for supporting humanitarian aid should be controlled more closely. Like in other areas of expenditure, perhaps even more so in the current situation, the EU needs to be rigorous and to promote transparency, provided that this will not jeopardise the humanitarian objectives, under the umbrella of which the funds in question are being allocated. This is, I would stress, a point that is important and independent of the issues tackled in this report: the EU should press ahead with this fight for equality and seek to sustainably improve the living conditions of the poorest people, supporting them when their difficulties result from circumstantial or structural conditions.
Laima Liucija Andrikienė (PPE), in writing. – I voted in favour of this resolution, which outlines the efficiency and effectiveness of the ECHO control, monitoring and supervision system, in particular, when it comes to framework partnership agreement (FPA) partners or to international organisations (such as the UN). The EU (the Commission together with the Member States) is the world’s largest donor of humanitarian aid. The EU’s total contribution of aid, including the Member States, in 2010, was EUR 2 957 million. The average budget managed by DG ECHO for its humanitarian aid activities between 2006 and 2010 is EUR 889 million annually. In 2010, the budget was reinforced to EUR 1 115 million to respond to crisis and disasters (Haiti, Pakistan). We, Members of the European Parliament, agree that there is additional need for sustainability, coherence and complementarity of humanitarian actions.
Roberta Angelilli (PPE), in writing. – (IT) I voted in favour of Mr Ehrenhauser’s report, which stresses the need to ensure a high level of accountability and transparency in the framework partnership agreement (FPA) with NGOs, in respect of which I believe that the administrative burden for partners should be drastically reduced. Similarly, I am delighted to support the decision to increase the humanitarian aid budget for the period 2014-2020, as long as, given the crisis period, this aid is efficiently allocated and conscientiously managed. Lastly, I am deeply concerned that the Commission did not allow the Directorate General for Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection (DG ECHO) access to the partners’ final reports on the implementation of humanitarian actions in Haiti and Pakistan in 2010 and I would like to receive an explanation.
Pino Arlacchi (S&D), in writing. – I voted for this resolution because it points out the need for strengthening the efficiency and effectiveness of budgetary control over the EU humanitarian aid managed by DG ECHO. The text underlines the areas of weakness in control over the funds and proposes improvements to be made. We stress the importance of establishing a clear regulation with the scope to have a single integrated reporting model, which would simplify the complexity of the administrative procedures. In this regard, I also support the fact that ECHO is currently working on the development of a comparative cost information system in order to analyse the cost-effectiveness of project proposals. The awareness of project efficiency would finally allow ECHO to avoid investing in unfruitful projects.
Sophie Auconie (PPE), in writing. – (FR) We question the European Union’s management of the budget for humanitarian aid and the channelling of European aid by the United Nations. It is important today for us to be more effective in order to tackle the growing number of major natural disasters. Martin Ehrenhauser’s report received broad support because it responded to all of these issues. We need both to restore the balance of the parts of the budget allocated to preventing humanitarian disasters and to retain adequate financial leeway to enable us to intervene rapidly if a crisis arises. The new financial framework provides for an increase in the budget for the humanitarian aid instrument, which will help us to anticipate disasters. In addition, the new financing arrangements will allow unspent funds in the reserve to be carried over to the following year for urgent humanitarian needs. Finally, we call for particular care for children, as well as expectant mothers and mothers of young children, with regard to the provision of food, clothing, evacuation and transportation, and medical facilities with a view to preventing unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases, as priority areas under the existing financial mechanisms.
Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D), in writing. – (LT) Recently, the number, frequency, scope and severity of humanitarian disasters have increased dramatically across the globe, affecting more and more countries. In 2010 alone, there were two huge catastrophes in Haiti and Pakistan, which demonstrated that a certain lack of effectiveness and coordination is hindering efficient disaster response. Furthermore, there is a need to ensure appropriate control and transparency as regards the use of EU funds, and to increase the accountability of beneficiaries, stopping the misuse of allocated funds. I believe that it is important to take account of the recommendation made by the European Court of Auditors that we need to improve distribution and post-distribution monitoring and reach an agreement with the United Nations agencies that manage the distribution of humanitarian assistance together with the EU on reinforcing the audit work carried out and increasing the reliability of checks.
Regina Bastos (PPE), in writing. – (PT) The European Union is the world’s largest donor of humanitarian aid. The Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department of the European Commission is responsible for the implementation of EU humanitarian aid and its mandate encompasses humanitarian assistance and civil protection, the two main instruments at the EU’s disposal to ensure delivery of humanitarian assistance to the victims of disasters and prolonged conflicts. The current budgetary constraints resulting from the current economic, financial and social crisis highlight the significance of sound financial management based on the principles of economy, efficiency and effectiveness. This report, for which I voted, welcomes the enhanced flexibility and efficiency afforded by the framework partnership agreement (FPA), including a more result-oriented approach. It also calls on the Commission to improve the methods for, and practice of, assessing whether a potential partner qualifies for the FPA or not. It also urges the Commission to put greater emphasis on disaster risk reduction and disaster preparedness, to strengthen the resilience of the population at risk through capacity building, training and public awareness measures, and to establish efficient early warning systems.
Mara Bizzotto (EFD), in writing. – (IT) One of the advantages of this report is that it focuses Parliament’s attention on the management of the Commission’s humanitarian policy. Through the Directorate General for Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection, the Commission grants a level of humanitarian aid that makes the EU the world’s largest donor. The management of humanitarian funds has, for some time, involved a number of critical issues that Parliament and the European Court of Auditors have recognised and often brought to light. With this report, Parliament therefore calls on the Commission to act on a number of important measures to improve the management of humanitarian aid. As stressed by the rapporteur, it is essential to ensure that partners effectively follow up on the findings of audit procedures, and it is important to guarantee that UN reports, drawn up case by case, clearly contain information on the results of individual projects in the area covered by the financial intervention. It is also important to improve the methods for, and practice of, assessing potential partners in the context of framework partnership agreements and, lastly, to pay careful attention, from a strategic perspective, to the possibility that in some cases, humanitarian aid policy may have a negative effect, such as, for example, the chance that food aid might drive down the capacity for local production. I therefore voted in favour.
Vilija Blinkevičiūtė (S&D), in writing. – (LT) I voted in favour of this report because I agree that the delivery of European Union humanitarian assistance must be made more transparent and more efficient. Checks on the use of funds also have to be tightened where the EU delivers humanitarian assistance through joint management together with other partners – the United Nations and other international organisations. In cases of joint management of humanitarian projects, budget implementation and control are delegated to international organisations, and the European Commission only conducts field monitoring and verification missions. In the context of the discharge procedure, the European Court of Auditors and Parliament have frequently criticised the joint management method of international organisations. The criticism is due to the lack of coherence and rigidity, as well as the various sources of confusion stemming from the many added layers of legislation, which are a major cause of errors. Weaknesses in terms of control and follow-up of the use of EU funds have also been the subject of much criticism. This report therefore proposes replacing the joint management method with indirect management, and this would strengthen the responsibility in relation to the Commission of the parties managing the budget.
Sebastian Valentin Bodu (PPE), in writing. – (RO) It is well known that the European Union is the main donor of humanitarian aid in the world. This humanitarian aid is granted in the form of financial aid, goods, services and technical assistance. The purpose of this European policy is to intervene in emergencies when countries outside the EU are affected, regardless of whether they are affected by natural disasters or by other kinds of crises.
The EU’s total humanitarian aid contribution, including from Member States, was EUR 2.957 billion in 2010, with EU Member States providing 64% and the funds channelled through the Commission amounting to 36%. The Commission must ensure that the weaknesses identified during regular audits of the partners’ systems are promptly remedied by them. External auditors have to continue their efforts to improve the quality of their recommendations to partners, taking into account their specific structures so as to ensure that these recommendations are accepted and feasible.
To make the use of resources and measures more effective, I think that the EU budget must also support actions designed to anticipate, prepare for and avert disasters.
Jan Březina (PPE), in writing. – (CS) The European Union must strengthen its emergency response capacity, given the growing number of major natural disasters. In this context, I recall that Parliament has, for many years, been calling for a more realistic humanitarian aid budget in the interests of remedying the chronic underfunding of the relevant budget lines, making it possible to provide some financial leeway throughout the financial year, and maintaining a coherent balance between the financing of measures to prevent humanitarian disasters and of measures to ensure rapid responses to natural and man-made disasters. In this respect, I welcome the Commission communication on the 2014-2020 multiannual financial framework, which provides for an increase in the humanitarian aid instrument budget to EUR 6.4 billion over this period. That would amount to an annual average of EUR 915 million, as against EUR 813 million in 2007-2013. I also note with satisfaction the increase in the Emergency Aid Reserve for the same period, bringing it up to EUR 2.5 billion, as well as the proposal for unspent funds in the reserve to be carried over to the following year. The EU budget should support actions designed to anticipate disasters, prepare for them, avert them and react more quickly to them, as well as measures ensuring greater flexibility in launching development measures as a means of overcoming crisis situations.
Andrea Cozzolino (S&D), in writing. – (IT) The directive is certainly progressing towards better management of humanitarian funds, starting with improved transparency and more vigorous checks to prevent fraud and corruption. Above all, it is essential to take action to remedy the general character of the reports submitted, from which it is particularly difficult to obtain sufficient information on the results, output and outcome of projects.
Furthermore, I welcome the report’s strong emphasis on the need to create continuity between emergency interventions and development programmes. In particular, it might be worthwhile considering a period of cooperation between emergency bodies and development bodies by implementing some form of transfer of deliveries. It is only with difficulty that those who effectively manage emergencies then also prove ready to deal with the problems associated with development projects. It is vital to go beyond the current system which risks creating discontinuity, cancelling out or undermining the potential long-term results.
Lastly, the call for greater visibility for actions, not for ‘publicity’ purposes, but to enable better streamlining of interventions, is valuable and should be supported. This is why I voted in favour, and we must hope that account is taken of the recommendations contained in the report during the process of reform of the framework partnership agreement (FPA).
Corina Creţu (S&D), in writing. – (RO) The frequency and scale of humanitarian disasters have grown to an alarmingly high level recently. The earthquakes in Haiti and Japan, Cyclone Thane in India, flooding in Pakistan or drought in Somalia would be just some of the most serious examples of disasters, not to mention the humanitarian impact of the civil revolutions which have engulfed the whole world. An ever growing number of refugees need food, shelter and medical assistance. Millions of children are undernourished and, unfortunately, many of them, after receiving treatment, end up in the same situation due to a lack of food. Furthermore, the problems caused by natural disasters are exacerbated by the acts of violence which prevent humanitarian organisations from reaching those in need of help. In these circumstances, I join my colleagues in sounding an alarm bell with regard to making these programmes more efficient. I call on the Commission not only to improve the controls over and monitoring of the funds earmarked for humanitarian aid, but also to impose a bilateral audit and measurable impact indicators, in cooperation with its partners, as part of funding humanitarian programmes.
Mário David (PPE), in writing. – (PT) This own-initiative report on the budgetary control of EU humanitarian aid managed by the Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department of the European Commission (ECHO) proposes a series of measures widely supported in this House. The importance of this control is even more relevant when we take account of the fact that the EU – Commission and Member States – is the world’s largest donor of humanitarian aid: EUR 2.957 billion in 2010, with 64% from the Member States and 36% in funds channelled through the Commission, and that ECHO has 40 offices across the globe that award aid to around 200 organisations.
More efficiency and effectiveness, sustainability, consistency and complementarity of humanitarian aid actions: these are the major issues with which this report is concerned. Examples include the proposals that ‘cost observed for results’ methods be used when choosing partners, that EU responses to natural disasters be faster, and that evaluations and audits – involving the European Parliament more in their analysis – be continuous and systematic, so that it can be properly understood what has happened to aid sent to third countries, such as the Horn of Africa, Haiti or Pakistan.
Christine De Veyrac (PPE), in writing. – (FR) I voted in favour of this text, which assesses the budgetary management of the service entrusted with implementing the European Union’s humanitarian aid in Southern countries. In these times of crisis, it is doubly important to control spending and ensure that the allocated funds go to those who are most in need of them.
Martin Ehrenhauser (NI), in writing. – (HU) Year after year, the community formed by the European Commission and the Member States of the European Union has been providing the largest amounts of humanitarian aid worldwide. In 2010, this amount was EUR 2.957 billion, approximately one-third of which was used as European Commission aid.
The implementation of EU aid policy is the responsibility of the European Commission’s Directorate General for Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection (ECHO), which supplies aid to those in need through 200 partner organisations and specialised UN agencies, and with the help of NGOs.
Appropriate control by the competent bodies of the EU over the use of Community funds spent on aid is extremely important, and in this regard, the European Parliament has a special role. The report adopted unanimously by the Committee on Budgetary Control, in which the rapporteur provides a summary of the operation and efficiency of Community aid policy and, specifically, the accomplishments made in the crisis situations in Pakistan and Haiti, has my utmost support.
Edite Estrela (S&D), in writing. – (PT) I voted for the report on ‘budgetary control of EU humanitarian aid’ because it includes measures to make EU humanitarian aid more efficient and effective.
Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. – (PT) While it is gratifying to know that the European Union is the world’s largest donor, this same circumstance does not necessarily result in a desire for the aid provided to be put to proper use and reach those who really need it. There are, unfortunately, frequent reports of the improper use of funds by the authorities in recipient countries and even of their embezzlement, to the detriment of populations in need, which are often in a state of health and food emergency. One of the mechanisms undoubtedly available to the Union in evaluating how humanitarian aid is provided is budgetary control. The purpose of the measures proposed by the Commission is to make the humanitarian aid budget more transparent and make those who manage it more accountable. I hope they will bear fruit. I regret that, under the guise of this issue, the rapporteur has included the issue of abortion on demand in a way that is not only untimely, but which also disrespects the different positions of the Member States in this regard.
José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. – (PT) One of the principles that best characterises the EU is solidarity. Europeans are immediately ready to help communities in crisis situations, whether in Europe or on another continent. The own-initiative report under consideration, drafted by Mr Ehrenhauser, concerns the implementation of EU financial resources in humanitarian aid, taking into account the recommendations included in the report by the European Court of Auditors, specifically regarding control of funds transferred to NGOs. At times, there is so much bureaucracy involved in implementing many humanitarian aid programmes that the cost/benefit relationship in interventions is far from satisfactory. Moreover, there are major cost differences between comparable projects, which is unacceptable. As such, and without jeopardising the continuity of these programmes, there is a need to adopt measures that will contribute to making them more effective. I voted for this report, since the proposals it contains, in addition to being a clear investment in preventing new disasters, represent a move towards greater transparency in the allocation of funds and better evaluation of the results obtained.
João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (PT) The Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department of the European Commission (ECHO) is responsible for implementing EU humanitarian aid. Its mandate covers humanitarian aid and civil protection. In order to carry out its mandate, it awards funding to around 200 partners. The report makes criticisms that we deem to be fair of the current management of ECHO’s budget. It emphasises weaknesses in terms of control and follow-up of the use of EU funds. In order to change existing weaknesses in the control and management of ECHO’s budget, the rapporteur proposes a series of measures that will improve the humanitarian assistance situation in the EU. The most important of these measures is the need for increased control and accountability in the indirect management of EU funds, and for the EU to increase its capacity to respond to natural disasters; that is, a ‘more realistic’ approach to the budget, and ‘maintaining a coherent balance between the financing of measures to prevent humanitarian disasters and measures to ensure rapid responses to [...] disasters’.
Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D), in writing. – (SK) The number, frequency, scope and severity of humanitarian disasters have dramatically increased, affecting more parts of the world. The EU is the world’s largest donor of humanitarian aid. The EU’s total humanitarian aid contribution, including from the Member States, in 2010 was EUR 2.957 billion, with the EU Member States accounting for 64% and the funds channelled through the Commission amounting to 36%. ECHO is the Directorate General (DG) of the European Commission responsible for the implementation of EU humanitarian aid. DG ECHO’s mandate encompasses humanitarian assistance and civil protection, the two main instruments at the EU’s disposal to ensure delivery of humanitarian assistance to the victims of disasters and protracted conflicts. ECHO implements its mandate by funding about 200 partner organisations: NGOs, UN agencies, international organisations and specialised agencies of Member States.
I believe that it is important that the EU strengthens its reaction capacity, given the growing number of major natural disasters. Parliament has, for many years, been calling for a more realistic humanitarian budget in the interests of remedying the chronic underfunding of the relevant budget lines, and in order to provide some financial leeway throughout the financial year and maintain a coherent balance between the financing of measures to prevent humanitarian disasters and of measures to ensure rapid responses to natural and man-made disasters.
Lidia Joanna Geringer de Oedenberg (S&D), in writing. – The EU is the leading donor of humanitarian assistance. Of the total EUR 9.8 billion of humanitarian aid provided worldwide in 2010, 41% was delivered by the EU (accumulated by funds from the 27 Member States in addition to the Commission through DG ECHO). These funds allow the EU to show solidarity and provide immediate relief to regions hurt by natural and man-made disasters. The EU’s growing involvement and importance as a humanitarian aid provider is on the rise, and so are the requirements to ensure proper use of taxpayers’ money; thus, I welcome the current report, which reviews the budgetary control of EU humanitarian aid management by DG ECHO. Identifying areas of weakness in control over the funds and proposing points where improvements could be made is important for enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of humanitarian aid money. However, I also believe that the evaluation process should take account of the fact that most recipient countries do not have the proper means to provide a full account of how money was spent, especially in a time of emergency. Therefore, we must also show flexibility and adjust our budgetary control requirements to the existing capacities of the recipient countries, in order to ensure our money is properly spent.
Nathalie Griesbeck (ALDE), in writing. – (FR) I voted strongly in favour of this resolution, which criticises the management of the European Union’s humanitarian aid, in particular, the way in which EU funds are managed by the UN, and seeks to ensure that our humanitarian aid is entirely effective and controlled. The European Union is, in fact, the world’s largest donor of humanitarian aid, contributing EUR 2.957 billion in 2010. It plays a central role in helping the most disadvantaged people around the world. The way in which these funds are managed must be further improved. It is vital to monitor better the reliability of partner NGOs but also, and above all, the management of EU funds by the UN, whose reports contain insufficient information on the effectiveness of the programmes put in place. When it comes to humanitarian aid, transparency is a necessity on which we must not compromise. At stake is the very credibility of the European Union’s action to help those most in need.
Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. – (LT) I welcomed this document because the number, frequency, scope and severity of humanitarian disasters have increased dramatically, affecting more countries across the world. The EU’s leading role as a humanitarian actor worldwide and the increase in the number and frequency of interventions inside and outside the EU, as well as current budgetary constraints, highlight the significance of sound financial management based on the principles of economy, efficiency and effectiveness. The huge disasters in Haiti and Pakistan have demonstrated once again that the instruments at the EU’s disposal for responding to disasters need to be improved in terms of effectiveness, speed and coordination. It is crucial that the most vulnerable groups receive assistance in a timely manner and that it is effective.
Philippe Juvin (PPE), in writing. – (FR) I supported this report on the budgetary control of EU humanitarian aid managed by ECHO as it underlines the need to guarantee the efficiency and effectiveness of the ECHO control, monitoring and supervision system, and it stresses the importance of ensuring the sustainability and complementarity of humanitarian actions, learning from the experiences of the Haiti and Pakistan disasters in particular.
David Martin (S&D), in writing. – I welcome this report, which recognises the benefits of seeking new arrangements for the provision of funding by DG ECHO, together with its partners; calls, at the same time, for the diversity of the actors involved in financing and implementing the European humanitarian programmes – the United Nations, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, NGOs – to be borne in mind, given that disasters often transcend national borders and require multilateral, coordinated responses; and encourages the work being done to strengthen the capacities of local stakeholders and increase assessment and rapid response capabilities on the ground through DG ECHO’s offices as well as field experts.
Clemente Mastella (PPE), in writing. – (IT) The European Union must strengthen its reaction capacity, given the growing number of major natural disasters. We have, for years, been calling for a more realistic humanitarian budget in the interests of remedying the chronic underfunding of the relevant budget lines and providing a coherent balance between the financing of measures to prevent humanitarian disasters and measures to ensure rapid responses to natural and man-made disasters. We therefore recognise the benefits of seeking new arrangements for financing by the Directorate General for Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection (DG ECHO) together with its partners, but stress also that effective monitoring of the use of funds in the form of audits of the partners carried out by private audit firms is essential and helps to legitimise the humanitarian sector. We therefore commend DG ECHO’s efforts to promote the use of innovative approaches such as the cash-based approach and, in particular, unconditional transfers, which are directed at the most vulnerable groups. Indeed, these approaches can be more efficient than assistance in kind, and do not necessarily carry a greater fiduciary risk.
Véronique Mathieu (PPE), in writing. – (FR) I voted in favour of the report on the budgetary control of EU humanitarian aid managed by ECHO. The European Union is the world’s largest donor of humanitarian aid. In 2010, the EU’s contribution totalled EUR 2.957 billion, of which 36% came from the European Commission and the remainder from the Member States. The Commission thus provides funding to almost 200 partners such as NGOs and United Nations agencies. Nevertheless, control of the use of these funds is relatively limited. The reports provided by the United Nations are very general and do not contain precise information about the results. The Commission must therefore remedy the shortcomings with regard to transparency in order to prevent misuse of United Nations funds for humanitarian and development activities.
Mario Mauro (PPE), in writing. – (IT) As the rapporteur also rightly remarks, I find it unacceptable that the Commission has not provided Parliament with the final narrative and financial reports of the European Community Humanitarian Office (ECHO) partners on the implementation of humanitarian actions in the aftermath of the catastrophes in Haiti and Pakistan in 2010. Parliament must have access to such reports, in order to be able to pass judgement regarding the financial management. This practice must be changed in order also to promote an improvement in the interaction between European institutions, as well as with international humanitarian bodies.
Jean-Luc Mélenchon (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (FR) This report highlights real problems, particularly as regards transparency in the organisation of humanitarian aid. It also calls for an increase in the European Union’s humanitarian budget. I support those aspects of it. However, I regret that when referring to transparency, it denounces almost exclusively the United Nations agencies. I regret, too, that it calls for the use of funds to be monitored by private firms, as if this were a way to guarantee independence.
Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. – (PT) There should be regular evaluation of partners and of ex ante controls to assess whether they are appropriate. The Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department of the European Commission (ECHO), ECHO services and field experts should closely monitor the implementation of each project through day-to-day monitoring of its progress. The Commission should also monitor projects through a network of field experts and regular visits by geographical desks, auditors and management. Partners should also submit reports after the end of the operation to substantiate their expenses. Approximately 10 evaluations should be undertaken on average each year, focusing on major country operations, defined as operations that receive funding totalling about EUR 50 million and which have not been evaluated in the last three years, on partners, and on thematic issues. It is only with this control that it will be possible to evaluate whether the aid provided by the European Union is really implemented properly.
Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. – The report basically points out areas of weakness in control over the funds and proposes points where improvements could be made. I totally agree with the rapporteur.
Andreas Mölzer (NI), in writing. – (DE) In order to clarify the significance of humanitarian aid in the context of the EU budget, it should be pointed out that EUR 1.115 billion was set aside for this purpose in 2010. The European Commission’s Directorate General for Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection (ECHO) manages this aid and is responsible for administering the funds. One of the important instruments in the provision of aid is the conclusion of contracts with NGOs. Unfortunately, serious inadequacies were found in the control mechanisms in the past because tasks in this area were delegated to international organisations that were only subject to their own audit systems. The changes contained in this report make the control system more transparent, more comprehensive and more general, which is why I voted in favour of the report.
Franz Obermayr (NI), in writing. – (DE) With an expenditure of EUR 2.957 billion (2010), the EU is the world’s biggest donor of development aid. This total amount is made up of contributions from the Member States (64%) and the Commission (36%). The Directorate General for Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection (ECHO) is the responsible Directorate General within the EU for the implementation of humanitarian aid and disaster prevention. ECHO operates on an international basis, supporting about 200 partners throughout the world – NGOs, UN agencies and international organisations. The measures are managed from the Commission’s headquarters in Brussels through a network of over 40 offices in all the relevant regions. It is a problem that the budgetary plan and budgetary controls in these areas are not managed centrally by the Commission, but that this task is entrusted to various international organisations, which carry out internal controls according to their own accounting and auditing procedures. Since the principle of exclusive or single auditing is pursued, the Commission does not perform any audits of its own. It limits its activities to field monitoring and verification missions. The European Court of Auditors has criticised this delegation of administration on numerous occasions because it leads to a lack of coherence, a complicated network of legal regulations, and inadequate control and follow-up of the use of EU funds. I would therefore welcome moves by the Commission to address this problem when revising the Financial Regulation.
Georgios Papanikolaou (PPE), in writing. – (EL) The total contribution made by the EU to humanitarian aid is close to EUR 3 billion (64% from the Member States and 36% from the Commission), making the EU the world leader. ECHO, the European Commission Directorate General responsible for implementing EU humanitarian aid, is charged with distributing a large portion of these resources via NGOs, UN agencies, international organisations and specialist services of the Member States, and managed EUR 889 million in 2010. This specific initiative sets out the organisation’s economic data in detail and the exact breakdown of expenditure and also sets out in detail the results of periodic assessments by the Directorate and the procedure for monitoring and implementing humanitarian programmes to which European resources have been contributed. The accountability, therefore, of the Directorate General and the transparency of the procedures is clearly satisfactory, which is why I voted in favour of the report.
Rolandas Paksas (EFD), in writing. – (LT) I welcome this resolution because due to the dramatic increase in the number of humanitarian disasters, it is particularly important to ensure sound financial management based on the principles of economy, efficiency and effectiveness. The EU is the world’s largest donor of humanitarian aid. Therefore, the European Commission’s Directorate General for Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection (DG ECHO) must have sufficient financial and human resources to enable it to properly exercise its powers. Carrying out accurate and coherent needs assessment is a prerequisite for the effective and efficient delivery of humanitarian aid. When delivering assistance, we must use innovative approaches and promote the continuous involvement of beneficiaries in the planning and management of aid. Given the constant increase in various major natural disasters, the EU must strengthen its response capacity. Attention is drawn to the fact that in order to achieve these objectives, it is very important to finally draw up a realistic humanitarian budget.
Alfredo Pallone (PPE), in writing. – (IT) The EU is one of the world’s largest donors of humanitarian aid. In order to organise the humanitarian aid work, it has been provided with a Commission DG (Directorate General) – the European Community Humanitarian Office (ECHO) – capable of dealing with the complicated system of managing the budget, and aid allocations and applications. The huge importance of this Directorate General often leads to areas of conflict relating to powers over control of financial resources, for which reason it was considered necessary to revise the Financial Regulation (FR) in order to strengthen the responsibility and expertise of the parties managing the humanitarian aid budget. This is why I voted in favour of the report.
Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. – (PT) The fact that the European Union is the world’s largest provider of humanitarian aid does not exempt it from heightened responsibilities. The purpose of this report is, inter alia, to promote the selection and assessment by the Commission of humanitarian organisations’ compliance with the conditions laid down in the Humanitarian Aid Regulation and the Financial Regulation. The European Union has been fighting for the inclusion in humanitarian aid agreements of rules on the proper implementation of funds, on following up how projects are carried out, on respect for human rights and on the auditing of funded projects. I voted for this report for these reasons.
Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. – (PT) The Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department of the European Commission (ECHO) plays a role of the greatest importance in humanitarian aid, since the EU is the world’s largest donor in aggregated terms, taking the Commission and Member States together. However, as with any public funds, the process of allocating aid should be guided by simplicity, particularly in a context of global crisis, so as to reduce any costs considered unnecessary, on the one hand, and to facilitate beneficiaries’ access to the funds made available, on the other. Sound financial management is, therefore, a condition without which any policy of this nature will be doomed to fail. This motion for a resolution sets out a budgetary analysis of the EU humanitarian aid policy managed by ECHO, with a view to making better use of the available resources. I therefore voted in favour.
Jean Roatta (PPE), in writing. – (FR) The European Union is the world’s largest donor of humanitarian aid. In 2010, the European Union’s contribution totalled EUR 2.957 billion, and 36% of that aid came from the Commission. The Commission manages its humanitarian activities from its headquarters in Brussels and with the help of a network of local offices all around the world. The average annual budget managed by DG ECHO for its humanitarian aid activities between 2006 and 2010 was EUR 889 million. The report focuses on the following key issues: efficiency and effectiveness of the ECHO control, monitoring and supervision system, especially when framework partnership agreement (FPA) partners or international organisation partners (such as the United Nations) are involved. The report also underlines the need to ensure the sustainability, coherence and complementarity of humanitarian actions, which are key objectives of the EU’s development policy. I therefore voted in favour of this report.
Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – In favour. The EU (the Commission together with the Member States) is the world’s largest donor of humanitarian aid. The EU’s total contribution of humanitarian aid, including the Member States, in 2010 was EUR 2 957 million, whereas the share of the EU Member States was 64% and the funds channelled through the Commission amounted to 36%. ECHO is the Directorate General (DG) of the European Commission responsible for the implementation of EU humanitarian aid (Regulation (EC) 1257/96). DG ECHO’s mandate encompasses humanitarian assistance and civil protection, the two main instruments at the EU’s disposal to ensure delivery of humanitarian assistance to the victims of disasters and protracted conflicts. ECHO implements its mandate by funding about 200 partners: NGOs, UN agencies, international organisations and specialised agencies of the Member States. The Commission manages its humanitarian activities from its headquarters in Brussels via a network of more than 40 field offices all over the world.
Sergio Paolo Francesco Silvestris (PPE), in writing. – (IT) This vote will guarantee greater efficiency and effectiveness in the control, monitoring and supervision system of the European Commission’s Directorate General responsible for the implementation of EU humanitarian aid (ECHO). The EU is the world’s largest donor of humanitarian aid. In fact, its total humanitarian aid contribution, including from the Member States, in 2010 was EUR 2.957 billion. ECHO carries out its mandate by funding about 200 partners: NGOs, UN agencies, international organisations and specialised agencies of Member States. However, the mega catastrophes in Haiti and Pakistan have demonstrated once again that the instruments at the EU’s disposal for responding to disasters have to be improved in terms of effectiveness, speed and coordination. These episodes, even through their tragic nature, revealed that there is still much work to be done to improve and to reinforce ownership and accountability.
Michèle Striffler (PPE), in writing. – (FR) Given the growing number of natural disasters, it is essential for the European Union to strengthen its capacity to react and respond to crises. In that regard, I feel that it is crucial to maintain a coherent balance between the financing of measures to prevent humanitarian disasters and the financing of measures to ensure rapid responses to disasters. I drafted the opinion on this report adopted unanimously in the Committee on Development and I commend the high-quality work carried out by DG ECHO’s partners, achieved by means of an effective selection method – such as the framework partnership agreement – and the development of standards and practices applicable in the humanitarian field. For these reasons, I voted in favour of this report.
Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. – (PT) The EU, along with the Member States, is the world’s largest donor of humanitarian aid, with a total of EUR 2.957 billion in 2010. Retaining this policy is essential if the EU and its Member States are to have a role in achieving the Millennium Development Goals. The majority of humanitarian aid funds go to the African continent: 42%, according to 2010 data. The EU uses this sum and accumulated reserves to fund around 200 partners, from NGOs to international organisations, such as the specialised agencies of the UN. These funds are channelled into humanitarian aid and civil protection for the victims of disasters and prolonged conflicts. It is crucial to establish levels of control so as to know for certain how funds are spent, as well as to hold both parties – donor and recipient – accountable. There should also be more coordination between the EU and the Member States on a global strategy for planning, financing and implementing available humanitarian aid.
Silvia-Adriana Ţicău (S&D), in writing. – (RO) I voted for the European Parliament resolution on the budgetary control of EU humanitarian aid managed by the Directorate General for Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection (DG ECHO).
According to the Court of Auditors of the European Union, the overall ex ante controls, monitoring and supervision systems, ex post audit activity and the internal audit functions of DG ECHO are generally effective, but there is room for improvement. The resolution calls on the Commission to continue refining the measures which will improve the efficiency of cooperation with framework partnership agreement (FPA) partners after 2012 and will reduce the excessive administrative burden for FPA partners, while ensuring a high level of accountability and transparency.
The European Union must also strengthen its reaction capacity, given the growing number of major natural disasters, and provide an adequate humanitarian budget in order to avoid, therefore, the chronic underfunding of the budget lines for humanitarian aid.
At the same time, some financial leeway must be provided throughout the budget year, which will also maintain a coherent balance between funding measures to prevent humanitarian disasters and measures to ensure a rapid response to emergencies, no matter whether they are man-made or natural disasters.
Angelika Werthmann (NI), in writing. – (DE) In order to ensure the efficient and economically effective use of funds from the EU budget, it is vital that the allocation of funds under the ECHO programme should be improved and made more transparent. This is particularly necessary in order to avoid double funding. When selecting NGO partners at local level, we must consider their expertise and past successes as criteria, not just their cost efficiency. Humanitarian aid must be made more sustainable by focusing more closely on disaster prevention.
Inês Zuber (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (PT) The Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department of the European Commission (ECHO), which is responsible for implementing EU humanitarian aid, covers humanitarian assistance and civil protection, funding around 200 partners to implement it. The report criticises the current management of ECHO’s budget, highlighting weaknesses in terms of control and follow-up of the use of EU funds. In order to change existing weaknesses in the control and management of ECHO’s budget, the rapporteur proposes a series of measures, the most important of which is the need for increased control and accountability in the indirect management of EU funds, and for the EU to increase its capacity to respond to natural disasters; that is a ‘more realistic’ approach to the budget, and to ‘maintaining a coherent balance between the financing of measures to prevent humanitarian disasters and measures to ensure rapid responses to [...] disasters’.
Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. – (PT) I voted for this report because it argues that justice should be accessible to all European citizens and because it calls on the Commission to table complementary measures guaranteeing full exercising of this right, specifically in the area of collective redress. In the European area of justice, citizens and companies must be able to enforce the rights guaranteed by EU legislation effectively and efficiently. It is therefore important to provide robust guarantees against abusive litigation, as envisaged in the Commission’s horizontal consultation, and to protect consumers and small and medium-sized enterprises with safeguard procedures, particularly as regards competition or consumers.
Laima Liucija Andrikienė (PPE), in writing. – I voted in favour of this resolution which addresses the exchange of views on the Commission’s public consultation examining possibilities for introducing a system of collective judicial recourse (‘collective redress’) at European level. The report highlights the principle that anyone who has suffered damage must have the right to receive compensation, but that those bringing collective actions must not be in a better position than individual claimants. The EU legal tradition is directed towards solving disputes between individuals rather than through a collective entity. Some Member States’ legal systems have developed differing approaches to the issue of collective redress. It is in this context that the Commission must put forward evidence that, pursuant to the principle of subsidiarity, an action at EU level is opportune. We, Members of the European Parliament, agree on the need for this new legal initiative and on initially proposed horizontal procedural actions and safeguards which should be further analysed, tested and developed.
Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D), in writing. – (LT) The consumer policy strategy drawn up by the Commission has the objective of establishing an effectively functioning retail internal market by 2013, making consumers and retailers as confident shopping across borders as in their home countries. Cross-border trade is very slow to develop in the EU because consumers have no guarantee that their rights will be protected in the event of a problem and they will receive adequate redress. The integration of European markets and the consequent increase in cross-border activities highlight the need for a common European approach to collective redress. The Commission has made a significant effort to address this issue, which hitherto was regulated at Member State level. I believe that we need to provide a clear impact assessment and outline possible measures at EU level to improve the EU’s current regulatory framework, so as to allow victims of infringements of EU law to be compensated for the damage they sustain and thus contribute to consumer confidence and smoother functioning of the internal market.
Elena Băsescu (PPE), in writing. – (RO) I voted for the report drafted by Mr Lehne because I think that European citizens must be encouraged to exercise their rights in cross-border situations. As it is a recent legal instrument in Europe, consumers are not familiar with collective redress. The benefits of exercising this right are unarguable. This means that when individual financial claims do not provide them with access to legal proceedings, consumers can initiate a collective action to bring legal proceedings. This also allows the costs incurred by such action to be shared. Collective action provides consumers with an effective means of expression. At the same time, it ensures the most efficient functioning of the single market within which citizens can communicate directly with commercial agencies. I should point out that this mechanism eliminates discrimination among citizens with regard to the value of the legal actions and their admissibility.
Jean-Luc Bennahmias (ALDE), in writing. – (FR) Scandals over the PIP breast implants, the Costa Concordia disaster: there are numerous pertinent examples of the citizens’ desire to seek redress collectively when the abuse or damage they have suffered is widely denounced. In adopting the Lehne report on Thursday, 2 February, the European Parliament aims to further the debate on this approach and move towards establishing collective redress within the EU, and I fully support this. This new possibility of collective redress allows claimants in the Member States to group their cases together to denounce mass damage. However, the new system will also have to take into account the lessons learned from the excesses of the US system, which is fighting against class actions that are at times abusive or unmeritorious. To this end, the report calls on the Commission to take into consideration a number of key aspects when drawing up its legislative proposal: limiting the admissibility of actions to clearly defined groups by giving a judge discretionary powers to carry out a preliminary admissibility check of any potential collective action and prohibiting punitive damages. The European Parliament has set the ball rolling; it is now essential for the Commission to fill this legal vacuum by ensuring the fundamental right of victims to be compensated.
Vilija Blinkevičiūtė (S&D), in writing. – (LT) I voted in favour of this European Parliament report because in the European area of justice, citizens and companies must not only enjoy rights but must also be able to enforce those rights effectively and efficiently. Furthermore, fair access to justice should remain available to all EU citizens. Attention should be drawn to the fact that a system based on collective legal actions can usefully supplement, but is no substitute for, individual legal protection. The European Parliament welcomes the Commission’s work towards a common European approach to collective redress. It is asking the Commission to demonstrate in its impact assessment that, pursuant to the principle of subsidiarity, action is needed at EU level in order to improve the current EU regulatory framework so as to allow victims of infringements of EU law to be compensated for the damage they sustain and thus contribute to consumer confidence and the smoother functioning of the internal market. The European Parliament also welcomes the efforts of Member States to strengthen the rights of victims of unlawful behaviour by introducing or planning to introduce legislation aimed at facilitating redress while avoiding an abusive litigation culture, but also recognises that national collective redress mechanisms are widely divergent, in particular, in terms of scope and procedural characteristics, which may undermine the enjoyment of rights by citizens.
Andrea Cozzolino (S&D), in writing. – (IT) A regulation defining collective redress is not only desirable but it is also urgent and cannot be delayed, especially when we consider that, in the majority of cases, the ‘collective’ victims come from the weakest sections of the population, both in terms of education and from an economic perspective. This implies that, in the majority of cases, the infringements perpetrated against these groups go unpunished due to economic barriers (the cost of an individual case being disproportionate to the possible compensation) and psychological ones (fears about the length of procedures) and difficulties in accessing the necessary information.
Vice versa, bundling the claims would not only strengthen their legal position but would also make it possible to simplify the processes and reduce their costs. On the other hand, there remain quite a few problems, both with regard to the different jurisdictions in individual Member States and to the need to curb misuse of the instrument. In any event, it is advisable for the EU to have a common horizontal approach to the issue, without following the US class action model and without amending national laws, and to establish a horizontal reference framework instrument that enables citizens and companies to enforce their rights under EU legislation.
Francesco De Angelis (S&D) , in writing. – (IT) I voted for the report on collective redress because I believe that completion of the European single market also, and above all, involves harmonisation of consumer protection measures. However, it is crucial that Europe should not repeat the errors already committed in the US, where the practice of class action has become a primary source of profit mainly for a handful of powerful legal firms, only in very rare cases acting as an effective consumer protection tool. In this field, the European Union can do better than the US, first of all by encouraging the parties to reach alternative agreements not requiring formal recourse to legal means, thus simplifying and speeding up the process; and subsequently, by establishing a legislative framework that does not leave room for abuse, hence, with specific timeframes for proceedings, and rights to protection in line with European legal traditions. Only in this way will it be possible to prevent a useful tool for protecting citizens becoming a means of unfair competition between private entities. The report on which we voted today is a move in this direction, and is therefore a good starting point to build on in the future.
Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. – (PT) The right to compensation for damages suffered is essential to any legal system. The various national jurisdictions already safeguard this. However, I think we need to be cautious regarding collective redress. On the one hand, we do not wish to open the door to a system like that in the United States, in which abuse of the law is commonplace, jeopardising the activity of thousands of companies. On the other, in relation to the area of competition, the existence of collective action will mean consumers harmed by an anti-competitive practice that has been penalised pursuant to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union will be able to claim damages. This will lead to the associated application of fines and to the compensation of consumers harmed by such practices. Once again, that could have serious effects for businesses. I therefore believe we should proceed with caution in this area, and I prefer alternative dispute-resolution mechanisms that are cheaper, faster and, in many cases, more effective. As such, I consider it crucial that Parliament continues to play an active role in this area.
José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. – (PT) This report, drafted by Mr Lehne, concerns opening the European Union up to a coherent approach to collective redress, as well as the need to provide for consistent guarantees, so as to prevent abusive litigation. Improved access to justice by the European public has been one of the concerns of the EU, which has adopted a number of regulations and directives on this issue in recent years. It is not legal tradition in Europe to settle disputes between individuals through recourse to a collective entity. In view of the complexity of this subject and the modus operandi of several Member States, it is crucial to harmonise the majority of the branches of national law. In the absence of this harmonisation, it would be preferable for defendants to be tried in the area where they live and to have the right to refuse to participate in a collective redress procedure. I voted for this report because I believe that, as justice is an issue with a huge impact on the lives of all members of the public, Parliament should participate actively throughout the ordinary legislative procedure until a solution covering the entire territory of the European Union is found.
João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (PT) This report states that ‘the enforcement of national law must not prevent the uniform application of European law’, making very clear its purpose of creating a horizontal system and uniform application of EU legislation to be superimposed over national legislation. We are not opposed to a European approach to collective redress, providing robust guarantees against abusive litigation. However, we do not agree with the promotion of transferring more elements of national sovereignty to the EU being tacked on to an objective need that crosses borders. For our part, we believe there is another way, specifically by establishing agreements between countries, to enable this problem to be tackled without a loss of sovereignty, but retaining the elements that this proposal is intended to transfer.
Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D), in writing. – (SK) In the European area of justice, citizens and companies must not only enjoy rights but must also be able to enforce those rights effectively and efficiently. EU legislation is designed to enable parties in cross-border situations either to enforce their rights effectively or to seek out-of-court settlement by way of mediation. The benefits of the alternative dispute resolution method are undisputed and fair access to justice should remain available to all EU citizens.
Consumers affected by a legal infringement who seek redress often face significant barriers in terms of accessibility, effectiveness and affordability owing to sometimes high litigation costs, potential psychological costs, complex and lengthy procedures, and lack of information on the available means of redress. In some Member States, the overall performance of the existing consumer redress and enforcement tools designed at EU level is not deemed satisfactory, or such mechanisms are not sufficiently well known, which results in their limited use.
I believe that it is necessary to take due account of the legal traditions and legal orders of the individual Member States and enhance the coordination of good practices between Member States. Safeguards must be put in place within the horizontal instrument in order to avoid unmeritorious claims and misuse of collective redress, so as to guarantee fair court proceedings.
Lidia Joanna Geringer de Oedenberg (S&D), in writing. – (PL) I am pleased that the European Parliament has undertaken the initiative to introduce legal regulations within the Member States which will allow for and simplify the procedures of consumer collective redress. According to the research and surveys conducted by the European Commission, one out of five European consumers will not go to court for disputes amounting to less than EUR 1 000, and nearly half of them claim that they would not go to court to obtain redress of less than EUR 200. The main obstacles facing consumers include high costs, the risk of court proceedings as well as lengthy and complicated procedures relating to redress. However, in the case of collective action, as many as 79% of respondents declared their willingness to defend their rights in court. We should take steps to empower European consumers, who represent the weaker party in relation to the entity infringing their rights. A mechanism for collective redress already exists in Poland, and its principles could prove useful when working on the future European instrument. As it is a relatively new instrument, introduced by the Act of 17 December 2009, its application still requires thorough testing. However, it is unquestionably a step in the right direction. A common mechanism for collective redress at EU level is necessary in order to make it possible and easier for citizens and businesses to access and exercise the rights to which they are entitled. I would like to congratulate the rapporteur on his initiative and I eagerly await the Commission’s proposals.
Louis Grech (S&D), in writing. – I voted in favour of this report. I believe that the lack of a collective redress system for the EU undermines the enforcement of EU legislation on consumer protection already in place, and consequently has a knock-on effect on consumer empowerment and confidence within the single market. In order to achieve a competitive and socially sustainable single market framework, the Union cannot afford to keep putting off the creation of a Europe-wide collective redress mechanism for consumers and citizens. Sufficient amounts of reports, consultations, workshops and seminars have been drawn up and taken place at EU level. It is now time for the Commission to adopt a unified position and take clearly defined legislative action. The formula for completing the EU Alternative Dispute Resolution system, for which the Commission has recently brought forward a legislative proposal, necessitates the putting into place of this collective redress structure. To this end, I feel that for any final ADR package to be endorsed by the European citizen, the Commission must factor in the existence and availability of Europe-wide collective redress.
Nathalie Griesbeck (ALDE), in writing. – (FR) I voted in favour of this report, which proposes the possibility of collective redress at European level and invites the Commission to examine the appropriate legal basis for any measures in the field of collective redress. In my opinion, this type of redress would enable the victims of illegal actions, especially the victims of minor damage, to bundle their claims for compensation, thereby reducing excessive litigation costs and increasing legal certainty and respect for the rule of law in Europe. I also welcome the fact that the report stresses that Europe does not, however, wish to establish a system identical to that of the United States, and that European collective redress should seek to protect European citizens without weakening in any way the integrity of the single market and the rule of law.
Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. – (LT) I welcomed this document because in the European area of justice, citizens and companies must be able to enforce their rights under EU legislation effectively and efficiently. In a case of mass or dispersed damages, victims of unlawful behaviour might indeed abstain from claiming compensation, as the costs of seeking individual redress might be disproportionate to the damage sustained. In this regard, a European approach to collective redress may be useful because it might, on the one hand, be in the interest of victims of unlawful behaviour to bundle their claims which they would not otherwise pursue individually and, on the other, it might be in the interest of companies to obtain one single settlement or court action bringing legal certainty to the matter.
Philippe Juvin (PPE), in writing. – (FR) I voted in favour of this own-initiative report on the introduction of a coherent European approach to collective redress because I believe that action at European Union level in this area would undoubtedly have added value. We need to take a realistic, pragmatic approach and move beyond the ideological approach that seeks merely to reject the ‘US nightmare’. The people of Europe must be able to exercise their rights effectively. To this end, a rigid procedural framework must be guaranteed in order to prevent abusive claims.
Edvard Kožušník (ECR), in writing. – (CS) I would like first to state my reticence in relation to exporting the American practice of actions targeting collective redress into EU law. I am particularly concerned about the abuse of these class actions. It is also not entirely clear what impacts the creation of such arrangements would have on the law of individual Member States. On the other hand, introduction of this practice might increase consumer protection and have a preventative effect against some unfair practices on the internal market. Despite my reticence, I voted in favour of the report, as I am expecting an assessment of the impact of the legal measure to be drawn up on the basis of the report. Only on the basis of a high-quality assessment of the impact and the benefits and risks of the practice of collective redress will it be possible to decide whether there is any sense in incorporating this practice into EU law or definitively rejecting it.
Constance Le Grip (PPE), in writing. – (FR) I voted in favour of the report by Mr Lehne on a coherent European approach to collective redress. It seems to me that we should examine in detail the added value we might gain from introducing a system of collective redress at European level. Without going as far as the US model, however, it is important to put an end to the legal patchwork in the EU and allow European citizens to exercise their rights effectively and with certainty, especially since bringing an individual action is often difficult and costly. Naturally, this system must have a rigid framework and ensure a fair balance to prevent abuse and a shift towards a more litigious society, while respecting the principle of subsidiarity.
David Martin (S&D), in writing. – I voted for this report, which acknowledges the importance of injunctive relief. In many cases, such as misleading advertising, lack of transparency of contracts, etc., damages might not occur and priority should be given to stopping any further unlawful behaviour. The Commission itself has indicated how Regulation (EC) No 2006/2004 on consumer protection cooperation, as well as Directive 2009/22/EC on injunctions for the protection of consumer interests (the Injunctions Directive), can be improved in order to strengthen cooperation and injunctive relief.
Marisa Matias (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (PT) This report concerns a European approach to collective redress and the commitment to providing robust guarantees against abusive litigation. The report provides for proposals that are steps in the right direction on some legal items that are crucial in view of the structure of this legal instrument. With the aim of preventing excessive and abusive practices, the document is against the idea of copying the US system, and takes into account the systems of the 27 Member States. Many of the Member States have recently created collective instruments enabling collective access to justice, up to a point. This report also stresses the benefits of collective legal actions as regards lower costs. I voted in favour for these reasons.
Mario Mauro (PPE), in writing. – (IT) When a group of citizens suffers the same injustice, individual lawsuits may not constitute an effective means of stopping unlawful practices or obtaining compensation. I agree with the need for a collective European approach, and I also agree with the possible benefits of collective judicial actions in terms of lower costs and greater legal certainty for claimants, defendants and the judicial system alike by avoiding parallel litigation in claims of the same kind. I voted in favour.
Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. – (PT) I believe that, in the European area of justice, citizens and companies must be able to enforce their rights under EU legislation effectively and efficiently. Therefore, in the event of massive or widespread damage, victims of unlawful behaviour might indeed abstain from claiming compensation, as the costs of seeking individual redress might be disproportionate to the damage sustained. However, enforcement of EU law by European and national authorities must remain in the foreground, since these authorities have public-law investigative instruments at their disposal, which cannot be made available to private parties; to this extent, private enforcement continues to be complementary.
Alajos Mészáros (PPE), in writing. – (HU) As with the preparation of all new EU-level laws, when examining the possibility of collective redress, it is the interests of EU citizens, which, in this case, largely means the injured parties, that must take priority.
Before creating a proposal on the subject, the Commission and all other legislators must provide appropriate justification for this form of legal remedy, which is not entirely known in continental legal culture. While the actual effects of this new type of rules of procedure are surrounded by uncertainty, if we give priority to the interests of individuals, we can highlight some positive results that can be achieved through the common rules of procedure by means of an option of collective redress.
Cases of abuse where the individual assertion of rights can seem hopeless are a frequent occurrence, especially when corporations with extensive capital and infrastructure are involved. Sometimes, the consumer or the client is unable to individually bear all the burdens necessary to enforce his rights provided by the law, and eventually decides not to exercise them. In such cases, joint action by the injured parties, in accordance with the rules of a collective form of redress and strictly based on individual decisions as regards participation, can be justified.
I believe that any future legal instrument, including in the field of collective redress, must focus on the objective of enabling EU citizens and corporations to exercise the rights guaranteed to them by the Community. The report reflects these ideas.
Louis Michel (ALDE), in writing. – (FR) It is essential in the single market to prepare a harmonious approach to collective redress in order to assure 500 million European consumers of their rights. The integration of the European markets in addition to the increase in cross-border activities mean that this approach is absolutely essential. The national procedures do not offer any real solutions at cross-border level. Collective judicial redress, currently available at national level in 14 EU Member States, does not allow for optimum compensation when it comes to mass damage, such as flight cancellations, defective products, etc. Extending this redress to all EU Member States would ensure an effective approach that protects European consumers. It would also provide greater legal certainty for the parties involved and for the judicial system.
Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. – Fair access to justice should be available to European citizens, including, but not only, via compensatory relief. To this purpose, the Commission should put forward complementary methods that guarantee the full enjoyment of rights: amicable settlements, online dispute resolution mechanisms, public enforcement and common procedures for redress. I voted in favour.
Andreas Mölzer (NI), in writing. – (DE) It is important that possible abuses of the legal system should be minimised and prevented wherever possible. European legal traditions are to be upheld in this context. This is particularly important in relation to class actions if we are to avoid a flood of abuses through unfounded excessive claims. In this context, it is worth considering developing opportunities for out-of-court settlement, such as mediation in disputes. In the final analysis, we must ensure that businesses and members of the public are able to exercise their rights effectively and efficiently under Union law. This will receive my approval.
Tiziano Motti (PPE), in writing. – (IT) I have always maintained that alternative dispute resolution (ADR) methods are the most effective type of mediation in consumer-related disputes. The single market and the Internet have created a virtual trading space which consumers want to be able to trust. Despite this, consumers are often completely on their own against manufacturers. It is a battle between David and Goliath that does not leave room for recognition of the rights enshrined by the directives which we work to protect on a daily basis. Class action is an experience consumers have embarked upon in order to ensure that their voices are heard, as otherwise they would be isolated and therefore weak. Personally, I believe that there should be more incentives for ADR mechanisms, even if they often depend on the trader’s willingness to cooperate. The availability of an effective judicial redress system would act as a strong incentive for parties to agree an out-of-court settlement, which is likely to avoid a considerable amount of litigation. The setting up of ADR schemes at European level should be encouraged, so as to allow effective settlement of disputes as a more attractive option than court proceedings, and have the power to order the parties involved to first seek a collective consensual resolution of the claim before launching collective court proceedings.
Rolandas Paksas (EFD), in writing. – (LT) I welcome this resolution setting out a coherent European approach to collective redress. Such an approach will make it possible to resolve cross-border disputes and will ensure the effective application of consumer redress and enforcement tools. It should be noted that the institute of collective redress is of clear importance in the area of the protection of consumers’ rights. Mandatory collective redress mechanisms at EU level will ensure a high level of protection of consumer rights and a more competitive internal market. I believe that the role of consumer organisations in the area of collective redress should be promoted and strengthened in order to achieve the objectives set. A European instrument for collective redress must also be accessible to consumers at both national and EU level.
Alfredo Pallone (PPE), in writing. – (IT) The report by Mr Lehne, for which I voted, aims to improve European legislation governing collective redress. The EU needs to protect citizens and companies, which need to be able to enforce their rights under current legislation effectively and efficiently. The improvements in the regulation on consumer protection cooperation, on injunctions for the protection of consumers’ interests, and on injunctive relief, have to protect the victims of unlawful behaviour. In fact, citizens often abstain from claiming compensation because the costs of seeking individual redress are too high, thus indirectly preventing the laws in force from being effectively applied.
Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. – (PT) This report raises concerns about abusive collective actions. This legal instrument is common in the Anglo-Saxon countries. In fact, the European Union’s legal tradition is more oriented towards resolution of disputes between individuals than resolution through a collective entity. With this own-initiative report, the European Parliament is contributing to the horizontal consultation launched by the Commission. This consultation demonstrates the Commission’s openness to a European approach to collective redress and its commitment to providing robust guarantees against abusive litigation. I voted for this report for these reasons.
Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. – (PT) Regulation of legal and procedural issues constitutes one of the most sensitive areas of EU law. As such, it is understood that Union regulation began by standardising the commonly set criteria for the international jurisdiction of courts, by determining the commonly set criteria for substantive law applicable to disputes of a certain kind, by supporting alternative means of dispute resolution, or even by introducing procedural models for low-value actions. Therefore, EU-level regulation of collective redress represents progress in this area: in this framework, there will now be a ‘type’ of litigation relationship – mass litigation – that is regulated uniformly throughout the Union. This is an intervention that could meet with resistance, since the regulation to be introduced could clash with certain aspects of national procedural law. In any case, I believe this reflection should take place and become an opportunity to rethink the law on the organisation of the legal system in the various Member States.
Crescenzio Rivellini (PPE), in writing. – (IT) I would like to congratulate Mr Lehne. The text that has been approved, having regard to the Commission’s Green Paper on consumer collective redress, is a clear request on the part of Parliament to further improve access to justice. Collective redress must not be treated as a special case compared to individual redress, but simply as a practical way to obtain the same result for everyone through a single legal action. A clear and precise standardisation of the issue of collective redress is necessary in order to streamline the legal process and allow a consistent approach.
Robert Rochefort (ALDE), in writing. – (FR) I voted in favour of this report: I have advocated collective redress for many years. However, the Commission has great difficulty in putting any serious proposals to us: we have had ‘Green Papers’, ‘working documents’, ‘draft guidance papers’ and ‘consultation papers’ but, at the end of the day, nothing tangible has yet been done at European level. Nevertheless, we need to establish collective redress in Europe: it is clear that when a group of citizens falls victim to the same infringement, individual actions are not always the solution, whether the goal is to put an end to an illegal practice or obtain redress, especially when the individual damage is minor in comparison to the cost of legal action. Of course, as I have already said, these actions must be clearly defined (legal standing, opt-in, no third-party pre-financing, etc.) in order to avoid the excesses of the US system. However, the debate must not cripple legislative action. That is why I supported this report, which sets out a framework within which these actions could be envisaged, even if I do not agree with all of its guidelines.
Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – I am in favour of calls for any proposal in the field of collective redress to take the form of a binding horizontal framework while a limited number of rules relevant to consumer protection or competition law could be laid down in separate articles or chapters of the horizontal instrument itself, or in separate legal instruments.
Tokia Saïfi (PPE), in writing. – (FR) The citizens of Europe must be able to ensure that EU laws are enforced in their national courts without difficulty. The gaps in the field of collective redress weaken that right, particularly in cases of compensatory redress. Although respect for the judicial traditions of the different Member States is a fundamental principle, we need to go further than the EU compensation scheme and adopt a binding legal framework that regulates collective redress throughout the EU. I voted in favour of rationalising and simplifying judicial action for European citizens. Collective redress is a means of dealing simultaneously with the grievances of several complainants who feel that they have suffered the same damage. As an MEP, I felt that it was important to support a procedure that makes litigation in the EU less costly and less uncertain.
Nikolaos Salavrakos (EFD), in writing. – (EL) I voted in favour of the rapporteur’s proposal because I believe that it is in Europe’s interest to have a coherent approach to collective redress. The spirit of EU law requires victims of illegal practices, be they private individuals or companies, to have the facility to effectively exercise the rights vested in them under EU legislation and to be able to claim compensation for losses which they incur if EU legislation is infringed. It is vital for the EU system of collective redress to be based on respect for European civilisation. If that – but not only that – is achieved, it will increase consumer confidence and help the internal market to operate smoothly.
Peter Skinner (S&D), in writing. – I want to thank my fellow shadows and the rapporteur working on the report on moving to collective redress. Key areas of our work involved how to balance the needs of consumers and society to have recourse to a procedure for a common and related complaint and the implications for such an approach. In particular, I am concerned that an overwhelming effect might be to bring in a similar system to that of the United States. This is to be resisted at all levels. Similarly, the issue of competition and economic concentration lie at the heart of economic and industrial policy and are not simply procedural juridical matters.
József Szájer (PPE), in writing. – (HU) The collective enforcement of rights enhances legal certainty and may have a preventive effect on companies that typically cause small amounts of damage but to a wide spectrum of individuals. In such cases, the injured parties can be dissuaded by the risk of having to bear legal expenses, as the costs of the individual enforcement of rights more often than not exceeds the expected gains.
I must stress that I do not support the European proliferation of abusive and unsubstantiated class action suits that are common in the US. However, I do believe that uniform European regulation of the collective enforcement of rights could serve to significantly reduce consumer distrust and could serve as an appropriate instrument to establish a practically minded and more efficient means of legal remedy that serves the interests of both the injured parties and the companies.
Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. – (PT) Consumers are having serious problems concerning effectiveness and accessibility when they attempt to take legal action as individuals, which is all the more important because of the increasing integration of European markets and the resulting increase in cross-border activities. I am voting for this report because I believe the European Union should adopt an integrated and consistent approach to tackling cases in which consumers are unprotected, with particular emphasis on joint action driven by a number of members of the public. I also consider it crucial that the measures tabled aim to reduce the cost of cases and increase legal certainty for claimants, defendants and the judicial system. However, it will be necessary to bear in mind the traditions and statute law of each Member State, and the dissemination of good practice at EU level should be promoted.
Marina Yannakoudakis (ECR), in writing. – I voted against this report because I believe that a sectoral approach would be more appropriate than the introduction of a horizontal instrument. Sectoral instruments, i.e. in competition law, have clear economic benefits, whereas horizontal instruments may be applied in all areas of EU law and thus extend collective actions which I am firmly opposed to.
Inês Zuber (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (PT) This initiative is explicit about its purpose of creating a horizontal system and uniform application of EU legislation to be superimposed over national legislation. We are not opposed to a European approach to collective redress, providing robust guarantees against abusive litigation. However, we do not agree with the promotion of transferring more elements of national sovereignty to the EU being tacked on to an objective need that could cross borders. For our part, we believe there is another way, specifically, by establishing agreements between countries, to enable this problem to be tackled without a loss of sovereignty, but retaining the elements that this proposal is intended to transfer.
Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. – (PT) I am voting in favour because nutrition and health claims must not be false, ambiguous or misleading. The opposition to this list of nutrition claims results from the fact that the draft Commission regulation runs counter to the purpose and content of the basic instrument. The Commission should now table an amended draft.
Sophie Auconie (PPE), in writing. – (FR) I am sorry that the House voted in favour of the resolution opposing the adoption of the draft Commission regulation on nutrition claims. I regret the result of this vote, which was quite confusing at the time, with a very small majority of just 15 votes and after comments that distorted reality. Far from protecting consumers, some of my colleagues unfortunately tend to treat them like children instead. Three points would protect the consumer, however. Firstly, this claim was entirely clear: ‘now contains X% less of [nutrient]’. Secondly, it could be used only if the nutrient content was reduced by at least 15%. Finally, the claim was only allowed to be used for a maximum of one year. Despite the fact that the European Parliament never stops pointing out how crucial it is to combat obesity, reduce the sugar content, salt content, fat content, etc. of our food, it is today adopting an incomprehensible position by rejecting a claim that could, in fact, have given the food industry an incentive to move in that direction, thereby benefiting the health of consumers. Therefore, in the quest for ‘the best’, we no longer even have ‘the good’, and we are destroying any incentive for manufacturers to reformulate their products.
Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D), in writing. – (LT) Product labelling and nutrition claims on food packaging are aimed at increasing consumer awareness of the composition and nutritional value of foodstuffs. The objective of EU legislation on labelling foodstuffs and indicating their nutritional value is to give consumers information in a clear and simple manner, and to ensure that such information is not false, ambiguous or misleading. Currently, information shown on food packaging describing a product as light or dietary may mislead consumers and influence their choice of a certain foodstuff, although the information often does not bear any relation to the product’s true nutritional value. I voted in favour of the European Parliament’s position of opposing nutrition claims proposed by the Commission such as ‘now contains 10% less [nutrient]’ because such claims may be confusing and incomprehensible to the average consumer, and I welcome the call for the submission of a new draft proposal with new and clearer wording.
Nikolaos Chountis (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (EL) The nutrition and health claims listed on food should not be misleading in terms of the properties, nature and identity of the food. The new nutrition claim proposed by the European Commission, which it claims will benefit consumers, is unclear and gives rise to reasonable doubts. This is a misleading claim which does not guarantee a high level of protection for consumers. It is an unacceptable self-serving proposal by the Commission, which will create confusion among consumers and a dangerous precedent. As for the benefit, there certainly is one, but it is the food industry, not the consumer, that stands to gain. Moreover, this is not the first time that we have seen the European Commission in the role of food company promoter. I voted in favour of the motion for a resolution by the European Parliament opposing the European Commission’s proposal because I consider that it is a scandalous proposal that paves the way for unsafe food to end up on our plates, because it puts profit before consumer health and safety, and because I consider it unacceptable for the European Commission to turn itself into a mercenary for the food industry lobby and self-serving solutions.
José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. – (PT) Pursuant to Article 3 of Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006, ‘nutrition and health claims must not be false, ambiguous or misleading’. The aforementioned regulation states that such claims must be set out in such a way that the average consumer understands them and, when comparative, the point of comparison must include a range of foodstuffs of the same type and of a variety of brands. The motion for a resolution under consideration, pursuant to Rule 88(2) of the Rules of Procedure, contains Parliament’s opposition to the draft Commission regulation amending Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006 with regard to the list of nutrition claims, because it is considered to suffer from a number of faults, such as running counter to ‘the purpose and content of the basic instrument by being ambiguous, misleading and confusing to the average consumer’. As such, I voted for this motion for a resolution, which calls on the Commission to submit a new draft to the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety.
João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (PT) We voted for this resolution opposed to the adoption of the draft Commission regulation, which would amend another regulation on the list of nutrition claims. The proposal of introducing the claim ‘now contains X% less of [nutrient]’ violates the principle of comparative claims, enabling, inter alia, the nutritional values of a product to be compared with a previous version of the same product, regardless of the starting level of the nutrient in question. There is also the problem that this type of claim discourages producers from reformulating their products more substantially, as it is easier to reduce a nutrient by 15% than by the amount needed to make a product meet the requirements for the ‘light’ or ‘reduced [nutrient]’ claims. In the end, it was consumers who lost out from this proposal – which Parliament has fortunately rejected – in terms of the clarity, relevance and objectivity of the information provided. The European Commission is now called on to table an amended draft of these measures.
Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D), in writing. – (SK) In view of the basic principles governing the selection of permitted nutrition claims on foodstuffs, the Commission has proposed the new nutrition claim ‘now contains X% less of [nutrient]’, to be included in the Annex to Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006. This claim runs counter to the purpose and content of the basic instrument by being confusing, ambiguous and misleading to the average consumer.
The newly introduced claim ‘now contains X% less of [nutrient]’ violates the principle of comparative claims, as laid down in Article 9(2) of Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006. It makes allowance for the nutritional values of a product to be compared with a previous version of that product, regardless of the starting level of the nutrient in question, which could be excessively high by comparison with other products on the market. Products that have not been reformulated, but are nevertheless lower in a certain nutrient than the reformulated product of a different brand, will not be allowed to bear a nutrition claim.
This will inevitably mislead consumers. I believe that the draft Commission regulation is inconsistent with the purpose and content of the basic instrument, and I therefore consider it necessary that the Commission presents an amended proposal.
Elisabetta Gardini (PPE), in writing. – (IT) This vote was a significant missed opportunity to allow our small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to communicate the improvements they have made to products in terms of reduced salt, sugar and fat content. I would like to point out that under current legislation, companies wishing to improve nutrition characteristics have to make drastic changes to their recipes, a difficult operation for SMEs in terms of both technology and economics. Using comparative nutrition claims is, in fact, currently only permitted on condition that the product contains at least 30% less of the substance indicated than the average in the product category. Use of the proposed claim would only have been allowed for one year, in order to encourage the gradual reformulation of products. This would have allowed consumers to get used to the gradual reduction in fat, sugar and salt content, with the resulting health benefits. There are already successful examples of this approach, such as in the UK where people are becoming used to less salty flavours through a gradual reduction in salt content. Therefore, I hope that the Commission will formulate a new proposal as soon as possible with which Parliament will be able to agree.
Mathieu Grosch (PPE), in writing. – (DE) I welcome the motion for a resolution from the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety with regard to the list of permissible nutrition claims, as it will mean that consumers will not be confused by the nutritional advertising claim ‘now contains X% less sugar (or other nutrient)’ when buying foodstuffs.
Although I support the efforts of the food industry to make the content of food ‘healthier’, this new advertising claim will lead to a lack of transparency for consumers rather than encouraging the industry to invest in ‘improving’ its products. The food industry continues to have the option of promoting the products with the label ‘reduced sugar’ or ‘reduced salt’, but these advertising claims are only permitted if the content of the nutrient is reduced by at least 30% compared with other products in the same food category. However, the new advertising claim ‘now contains X% less of [nutrient]’ that is now to be permitted does not have any such restriction, and may consequently confuse consumers.
Furthermore, with the claim ‘15% less sugar’, consumers also expect a corresponding reduction in energy content. According to the Commission’s proposal, however, this advertising claim can also be used if the energy content remains the same on account of other additives. As a result, consumers will have the impression that this product contains fewer calories on account of the reduction in sugar content, although the energy content will remain the same.
Particularly where food is concerned, it is extremely important to provide clear, easy-to-understand and transparent information in order to enable consumers to quickly and easily choose between the many different products on offer.
Brice Hortefeux (PPE), in writing. – (FR) During the vote in plenary on 1 February, the European Parliament decided, by a narrow majority, to reject a draft regulation aimed at providing consumers with extra nutritional information. Parliament’s concern that there would be a desire to take things further, or even too far, led it to adopt a position which was inconsistent with the principles it seeks to defend. Obesity has become a major health problem and we must tackle the phenomenon in a firm and practical manner. This requires progressive and broad-minded measures to ensure that private sector operators are also involved in meeting public health objectives and improving the nutritional quality of food. The initial proposal, which Parliament chose to reject, called for the statement ‘now contains X% less of [nutrient]’ to be added to compulsory nutritional labelling. To employ this claim, a minimum reduction of 15% of the nutrient was required, and its use was limited to one year only, which would have encouraged the food industry to continue strengthening its efforts with regard to consumer transparency.
Ian Hudghton (Verts/ALE), in writing. – I welcome the Parliament’s rejection of the Commission’s proposals. Consumers must be provided with full and truthful information about their food and the Commission must now go back and draft a decent proposal. Claims on food labels about the health or nutritional benefits to consumers must be accurate and verifiable.
Philippe Juvin (PPE), in writing. – (FR) This resolution was submitted under the objection procedure against delegated acts adopted by the European Commission. I preferred to abstain from voting on this particularly sensitive issue. It is true that nutritional claims on food products have a genuine role to play in terms of public health. However, some of the claims that the Commission was calling for seem to undermine consumer protection.
Marian-Jean Marinescu (PPE), in writing. – (RO) I voted for the European Parliament resolution as it opposes the adoption of the draft Commission regulation amending Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006 with regard to the list of nutrition claims.
The purpose of the resolution tabled by Parliament is to force the Commission to come up with a better legislative proposal. The main problem with the current proposal is the possibility of displaying a reduction as ‘X% less sugar’ on food product packaging. In any case, this wording is clearly misleading. The reduction in sugar does not have any effect on the product’s energy content because the sugar will be substituted by other carbohydrates, which means that the total number of calories will remain the same. In addition, the wording ‘contains X% less’ would distort competition on the food industry market for products which already have a low sugar content, as such wording compares the product with itself and not with the whole group of similar food products.
David Martin (S&D), in writing. – I voted for this motion for a resolution, which states ‘whereas in the light of the underlying principles governing the selection of permitted nutrition claims on foodstuffs, as outlined above, the new nutrition claim proposed by the Commission ‘now contains X% less of [nutrient]’, to be included in the Annex to Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006, runs counter to the purpose and content of the basic instrument by being ambiguous, misleading and confusing to the average consumer;’.
Véronique Mathieu (PPE), in writing. – (FR) All recent studies show that excessive consumption of sugar is extremely harmful for the health. Links have even been established between sugar consumption and diseases such as cancer, or cardiovascular diseases. Diabetes and obesity also remain substantial health challenges. In this regard, it is crucial to inform consumers of what is in the food they eat, and encourage the production of foods that contain less fat and sugars. Therefore, the Commission proposal allowing product labels to state decreases in fat or sugar content compared with the previous version of the product was wise. It enabled consumers to be better informed and promoted the reduction of sugars and fats in food products.
Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. – (PT) Nutrition and health claims must not be false, ambiguous or misleading, and the use of nutrition and health claims can only be permitted if the average consumer can be expected to understand the beneficial effects as expressed in the claim. Therefore, comparative nutrition claims must compare the composition of the food in question with a range of foods of the same category, including foods of other brands. This means food information must not mislead the consumer as to the nature, properties and characteristics of a foodstuff.
Judith A. Merkies (S&D), in writing. – (NL) I am voting in favour of this resolution. It is important that consumers are well informed about the products that they buy so that they are in a position to make a balanced and responsible choice. They must be able to compare the content of products. The Commission proposal [B7-0000/2011] to allow claims such as ‘This product now contains X% less salt/fat, etc.’ provides consumers with insufficient information. In such claims, the product, after all, is only compared with itself, rather than with other similar products that might well actually have much lower contents of salt/fat, etc. Better regulation is required that both informs consumers properly and provides an impetus for manufacturers to develop better food. Giving manufacturers the opportunity to state on their packaging that their products have been improved can act as a stimulus for them to make positive changes.
Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. – In the resolution, the European Parliament opposes the adoption of the draft Commission regulation amending Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006 with regard to the list of nutrition claims and considers that the draft Commission regulation is not compatible with the purpose and content of the basic instrument. I voted in favour.
Radvilė Morkūnaitė-Mikulėnienė (PPE), in writing. – (LT) I believe that consumer safety is the most important objective that we need to strive for when adopting legislation on food labelling, which is impossible unless we ensure proper consumer awareness. Allowing one and the same characteristic (in this case, a reduction in the amount of nutrients) to be described in several claims is therefore a flawed practice. Such claims can be used even if other conditions that consumers expect are not satisfied (such as a reduction in the amount of calories in the case of reduced sugar). As this concerns the regulation on the provision of food information to consumers, this could probably even be treated as misleading consumers.
Tiziano Motti (PPE), in writing. – (IT) This Parliament does not doubt the European Commission’s good faith, but cannot hide its concerns about a proposal such as the one discussed in plenary today. Consumers want clear labelling and simple nutritional information, not marketing operations disguised as the protection of information rights. Claiming that a foodstuff ‘now contains X% less of [nutrient]’ might lead to unfair competition with regard to existing claims, such as ‘reduced [nutrient]’ and ‘light/lite’. Furthermore, in the latter case, a reduction of at least 10% (for micronutrients), 25% (for sodium) or 30% (for sugars/fats) by comparison with other similar products is required. Effectively, a consumer might assume that the quantified statement in the ‘now contains X% less of [nutrient]’ claim signifies a greater reduction than that implied by the ‘reduced [nutrient]’ or ‘light’ claims, despite the requirements being much stricter for the latter than for the ‘now contains X% less of [nutrient]’ claim, for which a minimum reduction of just 15% is specified. Therefore, I am pleased that Parliament has decided to send the proposal back to the Commission for amendments that will restore the balance of its primary objective.
Rareş-Lucian Niculescu (PPE), in writing. – (RO) I voted for the motion for a resolution because the wording ‘now contains X% less of [nutrient]’ is likely to mislead consumers who do not have the chance to compare with the product’s previous relevant composition. In these circumstances, the new wording proposed by the European Commission would be a retrograde step in relation to the regulations currently in force.
Rolandas Paksas (EFD), in writing. – (LT) I believe that it is appropriate to oppose the Commission’s new regulation, which aims to amend the list of nutrition claims. Above all, nutrition and health claims made on food products must not be ambiguous or misleading. Consumers must receive accurate and specific information about foodstuffs, their origin, properties and characteristics. It should be noted that comprehensive and correct information on a product enables consumers to compare it to other foodstuffs and choose the most suitable product that does not endanger their health. The amendments to the list of nutrition claims currently in force will not only have a negative impact on consumers, but will also distort competitive conditions considering products with claims that are used at present.
Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. – (PT) I voted for this resolution of the European Parliament, of 2 February 2012, stating Parliament’s opposition to the draft Commission regulation amending Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006 with regard to the list of nutrition claims. The European Parliament believes comparative nutrition claims must compare the composition of the food in question with a range of foods of the same category, including foods of other brands. Moreover, food information must not mislead the consumer as to the nature, properties and characteristics of a foodstuff. As such, the new nutrition claim proposed by the Commission ‘now contains X% less of [nutrient]’, to be included in the Annex to Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006, runs counter to the purpose and content of the basic instrument by being ambiguous, misleading and confusing to the average consumer. Parliament therefore calls on the Commission to submit an amended draft of the measure to the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety.
Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. – (PT) The Commission has tabled a draft regulation intended to amend Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006 with regard to the list of nutrition claims. Following analysis of the draft amendments set out in this draft regulation, the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety has identified a series of provisions that, if accepted, could mislead consumers about the characteristics of products on the market, which is why it is against adopting the regulation. In light of the evidence that these provisions violate the basic principles of consumer protection presented by the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety, I voted in favour.
Mitro Repo (S&D), in writing. – (FI) I voted in favour of this report as a matter of principle because I cannot accept the nutrition claim ‘now contains X% less of [nutrient]’. The labelling of products should not be misleading or ambiguous. This is especially important with food. The nutrition claim ‘now contains X% less of [nutrient]’ is questionable, since it allows for the nutritional values of a product to be compared only with a previous version of that product. It therefore does not take account of how high the nutrient’s starting level was. The risk is that what is, in fact, a very unhealthy product, can be made to sound healthy.
The claim ‘now contains X% less of [nutrient]’ is more a way to promote marketing than bring added value to consumer information. There are already claims regarding nutrient content on the market, such as ‘light/lite’ and ‘reduced [nutrient]’. The proposed nutrition claim would only cause additional confusion among consumers. For them, it is vitally important that labels on products are truthful and clearly comprehensible.
Robert Rochefort (ALDE), in writing. – (FR) Nutrition and health claims should only be allowed if they are true, unambiguous and not misleading. However, the new nutrition claim which was submitted to us (‘now contains X% less of [nutrient]’), could have been misleading for consumers. This claim involved reformulated products being compared with a previous version of the product, without the consumer necessarily knowing the starting level of the nutrient in question – this nutritional value could well be excessively high in comparison with other products on the market, which, not having been reformulated, would therefore not be allowed to bear a nutrition claim. A further problem is that we know that when sugars are reduced, consumers expect a reduction in energy. Yet the text would have allowed the ‘reduced fats/sugars’ claim to be made even when the product’s energy content was still equal to the energy contained in a similar product. Finally, the new claims might have led to confusion with existing claims, such as ‘reduced [nutrient]’ and ‘light/lite’, for which the requirements are, in fact, stricter. For these reasons, in this vote, I rejected the draft amendment of the regulation on nutrition claims.
Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – In favour. Whereas, as stated in Article 3 of Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006, the use of nutrition and health claims must not be false, ambiguous or misleading, the European Parliament 1. opposes adoption of the draft Commission regulation amending Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006 with regard to the list of nutrition claims; 2. considers that the draft Commission regulation is not compatible with the purpose and content of the basic instrument; 3. calls on the Commission to submit an amended draft of the measure to the committee.
Kārlis Šadurskis (PPE), in writing. – (LV) I voted for this motion for a resolution because I believe that the amendments proposed by the European Commission to the regulation on the list of nutrition claims are, in principle, misleading to the public and are mainly in the interests of large food producers. The amendments proposed by the European Commission, which would provide an opportunity to indicate on the packaging of food products the fact that they contain 15℅ less sugar, fats or salt, for example, would mislead purchasers about the real energy value and healthiness of products. With particular reference to sugar, it can be replaced with sweeteners, as a result of which the product’s energy value remains the same. It is important to protect the public from inappropriate product marketing and to ensure, as far as possible, that there are equal opportunities for competition between large and small enterprises. The amendments proposed by the European Commission would establish a more advantageous situation for large enterprises, since they can adjust to new regulations much more nimbly and flexibly than Europe’s small and medium-sized enterprises, such as those in Latvia.
Daciana Octavia Sârbu (S&D), in writing. – I voted in favour of this resolution and against the Commission’s proposed ‘x percent less’ claim. It is, of course, true that the food industry should be encouraged to reformulate foods to make them healthier, and that allowing the industry to demonstrate and ‘claim’ reformulation to their customers will drive this process. I do not think anybody really disputes that. The issue is precisely how the industry is allowed to communicate this information to consumers, or, in other words, the methodology behind the health claim. And the fact remains that, with this proposed health claim, a product claiming to have ‘x percent less’ fat could still have a very high fat content compared to similar products on the market. This is why a significant majority of us in this House believe that this claim is essentially misleading. I fully support the reformulation of foods as part of the EU’s strategy on nutrition, but the Commission, in cooperation with EFSA, must find a better way to drive reformulation through health claims.
Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. – (PT) Article 3 of Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006 states that nutrition and health claims must not be false, ambiguous or misleading, and it is important to enhance consumer awareness of the nature, properties and characteristics of foodstuffs. However, the aim of the new nutritional claim proposed by the Commission is to adopt a comparative measure such as ‘now contains X% less of [nutrient]’, which runs counter to the purpose and content of the basic instrument by being ambiguous, misleading and confusing to the average consumer. I would also highlight that comparing the nutritional values of a product to a previous version of the same product could lead to unfair competition with other products on the market, since a product that has not been reformulated, but is lower in a certain nutrient than the reformulated product of a different brand, will not be allowed to bear a nutrition claim. As such, I am voting for this report, which opposes adoption of the draft Commission regulation amending Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006. The Commission should submit a draft containing new measures to the European Parliament’s Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety.
Silvia-Adriana Ţicău (S&D), in writing. – (RO) I voted for the European Parliament resolution on amending Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006 with regard to the list of nutrition claims, which opposes the proposal for amending the regulation.
Food product information must not mislead the customer as to the nature, properties and characteristics of these products. The use of nutrition and health claims must be easy for the average consumer to understand. Unfortunately, in the proposal amending Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006 the Commission is suggesting a new nutrition claim to appear on food products as follows: ‘now contains X% less of [nutrient: sugars/fats, salt, etc.]. At the moment, there are already claims such as ‘reduced [nutrient]’ and ‘light/lite’. The ‘light/lite’ claim means a reduction of at least 10% (for micronutrients), 25% (for sodium) or 30% (for sugars/fats) in comparison with other similar products. The new wording being proposed is ambiguous, misleading and confusing for consumers and might act as a disincentive to producers to meet the requirements for the ‘reduced [nutrient]’ and ‘light/lite’ claims, as it is easier to reduce a nutrient by 15% than by 30%.
We call on the Commission to table a new proposal for amending the regulation which contains clear provisions on nutritional value and which will not be confusing for consumers.
Derek Vaughan (S&D), in writing. – This resolution had my support as I felt it unfair to mislead customers with wrong nutritional information. The proposed changes would have allowed ‘of X% less...’ on sugar, salt and fat content. This could have made food appear healthier than it actually is and make it harder to compare products. Our intention is to maintain a healthier population through encouraging companies to reduce the sugar, salt and fat content in food. The proposed changes would have instead provided a disincentive to improve the nutritional benefits. Labels should be kept as clear as possible, allowing consumers to choose food according to their true nutritional value.
Glenis Willmott (S&D), in writing. – I want food labels to be simple and honest about what is inside them. So today was a victory for consumers, as the European Parliament supported me and my colleagues from across Parliament who objected to a new ‘X% less’ nutrition claim on food labels. The proposed claim had the potential to be very misleading. Given the number of nutrition claims already allowed, it is already hard for consumers to know which product is the best for themselves and their family. In particular, the new claim could have caused confusion with the existing ‘reduced’ claim, which actually requires a larger reduction of 30%, and this must be in comparison with a range of similar products on the market rather than previous versions of the same product. Now that Parliament has said no to this claim, the Commission will have to rethink their approach. Nutrition claims should be used to allow consumers to make healthier choices, if they want to, and not as a marketing ploy. We want to encourage manufacturers to reformulate their products to make them healthier, but it has to be meaningful, and not misleading.
Marina Yannakoudakis (ECR), in writing. – I, like millions of other consumers, am confused every time I visit the supermarket. Labelling on food which tells me that an item contains 10% less salt or 20% fewer colourings is meant to be informative, yet, as often as not, such labels lead to mix-ups and misunderstandings. 10% less than what, I ask myself? That is also a question that this report has asked. I think that it has come up with the wrong answer. When I buy a packet of crisps telling me that it now contains 10% less fat, I assume that means that it contains 10% less fat than the previous recipe for the same product, rather than 10% less fat than a similar product. It is important that we all eat well and have the right information to be able to make the correct health choices, but this report makes things 100% more confusing rather than 100% clear.
Derek Roland Clark (EFD), in writing. – With my fellow UKIP MEPs, I abstained on this resolution because, although we agree with some elements, we strongly disagree with others, in particular, the imposition of a financial transaction tax. Since the only option was a single vote on the report in its entirety, we could not support the GUE/NGL proposal.
William (The Earl of) Dartmouth (EFD), in writing. – UKIP MEPs abstained on this resolution because, although we agree with some elements, we strongly disagree with others, in particular, the imposition of a financial transaction tax. Since the only option was a single vote on the report in its entirety, we could not support the GUE/NGL proposal.
Nigel Farage (EFD), in writing. – UKIP MEPs abstained on this resolution because, although we agree with some elements, we strongly disagree with others, in particular, the imposition of a financial transaction tax. Since the only option was a single vote on the report in its entirety, we could not support the GUE/NGL proposal.
David Martin (S&D), in writing. – I voted for this resolution, in which Parliament rejects the International Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance in the Economic and Monetary Union and the recent changes in the EMU architecture (Economic Governance, European Semester, Pact for the Euro plus) and states that it believes that these changes form the most reactionary, undemocratic and extreme neoliberal response to the current crisis.
Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. – In the resolution, the European Parliament reaffirms its resolution of 18 January 2012. It is very good. In the final text of the Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance in the Economic and Monetary Union, it would have been better to reach agreement under EU law. I am in favour.
Rolandas Paksas (EFD), in writing. – (LT) I welcome this resolution because not only is fiscal stability one of the main elements of overcoming the crisis, but it also strengthens solidarity and ensures sustainable growth and employment. Consequently, as well as applying existing measures, we need to establish new measures that would boost economic recovery. At European level it is therefore appropriate to establish a redemption fund, project bonds, a road map for stability bonds and the introduction of a financial transaction tax. I believe that Member States whose currency is not the euro should be given the right to fully participate in all euro summit meetings, not just those dealing with competitiveness, the global architecture of the euro area and fundamental rules. An international agreement on a Fiscal Stability Union is welcome in that it will take this into account and will aim for the objectives of sustainable growth, employment, competitiveness and social cohesion. The stipulation that the content of the agreement should be incorporated into the EU legal framework within five years is also very important.
Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. – (PT) The Confederal Group of the European United Left – Nordic Green Left has tabled a resolution that I do not support. This has happened because they consider it crucial that the Member States quickly adopt measures intended to stimulate economic growth and create job, which should pay particular attention to young people. Moreover, I support the International Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance in the Economic and Monetary Union, since it focuses on instruments different from those that contributed to exacerbating the current economic and financial crisis, ascribing particular attention to social cohesion, specifically generating wealth, creating jobs and combating poverty.
Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. – (PT) I am voting for this report. It would have been preferable if the Council had produced an agreement within the current EU legal framework, and I also regret that the United Kingdom prefers to remain outside this resolution. Despite the need to consolidate public accounts using deficit controls, I would reaffirm the urgent need to adopt measures encouraging growth and employment. As such, I eagerly await the Commission’s follow-up to the intentions that it expressed at this European Council.
Laima Liucija Andrikienė (PPE), in writing. – I voted in favour of this resolution concerning the conclusions of the informal European Council meeting of 30 January 2012. I support the criticising opinion of the European Parliament and I agree upon the proposed improvements to the final text of the conclusions. I agree with the common concerns that the UK maintains its objection on the final text of the Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance in the Economic and Monetary Union. The economic recovery requires measures to strengthen solidarity and boost sustainable growth and employment and insist that the European Council decides on concrete and far-reaching measures. I support the EP request for a further series of measures to ensure fiscal stability, and calls now for the establishment of a redemption fund, project bonds, a road map for stability bonds and the introduction of an FTT at European level, for which the Commission has already made a proposal. We Members of European Parliament point out that some further important elements are missing from the new agreement, such as the avoidance of double standards between the norms in the agreement and those in the Lisbon Treaty and contained in the acquis communautaire. We also insist and reiterate that EP participation in these negotiations is further extended.
Sophie Auconie (PPE), in writing. – (FR) I voted in favour of the motion for a resolution on the conclusions of the European Council meeting of 30 January 2012. As the rapporteur pointed out ‘all the elements contained in the new Treaty can be achieved, and to a large extent have already been achieved’ through European Parliament. It should indeed be stressed that several of the measures contained in the Treaty resulted from European Parliament debates. We are thus convinced that the European Parliament must play a decisive role in the economic governance that is currently being developed and therefore, we must be consulted on measures regarding stability, policy coordination and economic governance. Furthermore, there are two things I regret: firstly, that the final text does not take account of Parliament’s call for its President to be involved in euro area summits, and secondly, that the United Kingdom and the Czech Republic were unwilling to ally with us on this issue. As Joseph Daul, the Chair of my political group, the Group of the European People's Party (Christian Democrats), pointed out, the Treaty must now be signed, ratified and integrated into the EU Treaties ‘as quickly as possible’.
Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D), in writing. – (LT) I welcomed this resolution. The fiscal stability of the EU and its Member States is an important element of resolving the current crisis, and the new Fiscal Treaty will provide a framework for the new principles of coordinating and monitoring the economies of the EU Member States. The European Parliament has managed to ensure the inclusion of very important provisions in the final text of the Treaty, particularly as regards the participation of non-euro area Member States in euro area summits. So far, we have managed to negotiate the right to take part in those meetings dealing with competitiveness, the global architecture of the euro area and the fundamental rules that will apply to these Member States in future, but I believe that there should no longer be restrictions on the participation of non-euro area Member States in other meetings. Apart from this Treaty, other urgent measures still need to be taken, a financial transaction tax must be introduced at European level, and the European Union needs to establish its own credit rating agency.
Elena Băsescu (PPE), in writing. – (RO) I voted for this resolution because I welcome the improvements made to the draft Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance in the Economic and Monetary Union during the European Council meeting on 30 January 2012. I think that the commitments made on budgetary discipline will bring about the fiscal stability required for a sustainable economic recovery. The restriction on the public debt and budget deficit of the States party to the Treaty will create the conditions for genuine prosperity based on economic development and not on loans. I also welcome the commitments made by the Heads of State or Government to boost economic growth by creating new jobs and reducing unemployment, especially among young people. I think that it is very appropriate to use EU funds to support the creation of SMEs. I also welcome the initiative to use unspent EU funds as security for young entrepreneurs to obtain bank loans. In the case of Romania, which is lacking in its absorption of EU funds, these measures are particularly useful because it will make it possible for the unspent funds that are allocated to be used to create SMEs and generate new jobs. I hope that the European Council meeting in March will adopt a consistent plan for implementing these decisions, including specific programmes for stimulating employment.
Regina Bastos (PPE), in writing. – (PT) While the European Parliament was not initially very receptive to adopting this agreement, we have managed to improve the latest version of the text and secure the inclusion in the Treaty of the objectives of economic growth and job creation in the European Union. The Member States need to stabilise their public finances. Austerity measures and budgetary stability are only part of the solution to the crisis. Europe is facing an ageing population while, on the other hand, the youth unemployment rate has never been so high, meaning the Member States are facing enormous challenges. The Member States need to implement structural reforms in order to overcome these obstacles. Europe should also focus on measures leading to economic growth and on promoting competitiveness. I therefore voted for this resolution. However, there is also a need to establish a bailout fund quickly, to create Eurobonds and to introduce an EU-level financial transaction tax.
Jean-Luc Bennahmias (ALDE), in writing. – (FR) Who could ignore the fact that the EU is currently in the throes of a deep crisis, which is not only an economic and social one, but a global one and even one in which the EU has lost its direction? Yet, our Heads of State or Government persist along the path which has widened the gap between the people of the EU and the EU itself. After having ignored EU citizens’ referendum votes on the Constitutional Treaty, they signed a new Treaty amongst themselves, which was negotiated practically behind closed doors and focused on austerity and budgetary discipline. There has been no real inclusion of the European Parliament, no public debate and no cooperation with national parliaments. Moreover, in terms of content, there is nothing on growth or future investment. As I said during the vote on our previous resolution, I am more than doubtful about this new Treaty. I therefore voted against today’s resolution as I feel that it is not critical enough of this Treaty that is being presented to us as the only possible route. As well as being quite useless in content (since many of the measures can be achieved through EU law) and incomplete (for it lacks balance between austerity and growth), it is highly questionable in form: if we want to regain the faith of EU citizens, this is surely not the way to go about it.
Mara Bizzotto (EFD), in writing. – (IT) As at the plenary session in January, the resolution proposes expansion of the Community method, which will result in a further reduction in the sovereignty of Member States. There is criticism of the stance adopted by the UK in opposing the latest centralist development in the European legislative and institutional architecture. However, I agree that an alternative route needs to be found to that taken thus far. The crisis is also a result of EU centralisation, unwieldy European bureaucracy and machinery, and the authoritarian centralism that reigns supreme in Brussels. We will be able to recover from the crisis if Europe chooses the path of freedom, not centralism. I voted against the resolution.
Vilija Blinkevičiūtė (S&D), in writing. – (LT) I voted in favour of this European Parliament resolution because the kind of message that we send the half a billion people living in the European Union on the situation in the EU, the economic situation and improved governance is very important. The European Parliament (EP) recognises that fiscal stability is an important element of resolving the current crisis, but stresses that economic recovery requires measures to strengthen solidarity and boost sustainable growth and employment. The EP welcomes the fact that the European Council now recognises this but insists that concrete and far-reaching measures are needed. We need to understand that simply making savings is not enough to overcome the crisis in the European Union. In order to ensure fiscal stability, the European Parliament proposes not just making use of the series of measures provided for, but establishing project bonds, a road map for stability bonds and introducing a financial transaction tax at European level, for which the Commission has already made a proposal. Furthermore, the EP insists that the contracting parties fully respect their commitment to integrate, within a maximum period of five years, the Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance into the EU Treaties and asks for the remaining weaknesses of the Treaty of Lisbon to be tackled on this occasion.
Nikolaos Chountis (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (EL) In today’s vote, I voted against the joint motion for a resolution tabled by the political groups (Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats), Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament, Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe, Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance). The measures contained in the international agreement fail to address the main causes of the economic crisis. On the contrary, they institutionalise the austerity policies currently being applied which put Europe in recession and its citizens in economic and social poverty. Furthermore, based on the international agreement, the facility to exercise an alternative fiscal policy is denied to democratically elected governments. This is a scandal. The joint motion not only fails to reject the international agreement; it supports the recent changes to the architecture of EMU (economic governance, European Semester, Euro Plus Pact). The changes in question are the most reactionary, anti-democratic and extreme neoliberal response to the current crisis. The GUE/NGL Group tabled an alternative motion rejecting the measures in the international agreement and highlighting the need for Europe to move towards real solidarity, predicated on full employment, socio-economic growth, social cohesion and environmental protection.
Anna Maria Corazza Bildt (PPE), in writing. – (SV) At the European Parliament’s sitting in Brussels on 2 February, we Swedish Conservatives and Christian Democrats voted in favour of the resolution on the conclusions of the European Council meeting of 30 January. We support the resolution, with the exception of the proposals concerning joint debt issuance and the introduction of a financial transaction tax. What we need now instead is budgetary discipline and structural reforms for increased growth, both in the Member States and in the EU as a whole.
Andrea Cozzolino (S&D), in writing. – (IT) First of all, I must point out that I intend to vote in favour of the resolution, even if only in order to maintain the unity of Parliament and to strengthen the position of its President within the European institutions. In this sense, I appreciate the reference to the failure to involve the President of Parliament in the informal meetings held as part of the European summits, an infringement of rights that should be quite rightly condemned and deplored.
The problem is also one of defending and reinforcing the positions of political groups fighting for a united Europe, which are confident that the crisis can only be satisfactorily resolved if tackled in a unified manner and if the risk of nationalistic, egotistical breakaway tendencies is prevented. Every day, these groups, particularly in some areas of continental Europe, have to deal with demagogical and populist propaganda that denigrates the EU and its institutions. Our vote is also one of support for these forces.
However, it is also important to emphasise that Europe cannot be bound up and represented only by the austerity measures in the ‘six-pack’, a measure we opposed because we felt it was wrong, and which we still believe to be both incomplete and inadequate. We are therefore voting for a strong and united Europe that will once more combine growth and social equity.
Rachida Dati (PPE) , in writing. – (FR) I was pleased that the European Parliament was given the opportunity to be involved in the discussion on the Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance in the Economic and Monetary Union. However, I did not want to vote in favour of a resolution which expresses reservations on a process whose importance and urgency to me seem clear. That is why I chose to abstain from this vote, just as I abstained during the vote on the resolution of 18 January 2012.
Christine De Veyrac (PPE), in writing. – (FR) This resolution wrongly upholds a number of criticisms from the European Parliament against the Council, whose efforts to rapidly improve budgetary discipline should be supported. I could therefore not support this text. However, neither could I support those who refuse and reject all form of budgetary discipline: the current crisis is one of public spending and will be overcome by greater collective discipline. I therefore decided to abstain from voting on this resolution.
Edite Estrela (S&D), in writing. – (PT) I voted for the resolution on ‘conclusions of the informal European Council meeting of 30 January 2012’, since I believe the final text of the agreement improves some aspects of the initial text: some amendments proposed by Parliament have been incorporated, particularly as regards application of the Community method and the commitment to incorporate the content of the agreement into the EU legal framework within five years. However, I believe it would have been desirable to reach an agreement within EU law that included measures for the relaunch of the economy, and for the promotion of sustainable growth and employment.
Göran Färm, Anna Hedh, Olle Ludvigsson, Jens Nilsson, Marita Ulvskog and Åsa Westlund (S&D), in writing. – (SV) We Swedish Social Democrats have serious doubts about paragraph 9 concerning the integration of the new Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance in the Economic and Monetary Union into EU legislation.
Firstly, the wording in this paragraph gives an erroneous picture of the commitments that have actually been made within the framework of the pact. The Treaty (Article 16) does not state that it is to be integrated into the EU Treaties, but rather that its substance is to be incorporated into the legal framework of the EU.
Secondly, we cannot support the general call in paragraph 9 for a review of the Treaty of Lisbon with a view to tackling its weaknesses. Such a review is neither desirable nor necessary.
We would also question whether the rapid procedure in relation to the redemption fund that is advocated in paragraph 5 is really realistic.
Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. – (PT) The European Parliament rightly disagreed with the choice of the Heads of State or Government to move towards a treaty to strengthen the Union’s economic governance that is under international law and outside EU law. However, important gains have been made as regards greater integration with the ‘six-pack’ and the commitment to apply the Community method in the latest version of the International Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance in the Economic and Monetary Union, adopted by the Council on 30 January 2012. We are awaiting rapid and concrete action towards establishing the European Stability Mechanism as a permanent bailout fund with increased financial strength, so as to safeguard the euro’s stability. It is crucial that the commitment to growth and employment succeed, since austerity and budgetary consolidation without economic growth risks being a remedy that will not resolve the ills that we are suffering.
José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. – (PT) The informal European Council was held on 30 January, and was attended by the Heads of State or Government of the European Union. In addition to the adoption of the International Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance in the Economic and Monetary Union, measures were approved relating to economic growth and job creation. The current economic and financial crisis is dragging on, obliging the Member States to adopt drastic measures to combat the deficit, with significant reductions in sums for investment, the consequences of which are reflected in increased unemployment rates, particularly amongst young people, and a lack of economic growth. The number of young adults under 25 years of age has already passed the 5.5 million mark, which is 22% of the total number of unemployed. I therefore welcome the increased rate of contribution to European programmes, and the series of measures intended to promote youth employment and support small and medium-sized enterprises. I voted for the proposal under consideration, since this was a very important summit, which was crucial to the future of the EU and was governed by a consensual approach to policies geared towards growth and employment. The foundations for emerging from the crisis have, therefore, been laid.
João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (PT) It is significant that the majority in Parliament is concerned, not with the fiscal compact or the perpetuation of aggression against workers and peoples and against national sovereignty that it represents, but only with the method and, in particular, with their own participation in the process. With the necessary cosmetic changes made, which guarantee the European Parliament its customary role of decorative element throughout the process, they are now ready to accept the inevitable.
For anyone who was unsure about the role of the political groups that signed up to this resolution: the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats), the Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe, the Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance and the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament; this is another real example of how the almost perfect, albeit at times contradictory, harmony regarding the EU’s course remains unchanged. Not even all the play acting, manipulation and propaganda manoeuvres can erase their role in a process that, if not stopped, will only lead the people and the EU itself into the abyss. However, we face the future with unshakeable faith in the struggle and its escalation in many EU countries, certain that, sooner rather than later, this policy and this course will be defeated.
Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D), in writing. – (SK) Monday’s meeting of European leaders was not only informal; I might even call it essentially pointless. The so-called fiscal compact that was discussed will certainly not lead the European Union out of crisis. Austerity and cuts will take us into recession. Ultimately, due to this economic decline, it will then be even harder to pay back debts and they will become an increasing burden.
Although the meeting finally began to discuss the need to restart growth and employment, it was still inadequate and weak. Whereas cost-cutting measures almost look like law, the initiative for growth and employment has remained in the form of a general challenge. From a European perspective, such behaviour is extremely unfortunate. The growth initiative is weak. The role of Parliament in negotiating and deciding these key matters is minimised. However, Europe must remain united and stick to democratic principles and existing legal frameworks.
It is essential that we look for resources that can be sensibly invested in economic recovery. Unused resources from the EU’s Structural Funds, the tax on financial transactions, a stronger EIB, and European bonds.
These are the issues that the summits should be addressing. They will be worthless if this does not happen, and the Union does not have much time left.
Lidia Joanna Geringer de Oedenberg (S&D), in writing. – The outcomes of the EU summit of 30 January, 2012 were received with mixed reactions by colleagues. From my perspective, I welcome the announcement on the new fiscal treaty and hope it will be implemented without further delays. The Council’s decision to focus on growth as a complementary means to austerity is essential, since strict budgetary rules alone cannot solve the deepening of the crisis. Supporting SMEs, entrepreneurship and self-employment initiatives are the only way to encourage economic expansion, job creation and improving the EU’s long-term competitiveness. On the other hand, I deplore the fact only 25 Members rather than the whole EU decided to join the treaty. Because the agreed treaty does not really guarantee fiscal stability, coordinated action between all 27 EU Members is needed to restore investment and growth to Europe. Another point of contrast to EU shared solidarity is the exclusion of the European Parliament from participating in future meetings on EU governance. As a directly elected body, the European Parliament must be involved on a basis of equality with other EU institutions. Trying to address remaining challenges – the question of Greece for example – what we really need is leadership, flexibility and, above all, unity.
Catherine Grèze (Verts/ALE), in writing. – (FR) Just as I expressed my reservations concerning the European Parliament’s joint resolution on the conclusions of the European Council meeting of 8-9 December 2011, this time I voted against the joint resolution on the conclusions of the European Council meeting of 30 January 2012. Indeed, even though the proposed resolution, once again, stresses the fact that the Community method is the only way that a genuine economic and budgetary Union can be implemented and that budgetary discipline alone cannot solve Europe’s economic and financial crisis, the text does not call for a reassessment of the international agreement on a Fiscal Stability Union which Heads of State or Government approved this Monday. We need to tackle the underlying causes of the crisis by reassessing neoliberal policies and denounce the restrictive austerity mechanism with which current and future governments of Member States will have to comply. We also need to underline the extreme technocracy that is being applied in the agreement, which will, in fact, widen the gap between European institutions and European citizens, and finally, we need to point out that the draft agreement will institutionalise a two-speed Europe, with Member States who are party to the agreement, on the one hand, and those who are not, on the other.
Françoise Grossetête (PPE), in writing. – (FR) The Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance in the Economic and Monetary Union enhances budgetary discipline and I welcome that. As such, the Treaty gives greater legal strength to the golden rule on a return to balanced public finances. French socialists and Mr Hollande have been warned: none of the 25 Member States party to the Treaty will be able to escape the objective of balanced budgets and failing to meet it will lead to sanctions being imposed by the European Court of Justice.
I regret, however, the fact that, in forgetting to commend the political will shown by Nicolas Sarkozy and Angela Merkel, this resolution adopted by Parliament does not acknowledge the significant progress that has been made to enable this new Treaty to be implemented.
Gunnar Hökmark (PPE), in writing. – (SV) At the European Parliament’s sitting in Brussels on 2 February, we Swedish Conservatives and Christian Democrats voted in favour of the resolution on the conclusions of the European Council meeting of 30 January 2012. We support the resolution with the exception of the proposals concerning joint debt issuance and the introduction of a financial transaction tax. What we need now instead is budgetary discipline and structural reforms for increased growth, both in the Member States and in the EU as a whole.
Brice Hortefeux (PPE), in writing. – (FR) The Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance, approved by 25 Heads of State or Government, marks a huge step towards stabilising our economies and constitutes an effective tool for tackling the financial crisis and restoring confidence. France, along with its partners, is committed to balanced budgets, convergence and the coordination of European economic policies, as the vitality of the French economy also depends on that of the euro area as a whole. Of course, much work still remains to be done. We in the European Parliament, alongside national parliaments, should be able to be involved in and have our say in debates that have budgetary implications for us. Some of the Treaty’s provisions allow for this, and it is through such an approach that a European Parliament delegation was invited to participate in the negotiations of 30 January 2012. However, this resolution does not give sufficient recognition to the progress that this new text has enabled. In reiterating its support for the resolution of 18 January 2012, against which I spoke out, it makes criticisms which are, in my view, excessive. That is why I chose to abstain.
Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. – (LT) Fiscal stability is an important element of resolving the current crisis, but economic recovery requires measures to strengthen solidarity and boost sustainable growth and employment. I welcome the fact that the European Council recognises this, but it is not taking concrete and far-reaching action. I therefore abstained from voting. I also did this because several important elements are still missing from the new agreement: firstly, the avoidance of double standards between the norms in the agreement and those in the Lisbon Treaty and contained in the acquis communautaire, and secondly, all the contracting parties to the agreement, present and future members of the euro, should have the same right to fully participate in all euro summit meetings. Euro summit meetings should be in extended format. We all have to aim for fiscal stability, economic recovery, boosting solidarity and sustainable growth, as well as the employment of our citizens.
Philippe Juvin (PPE), in writing. – (FR) The joint resolution on the conclusions of the European council meeting of 30 January 2012 was adopted by 443 votes to 124, with 75 abstentions. I, along with four other fellow Members of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats), voted against this resolution. While this text suggests some interesting initiatives, such as the establishment of a redemption fund and the introduction of a tax on financial transactions, it must be said that it once again calls into question the usefulness of the new Treaty which, let us not forget, came about thanks to the involvement and determination of the French President of the Republic and the German Chancellor.
Krišjānis Kariņš (PPE), in writing. – (LV) I supported the resolution on the European Council meeting of 30 January 2012 because it stressed the role of the intergovernmental agreement on economic governance. This intergovernmental agreement calls for discipline to be observed by European Union (EU) Member States in setting their budgets. Such measures are necessary in order to restore investor confidence in Europe. Forecasts for the future in other EU States and in Europe as a whole also have an impact on Latvia’s credit rating. Stability in Europe is important to Latvia, so that its purchasing power on all export markets may increase, and in order to prevent the banking sector and, consequently, access to loans, from being jeopardised. Europe must now carry out the reforms that Latvia and its people have already made.
Constance Le Grip (PPE) , in writing. – (FR) I chose to abstain from voting on the resolution on the conclusions of the European Council meeting of 30 January 2012 and the draft Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance in the Economic and Monetary Union. I fully endorse the European Council statements and am keen to express my satisfaction with the conclusion of the treaty. The strengthening of European economic governance and budgetary stability, prior to the implementation of financial solidarity introduced by this treaty, are, in my view, strong political actions. At the same time, I regret the fact that Parliament’s resolution, adopted on 2 February 2012, refers to its previous resolution, adopted on 18 January 2012, in which it expressed doubts over the relevance of this draft treaty and criticised the proposed institutional structure. Similarly, I regret that the resolution adopted by Parliament on 2 February 2012 expresses reservations regarding the format of euro area summits set out by the treaty, which, on this matter, again seems to me to be appropriate.
Patrick Le Hyaric (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (FR) The joint resolution tabled by the conservative right wing, the liberals, the socialists, and the greens contains numerous contradictions. In fact, these serve to cover up the new Treaty’s existence or to implement its highly dangerous content. Worse still, the joint resolution simply deems the new European Treaty unnecessary, as its requirements could be implemented through the Treaty of Lisbon. This ultimately amounts to approving it. I therefore voted against this text, which is being implemented without national parliaments’ opinions, without consulting European citizens, and following a negative decision by Parliament itself a few weeks ago. I demand that the public be consulted, namely, where constitutions allow, by way of referendums.
Jean-Marie Le Pen (NI), in writing. – (FR) The Merkozy duo has managed to impose its ‘golden rule’ throughout almost all of the EU. This genuine austerity plan aims to sanction Member States that fail to meet the budgetary discipline requirements set by Brussels. The EU will thus introduce a genuine cycle of public finance surveillance that will take place annually, from spring. Mr Van Rompuy spoke to us of growth and investment in employment, but ultimately, the only thing to come out of this Treaty is a policy aimed at killing off growth and imposing oversight on national budgets. Not long ago, the Maastricht Treaty deprived us of our monetary sovereignty; now it is our budgetary sovereignty that is being taken away from us. This Treaty sacrifices European nations’ desire for self-determination on the altar of European economic federalism. It is a victory for financial markets and ratings agencies over the EU Member States. The European Parliament’s solutions will only bring more suffering to EU citizens who have already been severely affected by its policies. That is why we voted against this resolution.
Bogusław Liberadzki (S&D), in writing. – (PL) The outcome of the informal meeting of the European Council was the subject of a debate within the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament. This outcome was received critically. We are still of the opinion that the fiscal compact does not strengthen the Community method, but rather replaces it with the intergovernmental method. We are critical of measures that diminish the role and relevance of non-euro area Member States. The question arises as to why Poland, for example, a country in which the economy is growing and workers are making numerous sacrifices, and where unemployment is still a problem – which implies that the nation is not living above its means – should be treated any worse than other countries that are experiencing difficulties, but are being favoured simply because they are members of the euro area. The role of the European Parliament in this new fiscal compact is a matter for concern. I voted in favour of the resolution drafted by the four political groups, as it reflects my position on the matter.
Marisa Matias and Miguel Portas (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (PT) I voted against this resolution. Although the resolution criticises the International Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance in the Economic and Monetary Union, particularly for the lack of measures fostering sustainable growth and promoting employment, the truth is that it ends up accepting it. The resolution also calls for the creation of project bonds and a financial transaction tax as measures for achieving budgetary stability. That is a reasonable concern. However, the document is marked by its acquiescence to an agreement that legitimises the inclusion of deficit ceilings in national constitutions, so making Keynesian policies and the very idea of socialism illegal. In this light, the confusion that this international agreement introduces to the EU legal system is a minor problem in comparison to the authoritarian philosophy that marks the Treaty of the 25.
Mairead McGuinness (PPE), in writing. – I voted in favour of this resolution which outlines and supports the conclusions of the Council informal summit on 30 January 2012 during which a new Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance in the Economic and Monetary Union was finalised by 25 of the 27 Member States. The Treaty aims to strengthen fiscal discipline through the introduction of stricter surveillance and more automatic sanctions and, in particular, through the ‘balanced budget rule’.
Jean-Luc Mélenchon (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (FR) The joint resolution tabled by the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats), the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament, the Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe and the Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance confirms their agreement with the content of the Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance in the Economic and Monetary Union. It states that their representatives will approve and apply the strengthened golden rule and its integration into the constitutions of Member States.
As for the ratification of the Treaty, the idea of it having to be put to public vote by way of referendums once again goes completely unmentioned. I must denounce the doctrinal blindness of all those who advocate a liberal economy and austerity by voting in favour of or abstaining from voting on this text. For my group and I, the choice is clear: we are against.
Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. – (PT) The Council should make an effort to find a solution to the sovereign debt crisis currently being experienced by the EU, and it should preferably be supported by everyone. The United Kingdom does not support one of the main points relating to this specific Council, which is regrettable. I consider it important that Parliament, in the shape of its President, be present at future meetings.
Vital Moreira (S&D), in writing. – (PT) I voted for the resolution on the new treaty, known as the ‘fiscal compact’, because I agree with it in broad terms. However, I have three objections, albeit isolated ones. Firstly, I consider it an exaggeration to state that ‘virtually all the elements’ of the treaty can be achieved within the framework of the EU Treaties in force, thus rendering this new treaty unnecessary. In truth, its most important items – first and foremost, the obligation for Member States to include binding rules on balanced budgets in their domestic legal systems – could not be the subject of EU legislation. Secondly, I agree that the treaty does not solve the Union’s current budgetary and economic crisis, but nor is that its purpose; rather, it is intended to prevent future crises. The present budgetary crisis could not be overcome without assuring creditors now that there will not be others in the future. Thirdly, while I entirely agree that a genuine ‘fiscal union’ is much more than budgetary discipline, also including the issue of joint loans for both the national budgets and the Union budget, I do not think it possible to omit the requirement for tax harmonisation. The very idea of the internal market is incompatible with ‘fiscal competition’ and ‘tax dumping’.
Jan Mulder (ALDE), in writing. – (NL) I voted in favour of this resolution even though I do not agree with the content of point 6.
Younous Omarjee (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (FR) Far from enabling an exit from the crisis, this agreement is an exasperated and forced submission by European Member States who reason in financial and speculative terms that hinder the proper functioning of our societies and the well-being of the people in them. Mr Sarkozy and Ms Merkel have imposed an ideological diktat on the other governments and on everybody in the EU without consulting citizens and have even bypassed the usual constitutional amendment process, for which each Member State has its own, particular rules. Along with my fellow Members from the Confederal Group of the European United Left – Nordic Green Left, I have signed and tabled an alternative motion for a resolution. Our resolution is the only one to clearly reject this democratic show of strength that threatens to destroy the sovereignty of the peoples; it is the only one which clearly opposes the introduction of a new rule which sets the figure for Member States’ structural deficits at 0.5% of nominal GDP and which will, in fact, result in permanent austerity throughout the whole of Europe; again, it is the only one to object to the proposed sanctions and to call for public consultation on this matter. I therefore voted in favour of the resolution that my Group and I tabled, and against the consensus held by the liberals, conservatives, socialist and the greens on this agreement.
Alfredo Pallone (PPE), in writing. – (IT) The resolution of the Group of the European People’s Party (PPE Group) on the Council’s conclusions of 30 January, for which I voted, aims to highlight Parliament’s position with regard to the Council. The agreement reached can, and certainly should, be improved, but in the meantime, it is important to emphasise that a step has been taken in the right direction. The agreement on the fiscal compact reached by 25 out of 27 Member States attempts to bring government debt to within reasonable levels and to ensure that Member States manage to balance their budgets. It will probably be necessary to have an internal EU budget that moves towards a Union of European Member States that really will be capable of tackling crises, but, little by little, it seems that we are moving in the right direction.
Marit Paulsen, Olle Schmidt and Cecilia Wikström (ALDE), in writing. – (SV) We chose to vote in favour of the resolution, despite the passage in paragraph 6 concerning the introduction of a financial transaction tax in Europe. We do not think it is a good idea for Europe to introduce this tax itself without the United States and other financial centres doing the same. We consider there to be a big risk that the stabilising effects that we hope a financial transaction tax will have on the financial market will not be realised if the EU introduces such a tax independently. The risk of trade in shares, bonds and options transferring instead to less transparent and less open markets outside Europe is great. The proposal to introduce a European financial transaction tax is far too risky.
Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. – (PT) I voted for this resolution, which contains the European Parliament’s conclusions on the European Council of 30 January 2012. The most important of the aforementioned conclusions is Parliament’s recognition that budgetary stability is an important element of resolving the current crisis, but that relaunching the economy requires measures to increase solidarity and to promote sustainable growth and employment. The European Council already acknowledges this issue, but it is not going too far to stress the need for concrete and wide-ranging measures in this area.
Franck Proust (PPE), in writing. – (FR) I am delighted that the European Parliament has shown strong support for the new European treaty. This is an historic turning point: it will set the balanced budget rule in stone, thereby strengthening mutual trust between Member States. The economic governance for which we Members of the European Parliament have been calling for a long time is now becoming a reality. Nicolas Sarkozy and Angela Merkel have been hard at work from the beginning. The Franco-German pair shared the same view of the situation and proposed the same solution: if we are to recover from the economic crisis, we need to clean up our finances. The recovery will only happen if we lay solid foundations. My continuous support for this strategy has always been based on this idea. Whilst the vast majority of European governments have been pragmatic in their support for the treaty, I note that the French socialists have isolated themselves once again within their own European political family. They have not succeeded in imposing their wish to renegotiate the treaty. It makes one question the credibility of their revolutionary ideas for a ‘strong France within a strong Europe’.
Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. – (PT) The new International Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance in the Economic and Monetary Union, agreed at the European Council of 30 January, is far from the ideal solution, since it represents the strengthening of intergovernmentalism at the expense of the Community method. Whatever the case, it is important to remember that the final text represents a step forward, despite everything, and that it has been possible to make some of the amendments proposed by the European Parliament, so as to frame this treaty with the Community method to a greater extent: first and foremost, the commitment to incorporating the content of the treaty into the EU legal framework, but also the acknowledgement of the right of contracting parties with a currency other than the euro to participate in summits on the euro relating to the competitiveness and overall architecture of the euro area. Despite this progress, however, it should be stressed that solving this crisis will not just involve budgetary stability: there is also a need to move towards measures to increase solidarity among the Member States, and to promote growth and employment.
Mitro Repo (S&D), in writing. – (FI) I voted in favour of this important resolution as a matter of principle. The intergovernmental agreement that has now been signed is not the answer to the present crisis in Europe. The agreement may be described in three words: pointless, ineffective and wrong. It is fortunately ineffective, because it could have done more harm than good.
Although the EU Council did achieve a declaration on growth, Europe lacks concrete solutions on how to get out of the current recession and economic crisis. The European Parliament, which represents Europe’s 500 million citizens, is not party to this agreement. Such a move does not unite Europe: it only serves to divide it further. In spite of this, Parliament got involved, and was able to influence almost every section of the agreement.
I am not opposed to financial discipline in Europe: indeed, I want to have a debate on accountability, growth and jobs. This agreement on ‘stability, coordination and governance’ does not represent European parliamentarianism. It would perhaps be more apt to call it the ‘EU2’ Treaty. The danger is that the European Parliament will take the place of national parliaments. It is time to look ahead and start to think about solutions to the present crisis. In Europe, we need growth, jobs and socially sustainable development.
Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – (ES) I voted against this resolution as it is a useless resolution for a useless agreement. The European Parliament had already requested that measures be taken under the Community method and a democratic stance be adopted to decide how to strengthen economic governance. The Member States did not want to heed that request and signed the so-called ‘Fiscal Pact’, which not only weakens our democratic institutions, but also enshrines economic measures that will not get us out of the crisis. The resolution approved in Parliament today is irrelevant, despite the fact that it recognises the importance of incorporating a tax on financial transactions and project bonuses, as it does not propose an innovative and more specific response to the crisis. The European Parliament should take a stand and demand a democratic process for exiting the crisis.
Sergio Paolo Francesco Silvestris (PPE), in writing. – (IT) The latest Council summit meeting discussed many measures of major importance. However, the most important of these is, without a doubt, the international agreement on the fiscal compact. As an Italian citizen, I am very pleased with this agreement that expresses faith in the euro area. The 17 countries with the euro will now meet at least twice a year, but at least once a year (and every time there are discussions about issues relating to the ‘institutional architecture’) they will have to open up to the other Member States. The summit also has the merit of having opened up discussions on an equally important issue, that of growth and employment, two key areas for relaunching the economies of all the Member States.
Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. – (PT) During the debate in the European Parliament, the President of the European Commission said that it is extremely positive that 25 Member States have signed up to the fiscal compact, and that this agreement will help to clarify the role of the institutions and strengthen the Community method. The new International Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance in the Economic and Monetary Union should guarantee greater stability, since budgetary discipline will be stepped up and penalties will be automatically applied to countries failing to meet their targets. It is also important to stress inclusion in the constitution or similar legislation of the so-called ‘golden rule’, designed for structural deficits not to exceed 0.5% of gross domestic product (GDP) and for public debt to be below 60% of GDP. I am voting for this resolution because I fully agree that the European institutions and relevant Member States should adopt concrete measures intended to stimulate economic growth, to finance small and medium-sized enterprises, to create jobs, and to improve the workings of the single market. I agree with the resolution in advocating the creation of stability bonds and the approval of a financial transaction tax, better known as the Tobin tax.
Alexandra Thein (ALDE), in writing. – (DE) I abstained from voting on paragraph 6 of the motion for a resolution on the meeting of the European Council of 30 January 2012, calling for a road map for the introduction of stability bonds. I believe that such a road map would be wrong at present because it would simply ‘reward’ the excessive indebtedness of some Member States and lead to the morally unjustifiable joint and several liability of other Member States. Naturally, in the distant future, the euro area is interested in a joint liquid bond market as an alternative to the market for US dollar bonds, making the euro an internationally secure currency and replacing the dollar in this respect. The right conditions for such a move are still very far off, because, at present, some southern European Member States have no understanding of reasonable budgetary, fiscal and stability policies.
Silvia-Adriana Ţicău (S&D), in writing. – (RO) I voted for the European Parliament resolution of 2 February on the European Council of 30 January 2012, in which Parliament takes note of the final text of the Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance in the Economic and Monetary Union and stresses the need for concrete measures aimed at economic recovery and boosting sustainable growth and employment.
The Treaty incorporates amendments previously requested by Parliament, in particular: an undertaking that the Community method will fully apply and that stability, coordination and governance will be implemented via secondary legislation, fully involving Parliament; recognition of the rights of the contracting parties whose currency is not the euro to take part in the euro summit meetings dealing with competitiveness, the global architecture of the euro area and the fundamental rules that will apply to it in future; the addition of a reference to the objectives of sustainable growth, employment, competitiveness and social cohesion; a commitment to incorporate the content of the agreement into the EU legal framework within five years.
Parliament insists that economic recovery requires measures to strengthen solidarity and boost sustainable growth and employment. We call for the President of the Parliament to be extended a standing invitation and to participate fully in the euro area summit meetings.
Rafał Trzaskowski (PPE), in writing. – (PL) On the one hand, the resolution highlights how much was achieved during the negotiations in terms of minimising the impact of the harmful provisions included in initial proposals, which were detrimental also to the European Parliament. On the other hand, the resolution still comprises a long list of our proposals, which the Member States have not taken into consideration or have considered only partially, such as, for example, the full participation in EU summits of countries with temporary derogations. The provisions of the fiscal compact are the result of a far-reaching compromise; much will depend on its implementation. The European Parliament’s task is to observe this process and to make sure that it protects the Community interest.
Derek Vaughan (S&D), in writing. – The governance treaty agreed by the European Council on Monday was, without question, a better solution than the previous agreement. It now takes into account issues that I feel are vital; the need to focus more on growth, demonstrating fiscal restraint and working within the normal EU system wherever possible. However, these improvements were somewhat overshadowed by the fact that, as stressed in the passed resolution, it would have been better to have reached an agreement under normal EU law. I sincerely hope that the European Council will take note of the concerns raised by the Parliament and bear this in mind in future treaties.
Marie-Christine Vergiat (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (FR) In the face of an unprecedented attack on the sovereignty of the people, the European Parliament has today voted in favour of a resolution that says very little. The Heads of State or Government meeting in Brussels this week has come to an agreement on a draft treaty that includes the following: incorporating the golden rule into the Member States’ constitutions; the reversed qualified majority rule (whereby a minority of States can take sanctions against a State that does not abide by the Maastricht criteria); the introduction of the automatic correction mechanism for national budgets, although the details of the criteria on which it will be based and the institutions that will oversee the system are yet to be finalised … by the Commission. The Confederal Group of the European United Left – Nordic Green Left has once again opposed this denial of democracy. In response to the shift of sovereignty that has taken place without the slightest involvement of the people, the European Parliament has contented itself with asking for Parliament’s President to attend euro area summit meetings. The only way to combat this anti-democratic austerity dogma is to mobilise the people and demand referendums.
Marina Yannakoudakis (ECR), in writing. – With some irony, I use a French expression to describe my reaction to this report: déjà vu. When will the European Parliament get it into its head that more Europe is not the answer to the current financial crisis? When will the European Parliament stop rearranging deckchairs on the Titanic and get down to the business of creating growth and jobs by completing the single market and promoting free trade with countries like India? And when, oh when, will the European Parliament realise that no matter how many resolutions it passes calling for an EU-wide financial transaction tax, that no such tax is going to materialise? The European Parliament may wail, gnash its teeth or whimper like a petulant child who wants a bicycle for Christmas, but it will not change the fact that taxation is a decision which needs to be taken unanimously by the Member States and the United Kingdom will not relent in its opposition to an EU-only tax. This is why the FTT will not happen. There are countless other reasons why it shouldn’t happen, first among which is the fact that even according to the Commission’s own figures, it would be tremendously damaging to Europe’s economy.
Inês Zuber (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (PT) Once they had overcome their momentary ‘indignation’ with the way in which the European Parliament was ignored in the decision relating to the fiscal compact, made through the intergovernmental treaty driven by the Franco-German directorate, the majority of the groups in the European Parliament – the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats), the Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe, the Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance and the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament – have adopted this decision supporting the Council’s decisions, without any problems. In other words, they have approved the path of institutionalising and perpetuating ideas of so-called ‘austerity policies’, which are nothing more than a way of promoting the accumulation of capital and voting the people and workers into unemployment, exploitation and poverty. As for us, we are in no doubt that this path is not in the interests of the workers and people, so we voted unequivocally against this resolution.
Robert Goebbels (S&D), in writing. – (DE) I have not voted against the motion for a resolution because I do not wish to add my voice to the baying pack of anti-European hounds. Nonetheless, I abstained in protest against such a foolhardy and dangerous development. The agreement between the 25 countries is outside the ambit of any of the EU’s Treaties. Nonetheless, two key institutions, the Commission and the European Court of Justice, are to play an important role here. This is open to legal challenge. The Treaty is to apply to 25 EU countries, but will come into force once 12 countries have ratified it. What happens if a country fails to ratify it, or if a nation decides against ratification? Will the Treaty remain in force for all? The main element in the Treaty is its sole focus on austerity as a means for all policies. The German concept of a debt brake mechanism will not be applied in Germany until 2016 or 2019. No one knows whether this will work. Nonetheless, it is to be enshrined in constitutions throughout Europe. I am opposed to this,
Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. – (PT) I am voting for the sanctions set by the Council to increase the restrictive measures already in place against Iran, since the country is demonstrating a severe inability to cooperate with the international authorities for monitoring nuclear activities. I also think all the diplomatic efforts available to the European External Action Service should be kept up: it should approach Iran for dialogue on a wider range of issues, not just the nuclear one.
Pino Arlacchi (S&D), in writing. – I voted for this resolution because, thanks to the adoption of the amendment tabled jointly by the S&D and the Greens, it clearly states that the outstanding issues with Iran over its nuclear programme must be solved peacefully and that a military solution to the conflict is not even conceivable. It is also of fundamental importance to reiterate that, contrary to some states already in possession of nuclear weapons, Iran is a member of the Non-Proliferation Treaty and, as such, allows for inspections of its nuclear installations by the International Atomic Energy Agency. I support the Council double-track approach, but I believe that the sanctions must be carefully targeted at and proportionate to the objective pursued. The restrictive measures should be aimed at striking the power elites of a repressive regime, minimising as far as possible the adverse impact on the civilian population, especially the most vulnerable groups.
Sophie Auconie (PPE), in writing. – (FR) Through this joint resolution, for which I voted, we are supporting sanctions against the Iranian regime. We are also expressing our condemnation of the fact that China and Russia persist in refusing to impose sanctions. We are backing Europe’s additional restrictive measures, while at the same time supporting the Council in its ‘commitment to work for a diplomatic solution to the Iranian nuclear issue in accordance with the dual-track approach’. We urge the Iranian authorities to respond positively to the offer of talks, and to cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Iran must return to the negotiating table as soon as possible.
Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D), in writing. – (LT) The EU foreign ministers have agreed upon additional restrictive measures against Iran in many sectors. A phased embargo of Iranian crude oil imports to the EU has been introduced, measures are being taken against the Central Bank of Iran, and further export restrictions have been imposed. These measures reflect the serious and growing concern regarding possible military dimensions to Iran’s nuclear programme. There is no effective dialogue between the West and Iran and there has been a dangerous increase in tension in the Gulf region. However, the objective of the EU is still to achieve a comprehensive and long-term settlement, which would build international confidence in an Iranian nuclear programme that is designed exclusively for peaceful purposes. I agree that when tackling this issue, we should pursue a diplomatic solution to the nuclear crisis by all means and avoid armed conflict, and the humanitarian implications of the additional sanctions against Iran should be thoroughly evaluated and monitored.
Zoltán Bagó (PPE), in writing. – (HU) In the interest of the European Union and its Member States, as well as international peace, I voted in favour of Parliament’s resolution on Iran and its nuclear programme.
Over the past few months, Iran has acted on several points to undermine the European Union’s efforts towards international peace. It did so, among other things, by continuously violating Articles 2 and 3 of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, shrouding its nuclear programme in secrecy, and threatening to block the Strait of Hormuz, which could have severe implications regarding the supply of crude oil to Europe given the Strait’s strategic importance. This measure could also undermine the current, relatively peaceful situation in the region.
Based on the aforesaid, and on the report of the International Atomic Energy Agency, I believe that Iran’s nuclear programme does not serve peaceful purposes, and that the penalties already imposed and those to be given effect on the basis of the Council decision of 23 January 2012 are therefore justified and serve a peaceful international world order and the interests of the European Union.
Adam Bielan (ECR), in writing. – (PL) It is with great concern that I have been observing the development of the nuclear programme in Iran in recent years. Due to the country’s ever decreasing willingness to cooperate in the area of international security, our direct participation and engagement in solving this problem is vital. An additional risk is the possible destabilisation of the Middle East, especially in view of the strained relations between Tehran and Israel. I support the resolution and I back the call for the Iranian regime to stop work on the development of equipment that may be used to obtain nuclear weapons, and to respect UN Security Council resolutions as well as international nuclear non-proliferation agreements. I appeal to the Tehran authorities to return to the negotiating table. Only full cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the provision of indisputable evidence proving the peaceful nature of the activities which are being carried out may prevent a regional arms race and avert the threat to global peace and security.
Mara Bizzotto (EFD), in writing. – (IT) I voted for the joint resolution on the Iranian nuclear programme. I support Parliament’s position, as it reminds Iran of its obligations entered into under international law with its commitment to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, and expresses concern about recent developments in the matter that do not appear to be leading to a positive outcome. The process of uranium enrichment in Iran is continuing undisturbed, far beyond what technicians from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) consider necessary for guaranteeing civil energy supplies. Iran must comply with the many UN and IAEA resolutions as soon as possible, otherwise there is the risk of a dangerous escalation that would be anything but diplomatic, one which the whole world, particularly at a time of such serious financial crises and economic instability, would prefer by far to avoid.
Sebastian Valentin Bodu (PPE), in writing. – (RO) Iran’s nuclear programme continues to have the attention of the international community focused on it, while the events of recent days confirm that we are far from identifying any solutions. The mission from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), intended to clarify the ‘grey’ areas in Iran’s nuclear programme, ended on Tuesday without showing any obvious signs of progress. Although the IAEA’s investigation has been ongoing for eight years, it has been unable to establish so far whether Iran’s nuclear programme is purely for peaceful purposes, as has been constantly maintained by Iran’s leaders, or for military purposes as well. I welcome the unanimous backing given by European Union foreign ministers last week to impose an embargo on Iranian crude oil, but this is only a first step. The reaction from officials in Tehran was to be expected, with the Iranian Parliament wishing to approve a bill suspending completely oil exports from Iran to Member States of the European Union before the European embargo on Iranian oil fully comes into force. This is why the steps aimed at continuing dialogue must be supported and increased so that these situations can be successfully resolved through diplomatic channels.
Corina Creţu (S&D), in writing. – (RO) The steps that Iran has taken towards obtaining enriched uranium for military purposes blatantly violate the UN Security Council resolutions and alarmingly inflame the tension in the Middle East. International pressure has not yielded any results so far, even if it has involved a European embargo on Iranian oil imports, a ban on contracts and freezing the assets of the Central Bank of Iran. These extremely tough sanctions present the Tehran regime with a clear option: either it gives in, bearing in mind the losses suffered from its second biggest client which used to take a quarter of its oil exports, or it resorts to military confrontation to get away from the economic pressure, based on the model Japan adopted in relation to the US during the Second World War.
The solution for overcoming this deadlock must only be diplomatic. This is why I insist on the EU continuing its actions aimed at resuming dialogue. I hope that the permission granted by Iran to the inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency is indicative of this.
George Sabin Cutaş (S&D), in writing. – (RO) I voted for this resolution on Iran because the European Parliament emphasises in it the need to find a diplomatic solution to the nuclear issue, while expressing its concern about the possible military aspect of Iran’s activities involving uranium enrichment.
Mário David (PPE), in writing. – (PT) First of all, I should like to express my enormous satisfaction in saying that efforts to reach an understanding between the various parliamentary groups in this House have led to a vote on a single motion for a resolution. Our stance on such matters lends dignity to this institution, making our position stronger and therefore potentially more effective. Moreover, in relation to this, I should like to cite the first item in the resolution’s preamble: ‘whereas Iran has, by ratifying the [Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons], foresworn the acquisition of nuclear weapons and is legally bound to declare all its nuclear activities, including nuclear material, and place them under [International Atomic Energy Agency] safeguards’. In view of what is written in that paragraph, the hardening of the European Union’s position is welcome and I hope that the actions of the international community, specifically Russia and China, will be in line with the values that they swore to obey on their accession to the UN, not just regarding this issue, but also in relation to other equally terrible situations; I am referring, specifically, to the Syria issue.
Christine De Veyrac (PPE), in writing. – (FR) I voted in favour of this resolution supporting the European Union’s decision to impose an oil embargo on Iran. This measure will step up the pressure on a regime that is ignoring United Nations resolutions by pursuing a nuclear weapons programme. The oil embargo, spearheaded by France, is a solution that will protect against military intervention by countries that feel threatened, and against a flare-up in the region.
Edite Estrela (S&D), in writing. – (PT) I voted for the resolution on ‘Iran and its nuclear programme’ because I support the decision to adopt sanctions against Iran, but I also believe the EU should continue using diplomatic means to drive the Iranian Government to accept and respect United Nations resolutions.
José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. – (PT) This motion for a resolution concerns Iran and its nuclear programme, and replaces the motions by the Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe, the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament, the European Conservatives and Reformists Group, the Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance and the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats). The political situation in the Middle East, specifically the Persian Gulf, remains very complicated and still has serious consequences for the global economy as a result of the oil industry. Indeed, Iran’s arrogance towards Western countries, and particularly the United States, is the driving force behind the development of a new conflict. Iran, proud of its noble past founded on the history of ancient Persia, is taking on the role of a great power: it is refusing to sit at the negotiating table with the international community and is not allowing access to independent inspectors who could evaluate the implementation of its nuclear programme. At the same time, following several condemnations from international organisations, like the UN Security Council – of which it is a member – and sanctions imposed by the EU and the US, it still fails to respect the most basic human rights. I voted for this resolution, as well as for other proposals already adopted by this Parliament, since the Iranian nuclear programme represents a threat to that region and the world.
João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (PT) The European Union’s decision to impose more unilateral sanctions on Iran simply confirms its subordination to the militarist agenda of the US in the region, as well as the convergence of the geostrategic interests of the two imperialist blocs in the region. It should be remembered that these sanctions follow on from the movement of vast military resources to the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz. It is a decision that has contributed dangerously to escalating a conflict that, as is clear, has nothing to do with seeking peaceful solutions and diplomatic negotiations. This is a decision that seriously threatens Iran’s sovereignty and the Iranian people’s right to live in peace, and it could also have extremely negative economic consequences for several countries. These unilateral sanctions are also profoundly hypocritical, imposed as they are by nuclear powers like the US, France or the UK. Furthermore, the European Union has been continuing its close economic and military cooperation with Israel, one of the countries that has a nuclear arsenal and is acting completely outside the most basic principles of international law.
Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D), in writing. – (SK) It is quite indisputable that Iran is failing to fulfil its international obligations in the area of its nuclear activities. If its international obligations are to be anything more than a scrap of paper, they must be both enforceable and enforced. In this respect, it is right and proper that the EU has resorted to sanctions. It must be ensured, however, that the sanctions are effective and that the leaders of the regime, who can change things, suffer, and not ordinary Iranians who are not responsible for the situation.
Apart from sanctions, however, the greatest possible emphasis must be placed on the second dimension of diplomatic relations with Iran, that is, namely negotiations. Baroness Ashton, the ministers of the Member States and the Council should initiate a dialogue with Iran. This should not only be about the disputed and sensitive issue of Iran’s nuclear programme, but also about other topics, such as stability in the region, relations with neighbours, and human rights.
If a consensus could be reached in one area, if a partnership of trust can be established, then there will be a greater chance of agreement in other areas, including the nuclear programme. I am therefore of the opinion that the diplomatic activity of European representatives with regard to Iran should be multi-faceted and should include efforts to emphasise diplomacy in the original sense of the word; that is to say, negotiations.
Nathalie Griesbeck (ALDE), in writing. – (FR) The European Union is firmly committed on a daily basis to promoting peace and security everywhere in the world, particularly through the voice of the European Parliament. Despite repeated calls from the international community, Iran is continuing to develop its nuclear programme. I therefore voted in favour of this resolution calling for new sanctions against Iran, primarily in the form of a phased embargo on crude oil imports. However, it is important that the sanctions are targeted in order to spare the Iranian people as much as possible and to force Iran’s leaders to return to the negotiating table. The Iranian crisis must be resolved by diplomatic, not military means. This is the point I wished to reassert, together with my fellow Members of the European Parliament, by voting in favour of this resolution.
Ian Hudghton (Verts/ALE), in writing. – I fully share this House’s concerns regarding Iran’s nuclear development. I represent the SNP, a party which opposes weapons of mass destruction, in principle, and rejects nuclear energy as a viable energy source.
Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. – (LT) I voted in favour of this document because the proliferation risks in connection with the Iranian nuclear programme remain a source of serious concern to the European Union. It is worrying that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report claims that there is reliable information that Iran has carried out activities relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device. Iran’s enrichment activities potentially violate six United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions and 11 IAEA Board resolutions, as demonstrated by the recent start of operations to enrich uranium to a level of up to 20% in the underground facility in Fordow near Qom. Iran must immediately stop its development of enrichment technology, which is far beyond the necessities to ensure a secure fuel supply for civil purposes and demonstrates disregard for international concerns over clandestine military intentions. There is a need to enter into meaningful and constructive discussions in order to completely address issues of concern regarding the nuclear programme.
Tunne Kelam (PPE), in writing. – I voted in favour of this resolution. For years, Europe and the world have observed with growing concern the Iranian nuclear plans. Unfortunately, until now, these concerns have only resulted in declarations without actions. It is extremely important that Europe has now finally decided to act and to impose clear and real sanctions upon Iran. Iran has to stop any nuclear plans that have military components. And it has to allow independent international specialists to observe and have a close look at its plans. The IAEA has to be allowed to enter the Iranian nuclear sites to see the real situation. I find it very regrettable that similar sanctions cannot be imposed at UN level, due to the Chinese and Russian veto. The EU needs to push for consistent sanctions also at UN level and remind China and Russia of their obligations, and call especially on Russia to halt any proliferation to Iran contributing to the nuclear plans.
Philippe Juvin (PPE), in writing. – (FR) This resolution expresses the deep concern felt by the Members of the European Parliament over the potential military side of the Iranian programme. It is especially significant as it has been adopted at the very time that the European Union has decided to impose unprecedented, far-reaching sanctions on Iran, in the form of an embargo on oil imports from Iran and a freeze on the Iranian Central Bank’s assets. As a member of the European Parliament delegation for relations with Iran and the Subcommittee on Security and Defence, and as someone who is particularly committed to these matters, I voted in favour of this resolution.
Patrick Le Hyaric (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (FR) I abstained from voting on this report. Although I am in favour of diplomatic and trade sanctions in order to put pressure on the Iranian regime to halt its nuclear weapons programme, I fear that this resolution could pave the way for military intervention that would be dangerous. We must devise sanctions that are targeted against individual Iranian leaders or specific economic sectors without harming the Iranian people. Under no circumstances must these sanctions pave the way for military action which, sadly, is the implication behind this report.
David Martin (S&D), in writing. – I voted against the idea of a military solution to the nuclear conflict with Iran.
Mario Mauro (PPE), in writing. – (IT) It is very serious that Iran has not yet complied with the obligations of all the United Nations Security Council resolutions. Tehran’s uranium enrichment programme is also a source of considerable concern. I agree with the idea contained in the resolution for a gradual embargo against the Iranian regime. I voted in favour.
Jean-Luc Mélenchon (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (FR) The oil embargo may be an effective deterrent. However, we must not ignore the inevitable impact it will have on the Iranian people. This resolution also contains an implied threat of military intervention against Iran. What better to rally Iranians around the idea that they need nuclear arms in order to defend themselves, and what better way to radicalise the Iranian regime, just a few weeks before the general election?
This resolution has no spine. The sanctions must be aimed solely at political and economic leaders. The escalation of military tensions must stop. They must be replaced instead by a regional conference on peace and the denuclearisation of the Middle East under the auspices of the United Nations, and to real, progressive multilateral nuclear disarmament by all the nuclear powers.
Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. – (PT) The risks of proliferation relating to the Iranian nuclear programme remain a source of deep concern for the EU, and we have to express serious apprehension about the declaration in the International Atomic Energy Agency report, according to which reliable information indicates that Iran has been undertaking activities relating to manufacturing a nuclear explosive device. It is essential that Iran immediately stop developing enrichment technology, which is far beyond the needs of ensuring a secure supply of fuel for civilian purposes, and ignoring international concerns about clandestine military intentions. If not, a phased embargo on imports of Iranian crude oil to the EU will have to be implemented and it will be possible for the contracts already concluded to be implemented until 1 July 2012. The Council should adopt the measures needed to alleviate the consequences of the embargo for the various EU Member States.
Miroslav Mikolášik (PPE), in writing. – (SK) The deliberate and systematic concealment of nuclear activities and refusal to cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency is leading to justified serious concerns that Iran really does intend to develop nuclear weapons. The repeated ignoring of the resolutions of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the UN Security Council and the European Parliament is, in my opinion, becoming sufficient reason to adopt additional sanctions against Iran.
I consider the conciliatory wait-and-see approach in the hope that Iran will one day return to the right path of its own accord to be unrealistic. Since Iran is not cooperating, and therefore proof cannot be obtained that it is not breaching its obligations stemming from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, it is necessary to act in the interest of protecting the peaceful coexistence of nations.
In this area, the Member States should act consistently with this objective and examine thoroughly whether, under their trading relationships, they have not exported technologies that might be used to develop nuclear facilities for military purposes. For these reasons, I support the adoption of the resolution of the European Parliament.
Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. – New sanctions, particularly an embargo on the import of crude oil to the EU, will help to persuade the Iranian Government to observe UN resolutions. Therefore, I would like to have sanctions to be aimed only at those responsible for violence and not to touch upon the population, especially the poor. The European Parliament calls on the Iranian authorities not to block the Strait of Hormuz, believing that such a step may result in regional conflict and provoke repressive actions from the international community. I support the Council of Europe in its determination to find a diplomatic resolution of the Iranian nuclear issue and achieve a reliable global solution. I voted in favour.
Claudio Morganti (EFD), in writing. – (IT) I voted for this joint resolution because it strongly condemns Iran for its nuclear programme and for the entire dangerous and destabilising strategy being conducted by its regime. Iran has never shown itself willing to actively cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). This fact is even more serious if you consider that Iran is among the signatories of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, of which it has blatantly flouted several clauses. The EU has done well to react strongly to the many provocations, and I support the choice of an embargo. We cannot tolerate the continuous threats to other countries, Israel first and foremost, which risk plummeting the situation in the Middle East, which is always a difficult one, into chaos. Europe must show that it is strong and united in order to combat any possible proliferation of nuclear weapons in Iran, because this would be a danger to the entire surrounding area and to the whole of the Western world.
Radvilė Morkūnaitė-Mikulėnienė (PPE), in writing. – (LT) The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report has set off a danger signal for the whole world. The military dimension to Iran’s nuclear programme poses a direct threat to the Middle East, above all Israel, and global peace and security. Iran is a member of the Non-Proliferation Treaty and the existence of a military dimension would therefore be a flagrant violation of international law. Due to the lack of cooperation from Iran, the 27 Member States of the EU have unanimously agreed new sanctions and continue to call for Iran to return to the negotiating table. Iran must immediately provide answers to all the questions that arise, resume negotiations, and provide IAEA inspectors with full access to documents, sites, infrastructure and people. Those Members of the UN Security Council providing nuclear technology and expert knowledge to Iran must freeze such exports, eschewing narrow economic and political interests and becoming aware of their responsibility to the world as guardians of global peace, because it is believed that they are cooperating to create a new global threat.
Franz Obermayr (NI), in writing. – (DE) The EU embargo will hit the civilian population in the short term. In the medium term, China will take the opportunity to use the capacities thus made available to cover its own growing energy needs. This would balance the losses from the EU embargo, so that there would be no further pressure on Tehran. In other words, the oil boycott would not achieve the desired effect and the EU would be placed at an even greater disadvantage in geostrategic terms. We will have precisely the situation that exiled Iranians have warned against: the measures will hit the wrong people and will fuel anger against the West in increasingly large swathes of the population. For this reason, the EU should seek to exert a moderating effect on both sides, using all its resources to avoid an escalation. The fundamental aim should be that there should be absolutely no nuclear weapons in the Middle East. Nonetheless, the security of Israel must be guaranteed. Since the motion for a resolution does not move in this direction, I voted against it.
Rolandas Paksas (EFD), in writing. – (LT) I believe that the European Union should take a firm stand and that all issues relating to Iran and its nuclear programme must be resolved by peaceful means. We cannot cross the point of no return. The use of military force and measures is not an effective means of resolving the conflict. It will not produce any results but will only exacerbate differences and increase tension. Military force cannot be used as an instrument for political pressure, particularly now as the world continues to experience economic instability. Consequently, we need to hold constructive negotiations and adopt decisions that satisfy the interests of both parties in order to ensure security of energy supply. It is also very important to ensure that tough sanctions, which should be imposed as a last resort, are effective, adequate and proportionate to the objective pursued.
Alfredo Pallone (PPE), in writing. – (IT) The resolution on Iran’s nuclear programme approved by this Parliament gives voice to the EU’s concerns about the possible military dimensions of the Iranian programme. The UN, EU and International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) have been applying sanctions and embargoes to Iran for years. Unfortunately, by not allowing accurate checks and only reporting part of their activities, the Iranian authorities have put the international community in a position in which it fears that the nuclear programme has a military purpose, which is why sanctions have targeted the oil, gold, diamond and currency markets. These sanctions are an attempt on the part of the international community to put pressure on the Iranian authorities in order to obtain compliance with the UN resolutions and a restarting of credible negotiations re-establishing faith in the civil aims of Iran’s nuclear programme.
Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. – (PT) I voted for this joint motion for a resolution on Iran and its nuclear programme, which calls on the Iranian leaders to meet the country’s obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and urges the Iranian Government and the Iranian Parliament to ratify and implement the additional protocol and to implement fully the Comprehensive Safeguard Agreement.
Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. – (PT) Iran’s nuclear programme has been one of the burning issues of international relations for several years. The data that have been disseminated suggest that, having committed to not acquiring or developing weapons of this sort as a party to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Iran is currently in breach of the obligations that bind it under that treaty. In view of the risks associated with weapons of this sort as regards the geopolitical balance in the region, for a start, there is justification for the adoption by the EU authorities of compulsory measures that will contribute to a rapid change in policy by the Iranian authorities. I voted for this motion for a resolution for these reasons.
Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – In favour. Although paragraph 4, which ‘supports the new sanctions’, was adopted, overall, the tendency of the resolution has developed very much in the direction of favouring a peaceful and negotiated solution. Three of our six amendments were equally adopted: Amendment 3 replacing ‘eventual military intervention’ by ‘further escalation’ (with 350 to 266 votes); Amendment 4 reiterating the EP position that the conflict has to be solved peacefully; Amendment 5 welcoming the recent IAEA delegation to Iran. Those that were rejected are: our Amendments 1, 2, 6 on the dangers of nuclear energy; reduction of oil and gas consumption in Europe; condemnation of all acts of aggression (against the UK embassy or against Iranian scientists or infrastructure).
Sergio Paolo Francesco Silvestris (PPE), in writing. – (IT) In the context of a dual-track strategy towards Iran, the sanctions agreed by the EU aim to put sufficient pressure on the Iranian authorities for them to comply with the UN and international Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) resolutions and to enter into credible negotiations that will restore complete faith in the exclusively peaceful nature of the Iranian nuclear programme among the international community. I support the embargo decision in view of the concerns that the Iranian nuclear programme has aroused in the international community due to suspicions that it has a military dimension, which have been accentuated since the publication of the IAEA’s latest report on 18 November 2011. The conclusions of the Foreign Affairs Council also express concerns about the Iranian nuclear programme, illustrating the restrictive measures adopted and repeating the objective of finding a diplomatic solution to the problem and the request made to Iran to agree to the latest offer of discussions contained in the letter sent to the Iranian authorities by Baroness Ashton on 21 October last. I hope that the situation can return to normal as soon as possible, also in view of the possible negative repercussions that the embargo would have on energy supplies to the EU.
Marek Siwiec (S&D), in writing. – I would like to express my deep concern on the situation in Iran and its nuclear power. That is why I had to vote against Amendments 3 and 4, which exclude every serious threat against the country that openly refuses to cooperate with the international authorities. Sanctions adopted by the Council are necessary as a way to convince the Iranian authorities to stop developing enrichment technology, but the diplomatic solution to the Iranian issue may not be sufficient and – as precisely said in the report – has not achieved its stated goals. I am deeply convinced that there is no better way to solve the conflicts than a peaceful way. But the European message should be clear and strong – the eventuality of military intervention will appear if Iran openly poses a threat to world peace, if Iran continues to develop its nuclear programme without providing all the information to the international community, with disregard of UN resolutions and without readiness to start a real international dialogue.
Francisco Sosa Wagner (NI), in writing. – (ES) I have abstained due to Amendment 4, as the last line should have been written in the following way: ‘unless a military solution is called for with the agreement of the United Nations and pursuant to the provisions of international law’.
Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. – (PT) The deterioration of EU-Iran relations has been having undeniable repercussions since 2005. The Iranian authorities’ failure to cooperate with the competent authorities, specifically the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), over the course of the implementation of their nuclear programme has impeded the development of profitable relations between Iran and the international community. These differences, and the suspicion that the nuclear programme has military rather than peaceful aims, led the UN Security Council to adopt resolutions in 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2010. The recent phased sanctions on Iran imposed by the EU are in line with the latest IAEA rapporteur, of November 2011, who accuses Iran of developing nuclear technology for military ends. I completely support the imposition of new sanctions on the embargo on oil and associated products, but phasing the sanctions themselves demonstrates a lack of clarity and political will, since the full measure will only come into force in July, following reassessment in May. Iran’s threats, in particular, its threat to close the Strait of Hormuz, are clear indications that there is an urgent need to return to diplomatic negotiations, since stability in the region is essential to maintaining world peace.
Dominique Vlasto (PPE), in writing. – (FR) I voted in favour of this resolution in order to support the EU’s decisions to increase the pressure on Iran. Iran’s attitude is an affront and an act of defiance against our model of society, our values and our security. Iran’s belligerent language and its aim to acquire nuclear energy are an undeniable threat to world peace, especially in a highly unstable region. Nevertheless, while it is important to keep up the pressure on this despotic regime, we must continue the political dialogue; otherwise, we could face an escalation whose outcome is in no way certain. I share the worries of western leaders who are concerned about Iran’s influence in the region and its support for authoritarian and despotic regimes. I welcome the sanctions that the EU has decided to impose, and firmly hope that we can enter into honest negotiations and reach a rapid resolution of this crisis in the making. War is never the solution, and an armed intervention would have disastrous consequences. Lastly, I would like to spare a thought for the Iranian people, held hostage by dogmatic, bloodthirsty leaders who govern them by repression, intimidation and deprivation. The EU must make every possible effort to soften this hard-line regime that has clearly gone mad.
Inês Zuber (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (PT) The European Union’s recent decision to impose more unilateral sanctions on Iran simply confirms the imperialist nature of the EU and its complete subordination to the militarist agenda of the US in the region, which has already moved vast military resources to the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz. It is a decision that has contributed dangerously to escalating a conflict that, as is clear, has nothing to do with seeking peaceful solutions and diplomatic negotiations. In the current context, a potential military conflict would not just represent an attack on the Iranian people’s sovereignty and right to live in peace, but it would have extremely negative economic consequences for several countries. It is also important not to forget that these unilateral sanctions are being imposed hypocritically by nuclear powers like the US, France and the UK, and that the European Union has continued its close economic and military cooperation with Israel, one of the countries that acts completely outside the most basic principles of international law. The resolution in question unequivocally supports sanctions on oil exports, which will clearly hit the Iranian economy and, thus, the entire Iranian people. We will not agree to this attack on the Iranian people.
Damien Abad (PPE) , in writing. – (FR) I decided to support this report, as it aims to ‘clean up’ the world of sport in Europe, by creating a European database of hooligans, placing doping on a par with illegal drug trafficking and regulating the profession of sports agent. It is a non-binding resolution, in which Parliament calls for: ‘supporters who have displayed violent or discriminatory behaviour’, as well as homophobic or racist behaviour, to be banned from all European stadiums, and calls for the creation of a European database for this purpose. It calls for all fraudulent activities (match fixing, money laundering and illegal betting) to be made a criminal offence and for trafficking in doping substances to be placed on a par with illegal drug trafficking. It also calls for a licensing system to be introduced for betting agents, and for the profession of sports agent to be regulated by creating a European register of agents. It would state which players they represent and would require agents to have a minimum qualification.
Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. – (PT) I am voting for this report because the EU should make use of sport’s potential for social integration, and for combating racism, intolerance and violence. The Union should, therefore, encourage all Europeans to participate in healthy activities. As such, sport should be retained as a compulsory subject in school curricula and everyone should have access to decent sports facilities. Moreover, in line with the concerns expressed by the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament, I, too, believe disabled people should be given better access to sport, and protection for minors in competitive sport should be increased.
Laima Liucija Andrikienė (PPE), in writing. – I voted in favour of the resolution giving the EP reaction on the European Commission’s communication on sport of 18 January 2011, which is the first contribution to define new EU competences for sport. I support the Commission position as the proposed policy promotes an increase in the social role and a healthy lifestyle, combats doping and violence, gives benefits to the economy and will ensure better governance in sport. Furthermore, the report stresses the fact that sport can contribute to the strategic objectives of the European Union, given its educational and cultural value. However, in the future, the European Union has to create a future specific programme on sport with a view to defining and supporting a real European dimension in sport. We, Members of the European Parliament, believe in actions at EU level such as a focus on doping, trafficking, mobility of athletes, racism and violence and on the fight against criminal activities such as money laundering, match fixing, human trafficking and exploitation of minors.
Roberta Angelilli (PPE), in writing. – (IT) Sport plays an important role in the lives of European citizens. There can be no doubt about that when you consider that public sporting events involve 35 million amateur sportspeople. However, sport also plays an important role in the European economy. As an industry, it provides work for around 15 million people and has an added value of around 3.65% of the EU’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Therefore, I believe it is necessary to promote sport in a European dimension, taking into account the benefits to people’s health as well as on a social, cultural and economic level. Sport needs to be promoted to make it an activity accessible to all, and to develop its role in promoting peace, economic development, intercultural dialogue, integration and women’s emancipation. Sport is also an effective way of reinforcing Europe’s identity and, at a time such as this, it would be a good idea to dedicate a specific funding programme to it.
Sophie Auconie (PPE), in writing. – (FR) I welcome the approval of the report on the European dimension in sport as it finally recognises the value of sport as an important factor in the EU’s economic growth. It talks, for example, about supporting sports for girls by removing all obstacles, including religious and cultural barriers. In this respect, one important change will be to ensure that women are better represented in sports governing bodies. The report also proposes to establish a blacklist of violent supporters, or ‘hooligans’, and to continue the fight against doping, illegal betting and match fixing. The European Parliament also wishes to ensure that high-level athletes receive a good education, so that sportspeople will have a secure future when they leave their career. Finally, the project for an annual ‘European Day of Sports’ will help to reinforce European identity through sport.
Liam Aylward (ALDE), in writing. – As the first parliamentary report on sport since the Lisbon Treaty gave the EU a new competence for sport, we were delighted to support the recommendations in this report relating to supporting volunteers and grassroots sports, strengthening improving access to training and education for coaches and athletes, promoting traditional sports, eliminating doping and tackling corruption and violence in sport.
The majority of the debate on this report has focused on Article 100 in relation to the use of the EU flag at sporting events. Given the flexible and voluntary nature of the final text, we voted to support this article. The text states that displaying the EU flag is entirely voluntary and up to the Member States and sports organisations to decide whether they will use this option. Given the ‘entirely voluntary’ nature of this option, we supported this text and the strong recommendations of the report on the future of sports policy overall.